Did you know Elle James is my sister? Yup. But I swear I didn’t give her an inch of slack when I chose stories, even though, our mother would have been pretty pissed if I’d rejected her… 🙂 Enjoy the excerpt! ~DD
Excerpt from Elle James’s “Playing With Fire” in Blue Collar
In an attempt to seduce a younger firefighter, a sexy widow gets a lesson in burning desires by the firefighter’s badass partner
Lola Engel flipped the sign in the window of her shoe shop to display CLOSED and exited the building, pulling the door shut behind her. She locked it and glanced at her watch.
She had only an hour to get home, change, and stage an “accident” before Chance Grayson went off duty at the fire station.
Running in high heels was never good, nor classy. If at all possible, Lola avoided running in public. Scarred as a child by name-calling bullies, she didn’t want anyone comparing her to an epileptic giraffe during a grand mal seizure. So, she hurried, skipping along, and then running all out when she verified no one was watching.
For a thirty-nine year-old woman—okay, forty-three, though no one but her doctor knew the truth—she kept her body in top physical condition, with not an ounce of fat on her thighs or belly. Since her husband had passed, she’d had loads of time on her hands. Time she preferred to fill working out or flirting with the best-looking man in Hellfire, Texas.
Chance Grayson. One of the four Grayson brothers, all of whom were incredibly clean-cut, drool-worthy, butt-hugging, jean-clad cowboys and firefighters. They’d struck it rich in the gene pool, and Lola wouldn’t mind having some of that gold stretched out in her bed.
Oh, she wasn’t looking for long-term commitment or love. She’d already been in love once, and losing someone you cared for as much as she’d cared for Mr. Engel hurt far too much.
No, she’d vowed to enjoy an active sex life with whomever the hell she pleased and screw the tongue-wagging, back-stabbing biddies of the community who thought they were better than anyone else because they were married and settled.
Settled only meant living in a rut. Lola refused to slip into a ring or a rut. Losing her husband had taught her one valuable lesson: life was too damned short. She had to seize it by the balls and hold on to that orgasmic finish line.
Two blocks down, two to go. Why the hell had she walked to work that morning? And why the hell hadn’t she worn tennis shoes?
Because you’re too goddamn vain and won’t let others see you in anything less than the most expensive shoes this side of the Mississippi.
New York City didn’t have anything on Hellfire, Texas. Lola made damn sure of that. If she didn’t sell many expensive shoes in her brick-and-mortar store, she sold a truckload every week from her online shop.
Just because a person lived in small-town, snail’s-paced Texas didn’t mean a woman had to deprive herself of the best and sexiest shoes from some of the most fabulous designers this world had to offer.
Slowly, but surely, she’d educated the ranchers’ wives on the difference between Jimmy Choos stilettoes and Ariat cowboy boots. Not many of the wives had the kind of money for the more expensive brands, but Lola stocked budget knock-offs to satisfy the locals.
At that moment, she would trade her Jimmy Choos for some running shoes. All because she wanted a shot at seducing Chance Grayson. The younger man had caught her eye the day she’d seen him shirtless hosing down his big, red fire truck.
The day had been a typical hotter-than-Hades summer one in Texas. Sweat glistened on the young man’s shoulders, and all Lola could think was how she wanted to run her hands over every part of Chance’s body. Then she’d start all over with her tongue.
Who said a woman of thirty-nine had to settle for men her own age? Forty-year-old men dated twenty-somethings all the time. Lola was a heck of a lot better in bed than most of those little girls. She could show Chance Grayson a thing or two. She just had to get his attention.
So far, she was zero for three in her attempts. She’d picked days she knew he was on duty to call 911 for help only the fire station, and his particular truck, would respond to.
Finding a kitten to strand high in a tree had been a challenge. Chance had been the first responder. Lola had dressed in a low-cut, midriff blouse, showing off her tightened breasts and flat belly. She’d worn the strappy, pink Christian Louboutins.
Chance had saved the kitten and left, without giving her a second look.
The worst part had been his partner, Flannigan, who’d frowned, his gaze raking her from top to bottom. But not in a good way. “You’ll break an ankle in those,” he’d said and left, shaking his head.
The red-haired, tattooed, motorcycle-riding bear of a man hadn’t known squat about the pricey shoes she wore.
Lola had been mad enough to throw one of her pricey shoes at the back of the man’s head. When she’d leaned against the tree, holding the squirming kitten, a bee stung her in the ass.
That hadn’t been the worst part.
She’d jumped way from the tree, came short of launching the kitten into outer space, and stepped in a pile of dog poop. In her Christian Louboutins!
All that trouble, and Chance hadn’t given her even a wink. Now she had a ruined pair of very expensive stilettoes and a cat named Flannigan. Yes, she’d named the cat after the asshat Flannigan with the intention of kicking it every time she remembered that day, her failure, and the ruined shoes.
Fortunately for Flannigan, Lola didn’t have the heart to hurt the kitten. Hell, she’d never much cared for cats and had refused to get one, afraid she’d be labeled a lonely cat lady. And, to top things off, the darned kitten had taken up residence on her pillow at night, half-lying on her head.
