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NOTE TO READERS: THIS STORY MAKES SOME REFERENCES TO WHAT HAPPENED IN “A CHILD’S CRY” BUT YOU CAN ALSO READ THIS AS A STAND-ALONE STORY.
Johnny lay sleeping on his stomach, the blanket tucked around his slim waist. Autumn gently ran her fingers against the thick white scars across his tanned back. He groaned softly as she did so. “It must have been so painful,” she whispered.
He turned over onto his back and groggily opened his eyes. “Hmm? Did you say something?”
She gazed into his sleepy brown eyes and reached up to run her hand through his thick, dark hair. “I said it must have been so painful when you were attacked by the bear.”
He gazed back at her, her big blue eyes glistened with tears, her long auburn hair cascading over her ivory white shoulders, which were lightly splashed with freckles. She was so beautiful.
“To be honest, I don’t remember much of it. I passed out pretty quickly. Why are you asking me about it now?” He asked with curiosity, his voice still husky from sleep.
“You just have so many scars, I’m not saying it’s bad, it just proves how many times you have risked your life for others.” She reached up and wiped at her teary eyes, realizing she was getting too emotional. She just couldn’t imagine all of the physical pain he had been through. But then again, she had experienced some of that in her own life.
“What about you?” He asked softly as he gently traced his finger across the circular scars on her arm. “I see you have some of your own scars.”
“Yes, but we’ll save those stories for another day.” She quickly turned over, hopped out of bed and grabbed her clothes.
Johnny leaned on his elbow, looking at her with concern, “I’m sorry, did I do something wrong?”
She turned to him with a small smile and answered. “No, not at all, just hard for me to talk about it...listen...I need to go...call me when you are off tomorrow?”
She quickly got dressed, leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Then she grabbed her purse and made her way out the door.
Johnny lay back in bed, staring at the ceiling. “What the hell?” He said out loud, wondering how one minute she was so tender and loving and the next giving him the cold shoulder.
Autumn made her way down the stairs of Johnny’s apartment and got into her car. She looked at her reflection in the rearview mirror. “You are such a bitch!” She struck her hand against the steering wheel in frustration. She then dug for her keys in her purse and started the ignition. She was falling for Johnny and she knew she wasn’t supposed to. That was not part of the plan. She had to stick to the plan. She owed that to her sister.
“How were your days off?” Roy asked Johnny as he buttoned his uniform shirt in the locker room. “Did you spend time with Autumn?” Roy once again noticed the scars across Johnny’s back as Johnny turned to grab his t-shirt and uniform out of his locker. He was still amazed that Johnny had survived the bear attack. The scars on his arm were even more pronounced than the ones on his back, but Roy pretended not to notice them. He didn’t want to make Johnny self conscious.
“Yeah,” Johnny said with a frown, “but I still can’t figure her out. One minute she acts like she really digs me and the next she is barely looking at me. I don’t get it.” Johnny ran his hand through his dark hair. “You would think after being with her for 3 months that I would be able to figure her out.”
Roy smiled. “Welcome to the world of women...when you figure them out, let me know.”
“Geez... thanks for all of the good advice Pally,” Johnny said as he rolled his eyes.
“No problem,” Roy grinned. “Let’s go Junior, we’ll be late for roll call.”
A short time later, Chet grabbed a mop out of the closet and asked Johnny as he passed by, “So Gage, how is it going with Autumn? Has she dumped you yet?”
“No she hasn’t ‘dumped me yet’ Chet. Why do you keep asking me that every shift?” Johnny scowled.
“I just can’t figure out how a hot chick like that ended up with you,” Chet smirked while he dipped his mop in the bucket and began wiping the floor by the squad. “At least she is better than that loonie you dated last year...what was her name Elsa? Ella?”
“It was Elaine, and yes she is nothing like Elaine,” Johnny stated, matter of factly.
Chet continued to dip and mop. “Yeah, what a freak she was...following us to every rescue and calling every hour on the hour. She was obsessed with you man.”
“Chet, can we just drop it?” Johnny said becoming annoyed. “I need to go clean up in the kitchen.” Johnny just pushed the door open to enter the kitchen when the tones sounded.
“Squad 51, respond to man down. 18 Hilldale Lane, Cross Street Donner. Time out: 8:32.”
“Squad 51, KMG 365,” Cap responded.
Roy and Johnny ran to the squad, but in his hurry, Johnny slipped on the wet floor and smacked the back of his shoulder against the bumper of the squad before hitting the floor. “Shit!”
“Gage, seriously?” Chet shook his head in disgust. “You are the most accident prone, clumsy…”
“Shut up Chet,” Johnny said as picked himself up off the floor, and rubbed his shoulder. He got into the squad with a soft groan.
Cap frowned and shook his head.
“You ok?” Roy asked with concern, while taking the slip of paper from Cap and handing it to Johnny.
“Fine, fine…” He mumbled as he continued to rub his shoulder. He knew there would be a bruise there for sure. He took the slip from Roy and gave him directions to the scene.
Upon arriving at the scene, Roy and Johnny hopped out of the squad and got out their equipment. Johnny grunted while lifting the O2.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Roy asked while they trotted up the front stairs of the house, supplies in hand.
“Yeah, just sore is all...I’m fine.” Johnny gave Roy a small smile.
On top of the steps they were met by a woman in her mid 50’s. “Come in please, this way, it’s my husband! He is not moving! Please hurry!”
Johnny and Roy hurried into the livingroom to see a man slumped in his chair, unconscious. Roy quickly checked for a pulse and found that there wasn’t one. “No pulse!”
They carefully lay him on the floor and Roy began chest compressions while Johnny contacted Rampart.
“Oh no!” The frantic wife cried and clasped her hands over her mouth.
“Rampart, this is squad 51, how do you read?”
“Go ahead 51.”
“We have a man approximately 60 years old. There is no pulse. We are performing CPR at this time.”
Rampart ordered the man to be defibrillated. While Roy was setting up the machine, Johnny took over compressions, his mouth set in a firm line of concentration trying to ignore the pain in his shoulder.
They defibrillated him twice and pushed the meds that were ordered to restart his heart. Still, nothing worked. They were ordered to continue CPR and transport immediately. Roy took over compressions for Johnny, who was grimacing with pain from his shoulder.
“Johnny, I got it, why don’t you drive the squad in.” Roy continued compressions as the ambulance attendants loaded the victim into the ambulance.
Johnny grabbed the supplies with a grimace, sweat dripping down his face, his shoulder throbbing. “Thanks...I’ll meet you there.”
The sobbing woman hurried to get into the front of the ambulance while Johnny climbed into the squad. He wiped the sweat from his brow, and pulled out behind the ambulance, siren blaring.
On the way his mind wandered to Autumn and his interaction with her that morning. In the past 3 months he had really started to have feelings for her, but hadn’t quite dared to tell her yet. One day she was loving and sweet and the next, she was cold and distance. Johnny was trying to figure out if it was something he was doing wrong. He decided he really needed to talk to her about it. He wanted to continue seeing her. She was beautiful and had a lot of the same interests that he did. They had been hiking, camping, bowling and she even enjoyed photography.
They had not become intimate with each other until the last couple of weeks. Sure they had kissed and cuddled, but it was Autumn who wanted more. Johnny of course gladly agreed, but didn’t want to push her into something she wasn’t ready for. Contrary to what people thought, he did not jump in bed with women after a date or two. Yeah, he really dug Autumn...but... there was something not right...he felt like she cared about him...but why was she holding back?
As he was thinking he rotated his arm in circles, trying to get the throbbing to ease. He pulled into the parking space at Rampart and hopped out, in search of Roy in the ER.
