Disclaimer: JE owns them. I do not.


Support Me When I Fall


Stephanie's POV

I stood on the sidewalk, watching the flaming remains of my latest POS car. Happy Valentine's Day to me. I sighed inwardly, feeling a familiar tingle on the back of my neck only seconds before strong arms wrapped around me and pulled me into a hard chest.

"You okay, Babe?"

I looked up into Ranger's dark, hooded eyes and smiled. "I'm fine; just a little shaken up. I was halfway inside when it exploded."

"Any idea what happened?"

"Remember Tommy Franklin?"

Ranger nodded.

"Apparently, his cousin Carla wasn't too happy that I picked a member of her family up last week and put him back in jail. I hadn't gotten any threats or any hint that there would be trouble, but I was just walking into the bonds office when I saw her drive by and throw a bottle into the car. I'm assuming it was a Molotov cocktail, but I could be wrong."

His eyes darkened and his arms tightened around me, but Ranger didn't say a word. He simply stood there, holding me and letting me relax in his embrace. He was supporting me, just like he always did.

We were standing there, Ranger's hands running up and down gently on my back, when Joe pulled up on the scene. I immediately tensed until Ranger hugged me tighter. Joe and I had been fighting almost constantly for weeks, and I was about at my limit.

"Cupcake, what happened now?" Joe trudged over to us, already waving his arms in that oh-so-familiar, classic Italian way. "I was just about over the embarrassment of your last mistake, and now you have to go and do this again? This wouldn't happen if you would just quit playing around at this job and settle down with me. We've been over this!"

I sighed, patted Ranger's chest, and turned around in his arms to face Joe. "Joe, I have some things to say, and I want you to listen." I waited to continue until I was sure he was paying attention. "You have never supported anything I want to do. You say you love me, but you wonder why I haven't been able to say those words to you. Well, how can I love you when you don't even care what I want? You can hate the danger that comes along with my job. I understand that. Even if you hate that danger, you should love me enough to support me and catch me when I fall. The worst thing a guy can do is make a girl fall for him and not catch her. You wonder why I always turn to Ranger when I need help or support? It's because he's always there to catch me; even when I do something reckless or stupid, he's there."

Joe sputtered, "But Cupcake, I love you, and—"

I interrupted him with a hand up between us in the air. "Stop, Joe. I can't do this anymore. I'll always treasure our history, and I hope that one day, we can be friends, but both of us deserve to be happy. You need to find that special someone that will be the person you want her to be, and that person isn't me. Goodbye, Joe." I leaned forward, brushed a kiss across his cheek, and then pulled back and gave him a smile.

He looked at me for a long second and then at Ranger's arms still wrapped around my waist and sighed. "Well, this wasn't how I'd planned to spend Valentine's Day, but I guess you've made your decision. Be happy, Steph. That's all I can ask." He turned and walked away, sparing me one last glance as he moved to talk to the other policemen at the scene.

I almost sagged against Ranger's chest, actually relieved that the yo-yo relationship I'd had with Joe for the last few years was finished. "So, Batman," I started, grinning. "Got any plans for Valentine's Day?"

I looked back up and into his face. He was staring down at me with smoldering eyes of pitch black. "I do, Babe. We do."

I sighed happily when he turned me in his arms and kissed me softly.

"Let's go home, Babe."

Oh yeah, Happy Valentine's Day to me!