Make Me Burn by Marie Harte--New Release!

Make Me Burn by Marie Harte

These sizzling Seattle firefighters are melting hearts…

Reporter Avery Dearborn hasn’t had the best day. She was filmed fending off a lovesick dog before being rescued from falling flat on her face by none other than her arch nemesis. Seattle firefighter Brad Battle hasn’t changed at all in the five years since she last saw him. He’s still handsome, hot, and charming—to everyone but her.

Brad can’t believe his bad luck to run into Avery, of all people. But to make matters worse, their shared chemistry on screen goes viral. Soon he’s forced to work with her on live TV. The spot will help the local animal charity and make the fire department look good, so who is he to disobey a direct order to cooperate?


Make Me Burn by Marie HarteMAKE ME BURN by Marie Harte
Turn Up the Heat #1
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ASIN: B08GBZ34H9
ISBN: 978-1492696865

Reporter Avery Dearborn hasn’t had the best day. She was filmed fending off a lovesick dog before being rescued from falling flat on her face by none other than her arch nemesis. Seattle firefighter Brad Battle hasn’t changed at all in the five years since she last saw him. He’s still handsome, hot, and charming—to everyone but her.

Brad can’t believe his bad luck to run into Avery, of all people. But to make matters worse, their shared chemistry on screen goes viral. Soon he’s forced to work with her on live TV. The spot will help the local animal charity and make the fire department look good, so who is he to disobey a direct order to cooperate?

Trust takes time, but as Avery and Brad come to realize they are different people than when they first met, anger turns to irresistible attraction, and hard feelings into hot sex. But letting the past stay in the past isn’t as easy as it sounds. And if they’re not careful, they’ll both get burned.

The first in the hot contemporary series Turn Up the Heat.

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Excerpt:

“Oh, now that lady’s looking fine. Yep. You could do worse than that redhead, son.”

Firefighter Brad Battle ignored the Texan eyeballing the crowd and looked up, praying for rain. Spring in Seattle brought the wet weather, but not today. The temperature had warmed to a mild 54 degrees, the sky bright with the occasional fluffy cloud dancing across the sun when the wind deigned to blow. The Dog Days of Spring Festival, in Green Lake Park this year, had a decent turnout. Such a turnout, in fact, that a man with a microphone flitted around, asking people questions.

Just what Brad didn’t need. He hated reporters.

“We’re here to work, not flirt, Tex,” he said to his partner.

“You need to learn to multitask, Brad.”

“I’m listening to you while not punching you in the face. How’s that?”

Tex chuckled.

Brad glanced at his partner. They both wore Station 44 long-sleeved shirts tucked into dark-blue trousers accompanied by black boots. “Where’s your hat?”

Tex typically wore a station ballcap when on duty and his Stetson on his off-hours.

With a sad sigh, Tex said, “LT wouldn’t let me bring it today. Wants everyone to see my pretty face.”

“Pretty face, right.”

They both chuckled. With the lieutenant on them to be personable and friendly—directly aimed at Brad—there was no way Brad could duck out and avoid the press they’d been inundated with since opening up the new fire station.

Press like the man with a microphone striding toward him and smiling.

Tex saw the incoming reporter and drawled, “I got this. But you owe me drinks after.”

“You’re the man.”

“Damn skippy.” Tex intercepted the reporter and poured it on thick. “How do, friend. How about this amazin’ weather, eh?”

Brad casually walked away from his buddy and lost himself in the crowd. He watched families cozying up to a few felines under one tent. To the right, a petting zoo had been set up, and the sight of small children smiling while riding ponies eased a bit of his stress.

He saw dogs everywhere, appropriate since it was called the Dog Days of Spring Festival, and wondered how the last stray he’d fostered was doing. His work for Pets Fur Life satisfied him, helping the helpless. His mood lifted even more.

Brad continued to meander, smiling and shaking hands with the locals. This he could do. But even so, after a while, he wanted to pare down on all the people.

He dragged a hand through his hair, counting down the hours until he could go home. At the beginning of his two-shift rotation, he worked twenty-four hours then earned two days off. He had plans to hang with the guys for a few beers tonight and a hike up Mt. Rainier on Sunday. Anything to stay outdoors and away from crowds.

