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Hope

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I have been toying with this story for a while but was having a hard time working out the fine details. I think I’ve worked through those issues and I am ready to start sharing it. This story starts is a rather dark place but it won’t stay there. You should be warned that themes of self-harm including suicide will be addressed during this story. Now for the disclaimer. I am writing this for pure enjoyment with no profit motive. I do not own any character that was created by someone else and I do own my original characters.

Prologue:

A part of her can't believe her life had come to this and yet another part believes her life could end no other way. She can’t stand being in pain so she spent her last few dollars on a bottle of cheap whiskey and a handful of Oxys. The last time she’d tried the often lethal combination she’d woken up the next morning bitterly disappointed and with the worst hangover of her life.

This time she decided to add the element of a speeding vehicle to ensure the job was done right this time. With the bottle of whiskey empty and the Oxys numbing her body she spots the large sedan that will bring an end to this farce her life had become. She takes a deep breath before she steps into traffic hoping that any pain will be brief.

Chapter Text

Warning this chapter deals with themes of self-harm including suicide. If that is a problem consider jumping to chapter 2.

1.

Andrea Sachs sat in the back of her chauffeured Bentley talking on her cell phone. There was more work than hours in the day and thanks to the magic of global communications she could talk to her District Manager in Tokyo just moments after negotiating a deal with a new supplier in Berlin. Being the CEO and sole owner of a worldwide beverage empire made for long days. She doesn't know what made her notice the woman standing on the curb but suddenly her eyes were drawn in her direction. Their eyes locked in one long strange moment. What she saw in those perfect blue eyes was a sadness that broke her heart. In one of the lightning-fast connections her brain often made she knew the woman’s intent before she moved a muscle.

”Jimmy stop,” she commanded her driver.

Luckily for all involved, all of her employees were well conditions to follow her commands unerringly and without delay. The Bentley slowed to an almost immediate stop mere inches from the woman who was now standing in the street. Andy watched in fascination as the pretty blue eyes rolled upward just before the woman collapsed to the pavement.

Before she could question her actions Andy opened her door and rushed to the woman. She knelt at the woman's side then checked for a pulse. She let out a shaky breath as she found a slow but steady pulse under her fingers. She looked up as the sky opened up and heavy rain began to fall. She thanked the heavens that the storm had held off or the woman next to her would not be in far worst condition. She motioned to her driver who was already halfway out of the vehicle.

”Help me get her in the car,” she said.

She could tell that he wanted to question the soundness of the command but he again acted without hesitation. They maneuvered the woman into the backseat of the car then Andy got in on the other side. In moments Andy found herself with the silver-haired beauty laying across her lap. She was surprised to see that the woman was dressed far better than the average vagrant. She had no purse and her few pockets appeared to be empty.

She heard Jimmy speak but did not register the words.

”What did you say?” she asked.

”I asked what hospital would you like me to take her to?”

Making another snap decision she said, ”no hospital take me home.”

”Andy are you certain?” Jimmy asked.

Andy knew that this was as close as the man would come to question her decision making. While she knew the questioning was out of a sense of devotion, her glare made it clear that his next action had better be to follow her command. He clearly got the message as he put the car in gear and moving in the direction of her posh Manhattan neighborhood known as Carnegie Hill.

Andy pulled out her cell phone and hit her number two speed dial.

”Be at my house within the hour and bring Doc with you.”

She hung up before her chief legal officer and oldest friend could ask any questions. She knew that Lily was one of a small group of people who had the balls to call her on her shit. She was operating on pure intuition at the moment and she was not in the mood to have anyone question her well-honed instincts. She’d made that mistake once and it had cost her dearly.

As the car moved, she decided to check the woman again for any kind of identification. What she found instead was a note pinned to the inside of her coat. She had a quick debate with herself but her gut told her that she needed to read the note so she could understand what could have driven this woman to take her own life.

Her hands shook a little as she unfolded the private note and began to read.

Dear Cassidy and Caroline.

I want you to know how proud I am of the girls you are and the woman you will become. Know that I love you with all my heart and that my actions do not change that. I won’t say that losing custody had no effect. I know that you two would see right through that, but my choice tonight is bigger than that. I have lost everything and have no money and no chance to fight your father to get you back. I have often said that I live in hope. That is truer than I ever realized. I now have no hope of getting you back, of earning the money I would need to even try, nor do I have any hope of being able to live without you. I don’t blame your father because he did what he thought was best. I can’t say I feel the same for Irving or Stephen but I don’t want to talk about them. Just know that I spent the last moments of my life remembering every moment we spent together and that those memories put a smile on my face.

I Will Love Forever And A Day
Mom

Chapter Text

2.

Andy was sobbing quietly when she felt the car come to a stop. She wiped away her tears before recognizing her familiar surroundings. After Jimmy pulled the car into the garage, she asked him to carry the woman into the house. Andy moved ahead then used the biometric door handle to gain access to her home. Her instincts were still driving her actions as she directed Jimmy towards her master suite. As he lay the unconscious woman onto her bed it occurred to her that Jimmy had never actually been in her home before.

She dismissed her driver before turning her attention back to her guest. She thought for a long moment of what she should do next. When the woman shivered but made no other sign of regaining consciousness, she realized that she needed to get the woman out of her wet clothing. She went into her master bath, ran warm water into a bowl, then grabbed the soap and a cloth. Next, she decided to do something about her own soggy threads. She picked out something comfortable the returned to her bedroom. Wrestling the unconscious woman from her wet clothing presented a fair amount of challenges including violating the woman’s privacy. She shrugged her shoulders not seeing a better solution. Besides she had already blown through any notions if privacy by reading the note that was not meant for her to see.

That note had touched her more than she thought was possible. As she stripped the woman bare she noticed how unnaturally thin she was. She also tried but failed not to imagine how she’d look once her health was restored.

”I’m already thinking about her future,” Andy thought somewhat surprised at how her mind was jumping ahead to the future.

She took pains to keep the soft cotton cloth between her fingers and the woman's delicate skin not wanting to take further advantage of the situation. Thirty minutes later Andy had her dressed in one of her favorite pair of warm pajamas. Her concern for the older woman had not been eased as she had not stirred throughout the whole process. As she situated her guest under warm blankets, she heard the sound of her door chime.

She gave the intriguing older woman one last glance before making her way downstairs. As soon as she opened the door Lily rushed in and pulled her into a hug. When she felt Lily’s hands begin to roam along her back and shoulders she realized the other woman was checking her for injuries.

She gently pushed her friend away before saying, ”Lily, I’m fine. I needed Doc for someone else.”

When Lily gave her a curious look she gave a brief explanation of the events of the last hour. The incredulous look on Lily’s face was not a surprise. Her oldest friend and pseudo sister was fiercely loyal and very protective. It was also clear that Lily wanted to share a piece of her mind with Andy but she was literally saved by the bell as the door chime sounded again. She stood back to admit Doc Stover, a distinguished looking black man in his early 70’s. Doc was Lily’s grandfather and the closest thing to a loving father either of them still had.

”Hey gramps,” both women said at almost the same time. Doc gave both his adopted daughters a wide easy grin. The man would always have a soft spot for these two. He and his wife had been crushed by the loss of their only son and his wife to a car accident. Being Lily's only family it had not been no decision at all to take the girl in.

Andy was a different story altogether. Their granddaughters best friend had suffered her own loss later that same year. In Andy's case, her parents died in a small plane crash. Only a last minute change in plans kept Andy from accompanying her parents on the doomed flight. Doc and his Dorothy felt compelled to take the girl in after it was revealed that her only living relative was the one responsible for her parents' deaths.

After an understandable rocky start, the two girls flourished in their care. The two thirteen-year-old girls become as close as any sisters ever could. The two did everything together and later both attended Harvard together. Taking after Dorothy both girls double majored in history and philosophy. The girls went on to graduate school with Andy getting her MBA and Lily a degree in Law.

Upon graduation, they'd both taken positions at the company Andy inherited. Both girls were hard workers and were soon promoted to key positions. Finally after convincing the board of their capabilities they Andy took the CEO chair and Lily became the company's Chief Corporate Counsel.

Andy gave a more detailed explanation of what happened tonight, as she led the pair up to her bedroom. She ignored her friends glare choosing to focus on Doc as he examined the mystery woman.

Andy was pulled away from the examination by Lily's now insistent glare.

”You put her in your bed, ” Lily accused in a harsh whisper. The truth was she'd done it out of pure instinct but there was no way to make her highly analytical friend understand that.

Andy still ignoring her friend's concerns spoke quietly, ”I need you to find out everything you can about her starting with her name.”

”I want Sam on this, ” Andy said referring to their mutual friend who also worked at the company as an all-around problem solver.

They'd met Sam at a college party and hit it off right away. Sam was at MIT a few years behind them. Later they'd managed to save Sam from expulsion and possible imprisonment after the brilliant but mischievous young woman allegedly pulled an epic prank by using every electronic sign on Campus and in the surrounding area to let everyone know how great the Sox were after they won another World Series.

The campus wanted to expel her and the city wanted to give her a parade. Luckily Lily now a newly minted attorney was able to find a mistake they made in obtaining the search warrant thus invalidating most of the evidence against her. Andy contributed by making an endowment to MIT in her parent's names with the caveat that Sam be allowed to graduate. The University President was at first adamant that this would not happen. After meeting with the board and Sam's professors they decided to give her an oral exam which she aced.

That same day they conveyed her degrees in computer science, industrial engineering, and mathematics, all of her subjects of study. She was then escorted off the campus and told to never come back. Andy offered her a job on the spot not knowing how she would use her but knowing not to waste that kind of talent.

Sam had quickly become her fixer. Any problem worldwide she would send the details to Sam. Sam would then analyze the situation, go to the location and see the problem in person. Within a week or two she would work out a solution and send Andy a detailed report with recommendations. Her contributions had saved the company so much money that she had to double the woman’s salary every year until it rivaled both hers and Lily’s significant level of compensation. There was so much more to her history with Sam but despite that complicated history, she knew that Sam would understand why she’d done what she did tonight.

Recognizing Andy’s tone, Lily switched into work mode asking Andy to tell her what else she knew.

”The fact that she has two daughters named Cassidy and Caroline is all I know for certain.”

”I’m sorry Andy but even Sam can’t pull a rabbit out of that hat.”

”That's what I know but there are a few things I can infer.”

Lily remained quiet waiting for her brilliant friend to organize her thoughts.

”I believe she is in her late forties or early fifties, she was wealthy but isn’t anymore, and she was likely born in England.”

Lily looked on astonished at her friend's insights.

”Explain,” Lily said wanting to know how she came to these conclusions.

Andy could not help the blush that bloomed on her cheeks as she explained how getting the woman out of her wet clothing had given her significant clues to her age. Next, she explained the dichotomy of her expensive clothing’ now threadbare appearance. Then she told her about noticing the material in her crowns was something they would have used in England. Finally, she reluctantly told her enough about the note to validate why she knew her daughter's names.

”Not bad Sherlock,” Lily said reviving an old childhood nickname.

Andy smiled at her friend suddenly feeling happy to have Lily here.

Gramps finished his examination then explained that he wanted to move her to nearby Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Something in Andy’s gut told her that this was the wrong move. When she expressed her wishes, Gramps relented knowing his adoptive daughter’s strong will. He instead called for a monitor and an IV to be brought to her home.

”The monitor will warn you if any of her vital signs drop, and the IV will help to restore her fluids,” Doc said.

He went on to explain that he suspected that she had taken a combination of narcotics and alcohol in the previous hours.

"That combination can be lethal but I've given her a stimulant to counter the effect and she appears to be reacting well to treatment. She also appears to have suffered a concussion during her fall."

Next, he gave her two needles, then explained that one was Narcan and the other adrenaline. After he explained how to use each drug, he promised to check on his patient the following day.

 

Andy thanked both of them before she escorted them to her front door, then walked back upstairs to check on her ward. She stood over the sleeping woman for several moments. She knew deep down what was happening but she wasn’t yet ready to think about it. She brushed a lock of hair away from the woman’s eye but the stubborn lock of hair simply fell back into place.

She finally decided that it made no sense to stand vigil all night. She gathered a few things then sat on an oversized chair and ottoman she kept near her bed. She pulled her computer into her lap and began reviewing the companies annual report. She was scheduled to present this information to the board of directors next week. She, of course, knew every word in the report by heart but she wanted to give it one last check for errors.

An hour later she let in two nurses who hooked the mystery woman to the monitor and connected the IV. They explained that the monitor would set off an alarm if any of her vitals dropped below a healthy threshold. She thanked both women, gave them a healthy tip, then showed them out. She made herself a sandwich for dinner then took it upstairs not wanting to leave the woman alone for long.

She sat back in her oversized chair put her feet up on the ottoman and continued to read while she ate. A few hours later she checked her watch and was surprised to see it was already after midnight.

She put down her computer then slipped into the master bath. She removed, her makeup followed quickly by all of her clothes. She took a quick shower then bushed out her hair. Finally, she brushed her teeth and slipped into silk pajamas.

She got comfortable in her oversized chair and pulled a blanket over her. She prepared to get a few hours sleep knowing she almost never slept all the way through the night. She picked up her kindle and began to read her favorite fantasy story. After an hour she was still wide awake and quite distracted. Finally, she got up moved over to the bed and sat next to the unconscious woman. She had been concerned about sleeping through one of the alarms. Without thought, she pulled the woman’s hand into hers. She was calmed by the strong rhythmic pulse she found there. Her last thought was how right this felt as she drifted off.

 

AN: This story is layed out to be a rather long piece so if you like it strap in for the ride.

Chapter Text

3.

Samantha Dean opened an eye as her phone buzzed with an incoming message. She groaned as she debated getting out of bed. The fact that she was still wearing yesterday’s clothes was a strong incentive to get up. On the other hand, she’d only just gotten back from a week in Brussels. She’d been sent there to work out a problem with one of the largest bottling plants serving the European market. The issue affected the quality of one of the companies top-selling beverages. It turned out that a change to the chemical solvent used to clean the injectors left a residue that did not mix well with citrus. The result was a metallic aftertaste that forced the company to issue an expensive product recall.

After she worked out the root cause of the problem, it took multiple teams of workers three days working around the clock to replace all of the injectors in the entire plant and she’d been there for every minute of it. She had, of course, fired the company that supplied the bad solvent and only the plant managers stellar work history kept him from suffering the same fate.

Her timely work saved the company millions along with preserving the reputation of a top-selling product. There was a reason she was compensated as well as she was. Not that she had much time to spend it, hell she barely found the time to sleep. She realized that she’d been busier than normal over the last six months. She made a mental note to re-examine the data for her last several assignments to see if she could find a pattern.

Her plans to catch up on some much-needed sleep on the flight back had been thwarted by some two-bit hacker’s attempt to take down their internal communications network. She needed to send the head of IT a note thanking her for enabling the company jets with an ultra-fast internet connection. Only that and her own skills kept the mildly competent shithead from doing real damage. Sending said shithead’s location to Interpol had been the best revenge she could manage on short notice. That and implanting a virus that gave her full access to all of the idiot’s files. It did not take her long to figure out that a rival company had hired this incompetent. She made another note to check for a connection between this particular rival and the company that produced the bad solvent. Her intuition was telling her that the company was under attack even if she didn't yet know why or who was behind it.

As for the current situation, she used the hackers own machine to unleashed a nasty little virus of her own creation. It would likely take weeks if not months to undo the damage she caused. The beauty is that it was untraceable.

“Oh, they would suspect who done it, but good luck proving that shit,” Sam thought to herself.

This was the kind of thing she wouldn’t even tell Andy about. Not that she didn’t trust Andy, In fact, she trusted the older woman completely. She just understood the benefits of plausible deniability. She would always want to protect Andy. Despite or maybe because of their complicated past. She smiled to herself as her thoughts drifted away from work and towards the day that Andy and Lilly drunkenly stumbled into her life. They had all gotten along from the moment they met but there had always been a little more between her and Andy. Sam’s smile grew wider as she remembered ending that night screaming Andy’s name as the girl fucked her brains out, more than once. They’d been inseparable after that and had even talked about the M word, but it wasn’t meant to be and luckily they both realized it before it was too late. It was also lucky that they both acknowledged that until they found “the one,” there was no good reason for them to stop having the best sex either of them had ever experienced.

Her focus shifted as newer memories of fantastic sex floated to the surface. She wasn’t sure how Andy was going to feel about any of this. Of course, Andy’s opinion of her new relationship was the least of her problems at the moment. She decided to put those thoughts aside for now. Instead, she picked up her phone to check the message that had interrupted her sleep.

“Interesting,” she thought as she reread the message from Lily. She quickly realized from the tone of the email that this was important to Andy which meant it was important to Sam as well. She also picked up on the heavy subtext in Lily’s message. Maybe things had just changed for Andy as well.

“Good for her,” Sam thought and genuinely meant it. She loved Andy and wanted nothing but the best for her.

She decided a quick shower and coffee where both a necessity before she could get down to the task of figuring out the identity of Andy’s mystery woman. Twenty minutes later Sam sat in front of her laptop writing a script for a multi-level internet search using all of the information contained in Lily’s message.
She set the script loose before going in search of some food. She bypassed her own kitchen not trusting the viability of anything that was still in her fridge. She instead opted for a trip to her favorite diner. In addition to its late night hours, the little greasy spoon had the best pancakes outside those her adopted mother Angela made.

She felt much better after the sugar rush and the two cups of strong hot coffee helped too. When her phone buzzed she knew it meant her script was done doing its thing. She finished her coffee then dropped a rather generous tip in the table for the pretty young waitress. She liked the woman and they had even flirted a little but it had never gone anywhere and now it never would.

“Damn, you’ve got it bad,” she told herself as she slipped out of the diner. She looked around the mostly empty Manhattan streets but saw nothing to concern her. As soon as she got back home, she sat in front of her laptop and began going through the results. She was use to Andy’s leaps in intuition paying off, so she wasn’t surprised to find her search had come up with just half a dozen potential candidates. She was easily able to eliminate half because their recent whereabouts could easily be confirmed. Of the remaining half, one name easily stood out.

“We sure know how to pick’em,” she thought referring to Andy’s connection to the former Fashion Queen and the fact that she’d fallen for an actual. She cut that last thought off still not ready to think about that situation.

Next, she began reviewing the woman’s bio that her script had assembled. Her amusement about the complex situations she and Andy found themselves in quickly disappeared as she read about the last few years of Miranda Priestly’s life. Her sadness at what had become of the iconic woman was quickly replaced by pure fucking outrage as her mind began seeing a pattern in these events.

“This is some evil fucking shit,” she swore to herself as she composed an email to Andy with the results of her research along with a few of her own insights. She sent a separate email to Lilly letting her know that the job was done and asking her to do some digging of her own.

She sent both emails then crawled back into bed where she promptly fell back to sleep.

Andy woke the next day and was immediately surprised at how much sun was coming into her bedroom. As she went to check her watch she realized that she was still holding her mystery woman’s hand.

