Actions

Work Header

Green Is Not Your Color

Work Text:

Green is Not Your Color

Andy Sachs, exhausted and disgruntled, struggled with her luggage as she tried to unlock the door to the townhouse. She’d been gone for two weeks and all she wanted was to sleep in her own bed beside her lover.  She’d missed Miranda, but she hadn’t had very many opportunities to contact her. 

Three years into their relationship and Andy was still on fire for the older woman.  Granted, their relationship had settled down some.  The pair of them  evolving into true partners.  They shared almost everything, right down to the occasional discipline of Miranda’s girls. 

Andy had been freelancing for a little over a year now and because of it she traveled far more than she used to.  Her stories took her all over the world, but she always came home.  Miranda had asked Andy to share the townhouse just about two years ago and Andy had gleefully accepted.  Smiling at the memory of Miranda presenting her with a key, Andy remembered that she had made a crack about delivering the Book. 

Miranda had been less than amused, and actually slightly hurt, that Andy would be so flip.  She had spent the rest of the night in worshipful apology and by the morning she was forgiven.  Andy had gone directly back to her studio, packed her most precious belongings and moved in that day.  It had required breaking her lease, but she considered it money well-spent to be able to sleep with Miranda every night. 

Finally getting the door opened, she struggled into the foyer. Hearing voices from the den, she left her bags in the hall and went to find Miranda. 

“You see how the light in these photos are disparate?  It breaks the feel of the layout.  Alone, either of the photographs are stunning, but together they do not work.” 

Andy drank in the sight of her lover as she bent over the low coffee table where various glossy photos were displayed.  She felt her mouth tighten as she realized just who was sitting with Miranda, so casually and yet so close their shoulders brushed.  Sasha Brooks, Miranda’s Managing Editor. Five years older than Andy, tall, with slick black hair cut short around her face in a flattering style, Andy wanted to gouge her gorgeous green eyes out.  Sasha stood close to 6 feet tall before heels and if she was a size four, Andy would be shocked.   

The woman was born to be part of Runway.  It also didn’t help that she had an I.Q.  north of 140, legs to die for and a sense of humor as sharp as the wind.  All of which conspired to make her one of Andy’s least favorite people.  Stifling a groan, she moved into the den to make her presence known. 

She watched as Miranda raised her head, blue eyes luminous as she took in the sight of the bedraggled reporter.  Placing her hand on Sasha’s knee as she rose, she made her way to the young woman.  

“Andréa, you’re home.” 

 Andy tried not to flinch as Miranda pulled her forward into a hug.  What was wrong with her?  For the last two weeks, all she had wanted was to be home with this woman and now that she was, all she could feel was annoyance.   

“Darling, are you alright?” Miranda had drawn back to stare into Andy’s eyes, searching intently.

Sighing, Andy stepped out of her embrace, “Yeah, I am.  Just tired, I guess.  Don’t let me interrupt you.  I’ll just bring my stuff upstairs.”  Steeling herself, she nodded at the gorgeous woman who had risen from the loveseat and who had been watching the interplay between the pair with interest, “Sasha, it’s nice to see you again.  Please excuse me, it’s been a long few weeks.” 

Sasha smiled sympathetically and if the smile didn't quite reach her eyes, Andy was sure she was the only one who noticed, “Not at all Andréa.  I hope you get some rest.” 

Andy grit her teeth, as she turned and stalked up the stairs, dragging her bags behind her.  How dare that woman call her that?  Only Miranda ever called her Andréa!  The pronunciation was something special and exotic between them.  In their bedroom, Andy tossed the suitcase by the closet door and proceeded to unpack, slamming drawers in her temper.

She continued tossing stuff from her overnight bag on the bed, emptying the larger suitcase in a pile on the floor to be sorted through later.  She reached for her messenger bag and immediately her anger lessened.  Inside were the gifts she had brought Miranda and the girls.  Hugging the bag to her chest, she sat on the bed as waves of sadness and melancholy rolled through her.

What was wrong with her?  Miranda couldn't have known she was coming home tonight.  She had deliberately taken a much earlier flight to surprise her, so how could Andy be angry that Miranda hadn't just dropped everything to join her immediately?

She was working.  That was all. It was important and Andy had done her best not to begrudge the time Miranda put into Runway because it was so much a part of her identity.  Neither of the pair ever turned work into an issue between them. They were determined not to repeat the mistakes of their past partners.

They had agreed at the beginning that both of their careers were important, but that what they had was more important.  So they made the sacrifices and they worked it out.  One of them was always available for the girls and they made the time for each other as soon as they were reunited.  It wasn't perfect, but it was working.  And of course, as you settled into any relationship, the stress and grind over every day took its toll.

Maybe it was silly to think that Miranda would have dropped everything and greeted  her as if she was just home from the wars.  But two years ago, that is exactly what would have happened.  Were her comings and goings so commonplace that her absence didn't even phase Miranda anymore?

If she was honest with herself, it wasn't because Miranda was working that she was so upset.  No, it was because Sasha was in her home, in her spot on the loveseat, looking for all the world as if she belonged there beside the beautiful woman Andy shared her life with.

Sasha with her figure, her intelligence and her great fashion sense.  Sasha who was always just a quick text or call away from doing Miranda's bidding.  Sasha who had risen through the ranks in the last year and a half from an assistant in the Art Department to becoming Miranda's favored Managing Editor.

Snorting at herself, she wondered just how Sasha had made the rise in the ranks so quickly.  Nigel had been heading Men's Runway for the past two years, Emily had transferred to take over French Runway and here was Sasha, perfectly placed in Miranda's sight.

It was so obvious to Andy that Sasha had something more than hero-worship on her mind.  Something even more than lust. 

And that scared Andy to death. 

A hand on her cheek startled her and she looked up into worried blue eyes, "Andréa, what is it?  Has something happened?"

Andy stood quickly, setting the bag she had been hugging beside her on the bed.  She pulled Miranda into a fierce embrace, "Nothing's wrong.  I really am just tired, but I'm so glad to be home."  Burying her head in the crook of Miranda's neck, Andy breathed deeply, feeling peace begin to descend on her.  Miranda's unique scent calming her.

Feeling Miranda's hands roam gently over her back, she sighed.  "Andréa, why didn't you tell me you were coming in so early?  I would have been there or at the very least had Roy meet you." Miranda chided.

"I wanted to surprise you.  I'm sorry I interrupted you and Sasha," Andy began, uncertainty lacing her tone.

"You did not interrupt anything that couldn't wait until morning.  As you know, I'm restless when you aren't here.  I haven't been sleeping well and the days have been long.  I thought Sasha and I could get a jump on next month's layouts.  She is coming along remarkably well."

