Jamie – The Journey Begins Ch. 29 – Frost, Sunshine and Pastry

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Chapter 29: Frost, Sunshine and Pastry

Clearly, I’d forgotten how cold it can get up north — well, for the first few weeks anyway’s. The guys at the station said it was ‘fresh.’ Bullshit, fresh! I think my balls stayed lodged so far up inside me, I felt them in my neck for the first two days, ha-ha.

I’d woken up a few hours before my shift started. It was still dark and pretty much quiet outside. I was lying in bed, warm but alone – no Ben – no sexy warm body next to me.

I couldn’t help reminisce about how the past few months had flown by: Phoenix was a fantastic posting, as was Tucson – warm weather, great guys to work with, plus we had a couple of small brush fires, like our grass and scrub fires at home. Up here in Boston, MA, it was a completely different job. I was stationed at Columbus Ave Rescue 2 & Engine 42. It was much like back home – a fantastic mix of structure-based firefighting and using tools to pull shit apart.

The clock was running on my time up here though – two more rotations with 4days off between each. The good part of being alone here, if there is anything GOOD about being alone, was it was super easy to pull extra reliever shifts, half-shifts across this rotation, landing an extra day off. I opened up the work calendar on my cell, looking at my shifts on this last roster and it filled me with a little sadness.

All of a sudden it sprang to life. Shit – I almost dropped it. Lucas’ belly button was on my screen. Ha – someone wants to facetime.

“Hey, Lucas, what’s up?”

“Thought I’d check see how my frozen cuz is going? Where are you, Jamie? You look like you’re wearing every bit of clothing you own!”

“Thanks, mate! Facetime – just love it, hey. Nah, I just walked in from work. I’m still half-frozen. Last night was brutal. I can see that you’re feeling the cold – you’ve got socks on, shorts and a tee, ha-ha”

“Oh yeah it’s freezing. I’m sure it dropped to 75deg today. But seriously how you going? Must be hard getting close to the end right?”

“Mate, the last almost seven months have been such a fantastic experience, you know. I’ve had the opportunity to put a host of skills to work.”

“Nice when you get the chance to show ’em what you got, -surprise a few of the guys with what you actually know, can do.”

“Yeah, true. It does feel good, hey.”

“Yep, same for me when I shifted over to Johnson Space Centre. I remember the first time I got to review some specs on a turbine project. I kinda felt that I needed to prove myself and that was within the same organization. I totally get it, Jamie.”

“Wow listen to us, hey – all adulting and stuff. Could you ever imagine, hey? Haha. Imagine if my Mom and Dad or Uncle Reid and Aunt Ann-Maire heard us?”

“They wouldn’t believe us, we’ve got them all fooled, even Hailey and Ben too.”

“Lol, I know. I don’t get how they haven’t caught onto you though, Lucas – like shit, you have two engineering degrees. Look at the work you’re on – the 2024 Moon project – plus shit with defense, like, you’re not a dumbass.”

“Hey, I’ve seen what you can do too. I’ll never forget seeing you pull that family out of that house in Cali. Tom said it was just mind-blowing that you got them out and safe with next to nothing except for the fire extinguisher in the truck, then resuscitated the mom. Like, goddamn Jamie! Plus, you’ve got a degree education too – know more about hydraulics, volumes, and liquid dynamics than anyone I know – advanced life support too, like, shit man!”

“Yeah, well, I had to help. You just can’t sit back and do nothing, let people die. Anyway, the work here – it’s been such an opportunity to learn new skills, gain an understanding of how other services worked. Reinforced that there is good and bad in all our fire departments, at home where every measure of those I’d encountered here.”

“Love the way you downplay stuff. It works, hey. On some, Uncle Rob would love to hear that, but it doesn’t surprise me though. We deal with a few Australian companies in the flight project – they’re a match for us – so I get when you’re saying Aussies, for your population size and county age, punch above your weight.”

“Anyway, so what’s the go – you have interviews lined up?”

“Yeah, I’ve got two onlines. Let see what happens hey.”

“I can ask here too if you like. We’ve got a fire service here – didn’t know that till three days ago, I ran into a few of the guys. You know, if you like?”

“Thanks, mate! Might be a good idea. Better to have a few plan B’s hey.”

“I’ll ask around. Hey – gotta go. Hail’s is back and I haven’t done shit since I got home.”

“Ok, no worries. Thanks, Lucas. I’ll try to catch you when I’m back in Texas.”

..o0o..

After finishing two back-to-back pre-interview online sessions, I wasn’t feeling confident in securing a position in the near term, deciding to quietly lay down on Ben’s bed, I guess our bed now, right? I still say that because it’s all his really – my stuff is 14,000km away. Anyway, time to chill out, try gaziantep suriyeli escort and get my head in a good place.

