Authors: Gina Austin
By Gina Austin
© 2012 Gina Austin
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including scanning, photocopying, or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
This book is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Printed in the United States of America
For firefighters around the world.
Table of Contents
Once Nick Gates heard there was a child still trapped in that inferno, he immediately turned around and gave the order to his rookie firefighting partner.
“Forget about the ladder and don’t follow me in! If I don’t get in there now, that kid is going to die.”
Nick’s younger brother, Mike recognized the look his brother had given him. That look that said, “Don’t try to stop me.”
Meanwhile all Mike could do was think how crazy it was for his brother to be taking yet another gamble with his life. Nick was 33 years old and had been fighting Chicago fires for 10 years. Mike was 28 and had only been with Engine Company 43 for 6 months. Regardless Mike was the new rookie at the fire station; he knew his older brother was making a bad decision. Captain Miller wasn't going to be happy when he found out Nick broke department rules again.
Nick quickly put his air mask back on and charged back into the old prewar six story building. He was only going to the third-floor after all. Nick’s concern was that several of the ceilings in the 6
floor apartments were beginning to cave in due to the intense blaze. He had to eliminate that thought from his mind since he had a kid to save and couldn’t imagine a young child being burned alive.
Rapidly heading up the old buildings staircase, Nick had to feel his way up towards the 3
floor due to the fact that everything he can see through his mask was black with smoke. Confident that he wouldn’t fall thru one of the staircase steps because these older buildings had stone steps with wrought iron stair railings. He would’ve gone up the fire escape except none of the guys from his ladder company came down that way and the 2
floor apartment fire escape ladder was still hooked.
Arriving at the third floor, Nick began his rapid search for five year old Maria from Apartment 3C. Only reason Nick knew she was there was because a neighbor mentioned that Maria’s mother would leave the little girl alone many times throughout the day.
Kid should’ve been in summer day camp.
Suppressing the judgmental thought, he refocused on making sure he found Maria. Regardless of the little girl’s circumstances, he still wanted her to have a chance at life.
“Maria, Maria where are you? Maria… Maria” yelled Nick.
Nick continued to feel his way through every part of the apartment. He checked every closet, every room, and every bed except the last room at the end of the hallway.
“She’s got to be in there,” he hoped.
The scorching flames had blown out the windows in this room. Since it was facing the street, this gave Nick some sunlight to work with, which cleared his vision considerably. Thankfully the windows also led to the fire escape.
“That’s my exit” Nick thought.
“Maria are you here? Maria?” Still no answer.
Please be in here little one. Holding his breath in anticipation, he opened up the last closet door in the apartment.
“Thank God I found you.” Thrilled for a second, Nick began to worry.
Maria was unconscious but hadn’t suffered any burns from what Nick could see. As soon as Nick stepped out into the fire escape one of his teammates was already there waiting for him with the fire trucks aerial ladder. Nick handed Maria over to his fellow firefighter, Troy and he laid Maria down in the basket so he can operate the aerial ladders controls to lower them both to safety. Not having enough room in the basket, Nick made his way down the fire escape. Emergency medical service techs were already checking Maria’s vitals by the time Nick got down to street level. Rushing over to the ambulance he asked, “Is she alive?”
Watching the ambulance techs eyes hoping he’ll give him the answer he wants to hear.
“She’s alive. Severe smoke inhalation but she’s got a stable pulse. Taking her over to St. Joseph’s Hospital ASAP,” replied the EMS Tech.
Nick’s heart jumped for joy at the sound of that news. He looked down at Maria and thought, I’m glad I found you little one.
Once Nick turned around, the happiness his face expressed faded to concern. The captain, standing about 12 feet away, stared at Nick. The captain didn’t move a muscle.
“I’m in for it. He’s pissed!” Nick said to himself as he walked over to Captain Miller.
The captain reminded Nick of Lieutenant Horatio Caine from the CBS series hit CSI: Miami. Now in front of Captain Miller and choosing his next words carefully said, “She’s going to make it captain,” referring to Maria.
Captain Miller nodded in acknowledgment but continued staring at Nick for a few more seconds before responding, “Glad to hear it. When we get back to the fire house, we’ll talk privately.”
Nick translated the captain’s statement meaning “you and I are going to have a serious conversation and you’re not going to like it”. Captain Miller walked away from Nick.
“I pushed it too far for the captain this time. Yeah, I’m in trouble.”
“Susan, do you plan on turning that thing off at any point tonight? Between dinner and now you must’ve looked at your iPhone about 30 times!” said Liz with an annoyed look on her face.”
“As soon as the first movie trailer comes on I’ll promise to turn it off,” replied Susan. “I also promise not to run out in the middle of the movie unless I have to go to the bathroom. It’s not often that we have girl’s night out like we used to.”
After six weeks, Susan and I finally agreed it was too long since we spent any quality time together. We had just finished having a fabulous Italian dinner at Santino’s and we were now waiting to see the film