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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Proof of Life: Author Edition


So...I'm still alive. I haven't been writing much lately though. Nothing on any of my pending books since November, and not much on social media either. But things have been getting better the past couple of weeks. I started going through my plethora of writing files and found two completed novels that need a home. So, I participated in a pitchfest last week. EEK! I won't know the results until the end of the week at the soonest. So everyone cross your fingers for me.

I currently have two books I'm concentrating on: Gargoyle Masters book four, and Archangels book four. They're tentatively titled Born of Prophecy and Loving the Demon respectively. We'll see how it goes. I expect to self-publish each of the remaining books in both series, so it's slow going as I save up the money for editing, covers, etc. If you'd like to help with that endeavor please purchase one of my currently published books, and tell your friend to as well.

While perusing my writing files I also found a cute little short-story I had written for a contest a few years ago then forgot about. I didn't place in the contest but still think it's cute romance. No heat level basically, as the contest was for general fiction not specifically romance. So, here is my gift to you loyal readers:

Hearts On Fire

Julia is a Houston firefighter and Trevor is the news reporter who loves her. Trevor wants to keep their steamy relationship going by proposing marriage, and plans to do it in the most memorable way he knows how.

Trevor cursed under his breath as he stumbled out of the news van and into another humid Houston night. His polo shirt stuck to him like a second skin and beads of sweat gathered on his upper lip. This was really going to suck.

Ahead of him by about one-hundred yards, a warehouse was engulfed in flames. Ash fell from the sky like confetti to dot the dirty concrete, along with his brand new military style boots. He rolled his eyes and ran a hand through his hair, unsurprised to find flecks of ash had already fallen within the raven locks.

“Hey, man, you ready?”

Trevor turned to find his cameraman, Nick, already pointing the camera toward the raging fire. If Trevor didn’t hurry up and say his piece there would be nothing left to report. “Yeah. Let’s go.”

In less than a minute he had his game face on and was answering questions from the anchors sitting in the air-conditioned studio across town. The whole clip lasted about two minutes, and then he was turning off the microphone while Nick took a few final shots.

Trevor was standing in the open door of the van putting equipment away when Nick whistled low. “Damn, there she is. Almost makes me wanna set my house on fire.”

Trevor’s pulse sped up and sweat broke out for a different reason than the heat as he turned to see who had gotten Nick’s attention. And there she was, all five feet-three inches of warm-blooded, Texas woman. Her dark brown hair was covered by the HFD helmet and the protective gear hid her curves, but Trevor had spent most nights of the past two years learning every single one. 

“Damn. I forgot she was on call tonight.” He scowled at Nick who was still ogling Julia, but Trevor knew it was just to rile him up. “Put your eyes back in their sockets. You know she’s taken.”

Nick laughed and brushed passed him to put the video camera away. “Yeah, yeah. So when are you gonna make an honest woman outta her?”

“None of your damn business. But keep next June open just in case.”

Nick chuckled. “Ready to go?”

“Nah, you go ahead. I’m waiting around for this one to end.”

Trevor stepped back as Nick slid the door shut. After clapping Trevor on the back, Nick climbed into the van and drove off. 

The fire was still blazing but seemed to be more in control. Luckily it was the only building on the block in the older industrial area. The firefighters were still hosing it down as the humid night filled with the acrid scent of burnt wood and metal. Trevor made his way to the closest fire truck and sat on the bumper, as out of the way as he could get while still close enough to watch Julia work. She amazed him. When not in uniform the small woman looked quiet and almost shy, but she hid her boisterous personality well. She was the most generous woman he’d ever met, and one of the hardest working. It had taken a while for him to get over the danger she put herself into every time a call went into the station.

Their two year anniversary was only a few hours away. He planned to make this one memorable, and hoped she wouldn’t be too exhausted to celebrate a little early. Now all he had to do was wait and watch as she did the job she loved, even while his heart stayed in his throat the entire time.


