tagNovels and NovellasWinter Fires Ch. 07

Winter Fires Ch. 07


Chapter 7

"You really ought to try it, you know, Cari," Marianne told her sister.

"Oh, I couldn't!"

"Of course you could! I did!"

Caroline turned to her mother, pleading, "Mum, you know. I can't model in front of a camera!"

But Tina didn't agree. "Whyever not, Caroline? You can't say you haven't the looks, after all!"

"Well, no, but…"

"No 'buts' young lady! This is that self-esteem thing we were talking about! Your sister has made a really good suggestion, it seems to me. Why not give it a go?"

"Awww, Mum!"

But Tina looked sternly at her daughter. "Can you give me a real reason why you can't but your sister can?" she asked her in a firm voice.

"No," Caroline answered her in a small voice after a minute of looking down at her hands. "But I know I won't be any good."

Tina's expression softened, and she told her daughter, "Of course you will be, Caroline. Your sister will be there to help you, won't you Marianne?"

"Of course! This is going to be so cool!" Marianne enthused.

Caroline made one last try.

"He'll probably not want to have me along anyway," she said, in a final attempt at rebellion.

"Are you kidding!?" her sister said, astonished. "Twins that look like us? He'll be foaming at the mouth!"

Indeed, it was only two evenings later that Marianne and Caroline were both getting out of a taxi at CAT studio. At Caroline's insistence Simon was going with them.

Once more Marianne was greeted by Linda, but this time the two girls got the common reaction that they'd had so many times before. Linda

looked from one to the other several times, and finally laughed, "Okay, which of you is Marianne?"

"That'd be me!" Marianne said through a wide smile, "Linda, this is my sister Caroline, and Cari, this is Chris' mum, Linda."

"Lovely to meet you," Caroline said politely.

"And this is my boyfriend Simon. He's a fireman!" Marianne told the older woman, who gushed a little and shook his hand. Simon smiled and told her, "I'm here to make sure no big bad photographer assaults my girlfriend's sister!" which drew a hearty laugh from Linda.

Linda smiled and hugged Caroline before saying, "Come on then girls, Simon, Chris is downstairs in the studio."

Marianne and Tina had taken particular trouble with Caroline's makeup that afternoon after she'd come home from work. They'd wanted to do the best they could to boost her self-confidence, and it had worked to an extent. But now Caroline was feeling increasingly uneasy. Unlike her outgoing sister Caroline hated having her photo taken. She always had. Their parents had always insisted on taking photographs of the twins together, but wherever possible Caroline had scurried away as soon as was polite.

Marianne, on the other hand, was in her element. She ran up to Chris and planted a big kiss on his cheek before turning back to her sister and introducing her to the short, skinny photographer.

"And this is Simon, Chris," she told him, pulling her boyfriend forward. The two men shook hands.

"This is likely to be a bit boring for you I'm afraid, Simon," Chris told him, "but there's plenty of tea in the caddy if you want to make some."

Simon grinned. "Okay, I'll be the tea-boy, then!" and went off to make them all something hot to drink.

Marianne stood close by Chris, looking at some of the prints he was sorting through. Caroline was bouncing from one foot to the other.

Chris, noting Caroline's nervousness, changed his mind about what sort of photos to take instantly. Instead of a shoot involving skimpy bikinis against a blue-sky-and-clouds background he decided to do some simple portrait work first, to include both girls.

As the first pictures were taken, Caroline began to thaw a little. Chris then took some of her on her own.

Eventually he'd managed to shoot two rolls of film, some of Caroline solo, some of the two sisters together. The whole time Caroline had been supported, not just by her sister, but by Simon and (to Caroline's surprise) by Linda as well.

By the time they left the studio Caroline had decided that although she wasn't sure she wanted to be a model, it wasn't such a nerve-wracking experience as she'd feared it would be. She'd even agreed to work with Marianne on a shoot early next week. While she'd been surprised at the offer of fifty pounds for that, she'd noted Marianne's calm acceptance of the offer and, caught up in the spirit of the moment had agreed.

"It's just some bikini work, Caroline, and some summer tops. I promise there'll be nothing too revealing, and it'll be a nice, quick, simple job. A great way to earn a little holiday money, if you like," Chris had told her.

The other news was that Chris would be going to Knebworth as well, in an official capacity. He was on a job for a magazine, tasked with getting shots of the stage and the crowd. "Pearl will be going with me," he told Simon, confiding in him, man to man. "Never hurts to put a beautiful woman into the shot when you have to do stuff like that. But mainly it's going to be a great excuse for me to go and watch the 'Floyd. Hopefully I'll be able to get into a good party, too."

- - - - - - - - - -

After the summerwear shoot a few days later Chris pulled Marianne to one side.

"No offence, but I doubt if I'll be able to use Caroline a lot. She just doesn't have 'it' in front of the camera. You do."

"Are you sure?" Marianne protested, but in truth she'd already seen it. Try as she might Caroline just couldn't give of herself in front of the camera.

Marianne sighed, but she knew Chris was right. "Oh well, it's been good for her anyway," she told him. "She's a lot more confident about herself already. Maybe she'll improve as she relaxes more?"

