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Rescue After Dark is the next heart-stopping novel in Marie’s beloved Gansett Island Series, featuring Fire Chief Mason Johns and Jordan Stokes. 

They’ve both been unlucky in love. Is their luck about to change? 

Reality TV star Jordan Stokes is taking time to figure out her next move—tucked away from prying eyes in her grandmother’s home on Gansett Island with her identical twin sister, Nikki. Eastward Look is the perfect place to heal and regroup. It’s not lost on her that her sister was busy falling in love with Riley McCarthy while Jordan’s world and marriage were falling apart in front of an audience of millions. 

Fire Chief Mason Johns might put out flames for a living, but the fitness buff firefighter with a god-like body sure knows how to heat things up. When he locks lips with the island’s newest resident during a rescue, he feels an undeniable spark that he can’t ignore—no matter how hard he tries. The recovering alcoholic has had his fair share of bad relationships, but Jordan could be a game changer. 

He saved her life… but she just might rescue him right back. 

The summer is heating up as we take the ferry back to Gansett Island for another story about love and redemption and second chances. Catch up with series favorites, including Blaine, Mallory and Quinn, Luke and Sydney and of course, Mac and Maddie McCarthy.

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Rescue After Dark

Mason & Jordan

(Gansett Island Series, Book 22)

Rescue After Dark is the next heart-stopping novel in Marie’s Gansett Island Series, featuring Gansett Island Fire Chief Mason Johns and Jordan Stokes.

Chapter 1

Summertime, and the living was… not easy for Gansett Island Fire Chief Mason Johns. During the seemingly endless winter, year-round residents on the remote island counted down to the summer season. For Mason, Memorial Day weekend signified the end of peace and quiet and the start of insanity.

His department went from three to five calls a week to five to ten calls per day, and it continued like that for months. Summer on Gansett was an endless cycle of moped crashes, alcohol-related incidents, sun poisoning, falls from the bluffs, near-drownings, bicycle pileups, surfing accidents, unauthorized bonfires and the occasional house fire. At least once a week, they evacuated someone for trauma treatment on the mainland via helicopter. On the island, the saying went, if you saw the chopper coming, someone was in big trouble.

The drama didn’t end until Labor Day weekend, and while Mason enjoyed helping people and being part of the Gansett Island community, he found himself craving time away from the madness.

He rarely took a day off during the season, which meant he had to make the most of the free time he did have to get in a workout. Exercise was critical to keeping seasonal stress under control and maintaining his sobriety. As he rode his mountain bike over rugged trails on the island’s north end while fighting the brisk northerly wind that had been howling all day, he tried not to think about the piles of work he’d left behind at the station, the quarterly reports that were due to the mayor’s office or the long night he still had ahead of him as he tried to stay caught up.

Two weeks into another season, and it was living up to its reputation thus far. In fact, this year was looking to be even busier than usual. He’d stolen a rare hour to ride his bike and get away from it all before he returned to the office with a takeout dinner to finish the endless paperwork that came with the uptick in calls.

The sun inched closer toward the western horizon, giving him another hour of daylight before it became unsafe to ride on the trails, even with the headlight he’d installed on his bike. After dark, he stayed on paved roads, but he preferred the trails that wound through some of the most scenic real estate on the planet.

Or at least he thought so. Despite the madness that descended this time of year, he loved this island and all its wild beauty. He wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. When he first moved to Gansett, he’d feared that island life would be too confining, but he’d discovered the opposite was true. Island residents were masterful at keeping themselves entertained, even in the dead of winter, and he’d come to love everything about living there.

He’d reached his favorite part of the trail, the top of a hill that always sent him airborne down an embankment that veered off to the right. More than once, he’d nearly ended up in the seagrass that grew along the trail, but he always managed to right the bike at the last second. He laughed out loud at the thrill of flying through the air on the bike and landed hard, still on the bike and on the trail. But just barely.

