Disclaimer: All characters you recognize not mine...only playing

A/N: This story is a Babe HEA! Some Angst to get there but again a Babe HEA and there will be smut in this story eventually but only between Ranger & Steph..no one else! Enjoy!

Breaking Up With Joe & Meeting Ryan

I can't believe it. The SUV was only a couple of months old. I really liked it. It was a cherry red Ford Escape. It was fully loaded and cheap. I bought it off online on Craigslist. An awesome place, Craigslist. Another one bites the dust. All thanks to Max Sheffield. He shot my gas tank on purpose when I tried to bring him in. What an asshole! As I watched my latest vehicle burn to the ground, Eddie walks over to me.

"You alright, Steph?" He nudged my shoulder with his own.

"Yea, who won." He looked uncomfortable.

"Um, I believe Carl did."

"How much was it?"

"Um, I think $300."

"Thanks Eddie." I walk over to Carl. He looks guilty. He should.

"Carl." I nod my head in acknowledgment.

"I heard you won $300 for my car burning to the ground."

"Um, yea."

"I want $50 bucks and a ride home."

"Sure Steph." He hands me the money and I hear the voice I so didn't want to hear.

"Cupcake, you betting on your own mess ups now?" I turn to look at him and he's smirking.

"Not now Morelli. I've had a long day."

"Cupcake when are you going to learn that you aren't any good at this? You need to quit this stupid job, pull your head out of the clouds, marry me and have my children. You ain't getting any younger Steph." His voice had raised with each word.

"Look when you want to talk to me, come to my apartment." I hop in Carl's squad car without a backward glance to Morelli.

R&SR&SR&SR&SR&SR&SR&SR&S

I get out the car, tell Carl thank you and head upstairs to my apartment. I'm lucky all I did was grab my phone this morning, sticking it in my pocket. So I still have it and the rest of my belongings. I unlock my front door and hear the phone ringing. I run to answer it and immediately wish I didn't.

"Stephanie, this is your mother." No shit!

"Yes Mom."

"I heard you blew up another car. What is wrong with you, Stephanie? You need to settle down and marry Joseph. He loves you and he seems to be the only one."

"Mom, it really wasn't my fault."

"Stephanie it is never your fault. You need to quit your job and quit hanging around those thugs." My mother was still rambling but I quit listening. It pisses me off when she talks about Ranger and his guys that way. They are not thugs. They're my friends. I love them all.

"Mom, I have to go." Before she says anything else, I hang up the phone. Could this day get any worse. I hear someone at my door before I hear Joe call out.

"Cupcake, open the door." I go to the door and let him in. He grabs my hips and pulls me to close to his body.

"The boys miss you, Cupcake." I roll my eyes in disgust and push him away.

"What the hell, Cupcake?" I hold up my hand palm up to ward him off.

"Stop Morelli. We need to talk." He motions with his hands to continue. I take a deep breath and go for it.

"Joe, we aren't heading down the same path. I'm going down the twisty turvy road and you are going down the straight and narrow road. I want to live my life not just exist in my life. I don't want to get married and I don't want kids. Don't know if I ever will. There is never an us, just a you and a me. I want out of this."

"Is this because of Manoso?" I blow a frustrated breath.

"No, Joe. I haven't seen or heard from Ranger in a couple of months. I believe he is in the wind. I love you, I do, but I'm not in love with you. I don't want marriage or 2.5 kids or a white picket fence."

"What is your mother going to say?" I roll my eyes.

"Doesn't matter. She's not me, Joe. Please understand this."

"Fine, Cupcake. I don't like it, but I'll give you the space you want."

"Joe, its more than that. Please go find a nice girl and date her. Be happy. Please."

"Okay. I will. Good luck, Cupcake." He comes over to me and wraps his arms around me. He gives me a kiss on my forehead and walks out my door.

"Well that went better than I thought." I look in my fridge and see nothing. Damn. Well I got $50 bucks. My cell phone rings as I head out the door. Shit its Tank.

"Yo!"

"You okay?"

"Just fine."

"You didn't call."

"I forgot."

"Yea, you need anything." He doesn't sound convinced. Oh well.

"Yea, a ride."

"Be there in 10."

Sure enough 10 minutes later and a black Lincoln Navigator pulls into the lot. The driver's window rolls down. Lester is staring at me. "Get in, Beautiful." I hop into the passenger seat. "Parents' house please."

