Amongst The Flames: A Contemporary Christian Romance (Embers and Ashes Book 1)

BOOK: Amongst The Flames: A Contemporary Christian Romance (Embers and Ashes Book 1)
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Amongst The Flames

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By:

T.K. Chapin

www.tkchapin.com

 

Copyright
© 2015 T.K. Chapin
All rights reserved.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.

 

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Version: 08.10.2015

ISBN: 1516938909

ISBN-13: 978-1516938902

Available Books

By T.K. Chapin

(Inspirational Christian Romances)

 

 

 

Embers & Ashes Series

 

Amongst The Flames

 

Out of the Ashes

 

Up in Smoke
(Fall 2015)

 

After the Fire (Winter 2015)

 

 

Love’s Enduring Promise Series

 

The Perfect Cast
(Book 1) FREE

 

Finding Love
(Book 2)

 

Claire’s Hope
(Book 3)

 

Dylan’s Faith
(Book 4)

 

 

Stand Alones

 

Love Again

 

Love Interrupted

 

 

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Dedicated to my mother,

the woman who taught me

that all things are possible with God.

Prologue

F
ire. Four letters, two vowels and one reaction. That reaction depends on who you are. For me and the fellas at Station 9 in downtown Spokane, our reaction is one of quickness, speed and precision. A few seconds delay could mean someone’s life. We don’t have time to think, only do. And we don’t do this for the recognition or because it’s just some job, we do it because this is what we were born to do.

My resume, if I had one, would only say one thing on it: Firefighter. I’m one of those guys that you don’t really think about unless something has gone terribly wrong. Usually it’s when your house is on fire.

I won’t bore you with the countless calls where we just show up with our lights on and we’re just there to support the police and ambulance. I’m sure you’ve seen us sitting across the street quietly once or twice while they wheel Mrs. Johnson out on a gurney to the ambulance at three o’clock in the morning. I also won’t explain to you the hundred calls a year we get on burning popcorn in a kitchen. No. This story I’m going to share with you is not only about the worst fire I had ever seen in my life, but it’ll also encompass how important God is, not only in marriage, but in life.

This is not a story you’ll find on the front page of your local newspaper while you’re sipping your morning cup of coffee. You also won’t catch it on the ten o’clock news. Nope. Instead, it’s a story that will inspire you to look at life differently and challenge you to believe that with God even the worst fire you face is nothing in comparison with His power, grace and mercy.

Belief in God is not really an option for me when I run into burning buildings to save lives. It’s a core fundamental building block of who I am. I won’t sit here and tell you that I’m a perfect Christian though; that would be a lie. Soon enough, you’ll read about my plethora of issues and flaws amongst the pages that follow. What I will do is stay true to the truth the best that I can. I’m not telling this story to make a record of my sins or those of others. I’m giving you this story to give you hope. Hope of a brighter tomorrow that you can look forward to, hope of a world where acceptance isn’t only preached, but it’s applied alongside the scriptures to our lives.

I am Cole Taylor and this is my story.

CHAPTER 1

W
alking down an aisle in the grocery store with Kane, Micah and Greg one morning at about eight o’clock I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I caught Kane checking out a pretty brunette a few aisles over in the bakery.

“Always on the prowl, aren’t ya?” I asked, smiling over at him. Kane was the station’s notorious single twenty-three-year-old male with nothing but women on his mind. He once admitted to me that he bought a full set of turnouts online from an ex-fireman just so he could suit up in a full fireman outfit for a girl.

“She’s cute,” Kane replied with a half-grin on his face. He shot another look over at her and his smile grew.

“Maybe she can bake you a cake or something?” Greg said with a soft but sarcastic tone as he grabbed a box of pasta from the shelf. Greg was one of the quieter guys on the crew.

Micah and I erupted in laughter. Kane smiled and said, “I’m sure there’s more to her than that.”

“How would you even know that?” I asked.

He shrugged. “It’s a hunch, I know about these things.”

“Well, at least you know she has a sweet side,” Micah added. Kane laughed a little as he pushed the cart down towards the end of the aisle.

On the way over to the meat section of the store, a man with furrowed eyebrows made a beeline for us. Leaning into Kane’s ear, I said, “Move the cart out of his way.” Kane did, but it didn’t help. The elderly gentleman shifted his footing to line up with our cart as he continued towards us.

Arriving at us, the man latched his worn hands to each side of our cart and demanded in a sharp tone, “What are you doing here?”

“Same as most people here, just grocery shopping… you?” Kane asked, crossing his arms as he released his grip from the cart.

“Are you on the clock right now?” the man asked. He shot a quick look at each of us individually as if we were caught in some kind of predicament.

“Yeah,” I replied, stepping in front of Kane and up to the gentleman. I knew I needed to get between them before Kane did something stupid. His fuse was short when it came to people who didn’t respect firefighters. For instance, there was a call one time that Kane and I were on where the man whose house was on fire started complaining to us about how long it took us to respond. Kane took his revenge inside the home when he used the butt of his axe to smash the guy’s big screen TV.

