The Playboy Firefighter's Proposalñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
‘Come here and I’ll show you again just how perfect you are.’
He pulled her into his arms, sliding his hands under her T-shirt as he kissed her, leaving her head spinning. He hadn’t rejected her. He’d called her perfect. In wonder, she kissed him back while her body melted beneath his touch. Thoughts twirled in her mind until, out of the kaleidoscope of images and words, one truth emerged and flashed behind her closed lids: she was in love with Ned. She was in love with this gorgeous, thoughtful daredevil of a sweet-talking firefighter.
And although she was still scared, although it had been years since a man—or anyone except her sister—had seen her naked, the shock of her realisation was enough to jolt her into action as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. He hadn’t rejected her—and from the way he was talking would it be so very foolish to start hoping this might be more than a one-night stand?
Emily Forbes is the pseudonym of two sisters who share both a passion for writing and a life-long love of reading. Beyond books and their families, their interests include cooking (food is a recurring theme in their books!), learning languages, playing the piano and netball, as well as an addiction to travel—armchair is fine, but anything involving a plane ticket is better. Home for both is South Australia, where they live three minutes apart with their husbands and four young children. With backgrounds in business administration, law, arts, clinical psychology and physiotherapy, they have worked in many areas. This past professional experience adds to their writing in many ways: legal dilemmas, psychological ordeals and business scandals are all intermeshed with the medical settings of their stories. And, since nothing could ever be as delicious as spending their days telling the stories of gorgeous heroes and spirited heroines, they are eternally grateful their mutual dream of writing for a living came true.
They would love you to visit and keep up to date with current news and future releases at the Medical™ Romance authors’ website: http://www.medicalromance.com/
Recent titles by the same author:
WEDDING AT PELICAN BEACH
THE SURGEON’S LONGED-FOR BRIDE A MOTHER IN THE MAKING EMERGENCY AT PELICAN BEACH
Life is full of competing wants, needs and desires: having designs on that chocolate versus knowing we’ve vowed to resist temptation; wanting to stay home on the couch in our slippers when we’ve already accepted an invitation.
So it’s vital that sometimes life makes things easy, with no debate about what we should do. No internal struggle. No guilt. Just pleasure.
It’s in whole-hearted support of this Pleasure Principle that I give you Ned Kellaway, the charismatic firefighting hero of THE PLAYBOY FIREFIGHTER’S PROPOSAL.
If you’ve read my last book, EMERGENCY: WIFE NEEDED, you’ve already made Ned’s acquaintance.
Ned is a shameless playboy with a life-is-for-the-living attitude, and—I admit it—I was his from the first. I just had to spend more time with him.
Ned was born with a thirst for all things action. He’s the team leader for the Fire Service’s Emergency Response team. Built to make any girl feel protected, he’s also scorching in the looks department. And, although no woman has been able to get inside his head, none are complaining about getting inside his bed. It’s going to take a pretty special woman to make him question his playboy lifestyle and get him to face his own past. Is Sarah Richardson, emergency consultant, the woman to do it?
So grab some chocolate, find somewhere cosy, turn the page and meet Ned Kellaway. And when you’re interrupted, as you surely will be, ignore all demands and put your nose back in the book! Trust me, the right to indulge in a book is definitely enshrined as a Pleasure Principle.
My darling littlest daughter, you came into our lives just as this book was being finished, so it’s only right this one is for you. We waited a long time for you, and the moment we saw you it all made sense: we were meant to be together. You have enriched our world in so many ways already, daily bringing us joy and sunshine and laughter. May the future shower you with every blessing and may you always know how very dear you are to all of us and how greatly you are loved.
From my heart to yours and back again,
Your loving Mummy
NED KELLAWAY scanned the racecourse from his vantage point in the grandstand, absorbing the impact as the disarray grew before his eyes. It was chaos, utter chaos, and far worse than he’d anticipated.
He was loving every minute of it.
He’d love it even more if he could get down there into the thick of things. Instead, when the emergency services and medical response teams arrived on site, he’d have to sit back and watch as they responded to the crisis. ‘Sit back and watch’were not words in his vocabulary.
