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Love at the Drive-thru

Chapter Text

Love at the Drive-thru
The window at the drive-thru was always slamming every morning, but for the last three weeks her mornings got a little brighter around eight oh five. That was the time the sexiest man she believed she had ever laid eyes on rolled through. Her name was Staci Martin and she worked the drive-thru window of Biscuits and More seven days a week. She learned the man's name was Lester Santos, he flirted with her a few moments every day and yes, she flirted back. He usually asked her one question every day that surprised her. One question had been: Are you ever going to take a day off? Her reply, “Can't, too many bills.”
Chapter 1
Bright and early Monday morning Lester was going to met Stephanie. For some strange reason she had asked him to take her to the mall to help her pick out something for Ranger for Christmas. He was not sure what possessed him to agree, but he had. Over the last few weeks for his morning meal he had been stopping at a new little biscuit shop that had opened recently in Trenton. They were open for breakfast and lunch. Recently, he had made friends with Staci who usually worked the drive thru window and was debating about asking her out. He thought she was cute in a girl next door way, he loved her smile and could talk to her all day if possible. Life had been changing for him and he was getting tired of the love 'em 'n leave 'em life style he had been leading. He wanted something more and this woman ... well she intrigued him. Lester was longing for a relationship.
At the menu board was a speaker where you placed your order, above it was a camera so the person working the window could see the person and vehicle placing the order. Staci had grown to recognize Lester's voice and the SUV he drove.
Instead of the usual greeting over the speaker she said, “Good morning Les, your usual?”
“Yes Sweet Pea and I also need a Sarah Jo plus an extra coffee.” A Sarah Jo was a biscuit with bacon, egg and cheese.
He pulled around to the window to where Staci was waiting, “Sweet Pea, you look beautiful as usual.”
She rolled her eyes, “I bet you tell every woman that.”
“Only the ones I want to go out with.” She smiled back at him over that statement. But she ate up the few moments of attention, she could listen to that husky voice all day long and he wouldn't even have to make complete sentences to get her to listen.
“Your question of the day Pea, Who is your favorite music group?”
“Pink Floyd,” she replied without hesitation.
He paid for his and Beautiful's breakfast, she in turn handed him his order. As much as she would love to go out with him, it was not possible. He was gorgeous, drove nice vehicles and looked like he constantly worked out. There were a lot of physical things she loved about him, he had a gorgeous smile with killer dimples, glistening green eyes and his black hair begged for fingers to be ran through it not to mention his biceps. It wouldn't bother her to see his chest, that was her favorite part of a man or at least for the moment. She knew if he had a clue where she lived and what her life was really like, he would have nothing to do with her. For her, the rest of the day was a mixed bag of emotions because of her situation.
When her shift was over at Biscuits and More she went home. Home was why things would never work out for her and Lester. She lived in an older single wide mobile home that needed tons of work, but it was hers. There she was warm and dry and not living on the streets but not something you would want from the outside. Inside was a different story, everything was neat and clean, everything had its place. She wasn't OCD but living in a smaller place made it necessary.
In order to keep the few possessions she had she worked seven days a week from four-thirty in the morning until two-thirty in the afternoon. Her car was a nineteen ninety-three Dodge Shadow, it took most of her extra money to keep it going not that she really had that much extra money but she was trying to save for another car.
Most of her evenings were spent alone, she didn't date nor did she have a steady love interest. In her almost thirty years on this earth she had only dated three men. When she would refuse to have sex they would leave her, she had made a pledge to herself that she would wait until her wedding night to lose her virginity so she quit dating for all intent and purposes. Her only companion was her dog Daisy a tri-colored mixed breed that had been dropped in the trailer park as a puppy. Daisy gladly stayed with her and slept with her at night snuggled in her blanket.
The next morning came way to early, but she walked Daisy and left for work. She was getting tired of working everyday and hoped for some kind of break. Lester rolled through the drive thru at his usual eight oh five, she could set her watch by him. He flirted with her when he pulled up to the window and made her feel special for a couple moments while he was there. She wanted to give him her phone number but held off because of the thoughts of her home.
The next couple days went on much like they had been, him arriving at eight oh five and asking his usual question of the day. On Thursday morning, Lester rolled through again except he was late. Staci took his order and another order for someone else in the SUV with him. She had planned on sucking it up and giving him her number, she thought she could always meet him here at the restaurant and leave from there. When he pulled to the window Lester had a woman in the SUV with him. She had both of her hands wrapped around his. Staci saw him pull his hand from the woman, she asked him if he needed his receipt. He told her no, she wadded up the piece of paper with her number written on the back and threw it away. Staci sensed that Lester wanted to say something but didn't, finally Lester smiled at her then told her to have a great day before driving off.
As they pulled away the woman asked, “Is she the woman you want to ask out?”
“Yes, she is.”
“Why didn't you? She wants you too, there is a look in her eyes that says she likes you too. She is cute too. Les, it is all over your face that you like her,” the woman replied.
Staci took a break after he left to go to the restroom; while she was there she had a small cry to relieve her broken heart. She thought to herself 'I should have known he would have a girlfriend and she would be gorgeous.' Another thought that went through her mind, 'why couldn't I find a sexy, nice man like him.' After getting herself composed, she returned to the drive thru. The rest of her day was long and slow going it seemed to take forever for two-thirty to arrive.
She made her way home to a very happy Daisy. Before doing anything else she took the little dog on a walk and hopefully clear her mind more, there was something about the love of an animal to make you feel better and for her, Daisy helped.
The next few days that followed she avoided the drive thru when she knew it was about time for Les, she couldn't face him once she found out he had a girlfriend. 'Why wouldn't he' she thought, 'he's hot.' He finally asked one day where she was. The guy working the window said she was hurt by one of the customers who comes through here daily and thought it best not to wait on him.
Lester knew it was him. He had flirted with her but never went on to ask her out. He asked what time the restaurant closed, the guy told him. Les made the decision to be here when Staci left work that day, he needed to clear the air and make things right.
At two o'clock on the dot he was waiting on her to come out of the building. When she emerged he got out of the black SUV and slowly began walking towards her. Staci was only about five foot four and probably weighed a hundred and forty pounds. Her blonde hair was pulled up as usual and she looked tired; not just tired but exhausted in his opinion.
She saw him walking towards her, “Hi Lester, I'm sorry but we are closed for the day.”
“It is okay, I'm here to see you. I think you maybe avoiding me.”
“Yeah, I have been.”
“You don't need to flirt with me. Your girlfriend is beautiful why would you flirt with me when you have her?”
“The woman with me the other day wasn't my girlfriend, she is my partner and married to my cousin.”
She looked at him for a moment before asking, “Then why were you holding hands with her?”
He smiled, he understood exactly what happened, “She was trying to encourage me to ask you out. I needed moral support to ask you.”
“So you don't have a girlfriend? Why not?”
Still smiling at her, he asked her to come sit in the SUV with him, “No, I don't have a steady girlfriend, most women are intimidated by my size and the ones who aren't are just looking for a good time. For some reason you are not intimidated by me. So why aren't you?”
“Never thought about it. I see you as a person, you usually make me laugh and smile at me. I certainly don't find you intimidating. It might help that I always see you sitting down so I have never really seen your size until now.”
“Staci, would you like to go out with me this evening?”
“Sure, I just have to be home early, I have to be at work by four-thirty in the morning.”
“What time should I pick you up and I need your address?”
“How about five o'clock and I will meet you back here?”
“I don't mind coming to your house to pick you up. It is what a gentleman does on a proper date.”
“I would prefer to meet you here.”