He got his thrills from exercise these days, thirteen years after giving up alcohol. A binge-drinking habit from his college days hadn’t aged well, and he’d had the choice of quitting drinking or finding another line of work. Since he couldn’t imagine doing anything other than working in the fire service, giving up his new job as a probationary firefighter in Worcester, Massachusetts hadn’t been an option. The department had sent him to thirty days of rehab with the edict to quit drinking or find another job. So he’d kicked it, but it had been the hardest thing he’d ever done, hands down.

Staying sober had been his primary goal ever since, and fitness had played a huge role in making that happen by giving him a more productive way to spend his time away from work. He pushed himself until he was so exhausted, he fell into dreamless sleep when he finally went to bed at the end of every long day.

Sobriety was a daily challenge. He’d never lost the desire to drink, but he’d learned to control it, to channel it into more productive pursuits. Daily AA meetings helped, and he tried to never miss a day, although that became more difficult this time of year.

Mason completed one lap around the land conversancy Mrs. Chesterfield had deeded to the island upon her death, and after gauging the sun-to-horizon ratio, decided to take a second loop around the four mile path. Approaching the jump, he sped up, looking for even more height this time. As he cleared the incline, he noticed flames and smoke in the distance, which took his attention off the landing—only for a second. But that was all it took. He landed wrong and flipped over the handlebars, landing hard on his left side several feet from the path.

The impact knocked the wind out of him for a full minute. He lay on the ground, staring up at the sky, watching as daylight faded to twilight and wondering if he was badly injured or only momentarily stunned.

And then he remembered the flames and forced himself to move, to breathe, to shake off the crash. Standing, he glanced in the direction of the smoke and found the plume had doubled in size in the time he’d been flat on his back. Wincing at a sharp pain from his left elbow, he found his phone in the pocket of his jacket and called dispatch.

“It’s Mason. There’s a fire on the west side. Might be Eastward Look. Dispatch all units. I’m on my bike but heading there now.”

“Right away, Chief.”

He ended the call, stashed the phone in his pocket and fished his bike out of the tall grass, groaning when his left elbow refused to bend. “Crap.” The last freaking thing he needed right now was an injury, so he gritted his teeth and pretended his elbow wasn’t messed up as he pedaled hard toward the flames and smoke.

 

Something was wrong. Jordan didn’t know what or where or how she knew something was wrong, just that it was. The sleeping pill she’d taken hours ago had made it so she couldn’t move to do anything about the feeling of danger. Her chest hurt, like it had during the first major asthma attack she’d suffered as a child.

That’d been the first time she’d thought she was going to die, but it hadn’t been the last.

Don’t think about him

She was so tired—mentally, physically, emotionally. She’d taken the pill out of sheer desperation for some much-needed rest. While the pill had made it so she couldn’t move a muscle, her mind was wide-awake and spinning, as usual. With her identical twin sister, Nikki, and Nikki’s fiancé, Riley, off-island for a few days, Jordan was home alone in the house that Nikki and Riley had restored over the winter. Technically, the house belonged to their grandmother, but Evelyn had all but given the house to the happy couple, which was fine with Jordan.

She wanted nothing more than Nikki’s happiness.

Jordan had come to Gansett for the grand opening of The Wayfarer, where her sister was the general manager. After all the years of support Nikki had given to Jordan and her career, such as it was, the least Jordan could do was fly across the country to be there for Nik during her big weekend. Two weeks after the grand opening, Jordan hadn’t worked up the energy or desire to return to her so-called life in Los Angeles.

Things were a mess, and the last place in the world she wanted to be was alone in that massive, empty house in Bel Air. So she’d stayed on Gansett, even if she suddenly felt out of place in the house that’d always been home to her and Nik.

Nikki and Riley were so ridiculously happy that being around them was almost painful for Jordan to watch after the disastrous end to her horrible marriage to Brendan. Known as Zane, the eponymous—and yes, he’d referred to himself as such—rapper had beaten the crap out of her in a hotel room last winter, putting her in the hospital.

