Well, you know I have to promote my upcoming work sometime. In case you don’t know the series, it’s about the lives and loves of seven heroes – smokejumpers from Missoula Montana. A lot of research went into the project, including about the profession and the amazing city. I’ve been thrilled to highlight seven powerful, dominating men who just might take your breath away. Coming April 20th…
“Holy Christ. The fucker is burning hot.”
Sawyer Lincoln wiped soot from his face and panted as he turned in a full circle, studying the swaying trees. The one hundred and fifty foot tall pines were blowing in the wind as flames jumped from tree to tree, creating shooting embers. Ash rained down like graying flecks of snow, blanketing the entire area. “Boone. Get back here!” Boone Martin was his best friend and they were required to stick together, creating control lines on the right flank of the massive fire.
“We have some issues over here,” Boone called back, his voice muffled by the wind and swirling smoke.
“Call it in,” Sawyer could barely hear his voice. Growing concerned, he hopped over various limbs already cut by the other smokejumpers, trying to focus as the air became difficult to breathe. Within seconds, he could tell the reason for Boone’s mesmerizing gaze. The fire that had been thought to be contained had been ignited by a series of falling trees, flames licking up the mountainside. “Boone. Call it in!”
Boone shifted sideways and grabbed for the radio. “Giovanni. Sheffield. On the West side. Need your attention. You should set up a burnout.”
“Copy that,” Antonio Giovanni called back within seconds, the voice pattern scattered.
They were all exhausted after almost six continuous hours.
Sawyer could swear he heard a distinct sound, one unlike any aspect of controlling the fire. Turning, he glanced toward the edge of a cliff, the area leading down to a pasture. They were trying desperately to turn the fire away from the hallowed grounds, hundreds of acres of free range. While the grasses weren’t to the brittle stage yet, any firebrands could potentially set off a cataclysmic reaction, the large embers creating a fire devil, the whirlwind of fire all consuming. There were too many ranches within a few miles, let alone the wild horses.
“The Rattlesnakes had damn well better be on the East side or I am kicking their mother fuckin’ ass myself,” Boone huffed and headed in Sawyer’s direction, stopping short when they both heard a noise.
“Shit!” Boone jumped back as two massive tree tops tumbled down, the hard thudding vibrating the ground.
Reaching out, Sawyer grabbed his arm, yanking him out of harm’s way. “What’s with you today? Trying to get yourself killed?” The Rattlesnakes. The larger smokejumping crew had also been called out, but they hadn’t seen them in any manner, including help from overhead planes. Dear God, they could use the airborne fire retardant about now.
“I’m fine.” Boone gave him a nasty look.
He was well aware Boone had been embroiled in an argument with the other smokejumping team and the Rattlesnakes weren’t the kind of firefighters to take any shit. “Right. You’re like a damn bull in a china shop today. We need to finish these control lines. I’d like to get out of here at some point.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” Boone waved him off but tugged his ax from his belt, grumbling as he moved closer to the wide ditch.
After waiting until his buddy was in position, Sawyer swung his ax, the sharp blade cutting through the rocky terrain, stumps and snagging underbrush. They were being followed by Garcia Puevos and Zane Grey, using picks to cutaway the dirt. Shit. He could barely see anything in front of him. After taking another swing, he noticed four members of the team racing toward the flames. Thank God, two groups of firefighters were on the ridge, shooting lake water in an effort to squelch the embers. They had to get the damn thing contained.
They worked side by side for several minutes until the same sound drew Sawyer’s attention again. Rubbing his arm across his brow, he could swear he heard the whinnying of horses and hadn’t realized he was walking toward the craggy edge of the cliff until he heard Boone’s voice.
“Would you look at this shit?” Boone pointed just as two flares popped over their heads.
Scanning the sky, he watched until the fire sticks were out of sight, cringing the moment he heard a mild explosion. Both Landen Weaver and Stoker Hansen were excellent achieving their intended target. Everyone was working in precision today. “What are you talking about?” He took long strides, realizing Boone had moved out of position once again.
“Loggers. This is a protected area. What the hell are they doing here?” Boone pointed.
After closing the distance, he studied the slash, debris left by a careless crew. Either that or one that had been discovered doing illegal activity. Damn the bastards. They had enough shit to deal with. This would only add extra hours that they didn’t need. “We need to get this out of here. More fuel.” He flicked on his radio. “Giovanni. Need a clean-up crew.” He knew that Antonio was doing his best staying in control of the eight other men on the Jackal team, but something had changed in him, as if he no longer wanted the gig.
“Washington, Frost. Head to the West side,” Giovanni instructed.
“God damn. This is going to take us hours,” Boone noted.
“We’re going to need to burn every bit of debris.”
“Yeah. Might as well get going.”
The smoke continued to swirl, creating pockets of blackness but they could both feel steam as water was pumped from the ridge. They were finally making some headway.
“What do you guys have?” Moose Washington swung around the corner, Steel Frost at his heels.
“Slash from a bunch of loggers,” Boone answered.
“Let’s get it out of the way,” Moose huffed and swung into action, using his muscular torso to grab a load of limbs and sticks.
Sawyer continued with the ax, cutting through lower limbs, making a wide berth.
The sound carried this time, somehow cutting through the foggy haze. He knew the sound damn well given his ranch and the horses he’d hand selected over the last few years. Trotting toward the edge, he peered down at the ravine. A massive group of mustangs were racing across the terrain, heading to safety, their long manes dancing in the wind, their hooves kicking up dust as they raced toward the protection of the river.
Sawyer found himself getting as close to the edge as possible. His heart was racing, his breath skipping, and it had nothing to do with the fire.
Standing just in front of the herd was a beautiful wild mustang. Almost pure white, his mane somehow glowed in the smoky late afternoon sun. From where Sawyer stood, he could swear there wasn’t a single mark on the beautiful steed. Just pure white. Yet the Mustang’s eyes were penetrating, as if looking into Sawyer’s very soul.
What do you think? He’s my gentle Dom, a kind hearted soul with a penchant for danger.
Look for two fabulous guests in the next few days…
Have a great Sunday.
And – if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive a copy of Firestorm – Riker’s story and the one everyone was waiting for.