Brought to you by, I'm back on location! To the guest reviewer who got antsy last week, I might be shifting to Sunday postings now that I'm on location with work. If you have an issue, please file a formal complaint with my union. Also brought to you by weekend mimosas and group facetime. We cover three time zones, three cities, and two countries.
Some quotes are taken from Season 4, Episode 11, and Season 6, episodes 3 and 4. The opening quote is from the Starkid musical "Firebringer." It's the only part I know, and it makes me laugh on the days I can't be bothered to be productive. The Emergency Drawer in Elizabeth's desk is absolutely mine, taken from my desk at work.
'I don't really wanna do the work today. I don't really wanna do the work today. I don't really wanna do the work today. I don't wanna do the work today.
That's how she felt and nothing could change that. No coffee. No hearty breakfast. No exciting surgery. Nothing. Elizabeth knew she would have to manage, though, and get through the next few days. Andrew was arriving this week, and Elizabeth Corday could barely contain her excitement. Too bad it was about to make her late to meet Robert.
Her car was at the mechanics again, and she was catching a ride to work with Robert. The leased Mustang had been fun for her first year in Chicago, but she had never thought past the initial idea of only being here a year when she signed for it. At some point around March, it had started giving her issues, and Elizabeth had been far too caught up in surviving her internship to trade it in. Robert was now teasing her about it, though; it was never a major mechanical issue that sent it to the shop, but she wasn't familiar enough with American cars to do the maintenance, and she didn't have the time. Andrew and her father had been teasing her as well. 'Is your car still in the shop Elizabeth? Still driving an American car Elizabeth?' She had finally called the leasing company and told them she was turning it in soon. Part of Andrew's visit would be car shopping, and she knew he wanted her to pick something British and fast. Sitting in Robert's Jag as it sped through the streets of Chicago, she couldn't help but miss driving a proper car. Something where driving was an actual experience that warranted a weekend drive through the countryside.
Elizabeth had been so lost in her thought that she hadn't realized that Robert was speaking to her, something about a reporter from the Tribune showing up and blowing Robert's horn. A double entendre that she admitted was done to see if she was paying attention.
"You know, Robert, wouldn't you be better at doing that?"
"Well, look at you, look at me, who would you rather spend an hour with?"
"I don't know Robert if it's an hour blowing your horn..."
It was too easy; Robert was distracted enough by her remark that he almost ran the red light.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about sex."
Robert laughed and revved the engine, focusing on nothing but the road for the last few blocks to County.
County General ER lived up to its reputation of being a chaotic place to work with gunshot victims coming in as if there were revolving doors. This time the shooter wanted to finish the job and followed the victim to the ER, leading to a shoot out with a rent a cop. It was over and done with by the time the rumors made their way up to Surgery, and Robert was practically foaming out the mouth to get out of the OR. Unfortunately, the Gossip known as Shirley was in the OR with him and unable to collect information on what really happened. To find out if Elizabeth was alright.
Having Shirley in the OR was a downside for more than one reason. Robert knew she was smirking behind her surgical mask as she watched his agitation grow. Elizabeth had warned him to be careful around Shirley, and now he was giving her enough insight to top the gossip mill to Christmas. The head OR Nurse even had the gall to comment on being 'sure Dr. Corday was fine.' Robert made a note to have Lizzy put her on nights for a week for it. Hours had passed before he was able to get out of the OR and find her.
Standing in the observation room for OR 2, Robert watched as Elizabeth operated on her mastectomy patient. He had been a nervous wreck until he saw for himself that she was ok and got gotten more than a few looks from staff as he tore down the halls looking for her. A moment's hesitation in her usually precise actions, and she looked up from her procedure and made eye contact with him. It was enough for Robert to feel reassured and go back to work himself. He just needed to find Shirley and blackmail her into staying quiet. More importantly, Robert needed to prepare for the arrival of one Andrew Cameron. Things like putting the hospital on red alert and buying up all the scotch in Chicago. The prospect of meeting Elizabeth's godbrother was almost as terrifying as thinking she had been shot. It was time to buy a bottle or three of Bunnahabhain and hope for the best.
