Hope you enjoy the first chapter to CeCe’s story, Cockloft. Coming August 18, 2017.
A piercing alarm yanks me from my blissful sleep. I shoot upright with a gasp, my thundering heart nearly beating out of my chest. Ripping off my sleep mask, I cover my ears to silence the god-awful sound. It doesn’t take me long before I realize it’s the fire alarm.
Dropping back down, I check my bedside clock to see it’s three in the morning.
Don’t these assholes know I need my beauty sleep? CeCe with bags under her eyes looks like Malibu Barbie after a night of being strung out on crack. Not that I’ve seen what that looks like, but I can imagine it’d be hideous, which is how I look with tired, puffy eyes.
Pepper, my Chihuahua, scales up my chest, his poor little body shaking in fear.
“It’s okay, boy, don’t be afraid,” I coo, holding him close. “It’s just another false alarm.”
Because a bunch of young punks think it’s funny to mess with everyone’s sleep. I have no doubt it’s Mrs. Langley’s grandsons pulling this crap. Those two fourteen-year-old brats are always up to no good. Just the other day I caught them in the elevator trying to peek up my dress.
Although, I really shouldn’t complain since it’s the only form of action I’ve had in the past year…
I let that pathetic thought trail off and try to block out the obnoxious sound. I refuse to evacuate, I’m not playing into these little shits’ hands again.
Pepper burrows in closer to my neck as I stroke his back, hoping to calm him. We wait for the alarm to be shut off but it doesn’t happen.
What the hell is taking them so long?
A few minutes later, I get a whiff of something burning and realize there’s smoke. Then I hear the sirens.
“Oh shit!” Panic grips me as I fling off the covers and leap from bed, sending poor Pepper to sail through the air in my haste. “Oh, Pep, I’m so sorry.” I scoop him up and pull him in close to my pounding heart. “It’s going to be okay, boy, but we have to get out of here. There’s a fire!”
I dash into my walk-in closet to grab some clothes. My Victoria Secret silk tank top and panties are adorable but not something I want all of my neighbors to see me in, especially since the panties barely cover my ass cheeks.
I’ll just bet Tweedledee and Tweedledum would love that.
As I’m swiping through the mounds of clothes in my closet, my eyes land on my very impressive shoe and purse collection. For a heart-stopping second I imagine them bursting into flames. As horrible as that would be, there’s one in particular that I cannot survive without.
Dropping to my knees, I begin sorting through the pile. The dread in my stomach tightens when I can’t find what I’m looking for.
“Come on, where are you?” I dig deeper into the back of my closet, chucking all the shoes and purses behind me.
The heated curse penetrates the ringing alarm but I pay it no mind, my state frantic as I continue the search. I’m angry with myself for not paying more attention after the remodel of my closet last week.
“Miss, you need to evacuate! There’s a fire in your building.”
I ignore the deep order, my hope fading with each passing second.
Please, God, let me find it.
“Lady! Are you listening to me?”
“Just a minute,” I yell back.
“Jesus christ.” The curse is spewed seconds before my arm is grabbed and I’m spun around, coming face-to-face with a very pissed off firefighter.
A sexy firefighter but an angry one, if his narrowed chocolate eyes are any indication. For one brief second, I notice how incredible his lashes are. Long, dark, and thick. The kind of lashes I only get with extensions.
“We’re leaving, now,” he grits, snapping me back into myself.
“Hold on. I need to grab something real quick.” Pulling from his grip, I move to the last corner I haven’t searched but I’m twisted back around to face him.
His eyes that were angry a second ago are now raging. “Listen, lady. There is nothing in here that’s worth risking your life over.”
If he only knew how important this is to me.
“Now you have two options. Either you come with me willingly or I’ll throw you over my damn shoulder and carry you out. What’s it going to be?”
My back straightens at the ultimatum. “I told you to wait. This will only take a second.” I move back to my task, knowing if I don’t find it this time I’ll have to leave without it.
The thought kills a small part of me.
