Back at work after a long weekend, you probably need an excerpt break to ease your way through your inundated inbox, no? How about a steamy peek at Shannon Stacey’s Fully Ignited — out next week! There’s a new lieutenant at Boston’s Fire Engine 59, and she’s prepared for anything — except firefighter Scott Kincaid. Scott’s ready to settle down, is Jamie the one?
They decided on a burger place in the food court for convenience’s sake, all of them laughing when Lydia pointed out they couldn’t do it often or they wouldn’t fit in the new dresses they’d run out to the cars.
“I’m not very hungry, anyway,” Jamie said, once they’d carried their trays to a nearby table. “I had the best seafood ever last night and I ate so much, I swear I’m still full.”
They both paused in the act of putting condiments on their burgers to stare at her. Jamie replayed the words in her head, but she didn’t think she’d said anything remotely stareworthy. She’d had seafood for dinner. So what?
Ashley replaced her top bun, but didn’t pick up her burger. “Nice little place? South Shore? On the water?”
She should have known spending half the day with Scott’s sisters wasn’t going to end well. But she’d hoped they’d be so wrapped up in dresses and wedding plans that they’d barely pay attention to her. “I… Crap. Please don’t make this a thing.”
“It could be a thing,” Lydia said. “In fact, we can’t figure out why it’s not a thing.”
“Because sometimes there’s chemistry between two people who, number one, shouldn’t have a relationship for professional reasons and, number two, have different ideas of what their futures will hold.”
“You don’t want a family?” Ashley asked. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I guess we just make assumptions, you know.”
“I do want a family. But I don’t intend to give up my career when I have kids.” She shrugged and dipped a French fry in the small paper cup of ketchup on her tray. “Other people think mothers shouldn’t risk themselves in dangerous jobs, even though it’s okay for fathers to do it.”
“You already know he mostly grew up without our mother,” Lydia said. “That’s probably a big part of it. But it’s kind of a pervasive way of thinking in the neighborhood, too, you know? It’s old-fashioned and tightly knit. He was raised in a community of alpha guys, really, where the wives and children kept the home fires burning.”
“That’s not a great metaphor,” Ashley said, and they all laughed. “I do agree with it, though. He probably has certain expectations of his future wife, but expectations change. He respects the hell out of you, Jamie. All the guys do.”
“We can be a stubborn family,” Lydia said, “but we come around.”
“Danny getting hurt hit all the guys pretty hard, but Scott was the worst. It’s all tangled up, you know? The brotherhood, the friendship and the family ties.” Ashley paused, running her finger around the rim of her water glass. “You wouldn’t believe how happy and excited he was when we told him I was pregnant. Seriously, it’s like being an uncle is going to be the best thing that ever happened to him.”
Jamie smiled, not having any trouble imagining his joy. He lit up whenever he talked about his sisters, and whenever he mentioned his future niece or nephew, he practically beamed. She’d seen it last night at the restaurant, and she would have loved to have seen his reaction when he first heard the news.
“I think that’s why he had such a hard time,” Ashley continued. “Because the fire was so soon after we told him. When he realized Danny hadn’t come out of the structure with the rest of the company, I guess it was pretty bad and it stuck with him for a while. I mean, he’s Scotty, so he tried to hide it and crack jokes and stuff, but it was there. He didn’t want my baby coming into the world without a dad, I guess.”
“It weighed on his mind a lot,” Lydia agreed. “Losing Mom and the possibility of that little peanut losing its daddy before he or she’s even born shook him up. Hell, it shook all of us up, but Scotty’s a smart guy. When push comes to shove, he’s not going to walk away from something he wants because of the risk. If that was in his nature, he wouldn’t be a firefighter.”
“We haven’t seen you guys together as a couple, obviously,” Ashley said. “But we like you. And we like how Scotty is right now. As his oldest sister, it’s a big deal when I say I’d really like to see you guys be a thing.”
But how hard was Jamie willing to push? And did he want a future with her enough to compromise, or was she simply a spill he’d taken off the no-dating bandwagon?