“She’s not your anything,” Andy reminded herself before she reluctantly freed her hand. She finally checked her watch and was surprised to see it was almost ten in the morning. She could not remember the last time she’d gotten anywhere near eight hours of sleep. She checked on her guest and confirmed that her vital signs were still at an acceptable level. If she was reading it correctly it appeared that they had actually improved overnight. Next, she slipped into her bathroom and completed her usual morning routine. As she entered her bedroom again it occurred to her that she should check her email for something from Sam. Sure enough, there was an email waiting from her friend with the heading JACKPOT.

She felt a little bad knowing that Sam probably had not gotten any real sleep in a couple of days but she felt an urgency that she could not quite explain. Sam was a good friend and judging from the length of the email she had more than come through. Despite her desire to review the whole thing, she decided to have something to eat first. After a few minutes working through the dilemma of needing to go downstairs but not wanting to leave the unconscious woman unattended, she decided to convert her phone into a nanny can. She set it up on her chair then pointed it towards sleeping beauty and the monitor. She connected the video feed to her tablet then checked to make sure she had a good view. Satisfied she would instantly know if there was a problem she finally headed towards the kitchen.

She made herself light breakfast then sat at the large island in her kitchen to eat. She kept one eye on her tablet as she consumed her egg white omelet and toast. When she finished eating she grabbed her coffee then made her way into her office so she could review Sam’s findings. She took a moment to caution herself against being disappointed in what she was about to read. Despite urging herself not too, she was already more than just a little invested in this woman.

She also reminded herself that, “She has children, an ex-husband, and is probably as straight as an arrow.”

She clicked on the email and began to read. The first thing she saw was the woman name, Miranda Priestly. She tried it a couple of times loud. She decided she liked the sound of it. As she read further her next thought was, "That woman is no Miriam Princhek," referring to the name Miranda had been born with. As she continued reading, she appreciated the level of detail Sam had included as well as how she rated the reliability of each source.

Her first marriage had been to Gregg Brant a financial whiz who Andy had heard of on a few occasions. When the couple divorced Miranda had chosen full custody of their children over a more lucrative financial settlement. Andy could not understand why the man would have turned around years later to take those girls away from a mother who so clearly loved her children. Her next husband, Stephen Tomlinson, was a partner at a well known Manhattan law firm. After reading the details of their marriage she sent a quick note to Lilly to make sure they never did business with that firm again.

She could see when things began to change for the worst. It started with her sudden and unexpected ouster from her position as Editor-in-Chief of Runway magazine. Here she came to the first of Sam’s insights in the form of a question. The younger woman laid out the magazine’s sales totals before and after Miranda was forced out. Next, Sam charted the stock price over the same period of time. The downward trend in both cases was severe and yet they’d made no move to bring Miranda back nor had they fired the new editor. Sam’s simple why at the end of her analysis would need some follow up. One of the things that she liked best about Sam was her dogged pursuit for answers. It was a trait they shared and one of the things she liked best about herself. The bottom line was that neither she nor Sam would let that question go unanswered.

The lost of her job at Runway began a series of suspiciously timed events. The next was her divorce from husband number two. Once again Sam flagged this event noting how unusual it was for an ironclad prenup to be thrown out. Despite clear evidence of Stephen’s infidelity, the judge granted him half of their marital assets plus monthly alimony payments.

The next blow to Miranda's well being came just six months later when her first ex-husband sued for full custody of their twin girls. Andy's heart melted as she looked at a picture Sam included of Miranda and her girls clearly taken during happier times. Miranda had spent every dollar she had left to try to hang on to her girls. Andy had tears in her eyes as she pictured how devastated Miranda would have been when the judge ruled against her.

The two court cases going against Miranda in such an unexpected manner felt wrong to Andy. Sam apparently had the same feeling as she read on. Sam’s digging revealed some unsettling details. Including the fact that the judges in both cases attended Yale at the same time as the managing partner at Stephen's law firm. Further, all three men were members of a super-secret all-boys club at Yale. Her eyes went wide when she saw that Miranda's first husband and her former boss were also members albeit from a decade before.

Sam indicated she intended to follow up on the Yale connection noting ominously that Miranda's own attorney was also a graduated from the esteemed ivy league university.

The last act of this travesty occurred when Miranda was blacklisted. She tried and failed to get a job at any publication in the city. In desperation, she took a job in advertising, but on the day she started her bosses were informed no uncertain terms that if they did not fire her they would never get another client even remotely connected to Elias Clark. The firm had little choice but to fire Miranda the very next day. She sold her house and all of her valuables just to stay above water. She had insisted on maintaining a two bedroom apartment, in case she regained custody, for a period far longer than was financially wise. Finally, she had to give up on that place and ended up moving into the low rent place that had evicted her just yesterday.

The tears that flowed down Andy's face were from a mixture of sadness and of pure rage. She had to agree with Sam's assessment that the confluence of events reeked of collusion. The men in her life had likely worked together to ruin this woman. She sent instructions to Sam to track down the potential threads of this conspiracy and to retrieve Miranda’s possessions from her old landlord at any cost.

Next, she called Doc to update him on his patient's condition. He was pleased with the improvement in her vital signs and he further speculated that she should regain consciousness later today or sometime tomorrow given her steady improvement. She hung up with Doc then called Lilly. She filled Lilly in on Sam’s research and asked her to look into what it would take for Miranda to regain the custody of her girls. Lilly told her that there was not much she could do without the case files. She sent another note to Sam telling her to call Lily then get her what she needed.

She did not like asking Sam to do things that were not strictly legal but in extreme cases, she would do what was necessary. She also knew that everyday Miranda was without her kids was pure cruelty. She knew that Gregg Brant had a good reputation, so she wondered how he could be mixed up in whatever this was. As she climbed the stairs her mind reviewed what they knew and what they still needed to find out. Her course was clear, in all honesty, it had been clear since the moment she laid eyes on the other woman. She would help Miranda at all costs. Miranda’s enemies were now her enemies and they had no way of knowing that she was coming for them.

She walked up to the bedroom and stood over Miranda. She introduced herself as she said, “Hi Miranda, I’m Andy.”

“I’m sorry that all of these things have happened to you but I promise you that I will do whatever it takes to make things right."

She then leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on the other woman’s forehead.

She got back into the bed, took Miranda’s hand, and cried until she fell asleep once again.

AN: So now we know what happened to Miranda. Now, what are Andy, Sam, and Lilly going to do about it? How’s Miranda going to view things when she wakes. And who is the new woman in Sam’s life? All questions I intend to answer and I hope you stick around long enough to find out. Also, expect some familiar faces from other fandoms to make an appearance later. There are a couple of hints if you’re paying close attention. Let me know what you think.

Chapter Text

4.

 

Sam blew out a long breath as she tried to hide her frustration. She was on the phone with Lily, again, trying to end the third such conversation in the last hour. She knew that Lily cared about their friend, but Andy was a big girl who was more than capable of handling a woman. Even if said woman was Miranda Priestly.

 

"Besides given the current circumstances, it’s Miranda who needs looking after," Sam thought to herself as Lily started up again.

 

“Lils you know how Andy is. She trusts her instincts and you know they have never failed her,” Sam said before Lily could build much momentum.

 

Lilly was silent for a long moment as she digested Sam’s words. They both knew Andy’s history when it came to her unnaturally strong intuition. They both also knew about the guilt Andy still carried about her supposed failure to convince her parents that they couldn't trust her uncle Robert. She hadn't known just how far her father's younger brother would go in service of his own selfish ends. She'd just sensed that he was a danger to them all. Because of that bitter experience, the woman now trusted her instincts above everything else in business and when it came to her personal life.

 

Sam trusted Andy completely and strongly believed in the older woman’s instincts.

 

Finally, Lilly relented and agreed to give Andy the space she needed to work things out for herself. Sam ended the call wondering when Lily would learn to truly trust Andy as much as she did.

 

The truth was that she agree with Andy. The fact that all of the bad things that had happened to Miranda were done deliberately and with malicious intent, could not go unchallenged. Sam was certain that Andy's instincts were telling her to protect Miranda and her girls at all cost.

 

Sam had her own gut feeling and right now her gut was preparing her to go on the attack. Before she could search and destroy, she needed to establish the facts including the full list of those involved. Destroying a woman’s life was no small thing and she was keenly interested in finding out why. She knew that to get the proof she required meant digging in some places that did not take kindly to being hacked.

 

Her skills were usually more than enough to keep ahead of any network admin on the planet but she had learned a hard lesson with the Red Sox prank. The fact that she was drunk off her ass at the time was hardly an excuse. This time she planned to take no chances, which meant an upgrade to her normally rigorous security protocols.

 

To that end, she logged on to her preferred hacker forum. She chose the particular message board she was looking for and began scanning through the conversations.

 

"Bingo," she thought as spotted a user she knew with a similar need. She launched a private room and invited the hacker Invictus to join.

 

Athena: Hey Invictus you up for a hardware swap

 

Invictus: Hey, Athena, love the new avatar

 

Sam looked at her signature owl avatar now sporting a new white, green, and blue color scheme and blushed furiously. Her blush deepened as she recalled making the change after a, particularly good weekend with Mia.

 

Athena: Yeah, I thought she could use an update, anyway

 

Athena: Hardware swap!!!

 

Invictus: I'm in

 

Athena: Usual place

 

Invictus: Give me three hours.

 

Athena: Done

 

Sam checked her watch and realized that if she got moving she would have time to stop by Miranda’s old building before she did the hardware swap with Invictus. Usually, there were a number of ways she could get her hands of an untraceable computer including several online companies that now accepted bitcoin. Unfortunately, she did not have the time to wait for shipping. Another upside to this solution was that it provided an extra layer of anonymity. She had no intention of joining lesser skilled hackers in federal prison.

 

She grabbed her leather jacket and helmet before she stepped into her private elevator. The dedicated elevator, that was large enough to accommodate a Steinway, was a major selling point for the apartment. She, in fact, liked the place so much she'd put in an offer for the whole building. The upside, other than the tidy profit she made from rent payments, was that she could come and go in complete privacy. She stepped in and chose the button that would take her into a section of the underground parking deck that was sectioned off just for her. The other stop led to a discrete side street entrance she could use when on foot.

 

She stepped off the elevator and walked over to her newest acquisition with a little smile on her face. The Harley-Davidson LiveWire was a nice ride. The only real downside to the powerful electric motorcycle was its orange color scheme. Thanks to her friends at Black Magic her bike had been transformed into a beast.

 

The little hellion edition, as they'd had dubbed it, was faster, had greater range and a black on black color scheme that even her big sister had to admit was badass.

 

She hopped on, opened the garage door, then pulled out into traffic. It did not take long to reach her first destination. She walked into the retail giant, that she normally would not be caught dead at, and headed straight for the checkout line. There she used cash to purchase 30 one hundred dollars apple gift cards with cash. The cashier looked at her quite suspiciously but she completed the transaction as they both knew it was within company policy.

 

She quickly left the store and turned left towards the midtown Apple store just a few blocks away. There she used the gift cards to buy the latest MacBook Pro matching Invictus' specs to the letter. The gift cards were a convenient way to get around Apple’s less than friendly attitude towards paper currency. She pulled the laptop and cords out of the box and slipped the new machine into a protective sleeve. She ignored the odd looks she got as she ditched the box on her way out of the store. She walked back out to her bike then slipped the MacBook into the custom leather saddlebags she’d commissioned specially for the hellion. She put the bike in gear and pointed it in the direction of Hell’s Kitchen.

 

She pulled her bike to the curb in front of a rather run-down mid-century walk up. She quickly located the building super and inquired about Miranda's belongings. When he told her he had no idea who she was talking about she tried again.

 

“How about Miriam Princhek.”

 

“Yeah I’ve got her stuff but she owes me two-month rent. If you want her stuff it’ll cost you $2500,” he responded

 

Sam couldn't help but laugh before she replied, “I know for a fact you ain't getting $1250 a month for this dump and second there is no fucking way you’d let a tenant get two months behind on the rent.”

 

Sam could tell that she'd hit home with her statement. Furthermore, she could tell that he decided to ignore her insult about the place being a dump. Instead, he seemed pleased with her supposed compliment of his business acumen.

 

Knowing she had him in the right frame of mind she said, “I’ll give you $400 cash take it or leave it.”

 

The man eyed her up and down before he decided that the street smart young woman wasn’t bluffing a bit.

 

“Deal,” he said before they shook to seal the deal.

 

The man then led her toward a storage room on the lower level near his office. What she saw there broke her heart. The thought that all of Miranda’s life could be reduced down to a single box of items felt wrong to the young woman.

 

“You sure this is it?” Sam asked. She lived in 211, I could ask the new tenants for you.

 

“For another hundred I’m sure,” Sam pointed out. The look on the man’s face said it all. She rolled her eyes as she paid him his money then scooped up the box and left without a backward glance. She wanted to get away from the greedy little shit before she decided to kick him in the balls. She was certainly wearing the right boots for the job.

 

She also decided that if she needed access to Miranda's old apartment, then she would just pay the current occupants the money instead of this asshole. As she hit the street she called the moving company she engaged to move Miranda's things and canceled. As she transferred the contents of the box into her saddlebags she came across an older version of the iPhone and a few items she could tell were important to the older woman. Sam slipped the MacBook out of the sleeve then placed the handful of important items into the sleeve. She slid the remaining items into the other saddlebag then dumped the empty box in the building's dumpster. She got back on the hellion eager to get the hell out of Hell’s Kitchen.

 

As she stepped into Grand Central Station she checked her phone and was pleased to see an email message from Invictus. The message contained a locker number and the seven digit code for the lock. She strolled through the huge station slipping into and out of the crowds of people.

 

“This place made for an ideal location for this type of exchange," Sam thought as she allowed the crowd to carry her to the luggage lockers.

 

She slipped past the lockers a few times before she felt certain that neither Invictus or anyone else was watching. Finally, she made her way to the chosen locker and entered the code. She opened it up and removed her chosen hardware before depositing the MacBook and closing the door.

 

She didn't need to look at the laptop in her hand to know that her fellow hacker had provided her a clean Alienware M15 that would match her specifications. Without any further hesitation, she moved back into the crowd and let it carry her towards the entrance. Back at her bike, she stowed the new hardware before heading towards Andy’s house.

 

Andy opened her eyes and was surprised to see how much later in the day it was. She could not remember the last time she'd slept this much.

 

"You are a bad influence," she chastised her silent companion. She slipped out of bed before walking to the other side. She took a moment to look at the sleeping woman hoping that she would wake soon. After checking her vitals she set up her phone once again so she could keep an eye on Miranda while she headed downstairs.

 

As soon as she got downstairs she could tell that Sam had come and gone. Despite the fact they were no longer officially dating they still had access to each other's homes. Given their busy schedule, they tended to only see each other for nonbusiness purpose late at night. She knew that something had changed recently with Sam. It wasn't just the fact they had not been intimate lately but there was just something different about the younger woman. A lightness in her eyes that made Andy happy for her friend even if she wasn't yet ready to share.

 

She walked over to her kitchen counter and grabbed the note that Sam left for her.

 

Andy

 

Miranda had fewer things than I expected. What she did have is on the counter. I left a few of the more important items in the laptop sleeve including her cellphone. I'm headed out to start our latest research project so I probably won't be reachable for several hours. Email the Athena account if its an emergency. When I'm done I'll drop by and you can introduce me to your Miranda.

 

See you soon love Sammy.

 

Andy smiled at her friends note. She loved Sam and was glad to have the capable young woman on her side as she embarked on this potentially dangerous endeavor. She suspected that all of the effort to ruin Miranda’s life was part of a larger goal. While Sam looked into the connections between the men who likely conspired against Miranda, Andy was planning on doing some digging of her own. The question she kept coming back to was, why had the Elias Clark board not intervened when the stock dropped too drastically. Even as the owner she would have a hard time justifying her continuation as CEO if her company's stock had suffered this kind of loss.

 

There was no internal debate this time as she felt an immediate need to go through Miranda’s stuff. As Andy looked at the small pile, she wondered how such an extraordinary life could be reduced to just a handful of items. She started by opening the laptop sleeve and retrieving the items inside. She sat Miranda's dead cell phone aside. She would try charging it when she went back upstairs. The next item that came out was a picture of Miranda and her girls. She touched the picture imagining what the three were like back then. The pretty redhead girls looked so much like their mother including the hint of mischief she spotted in the eyes of all three of the Priestly girls.

 

Andy was a firm believer in the power of symbols and to her, the picture of Miranda and her girls did not just represent the woman's past but a future that would give the woman something to hold on to and to fight for.

 

She carefully placed the picture on the counter then walked into her study. She quickly spotted what she was looking for. She picked up one of the many pictures she kept of her parents and carried it back to the kitchen. She lovingly removed the picture of her parents and replaced it with the picture of Miranda and her girls. Finally, she placed the picture of her parents in the back of the frame as she sent a silent message to her parents' spirits asking them to look after Miranda's girls until she could do it herself.

 

She gathered the remaining items and took the lot back to her bedroom. She placed the elegant silver picture frame on Miranda’s nightstand before spreading the remaining times across the ottoman. She sat back on her favorite chair then plugged in Miranda's phone. She was pleased to see the white apple logo flash indicating the phone wasn’t dead. She sat the phone down then turned her attention back to the small pile of items. The next thing she picked up was a copy of Miranda’s magazine. As she flipped through a Runway magazine for the first time, she had to admit being impressed with what she saw. It was more than just the sheik clothing draped upon gorgeous models, there was real beauty here. Beauty that rose to the level of art she concluded.

 

“Huh,” she thought to herself having never embraced the idea of fashion as real art.

 

When she got to the letter from the editor page, she eagerly read Miranda’s words. It quickly became clear that this was her first edition as editor. Miranda’s words were just as elegant and savvy as the magazine she produced. She smiled as she pictured the pride the older woman must have felt upon seeing the culmination of years of hard work come to fruition.

 

“And pride cometh before the fall,” her father’s voice announced in her head.

 

“Fuck, that,” she responded to the old adage.

 

Miranda had every right to feel pride in all she had accomplished. Andy certainly felt pride about what she had done since becoming CEO. She had not just increased sales but there was also the Alice and Richard Sachs Foundation that gave opportunities for orphans like herself, Lily, and Sam. Many of those children were not lucky enough to have a loving family member or family friend to care for them. Thinking of Sam’s adopted mother instantly made Andy’s stomach rumble.

 

“There was nothing like Mrs. R’s lasagna,” she thought before deciding to go with the next best thing. She grabbed her phone and ordered her usual from Nino’s. On second thought she ordered double plus a few other times in the hopes that her silent guest would be able to eat soon.

 

With that accomplished, she resumed her review of the things that Miranda valued enough to hold on to. Next, she picked up a clipping from the New York Times Style section. The article was about the need for diversity in fashion models. The article made a compelling case to embrace the beauty inherent in many different ethnicities and body types. The article read as something that Andy herself could have written. She was a firm believer in everything the writer advocated for.

