It’s Glow in the Dark Day! Yey!
Carol has been so kind as to let me and my hot fireman visit her awesome blog today.
Blend with ice in blender until smooth and frothy. Serve in tall glass with a pink umbrella.
Enjoy~ Corey Nolan, Character in Glow in the Dark
Jake the fireman shares this safety tip.
Practice evacuating the building blindfolded. In a real fire situation, the amount of smoke generated by a fire most likely will make it difficult to see.
Be safe~ Jake Gilroy, Character in Glow in the Dark
Women melt around smokin’ hot Chicago fire fighter Jake Gilroy like butter in a hot pan, getting him dubbed the clichéd and rather false moniker…“the ladies man”. Yet, he never had an interest in anyone, until he meets Corey. She’s different and doesn’t seem to be turning into a pool of goo around him. He wants her and must have her. But she is already taken so he can’t have her…can he?
At first Corey Nolan is resistant to Jake’s advances until a series of events proves that the love between her and her dead beat boyfriend have dissipated a long time ago. It’s then that she begins to think that she and Jake just might have a chance at something real. Until—it becomes clear that someone is stalking her and killing off the people she loves and that her need for Jake may be more than desire—it may be a matter of life and death...
Never before seen on a free blog, the first three Chapter of
Glow in the Dark
The doorway stood empty. The entire corridor appeared abandoned, except for the occasional nurse scurrying by, even that was very far and few between.
Please God, please.
Corey Nolan surveyed her languid five-year old. One minute she had been fine—in the blink of an eye she was here, hooked up to a ventilator to help her breathe, a tube stuck up her nose, another one down her throat and a needle jammed in her tiny hand. The cuff on her arm wrapped around to check her blood pressure periodically. A gray plastic clip clamped to her tiny finger measured her oxygen levels.
Please, Molly needs to wake up.
She wasn’t sure that imploring a higher power would work. But it didn’t make one bit of difference; she was willing to try anything. Whatever it took, anything she had to do… it would be done.
Corey released her hands from their prayer position, and slowly stood up from the orange plastic chair, moving her head from side to side until her neck cracked. Her muscles were tight from sitting half the night in the chilly room. The neatly molded corners and freshly waxed taupe-colored floor, with scattered orange triangles and lack of curtains or any homey touches whatsoever, gave the room an unfriendly aura. The large round clock adhered to the wall revealed that it was after nine in the morning already.
Where was her mother? What could be keeping her? Added fear and anxiety was not something she wanted to deal with right now. Her heart pounded as she glanced at her daughter once again. Strength and positive thinking was what Molly needed right now. Corey couldn’t afford to break down.
Molly was so sweet, innocent, and trusting. Corey would have done anything to protect her. It was too late. She couldn’t protect Molly just like her parents couldn’t protect her. She stifled a sob.
Trudging to the other side of the room, she laid a hand against the locker that passed for a closet. The cold metal beneath the gray paint gave her a chill. Images of the man that had made her life unbearable for everyone she loved swarmed in her vision. His face appeared in her head, laughing at her, tormenting her.
“Go away!” she screamed.
Slowly, she turned toward the hall wondering if anyone had heard. They would have probably thought she was crazy. They’d take one look at her and lock her up, maybe throw the key away. If any stranger witnessed her outburst, they would not have understood what the last year had been like for her—for all her loved ones.
Corey threw another glance at her daughter. Her tirade didn’t breed any response from a comatose Molly, or any of the staff for that matter.
Jerking the door open, she grabbed the blanket and clutched it to her chest, willing the tension away. She needed to stay sane, in control—anything to help her daughter. Composing herself and releasing her tight grip, she shook the blanket open as she walked over to Molly. She then tucked her daughter in tight and read her a story, just as she had done every night for five years. Except now, it wasn’t dark outside and Molly wasn’t tucked safe in her own bed. She’d been told it was good to read to patients in a coma. Halfway through The Cat in the Hat, her eyes brimmed with despair, and she couldn’t make out the rest of the words.
