Inferno of Love:Firefighters of Long Valley Book 2(8)

By: Erin Wright


Old like me.

She pushed that thought away. She’d be 27 next year. It wasn’t like she was hitting retirement age next week or something.

“What was that sigh for?” Levi asked at her elbow. She spun in a circle, her hand over her heart.

“Good Lord, I didn’t hear you come up!” she said with a laugh. “How’s it going so far?” She ignored the sigh question. Talking to Levi about how she felt lonely at these kinds of gatherings was not going to happen. He’d read something into that that plain wasn’t there.

Nope, she wasn’t gonna touch that with a ten-foot pole.

“Pretty good turnout so far. The donkeys are getting restless out back, so we’ll probably have to round up the guys soon to start the basketball game.”

Georgia smiled, happy to have something to discuss with Levi that wasn’t charged with awkward emotions. They could do friends. They could totally do friends. As long as Levi left any discussion of dating out of it, they’d be just fine.

“So who’s running this year’s bet on the basketball game?”

“Mr. Leadbetter, although of course, I don’t know that, and neither do you.” Betting money, even on something as innocuous as donkey basketball, wasn’t technically permitted by Idaho state law.

It was a law everyone chose to overlook, even Sheriff Connelly, for at least one night a year.

“Who are you guys playing tonight?”

“A bunch of high school teachers and staff.”

Georgia snorted with laughter at the idea of Mrs. Westingsmith riding a donkey around the gym while trying to huck a basketball at the hoop. Or even more insane…her father on the back of a donkey.

This was a game she wouldn’t miss for the world.

“The odds are…definitely in our favor,” Levi said, reading her snort of laughter correctly. “In the non-existent betting pool, of course.”

“What betting pool?” Georgia asked innocently.

“Exactly.”

“Who’s running the betting pool this year?” Tennessee asked in Georgia’s ear. Georgia spun on her heel to glare at her cousin. What was up with people sneaking up on her tonight?! She opened her mouth to yell at her or answer her question or…or…something, when she saw Moose standing right behind Tenny.

Her mouth went dry. He looked damned delectable tonight, there was no doubt about it. He was wearing slacks instead of jeans for once, and as good as she thought Wranglers looked on him, somehow slacks looked even better. Which should be illegal, honestly. His dress shirt – no tie – wasn’t buttoned at the top, leaving a triangle of skin peeking out at her that she suddenly wanted to lick, just to see what it tasted like.

Her eyes jerked up to his, and she saw he was smiling slightly at her in greeting. He didn’t seem to realize that she’d been undressing him with her eyes, and for that, she was eternally thankful. In the distance, she heard Levi begin to answer Tennessee’s question and was vaguely grateful that they hadn’t noticed her obsession with Moose’s throat.

Shit, that made her sound like a damn vampire or something.

She tore her eyes away from the tempting spot – again – and up to his face. “Hi,” she croaked. She cleared her throat and moved to his side so they were both facing Levi and Tenny, who were busy joking about whose job it was gonna be to clean up the donkey shit at the end of the night. Tenny’s face looked positively radiant as she chatted with Levi, and the weight in Georgia’s stomach just grew heavier. Of course she looked radiant. Her date was the cutest guy in five counties. Georgia would be ecstatic too if she were on Moose’s arm tonight.

Which she wasn’t. She totally wasn’t, and she totally never would be, and she was totally fine with that.

Totally.

“Ready for the big game?” she asked Moose, trying to force her mind to focus on something other than what she totally couldn’t have. “Going to do some stretches beforehand?”

Moose let out a belly laugh. “All I have to do is stay on a damn donkey and try to throw an orange ball through a big metal hoop. I don’t think I need to do any stretches to warm up for this.”

“Good point. I was just thinking about not placing an illegal bet on the game, but before I chose which side to absolutely not bet on, I was wondering – is the basketball coach on the teacher’s team? Or is she skipping out tonight?” The high school basketball coach was five months pregnant, and didn’t always have the energy needed to keep up with the teens, let alone do anything extra. Georgia wouldn’t blame her for passing on the fundraiser.

“She’s at home; I guess she had some pretty bad morning sickness all day today. Does that change your nonexistent bet?”