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Thursday, April 4, 2013

First Chapter of Love Without Borders

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Chapter One


Jason shrieked as Tom yanked his arm, causing him to tumble across Tom’s legs. The rest of the firemen jeered and cheered while Tom popped him on the ass twice.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He struggled against Tom’s hold for a second, all the while laughing, his ribs still aching from the earlier exertion. The guys made catcalls in good fun. Tom delivered another strike and heat flashed over Jason’s entire body.

“Think you’re a superhero. We’ll bring you back to earth, rookie boy,” Tom growled. “Don’t get too big for your britches, son, because we can always do this the next time you get cocky.”

The station erupted into hoots of laughter. Tom whacked him one last time then let him up. It felt as though a volcano had erupted and lava flowed over Jason’s chest and face. He knew the blush on his cheeks would match his fiery red hair. The guys teased him, calling out and laughing, a few even coming in to give him a hug and pinch on the ass. Their reaction was normal for what he’d done. Actually, all the attention felt good—at least, a little good, even though they were beating his butt.

“Enough already!” Jason shouted. He pushed the last of the well-wishers and gropers away.

“Hey, buddy, it’s a big deal,” his captain, Mike, hollered out. “You saved three peoples’ lives today. Tomorrow night, we’re going to meet at the Dog and raise a glass. Six, tomorrow night, at the Dog—and everyone chips in to pay for Jason’s meal.”

More cuffs were delivered to his back while kind words filled his ears. He’d been here almost a year, but was still a rookie in everyone’s eyes, and tonight he’d outshone them all. Goodnights were said, lights turned off and before long he found himself alone in the dim kitchen, staring at the sink full of dirty dishes they’d tossed in when the call had gone out.

Fuck, what a call.

Jason gulped in a lungful of air, his throat squeezing shut. Thoughts of the girl and her mother trapped in that car raced through his mind. Then he’d seen the brother…

Jason picked up a plate and began rinsing, cleaning the dishes as he went over the call in his mind. Fire had teased out from under the hood, and he knew he didn’t have time to save them all. He’d prioritised—making up a plan—then everything had been shot to hell. The baby in the backseat had changed everything. He hadn’t wanted the family to die. Not that they were so much more special than any other family he’d worked to save, but when the little baby had stared up at him, he’d almost lost his composure.

Somehow he’d risen to the task and saved them all. He’d fitted the collar on the woman, put a small one on the little girl then grabbed the baby carrier. God, how the fuck had he saved all three? The other guys had been busy with the people on the bus, and he’d gone to check out the car in the ravine. The thing was—the car had looked like it had been in the ravine for a long time. Rusted trunk, dents all over the body—the only clue had been the tracks halfway down the hill.

Damn and double damn, he needed a drink, but he was on the job.

The clock ticked slowly for the rest of the evening as the adrenaline wore off. He watched part of a movie with the two other guys who couldn’t sleep, then headed up to bed, but sleep evaded him. Eventually, he came back to the kitchen and started the coffee—no way he’d fall asleep now with morning upon them.

A light rap on the back door startled him. He bolted up and stared at the door for a few beats before shuffling over to peer out of the window. The sight of one of the doctors from Mercy General—to be specific, Doctor David Blankenship—made his heart race. David smiled at him and Jason pulled open the door.

“Doctor Blankenship, what’s up?”

“Hi, Jason, I came by to talk to you about the people you rescued tonight.”

Jason’s heart flopped and his stomach twisted. “Something wrong?”

“No…hey, is that fresh coffee I smell?”

“Yes, sir—doctor, sir. Would you like a cup?” Heat filled Jason. He’d had so many dreams about this man, he didn’t know how to act around him when they weren’t at the hospital with the distractions of glaring lights and loud equipment beeping in the background. Here in the kitchen of the firehouse with the lights turned low, he wanted to touch the man, experience his embrace, and maybe even steal a few kisses.

The doctor smiled. “Thanks, and call me David.”

“Okay. Cream and sugar?”

“No, that’s okay, just black. Didn’t have time when I was interning to add cream or sugar, so I got used to drinking my coffee black. Old habits are hard to break.”

Jason moved to the counter to pour up the brew and David followed, sliding close to Jason, his butt resting against the countertop. “What you did today… Amazing.”

“Um, thanks.” His face flamed. He wished his skin would tan so he could hide his stupid blush.

David’s gaze stayed on Jason, drilling into him. Something swirled between them that felt like attraction to Jason, but was probably the late hour and little sleep. Add to that the aftereffects of saving someone, and he was tied in knots. Any lust he thought he felt coming from David was exhaustion, not mutual attraction. The events of the day had all conspired to make Jason sense something that wasn’t there. The doctor would probably be appalled at what he was thinking.

“Listen, there’s this charity I work with and they have an open spot on one of the trips. It’s not glamorous—messy and dirty, actually. I need to pick someone to go with us—not necessarily a doctor, there’s plenty of those on this trip, but someone who thinks fast. You think fast.”

