Firefighter Aidan Donnelly has always battled the flames with trademark icy calm. That is, until a blazing old flame returns--in the shape of sizzling soap star Mackenzie Stafford! Aidan wants to pour water over the unquenchable heat between them. But that just creates more steam....Kenzie is not the delicate, fragile female she looks like. She has one clear objective, and nothing will stand in the way of her goal--well, nothing but the red-hot touch of a certain dangerously sexy fireman, that is!
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July 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Flashback by Jill Shalvis
The fire bell rang for the fourth time since midnight, interrupting Aidan Donnelly in the middle of a great dream in which he was having some fairly creative, acrobatic sex with a gorgeous blonde. The last thing he wanted was to be shaken awake, but apparently sex, imaginary or otherwise, wasn't on his card for the evening.
He was on the last few hours of a double shift from hell. The loudspeaker mounted in one corner of the bunk room was going off, telling him and his crew that they would not be going home in one short hour after all, but back into the field on yet another emergency call.
Putting the blonde back where she belonged, in the file in his brain labeled Hot Erotic Fantasy, Aidan got up to the tune of a bunch of moans and groans from his crew.
So close. He'd been so close to three desperately needed days off....
Across the room Eddie kicked aside the latest issue of Time, which had an entire company of firefighters on the cover. "A lot of good being the sexiest occupation does us," the firefighter grumbled, "when we're too exhausted to take advantage of it."
"Some of us don't need beauty sleep." This from Sam, Eddie's partner. "Like, say, Mr. 2008 here." He slid a look Aidan's way, but Aidan found himself too tired to rise to the bait.
Through no fault of his own, he'd been named Santa Rey's hottest firefighter for 2008. This dubious honor came along with another--being put on the cover of Santa Rey's annual firefighter's calendar. "I told you, I didn't submit my name."
Eddie grinned in the middle of dressing. "No, we did, Mr. 2008."
Aidan gave him a shove, and Eddie fell back to the mattress, snorting out a laugh as he staggered upright again and grabbed his boots. "Yeah, like being that pretty is a hindrance."
"I am not pretty."
No one answered him in words as they pulled on their gear, but several made kissy noises as they headed toward their rigs. Still groggy, and definitely out of sorts, Aidan took the shotgun position next to Ty, his temporary partner, on loan from a neighboring firehouse, since his usual partner Zach was still off on medical leave.
Eddie and Sam grabbed their seats, as well as Cristina and Aaron, another on-loan firefighter, and they were all off into the dark night--or more accurately, the dark predawn morning--following the ambulance, which had pulled out first. The air was thick with dew, and salty from the ocean only one block over. For now the temperature was cool enough, but by midday the California August heat would be in full bloom, and they'd all be dying. Aidan got on the radio to talk to dispatch. "It's an explosion," he told the others grimly.
"Where?" Ty asked.
"The docks." Which could be anywhere from the shipping area, to the houseboats filled with year-round residents. "Only one boat's on fire, but several others are threatened by the flames, with no word on what caused the explosion."
Behind him, Eddie swore softly, and Aidan's thoughts echoed the sentiment. Explosions were trickier than a regular fire, and far more unpredictable.
"Are they calling for backup?" Sam asked.
They needed it. Firehouse Thirty-Four was sorely overworked and dangerously exhausted going into the high fire season. They'd had a rough month. Aidan's partner and best friend Zach had been injured after digging into the mysterious arsons that had plagued Santa Rey. Mysterious arsons that were now linked to one of their own.
Just the thought brought a stab of fresh pain to Aidan's chest. Now Zach was off duty and Blake was dead, leaving them all devastated.
Cristina was especially devastated, and with good reason. She'd been Blake's partner, and the closest to him. She'd suffered like hell over his loss, and also over the arsons he'd been accused of committing.
She blamed herself, Aidan knew, which was ridiculous. She couldn't have stopped Blake.
As it turned out, none of them could have stopped him.
Aidan considered himself pretty damn tough and just about one-hundred-percent impenetrable, but losing Blake had been heart-wrenching. He missed him, and hated what he'd been accused of. He didn't want to believe Blake was dead, and he sure as hell didn't want to believe Blake guilty of arson, and the resulting death of a small boy--none of them did, but the evidence was there. He could hardly even stand thinking about it--classic denial, Aidan knew, but it was working for him. "Dispatch's sending rigs from Stations Thirty-Three and Thirty-Five."
No one said anything to this, but they were all thinking the same thing--it'd take those stations at least ten extra minutes to get on scene from their lo-cations--and the sense of dread only increased as they pulled up to the docks.
Turned out that the fire wasn't at the shipping docks, but where the smaller, privately owned boats were moored at four long docks, each with ten bays. Possibly forty boats in total, many of them occupied.