Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, they are all the property of Janet Evanovich.

A/N: Here's a one shot that I had the idea for the other day. I hope you enjoy! It's completely BABE, but it is Cupcake friendly!

By The Way They Dance

Joe's POV

I sat in the church, inwardly cursing the fact that Lula was Stephanie's best friend. Don't get me wrong, I like Lula well enough when she isn't scaring the hell out of me, but it meant that I had to be present at her wedding. I hated weddings. I have always had these bad feelings at them, like there's some kind of itch that I can't scratch.

I especially felt that way lately. I don't know why Stephanie and I aren't married yet. I guess it is because both of us are nervous about the commitment. Anyway, no matter what the reason was, I didn't want to be there today.

Stephanie had readily agreed to be Lula's maid of honor. The only other bridesmaid was Connie. Lula was wearing some kind of cream colored gown that looked great with her skin tone. She had decided to dress her bridesmaids in brown, knee length dresses that were completely invisible compared to Lula's usual tastes.

Tank had asked Manoso to be his best man, and Lester stood to Manoso's left. Tank, or should I say Pierre, looked like he was going to pass out from strain, but he still looked completely happy. The moment that Lula had walked through those doors, he had lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. It made me writhe in jealousy. Not for Lula, of course, but for marriage. I guess today is an odd day of the month.

I returned my stare to Stephanie and saw her exchange a glance, no, a secret smile with Manoso. Lester was also smiling, but he looked more likely to burst into laughter at the look on Tank's face.

Through the entire service, silent tears rolled down Stephanie's face. I had never seen anything like it in my entire life. She does the same thing at funerals. Even at funerals of people she hated. She had never even met my cousin Julia, but when I took her to Julia's wedding, she had sobbed the entire time.

My eyes weren't the only ones focused on Stephanie. Manoso's eyes had never left her face, even when he turned over the ring. I couldn't help but feel jealous. I've always trusted Stephanie, but I knew that if Manoso was given half a chance, he would move in on me without a second thought.

When Lula and Tank exited the building and climbed into a limo, I made my way through the crowd towards Steph. I saw Manoso wrap my girlfriend in his arms and gently kiss her brow. I fought down my inner caveman and ignored it. I even ignored it when he brushed the tears from her face. When I finally reached her, Manoso had vanished.

"Hey Joe." Steph grinned, her eyes bright from tears. "We've got to hurry to make it to the reception."

I had to use my Kojak light to make it to the hall before the music started. I had inwardly flared with jealousy when Stephanie told me that she'd have to dance with the best man for the first dance.

"It's just a dance, Joe." she said calmly when I asked why. "Lula's orders. Connie's having to dance with Lester. I would be more worried for Connie's virtue." She kissed me on the cheek and hurried off to find Lula.

She's coming home with you, idiot! I told myself. It made me feel a little bit better.

I found a table that was beside the dance floor, and took a seat. A few minutes later, a group of older ladies came and commandeered the table beside mine. I was just happy that Steph's grandma wasn't in that group. She scares the hell out of me. I tuned them out when I realized they were just going to do a commentary on everyone in the crowd.

I didn't really care about receptions or dancing, so I went into my bored 'zone' as Steph called it. I registered the music vaguely. It was an excellent song that I'd heard before. A band called Jump Little Children sang it.

And the one step and he's sliding
And the two steps and she's gliding
3 and the 1 and the 2
And then they float in the air

"Just look at them." A woman with hair that I'm sure was meant to be red, but more along the lines of pink in actuality said with a sigh. "I'm going to cry. They just look so perfect dancing that way. It reminds me of my first husband, God rest his soul." I glanced up, expecting to see Lula and Tank. My mouth dropped open when I saw Stephanie and Ranger.

Side to side and she shows him
Back and forth cause she knows him
Round and round again
All that see them can't help but stare

A painful sensation swept through me as Manoso danced Stephanie by my table. They were completely unaware of the rest of the world. Manoso's left arm was wrapped tightly around Steph's waist, and his right hand was encasing hers.

Cause everyone knows they're in love
Everyone knows they're in love
Yes and everyone knows they're in love
By the way they dance

I watched them dance with a sort of hollow distanced frame of mind. Manoso's face broke into a smile as Stephanie stumbled a bit. He righted her easily, his grace obvious to everyone. The smile, which was itself a shock, wasn't the end though. He placed a kiss on the top of her mass of curly hair. Stephanie's smile was so stunning; she looked like the happiest woman on earth. I've never made her smile like that.

Cheek to cheek cause he needs her
Hand in hand as he leads her
Face to face cause they know
They'll never dance alone

Manoso pulled her closer so that they could dance cheek to cheek. His eyes closed, and I could see that he was breathing her in. The look of bliss on his face was almost painful. Like a man that was about to lose the most precious thing in the world.

They're steps brought them around, and I saw that Steph's eyes were closed as well. She had a look on her face that was clear to me. She looked like her heart was being physically ripped out. The last time I had seen that look on her face, I was eighteen and just done the stupidest thing in the world. I had been walking out of the Tasty Pastry and Steph had been gathering her clothes.

