Inferno of Love
Firefighters of Long Valley Romance Novel – Book 2
Moose Garrett just wants to do the right thing. Fulfill his duty. Honor his parents. Fix his neighbors’ tractors. Ignore the girl he needs to forget.
Everyone in Sawyer expects Moose to woo and wed the town beauty queen – not Georgia Rowland. Hell, Moose’s parents have all but signed a marriage contract with the revered patriarch of another wealthy Sawyer family.
So yeah, it’s true that Georgia’s been tempting him ever since he hit puberty and discovered the allure of the opposite gender, but that doesn’t mean he’s actually going to give into the temptation.
Georgia is strictly off limits.
But matters of the heart are about as predictable as a wildfire – a wildfire that comes straight out of nowhere…and changes everything.
A woman who’s all business…with a secret crush
Georgia has spent a lot of years – roughly 26 of them or so – pretending Moose Garrett wasn’t the finest man in Sawyer. She pushes pesky thoughts of him clear out of her mind. She never pays a bit of attention to his powerful build, or how his blue jeans show off his lean and muscular body. And for the record, she barely even notices the way his slow, sultry smile makes her knees wobbly.
Because that hardly ever happens.
As the youngest branch manager of the Goldfork Credit Union, and the first female to hold that position, she’s too busy for any of that nonsense. Besides, everyone knows Moose is bound to marry Sawyer’s reigning beauty. Georgia is sure he’d never give a moment’s notice to…well, to someone like her.
But when Miss No Nonsense sets out on a hike in the foothills of Long Valley and gets trapped amidst the flames of a wildfire, the only man she’s ever wanted swoops in to save her.
So yeah, Moose is the last man she should dream about.
But he’s the one man who will walk through danger and smoke and fire.
Just to find her…
Inferno of Love is the second novel in the Firefighters of Long Valley series, although all books in the Long Valley world can be read as standalones. It has some strong language, and oh my, sexy times. Enjoy!
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~* April 2018 *~
Tripp popped his head around her office door even as he gave a light rap on it. “Hey Georgia, there’s a handsome cowboy here to see you.”
“Thanks,” Georgia Rowland said lightly, trying to ignore the warning bells going off in her head. If it was Levi, this was going to become real awkward, real quick. Not that Levi exactly came strolling into her office every day, but it was possible that he—
And then Moose came striding in instead. Georgia’s stomach did the amazing trick of both dropping to somewhere around her knee caps, while also rising up in her throat. She was going to be the first human on record with a bifurcated stomach.
Moose. Of course it was Moose. Someone she’d known since they were in diapers, someone she’d graduated with from high school, and…the one guy she’d always wanted but could never have.
He was here to torture her with his cologne and muscular chest and mmhmmm thighs and…
“How are you?” she asked, planting a bright smile on her lips. She came around her desk to do the awkward hug/handshake combo that always left her feeling like she needed to bust out with, “And that’s what it’s all about!” when she was done.
Except she was the youngest branch manager in the history of the Goldfork Credit Union, and a female to boot. Busting out with the lyrics from the Hokey Pokey in her office (or anywhere, really) was not going to happen any time soon.
It was easy enough to stay professional and distant from older, crusty farmers who’d been tilling up the land since Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with his arms full of stone tablets. It was slightly harder to keep that demeanor up around Moose.
He flashed a mouth full of gorgeous, straight white teeth at her and said, “Good, good, but if the farmers don’t quit bitching about the water year that’s in the cards, I think I just might lose my ever-lovin’ mind.”
“I’ve been hearing that around town,” Georgia murmured, but left it at that. She wasn’t about to get into the politics of lending to farmers in what was projected to be a low-water year, not even with Moose.
“Well anyway, I don’t know if you’ve heard that the spaghetti feed and donkey basketball fundraiser is coming up quick, but the fire department is sending all of us out into the community to ask for donations to auction off. Do you have anything to add to the pile?”
“Oh. Hmmm…” She tapped her forefinger against her teeth as she thought. As the branch manager for the only credit union in Sawyer, she got asked quite often for donations and prizes for local fundraisers, so they had their stack of branded t-shirts, pens, and notepads that they gave to anyone who asked. But with Moose giving her the “I’d love you forever if you gave me something great” look, it was hard to brush him off with a pile of Goldfork Credit Union t-shirts.
All right, so maybe he wasn’t actually giving her that look, and she was just projecting her own feelings onto him. That was totally a possibility.
She decided that was a thought she didn’t really want to explore any further.
“Oh hey!” she exclaimed suddenly when inspiration struck, “what if we match a $50 deposit into a savings account for anyone under the age of 18? Help a kid get started on saving for something important. Grandparents would love to give a gift like that to a grandchild.”
