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Sudden Response, Page 2

R. L. Mathewson

  him, he shoved him back with his elbow. "I don't swing that way, cupcake."

  "Oh," Greg said, moving back. "Didn't mean to crowd you."

  Eric leaned back as he kept an eye on the store's entrance. This wasn't the best neighborhood, but Joe would kick his ass six ways to Sunday if he tried pulling any of that chauvinistic shit on her. As far as Joe was concerned she was one of the guys. He knew she could handle herself and would tear his head off if she even suspected for a second that he doubted her, which is why he kept his mouth shut and didn't offer to go get that drink for her. He liked his balls right where they were.

  "Hey, um, Eric?"

  "Yeah?" he said, already fearing the guy would try to convince him to let him drive.

  "Joe, is she seeing anyone?" Greg asked as he ran his fingers through his greenish brown hair. The five minutes he shoved his head under the sink faucet hadn't helped.

  "Nope," Eric said, making the word pop.

  "So, you and Joe aren't....," he said leadingly.


  "Do you mind if I go for it?"

  "Nope," he said, knowing the guy would be shot down and how pissed it would make Joe. Joe didn't date doctors or whackers. Yup, this should be very entertaining indeed.


  "Such a tough choice," Joe mumbled as she looked from the Snickers bar to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

  "You should get them both," a low voice said.

  Joe looked over her shoulder and forced a smile as Greg gave her what he probably thought was a sexy grin. Great. This was going to be a fun night. She looked past Greg to find Eric leaning against the door frame, grinning hugely. The bastard set her up. She was so going to kick his ass later.

  It was only the knowledge that she'd done worse to him that kept her from chucking one of the candy bars at his head. He better hope they weren't sent to the Sunflower nursing home tonight. Judy was working and that cougar was completely hot for Eric, much to his horror. She was barely five feet tall and definitely five feet wide, wore more makeup than a drag queen and had no shame when it came to Eric.

  "Shouldn't you guys be in the rig in case we get a call?" she asked casually.

  Eric held up a portable radio. Damn technology! "Got it covered. Already told dispatch we were stepping out," he said cheerfully.

  "So, Joe," Greg said as he picked up a candy bar to study it. "How long have you been an EMT?"

  "About twelve years now," she said, shooting a glare at Eric who had the nerve to wink at her.

  "Wow, twelve years. You must have some pretty amazing stories to tell. Maybe sometime we should get a drink and talk about them?"

  Before she could answer, Eric spoke up. "That sounds like fun. She really likes that bar over on Madison. They have karaoke there every Thursday and Saturday night."

  Greg' smile widened. The poor bastard probably thought Eric was helping him. "Really? You like karaoke?"

  "She loves it," Eric said, wiggling his eyebrows. "You should hear her rendition of 'War,' she totally kicks ass."

  Joe sucked in a breath. That rat bastard! The one time she made the mistake of getting drunk at a frat party and danced on a table taking requests and he was going to throw it in her face? Unbelievable! He was the one that requested that song!

  "So, what do you say?" Greg asked, giving her a cocky grin that he probably thought was irresistible. There was only one man she knew who could pull that grin off without fail and right now he was a rat bastard.

  "Say about what?" she asked, returning her attention back to the candy bars. If she was going to survive this night she was going to need chocolate.

  She heard Eric's soft laughter and discretely flipped him off, making him laugh harder.

  "Tomorrow night? You, me, dinner, dancing, and maybe a little karaoke?" Greg asked smoothly.

  "Not gonna happen tomorrow night, spanky. She has plans with me," Eric announced. Joe wasn't foolish enough to think he was coming to her rescue. Oh no, not Eric. He just didn't want to get stuck with whatever bimbo his mother was throwing his way and had no problem with using her as a shield. If she didn't love Alice, Eric's mother, so much or really love her cooking she'd ditch his ass in a heartbeat.

  "Well, what about this weekend?" Greg asked, sounding a little unsure of himself.

  Oh, this was perfect. She smiled sweetly when she answered, making sure she could see Eric's expression. "I'm sorry. I already have plans for this weekend. I'm going deep sea fishing for three days." She was not disappointed by Eric's reaction.

  "You betraying bitch!" he hissed.

  She winked at him. "You got that right." There were really only a few things in this world that Eric really loved and lived for and deep sea fishing was one of them. His Uncle Brian and grandfather used to take them out several times a year when they were kids and they both loved it. Still did.

  "Echo seventeen?" dispatch called.

  Eric leveled a glare on her as he brought the portable radio up to his mouth. "I'm going," he announced.

