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The Firefighter's Fiance

Read the first 2 chapters right here!

Hey, I get it. Nothing to be sorry about. Life is busy, especially at this time of year.

Sometimes I’m super jazzed about a book, but I don’t get to reading it for a while. Sometimes it takes a friend or two to remind me why I WANT to read it. Sometimes just a reminder email, and I go, “Oh, yeah! I’ve got that book! Let me open it right now!”

🙂 This can be any of those for you. No matter what, I want it to be EASY to read my books. Easy to find them on a variety of retailers, including libraries. Easy to find them in your country. Easy to read them anywhere you read – your phone, an eReader, on an app, in your web browser.

So if you have a few minutes, keep reading for the first couple of chapters of THE FIREFIGHTER’S FIANCÉ – that free book you got a few weeks ago!

If you can’t remember where you got it, you should be able to find it inside the BookFunnel app, or perhaps you had BookFunnel send it to your device…

Either way, enjoy this cowboy romance between a firefighter and the Fuller who wants to leave the family business!

THE FIREFIGHTER’S FIANCÉ - Chapter One:

THE FIREFIGHTER’S FIANCÉ - Chapter One:

Cora Wesley tipped her head back, the bottom of her ponytail brushing down her back as she laughed. The atmosphere in the karaoke bar vibrated with energy, with sound waves from the stage, with chatter and laughter and friendship.

She quieted, realizing she was the only woman at the table of firefighters. She’d been in Brush Creek for a year and had gotten used to the nearly female-free department, but she knew she sometimes stuck out like that one Christmas light that kept blinking when it was supposed to stay steady.

She picked up her strawberry lemonade and licked the sugary rim while the firefighter currently telling jokes started in on another one. A pause of silence in the music behind her alerted her to the change in singers, and the next song began. A horrible, nasally voice started on the lyrics, causing her to twist to see what poor soul had decided to take the mic and try to sing an Adele song—clearly out of her vocal range.

Not that Cora was a good singer by any stretch of the imagination. But she knew her limits and wouldn’t embarrass herself on purpose. The redhead on stage glanced around nervously, her eyes landing on a table of women a couple over from Cora and her squad of bulky firefighters. All the women had been eyeing their table the entire evening, and while none of her firemen buddies had made a move, they’d all noticed.

The amount of flexing and loud laughter testified of that. Cora couldn’t help joining in. She liked her friends at Station House Two, and if she didn’t come out on Friday nights with them, she’d be excluded in their camaraderie by more than her gender.

Plus, she liked going out with them. There were only so many hours in a day that she could run and lift weights. She drained the last of her lemonade, vowing not to order another. She wasn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, but she needed to meet certain physical standards to apply for the interagency hotshot crews. She wanted the Great Basin crew, so she could stay in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. But Cora would take any crew that would take her.

So with a determination to put in another fifty pushups after she returned to her solitary, quite apartment that night, she tuned back in to Jorge’s joke about a duck and why he couldn’t cross the road.

As the other men broke into another round of raucous laughter, her phone blinked and vibrated the table in front of her. She swiped it into her lap to read her sister’s text. Helene was already married and settled in Vernal, where Cora’s parents lived. Where she’d been raised.

Mom wants to know if you’re coming to the family anniversary party.

Cora’s stomach twisted and her mouth felt sour—and not because of the lemonade she’d drunk. The family anniversary party was a celebration of the day the Wesley family had begun—the day her parents had gotten married forty years ago.

She started thumbing out a response when Helene added It’s a big one. Forty years.

Cora erased her rejection to her older sister. She couldn’t miss the forty-year anniversary. Thirty-nine, sure. Forty-one, definitely. But not this one.

She sighed, her mind far from the party atmosphere now. The waitress approached their table, and her friends ordered more sodas, but Cora waved her hand. Someone asked her something, but her thoughts lingered on what family functions used to be like for her. They were so much easier when she had someone to attend them with.

“Do you want to add your name to the list?” Charlie, the man seated next to her, asked.

