Cover of the new erotic book "Champagne Rules" - a man and a women entwined on a red cover

Hot In Here


Warning: This excerpt contains adult content. 18 and over only, please.

Chapter 1

Backstage, pacing, Scott Jackman heard the raunchy music swell, the crowd whoop and roar in appreciation. He groaned. What the fuck had he got himself into?

Who'd have guessed his lifelong ambition to be a firefighter would land him here? Yeah, he'd known that, as a rookie, he'd be the butt of a bunch of stupid jokes. But if he'd ever figured he'd have to boogie his own butt across a stage in front of hundreds of screaming women — not to mention a bunch of gay guys, the gang from good old Firehall 11, and his little sister — he might have . . .

Hell no. Whatever his parents might wish, he'd never been cut out for the farming life in Chilliwack.

He was a firefighter, through and through. And firefighters were tough. If he could risk his life in smoke and flames, he could bloody well get through three minutes on stage.

Scott had made the first cut in the competition, based on photos submitted by a couple hundred guys. He was one of twenty-four finalists for twelve firefighter calendar spots. If he didn't win a month, the guys at the firehall would never let him forget it.

Beyond the curtains, the last notes of music were swallowed up in a thunder of applause. Crap. The audience was voting with their hands, feet and voices, and it sounded like the guy on stage was sure to make the calendar.

The curtains parted and a panting, laughing man burst through. He'd gone out wearing full firefighter turnout gear and was back minus the helmet and jacket. His muscled upper body gleamed with oil and sweat, and he was hauling his turnout pants up over leopard-print briefs. A fire hose was slung over his shoulder.

God knows what he'd done with the hose on stage.

Whatever it was, the audience sure the hell had got off on it.

Shit, shit, shit. What had he been thinking, trusting his sister Lizzie to put together his act? Tap? Fucking tap dance? In front of an audience that clearly wanted raunch?

Was it too late to change his plan? There were still a few people ahead of him, he had time to work up a new routine.

Nah. Lizzie'd kill him. She'd put a lot of time into coaching him.

But the guys at the station would rib him to death if he made a fool of himself.

'Course, it wasn't like they didn't already.

The next competitor strutted toward the curtain, wearing turnout gear and — oh, great — carrying an axe. Music started up. This piece, too, had a hip-grinding rhythm.

Scott groaned again, then clapped the headphones of his iPod to his ears and cranked up the music Lizzie had chosen. He closed his eyes, settled into the beat, imagined the steps, riffs, the way his hips and arms would move to the music. The sultry notes of the sax began to heat his blood. Man, this kind of music always made him feel like sex.

Speaking of which . . . If he sold his number and made the cut for the calendar, there was a damned good chance he'd be going home tonight with one of those screaming firefighter groupies. Preferably one with a killer bod and long blond hair.

* * * * *

The other women were clapping but Jenny Yuen lifted her digital camera and snapped a final shot of the latest . . . Contender was the only word, the way the guy'd clasped his hands together over his head like a victorious wrestler. His body was a wrestler's too. Gross!

"Any guy with such overblown muscles has to have a tiny dick," she told her girlfriends. "That's why he brought an axe. It's his penis substitute."

The Caprice nightclub, packed with a few hundred very warm bodies, was a noise machine. Everyone was yelling and Jenny, at five foot nothing in her kitten-heeled pink sandals, had to scream even louder.

The club was set up with tiny tables, packed closely together. Jenny'd come early to make her case: a midget reporter doing a cover story needed a down-front vantage point to shoot photos. As a result, she'd scored a primo table for her and her best gal-pals, the Awesome Foursome.

"Isn't it balls that shrink from steroids?" Suzanne Brennan shouted back.

The cheers finally died down and the girls settled back in their seats.

"Yeah, it's testicles," Ann Montgomery said. A lawyer, she was a stickler for accuracy. "And a reduced sperm rate, and erectile dysfunction."

"Oh yeah?" Jenny said. "Could've sworn it was dicks."

"Doesn't exactly matter, does it?" Rina Goldberg was the fourth member of the Foursome. Her naturally soft voice had grown hoarse from all the screaming. She took a sip of her lemon drop martini. "The guy's not going to be much use to a woman, either way."

"True enough," Jenny said, as her mind flagged a possible story idea. Obviously there were a lot of misconceptions about the side-effects of steroids, and this was stuff young women — and men — needed to know. Like, if the people in this audience knew the truth, would any of them be cheering for Mr. Muscle-Bound? How could a guy be sexy, if unwrapping his package was going to lead to a major let-down?

She reached for her own chocolate martini. Man, was that great! Almost as good as sex — with a guy with a functioning package.

Better than sex with Pete, the guy she'd recently dumped. He'd functioned, but the sex had, after the first few times, turned out to be ho-hum.

Pete, from Korea, had been the latest in a string of taboo lovers she kept secret from her majorly old-fashioned family. For them, only Chinese guys rated as date-worthy.

For her — second generation Canadian and a thoroughly modern Jenny-race, culture and religion were irrelevant. She wanted a guy who was smart and sexy. And, while some of the family-approved Chinese guys had turned out to be stimulating conversationalists, not a single one had ever turned her crank.

