Disclaimer: I own none of these wonderful characters. Janet owns everything.
Author's note: Okay, I realize that I am posting the last chapter on Valentine's Day. I swear to Holy God, I didn't mean to do it like this. This REEKS of cheesy. It's just the way my schedule worked out, I swear! I almost thought about waiting until tomorrow to post because this was so lame but then I figured that would be as silly as posting today. :) Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day, Babes.
Did you actually read my author's note or did you just skip to the first sentence, you little cheater. :)
It was 6:48 am. I had been staring at my ceiling for the last 143 minutes. Some would wonder why I didn't just get up an hour ago. What? And let insomnia win? I didn't want it to get a big head.
I finally admitted defeat and rolled out of bed a headed in to make coffee.
"Hey guys," I said as I passed the couch.
Tank and Lester grunted at me, completely absorbed in SpongeBob SquarePants. I stuck my head back out of the kitchen, wondering where they came from and why the hell they were on my couch at 7:00 am. Turns out I didn't really care seeing as they had made coffee already.
A few minutes later I wedged myself between them with my cup of cream, sugar and a little bit of coffee.
Tank was shaking his head. "That Patrick. He's such a fucking dumbass! I think he's my favorite."
"Guys. Why are you on my couch? Did you come over to give me grief about my lack of love life? Or, Tank, did Lula kick you out when she realized what actually comes out of your mouth and is passed off as knowledge?"
"Get over it."
Lester slung an arm around my shoulders and pulled me into him. "Come on, beautiful. Don't be like that. We came over to make sure you were okay and to see what we could do to help."
"Well…that and I'm too scared to go back to Haywood. You got any nail polish remover?"
We drank our coffee for awhile and watched SpongeBob try to beat Sandy in Karate.
Tank finally pulled one of my curls. "So, you gonna do it?"
"The final part of the plan. Step 2. The sure thing."
"You're kidding. This is a joke, right? I mean seriously? You are seriously asking me to do another step of your asinine plan after you had me making out with Ru Paul over here? WHO, by the way, grabbed my ass and humped me."
"I did not hump you, per se. You might say 'massaged'. You might say 'caressed'. And I don't know why you have to say it like that. Ru Paul is hot. I mean, for having a penis."
"Steph," Tank said, "There is one reason and one reason only that step one didn't work yesterday. Actually, two reasons. One of them being that Lester here fucked it up again."
"But the main reason it didn't work is that we didn't stick to form. Ranger was on his way over to you, he was so turned on. It just happened to be foiled when he saw dick in a skirt over here. If you hadn't pussed out and had actually humped a GIRL, it would've worked."
I buried my face in my hands, reliving the embarrassment and disappointment that was last night. The thought of Ranger hurt and mad was clouding everything. "Fuck. What's step 2?"
Tank looked at me. "You don't remember?"
"No! I didn't read past step one yesterday."
"Let's see how much you have learned about the fine and subtle art of plan making. Guess."
I thought hard. What was the big guns? What was the one thing that would totally turn guys on? I turned and looked at Tank and Lester. They were grinning.
"Oh HELL no! I am not. Under ANY circumstances. Stripping."
Lester rolled his eyes. "I knew you were going to say stripping. EHHHH! Wrong. Think it through, Steph. Do you really see Ranger getting turned on by a stripper?"
"Well, no. But I thought we were going for guy fantasies?"
"Wrong again," Tank said. "See, this is why I am the plan maker. We aren't looking for GUY fantasies, we are looking for RANGER fantasies."
"Then what was with the kissing another girl thing? You said that was every guy's fantasy!"
"Well, yeah. Lesbians are an automatic qualifier. I don't care who you are. If you have a penis, it's going to get hard."
"Amen." Lester nodded.
Tank went on. "Now see our boy Ranger, he isn't going to get excited watching someone strip. He's seen that waaaaaaaaaaay too-"
"Um..yeah..so he needs something a little more refined. Upscale. Tailored to his tastes."
