Seeing as CDB is the Darcys only relative, I wanted some Lizzie-CDB bonding.
Lizzie sat quietly in the car as Catherine DeBourgh talked to Gigi about something school-related but thankfully the ride was not too long. They arrived at the fancy hotel and made their way to its restaurant, where Catherine had reservations.
"Liz, dear, you haven't said a word. I know you probably aren't too eager to like me after what occurred, but I truly am sorry. Come now, tell me about this new project you're working on."
"Did Will tell you about it?"
"Oh heavens, no. I haven't been in contact with any of you since the charity event. But, I asked Collins about you and he led me to your YouTube channel and-"
"You watched all of the videos?", Lizzie asked nervously. She remembered the times she made fun of Catherine and Anny-kins.
"Yes. And I must say your 'costume theater' is quite entertaining!", she laughed. "You make a better William than my nephew!"
Lizzie just smiled. "Who hasn't seen my videos?!"
Gigi was texting Fitz and her brother what was going down with Lizzie and Catherine.
So far so good. Aunt C has seen her vlog. She seems amused.
"I saw the most recent video where you told your audience you had something in the works and I'm interested. As you well know from your friend Ms. Lu and your time at Collins&Collins, I am a venture capitalist. I have exceptional expertise in building a business from nothing and I know more of the risks associated with starting a new company. Maybe I can be of some assistance."
"It's okay, Ms. DeBourgh-"
"Please, call me Catherine or Aunt Catherine. We're family now, are we not?"
"Okay, Catherine. But I already spoke to Will about it and I told him I didn't want his name anywhere near my project. I want to be recognized for my work and not because the Darcy name helped me out."
"Oh don't be so paranoid, Liz! I'm not trying to label your new project as a DeBourgh start-up. I just want to give you my honest opinion."
Lizzie sighed. "Okay, so what I'm thinking is to take costume theater to the next level…"
Five minutes into their conversation and Gigi couldn't stand it. She was bored out of her mind. And she had to pee.
She excused herself but neither Lizzie or Aunt Catherine seemed to notice.
"Wow, I feel like a third wheel on a date.", Gigi thought to herself as she made her way to the bathroom.
While she was gone, the waiter came by to take their orders.
Catherine ordered for herself and since Gigi wasn't there, she ordered for her as well.
"Georgiana has a fine taste in food. It runs in the family, you know.", Catherine boasted. But what Lizzie had interpreted as being haughty back when she dined at Rosings, was now interpreted as pride.
Catherine DeBourgh was a snob, no question about that, but she wasn't condescending in a malevolent way. She just wanted the best for everyone around her and was proud of her family.
The things Catherine had said about Lizzie still stung, but she could see herself getting over that quickly. Catherine only vocalized what a lot of other 'people of society' would be whispering about her and Darcy's relationship anyway, so hearing from someone who actually mattered would make it easy later on, if people gossiped.
"Liz? Elizabeth, are you going to order?"
"Huh? Oh, I'm sorry. I'll uh, just have a chicken caesar salad. I'm not really in the mood for much right now."
"Nonsense! Bring her the salad and a serving of this-", Catherine said to the waiter, pointing at some pasta dish on the menu.
"My future little niece or nephew is growing and I will make sure that it's well fed- at least when you're with me.", she smiled. "Now where were we? Ah yes. You were telling me about how you've already found your co-producer…"
And they continued their conversation about Lizzie's idea, which was received with very little criticism, much to Lizzie's surprise.
"…with a few adjustments here and there, it should work out splendidly. My, my what a gold mine of creativity I missed out on when you refused to work with Collins.", Catherine commented.
"Thank you, Catherine. I really appreciate the advice.", Lizzie said before sipping the last of her water.
"Do you need a refill, Liz, dear? Excuse me, I need some more water here!"
"Yes ma'am? What can I get for you?", asked a waitress. She appeared younger than Lizzie but older than Gigi.
