The temps are rising in Chicago, where a band of sexy, hose-slingin’ (no pun intended) Firefighting Dempseys are making their mark! In Flirting with Fire, book one in Kate Meader’s all-new Hot in Chicago series, Luke Dempsey runs into some trouble after an ill-advised bar fight. And who better to rescue him than the mayor’s own personal PR assistant? Keep reading for an exclusive piece by Kate herself and an excerpt from the book, and don’t forget to pick up or download your copy today!
What is it about firefighters—and firefighter romance—that gets our hearts pumping, our skin buzzing, and our… well, you know! Let’s start with the uniform: I challenge you to resist a guy in uniform. Then there’s the idea that these guys are like people you know in your town, in your neighborhood, on your block. We can so relate. But mostly, I’d say it’s the “running into buildings when everyone else is running out” thing. This alone is guaranteed to make us swoon. Add in a kitten, and you’re lucky if you can find the strength to pour a glass of wine 🙂
Now how about we take a bunch of these every day heroes and make them family? But not just any old family. The firefighters in my brand new sizzling series, Hot in Chicago, are foster siblings, raised and molded by Sean Dempsey, their late firefighter foster father. Four guys and a gal—Wyatt, Luke, Beck, Gage, and Alexandra—they live by the lessons Sean taught them: fire is stronger than blood and defend the people you love until the dying embers. For the Dempseys working at Engine Co. 6, the oldest firehouse in Chicago, the bonds of brotherhood and fire are stronger than all else, and it’s going to take kick ass love interests to bring them to their knees.
The first book in the series, FLIRTING WITH FIRE, finds Luke Almeida, leader of the Dempseys and all-around hothead locking horns with the ice-cool publicist sent in to clean up his act—and when fire meets ice, there’s guaranteed to be plenty of steam. More than just a hotbed for sizzling romance, the Hot in Chicago world has meddling family, hunky firefighters, lasting friendships, and a kitten or two to keep things interesting! So pour that wine, get out your fans, and lose yourself in the lives of this no-holds barred family and their sexy adventures.
“You must be lost, sweetheart.”
A low rumble spiked every fine hair on the back of her neck to attention. On four-inch heels Kinsey pivoted and encountered a plume of steam, which, like a magician’s cloud, dissipated to reveal a half-naked man.
The clearing mist had the opposite effect on her rapidly fogging brain. Bye-bye Tall ’n’ Dark; this brute streak of male had that guy beat in the masculinity stakes six ways from Sunday.
Across his broad chest, the slogan of the U.S. Marine Corps, Semper Fidelis, formed a rolling script that joined forces with the tattooed cuffs on his biceps, the letters of which she couldn’t quite make out without staring.
And she wanted to stare because this just got better.
On lean hips, a towel draped threateningly low, highlighting cut indents on either side of his abs. Was there anything hotter than that V shape? As if the killer bod wasn’t enough, he had eyes so fiercely blue she wondered if they were natural. Surely those things had come out of a lab.
Then again, the whole picture was one of a genetically engineered firefighting machine. Or fighting machine, considering his fondness for hitting first and to hell with the consequences.
He rubbed a towel through damp hair, returning life to mink-brown waves that framed strong cheekbones and more jaw than was strictly necessary. The movement showcased the tattoo on his right bicep: Logan, combined with the intertwined letters of the CFD. She would bet the two-carat engagement ring she had hurled in her ex-fiancé’s face that the ink on his left arm spelled Sean, the name of Luke Almeida’s foster father. A renowned fireman who had been awarded every medal in the book, Sean Dempsey made the greatest sacrifice during a high-rise fire eight years ago. Logan, the oldest brother, had also died during the blaze.
A smudgy ocher bruise around Almeida’s left eye webbed out to his upper cheek. No need to inquire how he came by that. It was why she was here.
Snapping back to the reality of her mission, Kinsey held his now-curious gaze. “What did you say?”
“I think you’re a little lost.” He enunciated each word as if she was some sort of dimwit who had never seen a man’s naked chest before. “Tours of the firehouse are every other Wednesday.”
“I’m not here for a tour of the firehouse.”
He streaked the towel he’d been using to dry his hair across chiseled pectoral muscles, then a meaty swatch of scar tissue covering his right shoulder.
“Okay,” he said, parting his lips to reveal straight, white teeth and a gorgeous smile. So the city dental plan was a winner. “Other types of tours can be arranged. How does tomorrow night sound?”
“Well, I just got off my shift and I have forty-eight hours free ahead of me. Usually I sleep the first twelve, but if you need me sooner, sweetheart, I suppose I can rework my schedule.”
Kinsey didn’t hold much truck with cocky. Or with men who called women they had never met “sweetheart.” Luke Almeida seemed to be under the mistaken impression that . . . Did he actually think she had crawled into this stink pit to get a date?
“You haven’t returned any of my messages. I called three times—”
Tall ’n’ Dark snorted. “Shit, Luke, they’re chasin’ you down now.”
