NOT Morelli friendly. LANGUAGE, SEX and ADULT THEMES apply. VIOLENCE. Death of minor character. MATURE Content. Happy Ending. I do not own anything, all belongs to Janet Evanovich.

Babe HEA. Some angst.

Little bit of SMUT.

Chapter Three

The next time I awoke, my shoulder was burning with pain and my stomach was rumbling. I snuck a hand out to search for Ranger and found the bed empty. Reluctantly opening my eyes, I found a clock that said it was 6 am.

The room was cool and dark. I took the time to study it, seeing as I assumed this was Ranger's bedroom. It was similar to his one at Haywood except this one was double the size and had a few more personal touches. There were a few pictures of Julie, starting with her as a baby, then growing up every couple of years along one wall. There was a picture of Ranger in his army uniform with a bunch of his men on the bookshelf... there was Ranger in his badass black with a bunch of the guys from Rangeman next to his army picture. And then on his bedside table, there was one of me in one of my more conservative distraction outfits, smiling after a job. Next to that photo, there was one of Ranger and I kissing against his car; I had no idea where or when it had been taken it... it still made my heart flutter all the same; he had a picture of me and of us.

Deciding I had laid around in bed enough the past week, I carefully rolled to my feet and staggered to the bathroom to take care of pressing matters. As I was washing my hands I glanced in the mirror again. Some of the colour had returned to my face, my eyes weren't red and puffy, but my hair was a little crazy. I found one of Ranger's leather ties and struggled to pull my hair back into a ponytail. I hurt my shoulder before I could even accomplish the task. Fuck, that throbs. I tossed the tie back onto the bench as a few tears fell from my eyes. Taking a deep breath, I splashed my face with cold water and ran my fingers through my hair, taming it slightly. I located an unopened toothbrush on the bench and cleaned my teeth. Oh well, that was the best I was gonna be able to do.

I quietly crept out the bedroom door and was confronted with a maze of hallways and doors. Shit. This house is huge; I'm so going to get lost.

"Ranger where are you?" I mumbled barely above a whisper, staring at the ground, contemplating my next move.

"Babe." Whoa! I glanced up and found him standing in front of me, leaning against the wall.

"Are you okay Babe?" I nodded and slowly walked over to him. His arms wrapped around me and pulled me into his chest. I felt him drop a kiss in my hair.

"I'm okay. Better now you're here." I confessed into his neck, where I had my face buried.

"You're up early." Huh? Oh yeah, I'm awake... this felt more like a dream.

"My shoulder had enough of sleeping and I'm a little hungry." I explained with a rueful smile.

"Wanna come downstairs with me Babe? We can find something for you to eat." He suggested, one of his hands rubbing up and down my back soothingly.

I made an affirmative noise.

Ranger chuckled and drew back from me a little. I gazed into his eyes and what I saw there took my breath away. Gone was the blank face. In its place were loving and happy eyes and a heart-stopping smile. He tilted his head towards me and softly pressed his lips to mine, pulling back to study my face. Whatever he found must have encouraged him, because his lips were back on mine eagerly caressing them in a heady kiss. When he released my lips this time, I was panting.

"Good morning, my love." He murmured, gently kissing my cheek. I felt myself blush. Affectionate Ranger was giving me heart palpitations.

"Morning." I shyly smiled before tucking my head under his chin, hugging him to me tightly. He chuckled again.

"You're beautiful when you blush," he declared. I blushed even more. "C'mon Babe." Ranger carefully untangled my hands from around his waist and captured one of them in his before he led us down the hall.

Three lefts and a right later we made it to the stairs. Just as we were about to descend, Bobby came sliding out of a doorway to our right in socks, boxers, a button down shirt with a loosened tie. His MP3 player was blasting in his ears and he was dancing like a maniac. I felt Ranger freeze as I burst into hysteric laughter. Bobby suddenly opened his eyes and stood stock still, his mouth hanging open. I collapsed against Ranger's side, his arm instantly sneaking around my waist, holding me upright and against him. Bobby yanked his earphones out and opened and closed his mouth.

"Bobby. Explain!" Ranger barked. I could feel him silently laughing. Bobby looked terrified.

"I... uh... I didn't think you two would be out of bed. I thought you'd be doing the dirty, you know cause Steph is better and you – well she's – and your... Ah – I'm going to go watch TV." Bobby stuttered before slamming his door shut. Then Ranger started laughing.

"I'm going to hold that over his head forever," He chuckled as he picked me up and carried me down the stairs, not stopping to put me down, as he made his way to the kitchen.

"I wish I had of taken a picture of that, he would have never been able to tease me about anything ever again." I sighed wistfully.

