|Helping Out the Bombshell Babe
Author: siriusyellowlab PM
Winner of the 'Best Newbie' award and a judge's choice Jessica1971 for the 'Out of this World' contest. The Cullens travel to Trenton, NJ to help Stephanie Plum, aka the Bombshell Babe, get her man.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural - Stephanie P. - Words: 8,162 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 2 - Published: 01-04-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5640133
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Anonymous "Out of this World" One-Shot Crossover Contest
Pen Name: Siriusyellowlab
Link to FFnet Account: .net/u/1976899/siriusyellowlab
Newbie? Yes! My first fanfiction ever
This is a Twilight Crossover fiction with the world created by Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum series
Recognizable Character(s) from other world: Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli, Ricardo Carlos Manoso (Ranger), Lula
Title: Helping Out the Bombshell Babe
Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight are the property of Stephenie Meyer. Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli, Ranger, Lula and Edna Mazur belong to Janet Evanovich. I own none of them. I'm just playing with them for a while, and promise to return them when I'm done.
Summary: Alice, Bella, Edward and Jasper travel to Trenton, NJ to help the 'Bombshell' bounty hunter bring down her man. The Cullens are vampires, and are attending Dartmouth College.
Friday, July 17
"Alice, what's wrong, darlin'? You've been out of sorts for weeks." said Jasper. He was sitting on the sofa in our family room while Alice paced. I, too, was aware that something was bothering her. Reading her mind these days was like looking into a strobe light. The visions kept flickering at a blinding pace, and I wondered, for the thousandth time, if it was possible for a vampire to get a migraine. If so, no amount of Imitrex could help us.
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I tried to break into Alice's train of thought before she created a rut in the mahogany hardwood floors of our New Hampshire mansion. If anyone asked, my motives were purely selfless: I only wanted to save Esme from having to replace the antique floors, thereby saving a forest of exotic hardwood trees. Go green, and all that shit. "Alice, can we please discuss these visions of yours before I go mad?"
"What visions is she having?" Bella was curled on my lap by the fireplace. We had been relaxing and enjoying each others company. If it weren't for Alice's little problem, we might have been upstairs enjoying each other's company in a not-so-relaxing way. I needed to get to the bottom of this ... now.
Alice quickly spun around. "I'm sorry! I can't stop these visions! It's driving me batty!" Ha! Batty! This, coming from a vampire whose formative human years were spent in an insane asylum. I wonder if she understood on how many levels this was amusing. I shook my head like a Flea Infested Shape Shifter. Ha! I have come up with a new acronym! FISS! I'll share that one with everyone but Bella. Focus, Edward! The lack of sex is seriously affecting your concentration! Must solve Alice's problem now! Must solve my problem immediately afterward!
"There's this love triangle in New Jersey that's been showing up on my radar for three years. This woman, Stephanie Plum, has two very hot human men after her, and she can't make up her mind. We really need to go help her, so I can finally have a little peace. Believe me, if we can solve her problem, a lot of New Jersey will breathe easier. This situation is legendary!" Alice said these words so quickly that I was glad I had the vampire ability to listen and understand at the speed of sound. To any human, it would have sounded like Alvin on helium.
"Why this girl? She's human, right? Surely her case isn't so unique?" Try to divert her plans through logic. Then we can just stay home, and I can get Bella alone. Yeah. Works for me.
"Well, first of all, she reminds me a lot of Bella."
"What do you mean?" There would only be one Bella. No other in the universe was ever, or would ever be, like her.
"She's a danger magnet. Her nickname is 'Bombshell' because of all the cars and buildings that blow up around her. She's had her fair share of stalkers and crazies, too. It's a miracle she's still alive, which leads me to my second point. She's not a normal human."
"You can't mean ... she's an Unmentionable?" Jasper spluttered.
"Unmentionable? What's an Unmentionable?" asked Bella. Being the youngest in our family, there were many things she had yet to learn.
"Unmentionables are basically humans with super powers. They are nearly immortal, living a life span far beyond the norm ... several centuries. They don't get sick, and it would take quite a lot to injure or kill them. They blend into the human world very easily, since they still eat, sleep, and have normal human bodily functions. There are very few pure-blood Unmentionables left in the world. Like all societies, there are Unmentionables that use their talents for good, and those who don't. Of course, they try hard to keep general knowledge of their existence a secret, and have a pact with the Volturi. Once in a while an Unmentionable goes public, and they have to deal with it. The most notable Unmentionable is Santa Claus. They've worked for years to prove he doesn't exist."
"Santa Claus is real?" Bella gasped.
"Of course! Although, no one knows his real name anymore. Sometimes he goes by Sandy Claws, sometimes it's Sandor Clausen."
