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Posts tagged ‘Flames of Renewal’

A to Z Challenge – Q is for Quinn Parnell

Name: Quinn Parnell

Age: 33

Description: Quinn is tall with a lean build. He has curly brown hair and blue eyes.

Short Bio: He has only been a very minor character in the series, so I don’t know much about his past. He is an officer with the Crystal Glen police department and often works with Adrian on cases.

Snippet:

James stepped out of his car and rubbed at his hand, still sore from his stupid move earlier that day. Maybe that would teach him to take on a brick wall. He rolled his eyes then headed up to the house. He noted the police cruiser parked at the curb and nodded at the man climbing out of the car. He waited for him to approach. “Officer…Parnell,” he said, reading the man’s badge. “I’m-”
“I know, Investigator. I was there back in February. I remember you.”
February. Back when Kayla had nearly gotten herself killed. No wonder he didn’t recognize the man. Most of what had happened that day was a blur. “I’m a friend of Ms. Takoda’s.”
“Yes, she said to expect you. You can go on in.”
James nodded at him then headed up the sidewalk. At least they seemed to be taking this seriously. Teresa had the door open before he even stepped up onto the porch. She smiled, but her lips trembled. “James.”

A to Z Challenge – P is for Pierce Riley

Name: Pierce Riley

Age: 21 years old

Description: Pierce is tall and lanky with nearly black hair and blue eyes.

Short Bio: Pierce is the oldest child of Brannon and Nessa Riley. He has two younger sisters, Lacey and Aileen, and a younger brother, Cody. He had a pretty easy childhood, despite losing his cousin, Doreen, in a house fire when they were young. Unlike most of his family, he didn’t feel like following in the family’s career footsteps. Instead of heading toward the police force, he went a more academic route. He’s been in college for a few years and thrives there.

Snippet:

Pierce glanced across the pond to where the little girl was running around with some of his own nieces and nephews and his grandpa’s dogs. He didn’t know whose she was, but there were a few new people out here for this picnic. He felt an arm wrap around his waist and glanced down at the top of his mother’s head.

“Glad you made it today,” she said. “I’m guessing we won’t see a lot of you now that the semester’s started.”

He didn’t hear a lot of censure in her voice, but he still had to keep from wincing. “I’ll try not to get too swamped this time.”

She laughed. “You say that every semester, Pierce. Then, you take on more tutoring clients and sign up for workshops and…”

He sighed. “I get it, Mom. I’m a workaholic.”

“And you take after your father, so I can only complain so much. I did marry the man after all.”

He didn’t get accused of being like his father too much. It may not be one of his best attributes, the tendency to get lost in work, but he’d take it.

A to Z Challenge – O is for Oliver Stiel

Name: Oliver Stiel

Age: 35 years old

Description: Oliver is tall and well-built. He has dark blond hair, kept cut short, and brown eyes.

Short Bio: Oliver is one of the oldest children of Roderick and Letizia Stiel. He has a twin sister, Emilia, and a younger sister, Adreana. His father is a corporate lawyer and his mother a social worker. Even though Oliver did want to be a lawyer as well, he didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Not in any real way. He didn’t approve of his father’s “wandering eye” or the fact his father was always trying to throw young women in his way. If they had been young men, he wouldn’t have been as upset.

Telling his father that was the first step in dismantling their relationship. He thought it got better when he started law school. Until he went on a path toward becoming a public defender. That apparently was not good enough for Roderick Stiel’s only son.  But, this was what Oliver wanted to do.

They spent about ten years skirting around these two issues. Then, when Emilia decided to move to the northern part of the state, he decided to follow her. He was doing work that satisfied him and comfortable in his own skin, and too bad if that wasn’t good enough for his father. Now if only he could find someone to share this life with.

Snippet:

“I think he’s too old for you.”

Oliver turned his head toward the voice and smiled at his cousin, Caitie. He couldn’t help but smile. “I was just wondering who he was,” he said. “I haven’t seen him around here before, so I’m sure he’s not another of our relatives.”

She grinned at him. “Not yet.” He arched one eyebrow at her and she laughed. “He’s Kayla’s uncle. So once Adrian convinces Kayla to marry him, he will be family.”

“I doubt that will take much. You have seen the way they are together, right. Reminds me of your parents.”

