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High Heat (Hotshots #2)
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1488057060 (ISBN13: 9781488057069)
Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series continues—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild .
Smoke jumping is Garrick Nelson’s life. Nothing, not severe injuries nor the brutal physical therapy that follows, is going to stop him from getting back with his crew. But when a lost dog shows up on his front porch, he can’t turn her away, and he can’t take care of her on his own. Thankfully, help comes in the form of his new sexy, dog-loving neighbor. As they work together, trying to re-home their little princess, Garrick can’t resist his growing attraction for the other man, even though he knows this guy isn’t the staying type.
Rain Fisher doesn’t take anything too seriously. He dances through life, one adventure at a time, never settling in one place for too long. When his hot, conveniently buff, neighbor shows up on his doorstep, dog in tow, Rain’s determined to not just save the adorable puppy, but her reluctant owner as well. He never expects their flirtation might tempt him into stay put once and for all…
Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts. Don’t miss the Hotshots series from Annabeth Albert: Burn Zone, High Heat, and Feel the Fire.
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“Come on, honey. You gotta let me help you.” Garrick liked to think he was good at sweet-talking, but his track record of success was in serious jeopardy here.
Woof. The dog danced away from him again. Balanced on crutches, he was limited in his ability to lunge for her. A year ago, his fast reflexes would have made his words irrelevant, but now he pitched his voice low and gentle.
“Sit? Can you sit?”
Miraculously, the dog plopped her fairly sizable behind down on his porch. She appeared to be some happy mix of pit, rottie and lab with a short brownish coat and white and tan markings on her nose and chest. No collar, which was alarming enough, but it was the bloody paw prints on his porch and scrape on her side that had him truly concerned.
He took a few steps toward her, but she quickly backed up. Damn it. It was probably the crutches that were scaring her.
“Me too, dog. Me too.” Industrial gray with heavy forearm cuffs, the crutches made a heavy sound with each step. They were a necessity that made his life far easier than the underarm variety had, but he couldn’t deny that they were probably intimidating to the scared dog. He needed a better plan. She was probably only fifty or sixty pounds, but he wasn’t going to be able to even grab her scruff, let alone lift her.
“Can you stay?”
The dog cocked her head like she was actually listening, which made Garrick laugh for the first time since discovering her barking at his front door. Obedient even if skittish, she stayed in place while he went back into the house. He traded the crutches for his wheelchair and retrieved his phone from the dining table.
Hell. He hated needing help, had needed so much of it in the past year, but he couldn’t let his pride get in the way of helping a wounded animal. His neighbor Shirley had dogs, two of them, little white yappy things. She’d have a leash and know a vet to call. She didn’t answer when he dialed her number, but he could see two cars in her driveway. Probably had company, and he hated interrupting, but it really couldn’t be avoided. If she wasn’t home, he’d have to try another friend or his dad, but this would be quicker.
Pocketing the phone, he rolled back out to the porch where the dog waited right where he’d left her.
“Good girl,” he praised, but when he scooted closer, she backed up again. “Okay, okay. I’m getting help. Stay.”
He used the wooden side ramp his friends had built for him to navigate the two porch steps, then zipped down the driveway and across the cul-de-sac to Shirley’s house, a neat little seventies ranch, same basic size as his own. Hers was a friendly shade of lilac, while he’d gone for gray. It was an older neighborhood of smaller homes but decent-sized yards, and close to both a park and Garrick’s favorite sports bar, where he used to hang out all the time.
And the air base, but he was trying not to think about that. Gorgeous blue sky, not a cloud in sight, fresh spring air, perfect day for a training jump or two. But not this year. Next one. You’ll get there, he reminded himself as he navigated Shirley’s driveway, which had more of an angle than his.
No porch for Shirley, but the single step in front of the front door was always a challenge. He should have brought the crutches, but he’d been in a hurry. Stretching, he managed to reach far enough to rattle the storm door. “Shirley? Shirley? It’s Garrick.”
“What the—” The door swung open to reveal a younger man, undoubtedly one of her many grandkids, and that would explain the extra car. And of course it would be one of the gorgeous guys who starred in the pics all over Shirley’s fridge—riot of curly chestnut hair pulled up, brown eyes and a lean dancer’s build in a shimmery blue shirt. “You need something?”
All of a sudden, Garrick was acutely aware of his dingy sweatpants and grubby T-shirt advertising a triathlon from five years back. He’d been going through his physical therapy exercises when he’d heard the dog barking. And it had been months since he’d last worried what he looked like, so God only knew the state of his hair and face, but something about this guy made him care. And like with the dog, he did not seem to be making a good first impression, judging by the guy’s scowl.
“I’m her neighbor,” he hurried to explain. “From across the street? The one who built her garden beds in back. We’re friends. I need her help with a dog situation.”
“A dog situation?” The scowl dropped, leaving in its place a more speculative expression, one that showed off the guy’s full mouth and high cheekbones. “She’s mentioned you. She’s resting right now though. Said she had a bad arthritis night.”