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Off Chance (E-Book)

Off Chance (E-Book)

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He is seeking absolution.

Flynn Caldwell has a hero complex and it’s one of the reasons he joined the New York City Fire Department. He has spent his entire professional career trying to atone for that one person he failed to save. Because, if he can do that, then perhaps he can be worthy of love again.

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She is seeking escape.

Rowan Page’s life is nothing short of a disaster. Always immersed in trouble, she has only herself to depend on. She’s determined to pull herself out of this mess and make something of her life, despite the hard years she has lived on the streets of New York.

Together, they have the chance to become complete.

Flynn and Rowan’s worlds exist miles apart, but when a chance meeting brings them together, neither of them can deny the instant pull that connects them to each other. What starts as a tiny spark eventually flares into a fire so hot, it refuses to be extinguished.

 

For it to work, both of them will need to jump feet first into the flames to see where it takes them, despite the risk of being burned.

Read Chapter One

Prologue

Flynn

8 years ago

I glance down at my watch.

11:50 PM

In about ten minutes, I’m going to see Marney. In about twenty minutes, I’m going to be buried deep inside of her. My horny, eighteen-year-old body starts to get a boner just thinking about it.

Marney and I have been dating for just over six months but we had sex for the first time very recently.

Five days ago to be exact.

That’s one-hundred and twenty long hours or seven-thousand, two hundred excruciating minutes.

We haven’t been able to see each other the last few days between school events and work. She’s on our high school soccer team and I play baseball. When we’re not working our part-time jobs, we have our studies, and although we are just weeks away from graduation, we are both competitive and strive for good grades.

That’s a lot of shit we both have going on, which means our time together has been limited. And that’s pretty fucked up in my opinion, because sex with Marney really should be a priority in my life.

Damn... I love my girl!

She is everything a guy could ever want. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, smart as shit, and funny as hell. We hadn’t been going out barely three weeks and I knew I was in love with her. I was too chicken shit to say anything, but luckily for me, Marney confessed she loved me first, at just the five-week mark in our relationship, and then I was able to reciprocate.

Even though love hit us kind of fast, we took our time with sex. Which is strange, now that I think about it, because neither one of us were virgins. Marney had been dating our high school quarterback, Sam Faber, since the ninth grade, but they had broken it off at the end of our junior year.

Lucky for me!

And while I hate to think about Marney having sex with Sam, I’m grateful I didn’t have to worry about deflowering a virgin. I mean, that’s a lot of pressure on a dude. I’d been around the block a time or two, so even though I certainly had the ability to eradicate the V-card, I was still glad I didn’t have to.

It made that first time together freakin’ fantastic. There was no fumbling around or uncertainties between us. We chose our six-month anniversary to have sex for the first time and it was mind blowing. It was exactly how I’d imagined it would be... soft, slow, and shattering. I’d gotten us a hotel room for the night and, armed with a box of condoms, both of us left starry-eyed and sore the next day.

We made plans to sneak out and meet up tonight. Marney lives just two blocks east of me and I’m going to her house to get her. I know just the place to take her. There’s a quiet spot in the woods that border Griffith Park and it’s perfect because it’s an unusually warm spring night. I pilfered a bottle of wine from my parents’ liquor cabinet as a surprise and I hope to spend most of the time making love to my girl under the stars. Glancing at my watch again, I note the time.

11:55 PM.

Time to rock and roll.

Bending over, I grab my backpack, which has a blanket and the wine... oh, and condoms. Just as I turn for the bedroom door, the piercing wail of a siren slams into my brain. I walk to the window and pull the curtain back, catching a glimpse of a fire truck as it barrels down the road right in front of our house.

I hope to God the sound doesn’t wake my parents up and ruin my escape plan. Just as I start to turn away from the window, an orange glow catches my eye.

Right over the rooftops of the houses across the street... just east of here.

My brain doesn’t process what I’m seeing at first, but then I realize the glow is from a fire, and it looks to be pretty big. Now I know where the fire truck is going.

I turn away from the window but then a shiver runs up my spine, warning me that something is wrong. Turning back again slowly, I look back at the fire.

Just east of here.

Oh God!

Marney lives just east of here and my stomach bottoms out as I realize that glow is coming from somewhere in the vicinity of her house.

I pull my cell phone out of my pocket and hit Marney’s number. It rings four times before going to voice mail. There’s no fucking way she wouldn’t answer.

Dropping my backpack, I sprint for my bedroom door, throwing it open so hard it slams against the wall with a resounding crack, knocking my signed photograph of Martin Brodeur to the floor, where it shatters. Adrenaline pumps through me as I take the stairs three at a time. I vaguely hear my dad calling out, “What the hell was that?” but I’m out the front door and tearing down the street.

I would normally go down Pine, then turn east onto Glenford Street until I hit Macon to get to Marney’s but fuck that... I don’t have time. Angling through Mrs. Capistrano’s yard, I scrabble over her chain-link fence, only to take three sprinting strides in her small backyard, and do the same to get over the back part of the enclosure.

