Author's Note: What's this? A new fic from CMW2 and it's not SCANDAL based? Whaaa? LOL! Yeah, about that. I haven't forgotten about BABE or Lock but as I've been saying to Margaret, I've run out of patience with canon Stephanie Plum's lack of positive character development so much that if I tried to write a HEA for her with Ranger or anyone for that matter right now, even if I crossed to the Dark Cupcake Side, it would fall flatter than club soda. I'm more inclined to have her die alone as an old regret filled woman or be blown to smithereens in one of her car bombs and that is sad as hell.

She shouldn't be the spawn mother to the next generation of emotionally manipulative/physically abusive Morelli jerks but Ranger, Diesel, or a new player to the Game who's actually worth a damn deserves better than some flip flopping, joy phobic immature brat who won't grow up and stick up for herself because it's too hard and scary.

Of course, Ranger's not blameless at all in the BABE situation. If he would just let his words match his devoted actions towards Steph (no man would bleed as much time, effort, money, cars, and comrades as much as Ranger does for her if she was just a piece of ass to him!), then we'd cooking with gas but am I shocked that Stephanie's on the verge of permanently choosing Morelli to be with as of Book 22 (that I refuse to read or spend cash on), absolutely not.

However, as with Lock, this one is gonna go veering screaming into Alternate Universe territory based on Book 1/the 2012 OftM movie's events where there will be a mature and much darker Steph, a dark yet slightly open Ranger and a strong BABE professional and personal relationship with lots of sex.

WARNING: I'm gonna call a spade a spade. If you actually like Morelli or Steph's pathetic excuse for a mother or the Burg, then get out now because it's not gonna be pretty for you. I feed off of the Flames and tears of the salty ones. Hopefully, by letting out some of my GRRR here, I can finally finish Lock that Shit Up on a happy note because you guys deserve it for being so patient and good to me. I really don't want to ruin that story.

Disclaimer: "Honestly, it's not mine!"

Growing up, I always wanted to be Wonder Woman.

I mean, why not? Confidence, a sense of justice, bulletproof bracelets, the respect of those around her, male and female, and did I mention that she can fly? Yeah, Wonder Woman was my ultimate goal and she still is. Really, she is but as I got older and with the way that my life decided to unfold, I also grew to identify with another DC character, one that's notorious in her devotion to the bad guys but also one that has layers, one who's soft and sweet inside but had to toughen up fast because of life's hard knocks and her own demons trying to tear her apart.

Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D. aka Harley Quinn.

I can hear the records scratching on the turntables, now but hear me out, okay? Yes, Harley ended up in a bad place more than once and yes, she's been privy to and the cause of all sorts of hell being raised in the DC Universe but think about it. All she really wants at the end of the day is to be loved. Picking The Joker as her Soulmate was pretty much the worst idea ever but I've connected with Harley. She doesn't give up. She's loyal until she's outright betrayed and she's not afraid to embrace who she is. She's not afraid to look conventional society dead in the face and tell it to go fuck itself. She's not afraid to change. She's willing to explore all of her options, whether it's a romantic/sexual relationship with Poison Ivy (it's finally canon, motherfuckers!) or going from outright baddie to chaotic neutral. She'll think for herself, even if it means breaking her own heart and I admire that. I admire her for being brave and for taking control of her own destiny when it counts the most.

I wasted so much time twisting my square peg self into round holes. I wasted so much of my life caring about people who don't really love me for me and people who don't matter. I set myself up for failure, for heartbreak and betrayal so many times and I didn't have to. I had choices. I had a voice. I had spirit but I was scared. I was immature. I was afraid to be "crazy", ashamed to be "crazy" but really, what is sanity? What is it really? I mean, going around blowing up buildings and eating people is definitely insane and those who do it definitely need to be put down but overall sanity isn't just something you can define in terms of black and white.

Sanity has shades of gray.

Sanity has varied definitions depending on who you are, where you are, and who you want to be.

Sanity…is relative and its scale is spread wider than Joyce Barnhadt's legs for married men, one of the suckers being my now ex husband but I'll get more in depth on that, later.

My name is Stephanie Michelle Plum. I'm 29 years old and at the age of 24, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life and married Richard 'Dickie' Orr. In the back of my mind, I knew it was a mistake, which led me to doing one thing right. I made sure that if the marriage fell apart, I would not be shafted. I would wring every bit of money and dignity I could out of the lousy son of a bitch. I refused to even look at a wedding dress until I got it all on iron clad legally binding papers, papers that Dickie had condescendingly (at the time I thought lovingly…) signed because he wanted me to feel secure in trusting him. He wanted me to put full faith in him taking care of me and despite being a lawyer signed everything that I wanted him to without even looking at it.

