Fire Marshals Need Love Too
LM has graciously allowed me to invade her blog again with the latest installment of the Uniform Encounters series – Secret Fire. I love writing about sexy men in uniform – I mean, why wouldn’t I? As they say, it’s a tough job…Well, I’m sure you know where I’m going with that. But why a fire marshal?
When I’m not lost in a world of hot men, I’m expected to show up at the shopping mall located in a coastal town near to where I live. They’re real fussy about me actually being there before they send me a paycheck. I know, some people, right? As it turns out, our mall isn’t the most well-maintained place on the planet, but it works in my favor. You see, the fire alarm is constantly being randomly triggered. I bet you know where this is going as well *wink* Yup. Every time I hear that annoyingly loud honk, I race outside and wait for the big red truck to show up. I keep a lawn chair and a bucket of popcorn at the ready for such moments. Okay, in my mind I do.
Once a year, there is a very special personal visit. This one is from the local fire marshal who comes around to check for possible code violations. *ahem* Sometimes he brings a young pup…I mean, a new recruit with him for training. *fans self* Typically, I’ve been very naughty so he has to return to make sure I’m not violating…Okay, this whole post has got completely out of control. But in a good way. How about a little fire marshal hotness from Secret Fire so you get the idea of what I mean?
Police officer Zach and Fire Marshal Daryl would be perfect together—if they would ever quit fighting long enough to find out. A devastating fire and the secret behind it almost keeps them from getting what they really need—each other.
Mesa police officer Zach is a fun-loving guy. Now that he’s hit the big three-oh, he’s looking to stop the hook-up train and find someone he can get serious about. When a mutual friend suggests Fire Marshal Daryl, Zach assumes he must be joking. The surly marshal has given cranky a new meaning. It’s unfortunate, though, since he is one fine-looking man.
Daryl has sworn off relationships ever since he caught his ex-partner cheating. He’s always taken everything in life seriously—from jobs to relationships—and is afraid he might be alone in that regard. Certain he can’t risk love again, he panics when he sees his secret crush Zach approaching him at a police versus firemen softball game. He’s nervous, as he is socially challenged with a tendency to blurt out the wrong things. It gets worse when he realises their shared buddy gave Zach a push. He assumes that Zach is only talking to him out of pity.
Zach has been pissed off at Daryl ever since they got into a verbal sparring match at the park. Yet, when Daryl comes to his aid during an explosive fire, Zach wonders what secrets might be hidden beneath the layers Daryl has built to protect himself from the world—and love. A night of passion turns into the possibility of something more as they struggle to find their way to one another. But all of that is threatened when there is a devastating fire that causes many people to lose their lives. As they work together to uncover the truth, someone thinks they’ve asked too many questions—and plans to stop them before they can ask any more.
Excerpt From Secret Fire (Uniform Encounters 5)
Having some time away from Daryl had allowed him to appreciate the one major difference between them. The reason Daryl said stupid shit all the time wasn’t because he was trying to be an ass, but because he didn’t have anything else to replace it with. Once Zach had embraced that truth, his annoyance at some of the things that had gone on between them had dissipated.
Which brought his mind back to dangerous territory. Places where he dreamt of Daryl’s magic tongue and devilish fingers. Zach adjusted himself in the chair.
Getting to know each other, remember?
Daryl strolled into the café, obviously not having spotted Zach yet. He had purposely picked a booth in the back so they could have some privacy and so he could watch Daryl enter the room. He wanted to get the ogling out of the way before Daryl became aware of his presence. Since it was a workday, Daryl was in his uniform.
Finally, Daryl turned his way and Zach waved him over. He didn’t dare stand up. No point in stroking his ego too much. The bratty kid inside of Zach still wanted to make him pay some more for the other night. He was, however, thrown off somewhat by the bright smile on Daryl’s face.
Daryl slid in beside him and there was a brief moment where Zach was sure he was going to lean in for a kiss, then caught himself.
That’s it right there. He fucks with his own head.
“It’s nice to see you.”
Daryl looked surprised at Zach’s words. “Same here. Really nice.”
Daryl’s chin lowered and he fumbled with the menu that lay on the table.
As I always say, fuck it.
Zach scooted over and took the menu from Daryl’s hand. When he looked up, Zach clamped onto his mouth, pushed in and made a quick sweep with his tongue. He pulled away and waited for Daryl’s response. There were a couple of seconds while Daryl recovered his composure—at least most of it.
“I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Yeah. I figured. Let me ask you something—did you want to do that when you first sat down?”
Daryl cleared his throat and glanced around the room, picking at the menu. Without facing Zach he answered. “Uh-huh.” He turned to Zach. “Why?”
“Then why didn’t you?”
Daryl frowned. “Are you going to get mad at me again?”
Zach burst out laughing. The server picked that moment to approach them. Since Zach only had an hour before he had to head back home and get ready for his shift, they ordered quickly. Zach waited until the woman took their menus and walked away.
“To answer your question, I’m not mad at you at all. Now, can you answer mine? If you wanted to kiss me, why didn’t you just go ahead and do it?”
Daryl rubbed his beard, seemingly lost in thought.
I do like me some facial hair. That was nice.
“Um, I’m not sure.”
Zach raised his eyebrows at him, a silent indicator that he wasn’t buying his answer and to try harder.
“Dammit,” Daryl muttered under his breath. “Okay, here it is. I’m never sure if what I’m saying or doing is the right thing, so I… I guess I try and take the safe way out.”
“Except when you’re spouting off with incredibly inappropriate things.”
Daryl crossed his arms in front of him. “Did you ask me here today so you could ream me some more about the other night?”
Zach could sense the shift in the vibe between them. He knew he was partially to blame. “Relax, I’m not trying to start anything. I genuinely want to figure you out, understand you.”
Daryl pressed his lips together as if he wasn’t sure he believed Zach. He could detect an undercurrent of stress or worry with Daryl.
Maybe I make him nervous.
Zach decided to take it from a different angle. “Maybe you don’t practice enough.”
“Practice? Practice what?”
Zach shrugged. “Doing and saying the first thing that pops in your mind. Go with the flow. Not worry about how it comes across. Be yourself. All those good things. Because you let stuff slip out anyway and it usually ends up being epically disastrous.”
Daryl snorted. “I’m unpopular as it is. That sounds like a risky venture.”
Zach reached under the table and prised Daryl’s hands loose from where he still held them across his middle. He grabbed the one closest to him and laced his fingers through Daryl’s.
“Fuck popular, remember?”
Daryl brought his smirk out to play, then dropped his gaze. Zach tugged on him.
“What? Tell me.”
This time when he lifted his head, he looked right into Zach’s eyes, his stare as intense and soul-baring as it had been when they had got one another off.
“I don’t care about popular. I only care about you.”
When he takes my advice he really goes for it.
“That was perfect, Daryl, absolutely perfect.”
Daryl squeezed his hand and leaned in for a kiss.
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