A commotion just beyond a copse of bushes drew him, and he nodded at folks in greeting before moving closer to watch a short woman talking to a small group about adoption. She stood on a small stage under an arch of balloons in a shower of reds and blues, dressed in colors to match. Next to her stood a dark-haired woman in glasses holding a microphone—another reporter.

He stopped at the periphery and noticed a cameraman focusing on the group, but Brad’s attention swayed toward the reporter. Beautiful, taller than the woman next to her, and smiling, she captivated with ease. He frowned. She looked familiar. But he couldn’t see so well from his distance, so he drew closer.

“Mr. Fluffy Paws loves his catnip, long walks in the garden and mice and is a raging Aquarius. So please, water signs need apply,” the shorter woman quipped to much laughter. She had cropped blond hair that added to her all-around cuteness and wore slim-fitting jeans and suspenders over a long-sleeved red Deadpool T-shirt. She held the cat up like an offering.

The reporter sneezed. And sneezed again.

“Oh, sorry.” The blond didn’t sound sorry. Especially when she held the cat closer to the poor reporter. “But let this be a lesson, everyone. Do not adopt a cat or dog if you’re allergic. You’ll only end up giving the animal back, and everyone will be sad.” She handed the cat to a nearby helper and brought out a large yellow Labrador retriever. “Meet Banana.” Several children in the crowd perked up. “He’s a three-year-old Lab needing a good home. He’s friendly and sweet. And he loves to lick.”

That wasn’t all he loved.

Brad tried not to laugh as the dog sidled up to the reporter and rose on his hind legs.

“Look, he’s dancing!” a little boy cried.

The dancing dog started humping the reporter’s leg, much to the amused snickers of those around her.

“Dang it,” she muttered as she tried to get some distance from the enthusiastic canine.

The laughing blond was no help. Nor were the amused onlookers. Brad couldn’t help joining in. The “dancing” dog and helpless reporter were cracking him up.

She tried to make the best of it by taking the dog by the paws and dancing with him; not so easy to do with one hand still holding her mic.

Brad decided to help her out since no one else seemed inclined to do so.

The reporter laughed, keeping a good attitude, and addressed the crowd. “And this is why you need dog training.”

Brad frowned as he drew closer to her. Where do I know this woman from?

“That would be my area of expertise.” A tall, older woman next to the stage nodded. “Yep. We teach the little ones how to care for their dogs and take care of a dog’s needs.” She pointed to a large stuffed dog and a monster pile of fake dog poop on the stage right behind the reporter. “Come on over and I’ll show you how we help our canine friends behave.”

And that’s when the situation went from bad to worse. Or, as Brad had the sudden thought, it all went to crap.

***

Oh no. Get off me! Please, not today.

Avery Dearborn’s best friend was being no help whatsoever as the randy Lab kept trying to advance while Avery did her best to push the beast back and keep her microphone out of its mouth.

The colorfully dressed, short blond who should have been helping and wasn’t finally choked back her laughter. In a low voice, Gerty said, “Uh-oh. Your dad’s here. And he’s looking at you.”

“This is all your fault,” Avery whispered back, wishing to be anywhere but in her particular circumstances just then.

The sun sparkled as a light wind whisked a few scattered clouds overhead. The weather was lovely. A little brisk, but the jacket she wore kept out the cold. A perfect day to film a short segment for the online e-news site Searching the Needle Weekly.

The opportunity to star in the piece that another reporter would normally be covering had been a gift from Avery’s editor. And a chance to show her father she was more than just a glorified junk-piece reporter.

Unfortunately, the excitable dog kept trying to hump her leg. The crowd seemed to grow as children and parents alike gathered to watch the spectacle she continued to make of herself. So of course her father had actually shown up to the festival in time to see her looking like a moron. His horrified expression spoke volumes.

Avery backed away and tripped over plastic poop.

Gerty burst into hysterical laughter along with the crowd. Banana woofed and licked Avery’s face.

“I hate you,” she muttered at the Lab and her best friend.

The dog cocked his head then turned to follow the trainer, who’d grabbed his leash. Behind him, Avery saw a mammoth Great Dane giving her legs a speculative glance.

She hurried to stand and pasted a smile on her face, aware her cameraman had been snickering and filming the entire time. She mentally added Alan to her revenge list.

Wiping the grass off her jeans, she pointed at the plastic poop and said to the amused audience, “And that’s why we need to clean up after our best friends do their business. Because falling into that is something nobody wants, am I right?”

