Six months after her lover died in an arsonist's blaze, firefighter Lora Spade calls in the FBI's elite Serial Services Division to track the elusive killer. When Special Agent Kenton Lake is lured into a violent inferno, Lora pulls him to safety and is stunned - not by the fire, but by her own searing attraction to Kent. For the first time in months, she longs for something other than vengeance.
He wants her . . .
Kenton's interest in Lora should be purely professional. But one fleeting kiss and he can't get her out of his mind. Her combination of strength and vulnerability makes him want to protect her, and that means solving this case - and fast. For even the passion igniting between them can't hide a terrifying truth: Lora is the next target in a murderer's sadistic, fiery game.
A vicious killer wants only . . .
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By Eden, Cynthia
ForeverCopyright © 2011 Eden, Cynthia
All right reserved.
The fire came at him, fast and hot. The orange flames licked across the floor, climbed the walls, and rolled in hungry waves.
The screams filled his ears. His mother’s cries. She called for him, over and over, but he didn’t answer her. Couldn’t. The flames and smoke had stolen his breath, and all he could do was watch.
So beautiful. The flames danced for him. Danced and whispered. Crackled and rose. He couldn’t look away. Didn’t want to.
Smoke billowed around him, trapping him in a fog. His fingers curled tight over his precious prize. Won’t let go. Won’t ever let go.
The fire touched him, biting his arm, but he didn’t cry out.
He just watched.
And his mother stopped screaming. Just like his dad had stopped. He’d stopped long ago…
The flames were bigger. Rolling toward him now. Faster, faster. So hot. His lips began to curl.
Then the monsters came. Giant beasts with long noses, robot eyes, and tubes shooting from their mouths.
One grabbed him, slapping at his left arm, and he screamed.
But the monster didn’t let him go.
Water shot at the flames. Cold, icy water that hit his skin.
The monster’s arms were tight around him. And then the monster ran, taking him right through the thick smoke and letting him see those dancing flames again.
The fresh air hit him. He choked at the first taste and the monster was there, always there, but yanking off a mask and it was—
A man. “The kid’s alive! Get me some oxygen! Get the damn EMTs over here!”
More hands. Touching. Stroking. Hurting. Another man shoved a mask over his face. No, don’t want it, don’t want—
The mask pressed too hard against his nose and mouth.
The same man rubbed something ice-cold on his arm right over the fire’s kiss. Then the guy wrapped bandages around him and slapped tape around the edges.
They put him on a stretcher. As they hauled him toward an ambulance, he saw his house. Firefighters stood on the roof, swinging with their axes, sending fire and smoke billowing into the sky.
The windows at the front of his home exploded, and giant shards of glass flew onto the porch.
Firefighters ran out of the doorway, yelling. One had his mother in his arms.
She wasn’t moving, and her body…
He glanced down at his hand, still clenched so tight around his prize.
“It’s gonna be okay, boy. You’re gonna be fine…” This came from the man who’d pulled him out. A big guy, with red cheeks and dark green eyes. “You’re safe now.”
But his mom wasn’t. Neither was his dad.
A shout came, an order for backup, and the man turned away.
His fingers uncurled.
The match lay in his hand. The red tip was black now.
“Got to be arson, sir… the way the fire is spreading… accelerant…” Another firefighter, talking fast to a guy with a big radio.
He let the match slide from his fingers. It fell to the ground and sank into the grass.
“All right, kid.” The EMT was back. Looking pale, tense. “It’s time to get you to the hos—”
“My mom’s dead.”
The man swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
He looked at that fire. So bright now. “My dad, too?” He already knew.
“We got a call in to your grandparents—”
He didn’t cry. Didn’t blink.
“We’re gettin’ you to the hospital.” A woman appeared at his side. They lifted him up and put him in the back of the ambulance. The doors slammed closed, shutting out the fire.
But I wanted to watch. His lips tightened.
He looked at his palm. He could see the black marks from the match.
The siren screamed on.
And he smiled.
Choosing to run into a burning building probably wasn’t the smartest decision he’d ever made. Then again, sadly, it wasn’t his dumbest either.
Kenton Lake choked in a deep breath of air—already tasted the smoke—then lifted his arm over his mouth. Some jobs just sucked.
He went into the wall of smoke. Ah, hell.
His nostrils burned. Heat scored his flesh, but he heard the voice calling, the same voice that had lured him to the building, lured him across the street and into this inferno.