“Yeah, sure,” she said distractedly, an idea churning in her head now. If she could take someone to the family anniversary party, things would be easier for everyone. No one knew what to say to her now, without Brandt on her arm. She glanced at the six men she spent most of her life with. Maybe one of them….

She banished the thought before it could truly take root. Her ex, Brandt, had been a firefighter, and she wasn’t interested in getting involved with another one. They were great friends. Great boyfriends. Not great husbands, at least in her experience.

She knew she was being totally unfair. There were several married firefighters and their wives seemed happy enough. It was just a bad match, she told herself, signaling for another lemonade despite her promise to herself.

Well? Are you coming?

Helene wouldn’t be put off, and if Cora didn’t answer her, she’d call. So Cora picked up her phone and said, Yes, I’ll be there.

Bringing anyone?

At that moment, Charlie plucked her phone from her hand. “You’re missing out,” he said, placing it face-down on the table on his left, out of her reach.

“It’s my sister,” she said, panic rearing in her chest now.

“Kent asked what song you’re singing.” Charlie nodded to the man sitting next to Cora on her other side.

Confusion needled her. “Singing?” She scoffed. “I’m not singing.” Sure, she’d come to the karaoke bar, but she never sang.

“You told Charlie to tell Sissy to put you on the list,” Kent said. “I thought it was weird.” He nodded toward the phone. “Let me see that.”

Cora made a lunge for her device as Charlie passed it over to him, both of them chuckling. She’d learned in the first day at the Brush Creek Fire Department not to keep anything sensitive on her phone. They got passed around like sticks of gum, and she sometimes texted her mates from someone else’s phone.

“It’s nothing,” she said.

“Family anniversary party,” Kent read, his dark eyes squinting in concentration. A whistle followed. “Wow, forty years.” He handed the phone back to her. “Are you going with anyone?”

No one in Brush Creek knew she’d been married before, and she wanted to keep it that way. She’d dated at least a dozen men in the year she’d been in town. Dated wasn’t really the right word. She went to dinner with a guy and then didn’t call him back. Or hung out with a man for a couple of weeks before settling into friend territory.

She’d met a few men that stirred her interest, but her goal of landing on a hotshot crew always kept her focus away from starting something serious. She simply wasn’t interested in serious.

“I don’t know.” Cora sighed out her answer. She looked at Kent and then Charlie, wondering if she could ask one of them to go with her. Kent probably would. He’d been one she’d eaten burgers with and then brushed off.

Kent flipped her ponytail like an annoying older brother. “Still no boyfriend, then?”

Cora snorted, all the answer that question required.

The conversation at the table quieted, and Cora glanced around, wondering if her disgust at Kent’s question had really been that loud.

“Go on, then,” Jorge said, folding his giant arms and making his biceps bulge. It was a miracle the women a couple of tables over didn’t faint at the sight.

“Go on where?” Cora asked, reaching for her refilled glass of lemonade.

“They just called your name.” He nodded toward the stage, and Cora whipped her attention behind her so fast her neck sent a shock of pain down her spine.

Kent nudged her out of her seat and Charlie pushed her toward the steps amidst her protests. Along the way, she passed a table of men, all of them with sandy hair and light eyes. They smiled at her in what she was sure was meant to be encouragement.

She knew who they were; everyone knew the Fullers. But she didn’t know any of the men by name, only reputation, and when one nodded at her, his grin fading to the natural strong set of his jaw, she paused.

All noise fell away, leaving just a silent conduit from her to this handsome Fuller man seated furthest from her.

Somehow, her feet took her up the steps to the stage, and it seemed like everyone in the bar had suddenly run out of things to say to one another. With sixty pairs of eyes on her, she gripped the mic and pointed to the song she wanted to sing.

The music started, a slow ballad of a childhood song she’d grown up belting out with her brother and sister. She closed her eyes just before starting on the first line, really losing herself to the moment and hoping with everything in her that she didn’t make a complete fool of herself.

