Seth Wild is a fire fighter who has lost everything. Nearly dying in a building collapse, he is scared and angry and chases away the only good thing in his life—school teacher Casey McGuire.
When a sudden and violent snow storm hits their town he receives a message Casey and ten kids are trapped in an education center with no way out. There is no one else who can help, he’s the last fire fighter in town with his bum leg and his icy heart.
He doesn’t hesitate. He always promised he would be Casey’s hero, but will he ever again be Casey’s love?
Multitaskingmommas Book Reviews – 4/4 – “….The stress of the snow storm is high and so is the two men’s rediscovery of each other. The anger, the unspoken feelings, they had to deal with it. The reason they clicked once more is simple: they still love each other. So will the snow storm help in their rediscovering of each other?
Read and find out. It’s an RJ Scott folks. It’s a one-click for me….”
MM Good Book Reviews – 5/5 – “….This story is breathtaking. I sat in suspense the entire time I read. For such a short story this one was very complete and covered so much ground. It was like reading a novella….”
Gay List Book Reviews – “….I really liked this story. It was fun and sweet and I was rooting for the guys to get back together. I loved the growth that Seth experienced as he examined his life and really thought about why he’d allowed things to get so bad between them.
Another great story by RJ Scott full of action, emotion and sexy men in love….”
Xtreme Delusions – 5/5 – “Seth & Casey just about gutted me. I think because it’s about an established couple and something goes wrong. Seems like most love stories are about finding love, not how to hold onto it.
I really loved this story; it’s full of emotions and the description of the countryside where it takes place is fantastic. I haven’t yet read a book by RJ Scott that didn’t grab me in some way.
“…New York’s LaGuardia and JFK International airports officially closed on Thursday afternoon due to the storm, according to the FAA. Both airports had been open earlier despite significant flight cancellations. LaGuardia resumed operations around 7 p.m. ET, while JFK said it planned to reopen sometime during the course of the night.”
Casey McGuire rinsed the last of the mugs and placed it on the drainer with the rest. For some reason, it was always mugs they ran out of in this house. Seth had this idea that the dishwasher ate them but Casey was convinced that they just needed a system to make sure they brought all the mugs back to the kitchen when they were done. Last week he’d found a mug in the bathroom, inside the cabinet, full of cold coffee.
Seth had sworn it wasn’t him, but Casey knew it had been.
He didn’t make a fuss. After all, what was one full coffee mug teetering on the edge of a glass shelf? In the grand scheme of things, it meant nothing.
The TV droned on behind him as he took a dishcloth and wiped the first of the mugs.
“…states from South Carolina to Maine are under a winter storm warning and the governors of Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and New York have declared states of emergency. Forecasters say the northeast states can expect hurricane-force wind gusts and blinding snow…”
The news channels had been warning about this storm for a week, a huge dump of snow that would cripple the eastern seaboard, but that as yet hadn’t caused much concern here in Vermont. Casey glanced out of the window at the yard and wished for more snow. That way maybe Seth wouldn’t be able to leave the house, and possibly the two of them could have a rational conversation that didn’t end with Seth leaving and Casey wondering where the hell he was going wrong.
“…the situation is “ugly” and “dangerous,” and people should stay indoors…”
Last night, all Casey had said was that Seth shouldn’t forget about his appointment next morning. Seth left the house, clambering back into bed at some ungodly hour, reeking of beer or worse. In his sleep, Seth tried to pull Casey close, but Casey had deliberately scooted up and away, and left his husband in the bed.
Today, at ten, Seth had exploded, accusing Casey of meddling in things he didn’t understand, telling Casey he was fine and didn’t need a shrink.
Yet another night when one of them ended up on the couch.
Casey stiffened at Seth’s soft, gravelly voice. His chest was tight, he didn’t want to argue. He wanted Seth to admit there was a problem, because he couldn’t handle it anymore. Six months of this had taken its toll. Maybe if Seth had seen the specialists when he should’ve, maybe if he’d seen a counselor, then Casey would see he was trying.
Seth was in denial, and it was destroying their marriage.
He didn’t turn to face Seth; he’d made a decision in the early morning, packed a bag with what he could get without waking Seth, and decided they needed space. If Seth had space he might face up to himself instead of taking it out on Casey.
Seth slid his hands around Casey’s waist, resting his chin on Casey’s shoulder and sighed. He’d brushed his teeth so the only scent was peppermint, which at least was a step up from yesterday when he’d attempted a clumsy kiss with beer still on his breath.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured near Casey’s ear.
Casey could turn now, accept the apology, even offer one of his own for pushing Seth, and everything would be normal for a while. Seth could go back to pretending he was okay, and Casey could go back to walking on eggshells and avoiding conflict.
But what kind of a marriage was that?
What kind of a man did that make Casey?
“I know you are,” he said. Then he tensed because that wasn’t the answer Seth wanted, and Casey knew what would happen next. Seth would go straight onto defensive mode, give some bullshit about how he was a firefighter and didn’t need a counselor.
Meanwhile, Seth not accepting any of what he needed was tearing their marriage apart. Casey had been careful with him for a long time, after all, Seth had nearly died. But when months had passed and he was still refusing to listen to reason, that was when Casey realized he’d been wrong in accepting Seth’s view on what kind of healing he needed.