She smiled, even though from the look in her eyes, she’d noticed he hadn’t mentioned his own parents. Of course, he was even surprised they were still together. They didn’t make a good match. Not like Uncle Dougal and Aunt Shae.

“Anyway, James, Kayla’s uncle,” Caitie said, nudging him and pulling him away from his thoughts, “is taken. And straight. So, you’re out of luck there.”

Oliver chuckled. “I told you I wasn’t looking anyway. Just curious.” It’s not like he needed to be tangled with another person anyway right now. He’d just gotten out of one relationship that had turned out to be not so healthy. He did not need to fall into another one any time soon.

A to Z Challenge – N is for Neil Riley

Name: Neil Riley

Age: 20 years old

Description: Neil is tall with wide shoulders. He has dark brown hair and blue eyes.

Short Bio: Neil is the oldest child of Devlin and Tara Riley. He has two younger sisters, Corrin and Arlene. His cousin, Doreen, was born about 8 months before him. When they were four, she died in a fire. Neil, and his cousins Pierce and Lacey were the closest to her. Her death hit all of them hard.

Neil was very protective of his little sisters growing up. They didn’t always appreciate this. And Corrin, less than two years younger than him, made it perfectly clear she’d take care of herself and not let him get in the way of her curious nature. He still kept a watchful eye over both of them, but he wasn’t overbearing about it.

Like his father, and uncles, an aunt, and grandfather, Neil wanted to join the police department. He went right in that direction after high school, though at this point he hasn’t officially joined the department yet.

Snippet:

Neil glanced over to where Corrin and Arlene were standing near the edge of the pond. They seemed to be watching something, and he followed the direction of their gaze. To a young man who was tossing a ball for a couple of his grandpa’s dogs. “Who’s that?” he demanded.

His cousin, Pierce, glanced over at Neil then to where the girls were looking. “Isn’t that Adrian’s new girlfriend’s brother? I’m pretty sure he came with her family.”

Neil relaxed a bit at that. That made him practically family. At least as nervous as Adrian had been acting today, he was pretty sure his girlfriend would be family soon enough.

He glanced back at his sisters. Arlene had turned away, but Corrin was still watching the young man. He thought about warning her, to tell her she should stay away. But, he knew that would not go over very well at all. It would only push her closer to taking a step toward the guy. And for all he knew, the young man was a perfectly fine match for his sister.

Not that he really thought anyone would be. But, he did like Kayla. So, he imagined her brother would be a good person, too.

Still, he’d rather not his sister take that chance of getting hurt. But, she was just starting college, and she’d let him know long ago he didn’t get to stand like a shield in front of her. Now that she thought she was completely grown up, she certainly wouldn’t let him get away with that.

Didn’t mean he’d stop trying.

*Note: This is another snippet that doesn’t happen on the page. It would occur near the end during a Labor Day picnic at the eldest Rileys place. And Jeremiah(Kayla’s brother) and Corrin will be tangled up later.

A to Z Challenge – M is for Caitie Magaldi

Name: Cathryn “Caitie” Magaldi

Age: 28 years old

Description: Caitie is short, looks tiny but packs a punch(there’s a reason Nolan starts referring to her as “fairy”). She has red hair, freckled skin, and blue eyes.

Short Bio: Caitie is the third child of Dougal and Shaelyn Magaldi. Also their only daughter. She has two older brothers, Cormac and Brannon, and a younger brother, Gio. She had plenty of cousins on both sides of the family to play with growing up. She preferred running around and roughhousing than the calmer play some of her female cousins preferred.

She was eleven when her cousin, Doreen, died in a house fire. There wasn’t much she could do but watch as her aunt and uncle struggled to keep things together. All the family tried to help, but they had to find a way to get through it.

She followed her older brothers and her cousin, Adrian, onto the police force. Her brothers were not happy about this decision, still thinking they needed to protect her. Brann was better at stepping back when she proved she could take care of herself. Cormac refused to see her as anything but his little sister.

So after Adrian moved to nearby Crystal Glen, tired of dealing with backlash because he’d had to arrest his drug addict brother, she decided to follow him there, too. At least then she wouldn’t feel like she had to constantly measure up to her mother, uncles, and brothers. She didn’t have any desire to be a detective, at least not then, so she was on a different track than Adrian.

And she enjoyed what she did. Felt she was doing something good, something to help, something meaningful. She’s just not sure it’s still enough.

