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When you’re a paramedic, damsels in distress are a dime a dozen.
Buckle up, peeps, it’s about to get hot and heavy in the hospital ward! Life Support is a full length, standalone bad boy romance with plenty of steam. There’s no cheating, no cliffhangers and a breathless, guaranteed HEA. Don’t miss out!
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Vanessa throws her hand up as a sedan cuts us off. “Jesus, Mary, and the good saint Joseph, do these people not hear the fucking sirens?”
I point to my ears as Vanessa drives the ambulance onto the wrong side of the road, crossing a traffic island to do it. “Probably wearing headphones.”
Vanessa looks over to me. “You mean those tampon things everyone’s got stuck in their ears twenty-four seven these days? Looks goddamn ridiculous, if you ask me.”
I smile to myself. Vanessa’s a great driver, an even better paramedic, but Steve Jobs she is not. The poor woman still thinks VHS is the video format of choice.
“What have we got again?” she asks, fingers tightening on the steering wheel as we come up to an intersection.
I think back to the call we received two minutes, thirty-six seconds ago. “Ah, young woman, possible gunshot to the head.”
“Under the Gateway Bridge, South?”
The tires screech, the ambulance lurching sideways as we take the red. “Can’t say I’m in the mood for a DOA tonight.”
“Me neither,” I add, the familiar flush of adrenaline following. That’s what has always drawn me to this job—you just never know what you’re walking into. Good or bad, it’s never dull. Hell, put me in a cubicle and the first thing I’d be doing is looking for an open window to jump through.
We arrive forty seconds later, Vanessa mounting the curb when we spot the woman in question by one of the main pylons. She’s lying face down in short grass, the pool of shadows she’s in making it hard to identify anything other than the fact she’s in serious fucking trouble.
I wait a beat before getting out of the bus, scanning the scene for danger—the gunman, for one, anyone sketchy out there in the darkness apart from the usual junkies that frequent this shithole.
I get to her first with the kit, crouching down with my flashlight and checking her pulse. As I expected given the bloody mess that is the back of her head, there’s nothing.
Vanessa arrives. “Nine-eighty?” she asks, the code for dead on arrival.
I remember the statistics. Every year something like twenty-thousand people die of gunshot wounds to the head in America. The survival rate is less than five percent, three percent with any kind of life even if they do pull through.
It would be all too easy to call this, but something tugs at me, some unseen force telling me this woman’s deserves a fighting chance no matter the odds.
I gently roll her over and find the middle of her chest. “Starting CPR.”
Vanessa’s flashlight beam runs over the side of her head. “Really?”
As it does, I get my first look at the woman’s face. She must be in her mid to late twenties, beautiful, actually, with full lips and soft, delicate features. It’s in that moment I decide I’m going to do everything possible to pull her back from the brink, short of calling on the supernatural.
“Bag her,” I tell Vanessa.
She takes a bag valve mask from the kit and places it in position, squeezing it with one hand in time with my compressions while she applies gauze to the wound with the other.
I steady myself and concentrate on the task at hand, laser-fucking-focused. Percentages and statistics fly around my head. I’d like to say this kind of thing is rare, and it is here at home. But I’ve been to war, been to the Sandbox where shots to the head were a dime a dozen. I can’t recall anyone coming back from that. You get a bullet bouncing around inside the skull and it’s going to do all kinds of damage before it finds a way out.
“Come on,” I tell her, this lifeless Jane Doe. “Don’t you dare fucking die on me.”
By some miracle we manage to keep her alive until we reach the hospital. The whole time I can’t stop staring at her. Why would anyone do this to her, someone so beautiful and fragile? An angry ex? Wrong place, wrong time? No, a girl like this doesn’t just show up at a place like that for sight-seeing. Someone wanted her dead alright.
Someone thought they’d succeeded.
We’re already on our way to the next call. I press my thumb into the palm of my hand. People don’t really understand the kind of force you need to exert during CPR. If you’re not breaking ribs, you’re not doing it properly.
Vanessa is smiling across at me. “I know that look.”
I play dumb. “What look is that?”
She laughs. “The whole I-brought-that-girl-back-to-life alpha bullshit you guys get off on. And don’t tell me you didn’t find her attractive, even with that hole in her head.”
Vanessa and I have been working together for almost three years now. She knows me all too well. “Honestly? I can’t stop thinking about her,” I confess.