“I love you,” she whispered, her voice cracking. She set the book aside and stroked Molly’s hair. The usual silkiness was dull and luster-lacking. Smoothing a stray strand, she drew away and straightened. Her daughter’s pale face didn’t move. No twitch of her eyes, no quirk of her mouth, no flutter of her lips when she breathed out during sleep.
“Stay strong, Corey.” The words said out loud didn’t help. She should have been telling Molly to be brave, but her own strength was trickling away with every hour Molly lay silent.
Desperation formed a knot in her throat. Needing a minute away to pull herself back together, she whirled around quickly, almost knocking a vase over, but catching it before it shattered to the floor—just as her nerves threatened to do. Corey could barely put it back on the bureau in one piece, her hands trembling. Stifling the sob that threatened to erupt, she bolted to the bathroom.
She stood in front of the sink and stared into the mirror. Leaning in, she pulled the taunt skin under her eyes downward. The dark circles looked terrible along with the black streak marks over her skin. If Jake could see her now, he probably wouldn’t think she was all that great of a catch. Damn, how embarrassing am I with all this soot on my face, my arms, and my clothes?
“Who cares right now?” she mumbled, and then marched back to her daughter’s bedside. She plopped down into the chair and gently placed Molly’s IV-ed hand into hers. Careful not cause her daughter any more pain, she gripped those tiny, precious fingers. “I don’t know what I can do? I can tell you that I will love you—for always. You breathe a special life into the large part of my heart. If you go away, it will die.” Emotion choked her. She sobbed, unable to hold it in any longer.
She didn’t know how much time had passed. Deep breaths were the only thing that could calm her at this point. With her free hand, she pulled out her cell phone and pressed a number on the keypad. Placing the phone to her ear, she kept her gaze on Molly; her serene expression brought another rush of tension to Corey’s chest. She breathed harder, trying to control the uneasy pacing of her heart.
“I am trying your grandmother again. She is late as usual.”
Molly continued to lay unmoving. Corey bit her lip as the ringing sounded through the device. Come on, Mom, where are you? I need you. This isn’t like you. Faith Nolan was still not picking up.
Corey dropped the phone onto the bureau and stood up, anger surging through her. With arms stretched out, she glared at the ceiling. “Is this my punishment, you tell me? Yes, you—that thing, that being I assume is watching over us, protecting us. Ha! That day I was told by my doctor that my heart was too weak to carry Molly—” She fell to her knees. “I did it anyway. So, this is it, my penance, right?”
Crawling to Molly’s bedside, Corey gripped her baby’s small fingers. “I won’t let you take her, I won’t.”
“Ouch,” Corey whimpered, extracting a thick sliver. She glared at the splinter, then her hand. Droplets of blood beaded on the pad of her finger. The vivid red was startling, but she quickly closed her mouth over the wound, easing some of the sting. On a rickety wooden chair, she’d been sliding a box on to the shelf until pain shot through her palm. Wobbling, she pressed her free hand to the wall to steady herself. The closet was excessively big. She couldn’t fill it—mostly because she couldn’t afford to have more than two pairs of shoes and the bare necessities, but at least she finally had a place to call her own.
A sudden rush of emotion clogged her throat. This was a great day. One year earlier, she’d never thought her life would be as bright as the sunshine streaming in through the western windows of her new garden apartment. There were no downstairs neighbors to complain, no lectures on how to raise her daughter, no complaints of what she chose to do. The best part was that little Molly could run around all she wanted, like a child should be able to.
She was blessed. A great place next to her mother, her independence intact, and support of her family—everything was perfect.
Carefully maneuvering around, she examined her rather large bedroom, scanning it for boxes marked “closet”. “Mel, where are you?”
“I’m right here.” Her best friend appeared in the doorway, her deep brown eyes matched the curls that cascaded down her arms.
