Sorry if this is a bit confusing but I made a few small changes to the story, nothing big, just a couple extra tid-bits along the way, (if you don't feel like reading it over again, don't worry, it's the same) and some spell checking and one of the chapters was too long so I split it in two, which is why the epilogue is being added as a new chapter now.
I added a couple extra lines here and there to the epilogue, making it a bit more thorough, but everything is basically the same. I did add some pictures, not many, just the house and that kitchen I love so much. Link is in my profile.
"Come on, Max, roll over." I say to the tan puppy. "Roll over."
He looks at me like I'm insane.
I sigh. "It's like this." I demonstrate one more time, rolling over on the area rug in the living room.
"Babe." Ranger says from behind me. "The point is to get the dog to do it."
I roll my eyes but get up and greet him. He pulls me into a hug and kisses me. "You're home early." I say against his lips.
Our foreheads are touching, "I thought I'd finally move in the rest of my stuff and set up the office." He says before he kisses me again.
It's been a few months we came back from Tampa. Ranger and I are in a really good place; it took a while for me to learn to trust him, but I'm slowly getting there. We both had make some adjustments to make our relationship work, but we were both all in, finally. I officially invited Ranger to move in a week ago. It's not like we didn't spend every night together anyway, either here or at the Haywood apartment.
Ranger kept his word; he didn't push me away, but he didn't pressure me either. He wanted me to trust him on my own. For the first month back, he always knocked before coming in. It still makes me smile when I remember the look on his face when I finally gave him the security codes and a copy of my house key. He was downright effervescent. He picked me up, kissed the hell out of me and proceeded to carry me into the bedroom to show me just how happy he was.
I gave up my apartment, finally, and donated all the stuff in there to good will, except the piano. The house was finally done a couple weeks ago, and I loved it. There was a spare bedroom upstairs for the girls with a corresponding bathroom decorated with daisies. There is another spare bedroom all done upstairs but the third bedroom is bare for now. I have no idea what to do with it. Anyhow, now we were moving things around to make it suitable for Ranger also. Part of the large basement became a gym, the other half became another den with a giant projector for watching movies, although we also have the main living room upstairs. I changed some of the more feminine things to something a little more gender neutral, but mostly everything is the same, I didn't have that much girlie stuff to begin with. We still have the froggy toothbrush holder, if you're wondering, but I did give up one the walk in closets in my bedroom to Ranger (and believe it or not, there are not only black clothes in there. I swear, I even saw a green shirt, I think). The study in front of the house is currently being changed into Ranger's home office.
"I'm so glad you repainted the room," Ranger says me as we walked hand in hand to the empty office. The furniture is piled into the library for now, since we got the painting done yesterday.
I giggle, "You didn't like it before?"
"It was pink."
"It was coral."
"What, you're not man enough to have a coral office?"
"Alright then," I say with a laugh. "I originally wanted to go for that green, remember the sample?"
He makes a face. "Too bright. Who can concentrate in a bright office?"
"Whatever. Stick with boring earth tones, then."
Ranger wraps his arms around me. "So it's official now."
I lean against him. "Yep. Having second thoughts?"
"Not one. You?"
I shake my head. "No." I spin around in his arms."I love you."
He smiles and kisses me hard on the lips. "I love you, too." He says when we finally pull apart.
"I thought since the house is finally done and you live here now that we could have a barbecue as a house warming party. We could invite the guys, Lula, my parents, my sister and her kids, maybe Kloughn."
"You think it's safe to have Kloughn around my men, Babe? He may not survive."
"He's not that bad. He grows on you… like mold."
Ranger looks like he's thinking about smiling.
"Tell the guys not to pack any heat just in case. Especially since my grandmother may be here."
Ranger shudders when I mention Grandma Mazur. "I'm not responsible for what they do to her if they're provoked."
I giggle. "I'll make sure she's on her best behavior." Max picks that moment to nudge Ranger's leg. "The girls are going to flip when they see the puppy!"
Ranger and I went out a week ago to Point Pleasant for the day, to enjoy the Indian summer weather and we walked by a pet store where Max here was pacing in the window. He's a mastiff puppy, only two months old, and I fell in love. He's so adorable and going to be huge, but I like it better that way. Now we're both parents to Max and Rex (who got a much bigger cage when I moved him in here). Max finds Rex very entertaining. He'll watch him spin around for ages. What an unlikely friendship.
My mom still comes by to teach me how to cook every once in a while, but then Ranger later teaches me how to make the same thing without all the fat and cholesterol. Believe it or not, it still tastes pretty good. And I bake a lot now. I try to keep it healthy, but sometimes I just bake whatever I see in the dessert cookbook I bought. Ranger does have a little bit whenever I make it, but I consider it a triumph when he eats desserts at all. Usually its me and the girls who finish it.
As for the girls, Ranger gets along with them really well. He doesn't go riding with us, he's usually working but he did discover Angie's secret passion: reading and writing. She spends hours in the small library in our house with her nose in a book or reading the newspaper. She admitted to him that she wants to be a journalist, which I think is amazing. On the days the girls come over, her and Ranger always talk endlessly about whatever book she's currently reading or whatever article struck an interest with them in the paper.
We don't really want to have our own kids in the near future; neither of us is ready for that. We're happy with Max and Rex. I don't see myself being a responsible enough parent, though I'm sure if it did happen on it's own, by some miracle, we'd be fine with it.
Safety isn't really an issue I'm concerned with when it comes to crazy skips; Ranger takes it seriously enough for the both of us, but since our relationship is very public, people know to back off from Ranger's woman. The one guy who did try to get to me shortly after we got together ended up... well, wishing he was dead. Word spread after that.
We spend a little while setting up the desk in his office and by the time most of the furniture is set up we're both a little sweaty. Ranger has discarded his shirt and I'm staring at him like he's lunch.
"See something you like, Babe?"
I nod. "Yes. Want to hop in the shower with me?"
The wolf grin comes full force. "I've got a better idea." He pulls me to him, puts his hands on my butt and lifts me up. I wrap my legs around him as he carries me, peeling off our clothes along the way. I'm not paying attention to where we're going but I think it's probably the bedroom… until I hear the screen door open and shut.
I pull my lips from his, look around the back yard and suddenly understand what's happening. I squeal. "Ranger," I warn, "Don't you dare!"
But I barely get the words out before he's jumped into the pool with us both, laughing the entire time.
"Ranger!" I exclaim when we come up.
"Sorry, Babe," his eyes are twinkling, "I like seeing you all wet."
I blush. "The water is cold!" I protest in mock anger.
The way he stares at me makes me hot all over. "Don't worry, I'm about to warm you up." He pushes me against the wall of the pool and presses his body against mine. He's kissing my mouth, my neck, my shoulders... I close my eyes as his head disappears under the water, feeling his lips make their way down—
You see, now I'm happy.
I really hope all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thanks again :)