Love for the Unloved - 2010 Contest Entry
Title: Your Ambulance, My Rescue
Your pen name(s): HammondGirl
Featured 'B-list' Character(s): Amber ~ the waitress at La Bella Italia
If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this contest visit the Love for the Unloved 2010 C2 Community:

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight – I just like to play around with it sometimes.

Everyone needs a hobby…

Next week's schedule was finally beginning to come together, but I still needed to work out a few details. "Well, if I can get Sarah to cover for Linda on Tuesday afternoon, everyone should be happy with their hours," I said as I wrote in my own name for the following Friday and Saturday night's shifts.

Brian, my boss, nodded in approval before tacking the completed schedule up onto the bulletin board. "Sounds good to me, but hey, what do I know, right? I'm just the manager! If I want to know when someone can or can't work, I come to you – just like everyone else does," he said, his mouth twisting up into a smirk.

"Hey, you can't blame me for paying attention to the goings-on of your restaurant – or its staff," I replied, matching his sarcasm with a healthy dose of my own.

"Ha, ha – very funny," he retorted. "Seriously though, thanks for helping me out lately, kid."

"Eh, no problem. Just remember my five-dollars an hour raise this check, okay?" I said, teasing him.

"Was it only five?" he said with a raised brow. Before I could continue goading him – something I thoroughly enjoyed doing – Johnny, one of the short-order cooks, popped his head around the corner and asked if Brian could come take a look at one of the stoves. "Sure," Brian replied. Then he turned back to me, raised his chin and said, "Thanks again, Amber." I returned his curt nod and added a small smile. He returned it before ducking out into the hall that led to the kitchen.

When I stood up, my back immediately protested the change in position. I couldn't really blame it, though; I'd been hunched over Brian's desk working for the better part of a half hour. Twisting my upper body to the right caused my spine to pop and crack, and I couldn't help but sigh in relief. But when my gaze landed upon a small group of black guest-check folders stacked neatly on the shelf running the length of the back wall, I froze.

I still don't know what I had been thinking a few nights ago.

Last Tuesday, Collette, the hostess, had all but pushed me into the kitchen to tell me that she had just seated the "hottest guy on the planet" in my section after he'd tipped her fifty dollars to do so.

Naturally, I'd been nervous, yet curious to approach him, but I still couldn't explain what had come over me when I'd caught sight of the couple seated in one of the back booths. For some reason or another, I'd acted like a complete spaz during their entire meal, practically drooling all over the poor guy and shamelessly flirting with him; all of my questions and requests to serve him were dripping with innuendo.

As if that hadn't been bad enough, I'd spied on him from below the partition dividing my section from the larger dining room. There was no excuse for my behavior, but I had literally been unable to stop staring at the guy, and my infatuation had grown exponentially as I'd watched him hand his leather coat to his date when she'd gotten cold.

But thinking about all of those things didn't hold a candle to the shame I felt about what I'd done next. It hadn't mattered that he was obviously not interested, or that he had barely taken his eyes off of his date the entire time. Oh, no. Nothing could have stopped me from foolishly slipping a small card with my name and phone number underneath the receipt I'd placed in the black bill folder. Thankfully, he'd refused the folder altogether, stealthily slipping a fifty dollar bill inside before handing it back to me at once.

Of course, it had been impossible to get him out of my head all week, and each and every time I'd handed one of those black folders to a customer at the end of their meal, I'd flushed with embarrassment.

The more I thought about that night, though, the more I realized that even though I'd been attracted to him, I was infinitely more drawn to how he'd acted toward his girl – like he only had eyes for her. It was the little things, like how he'd made sure that she was well attended to during her meal, politely thanking me but never removing his eyes from her face; as though he was memorizing every detail. Come to think of it, she'd looked at him the same way, as though she couldn't get enough of him, either.

And the further I contemplated it, the more I was convinced that I'd played witness to their first date – the very beginning of their story. And that was the best part, wasn't it?

A blast of chilled air blew through the office and I brought my hands up to rub some warmth into my arms then sighed. As I walked out into the hall, Brian came around the corner leading toward the kitchen with a smile on his face. "Guess what, smarty-pants?" he asked, his boyish grin growing larger. "I know something you don't for once. Sarah just called and said that she needs Thursday off. Even though it's your usual night off, do you think you can cover for her?"

