Hey, thank you for checking this one out.
I'm not sure how it happened, I guess I'll blame the gin again.
I hope you like it. I welcome your reviews either way…
And no, the title is no indication of where the story is going, it's just one of those Bon Jovi songs forever tattooed in my brain and I thought they make for great titles. Shows you how much I know.
Cupcakes will probably not like the story, but not for the usual reasons. You were warned.
Stayce, start a tab, Ranger will pay it for me…in any way you like.
Warning: Character death, angst, broken fingernails, the works!
Disclaimer: If Mickey had wings, he'd be Donald Duck…I own nothing. Not even Jon Bon Jovi.
Rating: R for adult language and situations
Living on a Prayer
You never know when you've seen someone for the last time until it's too late.
And I've learned that as much as you dread something happening, it can happen at any moment.
The truth is, when something bad happens to me, I go with denial. That way, I can avoid the initial shock and after some time has passed, the memory is a little faint.
My name is Stephanie Plum, and I'm a thirty-three year old bond enforcement agent, better known as a bounty hunter. I work for my cousin Vinnie who bails people out of jail for a share of their bail, and when they fail to appear for their court date, I find them.
I have my own apartment, but back then, I was spending more time at my boyfriend's house. Joe Morelli was a Trenton cop and I'd known him all my life. He'd inherited a 3-bedroom row house from his aunt Rose that was a lot bigger than my 1-bedroom apartment.
I'd been scared to admit I loved him, but after I'd gotten over that, we'd grown into a very comfortable relationship with great sex. When I was at Joe's, I shared the space with our big dog Bob and my hamster Rex. We were a happy little family. Joe and I had agreed that while we loved each other, we were in no hurry to get married, even though both our traditional families were pushing us. We were happy the way we were.
The last time I saw Joe, he was leaving for work and I wanted him to stay. I'd put my arms around his neck and held on, lowering my lashes and focusing my eyes on his mouth, the way he liked it.
It was 8:30 in the morning, he was showered and shaved and smelled heavenly. His hair was still damp from the shower and curled around his ears, a sure sign that he needed it cut. I was still in bed, scary hair and unpainted face.
His chocolate-brown eyes focused on mine before they closed when he gave me a kiss.
Lots of tongue, hands in all the right places. It reminded me of the previous night and I was once again glad I'd stayed.
But when he pulled away, I knew he would leave.
Joe had grown up. As a teenager or young adult, he would have fallen back into bed with me and would have forgotten all about work. But Joe was a cop now, and a good one at that. Somewhere between his years in the Navy and his 30th birthday, he'd grown responsible.
"You know I'd love nothing more than to stay, Cupcake. But this case I'm working on is kicking my ass, and if I don't catch up on the paperwork by noon, I might never get to it."
Regret was showing on his face, and I had no doubt he'd meant what he'd said.
"Raincheck?" He asked with a last peck on the lips. "I'll bring home dinner and we can eat it in bed…" He was smiling at the thought.
I agreed, but had to tease him with one last kiss that showed him exactly what he was missing. He moaned into my mouth and detangled himself from me with some effort.
"I'll try to leave early…" he whispered. Then he tousled my hair and walked out.
"Bob has peed and eaten, he's all set." He said over his shoulder before he left the bedroom.
"Thanks!" I blew him a kiss and fell back onto the mattress.
The next time I woke up, it was after 10. The day had started without me. I groaned, threw back the covers and waddled into the bathroom.
A half hour and a shower later, I felt more like a human being and went downstairs to make coffee and have breakfast.
And then the phone rang and my life as I knew it ended.
It was Eddie Gazarra, a good friend of mine and uniformed Trenton cop. We see each other a lot when I bring skips back into the custody of the police. Eddie didn't call me too often, unless I was working on a case that the police were interested in as well and he had a tip for me. I wasn't working on any of those cases at the time.
"Steph, are you at home?" He asked. Well, since he'd called Joe's land line, chances were good that I was home, but I knew what he'd meant.
"I'm gonna be over in about twenty minutes, wait for me, okay?"
"What's this about, Eddie?" He had me worried.
"I can't tell you over the phone. I'll be right there, Steph." And he disconnected. I stared at the receiver for a moment and got a squishy feeling in my stomach. Like something bad was going to happen.
