Divorced dad Birley Haynes is too busy raising his children and running his family’s music academy to start a relationship. Then Harmony Holdich, his high school sweetheart, returns home to Willow Springs, Vermont for Christmas and falls into his bed. She brings light and fun back into his life, but he can’t brush aside the threatening incidents around his workplace.
Harmony hadn’t expected a complication like Birley, especially so soon after the death of her unfaithful husband. With her life a mess, she plans to move across the country and start over. All she can offer him is a fling, but her heart yearns for more.
When the threats rise, how will Birley keep his children safe and convince Harmony to give love another chance?
Harmony bolted upright. A piercing beep blasted her eardrums. “What the hell?”
“Get dressed. That’s the smoke alarm.” Birley launched to his feet. Moonlight sharpened the rigid planes of his back as he grabbed his clothes. He scowled at her, his irises glinting. “Now.”
“Right.” She scurried from the bed and yanked on her sweater and pants.
He booked it out of the room, then returned and tossed Harmony her jacket. He’d already buttoned his coat haphazardly across his chest.
She jerked on the jacket and her boots, her pounding heart striking her ribcage.
He looped her fuzzy scarf around her neck before pulling her down the hall.
“I don’t smell smoke.” She shivered. The alarm blared from the living room ceiling, and a built-in light flashed red like a demonic beacon in the darkness. No puffs of gray filled the apartment, but what about downstairs? She headed toward the main door.
He tightened his grip on her arm, stopping her. “All the alarms are linked, upstairs and down. Go out the back. I’ll check downstairs.”
“Hell no. We stay together.”
“Don’t fight me on this. Get going.” He pressed a quick kiss to her lips, then pushed her toward the kitchen. After he lightly touched the doorknob, testing it for heat, he jerked open the main door and hustled down the stairs.
Harmony bit her lip. She clutched the kitchen doorjamb, but the back door might as well be bolted shut. No way would she leave him in a burning house. She strode back across the living room. The narrow staircase widened as she descended. Another blinking red light cast shadows along the paneled walls. She gripped the rail for balance. The shrill, intermittent beeps quickened her pulse. Each pause of silence was a godsend, but the whistling and crackling of fire seized the coveted peace.
She tapped the doorknob. Whew! It was cool to the touch. Fire thrived on ventilation and oxygen, so she hurried into the hall and closed the door to protect the upstairs. Tendrils of smoke wafted along the ceiling. Her nose twitched. Where was he? A whooshing noise split the air. She raced toward the pipes practice room. Heat slicked her brow. Flames lit the darkness. She gasped and clutched her chest from the open doorway.
Birley aimed an extinguisher at the flames licking the walls, but the fire was spreading faster than the white foam could cover. Water sprayed from the sprinklers and slicked back his hair. A draft from the broken window whipped the flames, which ignited a stack of fallen sheet music. He stomped on the papers, smothering the sparks.
What the hell was he thinking? The acrid stench of gasoline and gray smoke stung her nostrils. She coughed, spitting mucus on her sleeve, and jerked her scarf over her mouth and nose. Sweat trickled down her back. Her eyes watered. The muscles in her neck and shoulders pulled so tight she ached. Glass shattered in another parlor, and she jumped.
“Birley! We have to go.” She rushed into the room and grabbed his arm.
“What are you doing in here?” He squirted foam at a fiery bookcase. Frenzy widened his eyes. He coughed hard and wiped his arm across his sooty face. “Go. The alarms are connected to the security company, so the cops and the fire department should be on their way.”
“Damn it. You are leaving. Another room is on fire.” So she assumed. Why else would the glass break? Would the ceiling above her cave in? No flames touched it—yet. “Think about your kids.”
He stiffened. Foam fizzled from the nozzle in a short, quick burst. The canister slipped from his hands and dropped with a loud clunk. “You’re right.” He pushed her out of the room, tugged the sleeve of his coat over his hand, and gripped the door. The barrier slammed shut behind them. They raced out the back door.
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