Saturday, June 22, 2013

Erin Nicholas Book Club!

Are you a romance reader who loves to talk books with family, friends and co-workers?  Then I have a deal for you for helping me get some friends hooked on my books too :)

First, here's what's up for grabs:

Book and goodies for all participants!

A chance to win a Girls Night Fun Pack to share with your book-loving friends!

Here’s how it works

 By July 1st...
  1. Find three friends who want to participate.
  2. Choose which of my books you’d all like to read together (any of my books are available… but e-format only)
  3. E-mail me you and your friends’ names, e-mail addresses and preferred e-book format, *your* mailing address and which book your group would like to read. 
  4. PLEASE NOTE:  ask your friends before you send me their information and be sure to let them know they will automatically be signed up for my newsletter!  
  5. Emails to with BOOK CLUB in the subject line.  By July 1st!
  6. You will receive a box of goodies to share with your friends—swag, signed items, etc—along with book discussion questions.
  7. You and your three friends will each receive a free copy of the book.  (you can certainly invite more than three friends, but I have to limit the free copies to four/ group)
  8. Then by August 1st you read and get together to discuss!
  9. Send me photos of your group and a question, comment, favorite scene, favorite character, etc. and get entered to win a Girls Night Fun Pack.  Drawing will be August 3rd.  (also note, photos, quotes and comments may be shared on my social media and/or website) 

The Fun Pack includes:  four fun summer glasses, a matching tablecloth and snack bowl, snacks including Fiesta Party Dip Mix and Giddyup Guacamole Dip mix from Tastefully Simple, and four margarita drink mixes!  AND a DVD copy of Magic Mike for a fun Girls Night with friends!

In addition, in early August I’ll be holding a live author chat and you’re all invited to participate, ask questions and talk about the book!

I hope you’ll all join the fun and get your friends reading and talking some fun, sexy romance!

Don’t forget to sign up by July 1st to be included!

She's the One

Is available everywhere! :)

Thanks for being patient if you were waiting for Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble!

Here are the buy links for She's the One!

Thanks for reading!! 


Barnes and Noble


ARe (All Romance e-books)

i-store... this one is maybe not up yet.  BUT Samhain has informed me-- straight from the publisher herself-- that the epub format from Samhain will open automatically on i-devices!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

She's the One-- Amazon and Barnes & Noble

She's the One released on June 11. Yes, it's true. You didn't read it wrong :)  But if you've been trying to find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, you might be wondering if that was a typo.

Amazon and Barnes and Noble have yet to put it up for purchase.  

Now, trust me, my blood pressure's been up about it... but what good does that do?  So, I've decided to focus on the positives, which are many.

1.  Lots of people are looking for the book. Which makes me really happy.  I love every one of you.

2.  People looking for the book might discover, as they type it in and Amazon pulls up all of my other books, that there's one or two they've missed, so they grab those while they're there.  I love all of you as well.

3.  There IS a way to buy the book RIGHT NOW!  In fact, it's even better in some ways.  It directly supports my publisher, it's less expensive for the reader and it's more flexible for everyone.

You can buy it directly from Samhain Publishing!

Here's how:  

  1. Go to
  2. Buy the book, choose Mobi (for Kindle) or epub (for nook) and download it
  3. Then e-mail it to your device's e-mail address, or plug your device into the computer and drag and drop the book into the device.

EASY!  I've done it a number of times myself.  I have lots of readers on Facebook telling me they've done it and it works great!

To everyone who has bought the book from Samhain, I might love you best! :)

4.  Amazon and B&N will eventually have the book up.  I don't particularly love *them* right now... but I'll get over it.  Probably.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just Count On Me-- Part Five

The finale to Just Count On Me...


“It clearly means ‘I’ll never forget that kiss’”,’ Conner said, sticking the entire cookie he held into his mouth.

“It clearly means, ‘this is the only kind of kiss you’ll be getting from me from now on’,” Mac countered, plucking a second and third cookie from Conner’s fingers

 “I love when Sara brings food down,” Dooley said, dropping into the arm chair perpendicular to where Ryan was sitting.  “While they’re busy fighting over it, I can steal more than my share.”  He grabbed three cookies from the plate and tossed them to Ryan, then snagged three more for himself.

Ryan grinned as he bit into the first one.  “I was just thinking that very thing.”  Sara Bradford was a cookie Master and she’d brought down a huge plate of treats as a thank you to the guys for their action on the scene two nights before.