They argued back and forth about where to meet until he finally agreed to her terms and would meet her back here at the restaurant. She told him she needed to get home because of Daisy. He came around to her side of the SUV to open the door for her then proceeded to walk her to her car. She was embarrassed for him to see the rolling wreck but it was all she could afford for the time being.
He returned to Rangeman to get ready for his date with Staci. When he went to his office he ran into Steph. “I did it. I asked her out.”
“When are you going?”
“This evening, I'm picking her up at seventeen hundred.”
“What was her name again?”
“Staci Martin.”
Stephanie thought it might be wise to run a background check on Staci just to make sure she was right for Lester.
She dressed in the nicest clothes she had which was still jeans and a nice blouse. There were no dresses in her closet, luckily for her she wasn't into them anyway. She pulled into the restaurant lot at four fifty-five, Les was waiting on her. By the time she had parked her car, he was at her door opening it for her. “You look wonderful.”
She smiled and thanked him before telling him he looked great. That was until her eyes fell to the firearm on his side. They decided on going to Smokey Joe's. It was a rib joint that several of the guys at Rangeman liked going to on a semi regular basis.
They talked about themselves where she learned he worked for Rangeman. Les told her more about Stephanie. She was married to Ranger, they had been together for three years, he went as far as to divulge a few of her nicknames. Rangeman was an elite security company offering many different type of security ranging from home and business to bodyguard service. It eased her mind somewhat about Les wearing a gun on his side.
He asked her about her history. She was reluctant to talk about it since she did not have a good childhood. Finally she told him about some of her most recent history of jobs and such. She really didn't think she had appeased him with her answers but the rest was too painful to talk about.
Staci had a rough childhood growing up. She had been in and out of foster care since she was thirteen, after her father killed her mom and younger brother, then himself. The social worker once told her she got lucky because she was staying with a friend the night he came home drunk and shot the rest of her family. Staci didn't feel lucky, she had lost her family after all. After that incident the extended family turned their back on her, none of them offered to take her in. It wasn't that she was a bad kid, but none of her dad's side of the family approved of her mom and her mom's side was scattered across, the country to the point of non-existent and couldn't be located. So she ended up being bounced around in the foster care system until she was eighteen.
After that birthday she couldn't stay with the last foster family any longer per the foster care program rules. Staci graduated high school then found an efficiency apartment to live in; the state helped pay for that until she got on her feet. She got two part-time jobs at some shops in the mall and had worked her schedule so she could take the bus to work and home. Once she had managed to save a few dollars, she bought the single wide trailer in the trailer park. She still had to pay lot rent but at least it was hers and nobody could take that from her.
Her next step had been to purchase a car. She drove an eighty-five model Ford Escort until it died, fortunately it got her through until she had saved for a nicer car. Staci bought herself a ninety-three Dodge Shadow, it had several years on it but was low mileage and still in pretty good condition body wise. It had allowed her to get a different job one she had hoped would be a better one.
She left the jobs at the mall after many years and went to work at The Dive, a strip club; as a waitress. Staci ended up hating that job, while yeah she did make a little bit more than she had at the mall jobs combined, she hated getting groped by men when she would take their drink orders and when she would deliver them to the tables. Because she didn't show a lot of skin, her tips suffered but she was never really happy with her body. She suffered with that job until she saw an ad for Biscuits n More. At least she wouldn't get pawed while working this job.
She applied and was hired on the spot. Her smile and wit was a big hit with Darrin McDaniels the owner, manager and now her boss. She didn't handle quitting The Dive like she could or should have, she walked in handed them her apron and order pad then left without notice. The next day she was scheduled to help with setup of supplies for the new restaurant. It had been a long day but she felt good about the new job and new opportunities that lie ahead. A few days later, the restaurant opened.
She volunteered to work the drive-thru window, liking the speed and pace of it. For her it made the day fly by. She made just a little over minimum wage, but was okay for now, because she knew Darrin was going to be needing an assistant manager before long and hopefully she would get that position. It would mean a nice pay raise for her but more headache, she could deal with the headache.
Lester was curious about her home and without thinking blurted out, “Are you ashamed of where you live? Is that why you didn't want me to come to your house to pick you up?”
She blushed and admitted that was the truth. “This was a bad idea, maybe you should take me back to my car.”
It broke his heart that she was embarrassed by her situation and saw herself as a failure, but he paid the bill and led her back to his SUV. The ride back to her car was silent. He wasn't sure what to say, which was a first for him. When they arrived back at the lot, he came around her door to open it for her.
Once she was out of the SUV, he pulled her to him, “Staci you are an amazing woman, you have worked hard from what I've learned this evening. I'm personally impressed with you. Would you go out with me again? Our company is having their office Christmas party next weekend, come with me?”
“Les as much as I would love to go, I don't have the clothes for such an event and I cannot afford to buy them either.”
“My treat. Get the clothes, shoes, handbag and have your hair done. I will pay for it.”
“Let me think on it.”
He smiled and nodded his head before climbing back in the SUV. Before pulling out he waited to make sure her car started. She tried to start the car, it sputtered and quit. On the next attempt, it backfired up through the intake and caught on fire. In the dark it was easy to see the glow under the hood. Les jumped out of the SUV and ran to her car. He helped get her out, along with her purse and phone. Staci called 911 to report the fire. The car was quickly engulfed in flames and black smoke. Lester did however get the SUV out of danger before his phone started ringing.
Ranger wanted to know what was going on and why his SUV was at a reported car fire. Lester explained the situation to him, he knew Ranger would show up with Steph since for a change of pace it wasn't her car going up in flames.
Staci stood there in shock watching her car burn to the ground. She wondered how she would pay for another one, since that one only had liability on it and how she was going to get to work.
A short time later, Ranger and Stephanie showed up at the scene. The firetrucks had gotten there quickly but there wasn't anything left of the car. Steph remembered Staci from the restaurant, so she walked over to her to see if she was okay.
She told Steph that she would be alright and introduced herself to Steph. Staci instantly liked Steph and felt comforted by her. Now if she could feel comforted about the new situation she found herself in.
She placed a call to her boss to tell him what had happened and that the building was okay. Her boss offered to come get her in the morning so she could make it to work, at least that was taken care of for tomorrow, who knew after that.
Lester offered to take her home. Although she didn't want him to see where she lived, she finally agreed. He held her hand as he drove. She told him where to turn to get to the trailer park. When he pulled in her driveway she pulled her hand out of his.
“Thank you for dinner.”
“Sweet Pea, I enjoyed spending time with you, will you go out with me again?”
“I will think about it. Dinner was good.”
“Please think about going to the Christmas party with me.”
He walked her to the door, after the door was opened she invited him in. He looked around once in the door, “ Sweet Pea this is beautiful.”
She smiled and thanked him. “When I was growing up my Abuela Rose lived in a poor part of Miami. During the summer, I spent a lot of time with her growing up. My parents asked her watch me while they both worked. Ranger spent a lot of time there along with me. The outside wasn't much but the inside was beautiful because of all the love in that house. Don't be ashamed of it. It doesn't matter to me what it looks like, its you I am here for.”
She blushed and smiled again, “Thank you. You are too kind. Lester, yes I will go out with you again but after this evening, I'm sorry I cannot afford to go to the Christmas party.”
“Take me up on my offer, I will buy the clothes for you. Would you like Stephanie to go with you? She has excellent taste.”
“Let me think on it please.”
He gave her a kiss that was soft and gentle, it conveyed no pressure but let her know he had enjoyed himself. “I will talk to you soon. Good night Sweet Pea.”
“Good night Lester.”

