Into the Fire Ch. 03


Over the next week we fell into a routine of sorts. He’d leave early for his forty-eight hour shift at the firehouse, and when I dragged myself out of bed I’d fire up his laptop to search potential career options or grad schools. That would inevitably lead to me feeling depressed about my mundane future, so I’d shut it down and take a book out to the front porch instead. Shane had an impressive library of books, mostly autobiographies of this president or that author. A cup of tea and an hour reading on the porch swing always lifted my mood. The mornings he’d come home, I’d put on a pot of coffee and make him breakfast while he entertained me with tales of the interesting characters he’d encountered on the job.

On his days off we’d just hang out. He took me to the movies, or the bookstore. We’d play board games, which I always lost. Sometimes we’d just read silently on the couch in the evening before bed. After the third night of nightmares he just moved my things into his room and we’d fall asleep together. It was comfortable. It was nice.

Which was precisely the reason I was freaking out.

Never mind that I was sleeping in the same bed with a man that I’d only known for a few days. What was weird was that it wasn’t weird at all. Honestly, I slept better with him next to me than I had in years. I felt safe. And then…there was the other problem.

I was starting to really like him. A lot.

I found myself missing his company when he was gone, and I noticed he really liked making me laugh: he’d tell dumb jokes or do impressions of cartoon characters and then waggle his eyebrows at me until I dissolved into a fit of giggles. When he was relaxed, his southern accent was thicker. We’d lie in bed talking about nothing and he’d drop all his g’s or say something like “y’all” or “fixin’ to” and it was all I could do to stop myself from pushing him down and riding him like a mechanical bull.

The flirting was getting out of control. He was constantly tickling me, touching my hips or whispering in my ear or, his personal favorite, threatening to spank me. As God as my witness, I was this close to letting him.

But there wasn’t really a point to do so. I’d already been in his home over a week, I was pretty much healed and would have to get back to the real world sometime. So maybe I was enjoying the fantasy a little too much. Because soon that would be all this is — just a fantasy.


“Say somethin’ else!”

I wiped my mouth with my napkin to hide my smile. “You are so weird, what is your obsession with me speaking in French? And chew your food before you talk.”

Shane sarcastically cut his eyes at me and took a drink of water to swallow the last bite of salad he had in his mouth. “Yes, Mom. And I’m obsessed because you came waltzin’ in here acting like “Oh I’m Tess, I act like my life is so boring but in reality I have eighty hidden talents and I speak five languages.”” he waved his hands around and I snickered at his exaggerated high-pitched impersonation of me. He continued in his normal voice, “You know how to ride horses, you played, what, four sports in high school? You spent a year studying in France, you’ve done Habitat for Humanity since you were nine, you’re the fuckin’ president of everything…”

“Used to be the president of everything,” I corrected him as I gathered our empty dinner plates and placed them in the large farmhouse sink. “When I finally left for college I was so relieved not to be forced by my mom to do a hundred activities…I swear, I didn’t talk to anyone for the first month I was there. Anyway, stop acting like you’ve never heard anyone speak French before.”

“No, I’ve never heard anyone speak French like you speak French. Your voice gets all low and you’re doin’ this thing with your tongue that, frankly, is drivin’ me a little crazy.”

“Je suis heureux que ma langue vous rend fou,” I began quietly as I poured hot water into my mug from the kettle he had put on for me earlier, “parce que chaque partie de vous me rend sauvage.” I watched his reaction as I dunked my chamomile tea bag into the water. “Happy, Mr. Thomas?”

A sly grin slid onto his face. “Now tell me what you said.”

I’m glad my tongue is driving you crazy, because every part of you is making me wild. “Nope. That wasn’t part of the deal.”

His smile widened as he wiggled his eyebrows at me. “It was somethin’ dirty, wasn’t it?” I laughed Kadıköy Esmer Escort and shook my head as I brought my mug to my lips. “Tess, do you have a boyfriend?”

I peered at him over the rim, trying not to choke on the scalding hot tea. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Do you have a boyfriend? A mate. A stud. A partner. Someone who does dirty things to your hot little body in the bedroom.”

