Security 26

Chapter 22

Chapter Twenty-Two

The next morning Ranger didn't set his watch alarm. We both ended up sleeping in. Ranger slept to six in the morning. I slept to eleven. I woke slowly, smelling the scent of coffee brewing and hearing the tapping of computer keys. Ranger was working in his office.

I felt great, wonderfully relaxed. I slowly stretched and sighed with pleasure. I vaguely remembered Ranger putting me to bed the night before. I remember him taking my shoes and socks off, and undoing the hair elastic on the shirt to let the shirt loose again. And I had a hazy recollection of him taking my shorts off, then tucking me into bed. I checked. I was still wearing my panties and his shirt. My panties were on the right way.

I stretched again and got out of bed. I used the facilities and brushed my teeth, then wandered in to see Ranger. "Good morning." I sat on his knee.

"It used to be when you would play Goldilocks in my apartment. Last night you played Sleeping Beauty. Did you have a good sleep?"

"I did. I figure I slept about twelve hours. I didn't realize how tired I was. Do you know how much of the Sales files I got through?"

"No, I didn't look. I just turned off your computer and brought you upstairs."

"I will have to go down to check."

"Tomorrow. Today is a day of rest. You need it. You've basically been working two full-time jobs since you started at Rangeman two months ago. Take the day off. Nothing will fall apart. The world won't stop turning. All the essential things have been done. You can relax for the day."

"Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? What are you doing right now? Working."

"Yes, but I didn't fall asleep at my desk yesterday and I haven't been working two jobs."

"No, but your one job takes up just as much time as my two jobs."

"Not quite. I usually work sixty-hour work weeks. I train another ten to fifteen hours per week. Which brings me up to another point. I was looking at your timesheets this morning and you haven't been billing Rangeman for the time you have been spending at the range and the gym. That is billable time. I have added ten hours per week to your timesheets to make up for the discrepancy for both the month that was approved when I was away, as well as this past month. In the future, I expect to see the training time added to your timesheet."

"That doesn't seem right to me. If I was anyway half decent at my job, I would already know how to shoot and to fight. It doesn't seem fair to me that you pay for me to learn something I should already know."

"Whether it seems right to you or not, Rangeman pays all Operations staff up to ten hours per week for training. You are not being treated any differently than any of the other Operations staff. It's important to keep up to date on your skills. You never know when you will need them and, with the nature of the job as a bounty hunter, you are front and centre when a lot of shit hits the fan. Self-defence, shooting skills, are all essential in the type of work you have chosen to do."

"Are we training today?"

"No, today will be a true day of rest. With your training time added on top of your two jobs, you are working somewhere between eighty and ninety hours per week, even up to one hundred hours some weeks, depending upon what has been going down. Vinnie has been overextending himself, which has resulted in a lot of pressure being put on you to keep up to date on catching the skips. And you have been doing a phenomenal job on staying up to date with the research desk. But something will break soon if you don't rest." I made a face. "Rest is important, Babe. Otherwise you can make mistakes. You could fall asleep driving, or not react fast enough at a time where speed is important. Being overtired can be deadly." He gave me a deep kiss, our tongues touched and suddenly I wasn't so relaxed any more. I think I might have moaned. Ranger pulled back. "Are you hungry?"

"Starving", I whispered, and I tried to pull him back into a kiss.

Ranger picked me up and carried me into the dining room. Putting me down on a chair, he turned to the refrigerator and pulled out a dish of strawberries, a plate of cut cheese, and a loaf of cinnamon bread on a bread board. He put out plates for the bread and cheese, and bowls for the strawberries. Then, getting cutlery, he set the table. He finished by pouring me a cup of coffee and doctoring it with cream.

"Ah, you meant for food when you asked if I was hungry", I said with a smile.

Ranger laughed. "Well, I'm hungry for food. I have been up since six."

"Why didn't you just go ahead and eat without me?"

"Because I wanted to share my breakfast with you." Ranger split the serving dish of strawberries into two bowls and put one in front of me. He then cut the cinnamon bread while I took the plastic wrap off the plate of cheese.

"Why didn't you just wake me up, then?"

"I wanted to let you sleep. It wasn't that long ago your nightmares about shooting Brodie were giving you problems with sleeping through the night and you haven't really had a good chance to catch up yet. I was glad you slept in as late as you did."

"Thank you for waiting then. That was sweet of you."

"I also waited to have my shower."

"Funny enough, I haven't had my shower yet either", I said with a smile.

After our shower, in which Ranger made sure that I was very clean, I blew my hair dry while Ranger shaved his face. Then Ranger took me back to bed for some naked napping. We didn't get much sleeping done, but we were feeling very relaxed and refreshed by the time we finished. "Do we have to go to meet your family?" I asked as I smiled and stretched languorously.

