Flame (Firefighters of Montana Book 5)

By: Victoria Purman



She looked up quickly. It was Dex. She watched while he parked right outside her shop, got out, and walked to the front door.

Well, wasn’t this a surprise?

For the first time since she’d opened up, Dex McCoy was coming into Cady’s Cakes. What the hell was going on? They hadn’t said a word to each other in forever. And since they’d both been back in Glacier Creek, there was maybe a sullen glance across The Drop Zone. A reluctant nod if they passed each other in the street. But not one single word for four years.

When he pushed open the door and lifted his eyes from his boots, Cady’s chest tightened and her pulse skipped. God, he looked good. Better than ever. Back in high school, she’d thought he was dreamy, but now? He was smoking hot. Cady took in his tall, rangy frame, his long, loping stride, the deep tan of his revealed forearms and his neck, his jaw, his cheeks. His dirty blond hair, spiky and unruly. Exactly like Dex himself.

“Hey, Cady,” he said.

Cady lifted her chin, shoved her left hand on her right to stop the tap-tap-tapping of her pen. She found the most businesslike voice she could muster. She was Cady from Cady’s Cakes, after all. “Hello, Dex.”

He reached the counter, stopped, and she watched him shove his big hands into the pockets of his jeans. She swallowed hard. She knew they were big hands. He’d used them once to push her away. One night, a long time ago. The no talking for four years thing was a pretty good indication he was as determined as she was to forget about what had happened.

“How’ve you been?” She could be friendly, even if he felt like a stranger now.

“Good.”

“How was Missoula?”

Dex raised an eyebrow. “How did you know I was in Missoula?”

“This is Glacier Creek, Dex. Small towns talk, remember?” Maybe he’d forgotten about that, since he’d been away for so long.

“Missoula was good.”

He certainly hadn’t learned the art of conversation while he’d been away. He took a good long look around her shop, seemingly taking in every detail. And when his gaze returned to her face, he was serious and still.

“This place looks really great.”

“Well… thanks.” Cady felt the familiar swell of pride and let herself enjoy it.

“Congratulations.”

We’ve both come a long way, Cady thought, but she didn’t say it. “I wish I could offer you something but I’ve pretty much sold out of everything, except that one lonely chocolate chip cupcake there. I’ve already cleaned the coffee machine and”—she flicked a glance at the watch on her wrist, noticing the minute hand had just ticked over past twelve—“I’m now officially closed.”

Dex seemed to be hiding a smile, his lips pulled tight. He also had some muscle action going on in his jaw that was kind of mesmerising.

“I’m not here for coffee or…” His eyes dipped to the display cabinet. “Or… cupcakes. Jacqui sent me. You’ve got some trail bars for the station?”

Of course she had some trail bars for the fire station. It was a standing order at Cady’s Cakes. The energy food bars, densely packed with nuts, seeds, oats and almonds, were a staple in the food packs for the smokejumpers when they set off to fight fires. They needed calorie dense foods to keep their energy up for the sometimes days they spent in the inaccessible mountain ranges around Flathead Lake. She’d been supplying them since she’d opened up a year ago.

“Of course. I’ll just grab them. They’re in the back.” She looked past his wide shoulders to the front door. “Would you mind keeping an eye out? I haven’t locked up.”

“Sure.”

Cady wiped her suddenly damp hands on her apron and went to the back of the shop to the storeroom. The bars were packed in a cardboard box, sealed in plastic ziplock bags. When she walked back to him, carrying the box with both hands, Dex’s eyes were on her, studying every step. Every sway of her hips underneath the flare of the pink apron. She hated that she noticed. She liked that he did.

She put the box on the counter. “Here you go.”

“Thanks, Cady.”

And then he paused, just for a moment, and something zinged in the air between them. Something like a long lost memory. Something like desire. He looked up. She met his eyes. They were dark, mysterious, and there were words there, hidden behind that mystery. For just a flicker, she was eighteen again. Cady didn’t realise she was holding her breath until she felt the burn in her lungs.

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