Head over Heels

By Pretty Pretty

Rayni woke early Sunday morning. She was disoriented and sore. She looked around her room and tried to remember how she got there. Pulling the blanket back, she realized she was still in her clothes. She slowly swung her legs to the edge of the bed and started remembering the events of the night before. Her head was pounding and her muscles ached. She knew from the pain in her arms that she had bruises from where John had grabbed her. Rayni rubbed her hands over her face and staggered into the kitchen. Pulling open the refrigerator, she grabbed a bottle of water and took a large drink. Turning, to go back to bed, she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. She walked softly into the living room and looked at Ray's sleeping form sprawled out on her couch.

She sat her drink down on the table and knelt down in the floor next to him.

"Ray." Rayni reached out and rubbed his cheek. "Ray, baby, wake up."

"Hmmm." Ray rolled over onto his side and lazily brushed her hand away from his face.

"Ray, wake up." She shook him lightly and smiled at the irritated face he was making.

"What?" Ray squinted from the morning sun's assault on his face. "What's the matter? You okay?"

"What are you doing here?"

"You asked me to stay." Ray blinked the sleep from his eyes and focused on her face.

"You slept here all night?"

"Sure. You asked me, so I did." Rayni looked at him and smiled. That was the moment she fell head over heels for Stanley Raymond Kowalski.

 

Chap2

Rayni tugged gently on his arm.

"Come on, get up. You can sleep in my bed a few more hours." Ray rolled off the edge of the couch and onto his knees on the floor.

"Your bed?" Rayni smiled and pulled him to his feet.

"Iím going to take a shower. Come on." Rayni guided him to her bedroom and pushed him backwards onto the bed. She grabbed the quilt and covered him up. Within minutes he was on his side and sleeping soundly. She pulled a pair of faded jeans and a sweatshirt from the closet and carried them down the hall to the bathroom. Pulling off the black slacks she had worn the night before, she noticed the bruises on her knees and shins from John pushing her up the stairs. Looking in the mirror she noticed the stains and rips in her silk blouse. She unbuttoned it and tossed it on the floor. The bruises were evident on her wrists and forearms. She stepped into the shower and sighed as the warm water washed over her back. The soap felt good across her skin. The smell of her shampoo made her relax as she tried to forget about the horrible ordeal she had gone through the night before. She smiled at how Ray had held her and stroked her hair as they sat on the couch. She must have fallen asleep. She still couldnít remember how she got to the bed, though.

She pulled the faded jeans over her hips and buttoned the fly. Her arms ached as she pulled the sweatshirt over her damp hair. In her bare feet, she padded down the hall and into her bedroom to check on Ray. Walking over to the edge of her bed, she stared at the man that had been so kind to her. Ray felt her eyes on him. He heard the shower cut off and knew she would come back in the room. He rolled onto his back and smiled up at her.

"Hey."

"Hey." Ray reached out his hand and pulled her into a sitting position on the bed. He propped himself up on his elbow and draped his arm across her lap.

"Howíre ya feeliní?"

"Iím okay."

"Tell the truth, Rayni."

Rayni leaned forward and scrunched her nose at him.

"Iím just a little sore. Iíll live."

"You better." Ray lifted his head and planted a light kiss on her nose.

"Let me ask you something?"

"Shoot."

"Howíd I get in here this morning?"

"You fell asleep around two last night, so I carried ya in here. You made me promise to stay, so I did."

"Iím sorry I made you stay."

"I wouldnít have left anyway."

"Thanks Ray." He tucked his head as she reached out and ran her hand along his cheek. He pushed himself up and stood beside the bed.

"I better get out of here though. You probably donít want me hanginí around and messiní up all your plans for today."

"Itís Sunday so the only plans I have are church with Mike and the family then Sunday dinner after."

"I better go."

"Go with me." Ray felt her slip her fingers into his palm.
"You want me to go to church with ya?"

"Youíre not a heathen or anything are you? Besides, after last night, I think I need to do some heavy rejoicing for my blessings." Ray smiled at her expression.

"No, Iím no heathen. But I havenít been to church in a long time."

"They donít check IDís. Iím sure theyíll let you in."

"Okay, you talked me into it. But Iíve got one condition."

"Shoot."

"You still owe me a real date."

"Anywhere, anytime. Iím yours." Once she said it, Rayni realized how much she really meant those words.

"Careful, you could get a guy's hopes up."

"Let me change and Iíll go with you to your place okay." Ray noticed the pleading look on her face. He could tell that after yesterday she didnít want to take any chances.

"Sure. Iíll wait in the living room."

"Okay, weíve got about two hours, so that gives us plenty of time."

