Set the Night on Fire
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USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Bernard is hotter than ever with a sexy new series about the wildfire fighters of Jupiter Point.
The town bad boy is back to clear his name
Firefighter Sean Marcus left Jupiter Point thirteen years ago in disgrace, but now he's coming home to set the record straight. As the leader of the new Jupiter Point Hotshots wildfire crew, he's out to prove he's no longer the troubled boy who fled after a night of shocking violence. He's returned for one reason only--and it's not to fall in love. But that plan goes up in smoke the minute he sets eyes on Evie McGraw, all grown up and gorgeous.
The town sweetheart has a secret
Evie has never spoken about the night that changed her life. But she can't escape it, especially now that her brother's wild friend Sean is back. Rugged, sexy and impossible to ignore, he's the only one who knows what truly happened. Evie gave up everything to protect her family, but now, she has to make a choice. Keep silent...or put her heart on the line and let Sean help heal the past?
More from Jupiter Point: The Jupiter Point Hotshots Box Set (containing Books 1-3) is on sale for a limited time.
Release date: September 28, 2016
Publisher: Jennifer Bernard
Print pages: 384
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Set the Night on Fire
Evie McGraw had barely turned the Sky View Gallery’s sign to “open” when the day’s drama came pouring into her little sanctuary.
“Have you heard about those firemen coming?” Mrs. Murphy bustled through the door first. She ran the bookstore next door, Fifth Book from the Sun, but didn’t ever seem to worry much about sales or customers. Today she had that look in her eye—the one that meant she had big news and intended to share it. Like it or not.
For a moment, Evie considered turning her wooden sign, the one painted with a sun on the “open” side and a moon on the “closed” side, back to moon. “Moon” was so much quieter and more peaceful than “sun.”
But a girl had to make a living.
“You’re going to be amazed, Mrs. Murphy, but I actually have heard that news already. We’re getting one of those hotshot crews that fight wildfires. It’s a good thing, with all the fires we’ve had the last few years.”
“No, no, that’s not the real news.”
Obviously preparing for something extra juicy, Mrs. Murphy settled onto one of the high chrome stools at the espresso bar and dropped her tote bag onto the floor next to her. “Honestly, Evie, these are the most godawful chairs. You should tear all of these out and put in some nice old-fashioned booths. My rear end gives me hell after I get back from here.”
Evie drew on the politeness that had been drilled into her since birth. “I’ll have to look into that.”
“You do that, and you’ll see that I’m right.”
Evie checked the espresso machine, which was still new to her. Just recently, she’d added the espresso bar in the hopes that it would bring in more customers to her little gallery. She’d opened the gallery as a way to channel her love for photography while still having time to take care of her mother. But now that selfies were all the rage, no one wanted landscape photos anymore. They wanted duck faces and cleavage shots.
“I just turned the coffee on, so it’ll be a few minutes. Can I get you—”
“Oh, I’m not here for coffee.” Mrs. Murphy adjusted her position on the stool and leaned forward to spill her big news.
But before she could say a word, the door opened again and Brianna Gallagher burst in. With her gingery-sunburst hair, wearing her usual work clothes of grubby overalls, she looked like some kind of comet streaking into the gallery. “I just heard the news, Evie, and I rushed right over!”
Mrs. Murphy bristled like a porcupine ready to defend its territory. “I was just getting to it.”
“No offense, Mrs. Murphy.” A worried frown drew Brianna’s eyebrows together. “But I feel strongly that this should come from a friend.”
Evie stared at her best friend. What news could possibly be this momentous? Nothing big ever happened in Jupiter Point. Their little town’s only claim to fame was its stargazing, and stars didn’t generally change much from night to night.
When the door opened yet again and her cousin Suzanne waltzed in, Evie gave serious consideration to simply closing down for the day. She could spend the time preparing for the dreaded city council meeting, an event that had been giving her nightmares for the past week.
“I can’t even believe it!” Suzanne exclaimed, swinging one leg over a stool. She was so tall she made it look easy. “The nerve of that man!”
