Chapter 51

Tank left the apartment and took the stairs up to five. He ignored the guys in the control room and went straight into his office and shut the door. He didn't want to talk to anyone right now. He sat down heavily in his chair and heaved a deep sigh. He ran his hand over his bald head and then reached into the bottom desk drawer. He took out the bottle and a glass. He poured himself a drink and sat back in his chair.

Shit. He hadn't seen Ranger this messed up in… well, never. Was this more than Ranger screwing up with Stephanie? What was going on in Miami? Was Joe right about PTSD?

He had seen his share of guys struggling with their demons after missions went wrong. Hell, he and Ranger had been through more shit together than any two men should be able to handle. Toss in Bobby and Lester and the rest of them and it was a fucking miracle nobody had blown their brains out.

He refilled his glass. Maybe he should call Lula. Nah, better not. It was getting late and she hated being awakened as much as Little Girl. Unless donuts were involved. He let out a small chuckle. No doubt word of the shooting had run through the Berg like wildfire so he sent a short text to Lula instead letting her know Stephanie was OK.

After draining the glass for the second time, Tank pulled a thick file from his desk and began to read through the RangeMan incorporation papers.

#####

Bobby left the building and drove straight to Gina's apartment. He didn't want to stay in his apartment at RangeMan tonight. He shut the evening's events out of his mind. He just wanted to hold Gina in his arms and never let go. He silently let himself in. Her apartment was quiet and dark except for the light over the stove. He turned it off and made his way down the hall to her bedroom.

He grinned at the sight of Gina buried under the covers. It amazed him that even in the unbearable heat of summer, she bundled herself up like a burrito. He quickly undressed and slipped in beside her.

"Hey, baby. Are you OK?" Gina asked sleepily as she snuggled into his arms.

"Yeah," he whispered. "Go back to sleep. We can talk tomorrow." He placed a soft kiss on her head and dropped into a deep, dreamless sleep.

#####

The elevator dinged on seven and Lester stormed into the apartment.

"Fuck!" he yelled at the walls. "What the fuck does he think he's doing? Strings her along, dumps her and then comes back all whiney ass and I miss you Babe!"

"Lester?" A tiny voice came from the bedroom.

He squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced. "Oh, dang it, Bridget. I'm sorry I woke you."

He quickly went to the bedroom and leaned over Bridget. Her arms came up around his neck as she pulled him down for a kiss.

"It's OK. I wasn't really sleeping. I was waiting for you to get home," she said.

Home. God, he loved the sound of that. He had no idea what it would be like to have someone waiting at home for him until he met Bridget. She was such a tiny little thing. She was so soft and she smelled so good! And his heart was completely and hopelessly in her hands. He didn't think he would ever get enough of her.

He kicked off his boots and stripped out of his clothes. Bridget pulled the covers back and he crawled in beside her. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her hungrily. And that was just the beginning...

#####

I fought to wake up and opened my eyes slowly. I could barely see Ranger standing by the door. His face was as hard as stone. He opened the door and silently slipped through it, the door swishing closed behind him.

"Hector," I croaked.

"Querida!"

Hector was at my side in an instant. He took my free hand and clutched it to his chest. He bent and placed a heart stopping, tender kiss on my lips. Maybe I shouldn't say heart stopping. I had the vague feeling I had already done that today.

"I'm sorry I got shot," I whispered. Shit. My throat hurt and my tongue felt like it was stuck to the roof of my mouth. My shoulder was throbbing and it was hard to breathe.

"Shhhh. I will get you some water."

He poured some water into a glass and raised the bed slightly. He held the glass to my lips with his right hand and supported my head with his left hand.

"Not too much, querida," he said. "Just a little bit."

I took a couple of small drinks of the water and let it slide down my throat. "Thank you," I rasped.

Hector took the glass and set it down on the little table by my bed. "I am going to let the nurse know you are awake. Do not move," he said sternly.

Who? Me?

He left the room for an instant and returned followed by a nurse.

She smiled at me and said, "Well, Ms. Plum. Welcome back. You've been asleep for quite a while. I'm going to check your bandages and make sure everything looks OK."

She carefully opened my lovely blue gown at the shoulder and gently prodded my side and shoulder. I gritted my teeth and tried not to pull away from her.

"I'm sorry. I know that has to hurt. Your young man here has been keeping you comfortable with small doses of pain medication. Now that you are awake, how is your pain level?" she asked while snapping my gown closed.

"I've felt better," I said. "When can I go home?" Without looking I know Hector rolled his eyes.

"Sweetie, you had two bullets in your lung and one went through your shoulder. You are going to be here for a few days," she said.

I glared at her. She raised an eyebrow and looked at me over her glasses. "This is the controller for your pain medication. It automatically measures out doses for you. When you get too uncomfortable, press the button. I will check on you through the night and if we need to adjust the dose, we can. Any questions?" She showed me the little thing with a button on it. Little did she know I was very well acquainted with how all this stuff works, unfortunately.

My stomach chose that moment to growl and I sighed. "I'm hungry."

"Good," she said. "I'll go get you some Jell-O. How about some Ginger Ale, too? It will help settle your stomach."

I nodded and then said, "I don't like the green kind." Mom had always fed it to Val and I when we were sick as kids and I hated it now. Funny how some things from your childhood sticks with you.

It turns out Hector is an excellent nurse. He fed me small bites of strawberry Jell-O and some applesauce the nurse had brought back. The Ginger Ale turned out to be a good suggestion. At least, it was going to have to do until I could get my hands on French fries and a Coke.

After my scrumptious dinner, Hector helped me get settled for the night. The pain was manageable as long as I didn't try to move too much. He got a damp washcloth and wiped my face and neck. He also produced a toothbrush and a ponytail band. He brushed my hair and pulled it back into a perfect ponytail.

"How do you know how to do that?" I asked him.

He grinned and shrugged. "Little sister."

I smiled at him but then I frowned. "What happened today? I don't remember much after getting away from Hernandez. He's dead, isn't he?"

Hector pulled his chair close to the bed. He picked up my hand and kissed the back of it.

"Si. He is dead. He will no longer be a problem for anyone. You shot him and gave us a chance to take him out. You prevented anyone else from getting hurt."

I still had a lot of questions, such as what the hell Ranger was doing here, but my eyelids began to droop and I fought to stay awake. He leaned over me and cupped my face with his hands.

"You need to rest. Go to sleep, querida. I will be right here." He kissed me softly and I let out a little moan of pleasure.

"Will you lay here with me?" I begged and tugged at his arm.

Hector sat down on the bed and leaned back. He carefully put his arm around me. I let my head rest on his shoulder and he cradled it with his other hand. I snuggled against him as well as I could without hurting anything or strangling one of us with tubing that seemed to be everywhere.

"Sleep well, querida," he said and kissed me again. I sighed contentedly into his shoulder and promptly fell asleep.