Excerpt for Role Model by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Role Model

By Becky Black


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2018 Becky Black

ISBN 9781634865609

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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Role Model

By Becky Black

For most people, a phone call at three in the morning would be something to dread.

Not for Paul Bradley.

He picked up the mobile ringing by his bed.

“Get your arse up to the moor road, six miles north of Leyton,” his editor, Henderson, said. “Got a tip from our tame copper.”

“On my way.” Paul yanked out the charging cord, grabbed a pair of jeans from the dirty laundry basket, and found a clean T-shirt. Phone. Bag. Car keys. Jacket. He left the house five minutes after waking up.

In the inky night, the lights on the moor road were visible for miles. They were powerful arc lights used by Fire and Rescue. The road ahead was blocked and taped off. Paul counted two fire engines, five police cars, and two ambulances. The air ambulance helicopter waited in a field.

He saw the focus of all the activity when he got out of his car. A truck, on its side, half on and half off the road and into the ditch. Police and fire officers swarmed it. But Paul doubted Henderson had sent him here for a mere road accident. Something else was going on.

“Sorry, mate, going to be closed off for hours,” the copper at the police tape said. “If you go back and take the turn—” He stopped when Paul held up his Press pass. “Christ, can you lot smell the blood?”

“Can I get any closer?”

“No, you sodding can’t. Stay there.”

“Hey, don’t worry,” another voice came. “I’ll fettle him.” Ed Muir, Henderson’s “tame” copper.

“Good. I want a brew.” The first officer left Ed to it.

“What’s happening?” Paul asked, ducking under the police tape. “Is the driver trapped?” Dead of night rescue. Driver cut from cab. Not bad.

“Truck driver’s dead,” Ed said. “You can’t see it from here, but there’s a car underneath that mess, in the ditch. The truck’s resting on it.”

“Who’s in the car?”

“The driver, dead, and a kid. Alive.”

Much better. Kids always made a better story. “Boy or girl? What age?” He had tablet and stylus poised.

“Girl, aged six. That’s not all. A paramedic crawled in to help the kid, but the girl’s trapped, and he won’t come out until they get her free.”

Paul stared at the activity around the truck. Men worked fast to fix supports to stop the truck sliding further into the ditch and crushing the car. Someone had willingly crawled in there? There’s the story.

“Got a name for the paramedic? Age?”

“Andrew McGregor. Don’t know his age.”

“Who the hell let him crawl in there?”

“Sorry, that’s all I know about it.”

Ed’s sergeant called to him, and he rushed off. Paul lurked by an ambulance, writing up what he had so far. He’d perfected his lurking skills in his six years as a journalist. He didn’t want to draw attention and get tossed back out behind the tape. On a scene like this, most people were too busy to pay him any attention, but there was always a chance a copper with nothing to do besides stand at the tape and redirect any cars trying to pass might decide to occupy his time by tossing out a journalist.

After about twenty minutes of lurking and freezing his arse off, a shout went up from the truck.

“She’s free!” A cheer, then a moment of quiet, broken by a child’s cry, thin and muffled by the tons of metal bearing down over her head.

Paul’s mouth dried. He pulled out his camera. Those damn arc lights would give him lens flares, but there was a shot coming he had to get. The shot he’d wanted since the second Ed told him about the paramedic. Getting the kid coming out would be great, too, but the paramedic was the story. The roar of the helicopter starting its engine drowned most other noise, but Paul heard someone shout.

“They’re coming out!”

It was better than he could have hoped. Andrew McGregor came out carrying the kid. She was wrapped around him, holding on tight. A white plastic collar protected her neck. As he crawled out of the opening, another paramedic and a fire officer helped him to stand. He straightened up, the girl still in his arms.

Paul had started snapping pictures the moment the guy’s head poked out. McGregor was a handsome young guy in his twenties. The breeze ruffled his thick blonde hair as he blinked into the bright lights a bit dazedly. He looked like Captain bloody America. The perfect hero.

And Paul was going to put him on the front page of every news website and national paper in the country.

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Things calmed down a bit after the air ambulance left with the child. The air of urgency vanished. Paul awaited his chance, lurking again, and took it when everyone finally left Andrew McGregor alone, sitting on the tailgate of an ambulance, drinking a mug of tea, a red blanket around his shoulders. Paul sidled—another useful skill—up to him.

“Mr. McGregor, Paul Bradley.” He flashed his pass. “Can I have a couple of minutes of your time?”

“Um, okay.”