Sinking into the comforter, I closed my eyes with my arm draped across my face. I could feel myself relaxing somewhat, almost like gently falling. The afternoon sun was warm on my face and upper body. I have to say it was having the desired effect, calming.

My ears twitched, pulling me back to the here and now. The slight rustle of the bedding and then gentile movement, silently almost, there was a familiar comforting feeling. Ben was laying on his side, lightly pressed up against me. I could feel his warm soft face and a little bit of stubble pressing against my chest.

“Hey, I know you’re stressed, Jamie. Your heartbeat is giving you away. It didn’t go too well… The interviews?”

I lifted my right arm slightly, my fingers absentmindedly playing with his hair, slowing or trying to slow my heart rate by breathing slowly and deeply. “Both services are under financial constraints. Basically, they’re only replacing staff losses – you know, general attrition, people retiring, that sort of stuff.”

“It would be a mistake, their mistake, if they didn’t hire you. I’m not saying that because I love you, married you, respect and admire you,” he said, pausing for a moment to gently kiss my chest.

“Hmmm… thank you, that was so sweet.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to kiss you every chance I get, Skip! Besides being the hottest, sweetest, most genuine guy I know – even when you drive me crazy with the adult child stuff at times – you’re an amazing man.”

“Thanks, Be.” I grabbed his hand for a moment, kissing it.

“Look. You’d be a fantastic asset to any fire service. Tom says it;, every other FD’s that you’ve worked here says it. Remember too, I’ve seen what you can do firsthand. It’s totally their loss if they don’t hire you.”

“I think they want to, but I don’t know. Their intakes at the colleges were tuned pretty much to cover that percentage, they’ve said that. I know at home, sometimes the funding cycle dries up and you just have to cut corners and make do.”

“You still going to meet with them face to face tomorrow?”

“Nah, I suggested that we touch base when I return from Australia after my last rotation in Boston. Gives them 5+ weeks to work out what they want to or can do,” Ben just looked up at me, with a mix of compassion and concern in his eyes.

“Hey, I’m not worried. I can pick up some part-time work around the place. Lucas said he asked the guys at the Johnson Space Centre if any Fire Crew jobs were going. Hey – I might even be able to dust off my engineering degree, lol. I’m sure I’ll find something. Hey, I can work a street corner if I really have too, right?” Ben laughed at that one.

“You know how you just told me you weren’t worried, Jamie? You should tell your heart that – it’s beating something crazy.”

“That’s not stress, Benjamin – it’s because I have a sexy ass guy lying in bed with me and my mind is thinking less about work and more about…”

“You’re such a horndog, Jamie.”

“You love me for it.”

“That, and other things, like…” Ben wriggled over a little and started to tongue my exposed nipple. That made something else visible too … quite visible.

“Oh, hey there, you.”

“He likes you, Ben.”

“I like him too.”

..o0o..

The whole travel and being apart was tough, I won’t lie. That’s why we made the most of the off-shift time we had. We lazed around at home. Lucas and Hailey called in. But pretty much, we just hung out and spent some ‘us’ time.

Lt. Wiessnat came looking for me. I was busy stowing away a recently cleaned hose — hey, everyone should do it – not leave it to the probies.

“Hey, Jerad,” I called to one of the Lieutenants I’d worked with most shifts. “Mate, this is it, my last shift!” I’d been back in Boston for 14 days and my last shift was almost up. I was literally counting down the hours till it was over.

“Hey, the boss is looking for you.”

“Thanks, Jerad. What’s up? Didn’t he like my nude run through the engine bay, ha-ha?”

Jerad smiled, shaking his head. “We are so going to miss you when you’re gone. The boss said that the two services you were talking to in TX, were…”

“Yeah, not filling me with confidence in landing a position. But Lucas has found me something as a stopgap over at the Johnson Space Center, so at least I won’t have to work a street corner real soon.”

“Ha-ha, street corner. See, that’s what we’re going to miss, you’re crazy Aussie sense of humor. Anyway, come on, let’s go see the chief.”

The boss had an open-door policy. I’d only seen his office door closed once in my time here. So, with a quick knock on the door frame, we were summoned in. “G’ day mate! Did I finally get it right, Jamie?”

I could feel the broad smile on my face. The boss must have practiced saying ‘g-day’ every day, coz now he had it, which wasn’t easy. He had that strong Boston/New England accent going on – he almost sounded like some of my relatives from NH. “Yes sir, you do, mate.”