“Is there a problem going on in the store we should know about?” Micah asked, looking over my shoulder at the man. Micah was my best friend at the station and he was always looking for the best in people no matter what the situation appeared to be.

“Yeah, matter of fact there is a problem ya chump! And I’m looking right at it,” he shouted, raising his hands from the cart. I looked back at Kane as I knew the comment would set him off. Catching his gaze before he said anything, I could see Kane trying to keep his mouth shut. That little stunt he pulled at that fire by smashing the guy’s TV landed him with a suspension without pay.

Micah raised his hands. “We’re just trying to get to some supplies, Sir.”

“Yeah– he’s right. We don’t want any trouble, Sir. We need to keep moving.” I grabbed onto the cart and began walking past the disgruntled citizen.

“This is how my tax dollars is spent, huh?” He asked as he laughed sarcastically, shaking his head at us. “I’m filing a complaint with your station!” he said from behind us. He must have been looking at the back of our fleece pullovers as he continued, “Station 9… Who’s in charge over there?”

“Thomas Sherwood and Sean Hinley are our Captains and Paul Jensen’s the Chief,” I said over my shoulder to him.

“I’ll be calling them right away!” he shouted.

We all three managed to keep our cool and made it over to the meats. As we came up to the bunker with steaks and stopped, Kane said, “We risk our lives, yet people still find a reason to complain… What is with that?” He glanced back at the angry man as he now appeared to be arguing with a grocery store worker.

I turned to Kane. “Do you do this job because you want people to think you’re a hero?”

“No…” he replied softly. “But that kind of thing just isn’t right.”

“No, it’s not right,” I agreed. “But we don’t do this to impress people, Kane. You know that. We do this job because it’s our duty and we do it to protect the people of Spokane. We serve them, no matter how poorly we get treated.”

“Cole’s right, man,” Micah said with a nod. “We can’t let people like him get in our head.”

“We can’t let them undermine our reasons for doing this,” Greg added.

“I find honor in what we do and someone like that just bugs me.”

“I know it does,” I replied, putting a hand on his shoulder. “And thank you for not saying anything to him.” I turned back to the steaks. “What cut do we want boys?” I asked.

Suddenly dispatch came over all our radios for a fire at the Canyon Creek Apartments on South Westcliff. We all four began sprinting for the front doors. My heart began pounding as adrenaline coursed through every one of my veins. Weaving between the aisles and shopping carts, we made our way outside. Spotting a cart boy on the way through the parking lot, I stopped and told him about our cart in the back of the store. He thanked me and I headed over to the truck.

Micah jumped into the driver seat. He was the ladder company’s engineer and that meant the man behind the wheel. Greg sat up front with Micah; his role varied and depended much on what was needed on each call. Kane and I were the guys who did search and rescue, cut power and helped with ventilation cuts on the roof.

As Kane and I suited up in the back, Kane asked, “Did you see that chick in the bakery look concerned as we dashed out of there?”

I laughed. “No, didn’t catch that,” I said, pulling up my suspenders across the front of my chest.

“When we go back later I’m going to go talk to her. Bet I can get those digits,” he replied as he slid his Nomax head and neck protector over his eyes. “I’ll for sure get her number.”

“She could be married,” I replied.

“Nah, I saw her left hand when she was putting out donuts in the window earlier.”

I laughed. “Wait… what ever happened to that Heidi girl? I almost completely forgot about her.”

“He got bored of her,” Micah said over his shoulder to us. “He can’t seem to stay interested in one gal; you know that.”

“Shouldn’t you be keeping your eyes on the road?” Kane retorted.

“Really though, man, what happened?” I asked, looking over at Kane.

“Just didn’t work out,” Kane said as he shrugged.

We slowed down as we arrived at the scene. Glancing out my window, I could see the fire had already engulfed much of the apartment complex and I felt another surge of adrenaline. I was excited and yet terrified out of my mind of the unknown that lay before me. It was that way every time we got a call.

Glancing at the other fire truck on scene, I saw Thomas Sherwood, the shift captain of station 9 and my father-in-law. He was already on scene along with the other guys who rode over on the engine truck. They were already about done hooking up the hose to the hydrant as we came to a complete stop. Leaping from my seat, my feet barely hit the pavement before the captain reached me.

“We need a grab on the second floor,” he shouted. “There’s a four year old girl in apartment one-forty-two.” My heart felt like it skipped a beat as I looked up at the roaring flames. Saving lives wasn’t anything new for me, but I never could get used to it. Even after ten years of service, every time lives were at stake, it was difficult, especially when the lives of children were involved.

“Got it,” I replied as I grabbed my oxygen tank from the side of the truck and secured it onto my back. Grabbing my axe and Halligan bar, I turned as I pulled my mask over my face and put on my helmet. A hand on my shoulder stopped me from heading directly to the building.

