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The Game

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Andy knocks on the door of the presidential suite before opening it. She has never stayed at the Fairmont Copley Plaza before, or at any of the top hotels in Boston. Working for Miranda does have its perks, and the junior suite where she sleeps has a luxurious marble bathroom, which Andy indulged in last night.

She had visited Nate in Boston a few times after they broke up, hoping to salvage something from their years together. The spark was gone, though, and they had quickly agreed that they could not go back. Nor could they move forward together. Too much had changed, and Andy refused to apologize for wanting different things now than when they had moved to New York together two years ago.

It's weird, staying in Boston, staying in the very hotel that houses the restaurant where Nate works as a sous-chef. She just hopes they do not run into each other.

"Andy! Is this okay?" Caroline asks before Andy can even close the door.

Looking over, Andy sees that Caroline is wearing distressed blue jeans, a tee shirt, and a light jacket. All designer, of course. Cassidy wanders over to them, wearing similar clothes.

"Hey, Andy," Cassidy greets her.

"Yes, that's perfect," Andy answers. "Hi, Cassidy. Are you two ready to go? Where's Cara?"

"She's not coming," a soft, melodious voice informs her, the distinctive vocalization floating across the room like a drunken butterfly, causing Andy to look around wildly in surprise. Why is Miranda here?

"Don't you have a m--" Andy blurts, stopping herself just in time as Miranda glides into the room from the bedroom suite. You never ask Miranda questions. But it's hard. Miranda is supposed to be meeting with the lead photographer for the photo shoot right now. They are in Boston for four days, and tonight Andy is taking Miranda's daughters and Cara to a Red Sox game. At least that was the plan.

"Nigel is taking care of it," Miranda answers Andy's incomplete question as she pulls on a light jacket.

Blinking, Andy greedily gazes at her boss. She has never seen her dressed so casually. And she has certainly never seen her in bare feet. As Miranda turns away and bends over to pick up a pair of black leather loafers, a wave of emotion makes Andy feel dizzy, and she tears her eyes away quickly. In black, form-fitting jeans, Miranda's backside is spectacular.

"Andy, you okay?" Cassidy asks.

Miranda's head swivels around as she straightens up, shoes forgotten. Andy would never have imagined that Miranda owns any shoes without heels, although she notes distractedly that they are Louis Vuitton. Miranda raises an eyebrow in question, a smirk flirting across her lips, causing Andy's stomach to drop. Shit!

"I'm fine," Andy answers as nonchalantly as possible. Sneaking a peek at Miranda, her gaze is caught by vibrant, blue eyes. Affectionate, knowing eyes. Busted. Sucking in her lower lip, Andy watches Miranda lower her head and gaze at her through her eyelashes. Is she flirting with me? OhmyGod, holyshit, I'mgonnafuckenfaint!

"Andy?" A hand pulling on her arm gets Andy's attention.

"Hmm?" Andy responds as she looks down her arm to the person trying to get her attention: Caroline. "What was that?"

"When do we have to go?"

"Right. Well, I thought we could grab a bite to eat before the game. I made reservations at Legal Sea Foods. We should get going soon..." Andy trails off. It has just occurred to her that Miranda is going to the game with them. Blinking several times, she starts when she hears Miranda's voice so close to her.

"Shall we?"

Shivering at the intimate murmur whispered into her ear, Andy gasps when she turns her head and realizes how close her lips are to Miranda's glistening ones. Lip gloss, Andy identifies. It takes a moment to lift her eyes from that enticing mouth. She nods dumbly and gazes into eyes she loves so much, eyes she wants to get lost in. She can feel Miranda's body heat burning her back, her arm, her shoulder.

"Let's go. I'm starved," one of the girls says impatiently. Andy is too mesmerized by the look in Miranda's eyes to figure out who it is. At that moment, she can't really say she cares, either.

All she cares about is the connection vibrating between her and Miranda. When Miranda's eyes flit down to her lips, Andy automatically parts them as her breath speeds up. Fingers surround her wrist and gently pull her out of her haze. Looking down, she sees Miranda's hand release her, and she mourns the loss.

They walk over to the elevator, and when Andy automatically hangs back, Miranda huffs, "Don't be ridiculous," before pulling her inside the cabin as the twins laugh. Andy chuckles, too. After all, she has been in elevators with Miranda more and more often lately. She isn't really sure how that happened. One day Miranda was in the middle of dictating a list of duties, and Andy just followed her into the elevator since it appeared Miranda was not yet finished with her demands. This has occurred with increasing regularity over the last few months.

So have the touches. A fleeting touch on her hand, her shoulder, her waist”each electrifying and unexpected, as are the increasing number of times Miranda enters her personal space. And each time, Andy must refrain from leaning into the warm body to nuzzle or taste or kiss. But it is so hard.