"We would like some mineral water, please."
"And a lemon!", Lizzie added. She was craving something a little sour all of a sudden.
The waitress lifted one eyebrow in annoyance.
"You want mineral water… and a whole lemon?", she asked Lizzie with a slight tinge of attitude. She was sick of all these weird requests rich people had, even if a lemon was nothing compared to bringing out a basin with warm water and towels for a table of six to wash their hands. "I am a waitress, not a servant."
"Would you like it sliced or in halves or…?", she continued sarcastically.
"In halves would be fine, thank you. And I strongly suggest you be swift with our request and stop being so snarky. When a pregnant woman asks for something, it should be done- no questions asked! Now run along.", Catherine snapped at the waitress.
"I swear, the quality of service is nothing like it used to be! Nowadays they hire anybody. If I didn't believe that that young woman would be out on the street without the meager pay this job offers her, I would file a complaint immediately. That much sass is not needed in the customer service industry... And to act rude with a member of my family! Hmmph! The nerve!", Catherine rambled mostly to herself. She reminded Lizzie of her mother in that regard. Her mother always had to have something to say, and if no one wanted to lend her their ear, she'd say it aloud anyway.
Lizzie was kind of shocked. All that just because the girl got rude with her? And Catherine really considers her a member of the family? Lizzie felt a sense of relief. Relief at the fact that she was now positive she and Catherine could put their past behind them.
The waitress returned with the mineral water and two lemons, each sliced in half.
"My apologies if I came across as anything but respectful. And might I add that if the baby ends up looking like its mother or grandmother, it's going to be one cute baby! May you have good health and happiness with your pregnancy, ma'am, and if you need anything else, please don't hesitate to ask.", the waitress said with a smile, trying to redeem herself.
As soon as she walked away, Lizzie and Catherine looked at each other dumbfounded.
"Does she think you're my…?", Lizzie asked.
"I believe so…", Catherine nodded.
And then they burst out laughing. Had Catherine seen herself engaging in such unlady-like guffawing, she would've reprimanded herself. But it was Gigi who stumbled upon the sight, and like always, she whipped out her handy-dandy camera phone and snapped a pic of Lizzie and Catherine laughing, with Catherine's hand affectionately on Lizzie's forearm.
"Hmm-hmm!", Gigi cleared her throat as she approached the table. "What's so funny?"
They explained the situation to Gigi and Catherine added, "As if I look old enough to be a grandmother! Ha!"
Gigi was glad they were distracted enough not to ask where she had gone. She had been stuck on a particularly hard level of one of the apps on her phone. She sat on the couch in the ladies' room until she beat it.
Their food arrived and the rest of their lunch was pleasant. Gigi loved what her aunt had ordered for her and Lizzie was able to finish off both the salad and the pasta dish.
"You see? I know what I'm doing.", Catherine gloated about her excellent ordering skills.
When their meal came to an end, Catherine asked Lizzie to stick around a little while longer, if she didn't have any plans.
"Sure, I'll stay. Is that okay with you, G?"
"Definitely! I'll just go back to Pemberley. I'll see you later, Lizzie! Bye, Aunt Catherine.", Gigi said with a hug to both women, and exited the hotel. Catherine's driver was waiting out front already.
Lizzie and Catherine went up to Catherine's suite and there they wanted to shy away from business and talk about other things, like the baby, but not before Catherine made Lizzie an offer.
"Liz, have a seat. The couches here are quite comfortable."
"Thanks.", Lizzie said as she sat down next to Catherine in the suite's living room.
"I wanted us to discuss something other than business, but before we leave that topic behind I have a proposal."
"How would you like to rent out one of my studios for your show? It's not exactly a studio per se. It is an old building that I had fixed up. It has an industrial look to it. It's spacious. You have plenty of space for shooting and editing and offices for your employees… And I haven't had much use for it since I haven't sponsored a project in San Francisco in many, many years. What do you say? First six months are free!"