I don't think that I'll ever forget that look. I read Romeo & Juliet once, in an attempt to woo some English major. The look that Stephanie was wearing now was just how I had pictured Juliet's look to be when she woke in the tomb to find Romeo dead beside her.

Cause everyone knows they're in love
Everyone knows they're in love
Yes and everyone knows they're in love
By the way they dance

Manoso and Stephanie were oblivious to the fact that the rest of the dancers were missing their steps and stumbling while they stared at the glow that practically shined around the dark man and the woman he obviously loved.

By the way she moves in circles
Ever so sweetly she wins him completly
By the way he holds her so gracefully
The hand that he lends her is able and tender
Never a step to chance
Cause everyone knows they're in love
By the way they dance

Manoso opened his eyes and pulled his face back so that he could stare into Stephanie's big blue eyes. It was bizarre that this would be the one time that I had ever seen him lose his awareness of the rest of the world. I'm sure he's never been so unaware of his surroundings. Both of their arms tightened in anticipation of the end of the song.

Cause everyone knows they're in love
Everyone knows they're in love
Yes and everyone knows they're in love
By the way they dance

Manoso rested his forehead against Stephanie's, and I saw a tear run down her face.

"Won't you look at that?" a voice asked. I looked over and saw the old ladies all had tears in their eyes. "This is almost painful to watch. You'd think they were star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juilet!"

"Absolutely! They look at one another like they'll never see each other again."

Cause everyone knows they're in love
Everyone knows they're in love
Yes and everyone knows they're in love
By the way they dance

I broke my eyes from the dancing couple and headed for the side door. I exited the hall and pressed my back against the wall of the alley. I heard the door open and close, and a large presence leaned against the wall beside me.

"How long have they been like that?" I asked Tank in a controlled voice. I was actually very proud of myself. He sighed.

"Are you sure you want to know?" Tank asked.


"It started during the Slayer incident. You know Steph stayed at Ranger's apartment while he was out of town?" I hadn't known that, but I nodded anyway. "By the time she was kidnapped by Constantine Stiva, they were looking at each other like they were doing tonight. You never guessed?"

"I didn't want to know." I answered simply. "I just wanted her to look at me like that. If they love each other, and I know they do after seeing that, why is she with me at all? Why isn't she with Manoso?"

"I think, partly, she doesn't want to hurt you. She loves you too." Tank left the rest of that sentence unsaid, but it still hung in the air between us. But she loves him more. "Partly, I think they are both scared to take that leap."

I nodded. God, but that hurt. It must be karma. I had known what I should do from the moment I saw the look she had given me in the Tasty Pastry directed at him. "Will you tell her that I got called in on an emergency?" I asked Tank.

"Of course." Tank replied. "I'm sorry that you found out this way, man."


Steph's POV

When Lula and Tank were safely on their way to Fiji for the honeymoon Ranger had given them, I sighed in relief. I couldn't wait to get back to my apartment. A lot of little old ladies had stared at me through the entire reception, and they would wipe tears away every time I caught them staring. It was completely creeping me out.

Ranger had been called out on a job after our dance, and I had spent the rest of the reception dancing with each and every Merry Man that was in attendance. Lester was going to pay for groping me the entire dance. I was completely exhausted.

Luckily, I made it to my apartment without falling asleep at the wheel, so I took that as a good sign. I opened my apartment door and my eyes were immediately caught by a large cardboard box that was sitting on my kitchen table.

I called Ranger from my cell to see if he could come check it out, and I grabbed the gun from my cookie jar. When Ranger let himself in, I was standing with gun drawn in a corner so that no one could sneak up on me.

"Babe." he laughed. Ranger opened the box and stared inside for a moment. Then he reached inside and pulled out two envelopes, and handed one to me. I sighed in relief when I recognized Morelli's handwriting.


After seeing you dance with Manoso, I would have to be blind and deaf to miss the fact that you are head over heels for him. I love you, Cupcake, but I don't want to be Paris to his Romeo. Take a chance, it's probably worth it.

Best Wishes,


P.S. I'm officially setting you free. You've always wanted to fly, and I want you to be able to do that.

I sat down hard on the floor. Ranger sat down beside me and took the letter from the floor where I'd dropped it. He wrapped his arms around me.

"What did yours say?" I asked curiously.

"Something that I should have been told a long time ago." Ranger replied, handing me his letter.


Get your head out of your ass and show her the respect she deserves. Tell her you love her. She's the only one who doesn't know. I was fourteen years too late for that chance. Here is the quote of the day for you. "Realize what you want. It keeps you from chasing butterflies and puts you to work digging gold." William Marston

Joe didn't sign his name to Ranger's letter. I glanced up at the man I loved more than life and couldn't speak. What should I have been told a long time ago?

"I love you Stephanie Michelle Plum. I don't want you just for one night. I want you for as long as I can have you. Will you give me a chance to make up for all the stupid things I've said?" Ranger's eyes were open and honest. I couldn't believe that this was really happening.

"Absolutely!" I whispered, putting my arms around his neck.

Cause everyone knows they're in love

Everyone knows they're in love

Yes and everyone knows they're in love

By the way they dance