A/N: Characters belong to the Ms. Evanovich, I just appreciate getting to play with them. This is my first fan fic so I have no Beta any errors are mine.
Happy Birthday, Babe.
So far the day was going how I'd want, I mean you only have one day a year that is YOURS right? I'm Stephanie Plum and this is my birthday. The sun was shining in my window and when I looked at the alarm clock across the room I saw a number I could live with; 10:30, a nice respectable number. The sun is out and the day established- not too early, not too late. Yes, this birthday is starting out just perfect.
Wow, I was allowed to sleep until my eyes popped open. That rarely happens; usually my mom is calling to complain about how I am ruining her life. She tells me how Patty Delucci's daughter doesn't roll around in garbage or associate with thugs. No Rangemen sitting in the chair across from my bed or pulling the covers off me to go running. Sigh. I pull my arms from under the covers and just enjoy the bliss of this quiet moment. There is no way the rest of this day will be peaceful.
A few minutes later I slip out of bed and into the shower to scrub, exfoliate, shave, moisturize and then attempt to tame my hair until I look presentable. I take one hard look at myself, noting a line forming on my forehead and the faintest of lines near my eyes from squinting. I'm not good at remembering my sunglasses or sunscreen for that matter. Overall, not bad. My Hungarian genes are good for something else besides a good metabolism.
On my way to the kitchen I decided to check my answering machine. I mean, no sense in not starting out my day with birthday wishes right? It is good to know people care and on your birthday you get to hear that they do.
"Stephanie, it's your mother. There is a change of plans; we won't be home tonight, so you'll have to make other plans for dinner. Come on Sunday. Tonight your father is taking me out!" she exclaimed and hung up. I paused staring at the answering machine. "What the…?" I mumbled. Wow, that was weird, no 'Happy Birthday Stephanie' or anything from my own mother.
Shrugging it off, I stuffed a pop tart in the toaster as I listened to the next message. It was Grandma Mazur. "Hey Steffie, I've got hot date tonight I was wondering if I could borrow that stretchy pink tank top of yours? With Marty's arthritis buttons are hell." I couldn't decide whether to be amused or disturbed by the visual. On the one hand I hope that when I get to Grandma Mazur's age I am still active but the thought of them…..I'll just give her the shirt I don't think I could wear it again without thinking about where it has been and what it has seen .
I break off a corner of the pop tart and offer it to Rex. He snatches it and returns to his soup can without so much of a Happy Birthday nose twitch or anything. Doesn't anyone remember it's my birthday? It's not like I expected a party or anything but I thought the people closest to me would at least remember!
When I get to the bonds office Connie is blowing on her wet fingertips to make the blood red polish dry faster and Lula hops up from her perch on the arm of the old couch. "You bring donuts white girl?" I pause a little stunned. I thought the girls would remember my birthday and have gotten my favorite Boston Cremes for the occasion. A cake would be nice but I figured at least donuts.
"Any files for me?" I ask turning to Connie. "No, sorry Steph, it's been a little slow this week, but it'll pick up with Halloween and the full moon coming." Oh goodie, nothing like a lowlife criminal acting stranger due to a full moon. I am pulled out of my thoughts when the bell on the front door rings and Lester and Bobby come striding in.
Les grins and kisses my temple "Hey Beautiful, fancy meeting you here." Bobby shakes his head and give me a shoulder squeeze hug. "Good to see you Bomber." Before anyone can say anything else Ranger strides in, pauses a moment to catch my eye and nods "Babe." I nod back, "Ranger." I see the corners of his mouth tilt ever so slightly and he turns his attention to Connie, "He in?" 'Yeah go ahead, but knock first in case he is doing something you can't un-see. You know how he is." Ranger gives an almost imperceptible nod and moves toward the office. As he reaches for the knob he turns to me and says "Babe, can I talk to you when I'm done here?" "Sure Batman, I'll wait."
Bobby grabs the Rangeman files and Lester pulls me into his lap on the couch. "So what are you up to today Beautiful?" "I dunno, I was going to pick up a skip or two but there were no files for me. I guess I could come in and do some searches for a while." Lester and Bobby exchange looks having some ESP conversation. "Why don't you help us with these today, I don't think the Boss would mind as long as you were with us."
Ranger exits Vinnie's office at that moment "What wouldn't I mind?"
Before I can speak and wriggle off Les' lap Bobby answers. "Steph doesn't have anything to do today so we thought she could help us round up some of these," he says holding out his hand with the files. Ranger grabs them and browses each before handing them back, his blank face in place. He extends a hand to me and helps me off the couch and Les' lap and rests his other warm hand on the back of my neck leading me outside and into the alley behind the bonds office.
Ranger leans back against the building wall and pulls me into his arms and inches from his face. "You don't have to help those two," he says and traces his index finger down the side of my face. 'But you are welcome to help them; it'll be a nice pay day to get those scumbags off the streets. I just ask that you be careful and please do what they ask, I would hate to see anything happen to you but I know how much you love the chase Babe." His eyes softened and his gaze fell across my lips moments before his plush lips landed on mine. MMM the heat from them shoots electricity through my body. My hands fist in his tight t-shirt, my whole body gravitating toward him, our lips fused together. There is no better place to be on earth than right where I am unless it is tangled with him sans clothing. The man can kiss, oh can he kiss! "Mmm, Babe," he whispers "I'd ask you to help me today but I'd get absolutely nothing done, I'd spend my time distracted by you being so close…" "Is that distracted in a good way Batman?" I grinned. "Always babe," he sighed closing his eyes momentarily. Did he just sigh? Oh my God I am rubbing off on Batman! "I'm just a man," he said running his hands down my arms, "One who is going to be late if I don't let you go now." He straightened up and gave me one last lingering kiss before heading to his shiny black Porsche Turbo. He turned around and looked at me for a second as if assessing me. "You busy tonight? Maybe we could have dinner?" I thought about my mother's call canceling dinner and nodded enthusiastically. Maybe this birthday could be salvaged even if no one remembered. "Great," he said giving me his 1000 watt smile, "I'll call you later." With that he was gone. I touched my swollen lips and smiled inside.
"You ready Bomber?" Bobby asked peeking his head around the corner. I nodded . He looked me up and down knowing how my "talk" with Ranger went in the alley but he said nothing just handed me my pocketbook and wrapped an arm around my shoulders guiding me to the Explorer Les had pulled up to the curb.