Hearing the pride in Miranda's voice, Andy stiffened and pulled away. "Well, that's good, I guess.  Do you mind if I take a shower?  I want to wash the airport off of me.  An eight-hour flight is no fun."

Andy saw the confusion pass over Miranda's features, "Darling, you live here. You don't need my permission to enter any room or use anything."  Andy stepped away from Miranda and towards the bathroom as Miranda's questioning voice stopped her, "Why would you even ask, my Andréa?"

Shaking her head and refusing to answer, Andy went into the bathroom closing the door behind her.

___

Miranda heard the water begin to run and knew her lover would be a long time returning.  She hadn't missed the way those dark chocolate eyes had shuttered closed at the sight of Sasha in their home.  She had certainly not missed the way Andréa's body had clenched and stiffened against hers, refusing to yield and mold to her own, as the younger woman normally did.

Methodically, Miranda began sorting the laundry that lay in a heap on the bedroom floor.  She had heard the drawers slamming and had called an end to the evening, showing Sasha to the door.  Whatever was wrong with Andréa took precedence over any meeting or lesson.  In truth, if she had known the young woman would be returning, she never would have had the other woman over.

Oh, how she had missed her Andréa!

Finishing going through two weeks' worth of travel worn clothes, she spotted the messenger bag on the bed.  Andréa had been holding so tightly to the bag when she had come in the room.  She wondered what was in it but would certainly never invade her love's privacy.  Carefully, she moved the bag to the small loveseat  in the sitting area of the bedroom.

Deciding enough was enough, Miranda headed into the bathroom determined to talk with Andréa.  The steam was heavy and thick.  Decision made, she quietly disrobed before sliding the shower door back to join the woman who was currently trying to drown herself from the looks of things.

She saw just when Andréa realized she was not alone, as the younger woman instinctively tried to cover herself.  Miranda didn't say anything. She just reached for the body wash and soaped her hands beginning a lazy exploration of her lover's back and shoulders. 

Feeling the tense muscles, she turned her caress into more of a massage as Andréa braced herself against the shower wall, presenting her back to Miranda.

"Were you able to get all you needed for the article on the Teamsters strike?" Miranda asked, soothing tendons stretched taut beneath her fingers.  She heard the hiss, as the knots began to release and Andréa finally spoke to her.

"Yeah, yeah I did.  It was pure hell because no one in the union wanted to talk, and of course you know the reputation they have." Miranda felt, more than heard, the groan as she began to work the younger woman's shoulder blades, "But it turns out they actually have a leg to stand on.  The big-wigs are trying to cut their health insurance and their contract states they should be covered for another two years at least.  I gotta tell you, when I went out there I thought for sure the Teamsters would be in the wrong."

Miranda smiled, knowing how hard her Andréa worked to be objective, "I'm proud of you.  I know you were not originally on the side of organized labor.  I'm looking forward to reading your article."  Miranda finished her ministrations, leaning forward to kiss Andréa's shoulders, "But I admit to being  much more interested in taking you to bed."

All at once, Miranda felt Andy straighten under her hands. Sighing, she spoke, "To sleep, Andréa.  You've been traveling far too long and look much too tired for me to engage in any extra activities tonight." Miranda dropped a kiss on the younger woman's shoulder, "As much as I may wish to."

Reaching around the younger woman to turn off the water, Miranda stepped out of the shower retrieving their bath towels and holding one open for the other woman.

"I'm sorry, Miranda.  You know what they say...the spirit is willing...but my body just can't tonight." 

Touched at the chagrined look on her lover's face, Miranda pulled her closer, wrapping her in the towel, "I never doubted it.  But I would very much like to hold you tonight.  I have missed you."

Andy nodded and Miranda led her into the bedroom. The pair settled into the massive bed and it took only a moment for Miranda to wind herself around Andréa like a vine. 

The last thing Miranda heard before succumbing to sleep was the whispered, "I love you," from the woman in her arms.

____

Andy laughed, "Miranda, you do realize you have flour on your cheek, right?"  The pair were home together on a Saturday morning.  The twins were out with their friends at the mall and Andy still grimaced over the panic attack that discussion had brought on in Miranda. It basically amounted to Miranda having to begin releasing the apron strings and the Dragon had not taken that idea well.

But the upshot was they currently had the house to themselves. They were attempting to make homemade tortillas so that they could enjoy breakfast burritos for brunch.

"Well, do tell how you would get these circular disks of frustration pressed out and not end up with some flour on your face?"  Miranda huffed, causing Andy to lean forward to kiss the tip of her nose. She laughed again, as Miranda rolled her eyes at the gesture.

Just as she was about to reply, Miranda's cell phone rang.  Andy immediately tensed and lost her good humor.  That was Sasha's special ring and Andy just knew her lazy Saturday with the woman she loved was over.

She bit her lip, as she listened to the one-sided conversation.

"What do you mean? The entire layout?  Accessories' as well?  Well, did you speak with Dermachelier.  Sasha...this is your job.  Fine.  Meet me at Runway in 25 minutes and be prepared to work.  Needless to say, no one leaves until this is resolved.  That's all!"

Miranda turned to Andy and she read the exasperation and regret in those slate blue eyes, "I'm sorry, Andréa.  It seems the Art Department burned some of Patrick's negatives and he is threatening to pull the remainder from our care.  I simply must go in as he is refusing to work with anyone but myself.  As you know, he still prefers to work entirely in film. He considers digital photography to be blasphemy. And of course Jocelyn's entire department decided to take leave of their senses and misplaced the entirety of their portion of the layout.  Needless to say, Jocelyn will need two new assistants by Monday as I will be terminating them.  Unfortunately, Sasha is coming along quite well, but she does not inspire the same sense of...urgency that I do." 

Andy had nodded and was already heading into the hall for Miranda's coat and bag.  She had dialed Roy as soon as Miranda had picked up her cell. Some habits die hard. 

"I am so sorry," Miranda said turning as she adjusted her collar.  Andy felt her lay her hand across Andréa's cheek.  Andy believed her.  Those blue eyes were regretful and slightly sad.

"Miranda, it's ok.  Call me later and let me know how late you'll be.  I can work on my article and we'll have more time to spend together tomorrow.  I'll pick up the girls and get them on the train to Greg's.  It's ok." 

Andy tried hard not to falter or to show her disappointment.  Secretly, she wondered if Sasha had burned the negatives on purpose.  Three times in the past month alone, she had found Miranda and Sasha working together in the library.  Twice, she had walked in as Sasha leaned over Miranda's shoulder, ostensibly showing her something on the computer.  Another time she had caught the woman stealing glances at Miranda's cleavage. Now, Andy wouldn't blame anyone for stealing glances at Miranda.  The woman was incredible but when she noticed Andy noticing, she had smirked before turning her attention back to Miranda.  That alone had raised Andy's hackles and made it harder to believe nothing was going on.

