Into the Fire Ch. 02

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The trees whizzed by in a blur as we drove down the highway. Connecticut in the summertime was usually pretty mild, there wasn’t a scorching heat like down South; but the days were pleasant and the nights were cool. I stared out the window of Shane’s 4×4 and mentally ran down the list of things that needed to be done.

Make sure rent is paid. Notify doorman I won’t be back for a couple of weeks. Make sure class schedule is set for this fall. Look through internship applications. Check with Sydney to get the Bid Week prospect list. Buy clothes. Buy a car. Appropriately freak out about accident when alone. Equally freak out about spending two weeks with a total stranger, who could be a crazy person. Make a damn friend who’s local so this doesn’t happen again. Did I mention freak out?

“You’re thinkin’ mighty loud over there.”

The masculine voice shook me out of my thoughts. “I’m sorry?”

“Let me guess: you’re wonderin’ what the hell is wrong with you that you’d go home with a total stranger, who could be a dangerous serial killer, or somethin’ worse. Like a Mormon.”

I folded my arms across my chest. “Well? Are you?”

Shane chuckled softly. “Not a serial killer. Or a Mormon, my parents would throw a shit fit. I’m just tryin’ to be helpful, since you seem to be all alone.”

I turned to study his profile. His red hair was long enough to sweep over his ears, down to the nape of his neck. Long blonde eyelashes framed those emerald green eyes of his. I couldn’t see any freckles, as most redheads have…of course, that didn’t mean he didn’t have them anywhere else on his ridiculously muscular body. Muscular body? Get a grip, Tess. “What about dangerous?”

He glanced at me briefly. “That depends. Do you want me to be?”

My mouth gaped open. “Do I want…what?”

Shane grinned, showing me a side-view of two rows of perfect teeth. “I’m just messin’ with you, darlin’. I’m safe to be around, I promise.” He made an X over his heart with his index finger before giving me the Boy Scout sign.

I glared at him for a moment before turning my attention out the window again. “Actually, I’m thinking about everything I need to take care of. Not just for this week, but for the rest of the summer.”

He nodded. “I’m guessin’ you go to Yale? You seem like the type.”

“And what type might that be?”

“Overworked. Overeducated. Rich.”

“Well you just have me all figured out, don’t you.” I didn’t mean to sound defensive, but the description touched a nerve.

“Oh, don’t get mad, I didn’t mean any harm by it.” He waved it off with his hand. I didn’t answer, just stared straight ahead silently stewing. He tapped his fingers on top of the steering wheel. “Well? Am I wrong?”

Shifting nervously in my seat, I thought about his assessment of me. “…no. You’re not entirely wrong. But that’s not all I am.”

He glanced my way again, locking my brown eyes with his green. “Trust me, darlin’. I know.”


“Tess?” I felt a gentle shake on my shoulder. “Wake up. We’re here.”

I didn’t remember falling asleep, but as I opened my eyes I saw we had parked in front of a small, two-story log cabin surrounded by trees. The yard was unadorned, but large — I guessed it was on about an acre of land.

My door opened and suddenly I was swept up in Shane’s arms like I was some kind of Disney Kadıköy Esmer Escort princess. “Whoa! Shane, I can walk, put me down!”

“Nothin’ doin’, the doctor said you have to rest your body, and that’s what you’re gonna do,” he said without skipping a breath as he carried me towards the house.

“So, what, you’re going to carry me around for the next two weeks?”

I felt his chest rumble with a silent laugh. “Of course not. I do have to go to work,” he said with a wink. That wink made my stomach do a little flip, but I dismissed it as nerves from being so close to a man I knew nothing about.

He set me on my feet once we crossed the threshold. The inside was cozy, but very comfortable. Tan couches and lighter wood floors complemented the dark walls. A large fireplace with and even larger flat screen mounted above it just screamed “male”. To the right was an open kitchen with bamboo cabinets and a small island. A set of teak stairs led to, what I assumed, the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. It was simple, warm and clean.