Bella snorted. "Next you're going to tell me that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are real."
"Way." Jasper interrupted. "So this Stephanie Plum is an Unmentionable?"
"No. But she is special. She has just a smidgeon of Unmentionable blood that came down to her from her maternal grandmother, Edna Mazur. She doesn't know this, of course, and the only power that she seems to have is escaping dangerous situations. She has been introduced to the Unmentionable world, and has proven herself trustworthy in keeping their secret - another similarity to Bella, I might add. Also, one of her suitors is special, too. He's related to Batman."
"Batman??" Bella looked faint. Quite an achievement for a vampire.
"Yes. Don't ask. You'll see it for yourself."
"What do you mean she'll see it for herself?" I asked suspiciously.
"I mean that the four of us are going to Trenton to straighten this thing out! No arguments! I've already seen it, and it will all work out okay, as long as Jasper can control himself around Lula. I believe he will, with a little preparation. We should all hunt first."
"Lula?" Jasper asked.
"One of Stephanie's friends. You'll find her a bit tempting, mainly because of her size. She'd be enough to single-handedly satisfy the entire Voluri guard for a month. She also has a dreadful fashion sense. Hmmmm. The way she dresses right now makes her resemble a Bratwurst. Imagine fitting a plus size woman in a petite woman's spandex. You get the picture!"
"So, when are we leaving?" Jasper, Bella and I asked in unison.
Before long we were all in my silver Volvo speeding down to Trenton. I was driving, of course. We had all hunted until we were satiated, and our eyes were a light golden yellow. Alice knew that there wouldn't be many hunting opportunities in the immediate Trenton area, but we could run up to Sussex County, New Jersey, if necessary. Not many people knew that Sussex County was filled with wildlife, including deer, black bears, coyote, and foxes. We'd be doing the surrounding bedroom communities a favor by taking down some of the bears and deer. The deer were a menace to suburban landscaping, and the bears scattered trash on pick-up nights. See? Vampires can be helpful! Alice explained that we were staying at The Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, because this was the closest five star hotel to Trenton. The Rittenhouse was close to the Civil War Museum, something that could interest Jasper should the need arise. Jasper also mentioned that he might go looking for the bar where he and Alice met, for old times' sake. The 32 mile distance from Philadelphia to Trenton didn't bother us, so we didn't object.
Soon we were in a very seedy area of Trenton, known as Stark Street, standing on the sidewalk. The place was positively infested with drug dealers, pimps, and hookers. I felt that the four of us might have stood out. A little. Oh, who am I kidding? A lot! Alice warned us that Stephanie would be running out of one of the alleys across the street, chasing a man who had skipped bail on 'possession and intent to distribute' charges. It was Stephanie's job to bring him back to jail, and her reward would be ten percent of the bond amount. Alice told me to get ready to help out, because the man was planning violence to either Stephanie or Stephanie's car. Sure enough, a man came racing out of an alley, closely followed by a pretty woman with long brown hair. The man was carrying a bottle that had a rag sticking out of the top. The rag was on fire. Without breaking stride, the man threw the bottle at a beaten up Ford Escape, and the bottle shattered.
Three things seemed to happen at once:
The car was engulfed in deep red flames.
"Son of a Carpetbagger. Molotov Cocktail!" Jasper hissed.
Alice thought loudly in my direction: 'Edward! You have to help Stephanie bring down the perp! This is how we meet her!' I rolled my eyes. Ugh. Alice is trying to drive me crazy with her attempt to use Bounty Hunting Vernacular. Ridiculous. Next she'll be wearing leather chaps. Hmmm. I wouldn't mind seeing those on Bella. Alice looked at me and raised an eyebrow.
I noticed that Stephanie and the 'perp' (thanks Alice) were running towards us in an attempt to put distance between them and the impending explosion. I stepped quickly (but still at human speed) up to the scumbag in question and stiff-armed him. He let out a 'Woof' and toppled backwards into Stephanie, who was running flat out behind him. They both lost their balance and fell to the ground, Stephanie on the bottom. I leaned over, grabbed the man by the shirt, and 'helped' him up. Okay, I may have helped him slam into the wall of the nearby building, too, but I was just being a good citizen, right?
While I continued to hold the scumbag on the wall, I turned to look at Stephanie. She was sitting up, looking at her car, which chose this moment to explode. Thank God the tank wasn't full, because the explosion caused enough damage as it was. Glass windows on the other side of the street shattered, car alarms sounded, and chunks of metal rained down. Luckily I didn't smell any blood, or this situation would have been even more uncomfortable. Stephanie then stood up, muttering "Crap! Not another one! I am going to kill that loser!" She raced over to the scumbag and looked at me with a fierce expression. "Hold him for just another second, please?" I nodded. She then brought her fist back and punched him in the kidney. Looking at me, she said "There. I feel better. Let me get the cuffs on him."