Chapter Text

Love at the Drive-thru
Chapter 2
The next morning her boss, Darrin McDaniels picked her up to take her to work, he hadn't seen the damage to the parking lot but knew the building was okay. They rode to work in silence part of the way, finally he asked her what she was going to do for transportation. She told him she had some money saved but not nearly enough to buy a decent used car that wouldn't be a problem all the time otherwise she had no clue.
He told her about a friend of his that had a car for sale and the car was in good shape just a lot of miles. Darrin suggested after work he could take her to look at it. Eventually, he asked her why she was at the restaurant after closing. She told him about her date and how she met Lester. Darrin was old enough to be her dad and had taken Staci under his wing. He was happy for her but told her to be careful, he had heard a lot of horrible stories about the men from Rangeman being thugs. She told him that wasn't true or at least with Les it was not true and went on to tell him how Les had treated her the night before. Deep down Darrin hoped she was right and wouldn't get her heart broken.
At promptly eight oh five, Lester pulled up to the drive-thru, “Good morning Les, your regular?”
“Yes Sweet Pea.”
He came around to the window to pay and asked her how she was doing and how was she getting home. Since there was a line of other customers behind him Staci told him quickly about Darrin's friend and the car. Lester offered to go as well. He really wanted to spend time with her and try to be helpful. Staci told him what time she should be done today and he could go with them to see the car.
Her day moved fast and quitting time was rapidly approaching, Staci looked out into the dining room and saw Lester. She walked out to where he was sitting and spoke to him before starting to clean the tables for the end of the day cleaning.
When everybody was done with clean up Staci and the rest of the staff exited out the employee door. Staci told Darrin she would ride with Lester and they would follow him to see the car.
Darrin pulled up in front of his friend's house with Les and Staci following. Somebody else was looking at the car for his kid. Lester noticed money exchanging hands, the car was sold before Staci got a chance to even look at it. They got out of the car to follow Darrin.
His friend Al spoke up, “Sorry Bro, I already sold the car.”
“I saw. Hopefully you got good money out of it. Staci's burnt last night.”
“Oh man, I am sorry, I thought you were just wanting another to toy around with.”
Staci and Lester left Al and Darrin to their conversation. They still needed to work on finding Staci something to drive to work. She asked him to stop somewhere so she could get a newspaper and check the classified ads, while she was at it she could look for another job as well. With her financial situation being what it was the second job looked more like a necessity, if nothing else she could possibly work the extra job through the holidays.
“I can see gears grinding. What are you thinking?”
“With this car purchase I am going to have to get another job at least through Christmas. Even if it is only a few hundred dollars it will help.”
“How much do you have to put down on a car?”
“Twenty five hundred is it. Then I need to keep the payment less than a hundred and fifty a month.”
“How about I help you pay for a car?”
“Absolutely not. I don't know you that well to be indebted to you and you don't know me.”
“I want to and I am not worried about the money, I can afford it.”
“Well I am worried about the money. Like I said, I don't want to be indebted to you.”
“Let's see what we can find online.” He wasn't giving up on helping her pay for a car.
Meanwhile back at Rangeman, Stephanie had forgotten about the background report she had pulled on Staci the night before. She knew what had happened to Staci's car since she had been there. Ranger wanted her to see that other people had bad car karma not just her. What she found on the report shocked her and surprised her.
As Steph continued reading, she absently rubbed her neck and mumbled to herself. “Babe, why are you mumbling?”
She shook her head in disbelief and handed him Staci's background check, “Read her background report. She has had a terrible life.”
Ranger read the report and shook his head, “I think she deserves a break but why did you run a background check on her?”
“I thought if Lester was going to go out with her it might be nice to know a little more about her. Besides you know me, I'm nosy, she isn't the first I have ran a report on.”
Lester was thinking Staci might be good as a receptionist at Rangeman. Ranger had been thinking about hiring someone to work nothing but the phones. He made the decision to talk to Ranger about it when he got to the office.
On the way back to her house Lester stopped at Pino's to buy a pizza, he was off for the rest of the day and maybe they could find her a car and get it bought before the evening was over.
After they ate, they quietly sat on the couch looking at cars. She found a couple she liked that she could afford but Lester didn't care for them. He wanted her in something safer as he put it. A bigger SUV was what he wanted her in but there was no way her budget could afford the payments, the fuel and insurance for it.
Deciding he couldn't wait, Lester stepped outside to make a phone call. “Yo.”
“Have you given any more thought to hiring a receptionist?”
“Yes, why?”
“What are the requirements for the position?”
“The usual except the person will not have to carry a gun or go out in the field.”
“Remember last night the woman with the burnt car, Staci. She needs a better paying job so she can afford to replace the car.”
“Have her come in and fill out an application.”
Lester then heard the customary click where Ranger hung up the phone. He went back in the trailer and sat back down beside Staci.
“Sweet Pea, I may have a solution to your problem.”
“Lester, I cannot take money from you. Please stop suggesting it.”
“No Sweet Pea, how about a different job, one with benefits and good pay?”
“Yeah Les, those drop out of the sky everyday,” she said with a sarcastic and snippy edge to her voice.
“No, I am serious, Rangeman is looking for a receptionist, you don't have to carry a gun nor are you out in the field. It would be a desk job.”
“Okay, tell me more.”
“It would be mostly Monday through Friday, oh eight hundred to seventeen hundred, an hour for lunch, full medical benefits effective upon hire including vision and dental, 401k with employer match. Plus I would try to get you use of a company car until you save up enough for your own. You would have access to a gym and would be required to work out a minimum of four days per week. I don't know what it pays per hour, but I am sure it is a whole lot better than what you are getting now and what you would get if you worked a second job.”
“I'll go over there tomorrow. Can you pick me up from work?”
“Absolutely,” he said before placing a gentle kiss on her lips.
He wanted to take it slow with her and truly get to know her. She was going to be special in his life, he knew it. There was an innocence about her like what Steph had when he first met her. Steph had turned out to be a light in Rangeman's world or Ranger's to be precise. Now, Lester would like to have his own light.
She had no clue how she was going to get to work in the morning, she hadn't asked Darrin to come get her and she didn't want to put Lester out with the time she had to be at work. Still looking online, she found a small SUV that might make Les happy. He read about the SUV before deciding if he felt it would be okay.
“Lets go look at it,” he finally spoke.
It was in her price range and was a Dodge Durango something she liked. She told him she needed to take Daisy for a quick walk since she was at the door doing the doggie version of the potty dance. While she was gone, Lester checked his billfold, two grand was in it. Between what she had to put down and what he had on him, the SUV could be paid for in full when they left. He knew she would have the job at Rangeman, Ranger wore a blank face usually but his voice was Ranger's tell, it told him what he needed to know, he would hire her.
