Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. They belong to Janet Evanovich.
This is my first fanfiction story. Please review and give me constructive feedback. Be nice though:)
English isn't my native language. I learned it in high school. I live in Europe so I'm not really familiar with distances and the army. If anyone can help me with that, please message me. Hope you enjoy it!
CHAPTER 1: STEPHANIE PLUM
I opened my eyes to the morning sun and looked at my alarm clock: 5.30 AM. I groaned a little…. I only slept 4 hours. Stupid invitation last night. Oh, well I might as well get up. Today I am getting briefed on probably my last mission for the military. I washed my face and put on a sport bra and some shorts for my 10 miles morning run.
I walked to the track and saw a few friends. "Hey guys" I yelled and waved. "How's it going? Kicked any asses lately?" They laughed and blew me some kisses.
Once I was on the track I plugged my i-pod in and my mind started drifting off to last years' events. Before I go on maybe I should introduce myself just so you can get the grand scheme of things. Well, I'm Stephanie Plum, 31 years old, raised in New Jersey and I'm the rebel of the family. Growing up in the 'Burg' you were expected to become a loving housewife doted to your husband. Main accomplishments would be cooking, cleaning and pleasing your husband. And of course not to forget pop out babies. Lots and lots of babies.
Unfortunately for my mother, I'm none of the above. She should praise herself lucky though: my older sister Valerie is the perfect 'Burg clone'. I, on the other hand, I am not. When I was a kid I wanted to be wonder woman. When I was 7 years old I jumped of the roof of my parents' house in my first attempt to fly. Too bad it didn't work and I broke my leg. The big turning point in my life was when I was 17 and I got robbed and almost raped on my way home from a party. Without my quick thinking (I put my knee right in his groin and ran like hell) it could have turned out a lot worse. After that event I decided I needed to be independent: I wanted to get strong and be able to defend myself in every situation. I refused to become a helpless woman who needed a man for everything. Don't get me wrong, I do like a man for some things …, but I don't like to be dependent.
I boosted my physical level in de local gym and started training in martial arts. After I got the basics and had a long talk with my dad (he always supported me in spreading my wings to fly) I decided to enlist in the army. And here I am today, 12 years later, running my laps to stay in shape.
Three months ago I returned from a 9 month mission. Just to be clear, I don't do field ops in the desert: I am specialized in undercover operations. I'm not a sniper, not a bomb expert, … My specialty lies in my ability to become friends with people. That might sound a bit egotistical but in reality it's just that I like to listen to and talk with people. For me everyone is as important. Your profession or grade doesn't really matter. As you can see I'm also the 'rebel' or better said 'the special one' in the army. Don't get me wrong I do listen to my superiors and if I have to I will pull rank.
So my last mission was the best mission so far and that for a particular reason: I met my husband. We've been married for 1 month now. As you must have figured out, he's also in the army and well, he's got the whole package: the looks, the skills and of course charm. At least to me. As you can imagine I can't tell you much about the operation. We both went undercover as a couple. Can you imagine how much this sounds like a Hollywood romance film or those chick lit novels (of which I am also a (in the closet) fan!). During the mission we got closer and we had to share everything, I don't have to draw the picture do I? When everything almost went FUBAR he saved my life and together we completed our task. During the debriefing, which took several weeks, we lived together in a temporary apartment. It felt good to be together and when we were dismissed we went on a long vacation to decompress and we got married on a beach during sunset. You see we could sell the story and Warner has its next hit in hands!
One more mile and I need to get ready for my meeting with the colonel. I have one more mission to fulfill and then my contract terminates. They've been pushing for a renewal but now that I'm married, I'm hesitant. I will never be the 'Burg housewife' but I do want to spend more time with my husband and maybe have some kids. The latter is still a big question mark. Some days the pictures of pain, crying and helpless babies win and it's a no. Other days the images of my husband and a couple of kids running around form in my head and it's a yes. We'll see.
I run up the stairs to my room to get dressed in uniform to meet the colonel. I don't really hate the uniform but I prefer 'normal clothes'. Do you see why I work well in undercover operations?
"Come in" the Colonel yelled. I put my blank face in place so no emotions could show. Oh yes, I can pull it off. I just hate it when I or people use it. I like to read people's emotions in their eyes, in their body language and on their faces. You see why I'm not a typical army girl?
