The Fireman Who Loved Me (The Bachelor Firemen Of San Gabriel #1)(8)

By: Jennifer Bernard

“It’s part of my job to not get rattled.”

“But you’re not on the job right now. Don’t you want to argue with me? Mix it up? Play a little racquetball?”

“Oh, later I’ll probably grab some of my buddies, hit the nearest bar, and beat someone up. You know how us firemen like a good throw down.”

“See that? You’ll fight with your buddies, but not with a mere woman. Typical male arrogance.”

Okay, now she was starting to get under his skin. “You really want me to fight with you?”

His men would have recognized the dangerous look in his eyes, but Melissa stuck out her chin in that stubborn way of hers.

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”

“Okay. Let’s see, the news.” His voice was quiet enough not to be overheard, but forceful enough to get his point across. “You stick microphones in people’s faces at their worst moments, but you make sure your lipstick is perfect first. If someone’s crying, you get that camera nice and close so you can catch every moment. The first thing you want to know about a man, after what he makes, is what car he drives. BMWs or Porsches are best, but you might condescend to date a man with an Audi, if you were really desperate. You get your nails done once a week, a facial every other week, you don’t mind spending five hundred dollars on a pair of shoes you wear twice. And once you have yourself a man, he’d better make sure to keep the cash flowing, because if it stops . . . you’re off to the next provider.”

He snapped his mouth shut. Where had that last part come from? But he knew the answer to that; he was describing his ex-wife.

Of course, Melissa had no way of knowing that. “That is completely unfair. You just repeated every cliché ever invented about the news business.”

“And you’re obviously completely objective when it comes to firemen.”

“I’m a newsperson, we’re paid to be objective.”

“Then you might want to think about giving the money back, because—”

“Excuse me, mister.”

“What?” He swung around and found himself staring down a willowy, gray-haired lady. She took a startled step back. “I’m sorry. So sorry. I didn’t mean to speak so forcefully. What is it?”

“The other dancers and I would . . . Well, you’re causing quite a commotion.”

Brody looked around and saw the dance floor had cleared in a wide circle around them. The music had trailed off. Melissa tugged at his arm, her face bright pink.

“We’ll leave immediately,” she said. “We’re extremely sorry.”

“Very, very sorry,” he repeated after her.

During the ride back to her house, Melissa stewed next to him.

“One thing’s for sure,” she said. “We are not compatible, not one bit.”

Brody didn’t argue, although he’d been having a good time despite Melissa’s absurd prejudices about firemen. He would have enjoyed showing her just how wrong she was. But then he’d lost control—he, Captain Brody, whose cool under pressure was legendary on the force.

He was embarrassed. Ashamed. This proved he had no business dating. He thought he’d put all thoughts of Rebecca behind him. But she’d popped up like a mocking jack-in-the-box determined to ruin his good time.

Out of sheer, dogged politeness, he followed Melissa to her door. She stuck out her hand to shake his.

“Thank you for the nice evening. And just so you know, my shoes cost thirty-two dollars at Payless—” But she didn’t get a chance to finish. Before he knew what he was doing, Brody yanked her into his arms and covered her mouth with his. She tasted so good she made his head spin. She was warm cream, vanilla velvet, wine, and fire.

What was he doing? He was insane. This girl despised him, she thought they weren’t compatible; but none of that mattered. He had to touch her, had to feel her soft lips against his. She’d probably knee him in the balls, spray him with Mace . . . but no. Her mouth opened on a sigh.

Her bare arms came around him, silky and maddening. Losing himself in the sweetness of her mouth, he let his tongue explore, feeling hers dance and twirl with his, as if they were still on the ballroom floor. This was a bad idea, a very bad idea. In another second he would lose the last ounce of his control. With a groan, he pulled away.

Her green eyes had gone all hazy, like mist over a quarry lake. She looked so beautiful he couldn’t stand it. He had to kiss her again, taste that smooth skin . . . He lowered his head to press kisses into her neck, onto her cheekbones, against her ear. “Even when you were yelling at me, I wanted to do this.”

She laughed. Such a rich sound, like deep wind chimes in a forest. He loved her laugh.