“H-help! Dammit, h-help me!”
His informer. Upstairs. In the middle of the flames and fury.
He jerked off his jacket, covered his mouth, and tried to stay as low to the floor as he could.
His eyes burned, and the ash and fire singed his nostrils. How the hell had this happened? He was investigating arson, not supposed to get drawn into—
Part of the ceiling fell behind him.
Kenton glared up at the long row of stairs. Ten-to-one odds they’d fall away before he got to the top.
Ten to one.
He took the stairs. One. Two. Three.
And, yep, they gave way just when he reached stair number four. Kenton went down, hard. The broken wood bit into his arms and legs, and the fire flew toward him.
A blast of water shot out, hard and fast, slamming into the flames.
Someone grabbed him, hauled him up, and a hand locked tight around his arm. Kenton found himself staring right at a firefighter.
He caught a smoky glimpse of narrowed eyes behind a clear eye shield. Kenton had a fast impression of a thick, black helmet and a brown uniform—
The firefighter shoved him forward, obviously trying to send him toward the front of the building.
More firefighters swarmed around him, battling the fire. Some struck out with axes, some scrambled into the rooms.
Couldn’t they hear the voice calling for help?
He tried to break free and jump for those stairs. There was a gap, he could make it, he might—
The firefighter who’d grabbed him before dragged him right back and gave a hard negative shake of that black helmet.
Screw that, he wasn’t leaving a victim behind—
He wrenched away.
Then the firefighter slugged him. Hard. Right in his jaw. Damn, one hell of a hit.
Kenton went down.
The firefighter’s arms wrapped around him. Another grabbed him. Another.
Then they dragged his ass out of the flames.
“Idiot!” The snarl came at him the minute the oxygen mask was shoved onto his face. Kenton looked up, gaze narrowed against the smoke that still burned his eyes, and saw the firefighter—the asshole who’d slugged him—jerk off his helmet and mask—
Um, her helmet and mask. Not a man, there. No way.
He swallowed and choked a bit.
He could make out her eyes better now. Gorgeous, shimmering gold, so clear and deep and—
He threw the oxygen mask aside and leaped to his feet. “You left a man in there!”
Those golden eyes widened. Very slowly, she lifted her right hand, a fragile hand that had packed a whole lot of punch, and pointed to the left.
A fire truck ladder was lowering as it moved away from the building. And a man was on the ladder. Older, with stooped shoulders and a soot-stained face. A firefighter had him in a tight grip, and the guy appeared to be coughing up a lung.
“Got him,” she said sweetly, her voice a slow drawl of the South that reminded him of a teammate at the Bureau.
His gaze flew back to her. He looked now, really looked. Short blond hair, wet from sweat and the heat, was molded to her head. Her face was all strong angles, with a sharp, pointed chin. Wide, golden eyes. Cat eyes. Not conventionally pretty. Not really.
But with those full lips, those cheekbones and, damn, those eyes—sexy.
Her hands were on her hips now. He couldn’t tell a thing about the shape of her body, not in that thick uniform, but she was tall, just a few inches shy of his own six foot three.
Probably long and lean, and he usually liked them a bit softer around the edges and—
“Wanna tell me why you’ve got a death wish, GQ?”
GQ? He glanced down at his ruined suit. Right. So she was funny. Or wanted to be. “I heard…” He coughed and had to pause to clear his throat and breathe. “I heard… him calling for help.” He wouldn’t tell her the guy was his informant, not yet. That was on a need-to-know basis. Bedroom eyes didn’t need to know that yet.
Those eyes. Impressive, really. They were so big that he was surprised she’d gotten them to go so mean and small, so fast. “Firefighters fight the flames.” Ice could have dripped from that drawl. Interesting. Ice in a fiery hell. “Not businessmen with a hero complex.”
He rubbed his jaw. It hurt. So did his ego. “You always punch out your victims? That part of your complex?”
She shook her head. “I only punch when the guys are dumb enough to fight help when it comes.”
Ah, now that was the second time she’d insulted his intelligence. He reached into his back pocket. Yanked out his wallet. The leather stuck a bit when he tried to open it, but he shoved his ID toward her. “FBI, sweetheart. I think I know how to handle a dangerous situation.”
She didn’t even glance down. “I think that’s debatable.”
A snicker came from behind him.
Great. An audience. He’d forgotten all about the EMTs.
His sexy savior—with the serious attitude—turned away. “Get him checked out, Harry,” she called out and marched away.