“Could you hand me that box over there?” Corey pointed to the large box in the corner. “I am afraid to get off of this thing and back on again—I am not quite sure if it will hold.”
“Get down. I can put those boxes up there without using an old broken down chair”. Mel picked up the box as if it didn’t weigh anything. “That piece of furniture that your standing on is supposed to be at the dinner table, not used as ladder.”.
Corey carefully stepped down and moved aside. “I know, you don’t need help reaching the shelf. You should join a woman’s basketball league,” she said, admiring her friend’s lanky build. Corey was slender but always detested the fact that she was only a few inches over five feet tall..
“Oh, and give up my busy life of basking in the sun and hanging in downtown nightclubs? I don’t think so!”
Glancing at the clock on the dresser, Corey sighed. Her heart fluttered with excitement, yet her nerves felt tight. It was almost time to go. “I am not sure if I am ready to venture out into the world on my own.”
Mel assembled the appropriate boxes on the top shelf. “You’ll be fine. This is what you’ve always wanted, isn’t it?”
Corey leaned against the wall and drew in a deep breath. “I am excited to have my freedom, after four years of being under mom’s thumb.” God love her mother, but that was too much. “Oh and to have a job—any job, in this economy—is so great.”
“I guess. If you say so,” Mel replied with a shrug.
Corey eyed the work piled up in front of the bedroom. The hands on the clock told her she’d be late if she didn’t leave now. “I have to go. are you sure you don’t mind staying and unpacking? I hate to leave you here all by yourself.”
Her friend shook her head and gave her a smile.
She wouldn’t know what she would ever do without Mel. They’d clicked the moment they’d met, and had been inseparable ever since. “I’ll go bring Molly next door and then I am off to work.”
Mel started sorting and stacking the boxes, but her words stopped Corey at the door. “You don’t have to do this, you know.”
“Don’t have to do what?”
“You and Molly can move in with me. You would never have to do anything. Except ring for the butler,” Mel said, swinging a pretend bell with her two fingers.
Corey knew Mel was quite serious and really did want them to live with her, but she couldn’t do that to her friend. She didn’t want to depend on another person as she’d done all her life with her family. With the unexpected pregnancy of her daughter and her own health issues, she’d been a liability to everyone around her. Corey couldn’t have that anymore. Not wanting to hurt Mel’s feelings, Corey pasted on a mischievous smile and jutted out a hip, setting her hand on her waist. “Do you even have a butler?”
Mel giggled. “No, but I do have a cleaning staff and I could supply all the coffee and pastries you can handle every morning.”
Corey smiled. Her friend knew her too well. “If there is one thing that I want, it’s the satisfaction of knowing that I can support Molly and myself.”
Mel scoffed. She removed a stack of dishtowels from one of the boxes and moved past Corey. “Your strength sickens me.”
Corey bit her lip. Mel wouldn’t understand. Her best friend had money all her life, never had to deal with not having what she wanted or struggle with finances. The cost of raising a child did not come cheap, especially one that only drank flavored milk and preferred bacon as a standard staple in her diet. She followed Mel to the kitchen.
Reaching into her bag for her bike keys, she looked up to see a four-year-old[ 1] , Molly Nolan, appear in the back doorway that led in from the yard adjacent to the two flat where the rest of Corey’s family lived. Faith occupied the first floor and Corey’s maternal grandmother occupied [DB2] the second.[ 3]
Sweat covered Molly’s forehead, her skin flushed no doubt from running around. Her delicate face turned beet red and her tiny frame shook, then tears suddenly trickled down her cheeks. “Mommy, please, no!”
Corey knelt down, swiping her thumbs under the tot’s eyes. “What’s wrong, sweetie? Why are you so upset?”
“Nana says you’re going to work and you will be gone all day.” Molly sniffled.
