Beach Snyder carries a torch of desire for Flanna Proctor that burns hotter than the desert sun heís returned home from. Her fiery temper amuses him as much as her body makes him ache. The blazing inferno packed inside her petite, sexy frame however, could be more than he can handle.
Flanna has a secret, one thatís put a hunter on her tail. Itís going to take more than the blaze burning within to save her. Itís going to take actual flames to keep her alive. This Independence Day, Flanna will know the true meaning of freedom as she and Beach create their own fireworks spectacular that will burn brighter and hotter than any nightly display ever witnessed.
†† Beacher leaned his six foot plus frame against a tall oak tree in the shadows and drank in the commotion happening around the huge bonfire at the edge of the lake. He'd been coming here for years to partake in the good times leading up to the annual July fourth celebration, drinking until he couldn't remember the festivities the next morning. Tonight, he listened and watched as shapely bodies gyrated around the tall flames to a variety of music.
Since returning home from Afghanistan, Beach found he couldn't socialize as he used to and that seriously pissed him off. In the past he'd work like a dog all week from sun up to sun down knowing the weekend would offer good friends, good beer, plenty of fun and maybe even a warm body to keep him company during the night. Now he could barely tolerate being around people at all.
Reaching up he rubbed the scar running along his forehead and down the left side of his face. The scar itself didn't bother him, or how he got it, not really. He could have done without the blast that tore and seared his flesh, but he lived and so he didn't complain about the leftover reminders, at least the physical ones anyway.
The mental crap he could do without. Not dreams or post traumatic stress syndrome or anything like that for him. No, the jar to his brain apparently rewired or jolted lose some sort of hidden, buried, unknown, fuck, he didn't know for sure, talent. That's what the shrink called it anyway. Now, when he got too close to people he got a weird buzzing noise in his head and picked up on their feelings. Not just knew what they were experiencing, but actually felt their emotions as his own, and that sucked big time.
Stick him in the middle of a group and he'd get so dizzy from the onslaught of emotion his stomach would cramp. One second he'd want to pound his fist into a stranger's face and the next he'd want to cry over a stupid comment made to insult another. His moods swung so fast he made a woman suffering with PMS seem rational.
So, instead of joining the fun, drinking a beer and dancing around the fire like he wanted to, he could only observe. Right now he observed the sexy Flanna Proctor with her wild red hair and quick temper trying to push off the attentions of some rich playboy who apparently decided she would be his for the night. Dumb ass preppy apparently didn't know her very well or he'd have stepped off by now.
Flanna, or Lanna as she preferred to go by, didn't take shit off anyone. Beach smiled fondly as he remembered the first time he'd seen her, in kindergarten, Mrs. Foust's class. The very first day of school a little boy decided he wanted the ball she'd picked out to play with. After about one minute of arguing, Lanna glanced around the room to make sure the teacher wouldn't see and kicked the kid's feet out from under him with one swift swing of her leg. As the child lay on his back looking stunned, Lanna snatched the ball out of his hands, gave a sassy flip of her long red hair and proceeded to play.
Yep, Beach fell in love with her that day. She didn't whine or tell the teacher, Lanna handled the problem on her own and that ended that. So went the rest of her school years. Kids either loved or hated her. Get on her bad side and she'd give you a real reason to hate her. Stand on her good side and she'd walk through the fires of hell for you. Beach admired the hell out that kind of woman.
Her qualities were stellar but her looks were sinful enough to make even the devil sigh. Standing at barely five foot tall she was packaged perfectly with pert breasts that would fill a man's hand nicely and an ass that could bring that same man to his knees just watching it sway as she sashayed away. Fiery red hair cascaded down to the middle of her back. Even now Beach's hands itched to sink his fingers into her silky locks. And when she looked at you, God have mercy, her bright green eyes sparkled like jewels loaded with playful mischief that could get a man locked up for life bending to her whim.
Even her pink bubble gum lips were mesmerizing the way they formed a pretty bow on the perfect present. But, what he really found sexy, what made his cock twitch to life even as he stood in the shadows, was the tattoo peeking out above the waist band of her low rise shorts on her left hip. The head of a phoenix shrieked with its beak open and high on the inside of her tender thigh were its flaming tail feathers. Beach wanted desperately to see exactly where the rest of the tail wound.
"Hey, Snyder," one of his old buddies shouted. "Go talk to her instead of lurking in the dark like a spy."
"She's busy," he retorted taking a swig from his long neck beer bottle.
"She won't be for long. I give that stupid fuck another five minutes, tops, before he finds himself on his back staring at the stars wondering what the hell happened."
Beach squinted against the glare of the fire. Lanna had her finger in the preppys face chewing him a new ass. Normally, Beach would be laughing, amused by her anger but, something didn't seem right about the guy. Not sure what was icing his nerves, Beach kept a close watch.
Calling on his old habits of surveying the surrounding area for danger, Beach quickly fingered preppy's buddies. Two had their heads together and were dropping something into a plastic cup. Fuck, drugs. Beach hated drugs. When they handed preppy the cup and he offered it to Lanna, raw, mean anger flared to life in the pit of his gut. Beach jerked away from the tree and ignoring the ambush of emotions he'd be hit with, headed toward Lanna.
When she took the cup and promptly dumped it on preppies head, Beach halted his movement and waited. "Good girl," he mumbled to himself. Never accept a drink from someone you don't know. He'd heard his father preach that to his sister for years.
Lanna stormed off through the crowd and disappeared. Torn between following her and making sure preppy didn't follow her, Beach fisted his hands and planted his feet to the ground. She wouldn't go far. He'd be able to catch up with her. Preppy on the other hand, he didn't trust. As long as he had the man in sight, Lanna would be safe.
Preppy and his buddies huddled together, no doubt scoping out another victim. Taking a deep breath, Beach strolled to his buddy and thanked God the emotions pounding at him were good.
"Hey, put the word out," Beach told his old friend. "That son-of-a-bitch just tried to drug Lanna's drink. She didn't fall for it so I suspect he'll be looking for another willing victim. Tell the girls."
After a string of foul curses his friend nodded and began spreading the information.
High-tailing it out of the area, Beach cut through the woods and toward the parking area, his long legs eating up the ground in no time flat. As he neared the clearing where everyone parked he heard the distinct sound of glass breaking and metal crunching.
Keeping in the dark shadows of the trees, he followed the sound and came to a surprised halt. There, in the darkness yet illuminated by the full moon, Lanna held a tree branch and swung it like a pro at a brand-spanking-new silver Lexus. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who the car belonged to.