I own none of these characters and make no profit
No spoilers, but terrible language
"But you promised!" I said, giving him a nudge to the arm.
I was whining. Full on, pray no one hears you like this, scrunch up your face like a little kid, whining. And frankly, it was necessary.
"Come on, Ranger. You promised."
"I said maybe."
I narrowed my eyes. "You did not!"
He cut his eyes to me, but then looked front again. He didn't say anything else. Apparently my whining wasn't nearly as amusing to him as it was to me.
This went on for a moment. Me: huffing and tapping my foot. Him: staring blankly ahead.
"Soooo…" I said. "Are we, like, doing something here?"
This time, he didn't even bother to glance at me. I tapped my foot some more. We had been in my apartment, sitting on the couch watching bad TV. Now we were in his RangeMan SUV, sitting on the side of the road, at one thirty in the morning. I had definitely been more comfortable on the couch.
"Helloo? When we left my apartment, you told me you were taking me to the Krispy Kreme place for doughnuts."
"My exact words were 'come on.' I didn't reveal a location."
"You didn't reveal…uggh!" I threw my hands up in the air. I was in a bitchy mood. A new Krispy Kreme place was open – a 24 hour place – and it was a wet dream of an doughnut shop. But I was a Burg girl, and Burg girls at their doughnuts at the Tasty Pastry. Hell, I was a former Tasty Pastry employee! That éclair counter made me blush to this day.
But I had to have a warm Krispy Kreme. I mean, I had to have it. They served them hot. Hot! The Tasty Pastry never served them hot.
It was traitorous. It was worse than traitorous
"So what are we doing here, if we're not getting me a doughnut?" I said. And please, for the love of god, let whatever we're doing involve a doughnut.
"We're doing surveillance," Ranger said.
I think I let out a squeak. Surveillance? Now? I thought this was a doughnut run. How many hours would I have to sit here? I was hungry, and I needed…
"Huh?" I was still mentally panicking.
"You'll get your doughnut, I promise."
"See? Now you promise. And you never break your promises, right?"
Ranger never showed a lot of expression on his face, but right now, I could see just enough to know that I was being a bit of a pain in the ass. Actually, it may have been more than just a bit. I may have been being a full-fledged pain in the ass. I may wake up in Somalia. But not without the doughnuts!
Headlights flashed behind us, and a second later, Lester climbed in the back seat.
"Okay," he said. "Jullip was just spotted leaving the back of the store. He's on foot, and should be arriving in six to eight minutes, coming from the West. He appears to be unarmed."
"Good," Ranger said. "You and I will try to subdue him in the yard. Babe, can you make sure the back passenger door is open so we can avoid the neighbors getting a show?"
"Huh?" I said.
Ranger pinned me with his gaze. He was getting more annoyed by the minute. Uh oh. "You wanted a doughnut, right?"
"Uh, yeah. Desperately. But who…how…?"
Lester snorted in the backseat. "This is your first covert op, isn't it?"
"First what?" I narrowed my eyes at both of them. "What are you talking about?"
Lester rolled his eyes. "We're getting you a doughnut. Without anyone seeing, right? This is a very tricky situation. That Krispy Kreme place is crawling with people who will recognize you. I think I even saw a reporter in there."
"Ungh." I used the heel of my hand to slap myself on the forehead. This is what I get for asking someone who used to be Special Forces to get me a doughnut. We couldn't just go through the fucking drive through. No, we had to commence with Operation: Get Stephanie a Warm Krispy Kreme Without Anyone from the Burg Catching Sight.
My mother was going to find out about this. Someway. Somehow. I had better enjoy this doughnut, because I was sure to be disowned.
"So what, we're going to kidnap some guy?" I said.
Lester hung his head and gave it a disappointed shake. "Okay, Bombshell. Keep up. This is the plan. Jullip, the guy who's going to walk past us in the next three minutes, is the night doughnut cook. We're going to politely persuade him to join us, and escort him back to Krispy Kreme, where he will then voluntarily make you a fresh dozen doughnuts. Then, we'll simply give him a ride home, and you have your hot doughnuts without ever setting foot inside Krispy Kreme."
I scrunched up my nose. "I have a really bad feeling about this."
"We do this all the time. It'll be fine," Lester said.
I had a really bad feeling about this. The whole thing was, frankly, overkill. It had turned into a covert op on steroids. But who was I to ruin their fun? Boys will be boys and all that jazz, right?
"What the fuck? I didn't do shit, I swear to god! Please don't hurt me."