Ranger laughed. "Can't get out of this now, Babe. But we have an hour before we have to go. Do you want to get some real napping done?"

"I don't want to take the chance that we will be late."

"I will set my watch alarm." He fiddled with his watch and set the alarm, then cuddled me into him in a spoon-like fashion. He smoothed my curls away from his nose and kissed the top of my head as his hand drifted down, draped over my hip and covered my abdomen.

I had a bad dream about Berginni. I woke to a combination of the sound of Ranger's watch alarm and the keening in the back of my throat.

"I was just about to wake you, Babe, when the alarm went off. What were you dreaming about?"

"I was attacked by Berginni in front of your family. I got away, but he came after your family. I ended up shooting him to stop him from hurting everybody." I snuggled into Ranger, buried my nose in his chest, and smelled the comforting scent of Bulgari Green. I absorbed some of his peacefulness as my heart rate slowed.

"Wow. That was a whole ball of wax dream. It had little bits pulled from all sorts of stuff, from me using Berginni's face on your targets, to your feelings about shooting people, to your protectiveness of others, to worry about acceptance by my family, to your own feelings about Berginni. You know my family will love you, don't you?"

"No. I just want to make a good impression. It's important to me."

"I know it is, and I love you for it."

"You love me?"

"Yes, I do. I don't say it to you often enough, but yes, I do." He leaned his head down and gave me a soft and sweet kiss on the lips, then kissed my forehead, my cheekbones, my chin, my nose, and finally my lips again. His hand ran up and down my back, and my hands slipped down to do some exploring of my own. Ranger pulled back. "I'm sorry, Babe. We will have to take this up later or Rex won't get fed this afternoon."

"Damn. I almost had you."

Ranger started to laugh. "Yes, you did. But you already had me twice today, both of which were highly enjoyable, I might add, and you can have me again tonight. After we visit with my family."

"Okay." I gave him another kiss, a short, light kiss, and hauled myself out of bed. "Give me five minutes, ten minutes tops, and I will be ready to go."

"I don't believe you will be ready in ten minutes. I say it will take you at least fifteen", he teased.

"Ah, a challenge. I like it." I put on underwear, went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth and used mouthwash. I then brushed my hair and, in deference to the heat outside, I put it up in a ponytail and put hairspray on to try to tame the frizzies. Once my hair was fixed, I applied my makeup – BB cream, bronzer, eyeliner, eye shadow, three coats of mascara for luck, and a raspberry lip gloss. I walked out of the bathroom with four minutes to spare. I went to the closet and put my dress over my head, got Ranger to zip up the back – I could have done it myself but why struggle? – put on my shoes and sweater and jewelry and was ready to go. In eight minutes. "I should have asked for a bet to be waged."

"You are right. But it's too late now", he said with a smile. He pulled on washed out black cargo shorts and a black t-shirt, and pushed his bare feet into black canvas deck shoes. "Ready."

"Do you think I can leave my gun at home?" I asked.

"Bring it here", said Ranger as he opened up his gun cabinet. I locked in my gun, and left my stun gun, utility belt, pepper spray, thigh holster and belt holster on a shelf in the closet. I left my cuffs in my bag. My purse was significantly lighter when I picked it up.

"You forget how much all that stuff weighs."

"I am surprised that you don't have back issues from carrying all that on one shoulder. It is a much better idea to wear it around your waist as a utility belt."

"I am starting to wear it that way when I go out to do captures. Not all the time. Some captures are better done with a little finesse. But some of the scary ones I am starting to do fully dressed – Kevlar and utility belt. But in-between wearing it on my waist, I am still carrying it in my purse. It is there if I ever need it but, more importantly, I have nothing else that I can do with it."

"Right. You don't have a lock box in your car under your seat, do you?"

"No, I don't. So I just keep it on me. That way, with the frequency my car gets stolen, I don't have to worry about my gun getting stolen as well."

Ranger led me out of the apartment and onto the elevator to do down. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look?"

"Thank you. You look pretty hot yourself." I stepped closer and buried my nose in his shoulder. "You smell good, too." The elevator stopped and the doors opened. We stepped out and walked over to Ranger's Cayenne. Ranger held the door for me and waited until I had got in the car and put my seatbelt on before he shut the door. He got in his side and started the car, turning classical music on softly in the background.

"Why are we taking the Cayenne?" I asked.

"I am hoping to convince you to bring Rex back to my apartment for a few days, and we will need the room for the cage."

"Always thinking ahead, aren't you?"

"I try."

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