"Possibly -- but I doubt she'll ever become a natural," he told her.

- - - - - - - - - -

That night Simon and John were relaxing at the station when the alarm went off. Quickly they responded, Simon quickly getting the large appliance moving while John received instructions via the radio.

"House fire, St. Helena's Park Road. People trapped!" he told the crew. They would be the second appliance to respond -- one was already on the way, and John's crew would be under the orders of the Station Officer there.

Although it was a dry night there was a lot of cloud around, the extra darkness adding to Simon's sense of foreboding as he manoeuvred the large vehicle along the narrow road. He caught sight of a burning building up ahead, but he had to concentrate to send the appliance between the cars parked on either side, as quickly as possible. Simon managed to get past without damaging anything and hurriedly drew up outside the front of the burning house.

Number One appliance from the West Hill station had just arrived, and John moved smartly to find out what the SO wanted his appliance to do. He ran back and ordered the crew to get set up and get water onto the roof and into the top window. "There's a mother and two young children trapped in there. Simon, you and I will be going in to get them out."

"I hope that roof holds…" Simon heard John mutter not quite quietly enough as they all busied themselves with getting ready.

It seemed to take forever, but finally the ladder was correctly positioned. Water was playing on the roof, and more was being pumped into the floor below. John was at the top of the ladder, while Simon would be his backup and partner.

Simon could feel the heat, smell the smoke, see the flames but his concentration was on John and the window. It was an almost cinematic experience as his awareness tunnelled into just that small space.

He watched as John turned to him, gave a 'thumbs-up' and entered through the already shattered window. Simon climbed to the top to see what was happening and to ensure that he could give help as required.

Smoke obscured his view, but he could see John move rapidly to the far side of the room. He could see a lady there, gesturing frantically. He watched as John picked up a small bundle from the floor -- Good God, it was a baby! John hurried to the window and handed his burden to Simon who took it carefully and began stepping down the ladder towards safety. He was careful, but knew he had to be quick -- the room was already full of smoke and the roof would surely soon fail…

At the bottom he handed the child over to an ambulance man who'd arrived and immediately climbed back up, as quickly as he could. He'd just reached the top and was about to take the second child from John when with a terrific crash and a burst of flame and smoke part of the ceiling came down. He was forced to duck and dimly heard a scream. When he lifted his head again John, the child and the mother had all disappeared.

Simon forced his body to act -- he climbed partially in through the window and saw John lying on the floor. He hurriedly climbed completely in, flinching away when a further burst of sparks and splinters came at him. He reached his friend and saw another bundle on the floor of the room. He noted also the mother, lying on her back, face turned towards him -- with a jagged piece of wood embedded in her chest. Her sightless eyes regarded Simon as he forced himself to act again. Dimly, he knew that image would haunt him for a long while, but now there was no time…

He checked John, saw that he was breathing, and made his decision -- the only one possible. He picked up the child and went back to the window. He gestured to the SO and saw him quickly give orders. While he waited he checked the child over. It was a young girl, aged maybe three. She was unconscious but came to as he was wiping her face clear of the fine blonde hair, and immediately began screaming. Simon hugged her to him, momentarily lifting his breathing mask to try to reassure her.

"What's your name?" he asked.

But the little girl was hysterical, and he couldn't blame her. He saw that his colleagues had rigged up a round mat for him to toss the child into, several of them holding it up in place underneath the window. Simon dropped her, anxiously watching her fall and be caught below. With satisfaction tinged with some relief he turned to the task of checking his fallen colleague. Blood was coming from a head wound and he showed no signs of coming round.

John wasn't tall, but he was well built and carrying a lot of equipment. Simon hauled him up and over his shoulder and carefully went to the window again, while the heat from behind him suddenly got worse. He was surprised but very pleased to find another fireman there to help him. Carefully, responding to the touches from him, Simon got onto the ladder and climbed down. He was glad they'd practised this before as he had to hold John, twisting his body at an awkward angle as he descended.

At the bottom Simon was met by the ambulance crew and Station Office Billings. He led Simon away from the crew working on John and asked "Anyone left in there?"

With a catch in his voice Simon answered, "The mother, I assume -- but she's dead, sir."

Billings patted him on the shoulder and told him, "Okay, son. Take a couple of minutes, then come and find me again. We're still going to need you."

Just then the roof of the house collapsed with a terrific crash and a shower of sparks and billowing smoke. Simon turned away, knowing that yet another family had been devastated.

- - - - - - - - - -

"Simon?" Marianne asked. "Are you still with me?"

He shook his head to clear it and said "Huh?"

Marianne reached over and laid a hand on his arm.

"Simon? I'm worried about you. You've been bothered by fires you've been called to before, but this time seems much worse. Can you tell me what happened? Please, Simon?"

Marianne's face was full of concern. Simon took another large gulp of his drink and slowly, haltingly, told Marianne about the fire, about John being hurt, about getting the two children out, and then he dried to a halt.

"How is John now?" she asked him, gently.

