C.K. Laughlin - Walking On Water

Burning Love

by C.K. Laughlin

	“Don’t move, Angie.  I’ve called 911.  Help is on the way.”
	I heard the words, but they didn’t register until I was staring into the hazel eyes of a very handsome fireman.  Then it hit me – this wasn’t a handsome man staring intently at a pretty woman, this was a paramedic staring intently at an embarrassed burn victim.
	“This doesn’t look so bad,” he grinned after examining my face, neck and hands.  “Tell me what happened.”
	“I was lighting the grill,” I grimaced.  The only thing my ex didn’t take when he left me, I thought to myself.  “I pushed the igniter, and it blew up in my face.”  I looked up at my house, the roof still smoldering.  
	The paramedic followed my gaze and gave me another knowing grin.  “That’s not so bad either,” he promised.  “You got lucky.”
	Lucky?  My house was still hot from the dying flames, my burned hair covered my shirt like ash, my face and hands ached, and the one person I had relied on at times like this had disappeared.  I looked up at my elderly neighbor who had come to my rescue, thankful that someone cared.  “Thank you so much for your help, John.”
	A second fireman approached us.  “Miss, you’ll need to dispose of that grill.  We discovered a leak that caused the accident.”
	“Thank you.”  I shook my head, wondering if my ex knew about that before he left.
	“Can you walk?” the paramedic asked.  “We need to take you to the hospital to get these burns checked.”
	“I can walk,” I nodded.
	“May I call you Angie?” he asked when we were settled in the ambulance.  He smiled when I nodded.  “Okay, Angie, I’m going to apply some salve to your face and hands that will take away the sting.  Don’t look so worried,” he grinned.  “You have no bad burns.  Your face looks a little red, like you’re sunburned, and you’ll lose some of your hair and eyebrows, but the shorter bangs and rosy cheeks will only add to that already pretty face.”
	“Thank you,” I blushed, grateful he couldn’t see it.
	“It’s true,” he said, as he continued to apply the salve.  “By the way, you can call me Tom.”
	Later that night, as I applied more salve to my face and neck, I thought about Tom.  I stared at my reflection in the mirror, wondering if he truly would find my shorter hair and penciled in eyebrows even slightly attractive.  Would any man ever again find me attractive?  I shook my head sadly and climbed into bed.  My wounds, all of them, needed time to heal.
	Over the next week, I surprisingly received many compliments on my “new look” and found the silver lining in the cloud hanging over my head.  At least once a day, my thoughts turned to Tom, and I wondered if I would ever see him again.  Each time, I scolded myself for acting like a schoolgirl and put him out of my mind.  I was truly surprised, and very excited, when I did run into him at the drugstore a few days later.
	“Hello Angie,” he greeted me warmly.  “You look wonderful.  How do you feel?”
	“Better,” I answered, blushing again under his intense gaze.
	“That’s great,” he smiled.  “How’s the house?  If you’d like, I could recommend someone for the repairs.”
	“You could?”
	“Well,” he grinned, “I have a side business as a handyman.  I’m also an inspector, which you’ll need for your insurance company.  What do you think?”
	“You’re hired,” I chuckled.  “When can you start?”
	Tom showed up bright and early the next morning to start the repairs.  He was right about there being only minor damage, and we were able to fix it over the weekend.  He insisted that he could do the work on his own, but I felt the manual labor would be good for both my body and my mind.  We chatted while we worked, discovering that we had a lot in common.  We liked the same music, books and movies, and we both loved to travel.
	“I can’t believe you’ve been to Scotland,” Tom commented as we shared our travel adventures.  “I’ve always wanted to go there.  Does the Loch Ness monster really exist?”
	“I swore not to divulge that information,” I smiled.  “You’ll have to go there and see for yourself.”
	He impressed me with tales of fires and accident scenes, proud to share but careful not to brag.  He even showed interest in my real estate stories, though I knew my career wasn’t nearly as exciting as his.  And he made me laugh, a trait I admired in every dear friend.  I found myself already missing him as we finished the repairs.
	“Good as new,” Tom smiled when we completed the job and stood back to admire our work.
	“No,” I shook my head, “it’s better.  Thank you for everything.”
	“You’re welcome.”
“So, how much do I owe you?” I asked.
	“The insurance company will pay for the repairs.”
	“There has to be something I can do to say thank you,” I insisted.
	“Okay,” he grinned, “have dinner with me.”
	I blushed.  “I’m supposed to do something for you.”
	“Then you can make dinner for me.  Does tonight work for you?”
	I smiled, enjoying the playful sparkle I saw in his eyes, begrudgingly thankful for that old leaky grill.  “If I don’t have to cook over an open flame,” I smiled, “you’ve got yourself a deal.”