All familiar characters belong to Janet. Mistakes are solely mine. Warnings for a little bedroom fun.

Chapter 3

"You wouldn't believe it, Mare," I said into my cell. "I'm living it and I don't believe any of this happened! One minute I'm standing in my crappy kitchen feeling trapped and sorry for myself … and the next, I'm looking at Ranger, admitting that I want to live with him, and then both of us were showing Grandma Mazur around this place less than an hour later. A place that belongs in a friggin' coffee table book."

"I can't believe it!" She yelled in reply. "Ever since you rented that death trap, I've been terrified you were gonna die in it, either from a disease they'd trace back to rats or roaches, or because of some a-hole who was able to break into your apartment. I wasn't even crossing my fingers for looks or comfort if you moved, I was just hoping you'd see that you needed to. I should've known Ranger would be the reason you finally did."

"He's either God or he really is a Superhero, because he can literally make anything happen," I replied, looking around his and my new bedroom. "There's a couch in my room, Mare! A freakin' couch!"

"Tell me more … no, wait. Maybe you shouldn't, since I can't see the house until tomorrow and it'll drive me crazy trying to picture everything."

"I can walk through my half and give you a brief overview. Grandma was ready to turn in after we scarfed down the steak-tip stir fry Ella sent over for dinner before Ranger had to leave for his patrol. Apparently, my company's not as enticing as Ranger or an Ella-cooked meal."

I can't really blame her. Ranger and food are basically my only motivators in life.

"Truth is," I said after a few beats, "I'm a bit nervous and I don't wanna have only my thoughts to keep me company until Ranger gets back. I'm a little worried I'm going to freak myself out and try to run again."

"You won't do that," she told me, being a true BFF for believing I'm better than I actually am. "But go ahead and give me the by-phone tour. Given what I've heard so far about your new digs, Ranger will be home and waiting impatiently for you to get off the phone before you're finished telling me everything. Did he really put his clothes and stuff away before he left?"

"Yeah. His uniforms are playing nice with mine in the walk-in closet … which is even bigger than the one he has on Seven. His shaving stuff is in the bathroom ready to be used at the butt-crack of dawn, and we have his and hers toothbrush and hairbrush holders. Why does this feel more permanent than a marriage proposal?"

"Because one's coming in the not-so-distant future and you're living like the ceremony already happened?"

"Stop … or I might do more than just panic," I warned her.

"Alright. Tell me what you're looking at right now?"

"A king-sized bed with an upholstered headboard, bedding that all matches and are all in shades of silver, white, or black or a pattern that combines all three. Don't repeat this to anyone, but Ranger said 'No' to a TV in here because 'I won't need any entertainment other than him'. Those were his exact words."

"Not to quote Grandma Mazur, but Hot Damn! That's seriously hot. I'd die on ... the ... spot if a man like Ranger said something like that to me."

"What makes you think I didn't have a similar reaction?" I asked her. "That's why I need you to distract me so I don't focus on how fast my life just changed."

"Since I don't want you to die, what does the bathroom look like?"

"It has two sinks, Mare. And a tub with a window above that looks out over the back of the property, and a shower big enough for more than the two of us with a freakin' wall of shower head-options to pick from. There's actual natural stone making up seventy-percent of the room. Nothing in this place is laminated."

"I'm so jealous I almost hate you, but keep going."

"Okay, if I walk out of the 'master suite', there's a hallway that leads to an office where we each have our own big-ass 'Boss desks' and our own space, but not so much that I can't shout questions over at him. And then the hall takes us to Julie's room that has an attached bathroom just for her ... which is a single version of ours but still every teenage girl's dream. The first floor has a half-bath and laundry room between the kitchen and its back escape door. I now have sliding glass doors that open to a big backyard covered in green grass not weeds, and the usual living room feeds into a dining room that butts up against our shared kitchen. There's also a finished basement which is being set aside for a gym. Obviously, that was a Ranger-requirement. Grandma has a similar set up on her side, but she has completely different priorities."

"I'm not shocked to hear that," Mary Lou said. "All she needs is a kitchen, TV, and a bathroom to keep her denture cup so she won't lose them. The rest is just icing on the 'I got away from Helen' cake for her, along with some major gossip fuel."

"It's like you've met her or something," I teased. "She wants a space for when my nieces come visit where they can sit and watch movies or run around and play. I think she's planning a movie theater/amusement park/poker and Bingo room vibe for her place."

"I want an invitation to that whenever she gets it."

"Don't encourage her. But she promised to make chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, so I'm not about to burst her 'party central' bubble just yet."

"If anyone can arrange a Grandma Mazur/tween girl/little girl playground, it's Ella with Ranger's okay."

"I know, but I still feel guilty for accepting all of this. If it weren't for Grandma …"

"You're so busy worrying that you're taking advantage of Ranger, has it ever occurred to you, Steph, that you just gave him what he's been wishing for?"

"No, which I guess is stupid because he's repeatedly said that he'd feel better with me living somewhere safer."