Even after she’d blocked his number, he’d popped up again and again, using other people’s phones to plead with her to talk to him, to beg for another chance. She’d read online that he was taking “time away” from the tour to deal with “personal issues” and had checked himself into a facility to contend with substance abuse and mental health concerns. But that hadn’t stopped him from finding numerous ways to call her.

Jordan was glad he was getting the help he needed, but wished he’d leave her alone. Each message she received from him only further lacerated her already shredded heart. She’d put everything she had into their marriage, even long after he hadn’t deserved anything from her. After living through a custody battle as a child, stuck between warring parents, the failure of her marriage weighed heavily on her heart. She’d tried so hard to make it work because she didn’t want to be divorced.

Distressing thoughts spiraled through her mind, reminding her of the mess her life had become. The sleeping pill had made her anxiety worse, which was the last thing she needed.

Her chest hurt all the time, but worse than usual now.

She wanted to rub her aching breastbone, but couldn’t seem to make her arms cooperate with the directive from her brain.

Something is wrong.

Alarm flooded her system, reminding her of the panic that came with asthma attacks.

A piercing noise sounded, adding to her anxiety. Was that the smoke alarm?

Jordan struggled to find the surface, to open her eyes, but her eyelids felt like cement weights.

Pounding footsteps came toward her, a shout that sounded like concern. Then she was flying through the air, more loud noises, a rush of cool air over her face, the press of warm lips to hers, a flood of air to starving lungs. The lips were soft against hers. She tried to get closer, to keep them there, to open her eyes so she could see the face that belonged to the lips, but her eyelids wouldn’t cooperate.

Her chest hurt so badly, it was almost all she could feel, except for those lips against hers.

A panicked shout, more loud noises, the lips were gone, something covered her face, a sharp pain in her arm and then, blissfully, nothing.

 

“Is she breathing?” Mason asked Mallory Vaughn, a nurse practitioner who filled in periodically on the rig, and Libby, one of his best volunteer paramedics.

Mallory held a stethoscope to the stunning young woman’s chest and nodded in response to his question. Their patient had long, silky dark hair, lovely olive-toned skin, eyelashes that other women would kill for and an arresting mouth. “Her respiration is labored, and her heart rate is through the roof. Let’s get her to the clinic. I’ll call David on the way.”

Dr. David Lawrence, the island’s only doctor, was always on call.

“Do we know her?” Mason asked.

“She’s Nikki Stokes’s sister, Jordan,” Libby said. “They’re identical twins.”

That was why she seemed familiar. She looked like Nikki, but he noted subtle differences between the sisters. He’d read about Jordan and her troubles online, curious about Nikki’s famous sister after he got to know her while inspecting the Wayfarer—and after catching Jordan’s show a few times.

“Where are Nikki and Riley?” Mason asked Mallory, who was Riley’s cousin.

“Off island.”

“Good,” he said, relieved to know that all occupants were out of the house.

Mallory and Libby moved with precision to stabilize Jordan while Mason’s team extinguished the blaze that appeared to have started on the roof and then somehow engaged the chimney—or vice versa.

If he had to guess, the flames on the roof had jumped to the chimney. A creosote build-up had probably caused the chimney to ignite, which had sent smoke into the house. They would have to fully investigate, but that was his hunch.

“Good thing you saw the flames,” Libby said. “She may have had an asthma attack.”

Adrenaline coursed through Mason’s system, making him feel amped up the way he always did after a rescue. “She’s breathing, though, right?” He always cared about the people they saved, but for reasons that made no sense to him, he was extra concerned about this woman.

“She is, and we’re giving her a breathing treatment.” Mallory glanced up at him and did a double take. “What’d you do to your face?”

“Huh?”

She pointed to his left temple.

He reached up, felt wetness and winced at the flash of pain. “Fell off my bike.”

“You need to get that looked at.”

