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Forged

MISSOULA SMOKEJUMPERS : Book Three

By: Piper Stone
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: ©2017 by Blushing Books® and Piper Stone All rights reserved.
Fourteen Chapters / 89,000 Words
Heat Level:
4.8 Out Of 5 (4.8 on 10)   |  Write a review
Price:
$3.99

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I’m considered a hero but I remain in the background, fighting horrific fires. I’m consumed by self-doubt, the paralyzing fear ravages my dreams, desires forged in my heart.

I long to share my passion, my dominating hunger, with a special someone. But how could anyone love a damaged soul?

Then she walked into my life…

The Jackals

An elite core of smokejumpers nestled in the heart of Missoula, Montana.

By day they indulge in their penchant for danger.

By night they exude passion.

Are you ready for their brand of domination?

Prevent. Protect. Preserve. This is their motto.

Publisher’s Note: This adult, action adventure romance offers suspense, danger, mystery, explicit scenes and power exchange elements. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.

*** Currently available exclusively at Amazon ***

Chapter One

Reburn: A fire that is declared out, then later rekindles

Spot Fire: A fire started outside the main fire areas by flying sparks or embers.

Zulies: Missoula Smokejumpers

Shadows. They call to me, their dark and ominous forms, swirling in a cloud of confusion. I’m lost in the haunted swarm. Fire. Dangerous but attractive, always hungry, always feeding. Looking into the belly of the beast, I’ve seen myself. And I’m terrified at the reasons…

Garcia Puevos inhaled the frigid air, enjoying the early morning ride, the way his heart raced, his blood pumping through his veins. He glanced up at the mountains, majestic as their tips seemed absorbed by the swirling clouds. Gripping the reins, he wrapped his fingers around the thick leather, the slight hint of pain invigorating, a reminder that he was very much alive.

“Damn, you’re on fire today,” Stoker called as he trotted close behind.

You have no idea. “Get your ass in gear!” Garcia yelled over his shoulder as he hunkered over the horse and took off down the twisting path. “Come on, girl. Let’s show our friend what we can do.” He kept his knees against Beauty’s sides, allowing her full control as they maneuvered around the curve, coming dangerously close to the rocky precipice. He laughed as the wind whipped through her mane. He rounded another curve, cognizant of the rocks tumbling off the edge, falling several hundred feet. This was dead man’s curve, but he knew the terrain well, having spent hours riding Beauty at full speed. Just because he needed to soothe his raging beasts dwelling within.

“Jesus Christ. You’re going to kill yourself!”

Garcia grinned hearing Stoker’s exclamation. Stoker Hansen was his best friend, fellow smokejumper and the only man who knew him – at least to a point. “Thought you were a smokejumper. Fearless.” Issuing clicking sounds, Beauty responded, going at full speed as they galloped into a small clearing. Trees overhung the entire area, blanketing out the sun’s rays. The shadowed light was comforting.

“Yeah, but not stupid.” Stoker caught him, tossing him a sideways glance before slapping his heel against his horse’s side. The black stallion took off, moving a full three lengths in front of Garcia.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” Garcia followed suit, leaning further over as Beauty took the lead, commanding the path, kicking up dust with her hooves. Inhaling, the crisp morning air filled his lungs. He was alive and on fire, ready to take on the world. Rounding a corner, he loped along the edge of the river, allowing Stoker to catch up. A hint of sun slipped past the foliage, forcing him to squint. He sat upright as he continued to slow the ride. Beauty snorted as she eased down, now trotting as she’d been trained.

Stoker flanked his side and patted his horse. “What a ride. It’s been awhile.”

“Yeah, I can tell. That woman of yours needs to let you get out more often.”

“Watch that mouth of yours, buddy of mine.”

“What an incredible day.” Garcia was jealous of Stoker’s relationship with the beautiful Jessica Dunn, although he’d never tell his friend anything of the sort. Stoker deserved the happiness he’d found. He held his breath, wondering if he’d ever find a woman he’d care to spend more than a few hours with.

Chuckling, he trotted alongside as both men gazed out at the water. “Yeah, but something’s been on your mind lately.”

“Why do you say that?” Garcia had insisted on the ride, dragging Stoker out of a warm bed and away from a roaring fire.