What was worse, Miranda did nothing to discourage the behavior! 

Then, of course, there was the fact that Miranda had been growing more distant lately.  She was taking more meetings and when Andy asked about them, her questions were waved off with an airy, "Oh, you know, just a meeting."   She couldn't bring herself to ask Miranda the real questions she wanted to know.  How would she do that anyway?  Just ask if Miranda was having an affair? 

Andy snorted.  Yeah, that would go over well.

She sighed, turning back to the disaster area that was their kitchen. She knew she had to rein in her imagination before it got the better of her.  Deciding manual labor might be the key, she set out to make the kitchen spotless.

_____

The town car sped along the streets of New York as Miranda tried to control her agitation.  She and Andréa had not had a Saturday morning alone in what felt like forever.  For it to be interrupted by Runway was most unacceptable to Miranda.  As Andréa's career began to really take off, she was traveling more and more. 

Their lazy days together were more precious than ever.

It was true that because of their relationship, the young journalist need not worry about supporting herself, but her Andréa had ambition.  She would not allow herself to be a kept woman.  The younger woman contributed financially to their household because it made her feel she was an equal to Miranda.  She also wanted to be the best at what she did and so how could Miranda do anything other than support that?  If it meant Andréa travelled to California to cover a labor dispute or traveled to Greece to follow the economic issues of that country, how could Miranda do anything other than loose the jesses and await for her return with loving arms? 

"Roy, don't dawdle.  I'd like to put out this latest series of professional disasters and return home at some point before I collect social security."

Turning back to the window, she allowed her thoughts to trace over the plans she was making.  Knowing that Andréa's star had nowhere to go but up, Miranda had been busily making contingency plans for the last 11 months.  She wanted to be able to give Andréa the security to fly long and high, always having that safe place to land.  But there were...obstacles.  Miranda was working hard to remove them.

Their relationship worked so well because each of them thought of the other.  They bent for each other and meshed together as a complete unit.  It wasn't simple or easy, but it was far more fulfilling than either of her marriages had been. 

The only problem was that Runway took so much of her time from Andréa and her girls.  Her days were so structured that she had very little flexibility or freedom.  Oh, what she wouldn't give to be able to just set her laptop down and lay aside her cell phone for a single day, where she knew if she did not answer it, there would be no professional repercussions!

 When she considered her career with Runway, she realized that she had reached a plateau.  Once you were on top, there was nowhere to go but down.  It was true that she was still balancing that knife edge and had not yet toppled, but it was only a matter of time.

Defending her kingdom time and again had sapped much of her joy in Runway, and she was no longer as creatively fulfilled as she once was.  If she was honest with herself, she felt much more renewed when reviewing a new piece by Andréa.

She was overjoyed as she saw her lover reap the rewards and benefits of her talent and hard work.  As a freelance writer, her work was impeccable.  She chose the stories she wanted to tell and made certain she did them justice.

But there were times when Andréa would turn down an assignment that Miranda knew she would have excelled at.  Most of the times were because of scheduling conflicts with her girls.  The young journalist loved her daughters and that feeling was certainly mutual.  She never begrudged a missed opportunity due to recitals or chorus or any other innumerable school activity that the girls had decided to try.

Instead, she simply adjusted her schedule to be available.  And at this stage in the young woman's career, as good as she was, it could hurt her to turn down prime work.  In short, it was simply unacceptable!  Andréa was too good to compromise herself into mediocrity over the misguided opinion that Miranda could not adjust her own career.

So changes needed to happen.  Miranda had yet to speak with Andréa about the changes she intended to implement.  She would certainly do so as soon as all her plans were in order.  But for now, she simply had to make herself more available than ever before to the demands of Runway and other professional endeavors, so that she could eventually move forward into a future that prioritized her family more fully.

Andréa had noticed the increase in meetings and conference calls from home. She had begun questioning Miranda.  It pained the editor not to be able to reveal the full truth, but she believed that in the end it would be worth it.  She did not wish to raise the young woman's expectations only for the house of cards to crash around them because some silly detail had been overlooked.  No, she would wait for the foundation of their future to be solid before raising the topic.

There was a difference between living on hope and planning for the future you wanted, and blind faith that everything would turn out correctly simply because one wished it to.  And her Andréa, no matter how mature, was still young with inexperience sometimes.

"Here we are, Miranda," Roy said breaking into her thoughts.  She realized they must have been sitting for several moments for him to address her at all.

"Thank you, Roy."  Miranda exited the town car and made her way up to her office to see just exactly how she could save the fashion universe today.

____

Miranda strode into her office and before she could begin to remove her coat, Sasha was there to help remove it from her shoulders.

"Miranda, I'm so sorry to bother you but I really felt we needed your particular touch with Patrick," Miranda felt Sasha's fingers glide across the back of her neck and internally she sighed. 

She had hoped her Managing Editor was getting over this little crush of hers.  Sasha had a talent for editorial work and some decent fashion vision.  Miranda tried to nurture talent where she found it but if she had a dollar for every time some young woman or young man developed a work place infatuation for her...well, she would be far better off financially than she already was.

For the most part, it did not affect their working relationship. The woman knew about her Andréa after all and why any individual would believe they could turn Miranda's head away from the intriguing woman she had chosen to live her life with was beyond her.  So, Miranda ignored the casual flirtation and made sure she did nothing to escalate the affections.

"Of course, Sasha, but remember that every challenge is a chance for you to prove your capability to lead."  Miranda sat down at her desk and was pleased to note a fresh latte was awaiting her.  "If you can't lead during a crisis situation then you can't lead at all."

"Yes, Miranda," Sasha answered in a subdued tone.

Miranda turned her attention to talking her favorite photographer off the ledge.  As she spoke into the phone, she made certain to praise Sasha to Patrick and watched the young woman preen under the flattering the words. 

"Patrick, darling, of course I trust Sasha.  Would I leave you in less than capable hands?"  Miranda rolled her eyes as the photographer gushed and expressed his joy at her timely intervention on his behalf, "Now, I'm going to turn you over to Sasha while I set up our new layout to showcase those lovely images you took at the falls for me last spring?  Oh, yes, of course...my love to Mia."

Miranda cocked an eyebrow and handed Sasha the phone, covering the mouthpiece, "Do not disappoint me, Sasha."

Turning her attention to the Accessories Department disaster, Miranda worked in silence for several hours.  As she adjusted, replaced, manipulated and micro-managed every detail to work with the new set of prints Patrick sent over, she barely noticed the amount of time that had passed.

"Miranda, it's well past three.  I took the liberty of ordering you something. I really think you should eat." Sasha had appeared in front of her desk holding a beautifully plated salmon dish obviously from Smith and Wollensky's. 

