Read Into the Fire Online

Authors: Keira Ramsay

Tags: #arsonist, #firefighter, #lite bdsm

Into the Fire

INTO THE FIRE

By Keira Ramsay

 

Published and Copyrighted © 2013 T.L.
Schaefer

 

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person
you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase
it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should
purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting my
work.

 

Dedication

As always, my crit partners
made this the very best it could be... Jenn, Pat and Skully, love
you guys! And muchos thanks to the April for the beautiful
cover!

 

Chapter One

Staff Sergeant Nathan
Andrews stared out the window of his rig into the baking heat of a
war zone. He didn’t consciously see the shimmering heat on the
tarmac, the Stryker troop transports and Humvees, or the squads
armed with M-16s and MP5s protecting the embattled airport.
Everything going on around him only registered at the back of his
mind. All he saw was his past, and the one woman he’d never been
able to forget. She’d been on his mind a lot lately, as the days
remaining in his enlistment dwindled to single numbers. He wondered
if the girl from his memory measured up, or if he’d been holding an
imaginary yardstick to other women for eight long years.

Six more days of convoy runs
and planes coming in hot, and he was done, free to find her. If she
was even still in Ludington, or even Michigan, for that
matter...

He loved the time he’d given to the
Air Force, to his country, but that phase of his life was
officially over in less than a week and damned if it didn’t feel
good.

When he’d come to the desert the first
time, many moons ago, he’d thought he’d spend most of his time on
his rig, but these days, anyone who could hold a weapon rode
convoy. He’d done his share of it and expected to do a helluva
sight more even if he was bailing in just a few days. He’d faced an
uncertain future way too many times to take anything for
granted.

He’d head back to the States
with a reasonably decent bankroll, thanks to a butt-load of hazard
pay. He had already lined up a job with a firehouse and bought a
house, sight unseen. The crowd he’d hung with had moved on, so
finding his old flame would be that much harder, but the Air Force
had taught him he was up to a challenge.

He didn’t regret many
things, but walking away from Charly Davis was one of them. They’d
had something special, and he’d pissed it away by acting like a
stupid twenty-year old. Now, with a lifetime of experience crammed
into eight years of service, he realized what they’d had together,
and dammit if he didn’t want it back. Provided he made it out
alive.

He’d had his share of women over the
years, but none had ever wormed into his heart the way Charly had.
No one had made him laugh so freely; no one had brought his cock to
full alert with only a whisper. He’d had something truly special
with her. Yeah, the first thing on his agenda when he returned to
Michigan was tracking down the girl he’d let get away; he just
hoped like hell she wasn’t already hitched.

The radio blared, alerting his crew of
an F-16 coming in hot, and he cleared his mind of everything but
the here-and-now--doing the job and doing it right--because if he
didn’t, someone would probably die. Maybe even him.

* * * *

Detective Charly Davis
popped the trunk of the department-issued sedan and shrugged into
her turnout gear. The smoldering hulk of the video store she was
investigating was highlighted by the red strobes of the rigs which
had extinguished the blaze and the dull glow of the breaking
day.

As much as the exhilaration
of beginning a new investigation pumped her up, she was damned
tired. This was the third connected arson fire in less than two
weeks, and the perp was getting more aggressive with each
successive blaze. It was only a matter of time before he killed
someone, and she’d be damned if she let that happen on her watch.
She’d catch this bastard first, 
before
 someone got
dead.

She’d performed the usual
investigative procedures with the first two fires, looking into the
possibility of insurance fraud or grudges against the business
owners, but she found no red flags in either area or, hell, in any
area. The owners of the buildings had nothing in common: no shared
mortgage holder, insurer or 
anything
. The lack of clues was
frustrating as hell and pointed inexorably to one thing: serial
arson. Jesus, just what she didn’t need.

She scanned the area as she stowed her
sidearm in the lockbox, which was welded to the trunk floor, and
grabbed her evidence case. The usual neighborhood gawkers were
there, but no familiar faces were in the crowd; no one jumped out
at her as being present at the other two fires.

Profiling 101 said firestarters liked
to watch both the fire and the cleanup, and she hadn’t snoozed
through those classes. Her closure record proved that
point.

Around her, the cleanup effort was
already underway. The probies assigned to each truck were busy
walking the attack lines, the heavy rubberized hoses draped over
one shoulder as they let gravity pull the standing water back to
earth. She remembered those days, remembered being the FNG--fucking
new guy--all too well. Now, as an investigator, she was even more
of an outsider than before.

She’d crossed over to the unthinkable.
She’d become a cop. Granted, she was an arson investigator, but in
Ludington, when you went into arson, you went to the police
academy, learned how to fire a weapon, then strapped it on and
donned a badge of a different kind.

As she walked toward the scene, she
got a few nods of acknowledgement from the more senior members of
the crews, but stares from the rooks and younger smoke-eaters.
Female firefighters were enough of an anomaly in small cities like
this, but for a woman to pass the rigorous Firefighter II
certification, while earning a degree in Criminal Justice, was
unprecedented. Her dedication and vision toward the end goal had
earned her the totally trite nickname of “Ice Queen”. Since she’d
accomplished her dream, it didn’t bother her ... much. Now that
she’d reached her goal, she did so enjoy rubbing their noses in
it.

