The good the bad and the ugly
It had been three months since Joe and I had got together and started to act like grownups. No more running away from our problems, no more screaming and yelling – well not as much anyway. Things were going great. He'd been promoted to department head and I was getting used to the idea of a more stable relationship. We'd even talked about moving me into Slater Street permanently. Bet that surprises you doesn't it!
Thanksgiving and Christmas had been fun and we'd even spent pleasant time at the Morelli table. Angela seemed to accept me more and more and Grandma Bella hadn't given me the eye for ages. Life was good.
Joe and I had agreed to disagree about my job. I still did it and rolled in garbage and tackled naked men with boring regularity, but he'd made me promise to get trained. Which I was starting to do. I now run every day (except when it snows) so I'm less wheezy when I finally catch my faster skips.
I hadn't blown anything up for ages (not that it was ever my fault, you know!) and no-one had sent me any messages or gifts of 'love'. Life was good.
So, what was the problem?
Did you need to ask?
Currently he was working at his Miami office and although we talked periodically – mainly when I needed help – oops – he was keeping his distance and I missed him.
I missed the stolen kisses and innuendo. I missed his calming influence and I missed his smell. Ok, so I missed lots more but I'm a good guilt-ridden Catholic girl and I know I'll go to Hell if I tell you what else I missed. Mainly though, I missed his friendship or whatever it was we had.
Not that Morelli was bothered if I never saw him again, but I was.
Anyway, shall we continue.
Two days later...
The sun streamed in through the window and I suddenly felt a strong hand caress my shoulders and move down my back to my ass. Almost immediately this sensation was followed by a large, warm 'wooden' implement being thrust between my legs. Morning Glory. Oh boy!
"Morning Cupcake" Joe moaned throatily.
Yum. I love my morning wakeup calls...
Quite sometime later we both surfaced from the shower where we'd finished our daily ritual. Did I say ritual?! Yep, every morning we woke in a similar fashion and depending on how much time there was we either played slow and soft or fast and dirty. All good to me.
As I finished getting my hair tamed I trotted down stairs to see Joe finishing a call. "Little early to be calling you, isn't it?" I asked.
Joe turned to me with a silly look on his face. He didn't know whether to be happy or sad. The look confused me.
"Cupcake, how would you feel if we moved away?"
I gulped. "Moved away? How far?"
My face must have shown the panic that was building up inside me. Little did Joe know that it was the fear of leaving a certain Cuban man that made me feel this way. What if I didn't get to say goodbye? What if I never saw him again? Crap!
Joe took pity and pulled me into his arms "Let's talk about this tonight when I've got some more information. I've been put forward to head up a whole division just north of New York. It would be a massive step up and it's everything I've ever wanted. Let's not jump to conclusions though, I still need to be interviewed, it may not ever happen. Can we talk about it tonight though?"
I noticed he didn't mention me as being all he'd ever wanted. He must have realised his omission because he continued "it's all I've ever wanted as long as it's with you."
With that he upped and left for the day.
I had a lot to think about.
I pulled into the car park by the office and found a space not too far away from the door. Grabbing the bag of donuts and the tray of coffees I'd just bought I ran inside to avoid the rain that was pelting down. I made it in without getting too wet and was greeted by a very unhappy Connie and Lula.
"What's this that you're moving?" Lula spat at me in full rhino mode, hands on her very ample hips. I noticed she was wearing bright green spandex and the full package was a little daunting to say the least. I shrank back slightly.
Crap! Joe and I had only been talking about it 45 minutes earlier. How does the news travel so fast? Is his house bugged for Chrissake?!
"Before you give yourself a heart attack, Joe only got a call about it less than an hour ago. We haven't even had time to discuss it. How come you know about it already?" I asked, looking surprised and puzzled at the same time.
"Eddie found out from Big Dog last night who told Shirley and she told Moira..."
"Enough!" I said putting my hands up to slow her down and slumping into the fake leather sofa, trying not to drop my precious cargo. Connie had walked round her desk by this time and had taken the coffees and donuts out of my hands and plopped them onto her desk. Her previous venomous look was replaced with something softer – thank God.
Vinnie chose that moment to stick his head round the door "you can't leave until I find a replacement so you will need to give me at least 3 months notice if you decide to quit. Check your contract." He gave me a hard stare before slamming the door shut and locking it loudly, obviously not a happy camper. Yeesh.