When Staci got back with Daisy, Lester asked her if she was ready to go. 'Lucky Eddie's Used Car Emporium' was on the other side of Trenton which made Lester leery about the place, it wasn't in the best business district of town. The longer he thought about where it was, kept him from holding out a lot of hope on the SUV being much. Luckily for him, he had his guns on him so he could protect them if the need was to arise.
They spotted the SUV before pulling on the lot. Just as Lester feared, it wasn't much and they wanted too much money for it. The price was to be expected since 'Lucky Eddie's' was a buy here pay here lot and most of the cars compared to Steph's Nova she had at one time. These places fed on people like Staci who didn't have a lot of money and didn't make a lot of money either. He looked the SUV over and gave her his opinion of it.
“Lets walk away, we will get you back and forth to work the next few days until you can get on with Rangeman then you won't have any financial troubles again.”
“Les, I cannot rely on you or Darrin to get me back and forth to work, it isn't fair to either one of you.”
“Sweet Pea, I cannot let you buy that SUV in good conscience. It is not worth what they are asking and just by looking it over, I can see it has some problems. Some of those problems are going to be major problems in a short amount of time like the oil leak at the valve covers. Lets keep looking. As far as going back and forth to work, I am up usually at oh four hundred.”
She finally agreed to keep looking. There were a few other dealerships they stopped at as they made their way towards Rangeman. Lester knew the sooner she filled out the application the sooner Steph could start the background check on her. She would need to interview with the core team and Steph before being hired. He wouldn't be allowed to interview her since he had referred her and was trying to start a relationship with her.
Lester stopped his car on the street at Rangeman and came around to her door to open it for her. She asked if this was the Rangeman building and he told her it was. He escorted her in the front door and retrieved an application for her as they went to the conference room on the second floor. While she was working on the application he sent a quick text to Ranger and Steph that Staci was here and where to find her. A few minutes later they walked into the room.
“I don't think I properly introduced you last night. Staci Martin, this is Ranger and Stephanie Mañoso. Ranger, Steph this is Staci.”
Ranger had his usual blank face on, but Steph glowed as Lester noticed. He was impressed that they would've left the penthouse since they were in the midst of being intimate or had just finished.
“Lester said you are interested in the receptionist job,” Ranger mentioned while keeping the blank face.
“Yes, I am. As you may remember my car burnt to the ground the last night and a better job would mean a better car and better life for me.”
“It would be nice not to be basically the only woman working in the office,” Steph chimed in. “Ella is great don't get me wrong but, I don't get to see her often.”
“So you have not found another car yet?” Ranger quizzed.
“No, not yet. I have looked at a couple, one was sold before I got there and the other was on a buy here pay here lot. Lester said it had some problems and to steer clear of it. Plus he didn't like the fact it was on that kind of lot, he felt they take advantage of people. He is right they do.”
“Sweet Pea, have you finished the application?”
She handed it to Lester who in turn passed it to Stephanie. Steph began looking it over right then and a smile broke out across her face.
“You have had some interesting jobs over the years,” Steph commented.
“Yes I have, but I have done what I had to in order to survive.”
“I understand what you mean. Before I came on here full time, I rolled in a lot of garbage.”
Ranger watched the exchange between the two women and noticed an instant bond between both. They had endured a lot of obstacles and over came them. If he read Steph right, she approved. Ranger went on to tell Staci of the job requirements, benefits, and pay rate. She was impressed to say the least.
“We do require you to be physically fit, but since you will always be in the building and not doing field work, you can skip proving yourself with a gun,” Ranger explained to her.
“Thank you.”
“When Ranger and I go back upstairs, I will start your background check. If that is good we will set up an interview time.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you both.”
Staci turned to Lester after the couple left and smiled at him. He could see the relief and appreciation in her eyes.
“Les, I need to get home, I have to get some sleep.”
Lester handed her the keys to his Challenger that he had been driving earlier. “Take it home so you can get to work in the morning. I will get it after you get to work.”
She looked at him bewildered, “I can't take that car home, it is way to expensive for me to drive. What if I wreck it or someone steals it?”
“It is insured. The way I see it, you have two choices, take the car so you can get to work or I go to your place to stay for the night so I can take you to work. Which do you want?”
That was probably the toughest choice she had had all day. “Who is sleeping on the couch because I'm not driving that car.”
He smiled at her comment. “Let me grab a go bag.”
Lester left her in the conference room while he went to his apartment on four then went to the fifth floor.
“Lester, we got the report on Staci,” Stephanie called out to him. “You would not believe what is in it.” Lester began to immediately get defensive and worried too. “It is nothing criminal, but it is about her life and things that had happened in it,” Steph added.
“What is in it?”
“Just read the report.”
Lester took a few minutes to look the report over. He understood why she didn't want to talk about her childhood. She had been given a tough hand and she had made it through. There in black and white he learned about Staci's life and why she had been reluctant to talk about it. The report read that she had been in and out of foster care since she was thirteen after her father killed her mom and brother. She got lucky because she was staying with a friend that night he came home drunk as the social worker once told her and had notated it in her file. After that incident the extended family turned their back on her, none of them offered to take her in. She ended up bouncing around in the foster care system until she was eighteen.
His mind flashed back to what he had first felt, sympathy for her but it turned to admiration for the tough life she had led and how she was doing now. Somehow, he was not surprised about the information in that file even though she hadn't told him.
On Lester's way back down to the conference room, Bobby got on the elevator with him.
“I heard we are getting a receptionist.”
Lester nodded, “Her name is Staci Martin.”
The doors opened and Lester stepped off, Bobby followed.
“I'm suppose to arrange a time to give her a physical and go ahead an interview her.”
This was going faster than Lester even imagined, but he was glad. They walked in the conference room together. “Staci Martin this is Bobby Brown, he will be the one giving you your physical and you also have to interview with him.”
He took her hand and kissed the back of it, “Pleasure to meet you Staci.”
“Likewise. When do you want to do the physical and interview?”
“Physical we can do tomorrow if you are available, I'd personally like to do the interview now.”
“I can do the physical tomorrow, I get off from my job about two-thirty, I can come over after that. Lester, would you be able to go let Daisy out for me tomorrow if I come straight here? She always has to go as soon as I get home.”
He nodded a simple yes. “I'll bring you here and then go over there.”
“What questions do you have for me Bobby?”
His interview was surprisingly short. He asked about her work history and then a few questions on her goals. Finally he asked how she had met Les. She told him how they had met at a drive thru window with a huge smile on her face. Tomorrow during her physical he would ask more questions she guessed, but she felt she had passed his questions so far with flying colors. And if the look on Lester's face was any indicator she was right, flying colors.
After Staci finished her interview with Bobby she thanked him for his time and told him she would see him tomorrow. He in turn told her it was a pleasure to meet her and kissed the back of her hand again before leaving the room.
“Wonder who else I have to interview with?”