“Jamie, when your time is up here,” he paused to look at his watch, “- well, that’s in less than two hours – I just want you to know the entire station house, all the crews will miss you. You’ve been a great addition, valued by the crews here. If those Texans don’t sort themselves out, there’s a full-time position for you here at Boston FD.”

I was dumbstruck. The boss had always been nice, well, polite and kinda grumpy, but that’s normal – all firefighters, when they aren’t on the trucks anymore, get a little grumpy around the edges, lol. “Thanks, sir, I’m grateful, really grateful for the offer. I will keep it in mind.” With that, we shook hands and Jerad and I returned to the muster room.

Everything was set – my flight to Texas was at 1100h, giving me a few hours after coming off shift to grind out a quick session in the gym, get showered, changed, and across to Boston Logan and away. It’s going to be a busy few days, flying into Austin TX, then back to OZ to sort all my personal and financial stuff out. I’ve gotta say, the thought of doing that just filled me with dread, but I have no choice, I’ve got to get his all done.

..o0o..

Ben was on-shift when I arrived at Austin-Bergstrom. Aiden was off-shift – he’s a good guy volunteering to pick me up. It was well after 1700h when I finally got out of the terminal in Austin. “Hey Aiden! Thanks for coming out to get me – appreciate it.”

“What up, Jamie. Happy to.” He pulled me into a hug. “Boston cold enough for you, hey?”

“Pfft, I think it would take me months to get used to the cold – not my thing.”

We headed over to the baggage collection. I’d accumulated – no-bought – a new wardrobe of winter gear. Don’t think it will get much of a run in Texas. I’ve learned that the summer is a lot like northern Queensland – hot and humid at times.

“Hey Aiden, feel’n a little thirsty. How about we grab a quick beer on the way?”

“Hmmm, I could be tempted, but just one or two, right?”

“Sure, sure – one or two quick ones mate, maybe.”

Ok, so that didn’t go too well. Amanda showed up 2hrs later to collect Aiden and me, I sat in the back with little Olivia.

“Uncle Jamie, you smell like beer and whisky.”

“How do you know what whisky smells like, hmm?”

“Sometimes poppy drinks ‘number 7’ – you smell like that.”

I almost wet myself laughing, such a little miss! Telling me I smelt like liquor — wow, she’s a grammy already. I was trying to get a read on Amanda. She didn’t seem too upset. I’m sure she laughed a few times. I think the beers and Jack had slightly diminished my ability to … think!

“Lucky for you, Jamie, Ben’s not home yet. You’ll have time for a shower and change your clothes, hmm.”

“Ah yes. Thanks, Amanda. Great advice – think I might do that.”

Aiden just giggled, which was abruptly stopped with a death stare from his wife.

“Why are you laughing? Thought you were only going to be gone 2 hours, tops?”

There was a whole lotta , um-well-ahh, Aiden was struggling to dig himself out of that one.

“Sorry, Amanda, it’s my fault. I talked him into it.”

“Do you carry, Jamie?”

“Sorry, what?”

“Do you carry a firearm?”

“Ummm, no ma’am, hate guns.”

“So, you didn’t force my husband to pull off the highway or force a drink down his throat?”

“No, sorry. I was just happy to see a familiar face and let it get a little out of hand. Sorry Amanda, don’t be too mad at Aiden – it’s my fault.”

“Ha-ha, I’m good. Was enjoying the look on both your faces, like two little boys busted.”

“Yeah, mom. They’ve been drinking. They’re badddd.”

“Thanks for the backup, Olivia. Thought you were on my side.”

“No, Uncle Jamie, I’m on mommy’s side.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that. “Smart girl. Keep on mom’s good side.”

“Do you keep on your momma’s side, Uncle Jamie?”

“I try to… I really try to.”

Amanda pulled into Ben’s driveway in what seemed to be only seconds later. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door of Amanda’s SUV, the coolness of the night air washed over me. ‘Okay, Jamie, you can do this.’ As I stepped out, my feet felt a little off, like someone had tilted the pavement by about 10 degrees. Yeah, I almost fell ass over getting out of her truck.

“Shit who moved the ground?”

“Momma, Uncle Jamie cursed. Can we wash his potty mouth?”

“Where is this kid channeling all this grandmother energy?”

Aiden tried not to laugh. Amanda was looking straight ahead, trying her best not to laugh at her daughter who was looking directly at her mom with her head tilted. “We really should, momma. Y’all would wash my mouth out if I cursed.”

“True, Olivia. I am sorry for cursing.” Placing a steadying hand on the SUV, you know just to get my balance, with all the flights and stuff (well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), I continued, ” I will get Uncle Ben to wash my mouth out when he gets home, ok? Very sorry Ma’am.” I bowed at the little miss, to which she nodded and slipped her headphones on. “I think I’ve been dismissed.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t think Ben’s tongue washing your mouth out is a punishment, more like a reward.”

