Alaskan Tigers Book One

Monica Robinson moved to Texas in the hopes of adventure, little did she know she’d find danger in that mix. Firefighter Smoke Wilson has never found a woman that could put up with his career or keep his attention long enough for him to try to balance the two. When circumstances throw Monica and Smoke together, can they conquer the past in order to make a future neither knew they wanted?

The door exploded inward and through the smoke firefighters emerged. “Monica!”

Coughing she crawled toward them, the heat intensifying around her. Just a little further…fresh air… Someone hauled her into his arms, through the gear and face mask she couldn’t see who it was.

“I got her.” It sounded like Smoke but the muffling from the face mask made it hard to hear him.

“Paramedics are standing by.” The other firefighter said as she was carried out.

“Wilson, get another line.”

Wilson? Smoke are you here?

“Go on, brother, I’ve got it.” The second firefighter who rescued her jogged toward the fire engine.

“Let me down…” A coughing fit overcame her again and he raised her in his arms slightly. “I can walk.”

“Not a chance, darling.” Ignoring her demands he headed toward the ambulance.

Not caring who her rescuer had been before, she hadn’t bothered to look that closely, but now that she was out of the burning house and safe, she looked into his eyes. “Smoke.”

“Shh darling, you’re safe now.” He eased her onto the gurney before he squatted down in front of her and took his breathing mask off.

“Is this the woman you were talking to Fire about earlier?”

“Shut up Sam and help her.” Smoke eyed the paramedic for a moment before returning his gaze to her. “Blaze is on his way and I’ll be back soon. I’ve got to help the guys get the fire under control.”

“Go. I’m fine.” She put her hand up, stopping Sam from putting the oxygen mask over her face. “Thank you.”

“I’d always come for you.” He kissed her forehead, rose, and headed back to the other firefighters battling the blaze.

“My home…” She mumbled more to herself than anyone else as Sam placed the oxygen mask over her mouth.

“Things can be replaced. What matters is that you’re alive. Now lie back and let me look at your hand. Are you burned anywhere else?”

“Don’t do this. Not now!” Monica Robinson slammed her hand down on the steering wheel, cursing her car. She looked down at the gauges unable to believe what she was reading. Out of gas, but that is impossible, I just filled up this morning on the way to work. She grabbed her purse and dug into the side pocket for her cell phone. Pulling it out, she hit the power button to wake it up but the screen remained black.

“Fuck.” She leaned forward, resting her head on the steering wheel. A dead cell phone battery was the last thing she needed right now. Her string of bad luck was growing worse with every second and her patience on was gone. Between her asshole ex-roommate, Sheila Price, and her own bad luck, it was the making of a disastrous combination.

Stranded on a dark road that had little to no traffic during the day, let alone at two in the morning, with no cell phone and a dead car, left her few options. She’d have to leave her car there and walk, otherwise she would be there until morning when someone might stumble upon her car on the side of the road. Renting a remote house near Dallas, Texas seemed like the perfect idea at the time. It would get her away from the lunatic ex-roommate and while she enjoyed city life she wanted some peace and quiet. This place kept her close to the action, without having to live in the mix of the chaos. Doesn’t seem like such a great idea now.

She dropped the useless phone back into her purse and pulled the keys from the ignition. Two miles was nothing, but in the dead of night, it didn’t sound very appealing. She had no idea what might be lurking in the woods, but if her luck continued to run as it had, she wouldn’t be surprised to find Sheila waiting to attack her. Thankfully, as far as she knew, Sheila didn’t know where she lived.

Opening her car door with the small flashlight she kept in the driver’s door compartment in hand, she stepped out into the muggy air. Unlike back home, even at night Texas didn’t cool down. An owl echoed in the distance and a longing to go home overwhelmed her. A country girl from South Dakota who grew up on a farm her whole life, she had wanted something bigger and better and followed that dream to Dallas, Texas, only it didn’t turn out like she planned.

Before she made the move, she accepted a job as a nanny for a well to-do family that lived in the city. After years of helping her mother with her seven younger siblings, three children should have been a walk in the park for her, but she hated it. Spoiled rich kids whose parents were never around so they lavished them with gifts was just too much for her. When she accepted the job she thought it would be like it had been with her siblings. She never expected to hate every minute she spent with her charges.

She could go back home to South Dakota, her family would welcome her back with open arms, but it wasn’t what she wanted. Her parents respected her need to spread her wings, but they wanted her to come back home. She was the eldest of eight girls and her father was counting on her to meet a nice country boy, settle down, and hopefully take over the family farm. If she didn’t it would be up to her younger sisters to marry someone who could take over the farm, otherwise they’d lose it when Dad could no longer carry on doing the work himself. Her father was old fashioned and didn’t want his girls running the farm, their place was making a home for their husband and raising the children.

“I want more than to just be a wife and mother.” She kicked the dirt road, sending dust through the air. A demanding career like Mr. and Mrs. Day had wasn’t what she wanted either. A career like that put too much strain on their marriage and took their time away from the kids. When she had children she wanted to be there for them, just like her mother had been. Somewhere in the mess of her emotions she knew there was a fine balance, one that would allow her to be more than just a mother and a wife, but would still give her what she needed to be happy.

“Hey…” Jumping back in fear, she stumbled on a rock, nearly losing her balance. “Hey now be careful.”

Getting her feet under her she looked at the man behind the wheel of the truck. She had been so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t heard the truck ramble up the dark road. The dangers of that wasn’t something she wanted to consider. “Sorry, I didn’t…” She let the words die on her lips. How big of an idiot did she have to be to admit she didn’t hear the engine of his supped up truck coming down the road?