A low growl sounds in my ear the same time the fireman’s arms lock around my waist. Right at that moment, I spot the baby blue color I’ve been looking for.
“Wait, I see it.” Reaching out, I snag the strap, ripping it from its buried place. I also manage to snatch up Pep and shove him inside just as Mr. Pissy hauls me to my feet.
I’m about to give him a piece of my mind but I don’t get the chance because he takes my arm in a firm grip and begins dragging me from the closet. When my bare leg brushes his pants, I’m reminded of my current wardrobe situation.
“Excuse me. Can you give me just one more second? I need clothes.”
His determined strides don’t falter.
I dig my heels into the carpet, halting his quick pursuit. “Buddy, I said stop. I need pants.”
He spins around, his expression furious. “Too fucking bad. You should have grabbed them instead of a stupid purse!”
I’m about to shove this ‘stupid purse’ up his ass…well maybe not this one. I’ll go back and grab my last season Louis. Then I’ll shove it up his ass.
Before I can do just that he lifts a radio to his mouth. “I’ve located the missing tenant. She’s fine,” he barks into it, his flinty eyes narrowed on me.
I give him narrowed eyes right back.
He has a serious attitude problem and should not be working with people.
“Smoke up here is minimal. What’s our situation?”
“Fire is on the second floor.” The information is delivered through static. “The stairwell is now compromised. You’re gonna have to take the ladder.”
I don’t have time to ponder that because I’m ushered out of my room and led toward my balcony. The bossy firefighter slides open the door and steps outside, yanking me with him.
Finally having enough, I rip my arm out of his firm grasp. “Stop dragging me around like a dog. God, what’s your problem?”
He steps into my personal space, forcing my head to crane all the way back. I curl Pep closer into my chest, more for my sake than his.
“You wanna know what my problem is? My brothers need help fighting a fire and I’m stuck here with you because you didn’t evacuate like you were supposed to!”
“I thought it was a false alarm. We’ve had three in the past month.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he bellows. “You always evacuate and you sure as hell don’t stop for a fucking purse.”
“It’s not just a purse. It’s important to me.”
He grunts. “I’m sure it is.”
I’m about to tell him exactly what it means to me but I bite my tongue. I don’t owe this jerk anything, least of all an explanation.
Our heated exchange is interrupted when a steel ladder reaches my balcony.
A really tall ladder.
He reaches out and grabs the straps that are attached to it then moves for me.
I retreat, my back hitting the wall. “What are you doing?”
“Putting a harness on you.”
He takes another threatening step forward, fury radiating from him. “Listen, Blondie.”
“My patience is running thin with you. You have jeopardized both of our lives enough. Now stop being a pain in my ass and let me put the harness on you!”
Without giving me an option, he drops to his knees before me, forcing my leg into one loop then the other. He begins buckling me up, his face only an inch from my crotch that’s minimally covered by black satin.
Remember when I said the most action I’ve had this past year was when Mrs. Langley’s grandsons were trying to peek up my dress? Well, not anymore.
“Is a ladder really necessary?” I ask, hoping to break the awkward tension. “How else is everyone on my floor getting down?”
He stands to his full height, towering over me. By his hard expression it’s clear he’s not the least bit affected that he just had his face practically buried in my hoo-ha. I’m both equally relieved and insulted by it.
Maybe he has his face buried between women’s legs often.
Good god. What’s wrong with me? I’ve been in this man’s miserable presence for all of five minutes and I imagine him muff diving?
“Everyone else is already down there because they evacuated like they were supposed to,” he explains, bringing me back from my strayed thoughts.
For the first time since this crazy night unfolded, a sliver of guilt niggles at me. He’s right. I should have treated this like a real fire alarm whether I believed it was or not.
After clipping my harness to his belt, he props a heavy boot on top of my glass railing and climbs onto the ladder like a pro. The twelve stories don’t
seem to rattle him one bit.
“Hand me your purse,” he says.
I snort at the order. “Not a chance, buddy. My dog stays with me.”
Based on my five minutes with him, I’ll bet he accidentally drops my purse.