“I’ll come by the clinic after we finish here.” He didn’t mention that his elbow was either broken or dislocated. He’d see to his injuries as soon as he got the chance.

They loaded Jordan onto a gurney and rolled her into the back of the ambulance.

“Let’s roll,” Mallory called to the firefighter driving the rescue.

The rig took off with lights flashing and sirens screaming.

Jordan was in good hands with Mallory, Libby and Dr. David at the clinic, so Mason turned his attention to the smoking hulk of stone that was Mrs. Hopper’s chimney and the singed roof on the north side of the chimney, wondering what could’ve sparked a fire on the roof. Nikki and Riley had done a ton of work to the house over the winter. Hopefully, there wouldn’t be too much damage inside from the fire that’d been contained mostly to the roof and chimney. They’d need some repairs to both.

He tried to shake off the jitters that followed the rush of running into a burning building and bringing someone out alive. The amped feeling stayed with him as he supervised his firefighters, inspected the damage and tried to pinpoint the source of the fire as his mind raced while he tried to process a strange occurrence.

When he’d put his mouth on Jordan’s to blow air into her lungs, something he’d done hundreds of times in the past, the craziest thing had happened. She’d moaned and moved her lips as if to kiss him. That’d certainly never happened before, and it was for damned sure he’d never felt a current of electricity zip through his body while administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to anyone else.

What the hell was that about?

 

Chapter 2

Everything hurt. That was the only thought in Jordan’s mind as she opened her eyes to a flood of bright light and frantic activity happening around her. Where was she? What’d happened? Then she remembered her fear that something was wrong and felt panicked as she struggled against the mask on her face, wanting it off.

“Easy. You’re fine.”

Jordan recognized the female voice, but couldn’t place it. Her eyes were still too heavy to stay open for more than a second or two.

The next time she came to, she was in a dark room, the mask still on her face and something beeping next to her. In her hand, she found a device with a button on it that she pushed, recalling the look and feel of the nurse’s call button from too many hospital stays to count while battling asthma as well as the recent one after Brendan…

No. Don’t. Just don’t go there.

Jordan didn’t want to think about him now or ever.

A young woman wearing light-blue scrubs came into the room. Her blonde hair was in a ponytail as she quickly checked the monitors and adjusted the IV taped to Jordan’s right hand. “You’re doing great. EMS gave you a nebulizer treatment, and your respiration is much better.”

The words “nebulizer treatment” took Jordan back to a childhood filled with asthma attacks and other associated respiratory illnesses.

Jordan recognized the woman as Katie McCarthy, who was married to Riley’s cousin Shane. She’d met them at the Wayfarer opening. She reached for the mask covering her nose and mouth.

Katie held it aside for her.

“Do I have to stay?” Jordan’s tongue felt too big for her mouth, and her throat hurt.

“Just for the night so we can monitor you.”

Jordan closed her eyes against a rush of tears. It’d been years since she’d had an attack, and she couldn’t figure out what would’ve caused one out of the blue like this. She tried to put the pieces together, to think about how this could’ve happened, but she was so out of it that the pieces refused to add up. “Someone was there…”

“Yes, thankfully the Gansett fire chief, Mason Johns, saw the flames and got you out of there. You were barely breathing when he found you.”

The lips. She remembered the lips. Had they been Mason’s lips?

“My chest… Hurts.”

“I know.” Katie’s eyes and demeanor were kind and caring.

Jordan wanted to beg her not to leave. “The house…” Nikki would kill her after the time and effort she and Riley had devoted to remodeling it.

“From what I heard, the fire was contained to the roof and chimney, and the fire department got there quickly. The house should be fine.”

The flood of relief made it easier to breathe.

Katie set the mask back in place, over Jordan’s nose and mouth. “Shane called Riley to let them know what happened.”

Jordan absorbed that info with a sinking feeling. Nik and Riley had been so excited to spend her rare night off on the mainland to shop for their upcoming wedding.

