The night I became the youngest person—and the only female ever—to win the Austin Fire Department’s valor award, I got propositioned by my partner.
At the ceremony, In the ballroom. During dinner.
By my partner.
There we all were, the entire B-shift from Station Eleven, in our dress uniforms, using salad forks—and there I was, in my crisscross tie, getting more and more nervous at the prospect of having to walk up on that stage in front of all those people under all those lights. The winter before, a busload of schoolchildren had slid off an icy road into a ravine, and I had climbed inside to push the kids out through a window, one by one, as the water rose. That's why we were here. The newspapers were calling me the School Bus Angel.
And Hernandez, of all people, chose this moment to hit on me.
Hernandez, my partner of three years. Hernandez, who I'd never once thought of that way. Hernandez, who was so perfectly, mechanically handsome that he didn't even register as handsome anymore.
He was like a Latino firefighting Ken doll—so bizarrely perfect, he wasn't even real. He lifted weights, and flossed, and preened, and he used his washboard stomach and perfectly aligned white teeth to snare more unsuspecting ladies than I could count. He wasn't just in our department's calendar—he was on the cover. Picture-perfect Hernandez, the last guy on earth I would ever think of as anything other than a health-food-eating, CrossFit-training ladies' man, leaned over close to my ear, right there at the banquet table, and asked me to spend the night with him.