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Broken Love Story (Love 3) Natasha Madison 2022/8/3 13:53:25

“Twenty minutes, guys,” I say, flipping the flapjacks that I’m making. I’m on my fourth shift of six at the firehouse station, and my duty this week is cooking. I fucking hate it, especially the lunch duty.

However, since we got a call early, we missed breakfast, so I’m doing the easiest thing. Half the guys sit at the wooden table drinking coffee while the other half either lounge on the couch or sit outside in the nice sunny weather.

“Did you guys hear that Squad 47 got a DOA?” asks Ricky, the firehouse chief, coming into the room.

“Tough,” one of the guys says. “Never a good fucking day when you have a DOA,” Colin says, turning the page to the newspaper he’s reading. I nod my head in agreement.

I look at Wyatt. “Is the bacon almost done?” I ask him. “This is the last flapjack.”

“Be done in a second,” he says, pushing away from the splattering grease of the bacon. I place the flapjacks on the counter next to the eggs that Simon scrambled. Wyatt turns and places the sausage and bread next to the eggs, then turns to grab the bacon.

“Ring it,” he says, talking about the bell we always ring when a meal is ready. Going over, I press the little doorbell button. The line has already formed by the time I turn around a couple of seconds later. By the time everyone is sitting down, almost nothing is left. We are a group of eight firemen and four paramedic techs.

“One more twenty-four-hour shift and I get to sleep in my own bed,” Colin says, and we all nod.

The food is eaten and the plates are piled in the sink for the clean-up crew, which is my second least liked job in the house. As I step out of the kitchen, my phone rings, showing me that my cousin, Crystal, who is an emergency room nurse, is calling.

“There was an accident.” I’m expecting her chipper and happy voice, but instead, she speaks monotone, and I know, I feel it in my fuckin’ gut, that something is wrong. I hold my breath, waiting for it, but nothing, fucking nothing could prepare me for the name she throws out. “Eric.” My sister Hailey’s husband. My legs almost give out as I hold the wall, Colin and Wyatt both looking at me. My hand covers the phone. “My brother-in-law,” I say as they both look at me with their mouths open for two seconds, then nod that they have this. I grab my keys off my locker shelf, running out of the building.

“Where is he?” I ask right away. Getting into my truck, I screech my tires as I peel out.

“He was DOA,” she finally says, the defeat in her voice apparent. “There was nothing.” My emergency training pops up, and I start issuing orders.

“Call Hailey and tell her I’m on my way. I’m four minutes out.” I hang up the phone and then call my parents.

My father answers on the second ring. “Hello?”

“Dad, it’s me. I need you to get Mom and meet me at the emergency room,” I say, zigzagging in and out of traffic to get to my sister’s house.

“Bad?” It’s the only question he asks.

“Yes,” I tell him. “It’s Eric,” I finally say, my voice cracking.

“I’ll leave now.” He hangs up, and I call Colin next.

“Brother,” he answers right away.

“The DOA this morning,” I say as I turn on Hailey’s street, “was Eric.”

“Fuck,” he hisses out. “I got you covered. We already called Logan, and he’s on his way.”

“Thank you,” I say, disconnecting as I pull up to Hailey’s house.

I don’t know how much Crystal has told Hailey, so I get out, jog to the front step, and open the door. I spot my sister on the phone as she turns around to face me. Her life is about to change, and she might not ever be the same person again. A piece of her is gone, a piece that might never mend.

I look in her eyes and see the tears already forming. I hold my hand out to her, and the hand holding the phone slowly lowers to her side. She looks at me in confusion, not sure what is going on, and I don’t know if I have the answers for her. I do what I need to do—I give her as much of my strength as she needs. I follow her out of the house and help her in the truck after she opens the door.

Her eyes look at me, asking me a million things, but I know my eyes don’t give anything away. It’s the training—never let them see your sorrow, never let them see you broken. I’ve had ten years of practice and not just at the academy. I buckle her in, and the only thing I can muster up to say is, “It’s going to be okay.”