Rescuing Dawn - Book cover

Rescuing Dawn

Nicole Flockton

Age Rating


Life is easier when you’re alone—that’s the motto Dawn Granger lives by after everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Working the nightshift is her salvation. She can’t date anyone if she works every night. She’s found the perfect way to keep her heart safe. That is, until her former high school sweetheart bursts back into her life, shaking the very walls she’s erected around herself.

Andrew Holmes has sailed the world. Older and wiser he knows now that adventure is fine. Almost dying? Not so much. With his eye on making the most out of his second chance, his new career as a paramedic is everything he wants. Then he sees her—the one that got away. He made one stupid, youthful mistake and has regretted it every day since. But Dawn doesn’t smile the way she used to. He sets about rescuing Dawn from her darkness and bringing her back into the light.

As much as she tries to resist Andrew, he awakens her sleeping soul. He’s always been a thrill seeker and she sees that drive still lurking below the surface. Can she risk her heart to embrace this new beginning, or is it safer staying in her tower?

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Chapter 1

Dawn looked at the empty waiting room with a sense of trepidation. She had a feeling the peace the ER was experiencing was going to be short lived.

“It’s a bit eerie, isn’t it? I never expected an ER to be this quiet. Everything you hear on the TV says that ERs are always so busy that ambulances are constantly being turned away.”

Dawn looked at the trainee nurse who’d spoken, her enthusiasm for the job shining in the young girl’s eyes. She remembered when she’d been like that. When she’d actually had enthusiasm for life. Sometimes she wished she could grasp it back. But if she’d learned one thing from being the Senior Nurse working the graveyard shift in the ER for the last two years, you could never look back or wish things could be different.

“You know that’s the worst possible thing to say when the ER is empty. It’s like tempting fate,” Dawn said, softening her words with a smile. “It’s a good time to catch up on making sure the resus room and crash carts are fully stocked.” She paused and sent the trainee nurse a wink. “In case of an emergency.”

The nurse groaned at Dawn’s joke. “I wouldn’t give up your job and go into stand-up comedy.”

Dawn laughed; it did feel good to joke around. No sooner had she finished the thought when the ER doors slammed open. Usually if there was an accident, they received a call warning them of incoming casualties. She looked up and saw Sophie, the Nursing Unit Manager, clutching her pregnant belly. Of all the nights for Alex, her husband, to take a night shift, it would be the night she goes into labor.

“Alex!” Dawn hollered over her shoulder as she rushed towards the other woman. “I take it you’re not coming for a visit?”

Dawn made it to Sophie’s side as just as Sophie reached out to grab her hand. Dawn withstood the squeezing of her hand while trying not to let emotions overtake her. Her stomach clenched, as if she herself was experiencing the contraction that was rippling through Sophie’s body. Dark memories threatened to overwhelm her; she knew exactly what Sophie was feeling.

“Sophia, mia amore, the baby’s coming?” Alex said as he rushed towards his wife.

Dawn controlled the urge to roll her eyes at Alex’s comments. “Looks that way, Alex. Good luck in maternity.”

She turned and headed back to her desk. As much as she was happy for the couple, she had to move away before she lost it totally and started crying in front of them. The thought of her sweet baby boy the day he’d been born filled her mind. It was quickly replaced by the last image she had of him smiling at her as she’d left for work. If only she hadn’t taken that shift two years ago, things might have been different.

No, she yelled in her mind and pushed the thought away. She’d just lectured herself earlier about not looking back. She had been dealt her cards, and no matter how many times she wondered “why her,” she would move on. She had to.

The phone rang and on autopilot she picked it up. “Emergency, Dawn speaking.”

The dispatcher on the line told her about a multi car accident with two victims in critical condition being brought in. As Dawn hung up the phone, she was grateful that it had been a quiet night. With Alex now unavailable, they were going to be a doctor short until his replacement arrived.

The next few minutes were spent preparing the staff for the incoming casualties. Satisfied the department was ready for whatever was about to come through the door, Dawn let herself relax momentarily, knowing that the next couple of hours were going to be hectic.

The doors slammed open again and two paramedics came rushing in; Dawn directed them to the first cubicle. From what the paramedics were yelling out, the patient wasn’t as badly injured as the dispatcher had made it out to be. But of course, the next patient might not be so lucky.

She heard the shouts through the doors before they opened; that didn’t bode well.

“What’s happening, Dawn?” She swung around, her mouth gaping when she saw Alex standing next to her.

“Why aren’t you with Sophie?”

“She’s only two centimeters dilated; we’ve got a bit of time. Besides,” he said ruefully, “she heard my pager go off and told me to help down here. She said she’d call me when she needs me.”

Dawn shook her head. “Trust Sophie to put the needs of the department before herself.”

