Inferno of Love:Firefighters of Long Valley Book 2(5)

By: Erin Wright

Georgia swallowed, hard, and a small piece of potato went down the wrong tube. She started coughing politely into her hand, desperately trying to pretend that everything was fine, but she soon gave into a full-body cough, huddled over in her chair, tears streaming down her face from the force of the coughing.

Her mom patted her on the back. “Are you okay, dear?” she murmured as Georgia struggled for air. Her face was hot with embarrassment, but finally the coughing fit passed, the potato unlodged itself from her airway, and she was able to breathe without lapsing into another coughing fit.

“So sorry,” she murmured into her goblet of moscato. “Eating sure is dangerous sometimes.”

No one laughed.

“He hasn’t yet,” Tennessee said, politely answering her father’s question as if nothing had happened. She gave a small shrug. “We might just meet there. Honestly, Father, I don’t think he’s ready—”

“Of course he is; he just doesn’t know it yet,” her father snapped. “He’s a typical male, is all. But his dad and I have talked, and it’s settled. As soon as Deere is ready, he’ll propose. His dad has made it quite clear that he doesn’t get the dealership until then, so I imagine he’ll be ready soon. His dad has him working as a grease monkey right now, helping with oil changes in the shop, and he certainly won’t want that job for long. He’s going to want to take things over, and he knows that marriage to you is how that’ll happen.”

Tenny nodded, her curled and styled hair falling forward to cover her face. “Of course,” she murmured into her dinner plate.

So yeah, maybe being the daughter of the high school biology teacher wasn’t such a bad thing after all. The principal didn’t demand that Georgia marry someone who would take over the English department; no one really cared who she married, honestly, as long as he was a vaguely decent guy. Her parents wouldn’t exactly get behind a pothead or a thief, but they also didn’t sit around the dinner table and grill her about her marriage prospects.

Thank God for small favors.

She shot a grateful smile at her parents, sitting side by side, politely working their way through the beautifully cooked food. After this week’s torture was over, her mother would gratefully throw on a pair of sweatpants, put her hair up in a ponytail, and get to work on her oil paintings. Her dad would put on his work jeans and go putter around in the garage; probably work on the lawn mower that’s been giving him fits. Get it ready for the upcoming season.

And Georgia would head back to her condo, home to her and her two goldfish, and read a book while curled up in bed.

It wasn’t an exciting life, but it was theirs, and compared to the rich branch of the family, Georgia couldn’t help but be grateful for it. If money turned a person into Uncle Robert and Aunt Roberta, she figured being middle class for the rest of her life was something she’d be happy with.

The topic of conversation turned to water – not enough of it, as always – and the wind – which was busy drying everything out like a nature-sized hair dryer – and Tennessee, grateful to have the spotlight off her for the moment, began picking at her food with a little more enthusiasm.

Another week, another Sunday dinner.

Georgia suddenly had visions of spending Sunday afternoon with her aunt and uncle when she was 72, the conversation just as stilted and awkward as it was now. A half century of dinners together would do nothing to bring them closer together as a family, that was for damn sure.

And then the idea of Moose sitting next to Tennessee entered into the daydream, and Georgia felt her heart squeeze at the thought. Someday, Tenny was going to marry Moose, and she’d probably want Georgia as her maid of honor, and Georgia would have to pretend to be happy even as her heart was being stomped to pieces…

“Are you okay?” Virginia’s voice broke into her thoughts, and Georgia’s head jerked up.

“Yes, of course,” she murmured, taking another sip of her moscato.

She was good at pretending. She had to be.

Chapter 4


“Six days left, guys,” Jaxson said, pushing his fingers through his dark brown hair. He had bags under his eyes and he hadn’t shaved for a couple of days. He looked like a guy at the end of his rope. “What’s left to figure out? Did everyone go talk to their assigned local businesses?”

“I talked to everyone on my list,” Moose said, “plus I chatted with Georgia over at the credit union  .”

He felt Levi stiffen up next to him. “I was supposed to talk to Georgia,” he practically growled.