A/N: The prologue was the first fiction I ever wrote, response to a challenge on pp. This began as a series of shorts and challenge responses, so the first few chapters might be a bit disjointed or repetitive, but by about chapter 5 or 6 I realized I was writing a full length and the continuity improved.
WARNING: Smut scattered throughout this whole story. And cupcake warning. Not Joe friendly. Romantic Babe fluff.
Disclaimer: Not mine, making no money.
"Babe, you're so wet. You're dripping," murmured Ranger, stroking my lips with a finger.
I gazed into his dark, dark eyes, unable to respond, unable to breathe. Damn! The effect this man has on me! My nipples were hard, trying to push their way through my shirt. My teeth started to chatter.
Of course it might have just been the cold.
I had been chasing a skip, Jeremiah Scroggins, FTA for indecent exposure. He was a fairly small guy, about my height, but wiry and apparently stronger than I anticipated.
He darted into the park and ran along the promenade at the edge of the river. Good thing I had my cross-trainers on.
I was panting and gasping, thinking about giving up—boy, do I ever hate running!—when all of a sudden I got my second wind. I'm really rolling now, I thought. That fifty bucks is as good as mine! Maybe I'll visit Victoria's Secret to celebrate.
Just as I was coming up on his heels, about to grab him, he suddenly stopped, turned, and shoved me over the wall into the water.
Wow, was that ever cold! Yes, it's a pretty nice late summer day, sun shining, birds singing. But the chilly water was an extreme shock to my overheated body.
And the worst part was the wall. I couldn't get back out of the water because of the wall. I clung to the rough stones, shivering, wondering what to do.
"Come on, girl, you can swim. Get goin'," urged Lula, who had finally caught up. "There's a break in the wall just down there and you'll be able to climb out."
I started doggie paddling, still badly out of breath from the running and the shock of the cold water. The wall looked like it went on forever. Don't think I can make it, I started thinking. Maybe just a short rest. I stopped churning and began to sink, reaching out blindly for something to grab on to.
Then I heard the voice. "Babe."
Looking up, I saw a muscular mocha latte arm reaching over the wall and I grasped at it desperately. Man, is he ever strong, I thought as I was lifted out of the water one-handed. The next thing I knew, I was back on the promenade, dripping and gazing into those dark eyes, unable to speak.
I collapsed onto the grass beside the walkway, stretching out on my back in the sun, letting it warm my chilled body. Rolling my head to the left I met the beady eyes of Jeremiah Scroggins, on his belly in the grass, hands cuffed behind him. One eye was losing its beadiness as it started to swell, and he had the beginnings of a world-class shiner.
Wow, guess Ranger must have taken him down before coming to my rescue.
Half an hour later I was at the police station, wrapped in the blanket from the back of Ranger's truck, taking shit from Carl Costanza and Big Dog.
"A little late in the season for swimming, don't you think, Steph?" commented Big Dog.
"Wow, nice hair! Guess the wet look is in this season," was Carl's contribution.
"I'm just claiming my money," I told them. "So get the hell out of my way and let me get my body receipt."
As I finally exited the station, I looked across the lot to see the man in black in his classic pose, leaning against his truck, arms crossed, almost-smile on his gorgeous face.
"Come on, Babe," he said. "Let's get you out of those wet clothes."
Chapter 1—Return Visit
Ranger was silent as he drove me home. I'd used his blanket to try to keep warm, but I was still shivering as he walked me up and secured my apartment.
"Babe, I'm going to be out of town for a few weeks," he said, backing me against the wall in my tiny foyer. He pressed his body to mine and his heat soaked into me.
Now my shivering wasn't from being cold. His physical reaction to our closeness was obvious, and I couldn't help but moan as he pressed his hardness against me.
He responded with a slight moan of his own, and then his mouth touched mine very gently, his tongue parting my lips. Omigod. A flood of moisture soaked my already wet panties.
"If you need anything while I'm away, call Tank," he murmured against my mouth, and then he was gone, leaving my body aching and my hormones raging.
As soon as I could get my legs working again I headed for the bathroom, filling the tub with hot water and a little Bulgari shower gel. I stripped and sank gratefully into the heat and bubbles, lying back and relaxing, allowing the scent to soak into me.
I must have dozed off, because I awoke to cooling water. I drained the tub and turned the shower on to wash my hair, shave, and do all the other little rituals of beautification.
Just as I was finished rinsing off, suddenly the shower curtain was yanked back. I squeaked, starting to scream when a hand came across my mouth, stifling any sound.
