Authors: Jo Davis
Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary Romance
PRAISE FOR THE FIREFIGHTERS OF STATION FIVE SERIES
Ride the Fire
“The perfect blend of romance and suspense. Neither element overshadows the other. Jo Davis creates a great combination of romance, steamy love scenes with mystery and suspense mixed in. I was pulled right into the book, and before I knew it, the last page was turned. I wasn’t ready to let go.”
—Fiction Vixen Book Reviews
“Once again, Jo Davis has rocked it in this series!”
—Night Owl Reviews
“Jo Davis continues her steamy, heat-packed romantic suspense stories with
Ride the Fire
This book is a great blend of hot romance with suspenseful, well-plotted action.”
Line of Fire
“Grab a fan and settle in for one heck of a smoking-hot read. . . . Fiery-hot love scenes and a look inside the twisted mind of a killer make
Line of Fire
stand out. Add in the behind-the-scenes look at the other characters and I could read this book over and over!”
“Full of romance and steamy love scenes with a splash of mystery and suspense. This combination had me eager to turn the page and left me wanting more. The love scenes were scorching hot!”
—Fiction Vixen Book Reviews
“Surprisingly sweet and superhot . . . one of the best heroes I’ve read in a long time. If you want a hot firefighter in your room for the night, grab a copy and tuck right in with no regrets. Four hearts.”
—The Romance Reader
“A fast-paced romantic suspense thriller.”
—The Best Reviews
“Four stars! A totally entertaining experience.”
“Scorching-hot kisses, smoldering sex, and explosive passion make
a must read! Experience the flames of
“Exhilarating [with] a two-hundred-proof heat duet . . . a strong entry [and] a terrific, action-packed thriller.”
Midwest Book Review
Trial by Fire
“A five-alarm read . . . riveting, sensual.”
—Beyond Her Book
“Jo Davis turns up the heat full-blast. Romantic suspense that has it all: a sizzling firefighter hero, a heroine you’ll love, and a story that crackles and pops with sensuality and action. Keep the fire extinguisher handy or risk spontaneous combustion!”
—Linda Castillo, national bestselling author of
“Jo Davis . . . completely reeled me in . . . heady sexual tension, heartwarming romance, and combustible love scenes.”
“One of the most exciting ‘band of brothers’ series since J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. It’s sweet and sexy, tense and suspenseful.”
“For a poignant and steamy romance with a great dose of suspense, be sure to pick up a copy of
Trial by Fire
as soon as it hits the bookstores! Five bookmarks!”
—Wild on Books
“Hot, sizzling sex and edge-of-your-seat terror will have you glued to this fantastic romantic suspense story from the first page to the final word. Do not miss the heart-stopping, breath-stealing, incredibly well-written
Trial by Fire
—Romance Novel TV
THE FIREFIGHTERS OF STATION FIVE NOVELS
Ride the Fire
Line of Fire
Trial by Fire
A SUGARLAND BLUE NOVEL
A SIGNET ECLIPSE BOOK
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Jo Davis, 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
SIGNET ECLIPSE and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
To my son, Bryan. You’re a smart, funny, and compassionate young man with a desire to succeed founded in a strong moral compass. Let those qualities continue to shine, to guide you, and you’ll go far in life. Follow your dreams and never give up. I’m so proud of you and I thank God that you’re mine.
Shane’s story is for you.
I love you so very much.
“It’s way too damned quiet around here.”
Several other cops groaned and a couple of them shot Taylor Kane the death glare. Shane Ford just smirked, getting more comfortable with his booted feet propped on his desk and crossed at the ankles.
His cousin, Christian Ford, a recent transplant from the Dallas, Texas, PD, wadded up a sheet of paper and launched it at Taylor’s face. “Thanks a lot for jinxin’ us, dipshit,” he drawled. “Even the dumbest rookie knows better than to let the
word pass his lips.”
Taylor slapped a file onto his desk with a grimace of disgust. “I’m just sayin’ I’m sick of investigating vandalism and stolen bicycles, that’s all. It’s a waste of my rather large and brilliant brain. Shut up, Chris.” At the other man’s snort, he threw the paper wad back, missing his target.
“Hey, there’s a lot of money to be had fencing bikes,” Shane said, crossing his arms over his chest. “And a crime is a crime.”
“I know, but it’s
. Since Jesse Rose and his bunch got shut down last year, nothing exciting has happened around here,” their friend griped. “I’m about to lose my frickin’ mind.”
Shane suppressed a shudder. Jesse Rose was a homeland terrorist who had planned to blow up their fine city of Sugarland, Tennessee, and had damned near succeeded. A Sugarland Fire Department captain by the name of Sean Tanner, along with Shane and the entire police force, had been instrumental in stopping the bastard just in time. Tanner had since been promoted to battalion chief, and it was a well-deserved honor as far as Shane was concerned.
Another new hire, Tonio Salvatore, spoke up. “That case Shane and Daisy solved last month was pretty exciting. . . .” An uncomfortable silence fell over the room. “What? What’d I say?”
