Hearts Ablaze (Courageous Hearts Series Book 2)
Courageous Hearts Series, Book 2
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Copyright © 2020 by Jenni Lovewell
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form on by an electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published by Nebula Publishing
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Elena Brookes lived the perfect, worry-free life until the tragic night when her husband was killed in a housefire that she and her son barely escaped. After losing nearly everything and starting a life without the man she thought she’d have forever, Elena was lost.
On the same night, the firefighter who rescued Elena and her son was hospitalized for burns that seared half of his body. Ethan Jones saved two in the fire, but he couldn’t save the third—even after giving his body to the flames. Suffering his first career loss, Ethan knew he’d never recover fully.
When Elena and Ethan finally reconvened years later, the fire that tore them apart was the common ground that finally brought them back together. Despite a history that should have melded them together for life, can Ethan and Elena pick up the pieces of their broken souls and rekindle the relationship that they long ago lost, or will healing come at too much of a cost?
The small photograph of Bruce rested on the worn bedside table, tucked neatly beneath the corner of my lamp. As I rested on my bed, waiting for the alarm to sound, I examined it. A little less pain pierced my chest than the day before. The day before held a little less grief than the one before that. One day, if I was lucky, the photo would heed only good memories of a past life.
With a sigh, I grabbed my phone and flipped off the alarm two minutes early. I stood and stretched, focusing my eyes on a form standing silently in my doorway. I grabbed my chest and huffed out a breath. “Derrick,” I sighed, relieved to see my son.
“There’s a man in the front yard,” Derrick said, clutching his favorite stuffed racecar in his hands. The toy was never out of arm’s reach from him.
I tightened my expression. “A man?” I asked. He nodded hugely and I sprung to my feet. My long sleeve T-shirt hung over my shorts and fell midway down my thigh. “Come here.” I reached toward him, and he padded forward. “Why don’t you watch some cartoons in mommy’s bed while I go talk to the man outside.”
“SpongeBob?” he asked credulously. His cartoon time was never in the mornings, but I compromised to keep him in place.
I nodded and started the television for him, leaving three tiny kisses atop his dark, untamable curls. I rushed from the room and closed the door before running to the living room window and peeking through the curtains. It was startling to see a man standing beside the woodpile, exactly as Derrick had claimed. The wood had fallen into a huge heap at the base of my small willow tree, creating a chaotic yard disaster. But the man wasn’t loading the wood into a vehicle. He was restacking the wood, and it looked like he had been at it for quite a while. His face was turned away but sweat glistened on the back of his arms.
I released the curtain and picked my front tooth with my thumbnail. What was the proper way to thank the stranger for cleaning up wood from my yard? And was he the same man who had been sneaking into my yard and chopping my wood for a year? Was he the same one who cleaned out the gutters last spring when they clogged and flooded my walkway? I wondered if the man had been responsible for two years of outdoor assistance. Someone had made my life far easier after Bruce’s death, and I wondered if I’d finally found the culprit.
I snagged a water bottle from the pantry and rushed to the door where I slid on a pair of flipflops. I opened the door as silently as possible and snuck down my sidewalk and toward the willow tree. I paused once I neared him, taking in the lean arms that picked up the wood effortlessly and tossed it onto the pile with precision. “Hey,” I said, clutching the water bottle between my hands.
He turned, and I gaped at the man who stood before me. Ethan Jones.
“Lena, how are you?” he asked, brushing his hands on his dark jeans.
Sweat glistened across his forehead and upper arms. “I’m good,” I replied with a genuine smile. It was the answer I always gave to people. The truth was irrelevant. “I haven’t seen