She whipped her long blonde
hair into a ponytail and then donned the red helmet which
designated her as Arson/Homicide, even though everyone at the scene
already knew she was a red-hat. Clicking on her Maglite, she
entered the potential crime scene, her mind settled totally on the
job in front of her.

*

Nate found himself frozen in place by
the woman tucking her hair up into a scarlet helmet. Her back was
turned, so he couldn’t see a damned thing but a waterfall of long,
blonde hair. Still, the sight brought to mind memories long past,
of Charly, a woman who had been his equal in every possible way.
He’d had no luck in tracking her down over the two weeks he’d been
in town, but he’d also been on duty almost continuously; it was one
of the trials of being a probie. To be honest, as much as he’d
vowed to find her, now that he was actually in Michigan, he’d
gotten a raving case of cold feet. What if she was married? Could
he stand knowing another man had what he wanted?

His cock did a sudden jump
to attention as he watched the lithe way the stranger moved beneath
her clunky, form-killing turnouts before disappearing into the
still-smoldering shell of the building. Who in the hell
was 
she
?
Could it possibly be Charly?

He didn’t think he’d uttered the words
aloud, but by the snicker coming from fifteen-year veteran, CC
Jones, he must have. “Don’t even think about it, FNG. She’s the
original Ice Queen. Left us to become an arson investigator. A
freakin’ cop.” CC spat the phrase as if it were an
epithet.

Nate smiled in response. Unlike the
men he now called brothers, he’d worked with women in authority.
Hell, he’d worked with women in the thick of battle on convoy runs.
Some dudes might get their Jockeys in a twist about working with or
for a female, but he wasn’t one of them.

Aside from his instantaneous lust for
a woman of whom he’d seen nothing more than her hair, arson
investigation fascinated him. He knew the basics, but he’d ever had
a chance to explore the details and procedures. Arson fires on Air
Force bases were a specialty job farmed out when the rare human-set
fire occurred. Now that he was a civilian, maybe he would look into
arson investigation.

As the last of the water drained from
the attack hose, he glanced at his watch. At seven-thirty, his
shift had ended an hour ago. He was dying to see what the Ice Queen
looked like out of her turnouts ... and if fate had just given him
the boot to the ass he needed to reignite his old flame.

* * * *

Charly stepped into the morning sunlight and
lifted her face to the heat before taking a long, cleansing
breath.

This was a torch, no doubt
about it. The accelerant trail had been stupidly obvious, almost a
taunt, and hauntingly similar to the two other fires she’d
investigated. Dammit. With those factors, it fell into serial
territory. Even better? Her gut told her this guy was just
starting. She blew out a frustrated breath and headed for her car,
taking a moment to look over the pedestrian traffic patterns and
the scene surrounding the store in general. As before, no one
showed any particular interest, and cars pulled into the parking
slots of adjacent stores as if nothing had happened.

The city patrol unit on-site
would stay until either she dismissed him or the building’s owners
hired a private security guard. A young man with an exceedingly
nice ass propped a hip against the patrol car. His head angled to
the side as he engaged the street cop in desultory conversation.
While he was certainly hanging out, she saw, in a quick sweep, that
he wore a Ludington Fire Department tee. His clothing certainly
didn’t remove him from her subject list; firefighters had committed
arson--John Orr came immediately to mind--but the vast majority
were dedicated to putting out fires not starting them. However,
something was vaguely familiar about him. Her ambiguous recognition
made sense since she’d probably seen him around, but he was
certainly new to the department.

When the FNG saw her stepping from the
ruined building, he straightened, as did the officer, though they
were too far away for her to make out their features
clearly.

She nodded to them both and headed
toward her car, anxious to get the evidence she’d collected through
the chain of custody process and to log her initial report. Then
she’d jump into a hot, steamy shower to wash off the fire grime and
sweat. She’d find out who both the patrol cop and the firefighter
were at the precinct, and include them in her report.


Well Charly Davis, as I
live and breathe.” A rich, whiskey-toned baritone hailed her
playfully from afar. The memory of sweat-slick sheets, tangled
bodies and leather cuffs assaulted her, instantly hardening her
nipples and sending a surge of lust through her blood. Seconds
later, pure heartbreak tinged by anger overrode the images and
sensations.

She turned slowly on her heel and
pasted a smile that felt more like a grimace on her face. She’d be
nice to the bastard; really, she would, but the fact he looked so
damned good as he strode her way only fueled her
resentment.

Dark hair was cut close, exposing a
face which would have been almost pretty if not for the lines
fanning hazel eyes and grooves around his mouth, suggesting he
laughed early and often. The lines were new. Eight years ago, he’d
worn youthful studliness like a badge of honor.

His body, if anything, was better. He
could be a poster-boy for the fire service. Long lean lines were
encased in jeans, a tee shirt displaying his upper body to
perfection. The man was positively mouthwatering, just as he’d been
all those years ago. It was too easy to remember the feel of his
hands, pushing her beyond the brink, past her comfort levels and
into areas she’d never imagined existed. Areas where pain became a
pleasure of its own.

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