The Truth

"Tell me the truth, Ranger," she said.

The truth was, Steph had changed a lot in the past year. That I'd always wanted her, but that now, I wanted her even more. And I was too chicken-shit to do anything about it.

When Steph had broken things off with Morelli for the last time, she'd spent a week in her apartment – not answering the door or the phone for anybody. Then she'd called me, and told me that it was time for her to get serious, and that I was going to teach her everything she wanted to know. And if I didn't like it, tough. So I taught her and pushed her and gave her the skills she needed to survive. Then I'd hired her, full time.

Lester and Bobby were partners, and Tank had partnered with Cal. That left me without a partner. One of RangeMan's strictest rules is that you always work in pairs, no matter what. There was a good reason for it, so I wasn't going to exclude myself from that rule. Early on, one of my men went after a skip. He'd gotten shot and passed out. He'd bled to death because nobody was there to call an ambulance.

At first, the guys didn't take Steph seriously. They would never say anything about it to her face, but they would make snide remarks behind her back. I'd had women work for us before, but never full time – never as somebody's partner. They all thought that she was fucking me, and so I was pandering to her. Indulging her by letting her play at security work. I couldn't do anything about it or it would confirm some of their thoughts. I had to let Steph handle it, and I was beginning to wonder what was taking her so long to do so. It all came to a head about a month and a half after I'd hired her, over a year since she'd started seriously working on her skills.

It was at a full staff meeting when somebody had finally made a remark where she could hear it. It seemed that that was what she had been waiting for. She whipped around, looking at the guy who had been stupid enough to say it where he knew she would hear. Or stupid enough not to realize she'd hear it.

"So you think I'm just a piece of ass?" she'd asked in an arch tone. Everybody froze. "Well, I have a hundred dollars that this piece of ass can thoroughly kick yours. Anybody want to take me up on it?"

They all smiled like idiots, seeing only her slim stature and that she was a woman and comparing it to the tall, bulky man.

"Come on," she'd goaded, then switched to a pout. "Won't anybody play?" It had been a struggle to hide my smile. I didn't want to ruin it for her. She dumped the chips out of a bowl, and passed it round. Everybody took out their wallets and put in their money, even Tank and Lester and Bobby and Cal, who knew I hadn't hired her because we were sleeping together. I was the only one who didn't. When it got back to her, she smile and quickly wrote out a check for five thousand dollars, putting that in the bowl, too.

"I don't wanna hurt you, little lady," David, the smart-alek who'd made the comment, said. "Wouldn't want to get in trouble with the boss."

"I've got another thousand, cash, that says you won't be able to lay a finger on me. That's just you and me. I wouldn't want to take too much of everybody else's money," she'd said to him.

"Boss?" David asked. I was a little worried that she'd lose that bet, but I figured she'd make it up with winning the match.

"Have at it. Nothing from me if you hurt her. No weapons, no broken bones."

Steph turned to me with a smile and winked and they laid their cash on the table. The other men had been busy moving the tables away and forming a circle.

"You ready, little lady?" David asked.

"What are you waiting for?" And they began.

They started circling each other, and David started on the feints. She didn't fall for them. Then he started closing in, but Steph was too fast. She blocked and ducked and squirmed out of range, all without him touching her, or even coming close. Then she started goading and insulting. She went for everything from his mother to his girlfriend to his dick. All of the guys were yelling and cheering and hooting by this time, and David was starting to succumb to the anger her taunts were instigating. Which was, of course, just what she wanted. David was starting to tire, but Steph was just warming up. For more than a year now, I'd tossed her around the mat daily for more than two hours, teaching her everything I knew. She was good enough now that it wasn't a sure thing, which one of us would win.

Then David charged, hoping to catch Steph off-guard and tackle her to the floor. He didn't. She stepped out of the way at the last second, ducking under his outstretched arms and tripped him while she gave him a solid hit to the back of his neck. He fell like a bag of dirt, and stayed down.

"Yield?" Steph asked. When there was no response, she said that she would take that as a yes and went to collect her winnings. I smiled.

"Anybody else think I'm just a piece of ass?" she asked. There was no response.

"No?" she said in mock surprise. "Then you'll stop making those snide remarks, you'll stop belittling me, you'll stop insinuating that I'm stupid and don't know what the hell is going on and shouldn't be telling you what to do, and you'll stop saying that I'm leading Ranger around by his cock. Understood?" she asked. There was just a stunned silence.

"Understood?" she said again in a more forceful tone. The guys all let out a grunt of agreement.

"Good job, babe," I told her.