Snippet:

He heard the clomp of footsteps on the path behind them. “There they are,” he muttered before turning. An older man, probably not much older than himself, walked next to a young woman, probably only a year or two younger than Kayla.
“Officers Hamilton and Magaldi,” the man said as they showed their badges. “Which one of you called this in?”
“I did,” Nick said, stepping forward. “I’m the groundskeeper here. This is his family.”
The young woman looked over at him, and her eyes narrowed for a moment. “Investigator Brooke?”
His own narrowed now. She looked slightly familiar. Her dark red hair had been pulled back from her face. Her skin was pale and freckled. Bright blue eyes danced. He couldn’t place her though. “Do I know you?”
“Probably not. I met you at the station one day. You were there talking to my cousin.” His brow furrowed as he tried to remember. “Adrian,” she added.
That cleared it up, and he smiled. “Caitie, right? You’d just transferred here.”
She nodded. Before she could say anything else the other officer cleared his throat. “Can we get on with this?”
“Sorry, sir,” she muttered glancing away.
“What happened?” Officer Hamilton asked, ignoring James.
“I was going to knock down some of the weeds. When I got over this way, I noticed the damage. This plot is always well taken care of. I hardly ever have to do any work here. The family keeps it looking nice.”
Caitie moved around them to look down at the graves. “God,” she whispered then glanced up at James. “Your son?”
His heart clutched, then he nodded. “My parents paid to have that carving done.” His gaze shot to his mother’s grave. “Now, it’s destroyed.”
“I’m sorry,” she murmured, but her eyes looked distant.
“I know.”
She nodded once, and he thought she got his meaning. He knew about Doreen, Adrian’s baby sister. Christ, she couldn’t have been very old when Doreen had died. She looked at least a few years younger than Adrian.
“Sir, you don’t have to be here,” Officer Hamilton said, his voice tight.
“It’s my family.” His voice came out nearly a growl.
“Can you tell us what happened?”
Now, he did feel a growl tearing up through his throat. “No. I didn’t do this. I wouldn’t do-”
Nick put a hand on his arm. “I’m sure he didn’t mean that, James. Maybe I shouldn’t have called you yet.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” the cop muttered. James shot him a glare, but noticed the man looked down at his son’s grave too. That might even be sympathy in his eyes. “Has to feel like losing them again.” Yes, definitely sympathy.
James shook his head. “Nothing could feel like that. My wife laid in a coma while I had to bury our son. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could match that.” He turned away, and his eyes met Caitie’s. “Tell me what you find. I can’t be here right now.”
“We’ll have questions for you,” Hamilton said.
“Then, you can ask them somewhere else.” He looked over at Nick. “We’ll get this cleaned up.”
“You don’t have to do that, James. I can bring someone in to take care of it.”
James shook his head. “They’re ours. We’ll do it.”
“My family will help,” Caitie said.
He shook his head again. “You don’t need to. They’re not yours.”
One corner of her mouth tilted up. “If Adrian gets his way, they will be. We take family seriously.”

A to Z Challenge – L is for Lawrence Johnson

Name: Lawrence Johnson

Age: 50 years old

Description: Lawrence is about average height with a wide build. He has thinning dirty blond hair that’s starting to go gray and ice blue eyes.

Short Bio: Lawrence is the only son of Colin and Marilynn Johnson, both of whom were very religious. Lawrence never quite fit in to that family. It didn’t seem to matter what he did, it wasn’t good enough. He almost had their approval when he went to medical school. But, that ended when he decided to study dead bodies instead of saving lives.

He knew he was gay since high school, but he never told anyone, knowing his family would not react well. He became an EMT after high school and met James and Zachary Brooke there, and along with Brian Wilson, they became a tight circle of friends. Even after he left the department for medical school.

That was also after he’d had to watch his best friend bury his wife and young son. He’d wanted to comfort James, but he wasn’t sure how. He stayed with him through the days he walked around like a zombie until he finally seemed to come back to life. But, there was still a part of him missing. Lawrence worried it would never come back. Still, he kept his own feelings to himself.