While Stephanie was cuffing the loser, Bella, Jasper and Alice approached us. When Stephanie stood up from her task, she turned to the four of us and gave a weary smile. "Thanks. I appreciate your help. I've been hunting him for a week. My name is Stephanie Plum, but you can call me Steph."
"I'm Edward. Edward Cullen. This is my wife Bella, my sister Alice Whitlock, and her husband Jasper." I was grateful her hands were occupied holding loser-perp-scumbag still, so I didn't have to shake her hand. Although she might have been distracted enough to not notice my icy skin.
After a round of polite 'nice-to-meet-yous', Alice bounced up to Steph and said "Steph. It's so great to meet you at last. We've been hoping for a chance to talk with you!"
Steph looked a little astonished by this pronouncement, but shook it off when a couple of police cars and assorted ambulances and firetrucks arrived on the scene. While most of the emergency workers set about securing the scene and putting out the fire, two police in uniform hustled over to our little group. The larger of the two crossed his arms over his massive belly and laughed. "Should have known it was you, Bombshell! It's been way too long since you blew up a car. What's it been, like 2 weeks?"
"It wasn't my fault!" Steph fumed.
"If I had a dollar for every time you say that ..." said the officer.
At that moment, three more vehicles pulled up. One was a piece of shit unmarked Crown Victoria cop car that was past it's prime. One was a sleek, black Porsche 911 turbo. The last one was a black Ford Explorer. The occupants of all three of these vehicles exited their cars in unison, like it was a dance they practiced often.
Two large, muscular men dressed in black got out of the Explorer. The occupant of the Porsche was a tall (6'1'') man of Cuban heritage. His beautiful mocha latte skin was accompanied by shoulder length straight black hair, pulled back with a leather tie. His black t-shirt and black cargo pants fit him in a way that let me know that he was powerfully muscular. He walked like a predator. His name was Ricardo Carlos Manoso, but everyone called him Ranger. The men from the Explorer stayed by their car, but looked to Ranger for instruction. He was obviously their boss.
From out of the POS Crown Vic emerged a harried looking man in his mid thirties, who looked to be of Italian descent. He was six feet tall, muscular, and I know the ladies found him attractive, in a scruffy sort of way. He was wearing old blue jeans and a polo shirt. I knew this man's name was Joe Morelli.
Morelli and Ranger approached our little group with the intent of speaking with Steph. By the way they carried themselves, I could tell I was in the presence of two alpha males. Both looked like they felt they had a claim on Steph. I inwardly smirked. Here is our little love triangle! All the key players are here.
Morelli spoke first. "Cupcake, I should have known it was you. Always getting in over your head!"
"Hi Joe. I'm fine. Thanks for asking." Steph replied acidly.
"I just stopped by to see if you need a ride to get your Uncle's car." Joe replied.
"No, she doesn't." Said Ranger, calmly. "She's got back-up today."
After a beat of silence, where Joe squinted at Ranger, he turned and left, muttering a "Bye Cupcake" on his way back to his car.
Ranger approached Steph and said one word. "Babe." I could tell that this one word held many different meanings to them both, depending on the way he said it. In this case, it meant "Are you okay? I was worried about you."
Steph managed to nod, and I noticed she was bravely fighting a tear. They both looked at us. Steph recovered herself and made introductions. Ranger nodded in our direction. I could tell that in those few moments, he had observed the four of us minutely. This was a man who was always aware of his surroundings. Ranger turned back to Steph and said, "Would you like for my men to take your skip to the station? I can give you a ride to wherever you need to go." Double entendre?
I decided to interrupt. Not that I wanted to be a cockblocker, but we had matters to discuss. Now was my chance. "Steph, we'd like to take you to lunch, if that's okay? We have some mutual friends, and we'd be honored to have that little chat I mentioned earlier."
"Mutual friends?" Steph asked.
I relied on my knowledge of Untouchables and their jobs, and said, "Diesel. He told me to look you up if I was ever in Trenton." While not strictly the truth, I was certainly acquainted with Diesel. He was a gregarious Untouchable, and had mentioned Steph to me the last time we met.
Steph gave a small smile and agreed to go to lunch. Ranger departed, and Steph wrapped up her business with the police. I silently communicated to the boys that Steph would be more comfortable with just Bella and I, so Edward dropped us all off at a little pizza restaurant called Pinos.
