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Fields of Fire

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Stephen Trudeaux and Darcella Coleman are a newly engaged couple, working in professions dedicated to saving lives. He's a firefighter and she's a registered nurse.

After witnessing the accolades and admiration bestowed upon Stephen for his bravery after a major local fire, Darcella registers for fire-jumping training. It's an incredibly dangerous occupation requiring her to jump out of planes to fight raging infernos. Stephen is upset about her career choice. They were eager to...

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Overview

Stephen Trudeaux and Darcella Coleman are a newly engaged couple, working in professions dedicated to saving lives. He's a firefighter and she's a registered nurse.

After witnessing the accolades and admiration bestowed upon Stephen for his bravery after a major local fire, Darcella registers for fire-jumping training. It's an incredibly dangerous occupation requiring her to jump out of planes to fight raging infernos. Stephen is upset about her career choice. They were eager to get married, but Darcella's competitive nature has put that in jeopardy.

As the arguments mount and the resentment builds, Stephen and Darcella will be forced to take a serious look at the choices they have made. They know it will take an abundance of spiritual reflection, faith and soul-searching for their relationship to survive what could be the ultimate test.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373830275
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/27/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Fields Of Fire


By Linda Hudson-Smith

BET

Copyright © 2007 Linda Hudson-Smith
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780373830275

It appeared as if a fireball from hell had come to claim a middle-class town house community located in the southeast portion of Houston, Texas. Bright orange, red, blue and yellow flames licked ferociously at the moderately priced wood-and-brick structures. Standing ready to gobble up everything in its heated path, the nearly out-of-control fire raged on as fiery flames appeared to leapfrog in a single bound from one structure to the next.

Black, strangling smoke was as thick as the midnight hour, making visibility for the firefighters even more of a superchallenge. As the fire grew in intensity, it was getting hard for the fire crews to see their hands in front of their faces. Station 51 was in a rescue mode, at the same time praying there'd be no need to execute a recovery mission.

It had already been a major effort just for the fire crews to get inside the town house complex. The wrought-iron security gates had to be forced open by panicked residents after the remote control mechanism failed, causing a serious delay in getting the fire trucks and ambulances through.

This early summer Texas day had been hot and overbearingly muggy. The wind conditions were very bad, hardly serving as an ally to the firemen in the raging firestorm. The Southeast Houston Fire Department employees were busy evacuating residents as quicklyand as safely as possible, taking special precautions with the elderly.

This four-alarm fire was the worst Stephen Trudeaux had seen in months. As he assessed the situation, his autumn-brown eyes drank in the blazing destruction happening all around him. He expected that more firefighters and trucks might eventually be needed. There were already numerous fire vehicles in the area, but it didn't appear to be enough, not as far as Stephen was concerned. The cause of this blazing fire had yet to be determined, but that sort of investigation normally came after all the smoke cleared.

Upon hearing a woman screaming at the top of her lungs, Stephen made his way toward the piercing howls. A hand suddenly reached out of nowhere and grabbed his arm, causing him to turn around with a start. The look of sheer terror on the young African-American woman's face told him she was in deep trouble, both physically and emotionally. "What is it, ma'am?"

Looking as if she was about to collapse, Marsha Anderson fell down on her knees. "Please help me," she cried. "My two-year-old son Nathaniel and my five-year-old twin girls, Kelly and Karla, are still in the house. I couldn't get to where they were sleeping for all the smoke. I did my best, but I couldn't rescue them. They're in the very back of the place. Please save my babies, sir, please."

As Stephen looked at the burning structure Marsha was pointing out to him, his heart skipped several beats. He then immediately sent up a quiet prayer on behalf of the entire family. The mother had managed to get two of her children out with her, a boy and a girl who looked to be around seven and eight. Since the front of the place was nearly a fireball already, he couldn't imagine anyone surviving the inferno.

Marsha's gut-wrenching pleas for Stephen to save her children made him see that he had to at least give it his best shot.

Stephen began to tear up the grassy knoll as he made his way toward the town house. Fear was all over him and he couldn't shake it. Despite his fears, he knew what he had to do. He also darn well knew that he shouldn't enter that house alone, but the thought of small children being trapped inside there kept him moving forward. Stephen had taken an oath to preserve life.

These young children hadn't had a chance at living yet and Stephen wanted them to have every conceivable chance at a good life. He heard the surrounding shouts of his fellow fire-fighters, who were busy on risky assignments of their own, which further convinced him to go this alone, though the rules didn't mandate it. Everyone else's hands were already full.

Stephen's determination to try to save the kids propelled him to move on. Disobeying orders could get him into big trouble, but firefighters often went with their gut feelings despite the consequences. If he saved the children, the disobedience would be addressed, but then quickly forgotten by the powers that be. If he didn't try, he'd never know for sure. Stephen actually believed he had a good chance of saving these little children. He had to believe it.

Although he'd only been engaged less than a year, Stephen hoped to soon marry and then have children with his beautiful girl, Darcella Coleman, whom he lovingly referred to as Darcy. Lately they'd been talking a lot about starting a family right after marriage, though he'd sensed some reluctance on her part during the intimate conversations. Stephen wasn't quite sure he'd been reading Darcella correctly, so he hadn't said anything to her about his suspicions.