Lola would never tell a soul that she kinda liked the little guy. She sure as hell wouldn’t tell Flannigan, the tattooed firefighter. He’d laugh her all the way to the Jimmy Choo shoe factory in the UK.
His obvious derision of her shoes and attempt to capture Chance’s attention made her even more determined to snag the Grayson brother. She was older, but far from dead, and in the hormone-humming, sexual prime of her life.
The second attempt had been an equal failure when she’d personally jammed the electronic locks in her old car and called 911, asking for them to bring the Jaws of Life.
Sheriff’s Deputy Leamon and the fire truck arrived. Chance had been there, but he’d stood back while the deputy slipped a flat tool down her window into the door and unlocked it in like two seconds flat.
By the time she’d stepped out of her vehicle in Manolo Blahnik spikes—which should have snapped the man’s head around—her efforts had been wasted on Lenny the sweet, but clueless sheriff’s deputy, who couldn’t have been more than eighteen years old. Okay, maybe twenty.
Burning leaves had been another disaster. Yes, she’d done right by calling the sheriff to tell them she’d be burning. A little while later, she’d called 911 to say her fire was getting out of control, but she’d nearly burned down her garage in the process.
Chance had been one of two firemen who’d gotten there first. Flannigan had been the other, much to Lola’s disgust.
While Chance had unrolled the giant fire hose, Flannigan put out the fire with Lola’s garden hose. When Chance saw Flannigan had it under control, he’d folded and fitted the giant hose back onto the truck.
Meanwhile, the odious Flannigan, carrying her garden hose, had stopped in front of her. “Why didn’t you keep your garden hose handy?”
Disgruntled at the man for ruining her third attempt, she’d glared and said the first thing to come to her mind. “I certainly didn’t want to get my shoes wet.”
That day she’d been careful to rake the leaves while wearing worn work boots. But when it came time to burn the leaves, she’d changed into a sexy leopard-print, off-the-shoulder shorts romper and her matching Salvatore Ferragamo, lace-up, espadrille wedges.
She’d stomped her wedge-heeled foot. “And why are you always with Chance? Why can’t he come alone?”
“Is that what this is all about?” Flannigan-the-Bastard had shaken his head. “Woman, you have to stop calling 911. The sheriff can arrest you for wasting our time.” He’d shot a derisive sneer at her feet. “And get some real shoes, if you’re burning leaves in your yard.” As he’d handed her the garden hose, he’d squeezed the handle, sending a spray of water onto her beautiful shoes.
Lola had squealed, dropped the hose, and hopped away. Unfortunately, the handle jammed in the open position, and the hose twisted and spun like a snake on speed. Before she’d caught the hose, her sexy romper was soaked, the hairstyle she’d spent hours perfecting was equally drenched and lying limp around her face. Her makeup had run in rivulets down her cheeks, but that still hadn’t been the worst of it. Her lace-up espadrille wedges were now covered in mud and falling apart.
All because of one tattooed jerk of a firefighter.
Not to mention, Lola had run out of reasons to call the fire department, short of setting her house on fire.
Until today. At lunch, she’d stopped by the station to drop off a batch of cookies for the guys and learned her nemesis, Flannigan, had taken the day off to work on some construction project. Chance had been outside, washing the ladder truck. That’s when it hit her. The idea that would give Chance the opportunity to save her, and she’d show him her appreciation in such a way he couldn’t resist.
She just had to get home in time to catch Chance before he went off shift.
Lola reached home with twenty minutes to spare. She rushed inside, almost tripped over the kitten, and set her purse on the counter. Quickly changing into a pair of shorts, too short to be legal, and a miniscule button-down top that bared most of her midriff—because the air was hot, and it was Texas. Uh-huh. Not to mention, this particular, scoop-necked top was so tight it gave her extra lift and displayed her breasts to their best advantage.
Back out to the garage, she ran, found the ladder that had hung in the same spot since her husband had died more than six years ago, and hurked it off the hooks. Heavier than she expected, it nearly clobbered her. But Lola was determined. This might be her best opportunity to capture the Grayson hunk’s attention. And she’d gone a long time without sex. She’d worn out two battery-operated-boyfriends. The time had come to have someone in her bed.
Back to the house, she set up the extension ladder and climbed up to the roof. She was all right, until she looked down. Two stories didn’t look like much when your feet were steady on the ground. But looking down…
She swayed, her pulse pounding and her breaths coming in shallow gasps. If she weren’t careful, she’d hyperventilate and fall off the roof before Chance could save her.
Hauling in a deep breath, she sat back on the shingles, pressed her ankle-strap Prada sandal against the ladder, and gave it a shove.
It leaned out and came back.
She did it again, giving it a heftier push.
This time the ladder swung away from the roof and teetered between falling toward the roof or away. For a moment, Lola thought it would come back toward her. She held her breath and nearly cheered when the ladder fell away.
Congratulating herself on achieving the first part of the plan, she pulled her cell phone from her back pocket.
Poking her manicured nails at 911, she waited. Even before the first ring, she could hear the blare of sirens. How could they already know she needed help?
Then a terrible thought occurred. The fire department was being deployed to an actual emergency.