Disclaimer: I don't own High Mountain Rangers, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Summary: A long-held secret is revealed.
Romance and Rangers
Izzy had just poured himself a cup of coffee when he heard the front door open. Sighing, he reluctantly set the cup on the counter. He had really been looking forward to the coffee, the rich aroma had been teasing him all day but with the phone ringing off the hook he hadn't had a chance to indulge.
"How can I help you miss?" he asked as he stepped into the main room.
"Oh wow!" the young woman gushed. "Are you him? Please tell me your him? It took me forever to find out his real name. Of course I didn't expect him to be a man. I mean who would, right?"
Izzy blinked. "Uh, miss, could you tell me who you're looking for?"
She stared at him as if to ask how he couldn't know. "Jim Cutler of course," she grinned. "I'm his number one fan," she continued eagerly.
"Rangers have fans?" he asked. Turning his head from side to side, he examined the room, searching for the hidden camera. He'd been a High Mountain Ranger for a few years now and he'd never heard of ranger fans.
"Huh?" She looked around as if seeing the building for the first time. "So are you him?"
Izzy wondered if he should call Mike and ask if there were any reports of escaped mental patients. "What? Oh, no, no, I'm Izzy Flowers," he said, finally introducing himself.
"Oh," she sighed, obviously disappointed. "He does work here, doesn't he?"
Izzy studied her for a moment, not sure if he should be honest or not. Before he could make up his mind, the door opened and the other rangers came in.
"I'm telling you Jim...."
"Jim?" The girl turned so fast that Izzy was surprised she didn't give herself whiplash. "Are you Jim Cutler?" she asked, her voice filled with excitement.
Jim had opened his mouth to reply in the affirmative when he spied the object in the girl's hands. "No, um my name's...."
"He's just teasing you miss, this is Jim Cutler," Tim interrupted. He shared a confused glance with his fellow rangers but they were clearly as confused as he was.
"Oh my god!" the girl screamed, rushing forward and giving Jim a hug. Blushing as red as the jacket she wore, she quickly backed away. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "I'm just so excited. I've wanted to meet you for so long. I've read all of your books. They're great, so moving and filled with emotion. I can't tell you how many times I've cried along with the characters. You really have a way with words, did you know that? Of course you know, you must know." Turning her attention away from Jim for a moment, she addressed the others. "What's it like working with a famous author? Is he as sensitive as his writing suggest?"
"Author?" Tim and Robin asked simultaneously.
"Oh yeah, he's a real sensitive guy," Matt put in. He had seen the book in her hands and was beginning to put the story together. "Just yesterday I caught him crying out back because of a little baby bird that had fallen out of its nest."
"Ohhhh, that is so sweet," the girl cried. "I'm not surprised, though, he'd have to be sensitive to write such compelling romance novels. Of course I was really shocked when I found out that Marianne Cummings was really a man named Jim Cutler. Do you know how hard it was to find that information? I mean it's guarded more strongly than some government secrets." She turned back to Jim. "I don't understand why you would hide it, you're a wonderful writer," she said, smiling up at him. "I'm Kate, by the way, Kate Tanner," she said, grabbing his hand and shaking it vigorously. "It is such a pleasure to meet you. Will you autograph my book?" Holding out the book towards him, she waited for him to take it.
Jim stared at her dazed. The last thing he had expected, the last thing he had wanted, had finally happened. Something nudged his hand and looking down he saw a new copy of his latest book staring up at him. "Oh, um, yeah sure," he stuttered as he took the book. Turning towards the desk, he grabbed a pen and opened up the front cover. "Kate, right?" At her nod he began to write. 'Kate, may you find as much romance in your life as in my books, Love, Marianne Cummings(Jim Cutler)'. He gave a mental shrug, his secret was out, no reason not to use his real name as well. "Here you go Kate," he said, handing the book back.
Kate opened the book, squealed and gave him another hug, this time kissing him on the cheek. "Thank you so much! I can't wait to tell my friends that I met you."
"You're welcome Kate," he said, giving her a blinding smile.
Once more turning red, Kate said her good-byes. As she opened the door, she turned back, giving him one last look. Then grinning widely, she left the station.
"So, Jim, or should we call you Marianne?" Matt began, his voice filled with laughter. "All those romance novels you read...checking out the competition?"
"No, they're advance copies. I check them for errors before they go to the stores," Jim explained. He chose to ignore the first of Matt's questions.
"He doesn't look like a Marianne to me," Tim put in.
"I think you're right Tim, he looks more like a Julie to me," Robin grinned.
"Nah, he's a Kathy," Izzy said, more than happy to get in on the teasing. Usually he was on the receiving end.
"Ha, ha," Jim mock growled. "Everybody's a comedian."
Everybody laughed, but the teasing didn't stop. For the rest of the shift Jim was teased unmercifully. The mock concern and sympathy over his sensitivity were bad enough, but when they started mocking him for getting in touch with his feminine side the teasing really took off. Finally the shift ended and as Jim walked out the door, he turned to face the others.
"You know, all of you may think it's funny that I write romance novels, but there's something you haven't thought of."
"Oh," Matt asked for them all, "what's that?"
Jim smirked. "While your all trying to live on a government pension, I'll be able to retire in style." As he walked out the door, he heard the groans of realization. Yep, he grinned, they might have enjoyed teasing him but as usual, he had the last laugh.
A/N: This idea has been floating around in my head for a while and I finally decided to put it on paper, so to speak.