 

She thought about how different she Sam and Lily were. She loved Lily's beautiful brown skin and had envied her curls for years. As for Sam, she obviously found the woman's mixture of African American and Italian features quite pleasing. The article must have struck a similar chord with Miranda as the next clipping featured a follow-up article singing Miranda’s praises. The formidable editor had apparently challenged the industry to stop designing for just one size and body type. Miranda also drew praise for hiring models with a broader array of nationalities and body types.

 

Andy could not help the smile that appeared on her face as she thought of Miranda advocating for her size 6 ass. Not that she was the least bit self-conscious about what Sam often referred to as the extra junk in her trunk. She told Sam that she didn't care for the reference, but in truth, she liked knowing that her ass aroused the younger woman. She briefly wondered if Miranda liked a little extra junk as she read on.

 

Her attention was drawn away from the article as an unfamiliar ringtone filled the air. She looked towards Miranda's phone as she recognized Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that was streaming through the phone’s speakers. She picked up the phone as it continued to belt out the tune. In a flash of intuition, she felt a sudden need to answer. She accepted the call before pressing the phone to her ear.

 

“Mom.”

 

AN: I generally am not a big fan of the cliff hanger but it felt like the right place to end the chapter. Plus I had a crazy couple of days last week so this was all that I was going to have ready to post. As for the story, things are proceeding with Sam's investigation and Andy is finding more and more things to love about Miranda. Will Miranda feel the same? I'll give you one guess on that one. I also left a few more clues about Sam's mystery woman and a couple of clues pointing towards the other fandom we will see later. If you have a guess feel free to PM and I will let you know if you are right or wrong. Let me know what you think about the story.

Chapter Text

5.

“Mom.”

Andy could feel her heart speed up as she heard the clear hope in the girl's voice. She took a deep breath to try to calm her nerves.

“No, My name is Andy. I’m a friend,” Andy hedged.

That last part wasn’t exactly true but then again maybe she was the only friend Miranda still had left.

“Is my mom dead?” the girl asked in a shaky voice.

“No, sweetheart. Your mom is just fine,” Andy said wondering why the girl believed her mother was dead.

“Then why are you answering her phone?” the girl asked.

“Smart girl,” Andy thought to herself as she tried to come up with a good explanation.

“Your mom is sleeping,” Andy said.

She could tell that it had been the wrong thing to say as the girl let out a wail. Her next words were unintelligible as she tried to regain her breath.

She heard a shuffling before another voice came on the line.

“Who the fuck is this and what did you say to my sister.”

Andy could tell that she was now talking to the girl’s twin. She could also tell that despite the harsh words the other girl was also scared out of her mind.

She wanted to calm things down a little so she asked a question she hoped would blunt the girl’s fear-driven anger, “Are you, Caroline or Cassidy?”

“I’m Cassidy, now who the F U C K are you?”

“Well she’s consistent at least,” Andy thought.

“My name is Andrea but everyone just calls me Andy.”

“Your sister called your mom’s phone but I answered because your mom is sleeping.”

Now, Andy knew she had the girls full attention.

“That’s bullshit, our dad told us that our Mom died. Caroline just didn’t believe him,” Cassidy said. Andy thought that from her tone that Cassidy wasn’t exactly sold on the idea either.

“Mom’s not dead!” Caroline wailed in the background.

Andy did her best to calm her nerves as she tried to figure out how to keep this situation from going further off the rails.

“Your sister’s right,” Andy finally said in what she hoped was in a reassuring tone.

“Prove it, go wake our mom up so we talk to her,” Cassidy said.

Andy gave that some thought then she disconnected the call. Before they could call back Andy selected the last call then chose the Facetime option hoping the girls were using an iPhone. The video call was connected allowing Andy to see the faces of Miranda’s twelve-year-old twin daughters.

“What the fuck,” Cassidy said angrily

“You wanted proof,” Andy pointed out. Before either girl could comment further, Andy turned the phone and moved close to the bed. She brought the phone close enough that the girls could hear the sound of the monitor as it mimicked the rhythm of Miranda’s steady heartbeat. She pushed in even tighter hoping the girls would be able to see the rise and fall of Miranda’s chest as she took in slow even breaths. Finally, she turned the phone’s camera back onto herself.

Andy’s heart broke as she looked at the two girls holding each other tightly as tears streamed down both girls' faces.

“Listen up both you,” Andy said now back in control of the conversation.

“As you can see your mom is very much alive. You can also see that she is not awake. What I did not tell you before is that your mom had a minor accident and has been resting since. I promise you that she will be fine and that I will make sure that she calls you as soon as she’s awake.”

Andy watched as both girls nodded their heads. She could also see the relief clear on their faces.

“Now girls I want you to tell me exactly what your dad told you to make you think your mom was dead.”

Andy listened as Cassidy, described the conversation in great detail.

When the tale was done, Andy still had more question than answers. She was sure that something was off here and she was more afraid than ever that the girls’ father was somehow mixed up in all of this.

“Listen closely, I know that I am a stranger to you but I going to ask you to trust me anyway.”

Both girls nodded their heads which was obviously a good sign.

“I don’t want you to tell anyone, including your dad about your mom being alive.”

“Why?” Caroline asked.

“She doesn't trust Dad,” Cassidy pointed out.

Andy agreed with Cassidy's comment but she wasn’t ready to condemn their father without proof.

Instead, she said, ”I was not lying when I said that I was a friend and as a friend, it is my job to look after your mom and she would want me to protect the both of you too. So I don’t want anyone to know your mom is alive until I can figure out what’s going on. Do you understand?"

Andy watched as the girls conducted a rather extensive if wordless conversation. Cassidy, having been elected spokesman, said, “ If you promise to have our mom call us the second she wakes up then we will keep quiet.”

Andy held up her hand as she made her solemn vow. She could tell that the girls were doing their best to hide grins. It wasn’t hard to imagine how the girls felt. The first year after her parent's death, a call telling her that it was all a big mistake had been her fondest wish.

She gave the girls her number and told them to call her if they needed anything. She reiterated her promise to have their mom call as soon as she could before saying goodbye to both girls. She ended the video call then looked toward her silent companion hoping that for the sake of her girls that she would wake soon.

She grabbed her laptop then logged into the anonymous email client that Sam had set up for her some time ago. She composed a message updating Sam on the phone call along with her misgivings about the girls’ father supposed foreknowledge of Miranda’s death.

Sam strolled into one of her favorite coffee shops and ordered a latte with an extra shot. This was going to take a while so the hit of caffeine was a must. She took her beverage over to a table in the back corner of the cafe. She’d chosen this particular table for two reasons. First, it was situated in a location that meant no security camera could get a good look at her and second was because the little mom and pop coffee shop shared a wall with one of Google’s many data centers.

She sat and pulled out the new Alienware laptop. She dived back into her messenger bag and came out with a small tool kit. She undid a panel on the bottom of the machine and removed the hard drive. She slid in a replacement drive that she had already formatted with her own specialized version of the Linux operating system. She booted the machine and smiled as her owl logo appeared on the screen. She moved her face in front of the webcam then typed a 35 character passcode from memory. As network security went, she knew that this particular style of two-factor verification was next to impossible to crack. She even had a backup plan if someone forced her to enter the code. The dummy passcode would boot the machine into an entirely separate operating system while all data from the primary OS was wiped away permanently.

The owl disappeared and was replaced by a view of the desktop along with several programs of her own design. The first program that she launched let her slip into a backdoor she’d already created inside of Google’s system. That gave her anonymous access to the companies fast as shit next-gen wifi. After a quick check to make sure that no one at the tech giant had discovered her little back door she was ready to go.

She started with a rather simple hack into the servers for the cities family court. Once inside she quickly found the files related to Miranda's latest custody hearing. A quick review of the transcript and she felt quite certain that the fix was in. There was just no evidence of Miranda being a bad mother. On the contrary, all signs pointed to Miranda as a devoted mother who made more than a few sacrifices for the sake of her children. She saw that the ruling had been appealed but that since Miranda no longer had an attorney the case had stalled.

Sam quickly fixed that situation by assigning Lily as Miranda new attorney. Next, she re-assigned the case to a judge who had a reputation for doing the right thing and put the hearing near the top of the queue. With that accomplished, she generated an email from the judge's clerk requiring Miranda’s former law firm to turn over all case files to Lily before the end of the day tomorrow. Since that was all she could do to help with the custody issue at the moment, she logged out of that system. She sent a quick note to Lily letting her know that she would be getting everything she needed to start working the case by tomorrow.

Her next hack was hardly a hack at all.

“They may as well not even have security,” she thought as she broke into the website for the supposedly super-secret all-boy club at Yale. A review of the membership included a who's who in New York power politics. More importantly, it included a list of names that she had previously identified could be part of the conspiracy. She made note of the names including; Stephen (douchebag ex or DBE), William Edgerton (managing partner at DBE’s law firm), Aaron Beck (crooked divorce judge), Robert Lang (crooked custody judge), Lester Martin (Miranda's former attorney aka the rat).

Sam valued loyalty and she would take immense personal pleasure in making the rat pay if it turned out he was working against his own client.

“Follow the money,” she whispered the old adage as she turned her sights onto the financial accounts of both judges.

After some digging, it was clear to Sam that both judges lived well above the means afforded them through their government salaries. Unfortunately, the source of the money did not show up in the form of major deposits to their bank accounts. Robert Lang (crooked custody judge), was born wealthy but the family money dried up not long after he took the bench. Despite that setback, Robert and his wife Stephanie managed to more than rebuild that wealth over the past twenty years mostly due to Stephanie’s highly profitable work as an art dealer. Sam, who had more than just a little experience dealing with people who skirted the law, knew that dealing art was a good way to clean dirty money.

The buyer and the seller just had to agree on a price and no one could argue because art was about individual taste. She found several high dollar purchases made shortly before and after the custody hearing. The problem was that each purchase was conducted through a shell company based in the Cayman Islands. Using shell companies to make this type of purchase was not unusual but it was problematic. She knew that almost all of the companies based in the Caymans were nothing more than a series of numbers with no traceable connection to a real person. She wasn’t quite ready to give up on this thread, so she launched a script that would cross-reference purchases with major rulings made by the judge.

“Shit,” she breathed out as she stood to stretch. It appeared that the Lang’s were given some good advice as all the suspicious transaction she found were also conducted through masked accounts.

She looked down to confirm her computer locked as soon as the camera could no longer detect her face. She went to the counter and ordered coffee and a pastry and was not surprised that the pretty blonde barista had already left for the day. She took a bite of the flaky danish and a sip of coffee then waited a moment to allow the caffeine and sugar to replenish her reserves. She was going to have to get some serious sleep or get laid.

“Maybe both, she thought before cooling her jets. Mia was a ten-hour flight away at the best of times. Now she was in Austria for trade negotiations and would be tied up all week. She thanked the goddess for vibrators as she refocused on the task at hand.

She decided to take a deeper dive into crooked divorce judge’s life. In many ways, it was a similar story. The Beck’s were a wealthy couple with most of the money coming from the wife’s business. In this case, Chelsea Beck sold antiques. In reality, selling antiques was a business that made it even easier to launder money. Normally the way people got caught dealing in bullshit antiques was when the buyer tried to insure the bogus item. A check in a separate database that cataloged insurance fraud cases came up with no bogus claims involving the Becks. That wasn’t exactly a surprise because if the buyer was in on the scam and not greedy the insurance company would not be brought into play. She did the same cross-check to connect high profile cases seen by the husband to major sales by the wife. There were a number of suspicious purchases and even a few of the same buyers but she was met with the same dead end when she tried to make a connection to a real person.

She closed her eyes and willed her body not to give into to the desire to go home, come, then crash. A ping in her headphones pulled her mind back to the surface. She focused on the incoming message from Andy by way of her Aphrodite account. She read the message and was heartbroken by the ordeal Miranda’s girls were being put through. She was also super proud of how Andy had kept her head and dealt with a really tough situation.

Sam’s mind cleared as she realized she now had sed on a new line of inquiry.

“Why did Miranda’s ex tell their kids that she was dead?”

She rolled that thought around in her head for a few minutes but was unable to come up with a satisfactory answer.

“If he was guessing there was no way he would tell his kids that without proof?”

“On the other hand how could he have known that Miranda might or would take her own life?”

Sam decided to put those questions to the side for know. She had a new target, so she refocused on her laptop and turned her full attention on Greg Brant. The Brant Company was an investment firm with a solid reputation but a look into the books told a different story. After stunning initial success, the company had fallen on hard times. He was close to losing it all until.

“Motherfucker,” she breathed as she discovered just how Greg had saved his company.

It turned out that a few years ago Greg made a massive bet that stock in the Elias Clark Company would go down. The bet had paid off big mostly because of Miranda’s dismissal from Runway. Sam did not believe in coincidence and was soon proven correct as she hacked into the brokerage accounts for all the men in this conspiracy. They had all profited from the same bet but no one had profited as much as Greg Brant, Stephen Tomlinson, and Irving Ravitz. The wheels were turning in Sam’s mind as she considered the implications.

“Huh,” she thought as she discovered that those three alongside a few others were now quietly acquiring the floundering EC stock.

 

“What the fuck are you slimeballs up to,” Sam wondered as she continued digging.

An hour later she downloaded all of the incriminating information then transferred it to her own untouchable cloud server. She composed an email to Andy with her findings making it clear that this thing was not over. Her immediate desire was to go on the attack but she was tired plus it wasn’t a good idea to continue using this particular machine. She used her phone to order three machines just like this one. She paid in bitcoin and had them shipped to a P.O. box linked to her own anonymous shell company. By the time they arrived, she would have a clearer understanding of her next steps.

She flipped the machine over and used her little toolkit to swap the hard drives again. She stored everything back into her bag and made her way out of the little cafe. She looked around and let her eyes adjust to the dark before she strolled in the direction of the Hudson. A few minutes later she watched as $3,500 worth of computer equipment sank into the dark water. When she got back to her bike she decided there was one more thing she wanted to do before going home for her well deserved orgasm and sleep.

 

Andy heard the chime signaling and incoming mail from Sam. She opened it and began to read. She had to take several breaks to calm her roiling emotions as she began to understand that these men had ruined someone's life for their own financial gain. It felt so much like what her uncle had done to her parents. What he had done to her. She swallowed the anger knowing that it would cloud her judgment. There was more happening here than met the eye. As she contemplated her next steps, she felt a distinct feeling that she was being been watched. She looked up.

“Oh,” she thought as a pair of intense blue eyes stared back at her.

 

AN: Ok, folks no update last week, it could not be helped but I’m back this week with a new chapter. Andy met the girls and it went about how you’d expect. I initially envisioned both girls being crushed and sad about the news that their mother was dead, but then it occurred to me that no two people handle grief the same way. So I decided to have Caroline be in denial where Cass had bypassed denial and went straight to Anger. I wanted to show that Andy was more than capable of handling both girls state of mind and to show how she gained their trust because she is the only one right now telling them the truth. Meanwhile, Sam is using her well-honed hacker skills to unravel why these things are happening. Finally, Miranda has returned. How will Andy win Miranda’s trust? Is that all Andy wants (hint fuck no)? What is Sam up to, and why did she change to colors of her avatar and who the hell is Mia. Tune in to see the answers to those questions and many other questions you didn't want the answers too. I am very gratified by the feedback I’ve gotten so far. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my "stuff" and a special thanks to those who took the time to review. Let me know what you think.

Chapter Text

Warning the chapter references suicide and suicidal thoughts.

6.

Miranda came awake slowly, but she did not open her eyes. The first thing she noted, other than her continued existence, was a curious lack of physical pain. The pain seemed to be her only friend of late. It was also a clear reminder of all the things she’d lost, so it's absence lifted her spirits considerably. With an effort, she opened one eye then the other. Miranda was surprised to find herself in a richly appointed suite that reminded her so much of her old life. A life that was firmly in her past.

“I’m still alive,” she thought and tried to reconcile how she felt about it. Somehow she felt disconnected from the desire to die. She could not quite recall the frame of mind that had led her to take such drastic action. She could remember the feelings of hopelessness and depression, but she'd had those feeling before. She knew that those feeling were temporary before, so why had she not recognized that this time.

She continued the perusal of her surroundings and saw the monitor and IV stand. She tracked the line from the stand to the IV implanted in her arm. As she looked away from her arm, she discovered that she was not in the room alone. Her eyes fell upon the face of the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen. A clinical part of her mind scoffed at the very notion. She’d seen all of the most beautiful models in the world.

"Those eyes," Miranda thought to herself.

Seeing those eyes brought back the moment she’d first noticed them in the back of the car that was meant to end her life. That moment caused her to regret her impending, but it was too late her body was already in motion. She would have given anything to take it back.

With that, the battle in her mind ended swiftly as the part of her brain that knew she was looking at most beautiful creature in existence ruthlessly strangled its competition.

She had been so intrigued by the woman before her that she had wanted to live if only to find out the woman's name.

“All that from just one look,” she told herself.]

Now she’s here.

Where?

The woman’s bedroom?

“How are you feeling?” the woman asked pulling Miranda from her thoughts.

"How am I feeling?" Miranda wondered to herself.

A bit of a headache but otherwise pretty good.

Well Rested.

When was the last time she could say that?

All those thoughts flashed through her head before she tried to speak.

“F,” Miranda began, but her throat closed making it impossible to finish the thought.

The woman moved quickly to what turned out to be the ensuite and returned with a glass of water.

“Crystal,” Miranda thought as she felt the weight of the heavy tumbler in her hand. Miranda took several slow sips allowing water to coat her throat before the tired again, “I’m fine.”

Miranda looked up into those warm brown eyes and was lost, lost in the warmth, the caring and something else.

Love?

She knew it was ridiculous but there it was again that look on a face that could launch a thousand ships. Now the stare was much more intense than before. She felt overwhelmed but not unpleasantly so.

The closest feeling she could compare it to was seeing her babies for the first time. Some of that familiar pain returned like a punch to the gut when she remembered the absence of her girls from her life. She began to turn away from those eyes feeling wholly unworthy to under this woman's loving gaze. Before she could turn away, she felt a gentle hand on her cheek pulling her back.

“Stay with me, Miranda.”

Miranda found herself unable to disobey the command no matter how gentle it had been given. She stared into those eyes for what seemed like an eternity before the questions came back.

What happened?

Why was she still alive?

Who was this beautiful woman?

How does she know my name?

Finally, curiosity got the better of her, so she asked.

“How do you know my name?”

Her nerves were raw, so the sentence that had been intended to convey strength came out sounding weak and small. Instead of reacting negatively, the other woman continued to express a sense of calm, acceptance, empathy and dammit there, it was again; love.

“Miranda, I’m Andy Sachs, my driver and I were in the car that almost hit you a few nights ago.”

“I brought you here to my home and had a physician who is a close family friend exam you.”

Miranda felt so exposed as Andy explained how she found and was compelled to read her suicide note. She looked down at her body noticing her clothes for the first time as Andy described getting her out of her wet clothing. Her mind belatedly informed her lack of undergarments. She shrugged the whole thing off knowing that she'd suffered far worse indignities over the past few years.