“Someone better tell me what’s going on soon.” Evie packed espresso grounds into the portafilter. “I’m starting to fear the worst. Are the firefighters going to take over the city? March naked down Main Street?”
“I like that idea.” Brianna cocked her head in a dreamy way, as if picturing it at that very moment.
“You wouldn’t find me complaining,” Mrs. Murphy agreed.
Evie gave a double-take.
“I can appreciate a fine male specimen,” Mrs. Murphy sniffed, then pointed at Evie. “You, my dear, could learn a thing or two from me in that regard.”
“I can appreciate…” She trailed off, shaking her head at herself. Why should she have to defend her personal life? Everyone in Jupiter Point thought they knew Evie McGraw. But Evie wasn’t sure any of them really did. Not even Brianna, her best friend from the age of four.
“Speaking of fine male specimens,” Brianna said, stepping into the awkward moment, “let’s get back to our news.”
“Nice segue.” Suzanne reached over for a high five.
“Sean Marcus is coming back to Jupiter Point,” Mrs. Murphy blurted.
The tamper dropped from Evie’s fingers and thudded onto the floor. “What?”
Brianna glared at Mrs. Murphy. “You didn’t have to say it like that.” She bounded around the counter and picked up the tamper. “This is exactly what I was worried about.”
“She was going to find out sooner or later. I find it’s usually better to spit things out.“ Mrs. Murphy gave Evie an apologetic glance. “I didn’t mean to upset you, honey.”
Brianna put her arm around Evie and squeezed sympathetically. “Are you okay, Evie? I couldn’t believe it when I heard. Of all people to put in charge of the new firemen. Why him?”
Evie gathered her wits together. Sean Marcus. Oh sweet heavens, Sean Marcus was coming back. She wasn’t ready for this. Of course she was. No she wasn’t. Oh God.
She focused on tamping down the espresso grounds. “Listen, all of you. I know there was lots of talk when Sean left, but I promise you, he didn’t do anything wrong. He has every right to come back here. In fact, I’ll be glad to see him.”
“You always see the best in everyone, Evie.” Mrs. Murphy scolded her as if that quality was a bad thing. “But Sean Marcus was the biggest troublemaker in Jupiter Point. He spent more time in the police station than he did at home.”
“I know; he was such a bad boy!” Suzanne bounced on her stool. “So broody and moody, especially after his parents died. I had a huge crush on him.”
Evie could imagine that easily. Not that she’d ever had a crush on Sean Marcus—not exactly. But he knew secrets about her no one else knew. And now he was coming back? She had a very bad feeling about this. “Is he a firefighter now? I hadn’t heard about that.”
“Yes, and he’s practically famous.” Suzanne tucked her long blond hair behind her ears. “He was in that fire last year, the one where they had to get into those little shelters while the fire burned over them? I heard they’re making a movie about it.”
“A movie about Sean Marcus?” Evie asked faintly. How far back would it go? Would it talk about his history with Jupiter Point? Would filmmakers be roaming the streets? Asking questions? Panic rippled through her.
“Well, he’s part of it, but just a small part.” Suzanne shook her head in Evie’s direction. “I can’t believe you didn’t hear about all that. It’s like you live in a cave.”
Some days, like today, she wished that were true. If she lived in a cave, she wouldn’t have to get up in front of the city council tonight and endorse the one person in the whole town she despised. It would take everything she had to pull that off. The return of Sean Marcus was just a coincidental blip.
“Anyway, thank you all for letting me know.” Relieved to find her hands steady, she inserted the espresso holder into the machine and pushed the button to start the brewing process. “Although we probably won’t see the firefighters much. They’ll be out at the old Army base, right?”
“Yes, but Sean is coming to the city council meeting today.” Brianna gave Evie one last little comforting squeeze before heading back to her stool.
Evie jerked and knocked over a canister of espresso beans. Her first city council meeting, and Sean Marcus would be there? It was going to be difficult enough without that added twist. This was a full-on, flat-out disaster.