"Wow, Catherine. That's really nice of you but-"
"This is strictly business, Liz. I offer this same deal to start-ups that I believe have potential. That's what I did for Collins. And it doesn't hurt that the building is in the middle of San Francisco. Great location… close to Pemberley... You've already said no to me once, Elizabeth. I want to be a part of this. Since you don't want my family's influence to help you, the least you could do is let me provide you with a decent base of operation for a good price."
Lizzie thought it over very quickly and it was an offer she couldn't refuse. It just meant she was that much closer to realizing her dream.
"I accept.", Lizzie said with a smile.
"Perfect! I'll have someone send you the paperwork!... I can't believe I once thought you weren't prepared for life! All this initiative! But now on to more important matters. Tell me of the baby! Am I to have a niece or nephew?"
"We don't know yet, but we find out next visit…"
Catherine went on and on asking about Lizzie's life and family and everything she wasn't interested in before. But Lizzie turned the tables on her.
"So what about you, Aunt Catherine?", Lizzie asked, genuinely curious about this grand woman's past.
Catherine smiled at the new title she'd earned. Lizzie now called her Aunt. "I'd rather save that conversation for another time, dear."
"Alright then… so what about the little hairless snaggletooth?", Lizzie asked, jokingly referring to Annie-kins.
Catherine tensed and then teared up a little.
"What's wrong?", Lizzie asked, reaching over to put a hand on Catherine's shoulder.
After a big sigh, Catherine replied, "Annie-kins is no longer with us. She passed a few weeks ago. It was the asthma that finally got to her. If she were alive, I would've brought her along with me. She's always at my side, you know. Or at least, she was."
A lone tear fell from her right eye and she wiped it only after it had reached her jaw.
"I'm so sorry! I had no idea…"
"No one knows, save for those who work in my house. She's buried at Rosings."
According to Darcy, Gigi, and Fitz, that dog had been like a child to Catherine. And from what Lizzie witnessed during her visit to Rosings, she would say that the loss of that dog must have been heart-breaking. Maybe this caused her change of heart? Could the loss of the only family she interacted with on a daily basis be what inspired this need to get closer to Lizzie and in turn, Darcy and Gigi?
"Enough with the sad talk. It probably isn't good for the baby! Let's get you back to my nephew."
When they got downstairs, the driver was waiting in the front.
"Alright then, Liz. You don't mind if I call you that? I've gotten so used to it."
"It's okay, Aunt Catherine.", she smiled.
They hugged and then Catherine rubbed Lizzie's belly and said, "Take good care of that little surprise! Oh and don't forget to tell William to send me a download for the app he's working on… the Domino one. I'll give it a try."
"And again, Liz, I can't apologize enough. You really are a wonderful young lady. I can see why my nephew fell for you.", Catherine said seriously. She really meant what she was saying.
"No need to apologize! All that is water under the bridge… And thank you for an amazing afternoon."
Catherine nodded and waved as the car drove away.
Gigi had filled Fitz and Darcy in on what transpired during lunch and had to show them proof of Lizzie and their aunt laughing when they didn't believe her; but they were all eagerly awaiting details for what went down after Gigi left.
When Lizzie showed up at Pemberley, she filled them in on everything. They congratulated her on securing a location to shoot her show and thanked her for making them aware of the unfortunate circumstances concerning their aunt's beloved dog.
That night, Darcy hugged Lizzie to his chest with a little extra effort.
"What was that for?", Lizzie asked, confused.
"I was worried you and my aunt would not get along today, but everything went fine. And it makes me glad to know that my family is united.", he said before planting an appreciative kiss on her lips.
While Darcy fell asleep not longer after kissing his girlfriend goodnight, Lizzie didn't find sleep so easily. All this talk of family made her miss her own. But her graduation drew nearer and nearer, so she knew that she would be back home in no time.
Lizzie's graduation! Finally! Lol. And after that we find out the baby's gender! :O