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My Pride and Joy

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“Eliza, for God’s sake, stop staring for the Hamilton boys. They’ll get here when they get here, but mind they’ve got to go to the Washington’s as well after this.”

Angelica chuckled, pushing some of her curls behind her ear, as she saw her sister flush and jump away from where she’d been sitting by the window sill. The middle of the Schuyler sisters picked at the hem of her sky-coloured cardigan, before returning to play with her hair as her almond eyes glanced back at the window. This gained another chuckle from her sister.

“Shut up.” Eliza shot Angelica a glare, grabbing her wine glass from the sill and downing what was left of the red wine in it.

“Honestly, Lizzie, I know you like him. Heck, even I think he’s gorgeous, but Laurens likes him too, and I think Alex likes John.”

“Angie, I don’t like him like that.”

Her tone was unconvincing and, from the look she got from her elder sibling, she knew that she hadn’t even fooled herself. Yes, Alex was handsome, smart, charming, witty, and oh god she was so smitten…even she knew it. She was dragged from her thoughts when Angelica patted her arm. Angelica’s eyes were a darker shade than hers, and they held only concern and love as she held her sister’s shoulder, cupping her cheek with her free hand.

“Sweetie, it’s ok to crush on him, but I just don’t want you getting hurt, ok? I know you like I know my own mind. If he hurts you, I will crush him.”

Eliza spat out a laugh, and then giggled when she watched her sister dab her face. Her voice was biting back laughter as she spoke, “Angie, I’m not gonna try anything with him, ok? And, anyway, if he did hurt – and I’m only saying if – I would stand with the camera while Pegs held him down and you cut his balls off.”

The pair of sisters laughed, and the older of the two pulled the other in for a hug.

“Ah, my eloquent Eliza, this is why you’re my favourite sister.”

“Haha, I would say ‘I’m your only sister’, but you’re only saying I’m your favourite, because Pegs isn’t here.”

“Well, when she’s here, she’s my favourite.” Angelica said, patting Eliza’s cheek with an overly wide grin on her face. Her reply was a gasp from Eliza, who was now playing the victim and pretended to be hurt. “I can’t believe you said that!” There was a mock sob. “To my face and everything!!”

Her darker-skinned sibling shoved her away, both of them laughing. She then went to pick up the wine bottle that had been abandoned on the pre-set dining table and tipped it to fill her own wine glass that had been sat close by. Unfortunately, the bottle was empty, and Angelica let out a small scoff of upset.

“Already out of wine, and Peggy isn’t even here.”

Eliza laughed and flipped her raven locks over her shoulder. “Well Mum and Dad do love Thanksgiving.”

A knowing smile was shared, before the latter sister walked to the door, “Don’t worry, I’ll grab a few bottles. Don’t want to give Mum and Henrietta more work to do.”

Henrietta was the Schuyler’s cook, and she’d been running herself into the ground in preparation for today. Angelica chuckled and rolled up the sleeves of the coral dress she was wearing.

“Ok, but don’t be too long. John should be home soon, his flight landed an hour ago. Not to mention Peggy is going to be here in a couple of hours, and she’s bringing her college roommate.”

“Seriously? Thanksgiving is a family thing.”

“Says the girl who is pining after one of her children’s parents?”

She let the comment brush off her as her sister continued, pulling her own mop of curls back into a high bun, “Besides, Pegs said that her roommate had nowhere else to go today, and she’s meant to be very nice.”

Eliza called back to Angelica as she left, “If she lives with Pegs, I imagine our beloved lil sis will have drove her crazy! And when I get back, you and Johnny-boy better not be snogging! I was scarred after the last time.”

The door was closed behind her before she heard her sister’s irritated remark.

 

_-…-_

Eliza didn’t have to go far – just a short walk from the grandness that was the Schuyler home to get to the nearest shop. It was quiet uptown, a lot quieter than downtown New York – that much she did know. However, that didn’t mean that there weren’t people still having their Thanksgiving panic-last-minute-shop. The little place was packed when she entered, but it only increased the smile on her face as she ducked and wove through the crammed space to the wines. Just as she arrived, however, she caught somebody on the shoulder and stumbled into the back of another shopper. The other girl hit the ground with such force, that the bottle she’d been holding smashed.

“Oh my god, I am so sorry.”

The girl on the ground waved a hand as she turned herself around. Eliza was still wittering away at her apology as she offered her a hand, the stranger attempting to quiet her. “Seriously, it’s ok.”

