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Authors: Samantha Sommersby

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Touch of Fire

BOOK: Touch of Fire
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Touch of Fire

By

Samantha Sommersby

eBooks are
not
transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement of the copyright of this work.

TOUCH OF FIRE

Copyright © 2005 SAMANTHA SOMMERSBY

All Romance eBooks, LLC

Clearwater, Florida 33761

www.allromanceebooks.com

This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or business establishments, events, or locales is coincidental.

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

First All Romance eBooks publication: February 2010

Sectond All Romance eBooks publication: April 2013

Dedication

This book is dedicated to the brave men and women who fight our wildfires here in southern California. You are true heroes.

Chapter One

Ash rained down from the blackened sky like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Thick, acrid smoke blocked the sunlight. Garrett Flint removed his helmet and wiped the sweat from his brow. He frowned as he surveyed the canyon in front of him and the devastation beyond. He’d been within thirty minutes of ending his shift when the initial call had come. It had taken only a few hours for the fire to grow to mammoth proportions. The winds were high and almost constantly shifting. Despite everyone’s efforts to control it, the fire raged on—unrelenting, consuming fuel, and destroying lives. It was the worst he’d ever seen, yet it was only the beginning.

“Flint! You were supposed to leave an hour ago,” Captain Peter Porter shouted.

Garrett moved away from the canyon’s edge toward his captain. “You need the help. There’s no way you’re going to contain this with the men you have.”

“There’s no way we’re going to contain it, period. We were lucky to get the area evacuated. Go home and get some sleep like a good little firefighter.”

“But—”

“No buts. This one’s gonna last a while. You’ll have another chance.” The captain tossed his keys to Garrett. “Take the truck. We’ve got reinforcements coming.”

“Things change, you call.”

“We’re going over to the next block. Hopefully we’ll gain ground there. I’m afraid this one’s lost.”

“It’s only got the east side of the house. We might be able to keep it from spreading.”

The upstairs windows exploded, sending shards of glass everywhere.

“Don’t think so, son.” Peter shook his head. “See you in forty-eight hours.”

“Stay safe. I’d hate to have to break in a new captain.”

Peter walked down the path alongside the house and climbed on board the engine. Within seconds it pulled away, leaving Garrett behind.

Through the smoke and ash he could see a small pool house below. A sense of foreboding washed over him as he lifted his hand to shade his eyes. He couldn’t remember whether anyone had checked the pool house for occupants. Another window shattered from above, driving him to action.

Garrett raced down the twenty or so stone steps, around the edge of the pool, and up to the door. After knocking loudly to no effect, he tried the doorknob. The French door opened.

“Hello?”

No reply.

“Time to go home, Garrett ol’ boy.” He turned to retrace his steps and stopped dead in his tracks. There, framed in the bedroom window, was a woman. She lay in bed, her golden hair surrounding her face like a halo. The image was surreal. An untainted angel, peacefully sleeping while the fires of Hell unmercifully burned around her.

Garrett entered the small cottage through the still open door. He quickly made his way through the living room and into the bedroom. Leaning over her, he rapidly assessed the woman’s condition. Her breathing was shallow but steady.

“Miss! Miss! San Diego Fire Department here!” No response.
Damn it, not another one!
He pulled off his glove and searched her neck for a pulse.

The second he touched her, her eyes fluttered open and sought out his. Overcome with panic, she lashed out at him.

“Stop fighting me!” Garrett covered her body with his, lifting her hands above her head and stilling her movements.

As her head thrashed back and forth in the dim light he saw the bright yellow earplugs she’d stuffed in her ears. He held her head securely in place and pulled one out.

“I’m with the fire department. You’ve got to evacuate. The area is on fire and has been for some time. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” She pulled out the other plug. “I’m sorry. I thought—”

“It’s all right. Let’s go.” He quickly made his way over to the window and looked out to gauge the progression of the fire.

“I need to get dressed.” The woman climbed out of the bed, then stumbled, bumping into the nightstand and knocking over a lamp. “Ow!”

Garrett reached for her hand. “No time.” He led her out the door of the pool house and up the stone steps.

“Oh, my God!” she gasped.

They were at the top of the landing. The woman stopped dead in her tracks, she seemed paralyzed by the imagery surrounding them. The main house was completely ablaze, the heat scalding. She stumbled backwards and cried out in anguish. Before Garrett could utter another word, she began to slide bonelessly to the ground.

He stepped toward her, glass crunching under his boots. “Oh no, stay with me, darlin’.” Garrett caught her in his arms before she hit the ground. In a practiced move he threw her over his shoulder, ran for his truck, and tossed her inside. The entire block was now up in flames. Soon everything would be gone. Forever.

As he secured her seat belt, he registered, for the first time, the cuts on her bare feet and the slight tear in the hip of her ash smudged white slip.

She started to cough.

“Here.” Garrett reached for a respirator and quickly positioned it. “Breathe slowly.”

The woman’s hair was a tangled mess, her eyes red-rimmed from the smoke. Wordlessly she followed his command while he ran round to the driver’s side of the truck. Within seconds he’d started the vehicle and slipped it into gear. As he drove them through the hills to safety, the woman rested her head against the glass of the window and let her tears silently fall.