"Thanks," she said with a big smile on her face, counting her money.

"Need anything for a while?" she asked. I shook my head.

"Good. I'm going shopping. There's this great pair of shoes I saw the other day at Macy's," she told me.

"Apparently," I said. "Some of us have been a little lax about training. We'll have to correct that, starting tomorrow. At 04:00."

I heard Steph laughing as she walked out the door. She'd brought back the shoes and a dress and showed them to me. And I'd seen a Victoria's Secret bag. I had wet dreams about Steph and those shoes and that dress for a week.

It was a few weeks later when we were sitting in my Bronco waiting for a skip to show. It was two in the morning, and it didn't look like he'd be coming up for air anytime soon. Lester and Bobby were supposed to be here in about two minutes to take over for us. I shifted his gaze over to Steph, intending to tell her we'd be packing it in for the night, when she stretched her arms above her head and rolled her neck.

That's when I noticed it. She wasn't wearing a bra. And she was doing it very well. I could feel my jaw go slack, but I couldn't do anything about it. Now that I'd noticed I couldn't tear my eyes away.

And she'd noticed I'd noticed. Grinning, she arched her back a little and purred.

"See something you like, Ranger?"

Hell yeah, I saw something I liked. Something I liked a lot.

"The skip, Ranger. Look for the skip," she teased me, glancing out the window.

"Ranger, the skip," she said again.

"Don't worry, babe. Lester and Bobby are gonna take over in a minute."

"No, Ranger. The skip. He's right there," she said opening the car door. By the time I saw the skip, she had already slipped out and was running towards the guy. I got out and headed the other way, planning to cut him off if Steph didn't get him, a strategy so long in use it was second nature to us both. First one out went after him directly, the other waited for him to be flushed out. Even knowing she was there, I couldn't tell Steph from the shadows she walked in, but I had no doubt that she would do her part. We had been working together for too long for doubts.

I had just gotten into place when I heard him coming. I knew that I wouldn't hear Steph, just like she wouldn't hear me. But I could feel her coming, so strongly I was surprised that the skip couldn't feel it.

Then I heard her say, "Bond Enforcement. Hands up and turn around slowly."

Instead, he did just what we'd thought. He sprinted away from her. Right into me. He was on the ground and cuffed in seconds. My foot on his back, I turned to Steph and saw her coming towards me, hips swaying and a sinful smile on her face.

She was opening her mouth to say something when we both heard a twig snap. We both instantly went on alert, pulling our guns out and looking towards the noise. Then Lester and Bobby came into view and we both relaxed.

"Glad you're here, boys," Steph said putting her gun away. "You can take this guy to the station for us."

They looked at her skeptically.

"Why would we do that?" Lester asked.

"Because I told you to," she said. Steph was still a little angry that they had bet against her.

"Besides," she continued. "We've been here for the past six hours, and you just got here. We're tired, and we have to get up at five tomorrow morning. You can take him to the station for us." With that, she bent down and grabbed one of the skip's arms. I took the other and we hoisted him up. That was when they noticed her braless state. She didn't play with them like she had with me. She told them to stop drooling and shoved the skip in their direction. Then she walked away in the direction of the car, leaving us to trail haplessly in her wake.

"So," she said when the skip was safely tucked away in Lester's Bronco and the two of us were on our way. "You never answered my question." She took my right hand from the steering wheel and brought it to her lap, holding it with one hand and stroking it with the other.

"Tell me the truth, Ranger."

The truth was, Steph had changed a lot in the past year. That I'd always wanted her, but that now, I wanted her even more. And I was too chicken-shit to do anything about it.

"You couldn't handle me, babe," I said.

"That's not true, Ranger," she said bringing my hand up to her chest. "Do you like that? Do you like that I'm not wearing anything under this shirt? Do you like that there's only one thin layer of cotton separating your hand from me?" she purred. "I do."

"You don't want to start this, babe," I said. I could hear that my voice was lower, gruffer, and I almost involuntarily closed my hand around her breast. She was getting to me. We had gotten to the RangeMan garage, and I threw myself out of the car and towards the elevator. She laughed a wicked laugh and followed.

"Now that's not true, either. You want to know what I think's true?" she asked, getting into the elevator with me.

"What." She backed me into the corner before she started to speak.

"I think the truth isn't that I can't handle you. I think it's that you're afraid you can't handle me." Then she kissed me, and the elevator doors opened, and she walked out.

Looking back over her shoulder, she said one last thing.

"You want to know what else is true? I'm not wearing any panties, either."

God, I was screwed.