Several days had passed, and Robert was nervous. The article for the Tribune was coming out today, and Andrew's plane was landing this morning. Robert sat down in the kitchen with his coffee, determined to enjoy the article before what was sure to be a day of torture from one of Elizabeth's favorite people.
The coffee cup fell from his hands, and Robert let out a stream of expletives that would make a sailor blush and shamed Gretel from the room.
"What the fuck, Lizzy!"
The headline read 'Prescription for Danger, are You Safe at County General.'
He found her in the ER, of course.
"I certainly never meant to convey any deficiency at County, and how the hell could I anticipate a shoot-out, and not everything in the account was negative."
Robert was pissed and consequently was speeding through the ER's halls, making Elizabeth keep up with him as she tried to explain. Robert had forgotten entirely about the report after the shoot out, and this was clearly his punishment.
"You're right. I particularly enjoyed the description of Dr. Carter clamping off his first aortic rupture in an eight-year-old."
"Yeah, which as the account clearly states, was successful."
He was at the elevators now and impatient. Robert's home phone had started ringing that morning, and he knew his office phone wouldn't stop until this mess was cleaned up. Tired of waiting for the elevator, he was halfway up the stairs when Elizabeth commented about gladly giving up the front page. Robert stopped in his tracks, turning to give her a nasty look as he walked back towards her. He was dragging her with him now up the stairs as he carefully explained her job.
"Elizabeth, when you were given this job, it was specifically to look out for me and my needs. To smooth over my issues, not create your own. Right now, I'm questioning if you can do that. Am I wrong to have supported Donald in giving you this role?"
If Elizabeth had hackles, they would be raised. Or maybe her hair would just become frizzier than usual. Robert wasn't sure and didn't want to find out.
"No, Robert, you're not mistaken to have supported him in giving me my job."
Her tone of voice suggested he was about to get uninvited to dinner that night. Or perhaps she'd just feed him to the Scotsman. Sure Cameron grew up in London, but Robert knew they went to Edinburgh eve summer growing up, and the Scottish ate weird things. Haggis came to mind. Cameron was thankfully a surgeon and not a psychiatrist, though.
"Well, I'm glad to hear that."
Continuing up the remaining stairs, Robert fleeting told Elizabeth to clean up Anspaugh's schedule. He had more important things to do like fix her mess.
It was supposed to be a good day, and all Elizabeth had managed to do was piss everyone off. First, her boyfriend with the article, and then she was forced to pull rank on Peter and kick him out of a general surgery procedure. Robert should be thrilled with that, whilst she knew Anspaugh had given her a disappointed look when she had done it. Now she had to speak to Donald about his schedule, and she wasn't sure how she would manage it.
"I do need to talk to you, Donald, and I'm sorry to even mention it."
"Don't apologize; someone has to do the devil's work. No offense."
"Well, I'm relieved you see it that way."
"It's not easy managing colleagues."
"I'm beginning to realize that."
"When I was doing my rotten, much of which you've taken on, I always tried I get to the core of the issue. Ask yourself this, do you believe that Peter Benton is a good surgeon?"
Elizabeth left the scrub room in a daze. The conversation with Anspaugh had not gone as planned. Sidetracked by the topic of Peter, she hadn't managed to bring up the real issue at hand. Just another thing for Robert to be peeved with her over. She stepped out into the main hall and noticed that the energy on the surgical floor had changed. Ablaze with whispers and looks towards her, Elizabeth was caught off guard until she heard someone say her name.
"There's Dr. Corday." It was a nurse at the desk pointing towards her.
Andrew was standing at the front desk with a bag in hand. He dropped it upon seeing her, and they ran towards each other simultaneously. Meeting halfway, Andrew swept her up into his arms and spun her around, holding onto her for dear life. Face buried into his neck, her voice cracked as she spoke.
"I've missed you so much."
"As have I, Elizabeth."
They stayed locked in a long-overdue hug, and Elizabeth took in the unmistakable scent of her godbrother. A combination of cigars and surgical soap that she always associated with the men in her family.
"I best put you down before the nurses start to gossip. Do they have betting pools here? Because I think my presence might have started one."