Ever since Paris, when she came so close to leaving Runway and Miranda, Andy has noticed a shift in her boss during their interactions. Miranda takes her everywhere...to showings and business lunches and run throughs. It is as if she does not want Andy out of her sight. It doesn't make sense to Andy. Sure, she had hesitated before joining Miranda at the last show in Paris. But that was right after Miranda had accused her of sacrificing Emily's dreams to get ahead. It had been a hard pill to swallow, and Andy had needed a moment to gather herself before hurrying through the paparazzi to reach Miranda. Andy still cannot forget the look of relief she had seen on Miranda's face for a split second when Andy had reached her; the memory warms her, reassures her. Of what, Andy does not allow herself to name. But the feelings are there, pricking her skin and not letting her forget.

They exit the hotel, and Andy leads the way. It's only about a five-minute walk, and the temperature is in the mid-70's, a perfect night for a ballgame. Miranda joins Andy, the two excited pre-teens behind them. Andy has the outrageous thought of holding Miranda's hand, and she shakes her head in consternation. Her wrist still tingles from Miranda's touch, as does her ear and other, more titillating areas she cannot afford to think about right now.

Holding open the door to the Copley Place Mall, Andy's eyes follow the sway of Miranda's hips as she sweeps through the entrance. She breathes in the faint but distinctive perfume that Miranda wears and feels her heart thump a bit faster. Miranda has paused, a questioning look on her face.

As Andy reaches her, Miranda says softly, "You're awfully quiet tonight, Andrea."

Startled, Andy steps on the escalator next to her boss automatically while she contemplates Miranda's observation. Truly, Andy has been too preoccupied by Miranda's presence to relax fully and chat with the girls. And she never initiates a conversation with Miranda. "I'm just saving my voice for the game," Andy fabricates.

"Hmm," Miranda hums with a small nod. "I can hardly wait." Although her words are delivered with a heavy dose of sarcasm, Andy catches the small smile Miranda tries to restrain, and that takes away the sting. Andy grins and shakes her head, her mood buoyed. Tonight is going to be fabulous. She can feel it.


 

"Those bon bons were so good!" Caroline says excitedly as they exit the restaurant. Checking the time, Andy leads them toward the Copley Center T stop.

"Yeah. Even Mom had one," Cassidy agrees.

Andy was surprised at Miranda's willingness to eat one of the desserts, a coffee ice cream ball dipped in chocolate. It was delicious, though, and she's glad Miranda allowed herself to enjoy the treat with the rest of them.

They descend the steps to the subway, the noise of screeching metal wheels and various conversations surrounding them. Andy stands at the turnstile and swipes the Charlie card as Cassidy, Caroline, and Miranda take their turns, ignoring the grimace Miranda makes while passing through the turnstile. Andy quickly uses the card for herself and pockets it once she joins them. The platform is crowded, and Andy makes sure to keep an eye on her companions. "Stay close together. We are looking for the B, C, or D line. It's only two stops. It will be crowded, probably standing-room only."

Just then a strong flow of wind warns them that a car is about to arrive. The crowd moves forward, jockeying for position, guessing where the doors will open. Andy feels hands wrapping around both forearms, and she is glad both girls are staying close. She looks to her left, her gaze meeting sparkling blue eyes. Feeling herself pushed, Andy is propelled through the car door and sees that no seats are available. She stops in front of a pole and wraps her fingers around it, urging the twins to do the same so that they will not fall when the subway car moves forward.

With so many people pushing to get into the car, Andy focuses on not falling and ignoring the less savory smells close to her. An arm wraps around her waist, startling her. She watches in surprise as Miranda grasps the bar close to her breast, effectively surrounding her. Caroline is wedged under Miranda's arm, and Cassidy stands on the other side of Andy, clinging tightly to the pole. They talk excitedly about how cool it is to ride the subway. Andy hears the telltale chime warning everyone that the doors are closing, and she gasps when Miranda's body pushes into her side as the car jerks forward.

Around them, people of all ages wearing baseball caps and shirts which reflect their support for the Boston team chatter about the upcoming Red Sox game. Andy flushes as with each turn of the subway car, Miranda's soft curves press against her. Miranda's pleasing scent teases her, and it is all Andy can do to appear unaffected by the woman's proximity.

"What's the name of the stop, Andy?" Caroline asks.

"Kenmore Square," Andy answers, looking at Caroline with a smile. Her eyes skitter to the left, stuttering on the curve of Miranda's breast. Another jerk, another press, another flush. It is a wonderfully unbearable trip.

Hearing the garbled words through the sound system, Andy peers through the window and sees the walls of the Kenmore Square stop roll into view. "This is it. Stay together. We'll go up the stairs and down the left corridor."

Andy feels two sets of hands grabbing her arms as they become part of the crowd. Strong fingers entangle with her own, and Andy spares a quick glance to confirm that, yes, Miranda is holding her hand. Jesus! Once they reach the street, the girls let go, but stay close. Miranda continues to hold her hand. Well, Andy has no intention of calling attention to it.