The cookies tonight were peanut butter with chocolate kisses stuck in the middle.

They were Conner’s favorite.

“Well, I’m going to have to be sure to thank Miss Sara appropriately the next time I see her,” Conner said, moving past Mac and toward the cookies.

“It’s Mrs. Sara, you jackass,” Mac muttered.  Then he raised his voice.  “Okay, fine Dixon.  Enjoy the cookies, enjoy reliving those few very short seconds with Sara, and enjoy the memory of bossing me around because none of that is ever going to happen again.”

“Your thank you could use a little work, but you’re welcome,” Conner said, lifting a cookie in salute.  “You can count on me, Mac.”

Mac gave a little growl and headed out the door just as Gabrielle and Sierra came into the room carrying two plates—one filled with brownies and one filled with sandwiches.

“See, even our own crew mates know how awesome we are,” Conner said, taking the plate of sandwiches from Gabby.  “Thanks, girls.”

“Oh, these aren’t from us,” Sierra said, setting the brownies near Dooley and earning a huge grin for the gesture.  “These are from a few of the nurses.”

Conner smiled.  “You don’t say.  I guess maybe the tales of our heroics have spread.”

“They spread pretty fast when you’re the one telling the tales,” Gabby said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Conner said, biting into a sandwich.

Gabby snorted.  “You had that teeny tiny cut on your hand from the other night but you whined and moaned to the nurses about it enough that they had to look at it, and treat it, and ask you all about how you got it.”

“It’s hardly teeny tiny,” Conner said, clearly offended.  He held up his hand with the white bandage around it.

“For God’s sake,” Gabby said.  “I saw the cut before you got it all dolled up.  It hardly needs that much bandaging.”

“It might be a little overkill,” Conner admitted.  “But it makes the girls feel good about helping me.”

Sierra laughed.  “I’m not even completely convinced you got that cut at the fire.  I mean, what the hell were you doing?”

“Oh, I heard the whole story,” Ryan piped up.  “Straight from the horse’s ass.”

“I think the term is horse’s mouth,” Conner said with a frown.

“Whatever.”  Ryan gave his friend and partner a grin.  “I believe you cut it with the knife you were using to free one of the victims.  Wasn’t that it?”

“That was it,” Conner said with a nod. 

“A young girl, right?  She was really scared and told you over and over how strong and brave you were?” Ryan went on.

Conner narrowed his eyes slightly, but he nodded again.  “Yeah, that’s about right.  She was about seventeen and really freaked out.”

“And you freed her from what exactly?” Gabby asked. “The group with Sara was blocked in, but no one was really trapped, right?”

“The tie on her hoodie was caught in the hinge on a door,” Ryan said.

“The tie on her hoodie?”  Gabby asked.  “You mean the drawstrings up at her neck?”

“Yeah.”  Ryan managed not to smile.

“But—” Gabby started.

“Hey, I’m a dedicated professional,” Conner said quickly over the top of her.  “Nothing is too small a need.  I’m there for people no matter what.”

Ryan grinned.  Conner could certainly bullshit with the best of them.  “That’s really big of you.  No wonder you’re everyone’s hero.”

Sierra chuckled.  “Well, that and you telling everyone that you’re their hero.”

Conner moved in closer to Sierra and gave her a little smile.  “Oh, come on, Sierra.  If you know that if you were tied up—no matter what the reason— you’d want me there.”

Ryan grabbed a brownie and settled back to watch the exchange.  If anyone could take Conner Dixon down a peg or two it was Sierra and Gabby.  They worked right beside Conner and Ryan, just as hard, just as heroically.  They were not easily impressed by muscles and bravery.
She crossed her arms.  “And what might these reasons be?”

“Well, one reason would be something dangerous that would require me to barge in to save your pretty butt.”

“Okay.”  Predictably, Sierra looked less than awestruck. “And the other would be?”

“Well, depending on what you were tied up with and what you were tied up to…”

She stared at him for just a second.  Then burst out laughing.  “You’ve got absolutely no ego problem do you?”

Conner grinned.  “I just want to be sure you know that I’ll be there for you, no matter what your needs are.”

Sierra patted his cheek.  “Conner, I’ve seen you covered in blood and vomit and… well, you remember the call for Mr. Harrison.”