"Shhh, Babe, it's just me." Ranger. My heart was hammering with fear at his sudden intrusion. But at the look in his eyes it started a skip-stuttering. His eyes were darker than I'd ever seen them, and he quickly turned off the water and wrapped a towel around me, keeping his arms around my waist and holding the towel closed at my back. Pitter-pattter, pitter-patter went my heart.
"Dios, Babe, seeing you there, all I can think of is the night you were handcuffed to the shower bar," and he lifted me out of the tub, pulling me tightly against his body. His mouth took mine, and I reached up and wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling out his hair tie and twisting my fingers in his silky locks.
Our tongues dueled, fighting for control of the kiss. His hands ran up and down my bare back, the towel opening. He grabbed my ass with both hands and lifted me against him, his huge hardness pressing against my center.
It was only natural to wrap my legs around his hips, using my muscles to draw us even more tightly in contact. The texture of his pants against my uncovered clit sent me spinning, and I gyrated against his cock until I came, crying out his name into his mouth.
"Stephanie, you have to stop. You're going to make me come," he panted against my lips.
With almost inhuman self-control Ranger pulled his upper body back from me, looking drugged with passion, his eyes completely dilated, his mouth open as he gasped for air. But his body against mine had been the only thing holding up the towel, and it dropped down to catch where we were still pressed together at our core.
The sight of my bare breasts, tips hard as rocks, tore a groan from him, and he dipped his head down to take a nipple, sucking it in, his tongue stroking it. It was my turn to gasp for air, arching my back and pressing my breast tighter into his mouth.
"Oh God, oh God, oh God," I moaned as he switched breasts, biting down gently on my other nipple. The feeling was so intense that I came again, his cock still pressing on my clit and his pants now soaked with my juices.
"Babe," he wrenched out, finally tearing away again, pulling my hips until my legs released him, setting me back down on the floor. My legs wouldn't support me, so he kept me against him until I was able to hold my own weight. He pulled the towel up from where it was still caught between us and wrapped it around me again.
"Babe…" His voice was gravelly and he cleared his throat. "I came back because I want to talk to you about something."
"Wh… what?" My voice wasn't much better.
"I need you to put some clothes on before I do something we'll both regret," he said roughly.
"What makes you think we'll regret it?" I asked.
"Clothes first, then talk."
I emerged from my bedroom a few minutes later clad in sweatpants and a huge black hoodie with the RangeMan logo on the breast, a souvenir from when I had commandeered Ranger's apartment when the Slayers were after me.
Ranger was sitting on the couch but rose as I came into the room, smiling at the sight of me. "I love seeing my name on your body, Babe."
I smiled back. "This is my favorite sweatshirt," I confided. "It warms me up when I'm cold, and makes me feel safe when I'm scared."
He sat back down, gesturing to a Pino's box on the coffee table. "Thought you might be hungry."
"Thanks," I said, popping into the kitchen to grab a couple of bottles of water and then joining him on the couch.
When we were finished eating, Ranger pulled me sideways onto his lap, his arm cradling my back against the arm of the sofa.
"So what did you want to talk to me about?" I asked.
"Babe, are you still with Morelli?"
So not what I expected.
"Well, we've been kind of off lately. To tell you the truth, our relationship has been deteriorating. It seems like all we ever do anymore is fight, him trying to tell me what to do and me refusing."
What I wasn't saying was that Ranger was a big part of the tension between us. Joe wasn't at all happy to have me anywhere near Ranger and kept warning me against him, telling me he was dangerous and crazy.
"Why do you ask?" I inquired.
He pressed his lips against the side of my head above my ear. "I can't explain right now, but I will when I get back. Just wait for me, Babe. Don't forget about me while I'm gone."
I tipped my head back to look into his eyes. "I could never forget about you," and I pulled his face down to mine to give him a gentle kiss.
He buried his face in my neck for a moment, and then rose smoothly, lifting me as easily as he would a child. He carried me into my bedroom and laid me gently on the bed, covering me up. He sat down on the edge of the bed and leaned over for a sweet and tender kiss.
"When do you have to leave?" I asked him.
"First thing in the morning."
"Stay here tonight? Hold me?"
Without a word he turned and removed his boots and socks, then stood to pull his shirt off. Wearing just his cargoes, he slid under the covers beside me, pulling me into his warm embrace. "Good night, Babe."
"Good night, Ranger."
My sleep was deep and dreamless, and when I awoke in the morning he was gone.