Eddie pretty much confirmed my premonition when he got out of his car. I had been waiting for him and opened the front door as soon as I saw him, holding Bob back by his collar so he wouldn't rush out and jump up on Eddie. Eddie's face was expressionless, the cop face as I like to call it. Eddie's face had never been expressionless as long as I'd known him.
He led me inside and pushed me onto the couch in the living room, then he squatted down in front of me.
"Steph, there's no easy way to say this. I wanted to be the one to tell you, because you deserve that much. Joe's been shot, honey."
I sucked in some air. "Is he okay, Eddie?"
I tried to jump up to grab my purse and drive to the hospital, but Eddie held me back.
"No, Steph, that's why I'm here. He died on the scene. He's gone, Steph." Eddie said softly.
And with those words, my entire world fell apart. The only possible explanation was that it was Eddie's idea of a joke, or possibly Joe's.
"That's not funny, Eddie." I said toneless but I knew he hadn't been kidding. He wrapped his arms around me as I was trying to make sense to what he'd said. It didn't work.
"No." was al I could say, over and over again.
When Eddie left, I went through the motions like a robot. I filled Bob's food bowl to the rim and grabbed my keys. I drove on auto-pilot to my apartment and locked myself into my bedroom.
For the next 48 hours, I went through all the emotions known to man. I screamed my lungs out. I cried my eyes out. I ignored the phone and the door bell and didn't leave the bed. I knew people came over because every now and then, I'd hear knocking on my bedroom door.
But nobody asked me to identify Joe's body. I didn't know what had happened; I didn't care at the time. I just wanted it to not be true.
After I was hoarse from screaming and crying, I just went numb. I curled up in the fetal position in bed and didn't move.
Since I hadn't eaten or drunk anything, I didn't even have to go to the bathroom; I could stay in bed forever. I didn't have a plan or anything; I could just not face reality, if that reality didn't have Joe in it.
Probably I would have stayed like that until I would have died of thirst. Or possibly a broken heart. Maybe both. I was told later it had been three days, I had no sense of time.
All I know is suddenly, the covers were pulled away from me and I was lifted up. Then cold water was raining down on me. When I opened my eyes, I realized I was naked and in the shower. I yelped and tried to get out of the tub, but strong hands were holding me in place. Everything registered in slow motion. I sputtered because water ran down my throat through my open mouth.
The water became warmer and the stopper was put in the tub. I knew who the hands belonged to, and it made me angry that he didn't respect my privacy.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" I screamed, trying to free myself from his grip.
"Trying to show you you're still alive," Ranger said calmly and pushed me down into the tub.
"How dare you…" I started but the just ignored me as he poured shampoo into his palm and began washing my hair.
After a few minutes I gave up struggling, because I was exhausted and had gotten water and shampoo in my mouth, but accomplished nothing.
Under any other circumstances, the situation would have been hilarious. Ricardo Carlos Manoso, street name Ranger, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds of taut muscle, kneeling in front of my tub, bathing me like a toddler. When I told Mary Lou about it weeks later, she thought it was the sexiest thing she'd ever heard. It didn't feel sexy to me. Ranger was a fellow bounty hunter, but unlike me, he was very good at it. He'd been my mentor for years and my friend for almost as long. He'd saved my life countless times and had helped me out in many other ways as well.
I was just angry. Angry at Ranger for overstepping his boundaries, ignoring my pain and treating me like a child. Angry at the world for not ending. Angry at Joe for leaving me. Angry at myself because I was blaming Joe for dying.
Ranger rinsed me off and lifted me out of the tub. He wrapped a towel around me and pushed me to sit on the toilet. And I let it happen. There had been no reaction from him when I'd yelled at him earlier, and now my throat was sore and honestly, I didn't care.
When Ranger reappeared, I hadn't even noticed he had left. He took the towel from me and pulled a clean sweatshirt over my head, before lifting me up so I could step into a pair of sweats. I wanted to push him away, tell him I could do it myself, but I couldn't muster up the strength to talk. My eyes just focused on the wall and I let Ranger dress me like a doll.
"You want something to eat, babe?" He asked, but it took me a while to understand the meaning of his words. I hadn't eaten in days and I wasn't hungry. I never wanted to eat again.
I shook my head slowly, never meeting his eyes.
"Let me put it this way, you're going to eat now," he explained.
When I didn't move or comment, he pulled me up by my arms and led me out of the bathroom.
He'd obviously opened the bedroom window; the cold November air had cooled off the room when we walked through.
