This was such a fun little story to write. Sorry it took a little longer than I expected to post the final chapter. Recovering from east coast snow storms and power outages, ugh!
Before I go any further, I just want to express my heart felt thanks to all of those that have left me reviews and love in the form of favorites and follows. I never in a million years expected the type of response I received from this little story! I have to admit that I discovered it is reading your comments of enjoyment that keeps me plodding along instead of casting what's written on top of the heap of unfinished projects that litter my life!
"Lizzie!" Red called out, wrapping on her door sharply before using his key and entering. "Are you ready for brunch, my dear?"
"I'm famished!' She answered coming down the stairs. "Let me just get my handbag and I'll be ready."
"You look even more lovely than the beautiful spring day we're having." He flattered, glancing admiringly at her when she joined him. His eyes assessed the pale salmon colored, simple sheath she was wearing along with a single strand of pearls. She smiled her thanks and waited while he closed and locked the door behind them. Dembe was already standing beside the Mercedes waiting to open the car door.
"Good morning, Liz" He greeted her, flashing a wide smile at her.
"Dembe, oh my! Do you have a hot date after brunch? You look fabulous!" Standing in front of the man that towered over her, she checked him out approvingly. Circling her forefinger she indicated that he should turn. He obliged, holding his arms out and doing a "vouge".
"Black suit, black shirt, black tie. You look exceptionally handsome!" Her hand reached out and patted his rib cage, feeling the gun and holster tucked under his arm. She glanced back at Red, "You boys must have been to see Harrington when you were in England. He's the only tailor I know of that can conceal a weapon like this underneath a suit."
Both men laughed as Red slid into the seat beside her.
Liz and Red, with Dembe close behind, followed their Host to the table, a small square for two. She looked up at Red who was holding her seat out. "Dembe isn't joining us?" Somewhat surprised since he frequently dined with them.
Red glanced at Dembe, who had positioned himself against a nearby wall, close to their table but still able to have clear vision on anyone leaving or entering the dining room.
"Anything special going on that requires him to stay on duty? He appears to be in 'full bodyguard mode'." Dembe, with his size and bulk was a hard man to miss even when he was trying to be discreet. Today it was obvious that he wasn't even making the attempt. She was only to aware of the fact that there still was and probably always would be a price on Red's head. As they eliminated more names from his list, the risk to his life decreased, but Liz doubted that there would ever be a time when Red was able to live a normal life.
"No...not at all, he must be in the mood to show off his new suit." Red gave her a easy smile. She leaned back in her chair and relaxed, winking at Dembe who had just happened to look at them.
The waiter came over and Red placed their order along with two Mimosa's. Turning his chair he angled it so that he was sitting beside her, instead of across from her. He placed his hand over hers on the table, his fingers warm as they lightly brushed her skin.
"Lizzie, I was thinking that it's been ages since any of us have been on a real vacation. I spoke to Harold and he said you had several weeks coming to you. What do you say, are you game for a nice leisurely rest from all the chaos and confusion of chasing bad guys?"
Her forehead creased in confusion. Vacation? "Red, we aren't that far off from catching number 54." She reminded him, not certain where this sudden idea had come from.
"Hmmm, yes, well I was thinking of seeing how well Donald might handle things." Green eyes looking completely innocent met her blue ones.
Confusion quickly turned to disbelief, Red let Donald handle one of his Blacklisters? "Hell must have just frozen over. Did I just hear you correctly?" Even after all this time, the two men still enjoyed antagonizing each other like toddlers.
"Think about it my dear, anywhere in the world you'd like to go. You deserve it. You've worked hard this last year. How about the Great Wall of China? Manchu Picchu?" He leaned in closer to her, his arm now resting across her shoulder, his forehead almost touching hers. His voice deep, suggestive, growling softly in her ear. "The Great Barrier Reef and then New Zealand, doesn't it sound like fun?" His fingers playing with the back of her neck, gently pulling at the pearls.
Liz looked at Red with sharp eyes, he definitely was in full blown out "relaxed Red" mode. The three of them traveled quite a bit and even though there was work to be done, she looked at their trips as a type of vacation. It was because of Red that she had started to see so many of the places she had only dreamed of. Certainly she spent far more time relaxing than working when they were away.
Their waiter interrupted them and Red scooted back to his side of the table, a jovial smile on his face as he tasted his lobster quiche.
