THE BASS beat started at his feet, working its vibrating way up his legs to his hips. Normally that would be enough to get Kevin Foster to dance. It sure had that effect on everyone else. But instead he stood next to the table in Bronco’s and watched as the club went wild. Everyone had already been whipped into an erotic frenzy by the strippers, who were showing off almost everything the good Lord gave them, and they hinted at what they couldn’t put on display. Kevin had watched, and of course he’d enjoyed himself. After all, he didn’t have a boyfriend, and as it turned out, he was the only guy in the club tonight who no one seemed to be interested in.
“Come dance with us,” Zach shouted as he reached for Kevin’s hand.
Kevin shook his head, and Zach turned and was engulfed in his lover’s arms. Bull was a great guy, and Kevin thought the world of him. But truth be told, he was jealous as hell. One by one, each of his friends had paired off, leaving him the odd guy out. Zach had Bull, and Jeremy had paired up with Lowell, a guy they affectionately called Spook. Kevin hadn’t been too keen on him to begin with, but he’d saved both Jeremy and their friend Tristan, so the guy was okay in Kevin’s book. Besides, Jeremy loved Lowell, so what was he going to do? Tristan had captured Harry’s attention and heart. Harry was Bull’s partner in the club, and that had grated because Kevin had liked Harry as well, but then Ken had come along and Kevin’s attention had been captured by the sexy police officer and….
His wandering thoughts stilled as a small flash of light in the far corner caught his eye. Kevin didn’t even know why it got his attention. It had to have been Bull telling all of them over and over to be aware of what was going on around them. He watched that area but didn’t see anything more for a few seconds—until the light began to build. A chill ran up his spine and everything else was forgotten. Kevin raced to Bull, parting dancers and pushing people aside. He patted Bull’s shoulder, and when he didn’t respond right away, Kevin slapped him on the arm. Bull turned and Kevin pointed. He knew Bull had seen what he saw. Bull stopped dancing and pulled Zach along with him toward the DJ booth.
Kevin raced to the door to the office area and put in the code Bull had told them to use in case of an emergency.
The music suddenly stopped. “Everyone please exit the building,” Bull said into the microphone that connected to the sound system. “Don’t delay, just make for the nearest exit immediately. Security, open all the doors right away.”
Kevin pulled open the door as light burst from the back corner and flames began licking up the wall. Every time he’d entered the office corridor, he’d passed the fire hose on the wall, though he hadn’t really noticed it until now.
“Fire!” someone cried, and screams rent the air. Kevin propped the door open and grabbed the hose. He yanked it out behind him as he raced back into the club. “Turn on the water,” he yelled to a man who passed him. “Just follow the hose and turn it on now.” He hadn’t seen anyone he knew and just had to hope the kid did as he asked. He continued racing through the club, and the hose got heavier as it filled with water.
He stumbled and swore at the top of his lungs, pointing the hose in the direction of the fire. Water sprayed everywhere, and he was damn lucky he didn’t take anyone out with the force of the spray. He continued moving toward the flames, spraying water on the walls. Instantly he was soaked. Walls of steam rose from where the heat met the water. The flames had reached the ceiling, but they died down fast. Kevin remembered being told in school that when using a fire extinguisher to point it at the base of the flame, so he did that here.
He coughed and angled his face away from the black smoke that came off the fire, rolling along the ceiling of the club.
The flames flared up for a few seconds, and Kevin worried that he’d done something wrong, but then they died pretty quickly, steam mixing with the acrid smoke. It burned his eyes, but he blinked and continued spraying the water.
Someone grabbed the hose and muscled him out of the way. “Get out of here,” the guard, who Kevin recognized after a second, told him.
“I got this. You make sure everyone is safe.” Kevin wrenched back the hose and continued what he was doing. He kept spraying water until it ran over his feet, soaking his shoes, and the last of the fire was out. The smoke was lessening and he could see better, even as the dampness soaked him to the skin. When he saw no more fire activity, he turned off the nozzle and breathed a sigh of relief, his heart still pounding in his ears.
“Is everybody out?” Bull’s voice boomed in the empty space. Kevin turned, and the huge man took the hose from him. “Quick thinking,” Bull told him. “I’ll go shut off the water, and then we all need to get out of here.”
“Bull!” Harry called from across the room.
“We all need to get out of here now!” Bull cried. He guided Kevin through the office corridor, where he shut off the water, and ushered him out through the club’s back door to where everyone gathered on the street. Traffic was being cordoned off by the police, and firefighters passed them on their way inside, with ambulance personnel right behind.
“Did everyone get out?” Bull asked as Harry hurried up to him. Kevin could tell by the way Harry’s face was drained of all color that something worse than the fire had happened. Firefighters exited the building, hurrying right to the police, where they conferred for a few seconds. Then they all rushed back inside. “What happened?”
“I’m not sure,” Harry said. “But there was a man on the floor maybe twenty feet from the door. I don’t know what happened, but he wasn’t moving. I tried to get him out, but….” Harry shook his head.
“He was dead?”
“Oh yeah. I don’t know if he was trampled or what, but….” Harry turned away. He walked toward the parking area next to the club and bent over. Retching sounds filled the air, and one of the EMTs hurried over to Harry.
Kevin rushed to his friend, comforting him as he helped Harry stand up, and the EMT gently took him over to one of the ambulances.