A few minutes later, Johnny found Roy slowly walking out of treatment room 3, a grim look on his face.
“Never got him back huh?” Johnny questioned, walking up to Roy.
“No, I think he was probably gone before we even got to his house,” Roy said solemnly.
Johnny frowned and nodded. Together, they made their way out to the squad.
On the drive back to the station, Johnny began bouncing his knee. “Roy, I have to ask ya, how do you think things have gone in the past few months since we’ve been back to work? I mean I know you say you trust me and all, but do you really? Do you ever have any doubts? I know I would if I was you... I mean here you are working with someone that thought they heard a kid in a fire and there wasn’t one there...then I almost get you killed and you say you still care and want me as your partner but sometimes I wonder if that’s how you REALLY feel or are you just saying that because we have worked together for so long and all and….”
“Johnny!” Roy smiled. “Will you let me answer your question?”
“Well, I was waiting for you to…”
Johnny knew that Dr. Unser, the cardiologist, had said Roy was fine but Johnny still had his concerns. After all, Roy’s heart had stopped for quite some time. They had been back to work as partners for 5 months and in that time Johnny had insisted doing all of the difficult rescues.
“Well, if I was you, I would still have my doubts.” Johnny added, still concerned.
“The only thing I have doubts about is how you can talk so fast!” Roy chuckled.
Johnny smiled and laughed. Then Roy changed the subject. “So what has you worried about Autumn? What did you mean earlier when you said she is cold to you sometimes?”
“Well you know how I told you last week she was all excited when I dropped by work and brought her those flowers?”
“Well then she tells me that night not to go see her at work anymore. She said something about her boss got mad at her.”
“What?” Roy asked in disbelief. “I find that hard to believe. Why would they care if you stopped in to see her? She just works at the bank.”
“I know!” Johnny agreed. “And then this morning she was all cuddly and stuff and then she got upset, hopped out of bed and ran out the door. I just don’t get it. I really like her Roy, but I don’t know if she feels the same.”
“Have you talked to her about it?”
“Well, kind of...I mean well... not exactly…it’s hard to bring it up out of the blue... you know what I mean?”
“Yes I do, but the best thing is to be honest. Tell her how you feel and see if she feels the same.”
“ I guess but….” Johnny was interrupted by dispatch.
“Squad 51, respond with Engine 51 and engine 32 to structure fire... 22 Abbott Street… Time out...10:23.”
“Squad 51,” Johnny replied, “Guess we’ll have to talk about it later Pally...” He rubbed his shoulder. It still felt sore but at least the throbbing had eased.
Autumn stuck her ID badge on her shirt and made her way into the visiting room. Elaine entered with a guard, a scowl on her face as she sat across from Autumn.
“I told you to come visit me last week to tell me how things were going. Why didn’t you?! I bet you are spending the night with him aren’t you? Is that why you don’t have time to come see me as much as you should?” Elaine leaned in, eyes blazing.
“Elaine yes I have spent some nights with him but that is what you told me to do! You said it would bring us closer together. I don’t understand you...you tell me one thing, then get mad when I do it.” Autumn shook her head in disgust.
“Don’t get at attitude with me!” Elaine said, red faced, pointing at Autumn within inches of her face. “You owe me and you know that! I am the one that saved you from that creep step-father of yours! Just because we are only half-sisters, doesn’t mean you can get out of paying me back for what I did to help you!”
Autumn looked down, ashamed for not being more grateful to Elaine. It was true, she had saved her from an abusive step-father. Elaine was 5 years older than Autumn and had moved out of the house when she turned 18, leaving Autumn alone with their mother, and Autumn’s step-father, Henry. After their mother died, Henry had become abusive to Autumn and would often beat her. At times he would even burn her with his cigarettes, which were the scars that Johnny had asked her about earlier. Elaine had found out about the abuse and had then gone to court to get custody of Autumn so that she could get her out of that house. Now that Autumn was 21 and on her own, Elaine was not letting Autumn forget what she had done for her.
“Elaine what do you want me to say? This whole thing is your idea but I don’t know if I can do this much longer.” Autumn’s eyes became teary as she thought of how much she was starting to care for Johnny and how she was supposed to end up hurting him eventually. She didn’t know if she could go through with it, but she knew she had to. She owed it to Elaine.
“Tell me this,” Elaine demanded, “has he told you he loved you yet?”
“No...not yet, but I think he does…” Amber replied, thinking of how sweet and tender Johnny was. How funny, energetic and caring he was. God, how could she hurt him? She had tried to keep her distance...and some days she was able to shut off her feelings but other days she enjoyed his touch, his kindness, his warmth towards her.
She remembered the day that he brought the flowers to where she worked. She was waiting on a customer, cashing the woman’s check and counting out money. When she looked up, there he was, in her line with a big goofy grin on his face, holding a beautiful bouquet of roses. He walked up to her window and handed them to her.
“Johnny!” She gasped with delight, her blue eyes wide with surprise. “These are beautiful but what’s the occasion?”
“Oh, nothing special...just I thought they were beautiful, just like you.” His brown eyes twinkled as he looked at her.
The customers in line behind him smiled and murmured how thoughtful he was. Terry, the teller next to Autumn, had a big grin on her face, but was a bit jealous of Autumn and her handsome boyfriend.
“Thank-you so much! I will still see you tonight right?” She asked hopefully.
“Yes, I’ll pick you up at 7:00 and don’t forget your bowling shoes!” Johnny gave her a big grin and waved good-bye as he made his way out the door.
Autumn was thrilled with the flowers but it was one more thing that made her feel closer to him. She wanted to try to keep more distance so she figured it was best to tell him not to come to her work place and that her boss was upset, when he really wasn’t. Again, she was torn because she loved being with Johnny, but she knew it was not going to last much longer.
“Are you listening to me Autumn?” Elaine demanded. “You seem like you are thinking of something else! I told you that once you know he loves you, it needs to end. You need to hurt him the way that he hurt me. Do you understand? I know you are too much of a wimp to kill him, but you have to at LEAST break his heart...he deserves at least that much.”
“Yes I know Elaine, I know...” Autumn replied quietly, getting up to leave.
“Don’t you go anywhere!” Elaine demanded, grabbing Autumn by the arm.
“Inmate!” The burly guard yelled and stepped towards her, “Get your hands off of the visitor!”
Elaine released her grip and grumbled to Autumn… “Don’t forget...you OWE me.”
Autumn nodded, tears in her eyes and made her way out of the prison visiting room.
Johnny and Roy quickly got out of the squad, grabbed their turnout coats and shrugged on their gear, ready to battle the structure fire. Johnny winced as he put his tank over his shoulder. They then jogged over to their captain.
“Where do you need us?” Roy asked, noticing the thick smoke pouring out of the windows of the office building.
“Looks like everyone made it out of the building... John, why don’t you help Marco with his hose line and Roy, give Chet a hand,” Cap instructed.
The four men entered the burning building. Roy backed up Chet while Johnny was behind Marco, one hand on the hose, the other resting on Marco’s shoulder.
“I think we need to head down to the right of the hall,” Marco yelled to Johnny over his shoulder. “Chet and Roy can take the left.”
“Sounds good,” Johnny replied. Marco motioned for Chet to go to the left. Chet responded with a thumbs up.
As they were making their way down the hall, Marco and Johnny noticed the floor becoming soft beneath their feet. “I don’t like the feeling of this floor! I think we better back off!” Johnny hollered to Marco.
“I think you’re…” But before Marco could finish his left foot fell through the floor, he fell back into Johnny and they both let go of the hose. The hose, still flowing steadily with a full force of water, wildly began to flop around, spraying everywhere. Johnny tried to grab it, but before he could, it smacked him in the shoulder in the exact same spot he had injured earlier in the day. The force of the impact knocked him off of his feet. The pain was immense. He lay there, holding his shoulder, and rolling back and forth in agony. In the meantime, the hose continued to spin wildly spraying Marco and Johnny.