"And this would be?"
"Watching you beat someone up dressed in slutty clothes."
ooooooooooooooooooooooo RS ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
This had 'disaster' written all over it. It was mid-afternoon and I was standing in my parking lot with The Hardy Boys.
And that wasn't the worst of it. The old people were staring at me through their bifocals.
We had spent the rest of the morning working out my 'ass kicking' skills. Tank had moved my furniture and he and Lester had proceeded to thrash the living daylights out of me. Then Lula came over, and I had to show her how much I had learned. It didn't take very long. Then, while we moved on to Half Nelson 101, Lula went out to buy my outfit. One could only assume she visited some stores where she used to find 'working clothes'.
So here I stood in my parking lot dressed in barely there leather shorts, knee high spike heeled boots and a leather halter style top that zipped up the front and showed most of my boobs. I had my hair straightened and pulled up into a sleek ponytail on the top of my head and Lula had made my lips so red people were confusing me with the sun. I looked like Dominatra the Spanker Whore.
"Guys, this is a bad idea. Very bad. Titanic bad. Ranger will never go for this."
"He doesn't have to believe it, Steph," Lester said. "He just has to get turned on by it. And I'm sure it will work because I'm really turned on. I'll give you 1,000 dollars to let me touch your butt."
Tank and I ignored him. He got turned on so often it wasn't even noticeable anymore. Okay, some parts were still noticeable. He's a goof but he didn't get his stellar reputation in bed for nothing.
Tank elbowed him out of the way. "Okay, Steph, plan time. Give it to me."
I sighed. "It's 3:30 now. At 4:15 I need to try to take down Ziggy Gandoli in front of his house."
"Not try. Will! It's all the mindset. You can take him. He's the smallest skip we have. He's like, 4'9" or something."
"Fine. I WILL be taking down Ziggy at 4:15. Coincidentally, Ranger shockingly will be pulling up at 4:15 to apprehend Ziggy. I have to let him struggle for a minute and then kick the shit out of him when I know Ranger is watching."
"It's gotta go just like that, baby, or it won't work. I don't want to have to dress Lester up as a skip and have you whip him, but I will."
Tank turned towards the Bronco. "Okay. Let's go. I have to call Ranger and tell him to go get Ziggy. I'm the only person he likes right now." I made a whimpering noise.
I started to get in my car. "Well shit, boys, here goes nothing. I mean, how bad can it be? LESTER! Get your hand off my ass!"
"I was just getting you riled for your takedown."
"Give me my fucking 1,000 dollars."
ooooooooooooooooooooooo RS oooooooooooooooooooooooooo
I sat in front of Ziggy's house for a good 15 minutes trying to get the nerves under control. Ranger was supposed to be here in five minutes so I needed to get a move on. I swung out of the car and made my way up to the porch. A man in the next house opened his window.
"Holy shit! Where the Hell did Ziggy order you?"
"Never heard of them. Would it cost extra if you did something with vegetables?"
I flipped him the bird and rang the bell. The door opened and I found myself looking at a short, skinny little man who must have been pushing 50. I felt infinitely better. I felt even more so when I heard the sound of a car pull up behind me.
Ziggy blanched and took in my outfit. "Please tell me you're here to have sex with me."
"Ziggy, you are in violation of your bond agreement and I need to take you to court to reschedule."
"What?" He looked instantly pissed. "Fuck you I'm going back to court!"
I heard a car door shut and footsteps on the walk. Just as Ziggy tried to shove me out of the way I heard the sweetest word I have ever been blessed to hear.
And then I slammed my fist into Ziggy's stomach.
oooooooooooooooooooooooooo RS oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
I pulled up to Ziggy's house two minutes early to scope the place out. I was prepared for Ziggy the runt skip. What I wasn't prepared for was that it looked like he had a prostitute coming over at the same time. She was quality, too. This must be why Tank had me show at 4:15. Ziggy would be distracted.