Dodging and weaving through the next block of yards, I run out onto Macon Street and come to a dead stop.

Marney’s house is just two doors down and my knees almost buckle underneath me when I see it. Flames leap out of the downstairs windows and thick, white smoke pours out from under the eaves. Four large fire trucks are parked outside of her house, two with ladders already extended with water raining down onto the top floor. The rest of the street is filled with police cars and two ambulances. My hesitation lasts only a second before I start running.

Running toward Marney.

I push my way through a sizable crowd, which has filled the streets, knocking people roughly out of my way. I think I even knock a lady over but I could give a shit. Careening around one of the fire trucks, I’m almost knocked backward by the wave of heat that is pouring off her house. With a huge boom, the upstairs windows explode outward, raining glass all around. Huge tongues of flame are now waving from every window but I don’t stop. In fact, I kick my speed up a notch.

I’m just steps away from the front porch, holding my arm up to ward off the heat. I can’t even fathom how I’m going to get inside with the fire pouring out the front door, but that doesn’t slow my progress.

Almost there... three feet from the first porch step and then... I’m tackled from the side.

My body slams into the ground and the air is knocked completely out of me. I try to take in a breath, but my lungs aren’t working. Fuck it... I don’t need them to get to Marney. I start

struggling with the lead weight that is on top of me, vaguely noticing that it appears to be a fireman.

Pushing hard against him, I try to get my legs up so I can kick him off me. I make another attempt to breathe but my lungs still aren’t cooperating.

Pulling on the last vestiges of air I have left in me, I rasp, “Get the fuck off.”

“All right, kid... calm down,” I hear and then the weight is gone.

I suck in a huge lungful of oxygen. Replenished, I spring to my feet and start to make a dash for the porch but arms of fucking steel wrap around my waist, slinging me away from the house. I stumble for a few feet and then right myself.

Spinning around, the fireman is standing between Marney’s house and me with his arms held out in front of him. “You can’t go in there, kid.”

“The fuck I can’t,” I scream at him. “My girlfriend is in there.”

“I’m sorry...” he starts to say but I don’t have time for this shit.

Lunging for the house, I try to juke around the fireman but my skills must be rusty. He easily catches me again, wrapping me in a bear hug that I cannot break free from.

My body strains toward the house, the blazing heat causing rivulets of sweat to pour from my face.

“Marney,” I scream. My eyes frantically search the windows, hoping to see her somehow through the angry flames and billowing smoke.

I try to lunge toward the house, time and time again, but the firefighter isn’t letting me go. I scream Marney’s name, over and over, until my throat feels like it’s riddled with glass shards.

“She’s gone, kid. No one made it out.”

The minute his words penetrate my brain, my body goes still. I can feel his hold start to marginally relax but he doesn’t let go just yet.

“Gone?” I whisper.

“Yes. The house was fully involved by the time we got here. There was no way to get anyone out.”

The fireman’s arms fall away from my body and he takes a small step back. His body is still tense though and he’s just waiting for me to spring into action again.

My eyes flick to the inferno and then back to him. “Are you sure?”

The pleading tone in my voice causes him to wince but he nods his head.

My knees finally give out, and I sag to the ground. Bowing my head, I clutch desperately at the grass in Marney’s front yard.

No, no, no, no, no.

This isn’t happening.

Marney isn’t in there. There’s no way she died that way. The thought of Marney’s burning body causes bile to rise up in my throat.

I look up to the fireman, who is still standing there. The raging fire behind him causes his body to be nothing more than a dark silhouette... a man without a face.

“Are you okay, kid?”

Shaking my head, I whisper, “I can’t bear to think of the pain she was in...”

The faceless man kneels down in front of me and lays a hand on my shoulder. He squeezes it gently. “She was probably long gone from smoke inhalation before the fire reached her. Okay? She probably didn’t feel a thing.”

I know his words are meant to comfort me but the balmy effect falls flat. My eyes fill with tears and I look back down to the ground.

There’s no reason she should have died that way.

The firemen should have tried to push their way in.

They should have sent five trucks instead of four.

They should have gotten here faster.

I should have gotten here faster.

I should have arranged for an earlier time to meet. If I had, Marney would have been out of the house, safe in my arms.

I could have saved her and I didn’t.

The hard reality of my failure sets in, and the tears start spilling from my eyes. It’s the first time I’ve cried since I was a little kid. I let them flow, not giving a shit what the fireman thinks, or what anyone thinks for that matter. I watch as my tears fall from my face and hit the green blades of spring grass before me.

“Flynn!”

I turn and see my mom and dad running for me. The fireman stands up and walks away, and then I’m in my parents’ arms.

“I’m so sorry, baby,” my mom murmurs as she strokes the tears from my face. Fresh ones replace them and I can see through the wavering haze that my mom is crying, too.

My dad’s arms engulf both of us and I rest my chin on my mom’s head.

I gaze over my dad’s shoulder and watch my Marney burn away.

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Product Release Date: October 19, 2013

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