Leilani’s plan was simple: Return for her father’s wedding, housesit for the happy couple while they went on their honeymoon, then get the hell outta dodge. She’d thought the worst thing would be returning to the town she grew up in (and despised). She was wrong.
A flashflood hits the small town, stranding Firefighter, Ryan, and a few strangers at the local bar. Worst of all, Leilani, his old high school rival – and last night’s scorching one-night-stand – is one of the people stuck in the bar. With waters rising, they need to stick together and wait for rescue.
The power grid’s knocked out, and cell phones aren’t working. When the others panic and leave, Leilani and Ryan are left alone in the dark. Fortunately, words aren’t necessary to keep the former rivals warm. But when they’re forced to leave their refuge, they must cooperate to navigate the flood ravaged town and reach safety.
Rising waters bring them closer together. Rising tempers might tear them apart.
A “heavenly flower” watched him from across the room. Ryan felt the weight of her gaze on him before checking her out more subtly in the mirror behind the small hotel bar. Was it really Leilani, though? By the time he turned to check for sure, she was gone. He shook his head and took another sip of his beer. He tugged at his collar and sent a little hatred at weddings in general. This one wasn’t terrible, less showy than most, though he still had to wear stiff, formal clothes.
Not that his turnouts were comfortable, but at least there was a point to his work gear; it protected him from fires. Nothing protected him from the small talk of the people around him. Yes, it was a nice wedding. Yes, it was amazing how they’d managed to make the room “their own” with only some crepe paper and balloons. No, he wasn’t seeing anyone. Yes, the cucumber sandwiches were delicious. Yes, Mildred’s hat was lovely. No, he wasn’t in a firefighter’s calendar. Yeah, he got the joke about his “pole.” Yes, he was single. No, he wasn’t interested in being set up on a blind date.
He didn’t begrudge good people good things, but it was like life was rubbing his face in the fact he hadn’t found anyone since Melanie had left him just over a year ago. He’d found a lot
of someone’s since her, but a relationship wasn’t something for him. Hell, even Melanie had gotten married.
To the bastard she cheated on him with.
He took another swig of beer, wishing he was somewhere quieter.
He’d met Kyle “Spence” Spencer, four years ago at the twelve-week training program to be a firefighter, and they’d been buddies ever since. They’d saved each other’s lives a couple times, and he was the reason Ryan was sitting in dress pants, dress shirt, and a tie that felt like it was choking him. Ironically, Spence had left his dad’s wedding early to go back to the station, refusing Ryan’s offer to go for him, knowing Ryan had just come off working two twenty-four hour shifts with only ten hours in between. The flu going around was kicking their station in the teeth, and they couldn’t wait until they were only working fifty-six hours a week again.
So here he was at the Spencer wedding. And—duh—that “flower” he’d thought he’d seen. Yeah, it had to be Leilani. Spence’s little sister wouldn’t have missed her father’s nuptials. They just looked so different.
Kyle’s sister. His buddy Kyle’s little sister. His co-worker and buddy Kyle’s off-limits little sister. He hadn’t seen her since he graduated high school—two classes ahead of her—but oh, how she’d grown up.
Still, Spence’s sister was off-limits, even though he’d known her since she was a varsity cheerleader, and he’d been the star quarterback, adored by everyone. He’d played football because he was good at it and it was an easy ride—not because he really loved the game. He’d gotten a full scholarship to college, but had no interest in going pro. He’d wanted to do something with his life. Not like it had done him any good in the present. He was still going home to an empty house—
unless he took someone warm and wild home with him. If Leilani wasn’t his best friend’s sister, they’d be in his truck now.
Instead, he sat watching happy couples do the chicken dance. It was definitely time to go. He hadn’t expected to have a family at this point, but he’d thought at twenty-six he’d have found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. It certainly hadn’t been Melanie, no matter how badly he’d wanted it to be.
He slid from his stool. Hard work and hot sex were all he wanted. Screw marriage and commitment. They just complicated things. He was good at no strings. He was good at setting a woman’s senses on fire with pleasure and fine with the one-and-done kind of mindless sex.
And maybe that was all he was good for.
Tamara Mataya is currently a librarian; she lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that she suspects they only hired her so it would be less creepy. Now she’s armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. She’s also a musician with synaesthesia – which isn’t an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which makes her want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.