Home > Heat Exchange(6)

Heat Exchange(6)
Author: Shannon Stacey



           Chapter Two

    AIDAN WAS JUST having a beer. Shooting the shit with the guys. Figuring out when they could get in some ice time at the rink. What he wasn’t doing was checking out his best friend’s sister.

    That was Lydia over there, for chrissake. Scotty’s sister. Tommy’s daughter. She was bossy and sarcastic and pretty much the last woman on Earth he could mess around with. Except Ashley, who was all of those things and married to Danny, which put her one rung higher on the off-limits ladder. But he’d never been attracted to her the way he was to her sister.

    Last he knew Lydia didn’t even like him very much.

    So why had she given him a look that said she might have mentally stripped him naked and was licking her way down his body?

    He took a slug of his beer, trying to work it out in his head. She’d definitely been looking at him. The only other person in range had been Scotty, and she sure as hell hadn’t been looking at him like that. And he hadn’t imagined the heat, either. That woman had been thinking some seriously dirty thoughts. About him.

    Yanking his T-shirt out of his jeans in the hope it would be long enough to cover the erection he was currently rocking seemed a little conspicuous, so he turned his body to the bar and rested his forearms on it. He seriously needed to get a grip.

    He couldn’t disrespect Tommy Kincaid by lusting after his daughter. The man was not only a mentor of sorts and a second father to him, being his best friend’s dad, but he was the reason Aidan was a firefighter.

    He’d been eleven years old when his family’s minivan got caught up in a shit show involving a jackknifed 18-wheeler, two other cars and a box truck full of building supplies. His memories of the accident itself were hazy. Screeching tires. Shattering glass. His mother screaming his father’s name.

    But the aftermath imprinted on his memory so clearly it was like a movie he could hit Play on at will. A police officer had gotten them all out of the vehicle and Aidan had held his little brother’s hand on one side and kept his other hand on his little sister’s baby carrier.

    A firefighter was working on his dad, whose head had a lot of blood on it. Aidan’s mom was dazed and sat leaning against the guardrail, holding her arm. When his little brother called out to her, she didn’t even look at him.

    Then a woman started screaming and there were a lot of shouts. The firefighter who was holding some bandaging to his dad’s head looked over his shoulder and then back to his dad. Aidan could tell he wanted to go help the woman who was screaming, so he stepped forward.

    “I can hold that,” he told the firefighter. “Just show me how hard to press.”

    The firefighter hadn’t wanted to. But the screaming and the voices grew more urgent and he had Aidan kneel down next to him. After making sure Bryan put his hand on Sarah’s carrier and wouldn’t move, Aidan took over putting pressure on his dad’s head wound.

    “You’re okay, Dad,” he said, looking into his father’s unfocused gaze. “Just keep looking at me and we’ll wait for an ambulance together.”

    He’d been the one to give the paramedics their information and tell them his father took a medication for his blood pressure. Then he’d given them a description of his mom’s demeanor since the accident. After asking them to retrieve Sarah’s diaper bag from the van, he’d cared for his siblings until his aunt arrived.

    The firefighter had shown up at the hospital and given him a Boston Fire T-shirt. “You did good, kid.”

    Aidan hadn’t really known what praise and pride felt like until he looked into the man’s warm eyes. “Thank you, sir.”

    “Some people are born to take charge in emergencies. It’s a special thing and not everybody’s got it. When you grow up, if you decide you want to save lives, son, you look me up. Tommy Kincaid. Engine Company 59.”

    Aidan rubbed the Engine 59 emblem on his T-shirt and smiled. He’d been only sixteen the first time he showed up at the old brick building that housed Engine 59 and Ladder 37, looking for Tommy. He met Scotty that day and together they’d never looked back. Friendship. A little bit of trouble here and there. Training. Testing. They’d been inseparable. Aidan didn’t know if it was a favor to Tommy or if Fate played a hand, but when the station assignments went out, they’d even been assigned to the same engine company.

    His extremely white-collar parents hadn’t been able to reconcile their hopes for their oldest son with his drive to serve the public, and things were still rough between them. And maybe his old man was embarrassed to only have one of his sons working with Hunt & Sons Investments—Sarah being destined for more feminine pursuits, like marriage and motherhood, according to their father—but Aidan wouldn’t be swayed.

    Tommy had become his father figure. Scotty and Danny and the rest of the guys were his brothers. This was his family, and he knew they had his back, anytime and anyplace.

    Messing around with Lydia Kincaid was a bad idea. Like a sticking a fork in a toaster while sitting in a bathtub cocked off your ass kind of a bad idea.

    “Earth to Hunt,” Scotty said, and Aidan felt an ugly jolt of guilt for even considering messing around with Lydia while standing right next to her brother, for chrissake. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”

    “Nothing. Wicked tired is all.”

    “What’s her name?”

    Aidan snorted. “I wish.”

    “Piper’s got a friend I could hook you up with. Her name’s Bunny, and she’s not bad.”

    “I’m too old for chicks named Bunny.”

    Scott shrugged. “I don’t think that’s her real name. At least I hope it’s not. But whatever, man. Your loss.”

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