Can't Help Falling In Love - Bella Andre

Bella Andre - The Sullivans #3 - Can't Help Falling In Love

Can't Help Falling In Love (The Sullivans #3)
Bella Andre


Chapter One

Gabe Sullivan was helping an elderly couple down the stairs of an old San Francisco apartment building and out onto the sidewalk when the air was rocked with an explosion of flames and smoke out a second-story window.

After ten years as a firefighter, Gabe knew no fire was ever routine. No flame ever played the same game. And sometimes the simplest call could turn into the most complicated. The most dangerous.

“Everyone out,” his station captain, Todd, told the crew. “This fire has accelerated and we’re switching to defensive operation.”

Gabe still had his hand on the elbow of the gray-haired woman and she turned to him with a look of horror on her face. “Megan and Summer are still inside.”

He knew the woman must be on the verge of shock, so he spoke to her in a clear, steady voice. “Who are Megan and Summer?”

“My neighbors, a mother and her little girl. I saw them go into their apartment a while ago.” The woman looked around at the tenants, who were gathered around the fire trucks as they watched their things go up in flames that were raging more out of control by the second. “They’re not out here.” She gripped his arm hard. “You have to go inside to save them.”

Gabe wasn’t a firefighter who believed in superstition. He didn’t have a routine he lived and died by. But he did believe in his gut.

And his gut was telling him there was a problem.

A big one.

“Which apartment are they in?”

She pointed to the third-story windows. “Number 31. They’re on the top floor, corner unit.” The woman looked like she was going to cry.

Seconds later, he found both the captain and his partner, Eric, in the middle of the crowd of people out on the sidewalk and street. “We’ve got to go back in. A mother and daughter could still be inside. Third floor, corner apartment.”

Todd looked from Gabe to the fire raging inside the building. “Make it quick, guys,” he said, and gave the rest of the crew orders to focus their hose streams up toward the apartment to try to keep the flames at bay.

Eric and Gabe moved in tandem to pull the hose into the building. Masks on, their earpieces were activated. They moved up the stairs as quickly as they could through the thick smoke that hung in the air like the fog San Francisco was so famous for. With their breathing apparatus on, they were okay. But a civilian wouldn’t last long without frequent hits of oxygen.

Forcefully pushing his fears for the mother and daughter aside, he concentrated on moving from the first floor to the second, and then the third. They made good time up to unit 31, even dragging the heavy hose through the thick smoke and up the steep, tight flight of stairs. He tried the door, which of course was locked.

Gabe slid his axe from its holster. “If anyone is by the door, I’m about to knock it down with an axe. Back away.” Even though he yelled, his voice was muffled through the mask.

Jesus, the smoke was heavy, nearly thick enough to cut with a knife. Would they find anyone alive inside?

“You got it?” Eric asked him as he took a few quick hits of air.

Rather than answering, Gabe cocked the heavy tool back and landed the top of the axe head against the door, right by the knob. A hollow door would have split apart in seconds, but this old wood door was thick enough that he had to do a dozen sustained hits to get it to budge. When he felt the frame start to loosen up, he kicked at it.

Finally, it swung open and he was in.

Sliding his axe back into its holster, he reached for the hose and started to drag it inside, but it wouldn’t move.

“It’s jammed. I need more hose.”

He looked behind him and saw Eric yanking on the hose with all his might. “I’m going to have to head down and see where it’s hung up.”

They both knew how dangerous the situation was, one firefighter leaving his partner to free the hose equipment. But Gabe couldn’t stick with Eric. Not if lives were on the line. Not if the sixty seconds it took him to help with the hose meant a child might die tonight.

The flames were already rippling above his head and even though