Not mine, but a girl can dream.

Warning: language and and smut.

Thanks so much to Rach for her work as a beta and a partner in crime.

Chapter 24

Unable to take it any longer I wiggled out of his grasp and wiped the tears from my eyes, giving him a big shit eating grin. "You're right Lester, you shouldn't have. Payback's a bitch." His mouth that was hanging open in shock slowly curved into a smile as understanding dawned on him. "Thanks Les, apology accepted."

Better Man 25

Storyline borrowed from Lean Mean 13

Les pouted the whole way over to Diggery's. Aside from his annoyance at being played, I could tell there was a big part of him that was proud of me for getting out of the cuffs. There was a smaller part that even thought my revenge was pretty funny. There was one particular part of him that was probably regretting that my sex-addict persona was only a ruse. I tried really hard not to think about that part. But we made peace as we turned up the creepy country lane that lead us to our destination.

It had been a week since I'd visited the Diggery trailer and while my life had undergone major changes in those seven days, I can tell you Ty Pennington and his crew hadn't been here for an Extreme Home Makeover. There were at least 4 cars up on blocks in the front yard as well as a pathetic collection of lawnmowers and snow blowers that had seen better days. The vinyl siding on the trailer was faded and curled in spots. The place was completely depressing. Really, we were here to do the owner a favor by escorting him to a state sponsored vacation in the TPD lock-up. Room and board all paid. Semi-private lodging. Well, the extremely public shower and toilet were drawbacks, but beggars can't be choosers. Off I go, Stephanie Plum, travel agent for Trenton's less desirable. Lovely. I should add that to my business cards.

It was quiet when we approached the door. I knocked politely but after getting no answer I let Lester kick the door in with his big ass Bates boot. He was really in a mood to kick something after being tortured and I was all for Diggery's door instead of my ass.

The trailer was dark and musty. Stepping into the living room I hit pay dirt. There, in a lawn chair that looked to be held together mainly with duct tape, was Simon Diggery, passed out drunk in the middle of what could only be termed as a Man Cave. There were dead animal heads and whole fish attached to the walls. There was a big-ass TV I'm sure was hot. The Diggerys' were as close as Trenton, New Jersey came to a hillbilly family. They were resourceful and used things up until they fell apart; the man thought anything could be repaired with Gorilla glue and duct tape. I was all for living off the land, but digging up the people buried in it and relieving them of their valuables was crossing the line.

The ass was still wearing my sweatshirt. To make matters worse, he now had my matching sweatpants on as well. I noticed a familiar duffle bag on the floor next to his chair and it finally dawned on me how he ended up with my things. My New Year's resolution had been to be more prepared. Since I regularly ended up covered in garbage, food and personal lubricants while apprehending my skips, I started packing a change of clothes to keep in the car. The S.O.B. had taken the duffle out of the trunk of my car! Eew, I peeked in the bag and noticed the change of underwear was also missing. I was not about to check and see if he was wearing those, too.

Lester lifted the wiry little man over his shoulder and hauled him out to the SUV, poor Diggery still dead to the world. I turned to follow him when musical chimes started to sound. It was coming from the bedroom. I knew that sound. My clock! Aunt Tootie's clock! He must have grabbed it when he took the clothes. I followed the sound of $40 million dollars into the next room. There on top of the dresser sat the bane of my existence. That stupid clock had nearly gotten me killed. I crossed the room and snatched up my timepiece.

As I turned to leave, I tripped over another duffle bag and dropped the clock. The bag looked like the one I'd seen Diggery with at the junkyard the other night. Curious, I bent to investigate the contents that spilled out onto the floor. Half a dozen GPS units, nearly a dozen iPods, a leather jacket, random cds, and four handguns. He'd been scavenging. I guess if no one else was going to claim the stuff before the cars were crunched he probably felt like he was doing a public service. I shoved the stuff to the side and grabbed my clock. I was afraid I'd broken it. It was making a hissing noise, along with the regular ticking. But the hissing was getting louder and louder. Movement on the bed caught my eye. Oh holy shit. That wasn't the clock hissing, it was the snake.