"Sure," I answered, internally tacking on: It's not like I had any plans that night – or any night for that matter… "I'll just go fix the schedule," I added.

"Don't worry about it," Brian replied, walking past me. "I've got it. Besides, I have to get Sunday's order form started. I'll be in my office for the rest of the night."

"Alright," I said. "Well, I'd better go relieve Linda. She's been covering my section while I've been back here."

Brian nodded before he disappeared into his office for the evening. I knew from past experience how detailed Sunday's orders typically were, and even though it was only Friday night, he'd probably be busy all weekend with it.

With a quick glance down at my watch, I saw that it was 10:40 pm, twenty minutes till closing time. Out in the dining area, I was pleased to see that the few people still seated were finishing up their meals. Linda was standing at the computer station near my section, printing out a customer's ticket. "Thanks for covering for me," I said as I approached her. "Anyone back there?" I asked, nodding toward the dividing wall.

"Grant," she answered, a shy smile forming on her lips. I smiled as well, then poured myself a cup of coffee and started making a cappuccino for him.

Grant Carson was a local EMT who came in nearly every Friday and Saturday night at around 10:30. Depending on what kind of a day he'd had, Grant would either order our famous tiramisu or a slice of our equally renowned cheesecake, but he would have at least two cappuccinos without fail. So, just like I knew that he'd be ready for the frothy espresso concoction I was holding in one hand, I knew that he'd be sitting at his usual table just around the corner.

A few months ago, I'd joined him during his second cup with a mug of coffee of my own. The first night I'd sat with him, I'd asked Grant where his usual companion, his partner Joe, had run off to. He'd explained that Joe and his wife were expecting their first baby, and how Joe wanted to be at home with her as much as possible, so he left as soon as his shift was over. We began an easy friendship that very night, talking about a vast array of things ranging from the weather to what kind of books and movies we both enjoyed.

After I'd admitted my fascination with the forties and the feminist movement during World War II, he'd brought me a poster of Rosie the Riveter with her famous "We Can Do It" logo printed on it the very next night. When Grant told me of his interest in the celebrity scene from the sixties, I scoured the local tourist and memorabilia shops until I'd found an old black and white still of Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin standing in front of the Sand's casino, their names emblazoned upon the marquee behind them.

Grant looked up from his newspaper as I came around the corner. "How did you know it was time for a refill?" he asked, eyeing my hands.

Setting both cups down, I took the seat opposite him and smiled. "Because I'm the best waitress in the world – naturally."

"Naturally," he said, lifting his cup up to the smirk on his lips. "So, how was your week?" he asked after he'd taken a small sip.

"Well, something interesting did happen on Tuesday," I began. Choosing to omit that I'd humiliated myself that night, I began to tell him the story of the rowdy group of men that had come in a few hours before the couple that had been at the forefront of my mind all week. I went on to say that the four guys polished off a pizza and around seven to eight beers a piece in record time. "It was when they started playing Frisbee with the pizza tin and tossing the pepper flakes and salt around that Brian kicked them out. It took an hour to clean up their mess," I said.

"I'm glad Brian kicked them out before anything worse happened," Grant said, offering me a large bite of his tiramisu.

I agreed, and as I happily ate from his fork, I couldn't help but think about how much I enjoyed his company and how easy it was to sit and talk to him. There was one thing that Grant did that aggravated me, though. Unlike the four pennies that the unruly men had left for a tip – one for each of them, I supposed – Grant always left way too much money. I'd argued with him about it before, but the last time I'd objected, he had doubled the amount the very next night, so I learned to keep my mouth shut – around his fork.

For some reason, I thought about how his lips were the last thing to touch where mine currently resided, and I blushed furiously before handing his fork back to him. Grant just smiled as he reached out to retrieve it, flashing his perfectly straight, white teeth, his eyes crinkling around the corners.

Hiding my heated cheeks behind my mug of coffee, I let my eyes swept over him. Grant had on his usual uniform, a long-sleeved navy blue polo shirt. There was a patch on his left shoulder that read "Port Angeles Emergency Medical Services," but my eyes lingered on the simple script written along the left side of his chest: Grant Carson – Paramedic. The blue star of life, a six-pointed star centered on a rod with a serpent wrapped around it, was embroidered just below his name.

