This story is adult in nature and should only be read by those over the age of 17,therefore SMUT WARNING - that said, enjoy it. It's a fairly long piece and I'll post it all today and tomorrow. Please review and let me know what you think as I'm nice enough to post it as one file!

Key : Stephs texts will be in bold and Rangers will be in Italics. :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Janet Evanovich's stories or characters, I get no profit from playing with her characters, I just want Ranger.

The Cell Phone

­Prologue

I let out a frustrated shriek as my cell phone spluttered and died once more. It's been doing it on and off for the past week - ever since I took that unexpected swim in the park's pond. Stupid Freddy Legisi.

Freddy Legisi was an FTA – that's failed to appear in bounty hunter lingo, pretty cool huh? Unfortunately, being able to talk the bounty hunter talk doesn't seem to give me automatic ability to walk the bounty hunter walk. Sure, I sound cool, but then I try to actually apprehend someone…and I end up in the pond.

It's not fair. My mentor, and tormentor, Ranger never ends up in ponds. Or maybe he does and nobody dares talk about it. He's not the type of person you gossip about, he's the type of person you drool about. Many of my fantasies start with Ranger taking off his…nevermind.

I've always had fantasises; when I was a kid I wanted to be Peter Pan so that I could fly. After a plummet and some scraped knees, I changed my ambition to being a Galactic Princess with a cool cape and a wicked weapon. After my tea-cloth cape got stuck on some barbed wire, I decided to be Wonder Woman. She's kick-ass, and she gets that invisible plane. Unfortunately I only had a cardboard box…and everyone could see it. So, eventually my fantasises grew and changed - and I live in hope that one day I'll marry Indiana Jones.

Sadly Indy has yet to propose to me, in fact the only proposals I've had in my life were from Dickie Orr, who shall henceforth be known as the Lying Cheating Horse's Ass, and Joseph Morelli. Morelli isn't like Orr; he's a good man and a damn fine cop. And he has buns of steel.

Ranger also has buns of steel. And he also has a truly huge…pair of hands. Huge. And he knows how to use them too.

And this is my dilemma. See, Joe wants to, maybe, at some point in the future, to possibly get married, and maybe, just maybe, have kids together.

I'm not sure what Ranger wants, but I'm pretty sure it's carnal.

Both men profess to love me, and the sick thing is, I think I love them both. I've tried eeny meeny miny mo but I still couldn't pick.

Joe's been in my life a long time; he played choo choo with me when I was six and stole my virginity ten years later. Ranger is a fairly new element to my life, and since I started bounty huntering he's been watching over me like a muscley, sexy, Cuban guardian angel. Who may or may not have a chop shop in his garage.

But I'm not sure whether he really does or doesn't have a chop shop because I've never been to his house; as far as I know very few people have – it's as elusive as a blue moon, and people probably get welcomed into it just as often.

But I'm thirty-two now, and occasionally my biological clock ticks so loud I start twitching; sometimes it makes me feel broody, but mostly I just turn up my music and let Godsmack drown out the irritating tick tock.

Now, both men would willingly help me with my clock problems; Joe by marrying me and getting me pregnant, Ranger by buying me a cat.

I had a dog for a while, and I loved him, but he needed a lot of walks, and he did the biggest piles of dog doody you've ever seen. So mostly I was glad I had a hamster, and relieved I didn't have children; if I couldn't handle a dog, what chance did I have with kids?

My mother didn't like this viewpoint. I live, and was raised in, the Chambersburg section of Trenton, New Jersey. And in the Burg you married at twenty and had children every other year for the next ten, whilst cooking perfect 6lb rump roasts, being a devout Catholic, and running a couple of charities. Being an unmarried bounty hunter who finds dead bodies, explodes cars, and burns down funeral homes is a big no no.

For years my mother warned me to stay away from those Morelli men – but when she realised Joe might be my last chance for marriage, her tune changed as swiftly as a brisk wind, leaving me with a permanent grimace on my face.

As I stared at my broken phone, I felt my face slide into that familiar expression. Why me?


