After much discussion, Ranger drove me to my apartment for the night. Ranger wanted me to come back to his place. However, I had not been home in a couple of days and Rex needed to be fed and have his water changed.
“You can look after Rex and pack a bag to come back to my place. Even better, you can bring Rex with you.”
“Ranger, we have been over this. I love spending time with you. However, we aren’t in a relationship yet. We have been on three dates. They were three pretty spectacular dates, but they were only three dates. I have been living in your place almost exclusively over the past two months, but your place is not my place. I have no right to stay at your place. I still do stay there, but I feel kind of bad about it. It isn’t right. You aren’t my boyfriend.”
“Do I have to ask you to go steady with me to have you bring Rex to my place? What do I have to do to get you to move in with me?” He drove into a parking spot in my apartment building and got out of the car.
I followed him out. “Be patient. We are new at this dating thing. We are experienced at being friends. We have been friends for a long time. We are getting experienced at the friends with benefits, but it really has only been a couple of months that we have been partaking regularly of the benefits. But this dating thing is new to us. Give it time and it may turn into something more.” Up until two months ago I was dating Morelli. After a long on-again, off-again relationship, we broke up for what feels like the last time.
Ranger took my key from me and opened my apartment door. “Do you want it to turn into something more?”
“I think I do. But I also think it is too soon to tell for sure. There is a whole lot about you that I don’t know. Lula calls you Mr. Mysterio, and it’s true. You are still a mystery to me. Until you aren’t such an enigma, I cannot truly consider anything more.” I walked over to Rex’s cage. He was running on his wheel and, when I walked in, he stopped running and stared at me for a minute. I changed his water and put some hamster crunchies in his dish. I also added a raisin and a couple of sunflower seeds to make up for the fact that I hadn’t been home the day before to feed him. Rex darted over to the bounty and was able to stuff both the raisin and one of the sunflower seeds in his cheeks before scurrying over to his soup can hidey hole. That was his version of saying that it was nice to see me. Interaction with my hamster was over with.
Ranger dropped his gun belt on the counter, followed by his phone, wallet and keys. I looked at him. “This is an interesting conversation”, he said. “I don’t want to go home now. Besides, if I go home how were you going to get to Rangeman tomorrow? Your car is at the office.”
“I could always ask my dad to drive me.”
“Or I could just stay overnight and drive you there tomorrow.”
I looked at him, a “you’ve got to be kidding” expression on my face.
“What do you want to know about me?” He walked through to the living room and sat down on one end of my couch. I sat down on the other and stretched out my legs. Ranger put my feet in his lap and started massaging them. “I am all yours. What would you like to know?”
I thought for a minute. “Everything!” I said with a smile. Ranger just looked at me, continuing to massage my feet. “I guess I will start with a hard one first. What do you want from me? Do you want a relationship? Do you want to stay at the ‘friends with benefits’?”
“Like you I am still feeling my way on this. I know I like it when you are there with me. It does not have to be when we are at my place. I am equally comfortable being at your place. I just know that I don’t sleep as well when you aren’t beside me. The apartment feels empty when you aren’t there. It feels like just a place, whereas when you are there it feels like a home. I miss you when I don’t see you during the day and I worry about you when you aren’t with me. Does that make it a relationship? I am starting to think it does.
“I find it a bit scary. For years now I have avoided relationships because of the danger my girlfriend would be in as a result of knowing me. Then, when I knew that I had tracking abilities to make me feel more comfortable, I avoided relationships because I knew the only relationship I wanted to be in was with you, and you were taken. The idea that I can actually have a relationship with you is somewhat new and I am excited by the possibility. I want to push it along, make it happen for me before someone else comes along and scoops you up from under my nose. Sharing about my life, my past, does not come easily to me. I will try to answer any questions that you may have, and I will try not to overwhelm you with my desire to lock you in a relationship. But I do not want to stay as friends with benefits. I want more.”
“Okay? That’s all?”
“That’s all for now. These will be ongoing discussions that will take place over the rest of our lives but, for now? I’m tired, I’m sure you’re tired, and we have a full day tomorrow. If I am going to be at all effective, I need some sleep. I have looked after Rex. Did you want to sleep here, at your place, or separate tonight? Because whatever we decide, I need to get to bed soon. I’m hitting my wall.”
“It is easier for me to be at my apartment, but we are also here right now. I will leave it up to you. I would prefer not to be separate. We can sleep here now and go to bed within the next few minutes and sleep until seven tomorrow morning, or you can pack a bag, we can go back to my place and you can sleep until eight.”
“No matter how attractive another hour in bed sounds about now, I would prefer to stay here tonight. It is better for Rex to have some human company once in a while. Besides, I am so tired I am not sure if I would make it to Rangeman before I fell asleep.” I got up off the couch. “I put the shower bag you left the last time you stayed over in the bottom drawer in the vanity”, I said as I walked towards the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I finished up in the bathroom and changed into a pair of shortie pyjamas, climbed into bed, and was asleep before Ranger made it into bed three minutes later.
The next morning I woke up to Ranger kissing me awake, rubbing his thumb tenderly against my cheekbone, a cup of coffee on the nightstand beside me. “Good morning”, he said as he brushed my curls out of my face.
“It isn’t morning already, is it?” I asked sleepily.
Ranger smiled. “Unfortunately, yes. I have made breakfast. It isn’t to Ella’s standards, but it used up some of your perishables in the house.”
I got up and used the facilities, brushed my teeth and used mouthwash. I stumbled back to the bed and looked longingly at the sheets. “What did you make?” I asked as I sipped my coffee.
“Blueberry banana smoothies. I have bread ready to do down in the toaster, and peanut butter on the table for the toast. Are you ready for breakfast now?”
“Sounds good”, I said, the coffee kickstarting my mind into gear. “Let me guess. You are hungry?”
“Always”, his eyes growing dark with desire. He trailed his hand down below, and gave me a kiss that involved a lot of tongue. He pushed me back into the bed, following me down onto the sheets. I don’t think he was hungry after all, as it was some time before we actually made it to the breakfast table.
“So, I was thinking that we could go out on another date once you are feeling more comfortable with your workload”, Ranger said over some fabulous smoothies.
“That sounds wonderful.”
“How about we schedule it for Monday, after we have captured each of the skips with your brilliant plan?”
“Sounds good. As much as I would like to go on another date with you, I want to get my head above water so that I can enjoy it. Right now I am drowning in work.”
“I know you are. If there is anything I can do to help you with your workload, let me know.”
“Did you contact the guys to let them know of our plan?”
“Not yet. I want to talk to Tank about it first. I did ask that a team do surveillance on Nyetta’s apartment building though. I borrowed your scanner and emailed them a picture for their surveillance. We will need to get the apprehension papers to them this morning on our way into the office in case they are lucky enough to pick him up.”
“Thank you. I would really like to get that guy. I worry about what he is doing while he is running free.”
“Your worry is contagious. So do I.” He paused. “What are you going to work on today?”
“I am going to tell Vinnie about our capture plan, and then do the groundwork to set up the captures. I need to contact each of the felons to arrange a time to pick them up. When I have finished that, I would like to clean up some of the Sales files.” I received a text from Lula. “Lula says that she has two more files for me to chase. She is going to send me the particulars today. I will have to do those files for Vinnie as well. That makes eleven files for me to chase for Vinnie. I am glad that we have our plan. I would be debilitatingly overwhelmed if we didn’t have our plan. These smoothies are good. I didn’t even know I had a blender.”
“I found a hand blender in your cupboard”, Ranger said, pointing to the mixer on the counter.
“Oh, is that what that is? Val got it for me for Christmas a couple of years ago.”