 

 

 

 

Chap 3

Ray pulled his suit from the closet and laid it out on the bed. He walked around his bedroom in just a towel as he dug around for his socks and a tie he thought Rayni would like. Just as he dropped the towel to the floor he heard a knock at the door. Panic sparked inside him as he froze in mid motion.

"Ray, do you need me to iron a shirt or anything for you?" Ray exhaled in relief that she didnít open the door.

"No thanks, I just got some back from the cleaners. Iím not as sorry as you think." Ray chuckled at his own joke. When he didnít hear a response he grew concerned. He quickly put the towel back around his waist and flung open the door. He was met by the sorrow filled face of Rayni.

"I didnít mean to insinuateÖ.Iím so sorry. IÖ." He could tell she was on the verge of tears.

"Hey, whatís this all about? I was just fooliní."

"I thought I insulted you."

"Babe, it takes a lot more than speakiní the truth to insult me. ĎSides, I kinda like ya lookiní out for me like that." Ray offered her his best boyish grin in an effort to make her feel better. He was rewarded with a warm smile. Her eyes trailed down his face to his bare chest and then to the loosely worn towel.

"Nice." Ray blushed crimson as Rayni whistled and returned to the living room.

Rayni pushed the hair behind her ears as she waited for Ray to open her car door. She smiled at how handsome he looked in his charcoal colored suit. He opened the door and offered her his hand. Ray smiled when she didnít let go after she exited the car. Holding tightly to his hand, they walked up the front steps of the church. Rayni paid extra attention to her make up this morning in an effort to cover her black eye. It had been three days and it was faded some. But not nearly enough. She hoped no one would notice. Rayni led Ray to the middle of the church to where her brother Mike and his family were sitting.

"Scooch over kiddo."

Josh smiled up at his aunt as she nudged him over in the pew. Mike nodded his hello to Ray while Karen smiled and waved. Karen raised her eyebrows and grinned over at Mike. Rayni momentarily released Rayís hand to mark the songs for the service in the hymnal. Ray sat bone straight in the pew as the organ music wafted through the large church. Rayni leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"Relax. Lightningís not going to strike you down."

"You sure about that?" Rayni smiled as Ray shifted in the pew. She scooted closer to him and rested her hand in the crook of his arm. Josh wiggled in the pew and pulled at his tie. Rayni put her arm around his shoulders and gave him a squeeze.

"Cool it sport."

Ray felt a gladness settle over him. He looked at Rayni and how she hugged her nephew close. A vision flashed in Rayís mind that made his mouth go dry. He and Rayni were sitting in church with their own child in the pew next to them. He coughed nervously and wiped the sweat from his forehead.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, um, itís just hot in here." Rayni rubbed her hand down the inside bend of his elbow. The music started and the minister took the pulpit. The congregation stood and began the worship with a song. Ray and Rayni shared a hymnal as Ray mouthed the words. Rayni smiled, she knew he wasnít singing. She didnít blame him; she couldnít sing a lick. She sang just loud enough to make a joyful noise.

Ray tried to follow the service and not let his mind wander. But his thoughts kept turning to Rayni. How stunned and angry she looked the day he met her on the street after John Kale had struck her. How comfortable she was when he took her back to her apartment. The laughter in her voice when they watched ĎGuys and Dollsí. The feel of her lips against his and the smell of her hair the first time he kissed her. The fear in her face when Ray burst into Johnís apartment after he had taken her, and the restless sleep when Ray held her that evening. He knew he was falling for her. He had known from the moment he'd offered her a ride home from the station.

~~~~~~~

Chap 4

The congregation stood for the final hymn and prayer. After the song, Ray slipped the hymnal back into the pew holder and then found his way to Rayniís hand again. Mike was trying to keep Josh from running down the aisle of the church while Karen smiled in Rayniís direction.

"Ray, itís a pleasure to have you here today. Are you going to join us for dinner?" Rayni nodded.

"Karen made a roast."

"Sounds great, thank you." Karen smiled and then gave Rayni a goofy grin. Rayni took Ray by the hand and led him down the front steps.

"Come on, I don't want to stick around to long. Too many people will notice this shiner and I really don't feel like going into it."

"Not a problem, babe. I'm probably a blink away from a clap of thunder over head anyway."

Ray opened her door and held her hand as she sat in the passenger seat of the GTO.

~~~~~

 

Fraser stood outside and waited for Ray to pick him up for work. He stepped closer to the curb when he saw the familiar black car turn the corner.

"Morning Ray."

"Mornin' Benton Buddy."

"You seem in a good mood this morning." Ray took a moment to scratch Dief's head as he settled in the back seat.

"Do I?"

"You're new disposition wouldn't have anything to do with Miss Mason would it?"