Then their eyes met. She was the prettiest girl Eliza had ever seen: red-tipped mahogany curls that fell just past her chin (although she had a thick fringe that draped over one of her ruby-brown eyes), the faintest smattering of freckles across her nose, red lipstick and a singular dimple that emerged when she gave the Schuyler sister a small smile. The smile alone gave Eliza butterflies, as she helped the girl to her feet, that she ended up apologising again.

The stranger smiled properly, and waved her hand again, “Honestly, don’t worry about it. Wouldn’t be the first time this has happened to me…although normally it’s a guy trying to grope my ass.”

The Schuyler laughed with her, unsure of whether or not the pretty girl was being honest or not. She also tried to ignore the urge to glance at the “ass” in question…now that it had been mentioned.

“Well, I am sorry, and don’t try to wave it off. I mean, I floored you for Christ’s sake, not to mention broke your bottle.”

The stranger laughed, “Ah don’t sweat, I was only buying it ‘cause I’m going to a friend’s place for Thanksgiving.” She played with her hair, revealing some level of underlying nerves, “They’re meant to be a fancy bunch, so I wanted to, you know, impress them.”

“Ah I see, I’m sure they’ll like you. Most people uptown are actually quite nice. I take it you’re not from here?”

The tanned girl laughed, “Heck no, I’m from the Bronx. Nothing fancy like this in my local bodega, lemme tell you.”

Eliza’s laugh was genuine this time, fully supportive of what the girl was saying. “I can imagine. I’m Liza, by the way,” she offered her hand with a bright smile.

The girl seemed stunned, almost as if she hadn’t expected to get this far in the conversation let alone Eliza offer her a name. She hesitantly took Eliza’s hand, a faint blush on her cheeks, and shook it gently, “Maria.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Maria.”

“You too, Liz.”

The nickname had the girl’s stomach squirming with overexcited butterflies. Sadly, the winged, imaginary insects were interrupted as Maria pulled out her phone. “Jeez, oh I’m so late. My roommate is gonna skin me. I gotta go, but it was nice bumping into you.”

“Oh, uh, likewise.”

Maria made a move to tackle the crowded exit but stopped a moment. She then turned back to Eliza, whose spirits had sunken a little.

“Look, I don’t do this – ‘specially not with cute uptown girls, like you – but would you wanna grab a coffee sometime?”

Eliza was stunned into silence, so Maria continued, “I mean, we technically got to second base, and you did break my bottle…look forget it, sorry…”

“No, I would like that,” this stunned Maria into silence. This cute-as-fuck stranger, this beautiful woman, was really accepting her dorky invitation to coffee…why? “Just, one sec,” Maria watched as Eliza dug in her purse and pulled out a scrap of paper and a pen. She scribbled her number on it and then handed it to Maria.

“That’s my number. Call me, ok?”

“O-ok.”

They shared a quiet smile, sparks flying between them as the seconds rolled along…until the ruby-eyed girl remember her “skinning” roommate and left the shop with a wave to Eliza. If she hadn’t been in a public and crowded place, the Schuyler sister would have let out a little squeal of joy, but because she was, the squeal happened into a clutched fist as she bit down on her knuckles and smiled widely.

_-…-_

“ANGELICA WHY?!”

Still on her high from the shop encounter, Eliza had strolled back to the house on a cloud. However, the cloud now had a puncture in it, and the girl was brought was to reality when she saw her elder sibling playing tongue-tennis with her fiancé…not a pleasant experience.

Her sister and beau merely smirked, giggling away like the couple they were, as Eliza tried to erase the image of her future-brother-in-law grabbing her sister’s br-…nope she was definitely scarred for life. Angelica walked over to her and rested an elbow on her shoulder, wiping some of her smeared lipstick from her face.

“Well, you were taking a while sis. Had to keep ourselves occupied somehow.”

“What you do to “occupy” yourselves should happen in private rooms where I don’t have to see! Hi John, by the way.”

She gave the Englishman a wave, which he returned with a warm smile. “Hey Lizzie, and we’re sorry about that, but you were taking a while. Isn’t the shop only a few minutes away from the house?”

“Yeah, but if we take into account the amount of people who forget Thanksgiving, then it almost quadruples the amount of time taken.” She deliberately left out her encounter with Maria, wanting to keep it to herself.