"Are you planning to share that Lizzie," His asked a few minutes later, his voice cajoling as he leaned in to her, eyes sparkling with amusement. With a sigh, she scooped a spoonful of whipped cream off the top of her Bavarian Waffle and held it to his lips. Watching with fascination as the white confection disappeared in his mouth. She shook her head clear of where her thoughts wanted to take her. No daydreaming allowed! With the mood Red was in today, she needed to keep her wits about her and not be distracted.
"I've never understood why you don't just order this?" She pouted prettily, the banter between them familiar.
"And deprive myself of the pleasure of sharing yours? Really Lizzie, don't be so selfish." She fed him another spoonful of the whipped cream. Red was definitely working at being his most charming and of course hard as she tried, it was difficult to not be charmed.
Red speared a fresh strawberry off her plate and dipped it into the whipped cream, offering it to her in return. Liz bite down, her teeth severing the strawberry in half. "A little tart."
Red took the remainder of the strawberry and placed it in his mouth. "Yes, a tad. That's an idea, we could go Chile, the fruit there is absolutely marvelous!" He suggested, using his thumb to brush away a bit of the whipped cream from the corner of her mouth.
"Hmmmm" she replied noncommittally. Something was up with Red. She wasn't quite able to figure out what it was, but Red, was just being too RED. Last night he lectured her on not getting distracted from the Blacklist and today he was talking about vacations and leaving Donald, Donald of all people in charge. Not that Donald wasn't more than capable, it was just so out of character for Red to acknowledge that the agent just might be capable.
Their meal finished, they were lingering over coffee when Red motioned Dembe over and asked him to retrieve the car. A few minutes later, the check taken care of, Liz gathered her purse and stood. The walkway to the front was crowded and Red placed his arm around her waist, tugging her close to his side as they made their way to the front of the dining room. Their departure slowed as they waited politely for several patrons to pass on their way to be seated. Liz turned to ask a question about their case, the words catching in her throat before she could utter them.
Red, an arrogant, self satisfied, smug expression plastered on his face as he stared across the dining room at someone. Liz turned her head and followed his gaze, her stomach plummeting as she recognized the object of his attention. Daniel! Sitting at a table with two other men, staring right back at him. Red turned back to her, his expression guileless, his hand urging her out the door and into the sunlight.
Her initial reaction was one of complete shock as she tired to absorb and analyze what had just happened in the restaurant. As the event sunk in, the shock began to dissipate and anger began to take its place.
"We have the entire afternoon available to us. What would you like to do Lizzie? The new art exhibit, a walk in the park, packing for vacation? Dembe, tell her how we all need a break." Reds tone pleasant, as if the incident in the restaurant had never occurred.
"I want you to take to me home, Red." she replied coolly as Dembe pulled away from the curb and entered traffic.
"That sounds very relaxing. A Sunday afternoon at home. We can discuss our travel plans." He shot a sideways glance at her through hooded eyes before wisely turning his attention to his tablet to review any world shattering current events that may have occurred while they were at brunch.
Lizzie turned her head to look out the window, "stay calm, stay calm, stay calm" she kept repeating the mantra. The drive finished and Liz waited until Dembe opened the car door and she stepped out. Turning she held her hand out to stop Red and then she attacked. "Don't even think about coming in. I am absolutely furious with you. I don't know what game you are playing, but you can just stop now." The fury in her words evident.
"Lizzie, I'm sure I don't know what you are talking about" Red held his hands up in a display of offended innocence.
"Stop Red! You know exactly what I'm talking about. That bit in the restaurant. Let me ask you this - is there ever a time when you are with me that you are just actually with me - no never mind. Don't even bother to answer that question because your only going to lie! Don't call me! Don't talk to me, I am so finished with you! " She stormed away without a backward glance, unlocking the door to the house, she entered and slammed it shut.
Dembe looked down at Red, a question in his eyes along with a tinge of amusement.
"It's possible I over played my hand." Red reluctantly admitted.
"It appears as if you most likely did, Raymond." Dembe sympathized.
"Any suggestions, my friend."
"No, just remember she has a gun." He warned.
Red lifted his brows at that, "Perhaps a little time to cool off would be appropriate."