Fuck. I hate snakes. Actually, hate doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about snakes. They freak me out. I can't even look at them in the pages of a science book. During the last Harry Potter movie I watched a few of the scenes from inside my sweatshirt. And that was on the movie screen, this thing was live and huge and headed straight for me. The massive reptile was slithering down the bed with its tongue doing an excellent KISS impression. I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out. I was shaking; I knew I should turn and run, but my feet were like cement. And then I heard him. Lester, yelling for me. I heard his booming footsteps as he called my name. I wanted to call out to him, warn him. I tried, but no words came out. The door was straight ahead on my left and I was standing at the foot of the bed. I could sprint for the door, but the snake was more than half way down the bed and would be able to cut me off at the pass.

I saw Lester's head as he reached the bedroom. His eyes found me and immediately swiveled to the snake. "What the fuck?" His eyes went wide in surprise. Guess I forgot to mention the possibility of a snake on our way over. I watched his eyes dart from me to the snake as he tried to plan. Whatever he was about to come up with, it was too late.

The next few seconds were a blur. Suddenly Lester was down on the floor semi-conscious, the snake had a big gaping hole in it and I had my gun in my hand. True to form though, my feet hadn't moved an inch. I grabbed my phone from my belt as I moved on wobbly legs. I shrieked, stepping over the dead snake. It was still twitching. Lester was swearing under his breath, trying to prop himself up from being sprawled on his stomach.

Then I noticed there was blood on one of his hands. I kneeled down next to him, sure to have his body between me and the snake as I shouted, "Les, you're bleeding! Les, where are you hurt?" After a few tries he finally answered me. Well I guess it was an answer, sort of. He mumbled something like "sonofabitch," as he clutched his ass. Then he passed out.

I moved his hand. There was blood seeping from his pants. Shit. I shot him in the ass! I've been shot it the ass and it hurts like a bitch. If I wasn't already on his shit-list, I definitely would be now. I didn't think I could roll him over to get his belt off. There was already a tear in the fabric, I'm guessing from the bullet, so I set my phone and gun down for a moment and ripped. Huh, all Rangemen must go commando. At least there wasn't another layer of fabric to deal with.

I hadn't shot him. But if possible, it was worse. There in the middle of his very fine ass cheek were two fang marks. Little black dots danced in front of my eyes.

After several deep breaths I was able to pick up my gun and phone, pressing speed dial one.

"Yo," came the deep, reassuring voice.

My voice cracked, "I, we…found the clock, I shot a snake and I don't want to suck venom out of Lester's ass. Help." I was just starting to calm down when the snake's body gave a big twitch. I pointed my gun at it and emptied it. Then I passed out.

My nose twitched with the smell of antiseptic. The steady beeping of an electronic monitor clued me in to the fact that I was once again waking up in the hospital. But this must be a nicer hospital than usual. The bed was awesome and so comfy and it smelled amazing. Just like Ranger. I snuggled in closer and my bed chuckled and vibrated. Opening one eye I found that it was not an amazing bed, but Ranger's lap.

While that in and of itself was wonderful, the better news was that I wasn't the patient. I looked across the room to see Lester in the hospital bed. He was quite the sight with his bandaged ass in the air. I quickly turned to Ranger, "Is he going to be alright?" Ranger nodded and smiled, placing a kiss at my temple.

"He'll be fine. Didn't even have to suck the venom out of his ass." His grin got bigger.

I gave him a pissy look, "What do I know about snakebites? In all of the westerns you see them suck the venom out. I love Lester, but I really didn't want to do that." He chuckled again.

"You did great. The bite wasn't that deep, you kept the snake from releasing any more venom into him." I did great? I shot a snake to pieces. I shivered again, just thinking about the snake. Ranger's grip tightened on me. "Cold?" I shook my head no.

"I just hate snakes." I made a face to reflect my feeling about gross, disgusting, slithering reptiles.

"Really Babe? I couldn't tell with the six bullets you pumped into it." He was chuckling again.

"It wasn't my fault! It was self defense!" Well at least the first couple of bullets were anyway. The rest were simply for my mental health.