With Andrew being a good head taller than her, Elizabeth had been lifted off the ground for the hug, and now back on her own feet, she got a good look at him. In full kit, Andrew was dressed to make an impression. His tweed jacket's earth tone colors allowed his kilt's bold red to stand out, cutting a striking figure down to his boots. It was no wonder the nurses had been staring.
"Honestly, Andrew, must you torment the nurses here by showing up in a kilt? They won't know what to do with you."
"Well, considering five women have given me their number since making it off the plane, I'd say they know exactly what to do with me."
Elizabeth laughed, unable to comment on the allure of a man in a kilt, having snogged several of them over the years.
"Does that mean you've gotten rid of the cow?"
"Christ, Elizabeth, she's not a cow. And at least one of us has a love life." he saw the secretive look on her face and pounced. "Oh. So you do have a boyfriend. I thought we talked about not leaving import things out of your emails home. You'll have to tell me all about him over dinner."
"You can meet him at dinner. That's if he isn't too cross with me to come." Elizabeth took off at that, not wanting Andrew to regain his footing in the conversation. "I'll take you to my office, and you can drop your things. A lovely thing having an office, a luxury I know you lack."
Her tiny office could barely hold herself and all of her paperwork, much less two people and a suitcase. After a little maneuvering, Andrew sat himself behind her desk and started going through everything. He was particularly interested in the drawer labeled 'open in case of an emergency.' It held a giant bag of M & M's and a bottle of Laphroaig, much to his delight. Elizabeth shut the door and crossed her fingers he wouldn't burn the place down whilst she was gone, needing to find Robert and discuss Anspaugh as well as determine if they were still on for dinner.
Elizabeth found herself outside of Robert's office. The door was closed, and she was about to reach for it when the man himself opened it and stepped out, taking off down the hallway yet again, making her follow him to keep up.
"Lizzy, did you talk to Anspaugh?"
"And how'd he take it?"
"He didn't. I didn't discuss it with him."
"What you didn't get around to it?"
"I hope that when you backed me for this position, our relationship, and my surgical skills aside, you did it because you trust my judgment."
"Now, if I'm going to protect your interests, then I have to tell you it's in you're best interests to keep Donald Anspaugh happy. Not only is he a great asset to the surgical staff and to you, but he's also a special consideration. Now, if this interferes with your tennis lessons in anyway, then I'm sorry-"
"I don't play tennis."
"Whatever, the point is if you want to push Donald out-"
"Woah. Woah. Woah. Woah. Who said anything about pushing Donald out?"
"Well, I assumed-"
"You assumed? Assumed instead of just asking me? Lizzy. When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me."
"Never mind. Look, I just wanted Fridays off, I thought that you could talk to Donald about the OR schedule, but if you're not comfortable doing that, I understand."
"Oh. Yeah, that's alright."
"In the future, try and remember that it's Kerry and not Donald that I like to torture. Do you really think that I- Never mind."
What was she thinking? Robert didn't even want to know. Walking away from Elizabeth to answer his page left a bitter taste in his mouth. Working as Chief of Surgery with his girlfriend seemed like a blessing when it first happened, and now Robert realized it was going to be more challenging than he thought. They had always made a good team in the OR, and he believed that would translate with relative ease to their new admin jobs. Instead, it had just made a mess of things.
There was still meeting Andrew to look forward too, who had apparently arrived if the gossip was to be believed. Nurses were giggling everywhere about 'the Man' that was waiting in Dr. Corday's office. At least the gossip had quenched the whispers going around about how Robert sat outside the OR, giving Elizabeth puppy dog eyes after the shoot out.
The rest of the afternoon dragged on for Robert as he went around trying to put out fires. Stuck in meetings and phone calls all day, he hadn't stepped foot into an OR once. To make matters worse, the vending machines were out of M&M's, and he had taken it out on his secretary Brenda, who had fled to god only knows where to hide. Probably a bar if she was smart. And now he was being watched. Robert refused to look up from his work to acknowledge whoever was standing in the doorway and instead decided to give them a verbal lashing.
"Whoever the hell you are, perhaps you should get out; I've got enough on my plate as is and don't need more piled on by whatever mess you've probably made."