After a small taste of my coffee, I lowered my mug to the table. "Well, that's about all that's happened around here. What about you?" I asked. "Any exciting life-saving rescues lately?"

"Not really," he answered. "I suppose the last 'exciting' thing that's happened was over in Forks, but that was back toward the end of January. Some kid hit a patch of ice in the parking lot of Forks High and nearly plowed into the police chief's daughter and the son of one of the doctors at Forks Community Hospital."

"Wow," I remarked. "Was anyone seriously hurt?"

"That's the funny part," Grant said. "The van was practically totaled, but all of the kids were fine. One of them had a bump on the head, and the driver had a few minor scrapes and cuts, but other than that, they were all okay."

"You said this happened in Forks?" I asked, and Grant nodded in answer. "I didn't realize that you guys responded all the way out there. I suppose it is in Clallam County, though."

"Well, Forks does reside within Clallam County, but Port Angeles Emergency doesn't respond all the way out there," he answered. When I raised my brow in question, he continued, "I only work in Port Angeles on the weekends. During the week, I work for the city of Forks' Emergency Response Department."

"You only work here on the weekends?" I asked, incredulous. When he nodded once again, I said, "But Forks is like an hour's drive down the one-oh-one from here. And it's already late," I exclaimed.

"Why do you think I come in for a couple of cappuccinos every Friday and Saturday night, Amber?" Grant said as his smirk from earlier slowly reappeared. He glanced down at his watch and said, "Looks like it's time to make that drive."

Grant stood and I immediately followed, stacking his plate and cups on the table as he retrieved his wallet. "Arrivederci," he said, smiling.

He'd started the silly little tradition of saying goodbye in Italian a few weeks ago, and I couldn't help but play along. "Buona Sera," I answered.

With his plate and our cups in hand, I turned and walked back to the kitchen with a silly smile on my face. Because I was in such a good mood, I asked the dishwasher if he needed a hand when I deposited my load. He refused my help, though, so I grabbed a bottle of disinfectant and wiped down my section, making sure that everything was clean for tomorrow's lunch rush. When I got to Grant's table, I found a small button with Rosie the Riveter on it along with his tip – which was decidedly too much. But there was really no point in arguing with him. I'd just have to take his tip and buy him another piece of rat-pack memorabilia. It would be fun to surprise him.

I finished cleaning with a smile on my face and clocked out, making sure to tell Brian not to stay too late, and to try and have a good night. He gave me a halfhearted smile before delving back into the order form, so I made my way to the employee's store room to retrieve my purse and the mammoth coat I'd been forced to wear this afternoon because of the weather.

That's when my smile fell. I'd had to get a ride with Collette this afternoon; a horrible ice storm had come through Port Angeles last night, causing the doors to my rusted-out POS Corsica to weld shut. Whenever they did – and they had been quite often this winter – there was simply nothing I could do to pry them open. I'd just have to wait for them to thaw out on their own. Considering it was March, you'd think that meant warmer temperatures for them to do so, but no – we'd had the strangest influx of cold fronts lately. At least Collette never minded giving me a ride, but the problem was, she'd had to leave early tonight.

The other problem was, because my winter coat was so large, I'd been unable to buckle my seatbelt this afternoon, so I'd tossed it into the backseat of Collette's car… where it still was. So, I had no ride, and no coat. I knew that I could always ask Brian to give me a ride, but I'd feel terrible if I interrupted him, so with a deep breath, I pushed open the back door and found that it had snowed. There were at least three inches of the fluffy white stuff covering every available surface – including the hood of Grant's ambulance.

I couldn't believe my eyes, but there he was, sitting in the driver's seat, rubbing his hands together over the steering wheel, breathing into his palms to warm them up. My hands were currently wrapped around my arms, desperately trying to shield them from the frigid temperature. When Grant looked up and saw me standing in front of the back door, he immediately stepped out of his rig and walked over. "Where's your coat?" he asked with a frown.

"I accidently left it in the backseat of Collette's car," I answered.

"The Corsica's doors stuck again?" he asked.

This time, it was I who nodded in answer, shivering in the cold as I did so. Before I could protest, Grant took off his coat and wrapped it around my shoulders; the warmth from his body still lingered in its lining, immediately making me relax. As I pulled both sides closed together, I couldn't help but notice how wonderful it smelled, and how it smelled just like Grant. It was funny – I'd always simply assumed that the lingering scent of cinnamon I caught when near him was from the tiramisu, but apparently it wasn't. It emanated from him, from his body.