Chapter One

I hate technology. I recently invested in an apple thingy to check my email, and psycho Clyde-the-webmaster started emailing me. Not nice emails. I always have psychos after me; it's a Stephanie Plum fact of life. I've long since resigned myself to the truth that I am just not normal.

Which is possibly why I wasn't overly alarmed when the locks on my door started tumbling open.

I should probably lunge for my gun and stand menacingly in front of my door, gun poised. But half of Trenton knows I don't actually put bullets in my gun. So not only would it be an empty gesture, it would be a futile one too. Besides, even if my gun was loaded I doubt I'd shoot the intruder…people died that way. And killing people is one of those things that makes my mom iron the toilet paper and threaten to retract a lifetime supply of upside down pineapple cake.

Upside down pineapple cake was one of my favourite things, so I tried not to kill people too often. Yeesh, I sound so blasé, but the truth is, a few months ago I was standing in a playground surrounded by host of dead bodies, so you've either gotta shrug and move on, or you break down and go crazy.

Some would argue that the man who stepped through my now-unlocked door was a prime candidate for a case of the crazies, but I think they're just freaked out by the rock-hard granite body that's covered by all those tight black clothes…and possibly the huge mag-light that he occasionally carries.

Sometimes Ranger scares people. Heck, up until a while ago, Ranger scared me too. I'm not exactly sure when I got over it, but I think it was around about the time we cohabited for a few days: I've seen him bleed, sleep, eat and laugh. So I'm pretty sure that he's a human.

Ranger was looking at me with an amused and slightly quizzical expression on his face. 'Looking a bit crazy Babe.' He said.

'My phone broke.' I explained. Not that that made any sense, but Ranger's lips twitched upwards in amusement.

'The pond?'

I sent him a Burg glare, and his almost-smile grew into a proper smile.

I sighed, 'yeah.'

'Babe, Freddy Legisi is seventy two.'

'He's wily.' I said in my defence, crossing my arms across my chest.

'Old people are like that.' Ranger agreed, humour dancing in his chocolate eyes. 'I brought food.' He said, holding up a bag.

'Salad?' I asked suspiciously.

'Chinese.'

For the first time since I got up, I smiled. Chinese was just what I needed. 'Thanks.'

'Sure.'

We settled down onto my couch, munching at our food, watching the news.

'So,' I said, when I'd finished snarfing down the much-needed grease. 'What's up?'

Ranger and I were friends, but we didn't hang out or call each other just to chat, there always tended to be a reason. Normally Ranger was saving my ass, but sometimes I helped him out too.

'Distraction.' Ranger said.

'When?'

'Not sure, sometime this week. Can you keep 8 – 2 clear for the next few days?'

'8am – 2 pm?' I said hopefully.

'Pm to am.' Ranger corrected.

I sighed, 'Sure.' What else would I be doing? I have no life. Especially since Joe and I are having one of our time outs.

'You have a life.' Ranger disagreed softly.

'I have a train wreck.' I muttered.

'Babe.'

We sat silently on my sofa for a while, until I sighed and let my head rest on Ranger's broad shoulder. Just like always.


Chapter two

I woke up alone in my bed; wearing my panties and the same strap top that I'd been wearing last night. Less than an a year ago, if I had fallen asleep on Ranger he would have left me on the couch in my clothes, sure he would have given me a blanket, but that was it. Now he stripped me down till I was barely decent and put me to bed.

I guess sleeping with someone changes the boundaries. Not platonic sleep either - there wasn't room for a whole lot of that when Ranger spent the night in my bed. He was every sexual fantasy I'd ever had…except the morning after. He rates about the same with Joe for morning afters.

After Joe had stolen my virginity, I'd seen his best parts as he'd pulled up his trousers and fled out the door. A lot of years later, and Ranger didn't flee exactly, but there was no encore performance and no whispered promises or endearments. He just told me that I needed to sort things out with Joe and then, with a whirl of his cape, Batman was gone. Ok, there was no actual cape whirling, but it came close.

Unfortunately, the whole working-things-out-with-Joe idea didn't turn out to be the best advice I've ever been given. It rated alongside 'Life's a bitch and then you die' – it sounds flashy, but when you get down to it, it just doesn't actually help all that much. In fact, it's pretty damn worthless.

