Authors: Capri Montgomery
“Okay,” she yawned. “I have to work tomorrow. I’m due at the Espanola fire for more pictures. I’m going to get there early so I can get the pictures to Mitch and then get back here, get a hot shower and finally have a real date with Adam. So, my beautiful big sister, good night.”
Alyssa laughed. “Yeah sure, get rid of me that easily,” she chuckled. “I’ll call you tomorrow night. I want to hear all about your date.”
Eve disconnected the call. Provided everything went okay, and she actually had a date with Adam, she was sure she would want to tell Alyssa all about it too. As she pulled the covers over her body she stared up at the ceiling pondering tomorrow night’s clothing attire. Should she dress up or down—or something in between? Maybe she should wear a nice pants suit—that seemed like a safe bet for almost any situation.
She would love to cook him dinner. Maybe she should suggest it. She shook her head. “Right, cook with what, Eve?” Her room didn’t even have a microwave and refrigerator, let alone a stove. Cooking for Adam would have to wait until she had a kitchen to cook in. She was always the best cook in her family. Her mom had taught them all, but she was the one who took to it as easily as breathing. She didn’t have much time now for all the baking and cooking she used to do, but she still knew how to serve up a delicious five course meal.
For the first time, in a long time, she hadn’t fallen asleep the minute her head hit the pillow. She tossed and turned trying to get to sleep when all she could do was think about Adam, how good he looked, how good he smelled, and how worried she was about the conversation she needed to have with him. She needed to get some sleep. Just because she would only be taking pictures of the fire didn’t mean she could afford to have a lack of focus. Fires shifted and changed directions all the time. She needed to be alert in case it started shifting in her direction. She wouldn’t be alone. She would be following a team of firefighters—that had been a requirement for her being able to shoot up close, right in the heart of the action. She didn’t complain. Her pictures accompanied great stories, and the fact that they were the only paper allowed the inside look actually made for better news coverage. The
didn’t even have access to what they had.
She tossed around once more before punching the pillow and objurgating herself for not being able to sleep. She buried her face in the pillow and screamed. “Sleep, Eve.” She rolled over again. All the tossing and turning was not helping her go to sleep. Every time she closed her eyes she thought about Adam—every time she opened her eyes she thought about him too. No; tossing and turning was not putting her to sleep—it was, however, giving her a serious case of bed head.
She sighed. Who cared about the hair? She was going to be shooting fireside she didn’t need to look spectacular while doing it. She would just brush it back in a messy ponytail and be done with it.
Her phone rang again. She looked at the blinking red light and sighed. She contemplated not answering the phone, but since she wasn’t getting the sleep she thought she needed anyway, she picked up the receiver.
“Eve, I need to make sure you get the best photos for my story. I think we should do a conference tonight just to go over it again.”
“No,” she said affirmatively. “You are not coming here. I am not coming to you. You are going to have to trust that I know what I’m doing. I always bring you great pictures, Mitch.”
“I know you do. You’re like an artist with that camera, but with the fire almost being contained now I need something really spectacular for this one.”
She exhaled slowly. This wasn’t a game, or some rush to prize winning journalism; this was real danger, real damage, and real threat to life and limb. “I always bring you spectacular photos,” according to the editors anyway, “and I won’t let you down this time. But if you don’t let me get some sleep, Mitch, all bets are off.”
“Right,” he said quickly. “You sleep. Get a lot of sleep, so you’ll be refreshed and ready to shoot great art come morning.”
She shook her head as she disconnected the call. If she didn’t know any better she would swear Mitch was almost sad the fire was near containment. “Whatever,” she mumbled as she got comfortable in bed. He was right on one count—she needed sleep.
ve secured her camera strap around her neck. She had long ago learned that when the situation shifted levels of danger it was best to have a firm hold on the camera in case she had to run for it. She wasn’t expecting anything dangerous today—other than the smell of the wood burning, which really was hazardous to her health and everybody else. The fire was pretty much contained. What she was doing now was just documenting the hard work the men were putting in to put out the fire, while getting pictures of some of the devastation the fire had caused. She didn’t envision needing to run for her life today, but she had been in the business long enough to know being prepared for the worse, expecting the worse, is what kept a person alive. She knelt on one knee to make sure her boots were securely tied.
“Eve; what are you doing here?”
Eve looked up to see Adam hovering over her. “Working,” she said with measured surprise. “What are you doing here?” As far as she knew, Adam worked residential, commercial, city fires, not wildfires. But there he was with his gear, and in his uniform, ready to work.
“About six of us from our station are here to help again today. We come out to these sometimes.”
“Oh,” she nodded.
“It’s good for the firehouse, and gives us more experience, so it’s good for us too. It’s good for me,” he mumbled.
“Great. I say whatever works for you; go for it—as long as it’s not illegal.”
“It doesn’t bother you?”
“That you’re fighting wildfires? No. Why should it?”
“A lot of women don’t like the aspect of the dangerous situation.”
She shrugged. “Fighting any fire is dangerous, Adam. But I grew up with two military brothers, and I’ve traveled the world and found myself in far more life threatening situations than most people. I don’t have an issue with anybody doing the job that matters to them.” He looked relieved. Had he really been worried that his job would be a deal breaker? If it were, she would have never agreed to go out with him. She wasn’t one of those women who pretended things were okay to land a man and then changed her mind after landing him. She wouldn’t try to change him. It wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be fair to either of them.