A snort was the response given, and Robert glanced up, prepared to glare at the audacity of the visitor. Standing in the doorway was Andrew Cameron, looking every bit intimidating. Standing at 6 feet tall with thick curly hair in a dark auburn shade and dressed in a kilt and tweet jacket. And he was eating a damn bag of M&M's. Cameron just smirked back at him, popping a handful of Robert's favorite sweet into his mouth.
"You know Elizabeth did warn me that today was absolute shit, part of it her own making albeit unintentional. The woman tried to lock me in her office but didn't trust me not to muck up all her paperwork. So I've been wandering about whilst she's been in surgery, stirring up the local gossip, flirting with the nurses."
Andrew moved out of the doorway, electing to take a seat in front of Robert's desk, still eating the M&M's.
"And you thought coming here and harassing me was the next best thing to harassing Lizzy?"
Andrew's mouth fell open a little, and his hand missed his face, dropping the precious sweets on the floor.
"Lizzy? You call her Lizzy?"
"To her face?"
"And she's not hit you?"
"No. Why would she hit me?" It was Robert's turn for his mouth to be agape.
"She hates nicknames."
"I've called her Lizzy since London, and she's never once corrected me."
"Well. That explains quite a bit. No wonder my Uncle Charles doesn't like you if you've gotten away with calling her that. She must like you immensely; god knows she's hit me enough over calling her something other than Elizabeth."
Robert leaned back in his chair, feeling more than a little smug at this discovery. As frustrating as the day had been for him, it made him smile a little, knowing that he was the only one to get away with the use of the name. Even when she had corrected Dale the Weasel in surgery, she hadn't corrected him when he used it right after. His Lizzy indeed.
"These are yours." Andrew passed the bag of M&M's to Robert. "Elizabeth had them in a drawer labeled 'Open in case of Emergency.' There was a bottle of whisky in there as well, but I figured that was for late nights with paperwork and not late afternoons. She warned me off eating them, but I'm feeling somewhat peckish and couldn't help myself. Figured it would be alright if I split them with you."
Whisky and M&M were in her emergency drawer. He needed an emergency drawer, but apparently, Lizzy was looking out for him. Part of Robert's frustration melted away as he snacked on his favorite candy, appreciating that it was a jumbo bag she had bought.
"And who exactly showed you where my office was?"
"Oh no one, I just went in the opposite direction of your screaming secretary. You might want to buy her some chocolate mate."
"It's been a hell of a day."
"Yes, I read the paper. I'm thinking of getting it framed for Elizabeth's office, but I'm afraid she might chunk it at me. Perhaps that's an after-dinner thing. Speaking of, when are the two of you off? A man cannot survive on sweets alone, and I'm not fool enough to drink the woman's whisky without asking."
"She is part camel when it comes to single malt."
"I'm part what?"
They had been too caught up eaten chocolate and swapping stories like teenaged girls to notice that Elizabeth was standing in the doorway. No longer in scrubs, she was dressed in street clothes and ready to leave.
"Dearest, loveliest, Elizabeth. We did not see you standing there with your ferocious glare."
"Cut the bullshit, Andrew. Clearly, the two of you have met and broken into my desk."
"It was an emergency Lizzy; the vending machines were out of M&M's."
"Robert, they were just stocked last week. Ughh. Look, we need to leave in ten minutes to make our dinner reservation, is that going to be an issue?"
"No, Lizzy, let me put away my work, and we can leave. I'll meet you at the car."
"You two drive-in together?"
"I don't have my car anymore; I turned it in this week. You and I are going car shopping Saturday morning. "
"My prayers have been answered."
They managed to make it to the restaurant in one piece, the drive having reminded Robert of the more playful and easy-going moments with his own sister. Andrew decided that he and Robert would get on based purely on the fact that Robert drove a Jag, and Robert could appreciate a man with good taste in cars. It had been an eye-opening dinner, seeing Elizabeth at ease around her brother. And that's what he essentially was. Side by side, they could easily pass as siblings, and Robert was startled to find out that they had been born a week apart. Sent off to the same school, they grew up more like twins than family friends, which showed in their interactions.