Yeah, turns out Teddy Jullip wasn't so easily persuaded to join us in the black SUV with tinted windows, full of armed guys in SWAT clothing. Who wouldda thought?
"Come on, man. Just let me go, I'll give you whatever you want."
Teddy Jullip was also a sniveler.
He was in tears, and his nose was running. He wiped his nose with the sleeve of his white bakery uniform. "Don't hurt me, please."
"Jesus H. Christ!" Lester yelled. "Shut the fuck up! We're not going to hurt you."
"You-uh-you're not?" More sniffling. More nose wiping with sleeve.
Ranger gave Jullip his intimidating gaze, which wasn't helping anything. "We need a favor," he said in that deceptively soft voice.
"Oh Jesus," Jullip said. "Oh Jesus. You're the mob, aren't you? I've been sucked in. They say that once you're in, you can't get out. Oh Jesus."
"They?" I said. I was curious.
"Yeah, you know. On TV and stuff. I watch the History channel. They did a whole thing on Al Capone." He started rapidly blinking back tears. "Oh Jesus. Are you the mob? I don't want to be in the mob. My mom is expecting me at home, and she worries if I'm late. I can't join the mob."
"Your mom?" Lester said. "Your mom will be worried?"
"Well, yeah. She stays up until I get home, to make sure I get there okay. If I'm not there by 2, she'll call the store."
"In that case," Lester said, "We have to hurry. We can't keep mommy waiting!"
Jullip tried to glare, but its effectiveness was lost by wiping his nose on his sleeve. Again.
I rolled my eyes. "Guys, this is never going to work. I think we need a new plan."
Lester stared at me wide-eyed. "Bombshell, you never abort a plan until you're facing a threat. We stick with it."
"Oh Jesus," Jullip said. "You're the Bombshell Bounty Hunter. I've seen you on TV. You're going to shoot me, aren't you? I read that you shoot people a lot. Oh Jesus."
Oh no he didn't. "Okay, you sniveling little mamma's boy," I said, suddenly finding myself on board with this ludicrous plan. "This is what's going to happen. First, if you do not stop crying right now, I will stun your ass. Second. we're going to drive back to Krispy Kreme, and you are going to calmly walk in the back door and make me a dozen doughnuts. Then we'll drive you home, in time for mamma not to worry. Okay?"
"Well, gee, I don't know. I mean, maybe…"
"Drive!" I yelled to Ranger.
Ranger winked at me, then floored it. Jullip squealed – yes squealed – and fell back into his seat.
I pulled Ranger's stun gun off his belt and flipped it on. I turned toward the back seat. "If you cry, or say 'oh Jesus' one my time, I swear to god…"
He frantically shook his head. "I'm cool, I'm cool."
Lester snorted. "Oh man. You are so not cool."
Jullip glared at Lester again, but that only made him laugh harder.
A second later, we were pulled up beside the back door to Krispy Kreme. Lester had been right. It was 1:45 in the morning, and the place was packed. Guess I wasn't the only one with Krispy Kreme fever.
"All right, Cool Man," Lester said to Jullip. "I want you to go inside and cook a dozen fresh doughnuts, and bring them right back out. No funny business, and no one gets hurt, got it?"
Jullip sniffled, then scrambled out of the car and dashed inside.
Ranger turned around to look at Lester. "No funny business?"
He shrugged. "I was trying to act like a mobster."
Meanwhile, I was scanning the inside of the store through the windows, trying to see if I recognized anyone.
"Oh no," I said, dropping my head onto the dashboard. "Sue Ann is in there. We have to get out of here. My mother is going to find out about this. I just know it. Let's just go, please? I'll settle for the Tasty Pastry doughnuts."
"Shit," Lester said. "How the fuck did we end up with so many people in this truck cryin' for their mamas?"
I rounded on him with a Burg glare. "I'm not crying for my mother! I'm crying for the pineapple upside down cake that I'm not going to get to eat if she finds out about this. And forget ever having German Torte cake again, as long as I live."
"You know that shit's gonna' kill you, right?" Lester said.
I groaned and snuck a look at Ranger out of the corner of my eye. He was grinning.
I elbowed him. "Don't laugh. Dessert is very important to my well-being."
He was still grinning, but he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. "I know, babe. Lester, it's been a while – why don't you go check on Teddy's progress?"
"Roger that, boss," he said, jumping out of the car and sneaking through the back door, gun drawn.
"Oh god," I said. "He went in with his gun. He's going to cause a scene."
"He'll do fine," Ranger said.
But five minutes later, there was still no sign of Lester, Teddy Jullip, or most importantly, the hot doughnuts.
