Home > Olivier (Chicago Blaze #9)(2)

Olivier (Chicago Blaze #9)(2)
Author: Brenda Rothert

It’s hot. I cough as smoke fills my lungs, getting in my eyes and making it hard to see.

“I’ve got a knife,” the man calls out, passing it up to me. “Careful, it’s a hunting knife. It’s sharp.”

He backs up several steps, probably because this car could blow up at any moment. My heart pounds as I grab the knife handle from him.

Since I can’t see through the smoke, I rely on my hands. I run them down the back of the driver’s seat until I get to the point where the seat belt should be. I find it, but everything is so goddamn hot.

Coughing harder now, I set to work cutting through the seat belt. The flames are so close to her that this feels like an impossible task. It’s not just my will to save her, but my will not to die in this fire myself, that drives me to saw through the seat belt at her waist.

Tossing the knife into the burning passenger seat, I move my hand up her arm until I find her shoulder. The heat and smoke are almost too much. I’m not leaving without her, though.

I get my hands through her armpits and I take two giant handfuls of her shirt. I’m about to start pulling when I see that my own shirtsleeve has caught fire.

“Come on, man!” the guy who hoisted me into the car calls out. “I’m right here! You can do this!”

Squeezing my eyes closed, I pull. The woman moves a couple inches. She’s stuck.

A sound escapes my throat—half frustration, half terror. I regroup and pull again, her body rising off the seat but not coming back. It feels like I have almost all of her weight, but her lower right leg, or maybe her foot, is stuck.

I don’t have time to think about it. There’s a risk I’ll hurt her if I keep pulling, but the alternative would be worse.

With a deep breath of smoky air that makes me lightheaded, I slide my hands down to the waistband of her pants and pull there instead. I pull until my shoulders ache with exertion, and suddenly, her body is free.

Scrambling, I grab her beneath the armpits again and pull. My head is swimming and my throat feels raw. Is that burning skin I smell?

The door I entered the car through is being held open by someone. Not knowing how much time I have left, I hurriedly slide the woman to the opening and push. I have to hope the guy who helped me into the car is there to catch her.

“I got her,” a voice says.

There are frantic yells. I focus on staying conscious long enough to try sliding myself out of the car, waiting for the impact of the pavement.

It never comes, though.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Daphne

 

Everything feels heavy. It’s not just my eyelids—which feel like they’re made of lead—but my mouth, arms and head. Something’s not right.

If this is a dream, it’s a really shitty one. I can’t move, everything is dark, and the only sound is my Grandma Jo ranting.

“Where’s your little hussy, Aidan? Is she sleeping after last night’s shift at the gentleman’s club?”

The dream just went from bad to worse. Why would my subconscious summon my ex?

“Grandma Jo, this isn’t the time or place for that,” my sister Julia says. “Daphne is resting.”

“She wouldn’t want her good for nothing ex-boyfriend here,” Grandma Jo says stiffly. “He is not part of this family, and he never will be.”

“I’ve apologized a thousand times, and I’ll keep apologizing as long as it takes,” Aiden says.

“Rubbish. You can shove those apologies right up your—”

“Hey, my meeting ran late. How is she?” My father’s voice cuts off Grandma Jo’s insult.

“ASS.” Grandma Jo finishes, not one to be upstaged. “Right up your lying, cheating, good for nothing ass!”

I try to form a smile, but my lips just won’t move.

“Mother, this is not the time for that,” my dad says sharply.

“How did he even get in here?” Grandma Jo says. “He’s not family.”

“Sandy and I put him on the family list. He’s Daphne’s fiancé.”

And that’s enough to make my eyes finally open. Aiden has been my ex- fiancé for a little more than four months now, but both he and my parents refuse to accept it.

“Daphne!” Julia cries from beside me. “You’re awake. Thank God.”

Tears shine in my older sister’s eyes as it sets in—I’m in a hospital.

“Do you know who I am?” Julia asks.

I try to answer, but my throat is so dry and raw that nothing comes out.

“Okay, um…stick your tongue out if you know who I am,” she says.

I poke the tip of my tongue out through my lips and cheers erupt around the room.

“You were in a car accident, honey,” my dad says, approaching the side of my bed. “And you’re okay. Just healing a little bit in the hospital before you can go home.”

I try to sit up, but everything hurts and I still have that loopy, heavy sensation.

“Let’s call the nurse and let her know you’re awake,” Julia says, pushing a button near my bed.

A few seconds later, new voices enter the room.

“Daphne,” a woman in nurse’s scrubs says, smiling. “It’s good to see you awake.” She turns to the woman next to her. “Let someone in PR know Senator Barrington’s daughter is awake.”

“Is my granddaughter okay?” Grandma Jo demands. “Is there brain damage?”

“We still have more tests to run,” the nurse says.

“She stuck her tongue out when I asked her to,” Julia says.

“Well, that’s a good sign.”

“She’s awake?” My mother’s voice enters the room, and I bristle. “Oh, darling, thank goodness you’re okay.”

“I should let my Coms people know she’s awake,” my dad says. “They’ll want to send out a release.”

“Already?” Grandma Jo scoffs. “We still don’t know if she’s going to be a vegetable.”

The nurse shoots me a wide-eyed look of commiseration from beside the bed before saying, “Okay, everyone out for a little bit. We need to give the doctors some room to come in and evaluate Daphne.”

“But surely not us?” My mother gives the nurse a disdainful look. “We’re her parents.”

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