Conner grimaced.  As did Gabby and Ryan.  They all remembered Mr. Harrison’s trip from his apartment to St. Anthony’s.  And the clean-up required afterward.

“I just can’t look at you as a sexy, hot, demigod anymore,” Sierra told him.

Conner looked at her for a heartbeat, then said, “Anymore.  That implies that you did at one time.”

Sierra sighed.  “I know it’s important to you to think that, so I’m willing to go with it.”

“He’d think it whether you “let” him or not,” Gabby muttered.

Ryan laughed out loud at that.  The girls headed into the kitchen area and Ryan popped another cookie in his mouth.

Conner sighed and slumped into the seat across from Dooley.

Ryan just chewed and waited.

Conner reached for a brownie, then leaned back in his chair.  He also chewed for a few seconds.
Ryan crossed one ankle over his other knee.

Finally Conner looked up at him.  “Thanks for not telling them.”

“Telling them what?” Dooley asked, looking between the two men.

Ryan grinned.  “You bet, buddy.  I’ve got your back.”

“Telling them what?” Dooley asked.

“And I appreciate it.”

“How’s the deep battle wound feeling?” Ryan asked.

Conner held up his hand with a grin.  “Better every time one of the girls says “I heard about the call the other night”.”

“Telling them what?” Dooley asked again.

Ryan looked at Conner.  Conner looked at Ryan.  Then he sighed.  “The girl’s hoodie was caught but… she wasn’t wearing it.  She was just carrying it.  She could have easily left it behind.  But she was panicking and I figured the easiest way to get her out of the building was to slash the drawstring and bring the sweatshirt with us.”

Dooley shook his head.  “Nice.”

“Tell him the best part,” Ryan urged, not containing his smile any longer.

Conner couldn’t help but give a half grin too.  “She showed up yesterday.  I was assuming she was here to thank me.”

“Yeah?” Dooley said.

“She was here to ask me for money to replace the hoodie I ruined.”

There was a beat of silence, then Dooley hooted with laughter.  “And you gave it to her?”

Conner shrugged.  “Yeah.  I wasn’t going to argue with her.”

If nothing else, Conner Dixon knew when to debate with a woman and when not to.  He had plenty of antagonized females in his life at any one time.

“But that means one more woman who doesn’t think you’re a big hero,” Dooley pointed out.

Conner smiled.  “I gave her the money.  That doesn’t mean she didn’t leave here thinking I’m the greatest guy in the world.”

“You charmed a girl after ruining her favorite sweatshirt?” Dooley asked.  “How?”

“I told her I hoped that the next one she bought was green because it would make her eyes look beautiful.”

“Oh my god.”  Dooley slumped back in his chair, laughing.  “That’s great.”

“I thought so and her big smile and soft, sweet “’bye Conner” said she did too,” Conner agreed cheerfully. 

“If you’re not careful, you’re going to be the next Sam Bradford,” Dooley said, pushing himself up from his chair.

“Or Mac Gordon,” Conner quipped.

Dooley gave him a raised eyebrow.  “You want to be like Mac?  You might have some work to do.”

“Work like what?”

“You know about edible body powder?” Dooley asked.

“Heard of it.”

“Get some.  Try it out.  In fact, acquaint yourself with the entire catalog at Scandalous Somethings dot com.”

“Then Sara might be interested?” Conner asked.

Ryan groaned.

Dooley laughed.  “No.  But it’ll help you back some of this flirting up when the right woman finally decides to make you prove that you’re as hot as you think you are.”

Conner shuddered.  “Women make things complicated if you let them stick around too long. The last thing I need is another permanent woman in my life.”

“Don’t think I’m not going to remind you that you said that one of these days,” Dooley said, heading for the door.    “And I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it.”

Ryan regarded his friend as Dooley shut the door behind him.  Come to think of it, Ryan was going to enjoy the hell out of that too.  He hoped that woman came along soon.  Conner Dixon in love was going to be something to see.

You can get to know Mac, Sam, Dooley, Kevin and Ben (not necessarily in that order :)) in the Bradford series!

Find out more about the Bradfords here!

And you can read more about Conner, Cody, Shane and Ryan (especially Ryan :)) in She's the One, June 11th, and then continue getting to know the gang in It Takes Two, September 17th!

Just Count On Me-- Part Four

Part four of the short story, Just Count On Me, that bridges the Bradford series with my new series, Counting on Love!

You can find part ONE here!


