For the next several days I’ll be doing a FREE READ of one chapter of each of my books. First up is the first of my firemen/paramedic novellas – Burnin’ for You. Keep reading to get to know Lucas and Evan….
Lucas’s next shift was two days later, following Station 127’s “24-hour-on / 48-hour-off” shift schedule. He’d thought being away from Evan for those two days would help, that he could get a handle on his feelings for the other man and push them away, bury them deep and get on with his life.
But his efforts were in vain, with Evan invading his thoughts more than once throughout those two days, at night especially as he lay in his bed, helpless to stop the dreams that replayed last Saturday and Sunday.
So instead of walking into the station for his next shift with a clear head, able to look Evan in the eye, confident in his decision to end things between them before they really had a chance to get started, he instead did his best to once again avoid the young medic.
It was just after lunch, and Lucas had retreated to the common room with almost everyone else, settling himself into one of the chairs, textbook in hand, studying. Daniel and Tom started up a rousing game of foosball while Jeff and Evan turned on the TV and flipped through various sections of the newspaper.
“Hey, Luke, how’re your classes goin’?” Jeff asked.
“Kinda tough, Cap,” Lucas admitted. “Got a test tomorrow.”
“You should let Evan quiz you,” Jeff suggested, and both Lucas and Evan’s heads shot up.
Jeff looked over at Evan. “Luke’s studying to be a paramedic,” he explained.
Evan’s eyes widened and he turned to Lucas. “You’ve got your EMT certification?”
“Yep. Got it last year,” Lucas answered.
“So that’s why you were helping out at the accident the other day,” Evan said and Lucas nodded in response.
“Why don’t you two go use my office? It’s quieter in there,” Jeff told them.
“I’m good, Cap, really,” Lucas said quickly. “And besides, Alix has been helping me out.”
“She’s down inventorying the supplies in the bus,” Jeff replied. “Now go on and get in there with Evan.”
Lucas’s jaw muscle twitched, knowing there was nothing else he could say, no good reason he could give why he didn’t want to be alone with Evan. So all he could do was nod. “Sure, Cap,” he finally said, standing, as Evan did the same.
“Do you need to do any practicals?” Evan asked.
“Yeah, ET tube.”
“Okay, I’ll get my bag and you get the dummy.”
They were both back upstairs a few minutes later, walking into
Jeff’s office, shutting the door behind them. Immediately a strained, awkward silence descended upon the room as they sat down at the small table.
“So…” Evan started after a few long moments passed. “Why do you want to be a paramedic?”
Lucas shrugged. “Same reason as you, I guess. Being a fireman is great and I love it; I just want to do more. Help people more, you know? I got a taste of it doing my ride-a-longs for my EMT certification and I know that it’s what I really wanna do.”
Evan nodded, smiling. “It really is an amazing feeling, isn’t it? Knowing you’re helping to save someone’s life.”
Lucas couldn’t help but return the smile. “Yeah. Scary, though, too.”
Evan sobered. “Yeah, sometimes you can’t save everyone.”
“You’ve lost someone?”
“A few,” Evan replied. “It never gets any easier.”
Silence reigned for a beat until Lucas spoke again. “You, uh…you were really good with that little girl last shift. The car accident.”
Evan chuckled. “Thanks. Some say it’s because I’m not that far removed in age myself.” Lucas smiled as Evan continued. “So…we’d better get to work before we get another run, eh?”
“Yeah, good idea,” Lucas replied, sliding his textbook across the table. “The test is on chapters five and six.”
Evan quizzed Lucas for the next twenty minutes with Lucas feeling more and more relaxed around Evan, but at the same time his heart ached because he could never have more with him than the tentative friendship he felt they were just starting to form.
Evan shut the textbook and leaned back in the chair. “Great job, man. You really know this stuff.”
Lucas gave him a small smile at the praise. “Thanks. And umm, thanks for taking the time to do this with me.”
“No problem. Ready to do the practical?”
“Yeah, sure,” Lucas replied, retrieving the dummy and laying it on the table as Evan opened up his medic bag and pulled out the ET tube.
Lucas positioned himself at the head of the dummy, looking straight down into its face and Evan handed him the required equipment.
“Now show me your mad intubation skills,” Evan smirked, and Lucas shook his head, then turned serious, looking back down at the dummy, bending over slightly.
Evan shifted, standing half next to and half behind Lucas, looking over his shoulder to observe Lucas’s technique. Lucas could feel Evan’s soft breath next to his face and it immediately unnerved him, having Evan this close to him.