"Don't be dumb. He wanted you living in his penthouse for reasons that had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with you. And when that didn't happen as fast as it should have … he played the 'Grandma Card' and got you agreeing to the next best thing."

"Again, something he also admitted."

"So what's the problem? Ranger is getting as much out of this as you are. He's loved you for years."

"Hey, whose best friend are you?"

"Yours. Always. So I've earned the right to tell you that you're overthinking a situation when you should just be enjoying it."

"Thanks. I needed to hear that."

"I know. That's why I said it. You don't give yourself enough credit. You're one of the kindest, bravest, most generous people I've ever met … and I thank God for both of us that Ranger sees that in you too and isn't about to let you go."

"Way to freak me out again, Mary Lou."

"It's my job to keep you on your toes."

Someone turning into the driveway had me immediately tensing. If it's someone looking for trouble, I'm ready to reciprocate it. If it's Ranger home before I was expecting him … well, I don't know. Since the front door opened minutes later without any help from me, I knew it was my new roommate. It's only been a few hours, but so far Rex hasn't minded sharing me.

"I gotta go," I basically whispered to Mary Lou, like Batman won't hear - and file away - everything I say after he entered the building.

"Is Ranger home?"

"Yeeeeah," I all but sighed.

"Told you so. Okay. I'm hanging up now, but I am coming over tomorrow as soon as you're off duty. I want to see, touch, and sit on everything!"

"I promise, you'll have unlimited access to everything except Ranger. I'll call you and let you know when I'm done for the day. You can bring the boys if you want. There's plenty of room inside and out to work off a little of their energy. And the property is fenced-in, so they can't wander away and blow something up."

She snorted. "I think you're describing yourself, more than my little delinquents. They are monsters at times, but to my knowledge, you and Grandma Mazur are the only ones I know who have actually blown things up."

"Could be. I'll call you anyway."

"You'd better. Tell Ranger I said 'Hi' and to take good care of you."

"Will do," I replied with all my fingers crossed so I won't have to repeat the last part of that to him.

I ended the call and shoved my cell into the drawer of my new nightstand before I looked towards the bedroom door where Ranger is now standing.

"You're back," I said, after I'd gone momentarily speechless for a few beats.

He really can't not look sexy.

"I am."

"No problems tonight?" I asked.

"Not a single one."

Ooookay. I wanted to say something else, or at least try to appear a little sexy myself to give his mind a break from work, but my brain and body aren't cooperating. My eyes started to drop to the carpet, but stopped halfway down when I noticed my fingers nervously twisting the hem of the T-shirt I'd put on for bed.

"Look at me, Babe."

"I can't. I feel stupid. I was all flirty and confident with you before you left, but I'm now back to questioning everything I do and say, when I want to do everything except ruin this moment."

He crossed the room to where I'm sitting on the brand new, straight from the factory mattress. He wrapped a hand around my wrist and tugged me up and into him.

"You chose my shirt to wear," he said against my temple.

"I did. I wanted you to know that I'm yours. If the shirt doesn't say it, I'm prepared to."

His hands slid down to my hips. "I didn't hear any noise downstairs except for Rex running on his wheel. Is your grandmother asleep?"

"She is unless she's learned how to realistically fake her bulldozer-impersonation snore. I checked on her again before I called Mary Lou."

"Did you tell your best friend that I kidnapped you?"

"Not really. I think I called to get her opinion on whether or not I just took advantage of your good-guyness."

"You didn't. I don't do anything that doesn't benefit me in some way. What will I find if my hands slip under this cotton?" He asked, clenching his hands to catch the T-shirt material, along with the squishier parts of my hips, in his big hands.

And just like that, my nipples hardened and my thighs squeezed together, all my earlier worries running for cover somewhere else. Ranger can make me forget everything any time he wants to.

"Would you like me to go exploring … or do you need more time?" He asked, his interest in my body roughening up his voice.

I paused, but not because I didn't trust my need for him. My hesitation was due to not being sure how he got me relaxed and needy so fast after I almost messed this up.

"I'm all yours," I whispered.

Instead of getting me naked, he unbuckled his gun belt and tossed it onto the chair I'm sure he ordered just so all my clothes have a place to land that isn't the bed or the floor.

"I know my persuasiveness has limits, if you aren't ready for this, Babe, we can wait."

As usual, his acceptance of me had me letting go of any lingering doubts. "I guarantee that if your hands do make it under this shirt, you'll discover that I'm more than ready for you."

Thankfully, he didn't question me further … just moved his grip from my hips to my thighs that were bare below the shirt.

"Keep in mind," I whispered, "if your fingers head North, you'd better be prepared to finish whatever you start."

His head lowered to mine. "No worries there. I'm always prepared for every situation. The Boy Scouts have nothing on me."

"I'm not arguing. I've said something similar myself about how prepared and thorough you are," I told him, sliding my hands up his muscley arms to loop around his neck. "Mary Lou said I should stop thinking and just enjoy being with you."

"I only care what you think," he told me, his lips already grazing my neck. "Now's not the time to hide or hold back, Steph."

