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Authors: Sawyer Bennett

Off Duty (Off #7)

BOOK: Off Duty (Off #7)
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OFF DUTY

 

 

By Sawyer Bennett

All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2015 by Sawyer Bennett

Published by Big Dog Books

 

ISBN: 978-1-940883-35-9

 

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

 

No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including
information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the author. The only exception is
by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

Table of Contents

 

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Epilogue

 

Acknowledgments

 

To Denise Sprung at
Shh Mom’s Reading… for being a great friend, an amazing
supporter, and helping me to talk through the idea for this book. Oh,
and for sending me pictures of Henrik Lundqvist.

#LoveIsLove

 

Chapter 1

 

Tim

 

“What’s
on your agenda today?” Denise asks me as I look out her kitchen
window to the backyard.

Turning to face my
sister, I see her holding out a cup of coffee toward me. I accept it
gratefully with a smile. “Thought I’d take Sam over to
the Audobon Zoo… spend the day there.”

“He’ll
love it,” she says, leaning her hip against the counter and
sipping at her own coffee. “I thought we’d go out for
dinner tonight. I should be home around six.”

“Sounds like a
plan,” I say with a smile, turning my head back toward the
window to watch Sam running around the backyard with Denise’s
golden retriever, Scout. Even though the window is closed, I can hear
his excited, five-year-old giggle as Scout whines at him to throw the
ball in his hand.

Denise comes up to
stand beside me, gazing out the window. “That boy needs a dog.”

“Easy for you
to say… living here in the ‘burbs of New Orleans,”
I tell her with a wry grin. “They don’t work so well in
an apartment in Brooklyn.”

“Maybe a
little dog,” she muses. “One of those ones you can put in
your backpack or something.”

“Don’t
you even dare suggest that in front of Sam,” I warn, bumping
her shoulder with my own. “I’ll never hear the end of
it.”

Laughing, Denise
pours the rest of her coffee down the drain and sets the cup in the
sink. She leans over and gives me a kiss on my cheek. “I’ve
got your back, little brother.”

My arm wraps around
her waist and I pull her in close, giving her a kiss back on her
temple. “It’s good to be here, Denise. Thanks for having
us.”

“My pleasure,
babe,” she says as she pulls away and grabs her purse from the
kitchen table. “You and Sam are welcome to visit me anytime…
you know that, right?”

“That I do,”
I say as I turn away from the window and head toward her sliding
glass door, which leads onto the back patio. Opening it up, I call
out, “Sam… come on in and get some breakfast.”

As is typical of a
boy in the midst of playing with a rambunctious dog, he promptly
ignores me. I watch for a few moments as he throws the ball and Scout
bounds after it. Sam bends over, slaps his hands on his thighs, and
calls, “Come on, boy. Bring me the ball.”

Smiling to myself, I
put on my sterner parent voice and call out again, “Sam…
inside… now.”

His head swivels my
way, and it never fails to amaze me how my child can look more
beautiful—more angelic—with every passing moment. He
inherited his mocha-colored skin from me but got his mom’s
hazel green eyes, a combination that I bet will have all the girls
chasing him when he gets older.

Sam throws the ball
one more time and then starts trotting toward me. He gives me a grin
as he steps onto the patio, showing the large gap where one of his
baby teeth fell out just a week ago on the top. The one beside it is
loose, and he takes great pleasure in showing me how he can wiggle it
back and forth. As a firefighter for the New York Fire Department,
I’ve seen some nasty shit in my work, but for some reason,
loose teeth wig me out completely.

“Aunt Denise,”
Sam says as he pushes past me and barrels into the kitchen. “Can
we take Scout home with us after our vacation?”

Denise shoots me a
look that says,
I told you so
, but then leans over to rub the
top of Sam’s head. “Sorry, baby. But I’d be too
lonely without Scout. He has to stay here with me.”

Sam’s mouth
turns downward in extreme disappointment, only to turn right back up
into a grin. His eyes light up brightly with an idea, and he turns to
me. “Dad… we should get a dog like Scout when we go back
home. Can we? Huh, can we get a dog?”

Denise starts
laughing as she heads toward the front door. Calling over her
shoulder, she says, “See you tonight at six. You two have fun
today.”

I reach into the
cabinet and pull out a bowl, which I place on the table. “Sit,”
I tell Sam as I point to the chair.

“So, can we,
Dad?” he asks again as he plops down. I busy myself with
getting out the cereal and milk, using that as my excuse to ignore
him.

Sam doesn’t
seem to catch on that I’m trying to avoid this conversation,
and he continues chattering as I pour him a bowl of Fruit Loops. “A
dog would be so cool. I want one just like Scout, except we couldn’t
name it Scout. Maybe I’d call him Ranger… or Pete…
or maybe even Sweet Foxy Brown.”

I roll my eyes,
because out of the mouths of babes and all that. “No dog,
buddy. You know we don’t have room in my apartment, and
besides… who would take care of it when you were staying with
your mom?”

“I’d
take the dog with me to Mom’s when it was my time to stay with
her,” he says, completely nonplussed.

“Yeah…
if you think I’m dead set against a dog, just wait until you
try to ask your mom for one. I can tell you, without a doubt, that
she’ll say no.”

“She’ll
say yes,” he says confidently, and then shovels a huge scoop of
cereal in his mouth.

While he’s
chewing, I take the opportunity to lean in, kiss him on the head, and
say, “Sorry, little man. It’s just not something we can
do right now. Not with you splitting time between me and Mom’s,
and I only have an apartment.”

