Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)

By: Victoria Purman

She had to look away. She grabbed a pair of tongs. She reached for the last cupcake in the display window, the one she’d been planning to take home for herself and have for dinner—it sure beat frozen leftovers—and positioned it on top of the box of trail bars.

Dex looked at it. Then looked at Cady. His dark chocolate eyes were like the caramel she poured into trays to make caramel slice.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s a chocolate chip cupcake. It’s one of my best sellers.”

Dex regarded it. “I’ll give it to Jacqui.”

Cady sighed, fixed her fists to her hips. “It’s not for Jacqui. It’s for you.”

“For me?” He looked at it suspiciously.

Why was he looking at her as if he suspected she’d put bait in it?

Cady found some sass. “Yes. It’s for you.”

“I can’t take that.” There was a flare in those caramel eyes of his. He reached for the cupcake and put it on the counter, careful to hold it by its paper wrapping.

Cady paused. She put it back on the box.

Dex put it back on the counter.

She huffed. “What? Don’t tell me—you don’t eat carbs?”

“No, not much.” A glance at the stretch of his T-shirt across his chest backed up what he’d just said.

“It’s good, you know.”

“I’m sure it’s good.”

“So what is it then? You don’t want it because I made it, right? Cady’s Cakes not good enough for you, Dex McCoy. Is that it?”

He stared at her, his face expressionless. And Cady suddenly realised she wasn’t talking about her chocolate chip cupcake anymore. Four years ago, he hadn’t thought she was good enough for him. Seemed like nothing had changed in all these years. Dealing with Dex McCoy was like Groundhog Day.

She grabbed the bag, pulled out the cupcake, opened her mouth, and took a huge bite. Damn, it was good. Dex didn’t say a word. He lifted the box under one arm and left.

Chapter Four

Dex tossed the box in the passenger side of his truck and stomped to the other side, flinging open the door and starting the engine with a fierce twist and a throaty throb on the accelerator.

Cady Adams was playing with his mind.

Even after all this time, even after a year of avoiding her, she’d tried to give him a damn cupcake. It was just like Cady Adams to be nice to him again. As he drove down Main Street, his memory stretched back a decade, back to high school, and he remembered the first time. When his mom had died and he’d gone back to school a couple days after the funeral, she’d searched him out, found him at the school gate after school and come to him, her bottom lip wobbling, her eyes wet with tears, and thrown her arms around him, right there in front of everybody. She hadn’t told him she was sorry, hadn’t told him it was God’s will, or fate, or that his mom had been brave. She hadn’t said one damn word. Just held him. And he’d tried so fucking hard not to cry that he went home with an aching jaw and a heart beating so fast in his chest he thought he was going to have a heart attack.

He left town a week later, running from the memories of his mom, from his father’s grief, from Mitch’s stoic big brother act, from a future that had lost all shape.

But now he was back and Cady Adams was still nice. Hell, she was more than nice. When she’d grabbed that cupcake and taken a huge chunk out of it, chewing it slowly, teasing him with her hot mouth, the heart attack feeling was back. When she’d licked her lips, smearing some of the gooey chocolate across her full mouth, he’d had to get out of there.

He’d kissed her before.

And suddenly, every memory of that night, four years ago, came flashing back into his brain. He’d been back in Glacier Creek for a week to see his family, having just finished up a job in Colorado. For old time’s sake, he’d gone to The Drop Zone, a bar in a landmark building in nearby Kalispell. It was long and narrow with a fifty-foot, carved oak bar that had been rescued from a former brothel in the old mining town of Taft, and it was full of character. The tin ceilings had scenes of the gold rush imprinted on the tiles and Dex had always liked the vintage jukebox next to the small dance floor. He hadn’t liked the songs so much—Hugh Ferguson, the bar’s owner and former captain at the Glacier Creek service station—was always playing old-time country, like Merle Haggard and Loretta Lyn. Dex preferred the new country artists himself, but those classic tunes were part of the whole atmosphere of the place.

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