Her phone chimed, saving her from having to respond to Ashley. But she sighed when she saw the message from Scott. The guy had seriously bad timing. Are you done shopping yet?
God, she hoped so. If she didn’t get out of here soon, she was going to end up spilling her guts to his sisters and then things would get messy. We found dresses. Refueling now. You?
We didn’t have to shop because Lydia picked our suits. But we’ve been measured in uncomfortable places and won’t look like ragamuffins at the wedding.
She laughed, belatedly realizing Scott’s sisters were both watching her. “Sorry.”
“If that’s my brother, ask him if they’re done with the suits,” Lydia said.
“Uh.” Jamie hesitated before the realization sunk in that it would be nothing short of stupid to even try to pretend at this point. With them, anyway. “He said they won’t look like ragamuffins, so I assume they’re all set.”
“Tell him they need ties, too. They’re going to try to sneak parts of their uniform past me because they’re lazy.”
Your sister said to get a tie. No uniform ties.
There was a long pause before the response came through. She knows I’m texting you?
Please. Have you met your sisters? She appreciated that the two women had obviously gone out of their way to play along and give them space, but the jig was up.
Fine. We’ll get ties. Call me later. Oh, and don’t forget the cake.
Smiling, she tucked her phone away. “So, Lydia, have you done any cake tastings?”
“Oh, for God’s sake, carrot cake is not a vegetable.” She pointed a French fry at Jamie. “You might be part of the whole firefighter brotherhood thing, but don’t let those two yahoos drag you onto their side.”
“Can I ask why you just don’t have a chocolate groom’s cake?”
She blew out an exasperated breath. “Because that will be the groom’s cake, not my wedding cake. I want my husband to share our wedding cake with me, but he’s not going to if there’s a chocolate cake sitting next to it.”
“Okay.” Jamie nodded slowly. “So this is one of those stubborn Kincaid things and Aidan’s going to eat his vegetables and like it.”
“Yes.” Lydia shrugged. “He knew what he was getting into.”
Ashley laughed, and then waved her hand at them. “I love this. This dynamic, I guess you could say. Jamie’s our perfect third.”
Below the warm feeling that came from being so openly accepted was a cold jangle of nerves. The genie was out of the bottle now, and she wasn’t going to be able to shove him back in. Her and Scott’s time of quietly, privately enjoying each other’s company with no expectations was over.
She had no doubt his sisters were going to try to make it a thing.
My dad’s off with Fitz somewhere until late. Want to come to my place for a change?
Scott sent the text and tried not to hold his breath as he waited for Jamie’s answer. He knew she’d had an exhausting morning with his sisters, and they’d just seen each other the night before, but he really wanted to see her again. And he wanted to see her in his apartment for some reason he didn’t care to analyze too closely.
Sounds good. It’ll be about an hour, though, if that works.
Perfect. See you then.
He exhaled and then looked around. Luckily, the place didn’t look too bad since he didn’t have a lot of clutter and he’d learned over the years of sharing a small space with a lot of guys to pick up after himself. But he did change the sheets because it seemed like the gentlemanly thing to do.
Then he dropped onto the couch and started flipping through channels so when she did show up, she wouldn’t catch him with his face pressed to the glass sliding door, waiting for her. Even when he heard her footsteps on the wooden deck, he kept his eyes on the screen until she knocked on the glass.
He wasn’t sure what he trying to prove to himself by acting casual, because on the inside he was jumping up and down like a black Lab whose human had finally come home.
“Hey, come on in,” he said, pulling open the slider for her. Before closing it, he peeked down into the driveway. “You didn’t walk, did you?”
“You walk all the time. But no, I drove. Unlike your jacked-up truck with the fancy chrome and firefighter plate, my car’s just another gray compact job parked on the street. It blends in with the crowd.”
After he closed the slider, he took her hand and pulled her close. “My truck is not jacked up.”
“It came that way?”
“It’s a stock three-quarter-ton pickup and the chrome came with the package that included the heated seats and remote start.”
