“What’s wrong, Kellan?” Will asked as Kellan walked into work the next day. He put his bag down and sighed.
“I went to Charlie’s apartment last night.” Will cocked his head.
“You two get at it again? I thought the two of you were doing well. Didn’t you think you’d be back together soon?”
“We didn’t fight. It was nice actually.” He smiled sitting down next to will.
“Then what is it?” He sighed.
“Her apartment, that’s the problem. It’s terrible. Sick even. I can’t let her live there; especially with Jamie.” He rubbed his face.
“What’s wrong with it?” Will asked sipping his water.
“It’s not safe. I don’t like it. I want it check by Safety. It has so many violations it’s not even funny. I’m scared to have her living there.” Will rubbed his jaw.
“I’ll put it in with the Chief. If Jamie’s living there, it’s a top priority. Does she know?” He nodded sadly. “And she’s not doing anything about it?”
“She is. She’s complaining, and complaining but they’re ignoring her.” He shook his head. “It pisses me off that they’re just ignoring her like that. I want them to face it.” He shook his head getting up to get a water bottle. “I just wish she’d let me help them more.”
“She doesn’t want to seem weak. She wants you to see her as a strong woman; you having to help her won’t make her strong.”
“I know. I thought we were different. I guess I always knew this of her. It’s Charlie.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I love her.”
“We all do. She’s a keeper, Kel.” He gave him a smile as the fire alarm went off making them put down their bottles. “Come on.” They ran towards the truck as the guys ran around them.
“You know where we’re going?” Kellan called to one of the other firefighters.
“Large apartment fire at Williamsburg Estate. They’re saying at least 10 apartments.” One called back.
“Oh no.” Kellan was running to the truck. “Will, that’s Charlie’s apartment.” Will’s face paled.
“Move it or lose it, Dammit!” Kellan screamed as the guys got on the truck and it took off. “What if she’s in there, Will?” Will sighed.
“You don’t even know if it’s her apartment, Kellan.” Will said as the sirens blared as the truck sped as fast as it could towards the apartments.
“Even if she’s there Kellan, we’ll save her.” One of the guys said patting Kellan’s back. Kellan watched as the building sped past in a blur. “You’ll get her.” The guys sighed.
“Thanks, Harry.” Kellan said curtly to him as the truck pulled into the parking lot of the apartment building.
“Oh no.” The entire building was on fire. The lower apartments had fire bursting out the windows.
“Start hosing the place down. We need to make sure there are no people left in the building.” Kellan wasn’t listening as he looked at the way up to Charlie’s apartment door. The apartments weren’t set up in a building; the doors were on the outside. They were easy to get to, only now he scanned every stairway to get to the door. “Kellan!” Will called as he ran to the truck grabbing an axe.
“She’s in there!” He yelled as he ran to the stairs. “I know she is.” He pulled his oxygen mask on as he ran through the flames. He jumped over the steps that were broken and were falling apart from the heat of the fire around him. He got to the level with Charlotte’s apartment. He looked down as his co-workers brought out the hoses to spray the engulfing heat around them. He skidded to a stop in front of the apartment knocking on the door pulling his mask up. “Charlotte!” He screamed banging on the door…..
I woke to a loud sound. What was it? I was dizzy, my mind fuzzy. I had a baby blanket covering my mouth as I coughed loudly. The flames were distorting everything around me. I was trapped in a wall of fire. I was seconds from the flames finally taking me like they had taken everything I had owned. I prayed to whatever was out there to save me, to protect my baby if I wasn’t there to protect her myself. “Charlotte!” What? Where was that sound coming from? “Charlie! Please! You in there?” Kellan. I couldn’t breathe. Someone came. Kellan came.
“Kellan.” I coughed.
“I can’t hear you. Back away from the door Char, I’m coming in.” I used my good arm to crawl as far as I could away from the door as humanly possible. My shoulder and sides screamed at me in agony. I heard the splitting of wood as I coughed. The heat was making me lose it. I was fighting to keep myself awake. The door broke down as the flames licked at my legs. “Charlie!” Kellan pulled me quickly away from the fire. He cradled me in his arms holding my head to his chest. “I gotcha baby.” He pulled his mask off his face putting it loosely on my face. He shoved his shoulder on the doorway moving the broken pieces of wood.
