Read Rapid Entry: Firehouse 69, Book 3 Online
Authors: Delilah Devlin
Tags: #Firefighters;Kink;BDSM;Menage & Multiples
And that would never do. Not when she was only now venturing out to discover what she’d been missing in her life for the years she’d buried herself in work so she could put distance between herself and her memories. In books, she could dream of alternate lives, happy endings. She’d barely let herself grieve, escaping into her pages.
She dragged her gaze from his window and blinked her eyes to dry the moisture beginning to fill them. Gage had been a nice distraction. A sexy interlude. Nothing more.
She turned the key in the ignition and put the gearshift into reverse. As she pulled away, she couldn’t help glancing back, just once. And then she drove away. She took the main road, which brought her past the firehouse. She tightened her fingers around the wheel, knowing she should stop in to say goodbye, but she could imagine the expressions he’d wear—his eyelids dipping as he gave her that sexy once-over that had done miracles raising her confidence. Then his cheeks would darken, his eyes growing stormy as she told him she was leaving. He’d try to argue with her. Cajole her. Promise her sexy things, then rake a hand through his hair in frustration. And she might cave, because being close to him was too tempting. So she vanquished the urge to stop and kept going.
Signaling to change lanes, she traveled beneath an overpass and waited for the traffic lights to change so that she could enter the ramp to the left.
Her thoughts still awhirl, she kept her gaze on the red light, impatient for it to change, because once she was on the highway, there’d be no more time to change her mind.
The light turned green, and she stepped on her accelerator. From the corner of her eye, she saw a semi-truck carrying a load of logs entering the intersection in front of her. She hit her brakes and her tires squealed. A loud honk sounded, and the big truck swerved. She stared upward as the long bed of logs began to tilt.
There was no time to slam into reverse. No time except for one thought. Regret shot through her. She should have stayed. And now she’d never know whether she and Gage would have worked out. As the first log dislodged and fell, she wished she could start the morning over. She’d tell him the thing that had scared her, that had set her running, was that she thought, just maybe, she was already falling in love.
As soon as the fire truck came to a halt in the center of the intersection, Gage grabbed his axe, unlatched the door, and jumped to the ground. Didn’t look good for the driver of the little red sedan. The top of the car was mashed like a pancake in the center. Large logs were strewn around it. A log truck lay tilted on its side, held up by the right side of the car it had crushed.
Gage dreaded what he might find, but he stepped over logs to move toward the car. Water hissed from the radiator. The smell of coolant and burned rubber filled the air.
In his ear, he could hear Lieutenant Knox barking orders. “Harris, Coop, get the LIFEPAK and backboard. Ambo’s ten minutes away! Turner, check the driver of the truck. He’s sitting on the curb.”
Shoring up his gut, Gage ducked down next to the driver’s door and peered inside the small sedan. The dented roof sank between the tops of the front seats. He saw a female hip, her upper torso bent toward the passenger seat, but he couldn’t see deep enough into the car. He tried the door, but the frame was twisted, jamming it closed. “Ma’am, I’m a firefighter. I’m here to help.” He heard a groan. A good sign. But he needed to get closer. “I’m gonna break the window behind you. Keep your eyes closed.”
He stood, swung the axe to strike the glass, and tore the shattered safety glass away with the mattock in a single sheet. Dropping his helmet and axe, he crawled through the opening into the backseat and wedged himself toward the small space between the front seats. He ungloved his hand and reached to touch her shoulder, then he slid his fingers against her neck. Her pulse was strong, pounding. “Ma’am, can you hear me?”
“Could this day get any worse?”
The voice, even in a whisper, was familiar. His heart went still. “Viviana?”
“Gage? You have to be kidding me.”
“Hon, are you hurt?”
“Don’t think so. Bruised, maybe. I only had time to unbuckle and duck before the second log dented the roof.”
He heard irritation in her tone, which meant she couldn’t be too badly hurt. Relieved, he took a deep breath and hit his mike. “LT, the woman appears fine. But we’ll need a spreader to get her out.” After the lieutenant acknowledged him, he turned back to Viviana. “Can’t budge the driver’s door, so you’re stuck for a few minutes.”
“Of course I am.”
He almost smiled at her little pity party, but he wasn’t one hundred percent sure she was okay. He had yet to see the rest of her. But she was awake—a good sign. He had to keep her talking. “Were you in a hurry to be somewhere?”
Another groan sounded.
Worried she was hurt worse than he’d first thought, he smoothed a hand over from her shoulder to her hip. “Viv, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she bit out. “Just peachy.”
Her words were snarky, but by her tone, she seemed defeated. And not once had she seemed glad he was here. He thought back to the cold shoulder she’d given him earlier. “Viviana, what the hell’s going on? Did I do something to piss you off?”
“I was leaving. My bag’s in the trunk.”
He drew a sharp breath. “Without saying goodbye? Was it something I did?”