“Slim is flying them back to the island. They should be here soon.”

She felt sick knowing she’d caused their getaway to be ruined, not to mention that Nik would be panicked to hear that Jordan was in the hospital—again.

No matter how hard Jordan tried, she couldn’t stay awake, but the noises of the machines kept causing her to jolt awake, as if she’d been dreaming of being chased and came to at the critical moment of being caught.

One of the times, she awakened to a large man sitting in the chair next to her bed. In the murky light, she could only make out the shape of him, and at first, she thought she was still dreaming. He had his arm in a sling, and a white bandage on his forehead stood out in stark relief against tanned skin.

“Hey.” He leaned in toward the bed. “I’m Mason Johns from the fire department. Katie asked me to sit with you while she tends to another patient. How’re you doing?”

She fumbled with the mask over her mouth and managed to remove it. “I’m okay. You were the one who rescued me.” Her chest hurt a little less than it had earlier, which she took as a good sign.

“That was me.” His deep voice projected warmth, empathy and competence.

They’d been his lips, then… “Thank you.”

“No problem.”

“Your arm and your head… Did that happen when you rescued me?”

He smiled, the flash of straight white teeth visible from the glow of the monitors. “Nah, that happened before, when I crashed my bike.”

Jordan was a sucker for a good smile, and his was excellent. “How did you do that?”

“I like to ride on the paths out by the bluffs, and there’s this one little hill that’s like a ramp. I was on the ramp when I noticed the flames and smoke coming from your place, got distracted, and next thing I knew, I was flat on my back. My elbow took the brunt of the fall and was dislocated.”

“Ouch.”

“Hurt like a mother-you-know-what when they put it back where it belongs.”

“You rescued me with a dislocated elbow.”

“I did.”

“That’s very heroic.”

He laughed. “Not really. It’s kind of my job.”

She liked the sound of his laugh almost as much as his voice and wanted to hear more of both. “Have you been a firefighter a long time?”

“About fifteen years now, but you shouldn’t be talking. You need to put the oxygen mask back in place.”

Jordan made a face that she hoped conveyed her displeasure. “I don’t like it.”

“No one does, but you need it.”

“I feel better.”

He affected a stern expression. “Doctor’s orders.”

She scowled at him. “And here I thought you were nice.”

He laughed again. “I am nice, and I want you to get better.”

Katie came into the room. “How’s the patient?”

“She doesn’t like the mask.”

“No one does.” She checked the monitors and said, “Your respiration is much better. I think we can switch to the nose plugs.”

“Oh yay,” Jordan said.

Katie smiled at Jordan’s lack of enthusiasm. “I’ll be right back.”

“Congrats on the upgrade,” Mason said.

“I guess it’s better than the mask, but what I really want is to get out of here.”

“That’s not happening tonight.”

She stuck her bottom lip out. “I know. I heard.”

“It’s better to let them monitor you before you leave. You wouldn’t want to have problems when you’re home alone.”

“I won’t be home alone. They called my sister and her fiancé. They’re on their way back to the island now.”

“You won’t be happy to see them?”

“I feel bad that their night away got cut short because of me. They were looking forward to it.”

“I’m sure they’re concerned about you.”

“And how their house nearly burned down on my watch.”

“They won’t blame you.”

“What happened anyway?”

“Not sure yet, but if I had to guess, something sparked the roof, which sparked the chimney and forced smoke into the house. My guys are investigating. We should know more in the morning.”

“You’re the boss, huh?”

“Yep. I’m the fire chief.”

“I heard that I didn’t get saved by just any rescuer. I got the big boss.”

“That’s right,” he said, smiling. “Some of the guys were jealous because I got to rescue you.”

“Because they know who I am.” That left her feeling deflated. Of course they’d seen the video. Mason probably had, too.

“I guess so.”

She turned her head toward him. “You don’t know who I am?”