He put me into one of my dining room chairs and left for the kitchen. The thought of food made me gag. But I was too numb to move or object as Ranger placed a glass of water and a bowl of soup in front of me.
"Eat," he said, sitting down. I looked up at him for the first time. I'd expected his blank face, but instead, his eyebrows were touching in a deep frown.
"Please, Babe." He said, softer. His eyes were pleading.
I couldn't remember a time when I had to be begged to eat. I'd always had a healthy appetite. The smell of the soup wafted up to me and I got sick to my stomach. I made it to the bathroom just in time, only since I had nothing to throw up, I just dry-heaved for a minute.
When I was done, I was exhausted. I hadn't noticed Ranger following me, and I flinched slightly when his arms encircled me from behind and he picked me up. Instead of taking me over to the sink or back to bed, he just held me. I didn't think I wanted to be touched, but when his body heat seeped into me, I all but collapsed against him.
After a while, I realized he was stroking my hair while whispering to me softly. I had no idea what he was saying, but it felt soothing.
"Okay, let's try that one again," he finally said, pushing me away so he could look at me, "I'll go with a sandwich this time. But you will eat, babe."
He half dragged, half carried me back into the dining room. I drank the water and actually felt better after I forced down the peanut butter and olive sandwich he presented. I was touched Ranger was going through so much trouble for me, but it was as if the feeling didn't make it all the way to my heart.
"Can I go back to bed now?" I asked when I'd finished eating.
"No," Ranger said, "You spent the last three days there, you can't get back until the sheets are changed. This means laundry. And you need to go to the grocery store. Also, I'm sure your carpet wouldn't mind seeing a vacuum." He leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms over his chest.
I was trying to determine if he was kidding. No smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, not even the hint of one.
"Fuck you." I said and got up to go back to bed.
I didn't get far. Ranger got up and blocked my way. "I don't think so," He said softly, putting his hands on my arms to keep me in place. I stared at my feet.
"Stephanie, look at me," he said and put a finger under my chin to lift it up. I couldn't quite read the look in his eyes. There was concern, yes, but other emotions as well. I thought I saw some surprise as well.
"I know what you're going through," he said, shaking his head slightly when I tried to pull away, "And denial is not going to bring Joe back. Neither is hiding in here."
"I don't care." I pressed out. In fact, I couldn't come up with a single thing I cared about, other than being left alone.
"I care. I care enough for both of us, and I can't stand to see you like this." This was the most emotional thing Ranger had ever said to me.
"Joe is dead," I said, as if he didn't know. He nodded. "I know. But you are alive."
"Let me go." I tried again. I felt good to be held, but I didn't want to feel good. I wanted to crawl into bed and wake up four days ago. I would make Joe stay; he would simply not leave the house.
"Babe," Ranger said. He had the ability to speak volumes with just that one syllable.
"The funeral is today. Everybody said you wouldn't feel up to it, but I wanted it to be your choice."
One word got through to me: funeral. Joe's funeral. Joe was dead.
I drew in air in a giant gulp and would have crumbled to the floor if Ranger hadn't held on to me. I'd thought I was all cried out, but as I collapsed against Ranger's chest, big, racking sobs came out and the tears were flowing freely.
We stood like that for a long time. Ranger stroking my hair, his arms wrapped around me in a protective cocoon. Me, crying against his shoulder, holding on for dear life. We didn't say a word.
Eventually my sobs died down to a hiccup and I lifted my head.
"When is it?" I managed.
I nodded tiredly. "What time is it now?"
The corners of Ranger's mouth tilted up in an almost-smile as he lifted his hand and pushed a strand of hair away from my eyes. "Almost noon. You have plenty of time to decide."
I nodded again because it seemed like the right thing to do. There was no way I could decide. I just wanted to crawl back into my cave and hibernate. Reality can't reach you when you hibernate.
I was still leaning against Ranger for support in more than one way. Some smart part of me wanted to make a decision about going to the funeral. I'd been to enough funerals to know what to expect. Only I'd never been witness to a loved one being buried. Just the thought of it make my heart hurt physically. My worst fear however was that watching Joe's coffin being lowered into the ground would make his death real. I sighed, trying to imagine what Joe would want me to do. And I realized from now on, I'd always have to imagine what he would want me to do, he would never, ever, tell me again. This triggered another sob and Ranger's arms closed around once again.
"You can do this," he said, "You're strong. You will make it through this."