And speaking of his body, I thought, looking at him fully for what seemed like the first time. His cargo pants, which had two large pockets situated across either thigh, were the same deep navy blue of the polo shirt tucked into them. A thick black utility belt was wrapped around his trim waist, and his matching black combat boots contrasted deeply with the soft, white snow. My eyes slowly made their way back up to Grant's face, and I flushed when I realized that he'd just watched me ogle him.

"You weren't planning on walking home in this, were you?" he asked. A steady drift of snow fell around us, and as I watched, one perfect snowflake landed on his right cheek. I studied his face as he waited for my response, noting things like how his eyes were a light hazel, yet rimmed in a thick fringe of black lashes. His lower eyelashes were impossibly long, and dusted his rounded cheeks every time he blinked. A five o'clock shadow was beginning to show through his pale, smooth skin, and his thick mop of brown hair was spotted with snow.

I realized that I was ogling him again when I felt a snowflake land on my right eyelash. I began to reach up to brush it away at the same time Grant reached toward it, but before he touched me, I blinked and the snow fell to the ground. Though it was strange, I couldn't help but be disappointed – I would have loved to have felt his touch.

Hoping to break the awkward silence that had fallen between us, I said, "Collette had to leave early and I don't have a ride, so yes, I was going to walk home. My apartment is only a few blocks from here. I'll manage," I said, shrugging out of the warmth Grant's jacket had provided for the last few minutes.

In response, Grant smirked, making him look mischievous and sexy at the same time. "Get in," he said, draping his jacket across my shoulders once again. He walked around the hood toward the driver's side of the ambulance. When he stood in front of his door, I offered a small smile and shyly walked up to the passenger door, pulling it open. I'd never been inside an ambulance before and was a bit nervous, but as I climbed in, I was much too grateful for the warmth of the heater to bother feeling anything else.

"Are you sure you're allowed to give me a ride?" I asked once I'd settled into my seat. Though I was mainly teasing him, I didn't want Grant to get into trouble over driving me home.

"Of course," he answered, smiling at me. "Well, here, anyway." When I cocked my head in question, Grant went on to explain that back in Forks, his partner Brett Warner always drove, so he wouldn't technically be able to give me a ride. But here in Port Angeles, Joe insisted that Grant drive so that he was able to answer his phone – his wife was due any day now, and he was always ready for her call.

I couldn't help but laugh, and Grant smiled in return. I was about to tease him about not being able to drive in Forks, but his smile slid off his face and his expression turned absolutely serious. "Have you been walking to or from work often?" he asked. When I shook my head, he breathed in what sounded like a sigh of relief.

"I'm glad," he said. "They caught a serial rapist named Alonzo Calderas Wallace just a few days ago in Portland, Oregon," he explained, "but they're still looking for the men that he was associated with in Port Angeles. I don't want you walking home alone, or anywhere in town for that matter, until they've caught those men.

"Besides," he said, his smile reappearing to lighten the mood, "it's much too cold for you to walk in this snow. Are you warm enough?"

Though I was plenty warm, the way he was looking at me sent a shiver down my spine. I answered, "Yes, I'm warm enough," nonetheless.

To tear my heated gaze from Grant's face, I glanced into the rear bay of the ambulance, surprised to find out how large the area was and how every available square inch of space was being utilized to its fullest capacity. A large black gurney sat on the right side, below a defibrillator and other machines that I had no idea how to identify. Two upright black leather seats lined the left wall, and I could only guess that Joe sat in one as he worked on a patient, and that a patient's loved one was allowed to sit in the other. Multiple drawers and cabinets labeled with letters of the alphabet lined every other available surface, and I assumed that Grant probably knew what each and every one of them held.

Turning my head back to the front, I let my gaze drop to my chest, where the same embroidery found on Grant's shirt was carefully stitched into the heavy material of his coat. Drawn back to him, my eyes found his. We moved toward each other at the same time, and it suddenly felt as though we'd been moving in this direction since the moment we'd met.

When our lips met in the middle, my breathing spiked right along with my heartbeat. Grant's lips were unbelievably soft against my own. They pulled at mine slowly, parting against my lower lip and closing around it over, and over again, and I became dizzy at how easily I lost myself within his kiss. When I felt his tongue slowly slide against mine, I stopped breathing altogether.