“Let’s see. It’s just after eight on a Saturday morning and I haven’t seen you ride in almost a year.”

He shrugged and leaned back, stretching his back. “Beauty and I’ve been out a lot lately. Riding keeps me focused.”

“You sound like a man on a mission,” Stoker teased.

“Something like that.” Garcia stopped the horse as they neared the shoreline. Water lapped across the rocks, creating miniature waves. The entire mountain range was blanketed in fresh snow, the peaks dipping into a bank of clouds. He’d spent more time riding over the last few months and perhaps he was on a self-imposed mission – figuring out what in the hell he was doing with his life. They remained quiet, both men lost in their own thoughts. “I have to ask you a question.”

“Shoot.”

“Why did you become a smokejumper?”

“You know why,” Stoker answered, a lilt in his voice. “Hell, you were right there with me the last time I signed up.” When Garcia didn’t respond, he continued. “Okay. If you’re serious. To save lives.”

“That’s a product of our jobs, but that’s not the reason your soul required you to become a smokejumper.”

“Required? Wow. You’re getting all philosophical on me. What’s going on?”

Garcia kept his gaze pointed at the sky. “Nothing. Just thinking about things.” He’d been doing nothing but thinking over the last few months. Few aspects regarding his life seemed to make any sense at this point.

“Uh-huh.” Stoker shifted on the horse. “Well, there were different reasons I joined each time.”

“Important reasons.”

“I like to think so. As a kid, I honestly always wanted to fight fires, even though my father wasn’t thrilled. Then a few years ago I had a chance to save a couple of dogs. They were in the river, swimming with their family. I heard a cry, a call for help. The river was raging, moving toward a waterfall and the drop would have killed them. So, I dove in. When I managed to save the two pups, something in me changed, shifting into a different level. I just knew in my gut that this was exactly what I was supposed to do. I never looked back after that.”

“Until the war.” Garcia could see his best friend’s grip tighten, could sense the discomfort. He knew the basics regarding the time spent as a prisoner of war, but they never really talked about anything personal. They were good time friends, sharing laughter at the bar or discussions about women. He’d been the one to introduce Stoker to a domestic discipline lifestyle, sharing his experience with the Burnout group, smokejumpers who preferred an old-fashioned relationship, using discipline as a means of keeping the peace. He sniffed to keep from laughing. What in God’s name did he know about any kind of relationship? He was nothing but a faker.

Stoker breathed out. “War changes a man. Doesn’t matter what branch of service or what occurred, every aspect is demanding. When the time spent is horrific, then you can no longer look at life the same way. I was a different man when I came back. You know damn good and well I almost lost myself in grief and self-pity.”

“I know. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more. I didn’t know what to do.” He wasn’t even certain he knew how to be a good friend.

An awkward silence settled in.

“Well, you were the one who bugged the shit out of me until I did rejoin. Remember, old buddy of mine?” This time, Stoker chuckled, yet his face remained pensive.

“Someone had to get that stick out of your ass.” Beauty snorted and they both laughed. “Even my horse knows you.”

“Yeah, at least a few people get me. Fighting fires helps control the anger. Saving lives is very important to me.”

“But Jessica saved you from your demons.” Out of the corner of his eyes, Garcia could see Stoker’s head turn slowly, his eyes narrowing and his lips pursing. He’d crossed the line.

“Yeah, she did. Maybe she even saved me from myself.”

The words were haunting, a reminder that Garcia had forgotten about the true meaning of life, not that he ever really understood. For him, time seemed to be running out.

“You seemed to want to become a smokejumper more than anything in the world. So, all’s fair. Why?”

Garcia knew the question was coming, but in truth, he had no decent answer. The very concept had been nagging at him for months. “That, my friend, is for another time. We have riding to do. The path heads down the mountain and the river becomes shallow so we can cross there. Then, there’s this gorgeous field that goes on for miles. I’ll race you there.”

Stoker grinned. “You’re on!”

Giving his friend a head start, he leaned over, whispering into Beauty’s ear. “You know the way.”

She reared back and whinnied before taking off, her long legs stretching out as she raced down the narrow path. Garcia held on, his body rocking back and forth to match her stride. He whistled as he surpassed Stoker, now at least three lengths ahead. Beauty huffed but remained in her element, merely allowing Garcia to guide her.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” Stoker called, as he struggled to keep up.

