Chapter 1

Char meets a sexy firefighter

Chapter 1

Chapter 1
March 2018 Starling, Michigan
She stood in line at the sub shop. Checking the time on her digital watch that told the tides and the phases of the moon that was on her left wrist, Charlotte Rutkowski didn’t have much time left before her first shift at Abraham Security. She also checked her eight-millimeter sized Chakra bracelet that had all seven chakras wrapped around lava rocks to help calm her.
“Hurry it up people!” she muttered.
She checked the red watch that could be seen from Pluto, she laughed at her own joke. But it told her she had twenty minutes to get her lunch and get to work. She had her ear buds in while her phone played Bad City Woman from one of her top four favorite bands, Perfect Plan. The others were Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Whitesnake. Even though she was born in 1993, she loved eighties metal. Her older brother Matt got her hooked on it.
She was now next in line, she smiled. She checked the time again, eighteen minutes. She shook her head. And as she got to the counter, some other person stepped in front of her because she was checking her watch.
“Dude!” she yelled. “I was next!”
“Um, you were looking at your watch and not in line,” he said.
She pursed her lips, took out her ear buds and shook her head at the tall, lanky man. She walked further up to him. The man had the attention of the two people behind the counter and the three people paying near them and two men sitting at a square table to her right.
“Oh, Stan, watch this woman, she’s got some fire in her.” The young man behind the counter chuckled.
“Seriously, I was next, and I was standing right here!” she stated.
“Oh, look, look like she’s gonna cry. Go home princess,” Stan said.
Char blew out a breath and her hands became fists as she slightly turned to her right to get ready to fight and before she felt a hand on her shoulder. She took her right hand, grabbed the hand that touched her and tossed the person over her shoulder like he was a paperweight. When she turned around and saw it wasn’t Stan, but a different guy, her eyes widened.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” she stated.
When she saw the man dressed in firefighter gear, her face turned beat red. Stan stepped aside and watched the scene unfold in front of him. As did everyone else. They all stood stunned. Their eyes wide and the firefighter lay on his back wincing for a moment as his partner came over to help.
“Steven, are you okay? She just, wow, she just like pulled you over like you were a rag doll.” The middle-aged man laughed.
“Yeah, I’m just fantastic!”
“Dude, I’m so sorry!” Char cried.
“It’s okay, really.”
“You’re not going to press charges, are you?” she asked.
“Nah, I get it. It’s okay, I was just trying to help.”
“I’m so sorry again, please, I normally don’t do that, and I have no excuse for it. If you want to call the cops, call them.”
“It’s okay, Miss?”
“Charlotte.”
“Steven Rinning.”
“I feel like such an ass.”
“Hey, don’t do that to yourself.”
“Are you sure, you’re, okay?” she checked.
“I’ll be fine, yes. Thankfully, I work out and drink a lot of milk.” He laughed.
Stan came over to them. “I saw everything, and I’ll press charges. That’s uncalled for!”
“Hey, mind your manners, dude!” Steven said.
“She just clocked you, Bro, you gonna take that?”
“It’s okay. You should have never cut in front of her. Yes, I saw that whole scene also. If we call the cops, they will be asking everyone here what really went down, can you handle that?” Steven asked.
“Um, right, sorry ma’am. I’m truly sorry, sir,” Stan said.
The two behind the counter were chuckling at what was unfolding before them. The three people at the register were smiling. They were all women. Steven's partner helped him up.
“About time someone shows him up. He’s always in here cutting in lines, acting like he owns the place. It’s annoying!” one woman said.
“He’s a paying customer!” the man behind the counter said.
“He’s annoying and he shouldn’t be allowed to take cuts!” the second woman said.
“He’s a friend of mine,” the man stated.
“Wow, he’s your friend? And you let him do that? I’m going to call your super!” the third women said with a raised voice so everyone could hear.
“Don’t do that. I promise, I promise, I’ll keep him under control,” the man said.
“You can’t control me!” Stan started. “Ah, who needs this place. Danny, I’ll see you later?”
“Yeah, Stan, take it easy.”
Stan glared back to Charlotte. “Watch your back, Little Princess!”
Stan left the restaurant and the door slammed behind him. Char shook her head as her hands slightly trembled. Steven held her close to him.
“Are you going to be, okay?” Steven checked.
“Yeah. Again, I’m so sorry.”