Julia knew the moment Trevor arrived on the scene and almost wished he hadn’t been called to report on the warehouse fire. She had always loved her job. Being a firefighter was a calling, a career, and part of her blood. She had been born into a family of firefighters and never thought to be anything else. Finding a man who wasn’t threatened by her career had been a miracle. The fact that he could sit and watch her do the job without freaking out was a revelation. He was one in a million.

Now she fought to concentrate on the task at hand and forget him sitting a few feet away. Two years was the longest relationship she had ever been in and it almost scared her, but being with him felt too right to question. They had clicked from day one and almost always saw eye to eye. She just hoped they could have at least another two years of bliss.

It took another hour to get the blaze down to simmering embers. After a few more minutes, Julia’s team was dismissed back to the station. They rolled their hoses back up and packed it in. She looked around for Trevor but didn’t see him anywhere. As her team climbed into the truck she asked if anyone else had seen him.

“Yeah, he was here, but I saw him jump in a truck and take off,” Scott said.

“You two have a fight?” Oscar asked. “He kinda looked pissed off.”

The others gave her some good-natured ribbing about fighting with her man, and she joked right along with them. But in the back of her mind was a nagging doubt about why Trevor would have left without saying a single word to her. It wasn’t odd for him to be on the scene. It didn’t happen all the time, but had happened before. They both stayed in professional mode until the fire was out, and talked if they had a chance. He knew he couldn’t ride in the fire truck with her, but who had picked him up?

By the time they pulled into the station she had gone from confused, to mad, to worried. She hopped out and did what needed to be done before hitting the shower. Her shift had ended thirty minutes ago, but of course fires paid no attention to schedules. As soon as she was dressed she tried calling Trevor. It went straight to voicemail but she didn’t leave a message. He would see she called. She texted him a simple message to call her.

Dawn peeked over the horizon as she walked out of the station toward her car. She had just thrown her bag into the passenger seat when someone yelled her name.

“Julia!” She turned to find Scott jogging toward her. “We just got a call. Come on. We need you on this one.”

“What? I didn’t hear the alarm. Didn’t day shift just come on?”

He waved away her questions with one hand while grabbing her arm with the other. “Cap says we need you. Your boyfriend called it in.”

“What? Trevor?”

Fear fueled her veins as she pulled away from Scott and ran back into the station. The trucks weren’t even running but one rear bay door was up and the Captain’s large pick-up was raring to go.

“Julia,” the Captain called to her from the driver’s window. “Let’s go.”

She glanced around in confusion even as she ran to his passenger door. As soon as she was inside he put the truck in drive and flipped on his lights and siren. She pulled her seatbelt on as her heart raced. What the hell was going on and how was Trevor involved? He knew fire was nothing to play around with and he’d never seemed like the daring type before. Maybe he had been called to report the fire and noticed the department wasn’t on the scene yet?

They drove for less than fifteen minutes when the Captain pulled onto a dirt road between two heavily forested areas. Julia’s apprehension spiked. Houston had suffered one of the worst droughts in recent history. A forest fire could spread quickly. She looked through the trees as they drove, praying she wouldn’t see smoke. All she saw were green trees and an overabundance of squirrels.

They pulled into a clearing and stopped at the edge of a sheer drop. Julia recognized the area as Spring Creek, though it was barely a trickle of water at the moment. On the other side was a sandy flatland where people often rode their four-wheelers on the weekends. A lone figure stood waiting.

“What the hell is going on?” she asked. “Is that Trevor?”

He was about two-hundred yards away and below them. She walked as close to the edge of the drop as was safe and raised her arms in question. He waved and turned away.

“Yer boy there called me n’ said I needed to git you to the scene of a far,” the captain said. 

Julia almost laughed at the familiar sound of his Southern drawl. Now that she could see Trevor with her own two eyes, the fear and tension slowly drained from her body. “Oh yeah? I don’t see a fire.”

She turned to smile at him but he looked passed her. “I do.”

He pointed across the way and she returned her attention to see lines of fire slowly making their way across the sand. Trevor stood a few feet away, but too close for comfort.

