“You could drive a little faster, you know.”
Zoe Chambers shot a look at her partner in Medic Two’s passenger seat. “You’re the one who insisted I take the wheel.”
Earl focused on his cell phone. “The Islanders tied it up. If we’re not careful we’re gonna lose this game.”
We were the Pittsburgh Penguins in a battle to keep their play-off hopes alive. Earl had been grumbling all evening about being stuck on fire standby duty instead of perched in front of the TV. Zoe, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about hockey. With the blaze well under control, the fire chief released them, and Earl insisted Zoe drive so he could keep tabs on the score.
With an exasperated growl, Earl pocked the phone. “That’s it. I’m not watching any more.”
Zoe knew better, but kept her mouth shut.
“Seriously, though. You really could drive faster.”
“I’ll pull over and trade you seats,” she told him.
“No. No. That’s all right.”
The trip back to the garage took them along a winding secondary road through stretches of woods punctuated by clusters of decades old houses. Daffodils and forsythia bloomed vivid yellow in a few of the yards. Early spring in Pennsylvania.
The road ahead of them climbed a slight grade, guardrails and a drop on the right, a steep bank on the other side. At the top, a blind curve swept sharply to the left. In spite of Earl’s nagging, she slowed as they neared the bend.
He drummed his fingers on his door’s armrest. “You drive like a little old lady.”
“And you drive like a—”
A car screeched around the turn at the top of the hill. Momentum carried it into their lane, skidding toward them.
Zoe veered hard to the right. She didn’t look at the car careening toward her. Instead she watched the guardrail. And the steep drop beyond. She maneuvered as close to the rail as possible. Stood on the brake with both feet. Tires squealed. The ambulance’s? The car’s? Or both? She didn’t know. Didn’t care. There was nowhere else to go. Nothing more to do.
She closed her eyes and waited for the impact, praying it wouldn’t shove them through the barrier and over the hillside.
The anticipated crash didn’t happen.
She risked opening her eyes. In front of them…nothing. She checked the rearview mirror. The car tumbled, rolled, bounced down the road behind them. As she watched, it came to a stop. On its roof.
Earl reached through the narrow door to the patient compartment to grab the jump kit. He shoved it in Zoe’s lap. “Go,” he ordered. “I’ll turn the rig around and call it in.”
She dove from the ambulance and pounded down the road toward the car sitting up-side-down and crossways.
The driver hung from his shoulder harness, his neck cricked a bit, and his head against the slightly mashed roof. He blinked as she dropped to knees next to his shattered window. “Wow,” he said, his words mushy. “What happened?”
“You’ve been in an accident.” She asked him his name and learned it was Jim.
“Can you tell me if you have pain anywhere, Jim?”
“I don’t think so.” He turned his head as if searching for something.
Probably no neck injury, but she asked him about it anyway.
“My neck’s fine,” he slurred. “I dropped my bottle. Do you see it anywhere?”
The distinct scent of beer wafted from the car. “Sorry. I don’t.” She pulled a penlight from her pocket. “Do you mind if I look in your eyes?”
He squinted at her. “What for?”
Rather than launch into a medical explanation about head trauma, she said, “I want to make sure you didn’t get any glass in them.”
“My eyes are fine. Get me outta here. And find my bottle.”
She reached through the window and caught his wrist, a move she’d perfected. The patient thought she was comforting them. And she was. But she was also checking the pulse. It worked every time.
“Don’t touch me,” he yelped.
The next thing Zoe knew, she was sitting on her backside next to the window, blood spurting from her nose.
Earl appeared at her side. “What happened?” When she looked up at him, he winced. “Oh.”
An hour later, Zoe sat on the bumper of Medic Two, holding gauze and a chemical icepack against her throbbing nose.
The fire department had responded along with the police and a second ambulance and crew, who transported the DUI patient. Remarkably he’d only sustained a few minor scrapes.
Earl ambled over to her and gingerly moved the icepack and the sterile gauze pads from her face. “I don’t think it’s broken. But I should take you to the ER just in case.”
“No way.” She snatched the icepack from him. “We need to get back so you can watch the Penguins game.”
“Too late. It’s over. We won.” He grinned at her. “And you, my friend, look like you stopped a puck.”
“Wonderful,” she sighed.
With A Vengeance is the fourth book in the Zoe Chambers mystery series, published by Henery Press, May 2016.
Paramedic Zoe Chambers and the rest of rural Monongahela County’s EMS and fire personnel are used to wading into the middle of trouble to rescue the sick and the injured. But when someone with an ax to grind seeks retribution by staging accident scenes and gunning down the first responders, Zoe finds herself forced to not only treat her own brethren of the front lines, but also, in her role as deputy coroner, seek out whoever is killing her friends.
At the same time, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams races to track down a gun, a mysterious all-terrain vehicle, and the sniper before Zoe goes back on duty, placing herself-and Pete-firmly in the gunman’s crosshairs.
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About the author
Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. Circle Of Influence, published by Henery Press, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. Bridges Burned was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel of 2015. With A Vengeance, the fourth in the series, is available now. Connect with Annette at annettedashofy.com.
Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of With A Vengeance. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end May 13, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!
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