Meet the girls of the South Beach Firehouse, and the rookie who heats things up...
Violet can't believe her luck when she gets hired on as a rookie in an all girl firehouse on the beaches of Northern California. Her lucky streak seems endless when Sheena, a firefighter in her company, shows a decidedly hot interest in Violet.
They share some explosive moments, but then Sheena turns cold and oddly possessive. Violet doesn't know what to think, but can't stop burning with the desire to see what else Sheena might have to offer.
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Violet couldn't believe it. Not only had she passed the twelve weeks of training at recruit school, but she had already been hired at a firehouse. She was about to become the newest member of South Beach Firehouse Company A in Masterville, California. She'd resisted the urge to squeal on the phone when she'd got the call, but as soon as she'd hung up she'd been jumping up and down like a kid at Christmas. Luckily, only her mother's cat had been around to witness her display — he had given her a disdainful look, though.
It had been her first choice for firehouses — one of the only all- female firehouses in the US, and it was right on the coast of Northern California. She couldn't wait to leave South Texas, this stifling small town, and her parents' house.
They hated that she wanted to be a firefighter. Her mom kept saying, "How will you find a man to marry you when you are so buff, and risking your life in fires every day?" No matter how many times Violet had assured her mother that she was gay, her mother just wouldn't believe it. Maybe it didn't help that her favourite colour was sparkly pink, and that she had never even resembled a tomboy as a child. She just wasn't what her mother expected a lesbian to be.
Her parents hated that she would be moving so far away, even more than they hated her being a firefighter. But she couldn't breathe here, couldn't be herself. Her mother had cried when she'd found out Violet would be leaving. Her father had just looked disappointed, but hadn't said anything. The day Violet had hugged them goodbye, she'd cried, though — she was going to be alone out there, with no family and no friends. It would be an exciting and terrifying adventure.
Violet pulled in to the lot outside her new apartment late in the afternoon, then spent three hours bringing everything in from the rental truck. She didn't bother unpacking anything aside from her sleeping bag and pillow. Sleep was all she wanted after the long days of driving, and tomorrow she would meet her team. She didn't want to do that with puffy eyes and a sleep-deprived brain. Unfortunately, her nerves kept her up half the night anyway. She did manage a few good hours eventually.
* * *
She stood in front of the mirror the next day, studying her appearance. She wasn't sure what would make the perfect impression, and had changed four times already before settling on jeans and a pink tank top. Minimal makeup left her green eyes bright and she had her short, black hair smoothed straight to just above her ears. All very casual, and she felt good.
After wrapping a scarf around her head and grabbing her pink helmet, she headed out. Her pink and white scooter zipped through the city without a problem. The GPS on her phone directed her to Deputy Chief Valerie High's office. They had talked over the phone a few times and Valerie was the one who had hired her, but they'd never met in person and Violet's stomach was twisting.
Valerie's office was in a big building downtown, and the cute secretary showed her right in with a bright smile. Three people stood when she entered. Behind a large desk was Valerie, Violet assumed. She was tall with long, brown hair, dark brown eyes and a friendly face.
"Violet, I'm so glad to finally meet you." Valerie came around the desk and grasped her hand in a firm shake.
"I am, too. It's been like a dream since you called and told me I got the job. I can't wait to start."
"I'm glad to hear that. This is your captain, Lisa Long." Valerie motioned to a very attractive redhead, whose short, curly hair looked a little wild. She had pale green eyes in a freckled face. "And the battalion chief, John Porter."
Violet smiled and shook hands with them both. John's hand was fleshy and sweaty, his grip loose. She wasn't surprised — he looked like he sat behind a desk more than he did anything else. His bald head was shining and there was a bead of sweat running down the side of his face. He also looked to be the oldest in the room. Violet was surprised he wasn't Valerie's boss — she looked quite young. Of course, if his physical attributes were any indication of his work habit, she could understand how he hadn't made it any further than battalion chief.
"Valerie assures me you come highly recommended," Lisa said, with a tight smile and an unhappy glance in Valerie's direction.
Violet opened her mouth, but no words came out as she tried to think of an appropriate response. "Yes, Lisa, she did come highly recommended, and you need another person in your company, so it's a good thing I found such a suitable replacement so quickly."
"Yeah, since you left so quickly, I guess I do," Lisa snapped, then stalked from the room.
John studied his shoes and Violet stared at the slamming door Lisa had just walked out through. Awkwardness filled the air.
"Well, that is my cue to leave. You girls have fun. Nice to meet you, Violet. I hope you like it here and I am sure you will be a great firefighter." John hurried out, not even offering to shake her hand, or his superior's, before doing so.
Violet turned to Valerie, unsure what she was supposed to do. Valerie was staring at the door with so much sadness in her face, Violet couldn't believe it. She had never seen such obvious pain. As soon as Valerie noticed Violet, she snapped out of it and immediately her face smoothed into an annoyed look.
"Go ahead and follow Lisa out — she will show you to the firehouse and introduce you to her company."