They had no more time to deal with small talk as the ambulance bay doors opened. It only took one look to know that this patient was far worse off than the previous one. A paramedic was straddling the patient, performing chest compressions. The other one pushing the gurney looked vaguely familiar but Dawn put it down to being one of the regular crews that always came in. Nothing more.

“Trauma One,” she called out as they passed her by. “Will you need me, Alex?”

“No, we’ve got Phoebe on tonight—pull her from wherever she is and tell her I need her. I’ll need you to deal with family members when they arrive.”

Dawn nodded her agreement but wished she could be helping out; there was nothing worse than talking to the victims’ families. Horrible memories flooded her mind of the time when she had been the family member of a victim receiving news. No manner of words spoken by the nurse had eased the pain that had filled her the moment she’d heard her husband and infant son hadn’t survived. Coldness had filled her soul that night two years ago. And nothing had been able to warm it since.

“Dawn? Is that you?”

A voice dragged her out of her maudlin thoughts, and Dawn looked up. The moment she locked eyes with the paramedic standing in front of her, she wished she was anywhere but where she was.

“Andrew?” It couldn’t possibly be him. Shouldn’t he be in the middle of an ocean somewhere? Shouldn’t he be part of a crew chasing another “around-the-world” sailing title? Shouldn’t he be battling mother-nature? That was his life. He shouldn’t be standing in her ER. He certainly shouldn’t be a paramedic. It was the last occupation she’d ever thought he’d enter into.

“Hey, I thought it was you.” Andrew’s voice was as smooth as it had been when they’d dated in high school. His blond hair was sun-bleached and his piercing blue eyes shone brightly from his lightly sun-kissed face. His six-foot frame had become more muscular with the passing of time, and his paramedic uniform hugged him in all the right places. She had no doubt that if he turned up at an accident scene, the victim would feel instantly comforted. Her heart double-timed when he sent her a brief smile. “How are you?”

It was such a silly question to ask when a patient had been arresting on the gurney he’d pushed in. The last thing she wanted to do right at that moment was make idle chit-chat with her former lover. “Busy.”

She moved away from the desk and rushed down the hallway to get Phoebe from the break room, glad to have a moment to get herself together. Seeing Andrew again had been a shock. She looked up and saw Phoebe heading in her direction.

“Where do you need me?” Phoebe asked.

“Trauma one with Alex.” Dawn laid her hand on Phoebe’s arm. “It doesn’t look good; the paramedics were doing CPR when they brought him in.”

“Okay, thanks for the heads up,” Phoebe said as she continued towards the trauma room at a fast pace.

Dawn took a moment to get her breath. She hoped that when she returned to her desk, Andrew would be gone and she wouldn’t have to face him again. It was the coward’s way, but his presence had her thinking a whole pile of “what ifs” again. What if Andrew hadn’t left her to follow his need for adventure? What if she hadn’t married Tom? What if Tom hadn’t died?

Why did she keep doing that to herself? For the second time that night, she’d started a pity party. She was better than this. She had a job to do. People would be coming in and she would comfort them. Like she always did.

With that resolve humming through her, Dawn strode down the hall, back to her post, and if Andrew happened to be there, well, she’d deal with it.

She rounded the corner and saw that Andrew was still standing where she’d left him. He looked up and the last ten years rolled away. Instead of being in the busy ER with action happening all around her, she was back in the hallways of high school, seeing him for the first time again. The years since she had last seen him had been good to him. The only difference between now and then was the scar that ran down his cheek. Why was he still standing in the ER? It seemed so out of place to see him there. In her mind he should be in some exotic country waiting to set sail for his next adventure?

“Why are you here, Andrew?” she asked the question that was bugging her. She really hoped it was just a coincidence.

He laughed and the sound trailed slowly down her back, reminding her of the good times they’d shared. “It’s pretty obvious why I’m here; we just brought a patient in.”

“Yes, but why are you back in Perth? Shouldn’t you be sailing into the sunset somewhere?”

Dawn was surprised to see shadows dull the brightness of Andrew’s eyes. With a quick lowering and rising of his lashes, the look was gone. It was only because she had spent countless hours gazing into his eyes that she’d noticed the subtle change.

“Sunsets tend to look the same after a while,” he said quietly, before giving a shrug of his shoulders. “Besides, I decided it was time to come back home. Time to start a more meaningful career.”

She soaked in the information. He’d always glamorized sailing when they were dating. How one day he would sail solo around the world. She wondered if he still wanted to do that. Although sailing had seasons, there were always races happening somewhere. It burned that she still remembered so much about the sport. She’d tried not to, seeing as sailing had been the reason she and Andrew had broken up. He’d wanted to chase a dream and she’d wanted her dream of a husband and family. Their dreams hadn’t matched. Probably still didn’t match. But after Tom’s death she’d been in a low place and had succumbed to a “what if” moment and had looked Andrew up on the Internet. She’d read the newspaper articles on his racing team as if they’d been the very air she needed to breathe.

