Burning Ambition (Texas Firefighters Series) by Amy Knupp
Faith Peligni felt as if she was being thrown right into the fire her first day. And that was just how she liked it.
Everyone on duty at the San Amaro Island Fire Department had gathered across the street from the station at the city-owned training facility. Captain Joe Men-doza, whom Faith had known in passing since she was three feet tall and running around in her father's too-big standard issue helmet, was currently explaining the drill. It was a two-person relay that involved dragging a hundred-fifty-pound dummy, climbing the four-story tower while carrying a heavy coil of hose, then rappel-ling down the outside wall. Each pair would be timed, with the fastest team the winner.
There was enough trash-talk going on between some of the guys to fill the Houston city dump. Faith had been introduced to a few of them, and so far, everyone was leaving her alone. On the one hand, she was grateful for the peace, but on the other, it meant she didn't fit in. She wasn't one of the guys. Standing by herself as Cale Jackson, one of the lieutenants, demonstrated each stage of the drill, she wondered if she ever would be. Did she want to be?
Maybe. What she really wanted was their respect. To be able to walk through the department and be confident that no one still believed she wasn't here on her own merit.
"Listen up, men. And women." Captain Mendoza sought out Faith's eyes with his coffee-black ones. "Sorry, Faith. Old habits. I'm going to pair everybody up and then we'll get started. Any questions?"
No one responded, so the captain began calling off names. Instead of worrying about who she'd be partnered with, Faith walked closer to the tower to scope it out, looking for any pitfalls, since she wasn't familiar with it.
"Peligni, you're with me," the captain said, finishing up his list.
Faith didn't glance at him, afraid she'd betray her annoyance. Was he putting her with him so he could "hel