What? It’s not Tuesday?
Oh well. Here’s a teaser anyway :)
I’ve been working on a little something that I’m really thrilled about. It’s called Giving Off Sparks and it’s the follow up to Burning Up, which is my story in the Down and Dirty boxed set. I just typed the end on it at around 5:30pm Sunday so it’s as yet unedited. But I thought to celebrate the The End part I’d share the first few pages of what I’ve done with you. I’m really really in love with Rob :)
Two things woke Rob McConnell at 3:46 in the morning. The sound of a woman screaming and the acrid smell of smoke.
He shot out of bed, his firefighter’s instincts on full alert. Yesterday, he’d spent the better part of a ten hour shift working with his crew and several others to dampen a factory fire before it spread to the surrounding industrial area. They managed to douse the flames without any loss of life, but they weren’t always so lucky. Screaming and smoke tended to make Rob spring right into action.
He was yanking on a pair of jeans in two seconds, bolting out of his bedroom in three. He stopped in the darkened hall, listening for the roar of flames. It took him a moment to realize there was no roar, and that the woman’s screams weren’t the ‘come and save me I’m burning to death’ kind. They were more of the ‘Oh, God, baby, yes! I’m coming… I’m coming… oooohhh!’ variety.
Rob groaned and rubbed at his eyes with the heel of his hands. His housemates were at it again. Blair Bowman and Leo Chatfield—otherwise known at the fire station as Blue and Chats—were working their way through all the women in Ashton Heights, and a few surrounding suburbs, who were willing to take both of them on at the same time. Unfortunately, there were a lot to choose from.
Ordinarily Rob wouldn’t care what his two workmates did in the bedroom. He wasn’t a complete stranger to the delights of three-way action himself. But the walls in the old Queenslander the three of them shared were paper thin. The noise was effecting his sleep.
Pushing out a sigh, Rob walked into the kitchen to grab the milk from the fridge. Just as he was about to lift the carton to his lips he detected that scent of smoke again. The screams might have been nothing to worry about but that persistent smell was a concern. He followed it to the open kitchen window, which faced the kitchen window of the neighboring house. Through the glass he saw a telltale orange glow emanating from inside.
Rob dropped the milk carton, spilling the contents all over the linoleum floor. Ignoring the mess, he yanked the fire extinguisher off its wall bracket and bolted toward the sliding glass door that lead to the back patio. He ran down the stairs three at a time, vaulted over the fence between the two properties and leapt up the back stairs of number nineteen. He banged on the glass of the house’s back door, trying to rouse the single mother and three kids who lived inside.
Through the glass Rob could see the fire had already consumed the toaster on the bench. As he watched and banged furiously on the door, the flames leapt from the toaster to a nearby tea towel and set it alight.
Where the hell were their smoke alarms? Fuck it, he thought. He couldn’t wait for Cheryl to wake up. He lifted the fire extinguisher and rammed the base of it into the door. A crack appeared in the glass immediately. With only one more blow the whole sheet exploded. Glass fell everywhere, leaving shards on the inside and outside of the house.
A woman screamed, the sound ear-splitting. Rob didn’t even look at her as he leapt over the broken glass and headed for the kitchen. He lifted the fire extinguisher and released the safety switch. Rob gave it a few good long bursts, spraying at the flames until he buried the small blaze in white foam.
When the noise of the extinguisher died down, silence fell. Outside, a dog barked. A few screen doors creaked as they opened. The commotion had obviously gotten the attention of the neighbors. Rob’s heart rate began to calm as the adrenaline eased out of his system.
It sped up again at the sound of one shrill question. “Why in the world did you do that?”
Rob’s head whipped around so he got his first real look at the woman who’d screamed earlier. A woman who was definitely not Cheryl, the forty something mother of three who lived at number nineteen. This woman was not forty, probably wouldn’t be for at least fifteen years. And if her hips had born any children they sure didn’t show a sign of it. She was trim and slender, with long hair that fell in straight dark strands all the way to her tiny waist. Which wasn’t far because she was short.
She was short, cute, and really ticked off. Which ticked Rob off. Fortunately, his annoyance distracted him from the feeling of being sucker punched he experienced the first instant he laid eyes on the woman behind him.