Rescuing Dawn - Book cover

Rescuing Dawn

Nicole Flockton

Chapter 2

Dawn placed her fingers to her lips, kissed them, then transferred the kiss to the smiling cement cherub sitting atop the tombstone.

“Sleep tight, Brody. Mummy loves you.”

She brushed away a stray leaf, imagining that it was Brody’s baby fine hair. Today it hurt so much more than it had yesterday. Or the day before that. Or the week before that. But today she welcomed the hurt. She was afraid that if she didn’t keep feeling the hurt, she might forget Brody.

She looked over to the left and saw the name “Tom Granger” engraved on the adjoining black, granite tombstone. The granite so cold and bleak, so unlike the warm person that Tom had been. She should’ve loved him more. If she’d had, then maybe…

Stop it.

She wasn’t going to finish that thought. She had loved Tom. Loved his happy, warm personality; he just hadn’t inflamed her like Andrew once had. She had been comfortable in their love and he’d been happy with what she could give him.

She closed her eyes and lifted her face to the sun. The warmth temporarily filled her soul, taking hold of the places that had felt so cold when she’d left the hospital. She knew, one day, she would feel warm all the time. Today she just needed to accept the grief overcoming her. As she sat there with her eyes closed, she could almost hear Tom and Brody’s giggles as they played at bathtime. She smiled, glad that they had each other and were together. Their bond had been instant. But she’d never felt left out; she’d had her own special bond with Brody.

Slowly, another face formed in her mind. Andrew. His smiling blue eyes, teasing her. His face so real she could almost reach out and touch it. Dawn shook her head and opened her eyes, the image of Andrew dissipating like steam from a kettle. Looking around, she saw that she was alone in the cemetery.

Always alone.

With one last touch, she stood and walked away.


Andrew gripped the handrails of the tricep machine and pulled the bar down. His muscles burned from the exertion of pumping weights for the last half an hour. After finishing his last repetition, he picked up his towel and wiped his face. If only it was that easy to wipe away the memories that haunted him.

He never thought that seeing Dawn again would unravel him as much as it did. The last words she’d spoken to him before she’d left the waiting room at the hospital held so much pain. A pain he couldn’t help but wonder if he was responsible for. Had leaving Dawn and their relationship to chase his dream of sailing around the world caused her pain? It didn’t seem likely—he wasn’t the driver of the car that had collided with Dawn’s husband and son. If anything, he’d done her a favor by leaving. She’d moved on and had found a new love.

A love that was taken away from her, again. His conscience yelled the words at him.

“Hey, Holmes, you gonna stand there all day or are you gonna move your ass so someone else can use the machine?”

The voice of his fellow paramedic and partner pushed the thoughts away. Andrew shifted away from the machine. “It’s all yours, Riggs.”

As he walked past his colleague, Andrew lightly punched Riggs’s upper arm. “You may wanna adjust the weights, that puny arm can’t handle five pounds, let alone forty.”

A burst of laughter broke out amongst the crew in the weight room. “Yeah, you’re a real comedian, Holmes.”

Andrew was still laughing as he made his way to the locker room to have a shower and get ready for his next shift. He wondered if he’d get to see Dawn again. He wasn’t going to wish for someone to get hurt, but if it happened he wouldn’t complain. He wondered what her reaction would be if he turned up in the ER and asked her out for coffee again? He knew it would probably be best if he just let it go, but he couldn’t. He wanted to try and make her smile again.


Dawn stifled another yawn that overtook her. She hadn’t been able to get some decent sleep after her visit to the cemetery. Her dreams had been fragmented with images of Tom, Brody, and Andrew, all mixed up, and in each dream she lost every one of them all over again. It was like she was doomed to lose anyone she loved in her life.

The phone rang, bringing her back to the surroundings of the ER. She’d decided when she’d left the cemetery she wasn’t going to let her dark thoughts over take her again.