And her crank was getting rusty from a month's disuse. Being in this room was both heaven and hell, for a sexually frustrated girl.

Because, no two ways about it, sexy was what tonight was all about. The people in this room were on a mission: to choose the men who would grace the next Greater Vancouver firefighters calendar. Civic pride was at stake. Vancouver simply had to have the hottest guys on their calendar. 

Besides, the hotter the guys, the more people who'd buy the calendar, and the more money raised for charities like the Burn Fund and Cancer Lodge.

Music began again, calling Jenny's attention back to the stage as the next competitor sauntered out. He was dressed in full turnout gear, the way most of the others had started out. When this one peeled off his helmet, she saw he had silver in his close-cropped hair. No question he was handsome, though. She snapped a shot.

"This is more like it," Ann said, leaning forward.

"Too old," Jenny shouted.

"Old enough to know how to handle his hose," Suzanne chimed in, and they all laughed.

The man was gyrating to a classic rock number with a sexy, throbbing beat. He peeled off his bulky jacket, revealing a white tank-top stretched over taut muscles.

"Oh yeah," Ann said. "No steroids here, and I bet this guy's package is fully functional." She fanned herself with her hand.

"What's this thing you've got for older men?" Jenny asked, clicking away busily.

"It's not age, it's about appreciating quality," Ann shot back.

Jenny studied the man. Nah. Had to be damn near forty. To a twenty-three-year-old like her, that was definitely old.

Still, she had to admit the silver fox was more attractive than the limp-dick steroid guy. And he did know how to move. Watching him, Jenny felt her whole body throb in time with the sexy beat. She pressed her thighs together, squeezing against the burn of arousal between them.

Okay, so maybe she wouldn't kick this fox out of bed just for having silver hair.

When he finished his number, she leaped to her feet and joined her friends in cheering loudly. "My vibrator's going to get a workout tonight," she shouted to her friends.

"I know exactly what you mean," Ann called back.

Then Jenny climbed up on her chair, tugged down her denim mini, and turned to take some crowd shots. The club was packed. Most of the women and some of the guys wore bright, fun clothing, and the lighting should make for interesting effects. Beyond the superficial, though, she hoped she was a skilled enough photographer to convey the throb of sexual energy in the air, the buzz of excited conversation, the musk of sweat and hundreds of different perfumes, colognes and assorted toiletries.

Young women had turned out in droves, but there were lots of men too. Funny to see the trendily-dressed West End gays shoulder to shoulder with burly dudes who could only be firefighters, come to cheer — or jeer — the competitors.

Music started up and she slipped back into her seat. Ooh, this was different. Same old, same old on the music, but this competitor had on a Zorro mask as well as the standard helmet.

A little shorter than most of the guys — a couple of inches under six feet? — and slender, this man sauntered slowly to center stage then began to move to the bump-and-grind music in a mesmerizing, hip-swaying motion. Hands went up, the helmet came off.

A head shake, and —

"Oh, my, God!" Jenny shrieked. "It's a woman!"


[con't from bottom left column]

Long, gleaming red hair tossed every which way.

"Whoo-hoo!" the crowd shrieked, with the women yelling variations of "Go, sister!" and the guys — the straight guys — beginning to chant, "Take it off!"

The woman on stage gave a wide, sultry smile as she made a sexy production of slipping off her turnout coat. Like the silver-haired guy, she was wearing a tank, but hers was hot pink, almost the same shade as the crop top Jenny was wearing.

"Wow," Rina said admiringly, "she's sure toned."

"Of course she is," Ann said. "Firefighters have to be strong, to drag people out of burning buildings. I love it, that women do that job."

"Gotta envy those boobs," Suze said. She, like Jenny, was barely a B in a good bra.

The performer, her nipples erect under the skin-tight top, was definitely a braless C.

Jenny clicked away, knowing one of these shots would make it into the Georgia Straight for sure. The woman peeled off her giant boots and baggy turnout pants to reveal black tights, slung low on her hip bones.

As she did, two men in navy firefighter uniforms toted something onto the stage then disappeared behind the curtain.

It was a pole, mounted on a platform.

"A fire pole," Jenny yelled. "Now, that beats an axe or a hose."

The audience howled approvingly, drowning her out.

The volume increased as the masked woman twisted and twined her way around the pole. Man, that looked sexy. Hmm. Hadn't Jenny heard that pole-dancing lessons were a new craze for bachelorette parties ?

Cool. Another story idea, and the research would be a blast.

The woman finished her act and the audience was on its feet, cheering, stomping the floor, wolf-whistling loud enough to burst eardrums.

"Good for her!" Ann yelled, clapping furiously. "She's definitely going to win a slot on the calendar. Gotta love how she busted the all-male stereotype."

The crowd was still applauding when the lights went off and the woman on stage was gone. Gradually the noise died down but the place was buzzing, even more energized than before.

"A tough act to follow," Suze commented.

"Yeah. Pity the next guy," Jenny said.

The stage remained dark.

