Teaser Tuesday – Meet Rio Donovan!
The familiar summer anthem of the smoke jumpers exploded through his head. Adrenaline flooded Rio Donovan’s body as he anticipated the exhilaration of dropping through the air as he threw himself out of the DC-3’s cabin and streaked towards Rail Mountain. His pulse beat a drumbeat of anticipation against his skin. Sixty seconds and two thousand feet.
God, he loved his job.
The plane pulled away with a roar, only half-drowning the whoops of his boys jumping out of the cabin behind him. Rio Donovan shot a sideways glance at his jump partner, angling his body away from hers. Christ, she was a cool customer. She watched the ground rushing up to meet them without so much as cracking a smile. He’d bet she’d already cataloged the burn area and mentally marked a half-dozen hot spots she’d rush to knock down as soon as they were on the ground. Gia Jackson was good. There was no doubt about that. She’d earned her place on Strong’s jump team. So he had absolutely no business noticing how the jump harness separated her breasts into two teasing mounds. She was one of his boys too and… not going there. Fifteen hundred feet to the ground and his next job. Focus, Donovan.
The forest fire beneath belched a big ass plume of dark smoke on his right, the sideways drift half-obscuring the small speck of burned over meadow he was aiming for. The drift streamers had to be down there somewhere, the red ribbons an X-marks-the-spot he wouldn’t see for at least another thousand feet. The meadow swung crazily as the wind buffets him hard, twisting him in a circle before he got the spin under control and his boots down because he needed to get horizontal, fast. Feet first, straight up-and-down. A holler tore from his throat. Fuck, yeah. This was living.
Straightening his legs, he dropped below Gia. He weighed more than she did and he’d bet it killed her that he’d make the LZ first. He loved how competitive she was. Beating her was fun.
Still mentally counting down, he tightened his grip on the rip cord.
And yanked hard.
And nothing. Not a goddamned thing. The lines tangled around the drag chute, turning his backup into a mess of flapping nylon and rope. Cursing, he took his eyes off the ground rushing up to meet him and eyeballed the chute. The lines were tangled. That was okay, he thought, his hands already reaching for the utility knife strapped to his thigh. Cut it away and pull the reserve chute. Plenty of time. Still, he didn’t waste any seconds, sawing the sharp edge hard and fast through the mess of ropes, because panicking was a luxury he couldn’t afford. Every second closed the distance between himself and the ground and dying hadn’t been part of his plans for today.