The Opening of Closed Hearts

When Stephanie's life crashes into that of Ranger's and the Merry Men's lives what will happen? Will she be able to open their closed darkened biased hearts? Will she win the man or will his darken past be more than she can handle?

Little to no Morelli but what little bit of him will be in the story he may get bumped a little bit but it won't be too hard. For the most part he is a non player in the story…at least that is my plan right now. I will let you know if that changes.

I hope you enjoy the new story!

Chapter 1: The Hunger

Six dollars ninety cents that is the total amount in my checking account, that's all the money I have to my name. I drop my head down on the table one of the last pieces of furniture in my now baron home. I wanted to cry but I couldn't.

I had a stack of bills in front of me. Cable, Phone, electric, water, car payment, various credit cards the funny part was I no longer had cable, or a phone, and of this morning I no longer had electric I was pretty certain that with another missed payment I wasn't going to have a car, or water either.

The electric didn't matter. It wasn't like I actually had anything in the refrigerator or freezer and I didn't have a TV, no food to cook so I could live without lights. I had plenty of candles.

It wasn't that I was intentionally not paying my bills. I had been doing really well for myself up until about six months ago. I had been able to buy a brand new car, live in a decent little rental home, have a couple of credit cards one from Macy's and one Visa. My balance was never high but that was before six months ago. Now the Visa was maxed out.

The Macy's card was the only one that had any room on it and that was only because you couldn't buy groceries, gas, or pay bills with the Macy's card which I had done with the Visa in hopes that things would turn around; they hadn't. My credit card shut me down two months ago because I hadn't been able to pay the bill. I guess I should be lucky for the other months when it kept things going but that had stopped.

Groceries were another thing I didn't have. I wasn't sure the last true meal I had. I was down to my last box of crackers, the peanut butter had long run out and I hadn't had the money to replace it. The prices of peanut butter these days, I didn't have that luxury.

My clothes are hanging off of me and the only reason my jeans stay up is the belt that is cinched around my waist. So far I had managed to pay my rent by selling everything I ever had. The couch and the TV were the first to go because they were nicest pieces of furniture I owned and I could get a decent amount for them. I then sold my bed; mattress and box springs included. I wasn't sure I understood them wanting my mattress and box springs I hadn't counted on that but when they offered me money for them I couldn't turn them down. I needed the money so I accepted and sold them. I borrowed an air mattress from my mother. Telling her I had a friend that was staying with me for a night or two; a lie.

Since then I had been sleeping on an air mattress although right now I was seriously considering how much I could get for it. I had already hocked the Microwave, the shelves in the living room, I sold everything and anything I had that someone was willing to buy.

My clothing, I sold all my suits, my designer jeans, my shoe collection all gone. I wanted to cry that day but I couldn't. I refused to feel sorry for myself but even I was losing the battle with that. The table and chairs, my last possessions, belonged to my grandmother who had given them to me when I moved into my little rental home and I really didn't want to sell them. This table held so many special memories for me.

All I need to do is close my eyes and I can see myself sitting in my grandmother's kitchen when I was just a little girl watching her fix my breakfast smelling the bacon or sausage frying her laughter at whatever had amused her. Watching her work amazed me as a kid. I always knew she would have my peach preserves with every meal. She grew the peaches on her tree, made the preserves, canned it and I felt like she did it more for me than anyone else; she knew how much I loved it. There were lots of good memories of her, and grandpa at this table.

I knew those memories wouldn't disappear if I sold the table but there was something in me that just hadn't been able to give it up at least not yet. The day may come but I was trying to hold on to one thing.

I sat the Visa, and the Macy's bill aside. I knew I wouldn't have the money to pay those regardless. I sat the phone bill along with the cable bill aside. I set the electric bill aside it wasn't as though I needed to pay for something I didn't have. I would never make the money to pay what was owed then pay the fees to have them turn the service back on.

I hadn't had a phone for the past month nor had I had cable since before that. These were bills that I owed from where I stopped being able to pay prior to them cutting off the service. I figured what else could they do sue me? Well you can't get blood from a turnip. So hopefully they wouldn't waste their time.

Rent would be due in less than a week and I knew there was no way I would be able to sell enough even with the table to pay it. I didn't have anything else to sell; it had already been sold. What was left was personal stuff like pictures, or trinkets no one wanted. I would be evicted. Well at least I wouldn't have much to move when the day came. It wasn't if the day came it was when at this point because there was no more money.