I couldn't believe how comfortable Steph seemed in our company. I could tell that, like I was when I was human, she was non-judgmental. That isn't to say that she had no discernment, just that she could tell when she could trust someone. Apparently she knew this Diesel well enough that any friend of his was accepted. I was astounded at everything I learned about these 'Unmentionables' during our drive. You would think I would be used to learning that all the myths were true. But to find out that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, and Super Heroes existed was an eye opener. Suddenly, I didn't feel so 'other' after all. Diesel was one of the Unmentionables who worked to keep the Unmentionables secret, often shutting down Unmentionables who broke their rules. Diesel had his reasons for sharing the secret with Steph. I wasn't entirely sure what they were, but I didn't dwell on it.
Steph led us into Pinos, and led us to a booth towards the back of the little restaurant after greeting what seemed to be everyone in the place. Most of the patrons were off duty cops, so I felt quite at home, considering Charlie's occupation. We sat down, and Steph ordered a large sausage, pepperoni, onion and pepper pizza with a side of fries and a large draft beer. Alice ordered us two large chefs salads and two cokes. She hummed to me at vampire speed that it's easy to look like you're eating a salad, and nobody expects you to finish a large one. Just keep cutting the contents into smaller pieces, and spill some out of the bowl.
Once we were settled, Steph looked at us curiously. "So, did Diesel send you?"
"No, not exactly." Alice answered her. "You see, I have a special ability, and you've been affecting it lately.' Steph's eyes grew wide. 'We're not sure why this is, but my guess is the more contact you have with people like Diesel, the more you affect these kinds of abilities. I'd really love to tell you more, but we're a bit exposed here at this restaurant. Maybe, after you get to know us, we can meet privately somewhere?"
"Sure! Why don't you tell you a little more about yourselves, at least, what you can tell me here and now. For instance, where are all of you from?"
"We live in New Hampshire right now. We're attending Dartmouth College. There are six of us attending." I told her. "Edward and I got married a year ago, and just got back from a year long trip around the world. Alice and Jasper, and Emmett and Rosalie have been married forever, it seems. Alice, Edward and Emmett are siblings. Their parents bought us a house that we share."
"Are you all originally from New Hampshire?" Steph asked.
"Oh no." I replied. "Alice, Edward and Emmett grew up in Chicago. Rosalie and Jasper, who are twins, grew up in Texas, and I was raised in Arizona and Washington. How about you, Steph?" I asked, hoping to steer the conversation away from the Cullens.
"Oh, I've lived in New Jersey all my life. I rarely leave the state. I even vacation here! I love Point Pleasant!"
Alice chose this time to change the subject. "I can tell you that even though you rarely leave New Jersey, your escapades are known up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The Bombshell Bounty Hunter is legendary! The best story had to be when you blew up the first Porsche, and then it was squished by a garbage truck."
'It wasn't my fault!'
"I know it wasn't, silly! You were lucky to have escaped with your life! Well ... not lucky, perhaps. Let's just say it's no coincidence that you've always been able to escape serious injury. You have a talent yourself, even though you aren't in the same group as Diesel. These things are usually inherited, you know, so there was bound to be something special about you!"
"Diesel has implied that there may be something to what you're saying." Steph said.
"Well, just take a closer look at your family history on your maternal grandmother's side! That's all I can really tell you." Steph's eyes were dancing with curiosity. I could tell there would be a family interrogation happening soon.
"Anyway, Steph. You have come to my attention because it seems that you can't make up your mind. Apparently, you're involved in some bizarre love triangle, and you've been under some pressure for the last three years or so. I need to tell you that your indecision has been messing with my sight, and I need your help! So really, I've come here to help you with your decision, which will benefit me in the long run."
Steph looked confused. "Sight? What do you mean?"
"What she means, is that she has a talent for seeing the future." I said this as quietly as I thought Steph could hear. I also cast my shield around the three of us, hoping it would provide us some protection from being overheard. "Her ability is affected by the choices one makes, so when someone changes their mind, the future changes. Apparently, your choices will affect many people, even up to where we are in New Hampshire."
"This is really hard to believe, you know. If I hadn't helped Diesel out a few times, I wouldn't have believed it at all. But I've seen what he can do, so I'm inclined to buy your story."
"Good." said Alice. "So, can you tell us both a little about your love triangle?"
"Well, first off, I wouldn't really call it a love triangle. That may be the problem. I'm sure one of the men I'm interested in loves me, in his own way, but the other one ..."
"Which two men are we discussing?" I asked.
