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If you’re familiar with my work, you know that I almost always have a pretty wide thread of jeopardy running through it. I have always written thrillers, but only in the last few years have I teamed it up with erotica and romance.
Be it the aftermath of a car wreck, a storm, an abduction or a rescue, I’m always pushing the tension upwards, while ramping up the sexual tension between the leads at the same time.
So, a story about a fire fighter couldn’t really have anything other than tension, in and out of bed. In Stoke, my contribution to the Smokin’ Hot Firemen anthology, a woman faces the scorching attention of her rescuer after escaping a near fatal car accident.
I don’t remember how or why but suddenly smoke is billowing out of the hood of my car. I’d blown a gasket before but the color of the smoke… it’s different, it’s darker… more dangerous. Flames start to flicker from under the hood, pushing up and out through the front of the grill… Oh dear God… it’s definitely not the gasket.
I move quickly, grabbing my handbag before popping the door open and stumbling out on the quiet country back lane. I should have been at work by now, my shift starting at midnight. Without the moon, the only light is from the headlights. I go and stand in their arc, lifting out my cell to call the emergency services, fingers barely able to dial. The calm, controlled voice on the other end urges me to get as far away from the vehicle as possible and assures me help is on the way.
I’m about ten meters away when the flames grow, blooming into a bulbous cloud followed quickly by an ear splitting boom. I’m propelled off my feet, going backwards as if I’m air as the car explodes.
Utterly dazed, I try to sit up having landed awkwardly on the grass by the side of the road. I look at the old Chevy as I back myself against a tree trunk, pressing my spine against it and hugging my knees. The only thought running through my mind is that I was in that car… no more than a couple of minutes ago. And everything inside goes still with shock.
Sirens. Lots of them. Doors opening… closing. Voices… loud, clear. Calm. I haven’t opened my eyes… I can’t… I can feel the heat from the car… stinging my skin even from this distance.
“Ma’am…” A reassuringly masculine voice reaches inside, creating an echo that offers a comfort that I’ve never known before. “Ma’am… can you hear me?” The presence kneels beside me, placing a hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay… you can open your eyes.” His warm hand slides into mine; the touch makes me do what he asks. “Welcome back.”
My eye line is the smoldering wreck, a group of his colleagues surrounding it, dousing it with powerful jets of foam making it look like it’s covered in liquid snow.
“It’s totaled,” I whisper, looking up at the voice, the man clearly visible in the flashing lights. The reflective stripes on his off-yellow uniform catching them too. I close my eyes against the light show.
“Hey… you there?” His hand touches my shoulder.
“I was in the car…” I mumble, looking up at him, his wonderfully dark eyes twitching with concern.
“I know… but you made it out okay, just hold onto that.” A paramedic comes over. “All right now, Jim will take good care of you.” The firefighter’s clean shaven and wears a smile that would melt a nun’s heart.
What follows is a quiet discovery by Nick and Aida of their overwhelming attraction to one another. It’s not just a female fantasy for Aida, to fall for her rescuer. She’s a nurse, working in the ER, and she knows the rough end of the world. Fires are hot, but attraction…that’s like touching the surface of the sun.
“There’s a guy in reception asking for you.” Lucy pops her head through the curtain later in the night. “He’s kinda hot.”
“Kinda hot and asking for me?” I mumble, hugging the covers. “He’s clearly lost.” The drugs have fully kicked in, warming me within. “Send the handsome stranger in then.”
Lucy leaves, the curtains rustling as she goes. I must have dozed off because the next thing I feel is his presence. It’s magnetic… familiar.
My eyes fly open.
“You look better,” he says, clearly off duty, wearing jeans that cover muscular legs, a black shirt open at the throat, with a matching jacket… But he’s carrying a handbag. My gaze darts to his.
“This is yours, not mine… promise!” he laughs.
I almost don’t recognize the tan leather tote. It’s muddied beyond recognition. He sets it on the chair.
“Your phone kept ringing, so I thought I’d bring it to you.”
“That’s…” I try to sit up, but the bed has been lowered halfway to prone to let me get some rest.
“Let me,” He moves easily, reaching back and adjusting the bed so that I can be upright. I get a whiff of his cologne as he steps away. It’s dauntingly male. “You were lucky.”
I nod shakily, my spine pricking with the memories.
“Well, I’ll leave you to get some rest.”
“Oh, okay… um, thank you, again.” I gesture toward the bag.
“No problem, ma’am.”
“Aida, my name is Aida.”
He extends his hand. “Nick.”
We connect. Our eyes meet again. His smile grows. “Aida,” he whispers quietly, his eyes brightening.
To find out how Nick and Aida get on in Stoke, check out the Smokin’ Hot Firemen anthology due July 2013.
Summer reading has never looked hotter right?
Like the heat? Tahira Iqbal is a multi published writer. You can find her work within various Cleis Press anthologies with her stories focusing on high stakes, high passion and keeping it all in high gear. For more details go to www.tahiraiqbal.com