After he became a forensic pathologist and started work as a medical examiner, he started getting more grief from his parents. They’d wanted him to become a “real” doctor. They wanted him to marry and to settle down and start a family. None of which he was all that interested in. After his father died of a heart attack, it was only his mother attacking with these things. And adding on the blame, as if his life choices were what had caused the heart attack. He, of course, knew better, but the words got to him anyway. Until he told his mother the reason he wouldn’t marry then stormed out of her house.

The next day he was notified she’d had a stroke. Once again, even though he knew better, he blamed himself for the way he’d delivered the news. And he carried that with him and decided it was just better all around to keep his secret exactly that.

Except it wasn’t better. He was lonely and miserable, and he wanted that to change. He didn’t think it ever would, though. But, when James continued to remain single, he thought he just might have a chance, even though he’d never seen any signs of James being attracted to anyone, male or female, other than Sarah. He just isn’t sure if he can risk the friendship they have.

Snippet:

He noticed Lawrence seemed nervous when he joined him at the table. “What’s up?” James asked. “It’s been a while since we’ve met for dinner.”
“It has.” Lawrence tapped his fingers on the edge of the table then he picked up his menu. His fingers continued the dance against the back of it.
“Something happen at work?” James asked as he picked up his own menu. The finger dancing had always been an obvious tell the man had something on his mind. James had known the man more than thirty years, since he worked as an EMT with the department while going through medical school. He’d continued working with him when he took a position with the medical examiner’s office, even more so now that James was the fire investigator.
“Not really. Received those bodies from that fire this morning.”
For anyone else, this would be a strange conversation to have over dinner. The two of them rarely had anything else to talk about. They’d seen too much of it to let it put them off food anyway.
“I figured your office would have them by now. When will you get to them?”
“In the morning. It’s the weekend, so I’ll be the only one there.”
“Do you ever take a day off, Lawrence?”
“Do you, James?”
“I’ve been known to a time or two.” James noticed his friend’s eyes flick toward him then back to the menu as color rose in his face. What was going on with him? “If nothing happened at work, what’s going on? Something in your personal life? Are you dating?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face. “If you found someone to date, why aren’t you with her instead of me?” He couldn’t remember ever seeing Lawrence with a date. Maybe once or twice when they were younger, but certainly not recently. He always figured he put his career first or was just a private person. He couldn’t imagine anyone could be that private, to hide relationships for more than two decades.
The menu dropped to the table, and James was surprised to see all the color leech from Lawrence’s face. Then, he picked the menu up again and ducking his head behind it. “No. There’s no one. It’s like you said, it’s been a while since we met up for dinner.” James could hear him draw in a deep breath then let it out again before he looked over the menu. “What about you? I know it’s been a while, but are you seeing anyone again?”
Why did his mind instantly go to Teresa? He had only seen her once and that had been almost a week ago. He’d see her again tomorrow. And he found himself looking forward to it. Damn. What was wrong with him? She had been Sarah’s best friend. That’s all that would ever be between them. He had to remind himself of that. “No. There’s no one. I think Sarah was it for me. Now I’m just meant to be alone for the rest of my life.”
“You shouldn’t be.”
The words were muttered, but they still twisted around him. What did he even mean by that? The waitress came then, and he pushed those thoughts away while he ordered.

A to Z Challenge – K is for Kayla Brooke

Name: Kayla Brooke

Age: 30 years old

Description: Kayla is tall with a wiry, muscular build. She has dark blond hair and brown eyes.

Short Bio: Kayla is the oldest child of Zachary and Angela Brooke. Her younger brother, Jeremiah, was born about ten years after her. She spent almost as much time with her Uncle James growing up as she did her own father. And she looked up to both of them.

She always wanted to follow in their footsteps. Her father wanted her to give college a try before joining the fire service. She gave college two years. She met Reese Davis while there. They stayed together even after she joined the fire department, but he never completely supported her career choice.

Then, her best friend, Whitney, and her son died in a house fire. Whitney’s husband was one of Reese’s friends, and he hadn’t been able to get there until the fire was out. Kayla saw a few cracks in him after that, but since Reese broke off their engagement at the funeral, when she refused to leave the fire service, she didn’t see much of him to know if those cracks had healed.

A few years later, Kayla responds with her rescue squad to several disturbing fires. A young detective, Adrian Riley, is brought in on them, too, and things heat up between them even as she helps him and his uncle figure out who is setting these fires. Kayla almost loses her life in pursuit of this, but she also finds a heated love with Adrian(That’s Flames of Redemption boiled down to its base).