"Big Blue?"

I sigh. "Yes." He snickers and I glare at him. When we reach my parents house, he puts his hand on mine. I stop before getting out of the SUV and look at him. "If you need anything, call...please." I nod my head and he lets go. I get out of the vehicle. Its after 6:00 and my parents are gone. Whew. Dodged a bullet there. Grandma Mazur greets me at the door.

"Hey favorite granddaughter of mine." She is wearing a hot pink sweat suit with matching shoes. I love my grandmother.

"Hi Grandma. Can I borrow Big Blue for awhile?" She hands me the keys and winks.

"Good job letting that Morelli go, he ain't no good for you. Now that hot bounty hunter with the package is a different story." She grins at me and winks again. "If you know what I mean." I laugh and give her a hug.

"Oh Grandma, Ranger and me are only friends and that is all we will ever be."

"Whatever you say, granddaughter, whatever you say." I give her another hug and head to the garage.

I get in Big Blue and head straight to the grocery store. I park way in the back. Stupid parking karma. I walk inside and grab a cart. I grab peanut butter, chips, bread, olives, grapes and carrots for Rex. I got to have tastycakes. Butterscotch Krimpets! Oh yummy. I grab some milk, cereal and poptarts and head towards the ice cream. I need my two favorite men. Ben & Jerry!

I down the animal aisle and grab a box of hamster pellets. I start to put them in my cart as I'm moving and my cart hits another.

"Oh I'm so.." I'm rendered speechless. The man in front of me is hot. Tall about 6'1, with muscles straining against his olive colored t-shirt. He has black inky hair and the most beautiful ice blue eyes I have ever seen. I finally find my voice.

"I'm sorry." He smiles at me and it gets better. Wow! Holy Hot Flash. He has got to be gay.

He laughs out loud. A deep rumble that makes me shiver in response. "Not gay, honey. Not gay at all."

"I said that out loud?" He grins at me.

"Yes you did. But I don't mind. Glad to set you straight." He reaches out his hand to shake mine and I take his hand in mine. A strong firm handshake. Thats good, right.

"My name is Ryan Mckinley. You?"

"Stephanie Plum."

"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Plum." I smile at him.

"Its Miss and you can call me Steph or Stephanie."

"Steph..just to let you know...I'm single too." Oh my..that was a blatant hint. I go for the apology again.

"Again I'm really sorry for running into you."

"Its okay, really. No harm done." He smiles at me again and looks into my cart. He gets a weird look on his face and glances at me.

"You probably won't believe me, but I was wondering. Do you put olives on your peanut butter sandwiches? I know it sounds gross, but the men in my family have been doing it for years. It is actually pretty good." I can only stare in silence. He eats peanut butter and olive sandwiches.

"Yea I do. My friends and family thinks its gross, but I love them." He winks at me. I think my panties just burst. Wow what a smile. He's not Ranger, by no means, but oh my!

"My friends think I'm crazy too, but my grandfather, my dad, and I get together every Saturday and play poker and peanut butter and olive sandwiches are always on the menu." He smiles again and I smile back. He clears his throat and I wait eagerly to hear what is going to come out of his mouth. He has such a sexy voice.

"Stephanie I would like to take you out to lunch tomorrow. There is park on Waterway Street. How about I pack us a picnic lunch with peanut butter and olive sandwiches and meet you there?" I smile and take the plunge.

"How about I fix our lunch and meet you there?" His smile is blinding.

"I'll see you there say 1:00?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Good, see ya then." He gets ready to walk away but changes his mind and bends down to whisper huskily in my ear.

"Don't forget dessert. I love dessert." My knees almost buckle from his low sexy voice. He gives me one last smile and walks away. Oh my. I finish my shopping, grabbing two pints of Ben & Jerry's for my date tomorrow. I get home floating on cloud nine. I can barely contain my excitement as I put everything away! I drop Rex a grape and carrot in his cage. "I have a date, Rex! YAY!" I go take a shower and get ready for bed. I drift off easy thinking of tall blue eyed strangers and mocha latte covered muscles.

A/N: Ryan is based on one of my favorite men. CSI:NY Don Flack or Eddie Cahill is his real name. He is really hot and has the most beautiful eyes. If you like this story go look him up. Remember please this is a Ranger and Steph HEA!