Lights and Sirens, Book 1
A year ago, after a gut-wrenching shift at work, Taryn Falvey made a huge mistake: she fell into the arms of fellow paramedic Nick Kanelos, and into his bed. Since then they’ve kept their distance, knowing their lives are too messy to mesh.
Taryn’s got her hands full keeping her many siblings and alcoholic mother from slipping into grinding poverty. A normal relationship—a normal life—isn’t even on her radar.
After that desperate night of passion, Nick retreated to the big, empty house on the edge of town he used to share with his late wife. Now it’s just him, his mutt, and his memories rattling around the empty rooms. He’s taught himself not to need anything or anyone too much, but he hasn’t been able to get Taryn off his mind.
As inevitable as gravity, life brings Taryn and Nick spiraling back into each other’s orbit. As their attraction reignites, there’s only one question remaining. If two professional rescuers are capable of rescuing themselves—and each other—or if they’re diving heart first into certain disaster.
They eat in silence for a while, Taryn picking at his fries on top of her onion rings. Nick can’t think of what to talk about. Riding together leaves you with the oddest, most-lopsided body of knowledge about a person, and though he knows Falvey’s tampon brand and her favorite foods, he’s got nothing on her family or her thought processes, what she’d wish for if a genie ever said boo. It makes for a strange brand of familiarity.
Finally she sucks down the last few slippery bits of onion, propping her chin on her hand to watch him. She’s got nice eyes, Taryn, pale and witchy gray-green. Nick happens to know that underneath the makeup her eyelashes are the same golden color as her freckles.
“What?” he asks, setting down the burger.
Taryn shrugs. “Nothing.” But the line of her jaw is set like it’s something. Nick watches her sneak a mushroom off his burger, not shy about leaning into his space. “I was waiting,” she admits after a beat, picking up the thread of their earlier conversation like they never stopped talking. “For you to show, I mean.”
Nick feels himself go still.
Falvey isn’t done. “Possibly I, uh, might need a ride home later.”
Which—huh. Nick can’t tell if she means it as an invitation or not. “That so?”
Taryn raises her eyebrows, playful. “Yeah,” she says, grinning. “That is so.”
He thinks about kissing her then, thinks about curling his hand around the back of her pretty head right here in the middle of the bar. Just to see how she’d react. Nick’s not entirely sure what he’s after with Falvey, is the flip side of things, if it’s just that he’s bored and trying to scratch an itch or if it’s something else. The night of the fire, her chin tipped up and the way she said his name? He thought maybe it was something else.
They’re still looking at each other when Doc calls out to Taryn from across the bar, engaging in a series of exaggerated pantomimes that translate roughly to I need to pee and you should too. Falvey rolls her eyes. “Duty calls,” she tells him, sliding off her barstool. She nudges her warm thigh against his before she goes. By the time she gets back Lynette’s made herself at home beside Nick, going on about the new Italian place in Stockbridge—her husband’s out of the doghouse, apparently. Nick watches Falvey size up the situation, then follow Doc over to a table with some of the other rookies.
So. That’s the end of that, he guesses.
For a girl who was waiting on him she sure stays far away the rest of the night, beating Doc’s boyfriend at Buck Hunter and nursing a pint of Sam Winter, laughing like she hasn’t got a care in the breathing world. Nick can feel her though, this weird awareness of where she is in the bar at any given moment, like she’s giving off some kind of hum only he can hear. He orders another beer, minds his own business. Taryn doesn’t. At around eleven he comes out of the bathroom and finds her waiting, leaning against the wall next to the ancient pay phone like there’s no place she’d rather be.
Nick blinks. “Hey,” he says. There’s the narrowest strip of skin showing between her waistband and her shirt. “Where you been?”
Taryn smirks. “Like you weren’t watching.”
Halfway between Audra’s age and his, Nick reminds himself. Still. “How d’you figure that?” he asks, leaning in to prop an arm against the wall, close but not close enough to crowd her. It’s private here, a long, dim hallway snaking around the back of the bar, but Nick feels compelled to leave room for the Holy Ghost anyway. All these stops and starts have made him cautious. “Been watching me watch?”
Falvey tips her chin. “Just a hunch,” she supplies, shrugging with the easy grace of a person who knows she’s not wrong. Her pale cheeks are flushed, the beer or the stuffiness or both. “Anyway. Could be I need that ride now.”
Nick isn’t ready to let her off the hook. “Could be, huh? You don’t know for sure?” He’s been waiting on her, is the truth—normally he would have left an hour ago.
“Maybe I just didn’t want to interrupt your evening.” Falvey shrugs, uncrossing her arms and pushing off the wall like she intends to lead the way to the parking lot. Only then she stops short.
“God, seriously, are you ever gonna make the first move?” she asks, one hundred and ten percent out of the blue. Her laugh is unexpectedly nervy. “It’s been my turn twice.”
Nick’s eyebrows damn near hit his hairline. “Your turn—Christ, Falvey, this isn’t a game of Go Fish.”
Taryn smirks, mirroring his expression, but underneath the clowning she looks nervous. “So? Tell me to get lost then.” She’s still standing inside the cage of his arm.
It’s easy to make the first move when you’re as sure of the other person as Falvey is of him, Nick reminds himself. He ought to tell her that and walk away.
Her mouth tastes like Sam Adams and medicinal lip balm. Nick fists his hand in her messy red hair and holds on. “There you go,” he says finally, pulling back. God, she’s only been broken up with Pete a couple of weeks. “First move.”
“Mm-hmm.” Taryn blinks at him, those green eyes taking on a gold tint in the dim light of the hallway. Nick can hear the sounds of the bar drifting around the corner, Springsteen and a spray of Jerry’s horsey laughter. “Congratulations.”
Nick blows out an irritated sigh. He knows he got to her, the slightly labored way she’s breathing and the blush that’s crept down her chest. But fine. If she wants to be a pain in the ass, then she can be a pain in the ass. “You want me to drive you home, or what?” he asks.
Taryn’s pale eyebrows lift. “In a minute.” Nick’s dropping his hand from the wall when she grabs it, lacing her fingers through his. “I told you,” she says, when he looks at her curiously. “I did it twice.”
She did it— Christ, Nick’s pretty much had enough of fucking around here.
Maybe Falvey has too, because she kisses him right back this time, letting him lick his way into her mouth and press her up against the wall. Nick can feel her everywhere at once. When she nips along the edges of his tongue, he lets out a growl before he knows he’s going to do it, hips pressing hers back into the plaster. Taryn gasps.
“Good?” he asks, then doesn’t wait for an answer. Instead he tucks one hand against the nape of her neck underneath that waterfall of hair, back where the skin is so hot and so soft it’s all he can do not to turn her around and set to sucking, not to haul her into the bathroom and pull those tight jeans down around her thighs. Taryn grins a cheeky grin against his mouth.
“Knew you had it in you,” she murmurs.
Nick catches her bottom lip between his teeth and tugs. “You’re a brat, you know that?” One thigh slides between hers to investigate, pressing up. She’s warm there too, all these secret pockets of body heat.
Taryn keeps smiling. “You have no idea.”
© 2014 Ruby McNally
Ruby McNally double-majored in psychology and cognitive linguistics before ultimately deciding her talents lay elsewhere. She grew up hiding her diary from her five brothers, who will never know she wrote this book. She lives in Boston, and has no cats. Crash is her first novel.
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