Back at Rangeman, I sent a text to Lula. "That went well. Morelli and I only argued three times. I am sorry for being a cranky-pants."
"No problemo. I'm getting used to it."
"Are you up for trying again tomorrow for the other two? I will have my own car back and should be in a better mood."
"Are you going to get some tonight?" she responded.
"No, but I hope to have a better sleep. I can take a Rangeman staff member, but I would prefer you."
"Hmm. When you phrase it like that, how can I say no? See you at ten?"
"No. This will be an early one. Meet you at seven? We can go for the dog poop mailer guy before he goes to work, and the dog dragger afterwards. She works at a clothing store and does not start until ten o'clock."
"Okay. I will meet you at the office at seven."
Arrangements made, Ranger and I walked into Rangeman and headed for the break room to grab some lunch. I selected a bowl of minestrone and a corned beef sandwich with an apple juice and a coffee. My caffeine levels were falling. I could tell because I had stopped shaking. Ranger also selected a bowl of minestrone and paired it with a salad sandwich and a vegetable juice. We went back to Ranger's office to eat our feast.
We sat quietly eating. For Ranger this was not something new. He listens well but rarely talks. This is, however, more rare with me. "Penny for your thoughts?" asked Ranger.
"I don't think they are worth that much", I answered. Ranger just waited for me as I gathered my thoughts and tried to distill them into something manageable. Then, like verbal diarrhea, they spewed forth. "I am upset about my continuing argument with Morelli. I am growing to believe the relationship is doomed. I don't think he is willing or knows how to change. However, I want to get the relationship back on an even keel so we are friends again. We seem to have lost the friendship and I miss that. And then there are the threats by Lundel. It would be annoying harassment if it weren't for the drugging and attempted kidnapping. Vandalism in itself is not that big a deal. Irritating and expensive, perhaps, but not essentially upsetting. The drugging and attempting kidnapping was the money shot. It is terrifying to me because the drugging meant I was out of control. Anything could have happened and I would not have been able to protect myself, no matter how much self-defense training I did." I paused to tip the soup bowl on its side to spoon up the last of the minestrone. "Like you and Morelli, I don't get what he is doing with the change in level of threat. It does not make sense."
"I found the drugging particularly upsetting as well", admitted Ranger, "for precisely the same reason. Anything could have happened and you would have been powerless to stop it. The vandalism is neither here nor there. Either Lundel has no plan and is following his gut, taking advantage of opportunities as they come up, or he is devious in trying to keep us off balanced. Whether he means to or not, the end result is the same. We are all off balance and are struggling a little with that. You will have to be especially cognizant when you are out with Lula tomorrow to not attract further attention to you."
"I am not sure if these are crimes of opportunity. With today, he had the note for my windshield already made up and in his pocket before he even approached the car. In the laundromat, he did not need to go out to the car to get the GHB, nor did he need to go somewhere to buy some. He was prepared for drugging me. In the case of my apartment, he had the stink fluid already in his hands when he arrived at the building. He has a plan of some sort, otherwise he would not be prepared in the way he has been."
"That's true." We were silent with our own thoughts for a moment, then Ranger said "I have half an hour free right now. Why don't we go down to the range and do some shooting. That will leave us more time to train in the gym this afternoon." We walked to the storeroom and grabbed a box of bullets, then headed down to the range. We were the only ones there. We donned our protective gear and walked into the range itself. Ranger set up the target and I aimed and fired. I shot a whole clip in. "Very good", said Ranger. "You are getting more bulls-eyes. Now this time focus on your stance." I did so, getting more bulls-eyes. "You are getting better. I am sending down a body target. Pretend it is Lundel and shoot it." I tried to, but seeing in my mind's eye Lundel's face did not help me aim for the bulls-eye. Instead, I started to shake and the body target blurred with unshed tears. I put the gun down. Ranger came over and gathered me into a hug. "Shh. It's okay. It's just a target. Nothing more than a piece of paper." He kissed me on the top of my head.