"You met them both on Stark Street. Morelli and Ranger. I've known Joe Morelli all my life. He and I grew up in the same neighborhood. He was quite a little Casanova back then. When he was eight and I was six, he lured me to his garage to play 'choo choo'. I was the tunnel, and he was the train. He crawled between my legs and looked up my skirt with a flashlight. When I was sixteen, he seduced me behind the case at the Tasty Pastry. Took my virginity on the floor, and I got a lovely look at his backside as he raced out the door, claiming he was joining the navy. When I was nineteen I spotted him on the sidewalk outside Giovanichi's market, and I ran him over with my father's Buick. I broke his leg! He's lucky I didn't back up and run over him again! Anyway, ten years later we met up again. I was wiser, and Joe had sown most of his wild oats by screwing every girl in the burg section of Trenton, and wanted to settle down. We found we have a connection. We've been on again/off again for the last three years."
"Wow! Why does he call you Cupcake?" I asked.
Steph blushed. "It's a reference to our first time all those years ago. Something about being at the Tasty Pastry, and my doo-dah being as fun to lick as the icing on a cupcake. He wrote a poem about it on the wall behind the stadium."
"Classy!" Alice said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
"Hey! Are you sure you're not from the 'burg? You have the eye roll thing down like a native!"
"So why do you give him the time of day, Steph?" I asked.
"Joe has his good moments. Most of all, he's great in bed. He's also comfortable. My family loves him, and he tolerates my mother's Friday pot roast dinners and my grandmother grabbing his ass. He's asked me to marry him, but so far, we haven't worked that out yet. He seems to want to get married on even days of the month, or when he's especially sex deprived. I seem to want to get married on odd days of the month. I can't really see myself being a 'burg housewife, though. I can't cook, hate to clean, and love my job. Joe wants me to quit being a Bounty Hunter and be little Suzie Homemaker. That's what most of our fights are about. That, and Ranger."
"So, how does Ranger factor into this equation?" I asked Steph.
"How about we continue this conversation at my apartment? The walls have ears, and I'd die if any of this got back to him." replied Steph. "Oh, I'll also need a ride to my place. Do you mind driving? I seem to be without wheels ... again."
Alice made a show of calling Edward with her phone, while I paid the bill. Minutes later we pulled up to Steph's apartment. Steph invited all of us, including our men, to her second floor apartment. We entered the elevator where a batty looking woman, who didn't look a day over a thousand years old, was pretending to be the elevator driver. When the elevator arrived at the second floor, the old lady announced, "second floor, ladies' lingerie, gentlemen's furnishings!" With polite 'thank yous' from all of us, we moved to Steph's apartment.
"She's completely insane, but harmless." explained Steph as we entered her apartment.
"Hey, don't knock the elderly. She's a spring chicken compared to me!" Edward whispered in my ear. I couldn't help but giggle.
Steph's apartment was a small, one bedroom place. She had obviously furnished it with hand-me-downs, but it was neat and clean. We all found a seat, some of us sitting on the sofa, others on chairs we pulled from the dining table.
Steph got a determined look on her face. "Okay. I'm being pretty cool with letting you know my business, and discussing something that I don't talk with anyone else about. Before I continue, I need a little more information about you."
"What would you like to know?" asked Alice. I could sense Jasper sending out waves of calm and trust, toward Steph. She appeared to relax.
"Well, we've established that you are a special kind of Unmentionable, and that you have powers, too. Tell me a little more about these powers."
Alice proceeded to tell her about our various powers. When she mentioned Edward's ability, Steph's eyes grew wide, but then she rolled her eyes and muttered. "That figures. I always feel as if Ranger is reading my mind, too. Diesel also claims to be able to read it. It certainly doesn't help when I say things that I'm thinking out loud, even when I don't mean to." We all chuckled.
After becoming comfortable with the idea of all of our abilities, Steph agreed to talk more about Ranger. "Ranger and I have been friends for three years. I was introduced to him when I first became a Bounty Hunter. He's the best, and he became my mentor. He's former special forces with the Army, hence the street name Ranger. He's a man of few words, and he doesn't show his emotions often. He's intense, strong, brave, beautiful, generous and sexy. He's also overprotective at times. He's still under contract with the Government, and occasionally disappears for varying periods of time. Sometimes its for a week, sometimes for months. He's told me that this lifestyle doesn't lend itself to relationships. He's told me he loves me in his own way. But I can't help but feel that we have some serious chemistry together. We shared one night together after I lost a bet to him. We've flirted and shared some amazing kisses. I know he wants me, but I'm afraid that once I give in, I'll go up in flames, only to be let down."
"So, let me get this straight." said Jasper. "Are you really staying with Morelli because he's available, and if Ranger said he could commit, you'd drop Morelli?"
