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Authors: Rebecca Yarros

Ignite (Legacy)

BOOK: Ignite (Legacy)
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Ignite
A Legacy Novella
Rebecca Yarros
Ignite

A Legacy Novella

Rebecca Yarros

T
his book is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Yarros. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the author.

www.RebeccaYarros.com

Edited by Karen Grove

Cover design by Okay Creations

Cover art from STOCK

ISBN 978-0-9973831-2-6

M
anufactured
in the United States of America First Edition July 2016

Also by Rebecca Yarros...

The Flight & Glory Series

Full Measures

Eyes Turned Skyward

Beyond What is Given

Hallowed Ground

The Legacy Series

Point of Origin

Ignite

Coming September 2016

The Renegade Series:

WILDER

To Christina.

Running Woman.

For iced coffees, deployment visits,

Cupcakes, phone calls, saving my sanity,

And yanking me out of my shell.

You are the mom I’ve always wanted to be.

1
River

F
uck my life
, I was exhausted. Squinting into the sun, I walked out of the Midnight Sun’s Hotshot Crew house at 10:45 p.m. I’d never known a more fitting name for a hotshot team in my life. We’d lived here the last seven years—as soon as I’d been accepted to the University of Alaska—but the sunlight situation in late July still caught me off guard from time to time.

Guess my brain always diverted back to Colorado.

“Damn, that was a long one, Riv,” Bishop said, swinging his arm over my shoulder and squeezing. He’d done the same thing after every fire we’d ever been on together. I knew he hated that I’d followed him into this life. What the fuck did he think I was going to do? Let my big brother follow in our dad’s footsteps and not tag along? Hell no. As soon as I was old enough, I’d applied, worked my ass off through college getting my degree in forestry, and now here we were.

“I’m just glad it’s over. It was getting dicey there for a while.” I unlocked the doors on my F250 as he ruffled my hair like we were kids again. Strands of the dark, heavy stuff caught in the scruff of my beard as it settled back around my face. Chin-length was as far as I could handle my hair, I had no clue how Bishop managed to keep his down his back.

Our mother is Cheyenne,
he always said in explanation.

“It did go to shit,” he admitted. “You could always take a cushy job with the forest service. No fires, safe hours, nice scenery…” he said before unlocking the doors to his truck, too.

“Like that’s ever going to happen,” I said as I tossed my dirt-covered bag into the bed of the truck.

“Yeah, well, I wish it would,” he mumbled.

“Gym tomorrow?” I asked, ignoring his jibe. For only being three years older than me, he took his brothering seriously.

“Same as usual,” he answered, climbing up into his truck.

I did the same, sliding behind the wheel and shutting the door. A crank of the engine later and I was on the road out of Fairbanks, heading toward my house in Ester. Bishop was a mad man when it came to gym time.
You’d better be able to outrun the fire,
he’d always told me.

So he pushed me like the flames were constantly licking at my heels. Not that I minded the body it gave me—hell, it attracted more than my fair share of female attention. Though I’d definitely sampled the buffet of women up here, my exploits were nothing compared to Bishop’s.

We were both the same in one regard, though: we’d never been with one woman longer than six months or so. Bishop tended to leave around that time, and as for me…well, the girls always figured out that they weren’t my first priority, which rightfully pissed them off.

As I turned off route three into Ester the sun finally started to set. For God’s sake, it was 11 p.m. I missed warm summer nights under the stars in Colorado. Not that Northern Lights weren’t amazing…they just weren’t the same.

Don’t complain about the sunlight. It will be dark nearly all day soon enough.

The lot in front of the Golden Eagle Saloon had an empty parking spot, and I took it, jumping down from the truck once I killed the ignition. I smelled like smoke and ten days of hard firefighting, but I knew she’d lose her shit if I didn’t stop by.

Besides, I was itching to see her.

The music was up when I walked into the old-fashioned log cabin saloon. Good crowd for a Saturday night.

“River!” Jessie Ruggles called out from the bar, her skirt a hell of a lot shorter than those long-ass legs of hers called for. Not that I was complaining. “Everybody make it home okay?”

“Yeah, we’re intact,” I answered. “Have you seen—”

“River!”

I turned toward her voice and was immediately met with a hundred pounds of perfection. She swore it was more. I never believed her.

Avery jumped, and I easily caught her. Her arms wrapped around my neck, one of them cradling the back of my head in that way of hers that always fucking melted me.

“You’re okay,” she whispered in my neck.