"That no good son of a bitch!" Lizzie fumed, pacing the floor between her kitchen and dining room. How dare he pull a stunt like that? How did he even know Daniel would be there and how did he even find out about him in the first place? She knew better than most how resourceful Red could be, but even for him, he had acted quickly.
Reaching into the fridge she poured half a glass of orange juice and then found a bottle of vodka and topped the glass off. She violently stirred the drink and took a deep swallow, she needed something to calm her temper. She could feel her heart beating rapidly with barely controlled anger as she stared out the kitchen window, tapping her foot with frustration.
This whole situation with Red had gone on far to long. It was her fault, she admitted. Always wanting something just out of reach. Always hoping for something more from him. Always waiting for his next touch, his next kiss, reveling in the way he could made her feel so safe and secure. Cherished. It was a freaking sickness!
The man didn't want her, he just wanted to be able to control every aspect of her life. Keep her right under his thumb. He was like a kid dragging a bone and she was the damn dog following it, never catching it and to dumb to know better. Well she was finished. Finished mooning over the oh so wonderful, Raymond Reddington and his little games. He wasn't going to control her life any longer, it was time she found her backbone and bit him back.
She was still seething as she tossed back the remainder of her drink and heard the front door quietly open. She had been expecting it, knowing quite well that Red wasn't going to let anyone have the last word, especially not her. She had turned the deadlock on the door, why she didn't know, maybe a show of defiance, even though it was a pointless act. It would only have taken him a few minutes to pick it open, she didn't think there was a lock made that he couldn't trip.
"Elizabeth, I'm sorry about this entire situation. Let's sit down and we'll discuss it calmly and rationally." His words husky, rolling down her back seductively, trying to coax her anger away.
Setting the hairs on the back of her neck on edge.
Had he totally lost his mind? The colossal nerve of the man! She turned and glared at his relaxed appearance, shirt sleeves rolled up as he leaned casually against the wall in the dining room. He must have removed his suit jacket when he had entered the house, making himself comfortable, acting as if he had a right to be here. Like there was any chance in hell that she was going to let him stay. Cocky son of a bitch, she could feel the adrenaline starting to pump through her veins. The drink she had consumed spurring her on recklessly.
"Our entire morning together was nothing but a charade Red. A setup for some game you're playing in which I'm the pawn." The words crisp and hard, refusing to back down or be lulled by whatever lie he decided to tell her.
"That's not so Lizzie. You misunderstood everything." Watching her with an indulgent look that only flamed her anger.
"Really? You expect me to believe that you didn't know who that was and you expect me to believe that you didn't set this entire thing up? There is nothing to misunderstand. Not only that, you roped Dembe into going along with you." Did he really think he was going to charm his way out of this? Of course he did, why wouldn't he? After all, he thought he could control everything and up to now he had.
"It's not as it seems, Elizabeth. You need to understand that you are committed to the Blacklist and that means your committed to me. I told you last night you can't afford to devote time to relationships." Red stated matter of factually as he pushed off the wall and started to enter the kitchen.
"Relationships? You have no business getting involved in any relationship I choose." She held her hand up in motion to stop him from coming any closer. Her face flushed with sudden realization.
"You... you..." She sputtered, her fury causing her to choke on the words. "You were behind my other dates, weren't you?" Red's face remained impassive at her accusation.
"John Simons?" She demanded, her voice rising with outrage.
"The District Representative? Really Lizzie, not even good enough to breathe the air around you." He brutally dismissed the man, ignoring her shriek of fury.
Her eyes fell on a bowl of fresh oranges and she picked one up, hurling it at him, angered even more when he neatly sidestepped it.
"How dare you! Tom Mason? What about him?" She searched for an object of more substance.
"Lizzie, he was a JUNIOR attorney. Get serious." His eyes narrowed to slits as she whipped a kitchen cabinet door open and reach for a plate and flung it at him. It bounced off his chest and landed on the ceramic tile floor, shattering, the pieces flying. The noise urged her on and she threw a second one at him, missing. "You are unbelievable, all this time I thought it was me and it was YOU. You were the one causing me to be stood up!" The depth of his deception sent blood rushing to her head.
"Jason Bouvair?" Of course she now knew the answer to that as well, since Red seemed to finally have no issue in admitting the depth of his sins. Bastard!
Red gave an exasperated sigh, "Lizzie, the man's hobby was how many women he could bed in a weekend. You really need to work on your intuitive skills before you're ready to date. My dear, I only have your very best interests at heart. If they were men worth having then I wouldn't have been able to frighten them off so easily." His explanation matter of fact.