Darcella was a registered nurse, a darn good surgical one, and she took her important job seriously. Caring for people was something she loved to do. She had always felt that taking care of the sick was one of the most important jobs on enter the house from the front door be-intense. As he reached the backyard it hadn't yet consumed the lower rear fire in the back part of the upper sechad said the children were in the very Stephen finally entered the home through the patio, after he'd broken one of the had then reached inside to unlock the door.

Stephen made sure his face was covered before he began to make this way through the house. His tools of the trade were all intact. Finding the staircase would come first. When he saw the set of steps leading up from the kitchen, he assumed the place probably had two stairways. Slowly he inched his way up the steps. The closer he got to the top, the thicker the smoke was. His lungs had already begun to feel like they were on fire, too. As he reached the top of the landing, he got down on his belly and began to crawl toward the rooms in the back. Tamping down his fears, Stephen quickly maneuvered his way down the seemingly endless hallway.

What Stephen heard when he got to the very back of the house set off all his internal alarms. The anguished cries of a baby were very distinct. The little one was alive. He thanked God as he continued to inch his way to the door where he'd heard the cries coming from. Fear gripped him hard. He didn't know what to expect once he opened the door. The doorknob wasn't hot to the touch, which more than likely meant that the fire hadn't reached this room. What he feared was a back draft. What might happen when he opened the door had him very concerned.

Before turning the knob Stephen sent up another anxious supplication. Just as he entered the room, he looked behind him and saw that the flames had now reached the upper floor. After making a mad dash to the crib, he scooped up into his arms the wailing infant. Now that he had the child safely in his arms, he had to figure out a way to get him out of the house and into the safety of his mother's loving arms. The tension inside of him was mounting rapidly.

Stephen carefully tucked the baby under his thickly padded jacket as he made his way to the staircase he'd just come up. He was prepared to save these three children at all costs, hoping the twins hadn't fallen to harm's way. he'd look for them next.

Stephen had a gut feeling that the other stairwell had already been compromised. Then he heard rather than saw what sounded like a portion of the structure collapsing. They were probably trapped, he surmised. The only way out for them might be from one of the windows in the bedroom he'd just come from. After quickly retracing his steps, Stephen once again entered the room. In order to open the window, he had to lie the child back down in his crib. He then left the room in haste to go in search of the other children. It was now or never. Time was precious.

As Stephen stood at the door of the next bedroom, he used the same prayer as he'd done before entering the other room. Just as he opened the door, black smoke began to pour out, nearly overtaking him. He then felt the intense heat of the fire, which caused him to back away from the door rather quickly. Knowing there was no way for him to enter that room, deep regret filled him to the brim. If the twins were inside that room, he feared it was already over for them. However, once he got the baby to safety, he planned to come back and make a recovery attempt.

Seconds later Stephen stood at the window of the first bedroom, holding up the baby in front of the glass in hopes of someone below seeing him standing there. Time was running out on them. His screams couldn't be heard above all the other loud noises. Stephen thanked God with heartfelt emotion the moment they were spotted. He watched intently as his team went into action, providing a ladder for him to climb down from.

Little Nathaniel hadn't made a sound since moments after he'd first scooped him up again, which concerned Stephen a lot. He was also beginning to feel nauseated and very dizzy. As Stephen looked back, he saw plumes of smoke starting to creep under the bedroom door.

The climb down was taken with every precaution known to Stephen. His biggest concern now was falling off the ladder. The spinning inside his head had him seeing double. Careful, he told himself quietly. you're almost at the bottom, champ. Marsha is awaiting baby Nathaniel. Then you have to go back in for the other children. Darcella and Stephanie will be waiting at home for you. You can do this, God willing. You can't give up now.

Loud cheering and yelling broke out as Stephen slowly managed the last rung of the ladder. Then he heard a female crying out the baby's name over and over again. Then she began screaming the names of her twins, causing Stephen to rush back toward the ladder. After telling the fire crew that the other two children were still trapped inside and that he needed help to get them out, he started back up the ladder, only to be pulled away by his comrades. As he looked upward, he saw that the rooms he'd just escaped from were now fully engulfed in flames.

"There's no way we can get back in there, Trudeaux. It's over," his comrade told him. "The fire is too intense to make another attempt. This one is now a recovery mission."

Stephen looked horrified, deep regret and blinding tears awash in his eyes. He suddenly felt like a total failure. He had failed to save two small lives, had failed miserably. "It can't be," he cried, yet knowing it was over and done with. It wasn't humanly possible for anyone to be alive inside that fire-and-smoke-consumed hellhole. The twins were now with God.

Right after Stephen first handed Nathaniel to Marsha, his head had begun to spin around and around. Now, his eyes rolling to the back of his head, nausea was busy taking his stomach hostage. As Stephen hit the ground hard, he heard several of his comrades shout out for immediate medical assistance. Then darkness rushed in and instantly claimed him.



Continues...


Excerpted from Fields Of Fire by Linda Hudson-Smith Copyright © 2007 by Linda Hudson-Smith. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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