His gaze swept the area again as he marvelled at how all his planning had successfully brought this to fruition. Littering the ground in front of him were dozens and dozens of prostrate bodies, some immobile, many struggling to their feet, most bloodied. Voices carried up to him on the breeze as people called out in pain. Just as many were lying silently.
The adrenalin coursing through his body made it an almost impossible feat to simply stand and observe. The mass casualties would require medical attention and there were fatalities, too, requiring a response of a different sort. He mentally checked off the list of things that needed to happen, including the task of overseeing the rollout of all the emergency response teams, a role that would normally be his since his skills in this area were second to none. Today, his expertise was exactly the reason why he wasn’t down there, taking control. He was needed for another task. But that didn’t mean he was finding it easy, sitting here, excluded from the action, prevented from taking control and restoring order, watching someone else do his job.
In the midst of the chaos was a fifty-seater bus, now containing considerably fewer than fifty seats, and this drew his focus. The bus’s left-hand side had been ripped open by the force of the explosion, the metal casing peeled back like a tin can, its interior exposed. Above the back wheels, where there should have been a row of seats, was a gaping hole. Luggage was strewn on the ground around the bus and lying amongst the bags were the injured passengers.
In the time Ned had taken to process the scene a few passengers had gathered their wits and were now moving between the prone figures. It wasn’t clear if they were trying to offer assistance, staggering about in shock or simply searching for people lost in the confusion.
To his right, a second bomb had detonated inside the bus terminal and more people were pouring out of the building, further congesting the space around the damaged bus. Visibility was compromised by smoke, a fact that would create another set of problems for the emergency teams.
The noise was increasing now as people realised what had happened. Voices rang out, yelling over the top of one another in an effort to be heard, growing louder and more desperate as the seconds ticked on.
Ned took a deep breath, anticipation of the imminent arrival of the emergency service vehicles sending more adrenalin through his system. He rubbed his hands over his head, leaving his short hair sticking up at all angles, as he cast his gaze across the scene once more.
And then he heard sirens. The bomb victims heard them too and ceased their yelling momentarily as they listened to confirm the sound.
The emergency personnel were on their way.
The first crews to arrive would be from the fire department. He glanced at the stopwatch in his hand, timing the response. Getting here quickly was the easy part—the real tests were all in front of the men and women hurtling towards the racecourse, with scant knowledge as to what they’d be facing on arrival.
But from where he was standing, having to watch was a hundred times harder than dealing with disaster hands on.
Sarah stood a couple of rows behind the others. She needed the extra height and it was the only way to get it since stiletto heels weren’t an option in her line of work. If ever she was keen for a view, it was today, to watch the planned event unfold. With her clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other, she stood rocking on her heels on the top step, clicking the pen on and off as she watched the scene below. Most of the bomb victims were milling around in a dazed manner. It wasn’t easy for her as a trained emergency doctor to sit back and observe but today that’s what her job was. As part of the team who’d put this training exercise together, it was her role to instruct the medical members of the first responder unit, those men and women who were the first emergency personnel on the scene at any disasters classed as CBR—chemical, biological or radiological—incidents.
And there was no use pretending she wasn’t just as aware of Ned Kellaway. It didn’t escape her notice that he, like her, had tilted his head a touch to the side as the sirens became audible. It didn’t escape her notice that he was as focused, professional and in control as she’d have expected from the man she’d come to know a little over these last weeks as they’d worked together to bring today to fruition. And it didn’t escape her notice that, despite all this, he was as breathtakingly charismatic as ever. If anything, these surroundings only added to his many attractions. It must be the whole men-in-uniform thing, she told herself, so as not to be too badly distracted from the training simulation.
It was what they were here for, after all. The moment of truth. After weeks of planning, they were about to see how the teams performed. The sense of excitement was mixed with tense anxiety in case any of them fell below standard, a guaranteed result of the day. Which team would prove to be the weakest link? Glancing along the rows below her at the people she’d worked with intensively she saw Lucas, from the police force, and Neill, from the State Emergency Services, were deep in discussion. Angie, the liaison officer for the ambulance service, was standing slightly apart, seemingly focused on scanning the arena below. They all had to be taut with expectation but she could see no outward signs. Hopefully her own tumult of feelings was similarly veiled.
