Page 23 of Hero Next Door

“Yeah I know.” It seems that however hard I tried to hide my struggles away from everyone, laughing and making jokes about it all, I didn’t succeed. Joe, if no one else, can see right through it. “But it’s better now.”

“Good, and is there… you know, anyone else on the scene? Just between you and me…”

As he winks playfully at me, I can’t help but laugh. Joe is probably the one person that I would tell about Esme because he won’t make jokes about it, but I don’t know if I should. Then again, I don’t know if I can keep it inside any longer. I have to admit that I am dying to talk to someone about it and this feels like my chance to do so…

“There is a stunning girl next door to me…” Oh okay, I guess my voice box is letting everything out whether I am ready to do so or not. “She’s a sweet red head who makes me feel amazing. Like I haven’t done in years.”

“Woah, quick worker,” Joe laughs, which strikes me and gives me pause for thought for a second. He’s right, we have moved a little fast actually. I have only been in the house mere days. Maybe that’s why she freaked out.

“Yeah, actually that’s true. I mean, we did have dinner and one thing led to another…” Joe’s eyes nearly pop out of his head with shock. “But there was just that powerful overwhelming connection there. You know what I mean?”

“Oh, I do.” All of a sudden, he’s bobbing his head like a nodding dog. “When I met my wife, I knew right away. She whipped the world out from underneath me and just left me floating. I knew. So, if you know, then nothing should hold you back. You should just go for it and forget about everything else.”

His words inspire me. They make me want to leap from my seat to just go and get her already but I can’t act on that instinct because I don’t know if she feels the same way about me. I have to stay where I am.

“What’s the matter?” Joe cocks his head and stares at me. “You look like you are pondering something. Actually, you look like you are having a self-doubt which isn’t like you at all. You are always confident with women…”

“This one is different,” I feel compelled to admit. “I don’t know what it is about her, but she is.”

“Sounds to me like she is the one for you then.” He smiles looking all happy for me. “Now, you just need to get her. And before you argue, I know that you have been saying you don’t want anyone, but clearly you do.”

I part my lips a couple of times, trying to find a decent response to that but I don’t have anything. Maybe I do want someone after all. Or not just anyone, but Esme. I can’t imagine watching her being with someone else which is usually a sign. I mean, I would be more than happy for Jane to move on with someone else…

“I don’t know.” I eventually offer my boss a one shouldered shrug. “We’ll see what happens.”

Just as I consider standing up to leave, we are interrupted by the fire bell ringing out with an emergency. Immediately, I feel my body snap to action, ready to get involved with whatever is happening. It doesn’t matter that I am off the clock now, it’s just a natural instinct to want to help and I can’t help myself.

“Fuck,” Joe curses. “The Williams sisters aren’t in yet. They are running late, which means…”

“I will head out with the crew,” I declare eagerly. “If you need someone. I don’t want you to be short staffed.”

“No, you are done here. I don’t want you working longer hours than you need to.” Joe shakes his head immediately, but I don’t intend to take that for an answer. “You go home, I will sort it out…”

“Just let me go.” He’s stressed, I can see it rolling off of his shoulders. If there is something that I can do to make his time better, then I will. “Please, let me help. You know what I am like. I always want to be out there.”

Joe huffs sadly. I can tell that he doesn’t want to agree but I’m pretty sure that he’s also well aware that he doesn’t have a choice. I am right here, ready and able to offer help, willing as well. This is an emergency situation, life and death in a lot of cases, and he doesn’t have time to get himself anyone else to work for him. “Fine yes.”

I leap up instantly and run down the stairs two at a time. In a heartbeat, my uniform is on and ready to go. Knowing how to dress ourselves instantly is a big part of the job because with fire and other dangerous situations, you never know how much time you have. The last thing that you want is for someone to lose their life because you were the one not quite dressed and holding everyone up. Luckily, that hasn’t ever been me and it won’t be.

Tags: Mia Ford Romance