Even in the bar, she smelled fantastic, all apples and warm cinnamon.

“I’m okay, Avery,” I promised, my hands splaying on her back. “Everyone is.”

She nodded but didn’t say anything, just held me a little tighter. I’d come home from countless fires in the years that she’d been my best friend, and this was always how she welcomed me home.

There was nothing better on the planet.

I stood there in the middle of the bar, letting her hold me as long as she needed. Mostly because I could never get enough of her in my arms.

Avery Claire had been my best friend since I was eighteen.

I’d also been silently in love with her for just as long.

Maybe one day she’d be ready to hear it, but I knew that today was not that day. Hell, the next year didn’t look promising, either.

Taking in one more deep breath, Avery slid from my grasp, backing up a couple feet once her toes hit the wooden floor of the bar. Then she looked me over, inspecting for anything that might slightly resemble an injury. She tucked her long blonde hair behind her ears and nodded, appeased. Avery was fair everywhere I was dark, her skin pale where mine was deeply tanned by the sun and my mother’s Cheyenne heritage. She was tiny where I was broad, curved where I was straight, and those shorts she wore didn’t disguise much of her toned legs.

“See, I’m fine,” I said with a little grin.

“Promise?” she asked, narrowing those gorgeous blue eyes.

“I smell like smoke and I’m fucking exhausted, but other than that, I’m in one piece. I’m actually headed home, but I figured you were working tonight—”

“And that I’d kick your ass if you didn’t tell me you were home.”

“I could always text.”

“Not the same.” Her smile grew until she could have lit the world with how bright it was. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me, too. Did Zeus miss me?”

“Your husky is the neediest, wimpiest dog I’ve ever met, but yes, he’s content and full of treats at your house.”

“He’s a big baby,” I admitted.

“Just like his owner,” she teased.

“Avery, were you thinking about getting back to work?” Megan asked from behind the bar in her pack-a-day rasp. She was ageless, frozen somewhere in her fifties. The woman hadn’t changed since I got here seven years ago.

“Yeah,” Avery called out. “Sorry, I have to go.”

“I know. Don’t worry. I’ll see you tomorrow—”

“Riv!” Adeline came running at me, a tangle of hair and knobby knees.

I caught her easily and squeezed her tight. “Hey, Addy! What are you doing here?”

She pulled back and glanced at Avery. “I was supposed to stay with Stella, but she had to go out of town with her parents.”

I nodded and looked over to Avery, who was biting her lip. I knew she hated when she had to bring Addy in—she was only thirteen—but not nearly as much as she hated leaving her home alone with their father.

“Why don’t you come spend the night in my guest room?” I asked.

Her eyes flew wide with excitement. “Can I watch
Game of Thrones
?”

“Nope,” I answered. “But I think I have every episode of
Arrow
.”

“Okay, I can rock that. Stephen Amell is hot.”

“If you say so,” I said, grinning at her. Addy never failed to bring a smile to my face.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Avery asked, her hands wringing.

I wanted to cup her face, brush my thumbs across her cheekbones, and lay a soft kiss to her lips. Instead, I squeezed her hand. “It’s no problem. Why don’t you come over when you’re done? Bunk with Adeline, and we’ll go for breakfast in the morning?”

She nodded with a grin. “Yes. I close out at two, and then I’ll head over.”

I would have said anything to see Avery smile like that—carefree and happy. She was always beautiful, but that smile shot her straight to gorgeous, and I never saw enough of it. “You have a key, so just come on in. Addy, you ready?”

“Yes!”

I laughed at her excitement. “Okay, but don’t get too excited. Zeus might want to share your bed, and he’s a hog.”

“True, but he’s nice and warm.”

“That he is,” I admitted before turning back to her big sister. “See you in the morning?”

She nodded and leaned up on tiptoes to hug me. It was the only way to cross the difference between my six-foot-five frame and her five-foot-six. “Thank you for taking her,” she said, holding me tight. “I just couldn’t leave her there on her own. He gets so mean at night.”

When he’s been drinking.

“No problem.” I hugged her back and let her slide from my arms.

Then I took Adeline home.

“I love your house,” she said as we climbed the steps to the porch.

“It’s not as big as yours,” I answered, slipping the key into the lock. I’d built the house myself—with Bishop and contracted workers, of course, and I was fond of its traditional log-cabin design, but I knew it wasn’t much.

“It feels more like home,” she said as I opened the door.

