Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)

By: Victoria Purman

He’d ordered a drink and found himself in the middle of a party. Someone he knew had called him over, telling him that Cady Adams from high school—did he remember Cady Adams—was heading out to some fancy catering school in California and that he should buy her a drink and wish her luck, for old times’ sake.

So Cady Adams was leaving. Dex knew that when people left Glacier Creek with big dreams, those dreams usually stayed too big for them to ever come back. But the thought of her leaving and never coming back had suddenly gutted him. He wasn’t sure why, because he’d been gone a long back in Glacier Creek, the place that still felt like home to him, no matter how much he drifted.

He’d maneuvered his way through the busy crowd of people, looking for Cady, and when a spot opened up next to her at the long, wooden bar, he’d quickly filled it.

Cady had turned her head and her gaze had hit his chest. She slowly looked up, her eyes wide and her lips parted in surprise. He’d never forgotten that look, or surprise, of wide-eyed interest, not in the four years since.

“Well, hello.” She’d called out, a sparkle brightening her eyes. And then her lips parted in a cute, little circle shape and she caught her breath. “Hell, Dex McCoy. Wow. Long time no see.”

“Yeah, you, too.” It had been six years since high school but he’d never forgotten her kindness. Or her eyes. He could see with a quick glance up and down her body that she wasn’t a school girl anymore.

“God, you’re…” She’d looked him up and down too and let out a big sigh. “You’re tall.”

Then she leaned in, her expression suddenly serious. “How’re your dad and your brother?”

“They’re good.” He had to change the subject. “I hear you’re leaving Montana.”

“Yessiree. I’m throwing off this hick town.” She’d waved a hand in the air dramatically. “I’m going to Cali-forn-i-a. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact.”

Dex looked to the back of the bar and the collection of bottles lit up by the bright overhead lights, restraining the sudden urge to taste those pouty lips of hers. He cleared his throat instead. “What’s in California?”

She huffed. “Besides the sun and the beach and Hollywood and all those wineries?”

“I prefer mountains, a lake, and a cold beer, myself.”

She’d eyed him up and down, clearly wondering why the guy who’d barely spoken a word to her since ever was suddenly making conversation. If she figured it out, Dex wouldn’t have minded knowing the answer himself.

“I’m making something of my life, Dex McCoy. That’s what I’m doing.” She’d stumbled slightly, bumping against his shoulder and then grabbing his arm to steady herself. “I’m going to kick ass at a culinary institute in San Francisco. That’s what’s in California, cowboy. I’m going to learn all there is to know about baking.”

“You mean, like cakes? You can study that?”

“You bet your ass I can. Cakes and pastries and tarts and amazing desserts and the business side, too. I want to have my own shop one day, someplace where I can look out to the ocean every day and shwim if I want to.” She snorted. “Swim. I mean swim.”

“So, Cady wants a cake shop.”

She flicked her gaze to him, her eyes suddenly wide.

She grabbed his hand. “What did you just say?”

“Cady wants a cake shop?”

She let go of him and slammed her palm on the bar. “Hey, barkeep. Got a pen?”

Hugh found a pen under the counter and winked at her good-naturedly. “You wanting my number, Miss Cady?”

She giggled back at him. “I’ve just had a brilliant idea, Hugh.” And when a pen was offered, she scribbled something on the back of one hand, and then slipped the pen into the pocket of Dex’s checked shirt.

Dex watched her performance. “So, you’re heading off tomorrow.”

“Yep. I’m all packed. Mom and Gran have already started crying. Don’t know if they’ll stop the whole time I’m away.”

Cady had looked up at him then, her smile gone. He knew what she was thinking. She’d mentioned her mother, which made her think of his. Dex wished he’d had the words to thank her for that day at school, for what she’d done. But he still didn’t know what to say.

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