Please read our short set-up story, The REAL World, first as this takes place the same day.
There are also a few references to "Nice to Meet You" but it's not necessary to have read that one first.
Notes: For Mari and Sammy – thanks for inviting me to McRoll with you! It has been a blast and we are just getting started, ladies!
And for all of the readers who have been patiently waiting since we announced we were doing this – thank you for your incredible support!
Ragù (A McRoll in the REAL World Story)
Steve closed the front door behind him and dropped his keys on the end table. Looking around, he called out, "Cath?"
"In the kitchen," she replied.
He crossed the room and stepped through the open doorway to see Catherine stirring the contents of a large pot on the stove.
"Hey," she said, looking up at him. "Hope you're hungry."
"Mm, ragù," he observed, coming closer. "You must've gotten a hold of Grandma Ang."
Catherine smiled at him as he moved behind her, a hand at her waist. "She says, 'Hello.' "
"Lemme see that," he said, taking the spoon from her hand and leaning over her shoulder to taste the sauce. He closed his eyes in pleasure. "Mmm, that's so good."
"And you have good timing. It's just about ready to eat."
"Excellent." He handed the spoon back to her and went to the sink to wash his hands.
As she tossed the sauce with the pasta, Steve gathered bowls and silverware, placing them on the island between them.
"So, you reassured her everything's fine?" he asked.
"Yeah, I don't think she was really worried," she answered, her back to him.
"She's got nothing to worry about. Not where we're concerned anyway."
Her smile widened but she stopped herself from grinning outright as she glanced back over her shoulder at him.
"Wine?" he asked as he held up a bottle, his own smile firmly in place.
Catherine walked out of the kitchen holding two full bowls. Not seeing Steve in his usual place on the couch she glanced around and saw him setting two glasses of wine on the table in the dining room.
"Ooh, at the table and everything? Classy," she teased, smiling as she joined him.
"Wait for it," he said and held up a finger. He pulled a lighter from his pocket and lit the candle he'd set in the middle of the table.
"Very nice touch," she chuckled and set the bowls down next to the silverware and napkins he'd laid out.
He smiled in response as they took their seats. Raising his glass, he waited for her to do the same. He tilted the glass in her direction. "Cheers," he said.
"Cheers." They sipped their wine and Catherine nodded her approval. "Mmm, good choice."
Steve lifted his fork and began to eat. Swallowing, he motioned with the utensil. "You know, the first time I met your grandmother, she told me you make this even better than she does."
She shook her head. "Not possible."
"I'm just telling you what she said," he replied with a shrug.
They continued to eat in companionable silence. After finishing his first bowlful, he went to the kitchen for another. Returning to the table he noticed she was swirling her wine around her glass with a thoughtful expression.
"What's up?" he asked as he sat again.
She focused back on him. "I was actually thinking about going to see her soon. My grandma," she clarified. "It's been a while, you know."
"Yeah," he agreed immediately. "We could do that."
She raised her eyebrows. " 'We'?"
"Yeah, I mean, I'd like to see her," he said with a shrug, nodding. "Your parents, too."
Catherine smiled, genuinely pleased. "Okay."
"Maybe we could make a side trip, go see Aunt Deb," he suggested.
"Yeah," she nodded. "Yeah, I think that's a really good idea," she said seriously.
"We should do it soon. I'll look into some flights."
"Okay," she agreed, not surprised that he had moved quickly into planning mode. She watched as he tucked into his second bowl of ragù and smiled at his easy agreement to taking time to see family.
Catherine stood with her empty bowl, motioning across the table at Steve's.
"More? Or are you good?" she asked as she came around the table toward him.
"I'm good, thank you. That was excellent."
She placed her bowl in his. He slid his chair back from the table and took her by the wrist, pulling her into his lap.
"I remember the first time you made ragù for me," he said, settling his arms around her waist.
She smiled and looped her arms around his shoulders. "Well, I had promised my grandmother."
"I swear, I did not put her up to that."
"Oh, I know. That had Grandma Ang written all over it. And I knew she'd keep asking if I'd made it for you every time I talked to her, so next time we both had leave I made sure I had all the ingredients on hand."
"Yeah, it wasn't actually that long after I met her and your mom, was it?"
"Don't forget Aunt Louise," she teased.
"Who could forget Aunt Louise?"
She laughed and said, "Oh, I wish I'd been there to see your face when she told you she used to date a SEAL, but that you were more handsome than he was."
"I think I handled myself very well that trip," he observed, one corner of his mouth tugging up in a smile.
She nodded her agreement, still chuckling at the memories of her family's early interactions with Steve.
"But back to our first ragù dinner . . ." he continued. "That was some night. Several of your talents were on display, if I remember correctly," he murmured as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to her jaw.
"Ah ah ah," she said, pushing him back. "Dishes first."
"What?" He gave her an incredulous look.
"I cooked, you clean," she insisted as she stood from his lap. "Ground rule," she reminded him when he continued to stare at her in disbelief.
Steve sighed heavily, his head hanging in defeat. "Where's Jerry when you need him? That guy actually liked doing the dishes."
He stood and started to collect their plates and silverware while she walked toward the living room.
"I don't think you want Jerry around for what we're doing later," she said, glancing over her shoulder at him and shaking her head.
Steve stopped and looked at her, his interest clearly piqued.
"You have my attention."
Catherine smiled suggestively. "You've got me thinking about that first time I made you ragù. Or rather . . . what we did after."
His expression morphed into a broad grin.
"Don't take too long, Commander," she advised, turning toward the stairs.
He kept his eyes on her as she walked away. "Roger that."
Note: Look for the companion stories about the actual visits coming soon.
Hope you enjoyed!