Several parents nodded, grinning. The children seemed enthralled with the animals up for adoption, letting Avery off the hook. She hoped.

“Dance with the doggie again,” one of them pleaded.

“Yeah, dance with Banana. I think he likes you,” Alan said.

Gerty looked over at Avery’s dad and gave him a thumbs-up. “Keep going, Avery. You’re doing great.”

Avery’s father took one look at Avery, grimaced, then turned and, dragging her mother with him, made way for the food trucks.

Avery swallowed her embarrassment and launched into an introduction of Gerty’s newest furry friend. A gerbil, thank God. With any luck, this one wouldn’t make her sneeze.

As Gerty talked about Jerry the Gerbil, Avery happened to glance at the crowd.

And spotted him next to the stage.

The man who had been the star on her journalistic walk of shame. She’d made him a household name, and he’d been so incredibly nasty about one lousy article that he’d managed to make her question everything about herself in the process. An emotional trial from which she was still recovering, even five years later.

Bradford T. Battle. Jackass Extraordinaire. No, Sergeant Jackass Extraordinaire.

He stared at her in bemusement before his eyes narrowed and his expression turned to one of loathing.

Ah, so he does remember me.

Too bad he hadn’t gained a hundred pounds, lost some teeth or hair, and had his nose busted in the years since she’d last seen him. The jerk still had short, sandy-brown hair, light-green eyes that seemed to glow, a square jaw, and muscles on top of muscles. Oh, and even better. Not only was he a decorated war veteran, he wore a Seattle Fire Department uniform. Because apparently karma liked handsome dickheads.

He scowled.

Not one to miss an opportunity, Avery hustled to stand next to him before he could escape into the crowd. Gerty gaped, knowing exactly whom Avery stood next to. A good friend, she’d hated Brad Battle for years on Avery’s behalf.

“Well, well. Folks, look who we have here. One of Seattle’s finest. Let’s give a round of applause for the Seattle Fire Department.” She watched with glee as Brad’s face turned red. Everyone cheered and clapped, and his hands clenched into fists. Ah, he still hated the limelight. Awesome.

He managed to glare at her without glaring. Some feat.

“Oh ho,” Alan said under his breath. “More drama. What’s this?” He zoomed in on Brad. Perfect.

“Please, sir, come on up and introduce yourself,” Avery said in a super nice, super polite voice. “And tell us what the fire department is doing here today.”

Despite not liking the spotlight, Brad joined her on stage and charmed the crowd in no time. “We couldn’t pass up a chance to enjoy the fine weather while our furry friends find good homes. And of course, we’re here to make sure everyone remains safe and sound while having a good time.”

Such a Boy Scout.

“I’m Brad Battle, part of the new Station 44. We’re happy to support Pets Fur Life, a charity that helps home strays. I just want to say on behalf of my station and myself, thank you all for being here.”

“And thank you for your service,” Avery said, sincere, even if she secretly consigned him to the same hell he’d put her through.

The Great Dane barked his approval, rushing past Gerty, and nudged Avery hard. She would have fallen over the plastic poop—again—if Brad hadn’t stopped her from falling.

He pulled her close to whisper, “Still stepping in shit, eh, Dearborn?”

She muttered, “Oh, be still my heart, he remembers me,” and smiled hard back, her jaw aching.

“Wow. You guys look so romantic under the balloons!” Gerty just had to add in a loud voice.

The crowd clapped, encouraging their hero for having helped a damsel in distress.

What-ever.

They quickly parted, both wearing fake smiles.

 

 


Marie HarteAbout Marie:  Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.

The Facts According to Marie:

  • I’m a mood reader. If I read a book with a bad ending, it throws me into a funk for days.
  • If it’s paranormal, I’m digging it.
  • I majored in English and have yet to read Jane Austen. Seriously. *I hang my head in shame*
  • I’m naturally lazy but perform best under deadlines.
  • I’ve fired a 9mm pistol, a Squad Automatic Weapon, an M16A2 rifle, an M203 grenade launcher, and have thrown live grenades. And I loved it!
  • Grammar is my rock. I respect those who know when to use their, there, and they’re correctly.
  • I’m definitely a night owl.
  • Long live the Oxford comma.
  • I love books. I’ll read until they bury me, and then I’ll haunt libraries.
  • I can’t write to music or television. I need perfect quiet.

 

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