"I guess it sounds that way, doesn't it? It's hard to choose between safe and comfortable versus exciting and mysterious. I guess you could say I'm choosing more than just the man here. I'm also choosing my future. It's taking me so long to decide because I haven't been issued any ultimatums. Morelli is mostly content to have our occasional sleep overs. Ranger has a great deal of self control, and hasn't offered me anything, anyway."
"But you do agree that the possibility of having more from Ranger is what's keeping you from committing to Morelli?" Jasper pushed.
"Mostly." Steph sighed. "Also, there's the fact that Morelli just won't let me fly."
"What? I'm confused." said Alice.
"What I mean is, when I was little I fantasized that I was Wonder Woman. A Superhero. I wanted to save the world and be able to fly. My mother always told me I was ridiculous, and instead of spending my time dreaming about impossible things, I should be learning to be a good housewife. When I was nine years old, I wore a sheet as a cape and jumped off the garage roof. I broke my leg. Mom always said I shouldn't have tried to fly."
"And what does this have to do with Morelli?" I asked.
"Well, Morelli doesn't want me to be Wonder Woman. He doesn't want me working at all. He wants me to give up my dreams, or more accurately, change my dreams. He wants me to be a full time wife and mother, and take care of him. I know there is nothing wrong with that. I'd love for that to be my dream, but it isn't. I'm barely able to take care of my hamster, let alone a child. I can't cook, and I don't want to learn. I like my independence, and I like my job."
"Why not drop him then?" I asked.
"This sounds cowardly, but he may be my last chance at having a normal life. Also, the sex is too good." Steph hung her head. "I'm selfish, I know. I should let him go, so he can move on with his life. I should buy stock in Duracell, too." She blushed.
"So...does Ranger let you fly?" asked Jasper.
"Yes. He encourages me. He gives me the tools and training I need to get the job done. Sometimes he hires me to help him bring in a skip. I'm working for him tonight, as a matter of fact. Anyway, other than our chemistry and his character, I love that he doesn't try to control me."
"Here's a hyphothetical question. What if Ranger wanted you to marry him, settle down and have children? Would you feel like he was clipping your wings?" I asked her.
"I don't think so. Ranger has a way of making every mundane thing in life feel extraordinary."
"There you have it. I think you know the only thing to do." said Jasper.
"Yes, but I'm finding it really difficult to change my ways."
At this point, I could tell that Alice was having a vision. She got that far away look in her eyes, and became preternaturally still. We all stared at her for a few minutes until she came back to herself. She smiled and said, "Steph! I can tell you that your future has just become more clear to me. I can't really tell you everything, but I think you're going to be happy with all of this! We have a lot to do to make it all work, though. Would you mind if we helped this situation along?"
"Sure!" Steph said agreeably. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, we need to have you tell Morelli that there are no more ah benefits to your friendship. Ever. He has to be told that this unhealthy on/off pattern is over. We also need to arrange for Ranger to hear about that, and believe it. Hmmm. I have a few ideas there. Then we have to have a situation where Edward and Jasper can get a read on Ranger to help us make more arrangements. We also have to get you ready for tonight! What time do you need to be ready?" Alice asked.
"I have only two hours. Ranger picks my clothes for times like these. You see, I'm a distraction." Sensing our confusion, Steph went on to explain that sometimes Ranger and his company, Rangeman, used Steph to lure skips to them. Typically, they knew the skip's regular hang-outs and taste in women. Steph would dress accordingly and cozy up to them at the bar. If she was lucky, they bought her a drink and asked her to go somewhere with them. As soon as she got them outside, Ranger and his Rangemen would arrest the skip. Ranger always had the bar infiltrated with his own men, one behind the bar, and others posing as patrons. He would have two of his men on all of the exits, and everyone would keep in contact with microphones and headsets. Steph would wear a wire, but not a headset, since that would be visible.
"Ranger tells me what kind of slutty I need to be for each distraction. Sometimes it's college slutty, sometimes biker slutty, or whatever. Tonight I'm supposed to be elegant slutty."
"Oh! Can I help you get ready? I love doing hair and makeup!" Alice was bouncing now.
"Great!" Steph answered.
I was tickled to see that Alice had a new Barbie doll. Bombshell Babe Barbie was the latest model this season, and took pressure off of Bella Barbie!
Nearly two hours later Steph and Alice emerged from Steph's room, the night's preparations complete. Steph was certainly stunning. Her wild curly brown hair had been tamed, and fell straight, sleek and silky down her back, reaching nearly to her waist. Her makeup was flawless, although a little overdone, considering Ranger's requirements. Her smoky eyeshadow and thick dark eyelashes accented her large vivid blue eyes. Her lips were red and pouty. Her dress was striking - a royal blue halter dress with a deep v-neck front that fell mid thigh. On her feet were gold sandals with skinny four inch heels, turning the normally five foot seven inch Steph into someone closer to six feet tall. She walked gracefully - more gracefully than I ever did as a human.
