A word from me: This is my first Stephanie Plum story. I am a Babe all the way. I will always be Cupcake friendly because I refuse to believe that Morelli is pond scum in my Plum world. I do believe that Helen Plum will come around as long as Stephanie is happy. I want to believe that is her motivation and that is why she has always applied pressure for Steph to be married.

In your review, BE HONEST but please be constructive! Let me know what you think.

Chapter 1

About Time

I watched as his beautiful head was bowed in prayer over the newest contract. Rangeman had recently revamped their new client contracts and Ranger was making sure everything was in order for our meeting in the morning. I adored watching him in action whether it is in the field or in the office. He was excellent at both. He was beyond belief in other areas but that was for another day.

I sighed to myself because I was content for the first time in an extremely long time. I had a great job. I no longer was a bounty hunter but a full time Rangeman employee. I was in charge of client relations, supplies, and office management. My actual title was "Sales and Client Coordinator" whatever the heck that was I was not sure but I knew that it paid well and I was really good at my job.

Who knew how well I would be with clients. For whatever reason, I had a knack for getting people to sign on the dotted line and that had strongly padded my bank account. I was more than comfortable with our arrangement but I more than earned my salary. I worked upward to 60+ hours a week but enjoyed every minute of it. A major plus was that I spend a lot of my time with some hot and wonderful men. They treated me like a queen. I would dare anyone to mess with me because it would not be pretty.

The only part that was unbearable was knowing that I was madly in love with Ricardo Carlos Manoso. There were a few things that I knew for a fact: Ranger was attracted to me, cared for me, and would do anything to protect me. However, he never pursued me beyond friendship. This is a point of contention for me because I was about to explode. I wanted a relationship with this man and I don't give a crap about how dangerous his job was or that it might put me in a precarious position. What is the saying, "the heart wants what the heart wants." Let me tell you, "I want…"

Ranger was a hot Cuban American with short dark brown hair with dark chocolate brown eyes and a body that was pure perfection. He called it his "temple" and it was ornate and gorgeous. I had seen first-hand what he does to maintain his perfection. He runs 3-5 miles a day, lifts weights 6 days a week, and eats like a bunny. That man eats more vegetation than any one animal I had even been exposed to. His lifestyle had affected me because in order to work at Rangeman, I had to work out a minimum of three times a week, spend one hour a week at the gun range, and spend one hour a week on self-defense with one of the Merry Men. I will say that my body looks great. I still eat whatever the hell I want and doughnuts are a part of my food pyramid several times a week and will continue until the day I die.

Ranger sat back in his chair and met my eyes, "It all seems to be order. I don't know what you are worried about because you have everything in order." He flashed me a quick smile.

"It is just such a large account that I don't want to make a mistake. " I met his gaze with some apprehension.

Ranger leaned forward and grabbed my hand. "Babe, are you kidding me? You have brought in more business in the last six months than we have in years. You need to be confident in yourself." He squeezed my hand.

I squeezed back and said, "I know but you know me. I always struggle with my ability. Old habits die hard." I had struggled with self-esteem issues for years. A failed marriage and a nonexistent love life did nothing to boost those issues.

I had been in a relationship with Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, for over three years but that was on and off more than my shoes. Neither one of us wanted to commit. Joe wanted a wife, kids, and a home cooked meal every night. No way was I doing that. I did not want it. We realized that we did not want the same things in life. We loved each other but we not "in love" so we called it quits over six months ago. For once, it was totally amicable and peaceful. We both wanted different things! Joe and I had known each other our whole lives and were allowing others to dictate our lives. The break up was the best thing for us both. We were still really good friends. Joe is currently dating a school teacher, Susan. I loved her. We have even gone shopping together. We clicked. Joe loved it. My mom was another story. She did not get it.

My mother wanted me married, barefoot, and pregnant. The sooner the better. However, I will say that she had backed off a lot because she liked the fact that I was no longer a bounty hunter. She felt that I was finally using my college degree in marketing and meeting my potential. She still pressured me about some type of relationship with a man but it was not all the time so I could live with it.

"Stephanie , can I talk you about something?" Ranger caught me off guard by calling me by my first name.

I met his gorgeous eyes, "Uh, yeah." I responded.

He cleared his throat and if I did not know better, I would swear that he was nervous. "I was wondering if you would like to go out on Friday night." He leaned back and waited for my response.

Holy shit. Batman was asking me out on a date. There had to be a miscommunication, "Huh?" was my stupid ass reply.

"I said would you like to go out on Friday night." He smirked at me.

"Sure, that would be fun. What did you have in mind?" Hopefully, something hot and sweaty I thought to myself. I had lead a celibate life since my break up with Joe. Unfortunately, since I had been working full time at Rangeman, Ranger had quit kissing me and running his hands all over me. I hated him for that! I liked his hands on me. Damn it, he had to be professional. Ass wipe.

"I thought maybe we would have dinner at Welch's and then go to the movies." He waited for my answer.

"Welch's. Holy crap, Batman. You have to book a reservation a year in advance." Welch's was a posh restaurant that served food from all around the world. A glass of water cost more than my shoes. Or so I heard through the grapevine.

He grinned at me. "Babe, we do the security for them."


"Do you want to go?" He waited.

"Of course! That would be awesome! Who else is going?" I was crossing my toes in my shoes hoping that it was just him and me.

"Just you and me Babe!" He gave me his two hundred watt smile.

"Is it a date?" I blurted out. Damn it! I am such an idiot.

He tapped his chin as if thinking. "Well, a date consists of a man and a woman going out together…alone. The man pays and then he gets a little somethin', somethin' in return."

"Jerk." I slapped his hand. He grabbed it and to my shock. He placed a kiss on my knuckles.

"It's about time don't you think, Babe?" He continued to marinate my knuckles with his lips making parts of me quiver with longing. Geez, I am such a lightweight.

"I guess…" I trailed off because I was about to come over the table and rip him apart. He grinned knowingly at me.

"I will pick you up at 6:30 and our reservation is at 7:15."

"I guess I need to go shopping." I was excited.

"I would expect nothing less, Babe." His eyes darkened. "Make it worth it…" He stopped midsentence.

"Oh, I have some ideas what will work." I flirted.