“That’s right, sweetheart. Mommy’s going to have to work a few days a week so that we can pay our rent. We talked all about this last night.” Corey lightly, but playfully smacked Molly on the butt. “Now go and say goodbye to Mr. Fuzzybottoms. You are going to stay at Gee-Gee’s today.”
“Okay,” Molly replied, with a twinge of reluctance in her voice. Her daughter trudged to her room, her tiny little shoulders hung with defeat.
Corey sighed. She didn’t want to leave Molly with her great-grandma, who was very old. When her grandmother watched her daughter, she was forced to be quiet and stagnant—not a strong suit in a four-year old. But Corey didn’t have any other choice. She needed this job.
“I’m going to be here unpacking. Molly can stay with me,” Mel offered, neatly placing the dishcloths in a drawer under the sink.
Corey flung her arms around Mel and squeezed as tight as she could. “Melanie Maitland, you are just too good to me. What did I ever do to deserve a wonderful friend like you?”
Her friend smiled. “I’m the lucky one. Just let me grab my keys and we’ll take you to work.”
“No, thank you. I have transportation.”
“You do?” Mel asked.
Corey chuckled at Mel’s incredulous expression and motioned for her friend to follow her down the long kitchen hallway to the cramped laundry room. She waved a hand at the tattered ten-speed bicycle, which barely fit next to the washer. “Look, isn’t it cute? I bought it at the thrift store.”
Mel shook her head and stomped the heel of her hand into her forehead. “Yes, it is very cute—if lilac with coral stripes is your thing.”
Corey could see Mel trying her best to contain her laughter. “Aren’t you eloquent? My bike is purple with orange stripes.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, my mistake.”
Their banter made Corey giggle like a school girl.
Mel pointed at the bike. “Is that torn seat going to be uncomfortable?”
“No, I found some orange duct tape at the store.” Corey wheeled the bicycle into kitchen, stopping at the china cabinet before pulling a roll out of the drawer.
“I give up on trying making a society girl out of you,” Mel teased, playfully throwing her arms in the air. Closing the door to the laundry room, she left Corey in the hallway taping up the seat.
“Molly!” Corey called, as she finished taping her bike and rested it against the wall.
Her daughter darted out her room with her fluffy orange and white Persian-mix in her arms. The oversized cat squirmed and wriggled out of Molly’s grip. Corey knelt down, picked up the feline, and ran her hand over the cat’s fur. She always thought adopting the cat from the Animal Welfare League when she was pregnant with Molly was a good idea. But now—she knew it was a great idea. Molly and Mr. Fuzzybottoms loved each other so much that she couldn’t imagine what Molly would do without her beloved pet. He purred while Molly rubbed the bottom of his chin, and then she draped her little arms around Corey’s neck. “I love you, mommy!”
Her heart skipped a beat, hearing those words coming from Molly’s sweet little voice. She had never known greater joy than the bond that she and her child shared. “I love you more!”
Corey planted a kiss on Molly’s cheek before putting her palm to Molly’s forehead and noted how warm she felt. She frowned. Molly had a slight fever and runny nose the day before. “How are you feeling? Do you still feel like you have a cold?”
“My throat hurts,” the perfectly healthy-looking tot whined.
“The doctor is going to fix your medicine, and I’ll bring it home after work tonight.” Corey pressed another large smooch on Molly’s head.
“Mommy, aren’t you taking me to Gee Gee’s?”
“You’re going to stay here with Mel instead.”
“Yes!” Molly jumped up and down with excitement. Her unequivocal joy made Corey feel a lot better about going to work and leaving her behind. Turning to her best friend, she mouthed the words, “Thank you.”
Mel shook her head in reply and smiled sweetly.
Without another thought, Corey left the house with her bike. It was easier having people she trusted to take care of Molly instead of hiring some stranger. Although entirely grateful, she was still jealous Mel could be there and she couldn’t, plan and simple.