Robert was also startled to find that Elizabeth hadn't mentioned that she was seeing someone before today. Andrew was by no means shocked at the news, Elizabeth had been rather vague about how she spent her summer, and most of her emails had mentioned Robert in one way or another. Robert was please with that, though. The knowledge that even if she wasn't ready to put their relationship in writing to her family, the fact that she gave so much away about his involvement in her life made his heart soar. She loved him, and it was apparent to the man that was for all intents and purposes her brother.
As weekend plans were discussed, Robert proposed meeting Max and Jo for a late lunch on Saturday. Andrew was thrilled at the idea of meeting their friends and instantly agreed, whereas Elizabeth looked slightly hesitant.
"What's wrong with the plan 'Lizabeth?"
"Well, I'd like to add someone to lunch if there is no objection."
"That's not a problem, who are you thinking, Carol?" Robert asked.
"No. Charles Cameron."
"What? There's a Cameron in Chicago? My father has never mentioned this."
"His baby cousin. Iain, Charles's father, is Uncle Malcolm's cousin. The one who moved to America. He visited at some point when we were little. I know they kept up with each other sporadically, but his son was so impressed by our fathers on a trip to London that he became a surgeon. I actually interviewed with him for a job. He knew me right away, the hair and the name gave me away, but I didn't remember him, just Iain. "
"What's his specialty?"
"Oh no." Andrew groaned.
"Oh yes. Uncle Malcolm will never live that down, that's now two Cameron surgeons to pick the wrong specialty."
"Christ, help us all. Happy to see my cousin then if it's not an imposition Robert."
Two weeks ago, it would have been. But two weeks ago, Elizabeth hadn't told him that she loved him. Two weeks ago, she hadn't insisted on him being there for the first meal she had with her godbrother in years.
"Invite him; he's an intelligent man and won't bring down the conversation. I say we meet at our normal place, and if he can make it, great."
After dinner drinks revolved around settling plans for Saturday. Robert would arrange inviting Max and Jo, and Andrew made plans to ambush Charles Cameron on Friday while Elizabeth was at work. Robert naturally approved of the idea to show up while Charles was more than likely in surgery and critique his every move. Being the godson of a cardiothoracic surgeon, Andrew was familiar enough with the specialty to be judgmental on a surgeon's skill set in that area.
Robert eventually dropped Andrew and Elizabeth off at her flat, feeling bereft of her company for the evening. Robert had been making a habit of convincing Elizabeth to stay at his house as often as possible and quickly came to realize how much his house didn't feel like a home when she wasn't there. Friday at work would be equally lonesome, with Elizabeth having half the day off to spend with Andrew. As important as this visit was to Elizabeth, all Robert wanted was to have her back in his house, a place he was quickly considering to be their home. Even Gretel was pouting at the lack of extra affection she had become used to with Elizabeth.
Friday had eventually turned into Saturday, something that Robert was immensely thankful for. Max and Jo had agreed to meet them for lunch, as had Charles Cameron. It was a beautiful day, and Jo insisted on being seated outside even though October had brought a chill to the air. While waiting for Elizabeth and Andrew to arrive, Robert noticed another pair of familiar faces had been seated at the next table. Greene and Hathaway. Robert knew that Lizzy and Carol were on better terms now, but he had no idea how much she had told the ER nurse. Either way, the cat would be out of the bag before the meal was over. For now, the ER team had decided to politely ignore Robert's existence, something he was just fine with. Robert was busy glaring holes into the back of Greene's head when Max distracted him.
"That is a proper Jag."
The men at the table watched as a sleek black Jaguar pulled up to the valet stand. Robert would know that particular car anywhere, a classic Jag. A Mark X. It was the model his own car was descended from, and Robert couldn't help but be envious of whoever owned it.
"Elizabeth?" Carol hadn't been so distracted by the car that she missed who was getting out of it. Elizabeth looked startled to see Carol, and Andrew looked back and forth between the two tables, gleefully sensing impending drama. Andrew wanted to cause trouble.
"Carol, hi." Elizabeth looked like a deer in headlights, unsure what to say or do.
"Come sit with us and explain where you got that car."
"Forget the car Elizabeth and tell me where you got the man and if he has a brother." Jo had gotten impatient, and upon realizing who Carol was, decided to stir the pot.