“Put the oxygen mask on or I’m going to tell Conner that Sara said his uniform pants make his ass look great.”

Mac frowned at Gabriella Evans, the other paramedic on Conner’s crew.  “She never said that.”

“No, but Conner will want to believe it, so it will be like gasoline on that fire. No pun intended.”

That pun was totally intended.  Mac grudgingly took the oxygen mask and put it over his nose and mouth.  He didn’t need it, dammit.  But as he breathed for a few seconds, he had to admit that some of the fogginess in his head faded and the tightness in his chest let go a little.

Fine. He’d had a tiny panic attack waiting for the firemen to get Sara out of the locker room.  He watched as they escorted all six of the kids out first.  He knew that Sara had insisted on that, even though she was pregnant

He reached over and bumped the oxygen flow up just a bit on the machine, breathing in deeply. Gabby, bless her, pretended not to notice.

Finally he saw Jessica walking toward the trucks with one of the firemen.  Ben met her halfway across the yard, folding her into his arms, his shoulder shaking with the waves of adrenaline he could finally let loose.  If the guy wasn’t crying, Mac would be shocked.

He kind of planned to do a little of that himself.

And then there was Sara.

One of the guys was carrying her and Mac immediately dropped the oxygen mask and started forward.

“I twisted my ankle a little when we got to the locker room,” she said, holding up a hand and explaining before he even asked.  “Otherwise, I’m fine.”

“Gee, three inch high heels and slippery tile floors don’t mix, huh?” he asked dryly, watching as the fireman set her on the bumper to the fire truck.

Mac immediately knelt in front of her, inspecting her ankles.

“These are only two inches high,” she said.

“Oh, well, they’re almost practical then.”


He focused on her ankle, prodding and rubbing, rotating the joint, checking the pulse… and not registering any of the information.  That was all he could handle at the moment though.  Taking care of that one little thing, that one small part of her, was far less overwhelming that looking up into her eyes, seeing her smile, taking in the slight swell of her belly and realizing that he could have lost her.

“Mac,” she said softly, her hand going to his head.

He leaned forward, resting his forehead against her knee, one hand cupping the calf of her leg while the other took her hand and linked their fingers.

He just sat like that, letting it all wash over him… and out of him.  It was over.  She was here, she was fine.

Sara stroked her fingers over the top of his head, comforting him.  When he should be comforting her.

He drew in a long, shaky breath and finally made himself look up at her.

“I might prefer this to yelling,” she told him, her hand still resting on his head.  “Though seeing you torn up kind of kills me.”

He nodded.  “I’m torn up.  Too torn up to know that I’m even supposed to be yelling.”

Sara’s eyebrows rose, but then she just nodded.  “Right.  Exactly.  There’s nothing to yell about.”

“I thought I told you to replace that fucking thing!”

Looked like Sam knew what to yell about though. 

Mac pivoted on the balls of his feet, still crouching in front of Sara.  “Back off, Bradford. This can wait. Whatever it is.”

“Yeah, apparently Sara thought so too.  That microwave is ancient,” Sam said, his attention back on his sister. 

“I will definitely be replacing it now, don’t worry,” Sara said, her voice calm.

“That’s not funny,” Sam admonished.

It wasn’t.  Mac turned back to her.  “That’s the old microwave?”

“The torn up thing’s over, huh?” she asked.

“The torn up thing is why I’m yelling,” Mac said, stretching to his feet.  “That microwave is the reason I lost six years off my life tonight.  God, I’ve never been so sick and worried in my life.”

And just like that Sara was crying.

“Dammit,” Sam muttered.  He didn’t do well with women’s tears, especially his sisters and his wife.

“Well, crap.”  Mac did even worse than Sam did with Sara’s tears.  He hauled her to her feet and up against his chest. 

Holding her was his undoing.  He felt the sting of tears in his own eyes and buried his face in her hair, breathing in her scent, absorbing the feel of her, the warmth, the curves, the silkiness of her skin. 

They just stood holding each other like that for several long minutes.

Finally he let her go and turned her into her brother’s arms, swiping his hands over his eyes.

Sam held her tight too.

“I’m sorry,” she blubbered.  “I’m sorry.  I know it’s all my fault.  I should have just done it right away.  I didn’t know they were going to try to use it tonight—”

“It’s okay,” Sam told her, his face tight with emotion. “It’s okay.  You didn’t mean for anything to happen.”