“That’s fair,” John replied, wrapping an arm around Angelica’s waist and kissing her cheek softly. He was one of the few people that could make her sister blush, and Eliza loved him for it. John was the calm and collected lake to Angelica’s fierce and passionate fire – they balanced each other out perfectly. She brought him out of his shell (and punched anyone who called him a sissy for being blonde) and he reeled her in if she ever got carried away.

“Anyway,” the middle sister said, “I bringeth wine!” She placed the few bottles she’d bought on the table with a flourish. The couple applauded her, and as Angelica opened a bottle, she gave John a proper hug.

“Stop going to England, Angie becomes her usual bossy self when you’re not here.”, she moped as he gave her a squeeze.

The Englishman laughed, “She’s always like that, though.”

“Hey, I am right here, you know?” Angelica said, her tone feigning hurt. She passed her fiancé and sister a glass each, before sipping the wine herself. “Good choice, Lizzie.”

There was the sound of the front door opening, and then the lilting voice of their younger sister floated through the house, “Yoohoo! The party Peggy has arrived!!”

“And let the chaos descend,” John whispered into Angelica’s ear. She sniggered into her glass and replied with a quiet whisper of her own, “I thought the chaos descended when your flight landed?”

“Ouch, that was cold, Schuyler.”

“As ice, Church.”

“Ew, please stop flirting. You flirting is a painful reminder that my siblings actually have lives outside of my presence, and are not just robots who only exist when I’m in the room.”

“And hello to you to, Pegs.”

The youngest Schuyler sister grinned as she properly entered the room – yellow-square glasses on her face as she breezed in to hug her sisters. They shared a tight hug, before Peggy pushed them all away, “Ok, I’m done with you, need a Johnny-cuddle.”

She then jumped at her sister’s fiancé and gave him a tight squeeze. Angelica laughed at her baby sister’s antics – for 20-years old she was very immature at times – but then caught sight of a stranger hovering by the door, unsure of whether or not she should come in. The eldest of the three siblings, then patted Peggy on the arm.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us to your friend, Peggy?”

“Oh shit, yeah.” Peggy ran to the door and grabbed Maria by the hand, dragging her into the dining room. “Everyone this is Maria Reynolds, my roommate.”

Maria gave a little wave, trying not to glance at Eliza (who looked as equally stunned as she was) as she introduced herself to the small group, “Hi, I’m Maria. I’m 21 and I’m studying paediatric nursing.”

“Don’t worry, this is just a normal family Thanksgiving, not a job interview. You don’t have to be so nervous, also, I’m Angelica, but you can call me Angie. This is my fiancé John, and that’s Eliza.”

The new girl in the room gave Angelica a smile, and then her shoulder’s visibly relaxed. The quiet in the room was broken by Peggy questioning the absence of the Hamilton’s, and the conversations separated as Eliza walked over to Maria. She gave the slightly younger girl a smile and handed her a glass of wine.

“Hello again.”

“Hey, fancy meeting you here.”

Maria gave her a red-lipped grin and took a sip of her wine. “I know right. What are the chances that this would happen?”

“Small world, although technically you did molest me in a public place, so something like this was bound to happen, because karma.”

Eliza felt her cheeks turn red, thankful for the fact that nobody else had heard what Maria had just said aloud, “I told you I was sorry for that!”

The other girl giggle, dribbling some of her red wine. She patted Eliza on the arm, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Calm your tits, Liz.” She received a light-hearted smack on the arm, “Don’t make me panic like that. I’m skittish enough as it is.”

“Is skittishness a good quality to have around young children?” The Reynolds girl elaborated on her point when the Schuyler sister shot her a shocked look, “Peggy told me that you teach kids.”

“Oh, yeah, I do.”

While the pair talked, the doorbell went, and John left to answer it. This left the youngest and oldest of the Schuyler sisters to watch the chatting couple, and whisper amongst themselves.

“They seem awfully chummy,” Angelica said with a tone of over-protection.

Peggy chuckled, an air of foreknowledge about her, “Yeah, Maria said she’d bumped into a “hot as fuck” girl in the store earlier, called Liz. I clocked it when I saw Lizzie’s face.”

“Really?”, the elder of the two inquired, glancing at her small, curly-haired sibling.

“Yup,” Peggy replied, “Maria’s great though. Confirmed lesbian, really sweet, can cook a mean strudel, she’s got a brother or something, but they don’t talk much. She’d never hurt Lizzie, so don’t go get all G.I. Angelica on her, ok?”