Snippet:

James looked up at the knock on his door and smiled at the young woman who stepped through it. “Morning, Kayla. You’re here a little early.”
She smiled, but she looked tired. “You’re one to talk, Uncle James. You’re always here early.”
“I am the boss.”
“Right. Chief Investigator Brooke.”
He laughed. “What do you want, Probationary Fire Investigator Brooke?”
She moved over to the desk and sank into the chair across from him. “Did you have trouble adjusting? When you first started investigating fires instead of fighting them? Did you miss it?”
“I didn’t, no.” He steepled his fingers together and looked more closely at her. He could see the smudges under her eyes, the paleness in her face. “You haven’t been sleeping.”
“I can’t adjust. I’m not used to sleeping without having to worry about the tones going off, or the other men coming and going. Just Adrian and Oscar. I don’t know how you did it. Maybe I wasn’t ready.”
“You’re beyond ready to be doing this. You know that.” He sighed. “It was different for me. After Sarah and Kieran died, I didn’t have the heart for fighting fires,” he admitted. “It was a job for me then, not a passion like it’s always been for you and your father. It didn’t give me that thrill to run into a burning building. You still have that. It doesn’t mean you weren’t meant to do this job too.”
“That’s what Adrian said too. You sure you two aren’t related?”
James laughed. “Pretty sure. Were you two fighting about this?”
“We were discussing it.” She rubbed a hand over her mouth. “In very loud voices.”
James laughed again. “I swear you two would argue about the color of the sky.”
She cocked her head to one side. “Have you been eavesdropping on our breakfast conversation?”

A to Z Challenge – J is for James Brooke

Name: James Brooke

Age: 51 years old

Description: James is tall, with a lean but strong build. He has dark brown hair, almost black, that’s now peppered with silver and green eyes.

Short Bio: James Brooke is the older son of Robert and Carol Brooke. He has one younger brother, Zachary, born almost a year after him. They were always very close, and James lost count of the number of times he pulled his brother out of a dangerous situation, even before they both became firefighters.

He met Sarah Rafferty shortly after he started at the Crystal Lake Fire Department. She was out with her friend, Teresa Caridi, and he was with Zachary, and their friend, Lawrence. He noted Teresa, but it was Sarah that drew his attention. It was always Sarah.

They were married shortly after that, and he was ecstatic when Sarah told him she was pregnant. His brother married shortly before James’ son, Kieran, was born. And about a year later, his niece, Kayla came along. He thought his life was pretty much perfect.

And then it wasn’t. James and Sarah had a fight one morning before he had to leave for his shift at the fire department. They left each other with hard words. And later, that was all he could remember. After one of the fellow firefighters had to hold him back, after his brother had to carry James’ wife out of the burning house, after he’d buried his wife and son.

He didn’t deal well with the loss. He put all of their things away, in the back of the closet and the back of his mind. All he kept out was his wife’s wedding ring that he took to wearing on his right pinky. He didn’t talk about them, asked everyone else not to talk about them. He didn’t date, hardly had the heart for firefighting any longer.

When the position of fire investigator became available, it was a relief. Going into burning buildings left him shaky anymore. But, his mind could handle working out how they’d started after the fire was already put out. Watching his niece, and then his nephew, grow up eased some of his loneliness.

And then he noticed Kayla seemed to have the same analytical mind he’d always prized in himself. And he wanted her as an investigator. But, he had to wait until she was ready to leave the firefighting side of the service. He trained her and brought her over to his side, even after she almost got herself killed trying to stop a deranged arsonist.

Now things are settled down, and he’s glad to have her working with him. The rest of his life doesn’t feel so settled, though. Then, Teresa Caridi, now Takoda, walks back into it.

