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HEARTS ON FIRE by ASHLI ROSE
It has been five years since Ava Kingston left her parents’ house in New Jersey. She ran and never looked back, all because of one night. One night that could’ve changed her life forever. Now living in Chicago, working as a journalist, Ava thinks her life is finally where it should be. She is working toward a promotion, has a great family, and a few amazing friends. What more could a girl want? Just when Ava comes to a calming sense of closure in her life, her past reappears in the form of the Hunks in Uniform calendar. Will Ava’s feelings for this fearless firefighter resurface against her better judgment? Or will Ava try to forget the one person she ever really loved?
Gavin Sawyer is a Chicago firefighter who is stopping many women’s hearts as a model for the Hunks in Uniform calendar. Gavin only tried out for the calendar because of her—the one person who knew he was worthy of such prestige. He knew how much she wanted him to do it, but then she was gone. Without a warning, Ava left Gavin behind with a broken heart and bruised ego. He loved her, but she ran. One night separated them forever. Now, five years later, Gavin will stop at nothing to win her back. A chance encounter with Ava sets his heart on fire and proves that old feelings really do die hard.
HEARTS ON FIRE by ASHLI ROSE
“Gavin, this is amazing!” Ava said as she held his hand while they walked toward the castle in Central Park.
“I’m glad you like it. So, am I off the hook for surprising you?” Gavin asked as he pressed her against the castle wall overlooking the river.
Ava couldn’t breathe. She stared into Gavin’s intense eyes and could tell he wanted to kiss her; at least she hoped so, because she definitely wanted to kiss him. Instead, she smiled. “I guess I can let it slide just this once. But, please don’t forget that I absolutely hate surprises.”
Gavin laughed and kissed her forehead. “Duly noted. May I ask what brought on the hatred of surprises?”
“I don’t know. I just don’t like them. I guess it’s because I always have to know what’s going on, and I don’t like being caught off guard. Maybe it’s the journalist in me.” Ava turned her body in Gavin’s hold and looked out into the distance. It was a beautiful summer day. Tourists were out on the lake in paddle boats, and the trees were swaying in the light breeze. Light goose bumps popped up on her skin, and Gavin ran his strong hands up and down her arms to warm her.
“Do you want to keep walking? It’s a little chilly in the shade, but I have another surprise for you.” Gavin smiled wickedly and raised his eyebrows.
Ava smacked his arm. “You know I hate surprises.”
“In my defense, I did not know this when I planned our date.”
Ava thought about it for a second. “OK, but this is your last free pass. The next surprise will cost you.”
“Oh yea? What will happen if I surprise you again?”
“I won’t kiss you goodnight.”
“Well, then I guess I’d better get on with this surprise so I can get that kiss.” Gavin winked at Ava and grabbed her hand to lead her to the next part of her surprise.
Gavin and Ava walked hand in hand through the park. It turned out to be a beautiful day, though the park was a bit crowded. It seemed that everyone had the same idea. Ava didn’t mind though. She loved being outside and having the sun warm her skin. Gavin seemed to notice this and asked, “You really like being outside, don’t you?”
“I do. I even love being outside in the rain, especially in the summer. There is just something about summer rain that makes me feel happy. Winter rain, on the other hand, no thank you. I hate being cold.”
Gavin laughed. “I’m learning about a lot of your dislikes today. This is good. No surprises, winter rain. Anything else?”
“Rodents! Ugh, I hate them. I don’t just mean mice and rats. Ferrets, possums, squirrels—anything with a long tail and beady eyes.”
“So, if I bought you a pet rat for your birthday, you wouldn’t like it?”
Ava shuttered. “Eww, no, just the thought skeeves me out.”
The two just laughed at each other and made their way through the park. Ava heard people singing in a shady part of the park, and Gavin was actually guiding her in that direction.
“What’s going on there?” Ava asked.
“You’ll see,” Gavin said with that devilish smile.
“Oh boy! Is this my next surprise?”