Around them the crowds becomes thicker as they walk toward Fenway Park. Carts on the street-side offer roasted peanuts, hot dogs, and sausages. The smells make Andy's mouth water even though they just finished dinner. They enter through the gates, and Andy presents their tickets. They get through security quickly, and Andy leads them to their seats along the third base line. She had been tempted to get seats on top of the Green Monster, but she would rather be closer to the action.

Down on the field the Dropkick Murphys begin singing "Tessie," the Red Sox's unofficial anthem. Vendors shout out their offerings, and Andy wonders whether Miranda will allow her girls to have a Ballpark Frank or peanuts or Cracker Jacks. As if reading her mind, Miranda asks them if they want anything. Hearing their answer and not seeing any sign of disapproval from Miranda, Andy raises a hand and shouts out, "Over here!"

When she gets the man's attention, she shouts, "Two peanuts and two Cracker Jacks." She catches them as from ten feet away they are expertly tossed to her over a dozen cheering heads. She passes over some bills Miranda gives her to her neighbor, and the money makes its way to the vendor.

Now they just need drinks. Not that she would dare drink alcohol while out with the girls. Even though she has gotten to know them much better over the past year, she is their mother's assistant, and she would do well to remember that. Regardless of how much she wishes it were different. Or that she were more.

"Cracker Jacks? Really, Andrea?" an amused voice teases.

"Have you ever tried them?" Andy dares to ask, raising an eyebrow. She nearly laughs at the affronted look Miranda shoots her. "Try some," Andy urges, shaking the bag under Miranda's nose. Now she does dare to chuckle. She knows she is pushing it, but the energy around them is so light-hearted and happy that she cannot resist. Her mouth drops open when Miranda takes the bag and fishes out a large handful of the treat, smirking.

They stand for the national anthems for each team, and soon the game begins. Andy easily gets caught up in the excitement. The Red Sox take the lead in the second inning against Toronto. "Andy, why's he out?" Cassidy asks when a man gets tagged once he reaches third base. Leaning forward to see Cassidy, who is sitting on Miranda's side, Andy answers, "He needed to tag up before running to third since the ball was caught before it hit the ground."

Caroline, who sits on the other side of Cassidy, leans in to join the conversation. "How could he know he had to do that before running?"

"Well, that's the point. He needs to stay near the base until either someone catches or misses the ball," Andy says.

"Andrea is correct. Once the ball hits the ground, he can run. Otherwise, if it is caught, he must tag the base he was on and then run for the next base."

Andy stares at Miranda in shock. She looks at Caroline and Cassidy, who have similar looks on their faces, and they all burst into laughter.

"What?" Miranda asks in a bored voice, but Andy isn't buying it. She can see the dancing eyes and slight grin. She loves that Miranda has decided to play with them.

The crowd roars, redirecting Andy's focus. She notices that the crowd has started the wave. "When it gets to us, hold your hands over your head as you get up," Andy says excitedly. The wave gains speed, as more people participate. Andy jumps up with her arms extended and shouts out joyously before plopping down. She smiles brightly and nearly faints when Miranda smiles back.

"That was great!" Caroline says.

"It might come back around," Andy says as she watches its progress to the Green Monster. It again gains speed, as the fans in the bleachers erupt to their feet. The roar of the crowd is a living entity, flowing around the field. She sees it being broadcast on the Jumbo Tron and jumps up, as the wave reaches them again. "Whoa!" Andy yells. The game is sold out, and with the majority of the game watchers participating, the place is loud and exciting.

"Do you think it will reach us, again?" Cassidy asks.

"Maybe one more time," Andy says as she cranes her head to see where it is. It has slowed down, but enough people are still jumping up for the wave to make it to them. Andy jumps up again, turning slightly and catching Miranda taking part in the wave. Thrilled, Andy laughs. Miranda's chuckle is music to her ears.

"Can I get a hot dog?" Cassidy asks. Andy notices the vendor is coming close to their row.

"Me too?" Caroline says.

"Yes, yes," Miranda consents, waving her hand dismissively. She turns to Andy and says in a low voice, "Get one for me and yourself, too. And some water."

Andy's arm shoots up to get the man's attention. Soon they are all chewing the well-known treat, and Andy has a hard time not smiling like a fool. She is sitting next to Miranda Priestly eating hot dogs and Cracker Jacks. Taking part in the wave. Explaining the game to Miranda' daughters. This is the best night ever.

Her phone vibrates in her pocket, but Andy ignores it. Nothing can be too important since she is sitting right next to Miranda. She always takes Miranda's calls. Of course she does. But everyone else can wait. Besides, she might never share another night like this with Miranda and her children. Never see her so relaxed, or eating ballpark food, or smiling. And she loathes the thought of having her attention taken away, even for a moment.