He should've looked at it.

He also should've kept it in his pants and made sure that I didn't find out about him straying.

'In the event of proven infidelity, the faithful spouse is entitled to 100% of all joint assets accumulated during the marriage, as well as spousal support payments, and full custody of any children produced during the union'.

Those words and his hubris became my salvation.

In the interest of the political and social Optics surrounding him, Dickie had put my name on everything he had. The townhouse in Manhattan, the yacht in San Francisco, the branches of his legal practice, the deed to the house in Trenton, the cars…everything, even a big portion of the trust fund he got from his filthy rich in oil money parents and grandparents. And when he came inside of Joyce Barndhart's silicone ass on our dining room table, a busted nut that he had been stupid enough to allow the slut to film for the sake of amateur porn…I took everything. The only thing I didn't take from him was a child and that was a blessing. I don't think I'd be a very good mother at all and the last thing I wanted was to be connected to that louse for the rest of my life via offspring. I got every piece of property, half of his trust fund payments every month, every bit of his proper reputation, and instead of keeping all the property loot, I sold it all so I ended up heartbroken and enraged but sitting on a very large pile of interest collecting money.

Dickie had ended up sobbing like a two year old in front of me after the divorce court ruled in my favor, begging for my forgiveness and actually kissing my feet.

The newspaper picture of me filing my nails and leaning against the wall as Dickie prostrated himself in front of me became infamous, as did the stone cold expression on my face.

He had it coming.

The bastard should count himself lucky that I only took his money and reputation.

I could've taken his life and sometimes, a lot of times, I regret that I didn't.

Sure, I would be in prison for the rest of my life but knowing that The Dick would never hurt another woman again…oh, well. Maybe next cheating scum sucking husband, if I ever muster up the balls to get married again, that is. It's doubtful that I will ever go down the aisle again but never say never, y'know? Hell, maybe one day, I'll have a man and he won't cheat on me or try to clip my wings to keep me. I could actually end up with a decent man. Maybe even an excellent man, a man that I wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life with and having his child.

Sometimes miracles can happen. Look at what happened with Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Yeah, I know the guy's fictional but the example is still very valid.

My incubator Helen Plum had been aghast at my behavior. How could I divorce such a respectable man? How could I blame him for my shortcomings as a wife and woman? How dare I air such filthy dirty laundry (the tape had "accidentally" fallen into the hands of some very influential law and governmental big wigs) and how dare I humiliate her this way? Why couldn't I be like Valerie? Why couldn't I be like a good Burg girl and put up with being disregarded, lied to, mistreated just to keep a husband? Why couldn't I do anything right?

As usual, my father Frank had been silent and my Grandma Mazur, as much I loved and still adore her to this day, was more interested in feeding the Burg Grapevine all the salacious details, real and exaggerated to be much of an ally. After all, she didn't have much excitement in her life due to her having to tend to an ailing Grandpa Harry. Everyone else in Trenton treated me with pitying kid gloves or like I was a rabid dog to mad to go near to be put down. I went against the grain. I ruined a rich bitch's life and I wasn't even sorry for it. I couldn't even pretend to be sorry for it and that just would not do. I had to realize that I was in the wrong or I would have to leave.

I chose to leave.

I remained in contact with only one person, my best friend since Pre-K Mary Lou Stankovic. I would send my grandmother, sister and father their Christmas cards and gifts through her. They were generic but good gifts and I made sure that Mary Lou only gave them the contents, not the envelopes with postmarks. I didn't want to be bothered. I didn't want to be tracked down and visited. I didn't want to fuel anymore of the gossip machine.

It worked well enough without my contributions, thank you very fucking much.

The Burg Grapevine and urban legend had me jet setting in the Mediterranean, working undercover for the same branch of British law enforcement as 007 or deep in the heart of India, learning Sanskrit and belly dancing from the experts.

In reality, I just moved to New Mexico. I bought a small bungalow in some foothills and learned not just to find myself but enjoy myself as is. I lived off my loot and the jewelry I made. The dry heat did wonders in aiding my efforts to tame my mane of wild honeysuckle brown curls and if I wanted to hit Vegas, LA, or Honolulu, it was simple. Life had become quiet and simple for me.

Well, at least until now.

