Told you I'd be back in February! I plan to post once a week if I can, but I lead a very hectic life and RL will probably get in the way from time to time.

I'm a Babe so expect that to have a bearing on how this will turn out (but I'm giving you nothing more otherwise it'll spoil the story...)

Please leave me your thoughts, because even though I never get round to replying individually (sorry ┬Žo(. ) it all helps with me typing speed... ;oP

SPOV

It's been 8 months since Joe and I split up, 6 months since Ranger and I had a 'talk' and here I am, checking myself in the mirror like a nervous insecure school girl.

In my apartment at Rangeman Boston.

Waiting for my date to arrive.

Yep, that's right, Boston. Oh yeah, and date. First date, new man...

Let me explain.

Joe had decided he needed a break from me after Bob nearly ate Rex and I went ballistic. One thing led to another and we had an all out, balls to the wall, full blown argument that even the best make up sex ever and two weeks apart couldn't fix.

Conceding defeat, Morelli put in a transfer to "anywhere that would have him that was as far away from me as possible." His words not mine. We did the dance of avoidance and he left for Texas just over a month later.

I guess it had been coming for a while but I think we both finally realised that the distance would help us to get on with our lives. I reckon he thought he'd find a nice wanna-be Mom and I'd get my shit together with Batman.

He found his match, Miranda. Batman however hadn't read the script.

Exactly one month later Ranger came a-knocking, reminding me that I owed him and that if Joe was no longer a fixture in my bedroom he'd be 'happy to do the honours', so to speak.

He pinned me to the wall of my apartment and kissed me like his life depended on it and when we came up for air I managed to push him away long enough to demand an explaination. Turns out he thought we'd make good fuck buddies. I gave him my best Burg glare and told him my heart couldn't do the limbo dance thing with him anymore and to go fuck someone else. I think I even threw in a few hand gestures as well. After a long, intense gaze into my eyes, he nodded, untangled from my body and left.

As I stood amidst the wreckage of my heart I touched my still tingling lips and thought about what had just happened. I'd been surprised by his brutal suggestion as although I knew we'd always had sexual chemistry I thought I'd recently detected something deeper. The stirrings of emotions. And not just from me.

Stupid me! Guessed wrong again, huh?

I slept alone that night and have done ever since, even though I've had a few offers. One or two even from men that didn't make my flesh crawl.

Not surprisingly, things became tense between the man holding my heart and I so I tried to stay out of his way, but somehow I ended up running searches at Haywood whenever my bank balance slid towards empty or when Tank called and begged me. When that happened I tended to keep my head down, pedal like mad and leave as quickly as the backlog would let me. Despite the fact that our paths never crossed I always knew when Ranger was there, my stupid neck hairs would raise and reach out to him. Followed by my traitorous heart.

Anyway, one Friday I was in my usual cubby hole on 5 wading through a huge pile of searches for Rodriguez when out of the blue Tank popped his head in and asked me if I wanted a more permanent role on the team. He explained that Rangeman needed someone who was personable and could speak to clients without frightening them, could provide prevent female skips from crying rape by acting as an escort and was good at paperwork. He told me he thought I was the right person for the job as I could do all of the above and could work a distraction like no other. His final point was that everyone enjoyed having me around as I brightened their day and accepted them for who they were.

Who could turn down such an offer? A steady and generous pay check, a room full of gorgeous men, free coffee and Ella... Hmm, what's not to like?

Well, there's Ranger for a start...

OK so that's a crock of shit, but it's just that he'd be too close for comfort. Eventually our paths would cross and as my heart was still very bruised, talking to him would be very awkward at the very least.

I asked Tank for a few days to think about it.

That weekend, however, Lester and Bobby appeared at the door with pizza and beer and tickled me into submission so against my better judgement I said 'yes'. One thing led to another and soon after that I became a full time Rangewoman.

Much to my relief, Ranger was rarely there which calmed my heart and my hormones. This was kinda handy because on the very rare occasion I did see him all I wanted to do was leap across the room, jump his bones and ride him like Zorro. The blank face he wore if our eyes ever met made it obvious he'd probably not be too pleased if I attacked him so I hid in my cubicle and pretended to be extra busy any time he was in the building, just in case.