I sniffled as I got myself under control and stepped back out of his arms. "I can shoot the targets. It is when I am trying to envision it as a person I choke. Do you think I would choke if there was actually a person in front of me trying to shoot me?"
"I can't answer that. Tomorrow I will plan a field trip for us. We will go to the laser tag facility and practice shooting someone in a real-life setting. I think that may help answer your question. It will definitely help you practice hitting living targets."
"I really don't want to practice real-life shooting, even if it is in a play scenario."
"I know. But for your own safety you need to move past this fear of shooting someone." He handed my gun back to me. "Try one more clip and then we will head back upstairs."
I gamely tried another clip. I was able to shoot the whole clip this time, but my accuracy was terrible and I could not hit another bulls-eye.
I researched companies and individuals for the Operations and Sales departments that afternoon. Hal came over to my desk and dropped my keys for my car on it. "Your car is back", he said. "I washed it for you as well."
"Ranger asked if I wanted to come play laser tag with you tomorrow afternoon. He is getting a bunch of the guys together to give you lots of people to aim at. He does this every couple of months or so for our own target practice. He books the whole facility for an hour and all the staff who are off shift show up. It is lots of fun. We are all looking forward to it."
I put my keys in my purse and turned back to the searches. I finished the searches for Operations and started on the searches for Sales. I could not settle down to doing more searches, however. I was antsy. My brain was too crowded with unwelcome thoughts. In anticipation of doing further training in the gym, I went up to Ranger's apartment to change into workout gear. I dropped off my gun and purse at the same time, and took off my oversized shirt and put on a tight workout top. I felt it would be better for me to wear a proper workout top rather than the sports bra I had been wearing on the mats. Although I didn't have a problem wearing a sports bra in front of the guys – after all, it is less revealing than a bikini – I thought it would be better for Ranger's blood pressure to wear a full workout top when all his guys were gawking at me. I teamed the workout top with a pair of T&A shorts, and put a pair of Ranger's sweatpants and hoody overtop. I rolled up the waistband on his pants and rolled up the sleeves on his hoody. I was ready to work out.
I still had half an hour before I was supposed to meet Ranger at his office, so I went onto his computer to search Lundel again. I was hoping to find some clue as to where he might be. Redoing all of the searches I had done a few days ago, I found that there were a number of new charges to his credit cards, mainly to his low limit credit card that I assumed he kept for internet use. I looked at the charges. Most of them were for porn sites. Classy guy.
I copied the information into an email for Morelli and continued searching. I looked up property searches for his parents, his brother and his wife. I put all that information in as well. Then I pulled up property searches on his middle name and found four more locations he possibly owned. I included all that in the email as well. I then sent the email over to Morelli and went down to meet Ranger in his office.
He smiled as I entered and sat in front of his desk. "I like seeing my clothes on you, Babe."
"That's great, but they won't be on for long. I have workout clothes underneath. I thought, with the guys in the gym, you would prefer if I actually wore real workout clothes rather than stripping down to my bra."
"My blood pressure thanks you." He stood up and gave me an extended kiss. He sucked my top lip into his mouth and bit it slightly and sucked it some more to soothe the sting. I whimpered as my abdomen muscles contracted and … oh boy … I didn't know you could do that with a kiss.
Boneless, I would have sunk to the ground if Ranger had not been holding me up. "Wow!" I said, dazed.
Ranger smiled one of his half smiles and kissed me lightly on the lips. "Now that you are relaxed, let's go do some training."
"Wow!" I repeated.
Ranger took me by the hand and led me from the room down to the gym. I was still slightly dazed when we got to the gym, but after having a cold sip of water and holding the bottle against my hot face for a moment or two, I bounced back. Looking around, I noticed there were many more men in the gym today than there was yesterday.
I took off Ranger's sweats and I could hear the collective intake of breath of the guys in the gym. I looked at Ranger and saw that his eyes had gone dark with desire. He was holding himself a little awkwardly. "I think it was better for my blood pressure when you were wearing a sports bra and full pants, Babe." He scrambled the feed on the security cameras and announced to everyone that he was closing the gym down for the next two hours.