"Oh, okay. Thank you again for giving me this opportunity, Deputy Chief High."
"Yeah." Valerie's eyes swept from Violet's pink tank top to her pink helmet, then back to her face. "I will check on you in a week to see how you're fitting in."
Violet forced a smile through her confusion and left, hoping Lisa hadn't gone far. Violet smiled at the cute secretary, but there was no one else in the lobby.
"Fuck," she mumbled to herself.
"She's outside waiting for you," the secretary whispered. "Honestly, I'm surprised she was in the office as long as she was."
"Thanks," Violet said, and hurried out. She was dying to ask questions but knew she shouldn't keep Lisa waiting longer than necessary.
Lisa was right outside, leaning against the building. She had one knee up with her boot against the wall and her arms were crossed over her chest. Sunglasses on and frown in place. She looked deep in thought and completely unapproachable.
"Captain Long?" Violet said, clearing her throat.
Lisa looked up and smiled, pushing away from the building. "Call me Lisa — we aren't all that formal in my company."
"Okay, Lisa. I'm really excited to join your company. I hope I can be a useful addition." She was treading carefully, already feeling rejected. She didn't know how this was going to go.
"I trust Valerie made a good decision, Violet. Don't worry about that." She looked at the helmet. "You on a bike?"
"Scooter — it's all I have for now."
"It should do you just fine most of the year around here. The A Company shift doesn't start till tomorrow and we go on a four-day rotation, so four nights in the firehouse and four out, starting at eight a.m. tomorrow."
"Oh, cool. Gives me a day to start unpacking my apartment."
"I want you to meet the girls, though, before tomorrow, so I'm having a little get-together at my place tonight." She handed Violet a piece of paper with an address on it. "Come over around six. We'll have beer and barbecue, just casual."
"Sounds great. Can I bring anything?"
"Just yourself. See you at six."
Lisa walked off and Violet stuffed the paper in her pocket. She bit her lip as she walked to her bike. If this morning's meeting had been any indication of the drama mamas she was going to be dealing with at the firehouse, she wasn't sure this would be a great choice. She hated drama, didn't need it in her life.
Violet took a deep breath and slipped her helmet on. She would just have to hope that, whatever was between Lisa and Valerie, it didn't extend to the others.
* * *
At five fifty-five, Violet was pulling into Lisa's driveway next to an orange VW convertible Bug with a surfboard sticking out of the back seat. Violet wondered if it was Lisa's. She hadn't seemed to be the type who would be so ... well ... fun. Then again, she'd been full of tension in that office. Maybe she was different when she was relaxed. Violet hoped so. It boded well for the firehouse if Lisa had a fun personality.
Next to the Bug was a purple Harley, and she wondered if that was why Lisa had commented on her helmet earlier. She'd definitely seemed more of a Harley girl than a VW and surfboard girl.
Violet walked up to the front door with a box of little pink cupcakes in her hands. Lisa had said not to bring anything, but her mother had always taught her it was impolite to show up empty-handed. Besides, who doesn't appreciate cupcakes?
She knocked loudly on the door and her heart started pounding in her chest. She was really nervous to meet the girls with whom she would be spending so much time. These women would help to keep her alive, and would rely on her for the same.
It had taken her forever to dress for this. She had finally decided on long jean-shorts and a white tank top with pink bows along half the neckline. It was too hot for anything else, anyway, and this was casual but cute — very her.
Lisa answered the door with a bright smile. "Violet, I'm glad to see you're punctual."
"Thank you, I think," Violet said with a nervous laugh.
"Definitely a compliment. Come on in."
Violet held up the box as she walked into the house. "I brought some cupcakes."
"Do you bake?"
"Yes, but I didn't bake these. My kitchen is still in a box."
"I do okay. I enjoy it, but have always lived with my parents except in college, when I was in a dorm. So I've never really had to cook much for myself."
"Well, we try to take turns cooking at the firehouse. None of us really loves it."
Lisa took the box and led Violet through the house. Living room, bar, kitchen and back patio, where a barbecue was giving off delicious smells.
"Yes, please," Violet said. She needed something to settle her nerves.
Lisa smiled and tossed her a cold beer. "So what made you come out here?" Lisa asked, settling into a lounge chair.
Violet followed, sitting across from her and taking a drink of her beer. "I prefer a warm climate and I like the idea of an all-female firehouse. No men to compete with or to think I'm not as capable."
Lisa laughed. "Very true. I think you'll fit in just great with us."
"Looks like she's fitting in quite well already."
Violet turned and nearly choked on the drink she was trying to swallow. The most beautiful woman she had ever seen stood in the patio doorway. Her bright blue eyes sparkled and her red lips twisted up on one side in a playful grin. Her short, blonde hair was tucked behind her ears. Violet stood and smiled at her, letting her gaze drop briefly down the woman's body, appreciating the exposed, tanned skin around her bright orange board shorts and white tube top.
The silence stretched on awkwardly. "I'm Violet." She stepped forward with her hand held out.
