A new story of mine...

Steph accomplishes something unbeknown to anyone...even Ranger. Babe story. Babe HEA. Very Morelli UNFRIENDLY. Some angst but lots of fluff to counteract it.

Language, Sex and Adult themes apply.

All the characters belong to Janet Evanovich...im not making any money...



I had finally done it. I sat there amazed beyond all belief.

Ten months ago Ranger had left on a mission, nine months three weeks and six days ago I had permanently called it quits with my ex-boyfriend Joe Morelli and today I sat here with a piece of paper in my hands. I had sacrificed a lot to be sitting there with that piece of paper, a hell of a lot more than I ever had dreamed I would have.

All the furniture in my apartment had once again been pawned; I had no food in the refrigerator and the only thing I had in the cupboards was a massive box of instant noodles that kept me alive. Bounty hunting had taken a back burner to part time weekend work and I had been working at Rangeman during the week as much as the guys would let me. The guys had been forcing me to train four sessions a week so now I was extremely fit and gag healthy. I could now pick up five or more skips a day without a worry. I ate dinner every night at my parents' house, unless Eddie or Carl turned up with a pizza. Sometimes the Merry men would take me out for lunch or a dinner at Shorty's.

All my money had been focused on three things. My bills, my rent and my tuition. That's right, the Stephanie Plum had even foregone shopping for ten months to obtain a silly piece of paper and I was damn proud of it. Of course the one in my hand now was a photocopy. The real one was safely tucked away in a safety deposit box in the bank. Knowing my luck, the second I brought it home my apartment would be firebombed, hence the photocopy. In actual fact it should have been three pieces of paper, but some scungy bastard had decided to cram all my achievements onto one page.

And the best part about it all? No-one had any damned idea what I had been up to. That just seemed to make it all the more special...that for once in my life I had actually done something...just for me. And I had done remarkably better this time around, doing something that I actually enjoyed. I knew that if I had told my family I was going back to college, my life would have become an even worse hell, so I didn't. And with the burg grapevine the way it is I hadn't told a single friend. I just wouldn't have been able to cope with my mother pressuring me to do a course she deemed fit so I could quit my awful job and get married to Joseph. Morelli and I had been over for a while and he was now in a steady relationship with a Fed from New York, I think. Good luck to her! I wouldn't trust Morelli as far as I could throw him. We still weren't friends, even though that had been the one relationship we had seemed to do ok at.

I had walked into Joe's house after a particularly crappy day. Ranger had just gone in the wind for God knows how long, I had rolled in garbage twice, gotten two abusive calls from my mother as well as hundreds of voice messages, some skip found it amusing to stab me in the stomach and Morelli had left a message on my machine stating "we need to talk". Hey, at least my car or apartment hadn't blown up yet.

So there I was fresh out of the hospital with twenty two stiches, the knife having missed my vital organs, on the verge of collapse and I entered his house to the sounds of his groans and a woman's moans of pleasure. I was having a hard time working up my denial...not even I could deny how shit this day had gone or what those sounds meant.

Slowly making my way up the stairs, wincing at every step from the pain shooting across my stomach I made it to his bedroom door. It was wide open and he was riding none other than Chloe Schadella, one of the most popular girls that I had had the pleasure (cough) to attend high school with. I guess high school never does really end; the pretty popular girls always do win. So I stood there, leaning against the door way, waiting for them to either a, notice me or b, finish up so I could tell Morelli to shove it, metaphorically speaking. I stared at the ceiling, waiting and waiting. After around ten minutes their moans stopped but still I continued to stare at the roof.

"Jesus Fucking Christ Stephanie!" Joe cursed. Yep that's what I had been waiting for. The woman shrieked and I rolled my eyes. I now moved my gaze to the floor, still not wanting to look at them. Shoving my hands in my pockets of my jeans I heaved out a deep sigh.

"I doubt I'll ever speak to you again after this Joe so listen good. I hated being your fuck buddy, yes the sex was good but there was no love lost between us. All I really wanted from you was friendship but you couldn't even offer me that. I knew you were screwing around on me, but you kept telling me you loved me, you freaking proposed to me and I decided for once not to listen to burg rumours. Because I do love you Joe, even if it isn't in an 'I want to marry you' kind of way. And yes that's an answer to your proposal, I won't marry you. This is it for me. You've given me ultimatums, tried to pressure me so many times into doing what I don't wish to do, tried to take me away from the few friends I do have but most of all you've broken my trust. Not just in regards to you but with everyone Joe." I blinked furiously trying to fight the tears that I knew would fall any minute.