Like this bread I'm eating. Somehow I've managed to stagger to the bathroom and out to the kitchen to food. And now I'm munching away on worthless white bread with nothing on it. I need to go grocery shopping. I ate a Tastycake and then something shiny caught my eye.

Resting on my kitchen side was a slim, shiny, brand new, black, flip phone. I gaped at it and then cautiously moved closer. There was a note under it, and I relaxed as I recognised Ranger's handwriting.

Babe,

It's the latest camera phone - your number's the same. I'm speed dial one, Morelli is two, Lula is three, Mary Lou is four, and your parents are five. I didn't give you the manual because you'd never read it.

I thought about getting indignant over the lack of manual; but Ranger was right. I never read manuals. Valerie reads manuals; I press all the buttons and hope I don't break it. It usually works just fine.

I opened the phone and started pressing buttons.

Moments later I found myself flicking through my lists of contacts that Ranger must have programmed in. I'd just reached the Ms:

Mary Lou

MM – Tank

MM – Lester

MM – Bobby

MM – Junior

MM – Cal

MM – Hal

MM – Hector

MM - Al

Mom

OMG! He's given me the numbers of his men! I inspected his note and, turning it over, the flowing writing continued:

Yeah Babe, I gave you the Merry Men's numbers. If you have problems and you can't get in contact with me, then I want you to call them for help. Just don't give their numbers out…not even to Lula.

I had to grin at that, I bet he wanted to write 'especially not to Lula'. I scanned down to the rest of the note,

Try to keep this phone out of the hands of wily FTAs, apart from that, it's pretty indestructible. - R

I smiled at my new cell phone, it was pretty and black and it was from Ranger because I'd gone crazy yesterday over the death of the last phone. No matter what you say about Ranger, you can't deny he's a great friend.

I pressed the red button a few times, trying to click back; I was curious as to what background would pop up. Moments later my jaw hit the floor.

It was a picture of Ranger.

With no shirt on.

And wet hair.

I think I may have just had a small orgasm.

I sat staring at my phone for a lot of minutes, hours even. I wiped the drool from my chin and navigated my way through the phone's complicated menu system. Eventually I reached 'Write text message'.

It took me a while to get used to the predictive text, but eventually I managed to write:

Hey Ranger, thanks for the phone, I really appreciate it. Babe x

I hesitated a moment, then I pressed send.

My other phone had had a really shitty contract and text messages were really expensive, so I'd never bothered with it before. But it was actually kinda fun.

I dried my hair and applied war paint, startled when I realised it was nearly lunch time - I really had spent a lot of time drooling.

Beep Beep Beep.

Ooh! My heart started pounding a tiny bit faster and butterflies decided to take up residence in my tummy. I knew it was silly to get so excited about a txt message, but I knew it must be from Ranger, no one else ever texted me.

The screen read:

One message received.

I clicked the green button and sure enough, the message opened.

Hey Babe, no worries. Did you like the picture? - R x

My heart was thumping like crazy, oh hell yeah I liked the picture! Hmm…interesting that he gave me a kiss in the txt message and not the note. Probably because I gave him a kiss in my message.

I spent half an hour trying to work out a suitable answer to his question, and after all that thought, my reply now read:

Yum.

That was it. That was the whole message. I couldn't think of anything else, and to be honest – it was exactly what I thought about the picture.

I shrugged, took a deep breath and pressed send.

Message sent.

Oh no! Come back, I've changed my mind; I don't want to say that! I want to say, 'nice' or 'cool' or…oh shit. Too late.

I stood at my door, hyperventilating.

Beep Beep Beep. I scrambled to my phone and opened up Ranger's speedy reply.

;) Glad you enjoyed it – R x

I laughed out loud at the winky face…I could just picture him winking at me, just like he had at the Bluebird Café – I had nearly fallen off the chair in shock.

I wasn't sure whether I should reply or not, I'm not up to scratch on txting 101, so I gave a mental shrug and replied anyway.

LOL. Definitely, it's very enjoyable. Have a good day. Babe x

I put my phone in my bag and headed off to the office, smiling happily.