When Love Has No Bounds
Author: John Charles
Series: Fated Soulmates 5
Genre: Mystery / MM Romance
Living on the street after aging out of the foster care system, Andre had no thoughts about finding love. He lived in stress and fear, wondering if he even wanted to make it through another day.
Loving his life as a paramedic and seeking to learn as much as he could to further his profession, Jason had no time for love. An occasional hook up was enough and even those were few and far between. Life, for Jason, was hectic, fulfilling, and always on task.
When Jason found Andre, beaten and struggling to stay alive, everything changed.
Jason’s genuine love for helping people made Andre feel different than he ever felt in foster care. This man who didn’t need a burden in his life, gave Andre security and the space he needed. What neither anticipated was their situation turning from a helping hand into love.
When Love Has No Bounds is a heartwarming story that grew out of the ashes of one man’s life, showing both that love truly has no bounds.
The rich hearty aroma of roast beef waft through the firehouse eliciting rumbles from hungry firefighters stomachs. “That smells so good Jason, how much longer do we have to wait?” Andy, Captain Andrew Gentry stood in the door to the firehouse kitchen watching as Jason put the finishing touches on the team’s dinner. “Remind me to change the duty roster. I think we need to have you cook more often.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jason turned toward the door. “Not gonna happen Andy. You’d miss those nights of burned burgers and soggy pasta.” He laughed at his own joke. “Really wonder how those guys manage to cook anything without burning down the house.” He pulled three roasts from the huge commercial oven, placing them on a large cutting board to set. Platters waited off to the side. The image took Andy back to his childhood when his grandmother cooked Sunday dinner for the family. Jason’s roasts were cooked to perfection, brown with bits of crispiness, juices flowing from the meat as they sat on the cutting board waiting to be sliced into thin strips of mouth-watering flavor.
His paramedic trainee, Paige, was busy plating the side dishes of steamed vegetables and bowls of mashed potatoes. Andy watched the pair work in what seemed like a well-choreographed dance. Paige was thrilled to be part of the team and volunteered to work with Jason on dinner duty when she joined the firehouse team.
He moved further into the kitchen and leaned against the door frame. “You know if you ever wanted to make some extra money, my sister could use a person with your skills at her restaurant.”
“You tell me that every time it’s my turn to cook.” He turned to look at his boss, “I’m happy here Andy. I don’t need another job, I already have too much on my plate, remember?”
“I do, and you know I think you’re handling it with grace. I’ll let the others know dinner is about ready,” he said as he pushed off the doorjamb.
Ten minutes later fourteen firefighters, Jason and Paige were enjoying one of the house’s favorite dinners. The great hall was filled with laughter and compliments as the firefighters savored the meal Jason and Paige prepared, most coming back for seconds even after saying they were stuffed. Jason’s amazing roast beef dinner was completed with apple pies baked by Paige and served with ice cream to everyone’s happy smiles.
Alarms and the blaring announcement of a major fire broke the coziness of the dinner causing everyone to jump and run to their stations. Andy pulled the alarm notice from the printer and ran to his lead truck. “Oh my god, it’s the community center,” he said as he donned his protective gear. Within two minutes a tanker, hook and ladder, and the big rig fire trucks were speeding to the fire. Jason and Paige followed close behind in the ambulance.
“Well so much for apple pie,” Paige was nervous as Jason drove into the night. Sirens and flashing red and blue lights bounced off the buildings. Though this was not her first alarm, she still felt the jitters deep in her gut. Paige had developed a love for medicine at an early age and that love transitioned to the position she presently held. If she held it together for a full year as trainee, she would become a full paramedic, something she knew she would achieve.
The Breaking News banner interrupted regular TV shows. On the screens of everyone watching TV in Amity, was an alarming sight. Spires of fire rose high into the sky. People were being escorted from the burning building as firefighters attempted to get control of the massive blaze. “A multi-alarm fire has broken out in the Amity Community Center. The fire quickly spread to the adjacent shopping mall where, as you can see, hundreds of shoppers are running from the buildings.”
The newscaster narrated the scene as those watching could see the flames spreading through the mall. Fire hoses trained on the community center didn’t have much effect. Flames shot into the early night sky, illuminating the parking lots and crowds of onlookers. An explosion blew the roof off the building sending flumes of fire and burning embers high into the sky. Screams could be heard as the crowds moved even further from the exploding building.
Cars and trucks parked near the mall started to burn. One by one, their gas tanks exploded adding to the chaos.