"Rayni? Maybe." Ray pulled into traffic with a large grin on his face. Before Fraser could ask anymore questions, Ray turned up the radio and started singing along.

"Her name was Lola. She was a showgirlÖ"

"Uh Ray?"

"Ö.with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to thereÖ."

"Ray?"

"She would meringue and do the cha-chaÖ."

"Ray?"

"Yeah?"

"You do realize you're singing Barry Manilow?"

"Huh? Yeah, sure." Ray smiled and shook his shoulders back in forth as he sang louder to the music.

"At the Copa. Copa Cabana. The hottest spot north of HavanaÖ"

"Oh dear."

~~~~~

Chap 5

Ray left work a little early so he could pick Rayni up at work. Tonight they would go out on their Ďrealí date. Fraser had given him a hard time. But he didnít care. He had stars in his eyes and he loved every minute of it. Ray climbed the steps to the County building and asked the information desk for directions for the Engineering Department.

"Which division?"

"Huh?" The elderly lady smiled at him and calmly explained the different divisions of Engineering. Ray stared at her blankly.

"What does she do dear?"
"She makes maps."

"That would be the GIS division. Take this hall and up one floor. Youíll see a door marked GIS and Cartography."

"GIS?"

"Geographical Information System." Ray blinked slowly.

"Thanks." He trotted off down the hall and entered the elevator.

He opened the door to the GIS department and was met by a stout looking man with an apparent bad disposition.

"Iím here ta pick up Rayni Mason."

"You the cop?"

"Yeah."

"She hadnít shut up about you all day. Youíd think you came gold-plated." Ray didnít know what to say. Heíd never been talked about like that.

"Can I see her?"

"Sheís in the back. Fourth office on the left."

"Thanks."

Ray walked down the hall toward her office. Before he reached her door, she heard her talking on the phone.

"No, you canít do that. The maps are based on State Plane Coordinates for a reason. You have to calibrate your tablet to the GPS coordinates. Well, if you donít know what Iím talking about, how did you draw the plat?"

Ray stood in the doorway and watched her shuffle large rolls of paper from one corner of her desk to the other. "Who drafted the plat? I need to speak to them. In order for me to place the roads on the map, I have to know where in the hell they are. I need two existing points of reference." Rayni sighed in frustration and tossed a small beanbag toy up against her computer screen. "Youíre not hearing me. If I canít place the subdivision, it doesnít do me any good to have the plat. Have your boss call me when he gets in tomorrow morning." Rayni looked up and saw Ray smiling at her. The frustrated look on her face disappeared and was replaced with a broad smile. Still holding the phone to her ear, she stood up from behind her desk and motioned for Ray to come in. "Listen, Ed, I have to go. A hot looking man wants to take me away from all this." She hung up the phone and stepped around a pile of maps in the floor beside her desk. She hugged him and planted a kiss on his cheek.

"Hey, sweetness. You were giviní that guy hell."

"Heís a moron. He didnít understand I thing I was saying."

"Neither did I."

"Yeah, but youíre not supposed to, he is."

"You ready to go to dinner?"

"Iíve been looking forward to this all day."

"Iíve heard." Rayni cocked her head in confusion. "The guy out front seemed to know who I was when I walked in."

"Well, itís a small office and after I explained the black eye and how this great guy came to my rescue, I had to give the girls all the details." Ray blushed and tucked his head. He had never had a girl been so open about dating him.

"Come on, letís eat. The movie starts at eight. I already bought the tickets for that movie you wanted to see."

"Great. I heard it was really good."

"Yeah, me too." Rayni shut down her computer and closed her office door. Taking him by the hand, they left the building and walked to the parking garage.

 

Chap 6

 

"I canít believe you liked that movie." Ray chuckled as he held the door for Rayni.

"I canít believe you didnít." Ray closed her door and walked around the car to the driverís side.

"I canít believe you cried."

"It was sad." Ray chuckled and started the engine. Stella would have told him how stupid he was for not liking the movie. Rayni didnít seem to mind. She just accepted it and made no excuses.

"Youíre such a girl."

"You wouldnít have me any other way."

"True."

Ray pulled into traffic and made the short drive to her apartment. He was thankful he didnít have an early shift in the morning. He walked her to her door and waited to be invited in. Rayni opened the door and pulled him by the hand inside.

"I had a really nice time tonight." Rayni tossed her purse on the floor while she led Ray to the couch. He flopped down on the couch and pulled her down beside him.

"Youíre a pretty nice date, Rayni Mason."

"Thanks. Youíre not so bad yourself." Ray leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. He pulled back and smiled at her. Rayni slid her hand up his shirt and pulled him close.

"Mmm, that was nice." Ray slipped his hand to the back of her neck and captured her mouth. His other hand found its way to the small of her back. He pulled her to him and positioned her body above his as he reclined on the couch. As her weight pressed against him, he felt a surge of heat pass through his body and settled in his groin. Rayni could feel his excitement pressing into her hip. He trailed his fingers down her back and rested one hand on the small of her back. A moan escaped her lips and Ray nearly lost
control. Breathlessly she pulled back and looked into his eyes.
"Maybe I better go." Rayni nodded, knowing if he stayed things would go too
far, too soon.
"Yeah." He smiled as she lifted herself off of him and into a seated
position. She rubbed her hand down his arms as he set next to her. He took a
deep breath and tried to calm himself before standing to leave.
"I, uh....I'll call ya tomorrow. Okay?"
"Can you come over tomorrow night? I'll cook."
Ray leaned in and kissed her softly. Holding her head, he leaned his
forehead against hers.
"I'm here." Ray stood and pulled her by the hand from the couch. She
followed him to the door and when he turned to kiss her goodbye, Rayni
deepened the kiss to give him something to look forward to. Ray's knees
buckled slightly as he wrapped his arms around her and crushed her body into
his. He pinned her back against the opened door and probed her mouth with
his tongue. Jerking back he smiled.
"No fair, you're killin' me here."
"Sorry. It's just that you're irresistible. "
"Right."
"I guess you think I'm nuts. But, I'm really starting to fall for you." Ray
tucked his head and looked at her.
"I know the feeling." He quickly kissed her on the lips and rushed down the
stairs.
"Bye Ray!"
"Bye Babe, see you tomorrow."