Distracted by Evan’s close presence, Lucas wasn’t able to do the procedure correctly and Evan stopped him.
“No, like this,” Evan started to explain, voice low in Lucas’s ear. He raised his large hands up, sliding them slowly down Lucas’s forearms, stopping at the wrist, and Lucas couldn’t stop the shiver at Evan’s actions, his body starting to react to the younger man.
Evan guided Lucas’s hands, moving the ET tube into the correct position, moving closer to Lucas, his legs now touching the backs of Lucas’s. “You’ve got to visualize the vocal cords,” Evan told Lucas, his voice another low rumble next to Lucas’s ear. “And then…insert it…just like that…” he finished in a rough whisper.
And then Lucas couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe, when Evan dropped his hands to Lucas’s waist, squeezing slightly, bringing their bodies into closer contact. Lucas swallowed, knowing what Evan was doing, and he turned his head to tell him no.
“Why are you fighting this?” Evan whispered, warm breath on Lucas’s face an instant before Evan’s lips brushed Lucas’s own.
Deep down Lucas couldn’t deny that he wanted this, wanted Evan, until the remembered pain of losing Ryan flooded through him at the touch of Evan’s lips. And he pushed away, Evan stumbling backwards.
He practically ran from Jeff’s office, throwing open the door, startling Tom, sitting on the couch, the only one left in the common room. He saw Tom’s brow furrow, heard Evan calling his name, but he didn’t stop, striding over to the fire pole and sliding down.
His breath hitching in his chest, Lucas walked out of the front of the station into the sunshine and in one fluid move, turned and slammed his fist into the bay door.
Later the next night, Lucas was still nursing sore knuckles as he sat in his living room, beer in hand, watching the rain fall outside, thinking about everything and nothing, wishing it was more of the latter.
A knock at his door roused him from his musings and he set his beer aside, rising to answer it – and was startled to see Evan standing on the other side when he opened it.
“How did you know – ?”
“Tom told me where you lived. Can I come in?”
Lucas blew out a breath, hesitating, before reluctantly letting Evan inside.
“What do you want, Evan?” Lucas asked wearily, shutting the door.
Evan turned toward him, looking unsure, running a hand through his rain damp hair. “Who’s Ryan?” he finally asked, quietly. “Tom said I needed to ask you about him. That it would explain things.”
Taken aback by the unexpected question, Lucas could only stare at Evan for a long moment. An internal decision made, that it was time Evan did know, so he’d stop pursuing him, Lucas walked past Evan and picked up a photograph from the end table.
He stared at Ryan’s smiling face for a long time before walking over to the window, looking out at the rain, his back to Evan.
“Ryan and I – we loved each other,” Lucas started, still not looking at Evan, voice low. “We were together for almost three years. He worked at the station, on the engine with me. Things were great, they were perfect. He moved in with me here six months before – before it happened.” Lucas paused, taking a deep breath.
“We got a call for a warehouse fire this time last year,” Lucas continued. “Three alarm, close by the station; we were the first company there. Ryan and I were each on an inch and a half hose, Ryan in the lead. We were pretty deep inside the building when my air tank alarm went off. Someone had screwed up that afternoon and hadn’t checked them. The other companies hadn’t gotten there yet and I didn’t want to leave Ryan alone.” Again Lucas paused, swallowing past the lump in his throat and felt the first, silent tear slip free.
“But Ryan was yelling at me, that I wouldn’t be any good if I couldn’t breathe and to get out,” Lucas went on, his voice breaking. “I had just cleared the doors when the explosion tore the building apart. I felt the heat on my back before I was lifted up off my feet and thrown 20 feet. I tried to get back in the building, but the guys held me back.” Lucas’s throat worked convulsively. “Ryan was gone and there was nothing I could do,” he finished, pain and loss coloring every word.
He turned now to face Evan, not bothering to wipe away his tear tracks. “I can’t put myself through that again, Evan. What we do, it’s too fucking dangerous. I learned that the hard way, and I will NEVER go through that again. Losing Ryan, it damn near killed me. So please, just let this go,” he pleaded. “I won’t let myself fall for you. I can’t.”
“Lucas – “ Evan took a step forward, his own eyes bright with moisture.
Lucas shook his head. “No. Please, Evan, just go. Please.”
The only sound in the apartment was the rain hitting the window as the two men regarded each other silently, hurt and pain radiating off of one, sympathy and compassion from the other, until Evan turned and wordlessly left Lucas alone in his apartment, holding Ryan’s photo to his chest.
CONTINUED IN BURNIN’ FOR YOU….