“There’s a guest bedroom at the top of the stairs with its own bathroom. My room is just down the hall. The fridge is full, mostly because I don’t cook, so help yourself,” he shuffled his feet. “Make yourself at home. I’m usually at the station for two days straight, then I’m home for three, but it’s only a few minutes down the road so I’m not too far away. There’s not much to do in town, but there’s few shops and a couple of bars. Is there anything you feel like doin’?”

I closed my eyes and swayed a little. “Shower. I need a shower.”

“Yeah, of course you want to get cleaned up. I’ll get you some towels, and, uh…I didn’t buy you any clothes to sleep in, but one of my shirts should do the trick for tonight. They’ll be big on you but they’ll cover up all the important parts.” He took my arm gently and led me slowly up the stairs.

“Give me a sec and I’ll wrestle somethin’ up for you.” As he disappeared into his room, I leaned against the bathroom door and peeked inside. The bathroom was basic — a toilet, shower and sink. It looked like it had never been used, and a shower never sounded so good.

“Hey…oh, man. Do you need help showering?” My eyes shot up to his face, which slowly started turning red. “I mean, just because you look weak, not to see you naked. Not that that would be a problem! Damnit, I mean…would you rather take a bath instead? There’s a tub in my room. Bathroom. There’s a tub in my bathroom,” he stumbled over his words. It was kind of cute, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Relax, Shane, it’s over. A shower is fine, I’ll be okay.” I gave him a smile to reassure him that I didn’t think he was some kind of pervert. I took the towels and clothes from his hands. “Thank you. Really.”

He gripped the back of his neck as he tried to calm down. “Yeah. No problem. I’ll be downstairs, holler if you need anything.” He was descending the stairs as I closed the bathroom door.


After what I can only describe as the best shower I’ve taken in my life (thank you, massaging showerhead) I toweled off and stood in front of the full length mirror hanging on the back of the door, surveying the damage. I wasn’t surprised to see dark bruises and cuts all over my mahogany skin; it looked concerning, but not a cause for alarm. My upper body seemed Kadıköy Eve Gelen Escort to bear the brunt of most of it. I turned to see my profile. God blessed me with both full-D cups and a noticeably curved behind, but also with an stubborn stomach that refused to lie flat no matter how many days I went to the gym. I threw my hands up in frustration with my banged up body, resigned to the fact I couldn’t do anything but heal. I pulled on the grey University of Texas t-shirt Shane had left for me, which hit just above my knees. That’s what happens when you’re a short-stack in a giant’s clothing. Finishing my look by throwing my thick black hair into a messy bun, I headed to find my host.

Padding down the stairs in my bare feet, I found Shane sprawled out on the couch reading a book. As my foot hit the last step he looked up and scowled. “Why didn’t you call me to help you down the stairs? You could have fallen!”

“Shane, I’m not an invalid. I can walk around by myself just fine, albeit much slower than usual. Now, do you want to scold me or do you want me to make dinner? I’m starving.”

He placed a bookmark in the book and tossed it on the coffee table with a thud. “Well, maybe scoldin’ would make you listen. That or taking you across my knee for an old-fashioned spankin’.”

I put my hands on my hips in a defiant manner. “As if I would let you anywhere near my butt. Shut up and stop flirting, you’re not cute. Do you want food or not?”

He shot up off the couch and was in front of me before I knew what was happening, for such a sizable guy he moved awfully quickly. “You’re not cookin’. I’ll make us some sandwiches.” He poked my nose with his long index finger. “And I am very cute.” He strode over to the fridge and started taking out deli meat and fruit. Muttering “smart-ass” under my breath, I went into the kitchen to join him.


While we ate, I got to know a bit about Shane Elijah Thomas. How he grew up in Texas (hence the accent), his family that were still there, and what it’s like to be a firefighter. I was embarrassingly fascinated. Most of the people I know had extensive pedigrees and were bred to be the best– he was as far removed from that kind of life as possible. He worked hard, lived simply and the most captivating thing was…he was so happy. Every time he grinned, his whole face lit up and I couldn’t help but smile in response.

