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Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.
Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.
Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.
Their lives may just go up in flames…
Page Count: 304
Word Count: 78840
Beth’s heart clenched at the sight of the smoke stacks, as if a fist had driven through her chest and was squeezing the meaty human drum, paralyzing it. She gripped the door handle. The faster Donovan drove and the closer they got to home, to those tiers of billowing, dark smoke, the more anxious she became. Donovan’s words replayed in her head.
It looks like it’s right next to our house.
Her heart woke from its coma and punched her ribcage like a boxer attacking a speed bag. Perspiration dampened her underarms and slicked her palms. Please, God, no. I can’t lose my home again.
The smoke stack was soon right in front of them, right where their home was located. Donovan turned down their street, and the tower of smoke loomed above them. Fire consumed the empty lot next to their house. Flames ate their way up the bark spines of pine trees. Orange flickers slithered along the length of the branches, reaching toward the roof. The fire was descending upon their forever home as a raiding army would race toward a city with swords drawn.
Donovan floored it down the street and brought the truck to a jerking stop in the driveway. He jumped out of the truck without taking the key out of the ignition. Beth shoved the door open and stumbled out onto the driveway.
“Call the fire department, pack some clothes. I’m getting the hose.” Donovan raced toward the fire and slipped around the side of the house.
Beth dug her keys out of her purse and ran to the door. Her hand shook as she unlocked it. The heat of the fire beat against her. The rancid smell of burning nature clogged her nostrils. After two failed attempts, she grasped the key with both hands and managed to get it into the hole. She threw the door open, not even bothering to shut it again, and let the smoke roll in after her as she dashed up the stairs. In her bedroom, she grabbed the portable landline headset and jabbed 9-1-1. While she waited for the operator to answer, she hurried to the closet. She yanked down two duffle bags from the top shelf. They fell to the ground. Out the window, she could see red, orange, and yellow flickering sparks drifting in the breeze.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
“There’s a fire right next to my house,” Beth panted as she rattled off their address.
“We’ve received calls about it. Firetrucks were dispatched. They should be there soon.”
“Hurry,” Beth told her. “Tell them to hurry.” The fire was nearly at their doorstep. If they took too long, there wouldn’t be a house left to save. Their entire neighborhood would be gone.
“Try to stay calm, ma’am. Help is on the way.”
Beth hung up and dropped the phone on the carpet. She ripped clothes of the hangers and tossed them into the duffle bags. Now was not the time to worry about wrinkles. If they lost everything, at least they’d have clothing, wrinkled or not. She shoved in the contents from their drawers—underwear and socks—until she could barely zip the bags shut.
Donovan stood at the edge of their property, spraying the flames burning the pine trees and creeping along the grass, when she ran back outside to her car. The trunk was blanketed with soft dove-gray ashes. When she opened it, they slid back and fell through the crack into the trunk. She hefted the duffle bags inside and dashed back into the house. In a large white garbage bag, she stuffed in their bed comforter and two pillows. Then she snatched a backpack from the closet. Before she left the closet, she grabbed one last thing that hung at the very back—her wedding dress. She wasn’t an overly sentimental woman, but she didn’t want her dress to become ashes. After depositing the garment bag with the bedding, she hurried to the filing cabinet that contained all their important papers and family photos. She tucked the folders into the backpack.
Outside, she found Donovan had brought out their ladder. She craned her neck to look for him and found him standing on the roof, near the edge, attacking the fire with their garden hose.
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