She picked up the phone when it rang for the third time. “Emergency, this is Dawn.”

She picked up her pen and made a note of what was being told to her. Behind her she heard the pager of the attending resident go off as well. She welcomed the emergency; it would help her keep her focus on the present and not the past.

Dawn hung up the phone and went into the treatment rooms. The resident was speaking to some of the other staff in preparation for what was to come in. As she was listening to the doctor, another thought hit her—what if Andrew was one of the paramedics again? No, the odds of that were slim. He might not even be working a night shift. She was the only person that constantly worked nights, much to the relief of a few of the other staff. No one liked nights.

She took a deep breath as she heard the faint wail of the siren. “Let’s get ready, team.”

Dawn walked out to her desk again, ready for the new arrivals. The doors opened and relief filled her; it wasn’t Andrew’s crew that was coming in.

“Hi guys, what do we have?”

“Hey Dawn, just a fight at a party. Some kids thought they were invincible.”

“Okay, take him through, Dr. Jones is waiting.”

As they wheeled the patient past, Dawn could see the he was bleeding profusely from a wound to the head. Once it was cleaned up it probably wouldn’t be as bad is it looked. She checked the notes she’d made from the phone call. The dispatcher had said there was another victim, but maybe they’d gone to another hospital’s emergency department. She dismissed the thought straight away; they’d had a steady flow of patients all night and weren’t running at capacity.

The doors opened again and Dawn looked up, experiencing a sense of déjà vu. As it had happened last night, in rushed a crew with a patient that appeared to be in a critical condition. Dawn heard the flat-line sound of the heart monitor, and saw a paramedic kneeling over the patient administering CPR.

“What’s the status?” she asked, rushing up to the crew.

“Flat-lined as we were pulling him out of the rig,” Andrew’s voice floated over her, momentarily freezing her thoughts. Her body heating up at the sound of his gruff tone, like she’d sunk into a bath of warm water. Unlike the previous evening, she was in better control of her emotions and snapped herself out of her stupor before it was noticed by anyone.

“Take him straight through to resus one and I’ll call the resident.”

“No need, I’m right here, Dawn.” The resident looked at her. “Can you help me out?”

“Sure,” she said.

She followed at a quick pace as they took the patient into the resus room. She quickly got the crash cart out and switched on the defibrillator, all the while trying to avoid looking at Andrew, who was doing everything in his power to keep the patient alive, his strong arms compressing the chest like it was a plastic bag. There was something primal calling out to her as she watched him fight hard to save the patient. The integral woman-needs-man part of her that had been lying dormant inside of her for so long.

“What are his injuries?” she asked.

“Broken wrist and head trauma, witnesses said he hit his head on the pavement after being punched. He was unconscious at the scene, but he regained consciousness while we were treating him. But as we were getting him out of the rig, his eyes rolled back and he flatlined.

“Dawn, charge to three hundred,” Dr. Jones ordered. The familiar whine of the machine filled the room. “Okay, stop compressions.” Dawn watched Andrew leap off the bed to make way for the doctor. “Clear.”

Dawn took a step back and the doctor placed the paddles on the patient’s chest. The patient’s body jerked in response to the electric charge coursing through him. His heart didn’t respond to the charge.

“Recommence compressions and bagging and recharge to three-fifty.”

Dawn quickly changed the dial on the machine while another nurse manually squeezed the bag that pushed air through the patient’s nose. Andrew once again started pressing down the man’s chest.

“Clear,” the doctor called, and then hit the patient’s chest with the paddles again.

This time a comforting beep beep came from the monitor as the heart started again. Dawn heaved a deep sigh of relief, releasing the tension filling her shoulders. She knew it was part of the job, but she hoped that when this patient’s family arrived she could impart positive news instead of devastating news.

They got the patient stabilized and ready to be transferred to radiology for a scan before being sent to ICU. It looked like the patient was going to make it. It could’ve been much worse if he’d flat-lined en-route to the hospital and not mere yards from the ER.