"I'm going to have to go in," Ranger said. "You stay here with the truck."
"Just so you know, my spidey sense is really starting to freak out."
"Babe. You have no faith in me."
"Oh, I have faith in you," I said, which was usually true, but at the moment only partially so. "I just think this situation has disaster written all over it."
He handed me an extra gun from under his seat. "Here. Hold this till I get back."
He was gone before I could protest, leaving me sitting there, staring dumbly at the gun in my hand.
"I'm definitely going to be disowned," I mumbled.
Five minutes later, there was no sign of any of them. And still, no doughnuts. Just goes to show that when a girl needs a doughnut, she's got to rely on herself. I left the gun under the seat, and headed inside, Ranger's stun gun in hand.
I opened the door, and felt my jaw hit the floor at the sight in front of me.
It was chaos. Indescribable, infinite chaos. Flour and doughnut glaze were everywhere. People were yelling, cursing, running, falling. And everyone, and I mean everyone, had a gun drawn.
I ran, or as much as I could over the flour and glaze coated floor, towards the first person I saw.
"Ranger?" I said. I wiped flour off his face, to reveal his eyes. "Nope." Definitely not Ranger. Instead, it was a very large man with shockingly black skin under all that white flour. And if the look in his now uncovered eyes was any indication, he was pissed.
"Oops!" I said, dashing away. I slid across the glaze on the floor and landed square in the chest of another man. This one felt smaller. I wiped flour from his face to reveal Jullip, who was still crying, making the flour even more sticky.
"Where the hell did you get a gun?" I said.
"One of the cooks gave it to me," he said, sniffling.
I took it (it was a community service, really, to take the gun away from him) out of his shaking hands and tucked in the back waistband of my pants. Too late, I realized that it was covered in warm doughnut glaze, which was now dripping into my butt crack.
I took off again, being more careful to plant my feet this time and trying to ignore the weird sticky feeling on my ass, toward the next man. I wiped away the flour to reveal Lester.
"Hey Bomber!" he said.
"What the fuck happened in here? And where is Ranger?"
"Uhh…" Lester looked around for a minute. "I just saw him…"
I smacked Lester upside the head. "What happened?"
"Turns out all the cooks except Jullip were armed. So when they saw me, they all pulled out their piece. Which would have been fine, but then Jullip got scared and threw a bag of flour in the air. The situation kind of devolved from there."
I had plenty more to say to Lester, but we heard a commotion out front in the store. We both took off in that direction, holding onto each others arms to keep from falling. We probably looked like overgrown four-year-olds trying to learn how to ice skate.
We burst through the doors and took in the sight in front of us. Two flour-coated men were engaged in an all-out battle: hitting, punching, scratching, overturning tables, and upending doughnut-eaters.
People were screaming and running around. Cell phones were being whipped out and pictures were being taken.
But worst of all was the damn reporter Lester had mentioned. He was sitting in a corner, calmly watching, and snapping pictures with his camera. Yep, I would be disowned. This catastrophe, through no real fault of my own, was going to have my name all over it.
"Uh Lester," I said. "Is one of those…things…Ranger?"
"Yeah. The one that's winning is the boss."
I cocked my head and watched the fight, but I couldn't tell which was winning and which was losing. Both, however, were landing and taking their fair share of punches.
The door to the kitchen behind us flew open and someone barreled through it, sending me flying. I landed with a thud on table.
"Hey!" I yelled, but by then there were so many flour-covered people running around that I had no idea who had knocked me over.
I stood up and tried to get the mess off my hands, now completely ignoring the chaos around me. I looked up and locked eyes with the reporter, who was grinning at me.
"How much do you want?" I yelled over the cacophony of noise – yelling, screaming, furniture being knocked to the floor…
"What?" he yelled back.
"How much can I pay you to keep this out of the paper?" I didn't have any money, but I knew Ranger would pay dearly to keep a picture of himself in a fistfight while covered in flour at a doughnut shop from ever seeing the light of day.
"No way in hell, sweetheart," the fucking reporter yelled back. "This one will hit the front page. Fuck, I might even win a Pulitzer for this."
I gave in to my childish nature and showed him a genuine Italian hand gesture. It would have felt more cathartic if he hadn't snapped a picture of it.
Unfortunately, it was the least of my problems, because that's when the bullets started flying.
People starting hitting the floor, but all I saw were the unguarded doughnuts! I mean, that was the whole point of coming here, right? I started scooping them up, not even bothering to pick out the ones that were half eaten. I'd sort them out later.