He shrugged. “Maybe, but only because I saw your show a few times.”

“You did?” Jordan found that shocking. “Seriously?”

“Yes,” he said, laughing. “It was good. But for the most part, I don’t follow social media or pop culture. I’m told I’m a dinosaur.”

“I find that rather refreshing.”

“I don’t get why people have to live their whole lives online. I’d rather be riding my bike or out on a boat or anywhere other than chained to a computer or phone. Although I can’t go far without my phone, especially this time of year.”

She chose not to mention her ten million Twitter and five million Instagram followers to someone who disdained social media. “The summer is busy for you.” In all the years she’d been coming to Gansett for the summer, she’d never once considered what the season would be like for public safety workers.

“It’s insane.”

“Do you hate it?”

“Nah. Fortunately, it’s only a couple of months. The rest of the year is a cake walk in comparison. What about you? Is there a busy season in your job?”

Jordan thought about that for a minute. “I don’t really have a job.” Gigi, her best friend, attorney, new manager and costar on the show, was trying to get her out of the contract for another season of the show. Jordan also had a divorce to contend with, but nothing could happen there until Brendan got out of rehab. “I’m trying to figure out what’s next.”

“Gansett is a good place to do some thinking. A lot of people come here to regroup.”

“I guess.”

Katie returned with the nose prongs, which were a big improvement over the mask, but Jordan had always hated them, too. She’d had far too much experience with medical breathing equipment to like any of it.

“Better?” Katie asked as she removed the mask and the tubes attached to it.

“Much. Thank you.”

“Do you need anything?”

“I’m actually kind of hungry.”

“I am, too,” Mason said. “How about I make a run to Mario’s for us?”

“You don’t have to do that. You must be wanting to go home after working all day, not to mention your elbow has to be killing you.”

“It’s fine. I don’t have anything else to do tonight, and we’re both hungry.”

“If you’re sure it’s not a problem.”

“I’m sure. What do you like?”

“A house salad with vinaigrette would be great.”

His brows furrowed comically. “That’s an appetizer. What do you want for a meal?”

“That is a meal for me.”

“That’s not enough. I’ll get a pizza. You can have some of that.”

“I’ll only eat cheese or veggie. I’m a vegetarian.”

“I can do that. Be right back.” He stood to his considerable height and was gone before Jordan could object to his desire to feed her.

She couldn’t recall the last time she’d had pizza, but the thought of it had her mouth watering in anticipation. “That is one tall dude,” she said to Katie.

“I know. I asked him once how tall he is, and he said six-six.”

“Damn.” That made him more than a foot taller than her than her petite five-two.

“Nicest guy you’ll ever meet. Everyone loves him.”

Jordan wondered why Katie was telling her that. Was she playing matchmaker? Because the last thing in the universe Jordan was interested in was anything having to do with the male species. She was done with men and all the nonsense that came with them. The last one had nearly killed her, and had ruined her interest in other men.

She agreed that Mason seemed like a nice guy. He would make some lucky girl very happy someday. That lucky girl was not going to be her.

While Mason was gone, Jordan dozed and dreamed and woke to the scent of pizza. “You’re back.”

“I told you I would be.”

Jordan was conditioned to expect nothing so she wouldn’t be disappointed, which forced her to admit she hadn’t actually expected him to come back. Brendan would’ve gotten sidetracked by a fan or a post or a video or something and forgotten all about her being hungry. That’s what she was used to. She started to push herself up in the bed.

“Hang on.” Mason found a button on the side of the bed that did the work for her.

“That’s handy.” Until she’d tried to sit up, she’d had no idea how exhausted she was. Between the asthma attack and the lingering effects of the sleeping pill, she had the coordination of a weak kitten.

Mason set the food on a tray, dropped the rail on the side of her bed and rolled it in close enough for her to reach.

“Thank you. It was nice of you to bring me food.”

“I’m hungry, too, so no problem.”