"Joe doesn't even know what the odds on him getting the job are so we're going to talk about it tonight. Ok guys? I promise you'll be first to know if anything happens. Honest."
I'm not sure if the girls believed me but hey, even if Joe got the job was I prepared to march off leaving my life behind me?
We sat silently munching the sugary goodness from the donut bag and drinking our coffees as we watched the rain pour down onto the tarmac. I was mesmerised by its pattern and had fallen into a bit of a trance when Tank and Bobby came in to pick up some files. Connie reached down and picked up a pile of buff coloured files from the floor and passed them over whilst nodding in my direction "someone might be moving to New York if Joe gets the job he's going for."
Tank stopped and looked at me, quizzically. "Thanks, Connie" I said glaring at her "he only found out that he's in the running this morning and everyone is already convinced we're leaving. You'd miss the excitement." I said, trying to raise the mood of the place. Everyone looked at me as if I'd produced an eggy fart in a lift.
Tank said a few words to Lula before analysing me and walking out with a thoughtful look on his face.
"If you see Ranger, tell him I'd like to talk to him." I said to Bobby's back.
The door shut quietly and all hell broke loose.
"You can't leave, White Girl. We need you. Hell, even Vinnie would miss you. Please tell me you'll think about it before throwing us out your life." Lula scooped me up and began to sob loudly. "What about Ranger? I know he still loves you. Tank still thinks he's mad to have let you go back to Officer Hottie".
Connie was nodding in agreement with everything she said. She had a tear in her eye which she pretended was a stray eyelash and began to fish it out.
"Hi Honey, I'm home!" I yelled as I walked into Joe's silent house. Bob came bowling round the corner and nearly ran me over. I stepped out of the way and he went skidding down the hall, stopping just short of the front door. "Hey, Big Fella" I said affectionately as he came back, I rubbed the top of his head between his ears. He jumped up on his back legs and tried to cover my face in slobber. So not going there. I pushed him down gently and headed into the kitchen to put some coffee on. I grabbed his lead and led him out of the back door and we set off at a brisk pace so that he could mark his territory. Luckily I'd thought to pick up a pile of plastic nappy sacks as we exited the house as he seemed determined to empty at least his body weight onto the pavement. Lovely.
We arrived home to the smell of pizza. Joe had set himself up in the lounge and was munching on a large slice of sumptuous greasy goodness. "Hi, Cupcake, I stopped at Pinos - I've put the rest in the oven – I wasn't sure how long you'd be."
"Thanks." I shot back and went into the kitchen following the smell to the oven.
Five minutes later all three of us were set up in the lounge. Bob had scarfed his portion down in seconds. I guess he'd created loads of space following our little walk. Joe and I were still eating when he turned to look at me with a mouth full of pizza.
"What?" I asked, grinning. I could guess where his thoughts were going – to the bedroom judging by the twin pools of liquid chocolate that were looking me up and down.
I needed to know what had happened about the job so quickly changed the subject.
"So, what did you learn about the New York job?" I started, making it clear that we were going nowhere until we'd have our little chat. Aren't I grown up, huh?
"Ah" he started, rubbing his hand across his chin. "Looks like there'll be no interview."
"Oh, Joe, I'm sorry" I said as I patted him on the forearm. I really was. I knew he'd been looking at the long term for a while now and he'd been spurred on by his recent promotion. Inside I did a mental happy dance. I could return to the Land of Den...
"You've got it all wrong. There's no interview because the job's already mine! It would appear that I've been head hunted for a new role that's been created in a new division. If I want the job I start in two weeks." He looked at me carefully with a huge grin on his face, judging my reaction to the news.
"Wow" is all I could say.
"I've got to go up on Wednesday to meet the start up team and make a final decision. I'd really like you to come with me, let your spidey sense give it the once over. It's just as much for you as for me."
I knew he was trying to be nice. He would gain everything he'd ever wanted. A huge promotion. And me all to himself. We could stop and have a family...
But I'd have to stop being a bounty hunter AND I'd have to pretty much sever my ties to all the people that I loved, including Ranger. Could I do that?
"Wow" I said again.
"Please say you'll at least consider it. Please Cupcake. Please?"
How could I refuse? Three pleases in the same sentence. How could I refuse?
"OK." I said grinning, even though my heart was flipping about and I felt sick to my core. "When you put it like that. I'll think about it." We finished eating and went upstairs to celebrate his news.