Authors: Jessica Coulter Smith
Tags: #BIN 07693-02481
Jessica Coulter Smith
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2016 Jessica Coulter Smith
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Jessica Coulter Smith
From hot, sexy, and available to single dad, this firefighter’s life’s going up in smoke.
When Cosmir had a one-night stand all those years ago, he never dreamed that there would be consequences, but one look at small Katy’s face and he can’t deny that she’s his. His life is hectic and full of danger, but like it or not he’s now responsible for someone other than himself, and he works hard to carve out a place in his life for the adorable toddler.
Caitlyn has already felt the burn from loving a fireman once and she refuses to do it again. When a fire claims everything in her life, she’s forced to accept an offer she would have never otherwise contemplated. Moving in with Cosmir not only gives her a place to sleep -- other than her brother’s couch -- but she’s able to live with him rent free, in exchange for watching the enchanting little girl with the pansy colored eyes.
What starts as an arrangement of convenience turns to something more as the three spend more time together. Cosmir begins to wonder if the woman of his heart has been right under his nose the entire time, and Caitlyn realizes that sometimes you have to give love a second chance.
Cosmir faced the Vid-comm and the council with trepidation. He knew he’d screwed up, but he didn’t know how to fix it. He hadn’t lied to Jacie, had only said what he knew every other warrior on Zelthrane-3 would be thinking, but his words had caused her anger and pain. It had been important to keep her calm during her pregnancy.
“Jacie’s babies have been born,” Larimar said. “And they are doing well, despite the stress you caused their mother.”
“I never meant to cause Jacie harm,” Cosmir said. “I came back to Earth so that my presence wouldn’t bother her. I’ve done every job asked of me since then, and I’ve asked for little in return. What more do you want from me?”
Larimar sighed. “I know it isn’t fair to ask this of you, but would you remain on Earth a little while longer? At least long enough for Jacie to settle into her role of motherhood? Barimere is still ticked that you called his daughter defective.”
“If our roles were reversed, I’d feel the same way. I’ll stay longer, at least a year, maybe two. But I’d like to get a job outside of the Terran station. I want to do something meaningful with my life.”
“I think that would be a wise decision.” Larimar smiled. “I think being on Earth will be good for you, and just maybe you’ll find your mate. If you do find a woman you wish to spend your life with, the council will approve the mating without question. I feel like we owe you something for sending you away from your home.”
“It was reasonable to ask me to leave,” Cosmir said. “What I did was wrong, and I realize that now. I only said what others would be thinking, but I should have thought about how it would make Jacie feel. She’s right to love her daughter unconditionally, and I’m sure Jenny will make a great addition to our people.”
Larimar nodded. “The baby is quite adorable.”
“Tell Jacie and Barimere that I’m sorry.”
“If you need anything, please contact me. Will you remain near the Terran station?”
“No, I think I’ll move elsewhere, have a true fresh start, as the humans like to say. I’ve thought about becoming a fireman and have looked into some training programs. There’s a place in Texas about an hour from a Terran station that is seeking recruits. They’ll send me through the fire academy at their cost and I’ll be given a full-time job when I get out.”
“It sounds like you have everything figured out. Keep in touch, Cosmir. You’re still one of my favorite warriors and I don’t want you to ever feel like we’ve abandoned you. You made a mistake, but it’s one that can be forgiven.”
“Thank you, Larimar.”
Cosmir watched the screen go black. He exited the meeting room, but he wasn’t ready to return to his room just yet. Not alone, at any rate. Since coming to Earth, he’d realized that there were hundreds of women who were more than willing to sleep with an alien with no strings attached. They didn’t expect a commitment, just bragging rights. It should shame him that he’d had such casual sex without paying for a professional, but the women he’d slept with didn’t seem to mind the no-strings approach, not as long as he used one of those condom things. Personally, he hated the way they felt, but he agreed that conceiving a child with anyone other than his mate would be a disaster. Even if he found his mate, he wasn’t sure he was ready for children just yet.
As he prowled through the station, a blonde caught his eye. She had come-hither eyes and her glossy lips just begged for a kiss. She was the exact opposite of the kind of woman he’d want as his wife, but for just one night she’d do perfectly.
3 1/2 years later
Cosmir followed the cries to the back of the building, his heart thumping in his chest. Flames licked at his fireproof suit. The building creaked and moaned as the fire consumed everything in its path. Heat enveloped him, causing sweat to bead on his brow, as he stepped through what was left of the lower level. As the walls around him snapped and crackled, the hairs on his nape lifted. He drew nearer to the cries and ruefully shook his head when he saw the basket of kittens. He could have sworn it was a child calling out to him when he’d stood outside.
