Spark (Spark Series) Online - Brooke Cumberland

**1**

I jolt from my sleep, smelling a smoldering aroma throughout my apartment. I feel distraught, heavy, and even dizzy. Where the hell am I? A loud, ear-piercing sound comes from the hallway, which I can only assume is a smoke detector. Oh crap, now what did Carissa burn?

Carissa Wright, my roommate and best friend. I love the woman, but she can’t cook to save her life. I ignore the horrific noise, and fall back asleep. She could burn water if it were possible.

My eyes get heavier, and I start to slip away. I begin to gasp for air, as my breathing is no longer controlled. I heave as I try to inhale, but only smoke enters.

My head is lifted, but it feels so heavy I can’t even move it. My body is airborne, and I feel as if I’m floating. I’m not. Someone lifts me up, takes me from the comforts of my warm bed, and carries me out of my room.

“Ma’am? Can you hear me?” A muffled voice that I hear in one ear asks me. I nod lazily. At least I think I nod. My arms and legs feel so heavy I can’t even believe this person can lift me. “What’s your name?” he asks again, carrying me through the living room. I inhale the smoke, coughing it up as it hits my lungs.

“Velaney,” I whisper, hoping it’s loud enough for him to hear. My hair falls loosely behind my head, and my brown locks wrap around a hard rock bicep. He’s in a t-shirt, and I notice because my neck is resting on his bare arm. It’s rock hard and chiseled solid.

“Velaney, I’m Eric,” I hear him say as his tongue wraps around my name so sweetly that if I weren’t already lying in his arms, I’d pass out from the very sound of it. His southern accent is ridiculously charming. “I’m going to place this oxygen mask over you.” I nod, and he places it over my face. I inhale in as deep as I can.

The smoke thickens and I squeeze my eyes shut holding on to him as tight as I can. My grip is so strong I wonder if I’m hurting him, but his muscles are so fine and curved that I highly doubt it. I let him carry me out my apartment door, and as we reach the hallway, I notice the smell getting stronger. Small flakes, ashes, are falling on my bare skin and in my hair. The smell is revolting, heavy, and almost makes me choke. I wonder how he can stand the smell, and if he’s done this before.

I lower the mask for a split second and ask, “Do you know where my roommate is?” I barely get the words out as I cough my way through them. My lungs do not approve of this. I’ve never smoked a day in my life, and now they were getting their little butts kicked.

“She’s outside already, don’t worry, Velaney. I have you.” His voice is so calm and soothing, yet I’m panicking at the fact that my apartment complex is on fire. I’m suddenly aware that I’m not in my typical nightwear as I brush my fingers along my stomach to feel lace. Oh god. Tuesday is laundry night, usually. I skipped a few weeks working extra shifts at the bar. I was out of my usual yoga stretch pants, and all that was left was a lacy nighty I got as a gift from my ex-boyfriend. I stashed it in the bottom of my drawer after we broke up, but tonight of all nights is when I wear it. Face palm.

I wonder if he notices. Of course, he does. The damn thing barely brushes my butt cheeks, and my smooth legs are wrapped up in his arms.

He continues carrying me down five floors of stairs. He doesn’t appear out of breath, or even act as if I’m too heavy. At five foot six inches, I weigh a mere one hundred thirty pounds, but most of it is toned muscle from my religious workouts.

“Laney!” I hear Carissa’s voice scream as we walk outside. The cold air hits me hard on the face as the streets of Boston are crowding with loud sirens and huge fire trucks. The streetlights are still on, and I notice the full moon directly above us.

Eric places me on my feet. I whip the mask off and run barefoot to where Carissa and the rest of my neighbors are