She walked out of the resus room after tidying it up and making a note of the supplies needed to restock the room.

“Ms. Granger, can we have a word please?”

Dawn looked up and saw a policeman standing in front of her. To his left stood Andrew and his partner. She thought they’d be long gone. Obviously she was wrong.

“Sure, Officer, what can I help you with?”

“We’d like to ask you a few questions with regards to the patients just brought in.”

Dawn looked at the officer and then looked at Andrew, as if he could help her understand why she was being questioned.

“I’m not sure how much help I’ll be. I don’t know the patient personally or the circumstances that caused him to be hurt. It might be best if you spoke to the doctor. I’ll just go get him for you.”

“Thank you,” the officer replied.

Dawn went and got the resident, thinking that would be the end of her involvement. But she still ended up being questioned by the police. When she came out of the resident’s office she saw Andrew standing by the counter. By himself though, it seemed his partner had disappeared. Why hadn’t he left too? Surely he needed to be back at his station in case they had another call out.

“Why are you still here, Andrew?” she asked tiredly, thinking about everything she had to do to and hoping another major emergency didn’t come through the doors.

“I wanted to make sure they didn’t hassle you too much. I thought I told them everything they needed to know.”

Dawn was surprised to hear the frustration in his voice. “Well, I guess they felt a need to ensure they had their facts straight. I’m sure I only repeated what you said. The doctor may give them more information. They were still talking when I left. Besides, we won’t know if it was the punch to the head or him hitting his head on the pavement that caused the head injury. Only a neurologist will be able to make that sort of determination.”

“I’ll never get it, throw one punch in the heat of the moment and it could affect so many lives.”

Dawn knew exactly what he meant. She’d seen a few one-punch deaths. “Yep, so many families affected. People should definitely consider what happens when they have too much to drink.”

She had firsthand knowledge of the effects of alcohol on a person’s life. Her life had been irrevocably changed by the actions of a drunk driver.

“I’m sorry, Dawn.”

Dawn was shocked when in the next instant she found herself wrapped up in Andrew’s embrace. She held herself stiffly for a few seconds before her body recognized the arms that were holding her. She melted into his embrace. For so many years she’d wanted to be held by Andrew again. To wonder if she’d imagined how good it had been. Her memory hadn’t done it justice. Andrew’s arms held the strength of an adult now, not a young man on the cusp of adulthood. She inhaled deeply and her senses filled with the mixture of his musky aftershave and his unique male fragrance. The smell that was essentially him was one she’d never forgotten. She’d only pushed it to the far recesses of her mind. All it had taken was one moment in his arms for the memories to come forward.

She could stay like this all night, she thought. How she’d missed feeling this.

That thought brought her up short. Thoughts of Tom invaded her mind. The guilt that she’d never quite loved Tom as much as she’d loved Andrew. She’d enjoyed Tom’s embraces, but she’d never felt the way she felt right at this moment. Safe, secure—home.

Dawn moved her arms from Andrew’s back to his chest, feeling the steely power of the muscles beneath the crisp cotton of his work shirt. Her fingers scrunched the material, the temptation to slip a couple of buttons free to feel the warmth of his chest strong.

A phone ringing finally penetrated her and she summoned the wherewithal to push against him and take a few steps back.

“What was that for?” she asked, breathless as if she’d run a half marathon and not been standing still for the last few minutes.

“You looked liked you could do with a hug,” Andrew said as if it was the most normal thing in the world to hug a woman you hadn’t seen in ten years.

Dawn ran her hands down her scrub trousers, brushing away nonexistent dirt. She had to keep her hands busy to stop them from reaching out and grabbing Andrew’s arms and encouraging him to hold her again. But she couldn’t let herself get close to him. He’d broken her heart once. In all likelihood he would break it once again. He may be back in Perth but there was no way he’d stay. Sooner or later some other adventure would pop up and he’d jump at the chance to risk his life. Pitting himself against the elements.

