Last Chance Hero
by Hope Ramsay
Ross Gardiner has had his fill of difficult relationships. Returning to Last Chance after a rough divorce, the town's handsome new fire chief just wants safety and stability-a tall order given his dangerous job and the way he has the attention of all the single women in town. All except Sabina Grey, the girl who stole his heart when they were teenagers.
Sabina knows a lot about playing it safe. Always the good girl, she's now responsible for her antiques store and caring for her sister. But having Ross in town brings back the memory of one carefree summer night when she threw caution to the wind-and almost destroyed her family. Now that they are both older and wiser, will the spark still be there, even though they've both been burned?
Not to mention that it exposed her shoulders, which had freckles on them. As usual, Sabina had pulled her hair back into a ponytail. And as usual, wisps of hair had escaped around her face. He wanted to cross the room, pull that damn rubber band out of her hair, and bury his hands and his nose in all those amazing curls.
Oh yeah, and his hands itched to touch her breasts through that silky fabric. Which is why he balled them into fists and jammed them into his pockets. Then he pretended that his feet were set into concrete.
A man could get hurt by lust like this.
And that didn’t even count the damage his feelings for Sabina might do to Lucy or Henrietta or even the folks in Last Chance who were all invested in him marrying Lucy.
He didn’t want to feel this way.
Lust like this was just crazy. It made a man do stupid things, and he had been there and done that. He much preferred the cool, calm feeling he had for Lucy and her lists.
Sabina stood there staring at him for a moment, her lips soft and parted. The afternoon sun coming through the dusty window, lit up her hair. Her voice sounded squeaky when she started talking, and she stammered, which was not like her at all.
“Uh . . . I . . . Uh. I got a call from Bubba Lockheart. I gather y’all moved the trunk down from the attic?”
“Oh, yeah, you came for the trunk.” He had the twin sensations of being relieved and disappointed all at the same time.
“It’s in the living room. Let me get the hand truck.” He hurried out onto the back porch and snagged the dolly and wheeled it into the living room.
Sabina was waiting for him.
“So, did you search through it? What else is inside?” She tilted her head, and for an instant, she resembled a little kid on Christmas morning, so excited to be unwrapping a present.
“Uh, no. We were kind of busy today.” He kept his words sharp and short. He shoved the dolly under the trunk and tilted it back. Then he wheeled it all the way out to the porch and down a make-shift ramp that had been set up over the front steps. Sabina followed him and opened the tailgate of her van.
“Can you lift it yourself or do you need help?” she asked.
“I can do it.” He wanted her to leave. Fast. But the trunk was awkward and he almost tilted it sideways when he tried to lift it. Before he could stop her, Sabina bent down and grabbed one of the handles and helped.
Together they got it up into the van. But in the process they ended up side by side and their shoulders touched.
He’d never been burned by a fire. He was practically religious about keeping his gear in topnotch form. But that touch scalded him. It would have been normal to jump back from all that heat. After all, he’d been trained to know the danger of uncontrolled fires.
But his training went right out the window, along with his common sense. Instead of running like hell, he turned toward her. She looked up at him, the fire dancing in her eyes. Oh, man, this was so wrong.
And so right.
“Ross,” she whispered, her voice so damn sultry.
His mind told him to stop. But his heart had a completely different idea. His heart had been waiting decades to kiss Sabina Grey. And there she was, right in reach, and her mouth looked so ready to be kissed that he couldn’t help himself.
He leaned down and pressed his mouth to her lips, and even though this wasn’t exactly the hands-on, bodies-pressed-together, hot and heavy kiss he’d once fantasized about, the heat of the moment still swept through him.
He wanted to pull her close. He wanted to explore her mouth a little deeper. He wanted to do a lot more than dance with her.
But Sabina pushed back.
“We can’t do this.” Her look was stunningly sober.
“Right,” he said on a deep exhalation. “Right.” He repeated the word because his mind had sort of checked out for a moment. “I’m sorry.”
She didn’t accept his apology. She just gave him one of those female looks that were so hard to decipher. This one was pretty bad ass.
And then she backed away, ran to the driver’s side of the van, and took off, sending the gravel on the driveway flying.
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