Healing Her Boss's Heart

By: Dianne Drake


“YOU’RE FROM CHICAGO. Why would you choose us?” Dr. Jack Hanson stared at the blonde beauty sitting across the desk from him. She had a good physique to her. Well muscled. Looked strong. Tall. All of it suited for his program. And if facial expressions gave anything away, hers did. It screamed determination. This was one no-nonsense woman and, while he wasn’t interested in the woman part, he was certainly intrigued by the no-nonsense.

In fact, in his own personal notes, when he’d been asked to do the recruiting for his class, the first qualification he’d listed had been no-nonsense. That, in his opinion, was a God-given trait. The rest of it could be trained into the candidates.

“The timing worked out. As I stated in my cover letter, I was asked to take a leave of absence, which may well turn into a permanent leave, and since I wasn’t doing anything else, this seemed like the place for me to be. An opportunity to learn something new, maybe refocus my efforts in a new direction. That’s what I do in my life, Doctor. I look for ways to move forward.”

“This mandatory absence…” He folded his arms across his chest, trying to look formidable when what he was really feeling was nervous. Even before he’d started his questions, he’d discovered that she had the power to do that. He didn’t know why, especially since women, in general, had no real effect on him anymore. But Carrie Kellem had marched into his broom-closet-sized office ten minutes ago, extended her hand across the desk to him, and something about the confidence in her smile had thrown him way off. So much so, he wasn’t fully back yet. “You didn’t explain it in full. Why not?”

“Because it’s not a problem for you to worry about. My superiors think I’m too intense, too involved. Too headstrong. Because I’ve jumped the scene a couple more times than they’re comfortable with, and they want me to step back and think about the error of my ways.” She smiled. “Which isn’t an error since I saved lives, and that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

“Explain jumping the scene.”

“It means I go in before I’m ordered to.”

“And you don’t consider jumping the scene an error or an insubordinate move? Especially since you’ve said you’ve done it more than once? Because mountain and wilderness rescue is often slow. Painstakingly so. Sometimes it takes you hours to advance only by inches. And if you jump a scene that’s not properly set for the rescue, people could get hurt. Or killed. Including you. So, do you have the patience for the slow procedures, and are you willing to obey orders you might not agree with? Because those are two things I need in the students I’ll be admitting to the training program. In other words, I want starters, not jump-starters. Can that be you?”

She leaned forward, to the edge of her chair. “I’m a SWAT officer, Dr. Hanson. Specifically trained and certified as a tactical paramedic, as well. It’s my job to get in and take care of anybody who’s been injured during a crime in progress, or directly afterward, and if that means jumping the scene and going in before anybody else does…” She shrugged. “I’m not impatient. At least, I try not to be. Sometimes I guess I am, though, because when you see someone who needs you right that moment…” She paused, swallowed hard.

“The people who depend on me to rescue them deserve the best I can give them, and that’s what they get. My best. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m supposed to be doing if I’m sidelined for any reason. People could die because of that, and I don’t want to be the one…responsible. When someone needs help, Doctor, that’s the only thing that crosses my mind.”

“Above your own safety?”

“I never even think of my own safety.” She relaxed back into her chair, folded her hands in her lap, and awaited the next question.

He did like her skill level and her confidence, but it worried him that she might be too impulsive at times, which could lead to recklessness. Of course, learning to respond properly was part of his training course, so he might be able to impress on her how important it was—especially when you could be hanging off the side of a mountain—to keep everything under control and follow orders.

“But my background check on you shows that you’ve disobeyed orders at least three times in the past three months. In my program, and ultimately in my rescue operations, I don’t tolerate that. And the people who depend on me to get them rescued deserve the best I can give them. So, on my team, if you can’t, or won’t, follow orders, you’re gone. Simple as that. One screwup and you’re out. Can you deal with that?”

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