“Lying in my bed, I hear the clock tick and think of you.”

She opened her eyes, her gaze locking onto the man watching her intently now. One of his brothers elbowed him, but he didn’t look away from her.

Cora didn’t need to look at the screen to keep singing. She belted out the chorus with accuracy, putting on a good show as she became aware of her firefighter crew yelping and whooping their encouragement.

But she absolutely couldn’t look away from the mystery man who’d captured her attention in a single moment of time.

He got up and went over to the table where she’d been sitting with her back to him, leaning down to say something to Charlie. Kent joined the conversation, and Cora’s blood boiled because no doubt they were talking about her.

“Time after time,” she sang into the mic. “Time after time.” One last big breath, and she ended with another, “Time after time,” in the best breathy Cyndi Lauper voice she could muster. The 80s music faded, leaving only her, alone on the stage in her tight black jeans and flowing black tank top, her hand dropping to her side as if the mic were too heavy to hold up for another moment.

She handed it to Sissy and stumbled toward the steps, at the bottom of which Kent and Charlie were now clapping. Before she’d even gotten both feet on solid ground, Kent pushed her toward the man who’d singlehandedly gotten her pulse racing and said, “Here’s your next date, Cora.”

She fumbled into him, her hands landing solidly on his chest. His very solid, wide chest.

Cora swallowed, righted herself, and glared at Kent. “I’m not looking for a date.”

“Sure you are,” Charlie said. “To your parent’s party.”

Humiliation crept up Cora’s back and down her arms. “You guys—no.” She met the Fuller man’s eyes and nearly drowned in the beautiful depths of them. “No offense,” she managed to squeak out.

My, he was handsome. Tall. With loads of sandy hair that would surely glide right through her fingers like silk. And those hazel eyes that looked dark as chocolate in this dim bar lighting.

“I’m Brennan Fuller,” he said, extending his hand toward her to shake. “I don’t think we’ve met.”

That same floaty feeling that had happened the first time they’d looked at one another happened again. Kent’s voice faded. Charlie’s body behind her, trapping her close to Brennan, disappeared.

There was just this Brennan Fuller man wearing half a coy smile, and Cora. The two of them breathed in and out together, and Cora found herself saying, “I’m Cora Wesley. How do you feel about stuffy anniversary parties with dozens of married people?”

THE FIREFIGHTER’S FIANCÉ - Chapter Two:

THE FIREFIGHTER’S FIANCÉ - Chapter Two:

Brennan Fuller didn’t meet many angels. None, in fact. But the bronze-skinned woman with well-defined muscles in her upper arms seemed to have a golden glow about her. Her nearly black hair wisped out of its high ponytail, which extended halfway down her back. Her eyes should’ve been darker than they were, but shone with a light brown shade that made her even more exotic.

Self-consciousness ripped through him. She’d surely forget all about him by morning, the way most women did. Most everyone, in fact. Brennan had a most forgettable face, something he’d been reminded of every day of his life growing up. Being the fourth of four boys could do that to a person, and sometimes his mother went through all her other son’s names before landing on the right one for him.

“Stuffy anniversary parties with dozens of married people are my specialty,” he said. Brennan would’ve done almost anything to get to know who this beauty was. Just standing up and approaching the firemen table had proven that. He hadn’t noticed her sitting there before, as her back had been toward him. But he’d felt something cascade through him as she’d walked by, her eyes meeting his and hooking on tight.

That ice water feeling in his blood had intensified when she’d started singing, and when his oldest brother had nudged him and told him to stop staring, Brennan had made a snap decision.

“Great.” She held out her hand, but he had no idea what she wanted and lifted his eyes back to her face.

“What?”

“I’ll put my number in your phone.” She lifted her chin as if daring him to offer a different solution. Brennan could think of many, only one of which was to link his arm with hers and take her somewhere quieter so they could talk. So he could stare at her and bask in that angelic glow that had him tongue-tied and jittery.

