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All the way home he thought about Autumn and how he loved being with her. Still a
nagging, weird feeling wouldn’t let up, and as the day went on it worsened. With the
black feeling came rain, torrential and thunderous. His nerves seemed to jump, and he
wanted the storm and the day to be over.
By the time the entire day finished, he discovered his feeling signaled things to
* * * *
Jack looked up from the stove as Hank strolled into the kitchen with a grin on his
“Are you cooking again?” Hank asked.
“It is my turn, you know.”
“Oh, yeah. It’s been a few days. I think Becker bribed you to make filet mignon or
some damn thing.”
“Wrong again.”
Hank looked down at the assortment of spice jars near the stove. “Well, what the hell
is this, then?”
Jack chopped up defrosted chicken. “Moroccan chicken.”
Looking up at Hank‘s disgruntled face, Jack continued cutting the chicken. “Taste it
first before you decide you don’t like it.”
Hank grimaced. “Watch what you’re doing, Dillon. I don’t want a finger in my
“What’s the matter, you don’t like fiber?”
“You’re sick.”
“Be of some use, will you? Otherwise you’re blocking the light.”
As Hank helped him with dinner, he asked, “So when do you think the excrement is
going to hit the proverbial fan?”
When and if the arsonist would strike again haunted Jack more than he would admit.
“I’m trying not to think about that, thank you very much.” As chicken, onions, garlic and
spices sizzled in the pan along with other secret ingredients, Jack inhaled the exotic scent.
“This is all I want to worry about for the next few minutes. Making a good dinner.”
Hank picked up a can of chickpeas. “You’re gonna put these in there?”
“Uh-huh. Right.”
“Doesn’t Ginger ever feed you?”
Hank’s smirk said he wasn’t thinking about food. “Oh, yeah. She feeds me.”
As Hank grumbled, Jack concentrated on the exciting thought that Autumn’s
appointment to interview him tonight included eating at the station. She should be here
any minute.
“Ready for that interview?” Hank asked as he set the table.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“You don’t sound too happy about it.”
Jack used the can opener to free the chickpeas and dumped them into a strainer in the
sink. He stopped long enough to look at his friend. “I’m not sure I want to relive a few of
the things I saw in New York.”
Hank, for once, didn’t look amused or ready to toss wisecracks. “I know what you
mean. Maybe if she’s satisfied with your interview she won’t talk to the rest of us. That
would be fine with me.”
Rinsing the chickpeas, Jack said, “You don’t have to talk with Autumn unless you
want to. As a matter of fact, I’m the only one who consented to talk about Ground Zero.”
Silence held sway over the room for a moment as Jack stirred the chickpeas into the
skillet with the chicken and turned the heat down to simmer.
Ray looked around the corner seconds later. “Smells good. What is it?”
Jack’s lips twitched. “Slop on a stick.”
“Yum.” Ray grinned. “Looking forward to it. You’ve got a phone call, Jack. Want
me to take a message?”
“I’ll get it.” Jack handed Hank the spoon. “Stir. Keep it low and don’t do anything
else, or I’ll have to kill you.”
Hank saluted. “Yes, sir.”
Jack left the kitchen for the back office, grabbing the phone Ray had put on the desk.
“Jack Dillon.”
A woman’s sexy, smooth voice purred over the phone line. “Mr. Dillon, this is
Miranda Butterfield from KTMM in Billings.”
Jack had listened to the station before on the way through Billings. He also had a
sneaking suspicion why this woman wanted to talk to him. “What can I do for you, Ms.
Ms. Butterfield’s voice turned perky. “Have you ever heard my morning features
“No, can’t say that I have.”
“Too bad. Well, out there in Clifton you only have two country radio stations, right?”
A twinge of resentment built inside him. He preferred jazz and rock music over
country, but had nothing against country music per se. “One country station, one oldies,
and one rock station.”
“Oh, I see.” She breezed ahead. “In any case, Mr. Dillon, we at KTMM have a
proposal for you. We heard about your heroic efforts at the nightclub fire, and we want to
interview you. We also learned you participated in cleanup efforts at Ground Zero.”
Damn it. He didn’t like the sound of this at all. “I don’t think I’d be interested, Ms.
“But people are so fascinated by what you experienced. You’re quite the celebrity all
of a sudden.”
His patience wore down at the same moment tightness stretched across the muscles
between his shoulder blades. “I don’t think people are as interested as the media likes to
imagine. I appreciate your consideration, but the answer is no.”
A sigh spilled over the line. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
After exchanging a few more pleasantries, they hung up.
Chapter Twelve
Autumn looked up at the old brick firehouse. Mellow light from the fading sun
turned the bricks red. Built in 1905, this building was the first firehouse in the newly
founded Clifton. Over the years the structure was expanded to keep up with the
requirements of the community. Since 1905, four more firehouses had sprung up within
the district. Jack’s father had worked here until his death and so had her father.
Autumn walked inside, not sure where to go. Though she’d been in a fire station
many times, something about entering this one made her feel as if she was intruding. She
didn’t understand the feeling, and she didn’t want to decipher it right now. She’d called
Chief Hallam earlier in the day to confirm the appointment. The Chief explained since he
had several unexpected things he needed to accomplish today, Jack would be the only
one she would interview.
Nervous, she hesitated near a ladder truck. Her purse and briefcase felt like lead
weights. Deciding that taking in the lay of the land might calm her, she walked deeper
into the building. She caught the distinctive scent of wax and all the engines looked spit
shined. The entire place appeared organized.
A firefighter stopped to ask if he could help her, and she explained she was there to
see Jack. Quicker than she expected, he strode around the engine, a ready grin on his
face. His eyes sparkled, and her heart leapt at the sight of him. She shoved back the
“Hi, Jack. I’m a bit early, so if you have things to take care of, I can wait.”
“I want to talk to you before dinner. In fact, you have some explaining to do before
this interview goes forward. If it goes forward.”
He gently took her by the elbow and marched her back toward an unoccupied
windowless office, closing the door with a definitive thud and locking the door. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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