“Johnny? Are you ok?” Marco hollered through his mask, trying to block the spray of water with his hand so that he could see more clearly. Marco didn’t think that he had hurt himself, but he was stuck.
Luckily, Roy and Chet had put the fire out at their end of the hallway and were making their way towards Johnny and Marco when they saw them both tumble and release the hose. Chet shut off the water to his hose and both he and Roy made their way quickly to Marco and Johnny. Together, Chet and Roy got ahold of the spinning hose, then they checked on the fallen men. The fire was beginning to spread closer to them and they knew that they had to hurry.
“Marco! Are you hurt?” Chet asked as he knelt beside him.
“No, I don’t think so, but my foot is stuck. Johnny got hit with the hose!” Chet quickly looked back to see Roy kneeling beside Johnny. “Roy will help him, let’s get you out of here… we need to hurry.” Chet eyed the fire down the hallway, lapping the walls and hungrily making its way towards the group of men. “The floor seems soft enough so I think I can kick some of these boards loose.” Chet began stomping and pulling on the boards, trying not to get too close to Marco’s leg. Soon, he had made the hole big enough so that Marco could pull his leg free.
In the meantime, while Chet was helping Marco, Roy had knelt beside Johnny and could see how much pain he was in. “Is it your shoulder?” Roy hollered to Johnny. Johnny was in too much pain to respond so he just nodded the best that he could. “Do you think you can walk?” Johnny nodded again. Roy helped him to his feet, trying not to grasp his sore shoulder. Then all 4 men quickly made their way out of the building, dragging the hoses with them.
Cap saw the men coming out, Roy guiding Johnny, who was grasping his shoulder and stumbling along. Marco was limping slightly. ‘What the hell?’ Cap wondered as he made his way over to the group. “What happened?” He asked, concerned.
“The floor went soft on them Cap,” Chet began, “they lost the grip on the hose and it whacked Johnny in the shoulder. Sorry Cap, but we couldn’t keep up with the fire...you need to send in another crew or call it a loss.”
Cap nodded and knew that by that point it was not safe to send in any more men. “Roy, do you need me to call in another squad?” He asked, eyeing Johnny who looked like he was in agony. Roy had removed his own gear and then carefully began taking off Johnny’s. Chet had helped Marco sit by the squad so that Roy could look at his leg.
“I think I got it Cap,” Roy replied, “but can you contact Rampart for me?”
“Sure thing. John, how are you doing Pal?”
Johnny hissed in pain… “I’ll be...ok Cap...just got...hit in the same spot...I hurt earlier...man that hurts.”
Roy carefully removed all of Johnny’s gear, then began taking off of his shirt and cutting away his t-shirt. Johnny was sitting up since lying down put too much pressure on his shoulder. Roy winced as he saw the deep bruising on the back of Johnny’s shoulder. There was also swelling. Roy was not sure if it was from his recent injury, or the one from this morning. He took his vitals which were normal except for a slight increase in blood pressure and pulse because of the pain that he was in. Rampart ordered Roy to immobilize the arm and transport him.
“I really don’t think I need to ride in the ambulance Roy,” Johnny said annoyed. The pain was not as intense as it had been but Johnny still didn’t think he could move his arm much, even if he wanted to. Roy had also checked Marco’s leg and was relieved to find it was scraped up some, but other than that, he was fine.
“Sorry Junior, doctor’s orders… let’s go.”
Elaine’s mind was reeling in a thousand different directions...Why did Autumn get Johnny’s affection so easily?...Why did he have to end it with HER when it was supposed to be meant to be?...In her eyes they were soul mates...Why didn’t he feel the same?...Would Autumn actually go through with it and hurt Johnny like he deserved?
Elaine sat on her bunk and rested the back of her head against the cool cement wall of her cell. She thought back to the relationship that she had with Johnny last year…
She had first met him when he had rescued her. It was a stormy July night when she was driving home from one of her sale’s meetings. She sold jewelry and cosmetics and was lucky enough to make her own work schedule. Once a month the company would hold a regional meeting for all of their sales associates. It was around 10pm when she was driving home from the meeting during a massive thunderstorm. The rain was coming down in buckets. As she made her way around a turn she was blinded by the lights of an oncoming car and lost control. She swerved off the road and into a shallow gully before her car came to a hard stop. She smacked her head on the steering wheel, then all was black.
Her next memory was hearing the wail of the siren and looking into the dark brown eyes of one of the most handsome men she had ever seen.
“Hey there… my name is Johnny... You have been in a car accident and you are on the way to the hospital. How do you feel?” Her head pounded and the ambulance siren pierced through her skull.
“My head...hurts…” She responded, weakly reaching up to touch her forehead. His warm hand gently brought her hand back down to her side.
“I’m sure it does...you have quite the bump there...don’t worry, we will get you fixed right up soon when we get to the hospital.” He grinned at her and she was overwhelmed with his good looks and sweet personality. She had to find out more about him, but at the moment, her head hurt too much.
Elaine was treated for a concussion and was in the hospital for a day or so. In that time, she had found out from several of the nurses that his name was John Gage.
He worked out of station 51 and he was single! Some of the nurses told her that he was too immature and not ready to settle down but Elaine was determined to change his mind. It was meant to be and in her heart, she knew they were destined to be together...she couldn’t wait to thank him for rescuing her and to begin their relationship.
A week later, Elaine drove to the station, carrying a basket of muffins. She noticed that both the engine and squad were there. She made her way to the door and knocked. A tall man with bushy eyebrows opened the door. “Hello there,” he said, “how can I help you?”
“Oh hello,” Elaine smiled back, “I am here to see John Gage.”
“Oh sure, he is out in the dorm but come on in and I’ll get him for you.” Cap waved for her to enter. As he did so, Chet, who was reading the paper on the couch, stood up so he could meet the attractive brunette. “Hi there, I’m Chet Kelly.” He reached out and shook her hand, noticing her long wavy brown hair and stunning blue eyes. Marco also approached and smiled at her. “Hi, I’m Marco.”
Mike stood by the sink, arms crossed, and nodded hello.
“Hello, nice to meet you all,” she responded back, still holding the muffins. “Here, these are for all of you at the station, but I really wanted to thank John for saving me.”
She handed the muffins to Chet, who placed them on the table. Chet and Marco exchanged a look, still not sure who the woman was.
Elaine noticed their look of confusion. “I was the one that went off the road in that terrible thunderstorm last week and John saved me...I wanted to thank him.”
“Oh yeah,” Chet remembered who she was. “Well, we were ALL there.” He was a bit offended that Johnny was getting all of the credit.
“Well, he was the one that took care of me…oh here he is now!” She beamed as he came into the room.
He smiled back and went over to her. “Hi there, how are you feeling?”
“So much better now...thanks to you! I brought you some muffins.” By now she noticed all of the crew standing around watching their exchange. “Umm... could I talk to you for a minute...alone?”
“Sure...we can go outside,” Johnny offered and guided her to the exit as the rest of the men snickered and rolled their eyes.
Once they were in the parking lot she gazed into his dreamy brown eyes. “John, I have been thinking about you a lot and I want to thank you. I was really scared that night and you helped me get through it.”
“Well...I...it’s my job…” Johnny was becoming embarrassed. She was very attractive and seemed really sweet to come out there to thank him. “But I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name…”
“It’s Elaine….and umm...I know it’s kind of bold of me, but could we go out for coffee or something sometime?”
