The characters you recognize belong to Janet Evanovich. I'm just borrowing them for fun and pleasure.
Rating: RSpoilers: HS through EOT CHAPTER SIXTEEN
I was awakened by a strange sound. I could not identify it. I felt Ranger struggling to get out of bed.
"What are you doing?" I put my hand on his arm.
"Security breach." Ranger said.
What? I reached for the light on the nightstand. It didn't work.
"This light isn't working." I announced.
I jumped out of bed and ran to the light on Ranger's side. I tried to turn it on. It didn't work either.
"Someone cut the power. Hand me my phone. There should be a gun and a flashlight in the drawer."
Ranger made a call, then another one. "Okay. Do it now."
He handed me the flashlight. "Junior is not answering his phone. Something may have happened to him. Louis is on his way here. Cal spotted someone in the house and is after him."
Omigod. "Nicole. I'll go get her."
"There's another gun in the dressing room."
I didn't want a gun. I turned on the flashlight and ran down the hall. Nicole was standing in the doorway looking petrified.
"Stephanie, what is going on? What is that noise? Why aren't the lights working?"
"Come with me Nicole." I grabbed her hand.
We ran down the hall back into the master bedroom. I ran into the room smack into a large man. Was it Cal? Uh-oh. This wasn't Cal. Nicole screamed.
Ranger came behind him and stunned him. He fell to the ground and we all stood there for a second. Nicole clutched onto my leg. I moved over to Ranger with my arm around Nicole.
"I don't think this guy is alone." Ranger whispered in my ear. "Nicole go in the bathroom and shut the door and lock it." He said louder.
She looked up at him and hesitated. But she ran off into the bathroom. We heard the click of the lock.
I found handcuffs in the dressing room. My hands felt like Jell-O so I was struggling to put cuffs on the man on the floor when I heard footsteps approaching the door. I hoped it was Cal. But I still hurried. Click, I got one wrist. Click; there goes the other one.
"You thought I wouldn't find you but I did." Perry Bruzniak stood at the door holding a gun. "Nice of you to get the kid out of the way. You know Sanchez is a real wimp. Can't do anything for himself. Has to hire a killer. I like to pull the trigger."
I looked up at Ranger. Jeez, had we made it this far only to die at the hands of this madman. This was supposed to be a safe house. I had no idea what Ranger was thinking. His face was as usual expressionless. I wondered if he could pass me the gun without us being killed. I could probably reach Bruzniak's leg before he got off a shot.
"Why do you want to kill us?" I asked, trying to stall for time. "What good will that do you?"
"It will feel good. I think that is a good reason. I'm really pissed and it will feel good."
Oh boy, this guy was really whacko. How did you reason with a crazy person?
"Do you always do things based on emotional motivation?" What the hell I was going to die anyway.
"Listen bitch, I don't need to answer your stupid questions."
I saw Cal and Louis come in behind him. Louis lifted him up and Bruzniak fired his gun once. Cal held a stun gun to his neck. Bruzniak fell unconscious to the floor. I looked around to make sure no one was shot.
Cal cuffed Bruzniak and I went to tell Nicole to come out of the bathroom. She ran out and hugged Ranger and held onto my hand. I looked up our bedroom ceiling had a bullet hole in it.
Ranger didn't want anyone staying at the house. He sent Nicole to stay with his sister and the rest of us went back to Haywood St. I didn't agree with sending Nicole away but he was in a state and there was no arguing with him.
"Do you want to go stay with your parents? Or with Morelli?" Ranger asked me when we were finally alone back at his apartment.
"No, I don't want to go anywhere." I sat down on the couch next to him. "I think this is finally over with. We can relax now."
"I thought I could keep us safe and look what happened."
"Look what happened. Nothing. We were able to stop them. Sure it was scary but we stopped them. Are you going to send everyone away and go live by yourself on a mountain?" Ranger didn't say anything. I put my arm around him. "If you go to that mountain I'll just follow you. Your men like me and they are very good at finding people."
"You would too." He kissed the top of my head.
"It was my sister." Ranger said, so softly I almost didn't hear him.
"What do you mean?"
"Nelda gave away our location. A man called her and told her that he was one of my men and he needed the address of the safe house. I always told her that she should never give out the address, but she was worried and thought something was wrong so she told him. It was Bruzniak's man who called."
"How did they get past the alarm?"
"Any alarm is penetratable. Before they came to us they killed Jude Ames."
"So this means that the Ramos family had nothing to do with it?"
"I still think Homer had something to do with it. We were brought to Homer's old condo. I don't that the Sanchez brothers knew about Nicole unless it was through Homer. I think Homer is aligning with the Sanchez brothers to get revenge against the rest of the Ramos family for testifying against him."
"Did you talk to the police about that?"
"Yeah. And my contacts with the F.B.I."
"Do you think that we will have more trouble from Homer Ramos?"
"We're not going to go back to work at the Morrison Center." Ranger said. "My lawyer is going to help Wendy get out of the contract. I don't think Homer had anything against me personally. I think it was just convenient that we had a prior relationship and some relatives in common. I'll still be cautious where he is concerned. But I think it is over."
"What about Nicole?" I asked. "You're not really going to leave her at Nelda's are you?"
"I don't really want to do that. Nicole is going to a good school in Miami. It is a private school and she can attend until she is in high school. I'd like her to continue going there."
"Maybe she could come here to visit you more. Maybe in the summertime." I suggested. "Ranger, you're not really hurting for money are you?"
"No, why do ask?"
"I think you should buy another house." I knew he was not going to feel safe in that house again.
"Buy a house?" He sounded surprised.
"That house we were staying in, that was the Bat cave wasn't it?"
"If there was ever anything to be called the bat cave it was."
"I think we should find a house that is secure but not quite so isolated. Nicole needs kids to play with when she comes to visit. There is something to be said for having neighbors to look out for you. They notice things like prowlers"
"You are really serious aren't you?"
"Of course I am."
"Then I think you should help choose the house." He finally said. "I'll call my real estate agent."
A house? Choosing a house with Ranger? "Is that what you really want?"
"I want to have a place where I can go to sleep at night and wake up with you and we don't have to worry about being murdered in our sleep. We could live here, but I think a house would be a better option long term. I'd love nothing more than to buy a house for you."
Ranger leaned over and cupped his good arm around my neck and kissed me. The kiss deepened. I felt myself getting aroused and I pulled away. I knew he wasn't up to any more excitement. He had a cast on his arm.
Ranger gave me the wolf smile. "Let's go in the bedroom." He kissed my neck.
"Are you feeling okay? Your arm."
"Wait until you see how good I am one handed." He purred in my ear. "And my mouth still works."