Snippet:

James Brooke glanced up at the heavy knock on his door. The man who stood there certainly wasn’t his niece, and newest investigator, or any of his other investigators. The man wore the uniform of one of the fire department’s battalion chiefs. “Brian, what are you doing here?” he asked. “Don’t you have a shift to run?”
“Sent ‘em all home ‘bout an hour ago,” he said, moving to one of the chairs on the other side of James’ desk. “Chief Booth is on now.”
James nodded his head slightly. “What do you need?”
“I can’t come visit one of my oldest friends?”
James simply folded his hands on his desk and watched that old friend until the other man sighed and dropped into the chair. “I came to ask a favor,” Brian told him.
“What can I do for you?”
The other man leaned back in the chair, lacing his hands together behind his head. “You asked me for a favor earlier this year, and I granted it.”
James grunted. “I remember. I also remember you were rather hesitant about it.”
“And you did take away one of my best firefighters, like I said you would,” he reminded James, dropping a hand to point one finger at James.
“She’s a pretty damn good investigator, too. Like I said she would be.”
Brian nodded, as if giving him that one. James waited another minute before saying, “You’re worrying me, Bri. You don’t need a kidney or anything, do you? I think that goes a bit beyond what I owe you for letting me train Kayla full time for a couple weeks.”
“Even though I lost her to you?”
A half smile sat on his friend’s face, but it didn’t match what he saw in the man’s eyes. Leaning forward, he narrowed his own eyes and said, “Seriously, Brian, what’s going on? If it’s something important, you know I’ll do what I can. I know you wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”
He’d known Brian Wilson for more than thirty years. They’d gone to the Fire Academy together. Had worked together for ten more years in the department putting out fires. Brian had been the one to carry Sarah out of their burning house all those years ago. James couldn’t even remember who had held him back from running in himself. It had still been too late for her.
He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to push away those thoughts. It had been easier when he’d kept all the memories of his family buried deep. But, at least they didn’t jump up and try to strangle him as much.
“You okay?” Brian asked.
“Yeah,” he replied, though his voice sounded rough. “Fine. Anyway, what do you need from me?”
“First, to hear me out all the way through. Don’t shut me out until I finish, okay?”
“Since when have I shut you out, Brian?”
Brian’s eyes were serious now. “You shut everyone out for thirty years, James.”

A to Z Challenge – I is for Jeremiah Brooke

Note: I know neither name starts with an I. I had to get creative with some of these, so the letter might just come somewhere in the name.

Name: Jeremiah Brooke

Age: 19 years old

Description: Jeremiah is tall and strong, but lean. He has blond hair and brown eyes.

Short Bio: Jeremiah is the younger child of Zachary and Angela Brooke. He has one older sister, Kayla, born about ten years before him. Even with his father gone for about a total of half a week with twenty-four hour shifts at the fire department, their parents tried to make sure they had as normal a childhood as they could. Jeremiah’s uncle James helped with that, coming over on nights their father wasn’t able to be there.

When he was twelve, he met Silas Lunden when he joined the local baseball team. Silas was about a year older than Jeremiah, but they became fast friends. Even off the baseball field. Throughout that first summer, they were nearly inseparable and just at home at the other’s house than their own.

This friendship continued throughout high school. Silas telling him, at fifteen, that he was gay didn’t change any of that. Jeremiah wasn’t sure when his feelings toward Silas changed. But, by the time Silas graduated high school, they definitely had. They kissed that summer, which only further confused Jeremiah, because he was still attracted to girls.

It was Silas, though, who helped settle his mind about being bisexual. And that there was nothing wrong with that.

Jeremiah wanted to join the fire department as soon as he graduated high school, but as with his older sister, his father asked him to give college a try for two years. So, he did. And after living in a dorm for the first year, he was planning to move in to an apartment with Silas for the second one. But, first, they had to get through this summer.

Snippet:

Jeremiah laid back on his bed, resting his feet against the headboard. “Seriously, Silas, I…”

He stopped as his bedroom door swung open. “Hang on,” he murmured and set the phone down before sitting up again. His sister stepped into the room, a smirk on her face.

“Mom said you were up here talking to a girl. Who is it?”

He rolled his eyes. “I’m not talking to a girl. Jeez, Kayla.”

“Really. Then why would she say that?”

“I don’t know,” he said, trying to keep his gaze from dropping to his phone. “Why don’t you go back down and ask her? And you know, leave me alone.”

Instead, she dropped down on the end of his bed, sending his phone bouncing. “Damn it,” he muttered, making a quick grab to keep it from hitting the floor.

Kayla was faster, though. Her hand closed around the phone before his could, and she glanced at the screen, grinning. “Hey, Silas. How are you doing?”

Even Jeremiah could hear his best friend’s laugh. “Give me my phone back,” he demanded.