I shook my head against his chest, not believing any of it. But I had to go to the funeral. If it was the last thing I was going to do with my last bit of sanity intact, I had to go.
I took a deep breath and wiped my nose on my sleeve as I took a step back.
"I'll go," I said, focusing my eyes on the wet spot my tears had formed on Ranger's black t-shirt.
"You sure you up for it?'
I nodded weakly. No, of course I wasn't sure. I was thinking with the last bit of brain that I still had some control over. Most of my being had been taken over by despair. Probably my version of grief.
Ranger held on to my elbow when I went back into my bedroom and gathered up some clothes.
I had stepped out of my body and was watching me go through the motions. The clothes would have to be black, that's what you wear to funerals. Joe would want it to be something sexy, except he'd know his family was going to be there and he wouldn't want to shock them. He would recommend the plain black business suit that I'd never worn. Its skirt came down almost to my calves and the jacket buttoned up almost to my collar bone. I grabbed some underwear and slipped into the bathroom, clutching the clothes to my chest. Ranger sat down on my bed when I closed the door.
I had done the ritual often enough, I didn't need to think about it. Clean up, brush teeth, dress, do hair, put on make-up. I never looked at myself in the mirror once.
When I was done, I sat down on the toilet, trying to figure out if I was doing the right thing. I realized I had no idea what the right thing was.
I jumped when there was a knock on the door. "Babe?" I heard Ranger call. "Yeah," I responded.
I should have said 'I'm fine', but I wasn't. I didn't think I would ever be fine again.
Ranger knocked on the door again and when I didn't say anything else he opened it and came in. He picked me up wordlessly and led me out the door. He pushed me onto my bed and turned towards my closet, picking out shoes. I felt like I was still watching the scene from far away.
Ranger knelt down in front of me and slipped the shoes on. Black pumps. Decent heels.
He looked up at me and ran his thumb over my cheek bone.
"You're good to go?"
I opened my mouth, but no sound came out. I didn't know the answer to the question. The only thing I felt good enough to do was fall back into my bed and hide under the covers.
Ranger didn't push me for an answer; he took my hands to help me up and then put one of his hands on the small of my back and pushed me forward. On the way, he grabbed my shoulder bag and grabbed my keys. He locked the door and kept nudging me until we were in the elevator. I was more than willing to give up all control to him.
We rode over to the funeral home in complete silence. I had nothing to say. My hand was on the door handle before the car had stopped.
"I'm going alone," I said.
"I'll go with you," Ranger said.
I shook my head. "Everybody I have ever known will be in there. I don't want to go through it alone. But I definitely don't want to put you through it." I was hoping he'd get my meaning. For all intents and purposes, as far as the neighborhood both Joe and I had grown up in was concerned, we had been married. If I walked in with another man, whether he was 18 or 81, the wave of hatred would drown me.
"I'll give you a head start." Ranger said and turned off the engine.
I reached over and squeezed his hand. I wanted to thank him for understanding, but my throat felt too tight to speak.
The parking lot at Stiva's was already half full. The funeral home was no longer run by Constantine Stiva, as it had been for decades, since he'd gone over the edge and had eventually been sentenced to jail for probably the rest of his natural life. Still, he was alive. And the man who had helped me survive the trauma of being locked in a coffin by the psycho was dead. Life just wasn't fair.
I stalked up the front steps and blindly walked into the main room, one of the three rooms the departed were laid out it. I didn't need a program to know the drill. After the viewing, there'd be a requiem mass at church and then the funeral in the cemetery.
I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding when I entered the room. At the far end was the coffin. It was closed. I don't think I could have taken another step if it had been open. Walking slowly towards it, I remembered all the times Joe and I had been in this room together. Over the years, a lot of cases had led me here. Joe had either been working or protecting me. We'd spend a lot of time here. I felt new tears well up in my eyes and bit my cheek hard, ordering myself to keep it together.
Many rows of chairs had been set up; the first two were already filled. I recognized Joe's mother and grandmother from behind, I assumed the rest of the Morelli family were with them.
I walked forward numbly with my eyes on the floor and sat down without a sound. Still, I could feel eyes on me. I didn't look up to acknowledge anyone. There was nothing to say. I had no condolences to offer, and I didn't want to hear any.
A pair of shoes I recognized came into my line of vision; my mom stopped right next to me and put her hand on my shoulder.