Startled, Miranda checked the time groaning inwardly at how much of her day was gone.  She gave in to the need for sustenance.  Nodding her acceptance, Sasha placed her plate on a clear spot on the smoked glass top of her desk. 

"I brought wine as well.  Perhaps a glass couldn't hurt?" Sasha questioned deferentially.

Sighing, Miranda decided she had earned it, "That sounds lovely. Have we received the prints from Patrick? I believe I have finally put together the beginning of a layout for those prints."

Miranda watched as Sasha lost her tension, her quiet self confidence returning as she moved with familiarity around Miranda's office, retrieving the rarely used wine glasses and corkscrew.

"Yes, he was quite amenable to allowing us to use those shots from the Falls.  I think he was overjoyed you wanted to use some of the location shots and not just the backdrops."  Making a show of competently opening the wine and pouring with a flourish, so that not a drop was wasted, Miranda tilted her head to the side as she was presented with the glass.

She wanted to roll her eyes, but it would be counterproductive.  Ms. Brooks was definitely slick but Miranda would never pass over true sincerity for a veneer of polish.  In some ways, she pitied the younger woman and hoped she would move on from her hopeless fantasies sooner rather than later.

As the pair enjoyed their lunch, Sasha began asking questions.  At first, Miranda found the conversation quite pleasant.  The woman was intelligent after all.  But it was when the questions changed in nature that Miranda found herself getting annoyed.

"So, how often does Andréa leave you during the week?  I noticed you were not accompanied to the charity dinner for Presbyterian Hospital last week?  I was suprised you were alone."

Miranda felt her eyebrow raise, "Andréa was home with the children.  To be honest, I would rather have my children comfortable and happy than have a "plus one" at my side.  I am quite capable of going unescorted to a simple function."

Sasha had nodded thoughtfully, "Well, I know she travels quite a bit.  If you ever need an escort when Andréa is off traipsing through the muck and the downtrodden I am always available."

Miranda had narrowed her eyes.  It was one thing to imply that Miranda herself was lacking because Andréa was not at her side for every event, it was quite another to imply that the journalist's work was somehow demeaning.  That would not do.  Not at all.

"Sasha, you've given enough of your day to Runway.  Clear the office and then be on your way.  I shall see you no sooner than Monday morning."  As Sasha sat stunned in front of her, Miranda couldn't help but add, "That's all."

After the willowy brunette left, Miranda resigned herself to several more hours fixing the layout.  But at least now she could concentrate and she would not have someone maligning the woman she loved in the name of juvenile infatuation.

____

Across town, Andy had cleaned the kitchen,  Then she had seen the girls off to their fathers with promises of ice cream sundaes and a movie night with her and Miranda when they returned.  Finally, she had dutifully sat down and cranked out 2500 words on the plight of the homeless and the never-ending cycle while they tried to find employment.  How could you get a job with no address and no interview clothing?  And how did the world at large believe it was possible without even basic access to clean clothes and hygiene?

These were the pieces that Andy loved to write.  The pieces that might be able to raise some eyebrows and cause real change in the world. 

But now it was 3o'clock and she was missing Miranda.  The Fashion Queen had left home before 10 am and still Andy had not heard from her.  Maybe Andy has misunderstood that Miranda was only going in to resolve some issues and then coming home?

Making up her mind, she jumped to her feet grabbing her keys and a light jacket. She made her way across town, stopping to grab Miranda's favorite Indian food from that place she liked three blocks from her office.  Detouring into Starbucks, she acquired a piping hot latte and made her way across the street into Elias-Clarke.

Nodding at Mike, the security guard, she made her way towards the elevator that would take her to visit the Queen.  She chuckled to herself.  At home, Miranda was just Miranda.  A woman who left her panty hose on the floor, dropped the cap of the toothpaste in the sink and left it there and occasionally forgot to hang up her wet towels.

Here, in this glass tower, she was royalty and treated as such.  It never failed to tickle Andy, that she was allowed to call Miranda out on the small details of her life.  Just as she reached the elevator, the door opened and Sasha stepped out.

Andy's eyes hardened as all amusement fled. She tried to greet the other woman graciously, "Sasha.  How nice to see you again."

The feral grin and not-so-subtle once-over Andy received caused the hair on the back of her neck to rise.  Andy was wearing worn Levi's and a long sleeve boat neck tee shirt.  Clothes you would lounge around in as opposed to the designer  wraparound blouse, pleated jacket and asymmetrical skirt the taller woman was wearing.

"Andréa," Sasha purred, "Oh, Indian food is it? I'm afraid she probably won't be very...hungry.  She's been well fed you see."  Walking past Andy, she turned to look over her shoulder at the other woman, winking at her, "Ta for now. I'm sure I'll see you soon."

Andy felt her body start to tremble as she regarded the snake-in-human form.  Seeing red, Andy turned and left the building.

_____

"So I don't even know what's going on anymore,"  Andy let out a deep breath  and leaned forward into Doug's sturdy shoulder.  She had texted Miranda and told her that Doug had invited her out for dinner and drinks.  Miranda had texted back apologizing once again for being late.  She had told Andy to have fun and send Doug her love. 

Andy had immediately called Doug and begged him to meet her for dinner.  She had given the two orders of Indian food to a homeless woman by the subway after she left Elias-Clarke earlier in the day.  She hadn't gone home, instead just riding the trains aimlessly until deciding to call Doug. 

She needed a sounding board. 

Feeling his arm tighten around her shoulder, Andy gave in and let her tears fall, "Doug, I just feel so far away from her.  I don't understand why!  We live together.  I see her every day, but it's like we're in different time zones or something.  The only time we come together  is over the twins."  Andy took a healthy swallow of her margarita and continued, "And then there's Sasha." 

"Whoa, whoa there, Andy.  You don't really think Miranda would cheat on you, do you?"

Andy knew Doug loved her like a sister but he adored Miranda as well, often saying he wished he could get half as lucky in his love life as Andy had in hers.

Sighing and wiping her eyes on her sleeve, she answered, "No." Andy shook her head,  "I don't know.  I don't think so. But Doug...I think she wants to.  And that...I mean...how do I..?"

Doug pulled Andy back against him, "Have you talked to her?  Tried maybe even something like a date night?  It's gotta be hard to be a couple when the two of you are always so busy.  And I imagine what time you have together...well a lot has to be taken up by the girls."  Just as Andy opened her mouth to protest, Doug continued "That's not a bad thing, Andy, but it means you have to make more of an effort as lovers."

Andy scoffed, "Lovers, yeah.  About that."

Doug's eyes widened, eyebrows rising to his hairline as he waited.

"We haven't had a lot of chances to connect lately and when we do, it just feels weird." Andy confessed.  "It doesn't really lend itself to the mood."