In the bottom of the inning, as a Red Sox player strides to the plate with bat in hand, Andy cups her mouth with her hands and yells, "He's a batter! He's a battaahh! Saaa-wiiinnngggg, battaahhh!" She inhales another big breath, ready to yell out her support again when she happens to look over to her left. Caroline, Cassidy, and Miranda are all staring at her. She lowers her hands slowly, feeling her face heat up. "Um, what? You've never heard anyone cheer for a team before?"

The girls' resulting laughter makes Andy laugh, too. Miranda pats her arm and says, "That is very unique, Andrea. So like you."

"Do it again, Andy!" Cassidy says.

"Yeah, how'd you do it?" Caroline asks.

Miranda just rolls her eyes, but that small smile is on her face again, and Andy knows Miranda isn't irritated by her antics. Soon she has the girls yelling just as loudly as she is, cheering for the Red Sox.

"I like the Yankees," Caroline states as a batter strikes out.

"Yeah, but they're not playing, so it's okay to root for the Sox," Cassidy says. "Right, Mom?"

"Yes, darling," Miranda agrees. Andy smiles to herself. She has watched the Red Sox since she was a little kid, and in 2004 they finally broke the Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series. It’s rumored that they are well on their way to winning it again this year. Andy hopes so.

"Mom, have you ever been to a baseball game before?" Cassidy asks.

"Yes, Bobbsey, but it has been many years," Miranda answers. Andy can't help wanting to know more, but then again it was probably with one of her ex-husbands. She certainly doesn't care to hear about that.

"Have you girls been to a game before?" Andy asks.

"No. This is so much fun!" Cassidy says.

"Yeah. We should go to a Yankees game when we get back home," Caroline adds. Andy tries not to wince. She's not sure she can root for them. But if Miranda were to come with them, she could probably stomach it.

"Aren't you from Ohio?" Miranda asks.

"Um, yes," Andy answers, not understanding the question.

"Why do you like the Red Sox, then? Why not the Cincinnati Reds or the Cleveland Indians?"

Andy is surprised yet again by Miranda. Not only is she asking her personal questions, but she knows the names of other teams, teams from her home state. She knows where Andy is from. "My dad is from Boston, and we used to watch the games together on the weekends." She shrugs. "We watched the Reds, too, even went to some games, but the Red Sox games were special."

"Are you close with your father?" Miranda asks.

"Yes. He came down to visit last month, and we talk on the phone regularly. I guess you could say I've always been daddy's little girl. My sister is closer to my mom," Andy says.

She made sure Miranda was in town and Emily on call so as to not be called for some emergency. And she had also made sure to say positive things about her boss, knowing her father thinks poorly of Miranda due to the complaints Andy made early in her employment. Andy regrets that now. It doesn't help that ever since her father visited while Miranda was trying to get home from Florida during a hurricane, he has harbored a healthy dislike for Miranda. It is unfair, though, since Miranda has not treated her so poorly since Paris, all those months ago. And since Paris Fashion Week, she does her best to say positive things about her work and her boss whenever she speaks with family members in the hope they will accept that Andy likes her job, and Miranda, and New York.

Especially now after spending time together in such a casual setting.

"What's going on?" Caroline asks.

"Oh! It's the seventh inning stretch. It's tradition to stand up and stretch, and they play 'God Bless America' and then 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame.' It's fun to sing along," Andy answers as she gets out of her chair. She makes a big show of stretching by arching her back and twisting her neck back and forth to crack it. Placing her hands on her lower back, she turns to the others and falls into an intense stare. Feeling rather self-conscious, Andy's eyes skitter away nervously. She flashes a smile before rambunctiously singing along. Cassidy laughs as Caroline joins in, and Andy exaggerates her arm motions for the last stanza of the song, knowing Miranda is watching them. Laughing, they plop into their seats to watch the next inning pass quickly, neither team getting on base.

"What song is this?" Cassidy asks.

"Boston always plays this song. It's 'Sweet Caroline' by Neil Diamond," Andy answers excitedly as she jumps up from her seat. She loves this song. Turning her head, she falls into bright blue eyes and starts singing directly to Miranda. As the song swells around them and so many others begin singing along, Andy continues to gaze into darkened eyes. "Hands, touching hands. Reaching out. Touching me. Touching you." Andy smiles at the smirk on Miranda's face and winks at the girls, as she sings the refrain. "Sweet Caroline. Oh, oh, oh! Good times never seemed so good. So good. So good. So good!"

She laughs as the girls sing along. As the song continues, Andy watches others around them swaying to the music, singing their hearts out. When the words to the refrain start again, she feels fingers intertwining with hers. She is captured by another stare and, more startling, Miranda singing. To her.

"Hands, touching hands. Reaching out. Touching me. Touching you," Miranda sings in a beautifully in-tune voice, squeezing Andy's hand. "Sweet Caroline. Oh, oh, oh! Good times never seemed so good."

The girls wave their hands in the air as they sing boisterously, giggling as they punch the air with the words, "So good. So good. So good!"

Miranda leans in and says softly, "I'm so glad I came."