I got out of my car and began to make my way to the door. As I neared I heard the girl talking to him and all at once my heart seized in my chest. For maybe the third time in my life I was speechless. The prostitute was Stephanie.
I actually came to a full halt in the walkway as I heard her going through the violation speech. My gaze swept over her from the boots all the way up to the Lara Croft ponytail and I couldn't help it. My dick twitched.
I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to peel off my shirt, put it on her and get her the hell out of there. I had no idea what she was trying to pull, but it wasn't happening. I got within a few feet when Ziggy started to resist.
"Babe," I cautioned. And God help her, she slugged him in the gut.
Ziggy bent over and whooshed out a breath of air. While he was still bent over, he charged her and they slammed up against the wall. Her left breast almost popped out.
"Stop fighting me, Ziggy!" she gasped. "I'll hurt you! I'll open a can of whoop ass all over you!" She was trying to grab him while keeping one hand tugging the bottom of her shorts down, but he was so short she couldn't get a grip.
Ziggy's face was smooshed in her stomach, his voice barely audible. "Try it, you dumb, white prostitute."
I just stood there, watching. I couldn't help it. It was the most bazaar thing I had ever seen and I was trying to decide between laughing and being turned on. It was a toss up at this point.
Ziggy finished his taunt and Steph tried to knee him…well…I'm not sure where. She couldn't get her leg high enough with her hand holding onto the shorts. Ziggy sidestepped away easily and pushed her against the railing.
"Give it up, Ziggy!"
"Eat me, bitch!"
That must have done it because I watched my babe smash her heel down on his foot. Ziggy leapt away howling and holding his foot.
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! You damn whore! You punctured my toe."
"Good! Now shut up and get arrested!"
Ziggy kicked out at her and she grabbed his leg. She tried to pull him off balance but she had the angle wrong and he tripped her with his other foot. They went down in a pile on his doormat. Steph had one arm around his waist and he had one hand on her face and the other trying to pull himself away.
I finally came out of my trance and jogged up the steps. Ziggy took one look at me and came out with a string of curses, redoubling his efforts at escape.
"Babe. I got him."
"No! Ranger no! I got this. I almost have him. I'm kicking his ass." Ziggy was slowly dragging them inch by inch towards the stairs. He stopped and used his other hand to try to push her face away, as well. She bit him. They thrashed for another minute and I saw her try to do something that almost looked like a Half Nelson, but really wasn't.
I bent down to try to drag him up and she smacked my hand away. "No Ranger! I don't think so." They were both panting. "I spent all fucking day learning how to kick the fucking shit out of someone, I got fucking dressed like a damn slut and now I have my face in this thing's armpit. I'm going to finish kicking his ass like I'm supposed to so back the fuck off!"
I put my hands up in the air and stepped back. As I watched, she got one leg over him and tried to roll them backwards. She got halfway and hit her head on the step, releasing Ziggy. He popped up but she grabbed a leg and the back of his pants. With a horrible rip, his pants split and he fell forward with the release. She leapt up and landed on him with all of her weight. There was a soft 'oof' and Ziggy farted and went still.
Steph sat up somewhat dazed and looked down at still Ziggy, slight disbelief on her face.
She raised her arms and threw her head back. "YES! Yes! I got him! Oh thank you Jesus! How do you like that, Ziggy? Huh? You like that, you old fucker?"
She was bouncing up and down on him with glee and she looked up at me and gave me the most beautiful smile. All at once my heart swelled. Despite the clothes, she was my babe again. Disheveled hair, torn pants, dirt everywhere and a smile that always melted me right down to a sixteen year old kid.
Whatever had been going on the last few weeks was gone. It was just Steph and me like always. Gone was the weird playacting, fake words and actions. All I saw at that moment was her smile.