News trucks were held to one side of the parking lot but the heat was so intense many of them chose to move to a greater distance from the flames. The Channel 16 newscaster attempted to close the distance to the fire but stopped only a few feet into her quest. “The heat is so intense, I feel as if I’m getting sunburn,” she said into her mic as she shielded her face. “We have no information about the fire’s origin, or about anyone who may still be inside the buildings.” Once she said those words, she pulled the mic back and shuddered. “I can’t imagine what it is like in there right now.” Once again, she pulled back both from the heat as well as from her own words. “Oh my god, I hope their all out safely.”
The camera zoomed in to show the community center. The entire building was engulfed. Sections of roof as well as walls were collapsing sending burning embers into the sky, out to the parking lots, and onto adjacent buildings. Another explosion, this time in the mall sent more flames, embers, and smoke into the night sky. Firefighters scrambled to get better positions as additional trucks arrived.
Jason had trained as an extreme case paramedic. “Damn, I’ve never seen anything like this before. Let’s stay behind the big rig and set up a triage area. I have a gut feeling we’ll need it on this one.” With the ambulance parked behind the big rig truck for protection, anyone pulled from the fire was brought to them for care. Ambulances from neighboring towns transported the severely wounded to Amity E.R., allowing Jason and Paige to minister to those not in desperate struggles for their lives. Several firefighters came to them for oxygen after inhaling too much smoke, but quickly returned to the fire.
Paige screamed when another explosion shook the ground. “That doesn’t sound good at all.” Looking at Jason who was treating a severely burned woman, she said, “I thought these buildings had sprinklers. From what I can see, nothing is working.”
“They do. I was wondering the same thing.” He continued as he handed off the woman to an ambulance team who would take her to the E.R for further treatment. “The fire is so hot, I bet the sprinklers can’t keep up.” Jason took a minute to stare at the flames. He shivered, even in the extreme heat of the fire, as he watched a huge plume of flames rocket into the night sky.
The fire, which interrupted dinner in thousands of homes in and near Amity, continued well into the night. Additional houses from neighboring towns arrived to help. By two in the morning, it was reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble. The community center was leveled as was over two thirds of the shopping mall. Tragically, one elderly man died and over two dozen other people were injured, several critically.
Jason, Paige and half of their team arrived back at the house. One truck and crew remained at the mall to maintain watch on the smoldering building. Secondary fires frequently erupted from the ash and without a trained team to act quickly, could spread to other structures.
Everyone worked in silence. This was a major incident for all of the firefighters. Some called home to let their loved ones know they were okay. Others just did their clean up routine.
Once Jason and Paige had cleaned out the ambulance, restocked supplies, and showered, they began kitchen duty once again. Dishes were loaded into the two dishwashers. Andy and another firefighter helped packed the leftovers hoping they were not out too long. Everyone loved Jason’s roast beef sandwiches the following day. The ice cream was another victim of the alarm.
“I’ll take that out,” Jason grabbed the large black plastic bag and made his way to the rear door of the kitchen as Paige and the firefighter finished packing the leftovers into the refrigerator.
Behind the firehouse in the alley between streets sat two large dumpsters. A brown one was for regular garbage and the green one for recycled items. As he approached the brown dumpster, Jason noticed something unusual. Carefully, he made his way to the narrow space between the dumpster and the brick wall of the building. There, on the cold cement was a person, pulled into a tight fetal position.
He gently placed the garbage bag down, leaned into the narrow space and touched the neck of the body checking for a pulse. Suddenly the person jumped up, nearly hitting his head on the dumpster. Hands up in a defensive stance the person said, “Please don’t hurt me again. All I have left are my clothes.”
Jason pulled back, put his hands open palm out, and said, “No one’s going to hurt you. I was just trying to see if you were alive.” That’s when Jason took better notice of the person standing in front of him. Two important points were clear. He was a boy and he was hurt. “Who did that to you?” He pointed to the boy’s face where he saw the telltale blue-black smudge, clearly the beginnings of a black eye. Crusted blood on his upper lip and the side of his face suggested he might have a broken nose as well. Severe bruising along his cheeks and blood in his hair suggested he had been in a horrible fight. As he looked down, he noticed blood splatters on the boy’s clothing.
The boy was crouching to his left apparently experiencing pain as he tried to move. Over his left shoulder, he barely managed to hold onto a ratty backpack. “I’m sorry mister. I had to get some sleep and this seemed like a good place to hide.” He winced in pain as he tried to turn. “I’ll find some other place to hide until morning.”