There were collective good-natured grumblings, but the men left the floor. A few men risked Ranger's wrath and looked through the windows at me. Ranger went over to the door and called the men over. He spoke quietly to them for a moment, and the men quickly walked away. He then closed and locked the door. "I'll have to put up blinds on the observation windows from the hall to the gym. This is ridiculous." He smiled. "But I love your outfit. I just don't want the guys to love it as well."
"I honestly thought this would be better than what I had been wearing."
"Are you kidding? Your legs go a mile high in those shorts, and the fact that your shorts and shirt are as tight as a second skin … now it is my turn to say 'wow'. For my blood pressure's sake, it might be better to not wear that outfit again in the gym."
Good to know.
Ranger led me through the series of stretches. My lack of flexibility meant I was unable to touch my toes or do any of the other stretches well. Ranger helped me extend the stretches, but I was still unable to touch my toes.
"Don't worry. With practice you will be able to touch your toes."
"I don't know. I think the problem is that my legs are too long and my arms are too short. This may be the only time in my life when I wished I was built like a chimpanzee."
We then started self-defense moves from a variety of different approaches. By the end I was hot and sweaty, Ranger was not, and although I was frustrated I was able to get out of half of the holds. This was a big improvement. A month ago I would not have been able to get out of any of them.
"See, Babe, you don't have to like self-defense training. However, you do have to know the moves. It is important for you as a bounty hunter. Tomorrow we are meeting at the laser tag facility at four o'clock to play with the guys. I will do it again the morning of the day after tomorrow to accommodate those guys who are having to miss it because they are working tomorrow. I expect you to be at both training sessions."
"I do this every couple of months with the guys to get them used to hitting moving targets. It is a lot of fun. We will step it up a notch and take earpieces for you and me, and then I will be able to give you pointers as you target the guys. That will be our secret, however. We don't want the guys to know we have an unfair advantage."
We cleaned up after ourselves, unscrambled the feed, and unlocked the door to the gym. There were no guys there peeping at us. I commented on it and Ranger smiled. "I told the guys that the next person I found peeping at you would be fired. I was serious and they knew it."
We took the elevator to the apartment. I thought I would have a bath instead of a shower, and ran the hot water. Ranger has this great Jacuzzi bath that I rarely use. I should use it more. It is a really great tub. Nice and deep, large enough for two. I don't think Ranger has ever used it.
Deciding I had enough water, I shucked my clothes and stepped into the hot water. I sunk down in the water, totally immersing myself. I washed my hair and immersed myself in the water again, rinsing the soap off. Turning on the jets, I then just lay in the tub with my eyes closed. A few minutes later I heard a whispered "are you asleep?"
Keeping my eyes closed, I said "no, just relaxed." I felt the water level rise and it wave side to side as Ranger got in the tub with me. He sat down at the other end, but not before I was able to open my eyes and get a good look at the proof that he found the whole bath thing wildly erotic. He lifted my feet into his lap and proceeded to massage them. I groaned with pleasure and reached back to his own feet and returned the favour. We lay there in the cooling water together, massaging each other's feet. I was getting turned on and I knew that Ranger already was. Then Ranger shifted so that he lay on top of me and … oh boy.
After cleaning up all the water we spilled on the floor, we headed into the bedroom to have a nap before dinner. The hot water – and activity – relaxed me in a way that I had not been relaxed in a very long time. I was not going to be in danger of being a cranky-pants tomorrow. It was naked napping, and we did not get much sleeping done. We took our time.
I always forget how good Ranger is in bed. I am used to Morelli. He was the talk of the neighbourhood when I was growing up. His prowess was well known and I know from experience his reputation was deserved. Ranger, however, is better.
By the end of our naked napping I was almost asleep. Ranger gathered me into a spoon position, moved aside my hair so it would not tickle his nose, and cuddled me until I fell asleep.