“That’s a great defense move there.”
She whispered into his ear. “I’m a cop.”
“No way? Really?”
“Yes way!” She giggled. “I’m a K9 officer.”
“So, frigging cool, you undercover right now?”
“Keep your voice down. No, I’m not undercover, I’m on way to my day job. I do cop stuff at night.” She laughed.
He chuckled too.
“Miss, are you going to order?” the man behind the counter asked.
“Yes, I want a turkey sub, six inch with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with Italian dressing on the side.”
“What kind of bread?”
“Wheat please.”
“Gotcha. Sorry about Stan, I’ll be talking to him later.”
“Thanks.”
Steven pulled out his wallet and went to the cashier. The younger woman’s hazel green eyes beamed at him. She fumbled over taking his twenty-dollar bill.
“Cherry, you act like I’m some sort of sex god every time I come in.” Steven chuckled.
“You are Steven. I mean, Mr. Rinning. You are. Isn’t he ladies? I mean that brown short hair, those gorgeous golden eyes. I mean, hubba, hubba.”
All the ladies nodded to her thoughts. He turned back to Charlotte, and she nodded too. After he paid for her sub, they left, and he walked her to her car.
“Um, thank you for that,” she said. Her smile to her ears.
“Can I see you again? I mean after you tossing me like a doll, I think I deserve a second date?”
She giggled. “You call this a date?”
“Um, well, I suppose.”
She laughed. “I have to go; I have like fifteen minutes… ten, maybe.” She checked her watch; it was quarter after 12 noon. She attempted to do a simple equation but couldn’t.
Steven saw her struggle. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, I’m trying to figure out the time I have to get to work.”
“It’s quarter after, you have to be there at what time?” he asked.
“12:30.”
“Then, fifteen minutes. But first, can I have your number?”
“Got a pencil and a pen?” She blushed, he still wanted to see her, even after that little pathetic display. She questioned.
“You have a smart phone?” he countered.
“Oh, I see what you did there.”
He chuckled. She pulled her phone out and as he rattled off his number, she programmed it into her phone. She called it to save the contact info.
“Can I have your name now?” he asked.
“Char…” She cleared her throat. “Charlotte Rutkowski.”
“Polish and let me guess, part Cherokee?”
“How’d you know?”
“Well, your long blond hair, your light blue eyes and your high cheek bones. Your medium tanned skin that is unlike anything I ever saw. Those legs, those curves. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Look at you, those golden eyes, that build that could make you a linebacker for the Lions.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot. Well, Charlotte Rutkowski, I’ll be calling you!”
“I hope so.”
She watched him walk across the parking lot to the other parking spaces. When she turned back to open her car door, she leaned back, startled at seeing a woman there, on the step right next to the front of Char’s car.
“That was some toss. Hi, I’m Chelsea, Chelsea Kenton from the Starling Post, can you give me some insight on what happened here?”
“Sorry, no, I have to get to work for my first shift of the day, if I’m late again, I’ll be fired.”
Chelsea nodded but then pursed her lips and shook her head. Char saw the woman turn more than frustrated. But she couldn’t worry about that. Not now.

After her job at Abraham Security, Char hurried home. She lived by herself and when she arrived at her apartment, she fumbled with the keys to get into the single story detached, one bedroom. Still thinking about Steven, made her a bit jittery. As she entered, Neo was right there waiting for her with his wagging tail, barking, and prancing around.
“Hi, buddy, I missed you! I met someone, oh my gosh, he’s a dream! I’m so excited. You hungry?”
He barked and they went to the kitchen. She went to the fridge and opened the fridge door.
“I seriously need to go grocery shopping. All I have is shredded cheese in the bottom drawer, a 24 pack of water, a carton of eggs, a six pack of Dr. Pepper, a jug of orange juice, a couple of cans of Miller Lite, and moldy strawberries.” She laughed. She opened the freezer and laughed at only having a package of chicken breasts, chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, fries, and chicken patties. And one small tub of butter finger ice cream. She fed Neo after cleaning his bowl and gave him fresh water.
She decided to shower and get ready thinking she’d have a hot date with the sexiest firefighter she ever saw in her life. She even took a couple of hours off from her cop job for this. Her boss at the SPD let her do this as a special favor to her due to owing her a favor from a few weeks back. It was going on almost nine pm. And still no call from Steven. Her brain was moving at ninety-nine miles per hour as it always did. And the thoughts went baserkers in her head.