“Can I ask how you came to crawl inside?”

“Me and my partner were first on scene. We were coming back from doing a transfer into Manchester,” he said. “Found them like this.”

“And you crawled in despite the danger to save the girl.”

McGregor grimaced. “Believe me, I didn’t intend to stay there for hours. But she was trapped, and, well…she asked me to stay with her.”

“Begged you to stay?” Begged was a better word.

“I suppose.”

Paul noted it down. “What’s her name?”

“Lily Winslow.”

“And she’s six?” He’d know. That always came up in conversation with a kid. Though maybe not when the kid was trapped alongside the dead body of her father and might be crushed to death any second.

“Yes.”

“Can I ask your age?”

“Why do you want that?”

“For the paper. We always like to have the age.”

“I’m twenty-four. Why do you guys always want people’s ages to put in the newspaper? What’s that about?”

“Traditional. Maybe it’s to annoy women. They never like it when I ask.”

McGregor smiled weakly. He looked shattered.

“This your ambulance?” Paul asked.

“Yeah. Don’t think I’ll be driving it home, though.” He nodded at someone approaching. “She will.” A fortyish black woman in paramedic greens seared Paul’s hide with a scowl.

“Who’s this?” she demanded.

“Just a reporter,” McGregor said as Paul showed her his Press pass.

“Bugger off and leave him alone. Lad’s exhausted.”

“Are you his partner?” Paul asked. “Can I get your name?”

“No, sod off.”

“Nerys,” McGregor said, “It’s okay.” The name badge on her uniform read N. Jones. That gave Paul all he needed. He didn’t ask her age, as he preferred to keep his balls in the usual place.

“Come on,” Nerys said to McGregor. “You’re going to the hospital to be checked over.”

“Not in Manchester?” McGregor said.

“No. That’s where Lily’s gone. But you’re coming back to our hospital.”

“Good.” He stood and let her take his arm to guide him to the other waiting ambulance.

The story was splitting up. It could be worth following the girl. But McGregor was the story. Paul didn’t head to Manchester. He headed home—to the local hospital.

Paul got there before the ambulance with McGregor in it and watched him get down and walk into A&E under his own steam. Paul knew he had no chance of getting close to him in there. He’d tried to get past the reception desk before, to no avail. He’d have to wait.

Since he’d parked close enough to pick up the staff Wi-Fi from the hospital and—ahem—happened to know the password, he filed the story as he had it so far, along with the pictures. Minutes later an e-mail arrived from the night shift news desk.

Running it now. Got it on the wire to the nationals. Good pics.

Right. He headed into the A&E waiting room, used the toilet, and raided the vending machines for coffee and snacks, then went off to lurk more, near the staff entrance. He waited there about two hours, trying not to look like a pervert out to pounce on the nurses coming out.

At last, as dawn was breaking and Paul was about to give up and go home, McGregor emerged.

“Mr. McGregor.”

McGregor stopped, startled. “You again? How’d you know I was here?”

“They don’t call me an investigative reporter for nothing.”

“Did you want something? I’m going home.”

“Where is home? Ah, roughly, the district. For the newspaper.”

“Is everything you do for the newspaper?”

“Pretty much.” Or how about Yes. One hundred percent of everything was for the story.

“Maryside,” McGregor said. “Why are you so interested?”

“You do realize what you did tonight, right?”

“Um, my job?” McGregor started to walk towards the staff car park. Paul followed.

“You know you went beyond the call of duty.”

“And my boss doesn’t know whether to sack me or promote me because of it.”

“He threatened to sack you?” That’s gold.

“She. And no. But she should have.”

“You’re a hero, Mr. McGregor.”

“I was in the right place at the right time. Anyone would have done the same.” He pointed his key fob at a car.

“They wouldn’t,” Paul said. But he liked the modesty. Everyone liked a modest hero. And maybe McGregor denied the heroism because he wasn’t ready to face how close he’d been to death tonight.

“It’s nice you’re taking such an interest,” McGregor said, “but I have to go home. I need sleep.”

“Okay. Let me give you my card. It’s got my e-mail address. Please tell me what you think of the story and the picture. It’s up on the paper’s website now, and I think it will go national.”

“But you work for the local paper, right?” McGregor said, putting the card in his pocket.

“The Chronicle, yes.” Paul tried not to grit his teeth when he said it. Yeah, the local rag. But every day he was looking for his ticket out. As Paul watched the car drive away, he had to wonder if Andrew McGregor might not be that ticket.

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