“Tank will be here in a minute. He will be the toughest outside of Ranger. You got lucky with Ranger, Steph being with him he went easier on you than he does most people,” Lester said.
Tank walked in the room, she understood why he was called Tank. She was the size of a gnat compared to him. Lester spoke up and introduced them to each other, he was shocked when Tank took Staci's hand and kissed the back of it like Bobby had done. She was hired, he knew it with the way the others had treated her. Beautiful had gotten her way. She may be married to Ranger, but she had all of us wrapped around her little finger, he thought. None of us can tell her no.
Tank talked to Staci for a while asking her questions he knew would show up on a background report, she answered them without hesitation. After another thirty minutes of his interrogation, he finally finished. As soon as he walked out the door, Ranger and Stephanie walked back in.
“Your background check is back already. There wasn't much in it, which is good. How long do you need to give on a notice at your current job?” Stephanie said while smiling from ear to ear.
“I would like to give them the customary two week notice. But Darrin has been known to let people go as soon as they give their notice.”
“Wait until after your physical tomorrow then give him your notice.”
“That sounds fine. I can do that.”
“Sweet Pea are you ready to go home?”
She smiled at him, “Yes, I am.” She turned to Ranger and Stephanie, “Thank you for this opportunity I appreciate it very much.”

Chapter Text

Love at the Drive-thru

Chapter 3

The interview continued

Ranger spoke this time, "If you do well you could learn other things like payroll or background checks for potential employees for us. Maybe you can help Stephanie with research even. She gets backed up sometimes because she still goes out in the field."

Staci nodded her agreement. Stephanie thought to herself, she will fit in nicely, she already knows how to give a single nod for an answer. How long before she gives one word answers and does the single raised eyebrow? Steph rolled her eyes to herself after that thought went through her mind.

Lester and Staci left Rangeman and headed back to her trailer, "What do you think Sweet Pea?"

"I guess good jobs do fall out of the sky."

"You will be happy there. It really is a great place to work and not because the greatest guy in the world works there."

She rolled her eyes at that line. Lester held her hand as he drove towards her neighborhood. He thought about really getting to know her and if she would ever talk about her childhood and rough past.

"Sweet Pea, tell me about some of the things you like and dislike."

"What do you mean? Food, music, clothes or things in general?"

"Everything, I want to know everything."

"If it is food and green, I don't like it. If it is good for you, I don't like it."

She and Beautiful are going to get along great, so far so good, he thought.

Staci went on to tell him things she liked and things she didn't, along with things that were meh. He learned a whole lot about the type person she was and hopefully she felt about him like he was starting to feel about her. After she gave him a list of things that was good and bad she asked the same of him. His likes and dislikes were a whole lot shorter, but then again women think a lot more than most men.

It was late when they arrived back at her trailer, but for once she didn't mind it being late when she went to bed. She knew she had a new job lined up and couldn't wait to start. Staci was excited to be getting a job with normal hours. Hopefully Daisy would like the new hours too, she would love to be able to take Daisy to work with her.

Daisy was laid back and would either lay at her feet or try to lay in her lap. Staci loved being able to snuggle with her. She needed to talk to Stephanie about that since she felt with her personality she was probably an animal lover too. Finally settling down, Staci went to sleep in her bed while Les slept on her couch.

She woke the next morning with a warm body pressed to her. At some point during the night, Daisy gave up her guard post to snuggle with her mom. Staci laid in the bed for a few minutes just spending some time with her beloved little dog getting kisses and walked all over by an overly zealous four legged fur-kid. She finally forced herself to crawl out from under the pup and made her way to the bathroom. When she stepped through the door out into the rest of the trailer the smell of coffee brewing hit her senses, making her eyes pop open even more. Bless Lester's heart she thought. Maybe he was a keeper.

Quickly Staci showered and dressed for work. Les had already dressed and was ready to leave anytime she was. He told her he was working in the office today and as long as Daisy behaved herself she could go with him. Staci gave him a couple of her favorite toys and some Milk Bones along with her water dish since she would get thirsty during the day. Les was learning how to score serious points with her. Showing interest in her dog was the best way to her heart.

She took Daisy on a quick walk before they left the trailer. Les hoped once she got settled in working at Rangeman he could get her to move into an apartment on the fourth floor, away from the trailer and that neighborhood. He doubted however that she would move. Les figured she would want to stay there since it was paid for and set-up to her liking.

When they arrived at her job her boss was waiting on her at the back door, she quickly kissed Lester bye and gave Daisy a kiss and scratch on the head before getting out of the car. Darrin held the door open for her before giving a wave to Lester. Staci put her purse in her locker, washed her hands and began getting the store ready to open.