“But I should have—”

“Yes,” Sam interrupted.  “You should have.  But it’s over now.  Everyone’s okay and that’s what we should all be concentrating on.”

Sara was next passed to Ben, then Jessica.  Then Conner.

He’d been standing at the end of the hugging line and gave her a huge grin as she came face to face with him.

“I’m right here, where you told me to be.”  He essentially directed the comment at Mac.

Mac gripped both hands into fists.  Okay, Conner could hug her.  He’d been great tonight.  He’d been focused and commanding, yet lighthearted on the phone with Sara to keep her calm.  He’d directed his crew, he’d worked with the firefighters, he’d taken care of the kids that needed him. 

Fine.  He could have one hug.

Sara stepped into his embrace and it was a nice, platonic hug.

For exactly three seconds.

Then Conner dipped her back and put his lips to hers.

In a very non-platonic kiss.

Mac’s fists clenched harder and he could almost feel the satisfying thud of his fist meeting Conner’s jaw.  He stepped forward.  “Dixon, you’re going to hurt for days.”

As if that was his cue, Conner brought Sara back upright and grinned at her.  “And that, sweetheart, is just a little of what you’re missing.”  Then he spun her toward Mac and sauntered off.

Mac had to admit that Sara looked a little stunned… and not at all pissed off.

Mac took her shoulders in both hands.  “You okay?”

Sara’s eyes widened.  “Well… yeah.”

She said it as if it was the dumbest question he’d ever asked.  Gabby snorted behind him and Sam was clearly fighting a smile.

“Uh, huh.  I think you might need treatment after all.  Clearly there’s something wrong with your head,” Mac told her.

Sara exchanged a glance—and a grin—with Gabby.  Which Mac completely noticed.

“Sure,” Sara said.  “That must be where these tingles are coming from.”

Mac gave a little growl, then swung her up into his arms and headed for the ambulance that would take them back to St. Anthony’s.  “I think I need to remind you what real tingles are like.”

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck.  “That’s what I was hoping you’d say.”

The final installment posts tomorrow!  

And then She's the One, book one in the Counting On Love series comes out Tuesday!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just Count On Me-- Part Three

And the story continues...  if you're just catching up, you can find Part One here!


Conner jogged toward the fireman carrying the girl from the front of the building.  She was small and blond and for a moment his heart beat sped up.

But it wasn’t Sara.  Still, he was glad to see every single survivor they carried from the building.

The building was huge.  It had been an elementary school at one time.  He knew from the briefing at the scene that the west end of the building was mostly offices and storage space.  The east end, where the fire had broken out, was the more “lived in” part of the building where they had a huge common room, a gymnasium with showers and locker rooms, and, of course, the kitchen.

One of the firemen was speculating that they had put something in the microwave that had caused sparks.  One of the kids had said something about an explosion, but they hadn’t been able to get a good explanation.  Just that they heard a loud boom and that flames and smoke had come pouring out of the kitchen right after that.  Most of the kids in the common room had immediately run for the doors.  Though Mac had told him there could be up to fifty kids there on any night, the kids were telling them that there had only been a handful in the TV room on the other side of the kitchen.

But from the description they gave and the layout of the building that one of the firemen had, it was clear they would have been trapped if the fire had come out of the kitchen.

In any case, it was taking a hell of a long time to get the blaze under control.

“Okay, sweetheart, I’ve got you,” Conner told the girl as they shifted her from the fireman’s arms to Conner’s.

She immediately burrowed close and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck and burst into tears.  

He continued crooning comforting words until they got the rig.  Dooley Miller was there with Sierra.

“She’s conscious, I see,” Dooley said.

Conner smiled.  “Yep.  Though she hadn’t said anything, so I don’t know if she’s making sense.”  And she didn’t seem inclined to loosen her grip on him even the tiniest bit.

Dooley studied her for a minute, then he said, “I heard the new running back recruit for the Huskers backed out and is going to Kansas State.”

The girl’s head came up fast and she looked at him.  “Travis Humphry?”

“Hey, Tasha,” Dooley greeted with a grin.  “You okay?”

Her eyes filled up with tears again, but Conner felt her hold relax slightly.  “I don’t know.”

“Well, come here and let me make sure,” Dooley said.

The girl obviously knew and trusted him.  She immediately let go of Conner and he swung her feet to the ground.  Dooley put an arm around her waist and helped her to the ambulance. 