"Sheena," she said, and took Violet's hand in a firm shake. She held it for an extra long time, and let her gaze drop over Violet in an appreciative way. "So very happy to meet you. I heard the doorbell and hurried down."
"Oh, you two live together?" Violet said, her disappointment probably too obvious, but she couldn't help it. She stepped back, breaking the hand contact with Sheena.
"Room-mates," Sheena said with a wink, then walked to the ice chest and grabbed a beer.
Violet went back to her chair. Feeling a bit dazed, she took a big drink of her beer and tried to focus on what Lisa was asking her.
"I found a place not too far from here, actually, and close enough to walk to the beach when I want," Violet said. She couldn't keep her gaze from darting to Sheena, who was now standing at the barbecue. Her long legs were so shapely, and Violet imagined her ass would be just as nice under those shorts.
"That will be good, and you're close to the firehouse as well, then. How are those burgers looking, Sheena?"
Sheena turned and her gaze immediately went to Violet, making her heart speed up and her mouth suddenly go dry.
"They'll probably be done before the perpetually late Tracy shows up."
"Fuck that, it's barely after six."
Violet's attention turned to a pretty girl with long, blonde hair and pale skin. She was wearing cut-off shorts and a T-shirt that advertised Orange Crush soda.
"Yes, Tracy, this is early for you," Sheena teased.
"Tracy, this is Violet," Lisa said.
"Welcome to our little family, Violet." Tracy said, coming forward and shaking her hand briefly, then moving to grab a beer. "I've been out in the ocean all day. You're lucky I'm not passed out at home right now."
"Thanks for gracing us with your presence, Tracy," Lisa said sarcastically.
"I wouldn't turn down free food and beer, you know that." Tracy flopped down in a chair and chugged her beer. "So, Violet, tell us about yourself."
Violet sat carefully in a chair and sipped her beer, unsure how to respond to Tracy's brazen attitude. She gave a very brief rundown of her life story, and thankfully the burgers were done soon after.
Violet settled into a loveseat with her burger and salad, and Sheena sat casually next to her. Violet stiffened, but managed to keep her mind on the conversation until Sheena shifted in her seat, seemingly innocently, and her bare foot touched Violet's leg. Violet's gaze darted to Sheena, but she wasn't even looking in her direction. She was deep in debate with Tracy about which beach was better for surfing at this time of year.
Violet tried to ignore it, to not make it a big deal, but Sheena's skin was hot and soft. She wanted to reach down and bring those pedicured toes to her lips. She finished her beer and refocused on Lisa.
"Do you have any questions about tomorrow?" Lisa asked.
"No. I'm sure I'll have plenty tomorrow, though."
"You'll get to meet B Company. Felicia is the fire captain — Sam, Mary and Kristie are the crew. All very nice girls, though you won't interact with them much, really."
Sheena's toe moved then, rubbed slowly up an inch and back down Violet's leg. It was such a small movement, Violet was sure none of the others had noticed, but she had. Her body stiffened and her nipples hardened. Violet peeked over and clenched her jaw when she saw that Sheena was still talking nonchalantly with Tracy. Does she even realise what she's doing?
Violet couldn't take it — she had to stop the contact. Deliberately or not, Sheena was torturing her. Violet couldn't scoot over any farther so she crossed her legs. It should have been a smooth move to break the contact, but one leg went up and her plate went over. Her nervously shaking hands rushed to grab it and managed to deflect the spill from the seat to herself.
"Crap," she groaned, as she peeled the plate off her stomach and revealed a mess all over her white tank top. All eyes were on her and there was silence. Violet felt heat rush to her face and she wanted to die.
"Sheena, your food is so bad, people are now ruining their clothes so they don't have to eat it," Tracy joked, breaking the silence, and Lisa laughed.
Sheena glared at Tracy.
"Oh, no, it's not that bad at all. I just lack enough grace tonight, I guess," Violet said with a frown, picking lettuce and carrot shavings off her tank.
"Not that bad ..." Tracy said with a laugh, making Violet's mortification go up another notch.
"Come with me, I'll get you a clean shirt," Sheena said, standing and grabbing Violet's plate a little roughly.
Violet didn't really want to be alone with her, but she couldn't say no. She didn't have a reason that she wanted to share with everyone. As she followed she couldn't keep her gaze off Sheena's ass. It swung with each step, holding all of Violet's attention. Violet wanted to groan with how much desire this woman was inspiring in her — and so damn easily too. She didn't understand. Without a whisper or even a look of promised passion having passed between them, she was feeling like a lovesick teenager. How had Sheena managed to make her feel like this without doing anything that Violet could pinpoint or know was intentional?
It has to be all in my head. Sheena is probably straight and the next few years working next to her are going to kill me. Violet forced her gaze to the back of Sheena's blonde head as they went up the stairs and down a hall. Sheena stopped at an open door.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "South Beach Rookie"
Copyright © 2013 Courtney Breazile.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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