Even though Lizzie agreed reluctantly with his misguided point, she wasn't about to give him the satisfaction.
"I am not your 'dear' and I am never going to forgive you for interfering in my personal life. I mean it Red. we are done!" She shouted at him.
"Calm down Lizzie, you're having a hissy fit. If you'll let me I'll explain..." He took another step forward, before the look in her eyes stopped him and he thought better of it..
"Hissy fit? How dare you! And how dare you try and control such a personal part of my life. These are my choices." She felt as if she were outside of herself, listening to a mad woman screaming uncontrollably.
"Then make better choices." He replied calmly, patronizing as if she were a child. His entire attitude only inflaming her rage at him.
"Ahhhh" She shrilled, nostrils flaring and her eyes tight with fury as she stared at him. Taking a deep breath she slowly counted and held it - one, two, three, four before exhaling out and doing it again. "All right, tell me what was wrong with Daniel?" Pleased that her voice had lowered several octaves.
"Ah well...yes...Doctor Stewart is a different fish entirely." He ducked as the plate flew over his head, joining the shards of the others on the floor.
"Dr. Daniel would actually make a quite suitable candidate for you Lizzie." He continue on, pretending he hadn't noticed the plate that almost took off his ear.
She had already grabbed another dish, ready to throw it at him, but stopped in mid fling and waited for him to continue.
"A little old perhaps at forty-nine, but well educated, not a womanizer, solid reputation. He comes from old family money, former military, widowed for ten years. Yes, all in all, he would be acceptable." Red stated the man's qualities as if he were reviewing a ten point car inspection.
"What?" The sarcasm rolled off her tongue. "You weren't able to scare him off, so you had to put on that little show instead? Make me feel like a piece of meat on display." She couldn't help the tears that started to streak down her face. Furious with herself for displaying any sign of weakness she stamped her foot and brushed them away. Dammit! She refused to spend anymore time crying for this man.
"Some men you can scare off with threats or money. Other men, including your Doctor, respond best to simply being shown that the woman they're interested in, is simply not available. They have honor and they respect another mans...for want of a better word - property. I have no doubt your Doctor falls into that category." Red's voice wasn't in least apologetic and Lizzie could only stare at him in amazement at his arrogance and his assumption that she was his property.
She tilted her chin, "I liked him Red." She told him defiantly.
"Yes, well, too bad about that." His expression once again smug.
She couldn't help but glare in outrage, he was such an ass. "You arrogant bastard! How did you even find out about him?"
"I saw you leaving with him. A simple call to the limo company and the rest was just child's play. You should know that by now Lizzie." That condescending tone that she so detested back in his voice.
"Well you quite successfully accomplished what you set out to do. I can imagine what he must be thinking of me. Tell me what else you've done, because I find it hard to believe that you have limited yourself to my social life."
Her mind rapidly reviewing the million and one other things that Red had his hand in over the last year. And then it struck her, "My God Red! My inheritance, my house! My freaking house!. Do I even own this place?" She shouted, flinging yet another dish at him.
"All your investments are your own Lizzie, though I will admit they were high risk and I was quite prepared to back any loss. As for the house, don't be ridiculous, you have the deed." Flicking an imaginary piece of lint off his shirt sleeve.
"How much did I pay for the house?" It would appeared that the deal she thought at the time was to good to be true, had indeed been to good to be true.
"You wrote the check, you should know." Red replied, seemingly careless, acting as if he were bored with the conversation.
"All right, let me rephrase this. How much did you pay?" By the time she finished with him, he would be so sorry he had ever heard her name. She would make his life hell on earth, she vowed.
He didn't answer her, instead she caught his tongue working the inside of his mouth. A sure sign that something was amiss.
"Oh my God Red, I'm right!" The impact of how great the interference in her life had been sent her mind reeling.
Red once again started towards her, his intent not clear to her even though his determination was.
"Stop right there." She reached behind her back and pulled open a kitchen drawer, her hand reaching deep into the back. Without taking her eyes off of him, she pointed the revolver at him.
Red stopped moving towards her and he held his hands up in mock surrender. "I just wanted to protect you, keep you safe, make certain your life was comfortable. Is that so terrible?" His arrogant attitude from before, replaced with one of tender concern and apology.