“You sure you’re good?” Conner asked the other man.  “I told Gordon I was calling in another rig.”

“Good idea,” Dooley agreed.  “Sam and Mac shouldn’t go near anyone.  But Kevin and I are fine.  We’ll just help out.  Get the Methodist guys over here.”

Conner appreciated a cool head in a crisis.  “They’re already on their way.”


He turned and nearly got plowed over by Mac Gordon himself.  Conner was the quarterback for the best team in the amateur league.  He was, unfortunately, periodically plowed over by big guys who didn’t mind hurting him.  Still, he was very glad Mac didn’t play.   “What’s up?”

He was as anxious as anyone else.  He hated the waiting, knowing there were people inside that might need their help, knowing that minutes counted, yet having to hang back while the fire guys did their thing.  It was hard.  But he kept cool.  It was his gift.  Perfected over the years of growing up with four younger sisters.  It was hard to rile Conner up.

Only four things could really do it and they were named Amanda, Emma, Isabelle and Olivia Dixon.

“Sara texted me.”

Conner perked up.  “What?  Seriously?  She’s not here?”  That would be awesome.  Not awesome that there were still people inside, but if Sara wasn’t one of them…

“She’s in there,” Mac confirmed.  “But they headed in the opposite direction from the kitchen.  They went for the showers in the girl’s locker room.  She figured the tile wouldn’t burn.”

“There’s no back exit?” Conner asked, started for Cody to tell him the news.  “This is an old school for Chrissake.”

“There is, but the door is stuck.  Or locked.  Or something is against it from the outside.  She’s not sure, it just won’t move.”

Conner pulled up short.  “She’s on the line now?”


Conner grabbed the phone from Mac.  “Sara?”

“Conner, is that you?  Oh, my god, are you out there?”  She sounded panicky, but not hysterical, which Conner appreciated about her.  She had to keep her cool for those kids.

“Yeah, it’s me.  We’re gonna get you out of there.”

“You better.”

He wove in and out of firemen, searching for his friend, the Chief.

“Well, listen lady,” Conner said, trying for light and flirtatious like he always was, hoping to reassure her that everything would be fine.  “When you get out of there, I’m first in line for mouth to mouth.”

She laughed, sounding tired.  Though it wasn’t like he really knew her well enough to know if she sounded tired or not.  “When I get out of here, I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel like kissing everybody.”

Goddammit where was Cody?

“That’s why us paramedics do what we do, babe.”

She laughed again, but this time it ended on what was definitely a sob.  Conner would know that sound anywhere.  His gut tightened and his fist tightened on Mac’s phone.

He stopped suddenly.  Mac ran directly into him, sending him two steps forward before he swung around with a scowl.  Did the guy have to be right on his ass?

He still didn’t see Cody so he took the phone away from his ear, covered the mouthpiece and bellowed, “Somebody tell me where the fuck Madsen is!”

“Over here!” someone shouted.

He headed in that direction.  Back on the phone with Sara he said, “Honey, tell me where you are in the building exactly.”

“The girl’s locker room.”

“Right, but walk me to it.  Like from the front doors.” He arrived next to Cody and covered the mouthpiece again for a moment.  “Sara’s in the building… and on the phone.  She’s going to walk you to where they are.”

Cody lifted the microphone on his headset.  “Dennings, listen up,” he barked.

“Okay, Sara, go.  I’m right here,” Conner said.  “I’m going to repeat everything to Cody.”

Sara started walking him mentally through the building, giving him lefts and rights, things that would be in the rooms, how many doorways to count off, and other information that would lead the firemen inside to where they were at.

“It’s the last doorway in the hallway,” she finally said.  “We’re all in here.”

“How many of you?” Conner asked.

“Eight,” she said.  “Me and my sister and then six kids.”

Conner repeated the information to Cody, then felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.  “Jessica is in there?”

It was Sam Bradford.  He’d come over to join Mac.

Conner nodded.  “Yeah.  And six kids.”

“Ben’s not in there?” Sam asked with a frown.

“Sara, honey, is Ben there?” Conner asked.

“No.”  There was a pause. Then she said, “Was he supposed to be?”

Conner repeated the question to the guys. 

“We can’t get him on the phone,” Sam said.  “We thought maybe he came down here.”

