My Fair Lady
This story changes some things in One for the Money, but most of it takes place right after it.
When I told her that it was gonna be like Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle do Trenton, I had no idea just how prophetic that statement would prove.
"This here is gonna be like Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle does Trenton."
"Great, so are you gonna teach me or what?" she'd asked.
"Sure, babe," I'd said, thinking she would run screaming in the opposite direction the first time she broke a nail trying to bring a skip in.
It was three a.m. the next time she called.
"Ranger," she started. "You said you would teach me. So teach me."
"Sure, babe," I told her.
"That's what you said last time," she huffed.
"Are you serious about this?" I asked her suddenly. This whole time I'd been thinking that she would quit after seeing what bounty hunting was like, but more than a week had passed and she was still trying.
"Yeah. What did you think? That I was just doing this for the hell of it?" Actually, yeah. I had.
"Fine," I told her. "Prove it. Catch Morelli, and I'll teach you everything I know."
There was a bit of silence, and I wondered if she was rethinking it. I wondered if she thought she could con me into doing the work for Morelli and let her have the money. Then she answered.
"Fine, but I you need to do one thing first."
"Oh?" I asked.
"Yeah. See, I'm having this little problem with a pair of handcuffs…"
I was driving to a stakeout when I heard the call over the scanner. Stephanie was bringing Morelli in; she'd be there in forty-five minutes. So she'd done it. I was proud of her, and a little worried about trying to teach her. I hadn't thought I would have to. When she got to the station, there was even more noise over the scanner. She'd brought him in in the back of a freezer truck, along with a few dead bodies and enough evidence to clear the cop. There was also something about Morelli flying out of the truck to tackle Steph, but she was alright at the end of it. I settled into the stakeout, thinking about my plan to bring her up to speed.
Tank was in the car with me, so I discussed it with him.
"Man," he said. "You'll never make her into anything. Girl's never gonna be able to keep up with the game. She couldn't even get Morelli right."
"But she got him. No training, no experience, no nothing, and she brought in a cop on the run from a murder charge. And she brought the evidence to clear him with her, too."
"So she got lucky," Tank grunted. "She won't be able to do it."
"Wanna bet?" I asked. He smiled.
"Now you're talking."
"Give me six months with her, and she'll be as good as any Ranger out of basic." Again, Tank smiled, like he was gonna get some easy money.
"How much," he asked. "Twenty?"
"Fifty," I replied. "Fifty G's." When we play, we play.
"Perfect," he said rubbing his hands together. "This here's gonna be like taking candy from a baby."
Bobby and Lester had taken over for us and I'd just dropped Tank off. I was planning to head home and get some sleep, and to think more about how I was gonna teach Steph. Then I heard the call come over the scanner. Shots fired, corner of St. James and Dunworth. That was where Stephanie lived. I tore out of the parking garage and headed towards Stephanie's. I was jumping out of my car just as I heard the first siren. By the time they got to the parking lot I was already up the stairs and through her door, gun out and ready.
I saw her, huddled over the phone, and a dead man on the other side of the room. Doing a quick check of the apartment, I found Ramirez climbing in the window. Wasn't this interesting. I wanted to get back to Stephanie, so I just stunned him and cuffed him to the fire escape. After all, I knew the police were only a few seconds behind me.
"Steph," I called lightly so as not to startle her. "Stephanie? Babe?" She just sat there, face blank, holding the phone. I went over to her, taking the phone out of her hand and picking her up. Then I took us out into the hall to wait for the cops to get there. Thirty seconds later they were in the hall with us and I directed them to the body in the apartment. Then I noticed the wetness on her thigh.
"Steph, were you shot?" I demanded.
"Shot?" she asked, obviously confused. "My leg hurts."
I flew down the steps to the ambulance. A trip to the hospital and seventeen stitches later, she had pulled out of her shock enough to talk to the police. I'd also gathered enough from the other cops that she was due the Robin Hood Sharpshooter's award. She'd shot Alpha five times in the heart, all within an inch of each other. Through her pocketbook. The doctors insisted that she be given her painkillers and antibiotics then, telling the police they could talk to her more when she woke up. After they'd left, I asked the doctors if I could take her home. Fine, they'd said, so long as I'd watch her through the night. I agreed and took her back to my apartment. One of them, at least.
I changed her out of the hospital gown into one of my shirts, as it was all I had handy, then lay her in my bed. It was one of the smallest of the apartments I had around town, with only one bedroom, but it was the most secure. The bedroom was small but there had been enough space in there for a nice reading chair. That was where I was planning on spending the night. Then I went to make a pot of coffee and grab a book before going back in to sit with her.
A few hours later I was in a half-doze, waiting for my watch alarm to go off to check on Steph again, when she started screaming. Sweeping the room with my eyes and my gun, I came to the belated conclusion that it was a nightmare. Stephanie had stopped screaming, and had rolled over to her side, sobbing into her pillow. I got up and went to her, picking her up and cradling her to my chest. For the next half hour she was crying into my neck before finally relaxing back into sleep, snuggling into me. That was, of course, when Tank walked in.
Settling her back into bed, I went out to the kitchen, shutting the door so as not to disturb Stephanie's sleep. Then I sat down and waited for Tank to start.
"You still wanna go through with the bet?" he asked with a cocky grin on his face. "Last chance to get out of it. Though I can see why you'd wanna spend six months in… close quarters… with her."
I didn't smile.
"She got shot," I told him but his smile didn't go away.
"She chickening out?" he asked.
"She also killed a man. Five to the heart, within an inch." That wiped the smile off his face immediately.
"First kill," I told him.
"Yeah," I paused, considering. "If she still wants this, we start in three weeks."