I walked over to her as she rolled off of him. I helped her up and we both smiled at the other. My arms slid around her waist of their own accord and I saw her eyes flash with recognition and then grow soft as she reached up to touch my face.
Just before she did, however, I saw Ziggy rise up behind her. He had grabbed a metal trowel from beside the walkway and was swinging it up and back. With relative ease I shoved Steph to the side, grabbed his shirt and rammed him into the house twice in rapid succession. The first slam knocked the trowel out of his hand and the second knocked him unconscious against the doorframe. I dropped him on the ground and slipped cuffs on both his wrists and ankles. He was going to be pissed when he came to.
I turned back around to find Steph staring at me with wide eyes.
"You saved me."
I gave her a full smile before pulling her to me. I cupped her face in both hands and kissed her, letting all my frustration and relief from the last few weeks pour out of me. She returned my kiss with the same enthusiasm and we completely lost ourselves. I barely registered another car drive up and people getting out. The only thing that mattered to me at the moment was that somehow Stephanie was in my life the right way.
We both broke apart, however, when we heard cheering and clapping. We spun around to Lester and Tank applauding. I was having a hard time figuring out why they were here until I saw Tank give Steph a thumbs up.
Suddenly I was aware of her outfit again. I looked between her and Tank and understanding suddenly washed over me.
"Oh Babe. No."
She turned her eyes to me. "No what?"
"Please tell me this outfit wasn't part of a grand Tank disaster plan."
"Hey!" Tank said. "Don't be dissin' the plan. It worked, didn't it? That was your tongue I saw in her mouth, right? I might have even seen a certain hand on her ass."
Lester started forward. "If you don't charge him 1,000 dollars I'm going to be pissed. That was my poker money I gave you."
I turned to Steph again. "You actually let them talk you into a plan?"
She looked confused. "Well, it did sort of work. I mean, you kissed me after."
"After what exactly?"
"After I beat up Ziggy wearing slutty clothes. Your turn on."
"Excuse me, my what?"
Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of Tank's laughter. "You gotta admit, that was a good one. I'm a fucking genius."
Stephanie and I stared at him.
"What? Look, you guys obviously have a lot to talk about. Here's what you need to do-"
"NO!" we both yelled at him together. Tank cut off and took a step back. I grabbed Steph's hand and started pulling her towards the Porsche.
"We are done here, Babe. Tank! Take Ziggy in for Steph. I am offline until further notice. And if you call me with any advice in the next 48 hours I will see to it that you are my personal sparring partner for the entire month."
Tank and Lester eyed each other and moved over to Ziggy.
I helped Steph in, watching her thighs as she slid in. Maybe Tank did have a point with this outfit, but just in the privacy of my apartment. I jogged around and got in, looking over at Stephanie. She had her eyes closed, leaning back in her seat.
"I love the smell of this car. It's so you. I love the seats."
I stared at her for a beat, comprehension dawning. "It's not that it's expensive. It's the fact that it reminds you of me that you like these things." I should have seen that earlier. I could have saved myself a damn Rolex.
"Of course. What are you talking about, Ranger?"
"Nothing, Babe." I smiled at her and picked up her hand, kissing the back. "No, it's not nothing. Thank you, Babe. Thank you for being the most real person I know. Thank you for seeing past the money and the image. I know we have a lot to talk about but I just wanted to tell you that I'm proud of who you are."
She stared at me with her mouth slightly open. I smiled and started the car pulling away from the curb. After a minute I saw her subtly wipe her eyes with the hand I wasn't holding on to.
"Thanks, Ranger. That might be the best compliment I have ever received in my life." I kissed her hand again as we pulled up to Haywood.
"What are we doing here?"
"Talking. With no interruptions. I think you and I have some air to clear." I got out and pulled her out of the car. We rode up the elevator and into my apartment without talking. As soon as the door shut I turned to her.
"Babe. I should never have listened to Tank. I should have known you wouldn't be interested in compliments or money or stupid plans. I should have been honest with you from the beginning."