“Well, yeah...sure...that would be great....I have….” but before Johnny could continue the tones sounded and the station was called out to a car accident. “Sorry, I gotta go...leave your number on the table if you don’t mind and I’ll call ya. Nice to see you again…” He jogged quickly to the squad, leaving Elaine grinning from ear to ear.
On their first date Johnny and Elaine had gone to see a movie. Elaine grabbed onto Johnny’s hand during the movie and leaned into him. Johnny was attracted to Elaine but felt kind of uncomfortable that she was being so physical so fast. He politely held her hand back, feeling a little uneasy. At the end of the date, on Elaine’s doorstep, she eagerly leaned in for a kiss. He gave her a gentle kiss on the lips, then pulled away. “Why don’t you come in for awhile?” She suggested seductively.
“Sorry, I have an early shift...but I’ll call you and we can set something up for later in the week, ok?” Johnny did not want to rush into anything. He wanted to gradually get to know Elaine, not jump into anything serious right away.
Elaine frowned, disappointed but glad that he wanted to see her again. “Ok sure.”
Elaine thought of Johnny all night. How sweet he was, how handsome he was...she imagined them getting married, having children….her imagination took her into a land of blissful dreams….
The next day she knew Johnny was on duty and she HAD to see him. She quickly showered and dressed and arrived at the station by 8:00 am, knowing that is when their shift started. She quietly made her way into the station in time to see the men lined up for roll call. She cleared her throat.
The men looked in her direction, surprised to see her.
“Elaine! What are you doing here? Is everything ok?” Johnny asked concerned.
“Oh yes...I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful time last night.” Before Johnny could respond she latched onto him and gave him a long kiss. The men looked on, shocked at how bold she was, and a little jealous.
Johnny reached up and grabbed her arms that were wrapped around his neck, and pushed her gently away. “Umm..sorry but now is not the time...I am at work….look I’ll call you later ok?”
“Ok sweetheart… I’ll talk to you soon.” With that, she made her way out to the parking lot.
The men immediately started giving Johnny a hard time.
Roy grinned, Mike rolled his eyes and Chet said, “Wow Gage, one date and she is hooked already, what did you do, drug her or something?”
“Ha, ha...very funny Chet.” Johnny frowned.
“Hey Johnny, does she have any sisters? She is a knock out!” Marco asked hopefully.
“Yeah, I guess she has a half-sister but we didn’t talk all that much,” Johnny admitted.
“Oh really?” Chet asked amused. “Well you must have done SOMETHING right the way she latched onto you.”
“For your information Chet, we went to see a movie and then I dropped her off at her place...not that it’s any of your business!” Johnny fumed.
“Ok you twits, time to get to work,” Cap ordered. “John, you know she can’t come to the station and act like that I hope.”
“I’m sorry Cap. I’ll talk to her as soon as I can about it.” Johnny could feel himself becoming flushed with embarrassment.
“C’mon Romeo, let’s go take care of the dorm,” Roy teased.
A few hours later, Roy and Johnny returned from the hospital after transporting the victims from a car accident. As they made their way into the kitchen, they were greeted with Cap standing with his hands on his hips, a scowl on his face.
“Gage, in my office, now,” he said sternly.
Johnny looked confused and glanced at the others who just shook their heads, not hinting as to why he was being summoned by an angry Cap.
Cap told Johnny to sit down and shut the door. “John,” he began, “we have only been back from that accident for an hour and Elaine has called here 3 times! You need to talk to her!”
“I’m so sorry Cap, I will...I promise…”
“John, are you sure you should be dating her? I know it’s none of my business, but she is a little on the clingy side wouldn’t you say...and this is after ONE date?” Cap questioned.
“I know Cap.. but she does seem like a real nice girl...I’ll talk to her and give it a little longer, ok?”
“Fine, it’s your life, but she can’t be disturbing the station all the time…” Cap ordered. As he finished his sentence and opened his door, the phone rang…
“Gage! Phone call!”
Two weeks later Johnny had seen Elaine several more times and she had called him often, mostly at home since he told her to stop calling the station, although she occasionally still called there too. She wanted to spend every spare second he had with him, but he also had other things to do, like help Roy fix his roof on one of their days off. Johnny wasn’t sure if he should still continue to see her. Yeah, she was fun to be with and very pretty, but the clinginess was getting a bit too much for him to handle. He decided to ask Roy’s opinion.
Johnny was on Roy’s roof, squatting down and pounding the shingles on. Roy was close beside him doing the same. Johnny had his shirt off and was wearing jeans. Sweat trickled down his bronze back as the sun beat down on them. Roy again noticed the vivid white scars against the bronze skin.
“Roy,” Johnny began, “can I ask you something?”
Roy stopped pounding and sat back, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Sure what is it?”
“It’s Elaine...do you think I should end it with her?” Johnny squinted against the sun to try to see Roy’s expression.
Roy frowned, “Well...do you care about her?”
Johnny hesitated… “Yeah, I guess...I mean we have fun when we are together...she is kinda pushy though...and still calls me ALL the time. She wants to know where I am every minute.”
“I don’t know...if she is like this now, it might be even worse later in your relationship, but if you have a good time with her, then maybe give it a little longer? How long has it been, a couple of weeks?” Roy asked.
“Yeah...about that...I guess I will see how things go for a bit longer...thanks Pally.” Johnny grinned and picked up the hammer again.
“Hey Junior, let’s take a break for awhile...from the way we are both sweating, I think we need it.”
As they were making their way down the ladder, a car pulled into the driveway and out jumped Elaine. She noticed Johnny’s lean muscular body, tanned by the summer sun. Sweat glistened against his dark skin. She was so attracted to him! He walked towards her as she approached him.
“Elaine? What are you doing here?” He questioned, wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.
“I know you said you were working on the roof today and I wanted to bring you something cold to drink. I have lemonade in my cooler...I’ll go get it.”
Johnny thought for a moment that he shouldn’t have told her Roy’s address.
At that moment, Joanne came out of the house carrying a tray with iced tea for the guys. She saw Elaine and asked Roy, “Who is that?”
“Joanne,” Johnny stated, “this is Elaine and Elaine this is Joanne, Roy’s wife. Elaine, it looks like we are all set with the drinks, but thanks for thinking of us.”
“Oh ok, well, why don’t I stay and visit for a bit? I would love to get to know Joanne better since I think the 4 of us are going to be spending a lot of time together!”
Roy and Johnny exchanged a look. Joanne looked a bit confused, unsure of what to do.
“Oh, ok... let’s all go out to the deck and have some iced tea,” Joanne suggested.
Several hours later, Roy and Johnny once again made their way down the ladder and were met with Elaine rambling to Joanne about how wonderful Johnny was. At last, Johnny suggested that they head home and leave Roy and Joanne to an evening to themselves, since the kids were at Joanne’s parents.
“Thanks again Junior, I’ll see you tomorrow at work. I hope I didn’t work you too hard today,” Roy grinned.
“No problem Pally. Glad I could help. Bye Joanne.” Johnny grabbed his t-shirt and guided Elaine to their vehicles.
“Nice to meet you Joanne!” Elaine hollered over her shoulder. “Hope to see you soon!”
Once Johnny and Elaine were gone Joanne confronted Roy. “That woman is nuts!”
“What? Why?” Roy asked.
“Do you know she has plans to marry Johnny, she has picked out names for their children, where they are going to live AND she has been following you to your rescues?”
“Yes, since she is in sales, she can make her own schedule...I don’t know how she is making any money because when Johnny is working she is following him around and when he is off, she tries to spend time with him! Roy, I am concerned...does Johnny know what she is like?” Joanne was worried about Johnny. He was like a younger brother to her and she wanted to protect him.
