Hi everyone, here is the next part. We get to find out the sex of the baby! Also to M, who is a guest reviewer, who begged for twin from the start I have to say sorry but there will only be one baby. I happen to be a twin and it is not a cool as one would have thought. I guess the last chapter wasn't very good, based on the lack of response :( makes me a little sad. Hope you all respond better to this one. Im not sure about my updating schedual the next few days but i'll try, this one is longer then usual just in case. Review for faster updates ;). Anyway Enjoy.
As Stephanie's 6 month check-up approached the debate on seven turned to whether or not they would find out the sex of the baby before it was born. Lester was all for finding out ahead of time, as was Ranger, but Stephanie liked the idea of a surprise. The two men managed to wear her down though; they were working on reformatting Ranger's office into the baby's room and wanted to go all out. It seemed to help when they pointed out that she could do more shopping for the right things if they knew the sex, so she agreed they would find out.
The morning of the ultrasound all three were on eggshells. Stephanie teased that it had to be a girl, thinking of the two men's pasts and how karma seemed to like to fuck with them. Both men started plotting ways to keep a possible girl away from all male interactions, they seemed to like the Rupunzel fairytale and were hoping to intergrade it into Rangeman. Stephanie smiled to herself; call it mother's intuition, but she was sure it would be a beautiful little boy. She secretly hoped she was right and that he would inherit more of the Manoso DNA, she wanted her son to look like his father, thought Lester's green eyes would be cute.
The ultrasound technician confirmed Stephanie's suspicions. There was a little boy inside her. All three of them had tears running down their faces as they watch their little boy on the screen. She begged the technician to take more photos as she was sure everyone would want one.
After the appointment, she rushed them to her parents' house, hardly able to contain her excitement at telling her father he would indeed be getting the grandson he wanted. She all but threw the photo at her mother before jump, wrapping her arms around her father and squealing that the baby was a boy. Frank picked his daughter up and spun her around, finally he was getting that boy he wanted, though he had to admit Stephanie was almost as good as any boy might have been.
Frank was thrilled; he pulled the two men into the garage for celebratory cigars that Ranger provided. Frank was also more astute than the rest of the household, much more than anyone really gave him credit for. He had wondered about why it was that both Ranger and Lester escorted his pumpkin everywhere, and why it was that the picture that had caused scandal throughout the 'Burg had hardly seemed to faze his daughter. He knew his pumpkin and she would not have put up with a cheating partner, but he could tell she was deeply upset though she hid it well.
They had previously visited the Plum household and explained that the date on the photo was faked, making the photo appear recent. Ranger was sorry his past was embarrassing their family. Frank knew that was a load of crap. His friend, a fellow cabbie, had come to him one morning, he remembered it to be around the date the photo proclaimed, telling him about the fare he had the night before - he thought the man had been Stephanie's boyfriend. The fare appeared to be drunk and he was with another woman, literally in his back seat. His friend wanted Frank to know, as he had a soft spot for his friend's daughter. He didn't want her hurt.
The men took a few drags of their cigars before Frank began.
"There are two things I want to talk to you about," he addressed Ranger, "First, I know that picture was accurate and I want you to know that if you step out on my daughter again I will find a way to hurt you. And secondly, I would like to know which one of you is the true father of my daughter's child."
The men were shocked. They had underestimated Frank. Lester actually choked on his cigar, and had to bend over to catch his breath.
Both Ranger and Frank rolled their eyes at each other.
"Sir," Ranger began, "I promise you now that I will never hurt your daughter again. I am extremely sorry about what happened that night; I regret nothing in my life more than what I did then. As for the father of your grandson, I will be his father. Lester may have fathered the child, (*1) about two weeks before Stephanie and I got together, but I will be the child's father. Lester happens to be my cousin, so we are hoping that no one will question the child's parentage. I cannot give your daughter a child of our own, and we have chosen to take this as a gift."