“And, Cole,” the captain said as I turned around.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“Be careful in there, I don’t have the energy to explain to my daughter how her husband died today.”

“No worries, you haven’t had to yet,” I replied. Turning, I looked at the apartment entrance and saw the black smoke billowing out the front door. I jogged up to the door and as I entered, I saw Rick, starting the exterior attack on the fire from outside with his hose in hand. He was spraying down the nearby building so it would not catch on fire. I gave him a nod. Rick Alderman was one of the veterans on the crew. It was he, Micah and I for the past ten years at fire station 9. Kane came on a couple years after me and the others all were fairly new, each under five years. The older vets from the old days when I first started —like Hillman and Conrad— moved away and transferred to other stations. But no matter who came or went, when we were on the scene we were like that of a brotherhood. No man left behind, ever.

Coming inside the burning building, I immediately noticed the extreme temperatures inside. It wasn’t typical, a bit warmer than I was used to. I pushed the sensation of being trapped in a furnace out of my mind as I ventured in further. I trekked through the black smoke and up the stairs in search for the child. My jacket was failing to keep the high temperatures of the heat from my skin and the burning was digging in. Ignoring common-sense reactions to extreme situations is a requirement that they don’t advertise in the job description. Who in his right mind after all would run into a burning building, on purpose?

My visibility was low at the top of the stairs inside. The charcoal-black smoke was thick and filled every square inch. Seeing a door within reach, I came up to it. Squinting, I could see it read ‘one forty four.’ It wasn’t the one I needed. I trudged through the ever-thickening smoke as the heat gnawed at my skin until I found the apartment I needed. One-forty-two. Relieved, I grabbed for the door knob, but found it locked. Taking a few steps back, I launched a kick to the door that would have impressed an MMA fighter, but it wasn’t enough to make it budge. I brought my Halligan front side and stuck it right between the door and the frame. My skin continued to burn from the heat and my muscles screamed in pain as I pried open the door. Finally, it budged open.

Stepping through the smoke filled room, I shouted, “Fire department, Call out!” The sound of the roaring flames and falling pieces of debris made it nearly impossible to hear anything else.

Lowering myself to the floor, I moved through the living room and reached a doorway. An explosion suddenly came from another part of the building. Covering my helmet, I braced myself for any falling debris. Continuing through the doorway and smoke, I noticed a smoldering teddy bear next to me. This must be the girl’s room, I thought to myself as I raised my head to survey the room. Trying to see through the smoke was difficult, but I spotted a closet across the floor. I repeated, “Fire department, Call out!” as I inched my way over to the closet.

Getting to the closet, I found the little girl almost about to lose consciousness. Ripping my mask off in a frenzy, I shoved it over her face and said, “It is going to be okay, I’m going to get you out of here.” She struggled to breathe into the mask. Our breathing apparatuses weren’t so easy to use when not properly trained. “Just try to take small and short breaths,” I said.

I grabbed the little girl and held her close to my chest in my arms, using myself as a shield as I crawled back towards the doorway. Once back into the living room, I stood up for the rest of the journey out. But before I could reach the front door of the apartment, an explosion came from the kitchen. Covering the girl as much as possible and dropping to the floor, I protected her from the blast. But a piece of metal shot across the room from the explosion and hit me in the upper arm. I thanked God it was only my arm as I regained my footing and continued to the door with the girl. My adrenaline was pumping and my heart was pounding so hard that I had no idea how bad my wound was. As I came to the stairs that led out of the apartment, pain suddenly shot through my arm, sending me collapsing to the top of the stairs.

Lying there I turned my head and looked down to the base of the stairs. I could see through the mostly faded smoke as Kane came rushing through the doorway and up the stairs to me. He was trying to talk, but a ringing sound deafened his words.

“Just get her out of here!” I shouted, trying to move the little girl out of my arms.

He picked her up and placed the oxygen mask back onto my face. He took off down the stairs as I grasped onto my arm and shoulder. Looking around I saw a railing right near me and I tried to grab at it. Another wave of the worst imaginable pain tore through my arm, sending me to my back. I stared upward at the ceiling as I waited for Kane to come back.

“Taylor!” Kane shouted as he grabbed onto my good arm. I could hear him this time. “You’re bleeding out everywhere!” he shouted as he grabbed me and helped me up to my feet. He bent down and grabbed my axe and halligan.

I had lost a ton of blood, but I was trying to ignore my injury. “I’ll be okay, don’t worry about me. Is the girl going to be alright?” I asked as he helped me down the stairs.

“She’ll be okay,” Kane said as we came out of the building. I nodded as I tried to walk on my own. An unbearable pain weighed on my bad arm, giving me the sensation of being pulled down.

“Ahhh…” I grunted, grabbing my forearm to help ease the pulling feeling.

BOOK: Amongst The Flames: A Contemporary Christian Romance (Embers and Ashes Book 1)
5.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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