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M. L. "Matt" Buchman

Wildfire on the Skagit (also in audio)

Wildfire on the Skagit (also in audio)

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When wildfire threatens her home, a smokie gal has only one choice—fight for her life.
Elite smokejumper Krista Thorson parachutes into wildfires for a living. Too tall, too big, too strong, she never fit in...except on the fireline. Her past lost, her future uncertain, Krista fights for the present.
Special Forces veteran Evan Greene jumps fire to avoid facing his past. Some memories are too painful. Evan’s policy? Bury and move onuntil Krista unearths what he most wants to forget.
No half-measures win this firefight. Together they must face their pasts before their love is burned away by the wildfire on the Skagit.
“M.L. Buchman is an amazing author and…sure to entertain the most demanding reader.” – Fresh Fiction, Firehawks
[Can be read stand-alone or in series. A complete happy-ever-after with no cliffhangers.]
Buy now to jump into the romantic firefighting adventure.

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“Guard your reserves!” The spotter shouted after he’d clambered from the cockpit, over all of the smokejumpers, and finally reached the back door of the roaring DC-3 jump plane.
Krista Thorson slapped her hand over her reserve parachute to make sure it didn’t accidentally deploy when he popped open the airplane’s door. A glance down the line assured her that all twelve smokejumpers in the flight were awake and doing the same.
A DC-3’s cabin wasn’t that cramped, until several tons of wildland firefighting gear were secure behind heavy cargo nets down one side, and a dozen fully geared-up smokejumpers lay prone like beached whales down the other. They’d been trying to finish their night’s sleep after the dawn call-to-fire, but the wildfire was so close to base that a catnap was all any of them had managed.
Krista and Akbar the Great Jepps, the lead smokie, were always first stick. It had taken Krista a decade to work up to the Number Two slot. When Tim and before him TJ had still been on the crew, she was rarely out of the plane in the first pass—two jumpers was a typical stick for each passage of the plane over a jump spot.
It was a good, comfortable slot. Despite her constant threats to drop a tree on him and take over, she really wasn’t interested in Lead; Akbar was just too damned good and she couldn’t imagine jumping with anyone else.
Being Number Two in the first stick also meant that she and Akbar got to test the air first, pathfinding a way down through the roaring winds so chaotic near a fire. She loved the challenge.
Fifteen minutes out from the fire they’d safety-checked each others’ gear, from heavy jumpsuit pants secured at the boots so no tree branch could slip by, to parachute harness, to helmet with wire-mesh face mask. They were as ready as they could be.
Terry, Mount Hood Aviation’s spotter for Jump M1, popped the rear door and pulled it inward. There was a slap of wind, especially where she and Akbar sat crammed at the rear of the plane—exactly the sort of slap that could snag a reserve parachute, then suck it and the attached smokie out the door after straining her through the metal hull.
Through the open door the smell of high mountain air and hot engine exhaust swirled about the cabin. The DC-3’s big radial engines were no longer buffered by the airplane’s thin hull, but now delivered their full-throated roar straight into the open jump door—sweet music of the first jump of the fire season.
“Did you remember to call her this time?” Krista leaned down and shouted at Akbar. He was powerfully muscled, and over half a foot shorter than Krista’s six foot plus. He was India’s answer to Tom Cruise, except he was younger, fitter, and from Seattle. But he was as short, which she’d usually remind him of about now, but he was looking all freaked out.
“Crap!” He yanked out his cell phone as Krista laughed. He never remembered to warn his wife he was about to jump a fire and might not be able to call for days.
“You’d be lost without me, dude!”
“I’d be more lost without her,” he shouted back.
Amazing, but true.
Akbar the Great had always been a rocking firefighter—there was a reason he was the lead smokie with such an elite outfit. He’d also been the crassest of womanizers. Until the moment he met Laura Jenson. She’d done something to him, and not merely stopping his ever-growing circle of post-fire flings.
He wasn’t any less aggressive against a burn, but he was—
Krista searched for the right word.
—steadier?
Whatever it was, Laura had definitely been a good influence on Akbar. And on top of making Akbar behave, she was also a wilderness guide and expert horsewoman which made her real easy to respect. The fact that she was a totally likeable person meant Akbar was also way luckier than he deserved.
If he was a little less freaking happy all the time, he might be more tolerable. Of course, he was getting it regular from a wonderful woman, so maybe he had reason to be so goofy happy that Krista wanted to smack him sometimes.
Often.
What the hell. She smacked his shoulder hard.
“What was that for?” he shouted as he huddled over his phone.
“Just ’cause.”
There was no way for Akbar to call now, not over the roar of engine and hundred mile-an-hour wind ripping by the door, so he sent a quick text Krista could see over his shoulder.
Fire.
“C’mon, dude. You been married a year and you still don’t know shit.” After a year—hell, Laura was a smart woman—after the first twenty minutes, she must have known what sort of a man Akbar was. Didn’t mean that Krista couldn’t tease him about it anyway.
“What?”
“You gotta tell her you love her or something. Most girls want to hear stuff like that.”
He nodded about six times as if trying to embed that in his memory, but she knew it wouldn’t stick.
“Now!” she shouted over all the noise.
“Oh, right.” He scrambled out a quick “Hugs” on his phone and looked pretty pleased with himself. Sad.
Then he glanced up at her, as he stuffed away his phone. “Not you, though. I never forget that Mama Krista is not like other girls.”

Publication Details

Initial Publication: June 19, 2015
Print Pages: 176
Audio length: 5:32
Narrator: Read by Author

Bonus Content

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