Braving the Heat Book 2
by Leora Gonzales
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Yoga instructor Louise Pine is the ultimate caretaker. Everyone around her seems to have an emergency, but Lou hasn’t met a fire she couldn’t put out—until she’s faced with the hunky, bossy firefighter who crashes into her own backyard—and her life. No one tells Lou what to do, yet somehow the guy’s take-charge style makes her tingle . . .
Phoenix “Nix” Jones is used to calling the shots, whether he’s dealing with his younger siblings or taking on a dangerous blaze. Luckily, the fire at Lou’s is a false alarm. But the heat the fit and feisty woman ignites is far from dying out . . .
As the sparks turn into 5-alarm passion, can two strong-willed people end up engulfed by love—or will they crash and burn?
“Lou, I think you may have bitten off more than you can chew with this one…” Louise said to herself as she stared into the flames starting to catch fire in her small fire pit.
Louise reached for the bag of chocolates on the chair next to her. While unwrapping a morsel, she took in the backyard that had become her oasis these last two weeks. Now that Junior was living with her, she couldn’t catch up on her shows in the evening. She was afraid of him walking in and getting an eyeful of zombies. The poor kid had enough on his plate without adding flesh-eating walkers to his bedtime worries. That meant that she had been sneaking into the backyard after his bedtime and lighting a small fire as she sipped, or gulped if she had to be honest, a bottle of wine.
Swirling her sweet red wine in her glass, Louise leaned back in her patio chair. The familiar squeak of the old metal base was comforting as she tried to shake off the day’s stresses.
Her yard was the perfect size for the house. A small wooden deck came off the backdoor with a staircase that flowed down into the yard where her fire pit was centered. Mismatched patio chairs, aka garage sale finds, circled the pavers surrounding the pit, and a tall wooden privacy fence surrounded the entire yard.
It was cozy and perfect and all hers.
Louise washed the chocolate down with the rest of her wine, smacking her lips at the deliciousness of the combination. Using her fireplace poker, she stoked the fire a bit before propping her feet up at the edge of the stones to absorb the warmth. Even though it was early October, they had already had a few cold days in Larryville this year. The fire, combined with the leaves rustling from the crisp breeze, made her wish for spiced cider and Halloween movies.
It was perfect…until she heard the sirens. Sirens that sounded like they were getting closer and closer to her house at the end of her block. Was there a fire next door?
Louise tried to turn a bit in her chair to peer over the fence, but she couldn’t see anything besides darkness. The neighborhood had only one streetlight, and most of the other houses on the block were unlit. Her
neighbors usually weren’t outside much once it cooled down in autumn, which meant quiet nights for Lou by the fire.
Louise worried for a moment that Harold, her elderly neighbor, may have hurt himself and made a 911 call. Relaxing, she remembered that Harold’s daughter had picked him up for a trip to an out-of-town family
reunion for the weekend.
Sending up a silent prayer that the sirens wouldn’t wake Junior, Louise refilled her wine glass, pouring all the way to the rim.
Carefully holding the glass as steadily as possible, she was just getting ready to sip the excess off the top when a huge crash knocked down her back gate. The large wooden door fell haphazardly onto her mismatched potted plants that edged the walkway into the backyard.
Startled by the noise, she jerked her hand, sloshing over half of the red wine out of the glass and down the front of her white robe.
“Mother—” Louise yelped as she tried to figure out what was going on.
Firefighters streamed into her yard, stumbling over the now broken and knocked down wooden gate. Hauling gear that she had no idea the purpose of, they stopped and stared at her as she sat next to her cozy little fire pit.
“What the he—” One of the firefighters scratched his chin under the fastening on his helmet strap as he looked around the backyard.
Louise stood up, somewhat unsteadily, clutching her wet robe closed. “What’s going on? Why did you break down my gate? Can you turn off that siren?” she demanded, rapidly firing her questions at the group of
men still standing around staring at her. When no answers were given, she snapped her fingers to get their attention and raised her voice. “What’s going on?” Louise held out the hand still holding her glass and pointed at the gate, “I sure as hell hope you guys plan on fixing that!” The big guy in front jerked his head toward another fireman. The action must have been some unspoken command since the other fireman immediately spoke into his walkie-talkie, “Cut the siren.”
“Ma’am.” The man who had been leading the charge on her poor defenseless gate stepped forward and pointed at her fire. “We received a call from this residence saying there was a fire at the back of the house.”
Louise gestured to the pit as if she were explaining it to a person hard of hearing. “Of course there is. I have a fire pit.”
“We can see that—” He moved closer to her. “Is that blood? Are you injured?”
Not waiting for her to answer, the man walked right up to her and opened the front of her robe. A robe that was covering her pajamas. Pajamas that consisted of a thin tight tank top and some booty shorts that
had seen better days.
Whipping open the front of her robe, he looked for a reason the entire front of her body would be covered in red. Using large but gentle hands, the mystery man probed her chest, his hands sweeping over her
now hard nipples.
“You’re not hurt.” His voice husky, the firefighter pulled her robe closed, making sure not to let the men behind him see what he had uncovered.
“Wait, did you say that you received a call from this residence?” Louise asked in a hushed whisper now that her small street was once again quiet.
“Yes, ma’am.” The man nodded before taking off his helmet and sending her a crooked smile.
Louise felt her mouth go dry at the sight of the gorgeous man in front of her. Damn. Firefighters were apparently the stuff that calendars were made of if this guy was anything to go by. The sight of his dark wavy hair and twinkling eyes was almost enough to distract her from what he had said.
Almost, but not enough.
“Junior,” Louise said quickly, before rushing up the deck stairs and through the back door.
Leora Gonzales is an original Kansas girl who misses the Sunflower State every day. She spends time reading, writing . . . and making sure her two kids don’t kill themselves or each other. She's addicted to tattoos, good food, good company—and finding lots of reasons to laugh or smile every day.
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