A few policemen were already on site but larger numbers of police and paramedics would follow the fire department. If the disaster was on a large enough scale doctors would be called to the scene from the city hospitals’ emergency departments. That would happen here. Soon.
Today’s disaster was large-scale. It had been planned that way.
The fire department would be responsible for controlling the situation and her team would be under their command.
Thinking of the fire department inevitably bought her attention back to the man who, in a real-life situation, would most likely be the incident controller.
Ned Kellaway. A station officer with the Metropolitan Fire Service, he was currently the man in charge of the first responder unit, which included all the emergency service departments as well as the medicos.
Since he was sitting below her, a few seats to her right, she could observe him without him knowing. Of all the members of the team, he’d made the biggest impression on her. And on every other female whose path he’d crossed. The man had universal appeal. She’d seen his charm in action as he’d bantered with the females on the team, herself included. And there was no denying she’d found herself enjoying it when it had been directed her way.
Now he was sitting on the edge of his chair, leaning forwards as though the seat was too small to contain his big frame. His elbows propped on his knees and his chin resting on his hands, he appeared to be concentrating hard.
His fireman’s casual uniform, a short-sleeved navy T-shirt, stencilled with ‘MFS’across the back, showed off tanned, muscular arms and hugged his torso. His broad shoulders were nicely square and his back tapered to a narrow waist. She knew he worked out as there wasn’t an ounce of excess weight on him. His short brown hair was spiking up. He had a habit of running his fingers through it, leaving it standing on end. Did he know he did that?
Then again, more importantly, why did she know it was a habit? Had she really been paying him that much attention? She scanned his rear view again, noting the turbulence in her belly that had little to do with the drama unfolding below them and everything to do with finding Ned ridiculously attractive. No use denying it, she’d mastered paying him attention.
The sirens were at earsplitting levels now, indicating the pace below was about to pick up. Ned made a move to stand and she ran hungry eyes over the stretch of his T-shirt across his back as he eased himself from his chair. He turned to the group at large and suggested they all join him so they could discuss the event as it progressed.
The day was about to spin to a whole new level and there’d be no more opportunities for meaningless fantasies. She may be new to this side of emergency medicine, her CBR training may only be recent and largely untested, but she’d worked for several years in the emergency department ofAdelaide’s biggest hospital and she knew when craziness was about to happen.
She’d save her mental images of the man in the dark blue T-shirt for later.
There was no risk of her fantasies coming to anything, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t indulge in a harmless bit of daydreaming later on. When the team was disbanded and she and Ned Kellaway no longer crossed paths, she’d be glad of the daydream material. She shelved her vague feeling of unease that she’d be diving into her store of memories the first chance she got. Tonight, maybe.
Sarah Richardson was in control.
Sarah Richardson was not looking for a relationship. Or casual sex. Or anything that involved taking her clothes off, for that matter.
Which, she told herself as she followed the others down the stairs to gather in the aisle with Ned, was exactly why it was about time she had a store of knee-weakening, butterfly-inducing images to keep her company.
Men were not an option.
The group came together, forming a cluster along the balcony railing, awaiting the imminent swarm of emergency crews.
Of all the group, only one held Ned’s personal interest.
He watched her as she made her way to where he stood. She had a determined expression in her grey eyes, eyes that gave her petite features a gravity and depth that was intriguing. He was finding out that he liked intriguing. Very much.
In the numerous hours this team had spent together over the last weeks, he’d got a handle on most of the group, with the notable exception of Dr Sarah Richardson, who was still proving a bit of a mystery. She commanded respect and had been on top of her game in the hours of meetings, despite the fact she was relatively new to CBR work. On those few occasions when they’d gone for a drink at the end of the day or taken a coffee-break, he’d liked her tendency to sit back and observe, then add a droll remark that neatly summed up the matter under discussion or had him in stitches. Hers was an intellect quietly on show but not paraded to make others feel inferior.
Considerate, respectful of others’ views. There were plenty of words he’d come up with to describe her. And yet he was still grappling with a very real sense of knowing nothing about her, a sense she was holding back something of herself. She was definitely more reserved than the rest, and several times he’d sensed she’d started to let her guard down but the next time they’d met the barriers would be up again. She seemed almost wary of him. Who knew why that was? But he had a feeling that if he could discover her secret it would be worth the effort.