Shane’s good mood did a belly flop and curdled in his stomach. It always did whenever someone mentioned Daisy Callahan’s name and the case that had almost gotten them both killed. Or, worse, when he was forced to exchange polite, professional conversation with the stunning blond juvenile officer. Especially when all he wanted to do was bend her over the nearest flat surface and fuck her until she screamed his name.
Yeah, their passionate affair hadn’t been such a great idea before, and that fact hadn’t changed.
Easing his legs off the desk, he studied the other officers’ faces. Most reflected curiosity, the barely disguised desire to pry. So they didn’t
know, just likely suspected. Chris was the only one who knew, and it seemed he’d kept his promise not to say anything to the others. Their friends were merely attuned to the sudden tension that snapped like a rubber band whenever Shane and Daisy were mentioned in the same sentence, or the two of them were in a room together.
Shane wasn’t about to satisfy their avid curiosity.
“Our lack of excitement means nobody has been murdered,” Shane said dryly, sidestepping the reference to him and Daisy. “Let’s not borrow trouble.”
“Too late for that.” Their captain, Austin Rainey, swiped a trickle of sweat from his rugged face with one hand as he approached. “Goddamn, this heat is already bad enough to poach an egg, and it’s not even spring yet.”
Shane studied the man’s grayish pallor. Austin wasn’t just his supervisor; he was a good friend who’d been through a rough time in the last couple of years. The man’s bitch of a wife was really putting him through the ringer lately. Shane feared for his health, as did the men and women who respected and loved him.
“You okay, Cap?” Shane asked him. “It’s February and it’s not that hot in here. You’re not looking so good.”
Austin waved off his concern as usual and addressed his detectives. “We’ve got a body in the gulley out on 49. White male, no ID, shot once in the back of the head, execution style.” He gave Taylor a baleful glare. “Since you’re so fucking bored, you can take this one with Shane. Oh, and you can do all the reports, too.”
Taylor grimaced as a few others snickered. “Thanks a million, Cap.”
“Don’t mention it. Get the lead out. Eden and the FU are already on their way.”
Shane had to smile a little at that—Eden and the FU, as though they were a rock group. But it was appropriate, since Nashville’s taciturn medical examiner and the Sugarland PD’s forensic investigations unit sort of went together like a guitar and strings. Though they were employed by separate entities, they worked toward the common goal of finding and analyzing clues that would help the police locate and apprehend the bad guys.
And then there was the shortening of FIU to FU, which one of the uniformed officers had jokingly said stood for Fuck U, because the science geeks thought they were smarter than a bunch of cops.
“On it.” Taylor grabbed a set of keys off his desk and jingled them, looking at Shane. “I’ll drive.”
As they headed out, Shane fell into step beside him. “Happy now? You got the murder you wanted, and a messy one, too.”
The other man shrugged. “I’m not happy someone bought it, but it happens.”
“You like solving the puzzle. A lot of us do.” That might seem strange or morbid to some, but to them, the need to make the pieces fit, the satisfaction they felt when they were successful, was normal.
“For me, the seemingly random pieces are more like snippets of a story, and aren’t usually random at all,” Taylor said thoughtfully. “The body is the last chapter, and I have to read the story backward to find out what led up to it.”
“Never thought of it like that before, like reading a book in reverse.”
He pondered that as they pushed outside and the frigid air hit them, slapping them like dozens of tiny needles. But that wasn’t the only reason he suddenly felt as though he were suffocating.
Daisy Callahan was striding purposefully up the steps to the precinct house, and all the spit dried up in Shane’s mouth at the sight of her. Like the other detectives, Shane included, she wore street clothes consisting of dark pants and a casual shirt, a holstered gun and badge at her hip. But there the similarities ended. Blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, emphasizing an angular face adorned with little makeup, large blue eyes, and a wide mouth. The woman was a long, tall drink of water on a scorching day, five feet, ten inches of lean muscle and confident stride that should have made her seem mannish, except she was anything but.
Her breasts were full, and he knew from experience how they spilled over a man’s hands, ripe and tasty. He knew how smooth her skin was, how small her waist was just above the slight flare and curve of womanly hips. How toned those long thighs were, just how fantastic they looked wrapped around his waist as he—
“Earth to Shane?”
He blinked, becoming aware that he and Taylor had stopped in front of Daisy. Taylor had greeted her and they’d exchanged a few words, and now they were both regarding him with two completely different expressions—Taylor with amusement and Daisy with a polite detachment he’d grown to hate.
Completely my fault. I’m a first-class jerk.
“I’m sorry. What?” He hoped his smile gave no indication of just how desolate he felt inside. Given the unnatural tightness of his face, he suspected he’d failed.
“You guys caught the body out on I-49?” Her look was cool, appraising.
“Word travels fast as always,” he said, striving to keep his tone even. “Yeah, we’re headed out there now.”
She made a face. “You and half the county, no doubt. Good luck, once the news people decipher the dispatch that went out on the scanner. I figure you’ve got an hour, tops, before the real madness hits.”
“Shit. We’d better make tracks.” But he couldn’t get his feet to move. Daisy turned to go, and on impulse, he called after her. “Wait!”
She blinked at him, surprise causing the mask to slip. “What is it?”