“Who’s chasing Luke down?”
Another man had entered, wearing board shorts and a ripped CFD shirt, through which his extremely defined muscles played peekaboo. Tall and blond, with a fresh-faced Thor vibe, he looked like he’d stopped off at Engine 6 while on a break from his modeling gig for GQ. Truly, she must have missed the entrance to the hot-man laboratory on her way in.
“Luke’s takin’ a leaf from your book,” Tall ’n’ Dark said to Baby Thor. “As if we don’t already have enough of that with your castoffs showing up every other week looking to clean your hose.”
Baby Thor grinned, a little lopsided, a lot sexy. “Can I help it if I’ve broken half the hearts in Boystown?”
Boystown. Chicago’s gay neighborhood, which confirmed that Baby Thor played for the other team. The gorgeous ones always did, though in all honesty, it looked like there was gorgeous to spare. The other two members of the triple threat were still taking up all the space and sucking up all the oxygen.
Almeida stared at her, the cogs of his Neanderthal brain clearly working overtime as he tried to piece together when and where they had met, and exactly how much trouble he was in because the memory refused to take shape.
She decided to help him along.
“So you didn’t get my calls?”
He lifted a broad shoulder. “Sure I did, but I’ve been busy. Puttin’ out fires.”
More like busy leading a fistfight that had turned him and his firefighter brothers into YouTube sensations and prompted the mayor to action. Now it was Kinsey’s job as the mayor’s assistant press secretary to create solutions to a media nightmare. Almeida wasn’t even supposed to be on duty. He had been placed on presuspension administrative leave, but when he hadn’t shown up for a meeting with Media Affairs at city hall, she had called the number she had on file for him and left a message. And another. And another.
“Ignoring phone calls is incredibly rude.”
“Yeah, bro,” Baby Thor said. “You were brought up better than that.” He offered his hand. “I’m Gage. The handsome, sexy, interesting, and well-mannered one.”
Kinsey shook, enjoying the firm grip. According to his file, at twenty-four, Gage Simpson was the youngest of the Dempseys, a family of foster siblings who had all followed their late foster father into the service.
“And this is Wyatt.” Gage jerked his strong chin at Tall ’n’ Dark. “He usually only opens his mouth to criticize.”
Wyatt Fox, oldest of the brood at thirty-three, threaded burly arms over his chest and clamped his mouth shut. Kinsey supposed she should be grateful.
There was also another brother, Beck, and a sister, Alexandra, one of only 120 female firefighters in the CFD. None of the foster siblings bore the same last name or were related by blood, but their bond—the Dempsey bond—was strong enough to ensure they were all assigned to the same firehouse. It was unusual, but then so was the family.
“And you already know Luke,” Gage went on, amusement sparking his silver-gray eyes. “Though how well you know him is another story. Are we talking fluids exchanged or just phone numbers?”
Almeida eyed her with interest. This moron really thought they might have hooked up in the not-so-distant past, and that she had rushed down here at 7 a.m. on a Monday when he hadn’t made good on his sweetly worded promises to call.
At her pointed look, Luke spoke into the pause she had no intention of filling. “She knows me well enough to think she can walk into my firehouse and get results. Pretty ballsy, sweetheart.”
“Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, and after the other night . . .” She twisted the toe of her pump, as if she was terribly, terribly unsure of herself. Time to kick this up a notch. “I thought we had something special.”
Those electric blues widened as he moved into her personal space, and while she wasn’t a small woman, she felt curiously diminutive in Firefighter Almeida’s mountainous presence. Her former fiancé, David, had barely three inches on her. He hadn’t liked when she wore heels that made her taller than him.
Neither had he liked when her five-mile runs came in twenty seconds ahead of his, or she beat him like a dusty rug at racquetball, or goddamn it, had three orgasms to his one. Though usually she had to help herself along there.
Competitiveness isn’t terribly feminine, Kinsey.
No, honey, but it sure as hell beats losing.
Luke pinned her to the spot with that ocean-sparkly gaze. “So the other night when we were—”
“We had serious moves.”
“You certainly thought so. My toes are all bruised, but you made up for it later.”
His lips twitched.
“With your scintillating conversation,” she continued. “I had no idea firemen knew so much about The Bachelor.”
“Lots of downtime in between runs.” He rubbed his chin. “And then we had that discussion about . . . what was it again?”
She sighed her annoyance at having to remind him of the amazing conversational highs they had reached together. “The Cubs’s pitching roster. You were confident Arrieta could hold his form through the late season and I had worries about—”
“The rest of the bullpen.” His indolent gaze dropped to her mouth. “Or how deep it could go.”
“Yes,” she murmured, realizing a tad late that she might have waded in too far here. “You never really put me at ease about that.”
“Rest assured, sweetheart. It goes deep. Deep as you need it.”
Holy wow. She felt her stomach dip and roll at his provocative words.