Bad At Love

By: Dahlia Rose

Chapter One

The rig bounced along the road, and the sweat ran down her back underneath her uniform. It was cold as fuck outside. But with her gear on, the heat emanating from within the protective fire clothing made her skin feel, fever hot. Imagine summers with the gear and heat. Fighting fires in the summer pushed their bodies to the limit.

“So I hear the date bombed at Lucky Joe’s last night,” Ben, one of the ladder guys, yelled over the noise. He sat across from her while the truck bounced along the roads. Mike maneuvered the rig with precise driving skills and honked the horn over the siren. He was a good guy, a little crazy, but a good fireman to have at your back. He ran his hands through his hair before putting on his helmet, and he shot her a grin. “So tell me how it’s a good idea to bring a first date to a bar that firemen frequent?”

Sierra rolled her eyes. “It ended with him challenging me to a push-up battle on the floor. You guys are supposed to be there in case I need you to have my back.”

“Hey, Molly went out, and I watched the kids last night.” Gus guffawed beside her and asked, “Who won?”

“He did,” Sierra replied and shot them her wicked smile. “There is no way I’d be getting on Lucky Joe’s floor to do a damn thing.”

“Remember when Mike threw up on it after the fireball incident?” Ben reminded them.

Sierra pointed at him. “Exactly the reason I wasn’t doing it, but I was amused watching him do five and give up. What is with men anyway? They hear firefighter and female and they have to pee on a tree and try to outdo me.”

“Ummm, we don’t all do that,” Mike called from the front. “We’re two minutes out!”

That got everyone focused. The sirens went off after the call had come in about a fire on a three-story residence. EMTs would be on sight right behind them. Sierra knew it would be hell fighting a fire in the dam freezing temperatures and actually felt thankful she was overheating at that point. She saw the smoke coming out of the window as Mike pulled the ladder engine to the curb. They all had to hold on as he braked, because he always drove like the hounds of hell were on his heels.

“Ben, Gus, I need you around back,” Captain James ordered as he got out of the truck. “Sierra, you’re going to make entry with Jack and Lassiter.”

“Roger that, Captain,” Sierra answered.

She jumped out in time to see a guy run from the building coughing. He took two deep gulping breaths, and she could tell he was going to head back in. Sierra rushed up the steps to stop him.

“Sir, sir!” She put her hand on his shoulder. “You cannot go back in there.”

“My Grams is in there, and my dog,” he said shrugging her hand away. “I gotta go back in.”

“Do not make me carry you away from this door,” Sierra snapped. Jack and Lassiter rushed past her into the building with the hose before she spoke again. “We’re the fire department, we’ll get them. Do you know which part of the house she’s in?”

“Probably upstairs,” he said. He had a frantic, helpless look in his eyes. “She knows she’s not supposed to use the kitchen. The nurse left a half an hour early. I was on my way home and she decided to cook, I guess. By the time I rushed in the place was filled with smoke.”

“Okay sir, we’ll get her and the dog, but we need you to stay out here. Please go down the steps and keep away from the building.”

Sierra turned her attention away from the man and put on her mask, making sure her air was working from the tank on her back. She spoke into her radio as she entered the smoke filled building.

“We have one woman, possibly on the third floor, guys,” Sierra said. “I’m going to head up the stairs.”

“We’re already on it,” Jack responded. “The fire hasn’t damaged the roof or structure yet, it’s centered in the kitchen. Slow going, okay?”

“Roger that guys,” Sierra responded. “If you see a dog, grab him, will you? Check the downstairs.”

She ensured the stairs were structurally secure as she went upstairs. “Fire department, call out if you hear me!” She repeated the sentence as she moved up. Sierra’s own breathing through her respirator and the fire alarms beeping frantically throughout the residence combined into one familiar sound. “Fire department, call out!”

“Help me.”

“I hear you ma’am, call out again.”

There it was again! She followed the direction of the faint voice until she came to a massive bedroom. Through the smoke she found a woman sitting on the side of the bed. She wore pajamas and looked dazed. Sierra could tell it wasn’t just shock, this woman was suffering from medical issues.

“I’ve got you ma’am, I’ve got you,” Sierra said gently as she took off her mask. “Here, take a breath, breathe deep, that’s it.”

“You got anything, Sweet?” Her Captain’s voice came over the radio, using her nickname.

“Female in the bedroom, third floor, bringing her out now,” Sierra answered and coughed. “Captain, we need to air out, the smoke is thick in here.”