Read Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5) Online

Authors: Victoria Purman

Tags: #Romance, #Fiction

Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5) (4 page)

BOOK: Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)
13.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Even after all this time, even after a year of avoiding her, she’d tried to give him a damn cupcake. It was just like Cady Adams to be nice to him again. As he drove down Main Street, his memory stretched back a decade, back to high school, and he remembered the first time. When his mom had died and he’d gone back to school a couple days after the funeral, she’d searched him out, found him at the school gate after school and come to him, her bottom lip wobbling, her eyes wet with tears, and thrown her arms around him, right there in front of everybody. She hadn’t told him she was sorry, hadn’t told him it was God’s will, or fate, or that his mom had been brave. She hadn’t said one damn word. Just held him. And he’d tried so fucking hard not to cry that he went home with an aching jaw and a heart beating so fast in his chest he thought he was going to have a heart attack.

He left town a week later, running from the memories of his mom, from his father’s grief, from Mitch’s stoic big brother act, from a future that had lost all shape.

But now he was back and Cady Adams was still nice. Hell, she was more than nice. When she’d grabbed that cupcake and taken a huge chunk out of it, chewing it slowly, teasing him with her hot mouth, the heart attack feeling was back. When she’d licked her lips, smearing some of the gooey chocolate across her full mouth, he’d had to get out of there.

He’d kissed her before.

And suddenly, every memory of that night, four years ago, came flashing back into his brain. He’d been back in Glacier Creek for a week to see his family, having just finished up a job in Colorado. For old time’s sake, he’d gone to The Drop Zone, a bar in a landmark building in nearby Kalispell. It was long and narrow with a fifty-foot, carved oak bar that had been rescued from a former brothel in the old mining town of Taft, and it was full of character. The tin ceilings had scenes of the gold rush imprinted on the tiles and Dex had always liked the vintage jukebox next to the small dance floor. He hadn’t liked the songs so much—Hugh Ferguson, the bar’s owner and former captain at the Glacier Creek service station—was always playing old-time country, like Merle Haggard and Loretta Lyn. Dex preferred the new country artists himself, but those classic tunes were part of the whole atmosphere of the place.

He’d ordered a drink and found himself in the middle of a party. Someone he knew had called him over, telling him that Cady Adams from high school—did he remember Cady Adams—was heading out to some fancy catering school in California and that he should buy her a drink and wish her luck, for old times’ sake.

So Cady Adams was leaving. Dex knew that when people left Glacier Creek with big dreams, those dreams usually stayed too big for them to ever come back. But the thought of her leaving and never coming back had suddenly gutted him. He wasn’t sure why, because he’d been gone a long back in Glacier Creek, the place that still felt like home to him, no matter how much he drifted.

He’d maneuvered his way through the busy crowd of people, looking for Cady, and when a spot opened up next to her at the long, wooden bar, he’d quickly filled it.

Cady had turned her head and her gaze had hit his chest. She slowly looked up, her eyes wide and her lips parted in surprise. He’d never forgotten that look, or surprise, of wide-eyed interest, not in the four years since.

“Well, hello.” She’d called out, a sparkle brightening her eyes. And then her lips parted in a cute, little circle shape and she caught her breath. “Hell, Dex McCoy. Wow. Long time no see.”

“Yeah, you, too.” It had been six years since high school but he’d never forgotten her kindness. Or her eyes. He could see with a quick glance up and down her body that she wasn’t a school girl anymore.

“God, you’re…” She’d looked him up and down too and let out a big sigh. “You’re tall.”

Then she leaned in, her expression suddenly serious. “How’re your dad and your brother?”

“They’re good.” He had to change the subject. “I hear you’re leaving Montana.”

“Yessiree. I’m throwing off this hick town.” She’d waved a hand in the air dramatically. “I’m going to Cali-forn-i-a. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact.”

Dex looked to the back of the bar and the collection of bottles lit up by the bright overhead lights, restraining the sudden urge to taste those pouty lips of hers. He cleared his throat instead. “What’s in California?”

She huffed. “Besides the sun and the beach and Hollywood and all those wineries?”

“I prefer mountains, a lake, and a cold beer, myself.”

She’d eyed him up and down, clearly wondering why the guy who’d barely spoken a word to her since
was suddenly making conversation. If she figured it out, Dex wouldn’t have minded knowing the answer himself.

