Home > Holding His Forever(4)

Holding His Forever(4)
Author: Alexa Riley

I look over at him and see his cheeks turn a little pink as the other guys give him shit. It’s been a long time since I had a woman, but that’s not anyone’s business. I think about holding a woman in my arms and making love, but it’s always followed by the “what ifs.” If I had someone, then I’d have something to lose, and with my job, so would they. If I was in love and had a family, what would happen if one day I didn’t come home? The pain of those thoughts is enough to have me pulling back from any woman who’s tried to do more than say hello to me. I know it’s a part of the job, and it’s a fear we all have. But at least this is one thing I can control.

5

Phoenix

When the alarm sounds, I’m in motion. I’ve been doing this so long I don’t even have to think. My body just goes. Everyone’s hauling ass out of bed, doing the same routine we’ve done hundreds of times. It’s just ingrained deep into us. Not until I’m on the back of the truck do I really start using my head, thinking about what we might be going into. The adrenalin pumps through me, racing through my body. It’s the only thing I seem to feel anymore. Almost like a small high that brings me to life for just a moment in time. A rush of something that isn’t laced with grief and death. That is, until I stop moving and remember where I’m heading. That lives depend on me. Not just the ones I’m racing to, but the ones following me into fire.

We haven’t had a call all day or night, and we already know this one is a live fire. This isn’t just a response, someone having smacked their car into someone else, or even someone having a heart attack. We are always first on scene, but this time we know. We’re going into danger. I smell the smoke before I see the fire lighting up the sky as we take the sharp turn around the corner.

“I smell gas,” I say into my headset. Arson. “Eyes open.” I scan the street as the fire truck comes to a stop in front of the old Laundromat that sits on the corner, only one other building connecting to it. I check if anything looks out of place, but the street is already starting to fill with people wanting to know what’s going on.

“We got rentals,” I bark into my mic, taking in the windows above the Laundromat as I drop from the truck. “Gordon and Nick, take the connecting building to the right.” I scan the windows of the Laundromat, thankful that it’s closed. “Rich, see if you can check the ground floor. It looks closed,” I order as I head for the door that leads to the rentals above.

“I’m guessing two apartments, Phoenix,” Mitch says into my ear.

“I’ll take the second door. You take the first,” I say in agreement as he follows me to the door leading up to the apartments upstairs. We don’t hesitate, knowing the ground door will be locked. We both kick in unison, and the door easily gives way as I follow the shattered wood in and up the stairs with Mitch hot on my ass. The smoke hits us hard. When I reach the top floor, I head for the second door. I hear Mitch bust into the first room. I look up and see a woman stumbling out of the apartment I was just about to enter.

Her blonde hair falls all around her, looking like a halo. The smoke eats up my vision of her, and for just a moment I think she’s an angel. The light on my helmet hits her face, and it’s as if her ice-blue eyes look right through me. It’s like a punch to my system, knocking the air out of my lungs, making me think I’ve finally lost it.

Then she’s falling.

I dive to catch her, making sure my body hits the hard floor and not hers. Turning quickly, I have us both back on my feet, with her cradled in my arms.

“There anyone else in there with you?” I yell as loud as I can through the mask. Her eyes flutter open, and her mouth barely moves, but I easily read the “no.”

The echoes of the word “clear” sound in my headset, letting me know the building has been searched. I carry the woman in my arms as I head down the stairs, and Mitch follows me.

“Got one. We’ll need an ambulance,” I bark out.

“One’s here,” someone shouts back, and I see it when I hit the bottom of the stairs. I keep running towards it, reluctant to hand her over to the EMT, who has his arms open for her. I don’t want to hand her over, but I do. Once she’s out of my arms, I rip off my mask and turn to Mitch.

“Fire’s out,” he informs me.

“Run a second search.” I turn back and look down at the blonde angel, whose eyes are wide open now. She’s staring right at me while the EMT tries to put a mask on her, but she keeps trying to push it away. Clear confusion is all over her face. She looks lost and confused, a feeling I know all too well.

I strip off my coat and part of my gear, dropping it between the ambulance and the fire truck. Her hand reaches out to me, like she thinks I’m leaving. I’m not sure I could, even if Mitch tried to pull me away. Something about her. She needs me. I tell myself that’s what’s happening, but a voice deeper inside me tells me that’s a lie. I need her.

“Ma’am, you need to put the mask on,” I hear the EMT tell her, but she keeps trying to push it away with her other hand, the other one still reaching for me. “I’m going with her,” I throw over my shoulder to Mitch.

“Sir,” he says. I turn and cut him off with a look.

“Take my shit.” I drop a few more things down onto my coat. I’m going. The building is clear, and the fire is out.

He just nods and does as he’s told. “You got this,” I tell him, because he does. He nods again and heads back to the truck. I turn and grab her hand.

   
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