"I have it on video Babe, don't worry." Ranger chuckled again as he sat me on a bar stool. I decided not to ask. Poor Bobby. I watched Ranger in the kitchen as he made us a healthy omelette each for breakfast; although mine did have more cheese. He obviously knew his way around the kitchen, which was incredibly appealing for some reason.

My Sexy Cuban man.

"Babe!" Ranger growled as he placed the omelettes on two plates. He grabbed two glasses, filled them with orange juice and sat down next to me.

"What?" I took a bite and moaned. I love food. I love Ranger.

"Babe," He groaned. "You're playing with fire." I gulped. I swear I heard him mumble Sexy Cuban man under his breath.

Oops.

"Yeah oops," He stated, slowly devouring his breakfast. When we had finished, Ranger set the dirty dishes in the sink and carried me back upstairs.

"Rest Babe. You need to sleep so you'll heal." Ranger instructed as he tucked me into his bed again. His eyes were softly smiling down at me, but the rest of his face was completely serious.

"Okay Ric." I grinned as his eyes darkened and his hand gently stroked my cheek.

"Pleasant dreams," He whispered, pressing a kiss to my forehead. "I'll be back to check on you in a few hours.

Surprisingly enough, I fell back to sleep easily, dreaming of a certain sexy badass bounty hunter and of all the pleasurable things we could enjoy when I was well again.


A week passed in relatively the same fashion, I'd wake up to an empty bed, be carted downstairs by Ranger, fed and put back to bed. Throughout the day I'd be woken for lunch and dinner. Sometimes the three of us would sit down after our meal and chat or watch TV or play cards, something to occupy my mind for a little while. I'll be the first to admit that I was going a tiny bit crazy being cooped up inside all day. I'd spoken to the doctor most days; I was still restricted to bed rest and very limited physical activity. Apparently I had given everyone quite a scare.

This morning had been no different from the normal routine. Oh, except one small, teensy, relatively important detail. Ranger had been in bed this morning when I'd awoken. His deliciously naked body pressed against my equally bare skin.

I'd blinked up at him as he'd leaned over my body, his mouth trailing soft kisses from my belly button to the swell of my breasts. After giving each of my nipples a lick and a gentle nip, Ranger moved up my neck, across my cheek until he settled his lips on mine, languorously kissing me into a lusty frenzy. I'd panted as he pulled away an inch, staring at me for an exhaustingly long moment before his body shifted and he settled between my thighs, his lips back on mine. His throbbing cock pressed hard against me as his hips rocked slightly with mine. My arms were tightly wrapped around his neck, holding onto him for dear life, never wanting to release him.

To say the sexual tension had been slowly building between us for the past however many days would be the understatement of the century. Exploding was a more appropriate description... exploding, all engulfing, electrifying sexual tension. We'd admitted our love, built on our knowledge of each other and shared a good many heated kisses and a couple of almost unbearably seductive caresses. Ranger wasn't exactly a man to be denied anything, let alone sex. Sexual prowess seemed to ooze from him, his sexy swagger, dark eyes and toned body adding to the allure. Not to mention his tendency to slip into Spanish at a moment's notice.

A growl ripped from his chest, vibrating against my skin as his mouth licked and teased my neck. His warm hand slid down my side, resting on my hip briefly, stroking the soft skin of my tummy before cupping my breast and kneading it. I squirmed under him, writhing as he tortured me in the most pleasant way. Just as his hot mouth closed around my other nipple the door swung open. In a blur of movement, Ranger covered my body with the sheets tucked up to chin. He was up in a beat, off the bed, stalking towards Bobby, apparently unashamed of his naked, aroused state, a torrent of angry Spanish erupting from his mouth. Bobby was holding his own though, gesturing wildly at me and poking Ranger in the chest. I watched Ranger fall silent, run his hand over his face and into his hair. He flashed me a small smile before slyly smacking the back of Bobby's head and pushing him out the door.

"Ric?" I wondered, sitting up carefully, holding the sheets to my body as I attempted not to hurt my shoulder.

"Easy Babe." He was by my side in a second, his arms wrapping around my waist, pulling me up and against his chest. His head rested on top of mine as he simply held me.

I felt Ranger's lips press against my temple before he sat back, his arms only loosely draped around me now.

"Ranger." I whined softly, my eyes watching his.

"Babe, call me Ric please. I'm sorry... I'm too out of control to – we – I don't want to hurt you Steph. I shouldn't have even – I didn't think... Christ, I just want you so fucking badly..." My eyes fluttered shut as he rained kisses on my face softly. With one final passionate kiss, he got up and strode out of the room, fists clenched.

Sighing, I crawled out of bed, cleaned up a little in the bathroom and dressed in one of Ranger's shirts and a pair of his boxers.