She went on the defensive to protect herself. “Well, the next time the urge hits you to hug me, try and control it.” Dawn looked at her watch and saw that there were still three hours left on her shift. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lot to do and I won’t get it done hanging out in the hallway with you.”

Dawn turned to go, when a hand gripped her wrist lightly, preventing her from moving. She didn’t think she could anyway. His one simple touch on her wrist had sent electric shocks pumping through her legs, almost causing them to turn to noodles. That would look great, her collapsing in the ER.

“What time do you finish?” he asked softly, his fingers dancing along her wrist in a tempting waltz.

“Why do you want to know?”

“I wanted to see if you’d like to have a coffee with me.”

Dawn closed her eyes and raised her head to the ceiling, counting to ten before summoning the required strength the pull her hand from his hold and face him. “I believe we had this discussion before. I don’t do coffee after my shift.”

“What about your day off? I’ve got the next four off—even if last night was your first in your night shift rotation, there has to be one day we could catch up. Or when you have days, maybe we can catch up in the evening.”

For the first time since she’d decided she would work the night shift for the foreseeable future, she found herself wavering. Wondering what it would be like to catch up with someone away from work. Most of her friends she’d had worked during the day, not that she saw them much anymore. She’d cut herself off from the world the moment Tom and Brody had died. A decision she’d been more than happy with. Just because Andrew was wanting to see her was no reason for her to reconsider the choices she’d made. It was safer to live her life the way she’d been doing for the last two years. She’d made her decision and her decision was not to get involved again.

“I don’t work day shifts.”

She could see the confusion clouding Andrew’s eyes. It was a look she was used to seeing whenever she told someone she worked the night shift all the time. She braced herself for the usual “What are you, a vampire?” joke to be uttered from his mouth.

“What do you mean you don’t work day shifts?”

Dawn really didn’t want to get into the reasoning for her career choices with Andrew, not tonight. Not ever.

“I only work nights, and before you make some smart ass crack about wondering if I’m a glowing vampire or some other paranormal creature, I made the choice to work nights.”

She shut her mouth quickly before she revealed the real reason to him. Andrew didn’t need to know. All he needed to know was that coffee or drinks or anything else was out of the question.

“That’s a pretty big decision to make, to shut yourself off from everyone. Especially seeing as you’re not even thirty.”

Dawn inhaled, as if she’d been hit in the stomach. His words weren’t ones she hadn’t heard before. But because he’d known how much she’d loved life and loved to be involved with various activities, they way he said it held a bit of censure.

“I like my life just the way it is.”

He seemed to consider what she’d said, like he was weighing up whether it was true or not. Whether there was any validity to it all. As if reaching a decision, he gave a small nod.

“Fair enough, you can chose to live your life any which way you want. But I’d still like to catch up with you—sometime soon.”

Whew, she’d dodged a bullet. But she needed to squash any thoughts or hopes Andrew might be having that she’d be up for a casual fling with him.

“While I appreciate the invitation, the answer is still no.” She looked him in the eyes, reinforcing her words with an unwavering gaze. “It’s been nice to see you, but I’m not going to pick up where we left off. I’m not going to be your convenience while you cool your heels until the next adventure you can’t say no to pops up. So thanks, but no thanks all the same.”

“I only asked you for a coffee, Dawn, not to move in with me. But I do know a hint when I see it.” He sent a devilish look her way. His eyes sparkled and the grin he laid on her could charm the fur off a lion. She should know the danger of that smile; he’d used it on her on many previous occasions. It always spelled trouble and she suspected she wasn’t going to like what he was about to say. “We’ve got a history and I know you. I know how you used to live. Which means, I’m not going to give up on trying to change your mind. See ya around, Dawn.”

With a quick touch to her cheek that left a trail of heat winding its way through her body, he walked away, leaving her speechless.

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