~~~~~~~~~

Chap 7


"What's up with him?"
Francesca tossed a file on her desk and then pointed in the direction of Ray
Kowalski.
"I beg your pardon?"
"With Ray. He's acting weird."
"How so?"
"I just took him the file he wanted and he said 'thank you' and then said
'please' when he asked for the sheet on that perp you brought in. It's
strange. What's going on?"
"If I had to guess, I would say Rayni Mason."
"Who?" Fraser pulled at his collar and tried to ignore how close Francesca
was standing to him.
"Miss Mason is the young lady we brought in on Friday."
"Oh yeah, the assault victim. What's she got to do with Ray?"
"Well, I don't like to discuss other's personal affairs...."
"Oh sure you do, Fraser. Just pour it."
"Don't you mean spill it?"
"Whatever. Tell!"
"Well it seems that Ray and Miss Mason have kept company most of the
weekend. It would appear he is quite smitten with her."
"Huh?"
"If I were so bold to make the assumption, I would venture to say he's in
love."
"So soon? He just met her."
"Love doesn't always do as we expect, Francesca."
Franny took another step closer to him and looked up into his nervous blue
eyes.
"Really Fraser? What about you? What do you expect out of love?" Fraser's posture
stiffened and he took two unsteady steps backwards.
"I....well....Oh dear....Coming Ray!" Fraser made a hasty retreat in the
direction of Ray's desk. Francesca's shoulder's slumped at the blur of red
fleeing her desk.
"Damn. You can run, Benton Fraser. But you can't hide."
~~~~~~~


Ray caught himself humming while he did his paperwork. He never hummed.
Fraser cast a knowing smile in his direction. Ray tried to ignore it but he
knew Fraser was on to him. He was happy. The happiest he had ever been. He
thumbed through some papers and looked up to see Fraser smiling at him.
"Stop."
"Stop what Ray?"
"That. Stop that." Ray pointed to Fraser's face and made an exaggerated smile.
"Forgive me, but it's hard not to smile when someone around you is smiling."
"Who's smilin'?"
"You are."
"No I'm not."
"Ray, I can see all of your teeth. It's refreshing to see actually. Miss
Mason has had a remarkable effect on you."
"What?"
"You're in love." Ray shook his head to the side and cracked his neck. Then
ran his hand through his hair and performed every other nervous tick he had
in his repertoire.
"Why would ya say that?" Ray looked intently at the smiling Mountie sitting
beside his desk.
"Look at you. You are in an exceptional mood. Must I remind you of that
disturbing Barry Manilow incident in the car yesterday? You've attempted to
comb your hair and you've been humming and smiling all afternoon."
"And that makes me in love?"
"It most clinical studies, yes." Ray couldn't speak. He just stared at him.
Fraser took that moment to straighten the forms on the edge of his desk.
After a few moments, Ray barked, "So what if I am?"
"I think it's great, Ray. You deserve someone to love. I hope she feels the
same."
"Yeah, me too."
"Is there a chance she may not?"
"Well, think about it Frase, why would she want to get hooked up with a guy
like me?"
"Why wouldn't she? Her last boyfriend left a lot to be desired. I imagine
you are a pleasant change from the less than agreeable suitors."
"Huh? English."
"You're a great guy."
"On what planet?"
"Ray."
"She asked me to dinner tonight."
"That's great Ray."
"Yeah. I really like her Fraser." Fraser could see the vulnerability in his
eyes. He prayed his feelings would be reciprocated.


