Page 7 of Burned (Ignite #1)

I glance up at the stars when he yells her name and send up a silent prayer that the poor guy doesn’t get punched in the face. Seventeen years since we’ve been out of high school and D.J. still has the mentality of a teenager when it comes to women. He’s been a loyal friend through the years though and when I told him after graduation that I was following my life-long dream of becoming a fireman, he shrugged his shoulders and said “Alright. Sounds like a plan. When do we leave?”

We went into the fire academy together and always made sure we were assigned to the same firehouses, even when it meant transferring out of state after the one we worked for shut down seven years ago due to budget cuts. When D.J. decided he wanted to advance his career a few years ago by becoming a paramedic, I helped him study and made sure the new addition to his profession was utilized wherever we worked. Since both of our families still live in the same houses we grew up in, when a Captain’s spot opened up the next city over from them, I came home and D.J. followed right behind me.

When D.J. suggested we go up to Slammers for a drink, it took a lot of cajoling from him to get me to agree. Slammers was our favorite bar when we were younger. We spent every weekend here hanging out with old friends and I spent most of that time staring at the front door waiting for her to walk in. After too many years spent thinking about the one that got away, D.J. finally put his foot down and told me I was being an idiot. What kind of guy still holds a torch for a girl he dated in high school? Someone he hasn’t seen or talked to in over seventeen years? I put her out of my mind once and for all when I left town.

The next shout from D.J. has me choking on a sip of beer from the new bottle the waitress just set down in front of me.

“Damn, and Finnley Morgan too? It’s our lucky night, Collin!”

Hearing her name makes me feel lightheaded and I wonder for a minute if someone slipped something into my beer. I turn around slowly, thinking that it’s possible D.J. made a mistake. What are the odds that she’s here tonight, my first weekend back in town?

My eyes zero in on her immediately. It’s hard not to when she’s still the hottest girl in the room even after all this time. I look down and find the sexiest pair of f**k-me shoes I’ve ever seen and I let my gaze slide up her long, toned legs, past hips and a rack she didn’t have at seventeen and finally rest on a face that causes all conscious thought to leave my head. I’d almost forgotten just how beautiful she is. Her full lips are covered in red lipstick and I have a sudden flashback of them wrapped around my dick when we were teenagers. I watch as her brown eyes widen when our eyes meet and a little bit of masculine pride flows through me that she recognizes me. I was a gangly, skinny teenager the last time we were in the same room together. I’m not the kind of guy to pat myself on the back, but regular workouts and carrying a hose that weighs 110 pounds up twenty flights of stairs during drills, along with carrying actual human beings up and down multiple flights of stairs during calls means I’m in pretty good shape.

My legs move automatically and I head in her direction. I can’t take my eyes off of her as I get closer and closer. I always wondered what I would say to her if I ever saw her again. ‘I’m sorry for being a dick in high school’ never seemed good enough. I stop right in front of her and her perfume tickles my nose and makes my dick swell in my jeans. It’s the same scent she wore all those years ago: a little sweet, a little spicy and just enough that it doesn’t make your eyes water, but leaves a lingering reminder of her presence in the air long after she’s gone.

I would never admit it to anyone, especially D.J. because he never lets shit go and would have too good a time making fun of me, but I’ve kept tabs on her over the years. Nothing creepy or stalkerish and really, the only reason I know anything about her life since high school is because of my mom. In a small town, it’s pretty easy to learn things about the people living in it and my mom is the queen of small town gossip. I knew Finnley stayed close to home for college and graduated with a Bachelors in business, working as a marketing manager since she got her degree. I knew she married that f**ker Jordan Castillo, who swooped in like a buzzard right after we broke up, and I knew they still lived in the area. I was always surprised she never went to art school like we used to talk about.

I know it’s wrong to be having impure thoughts about a married woman, but I can’t bring myself to give a f**k. She was my girl first. We have a history and, even though it was another lifetime ago, there are some things you just don’t forget or get over. Finnley Morgan-Castillo is the one thing I’ve never forgot.

Or gotten over.

“Lee.”

I whisper the nickname I called her when we were together and I watch her smile widen and light up her face.

“Fuck, you look amazing,” I tell her honestly as I make another blatant perusal of her body. Her hand comes up and she tugs lightly on her earlobe and I can’t help but smile. She used to do that when she was nervous. Something about the fact that I still make her nervous makes me bold enough to lean down and brush my lips against her cheek.

I slide my hand not holding the bottle of beer around her hip and let it rest on her lower back, keeping my cheek pressed against hers as I speak softly in her ear. “It’s really good to see you, Lee.”

I hear her exhale a shaky breath when I move away and let my hand fall from her back before I do something stupid, like grab her ass and kiss her square on the mouth just to see if her lips still taste like the bubblegum lip-gloss she used to wear. For all I know, that dick bag husband of hers is waiting around the corner to interrupt this little reunion and pour a cold bucket of water all over the erection I sprung the moment I heard her name.

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