"You need to be up there," she stage-whispered, "You need to pray and pay your respects." Her hand tightened around my shoulder when I didn't react. "You have to go." I knew she was right, but I just couldn't see how I would manage. Mom took my elbow and pulled me up, and then she put my hand in the crook of her arm and took me with her to the front. We knelt in front of the coffin, as was proper etiquette. Instead of a prayer, I had a silent conversation with Joe in my head. I couldn't get myself to touch the coffin, I was hoping to hear his voice, hoping he'd tell me everything would be okay, like he had so many times before.
When we got up to pay our respects, my eyes never left my hands, I couldn't look up. I murmured condolences; my mom did most of the talking. She stayed with me until we got back to my former seat.
Uniforms had filled up the entire back half of the room, every cop in the tri-state area seemed to be in attendance, along with Joe's entire Navy unit in their blue winter uniforms. I wished I'd seen Joe in his navy uniform, I knew he'd looked amazing.
Somehow, I made it through the next two hours. My dad, Grandma Mazur and my sister Valerie took their seats close to me at some point. I noticed because they hugged me, I didn't look up. Everybody spoke in hushed tones, nobody spoke to me directly.
There was wailing, it may have been Joe's mom, maybe his sister. Apparently they still had the strength to cry. It was warm in the room; probably there were too many people.
My dad appeared at my side and I looked up for the first time when he touched my elbow.
"Let's go, Sweetheart," he said softly, "Come with me, I'll drive you."
I nodded and held on to him. The situation had become too surreal; I was waiting to wake up from the nightmare.
The requiem mass was held at St. Anthony's church in the Chambersburg section of Trenton. Joe had been baptized here, and he received his first communion here.
I hadn't been in this church or any other for years. But I didn't feel guilty now, that would have taken too much energy.
My dad led me down the aisle and I couldn't help thinking that this is what I'd been dreaming of since I was a little girl, to be let down the aisle by my dad to a waiting husband by the altar. I could imagine Joe in his white Navy uniform that I'd thought of earlier, as handsome as ever, a shy smile on his face.
Black dots started dancing in front of my eyes and bells started clanging in my head. I slumped against my father.
My mother, sister and grandmother filed into a pew, my dad pushed me in after them and took his seat next to me. I looked up towards the altar, hoping to catch a glimpse of Joe again, but all I could see through the haze of my tears was his coffin. Altar boys were taking their positions, the priest appeared. Father Gabriel. He was decked out in all the usual vestments.
I tuned out and didn't listen to the mass; I knew what was being said. Words that were meant to comfort, but would only make me angry in my current state. I was here for Joe, he would want me here. He would want me to keep it together and not break down sobbing.
I tried to shuffle out the same way I'd come in, unnoticed and unnoticing. But I bumped into someone on my way and looked up as I mumbled an apology. It was Angie Morelli, Joe's mom. Her eyes met mine and they were red and cold. She looked tired and was leaning on her son, Joe's brother Tony. He didn't meet my eyes.
"You made Joe's life a living hell," Mrs. Morelli said and although her voice was soft, she couldn't have hurt me more with a slap in the face. My mom and grandmother sucked in air behind me. "He wanted a wife and a family and now, because of you, he will never have either." Angie Morelli continued.
I could see nodding heads out of the corner of my eye. I realized I had to say something, but I couldn't come up with a defense. Probably she was right. I was the reason Joe had never had kids.
My dad put his arm around my shoulder and led me away from the Morelli clan. After a few steps, we were surrounded by four tall, muscular men dressed in black. Ranger's Merry Men. Ranger ran a company called RangeMan LLC, handling everything from security over protection to bounty hunting, and his employees were well-trained ex-military. And now they were forming a protective circle around me. They thought I needed to be protected from Joe's family. I didn't want to tell them there was nothing they could do, if Mrs. Morelli said Joe's death was my fault, it would become the sacred truth in the 'Burg.
My dad drove us over to the cemetery, right in the middle of a never ending parade of cars; it looked like several hundred people had shown up. I didn't know where the rest of my family was, they were giving me my privacy. We didn't do outbursts of emotion in my family, and it always made us uncomfortable when someone else showed emotions. Probably they didn't know how to comfort me because I couldn't be comforted. What can you say to someone who has just lost their love? I didn't want to hear how good a man Joe had been and how much he'd be missed. I was the one who'd be missing him the most.