This was Garcia’s territory, every inch of the land known, every tree and rock formation. He held his breath as they neared the end of the swath of gravel then proceeded to ride out into the open field. Wind whipped around him, stinging his eyes but he pushed harder. They raced into a path of trees, Beauty jumping over every fallen limb, every patch of dense underbrush.

Stoker was now only two lengths back, his riding skills equally matched to Garcia’s. Then the two men were racing head to head, both laughing as they broke out into another grassy area. He fell behind, an intense hiss coming from his throat.

Garcia looked back, expecting Stoker to bolt ahead. When he saw the look of terror in the man’s eyes, he swung around. “Shit!” He slowed as he studied the swirling smoke, puffs of white mixing with gray. Then he noticed flames shooting up above the tree line. “I know this place. A rancher. He has livestock and lives alone. We have to help him.”

“We’re not equipped.”

“But we can get him out.” He heard the imploring tone of his voice.

Nodding, Stoker lowered his body then pressed his heels against his horse.

He did the same, racing toward the intense fire. When they reached the dilapidated fence surrounding the property, he jumped off, tying Beauty’s reins and jerked out his phone.

“Jesus Christ. The damn blaze is moving fast.”

“I’m calling 911. Then we have to get everyone out.” From where he stood, Garcia could see both the barn and the house were on fire. Horses were whinnying, the sound of their terrified cries echoing.

“Make the call. I’m going in,” Stoker called as he tied his horse then jumped the fence, running toward the burning structures.

“I’d like to report a house and barn fire. The old Hatcher place near Blackfoot River.” Garcia climbed over the fence, his adrenaline kicking in. “No, I don’t know the address. Near Whitewater Road. That’s all I can tell you. Hurry!” He shoved his phone into his pocket and took off, heading straight for the house. The front door was open, and he raced inside. “Stoker!” Black swirls of smoke rushed out from various rooms. He could see flames licking up the wall in the kitchen, crossing over the ceiling, the blueish color intensifying with each passing second. Choked by the intense smoke, he grabbed a kitchen towel, shoving it across his mouth and nose.

“I’ve got him!” Stoker called, the sound muffled.

He zigzagged his way into the living room, making it just inside the doorway before the ceiling caved in.

Stoker backed out of another room, dragging an older man as a puff of flames volleyed out of the door. “Fuck!”

He dropped the towel and sprinted over furniture, keeping low to the ground. “We have to get him out of here. The whole thing is going to go up in seconds.”

“Yeah, and there’s kerosene in the back room.”

“Fuck! Let’s go!” Grabbing the man’s legs, they carried him out onto the front lawn. “Easy.” They placed him on the grass and Garcia wiped his eyes. “Damn, that’s hot.” He checked on Mr. Hatcher’s vitals then his pulse.

“Is he breathing?” Stoker asked. Coughing, he jerked his head up, his eyes opening wide. “The livestock. We have to get to them.”

Crack! Boom!

A section of the house blew out, debris flying everywhere.

“Damn it!” Stoker huffed and covered the old man’s body with his.

“The fire is intense.” Garcia winced as he watched the flames consuming every inch of wood.

“Nothing else we can do.” He eased back, coughing and spitting.

“Smoke inhalation. I don’t see any burns. Help is on its way, Mr. Hatcher. Just stay here.” Garcia patted the old man on the chest and took off, Stoker following, both heading in the direction of the barn. A few cattle were hovering by the gate. Fumbling with the latch, he finally managed to work the ancient lock and swung open the enclosure. “Get out of here!” As he moved past them, he swatted a few on the rump until they started heading out into the open field.

Wham! Boom!

A section of the barn collapsed.

“Fuck!” Stoker darted just inside the barn then back out. “There’s four horses. They’re inside stalls. We won’t have much time before the entire roof collapses.”

“Come on. We can do this.” The heat intense, Garcia crouched down as he approached the first stall. The horse was going wild, kicking at the wooden plats. “Take it easy, baby girl.” After two attempts, he managed to get the rusty clasp unfastened and grabbed the horse’s mane. “Nice and slow. You can do this.” He walked her to the entrance before whistling and slapping her backside. The horse took off running.

“Christ. The flames are close!” Stoker hissed.

A second horse rushed by, galloping out into the open pen.