“Give her your phone, man,” Kent Hammer said, a man that Brennan had grown up with in Brush Creek.

Brennan sprang into action, withdrawing his phone from his pocket and placing it in Cora’s delicate hand.

Kent asked him something about the landscaping Brennan did, but the words swirled around inside his head, not making any sense. Cora’s long fingers tapped and swiped on his phone, and then those mesmerizing eyes landed on him again as she flipped it over and extended it toward him.

“There you go.”

He took it, the plastic case warm from her touch, a sense of wonder flowing through him like warm honey.

“Call me,” she said just before twisting sharply so that her hair jumped. She strode away, Kent and Charlie in her wake, none of them looking back. Somehow, Brennan managed to stumble back to the table where his brothers sat, all three of them with gigantic smiles on their faces.

“So, what’s her name?” Milt asked just as the waiter set down another basket of cheese-topped French fries.

“Cora.” Brennan straightened his collar and didn’t meet any of his brother’s eyes.

“Oh, Cora,” Patrick sighed out before laughing.

“I didn’t say it like that.”

“Totally did, bro,” Kyler said, the other unmarried Fuller man. Milt and Pat had both been married for a couple of years, and Pat’s wife had just delivered their first child six months ago.

Coraaaah,” Milt sighed, holding onto the last vowel as if he were British.

Brennan couldn’t help the quick laugh that passed his lips. “Shut up, you guys.” He ducked his head and looked over to her table. She sat up straight and tall while all the other men at the table slouched a bit. She totally didn’t fit with all the muscled firefighters, but at the same time, she really did.

Everything about her intrigued him, and he wanted to rush out and call her right now. Instead, he endured another hour of bad karaoke and the ribbing of his brothers before returning to his one-bedroom house nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac, where he found his lazy basset hound sound asleep on his bed.

He collapsed onto the comforter, jostling Sybil to wakefulness and petting her as he said, “I met the most amazing woman tonight, Syb.”

The basset hound didn’t seem to care at all about Cora, her snores steadying despite Brennan’s details of the few minutes he’d shared with Cora in the karaoke bar.

His phone rang, and he swiped it on after barely glancing at it. It would be his grandpa Daryl, probably needing help with something like his coffee maker not working. The last time he’d called about an appliance, it hadn’t worked because it wasn’t plugged in. Neither his grandfather nor his grandmother had even checked that.

“Hey, Gramps,” he said, sitting up. “What’s up?”

“Can’t find Pops,” he said, his voice old and ragged.

“Did you check under the deck by the shed?” Brennan asked. “He likes to hide there in the summer.”

It had been hot the past few days, the first sign that summer had truly arrived in Brush Creek. The first week of June, rain had flirted with the town relentlessly, keeping things cool in the morning and the afternoon. But that had dried up, and the wind had started, and it really felt like summer now.

“Grams checked there. He’s gone.”

The little schnauzer was about as old as his owners and if he got out of the backyard, he couldn’t find his way back.

“When did you let him out?”

“A few hours ago. Then we started a movie, and I forgot about him.”

Brennan sighed, though he wasn’t really too upset. “I’ll be right over, Gramps. Maybe get out some cheese and sit on the front steps. Maybe he’ll come back when he smells the treat.”

He hung up and shoved his phone in his back pocket before looking back at Sybil. “I’m headed over to find Pops. Want to come?”

Sybil didn’t even open her eyes, which Brennan took for a no, thank you, I’m snoozing right now. He chuckled and headed out to his truck. The sun had gone down an hour ago, leaving the temperatures to cool a bit.

He arrived at his paternal grandparent’s house to find Gramps sitting on the front steps, whistling for Pops and waving around a bit of cheese to no avail.

“Nothing?” Brennan asked, though he hadn’t really thought his suggested method would bring back the little dog.

“I can hear ‘im barking,” Gramps said. “But he doesn’t come.”

Brennan cocked his head to listen. “Whistle him again.”

