The Firefighter's Fiancé

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Medical Romance

August 2006

ISBN: 0263847470

 

Harlequin Medical Romance

October 2006

ISBN: 9780373065721

From best friends...

Kelsey Watson's life seems to be ticking along just fine. She loves her firefighting job, she's happily single, and she's got a wonderful (and gorgeous) friend, colleague and house-mate in paramedic Matt Fraser.

... to bride-to-be

Then Matt notices that a fierce fire in a primary school affects Kelsey more deeply than she's admitting. As he tries to help her get to the root of her problems, a deeper connection begins to emerge between them that neither of them expects - or knows how to handle!

Also released in the UK as a hardback (June 2006, ISBN: 0263191966) and large print hardback (February 2007, ISBN: 9780263193367). Also released in Australia in paperback (September 2006, ISBN: 0733570232).

 


Behind the Book

I really wanted to write a firefighter book. With a difference - I wanted my firefighter to be female!

I also really love writing 'best friend' stories - the ones where best friends suddenly realise they're in love, but there are complications... So we have paramedic Matt Fraser, who's vowed to stay single after his ex-fiancée made him choose between her and her job, and firefighter Kelsey Watson, who's also vowed to stay single after the car accident that cost her her fiancé.

It's not until Kelsey has a heartstrings case which gives her post-traumatic stress disorder that Matt realises how he really feels about her. But how is he going to persuade Kelsey to let him close enough to heal her hurt?

My original ending involved an armed rescue. My editor absolutely hated it and made me rewrite it. I spent half a day panicking about how I could get my hero and heroine together... and then it hit me. Mirror the internal conflict. So I did. And my ed described it as 'heartrending'. (OK, OK, I admit I like writing weepies!)

It's dedicated to the Blue Watch at Bethel Street fire station, who were kind enough to show me round the engines and chat to me about what it's like to be a firefighter. They also ran through my scenarios with me and nixed the ones that wouldn't work - cheers, guys (and girl!).

Just for a change, my heroine hates cooking. My hero, on the other hand, is a whizz in the kitchen. So the recipe from this book is Moroccan chicken, which is one of my favourites. Very nice with couscous.

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

The familiar warble burst into the air, then the Tannoy announced, 'Turnout, vehicle 57, RTC. Lorry and car, driver trapped.'

RTC. Three little letters that had blown Kelsey's life apart. Changed it completely. Had it not happened, she'd have been a maths teacher by now. Married, maybe with a child.

But it hadhappened.

Five years ago. The driver of the car on the other side of the road had been concentrating on his mobile phone instead of the road and hit their car head on. Kelsey had walked away without even a scratch, whereas her fiancé Danny had been rushed to hospital, with surgeons tutting at the foot of his bed and saying he'd be lucky to make it. She'd sat by his bedside for days, not sure if he'd ever come to.

And then he'd squeezed her hand.

She'd cried with relief, sure that everything was going to be OK and it was the beginning of the long road back to normal. . . But the day the doctors had told Danny he'd never walk again and he'd spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, he'd asked Kelsey to return his ring. Hadn't accepted that the wheelchair made no difference, in her eyes. 'I don't know what I want any more, Kelsey. I don't know who I am any more.'

She knew who he was. The love of her life. The man she'd wanted to support back to health. The man she should have nursed back to health.

But he hadn't let her. She hadn't been enough for him. 'I care about you, Kelsey. I always will. But I don't want to get married to you any more. I need. . .' He'd shaken his head. 'I don't know what I need.'

Whatever, it wasn't her. And Danny pushed her out of his life. Nothing she said or did was able to change his mind. Their parents, their friends: nobody was able to get through to him. It was over and he wanted her to walk away.

And in the end she had to accept it. Accept that she wasn't what he wanted any more. That he needed to adjust to his new life, and she wasn't going to be part of it.

She wasn't able to face carrying out the rest of their plans on her own. The life they'd intended. So she sold their house, split the proceeds with Danny. And she walked out of her teacher training course. Being a maths teacher would have reminded her too much of the life they'd planned together. So she applied to train for something completely different. Something that would make a difference.

She became a firefighter.

A good one.

Payback, in her eyes, for having her own life saved.

Every time she heard the call over the Tannoy saying it was an RTC, it still sent adrenalin coursing through her veins. Brought back the memories, the shaky feeling, the fear that she wouldn't get out alive. But every time she shoved the emotions back where they belonged. In the past. Because she had a job to do.

The same job she needed to do right now.