Whoosh! Boom!

The explosion rocked the barn, reverberating until several slats fell from the roof.

Garcia dodged as a burning timber headed straight for him. “Shit. We don’t have much time.” Sweat rolled down his face and back as the heat intensified, flames licking up the sides and back of the building. He took several deep breaths then headed for the stalls. His hands were slimy, wet with perspiration as he tried desperately to slide the bolt. “It’s stuck. Fuck!”

The horse whinnied and snorted, every sound full of raw terror. Kicking hard against the stall door, the black and white stallion managed to dislodge an entire portion.

“That’s it, boy. Do it again. Come on.” Garcia looked around him and prayed to some God above to get them out of here. The thick smoke had turned acrid, burning his eyes and nose. Unable to see anything more than a few inches in front of him, he felt along the ground, groping until he touched what felt like a metal bar.

“Garcia! We have to get out of here!”

“Not without this horse. Come on, boy. We can do this together.” The horse seemed to understand and kicked again, splintering a section of wood. “Okay. My turn.” Garcia smashed down on the lock over and over again until he heard a clicking sound then a rattling thud as the entire mechanism fell to the dirt floor. He felt along the top of the gate until he managed to open. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

“Garcia. Where are you?”

“Coming your way.”

Boom!

Another section of roof caved in just behind them. The horse took off, disoriented but heading in the right direction. “That’s it. You can do it!”

“Garcia!”

He followed Stoker’s voice, coughing, his airway almost fully constricted. He could just make out a section of light. Almost there. Almost. Flames darted out, only inches away. He could hear the creaking sound as the wood crumbled, trusses failing. Every step was difficult. You can do this. You can do this! Stumbling, he fell on his face but immediately got up and felt Stoker’s hand.

“I’ve got you, buddy. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Whoosh! Crack!

“Aahhh!”

***

“Miss. Cavanaugh. I have a flower that I picked myself!” The little voice was followed by a giggle.

Laney turned around, immediately crouching down. She gave an expression of glee as the seven-year-old held out a crushed weed of some kind, the little girl swirling the stem as she twisted from side to side. “My goodness, Megan. The flower is gorgeous! Thank you so much.” She accepted the wilted gift as if accepting a diamond ring, as if that was ever going to happen.

“You’re my favorite teacher.” Megan threw her arms around Laney’s neck, squeezing as only little girls could do.

This was the best part of her day, seeing the parents picking up their children, the wondrous eyes and the happy squeals, and not just from her students. “And you’re my favorite little reader. You did so well today. I’m proud of you.”

“You always know how to make her feel special,” the woman said as she reached out and touched Megan on the shoulder.

“Mrs. Walker. She’s doing much better,” Laney said as she tousled Megan’s hair before standing.

“Jenny, please. I’m so glad to hear it. Her father would be…” Jenny gave a faraway look, her smile fading.

Laney touched the mother’s arm. “Don’t worry. Jim will come back safe and sound.” At least three of her student’s fathers were away at war, the loneliness taking a toll on the families.

“You’re right. Of course, you are. Are you ready to go home, Megan? We’re going to bake chocolate chip cookies this afternoon.”

“Yay! Bye, Miss Cavanaugh.” Megan waved, her dimples showing off her doll like face.

“See you tomorrow.” Laney kept her voice as happy as possible, her smile practiced and full of love. Yeah, she could get teacher of the year. She stood back against the hallway wall, watching her class of thirty kids skipping and hopping out of the school. Exhaling, she rubbed her exhausted eyes and checked the time. At least she could go home without interruption today. There were no chores, no house cleaning. Then she remembered she needed a few grocery store items. “Ugh.”

“Are you okay, Miss Cavanaugh? Perhaps you need to take some aspirin and lie down when you get home.”

She chuckled and looked down at Jamie Bruester. The kid was going to turn into a doctor one day. His vocabulary was far superior to the rest of his class and no doubt the product of his single father, one of the top attorneys in town. Or so she’d been told. “I’m just dandy, sweet Jamie. Where’s your father today?”

“He had court this morning. A criminal mastermind that Daddy refuses to allow to get the better of the system.” Obviously satisfied with his adult comment, Jamie broke into a huge grin.

“I see. Your father has a very important job.”

