Here’s a teaser from book 2 of the Tessa Fields: Femme Fatale Series:
The orange-and-white-striped kitten peered down from his perch on the branch of a Modesto Pine some thirty feet above street level.
Tessa Fields stared back up. “Don’t worry, little kitty. Help is on the way.” She was dressed in a low-cut periwinkle blouse, floral skirt and strappy sandals. She wore hair down; a gold necklace with a crystal pendant completed her look.
Mrs. Catlin, a seventy-something neighbor of Tessa’s, stopped at the cry, squinted up at the tree and said, “How did that kitten manage to climb that high?”
“I know, it’s baffling,” said Tessa. “But I have complete confidence the fire department will be able to get him down.”
“Fire Department?” scoffed the elderly lady. “I didn’t think they rescue cats struck in trees any longer.”
“They still do.” Tessa smiled knowingly. “If you ask them just right.”
As if on cue, a siren wailed. A ladder truck, with lights flashing, raced down the street, pulled over and stopped.
A man in bulky fire gear jumped out of the truck. “I’m looking for Tessa Fields.”
“That’s me,” said Tessa flashing a dazzling smile.
“Lt. Karl Maxwell, Benecia Fire Company #33, at your service.” He bowed his head a smidge. “Now where’s our stuck kitty?”
“Up there.” Tessa pointed.
“Meow!” cried the kitten.
Maxwell lifted his face mask, revealing silver-blue eyes, and stared up into the tree, “He’s pretty high. Wonder how he managed that.”
“Yeah, it’s a real puzzler,” agreed Tessa.
“But it’s no problem. My men and I will have him down in a jiff.”
Tessa locked eyes with the fireman’s. “Lieutenant…”
“Call me, Karl”
“Karl, there no risk of fire and it’s awfully warm today.” She reached out and fiddled with the collar of his coat. “Are you sure you wouldn’t be more comfortable out of this bulky fire gear?”
The firefighter was entranced by the intense green of Tessa’s eyes. He watched her fingers casually play with her hair, revealing a diamond stud earring that reflected in the sunlight.
The sun! He could feel the hot sun beating down on him, the sweat dripping down his back. Her words echoed in his mind. It was against regulations. But he was just so hot. And Tessa’s words made perfect sense.
He smiled at her, showing two rows of perfect white teeth. “Yes, Tessa. I think you’re right.” He removed his helmet revealing a full head of surfer-blonde hair. He stripped off his protective coat and pants to reveal a blue t-shirt and matching shorts. His arms and legs were tanned and muscular. His shirt read “Firemen do it while wearing rubber.”
“I bet your men might feel the same way,” said Tessa.
Maxwell didn’t hesitate. “Right you are, Tessa.” He shouted at his crew. “Jefferson, Kim, Ramirez, Running Wolf” ditch your gear. This is just a cat stuck in a tree.”
The men shed their helmets, coats, pants and boots.
Smorgasbord thought Tessa, as she gazed at the firefighters. African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American. Chiseled muscles visible through their tight t-shirts, attested to the their fitness.
Even old Mrs. Catlin couldn’t help but gawk this impressive display of male physiques.
Okay, men let’s rescue this kitten,” said Maxwell. He barked out orders. “Kim, block off traffic. Jefferson, maneuver the truck into place. Ramirez, you’ve got ladder control. And Running Wolf, you’re going up to retrieve our wayward kitty.”
Kim set up a line of orange cones closing off the lane.
Jefferson brought the truck under the tree and close to the curb.
The ladder rose slowly from the truck into the tree branches. When Ramirez had the end of the ladder in the vicinity of the kitten, he gave a thumbs up sign.
Running Wolf scrambled up the ladder. When he arrived at the top, he was level with the kitten. He reached out. The kitten considered the outstretched hand and leapt to a higher branch.
Running Wolf sighed. He looked down and made a motion with his hand.
The Lieutenant called out. “Ramirez, give him another five feet.”
Ramirez nodded. The ladder rose further.
Running Wolf was again level with the kitten. This time he moved his hand ever so slowly, until it was just inches from the stranded feline.
The kitten looked at the hand, sniffed a bit, and then hopped to an even higher branch.
Running Wolf looked down at Maxwell and shrugged.
“Can you give him anymore?” The lieutenant asked Ramirez.
Ramirez shook his head. “We’ve got those power lines to watch out for.”
Maxwell shouted to Running Wolf, “That’s as high as we can send you.”
Running Wolf looked at the kitten. He was maybe seven or eight feet higher, but the branches were so thick, climbing into the tree to reach him seemed impossible.
“We need a new plan,” shouted out Running Wolf. “I’m coming back down.”
“Hold on,” said Tessa. She stuck her fingers in her mouth and made a high-pitched whistling sound. “Little kitten, come back down,” she called out.
The kitten stared down at Tessa, twitched his nose and leapt from his branch. In a sort of controlled plunge, he bounced and careened off a series of branches until he plopped into the outstretched hand of Running Wolf.
“Got him!” He shouted. “Or her! It! Anyway I’m heading down.” With the kitten in his left hand and cupped to his chest he descended the ladder using his right hand.
He jumped off the ladder’s last two steps to the truck and down to the street.
“Joe Running Wolf at your service, Ma’am.” He handed the kitten to Tessa.
“Thanks, but he’s not really mine. I was the just the one who noticed him up the tree.” She scratched the kitten’s ears while inspecting him. “He doesn’t even have a collar.” She looked at the Mrs. Catlin. “Maybe you’d like to take him in.”
The old woman’s eyes lit up. “Yes I would.” She slipped the kitten out of Tessa’s hands. “ “Let me take you home for a nice saucer of cold milk.”
“Looks like our job here is done,” said Maxwell.
”I bet you fellas could use a nice cold drink yourselves. Probably got pretty hot and thirsty rescuing that little guy,” said Tessa.
The men instinctively swallowed and licked their lips.
“I do feel a bit parched,” said Kim.
“Perfect,” said Tessa. “You can all come over to my place. My condo is just a few blocks over.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Jefferson.
“But only if I get to ride in the truck,” said Tessa.
“Seems fair,” said Maxwell.
Ramirez lowered the ladder while Kim collected the cones. In the cab Tessa squeezed into between Jefferson and Maxwell.
She traced her finger across the Lieutenant’s firm chest. “You’re probably are still hot in this shirt.”
A bead of swear appeared on his forehead and rolled down his face. “Yes, Tessa. You are right.”
He pulled off his shirt. Perfect abs. Tessa suppressed a squeal.
She turned to the driver. “You too, Jefferson. Off with the shirt.”
“Yes, Tessa,” said the fireman and he complied with her command.
“Now, let’s go get that drink,” said Tessa.
As Jefferson eased the truck into traffic, Tessa asked “Can I run the siren?”
“Yes, Tessa,” said Jefferson. “It’s that black button on the dash.”
Tessa smiled and pressed the button. The siren wailed and lights flashed as the truck motored down the street.