That was it?
His gaze dropped. Couldn’t help it. Even in that thick garb, she had a nice sway.
“You—you assaulted an officer!” It was all he could think of right then. She was heading for his informant, leaving him in her dust.
He didn’t want her to go. Not yet.
Her name was on the lower back of her uniform. Spelled out in big, reflective letters. L. SPADE.
She threw a vulgar gesture over her shoulder, but didn’t stop walking.
Well, well… He couldn’t fight the smile that lifted his lips.
“Dude, you better stop while you’re ahead.” From the EMT. What had she called him? Harvey? Harry?
Kenton tossed the oxygen mask at him. Spade was too close to his informant. No way was she getting first crack at him.
The guy was his. Once he stopped trying to cough up his lung, anyway.
“Hey—wait! You need to go to the ER. You can’t just—”
Kenton shoved his way through the crowd. There were gawkers lined up across the street, watching the fire begin to sputter. Smoke drifted lazily into the night air, the sirens wailed, and general chaos ensued.
The informant reached the ground, and the paramedics immediately swarmed him.
“We need him taken to Langley General, stat!” Spade’s voice. “Sir, sir—you’re gonna be all right! You hear me? You’re safe!”
The guy coughed, shuddered, and seemed to pull in on himself. Then he broke free of the paramedics and ran right at L. Spade.
Uh-oh, was she gonna punch him, too?
No, a coughing fit took him down.
Then it was a pile of bodies as the paramedics got to work. When the guy appeared again, he was strapped to a gurney, twitching, shouting, and spitting.
“You’re welcome.” Spade sighed, running a hand through her short hair. “Must be the night for assholes,” she muttered.
Kenton came up close beside her. “Guess it must.”
Her head turned toward him. Those amazing eyes narrowed. Huh. Kinda like golden fire staring right back at him.
“Who the hell are you?” someone snarled.
Kenton glanced away from Spade, and up. Damn. A big guy, both in height and width, with a grizzled gray beard and beady moss-green eyes.
“Chief, this here’s an FBI agent…” Her drawl thickened, deliberately, he was sure.
A grunt. “You the fool Lora had to pull out of the building?”
What was with these people? Weren’t firefighters supposed to be helpful and kind?
“What were you doing here?” the chief demanded, jabbing a thick finger toward him. “This is a known drug area, and it’s—”
“That’s why I was here.” Ah, bullshit. He could do it so well. “Investigation, you know. Classified—can’t discuss it with you.” His prey was getting away. An EMT shoved the screaming man into the back of the ambulance. Great. He already knew the guy was a runner. If the fellow made it to the hospital, he’d vanish long before emergency personnel got hold of him.
The chief turned away. “Long, Suvalis—get those hoses over here! We still got flames…”
“You are so full of crap.” Ah, this from the sweet-tongued Lora Spade.
He blinked at her. “Sorry, I’m suddenly feeling… a little woozy.” He rubbed his jaw. “Could be from the blow I took. I think, I–I think I need to get to the hospital.”
Kenton took a step away, his eyes already on that ambulance.
She touched his arm. He felt the heat of that touch right through the sleeve of his dress shirt. “What’s your name, GQ?”
“Kenton. Special Agent Kenton Lake.” So she felt the connection, too, that hot zip of attraction.
“Thanks. I needed your name since I’ll be reporting your actions to your boss at the Bureau.”
What? She was reporting him? She was the one who should be—
A siren screamed on. No, no, it can’t get away. “Talk to you later, sweetheart.” He broke into a run. No, don’t shut that door—“Wait!” The EMT glanced back. “I’m coming with you.” He dug out his mangled ID, waved it at the guy, then jumped inside.
As the door slammed shut behind him, Kenton tossed a hard grin at the man he suspected to be Louis Jerome, informer extraordinaire. “You didn’t think I’d miss our meeting, did you?”
That stopped the screaming.
“Uh, sir, you need to sit back—”
He shook his head, hard, and the EMT quieted. “Tell me what’s going on, Jerome. Tell me what’s happening with these fires, tell me why you called—”
“N-name’s… not… Jerome.” Hoarse. Either from the fire or from the screaming. “Larry. Larry… Powell. Don’t know… who the… fuck you are.”
Kenton’s body tensed. The words didn’t sound like a lie. Those eyes didn’t look like the guy was lying either. After so many years of tracking criminals, Kenton was good at finding the lies.
