As The Worm Turns!
Disclaimer: Any character you recognize belongs to Janet Evanovich. I only borrowed them and will send them home when we're finished playing. The others are just figments of my imagination ... except maybe one.
A/N: This is my first attempt at Fanfic and it's not my fault. MagnificentSin made me do it. If you don't like this, please e-mail her! Seriously though, all comments and criticisms are welcomed. Thanks for reading!
Warnings: These characters are adults and think, talk, and act like adults. If you are easily offended or underage, please don't read any further.
As The Worm Turns!
Chapter 1: Live Bait
God, this is getting old. These distraction jobs used to give me such an adrenaline rush. Dressing up slutty and using my "feminine charms" to lure the skip out of a bar and into the waiting arms of Ranger and his Merry Men used to make me feel powerful. It used to make me feel like I was in control of something in my life. But recently the clothes have gotten skimpier, the bars have gotten seedier, and the skips have gotten sleazier. At the end of the night I just feel tired and dirty.
The last couple of jobs haven't gone well. One dirtbag dragged me out the back door of the bar instead of me taking him out the front. There was no cover out back and the skip almost got away. Ranger was NOT happy with me about that. Another skip made Bobby and Hal before they could move in. He pulled a knife out of his boot, determined that he was NOT going down easy. In the struggle to get him cuffed, his shield, me, managed to get a little cut that required 27 stitches, a blood transfusion, and 3 days in the hospital. Ranger wasn't happy about that situation, either. Nobody asked me how I felt about it. I, on the other hand, just can't wait for the cosmetic surgery to hide that scar! We're not even gonna talk about what my mother had to say on the subject!
What I've come to realize is that I have absolutely no control over a distraction job. Ranger and Company carefully choreograph the entire show, taking all the variables into consideration. They check out the site, deal with owners and staff, work out my cover and even choose my clothes. To them, it's like a fishing expedition. They know the fish they're going after, they choose the fishing hole, they have the rods, reels and tackle, and they have the bait, me. I am draped over a hook like a worm and dangled in the fish's face. The fish bites, they reel him in, it's a catch. But when something goes wrong, somehow or another, it becomes my fault. I can't figure out how that happens, because I'm never consulted about anything. Nobody ever asks the worm! Well, guess what? That's gonna change. This worm has turned!
I work full time for RangeMan now. Ranger made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and no, it's not what you're thinking. He offered me a job. It came with a contract and great pay and a benefits package that made even my mother happy. But what really sold me was the company vehicle and insurance that I don't have to sign over my first born to afford. I'd really miss Rex. So, half the time I do research and the other half I'm out in the field like the rest of the guys. We provide security services, both business and personal, work bond enforcement, do surveillance and takedowns. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I love my job. Part of the reason is that it's never boring and part is because I love all the guys I work with and part is, well, Ranger. But we're not going there right now. We'll save that discussion for later.
In keeping with RangeMan policy, I work out in the gym three days a week. Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, I hate it. Well true, I do. But I look better than I have in years. There's not an iota of fat on me and all my clothes fit. I just won't admit to anybody that it's the exercise. I've also been trained in hand to hand takedown techniques and have become good enough with my gun that I can always hit what I aim at. None of the guys object to having me watch their backs in the field and nobody demands hazardous duty pay when they're partnered with me ... any more. I have passed the RangeMan Quarterly Skills Evaluations in the top 15 of the company, nationally. Plus, Ranger hauls my ass out of bed four days a week to go run with him. I have, however, drawn the line at the bark and twigs diet. Nothing will make me give up my Ben & Jerry's or my TastyKakes. It's a religious thing.
Anyhow, these distraction jobs are not part of my contract with RangeMan. I do these jobs 'at will', although I've never refused to do one, and am paid for them as a sub-contractor. This means that I get a percentage of the take as opposed to a flat fee. My bank account has swelled to the point where I can pay all my bills, always have food in the fridge, and afford all the FMPs that my heart desires. Even Rex, the hamster, has benefited with a brand new, state of the art, multi-level Habitrail. The little guy is in hamster heaven. But, I'm starting to think that the money isn't everything.
So here I am, Stephanie Plum, the Bombshell Bounty Hunter, getting ready for yet another distraction job. I'm on my third coat of mascara. I should tell you that I use mascara the way other people use alcohol, for courage. The more courage I need, the more mascara I use. At the rate I'm going, I'm gonna have to start buying it in a 55 gl. drum. Black mascara, blue eyeshadow, and whore red lipstick are all part of the uniform for these jobs and I could probably put it on in my sleep. Not really something to include in a job resume, but hey, a talent is a talent. Right?
Ranger has provided my wardrobe for this evening's little soiree and I have to admit that he really outdid himself this time. We've argued back and forth endlessly, over the clothes. I say that I'm good enough that the clothes don't have to be non-existent. He says that if the clothes are tiny enough, I don't have to be good. We'll just have to see about that.
The tiny, frayed denim shorts he has chosen are so skimpy that they make regular "Daisy Dukes" look like part of a nun's habit. I can't even get the top button buttoned and I don't have any fat on me anymore. Honest! Enough butt cheek is hanging out that these shorts legally qualify as indecent and I'm really grateful that I let Lula talk me into a Brazilian wax last week. I can't even fit a thong under these things. Jeez! Who would have thought that Stephanie Plum would ever go commando?
The top is an equally modest little number. It's a tank top two sizes too small and ripped off about 2 inches above decent. If I lift my arms, you can see the underside of my boobs. Talk about advertising a product! I'm trying to make myself feel better by wearing a tiny little lace bra. The straps show, but the lace looks sexy and, after all, I have to have someplace to put the mic.