“Yup, he’s going to tell us what to expect from our hunky new firemen.” Suzanne grinned. “From what I hear, half the guys in town are going to apply. Everyone wants to be a hotshot now.”
“Women can apply, too, you know,” Brianna said. “Think about it, Suzanne. You’d be surrounded by hotness. And I’m not talking about the fires.”
Suzanne flipped her long hair over her shoulder. “Sweaty men are not my type, you know that. Unless they’re sweating over whether or not I’m going to go out with them.”
Evie had never been so grateful for her friends’ chatter. She let it flow over her as she fixed her gaze on the dark brew dripping from the expresso machine into two little white china cups. The news about Sean coming back reverberated through her in waves.
Sean had been her older brother’s friend, not hers. After the plane crash that killed his parents, Sean had come to live with the McGraws so he could finish high school in Jupiter Point. But he was so withdrawn and distant that she never got closer to him than the dinner table.
Until the Incident happened.
In the chaos and confusion, Sean had lost his cool and gotten thrown in jail for the night. The next day, he disappeared, even though he wasn’t the one who had hurt her.
That was Brad White, only Brad. But no one knew that. She hadn’t said anything, not when it counted, and now…
She picked up one of the espresso cups and took a sip for strength. “Are any of you actually ordering anything? This is a business, you know.”
The three women looked at her blankly.
Evie sighed. “In that case, I have to prepare my statement for tonight’s meeting. I’ll see you all later.”
“It should be a juicy one.” Mrs. Murphy slid off the stool. “Brad White’s in town, I hear.”
Evie’s heart nearly stopped. “What did you say?”
“Brad White. He’s back from all his campaign la-di-da. Everyone says he’s walking around with an entourage. They all have Bluetooths and smartphones and—”
The buzz in Evie’s ears drowned out everything else. If Brad was in town, he’d definitely be at tonight’s meeting. He would want to hear her official endorsement in person.
Brad White and Sean Marcus would both be there. This was an even bigger disaster than she thought. Oh sweet Lord above. Where was that cave when she needed it?
As Mrs. Murphy slid off the stool, her skirt snagged on a chrome rivet and rode up her backside. “I’m telling you, Evie, these stools are a menace!”
Suzanne reached over and tugged down her skirt.
Mrs. Murphy pretended to swat her hand away. “Hands off, unless you’re a hunky fireman.”
“I’ll see if I can line one up for you.” Suzanne winked. As Mrs. Murphy sailed out the front door, Suzanne looked at her watch.
“Darn it, cuz. I have to get to work. But I’ll see you at the council meeting.”
Evie shook herself out of her trance. “You’re coming to the meeting? Don’t you have a date or something? You always have a date.”
“I’d skip anything for dreamy Sean Marcus. I bet he’s even more of a babe now. Oh, and of course to see my cousin’s first starring role as president!” She waved her fingers as she vanished out the door.
Brianna turned to her as soon as they were alone. “You sure you’re all right, Evie?”
Evie hauled in a deep breath and called on a lifetime of McGraw tutelage. McGraws kept their cool. They didn’t lose their tempers. In fact, they avoided conflict at all costs. It was safer that way.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be? I don’t even know why you’re worried. I barely remember Sean. Honestly, you’re being ridiculous.”
Brianna fixed the strap of her overalls, which had fallen down one freckled arm. “Evie, I know that you’re always calm, cool and collected. I know you don’t like drama and you hate making scenes and you want everything to float along smoothly like a nice, calm, stagnant river. You like peace and harmony, and I love you for that. But I will still love you if you lose your shit for once. It’s okay to be upset and it’s okay to show it.”
Evie stared at her friend for a long moment. She wasn’t upset. Okay, maybe she had been, for a short moment. But she was already over it. “Rivers don’t stagnate,” she muttered.
Brianna rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She hopped off the stool. “Just so you know, I’m here for you. No matter what. And I’ll see you at the council meeting.”
“You’re coming to the meeting too? They’re deadly dull.”
“I have a feeling,” said Brianna, “that this meeting isn’t going to be dull.”
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