Estelle Three-Hearts has one goal for the holidays – finish her charity calendar for the ‘Smoke Detectors in Every Building’ program to provide fire safety for the citizens of Three Lakes. Luckily, her uncle is a captain for the fire department who’s recruited volunteers to pose for the sexy firefighter calendar. There’s nothing more fun to look at than half-naked firefighters all year round.
Mark Redfeather, a Firebird shifter, has learned to use his birthright for firefighting rather than fire-lighting. When his captain asked for volunteers for the charity calendar, he had no plans to participate – until he meets Estelle, and recognizes her as his mate.
Estelle is human and knows nothing about the Elder Races, but when an arsonist strikes her home and studio, Mark is forced to reveal his secret. Estelle must decide if he’s the monster she fears or the man who sets her heart on fire.
He tried to stay well off the road as he continued on his way. Nothing like having to call the paramedics to rescue his ass if a motorist slid off the road and hit him. Talk about embarrassing.
As if conjured by the thought, a bright turquoise blue four-door Jeep Wrangler came out of nowhere and skidded to a stop beside him. He jumped aside, hoping he wouldn’t get hit if the driver lost more control. But the person inside rolled down the passenger window and called out to him.
“Hey, are you lost?”
The woman’s voice held warmth, concern, and a sultry quality that caught his attention in ways he didn’t need to be thinking.
“No, ma’am. I’m headed home.”
“In a blizzard? Where are you headed?” She shot him a look implying he was crazier than a shithouse rat.
“That’s where I’m going. Can I give you a ride? No one should be out in weather like this, at least not without a car.” She leaned over and opened the Jeep’s door. “Come on. Get in. It’s warm and dry in here.”
He debated getting into a strange woman’s car, but he’d grown tired of the cold snow dripping down the back of his neck and climbed into her passenger seat.
“Thanks. It’s getting nasty out there.” He shut the door and turned to offer his hand. “Name’s Mark Redfeather.” He stopped at his name, struck dumb by her beauty.
Unusually light blue eyes peered out over a slightly beaked nose, arching dark brows, and elegant lips with the corners turned up. From what he could see of her dark hair it rested long, straight, and thick over the chest of her down jacket.
“Pleased to meet you, Mark. My name’s Estelle Three-Hearts.” She checked her mirrors and pulled back onto the road.
“Three-Hearts is an unusual name. What nation are you from?”
She smiled and it warmed his chest. “I’m half Cree through my mother. So where can I take you in Newberry?”
“I’m headed to the fire station. I’m a firefighter.”
Her eyes opened wide and a smile curled her lips, damn near curling his toes. “That’s where I’m going. I wanted to talk to your captain about finalizing the schedule for the annual holiday calendar photo shoot. Not much time to get the shots before we sell it for next year.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Couldn’t you have made a call instead of the drive?”
She grimaced. “I wish. The land lines were down from snow and the local cell tower hasn’t been repaired. I had to make the drive because I do better with voice interactions rather than email.” She laughed. “I could insult you fifty different ways on email. But in person, I know exactly what to say.”
“You’re a photographer? Where is your studio?”
“Up in Three Lakes, on the shore of Lake Superior. You folks saved an apartment building there in May.”
He nodded. “I remember. Some crazy guy ran into the burning building to rescue a child. I’m just glad the fool got out alive.”
“Yeah, I got some great shots of him coming out of the building with her.” Estelle gave him a wink. “I sometimes freelance for the local paper.” She squinted as they passed the sign to Newberry. “So, you’re a firefighter. Are you one of the ones who volunteered for the shoot?”
He hadn’t, but after having met the photographer, he’d sign up as soon as they walked in the door. Before he could answer, she squinted at him and smiled.
“I hope you’ll volunteer. We don’t get many Native American firefighters in the calendars. A lot of women would buy the calendar just to see you. I’d buy it for that.” She grinned and turned her gaze back to the road.
Why did that warm his heart and harden his cock? He’d literally just met this woman. But he wanted her to look at him, not just as a lovely piece of art to share with others, but also as a man she wanted. Great Spirit, I want her and I haven’t seen more than her face. And scented her interest.
She wasn’t turned on, but she still liked what she saw in her passenger seat.
“I’d be happy to volunteer, Ms. Three-Hearts. Will we be posing with only our equipment or will we have critters as well?” He hoped he didn’t have to hold an animal. Most mammals could sense his true nature and did everything in their power to get away. He didn’t want to frighten whatever animal they brought in.
“Hmm.” She bit her bottom lip in thought and his cock stiffened with the thought of her doing that action in pleasure. “I think for you, I’d have you pose with some of your equipment.”
Relief shot through him and he smiled. “That’s fine with me. Animals and I don’t always get along. Even the station Dalmatian only tolerates my presence.”
“Maybe it’s just that dog.” She laughed.
“Nope. He’s not the first fire station critter to warn me off. I don’t mind, but I don’t want to put an animal in the position of having to hang out with me or getting in trouble.” He rolled his eyes. “That’s cruel and unusual punishment.”
“Oh, a man who’s kind to animals. I like that.”