He sent her a huge smile, his eyes crinkling in the corners with happiness. Her stomach dropped further, hitting right around her shin bones or so, while simultaneously strangling her by rising further in her throat.
This was starting to get ridiculous, really.
“I love it!” Moose said enthusiastically, completely oblivious to what he was doing to her insides. “Do you need to pass it by headquarters?”
“Nah, they give us some money every year to do community-minded stuff like this,” Georgia said, waving a hand dismissively, trying to act casual, as if chitchatting with Moose was no big deal. “If, uh, we end the year with money in that account, we get a talkin’ to about not donating enough to the local groups. Of course, that’s a pretty rare thing – usually we’re asked for more than we have the money for.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, Dad has the same thing happen, but he usually just gives away John Deere toys to auction off when he’s asked for donations.”
“‘Just’?” she echoed, one eyebrow raised. “I’ve seen the price tags on those toys. They don’t come cheap!”
“Nothing John Deere does comes cheap,” Moose agreed with a grin. “Quality all the way.” He flexed his muscles like a bodybuilder for a moment, and Georgia burst out laughing.
“I forget sometimes that your actual name is Deere,” she said dryly. “Your father is one dedicated John Deere dealership owner, you know that?”
“I’m pretty sure I know that better than anyone else alive,” he said, and there was something in his eyes for just a moment and then it was gone, his grin firmly planted on his face again. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wondered what I’ll name my oldest son. John, Deere the Second, or Green are pretty much my only choices.”
“‘Green’?” she repeated, laughing. “You’d name a child ‘Green’?!”
“Hell, my father named me Deere. I’m pretty sure all naming conventions are thrown out the window at this point.”
“True enough.” They grinned at each other for a moment, and Georgia felt a flash of desire roar through her veins as the stomach flipping resumed.
Okay, this was really getting out of control.
Her brain knew, even if her stomach didn’t, that Moose Garrett was off-limits. He was so far off-limits, he might as well have a “No Trespassing” sign stapled to his forehead. In fact, she might just donate one to the cause, to help her stomach remember this information. Someday, when Moose was ready to settle down and pop out boys named Green, he was going to be doing it with Tennessee, Georgia’s cousin.
And nice human beings just didn’t daydream about stealing their cousin’s future fiancé, that was for damn sure.
“Well, I better get a move on,” Moose said, shifting from one foot to the other. He was constantly on the move, even when he was standing still. Georgia figured that must be how he stayed in such good shape, even as their former high school classmates were starting to develop spare tires around the middle. “I just stopped by to do a deposit and thought I’d check in with you on the prize thing while I was here. Would you mind getting the info over to Jaxson? This is his first fundraiser for the fire department, and he’s more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Honestly,” he said confidentially, his voice dropping a little as if to keep from being overheard, “I don’t think taking care of Sugar after the Muffin Man fire has helped anything.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” Georgia said, nodding slowly. The new fire chief’d had to save his girlfriend from a fire down at the local bakery, and Georgia figured that was enough to make anyone a bit overwrought. “I kept meaning to bring a casserole by and see how Sugar’s doing. I heard she’s mostly got her voice back – is that true?”
A smart-ass grin spread across Moose’s face. “Jaxson’s been telling me that it’s come back just in time for her to start harping on him about how she isn’t an invalid, and that he needs to go back to work and leave her the hell alone.”
Georgia let out a snort of laughter at that. She didn’t know the new fire chief all that well – he’d only started in January – but she did know Sugar, and that sounded just like her. She was a pretty independent person, and if Jaxson was prone to hovering…well, Sugar probably wouldn’t take that real well.
“I’m glad that she’s at least feeling good enough to tell him to back off,” Georgia said with a grin. “I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign, and if he’s smart, he’ll listen to her.”
“Smart men listen to the women in their lives,” Moose agreed, “at least if they know what’s good for ‘em.”
He was looking at her a little too intently, and Georgia felt her cheeks flush under his gaze. It was…awkward. And weird. She coughed, then coughed again. Then cleared her throat. Because apparently a whole slew of frogs had taken up residence in it.
“I’m sure Tennessee would be happy to hear that,” she finally said weakly.
“Right. Tennessee.” And then he was walking towards the door. “Thanks for your help,” he tossed over his shoulder as he slipped through and her office door shut with a click behind him and she was left just staring at it.
“Yeah. Anytime,” she whispered into the quiet of her office.
Somehow, she’d messed that up and she didn’t even know how…but she did know she regretted it.
Even if she shouldn’t.