Alice, Jasper, Edward and I said our good-byes to Steph, and made arrangements to meet up with her the next evening.
It had definitely been a strange day. I can't believe that we had shared so many of our secrets with Stephanie Plum. I can't believe we had raced down to Trenton to meddle in something which didn't concern us. Of course, maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. The little pixie had a way of getting us all to go along with her crazy schemes. I was relieved that we hadn't shared the biggest secret of all, however, and knew that there was little chance it would be discovered.
All through the girls' lunch (while Jasper and I waited in the car) and later at the apartment, I had been diligently monitoring Stephanie's thoughts. Her mind was refreshing for me to read. She was accepting of our family and our story. She harbored none of those jealous and lustful thoughts towards us that were so typical of human women. She was non-judgmental, friendly, witty, and smart. She had suffered her fair share of heartache, but was a cheerful person at heart. She didn't have much in the way of personal wealth, but was happy with the things she did have. I officially liked her. She was certainly confused about her two relationships, and I sincerely hoped we could help her. My guess was that she desired Ranger's company the most, but I wanted to read the minds of both Morelli and Ranger before I knew for sure.
When we left her apartment we waited in the car for Ranger to pull up. He arrived driving a Black Escalade. The man obviously likes black: black cars, black clothes, black uniforms for employees. I'm just sayin'. Anyway, his thoughts told me he was anxious to see Stephanie, and to make sure the capture went smoothly. Foremost on his mind was her safety. He didn't really like exposing her to scum and using her as bait, but he knew she was good at what she did. He also liked having an excuse to spend time with her, and he knew that while she was with him, she couldn't be on a date with Morelli. He felt conflicted about this. He knew he was possessive of her, and felt that she deserved to be happy with someone who was offering her marriage and a white picket fence. It's just that the thought of her belonging to someone else tore him apart inside. Tell me about it. I well remember feeling that way. Thank God I got past that.
Ranger opened the door quietly to her apartment. I was a little confused about how he did this. She had locked it, and he didn't have a key. Neither did he pick the lock. Surely he had some sort of special power. Stephanie thought so, too, but didn't really dwell on that topic. He loved that about her. When he saw her, his mind froze. It always did when he looked at her. She thought he was just a man of few words. The truth was that she left him speechless. His eyes took in every detail of her appearance, and I could tell that he thought of her as his mate. She belonged to him, even if no one else knew that, even her. He greeted her and placed the 'bug' inside her halter top, a task he looked forward to for every distraction. He escorted her to his car and they departed for the evening.
Saturday, July 18
I stood in the shadows of the crowded bar, confident that Steph couldn't see me. Last night's capture had gone perfectly, and I knew that she would be spending tonight at this bar watching Lula and her band, The What, performing. I know that if I were to walk over and join Steph at her table she would welcome me, but that wasn't my plan. I was always watching her, either with my own eyes, or with the GPS devices I had planted in her car and her handbag. She was aware of this, of course. I told her it was for her safety, considering the number of nutcases and stalkers she routinely attracted. That was a partial truth. The other was that I am completely obsessed with Stephanie Plum.
I noticed one of the men she had recently befriended approach the area where I waited. I didn't consider him a threat, either to my Babe's safety, or for my her attention. It was obvious to me that he was extremely happily married. I'm a good judge of people. I knew there was something different about him and his family, but since they didn't pose said threat, I let my mind concentrate on more important things. The pale man, who had bronze hair, nodded in my direction, and leaned against the wall around six feet away from me. He was giving me my space. Good. His attention was on the bar, where his wife and his sister were sitting. I swear I heard him growl when a man started talking to his wife. I understand completely! I glanced at him, and he explained that she could take care of herself. He then smirked and nodded his head back over to her, indicating that I would enjoy the scene.
The man chatting up his wife was no other than Joe Morelli. "This should be good!" said Edward. "Sit back and watch the drama unfold."
Morelli was obviously drunk. He also must not have known that Babe was here. How he was able to convince her his womanizing days are over was a mystery to me. He was turning on the old Italian charm for Bella. I could tell that she knew exactly who he was and what his end game was. She was playing her own game. When his advances became too lewd, she managed to get him in a hold with his right arm pinned high up his back. It happened so fast, I wasn't sure how she did it. Anyway, if she were to raise his elbow one more inch, he'd be spending some time in surgery, for sure. Impressive. "You weren't lying. She's quite capable." I complimented his wife to Edward.