“He asked me today if he should break up with her...but I had no idea she was THAT obsessed. I guess I need to talk to him about it.” Roy would talk to Johnny tomorrow and suggest he break up with Elaine after all.
Johnny drove to his apartment, his body weary from a long day of working on Roy’s roof. All he wanted to do was take a shower, grab a bite to eat and go to bed. He had told Elaine that was his plan and she had sadly agreed to go home and let him get some rest. But as he drove into his parking lot, he noticed a car pull in beside him. It was Elaine.
They both got out of their vehicles. Johnny scowled, becoming a bit annoyed. “Elaine, I thought I told you that I wanted to just relax tonight.”
“Oh Johnny, I just think what you need is a nice massage. You must be so sore from all of your hard work today.” She reached up and started to rub his shoulders.
“No, I am sorry Elaine, I need to get some rest.” He pulled her hands away from him.
“But Johnny, I can make you feel SO much better.” She reached up to him and ran her hands through his hair. Then she stood on her tip-toes and began gently licking his neck, which tasted salty and sweet. Her whole body tingled.
“Elaine!” He pushed her back, getting angry. “Look, I need to shower and rest. I have to work early tomorrow. Please go home and DON’T call me. I will call you on my next day off ok?”
“Fine! But you had better call me as SOON as you get off shift!” She turned, got into her car, slammed the door and peeled out of the parking lot. She would be there tomorrow when he went on shift and she would continue to follow him, as she had been doing for the past 2 weeks.
“Anyone know where our young Romeo is this morning?” Cap asked, a bit annoyed, as he took roll call. It was 8:05 and Johnny had not arrived.
“Well, he was with me yesterday helping me with the roof but…” Roy began, and was cut off by Johnny running into the bay, shirt untucked and hair flying everywhere.
“Sorry!” He said, a bit winded, as he skidded to a stop beside Roy and began tucking in his shirt. “I overslept.”
“Glad you could join us Gage… guess you know you get the latrine?” Cap asked. Chet chuckled. Johnny glared at him.
After Cap announced the rest of the list of chores, the men began to disperse. Chet began to walk away but turned to Johnny and asked, with a grin, “What’s the matter Gage? Elaine keep you up all night?”
“Shut up Chet!” Johnny scowled. Chet laughed and walked towards the kitchen.
Roy tapped Johnny on the shoulder and said quietly, “I need to talk to you about Elaine.”
“Oh?” Johnny asked, curious.
“Yeah, Joanne told me….” At that moment, the tones sounded, calling the station to a structure fire.
“Guess it will have to wait Pally,” Johnny said with a grin, jogging to the squad.
Usually when Elaine followed the squad to the rescues she kept her distance and watched from her car but this was the first time since she started dating Johnny that they had been called out to a fire this big. She was worried about him. She parked her car a good distance away, then jogged up to join the crowd that had gathered. By that time, the firemen had hooked up their hoses and were getting their gear on to enter the building. It was some kind of factory but Elaine was not sure exactly what they produced there. She did know there was fire and thick black smoke pouring from the windows. She could see Johnny swing his air tank over his shoulder, put the mask in place and secure the helmet on his head. How could he be going in there? It was far too dangerous!
There were several other stations called to the scene as well. As the men were about to enter the building, the chief jogged over to them and said something to them, but Elaine couldn’t hear what it was. She knew she couldn’t let Johnny endanger his life! He was about 30 feet from entering the building with Roy and some of the others when she ran to him. She had to stop him!
Johnny was the closest one to entering the building when from behind him he heard a woman screaming his name. He turned in time to see Elaine running towards him, with a frantic look on her face.
“JOHNNY! DON’T GO IN THERE!”
Suddenly there was a series of explosions from the building. Johnny turned just in time to grab Elaine and place his body between her and the blast. The force of the explosion threw them several feet, plummeting Johnny’s back and helmet with bricks and mortar. As they landed he tried to cradle her yet not let his full weight land on her at the same time. In the process he felt the sharp pain of bones breaking in his wrist and the continuing pelting of bricks against his back and helmet…then all was black.
Elaine lay there for a moment, not quite sure what happened. There was a loud ringing in her ears and she could feel a weight against her back. Suddenly there was no weight and she could faintly hear someone asking her if she was ok. Then she remembered…
“Johnny!” She rolled over, her palms and knees bloodied, but no broken bones.
“Take it easy...let’s take a look at you,” one of the paramedics with the number 18 on his helmet helped her to her feet and guided her to the side of the squad. As she limped over with him, she could see Roy and some of the other men removing Johnny’s gear and beginning to check him over.
“Johnny?” She began to struggle away from the paramedic’s grasp. “I need to go see if he’s ok… PLEASE!”
“Miss, they need to check him out, let’s get you checked out too. You were pretty close to that blast.” He held her arm firm.
“Let go of me right now!!” She demanded angrily and pushed at him until he gave in. She limped her way over to Johnny, who was groaning but only semi-conscious. Her clothes were torn and bloodied but she had to see if he was ok. She pushed between Chet and Marco and knelt next to Johnny. Marco gave her a dirty look and Chet rolled his eyes. “Johnny? Are you ok?”
Roy looked at her annoyed, as she was in the way. “Elaine, please move back. I need to take his vitals.”
“Johnny?? Wake up! It’s me...your love...I’m right here baby. Please wake up!” She leaned into him, putting bloodied palms on each of his shoulders.
Johnny moaned slightly, but did not open his eyes. At that moment Cap came over, ordering Marco and Chet back to the fire. “How is he Roy?”
“I can’t tell yet Cap because she is in the way and I can’t get his vitals.” Roy was more than a little annoyed. He had also been in the blast but not as close as Johnny had been. The rest of the crew had gotten struck by some of the debris but Johnny had taken the worst hit. The others had minor bruises and scrapes.
“Elaine,” Cap encouraged, “Come on, let Roy have some space and help Johnny. You need to get some help yourself…” Cap noticed her hands and legs continuing to bleed slightly, and embedded with dirt.
“I don’t care about me! I want to stay with Johnny!!”
“Now look, Roy can’t help John with you in the way. Get out of the way NOW or I will have you arrested!” Cap was tired of being patient and playing games. Johnny was hurt and needed medical attention.
Elaine became teary and finally agreed to back off, allowing Bill, the paramedic from squad 18, to tend to her injuries.
As Roy was finishing taking Johnny’s vitals he began to come to. His whole body throbbed, but his wrist hurt the most. He could tell that it was broken. He could hear Roy talking to Rampart and the commotion in the background of the other crews trying to battle the fire. He heard more sirens and men giving orders, and he heard a woman crying.
Roy noticed him stirring. “Johnny? Hey, how are you doing?”
“Feels like…I’ve been hit...by a truck…” He groaned.
“Close...how about by a building?” Roy smiled.
Roy was getting the needle ready to insert the IV when Johnny remembered that Elaine had been there.
“Elaine!?” Johnny tried to sit up, but the pain was too intense from the beating he endured by the bricks. He lay back and groaned in pain. Roy placed a gentle hand on his chest.
“Johnny, you need to relax...Elaine is a little scraped up, but she is fine… she is right over there.” Roy nodded in her direction.
Johnny turned his head to see her and could see her tear streaked face. Bill was wrapping her hands in bandages. Elaine smiled at Johnny, glad that he was awake. Johnny tried to smile back, but he hurt too much.
Dr. Brackett squinted at the x-rays. “Well Johnny,” he began as he made his way back to Johnny’s side, “it looks like you have a clean break of the radius and ulna so no surgery needed this time.” Brackett’s mouth turned up slightly, with a twitch. “Luckily there are no other breaks but you have some deep bruising and a concussion. I can give you a mild pain killer for now but I don’t want to put you into too deep of a sleep since we have to do neuro checks on you. You will need to stay with us for a few days and from the looks of your back, you won’t be moving around much anyway.”
