Ex-soldier Chris Wilson lost too many friends to war. Back home in Denver, he’s trying to make a difference as a paramedic, treating victims of crisis situations. Not even active combat could prepare Chris for the rush he gets when violence and tragedy collide, but the job isn’t the only thing making his heart race. His partner is his closest confidant from childhood, and the girl he remembers is now a strong, sensual woman . . . who needs him more than ever.
Sara Richards is more comfortable risking her life than asking for help. The petite blonde medic put a wall around her heart long ago, vowing to never let anyone hurt her again. Only now her long-buried secrets threaten to destroy everything she’s built. And though she should be able to trust Chris, his smoldering blue-gray eyes ignite desires that feel more dangerous than whatever’s lurking in the shadows. For once, Sara can’t go it alone. But Chris might just be stubborn enough to stand by her side as she faces down her worst nightmare.
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“Auto versus building at the 7-Eleven at 2341 East Colfax, driver unconscious, unknown medical, reported multiple injuries. Sending fire and medical.”
Chris stuffed the rest of a double bacon cheeseburger into his mouth, wadded up his trash and tossed it in the fast-food bag on the floor. He started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot and onto the street. His partner, Sara, grimaced as she snapped the lid closed on her salad.
“You’re going to kill yourself if you keep eating like that,” she told him.
“Thank God I know a paramedic who’ll save my life.” He flashed her a crooked grin. Death by cheeseburger wasn’t something he worried about. The whole time he’d been in Afghanistan, all he could think about was a juicy cheeseburger so big it would barely fit into his mouth, and now that he was back, he didn’t deny himself the pleasure.
“I’m not a miracle worker.” As she spoke, she reached for the radio in anticipation of the call.
“Then why the hell am I riding with you?” he teased.
“Ambulance 25, come back with location,” the dispatcher’s voice filled the cab.
“East 23rd and York and heading toward Colfax,” Sara said into the microphone.
“Need you on a code 10 at 2341 East Colfax, vehicle versus building, injuries unknown. Could be multiples.”
“Copy.” Sara hooked the microphone back on its clip and flipped the switches to turn on the lights and siren. A code 10 was considered an emergency call, which meant they needed to get there as fast as safely possible.
As usual, the drivers in front of them went through various stages of panic as they tried to get out of the way. Some moved right, some tried to merge into the outside lane, while still others simply stopped in the middle of the road. Chris skillfully maneuvered the ambulance through the urban labyrinth. Traffic was surprisingly heavy for eleven on a Wednesday night.
“Did the Rockies game run late?” he asked, driving up on the curb to get around a line of cars. As they approached the intersection, the Opticom sensor picked up the ambulance’s signal and switched the traffic light to green. Chris cautiously checked to make sure everyone in the opposing lanes was paying attention, then turned through the intersection and headed toward Colfax.
“Don’t know, but maybe that’s a good sign. They’ve been playing like Little Leaguers so far this year.” Sara kept a wary eye on the traffic, too. Tonight was Chris’s turn to drive, but that didn’t mean she would relax and let her guard down. As field instructor, she was the senior medic, so everything he did was her responsibility.
“Remember the video game Frogger?” he asked, crossing two lanes to get to an opening.
“Watch out for that car!”
Chris slammed on the brakes, stopping just inches from a black Camaro that had run the red light.
“Fucker,” Sara muttered.
“Language, girl,” Chris reprimanded with a smile. “Your mother would wash your mouth out for words like that.”
“Fuck you,” she snapped back. But even in the darkness of the cab, he could see the twinkle in her eyes. Their relationship went much farther back than the six months they had spent together in the cab of this ambulance.
Their families had been next-door neighbors for most of their childhood, although Sara was two years younger than the youngest Wilson boy. Back then, Chris thought she was an annoying little girl who followed them around the neighborhood. Now she was his boss.
Chris turned into an alley, pulled up next to the 7-Eleven and parked behind two police cruisers. A fire truck and two more police cars were in front of the building.
“Showtime!” Sara exclaimed as she unfastened her seat belt and exited the ambulance almost before it came to a complete stop. She opened the back doors, grabbed her medical kit and jogged toward the wrecked vehicle.
Chris jumped out the driver’s side, got the stretcher out of the back and hurried to catch up with her. For a short woman, she could really cover a lot of ground quickly. He saw his brother Sam standing next to a late-model Expedition that was stopped almost completely inside the store. Sara was kneeling on the ground and taking over CPR on the driver.
“What happened?” Chris asked.
Sam, who worked for the Denver Police Department, shook his head and answered with typical cop dark humor, “Probably in a hurry to pick up his beer . . . until he realized they didn’t have a drive-through.”
“Anyone hurt in there?”
“Looks like it. Fire department beat you here . . . again.”
“Yeah, well, they’re better drivers than medics. I’d better take over before they kill someone.” Chris ducked under the yellow tape that marked the boundaries of the scene and headed inside. He glanced at Sara, who was working on the driver. “Need any help?”
Before they had arrived, two firefighters had pulled the man out of his car and were administering CPR. “I’ll take this one,” she said as she ripped open a sterilized intubation packet. There were all sorts of injury-specific packages included in their kit, which made it easy to treat patients. “Check inside for patients.”
By the looks of the scene, the driver must have passed out or was in the throes of a heart attack when he pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. The big SUV had jumped the curb and plowed through a paneled plate-glass window, sending a shower of glass all over the store. He’d taken out a short brick wall and continued inside until a six-foot-tall shelf of soda and water bottles stopped his forward progress.
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