Andy smiles broadly. "Me too." They sit down as the song ends, still holding hands.

When Miranda had directed Andy to secure four tickets for tonight's game, Andy was surprised for many reasons. For one, she did not think that the girls had ever attended a game before. Also, Andy would be spending personal time with the most important people in Miranda's life. And most confusing, she would not be assisting Miranda at her meeting. In retrospect, Andy had a sneaking suspicion that Miranda had planned to join them all along. Warmth suffuses Andy at the thought.

The crack of the bat precedes the roar of the crowd as David Ortiz hits a home run. Around them people yell out praise and support.

"Why do they keep shouting 'Papi'?" Caroline asks.

"His nickname is Big Papi," Andy says. She sits in her chair, arm resting on the armrest between her and Miranda, their fingers intertwined loosely. She feels like she is in a dream, a wonderful, magical dream. They watch the last inning of the game, and Andy can tell the girls are getting tired. She, on the other hand, has never felt more alive.

They make their way slowly to the exit after the Red Sox win 9-4, and once they are outside the stadium, Miranda says, "Please tell me we need not ride in that hot, smelly sardine can back to the hotel."

"Well, it's about a twenty-minute walk." Andy offers, "I'm sure we can find a taxi, if you want."

"No, no. It's a beautiful night. Girls, you aren't too tired to walk, are you?"

"We're fine. Aren't we, Caroline?" Cassidy says.

"Yup. Let's walk."

Smiling, Andy leads them past Kenmore Square and down Commonwealth. It is still warm, and the slight breeze caresses Andy's face. She misses holding Miranda's hand. It felt comfortable, right. She hopes she gets another opportunity again. Soon. They cross Mass Ave and stroll down Newbury. The sidewalks are full of people enjoying the evening, including many who are seated in outdoor cafes. The girls walk together ahead of them, giggling, as they skip along.

"We're taking a right on Exeter," Andy raises her voice, nodding when she sees Cassidy raise her hand in acknowledgment. She can feel Miranda's gaze on her, and when she looks over, she wonders at the pensive expression she observes. Miranda catches her hand in hers, and they walk companionably.

"You seem to know your way around quite well," Miranda comments.

"I visited here several times last year," Andy says.

"With friends?"

"My boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, actually. We broke up last year, and he moved here to take a sous-chef position, but I visited to see whether we could salvage the relationship." She gazes into Miranda's eyes. "We couldn't. We drifted apart, and I just didn't feel the same way about him anymore."

"He's the cook you lived with," Miranda muses. Not a question. Andy isn't surprised that Miranda knows about him. Nothing seems to get past her.

"Yeah. We were together throughout college, and we moved to New York together. Shared an apartment. It, it was hard to say good-bye to that part of my life. But all the good memories were being crowded out by the fights and the hurt feelings and not wanting the same things anymore. We decided to let it go, let us go, before we lost the friendship, too." Andy feels her hand squeezed and smiles at the silent support being offered.

"So you still keep in touch?"

"Not really. He doesn't know I'm here now, which is probably a good thing since he was jealous of my job. Actually, he works at the restaurant in our hotel," Andy reveals. She has been holding her breath, hoping to not see him, to not have him see her. Or Miranda. She shakes her head to dispel the thought.

"You deserve someone who will support you, not compete with what is important to you," Miranda says.

Or who, Andy doesn't say. Because Nate was jealous of Miranda, and although she hadn't realized it then, he had good reason to react that way. Andy allowed the job to take over her life, and she didn't think to compartmentalize her private life from her professional one. She opened her heart and surrendered her soul to Miranda without quite realizing what was happening. And now she wants neither back. It's foolhardy and naive, but Andy is in love with Miranda. Miranda who is asking her personal questions and holding her hand.

"Turn here, girls!" Andy yells.

Running her thumb over Miranda's knuckles, Andy says softly, "You do too."

"Hmm, not according to their father. Or my soon to be ex-husband," Miranda says.

They walk quietly the rest of the way. Andy accompanies them back to their room. After entering, Miranda calls out for Cara, who exits the adjoining room. "Did you pack the girls' luggage?"

"Yes, Miranda. All's ready for tomorrow's flight," Cara says.

"Get them ready for bed." Miranda turns to Caroline and Cassidy. "Right to bed, girls. You have the morning to yourselves while we wrap up the shoot. Be good."

"Yes, Mom. We had fun," Caroline says as she hugs Miranda.

"Thanks, Mom. It was great," Cassidy says, kissing Miranda's cheek.

Andy is surprised and pleased to find her arms full of Priestly pre-teens. Now if only she could get Miranda in her arms. Preferably without the twins.

"Come along, Andrea," Miranda says before walking out the door. Andy is confused, but she knows better than to ask. Nor does she want the evening to end just yet. They take the elevator to the lobby, and Miranda glides to the Oak Room, Andy at her heels. Loafers.

