A/N: Characters belong to JE. Thanks to everyone for reading and for all the kind words. The reviews are so appreciated! Bear with me, the date and surprises are coming soon...
As we pull into Stiva's parking lot in the shiny black Rangeman SUV, I feel a twinge of panic. I still get anxious when I think about going inside a mortuary, but more so this particular funeral home after what happened with Con. I haven't even taken Grandma to a viewing since then.
Bobby opens my door and pulls me in for a hug obviously seeing my apprehension. "Still feeling the effects of what that bastard did to you?"
I nod. "It's stupid," I say disgusted with myself but clinging desperately to him trying to soak in his strength. "Shush," Bobby says, "It is not stupid. I'm not sure how I would react to someone locking me in a coffin. If you want to wait out here, we wouldn't blame you."
I pulled back and shook my head. "No, I can do this. Besides I'm the Burg expert here, if Tostiosi is hiding, people are more likely to talk to me than you two."
"She's got a point" Les says, "I'll keep an eye out here and you two go look for him inside."
Bobby and I head inside and go in opposite directions. There is a good turn out; the room is packed.
"Mrs. Mazur! The family has asked that you be removed from this service, you are disrupting the mourners," a deep male voice said in a tone just short of a shout.
"Mourners? I don't see anyone here sad to see that bastard gone! He was cheating on Elsie with that cow Shirley O'Conner! Everybody here knows it except maybe Elsie!"
Elsie Brubacher blanched and looked around horrified at the knowing faces, nods and all the looks of pity being cast upon her from the crowd seated around her. The silence that filled the room didn't slow grandma down, she continued her tirade. Shirley quietly moved toward the exit before the whispering about her started.
Grandma still had everyone's attention. She spun on her heel to head toward the coffin and the deep voiced man; whom I assume is the new owner here; grabbed her arm. "Oh no," I gasped knowing Grandma would be uncontrollable now. She spun around and grabbed him. I saw men wince and cross their legs. She had a twinkle in her eye as she fondled what she found in her boney fingers. "Well," she grinned, "Now I know why you are in such a foul mood all the time!" The man turned red, pried her hand loose and dropped to his knees.
Grandma raced over to the casket and pulled it open. She peered inside a moment. Then she leaned over the casket, said something quietly to the deceased and closed the lid back up.
"What did you say to him Edna?" a man hollered from the refreshment table. "That's between me and Ernie," she replied.
I saw Tostiosi helping his grandmother take a seat near the back. I motioned to Bobby the skips location and slowly worked my way that direction. Suddenly the skip looked up, and saw me. He scowled and marched over to me. "I am not going back to jail. Bombshell. Bounty. Hunter!" he snarled and jabbed his index finger into my chest punctuating every word. "Oh no you don't!" Grandma exclaimed, suddenly appearing at my side.
Before he knows what hit him, Grandma's purse smacked him hard upside the head stunning him a moment before he crumpled to the floor with a sizzle from my stun gun. Bobby shook his head not believing what he had just witnessed. He jogs over to cuff Tostiosi before he comes to and causes more problems.
"Thanks for the assist baby girl" Grandma says. "No problem, Gram. I see you got the shirt."
She looks down and grins. "Yeah, I didn't think you'd mind and those locks of yours baby girl are a joke. I picked them in 5 minutes with a bobby pin." Oh geez, now even my 80 year old grandma can get into my apartment without a key. Why am I the only one who can't? I heard Bobby chuckle behind me and gave him the stink eye.
The funeral parlor owner marched over to us with a police escort. "Mrs. Mazur," the officer said. "Please come with us quietly and I won't arrest you." "Arrest me? Arrest me for what?" Grandma demanded but followed willingly. Luckily he had her by the arm and she couldn't get those fast fingers on him. Bobby, however, wasn't as lucky. I heard a tiny yelp and saw him jump out of the corner of my eye. He was rubbing his behind when Les took hold of the skip. Serves him right. Lester could barely contain his laughter.
After we dropped off the skip and got our third body receipt, I had the guys drop me by my apartment. Bobby did a quick sweep of the place to make sure there were no mad stalkers or killer dust bunnies lying in wait. He kissed my cheek and told me to have a good night. I guess they did forget my birthday…
When I enter the apartment I can smell a hint of Bulgari and know Ranger was here. Bobby didn't mention smelling anything…maybe I am imagining it. Lord knows what the scent of Ranger does to my hormones. No time to think about that now though I've got to get ready for my date with Batman.
There is a white envelope on the table with Rangers elegant handwriting on it, so I don't panic that another crazy has been in my apartment. I take a deep breath, welcoming his scent into my lungs. It surrounds my senses like an intimate embrace.
I am looking forward to a wonderful night of dining, dancing and a few surprises. Can't wait to see you in the dress Ella helped me pick out. I'll see you at 6!
I raced to the bedroom. Draped across the bed was the most beautiful baby blue, sparkly halter dress I had ever laid eyes on. Ella had sent over strappy FMPs and the perfect new Victoria's Secret bra and panty set to compliment the dress. She thinks of everything! I wonder if she will adopt me?!
I pulled into the lot of Stephanie's apartment building 10 minutes early and checked in with Cal on the arrangements. Everything was set. I grabbed the flowers that rested on the passenger seat of the Turbo and raced inside taking the stairs two at a time. I started to let myself in but decided to knock instead. A few seconds later the door opened and Babe took my breath away!
The dress really brought out the blue of her eyes and her beautiful chestnut curls fell gently off her shoulders. I had to will myself to breathe.
"Those for me?" she asked indicating the flowers. "Yes," I said stepping inside the apartment. "You look beautiful!" I leaned in and kissed her cheek. She smiled and blushed a little taking the flowers to put in water.
"The flowers are beautiful Ranger, and the dress…."
"They pale in comparison to you, Babe." It may have sounded like a line but I meant it.
"Thank you…for all of it." She smiled.
I took a step forward and folded her into my arms, my lips seeking hers and finding them in a soft kiss.