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Chapter One

Brant's girlfriend was going to be the death of him. Again. Oh, she hadn't meant to blow him up that one time before… But it'd happened, and he'd had to pretend to go on some “vacation” while he spent a day or two rising from the ashes. Folklore was not entirely accurate in that respect. Sure, phoenixes came back from the dead…eventually.

Right now, he was feeling that telltale ache in his gut, letting him know that a fire was eminent. Something he'd been able to do since he was knee-high to his grandpa. Some three hundred years now.

Long ago he'd broken from tradition and decided to live alone, working fires and saving lives with his ability, living as a human and searching for his fire mate at every turn. By now, he'd figured that a mate wasn't in the cards for him, and he'd found himself a gal that made his heart nearly stop every time he saw her.

Half the time it stopped from her beauty both inside and out. The other half of the time his heart nearly disintegrated was because something else around her old ranch house had caught fire or blown up while she stood inches—sometimes less—from the flames. She was unlucky as all get out in some respects, and the luckiest woman alive in others.

Thank fire.

Brant took a break from his paperwork, endless paperwork since he'd become the chief and fire investigator for the town, and stepped outside. The wind whipped around him, caressing his face, warming and cooling him at the same time, calling to his bird. His back tingled, wings fluttering beneath the surface, and he ached to take flight, searching for the fire. Then again, he knew exactly where it would be. He could feel a pull toward the north and west of the station. Open fields of dirt, rock and brush, as well as Phoebe's place, laid out that way. He didn't think the brush spontaneously combusted, which meant his Phoebe had gotten into trouble. Again.

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