His jaw locks, my refusal striking another chord. “I need you to get your ass on this ladder and you can’t do that while carrying that piece of luggage you call a purse. So, for just once, can you not argue with me and do what I say?”
With or without the purse, I’m screwed, and not the good kind of screwed. The bad kind.
The deadly kind.
I could fall to my death right here and now. Then what would happen to poor Pep?
The terrifying thought robs me of air.
Straightening my shoulders, I lift my chin, hoping to mask my fear. “I will give you my purse but I swear to God, Fireboy, if anything happens to my dog I will punch your dick off. Got it?”
I expect an angry retort but instead a small smirk tugs at his full lips.
It’s a nice smirk…for an asshole that is.
“I promise not to let anything happen to your dog,” he says.
Having no other option but to trust him, I press a kiss to Pep’s head and reluctantly hand over my most precious possessions. My dog and the last gift my father ever gave to me.
Fireboy hooks it around his arm that’s holding the ladder before extending his other hand to me.
I hesitate, terrified to take it.
“You got this, Blondie. I swear I won’t let you fall.”
My eyes lock on his chocolate ones, his gaze strong and sure. I place my trembling hand into his warm one then lift my bare foot onto the cold railing and push off with my other.
He helps me onto the ladder, banding his arm tight around my waist, caging me in with this large body. My heart hammers as I lock my arms around the metal steps, holding on for dear life.
“Bring it down,” he orders into the radio.
The ladder jerks with our descent, sending panic through my veins. “Oh god. Oh shit!” I squeeze my eyes shut, not wanting to see how far down the ground is.
“Don’t be scared, I got you.” His warm breath grazes my ear as he crowds my back.
Every muscle in my body stills. My breath races for a new reason and I become intimately aware of how close he is to my half naked body.
“Do you still have my dog?” I ask, my voice ridiculously breathless.
“Yeah, I got him.”
Is his voice gruffer than before?
The ladder finally comes to a stop, bringing a small reprieve to my anxious heart. That’s until sexy firefighter is about to step away from me.
I grab his wrist, keeping his arm curled around me. “Please don’t go yet.”
“Why?” he asks, his breath tickling my ear again.
“Because if you do everyone is going to see my ass and I’ve had enough excitement for one night.”
I figure he’s going to jump at the chance to embarrass me but thankfully he remains where he is and speaks into his radio again. “Banks, bring us a blanket.”
“Thank you,” I whisper.
An awkward silence settles between us.
“What’s your name, Blondie?”
I hesitate to tell him but figure he has a right to know since he’s seen me in my underwear. “CeCe.”
“CeCe.” My name rolls off his tongue in the most beautiful way, eliciting a shiver to ripple down my spine. I never noticed before but he has the faintest accent.
I’m about to ask for his but I don’t get the chance because the other firefighter joins us.
Fireboy hands him Pepper in exchange for the blanket. “Take him down, will you?”
His friend holds up my purse, inspecting it with a chuckle.
I glare at him over my shoulder, wondering what he finds so funny. “Be careful with my dog.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He salutes me then disappears down the side of the truck, taking Pep and his laughter with him.
Fireboy wraps the blanket around my waist before stepping back. “This way.” He climbs down first then waits for me at the bottom.
Bunching the blanket around my hips, I turn around and take one step at a time. When I reach the last one his hands span my waist, lifting me down. He turns me to face him, his body close, closer than necessary, and I find myself short of breath again.
“Next time, Blondie, you evacuate like you’re supposed to.”
The warning has my earlier annoyance rushing back. Before I can tell him he needs to work on his people skills, he takes off, grabbing more equipment as he runs back into the burning building.
The man who brought us the blanket passes me Pep, an amused smirk on his face. “Miss.” He tips his helmet at me then follows his friend.
I stand amongst my neighbors, the blanket cinched at my hips, concealing my black panties. Mrs. Langley’s grandsons point at me from across the way, their eyes lit up like the fourth of July.
This is, by far, the most humiliating night of my life.