USA Today Bestselling Author
Morgan Farren, a ranger in the Adirondacks, hasn’t thought much about settling down. He likes his nice quiet life in the mountains where most of his interaction with people limited to those who enjoy the great outdoors as much as he does. However, when his sister shows up with her friend Izzy not only does he find himself questioning life away from civilization, he questions why he chose this path in the first place.
Senior Firefighter, Lizzy Cohen is the kind of woman who likes to party. If she’s not out at a nightclub, she’s not having a good time. And spending time in the great outdoors isn’t her idea of blowing off steam. But when a sexy park ranger starts pointing out the constellations, she finds herself realizing there’s more to life than Tequila.
After a large and traumatic crash, Lizzy is approached by her Captain Cade, to be sure she speaks with the psychiatrist before leaving the station. He knows that this incident could be a trigger for her with all the death and trauma. He also sends her co-worker and friend Emma to be sure of it. Emma invites her to get drinks and dinner with her and her brother Spencer and his wife Echo. While Lizzy could turn down Emma, she couldn’t ignore the text from Echo also inviting her. She and Echo had been friends years ago when Lizzy was known as Eliza. She didn’t know if Echo recognized her or not, it had been years and the circumstance surrounding her leaving were not pleasant.
Apparently Morgan, Echo’s brother was in town. Morgan is a forest ranger and preferred to spend his time on the mountain, he even had his home up there away from everything. This of course makes him a very desirable catch to the female population of Lake George. Even Lizzy has fantasized about a fling with him, but after more than one effort for a match-up between them has shown they aren’t really compatible.
This is a favorite scene.
Spencer held up his phone. “It’s the babysitter. We need to take this.”
“We should go out to the parking lot,” Echo said.
“It takes both of you to answer a call?” Lizzy twisted her hair. She was more girly-girl than the other firefighters that worked at the station and that surprised Morgan. Not that it was a problem, because he could do high heels and a skirt, but Lizzy was badass, so it just seemed like a bit of a contradiction.
But Lizzy was a walking contradiction to begin with.
“If you don’t have a child, you don’t have an opinion,” his sister said as she followed her husband out the front door. “I might join you in a shot,” Morgan said as he offered his arm. “I have a feeling this is going to be one of those nights.”
“You mean like that last time your sister tried to fix us up?”
“No. I mean more like the time my mom got in on the action.” He nodded in the direction of his folks, who were chatting with Spencer’s mother. “I have no idea why they think we’re a good fit. We’re worse than oil and water.”
“Actually, we have no idea. We’ve never taken each other out for a test drive.” Lizzy gave him a little hip check as they headed into the one of the side rooms where, thankfully, it would be quieter than the main room, but that could end up working against him if Spencer’s mother got in on the whole Morgan needs a good woman discussion.
Morgan’s father, in this particular scenario, would have his back for about five minutes. His brothers would absolutely stand up for him, and he suspected Lizzy would tell them all how she wasn’t even remotely attracted to him, but other than that, he was on his own.
“Are you suggesting we give all these people something to talk about?” he said with a short laugh.
“Abso-fucking-lutely-not. That would be like me buying anything generic. Not going to happen.”
“Ouch. That hurt.” He pulled out one of the chairs at their table.
“Oh. And I’m your style?”
“Can you go more than a day without taking a shower?”
“I can, but why would I want to? Besides, I generally smell like a fire, so I like to get rid of that smell.”
“You know, the smell of a campfire is pretty sexy,” he said.
“You’re not weird. You’re bizarre.” Lizzy leaned back. She always came off as strong and independent, but Morgan could see a darkness and perhaps a bit of sadness in her eyes. Of course, Morgan was a shitty reader of people and their inner secrets. He never trusted his first instincts, and his first of hers had been pretty bad.
But Lizzy had grown on him.
Though not as much as his mother would have liked.
“Are you serious about doing a shot with me? Because here comes our waiter.” Izzy pointed to a young man heading in their direction.
“Sure. Why not.” He wasn’t much of a drinker, so he would need to make sure his next round was water or he might be crawling home.
“Look at you taking a walk on the wild side.” Lizzy ordered a round of shots, for the entire table, along with a plate of appetizers, which he was insanely appreciative of since he hadn’t anything to eat since breakfast.
“So, what have you been up to these days? I think it’s been a couple of months since I’ve seen you last.”
Morgan wasn’t much of a conversationalist, but he’d mastered the art of small talk, which came in handy in situations like these.
“I’m looking to move.”