“What’s he doing? Trevor!”

Panic was beginning to take hold when the Captain grabbed her shoulders. “Whoa, girl. Hang on n’ look.”

Her pulse was racing as she fought the urge to slide down the embankment and run to Trevor. After a few seconds her brain finally clicked to what was happening. “Oh my god.”

The line of fire finally stopped spreading and Julia’s eyes registered the full pattern. Written in flames in the sand were the words Marry Me. Trevor moved away and lit another match. He dropped it onto the sand and a flaming heart quickly formed with J+T inside of it. Julia clapped her hands over her mouth as tears burned her eyes.

The Captain laughed. “There’s yer far.”

Commotion behind Trevor drew her attention and she saw the rest of her team walking out of the trees with extinguishers. They all looked up toward her and Trevor spread his arms.

“Well?” he hollered.

“Girl, he’s waitin’ fer yer answer,” the Captain said.

“I don’t have a light,” she replied.

He threw back his head and laughed.

“Oh, all right.” She cupped her hands around her mouth so there would be no doubt on Trevor’s part. Then she hollered out, “YES!”

The men below cheered as Trevor dropped his arms and smiled up at her. He blew her a kiss before turning to accept backslaps from her teammates. She could hardly wait to be in his arms again.

It took a few minutes for the men to put the fires out and clear the scene Trevor had created. She hated to see it go but the Captain confessed Nick had been nearby photographing the whole thing. 

“Oh my god. I better not see that on the news tonight,” she said.

He just laughed before leading her back to his truck. She expected to be dropped off somewhere nearby, but they drove all the way back to the station. Two other pick-up trucks arrived right behind them and soon Trevor found her waiting at her car. He approached slowly, looking almost unsure of himself. Julia didn’t want to make a scene in front of the men, but couldn’t stop from falling into Trevor’s arms as soon as he stood close enough.

“I can’t believe you did that,” she said with tears in her voice. “The guys scared the hell out of me when they said you were at the scene of another fire.”

Trevor held her close and kissed her forehead before tilting her chin up with one finger. “I didn’t mean to scare you, baby. I just wanted to do something special, to show you how much you mean to me.”

She sniffed back her tears and smiled up at him. “I love you.”

“I love you too. And I’m going to keep loving you for as long as you let me. You set my heart on fire the moment we met, and I don’t ever want it put out.”

That made her laugh even as a couple of tears slipped free. “That’s so cheesy. Are firefighter puns what I have to look forward to for the rest of our lives?”

He chuckled and planted a soft kiss on her lips. “Oh yeah. I got a million of them. Ready to go home and burn up the sheets?”

She laughed harder. “Are you hot for me?”

“Hotter than hot, baby.”

“Then we better get home before you go up in flames.”

She tried to pull away from his arms but he held tight. “Hang on. One more thing.”

Trevor dropped to one knee and pulled a small black box from his pocket. He popped it open before holding it up to her. Inside rested a beautiful silver ring, with tiny diamonds in a peculiar shape.

“Is that…is that what I think it is?” she asked.

“It’s in the shape of a burning flame.”

“Oh my god.”

She pulled the ring free and slipped it on as he stood. Then she jumped into his arms again. “I love you so damn much. Even with all the silly fire references.”

“You light up my life.”

She was laughing so hard he could barely kiss her.

“Okay, okay,” she said. “Enough already. I’ll need to think of some news reporter puns to say to you.”

He sighed dramatically before kissing her again. “Here’s a newsflash, I can hardly wait.”

She groaned and kissed him to keep him from saying anything else.

“Hey, cool it off over there before we hose you down,” Scott called out.

Trevor and Julia turned to find most of the station watching them.

“Oops. I kinda forgot about them,” she said.

“Me too. We better go.”

“You got it, news man.”

He started humming Great Balls of Fire and she laughed all the way home.

I hope you liked Julia and Trevor's story. Until next time, take care and happy reading!

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