Cosmir scooped up the basket and made his way through the fire to the front of the building. He’d no sooner cleared the front door when the second floor collapsed, the
filling his ears as the ground vibrated beneath his feet. His chest tightened with apprehension. If he’d been a moment slower, he’d have been caught in the debris and possibly trapped, if not killed. But then, he hadn’t taken this job to safely sit behind a desk all day.
“You went in for a bunch of cats?” his chief demanded, his face turning a remarkable shade of red as Cosmir approached. If that vein in his forehead throbbed any harder, Cosmir was worried it might rupture.
“I thought I heard a child calling out,” Cosmir said. He handed off the kittens and removed his mask. “But to be fair, I’d probably have gone in for the cats anyway. They have just as much a right to live as a human does.”
Zacharias Templeton shook his head and handed the basket off to another fireman. His jaw was tight and Cosmir could practically hear the chief grinding his teeth. “Get your ass over to the ambulance and let them check you over. I don’t want you grabbing a hose or doing anything else until you’ve been cleared.”
Cosmir frowned. “I made it out before that second floor collapsed. It’s not like I was hurt in there.”
“I gave you an order, Cosmir. Either follow it, or pack your shit when we get back to the firehouse.”
He fought the urge to roll his eyes, knowing damn well the chief wasn’t going to fire him. He was too good at his job, possibly the best on the team, and everyone knew it. Cosmir might not have as much experience as the others, but his life experience as a warrior gave him the courage he needed to run into a burning building. There were times he missed Zelthrane-3, or Terran as the humans called it, but he had a good life here.
Cosmir sat patiently as the EMTs checked him over. By the time they were finished, the fire was almost under control. Smoke filled the sky and ash rained down on the streets. A half hour later, they were on their way back to the station. It was always a race to see who could get to the showers first, as there were only three and the team had to take turns getting cleaned up after a fire.
At the fire station, Cosmir stripped out of his bunker gear and hung it up, leaving his steel-toed boots under the coat and pants. In his bare feet, he went to the bathroom, stopping long enough to get his shampoo and shower gel, and lucked into getting one of the shower stalls. After being surrounded by flames, the cool water felt good on his heated skin. He braced a lavender hand on the tiled wall and let the water sluice over his head and down his back. It didn’t take long to scrub his hair and body, and he had to admit he felt a million times better when he was finished. With a towel wrapped around his waist, he went to his locker and pulled on a fresh uniform.
“So,” Jake said. “This was your first major fire since joining the department. I’d say you’ve been a lucky bastard that all the major fires have happened on the other shift, but you seemed to enjoy running into that building. Still think this is the life you want?”
Cosmir grinned. “Definitely. Even if I did only rescue kittens this time, it still felt nice to make a difference. I’m used to defending my world, protecting those weaker than me when needed. When I realized I was going to make Earth my semi-permanent home, I knew I wanted a job where I could make a difference.”
“You were a warrior though, right? Why not become a cop?”
“I actually know someone who did exactly that, but it didn’t feel like a good fit for me. I don’t want to see the worst of humanity every day. Yes, some of the fires we go to were set on purpose, but mostly they’re accidents.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“I guess it depends. Are you going to ask if aliens are anatomically the same as humans? Because I’ve heard that one a lot.”
Jake snickered. “No, but I’m hoping you are. Your kind has a mating instead of a marriage right?”
“And you mate for life?”
“Yes, but you’re not my type.”
Jake’s smile broadened. “No worries. You aren’t my type either. But… I think you just may be perfect for --”
Cosmir turned toward the very feminine voice and nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw the ebony haired beauty heading their way. The sway of her hips drew his gaze as she sauntered toward them on metallic colored sandals. Her shorts rode low on her hips and left little to the imagination. Where had this goddess been in his entire life?
“Caitlyn. What are you doing at the station?” Jake asked.
“I can’t just surprise my big brother when I’m in the area?” Her gaze scanned Cosmir before a naughty smile flitted across her lips. Before he had time to react, she threw her arms around his neck and planted a kiss on his mouth.
Her tongue flicked his lower lip and he opened to let her in. The taste of her exploded on his tongue and he couldn’t help but wrap his arms around her waist, pulling her tighter against him. Warning bells were going off in his head that he was in danger of imminent meltdown, but damn, the woman could kiss!
She pulled away, a satisfied grin on her face as she turned to face Jake again.