“Come on,” Gavin said as he pulled her over to a group of people gathered around two men singing “Imagine” by John Lennon. Ava turned to Gavin with a look of shock. He remembered. She had told him in conversation the week before that she loved classic rock, especially the Beatles. She also told him that, if she ever had a daughter, she would name her Lennon. Thinking back on it, Ava was surprised Gavin asked her out after that comment. Ava held Gavin’s bicep and laid her head on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and listened to the two men sing one of her favorite songs. At one point, she began to sway, and she felt Gavin pull her into his body. It felt right being with him. Their bodies fit together perfectly, and she didn’t want to break contact with him. Fire was shooting through her veins, and she couldn’t believe that someone’s touch could do this to her. When the two men were done, the crowd erupted in a loud applause. Ava didn’t notice but she had been crying. That song always did it to her.
“Are you OK, Ava?” Gavin asked as he wiped a tear with the pad of his thumb.
“I’m fine, Gavin. That is my favorite song, and I always get emotional when I listen to it. That was amazing. Thank you.”
“Of course, but you haven’t seen the best part.” Gavin pulled her through the crowd, and in the middle of the circle was a huge peace sign made out of stone with the word imagine in the middle. Along the outside of the peace sign was a bunch of different flowers outlining it. This truly was amazing. Ava could only imagine what this man would’ve been capable of had he been alive today.
Ava looked at Gavin and reach up on her tippy toes to kiss him on the cheek. “Thank you, Gavin. This has been the best date ever.”
Gavin held Ava in his arms and kissed the top of her forehead. “So, could we add this to the list of things that you like?”
Ava laughed into his chest. “Yes, Gavin, we can.”
The next moment happened so quickly Ava didn’t even realize what was going on. Gavin dipped Ava back and planted a sweet kiss on her lips. Thankfully, Ava didn’t scream when it happened, because the kiss probably wouldn’t have been as amazing. Gavin’s lips were so soft against hers, and they tasted like mint and lemons. Ava cupped her hands behind his head and opened her mouth so Gavin could deepen the kiss. Gavin’s hand was on Ava’s lower back, and the other was behind her head. They continued their kiss, dancing with their tongues. They would’ve kept kissing if it weren’t for the applause and whistles they heard around them. They broke their kiss, and Ava buried her head in Gavin’s chest once again.
“Good job, man!”
“Get a room!”
Gavin just waved to everyone, and Ava pulled him toward the street.
“Oh my god! That was so embarrassing,” Ava said with a slight blush in her cheeks.
“Was it really that bad kissing me?” Gavin asked with his hand over his heart, faking insult.
“No, the kiss was amazing. I have never done anything like that in public before.”
Gavin pulled Ava closer. “Good. I like that I was able to share that with you. But, I promise, Ava, the next time I kiss you will be behind closed doors, and I will not stop there.”
Ava’s cheeks burned, and she knew she was red. The thought of Gavin’s lips on hers again was causing a stir in her belly. She wasn’t the type of girl to sleep with someone on the first date, but she could make an exception for someone who made it the best date she’d ever had.
If this date gave Ava any clue as to how their relationship would be, Ava was going to be one lucky girl. © Ashli Rose, Hearts on Fire 2014
Ashli Rose is a wife, mother, and teacher from Northern New Jersey. She lives with her husband, Patrick, and their two-year-old daughter, Laila Rose. When Ashli isn’t writing, she can be found reading, watching The Office or Super Why, doing puzzles with her daughter, or just relaxing.
Hearts on Fire is her debut novel and the first in the Hearts on Fire Series.
Links to Ashli’s website, blog, books, etc.
amazon- (kindle and paperback) http://amzn.to/1rzLI8u
BN(paperback only)- http://bit.ly/1oahK4J
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Ashli is giving away a HEARTS ON FIRE SWAG pack, including a signed HEARTS ON FIRE paperback, bookmark, magnet, and button, to one lucky reader who comments on her Monday Interview or Wednesday Book Bench blog. Don’t miss this chance to read this great story! Thanks, Ashli, for sharing your new release with us!