Doug signaled for another round, "Andy, you have to make the time!  You also need to tell Miranda what you're so worried about.  The woman isn't stupid.  She's probably feeling you pull away from her too.  You've said it yourself, she asks you what's wrong and you blow it off.  Well, how can you expect her to read your mind?"

Punching his shoulder Andy growled, "Hey, who's side are you on anyway?"

Doug chuckled, "I'm on love's side.  Which means I'm team Mirandy all the way.  It sounds like there's a lack of communication going on."

Andy sipped her new drink and thought for a moment, "Doug, Sasha would be so perfect for Miranda.  She's super smart.  She's completely put-together.  She's gorgeous and intelligent. And she's all about fashion!"  Andy groaned and put her head down on the table.

"You, in fact, have none of those qualities.  You're right, of course, Andy.  To be honest, I should take you home now so we can get you fitted with a helmet.  Not to mention a paper bag to hide your hideous face."  Doug laughed, as Andy rallied enough to punch him again in the shoulder.  "Andy, you're gorgeous, smart, down-to-earth and a total catch."  Andy felt Doug put his hands on her cheeks, forcing her to look up at him, "Miranda loves you.  You, Andy.  Every couple has difficulties.  So do what you do, and find your way through  them."

Staring into earnest hazel eyes, Andy felt herself nod before throwing her arms around Doug's neck in a fierce hug. 

"Thank you, Dougie.  You're the best."

____

Miranda had spent more time at the office after receiving the text from Andréa.  It made no sense to her to go home to an empty house.  As a result it was just past 9:30pm when she walked in her front door.  Heading directly up the stairs, she was ready to forget about this disappointing day.

It had started off so promising, with Andréa and she cooking together.  For a few hours, all was well and she thought perhaps, just perhaps mind you, she would learn about what had been bothering her love.  But of course, Runway had intruded. 

As it always did.

She was pleased her talks with Marion were proceeding much in the direction she wanted them to go.  She hoped soon to be able to tell Andréa that she would be leaving Runway behind.  That she would be able to devote even more time to her and their family.  That she could invest now in this new chapter of their lives together.

If that was, indeed, still what the younger woman wanted.  Of late, Miranda had begun to wonder.  Even when they were together there was a distance between them that had not existed a year ago.

As she readied herself for bed, alone, she thought perhaps she needed to make more of an effort with her partner.  Maybe an evening out or a weekend alone, just for the two of them.  Might it make the difference in bringing Andréa back to her?

She resolved to talk to the other woman in the morning.  Provided Andréa was here when she woke.

____

Andy stumbled up the steps of the townhouse, waving goodbye to Doug as the taxi faded away into the distance.  Carefully, she punched in her code to deactivate the alarm and made her way into the den.  She tossed her jacket on the couch in an act of defiance.  Miranda hated it when she didn't hang up her coat.  Which was a laugh, considering for the first year she had known the other woman, she was always throwing her coat at her!

Realizing that it was after midnight and that Miranda would most likely be in bed, Andy carefully made her way to their room.  She and Doug had shared dinner and then gone dancing.  It had been a long time since she had danced and drank until her head swam.

Normally, she had no need for alcohol because she had Miranda.  She was better than all the top-shelf liquor in all of New York.  But lately, she hadn't been feeling that way very often.  And she wanted it back.

Stepping quietly into their bedroom, she saw that Miranda was curled in the center of their bed, her head on Andy's own pillow.  Suddenly, Andy felt bad for leaving without talking to Miranda earlier in the day.  Bad for leaving her on her own tonight.  Just bad in general for all the hurt and distance between them.

She wanted her Miranda back.

Changing clumsily, she climbed into the bed on Miranda's side, wrapping her arms around the woman who held her heart.  Pulling Miranda, closer and resting her head on the older woman's shoulder from behind she tried to match their breathing.

Just as she began drifting off, she felt Miranda squeeze Andy's arm that was wrapped around the older woman's middle.

"I missed you tonight." Miranda breathed so softly that Andy almost missed it.

Andy hugged her tighter and waited until her breathing evened out to reply.

"I miss you every night, Miranda."

____

Andy was running late.  She had texted and called ahead.  But still.  This was one time she really wished she had given into Miranda and used the car service. 

She was late for dinner with Miranda.  Since her night out with Doug she and Miranda had talked about the need to focus on being together as a couple.  Andy had been suprised at how amenable Miranda was to the idea of taking one night a week just for them.

So tonight, they had made plans to meet for dinner after work.  And she was late because the train was late.  She had been in a meeting across town with her editor and time had gotten away from her.  She had called and Miranda assured her it was ok.

But it wasn't ok.  Not really. 

Striding into Pastis', she waved off the Maître'D as she spotted Miranda at her usual table.  Hurrying across the restaurant, she held out open hands, as Miranda rose to greet her with a kiss on the cheek.

"Miranda, I'm so sorry," Andy began in a rush.  She was brought up short as Miranda only smiled and motioned to her to sit.

"Andréa, it's ok.  This is a night out for pleasure not business." Grinning mischievously, Miranda continued, "Stuff happens."  She shrugged elegantly.

Andy snorted at the woman's use of the word stuff. "Thank you, Miranda.  Not only for being so understanding, but for meeting me tonight."

"Of course, darling.  Our relationship, next to the girls, is the most important thing to me.  How could I not make time for us?"

Andy took in the outfit Miranda had chosen for the evening.  Deep purple slacks with a gold gypsy blouse.  She looked youthful and fun but still elegant. Not bothering to censor herself she spoke, "Do you have any idea how amazing you look?"

She had the pleasure of watching slate blue eyes light with pleasure.  "Thank you.  It's not every evening I get the chance to dine out with the woman I love.  I thought I would take a little extra care tonight."

Andy let her eyes roam, "Miranda, you always look amazing.  But thank you for making the effort for me."  She broke off as the waiter came to take their orders.  At her small nod, Miranda ordered for them both. 

The silence hung heavy over the table and Andy struggled for a way to break it.  When it had become awkward to spend time alone with Miranda?

"I met with Chris today," She tried, and since Miranda looked interested, continued, "He's offering me the piece on school shootings and wants me to travel to California and Texas."

She realized she had the older woman's attention as Miranda's eyes widened, "Andréa, that is a very controversial piece.  What side will you be taking in this debate?"

Andy drew in a deep breath. Miranda asked what side would she take...not whether she would do the piece.  Miranda knew Andy would want to write it and what's more, she was supporting her with it. 

God, she loved this woman!

Andy shook her head, leaning forward, excited to share, "No no, he wants a well-rounded piece.  He wants the side of the Dems about gun control but he also wants to hear more from teachers and parents about what can be done in the schools to stop the violence."

