Inside the firehouse, she could see the kitchen off to the right, and a hallway to the left, but still no sign of life, which was odd– They couldn’t all be off on calls, not with the rigs still out front. “Hello?”

Still nothing.

With a shrug, she headed towards the gurgling sound, which took her into the kitchen, and a coffee maker, making away. “Who’d want coffee on a hot day?” she asked herself.

“A crew who’s been up all night.”

Turning around, she faced Sexy Firefighter Zach Thomas, and as potent as he’d been lying down, his hotness factor shot up exponentially now that he was standing, even with bed-head — or hammock-head ­ which was good news
for him, and bad news for her.

Giving out a huge yawn, he covered his mouth, then grimaced. “Sorry.”

He looked good even when yawning. She was so screwed. “Don’t be.”

He set down his boots and shirt and stretched, his t-shirt rising, giving her a quick peek at a set of lickable abs. He ran a hand over his hair, which only encouraged the short strands to riot in an effortlessly sexy way that might have been amusing, if she hadn’t been in danger of drooling.

She’d never been one to lose it for a guy in uniform, so she had no idea why now was any different, but oh my.

“We had seven calls last night,” he explained. “Fires, an explosion in the sugar factory, a toxic waste spill at the gas station on Fifth, you name it, we were at it, all night. None of us got more than an hour.” Again he ran his hand over his already standing on end hair. “We’re wiped, everyone’s sleeping.”

Beneath all that gorgeousness, a true exhaustion lined his face, and suddenly Brooke saw him as a real life and blood man. “I’m sorry I woke you. Especially after such a rough night.”

He lifted another shoulder, not anywhere close to the irritated and frustrated she’d be if she’d had only an hour of sleep. “That’s the way this job works. You wanted to meet the crew?”

“I’ll come back.”

“You want coffee first?”

She opened her mouth to say no thanks, but then she saw it in his eyes. A guard coming up. Here he was, overworked, the place obviously short-staffed, and in his eyes, she was just one in a long line of people that had flaked. That would flake. “You know, coffee would be great.”

He turned to the cupboards while she took in the kitchen. The table was a huge picnic-table style, with at least twelve chairs scattered around it. On the counter was a line of mugs the length of the tile. “How many of you are stationed here?”

“We’re on three rotating shifts, with only six firefighters and two EMTs each, which makes us . . . twenty-four? Down from thirty, thanks to some nasty cutbacks, which sucks.”

A medium size station then, but huge compared to the private ambulance company she’d worked at, where there’d been only four on at all times.

She’d have to be far more social here than she was used to. The firefighters worked twenty-four hour shifts to the EMT’s twelve, but it was still a lot of time together. She told herself that was a bonus, but really it just drummed home that once again, as she’d been all too many times before, she was the new kid in class.

Zach eased over to the coffee pot. “Black, or jacked up?”

“Jacked up, please.”

He reached for the sugar, and without her permission, her eyes took yhemselves on a little tour, starting with those wide shoulders, that long, rangy torso, and a set of buns that–

He turned and, oh perfect, caught her staring.

At his butt.

Arching a brow, he leaned back against his counter while she did her best imitation of a ceiling tile counter. When she couldn’t stand the silence and finally took a peek at him, he was handing her the mug of coffee, his eyes amused.

“Thanks,” she managed.