Kelsey was the nearest to the fax machine, so she ripped off the top copy and headed straight for her fire engine. The rest of the crew were sliding down the pole from the mess room and getting into their firefighting gear, which was set out ready by the doors of the fire engine - the jackets hung up, the boots ready to be stepped into and the trousers neatly rolled down round them, so they didn't have to waste time getting things in the right order. It was a routine she knew well - one she'd practised in drill after drill, and done plenty of times before real emergency calls. She kicked off her shoes and stepped into her boots, pulled her trousers up, shrugged on her jacket and climbed into her place in the rear of the engine.

Ray, the station manager, was already in the front seat, tapping into the computer. Kelsey handed him the fax and he scanned it, taking in the map reference and details. 'Another driver's called us, the police and the ambulance. Nothing about any other casualties or what sort of state the road's in. Better put your PPE and conspicuity surcoats on now,' he said to the crew. Joe, being the driver, was exempt until they'd stopped - then he'd need to put on the gear before he got out onto the carriageway.

'What's the plan, guv?' Kelsey asked.

'If the police get there first, they can set up traffic diversion. If we're there first, we need the "police accident" sign up while I do the risk assessment,' Ray said. 'Kelsey, you're the one with ALS training.'

As well as doing an advanced life support course, she shared a house with Matt, a paramedic, which meant she'd picked up a fair bit about casualty management.

'If the ambo team aren't there, I'll need you to check out the casualties,' Ray added.

'Sure, guv.' Kelsey nodded.

'Road conditions good,' Ray reported back to control. 'Visibility fine.'

So it wasn't ice or fog or heavy rain that had caused the crash. It was a summer afternoon, and the sun wasn't yet low enough to dazzle a driver. So Kelsey's best guess would be speed. That, or someone deciding to ignore the law and use a mobile phone without a hands-free kit - and then discovering the hard way that you couldn't use a phone and drive safely at the same time.

Something she already knew, from extremely bitter experience.

She pushed the thoughts aside and concentrated on her job.

It turned out that the fire crew were the first on the scene. Joe parked on the side in front of the crashed lorry; Ray, as the officer in charge, did the risk assessment and radioed back to base. 'Dual carriageway, bit of a tailback but access is fine on the main road. Other carriageway fine, just the usual rubber-necking. No injured casualties on the carriageway. We're going to check the vehicles now. No hazardous materials being carried that we know of. Some fuel spillage that needs containing.'

Ray directed his crew to contain and absorb the fuel spillage, and lay out the firefighting equipment to cover the area. 'Brains, can you check the casualties and report back?'

'Sure, guv.' Kelsey smiled back at him, not minding the nickname. The crew had chosen it once they'd found out what she'd done before she became a firefighter - and it told her that she was accepted. Part of the team.

The lorry driver was shaking, clearly in shock, and Kelsey took the space blanket from their limited medical kit and put it round his shoulders. 'OK, love. The ambulance will be here soon. Any pain I need to tell the medics about when they get here?'

'No, I'm all right. But, oh, God. The other driver. . .' He shuddered. 'I can still feel his car going under my wheels.'

'What happened?' she asked gently.

The lorry driver shook his head. 'The road's clear. I dunno. I was doing sixty. Everything was fine. He must have been going past me, in my blind spot - next thing I knew, he was. . .' The driver choked.

Kelsey glanced at the carriageway. From the pattern of skidmarks and the dent in the central reservation, it looked as if the driver had hit the barrier, spun round and ricocheted back into the path of the lorry.

'OK, love. Come and sit down at the side of the road. Take a deep breath for me. And another. That's right.' She guided him to a safe waiting place. 'The medics'll be here any minute now. I'm just going to take a look at the car and see what I can do for the driver, OK? But someone will be here to see you very, very soon. If you need anything, come and see one of us, but make sure you stay on the hard shoulder, where it's safe.'

'My wife. I ought to. . .' He swallowed hard.

Kelsey guessed what he was trying to say. 'We'll get in contact with her for you, love. Soon as the police are here. Don't use your radio or mobile phone here, will you? Fire risk,' she said economically. There was a ten-metre exclusion zone from the incident for using radios or mobile phones; a spark could ignite any leaking fuel. She patted his shoulder. 'Back with you in a bit, OK?'

She steeled herself for a closer look at the car. No way was the driver going to get out of the car and walk away without a scratch. But at least there wasn't a bull's-eye on the windscreen, so either his airbag had kicked in or he'd just been lucky and hadn't hit the screen head first.

There wasn't a huge amount she could do before the ambulance arrived. But she could go through the basics - the course she'd taken plus what she'd learned from Matt would help.

ABCDE, she reminded herself. Work through it. The same way Matt did. Airway, breathing, circulation, disability, exposure.

She could see that the driver's door was jammed but tried it anyway. No luck. Same with the passenger's side. But she could at least get into the back - once the car was stabilised. From the damage to the car, she thought there was a high risk of the driver having some sort of cervical spine injury, so they needed to make sure the car didn't move.