I entered the room and saw not only the colonel but also the major general. It surprised me that I was meeting several people this high in the hierarchy.
"Lieutenant Plum, please sit down. I hear congratulations are in order." The colonel said.
"Yes sir, they are. Thank you."
"This is your last mission before your contract is up for renewal if you choose to renew it. The chemistry you shared with your partner made our cover real. You never got discovered and that's a real asset to us".
So that's the reason they are calling me up again this soon after my last mission. We didn't get discovered. So they probably will send us (or maybe just me?) in to get more intel.
"This mission will be a bit different. We still want you to go in but with a whole team to retrieve further information on Mr. Alvarez. We have followed Alvarez and we believe that he smuggles weapons in the US for a terrorist network. He is also alleged to have contacts in the army and he sells information of US Army positions in Iraq."
"Yes sir. What team will go in?"
"Well, we'd like you to go back in with your husband under the same cover. You won't be the only ones under cover. As back up you will have the regular team your husband works with. They all work at Rangeman, the security company your husband works for. I suggest you go back to Trenton. Enjoy a six week leave and then we will start the preparation of this mission. We need to get everything set up by thanksgiving. Mrs. and Mr. Lopez have been invited to the thanksgiving dinner of Mr and Mrs. Rivera, the sister and brother in law of the second in command of Alvarez. I suggest you take some completion classes on your Spanish."
Holy shit. This is going to be a very big op. Was it too much to ask to have a "regular mission" to be my last one. And no one of my last team will be joining us? Hmpf. I do get to go with my husband. Mmm. And now I get to meet his core team. This might not be so bad after all. And I get a six week leave. Alright!
Oops. Everybody is looking at me. Better say something.
"Yes sir. Understood."
"We will meet each other at Rangeman in six weeks. Take care lieutenant Plum."
"Yes sir. Good day colonel Watson and major general White".
I saluted and left the room. Better start packing to get back home. I groaned. Oh haven't I told you? The irony of it all: Rangeman is based in Trenton. Oh yes, the same Trenton where I grew up in the Burg. So yes, I'm happy to go back to my husband. I'm a bit hesitant though to meet my mother and Valerie. My dad and grandma Mazur have always supported me. Dad even used to be in the Army. My mother on the other hand threw a fit when I decided to join the army. I would never get married and pop out those babies. Maybe she got her head around? Hmm. Wishful thinking?
I called my husband. I got his voicemail. "Hey honey, it's steph. I'm just calling to tell you that I'm packing for Trenton. I've been debriefed and I assume you already got an update on our next mission. I got a six week leave though. I need to get going. You don't have to come and get me. I'm getting a rental car courtesy of the army. I'll probably be there by tomorrow at lunch time. Love you."
I arrived at the Rangeman building. Holy crap. He wasn't exaggerating. It's freakin' humungous. Excellent security. I parked my car outside and hit the bell at the front gate.
"Rangeman, Lester speaking. How can I help you?"
"I'm looking for my husband. He works here."
"I'm sorry sweetie. No one here is married." Lester said.
"Ow. Isn't this the building of Rangeman, security company?"
"I heard a lot of noise and then the comm. Line went dead for a few minutes."
"Well sweetie, I don't know your husband but I suggest you come in and we can have a talk to see what might be the problem".
God I hated being called sweetie just because I'm a girl. In my cute sundress (if I can say so myself) I didn't look like an army girl. Heck, I almost never look like an army girl. My body is toned by running, swimming and martial art classes. But I'm not buff. If you look careful you see I exercise but that could be by using the gym. I don't like looking too muscled. A girl is a girl after all. And it helps with the undercover stuff.
"Ok. Thank you."
"I'll buzz the gate and the front door open. You can come up to the 5th floor."
In the elevator I started second guessing my arrival. Maybe I should have called him? He said I could just buzz and someone would let me in. He warned me though that except for his boss nobody knew about me. At first I was a bit angry/weary about that. Didn't he want to tell his friends about me? He said nobody would believe him and the look on their faces would be priceless when they first saw me.
However since I would be joining their team on this mission, it kind of feels wrong. If they got pissed or annoyed, it wouldn't be a great way to start. Level 3, 4, … Ah the 5th floor. The elevator opened and I saw a bunch of very well trained men in black uniforms in the hallway. They were all looking at me like I was an alien. Hmm, apparently not a lot of women come up here.