“My daddy is the best daddy in the whole world.”

Laney was grateful that the little boy at least had kept some of his childhood glee, instead of turning into a full-fledged adult. Adults could be nothing but assholes.

“How’s my little man?”

Every time she heard Troy Bruester’s deep and husky voice, she became just a little bit lightheaded. Didn’t help the man was drop dead gorgeous either.

“Daddy! Mrs. Cavanaugh was worried about you and she certainly needs to concentrate on herself since she’s not feeling well,” Jamie said then nuzzled next to his father’s legs.

“You’re sick?” Troy asked, his expression filled with concern.

“No, just a touch of a headache,” she said then laughed. “I heard from your assistant here that you have some big crime case.”

Lifting a single eyebrow, Troy squeezed Jamie’s shoulders. “You weren’t supposed to be telling on me.”

“Just reporting the truth, sir.” Said in an over exaggerated fashion, Jamie pursed his lips as he nodded.

“Very grown up,” Laney added. She glanced into Troy’s eyes and could detect a hint of sadness. She knew very little about the man except from what Jamie had told her. The little boy had lost his mother two years before. Long enough, the child was starting to forget what she looked like or the sound of her voice. In her mind, that meant Troy had removed pictures and didn’t talk about her often.

“I know. Too grown up. I admit. I talk to him like he’s my best friend. Don’t I, little buddy?”

Jamie rolled his eyes. “Can we get some ice cream on the way home?”

“There’s my little boy. It’s freezing outside. You want ice cream now?” Troy laughed and glanced up and down the length of Laney.

She felt a flush of heat, more like embarrassment rushing up both sides of her face. She must look a mess after spending hours racing around several groups of children. Smoothing back her long hair, she kept her smile. Why the hell had she worn such dowdy clothes? A denim skirt, a shirt she’d purchased at a thrift store and sensible shoes. Oh yeah, she was a fashion statement all right.

“I got an ‘A’ today. You told me I could have a special treat, as long as I don’t go overboard.” Wrinkling his brow, Jamie shook his head.

“I think he deserves it. The spelling test was very difficult today. A couple of scoops of ice cream would be perfect.” Laney now wanted a hot bath and a tall glass of wine. Maybe her vibrator would get a work out tonight.

“You’re right. Ice cream can be a perfect treat for many occasions.” Troy’s voice managed to purr.

She blinked twice and held her breath. Was he flirting with her? No way. A man like Troy Bruester didn’t flirt with a woman like her. “You two have fun!”

“Thank you for everything. I do so appreciate it,” he said and gave her another once over.

Inhaling, the scent of his very exotic cologne forced her nipples into hard peaks. Her mouth dry, she was befuddled to find a snazzy answer. Slinking back into the classroom, she groaned and headed straight for her purse. You bet, she was purchasing a huge bottle of merlot. Maybe two. She and the glass could commiserate over her love life. Or lack thereof. Shoving various papers to grade into her briefcase, she chuckled as she closed and locked the door. Another day in the life of Laney Cavanaugh, second grade teacher, master of paper art and colored felt tip pens. You bet she was going places.

She headed out into the parking lot, waving to a couple of the other teachers. They were all going home to a family, a warm fire and a fabulous dinner. She’d sit in her small cabin, a glass of wine and a frozen dinner, her pup at her feet. Well, things could certainly be much worse.

She shivered at the thought as she hopped into her Honda, saying a silent prayer her aging ride would start. When the engine purred instead of clicking, she sighed and turned on the radio. Every day without additional expenses was a solid win in her book. As she headed out of the parking lot, her mind wandered, remembering ugly days in her past. She’d vowed never to think of them again, but they continued to creep up every so often, a solid reminder she was pretending to live a normal life. What exactly was normal? Taking stock of her life in Missoula she didn’t need to do right now. Depression was her enemy.

She headed for Good Foods, one of her favorite grocery stores, for the bottle of wine and a few necessities. The moment she entered the store, she couldn’t remember what she actually needed. The soothing lights and light jazzy music put her in a better mood and she headed straight for the wine department. Within seconds, she’d found her prize for the night, a 1.5 liter of her favorite wine. What about dinner? Some frozen delicacy.