“Good.” She could tell he was going to reach out and place his hand on her arm, but just as quickly as his hand started the motion, he stopped. Obviously he remembered where they were, and what they were supposed to be doing. “It’s good because my dream is to become a smokejumper like my brother.”
“You’ll have to tell me about it someday. I’d really love to hear about your plans to make that dream a reality.” She looked past his shoulder to the men who were now closely watching them both. “You should get to work.” She nodded in the direction of the rest of the fire crew. “I’m just here to take the pictures.”
“I guess I should.” He looked her over from head to toe and back again. “You’re sexy, even when you’re dressed down.” He winked at her before leaving to join the other firefighters.
Eve checked out the man she had come to like—a lot—in just a short time. She didn’t know much about him, but what she did know told her he was kind. He cared enough about people to risk his life to save their life. He cared enough about her to make sure she had a pair of shoes, that she had some things she needed from her apartment, and that she was okay. He was clearly patient. Even with several dates interrupted by her brothers being there, and even last night, he was still interested enough to stay the course. He was smart. There was no way he would get through his firefighter training if he wasn’t. And he was cute—very cute. She liked him, maybe more than she should because she knew what she needed to do was get to know him, let him get to know her, and then decide whether or not they both wanted to invest the time and patience into the relationship that she was sure it was going to take.
She shot pictures of the men working, of the fire that was now almost extinguished, the fire line that had served its purpose and kept the fire from being much worse than it could, and of Adam. He was working hard, like the rest, but there was something about him that made her keep snapping pictures. His eyes had to be at least some part of that something; she was sure of that. He had the most amazing eyes she had seen on a man in a long time, and they stood out because of his dark hair—not that one could see much of either due to the hat. But there was a brief moment where he had looked up at her, right into the lens and she snapped the photo. That was a photo she wanted to hang on her wall—when she had one to hang it on. Before she knew it, every photograph seemed to have him in it. She laughed to herself. “Make sure to get these off before you hand it over to Mitch,” she reminded herself. She could leave a few, but she shouldn’t give all of them to him. Mitch was a bloodhound when it came to finding the facts, and she wasn’t sure she wanted him to know about her budding relationship with Adam until it had actually budded.
When she finally wrapped her portion of the day she verified the meet location for dinner with Adam. She wanted to get back to the hotel and shower first, so she did. Mitch might not have liked it, but fifteen minutes in the shower would be far better than showing up smelling like smoke and sweat. She felt dirty and there was no way she was going anywhere, not even the office, in that condition.
“I told you to come straight here,” he complained.
“Would you really want me so close to you if I smelled badly?”
He laughed. “We’ve been in worse, Eve. But you’re right; smelly women aren’t my thing.”
She laughed and shook her head. They might not have been his thing while he was sober, but she was fairly sure he would bed just about anything when he was drunk. Fortunately, Mitch wasn’t a heavy drinker—most of the time anyway. When a story blew up in his face all bets were off. She learned that the hard way. She told herself, good guys have faults too, but it was one fault she wasn’t willing to surround herself with. She just couldn’t chance him getting in a funk about something work related, drinking heavily and coming after her the way he had done before.
“What do we have here?” He asked as he went through the photos he downloaded to the computer.
“Men working,” she retorted. After putting the photos on her own computer she had deleted several pictures of Adam from the memory card she gave Mitch. She had a full set of the originals, but what she gave him had been shortened to about sixty photos.
“You like this one,” he tapped his finger on the computer screen. “Look at that love.”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s just a photo.”
“Yeah, a photo of your future husband,” he laughed again. “Eve, none of your other photos, of the other men, look anything like this one. They’re all good, but this one is…well, let’s just say you focused in on the man and not the job. I like it.”
“Don’t use that one,” she tried to reach past him to hit the delete key and he blocked her.
“Too late,” he snickered as he hit the send button. “I’ve already sent the photo down to print.”
Frustrated, she let out a heavy sigh. “I thought you wanted a picture of the fire to go with your story.”
“I did. And the three I just sent to print all fit. There’s one of the men working, one of the almost extinguished fire, and now this one. It’s the lead. I’ve already tagged it.”
She rolled her eyes again. It’s a good thing her mother had been wrong when she told her that if she kept rolling her eyes they were going to get stuck up in her head, because she was doing more eye rolling now than she had done all year. The second photo, the one of the fire almost extinguished, could have complemented the story on its own. The trees still burning in the distant background juxtaposed with the now dead, but fully extinguished foreground would fit well with Mitch’s work. He could even use a photo of the group. But leading with the photo of Adam was…brilliant actually. She might not have liked it, but the photo Mitch chose put a face to the men working. The look on Adam’s face was one of determination, focus, and courage. That picture told a different story, a story of its own.
“Eve, this is perfect.”
She couldn’t argue there. “But I think the lead should be of all the men. You know, let’s not cause trouble.”
Mitch shook his head. “Trouble is my middle name, Eve. It stays.”
He turned his back to her signaling that the conversation was finished. “Well,” she sighed. “I guess the photo helps show the men of courage and honor.”
“Man of courage,” he said.
“Oh no. Mitch, don’t do it.”
“If you do it I swear I’m going to make your head look like a beach ball in your next photo. I can do it you know.”
He laughed. “I would ignore you except I know about that mean streak of yours. You never make idle threats.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Fine, the story already has a title anyway. I submitted it earlier today. All we were missing were the photos. Photos you took forever to get to me.”
“Whatever,” she grabbed her keys. “I’m out of here.”