I didn’t look back as I rushed outside and all but darted into my car. Breathing heavy, I climbed in and hit the button for the engine. “Holy fuck. Shit. Damn.”
My heart was pounding as I pulled out of the parking lot, heading for the interstate. I kept repeating those words, over and over. Holy fuck. Shit. Damn. I clenched the steering wheel to stop my hands from shaking as I merged onto the highway. It was virtually empty, so fucking empty. I started to shift over to the other lane. Headlights suddenly appeared in the rearview mirror. My poor heart lurched as I jerked the steering wheel to the right.
Everything happened so fast.
My car veered sharply to the right, too sharp. I tried to overcorrect, and panicked, slamming my foot down. The car lurched and the back started to spin. Lights spun. I dragged in a breath to—
A thundering force stopped the car and lifted it up. Metal crunched and gave way. I was tossed forward and to the side, suspended for a moment. Something white exploded. Powder flew everywhere. The crunching kept coming, like giant jaws eating away. Lights burst behind my eyes and then there was nothing.
I stared at my phone, not paying attention to the hum of conversation buzzing around me. There was a game on the TV, and one of the guys was talking about some girl he’d met over the weekend.
I hadn’t heard from Andrea since we’d gotten back, and damn, it was taking every ounce of my willpower not to call her. The fact I had to fight it so hard sort of ticked me off, but I’d done a lot of thinking over the last three days, and that I had to resist calling her spoke volumes.
I cared about her—really cared about her.
What I felt for her went beyond what I’d felt for other girls that had been in my life. Even before the trip to the cabin, I looked forward to seeing her, to getting on each other’s nerves. To watch her cheeks flush with amusement and to hear her husky laugh. And now I wanted to feel her lips graze mine and to hear the soft sounds she made when I pleased her. To just be around her and have a thousand tomorrows with her.
These kinds of feelings had a name. I knew that. I didn’t know how long I’d felt this way or what woke me up to realize it, but none of that really mattered. Nothing was going to change that. It was just how I was wired internally. Once I felt something or made a decision, I stuck to it. The end.
And I’d made the decision to let Andrea come to me. As much as it killed me, I was sticking to it. There was something going on with her and I had a feeling it didn’t have anything to do with the anxiety attack she’d had. I wanted to be there for her, but she had to let me be there. I couldn’t force it. Shit never turned out well when you did it that way.
But the shit she’d said, about her not being worth it? It made it so damn hard to stay away, because how in the hell would I prove to her that she was very much worth it by staying away from her?
My head snapped up. Daniels was standing a few feet from me, arms crossed over the gray company shirt. “What?”
“Just making sure you’re alive over there.” He grinned. “You’ve been staring at your phone like it’s the hottest chick in this city.”
I rolled my eyes as I slipped my phone into my pocket and then sat back, stretching out my legs. “The phone’s more interesting than anything you’ve got to say.”
Daniels laughed. “You wound me, man. Freaking wound—”
Static crackled across the speakers a second before dispatch’s voice echoed through the fire hall. “Single motor vehicle accident with possible entrapment. EMT en route. Company 10 responding. Company 70 on standby.” The voice rattled off the location of the MVA. I stiffened.
The TV muted and conversation lulled. Our company had moved to standby. If they were going to call out more than one company, the accident had left a mess behind. Company 10 was obviously going to handle the entrapment. We’d cover traffic if necessary.
“Shit,” muttered Daniels as he dropped into the seat beside mine. “I hate accidents with entrapment.”
Very rarely did an accident involving entrapment end with the person walking out on their own two legs.
I nodded as another guy roamed into the room, pulling up his turnouts. I already had mine on. All on duty moved out to the truck and waited for further instructions. We were ready to roll out if dispatch moved us out of standby. The room was relatively silent as we waited to hear more. A handful of minutes passed.
“Entrapment confirmed. Company 10 is beginning extraction methods,” Dispatch announced, the voice monotone. “EMS on scene. Patient is unresponsive. Medevac 1 on standby. Company 70 remain on standby.”
Shit. I scrubbed my hand across my jaw. Calling on an air ambulance to move to standby wasn’t uncommon if there was entrapment, if the patient was unresponsive, and if they couldn’t get to the patient to assess the full extent of the injuries.
I exchanged a look with Daniels, and figured he was remembering the last extraction we’d done. It had been a kid and that call…yeah, that call hadn’t ended well. No one had walked away from it.
“Patient is out of vehicle…Priority 1.”
“Fuck,” I said, closing my eyes. Priority 1 meant there was basically a heartbeat, one code above Priority 0, which in other words, was a DRT—Dead Right There.
Another voice crackled out and then dispatch confirmed, “Patient is Priority 1. EMT on scene have stabilized for transport. Medevac 1 off standby.”