No way would she rely on others for the rest of her life. All she wanted was her own life. With this new job, she had a chance to make it on her own. But what if she arrives at her new job and falls flat on her face? Or worse, screw up and get fired in her first hour?
The soft breeze on her skin seemed to wash away all her worries and apprehension. She basked in the bright sun and looked around at what the great city she lived in her whole life had to offer. Corey could see the top half of the high-rises displayed like trophies on a shelf. Even on the clearest of mornings, the buildings were surrounded in fog from the dew that rose off Lake Michigan. The haze gave them an air of mystery and intrigue.
Corey didn’t live in the heart of the town. But, it didn’t matter since there were always amenities within walking distance. Pizza parlors, family restaurants and fast food places were everywhere, and it seemed like there was a pharmacy on every corner.
She passed two men standing outside of the firehouse. “Good morning!” one of them shouted, and the other stood ogling and smiling at her.
Corey didn’t get a good look at them, but from a quick glance, she knew they were hot. Flattered by the attention, she didn’t see where she was going and drove her front tire between the curb of the sidewalk and the grass. Her heart raced as she tried to get her feet free in time to catch her balance.
Too late, her forearm scraped across the sidewalk, and her whole body slammed down on her elbow. She landed on the pavement with a shriek.
“Are you okay, Miss?”
Blinded by the summer morning sun, Corey cupped her hand over her eyes and got a glimpse of the masculine figure hovering over her, extending an eager arm out to help her up.
No one ever died of embarrassment, did they? Corey waved him off, getting up on her feet by herself. “I’m fine.”
“I’m Lieutenant Charles Macklin, but you can call me Charlie.” He slid his hand smoothly forward to shake hers.
“Corey Nolan,” she said, as she griped his palm. The man’s shake was firm, but she noticed his messy collar length hair—soft and wild. His muddy brown eyes were slightly obscured by wire rim glasses. Even though he was a little nerdy, she couldn’t deny he was extremely handsome, no blemishes or facial flaws whatsoever. Definitely not Corey’s type, though. She liked tough-looking guys. Had she been born in the fifties, she definitely would have had a crush on James Dean with his boyish looks and pack of cigarettes tucked not so neatly in a dirty white T-shirt and faded tight blue jeans.
The pain in her elbow reminded her of what had just happened. Her cheeks heated. I can’t believe I fell right in front of them. Why couldn’t I hold on until I got further down the block? She turned her attention toward the building to avoid any further awkwardness. The classic red brick firehouse stood tall, solid. The corners, wide doorways, and windows were trimmed in white stone. Two fire engines were parked in the driveway; the one closest to Corey had an enormous ladder affixed to the top of it. The other was just the plain fire engine she was used to seeing all the time.
And then she spotted one of the guys walking toward her with a first aid kit. She stifled a groan. He was wearing a navy T-shirt that said CFD on it and casual blue pants; his long golden hair pulled back in a ponytail revealed broad, athletic shoulders. His beefy appearance was more like that of a wrestler than a civil servant.
“May I take a look at your elbow?” His professional manner somehow put her at ease.
“Sure, I think it is okay, though,” she said, smiling.
“Corey, this is Boyd Stone,” Charlie said, proudly in introduction. “Owwwy!” Corey shrieked, and her jaw clinched as Boyd rubbed her elbow down with a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol.
“It is very nice to meet you,” Boyd prompted.
“I said, nice to meet you.” He chuckled.
Corey tried to concentrate on what the man said, but her attention was diverted. Not to Boyd who was cupping her elbow in his rather large paws or to Charlie, for that matter. A third man was waxing the already gleaming rig, seemingly oblivious to the fact she had just spilled onto their curb a few minutes before. His biceps gyrated in perfect harmony with his triceps as he thrust the cheesecloth smoothly across the side of the truck. It was possible that he’d posed a time or two for the firefighter’s calendars—the ones that she and her girlfriend would drool over whenever they went to the mall.
She was completely mesmerized.