Instead Kayla kept listening to whatever Silas was saying. Jeremiah’s stomach twisted up. Please, just let him get the phone before Silas let any of their conversation slip. His family had still accepted Silas after he came out as gay. Why would they look at him any differently? But, it still worried him.

He shoved Kayla’s shoulder, and she punched him lightly in the arm. “Hey, I’m talking to your boyfriend.” Jeremiah practically felt the blood drain out of his face. But, his sister kept laughing. She hadn’t meant it.

“Don’t you have a boyfriend to go torment?” he asked. “Go torture Adrian and let me get back to talking to my best friend.”

Kayla’s laughter fell away, and she frowned at him. Then, she simply shrugged. “I guess you can talk to the grump again, Silas. I’ve been ordered out.”

Jeremiah waited until Kayla left his bedroom and closed the door behind her before he brought the phone to his ear again. “Sorry about that,” he said.

“Don’t be. I like your sister. And you know she was only teasing, right? She doesn’t actually think–”

“I know,” Jeremiah said, blowing out a breath. “It’s fine.” But, he couldn’t stop staring at his door.

A to Z Challenge – H is for Nolan Hunter

Name: Nolan Hunter

Age: 34 years old

Description: Nolan has a shorter stature and wide build, a bit on the stocky side, but very muscular. He has dark brown hair and brown eyes.

Short Bio: Nolan Hunter is the third child of Carrick and Ariana Hunter. He has two older brothers, Tate and Kelan. And ten years after him, came his twin siblings, Jace and Jess.

Nolan spent a lot of time on construction sites growing up. He helped his father during summers, as did his brothers and sisters. But, it wasn’t what he really wanted to do. He majored in psychology in college, but during his second fall semester, he went and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He spent the next four years serving his country.

He met Mark Young, another Marine, during that time. He went home with him during one of their leaves, and met Mark’s sister, Maura. He was instantly attracted to her, despite the fact he’d had a casual, and secret, relationship with one of his fellow brothers-in-arms. But she was engaged to another man.

He didn’t pursue her, but they did maintain a friendship. Even after she was married to a man who Nolan was sure wasn’t good enough for her. That sense increased with each email and phone call. She never said anything, but he was sure her husband was cheating on her. He wanted to do more, but all he could do was be her friend. He didn’t want to lose that.

After being wounded near the end of his enlistment term, Nolan decided not to reenlist. Instead, after healing up, he joined the local fire department(yes, that would be Crystal Glen). When Mark got out of the Corps another two years after that, he joined up as well. Nolan’s family swept him right into their family, though he never went into specifics about exactly why he was estranged from his own family, except with Nolan.

Even though Mark was his best friend, Nolan never told him he was bisexual. He wasn’t sure how the other man would react, or any of the other firefighters. Other than his younger brother and sister, he didn’t tell anyone. One of his cousins did catch him out with another man and threatened to make a big stink about it. But, his parents never said anything, so he figured the cousin had kept it to himself even while keeping his own family away from Nolan.

Other than keeping that secret as close as possible, he figures he has a pretty good life. He’d like to make it better, but he’s pretty content for the moment.

Snippet:

Then, two of the firefighters headed their way. One took off his helmet, and she recognized the buzz cut. “You were at the cemetery helping James the other week.”
He did a double take, either surprised she’d recognized him or that it was the first thing out of her mouth. “Uh, yes, Ma’am. Mark Young. I don’t remember you.”
“You wouldn’t since you were so busy checking Caitie Magaldi out.” Shock passed over his face, and she smiled at him. “Thank you. For getting out here so quick. I don’t know if-”
“I didn’t do anything. It’s everyone on the engine working hard today. Thankfully there was no one for me to carry out.” He gestured to the man beside him. “This is my partner, Nolan Hunter.”
“Nice to meet…” Teresa started to say as the other man took off his helmet. “Hunter? As in Carrick Hunter? Hunter Construction?”
One side of the young man’s mouth tipped up. “So you know my dad?”
She laughed. “Apparently. And he knows mine. Him and a few of your siblings helped us move in here a couple months ago.”
He nodded, but Mark just said, “James asked us to come over. He thought, Avery, right?” At the little girl’s nod, he smiled. Well, that certainly brightened up those eyes. “Well, Avery, James thought you’d like to look at one of the trucks.”
Teresa turned toward James again as the two firefighters led Avery toward the rescue truck.

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