All Consuming (Brotherhood by Fire #3) -Jaci Burton
EVEN WITH SWEAT POURING DOWN HIS FACE AND MUSCLES straining until they hurt, Kal Donovan was deliriously happy to be doing his job as he made his way through the rope rescue skills activity. He was adept, sure with his hands, balanced twenty feet above the beams in the Technical Rescue Team training room as if he’d been made for this.
Because he had and he knew it. He didn’t falter once as he snaked his way down the rope, using his hands to carefully maneuver toward the rescue dummy dangling precariously off the platform below him. Kal was secured by his harness, his teammates above him holding on to his rope and making sure he was safe. In a real-life scenario, this would be a lot scarier. Instead of swinging twenty feet off the ground, it could potentially be twenty stories or more. He made every connection, then rescued the dangling dummy and brought it to safety, his muscles screaming in pain. He was drenched in sweat, but he’d gotten the job done.
And when he finished, everyone on the team applauded. Well, almost everyone. He felt the eyes of a couple of his team members glaring at him in judgement, as if what he’d done wasn’t good enough. Even though his lieutenant nodded in satisfaction, there were still a couple of members on his team who felt he didn’t belong.
Sure, it had only been four months since he joined the TRT, but in that time he’d more than proved himself, both in training and on calls. He had no idea what the issue was with Phil Beckwith and Dean Starling.
He pulled off his gloves and returned them to his bag, the feel of their eyes still burning on his back.
“Good job, Donovan.”
He straightened and smiled at Micah Brown. “Thanks.”
Meg Garcia joined Micah, leaning an arm on his shoulder. “You’ll never be as good as me, of course. I’m the best here. But still, you’re not too bad.”
Micah shoved her off. “What’re you talking about? I’m better than you’ll ever be, Garcia.”
“Wanna put those words to action? I’ll rope climb you for bragging rights.”
And they were, climbing the rope side by side, using only their hands and arms to bring them up. Kal had to admire the effort it took to do it without gloves. That had to hurt like hell.
Meg won by a hand. She slid down to the applause of the squad, including Starling and Beckwith.
Micah and Meg shook hands.
“You’re pretty good for a—”
Meg pointed a finger at Micah. “If you say ‘for a girl,’ you’re gonna lose your balls.”
“I was gonna say . . . uh . . . for a . . . uh . . .”
“Better quit while you’re already behind, Brown,” Lieutenant Anderson said. “Clean up in here. Irish said lunch is ready.”
“Yes, sir,” Micah said, the first to make his exit from Meg.
“Good thing he’s a fast runner,” Andy Redmond said.
“Yeah, he needed to run,” Meg said, then turned to Kal. “And what about you?”
He held out his hands. “I’m no match for you. I already know that.”
She grinned. “Smart answer. Let’s clean this up. I’m hungry.”
They put the training room back in order, then everyone hustled into the kitchen.
Kal loved this station. The TRT shared space with Station 38 since it was a large fire station, with plenty of room for all of TRT’s gear and vehicles. Though they often went on calls with all of Ft. Lauderdale’s fire stations, depending on who needed their expertise. And sometimes they went out on their own.
Station 38 was out on a call, which meant the TRT could spread out at the large table.
Irish Smith had made amazing Cubano sandwiches for lunch. The smell of the pork cooking had been driving Kal crazy all morning, so when Irish handed him one, his mouth watered. Gooey cheese hung out the sides of the sandwich.
“Irish, you missed your calling,” Kal said. “You should have been a chef.”
“Nah,” the big, burly firefighter said. “Cooking is just for fun. Firefighting is the real job.”
“Amen to that,” Starling said. “A real firefighter knows that firefighting is the blood, sweat and tears of what we do.”
Starling made sure to give Kal a direct look when he said it. And Beckwith, right behind him, offered up a smirk.
Whatever. Kal had given up trying to figure out why those guys had it out for him. He knew it wasn’t the color of his skin, because Starling was black like him. So it had