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Jane West’s life is perfectly average.
Until Ty Strickland—Grade-A, smoking hot firefighter—moves in down the street. Then things get a little exciting, and not in the good, panty-melting sort of way. Not only does someone want her dead (seriously), she has to wrangle her out-of-control desires where the new neighbor is concerned, and convince her boss at the small town’s only adult toy store—who meddles in Jane’s love life—to leave the new hose-wielding hottie off her matchmaking radar.
But it’s not all chaos and pancakes. There’s Ty. And his smoking hot body. Smoking hot kisses. He’s burning the walls around her heart to nothing but ash. And she just might be falling in love…if she can stay alive long enough.
This is the first book in Vanessa Vale’s new Small Town Romance series, where the men in Montana aren’t just hot, they set things on fire.
“I’m not sure which one I want. I didn’t realize there were so many choices!”
The woman wasn’t on the hunt for a new car or juice boxes at the grocery store. Nope. She wanted a dildo. I called her type a Waffler. Someone who contemplated all options before even attempting to make a choice. Because of Miss Waffler, I had ten different dildo options spread out across the counter. Glass, silicone, jelly and battery powered. She needed help.
That’s where I came in. My name is Jane West and I run Goldilocks, the adult store in Bozeman, Montana, my mother-in-law had opened back in the seventies. Story goes she named it after the fairytale character when a mother bear and her two cubs strolled down Willson right in front of the store the week before it opened. She called it fate. Or it could have been because her name is Goldie, so it made sense. I started working for her when my husband died, a temporary arrangement that helped her out. Three years later, things had turned long-term temporary.
The store was tasteful considering the offerings. The walls were a fresh white with shelves and displays just like you’d find at the typical department store. Then tasteful made way for tacky. Gold toned industrial carpet like you’d see in Vegas, a photo of a naked woman sprawled artfully across a bearskin rug hung over the counter. A sixties chandelier graced the meager entry. Goldie had to put her unique stamp on things somehow.
It wasn’t a big store, just one room with a storage area and bathroom in back. Whatever she didn’t have in stock—although you’d be amazed at the selection Goldie offered in such a small space—we ordered in. Montanans were patient shoppers. With few options store-wise in Bozeman, most people ordered everything but the basics from the Internet. There’s one Walmart, one Target, one Old Navy. Only one of everything. In a big city, if you drove two miles you came across a repeat store. Urban sprawl at its finest. Not here, although there were two sets of Golden Arches. One in town and one off the highway for the tourists who needed a Big Mac on the way to Yellowstone. The anchor store of the town’s only mall was a chain bookstore. No Nordstrom or Bass Pro Shop out here. You shopped local or you went home to your computer.
In the case of the woman in front of me, I wished she’d just go home.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked helping people and I was comfortable talking sex toys with anyone. But this time was definitely different. Big time.
Behind Miss Waffler stood a fireman. A really attractive, tall, well-muscled one wearing a Bozeman Fire T-shirt and navy pants. Can you say hot? A hot man in uniform? Yup, it was a cliché, but this one was dead-on accurate. God, he was literally heart stopping gorgeous. He’d made mine skip a beat. I felt all tingly and hot all over.
He’d come in while I was comparing the various dildo models before I went into the perks of having rotation for best female stimulation, and when I looked up…and up and he was there, I practically swallowed my tongue. I’d certainly lost my train of thought. I had no idea God made men like him. Magazines, maybe. Real life? My real life? Wow.
“Can you explain the features of each one again?” Miss Waffler had her fingers on the edge of the glass counter as if she were afraid to touch them. Petite, she was slim to the point of anorexic. Her rough voice said smoker, at least a pack a day. Her skin was weathered, either from cigarettes or the Montana weather, and wrinkles had taken over her face. She’d be pretty if she ate something and kicked the nicotine habit.
I gave her my best fake smile. “Sure.”
