“Welcome to New York.” Warm, calloused fingers engulfed Flynn’s freezing hand,
followed by an enthusiastic pumping. “I’m Chief Tanner May. Sorry the weather’s not treating
“G’day, Chief.” Flynn returned his grin, even as what felt like a million shards of ice
lashed at his face and hair. “No worries on the weather, although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t
thinking of the beach back home right now.”
“Ah, that’s right.” Tanner laughed, seemingly oblivious to the crypt-like air and wind
assaulting them. But then, Flynn thought, a New Yorker wouldn’t be fazed by such weather. In
the same way Flynn wouldn’t think twice about heading outside back home on a day even Satan
would consider too hot. “It’s summer in Australia, isn’t it.”
“It is, sir.” Flynn suppressed a shiver. Well, tried to. He failed.
Tanner laughed again. “I saw that. C’mon, let’s get you inside so you can meet the rest of
Ladder Co. 42. And no calling me sir, got it? It’s Tanner or Chief.”
Flynn grinned, falling into stride beside the massive man. “Got it, Chief. Is it always this
Tanner cocked him an eyebrow, a jovial smirk dancing beneath his moustache. “You’ve
arrived just in time for a history-making cold snap, Boomer.”
Flynn’s laughed. “That’d be right.”
Tanner chuckled. “Think my boy got the better end of this here exchange program. You
get to freeze your ass off while he gets to soak up the summer on the beach. Y’know, I don’t
think Bromwich’s ever seen a beach. We may not get him back.” He slapped a hand on Flynn’s
shoulder. “What are your thoughts on staying permanently?”
Before Flynn could answer, they crossed the threshold of the door leading into the
stationhouse and the cold vanished. Replaced by a heat that had nothing to do with the windows
and walls keeping the New York winter at bay, and everything to do with the man currently
taking the blood pressure of a firefighter almost the same size as Tanner.
Flynn’s mouth went dry.
His chest constricted.
His gut clenched. So did his jaw.
His balls—a few heartbeats ago shriveled to the size of walnuts thanks to the icy
wind—throbbed with a memory Flynn had worked fucking hard to erase.
Jesus, what the fuck was David Ennis doing here?
“Guys.” Tanner’s booming voice echoed around the stationhouse like a canon, making
Flynn jump. “This is the Aussie taking Bromwich’s place. Here to teach us how they do things
Down Under while our boy shows them how it’s really done.” He laughed, the sound far from
Flynn took in all the hellos and welcoming nods from the men who were about to become
his colleagues for the next twelve weeks, men whose lives were in his hands as much as his life
was in theirs.
Took them all in, tried to memorize the names thrown at him with casual ease by Tanner.
Tried to appear like they were the sole focus of his attention.
He could only hope he was better at the illusion than he’d been at suppressing his earlier
shiver out on the footpath.
Because what he was really doing was fighting the need to stride over to the man with the
honey-auburn hair, blue eyes and impossibly square jaw and kiss him senseless.