“Uh, hey, Ivy.”
Her gaze traveled up long legs, past a trim waist to a familiar, broad chest, all protected by turnout gear.
“Going in or out?” Cade quipped with a smirk.
“Very funny.” Ivy blew a wisp of hair out of her eyes. “How about taking care of the conflagration about to erupt on my stove? That’s your job, right?”
“O’Brien’s on it.” He kneeled down so they were more at eye level. “Do you think I’d be here calmly making small talk if you were still in danger?”
“I was not in danger.” Much.
“Are you kidding?” His eyes flashed. “You’re damn lucky it wasn’t worse—which it would have been if it wasn’t for the state-of-the art security system Nick had installed. As it is, you’ll have to ventilate the kitchen for a few days to get rid of the smell. And you owe your sister and her husband a new saucepan. But that’s the extent of it.”
He tilted his head to study the half of her that had made it into the house. “Well, that and the fact that you’re stuck in the doggy door.”
She consoled herself with the thought that he was inside, not on the porch talking to her ass.
“Yeah, about that…” She held her hands out. “Could you, maybe, pull me out of here or something?”
He sat on his very fine butt, bracing his feet against the door on either side of her, and grabbed her forearms. As embarrassed as she was, she couldn’t stop the hum of pleasure that buzzed through her at his touch.
“Ready?” he asked, his gaze boring into hers. “On three.”
She swallowed hard and nodded.
He pulled. She stayed.
“Hmm.” He released her and wiped his hands on his bunker pants. “You’re really wedged in there.”
She rolled her eyes. “Tell me something I don’t know, Captain Obvious.”
Another firefighter, who Ivy recognized from the softball game as the company captain, appeared behind Cade, followed by two more.
A bigger audience. Fan-freaking-tastic.
“The rest of the house is all clear,” Cappy announced.
“Need some help rescuing your girlfriend?” one of the others asked. “Or are you with the blonde this week? I can’t keep your women straight.”
“Zip it, O’Brien,” Cappy barked. “And get in line.”
In a matter of seconds, they’d formed a human chain with Cade at the front and the guy Cappy called O’Brien as the anchor.
“Hold on tight,” Cade said, gripping her arms again. “Like last time. On three.”
“Shouldn’t we have someone push from—pardon the pun—behind?” O’Brien’s voice reeked of snark.
“I hate to admit it, but that’s not a bad idea.” Cappy pulled his radio out of his belt and pressed the button. “Sykes. Send a team around back. We’ve got a female trapped in the pet door and need some pushing power.”
Pushing power? What was she? Fudgie the Whale?
Oh, wait, she’d almost forgotten. In this town, she’d always be Jabba the Mutt, no matter how long she’d been gone or how much weight she’d lost. Precisely why she’d stayed away for almost thirteen years. And why she was leaving the minute her father was back in top form.
“Ready out here, Cap,” a voice crackled over the radio.
“Okay, like Cade said, on three.” Cappy returned to his place in line. “One…”
She felt a pair of hands on her ass. Could this possibly get any more humiliating?
She let out a squeak as the hands shifted, hopefully to find a better pushing position and not to cop a cheap feel.
“Enjoying yourself?” Cade quirked a brow.
Oh, yeah. It could get more humiliating.
“Hardly.” She closed her eyes to escape his teasing smile.
Grunts and groans, mixed with an occasional expletive, filled the room. She felt like a chew toy caught between two rottweilers as the firefighters tugged and shoved.
“She’s coming free.”
“One more and she’s out.”
With a pop, Ivy sprang loose, landing like a wet rag in Cade’s lap. She forced her eyes open to see him looking down at her with a shit-eating grin.
“Nice catch,” she uttered, scrambling off him.