I licked it. So it’s mine.
—Fact of life
“You’ll need to make sure you get to the house by six if you want to make it on time for dinner,” my father said tiredly. “You know how your mother gets when you don’t show up on time.”
I did know how my mother got.
Irrational is what she got.
It’s as if she hadn’t been married to a doctor for the last thirty years.
I can’t name one single time that my father got to any event on time, whether it be a birthday, vacation, sporting event, graduation, or hell, even a fucking birth.
Not one time had I seen her lose it over my father being late, but her baby boy was late and suddenly the whole world stopped.
“I’ll try to be on time,” I told him. “But I’m not promising anything. I have to work until five thirty; it takes nearly thirty minutes to get to your house from the station. And that’s if I leave on time. I told her to make sure she held the party later, but she wouldn’t listen.”
“Joslin wanted six,” my father told me hesitantly, opening the door to his office. “And that’s when Dean could be there.”
I squeezed my hands tightly into fists, trying my hardest to not punch a hole in the wall with my fist.
I had no earthly idea why my mother continued to invite my ex-wife.
Dean was at least my fuckin’ brother, and I could understand why he’d have to be there.
It was as if my mom didn’t care that Joslin was no longer married to me. Usually the family chooses the child over the child’s ex.
We were together for a little over a year and a half when I found out she’d cheated.
Granted, the reason she’d cheated had been my fault, or so she’d said, but that still didn’t give her the right to do that to me.
We’d taken vows. And I’d at least meant them.
Refraining from saying, ‘Fuck Joslin,’ I walked to the side doors of the hospital and to the ambulance bay with my father.
“I see,” I settled on.
My father’s face looked pensive, as if he wanted to say something, but didn’t know how to say it.
“Michael, I need to tell you something…” my father started.
I would’ve stayed to listen, but the mic at my shoulder started squawking.
“The nearest unit is needed at 5543 Pleasant Circle. Possible double homicide,” the dispatcher ordered.
Sighing, I turned and offered my hand to my pop.
“Gotta go, dad. I’ll try my hardest to get there on time, but I’m not promising anything,” I told him.
He nodded, looking for the world like he was upset that he hadn’t said what he had to say, and shook my hand before saying, “Be safe.”
My father, like my mother, hadn’t liked that I’d chosen to go into law enforcement.
They’d spent thousands and thousands of dollars to get me through medical school only for me to quit to join the Navy.
Once in the Navy, I’d continued my schooling. After I’d finished, and then got medically discharged due to some slight nerve damage in my left foot from a bomb exploding, did I decided that the medical field wasn’t really something I was much interested in anymore.
Which had pissed both my mother and father off.
But I’d hated it.
I’d only done medical school because it was expected.
None of my family could understand why I’d quit.
My mother was a nurse. My father was a doctor. My brother was a doctor, and my sister was a nurse.
They couldn’t see past the fact that I was happy. They could only see the millions of dollars I was flushing down the drain to be a SWAT officer.
Not to mention they were hardcore Democrats, and I was most definitely not.
My mind, however, screeched to a halt as I saw her.
She had long, rich brown hair, beautiful brown eyes, and stunning caramel skin.
Today, she was in her scrubs.
A dark gray color that, although it should look incredibly ugly, didn’t.
She was a phlebotomist and on the IV team. A licensed paramedic that worked as a tech in the ER. She went around doing IVs throughout the hospital, but mostly stayed down in the ER where she was needed the most.
She was also studying to be a midwife, and from what I’d learned from Nico, her brother and another member of the SWAT team, she was well on her way to graduating.
I was in love with the woman.
No if’s, and’s, or but’s.
So in love with her that I could barely be around her.
She was in love with me, too…or had been when we’d first met.
But I’d ruined that, like I always ruined every-fucking-thing.
See, I was an asshole.
A diagnosed asshole, but an asshole nonetheless.
I was bi-polar.
I take my meds religiously.
Yet, there were times…like when I told Nikki that I didn’t want to have kids with her… that the asshole slipped through, and took hold of innocent people, tearing apart relationships as collateral damage.
I’d not meant it to come out that way.
I’d actually meant it to come out the opposite way entirely.
I didn’t want to have kids fathered by me.
I didn’t want my children to suffer from what I had.
Being bi-polar was only the tip of the iceberg.
I battled with depression during the winter months.
I had ADD.
And swear to Christ I didn’t want to put a kid through that.
I was a prime example of a person that shouldn’t have kids.
But I was Nikki’s, even if Nikki wasn’t mine. At least not anymore.
She would forever have my heart, but I’d never hold hers.
It was better this way.
I was so fucked up that I literally couldn’t handle anymore.
And I didn’t want a woman like Nikki, someone so pure of heart, to have to deal with my shit. Because there sure the fuck was a lot of it.
Watching her until she went inside, I finally pulled out of the parking lot and responded to the suspected double homicide.