“Can I . . . have a word with you?” He sent a pointed look at Taylor, who nodded and walked toward the parking lot. Thankfully without comment.
Once Taylor was out of earshot, his former lover gazed at Shane coolly. “Is there something about the case that you couldn’t say in front of Taylor?”
“Of course not.” He ran a hand through his hair. Never had he felt more awkward around a woman, and it was his own fault. “Dammit, I hate this weird distance between us.”
“Really?” She gave an incredulous laugh. “That’s funny, considering distance is exactly what you wanted. And lots of it. Which I gave you.” Her last words were clipped. Angry.
“We were friends before and I ruined that. You’ll never know how sorry I am,” he said quietly.
The blunt edge of growing hostility disappeared as quickly as it had begun to form, and her face softened. “Me, too. But I guess I can’t blame our failure solely on you. I’m the dumb-ass who slept with a friend—a fellow cop—and I should’ve damned well known better. So, lesson learned.”
A raw lump formed in his throat and he spoke with difficulty. “I’d like to think we’re
friends. Or can be again.” He waited, but she didn’t let him off the hook. “Want to grab a beer after work sometime? Or coffee? I’m free Sunday—”
“Stop.” Looking away, she regained tight control of the abject misery that had flashed across her beautiful features. “Just stop, okay? I’m not there yet. Maybe I won’t ever be, either. And if not, that’s a loss we’ll both have to own, and move on.”
Oh, God. The stab to his gut was sharp. Powerful. Had he honestly thought she’d forgive him, and they’d simply go back to the place they had been? Somehow, he mastered the unexpected pain and managed a sad, lopsided smile.
“I suppose we will at that.” He glanced toward where Taylor stood by the car, studying them with undisguised interest. “Better go.”
“Let me know what you find,” she said, all business again. “I doubt it’ll overlap with any of my cases, but you never know.”
Before Shane could say anything more, she turned and walked into the building without a backward glance. As though they’d never been anything to each other at all. Which was how he’d wanted it. Right?
Numbly, he went to meet Taylor at his friend’s beat-up vintage Chevelle, a “project car” that in Shane’s opinion should have been sold for scrap twenty years ago. In an effort to deflect the questions he knew were coming, he scowled at the wreck. “Why can’t we drive a
car, like Starsky and Hutch, or Steve and Danno?”
His friend grinned at him as they climbed in and slammed the doors. “So buy yourself one and we’ll drive it. You’re the guy with all the money.” He started the ignition, and the car sputtered before roaring to life. “Or, better yet, fix up this one.”
Shane rolled his eyes. “First, stop saying I’m rich just because I own a nice house on the Cumberland. Second, I like my truck just fine, and even if I was into muscle cars, I’d buy my own beater instead of pouring a small fortune into yours.”
Taylor rolled his eyes. “Oh, sure. Compared to the rest of us, you’re shitting money. You’re like fuckin’ Batman—you don’t need a job; you just like to play superhero,” he shot back, pulling out of the parking lot.
“Nah, I don’t have a really cool, snarky butler. That’s a superhero requirement, in case you missed the memo.”
“Good point.” They rode for a couple of minutes in silence before Taylor glanced at him, his tone growing serious. “So, you and Daisy . . .”
Crap. The man wasn’t going to be put off so easily. “Me and Daisy, nothing. Nada.”
His friend wasn’t buying. “I knew it! Christ, of all the good-lookin’ ass in town, you had to tap hers?”
just some piece of ass,” Shane said in a low, dangerous voice. “So watch your mouth.” Too late, he realized his friend’s ploy.
The man laughed and slapped his steering wheel. “Oh, you’ve got it bad! You never get all protective and snarly over your random hookups. So what gives? How did you two happen?”
Shane sighed. His cousin had been bad enough, but Taylor was a pit bull. He wouldn’t let this go until Shane gave him something. “We’ve been attracted to each other for years, but it’s not such a great idea to get involved with a colleague. You know?” His friend arched a brow, waiting. “So, while we were working the case, we got a little too close to the subject we were researching . . .” He shrugged. “That’s how.”
Taylor whistled through his teeth. “Man, that’s heavy. Something tells me it wasn’t a one-time thing.”
“No, but it should have been. I let the relationship go on too long, and that was wrong of me.”
He stared at Taylor. “Why? What do you mean,
“Why was it wrong? You’re both consenting adults, and you guys clearly aren’t over this thing between you.”
“Um, other than the rule about not dating fellow cops, the one that could get one or both of us fired for breaking it?” he replied sarcastically. “Gee, let me think.”
“Don’t give me that bullshit. You wouldn’t be the first couple to ever fall in love at work.”
“Whoa, nobody said anything about
.” Jesus, he should’ve called in sick.
“Well, then, just bang each other in secret. You wouldn’t be the only ones in the department doing it, and it’s not like you haven’t done it before. Hellooo, remember Leslie, from patrol?”
Shane frowned. “The problem is, Daisy deserves better, you moron. Unlike Leslie, she’s not a
kind of woman—which is why I had to end it.” His friend just snickered, as if he knew something Shane didn’t. “Taylor?”