I found Bobby and Ranger arguing in the kitchen; Bobby dressed in his Rangeman black, Ranger wearing a pair of low riding shorts. Licking my lips, I carefully slid onto a stool and downed a couple of my pain pills with a glass of orange juice. When I set the glass down I found both men staring at me.

"What?" I asked, snagging a piece of toast and slathering on some jam.

"Shoulder sore, Babe?" I did a half shrug and sunk my teeth into my breakfast.

I wasn't about to admit that I possibly overdid it with the holding onto him and squirming... I wanted some Ranger lovin' at the soonest possible moment – I also didn't want him treating me like a fragile piece of glass.

"Steph." Bobby folded his arms across his chest and stared at me.

"What?!" I cried, taking another bite. Good jam.

"I'll take a look before she lies back down. Get into work." Ranger spoke, his voice firm. Bobby simply nodded, said something in Spanish and walked out.

"What he say?" I mumbled around a mouthful of food.

"He told me to keep it in my pants." Ranger chuckled, kissing my cheek before he settled against the counter, assessing me, concern shinning in his eyes. "Babe if I hurt you – "

I cut him off with a hand across his lips.

"You didn't Ric. I'm fine. I got shot in the shoulder; it's going to be sore for a while yet. You know what it's like, better than anyone. It's only been... crap, two weeks." I frowned until I felt Ranger wrap himself around me.

"Babe. I'm glad I didn't hurt you. You're absolutely right, it is going to be sore for a while. Steph you were – I – you flat lined in the ambulance before we got to the hospital, your shoulder was a mess, torn to shreds, you had an allergic reaction to the medicine that was supposed to help and heal you. You're still on bed rest Babe, no one is expecting you to be up and around yet. You could have died. I shouldn't be pushing you to – "

I stretched up and covered his mouth with mine. He was blabbering. Fancy that.

"I love you." I whispered softly as I released his lips. "I want you." I murmured against his mouth before kissing him again. "Okay? I want you inside me, over me, surrounding me – you're the best lover I've ever had and I can't wait to have you again, as mine this time." I relaxed back into my seat, Ranger following me, his lips settling against my neck.

"I've been yours for a long time, Babe. Don't ever doubt it." I giggled as we teased each other and made out for a bit.

After breakfast, I was allowed outside for the first time, Ranger taking me on a short, yet revitalizing walk down one of the many garden paths that lay within his property. Apparently he had had extensive landscaping done.

Less than two hours later, I found myself tucked up in bed, naked, Ranger inspecting my shoulder, prodding the wound carefully. He laid down with me, my head resting on his shoulder, my nose inhaling his familiar scent. Within minutes it was lights out Stephanie.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

My shoulder was throbbing again when I stirred. I was really getting tired of it. Lifting my hand, I carefully prodded my wound, flinching as pain shot down my arm. Ouch. I whimpered and let my hand fall back to the bed. I took a few deep breaths and the pain eased away, gradually.

"Babe." My eyes flew open and found Ranger standing in the doorway. He pushed off the frame and leisurely advanced toward me. Sitting down by my side, he kissed me deeply, brushing his nose against mine for a few long moments before sitting up. "I love seeing you in my bed." He admitted hoarsely.

"I love being here, in it, and not just because of the 1000 thread count sheets." I gently smiled as he chuckled.

"Good. I'm glad Babe. You ready for some dinner?" Ranger asked running his hands through my hair, untangling some of my crazy curls.

"Yeah, let me use the bathroom and I'll be right with you. Wait, dinner?" I frowned as I carefully sat up.

"You slept straight through lunch. Bobby said it was better to let you sleep; that you will heal faster." I nodded as he helped me to my feet and escorted me to the bathroom.

Quickly doing my business, I ran a brush through my hair with my good arm. Not having much luck, I gave up, dressed and exited. It would be a while before I'd be able to tame it, at least until after my stitches came out, but I was going to continue trying. Ranger took my hand, giving it a small squeeze as we slowly progressed down stairs.

The smells hit me first, and I started drooling before we even made it into the kitchen. My stomach let out a loud growl in agreement, causing Ranger to smile.

"Let's feed the beast." I found myself seated on the stool that I now deemed mine, with Bobby on one side and Ranger on my other.

Bobby placed two pills down next to my plate, which I quickly took, sipping on my water.

"Steph?" I sighed and gave Ranger my squinty eye.

"I'm fine." I answered, moving my arm up and down a little to prove my point.

I was eyeing my food ravenously. It was a nice big slice of lasagne, completed with loads of cheese. There was a small handful of salad on the side of my plate, but I decided to ignore it.

"Dig in Bombshell." Bobby chuckled, shooting Ranger and amused glace. Sticking my tongue out at my – Ranger I took Bobby's advice and started shovelling food into my mouth, moaning with every bite. It tasted divine. I could feel both men shifting uncomfortably beside me, but couldn't stop my verbal appreciation.