"He chickened out," Rina said.

Music started up, but it wasn't the kind they'd been listening to all evening, with a pounding, fast-driving beat. Instead it was a single instrument, its voice somehow combining husky and pure. Was that a —

"Saxophone." Rina didn't have to yell, the room had gone so quiet that even her whisper carried. "Also known as sultry, sensual, seductive." A musician herself, she knew all about instruments.

"Sexy," Suzanne sighed on a slow breath of air.

"You can say that again," Jenny agreed as the music threaded through the still air. It was familiar, but she couldn't place it.

"Summertime," Rina said. "Gershwin. And a beautiful rendition. I think it might — "

She broke off as, after the first couple of bars, a light came on. Rather than the floodlights used in the previous acts, this was one blue spotlight, and the stage was . . . smoking. Twining through the air, the same way the music did.

"Dry ice?" Ann murmured. "Effective."

Into the smoky blue spot, walked a man clad in turnout gear. No hose, no axe, no props at all. He stood quietly, lifting his head as if the music was seeping through him. Then, with minimal movements he removed his helmet, turnout coat, then the boots and finally his pants.

The audience sighed and murmured.

No in-your-face undies on this guy, but his costume was even more appealing for being subtle.

He wore slim-fitting tuxedo pants, a black tux vest and a black bowtie. No shirt, just tanned arms with exactly the right amount of musculature.

"Take a picture!" Ann ordered.

Damn, Jenny'd been so caught up in watching, she hadn't taken a single shot. Hurriedly she lifted her camera and took a few full-body shots, then zoomed in on his face. Strong planes, vivid blue eyes, light brown hair with blond streaks that caught the light. Serious, not smiling or flirting with the audience as the others had done.

In fact, it was almost as if he was unaware of the audience. As if he was alone, listening to that sultry music as wisps of smoke curled up around him.

The saxophone climbed high, intense, and the man's head moved a little. Then his upper body, in time with the music. Then, finally, he stepped forward and began to dance.

To tap dance.

She'd never seen anything like it. His shoes were tap shoes, but this was no slick Gene Kelly American in Paris type of tap, nor was it the Celtic Riverdance style. It was slow, almost shuffly, bluesy. And very, very sexy.

She squeezed her thighs together. Way sexier than the silver-haired guy.

The man on stage would take a kind of scuffing step, hip thrusting forward and out, then do a kind of muffled drum-roll of taps, heel to toe. His posture was perfect, but graceful and fluid rather than stiff, and his arms moved sensually, in opposition to his legs. He made Jenny think of a tango dancer with an imaginary partner.

Tap, tango, blues . . . Whatever you called it, this was the sexiest dance ever invented.

"Is it hot in here?" she gasped, torn between staring, mesmerized, and taking pictures. Awesome pictures, what with the smoke, the blue light, and the man.

"That's amazing," Rina sighed. "Don't you just want to take him home?"

Take him home, for her own private dancer. Oh, yeah. No question about it.

Well okay, not home, where she lived with her old-school family. But somewhere, anywhere, where she could be alone with him and jump those beautiful bones.

A minute or two into the number, he slipped off the tux vest and tossed it casually on the pile of firefighter clothes.

There was only one word for his torso. No, two. Holy shit!

It was perfect. Firm pecs, a drift of damp hair plastered to his body, arrowing down a lean abdomen. Her fingers itched to touch him.

The tux pants shifted and clung as he moved, and Jenny zoomed in with her camera. Oh, man, he was getting turned on too.

Had she said beautiful bones? Try beautiful boner!

It wasn't just her fingers itching now.

She licked her lips. "Nothing dysfunctional about that guy's package," she told her friends.

She zoomed up to his face. His expression was intense, focused. Focused on the saxophone, or on his own arousal? Definitely not on the audience. It was as if he didn't see the hundreds of people whose attention he'd captured so completely. The crowd was silent now, but for an occasional whisper, the rustle of clothing, the clink of ice cubes.

It was as if none of them mattered to him.

Somehow, this man's bearing, his distance from his audience, was far more arousing than the in-your-face lewdness of the other guys who'd performed.


Her black silk thong was soaked and her pussy was throbbing with need.

"Mr. February," she announced to her friends. No question, the bluesy tap-dancer, the smoky saxophone guy, would win the most coveted slot.

"There's still six more to go," Suzanne murmured.

"Not relevant." Didn't Suze get it? No-one could top this man.

The music ended and the blue spotlight shut off, making the audience gasp. The dancer was gone.

But then the spot came back on, and he was standing quietly, hands clasped in front of him. Hiding his erection? For the first time he made eye contact with the audience, and they were yelling the roof off. He smiled — kinda cocky. Kinda . . . relieved? Definitely sexy.

Damn, he was hot.

She was trapped inside a body that was burning up with lust, and she knew just the firefighter who could rescue her.

Yeah, she wanted this guy. She wanted those hot, sweaty muscles, she wanted that supremely functional dick. She wanted him to concentrate as intensely on her as he had on the music, to be even more turned on, to move inside her the way he'd moved to that saxophone.