Thanks for all your wonderful comments, you rock! (that American enough?)

For what seemed an eternity, the only sound in the room was coming from a corner of the room. Ranger sat nursing his tea, then worked out where it was coming from and stood up to investigate. He reached the corner and looked down. A smile spread across his face as he turned and raised an eyebrow.

"Rex died years ago, this replacement is RC the 8th"Steph grinned before realising what she's said and the smile fell off her face. Perhaps he wouldn't work it out she thought. Why hadn't she said something, anything else! She did a mental head slap. The name RC was a little reminder of the love she'd had and lost. She still didn't really know what had happened back then and she didn't want him to think her pathetic – too lost in love to never have moved on properly.

"Arsy?" he said, raising his eyebrow again

"No R for Romeo and C for Charlie" crap, she'd done it again!

"or Ricardo Carlos" he said softly.

"What can I say, busted" she replied raising her palms up in submission and trying to appear unfased by the stupidity of her answer.

"Babe, what happened that we never got our chance?" he asked softly, walking back to the sofa and kneeling down in front of her.

"Timing?" she replied. Please leave, before I beg you to stay, she thought.

"I'm not going anywhere" he replied reaching forward, holding her chin between his thumb and forefinger and giving her a gentle kiss on the lips before pulling back slightly.

"I said that out loud, didn't I?"

"Yeah" came the soft reply as he leaned forward to kiss her again, this time cupping her face in his hands.

The kiss was gentle, probing and tender but soon deepened into something more demanding as years of pent-up yearning were unleashed. Steph laced her fingers into his hair and pulled him into her. He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around her body. Instantly she was straddling him and the only thing stopping them from melting into each other was the clothes they were wearing.

Steph pulled back and stared into his lust-filled eyes. "I don't care if we don't have forever and that tonight may be all we have, but please, ruin me as you did all those years ago."

"Babe" he replied as he picked her up rising up from the floor in one fluid movement.

He stood, looking round the room in confusion.

"That way" Steph gestured giggling and Ranger almost ran towards the direction indicated in his haste to have her naked in his arms again.

He quickly lowered her feet to the floor as he stepped into her bedroom. She turned and pressed a button on a bank of switches by the door and immediately soft lighting highlighted the focal point of the room. Ranger could see the huge bed covered in pillows and pulled her with him as he headed off in its direction covering the large expanse of floor quickly. She nervously giggled behind him and he felt his trousers strain in response.

As they reached the bed she grabbed the top button on Ranger's shirt and tried to undo it, she was shaking in anticipation of what she knew was coming so was fumbling.

"Let me help you, Babe" he said and he grabbed the front of his shirt, ripping it open, sending buttons flying. She giggled again and he moaned inwardly. Two more minutes of not being inside her and he was going to go mad.

He pulled her top over her head and dropped it to the floor where it was quickly joined by her bra. Her jeans were immediately added to the clothing pile. She was his and she was almost naked.

He stood back to admire the view then began to slowly and tenderly kiss her neck and shoulders. She leant up against him, wrapping her arms around his torso and rubbing her body over the straining bulge in his trousers. He'd forgotten how much every part of her body had made him burn and he pushed her back slightly and growled as he bent his head to take one of her hard nipples into his mouth. He heard her gasp so he squeezed the other nipple and she gasped out "Ranger".

She pushed him back slightly so that one of her hands could caress every inch of the skin it could reach while the other was cupping the bulge in his trousers. If she didn't stop he was going to cum any second now...

"Ric, call me Ric" he said hoarsely as he picked her up and threw her, rather unceremoniously, onto the bed.

He quickly unzipped his trousers which fell to his ankles, releasing his throbbing cock. He toed off his shoes and pulled his socks off, hopping around as he did so. She giggled at his frantic movement. Finally he kicked everything away to join her clothes strewn across the floor.

She was lying on her side propped up on one bent elbow watching him he moved to the end of the bed.

"You're not quite naked, Babe" he said smiling.

She winked at him as she rolled onto her back and parted her legs slightly, wiggling her hips suggestively at him. She then slowly brought her knees together so that he could remove her black barely there panties. He worked his way up on all fours like a panther stalking its prey and pulled them down her body with his teeth.

On the way back up he stopped at her belly button and began to tease it with his hot breath and talented tongue. She moaned in delight and frustration and his cock strained and twitched in response. Ranger lowered his face to her mound, splaying his hands across her soft belly, as he began to nibble and tease the sensitive skin he found beneath him. He moaned deep within his chest and began to nip and kiss down into her soft folds, relishing her unique smell and taste. He heard her take a sharp intake of breath as he plunged her wetness with his tongue, teeth and fingers, lapping up the juices that were being created for him. He could feel her tension grow and she threaded her fingers into his hair and gently pushed his face further into her core. He bit her clit gently and her hips bucked off the bed. "Ric! Oh God! Yes! Please!" she cried as he held her hips down with one hand and took her higher and higher with the other. "That's it, cum for me, Babe!" he growled slipping his tongue over and round her clit and sucking at her hardened nub. She did just that and coated his face with yet more sweet juices which he drank happily, groaning as he did so.