I finished off the get up with short black leather FM boots with 4" heels. They're gonna be hell on my feet, but if I get lucky, maybe I can lure this scuzzball out of the bar in record time and get the hell outta there. While I really doubt that's gonna happen, it never hurts to be optimistic.
I stood back to look at myself in the full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Okay, I am now absolutely convinced that in a previous life, Ranger must have run hookers on Stark Street. No, I take that back. This outfit gives Stark Street hookers a bad name. They have better taste. Just ask Lula.
On these kind of jobs, I'm always wired with a microphone and carry a panic button. Beats me where I'm gonna put that damn button. These shorts are so tight that if I put it in the pocket, the button'll be pushed down all the time. The panic button is appropriately named though, 'cause looking at myself, I'm panicked!
Ranger and I are definitely having words when this distraction job is over. Lots of words. Loud, too.
I put my robe on because I knew what would happen if I opened the door dressed like this. Ranger "enjoys" dressing me up like a working girl. He also likes to play with the merchandise a little. Oh, he's never done more than cop a feel and kiss me brainless, but I don't think he has a clue as to how that affects me. This may be a distraction job, but I'm not the one who's supposed to be distracted. That's something else that's gonna change, too.
I gave my sky high hair another shot of maximum hold hair spray and walked out of the bathroom in time to hear the locks on my front door turn. The man in question let himself in, as usual. He closed the door softly and leaned back against it, crossing his arms over his chest. That man does have the ability to take my breath away. Black pants, white dress shirt opened three buttons down, hair loose, sleeves rolled up, yum. Too bad he knows it, too.
"Not ready yet, Babe?" He gave me a small feral smile as he took in the robe.
"I'm ready. I just need the wire and my jacket." Tonight we're keeping it strictly professional, I thought. I won't be able to argue my points about the clothes if I'm letting him suck my brains out through my mouth.
I walked over to him and held out my hand for the mic. He just looked at me and raised an eyebrow. He reached out and took my outstretched hand, lifting it up to kiss first the palm and then the wrist, placing it around the back of his neck. His eyes never left mine as he took hold of the knot on my robe's belt and hauled me up against him. And just like that, all my resolution slipped away.
"You're all wrapped up like a present, Babe." He whispered seductively into my ear. "Do I get to open the package?" He put his hands on my shoulders and reversed our positions so that now, my back was against the door.
I still didn't say anything. I couldn't trust my voice not to squeak. Was I really able to fool myself into thinking that I could stand up to Ranger when just the sight of the man made my mouth go dry and my throat close up? Who the hell was I kidding?
He bent his head and gently brushed his beautiful pillow-soft lips back and forth over mine. When the tip of his tongue touched my lower lip, I just sighed and melted against him. I ran my hand through his silken hair and pulled him in for a kiss. It was all teeth and tongue and I barely felt him untie my belt and run his hands up to the neck of the robe. He slid his hands over my shoulders under the fabric and eased it off and down my arms, never breaking the kiss. My hands were at his waist now, and the robe caught on my elbows.
Ranger broke the kiss slowly and took a step back from me. His eyes ran from my face, down my body, leisurely taking in the outfit. I heard the soft groan that rumbled in his chest and when he brought his eyes back to mine their beautiful chocolate color had been replaced by glittering black. Oh holy hell, I recognized this look and I was in big trouble here .
His breathing was ragged, open mouthed and shallow. He splayed his fingers on the side of my neck, his thumb in the hollow at the botttom of my throat. Slowly he brought his mouth down to that tender spot where my neck met my shoulder. My eyes drifted shut and I gave myself over to the sensations. His tongue ran small, hypnotizing circles over the place and when he sucked the skin into his mouth, I gasped and my knees almost gave out. Too late I realized that he was marking me. He ran his other hand over my naked belly, brushing his knuckles over my skin and running his fingertips under the waist of the shorts. Now I was glad the shorts were so tight. If he had been able to get his hand inside, I really would have been a goner. He satisfied himself with massaging small circles on my stomach.
His magic fingers had the bra open and his hands cupped my breasts, kneading them, pinching and rolling my nipples until I thought I would scream. His mouth still worked on my neck, sucking and nipping here and there. He pushed the shirt up and lowered his mouth to my breast. He took my nipple into his mouth, laving it with his tongue then sucking it hard into his mouth. I'm pretty sure the whimpering sound I heard was coming from me. I fisted both my hands in his hair, holding him to me. He had put his thigh between my legs and that was the only thing holding me up. He gave the same attention to my other nipple then moved his mouth up to the swell of my breast and marked me there also.
He leaned away from me to admire his handiwork and gave me a small, satisfied smile. "Now you look the part, Babe. Used." He pulled the bottom of the shirt back down over my breasts. His voice was low and guttural as he muttered in my ear, "Lose the bra. You'll attract more customers."
Why this statement brought my out of my stupor, I'll never know. If he had slapped me, I couldn't have been more shocked. I just ... snapped. I put my hands on his chest and shoved with all my might. I know I took him completely by surprise. If I hadn't, I never would have been able to move him. As it was he only moved back a couple of steps.
"You're not my pimp, Ranger." I was suddenly so furious I was shaking. I glared at him as I struggled to straighten my clothes.
He snagged my wrist and pulled me closer, taking my face roughly in his other hand, forcing me to meet his eyes. "Sure I am, Stephanie. When you're working distractions, that's exactly what I am."
The son of a bitch! The bastard! I literally saw red and heard a rushing sound in my ears. The hurt and anger I felt must have been written on my face. I know it severed any connection between my brain and my body. I couldn't breath. I couldn't speak. I looked up into that smug face and I did the only thing I could do. I slapped him as hard as I could.