He arched a brow. “Really. Why?”
She shrugged. “It’s time for a change. New York is boring. I’m thinking about the Carolinas.”
“Have you already quit your job?”
“Nope.” She shook her head. “I’ve asked Cade to keep it quiet until I can find something and I’m going to have to do some recertification, so I want to be able to do that on my time off. I won’t be leaving for a few months. Unless Cade forces me to leave sooner.”
“He won’t do that. If he didn’t want you to stick around, he would have told you to consider the conversation your two-week notice.”
The Nash family and the Farrens were intertwined and while Cade was older than Morgan, he’d gotten to know the man since his brothers started working at Station 29. Cade was the kind of guy you wanted in your corner, but don’t cross him if you want to survive long term.
“He’s already asked me not to leave and told me he’d give me a glowing recommendation,” she said.
The waiter returned with their drinks.
He lifted the shot. “Here’s to you staying for the summer.”
She cocked her head. “Why?”
“I think you should come up to my neck of the woods and get away from all this noise. Let me show you how beautiful nature can be.”
“Are you propositioning me?”
He tossed his head back and laughed. “Lizzy. Trust me. I know better.”
“Good.” She raised her glass. “But I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll go to your mountain if you come dancing one night with me.” She wiggled her finger. “One night. And I know you’ll be back for the birth of your friend’s babies.”
“You’ve got to come to me first.”
He tapped the shot glass on the table before bringing it to his lips. He downed the clear liquid and pounded his chest. “Jesus. I forgot how harsh that shit was.”
“Are you kidding? It’s as smooth as butter.”
Before he could respond, the waiter set down a platter with a plethora of pre-game food for them to enjoy.
“Do you think your sister and Spencer are coming back? Or is it part of some bigger plan to get the two of us alone?”
“They’re in the building.” Morgan raised his water glass toward the front of the restaurant. “But they seem to be stalling.”
“In that case, I’m drinking your sister’s shot.” Lizzy reached across the table, snagged one of the shot glasses, and downed it in less than five seconds.
It amazed Morgan that she didn’t even make a face or need a chaser.
“I might as well follow suit since I’m staying across the street and don’t have to worry about driving home.” He downed the horrible liquid in one swallow, but he needed to chug his water after, and he knew he made the worst face known to man. He didn’t do shots well when he was younger, and it didn’t get better with age. “The last time I drank tequila, I had the worst hangover, and I hate to admit it, but I was throwing up all day.”
“You’re a lightweight.” Lizzy laughed.
“That is a truth I won’t try to deny.” He leaned to the side, eyeing his sister. “Damn it. She’s prepping to leave.”
Morgan nodded. “I can’t tell if maybe Spencer is staying or not.” He took out his cell.
Morgan: What the hell is going on?
Spencer: Our babysitter’s dad just went to the hospital. And that’s no bullshit.
Morgan: Shit. Sorry. What can I do?
Spencer: Not give your sister shit for leaving and I’m going to go with her even though she wants me to stay.
Morgan: Just go. Tell Echo I’ll stop by for breakfast.
Spencer: Thanks. She’ll like that.
“So, are you going to fill me in?” Lizzy leaned forward, taking a potato skin and stuffing half of it in her mouth.
He waved to the waiter. “Can we get the bill and a couple of to-go boxes?”
“What the fuck?” Lizzy dropped the tasty appetizer on the table. “You’re going to leave me here with all these people?”
“That’s up to you.” While he loved his family and he enjoyed all the Bryants, this was not how he wanted to spend his evening. “I’m going to take these fun foods and go hang out on my parents’ dock and watch the moon and stars dance over the lake. You are welcome to join me.” He leaned forward. “I know my dad has some good tequila, though I will stick with beer.”
“Suit yourself.” She pushed back and stood. “I’ll see you in the parking lot.”
He laughed. Now, all he had to do was sneak out without anyone noticing.
Jen Talty. Caught in the Flames: the FIRST RESPONDERS series book 5 (Kindle Locations 357-360). Jupiter Press.
This time there really is some heat between Morgan and Lizzy, as they talk and get to know each other.
While Lizzy is contemplation leaving Lake George, a complication arises. Her past is about to bite her as her parents are coming up for parole. The fire they set years ago, killed her best friend Karen and almost took her life as well.
There are more questions about that time and Lizzy has to face her past. Fortunately she has Morgan beside her this time.
Plenty of intrigue as this story unfolds and Morgan and Lizzy heat up the pages in their own inferno.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.