I set my cup on the counter and put my hand on my hip. “Shane, why would you think that would be an appropriate question to ask?”

He shrugged. “I think it’s an appropriate question to ask since you’ve been sleepin’ in my bed and all. Just want to make sure I’m not gonna have someone comin’ here to kick my ass.”

“Pfftt. As if anyone could kick your ass, you giant.”

“Yeah yeah, answer the question, woman. Though I’m tellin’ you right now, I’m gonna be mighty sad if you do.” Those eyes of his stared me down. Uncomfortable with the lengthy eye contact, I went to the sink to start washing our dishes from dinner while I addressed his inquiry. “That’s…not something you have to worry about, okay?”

“That’s hard to believe,” he got up and stood next to me with a dish towel in hand, waiting for me to hand off plates for him to dry. “You’re a beautiful woman, you should have guys knockin’ down your door.”

I tried to focus on scrubbing and not how closely he was standing to me, or how good he smelled. “I’ve always been too focused on school. Besides, the only ones who would want to go out with me just want a girl who comes from a, quote unquote, “good family”. It’s not the turn-on you might think. I’ve been on a couple of dates with guys from school, but nothing serious.”

He stopped drying and turned his head to look at me. “Wait, so you’ve never had a boyfriend? Ever?”

“Nope.” I stared at the suds in the sink, silently wishing he’d change the subject.

“Contessa Adams,” he put his arm around my shoulders and leaned in so close I felt the heat of his breath on my ear, “are you tellin’ me you’re a little bitty ol’ virgin?”

I dropped the last plate into the soapy water and started to walk out of the kitchen. “Aww, Tess, wait!” I heard him call out but I was halfway up the stairs. I ran into the bedroom and slammed the door. A minute later I heard a soft knock.

“Tess. Tess, c’mon, open the door. I was just playin’ around.”

I flung the door open and glared at him, tears threatening to roll down my cheeks. “You know, some people aren’t obsessed with sex! Some people would rather wait until they’ve found the right person, and they’re not freaks and they’re not weird! And…and you shouldn’t make fun of them!” I screamed at him, and broke into a sob.

He wrapped his arms around me tightly as I blubbered like a baby. “Hey…hey. I’m sorry for making fun, and I don’t think you’re weird, okay?” He started rubbing the small of my back to calm me down. “I was just surprised, that’s all.”

I pulled away and started furiously wiping my face, embarrassed at how emotional I was being over something that had never even bothered me before. “Why? Why is that so surprising, huh?”

Shane leaned against the doorframe and responded quietly, “Because I can’t imagine why any guy wouldn’t want to be with you.”

I stopped my hysterics and looked at him. “Shut up. I’m clearly a complete mess, you’re insane.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, his telltale sign he was uncomfortable. “Yeah, you are kind of a mess. But you’re also really fuckin’ smart, and funny, and you’re just about the most beautiful girl I’ve ever…I mean, c’mon Tess, I don’t let just anyone sleep in my bed. You gotta know that.”

I swallowed and cleared my throat. My head was swimming. The only thing I could think to say is, “I’m going to wash my face. Then we’re going to a bar. Give me five minutes.”

Suddenly, he looked relieved. “Well, hallelujah!” He threw up his hands and turned and walked down the hall.

I went into the bathroom and frowned at myself in the mirror. Get it together, Tess! I may not be able to control my feelings, but I could sure as hell get drunk and forget about them for the night.


We drove in dead silence about ten minutes into town to a dive bar named The Steel Room. Once he parked he got out and slammed his door, a clear indication of his mood. He came around to open my door, and I couldn’t get out of the truck Kadıköy Eve Gelen Escort fast enough. The awkwardness was palpable, and alcohol seemed like an incredibly tempting icebreaker at the moment.

The moment we walked into the bar I noticed a loud and rambunctious group of men in the back corner. One of them saw us and yelled “Hey, Tex!” That turned into the entire group chanting “TEX! TEX! TEX!” I glanced up at Shane who had a sheepish look on his face. “That’s, uh, those are the guys.”

