A/N: This story is BABE. Not Morelli friendly...he's only going to be mentioned once or twice, and that's it.
Summary: Steph, Ranger, Lula and Tank go to Australia to catch a skip...you'll have to read it to find out the rest :D
Romance/Comedy Rated PG15+ (for the moment)
Warnings: Minor Language, heavy petting, smut in later chapters... don't know about violence... probably not.
All recognized Plum characters/settings/plots belong to Janet Evanovich
Great. It's early November, pitch black outside, indicating that it's unfortunately still night time, freezing cold, and I'm awake. That means either one of two things. One, a psycho/stalker/creep is on the prowl in my apartment, or two, Ranger's here. I really hoped it was Ranger, my one time lover, my constant mentor and protector and the man I am secretly in love with...well maybe to most it wasn't a secret, but I hadn't told anybody, so that classified it as a secret to me. And, if it was him, then I wouldn't have to leave my warm nest of a bed. A girl's gotta have her priorities.
I felt the familiar tingle shoot down my spine and sighed with relief. Batman was in the building. I rolled onto my back and searched him out, locating him lounging in his favourite chair.
"Hey Batman, visiting hours are between sun up and sun down," I grumbled as he chuckled and stood, moving to sit beside me on the bed. He leaned over and gave me a slow kiss hello.
"Babe," he murmured, removing his lips from mine, but doing little else to move away from me. My heart started thumping double time at his close proximity; my brain started to melt just a little.
"What can I do for you Ranger?" I wondered, focusing hard on getting the words in the right order. Batman was screwing with my equilibrium.
"I need a favor." I nodded. I would do anything for him. If he asked me to jump off a cliff, I'd do it without a second thought...well actually, my thoughts would probably revolve around wondering if he was planning on diving right on after me, saving my life in some way or another...
"Okay shoot," I squirmed a little under his heavy gaze before he shifted back, finally, to turn on my bedside lamp.
I blinked as the bright light flooded the room; my eyes took a few minutes to adjust.
"Sexy," Ranger smirked, tugging on one of my crazy curls that were probably shooting out in every direction.
"Hey man of mystery, you make house calls in the middle of the night and this is what you get! Zombie Steph!" I announced, folding my arms petulantly.
"Not Zombie Steph, Sexy Steph. And it's 9:30 pm Babe." Oh...I'd been asleep for half an hour. Guess it wasn't the middle of the night.
"So what's the favor you need?" I wondered, trying to divert my brain from thoughts of Ranger calling me sexy twice and what that might mean, and what that might lead to in the future...hmmm future and Ranger; has a nice ring to it... if only.
"Babe you are sexy," he smiled a little and kissed my lips softly, his body leaned over mine again. Automatically my heart rate did its thing again and a little more of my brain melted...I hoped it wasn't seeping out and making a mess on my pillows.
"Ranger, you came to me, you need the favor. Stop distracting us both and answer, please," I glared at him.
"Babe.I don't think your death ray is working. I'm standing right in it and I'm not dead yet," he smirked.
"Smart ass. Just tell me," I demanded, freaking out a little. If the Mighty Manoso was procrastinating over asking me a simple favor... then the favor probably wasn't so simple – but nothing ever was when it came to Ricardo Carlos Manoso.
"Relax Babe. I need to ask you a question." I breathed a little easier. A question, he just wanted to ask me a question. I could do that.
"Ok," I squeaked, giving the affirmative for him to go ahead and ask away.
"You and Morelli. What's the story?" I blinked, my jaw falling open. His fingers grazed my chin until my mouth shut. I had in no way expected that question to come out of his mouth. He knew the story. Hell, he was a key player in the story.
"What?" I asked, my mind racing. Why the hell did he want to know?
"What's the go with you and Morelli at the moment Babe?" Ranger repeated, slower. Did his eyes look tense? Was his jaw just a smidgen tighter than moments ago? Shit.
"I...uh...well he...you haven't heard?" I wished he had, I didn't want to tell him. Besides, he's Batman, he is supposed to know everything...right?
