A phone rang down the hall and Tom excused himself, leaving Alex in charge. The whole table’s attention was focused on the new recruit. There was no denying that she was beautiful, with a shapely, athletic physique, golden skin and shoulder length brown hair. She captured my attention instantly, giving off the impression of a woman who knew how to handle herself. Not that I was surprised, in this line of work, it’s a crucial thing. She was already kitted out in uniform, and as she shook her fringe out of the way, her silvery grey eyes caught the light, shimmering brightly like moonstones.
“Rosie is fine.” She said casually, with a nod of her head.
“Rosie then.” Alex nodded in agreement, before turning towards the table and pointing towards Cain, “This is Leading Firefighter Cain Shaw.”
“Or Hustler to the Watch.” Cain said, standing and shaking her hand.
“Hustler hey?” Rosie asked, her brows arched in curiosity.
“Yeah, don’t play poker with him.” Sam chimed in, rising to his feet and reaching over to shake her hand.
“Firefighter Sam Tate.” Alex spoke up.
“Just Sam, and yes… I’ve heard the fireman Sam thing many times.” Sam laughed.
“I’m sure you have, it’s kind of a must, to torture your colleagues.” Rosie smiled.
“Knowledge like that will ensure that you fit in well here.” Dodger perked up moving forward with the rest of them.
I stayed towards the back of the group, struggling for a moment with my immediate levels of visual attraction to her. If I’d met her in a club, I’d be buying her a drink right about now, and that thought sat uncomfortably in my chest.
“Firefighter Harry Olsen.” Alex continued, nodding towards him.
“Dodger to this lot.” He said, taking her hand and giving his signature cheeky wink.
“As in Artful?” Rosie asked.
“That’s the one. He has his fingers in everything.” Pixie answered, making her way to the front of the welcoming committee as the others moved away. “I’m Cassandra, but Pixie to the family. I don’t think I need to explain why.” She added, gesturing to her smaller stature.
“Thank you Firefighter Lee.” Alex sighed, with half a laugh.
“You’re welcome Sub.” Pixie smiled, “Just trying to save you some time.”
I caught sight of the chuckle that Rosie tried to stifle at Pixie’s attitude, and had to suppress a grin myself, she always was a sparky one. Next up, Alex set his sights on Will, inclining his head in that direction and continuing his introductions:
“Firefighter Will Molton,” Will stepped forwards and shook her hand, giving her a warm smile before returning to his dinner. “Firefighter Caleb Jackson.”
“Just Jax. Welcome to Red Watch.” Jax said.
“And finally,” Alex rounded to me, “Firefighter Bane Knight.”
Rosie’s silver eyes landed on me properly for the first time since she entered the room. A small smile played on her lips as she stepped toward me, meeting me halfway and taking hold of my hand, shaking it firmly.
“Pleasure to meet you.” She said, her hold lingering on my hand.
“You too.” I replied, the corner of my mouth lifting a touch in a half smile.
“Just Bane? Or…?”
“Oh no, he’s got a nickname alright.” Dodger’s voice came from behind me, followed by his hand clapping against my shoulder as he pulled me to his side. “You gonna tell the lady?” He said smugly in my ear.
I rolled my eyes, noticing the smirk on Alex’s face as he looked on from by the door.
“This lot call me Rebel.” I replied with a tilt of my head and a small chuckle.
I could always trust Dodge to never keep his mouth shut. He was like an annoying, yet loveable older brother, and aside from Jax, he was the one I was closest to on the Watch. Rosie’s face lit up instantly, but I shrugged it off, going back to my seat and tucking back into my dinner.
“Why Rebel?” She asked, following us over and sitting next to Sam.
“Because they’re a bunch of drama queens.” I exclaimed lightheartedly.
“Or because he has a tendency to stick to his guns, even if it means disobeying direct orders.” Cain said, tilting his drink towards me in a knowing manner.
He had a point of course, but I wasn’t about to discuss the many times that it had happened since I’d joined.
“Why Rosie?” I asked, spinning the conversation around, just as Heidi placed a hot plate of food in front of her.
“Thank you.” She smiled at Heidi, before turning to me. “My old watch were all men, they saw their new recruit was a woman, and thought of me as the cute little sister of the family, so with a last name like Rose, it was only a matter of time before Rosie came up and it stuck.”
“Well I think it’s a damn site cuter than Pixie.” Cassandra said, rising to take her plate to the kitchen. “Such an uncreative lot here, naming me for being short.” She sniped as she returned.
“Ah, you didn’t get it because you’re just a short-ass… you got it because you’re a mischievous short-ass.” Jax teased.
“Need we remind you about the time that you put red food gel in the shower heads at Stonewell after Blue Watch pulled that prank at the christmas party?” I asked.
Pixie smirked and looked as though she was thinking back on the incident fondly whilst a few of us chuckled at the memory, and Rosie smiled with amusement.
“Nicely done.” Rosie said fondly.
“If you like that story, we have plenty more.” Pixie grinned, “We can catch you up on them at the pub after the end of shift. Welcome you to the family, properly.”
“With the large consumption of alcohol.” Dodger nodded.
“Sounds great, count me in.”
We finished eating, keeping the usual light flow of conversation and banter between us all. It was a nice injection of fresh blood with Rosie now joining us. She had a wicked sense of humour and an energetic, warm presence that made us feel like she’d been here for a long time.
By the time the shift was over, we were all in our usual mood for a damn good drink. Thankfully the pub was only a couple of minutes away. We all gathered by the appliances, waiting for the girls, when Alex walked past, heading out onto the street.
“Not coming to the pub?” I called out.
He spun around, his expression tired and deflated.
“Not tonight, I have plans already.”
I walked forwards, Sam and Dodger trailing behind me.
“Seeing Ryan?” I asked, managing a small, pained smile.
Ryan was Alex’s son. He was only two, and since Alex split up and divorced his ex wife, Cindy, a year ago, he was only able to see him on some evenings and weekends, when he wasn’t working. It had been a really rough time for him, getting past the break up of his marriage and the distance from his son. Especially as he and Cindy, clearly, still loved each other, but the job was too much for her after she had Ryan, and the risk of losing him broke them apart.
“Yeah, Cindy said I could come round for dinner, stay for a while and put him to bed.”
“You head off then, give the little man a hug from us. And say hi to Cindy.”
I clapped him on the shoulder affectionately, my heart going out to him for his predicament.
“Will do. Sorry I can’t help welcome Rosie, pass on my apologies.”
“Don’t worry about it, we got it covered.” Sam said.
“Yeah, no problem, we’ll manage to get her plastered without you, just fine.” Dodger added, “And I’ll send you the embarrassing footage, no problem.”
Alex went silent, his brows arched as he glared at Dodger. With a slight shake of his head he turned to leave, calling behind him as he got into his car:
“Sub.” I laughed, turning around and throwing an arm around his neck, pulling him to me and rolling my eyes.
“You idiot.” Sam sighed, hitting him lightly on the back as we walked forwards.
“You lot ready?” I called out to the others, doing a quick head count.
My eyes found Rosie in the crowd and widened at her appearance out of uniform. It hadn’t done her figure justice earlier. Now she wore a fitted black top with a low neckline, teasing at her cleavage, with dark blue skinny jeans and black, ankle boots. It was simple and yet sexy as hell. I didn’t even register Will’s reply as I tried to tear my eyes away from her. I couldn’t be attracted to her, I couldn’t allow myself to do that, I swore to never do that. I needed to cut it out, get my mind under control… fast.