“Okay, so you’re not one of those macho truck guys. Just spoiled a little bit.”
He laughed. “Macho truck guys? No, I’m not. And as for being spoiled, I spend enough time freezing my ass off on the job. When I get in my truck, my ass is warm.”
She ran her hands down his back and then tucked her fingers into the back pockets of his jeans. “It’s definitely an ass worth pampering a little.”
He kissed her, feeling the curve of her smile against his lips. Her hair was up in a ponytail, but without taking his mouth off hers, he pulled the fabric-covered elastic free so he could bury his hand in the soft strands. He loved her hair and it would probably have been the hardest part of her to resist touching at work if she didn’t keep it braided whenever they were on duty.
When the kiss was over, she sidestepped him and looked around the apartment. “You don’t really have a lot of knickknack-type stuff, do you?”
“No, but neither do you.”
She ran her hand over the granite bar, looking at the kitchen. “I’ve moved so many times, I’ve learned to travel light. But you’ve lived in this house for your entire life. Maybe not on this floor, but still.”
“Trust me, there are boxes and boxes with my name written on them down in the cellar. You want a drink?”
“I’ll have a soda. Whatever you’ve got.”
He took out a couple of cans and popped the top on hers before holding it out to her. “How was dress shopping?”
“It was more fun than I thought it would be, actually. I’m not big on shopping, but Lydia and Ashley are a lot of fun.”
He winced. “I guess they’re also more intuitive than I gave them credit for.”
“There wasn’t much point in denying anything, although I did manage to avoid being pinned down too much, conversationally.”
Scott really wanted to know what they’d said, but then again a part of him didn’t. If they’d done a full-court press on her and wanted to talk love and marriage, pushing her for details might get awkward. He didn’t want her first time in his apartment to go sideways on him.
“I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever successfully kept a secret from those two,” he said.
“So everybody must know, then, if they do. At the station, I mean.”
“I don’t think so. Aidan and Danny, probably.” He paused. “Okay, Aidan almost definitely, though he’s never asked and I’ve never confirmed or denied. But if you’re worried they’re all talking about us, don’t. Family loyalty still comes first.”
“Do you think Tommy knows? He’s family.”
“I doubt it. He’d have to figure it out on his own because he’s the last person my sisters would talk to about my personal life. He can be a bit of a bull in a china shop when it comes to shit like that, and Lydia and Ashley don’t usually throw me under the bus with him.”
She sighed, and then gave a little shrug. “It doesn’t matter. People can say what they want.”
Wanting to bring the mood back to where it had started, Scott set his soda on the counter and moved closer to her. She took a long sip of hers, and after she put down the can, he pulled her hard up against his body.
“You gonna dance with me at the wedding?”
She smiled at him, and he felt the familiar rush of pleasure he got every time she looked at him like that. “I don’t know. What do you think the chances are you can keep your hands where they’re supposed to be?”
He cupped her ass, squeezing a little. “I can behave.”
“That’s probably the one thing I haven’t heard about you, Scott Kincaid.”
“I should give you the grand tour.”
She looked around his shoulder. “I can see most of the apartment from right here.”
Since her head was cocked sideways, he took advantage of the opportunity to kiss her neck. “You can’t see the best part, though.”
“You mean the gigantic television?”
He grinned and, with his hands still on her ass, pulled her close enough so she could feel his erection press against her. “I have a gigantic bed, too.”
“I’d hate to miss the main attraction.”
Letting go of her with some reluctance, he took her hand and led her into bedroom. The bed was big, though hardly gigantic, but it dominated the room. He didn’t have a TV in here because he tried to be strict about his sleep schedule and the bed meant sleep.
Today, though, the bed meant Jamie. She looked around the room, which wasn’t any more cluttered than the rest of the place, and then at the bed. He wondered if she noticed the condom packet on the nightstand, kind of tucked beside the lamp. “Nice bed. Definitely bigger than mine.”
Laughing, he stepped close enough to kiss her. “We don’t need a lot of space for what I have in mind.”