"Ha" she scoffed, enraged at the extent of his deception. "You just wanted to keep me close, under your thumb to protect your precious Blacklist. Try again." Her eyes narrowed as he took a step towards her, daring her to shoot him.
"Dammit Red, I told you not to move and I meant it. She aimed the gun and squeezed the trigger, the shot reverberating around the room. Red glanced over his shoulder and couldn't help but smile. Her aim had been perfect, right between the eyes of the portrait hanging on the wall behind him.
A violent shudder racked through her body as the realization of what she had just done washed over her. She looked at Red, his composure unchanged as he glanced from the painting back to her. Ashamed of her behavior, she dropped the gun back into the drawer and slammed it shut, her anger and rage disappearing in a puff being replaced with an overwhelming sense of loss.
She now understood how a person could lose such total control of their emotions and do unthinkable things. Turning away from him, she stared out the kitchen window. In a gesture of defeat she raised her open hands before placing them on the counter top, the granite cool against her fingers.
She felt, rather than heard him close the distance between them. The heat from his body radiating into her, warming away the coldness that had seeped into her. She focused on the scene in front of her. The cheery tree, blossoms drifting to the ground, a pink carpet on fresh green grass, the vivid blue of the pristine sky hurting her eyes.
"I would never do anything to willingly hurt you." His voice soft as a breeze, a bare whisper against her ear.
"I thought I was your friend, instead everything was just a game to you." The words were brokenhearted, their eerie calmness emphasizing how deeply she had been hurt.
For now she would stay strong, try not to humiliate herself any more than what she already had. The tears had stopped, her hands were no longer trembling. There was only the terrible pain of her heart breaking and the fear that whatever they had shared before was now lost forever. She felt his hand gently stroke her hair and she shuddered. Could hear him inhaling her scent and the puff of air as he exhaled.
"Your right Lizzie I never thought of you as a friend." The words solemn, regret heavy in his deep tone, a sadness marking them that she had never heard from him before.
She hadn't thought it would be possible for her to feel anymore pain than what she already did. She was wrong, her throat closed, choking her. She wouldn't cry anymore, could not cry anymore.
"...and yes, it was game for me." He finally confessed as he placed his forehead on the back of her head.
Hard as she tried, she could no longer hold back the tears that overflowed and she clenched her hand and softly pounded it on the counter. Red reached for her fist, covering it with his own.
"All of this, all of our time together, it was a game, but Lizzie, it was a game that I played alone. It was a game that allowed me to bring my dreams to life. Where I could pretend for a short time that we shared a life together. Where I wasn't a man that had already lived several more lives than you. That I wasn't a criminal and all the repercussions that comes with that." His arms circled around her waist and he stepped into her back, pulling them together, his cheek resting on her shoulder, his lips brushing her neck. She felt the shudder run through his body, vibrating against her.
Hesitantly, softly he began speaking again. "Every dance with you was our wedding dance. Every gift given, celebrated another anniversary. Every kiss, a pledge of my love to you."
Tears streamed helplessly from her eyes and she felt as if she were free falling, her balance displaced as she swayed, unable to take in and absorb what he was confessing to her. She was exhausted, to tired and drained to try and decipher if he was being honest with her or god forbid, still playing on her emotions.
"I didn't mean to hurt you Lizzie. If you want me to be your friend, I'll be your friend. But I can't promise you that I can stop the game. It's all I have, it's the only thing that's real in my life." The words a deep growl, filled with regret and apology.
She shook her 'no' in response and his arms tightened even more around her. "How could you have not known how much I love you?" She finally whispered. There ... the words were said, admitted finally.
"No, you don't love me. Tolerate me. Sometimes think fondly of me. Infatuated perhaps, but love, no Lizzie. You can't love me, there is nothing in me to love. If there was I would have told you ages ago how I felt about you." He confessed.
She shook her head back and forth, silently disagreeing with him. Still not facing him, afraid of what she would see, afraid of what she might not see.
"I know what would happen Lizzie, you would wake up one day and realize just what you had thrown away. Your future, your career, caught up with someone you now despised because they seduced you. You are the most moral person I know and I have no morality left, I lost it long ago when I chose to live the life I do."
"I never took you for a coward Red. You're a liar, a cheat, even an ass...but coward?" She turned and faced him, searching his face and found what she was looking for. Reaching up with both hands she placed them on his chest and firmly pushed him an arms length away and then dropped her arms to her side.
