NOT CUPCAKE FRIENDLY. Angst. Sexual situations. Adult Language. Babe HEA!
Not mine. No profit. Belong to JE.
Thanks to my fabulous Beta, Jacqueline!
When Ranger promised he'd marry Stephanie whenever she was ready, he wasn't kidding. She wanted to wait until she'd recovered every one of her memories. Once she had, she thought it would be fun to test his memory of his promise. So, when she dressed up as a bride for Halloween, he didn't need to be told twice and whisked her off to Fiji three days later. They spent four glorious weeks there, first enjoying Diwali, or the Festival of Light, a public 5-day celebration known to represent the triumph of good over evil. Ranger thought it suited what they'd been through to get to their wedding day, especially since he considered Steph to be the light in his world, and then they were married in a private ceremony on 11/11/11, just days after the festival ended. Stephanie thought the wedding date perfectly symbolized their love, since two 1's partnered together made the number 11.
Once they were back in Trenton, they had a huge reception so everyone could celebrate their marriage. Everyone was very excited when Bobby and Dr. Alicia Washington showed up and she had some extra sparkle, as she showed off her new engagement ring. Tank and Lula had been making plans for their wedding as well. Connie entered the reception on Lester's arm, sporting a huge grin and an afterglow that could give Steph competition. Transferring to homicide and receiving Morelli's sergeant job upon his death, June Quinton showed up with Carl Costanza, which caused some gossip among the other police officers in attendance. Carl heard from Eddie about June's relationship with Morelli and offered to be a shoulder for her after Morelli's death. She confided in him about Morelli and her past with her stepfather and his acceptance of her made her fall in love with him. They'd dated exclusively ever since.
After a long talk between Ranger and Stephanie's mom, Helen Plum and Stephanie went on a weekend shopping trip to New York City, without Valerie, and Helen begged for Stephanie's forgiveness for all of the years she never supported her decisions. She even apologized for pushing her into marrying Dickie and for blaming Stephanie for the marriage failure. At the reception, Helen danced with Ranger, thanked him for loving her daughter so unconditionally, and apologized for being so blind when it came to Morelli. She ended up blushing profusely when he kissed her on the cheek in forgiveness. Grandma Mazur moved into Stephanie's old apartment and began an affair with the man in the apartment across the hall, Normal LaConte. Frank and Helen enjoyed having their privacy back with Edna gone, and it gave their marriage a new spark. With Helen's new found love of their bedroom activities, she was able to get rid of her liquor stash and even told the neighborhood busy bodies to get their own lives.
Vinnie disappeared for good. Some people thought he skipped town in fear of Ranger and others thought Ranger made him disappear. That left the bonds office in need of a new owner. Amazingly, Joe's official will revealed that he left the large sum of money he had stashed away to Steph. She bought out Vinnie and took over the bonds office, made Connie her partner, promoted Lula to Connie's office manager position and hired Candy to take over filing for Lula. She also bought Candy a house and set up a trust fund for her baby, as well as provided counseling for any of Morelli's victims. Joe left his house to Angie Morelli, who signed it over to Anthony, before leaving the Burg with Grandma Bella because of the humiliation over her son's crimes.
Judge Antonio Dicce was found in his office, shot by his own hand, only hours after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He left a note at the scene that explained the reason for taking his own life and named at least three clerks in the prosecutors' office, including Natalie McGarr, that were deeply involved in the Morelli blackmail scandal. Prosecutor Nicholas Reed resigned as prosecutor after admitting that he had suspicions about the clerks and Judge Dicce. Criminal charges were filed against all of the clerks shortly after and requests for plea bargains were denied.
Morelli's autopsy revealed that his death was accidental. Because he mixed alcohol with Ketamine, both being depressants, he vomited while unconscious, aspirated the material into his lungs, and essentially, drowned himself. The coroner also noted that his heavy use of the drug had caused a heart condition that would've eventually led to heart failure. After trying to destroy so many lives, it was ironic that he'd destroyed his own and self-destructed instead of being murdered by one of the many people who wanted him dead. Steph was finally able to find comfort in the fact that no one had to pay for Morelli's murder and that losing his life was the ultimate price for his crimes. After time and perspective, she realized that she probably wouldn't have been able to handle having Morelli's blood on her hands or the hands of someone she loved, had he been murdered.
Almost a month after their extended honeymoon, Ranger and Stephanie headed to Newark for Christmas Eve, spending the evening with Ranger's family. They exchanged gifts, and Stephanie giggled when all of the members of Ranger's family gave her baby gifts. She looked over at her husband, and he gave her his thousand watt smile.
"Are you trying to tell me something, Carlos?" Stephanie asked teasingly.
"I'm ready, Babe." He replied, walking toward her and lacing their fingers together. "I want to make a baby with you." His mother and sisters grinned from ear to ear as they clapped their hands in excitement. Ranger had convinced them to buy Stephanie baby items for Christmas, and they worried that she wouldn't be ready. Seeing the mischief in her eyes, they knew they'd been wrong.
"I'm sorry, husband of mine. We can't do that." She told him seriously. The blank face that he'd stopped hiding from her months ago resurfaced, and the disappointment that was revealed in his slumped shoulders gave her the ammunition she needed to continue. Taking his free hand and placing it on her flat belly, she kissed him tenderly and whispered, "We already made a baby."
"Babe?" His eyebrows climbed into his hairline in shock. "Are you sure?"
"Yes. We made a baby during our honeymoon. I have an appointment at my OBGYN scheduled for next week to make it official, but I know my body." She explained. The grin that Ranger gave her was blinding. He wrapped his arms around her and spun them around as he laughed out loud.
"When were you planning on telling me this little piece of news?" Ranger asked her as he set her back on her feet again.
"Open your present from me, Ranger." She smiled, handing him a beautifully wrapped box.
Removing the gift wrap, he lifted the lid of the box and revealed a t-shirt inside, a Ziploc baggie with a little white stick and a box of Cuban cigars. Looking more closely at the baggie, he realized it was the home pregnancy test that Steph had taken. He lifted the lid of the box of Cubans and inhaled deeply. Looking at her in surprise, wondering how she managed to acquire the box of cigars, he lifted the t-shirt out of the box. Unfolding it, he revealed the black fabric with white lettering, which read "I physically planted evidence" with an arrow underneath pointing to the side. Raising his eyebrows in question, he watched Steph unzip her velour hoodie to reveal her own t-shirt, which was many sizes too big in the mid section, as he read the words, "I'm guilty of showing his love" with an arrow pointing to the opposite side. The two of them stood side by side facing the rest of his family, with arrows pointing toward each other, and everyone laughed and clapped in delight.
"Babe." Ranger smirked in amusement. "I love it." He bent down and kissed her lips softly. "I can't wait to see your belly grow big enough to fill out that shirt. Steph smiled lovingly up at him and pressed her lips against his again.
"Me neither. I'm so happy that you're happy. I was worried that you weren't ready yet, but after seeing the gifts from your family, I was so relieved." She admitted.
"I'm beyond happy, Babe. Life is better than I ever thought possible." He said seriously. "I love you."
"And I love you." She whispered back. "I can't wait to make more memories of us."
A/N: Thanks so much for all the reviews and support from all of you who read my story!