  "Nope," she said, loving the power she held over him. Ah, it looked like she was finally going to get some help painting her garage. There wasn't much Eric wouldn't do for a weekend of deep sea fishing.

  "Watch me," he said, before he keyed in. "Echo seventeen."

  "What's your location, echo seventeen?" dispatch asked.

  "East side," Eric answered.

  "Echo seventeen, take a priority one call at 258 Lawson for an assault. Police are already in route."

  "Echo seventeen received, 258 Lawson."

  "Oh my god!" Greg said, shaking. "Oh my god!" He dropped the candy bar, ran for the door, tripped over his own feet, stumbled, but didn't let that stop him from sprinting towards the ambulance and diving in.

  With a pained sigh, Joe put her candy bar back and walked to the door. Eric held it open for her. As they walked towards the ambulance Eric asked, "Where are you going?"

  "Cape Cod."

  "That's a six hour drive," he pointed out.

  "Yup, I'm leaving around four in the morning Friday. I won't be back until late Sunday night, but don't worry I'm sure you'll have fun without me," she said, smiling.

  "Bullshit, I'm going and we both know it," he said, climbing into the passenger seat.

  "Oh my god, oh my god," Greg mumbled from the back.

  Joe climbed in behind the wheel and started the rig. She flicked on the emergency lights and pulled out. She kept one hand on the wheel and the other on the emergency switchboard, switching the sirens from the fog horn to the wailing sound.

  Eric pulled out an emergency run sheet and attached it to his clipboard, ignoring Greg's "oh my gods," which had now turned to pure excitement. The kid was about to start operating on pure adrenaline. No doubt it would make the call more interesting.

  "I'm going," he stated as he filled in the date and their names.

  She maneuvered in and out of traffic with the grace of a pro. "Nope, you're really not."

  "Why not?" he asked.

  "Probably because I didn't invite you?" she said. She really enjoyed messing with him.

  He snorted. "And you think that means something to me? I'm going. End of story."

  "We'll see," she said.

  "Yeah, we will, won't we?" he said confidently as they pulled in behind two police cruisers in front a small yellow house that had seen better days.

  "Echo seventeen on scene," he informed dispatch.

  They stepped out of the ambulance the same time the front door flew open and a naked man wielding a knife ran out. "Fuck you, pigs!" the man yelled as he ran towards them.

  "I'm so going," Eric said before he launched himself at the guy. He grabbed the man's hand and twisted it behind his back, making him drop the knife.

  Joe ignored the man's screams and threats of violence as she kicked the knife away and helped Eric take the guy to the ground. She held the man's legs down while Eric restrained him to the ground.

  Two cops came running towards them from behin
d the house as older officer came out of the house, leading two cuffed, bleeding men towards them. The cops spotted them and grinned.

  "Oh look, Eric and Joe brought us a present," Bret, a cop ten years their senior, said as he shoved the two men in front of him. "Don't worry we brought you something, too," he said, gesturing to the two men under arrest.

  "Oh, Bret, you are just the sweetest man alive," Joe said, giving him a sweet smile that made the older man chuckle.

  "I do what I can. Do you want to look these two over for us?" Bret asked.

  "Sure thing," Eric said. "Just as soon as you take tiny here off our hands."

  The two officers quickly took over. Eric helped Joe to her feet. She pulled out a small bottle of hand sanitizer and squirted some in Eric's waiting hand before taking some for herself.

  "Hey, isn't that your third rider puking?" Jeff, one of the younger cops asked.

  Joe and Eric stilled. Slowly, they turned around and sure enough there was Greg vomiting all over a dead bush.

  Joe sighed heavily as Eric asked on a drawn out sigh, "Why must you embarrass us? At least aim for the perp on the ground."

  Chapter 3

  "How's your stomach?" Joe asked. Eric didn't miss the slight twitch of her lips.

  Greg' face reddened. "It's fine. Just something I ate I think," he said quickly.

  "Uh huh," Eric said, trying not to laugh. The guy puked at all six calls they had. Five hours on the job and the kid still hadn't said one word to a patient. He ended up vomiting every single time they arrived on scene. Then he'd sit up front for the drive to the hospital and remain there sipping a water or ginger ale.

  It would suck for Greg, but there was no way Eric or Joe could sign off on this ride along. The kid wouldn't be getting any credit for this. No doubt Greg would try and argue it to death, but Eric wasn't budging. Yeah it sucked to have to do more ride alongs, but it couldn't be helped. Eric wasn't about to put some patient's life on the line for anything.

  "Alright, gentlemen," she looked at Eric, "and I use that term loosely. I'm going to catch a few winks." She stepped around them and headed into the fire house.