“Umpf!” My breath was knocked out of me as Zeus barreled out the door, tackling me to the ground. All hundred and twenty pounds of him lay on my chest, licking my face as he whined. “Yeah, I missed you, too, buddy,” I said, petting his thick fur.

He looked at me with disapproving blue eyes, like I’d had any control over how long the fire had taken, and let me up. I massaged his head a few more times, and he started to forgive me. “Come back when you’re done,” I told him, and he raced off into the woods. There was something to be said for having ten acres to myself.

I brought two of my fingers to my mouth and then pressed them to the framed picture of my dad that hung just inside the entry. Some rituals had to be kept—and this was definitely one of them. “Made it home, Pop,” I said.

“Why did you do that?” Addy asked.

“Because I always tell him I made it when I get home from a fire,” I told her, hauling my bag in with me.

“Because he didn’t?” she asked.

The innocent question caught me off guard. “That’s right. He died with his whole Hotshot team when a fire took our hometown.”

She looked up at the photo of my dad in his gear and then back to me. “How long ago was that?”

“Ten years.”
Ten years in a couple weeks.

“That’s sad. I’m sorry.”

“Thank you. It’s hard to lose your parent, huh?”

She nodded. “I don’t really remember my mom, though, so…” She shrugged.

“I don’t think that makes it any easier. Loss is loss.”

She nodded, examining the photo of my father. “He was handsome.”

“My mom sure thought so.” They had loved each other in a way that told me I’d never settle for less in my own life. “Your stuff is still in the dresser in there,” I told Addy as she walked into the living room. This wasn’t the first time she’d slept over while Avery worked, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.

“Thanks!” she said, skipping off to the guest room and its seventy-inch television that I bought mostly for her.

As much as I loved Avery, I was a sucker for Adeline.

Zeus cried at the door, and I let him in, then took my bag to the washer. As usual, all of my clothes smelled like smoke. It never really bugged me until I got home. Once I walked into my house, I couldn’t wait to get the reek of smoke out of my clothes, my hair, my skin. I tossed them in, dumped detergent, and started the load. Hopefully the smell would come out on the first wash.

It took a long shower to do the same for my body.

After I was clean, I grabbed a beer, turned on the news to catch up on the world, and pulled my laptop onto my lap, checking my social media. Zeus curled up next to me, and I absently pet him while I scrolled.

Drama.

Drama.

Cute baby.

Drama.

Shit, when did he get married?

I’d been gone from Colorado so long that I’d completely lost touch.

After a few minutes I closed the computer, leaving my friends—both from college and home in Colorado—behind as I changed the channel and tuned the world out for a little while.

I’d made it home from another fire. I glanced up at my dad’s picture and tipped the beer toward him in salute. Then I took a long pull and leaned my head back on the couch.

“Riv?”

I blinked at the soft voice and raised my head as my beer was pulled from my hand. “Avery?” I asked, my voice husky from sleep.

“Yeah,” she said, running her fingers through my hair. “You must have fallen asleep.”

“Mmmm.” I leaned into her touch. “What time is it?”

“Two fifteen.”

I sat up and shook the sleep from my eyes. “No shit?”

“You must be exhausted,” she said, snuggling into my side.

I wrapped my arm around her and with the other arm pulled a blanket over her. “I am,” I admitted. “I bet you are, too.”

“Mmmhmmm,” she said, her head finding that perfect spot on my chest as she let out a jaw-cracking yawn.

Do it now.
Every time I was in a fire, I swore that I’d come home and tell her how I felt. I knew she didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone—that taking care of her nearly bed-ridden father was all she thought she had time for. That her two jobs and basically raising Adeline on her own were her only priorities…

But I wanted her to know that she was
my
only priority.

So what if it got complicated? Messy? I wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was she. We’d find a way to work out whatever got in the way, and even if it took years, I knew she’d be the only one I’d ever want.

Every other failed relationship had already taught me that there was no substitute for Avery Claire.

I took a deep breath and tried to find my proverbial balls. “Hey, Avery?”

She didn’t answer.

I moved just enough to see her closed eyes and parted lips, her breath even and deep. She was asleep.

I should have moved her. Instead I leaned my head back on the couch and savored the feeling of falling asleep with her in my arms.

It had only been five minutes when there was a pounding at my door. I sat up with a start, barely catching Avery before she tumbled to the floor. “Who the hell?” I mumbled, glancing at the window. The sun was up already, but that didn’t mean much.

BOOK: Ignite (Legacy)
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