Sam’s mouth
chews fervently, trying to get the food swallowed so he can argue
with me. I take the opportunity to escape. “Finish your cereal,
and then get dressed. I’m going to go take a quick shower.”

His brows slanting
angrily inward, Sam swallows his cereal and glares at me. Giving a
sigh, I head back toward the guest bedroom of Denise’s house
where Sam and I are sharing a bed. This is the second year in a row
that we’ve come to New Orleans for our summer vacation, taking
advantage of the free room with my sister and the variety of
attractions available in NOLA. Denise has been in New Orleans for the
last six years, having followed a man down here, who turned out to be
of the asshole variety. He left to go back to New York, but my big
sis loved it down here and decided to make this her new home.

Denise is all the
family I have left, our parents having died in a train derailment a
few years ago when they were actually traveling from our home city of
Brooklyn down to New Orleans to visit Denise. Since then, it’s
just seems the right thing to do to come down and visit so we can
have some quality time together.

Just as I start to
reach into my suitcase for some clean clothes, my cell phone buzzes
with a text. I slip it out of my pocket and tap the Text icon.

How is vacation?
Things are boring here without you.

I smile. Nothing
like a text from my best buddy and co-worker, Flynn Caldwell. We’ve
been through thick and thin together since starting together at the
NYFD, and he’s about the closest thing I have to a brother.
Doesn’t matter that his skin is white and mine’s black.
We’re still super tight.

I’m sure
Rowan is keeping you plenty occupied
, I text back.

Yeah…
setting fire between the sheets,
he immediately replies.

I snicker, because
that’s true enough. Flynn and Rowan can barely keep their hands
off each other. I start to text back a witty, if not crude, reply
when I hear Sam shrieking from the backyard.

“D-a-a-a-d-d-y!”

Fear and adrenaline
surge through me as I recognize pain and terror in Sam’s voice.
The phone drops from my hand and I bolt out of the bedroom, catching
my shoulder on the doorjamb. Tearing down the hall, I fly into the
kitchen, scramble around the table, and fling the sliding glass door
open.

Sam is running
across the yard toward me, clutching one hand to his chest. Tears are
pouring down his face. Scout trots behind him, looking worried as
only golden retrievers can.

I sprint toward him,
dropping to my knees in the grass and opening my arms up. “What’s
wrong? What happened?”

Sucking in a deep
breath, which stutters through his tears, he wails, “I was
chasing after Scout, and I tripped and fell. My hand hurts real bad.”

“It’s
okay, buddy,” I say soothingly, my heart starting to calm now
that I can see he’s basically okay. “Let me take a look.”

Carefully, I pull
his hand away from his chest. His small whimper of pain slices
through me deep. Immediately, I see the top of his right hand is
swelling badly, and I suspect he might have a fracture.

With one hand, I cup
him around the back of his head and pull him in. Giving him a kiss on
his forehead, I tell him, “It’s going to be okay, Sammy.
Looks like you may have broken something inside your hand, and I’m
going to have to take you to the hospital.”

“It hurts,”
Sammy says with a sniffle.

Standing up from the
ground, I commiserate as I take him by the shoulder and lead him back
toward the house. “I know, buddy. But they’ll make it
feel all better at the hospital. I promise.”

 

Chapter 2

 

Holly

 

“Dr. Reynolds…
there’s an open femur fracture coming in on Bay One. Multi-car
accident with other victims coming behind. Dr. Falter asked if you
could triage that, but he’ll handle the surgery since you’re
getting off duty.”

Glancing at my
watch, I take quick note that I was supposed to have finished my
night shift forty minutes ago. Yet here I still am, at nine AM,
slogging through cases at Tulane Medical Center.

“Sure,”
I mumble as I start heading toward the ambulance bay.

“Oh, and Dr.
Reynolds?” the nurse calls again. I turn to face her and try to
put a cheery look on my face.

“Don’t
forget about the suspected metacarpal fracture in Room Two. It’s
a pediatrics case,” she says with a stern look as she hands the
chart over to me.

“Shit,”
I mutter as I take the file. I had completely forgotten, having got
wrapped up in a stabilizing a fractured C5 on a drunk driver who
decided to take on a telephone pole. Glancing through the chart, I
hand it back to her. “Let’s go ahead and send him down to
x-ray and get a two-view lateral and oblique, but first start an IV
and give him two mgs of morphine for pain relief. I’ll be in as
soon as I examine the femur fracture coming in.”

For the next thirty
minutes, I work to examine the man brought in with the broken leg. Of
course, he was high on some type of drugs and combative. All of my
tender ministrations only earned me his fist to the side of my temple
while I was trying to probe the wound. More of my precious time was
wasted as I waited for security to put him in restraints so I could
finish my exam. It was with much joy that I handed him off to Dr.
Falter.

Before I’m
able to turn my attention to the little boy in ER Room Two, I make a
quick stop in the bathroom because I’m pretty sure it has been
going on five hours since I’d last peed. After my bladder sighs
with relief, I wash my hands and give a disgusted look at myself in
the mirror as I dry my hands. My face is pale with blue shadows under
my eyes… testament to the fact I haven’t slept in going
on twenty-seven hours. My blond hair is falling out of the loose
braid that hangs down my back, so I give it a quick swipe of my
fingers to tuck the loose ends behind my ear, and then I quickly exit
the bathroom.

Just as the swinging
door closes behind me, my phone rings. Slipping it from my white lab
coat, I suppress a grimace before answering.

BOOK: Off Duty (Off #7)
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