Reviews for Free At Last
jules3677 chapter 38 . 1/18
What a lovely story with Stephanie & Carlos. Liked your characters. They gave a delightful interpretation of the Plum universe. Also liked the quotes from the books at the beginning of each chapter. They brought back many fond memories (& a desire to reread so of the more funny books). I enjoyed the fact that Ranger had the large family of relations in his background. Bringing more colour to his background is always greatly appreciated. Admired how you wrote PTSD into the story. Many authors forget the effects that crop up not just immediately after their return but also in the future. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. Thankyou.
alix33 chapter 37 . 9/13/2013
"Then I felt an odd surge of envy for the opulent lifestyle that so many of Ranger's relatives seemed to live: big yachts and bigger mansions, fancy cars and private airplanes, personal chefs and now, fabulous parties. Suddenly, I realized that I had married into this wealthy enclave, too. Although there wouldn't be any more missed car payments and empty cupboards for me, I wondered if I was in danger of becoming a serious micromanager – like my mom and practically every female relative of Ranger's that I'd met so far." - I think I would slit my own carotid artery if Stephanie changed in that way.
This busybody Marcos needs his 'nads kicked in.
"It came as no surprise that my Babe's period arrived right on schedule. Unfortunately, on the next-to-the-last day of her cycle, my grandfather, Papí Súarez called me on my cell phone and chewed me out for not being at my Uncle Marcos' house when he arrived there for a visit. Then he demanded that Steph and I come to dinner that evening. It was a very tense time. Overall, I had almost convinced myself that we were doing okay. That is, until Uncle Marcos asked Steph some stupid questions about what would happen when she and I had children, as well as her new life married to a man with lots of secrets, and she broke down, crying pitifully. Steph was was completely overcome by her emotions. Apparently, the two-week abstinence, as well as her period, had worn down her last nerve, too, and she just couldn't control herself any longer. Aunt Maribel took Steph out into the gardens for some fresh air" - My comment above applies once more.
"wrapped her harms around my legs to steady herself," - "wrapped her arms".
alix33 chapter 36 . 9/13/2013
"Julie is allowed to have friends visit at the Martine's house" - "at the Martines' house".
"It took a while for me to feel comfortable in my grandparent's world." - "grandparents' world".
"I would have agree to anything my Batman asked of me." - "I would have agreed".
"I made sure that the Plum's room was located on the same floor as our room" - "the Plums' room".
"I didn't think that the Plum's rekindled intimacy was what had caused me to have my "bad feeling," - "The Plums' rekindled intimacy".
"The fresh fruit and floral arrangement was so beautiful!" Helen Plum gushed at her daughter. "You're such a good daughter," said one of the other women at the table. "I was telling your mother here that neither my son nor my daughter has ever done something so nice for me." Helen actually blushed" - You tell that bitch of a Helen Plum, other lady.
"My Babe hadn't known about all of the special arrangements I had made for her parents' little hotel get-away. In addition to the fruit and flowers and champagne, I had instructed – and paid for - the hotel staff to meet every need of the guests who were staying in Room 1111, to include room service meals, a spa treatment for the wife and a thousand dollars worth of casino chips for the husband. I really wanted to overwhelm Steph's parents and help them understand that their daughter was now in my very capable hands. Okay, so maybe I was buying them off just a little, but from the looks on the Plums' faces, my strategy was working quite well." - IMO, whatever it takes so Helen Plum does not get any opportunity to bitch at Stephanie.
"find the Galarza's yacht and kick Roberto," - "find the Galarzas' yacht".
alix33 chapter 35 . 9/13/2013
"I had given Ella free reign to do whatever else she felt like doing and she took full advantage of Ranger's absence." - "given Ella free rein".
"If we're lucky, we might be able to leave my parents' house early - and that would give us more time to, you know, wait up for Santa Claus." I felt Ranger's smile as he said, "And what will we be doing while we wait for Santa? Are we going to be … naughty … or nice?" I pulled back and smiled slyly back at him. "It's not naughty … especially now that we're married." All Ranger could say in reply to this was, of course, "Babe." - Hehehe.