Besides the rather pleasing shade of pink, the other woman turned as she blushed made it quite difficult to hold anything against Andy for very long. The young woman had taken extraordinary efforts on her behalf, and Miranda could only feel gratitude in return.

“Why,” Miranda asked the most important question she could think of. What kind of woman would do all this for a stranger her mind screamed.

“You know why,” Andy replied holding Miranda’s eyes with hers.

“That’s not possible,” Miranda thought, but a part of her suspected the opposite.

“The moment our eyes met I felt something and I know you did too, Miranda,” Andy said with conviction.

Rather than addressing her last statement directly, Miranda deflected.

“But you're so young,” Miranda began.

The woman’s bark of bitter laughter seemed to surprise both women.

“When I was thirteen, I had a fight with my parents.”

Miranda dismissed any notion of making light of the idea, knowing that she and her girls had many such disagreements that seemed so important at the time. There was also something in the way the younger woman spoke that made it clear that this story mattered a great deal.

“My parents and I were flying out to see my uncle, Robert.”

“I told them I didn’t want us to go, that I didn’t think we should be spending time with him.”

“Did he?” Miranda started to ask misreading Andy’s words.

“No, he wasn’t a molester. There was just something about him.
A darkness that I was dangerous, but he was my dad’s only sibling.”

“I begged them to stay, but I couldn’t convince them.”

“What happened?” Miranda asked quietly.

“They left me behind.”

Miranda waited, knowing for certain what she would say next.

“Their plane crashed just short of a small airfield in Nebraska.”

“A malfunction that was later deemed to be sabotage.”

“Your uncle,” Miranda said.

Andy nodded then said, “He wanted the family business all to himself, and he was willing to kill his brother, sister-in-law, and his niece to get it.”

“He sabotaged the fuel system blocking the fuel lines that led to the second wing tank and the reserve tank.”

“When my father realized what was happening, he dumbed to excess fuel then tried to attempt a dead stick landing.”

“He came close but a last second wind gust pushed the plane into a nosedive, and with no more fuel there was nothing he could do to recover.”

“At the trial, they proved that my uncle was responsible for sabotaging the airplane. He was convicted and is now serving two life sentences.”

The emotionless voice Andy now used made Miranda feel sick.
The lost of the light and love from the younger woman’s eyes made Miranda want to go to whatever prison the man was in, and kill him with her bare hands. She did not know where the fierce need to protect was coming from, but she could not deny its power over her.

She reached out and squeezed Andy’s clenched hands. They were cold, so she rubbed them hoping to restore some circulation and to get her to unclench. Andy finally relented, and Miranda was pleased that her gesture was not rebuffed.

She had been careless with a delicate woman, and she would not make that mistake again.

“Never again,” she made the silent oath knowing that she would sever her own right arm before she broke her pledge.

Andy closed her eyes as she tried to banish the thoughts that always flooded her mind when this subject came up. She mostly tried not to think of that day. Tried not to think of the hurtful words that were exchanged. On the occasions, she did allow herself to think of that day her only solace is knowing that her parents would have been grateful that their only child was not with them in their final moments.

When Andy finally opened her eyes, she is surprised to see a change in the blue eyes staring back at her. She wiped away her tears as Miranda opened her mouth to speak.

“I apologize,” Miranda said.

Andy had a strong feeling that those did not come naturally to the other woman. She could see the sincerity in Miranda's eye and feel it through their linked hands. Andy, nodded her head accepting Miranda’s apology and accepting all the other things the woman wasn't ready to say.

She had known that she overreacted. That Miranda’s words were meant to cause such strong feelings, but despite Andy's best efforts she’d already fallen and fallen hard. Miranda’s words of negation had stung worse than a mere declaration that she wasn't into girls. And dammit Andy knew that Miranda had felt it too, had seen it in the older woman's eyes.

Now those eyes were telling a completely different story, and she was doing nothing to hide it now. Andy swallowed down the feeling caused by Mirnada's intense stare. Now was hardly the time, but there would come a time her look answered back.

All thought of future endeavors reseeded as Andy remembered her vow to Miranda's children.

“Your girls,” Andy blurted in a rush.

“My girls?” Miranda asked in confusion.

“I ah, promised them that I would make sure you called as soon as you woke up."

Miranda’s confused look persisted as she asked, “You talked to my girls?”

“They called your phone, and something told me it was important that I answer.”

Andy waited for Miranda to let her have it. Despite her good intentions, this was the third time that Andy had crossed a line. Invaded the woman’s privacy and acted as if she was entitled to do so.

Miranda’s face went from confused to wistful in an instant. Her eyes looked watery as she asked, “How are they?"

“They’ll be a lot better after they talk to you.”

The older woman seemed gratified by the answer, but they both knew there was more.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Miranda asked.

Andy swallowed then relayed the contents of their conversation.

“Why would they think I was dead?” Miranda asked, but Andy thought she was talking more to herself.

“I have some thoughts about that, and there is a lot more that I need to tell you, but I think you should call your daughters first."

Miranda finally nodded her head, and Andy handed over the woman’s phone.

Andy got up to leave the room. She turned then said; I ordered us some food so we can talk more over dinner."

"Ok," Miranda agreed.

Andy watched the other hesitate while looking down at her phone.

“They really miss you,” Andy said before turning and closing the door behind her.

 

Sam pulled her bike into an alley behind the back of the now familiar building. She put her bike in lockdown mode which disabled all functions until she returned. It was one thing coming to Hells’s Kitchen during the day and another this time at night. She slipped her handy taser out of her pack and slid it into the pocket of her leather jacket. She wasn’t expecting trouble, but she also believed in being prepared for anything. Bag firmly slung over her shoulder and helmet in hand she walked toward Miranda’s building. A few minutes later she managed to slip into a rear door after a drunk couple stumbled out. She easily snuck past the super, who was in the middle of feeding an apparent porn addiction. She took the stairs up to the 2nd floor and found Miranda’s old apartment. She knocked then stood back waiting.

A few moments later a very annoyed young man opened the door. His annoyance seemed to lessen as he checked Sam out in her leathers.

“You looking for some fun?” he asked Sam’s breasts. The young woman rolled her eyes then snapped her fingers to get his attention back to eye level. He looked up, and Sam could tell that he was high as shit.

“I need an hour or so in your apartment,” Sam began. His eyes lit up thinking it was his lucky night.

“Alone,” she finished.

Now he was just confused, but when she flashed a wad of cash, she could see the wheels in his head turn.

The idea of fucking her was now being replaced with getting even higher.

“I’ll give you five hundred now, and if If I don’t see your face again, I’ll leave a nice tip in your freezer.”

“Two hours,” she said holding out the bundle of bills.

He was smart enough not to count the money. Instead, he grabbed his coat and disappeared no doubt off to see his dealer.

Sam locked the door, hung the chain, then reached into her pack. She came out with a wedge and shoved it under the door. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust the little junkie she just didn’t trust most people. She had an idea why Miranda's ex thought she was dead, so she zipped up her jacket then put on her helmet. She killed all the lights then stepped fully into the darkened apartment. She lit the brighter than the fucking sun flashlight and began a slow and methodical scan of her surroundings.

Her search soon revealed a number of cleverly hidden spy camera. There were two in the living room, one in the kitchen, and disturbingly one in both the bedroom and bathroom as well. She pulled out a device made to trace radio signals. It was a convenient way of locating wifi signals, but it was actually capable of scanning the entire range of frequencies. She turned it on and held it close to one of the cameras.

”That's good,” Sam said to herself as the device revealed that the cameras were not broadcasting live across the net. Instead, they were likely being recorded to a hard drive located somewhere close. There were a couple of obvious locations she would check after she was done going over the apartment. She took off her helmet but kept on her gloves as she continued going over every inch of the shabby digs. The living room and kitchen yielded no additional anomalies, but the bedroom was a different story.

“What’s this,” Sam thought as she pulled a little black box out of the heating vent.

The fact that the device had been placed directly behind what had been Miranda's bed was highly suspicious. Especially when combined with the fact that there was a camera pointing directly at that bed.

“There were only so many things one did in a bed, sex, masturbation, and sleep,” Sam thought darkly.

Miranda was human, so at some point, she would have likely done all three. Given those facts, the reasons for pointing a camera at her bed was either for perverted reasons, something else, or perhaps both. She turned her attention back to the little box scrutinizing it carefully. The box was black with no visible markings. She would need to take a look on the inside, but there was no time for that now. She slid the device into her bag before continuing her search. A half an hour later the apartment was thoroughly searched with no more surprises. She went into the kitchen then put another 500 in cash in an envelope then hid it in the back of the freezer. Sam gave the apartment a once over making sure it was close to how she found it. She removed her little wedge from under the door before leaving the room for good.

She headed down the stairs but bypassed the first floor walking towards the building's basement. She paused at the door then decided to put her helmet back on just in case. She stepped into the darkened corridor then froze for a long moment to allow her eyes to adjust. She moved forward still wary of cameras knowing that they needed little to no light to do their work. She quickly located the building's utilities room behind a locked door. She mentally thanked her sister for showing her how to pick a lock, as she knelt in front of the door and pulled out her tools. She made quick work of the cheap lock then slipped into the room, closing the door behind her. She looked around the cramped space that housed the sum of the buildings cable, internet, and telephone infrastructure. It only took a few moments to find what she was looking for.

“Amateurs,” she thought as she spotted the only piece of equipment in the room that did not look old as shit.

The device held four hard drives likely full of video from Miranda’s old apartment. She pulled the four hard drives then plugged in a USB thumb drive into one of the boxes ports. She saw the lights on the device flash twice indicating she now owned the machine. As soon as the box tried to download the latest batch of files, she would be able to trace the attempted download back to its source. She pulled the thumb drive then moved to leave. She turned then froze as the door to the little room started to open.

“Well fuck,” she whispered to herself as the visibly drunken building super stumbled into the room.

“What are you doing,” the man slurred as he moved forward looming over Sam.

She looked up at him waiting for him to do something stupid.

“And there it is,” she thought as the man attempted to cop a feel.
As he reached out towards her left breast, Sam’s left hand reached out and grabbed the offending wrist. She turned it well past its normal range of motion causing a yelp of pain. He tried to pull his hand away, but Sam’s grip was stronger than he expected. Sam countered by yanking him forward pulling the larger man off balance. As his head dropped, her head came up connecting the crown of her helmet to the middle of his face. He dropped to the floor out like a light. Sam moved to the door checking to make sure the hallway was clear. She grabbed the unconscious man by his lapel and dragged him toward the stairs. She left him at the bottom of the stairs on his side, so the big dummy didn’t choke on his own tongue.

“He probably won’t even remember any of this,” Sam thought as she took the stairs two at a time. She got back to her bike and quickly moved away from the decrepit building hopefully for the last time.

 

AN: Miranda's back. Is that what you expected? Not quite the ice queen of old but I hope you like her still. Wow is Sam a badass or what. I’m guessing her adopted sister taught her more than just how to pick a lock. Questions anyone. Why the cameras? What’s in the box (Thankfully not Pepper Pott’s head.)? Will Sam ever get the orgasm she’s promised herself? What’s next for Andy and Miranda? All those questions will be answered, but you're going to have to stick around to get all the answers.

Let me know what you think. The feedback so far has been fantastic. Thank you so much for all of those who took the time to leave reviews. It helps.

Chapter Text

7.

Andy gave Miranda one last look before she silently closed the door, giving Miranda plenty of privacy to talk to her daughters. A part of her desperately wanted to be there to support the older woman as she reunited with her girls, but she and Miranda did not have that kind of relationship.

“Not yet,” a small yet insistent voice in her head added.

She sent up a silent prayer hoping that the conversation went well on both sides. It was easy to tell that the girls loved and desperately missed their mother. Andy had also read the note from Miranda to her girls, so she knew just how much it hurt the other woman to be separated from them. She wondered what kind of man the girls' father could be to separate his children from a loving mother like Miranda.

It did not speak well for the man's character and his involvement in the scheme suggested that he even wanted his ex-wife dead. Andy hoped that wasn't the case because she did not want to see those girls suffer any more than they already had. For now, Andy decided to put her energy towards getting Miranda healthy again. She would focus bringing the twins back into Miranda's life and unwinding the string of other recent tragedies that had befallen the woman.

To that end, the CEO pulled out her phone and sent a message to Lily inviting her over the next day for lunch followed by a conversation with her new client. She decided not to bother Sam for know, knowing that her ex would surface as soon as she had something important to share. It still angered her greatly that these people were playing god with Miranda's life just like her uncle Robert hin years before. Her uncle had paid the price, and Andy promised herself that she would see justice done on Miranda's behalf as well.

It did not take long, after she made it downstairs, for the food to arrive. She paid the delivery girl, tipping generously, then laid the vast array of Italian comfort foods on the kitchen island. She wasn’t sure what Miranda liked to eat or if she’d even be awake for this meal, and yet looking at the broad spread she realized that she might have gone a little overboard. It reminded Andy that despite her growing feelings, she really didn't know the former editor all that well.

“What do I know about her?” Andy asked herself.

“I know she loves her daughters

That she has real problems.

That she tried so hard to restart her life despite those problems.

That she gave up on life."

That last part wounded her heart.

"That despite everything she's still alive.

That she’s lovely."

Andy could feel a blush creep up her cheeks as she recalled her efforts to warm the silver-haired beauty on that first night. The older woman’s body was thinner than it should be and yet her curves were still quite appealing. Then there were those striking blue eyes that so easily captivated the younger woman. Andy was coming to realize that she'd never fallen for a woman so fast.

"Not even with Sam," Andy thought to herself. It amazed her because she and Sam had instant and lasting chemistry. The last time they'd made love was somehow better than it had ever been. She always wondered why her instincts told her not to marry the younger woman.

“Because, she’s who you’ve been waiting for,” that same part of her brain informed her.

As if her thoughts could summon, Miranda stepped into the kitchen.

“Are you expecting someone to join us?” Miranda asked with the little Mona Lisa smile on her face that Andy was growing to adore.

Andy blushed again as her eyes fell upon the massive spread of food.

“Well, I wasn’t sure what you liked so that I may have ordered most of the menu,” she admitted.

The little smile on Miranda’s face grew broader making it clear that the older woman was enjoying giving her dinner companion a hard time.

Andy smiled back and could no longer resist the need to touch the other woman. Andy reached out and touched Miranda's arm gently before asking.

"How did it go?"

Before Miranda could reply their eyes met then held for a long, intense moment. Andy finally took a step back but did not let go, as she allowed her desire to kiss the other woman senseless to ebb. The intensity of her feelings should have scared the crap out of her, and maybe they did, but right now she could not bring herself to care. Andy felt like whatever was going to happen between them was almost out of either of their hands.

Without knowing how, Andy was keenly aware that Miranda felt the same way. The only real question was if the woman was willing to accept it as easily as Andy herself had.

Miranda’s eyes darkened with a sudden and unexpected desire for the younger woman. She could tell that Andy wanted to kiss her and despite a complete lack of experience with the fairer sex, she most definitely welcomed it too. When Andy stepped back, she felt both relief and disappointment. There was a strange sense of their inevitability hanging in the air.

"Maybe it was just how much she missed plain human contact," Miranda speculated to herself. After a few regrettable incidents of trying to use sex as a tool to mask her pain, she'd given up. For the last year, her hand had been the only thing that gave her pleasure. Miranda's thoughts inevitably turned back to Andy's question and the guilt that her call with the girls had reignited.

Her girls had been thrilled to hear from her but the feeling that she had let them down knawed at her. Eventually, she'd had to cut the conversation short as that feeling turned into deep and painful guilt. She promised them that they would talk again tomorrow, so she hoped she could get her emotions under control by then.

Miranda still couldn't fathom why she’d chosen to abandon her girls. She understood the suicide attempt on a clinical level, and yet she could not connect to the state of mind that drove her actions.

Gentle pressure on her arm pulled the older woman away from those dark thoughts. She looked into brown eyes and was comforted by the affection, empathy and well love that she saw there. It amazed the older woman that Andy could say so much with her expressive, warm eyes. Miranda cleared her throat before she relayed the high points of her conversation with her girls. They were overjoyed to hear from their mother and to know she was OK. They still were not happy with their father for misleading them about Miranda’s supposed demise. The conversation had left her with some serious questions about Greg's actions.

“Did you tell my girls to lie to their father?” Miranda asked.

After the words came out of her mouth, she realized that it sounded like more of an accusation than she intended. Given the circumstances, Andy’s request was sensible. She was surprised, however, that her girls had so readily agreed to trust Andy, who was a virtual stranger, so easily.

“But you trust her,” the voice in the back of Miranda’s mind added.

And it was true, for some reason she trusted the other woman completely even is she couldn't say why.

Before Andy could answer Miranda decided to rephrase the question, “Why didn’t you want the girls to tell their father that I was alive?”

Andy was thoughtful for a moment before she decided to just tell the truth,” Because I don’t trust him. There is no way that I would have told your girls that you were gone unless I was able to confirm it with my own eyes.”

Miranda had wondered the same thing, so she voiced her concern. As she kept talking Miranda found herself opening up much more than she intended, ”I’ve put my girls through so much over the years and now this.”

There were no tears just a deep sadness Miranda felt in her soul. Andy wanted to make things better, but for now, all she could do was offer sustenance.

“Why don’t we eat a little then we can talk more.” Andy offered.

When Miranda consented, Andy stood then grabbed plates, silverware, and glasses for them both. Miranda listened as Andy described the entrees and side dishes on the counter. Andy poured them both a glass of sparkling water then asked Miranda what she would like to eat. Andy made them both a plate of food then touched the other woman’s back briefly as she sat the plate in front of her. Andy took the chair next to Miranda, and they began to eat. Miranda was strangely unconcerned by Andy’s frequent intrusions into her personal space. In fact, she found the young woman’s proximity comforting. Her mind noted almost continual contact as their knees grazed each other before finally settling against one another while they ate.

When dinner was done, Andy cleared both plates before depositing everything into the dishwasher. She put away the remaining food then joined Miranda back at the island.

It was quiet for a moment until both women smiled at their sudden shyness.

Finally, it was Miranda who broke the silence, “I think we’ve already shared enough with each other to skip the awkward getting to know you portion of this.”

Miranda paused on the last word before taking the tiger by the tail by adding the word, “relationship.”

Andy liked the sound of that, but there was something she needed to say before they could move forward.

“I want to make something clear,” Andy began.

“I know that you’ve been put through the wringer and it would be natural for you not to trust me.”

Miranda disagreed with that statement but allowed the younger woman to finish her thought without interruption.

“I would like to offer my assistance in getting you back on your feet and in regaining access to your girls. It is clear to me from one conversation that those girls love you very much.”

“I want to make it perfectly clear that my offer comes with no strings attached,” Andy added firmly.

Andy pulled up the banking app on her phone then showed the other woman before she said, “I took the liberty of opening a new bank account in your name. There should be enough money in there to accomplish both those goals so if you want to walk away from me, you may do so at any point."

Miranda looked at the phone and was stunned to see a one followed by seven zeros sitting in the account. She handed back the phone before she responded, “Andy, That is far too generous.”

