They all belong to Janet Evanovich

Stupid is as Stupid does

"Hey, White Girl, you ready for some shopping therapy?"

"Sure, Lula," Stephanie said glumly walking into the mall.

"Come on, you need to cheer up."

"I know, but it's hard. I miss Ranger."

"Well, Mr. I Ain't Got No Brain, isn't worth another thought in that skinny white head of yours. He had the chance and didn't step up to the plate. It's time we find you someone with something between those ears and other good parts."

"Lula, I really thought Ranger would give us a try, but I still can't believe he won't even try. I love him, but it's not enough."

They were heading into Macy's when a big mass of Tank came towards them.

"There's my Tankie."

"Hi, Lula Baby," he hugged and kissed her. "Bombshell, we need your help."

"Distraction job."

"No, Ranger."

"Tank, I can't. He doesn't want me."

"You're wrong. He does. He just doesn't know to make it right. He can't walk way from you. He's drinking himself silly every night at Shorty's. He's missing client meetings. I've been covering for him."

"I can't. He walked away."

"Ranger thinks by walking away from you, you'll eventually find the life he thinks you deserve, but by doing so he's miserable without you. He's not even functioning right. He sits at his desk and looks at your picture. He sits in the garage in his Porsche because it's your favorite car and goes nowhere for hours. The only thing he does is drink at Shorty's. Please, open the door and let him make it right. He's afraid you'll reject after this Bull Shit he's pulled. Relationships are new to him. he doesn't have a clue."

"I would never reject him. I want to stand beside Ranger to support him like he has always supported me."

"Come to Shorty's tonight. Just be there. Let him make it right. Bobby, Lester, and I have been taking turns going with him to drive him home because he is in no condition to drive at the end of the night."

"What happens if this doesn't work?"

"It will. Did you move? There's a for rent sign in your window?"

"Sort of, I'm house sitting for a friend of Grandma's. Grandma and Tillie are on a train trip across the Northern United States, then off to Alaska. Since there are so many men up there, they went to find a couple. I wanted to stop any Ranger break-ins at my apartment so when she was looking for a house sitter, I jumped on it. Tillie may rent me the other half of her duplex when she gets back if I want unless she finds a husband."

"Ranger's had us looking for you since you moved. We haven't been looking too hard since we knew you were OK. It's driving him crazy. I think he feels like you left him."

"What did he expect me to do?"

"See, I told you, White Girl, nothing up there but air. Batman had us all fooled, he's as dumb as a door nail when it comes to you."

"What time does he get there?"

"Around nine."

"Will you call me when he leaves? Or if there is a change in plans?" Stephanie wrote something on a piece of paper. "This is my new number."

Tank was laughing, "No wonder he's so goofy, you really cut him off."

"Stay here a moment, I'll be right back."

Stephanie came back a few minutes later handing Tank something, "Can you load this into Shorty's Juke Box. Play number 3 right before I come in the door. Number 11 when I get there."

"OK, Bombshell."

"Don't let him get too drunk before I get there."

"Come on, Lula, I need a new pair of FMP's."

"Mr. I Ain't Got A Brain won't know what hit him cause if this don't work , Lula's gonna whap him up side his head so hard, it's gonna echo for days."

"That's My Lula Sweetie," Tank kissed her as she and Stephanie headed for the shoes.

Stephanie has just about ready when her cell phone rang shortly after 9.

"Hello."

"Bombshell, he's almost at Shorty's."

"I'll be leaving soon. Put your phone on vibrate. I'll buzz you when I'm about there so Ranger doesn't hear it."

"OK. The CD's already loaded. Shorty's tired of seeing him at the bar because he's such a sad sack."

"See you a little while."

Stephanie looked at herself in the mirror, she was wearing black leather lace-up pants with a matching off-the-shoulder lace-up bustier and 4 inch black FMP's. She made-up her eyes so the blue stood out. Her hair in full loose curls around her face. This had better work or she's wouldn't be responsible for hurting four ex-Army men.

Since it was Friday, Bobby, Lester, and Tank were all babysitting Ranger until Stephanie got here. He had a couple of beers at the apartment before he left so he was feeling mellow. Tank felt his pocket vibrate and nodded to Bobby. He went over to the Juke Box and made a selection. Ranger was sitting at the last barstool along the side so he could see the door. When Stephanie walked in, she would be in plain view for him.

It wasn't very crowded, so you could hear the music. The raspy voice of Rod Stewart starting singing:

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don't be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'cause I've seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don't know what to do

Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

Ranger was listening to the words as he played with his empty beer bottle, "My Babe always stood beside me. When I was 'FTA', she called to see if I was OK."

So if you're mad, get mad
Don't hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well I'm a lot like you

When you're standing at the crossroads
And don't know which path to choose
Let me come along
'cause even if you're wrong

Taking a swig of his beer, "I can't even talk to her. I don't have her number, Tank."

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you

And when...
When the night falls on you, baby
You're feeling all alone
You won't be on your own

"Tank, you couldn't find out where my Babe is? She deserted me. I'm alone now. It's my own fault."

"Steph came and got files at Vinnie's, but never said anything to Lula about moving or a new cell number. I checked with her."

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you

I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you"

"I have to find her. I need my Babe."

Bobby and Lester were trying not to laugh whispering, "Tank, he's pitiful."

The door to Shorty's opened. In walked in Stephanie in her black leather.

"Wow!" Lester said as he went to the Juke Box and made the second selection.

"Babe!" Ranger sat there staring. He couldn't believe she was here.

Stephanie was standing there glued in her spot by the Juke Box at the edge of the dance floor. Ranger went over and stood in front of her. He looked in her blue eyes, then took her in his arms swaying to the song. Letting out a sigh at the feel of Stephanie in his arms again. He wasn't letting her go, ever.

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles

And the heavens open every time she smiles

And when I come to her that's where I belong

Yet I'm running to her like a river's song

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

"Babe, I was stupid. I'm sorry I hurt you," looking very sheepish, unsure of himself.

"Really?"

She's got a fine sense of humor when I'm feeling low down

And when I come to her when the sun goes down

Take away my trouble, take away my grief

Take away my heartache, in the night like a thief

"Yeah."

"What are you going to do about it?"

"Get unstupid."

"Really?"

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

Yes I need her in the daytime

Yes I need her in the night

Yes I want to throw my arms around her

Kiss her hug her kiss her hug her tight

"Yeah. Without you there's no sunshine in my life. You are my life. I love you."

Ranger didn't add any qualifiers.

"You're sure? Because, I love you, Ranger."

"I love you. I need you. Only you, Babe," bending his head to find her lips. Ranger was brushing tears off her cheeks with his thumbs as her face was cupped in his hands

And when I'm returning from so far away

She gives me some sweet lovin' brighten up my day

Yes it makes me righteous, yes it makes me feel whole

Yes it makes me mellow down in to my soul

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

"Thank God," Tank announced to Bobby and Lester, "I couldn't take much more of this Ranger sitting," watching Ranger and Stephanie walk out the door.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Rod Stewart "I'll Stand By You" and "Crazy Love."