"he watched with interest as I tore into the box of chocolates right away. As several of the smooth delicacies melted on my tongue, I moaned with pleasure. I had never tasted such fabulous candy! Of course, that sent Ranger over the edge and before I knew what had happened, we were making love next to the Christmas tree. I don't know if Santa saw us, but it was very, very nice!" - Hehehe.
"Our lovemaking the previous evening had relaxed her so much that she had fallen asleep practically under our Christmas tree. I'll never forget the vision of my Babe laying there like my own personal gift, already unwrapped and thoroughly loved." - Hehehe.
"thus precipitating her most recent tour which was ending it's twelve-city run in Atlantic City on New Year's Eve." - "tour which was ending its twelve".
"Steph took her mother shopping for a new outfit. When my Babe returned to the apartment, she was visibly upset. "I don't know what's wrong with my mother!" Steph fumed. "I'm finally married to a wonderful man, living in a totally safe environment, and financially stable, but she only wants to talk about me giving her more grandchildren. We just got married, for heaven's sake! And it's none of her business anyway! Aagh! I can't take much more of this!" Then she burst into tears. My own heart ached for our situation, especially since it was mostly my fault. I wrapped my arms around Steph, rubbed her back and said, "Babe." We stood there in the kitchen for a few moments until her sobs became sniffles and then I continued, "Don't worry about your mother. There's a time and a season for everything. It's not time for us to be parents. I'm sorry." She hiccupped and replied, "Why are you sorry? It's not your fault my mother is being a complete nag about this!" I tilted her tear-stained face up toward mine and gazed deeply into her blue eyes. "Steph, we both know that it is my fault we can't have children right now." "Carlos, we also know that I'm not ready for one child - let alone children - yet, but that's still none of her business," Steph insisted. "Why can't my mother just be happy for me – or even happy with me, for a change?" - Good freaking question!
"And something else in here smells real good, too." I led her over to the counter and lifted the lid off of the crock pot. "Ella made us some Ropa Vieja. I think she's trying to find out whether we like her recipe better than Rosie's, so be very careful - and diplomatic - with your compliments. We don't want to cause a rift in their friendship." This got a genuine smile out of my Babe and she asked, "Are they really so competitive?" "You have no idea," I replied as I ladled the fragrant stew and some rice into two bowls and set them on the dining room table. "It's mostly in good fun, but I think Ella is becoming worried that you and I might decide to stay down in Florida. Trust me; Ella hates the idea of losing us to Rosie's tender loving care. The way things are going right now, though, I think we'll need to make a longer stop in Miami than we had originally planned before heading on to Tampa." Steph stared at me for a moment before she spoke again, "Ranger, are we considering a more … permanent move to Florida?" I shrugged. "It's a possibility." Then I looked directly into Steph's bright blue eyes and announced, "I got a call from Julie today, Babe. She … she needs our help." - AW, poor Ella, poor Julie too.
alix33 chapter 34 . 9/13/2013
"What was really helpful, though, was that Ella had packed a suitcase full of island-appropriate attire for Steph and when I presented it to my Babe, her eyes lit up and she calmed down. Then, as soon as she really realized that we were headed to the Caribbean for our honeymoon, Steph became as giddy as a child on Christmas Day. Dios! Ella is a true gift from God! Of course, before we could go to sleep, my Babe had to pull everything out of her suitcase and see the new honeymoon wardrobe for herself. There were sexy new swimsuits and beach wraps, as well as a few nice, but casual outfits suitable for going out to dinner and dancing on the laid-back island. I definitely was looking forward to seeing Steph model everything for me. It took a while to re-pack all of the clothes, but she was very happy with Ella's selections and so was I. After we were set for our early-morning departure, we fell into bed and tried to fall asleep so that we'd be ready for our upcoming adventures. "How does Ella do it?" Steph wondered aloud as she snuggled into my chest. "She hasn't known me very long, but she understands how to dress and feed me better than my own mother!" I gently tightened my arm around Steph's shoulder and said, "Well, I've given her a few suggestions from time to time, but Ella is an expert at 'reading' people in her own way. I think that if she had been born a generation later, she'd have made a great special agent. I'm just glad she works for me now." - Yay! for Ella.
alix33 chapter 33 . 9/13/2013
"pouring over every case file and client folder we possessed," - "poring over every case file".
