Pluck Not the Wayside Flowers

By Heather B.

All HMR and Jesse Hawkes characters are property of A Shane Co and Sibling Rivalry. I don't own them. I do own any original characters that are created for this story.

Chapter 1

The Rangers drug themselves through the door of Mac's Pizza Place. They'd been on the dead run all day and thankfully with the early spring evening, the calls had slowed to nothing. They decided to take a break and had transferred the phone to the answering service. If anything serious came in, they would page Matt who would call in for details.

Mac's was a common haunt of the High Mountain Rangers. They were either eating there or ordering for pickup or delivery. Mac prided himself in serving them with the best food and had articles and pictures of the crew all over one wall near the door. The place was sort of a hole-in-the-wall but had that quaint, lived in, well broken in feel that made everyone who entered its doors automatically relax.

As they got settled amidst groans and moans of sore muscles, a waitress came over to their table. Few paid her much notice till they were settled as she placed glasses of water in front of each of them and silverware. She smiled shyly as the men started to take notice of her, their eyes fixed on her.

Matt was the first to speak up since the others seemed to be a little dumb struck suddenly, "Hi. You new?" he asked. The woman that stood at their table was wearing jeans that hugged her hips and ass with a spaghetti strap top of red and a black shirt over the top of that. She wore tennis shoes for comfort since she was probably on her feet most of the time. She stood maybe 5'6" tall and couldn't have weighted more than 140 pounds. Her hair was an auburn color and pulled back into a pony tail that hung to her shoulders and her eyes were faded blue that looked almost gray.

She nodded, "Started Monday." She said as she stood there, "My names Melody. But everyone calls me Mel. So I'll be your waitress tonight. What'll you have?"

The Rangers knew the menu by heart and one by one, they finally decided what they wanted. Thankfully Mac's did more than just pizza and tonight they wanted something more substantial. She listened to each Ranger as they gave her their orders causing Robin to raise an eyebrow by the time she ordered, being the last at the table to do so. But before she did, she looked up at Melody. "Aren't you going to write any of this down?" she asked curiously.

Melody blushed then looked at Jim, "He ordered the pepperoni calzone without mushrooms and a Diet Pepsi." She looked at Tim, "He wants an order of baked spaghetti extra cheese on top and a Mt. Dew." Next she looked at Frank, "He wants the double stack cheeseburger with onion rings, hold the mayo. Water only for him." She smiled as she looked at Izzy, "He wants the Mushroom Swiss burger with fries and a Pepsi." Finally she looked at Matt, "And he just ordered a French Dip with fries and a Pepsi."

Robin held up her hands, "Ok. I'm impressed. So add a Chef Salad with a side order of onion rings and Mt. Dew for me," she said as the others chuckled at her expense. Melody nodded, glanced at those at the table and then headed back to the kitchen to place the orders.

Frank looked at the other Rangers, "Damned…she's cute. Makes me wish I wasn't happily married," he joked.

Jim nodded, "Mac needs to hold onto that one. I think I could come in here just to watch her walk away."

He promptly got a smack from Robin in the back of the head, "Watch it or I'll tell your girlfriend you were drooling over someone's nice ass," she said, getting a wince from Jim as he rubbed the back of head while his fellow Rangers chuckled.

Within a few minutes, Melody returned with their drink orders and placed them in the appropriate spots. Tim spoke up, "So Mel, you from the local area?" he asked.

She shook her head, "I'm from Rapid City, South Dakota."

Izzy raised an eyebrow and finally spoke up, "I've been there. Great place. Right there with Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and not far from Devils Tower…"

Melody's eyes turned to him and she brightened visibly, smiling at him, "Yeah…and don't forget Deadwood's only half an hour away…and the Badlands are just to the east. A lot of American history lies in that area if you know where to find it."

Matt spoke up then. "So what are you doing in South Tahoe?"

Mel looked over at him, smiling slightly, "Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of living there is that work is very seasonal. Once the cold winds blow, it's almost a ghost town around there. So I decided to see what was on the other side of the Rockies…and landed here."

Robin chuckled, "Well I guess their loss is our gain."

Mel blushed a little and shrugged, "I'll go check on your orders," she said as she headed back towards the kitchen.