“Not really, I am the CEO and majority owner of a multi-billion dollar company and to be honest between salary and investments I clear that amount every few months.”

“My god,” Miranda thoughts as things began to make more sense. Andy’s home was expensive but not opulent meaning she could live a far more extravagant lifestyle than the one she chose.

“My corporate counsel Lily is reviewing the court documents from the custody hearing. I invited her over for lunch tomorrow so she can relay the next steps if you decide you want her on the case."

If at any point you decide you don’t want a relationship with me the bank account is yours, and you can deal directly with Lily or your new attorney.”

Miranda looked at the other woman in amazement.

“How did you grow up wealthy and still be this selfless?’ Miranda asked.

Andy blinked a few times not quite sure how to answer. Yes, she’d grown up wealthy and even when she went to live with Lily's Gran and Gramps her standard of living didn't change much.

”I don’t know; I’ve just always felt this way, ” was Andy’s honest yet straightforward answer.

Given Andy’s far too generous offer of help with no strings attached, Miranda accepted. She also somehow knew it didn't really matter. In her heart, she did not believe Andy was capable of abandoning her like so many others had.

"Including you," a dark part of her psyche added.

”There are some other things that you need to know, and they’re not good,” Andy said as a preamble.

Miranda sat in silence as Andy laid out all she had discovered about Miranda’s troubles as well as her and the girl Sam’s speculations about a larger conspiracy.

It was surreal for Miranda to see her recent troubles through an entirely new lens. She’d always suspected that Stephen had done something underhanded to get their prenup invalidated, but never would she have guessed that Greg could be so heartless.

“How much of this can we actually prove?” Miranda asked as Andy finished her retelling.

“All of it, but doing so without revealing how we came across the information may be difficult. Sam’s methods are, shall we say unorthodox.”

It surprised Miranda that Andy would associate with someone so willing to skirt the law. Not that Miranda minded, she was grateful that this girl, who’d she never met, was willing to do so much on her behalf. Then again she was probably doing it for Andy. Miranda wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that. It was clear that Andy trusted both Lily and Sam, but there seemed to be more there between Andy and Sam. Even though she’d only known Andy for such a short period, she had to admit to feeling a certain possessiveness. She wondered how Sam fit into Andy’s life, but she wasn't ready to broach that subject, yet.

Miranda tried and failed to stifle a yawn, which caused Andy to check her watch.

“Gosh, I didn’t realize how late it was. If it’s OK with you, why don't we finish this conversation in the morning?” Andy suggested.

Andy offered her arm and Miranda gratefully accepted it allowing the younger woman to escort her up the stairs. They took turns in the ensuite preparing for bed. There was an awkward moment when the two met next to the large king size bed. Ever the gentlewoman, Andy gave Miranda the bed as she grabbed a pillow and made to move to her chair. Miranda slipped into the bed while she watched the other woman arrange herself in the oversized chair. After several minutes trying to get comfortable, Miranda wondered if she should have invited the younger woman to at least lie next to her. Before she could voice that thought, she slipped into sleep.

Sam pulled into her private garage and parked her bike next to her latest toy. The Audi E-Tron was a cutting edge all-electric sports car that wasn’t even on the market yet. The car was a gift from her girlfriend who was able to buy it early through a profitable business arrangement with the German automaker. Mia had lots of those connections, but that wasn’t what Sam loved about the older woman. Mia was just the most fantastic thing that had ever happened to Sam period end of sentence. She ran her hand along the sleek body, as she remembered riding in the passenger seat of this very car as Mia drove them far faster than was advisable.

They’d just finished making love, but neither of them was ready to sleep. So Mia suggested they take a drive. It was one of Sam’s favorite memories, watching Mia’s silky brown tresses blowing in the wind. Later, Mia had admitted how free she felt when she was with Sam. It brought a tear to Sam’s eyes knowing that Mia found a freedom in their time together that her highly regimented life did not always allow.

Sam put Mia out of her mind for now as she moved toward the elevator. A moment later, she strolled into her empty apartment dropping her leather jacket and helmet as she went. She walked to the far end of her loft and placed her bag on a metal bench she used to build and repair computer hardware. She extracted the hard drives and the little box before booting up a desktop computer. The machine was air gaped meaning it wasn’t connected to any other network, which made it perfect for tonight’s mission. She hooked up each drive then ran a diagnostic program that would check for both malware and tracing software. When the drives came up clean, she opened one at random and began to explore the data.

After several minutes she’d already cataloged thousands of files. She chose a file at random, then found herself looking down into Miranda’s bedroom. Since the shot began with Miranda walking through the door, Sam speculated that the cameras were motion activated. She chose several more files all of which began with the older woman moving into frame.

She wondered what the people who bugged her apartment were hoping to see as she watched yet another video at thirty times normal speed. As the video played on, Sam blushed then averted her eyes as Miranda appeared to be attempting a manual release.

“You knew that was a possibility,” she told herself as she pretended to find the brick wall in her loft interesting. By the time she looked back at the screen, Miranda lay on her side asleep. Sam was about to go to the next video when she realized the video still had hours left to run. She continued to watch as every few moments the woman tossed and turned in her sleep.

Playing a hunch, Sam opened the video for the next night. She decided to jump it ahead of the time Miranda had fallen asleep the night before hoping to avoid catching the woman’s other late-night activity. It did not work out as planned, as Sam started the video just in time to witness Miranda’s O'face in crystal clear HD. Sam felt her blush return in full force as she tried to drag her eyes away from the sensual look on Miranda's striking features as the older woman orgasmed.

Sam looked back at the screen and witnessed an almost exact repeat of Miranda's previous night of restless sleep.

Not wanting to chance catching the woman her friend was falling for in another compromising position, Sam gave up on the video search for the time being. Besides, if she needed more information from the video, she could always have the woman herself take on the task. It pissed her off to know that whoever was monitoring Miranda would have no regard for the other woman’s privacy.

She grabbed a nearby laptop then opened the sniffer program that was tied to the tracing malware she’d left on the video server. There was no activity, so she set up an alarm that would ping her phone whenever the malware went active. Finally, she took the stolen hard drives and stored them in her wall safe.

She stepped back to her desk and turned her attention to the black box sitting there. She started by placing the box under an led magnifying glass and examined all six sides. It did not take very long to determine that the outside of the box was truly free of markings. What she did find was two sets of screws on the bottom of the device. She removed all four screws allowing the bottom to slide free revealing several circuit boards. After using the magnifying glass, Sam was able to determine who manufactured the boards. She used the built-in camera to take a series of pictures of the inside of the device. Despite her engineering background, Sam couldn’t deduce the purpose of the device but the company that made the board specialized in medical equipment.

She was a little too worn out to follow up on this lead, but she knew someone who could. She sent a quick message to her fellow hacker Invictus asking if he was up for doing a little research. They agreed on a price, she sent him the high-resolution photos, and he promised to produce results by morning.

Sam sighed then stretched as the last several days caught up in a rush of fatigue. She headed to her bedroom stripping off clothes as she walked through the door. She was down to just a pair of black panties by the time she reached her bathroom. She quickly completed her nightly routine then climbed into bed. She checked her phone and grinned when she saw texts from Mia.

Mia: You are ruining my focus

Mia: All day in important meetings and all I can do is think about you

With a grin, Sam sent back her response.

Sam: Miss you too sweetie, we’ll talk tomorrow, my tomorrow not yours

“Sometimes having your girlfriend six time zones away sucked,” Sam thought as she put her phone down.

When Sam closed her eyes images of Mia’s body under hers immediately came to mind. As unlikely as their meeting and subsequent romance was, Sam could not get enough of the other woman. The feeling was mutual, but Mia’s schedule was hectic leaving them with little time together of late. Sam opened her eyes and grabbed her phone. She pulled up her favorite photo of Mia then sat the phone next to her on the pillow.

She imagined Mia’s hands touched her as she explored her own body. When a hand eventually found it’s way into her panties she discovered that she was soaking wet. She knew it was more than just MIa. The rush of adrenaline that came after knocking out that pervert caused a spike in hormones that always left her aroused. Seeing Miranda's face during orgasm certainly factored in, but she chose not to dwell on that fact. She rolled onto her side then reached into her nightstand. She pulled out her rabbit vibrator wanting to take full advantage of her well-lubricated state. She closed her eyes and pictured the device in Mia’s hand. She slipped out of her panties, turned on the vibrator, then moved it into position.

“Oh, that's good,” Sam whispered as she made contact with her outer lips. She slid the head up and down enjoying the sensation of her own slickness. She spent moments sliding it back and forth coating her lips with her own moisture. She shuddered as the vibrating tip came closer to her clit than she intended. Sam rolled onto her side recreating a position that Mia had put her in the last time they'd been together. She loved it when Mia took control so, she imagined her girlfriend's weight straddling her body as she slid the rabbit home.

“Oh, Mia” Sam cried out as the rabbit worked its way fully inside of her. Sam took a moment to enjoy the sensation of being full. She felt herself begin to clench around the foreign object prompting her to start a slow in and out motion just like Mia had. It still surprised her how quickly the older woman learned to master Sam’s body. She picked up the pace as her need for release built effortlessly. In moments Sam was panting as she fucked herself with increasingly faster strokes until finally, bright light exploded behind her closed eyes.

“Mia, she moaned as she shoved the rabbit home one last time.

She felt her muscles tighten around the device as she drew the orgasm out for all it was worth. As her body calmed, she withdrew the rabbit before putting it away. She rolled onto her other side and quickly fell asleep.

AN: Sorry for the delay in posting but my weekend was hectic. Sam is moving closer to unraveling the mystery while Andy and Miranda are getting to know each other. Expect more of that for them in the next chapter. The next chapter will also feature a cameo by a couple that I really like. It's not the other fandom I promised just a pit stop that will also help move the story forward. As I said from the beginning, I have this story more or less worked out, and there is a lot more to tell. There are more surprises to come so stay tuned.

I am doing my best to update once a week so bear with me. I appreciate all the positive feedback, so thank you all.

Chapter Text

8.

Sam opened her eyes with a groan. She rolled on to her side hoping it would do something about the dreadful pounding in her head. She felt like a giant pile of poo which was odd. Usually, a good fucking orgasm followed by six solid hours of sleep left her feeling fantastic. She slid out of bed but needed to catch herself before she fell on her face.

"What the fuck," she said to an empty apartment.

She went much slower this time gaining her feet with some effort. She walked into her bathroom, started the shower, then took a handful of migraine medication. She stayed under the hot spray far longer than usual, but by the time she stepped out of the shower, the medicine had yet to kick in. Sam donned a robe eschewing her normal habit of strutting around her flat in the buff. She went to her computer then logged into her Athena account to see that Invictus had produced results. She transferred the agreed upon sum of coin to his account then turned her attention to the attached report.

"DeSima," she read.

The name of the company did not ring a bell but as she continued reading she did recognize the name of one companies directors. She reached for the device intending to reassemble it when she noticed that the exposed circuit boards were warm to the touch.

"This thing is still running," Sam belatedly realized.

She put the device back together quickly as she wondered what the hell the damn thing was doing to her. She stored it in her bag then hung her bag next to the elevator. Her demeanor had not changed much since waking so; she turned her attention towards the fancy coffee maker that had been a gift from Andy while they were still dating. It made her think of the similarities between the two most important women in her life. She also wondered how Andy would feel when she found about her and Mia. Like with most things in her life these days, it was complicated. She decided to put the mysteries of love and fate out of her head and concentrate on the tasks at hand. Two cups of coffee and toasted bagel later had her feeling almost human again.

She went into her bathroom to finish getting ready to meet the day. She took a few moments to style her loose curls into a more manageable braid. A touch of makeup around her eyes and the woman in the mirror looked better than Sam felt. She slipped on a tank top, no bra she rarely wore one, and a pair of black briefs followed by her favorite pair of jeans. She grabbed her leather jacket and motorcycle boots to complete her look.

As she got her feet into her boots, she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. She pulled it out and smiled as a picture of her lover appeared.

"Hello gorgeous," She answered.

"I believe that is my line," the cool, cultured voice answered from over four thousand miles away.

"How did it go yesterday?" Sam asked.

"Tiresome, I spent most of my day with the Austrian trade minister talking more to my breasts than my face."

"What were you wearing?" Sam asked with a smirk.

"Valentino."

Sam's grin broadened as she responded, "well I can hardly blame him; you are breathtaking in Valentino."

"I never took you for a sexist Samantha," Mia pointed out.

"Huh?" Sam asked.

"The Austrian trade minister is a woman," Mia answered.

Sam laughed out loud, "Now I'm even more jealous."

"Don't be she's happily married, besides I only have eyes for you."

"Oh, Sweetie," Sam said suddenly feeling considerably better.

"Enough about me, tell me what interesting things have you been up to since the last time we spoke."

"Well, things have gotten interesting in the last few days," Sam agreed.

"Oh," Mia prompted,

Sam took a few moments to bring Mia up to speed on the whole Miranda Priestly affair leaving out the more legally dubious details as she went. It wasn't that she didn't trust Mia; she was just smart enough not to share information that could be compelled through testimony. That really wasn't an issue because of Mia's status, so she was mostly doing it out of habit. But it was still better to be safe when it came to her less than legal activities.

"So that's what happened to Miranda," Mia commented.

"Did you know her?" Sam wanted to know.

"Only by reputation. So you think there something between the two of them?" Mia asked picking up on Sam's subtext.

"Yes, but I think Andy is mostly focused on trying to help for now."

"I hate to hear that Miranda's life was being manipulated in such a dreadful manner. Please tell me if there is any way that I can help."

"Thanks, Mia, I will."

"I'm afraid that Janet will be coming for me any moment," Mia said with regret.

"I miss you," Sam said.

Those weren't the words she wanted to say, but she did not want the first time she told Mia that she loved her to be over the phone.

"You have no idea how much I wanted you with me last night," Mia responded.

"Oh, I think I know exactly how much," Sam said thinking of how her own night ended.

The couple said their goodbyes after promising to talk again in a few days once the trade negotiation came to an end.

Since DeSima was located in Manhattan, Sam decided to go directly to the source. As Sam walked into the companies offices, she had to admit that the glass and steel architecture was rather impressive. She winked at the pretty receptionist before asking to speak to Cosima.

Cosima Niehaus was a rock star scientist who had been at Caltech at the same time Sam was at MIT. The two of them had met a few times at conferences and seemed to hit it off well.

The woman, clearly flustered by Sam's flirting, asked, "is Dr. Niehaus expecting you."

"No, but could you tell her that Athena would like a word," Sam said sweetly.

Sam watched the pretty woman's cheeks turn red as she picked up the phone and dialed a number.

"Cosima, my love you have a visitor," said the tall blonde on the other end of the line as she put her phone back in its cradle.

"A visitor," Cosima answered her wife distractedly.

"Can they like come back later, I'm kinda in the middle of something right now," she added as she resumed her position in front of her computer screen.

"Ok, I'll tell Athena," to come back later.

Cosima looked up, "Delphine did you say, Athena."

"I did, does that name mean something to you?" her wife asked.

"Yeah, If it's who I think it is," Cosima replied as she stood and took her wife's hand.

She pulled the woman along with her as she headed to meet their visitor.

"So who is this Athena?" Delphine asked.

"She's like a legend, went to MIT, crazy smart."

"And beautiful," Delphine added as they both looked over at the woman in the black leather jacket.

Sam stood to meet the two women. She opened her arms and pulled the shorter of the two women into a brief hug.

Cosima blushed a near scarlet color as she pulled back.

Delphine cleared her throat to get her wife's attention.

"Oh yeah sorry, this is my wife and business partner, Delphine Cormier."

"Delphine this is the mighty Athena," Cosima added.

It was Sam's turn to blush a little as she responded, "I mostly just go by Sam these days."

"How long has it been?" Cosima asked.

"That nanotech conference in Hong Kong," Sam offered.

"What brings you here," Delphine asked with genuine curiosity.

Sam gazed around the large open foyer before she asked, "Can we talk someplace a little more private?"

The attractive couple led Sam back to a space that turned out to be their laboratory.

Sam looked around even more impressed with the ample space, and it's array of high-tech equipment.

"Do you mind if I ask what you specialize in?" Sam asked after they settled around a waist height glass table.

The couple looked at each other trying to figure out how much they should say.

Eventually, Casima offered, "We mainly focus on developing solutions to women's health issues."

Sam had no idea what that meant, and it showed on her face.

"So over there," Cosima began as she pointed at a nearby work table.

"Is a new sensor we developed for GE's next-generation mammogram," the brunette scientist finished.

Sam nodded her head then reached into her bag. She pulled out the little black box placing it on the table. It was clear from their reaction that the two scientists recognized the device.

"Is this one of your creations?" Sam asked.

"Where did you get that," Delphine asked as Cosima picked the device up to examine it.

Instead of answering the blonde's question, Sam asked a follow-up, "What does it do?"

That pulled Cosima out of her examination as she replied, "It as suppose to help people with chronic and severe insomnia."

"But?" Sam asked picking up on something in the other woman's tone.

Delphine took over from there, "Though it showed initial promise in helping our test patients to fall asleep, our brain scans showed that three-quarters of the experimental group were not achieving true restorative sleep."

Cosima seamlessly picked up from there, "The device disrupted the delta waves in the brains in all of the test groups. Some were affected more than others. We tried several adjustments to fix the problem, but when the test subjects started exhibiting some disturbing behavior, we abandoned the project."

"Disturbing behavior?" Sam echoed afraid she already knew the answer.

"When the brain is unable to reach deep sleep it can be disruptive to their mental health," Delphine said.

"What would happen if someone was exposed to this for a prolonged period?" Sam asked.

The couple looked at her alarmed with where the conversation was going.

"Theoretically with long enough exposure, the person's mental state would deteriorate over time leading to deep depression and even suicide. But we monitored the subjects to make sure that their delta waves returned to normal after we ended the trials," Cosima added.

Sam took in a long breath at hearing the confirmation of the worst case.

"You never answered my original question. Does this belong to you?" Sam asked again.

Delphine walked to a nearby lab table and retrieved a set of tools. She took the device apart then took a closer look with a magnifying glass. She handed the glass over to her wife who quickly came to the same conclusion.

"It's one of ours," Cosima confirmed.

"Now tell us how it came to be in your possession," Delphine said rather firmly.

"Someone placed this device behind the bed of someone I know."

Sam watched the two women as their faces went from puzzled, to dismayed, to angry in a span of a few seconds.

"That's equivalent to holding a gun to someone head then pulling the trigger." the blonde scientist pointed out causing her wife to gasp in horror.

"Is your friend dead?" Cosima asked in a shaky voice.

"No, but it was a close thing," Sam said.

Sam asked a few more questions and was glad to hear that there shouldn't be any lasting effects now that Miranda was no longer being exposed to the device.

"So do you have any idea how this device ended up in my friends apartment?" Sam asked.

"Surely you don't think we had anything to with this?" Delphine asked.

Before Sam could say anything, Cosima answered for her, "No sweetheart, Athena knows it wasn't us. She wants to know if we have any idea who could have gotten access to our equipment."