According to Mary Lou, Valerie's husband Steve had cheated on her with the barely legal babysitter, leaving her with two kids, a mountain of debt she couldn't pay off, and a broken heart. After being coddled by Helen, she had ended up doing reception work for a two-bit lawyer named Albert Kloughn and promptly fell into bed with the bumbling idiot, resulting in her currently being 4 months pregnant out of wedlock. Although I felt bad for Angie and Mary Alice, along with the third child in the works, I couldn't help but feel a bit of malicious glee at St. Valerie finally losing her vaunted Burg halo.

What was complicating my life was my decision to return to Trenton for Grandpa Harry's funeral, which snowballed into my deciding to stay. Grandma was actually doing well for herself in widowhood. She was embracing her own "crazy" and living life on her own terms. However, she admitted that she felt all alone in her convictions and that she felt terrible for not helping me in the way she should've after what happened with The Dick. She wasn't sure about my father but signs showed that he felt bad, too. They both missed me and Grandma wanted to rebuild our relationship.

Like Harley, I'm loyal to a fault sometimes so I came back to my hometown. I didn't move back to the Burg and I still refuse to deal with Helen for more than 5 minutes at a time on the phone but I was back in Trenton…and bored.

I can hear the scoffing. Aw, poor rich divorcee is bored? What a First World Problem but a bored me is a dangerous me. So, that led to my getting a new day job, a new day job that made Helen lock herself in the pantry with her "secret" bottle of Old Turkey and sent all the Burg tongues a-wagging. Even Mary Lou gave me a 'What the fuck are you thinking, lady?' look when I filled her in.

I'm a bounty hunter and no, not like Dog the Bounty Hunter, dammit. Officially, my title is 'Bond Enforcement Agent' but I'm a bounty hunter for my perverted cousin Vinnie, the boss man for Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. More accurately, it's a money Laundromat for his father in law Harry the Hammer but whatever.

My job is simple. I go out and I bring in those who don't show up to court, known as Failure to Appears (FTAs) or Skips, one way or the other. I still have to follow the core Laws of the Land but I have a lot of leeway. As long as they're easily identifiable, I get my check. They can be dead or alive, maimed or limping. As long as the prints and occasionally the dental records match, I'm in the clear. I'm not a judge, a jury, or an executioner. I just bring them in and I'm pretty damned good at it. In fact, I've become so good at it, not only is Vinnie out of the red for the first time since Clinton was impeached, he decided to have Connie Rizzoli give me a big fish, one of the files usually reserved for RangeMan Securities.

The skip: 31 year old Trenton native Joseph Anthony Morelli aka Detective Hottie aka Joe aka the Italian Stallion aka the first lousy son of a bitch that I allowed to break my heart, my trust, and completely ruin my reputation. On top of that, he popped my Cherry on a donut shop floor and it wasn't even good.

After popping my Cherry, he decided to embrace his inner Shakespeare and write about it all around town before skipping town to join the Navy and left me holding the bag.

It's okay, though. Just like with The Dick, I got revenge but instead of loot, I put him in a boot.

When he came home on my 19th birthday, I broke his leg in 3 places and cracked his coccyx via a 'welcome home and fuck you, asshole!' encounter with my dad's tank of a Buick known as Big Blue. Eventually, he healed and became a detective for the Trenton Police Department, one of their best until now. He was on the hook for the missing and assumed very dead woman of the evening Carmen Sanchez from Stark Street (Trenton's equivalent of Skid Row) and instead of showing up to face the music, he once again bolted like a little bitch.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Allegedly, he's not guilty and trying to clear his name but to me, he's 50,000 dollars (a little bit over 46,000 after taxes) worth of work, revenge and street cred. I don't care whether he's innocent or not. That's up to the courts to decide and whatever poor shyster schmuck that ends up stuck with his case to get him through. Although given my past with him and the Morelli man reputation for violence against women, I'm inclined to believe he's guilty as sin.

Main Objective: Capture Morelli and put the money towards my nieces' college funds.

Like I said, I work because I need to keep my brain occupied, not because I have to.

I want Morelli. I want more revenge against him for hurting me. Hitting him with Big Blue was excellent but not enough. I want him to suffer long term. I want to make sure that another woman doesn't end up hurt by him. I want that 50 Grand. I want the notch on my belt of taking down a dirty cop.

Caveat: I don't want to get maimed or die while chasing the fucker down.

Joe Morelli's too much a bitch to really hurt me but the folks he's been rumored to run around with are the types to shoot first, stab second, and send your mother an 'I'm sorry' edible arrangement after your closed casket funeral when they turned out to be wrong.

I've got a lot of skills and moxie but even Harley and Wonder Woman need help, sometimes.

I'm not going to be able to pull off bagging Morelli without help and I'm not going to get half assed, half baked help.

I want the best in my corner and the best is RangeMan.