"I can taste the cheese in this omelet, but what are these green thingies in it?" Unable to suppress my smile, I replied, "Spinach." "No way!" She shook her head and her fork paused in mid-air. "You know I hate spinach! This can't be a spinach omelet; it tastes too good." "Ella will be pleased to know of her triumph," I said and continued to stare in amazement as my vegetable-hating wife devoured her meal – even the buttered whole-grain toast and slices of melon. She drank her coffee and finished every last drop of the freshly-squeezed orange juice, too." - Yum!
"For your information, I don't send out Christmas cards. I never have and, unless you can give me a very good reason, I don't plan on starting now." - I like having this in common with Ranger.
"We had dined at the Plum's house only once since our return and I liked it that way." - "dinner at the Plums' house".
IMO Ranger and Stephanie should ignore any and all Christmas- and Thanksgiving-related whining Helen Plum does, and Ranger can start conditioning Stephanie to ignore any and all whining Helen Plum does, period.
"{Actually, I thought it was a good thing that Stephanie and I would be far away from Trenton so much during this beginning phase of our married life. People needed to establish their own routines without including us in their plans. And I refused to be roped into spending Friday nights in the Burg; those family dinners had been Joe Morelli's gig, but I had no intention of us becoming regulars at the Plum table. Luckily for me, Ella's cooking more than made up for the breaking of my Babe's traditions." - Yay!
"Grandma only told me about him when she surprised me at the courthouse in Miami Beach and witnessed my marriage to Carlos." "Carlos!" she practically spat his name. "This is his fault. This is your fault, too, Stephanie!" I gasped. "My fault? How can this be my fault?" "If you and that meddlesome boss of yours hadn't eloped," she explained, "I'm sure that your grandmother never would have thought of it as a possibility for her, too." -GR! I wish Helen Plum would freaking borrow a clue from her husband and stop being on Stephanie's freaking case as a reflex, practically.
"I've had nothing but trouble ever since you and your husband told me that you'd both be working on Thanksgiving and Christmas. You started this!" - Ah, drown yourself in a bottle of alcohol, won't you, Helen Plum, with your nasty mouth?
"Besides the traditional roasted turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie, Ella had cooked up a plate of beef empanadas and a creamy caramel-covered flan." - Yum!
"You're still on the Pill, aren't you?" my mother demanded to know when I went over to the Burg for Sunday donuts and coffee. "Here I am, praying every day for a grandchild from your womb, and you are actively standing God's way. I'll bet if you had married Joseph, he would have thrown out your contraceptives and you'd be pregnant already." "Oh, for the love of-" I began, but I stopped myself and calmly said, "Mom, I love you, but I am not going to discuss having any children for quite a while. What Carlos and I decide to do with our lives is none of your business, anyway, so please, Mom, leave it alone!" - Touché Stephanie.
alix33 chapter 32 . 9/13/2013
"Uh-oh, Connie, you know what this means, don't you?" I asked. "Yeah," she giggled. "And I've already started to look at engagement rings online." "I can hardly wait to see Vinnie's reaction when he finds out that all of his current employees probably are going to be married by this time next year," I said. "Well, not Joyce," Connie said. I sucked in air and said, "Don't tell me that Vinnie hired Joyce Barnhart again?" "Okay, I won't tell you," Connie said. "Aw, crap! Here she comes now and I can see her little demon horns through her badly-dyed red hair. I gotta go." I've hated Joyce Barnhart since kindergarten, so I said, "Kick her ass for me, okay, Connie?" "My pleasure, Stephanie," Connie laughed. "Vinnie won't like it, but I don't care!" - I would help kick Joyce's arse if only Johannesburg, South Africa, was closer to Trenton, New Jersey.