“I think we need some time apart,” Casey said, and placed the dried mug onto the counter. He eased away from Seth’s hold and moved to the other side of the kitchen table. Somehow, having it between them gave Casey the strength to do what he’d decided was the right thing. Seth had this way of holding him, with a near desperation that never failed to have Casey crumbling.
Seth didn’t answer at first. Casey stopped himself from repeating the words and hoped that Seth was just thinking. The only noise in the kitchen was the news, focusing on Greyhound buses and the routes being cancelled.
Casey held back his instinctive disappointment when Seth used that word.
“Last night, when I reminded you about your counseling you told me you didn’t need it and that you resented you had to go.”
Seth crossed his arms over his wide chest and stared at Casey belligerently. He looked so much like some of the teenagers Casey taught that if this hadn’t been serious shit Casey would have laughed.
“I know I have to go. Hell, they won’t let me back if I don’t go. Doesn’t mean I want to go.”
And therein lay the rub. Seth was adamant he was going back to being a firefighter, despite doctors telling him it was unlikely, despite the fact that the damage done to his body was extensive and that his eyesight had been affected.
“And I said that if you didn’t get counseling, whether or not you get to go back to work, then our marriage wouldn’t survive.”
“I don’t do ultimatums,” Seth growled.
“Please, Seth, you have to see the bigger picture here.” Casey pleaded.
Seth stepped closer to him, temper in his eyes, his hands clenched into fists.
“All I see is my fucking husband telling me I’m done, that I’m used up and useless.”
“I never said that.”
“Every time you tell me I need help you tell me I’m broken.”
“You’re not getting this, Seth. What about your nightmares?”
“I was trapped in a burning building watching people die in front of me. You’d have nightmares if that happened to you. I’m well enough to get back to work.”
“But you have headaches—”
“You can pull someone out of a fire with a fucking headache!” Seth shouted in his face — so angry that Casey took a step back.
When Seth moved closer yet, his hands still curled into fists, his words angry, his temper so close to the surface, something snapped inside Casey. “You’re scaring me, Seth!”
Holding Seth through the nightmares, listening to the man he loved as he railed at everything being someone else’s fault. Moment by moment, he was becoming someone who scared Casey.
“Get out!” Seth shouted. “I don’t care about your shit, or anyone else’s shit. I don’t need a counselor, so take your bag and get out. I don’t need you up in my space, telling me that my career is over. It wasn’t you who nearly died and I can make my own damn decisions.”
“And I don’t need a husband in denial who refuses to admit he needs any help, that he won’t ever be a firefighter again, with a hair-trigger temper who scares the hell out of me,” Casey snapped and then clapped his hand over his mouth.
Something got through to Seth. It wasn’t the statement about his career because, as usual, Seth was avoiding that part.
“I would never hurt anyone,” he said, horror in his expression. “I would never hurt you.”
“But you do,” Casey insisted. “Every day you tell me you’re okay, every memory slip, every tablet you take, every headache, every time you shout at me for no fucking reason, you’re hurting me.”
Casey looked down at his hands, the way they were clenched into fists over his heart. He felt this in his soul.
“You’re being stupid,” Seth said, and that arrogance was back. The part where all of this was Casey’s fault, somehow. “You don’t understand what I went through and my process for dealing with it. It’s important that I get back to work.”
“Your career doesn’t define you.”
“Not that again.” Seth shook his head and disappointment marked his expression. He showed this all the time, that sadness that somehow Casey was letting him down.
Casey didn’t want to hear any of this. He might be acting like a coward, but he was done. He needed a time-out, space to get his head around what Seth was doing. Maybe they were done, maybe Seth’s career meant more to him than his husband.
He picked up the bag at the door and Seth uncrossed his arms.
“You wanted me to go. You said so.”
“Don’t lay this on me. Your bag was already packed.”
“I need some air, I’m staying for a while at Jessie’s.”
Seth snorted. “Well, that’s one way of not facing our problems.”
Temper spiraled in Casey. “You think I’m the one not facing our problems?” he said, his voice louder with each word. “I’m not the one coming back from the bar at two in the morning smelling of beer, avoiding talking, and crying in the fucking bathroom!”
Seth rocked back on his heels, opened his mouth to say something, and for a second, Casey thought he saw the old Seth, the man he’d loved for so long that he didn’t know what it was like not to love him. Then Seth shut down.
“I’m going to the fucking counseling,” he shouted back. “Okay?”
Hope swelled inside Casey. “Good.”
“For what good it will do. Whatever it takes, I am going back to work.”
And there it was. Seth’s determination to push his way through pain and mental grief and have being a firefighter his whole reason for living.
“Go and talk to the counselor,” Casey began, keeping his voice level, “And then, if you want to talk to me rationally you can find me at Jessie’s.”
“Wait, I’m doing what you asked for fuck’s sake, why are you still going?”
“If I have to answer that question, then that is why!” Casey opened the front door and, as he closed it, Seth roared.
“Fuck you, Casey! You’re making no fucking sense!”
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