My Babe saw the whole thing. She walked up to Morelli and instructed him to follow her. They came close enough to where I was standing that I could hear them, but I knew they couldn't see me.
"Cupcake, I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong!" Morelli sputtered.
"Joe, I'm not mad. I'm relieved, actually. You help me see something more clearly tonight." Babe said calmly and sincerely.
"Look. This has gone on long enough. I really like you, Joe. You've been a part of my life forever, and I'll always cherish our friendship. But this on again/off again thing has to end now."
"You mean you're ready to make a commitment? That's great, Cupcake!" Morelli beamed. Idiot.
"No, Joe. You don't get it. I've strung you along enough. I think I stayed with you for so long because I was afraid of being alone, or lonely. The fact is, I'm happier when I'm alone than when I'm with you. Our flip-flopping relationship is going nowhere, by my own choice. By staying in it, I'm fair to neither of us. I really want you to be happy, and I know that will only happen with someone else."
"Cupcake. You don't know what you're saying! I bet this has something to do with Ranger. Damn it! I knew you two were screwing behind my back!"
"Morelli. Listen to me carefully. I never cheated on you. Ranger respects you, too. I'm not going to discuss my feelings about Ranger to you, or to anyone so unconnected to him. If it makes you any happier, I doubt he's interested in me at all." I couldn't believe I was hearing this. She didn't think I was interested? Oh yeah. That's my fault. I told her I wasn't ready for a relationship. I told her that my love was the kind that came with a condom, not a ring. I'm an idiot. I'm the luckiest idiot on the planet. Here she broke it off with the guy promising her marriage, if she was interested. She was risking the white picket fence. Was she risking it in the hopes that I'd come through for her?
Morelli was getting more agitated. "Cupcake, I know this is just another one of your many break-ups that you don't mean. You'll be crawling back in a few weeks. We can talk it over then."
"No, Joe. This is it. Take out an ad in the newspaper. You're officially back on the market."
"And what about you?" Joe blustered.
"I'm still off the market. There's only one man I want, and if I can't have him, I'll have no one else." Steph replied, with narrowed eyes.
"I knew it!" Morelli hissed. "Well, after he gets tired of you, don't expect me to take you back. I don't want Ranger's sloppy seconds."
Before I knew it, Babe had slugged Morelli. The blow landed with a satisfying sound. 'Stumble on home, Morelli, and leave me alone. Bah-bye!' Morelli staggered away shaking his head and muttering something about hormones and time of the month. I would have found it amusing, but I was still stunned silly. I was having an epiphany. Yes, I always knew I loved Babe. I loved her passionately, devotedly, and eternally. I downplayed that love to her because I didn't want to endanger her with my lifestyle. I didn't feel worthy of her love. My past had too many horrors in it. But my epiphany showed me that Babe loved me the same way I loved her. She didn't care about the stains on my soul. She didn't care about my past. She was a brave, smart, funny, charming, caring woman who loved all of me. She loved me in spite of my flaws. She didn't just see 'Batman', as she frequently called me. She didn't just see a large bank account, as so many women did. She was willing to deny every other man so she could have any part of me, no matter how small. At that moment, I decided to offer her all of me. All that I was, all that I would be, and all that I had. Over at the bar, the woman named Alice started squealing and clapping her hands.
I went outside to get a breath of fresh air. I was proud of myself. I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. I knew I'd made the right move. It wasn't fair to either Morelli or Ranger how I'd been acting. I just hoped I was brave enough to live a solitary life.
Suddenly, I felt the familiar tingle on the back of my neck that let me know that Ranger was nearby. I turned, and he was approaching me. "Babe" he said, and he placed both hands on my waist. "Are you free next weekend?"
"Sure! Do you have another distraction for me?" I asked.
"No. I wanted to ask you for a date."
"A d-date? Really?" I was stunned.
"Yes, Babe. It's time." Ranger gave me the full 200 watt smile. His gorgeous white teeth lighting up his dark face.
"What did you have in mind?" I asked, curiously.
"Well, I'd like to show you the Batcave."
My head was spinning. This is everything I'd dreamed of. Was I dreaming? Maybe I should pinch myself.
"Babe. Don't pinch yourself. You're not dreaming." Ranger chuckled.
"Did I say that out loud?" I groaned.
"Yep. But I want to remind you, once I let you into the Batcave, it's forever." Ranger said huskily.
"Forever it is, then." I agreed.
With the satisfaction that comes with a job well done, the four of us made our way back to New Hampshire. My visions were much clearer, and I was relieved. We had helped bring two people together who deserved a world of happiness. I was sure we'd meet them again. After all, I'm Alice!