"Yeah, Ranger. That was pretty bad." I raised my eyebrows at her. She laughed.
"I'm serious, Babe." I brushed a thumb across her cheek. "More serious than you know."
"And I should have known better than to resort to stupid tricks to try to get your attention. I should have know this.." She looked down at her outfit. "…wouldn't be of interest to you."
"Tank might have actually had something there."
"Babe. I have been staring at you in that outfit since I saw you at Ziggy's front door."
"You can't be serious."
"Oh, I'm serious," I said, stepping closer and running my hands down her hips to her bare thighs. "But if you ever try to wear this in public again I will drag you back home and chain you to my bed."
I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her. She leaned into me and I almost forgot everything but the taste of her. But I wasn't finished. There was one more thing I needed to know. I broke the kiss and looked at her.
I hesitated but asked the one question that was bothering me the most. "What's going on between you and Santos?"
She smiled up at me. "Well, thanks to him being a pervert he paid my rent this month."
I felt the expression start to leave my face. Before I could register, she actually laughed at me.
"Nothing! Nothing is going on, Ranger! It was another stupid plan. Tank convinced me that you would get turned on watching me make out with another girl. After my try with Lula, I couldn't do it again so Tank thought it would still work if you thought Lester was a girl. I'm sorry. I should have known better. I should have known you wouldn't get turned on by something like that. It was just that…"
My mouth parted and I couldn't hear from the blood that rushed to my ears. She was still talking but all I saw was her mouth moving.
I snapped back to reality when I heard her say my name.
"Ranger! Have you heard a word I said?"
"I heard you say you kissed Lula. Kiss. Woman. Together." I couldn't stop looking at her mouth. I'm not even sure what I said.
Stephanie stared at me for a beat.
"Oh no." She looked down at my pants. "OH NO! Not you, too, Ranger! What is it with you men?"
"I'm done talking now, Babe."
She looked at me and I saw a slow smile spread across her face. "I think I'm done talking, too." She walked towards me and started pushing me backwards. I could help smiling at her. She backed me until my legs hit the couch and I sat down. She stood over me and ran her hands from my shoulder, down my chest to the front of my pants, kneeling as she went. My breathing and heart rate sped up as she began undoing my belt.
"Oh no, Ranger. No talking." She unzipped my pants and tugged them off my hips. I groaned as she grasped me with her hand.
She smiled at me again. "See, I have a plan of my own." I almost came off the couch as she licked from my balls all the way up to the head.
"This is Step 1."
ooooooooooooooooooooooooo RS oooooooooooooooooooooooooo
Two weeks later…
Ranger and I walked into the bonds office together at a little after 9:00. We had just finished our run and breakfast. 9:00 was a little late for us, but we took..umm..extra long in the shower. Again.
Ranger and I had finished our talk and both agreed to give 'us' a try. Without a word, especially to the Hardy Boys, we packed up a few things and took a long weekend by ourselves with no agendas. Just us. And a really big bed. And maybe the warming lotion.
Connie and Lula were sitting on the couch when we walked in. Lula had her face in her hands and Connie had her arm around her.
"Lula! What's wrong? Is everything okay?" I sat down next to her. She just made a grunting noise."
"Lula is depressed," Connie said. "She's having man problems."
"What happened? Things were going so well!"
"I know!" She snapped her head up. "Too well. Steph, I think I'm in love with him. Oh God!" She buried her face again. I could just hear her muffled words. "I don't know what to do. I don't know if he feels the same!"
I looked up at Ranger and our eyes met and held over her head. A slow smile crept between us. Ranger sat on her other side.
"Oh, I think he does, Lula."
She looked up at him. "You do?"
"Oh yes," I said. "I think you just need to show him what he's got."
"That's why we're here, Lula," Ranger said, putting his arm around her. "See, what you need is just a good plan."
I stood up. "I'll get the beer."