Chloe Addison is on the verge of a promising career in real estate development until an explosion destroys her first major project and casts suspicion on her in an arson investigation. Her career is suddenly at risk—and possibly her life.
Firefighter Ryan Monroe wants a spot on the arson team, and getting close to Chloe might be the best way to solve his first investigation. Despite a painful past of his own, Ryan has dedicated himself to saving people, and when he realizes Chloe is in danger, she’s no exception. He just might be the perfect guy to rescue her, but their attraction could bring them both down in flames.
“There’s about eighty thousand people in Ridgeport,” Ryan said, still surveying the streets below. “And on any given day, there’re fires, car accidents, construction mishaps, heart attacks, drug overdoses… You name it, we’ve got it.” He faced her again, his eyes soft and contemplative. “And every third day, I’m right in the middle of all of it.”
Chloe swallowed past the lump of worry lodging itself in her throat. “I know.”
The ear-splitting shriek of the firehouse alarm sounded beneath them, and Chloe jumped as the dispatcher’s voice boomed through the night air, muffled by the brick walls. Ryan ran his hand along her shoulder to soothe her. A moment later, an engine rumbled to life down below, sending a tremor through the entire building.
“That’s Engine Three. You should feel it inside the cab. When Coop’s got us going at a good clip, it’d give any amusement park ride a run for its money. The ladder truck’s even stronger. You’d think an earthquake was hitting when you’re up here.”
“You must spend a lot of time up here if you can recognize all the trucks based on how much they shake the building.”
He laughed and threw a quick glance down toward his boots. “Not so much anymore, but I used to be up here a lot, especially after I got hurt and I couldn’t work for a while. I hung around the house all the time watching everything. Learning.”
The engine rolled out of the garage, sirens wailing and lights flashing as it rushed off to a call. Ryan faced Chloe, and his eyes filled with a sincerity she’d rarely seen in other men. Not in Christopher. Certainly not in her father.
“This is me,” he said. “It’s who I am. Even now, I’m not even on shift, and every part of me wants to run down there and hop on that damned truck and do whatever I can to help, wherever they’re going. It’s not something I can turn off at the end of the day.”
“I know.” The jacket did little to ward off the chill she felt at his words, but she pulled it tighter around her. She stepped toward him, wishing he wasn’t so close to the edge despite the four-foot high concrete border preventing them from falling. “I love that about you, how selfless you are.”
He shook his head with a disagreeing laugh. “I’m not selfless. I’m one of the most selfish people I know. I need this, to feel good about myself, to feel like I have some kind of purpose. And not in a flashy way, like Jeremy. I don’t need the bugles or the commendations or the pats on the back like I’m some kind of hero. I need it for myself. But all this…” he swung an arm out over the city. “This is hard. If we do this, you’re going to be scared, and you’re going to worry, and some nights, you’re going to hate me for this job. But you’ve got to be okay with it. It won’t work if you’re not. And I’ll understand if you’re not, but I have to know now before I get in so deep I can’t dig my way out. I made that mistake once, and I can’t make it again.”
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About the Author
A lifelong resident of northern New Jersey, Dawn Altieri has been scribbling stories practically since birth. After reaching a milestone birthday (she won’t say which one), she figured it was about time she took a shot at writing professionally.
With an overactive imagination and a slightly twisted mind, she enjoys reading dark and dangerous tales almost as much as writing them. When she’s not curled up on the sofa with her laptop, her latest story, a box of chocolates and a cup of tea (or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day), she can be found volunteering in the world of animal rescue. She shares her home with her husband and daughter, and a menagerie of rescued fur-babies.