Johnny groaned, some from the pain and some from the thought of staying in the hospital, again.
Roy stood by his side and added, “Yeah and and when you are released you can come stay with me. It looks like you might have some trouble getting around for awhile.” Roy had seen the deep bruising on Johnny’s back and couldn’t imagine how painful it must be. He knew he would be sore for quite some time. “Plus, you won’t be returning to work anytime soon with that wrist either.”
Johnny simply nodded his head slightly, wishing they would hurry up with the pain meds.
“And I hear that you have someone else in your life who would love to take care of you,” Dr. Brackett said with a slight chuckle. Johnny just groaned again.
Roy rolled his eyes. “You should have seen her in the ambulance Doc, I had to practically tie her to her seat. She was hovering all over Johnny. Thank God Dixie insisted she go into another treatment room to get her wounds cleaned out.”
Brackett smiled while writing on Johnny’s chart, ordering the pain meds to be given every 4 hours.
“Johnny, remember I still need to talk to you about her. Johnny?” Roy asked, a bit concerned.
Johnny had squeezed his eyes shut, trying to deal with the pain pulsating through his head and body. Brackett noticed and ordered nurse Betty to get the meds right away.
“It looks like that had better wait awhile Roy. Let’s get him those pain meds, then we’ll send him to ortho for his wrist. After that, we’ll get him settled into a room.”
“Sounds good Doc. I’ll try to keep Elaine out of there so he can get some rest.”
“Good luck,” Brackett smirked.
“Thanks, I’ll need it…I’ll be back to check on you soon Johnny… get some rest.” Johnny nodded slightly.
Roy had just walked out of Johnny’s treatment room when he was met in the hallway by Elaine, looking for Johnny.
“Where is he?” She demanded, “Is he in there?” Roy noticed her hands and knees bandaged. “Is he ok? I need to see him.”
“He is heading to get his wrist taken care of, then he needs to get some rest. They are giving him pain medication. It’s best if you go home and rest too,” Roy suggested.
“I am NOT leaving until I see him and know he’s ok!” She demanded again.
“Look, you are NOT going to see him today!” Roy raised his voice, becoming more and more angry with the stubborn woman.
Dixie came out of one of the treatment rooms with a scowl on her face. “What is going on out here? Don’t you know this is a hospital? What are the two of you doing yelling at each other in the middle of the hallway?”
“I’m sorry Dix, but Elaine here insists on seeing Johnny and I told her to go home. He needs to rest.”
Dixie eyed Elaine and noticed her staring fiercely at Roy, her mouth set in a firm line. “You have no right to keep me from him!” She growled.
“No, but I do,” Dixie insisted. “I am the head nurse here and my patients come first. I suggest that you do as Roy says and leave here for tonight. You are not next of kin to Johnny and he needs rest.”
“I think I need to call security,” Dix said to Roy as she made her way to the phone at the nurse’s station.
Before she could pick it up, Elaine gave in. “Fine! I will go, but I will be back first thing tomorrow and you can’t stop me!” She turned and limped her way to the exit, fuming all the way.
“Wow, what is Johnny doing with HER? Are they really getting married?” Dixie asked astonished, as Elaine was walking out the door.
“No way Dix, and if I have anything to do with it, he won’t be with her much longer…”
A few hours later Roy quietly opened the door to Johnny’s hospital room and peeked in. Roy had been released from duty for the day since he had also gotten a little banged up in the blast. Johnny was lying on his side, a bright white cast on his wrist. His eyes were closed. Roy silently walked over to his bed.
“Roy?” Johnny asked, sensing his presence.
“Oh hey, I thought you were asleep,” Roy said as he pulled up a chair and sat down.
“No, but probably will be soon. They just gave me another pain pill a few minutes ago.” Johnny rolled over on his back with a grimace and a grunt. He then pushed the button to elevate his bed so he could sit up better.
“How are you feeling?” Roy asked.
“Hurts quite a bit...I feel like one big bruise,” Johnny admitted.
“Well, from the looks of your back, I’d say that is about right,” Roy agreed. “Hey listen, I need to talk to you about Elaine.”
“Yeah, why was she even at the fire to begin with? Although I have to admit, she probably saved us from being killed...I feel bad for the victims inside that didn’t make it.” Johnny frowned.
“I know...but listen, from what Joanne told me she has been following us to our rescues.”
“What?! For how long?” Johnny’s mouth hung open in shock.
“Since she met you I guess...she has been pretty good about keeping it low key until today….Johnny you need to end it with her. I know I told you to give it awhile longer, but according to Joanne, she has your whole life planned together, including baby names!”
“Are you kidding me?” Johnny asked astonished, running a hand through his dark hair. “What the hell? I’ve only been dating her a few weeks for crying out loud!”
“I know...she is nuts…” Roy admitted.
“Yeah, I heard the 2 of you yelling at each other in the hallway downstairs.”
“Yeah I’m surprised she is not knocking down your door right now. Hopefully she will at least stay away for today, but after that I can’t make any promises.” Roy shook his head, remembering how determined Elaine was to see Johnny.
“I need to see her anyway,” Johnny began, “now I know for sure that I need to break things off. I’ll tell her when she comes to see me.”
“Do you want me here with you? To be honest, I don’t know if I trust what her reaction will be,” Roy confessed.
“Nah...I really need to do it alone but thanks Pally.” Johnny yawned deeply and his eyes began to droop.
“I’ll let you get some rest,” Roy said, standing up to leave. “I have tomorrow off so I’ll come visit in the afternoon.”
“Sounds good, thanks Pally, I’ll see you then.”
Roy made his way out the door, worried about Johnny. Not his physical condition, but more of how Elaine would react once Johnny broke up with her.
The next day, as soon as visiting hours began, Elaine was pushing her way into Johnny’s room, carrying a chocolate milkshake. She noticed his sleepy brown eyes and messed hair. He looked exhausted.
“Hey sweetheart,” she began, limping slightly as she walked over to his bed. “I brought you a milkshake.” She placed the drink on the table and leaned over to kiss him. He pulled away from her touch.
“What’s wrong baby? Are you in pain?” She asked, blue eyes wide with concern.
“Look Elaine,” he began with a sigh, “we need to talk.”
“What is it?” She asked, innocently.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure how to say this… but we need to stop seeing each other.”
“What?!!” Her eyes began to brim with tears. “Why? We are soul mates!”
“No Elaine, we are not. You are a nice person and we had some fun together, but you are...well...kind of clingy...and…”
“Of course! I want to be with you! That is what people do when they are in love!” Her voice began to quiver and she was becoming quite loud.
“I’m sorry Elaine, I’m not in love with you...you can’t come to the station and kiss me like you did, and call ALL the time...and you certainly can’t follow us to our rescues. You could have been killed.” Johnny was trying to talk calmly to her but his head, back and wrist were throbbing with each beat of his heart. All he really wanted to do was to be left alone with some pain medication and to get some rest.
“I saved your life! You would have been killed! And what do I get for a reward? For you to break up with me?! You ungrateful bastard! That is what you are! How dare you!” She began screaming at him and suddenly began to hit him with her bandaged fists. He put up his arms to protect his face and she pelted him as hard as she could, as many places as she could. Her fists landed on his broken wrist, his face, his head…
“Elaine stop!” Johnny demanded, his body protesting in agony at the pounding.
Finally, 2 nurses came running into the room and managed to get ahold of her. She struggled to try to break free of their grasp. At that moment, Dr. Brackett came hurrying into the room. “What is going on!?”
“She was beating Mr. Gage and screaming,” one of them admitted, as Elaine continued to struggle to get free.
