Hot Shots Men of Fire #1 - Wild Heat - Bella Andre Page 0,1


She'd made a list, knew she needed to pack up Tony's clothes to give away, gather important letters and pictures, close his bank accounts, collect his mail, and tell everyone Tony had loved—and everyone who had loved him—that he was gone. But she couldn't move. Couldn't force herself to take one single step into Tony's house.

Desperation tore at her. All she wanted was to close her eyes and forget for one second. Somehow, some way, she needed to get away from the pain ripping her in two, needed to forget everything. Not just that she and her mother were the only ones left. Maya needed to forget her name, who she was.

She didn't drink much, never had, and she'd never before turned to alcohol for deliverance. But now that Tony was dead everything had changed.

She'd changed.

She shut the door without having yet set foot inside the cottage and walked past her car in the driveway, heading down the pine tree-lined street at a steady pace toward town. Tony's house was at the top of a steep hill and Maya's walk soon turned into a sprint. She gasped the clear mountain air into her lungs, running long past the limits of her endurance, every step an effort to get farther away from her pain. Her jeans and white tank top clung to her body as she tried to run away from her grief.

The casino towers on the Nevada state border rose high in the sky off to her right—with enough booze to drown in—but they were miles away and Maya didn't have much more distance in her. Still, she ran. Praying.

She knew she should be praying for a church so that she could fall down on her knees and find some solace. But she didn't want to believe in a God who could take away a barely grown boy just trying to do some good.

Please, God, you took Tony away. You took Daddy. You owe me this one small thing. It's all I'm asking.

A fresh wave of anger jolted her. Actually, I'm asking for a hell of a lot more than that. I need to find Tony's killer. And I need you to lead me to him.

The soles of her feet burned in her sandals as she took a sharp curve. And then she saw it: the Tahoe Pines Bar & Grill.

Thank you, God, she thought. And then, as another flood of bitterness descended, But I'm still not even close to forgiving you. You still owe me.

She sprinted toward the restaurant, running to purge her demons, even though she already knew sweating and panting wasn't making anything better, that it wasn't going to bring Tony back to life.

After a cursory glance at traffic, she crossed the two-lane road, coming to a dead stop in front of the restaurant. Sharp pains knifed into her stomach as she bent over her knees, sweat dripping from her forehead to the ground.

Catching her breath, she stood up and tried to open the front door, but it wouldn't budge. The sign on the door said “Come back at 5 P.M.” No wonder the parking lot was virtually empty. She didn't need to look at her watch to know it was barely midafternoon.

But a lone car in the parking lot gave her hope that the place wasn't deserted. She pressed her face to the restaurant's frosted glass and caught a glimpse of movement.


She banged on the door. She'd pay double, triple, for her drinks.

She watched herself as if from a distance, knew she was acting crazy, but it didn't matter. She couldn't stop now. Not when she was so close to becoming blessedly numb.

A guy in a baseball cap opened the door. “Can I help you with something?”

“A drink,” she said, surprised by how raspy her voice sounded. “I need a drink.”

His tall, muscular frame took up most of the doorway as he assessed her. Maya was suddenly aware of the way her damp tank top stuck to her skin, the fact that she hadn't bothered to put a bra underneath it that morning. It had been all she could do just to get out of bed and brush her teeth. Hell, she couldn't remember the last time she'd eaten.

Since she'd hit puberty, men had told her she was beautiful. That she had great hair. Great skin. Great eyes. A knockout body. And there'd definitely been times when she hadn't been above using her assets to get what she wanted. But nothing was normal anymore, nothing was