Home > Ignite My Heart (Sparks in Juniper #1)

Ignite My Heart (Sparks in Juniper #1)
Author: Loni Ree

Chapter 1

 

 

Trace

 

 

“Oh, Mr. Mayor, Mr. I Bought the Biggest House in Juniper Glenn and Everyone Thinks I’m A God.” As my brother sings through the station, I look up at the ceiling and wonder why I never suffocated Rory in the middle of the night years ago. “You get to go and handle the d-e-l-i-c-a-t-e situation between the Jacobs and their new smoking hot neighbor.”

Rory sticks his head around my door and wiggles his eyebrows. Logan and Adam are standing behind my asshole brother, holding in their laughter, so I act like the only adult in the firehouse and remind the stupid shit, “I’m not the mayor. I’m your captain and the fucking head of the Homeowner’s Association.” Some days, I wish I’d moved far away from our small hometown after graduating from college, and from the looks on these three idiots faces, today is going to be one of those days. “Don’t fuck around. Just tell me what happened.”

The three of them almost trip over each other in an effort to get into my office. Martha, our dispatcher, walks by, and the glee on her round face tells me she already knows the whole story. I’m sure the town grapevine is hard at work. Mrs. Jacobs is the eyes and ears of Juniper, Colorado. As the saying goes, “Telegraph, telephone, tell-a-Louise.” Louise is Louise Jacobs, and she’s faster than any internet speed known to man.

“Look, I’ve had a shit day. Mrs. Webster’s cat got stuck on her neighbor’s treehouse roof and sang the song of his people for two hours until we rescued him. He didn’t appreciate my rescue efforts, and I’m sporting an armful of scratches and a couple of splinters that need removing.” I pull up my sleeve and show them the angry red welts running down my arm. “At this point, I want to get the rest of my twenty-four-hour shift over so I can go home, have a beer, and sit by the pool. So, just fucking tell me what situation I need to handle and get the fuck out of here.” The headache behind my eyes is becoming a full-blown migraine, and I’m warning the three assholes before they piss me off anymore.

Rory realizes I’m not in the mood for fun and games and sighs. “This is funny, no matter how you spin it.” He shrugs and holds his hands up in surrender when a growl rumbles from my chest. “Damn, you are in a shit mood. Okay, well, you know the grapevine has been buzzing with the news that a hot young thing moved in behind the Jacobs. Today, she decided to sunbathe out on her back deck and caused a major problem.”

That’s it. Surely, there’s more to the story. I look between the two sitting in front of my desk and Adam standing behind them, and they all look like they’re about to burst into laughter. Knowing I’m going to regret it, I ask, “What fucking problem?”

“Mr. Jacobs whacked his wood until his heart gave out,” Martha answers from the doorway, and all four of us turn to stare at her.

As the trio erupts in laughter, I run my hand down my face. “Please fucking tell me this is some sort of joke you assholes are playing on me.”

Logan, the most mature of the three, finally speaks up, “Nope. Boss, we’re telling the truth for once. While Mr. Jacobs hid in the attic and spied on his hot neighbor, he jacked-off until the old ticker shot craps. Luckily, Rory and Adam were able to get him going again before the helicopter landed. He’s on his way to Swedish Medical Center, and Mrs. Jacobs is damning their new neighbor to fire and brimstone for the incident.”

Looking around the room, I wonder out loud, “And what the hell am I supposed to do?”

Logan shrugs. “Jude Kenney stopped us. He asked if you’d have a talk with your new neighbor and ask her to cover up a little more when sunbathing.” Why the hell does this shit fall onto my shoulders? Jude lives two doors down from the woman. He could stop by and talk to her himself.

Knowing I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t act, I decide to deal with the situation now. After looking at my watch, I figure I’ll run by there and then grab dinner on my way back to the station. “Get out of here so I can take care of this mess. I’ll get China Garden on my way back.” I glare a the trying trio then follow them out the door.

“Get me an extra Crab Rangoon. Oh, and I want an update on how hot she really is,” my dumbass brother calls as they walk toward the day room.

Without answering the asshole, I walk by Martha’s desk and let her know, “Don’t spread any of this until I figure out what the hell is going on.” As she smiles and gives me a thumbs-up, I realize there’s very little chance Martha is going to listen to a word I’ve said. This story is going to keep on moving right through Juniper’s grapevine.

 

 

Our new neighbor has put a ton of work into the house. The previous owners got transferred to the east coast last summer, and then the home sat vacant for close to a year before she moved into it a few weeks ago. Someone has power-washed the tan brick and white siding front of the two-story home. There are new rose bushes in front of the windows and flower beds around the trees. The sidewalk is now lined with neat rows of purple flowers, and the trees have little flowerbeds surrounding their bases.

After walking up the brick steps, I take a deep breath and rub the back of my neck while trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to say to this woman. I ring the doorbell and wait and wait. I’m about to give up and leave when the door opens, and I nearly swallow my tongue. No wonder old man Jacobs had a heart attack. The sight of this girl makes me forget my reason for coming to her house. She’s short and perfectly curvy, with wavy, deep brown hair. There’s a pink flush covering her heart-shaped face, and I’m not sure if it’s from the earlier sun exposure or if I’m making her blush with my open staring.

Her cornflower-blue eyes widen for a second before she finally asks, “Hello, is there a problem?”

What in the hell is happening to me? I’ve never felt anything like this in all my life. There is a problem—a huge fucking problem. I want to grab her shoulders and give a little shake as I roar, “You just changed my entire life and left me reeling.” But she’d think I’ve lost my mind. I don’t want my soon-to-be wife and the future mother of my children thinking I’m crazy on the first day we meet. I’ll let her figure out my little idiosyncrasies along the way. Hell, these quirks just showed up when she opened the door, so we’ll learn them together.

Pulling myself together, I look up from the silky, short pink robe that barely covers her and hold out my hand. “I’m Trace Remington, and I live on Reardon Heights Circle. Would you mind if I come in and speak with you?” As she looks up and smiles shyly at me, I’m impressed at how normal my voice sounds. You’d never know my world is completely off its axis right this minute.

“I’m Paige Reilly. Please, come in.” She holds her door open after shaking my hand, and I’m still recovering from the electrical current shooting through my body. It takes me a second to realize she’s stepped back and is waiting on me. Looking up, I notice one side of the silky robe has slipped halfway down her shoulder, and a groan almost slips out of my mouth. As I follow behind Paige, I force myself to ignore her perfect body and instead look around the home.

“Please, have a seat.” She points at the leather sofa, and I force a smile past my clenched jaw and sit across from her. When she sits, the slit on her robe separates, and sweat begins to pour down my back. “So, Trace, you said you needed to speak with me?”

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