"I'm not his brother, but I am his cousin." The American Cameron interjected.
"Sorry, Charlie, your hair isn't that nice."
"You must be Jo, and he can't help that he was born to the unattractive side of the clan."
Andrew walked over to the table and ruffled Charles's hair before sitting down. Carol and Mark looked on in confusion upon realizing that not only did Elizabeth know everyone at the other table, but that they were her friends, and she was there to see them.
"The real question is Elizabeth, where did you get the Jag and can I borrow it?" Max was gleeful enough over the car in question that he had missed his girlfriend hitting on another man.
"Yeah, honey, where'd you find that car, and do they have more?"
It was Robert's turn to smirk as he took great pleasure in watching the blood drain away from Mark Greene's face. Robert made sure to stand up as Elizabeth approached the table and kissed her before pulling out her chair. Even the American Cameron made a face at that, which did not pass by Andrew's notice.
"Charlie, she's charming, but looks can be deceiving. She's terrifying as all hell. Besides, she's well past the age of snogging my cousins at weddings."
"Hey! I was sixteen, and they were wearing kilts, what's a girl supposed to do."
"Cheers to that!" Jo interjected.
"Besides, I'm not terrifying."
"Elizabeth, my godmother, your mother, is one of the most brilliant and terrifying women I know. You are cut from the same cloth."
Cameron number two was nodding his head in agreement.
"Yeah, I remember meeting her over dinner. She drank a gin martini and smoked a cigar all through the meal and talked about physics."
"Um, Elizabeth" Elizabeth turned to look at Carol, who was still in a state of shock. "I'm a little confused here. Do I have pregnancy brain, or did you just kiss Romano?"
The table full of surgeons burst out laughing, with an indignant 'Hey!' coming from Robert. Elizabeth leaned in to kiss him, hoping to appease his bruised ego, something he happily accepted.
"Carol, I'm sorry we haven't caught up properly. We really need to, but it's just not going to be today. Why don't we get brunch next Saturday, and I'll fill you in properly?"
"Yeah. Yeah, ok. I think you definitely owe me Elevenses over this."
"It's a deal."
Elizabeth let out a sigh, not realizing she had been holding her breath whilst talking to her friend. A bottle of Chardonnay had been brought out for the table, and someone poured her a glass as she pursued the menu. The boisterous group spent the next few hours at the restaurant, enjoying the company of old friends and new. Cameron One and Cameron Two, as Robert was thinking of them, were enjoying catching up on family news as their fathers had had a falling out at some point and stopped speaking. Both were fascinated by how similar their lives had been, to the point where they had picked the same profession. They earned a snide comment from Lizzy about the male surgeon's ego that half the table took offense to. By time lunch had drawn to a close, an onlooker would have never known that the group hadn't been friends for years. Max and Robert had invited Charles to join them on a boys club drink night, with Jo rolling her eyes in the background whilst mustering 'not another surgeon.' Eventually, the bill was paid for, and the group moved towards valet to collect their cars. The men insisted Elizabeth get her car first, acting like Christmas had come early when the sleek Jag was pulled around.
She had found the car by dumb luck, flipping through an auto trader magazine that week. The previous owner had reached a point where the car was no longer practical but was having trouble selling it for sentimental reasons. The idea of selling it to the feisty British surgeon appealed to him, and the test drive was full of stories from Elizabeth's teenage years, learning to drive from her grandfather, who had been an absolute petrol head. The car had been a little more than Elizabeth had initially wanted to spend, and a good portion in cash no less, but the nostalgia it brought back had ultimately won out.
Robert watched her drive off to spend the rest of the day with Andrew. Sunday was his last full day in Chicago, and somehow Robert had managed to convince them to attend Mass with him and his mother, and he was nervous as hell.
"Robert stop fidgeting; I'm sure they will be here soon enough. We didn't need to be this early."
"I can't help it. I want you to like her; this is serious for me."
They were standing on the step to the church waiting on Elizabeth and Andrew to arrive, and Robert's mother had started to regret allowing him to drive today. She could have arrived at their usual time and not been standing outside of the church for 15 minutes, waiting for Elizabeth to arrive on time.