"I also explained the basics of what had happened during Dr. O'Neill's visit. They glanced at each other and then began to grin. It was then that I knew for sure that the sounds of my Babe's enthusiastic exclamations had made it past the supposedly sound-proof walls of my office. Sighing, I decided to address the issue immediately, before things became unbearable. "Fine," I said as I fixed both Tank and Bobby with a glare. "I'll have Louis put up some thicker sound-proofing panels ASAP." "Whatever, boss-man," Bobby said and his grin grew wider. "I just want to know if you're gonna issue everyone a set of noise-cancelling headphones to block out the sounds of Tank and Lula's nooners once they get married. No one wants to hear tha-" "Hey!" Tank interrupted. "What makes you think I'd bring Lula up in here like that?" Bobby's eyebrows shot upward and he said, "What makes you think she won't barge her way into your office and take you on the floor every day that Ranger's down in Miami? Damn, Tank! We already placed our bets as to when you're gonna get lucky on your desk." Then he waggled his eyebrows at me as though he knew that's what Stephanie and I had done this morning." - Hehehe.
alix33 chapter 30 . 9/13/2013
"my Babe was suffering from a guilty conscious over snooping through my stuff." - "guilty conscience over snooping".
alix33 chapter 29 . 9/13/2013
"I was extremely grateful for my Spanish-speaking, people-watching husband's voice interpreting the people around me. Although most of his relatives were nice to me, a few of Ranger's older female cousins made snide remarks in Spanish while they smiled pleasantly at me and several of his male cousins made remarks which he refused to translate. I suspect that they were of a suggestive nature because I could hear Ranger growling quite clearly." - EW for both those snide and suggestive remarks.
alix33 chapter 28 . 9/13/2013
OK, so the streets of Trenton are Tank and Ranger's running track.
Yay! for Tank and Lula.
alix33 chapter 27 . 9/13/2013
I hate food fights, whether it is in RL, TV shows or fics. It is IMO a sin to treat food like playthings when there are still people going hungry (and when some of my relatives went hungry as children) every day all over the world.
Starting food fight sounds just like the kind of no class thing Stephanie's mother makes such a nauseating habit of.
Quiet fire? Well, it turned noisy over the years, losing all its inhibitions along the way and is nowadays mostly directed at poor Stephanie,
alix33 chapter 26 . 9/13/2013
"Even though she was nervous and wasn't feeling at her best, Stephanie did great in front of the judge. Those punk kids who robbed my clients were doomed once my Babe took the stand. I was so proud of her when she explained how she figured out that the young thieves had placed hidden cameras at the locations where they performed their robberies. Even the defendants' lawyers seemed impressed by the way she answered all of their questions. Once again, my Babe didn't disappoint." - I am very proud of Stephanie.
"Many of my sibling's children have slept in it, too." - "siblings' children".
alix33 chapter 25 . 9/13/2013
"Dios, Babe!" Ranger's voice sounded husky as he whispered into my ear. "Do you have any idea how long I've wanted us to do that?" "All night?" I guessed. He shifted off of my body and turned toward me until we were face to face, with me nestled between him and the back cushions of the couch. It was a tight fit, but quite nice. In fact, our cozy position gave me an idea that we should keep a spare blanket and some other necessities down here for future opportunities. "Longer than that, Babe. Much, much longer. I've wanted to have you on this sofa since the first time you ever visited my office," Ranger said and he glanced over his shoulder to look at certain spots around the room. "And against that wall over there and next to the window and on top of my desk. I've built up quite a catalog of fantasies over the years." "Hmm," I replied, following his gaze. "Maybe we should just camp out in this office for a while so that we can, um, explore these fantasies of yours." - Hehehe.
