Author: Cindy A. Christiansen
Heroine: Ginger Warby
Ginger Warby's Strong Side:
You don’t walk into one of Utah’s biggest wildfire after you’ve failed culinary school because you’re too afraid to set your Crepes Suzette on fire. Ginger is a strong, determined woman who can’t understand why one of her best friends ended up burned to death while changing his irrigation sprinklers on his farm just outside of Beaver, Utah. She’s willing to put herself in the middle of the fire as a volunteer just to understand why. She also thinks that “climbing back on the horse”, so to speak, is the best way to get over her pyrophobia.
Ginger Warby's Sexy Side:
Being able to hold yourself together in the middle of a raging fire in just a fire shelter makes Ginger pretty damn sexy in my book. Some real trained firefighters are unable to do that, and yet Ginger goes on to make pitch and patch Dean’s burned boots, take care of his burned back, and gather and prepare enough food to keep them fed. Her concern over Dean’s dog, Dixie, makes Ginger even sexier.
A Scene From Braving the Blaze:
The fire ravaged the landscape. Pines and aspens burst into flame, spewing a blizzard of sparks which ignited other innocent trees. The main firestorm whirled rapidly toward them like an uncontrollable orange tornado.
Past and present nightmares collided within her. She wanted to collapse, to shut down her brain, to stop the thoughts and images before her. This was what hell was like—hot, ferocious, painful, and terrifying.
And the unthinkable. She’d be taking another life in the process. Despite how much she wanted to run to Dean, the smoke and heat kept her chained to the ground. She couldn’t take the unbearable intensity. She wanted the unimaginable to go away.
Dean dropped and scooped her into his arms in a crushing embrace. She could feel his heart pounding wildly in his chest.
“Come on,” he said breathlessly. “Too much vegetation here.”
“I don’t have a shelter.”
“You’ve got to get out of here, Dean.”
“Come on, Ginger.”
She picked up her pack.
Dean grabbed the bag, flung it as far as he could, and then picked up her drip torch and threw it too.
“What are you doing?” she yelled at him in shock.
He scrambled across the ground on hands and knees toward a rockslide area, and Ginger followed. She was such an idiot. The fusees and fuel in the drip torch would’ve ignited and killed them. She had to start using her brain.
Dean found a place free of most brush and trees and used his pulaski to clear a four-foot by eight-foot area for the fire shelter. The closer he got to bare mineral soil the better. The rocky area would help protect them from the fire but the rocks could easily tear the thin aluminum shelter into pieces.
Ginger watched him frantically digging as she made her way across the jagged rocks at a much slower pace. Her gloves and Kevlar pants helped, but her already bruised hands and legs protested at the continued punishment. The circle of fire closed in around them.
Dean grabbed his fire shelter, pulled the red ring on the plastic bag down one side and up the other, and removed the shelter. She tried to remember her training. She knew how critical the seconds were, but the back of her head felt like it had been pounded with a metal meat mallet.
Grabbing the clearly marked shake handles, Dean unfolded the shelter. “Get in,” he called to her.
“It won’t work,” she yelled above the roar.
“It has to. Get in.”
“You shouldn’t have tried to save me. You use the shelter.”
He reached for her chin and tilted her face toward his. “You’re my buddy, right? Crawl in, lie face down, and hook your arms in the hold-down straps. Hurry.”
It would never work. The shelter consisted of an outer layer of aluminum foil bonded to woven silica cloth. The foil was supposed to reflect radiant heat, and the silica material would slow the passage of heat to the inside of the shelter. A second layer of aluminum foil laminated to fiberglass should prevent heat from re-radiating to the person inside the shelter. The air space between the two layers offered further insulation from the heat.
They’d said in training the shelter would reflect off heat as much as sixteen-hundred degrees and remain only about two-hundred degrees inside, about like a sauna, with the average fire. However, if the temperature reached five-hundred degrees, the glue which bonded the layers together would break down.
Ginger looked at the vicious, fiery beast approaching and let out a frightened little laugh. They didn’t stand a chance.
“Get in, Ginger. That’s an order.”
She reluctantly crawled in and lay down. She gasped when Dean climbed in on top of her and wrapped himself around her. Despite brush coats, gloves and work boots, the contact of him startled her senses. He used his hands and feet to push the surface of the tent as much away from their bodies as he could for more airspace from the heat. Total darkness enveloped them. Luckily she was pyrophobic, not claustrophobic.
His lips finally rested near her ear, and his breath aroused and comforted her at the same time. He held and protected her.
“Keep your arms in the straps, Ginger. The winds might get up to seventy miles per hour,” he said hoarsely.
She could feel the heat coming closer; hear the sizzle of the grass. She could feel…Dean. The shelter burned with heat and so did her body.
“Keep your face right to the ground and take short, shallow breaths,” he whispered. “No matter how frightened or in pain you get, you have to stay in the shelter. The conditions will be much worse out there.”
His nearness didn’t allow for short, shallow breaths.
Single-minded Dean Harward is going to become a veterinarian if it kills him. He’s worked summers as a volunteer wildfire fighter to earn big cash for college. Just his luck, a pyrophobic woman gets assigned to his team. He’s certain she’ll get him killed before he can graduate. Ginger Warby is a walking firestorm as accidents continually spark around her. Or are they accidents? Can Dean keep the flames of desire he reluctantly feels for her under control long enough to keep them and his Yellow Labrador alive?
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