Jim looked over at Izzy, "My god…he spoke to her," he teased, noting how red Izzy's face got and the glare he shot him. Jim had been watching Izzy since he took notice of Mel. There was a look of interest in Izzy's eyes but Izzy's history with women wasn't very good. Too shy sometimes for his own good, he'd stammer and stutter, getting flustered and then would back away from whoever he'd had an interest in. Poor guy…he just didn't have the courage when it came to women.

About ten minutes later, Melody came out of the kitchen carrying a loaded tray. Matt was a bit surprised that a slender thing like her could handle all of that. She set it on the neighboring table and picked up Matt's order, "Ok…before I give you guys your food, I want to know who's who," she said with an impish grin. "Cause if I'm going to be working here perhaps for awhile, I better get to know Mac's favorite customers."

Matt chuckled, "Bribery with food, I like you already. I'm Matt Hawkes, Commander of the Rangers. I know Mac has a radio scanner to keep tabs on us so my call sign is Flying Tiger." He was rewarded for his information by his meal being set in front of him.

Next was Robin's. "I'm Robin Kelley and I go by Frostbite." Then it was Jim's turn, "Jim Cutler and I go by Flash." Tim was bribed with his food next, "I'm Tim Hart and I go by Black Magic." She then held up Franks food as he spoke, "Frank Avila, I fly the chopper and go by White Eagle."

Finally it got to Izzy who had turned a little red as he clammed up. Mel looked at him, "You do have a name…don't you?" she asked with a little hint of teasing to her voice.

Izzy grew even redder, "Yeah…I'm a…. Izzy Flowers and I go by Pocatello Kid," he stammered out.

She put the plate down in front of him, "That wasn't so hard, was it?" she asked, then looked thoughtful. "You wouldn't be related to Dizzy Flowers would you? I saw him win the Pace Rodeo Triple Crown in Billings last year."

Izzy blinked and looked up at her, his inhibitions gone and his interest peaked, "Yeah! He's my uncle," he said, his shyness forgotten.

Mel smiled brightly. "He's a nice guy. Hope it runs in the family," she said as she walked away with her tray.

Izzy could only stare after her, his heart racing a mile a minute. It took Frank snapping his fingers in front of Izzy's face to break into his daydreaming. "Hey, Earth to Spud Boy….come in Spud Boy… Your food's getting cold."

Izzy blushed again and looked down to his food, then dove in, suddenly remembering his hunger. But there was a different kind of hunger growing in him. He was oblivious to the glances that were seen at the table between friends, raised eyebrows and winks.

The Rangers had arrived in two Blazers and Matt had driven his truck since he was going to be off for two days to go fishing with his dad and brother. When they parted company at Mac's, Jim drove one with Izzy and Tim and the other Blazer was driven by Robin with Frank in the passenger seat.

Jim couldn't help himself after several miles, "So….Izzy…she's got a nice ass, doesn't she," he stated, glancing out of the corner of his eye at Izzy who road in the passenger seat. He was rewarded with a glare as Izzy's cheeks turned pink.

When Izzy didn't respond, Tim piped up, "Yeah, but I think I'd rather be looking at the front and up than behind and down," he said, grabbing his chest for emphasis. "That way my eyes can 'sliiide' down to look at those hips." He watched from the back seat as Izzy's face turned a deep red.

Jim smirked, "Oh come on Tim you have to admit that ass would be just the right size for Izzy's hands to get a good hold of," he said, using the one hand that wasn't holding to the steering wheel to make a squeezing motion.

Tim barked out in laughter, "But man, oh man, the whole package combined would make any man want to have her lying across their bed, looking up at them with…"

Izzy's face was beet red, "Enough guys! Damned…just …. Stop!" he shouted, his temper flaring. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The way those two had been talking were giving fuel for his imagination and it was affecting him in a rather embarrassing way. "She's not even interested in me…" If Izzy had one problem other than being around women, it was the fact that his self esteem wasn't the greatest when it came to the way he looked. He was tall, awkward and his hair was always a mess. No matter how hard he tried, he always ended up looking like he pulled his clothes out of a pile on the floor…rumpled was a better word for the way he looked. He couldn't see why any woman would be remotely interested in him.

Tim pursed his lips to keep from laughing out loud while Jim's shoulders shook with silent laughter. Whether she had an interest in Izzy or not they knew for a fact that he was interested in her. Finally they pulled into the parking spot at the station where Izzy was grateful for the cold spring night and that it was dark outside. He could only hope that by the time he got to the station, things would be back to 'normal' with his anatomy and the guys wouldn't have anything else to poke fun at him about.