Corey didn’t remember ever being quite this hot. Added perspiration dampened her white tank top. Her cheeks flushed, and she ran her fingers through her hair that was feeling a little sticky and wet. The combination of the sun’s heat and the bike ride had left her a sweaty mess.
As Boyd cleaned her elbow, she snuck a few glances at the third fireman, watching him whenever she thought he wasn’t paying attention. He was definitely Corey’s type—rugged and strong. She’d dreamt her whole life of meeting a man who looked that perfect, but what girl hasn’t? he is probably married or a jerk or something. Not to mention Corey already had a boyfriend.
“The man that you are drooling over is Jacob Gilroy,” Charlie said, dryly.
Corey’s cheeks reddened. “I was not staring.” her lips widened into smile. “My eyes must be out of focus from the fall.”
Boyd laughed. “You fell on your elbow, not your head, and nobody said anything about staring. It’s okay, Corey. Every woman gawks at our firehouse hunk,” he scoffed, with more than a hint of jealousy in his voice.
Knowing that she had already been running late, Corey looked down at her watch. “Oh, shit!” she clamored. “I’m starting a new job today, and I’m supposed to be there like, now!”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Charlie asked.
“Thank you. I am just fine. Besides, I only have to go around the corner.” She pointed to the main street at the end of the block. “I work at Bob’s Bar.”
“I know that place; it’s a little rough,” Boyd chimed in. “Do you think you can handle it?”
Corey laughed. “Well, I’ll find out, won’t I? Honestly, it’s not that bad once you’re inside.”
“If you ever need anything, just call.” Charlie handed her a piece of paper with the firehouse number on it.
“Thanks.” Her conscience needled her. Thanks—that’s the best you can do? They are our Nation’s heroes, for Christ’s sakes. “Before I go, I just have to say…I am in such awe of what you guys do. I could never go into a place where flames were doing the Macarena.”
“Thank you, but we are just doing our job.”
Corey jumped at the voice. The man she’d been ogling earlier walked forward from the other truck, and she couldn’t help but marvel at how flawless he was. At least six-feet tall, he had dark complicated eyes and a gorgeous smile that seemed to fall right into perfect dimples.
“Most normal folk wouldn’t go in a burning building. It’s a natural instinct to be afraid of the beast. That’s where people like us come in.” He smiled, and she was ready to melt into a puddle on the sidewalk.
“Yeah, but I—” Corey paused to take a deep breath, her heart beating faster. “I have an actual fear of fire, it’s called pyro—”
“Pyrophobia,” Jake said, finishing her sentence. He folded the rag in his hand and set it down on a tall red toolbox.
“That’s right.” Not knowing what else to say, she turned to walk away, but a hand gently grabbed her forearm, stopping her. Jake slid his fingers down her arm and across her wrist. A spark lit through her. She gasped and her gaze locked with his. She made no attempt to draw away. Corey couldn’t…she didn’t want to.
“How is it?” he glanced at her scraped and bruised elbow.
Coming out of the trance, she lifted her arm and showed him the slight injury. “Oh, it’s fine.”
“I would have been over sooner, but the other guys got you, and I didn’t want you to be overwhelmed.”
Corey couldn’t conjure up a response. What he said, and how he said it, turned her knees to jelly. She felt like the high school girl who was just noticed by the popular jock. She couldn’t stop staring at his soft, dark brown eyes, even though a sensible voice in her head told her to just walk away and forget him.
“I’m very sorry. But I really have to go.” She peeked around his massive chest to the men beyond. “It was so nice meeting you guys,” she called over, waving. She turned to pick up her bike, then pushed it along and hopped on.
“Stop by anytime,” she heard Jake yell behind her.
She smiled but didn’t turn around. Glancing at her watch, she’d realized she was supposed to have started her first day of work eight minutes ago. Fear made her petal faster.
She hoped she hadn’t lost the job already. But what if she did? How would she pay rent? How would she feed Molly?
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