"I'm not a child or a silly girl who doesn't know what she wants or feels. I want you and I'm not afraid of a future with you. And I can absolutely guarantee you that I will never stop needing, wanting or loving you. I don't want to hear about the choices you've made in your life. I don't want to hear about your age. I don't want to hear any more excuses."
His green eyes, pupils dilated stared deeply at her and she saw the glimmer of trust and hope in them.
"Step up to the plate...or step back." She dared him, her breath catching in her throat as she waited.
"Ah Lizzie, my love." He stepped forward and closed the space between them. His hands wrapped around her waist as his mouth met hers in a kiss that pledged his love forever.
Dembe leaned against the side of the Mercedes, arms crossed as he waited for the inevitable. Black suit, black shirt, black tie. He didn't acknowledge the man that joined him and took up the wait beside him.
They eavesdropped as best they could through windows that were closed. The sound of a woman's voice raised in anger, the crashing of dishes. The muted muffle of what sounded like a gun shot. At that, the man looked questioning at him.
Dembe shook his head 'no' and briefly smiled.
They continued to wait until silence was the only sound heard.
"Do you think there is any chance for a rebound?" The remark casual.
Dembe chuckled, "No my friend, there is no chance of a rebound."
The man nodded, not particularly surprised by the answer.
"I have front row tickets to the Soccer event playing today at the sport arena. Care to join me?"
Dembe turned, looked at him, "It would appear as if I have the rest of the day off. I'd like that." After all, he did look damn good. Black suit, black shirt, black tie.
Daylight was gone, along with dusk and darkness coated the bedroom with only the dim glow from the bedside lamp shadowing the room. Liz laid on her side, Red spooned against her, smooth legs tangled with his. His arms wrapped around her waist, one hand splayed on her stomach the other cupping her breast. Now that he had her, the thought of letting her loose was unbearable. Both were sated from hours spent making love, discovering each other, reveling in the intimacy they had finally shared.
"Have you thought of that vacation?" Red murmured in her ear, gently biting her lobe.
"Mmmmm, we could spend it right here, in this bed." She suggested, happy with the knowledge of knowing he loved her.
"We could at that." His hand traveling south to warmer areas.
She stretched, again feeling him grow hard as he pressed his against her backside. A giggle of delight escaped from her lips. "We could go back to Austria."
His hand began to work his magic on her as his mouth alternated between kissing and biting her neck.
"Sounds delightful. Anywhere you want to go, anything you wish to do." He would move mountains to keep this woman content at his side.
She grew still and Red felt the sudden tension in her body, his stomach clenched with worry and his hands stopped their exploration. "What's wrong Lizzie, what are you thinking?"
She turned, facing him, her eyes searching his face, serious. "You said anything I want. Did you really mean it?"
"Yes, anything. That is my pledge to you."
"I don't want this life anymore Red. The FBI, the Blacklist, Washington. I just want you - I want us to be." The words whispered, fearful, but she refused to ever be anything less than honest with him.
Red sat up in the bed, his eyes hard as he stared at her. "Are you certain? Very certain of this Lizzie?" He couldn't imagine that she would willingly give up everything that she had worked so hard to achieve. Her career, her reputation, even her identity.
She nodded, eyes wide, fingers brushing the tight curls on his chest, "How do you feel about it? Would you be able to walk away from your list?'
"In a heartbeat my love. Donald can deal with the few remaining names that are left." Not daring to believe how fortunate he was that she would walk away from everything, just to be with him. To spend their lives just being."
"What will Cooper do, what will he say?" Her voice nervous, fearful that they would be forced to battle the FBI. To become the hunted instead of the hunters.
Cooper wouldn't be a problem, the FBI wouldn't be a problem, he had far to much information on both for that to ever be a concern. "He will wish us good luck Lizzie." His words confident, no other explanation needed. She knew him well enough to understand what remained unsaid.
"Will you make an honest woman of me?" She teased him, knowing the answer. He leaned his back against the headboard, strong arms circling her waist as he pulled her onto his lap, her legs straddling him. Face to face.
"The question you should be asking me is 'can you make an honest man of me?' and the answer to that is 'yes'."
And they lived happily ever after (along with the man in the black suit, black shirt and black tie). ;-)