“Nancy, call security. I’ll take care of her,” Brackett demanded, but once Nancy released her grasp Elaine wiggled out of the other nurse’s hold and kicked Dr. Brackett as hard as she could in the shin before escaping out the door.
“Arggh!!” Brackett cried out, doubling over. “Security!” He hollered out the door, then limped over to Johnny. The other nurse had gone over to Johnny and was checking him over to make sure he was ok.
“Johnny? Are you alright?” Brackett groaned, his leg throbbing. He noticed Johnny’s bleeding lip.
“Yeah, I think my cast took most of the beating...shit that hurts.” Johnny groaned.
“What the hell happened? Did you break up with her?” Brackett questioned, already knowing the answer.
“Yeah...she took it...kinda hard…” Johnny grinned and both he and Brackett burst out laughing.
“Well, I think that is quite the understatement, but seriously Johnny….” Brackett became more serious, knowing the woman could be unstable. “I would like to post a security man outside your door while you are here. I don’t trust her.”
“Doc, do you really think that is necessary?” Johnny asked.
“From what I just witnessed, yes I do.” Brackett’s lip twitched.
It was several days later when Johnny was resting on Roy’s couch that Roy’s 6 year old daughter, Jennifer, came bounding in the doorway, home from school with a big grin on her face. She immediately ran over to “Uncle” Johnny and plopped on the couch beside him. Johnny moaned slightly at the sudden movement. He was still bruised and sore but was beginning to be able to move around a little easier. Jennifer was followed in the door by her big brother, Chris, who was 9.
“Uncle Johnny, I have a note for you!” Jen said excited, handing Johnny the crinkled paper.
“Oh?” Johnny asked, a bit confused as he took the paper. He glanced at Chris who had a scowl on his face.
“Some woman met us as we came out of school,” Chris began, “Guess she was asking who ‘Roy’s kids’ were and some of the other kids told her. Then she gave Jen the note. She seemed kind of...strange.”
Johnny unfolded the note and silently read the message:
I miss you my love. I know Roy told me to stop calling his house and that he won’t let me in to see you, but I need to. I can’t stop thinking about you. I was angry when we broke up, but now I forgive you. Let’s meet and we can talk. I know that we are destined to be together. Call me my darling…
All my love, Elaine
“Who is that lady Uncle Johnny?” Jen asked, with big innocent eyes.
“Oh, don’t worry about her Jen. She is just…”
At that moment, Roy walked in from the deck and asked, “What’s up?”
“Some weird lady gave Jen a note after school to give to Uncle Johnny,” Chris admitted.
“What?!” Roy told the kids to go upstairs and change into their play clothes and then head outside to play. Joanne had gone to get groceries. Once they were out of earshot Roy asked Johnny. “It was Elaine wasn’t it?”
Johnny nodded glumly. “She wants me to call her.”
“What the hell? Now she is getting my children involved?” Roy took the note and quickly read it. He was angry. “Johnny, you need to put a stop to this. She calls here all the time, she has tried to come visit and I’ve seen her car outside more than once watching the house. Now she has my kids involved. You need to get a restraining order against her.”
Johnny nodded. He knew that Roy was right. He also knew he had to go back to his own apartment. If Elaine was that mentally unstable, he did not want to put their lives in danger in any way.
“You’re right Roy. I will take care of that in the morning. I’m going to head back to my own place too. You have done enough for me and I really appreciate it.”
“Johnny, I didn’t mean you had to leave. I don’t want you alone.” Roy felt bad because that was not his intention at all.
“Don’t worry Pally. I’ll be fine. I’ll call you if I need you ok?”
“Ok, but please, be careful Junior...I don’t trust her and neither should you.”
Elaine couldn’t believe that Johnny had not contacted her yet. Surely he had gotten the note last week. When she had called Roy’s house, the phone had gone unanswered. She would try to go over again...or maybe Johnny had returned to his own apartment? She would find out by the end of the day, one way or another.
Elaine had just finished getting dressed and was going through her mail when the doorbell rang. She had placed the big stack of unpaid bills on her dining room table, then made her way over to answer the door.
She was surprised to see two LA policemen standing in her doorway holding a letter.
“Elaine Preston?” One of them asked.
“Yes, what is this about?” Elaine asked with a scowl.
“ We are here to deliver a restraining order. You are not allowed to have any contact with John Gage. If you fail to follow this order, you will be arrested. Any questions?”
“What?!” Elaine gasped in shock and anger. “This MUST be some kind of mistake. John and I are getting married.”
“Sorry miss, not according to this. Please, follow the law or there will be consequences.” The men nodded, and made their way back to the police cruiser.
Elaine closed the door, letter in hand and read it, tears streaming down her face. How could he? They were meant to be! She HAD to talk to him! She HAD to see him! Once the police were out of sight she gathered her purse and keys and drove to Johnny’s apartment.
As she got closer, she saw his Rover parked in the parking lot. He was there! She quickly made her way up the steps and knocked on the door. “Johnny??? It’s me... Elaine...open the door… we need to talk...I know you are there…” No answer… “John Gage! OPEN THE DOOR!”
Johnny tried to ignore her, hoping she would go away, but finally decided to let her in. Maybe he could talk some sense into her.
“Come in, and stop hollering would ya?” Johnny asked as she made her way into his living room.
“Oh Johnny! My love! I have missed you so much!” She launched herself at him and wrapped her arms around him. He grunted at her tight embrace, his bruised back screaming in protest. He managed to wiggle out of her embrace.
“Elaine, what are you doing here? Didn’t you get my restraining order? You are not supposed to come near me or have any contact with me,” Johnny scowled.
“Oh Johnny, don’t be silly, why don’t we go in the kitchen and have something cold to drink and we can talk about this,” Elaine crooned and took Johnny’s hand, bringing him into the kitchen.
“Elaine, I am serious. You have GOT to leave me alone and Roy’s kids? Are you crazy? Why did you get them involved?”
“Because I knew that little brat would give you the note before Roy could stop her. It was the only way to communicate with you!” She snapped. “Now…” she began in a sweet voice again… “let’s talk about us…what do you have to drink?” She opened the fridge and took out some soda.
Johnny shook his head, realizing how unstable she really was. One moment sweet, the next a psycho.
“Elaine, you need to leave….there is no ‘us’.”
She took a sip of soda and smiled. “Oh yes there is...we have our whole life ahead of us darling...marriage, a house, children. Do you like the name Gwen for a girl? I always thought that was such a pretty…”
“ELAINE! STOP! I DO NOT LOVE YOU! I DO NOT WANT TO MARRY YOU! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY APARTMENT OR I WILL CALL THE POLICE!” Johnny screamed as loud as he possibly could.
Elaine froze, her eyes filling with tears. From the corner of her eye, she saw knives by the refrigerator. In one quick movement she grabbed the biggest one she could find and swung at Johnny, easily slicing through his t-shirt and skin of his chest. He stepped back, grabbing at the wound, stumbling backwards.
“Well if I can’t have you, then NO ONE will!” She could see the blood seeping through his fingers as he stumbled back into the living room and somehow managed to reach the door. She leapt after him, lunging with the knife once again. This time he managed to dodge out of the way some, but as he opened his door she caught him with the blade in the back of the thigh. He fell halfway out the door as the knife cut into his flesh. “Someone...call… the...police!” He yelled as best he could while pain lanced through his leg and chest. Luckily for Johnny, two of his neighbors were bringing in groceries and saw him bloodied and hanging out of his doorway, with a frantic wild-eyed woman hovering behind him.
