After fighting a brush fire at the base of Cedar Ridge for ten straight hours, Aidan Kincaid had only three things on his mind: sex, pizza, and beer. Given the way the day had gone, he’d gladly take them in any order he could get them.
Not in the cards.
He and the rest of his fire crew had finally managed to get back to the station. They’d been there just long enough to load their plates when the alarm went off again.
“What the hell!”
“Gonna break the damn bell and shove it up someone’s—”
“This is bullshit …”
Whoever said no one could outswear a sailor had never lived in a firehouse. Ignoring the grumbling around him, Aidan pushed his plate away and met his partner Mitch’s gaze.
“Gotta be a full moon bringing out the crazy,” Mitch said.
“Maybe the crazy just follows you,” Aidan suggested.
In turn, Mitch suggested Aidan was number one. With his middle finger.
They’d been playing this game since first grade, when Mitch had stolen Aidan’s lunch and Aidan had popped him in the nose for it. As punishment they’d had to pick up and haul trash for the janitor for two weeks.
The two of them had become best friends and had spent the next decade being as wild and crazy as possible.
Eventually they’d grown up and found responsibility, going through the fire academy and now working as Colorado Wildland firefighters for their bread and butter, volunteering on the local search-and-rescue team as needed. And here in Cedar Ridge they were needed a lot. Lost hikers, overzealous hunters, clueless novice rafters—you name it, they’d been called to save it.
Tonight’s fire call came in as a possible suicide jumper off the courthouse, which at five stories was the highest building in town.
As they pulled up, they could see a woman had climbed out a window on the fifth floor. She stood on a ledge that couldn’t have been more than a foot wide. Wearing nothing but her bra and panties.
“Well, at least Nicky left her Victoria’s Secrets on this time,” Mitch noted.
Nicky was a bit of a regular.
And Mitch was right. The last time Nicky had gotten upset was after finding the town’s councilman she’d been sleeping with going at it on his desk with his assistant. She’d stripped all the way down to her birthday suit before covering herself in Post-it notes. Aidan wondered what had set her off this time.
“I changed my mind,” she screamed, jabbing a finger down at them. “I don’t want to die! He’s not worth it!”
No Post-it notes this time. A bonus. The police had blocked off traffic, but the scene was still chaotic.
“Somebody get up here and save me!” Nicky yelled. “If I fall and die, I’m going to sue every one of you for being so freaking slow! Honest to God, what does a girl have to do to get a rescue around here?”
“So she’s changed her mind,” the captain said dryly to Aidan and Mitch. Aidan and Mitch exchanged glances. No one could reach her from inside the window. And climbing out on the ledge wasn’t an option; it was too narrow—and decomposing to boot. And thanks to the layout of the building and the hillside, their truck couldn’t get close enough to the building to be effective either.
They all knew what this meant. One of them was going to have to follow the half-naked crazy chick out onto the ledge. There were a few problems with this.
Aidan and his team had a reputation for being unflappable and tough as nails, but the truth was, plenty unnerved them—including a half-naked crazy chick on a ledge five stories up. They’d just learned to do whatever needed to be done, no matter what.
“Let the fun begin,” Mitch muttered.
Plan A was for the captain to head inside and attempt to talk Nicky back inside the window. Since Plan A had a high potential for going south, Plan B was to be run simultaneously—head to the roof and begin setting up rigging for an over-the-roof retrieval.
Through it all, Nicky never stopped screaming at them, alternately begging them to hurry and hurling insults their way.
Then came the cap’s radio message: “Yeah, so she’s declining to crawl back in the window because there’s no press here yet. Last time she was front-page news.”
Onward. The team found a good anchor spot on the roof. As Mitch and Aidan were the two most senior members of the unit, one of them always took lead. Mitch looked at Aidan. “Okay, go make like Spider-Man and rescue the damsel in distress.”
“Why me?” Aidan asked.
“It’s your turn.”
“Hey, you’re the one who likes her undies,” Aidan pointed out. Not that he objected to a rescue, any rescue, but this one had shit show written all over it.
“I weigh more than you do,” Mitch said logically.
Only because he was six foot four to Aidan’s six two, but whatever. The team got the line set up, and then Aidan got into his five-point harness and hooked himself to the first of the two lines. Mitch hooked up to the second one just in case Aidan got into trouble, and the rest of the unit prepared for go time.
Aidan dropped over the edge. The plan was to rappel him down until he hung ten feet above Nicky. He’d then kick out from the building at the same time that his team lowered him eleven more feet, bringing him to just below her, putting him between her and the fifty-foot drop. He’d attach a harness to Nicky, and the team would give them enough slack so that Aidan could rappel down with her.
And the team indeed lowered Aidan to just above Nicky. Aidan kicked out. But as usual, nothing went to plan. Just as he started to swing back toward the wall, Nicky leapt off the ledge like some rabid raccoon and wrapped herself around him.
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