“No. It’s not you.” A loud sigh sounded. “And I’m sorry. But I got scared.”
“Was I coming on too strong? All you had to do was say so. I’d have backed off.”
“No. But you were making me feel… I don’t know. Like I couldn’t breathe,” she said, and gave a soft sob. “I didn’t want to talk. So I ran.”
Gage withdrew his hand and backed away. His stomach soured. She lay trapped in a car, nearly killed, because of him. “Well, as soon as we get you out of here, you can be back on your way.” He kept his tone flat, but inside anger began to swirl. He glanced out the window. The LT stood a few feet away, his back turned. He must have heard some of what they’d said and was giving them privacy to finish.
He didn’t want to hear another
, not now. It was his fault she was in this mess. He reached out the window and slapped the side of the car. “Let’s get this door off its hinges!”
Coop handed Gage a blanket to cover her in case the glass in the driver’s door shattered. Without speaking, Gage reached through the V between the seats and spread it over her hip and shoulder. Then he waited while Coop widened the gap in the door with his mattock and inserted the spreader. Two minutes later, he was dragging the door away and reaching inside to help Viviana scoot backward out of the car. Gage crawled through the window, picked up his helmet from the ground, and began walking away.
He paused and glanced over his shoulder. Viviana’s face was streaked with tears. Her glasses were gone.
Coop and the LT were giving him hard frowns, but he really didn’t want to go near her. The urge to pull her into his arms and give her a huge hug was just too great. He walked back, stopping three feet away.
She looked at Coop and then at the LT. “I’m fine. Really. Could I just have a moment?”
The two men walked away, but only after giving him glares.
She turned to Gage. “I’m sorry. If I could take this morning back, I would. I shouldn’t have tried to leave like that.”
You shouldn’t have left at all.
But he held still.
Pain sliced through his chest. He jerked up his chin. “You said that already.”
She took a step forward, but she halted when he stiffened. “I’m truly sorry. I wasn’t thinking. But when I saw those logs coming down…” She glanced away for a second, and when she looked at him again, more tears slid down her cheeks. “I felt regret. Because I wanted to be there for that talk. I wanted to see whether there was something here for me, with you.”
He sucked in a breath and then shook his head. Before he could stop himself, he took two steps toward her. Looking downward, he could see the same confusion in her eyes that he felt. He reached out, slowly, and gathered her gently against his chest.
She sighed and clung to him.
They stood without speaking, and he thought that was better than saying things they couldn’t take back. “You lost your glasses,” he said against her hair.
“Have to be inside the car somewhere. My laptop’s in the trunk. Hope it’s okay. Not that I’ve written a word since I met you.”
He smiled against her hair. “That right? I kill your muse?”
“No, I’ve just had some things on my mind I didn’t want to share.”
He leaned back his head and tucked his thumb under her chin to lift her face. “I have things I want to share. With you. If you’ll give us time. Let us see where this is going.”
Her smile was thin, her chin wobbly. “I can wait. But I left my key to Herman’s place inside.”
“I’ll give you mine.”
Her smile widened. “I might sleep away the day.”
“You’re coming down off the adrenaline.”
“Is that what it is? I thought it was just relief.”
“Because you’re alive?”
She shook her head. “Because you’re still holding me.”
Gage cursed under his breath and bent toward her, fisting his hand in her hair as he kissed her. Everything he wanted to say was in that kiss—that he was glad she was alive, that he was sorry he’d scared her, that he was grateful for another chance. When he drew back, they were both breathing hard. “I better call you a cab.”
“Shouldn’t I stay with the car?”
“I know a guy with a tow truck. Call your insurance company when you get to my place.”
She nodded. “I like it when you go all bossy on me. Makes me feel…owned.”
She whispered that last word, but she may as well have screamed it. His body hardened. He closed his eyes briefly, because staring at her only provided more fuel to the fire building in his groin. “Come sit in the truck while I call that cab.” He kept one arm around her and ushered past the LT, whose mouth was set in a line but whose steel-gray eyes were crinkling at the corners.
So everyone at the station would know he’d fallen like a ton of bricks. They could all kiss his ass.
* * * * *
The paper was delivered early the next morning, just as Luke Harris was finishing cleanup duty in the kitchen. All the firefighters were seated around the long table, drinking coffee. Lieutenant Knox walked in and slapped the open paper on the table in front of Gage. “Chief’s gonna be calling again.”
As the LT walked away, Gage frowned and glanced downward. “Son of a bitch.”
The front page picture was of a firefighter in his turnout gear, his hand clutching a pretty brunette’s hair as he bent her backward to kiss her.
Beneath the picture, the caption read,
Firefighter and Romance Author Writing Their Own Happy Ending!
Coop laughed and clapped his shoulder. “Surprised it doesn’t read, ‘Clothed Firefighter…’”
All the firefighters stood to bend over the paper. Their chuckles didn’t really bother Gage that much. The picture looked great. Like it belonged on his wall.