“The guys? Your co-workers?” They did seem like a particularly brawny bunch.

“Yeah. Do you mind if we say hey real quick? They’re already going to bust my balls about showing up with a woman, I don’t need them raggin’ on me for being rude too.”

“Sure, of course, that’s fine,” I nodded, as he placed his hand on my lower back to steer me towards the noise.

“Ay, Tex!” yelled one of the men, a burly man with extensively tattooed arms and a Jersey accent. “Where’d you kidnap this beautiful woman? Because she sure can’t be with you willingly!”

A bald, black man punched him in the shoulder. “Yo Vin, you’re being rude as shit. Don’t mind him, he’s a sloppy drunk,” he gave me a cool smile. I waved it off, “No worries. I’m Tess, it’s nice to meet you all.”

“Tess, this is Greg, Paul, Robert, Sam, and the loud asshole in the corner is Vincent,” Shane made the introductions. “Tess is…a friend of mine.” That earned him a lot of whooping and catcalling. “Yeah, yeah, shut the fuck up. We’re going to the bar.”

“C’mon man, hang out with us! We’ll behave,” the blonde man named Greg promised, with a wink. “Pull up a chair so we can tell your “friend” all of your most charming anecdotes.”

Shane ran his hand down his face. “No. No fuckin’ way.”

I elbowed him the ribs. “Oh, come on, Shane. Your friend would like to hear all your stories.”

He narrowed his eyes at me, clearly pissed he’d been outvoted. “Fine. What do you want to drink?”

“Johnny Walker, neat.”

That got me a positive hoot from the guys while Shane went to the bar, muttering “fucking woman is driving me crazy” under his breath as he walked away.


An hour and three shots of whiskey later, I was a basket of giggles. Shane’s co-workers were hilarious, and through all the jokes and shit-talking I could tell they were like brothers. Suddenly, I got the urge to dance, so I sauntered over to the jukebox to pick a song. While browsing through a seemingly endless list of country hits I was unfamiliar with, I felt a hand slide around my hip. Shane leaned into my backside and pointed to a song. “That one,” he suggested. I fought the urge to close my eyes and lean back against him, so I pushed the button and the singer started crooning away. He gently turned me around, cupped my hand in his, pulled me close and started swaying.

After what seemed like an eternity, he leaned down and pressed his face next to mine. “You know,” he stated quietly, “you shouldn’t walk off in a bar by yourself. All the guys are staring at your curvy ass in those tight jeans of yours, and it’s starting to make me a little jealous.”

I giggled tipsily and snaked my arms around the back of his neck to bring him closer. “I should add “more tight jeans” on my list, then. Maybe I don’t mind other guys staring…or touching, for that matter.

A growl that was almost possessive rumbled in his throat. “Don’t say shit like that. You’re gonna make me kill someone for even thinkin’ about touchin’ you.”

“Why? I’m just your friend, right? There’s no reason to be jealous over someone having something that isn’t even yours to begin with.”

“Oh, you mouthy lil’…” As Shane’s hand moved underneath the hem of my shirt, he grazed my hot skin with his fingers lightly. “You’re trouble, woman. What am I gonna do with you?”

“You’re a very intelligent man, Shane. I’m sure you could think of something,” I proposed as I took his earlobe between my teeth and tugged. Apparently whiskey makes me frisky.

“Careful, sweetheart, or I’ll find other uses for that quick tongue of yours. In fact, my mind hasn’t stopped runnin’ with ideas of what I would do to you if you belonged to me.”

“Mmm. I could possibly be persuaded to form a merger of sorts, provided you are clear in your intent before said acquisition is agreed upon,” I nipped at the side of his neck, with which he rewarded Kadıköy Evi Olan Escort me with a tight squeeze of my hips. At this point he was so close to my ear and started speaking softly with a hard edge to his voice.