~~~~~~

Chapter 8


Rayni pulled a set of subdivision files from her briefcase and started
calibrating her mapping system. She pulled up a large file on her computer
and started digitizing the subdivision when Cara stepped into the door of
her office.
"Well?"
"Well what?"
"How did the 'real date' go with Mr. Wonderful?"
"Fine." Rayni tried not to smile as she mapped the subdivision into the
computer.
"Fine? Just fine? Then what's the point?" Cara sighed and pulled a chair
from the side of Rayni's office to the edge of her computer desk.
"Well, it was more than fine."
"And?"
"Okay, he's wonderful. But, I'm trying to take things really slow. I mean,
he's just so...so...oh God, he makes my toes tingle."
"Tingling toes is a good sign. John just made your feet stink."
"Not funny."
"I'm kidding. So when are you going to see him again?"
"I'm cooking for him tonight."
"Well, if he lives, you two will be really cute together."
"I just hope he feels the same way about me."
"Why wouldn't he? You're a nice girl. You're pretty. No serious character
flaws."
"Gee, maybe you should warn the poor guy."
"I can tell you really like him."
"I do. It scares me how fast I've fallen for this guy. We've spent every day
together since Friday. And to be honest, I like it that way." Cara rolled
her eyes and laughed.
"Oh you have got it so bad."
"I know."
"I'm happy for you."
"Thanks." Rayni waved as her friend and coworker left her office. Her
thoughts quickly turned to Ray and how he looked last night when he kissed
her goodnight. Her stomach flipped just thinking about him. * Oh God, I've got it bad. Please Lord, don't let this one rip my heart out. Please let him be the one. *

~~~~~

Ray dropped Fraser off and ignored the goofy grin he was given as he pulled away from the curb. He drove to his apartment and leapt up the stairs two at a time. He quickly fed his turtle and jumped in the shower. He caught himself humming again. He nearly slammed his head in the wall when he realized the tune. *Celine Dion is the devil, Kowalski. Remember that!* He rinsed the soap from his body and wrapped a towel around his waist. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and frowned.

"What the hell is a girl like that gonna see in a guy like you?" Opening the medicine cabinet he grabbed his deodorant. A bottle of cologne his mom had bought him for Christmas caught his eye. After applying his deodorant he pulled the bottle of cologne from the shelf.

"I wonder if it'll make me smell fruity?"

Ray pulled the metallic cap from the bottle and stuck it to his nose.

"Not bad. Huh, why not?" Ray splashed a little cologne in his hand and smacked it on his neck and chest.

"Let's hope it don't make her puke."

Ray dropped his towel over the doorknob and walked over to his closet. Black jeans and a dark gray sweater. *That's okay lookin'. * He dressed and looked himself over in the mirror. He ran his hand through his hair and watched as errant strands bent in every direction. Grabbing his coat, he headed over to Rayni's.

~~~

Rayni flailed the hair dryer around her head in an effort to dry her hair. She looked at the disorderly mess on her head and swore.

"Damn." Yanking the brush from the drawer, she violently combed it through her hair. She pulled a clip from under the sink and twisted her hair around her fingers. Clipping a large clump of twisted hair to the back of her head, she smiled.

"Not bad." She ran her fingers over her eye and applied a little concealer. The black eye was fading nicely. Her make up looked as best as she could get it and dinner was warming in the oven. She hoped Ray liked Lasagna. It was one of her best dishes. One of her only dishes, actually. She trotted down the hall and into her bedroom. The stereo was blasting Guns and Roses as she dressed. She looked in the mirror and smiled. She was wearing loose fitting jeans and a white long sleeve t-shirt that fit in all the right places. She sprayed some perfume on her neck and picked up the pile of discarded clothes from the end of the bed. Tossing them in the closet floor, she shut the door and looked around the room.