Harry was basically okay, and there wasn’t much more to be done other than wait around. The police fanned out and talked to all of the people in the club, letting some go and asking others to remain. Slowly, as people were questioned and released, the crowd thinned.
“Can we talk to you?” a firefighter asked Kevin, and he nodded. Jeremy hovered around Harry, and since there was nothing further Kevin could do for him, he followed the firefighter to where other firefighters and a police officer waited.
“We understand you saw the beginning of the fire?” the police officer asked. Kevin tried not to let his mind flash on Ken; that was over and he needed to move on.
“Yes. I saw a flash of light and then a few seconds later the actual flames.”
“You were the one who got the hose and actually extinguished the fire?” the policeman asked.
“Yes,” he answered, nodding. Kevin didn’t like him. His questions sounded like accusations.
“How did you know where the hose was?” the firefighter who’d first approached him asked in a light accent that Kevin thought was Scottish, now that he got a chance to hear it again. Wow, their own personal MacDreamy, right there in Harrisburg.
“I’ll conduct the interview,” the policeman interrupted.
Kevin turned to him. “He can ask the questions,” he said, smiling at the fireman. In the light now, he could see the man was gorgeous, with olive skin and the shadow of a beard. The firefighter smiled and his face lit up. “I’m friends with Zach, Tristan, and Jeremy.” He pointed out each of them. “Zach’s partner owns the club with Tristan’s partner, Harry. So I’ve been in the back room area plenty of times. Bull gave us each a code so we could get in if we needed to. He’s very protective of Zach, and by extension the rest of us.” He smiled because, well, he couldn’t help it. This guy was firefighter hotness to the extreme.
“So after you saw the flames…,” MacDreamy Hotness said.
“Yeah. I grabbed the hose and hurried back into the club. I told a guy running past me to turn on the water. I wasn’t sure if he would, but he did, and I started spraying the wall. The smoke from the fire was really black, and it rolled up onto the ceiling. I stayed as low as I could and sprayed the water at the base and then up the walls.”
“You did really well,” MacDreamy Hotness said, and Kevin grinned. “Your quick thinking probably saved the club and kept quite a few people from getting hurt.”
“Can you tell us anything else you remember about when the fire started?” the policeman asked.
“Only that I thought at first someone was lighting a cigarette. I figured one of the bouncers would take care of it. They’re pretty good about that sort of thing.”
“Where were Mr. Klinger and Mr. Krebbs when all this was happening?”
Kevin figured they probably had to ask stuff like that, but it pissed him off nonetheless. “Bull was dancing with Zach.”
“Does he do that a lot?” the officer pressed.
“Usually just once or twice a night. He has a job to do, but Zach loves to dance, and Bull loves it when Zach dances. Harry doesn’t dance much at all, but Tristan managed to get Harry out of his office and onto the floor for a quick dance.”
“So they weren’t near the area where the fire started?”
“No. I couldn’t see who was nearby. I only saw the light. I told Bull, and I heard him on the sound system, getting people out of the club, while I was getting the hose. Then someone yelled fire, and people must have stampeded to get out. Bull was trying to keep people calm and just get them to exit. I heard him.”
“No one is accusing your friends of doing anything wrong,” MacDreamy Hotness said. “He has to know what happened even if he’s being kind of a jerk about it.” MacDreamy Hotness looked at the officer and then back at him. Kevin wondered if there was some history there. “Is there anything else you can remember?”
“Not that I can think of. Did everyone get out?” he asked, pretending he hadn’t overheard what Harry had told Bull.
“No. We’re still trying to piece together what happened. But without your quick thinking, things could have been much worse.” MacDreamy Hotness took a step closer. “You showed courage under pressure, and that’s rare.” He turned to the police officer, and Kevin was sure he saw a challenge in his expression. “Is there anything else you need, Reyes?”
Officer Reyes walked away, and MacDreamy Hotness turned back to Kevin. “Don’t let him bother you. The guy’s a hothead and a pain in the ass.” He leaned closer. “I ought to know—I dated him for a while. What a piece of work.” He winked, then turned and went back inside the club. Kevin watched him go, mouth hanging open a little. He hoped he wasn’t drooling as he thought of MacDreamy Hotness and what he might look like under all the fire equipment.
Almost instantly he chastised himself for having lusty thoughts about the firefighter when someone had died trying to get out of the club.
“Is everything okay?” Jeremy asked as he came up and put an arm around him.
“Yeah. They wanted to know what happened, that’s all. Where’s Spook?”
“You know him. There are way too many police officers around, so he made himself scarce. He’s probably somewhere nearby, watching everything that’s going on. Before he left he said to keep an eye out because the guy who started the fire is probably hanging around to see the aftermath of his handiwork.”
“I didn’t think it could be an accident. Not with what I saw.”
“Spook said it wasn’t, but he didn’t know any more. He told me to keep my eyes open, and that he’d be watching.”
Kevin nodded but didn’t look to see if he could spot Spook. He’d learned long ago that when Jeremy’s partner didn’t want to be seen, he wouldn’t be. Being able to blend into a crowd and be noticed by nobody was one of his talents. His real name was Lowell, but only Jeremy called him that. To everyone else he was Spook. “Okay.” That made him feel better.
Kevin watched the front of the club and saw MacDreamy Hotness come out. This time he took off his jacket and walked around in fire pants, boots, and a T-shirt. Man, Kevin’s imagination must have been going faulty because the real thing was so much better than what he’d conjured up.