Ranger let me sleep through dinner. I did not wake up until five the next morning when Ranger's watch alarm went off.
"What time is it?" I asked sleepily. I do not normally wake easily, no matter how much sleep I get. I have been known to throw alarm clocks across the room in a sleep-stupefied effort to get them to stop their infernal buzzing.
"Five o'clock. Go back to sleep."
"Five in the morning? I slept through dinner?"
"I let you. I thought you could use the sleep since you haven't been sleeping well for a while."
"Thanks. Are you getting up for the day?" I asked.
"I was going to have a workout", he answered.
"Okay", I yawned. "I'll see you when you get back." I rolled over and closed my eyes. However, I could not go back to sleep. I tossed and turned. I guessed twelve hours of sleep was enough. I got up and put on Ranger's housecoat, getting turned on by the smell of Bulgari Green. It brought back memories of the night before, and I started getting excited again. I walked into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee, then walked to the bathroom to have a shower.
When I got out of the shower, Ranger was waiting with a cup of coffee for me. "Ella will be up in half an hour with our breakfast."
My immediate thought was that this gave Ranger five minutes to shower and another twenty-five to follow up on what we had started last night. However, I was more confused than ever. The truth is that I love Ranger. But I also love Morelli. If I had to pick one of the two, it would probably be Ranger. The problem is that Ranger's choice is between me and atoning for his past, and I am not sure I would win in that competition. I don't know what is in his past he has to atone for. Ranger is very quiet and shares little about his private life. I just know there is a big portion of himself he does not share with me. I don't know if he shares it with anyone. He has his secrets and guards them closely.
I could see Ranger was also thinking of a five minute shower. His eyes had dilated to black with desire and his groin was looking a little more engorged that it had been just a few minutes before. "How fast can you shower?" I asked.
"Depends. Is this solo showering?"
"I could use another shower", I said. I dropped the housecoat on the ground and turned around to run the water. Ranger made a choking sound and quickly shucked his clothes. He got in the shower spray behind me. Now here is the thing. Ranger's shower is pretty fantastic. It is large enough for two with room left over for maneuvering, and has a rainfall showerhead as well as several wall mount showerheads. We used every inch of the allotted space.
By the time we finished we were feeling very relaxed. We dried each other off and I put on Ranger's housecoat again. Ranger smiled. "Isn't this where we started, Babe?" He pulled me by the belt over to him and kissed me deeply. We heard Ella come in the apartment and drop off breakfast, calling out to us as she wished us a good day as she left.
Ranger shaved as I sat on the bench and watched him. I love watching Ranger shave. Morelli uses an electric shaver, and it is boring and noisy to watch. But Ranger used a safety razor and good smelling soap. He shaves his face, then finishes with aftershave. It leaves a much smoother skin that smells amazing. I like him unshaven as well, but I like him clean shaven too.
When he finished shaving, he walked to the closet and started to get dressed. "I have to get going, Babe. But if you keep looking at me like that I won't be getting anything done today."
I forgot – I also had things I had to do today. Coming out of my orgasmic amnesia, I remembered I had a seven o'clock meeting with Lula. I looked at the time. Six thirty. Just enough time to shove in a quick breakfast, get dressed, and make it to the bonds office. I hurriedly got dressed and joined Ranger at the table as he was taking our breakfast off the tray.
"What do you have up for today?" asked Ranger.
I told him about the dog poop mailer and about the dog dragger. "Working around this are some files to research, and of course the laser tag this afternoon at four. What about you?"
"I have a client who needs security work organized. I will be spending my morning in my office looking at blueprints. I think Sales has a new file for me to work on this afternoon."
I finished my scrambled eggs and toast and downed the remainder of my coffee. "I have to go. I am late." I rushed into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. Grabbing my bag on the way to the door, I ran over to Ranger and sat on his lap. I pulled him into a prolonged kiss.
"I thought you said you had to go?" Ranger said as he laughed.
"Some things are just too good to rush", I said.
Ranger kissed my nose and lightly slapped my butt. "Get going. You will be late."