“Thank’s Aiden, I’ll take that,” I shot him an eat shit grin. “Thanks for the lift, Amanda. We’re catching up with you guys before I leave on Sunday?”

“Yes, we’re catching up Friday night at our place. See you then.”

And with that, the guys drove off. I walked in with my duffle bag full of clothes and the stuff I’d taken up to Boston with me. I don’t remember bringing half this with me, geez.

By the time Ben got home, I’d showered, changed, and even had a nap for a couple of hours. To say I was like an overexcited puppy the instant I heard his keys in the door lock was an understatement.

“Ben!” I squeaked out as I ran up to him. The poor guy hadn’t walked 6 feet in the door before I pounced on him. Okay, might have been still half-drunk, but oh-so ready to go. Back home we call it P&H, pissed and horny, and I was very that.

“OMG, I’ve missed you so much,” I said while crashing my mouth against his, somehow timing it so we didn’t clash teeth, or end up bruising our lips. Yeah, they might have been a little red for a bit afterward. Still lip-locked, I reached down and slipped my arm halfway between his butt, -and what a sexy butt it is too- sweeping him up in a fireman’s carry. Ben’s surprise was muffled by our connected mouths.

“Jamie, no!” he pulled his mouth off mine for a brief moment. “Here, right here on the sofa,” I changed direction veering to my right walking until my legs hit the edge of the sofa.

Lowering Ben down, while not losing physical contact with him, connected all the way till we were on the sofa in one movement, Ben remarked, “Man, we were never going to make it to the bedroom, not when you pounce on me like that, Jamie.”

“Hmmm, yep.”

..o0o..

“Hey dad, you got a moment?”

“Always mate. What’s up?”

“I’ve tried my best not to worry too much about work and all that stuff since getting back from Boston. But Dad, I’m failing, feeling overwhelmed … big time!”

“Ok, what did you do. Are you and Ben ok?”

Taking a deep breath of guilt, I continued, “I’m gonna say it right now! My husband is an absolute saint! How he didn’t end up killing me these past few days I’ll never know.”

“Oh, this will be good, Go on.”

“So, Thursday morning. I was being such a dick, I’d just had the best breakfast cooked for me. But I could feel I was just so… pissy, for no reason. Ben just made me an awesome breakfast.” I could feel my face turn bright red with embarrassment and self-anger.

“He was being all chatty trying to distract me, trying to disarm me, or talk me down I think, but I was having none of it. Was being such an ass, just mumbling or single-syllable responses to him. So I thought, maybe I should go get my running gear on and run it off, you know.”

“Just like you did as a kid. Did you get that far?”

“Nope,” I answered meekly.

“Okay then. You lost it, didn’t you, Jamie?”

“Yes, dad. I was so angry at myself for being such a dickwad to Ben. The last time I was this mad was when-“

“You and Mason got into it in the kitchen. I think your brother underestimated how much you’d bulked up at the fire college. Was kinda funny.”

Did my dad just say it was funny that I beat the crap out of Mason? I still remember him saying that ‘we were twenty year olds and to act like it, not our brain sizes.’

“Yeah, I walked into his bedroom to get changed and saw clothes scattered across the room. My mind was in overdrive, dad. Those idiots on the controls were pulling all the wrong levers. I’m like thinking, was he testing me? Just how many dirty clothes can be left on the floor before I would get triggered. Well… FINE then!”

“Ok, so you regained control and calmed the farm, right? I think we both know that answer though, don’t we, son?”

“Yes, dad. I’m still ashamed. I was like, that is … this is one piece too many, as I grabbed the clothing like it was… I don’t know, like.”

Anyway, I turned around to see Ben standing in the doorway, his face was neutral.

“So what do you call these Ben!” I’m standing at the end of the bed, waving a pair of trunks in my hand like a damn flag.

“He just smiled… he fucking smiled! Christ, Dad… it tripped me over, and I feel like shit for it.” Pausing to gather my emotions that were threatening to take over, I was only holding back tears of frustration and disappointment by single threads. “I haven’t stopped apologizing like every 10 minutes for the last 24hrs, but wow, I was out there somewhere.

“What did he say, do, at this display of such adult and balanced behavior?”

“Pretty much nothing, Dad. He was silent. His face was emotionless. Shit, Dad, I have no excuse for it – I was a total ass.”

“Although after about a minute – it felt like hours – he reminded me that those are trunks I was waving around still, like some crazed idiot. They were the ones I ripped off him last night. Sorry, Dad, if that’s TMI.”

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