And once again it reemphasized the fact that some people really shouldn’t have kids.
Pulling into the yard that housed a double wide trailer, I walked up to the front door where an elderly couple was standing.
The old man had his hands wrapped around the old woman’s shoulders, and he was holding her comfortingly.
As if, if he were not careful, she might very well fall apart.
Stepping out of my cruiser, my feet crunched in the gravel.
As I made my way to them, I took a survey of my surroundings.
The land surrounding the trailer was clean and well kept.
Flowers lined the sides of the mobile home with red bricks surrounding the flower bed.
A bass boat sat to the side underneath an awning, with a trailer that had two four wheelers on the back ready to ride to the dear lease at a moment’s notice.
An infant swing swung on the front porch, being pushed by nothing more than the wind.
And I got a really, really bad feeling.
The moment I got within speaking distance, both of them started speaking at once.
“They’re dead!” The woman cried, covering her mouth with her hand.
“Shot her, and them himself,” the man said gruffly. “The baby too. We didn’t touch anything.”
Bile already making the climb up my throat, I said, “Please go stand next to my cruiser.”
They both readily complied, and I was thankful.
I could tell that the man was a hard man.
He had a Marine Corps tattoo on his right forearm, and what distinctly resembled a knife wound just above that.
His eyes were hard and his demeanor even harder.
But whatever he saw inside had rocked him.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped over the threshold of the mobile home, and immediately turned around to lose my lunch over the side of the porch.
I’m not ashamed I have a heart.
But any man would’ve lost it over what I’d just seen.
Taking a few deep breaths, I said a silent prayer, and once again stepped over the threshold.
This time I was able to take in more of the scene.
Earlier I’d stalled over the child.
This time I was able to move past the child that was in front of a sliding glass door across the room to the man that crumpled against the far counter.
He was on his ass, a revolver had fallen just to the right of his hand.
He had a large hole at the top of his head where the bullet had exited.
Moving past him, I saw the legs of a woman on the other side of the island.
Walking carefully into the room, I skirted around the island and closed my eyes the moment I saw the woman.
She was beautiful. Long blonde hair laid around her in a halo. Cute skirt and skin tight top clinging closely to a very pregnant belly.
“Fuck me,” I breathed, dropping down to my knees.
Although I knew it was futile, I checked for a pulse on each of the parents.
But Rigor Mortis had already set in; I knew they were gone the moment my fingers met their skin.
Really not wanting to check the child, but knowing I had to do it anyway, I walked carefully over to the baby.
He was dressed in a red onesie that had little puppy dog prints on it.
His little feet were covered in a tiny pair of red socks, and I found myself thankful.
It masked the sheer amount of blood that was surrounding him.
His and his mother’s were mingling, and you couldn’t tell whose was whose.
But as my fingers met his cool skin, and I felt the rapid beat of his pulse, my whole body froze in shock.
He was alive!
Mother fucker he was alive.
He had a gunshot wound to his face, but he was alive!
Scooping him up, I placed him gently over my shoulder and started sprinting out the door.
I was thankful as hell to see that Bennett, another member of the SWAT team and fellow officer, was pulling into the driveway.
He saw me coming and his eyes flared.
I didn’t waste a second, however.
I ran to his passenger side door, fell inside, and said, “Drive!”
He drove, and the last thing I saw before I turned my attention to the little boy in my arms was the horrified looks on the two elderly people as we peeled out of the driveway, spraying dirt and gravel in our wake.
“Why aren’t we waiting for the ambulance?” Bennett yelled, taking a corner going way too fast.
“Because we’re two minutes tops from the hospital, and it’ll take the ambulance at least five to get to where we are. It’s easier and faster to drive, and this baby may not have that long,” I told him honestly.
He didn’t say another word, and I didn’t either.
Damaged women are strong. And crazy. Don’t forget crazy.
“Nikki!” Lennox called from the nurse’s station.
I looked up from the man I was currently getting an IV on, and raised by brows at her in question.
“Nikki, Paxton’s going to get that IV for you. I need a hand. Now,” Lennox ordered.
Her eyes were haunted, and I swallowed at the look.
What the hell was going on?
I’d felt it the moment that the trauma had come in.
The entire room had gone into overdrive.
Not one to usually participate in trauma’s due to my lack of credentials, I stayed out of the way, helping where I was needed.
Handing off the IV for Paxton to tape and finish up, I patted the man’s hand and hurried around the foot of the bed.
My first indication that something was seriously wrong was when I walked into the room and saw a man’s black booted feet at the end of the exam table bending over the foot of the end of the gurney.
Then I followed it up to see the cargo pants that KPD wore.
But what really gave me pause was the fact that the man wore long sleeves.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, wore long sleeves in the middle of a Texas summer.
Unless your name was Michael ‘Saint’ Perez.
“What do you need?” I managed to ask Lennox, looking away.