"Good enough." Rayni padded into the kitchen and checked on the lasagna in the oven. She wondered if she would even be able to eat. Her stomach was in knots. She had dated lots of guys in her 29 years, but none had her nerves so frayed as Ray Kowalski.

~~~~~

Chapter 9

Rayni opened the door and smiled at the adoring face looking back at her.

"Hi beautiful."

"You really know how to sweet talk a girl."

"Just speakin' the truth." Ray walked in and gave her a kiss. He took his jacket off and hung it on the back of the door. Rayni took a deep breath in an effort to calm the beating of her heart. Ray hooked his index finger in hers and guided her to the couch.

"Did you have a rough day?" Rayni sat down beside him and tucked her feet underneath her.

"Nah, not really. Fraser kept givin' me grief. But other than that, it was okay. What about you?"

"Same old boring map work. What was Fraser giving you grief about?" Rayni saw the blush creep over Ray's features.
"You."

"Me? I'm not good enough for you?" Rayni laughed and hugged her arms around his chest.

"You? You kiddin'? People are probably wonderin' what yer doin' with a guy like me."

"Then what was he saying?"

"It was nothin'."

"Tell me."

"He was makin' fun of me 'cause I been smilin' and hummin' all day."

"What's wrong with that?"

"It's not a habit of mine."

"I see."

"So you got blamed for the sudden change."

"I'll take full responsibility."

"Good. Something really smells great."

"I hope you like lasagna."

"Sure, sounds good. Do I need to help ya do anything?" Rayni smiled brightly at him. None of her other boyfriends had ever offered to help her in the kitchen. If they had their way, she would have cooked, served and chewed the food for them.

"What's with the big smile?" Ray ran his finger down her nose.

"You're just wonderful."

"Nah, you donít know me well enough yet. It'll wear off."

"I hope not. You ready to eat? It's ready."

"Sure." Ray stood and followed Rayni to the kitchen. The small table was set with a nice pale blue linen tablecloth and a small candle was placed in the center. Rayni pulled the salad from the refrigerator and placed it on the edge of the counter. She pulled the oven mitt from the drawer and was about to open the oven when Ray placed his hand on her waist.

"I'll get it." She handed him the mitt and grinned as he pulled the bubbling pan from the oven. Rayni filled their glasses with ice and poured them each a drink.

"Coke okay? Or beer for you?"

"Coke. This really smells good. I missed lunch today. So I'm starved."

"I hope it tastes okay."

"If you made it I'm sure it's great." Rayni served their plates and they sat down to a nice meal. The conversation was light and comfortable. Ray played with her fingers across the table as they ate. Ray couldn't help but feel at home with her. He saw himself coming home to her every night. Placing a bite of lasagna in his mouth he winked at her. *You can't let this one get away. She's too important. Don't screw this one up. *

~~~~~~

Chapter 10

"Uhg, I'm stuffed. That was really good babe." Ray stretched his legs in front of him as he leaned back on the couch. Rayni scooched in beside him and snuggled into his side.

"I can see eating two helpings to make me feel good, but four was over doing it."

"I told you I was hungry. Besides, you're a good cook."

"Well, I'm a good cook at a few things. Stick around long enough and you'll know the take out delivery guys on a personal basis."

"I think I put a few of them through their first year of college." They both laughed comfortably. Rayni click the television remote. She handed the remote to Ray and leaned into his shoulder.

"Find us something good to watch." Ray took command of the clicker and flipped through the channels.

"What do you like to watch?"

"I don't care. Find us a good movie."

"What's your favorite movie?" Ray had his arm draped over her shoulder and was lightly tracing circles with his fingers on her forearm.

"The Wizard of Oz."

"Ah."

"What?"

"The monkey's freak me out." Rayni laughed and Ray immediately tensed. Stella always laughed at him and told him he was silly. Rayni gave him a squeeze and kissed his chest.

"I won't let them bother you. You can hold on to me when we watch it." Ray looked down into the soft brown eyes looking up at him. There was no condescending look, no sarcasm. He kissed her lightly on the lips.

"What was that sad look for?"

"Sad look?"

"Yeah, you were thinking about something."

"It was nothing."

"Please talk to me." Ray couldn't help himself. Her eyes were pleading with him. She really wanted to know things about him.

"I was just thinkin' about how Stella would have had a great time makin' fun of me fer that."

"Your ex-wife?"

"Uh-huh."

"SoundsÖ..uhÖ."

"Yeah, I know."

"I'm sorry Ray."

"Don't be. We've all got a story like that right. We just have to deal with the fact that they don't love you as much as you love them."

Rayni sat up and looked into his eyes. She wanted to scream the words she felt at him, but couldn't. They just wouldn't come. It was too soon. Instead she tried to convey how she felt by reaching out and touching his face. She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. Her tongue lightly licked his lower lip as she wove her fingers through his hair. It was as if a thousand angels had sung in his ear. *She's the one.*

 

 

 

~~~~~

Chapter 11

Fraser walked into the bullpen and smiled at the look of contentment on Ray's face. It had been three weeks since he started dating Rayni and he had all the symptoms of a man in love. Rayni had even invited Fraser out to eat with them on a few occasions and he could see the feelings they each had for one another. Ray was happy. That in turn made Fraser happy. There was only one thing that concerned him. The Stella. Fraser had noticed that ever since Ray had started dating Rayni, that Stella was acting differently toward him. She was being almost nice. Fraser worried what this behavior could mean.