Frank nodded, he had suspected as much. "I understand. I'm willing to put the mistake down to a one time act of stupidity. It takes a strong man to take on another man's child. I hope it works out for the three of you."
"Has anyone else noticed?" Ranger asked - he knew Stephanie would not be happy if her mother found out what actually happened.
"As if! Helen is just so happy that Steph's settled down with a baby on the way that the baby could be born with purple skin and green hair and she wouldn't notice. She thinks Lester is the baby's body guard, like you told us the first time you visited us to talk about it."
The two men shook hands, and then looked over at the still spluttering Lester, his lungs where still not cleared and the purple skin comment started in full force again.
"I'm kinda glad she decided to marry you, Ranger. One clown is all this family needs." Commented Frank as they looked down on Lester.
They decided it was best not to mention to Stephanie that her father was on to them, and they drove to the Manoso's house in silence.
Things had settled down at Casa Manoso, once the immediate shock had worn off. Stephanie was still anxious though. She had gone over for family meals a few times since that first meeting. Most of the family adored her; both sets of sibling thought she was great. She always spent a little time alone with Lester's dad; he was a great guy and she enjoyed his stories about the two most important men in her life, especially because he always told her the good bits no one else knew. Sadly, Lester's mother, Chamayra and Ranger's father, Ricardo, were still very cold towards her. His mother Maria, once she calmed down, seemed almost as in love with her as Ranger was. She called at least once a day to check that Steph and hr grandchild, were okay, always listened to what Steph had to say, and suggested many ways to make the pregnancy easier.
Helen like to call often too, but it was more to try and gather more gossip fodder than anything else. She also called to remind Stephanie of a woman's proper place, and sometime to nag, or moan, or gossip, or criticize but never to actually talk or listen.
When they arrived at the Manoso house, Lester's parents were already there and the wonder smells from the kichen that met them in the doorway had Stephanie salivating.
"Oh Stephie, you look beautiful" Maria called from down the hall, not having seen her since she had begun to show.
"Stephie?" repeated Lester to Ranger, who had raised an eyebrow at the nickname.
"Babe" was all he said and then he swiftly dodged the elbow that she sent sailing into his ribs. Lester once again was not so lucky as he had been too busy laughing to pay attention. 'Ooph' was heard from him as leaned against the wall trying to catch his breath.
"Stephanie, was it really necessary to injure my son?" came the amused voice of Diego.
"Viejo," a nickname she had taken to using for him meaning 'old man' in Spanish, "He was being mean to me!" She pulled out an exaggerated pout for effect.
"Niña, you are such trouble" Diego replied with a huge smile as he opened his arms for a hug. Stephanie felt so loved when she was with Maria and Diego, who called her little girl is Spanish. She wished that their "other halves" were even half as nice as these two were. Since Ranger and Steph had married, it seemed that Ricardo, was now pretending she didn't exist.
They were settled around the table for dinner when Maria couldn't stand the suspense anymore, she knew they had had the ultrasound today, "So tell us, do we have a nieto or a nieta on the way?"
Stephanie took Ranger's and Lester's hands in hers before stating proudly, "We're going to have a son!" Ranger pulled one of the photos from his pocket and handed it to his mother.
Diego was the first to jump up and pull her into a hug, picking her up and swinging her around. "I'm so happy for you, Niña!"
Maria was hugging both men, tears of joy running down her face, as she looked at the picture.
Ricardo stood up too, but joy was the furthest thing from his face. He sucked in a breath as he watched the happy scene play out in front of him. It seemed that things had finally pushed him too far.
"Yes Diego, I would be happy for her too. She gets to continue sleeping with your son, while mine foots the bill for the result. Such stupid boys to be taken in by a puta! Is she really that good that she clouds your mind? The child may get to grow up with the prestige of the Manoso name, but it will never be welcome in my house. And until you two boys come to your senses neither shall you." (*6)
The family was shocked by this outburst. The happy atmosphere disappeared instantly. Stephanie sank into her chair, her legs not able to support her. The men stared at their Father/Uncle.