The moment she turned the corner, moving into frozen foods, she stopped short. Jamie and Troy were standing not ten feet away, the little boy pointing toward the ice cream case. Gripping the shopping cart, she could feel every part of her body shaking. She bit her lower lip, admonishing her behavior and continued on. Dear God, even her panties were wet.

“Miss Cavanaugh. Nice to see you again,” Troy said, his eyes flashing.

“Chocolate. My favorite,” Jamie added, showing her the carton.

“A perfect choice,” Laney said. “And you can call me Laney. Miss Cavanaugh makes me sound like an old spinster.”

“I assure you, you are anything but that,” Troy breathed.

She heard the slight strangled sound and wanted nothing more than to invite him over for dinner. Right. As if she could cook anything but spaghetti. Laughing nervously, she stole a glance into his basket. Fresh steaks, two potatoes and a bottle of cabernet. The man had excellent tastes. “Just getting a few items. You guys have fun tonight and don’t eat all that ice cream!”

“Merlot. I love the wine. Perfect for a cold winter’s night,” Troy said in passing as he tugged the ice cream from Jamie’s hand.

“Can we get vanilla too?” Jamie asked. “You won the case, Dad so you deserve a treat.”

Both Laney and Troy laughed.

“I have my treat, son. Let’s get going. Good to see you again. I think you’ll have an amazing evening.”

“I plan on it.” She wasn’t even certain what she’d said, but as Troy looked over his shoulder, his eyes falling to her breasts, she refused to become self-conscious. She did make a mental note of his favorite wine as well as making a promise to herself. Tomorrow, she’d dress much better.

The moment she opened the door to her cabin, Topper bounded out, barking and jumping, licking her face. “There you are, you beautiful boy. Okay, go do your business so mommy can grab a glass of wine.” She leaned against the railing, watching her beloved pup romp, his tail wagging as he ran around the small yard.

She breathed in the brisk air then something caught her eye. A bouquet of roses set on the other side of the door. “Roses?” Who the hell would send her roses? A slice of fear trickled into her system. No, she couldn’t panic. This had to be a mistake, or maybe one of the parents sent her a special treat. But for what? “Topper. Let’s go inside.”

After following her Golden Retriever/Sheltie mix inside, she eased the single bag on the counter then wiped her hands down on her skirt. Nerves had kicked in, creating a series of goose bumps popping along every inch of naked skin. Her pulse was racing, leaving bile in her throat. Tears welled in her eyes and she pushed them back, shoving them into her neat and tidy black box. There wasn’t anything wrong with someone sending her flowers.

“I’ll be right back,” she half whispered and eased back out onto the front porch. Even in the waning afternoon light, she could see just how beautiful they were. A perfect red, the buds only slightly open. She counted to five before finding the courage to pick them up. There was no bomb, no fragments of glass cutting into her hands. They were simply flowers in a lovely vase.

She brought them inside and instantly inhaled. The scent was amazing, so fresh and alive. Humming, she filled Topper’s water bowl, turned on several lights as well as her small stereo system and took her time opening the bottle of wine. Every step methodical, she pulled out a crystal wine stem, double checking to make certain the glass was clean. She poured a half glass, then two splashes more before she was satisfied. Then she leaned against the counter, glaring at the roses.

“They won’t hurt you. You’re safe and okay here. Read the card.” She noticed the stark white note sticking in a plastic holder. A sip of wine first. Yes. That would help. The sip turned into several gulps. When Topper jumped on her legs, she shivered and issued a single strangled groan. “This is ridiculous. Huh, boy? Your mommy is silly.”

Very gingerly she reached out, tugging on the card. The moment she read the note, she smiled and swished her hips back and forth.

Thank you for everything you do.

While the card wasn’t sighed, she knew the identity of the sender – Troy Bruester. The words were exactly the same as he’d said to her before. “What a nice guy. Huh, baby?” Tickled, she danced around the island and buried her face into the flowers, savoring the intense aroma. Maybe she would have a date or two after all.

She turned on the oven, poured dog food in Topper’s bowl and continued to dance as she sipped her wine. The guy was handsome, rich and powerful, and she could tell he knew how to treat the ladies. And he had a little crush on her. What a delicious way to end the day. She took another whiff of the flowers and an odd sensation settled into her system, ripping away the joy.

