Protect Me (Rivers Edge Book 4)(3)

By: Lacey Black



As I step out onto the sidewalk, towards the filled parking lot that leads to the busy street, I can’t help the smile that crosses my battered face.

I am free.

I’m finally free.





Chapter One


Nate


Present Day




Why does the thirty-minute drive home always feel like an hour? Maybe it’s the fact that it’s well after six in the morning? Or maybe it’s the fact that I just got off another twenty-four hour shift? How about that I’ve had very little to no sleep? Take your pick.

I yawn loudly as I pass the warm “Welcome to Rivers Edge” sign. Rivers Edge sits along the Missouri River and is home to seven thousand of the nosiest people in the state of Missouri. Everyone knows everything about everyone. There’s no such thing as secrets in a town like Rivers Edge. Want to know something about anyone in town? Just walk up to the beauty shop or stop by the hardware store around three o’clock in the afternoon when the older men gather in the backroom for coffee. You’ll learn plenty about everyone in town, including yourself, that you probably didn’t even know.

But for all the gossip and drama that comes with a small, close-knit town, you also get plenty of positive. Neighbors who know your name and offer help no matter what time of day. Local small businesses who support each other and strive to provide quality product. People who wave as you pass on the street or say “hello” as you pass on the sidewalk. Rivers Edge is a friendly community and for all the times I’ve thought about getting the hell out, I just can’t see myself leaving.

Which is why I drive thirty minutes one-way to my regular, full-time job. I am a Lieutenant with Company 732 of the St. Charles Fire Department. I love it. Fighting fire is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s not the glory or the status. It’s the satisfaction of a job well done. It’s the challenge. The fight.

I also volunteer for the Rivers Edge Fire Department where, last month, I was promoted to Captain. The entire squadron took me out for drinks afterwards to Jack’s Pub to celebrate. That’s also where I was introduced to the lovely Vicki. She helped me celebrate - after hours. I’ve enjoyed the company of Vicki three times in the past few weeks. She’s a yoga instructor at the fitness center in town and believe me when I say, she’s bendy as fuck!

As I start to pass by the buildings of our downtown district and continue along Main Street, I can’t help but let my imagination wander towards Vicki’s lean legs and flat stomach. The woman has a model-thin figure with small, perky tits. Though Vicki and I aren’t anything exclusive - hell, we aren’t even dating - I haven’t really had the desire or need to fill my bed with the ever-present stream of women eager to jump a fireman. Seriously, it’s so easy, it’s sickening. Tell a few ladies that you’re a fireman and the panties practically evaporate into thin air.

I’ve never had any trouble finding a date. I’m a six foot two fireman with sandy blond hair and blue eyes with a little green mixed in. The dimple I have in my right cheek pretty much ensures me that I get plenty of phone numbers. Throw in some badass tattoos, and my baby - a metallic blue 1969 Ford Mustang with a silver racing stripe and a three-fifty-one on the column. When you drive a classic muscle car, it practically ensures that you get plenty of pussy.

This lifestyle has suited me just fine for years. I have no desire to settle down. Definitely not like my older brother, Jake. He met his fiancée, Erin, eighteen months ago, and they are going to be married in a few weeks. Actually, they went to school together years and years ago and reunited when Erin moved back to town. Jake was the ultimate player before Erin came along. Was being the keyword there. Now, Jake goes home, removes his balls, and hands them to Erin every night for safe keeping in her purse. They snuggle and watch chick flicks and shit. It’s nauseatingly domestic.

My youngest brother, Travis, got married almost a year ago. But, honestly, that one didn’t surprise me as much. Travis has always been the softer Stevens brother. His wife, Josselyn, showed up one day and announced she was pregnant after a one-night stand the night Avery and Maddox got married. Of course, Travis and Josselyn weren’t married at the time. Hell, they didn’t even really know each other. My nephew, Grant, is the shit. Coolest little dude ever. I love that little guy like he’s my own. He’ll be a year old in a few short months, and I can’t wait to spoil the crap out of him. Hell, I do that now. Pisses off his dad - which is one of the main reasons I do it.

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