My stomach growled loudly and I briefly thought what I wouldn't do to sink my teeth into a big juicy fattening burger but even on the dollar menu at McDonalds I couldn't afford it. I sighed getting up from the table walking into the kitchen I grabbed the box of crackers that was the only thing in the cabinet. Reaching in I pulled out the sleeve and picked two crackers out. It would have to do it was ration time here. It had already been ration time around here but now it was serious there was no more food and no more money to buy more. This box of crackers was going to have to last me.

I could go to my parent's but I really didn't want my mother seeing me not the way I was looking. She would know something was wrong and I would have to hear about how other daughters didn't do this. Like this was a choice for me. So I knew it would mean that I was hungrier than I have ever been in my life but I made the decision to avoid going as much as I could. At some point I was sure the hunger would take over and force me there but until then I would continue to avoid going.

I had tried to find a job, searching and applying in every business that had any need for any work at this point in my life nothing was too good for me to do. I would do any job. I desperately needed the money but no one was hiring me. Either they weren't hiring period or I wasn't qualified or I was too qualified there was always some reason.

See my name is Stephanie Plum. I use to be a buyer at E.E. Martin Lingerie that was up until about six months ago when they closed due to fraudulent business practices by the owner. So it was one of those all suffer from the greediness and stupidity of one. I had enough savings for the first two months but when I wasn't able to land a new job in that time frame I started suffering and it got worse and worse with every passing month.

This month, being the worst of all of them. If I was able to somehow survive this month I would never survive next month not without finding a job and even finding a job now unless it paid well I would still be struggling to hold on to the rental home.

I am twenty-nine unmarried, no boyfriend, and on the verge of being homeless. My life definitely needed some happy. I deserved some happy well at least I felt like I did. I wasn't completely unattractive but every man I selected in my life turned out to be a big piece of flaming dog shit. So I had sort of given up on the whole notion of finding a man and settling down. I might as well as give up on the hope of just finding a hot guy for a hot night of sex because that hadn't happened in like forever. And as long as I had no bed, no mattress, and no box springs that wasn't going to happen either. I mean how sexy would it be to say come fuck me on my air mattress oh and try not to pop it?

I briefly wondered if I shouldn't just join the church and make God my husband by becoming a nun it wasn't like I was getting any action anyway and they had a place to live meals provided warm water for showers I mean could it really be that difficult, right? My mom would be happy because she could say I was married albeit my husband lived in your hearts and not in human form on earth. She could say it. Somehow I didn't see that actually working for her as well as it was sounding to me right now.

My stomach growling loudly pulled me out of my crazy almost psychotic thoughts that I blame on the hunger at this point. I pulled two more crackers out of the sleeve while I tried to reason with my stomach. It had to be happy with this because there wasn't money for anything else. If I didn't ration these then I would be completely out of food and forced to have to go to my parent's house.

It wasn't that they were so bad but I would just rather not go there. I didn't need to hear today or ever again that I was a disappointment to my mom. I knew it. I had heard it many times.

I was a disappointment to her because here I was twenty-nine years old not married, no children, no white picket fenced house with a dog. The reason I didn't want to go around her was because I was becoming a disappointment to myself because I was beginning to think I needed a husband to care for me, put a roof over my head, provide food for me. I was beginning to believe that I needed a husband to survive and that scared the shit out of me.

If I went around her with these thoughts in my head it would be disastrous she would hook me up with the first person she could find that she thought was worthy and her opinions of me lately that would be the smelly guy that cuts the meats behind the counter at the local deli; yuck.

My stomach once again growls loudly and I get up and fill a glass with water. At least I still had water at this point; it wouldn't last. Hoping to trick my stomach into believing it was full if I could fill it with water. I knew it wasn't going to work hell that trick never worked. Maybe it would work this time who knew it was worth the chance.

I pulled the ad for job listings and there wasn't much to be had. I circled a few that sounded good and made a note that tomorrow would be spent filling out job applications on the last few gallons of gas in my car. Once I was out of gas I would no longer be able to drive and have to either walk or use public transportation to get around. The only problem with public transportation was that it wasn't free and well I had about one trip with what was in my checking account. I wasn't even sure if that trip would be round trip. I doubted it.

I dropped my head down bumping it against the table I wanted to say why me but that reminded me of something my mother would have said so I refrained. I wanted to cry I felt like crying but I couldn't cry the tears just wouldn't come.

My stomach growled loudly again and I decided change of scenery was called for so I got up from the table and walked into my bedroom where I crashed on my air mattress. I pulled my knees into my chest and wrapped my arms around them laying my head on the pillow forming a ball. It didn't stop the hunger but hopefully I would be able to ignore it for at least a few hours until dinner time when I could have two more crackers.

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