They sit in some comfortable leather chairs, and Miranda orders two glasses of red wine and a cheese platter. Andy feels her phone vibrating in her pocket again, but she ignores it. She looks around the room, appreciating the dark hues and warm atmosphere.

"Your time with me is nearly over, Andrea," Miranda says softly. "Have you thought about where you might want to go? What you might like to do?"

Andy's heart begins to pound. She knew this day would come, but she doesn't want to leave Miranda. She needs her in her life. "I, um, not really. Something to do with writing, probably."

"Hmm. We do not have any staff writer openings at the moment, nor do I believe you are seasoned enough to warrant one. Freelance I can see, or maybe working for a newspaper so you can gain some experience and exposure," Miranda says. The wine is placed before them, and Miranda lifts her glass for a toast. "Salut."

"Salut," Andy echoes and tastes the wine. It is full and complex, coating her tongue with earthy textures that remind her of oak and cherry and leather. The wine is perfect in this setting.

"A newspaper sounds fun. I was the editor-in-chief of my college paper. Freelancing sounds good, too. I could build a reputation and then maybe in a few years see what's open at a magazine." She wants to say Runway, but that seems rather presumptuous.

"I'll make some calls once we get back to New York. I'm sure we can find something for you." Miranda nibbles on some cheese and a cracker, her eyes trained on Andy, who tries not to squirm. "I hope you know how you have impressed me. If I could keep you as my assistant, I would, but that wouldn't be fair to you."

Nodding, Andy feels something sticking in her throat, making it hard to swallow. She feels emotions roll through her, and she cannot think of anything to say. Her eyes are stinging, making it hard for her to act like she is fine with what Miranda is saying. The truth is, though, that she doesn't want things to change. She wants to remain by Miranda's side. She resents another change being forced upon her. First Nate, now Miranda. A hand squeezing hers makes her look up into compassionate eyes.

"Don't cry, Andrea. This change will be good for us. You'll see. And don't you dare think for a minute that we won't see each other again. We will. Trust me," Miranda says in a low voice.

Miranda leans forward, wiping away a tear that has broken free. Andy takes a large breath, trying to calm herself. It's not like she's being fired, after all. She has to believe Miranda. Has to.

"What the hell!"

Andy looks up, confused. Nate stands in front of them, hands on hips and a disgusted look on his face.

"I can't believe it. You and the Dragon Lady? Jesus! Were you with her when we were together? No wonder you didn't want to patch things up," Nate rants, much to Andy's mortification.

"Nate, shut up! You are totally wrong. This, we, we were talking about my career," Andy sputters.

"With you in tears, and her touching you like that? Looking at you that way? I'm not blind, Andy! You know what?" Nate holds his hands out in front of him, palms facing forward. "I don't want to know. I'm glad we broke up. This is fucked up." He walks away, not allowing Andy to answer. Not that she can think of anything to say.

"I'm sorry about that," Andy says to Miranda.

"Don't be. He was jealous. And ridiculous." Miranda stares at Andy, tilting her head. "I am much more interested in why you were crying. Will you tell me?"

Shrugging helplessly, Andy says, "I just, I don't always like change, not when it's unexpected." She wipes away the lingering tears angrily. "I shouldn't be surprised, though. I mean, you promoted Emily six months ago, and I knew my time was coming up. I guess I just pushed it to the back of my mind."

"Change can be scary, Andrea, but it also can be good. Very good. It can clear the way for better things in life. Stagnancy and fear of change can block you from realizing your dreams, as I found out when Stephen served me with divorce papers. I was angry, very angry when he did that. I knew we were traveling down that road, but I pushed it to the back of my mind, much like you have with the inevitable ending of this job. And I was scared, Andrea," Miranda reveals, her hand squeezing Andy's.

Andy feels her breathing hitch as she watches Miranda lift Andy's hand to her lips and kiss the palm softly. "I can't imagine you being afraid of anything," Andy whispers.

"Oh, but I am, Andrea. Your presence this last year in particular at work and in my life has helped me tremendously. I've come to care for you a great deal, more than is proper. So I have to let you go. I have to do what's best for you, for your future," Miranda says.

"I, what if I don't want to go? What if I want to stay? With you?"

"Darling, you are moving on from the job, not from me. In fact, I want to spend more time with you outside the office. The girls love you, and I, well, I am not immune to your charms, either."

"Really?" Andy feels fire roll through her veins, lighting her up from the inside. Miranda wants to spend time with her. She feels the smile splitting her face apart, and she holds Miranda's hand tightly.

"Yes. Really," Miranda says, a small smile gracing her face. "Now, we should get some rest. Are you ready, Andrea?"

Hearing the weighty question, Andy knows Miranda is asking about much more than whether she is done with her nightcap. And she is ready. The unknown future does not seem so scary anymore. She takes the proffered hand, and they walk back to Andy's room silently.

At the door, Miranda raises Andy's hand once again and kisses her palm. "Sweet dreams, Andrea."