He slid his hands under her shirt, cupping her breasts and rolling her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers. Even through the fabric of her bra, his touch made her squirm. They stripped quickly and he admired the view as she climbed onto his bed. Then she held out her hand to him and he knew he should be reciting box scores or algebra problems or something in his head. But the only thing in his head right now was the sight of her, naked and beckoning to him.
Once he was on the bed, she shoved him backward and laughed when he splayed out on his back. He opened his mouth to make a smart-ass comment, but Jamie threw one leg over his hips and nothing came out of his mouth but a guttural sound.
She bent low so she could kiss him, her hands holding his wrists over his head. The position pressed her breasts against his chest and he groaned, fighting the temptation to prove which of them was stronger by flipping her onto her back and driving into her.
Then she kissed his chin. His Adam’s apple. First one nipple and then the other, sucking just hard enough to make him hiss. Then she started making her way down his abdomen, punctuating her kisses with flicks of her tongue, and he held his breath.
When she wrapped her fingers around his dick, Scott thought he might never breathe again. She stroked him, lightly at first, but then her grip tightened as she flicked her tongue over her lips.
He couldn’t look away from her mouth, but he still jumped when she closed her lips around the head of his cock. She lowered her head until her mouth bumped into her fingers, and then kept going. Her hand slid down the length of his shaft, along with her mouth, and his hips arched up off the bed.
Then she took away her hand and took him only with her mouth. The wet heat scrambled his senses and he fisted his hand in her hair. Not resisting or forcing. Just clenching the strands as he struggled to think of anything but how much he wanted to come in her mouth.
Only a few more strokes and he pulled her hair slightly, holding her head still. “You have to stop, honey. I can’t…”
Jamie kissed her way back up his body to his mouth, and then he had to release her hair so she could reach for the condom to hand to him. She kissed him hungrily while he put it on, and then gave him a saucy smile as she straddled him. Taking him in hand, she lowered herself onto his erection with excruciating slowness.
His breathing turned ragged as she rocked her hips, taking him deeper inside of her with each stroke.
She arched her back and he reached up, cupping her breasts. Her neck was exposed and he wanted to kiss that hollow at the base, but he couldn’t reach it with his mouth. He settled for stroking her neck with one hand, sliding his fingers over her jaw until she turned her head and sucked lightly on the end of his finger.
When he groaned, her rhythm changed. Each rise and fall of her body was faster and harder, and he knew she was close. Since he was on the ragged edge himself, he lifted his hips to meet each stroke, driving up into her. Reaching down, he rubbed his thumb over her clit and watched her body jerk.
He felt her muscles clench as she came with a small cry that seemed to set his blood on fire. Grabbing her hips, he rocked her body, harder and faster until his orgasm hit like a wrecking ball knocking him senseless. Losing himself in the intense sensation, he rode it out and was glad he was lying down because it seemed like his entire body was boneless.
Jamie collapsed on top of him, turning her head so it was on his shoulder. He kissed her hair and wrapped his arms around her back to hold her tight.
After a few minutes, when they’d caught their breath, he reached between them and held the condom as he pulled out of her. She shifted slightly to one side, but didn’t get up, so he was content to stay right where he was for a little bit longer.
“I almost didn’t send you a text because I thought you’d be tired out from shopping,” he said. “I’m glad I did.”
“Me, too. Very glad.”
“I did a little shopping today, too. Guess what I bought?”
She lifted her head to look at him and he took the opportunity to grab a quick kiss. He could never get enough of kissing her.
“I’m almost afraid to ask,” she said, amusement shining in her eyes.
“I stopped at the market over by your place and bought some chocolate pudding.”
“Ooh.” She made a sound he’d previously only heard during sex. “You didn’t mention that in your text.”
He gave a mock sigh. “Then I would have wondered if you were only here for my pudding. I needed to know if I was enough.”
She laughed and pushed away from him. “Trust me, you’re enough. Sometimes I wonder if you’re too much.”
He wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly, but she hadn’t said it in a particularly negative way, so he shrugged it off. She was here. That was exactly enough.