Noah cleared his throat. “Hoyt’s on his way. He has Viviana’s things out of her car. He’s bringing them.”
Gage nodded. He’d already showered. Despite the fact he’d only managed a couple of catnaps between calls, he was wide awake and eager to see her again. He’d been thinking about what she’d said, and he thought maybe they’d started in the wrong place. That maybe they should pull back from having sex because they needed to spend some time getting to know each other first.
All his fire truck crew had heard most of the conversation he’d had with her. Everyone had offered advice.
Coop, who considered himself the expert on the female brain because he was the first of them to get a girl to say I do, said, “You know what she likes in bed, but what do you know about her?”
Gage gave Coop a glare.
“Nothing, right?” Coop raised both eyebrows. “You should start there. You have a few days off. Talk to her.”
“And if she doesn’t want to talk?”
“Then get out the rope,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. “She’ll have to talk if you don’t let her move a muscle until she does.”
Gage liked that idea. But was it only because he’d just been itching to get her bound?
“Take her out somewhere you both have to wear clothes,” Noah said. “You two jumped right past getting to know each other to getting it on. A girl, or a guy, likes to know they have more to offer in a relationship than just sex.”
Gage grunted. Noah was one to talk. He and his biker boyfriend hadn’t wasted any time getting cozy.
Noah raised his hands. “Just saying. When you have to take a breather, it’s nice to know there’s real compatibility there.”
Gage turned to Luke, who backed away.
“Don’t look at me,” Luke said. “I’m the last person you should ask for relationship advice.”
“I wasn’t asking. Since everyone’s in my damn business, I thought I’d let you offer your two cents so I could ignore it.”
The three men surrounding Gage laughed. Coop clapped his shoulder again. “You’ll do fine. If that kiss was any indication, you two have plenty of
to work with.” He tucked finger in his collar and pulled on it. “Hope Moira doesn’t have any plans…”
Gage pushed up from the table, carefully folded the paper, and tucked it under his arm. “I’d say thanks for the advice, but I think I have this handled.”
More laugher trailed after him. A day or two ago he might have bristled about it, but his steps were light and a grin was tugging at his mouth.
Viviana Moore was waiting for him at his apartment. And he couldn’t wait to begin the
Only she wasn’t there when he stepped inside his apartment.
Instead, he found a note. “Hope you don’t mind. I made reservations at the Peabody. Ask for a key at the desk.”
So much for joining her straight in bed. Gage decided to change into something more presentable before he appeared at her door. So far, she’d only seen him naked, in his firefighter’s uniform, and in leather at the club. Before he left the apartment, he pulled his go-bag from the back of his closet and checked to make sure he had everything he needed.
Impatience rode him as he drove to the hotel. He hadn’t been inside it since he was a kid and his dad had taken him to watch the parade of ducks waddle through the lobby to the fountain.
The college-aged receptionist at the desk gave him Viviana’s room number after flirting outrageously. His impatience was stretched by the time he stood in front of her door carrying flowers he’d bought in the gift shop.
When she opened the door, it was to find a different Viviana than the ones he’d met before—naked and embarrassed Viviana, shy librarian Viviana. This one wore a nightgown that would have given a corpse a boner. Red peek-a-boo lace barely covered her breasts and a fall of sleek satin ended just below her thighs. Her hair was held up with a clip, feathers of dark silk sticking up in back. If not for the dark glasses sliding down her nose and that pretty red gloss on her lips, he might have thought her doppelganger inhabited the hotel room.
To keep from drooling, he thrust out the flowers. “These are for you.”
Her eyebrows shot up and the corners of her mouth tipped upward. “Nice to see you too.”
Her gaze trailed up and down his frame and did that little dance across his chest that made him want to puff it up to make sure she appreciated how hard he worked out.
“My place not good enough for you?” He sucked in a breath, damning himself for being angry she’d left. She had every right to want nicer surroundings. Although why she’d rented Herman’s place was still a mystery. She could have afforded better.
“Your place was your place,” she said softly. “And I wanted neutral ground…for our conversation.”
He gave a nod and realized he’d kept her in the doorway, every curve and her curvy legs exposed to anyone who might walk by. He nodded toward the interior of her room. “Can I come in?”
“Of course.” She moved back, letting him enter, but not so far back his shoulder and arm didn’t brush against silk.
Instantly, he felt calmer.
She waved toward a small dining table where her laptop was opened and a notebook lay beside it. “Have a seat,” she said. “I’ll just put these in water.” She found a vase in a cabinet in the small kitchenette and filled it with water, then quickly unwrapped the bundle of daisies and roses and silly little white flowers that smelled like armpit. He knew because he’d sniffed the bouquet before he’d selected it. The roses had reminded him of her blushes. The daisies were simpler, pretty and unfussy, which had reminded him of her until he’d opened the door.