~~~~~

"You need to get a real car."

"As opposed to my fake one." Rayni carried her car keys to the service manager at the dealership.

"It's a Volkswagen."

"It's a new Beetle. It's cute."

"It's Lime green Rayni."

"I like it."

"It's looks hinky."

"Hinky?"

"Yeah."

"Oh okay." The service manager handed Rayni her ticket and promised her car would be ready tomorrow. Ray carried her briefcase while they walked out to his car.

"You gotta work late tonight?"

"Not tonight. Oh crap! I'm supposed to deliver some quad sheets to the city this morning. Max has the fleet cars booked out. Cara's at a conference and Max is verifying addresses all week. I've got to get my car back. I can't afford to get this far behind." Rayni turned quickly to return to the service desk when Ray reached around her waist and spun her back around.

"Slow down. We can figure somethin' out. Let 'em fix your car. Besides, I'll worry about you breakin' down somewhere."

"Well what am I going to do. Rent a car?"

Ray looked over at the GTO and then back to Rayni.

"No way."

"What?"

"I'd be too scared to drive it. Besides, I thought no one drove the Goat but you and your Dad."

"Well, no one hasÖ.until today. I know you'll be careful."

"ButÖ."

"Drop me off at the station and then bring it back when you're done."

"ButÖ."

"Come on Doll. It's okay."

"Doll?" Rayni smiled.

"Yeah, you're my doll right? Besides, you've made me watch that stupid musical four times since I've met you."

"I like it."

"I like you. Here." Ray placed his keys in her palm and walked her over to the driver's door.

"You sure?" Rayni cocked her head at him before settling behind the seat.

"Sure. It's greatness." Ray trotted around the car and sat in the passenger seat. Rayni started the car and slowly pulled out into traffic.

"This is cool."

"This is a real car."

"I feel like I should be drag racing somebody."

"Don't even think about it."

"I'm a racing doll!"

"Rayni."

"Let's open her up and see what she'll do!"

"Rayni."

"Let's put heels to the steel and pedal to the metal."

"Rayni!"

"Sorry, I'll be careful. I promise." Ray placed his hand on the side of his temple. He suddenly developed a splitting headache.

~~~~~

Chapter 12

"Ray, was that Rayni I saw driving your car?!" Francesca stood in the middle of the bullpen and waited for an answer.

"Yeah, I let her borrow it." A hush fell over the bullpen. Officers stared open mouthed at the spiky-haired detective as they wondered if this was a sign of the end of time.

"But Ray, you love that car." Before he thought about what he was saying he blurted out the words he had been feeling for weeks.

"Yeah well, I love her too." Francesca gave him a toothy grin and looked around at the stunned face of the bullpen.

"What did you say?"

Ray's face was burning from the blush staining his cheeks. He tucked his head quickly and retreated to interrogation room two.

Fraser had witnessed the entire exchange and quickly followed.

"Ray."

Ray paced nervously back and forth.

"Ray. Ray."

Ray ran he hands through his hair and started mumbling to himself.

"Ray. Ray. Ray."

"What?!"

"Is everything alright?"

"No everythin' is not alright. I justÖ.I meanÖ..IÖ"

"You told the truth." Ray spun around and looked at his best friend and partner.

"How can I love her Fraser? How? I've only known her for three weeks."

"Didn't you know after the first day?" Ray starred blankly at him. It was true. He did know.

"But I haven'tÖ.."

"What Ray?"

"IÖ..nevermind."

"Have you told Miss Mason how you feel?"

"I've only said those words to one woman Fraser. One."

"Now you can say them again."

"What ifÖ."

"She loves you Ray."

"How do you know that? Huh? What? You do that Mountie thing? You lick my girlfriend or something to know that she loves me."

"Don't be ridiculous Ray. It would be highly inappropriate for me to lick your girlfriend. Now if you were to perhapsÖ.well, that's neither here nor there."

"Fraser!"

"Yes Ray?"

"Not helping."

"Ah, sorry. Tell Miss Mason how you feel and I'm sure she'll reciprocate."

"She will?"

"Most definitely."

"You sure?"

"Fairly sure."

"Why does my stomach hurt?"

"Nothing hurts like love, Ray."

~~~~~~~

Chapter 13

Stella walked into the bullpen and over to Ray's desk.

"Morning, Ray."