“Perth must be extremely boring after all the places you’ve been.”

“I need a little boring right now. But I’ve never thought of Perth as boring, more as peaceful.”

Dawn didn’t know what to make of his words. There was an underlying sadness in them, as if he’d seen tragedy and needed to distance himself from it. She tried to recall if she’d read anything about any accidents he may have been involved in and came up blank. Then again, she’d also imposed an “Andrew ban” in her life again, once she’d realized she was becoming obsessive of any piece of news she could find out about him. What they’d had was finished. It had ended over ten years ago.

The sound of uncontrollable sobbing reached her. The family members of the car accident victims had arrived.

“Look, it’s been really great catching up but I’ve got a job to do and I’m sure you and your partner want to get out of here.” She moved away from the desk and towards the door that would lead out into the waiting room where the crying was coming from. “See you around,” she threw over her shoulder.

As the door slammed shut behind her, she reminded herself that the door belonging to the relationship between her and Andrew had also shut a long time ago. She would do well to remember what she’d vowed when Tom and little Brody had died. She was never loving anyone again. It hurt too much when you lost the ones you loved.


Dawn smothered a yawn and glanced at the clock—only a couple more hours before the day shift would be in and she could go home and sleep. Her life, if nothing else, was routine, and she liked it that way. Working nights enabled her to keep her distance, everyone was busy during the day for dates, and she usually slept most of it away anyway.

“Any news from maternity yet?”

Dawn gave a little jump; she hadn’t heard Phoebe approach the desk. She gave a small smile. “Seems baby Scavoni isn’t in any hurry to appear. But it’s a first baby—it could still take a while.”

Phoebe laughed. “Well I’m anxious to meet him or her. I can’t believe they didn’t want to find out the sex of the baby. Sophie said they wanted a ‘surprise.’ Seriously, what’s there to be surprised about? It’s either going to be a boy or a girl.”

Dawn remembered being asked the same question when she had been pregnant. The memory of seeing her precious baby floating around safely in her belly was a sight she would never forget. She had to stop herself from letting out the tears that were threatening to spill over. She’d had her beautiful boy only for a few months. It wasn’t fair.

“I don’t know. In this age of instant gratification and knowing everything at the touch of a fingertip, surprises can be good.”

“Well, I’m not waiting.” Phoebe pouted. “I’m finding out so I can plan.”

She laughed. Phoebe was unique and called a spade a spade. She was just what Dawn needed to chase away the thoughts of Brody. It had been one of the worst nights she’d had in a while for letting her past almost overwhelm her. But she’d gotten through it, just like she had countless other times.

“Planning is good. But sometimes plans fall apart.”

“Don’t I know it,” Phoebe muttered.

Dawn could’ve kicked herself. Not long ago, Phoebe had broken up with John, a former resident in the ER. He’d jumped at the chance to work with an organization that worked in war torn countries, providing medical help to victims injured by the fighting.

“I’m sorry, that was insensitive of me.” Dawn laid a hand on her friend’s arm.

“We’re tough, strong women,” Phoebe said, determination lacing the words. “We don’t need a man.”

Dawn had to agree. For a while there, after seeing how happy Sophie and Alex were, she’d wondered if she’d made the right decision to shut herself off after her husband had died. But then a night like tonight would happen and she knew she had.

“That’s right.”

At that moment the internal doors from the main part of the hospital opened. Dawn turned and saw a beaming Alex walking through.

“We have a precious little girl, Louisa Michelle. She is as beautiful as her mother.”

Dawn swallowed the ever present lump in her throat. “That’s fantastic, Alex, congratulations.”

“Can I go up and see Soph?” Phoebe asked, looking at Dawn for her okay. Dawn couldn’t deny the request from Sophie’s best friend.

“Of course, it’s fine, your shift is almost over. Tell Sophie I’ll be up to see her tomorrow before my shift starts. I’m sure she’ll be inundated with everyone wanting to visit her.”

“Thanks, I won’t be long.” Phoebe grabbed Alex’s arm. “Lead the way. I can’t wait to meet your daughter.”

Dawn nodded and turned away before she let her emotions show, pretending to study the papers in front of her. She was truly happy for Alex and Sophie, but all she could think about was her precious boy and the moment Brody entered the world.

She sat for a few more moments, before giving up on trying to comprehend what was in front of her. She got up from the desk and made her way to the quiet room for families waiting on news of their injured loved ones. It was empty and she needed the solitude. She sank down onto the couch. She would be so glad when her shift was over. Tonight it was like her past had decided to stop being buried and come to the surface to say hello.

“You okay, Dawn?”

She looked up towards the doorway and saw Andrew standing there. Seriously, could this shift get any worse?