At his usual time Lester came through the drive-thru, today he got his usual plus a piece of bologna for his side kick. She asked him how Daisy was doing at work.

"She growled at Tank and practically crawled in Steph's lap. She was a big hit with her."

"Good. Wait until you get back to give her the bologna or you will have bologna all over you car. She can be enthusiastic when it comes to eating. Later baby."

"See you at two-thirty."

She was glad to hear that Daisy was doing well at work and was being accepted there. Staci wondered however if Lester could get by with it because he was Ranger's cousin or if pets were accepted in general. Maybe she would talk to Lester instead of Steph about Daisy accompanying her at work.

Her day passed quickly again, soon it was time to close and begin the clean up process. She left at her normal time. Waiting on the parking lot was Daisy and her sidekick Les. They had been on a walk so Daisy could stretch and potty if need be. When did Les become Daisy's sidekick, she chuckled to herself, that was cute. Of course Daisy looked really happy with Les. 'He better not be buttering that dog up for something she thought.

"What is so funny Sweet Pea?"

"I was thinking about Daisy having you for a sidekick and she looked really happy."

"I have that effect on the females," he informed her while waggling his eyebrows.

Staci shook her head and rolled her eyes at his statement followed with a smile that made his day.

"Lets go get your physical."

He opened the door for her but Daisy beat her into the car then automatically moved to the backseat. After he had his girls settled he moved to the drivers side of the car to get in. When had they become my girls, he thought.

When they got to Rangeman, Lester escorted Staci to the infirmary where Bobby was waiting. She told Les she would see him in a bit. They kissed goodbye before he left with Daisy.

Bobby performed his physical on her making notes on her overall health as he went. Upon completion, he told her that she appeared to be in good health overall but he would like for her to walk more either on the treadmill or outside which ever she was most comfortable with.

"Your blood pressure is great, eyes looked good, you have decent muscle tone, I think you will do just fine. Do you have any questions for me?"

"Yes I do. This is the first physical I have had in seven years. Do I need to have a pap smear and that type check up with you or with someone else?"

"As a rule I don't do them, but then again with the exception of Stephanie and now you, there are no females to perform them on. Yes, you need to have one just for your own well being not for a condition of being hired. If you are comfortable enough with me, I can do yours today or at another time it is up to you. For your comfort, if you like, I can have Steph in the room. I will tell you, I do perform Stephanie's exams and administer her birth control shot every three months. If you want, I can administer your shot for you as well, again if you are comfortable enough with me," he knew he was repeating himself somewhat but he wanted desperately to reassure her since he didn't know her that well.

"Bobby, I don't have a primary care physician or a gynecologist."

"Do you have time today, we can go ahead and get that done?"

"Sure how long will it take?"

"Not long, what kind of birth control do you currently take?"

"I don't, I have ... I ... I have never had sex."

Bobby stood there silent for a moment, "You are seeing Lester and you have never had sex.?"

"No I haven't. Is that a problem?"

"No it isn't a problem, just a surprise. I hate to be the one to say this, Lester as a rule doesn't date, he is more of a one night stand kind of guy. He's not put any moves on you?"

"No, he hasn't."

Bobby rubbed his hands down his face, what he heard about Les surprised him. Lester's little black book had volumes, it was more like four little black books. She had no idea the kind of man he had been.

Staci was getting worried with Bobby's actions and quite uncomfortable. He acted like someone had just jerked a rug out from under him. Before she had a chance to question him, he spoke.

"Lets get you set up for your exam and I will call Steph. Here is a sheet just drape it over you after you have removed all of your clothes and gotten back on the table."

Bobby stepped out of the room to give her some privacy and to compose himself while he waited on Steph to join him. Les was a lucky bastard, he probably found the only virgin in the whole city. He thought to himself that hopefully Lester wouldn't pressure her.

When Steph arrived he told her what was going on, "Staci has agreed to allow me to do her pap. To make her feel more comfortable, I asked her if she would like another person in the room. She agreed to have you there."

Steph agreed that was not a problem she would go with him.

He tapped on the door before going back in the room. Staci was on the table waiting on him. Bobby got out everything needed to administer the pelvic exam on Staci. It only took him a few minutes to get the sample needed for testing. Once that portion was completed, Steph left the room, the rest of the exam and conversations needed to be private.

"Do you want a birth control shot today or would you like to think about it?"

"What is your opinion Bobby?"

"How likely are you to cave if Les would pressure you for sex?"

"Not likely, all of the men I have dated in the past gave up when I wouldn't cave. At some point I might consider sex with him, but my plan had been for me to be married first. It is the best gift I could give my husband."

"Darling that is the best philosophy to have. Yes, it would be the greatest thing you could give your future husband. Let me know if you change your mind. The shot is fast acting, it takes effect within about thirty minutes of when it is administered. I deem you healthy and Lester a lucky bastard to have you. If it doesn't work out with him, I'm also available."

She rolled her eyes and shook her head at him. He left the room so she could redress. Again he tapped on the door before coming in the room, she had completed getting dressed. He handed her a piece of paper telling her his report.

"That is your copy, I will escort you to Ranger's office with my copy and you can finish with him."

They went to the fifth floor via the stairs, "This is the control room." She took a moment to look around the room. To her, it looked like a cube farm. "Les will give you a tour later I'm sure."

Upon reaching Ranger's door Bobby knocked, "Enter" came from the other side of the door. Bobby had gotten in the habit of giving a five count after hearing that to open the door, too many times he had been quick to open the door and caught Bomber straightening her shirt or skirt. Today, Staci didn't need to see that. He opened the door, he was glad he had counted, Steph's hair needed a brush. 'How could she be in that condition that fast she just left my office?' he wondered.

"Here are the results of Staci's physical, she is ready to go."

He handed Ranger the report and paused before turning to leave the office. Ranger took a moment to look them over before placing papers in Staci's file.

"Have you given your boss your notice?"

"Not yet, I wanted to make sure I passed the physical first."

Ranger nodded a single time and looked at Steph. She and Bobby left the room, leaving Staci alone with Ranger.

"Give your notice tomorrow, you can either start the day after that or after your notice is up, just let Lester, Steph or myself know what the plan is."

"I will give it and let Les know the end result."

Ranger gave a single nod and a barely there smile. "I understand he has a new partner with him today."

Staci smiled, "Yes he does, her name is Daisy."

"Well any dog that is brave enough to growl at Tank is welcome here. Babe liked her."

"Thank you. I didn't know if Rangeman was pet friendly or not. I'm glad to be able to bring her with me."

"As long as Daisy is good, she is welcome." She nodded in appreciation. "I understand you have a shopping date with my wife. It would seem my primo has invited you to our Christmas party and offered to buy you the clothes needed for it."