Sarah came quietly to his side, the group now complete. What would she do if she knew he was interested? Most women made their attraction to him quite obvious, yet Sarah seemed immune to him. The thrill of the unknown coursed through him. Combined with the challenges of today, the feeling of being on the brink of uncharted territory was heady stuff.
Suppressing a secret half-grin, he crouched to pick up the whiteboard at his feet, straightening as the leading fire appliance pulled up and the firefighters emerged from the cabin, wearing full protective gear, ready to deal with this emergency. His team. The knowledge sent yet another rush of excitement flooding through his veins.
He glanced at the whiteboard on which he’d written the duties and responsibilities of the first responders so each task could be checked off and comments added as the observing team thought of them.
The police and paramedics arrived hot on the heels of the fire department. Ned turned to Lucas and Angie, the police and ambulance liaison officers, who were standing on his right, and angled his whiteboard so everyone could see the list as he read out the next item and they each concentrated on checking off their team’s roles. Conversation had stopped when the fire crews had appeared, their white-suited bulk intimidating even to this group of experts.
‘Isolate the incident and secure perimeter,’ said Ned, quoting from the whiteboard the procedure he knew by heart.
‘Easier said than done,’ Lucas commented. ‘Now I can actually see it, it’s almost impossible for my people to secure the area.’ The injured commuters were actors, hired for the day to play specific roles—walking wounded, unconscious, seriously injured, unharmed and dead—and they were all giving award-winning performances.
‘Securing the area was always going to be a challenge,’ Ned replied. ‘An open arena like this is the hardest to contain. That’s what makes it the perfect test scenario. And as for the actors, it’s probably a career highlight for most of them. No surprise they’re playing it to the hilt but they seem to be following directions.’
‘I imagine that’s proving hard,’ said Sarah, and Ned
found himself giving her his full attention, much more so than to Lucas, ‘for those actors told to be mortally wounded and lie still. Can you imagine lying motionless while everyone around you is getting their big break, running amok, covered in fake blood and screaming?’
Ned laughed. ‘You think we might have real need for the medicos when the bad blood spills? Hope you’re ready for action.’ She had no idea how much he hoped she was ready for some action.
He turned his attention back to the racecourse, adjusting his earpiece to listen in on the fire department’s frequency. Each of the exercise-writing team observing had an earpiece to listen to their own team’s conversations without interfering with each other. The others in the group peeled off nearby to discuss and watch, leaving Ned pleased with how things had worked out: he had Sarah to himself, for the next little while at least.
‘Ned, I’ve never seen a simulation like this and I’ll never get to see this stage if there’s a real situation,’ Sarah said. ‘Medicos wouldn’t be on the scene yet. Can you explain what everyone’s doing, if it won’t interrupt your assessment?’
Things were getting better and better. Now she was seeking out his time, thinking it might be an inconvenience when it was nothing but a pleasure.
‘Sure. And as for finding it hard to make sense of it down there, remember none of us has organised something on this scale before. This is a first for Adelaide and it’s a lot easier to follow on paper. I was part of simulations in my CBR training in Canada last year but never from this angle. I was in the thick of the action. Today is just as much about giving this team…’ he indicated their group ‘…training in overall management as it is about getting the specialists down there ready…’ he nodded at the racecourse ‘…if there’s ever such an event.’ Ned located his IC as he spoke. ‘You see Tony down there?’ He pointed to where a man was standing about ten feet east of the bus. ‘He’s the acting incident controller. He’s doing my job today. First, he’s trying to establish control, making sure everyone is doing what he’s asked them to or knows their role. He’s got to know what’s going on at all times. He’ll get the “warm zone” set up around him, sealing off the bus and the terminal. You’d deal with him once you arrived at the scene, as you know.’
She nodded, totally absorbed in the scene below them and his descriptions. If he moved just a few inches to his right, they’d be touching. The thought was delicious.
‘Triage happens inside the “warm zone” before victims are moved through into the “cold zone” for treatment, evacuation or assembly,’ she quoted from the procedure they knew so well, presumably oblivious to the effect she was having on him. ‘How do you think the police are managing with making sure people don’t leave the scene?’ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî