Disclaimer: Janet owns all the characters. Darn.

Stephanies Decision

Every day became easier. She had her doctor's appointment. Bobby went with her. After a thorough examination, the doctor called Bobby back in. He complimented him on his excellent care. Stephanie was now moving around without pain. She had been taking control of her life. Her eating habits had changed radically. She was now cleared for more physical activity. She had been cleared to return to work. After lunch with her parents and grandma, Stephanie and Bobby returned to Rangeman. Bobby got off on four. Stephanie continued up to five. She stepped out and knew Ranger was on the floor as the control room was deathly quiet. When Ranger was around, there was little chatter on the floor.

She walked to his door and knocked. Hearing the word, "Enter", she opened the door and peeked in. He was sitting at his desk surrounded by paperwork. Ranger looked up and smiled. He stood up and came around his desk. He hugged her gently. "How was the appointment, Babe?" Stephanie smiled and leaned into him. She loved to be near him. She loved how he had taken over escorting her on walks every day. The distance had been very short at the beginning but over the past few weeks had lengthened. They were now walking on the track. Stephanie put her arms around Ranger. "I'm cleared for any activity now. I'd like to talk to you though."

Ranger pulled back. He had been anticipating this conversation. He was afraid that she would think it was time to move back to her apartment and commence bounty hunting again. Lula had been pestering her when she would return and partner with her again. She had taken over catching the lower level skips and had been doing well. When she felt the need, she had called Rangeman for backup.

Ranger moved back to his desk and sat down. Stephanie hesitated, then took a guest chair. She leaned back. Roger leaned back. This was her show. His face was blank. Stephanie looked at him. "Uh, Ranger. I have been thinking. I am getting a little tired of living at or below the poverty line. I'm tired of coming home covered in disgusting material. I am tired of the betting at the police department. I don't think I am ready to go out and take on an FTA anymore. I need to, and want to change my occupation. I was wondering if your offer to work full-time at Rangeman still stood?"

She looked hesitantly at her boss. Ranger looked back at her. Inside, his heart was beating with excitement. Outwardly, he looked like he was considering her request. "Babe, the offer stands, but as you know, there is a physical and range requirement. I value your skills at search requests, but that job has already been filled. How would you feel about taking on something else here?"

Stephanie hesitated. She had just assumed that her cubicle would continue to be hers. She assumed that she would just slide back into the stream of things and continue doing her thing completing searches. She looked at Ranger. "What kind of job could I do? " Ranger smiled. He looked down at his desk. "Babe, take a look at my desk. Take a look at Tank's desk. We are men of action. We don't like paperwork. I know you have a business degree. Do you think you could help us out with this?" Stephanie remembered back to all the times Ranger had returned from being in the wind. The mountain of paperwork awaiting his return was horrendous. He would work for weeks trying to reduce the piles. If this was something she could help them do, she was willing to try. Nodding, Stephanie stood up. "I will try to help, Ranger. Just point me in the right direction. I really enjoyed my business courses. I always thought I would like to pursue that but never got going. I can start on some things down in my apartment since I don't have a cubicle anymore."

Ranger shook his head. "Sorry, Babe, the work needs to stay on five. I'll show you your new workspace. He stood up and walked around the desk again. Taking her elbow, he led her out of the door and down the hall to Tank's office. Knocking and walking in without waiting, he and Stephanie stood in front of Tank. Tank looked up from his own personal mountain of paper. "She accepted the position. You want to come with us and show her her new cubicle?" Tank grinned. He stood up and hugged Stephanie. "Thank you, Baby Girl. You have no idea how happy we are you accepted." They escorted Stephanie down the hall to a door.

Stephanie looked at them in puzzlement. This was Louis's storage closet. Ranger opened the door. Inside was a new office. A desk, chair, computer, filing cabinets, and rug now occupied the room. Stephanie never knew there had been a window in the room. She walked in and reverently slid her hand over the top of the desk. It was almost as large as Rangers desk. She sat in the chair and looked around. She smiled. Jumping up, she hugged Tank. Then she turned and hugged Ranger. Unconsciously, she reached up and gave him a kiss. Tank quietly slipped out of the room and closed the door. He chuckled to himself. He crossed his fingers and walked back to his office. He was not planning on seeing them anytime soon.

The kiss went from gentle to heated in bare moments. Finally they pulled back. Looking around they both laughed. Neither of them appeared to be aware of their surroundings. When had Tank left? Chuckling, Ranger sat in the guest chair and pulled Stephanie to him. She sat on his lap. She snuggled into his strong chest. "I missed you, Batman. I appreciate all you did when I was shot. I feel bad that you had to bleed money yet once again. I want to pay you half of the bond from Sheila Pinkerton. I've been living here for the past six weeks rent free. I have few expenses. Rex has been babysat by the guys in the control room and I have a feeling he likes them better than me.

Ranger shook his head. "Sorry, Babe, not gonna happen. I told you a long time ago that there was no price. You can keep the money. As a matter of fact, in the top drawer is a new contract. I think you will be happy with the wage. Look it over and sign it if you think it's ok. You can start immediately. There is housing supplied. Your car is parked in the garage. On Rangeman business you will need to use one of the fleet of trucks. I'll give you a list of available vehicles and you can choose one."

Stephanie wasn't ready for all this. It was too overwhelming. Her tears started to flow. Ranger put his arms around her and hugged her to his chest. His shirt was getting pretty wet by the time she had calmed down. He was confused. Had he missed something here? He was hoping that she would be happy with the new job. He had checked with the core team and everyone had been in full agreement. Her skills were superior and they hoped that she would have jumped at the idea. Maybe they were wrong. He continued to hold her. She smelt soooo good. He played with a curl that was tickling his nose. He thought back to their lives together. He was hoping that tonight he would take her out for supper. He had a present for her. It was in his pocket. He hoped she would like it. He had designed it himself. He had said that there was housing available. He was hoping she would move in with him. He had finished his last mission with the government. He was free to plan his Someday. He hoped she would come too.

Stephanie finally stopped crying. She smiled through her tear stained face. "I accept the position, Ranger. I hope that I will not mess up. I'll try my best." She climbed off his lap. How would it look to be sitting in the boss's lap if the door opened?. She had an image to maintain. She walked around to sit in the chair at her desk. It looked pretty good from this view. Ranger smiled. "I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me tonight, Babe. Let's celebrate your new job. How about I pick you up at 7?. We'll go to Rossini's. Bobby says you are taking your dietary needs very seriously so I know that the food there will suit you. Wear something nice. I think Ella went shopping for you. "

Stephanie smiled. She was already looking forward to going to dinner. She loved this man with all her might. She hoped that someday they would finally take it to another level. She was ready. "I'd love to, Carlos. I'll be ready." With that, she bounced up from her chair, danced over to him, and kissed him once again. Taking his hand, she opened the door. There was now a name plate attached. She had not seen it before. It said, Stephanie Plum, Business Executive.

The End

Thanks so much for your reviews and personal messages. Hope you enjoyed it. Myrna