I’d yet to see what was on the gurney, but I knew it was bad.
Michael’s entire body was shielding whatever it was, and I knew it would be bad before I rounded the end of the gurney.
“I need you to get an IV in him,” she said softly.
That’s when Michael moved, and I nearly lost my legs out from under me.
“Sweet Mary mother of God,” I whispered in devastation.
Michael’s eyes were blank.
No emotion in them whatsoever.
But I could tell he wasn’t doing it because of me.
He was doing it because he knew that if he showed even the least bit of emotion, he’d lose it. Just like I was about to do.
Taking a page from his book, I steeled up my defenses and said, “22 gauge.”
Then I went to work on getting an IV in a baby less than ten months old, with quite a bit of blood loss, and a gunshot wound to his head.
All the while Michael, the man I’d been in love with for over two years, watched me, holding a kid in his arms and talking to him like he was his father.
Heart panging, I found a vein, and started an IV.
I’d done it many times, and it was rare that I missed.
Once the access was started, I backed away, watching as the trauma team descended in mass.
Michael, though, didn’t leave.
Even when his ex-wife showed up and pressed her entire body against his to get a fucking gauze pad when she could’ve gotten one out of her pocket.
God, she made my life a living hell.
Literally, day after day she made it a point to torture me, and I didn’t know why.
She didn’t know that I liked Michael.
Hell, only a few people knew that I even knew him.
What Joslin didn’t like about me was the fact that everyone liked me.
I was, by nature, a nice person.
I got along with everyone. I was a team player, and I could work with damn near anyone.
Her, though, I couldn’t work with.
Not only because she refused to, but because she hated me and I refused to torture myself.
So when she started to push in close to Michael, I wanted to smack the hell out of her.
But, as the professional that I was, I backed out of the room, and turned to see where I was needed.
I was the newest ER Tech.
I was a licensed paramedic.
But a paramedic that couldn’t be in an ambulance because I got motion sickness.
Something I’d not figured out until I’d taken my first job.
Lucky for me, I was starting with another licensed paramedic to watch over me, because I spent my entire time puking, effectively ending my career before it’d even started.
I’d completely disregarded the medical field after that, going back to my father’s office where I’d been a secretary, with my tail tucked between my legs.
But when my best friend, Georgia, came back into town, she convinced me to give it another chance, and here I was, on the IV team and being a helpful person in any way I could.
“What happened?” I heard asked from behind me.
I saw Paxton, a PA that worked with us, looking at the room that I’d just managed to get the hell out of.
“Gunshot wound to the head,” I whispered, trying really hard to forget, yet not managing to accomplish that very well.
“Fuck me,” Paxton breathed.
I liked Paxton.
He was a very sexy man with dark brown hair that curled over his ears, and a beautiful blue set of eyes that could make any person’s heart start to flutter.
His heart only fluttered for men, though.
Specifically, his significant other that he’d met just a few months ago through a mutual friend of the two.
“Yep,” I said, turning away and washing my hands in the sink that sat right next to the exit that the paramedics used to transfer patients in and out. “I’m going to run to Starbuck’s. Want anything?”
Paxton shook his head.
“Nah, I just had a candy bar. My ass can’t take any more calories today,” he said sheepishly.
I rolled my eyes.
My ass definitely couldn’t take it either, yet I couldn’t find it in me to give a shit at the moment.
I definitely took after my curvy mother.
I had what my sisters’ liked to call ‘child bearing hips.’
Big boobs, big hips, toned thighs (that, might I add, were still on the bigger side of acceptable) and a chin that was questionably close to what they called ‘double.’
My friends and family didn’t see what I saw, the imperfections.
They said I was beautiful.
I said I was chunky.
Don’t ask me why I did what I did next.
It could’ve been because I was crazy. Or it could’ve been because I knew he needed it, but I did it with no ulterior motives.
“I want a twenty ounce amaretto latte, and a twenty eight ounce black Americano,” I ordered.
She young teen smiled, busying herself steaming my milk and shaking cinnamon sprinkles on my frothy milk that collected at the top of the drink.
“That’ll be eight fifty,” she said, holding out her hand.
I shoved a ten in her hand and said, “Keep the change.”
She smiled. “Thank you.”
Taking my two coffees, I walked back down the hallway to the ER. When I turned the final corner that would take me into the ER, I ran straight into a brick wall of flesh.
Instinctively, I lifted my hands up to save the coffee, and inadvertently padded my collision with my breasts which pressed up against a hard, well defined chest. They instantly pebbled.
“Oh!” I said in surprise.
“Fuck,” a deep voice hissed out, hands moving to my hips to keep me steady.
That voice always had the capability to send shivers down my spine.
“Michael,” I breathed, smiling timidly at him.
“Nik,” he sighed. “Sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
Bringing my cups down, I stepped back, and instantly regretted the loss of his heat.