“What the hell?” Sam, the neighbor asked as he threw down the bag and made his way to help Johnny. “What is going on?” He yelled to the woman with him, “Sue, call the police and an ambulance!” Sue ran into their apartment to make the call. In the meantime, Elaine saw Sam coming towards her. She threw down the knife, jumped over Johnny and ran to her car. She peeled out of the parking lot as Sam knelt next to a bleeding and panting Johnny.
“Johnny, what happened? What can I do?” Sam knew Johnny was a paramedic. Johnny was covered in blood, even his white cast was splashed with it.
“Put...pressure...on my...leg...bleeding...a lot…”Johnny panted out. Luckily the chest wound was not very deep but he could tell he was losing a lot of blood from his leg. Sam nodded and quickly took off his shirt and stuffed it as tightly as he could in the wound. Johnny was becoming very dizzy and knew he was going to pass out.
“Johnny, who WAS that?” Sam asked… “Johnny?” But Johnny couldn’t hear him.
Johnny once again found himself in a treatment room at Rampart hospital with Roy by his side, Roy’s face smeared with soot and ash. Johnny’s hair was still damp from being sprayed by the hose in the fire. His shoulder continued to throb with each beat of his heart. He was thankful that Marco had only suffered some minor scrapes on his leg.
Dr. Early gently probed his shoulder while Johnny clenched his teeth. “Well, Johnny,” he began,“from the x-rays there are no breaks but you have bruised the bone. It is going to take some time to heal. I want to put your arm in a sling and give you some pain medication. After that, you should be ok to go home and ice it and rest. I’m afraid you will be out of work for a few weeks though. You also might have to do some physical therapy before you go back to work.”
Roy sighed with relief and Johnny grimaced. He was not looking forward to being out of work that long and knew he would go stir crazy. On the other hand, he was looking forward to spending some time with Autumn and hopefully sharing his feelings with her.
Two days later there was a quiet knock on the door of Johnny’s apartment. “Come in!” He hollered from the couch, his arm still in the sling. He had stopped taking the stronger pain medication prescribed by the hospital but found that he still had to take aspirin. The pain wasn’t as intense as it had been but his shoulder was still stiff and sore.
Autumn entered, carrying a pizza and a six pack of beer.
“Just what the doctor ordered.” Johnny chuckled and got up to grab the beer.
“I got it!” Autumn grinned. “You just rest that shoulder of yours.” She made her way to the fridge and put most of the beer in, keeping out 2. When she turned, Johnny was standing right next to her, gazing deeply into her eyes.
“Before we eat, I want to talk to you,” he said quietly. He bent down and gave her a long, passionate kiss. She felt her whole body tingle, but tried to keep her cool.
He took her hand and brought her to the couch. “Sit down.”
She sat on the edge of the couch, her heart beating wildly. From the look in his eyes, she knew what he was going to say.
“Autumn,” he began in a soft voice, “I know we haven’t known each other long, but I really care for you. You are beautiful and caring... I think I’m falling in love with you.”
His deep brown eyes gazed into her blue ones, waiting for a response.
“NO! Don’t say that!” She jumped up from the couch and began pacing in the livingroom.
He was totally confused. “What? Why?” He stood up, beside her. “If you don’t feel the same, then tell me. I just can’t figure you out, you act like you care about me most days, but some days you treat me like a total stranger. How DO you feel?”
“I...I...I don’t know!” Autumn burst into tears, sat on the couch and buried her face in her hands.
“Well, do you need more time? I don’t want to rush you into anything.” Johnny sat by her again, gently rubbing her back.
“No, it’s not that...I can’t love you.” She continued to sob.
“What the hell does SHE have to do with any of this? How do you even KNOW her?” He stood up again, and this time he was the one pacing. Elaine had almost killed him the night she attacked him. Luckily his neighbor had been there to help control the bleeding. He had still lost a lot of blood and had spent a week in the hospital. It didn’t take the police long to track down Elaine and have her arrested. He was relieved that she was serving time for a restraining order violation and attempted murder.
“She is...my sister.” Autumn looked up through teary eyes to see Johnny’s mouth fall open in shock.
Autumn stood up and faced him, placing a hand on his good arm. “You have to understand that I started dating you at first because she wanted revenge...she wanted me to hurt you...but I can’t do it. I REALLY do have feelings for you. That is why some days I was distance. I was trying to sort this out. I knew I was supposed to hurt you and that is why I didn’t want to love you...but I can’t help it...I DO love you.”
Johnny’s mind was reeling. Elaine’s sister? “But why did you agree to do something like that to begin with? What kind of person would DO that?” He pulled away from her touch.
“No, you don’t understand…” Autumn held out her arm. “Remember you asked me about these scars? Elaine saved me from an abusive step-father. She went to court and got me out of that house so I could go live with her. I owed her. I had to pay her back for what she did for me.”
“Oh I see,” Johnny scoffed, “well I guess your little game worked because I fell for you...So the night we met?... That was all planned out?”
“Yes...Elaine said that the bowling alley was one of your favorite places...and she had a picture of you so...I knew what you looked like.” Autumn looked down at the floor, ashamed of how she tricked Johnny.
“So when you asked me for help with your bowling that night...that was just to meet me right?” Johnny scowled becoming more and more annoyed and hurt.
“I’m so sorry...I know Elaine will be mad at me, but I don’t care. You and I CAN make it work.”
“Autumn, I don’t think so... do you know Elaine almost KILLED me?! And our whole relationship has been a lie? How can I trust you again?” Johnny ran his good hand through his thick hair and sighed. “You just need to go. Please...just go.”
“I don’t blame you for not trusting me but I DO care about you. I never really wanted to hurt you but I felt guilty after all that Elaine did for me. I felt that I owed her. I’m so sorry Johnny… I understand. I know you need some time to think things through. Please call me.” She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then she grabbed her purse and quietly closed the door behind her.
Later that evening Johnny sat staring out into the tumbling waves of the ocean. The wind tossed through his long dark hair. The sun was setting, creating a brilliant color of red and orange against the dark sea. He had been there for hours, thinking of his relationship with Autumn and how it had all been a lie. He felt hurt and betrayed. He wondered if he would ever find a woman to share his life with. He was deep in thought when he felt a presence beside him. He knew it was Roy.
“Hey Junior. How are you doing?” Roy sat in the soft sand beside him.
“Hey Pally, what are you doing here?”
“Autumn called me. She’s worried about you. She told me what happened. I couldn’t believe it! I hope it’s ok that she shared that with me.”
“Of course, but I feel like a fool,” Johnny confessed. “How did you know I was here?”
“Well, I knew you couldn’t drive far with that shoulder, so I knew you wouldn’t be in the mountains and I know this is your second choice when you need to think.” Roy smiled.
“Geez...didn’t know I was so predictable.”
“Hey listen,” Roy continued, “you have nothing to be embarrassed about with this whole thing. None of this is your fault. You had no idea she was related to Elaine. How could you?”
“I just can’t believe that our whole relationship was built on a lie… she says she loves me, that she didn’t want to hurt me, but how can I trust her? I will always have my doubts.”
“I know you are hurting right now Junior, but give it some time. Maybe you will decide to work it out with her once you give it more thought,” Roy suggested.
“I don’t know...I just wish I could find someone...maybe it’s meant to be for me to be single.” Johnny looked away, trying to hide the tears in his eyes.
“Junior, you will find someone, when the time is right..heck you’re not even 30 yet. Enjoy being single...believe me, being married is not always a picnic.” Roy chuckled, trying to lighten the mood.
“Yeah,” Johnny wiped at his eyes, forcing a grin. “I guess I can enjoy the sunset with my best Pal.” He slapped Roy on the back with his good arm.
“Just don’t ask me for a kiss.” They burst out laughing as the waves continued to lap the shore and the sun melted into the horizon.
Posted To Site 7/10/17
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