"Save it Morelli, I'm through and if you follow me or come up with some God damn excuse about how this isn't what it looks like you'll be sorry. I entered the house well over fifteen minutes ago so I know damn well that it is exactly what it looks like. I'd like to tell you that I hate you and that you're the scum of the earth but I doubt it will make me feel any better. So this is the last time I will ever give you a verbal response or an indication that you exist. Goodbye Joe...nice to see you again Chloe" And I turned and walked calmly down the stairs as fast as I could without tearing my stitches.

Once I was out the door I let the tears flow down my cheeks. I always knew that when Joe and I called it quits it wouldn't be a big screaming match...but this was just downright depressing. Stumbling to my car I calmly opened the door and drove off steadily...wouldn't do to have the burg grapevine start up with me running from Morelli's house. I at least wanted until morning til I had to deal with those phone calls.

I felt a few tears trickle down my cheek. I didn't miss Morelli, not in the slightest, but the feeling of hurt and betrayal still burned in my chest. And I now I didn't trust anyone. Not Tank, not Lester, not Bobby or Hal, not Lula, not Mary Lou...no-one, not even my family. When the Dick had done it, it tore a chunk of my heart out but when Joe did it...someone I had known my entire life and who I at least thought was my friend...it just decimated me completely. Because if you can't trust someone you thought was one of your closest friends then who can you trust?

I collapsed onto my bed in my thinking position and fought off sleep. I really actually needed to think this time. I needed a solid plan of attack. My life needed to change. I needed rules, moral codes and such to live by so I would hopefully screw up less.

So that night I had made a plan. No more emotions, no more fun, no more screwing up. I was going to work at Rangeman during the week, bounty hunt on the weekends and go to Night College. The best part of the course I had enrolled in was that I had already achieved over half of my credit points thanks to Prior Learning assessment. I still had to sit all the exams but had passed with ease. The no emotions thing had taken time but I now had a blank face that would rival Ranger's. I had had no time for fun and as time went on I was screwing up less and less.

I had had three stalkers, all of whom I shot...dead, and now I hadn't been bothered in over six months. Skips didn't run from me nearly so often and I hardly ever got thrown into garbage. I guess you could say I had an ok street rep. And now that I had finished my bachelor's degree and two certificate courses, I would finally be able to start replacing my furniture...not that I really needed it anyway. All that I had left, I sadly realised as I glanced around my apartment, was my bed, a microwave and a coffee machine. No couch, chairs, dining table, TV, cabinets, oven...I had been able to pawn it all.

Walking into my bedroom I opened my closet. It was mostly a sea of black. Seven set's of Rangeman uniforms, two pairs of CAT's, a black windcheater and sweatshirt. There was a short black distraction dress, two pairs of black FMP's and a black knee length pencil skirt. In my colour section, I had one white tight business blouse, three pairs of jeans and a handful of non-descript t-shirts. The only pyjamas I owned were the ones I was wearing now. A black tank top and grey sweat pants. In summer I simply shucked the pants and slept in my jocks and top and in winter if it got particularly cold I threw on my sweatshirt. Most of my jewellery had also gone as well.

I hadn't been happy in a long time; in fact I could hardly remember what happy felt like. I guess I was happy now. I had just completed something monumental in my opinion. But now I had no goal to work towards any more. I'll just throw myself further into my work I guess, at least it is something I enjoy...no matter how everyone in the burg thinks it's inappropriate or how my mother constantly berates me to change careers or how much my friends gossip or bet on me. Sighing, I turned off the lights in my apartment, placed my glock under my pillow, the .38 tucked into my pants and placed my piece of paper in my safe along with my various other weapons I had learned to use. I suppose I could start saving my money for a trust fund for Mary-Alice and Angie. It's not like I really need money anyway. Curling up in my bed I completed my daily ritual...praying that Ranger was alive, safe and healthy wherever he was.

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