Kenton reached for his phone, but his pocket was empty. He must have dropped it during the fall. Dammit. He needed to run a check on this guy, Larry Powell.
Because if this wasn’t his informant…
Then where’s Jerome?
“Prick.” Lora Spade watched the ambulance pull away in a flash of lights and shook her head. Those Bureau boys always thought they ruled the world.
Okay, yeah, he had been hot, and not just because of the flames around him.
But still… a prick.
She glanced back at the building. They’d contained the fire, a damn good thing. In this part of Charlottesville, Virginia, the buildings were slammed right next to each other. The situation could have gone bad, too quickly.
“Spade!” Chief Frank Garrison roared her name. “Spade, get over here!”
The man rarely bothered using his radio. After all, why bother? Despite twenty-plus years of fighting fires, his lungs were plenty strong enough for good yells.
She hightailed it toward him. He’d stationed himself near the front of the smoking building, and his hands were in hamlike fists on his hips. A pose that she knew meant trouble.
“We got a damn body.” He spat on the ground. He did that when he was upset. She’d learned to watch her toes around him. “Or what’s left of one.”
Lora sucked in a sharp breath. A victim? But they’d done a primary and secondary sweep, they’d searched all possible rooms—and gotten the other two men out.
She adjusted her gear and followed the captain inside. Her boots pressed into the puddles on the floor and sank into the ash.
They went down two winding hallways and up one flight of stairs to the back of the building. Place was supposed to be empty. Giant “No Trespassing” signs were posted at the front. The building had been condemned.
But three victims had been inside.
Her heart slammed into her ribs and bile rose in her throat. Three victims.
And they’d only gotten two out.
Then she saw the door, or what was left of it. The fire had burned up most of the wood, and she could see the man, slumped inside.
Blisters and burns covered his body, but…
The smoke got to him first. The freaking unbelievable heat. Because the wounds weren’t enough to kill him.
What the hell? She inched closer. The guy was in some kind of closet. Two feet by four feet, why was he—
Then she saw the padlock. On the outside of the charred remains of the door. Still hanging on, despite the fire.
Left to die.
Her eyes met the captain’s, and she read the dark knowledge there.
The poor bastard never had a chance.
He liked to watch the fire. When it danced, it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Sensual, like a lover.
The firefighters had battled his blaze with all their strength. But, in the end, the fire had won—and claimed her prize.
And, to make things interesting, he’d even gotten a bonus during the show. Two bonuses, really. Two more victims.
Like the fool who’d rushed in… He hadn’t counted on that. He’d underestimated the man.
But he’d been saved. So had the addict.
Not that they mattered. They weren’t really part of the game.
Well, not yet.
But they’d tasted the fire tonight. They wouldn’t soon forget that taste.
After all, you never forgot your first.
The smoke was in the wind. When he opened his mouth, he tasted it on his tongue.
She came out then. Jerking off her helmet. Pacing back and forth too quickly.
Ah, she found my body.
Lora Spade understood the game. Perhaps better than anyone else. She knew what he was doing.
Did she know why?
Tonight, the firefighters had lost. They hadn’t searched hard enough. Hadn’t responded fast enough.
The dead… he was on their hands. Her hands.
More bodies would come. Because when you fought the fire, you learned, fast, that the fire fought back.
Excerpted from Deadly Heat by Eden, Cynthia Copyright © 2011 by Eden, Cynthia. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"Deadly Heat is seriously hot! Taut conflict mixes with fiery romance to create a winner." -Romantic Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The SSD is at it again! Kenton Lake has been sent to Charlottesville, VA to investigate a possible serial arsonist. When he arrives to meet with an informant he finds the meeting spot on fire. He runs in with the hope of saving the life of a man who might have answers he needs, but instead finds himself getting a fist to the face. Much to his surprise the person behind the fist is sexy female firefighter, Lora Spade. Lora and Kenton will have to work together to bring the crazy person behind the fires to justice. Working so closely when an undeniable attraction is present is bound to heat things up.Cynthia Eden¿s Deadly series has renewed my love of Romantic Suspense. She created a plot with constant twist and turns. With so many possible villains it was impossible to predict the outcome. All that suspense combined with a sizzling romance made Deadly Heat an addictive page-turner.Lora might be one of the bravest heroines I¿ve ever met. Even after losing the man she loved, she still kept throwing herself into burning buildings and putting other¿s safety before her own. Kenton is a character I remember from the first book in this series. I enjoyed getting to know him better. He is a nice guy, with just enough of an edge to give him major sex appeal. This is a series I highly recommend. I actually have yet to read anything by this author that I wouldn¿t recommend. Her passion for writing really comes through in her dialogue. So many intense moments and quote worthy scenes. She also writes phenomenal Paranormal Romance.