"That's better" he purred once she had calmed down a little then he moved back up her small frame leaving a trail of hot kisses and small nips. He reached her mouth for another bone melting kiss.

He slid up against her body and pushed her further into the bed. He could hear her ragged breathing as he buried his face in her curls and took a deep breath, inhaling her essence. Dios, how good she smelt he thought, revelling in how good she felt and how much he'd missed her.

"Please Ric, I need you inside me now before you up and leave again."

In an instant he was inside her. Dios! It felt so right. Why had taken him so long to return to her bed? When he'd made that promise all that time ago to be back in her bed, he'd meant weeks not years!

She wrapped her legs around his hips and their bodies began to move as one to a fast and passionate rhythm that only they could hear. Before many more minutes passed they reached the peak and flew over together. They lay tangled in each other limbs catching their breath. Neither wanting to pull away for fear of this being the end.

Steph lay lost in the afterglow of their love making and said the first thing that came to mind "I love you, Ric, always have, always will". She tensed slightly – what had she just said! Crap, well if that doesn't make him run away forever, nothing will. Oops! Said 'Stupid Steph', 'Sensible Steph' was crying in the corner.

Ranger raised his head to look at her and saw that she had turned her face away. She couldn't move as he still had her pinned to the bed but he knew she was already in the Land of Denial – nothing changes he thought, chuckling.

"Babe" he said, nudging her neck with his nose. No response, but he could see that she had closed her eyes. He thought he could see a slight tear forming in one corner.

"Babe" he repeated "look at me, it's ok. I love you too, you just beat me to it, that's all"

She turned to face him and the tear turned from one of sadness to joy.

He never made it to his meeting.

o0o0o0o0o

"RC? Who the hell is RC?" said Lula incredulously, looking at the phone in her hand. Tank looked up from the newspaper he was reading. Something in Lula's tone of voice made him stop and listen. He could see she was getting some really juicy gossip and would be desperate to tell him. He smiled inwardly. Even after all these years, he still loved her enthusiasm.

"Fuckin' A!" she said and hung up.

Tank chuckled to himself. He could see she was stunned by the news she'd just received. He put the paper down on the breakfast bar and leaned back in his chair putting his hands behind his head, enjoying the fact it had been a long time since she'd been speechless. Right about the time they found they were having twin boys, he thought.

"Tank, where people fail, hamsters can succeed." She said, turning to look at him. He held his hands out to her and she moved into his lap. "You ain't gonna believe this Baby..." she said.

And he didn't.

o0o0o0o0o

The sun was setting as Joe turned to Steph and kissed her cheek.

"You ready?" he asked, she nodded, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. A smile lit up her face and she took a deep breath.

"Show time!" she said as she picked up her bouquet of red roses and white lilies. In the background they could hear music. They stepped through the double patio doors and onto the verandah. On the sand stood Ranger and Tank under a gazebo adorned with bouganvillea and fairy lights. The rest of the guests stood close by.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God..."

The bride wore a simple floor length fitted white dress and Ranger wore a sand coloured linen suit. They made a beautiful couple, especially when after the ceremony Ranger picked up his screeching new bride and pretended to throw her into the sea.

o0o0o0o0o

Later that evening, Joe and Ranger were at the bar, sipping champagne, watching their women folk dancing on the sand.

"Funny how things turn out." Joe said.

"How do you mean?" Ranger replied looking at him.

"Who would have thought we'd be such good friends all these years later. Make sure you take care of her thought or I'll kill you."

"That was my line – you've stolen it" Ranger said chuckling, pretending to look worried.

"I know, but I meant it. She's still one of the most amazing women I've ever known and absolutely one in a million. Still can't believe it took you so long to hook up with her though."

"I know. I once promised her that if you two ever broke up completely I'd be back in her bed in an instant."

"Back?" said Morelli, raising an eyebrow.

"You weren't together at the time, so don't worry. She never cheated on you." Ranger stopped looking at Steph and focused on Joe's face.

"I did wonder. But as I said, one in a million."

"How did you know about us, did she ever tell you?"

"Nah, I had my suspicions, though. Things changed subtly at one point, but not enough for me to ever think she'd cheated on me while we were together. I suddenly realised there were three of us in our relationship and perhaps bit by bit I was losing her. I realised during the Scrog thing that she loved you too. It just took us a while to wake up to the fact that we were better off than on."

They both returned to watching the dancing and sipping their champagne. Several minutes passed.

"Brought together by a hamster. That has to be the weirdest matchmaker in history."Joe said, chuckling.

"Don't remind me! Who would have thought two months' ago that a hamster would restore the love of my life to my side." Ranger turned and raised his glass to Morelli before walking off to claim his bride.

The end

Ps they went travelling, just as Ranger wanted all those years before.