“I’m making something of my life, Dex McCoy. That’s what I’m doing.” She’d stumbled slightly, bumping against his shoulder and then grabbing his arm to steady herself. “I’m going to kick ass at a culinary institute in San Francisco. That’s what’s in California, cowboy. I’m going to learn all there is to know about baking.”

“You mean, like cakes? You can study that?”

“You bet your ass I can. Cakes and pastries and tarts and amazing desserts and the business side, too. I want to have my own shop one day, someplace where I can look out to the ocean every day and shwim if I want to.” She snorted. “Swim. I mean swim.”

“So, Cady wants a cake shop.”

She flicked her gaze to him, her eyes suddenly wide.

She grabbed his hand. “What did you just say?”

“Cady wants a cake shop?”

She let go of him and slammed her palm on the bar. “Hey, barkeep. Got a pen?”

Hugh found a pen under the counter and winked at her good-naturedly. “You wanting my number, Miss Cady?”

She giggled back at him. “I’ve just had a brilliant idea, Hugh.” And when a pen was offered, she scribbled something on the back of one hand, and then slipped the pen into the pocket of Dex’s checked shirt.

Dex watched her performance. “So, you’re heading off tomorrow.”

“Yep. I’m all packed. Mom and Gran have already started crying. Don’t know if they’ll stop the whole time I’m away.”

Cady had looked up at him then, her smile gone. He knew what she was thinking. She’d mentioned her mother, which made her think of his. Dex wished he’d had the words to thank her for that day at school, for what she’d done. But he still didn’t know what to say.

“Well, I guess I’d better buy you a drink to celebrate your new adventure. What’ll you have?”

Cady had held up a hand. “No. No. No. No. No. I’ve had more than enough. Don’t want to drive all the way to California with a hangover, right?”

Then she threw her head back and laughed and the move caused her to lose her balance a little and she stumbled, fell into him, her breasts pressing into his chest, her hands splayed across his pecs. She paused, moved her hands slightly, felt her way down to his stomach. He could feel her touch searing through his shirt. Damn. Cady Adams was in his arms again but this time he felt a whole lot of something other than grief.

Dex motioned to Hugh behind the bar for a glass of water for Cady and, after she’d slurped it down, she’d turned to look at him.

“Well, aren’t you a surprise, Dex McCoy.”

“I am?”

And then her scrutiny transformed into a surprised smile and, oh man, Dex knew exactly why he’d stayed away from Cady Adams. A man could disappear into her face.

“It takes me leaving Glacier Creek for you to finally talk to me. You that happy to see the back of me, huh?”

He clenched his jaw tight. “I never said that.”

She gripped a bicep, with both hands now, and leaned up to look more deeply into his eyes, as if she was examining the colors in his irises. She was so close, her breasts pressed against his forearm, that the twitch in his jaw felt like a spasm.

Settle down, McCoy
She’s drunk
. And all this flirting and touching was the whiskey talking. He could smell it on her breath, along with the wildflower smell of her long, dark brown hair.

“You know…” She lifted a hand and poked him in the chest with a pointed index finger. He startled and she poked him again. “You got muscles under there, Dex McCoy, that you damn well didn’t have in high school. And I know that because…” She waved the thought away. “You go to the gym?”

“The gym?” Dex laughed at the idea that he would have time to work out. “I don’t work out. I work.”

She splayed a hand on his chest. He became a statue, not wanting to read anything more into this than what it was, not wanting to like it too much. Because she was drunk and she was leaving. And so was he.

“Dex, in all these years living in Glacier Creek, since high school, this is the first time you’ve actually
to me. Not that you’re doing a lot of talking. You’re kind of monosyllabic, you know that? The strong, silent type, huh? Like to keep some mystery about you, do you? I guess that always works with the ladies?” She dramatically squeezed his bicep. “Do these work well with the ladies, too?”

“Drink some water.” He nodded at the refilled glass on the bar. Man, she was going to have one hell of a headache in the morning.

“Water is so boring. Unless it’s ice cubes.” And then she giggled and collapsed against him again.

He reached for her chin, tilted it up so she looked him in the eye. “You sure you’ll be all right to drive tomorrow?”

She pressed her cheek against his shoulder. “I’m not that stupid, Dex. I’m not driving. I’m riding shotgun. Simon Ford’s doing all the driving.”