She said this as the two other girls broke off laughing, and just as John returned with Alex and Philip Hamilton in tow. The youngest Schuyler broke off into “Mother Hen” mode and squealed out a greeting to the pair.

Alex laughed as his son was swept away to say “hello” to Eliza and another girl he didn’t know by Mother Peggy. He’d apologised, when he’d met Philip Schuyler at the door, for his tardiness, but he’d had to wish Abuela a happy Thanksgiving, text John and drop by Laf and Herc as well. The Schuyler’s were the last people on his list before his meal with the Washingtons, but he’d then gotten a bit lost uptown…although Philip had loved the adventure.

He approached Angelica with a smile and felt heat rise in his cheeks as she gave him a hug – it was similar to the feeling he’d had when Eliza had also hugged him in greeting.

“Alexander!” The woman said, smiling brightly at him.

“Hi.”

“It’s good to see your face.”

“You too. It’s been too long.”

“I take it, Washington’s been keeping you busy?”

He grinned. Talking about work was easy with someone like Angelica. Her level of intellect matched his own, and she always seemed genuinely interested with what was going on. “Always.”

“Haha, that’s The General for you. I read yours and John’s article though – the Puerto Rico piece-”

Alex nodded.

“Had me in tears. Got Daddy to send a large donation to the charity, plus I’m going to go out with some volunteers in the New Year to help with aid work.”

“Wow, that’s incredible, Angelica.”

“Were some really inspiring words, Mr Hamilton,” John said as he joined their conversation. “You could become a writer with talent like that.”

“Haha, I think I’d annoy a lot of people if I became a writer, Mr Church.”

“Ah, some people need annoyed.”

“I know plenty!” Angelica commented, “For example, Thomas Jefferson. That opinionated pr…”, she trailed off as Philip approached the group (having escaped the clutches of Peggy, who was now distracted by the arrival of her parents). The small boy was lifted up by his father, who gave Angelica a look which dared her to continue her thought – the look had John laughing into his glass as he sipped his drink.

“…rrrincess, needs to be taken down a peg.”

And suddenly, there was a Peggy, “You called?”

“No, we didn’t Peggy.” John stated with a smile, as they watched Peggy peel Philip away again (the boy following eagerly at the promise of fizzy juice), “And I agree, Angie, Jefferson is quite full of himself.”

“Still haven’t met the infamous Jefferson,” Hamilton replied, “I’m getting mixed vibes about him.”

“It’s not that he’s a bad guy, just a difficult character.”

As Alex was about to respond he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Pulling it out he saw John’s ID and looked back up at the couple, “I’m just gonna take this quickly.”

“Ok.”

“Say hi to Jackie for us!” Angelica called after him, causing his cheeks to flush red as he exited the room. He clicked the green answer button as he sat down on the stairs.

“Hello?”

There was a breath of silence, before, “Hi Alex.”

“Hey John, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Haha, can’t a guy phone his bro without question?”

“No, duh.”

“Harsh, ‘Lex. Anyway, what’s up?”

“Well, I’m at the Schuyler’s right now.”

“Shit, did I interrupt your Thansgiving? Shit, Peggy’ll eat me alive if I have! SORRY PEGGY!”

Alex laughed at the panic in John’s voice, but something in him felt sad that he couldn’t see his friend face to face. “Calm your tits, Laurens. Me and Pip are having Thanksgiving at the Washingtons in an hour or so. Anyway, I thought you’d be having yours right now? How is South Carolina?”

“Urgh, next question please. I hate coming home. Dad kept on pushing me about getting a girlfriend and to stop being gay and-” John’s voice broke a little, and the sound of a bird let Alex know that his friend must be outside. He wished he was there, just so he could hug him…he knew how much John hadn’t wanted to go.

“I had to get out of there. Needed to call someone who doesn’t think I’m messed up.”

“John, what your Dad says is bullshit.”

“I know,” there was a sigh, “but it still hurts, you know?”

“Yeah,” but he didn’t know. His father had left before he’d ever really known him.

“Look, I’m sorry for taking up your time…”

“John you could never take up my time.”

“…I better go back inside, before he gets even more pissed off with me.”

Alex bit his lip, worrying for the face he couldn’t see.

“Happy Thanksgiving, ‘Lex.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, John.”