Blazing Love – Chantel Rhondeau
Laura’s attempting to rebuild her life after grieving for her murdered fiancé. Fireman Thayne is the most eligible bachelor in Sayle—strong, loyal, and sexy as hell. He’s determined to show Laura how to love again, but an arsonist ups the stakes, risking more than their romance.
Finally reaching her apartment building, Laura trotted up the sidewalk, noting the overgrown grass. Her landlord sucked. How hard was it to take care of the yard? She wondered if Thayne took one look at her crappy little building and decided she was pathetic. Which wouldn’t be wrong, really. Most days, I feel pathetic.
Well, that wasn’t entirely true, but after her fiancé’s murder, her panic attacks began, changing her life forever. Laura had a much harder time being the carefree girl she used to be.
She stepped inside the building and turned down the inner hall, unable to stop the smile that crept onto her lips when she saw Thayne sitting in front of her apartment door.
“Hey,” she called, hurrying toward him. “Sorry, I’m late. I didn’t have your number or I would have texted.”
He stood, picking up a basket from the floor. “That’s something we’ll have to remedy. Friends should have each other’s numbers.”
His deep voice and the way his mouth turned up slightly at the corners made her heart hitch for a beat or two. Her body wanted to be anything but friends with the sex god. No, no. He’s off limits. I can handle this. Just friends. Friends are good. Friends are great. I need friends... and sex. I need sex! Lots and lots of it. We don’t have to have a relationship to take advantage of his sexiness, do we?
Laura reached the door and stuck the key in the lock, thankful Thayne couldn’t read her thoughts. Even though she’d been on her own for far too long, that didn’t give her the right to jump him. Shaking her head a bit at herself, she swung the door open. “I was afraid you’d leave before I made it home.”
“I was afraid you hoped I’d go. I know I forced you into this.”
The wide smile on his face didn’t look apologetic or worried. Laura wondered how long Thayne would have waited.
“We had some last-minute emergencies, and Vicky decided to take them since we need the business. I wasn’t avoiding you.”
She led the way into the apartment, glad she’d vacuumed the floors yesterday. Her dining table was just inside the doorway; her living room split into two parts to serve as both rooms. A half wall separated the kitchen from the living space, and Thayne headed to it without hesitation.
“I hope grilled baby red potatoes and medium rare steak is okay.” His grin didn’t leave his face as Thayne made himself at home opening cupboards in the kitchen. “I cooked everything the way I like it, and brought fresh salad, too.”
“I’m not picky.” She opened the carrier and took out her latest foster cat.
The black and white kitten meowed pitifully, past ready for her dinner. At least she was up to eating again. The poor thing had been half-starved and too weak to move when Thayne first brought her into the clinic.
Without warning, the heat of Thayne’s chest pressed against Laura’s back, his arms reaching around her as he stroked the kitten’s neck. “She looks better. I didn’t think she would live when I pulled her out of that drainage ditch.”
Laura’s heart pounded hard, feeling like it hit her breastbone. What was he doing? This didn’t feel friendly. It felt... good. So good. Even while afraid she might pass out from a panic attack,
she wanted to lean against Thayne’s chest and lose herself in some human contact. In his contact.
She forced herself to take a step forward, though her betraying body rebelled, craving his warmth. “She’s lucky you found her when you did. It was nearly too late. Vicky put her on IV fluids, and we got some food in her. I think she’ll be fine and make a good pet for someone once she’s fully recovered. I need to feed her before trying your steak.” Kitten talk. That’s safe. That’s friendly.
“Well, hurry. I can’t wait to give it to you.” Thayne winked and turned back into the kitchen.
Burying her face into the kitten’s soft fur, Laura tried to hide her blushes. This wasn’t working. Thayne didn’t intend to stay friends, obviously. How long could she hold out? He was perfect. Everything a girl could want. Why couldn’t he be a nice accountant or retail store manager? Something safe where she’d never have to fear getting a call from his boss to tell her he died? Vicky’s advice was to sleep with him and forget her ‘silly rules.’ But Vicky didn’t know what Laura went through seven years ago.
Going into the kitchen, Laura gave Thayne a wide berth as she snuck past him on her way to the refrigerator. She set the kitten on the floor and opened the door, pulling out the half-empty can of food.
“Did you give her a name?” Thayne asked.
Laura grabbed a cat dish from the cupboard and shook her head. “I don’t like to get too attached. I’ll only have her for a few weeks, and she’ll go to a new home. They can name her. I call her Kitty—I call them all Kitty.”
“I like Snips. I used to have a cat named Snips when I was a kid. Sort of looked like Kitty.”
“Then maybe you should adopt her.” Laura gave Kitty her food, standing up to find Thayne only inches away.
He ran his hand over her temple, pushing the hair back from her face. “I wish I could have a cat, but I work long hours, and she’d be lonely and hungry by the time I got home. I’d need myself a partner who could help take care of her.” He leaned in even closer, and Laura smelled mint on his breath. “Since we’re friends, maybe you can help me find the right girl. Someone to raise Snips with.”
Gulping, Laura was sure Thayne would kiss her. Even though she admitted when accepting the dinner that a kiss might happen sometime before the night was through, she hadn’t expected it this fast.
“Sure. Friends do that kind of stuff.” She put her hands against his chest and pushed him away gently. “Maybe I can help. What’s your type of girl?” Things had to stay friendly. Either that or she’d need her anti-anxiety pills. She already felt like she needed to change her panties.
Thayne shrugged and turned back to dishing up their plates. “You.”
We all need a hero! Preferably a hot, muscled, romantic one who's not afraid to fight for the woman he loves. From firefighters to athletes, and artists to rockers, these swoon-worthy heroes will keep you on your toes and weak in your knees. Slip into a reading adventure that will have you panting for more: fun, steam, and thrills.
Jade Kerrion, Chantel Rhondeau,
Rachelle Ayala, Lyssa Lane,
Michele Shriver, P.C. Zick, K.S. Thomas,
Stacy Eaton, Melinda Curtis, Jennifer
Saints, and Julie Leto
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