The same understanding, the knowing that something was off kilter furrowed into the back of her mind. Grimacing, she turned and grabbed the envelope. Wilson’s flowers. They were local. She passed by them every day on her way to work. She eased the envelope back on the counter, fingering the writing. Her address was in a purple ink. This wasn’t a man’s handwriting. How would Troy know her address anyway?

He’s an attorney, goofball. True enough, but her inner voice continued to nag, picking at her damaged psyche. After taking another gulp of wine, she picked up the kitchen phone, dialing the number on the card. “Yes, I just received some beautiful roses and I’d like to know who sent them.” She kept her eyes on the flowers, half expecting nasty bugs to crawl out, swarm her counter. “Laney Cavanaugh. Yes, I’ll hold.”

The wait seemed like forever, minutes ticking by in her head. She closed her eyes, visions of the past rolling into the front of her brain. “Yes, I’m here.” Hopefully they could her the details. “I don’t understand.” Her legs were shaking as an adrenaline rush crowded into her system. “Okay. Thank you.”

As she fumbled to put down the phone, she held her breath. The sender was from out of state and had left no information.

She finished her wine and gripped the counter, slowly sliding to the floor.

The nightmare had returned.

 

lillie1922 on 01/06/2018 08:54pm
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book. Lanie Cavanaugh is running from a nightmare. She's finally settled down into a career she loves, in a town she loves. When she meets smokejumper Garcia Puevos, the connection is immediate. Can he be the dominant man she has dreamed of? Do they even stand a chance if her nightmare has caught up with her? Mystery, danger, love, desire. It's there. Spanking romance.
charlotte Huelsemann on 01/04/2018 09:57am
Forged by piper stone
This is another book (three) in the Missoula smokejumpers series. I have love every one of the books in this series, although they are stand alone books . you are missing a real treat if you don%u2019t read the rest. This story line is so new and fresh. This story is about Laney and Garcia. Garcia is a smoke jumper and like the rest he has baggage. So does Laney. Together they fight through a mystery and fear and find one another. These story give you a lot of insight in the smoke jumpers job, it describes different kinds of terms the smokejumpers use and different kinds of wildfires.it gives you insight into just how dangerous this job is and what kind of a special man it takes to be one of these hero or to love one of these hero%u2019s.
Redrabbitt on 01/04/2018 12:15am
The plot will have Garcia and Laney meeting when she has a flat tire on a deserted road, and he stops to help her. She is spooked by unknown number phone calls where the caller won%u2019t talk. Making plans and getting things together, she may be running again. Dealing with a charismatic widower of one of her students has her feeling uncertain, while he is charming, he also leaves her feeling uncomfortable.

When Garcia shows up to her school to talk to her classroom about fire safety, she sees a side of him she likes. Meeting again by chance at Ziggy%u2019s will lead to more and the beginning of a relationship. When he sees her diary and reads her latest entry, she is incensed he violated her privacy, until he makes her fantasy a reality. Two people who each want a unique relationship that include discipline will learn that they are just right for each other, and through the spanking, passion.

Garcia will witness the fear when Laney gets the unknown caller phone calls and steps in to protect her. While she isn%u2019t willing to tell him everything, he senses that there is trouble and she is genuinely afraid. When a smokejumper dies during training because of budgeting issues, Garcia will second guess his career choice and is willing to quit and walk away.

The story takes on sinister life and death scenarios, questionable fires, nefarious intent. Will this be the end of Garcia and Laney? Will she feel she needs to pack up and run again? As with all of Ms. Stone%u2019s books, she has an amazing way of keeping you guessing, sharing damaging bits and pieces of clues, giving you information to question certain people, and keeping the mystery going until the very end. The new relationship between Garcia and Laney is full of passion and chemistry when they are together, but do that have what it takes to stay together and confront the demons? There are also intimate scenes with mild elements of dominance and submission, along with a couple of spankings, and explicit sex scenes.
JigsawGirl on 01/03/2018 08:38pm
This was a pretty good book. Laney was running from a past which held a dark secret. Garcia was floundering, not sure if he should continue to be a smokejumper, or sure about what his future should hold.

Garcia and Laney had a combustible chemistry and they satisfied each other's needs. This story was full of mystery, suspense, action and intrigue. You get to experience the smokejumpers love of family and loyalty.