"Stephanie." Uh oh. He used my full name. Not good, abort Stephanie, abort, abort! His hand carefully griped my chin, his touch soft but firm; forcing me to look into his eyes...not that it was a hardship on my part...I loved his beautiful, dark, intelligent eyes. "Tell me Babe... please," My will power... snort, like I have ANY will power...crumbled easily as that one word left his lips, and I sighed in defeat.
"We broke up for good a month or so ago. He recently started dating a primary school teacher. They're already talking about marriage, kids, the works. We're still friends though, and I doubt that will change any time soon." Batman's shoulders eased down, a smile graced his lips, and even his eyes started smiling brightly. I didn't understand why he was so happy; I had lost my last chance at ever settling down...probably my last chance of actually having a permanent, stable man in my life, well, so my mother kept insisting anyway. Even my Grandma Mazur couldn't understand why I had pushed Joe away. Crap, now I was going to cry. I started blinking frantically; I think a half sob might have snuck out.
"Babe...Babe, shhhhh, what's wrong?" How the hell did I tell him I was upset because I was going to die alone, probably sooner rather than later, and that it hurt that Joe had moved on from me so fast? I was glad to be rid of him though, sure, Ranger had been right all along; we hadn't been doing each other any favors by sticking together. I loved Joe, but as a best friend or a brother...I hiccuped and took a deep breath, my tears easing.
"Nothing. Nothing is wrong Ranger. I'm glad I broke up with Morelli, we had an unhealthy relationship." He gave me a smile, but I could tell he didn't buy my 'nothing' spiel.
"Anything else you need?" I inquired; already starting to nestle down in my bed, ready to go back to sleep and pretend this conversation didn't take place. Hell, what conversation? This was just a dream...yeah, a dream. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, all I could smell is the scent of Ranger and Bulgari. Mmmmm, yummy...my two favorite scents.
"Babe!" Ranger sounded amused. I cracked open my eyes and looked up at him, raising my eyebrows. What? I'm tired, I had a rough day and now I want to go to sleep and forget it ever happened.
"What happened Babe?" He asked while he pulled off his boots, socks and mega utility belt.
"Uh, Ranger...what are you doing?" My eyes widened as he shrugged his jacket off, pulled his shirt over his head and his hands moved to his pants.
"Do I have any clothes here Babe?" I nodded and pointed at my set of drawers. The first two held a lot of his clothes...even a pair of boxers. Don't ask me how they all accumulated there! I personally think they're multiplying like rabbits while I'm out during the day...WHOA! Ranger just stripped out of his cargos and slipped into the pair of boxers. Oh boy, was that a sizzling, hot damn picture for sore eyes. I could have certainly died a happy woman in that moment...well maybe after a Ranger induced orgasm or two...
He stalked back to the bed and slowly peeled the covers off of my body. Ranger's 1000 watt smile graced his face at what he saw, his eyes growing dark, his shorts fitting snugger, before he climbed in and hugged me close to his chest. He heaved a content sigh. I wondered if the world just stopped turning; was Batman allowed to sigh?
"Ranger?" I mumbled, my brain going fuzzy once again. His lips pressed to mine before trailing lightly down my neck, his nose brushed up and down against the column of my throat. I bit my tongue to stop myself from moaning. God, it had been way too long between orgasms.
"You're wearing my shirt and those panties with my name on them," Ranger growled possessively, proudly. I nodded helplessly. It's not like I could disagree with the man!
"They make me feel safe," I whispered truthfully. Damn, the words just slipped right out of my mouth. Ranger paused, his movements stilled. Great, now look what you've done Stephanie! Please don't send me to a third world country, please, please, please. My hair will NOT cope in that kind of environment, say hello to afro Stephanie.
"What happened today Babe?" He requested, his voice dropping down a notch, the huskiness of it sent a shiver down my spine, straight to my doo-dah. Don't moan, don't whimper, don't sigh...