When Sam nodded her agreement, Cosima pulled up a spreadsheet on her computer.

"I just need the serial number from the main board," the scientist said.

Delphine picked up the glass then read off a series of letters and numbers. Cosima started going through the list as her wife joined her leaning over her left shoulder. Sam looked over at the two women noting that they made a rather cute couple.

"Got it," Cosima proclaimed.

Sam stood so she could look over Cosima's other shoulder. The brunette pointed at the screen before she said, "This was the one we sent to our legal counsel so he could file for the patent.

"Who's your counsel?" Sam asked.

Delphine walked to her desk and retrieved a card then handed it over. Sam looked at the card for James Trist, but she didn't recognize the name of his firm.

"Ok, I need a favor." Sam started

"You don't want us to mention this to James," Cosima speculated.

"Actually, I would prefer that you not tell anyone," Sam corrected.

The couple looked at each other before they both agreed to keep this conversation private.

"Only if you promise to tell us what this was all about," Cosima added.

Sam agreed before asking one more question, "how do I disable this thing?"

"Was this in your apartment last night," Cosima asked with concern on her face.

"Yeah, with the housing off," Sam replied.

"Don't do that again," Delphine added before she pulled two wires from a hidden power source. She reassembled the device then handed it back to Sam.

Sam thanked the married couple promising to let them know how everything turned out before taking her leave.

"So, was she your first college crush?" Delphine asked with a smirk.

When her wife did not respond Delphine pushed on, "Oh come on Mi Amore, she's smart, sexy, and the whole leather thing works."

"Ok, Ok, I may have had a crush once upon a time," Cosima admitted.

"I'm guessing you still do," Delphine said then gave her spouse a sweet kiss just above the line of red skin on the younger woman's blushing cheek.

Andy woke but not at her usual time. She looked around the room seeking out the other woman finding her still sleeping in her bed. Her eyes refused to look away as she studied Miranda's face in sleep. It took on an almost angelic peacefulness that was unexpected.

"You're cute when you sleep," Andy said to the sleeping woman.

"Given my reputation, few would agree with your assessment," Miranda replied with eyes still firmly shut.

Andy blushed a little not expecting her words to reach the older woman's ears. Her blush only deepened as the other woman opened an eye.

"I'm not sure what you see in me," Miranda commented.

Andy smiled at her companion before she responded, "I see everything that matters."

Andy had not intended to say that, but her mouth had other plans. She could not quite interpret the look on Miranda's face until the left side of her mouth rose into that little half smirk. Andy was beginning to understand that the look had several meanings. In this case, Andy guessed that it meant Miranda was pleased with her declaration even if she didn't fully understand it.

"Why don't I run you a bath then we can have some breakfast," Andy offered.

The expression of relief on Miranda's face was so completely her that it made Andy smile. Andy took the look as permission, so she got up and walked into her en-suite. She started the bath then poured in a healthy amount of bath oils before topping it off with a little bubble bath. She decided she had time for a quick shower while the large spa style tub filled. It was just about at her desired level as she got out, so she toweled off then slipped into a short silk robe. As she reached over to turn off the taps, Andy heard the door behind her open then close. When she looked back at the older woman, she took note that Miranda's eyes were fixed on her bared legs. She cleared her throat causing her companion to pull her eyes upward though they seemed to linger on her breast before finally reaching her face.

Ignored the feeling of both nipples hardening, Andy spoke, "If you make a list of anything you may need over the next few days, I'll have one of my assistants pick them up."

Miranda could only nod, her perusal of the woman standing before had temporarily rendered her speechless. Never before had the feminine form been so interesting to the former fashion magazine editor. Andy went into her closet dressed then found some loungewear that would not look too baggy on the petite woman. By the time she got back into the bathroom, Miranda had already stripped out of her pajamas and had seated herself into the deep tub. Andy indicated the clothing in her hand before placing it on a nearby counter. She gathered up Miranda's neatly folded pajamas before she said, "do you like coffee."

The broad smile on the woman's face was all the answer Andy needed.

Down in the kitchen, Andy pulled out ingredients deciding to once again go with the more is better philosophy that seemed to have worked the previous evening.

Before getting started, she pulled up her phone and sent a message to her second assistant telling Aubrey to head to Macy's. She sent a list of clothing covering a full array of loungewear, sleepwear, underwear, as well as an assortment of dresses, skirts, blouses, and shoes. She decided to get everything in a size two, hoping to add some meat to Miranda's bones over the next few weeks.

"Assuming she stays that long," a small voice added in the back of her mind.

Andy decided to ignore that concern for now and focus on making their morning meal.

It took her longer than usual as every breakfast item imaginable was now sitting in a warming drawer while her guest finished in the bath. In the meantime, Andy trudged over to her office to do some work. She started with a series of instructions to her first assistant. She paid the woman well so despite the humble title the woman's efficiency meant she could act in Andy's stead in any number of circumstances. By the time she was done, she found Miranda standing in the kitchen. Andy took note that she looked refreshed and quite alluring in the casual clothing and bared feet.

"Down girl," Andy reminded herself.

"How was the bath?" Andy asked.

"Necessary," Miranda responded with a relieved smile.

Miranda handed over a short list of items written on Andy's stationery. Andy took a photo of the list, sent it to Aubrey, then started pulling items out of the warmer.

Miranda laughed once she saw the spread of food that matched last evenings smorgasbord of selections.

Miranda selected a little of everything including pancakes of all things. She gave Andy a grateful look as she took her first sip of excellent coffee. It had been some time since she had anything close to the gourmet brew in her cup.

Without thinking, the two women took the same seats and even the same positions close to one another as they had the previous night. When they finished eating, Miranda watched as Andy once again did all the work to clear the dishes and to put away the food. Miranda had a lot on her mind throughout breakfast, but she wasn't sure how to approach the topic with the younger woman. Instead, she claimed to need a little more rest. Andy was very understanding as she let Miranda know that she'd be in her office if her guest needed anything.

They stood before each other awkwardly as each woman debated how to end the conversation. Finally, Andy leaned in and placed a gentle kiss to Miranda's right cheek. The younger woman was quite pleased with herself as a blush crept up Miranda's cheeks. She suspected that the formidable woman was not used to such displays, but in this case, she allowed it even giving Andy a little smile before turning on her heels.

Sometime later Andy greeted her number two assistant who delivered the clothing and the items from Miranda's list of essentials. She thanked the young woman then gave her enough money to have a nice lunch for two. The woman beamed then thanked her boss for her generosity. The young woman was working out well which meant Andy could move forward with her plan to promote her first assistant. It was time for Jenny to take on more responsibility. Besides pulling Audrey from under Jenny's direct supervision would be wise given the torrid little affair the two women thought they were doing a good job of hiding. Andy smiled trying to imagine the dynamic between the well put together older redhead and the more carefree younger blonde. She made a conscious effort to stop thinking about the love life of her two assistants and went in search of her house guest.

She opened the door to her bedroom and had to smile as she spotted Miranda lounging in her chair reading her Kindle. "Wearing your clothes," her mind added.

It made her happy to see Miranda so comfortable in her bedroom. She cleared her throat causing the older woman to look up. Before she could say anything Miranda spoke, "I would have started with Game of Thrones earlier had I known there was this much sex."

Andy blushed a bright red before she responded," Oh, that's someone else's take on GOT."

Miranda's raised eyebrow forced Andy to explain further, "A fan, who thought that Aria and Dani should be a couple, wrote it."

"Well I particularly enjoyed the younger woman's chivalrous nature," Miranda commented.

Andy gave the other woman a long look trying to interpret any hidden meaning behind her words.

"I spoke to Lily. She had a meeting run long so we'll be on our own for lunch," Andy said needing a change of subject.

Miranda's smile made Andy quite happy for the delay.

She laid the new clothing on the bed then slipped into the en-suite to put Miranda's essentials in a drawer that she'd cleared out for the other woman. As she walked back into her bedroom, she was surprised to see the older woman was only wearing one of the matching bra and panty sets that she'd provided. Andy apologized for the intrusion and turned to go back into the bathroom.

"Surely you are not turning shy now," Miranda said.

Andy turned back with a look of shock on her face. It disappeared when she saw the shining amusement in the other woman's blue eyes and that sexy little half smirk plastered on her face.

She took a long appraising look at the older woman, pleased to see that she was already starting to look healthier.

"Nonsense she looks damn good," another part of her countered.

Miranda took in the open look of interest as her body responded on its own volition. She refused to feel embarrassed by her hardened nipples or the sudden slickness she felt between her legs.

"I, I'll make us a couple of sandwiches," Andy said moving swiftly towards the door.

Miranda did not say a word, but she did nothing to cover herself as the younger woman took one last look desire written plainly on her face. It had been a long time since Miranda had truly felt wanted like this. She'd had sex several times since assuming her Miriam persona, but it had been more about forgetting their collective problems than any real old fashion desire. That was not the case this time; the way the younger wanted her was not just flattering but.

"But what?" her mind asked.

"Overwhelming, intense, sexy."

Did she want this?

"Oh yes," her body was saying even if her mind had yet to catch up with that fact.

"God, she wanted to be touched so badly right now."

She briefly considered doing something about that as soon as the younger woman left the room, but the idea of being interrupted by the other woman weighted on her. Not that she would necessarily mind it, but she wasn't quite ready to open herself to the younger woman.

Then there was her failed suicide attempt she had yet to deal with. Could she be trusted not to hurt a woman who'd already suffered so much in her young life?

"Denying her desires would hurt her too," she thought ruefully.

"Damned if I do, damned if I don't."

Her desire cooled a little as the debate continued in her head.

By the time she looked up again, the younger woman had slipped out of the room. She looked over the clothing and was pleasantly surprised that she did not object to any of the selections. She picked out a pair of grey slacks finding them well fitting. She took a moment to enjoy the feel of the elegant fabric against her skin for the first time in years. She paired the slacks with a black silk blouse and four-inch heels creating a pleasing silhouette. She stepped into the bathroom and quickly spotted her preferred beauty products. Looking into the mirror, she had a brief debate with herself.

On the one hand, Andy had expressed her interest upon seeing her at her worst. On the other, why not put her best foot forward. The last argument held sway as she began opening the new products. She gave herself one final look and was pleased to see the reemergence of Miranda.

Andy decided to repurpose some of the leftover food from last night's dinner, turning them into panini sandwiches for them both. Andy had just finished brewing some iced tea when Miranda walked into the room. Her brain-locked as she saw Miranda Priestly in all her glory for the first time. The effect was dazzling on the younger woman. It was as if the woman she'd been cohabitating with for the last few days had transformed from gorgeous to goddess.

Miranda took note of Andy's reaction and was pleased with her decision to go for it.

"You look really nice," Andy finally managed then looked aghast at the inartful turn of phrase.

Miranda merely smiled as she said," lunch smells divine. What are we having?"

Andy described what she'd done as she placed a plate and glass in front of her guest.

True to her word Lily arrived shortly after lunch. By her friend's demeanor, Andy could tell that the news was not great. She made the introductions before leading both women to the den. Andy took a seat on a comfortable couch and was happy when Miranda chose to sit next to her. She could tell that the older woman was picking up on Lily's mood as she too looked nervous. She held out her hand, and the other woman took it while giving her a grateful look. She ignored Lily's pointed look as she asked, "tell us what you've found out?"

"The good news is that your case has been assigned to a new judge," Lily began. The look she gave Andy made it clear that she suspected Sam's intervention, but they both knew better than to have that conversation.

"That is good news," Andy said unsure of the source of Lily's consternation.

"The problem is Judge Graves won't care about how unfair the previous ruling was, her only concern will be the welfare of the children," Lily stated.

Andy felt Miranda's hand tighten in hers at this news.

"Using Miranda's recent past against her is hardly fair," Andy countered.

"Fair or not if your ex-husband's council has a pulse he'll bring it up during the hearing."

"And then there is the matter of how you two became acquainted," Lily offered diplomatically.

Despite the sugar coating, the words hit Miranda square in the gut.

"The worst part of it all is that I don't even know why I did it," Miranda said with a voice full of regret.

"I may be able to shed some light on that subject," Sam said entering the room and dropping a black box onto the table.

AN: Things are starting to happen people. How will Miranda react to the news that her suicide attempt was actually attempted murder? I hope you like where this is headed as things are starting to heat up between our favorite ladies as well. Andy's obviously got it bad. How long can Miranda resist? Hint, Hint, not for long. I was happy to find a reason to bring Cosima and Delphine in for a quick visit that also moved the story forward. By the way, I do not claim ownership of any characters from the TV Show Orphan Black (that honor belongs to co-creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson). I just love writing about smart girls so expect me to introduce other smart girls as our story continues to unfold. Tell me what you think.

Chapter Text

Chapter Text
9.

Miranda looked up as a stunningly beautiful young woman entered the room. She turned towards Andy and saw happiness bloom on the other woman’s face as she smiled warmly at the newcomer. As the woman approached, Miranda picked up on another emotion playing across Andy’s face. “Maybe it was relief,” Miranda thought as Andy stood to greet her visitor.

“Miranda this is my friend Sam. Sam meet by guest Miranda.”

Miranda stood and reached out a hand. As the shook, Miranda could not resist her habit of assessing Sam’s clothing. It was not her style, but she had to admit that the young woman pulled it off well. As they all sat, Miranda looked between Andy and Sam and saw everything she would expect from long term friends and quite a bit more. A sense of uneasiness settled in the pit of her stomach as she realized that unlike Lily, Sam appeared to have carte blanche access to Andy’s home.

“Sam, can you tell us how that box connects to Miranda’s problems?” Andy asked.

Miranda felt another sting hearing Andy’s carefully chosen words.

“You mean my attempted suicide,” she corrected in an icy voice.

She saw the hurt flash in Andy’s expressive eyes and instantly regretted her tone.

Despite all the indignities she’d suffered recent years, she still found it difficult to have her life laid bare in front of a woman she cared for.

“You wouldn’t be feeling this off balance if you just cared about her,” her mind tried to correct.

She slipped her hand back into Andy’s and squeezed hoping the silent apology would be enough for now. Her squeeze was immediately returned even though Andy’s eyes stayed fixed on Sam’s face. Miranda turned her attention to the young woman just in time see Sam’s eyes drift down to their joined hands. The expression that appeared on the younger woman’s face was not at all what she expected. Instead of jealousy or disapproval, Sam’s face shifted from thoughtful, to satisfied, to something approaching happiness. It seemed that there was more to Andy and Sam’s relationship than Miranda had assumed.

Andy cleared her throat prompting Sam to answer the original question, “The box was manufactured by a company called DeSima.”

Sam went on to explain her connection with one of the companies founders and her trip to their offices this morning,

“The company is dedicated to address health issues that affect women.

In this case, they developed the box to treat severe and chronic insomnia.

The device showed initial promise during clinical trials, but when they began witnessing some disturbing side effects, they shut down the test.”

Miranda and Andy both wore confused looks, so Sam continued, “They discovered that the device interfered with the brain’s ability to achieve true restorative sleep which can have some rather brutal effects.”

Recognition bloomed in Miranda’s mind as she contemplated all the mornings she’d woken up feeling like she had not slept at all.

“The subjects first complained of headaches, increased anxiety, lack of impulse control and several dropped into deep depression.”

“Ok, connect to dots for me here” Andy prompted.

“I went back to your former apartment and had a look around last night.

I found the device in the vent directly behind the bed along with high-resolution cameras in the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom,” Sam answered.

There was a collective gasp from both Andy and Lily at this news, but Miranda remained silent as her mind tried to come to grips.

“I had this thing in my apartment last night, and I felt awful this morning. That was just from one night, and we have no way of knowing it was there.”

“So you’re telling me that this box caused me to try and kill myself?” Miranda asked.

Sam looked thoughtful for a moment before she responded, “Scientifically there are a lot of variables, but yes I believe that whoever put the box in your apartment wanted that end result.”

Miranda took in Sam’s words and felt some of the weight she’d been carrying begin to lift from her shoulders. Her problems were not all solved but knowing the circumstances that led her to try and end her life helped to settle her mind.

“Is that why they installed the cameras?” Lily asked.

“One of the reasons,” Sam answered cryptically.

Miranda paled as she finally picked up on what Sam was not saying. There were recordings of the things she’d done in that apartment, and those videos could one day be revealed to the world.

That thought led to another so she asked, “Why would they do this to me?”

Sam’s face took on a hard edge as she responded,” I don’t believe this was done just to hurt you.”

The shock and hurt on Miranda’s face must have been apparent as all in the room including the more standoffish Lily gave her looks of compassion. Miranda hated feeling this exposed. Andy was one thing, but Lily was not a fan and as for Sam. She wasn’t sure what to think of Sam. It was clear the young woman had done much on her behalf, but her motives were more likely about pleasing Andy than anything else. Yet she had to admit to liking the women's no-bullshit demeanor. It reminded her of herself.

“Explain,” Miranda prompted once she was able to get her emotions back under control.

“This was always about money.

Replacing you with the Follet woman caused the Elias Clark stock to crash almost overnight.

Both of your ex-husbands, Irv Ravitz, and the other members of this conspiracy all made millions when because they anticipated the stock would go down.

I believe they were counting on another stock price drop once news of your suicide broke. I expect that the details surrounding your final days along with the story of your blacklisting would’ve also been leaked to the press.

The resulting PR nightmare would cause the already battered stock price to free fall.”

“It’s a takeover,” Andy said coming to the same conclusion.

“Yeah, I think so, but I feel like there’s more to it than that.

The way they did this was more ruthless than it needed to be which suggest that the stakes are about more than just money or control,” Sam speculated.

“Men have been known to be this cruel for any number of reasons.” Lily pointed out.

“While that might be true, I think there is more in this case.

With a new editor at Runway maybe they can bring the magazine somewhere near its old highs, but it could take years for the stock price to rebound.” Sam countered.

“What else is this about then?” Andy asked.

“That’s just it, the first half of this scheme.

Firing and blacklisting Miranda. Shorting the stock.

Those are some seriously heinous tactics but not unheard of in the legitimate business world.

Even blackmailing judges is something I can see these men doing.

The black box and the video surveillance is something else completely,” Sam concluded.

“It’s creepy is what it is,” Lily chimed in.

Each woman was silent for a moment as they contemplated what it would be like to have someone put surveillance cameras in their homes. Of course, Miranda did not have to imagine it because she’d lived it. She could not help but think about all of the things she’d done it that apartment, in that bed. Private things. Things with men who she hardly knew. Things she was not proud of. She squeezed Andy’s hand pulling the younger woman from her thoughts as she focused on Miranda’s sad face.

“I don’t think we’re going to solve everything today,” Andy said picking up on Miranda’s shift in mood.

“Sam can you keep digging into the financials to see if you can make sense of the endgame.

Lily thanks for the update, with Miranda’s permission I’d like you to start working on some strategies for the custody hearing.”

Miranda nodded her assent to Andy’s suggestion without looking up.

“Let’s get back together the same time tomorrow,” Andy said then stood to walk her guests out.