"You too," Andy answers breathlessly, her eyes pulled to wine-stained, parted lips. She leans in slowly, and when she realizes Miranda isn't going to pull away, brushes their lips together gently. She takes her time, learning the best fit, tasting the alcohol on Miranda's breath. Miranda winds her hands around Andy's neck, one hand sifting through her hair, and Andy moans. Miranda's tongue slowly runs across Andy's lower lip, and she opens up immediately.

When their tongues meet, the spark of desire that suffuses Andy makes her knees weak. She grabs at Miranda's hips, pulling them close together and swallowing Miranda's moan. Andy's senses are overwhelmed by Miranda, and Andy wants her to come inside her hotel room so they can do more than neck outside her bedroom door.

They break apart, both panting for breath. "Andrea, oh God, you taste exquisite. I want to make love to you so badly, I'm shaking."

Andy can feel Miranda trembling in her arms. It thrills her, finding that she affects Miranda so strongly. "Come inside, then," Andy pleads, her hands sliding to the small of Miranda's back. She can feel their breasts pressed together, and it's driving her crazy.

"We shouldn't. Not tonight, not while everything is in flux. I want to have a real shot at this. Get to know you more. Let you know me better." Andy closes her eyes as fingers push back her bangs and slide down her cheek, resting on her shoulder. "Do you want that, too, Andrea?"

"Yes," Andy answers immediately. She does. She also wants to see Miranda naked, moaning and shaking under her. She wants to make her happy in and out of the bedroom. Sighing, Andy leans her forehead against Miranda's shoulder, concentrating on slowing her breathing. They have time. And now that she knows Miranda wants her, she can wait. Oh, who am I kidding! That makes it so much worse!

A kiss on the crown of her head makes Andy sigh. Pulling back, Andy smiles at Miranda, gratified to see Miranda smile in return. She really is so fucking beautiful that it makes Andy's heart hurt. But in a good way.

"Good night, Andrea," Miranda murmurs, delivering a chaste kiss.

"Good night, Miranda," Andy says, pulling the woman in for a quick hug. "Sweet dreams."

"You too," Miranda says before turning away.

Andy watches her swaying hips all the way down the corridor. Grinning, she enters her room. "Wow." Falling on the bed, Andy screams into the pillow and kicks her feet up and down several times, unable to believe what has happened. Turning over on the bed, Andy stares at the ceiling with a silly smile on her face. "Wow," she says again because that's the only word that comes to mind at the moment. "Wow."


 

Knocking on the door wakes Andy from a heavy sleep. She turns on the light and notices it is only two in the morning. What the hell? Andy stumbles to the door and looks through the peephole. Holy shit!

"Are you all right? What's wrong?" Andy says as she pulls Miranda inside. Her makeup is removed, her hair mussed, and her gray robe donned, the same one she wore in Paris last year. She is stopped from asking any other questions by demanding lips. She becomes aware of just how little clothing she is wearing as her body readies itself for lovemaking.

Miranda moves them to the bed, her hands lifting Andy's tank top off and pushing down her boxer shorts so quickly that Andy can do nothing but moan. Andy unties the robe and is astounded to find Miranda's nude form beneath it.

"God. You feel incredible," Andy mutters, her hands moving everywhere she can reach. Miranda's skin is sinfully smooth and soft. Andy arches as she feels lips surrounding her breast, sucking as much of it as possible into a humid mouth. A tongue swirls around the nipple before those wicked lips pull on it strongly. "Ah! Miranda!"

Andy's back hits the sheets, and she hisses at how cold they feel. Her body is on fire. Miranda covers her body with her own, a leg falling between Andy's. Looking down, she marvels at Miranda's porcelain skin flushed with arousal. Miranda's lips latch on to her throat at the pulse point, and both groan. "You are gorgeous, Andrea. Gorgeous. I couldn't sleep, and I kept wondering why I was waiting." She kisses Andy again, and Andy finds it hard to concentrate on Miranda's words. She is burning up, and she is drowning in the delicious reactions Miranda's lovemaking is creating in her body. "I know how I feel. I know what I want. Who I want. And I refuse to wait any longer when I know you want this, too."

"Oh, Miranda. Oh my God, oh, yes, please," Andy babbles, wanting Miranda so badly. Her hands slide over Miranda's curves possessively. How could anyone give this up? Ducking her head, Andy captures a nipple in her mouth, moaning at how wonderful she tastes. Miranda arches up powerfully, a guttural moan spilling from her mouth. She moves against Andy, her leg pushing against her center rhythmically. "Ahhh, that feels incredible," Andy says, her head tilting back, as she moves with Miranda.

"I can feel your excitement against my leg. You want this. You want me," Miranda says.

Opening eyes that slid shut a moment ago, Andy stares into passion-filled eyes. "Yes! I want you. I've wanted you for a long time." She wants to say more. So much more. "Miranda!" Andy shouts as fingers slide through her wet folds. Fingers rub against her bundle of nerves, and Andy is a slave to her desire. Her body moves faster, controlled by Miranda's fingers and lips and body.

