Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…
Brendan Tierney, a fireman, lives quietly in the outback Australian town of Greenhill. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, when he and his crew respond to a fire, he is trapped by the flames. Rescued from death by something he cannot—dare not—believe, he returns home, expecting his lonely life to return to normal. He makes a birthday wish, never suspecting that wishes and dreams can come true—with a little help from his sister and grandmother and a wizard…
When Aeric walks into Brendan’s shop, the fireman’s world is turned upside down, because the sexy guy is not what he appears. Ric has spine fur. Bren hopes that the guy is long overdue for a waxing. No such luck. He discovers that his unwelcome guest is a firecat, the rarest of shifters, who can harness fire.
Aeric recognises Brendan as his forever-mate—for him, it’s love at first sight. True love is never easy when a human is involved. Bren knows nothing about cat shifters or magic. But worse—he’s been betrayed by love, and denies his own deep, burning passion for Aeric. How can Ric convince Brendan to open his heart to believe in a cat’s forever promise? Or will the past come between a fireman and his cat?
Brendan pushed open the door and saw Ric at the sink, combing his long hair. Make that long wet hair, the ends dripping down his chest to follow the contours of his stomach muscles, lower…under the towel around his hips. Fascinated, Bren watched that treasure trail of water disappear, his eyes drawn to the outline of Ric’s body, highlighted by the drape of towel.
Man, oh man, the guy was…superb. Yep, simply superb. He glanced up and saw Ric’s smug smile. The bloody cat knew exactly what Bren was thinking. Brendan flushed, embarrassed and angry at himself for being caught out ogling the guy.
“Good morning,” Bren said. He frowned at his normally tidy bathroom. Bottles of lotion rested on their sides, and two towels lay in damp heaps by the basin.
“Yes, good morning,” Ric replied, combing his hair, smoothing it with fingers, arranging it around his neck and shoulders.
“Are you okay? You look wasted.”
“No, I am well.”
“You don’t look it.” Brendan studied the man critically. Yes, he definitely looked pale, the golden skin just a little tarnished. The eyes, though, were alive and wary and so very, very sexy.
“Thank you for your concern. I did not rest properly, since you tossed and turned in your sleep.”
“Right, let’s get this sorted. So long as you’re staying here you don’t sleep with me.”
“Not even if you ask me?”
“That’s not ever going to happen, pal. I sleep alone.”
“That explains much,” Ric said, nodding.
“Oh yeah?” Bren paused, telling himself to play smart, and walk away right now from this conversation. Bugger that. “What does it explain?”
“Why you are so skittish, like a virgin.”
Brendan snorted. “I’ve had a man in my bed before—”
“Ah yes, Bren, but not a cat.”
“My point exactly.”
“What point?” Ric asked, his lip quirking. The comb slid slowly through smooth golden hair. At the sight, Brendan’s mouth dried and his gut flipped.
“I’m agitated because you’re a cat, an alien shapeshifting cat who saved me from a fire, tells me magic exists in this world, and then sleeps next to me without invitation.”
“You did, you know.”
“The hell I did.”
“Yes,” Ric said, setting the comb down on the cabinet, turning to face Brendan. He took a step forward and Brendan retreated until his back hit the wall. “Yes, Brendan, you invited me here. You asked me into your bed. I checked on you as you slept and when I went to leave, you said don’t go, to stay, and reached out your hand. You called me mate.”
Brendan shivered. “No way I’d do that.”
“Are you calling me a liar?” Ric growled.
“Quit that, you sound like a…”
“Cat?” Ric smiled. “I know my true nature, it is a pity you do not acknowledge yours.”
“What the **** does that mean?” Brendan straightened his shoulders, lifted his chin and folded his arms. He was gonna fight this guy—fight him or…or kiss him, he was so bloody angry.
“You are a passionate man but you deny it because you are afraid. Your secret desire is to be loved until you can no longer think.”
“And you know this, how?”
“A man can never hide his scent.” He paused. “Though a man’s mouth may speak falsely, his scent remains true. And your essence, Brendan, is yearning for a mate. For me.”