The standard disclaimers apply. I make nothing except the satisfaction of a little bit of fun and amusement.
Warning: This story has several adult themes, strong language, strong imagery, and sexual content. Characters are all adult, speak and act as adults and even make choices of their own free will.
A/N: While I enjoy both Morelli and Ranger, this is a MM story in every way. Ranger will be a minor player and while not injured in any way, Morelli is only mentioned briefly in the first chapter. This story is from Manny Ramos' point of view, how he sees things and how he interacts with the world.
Expect the Unexpected 01
"Pay up, guys," I said to the small group at the Side Pocket Palace. The Side Pocket is a pool hall/dive on the wrong side of the tracks. What the guys from the office and I like about it is that no one ever bothers us when we come to blow off a little steam. The beer is cheap enough and some of the waitresses are my type, blonde and petite. I like the uniforms here too, short and tight; I've been told they only come in size small and extra small.
"It can't be true, Morelli was supposed to break up with her," Tank said. "By my calculations it should have been next month right before Christmas. And if there was enough drama involved in the split, I was going to be a rich man. I had plans for that money. Big plans."
"Tank, whenever you think you actually understand a woman, you are automatically wrong. Haven't I taught you anything?" I asked. I'd learned that lesson the hard way and tried to teach it to my friends and acquaintances. We shouldn't all have to learn the lesson the hard way.
He shrugged as he opened his wallet and counted out some bills.
"It's only a C note, right?" he asked. "I can swing that easy."
I pulled a card out of my wallet to verify the results of the pool.
Double if Stephanie Plum broke up with Joseph Morelli. The payoff was three to one if she did it in a public place. The money went up four times if it was done in a civil manner. I pointed to his name and the amount he'd initially put into the pool and I smiled. My lack of trust in women was finally going to serve me well, sometimes cynicism pays off.
I shook my head and pointed to a figure that he'd not only written but initialed was valid. I' do that whenever I make book on something, anything. It keeps things clean and easy when it is time to be paid; less arguments and back peddling.
Eventually after much belly aching, all five of the guys paid out, except for Lester. Don't get me wrong, I like Lester but I don't trust him. I never have, he reminds me of me about ten or fifteen years ago.
"Dude, I'm out of money," he said displaying a cavern devoid of bills inside his wallet. "Can I trade some numbers from my black book and we can call it even? I'll give you ten chicks who are sure things."
I shook my head slowly and said, "No, dude, not interested. I have no problem getting laid. Besides, most of the girls in your black book have been with me and they're still in the Manuel Ramos book of lists complete with likes, talents and predilections. Those women aren't in my regular rotation because they couldn't keep up with me or weren't willing to be flexible. I shared their info with you which is how you knew they'd be sure things."
"Oh yeah," he said trying to look sheepish. "Sure thing, God that's my favorite phrase."
It was mine, too. A sure thing, according to my own definition: no strings attached, no guilt involved, no commitment needed, a good time to be had willingly by all involved.
"Pay up, Lester, or I'll call half a dozen of them and tell them I'm from the health department and they need to go in for an exam. I'll tell them that they've been with someone who lives a life of risky behavior and they've now been exposed to some of that risk."
"Fuck. You wouldn't do something like that, would you?"
"Try me. I can think of several who will panic and discredit your mojo in under twenty minutes. You'll lose out on several more sure things."
"I'm sure there's got to be something you'd trade, or maybe you can wait a couple of days?"
"No. You knew the rules. You also took one hell of a risk. That was a lot of money to put on the table."
He shot me a look that he couldn't believe this was really happening to him. "I wasn't supposed to lose. I never lose."
"Well bright boy, you should know better than to bet against the house. Now, no debates, I'm in no mood. Got a credit card?"
"Then we're going to cash advance your card to pay down a small part of your debt."
We tapped out the max available on four of Lester's credit cards with a promise to do the same on the next business day.
It isn't like I'm a total ass. It's just that when I take a risk, I'm prepared for the consequences; good and bad. Long ago, I never considered how sour things could go, since I've learned my lesson I no longer plan on a positive experience.
It was the proverbial cold day in hell when it happened, the Friday after Thanksgiving to be exact. Stephanie Plum had finally cut all ties cords and connections with Joseph Morelli and she did it quietly and discretely in a public place. I would have given almost anything to have been a fly on the wall.
How do I know it's true? Easy. My cousin, Estaban, works at Rossini's and has for years. Lucky me, he was on duty when Stephanie showed up with the cop and he waited their table. Somehow Estaban has waited on her several times when she's been to Rossini's.
Coincidence? I think not.
Estaban sees Stephanie Plum as an actress in his own private novella. He doesn't know much about her, he doesn't need to. He's made up some fantastic stories all by himself. He could write scripts and sell them to Univision based on his perceptions, observations, and imagination. He'd make a fortune, too bad he isn't more motivated.
Evidently the cop thought that it was going to be a romantic dinner on all levels. Estaban heard Stephanie tell Morelli that she was making some changes; he'd like some and wouldn't appreciate others. He seemed to really like the sound of that until he heard that the changes didn't include him. Because Rossini's is considered a nice place, there was no damage to the china or the crystal; it might have been different somewhere private.
As a result of said cold day, I was afforded enough cash to buy myself a BMW R60/2 1961 to fix up, it probably needs twice its purchase price in parts and materials to be cherry again. Sure, I have a thing for classic motorcycles, but why not? They're classic for a reason.
The real reality of it is that you can only store and work on so many toys at a time. Right now I had BMW 1965 R 60/2 that set me back eight grand and 1979 Triumph Bonneville Special 750cc that needed work, but I'd had my heart set on getting a 1947 Indian Chief for a couple of years. Someday. Someday soon, I'll be able to afford the ride of my dreams; just one big pool to pay off and I'll be set for several months of fun.
To my way of thinking, nothing is as satisfying as working with my hands. Taking something that no one wants or respects and turning it into a masterpiece is incredibly fulfilling. There are no emotional outbursts on behalf of the machines, just my own. The whole process can be a profitable enterprise and there's nothing wrong with a little profit.
Where do I have my own version of fun? Years ago, I bought a small spread outside of Trenton. The point of having it was to have a place to house my projects and tools. By watching my bills, putting every dime into the place I could get my hands on, and an insurance settlement, I paid the place off in six years. Granted it needs a lot of work, but I didn't want to have a big payment hanging over my head every month forever. I'm a big believer in function over style.
It suits me to live on Rangeman property when I'm working, it's convenient even if it reminds me of living on a military base at times. But my playtime is my own and I spend it where I choose and with whom I choose. I try to spend as much time at my own place as possible during my off hours, it gives me a chance to reflect and escape from life and my own realities. It is my private haven and I keep it that way.
I hope that you find something to enjoy in the story despite the warnings at the begining.
thanks for reading and reviewing. Alf