I was running around, holding the precious doughnuts as close to my chest as I could.
I could hear guns firing and bullets whizzing, but I was crouched down, and doing the bob and weave thing – you know, weaving to a table here, bobbing up to grab the doughnuts, weaving to the next table…
I had a full armload of doughnuts before one of the bullets hit me, square in the bicep.
I dropped to the floor, trying not to crush the doughnuts. "I'm hit! I'm hit!" I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Something huge landed directly on my back, and I swear to god I could hear a separate squishing noise for each doughnut as it was crushed beneath me.
"Fuck!" All those Krispy Kreme doughnuts…
"Babe," Ranger yelled directly into my ear.
Oh, that's what was on top of me. "You killed my doughnuts!" I yelled.
"Where are you hit?" His hands were running all over me, trying to find the holes.
"Left arm," I said. "But my doughnuts!"
He raised my arm, causing me to yell some more. I'd been too busy concentrating on the destroyed doughnuts to realize how badly it hurt.
He wrenched me up to my feet, trying to be careful of my arm but not really making it. We both stood and looked down at me. Smooshed doughnuts were stuck to my chest. There were probably twenty of them, all just hanging to my shirt.
"My doughnuts!" I yelled. Then, "Ow, fuck!"
Ranger was patting my arm, which really hurt. "The bullet's still in there, we have to get you to the ER."
I finally looked down at my arm to see blood dripping everywhere. Though it looked more pink than usual, on account of all the flour.
"Oh shit," I said, as the pain and blood loss finally hit me. I swayed a little, but Ranger caught me. I looked up at him, and realized that he was head-to-toe covered in flour. I couldn't help the grin that spread over my face.
"This is all your fault, you know," he said.
"No way! This is Lester's fault."
Ranger thought for a second, then nodded. "Yeah. We'll go with that."
He scooped me up in his arms. "Come on, we have to get you to the hospital. They're going to have to remove that bullet."
"No!" I yelled, loud enough to startle Ranger into setting me back down. "The whole point was that I wanted hot doughnuts, and I don't have them yet."
My vision was starting to get blurry, and later, I would blame my irrational need for the doughnuts on the blood loss. But for right now, I wanted those hot doughnuts, god damn it! I squinted a bit, and finally picked out Lester.
"Lester!" I yelled. "Go back and get hot doughnuts."
Lester looked over at Ranger, who was now carrying me toward the back door to get to the truck.
"Just do it," Ranger said with a resigned head shake. "And hurry," he added when we heard sirens fast approaching.
Ranger got me into the back seat of the SUV. He pulled off his shirt and wrapped it around my arm. Normally, I loved the sight of his bare chest, but right now, the effect was comical. His head, hair, the lower half of each arm, and his pants were entirely coated in white flour. His chest, on the other hand, was that beautiful shade of mocha. It was like a ghastly farmer's tan in reverse.
Lester jumped into the front seat and floored it, getting us out of there just as the first cop car arrived.
"Do you have the doughnuts?" I said, much more worried about that than the possibility of getting arrested.
Lester tossed a box toward Ranger. "Fresh out of the fryer," he said. "Turns out that Mama's Boy was in there cooking the damn things the whole time we were out front. When I went back for them, he handed them to me and begged me not to initiate him into the mob."
I rolled my eyes. I looked out the back window toward the Krispy Kreme. There were cop cars everywhere, and news vans were pouring in. There was even a Channel 5 helicopter circling overhead with a spotlight shining down on the commotion. Fuck.
"We should have gone through the drive-through," I said.
"What?" Ranger said.
"The drive-through. We have tinted windows. We could have gone through the drive-through, and no one would have seen me. No need for this covert op shit."
Ranger stared at me for a moment before saying, "I'm going to pretend you didn't say that."
We pulled up to the ER entrance, and I started to climb out.
Ranger put a hand on my good arm. "Let them bring a wheelchair, babe."
"Fuck that." I climbed out and headed toward the door, cradling the arm with a hole in it against my chest.
I looked down at myself, and then at the two men walking on either side of me. We were a sight to behold. There were thick pink clumps falling off of me – part blood, part flour – and I didn't even want to know what my hair looked like. Every part of Lester and Ranger was coated in flour, except Ranger's perfect bare chest.
I would have laughed if my butt cheeks weren't glued together by the now dried glaze down my pants. Every step was becoming more and more uncomfortable.
We managed to bring the busy ER to a dead stop the moment we walked in the door. Every single nurse, doctor, patient, and screaming baby froze and stared at us.