Simon Ford. He knew that name only too well. Former high school jock and all-round asshole. Dex felt his spine stiffen, his teeth grind. He’d known Simon since high school, too. He’d been an asshole then and he was an even bigger asshole now. Last time Dex had seen him, the douchebag had been half-carrying, half-dragging a clearly drunk woman across the parking lot of The Drop Zone and into his truck. Dex had been about to drive home himself, but he’d hiked it across the lot in three seconds flat. To his angry annoyance, the woman had insisted over and over that she knew what she was doing and told him to get lost. In not so many words. He would never forget Simon’s expression—an ugly laugh and cold eyes and a mouth that settled into a smirk as he pushed the woman into the passenger seat.

And Cady Adams was going to spend sixteen hours in a car with that guy, driving all the way to California?

He turned to her, gently but firmly holding her shoulders so she would be forced to look at him.

“Follow me.” He took one of her hands in his. She didn’t move.

“I’m not going anywhere with you, Dex McCoy.”

He loosened his grip. “Please, Cady Adams. There’s something I need to tell you.”

She studied his face, and sighed. “Okay. Okay. I’ll follow you.”

Dex led Cady away from the bar, through a doorway that led into a hallway, and then left again into a room that must have been a fancy dining area once. It was used for a storage area now, judging by the folded trestle tables and stacked chairs.

It was quiet here. Dex knew the silence would give him time to find the right way to tell Cady what he had to stay. He hadn’t flicked on a light in the room and it was dark. Damn, he could smell Cady’s shampoo and hear her breathing, heavy and rhythmic, like she was trying to catch her breath.

“There’s something about Simon Ford. You can’t go with him.”

Cady laughed. “What?”

“I said…” He lowered his voice, taking a step closer. He realised he hadn’t let go of her hand and she hadn’t pulled hers from his. He urged her towards him. “You shouldn’t go.”

In the dim light, she moved closer, her sparkling eyes narrowing at him. “Last time I looked, this was my life, mister.”

“All I’m saying is, don’t get in a car with him.”

“Why not? He’s got some business there and he’s giving me a ride in his truck. I have stuff I need to haul and all my savings are going on the tuition. And anyway, why is this any of your business, Mr Dex McCoy?”

“It’s my business because he’s a piece of shit slimeball.”

She tried to shake her hand free but he wouldn’t let her. She dug her fingernails into his palm in retaliation.

“Where do
get off talking about Simon like that? He’s a friend and he’s… you know what? So what if we get it on at every truck stop between here and San Francisco. It will still be none of your beeswax. At least I’ve got a plan. Unlike you. Here in Montana one minute and then who knows where the next. Texas? Louisiana? Freaking Timbuktu? What’s
plan, McCoy? You’re nothing but a no good drifter, that’s what you are. Never want to get your feet wet, never want to get involved in anything. You just… leave. That’s what you do. At least Simon has ambition. He has drive to do something better with his life. As do I. So I’m heading to California no matter what you say. I’ve got dreams, Dex, and big ones. Which is something you clearly don’t understand.”

Cady poked a finger into his chest. Reflexively, he’d grabbed her other hand and suddenly they were close, so close he could feel her breath on his lips.

“I’ve got dreams,” he’d said almost under his breath.

And then the damnedest thing had happened. She’d kissed him. She’d tugged him close and smashed her lips onto his, and then she tore a hand free of his and it was in his hair, holding on, pulling him closer and his arm was around her, acting like it had a mind of its own, and, when she opened her mouth, he clashed his tongue with hers, and the sweet smell of her, and the whiskey taste of her and the feel of her body wrapped around sent him hard in half a second.

He’d wanted Cady Adams since that day in high school. And goddamn it, there she was, out of control, kissing him with a ferocious desire that he’d never seen or felt in any other woman. He pressed a hand to her breast, cupped her, flicked a thumb over her hard nipple and she moaned. He kissed her harder, and she moaned again, and that sound, that primal, Cady sound, had him out of control, too, his cock straining against his jeans, his hands itching to feel her skin.

When she tore her lips from his, she gasped his name. “Dex.” She panted and her hand smoothed over his shirt down his stomach, over his belt, and gripped his cock through his denims.

BOOK: Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)
13.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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