“Wow, thanks.” Jason’s body tingled at David’s compliments.

David took a sip of his coffee, his eyes half hooded as he stared at Jason. The heat in his gaze turned Jason’s insides to mush. He needed to get a grip on his attraction to this man. It wouldn’t be fair to the guy to get a hard-on over him. Doctor Blankenship was a professional and deserved Jason’s respect.

David set down his cup and drew in a deep breath. “I want you to go with me. It’s to Central America. Two weeks. Do you have a passport?”

“What?”

“Please say you’ll come. I was going to ask one of the nurses, but really, I think you would round out our team.”

“You don’t even know me,” Jason countered.

“Sure I do. I’ve worked at Mercy for ten years. During that time I’ve seen so many paramedics come through, and I know what they work like. I’ve been in the ER multiple times when you’ve brought in patients. What I’ve noticed is, you’re different. How you talk to the people—it shows compassion. You do understand not all paramedics are like you? You’re special. I see it every time you come into my ER.”

Jason swallowed over the lump in his throat. His head buzzed, leaving him a little dizzy, and he wanted to throw up for a moment. Doctor David Blankenship had been watching him. “I’m flattered, but I’m not sure why you picked me. And in two weeks… There’s no way. I can’t get a plane ticket, and how much is the trip going to cost? It’s a charity organisation, right, so I know I’ll have to pay my way.”

“Actually, the nurse who was going to go fell ill—cancer.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, he was really sick and didn’t have any idea. But he passed away and his family wants to donate the trip to someone. Someone who makes a difference in the world.”

Jason stared at David, not knowing what to say. Someone could cover his shifts. They were always trading off, switching assignments and pulling doubles when a co-worker needed time off. A couple of the guys had wives who were pregnant and expecting in a few months, and he’d be able to make up the hours so his paycheque wouldn’t suffer too much. He had set aside some money for a rainy-day fund so his bills would get paid until he made up the work…but two weeks with David. That scared the crap out of him.

“I’ve given you a lot to think about,” David said, interrupting his thoughts, “but I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t think you would be perfect for the position. Think about coming. It’s dirty, messy work and you won’t have nice accommodations, maybe a blanket on a cot, but this will be a trip you never forget. Let me give you my number and please call, day or night, when you make the decision. And I need your decision soon.”

Jason took a sip of his coffee, mulling over the trip. “How soon will you need to know?”

“Tomorrow at three.”

With his coffee mug almost at his lips, Jason stalled. If he’d taken a drink he knew he’d be sputtering out the liquid. “Sorry, what?”

“I need to know by three because if you say no, I need to work fast to get someone else to fill the spot.”

There wasn’t any question in his mind whether he wanted to go—he did. The only question was—could he actually get the time off?

David took another sip and put his mug down as he pushed away from the counter.

Jason reached out and grabbed onto his arm. “Wait.”

Their eyes met and a flash of heat shot through Jason, stealing his breath.

David held his gaze for a long moment until his eyes slid south to Jason’s lips. There had been times when Jason had wished he had the balls to reach out and take David in his arms, bend him backwards over the kitchen counter and kiss him until he swooned. But Jason had never been like that. The most ‘out there’ thing he’d done was say hi to a guy he liked and his words had come out as a whisper. So, really, he was a dud when it came to picking up guys. Then there was the fucking blush that lit him up like a flame each time he got the least bit embarrassed.

Jason dropped his hold on David’s arm and stepped back. “I want to go. Let me clear the time off with my captain. He’ll be up around six and I’ll talk to him before I leave for the day. What’s your number?”

David rattled off his number and Jason entered the digits into his phone.

“Jason, I know most of your shots are up to date because of your job, but you probably need to check for the area we’re going to and make sure you don’t need any other vaccines.”

“Where exactly are we going?”

“Guatemala.”

“Wow. I’m sure I’ll have to get some sort of shots.” Panic raced through Jason. He wondered if he should say anything about his attraction or not, but then David jangled the keys in his pocket and the moment was lost.

“So, there’s an informational meeting on Thursday. You’ll need to be at the meeting.”

Jason counted out the days—he’d be off on Thursday. “Sure, I’ll be there.”

“Good, I’ll send you the information. See you then.” David tossed a smile over his shoulder as he walked out.

After turning the lock behind David, Jason leaned against the door and slid to the floor. He’d always wanted to travel with one of the charity organisations doing medical work. The timing was perfect, and he had his passport in order because of the trip to the Bahamas he’d taken last year. This opportunity went way beyond his wildest dreams, and was too good to pass up. But what really blew his mind was that David had been watching him. Since he’d started working for Miami Dade Fire and Rescue, he’d wondered about the doctor, but never dreamt they’d get the chance to be more than just two people who passed patients between them. Now he’d be with the man for two weeks. He wouldn’t hope for more than a friendship, because any great relationship always started with friendship, at least that was what his mom always told him.

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