Staci smiled, "Yeah, he asked me and offered to buy. It is a generous offer. I'm excited to go."

"I'll admit, my wife had excellent taste in clothes. She will make you look extra special for him, not that you need help. I think the two of you will be good for each other. It has not been easy for him."

After Staci began working there, she would learn Ranger had verbal diarrhea in the conversation he had with her today. Before she rose from her chair she admitted to Ranger, "Les is a very special man. We got off on the wrong foot. I thought Les and Steph were together. Then he told me they were partners. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. Because of it, I almost didn't go out with him and that ... that would have been my loss."

He gave her one of his rare smiles, "See you tomorrow." Even though he would not admit it, her comment made him mad. Ranger didn't want anyone to think Steph belonged to another man. He wasn't mad at Staci, but the situation.

She gave him a single nod and left the room in search of Lester they had some celebrating to do. It looked like things had turned around for her. She found her man in the break room.

Chapter Text

Love at the Drive-thru
Chapter 4
Stephanie came by the break room before the couple left the office. She offered to go shopping with Staci to get to know her better. They took off to Quaker Bridge Mall to look for the dress. Les had given Stephanie his credit card along with instructions to buy whatever Staci liked, he didn't care if she liked ten dresses, get them all if she couldn't decide.
He wanted her to be happy and have more clothes than what he had seen in her closet. They could be for Christmas if nothing else. He smiled as he watched the two women leave. Looks like Staci has a new friend he thought.
Staci found two dresses she liked and Steph agreed that either would be good for the party later on. Not to mention, they made Staci look very sexy. Steph talked Staci into getting both dresses. They took the dresses to the shoe department to try to match them to the most ideal footwear.
Staci didn't want super high heels since she wasn't used to wearing them. Stephanie found a pair of three inch high FMP's that Staci felt comfortable in. Luckily for Staci the shoes were available in colors that matched both dresses. Handbags were a breeze when they went to match them with the shoes Staci had chosen. They were nice clutches that gave her enough room for essentials but weren't bulky.
Steph suggested a stop at Victoria Secret. She picked out some matching bra and thong sets. Staci looked bewildered at her, “Those look really uncomfortable.”
Stephanie laughed, “They are but there is no panty lines, your other option is commando.”
“I'd rather do that than wear a thong.”
“Lester would have less to take off of you that way.”
Staci cocked her head and looked at Steph, “We're not having sex. Why does everybody think that we are?”
Steph took her hand, “Because Les is a huge player, like player with a capital 'P'. It is surprising that is all.”
“Between me and you, I have never had sex and wasn't planning on it until I got married.”
“That is wonderful, but I am surprised Les is going along with it.”
“Honestly, he has never pressured me. I was hoping he respected my decision.”
They finished picking out the undergarments they wanted, paid then went to the food court.
“What sounds good? My treat,” Steph offered as her stomach made it's presence known.
Staci decided she was in the mood for a burger. They placed their order and waited at the counter. Once the food was ready the ladies found a table near the escalator to sit, it closed off one side from somebody approaching them. The walls surrounding the escalator held down on some of the background noise so they could chat while they ate.
“Thank you for lunch. I'm glad Lester helped me get this job. I've gotten so tired of the stress of working seven days per week.”
“Think of lunch as a welcome to Rangeman lunch. Why were you working so much?”
“Minimum wage, it was the only way to make it. Now a normal schedule, I won't know how to act and neither will Daisy.”
“I'm glad we were able to help you. Have you been to college?”
Staci shook her head no, Stephanie knew she hadn't from the background check, but she wanted to hear about Staci's past from the woman herself and not some background check for work and her being nosy. They paused conversation while they finished eating. Once done, Stephanie asked Staci more questions trying to get to know her and see how she could be a bigger asset to Rangeman or how Rangeman could help her. She started formulating a plan in her mind of what other tasks Staci could learn and perform based on her current education level.
“After your probationary period is up, we will talk to Ranger and the others on the core team about maybe getting you some college courses, maybe in computer sciences or office management classes, both would probably be best.”
The women liked each other and could see themselves being good friends, they needed to be. Ranger had mentioned about Staci helping Steph with searches, it would be hard to do if they didn't get along.
“Tell me about Lester, you said he was a player with a capital 'P'.”
“Staci, it wasn't my place to say that, nor would it be right for you to find out the hard way. Lester is a good man with a wonderful heart. He was burnt by a woman years ago and isn't willing to give his heart to another. Over the years he has become a love 'em and leave 'em type man. The fact he isn't pressuring you for sex, is a huge statement and step for him. I would venture to say, he sees something in you.”
Staci smiled, “I hope so, I see a lot in him. He so far has been the sweetest man I have met in a long time.”
Stephanie had learned one night on a stakeout that Lester had been married a few years ago. On one of his deployments his wife cheated, he found out when he came home and she was pregnant. He was smart enough to do the math and knew the child wasn't his. The courts gave him a divorce with no problems when the evidence was presented. Lester's relationship with women changed after that and he had been a player ever since. Steph hoped his outlook was about to change.
The women gathered their purchases, after they had everything in their hands Stephanie's phone gave the Batman ring tone. She shuffled everything around and answered her phone.
“That is my line, yo yourself. Where are you?”
“At the food court.”
“Stay there, we will be there in a minute.”
Ranger hung up as usual. She told Staci that they were to stay there. A couple minutes later, Ranger and Lester walked up to them.
“What brings you two here? It is nearly impossible to get him to the mall,” Steph said as she pointed to Ranger while looking at Staci.
Ranger replied, “We just wanted to see how the shopping was going.”
With that statement Steph attempted to raise an eyebrow at him, then she noticed Staci had one raised eyebrow at him. Great, she can single nod, give one word answers AND do the eyebrow thing Steph thought. The men took the purchases from them to carry back to the cars for them.
Lester asked Staci what all she had gotten. She told him about the dresses, shoes, and the trip to Victoria Secret. “Will you model the under clothes for me Sweet Pea?”
“Not tonight but someday maybe.”
Lester accepted her answer, sadly but accepted it none of the less. He really understood. If and when the day came he would appreciate it even more, she would be all the more special to him.
The men had arrived in Lester's car. Before each couple got in their cars, Staci told all of them thank you and she would let them know what Darrin had to say at work tomorrow. On the way home, Staci and Lester stopped to get Daisy some kibble since she was getting low, Les also got a pet gate to go in the doorway of his office. He could let Daisy cruise in his office while he worked and wouldn't have to watch her as closely.
Lester didn't let Staci know that he had Ranger with him when he took Daisy home for fear it would embarrass her, but both men agreed that she needed to be encouraged to get out of that area of town. With her new position she would be able to afford a much nicer place not that they could force her to get a new one.
