By: Shirley Penick

She, on the other hand, had felt defensive for him toward the others for being so critical. Some of the suggestions were good ones but some seemed kind of picky to her. He was the artist, not that bunch. She wondered if she should call or text him to apologize. The suggestion to emphasize the hotels and B&Bs on the Where’s Tsilly? drawing was a good idea. She wanted her menu to point out all the things tourists might like.

But Chris whining about having a word search and then suggesting the maze should be bigger and the word search smaller, was over the top. Jeremy had a good eye for how things should be balanced, and Chris was just being picky because of his prejudice against word searches. Jeremy had handled it well. He hadn’t gotten upset. He’d just pointed out the balance would be off if he did as Chris suggested.

Nolan’s idea was putting dots in the coloring portion of the menu, so kids could follow the pattern, one dot for red, two for blue, etc. That idea had been debated for a while, and eventually rejected—mostly because the kids would only have four crayons and that seemed like too few for that type of coloring.

They had come up with some cute ideas for the menu items and they had even suggested adding a few new items like Tsilly fish sticks and Eiffel Tower French toast. The Eiffel Tower French toast could be cut into sticks and leaned together to mimic the tower design. She knew her chef would have fun with both those additions and he would get a kick out of some of the other ideas, they had come up with for their current menu items.

Her phone chimed, announcing a text message. She picked it up and swiped the screen. It was from Jeremy.

Jeremy: Had fun tonight, thanks for inviting me.

Amber: Welcome, sorry everyone picked your ideas apart.

Jeremy: No worries, liked the input.

Amber: Anything else you need for the menu?

Jeremy: Nope, should have it done in a couple of days.

Amber: Cool

Jeremy: TTYL

Amber: Night

Jeremy: Sweet dreams.

Amber smiled as she set her phone down, plugging in the charging cord. She was looking forward to seeing the menu, but she would miss the interaction with Jeremy on a nearly daily basis. Although she was trying to resist his rugged good looks, she would miss the way he made her heart race.

Amber woke to a screeching smoke detector and couldn’t breathe—smoke filled her room. She ripped her T-shirt off, grabbed the glass of water by the bed and dumped it on the T-shirt to hold over her mouth and nose so she could filter the air enough to breathe. Then, she felt for her cell phone—which she’d knocked off the bedside table. Thank God, she had plugged it in to charge. She was able to follow the cord, swipe it open and hit the emergency number even as she stumbled toward her bedroom door.

“Emergency, what is the nature of your call?”

“Smoke filling bedroom.”

“I see your address on the screen, please verify.” She reeled off Amber’s address and her name, which she verified. “Dispatching fire department. Do you see any flames or feel any heat?”


“Can you exit the building?”

“Maybe, just got to the bedroom door.”

“Stay on the line with me. Feel the door first and see if there is any heat.”

She put the wet T-shirt over her shoulder and held her breath while she felt the door. “No heat.”

“Stand to the side and open the door.”

“Okay, did that, still no flames or heat. Going to outside door. Hard to breathe.” She stumbled and almost fell, dropping her cell phone and the T-shirt. She felt around for the phone.


Coughing, eyes stinging from the smoke, she ground out, “Sorry, dropped the phone. Confused. Can’t breathe.” Am I going to die right here in my living room?

Someone pounded on her door and then yelled her name. Suddenly, her door was kicked in and Jeremy crashed through it. Fresh air wafted into the room as he shone his light around to find her.

“Come on, beautiful.” He scooped her up in his arms and carried her out into the sweet fresh air.

She dragged in a breath and coughed. She heard the firetrucks pull up and the men shouting but couldn’t focus on it. Jeremy carried her down the stairs and away from the building to his Jeep. He opened the door and sat her on the seat. Then, he took off his bunker coat, pulled off his T-shirt, and dragged it down over her head. It was so warm. She’d forgotten she was half naked, wearing only a sports bra and pajama bottoms. Her cheeks turned hotter than the fire.

“Are you hurt?”

“No, just had trouble breathing.” She coughed. “Throat hurts and eyes are stinging, but fine.”

“Good. I was worried about you.” He ran one finger down her cheek.