It took them forty minutes to reach the stadium, which had been turned into a temporary shelter. In that time the woman hadn’t spoken a word. Garrett didn’t mind, at first, since he was exhausted himself. In fact, he was so lost in his own thoughts that he was grateful for the quiet. But now that they had reached the entrance to the stadium, he couldn’t help being a bit concerned. Her small hands trembled as they fisted the thin fabric of her slip.

“Miss? We’re here.”

She looked at him, her deep green eyes overflowing with emotion. “Thank you seems so inadequate. You saved my life.” She opened the door to the truck and climbed out, wincing the second her foot hit the ground.

She shut the door before he could say anything else. Almost instantly a man approached her. Garrett sat up. The man placed one hand on her shoulder, leaning in too close, acting too familiar.

“She’s not your problem, Garrett. Just go on home,” he said to himself. Only he couldn’t. The man seemed predatory, the woman vulnerable. An uneasy feeling formed in the pit of his stomach, one he couldn’t ignore. So he hopped out of the truck and headed straight for the pair.

“Are you all right? Why don’t you come with me?” The man placed his hand at the small of her back. “It looks like you’ve got some cuts that need tending to. We have a first aid station set up right over there. I’m Ron, by the way. And you are?”

“With me.” Garrett interrupted the man.

“I thought you were dropping her off.”

“I changed my mind.” Garrett reached for her elbow to guide her back to his truck. She was limping and obviously in pain. Effortlessly, he scooped her up.

“What are you doing? Put me down!”

Garrett was undeterred. “You can barely walk.” He set her down next to the truck, opened the passenger door, then helped her inside.

“Let me see that foot.” He knelt down to examine it. There was glass embedded in the soft tissue along with blood, dirt, and grime. “We’ve got to get this taken care of.”

Removing his coat, Garrett tossed it into the back of the truck. He unclipped his cell phone from his belt and opened it up. “Can I take you over to an urgent care center or maybe there’s a friend we could—”

“It’s not that bad. The man said there’s a first aid center somewhere nearby. Maybe you could drop me there?” She folded her arms protectively over her breasts. “I don’t know anyone here. I’m not from San Diego.”

Garrett lifted her chin so he could look her in the eye, “I’m Garrett Flint. They call me Flint for the most part. My mother still calls me Garrett, and you can too if you like.” He waited a moment, then smiled. “There. Now you know someone.”

“A firefighter named Flint?”

He scratched the back of his head. “I thought about arson as a possible career path, but the threat of prison always looming in the background soured me on the idea.”

“Nicole.” She extended her hand. “Nicole Brooks.”

Garrett grasped it. “So, the house wasn’t yours?”

She shook her head and gazed outside. “I was going to close the house up this morning and head back home. It was my father’s. He died a few days ago. Heart attack. He had a massive coronary while doing his latest secretary on top of his desk. God, how my mother would have appreciated the irony of that.” Smiling, she inconspicuously wiped tears from her eyes.

“Where’s home, Nicole?”

“I live in Sonoma. My car—”

“I’m afraid it’s gone.”

Nicole wrapped her arms around her frail frame and shivered. “It’s cold.”

“You’re probably in a bit of shock.” Garrett turned her body and tucked her back in the truck. “I’d wager your foot is going to hurt like a son-of-a-bitch as soon as it wears off.” He closed the door and walked around the truck to the driver’s side. “Let me turn the heater on for a few minutes; it’ll warm you up.”

“I’ll be all right.”

Garrett spared her a sideways glance as he started the truck and adjusted the temperature.

“Better?”

Nicole nodded.

He began to dial his phone. “I’ve got to make a call.”

A familiar voice answered. “Hello?”

“Angela? I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number. I was trying to call Mrs. Thompson.”

“You dialed the right number,” Angela replied. “The Thompsons are at Mercy. Mr. Thompson fell, and it looks like he’s broken his hip.”

“Christ, when it rains it pours. Is he going to be all right?”

“He will be; he’s in surgery now.”

“Thank you. I really owe you one.”

“Not a problem. How are the fires, Flint? Is it as bad as they say?”

Garrett glanced at Nicole. “Probably worse.”

“You must be exhausted. Brenda and I both have the day off. We were planning on going to the zoo. Why don’t you let us take Sam for a few hours so you can sleep?”

“I wouldn’t say no to a few hours sleep and a long, hot shower.”

“Speaking of hot, it’s going to be hot today, and there’s a certain dress Sam wants to wear.”

“I’ll be there soon; I’m only about twenty minutes away.” Garrett climbed back inside the vehicle and tossed his cell onto the dash.

“I should stay here,” Nicole said.

Garrett noticed Ron still staring at them. He closed the door and threw the truck into gear.

“No. You really shouldn’t. I’m taking you home. You can get cleaned up and sorted, get your foot taken care of. Then, we’ll get you back to Sonoma.”

“It sounded like you have someplace you need to be.”

“Home. I’m not far from here. We’ll swing by the fire station so I can get my car and then make a quick stop to pick up Sam.”

BOOK: Touch of Fire
12.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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