Hot Response by Shannon Stacey
Series Boston Fire Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Carina Press
Publication Date April 24, 2018
The men of Boston Fire are back and hotter than ever! Don’t miss this brand-new novel from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey.
Gavin Boudreau lives for the job, but he also believes in “work hard, play harder.” As the youngest guy in Ladder 37, he figures he’s got plenty of time before settling down becomes a priority. Soft, pretty women who aren’t looking for promises are exactly his type, and he’s comfortable with that. Working with a gorgeous EMT isn’t going to change who he is.
The last thing Cait Tasker needs in her personal life is a firefighter whose challenges on-scene have been a thorn in her side from minute one. Her plate’s too full for a man anyway. Back in her childhood home to help her family cope with an unexpected tragedy, she’s got enough to handle without throwing a hot, testosterone-laden fireman into the mix.
As long days on the job lead to long nights together, Gavin and Cait will discover how far temptation can take them—and what happens when the one you thought was all wrong for you turns out to be the person you can’t live without.
“Hey, try not to push any firefighters down the stairs this time, okay?”
“It was one time, Tony.” Cait Tasker reached between the seats to get a couple of blue gloves from the dispenser mounted on the back wall of the ambulance cab and snapped them on as her partner pulled up behind a fire truck. “And that was an accident.”
“So you’ve said, multiple times. Hell, I’m pretty sure you said it twice before he even hit the landing.”
“Funny.” She grabbed her bag and headed toward the door of the building, leaving Tony Colarusso—her partner of four years—to grab the OB kit since it sounded like they’d probably need it. Dispatch was also sending a paramedic, but it was going to be a few minutes.
A police officer was holding the door open for her and she nodded her thanks as she passed through. The first flight of stairs was no sweat, but she felt the weight of the bag by the time she reached the second. Another officer was standing there, and he pointed off to his right.
Not that she needed any help finding the commotion. The reported screaming had stopped, but there was a gaggle of firefighters in the hall. Or a herd or a flock or whatever you’d call a bunch of guys holding turnout gear, standing around and doing nothing.
They parted to let her through, and she saw the back of the firefighter kneeling between the patient’s legs. And his back was all Cait needed to see to know it was Gavin Boudreau.
That freaking cowlick.
They crossed paths occasionally, and there was something about the man that got under her skin. The first time they’d been on the same scene—a minor MVA involving a confused tourist going the wrong way up a one-way street—she’d gotten sucked in by his good looks and quick humor. She’d been working up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to grab a coffee or a drink sometime when he’d called her ma’am.
Not only had she not asked him out, but every time she saw him, she remembered the ma’am. It made her feel old and these days, she didn’t need any help feeling older than her years.
Gavin glanced over his shoulder and as soon as he caught sight of Cait, he moved to the woman’s other side and gave an update—including the patient’s name and what vital info he had—as he moved.
Then Kelly grabbed a fistful of Gavin’s shirt and pulled so hard, she almost yanked him down on top of herself. “Don’t leave me.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I just need to get out of Cait’s way so she can take over. She’s better at delivering babies than I am.”
He knew her name. Why that should stand out to her in their current situation, she didn’t know, but she noticed it and was surprised. “Kelly, he can stay by your head, but I need room for my partner.”
“By my head, like a husband,” Kelly said with a short, breathless laugh.
“You should at least buy me dinner first.” He moved toward Kelly’s shoulder without letting go of her hand.
Cait ignored him as she moved into the position he’d vacated. It was baby time.
“I want <em>my</em> husband,” Kelly said, and her face began to crumple as tears welled in her eyes. But before the crying could begin in earnest, her face paled and her eyes widened. Her sharp intake of breath held a note of panic, like a sour musical tone, and Cait blocked out everything but the baby crowning between her patient’s legs.
Tony was next to her, ready to take and assess the infant. It went as smoothly as unplanned labor on a hallway floor could go, and by the time the paramedic arrived, Kelly had a squirming, fussy bundle of baby boy on her chest. Though it was a busy day for EMS and there were a lot fewer paramedics than EMTs, they always tried to transport newborns with them in case they needed advanced medical care.
Phil had a rookie EMT with him, but Cait and Tony stood back and let them take over since they had to take care of the OB kit and somebody had to bag the mess. Gavin was still holding the patient’s hand as they put her on the stretcher, and Cait saw him smile at Kelly.
He really had a great smile.
“That’s a good-looking boy you have,” he was saying. “If you and your husband have trouble coming up with a name for him, Gavin’s not too bad.”
She laughed and said something Cait couldn’t hear. Then Phil had the firefighters in motion, ready to carry mother, child and gear to the ground floor.
It was just Cait’s luck that Gavin also lingered. She couldn’t blame him for letting the other guys do the heavy lifting down the stairs, since they’d basically done nothing during the incident, but seeing him was a reminder she hadn’t dated in a while and, considering how things were going at home, wouldn’t be for a while. And that made her feel even older than the ma’am had.
“I feel like I should be handing out cigars,” he said, and both he and Tony laughed.
Gavin’s laugh made her even more tense. It was rich and deep and made heat curl through her insides. It was his laugh that had first turned her head, so every time she heard it, it reminded her of that day.
“Not gonna lie,” he continued. “I’m glad you guys got here in time for Cait to play catch.”
Play catch? “At least I took the situation seriously.”
He’d been in the process of picking up her bag, and his head jerked up as if she’d slapped him. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Emergency childbirth isn’t playing catch.” She took her bag and slung it over her shoulder.
“Jesus, lighten up. It was a joke.”
She was tired. She was hungry, and she wasn’t in the mood. “Like I said, I take my job seriously.”
“When I got here, she was laying on the floor screaming, and not just from the pain. She was in labor and in a full-blown panic. Her BP was through the roof and that’s no good for her or the baby, so I did what I had to do to relax her.”
She headed for the stairs before the conversation could escalate any further. If she really pissed him off, Tony might feel obligated to intervene and that wouldn’t be fair to her partner.
“At least you’re going down first,” Gavin called after her. “I don’t have to worry about you pushing me down the stairs.”
“That was an accident,” she shouted over her shoulder, and she might have been tempted to go back and explain it a little better, but she heard both men laughing.
Gavin was pushing her buttons and she’d let him get under her skin. Again.
After helping load mommy and baby into the back of Phil’s truck, Cait and Tony took a few minutes to pack their gear away in their own ambulance before climbing into the cab. The firefighters were still milling around on the sidewalk, laughing and talking about who knew what.
Her gaze landed on Gavin because it always seemed to, whether she wanted it to or not. She wasn’t sure how old he was. One of the younger guys in his house, but around her age—late twenties or so. There definitely weren’t enough years between them to merit him calling her ma’am.
He was average height for a guy, but with a better than average body. Or maybe that was just her take on it. She liked guys who were in shape, but not such good shape they spent hours at the gym and expected applause when they flexed an arm. Physically, he definitely checked all her boxes.
And every time she saw him—which thankfully wasn’t that often—she wanted to smooth that damn cowlick down. Maybe run her fingers through his hair a few times to help it stay. Then she’d invariably remember how close she’d come to asking him out, and why she hadn’t.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.