Miranda sipped her wine, "This could be a very influential story.  This is not a simple article is it?"

Andy bit her lip, "If I do it right it could be award-winning."And now Andy hesitated, "But it means at least three weeks of traveling.  And right now, with the problems we're having...I just...I'm not sure it would be fair to go."

"Enough, of course you'll go.  This could be the article that breaks the world wide open for you. I will not even allow you to consider not going."  Miranda reached forward to capture Andy's hand. "Our relationship will be here when you get back." Miranda breathed deeply, "I'll be here when you get back."

Andy nodding, squeezing Miranda's hand, "Then you agree?  You think we're in trouble as a couple?"

Miranda shook her head, nostrils flaring, "Darling, I would not say we're in trouble.  I would say we are having some issues, but as I understand it lots of successful relationships have issues.  It would be foolish to think that we would never face challenges together.  What I want you to understand is that I want to weather those challenges with you."  And now Miranda leaned forward, her voice low and full of hurt, "But I cannot if you continue to pull away from me."

Andy stung at the accusation.  She wouldn't be pulling back if Miranda wasn't spending all of her time in meetings and with Miss "8th Wonder of the World" Sasha!

Trying to control her emotions, Andy spoke quietly and carefully, "I'm not trying to pull away.  I'm just trying to be understanding and give you the time you need for Runway.  And whatever else you have going on these days."

Miranda cocked an eyebrow at her, "What do you mean by that?"

Andy sat up straight in her chair, "Miranda, I know you've been going to offsite meetings and getting phone calls at weird hours.  When I ask, you blow it off.  I can only assume Irv is making another play for your job."

Sighing deeply, Miranda sat back as their meals were served.  It wasn't the time to let on about the changes she wanted to make.  Tonight was supposed to be about them as a couple, "I can assure you those meetings have no bearing on the here and now.  What I do know is that each time you travel, less and less of you seems to come back to me.  I miss you, Andréa.  I miss us and the priority we made of each other."

Deflating as Miranda's words hit home, Andy agreed, "I am out of sorts when I travel.  When I'm gone, all I want is to come home to you.  But when I'm home, I'm at loose ends never knowing when the next assignment is coming.   Maybe that's it."

Miranda shook her head, "Not just that but it could be a part of it.  You could always look into working on a monthly column if a more traditional role is what you want.  But I know you enjoy your articles.  But what I think is this: we need to make more time for the pair of us.  Perhaps a weekend trip, just you and I.  Or even just more evenings like this to be together and talk."

Andy played with the spoon and sipped her after dinner coffee, "I hate how hard it is to talk to you right now.  I spent the subway ride here preparing a list of topics of conversation."  Andy looked up, brown eyes shining with moisture, "I used to be able to tell you anything."

"And that is what I want again.  Somewhere along the way, Darling, we stopped talking to each other. I think that is what needs to be fixed before anything else."  Andy watched as Miranda reached out to trace the track of one traitorous tear as it fell. She leaned into the older woman's palm, sighing at how good it felt to touch and be touched.

It had been a long time since she had actually felt this close to the older woman.  Coming to a decision, Andy stood up, "I'll tell Chris that I'll do the piece, only if you promise that we'll continue date nights and really make the effort to talk to each other."  Andy helped Miranda into her coat, "You're too important for me to lose through neglect, Miranda."

"Darling, I feel exactly the same way."

Holding Miranda's hand, Andy led her from the restaurant and into the waiting car.  She felt an unfamiliar warmth spreading through her chest like a fire and realized after a moment what it was. 

Hope.

It had been so long since she had felt it, she almost forgot its name.  But now, with Miranda leaning into her, resting her head on Andy's shoulder, things felt more hopeful than they had in ages.

Hope, Andy would live on it.  Because the alternative was to lose Miranda.  And that could not happen.

____

Andy paid the driver and grabbed her two suitcases.  It was two o'clock in the afternoon and she'd been gone from home for a month.  The piece was going to be amazing.  Chris thought they could make this article really shine and Andy couldn't help but agree.

She couldn't wait to show Miranda.  It had been a grueling, heart-breaking month. She spoke with the families affected by school shootings.  Talked with the community leaders and interviewed the politicians.

Every evening she had tried to call Miranda but the pair didn't always get the chance to speak.  They texted often. But Andy still couldn't help but feel like she had no idea what was going on in Miranda's life.

She had begun to wonder whether freelancing was for her.  She loved the excitement and the hunt of the story but didn't know anymore if it was worth losing her family.  Miranda and the twins were the driving force in her life that made everything else worth it.  Writing held part of her soul, it was true. But what she had learned in her trips away was that the three Priestly women were her heart.

How long could a person survive with only a 1/4 of their heart?

For the entire month, she had been conflicted and lonely.  She had decided to talk with Miranda and see if maybe Runway would be willing to do a human interest column every month.  Something fashion-related, of course.  It wasn't a perfect solution, but maybe it was a beginning.

She needed to be home more.  It's not like her family could travel with her.  Miranda had responsibilities and the girls had school

Finally making it into the house, Andy dropped her bags by the door. The house was quiet, which wasn't surprising as Miranda was probably still at the office.  God, what day was it again?  Checking her cell phone she realized the girls would be at violin practice.

Groaning she made her way to the loveseat and sat down.  There was a comfort that came from arriving home after a long absence that couldn't be beat.  Stretching out, she twisted her neck feeling the tendons pop. 

Andy stiffened when something caught her eye on the coffee table in front of her.  Two wine glasses, both with lipstick on the rim.  Feeling her heart begin to race,  Andy reached out a trembling hand.  She couldn't believe her eyes.

Miranda would never be caught dead wearing such a pale color.  Eyes watering and her heart breaking, she only had one thought. 

Sasha.

"Andréa?"

Turning and looking up, she watched as Miranda descended from the third level.  She was obviously freshly showered and was wearing the blue silk robe Andy had gifted her with the first Christmas they spent together.

"Darling, you're home!  Your last text said you weren't sure whether it would be today or tomorrow!"  Andy turned and strode into the kitchen, tears running down her face.

Here she was, contemplating giving up her career to spend more time with Miranda, and Miranda was...Miranda was...

"Andréa?"

Andy spun on the older woman, "How fucking dare you, Miranda?"

Miranda looked as if Andy had physically struck her, "Excuse me?"

Andy moved to get directly in Miranda's space, "I've been gone a month.  I tried to keep in touch. I did everything we talked about to keep our relationship going.  How long did you wait, Miranda?  How long did you wait until you had her here?"

Blue eyes flashed like lightning, "Be very careful of your next words, Andréa.  I'm not sure what has gotten into you, but I'm hoping you're about to tell me you smacked your head while you were gone.  Because it sounds like you are about to accuse me of cheating on you."

