Home > Reunited on Sugar Maple Road(7)

Reunited on Sugar Maple Road(7)
Author: Debbie Mason

One of the paramedics helped load the man onto a gurney before rushing over and checking Em’s pulse. “Hurry. Put her down.” She grabbed a blanket and pointed to a grassy area on his right.

As soon as Josh laid Em out on the blanket, the woman tilted Em’s head back, administering five rescue breaths before beginning chest compressions.

Josh knelt at Em’s side and took her hand. The beds of her fingernails were blue. She was too wet for them to use a defibrillator. They’d waste precious time removing her clothes and drying her off. After the thirtieth chest compression, the paramedic checked for Em’s pulse and then started over again.

“Em, come on. You’re a fighter. You don’t give up.”

The chief, Cody, and the rest of the crew joined them, the blue and red lights from the emergency vehicles crisscrossing their somber faces.

“Mom, dad, and daughter are going to be fine,” the chief said, the whirr of the departing siren confirming they at least were on the way to the hospital. In the distance, he heard the sound of another ambulance coming their way.

The older man walked over with Gus in his arms, placing him on the other side of Em. “Thought it might help them both if he was with her. They checked him over, and he’s going to be fine.” Gus whined, licking Em’s hand. The man patted him. “He’s a brave dog.”

Josh drew his gaze from Gus pushing at Em with his nose and cleared the emotion from his throat. “He is.” He thanked the man for all that he’d done. Then Josh glanced at the paramedic, who once again checked for Em’s pulse.

She looked at Josh and shook her head.

Josh froze and then an anger unlike he’d ever felt before roared to life inside him. He moved the paramedic out of the way. “I’ve got this.” He wouldn’t stop until he got Em back. He’d read the stories about cold-water drownings. Some people had been brought back two hours after they’d been pulled from the water.

“I wasn’t giving up on her,” the paramedic said, leaning over to give Em two more rescue breaths.

“Good, because she wouldn’t give up on you,” he said, and restarted compressions. As he pushed down on her chest for the twenty-ninth time, his panic came out in his voice, “Damn it, Em. Fight!”

A small sound escaped from between her parted lips, and the paramedic quickly rolled her onto her side. Em coughed and then vomited what looked like a gallon of water. Josh had never been so happy to see someone puke in his entire life.

The second ambulance arrived, and within minutes, Em was on a gurney. “I’m coming with you and so is her dog,” he informed the paramedics as they headed for the ambulance with Em. Josh scooped Gus into his arms and glanced at his boss.

The chief nodded and gave his shoulder an understanding squeeze. “Good job, son.”

“Team effort,” Josh said, lifting his chin at the crew in thanks. He didn’t think he could talk without getting emotional. Now that he knew Em had a fighting chance, the tight reins that held his fear in check were letting go.

“If it’s all right with you, Chief, I can drive Officer Scott’s Camaro to the hospital,” Cody offered. “Keys were inside.”

The chief agreed, and Josh called over his shoulder without breaking stride. “Have a care, Cody. That’s her baby. I wouldn’t want to be you if there’s so much as a scratch on it.”

“Okay, which one of you told him I took out my muffler on the speed bump?” Cody said.

“You’d better be jok…” Josh trailed off as he jumped into the back of the ambulance and immediately clapped a hand over his eyes.

“Oh, come on. Don’t try and tell us you’ve never seen a woman in her bra and panties.”

“Not that woman, and if she ever found out that I did, she’d stick burning pokers in my eyes.” Feeling for the chair with his foot, he lowered himself onto it.

“Did you hear that, Lottie?” the paramedic called to her partner in the driver’s seat.

“Oh yes, I did. Now, coach, about my son making your team next year,” Lottie said, a gurgle of laughter in her voice.

The teasing felt good, normal, and helped slow the panicked gallop of his heart. He had a feeling Lottie and her partner knew exactly what they were doing. “As if you’d have to blackmail me. The kid has great hands. I can’t wait to have him on my team.”

“You can uncover your eyes, Coach. She’s decent.”

“You sure about that?”

Lottie hooted. “The man actually sounds scared of her.”

“Have you met Emma Scott?” he asked, completely serious as he lowered his hand from his eyes. Em was covered in a trauma blanket, and he was relieved to see a hint of color returning to her face.

“I have, and she’s never been anything but professional and kind.”

“Lucky you,” he said, then glanced at the screen monitoring Em’s heartbeat. “That’s good, right?”

“Weak but steady,” the paramedic said, looking up from adjusting an IV drip. “She’s not out of the woods yet, but she’s young and obviously physically fit. There’s no way she could’ve done what she did tonight if she wasn’t.”

He hadn’t had time to process the lengths to which Em had gone to rescue the family. There was part of him that still wanted to shake her for risking her life while the other part of him was in awe of what she’d done. In awe, yet not surprised.

She’d been as courageous in grade school as she’d been tonight. He’d seen her climb to the top of a thirty-foot tree to rescue a kitten and take on bullies twice her size. In high school, she’d faced off with the mean girls and spoke out against a teacher for fat-shaming a student. She was fierce and never backed down, even when the teacher threatened to expel her. Josh was pretty sure she’d given him and his best friend gray hairs before they were eighteen.

Thinking about Cal, he asked the paramedic, “Can I borrow your cell? I need to give Em’s brother a heads-up.”

He lowered Gus onto the floor. “Lie down, boy.” He didn’t want him getting in the way. Gus ignored him. But instead of facing Em, he sat and stared at the side of the ambulance behind Josh.

The paramedic nodded, handing over her cell. Then she went back to monitoring Em.

“Thanks.” Josh glanced at Gus, who was sniffing the side of the ambulance. He didn’t have time to wonder what was up with the dog as the call connected.


“Cal, it’s me.”

“Little busy here, bro. Ambulance is pulling in now.”

“Yeah, about that.” He wished there was a way to soften the blow. “Cal, it’s Em.” He gave him a quick summary of Em’s heroics. “I’m with her in the ambulance. She’s going to be okay, Cal.” He glanced at Em, praying it was true.

Josh loved his siblings. They were close but nothing like Cal and Em. Their father had abandoned his family when Cal was ten, and their mother had taken on two jobs to make ends meet. She hadn’t been around much, and though he was only two years older than Em, Cal had taken on the role of father and mother.


“Yeah,” his voice was tight, like he was trying to hold it together. “Let me talk to the paramedic.”

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