The apartment was nice and quiet when I got there. The loneliness and emptiness punched me in the gut as I walked in the front door. There was no smell of Ranger's shower gel hanging in the air, and there was no Ranger sitting on the couch waiting for me to cuddle in. I dropped my bag on the kitchen counter and wrapped my arms around myself. "Rex, I hope you are enjoying being home again, because I am not. I miss Ranger. Even though I just got here, I still miss him and I don't know if he is mine to miss." I changed the water in Rex's water bottle and poured some hamster crunchies in his bowl. Then, I put my gun in my cookie jar for safekeeping, plugged in my stun gun to recharge, and went into my bedroom to unpack and get ready for bed. It did not take me long to unpack. I put on a shirt of Ranger's that I had snuck out of his apartment, and a pair of underwear that were designed more for comfort than good looks. Cozy and tucked in for the night, I went through the pile of mail that I had brought up earlier in the day, separated out the bills from the junk mail, and went online and paid them. I was pleased to see I had money left in my account when I was finished. I moved some of that money into my savings account. That brought my savings comfortably out of the single digits.
Feeling much better about things, I decided to clean out my fridge. Having not been in my apartment for the past month, I was leery of any food that had been left in the refrigerator. Cleaning out the fridge is one of my least favourite chores and I was not looking forward to it. Taking a deep breath, I decided it would be a good idea to get it over with. I opened up the refrigerator door. The inside of the fridge was shiny clean, and filled with an assortment of fresh foods – milk, cream, orange juice, blueberries, bread, butter, coffee, peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, baby carrots, ranch dressing, apples, olives, and cheese. Attached to the carton of milk was a note: "Babe". I took out the chocolate hazelnut spread and got a spoon, noticing a bunch of bananas and a small bag of raisins on the counter above the cutlery drawer. I looked in the freezer. There was a tray of frozen lasagne and a couple of pineapple chicken TV dinners. Dipping the spoon in the jar of chocolate spread, I scooped up an enormous dollop of chocolate, put the lid back on the jar and put the jar back in the fridge. I licked my chocolate until the spoon was squeaky clean, got a tumbler out of the cupboard and poured myself a glass of milk. Grabbing the phone and taking my glass over to the couch, I phoned Ranger.
"The food fairy came!" I said when he answered the phone.
"You found out already? I didn't think you would figure it out until tomorrow morning when you went to have coffee."
"I wanted to clean out the fridge so that I could go shopping tomorrow. You did both the cleaning and the shopping. Thank you."
"I am worried enough about you. I do not need to worry about you eating, too."
"There is no need to worry about me, you know."
"My head says you are all right. My heart is still recovering from your last kidnapping. I haven't settled yet."
"My apartment is safer than it has ever been. It is monitored, and I can't have anyone either getting into or out of my place without it being caught on camera. I have learned a lot in self-defence and I can somewhat shoot a gun now. Plus, I have my watch on all the time. You have made me much safer than I have ever been. There is no need for you to worry."
"Keep your phone beside your bed. If you need me at all, just call."
I promised him I would and said good night. Then, because I had nothing better to do, I went to bed.
I did not sleep well. I tossed and turned, and I would wake up stretching across the bed, looking for Ranger in my sleep. Finally, at five thirty I decided that it was late enough to get up. Listening to the morning noises of the apartment building waking up, the water running, the pipes knocking, the sounds of newspapers being delivered to the doorways of my neighbours, I made a pot of coffee. While the coffee was brewing I brushed my teeth, jumped in the shower and started to laugh. On my shower caddy was a bottle of Ranger's Bulgari Green body wash. My heart feeling happier, I had a long hot shower, soaping up generously with Ranger's body wash. I dried off and, wrapping a towel around my body sarong style, I blasted my hair with the hair dryer. When it was dry, I put it up in a ponytail. I applied makeup – concealer to cover up my sleepless night, BB cream, eyeliner, two coats of mascara, and raspberry lip gloss. I put on a stretchy pale blue t-shirt and a black microfiber tennis skirt. My weather app showed it was supposed to be a hot day. I put on my black running shoes, the ones where the laces are offset and the shoe is designed for style as well as for running. With the four skips I had outstanding, something told me I would need to have some run in my feet.
