When a hunky fireman and a gorgeous gold medalist meet on Guy Fawkes Night, sparks are sure to fly!
For fireman Rob Monteagle, this Guy Fawkes Night seems like it’s going to be anything but fun. After all, who wants to spend the noisiest night of the year saving careless cats from trees or rattling a fundraising bucket at Longley Magna’s annual bonfire, the pride of the village’s bad-tempered old retainer?
For Ollie Tresham, the night isn’t looking any better. He might have won gold in the Olympic showjumping ring yet he’s still expected to meet the public at his dad’s charity fireworks extravaganza. But when a rogue rocket heads straight for the showjumper, it takes a quick-thinking fireman like Rob to save the day.
As the flames of the bonfire smolder, Rob and Ollie’s night is just getting started. And it’s sure to go with a bang!
When Rob Monteagle pushed open the door of the King’s Head, he walked into a lull in the conversation. He’d only recently moved to Longley Magna, and it seemed that the locals of the South Downs village were still getting the measure of him.
Rob nodded and gave a small wave to the other drinkers, and once they seemed satisfied that they knew who he was—a rather loud stage whisper from someone in the pub of “He’s that new fireman!” helped—they went back to their Saturday night conversations.
He ordered a pint of the local ale and leaned back against the old bar, wondering how to strike up a conversation—wondering who would want him to. Everyone seemed settled in their own little groups, and when Rob had attempted to join in on his last visit to the pub, he’d received a jovial barrage of remarks about helmets and hoses. Still, he had to try.
Before Rob had a chance to move, the pub door swung open, admitting a blast of cold November air to the busy taproom. It admitted a man too, and the very sight of him sent a frisson through Rob just as it did every time he caught a glimpse of the stranger, who was usually to be seen on horseback.
Tonight, though, he was on his own two feet and his handsome face was lit by a smile brighter than any fire. He stood just inside the pub doorway and called to the assembled drinkers, “I need a hero who doesn’t mind heights, at the double!”
Rob put his pint down on the bar. Now here was an opportunity to be useful to the community and—well, he had to be honest, the bloke was gorgeous.
“I don’t know about a hero, but I’m not scared of heights. Been up a fair few ladders in my time!” He crossed the room and smiled into the man’s sparkling dark eyes. “I’m Rob, the new fire officer at Longley Magna station—don’t think we’ve been introduced.”
“Ollie, and you look just like the hero I need,” the man told him. He took Rob’s hand and shook it, the dark green waxed jacket he wore rustling as he did. And jodhpurs, Rob noticed, though he tried hard not to. Why did this handsome man named Ollie always have to be in jodhpurs? “Terrified of heights, but always trying to save a damsel in distress—even if she does have a tail and whiskers!”
“Is it Smudge again?” the landlord called. Ollie’s nod elicited a chorus of long-suffering groans from the drinkers. Then, still holding Rob’s hand, he towed him out into the late afternoon dusk.
“There.” Ollie pointed to the oak in the middle of the village green, where a black and white cat was sitting quite contentedly among the boughs. At the foot of the tree was an elderly woman, a dish in her hands that was clearly intended to tempt the creature down. “Can you hop up the tree and do the necessary for Mrs. Cooper’s pride and joy?”
“Don’t see why not!” Rob grinned.
The old tree was a breeze to climb, with several low branches and thick bark that gave Rob purchase as he nimbly ascended the trunk. Once he was level with the cat, he sat astride the branch she had settled on and beckoned her.
“Smudge? Hey there, madam. Would you mind climbing down now?”
“Be careful!” Ollie called from where he had joined the lady with the dish. At the pub door drinkers gathered, watching the new firefighter save the day. The cat, meanwhile, began edging along the branch until she reached Rob. Then she nuzzled against him and let out a long, low purr.
Rob waved down to his audience. “We’re okay!” He stroked Smudge, whispering assurances to her before slipping her into one of the large pockets of his peacoat. He made his way down carefully but jumped the last few feet and produced Smudge from his pocket, like a magician producing a rabbit from a hat. A cheer went up from the assembled drinkers as the cat nuzzled against his chin.
The lady took the cat in her arms despite the dish, snuggling her close as she told Rob, “Thank you! She does this every time I won’t give her a sausage—she’s a terror!”
Rob grinned. “We all like a sausage!”
“Some of us more than others.” Ollie laughed. He patted Rob’s shoulder and asked, “Buy you a beer to say thanks?”
“You don’t have to do that, really, I’m happy to help.” Rob was still grinning. “But go on then, I won’t say no! Back to the King’s Head?”
Which, Rob realized, was a daft question, because as far as he was aware, it was Longley Magna’s only pub. And he had left a pint on the bar, and he couldn’t really have two since he was on bucket duty in an hour, but despite all of that, he wasn’t going to say no to the handsome man in the form-fitting jodhpurs.
“What’re you drinking?” Ollie shepherded him through the drinkers who were on their way back into the pub, where the fire roared and the conversation hummed. He knew them all, Rob could see, with his companion receiving slaps on the back and cheery welcomes from what seemed like everyone. “Something fit for a hero?”
Awkward, Rob shook his head. “No, I’m not a hero—just a reckless fool with no fear of heights!”
He picked up his pint and was dismayed to see the spectacle of a pork scratching bobbing on the surface of his ale. “Wouldn’t mind a new one of these, Ollie, if there’s one going? A pint of the local ale without the garnish, please.”