After a while, and because of his regular trips out, I was able to reduce my sugar intake to three Boston Cremes a day. That together with my increased fitness (yeah, company policy and all that crap) meant I started to look and feel better on the outside, even if I was still hollow on the inside. But I pulled up my big girl panties, smiled and laughed with the MM, hid it well and shuffled forward.

I reported to Tank who seemed permanently grumpy with Ranger gone so much and I started to think I had something to do with it and it turns out I did, in a round about way.

One day, as I walked past Tank's office, I overheard him bitching to Lester about how often Ranger was absent. The door was almost shut but I heard the word 'slut' so tuned in and pretended to be studying the overtime rota on the wall outside his office.

Turned out that most of Ranger's trips away were not really business related. Being a typical testosterone filled ass hole, he needed er hm 'servicing' so he'd hop on a plane to one of the other offices where he do a brief flying visit then spend the rest of his time screwing some random woman. Tank told Bobby he was not impressed with his best friend's behaviour and asked Lester why he couldn't keep his pants on like everyone else. I missed what was said next as I was too freaked out by my stomach filling rapidly with flying bats. I quickly fled to the bathroom where I lost my lunch.

I made my excuses, blaming my rapid exit on a stomach bug and left to go back to my apartment where I tried to fill the void in my chest with Ben & Jerry's and drown out the conversation I'd overheard with Ghostbusters.

As the reality of what I'd heard sunk in I felt really sad for what would never be and for the deep friendship I'd lost and, not surprisingly, it hurt.

A lot.

It shouldn't have. Hell, I had no control over what Ranger thought or did, a fact he'd made perfectly clear, but it was then I realised I was wasting my time pining and that I needed to let him go.

I realised I was tired.

Tired of pretending everything was ok.

Tired of trying to live my life in the vain hope that he loved me back and that we would have our someday. Denial was becoming a harder and harder place to reach.

It was time to move on and excruciating as the idea was, I knew it was the right one.

The next day, once I'd recovered from my crying jag, I talked to Tank about the possibility of helping the other offices out, helping them recruit a me that could double up as distraction bait, client liaison and admin support. He'd taken one long look at me, nodded his head and that was that.

So last month I left for my new adventure and arrived early one Monday morning in the Boston office where I was given Ranger's apartment on the top floor. Funnily enough it was the 7th floor. Although the building was nothing like the one in Trenton, it made me wonder whether part of the list of requirements was that the building have a certain number of floors. Tank's comment when I checked in that afternoon was that 7 was a very lucky number in many cultures. So for once it seemed I got something right. Go figure.

All I needed was the good fortune that allegedly went with it...

The first day was spent meeting and greeting the team I was going to spend most of my working life with. Ace ran the show, with Matt as his second in command. Able and Tom were the Lester and Bobby of the group and made up the rest of the core team. Ninja (seriously), Ted, Striker and Falcon were the team leaders. Other guys came and went but I think it will take me a while to get everyone's name attached to the right face. Leon and Cindy were the equivalent of Ella and Luis and Ace said that Cindy made a mean pizza. I was sold already.

With the glowing report that Tank sent and the immediate rapport I seemed to have with my new colleagues, I started to gain confidence and even started going out socially with them too, but always as part of a group. I didn't want the added complication of dealing with egos, emotions or a relationship - I was too busy rebuilding my own shaky self esteem to worry about anyone elses.

I'd even started to think that perhaps one day there could be a life that was Batman and heartache free.

o0o0o0o0o

So. Here I am. Waiting like a nervous schoolgirl for someone to sweep me off my feet.

I looked at myself in the mirror and smoothed down the outfit I'd chosen. Falcon was taking me dancing so I'd chosen a pair of black hipster jeans and teamed it with a bright red capped sleeve, cross-over jersey fabric top that was feminine but left plenty to the imagination. I decided on a pair of solid 3 inch heels that I knew wouldn't cripple me after four hours tripping the light fantastic.

Turning slowly back and forth I smiled at what I saw. No-one would see anything other than a young woman going out for a night of fun.

No-one, not even my date, would notice the sadness and resignation that lay beneath.