During an investigation for suspected arson, Kenton's ESP tells him there's more than meets the eye in regards Con. However, he isn't prepared for the overwhelming attraction he feels, which appears mutual, and when the two men get together, sparks fly.
Kenton's suspicions about Con are correct, and when he thinks he's been used, he's heartbroken, and goes away to lick his wounds.
But he's about to find out that when fire and air combine, there's nowhere to hide.
A soft groan accompanied Kenton standing up. He was decidedly fed up with examining the sites of the previous fires. There was just enough of an echo for him to be sure in his own mind that it was just one firestarter. And, of course, I have my hidden audience.
The tingling he felt that alerted him to a watcher at the first site he’d been called to trailed him around all three he looked at that day. Kenton hadn’t spotted the man -- yet, but he was certain that his stalker would come forward.
He caught a glimpse of movement as he exited the secured perimeter and stopped. “I know you’re there,” he shouted. “You’ve been around all day, and you were at the scene yesterday, and I don’t think you’re a member of the paparazzi.”
“I knew you were good. I didn’t know you were that good.” The disembodied voice came from Kenton’s right, a silken baritone that sent Kenton’s blood pounding through his veins.
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or not,” Kenton said. “Who are you, and why are you following me?”
“You wanted to find the man responsible for the fires. So do I.”
“The firestarter?” Kenton asked, and his brow furrowed. Just how does he know the fires were arson? Nothing’s been reported as arson in the papers.
“No, he’s just a tool. I mean the one really responsible for the fires the one ordering them, arranging them and profiting from them.”
As a man came into view, Kenton’s breath caught in his throat. Only a few inches taller than Kenton’s own rather modest five foot nine, the man had an aura of authority that gave him a powerful presence. His short hair was a glorious shade of red, his face was slightly angular with a narrow aquiline nose, but his eyes were as cold and hard as the emerald stone whose color they shared. He pushes all my buttons -- and then some.
“I see.” Kenton managed to find his voice. “If I simply find the firestarter; I’m only halfway there.”
“Exactly. My name is Con. Perhaps we should go somewhere less public.”
“A coffee somewhere?” Kenton had Starbucks in mind.
“Let’s go to your place. Safer. My vehicle’s parked away from here. It’ll be safe enough. I’ll walk a few blocks that way, and you can pick me up.”
Kenton hesitated. His gut told him Con wasn’t a threat, but he couldn’t read him fully, and that made him uneasy.
“I don’t bite,” Con said, his voice acerbic. Then he sighed, and his tone softened. “Sorry, you and I have the same objective, and I’m acting like a prize ass. It wouldn’t be safe for either of us to be seen openly together. This isn’t my town, so I’m in a rented apartment, and I don’t want you seen there, for your own safety.”
A tingle started at the base of Kenton’s spine and sent a warm frisson through his body -- the feedback of a genuinely spoken truth. The concern was genuine. It was enough to convince Kenton. “Okay, I believe you. Head off down the block. I’ll drive away, circle around and come back for you.”
Con seemed to melt back into the shadows, as though shrouded by a mist. Kenton frowned and then turned to hurry back to his car. He stopped for a moment and cast his senses out in a wide circle. Nothing and nobody. Damn it, from now on I’ll be checking.
The journey home was silent. Con simply stared out ahead, and Kenton tried to focus on driving. As he turned onto his driveway, he turned to Con.
“I have a dog, a beagle. Caesar can be very protective.”
Kenton stared as Con got out of the car. He shook his head. He locked his car and led the way up the path. He opened the door, and Caesar barked enthusiastically at Con. Kenton ushered Caesar through and out into the backyard. “I can leave him out there,” he said.
“This is his home. I like dogs. It’ll be fine.”
“Coffee or a beer?” Kenton made the offer, although it felt a little odd. He still had the pleasurable tingle, and it increased in intensity when Con came and stood close to him.
“Let’s stick to coffee.”
Kenton showed Con through to his living room. He started on the coffees and let Caesar back into the house. He heard Con’s voice as Caesar ran to find the stranger and cocked his head. It was too far to hear what Con said, and his voice was soft. I wish he used that tone with me. Kenton blinked at the sudden impulse. What am I thinking?
Giving himself a mental shake, Kenton finished the coffees and took them into the lounge. He almost dropped the mugs as the sight of Caesar enjoying a head scratch from Con. So much for my guard dog. Traitor.
“You have a good dog, Kenton. He gave me a real check over before deciding I was okay.”
Con smiled, and for Kenton it was like seeing the sun shine after a storm. The smile transformed Con’s face and made the arousal that had simmered since coming into close proximity with Con flare brightly. Con turned to stare at him, as if aware of Kenton’s wayward thoughts.