Warning bells went off in Andy's mind.  That tone of voice, silky smooth and cold, deceptively mild.  Miranda only ever used that tone of voice when she was caught in rage.  Unlike most people, Miranda's anger never ran hot.  It ran icy.  So cold it could actually burn.

"Well, didn't you?"  Andy's chin jutted out and defiance turned her stance aggressive.  No matter what, she would stand up for herself.

Miranda's nostrils flared and when she spoke, her voice was flint hard, edged with hurt, "Because I love you and because of how very much you mean to me and to this family, Andréa, I would be willing to forgive you for that ridiculous accusation."  Miranda stood very still and rigid, drawing herself to her full height,  "Apologize. Now."

Andy shook her head, "Apologize for what, Miranda?  I barely hear from you for a month. Five-minute phone calls in between meetings?  Ten minutes before bed?  When I called your office, your assistants wouldn't put me through.  Usually, I was told you were in meetings with her.  I come home to surprise you, because god dammit,  I love you!  And what do I find?  Two wine glasses in the den and you home in the middle of the day.  Freshly showered, coming from our bedroom."  Andy glared, as tears began to fall in earnest, "Is she still here? Is she in our bed?"

Miranda's mouth opened and closed, "Andréa, what are you talking about?  Who is this elusive "she" that I am supposedly cheating on you with?  I have been in meetings most of this month.  That is true and each time you called, Jessica told me.  And I always tried to at least text you back."  Andy felt strong fingers dig into her upper arms, "Just who is it that you think is in our bed?  And what on earth have I done to give you that impression?"

Andy couldn't hold back the sob as she tried to break away from the older woman's hold on her, "Don't lie to me!" she screamed.  All of her pain, all of her anger and confusion finding voice in that one simple sentence.  Months of doubt, of hurt, of humiliation and fear tore her throat as she yelled in her lover's face.

Breaking away, Miranda flinched from the pure, raw emotion.  Andy turned and ran back through the den and up the stairs to their bedroom, intent on learning the truth. 

Hitting the door at a dead run, she burst into the room.

Eyes scouring the room, covering her mouth with her hand, she sobbed brokenly. 

The empty room mocked her, the bed neatly made.  There was no sign of another.

"Andréa.  What is going on in that head of yours?"

Miranda's breathless voice was tired and harsh.  But even through the obvious anger and confusion, there was warmth.

Stunned, Andy turned to look back at the older woman.  Opening and closing her mouth, gasping for air she bent over, sinking to her knees on the carpet.

Immediately, she felt Miranda's arms encircle her, "Breathe, darling.  Just breathe.  You have got to calm down."  Andy continued to shake and sob.  She could hear Miranda, but the kindness and care was too much for her battered heart to take.

"Andréa! Enough!" Miranda's voice held the whip-crack authority of Runway and instinctively Andy responded to it.

Slowly, she straightened in Miranda's arms and managed to choke out a single word.

"Sasha."

Confusion ghosted through Miranda's eyes, before a dawning comprehension flowed over the older woman's features, "Andréa, no.  You cannot possibly think there is anything between myself and Sasha?"

"Why not?  She wants you!  It's so easy to see.  And why not?  She's perfect for you.  Smart, funny, capable and fashion-oriented.  Not to mention gorgeous."  Andy lowered her eyes to the floor, "She's your perfect match.  And you spend all of your time with her." The last sentence was an accusation and Andy tried to turn away but Miranda had other ideas.

"Andréa, do you think I'm a stupid woman?  Do you believe I am unable to tell when someone harbors so-called feelings for me?  Every minion at one time or another gets a crush on the Snow Queen.  Sasha is no different."  Miranda's eyes searched Andy's face, "The difference is that I could not care less how Sasha feels.  There is no room for me to care about Sasha in that way.  All of that space is taken up with you.  And yes, I have been spending more time with her than I do with a subordinate.  But with good reason."

Andy watched, as Miranda took a deep breath.  She guided Andy to their bed and made her sit. "Darling, I have known for some time that your commitment to me and our girls is holding back your own career." Andy opened her mouth to protest but was silenced as Miranda placed a finger on her lips, "Please, do not interrupt.  I'm not saying you are resentful or unwilling, but what I am saying is that you are young.  You are at the start of a very promising career.  If you were free to travel more and do the stories that take you further from home, your success would come so much sooner."

Grasping Miranda's hands in her own, Andy spoke, "Miranda, I would never trade success for my life with you and the girls."

Miranda nodded, "I am aware.  But where you are just beginning your journey, I am reaching the end of mine.  I get so much joy and pleasure watching you create.  The excitement in your eyes when a new article is proposed to you...the joy as you uncover the truth of a complicated situation...these things bring me more joy than Paris has in years." 

Looking into her eyes, Miranda continued, "Andréa, Sasha is being groomed to be the new EIC for Runway.  I will be stepping down at the end of this year."

Andy gasped, dismayed and gripped Miranda's fingers so tightly, she was probably hurting the woman, "No, Miranda you can't!  You are Runway.  What will you do? Oh, God, you can't!"  Tears began to fall down her cheeks again, "Miranda if you do this because of me, you'll resent me and I'll lose you!"

Chuckling lowly, Miranda pulled Andréa up and into her arms.  For the first time in ages, Andréa molded into her body and settled there. 

"Andréa, Runway is not important to me in that way anymore.  I have a new endeavor on the horizon that I'm quite excited about.  I've wanted to tell you and I see now that perhaps I should have."  Miranda bit her lip gently.  Andy watched as the older woman drew back to look into her eyes, "I could have saved you this pain.  I see now why you've been pulling away from me.  Believing that Sasha had her hooks into me.  Andréa, you must forgive me.  I thought I was doing the right thing, but apparently I haven't learned as much about communication as I had thought."

Miranda looked so distressed and so honest, that Andy did the only thing she could think of.  She leaned forward and kissed her so very softly.  It was the merest brush of lips, the slightest hint of the tip of her tongue, but it was enough.

The recriminations stopped as Miranda's slate blue eyes lightened and some of that tell-tale sparkle returned, "I have decided to join the non-profit organization Dress for Success.  I will be the liaison for the non-profit and the fashion world, soliciting donations and helping to grow the program.  I got the idea from your piece on the homeless and how they would not be able to properly interview without clothes.  I contacted their director, Marion.  She and I have been in talks about how my role within the organization could be accomplished.  It can all be done remotely.  I can work from home or from anywhere, really."

Andy could hardly believe her ears.  The afternoon had started with her believing her relationship with Miranda was over, but instead Miranda had been making these life-altering plans.  "You would be able to travel with me?  That was your goal, wasn't it?  You got this idea from something I wrote?"