I was saved from explaining any further when Lester started to groan. I hopped off Ranger's lap and moved to his bedside. Lester opened one groggy eye and looked at me and groaned again, "My ass is on fire." I tried not to laugh at him.

I brushed his hair out of his eyes, "It's just the snake bite Les." His eyebrow shot up in surprise.

"I got bit in the ass by a snake?" I bit my lip, partly because I felt responsible and partly because I felt a case of the giggles coming on. But I nodded yes, hoping he'd remember so I wouldn't have to explain. But you know how my luck is. "I don't remember the snake. I thought you bit me."

My eyebrows went up in shock. "What? You thought I bit you in the ass?"

Lester closed his eyes and a goofy smile came over his face. I was hoping it was the drugs. "Uh huh. The last thing I remember was you inviting me to a threesome with you and Ranger. So I figured either it went well and you left your mark on me or it went badly and he shot me in the ass."

Ranger, who had been quietly standing behind me, was suddenly very tense as he spun me to face him. His face wasn't exactly blank; in fact he looked pissed. Oh shit. His face said: explain.

"Ranger, remember the text you sent earlier? About the bakery?" He gave me a slight nod. I swallowed, "Well I was just giving Lester a taste of his own medicine." Now both of Ranger's eyebrows shot up. I may not have worded that properly. Before I could explain anymore Lester interrupted.

He was rambling, "Ranger man, I'm sorry I broke her. I didn't know the cuffs would do that. She was all sweet and innocent and now she's a sex fiend, molesting you in front of the men, comparing yours and Morelli's technique and sharing more than I ever wanted to know about another man's junk. Dude I'm so sorry. We need to get her some help. She invited me to join, said you liked to watch." His words were kind of slurred, like the pain meds were the ones talking.

I closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands. How do I explain this? I peeked at Ranger. His face was hard, his lips were drawn tight. I peeked at Les and he was once again out for the count. Thank god. Looks like my plan came back to bite me on the ass, no pun intended. I needed to deal with this before it got any farther out of control. I took Ranger by the hand and led him back to the chair we'd been sitting in and pushed him down into it before sitting in the chair next to him. I'd thought about sitting on his lap, but I didn't want to push my luck.

I took a deep breath and started to explain the big mess I'd made. I explained that my goal was to make Lester uncomfortable and guilt him into apologizing. Since Lester was so sex obsessed, I'd decided to use it against him. Ranger's face softened as I explained the plan.

"You told him about the truck?" Ranger looked shocked. I bit my lip and nodded, hoping he wouldn't be mad. "And the Tasty Pastry?"

I shrugged, "I reminded him about losing my virginity behind the cannoli case." I could tell he was starting to relax and he believed me.

He shook his head, "Only you, Babe."

I smiled, "And it worked really well too, he was swearing and mumbling, he threw a fit!" I laughed remembering how well it worked. "I had to convince him that handcuffing me turned me into a sex addict. So I sort of told him I was wearing you out and told him you might be looking for help and invited him to join us." The last part I said really fast and as quietly as I could. His bark of laughter startled me.

In an instant his eyes turned dark, "You think I can't handle you? You think I need help taking care of all your needs?" His voice had dropped and I shivered. He reached over and hauled me onto his lap so I was straddling him. I was mesmerized. I shook my head no. He leaned in close to my ear, "Are you sure there isn't a better man for the job?" His warm breath on my neck had my nipples standing at attention. Sitting where I was I could also feel just how much he wanted to prove it to me.

I swallowed hard and licked my lips, "It wasn't my fault." My voice was breathy and jagged.

"Bad Stephanie?" he asked, his breathing beginning to sound as labored as mine.

"Mmm hmm." I moaned. He growled and stood, placing me on the floor in front of him.

"She and I have a date with cuffs," he nipped at my ear as he steered me towards the door. I peeked over his shoulder to check on Les. The jackass was grinning and he winked at me. I twisted out of Ranger's grasp and lunged for Lester, ready to throttle him, ass bite or not.

"You sneaky sonuvabitch!" I screeched.

Before I got too far, Ranger had a hold of me and tossed me up over his shoulder. He took long strides to the door as he growled over his shoulder to his cousin, "Consider your invitation cancelled. Permanently."