"We have a gunshot wound," Ranger said in his soft voice.
No one moved. They just stared.
You know that dream where you walk into a room naked and everyone stares? This was it, except with flour.
"Come on, people," Lester yelled. "There's a bullet imbedded in her!"
One of the nurses jumped and rushed towards me, galvanizing everyone else into action. The noise level picked right back up where it had left off, just a decibel below torturous.
They got me onto a gurney, and using only local anesthetics, managed to remove the bullet. Thankfully, no nerves or tendons had been hit, so I didn't need surgery. Ranger held my hand while they pulled the bullet out, and left me with Lester so that he could go de-flour himself.
I giggled to myself, the painkillers finally kicking in. "He's going to do it alone," I said to Lester.
He looked at me. "What?"
"He's going to de-flour himself. You know, alone. De-flower…hahaha…" I dissolved into giggles while Lester rolled his eyes. He was no fun! He didn't get the joke at all.
"Hey! Where are the doughnuts?" I said.
"Still out in the truck."
"Well go get them," I said to Lester. "They're probably still warm."
Lester rolled his eyes again – hey, he was getting pretty good at that! – and left the room. He came back a moment later and set the box beside me. He flipped on the TV in the my hospital room and tuned it to the local news while I started in on the first doughnut.
It was heaven. It was everything a fresh, hot doughnut should be. It was…
"The Bombshell Bounty Hunter strikes again," a voice on the TV said, drawing my attention to it. "This is the new local Krispy Kreme, where she left a trail of bodies in her wake…."
"They weren't dead!" I yelled at the TV bitch, around a mouthful of warm, gooey doughnut.
The picture they showed made it look like every Krispy Kreme patron was lying dead on the floor. Apparently, it was a picture that fucking reporter took just after everyone dove for cover from the first bullets.
"…at least one person has been admitted to St. Francis hospital with gunshot wounds and is in stable condition. Causality rates have not yet been confirmed. Damages are excepted to be in the thousands, though some witness have said that armed Krispy Kreme employees fired first…"
"Of course they fired first! I didn't even have a gun…" I trailed off, remembering the probably unregistered gun the nurses had pulled out of the back of my pants.
The next picture they showed on TV was a shot of me, staring dumbly into the camera, dripping blood and smooshed doughnuts.
"There goes my pineapple upside down cake," I said. "Birthday cake, German Chocolate Torte cake…"
I grabbed another doughnut. There were over a dozen in this box. And they were all warm. It was wonderful. If it hadn't been for the bitch on TV who wouldn't shut up about me, I would have been in heaven.
Lester flipped off the TV, and her disembodied head faded into black. He kissed me on the top of my head and left me to my doughnuts.
Joe walked in. I smiled happily at him.
He took one look at me sitting on the ER gurney with Krispy Kreme box beside me and smacked the heel of his hand on his forehead. He turned around and kept his eyes covered. "Tell me, please tell me, that the news and the cops were all wrong. Tell me that you did not actually get shot at over a fucking doughnut."
I nodded and continued chewing.
"What?" Joe said. "Nothing smart to say?"
I shook my head, forgetting that he still wasn't facing me. And he still had his eyes covered.
He peeked a glanced over his shoulder. I gave him another cheeky grin around the doughnut in my mouth. He groaned, and then walked out, mumbling about paperwork and unregistered guns and having the worst girlfriend ever.
I kept chewing.
Ranger came in next. "Babe."
"I knew you were a super-hero," I said with a happy sigh, that was partly brought on by the doughnuts and partly by the pain killers.
He raised an eyebrow.
"You got me warm Krispy Kremes. You've surpassed Batman. We're going to have to call Stan Lee and have him come up with a new one for you. A whole new comic book. Action figure dolls too. Do you know how many little girls would buy an action figure of you? And we can make them anatomically correct…oohhh."
He was glaring at me. "No dolls," he ground out.
"But you got me warm Krispy Kremes," I said holding up the last doughnut. "That deserves a doll made in your honor."
I could actually see the anger radiating off of him. Apparently, Mr. Cool lost his mojo real fast when it came to dolls. His jaw was twitching, his nostrils were flared out, his breath was shallow, and his eyes were black. For Ranger, this was a full out, scream and beat your fists on the floor, temper tantrum.
I grinned and kept chewing.
I swallowed, finishing off my last doughnut. I stared down into the empty box for a moment before a plan entered my head.
"What time is it?" I said.
"Almost six, why?"
"Cause they start serving a new hot batch at six. You could still sneak in and no one would notice…" I trailed off when he turned and walked out of the room.