A/N: Sorry I've disappeared for a while! We had our house on the market and we were constantly coming and going so I hadn't had any real time to sit down and write! Plus I got a promotion at work so I've been adjusting to my new job requirements. Thankfully, we have finally sold our house and moved so I'm back. I have a new chapter written for Murphy's Law but I still need to proof it and my muse seems to be refusing to let me write it until I get this story down. It's a little different than my other story, but it will be a tart story. Hopefully you enjoy it. I already have several chapters written for this story so please read and review and I may post them faster! Don't worry I haven't given up on Murphy's Law – it will still be finished once my muse gets back on board!
Prologue – When it Rains it Pours
I laid a white rose down upon the top of coffin. I felt numb. This couldn't be happening. She had always been so strong and had never failed to support me in anything I did. At times it felt like she was the only support I had. She had always seemed so invincible to me. As if there was nothing in this world that would possibly be able to take her from me.
But here we were.
I angrily wiped the tears from my face and threw a hand full of dirt on the casket as it was lowered into the ground. I felt so alone right now. There were only a handful of people that had even attended the funeral most of which were friends she had made at the Clip n Curl. What is the most noticeable are the people who are not here.
Her own daughter did not come to her mother's funeral. She had refused to come saying that if her mother chose to embarrass her even in death then there was no reason for her to further the embarrassment by attending her funeral.
I glanced at the small headstone that was shared between her and my grandpa Mazur. My grandmother had not died in an embarrassing fashion, she had died from a stroke in her sleep, but my mother was embarrassed because she had been in bed with her new boyfriend when she passed. According to my mother, there was nothing more embarrassing than and old woman having sex out of wedlock and then dying while still in bed and undressed.
The whole ordeal had caused a blowup between my mother and I, I couldn't believe that she could be so callous about her own mother's death, and she blamed me for always encouraging my grandmother to do wild and inappropriate things. I had already been an emotional mess because of the loss of grandma, but her words had been the final straw. I walked out of the Plum house and there was nothing that would ever make me go back.
The other obviously missing person was my own boyfriend, Joe Morelli. Joe and I had been dating on and off for two years now, but it seemed as if our relationship never went anywhere. Joe would try to force me to quit my job working as a bounty hunter and marry him while I would refuse and then begin our next off again stage. We would spend a few weeks apart until one of us got lonely and decided to show up with a pizza and beer which would begin our new on again stage. The whole thing was becoming ridiculous.
So here I was alone. Ranger had offered more than once to attend the funeral with me, but I was an emotional mess and while I would have enjoyed him holding me and being strong for me, it would only blur the lines between us even more. I knew I loved him more than I should. Probably more than Morelli, but I refused to think too much into that. The problem was that although Ranger had told me more than once that he wanted a "someday" with me, he also told me he didn't do stupid things like relationships and love.
I sighed as I felt a raindrop fall onto my face. The weather today matched my mood; the sky was a dark shade of grey that promised heavy showers later. I took one last look at the casket before turning around to leave.
When I got to my car I noticed an older man in a black suit leaning against it, when he saw me he stood up and smiled. "Hello, Stephanie. I'm Donald Galbraith. I was your grandmother's attorney."
I tried to smile, but I couldn't even force one. Instead I reached out and shook his hand. "Hello, Mr. Galbraith."
He reached into his briefcase and handed me a manila envelope. "I'm sorry to have to meet you here, but my daughter is giving birth to my first grandchild today and as soon as I'm done here I'm going to Seattle for a few weeks." He paused as if gathering his thoughts, "Your grandmother left everything she owned to you. It wasn't much just about $10,000 and her Buick. There's also a letter in there she wanted me to give you when she passed."
I nodded. I couldn't really think of anything to say. Everything felt almost alien to me. My grandmother was only a few feet away being buried under 6 feet of dirt and here was her lawyer giving me the last of what she owned.
He seemed to realize that I was unable to make a response, because he just gave me a sad smile. "Your grandmother was an amazing woman, and she was proud of the way you lived your life. Every time she came to see me she would tell me about your latest adventures. I'm so sorry for your loss."
I was so tired of hearing that. Ever since she passed away four days ago people had been telling me that same sentence. I wasn't sure how to even respond to it so I just nodded and Donald walked away towards a silver Mercedes that was parked a few hundred feet away.
I looked down at the envelope, but I just couldn't find it in myself to open it right now. My emotions were too raw and I was sure that once I opened it I would have a meltdown. I needed some support, and there was always one person I could count on for that.
I got in my car and drove to RangeMan. I parked my car in the spot that seemed to be reserved for me right next to the elevator and made my way to the fifth floor. I knew the guys must be giving me space because this had to be the only time I had ever come into the building and not run into anyone. Probably they had no idea what to do with a girl who had obviously just been crying.
When I got off the elevator I walked over to Ranger's office, but when I got there the door was locked and it was dark inside. I sighed and decided to check with Tank to see if maybe he was upstairs before leaving. I really needed to borrow some of his strength.
When I got to Tank's office I noticed that the door was cracked open and I could hear Tank angrily talking to someone else. I knew I shouldn't, but I stopped outside his door.
"You can't do this, Rangeman." Tank growled.
"I already have, Tank. I signed it yesterday."
I frowned, what had he signed yesterday and why was Tank angry about it?
I heard a fist hit the desk and I assumed Tank had hit it. "You keep leading her on and telling her that one day you will be together, but then you go and do this. How do you think she's going to feel when she finds out? She has enough shit going on right now without you adding this to it."