"I think I've needed this, needed you, for longer than I'd like to admit."

"Keep talking," he said, as his mouth moved down to my collarbones and then headed right back up the other side of my throat.

"I can't," I told him, or tried to ... my voice was too breathless to carry further than my lips. "You're too distracting."

"Want me to stop?"

"Noooo."

His lips formed a smile against the surprisingly sensitive skin hiding under my chin.

"And you may be a little overdressed for this particular party."

"Trying to get me naked, Babe."

I ignored the embarrassment I can feel shooting into my cheeks. "No. I was just pointing out that you're still wearing your full uniform, while I'm only in part of yours. If I were trying to get you naked, you'd know it."

"What do I have to do to test that theory?"

I went up on my bare toes to put my lips close to his. "Kiss me again."

He wasted no time slanting his mouth across mine. While I was still reeling from how fast he moved, he lifted me up with his hands clutching the back of my thighs. I wrapped them around his hips so I could hold myself up and against him, since his hands were already sliding under my shirt to see if I chickened out or was really as ready for him as I'd teased. His fingers quickly found out that the only thing I'm wearing is his shirt and that I had been pressing my thighs together from the moment I'd learned he was home.

When his fingertips stroked over me from behind, and then two fingers slid into me, I stopped worrying about his clothes and focused on what he was doing to me and stirring up in me. Without lifting his mouth from mine ... he teased, flicked, and stroked me into a gasp that had him deepening our kiss until I was trying to move away from him, but also grind up into him in an attempt to escape the force of the sensations he was literally pulling out of me.

Without removing his hand or his mouth, he moved us towards the bed and following me down. Since I now have the bed supporting me, he used his free hand to shove my shirt up to my shoulders and then let my lips go to close his around my nipple, synchronizing his tongue and finger movements so I was squirming, gasping, and digging my fingers into his hair … wanting to push him away so I wouldn't explode, yet holding him tight to me so he wouldn't stop what he was doing.

If you asked him, he would probably say he had my orgasm on a timer that was controlled by him, but he didn't gloat when I said his name on a wail as he flicked me over the edge of sanity to where fireworks commingled with a sense of weightlessness I've never experienced except when I was with him like this.

Ranger's mouth continued its exploration as I rejoined him here on earth. My nightshirt being tugged up over my head and completely removed had my eyes finally opening.

"No fair, you're still dressed," I whined.

"I've shown you how good I am without needing to take off my clothes, and you're still complaining?"

"Not complaining exactly, but you are going to get naked at some point soon, right?"

"Right. The only thing that could make this day - and move - better is to be buried deep inside you at the end of it."

Gulp.

My sight went fuzzy again when he peeled his shirt off one-handed. I watched in fascination as the muscles in his arms and back tensed and released as he unlaced his boots and kicked them off before removing his socks and cargo pants. The one brain cell that is working independently from all the others that stayed stuck staring at Batman in a total stalker-way as he shed his clothes, thought to get under the covers before reaching for him again.

He eased his big body down so it was flush all along mine, and I didn't care at all that the weight of all his muscles was too heavy to act as a blanket for me. I shoved one hand through his unfairly silky hair again and let my other wander down his back, his arm, and then I worked it between us so I could curl my fingers around him. He doesn't need any help in order to come in on top of the hardness scale, but I still slid my hand up and down his length in hopes I could affect him even further ... until he stopped me.

"I don't want to lose it like this," he said against my ear, his voice not sounding anything like his own. "You need to keep your hands to yourself if you want this to last."

I lifted my head up to smack a kiss to his mouth. "And if I don't want to wait any longer to feel you inside me?"

He captured my hands in his and brought them up to rest on either side of my head. "You don't have a choice in the matter. I want this to be good for you."

"It already was. You're the one who's behind on the orgasm scoreboard."

He leaned in even closer so his lips were brushing mine when he spoke. "When I make you let everything go, it turns me on as well."

"If that were true, you would've lit a cigarette five minutes ago while congratulating yourself for a job well done."

His lips tipped into a smile right before he started working his way down my body again. Starting at my lips and ending …

"Ranger?" I sighed, when he made sure my nipples were still hard and standing at attention before shoving aside the blanket and settling himself between my legs.

Round two was barely underway before I checked out again. He was bracing himself up on his forearms when the world refocused.

"Are you still on the pill?" He asked.

"Yes. And I haven't been with anyone since our last time."

"Good," he said, and then he slid slowly inside me. "In case I haven't been clear, from now on ... I'm the only man who gets to do this with you."

My eyes rolled back in my head as his hips rolled like a Point Pleasant wave into mine. Since he's the only man who has ever made me feel like this, I didn't argue with him. Not that I'd planned to. The friction and fullness I'm currently feeling courtesy of Ranger has a way of blocking out any other feelings. I saw stars and I took him along with me what felt like hours later. I needed this as much as he needed me.

"I love you, Babe," he whispered against my temple, after he eased his weight back down on top of me.

"I love you too, Batman. And if tonight is any indication … I'm not going to fully appreciate this bed unless you're in it with me."