When I had devoured my entire plateful, I sat back and patted my stomach happily. I was one satisfied woman. There was only one thing that would leave me completely satisfied though... I stared pointedly down at Ranger's lap, where one part of his anatomy seemed very happy to see me.

"Sorry Bombshell," Bobby cleared his throat gruffly, "You know there is no physical exertion for at least another few days; nothing that will pull your stitches." I blushed and shot a quick glance at Ranger. He was smiling. Bastard.

"Fine," I huffed, sliding off my seat and wandering over to the fridge. "Is there any dessert around here?"

Both men laughed at my question. I turned, one hand on my hip, and frowned at them. They both pointed to the oven. I squealed as I gazed inside.

Chocolate pudding!

"I'll get it out for you Babe. There's cream and custard in the fridge, and ice cream in the freezer." Bobby cleared the breakfast bar and I set it with the various toppings, bowls and spoons.

Bobby and I happily ate our dessert, while Ranger cut up some fruit and ate it with a tiny splash of cream. I was going to have to help him with his eating habits.

As soon as we were finished, Ranger lifted me into his arms again and proceeded towards the stairs.

"Ranger, wait. I'm not tired!" I complained, staring up at him as he continued on ascending.

"Who said we were going to sleep?" His eyes darkened as he spoke, a certain part of his anatomy hardening noticeably.

"I – but Bobby said, you said..." I stammered before he pressed a kiss to my lips.

"I can be gentle, Babe. I will be gentle." My chest constricted as his breath washed over my face.

"Yeah?" I gasped as he slowed down, juggling me so my legs could wrap around his waist. I slid my uninjured arm around his neck, leaving my other hand on his lower chest. His grip on me tightened right before his mouth found mine.

"I'll show you." He whispered around soft kisses, his lips barely leaving mine. A tingle shot down my spine as I felt him fumbling with the door knob behind my back.

I watched as Ranger kicked the door shut and gently deposited me in the middle of the bed. After a few heady kisses, he moved back to the door, locking it securely. I bit my lip as he shed his shirt, crawling over me, being careful of my injury. Oh my God, we were really doing this. Thank you Lord!

"Ric," I paused, holding my hands tentatively against his tense chest.

"Steph? What's wrong Babe?" His intelligent eyes surveyed me tenderly.

"Why didn't you show up when my car was destroyed?" I whispered tentatively.

"I was in DC Steph, offline. I returned the morning after and went straight to the bonds office. No-one had had time to brief me." He murmured, touching a finger to the ends of my hair. They were probably still singed, unless someone had thought to give me a haircut.

"Really?" I whispered.

He gave a slight nod and lowered his mouth back to mine, his tongue finding his way through my lips touching mine, sliding against it sensually.

Questions bubbled through my mind, doubts, fears and old worries creeping under my skin. I pressed my hands against his chest again, flinching as he drew back from the kiss and dropped his forehead against mine, closing his eyes and sighing heavily.

"What is it Babe?" He inquired. I hesitated before speaking, his eyes popping open to observe me. "Steph?"

"How do you love me? You said there were different kinds of love? Which kind do you feel for me?" I wondered, biting down on my lip as I felt irrational tears prickle in the corner of my eyes.

"Steph..." His voice hoarsely croaked before he kissed me softly, my chest tightening as his lips moved gently against mine.

This kiss was different to any other we'd ever shared... more intimate... more special... it conveyed a whole range of emotions that started a waterfall of tears.

"I love you how a man loves a woman. I love you with all my heart. I feel empty when I don't see you during my day. You're the last person I think about before I go to sleep at night and the first when I wake up. I worry about you all day. Hearing your voice brightens my day. I adore you, Babe. I'm sorry I said it came with a condom, not a ring; my love is unconditional. I can't live without you." He finished chocking on his emotions slightly, burying his face in my neck, breathing me in deeply.

"Good answer," I whispered, sniffling.

His lips brushed against my neck, his tongue darting out to lave the spot lightly before his lips sucked gently.

"How do you love me, Babe?" He breathed gingerly.

"You fill my heart; you give me wings to fly. You're the most important person in my life; the best thing that has ever happened to me. I'm in love with you." I half shrugged, crying and laughing as he pulled back, a radiant smile on his face.

"Good answer," he echoed, rolling over onto his back, dragging me over his chest, his hands gently caressing me everywhere at once.

Without warning, his hand captured one of my thighs, lifting it higher as he slid his cock slowly into me. We were both panting when he was finally settled deep inside me.

Home.

We were both home.

Life with Ranger wouldn't always be all smiles and sunshine, but if we always had this connection, I felt we'd make a damn good go of it, regardless.


The End.