"It's none of your business, Tank. I made the decision and you better not tell her. There's no reason for her to find out."
Tank snorted. "So for the next four years what do you plan on telling her when you disappear? She knew your contract ended sometime this year. She's not stupid, man. Plus she has enough people that lie to her without adding you to the mix."
I heard Ranger sigh. "This will be my last contract. When these four years are up, I'm done."
I felt like my heart stopped beating. He signed another contract with the government? We had never made any promises to each other, but he had always hinted that once this one was up he was done. That he wanted to be with me and that we could have our "someday." Obviously this was just another lie.
"You can't ask her to wait for you for four years, and I know you won't make any commitment to her if you're still under contract." He paused for a second, "You can't keep telling people she belongs to you and you can't keep the guys from asking her out anymore. She deserves to be happy, and it's obvious the cop either can't or won't make her happy. You need to back off and stop feeding her lines about "someday" and stop kissing her in alleys."
There was a few seconds of silence. "You're right. Maybe I'll move down to Miami for a while. It's not fair of me to lead her on when I'm not even sure I ever want a relationship with her."
I felt my heart shatter and black dots begin to float in front of my eyes. I couldn't fall apart here. I couldn't let the guys see me cry anymore. Then I was running. I'm not sure how I managed to get from Tank's office to the front of Joe's house, but that's where I found myself ten minutes later.
Was it all a lie? Did he even have any feelings for me? Was I really just entertainment for him and all the Merry Men? I felt a few stray tears manage to find their way down my face and I wiped them angrily away. I slowly got out of my car and made my way into Joe's house.
The house was dark and quiet. I had no idea where Joe was, he was supposed to meet me at the funeral but he never showed up. I felt so tired and emotionally exhausted so I made my way into the bedroom and lay down on the bed. My mind was going a million miles a minute and I just couldn't take it anymore. I closed my eyes and fell into a troubled sleep.
I woke up to the sound of Joe putting his gun in the safe beside his bed. He looked over at me as I sat up and smiled.
"Did I wake you, Cupcake?"
I nodded and looked out the window, it was now dark outside so I must have been asleep for at least three hours. "Yeah, but I probably need to eat something. I've been asleep a while."
"Where were you today?"
He looked at me confused, "Work, I got called into an interrogation and stayed a little late so that I could be there for you at the funeral tomorrow."
Tomorrow? I stared at him amazed. I had reminded him this morning what time the funeral was and asked him not to be late. How could he possibly think that it was tomorrow?
Then it clicked. He couldn't remember because I wasn't important to him either. Just like with Ranger. Was I entertainment or just an easy bed companion? You don't forget to be there for your girlfriend if you truly love her.
I climbed out of bed and picked up the laundry basket I constantly kept at the end of his bed. It should say something that I never go around to unpacking it between my moves in and out of his house. I went to the bathroom and grabbed the few things I had in there and then walked down the stairs.
Joe was watching me but he wasn't saying anything. He just sat there with a confused look on his face. When I started down the stairs he finally stopped me.
"Where are you going?"
I sighed. I was so emotionally done for the day that I couldn't even think of a nice way to put it. "We're done, Joe. I can't do this anymore. You obviously don't care enough about me to remember when my grandmother's funeral is so I think it's safe to say there's no reason for us to keep pretending that this relationship is going anywhere."
Joe looked confused for a minute before a light bulb went off and he ran his hand through his hair. "It was today wasn't it? I missed your grandmother's funeral."
He sounded resigned, as though he was finally realizing we just weren't going to work.
I sat my basket down on the kitchen table and removed my key to his house from my key chain before handing it to him. "I want to say that we can just be friends, but right now I'm just not in the right state of mind to say that so I'll see you when I see you."
He looked down at the key in his hand and then leaned over to press a kiss against my forehead. "You deserve better, and I am sorry."
I nodded and walked out the door. Fifteen minutes later I was laying in my thinking position on my bed with the manila envelope that grandma had left for me. I was debating opening it because I wasn't sure that I could handle anything else today, but I also wanted to read the letter she had left for me.
I sighed and ripped the envelope open. Inside was a cashier's check for $10,000.00, the title to the Buick, and the letter. I sat the check and the title aside and opened the letter.
Dear Baby Girl,
I know that you must be missing me, and I know that you aren't sure how to handle your mother without me there. Don't let her bring you down, just because she gave birth to you doesn't mean she has to be in your life. Keep flying. Don't let others make rules for your life, if they aren't happy with who you are then they don't deserve you. Live for yourself, do what makes you happy not what makes everyone around you happy. I will always be with you cheering you on and I will always be proud of you.
I felt the tears running down my face as I imagined life without her. She was the constant in my life that I could always count on. I used to think I had Ranger as well, but after today I wasn't sure anymore. I thought about grandma's words and realized I hadn't been doing things to just make me happy in a long time. I had stayed with Joe more as a way to make my mother happy than to make me happy. I kept working as a bounty hunter because it was my only connection to Ranger and I craved any time with him I could get. The work itself had never truly made me happy.
So what did make me happy? I love the solving the puzzle behind my skips arrests, so maybe I need to look into something where I could solve problems. I need to get out of this town though. I have nothing left here for me.
As I was thinking this my cell phone rang beside me. I glanced at the display and smiled for the first time in days.
"Hey Dev, you're just the person I needed to speak to."