"Legal partnership?" Ranger closed the distance between us, encircled me in his warm embrace, and kissed the tip of my nose before he said in his very bad British accent, "Yes, Miss Doolittle, our legal partnership." "Why, Professor Higgins, I don't know what to say!"I exclaimed and a giggled escaped from my throat. I stopped laughing when I saw the expression on Ranger's face. "Uh-oh. You're serious, aren't you?" I asked him. "Very." He nodded again. "I meant what I said after we captured Cantrell. I want you to be my partner in every sense of that word and not just an employee or contract worker. And, starting tomorrow, we'll be well on our way to making our complete partnership a reality." I felt my knees go weak and I was glad that Ranger was holding me up. "But, Carlos … are you really sure about this? What if your other partners don't want me? I mean, I was never an Army Ranger like the rest of you. Heck, we both know that I'm as far away from being military material as possible – even if I have the readiest ready bag in the building." Ranger hugged me tighter and said, "Don't worry about that, Babe. Tank and I have been sending messages back and forth to our other partners - Sid up in Boston and Max down in Atlanta – all week long. After your participation in the Galarza case, Gonzo gave you his vote of approval, of course, and everyone else agreed to the new arrangement without any further discussion." "You've been talking about me … behind my back?" I asked. "We just want to make it official, Babe," he said, "before this next mission. We'll make sure you get the additional training you're going to need so that you'll be able to travel with me on future missions." "Oh boy! I … I need to sit down," I said weakly. "I didn't expect this. And I never would have guessed that you meant to make me an actual partner in your business, Carlos." "Even if you weren't my wife, I respect your intuition and your ability to piece things together enough to want you as my partner, Babe," - AW!
I cannot figure out whether I find those pineapple-themed presents cute or over the top.
"If we didn't leave the office real soon, I knew we'd end up fulfilling another one of Ranger's fantasies, especially since the surface of his desk wasn't cluttered with our gifts anymore. I reluctantly pushed his hand back down to my waist, leaned away from him and said, "Can we continue this upstairs? Honestly, if you plan on getting me up in time to go to court, we need to go to bed real soon." Ranger chuckled and gently slid me off of his lap. He stood and bowed and said, "Your wish is my command, Babe." Then he pulled me into a close embrace and whispered huskily into my ear, "But there will be plenty of other opportunities for us to fulfill my desk fantasy. You'll see." "Stop reading my mind!" I grumbled playfully. Then I began to straighten my clothes. Ranger just chuckled and said, "Stop making it so easy for me to read your mind." - I think Ranger's reading Stephanie's mind is totally sweet.
"What else could say?" - "What else could I say?"
alix33 chapter 23 . 9/13/2013
"My parents were another story. Despite everything my grandma had told me about my dad supporting this marriage, I knew there would be trouble when Ranger and I came face-to-face with Mom. Probably, I'd never taste my mother's pineapple upside-down cake - or any other dessert from her kitchen - ever again. Yes, it was comforting to know that Saint Ella was able to make any sort of food that I wanted, including desserts. It just wouldn't be the same as Mom's." - IMO Stephanie just needs to get used to the slight difference then. I am hoping Ranger gives Stephanie's mom all seven levels of hell at that first meeting as her son-in-law.
"our breakfast of spinach and cheese omelets, sliced fresh fruit, and coffee." - Yum!
"Stephanie shrugged into the robe she had always worn when she was here before. I decided that it really was her robe now and I told her to keep on wearing it. She gave me a big hug and an even bigger kiss and we almost didn't make it out of the bedroom. Unfortunately for me, her bossy stomach forced us into the kitchen. Not feeding the 'beast' was not an option at that point." - Yay! for Stephanie now being the owner of that IMO very cozy robe.
alix33 chapter 22 . 9/13/2013
"Then we hoped to 'sneak' back into Trenton and the Haywood building to catch our breath before we ventured over to the Burg and my parent's house to show them that we really were married." - "my parents' house".
"hot coffee, scrambled eggs and Entenmann's pastry" - I have never tasted that kind of pastry, but the scrambled eggs and coffee sound yummy.
"freshly ground and brewed coffee, bagels with cream cheese and lox, as well as slices of fresh pineapple and mango." - Yum! for everything except the vile-smelling and -tasting (IMO) mango.
"Val and Cat and Tulio had set up a fantastic spread of sliced fruits and vegetables, gourmet hors d' oeuvres and cold drinks for everyone," - Yum!
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