Erotic Romantic Suspense
Where there's smoke, there's fire.
Evan Murdoch's firefighting career is on the line, his confidence shattered by a tragic accident that claimed the life of his girlfriend.
Neighbor Lillian O'Hara understands disaster all too well and refuses to jump into any fire.
But the passionate heat that unexpectedly flares between them forces them to confront the issues holding them back from what they most want.
When a quake traps them in a basement, the threat of a collapsing building will force them to decide if their red-hot attraction and their lives are worth the ultimate risk.
After fixing and eating a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, Lillian realized her garbage needed emptying before it spilled over. She glanced at her watch. The mall would open soon, and she could grab a novel she'd ordered from her favorite bookstore.
A good book. That's all I need.
Well, a hot man wouldn't hurt, either.
She strapped on her fanny pack and gathered up the trash bag as she left her apartment.
"Dream on, Lil," she muttered. "You've got about as much chance of dating hunk firefighter as you do of convincing your boss to give you a raise."
She treaded down the hallway to the staircase, intent on taking her garbage to the dumpster. She took the stairwell quickly, and almost reached the bottom floor when another dull pain rolled through her head.
A rumble echoed through the building, and as she took one more step, she lost her balance. Her left foot shot out from under her. Before she could do more than gasp in alarm and paw at the banister, she fell.
Hunk-of-a-neighbor came around the corner heading upstairs. "Whoa!"
Lil reached out for him at the same time he reached for her. Her left wrist wrenched and her right ankle twisted as she scrambled for a hold. A tiny cry of pain escaped her lips. He dropped his duffle bag. His left arm came around her waist while with his other hand he grabbed the banister. The trash bag bounced down the stairs.
The earthquake halted.
Hunk managed to keep them both upright. She gripped his shoulders and stared up into melting caramel brown eyes fringed by the darkest, most gorgeous eyelashes. At five-seven and medium build, she never felt petite around most men. This guy towered over her with his solid, big body.
Her fingers slipped over his white T-shirt down to his biceps. Oh, my. Yeah. Granite sinew shifted under her touch. Thick black hair waved close to his head and highlighted a face more rugged than handsome. A small scar above one brow and another near the corner of his wide, carved mouth caught her attention. His nose held an aristocratic tilt. His virile intensity spiraled off the charts.
A frown pinched his brows and as he shifted, his hard thighs snuggled against her. Her entire body reacted to his embrace, her throat dry and her belly fluttering with instant attraction.
Sparklers of pain ran through her wrist and ankle, and she gasped involuntarily.
"You all right?" His voice rumbled up from his chest, a deep and husky sound that sent another shiver through her frame.
Lil detected the slightest accent, something not exactly mainstream American. She couldn't place it.
She gave a wobbly smile. "I think I have some mild damage. Nothing to worry about."
He didn't look convinced. "Where are you hurt?"
She lifted her left hand from his shoulder and wiggled her fingers. "A wrenched right ankle and a twisted wrist. They'll be fine in a few minutes."
"Sit down and let me see."
He eased her into a sitting position on a step and sat down next to her. His large body crowded her, and she inhaled his musky, delicious scent.
He gripped her hand with big, gentle fingers, his work-callused skin brushing against her small digits and narrow palm. He felt around her wrist and explored like a doctor. Tingles raced through her skin under his careful exploration.
"Any more pain?" he asked, keeping a light grip on her wrist.
"It aches a little."
"At least it's not broken. It should feel better by tomorrow, but if not, see your doctor. Let's see your ankle."
Embarrassment heated her face. "I'm sure it's fine."
His gaze snapped to hers, then he released her hand. "I don't like to take chances. Turn to the side so I can check the ankle."
She did as told, turning on the step and swinging her foot toward him.
He lifted her ankle over his thigh. "I'm taking off your shoe for just a minute."
Nervous flutters danced in her stomach, and she smiled, feeling goofy and out of her element. Damn, she couldn't remember the last time a man made her feel this gauche.
She cleared her throat. "Sure, I'll bet you say that to all the girls."
He blinked and swung his gaze toward her, his lips parting. He looked a little startled.
"I mean, you know-" She stalled, mortified.
Oh, god. Shut up, Lil. You're a ditz. Heat flamed her face again.
His mouth tipped into a wide grin, his eyes sparkling as a chuckle came from his throat. "I arrange earthquakes all the time so beautiful women can fall into my arms, and I can touch their ankles."
Beautiful, eh? Everything feminine and naturally vain flared to life. Her heart picked up speed, and she felt a little breathless.
"Actually, no," she said. "I arranged the earthquake. I'm a seismologist."
His dark eyebrows quirked up and he removed her shoe. He felt around her ankle. Despite his professional attitude and touch, her heartbeat started a more frantic tattoo.
"Oh, yeah? Is that like being the weatherman when these earthquakes started?" he asked.
She smiled. "Exactly. We don't get any respect. I'm teasing, really. I'm an administrative assistant in the Earth Sciences department at the local branch offices of Denver University."
"You know a lot about quakes, though?"
She nodded. "It makes sense when I'm working in the department to know the details."
Another heart-stopping grin transformed his mouth. His eyes turned intent, searching. "So, why are we having all these quakes?"
She shrugged, not wanting to talk about work. "Plate tectonics. The usual."
"It's not usual for here."
She shook her head. "It's not as strange as you think. We have microquakes more frequently than people know."
"Earthquakes smaller than humans can usually feel."
Here I am on vacation, and I still can't get away from work.
His fingers pressed around her ankle, and she wished she didn't have on the white athletic sock. Feeling those fingers against her bare flesh again would be exquisite.
"I think I know you," she said into the silence. "You're my next-door neighbor. The firefighter."
He stopped examining her ankle, his gaze curious. "Which apartment are you in?"
"How did you know I'm a firefighter?"
"Cynthia across the hall. And your T-shirt."
He actually blushed and looked down at the front of his T-shirt at the emblem that declared him a member of the fire department and Station One. "Oh, yeah."