Page 24 of Burned (Ignite #1)

“I’m pretty sure I don’t get the choice about whether or not I should move on. Her husband came home when I was there last week,” I tell D.J. as he holds the door open for me and we make our way to my office at the back of the first floor of the station.

D.J. whistles and shakes his head. “Damn, dude. Is she still married? I thought you said she was separated?”

When we get inside my office, I close the door behind us and take a seat at my desk while D.J. flops onto the folding chair in front of it.

“She told me she was separated. Hell, she f**king invited me over to her house for the sole purpose of having sex. I don’t know if it was some kind of game to her or what. I don’t have a f**king clue because she kicked me out.”

D.J. winces. “Ouch.”

“Yeah, right in front of that piece of shit Castillo. It was bad enough I walked in the room and he had his hands on her. I get him away from her, he calls her a bitch and a whore and I’m still the bad guy,” I complain angrily.

Shit. Even a week and a gallon of liquor later, I’m still just as pissed as I was when it happened.

“She’s had seventeen years with that guy. There’s a history there that you can’t erase even if you do have a bigger dick than that f**ker,” D.J. tells me with a laugh.

“I’m not an idiot, I get that. I didn’t expect to just waltz back into her life and obliterate everything she’s been through since I last saw her. Fuck, I didn’t expect to walk back into her life, period,” I tell him. “Even though I hate everything that dick she’s married to stands for, being with him made her who she is today and that’s not something I want to f**k with.”

I know it’s asinine and everything I’m thinking right now is crazy. We spent a few hours together for the first time in seventeen years and after a week without her I already felt like I was going insane.

A loud tone suddenly sounds through the station’s alarm system. A few seconds later, the crackle of the speakers wired to every room of the house cuts off the tone and we listen to the voice of dispatch.

“10-41, Code 1. Engine 10. 5182 Butternut Road. I repeat, 10-41, Code 1.”

D.J. and I share an annoyed look when we hear the address.

“Sounds like old man Wilcox fell asleep in his barn again with a lit cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of homemade moonshine in his hand,” D.J. laughs with a shake of his head as he gets up from his chair.

“That dumbass is going to burn the entire county down one of these days. That’s the third call this month.”

I start to get up from my chair when D.J. holds up his hand. “Sit your ass back down, I can handle this one. You’ve got that meeting with the new fire chief in an hour to give him a tour of this place. You don’t want to piss him off by not being here.”

Staying seated, I watch as D.J. hustles out of the room and starts shouting orders to the rest of the men. A few minutes later, the rumble of the diesel engines along with their sirens fill my ears, fading in the distance as they head out to Wilcox Farms, where they’ll most likely drag a drunk Mr. Wilcox out of his barn and put out the bale of hay he accidentally set on fire.

I try to keep my mind occupied with the pile of evaluation paperwork on my desk, but after ten minutes, I realize nothing is going to take my mind off of Finnley, especially since I’m currently staring at a stack of phone messages with her name scrawled across the top. She’s called the station at least ten times since last Monday and I’ve refused her call each time. I’ve never been a coward, but I can’t stand the thought of calling her back and listening to her tell me what happened between us was a mistake.

Resting my elbows on top of my desk, I run my palms over my face and hold my head in my hands. I’m sitting here like an ass**le thinking about a woman who might be, at this very minute, doing everything in her power to make up with her husband and apologize for her affair.

Goddammit, I hate that word. Affair, fling, quick f**k… no matter how I twist the words, they all mean the same thing—a moment in time where a lapse in judgment causes a lifetime of regret. No matter how angry I am that she dismissed me so easily, I will never regret it. I will never regret touching her body, making her come so hard she screamed or finally sating the need I’ve always had for her.

Too bad all I did by screwing her was royally screw myself in the process. Once wasn’t enough. Twice wasn’t sufficient. Every day until I die wouldn’t stop the burn. All I did by taking what I’ve always wanted is light a match to the pile of kindling and make it explode. Now I’m stuck here with nothing but memories to keep me warm while she lives the rest of her life with someone else. Spending the last seventeen years constantly thinking about her was bad enough. Having to go another seventeen now that I’ve been inside her will be damn near impossible.

“Yo, Captain, there’s someone here to see you.”

Pulling my head away from my hands, I see Martinez standing in the doorway.

“Go ahead and take him upstairs to the weight room. Might as well start the tour with the new treadmills we just got in,” I tell him, grabbing the phone messages and crumpling them into a ball.

“But it’s-”

“The weight room, Martinez,” I cut him off.

“I don’t think you-”

“Jesus Christ, just take him to the weight room!” I argue, glaring at the rookie.

The poor guy runs from the room like his ass is on fire and I toss the crumpled phone messages into the trashcan next to my desk. I’ll apologize to him later. Fuck, I’ll have to apologize to the entire house for my short fuse the past week.