"Ricardo, how could you?" was all Maria could say before she ran from the room in tears; they had turned from tears of joy to ones of pain and humiliation. The photo of her newest grandchild still firmly in her hand.
Diego spoke up "Ricardo, you speak too harshly. You cannot mean that - you just got your son back. You have to see how happy they are?"
"Diego, your son is a hombre puta, and has passed his responsibility onto mine. You don't think he is not still enjoying the atorrante? She will take everything they have worked for, and I won't stand around and watch. Get out of my house, and do not return until you are ready to see the truth, through your eyes and not your pollas."
"Ricardo, you go too far!" Diego exclaimed.
"No Diego, my brother is right. She had somehow gotten her claws into you too and you are blinded to what she is." Said Lester's mother
"ENOUGH!" shouted a very pissed off Ranger. His rage emanated from him like a mist; his temper begging to be turned loose. "Diego está bien, te vas padre demasiado lejos. No voy a tener que decir esas cosas sobre mi esposa. Yo te prometo que ninguno de nosotros volverá a caminar a través de su puerta de nuevo. Adiós padre."
(Diego is right, you go too far father. I will not have you saying such things about my wife. I will promise you that none of us will ever walk through your door again. Good bye father.)
Ranger grabbed Stephanie, picked her up bridal style and carried her from the house. Lester stared at the man he once looked up to like a father, and at his mother standing tall by Ricardo's side. He shook his head, not even able to form words to disclose how disappointed he was in his family.
"Papa, I'll call you tomorrow. Be safe" and with that he left.
The drive home was silent; Stephanie's sobs were all that broke the air. None of them could really believe what had just happened. Ricardo showed he dissaproved of Stephanie but to say such things, well it was a shock to them all.
Once back at Rangeman, Ranger asked Lester to take her straight to Bobby for him to check her blood pressure and hydration level. Bobby's relationship with Ranger had deteriorated, with Bobby refusing to acknowlege Ranger outside of the profesional setting, and right now Ranger's fuse was too close to the end to risk seeing him.
Ranger headed straight for the gym. He could hardly believe what his father had said tonight. How could the man not see the light that radiated from his wife? To accuse her of being a gold digger, of carrying out an affair with Lester under his nose was just ridiculous. He would honour his promise and never again set foot in that house, nor talk to that hateful man. He would call his mother tomorrow and make plans so that she and Diego could visit when they wanted to but he was through with that man.
Lester took Stephanie to Bobby, who opted to sedate her; her blood pressure was high and he didn't want the baby to be distressed. Bobby asked Lester about what had happened. Stephanie and Bobby's relationship was still strained from their 'talk', but he was still worried about her. Lester told his friend about the disaster dinner had turn into.
As Bobby sat by Stephanie's bed in the infirmary, watching her vital signs and thinking, Lester took to the gun range. He couldn't face Ranger in the gym at the moment, feeling ashamed that his mistake had caused them both to loose one of their parents. Both men had always looked up to the partiarch of the Manoso family; that illusion had been shattered tonight. Lester knew that Ranger would never forgive what his father had said tonight. In fact, Lester was hurt as well; he never realised his uncle thought so little of him. Maybe he wasn't a 'prestigous Manoso', and no, he didn't own his own business like Ranger, but he was a partner in Rangeman, and he too had risked his life in the Army, just like Ranger did. Maybe not to the same degree as Ranger had, but he had still taken serious risks in defending his country. And to think that Ricardo believed he would continue to sleep with his cousins' wife. Lester was shaken and sad.
He felt he had single handedly ripped his family apart. He kept shooting until his eyes were blurry. Then he picked up his phone and called his father, just needing to hear his voice and gather any comfort his father could provied.
Love it? Hate it? Think there was too much drama? Want to predicted what will happen next? Well REVIEW! I have to say this chapter was going to be the beginning of the end, but i decided to throw another hurdle as so many people usually review, dont make me regret it :P