She opened the rear door on the driver's side so she could at least talk to him. 'I'm Kelsey, one of the fire crew,' she said. 'The ambulance is on its way. What's your name, love?'

'Harvey.'

Good. He could speak. So his airway was clear, not blocked with blood or vomit. His breathing seemed a bit shallow; she couldn't get a proper look to see if he was losing any blood or had circulation problems; but he'd managed to answer a question and sounded lucid, so that ticked off 'disability' because there weren't any immediate neurological problems. Exposure, so they could see the extent of his injuries. . . Well, that would have to wait until they'd cut him out. Even an experienced paramedic like Matt would find it tough to get the driver out of this space, so the odds were they'd have to use the hydraulic equipment - known as a Hurst, but they'd all been told to use the longer name because in the muffled environment of a crash vehicle the short name sounded more like 'hearse' and terrified the casualties.

'Can you tell me if you've got any pain?' she asked.

'My neck,' he said.

Could be whiplash; could be a spinal injury. She made a mental note to tell the paramedics. 'As soon as the ambulance is here, we'll get a collar on you and get you out.'

'My legs. Hurt.'

Well, that was good. It was when they didn't feel pain that she was worried: because that meant there was likely to be damage to the nerves. 'We'll get you out of here soon. Can you remember what happened?'

'No.'

OK. She'd leave that one for the police to sort out. 'Any passengers in the car?' she asked.

'No, just me,' Harvey said.

Which meant they wouldn't have to do a search and rescue: that was a relief. 'I'm going to talk to my station manager about the best way to get you out. I'll be back as soon as I can, OK?'

'Don't leave me.' His breath hitched. 'Please, don't leave me here. I - I don't want to be alone. Please.'

She slid a hand through the gap between the door and the seat and touched his face, comforting him. 'Hey. I'll be back before you know it. Promise. We'll get you out of there, love.'

Ray was already assessing the vehicle when she went to report to him. 'Lorry driver's in shock and sitting on the hard shoulder with a space blanket; car driver possible c-spine injury, query crush injuries but at the moment he can feel his legs. I can't get into the front on either side.'

'OK. When the ambo crew's here, we'll see whether they can work with what they have or if they need us to open the car. We'll stabilise the vehicle for now.'

'I'll keep talking to him,' Kelsey said. 'Let him know what's going on.'

She'd just leaned into the back of the car and reassured Harvey that they were going to make the care safe so it wouldn't move and jolt him or cause him further injury, when a hand rested in the dip of her back. A touch she recognised. A touch which melted away her tension.

'I wondered if you'd be here. How's it going, Kels?'

Kelsey felt a jolt of pleasure as she heard Matt's voice. All the paramedics she worked with were good, but Matt had something extra. And it wasn't just bias because she'd shared a house with him for eighteen months and he was officially her best friend. There was something about him. Something calming - as if he could take the weight of the whole world and keep you safe, and still keep smiling. Right now, he was the person she wanted to see more than anyone else in the world.

From the book The Firefighter's Fiancé by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Publication Date: August 2006
ISBN: 0263847470
Copyright © 2003 by Pamela Brooks
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to http://www.eHarlequin.com

Like what you read? Order It

Order it from Amazon.co.uk.

More recent titles are also available from Mills & Boon UK, eHarlequin.com, and Harlequin Australia.

Reviews

From Cataromance: emotional, dramatic and enthralling from the first page till the very last - 4.5 stars

Kate Hardy never fails to touch her readers' hearts with her wonderful stories and The Firefighter's Fiancé is no exception. Peopled with characters that are impossible not to care about and containing plenty of moments which will tug at your heartstrings and make you weep buckets, this engrossing romance is an emotional rollercoaster ride which you will devour in a single sitting!

From Coffee Time Romance:

This is an awesome tale of one woman's journey of finding herself. Sometimes in life it takes something major to happen before we open our eyes and see what and who is around us. That is what happens with Kelsey, and I loved how Ms. Hardy created the perfect mate for this heroine. Sensual love scenes are in creating a strong romantic bond. This is a warm and wonderful story.

What they're saying on e-Harlequin:

  • Hardy gave us both Kelsey and Matt's point of view, showing us how their insecurities from the past and the very real fear of losing their friendship keep them for reaching for the stars. There's a lot of story packed into these 185 pages. And it's a phenomenal one at that!

Stories by Kate Hardy with emergency department settings

 

Home Bio Books Blog Press Tips Food of Love

Copyright © 2002-16 Kate Hardy

Harlequin Mills & Boon book covers © Copyright 2002-2016
by Harlequin Books, S.A.
® and TM are trademarks of the publisher.

Website design by HR Web Concepts