Chapter 121: Chance Encounters

Ranger’s POV


“No.” Steph stretches and buries her face under the pillows. “You’ve woken me up at hours not known to me for the past few days. Go explore. I’ll be here when you get back.”

There’s a thought to make me smile.

“Should I ask for a room with two beds from now on?”

She sighs in obvious relief. “You don’t mind?”


I kiss her and leave. I’m off to investigate Charlotte.

She’ll be there when I come back.


Well, I’m taking her car. Where could she go?

Sigh. I grab the keys and leave before my brain starts calculating the possibilities. Continue reading

Chapter 120: This Feels Like Deja Vu

Mando’s POV—Monday

I’m staring out of the window, contemplating a quick jog, when Chase walks in.


1100. Never mind. Time for my standing meeting with Chase. I motion for him to come in.

“Thanks for covering me this morning.”

“No problem. How was Miami?”

“Good. Atlanta?”

He grins. “I’m so glad my cousin does not schedule health checks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

I laugh. “Same here.” Continue reading

Chapter 119: Star Signs

A/N: DragonFly Friday, the car horn is just for you. :) Hope everything is OK.

Ranger’s POV—Sunday Night

“Where are we going, Carlos?”

I smile and hold her hand. “Come on. You’ll see.”

We keep going until we reach the top of the hill. “We’re here.”

“Where’s here?”

“The top of the hill.” It’s pitch black around us. Perfect. I take the basket from her hands and drop to the ground.

Steph rolls her eyes. I can’t see it but I can feel it. “Got that, Carlos. Why are we here?”

“To stargaze.”

She looks over at me and her mouth drops. “Stargaze?”

“Bad idea?”

“It’s freezing! It’s the middle of the night, we hiked fifteen minutes to get here, it’s … it’s …” She beams. “Wonderful, Carlos! So romantic!” Continue reading

I Learn to Waltz, Part IV

“Closing the Deal with the Right Fork”

Javi‘s POV

Every man here is in a panic.

Numbers come out in three days. We’re desperate to know if we tipped Trenton. I’ll have an office full of pissed off men if we didn’t.

Steph sent her pre-visit info yesterday.

Our review? In two weeks.

Conducted by who? The entire Leadership Core!

Ranger, Tank, Les, Bobby and Hector on-site, Tank, Bobby, and Steph doing the review, and Ranger and Hector meeting with the leadership.

So now the pressure is on. For Jorge, Drake, and Mack, this is extra special and nerve-wracking. This is the first time Jorge will meet the entire LC and he’s dreading it. I kept reminding him that he’s met Les, Hector and Steph. He knows them. It’ll be OK. Continue reading

Chapter 118: Perhaps I Should Explain . . .

Ranger’s POV

Boston looks good, as always. I’ve confirmed Mark went after Hospitality contracts. Nice healthy ones too. At the moment, his ass is grass with me, but Steph kept him for some reason. I’m waiting to hear why because it’s the only thing saving him from time on the mats with the entire LC before I dismiss him.

We return from the downtown office and I go in search of Mike again. He’s in Mark’s office, watching the monitors and reading.


His head jerks up. “No, sir. Reading through the information Mark left for me. He left a series of articles for me to read, one each day, to teach me how to be an XO.”

I motion for the binder. He hands it over and I look. Good job. Detailed, broad range of topics, perfect to teach someone new to management how to perform his duties. “Useful?”

Mike barks a laugh. “Somewhat.” I wait. “I mean, it’s the difference between reading about how to drive and driving.” I nod, amused. “That binder is factually correct in everything it covers, but until you sit in this seat with twenty different things flying at you, you don’t understand the brilliance and the limitations of that book.” Continue reading

Chapter 117: Surprise Me

Ranger‘s POV

I’m staring at the trunk of the Miata.

My personal choice? A Porsche 911. I wanted my Babe to match me but I knew not to buy that. I bought her a Miata and I heard she cried. I’d gotten the right thing.

I’m glad, because this car has shit for storage. Babe overpacked for a weeklong trip and nothing I said could get her to remove clothes. I wish Ella had been here, but she was in Newark with our family for Thanksgiving.

Les said it was the usual speculation on my life. Mom is worried about me. She and Abuela have worn a rosary away praying for me and Papa is praying that I come home safe and sound. My siblings had the usual comments, complaints and digressions.

He and Bobby enjoyed laughing at how wrong they were. Continue reading

I Learned My Lesson

Friday after Thanksgiving

Les‘s POV

I’m staring at my computer screen, trying to make sense of what I’m reading, when Bobby walks in.

“Turn it off.” I look at him. He looks amused. “You’ve been staring at the screen for ten minutes. You aren’t reading. You’re brooding.” He hops on the other end of my bed and stares at me. “Talk, bro.”

I stare out of the window to the bleak Trenton skyline. It’s nearly midnight and the stars can barely be seen. I’ve been thinking about this problem for the past two hours and I’m no closer to a resolution. Bobby walked in at the right moment.

“How goes the paperwork?”

“Ric’s an ass,” he mutters, flexing his fingers. I smirk; nice payback, primo. “I’m nearly finished. I’d like to hand him the stack before he leaves for Miami.”

“Good luck.” Continue reading

Your Struggle is Just Like Mine

A/N: The Final Thanksgiving story! I hope everyone enjoyed this. One Christmas story is done, but I’m still thinking about who to write for. The individuals who made this cut will be excluded from Christmas!

Mack‘s POV

I head out to Rikers to schedule a Thanksgiving visit for the boys to visit Yala. I checked the schedule online. Black Friday and the Wednesday before. Thanksgiving is A-L. I sign us up for both days and head back to the SUV. Jorge’s with me this time and we head back to Brooklyn. We just signed a new contract but we’re not celebrating.

I’m not sure about continuing to do this. The boys are angry and unhappy after every visit. I know it’s important, not just to Yala, but to them to have contact with their mamí, but I’m not sure how to handle it. I finally called Candy and asked for some help. So did Jorge. His ex is making his life miserable, accusing him of sexually harassing his daughter. The ex hates him. She don’t want him to have any contact with his daughter. Jorge’s in and out of court right now fighting the charges.

We gotta be the most miserable daddies in all of NYC. We fucked the wrong women. Continue reading

Cooking Lessons

Edna‘s POV

Helen waves at me from baggage claim. “Mother!”

I’m kissed and hugged but I’m tired and ready to go. “Let’s get my luggage and go, Helen.”

“What’s wrong?”

Nothing. Everything. I love Miami and I hate Miami. I love Larry and I hate Larry.

Helen grabs my suitcase and we walk out to the car. Frank’s there, with a RangeMan, and he has a smirk on his face.

He knows.

“Hey, Jailbird. How’s freedom?”

I glare at him and Helen looks at me. “Jailbird? Mother? What does Frank mean?”

Thanks, Frank. You and your big mouth. “Nothing, Helen.” Continue reading