Miranda nodded very slightly, "That was one of the goals, yes.  The other was to be more available for the girls should you need to travel alone.  And yes, the idea was from your work,"  Now Miranda's eyes grew hard, "But all of this means nothing, Andréa, if you believe I've been unfaithful to you."

Andy winced, "I don't, Miranda, not really.  But Sasha has said some things, made implications and you and I have been so far apart for so long...I should have told you about my concerns a long time ago.  I should have trusted that you would have been honest with me."

Miranda sat down heavily on the bed, " Andréa I hear what you are saying but how was it that Sasha was able to shake your faith in me so easily?  What has happened to us?"

Andy closed her eyes against the honest emotion in her partners voice, "We stopped talking Miranda.  We stopped working.  We stopped making each other feel special.  That first night, when I came home?  All I wanted was to see your excitement that I was home.  All I could see, was that I had interrupted you.  That's what changed.  I wasn't the light in your eyes any more.  Somewhere, I lost you.  And I'm so sorry for that."  Andy closed her eyes as the implications hit her full force in the chest.  She had accused the love of her life of being unfaithful.  A woman who had been cheated on in her past.

As her tears fell, Andy opened her eyes, "Miranda, I am so sorry that I could ever have suspected that you would be unfaithful.  I know you know how that feels.  And I know you would never put someone else through that.  Especially not me."

"You are not the only one who made mistakes, Andréa.  I can forgive you if you forgive me.  I see now that I should have told you about the plans to leave Runway.  If only so that I could have eased your fears about my fictional resentment towards you.  But I promise you here and now that I will do everything in my power to make it up to you." Miranda sighed.

Andy leaned forward and pulled Miranda into her arms, "I'm sorry that I hurt you, Miranda.  I knew I was pulling away and I knew it bothered you.  I guess I just couldn't reconcile my feelings with what I thought I was seeing.  Miranda, I can't promise that I will never feel insecure but I can promise that from now on I will come to you. I will talk to you and I will let you know how I'm feeling before my issue becomes our issue."

Miranda nodded, "So now we know.  This relationship is precious to me, Darling.  You are precious to me.  A candle holds no light compared to the brilliance of a bonfire, Andréa.  You are the fire for me.  You are what I desire.  I love you so much, Andréa."

Andy hugged Miranda tighter and whispered into her hair, "I love you too, Miranda.  Thank you for being willing to change for me.  I've been unhappy traveling.  I've needed you and the girls with me.  I've never liked being disconnected from your day-to-day as much as I have been.  I've been feeling like I've been ripped in half because I like my work.  Thank you for coming up with a solution.  Are you sure you'll be happy?"

Miranda smirked, "Anything that allows me to work from wherever you are will make me happy.  And just think, I'll be bring fashion to the fashionless." Miranda eyed Andy up and down, "We both know I am quite capable of doing that!"

Andy laughed, swatting playfully at Miranda's arm, amazed at how at-ease she suddenly felt with the older woman again,  "Gee, thanks. You wear one poly-blend sweater and you're marked for life."

Miranda smirked, "Don't forget the mules, dear."

Andy glared at Miranda before breaking up in laughter, pulling the older woman to fall backwards with her onto the bed, "I'll never forget the mules because they got you to notice me."  She kissed the older woman gently, "I'm so glad to be home."

Miranda's hands began wandering and soon Andy was arching beneath her, quite distracted, "Darling, I just have one more piece of fashion-related advice for you."

"Mmhmm, what's that?" Andy asked, more intent on the talented fingers that were kneading her back muscles, than what Miranda was saying

”You do not look good in green!"

___

One Year Later:  The Greek Islands

"Girls, be careful on those boards.  I mean it.  Caroline, do not knock your sister off of her board.  That's dangerous."  Miranda shaded her eyes and watched as the twins continued on their boogie boards in the surf. 

It was summer break and the family had traveled to the Mediterranean, where Andréa was doing a follow-up piece on the economic survival of the Greek Islands.  Thankfully, they had been able to take the girls with them this time. 

The last year had seen many changes, as Miranda had indeed stepped down from Runway.  She was enjoying her new position with Dress for Success as she created a well-stocked "closet" for the outreach program to draw from.  She had been instrumental in restructuring and creating a new way of looking at the idea of providing clothing.  As a result, the non-profit had grown over 33% in the past year.

She was able to travel all over the country at practically a moment's notice, and she chose to do so often with her Andréa. 

Miranda started as cool lotion was spread over the bare skin at her back.  She had allowed Andréa to talk her into wearing a bikini this trip.

"I don't want you burning this time, Miranda." Andréa's voice was for her ears alone, "I have plans for you later after the girls are asleep."

Miranda turned her head and felt her heart lift at the clear joy reflected in the deep chocolate brown eyes.  "Darling, I always have plans for you.  Did you finish your article?"

Andy sat down, stretching out her legs and burying her toes in the sand, "Yep, I finished just about thirty minutes ago.  You know what that means, right?"

Miranda laughed, "Two free days to play in the sun?"

Andy grinned, "Absolutely.  Can I interest you in going for a swim?"

Miranda nodded but as Andréa rose, she grasped her arm, "Before we do, would you mind if we sat for just a few moments more?"  She could feel herself getting nervous.  Looking out at the girls she nodded twice as they had agreed.  Was now the time or should she wait?  Second-guessing herself  had never gotten her anywhere.  Annoyed with her hesitation, she simply reached into her beach bag, "Andréa, do you realize what day today is?"

"Saturday?"

Miranda ignored the playful sarcasm, "It was a year ago today that we almost lost each other.  So I thought what better time to ask?"  Without saying anything further, she handed over the small box as her heart hammered in her chest.

She watched as Andréa opened the box to reveal the platinum band with stones set in the infinity pattern.  The stones, a mix of sapphires and chocolate diamonds, were small but lustrous.  She knew her Andréa would not want anything  obnoxious.  "My heart is yours, my children are yours.  Everything I have already belongs to you.  I am yours."  Miranda felt her hands begin to shake as she waited, "Would you be my wife?"

Time stopped, Miranda was sure of it.  There was a roaring in her ears that had nothing to do with the ocean waves in front of them.  Her vision narrowed and she watched as it appeared to happen in slow motion.  Andréa removed the ring from the box and held it out to Miranda. 

Andréa was crying.  She was nodding.  She was hugging Miranda.

The world rushed back into focus as the twins, who had made their way back to the beach at their mother's signal, danced around the pair singing, "She said YES, she said YES!"

"Miranda, would you put it on me?"  Andy's voice was breathless and she was trembling.

Miranda nodded and placed the ring on her fiancée's finger before she was pulled into a heated kiss. Standing now, she drew all three of her girls into a fierce hug before the twins, overcome with excitement drew both adults down to the water and the surf.

They were still singing and dancing, except now both of the older women were singing too.

"She said yes."

____