"Robert. You've introduced me to several girlfriends over the years, but never have you invited one to Mass. It's not hard to make an educated guess that you're serious based on that. But do stop fidgeting, least she sees you from the street and drive off thinking you're a lunatic."
He turned to glare at his mother when he finally saw Elizabeth's car pull up. Andrew and Elizabeth made a striking pair as they stepped out of the car; Andrew had yet again donned his kilt, and Elizabeth wore a long one in the same tartan. They looked like brother and sister, and for a moment, Robert missed Gwen. Robert met them at the base of the steps, greeting Elizabeth with a kiss.
"Lizzy, this is my mother, Cara Romano. Ma, this is Elizabeth Corday." Andrew cleared his throat from behind Robert. "Right and, Andrew Cameron."
It was Elizabeth's turn to be nervous as Robert's mother took a look at her. Cara Romano was a petite woman, standing several inches shorter than Elizabeth, but her presence filled up a space greater than Andrew. Her once copper curls, now streaked with white, were pulled back into a bun, and Elizabeth wondered if Robert, too, had a head full of curls at one point.
"It's lovely to finally meet you, Elizabeth. And I thank you for bringing a handsome man in a kilt with you; its been too long since I've seen one of those."
The ice had been broken, and laughter replaced nerves.
"It's a pleasure to meet you as well, although I'm sorry to say Andrew flies home tomorrow."
"We can't all have the ambitious nature of the Corday family, and be in the position to set our own schedule. But I'm delighted to find a woman of discerning tastes at Mass; my mother will be so thrilled for once."
Cara laughed and proposed they head in and take their seats, her eyes never leaving her son, who had wrapped his arm around Elizabeth's waist. Andrew noticed where she was looking and quietly said, "I've never seen her happier."
The service seemingly dragged on for Robert, who had barely slept the night before and then awoken at the crack of dawn. He barely paid attention to the service, far too focused on the feeling of Elizabeth's hand in his as she sat next to him. When they were finally dismissed, Cara suggested that they go to lunch and that perhaps Robert would be able to concentrate on that better than the sermon.
Lunch was at one of Cara's favorite places and was often filled with churchgoers on a Sunday afternoon. The Romanos had been eating there on Sundays since Robert was a boy, and at some point, the table by the window became theirs. It had been a few years since it had been filled regularly, with Gwen living on the east coast and Robert's father having passed away several years before. Robert was enjoying the gregarious side of his mother, something that had dwindled in the absence of his father. Cara was holding court, like the matriarch she was, fast becoming friends with Elizabeth and said as much when Elizabeth excused herself from the table.
"I like her, Robert. She seems good for you."
"I think the real question isn't whether or not she's good for you." Andrew was smirking, and Robert recognized it as a Lizzy mischief smirk. Having raised two children of her own, Cara knew Andrew was about to poke Robert with the proverbial stick and interjected on his behalf.
"And what is the question? Surely it's not if Robert is good for her; she seems smitten enough with him." There was a challenge in her voice, and Andrew picked up the gauntlet.
"Smitten? You think that's smitten? Smitten Elizabeth doesn't go around meeting a bloke's mum at Mass. No. The real question, Robert, is are you going to marry my god sister?"
That caught both Romanos off guard. The color drained from Robert's face, and he choked on his wine, something Andrew had timed for. Cara, on the other hand, seemed pleased with Andrew's directness and perked up at the question. When Robert didn't answer, his mother got impatient with him.
"Well, Robert, the man asked you a question. One, I'm very interested in hearing the answer to."
Robert looked back and forth between his mother and Andrew, both looking far too smug at him being caught off guard. He glanced over Andrew's shoulder to see if Elizabeth was headed back yet, and upon determining he still had a few minutes turned to his mother.
"Ma, you once told me if I ever met a woman worthy, I could have your engagement ring. I'm asking you for it now."
Cara paused a moment before nodding. "There's a ring box at home. I'll give it to you then."
Elizabeth chose that moment to return and noticed the atmosphere had changed in her absence. She sat down and sipped on her wine, looking from person to person trying to determine what had changed. When no one was forthcoming with her, she finally asked what had she missed.
"Don't worry about it, Lizzy, I'll tell you later."