Was her skin this soft everywhere on her body? Just the question made him tighten with excitement. If he didn’t stop now, he was going to tear off her clothes and run his hands over every curve of her body. That tempting vanilla scent was driving him insane, and so was the way she’d gone loose in the limbs from his kisses. He would have to be made of mahogany to resist.

He felt alive, fiercely aroused. He hadn’t felt like this in so long he’d forgotten how to handle it. Giving in to the craziness of it, he pushed her against the front door, braced his arms on either side of her, and pressed his aching groin against her.

When she arched her body against his hips, it felt like a spark in a tinderbox. He ground himself into her. She answered with a moan and a thrust of her hips. Urgent need raced through him like a sheet of flame, obliterating every other thought.

His hungry hands flew to her neckline. She was wearing some kind of sleeveless top that had no visible way in. Too tight to pull up, no zipper that his fumbling fingers could find. How the hell did she get it on? He’d have to rip it off. But he couldn’t wait. He molded her full breasts through the thin material and felt their eager tips leap toward his hands. His hands shook with the need to feel her secret softness against his palms, their tender nipples hardening under his fingers.

He was about to rip her shirt in two, when suddenly the door swung open behind her. Melissa stumbled backward. He hauled her against him to keep her from hitting the floor.

Nelly, arms akimbo, glared at them in outrage. “What are you doing to my granddaughter?”

Brody felt Melissa shake against his chest. He tightened his arm around her. “It’s okay, Mrs. McGuire. Nothing happened.”


Melissa raised her head. Her face was flushed, lips swollen, glasses fogged up. “Nothing happened,” she echoed in a smothered voice. Brody hoped Nelly’s glasses were equally foggy. It was their only chance.

“I saw his hands around your neck! He’s no fire captain, he’s an axe murderer!”

“Grans, he doesn’t have an axe.”

“I’m not a murderer of any kind.” Brody felt compelled to clarify. “I was just . . .”

“He was just . . .” Melissa trailed off.

“Adjusting her collar,” Brody finally managed.

“What collar? She doesn’t have one.”

“I thought she did.”

“Well, you were wrong, weren’t you?” demanded Nelly.

“Very wrong.”

Nelly seemed to be satisfied. “Well, go on with you, then.”

Brody looked at Melissa, who was staring down at her feet, still trying to catch her breath. She must think he was some kind of animal. His arousal hadn’t gone down a bit, despite the rude shock of the interruption. Hoping it wasn’t too obvious, he backed away, then turned sideways to address Melissa.

“Thank you for a lovely evening.”

“Thank you,” she answered, equally polite. She gave him one quick glance, and the heat in her eyes shot directly to his groin.

Trying to think of the most unsexy things possible—the new sink he had to put in, the compost pile he’d started in the backyard—he walked quickly toward his car. When he looked back, the door had closed, and both women were gone.

He let out a long whistling breath. Holy Mother of God. What had just happened? He needed a cold shower. Or a bucket of ice. If that didn’t work, his favorite channel, C-SPAN. And wouldn’t Melissa gloat if she found out he was a secret news junkie.

Chapter Five

As Melissa walked through the fluorescent-lit corridors of the Channel Six newsroom the next morning, her step had a definite, unaccustomed bounce. It did not go unnoticed.

“Finally get laid?” said Nolan Chang, the young, hip, Asian-American reporter who sat in the cubicle next to hers. His phone was clamped to his ear; she could only hope he was on hold.

“Must you? Really?” It had taken Melissa a few years to get used to the raunchy humor of the typical newsroom. By now she’d learned to hold her own, but at times the X-rated joking still made her blush. She was a shy girl at heart. Then again, maybe she wasn’t, if last night was any indication. At the memory, she felt her face flame.

The crazy electricity that had raced through her body when Brody kissed her! She’d melted against him with absolutely no hesitation. One minute she’d been about to explain Payless shoes to him, the next she’d plastered her body against his hard chest. When she’d felt the warm, rigid thrust of him against her hips, she’d gone wild. If Nelly hadn’t opened the door when she had . . .