I just wish the writer had included what happened to Troy. Laney's tale was a little confusing, but the writer pulled the pieces together at the end. This is not a short book, but the story will keep you engaged.

I voluntarily read and reviewed the Advanced Reader Copy.
Hope W on 01/03/2018 02:38pm
The book Forged is an excellent story! Although part of a series, this book can be read as a standalone as well. The plot had many twists and turns and kept me guessing from the start of this page turner. The story brought fear with heart stopping moments, sadness with tears and heartache, happiness that made your hearts huge with joy and brought many smiles, along with fun that filled many parts with laughs brought on with the interplay of the characters. These characters were old characters as well as new ones. They were complex and showed their many sides. Part of what made the story so special was the friendships not only between the jackals; but also, the women they loved. They were tight with those they worked with as their lives depended on each other but also protective of their women and those that surrounded them. I loved that the story took an unexpected turn with the plot and the people involved and also included plenty of spankings as well. Overall the author gave the reader a fabulous book with great length and I highly recommend this book as well as the entire series! I voluntarily received an arc copy of this book!
Tami on 01/03/2018 07:18am
Forged is book three in the Missoula Smokejumpers series. Each book is standalone, but as you meet the characters of the former books I would recommend you read the books in the order they were released. In this book we meet schoolteacher Laney and smokejumper Garcia.

Laney nearly runs Garcia off the road when her car spins because of a flat tire. Of course, he helps her. The next day they meet again at the school and this is the beginning of their relationship with many bumps along the road. They both do have a pretty dark past and they have to fight to overcome all this so their relationship will last.

Like with all the other Missoula Smokejumpers books, there is a lot of action, mystery and suspense. The love scenes and spankings are hot and the characters do have great chemistry. I loved reading this book from the beginning to the satisfying end.
DB on 01/02/2018 01:56pm
WOW! what a book! What a story! This is my favorite book in the Smokejumpers series! Garcia and Laney have an immediate attraction when they meet. Laney is running from a past that she can't get away from. She wants a dominate/spanking man in her future. Garcia has some issues he is dealing with and needs a submissive, caring female for himself. They find these things in each other but all the hurts and problems keep getting in the way of their relationship. This book had it all! Mystery, drama, danger, hot sex, spankings, sabotage, all the other smokejumpers, terrific length, romance and an ending that just makes you cry! Loved. This. Book!!! 5 Smokin' Stars
LuCinda Beebe on 01/02/2018 10:23am
Ms Stone is a talented storyteller. This story was riviting and I had a very hard time putting the book down. I have read everyone of the books in this series and each of them have had some of the same characters but have had there own storyline for that reason I think that this book could be read as a stand alone. Garcia Puevos is a smokejumper and Laney Cavanaugh is a school teacher with a dark past. They both meet one day when as Laney is driving home she gets a flat tire and almost runs Garcia off the road the next day they meet again when Garcia goes to the school to give a talk on being a smokejumper and it happens that it is for Laney's class this is only the beginning for Garcia and Laney's relationship. This story is beautifully written and engaging.
Nicolette on 01/02/2018 06:03am
Another excellent book in the smokejumper series. This is the story of Garcia and Laney. Everyone has their own story to tell and finds that special lady. It is an exciting read.
Lalaland on 01/02/2018 05:01am
Forged is book 3 of this series by Ms Stone and, as with all the others it is a fast paced thriller with very hot and raunchy scenes and domestic discipline spankings together with hot sexy ones, although not in the least gratuitous. This Garcia Puevos story, he is Stoker%u2019s close friend and he became a smoke jumper at the same time as Stoker. As with all the smoke jumpers Garcia has doubts about his ability to continue with his very high risk work. Laney Cavanaugh is a school teacher at the Missoula school and she loves her job and her home but she has secrets and a threatening past which keeps coming back to spoil her present and future. Laney first meets Garcia when she has a blown tyre on an icy road and he helps her. As with all these stories there are various plots within plots besides the main characters own back stories and Ms Stone keeps us guessing, although as always she wraps it all up a bit too quickly and leaves some questions unanswered. Having said this, it%u2019s a really entertaining read and although it can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend the whole series. Ms Stone displays a rich and deep knowledge of the nature of firefighting in the forested and mountainous regions of the western US and what these incredibly valiant individuals have to face every day. Excellent story. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy

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