"Hey Stel." Ray didn't bother to look up from his paperwork. Stella stood there looking down at him.

"I was wonderingÖ."

"Yeah?"

"Well, would you like to have lunch?" Fraser's ears caught the conversation. He looked over at Ray as he lifted his head to look at his ex-wife.

Ray would have jumped at the chance to go out with Stella. He still loved her. Or so he thought he did. But something was different now. He had noticed that she was acting much nicer toward him, but for some odd reason he didn't care. Something had changed. He was just about to decline her offer when Rayni walked into the bullpen. Ray leapt from his desk and walked past Stella. Rayni greeted him with a warm kiss and a weary smile.

"Did you get all your errands run?"

"Yeah, I feel like I've worked eight hours and it's barely lunch."

"You look beat."

"I am. Here's you keys. I filled it up." Stella glared at the young woman as she handed the keys to Ray. She stepped forward and furrowed her brow at Ray.

"You let her borrow your car?!" Rayni took a surprised step back and look at the woman that so rudely interrupted their conversation. Francesca walked up beside Fraser and watched the exchange between them. Rayni looked at Ray and then extended her hand to Stella.

"I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met. You are?"

"Stella Kowalski." Rayni noticed the emphasis placed on her last name. Ray's face grew hot with anger as he reached out for Rayni's hand. Before he could speak, Stella ignored Rayni's outstretched hand and started questioning Ray.

"You let her drive that precious car of yours? We were married for God's sake and you never let me so much as sit behind the wheel." Rayni's face darkened. The thought of this woman yelling at Ray, her Ray, angered her. She stepped forward and into Stella's line of sight.

"Is there a problem?"

"This is between me and my husband." Just as Ray managed to say, "Ex-husband." Rayni looked Stella square in the eye and asked, "So you've remarried?"

"No! Of course not."

"Then I don't understand the concern." Ray pulled on Rayni's hand and stepped in front of her.
"Leave it Stella." Stella stomped off in a huff towards the interrogation rooms.

Fraser and Francesca released the breath each had been holding.

"That was interesting." Francesca whispered to Fraser.

"Quite."

Ray rubbed his hands down Rayni's arms.

"Sorry about that? You ready?"

"I think I better get back to the office."

"You want me to drive you?"

"No thank you."

Rayni turned and left the bullpen. Ray followed behind her but was stopped by a group of hookers being taken to holding. By the time he reached the parking lot, she was gone.

"Dammit!"

Ray kicked the tire on the GTO and looked at the sad eyes of his partner looking back at him.

~~~~~~~

Chapter 14

Ray's mood was dark for the rest of the day. He left four messages on Rayni's voice mail, but she refused to return his call. He dropped Fraser off at the consulate and headed for Rayni's apartment. He knocked solemnly on the door and waited for an answer.

He heard a small sound on the other side of the door and then heard her call.

"Who is it?" Her voice sounded small as if she were crying.

"Baby, it's me."

Rayni opened the door and walked back into the kitchen. Ray was very aware she wasn't looking at him.

"Tell me what's wrong." With her back still to Ray, she leaned on her hands on the kitchen counter. He shoulders slumped and her voice was meek.

"Do you still love her?" Ray moved closer to her.

"What? Who?"

"You know who." Rayni turned to face him. Her eyes were pleading but her face was made of stone. Ray rubbed his hand through his hair and started pacing.

"That's what all this was about?! Stella?!"

"Do you still love her?"

"It's not that easyÖ." He was going to continue but was cut off by Rayni.

"It's a simple question. Answer it!"

Ray stepped forward and in his usual dramatic flare he gestured wildly with his arms. As he stepped toward her to tell her his feelings, he raised his arms in a wide sweeping motion. Rayni saw Ray step toward her and raise his arms; unconsciously she flinched and raised her arms protectively over her face. Ray stopped mid motion.

"Oh God." Rayni felt Ray's hand encircle her wrists. He gently pulled her hands away from her face. In a soothing voice, he pulled her arms around his waist.

"Oh baby, I would neverÖ.please, don't ever think that I would hit you." Ray placed his arm around her back and his hand on the side of her head and cradled her there in his embrace. Rayni had started to cry.

"Shhh, I would never do that baby. Never. I couldn't. I love you." Rayni pulled back slightly and looked into his pale blue eyes. In barely a whisper she asked, "What?" Ray smiled the most brilliant smile she had ever seen.

"I love you, Rayni." She wrapped her arms tightly around him. Her words were muffled into his chest but he heard them just the same.

"I love you."

Those three words made Ray Kowalski the happiest man on the planet. She loved him. She loved him as much as he loved her. That's all he needed. That's all he'd ever need.


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