Hot Shot Hero Hostage - Chapter 1

The second Braden Zimmer opened his office door and caught sight of the note on his desk, dread gathered low and heavy in his stomach. He’d been getting notes like this for nearly a year now and nothing good ever came of them.


There was the one that had brought his wife to Northern Lakes, Michigan, and the firehouse where Braden worked as captain for the local department. He was also the superintendent of the Huron Hotshots, an elite team of firefighters.

Sam McRooney, the beautiful blue-eyed blonde arson investigator, had saved his life and his heart. Occasionally she left him notes around their house—sticky notes affixed to the bathroom mirror, like the one she’d written before going out of town for her latest arson investigation: I love you, my tall, dark and handsome hotshot husband!

She’d left that note days ago and wasn’t due home for a few more days, so she hadn’t had the opportunity to leave this one for him. The paper on his desk was from a lined notebook, the edges frayed where it had been ripped out. Maybe one of the hotshots had written out a request for a day off. Or maybe Stanley, the kid who washed the trucks and cleaned the firehouse, wanted a vacation day. Maybe it was nothing.

But that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, the chill running down his spine despite the heat of the summer day, warned him that this was something else.

Another threat.

His legs as heavy as that dread in his stomach, he crossed the couple of feet from the door to the desk of his small windowless office. Then, as if the note might attack, he braced himself before reaching for it, steeling himself for what it might say.

For what it might be warning him about…like all those other notes. The one that had drawn his wife to Northern Lakes to find an arsonist had said You’ve made a terrible mistake and it’s going to cost you and your team gravely.

While Sam McRooney had helped him catch that arsonist, Braden’s team had been in danger over and over again, even after the young man’s arrest last summer. Braden had recently had to bury one of his team members, Dirk Brown, and had nearly lost two more in the process of bringing everyone to justice for Dirk’s murder. A pang struck his heart, which still ached over that loss. Every one of Braden’s hotshot team was like family to him, and as their superintendent, he felt like their father and that it was his duty to protect them.

He hadn’t been doing a very damn good job. While they’d caught Dirk’s killer and her accomplice, they hadn’t caught whoever was sabotaging the equipment around the firehouse, which kept putting his team at risk. Maybe this note was about that, like a few of the others had been, warning him that someone on the team wasn’t who Braden thought they were.

Was this another ominous note? A clue? He hoped like hell that it was because he needed one. But when he picked up the paper, the note was worse than he’d feared, making his heart pound fast and heavy. This time it wasn’t one of his team being threatened.

If you want to see your wife, you will do exactly as you’re told…