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The Fireman’s Second Chance

Written by Lisa Childs

Chapter Eight

“Damn it,” Heath murmured as the smoke began to choke him. He had to get Molly out—fast—because if the arsonist had set this fire, the house was bound to explode. But when he reached for her, Molly jerked away from him.

As well as having gotten dressed, she’d drawn her weapon and had moved to the door ahead of him. She obviously intended to protect him.

But this was fire. This was his domain.

“Molly…” He slammed his hand against the door, holding it closed as she reached for the knob. “Let me lead the way.”

“But I led him here,” she said. “He must have followed me. So he’ll be waiting out there to make sure he kills me this time.”

That wasn’t going to happen. Not on Heath’s watch. The door was already warm beneath his palm. The fire had spread up the stairwell.

“We’ve got to go out the back,” he said.

“Back?” she repeated, her blue eyes wide even as tears streamed from them. “We’re on the second floor.”

“The balcony.” When they’d bought the place, they’d loved the little deck off the master bedroom. They’d planned to drink wine there at night after the kids were in bed. But they’d never had that wine. And now they might never have the chance.

He opened the patio door to the deck and smoke billowed out around them. Molly pushed him aside to step out first, and as she did, she peered into the yard below. “He must be out here.”

A shot rang out with a flash in the darkness. Wood splintered on the doorway just above Heath’s head. Molly returned fire, squeezing the trigger as she moved the barrel of her gun in the direction of that flash.

Heath ducked and tried to pull her down with him. But she continued to fire until finally her cartridge just clicked. She reached for her belt, for another magazine. But Heath pulled her toward the railing.

“We have to jump,” he said. And as they jumped, the house exploded behind them. The blast propelled them farther into the yard than they would have landed. But still debris rained down around them. Heath covered Molly’s body with his, desperate to protect her from the fire and the shooter.


Heath’s body weighed heavily on Molly. Was it dead weight? Had the blast hurt him? Or had he been shot? Then she felt it—the mad pounding of his heart against her back. And he asked, his mouth close to her ear, “Are you all right?”


He rolled off her then. “You didn’t get hit?”

She shook her head and peered around the yard. She wasn’t the one who’d been hit. A shadow lay crumpled against the fence from where he’d fired at them. He was limp, unmoving.

Sirens wailed, growing louder as first responders approached. They would not arrive in time—for the arsonist or the fire.

Heath must have seen the limp body because he jumped to his feet and rushed over to him. After feeling for a pulse, he shook his head.

The arsonist was dead.

But that wasn’t the only loss. The house, the place where she and Heath had intended to raise their family, was gone. Flames consumed what was left of the structure, which was just the skeleton of roof trusses and studs.

“I’m sorry,” she said as he helped her to her feet.

“It wasn’t your fault that he followed you,” Heath said, and he closed his arms around her.

“It was,” she insisted. “I was distracted, or I would have realized…”

“Why were you distracted?” he asked as he stared down into her face, the fire reflected in his dark eyes.

“Because you were willing to sign the papers.” Because he was willing to finally let her go.

He gestured at the fire. “They’re gone now, too.”

She swallowed hard, her throat dry from the smoke and nerves. “I—I can get another copy.”

He nodded.

“Do you want me to?” she asked.

He tensed, and his dark eyes glowed even more—with passion and hope. “I never wanted you to.”

“Then why did you sign them?”

“Because I thought that was what you wanted,” he said. “And I thought you were gone to me forever.”

Regret weighed heavily on her. “I was gone for a while—even from myself. But today… Nearly losing you in that fire…”

“You realized what you’d been missing?” he asked as his mouth curved into a slight grin.

She smiled. “I always knew what I was missing, and I was missing you. I just didn’t think we could get beyond what happened, beyond what we lost.”

His arms tightened around her. “I’m so sorry.”

“None of it was your fault,” she said. “It was mine. And you should have hated me for it. I hated me.”

“Oh, Molly…” He leaned down and brushed his mouth over hers. “None of it was your fault. And I could never hate you. I love you too damn much.”

She tightened her arms around him. “And I love you.”

But instead of hugging her more closely, he dropped his arms from around her and stepped back. “I want you back, our life back.”

She shook her head. “I don’t. I want to build a new one.”

“Can that baby be part of it?” he asked.

“I don’t know if how she gave him to you was legal,” she warned him.

“If it wasn’t, could we make it legal?” he asked. “Could we adopt the baby?”

She saw the fear on his face, the fear that she would say no again like she had before. But she loved him too much to deny him or herself anymore. “Yes,” she said.

He tensed as if he didn’t dare believe her. “Are you sure?”


She knew now that they would have their family and their future.

He pulled her close. “When I went into that building today, I didn’t know if I would come out alive,” he said. “But I know now that I went into that building a dead man, and you and that baby brought me back to life.”

“Me, too,” she murmured. She understood what he meant. She felt the same way. That nearly dying today had made her want to live and love again.

“No matter what happens,” he said, “please don’t ever leave me again.”

She shook her head. “Never…”

The fire had rekindled their love and commitment. They would be together forever.

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About the author

As a naturally soft-spoken child born into a big, boisterous family, i...

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Lisa Childs

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