While she picked at her salad, he dove into a meat-lover’s pizza, devouring three slices in the time it took her to take five bites of lettuce and cucumber. Mario’s always included shaved parmesan cheese on their house salad, which she loved.

Mason put a piece of cheese pizza on a paper plate and pushed it in her direction.

Jordan eyed it with lust in her heart. The days of having to watch everything she ate had ended with her reality TV career, but the habit of denying herself was so ingrained as to be almost impossible to overcome.

He pushed it another inch closer. “I told them to keep two slices meat-free for you. You’re not going to let me down, are you?”

“You’re the devil.”

“You had a close call tonight, superstar. At this point, I’d be asking myself—if this had been it for me, would I be glad I’d given up pizza for years so I could look a certain way? My answer would’ve been hell no.” He gave the plate another nudge in her direction. “Eat the pizza. Dance in the rain. Live your life. You never know how long you’ve got. Don’t have regrets.”

He would never know how much she’d needed that reminder or how far she’d strayed from living her best life in the last few years. Jordan picked up the slice of pizza and took a huge bite.

Mason grinned at her, letting her know he wholeheartedly approved of her decision.

Jordan had never tasted anything better than that sinful bite of cheese pizza. She took a second and third bite in rapid succession.

“Don’t choke. I’ve already had to save your ass once tonight.”

She sputtered with laugher and nearly lost the mouthful of pizza. In addition to being bad for her diet, he was also funny and seriously cute, if a six-and-a-half-foot-tall guy could be called “cute.”

His brown hair was streaked with blond highlights, and even though it was only June, his handsome face was already as tanned as most people would be by the end of the summer. He must’ve spent a lot of time outside.

“Thanks for getting the food. It’s really good. I owe you for my half.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I will worry about it.”

“Suit yourself. I am not worried about it.”

“I’ll pay you back.”

“Have some more pizza and stop fretting about things that don’t matter.”

“Are you always so blunt and bossy?”

He paused before attacking his fourth piece of pizza. After chasing the bite with a mouthful of water, he blotted the grease from his lips with a napkin.

Jordan zeroed in on the lips that had breathed air into her lungs and electrified the rest of her, which was so silly. He’d been saving her life, not trying to kiss her.

“I guess I’m pretty bossy sometimes, because I have to be. Got a lot of younger people working for me, and they require a certain amount of direction.”

“How so?”

“Well, for one thing, they all think they deserve an award for showing up. Blaine, the police chief, says it’s because they were raised in the everyone-gets-a-prize generation in which they got certificates and trophies for ninth place.”

Jordan laughed. “I’ve got a few of those on my shelf at home.”

“What did you play?”

“I was a cheerleader and dance team member, and I played soccer and lacrosse. Lotta trophies and certificates.”

“I’ll bet.”

“What else do your people do that annoys you?”

“They’re cell phone addicted.”

“Guilty as charged. I was just wondering if you’d thought to grab my phone when you were rescuing me.”

He gave her a salty look. “Sorry that I was more concerned with the fact that you didn’t appear to be breathing than I was about your phone.” His tone positively dripped with sarcasm.

Jordan loved sarcasm. “I’ll let it pass this time, but the next time you rescue me, if you could make it a package deal with my phone, I’d really appreciate that.”

He rolled his brown eyes dramatically. “I’ll make a note of that.”

“You won’t make a note, because you don’t get it.”

“You’re right. I don’t get the obsession. I’m tied to a phone around-the-clock due to my job. If I didn’t have to be, I wouldn’t. Trust me on that.”

She gave him her best horrified look. “But how would you keep in touch with everyone you’ve ever met if you didn’t have your phone with you?”

“I can think of much better ways to ‘keep in touch’ than through a cell phone.”

Jordan also appreciated a good double entendre. Her rescuer was not only handsome and sweet, he was also witty and charming, which was far more dangerous than smoke for a girl recovering from a badly broken heart.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 

~ Calvin Coolidge

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