Miranda had the vague sense of everyone leaving but was too trapped into her own thoughts to register much besides Andy’s sudden absence. She sat there regretting every one-night stand she’d had in an attempt to soothe her pain. Regretted fucking the young man who had, in essence, became her drug dealer. She’d lost all dignity at that point, so the things she’d done and the things she’d allowed him to do to her were not pretty. Miranda Priestly would have never done anything like that, but apparently, Miriam could and had.

While she was beating herself up for her past mistakes, the more clinical part of her brain reminded her that she’d been in a lot of pain and not thinking clearly during the period in question.

It was a small comfort but comfort nonetheless. As she came back to herself, she realized that Andy still hadn’t returned. She knew that she and Andy needed to talk, so she went in search of her young.

“Your young what,” her mind prodded.

They weren’t lovers and yet there was still an air of inevitability that surrounded them.

“What was she to Andy and what was Andy to her?” she wondered as she stepped into the kitchen.

She stopped in her tracks when she heard Andy and Sam talking.

“I really appreciate everything you’ve done for Miranda,” Andy said.

“I knew it was important to you,” Sam replied.

The two were quiet for a moment until Sam spoke, “I’m happy for you. For the both of you.”

“I don’t know if there is anything to congratulate,” Andy responded.

Miranda felt her gut tighten at Andy’s words. She turned intending to flee but was stopped by Andy’s next words.

“There is so much going on with her right now. I have to put my feeling aside and concentrate on just being a friend.”

“Bullshit.

“You’ve been waiting your whole life for her. You know it, and I know it, and I’ll be damned if I let you waste your chance at happiness over hand ringing,” Sam said with force.

Miranda was shocked not just by Sam’s words but by a tone that brooked no argument.

“Look I get it, you’re scared. Plunging in with both feet can be scary, but you and I know that it is worth it.”

“I jumped in with both feet with you, and I’ve never regretted it,” Sam proclaimed.

“Even when I broke your heart,” Andy said in a quiet voice.

Sam reached out her hand and gently stroked Andy’s cheek, “You did what you knew was best for both of us.

I won’t say it didn’t hurt like hell at the time, but here we are.

I love you Andy and nothing could ever change that.”

Miranda backed out of the room as the two women exchanged a tearful hug. As she walked up to Andy’s bedroom, her mind went over all that she’d just learned. She’d been right and wrong at the same time. Yes, Andy and Sam had a past. From the sound of it, they’d been deeply in love, but the relationship was now clearly in the past. Sam had even pushed Andy to see the truth about them, and Miranda felt quite warm towards the girl for it.

As she entered the bedroom, she recalled all of the new clothing still laid out on the bed. She grabbed several of the items and took them into Andy’s walk-in closet. The space was not as large as the closet in her former home, but it was plenty large enough for the both of them. She looked around the space realizing it was true. Andy had had already cleared out space for her new things.

Now she finally understood. Andy was already committed to a future with her, but she wanted to give her all the time and space she needed to catch up. She rolled those thoughts around her head as she organized her things in Andy’s closet. Andy had already given her the most important thing she could. She gave Miranda hope and the means to fight for the things that mattered to her. And all she asked for in return was nothing. That kind of devotion filled Miranda with sense of wonder and something else. A feeling that was far from unpleasant.

Deciding she no longer needed the formal clothes she was wearing, she picked out a pair of her new silk pajamas. On second thought she put her original choice away and chose a pair of Andy’s well-worn pajamas instead. She had found that she quite enjoyed wearing the other woman’s clothing. She stripped off all of her clothes then took a long look at herself in the mirror. She was still thinner than was healthy but otherwise, she liked what she saw.

“Well I could use a trim,” she thought staring at the triangle of hair at the junction of her thighs.

She ran a hand through that hair feeling a resurgence of her earlier arousal. That familiar warm feeling dulled a dulled a little as she remembered the conversation she needed to have with Andy. By the time she’d dressed and returned to the bedroom, she found Andy waiting in her chair.

“Are you doing ok?” Andy asked.

Miranda nodded her head before sitting on the ottoman facing the younger woman.

“If there is going to be an us, there are some things that you need to know,” Miranda began.

Andy tried to stop her, but Miranda held up a hand and continued,” For a time I did not care what happened to me.

I was in a great deal of pain, and I did things to dull that pain.

Degrading things, things that I dearly regret.”

Now my enemies may have video evidence of those things.

I am no longer capable of being embarrassed, but the things that I’ve done can come back to hurt my children and you.

I hate the thought that the people I care for the most might suffer because of my mistakes.”

As Miranda told Andy all of it, she had to admit that it all sounded far worse saying it out loud.

How could this woman want her now, now that she knew the truth? Miranda turned her head away from the beautiful woman but found her progress stopped by Andy’s soft hand against her cheek.

“I listened to what you had to say now I want you to listen to me. I won’t say that what you told me didn’t hurt.”

Miranda’s heart sank with those words.

“I hate that you were ever in that kind of pain.

I hate that these selfish men caused you that pain, but I will not let them win Miranda.

I will not allow what they did to you come between us.

I will not live in fear of what they could do to you, to us.

Tonight we will need our rest because tomorrow we start hitting back.”

Miranda was astonished by Andy’s words and damnit it felt good to feel like she had someone in her corner again. She also knew that unlike before she would not push away those who wanted to help. It had been a mistake to ignore all the offers of help and support she’d been offered after her firing and subsequent blacklisting. By the time she realized her mistake to much time had passed. Now, with all she’d gone through her pride as no longer an issue.

Miranda felt herself pulled into a warm hug as the other woman did her best to provide comfort. A feeling of warmth and peace dropped over her as Andy pulled her closer. Miranda soon became keenly aware of a pleasant sensation as her unrestrained breasts pressed firmly against Andy’s more voluptuous chest. She took a moment to just enjoy the feeling before the younger woman finally released her. Their faces were still close, so they only needed to lean forward a few inches for their lips to meet. The kiss was so soft and so sweet all Miranda could do was to let out a sigh of pure contentment.

When the kiss finally ended the two women looked at each other with faces showing a mixture of delight, wonder, and joy. The next kiss came naturally as Andy took the lead. Miranda felt Andy’s hand run through her short silvery locks as she was drawn even closer. Andy ran her nails over Miranda’s scalp causing the older woman to moan in pure lust. Finally, Andy broke the kiss and Miranda had to force herself not to pounce on the younger woman.

Seeing Miranda’s desire Andy spoke quietly, “Miranda, I am a patient woman, and I am willing to wait until you’re completely ready.”

Miranda appreciated the other woman’s words and new them to be entirely genuine, and yet the desire to give herself to the other woman was so strong.

Andy smiled at Miranda making it clear that she was feeling the same way. Instead of giving in to their shared desire Andy patted the chair next to her inviting Miranda to sit close to her.

Miranda took the seat and felt comforted by Andy’s closeness. She pulled her legs up underneath her and moved her head onto Andy’s shoulder. She felt at peace as Andy’s arm draped across her shoulder. Miranda let out a little sigh of contentment feeling like she was exactly where she belonged.

Later that evening both women had finished dinner when Andy offered Miranda first access to the en-suite so she could prepare for bed. When she was done, she climbed into the bed and waited for Andy to take her turn. The younger woman came out dressed in similar silk pajamas.

“She looked good,” Miranda though giving the woman a full once over.

Miranda became distracted as her eyes fell upon the gentle sway of Andy’s now unfettered breasts. Never in her life had she found another woman’s breasts so captivating.

“Like a moth to a flame,” she thought remembering the old saying.
Andy’s soft laugh pulled Miranda away from her careful study of the other woman’s body. Whatever Andy saw in Miranda’s eyes caused the younger woman’s laughter to dry up in an instant.

When Andy reached for her folded blanket, Miranda intercepted it then looking up into lovely brown eyes.

“Will you join me in our bed tonight?”

Andy looked unsure, but Miranda would not hear of it.

“I would really like it if you were close to me tonight,” the older woman said just above a whisper.

The smoldering look on Andy’s face made it clear that Miranda was testing the younger woman’s self-control. Andy nodded her head before slipping into the bed. The two women spent a long awkward moment just looking at each other before Miranda spoke, “we should get some rest if we are to go on the offensive tomorrow.”

Andy nodded her head, and they both lied back on to the soft sheets. Miranda rolled onto her side but did not feel Andy follow her. Finally, after several minutes of silent contemplation, Miranda sat up in bed. Andy sat up too and just stared into Miranda’s captivating blue eyes.

“I won’t break if you touch me,” Miranda said.

“I, I don’t want to take advantage of you.”

“You won’t but for now just touch me ok,” Miranda said before she reached down and undid the top two buttons on her top.

Andy’s eyes were instantly fixed on the newly exposed flesh. Miranda took Andy’s hand and maneuvered it into her top placing it gently onto her left breast. She felt the younger stiffen for a moment before she relaxed into the intimate contact. Miranda’s heart rate sped up as Andy began to reverently caress the soft skin under her palm. This time when Miranda lay back down Andy followed moving close behind her. As they got situated, Miranda smiled as Andy’s hand managed to find its way back inside of her top. Her last thought was of how right it felt to have Andy’s hands on her body then she was consumed by sleep.

Later in the night when Miranda woke she found herself now laying on top of Andy’s chest. She felt warm and protected in a way that she’d never felt in her whole life. She snuggled close tucking her head under Andy’s chin. The other woman sighed as she wrapped her arms around Miranda pulling her even closer. As she closed her eyes again thoughts of the younger woman doing more than just holding her flooded her mind.

When Andy opened her eyes, it was clear that things had changed since she’d fallen asleep. For starters, the older woman now lay firmly against her chest which was fine with her. What she could not figure out was how they’d both ended up topless, a circumstance that she had even less reason to complain about. Her night had been filled with dreams of the silver-haired beauty laying on top of her. In her dream, they’d been doing something far more intimate than just snuggling. She felt goose flesh break out over her shoulders and chest as her mind began to register the sensation of being chest to chest with the alluring woman. Her heart began to hammer as her body reacted on its own accord. Her nipples tightened then peaked, and she wanted to squirm as she felt slick between her legs. Andy felt the familiar ache, but given Miranda’s position across her chest, there was simply nothing she could do about it. Instead, she closed her eyes and tried not to think about making love to the woman who was so tantalizingly close. She failed miserably.

Miranda opened her eyes feeling refreshed. The last few days had been a revelation. She knew that part of it was being away from that dreadful box, but deep down she knew that even before her downfall that she’d never slept this peacefully. Not that last night had been entirely peaceful. She’d woken several times in the night and had at some point taken off her top. She blushed as she remembered slowly unbuttoning Andy’s top feeling a desperate need to feel the other woman’s skin against her own. It would have seemed like a violation if she wasn’t keenly aware of the other woman’s desires. She looked around finally realizing that the younger woman was no longer in bed with her. Andy’s spot was still warm so she must have just gotten out of bed. She looked around expecting to find the woman had fled to her trusty chair. She found the chair empty but solved the mystery when she heard the shower running in the other room.

She initially thought to give the woman her privacy but the longer she lay there, the more she thought about how the shower was more than large enough to share. She stood before stripping down to nothing. She walked over to the bathroom door and slowly pushed it open. Her eyes fell towards the shower then froze at the sight before her.

This time when Andy opened her eyes, she felt Mirada snuggle closer if that was even possible. She wouldn’t have guessed that Miranda Priestly would be a snuggler, but given the opportunity, the older woman seemed to have no problem taking full advantage. Now she remembered the other woman helping her out of her top in the middle of the night. Remembered how Miranda had looked at her, looked at her breasts. The heat between her legs returned, and this time she knew that she would need to do something about it. Waking Miranda was an option, but she had meant what she said about being patient. She rolled the other woman on her side allowing her to grasp her pillow instead. She stood for a moment looking down at Miranda’s nude back, short grey hair and smooth pale skin. She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on one shoulder blade before she fled the room. She stepped into the en-suite and started the shower. She ditched her bottoms and looked at herself in the mirror. It was hard to miss the signs of her arousal. Her skin was flush, her nipples erect, and she could clearly see the glistening of her own wetness.

“I want her,” the younger woman said aloud.

“You love her,” her mind corrected.

She stepped into the shower closing her eyes as the warm water flowed over her body. A moment later she cupped her own breast imagining it was Miranda’s hands caressing her. She squeezed a nipple anticipating how Miranda would touch her. Just thinking about being touched by the older woman left her breathless and close to the edge. She ran a hand over her sex and let out a low groan. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore. She’d have to be quick, but her need could not wait any longer.

 

Miranda stood perfectly still as she found herself watching Andy in what was clearly an intimate moment. Her mind told her body to move, to back out of the room but it was useless. Her eyes raked in the sight of the curvy brunette standing with the detached shower head between her beautiful thighs. The pleasure written all over her lovely face took Miranda’s breath away. She’d never seen anything so beautiful in her life, and she never wanted someone like she wanted Andy right now. It astonished Miranda how much the sight aroused her. Her whole body vibrated with desire. She needed Andy’s hands on her body.

Instead of moving backward Miranda found herself inching forward until she was just on the outside of the glass-enclosed shower when it happened.

“Oh, Miranda,” Andy moaned as her self induced orgasm thrummed through her body.

That was it for Miranda, hearing her name spoken with the perfect combination of reverence and lust was simply too much. Before she could stop herself, her hand was on the shower door. She opened it then without hesitation stepped in. Time seemed to slow as Andy opened her eyes. The look on her face wared between shock and embarrassment until her eyes took in Miranda’s nude form. Miranda placed her hand on the back of the taller woman’s neck pulling them into a slow sensual kiss. In that kiss, Miranda felt all of her reservations fade away. Her body wanted this, and her mind and heart had finally caught up. She stepped in closer so that not even the steaming water could come between them. She opened her mouth giving Andy’s eager tongue full access. She gave herself over to the younger woman yielding in a way that she’d never done before.

“I could give this woman full control, and she would never hurt me,” Miranda thought.

“Unless you ask her too,” another part of her mind chimed in gleefully.

The kiss grew more intense as Andy seized the control that Miranda had so willingly given. In a smooth motion, Miranda was turned around and pulled back flush against Andy’s chest.

“You have no idea what you do to me,” Andy whispered into her ear before she attached her mouth to the long column of the older woman’s neck.

“That’s it,” Miranda moaned, “Mark me. Make me yours.”

Andy took direction well locking her mouth onto Miranda’s neck. Miranda’s back arched as she felt Andy’s teeth graze the delicate skin beneath. And just like that, the younger woman-owned Miranda, mind body and soul.

AN: I warned you that things are heating up. This was a natural stopping point, but we will definitely pick things up here in the next chapter. This is good news for Miranda but don’t expect some magical return to her former self. For better or worse this experience has changed her, and it will take some time for her to figure out who she is now. The good news is that she will have Andy in her corner through it all. Be on the lookout for a familiar DWP face in the next chapter, but like everything in this story, there is a twist. Let me know what you think.

On a personal note, I have to thank you all for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I want you to know how much your words meant to me. Thank you.

Chapter Text

10.

Andy's body was on fire as thoughts of Miranda danced through her head. She knew she needed to be quick so she reached for the detachable shower head already knowing it would take little effort to get herself off. She closed her eyes imagining that Miranda was there with her, that it was Miranda's hands that were about to make her come apart. She changed a setting causing the water to begin to pulsate then she moved the attachment into position. A sigh of pure pleasure escaped her lips as the water began to push against her swollen sex. As the stream alternated between gentle and strong pulses, she used her other hand to stroke her own breast.

In her mind, she could almost feel Miranda's hands on her skin. Her lips on her neck.

"Oh, Miranda," escaped from her lips like a prayer as her orgasm peaked.

As her eyes fluttered open, they fell upon the object of her desire. She could not move as the other woman's gaze devoured her. Andy’s mind reeled as she felt the first tendrils of embarrassment take hold. She was pulled from those thoughts when she noticed the other woman's hand as it reached for and grasped the handle of the shower door. Miranda paused at the door, giving Andy a full view of her nude body.

"So beautiful," Andy whispered.

The look on Miranda's face was so intense it sent a shiver up the younger woman's spine reigniting her arousal.

Their lips met in a steamy kiss. There was a brief fight for control until Miranda relented. Miranda's surrender redoubled Andy's passion for the older woman. She also felt honored that Miranda was willing to submit to her, and she promised herself that she would never do anything unworthy of that trust.

Andy's whole body shook with excitement and a renewed all-consuming desire. She allowed that desire to swallow them both as she turned Miranda around and fastened her lips to the other woman's porcelain skin.

"You have no idea what you do to me," Andy said.

"That's it," Miranda moaned, "Mark me. Make me yours."

Andy bit down, and she felt the other woman arch back into her.

A moan escaped Miranda's lips. It had never been like this for her. In her entire life, she'd never willingly surrendered to another person. She'd given herself to her husbands but resented them for expecting it. With Andy, she actually wanted the other woman in charge. It was such a revelation, but just the idea of it made her wetter than she'd ever been. Andy's hand snaked around her middle, and she felt her muscles quiver under the firm pressure.

"I, I need you," Miranda said in a shaky voice.

"I know exactly what you need, baby," Andy whispered in her ear.

Miranda held her breath as the other woman's hand moved achingly slow down her stomach when her hand reached the silver thatch of hair in lingered. Miranda groaned as Andy ran a nail over her pubic mound.

"What are you doing to me?" Miranda wondered aloud.

The chuckle that came to Andy's lips sent a thrill through Miranda’s whole body. She ached for Andy but knew that the younger woman would be setting the pace.

When Andy ran her nails ran through her hair again, the ache between her legs became acute.

She groaned as Andy's hand dipped lower, giving her swollen clit one long swipe.

Miranda's hips bucked desperately seeking more prolonged contact.

"Not yet baby," Andy purred.

"I can't wait any longer," Miranda pleaded.

"You can, and you will, Miranda."

The way Andy said her name only added to the older woman's desire, but she also felt compelled to obey the commanding tone in her younger lover's voice.

She could feel her control slipping away, as Andy's teeth sank into an ear.

"Tell me, Tell me what you want, baby.

I'll give you the world. All you have to do is ask," Andy whispered into the same ear.

"You," Miranda said.

"What I want is you."

With those words, Andy's hand returned to Miranda's soaking wet sex. Three fast circles around Miranda's clit, made her cry out in shock and delight. She was so close now, but her lover kept her on the razor's edge between agony and ecstasy. Two more circles fell closer to the mark, leaving Miranda breathless.

"Oh, my god," Miranda cried.

"I need you more than air," Andy breathed.

One last circle of her clit and Miranda's body tensed. Pleasure radiated throughout her entire body as the pleasure from her orgasm felt like it would never end.

"I, I, I'm on fire," she finally managed.

Miranda began to slump, but strong arms held her firmly in place as the last shivers of her orgasm waned.

"Are you ok? Love," Andy asked in a much gentler tone.

Miranda surprised them both when a throaty laugh escaped her lips. She could not help it; she had never experienced this kind of post-coital bliss before.

"Seven times, you touched me seven times, and I came harder than I have in my entire life."

