Inferno of Love:Firefighters of Long Valley Book 2(3)

By: Erin Wright

So, you know, the usual.

Levi seemed to be taking his sweet-ass time about making his appearance this week, though, so Moose just settled into place against the polished bar top and slowly sipped at his beer. Several of the biggest customers of the Garrett Tractor & Implement Dealership were here tonight, which was both a blessing and a curse. Any face-time with customers outside of work, where they got to see him as more than just a salesman trying to upgrade them to the latest and greatest, was always a good thing.

Of course, his father letting him back onto the sales floor was only something Moose could wish for longingly at this point. He’d been stuck in the repair shop for a lot longer than he’d expected and was ready to move back to the showroom, where his natural talent for salesmanship could truly be a boon to the business.

He understood why his dad was having him work in every department at the dealership – as the future owner, having a deep knowledge of how everything worked together was key – but he was never going to truly love being a grease monkey. The sales floor was where he shined, and everyone knew it.

But tonight, here at the bar, he was the owner’s son, even if he was the son tucked away in the repair shop, and the dealership’s biggest, most important customers would expect him to buy a round or two for them, which…wasn’t necessarily doable. He did some mental calculations. If he bought a beer for three farmers, what would that mean for paying his cell phone bill next week? Could he squeak by until payday?

“Hey, brother,” Levi said, pretty much in his ear. Moose jumped, spilling a little of his Guinness on the scuffed wooden floor.

“Shit, Levi,” Moose yelped, laughing. “When’d you get here?”

“Just now, but you seemed off in your own little world. Trying to figure out who you can afford to buy rounds for?”

“Maybe.” He took another tiny sip of his beer. The smaller, the better. He’d taken nursing a beer to an Olympic level, really.

“You know I’d be happy to pay for the rounds,” Levi rumbled. His deep voice didn’t travel far, but Moose’d had 17 years of practice of listening to him, so he caught every word.

“It’ll be fine,” Moose said, waving the suggestion off. Customers expected the owner’s son to buy their drinks, not the dealership’s welder and repairman. “How was work today? I didn’t see you at closing time.”

“Your dad has me out doing repairs in fields right now. That damn wind today was colder than an ice slick in January, though. I’ll be glad when spring repairs are over with, and I can come back to working in the shop.”

Levi worked at the John Deere dealership, of course, although he made more money at it than Moose did. Everyone made more money than Moose did. In fact, he was pretty damn sure that the shop kid who pushed a broom around made more than he did.

He pushed the thought aside. “Are all of the farmers complaining to you about how dry it is this year? That’s all I’m hearing about right now at the dealership.”

“Yup. This past winter…I mean, sure, we had a few nice snowstorms but half the time, we were getting nothing but wind blowing the same damn snow around in circles. The snowpack up in the Goldfork Mountains just isn’t where it should be…I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. If we get a few late season storms in, we might be fine, but right now, all we’re getting is wind, wind, and more wind. Like living in a damn air tunnel. Drying out the fields like this ain’t exactly making the farmers happy.”

Moose took another metered sip of his beer. “Nope, it really isn’t. And if the farmers ain’t happy…”

“Ain’t nobody happy,” Levi finished, and they laughed. They lapsed together into a silence that felt as natural and comfortable as slipping on an old pair of jeans. Levi was his oldest and truest friend; the one who’d always had his back no matter what.

Moose may have a dick for a father, but Levi almost helped make up for that.


Of course, Levi’s dad was no one to write home about either, although he was a dirtbag in a completely different way. While Moose’s dad was the richest guy in town and someone no one dared stand up to, Levi’s dad was the town drunk who didn’t care one bit about who or what he hurt, as long as he got alcohol in the end.

They may not appear similar on the surface, but underneath…

“What did your dad say when you told him you wouldn’t be bringing brown paper bags by anymore?” Moose asked, taking another tiny sip of his Guinness. Despite his best efforts, his beer was almost gone. Maybe he could pretend to drink out of an empty bottle; extend the illusion a little longer.