The Flames series really began with Kayla Brooke. All the way back in 2006-2007. I don’t remember exactly, only that my husband and I were still living in our apartment. I only wrote maybe two scenes back then. After that, Flames of Redemption spent about another 6 years simmering in my head. By the time I’d committed the final version to paper(okay, screen), the idea had changed but not completely. The main character was still a female firefighter. Her father was still a retired firefighter. She still had a younger brother. Besides that, I don’t remember a lot of the details of the original version. But, I’m sure this one was better than the first would have been.
Kayla is the older child of Zachary and Chrissa Brooke. She grew up with her uncle, James, as almost a second father figure, though. When she decided she wanted to get into the investigation side of the fire service, he’s the one who trains her. She’s a bit on the reckless side, not always thinking things through before she acts. Despite his arguments to the contrary, this is one of the things that draws Adrian Riley to her, even though he’s always thinking things through.
James sighed. “You have this tendency, Kayla, to be reckless. For making decisions without thinking them through first. Do you know what they call a firefighter who makes impulsive, reckless decisions?”
“What?” she asked, her mouth dry and scorched as if she’d walked through a fire.
The single word slammed right through her. Dead, like Josh, who had made an impulsive decision to try to save the dog instead of staying with her. Dead, like more than one of the firefighters who had been at the department when she first started. Not all of them died in fires. Sometimes it was just a tragedy, like Whitney and Trent.
Her uncle closed his eyes, rubbing his fingers over them, usually a sign his frustration was reaching its limit. “You’re so much like your father,” he finally said, dropping his hands to the desk.
The change in focus surprised her. “What do you mean?”
“He’s impulsive, hot-headed. A good firefighter. I always thought he was one of the best. He could have climbed through the ranks if that’s what he wanted.”
“It wasn’t. He didn’t want to be a leader.”
James nodded. “He was always like that. He didn’t want to lead, but he wasn’t really a follower, either. Too hardheaded for that.” A small smile worked across his face. The first one she’d seen since he came into the office. “Just like you.”
She didn’t mistake it for a compliment.
“You say he’s impulsive, but he made it to retirement. That kind of defies your earlier argument.”
“Luck. Even he would tell you. He made it to the hospital more than once because of a reckless decision in the midst of a fire. You will, too, or down in the morgue if you don’t slow down and think first.” He sighed, running his hand over his head again. “Look, I used to walk into fires, too. You know that. I know you have to make split second decisions. That doesn’t mean they have to be reckless ones. If you can remember that, you might make it to retirement too.”
“I’m not even thirty. I’m not thinking about that yet.”