"He'll be fine. The doc said it was just a concussion, needing some observation. It was a bit bizarre, but it seems that a piece of the ceiling fell on his head, which was protected by the helmet -- but that it made him fall and crack the side of his head, right where's it's unprotected, on the dressing table. He's a bit singed here and there, and he'll have a day or two off, then he'll be back."

Simon fell silent again.

After a minute had passed, Marianne gently prompted, "That's not all, is it, Simon?" She leaned to him and kissed him lightly. "Tell me, please?"

Simon stared blankly past Marianne, off into the distance, seeing the woman's body, a shard of wood penetrating her body, her lifeless eyes seemingly fixed on him, accusing him of… what? "Too late. Too late! I was too late getting there, Marianne! She died…"

He choked off a sob, aware of his surroundings, not willing to show emotion in public. But Marianne knew, and she moved closer and hugged him. Quietly, in the dark of the corner of the pub, Simon sobbed on his girlfriend's shoulder. Eventually he pulled himself together enough to tell her of the lady he'd seen in the house, of how after John had gone in to help he'd been struck by the falling ceiling. He told her about going in to help and seeing the lady once more.

"She was just dead, Marianne. Impaled by a piece of wood, pierced as if it was a spear through her. She just seemed to look at me, you know?"

Marianne regarded her boyfriend and then told him, "Drink up, Simon. I'm taking you home."

- - - - - - - - - -

Once inside Simon's room Marianne closed and locked the door. Simon raised an eyebrow, but then Marianne turned and started to unbutton her blouse. "You'd best get undressed, lover," she cooed to him as she slipped the flimsy white garment off her shoulders to let it drop to the floor. Simon hastily began to comply, but then she stopped him, "I've changed my mind," she said, taking over and slipped his T-shirt off over his head. "Shhh. Let me, Simon," she told him, forestalling his interruption.

She undid the snap on her jeans after kicking off her shoes, then pushed Simon back on to the bed and did the same to him. He lifted up his hips to allow her to drag his jeans and underwear over his legs before dropping her own jeans. Simon removed his socks by feel and kinesthesia while Marianne held his eyes as she sensuously wiggled out of her flimsy knickers.

Like a prowling panther Marianne undulated to him, pushing him back onto the bed with one finger and reaching down to grasp his proud erection with the other hand. Simon gasped as she drew her fingers lightly up to the tip, finding some pre-cum there she began to spread it over the bulbous, purple, twitching head of the organ. "I know what you need," she said in a low, whispery register and ducked her head to take him into her mouth.

Marianne sucked him hard and mercilessly, so Simon was very quickly on the edge of coming. His hips twitched and he grunted "Marianne -- I'm gonna -- cum!" but Marianne didn't slow down, if anything she sped up with her hand and mouth, vacuuming his seed from him. Afterwards, momentarily spent, Simon flopped back to the bed.

"Right. Now, you'll be able to give me the kind of 'seeing to' that you need, Simon. Let's just let you , er, get your breath back, so to speak…" Marianne smiled lazily at him, one hand buried between her legs, slowly pressing into herself and spreading the moisture there. The other was slowly, softly stroking his half-erect penis, while the look she gave him would have stiffened a monk.

Much more quickly than he'd thought, Simon found himself hard and raring to go, needing to penetrate his girlfriend. He growled and rolled atop of her and she automatically spread her legs for him, her own need as urgent as his had suddenly become. She quickly fitted him into her and he thrust home in one hot, wet stroke.

Simon's thrusts were fast, frenzied. There was no finesse in his lovemaking, this was pure rut, designed to force his seed out of his body and as deeply into hers as he could. Marianne saw his face above her, a rictus mask with runnels of sweat running down, collecting at his nose and chin. She felt his need and responded with her own, her hips rising in time to meet his powerful strokes, the sight of him, the feel of him, the longing for him at that moment the only thing in her conscious mind.

Simon's pace and power built up until he grunted and strained and gave a half-howl as he forced himself as deeply into Marianne's willing body as he could. Marianne felt his penis pulse within her, felt his semen splash against her inner walls, her own body quivering.

Finally Simon collapsed onto her, heedless of his weight for a moment. He lay there, spent, gasping for breath, until she tapped him on the shoulder blade.

"S-Simon, please --"

Simon pulled himself together and rolled off to lie on his back, breathing still ragged, pulse still racing, the heat pouring off his body. Marianne was in little better state. There was an ache between her legs and she knew she'd be feeling the effects of that short but intense… what to call it? 'Bout of sex' covered it best, she thought, it wasn't making love at all, it was giving in to an intense primeval need.

"Th-thank you," he managed eventually.

Marianne had recovered enough to roll towards him and offer a wry grin. "You're welcome," she told him. "Needed that, didn't you?"

Simon nodded. She saw tears beginning to form in his eyes again, and brushed them away. "No need for tears, Si. It's okay."

Marianne cradled Simon's head in her hands and kept telling him that it was okay, that he was safe with her. She stroked his hair and the neck behind his ear, soothingly, crooning her litany to him as his breathing slowed, his eyes drooped and finally he fell asleep. Marianne lay there for a long time, still stroking his hair, before finally she succumbed to the Sandman herself.

- - - - - - - - - -

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