Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)

By: Victoria Purman



“He and Laurel are a good fit, aren’t they?”

“They are. They’ll be at The Drop Zone tonight. You coming by?”

Jacqui had obviously noticed the hesitation on her face. “C’mon, Cady. It’s Saturday night. I know you have the rockingest cake shop in the whole of western Montana, but you need to have a life, too.”

“Hey! Only Western Montana?” Cady joked, propping her hands on her hips, which were covered by the pink and white striped apron which bore the logo Cady’s Cakes across her chest.

“I’ll give you the whole damn state if you come tonight to have just one drink.”

Cady ruminated on it. She straightened the napkins in the napkin holder. Tidied the stack of white paper bags next to it. Checked the time again.

She sighed. “Okay. Just one.”

Jacqui winked at her friend. “I’ll see you at seven. That early enough for you?”

“If I start to look droopy-eyed and, worse than that, if I start to snore, poke me.”

“It’s a deal. See you tonight!”

Cady waved back and watched her friend head out the front door and turn left onto Main. She sighed, crossed her arms. Baker’s hours were hardly conducive to dating. She was in bed by eight o’clock every night. When other people were heading out to dinner or a beer at The Drop Zone, she was in bed trying to get through at least one chapter of the latest book everybody was reading before falling asleep.

But she would push herself to go to The Drop Zone tonight. It had been ages since she’d been out in the dark. God, that thought made her feel like a hermit. It was the hours she worked that got in the way of her love life. That was what she liked to tell herself, anyway. So, she’d been asked out on a couple of dates since she’d been back in Glacier Creek. A few dates. There was the one guy with the beard but no moustache that had looked so strange she couldn’t help but stare at his naked upper lip all night. And not in a good way. She’d lied and gone home early, saying she had to make a wedding cake in the morning. There was the insurance guy who was in Glacier Creek to settle on the Kingsley property, after the old man had died leaving no heirs and had donated his property to the adjoining Flathead National Forest. Insurance guy had doused himself in too much aftershave and Cady spent the entire night gasping for air. And there was the wilderness tour guide who had been the most promising of the lot, but he’d spent the whole evening talking about his broken heart and his ex-wife and Cady had gone to the bathroom and slipped out through the back door of The Drop Zone.

So yes, The Drop Zone had been the scene of many romantic disappointments.

What was she even thinking going back there tonight?

When a group of new moms came in, a posse of Lycra and strollers, Cady looked up, glad of the distraction, and served them all with her best smile.





Chapter Three





Dex McCoy ignored the pang of hunger in his stomach as he drove through Glacier Creek’s main street which hit him just about the same time Cady’s Cakes came into view. He only slowed down as he drove past for safety reasons, because there were always people coming and going on the street outside her shop. Families with little kids, older folks walking too slowly across Main Street, tired, old cowboys still trying to pretend they had a spring in their step. Safety. Yeah, that was the reason. He sure wasn’t slowing his speed to take a long look through the gleaming front window of Cady’s Cakes. There she was, every day except Sunday. She was there from first light to sunset. And he didn’t need to look too long to see her smile from the front seat of his truck. As wide as the Montana sky, as bright as the stars above when the sun dipped behind the mountains.

He’d seen Cady Adams’s smile in his head every day he’d been away.

Dex turned up the radio and a country song filled the cabin of his truck. He sang along with it, totally out of tune, until he reached the Glacier Creek service station. His base. It was a twenty-acre facility surrounded by acres of land, with a couple of airplane hangars, a helipad, and a seven-thousand square foot log cabin. Inside, were offices, a workout area, a bunk house for the crew who were on-call, and a large assembly room where the smokejumpers gathered for briefings and training. This was where he spent his time. Here and home and out at North Fork with Mitch and Sarah and Lila. And, yeah, he had to admit to a few too many nights at The Drop Zone with the crew. Dex pulled into the gravel parking lot, cut the engine, got out, and strode across the lawn to the base, the words from that country song going round in his head. Why were they always about too many beers and the girl that got away?

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