Andy runs a hand down Miranda's side, moving it between their bodies. Miranda stops moving for a moment, her eyes locking with Andy's, as she places her fingers on Miranda's throbbing clit. Miranda begins moving again, their gazes fixed on each other. They speed up, struggling to breathe, as they undulate together. Andy slips her hand down further, and before she can ask, Miranda tilts her pelvis so that Andy's fingers easily slip inside, as Miranda plunges her own fingers into Andy.

"Oh, Andrea. You feel incredible," Miranda groans against Andy's lips. Andy thrusts harder and faster, knowing she will climax soon and wanting Miranda to fall with her. They press their bodies together hypnotically, racing toward completion.

"Miranda, Miranda, Miranda," Andy chants. It is the most beautiful word in the world. Miranda freezes, her back curving so that only their lower bodies touch. Andy feels her body let go, and she screams out her release. Their bodies move together again, slowing as the aftershocks lessen. They share several slow, wet kisses, their tongues rubbing together as they breathe through their noses.

Miranda's fingers slip out, but Andy keeps thrusting into Miranda, rubbing her clit with her thumb. She can feel Miranda speeding up again, and she adds another finger. Her other hand tangles in Miranda's gloriously messy locks as they kiss and kiss and kiss. She swallows Miranda's scream as she comes again, her body shaking apart before becoming boneless. Andy gently turns them on their side, tangling their legs together and wrapping her arm around Miranda's waist.

"I love you, Miranda," Andy whispers into Miranda's hair. She watches Miranda's eyelids flutter open, bright eyes revealed. "I'm so glad you came. I would have waited for you, but I'm glad I didn't have to."

"Andrea," Miranda says, and it is enough. Andy can hear the emotion in her voice, the love. They share a smile before settling in to sleep.


 

Someone calling her name wakes Andy. She sits up and looks at the alarm display. Just a little after eight in the morning. Miranda is not in the bed, and Andy wonders whether she returned to her room. And why she did not wake her first. Another thought strikes her: maybe she dreamt of their night together. She looks around quickly for some sign that Miranda was with her, but sees nothing. Several knocks on her door gets her moving. She throws on her tank top and shorts while shouting, "Just a minute!"

She looks through the peephole before opening the door. "Hi, Nigel," Andy says, not opening the door wide enough so that he can enter the room.

"Six! Where have you been? I've left messages and texts. Were you kidnapped? "Nigel rants. He shoots her a questioning look. "Aren't you going to let me in?"

"I'm not really dressed."

"Please, I see naked woman nearly every day. Believe me when I said that you don't have anything I haven't seen." Nigel stares at her pointedly, and Andy steps aside reluctantly.

"Why were you trying to get in touch with me?" Andy asks, as they walk into the bedroom suite. She tries not to look at the messy bed, afraid she won't be able to hide her reaction. Last night is still fresh in her mind.

Nigel spins around and says, "Well. There I was downstairs at the bar having a little dinner while halfheartedly watching the game, and I see you, Miranda, and her daughters doing the wave. As if that weren't surprising enough, I see that you and Miranda are laughing together like old school friends!" Nigel pins Andy with a solemn look. "What is going on?"

Not knowing what to say, Andy shakes her head. Arms slide around her middle, and a chin hooks over her shoulder. She can feel soft hair brushing against her cheek, and Andy immediately relaxes into the body behind her. It is almost comical to watch Nigel's eyes widen and his mouth drop open.

"Andrea has given her two weeks' notice. And I have confessed my feelings for her," Miranda states matter-of-factly.

"And I have admitted my feelings to her," Andy adds.

"Is there anything else, Nigel?" Miranda asks in a faux-sweet voice.

"Nooo, not that I can think of," Nigel says.

"Well, then, we will see you at the shoot," Miranda says dismissively.

Andy doesn't watch Nigel leave. Instead she turns in Miranda's arms and kisses her. "Good morning," Andy says softly.

"It certainly is," Miranda answers with a smirk. "I'm going back to my room to get ready. If you can be there in twenty minutes, we can have breakfast with the girls."

"The girls. Do you think they'll be okay with this?" Andy asks hesitantly.

"Yes. They love you, Andrea. And so do I." Miranda leans in for another kiss. "Twenty minutes."

"Okay." They share a smile. Andy walks Miranda to the door and lifts Miranda's hand so she can kiss the palm. Miranda looks at her tenderly before passing the threshold.

Breathing in deeply, Andy exhales loudly. What an incredible night. She has more in common with the Red Sox than she ever realized. The underdog who won the World Series. The underestimated assistant who won Miranda's heart. Who knows--maybe the Red Sox will even win this year's World Series.

Yup, 2007 is the best year ever. And Andy has won the most important game ever. The game of love.

The end.