Protect Me (Rivers Edge Book 4)(7)

By: Lacey Black

I wake up at three o’clock in the afternoon to the steady beep of my pager. I snatch the device off of my nightstand and make a grab for my clothes. I always keep a pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt on the chair by my bed. It’s more convenient than rummaging around in the dead of night through my drawers and looking for clothes.

I slip on the jeans and shirt, socks and work boots on autopilot. I’ve done this so many times before, it’s second nature. I grab my keys and cell phone off of my dresser and head towards the Mustang.

I live in a decent sized three-bedroom older home in the heart of Rivers Edge. I bought it a couple of years back and have every intention of fixing it up and selling it for a profit. I’ve already redone the kitchen, complete with new cabinets, countertops, and flooring. The appliances are state of the art and the plumbing all new. It took me awhile to complete the project which is why I started with the most time-consuming part of the house. When you work twenty-four hours on/forty-eight off in a town thirty minutes away, plus volunteer for the local fire department, the time I can truly devote to the house comes in small increments.

I turn on the blue flashing light, throw the Mustang into reverse, and pull out of the driveway quickly. I head towards the small, local fire station with enough speed to get me there quickly, but not enough to put myself or anyone around me in danger.

I pull into the small parking lot adjacent to the building just as the doors are thrown open and my fellow firefighters climb onto the first of two rigs. I’m on the second one. It’s the large ladder truck that is used for most fire calls in Rivers Edge.

“What have we got?” I ask Dave, a lieutenant, who is climbing into his gear next to the ladder truck.

“Barn fire outside of town. The old Frazier farm. It’s going up quickly,” Dave reports.

I slide on my turnout gear and climb up into the truck. John is our designated driver. I station myself in the passenger seat next to him while four men sit anxiously in the back seats of the large truck. Moments later, we are pulling out of the bay and heading towards the Frazier farm.

I’ve been a volunteer fireman since I was eighteen and a senior in high school. It was always what I wanted to do. As soon as I graduated high school, I enrolled in the fire academy. Fighting fire is my first love. Okay, fine. My family is my first love, but fire fighting is a very close second. Women come right after that.

I have no desire to marry. Not because I don’t want to but because I don’t want to make her a widow before she should be. There are no guarantees in this job and the thought of kissing someone good-bye only to have her told that I’m never coming home makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve even considered having kids, but the thought of them waking up one day without a father doesn’t sit right either. That’s why I love my niece and nephews so fiercely. They replace the children I’ll probably never have.

Casual dating is my style. I enjoy treating a woman to a nice evening and seducing the hell out of her throughout the night. Touching. Eating. Smoldering glances. It’s all part of the art of seduction. I’ve had girlfriends. Plenty of girlfriends. I just make sure they know that the relationship won’t go further than casual dating. I’ve had a few try to change it. They get it in their heads that they’re the one to make me change my ways. They believe that they will come before firefighting. I have yet to meet a woman who actually makes me want to change the order though.

We roll up in front of the Frazier barn, which pulls me out of my trance. The small truck is already in place and ready to go. Ladders are extended, hoses are unraveled, and men approach my truck to receive their orders.

I go through the plan as quickly as possible and confirm that everyone knows their duties. When everyone acknowledges their understanding, we all set out to take down this fire.

It’s a long, grueling afternoon. It’s unbelievably hot under the intense August sun in full gear, fighting a blazing inferno, but when you do this day in and day out, you learn to cope with the heat and discomfort as long as you stay hydrated. The barn was pretty old; built by the original Fraziers who purchased the land in the early nineteen-twenties. All four horses were safely removed from the barn before it was completely engulfed, resulting in a total loss.

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