‘He’s not going to call you.’
And she went back and forth on this for many moments. But she refused to give into those negative thoughts. Being twenty-five, she was on her own and she totally forgot to ask him for his age. Did age even matter? Not to her. So, she called her brother. Her older brother, Mathew, always helped calm those horrid thoughts.
“Hey, Bro!” she said excitingly.
“Hey, Sis. Something happen today?” Matt asked.
“Oh yes, something happened today.”
“Can you tell me?”
“I met someone.”
“Oh?”
“He’s a firefighter dude. The sexiest firefighter ever!” She squealed.
“I had no idea you were looking.”
She laughed. She cracked open the bottle of water and took a hefty swig. And forgot her brother was on the phone.
“Dude, I don’t need to hear you drinking.” Matt laughed.
“Sorry. I’m just picturing him in my mind. It was the funniest thing.”
She told him the story. He all about busted a gut laughing. When he was finally catching his breath, she finished the bottle of water.
“So, he’s a firefighter and you tossed him like a rag doll?” Matt asked, laughing again.
“Yeah. I didn’t realize my own strength, Bro. It was amazing.”
“Cool, so, what, did you give him your number?”
“I did.”
“Well, don’t get your hopes up. I know how excited you get, and your choice of men lately has been, well…”
“Shut up! I know my past, dude.”
“Michael and Adam were, just wow.”
“Shut up, dude! I have a feeling about this guy.”
“Oh, a feeling? But you had a feeling about the others too.”
She heard him laughing.
“I’m gonna hang up.”
“Oh Char, I’m only playing. I’m your older brother and it’s my job to look out for my little sis.”
“I’m not little anymore!”
“Apparently.” He laughed. “I’m gonna come over for some dinner. What do you got over there?”
“I have chicken stuff.”
“Chicken stuff? What is that exactly?”
“Chicken fingers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken patties. Chicken stuff.”
“You kill me, Sis.”
“I aim to serve.” She laughed.
“Serve? Nice motto.”
“Well, it’s what I do.”
“Right. I’ll be over in ten minutes.”
“Oki doki. Be careful, Bro.”
“Always!”
He was over in ten minutes. Matt checked her fridge and freezer and shook his head at her.
“Really, Char?”
“Hey, I’ve been super busy with working two jobs. I’m exhausted. I hate having this Dyscalculia. It really sucks and I have to do three times more work cause I can’t even do basic math in my head.”
“I know, Sis, I know. You know, there are apps they have for math.”
“Yeah. I don’t want my phone all bogged down by apps with all the crappy ads. Nothing but ads these days, everywhere. It’s horrible! I’m not complaining, I’m just saying how it’s been going,” she explained.
“I know, Sis, I know. Well, you have chicken breasts here, do you by chance have any pasta?”
She smiled wide. “Who you talking to?”
He went through the cupboards and found the pasta and chicken gravy. He smiled wide too. As Matt began to prepare for the dinner, Char’s phone rang. Her eyes widened.
“What?” Matt asked.
“It’s just only dad.” She answered. “Hey, Sailor, what’s up, how are you, you okay?”
He sighed. “You don’t have to ask me if I’m okay, every time I call. I’m not dying anytime soon, sweet cakes.”
“But I care about you, Dad. I love you. I just ask because of that and because how you taught me.”
“I know. Anyway, how was your day? Do you want some company?”
“Well, Matt is here cooking me dinner, you want to pop by?”
“I was thinking about it. Matt is there too? And you didn’t bother to invite your old man for dinner?”
“Sorry, I know how busy you are.”
He laughed hard. She laughed too.
“Come on over,” she said.
“I’ll see you soon. I’m bringing Dawn, my home health care nurse.”
“Oki doki. See you soon, be careful!”
“Always!”
She told Matt they were coming over too. After she left the kitchen, she went to the living room and sat down on the couch with her phone in her lap. And the thoughts came through once more.
‘He’s not going to call,’ the inner voice said.
‘Yeah, no way would a smoking, sexy dude like that will call someone like you. You can’t even do basic math.’
She shook her head blew out a few breaths. She turned on the TV to one of her favorite shows, Chips, of course. She had all the seasons on DVD. And another favorite show was of course, NCIS, cause her dad loved it and was in the Navy.