I frantically search the surrounding yards for any sign that Finnley isn’t in the house. I hear a neighbor tell D.J. that he was walking his dog when he saw the flame shooting out of the front door and he never saw the woman who lives there come out.
When I see Finnley’s car parked in front of the garage, I know in my heart that she’s still inside and I forget everything I’ve been taught. I bolt towards the house, leaving all of my gear inside the truck. I ignore the shouts of warning from D.J. and the other men. My only thought is of getting inside and saving the woman I have always loved.
Chapter 21—Inside the Fire
THE FRONT DOOR is completely engulfed in fire and smoke and, as I run towards the house, I have to cover my face with my arm to protect it from the heat. There’s no way this fire didn’t have help. The place is going up faster than f**king Wilcox’s barn full of dry hay. Being that it’s also an older house, I know we don’t have much time before the entire thing crumbles to the ground.
I hear a blood-curdling scream from inside the house as I make my way to the side yard and my heart plummets to my feet.
I don’t even realize I’m screaming her name until a solid band of muscle wraps around my chest from behind, pinning my arms to my sides and pulling me away from the inferno.
“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? DO YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH?” D.J. screams in my ear as he continues to pull me away from the house, away from Finnley.
“GET THE FUCK OFF ME! GET OFF ME, GODDAMMIT SHE’S IN THERE!”
I struggle against his hold, clawing at D.J.’s arm as I attempt to buck him off while he tries to talk some sense into me as he roughly drags me further and further away from where I need to be. He has no f**king clue. He doesn’t get it. I lost every bit of sense the moment that call came into the station. I can still hear the sound of that one, painful scream ringing in my ears. I can’t hear anything else but the crackle of the fire and men shouting orders from the front of the yard. Even though the sound of her tortured cry coming from somewhere in that burning house was enough to bring me to my knees, at least I know she’s still alive. She’s still in there waiting for me to get to her.
“You need to calm the f**k down and use your head! You’re going to be no good to her if you go racing in there like a f**king idiot and get yourself killed!” D.J. yells.
He gets me twenty feet away from the house before I finally get one arm free and slam my elbow back into his stomach. His hold loosens just enough that I can turn around, slamming both of my hands into his chest.
“I’m not going to tell you again, D.J. Get the f**k away from me right now!” I shout in his face, shoving him again.
I quickly turn and race along the side of the house, looking for another way in. I spot a large picture window about chest-high towards the back of the house and sprint to it, my legs moving so fast that I barely have time to stop. With a quick glance in the window, I see no signs of fire in the room, but it’s quickly filling with smoke. Reaching down into the landscaped flowerbed right below the window, I grab a decorative rock the size of a bowling ball, heft it up over my head and send it smashing through the window.
I immediately duck down as the smoke that filled the room comes billowing out.
“FUCKING SON OF A BITCH! KEENER! GET THE HOSE ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE HOUSE! MARTINEZ, BRING AN EXTRA AIR TANK!” D.J. shouts from behind me.
Pulling my long-sleeved shirt down from where it was bunched up around my elbows, I cover as much skin as possible before using my arm to swipe along the bottom of the window frame, removing as much of the glass as I can.
I hear a shout from the road about the fire hydrant not working and the blood runs cold in my veins. Being a station in a small town, our trucks are filled with very little water. We rely on the city hydrants for our supply and if that doesn’t work, we have to call in a tanker from a neighboring town. If the men can’t get water on this house immediately, there will be no saving it. I have to get Finnley out - fast.
Gripping the open window ledge, I heft my body up, swinging one leg over until I’m basically straddling the windowsill, hovering half in the house and half out.
“Goddammit, Collin will you just wait?” D.J. begs again, grabbing onto my arm and attempting to pull me towards him on the ground. “The tanker will be here in a matter of minutes.”
Shaking his arm off of me angrily, I twist my body until my lower half is completely inside the house, my feet finding purchase on the carpeted floor.
“She doesn’t have minutes, this house is over a hundred years old. I want you acting as the lead paramedic when she comes out, so make sure you have your shit ready. If anything happens, you make sure Finnley gets out first, do you understand?”
“THAT’S A FUCKING ORDER, DRAKE!” I shout, cutting him off.
I watch as all the argument leaves his face. D.J. always used to joke that I’m like one of his parents. The only time we ever use his given name is when we’re pissed at him.
Martinez comes racing up at that moment and thrusts an extra air tank into D.J.’s hands. He quickly lifts it up into the window and I grab it.
“Don’t be a f**king hero, you stupid son of a bitch. If it’s too bad in there, you get the f**k out, you hear me?” D.J. tells me as he slowly starts to back away from the window.
“Yep, you got it.”
We both know I’m lying but at least D.J. has the sense not to call me on it right now. With one last look, we both turn and head in opposite directions.