Aidan shook his head. “When?”
“A couple of weeks ago,” his brother said, with a vague wave of his hand as he dove back into Aidan’s fridge. “You were on a call fighting that Eagle Peak fire or something.”
“You mean when I was gone for nine straight days working twenty-four seven fighting that seventy-five-thousand-acre fire, trying to save a hundred homes and uncountable livestock?”
“Maybe.” Gray pulled out some leftover Chinese. He sniffed it, shuddered and grimaced, then shoved it back into the fridge. Next he found a plate of brownies and his eyes lit. “Score.”
“What about our rule?” Aidan asked. “The no working with exes rule.” He yanked the plate from Gray’s hand. “And those are mine. A woman brought them by the firehouse. For me.”
“The statute of limitations regarding working with exes is long over as it applies to Lily,” Gray said, and managed to steal a brownie off the plate, licking it to claim it.
“Are you serious right now?” Aidan asked. “How old are you?”
Gray grinned. “And plus, Lily’s not a real ex. She’s more a fantasy ex.”
That it was mostly true just pissed Aidan off. Yeah, okay, so he’d fallen hard and fast for Lily. Unfortunately the recovery from her leaving without so much as a Dear Aidan letter hadn’t been nearly so fast.
“Did you ever find out what she thought she was doing up near Dead Man’s Cliff?” Gray asked around a mouthful of brownie.
“We both know what she was doing. She wanted to see the last place Ashley had been.”
“Well she didn’t. She didn’t get more than halfway up there.”
“She will,” Aidan said with certainty. Lily was tough to the very bone, and she didn’t give up. At least the old Lily wouldn’t have given up. “What I don’t get is why Cedar Ridge now, after all this time?”
“Now, see, if you followed Buzzfeed you’d know why,” Gray said smugly, licking residual chocolate from his fingers.
Gray shook his head. “One of these days you need to do something on your iPad other than watch porn. Lily was working at some fancy spa in San Diego where the rich and famous go, not just for hair but stuff like Botox and chemical peels too.”
“What the hell is a chemical peel?”
Gray shrugged. “Beats me, but they do it, all far away from the Hollywood eye. Lily had worked her way up from cosmetologist to assistant manager. Then it got out that some celebrity client used hair extensions or some such shit like that, which was a problem because she’s in all these shampoo commercials. Word is that Lily leaked it.”
“She lost her job over hair extensions?”
“That celebrity’s kinda known for her soft tresses. The news that her hair isn’t real has the potential to backfire for both her and the salon, which lost a lot of credibility.”
Aidan went brows up. “Tresses?”
“Shut up,” Gray said. “I’m married. I know shit like the word tresses. And yeah, Lily got canned. Not only that, she was blacklisted over it. Seems that Hollywood’s got a long reach. Anyway, she needs this job. She’s got a bunch of resumes and feelers out, but so far no one’s willing to touch her. And Jonathan said it’s only a temp thing, until Cassandra has her baby and finishes her maternity leave.”
“That’s such bullshit, Lily’d never do something like that.”
Aidan stuffed in the last bite of his sandwich, thinking about Lily and how she must feel. “Anything else I should know about?”
“Yep. Shelly’s in your bed.”
Aidan nearly choked. “And you’re just now telling me this?”
Gray shrugged, snatched another brownie, and headed for the door. “She’s sleeping.”
Shelly was a local bartender and had been on their S&R team for a while until she’d broken her ankle last year. She and Aidan were long-running friends with benefits minus the friends part. They were also on-again off-again, currently mostly off.
He had no idea why she’d be here now, but he could guess. Kicking Gray out, he headed down the hall. Maybe sex with Shelly and eight straight hours of sleep was just what he needed.
He opened his door and stopped in the doorway.
Wearing nothing but his sheets, Shelly sat up in the center of his bed with a come-hither smile. “I forgot why I was mad at you,” she murmured.
“Because I work too much,” he said.
“Oh, yeah.” She affected a pout. “Seems silly now, though, doesn’t it? I read about that search and rescue of the little girl you saved from the river last week. You jumped off the bridge like it was nothing. It was … amazing,” she said a little breathlessly. “I think I need to be searched and rescued too.”
Telling himself he was game, he kicked off his shoes and pulled off his shirt, and then hesitated, suddenly feeling the need to stall. “Let me take a shower first.”
She got up on her knees and crawled toward him, hooking a finger in the waistband of his pants and reeling him in. “Search and rescue me first,” she whispered breathlessly, “then shower.”
Thinking that should be sexy as hell, he bent to kiss her, but … couldn’t. “Shit,” he said.
Shelly stared at him and then got off the bed. She bent for her clothes, pulling them on in jerky movements. “You know,” she said, no longer breathless, “if you weren’t in the mood, you should’ve answered my text.”
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