Inferno of Love:Firefighters of Long Valley Book 2(12)

By: Erin Wright


A Dalmatian out wandering in the wilderness and a wildfire roaring up through the forest.

Of course.

Her body wanted to go into flight mode and she felt the muscles tense up in her, readying to take off at a full sprint, but she fought the impulse. She could freak out later. She could panic and run in circles all she wanted, once she got home. Right here, right now, she couldn’t afford to. She had to think through the problem logically. It was a puzzle, a puzzle that had to be solved so she could live.

So a puzzle with life-and-death consequences. No pressure or anything.

She rolled her eyes at herself – sarcastic, even in the face of death – and forced her mind to go through her choices. There wasn’t a way to get down the hill, through that fire, and back to her car. Not gonna happen. She mentally tossed that choice out the window.

Staying where she was seemed like a pretty shitastic choice too, mostly because it appeared that choice would end in a fiery death. Not exactly the way she’d wanted to end her time here on earth. She mentally tossed that choice out the window.

Which really just left up the hill. She wasn’t going to be able to outrun a forest fire, though, especially because the undergrowth was thick and she’d have to stick to the path. The fire wouldn’t be forced to follow a switchback path up the hillside, though. Damn cheater…

And anyway, further up the trail were just more pine trees and underbrush and rocks – there wasn’t exactly a fire-free zone she could go hide in—

Hold on – rocks! Eagle’s Nest, of course!

It was a huge rocky cliff at the top of the hill with no vegetation around it. Ergo, nothing to burn. Ergo, the flames would pass on by.

Right?

That totally seemed like a valid plan to her, not in the least because she had literally no other choice.

She ran back down to the curve of the trail, and to the Dalmatian that was still cowering behind a boulder. Right where she’d left him.

“Come here, boy, we gotta go,” she whispered urgently as she held out the now slightly slick piece of jerky, moist from the sweat on the palms of her hands, the smell of smoke growing stronger. Or maybe it just seemed like it was growing stronger. For all she knew, it had turned back the other direction.

Or, it was still heading straight towards her.

It was a 50/50 chance at this point, and honestly, she wasn’t too enthralled with those odds. They were great odds when it came to winning a lottery; not such great odds when it came to surviving.

The dog crept forward slowly, its nose going a million miles an hour as it smelled the jerky. Come on, come on, come on…Finally, it snatched the jerky from her hand and started to retreat behind the boulder again.

“We gotta go!” Georgia hissed as she grabbed the dog’s collar, stopping it in its tracks. It whined, panicking, as she began pulling it up the trail behind her, the dog fighting her every step of the way.

Yeah, this was fun.

She worked her way up the trail, the smoke and smell from the fire growing stronger by the moment, and she realized her 50/50 shot at the flames going a different direction was rapidly dwindling before her eyes. Her heart was beating a million miles a minute, and she couldn’t seem to catch a full breath, but dammit all, she was almost there and she’d be safe – maybe – if she just hung on a little longer…

She burst out of the trees and shrubs, her heart pounding as she stared up at Eagle’s Nest. Years before, a pair of golden eagles had nested in the cliffs here, and the name stuck. There weren’t any eagles around anymore, but that was no reason to change the name.

She headed for the dead center of the rock face, figuring that this would get her the farthest away from any brush or anything burnable at all. The dog’s feet scrabbled on the rock underneath them as she pulled him along but she ignored his whimpers of protest. “It’s for your own good,” she informed him as she forced him forward.

That’s when she heard…a plane? A helicopter? What the hell?! She stopped for a moment, her hand firmly gripping the dog’s collar, as she squinted up into the sky. Sure enough, there was a helicopter flying overhead.

That was it, she’d officially seen it all. Even as her mind was trying to figure out why a helicopter was flying around, she was waving her free arm in the air, trying to catch its attention. They could swoop in and pick her up.

Okay, so maybe she’d watched too many movies, and that wasn’t actually possible, but dammit all, they had to help her somehow!

The blades of the helicopter only whipped the flames up higher, though, and then it peeled off and headed back out, its path lost in the haze of the smoke. Georgia’s shoulders slumped. She was by herself again. Well, her and a dog that was scared spitless of her.