Friday, May 12, 2017

#1stLineFriday with Smoke & Marines #DFRKW #AlwaysaMarine

Grab your copy!

Return to Mike's Place and the Always a Marine series with Smoke & Marines now available as a part of Paige Tyler's Dallas Fire and Rescue Kindle Worlds.

Former Marine Combat Firefighter Casey Spencer has had plenty of close calls. But after a factory fire results in the death of a dozen undocumented workers chained to their tables, he can’t sleep, barely eats, and snaps at everyone—including his fellow firefighters. On edge, he’s not ready to deal with Jane Harmon, a woman who arouses in him an inexplicable need to protect. 


The daughter of a Marine and a sister to two more, Jane recognizes duty for what it is. Surviving a house fire was only her first challenge, recovering from the burns and the trauma was the second. Physical and mental therapy are supposed to get her the rest of the way—except she’s paired with the stubborn, irritating, and sexy as hell firefighter Casey Spencer. Being around him terrifies her, but worse, it awakens a wild passion which rages out of control. 


She doesn’t want a man who runs into the fire, but can’t deny where there is smoke…there is her Marine.


Sneak Peek and 1st Line
“I hate this shit,” Casey Spencer said, stretching his legs out in front of him. Sitting in the doctor’s office meant he needed to maintain a fa├žade of calm. They loved it too much when he paced. Love might not be the right word, but Dr. James Westwood saw through him to easily.

“No one is especially fond of the process, but look at it like an obstacle course at Parris Island. Love it or hate it, you have to push yourself to achieve.” At least James understood what it was to strive and fail, then pick yourself up to do it all over again. 

“I’m sitting in a pressure cooker and it feels like they dialed it all the way up. I know the lid might blow, but I can’t seem to loosen the gauge.” Exhaling a harsh breath Casey leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs and clasping his hands together. “I need this job, James. The job is what I do.” Yes, he ran into burning buildings because someone had to.

“Are you ready to talk about last month’s factory fire?” James didn’t push him, but he also didn’t let him keep avoiding the reason Casey ended up in his office. The specialized rehab facility was a sanctuary for injured Marines, recovering soldiers, Airmen in need of assistance, and so much more. From physical to mental therapies, a veteran could always depend on the Allen-based facility for help. 

“Not really, but let’s not stand on protocol.” Sweat beaded along his spine. He could hear the flames crackling, the weight of the intense heat surrounding him, but the worst part was the smell. People joked that some charred flesh smelled like meat in a pan. “I can still smell them. I had on my oxygen mask, but it didn’t seem to matter. You can’t mistake the smell of dead people burning.”

Or forget the contorted bodies caught in the rictus of agony. While they burned alive.

“I can still hear them screaming. We had to fight our way through the fire.” It took too long. Flames climbed the walls—a curtain of it stretched across the factory floor as chemicals and treated materials went up like so much kindling.

Leaning his head back, he grimaced at the crack of his neck. The tension coiling through him contributed to his insomnia and loss of appetite. Everything hurt. 

“When a body burns, there’s more than one smell. Blood smells like a coppery, metallic component over the roasting meat…but it’s the charcoal smell of their skin burning, and sulfurous scent of their hair—it’s nauseating and it’s always there.” The scent was nauseating and sweet, putrid and steaky, or like leather being tanned over a flame. 

Perspiration beaded along his forehead. “I’ve walked through hell and back again, I’ve fought insurgents in the middle of trying to put out a fire and protect my team—I survived all of that. Why can’t I let go of these images?” 

Why did those twelve sad victims seem branded into his mind? I should have been faster. I should have gotten to them. 

“You told me they couldn’t escape, correct?” No judgment discolored James’ tone. The question merely sought to confirm what information Casey had already shared. 

“No. They were shackled to the metal tables where they worked. If they had been wood, they might have been able to break the table legs—and the tables themselves were bolted to the floor.” If the fire had been merciful, they would have died from smoke inhalation first, but they hadn’t. A friend of his at the Medical Examiner’s office told him some of the victims had identifiable scorched throats. “They burned alive, James. They were burning as we fought our way through the flames.”

“Are you blaming yourself?”

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