Gentle suspense. Tortured heroes. Mischievous heroines.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Who Doesn't Love a Firefighter Romance?

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Carlisle’s dream of attending culinary school goes up in flames when she accidentally burns down her landlord’s shed while cooking ribs for a contest. Winning the cook-off would have provided enough money for tuition. Now she needs to win to replace the damaged building. Carlisle resigns herself to putting her future on hold while dealing with the problems of the present.

The hot fire chief who puts out the fire makes it clear she’s used up precious resources with her carelessness. He’s furious that she’s wasted his time when he needs every second to track down an arsonist who is escalating dangerously.

The far more serious problem is that Carlisle’s small fire draws the attention of the arsonist who doesn't like anyone stealing the limelight. He comes after her with a frightening single-minded focus. Can Carlisle save herself and their budding romance from the flames of a maniac?
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Copyright 2014 © Daisy Jerico

“I’ll take the ribs instead. Whoa, that’s a big fire. Hey, I think your shed’s on fire.”
“No, I spread the coals out so the meat cooks more evenly. They should absorb the smoky flavor.”
Kelly took Carlisle by the shoulders and turned her around. The two girls stood motionless for a moment. Flames danced across the shed, threatening the overhanging oak tree. The walls of the wooden structure glowed orange against the evening.
“My ribs are burning.” Carlisle lunged forward as a wall of the shed collapsed. Kelly slung her arms around her friend’s waist and dug in her substantial heels, hauling her friend back to safety.
“There’ll be other ribs. We should call 911.”
“There’s a fire extinguisher in the pantry. I think we can take care of this.” Carlisle ran for the kitchen, her lungs screaming for air. The small red can sported rust around the handle. Did they expire? She’d never checked the label in the two years she’d rented. She promised to mend her slacker ways. Please God, let the charge still work.
“One of those itty-bitty ones?” Kelly yelled after her. As Carlisle flung open the flimsy door, she realized Kelly had her phone out. Carlisle raced to the back yard with the small fire extinguisher.
Where to begin? The intense heat burned her face. Carlisle fumbled with the pin on the top. How did the darned thing work?
A rush of air blasted her, throwing her body backwards a couple of steps. Everything sounded muffled as if she had cotton in her ears. She walked away from the mess, defeated. A round metal projectile whistled past her ear—the lid of paint can?
Kelly came back and pushed Carlisle ahead of her as they scuttled around the side of the cottage to let the wall shield them. Kelly held the phone to her mouth, but Carlisle’s ears were ringing too loud to hear what she said. Carlisle gazed, fascinated as the ancient paint in front of her peel up like ribbon on a present. She hadn’t liked yellow anyway. Where would she live if the house went up?
Instead of fading, the ringing became a siren. Kelly put an arm around her shoulders and dragged her to the sidewalk. The fire truck pulled up at the fire hydrant directly in front of her house. Carlisle never noticed the large yellow plug before.
Carlisle grimaced in misery as the men in their bright yellow suits piled out of the truck and began assembling equipment. There were going to be nasty repercussions from this night. Did God hate her so much? She closed her eyes. Please let tonight be a dream instead of a nightmare.
A huge man strode across the lawn, blocking out the light. The backlight made his face invisible, but he walked angry. She stood up and squared her shoulders. She deserved a tongue-lashing.
She shouldn’t have lit the fire near the shed. She knew that now. The entire night had been a terrible mistake. She hated getting yelled at.
He came up and spoke. His lips mesmerized her but his voice sounded under water. She wished she’d learned to lip read. Fire safety would have been handy to know too. She wished she’d done her hair. If Kelly had started a huge fire requiring trucks and a platoon of attractive men, she’d have lipstick on. Carlisle sighed and shook her head. She couldn’t hear him but she surmised he was asking her what happened.
He didn’t look angry, more concerned. Hard planes and strong angles made up his face.
She spoke and her own voice hardly registered in her ears.
“Fire in the backyard got out of hand. Things in the shed exploded whistling and sparking. There must be paint in there. I never looked. I don’t know for sure.” Ribs were history. She knew this guy didn’t care a rat’s rear end for her dreams of glory. He shouted at the men dragging the hose to the backyard.
A lone tear slid out of her eye and tracked from her cheek to her chin. He turned back and patted her shoulder and the small kindness almost brought a flood of tears.
How come she never met men who could be on a calendar—tall, strong and in charge?

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