“My intent is to have you on your back, sprawled out on my bed. My intent is to have my mouth all over your body, sucking those perfect tits, grabbin’ that perfect ass that I’ve been watching you sway all over the house. My intent is find out if you taste as sweet as I’ve been dreamin’. My intent, dear Contessa, is to have you comin’ so hard that all you can do is scream my name.” He let out a short breath. “Fuck, Tess, I can’t pretend anymore that I don’t want you. I can’t lie next to you night after night and not touch you. Do you know what you’re doin’ to me?”

I pulled back to look at him and grinned. “Not yet, I don’t. But I’d be willing to let you show me.”

His eyes darkened and the corner of his mouth twitched up into a provocative smile. “Oh, I plan on spendin’ the rest of the night showin’ you, startin’ by keeping my promise of taking you over my knee for that smart mouth of yours. Let me go pay our tab and say bye to the fellas; then you’re all mine, lil’ girl.” He ran his thumb across my cheek and walked off. The anticipation of what was to come made my knees a little week, so I took the opportunity to find the bathroom and compose myself. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and tried giving myself a pep talk.

Don’t be nervous, Tess. He’s just a guy. A very, very hot guy. A very, very hot guy that you’re about to lose your virginity to, because he’s said a lot of dirty things that made your panties wet. Oh, yeah, no big deal. Jesus, keep it together, girl.

I washed my hands and went out looking for him. The bald, black firefighter named Sam came out of the men’s room at the same time and I almost crashed into him.

“Oh! Sorry, Sam, I didn’t mean to run you over.”

He gave me a wide smile. “Hey, no worries. It was really nice to meet you, Tess.” After a beat he snapped his fingers and pointed at me. “Oh my God, you’re the girl we pulled out of the wreck a couple of weeks ago, aren’t you?”

I bit my lip and nodded. “Guilty as charged. I probably look different without a bucket of blood dumped on me.

“Yeah…yeah, you do clean up pretty well. Anyway, if you’re looking for Shane, I think he went out back with Chastity.”

If I had been walking, that would have stopped me in my tracks. “I’m sorry, Chastity?”

He nodded and leaned against the wall. “Yeah, that’s his ex-girlfriend. She came up to say hi and he took her outside to talk to her. They’re pretty off and on, so I guess they’re on again. Hey, I know we just met…officially met, but I was wondering if I could take you out tomorrow night. A movie, maybe? If you’re busy that’s cool, it’s just that you’re just about the prettiest girl I’ve ever met so I thought I’d take a shot.”

I stood there for a moment trying to process all the information I’d been given in the last 90 seconds. Shane. Girlfriend. Chastity. Sam. Date? I shook my head as if that would give me clarity and tried to appear unnerved. “I’m not sure what I’m doing yet. Could I maybe let you know tomorrow? Sorry, all that whiskey has gone to my head.”

He took his phone out and handed it to me. “No problem, just give me your number.” I punched the ten digits in and called my cell so I’d have his. Just as I was about to go give Shane a piece of my mind, he rounded the corner, looking pissed. “You ready to go, Tess?” he snapped.

I ignored him and gave a flirtatious grin to Sam. “Thanks Sam, I hope you have a good night.”

“You too, Tess, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” His long legs carried him back towards his group. I brushed past Shane before he could ask what was going on and stormed out to his truck. I flung myself into the passenger seat and slammed the door. Shane followed about 30 seconds later, started up the car and we drove down the dark road, actively ignoring each other. He had barely parked in the driveway before I hopped down out of the car and half-ran into the house and up the stairs. I reached the guest room and threw my purse onto the bed. I had started pulling off my sandals when he appeared the doorway.

“So…I guess you’re sleeping in here tonight.” He stated in a matter-of-fact tone.

I didn’t bother turning around and tried to steady my voice so he couldn’t tell I was about two seconds away from crying. “Yeah, I’m just…I had a lot to drink tonight and I just want to get some rest. Can you please go?”

He waited a beat. “‘Night, Tess.” He shut the door and I started sobbing silently. I laid on top of the bed and cried myself into a fitful sleep.

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