Conner knew Ben Torres from the hospital.  He was one of the trauma surgeons so, unfortunately, their paths mostly crossed when Conner and the crew were bringing people in who needed Ben’s skills.  But occasionally he’d pass Ben in the hallway or stand in line behind him in the cafeteria.  Torres was a nice guy and a hell of a surgeon.  Conner’s buddy, Nate, was also a surgeon at St. A’s and he admired Ben a lot.

“Does Jessica know where Ben is?” Conner asked Sara.

Jessica Bradford Torres was a nurse and was the head of the ER.  Conner knew her well too.

“He’s supposed to be at home with Ava,” Sara reported.  “Jessica can’t get her phone to work in here.  None of the others will, actually.  We figure it’s all the cement and stuff.  Don’t know why mine’s working.”

Conner made himself smile as he replied.  “’Cuz we were meant to connect, Sara.  You should just accept this as one more sign.”

“Conner.”  She said it in that sweet, chiding tone that she always used when he flirted with her.  He loved it. 

She was always going to turn him down.  He knew that.  And if she was married to anyone but Mac Gordon, he probably would have laid off a long time ago.  She was taken.  He got it.  But wow, it was such a great way to antagonize Mac.  And Gordon had plenty of fun antagonizing Conner when he’d been a rookie and filling in on their crew, trying to build up his hours of experience.  It was only fair.

Plus, Sara Gordon was it.  She was the perfect woman.  Gorgeous, funny, smart, sweet, baked like nobody’s business and blushed so adorably whenever he flirted.  If he didn’t have a crush on her it would have been a sad commentary on his intelligence.


Conner’s attention was pulled to Cody—and the deep scowl his friend wore. 

“They can’t get through.  They’re blocked getting into that hallway.”

Conner’s stomach twisted.  They’d have to find another way.  And quick.  If the fire was blocking that hallway, it was getting too close for comfort.  Sara was right about the concrete of the locker rooms not burning, but that wasn’t the only risk in a fire.  Smoke inhalation and toxic fumes were a real risk as was the chance for an explosion that would propel debris that could seriously injure someone.  Debris like concrete pieces, for instance.

“There’s a door in back.”

They all turned.  Ben Torres had arrived.

“Where?” Cody took off at a run, Ben right behind him.

“The door opens into the backyard.  It’s not right by the locker rooms, but you can come from the back instead of the front where the flames are.”

Conner, Mac and Sam were right behind them.

“The door’s locked,” Sara said in Conner’s ear.  “We couldn’t budge it.”

“We’re gonna need tools,” Conner called to Cody.

“Thomas, Buckely, Peterson, come with me!” Cody shouted.  “Bring the tool box”

The door was, indeed, locked.  Tight.  It took three fireman leaning on the crowbar to finally pop the lock and wrench the door open.  No smoke billowed out—a wonderful sign that the fire wasn’t anywhere near this area.

Conner turned immediately to Mac as the heavy metal door swung open, bracing a hand on the bigger man’s shoulder.  “No way, big guy.  You don’t have equipment on and this isn’t your show.”

Mac strained forward for just a moment, then he took a deep breath and leaned back on his heels.  “Okay.”

Conner knew that Mac knew he was right, but adrenaline was pumping hard and the guy’s wife—his pregnant wife—was just inside, in danger.

“Here, talk to Sara,” Conner said, thrusting the phone at Mac.

Mac put the phone to his ear.  “Hey, princess.” 

Conner almost got choked up at the emotion in Mac’s voice.

“I love you too.”  Then Mac cleared his throat.  “Here.”  He handed the phone back.  “She wants to say something else to you.”

“Hey, Sara.” 

“Conner, you better be close by.  Because you are getting that kiss,” Sara said.

He grinned.  He’d take it too.  There would likely never be another opportunity and he was all for taking advantage of good fortune. 

“I’ll be the good-looking guy dressed as a paramedic,” he told her.

She laughed and there was no tension now.  “Noted.”

He handed the phone back to Mac.  “Lucky bastard,” he said.

“I know,” Mac said sincerely.  Then he put the phone back to his ear.

“Let’s go, Mac.”  Kevin Campbell appeared out of the darkness, Dooley at his side.

“Yep, come on Sam,” Dooley said, gesturing in the direction they’d come.  “Let’s get out of these guys’ way.”

The firemen were suited up.  They pulled their helmets and masks into place and then turned on their high beam flashlights and plunged into the darkness inside the Center.

Stop back tomorrow for Part Four!