I poured myself a cup of coffee, adding cream, mentally thanking Ranger again for coming to my rescue. I took out the loaf of bread and put two slices in the toaster. I put the rest of the bread back in the fridge, got out the chocolate hazelnut spread, and peeled a banana. I was ready to put my breakfast together.
I sipped my coffee as I waited for the toast to pop. Then, spreading the chocolate spread over the toast, I plopped half a banana on each of the two slices. Wrapping the chocolate bread around the banana, I ate the choco-banana dog, closing my eyes in bliss. I got some on my nose and around my mouth, but it was worth it. They were the closest thing to unhealthy that I had eaten in a few days, and my taste buds were thanking me.
Comfortably full on breakfast, I finished my coffee and poured myself another. I sat down to review the files again, wondering what Ranger was doing at that moment. I finished my coffee and looked at my watch. I had another three hours to go before I was scheduled to meet with Lula to go skip chasing. I reviewed my options. I could either rent a movie through the on-demand feature on the television and watch it, I could pop in a DVD and watch it, I could sit and have another coffee and watch the seniors' parking wars – which aren't very interesting at this time of the morning since all self-respecting seniors were happily drinking coffee and watching the morning news, or I could go to work at Rangeman. Even before I had finished the thought I found myself throwing out the remainder of my coffee, wiping off all sticky chocolaty traces of my breakfast, and brushing my teeth and using mouthwash. I put on my belt holster, took my Glock out of the cookie jar, picked up my charged stun gun and put it in my purse, gathered up my files and put those in my purse as well, and left the apartment.
I drove to Rangeman and keyed into the company's secure underground parking lot. The parking garage holds four parking spots reserved for Ranger. He has three cars – a Porsche Turbo 911, a Porsche Cayenne, and a Toyota Tacoma truck. Like the Rangeman fleet cars, all Ranger's cars are new, black, and in pristine condition.
I parked in Ranger's fourth spot. My car is also black but due to its age it sticks out like a sore thumb. I don't know if Ranger minds me parking in one of his spots. I have never asked. The spot is situated in a prime location, nice and close to the elevators, and I haven't wanted to take the chance that he would refuse my using it.
I took the elevator up to the fifth floor, walking past Ranger's office on the way to my own. His office was open but nobody was there. I unlocked the door to my office and entered. On my desk was a single red rose in a bud vase. My heart melted. Ever since I had woken up I had felt unsettled. The rose helped to smooth some of that disquiet away.
I put away my purse and walked down to the break room, meeting Ranger as he poured himself a coffee. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "I thought you weren't coming in until after hours this evening."
"I couldn't sleep and it isn't time to meet up with Lula for another couple of hours. It was either order a movie or come in here, and I figured I had those files to do for Sales so I might as well come in."
"Grab a coffee and come down to my office for a minute." Ranger waited for me to pour myself a coffee, then followed me down to his office. I went to sit down at his conference table while Ranger shut the door. "I missed you last night and this morning", he said. "I didn't sleep well either."
"After sleeping together so much over the past two months," I said, "I kept looking for you in my sleep. At one point I woke up lying horizontally across the bed. And that was after swiping one of your shirts from your closet to wear to bed. I finally gave up on sleeping around five thirty this morning."
"The apartment seemed empty without you there this morning. I came down here for breakfast." He pulled me up into his arms and gave me a kiss that involved a lot of tongue. When he sucked gently on my top lip my stomach muscles contracted and…oh boy. After a moment or two I realized my knee was inserted between Ranger's two legs, my hand was rubbing up and down his crotch, and the whimpering noises were coming from me. "The day isn't supposed to start for another two hours. Let's go upstairs", suggested Ranger, breathing just as hard as me.
"Uh-huh", I said, dazed.
"I still owe you a slow and sensual."
"Uh-huh." I didn't know if I could handle any more at all, let alone a slow and sensual. But having had a lifetime of pushing the boundaries, I thought that it would be a shame to stop now.