Gramps’s weathered whistle lifted into the night air, and sure enough Pops’s equally hoarse bark sounded…somewhere.

Brennan twisted back to the house. “Gramps, he’s inside.” He got up and helped his grandpa stand. He held the screen door open while Gramps stepped inside, the barking becoming a bit louder.

“Grams?” he called.

“Oh, she went to bed,” Gramps said, shuffling forward. “I think she’s secretly hoping Pops will wander off and that’ll be the end of him.” He continued to mutter as he went into the kitchen.

Brennan headed downstairs to the basement, where his grandparents didn’t go anymore in their advanced age. As a boy, Brennan had loved coming to sleep over at his grandparent’s house. They knew his name. They remembered his favorite foods, and asked him about his science classes. Gramps had never missed a science decathalon competition, and Brennan had grown up believing that while he was constantly overshadowed in his core family, he was Gramps and Grams’s favorite grandchild.

“Pops!” he called, stepping onto carpet at the bottom of the stairs that hadn’t experienced a footprint in a while. The dog yapped and scratching came from behind the door to Brennan’s right. He used to sneak down here in the summer, right into this storage room, where Grams kept popsicles in stock.

He pushed open the door and almost got plowed over by Pops. “What’re you doin’ down here?” He scooped the schnauzer into his arms. The fifteen-pound dog quivered, but Brennan went into the storage room and opened the freezer.

Several cartons of ice cream sat there, as well as three bags of popsicles. A grin popped onto his face, his plans to stop by every day for a treat blooming fully in his mind.

But he’d eaten enough at the karaoke bar to put a small pony out of commission for a while, so he simply closed the freezer, closed the door behind him, and took Pops upstairs.

“Here he is.” He handed the dog to Gramps, who fed him the bite of cheese as he reprimanded him for wandering off.

Brennan exhaled as he sat at the bar. “So, Gramps, I met a woman today.”

Gramps looked at him, his eyes bright and blue and boring right into Brennan. “Oh? I thought you said Brush Creek was a…what did you say?” He pretended to think and Brennan simply waited, his lips twitching the slightest bit.

“Oh, I remember. A barren wasteland when it came to women.”

“It is. I don’t want to go out with someone I grew up with.” He was way past that stage. Most people who’d grown up together in Brush Creek had already gotten together. He wasn’t suddenly going to be interested in Mindy Lee just because they were both still single.

“So who is she?”

“Her name’s Cora. She’s a firefighter. Been in town about a year.”

“And you’re just now meetin’ her?”

“Yep. At the karaoke bar.” Brennan spent most of his time with mowers and blowers, so yeah, he’d missed her arrival in town. In the fifteen seconds he’d had to ask Kent about her, he’d learned she’d been in town for a year and was interested in anyone who wasn’t a fellow firefighter.

He fit the bill, and he was sure his obsessive staring had been enough to show his interest in her.

“I don’t like the karaoke bar,” Gramps said, his frown creating deep lines in his wrinkled face.

Brennan chuckled. “I know, Gramps. I know.”

His phone vibrated and then sounded, and he pulled it out to look at it. “Unknown.” He frowned, wondering if he’d look like Gramps in fifty years. He glanced up to find the old man watching him. “Should I answer it?”

“Could be Cora,” Gramps said, but Brennan shook his head.

“It won’t be Cora.” She wasn’t the type to give out her number and then call him. She’d make him come to her. Brennan made a quick decision and swiped open the call. “Hello?”

“Is this Brennan Fuller?” a woman asked. Music played in the background, almost like she was still at the karaoke bar.

“Cora?”

“Yeah.” She giggled, an intoxicating sound that sent Brennan’s pulse into a tailspin. “I was wondering if you could get together sooner rather than later. We probably need to go over a few things if you’re to be my boyfriend next weekend.”

Brennan shot to his feet. “Boyfriend?” He wished his voice wasn’t quite so high and squeaky. Turning away from Gramps’s curious gaze, he hissed, “No one said anything about me being your boyfriend.”