“No,” Jason’s voice was stronger then he wanted it to be, startling the boy. Quickly Jason continued, “I’m a paramedic. Let me see if I can do something,” Jason pointed to the kitchen door. “This is the Amity Fire Department. You’ll be okay in there.”
The boy looked from Jason to the door and then back to Jason. “I don’t know. I just need someplace to rest.”
Carefully, trying not to startle the boy again, Jason moved forward. The alley was lighted by a street lamp about twenty feet from the pair casting shadows from the dumpsters. Another light above the kitchen door added to the shadows. “What is your name?” Jason took another careful step toward the shivering, hurting, and frightened boy.
“Andre,” the boy whispered wincing from pain as he did. His head was on a swivel, looking around him as Jason approached.
“I’m not going to hurt you Andre. Let me help.” His hand out Jason now reached the shaking boy. Touching Andre’s outstretched hand, Jason said, “It’s warm inside. At least let me take a look at those cuts and your eye is turning black. Please.”
Andre shivered once more and then nodded as Jason gently guided him to the kitchen door.
The warmth hit Andre hard. After sleeping on cold cement, the warm room felt uncomfortably hot, alien. His body continued to shiver as Jason led him through the now empty kitchen to the great hall where several firefighters were sitting. The adrenalin rush of fighting the fire didn’t allow anyone to sleep. Some had books open; others were quietly talking. A few were lounging with closed eyes, not quite asleep.
“Wow, what do we have here Jason?” A firefighter sat up looking at Jason and the boy he led into the room. Realizing the boy was hurt; Paige jumped from her seat and helped guide Andre to a chair.
Andy, hearing the comments came out from his office to see Jason, Paige and several firefighters helping the boy. “Who is this?” Andy walked closer to the boy, noticed the blood, the blackening eye, and asked, “Who did this to you son?” He knelt next to Andre and watched as Paige and Jason began ministering to the boy’s wounds.
Feeling warmer and more secure within the friendly atmosphere of the firehouse, Andre whispered, “I got mugged. They wanted my backpack, but it’s all I have so I fought them off.”
“You fought off more than one guy?” Andy looked at Andre as Jason gently cleaned the blood from his face.
“I thought they had me, but just before I went down, a guy walking his dog shouted that he was calling the cops. The guys ran off.”
“Did he offer to help you?” Paige had stopped helping Jason as she listened to Andre’s story. “Please tell me he offered?”
Andre looked at Paige, shook his head resulting in a painful wince, “He asked if I wanted him to call an ambulance. When I said no, he said okay and walked away.”
“Why would you refuse an ambulance Andre?” Though he suspected the answer, Jason had to hear it from the boy.
“Because hospitals don’t like homeless people in their emergency rooms. I don’t have insurance and I can’t pay for the treatment,” he said looking directly into Jason’s eyes,
Jason nodded, turned to look at his boss and saw Andy smile and nod back. That was Jason’s permission to offer the boy a night in the warmth of the firehouse. An hour later, cuts and bruises cleaned and covered in bandages, and his arm in a sling, Andre was sleeping on the spare bed in the men’s bunkroom.
“How old do you think he is?” Paige asked as they cleaned and restocked the emergency kit.
“He looks young. I’d say he’s at least sixteen but I may be wrong.”
“Any ID on him Jason?” Andy was okay with the boy sleeping on the spare bed, but didn’t want a minor seeking refuge in his house unless there was a solid reason.
“I didn’t ask. Let him get some rest before we get into his personal situation, Andy.”
Before Andy could respond, the house alarm system blared. The dispatcher’s voice could be heard in every room in the building. No one would sleep through an alarm. “Apartment fire – Apartment fire – location 34310 Fifth Street, possible trapped victims. Roll all trucks and ambulance”
Jason quickly ran to the bunkroom and saw the startled Andre trying to sit up. “We have an alarm and it might be a long one. Just get some rest and don’t worry. You’re okay here. There’s food in the kitchen if you get hungry.” As an afterthought, he leaned next to Andre and said, “Please respect our house and don’t steal anything. It’s my neck on the line.” Before Andre could answer, Jason ran off to join Paige in the ambulance.
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The Tekashi Effect
Two men from opposite worlds collide
Both looking for love in all the wrong places
One just suffered a nasty breakup
The other wants love so badly he’d do anything for it
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