I darted a glance at the fireman over the woman’s shoulder. Sandy hair trimmed military short, blue eyes, strong features. Thirties. A great smile. He seemed perfectly content to wait his turn. If the humorous glint in his eye and the way he bit his lip—most likely to keep from smiling—was any indication, he was clearly enjoying himself. And learning something about dildos. Maybe he wanted some options for his girlfriend. He had to have some woman warming his bed. A radio squawked on his belt and he turned it down. Obviously, my lesson on sexual aids was more important than a five-alarm fire.
Miss Waffler was completely oblivious of, and unaffected by, the fireman. I now knew why she wanted a dildo.
I picked up a bright blue model. “This one is battery powered and vibrates. Ten settings. Good for clitoral stimulation.” I put it down and picked up another. I was used to talking sex toys with people. Some guys, too, but I was dying of embarrassment having said clitoral stimulation in front of him. I just imagined this hot fireman stimulating my clit. I squirmed, cleared my throat and continued. “This one is glass. No batteries, so it’s meant for penetration. The best thing about it is you can put it in the freezer or warm it and it provides a varied experience.”
The woman made some ah sounds as I gave the details. I went through all the possibilities with her one at a time. I got to the tenth and final model. “This one is obviously realistic. It’s actually molded from the erect penis of a porn star. It’s made of silicone and has suction cups on the base.”
Fireman peered over the woman’s shoulder as I suction cupped the dildo to the glass counter. Thwap. He didn’t seem too stunned by the size. Did that mean he was that big, too?
“You can…um, attach it to a piece of furniture if you want to keep your hands free.”
Both fireman and Miss Waffler nodded their heads as if they could picture what I was talking about.
“I’ll take that one,” she said as she pointed to number ten. The eight-inch Whopper Dong.
I rang up Miss Waffler’s purchase and she happily went off to take care of business.
And there he was. Mr. Fireman. And me. And dildo display made three. Fortunately, he stood in front of the counter and I wasn’t able to look down and see if his Whopper Dong fit inside his uniform pants. Oh god, I was going straight to hell. He saved people’s lives and I was thinking about his—
“Um…thanks for waiting.” I tucked my curly hair behind an ear.
“Sure. You learn something new every day.” He smiled. Not just with his mouth, but with his eyes. Very blue eyes. I saw interest there. Heat, too.
Right there, in the middle of my mother-in-law’s sex store, dildos and all, was the spring thaw in my libido. It had long since gone as cold as Montana in January. Who could have blamed it with all of my dead husband’s shenanigans? But right then, I felt my heart rate go up, and my palms sweating from nerves. The fireman didn’t seem the least bit fazed by my little sex toy talk. I, on the other hand, was having a hot flash like a menopausal woman just looking at him. I needed to be hosed down. Speaking of hoses—
“I’m Jane. What can I help you with today?” Hi, I’m Jane. I’m thirty-three. I like hiking in the mountains, cross-country skiing, I’m a Scorpio, and I want to rip that uniform off your hot body and slide down your pole. I wiped my sweaty palms on my shorts.
He laughed and held out his hand. His grip was firm, his skin warm and a little rough. “Ty. Thanks, but no toys for me.” A pager beeped. He looked at it on his belt briefly and ignored it.
“Don’t you need to answer that? A fire or something?” I asked, pointing to his waist.
“Cat up a tree,” he joked, the corner of his full lips tipping up.
I laughed, and heard my nerves in it. I took a deep breath to try and calm my racing heart. It didn’t work. All it did was make me discover how good he smelled. It wasn’t heavy cologne. Soap maybe. I didn’t really care if it was deodorant. He smelled fabulous.
“Actually, it was for Station Two. I’m here for your fire safety inspection.” He placed papers on the counter. Had he been holding them all this time? I hadn’t noticed.
“Oh, um…inspect away.”
He grinned at me as I blushed, ready to slink behind the counter and die of embarrassment. Fortunately, he switched topics. For the next fifteen minutes, we went over fire inspection paperwork with the attraction I felt for him an elephant in the room the shape of a dildo.