Cynthia Eden is really, really good at writing crime. No matter what genre her book fits into ¿ paranormal, or romantic suspense, as this one is ¿ the thing that distinguishes her from other writers is that her crime plot is always so strong. She knows how to create believable characters and scenarios for the law enforcement types, and she always makes the cases complex enough that you¿re not sitting back and waiting for the FBI to get what you figured out by about page two. Eden writes proper suspense, not `suspense-lite¿ as some authors in this genre do. It¿s so much better reading a story that should be dark and unpredictable, and discovering it is actually dark and unpredictable. This is the best kind of romantic suspense. Of course as this has a romance in it ¿ it¿s not straight crime ¿ that means the book has to have strong characters who are more three-dimensional than simply being law enforcement officers (and in this case, firefighters too) just out to get the bad guy. So it¿s a good thing Eden also writes characters and relationships really well. To be honest, I wasn¿t so sure about this one at the beginning. It was the heroine who threw me; she¿s an Amazonian firefighter who punches the hero the first time she sees him. I¿m not into reading about tough, pushy, violent women, and I was worried. However I didn¿t need to be, because from that unconventional introduction Lora actually turned out to be a pretty great character. She¿s strong in a good way, and my first impression was very wrong. Lora Spade is the one who calls in the special unit of the FBI to investigate an arsonist and serial killer. Nobody in higher positions believes she¿s onto something, but the FBI takes her seriously from the outset. Kenton Lake is the agent sent to take control of the case. He deliberately makes himself a target for the killer, but what he doesn¿t count on happening was Lora being in danger too. We get to revisit Monica and Luke from the first (and excellent) book in the series ¿ Deadly Fear. We also get to spend time with the heroine of the next instalment ¿ Sam ¿ who is returning to work after nearly being killed in the last book. All of the characters are in Kenton¿s team, but all are also strong individuals with distinctive personalities. I can¿t say I could pick a favourite. Cynthia Eden showed a lot of potential with her paranormal crime series, and I think overall I¿m enjoying her romantic suspense even more. Deadly Heat was darkly romantic and full of twists and turns. I¿m jumping straight into the next book in the series.
I was actually able to read the first in this series,Deadly Fear, and I really enjoyed it. So I was expecting quite a bit from this one. I have to say I was not disappointed. Cynthia has an ability to really get into the head of a killer. And while her ability is sometimes a bit creepy, it makes for an awesome story! I like that this story follows one of the characters from the first story. Although Kenton wasn't the main character in the first book he did play a part and so he was a "familiar face" so to speak. But in addition to the "old" characters Eden does a great job of adding new characters to the mix. The story, like Deadly Fear, is a bit on the disturbing side. But it's a great read. This one really keeps you guessing. I actually had guessed who it was early in the story, but then other things kept happening and I changed my guess a few times. I love when a book does that.This was also a very fast read. The writing style and pace of the story are done so well that I got so caught up in the story it only took me two sittings to finish the whole thing. A review copy of this book was provided by the author. This is not a paid review and is a truthful and honest review.
Good story but way too much sex way too soon.
This book is more like a pornographic book rather than a thriller the sex is extremely explict!!!
Loved this book too Loved Kent and Lara they are a great couple nice to see them together they are fun having an SSD and a firefighter so greats story line
I highly recommend this!!! Eden is one awesome writer!! Action, love and plenty of steamy hot hot scenes!! A must read!!
This is the second book in this serial killer trilogy. Serial arsonist. . .FBI Special Unit working with the Fire Dept. Hot sex and another great thriller from Ms Eden. A must read.
I read a ton of FBI style thrillers but this one had some unique twists. Hunting down a serial arsonist meant that the investigation was handled from a firefighter's perspective (something different)and from the first interaction on the lead female character is strong but still believeable. The romance is well, HOT! with the leading male being strong but not aggressive. I like that it draws back in some of the other characters from this series. I'm looking forward to reading more Cynthia Eden titles.
Another great story from cynthia eden. My favorite was the first in this series (deadly fear) but this one was good as well. This author really knows how to build the suspense. Can't wait to read the next one and i hope it's not the last!
Loved it cant wait for more