“Hurry! The structure isn’t going to last for much longer. This building is crumbling under us.” Will yelled from the bucket on top of the ladder. Kellan ran toward him pulling the mask off my face to hand me to Will. “I have you Charlotte.” I could barely breathe, my chest hurt. I closed my eyes as I felt the movement of Kellan getting into the bucket. Will handed me back to Kellan who put the mask over my face. Kellan had his hand in my hair as he leaned my head against his shoulder.
“My chest hurts.” I mumbled over the oxygen being shoved into my lungs.
“I know, Baby. The EMTs are here and they’re going to help you.” Will said as the ladder started to lower. Kellan stroked my forehead staring at me as I fought to keep my eyes open the pain being unbearable.
“I’m sorry it took so long.” Kellan whispered stroking my hair.
“Ow.” I whimpered as I moved.
“It’s okay.” Kellan mumbled as he hit the ground. The ground shook as the fire exploded out of the building making the build fall as the foundation crumbled. The heat from the fire even in the parking lot of the building was making my head hurt. Kellan pushed people out of the way to get to one of the ambulances. He laid me down on the bed as the EMT grabbed his bag. Another EMT removed Kellan’s mask from my face replacing it with another.
“Can you tell me your name?” The EMT asked trying to put an IV into my bad arm. I screamed trying to move away only causing myself more pain. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said quickly changing arms. “Can you tell me your name?”
“Charlotte Stone.” I managed to cough out. My throat burned in pain making my eyes water.
“Okay Charlotte, I’m going to help you.”
“It’s going to be okay, I promise Charlie.” Kellan took my hand. I smiled weakly at him.
“We need to get her to the hospital, now.” The EMT said looking over at Kellan. “You coming?” Kellan looked at Will.
“Take care of her, okay. I’ll cover for you.” Kellan got into the back of the truck as the EMT put me in.
“Kellan.” I muttered not able to open my eyes.
“I’m right here, Baby.” He took my hand gently in his holding it close kissing it tenderly. “I’m not leaving I promise.” The EMT was watching my heart rate as we sped off to the hospital. “How is she?”
“Her heart isn’t beating as fast as it should. We want to get her to the Emergency Room as quick as possible.” I fell into a restless sleep not wanting to feel the pain anymore.
“How is she doctor?” Kellan asked the doctor as he walked into the room. He smiled at him. “She’s still asleep. Is she okay?”
“She was just in a large fire, Son. I would be a little freaked out if she wasn’t tired.” He sat down on the edge of the bed. “She’s lucky to be alive. Her lungs need some resting to recover from the smoke. She had a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm, and some broken and bruised ribs.”
“What about the burns? The ones on her legs.” The doctor looked at her chart.
“She has some minor burns on her forearms and hands. Looks like some on her back and hips. We want to watch the ones on her legs to see if they heal on their own or if they will need a skin graph.” Kellan nodded. “Other than some malnutrition, she’s okay.” Kellan nodded.
“I thought I was too late.” The doctor nodded.
“You were close. Her heart rate was too low for any normal person. I still want to watch that. We’ll keep her here over night and look at her tomorrow.” Kellan stood up as the doctor did.
“Thank you, Doc.” He nodded before walking out. Kellan sat down running his fingers gently over the bandages that covered my cheek.
“What would I have done if I lost you?” He sighed leaning his arms on the bed leaning his chin on his arm.
“Kellan?” I whimpered turning my head to look at him.
“Hey Baby.” He smiled at me. “How are you feeling?”
“I feel like I got hit by a train.” I lifted my hand to touch my face. Kellan gently put my hand back down before I could.
“No, don’t do that.” He whispered putting my hand back down on the bed. “You’ll be okay.” He stroked the back of my hand. “You’re safe now. I’m protecting you.” He smiled at me.
“I love you, Kellan.” I coughed weakly my chest aching, pain meds.
“I love you too, Charlotte.” He stroked my hair. “Now go back to sleep.” He clicked my pain medication button sending the cooling feeling of comfort through my sore body. “I know you’re tired. I’ll be here when you wake up.” I closed my eyes to the felling of comfort and safety…
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