Putting Out Old Flames (Pineville #1) - Allyson Charles Page 0,1

time to plan a charity ball and fireman auction. We have a lot to do.”

Judge Nichols pulled the phone away from his ear. “Well, I’m glad you feel that way because the third member of our meeting isn’t answering his phone. I can’t cancel anyway. He should be here shortly.” Brushing his hand through his hair again, he said, “But if you really don’t feel well, I can wait for him outside and tell him we’re rescheduling.”

“Today’s fine.” Jane walked to the attached open kitchen and washed her hands. “I do feel a whole lot better than I did a couple of hours ago.” The clock on the wall above her oven read 5:30 p.m. She’d slept for almost eight hours straight. Pouring water into her teapot, she set it on the stove to heat and shuffled back to the living room, flopping on the other end of the couch. “And we really don’t have any time to waste. I want this fundraiser to be a success.”

As a local dispatcher for emergency calls, Jane knew most of the firefighters well. Knew their families. Every couple of years the town held a fundraiser for the Michigan Firefighters Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund. After a large refinery fire had killed two firemen in upstate Michigan last year, reminding Jane of just what their local firefighters faced, she’d jumped at the chance to help out and be one of the cochairs of the fundraising committee.

“So tell me about our third cochair,” Jane asked. “I have yet to meet the new assistant fire chief. He just started last week, right? I can’t believe he was already roped into helping with this fundraiser.”

A devious smile turned up the edges of the judge’s lips. “I believe it was a part of his initiation. He was given a couple of choices of what he, as the new guy, could do. I believe this was the least objectionable.”

“The boys in Firehouse 10 gave him a choice?” She shook her head. “They must be going soft.”

A firm knock on the door interrupted them.

“That must be the lucky man now.” Jane pushed to her feet. “What’s the new guy’s name?”

“Assistant Chief McGovern.” The wrinkles in the judge’s forehead deepened. “First name Thomas, I believe.”

“Huh.” That was funny. She used to know someone with that name. But that T. McGovern would never have been caught dead wearing the blue-collar uniform of a firefighter. She moved to open the door.

“Wait, Jane!”

She turned, hand on the knob. The judge had risen to his feet. Even though the older man only stood at about Jane’s own five foot six, he had presence. A sense of authority and calm that made few question his decisions. But right now, he just seemed agitated.

“I think you should know, uh . . .” He brushed violently at his hair.

She raised an eyebrow. Very odd. “Hold that thought.”

Shaking her head, she pulled the door open.

And everything stopped. Her heart. The faint pounding in her head. Her breath. Time itself seemed to suck in a deep breath and hold it.

The chiseled jaw in front of her dropped. “Jane? Jane Willoughby? Is that really you?”

She didn’t know how long she would have stood there, staring at her high school love. The boy who’d ripped her heart in two, stuck a bite in his mouth, chewed it up, spit it out, and then ground the half-masticated bit under his heel. Not that she was still bitter about it or anything.

She knew her eyes were as wide as her open mouth, but couldn’t pull herself together enough to close them. The shrieking whistle of