I’d like to introduce you to the female lead character, Kai Malone, a bi-racial firefighter who loves her job. In this brief excerpt, she’s at work, doing her duty of preparing dinner for the station. While she cooks, she has a conversation with her best friend on the job, Lopez. Enjoy!
Working out of Firehouse 19 was a dream come true in more ways than one. Having a Malone stationed at the firehouse for the past thirty years was part of my family’s history. My being the first female firefighter at the station, or even in my family, made it that more special.
Following in the footsteps of my grandfather and uncle had been my dream. My parents, on the other hand, were not happy about it. Neither was my sister. For the longest time, I stood out as being different in my family. I was even taller than most females in my family.
My father was a career postman, my mother a third generation florist. Kelli had chosen to follow in our mother’s footsteps, but branched out to focus on the interior decorator aspect, which went hand in hand with mom’s business.
As a teen, I trained at my mother’s and grandmother’s sides, learning the art of floral design. I was good at it. My mother had dreams of Kelli and me taking over the shop when she retired. So did I.
Until my uncle became a local legend.
Uncle Jeramiah gave his life in an effort to save a family in one of the worst fires in the history of our city. Add the fact that my grandfather was named the first African-American Fire Chief in the state back in the eighties, and well, that sealed the deal for me.
The one thing I was proudest of was not only following in my family’s footsteps, it was doing so while creating a legacy of my own. I was the first African-American-Cambodian female firefighter in the state.
Talk about breaking the stereotypical lines of race and gender.
Earning the badge hadn’t been easy, though. Gaining the respect of the men at the station was even harder.
After five years, most had gotten over their initial fear and discomfort of having a woman on the team because I carried my own. There were still a few who wouldn’t hide their distrust, mainly because no matter how well I performed in the field, I was still a woman. To them, I represented their wives and sisters, the innocent victims we risked our lives to save. I realized long ago there was nothing I could do to change their minds.
So, I did my job in the field and fulfilled my responsibilities at the station. Cooking dinner was part of my rotation duties for this shift.
In the kitchen, I pulled out the ingredients for tonight’s meal: restaurant styled hamburgers, or as I liked to call them, Juicy Lucy’s. It was a name the guys liked to use in inappropriate ways, of course. Nothing thick skin and a good pair of earbuds couldn’t handle.
“How was your weekend, Lopez?”
My friend and confidant at the firehouse joined me in the kitchen and grabbed a can of Coke out of the fridge.
“Had a nice night out with my lady. Dinner and a movie. How about you?”
“I got caught up on sleep then spent Saturday with a house full of kids under three feet tall.”
He laughed. “Sounds like fun.”
I shrugged and grabbed seasoning out of the cabinet. “It wasn’t bad. It was a birthday party for a friend’s son. He turned one.”
“My lady wants one of those.”
I looked up from the skillet I pulled from the cabinet. “A frying pan?”
“No, a kid.” He grimaced.
My brow furrowed. “You said that like a kid is an item to be bought from the store.”
“What can I say?” He popped the lid on his soda. “I think her clock is ticking.”
I emptied the ten-pound tub of ground beef into the mixing bowl and added seasoning. “What about you? Your clock ticking?” The expression on his face made me laugh.
“Men don’t have ticking clocks. We get the urge to sow wild oats. Totally different thing.”
Leave it to Lopez to have an off the wall explanation of things. “How is that different?”
“Women expect sexual encounters to be full of romance and love. You want to walk away satisfied and knocked up. We just want to get off and go to sleep.”
Unable to put my hand over my mouth because my fingers were deep into the ground beef mixture for the patties, I turned my head and put my mouth on my shoulder to keep my outburst from disturbing the guys who watched TV. “Lopez, you are a fool. How does Maria put up with your crazy ass?”
“I could tell you, but then you might get jealous.” He wagged his eyebrows and winked.
I shook my head and went back to forming patties.
“Anyway, what about your clock? Your lady parts looking for a sperm donor? I’ve got a few friends who think a woman that can handle a huge hose is hot. They’d be happy to service you anytime.”
I groaned on the inside. I hated when people asked me that question. The reality of my life was simple when it came to my inability to conceive and carry to term. My issues were my business. I dug into my bag of lies and shared my ‘truth’.
“Uh, no thanks. I can find one on my own. Besides, I’m not sure having kids is the right thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece and can’t wait for my nephew to be born. I’m the aunt who spoils them and sends them home to momma. But be a full-time mom?” I pointed to the lounge area full of grown men. Some played pool while the others watched CNN. “You guys have been enough work as it is.”
Lopez chuckled. “True. But seriously, Malone, you’re what, thirty-eight and you don’t want to reproduce?” He leaned on the counter and stared at me as if I was an anomaly.
I glared at him. “I’m not thirty-eight, I’m thirty-five and proud of it. I worked too damn hard to get where I am in my career to give it up just yet.” I concentrated on forming a hamburger patty. “Besides, if I got pregnant, do you know what a female firefighter has to do in order to keep her job? Under no circumstances would I be allowed near a fire truck or any equipment for fear that I’d have a miscarriage. The county would look at me like a walking law suit waiting to happen.”
Lopez’s eyebrows knitted together in thought. “You could do community service work. Visit schools and talk about fire safety.”
I smirked. “Actually, I’d be doing office work.” I shuddered at the notion. “No thanks.”
He raised his can. “Ouch.” He drank, and then frowned. “Seriously though, no kids?”
“Lopez, for me to consider having a baby, he’ll have to be one hell of a guy worth putting my job on the back burner. The chances of that happening are slim to none.”
To celebrate the release of the fourth novel in the series, I am giving away a gift basket full of butterfly swag AND autographed paperback copies off all four novels! This is a month long contest, so enter as many times as you’d like to increase your chances to win!
Trevon Campbell’s world changed the moment his ex-girlfriend announced he was a father. Determined to make up for his past mistakes, he gives Trina what she wanted before their breakup, what feels like his soul, which means forgetting the woman he had a one-night stand with, the woman who stole his heart.
Kai Malone doesn’t want to play by her family’s rules. Instead of working for the family business, she became a firefighter. Being a female of multicultural descent, working in a field dominated by men, Kai focuses on her job to ignore the infidelity of her fiancé. Tired of his deceit, she gave in to a one-night stand with a complete stranger, someone she’d never have to see again…or so she thought.
When tragedy strikes, their worlds collide, leaving them no choice but to deal with each other again. It doesn’t take long for them to realize the attraction that brought them together the first time is stronger than ever, forcing Trevon to make the biggest decision of his life.
About the Author:
M.J. Kane stumbled into writing. An avid reader, this once stay at home mom never lost the overactive imagination of an only child. As an adult she made up stories, though never shared them, to keep herself entertained. It wasn’t until surviving a traumatic medical incident in 2006 that she found a reason to let the characters inhabiting her imagination free. Upon the suggestion of her husband, she commandeered his laptop and allowed the characters to take life. It was that, or look over her shoulder for men caring a purple strait jacket. And the rest, as they say, is history.
No longer a television addict, if M.J. isn’t reading a book by one of her favorite authors, she’s battling with her creative muse to balance writing and being a wife and mother. She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and four pit bulls. During the day, MJ is a librarian, in her spare time she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business, 3D Sounds.