“So what about you? Tell me all about Contessa Adams,” he inquired with a dramatic flair. I twisted my mouth to the side as I thought of what I could possibly tell him that didn’t sound lame. “There’s not much to tell. I grew up in New Haven. My parents are…well, you’ve met them. I’m an economics major at Yale and I’m in a sorority. That’s…pretty much it.”

He raised an eyebrow at my succinct response. “That can’t be it. Tell me somethin’ real, none of that ‘scratch the surface’ bullshit you’re serving me right now.”

I blew out a long breath of frustration. “I don’t know! My life is bland, and uninteresting. I go to school, the library, and home. That’s been my life for the past three years, and will probably be for the next four when I go to graduate school next year.”

“C’mon. What do you do in your spare time? Assumin’ you have spare time.”

I looked down at my unpainted toes and wiggled them on the cool tile floor. “…I Kadıköy Evi Olan Escort like to paint.”

“Ah-ha!” He exclaimed with a loud clap of his hands. “That’s more like it. Why do you like to paint?”

“I don’t know. I guess…it was the one thing that was just mine. Tennis, ballet, horseback riding — all that was to try and make my mother happy; and my dad convinced me that a business degree would be the most profitable when I begin a career. But I paint for myself. Trust me, I’m not very good, but I can just shut my brain off for a few hours and get lost in it, you know?” I played with the sleeve of my shirt, twisting the soft fabric around my finger repeatedly. “Not that I have time for it lately. Senior year is looking to be insanely busy.”

“If it’s somethin’ that you love, you should find time for it,” he suggested, peeling the label off his bottle of beer while he looked at me. “It’s important to have somethin’ in your life that makes you happy.”

I took my hair out of its bun and ran my fingers through it. “Yeah, maybe after I graduate. I’m getting tired, I think I’m going to turn in.”

Shane nodded and stood, then led me up the stairs to the guest room. It didn’t have much — just a bed, end tables and a dresser — but I didn’t need much, since all I was intending to do was sleep.

“I’m usually up pretty early in the morning, so I’ll try not to wake you.” He said, his broad shoulders practically filling up the door frame. “Can I get you anythin’ else?”

I gave him a small smile. “I think I’m good, thanks. Seriously. Thank you, for everything.”

“No thanks needed. ‘Night, Tess.” He turned and shut the door behind him before I could respond.

A sudden wave of fatigue hit me. I crawled between the cool white sheets and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


What’s happening?

Where is all noise? Why can’t I move?

I can’t move.

Oh God, I can’t wake up. I’m dead. I’m dead.

I shot up in a cold sweat trying to catch my breath – it seemed like every muscle in my body was pulsing rapidly. Once I convinced myself it was just a dream I tried to lay back down, but sleep refused to come. I carefully climbed out of bed and walked as quietly as I could down the hallway until I reached Shane’s bedroom door. I turned the knob and walked into the surprisingly large room; the bay window on the opposite wall lit the room with a stream of bright moonlight. Taking a few steps towards his bed, I took a minute to study his long frame. His strong, toned arm was thrown across his forehead, his breathing slow and even.

I felt foolish. Not to mention selfish — he had told me earlier his job tends to take a lot out of him and here I was about to wake him up over a silly nightmare. I turned around to leave when his sleep-heavy voice broke the silence. “You’d make a terrible cat burglar, y’know.”

I squeezed my eyes shut as if that would somehow make me invisible, and turned back around to face him. “I know. I’m sorry. I had a bad dream and I couldn’t go back to sleep. God, it sounds so juvenile, I didn’t mean to wake you up…I mean I did, but…I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m sorry.”



“Please shut up and get in the bed so I can go back to sleep.”

As I approached his bed he moved over and pulled the covers open for me. I slipped into them as quickly as I could and curled up on my side, facing him. I took a moment to gaze at his peaceful face, while observing that the man was also quite shirtless.

“Go to sleep, Tess.”

Wondering if he had a sixth sense, I closed my eyes and drifted into a dreamless sleep.

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