“Andrew? You’re back? Did you bring a patient in?” She hadn’t heard the phone, but then again, she wasn’t near the desk. She watched, mesmerized, as Andrew made his way into the room. It seemed to shrink in size with each step he took. She should stand up; sitting down put her at a disadvantage. She waited for him to sit down beside her, and was surprised when he chose the armchair to the side of the couch. He still hadn’t answered her. It was as if he was trying to formulate the response to her simple question.

“Are you trying to come up with some elaborate story?”


Andrew laughed at Dawn’s comment. He could see the tiredness in her eyes. The sadness as well. The spark of life and laughter had once shone brightly in her green eyes. That carefree girl was gone now. On the outside she looked the same, her dark hair glossy, even swept back in a loose knot at the base of her neck. A neck he’d spent an inordinate amount of time caressing with his lips. He allowed his eyes to rove down her body, over her breasts, which seemed fuller than he remembered. Lower he went, speculating that he could probably still span her waist with his hands. He glanced to her left hand, noticing she no longer wore her wedding ring. He had no claim to Dawn, but he hadn’t liked it when he’d heard she’d gotten married. He’d had an irrational sense of ownership when it had come to her. An ownership he’d forfeited the day he’d left to follow his dreams and not the dreams she’d thought they were heading towards. Still, he’d felt bad for her when he’d heard through a friend of a friend that her husband and son had died.

Realizing he hadn’t answered her question, he pulled his attention back to her. “I don’t know why I’m here, to be honest. My shift finished and I wanted to see if you were okay.”

“Why? We haven’t seen each other in over ten years.”

She was right, Andrew acknowledged. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but the moment he’d looked up from wheeling in the patient and had seen Dawn standing behind the counter, a sense of rightness had come over him.

“True, we haven’t seen each other in a while but that doesn’t mean I can’t come back and say hello. We didn’t get a chance to speak earlier.”

“Because you had just brought in a patient who was in a critical condition.”

“So how about now? Is now a good time for a catch up? Do you want to go grab a quick coffee?”

The invitation coming out of his mouth surprised him. That hadn’t been his plan when he’d dropped back into the hospital. His plan had been to say hi, chat briefly, and then leave. For the rest of his shift, which had been quiet after the accident, he hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind. He should be home in bed as he had another night shift the following evening. But he’d found himself in the hospital parking lot instead.

“Thanks, but no.”

Her refusal wasn’t unexpected but it didn’t mean he’d have to accept it. “Why not? We don’t have to go far, just to the hospital cafeteria.”

He was surprised at the unladylike snort that came out of Dawn. “Have you had hospital coffee? It’s worse than that dinner you tried to cook for me.”

Her comment about their past surprised him, but he did remember that dinner. He’d tried to make some fancy Italian potato dish. Instead of the potato morsels being light and fluffy, they had been as hard as a rock, and the sauce had been so spicy it had burned her tongue. They had laughed about it as they’d eaten the pizza he’d ordered. Andrew remembered what had followed the pizza—they had made love for the first time.

“I remember what followed that disastrous dinner,” he said, his voice a few octaves lower than normal. “It was the best night of my life.”

Andrew watched as a blush stole over Dawn’s face, giving her pale, tired features some color. How he wanted to reach out and sample her lips again. To see if they still tasted as sweet as they had all those years ago. He went to stand, to move to her side. As if sensing his intentions, she got up from the couch she was sitting on and made her way to the door.

“Yes, well, that was a long time ago and things have changed. I’ve changed. You’ve changed. We were kids back then and now we’re adults.”

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t be two old friends catching up after not seeing each other for so long.” With her back to the door, he took advantage of her limited means of escape, and did what he’d wanted to do a few minutes ago—he moved into her personal space. He reached out and touched her cheek, her skin as soft as he remembered it being. “So what do you say Dawn, shall we go get a coffee?”

Andrew stifled a groan as Dawn’s tongue darted out to moisten her lips. His groin tightened, like it remembered what that tongue had done to him. With his thoughts lost on memories and not the present, he wasn’t prepared for the shove when it came. He stumbled back, his arms flailing slightly, trying to get a purchase on the chair he remembered seeing. His arm connected and he gripped the neck rest and regained his balance.

“The answer is no, Andrew. I don’t want to have a coffee with you. Not tonight, not ever.”


“Because I never look back. And you’re my past. So goodbye.”

She was almost out the door before Andrew sprung into action. He reached out and gripped her arm, halting her departure.

“It’s never goodbye, Dawn, more like see you around.”

He watched, dumbfounded, as her eyes appeared to lose all the color and sparkle. They were dull green, instead of the emerald fire he’d seen just seconds ago. She looked so desolate and alone. The look had him releasing his hold on her arm.

“No.” She spoke the word so softly he had to lean forward. “It is goodbye. It’s always goodbye.”

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