  "I think I should lie down, too," Greg said. Eric didn't miss the look the guy was sending Joe's ass. It also hadn't escaped his notice that Greg swore up and down that he wasn't tired and was going to hang out with the guys until he found out that the three of them shared a bunk room. Once he knew he'd be sleeping in the same room with Joe the guy started up with the fake yawns.

  Joe might be one of the toughest woman he'd ever known, but that didn't mean he stood by and left her to handle shit like this. He never had and never would. As much as it got Joe's panties in a bunch when he stepped in and played her protector, he wouldn't stop.

  She might think of herself as one of the guys, but she wasn't. Joe was a beautiful woman with beautiful hair, killer eyes, and a sexy little smile that drove men nuts. It didn't hurt that she had a killer body, not that she thought so. It really killed him that she didn't know how hot she was. If you tried to tell her she'd laugh her ass off. She was the most down to earth woman he'd ever known. If she wasn't his best friend......

  There really was no point in finishing that thought. She was and it was his job as the man in her life to kick the living shit out of any asshole that hurt her. With that in mind he followed the overeager puppy as he drooled after Joe to the back rooms.

  "There are only two beds, Greg. You'll have to throw some blankets on the floor between the beds or go see if there's a spot on the couch," Joe explained apologetically as she unlaced her black boots.

  Greg eyed the small space between the two beds and fought a smile. He'd be sleeping inches from Joe. Not fucking happening. Eric eyed his unmade bed with his old sleeping bag thrown on top of it and then Joe's. He smiled. Ah, god love her, Joe always put comfort first. There was no sleeping bag for Joe, oh no, not for his Joe. Her bed was already made with what he knew were clean high count cotton sheets, a down comforter and an extra firm pillow.

  Joe pulled off her light blue uniform shirt, leaving her in a very tight white tank top. He could easily see the light baby pink sports bra she wore underneath. Out of the corner of his eyes he caught Greg licking his lips as he stared at her chest and as usual Joe was completely oblivious.

  Why did she have to make his job so fucking difficult?

  "Greg, you can have my bunk," he said.

  "Really?" Greg said, looking even more excited. No doubt the man thought he was about to be left alone with Joe all night, in the dark.

  "Yup, it's all yours," he said.

  "Cool. Thanks," Greg said quickly, taking his boots off and then he chucked his shirt, making sure to flex to show off his flat stomach and slight build.

  Joe mumbled goodnight around a yawn and climbed onto her bed. Greg climbed onto the other bed, keeping his gaze firmly locked on Joe.

  "What happens if we get a call?" he asked absently.

  Eric gestured to the white phone on the wall above Joe's bed. "A really annoying sound will go off and that phone will ring."

  "Oh, okay. If we don't hear it will you come wake us up?" Greg asked, still staring at Joe.

  "Oh, that won't be necessary," Eric said, pulling off his boots.

  "What are you doing?" Greg asked.

  "Getting ready for bed. What does it look like?" Eric asked, not bothering to hide his smile at the man's obvious disappointment.


  He yanked his shirt up over his head and made sure he flexed his much larger muscles. Stupid, but it was a guy thing. He needed to put the scrawny little bastard in his place.

  "Where are you sleeping?" Greg asked nervously.

  "We're double bunking of course," he said, grinning.

  Greg' eyes widened and Eric could have sworn the man was ready to bolt. He reached out and flicked off the light, leaving them in total darkness.

  "Ah," Greg swallowed loudly, "that's really not necessary I don't mind taking the floor."

  "Oh, I don't mind," Eric said. Just for shits and giggles he pressed his foot on Greg' mattress and pushed down, making the guy think he was about to have company.

  The guy actually squealed. In ten seconds flat Greg was off the bed, the door was thrown open, and he was making a mad dash to safety, leaving Eric laughing his ass off.

  "Oh, that wasn't very nice," Joe said, her voice thick with humor.

  He sighed heavily. "Yeah, but it sure did put a smile on my face." He closed the door and walked over to Joe's bed and climbed in behind her.

  "And just what do you think you're doing?" Joe demanded even as she scooted forward to make room for him.

  "Going to bed. What does it look like?" he asked, throwing an arm over her waist.

  "There's a freshly vacated bed right over there," she said sleepily.

  "I like this one better. It's comfy," he said, snuggling up against her.

  She groaned. "Eric, we're not kids anymore. Go sleep in your own bed."

  "Ah, too late, I'm already drifting off," he said, biting back a chuckle as she poked him.



  "If you snore in my ear I'm gonna have to kill you," she pointed out.

  "Duly noted," he said, closing his eyes and snuggling closer to