“Was that your car about a half mile back?”

Half mile? That’s how far I’ve gotten? “Yeah.”

“What me to look at it?”

She shook her head no and stepped closer to the passenger door of the truck so she didn’t have to holler over the engine. “Thanks, but it’s not worth it. It’s out of gas.”

“Well hop in and we’ll go get you some.”

“I really appreciate the offer but—”

He gripped the steering wheel and rose off the seat, pulling his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans. “Trust me. I’m a safer bet than walking alone out here at this time of night. I’m a firefighter with Dallas Fire and Rescue, Station Fifty-Eight, and we’re neighbors. I saw you moving in last week as I was about to head out for my shift.” He held the identification card out to her.

She looked at the ID that he held out to her and nodded. “No gas, but I’d appreciate the lift home. If we’re neighbors it shouldn’t be out of your way. By the way I’m Monica Robinson. It’s nice to finally meet my only neighbor.”

“You too, now hop in and let’s get out of this humid air.”

Opening the passenger door, the dome light illuminated him giving her a better look at his features. Short brown hair, falling every which way, and amber brown eyes that held just a hint of darkness as if he had seen too much. His handsome face was chiseled with details, and she had no doubt that the body hidden behind the jeans and dark blue pullover would be toned to match. His dark tan reminded her of home and someone who worked outdoors.

“It’s really no problem to go get you gas.” He offered again as she stood there in the doorway.

“Actually it is.” Without taking her gaze from him she climbed into the passenger seat. “Someone cut my gas line.”

“Are you sure?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

She kept her hand on the door, not sure if she should be insulted or not. “Yes, I’m sure. I might be a woman, but I know a thing or two about cars. I put gas in the tank this morning and now it’s empty.” Closing the door, she shook her head. She was in this mess because she was too trusting, but she didn’t need to take it out on him. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long day. I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

“I have a buddy who can swing by in the morning with his tow truck and take it to his shop to fix it.”

“Thanks, but you’ve already gone out of your way to help me. I can call around tomorrow and find someone.” He put the truck in drive and took his foot off the break as she sat there wondering what she was going to do about Sheila. Would she get rid of her if she moved back to South Dakota? Or would she follow her? The idea of the lunatic following her home and endangering her parents and sisters terrified her. Going back home wouldn’t be an option until something stopped Sheila. “Who knows what else is wrong with it? That bitch probably did as much to it as she could.”

“Who?”

“Sheila Price. I rented a room from her before I found out that she’s certified insane. I mean she deserves to be locked up. The cops know who she is and they’ve had run in with her before, but there’s not much evidence. Maybe this was the break that we needed.” At the end of the road her small cabin came into view. A welcome sight after the day she had been through. “She would have had to cut the gas line when I was at the police station. I parked a block away in the grocery store lot because I knew there’d be cameras and because I planned on picking up dinner on my way home. Instead, I was there for hours and now I just want to go home to bed.”

“I’m sorry to ruin your plans, but you need to give the police a call. Have them check the security cameras and I’ll get my friend out here because I suspect you’re right about the fuel line. There was a trail leading up the road, getting lighter the closer I got to your car and now there’s nothing. They might check the car for fingerprints. I don’t know. It’s not my line of work, but I know they’ll do whatever they can to get her behind bars if she’s terrorizing you.” He pulled up the driveway and right out front of her house. “Go on in. I’ll wait until the police arrive, just in case.”

“Could I…” She shifted uncomfortably in the seat and turned toward him. “You’ve already done so much for me, and I truly appreciate it, but I need one more thing. My cell’s dead and I never got a house phone.”

“Here.” With a grin he held out his phone.

“What a great impression I’m making.” She shook her head again, sending her dark blonde hair flying into her face. “I swear I’m not some drama freak. I moved out here to get away from the craziness of the city. Last thing I want to do is bring it to my neighbors’ doorsteps.”

“You haven’t and neighbors help each other. If there’s anything I can do, I’m just right over there.” He pointed to a large country home just on the other side of the tree line that separated their properties. “I’ll be off for the next forty-eight hours, if you need anything you just come over.”

“Forty-eight hours? That’s an odd way of putting it isn’t it. I don’t know many who’d word it like that. Most would say two days.”

“Firefighters aren’t most people.” He gave her a quick cocky grin. “Actually it’s because we’re on for twenty-four hours and then off for forty-eight.”

“Oh and I thought it might be a Texas thing.” She dug through her purse, looking for Detective Wilson’s business card. The name on the ID her rescuer had shown her earlier popped back into her thoughts. “Wilson?”

“Excuse me?”

“Smoke Wilson, are you related to Detective Wilson?” She pulled the car from the back of her wallet and looked down at the name. “Detective Blaze Wilson.”

“Well now. I know you’re in good hands if he’s the one assigned to your case.” He reached over, hit the contact button, and scrolled down to the name Blaze, bringing his number up on the screen. “My brother, the only one who didn’t follow in our father’s footsteps and become a firefighter. Give him a call.”

“It’s a different number.”

“Don’t worry. It’s his private cell phone, but he’s sure to answer that. Consider he’s been off duty for twenty minutes now, it’s the only chance you have of speaking with him tonight. Otherwise the number you have will go straight to voicemail.” He pushed Blaze’s number before she could argue, giving her no other option but to put the phone to her ear.

Please let him help…