Ranger agreed with Lester for him to move to work the same hours as Staci, it would allow her to hold off on getting another car for a while if they could ride together. In the mean time, if she had some kind of appointment she could use a company car or take Lester's. They knew transportation would not be an issue for long since she was coming on board.
They arrived home to a waiting Daisy. She gave them a mighty tail wag and major whining. “Did mommy and daddy leave you alone too long?”
Staci slapped her hand over her mouth when she realized what she had said. It had just slipped out. Hopefully Lester didn't hear that, she thought.
“No your parents didn't leave you alone very long at all, besides you were in your comfy house with all your toys, everything was perfect wasn't it Daisy,” Lester said while scratching her ears.
Yep he heard. Now she needed to decide what to do, play it off as if it doesn't matter or accept that yes it mattered.
She opted to apologize, “I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that, she just seemed really excited to see you too.”
“Please don't apologize, I wasn't sure how you felt either. Now we know where we stand with each other at least as far as Daisy is concerned for the moment. Let me say this, I really like you and I know I am practically living here, but I seriously want to date you, get to know you and see where it goes. Staci you are a good woman and you don't hide yourself from me considering your childhood and yes it showed on your background report. It is not important to me, that says a lot about your character and the person I am attracted to.”
A single tear ran down her face. Lester wiped the tear away with his thumb. “I only want to see happy tears from you. It is my goal to make you happy.”
“Then you should have let that tear go, it was a happy tear,” she said through more tears. “I want to get to know you too Lester, so far you have been amazing. You have treated me better than most people ever have and you don't really know me yet. It leaves me stunned, that you would want to know me. Most people never try, I'm just the woman at the drive thru window, who they throw their money at and receive food from.”
He pulled her into his arms to hold her. Remembering his conversation with Ranger, he told Staci about his hours being changed after she starts at Rangeman to allow them to ride together for work. “It will allow you to save for a nicer car that you will have paid for without my help.”
That statement made Staci chuckle, she really wanted to remain independent. She would accept the rides to and from work, but she would be grateful to have her own wheels.
While time wise it was still early, it was getting late for Staci who had to get up at three in the morning to go to work. She took Daisy on a quick walk with Lester. Upon their return, Lester asked her if she would like to live at Rangeman possibly in the future. Staci wasn't sure and told him she would have to think on it, but a lot would depend on how her job went and how things developed between her and Lester.
She went to the bathroom to prepare for bed, afterwards she came back to the living room to Lester and kissed him good night. There was something more to him than the player everybody talked about she could see it. She was falling hard for this man.
The next morning Lester took her to the restaurant for work, he kissed her and told her good luck with Darrin. She exited the car after kissing him and his side kick bye. Daisy whined when she got out of the car, but Lester calmed her by talking to her and scratching her ears.
“Daisy, you have a very special mommy, do you realize that? Hopefully someday you might have a full time daddy to be around. I think I am falling hard for your mom, I just hope she is feeling the same way.”
Daisy's reply was simple, she licked his face.
Staci told Darrin about the job opportunity. He was glad she had the chance for a job that would pay much better than working at the restaurant and give her benefits. He asked her when she would be starting the new job.
“I'm leaving that up to you. I know in the past you have let people go ahead and leave. With this job I have a couple options, I told the staff there I wanted to give you my two week notice so you could find someone else and not leave you in a lurch or I could make Saturday my last day and start there on Monday. It is entirely up to you.”
“Do you need a couple days to yourself to just relax and have a break? You have been working here seven days a week. We could make today your last day. You would have Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off before starting your new job.” He paused before adding, “Frankly, you could use a break, I wasn't sure how to say it to you because I know your money is tight.”
“I won't be leaving you in a lurch?” Darrin shook his head no. “And you really don't mind?” Again no.
“I think that is settled, Staci I will miss you, but I only want the best for you. You deserve a good job and it looks like you also have a good man at your side.”
“Yeah Darrin, I have found a good man, I just don't know yet where it is going to go. Thank you for being so understanding.”
“If the job doesn't work out you are welcome to come back, but hopefully I never see you again on this side of the counter. I'd rather you come back to eat and visit, not to work.”
Lester and Daisy rolled up to the drive-thru at his normal time and got his usual with a side of bologna. When he pulled up to the window, Staci told him that today was her last day and they could talk more after she got off from work. The rest of the day was a blur, they closed down and did clean up quickly, luckily Wednesdays were typically slow in the afternoon.
Darrin gathered the other employees around, “I have an announcement to make, today we are saying goodbye to one of our friends. Staci has accepted a position at Rangeman and will be starting on Monday. Lets all wish her good luck.”
Staci received cheers, congratulations and good luck wishes. She looked around to see Lester standing by the door with a beautiful smile on his face. He walked to her and wrapped his arms around her. She got plenty of cat calls, several 'go girl's and one 'where can I get one of those' out of the others on staff. She hugged Darrin bye and thanked him again for being understanding.
Once in the car, she was greeted by the canine welcoming committee of Daisy. Lester gave her a kiss too. “So what is the plan Sweet Pea?”
“I start Rangeman on Monday. I have the rest of the week off. Darrin said I looked like I needed a break, so I'm taking one.”
“Let me call Ranger and let him know. Would you like to come to the office tomorrow, Ella can get your uniforms ordered?”
“You will be outfitted like Steph. Except you don't need the utility belt. I guess really you'll be dressed like me as well.”
“What is your schedule tomorrow?”
“Just work, are you wanting to do something?”
“No, yes but it is too much to ask so never mind.”
“What is it Sweet Pea?”
“I'd like to go to dinner and then see Christmas lights.”
A huge smile broke out across Lester's face, “I believe that can be arranged. Where would you like to go to dinner?”
“Some place simple and not too expensive.”
“I'll make arrangements. Lets go home.”
Lester drove home in silence, he was working on a plan in his mind for a wonderful evening with Staci. When they arrived at the trailer, Staci started dinner consisting of lasagna, salad and garlic bread. Lester liked her cooking, dinner was excellent. After dinner was over, she washed the dishes while Les took Daisy on a walk. Just as she was finishing up Les and Daisy came back.
Les was acting agitated and concerned when he came back. “Would you like to stay at my apartment tonight?”
“I hadn't planned on it, what is up?”
“Sweet Pea ... I am concerned ... concerned about this park. I witnessed a drug deal next door while I was walking Daisy. I'm worried about your safety.”
Staci didn't know what to say she was shocked, the neighbors were new and she didn't even know their names, but she could see the concern in his eyes and hear it in his voice. “Let me pack a bag and get stuff together for Daisy.”
A few minutes later, they were out the door and on their way to safety at Rangeman.