Realizing this, Grant pulled back slightly, and my body moved itself closer to his in answer. He slid his right hand behind my neck, where he threaded his fingers through my hair and pulled me even closer to him at the same time. My hips were perched on the edge of the seat and I was trying to figure out how to close the distance between our bodies when Grant reached down below him to release a lever hidden beneath his seat. Suddenly, his chair swung around in my direction and I twisted my body to the left until our knees were touching. But I still wasn't close enough, and apparently Grant was feeling much the same.

His hands captured my waist and he lifted me easily, pulling me toward him. Now straddling his lap, I placed my legs on either side of him and eased my weight gingerly onto Grant's thighs. As soon as I was settled, he pulled my face back down to his and I clasped my hands behind his head, closing the distance between our mouths as I did so. I could feel his jaw open and close as his lips did, and this time, it was my tongue that brushed against his. The responding moan that escaped Grant's lips caused me to stroke his tongue again, and his hands slid to my waist, causing his jacket to slip from my shoulders onto the floor behind me.

I reached down until my hands found the fabric of his polo shirt and tugged at it, untucking it from his cargo pants. Grant's hands pushed my shirt up in answer, and I broke our kiss to pull it up over my head, then tossed it behind me. Before I leaned in to kiss him again, I paused to look down at his face; the look in his eyes was one of wonder and awe.

I watched as he slowly leaned forward and pressed his lips to the exposed swell of skin above my right breast and allowed my eyes to close. After gently pushing the satin cup of my bra down, Grant captured my nipple with his lips, and my head fell back in pleasure. Slowly kissing his way up my chest, he lingered on the hollow of my throat for a moment before I leaned back down to kiss him.

Wanting to feel his skin against mine, I pulled at his shirt and he ripped it free from his body so quickly that I hardly noticed the few moments his lips were apart from my own. But it no longer mattered – my lips were once again pressed against his, and my hands were busy exploring his chest. One of Grant's was diligently undoing the clasp of my bra while the other was pressed into the small of my back, pulling my body into his. The moment I felt his hardness between my thighs, my bra fell free.

Pulling my lips from his, I brought them up to Grant's ear and whispered, "I want you."

Grant pushed my chest against his, then moved my hair away from my ear. "I've always wanted you."

A shiver ran up my spine with his words, and I couldn't wait any longer. "Do you have a condom?" I asked, trailing the soft shell of his ear with my lips.

He nodded into my skin and said, "In the back."

Standing up, I took his hand in mine and led him back toward the bay of the ambulance, where I sat down on the gurney and covered my bare breasts with one arm. Grant rummaged around in a drawer for a split second then sat down beside me. Before an awkward moment could fall between us, I was back in his lap, pulling his bottom lip firmly between mine.

Grant let out a small laugh, and I couldn't help but giggle as well, but when his hands found my waist and his tongue brushed up against my lips, the air around us changed. My fingers spread through the hair at the base of his neck and my breathing quickly became labored. "Grant," I murmured against his lips. His fingers were suddenly at the button of my jeans, pulling it through the small hole.

A moment later, one of his hands was between my thighs and his fingers found the exact place I'd desperately wanted them to discover. When he pushed up inside of me, I couldn't stop myself from biting down on his lower lip, or from reaching for his belt. It was too complicated for me to undo, though. Luckily, Grant seemed aware of the problem I was having, so he brushed my fumbling fingers aside and easily freed it with one hand. But we still weren't close enough.

Placing my feet behind me, I stood up and pushed my jeans down my hips and Grant pushed down my underwear. Slipping free from them, I heard the condom package being ripped open, all the while never breaking our kiss. A part of me wondered and marveled and, if I was being honest, fretted about how fast this was all happening, but there was simply no way that I could stop myself at this point. Everything that Grant did felt too good. His skin was impossibly warm, and his kiss was like something from a fairytale – too good to be true.

This can't possibly be real, I thought to myself, but then I was on him again, and he was inside of me.

Slowly, we began to move together, and I buried my face in his neck. Grant's hand was coiled up in my long hair, once again pushing it away from my ear. "I love you, Amber."

Closing my eyes, I whispered along his skin. "I think I love you, too."