"Same old, same old. Another day, another stalker," I shrugged, which was no easy feat with him wrapped around me.
"WHAT?" I flinched. Oops. His eyes flamed, his nostrils flared...and then he took a deep breath and returned immediately to calm Zen Ranger. Whoa, that was freaky...I needed to learn that trick. "Steph, why didn't you call me?" I shrugged again and lowered my eyes, unable to keep meeting his burning gaze.
"Like you need to bleed anymore money over me; you would have just put a man on me, or more than one. There's no need," I try to answer casually, with a light laugh. Ranger stayed quiet for a few minutes, my nerves were almost shot to hell.
"What happened today?" He asked, his tone slightly clipped. Ranger meant business; his voice and posture indicated he would get an answer out of me, one way or another. I decided to go with the easy option and just told him. Who knew what he'd try if I didn't?
"A couple of creepy notes, a few pot shots and then I almost got kidnapped," I summarized.
More deep breathing from Ranger.
"Almost?" His jaw was clenched as he spoke. Hmmm, too bad I had nowhere to run to when he had his arms trapped around me like this. I should plan my get away route better next time...oh boy, I'm already contemplating pissing Ranger off a next time? I must be going insane...too many shocks from stun guns.
"I shot one in the kneecap, stun gunned the other and then hand cuffed them together and high tailed it out of there," I replied thoughtfully, remembering my hell of a day.
"Your gun was loaded?" Wow, his voice didn't even contain a hint of the surprise I was certain he'd felt.
"My gun was loaded," I agreed, satisfied with my efforts to keep safe for the day. Loading my gun had really paid off today; a split second decision this morning had practically saved my life.
"Proud of you Babe, but please call me next time, when you start getting the creepy notes, not when you're being kidnapped." I nodded. Ranger's lips brushed my forehead softly before pressing against each eyebrow, then my nose and finally lightly against my lips.
"Are you hurt? Need the hospital?" I shook my head in the negative.
"I've already been and got a band aid," I teased. He didn't smile.
"Show me!" He demanded. Man, is Ranger in a weird mood tonight or what.
"I, uh...alright." I wiggled out of his grasp and laid face down on my stomach before shimming my shirt up. Ranger took it one step further and removed the shirt over my head with one tug. I was left, practically naked in front of the Cuban Sex God, in just my black panties.
"Your shoulder Babe?" He asked, tracing the gauze bandage with a gentle finger.
"I was stabbed in the back, literally," I giggled, but I didn't think Ranger found it as amusing as I did. I blamed the pain meds for the giggling.
Soon I felt him peeling the top off and lift the gauze.
"Babe, this needed more than a band aid," Ranger murmured. I relaxed as his lips connect with my skin, butterfly kisses were trailed around my row of stitches. "How many Babe?" I shivered as his fingers redressed my wound and he flipped me over, pulling my shirt back on me.
"Only twenty five stitches," I sighed as he leant over me, his hand splayed over my stomach as he kissed my lips again. Ranger pulled back, flipped off the light and dragged me across his chest. I tucked my head under his chin and smiled happily.
We fell silent and I was, again, steadily heading back into dream land.
"Babe, come to Australia with me," his words jolted me wide awake.
"Uh oh Ranger. Who the hell did you kill this time that you need to run off to a giant desert island?" I asked, panicked. Ranger started laughing. He fucking started laughing! He just asked me to jump on a plane and fly half way around the world and he starts laughing? At least it would be warm there...
"No-one Babe. And it's not a giant desert island... it's a continent." I giggled at his dry humor, unable to help myself. Ranger humor was a rare treat.
"Ok, sure. But Ranger, why the hell do we need to go to Australia?" I demanded, stroking his chest softly, inadvertently. His smooth, gorgeous, ripped chest...
"Is that a yes?" I could hear the smile in his voice as his hand caught my fingers and brought them to his lips, treating each one to a slow, wet kiss. God I was a goner.
"Well, I mean, I wouldn't say..." I tried to dig myself out, without any luck.
"We're going to get a skip."