← Writing Inspiration for Hunter
I hope you enjoy this bonus scene... the night that started Hunter's stripping career!
I stifle a deep yawn and glance at my phone. Damn. It’s not even ten o’clock and I’m beat.
“Are we boring you there, Cap?” Ryan raises a glass of sweet tea to his lips, cocking an eyebrow in my direction.
I lay down the cards in my hand and stretch my arms up, clasping them high over my head while I shoot my best friend and coworker a look over our game of Gin Rummy.
“This game isn’t exactly a barnburner.”
“Got something better to be doing?”
No. That’s for sure. It’s a quiet Wednesday night and I’m smack in the middle of a thirty-six-hour shift. Not that weeknights are usually a busy time at the Kissing Springs Fire Station… but still.
I reach for my water and, for a second, consider grabbing an energy drink from the kitchen when the alarm sounds. I take a deep breath as the adrenaline of a call surges through my veins. No energy drink needed.
I meet Ryan’s eyes across the table as the legs of our chairs scrape across the floor, the game forgotten. Less than two minutes later, in my gear and ready to roll, I climb up into the driver’s seat of Engine No. 2 and pull on my headset. The crackle of the dispatcher, repeating the address and relaying the code for a medical emergency, sounds in my ears. I glance sidelong over at Ryan, in the passenger seat, who, with his own headset on, shrugs.
A medical emergency at the Hot Derby Nights?
It could be anything. The male revue, which has only grown in popularity from its introduction years ago, now draws visitors from across the country to Kissing Springs, especially in December.
At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never seen it.
For a second, I wonder if Hannah’s gone. The thought prickles my skin and I dismiss it almost immediately. A quiet movie at home, or maybe a hot bath, is more her style than a raucous stripper show. As her former best friend, I would know.
But maybe she’s changed in the four years since we last spoke. It’s not like she’s dated in that time, at least not that I’m aware of—at least not since that fucker Ray. But I could see Chloe, her best girl friend, convincing her to go. After all, the holidays can be a lonely time. I would know.
I pull out of the station, flipping on the siren and lights as Ryan relays our ETA.
The ambulance has not yet arrived when I park in front of the newly expanded Santa show hall that’s decorated for Christmas year round even though it now hosts several events and concerts throughout the year, especially in the summer.
Ryan and I grab our medical kits and jump out as Bear, in security, holds open the door. “We have an elderly guest who was dancing in the aisle with a Santa when she took a tumble and appears to have injured her hip.”
I glance around the plush lobby, deserted save for a couple of bartenders and an usher.
“Where is she?”
Another security guard, in a long-sleeved black t-shirt and an earpiece, swings open the door to the hall where flashing lights and blaring music—a fast-paced version of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”—fills the space.
My jaw tightens, and I shoot Bear a look. “She’s in there and you didn’t stop the show?”
He shakes his head. “We’ve tried that before and had a riot on our hands. A thousand women dressed to the nines and out for a good time with a few cocktails in them aren’t a patient bunch. They want their Santas.”
I roll my eyes, but refrain from commenting.
“Lead the way,” Ryan says, adjusting the bag on his shoulder and pressing his lips together. I am also less than thrilled at the situation, but we’re here to do a job and if it means walking into a male strip show, I guess that’s what the night has in store.
Thankfully, the song is ending as we make our way down the aisle. The dizzying array of lights stills for an instant before the crowd erupts in cheers. The noise is deafening and my teeth clench. I can’t help but glance toward the stage where six men, wearing only tiny white thongs and white fur-lined Santa hats, are frozen, each holding a pose with muscles flexed and a blinding grin on their faces.
But, as the applause slows, a murmur runs through the crowd and heads swivel in our direction. Ryan and I are still following Bear and haven’t yet reached the patient.
Please tell me she isn’t at the very front.
Just my luck. When we finally make it to the patient, leaning against the raised platform below the front of the stage, we set our bags down and I hear it. First squeals of delight, and then a woman’s screech. “Sexy firefighters!”
It’s impossible to assess the patient, a white-haired woman with a sequined black dress who’s propped up on a pile of coats. The audience is surging forward, craning to get a better look at us.
I kneel next to the woman as Bear sets up behind us, folding his arms and doing his best to block the crowd.
“How are you, ma’am?” I nearly shout over the first few notes of ”All I Want for Christmas is You,” pounding out of the speakers above us.
“Better now,” is what I think she says. Her face breaks into a delighted grin that quickly morphs into a grimace of pain when she moves.
I attempt to ask her a few more questions, but can barely make out her answers even when I lean in and turn my head so my ear is only inches from her mouth.
I meet Ryan’s eyes. “We’re going to have to get her out of here. I’ll go grab the backboard.” I tip my chin toward the door to emphasize my intentions as I nearly yell the words.
He nods and gives me a thumbs up, eyeing the thick, wild crowd.
Bear is busy trying to retain a scrap of control, so I head back up the aisle alone, dodging the hands flailing in my direction as they mistake me for a stripper even with a full set of gear on.
“Take it off. Take it all off,” one woman calls to the delight of those around her.
“Yeah, we want to see what you’ve got under there,” another yells as I duck my head and press through the swarm.
Fortunately, the ambulance has arrived and the paramedics take over, garnering their own attention as they wheel the patient out to the waiting ambulance on a gurney.
Ryan and I stash our bags back on the truck and I grab the tablet to gather the information we’ll need for the report. It must be intermission because as we step back into the lobby, Ryan and I are once again set upon by a throng of women who still don’t realize we’re not part of the show. The fragrant cloud of perfume alone is enough to suffocate a man.
“Follow me.” Bear pushes through the crowd. “The office is upstairs. We can talk there.”
Ryan and I follow, single file as the beefy security guard calls over his shoulder, “Who knew firefighters would be so popular with the ladies? Either of you happen to have any experience stripping?”
“Nope,” I reply as we pass through an unmarked black door in the lobby's side. It slams shut behind us. “And it’s not something I want to learn, either.”
I’ve never appreciated the blinding fluorescent lights and utter quiet of a non-descript cream-colored hallway as much as I do at this moment, but the feeling is short-lived. As we reach a door and Bear ushers us into an office, he flashes me an amused grin. “Let’s see what you say once Dillon hears about this. He has a habit of making offers the guys can’t refuse.”
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Copyright © 2022 by Ellen Brooks All rights reserved.
No portion of this scene may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher or author, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.
Copyright © 2022 Ellen Brooks. All rights reserved.