When we parked, I felt paralyzed. I had willed myself through the viewing and mass; I didn't think I could make it any further. My dad got out and opened my door, but then he just stood there, at a loss. I was staring at the dash of his Buick as people passed left and right of the car.
A familiar voice made me look up. "Babe."
Ranger was standing in the open door, holding out his hand. I took it and let him pull me out of the car. "I'll take her, Mr. Plum," Ranger said and I saw my dad nod. He stood back and watched as Ranger led me from the parking lot.
Rows of chairs were set up by the gravesite, but I couldn't make myself sit among Joe's family, not after what had been said in church. I wasn't welcome.
Uniformed police stood to on both sides of the coffin as an honor guard. A flag had been draped over the coffin. More uniforms assembled off to the side, carrying rifles. It all registered like I was watching the news on TV.
Ranger and Joe had been working together on some cases; they'd had respect for each other's work, if not for their respective methods. Joe had brought in RangeMan on a few cases where extra power had been needed. And Ranger had often needed Joe's police ties to make an investigation or a capture easier. I'd sometimes gotten the impression that they knew each other better than I knew them. Ranger was here to pay his respects, just like the rest of his merry men.
Ranger had taken over for my dad, leading me through the crowd of mourners to the left of the rows of chairs.
Father Gabriel approached Mrs. Morelli and talked to her for a few minutes. He looked up and motioned for me to come closer and Mrs. Morelli went rigid. Somebody sucked in air right behind me, probably my mom. I sent Father Gabriel a weak smile, hopefully saying I was okay where I was.
As soon as he started the eulogy, I felt myself choke up. I had never been good a funerals, but this time, I had no restraints. After a few minutes, I was bawling. Ranger put his arm around me, but I stepped away from him into my dad's arms. I was falling apart and all I could think about was how it would look if Ranger was comforting me at Joe's funeral. I knew Joe would understand, as much as I knew his family wouldn't.
My dad hugged me tight and squeezed a hanky into my hand. I was sobbing and shaking with the effort and oblivious to everything around me.
I thought I was able to get a grip when I heard "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" and I lost it again. I jumped when salute shots were fired, then I sobbed again as their meaning hit home. It was a final farewell from Joe's comrades.
By the time my sobs turned into sniffles and I was able to take deep, calming breaths, the service was over and the cemetery was clearing out. Everybody made their way past the Morelli family on their way out; probably they would all meet at one of the big halls in the burg for the proper Italian funeral food: everything. I hadn't even bothered to find out where the funeral feast would be happening. Wild horses couldn't drag me there. Probably Joe's Grandma Bella would put 'the eye' on me for killing her favorite grandson. The eye was an Italian form of voodoo, and the jury was still out on whether it was a real thing or not.
No one approached me, even though everyone knew my relationship to Joe.
When my dad tried to lead me away, I stepped back.
"Go ahead," I said, "I need a moment here. I'll get a cab later; I just need to be alone."
"It's okay, Mr. Plum. I'll take Stephanie home later," Ranger said from somewhere behind me.
Dad nodded and kissed my cheek. "Call me when you get home."
I hugged him and kissed his cheek as well. My mom squeezed my arm on her way by and made me promise to come to their house afterwards.
Soon, I was all alone at the grave. I knew Ranger was waiting for me in his car, he was giving me the space I needed.
The coffin had been lowered into the ground and the ceremonial handfuls of dirt had been thrown onto it, but the big mound of dirt was still waiting to fill in the grave. Probably Ranger had told the personnel to wait to finish up. It was getting dark, the few path lights didn't reach me.
I felt empty. I didn't know how to take the next breath. I wanted to be in the grave with Joe, I didn't want to keep breathing if Joe wasn't in my life.
Clutching a single red rose my mom had given me, I found myself standing at the edge and staring down at the mahogany coffin. Joe was in it. Joe was dead. I couldn't make myself let go of the rose and I didn't want to say goodbye. This goodbye would be forever, and I wasn't ready to let go.
Suddenly I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be with Joe. One step would do it.
Ranger appeared out of nowhere and caught me right before I fell.
"Let me go." I pressed out and struggled in his grip. He held tight and pulled me back.
I was pounding my fists against his chest, the tears flowing again. There was just one thought on my mind.
"Let me go." I said again and again, but my hands were getting weaker and weaker. My knees gave out and I sort of sunk into Ranger and dissolved into tears.
He picked me up and carried me over the graveyard to his car. I didn't want to fight him anymore, I just wanted to die.