Fan the Flames (Search and Rescue #2) by Katie Ruggle
In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…
As a Motorcycle Club member and firefighter, Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the Club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers…and with the girl he’s loved since they were kids, Rory Sorenson. Ian would do anything for Rory. He’d die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath—and he may just have to.
Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms, and for the past few years, she’s managed to keep the peace between dangerous factions by remaining strictly neutral. But when she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a Motorcycle Club war—with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.
When she reentered the bedroom, she glanced at the bed and stopped. There were two reasons for this. The first was that Ian had indeed created a tiny wall down the center of the bed, a pink-and-white blockade made up of decorative pillows and Mr. Hoppity, her plush bunny. The second was that Ian was sitting on one side of the barricade, covers pulled up to his waist and his chest completely bare.
He was…whoa. Her throat went dry, and she had to lock her jaw so it didn’t fall open. His tattoos scrolled across his chest, over his shoulders, and down his arms, emphasizing the contours of his muscles. He was like a living, breathing anatomy lesson. No fat obscured the lines of his biceps, his deltoids, those incredible pectorals…
Rory finally realized that she was staring, and he was grinning, most likely because it was obvious she was barely able to keep from drooling. A little flicker of panic started in her stomach. What was she doing with Ian? She was like a preschooler trying to do calculus.
“I can move the bunny if you want to cuddle,” Ian offered, his eyes teasing but also lit with a banked fire.
A part of her, a part she hadn’t even known existed until she saw Ian’s bare chest in the flesh, wanted to take him up on his offer. The rest of her was a mess of want and uncertainty and shyness, mixed with a good-sized dollop of terror. It was that last bit that made her say, “Don’t touch Mr. Hoppity.”
“Mr. Hoppity?” he echoed, but her glare must have warned him that she was on the edge, and any sort of mockery would push her right off the cliff.
Another thought occurred to her, and she looked from Ian to the empty side of the bed. “I’d rather be closer to the door.”
“Me, too.” He didn’t budge. Instead, his arms crossed over his chest, making his biceps bulge in a distracting way. “And I was here first.”
“Fine.” Now that the initial shock of his half-naked beauty was waning, her bone-deep exhaustion returned. At least her bed was in the middle of the room, so she wouldn’t be trapped between Ian and the wall. Circling to the vacant side of the bed, she crawled beneath the covers. As she lay on her back, Rory firmly closed her eyes. Bright illumination made her eyelids glow orange-red. “Could you get the light? The switch is on your side.” As soon as the words left her mouth, the strangeness of them struck her. Ian had a side in her bed. It was hard to wrap her brain around that fact.
After an affirmative grunt, the glow behind her eyelids went dark. “Thank you,” she said.
“You’re welcome.” A pause. “Can I hold your hand?”
“No. Respect the bunny wall.”
His laugh was soft and so appealing that she almost reached over the pillows to take his hand anyway. Rory caught herself just in time.
“Good night, Ror.”
“Good night, Ian.”
“I’m glad I get to kiss you now.”
Rory was glad the darkness hid her blush. Turning onto her side, she could just make out his dark shape looming above the wall of pillows in the dim glow of the hall’s security lights. When his shadow shifted, she thought it was a trick of her vision until his lips brushed the side of her face, touching her jaw right in front of her earlobe. Her shiver had nothing to do with being cold.
“Good night, Rory.”
“Didn’t we already do this?” Although she’d intended her words to be sharp, they came out softly, her voice almost husky.
His quiet laugh was his only reply.
When she’s not writing, Katie Ruggle rides horses, shoots guns, and travels to warm places where she can SCUBA dive. Graduating from the Police Academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado mountains really are that cold. While she still misses her off-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in Rochester, Minnesota near her family.
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