What not to expect when you're expecting... Becca Thomas is thrilled to be pregnant, even though it means bringing up her baby alone. At thirty-eight, this may be her last chance to have a child. And she doesn't expect to see Aiden Rodas again — doesn't think that a freewheeling younger man like him would even want to be a father. Wrong.
Aiden may live the life of a devil-may-care wildland firefighter, but he's not going to walk away from his responsibilities, no matter how unexpected they are. His challenge now is making Becca see that their child needs both of them. An even bigger challenge will be to make her realize that this expectant father has fallen in love with a certain mother-to-be!
Heat level: mild.
Note from Melinda: The 3rd story in the Hot Shot series has lots of fire action and a May-December romance that has sparks flying. Here's a taste...
“Move! Move! Move!” Spider shouted as he sprinted after nineteen men and women through a tunnel of flame.
No one heard him above the roar of the fire.
The Silver Bend Hot Shots were in a race for their lives down a mountainside that they’d been trying to save from a wildland fire. A few minutes ago, they’d been scraping away brush with shovels and Pulaskis, clearing a fire break next to a tame flank of the Flathead, Montana fire on the slope above them, joking about how there’d be no overtime on this fire because it would soon be put out.
Then the wind swirled about them, no longer coming from the creek below in gentle puffs. Whipped into a ten foot tall wall of menacing flame, the fire toyed with them only for a moment before bending across their six foot wide fire break and touching off a fire on the opposite side with a heated kiss. Tools scattered and packs were abandoned as the group began a desperate run for the ribbon of water they’d started at this morning.
As an assistant superintendent of the team, it was Spider’s job to make sure everyone made it out ahead of him. One misstep by someone before him and they’d go down like dominoes, more fuel to be consumed by the fiery dragon on their heels.
How much farther?
Ahead of Spider, the fire seemed to be closing ranks around them. The heat and smoke from the flames made it difficult to fill his lungs with air. His heart pounded wildly from exertion, adrenaline and fear.
Someone stumbled in front of him. Swerving to the side, running perilously close to the tongue of flame on his right, Spider dragged Victoria back to her feet.
“We’re not going to make it,” she cried, barely audible above the angry roar of the fire.
Even as some part of Spider agreed, he rejected defeat. At thirty, he still had things to accomplish, places to see, and women to meet. Single, few responsibilities, with few regrets and only his dad to mourn him, the world was his oyster.
Only he was about to be fried.
*** And later in the book ***
It was him.
Black hair and intense black eyes. All five-foot-ten inches of sculpted, sexy man.
Not only was it him, but Aiden Rodas - better known around here as Spider - had looked her in the eye as if she were some irresponsible, idiotic pregnant woman who had caused her own accident. He had filled her nights with pleasurable memories that came pressing back on her now, heating her from the inside out. And he…
Didn’t even recognize her.
While the man they called Doc applied a bandage to her temple, Becca’s foolish pride steamed. Aiden didn’t recognize her. Had he really been that drunk when they’d met? She hadn’t thought so. She should be grateful he didn’t recognize her. It made everything that much easier.
Still, Becca didn’t want to be just another notch on his bed post.
The baby kicked her belly in Aiden’s direction, a proverbial wave to garner his attention. Becca ran a hand over her tummy, trying to satisfy the urge to shush her little one. There were plenty of reasons why Aiden didn’t need to know of his role in creating this child. But now wasn’t the time...
The Story Behind the Story
This was the third book in my Hot Shot wildland fire fighter stories. I was kicking around ideas for this when Las Vegas started running the "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" ad campaign. I don't know about where you live, but in California this played endlessly. And so I came up with the idea that my hero and heroine met one night at a fire fighting conference in Vegas.
Add to this the rise of the term "cougar" in the early 2000s and I thought my cocky hero, Aiden, should fall for a beautiful slightly older woman, Becca. Since he had been my comic relief in the first two Hot Shot books, this age difference only added to the conflict, since poor Aiden had yet to grow up! Too bad Becca was following her own kind of back up plan - which didn't always sound so grown up to Aiden!
By this time, I had read almost every book I could get on wildfire fighting. The accounts were heroic, but also somewhat horrific. This book has the biggest fire fighting scene of any in the series. I still feel nervous when I pull it out and read it - and I wrote it!
Cover buzz: When asked for cover inspiration, I went to some of my creative friends and asked them what they'd do. They found me photographs of a couple that were charming. The man was putting refrigerator magnets that spelled out "boy" on the pregnant woman's belly. The cover came out great, but I admit to panicking when my editor sent it to me. Why? Because at the end of the book she has a girl! We had to add a line into the book about Aiden being convinced they were having a boy. LOL!