Andy's laughter was free and open and full of the same sense of wonder and joy.

As they stepped out of the shower, Andy took pains to show Miranda how much she treasured her woman. She wrapped Miranda in a soft towel then used her Dyson to blow dry Miranda's hair. Miranda looked away from her lover to focus on her own face in the mirror. She was surprised to see a different woman looking back at her. Gone was the sad and lost persona that she associated with Miriam, and yet the woman staring back at her did not feel like the old Miranda either.

This woman was someone new. To not recognize one’s self at her age could undoubtedly be fear-inducing, but she was calmed by the one fact she knew about this woman. She loved Andy, and that was enough for now.

Andy took Miranda's hand and led them to their bedroom. She enjoyed giving her woman pleasure, and it pleased her how well Miranda responded to her touch. Andy removed both of their towels before laying Miranda down on the bed. She watched as Miranda spread her legs allowing Andy to move between them. She pushed her hips flush to the other woman's then adjusted herself until she felt the familiar shock as her clit made contact with her lover's. They both let out a low moan as they stared into each other's eyes.

"I now have a new favorite color," Andy said, referring to the shade of her love's eyes.

"Do you," Miranda said, feeling downright playful.

She reached up and pinched a nipple causing Andy to shiver in delight.

They stayed that way until Miranda couldn't wait any longer, "make love to me," she pleaded.

Andy's responding grin was so devilish it made Miranda's inside's quiver.

Andy shifted her body slightly to give herself better access to Miranda's sex.

"Oh," Miranda sighed as two long fingers teased her opening.

"Baby, you're so wet," Andy breathed.

Miranda nodded her head thinking that she had not been this wet in years maybe decades.

Miranda's heart sped up as Andy continued to tease her outer lips.

Their eyes locked as the anticipation built and built.

"You are so soft," Andy breathed out as two fingers slipped into her lover.

Miranda felt herself penetrated by Andy's fingers her progress achingly slow.

It was a new experience for Miranda. She was used to the sensation of an invading cock trying to claim her. Instead, Andy's fingers pushed in with a level of self-control none of her previous lovers could have managed. Her body responded instantly as Andy's fingers began to move in ways no penis ever could.

"Do that again," Miranda moaned as Andy's fingers passed over a particularly sensitive spot.

Andy obliged causing Miranda's back to arch, pushing Andy's fingers even deeper in the process.

"Oh, Fuck," Miranda cried out as Andy's fingers thrust deeper still. For some reason, she had expected a woman to be too soft for her tastes, but Andy was dispelling any such notions. She wrapped her arms around strong shoulders as the younger woman took complete control of her.

She felt a warm sensation build in her core as Andy's talented fingers found her G-spot with each thrust.

"Come for me baby," Andy commanded with one last massive thrust.

"Oh fuck, fuck fuck," Miranda screamed as she clamped down on the fingers inside of her.

Instead of stopping, Andy kept thrusting, causing Miranda's whole body to shake. Within seconds Miranda felt her body tighten once again as she came a second time. Miranda's body was still shaking as Andy rolled onto her back, pulling the other woman with her. She lay her head on Andy's chest as the younger woman wrapped her arms around her.

"It's never been like that for me," Miranda whispered just as her eyes fluttered closed.

Andy kissed the top of her lover's head before she said, "It's never been like that for me either."

Sometime later Miranda opened her eyes, finding herself still in Andy's warm embrace. Neither of the women she'd been in her life enjoyed this type of closeness after sex, and yet this new version of herself had no desire to move. She kept her head on Andy's chest, enjoying the sound of the woman’s heart as it pulsed beneath her.

"I must have dozed off right after you did," Andy commented.

"I had three amazing orgasms, what's your excuse," Miranda replied, pulling a chuckle from her lover.

"Well, I had two, not that we were counting,"

"I know you had one in the shower, but when was the other?" Miranda questioned.

"Maybe you walked in on my second orgasm," Andy hinted.

"Was it?"

"No, I came when I was making you come the second time."

Miranda looked up at her but saw no hint of a lie.

"You had an orgasm just from giving me pleasure?"

"I wanted you to come again so desperately that when you did so did I," Andy admitted.

Miranda leaned forward and kissed the other woman's lips no longer able to resist. Andy was the first to deepen the kiss pushing her tongue past Miranda's willing lips. She rolled Miranda over, covering her body in the process. Miranda broke the kiss her mind singularly focused on Andy's swaying breasts. She leaned forward, taking a tan nipple into her mouth. She rolled her tongue around it and was pleased to feel it harden in her mouth. Andy threw her head back, looking like a greek goddess in the process.

A moan escaped Andy's lips as Miranda grazed her hardened peak with her teeth. She finally let go allowing her lover to sit up straddling Miranda's hips in the process. The younger woman allowed Miranda's hand to roam freely over the whole of her body. Miranda took full advantage as she eagerly explored the body poised above her.

Miranda knew that Andy was ready when the younger woman began grinding her pelvis into her stomach. She reached out a hand and ran her fingers through Andy's well-trimmed triangle. The feel of the curled hairs against her fingers combined with the look in Andy's eyes caused the older woman's clit to throb. She pushed down her own desires for now choosing to focus her attention on satisfying her young lover's desperate need.

"turnabout is fair play,” Miranda thought just before she gave the brunette beauty's clit two fast strokes.

"Oh, God Miranda," the younger woman moaned.

The smile on Miranda's face would have sent all of her former assistants scrambling for cover. To her credit, Andy shivered in response to that look but managed a small smile of her own.

Her smile grew even more wicked as her hand moved into position unseen by the distracted brunette. Without warning, Miranda slipped three fingers inside Andy's dripping pussy.

"Oh fuuuck," Andy breathed out.

The sensation around Miranda's fingers felt amazing. Andy's body was warm and wet and velvety soft. At the same time, her muscles were strong as they squeezed her invading fingers.

Andy moved her body up a little giving Miranda easier access. Miranda watched as her fingers disappeared inside the younger woman over and over again. She had to admit that fucking Andy filled her with a confidence she'd lacked in recent years. Having this woman ride her fingers, giving her this kind of pleasure, it was so addicting. Now she understood how Andy could come just from touching her. All of her thoughts left her as cool blue eyes were captured by blazing brown eyes. At that moment, Miranda knew she'd never seen anything so beautiful in her entire life.

"Miranda," Andy cried out cumming hard.

They stayed in place, staring at each other as a look of amazement crossed both of their faces. Miranda knew that something extraordinary had just occurred between them. The passion she'd felt in the past few hours eclipsed every single encounter in her sexual history. She briefly wondered if this meant she had been gay all her life and had just now realized it. In the end, she decided it didn't matter. She had Andy, and that was all that really mattered.

 

Hours later, Andy answered the door to find Sam uncharacteristically standing on her doorstep. Andy stepped aside, allowing her friend and former lover access to her home.

"Why didn't you let yourself in?" Andy wanted to know.

"It's no longer my place," Sam offered in response.

Andy thought about that for a long moment before she nodded her head.

She didn't know how Sam knew that things had changed between her and Miranda, but her new shy demeanor made it clear that she knew.

Andy also chastised herself for not realizing what Sam had already concluded. This was not just her home anymore. She really needed to be more considerate of the woman that she was falling, had fallen in love with.

Andy nodded her head and thanked her friend for being so considerate of Miranda's feelings. She felt certain that in time, Miranda would feel just as comfortable around Sam as Andy did, but before she could convey that thought, the bell rang again.

She opened the door finding the last member of the group. She invited Lily in then escorts both women into her study where Miranda was waiting for them. It pleased Andy when Miranda seamlessly took on the role of hostess asking their guests what they wanted to drink. Andy just shook her head when Sam requested something far stronger than wine.

"The Laphroaig would be grand," Sam said.

"A woman after my own heart," Miranda said, pouring one for herself as well.

"I'll take one of those too," Lily said.

"Make it four," Andy said as she felt an unease settle in her gut. She thought Lily was hoping for a little liquid courage to help get through the conversation they were about to have.

They all took the same seats from the previous day. Each woman sipped the fine single malt whiskey from crystal tumblers before attention towards Lily. Except for Andy, who continued to look at Miranda. She could feel her heart break at seeing the glimmer of hope that the older woman couldn't hide.

"I have read all the files, and I believe it's clear that something untoward occurred during the first hearing. If that was all that, mattered, we would be home free."

Andy could feel Miranda's hand tighten in hers.

"But," Andy asked when Miranda didn't or couldn't.

Lily took another sip from her glass before she addressed Miranda, "I take it from yesterday's conversation that you've done things over the past few years that would be unflattering if they came out in court?"

Andy hates that the question has to be asked, hates even more how Miranda's grip tightens even further.

"I drank, did drugs, had sex with people I shouldn't have, did things with them that were degrading."

Andy can't help but feel a sense of pride in Miranda's ability to speak so unflinchingly about her mistakes.

"And it's likely that video evidence exists of those things," Miranda added.

Andy squeezed Miranda's hand, trying to convey that her feelings won't change. That there is nothing, she could say that could change her feelings in any way.

She gets a grateful look from Miranda as the other woman seemed to relax a little.

"If those things come out in the new hearing, It will be difficult to convince any judge that you are the best option for your daughters," Lily said putting the worse case on the table.

"And what about my former husband, what of his sins," Miranda said.

Though her voice is calm, Andy could feel the rage coming off Miranda in waves.

Before things go too far off the rails, Sam asked a question that turned the conversation in a completely different direction.

"How many people know that Miranda Priestly was born Miriam Princhek?"

Miranda looked thoughtful for a moment before she responded, "I never told either of my husband's, my parents are gone, I have no siblings. So, outside of this room, only one other person can make that connection."

"Do you trust us, and do you trust this other person?" Sam asked.

Miranda looked at each of the other women before she responded, "Yes, I do."

"In that case, what I would say is that Miriam did all of the things you described. We just need to separate Miranda from Miriam."

"But she's Miriam," Lily tried to point out.

"Catch up here Lil's, she's Miranda, and no one can prove otherwise,"

"And the video evidence," Lilly responded heatedly.

Andy rolled her eyes at this old argument. It had always been like this between them. Lily was the worrier of the group, and Sam could care less about Lily's worries.

"Ladies," Miranda interrupted, causing both women to stop in their tracks.

"Sam, please explain what you have in mind."

Sam stuck her tongue out at Lily, causing the attorney to laugh aloud, easing the tension in the room by a degree or two.

"What I mean is that, If only people you trust know that Miranda is also Miriam, then you can't be held responsible for any of her sins."

They were all quiet for a moment until Lily opened her mouth to speak, but Sam beat her to it, "before you ask, I'll take care of the video."

"How," Lily said before she could stop herself.

The grin on Sam's face made it clear that Lily didn't want to know.

"Ok, assuming we can pull all this off, we still have another problem," Lily began.

"What have I been doing the past few years," Miranda said, having already seen this hole in Sam's scheme.

Andy had some thoughts on the subject, but she wasn't quite sure how Miranda would feel about it.

Before Sam or anyone else could answer, they all heard the chime from the front door.

Sam looked at both Andy and Miranda and could tell that neither of them was expecting more guests.

"I got it," she said, standing and moving towards the front door.

They all stayed quiet as they waited for Sam to return. Instead, they heard the sound of a new voice.

"Get your bloody hands off of me."

"Emily," Andy heard Miranda whisper before she stood and followed the sound of the British woman's voice.

Andy moved as well using her long legs to quickly overtake Miranda's shorter strides. What she saw was Sam restraining a rather attractive redhead.

"Emily," Miranda said in a louder voice this time.

"I take it; you know her?" Sam asked, turning her attention slightly away from the newcomer.

"Yes, you can let her go," Miranda said.

When Sam did, Emily walked over to Miranda and threw her arms around the smaller woman's shoulders. Tears flowed freely from each woman, and Andy felt her sense of unease return. She didn’t know what to think about this apparent reunion, but the look of love that appeared on Miranda's face increased Andy's discomfort tenfold.

She suddenly felt like an intruder in her own home. She signaled to the other two women that they should give Miranda and her guest a moment of privacy. When she turned to retreat from the room, she was stopped by Miranda's hand on her forearm.

"Andy, please allow me to introduce you to Emily Charlton, my eldest daughter."

 

AN: Well, that was unexpected. I had always planned to introduce Emily to this story; then I had the idea of creating a stronger bond between her and Miranda. I also initially envisioned Emily and Sam as an eventual couple, which could have made Sam shoving Emil up against the wall quite hot. Ala, I decided to include Mia in this story instead. I have another story idea that does feature Sam and Emily as a couple, but it will probably be a while before I have the time to explore that one. Never fear Emily fans she will not be lonely forever, just don't expect her love interest to be Serena.

The next chapter will give us the backstory for Miranda and Emily's relationship as well as solving the, "where has Miranda Priestly been these past few years problem."

As for Andy and Miranda, I like the idea of Miranda submitting to Andy in bed. Actually, I think the two of them in bed in any circumstance is hot as hell, but this time, I wanted to explore a relationship dynamic when Andy is the more dominant partner.

Sorry about the delay with this update. Life has gotten hectic of late, and unfortunately, that may continue for a while. That being said, I will do my best to post as often as I can. This story remains my top writing priority.

Let me know what you think.

Chapter Text

11

Emily Charleton stood on the sidewalk in front of a pardon her french, shithole apartment. She was reliably informed that the woman she was looking for was in there somewhere. Well, to be honest, all she really knew through a friend at the phone company was that Miranda's phone had been in this building fairly recently.

“For fuck sake just do it already,” Emily thought to herself.

She finally got her legs in motion moving now with her usual confident stride. She strolled into office that belonged to the buildings supper and was taken aback by the appearance of the man sitting behind the desk. He was not an attractive man, to begin with, but, the massive bruise on the left side of his fae he could be Quasimoto's long lost son.

“You look like shit,” She said in her now standard all-America accent.

“Fell down the stairs,” he responded in a less than convincing tone.

“You looking for a place? I’ll cut you a deal on the rent.”

She chose to ignore the question and the roaving eyes that followed. She also thought she solved the mystery of how what happened to his face.

She chose to ignore whatever the hell was going on with this guy and focus on the reason why she came.

“I’m looking for a woman who may live here. Her name is Miriam.”

The man’s demeanor soured if that was even possible as he replied, “All of a sudden everybody is looking for good old Miriam.”

Emily scoffed at the notion of anyone ever referring to Miranda using such a common term, yet she felt no need to correct him. She also knew that Miranda had wanted anonymity when she chose to revert back to the name she’d been born with.

“Well if you want to know what I know, it’ll cost you.”

Emily smirked at the man. She was done fucking around with this poor excuse of a human being.

“Now, you listen closely. I have been looking all over the place for good old Miriam, and you’re going to tell me what you know, or I’m going to call a friend at the Mayor’s office, and he’ll pull the occupancy permit for this fleabag ten minutes after I walk out that door.”

The man attempted a glare that fell flat before he responded, “You’re bluffing.”

Emily rolled her eyes and wondered,” why do some men always have to do things the hard way.” She reached into her purse, pulled out her iPhone, then selected a number from her contacts. She connected the call making sure to place the call on speaker.

“Hey Josh, It’s Emily.”

“Hey Emily, It’s a little soon for us to start talking about the re-election campaign. So what’s up?”

Emily smiled into the phone then said, “Josh, it’s never too soon to start thinking about re-election. Anyway, I just wanted to put a bug in Mayor’s ear about establishing an enterprise zone to rehabilitate those awful apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen. I think the Mayor could make it a real focus of his next campaign.”

“I love it, and She’ll love it too,” Josh said enthusiastically.

“Great, let’s get together for lunch, and we can work out the specifics,” Emily said while staring directly at the pitiful man.

She made solid plans for lunch next week with the Mayor’s policy director before ending the call.

“So do I tell Josh to bury this place next week or not?” Emily asked.

“Ok, Ok. I’ll tell you what I know, but you’re not going to like it.

“I evicted her two days ago and haven’t seen her since.”

“Evicted,” Emily repeated in a voice that sounded a bit shaky.

“Yeah, she couldn’t make rent, so I really had no choice,” he defended lamely.

The little man’s words felt like a punch to the gut. Was she too late?

She turned to leave but was stopped by the now desperate man.

“Wait, there’s something else.”

“A woman also came asking about Miriam, but she called her something else at first like Mandy or Martha. Something like that.”

Emily asked the first question that came to mind, “And what did this woman want?”

“She wanted the stuff that I took out of Miriam’s apartment.”

“She left without her possessions?” Emily said to herself.

“This is not good,” she thought.

”Describe this girl.”

“She’s maybe your height but without the heels. Light brown skin. Not exactly Hispanic so maybe just a mutt. She was a real looker, but she dressed like a dyke.”

Emily narrowed her eyes at the man as she decided she get convince Josh to there place the fucking ground.

She had all the information she was going to get from him, so she turned on her heel and left without another word. Her concern for Miranda’s welfare had only increased after this encounter. She’d been evicted, left her things in the apartment, and did not call her or the twins.

The only fact that did not fit the worst-case scenario that was playing out in her head was the mystery woman who came for Miranda’s things. That one fact at least gave her a sliver of hope that Miranda was alright. She decided to hold on to that sliver until she had definitive proof one way or the other.

As she hit the street, she looked around for a place she could sit and figure out what to do next. Her destination was set when she spotted a charming little coffee shop halfway down the block. When she walked into the Cozy Cafe she was greeted by an equally charming older couple behind the counter.

“What’ll you have love?” a pretty older brunette asked. Emily felt a little of the tension she’d been feeling bleed away upon hearing the voice of a fellow Brit.

“The only real cure for one of her majesty’s subjects,” Emily replied in her native tongue.

The woman winked before she said, “One cuppa tea coming up.”

Emily chose a table out of the way before she gratefully took a seat. She loved these heels, but they did nothing good to her poor feet.

A moment later she looked up as her fellow British subject placed a steaming cup a tea on the table followed by a silver tin of cream and an assortment of sweeteners.

“I made you a special brew because honestly, you look like you could use it.”

Emily poured her cream, added a pack of stevia, and stirred. She took a sip and had to admit it was the best cuppa tea she’d had this side of the pond.

“Oh, this is so good. Thank you.”

“Mind if I join you for a bit,” the woman asked.

“Please,” Emily said suddenly happy to have a bit of company.

“So tell me what’s troubling you, dearie.”

Emily looked up into a pair of brown eyes and felt compelled to respond to the kindness she saw there.

“I’ve been trying to find my mother, but I’ve just been told that she was evicted from the building down the street a few days ago and I’m back to square one.”

“Oh, dear,” she responded with such a look of care and concern that Emily almost broke down then and there.

The woman patted Emily’s hand then said, “Why don’t you tell me all about it.”

“Why the hell not,” Emily thought to herself.

“I grew up not too far from Kings Cross. My family wasn’t rich, but I grew up with all the things I wanted. Was shipped off to boarding school at Queen Anne’s.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad. I met my wife at boarding school,” the shop owner said.

“Let her finish love,” a handsome redhead woman said before putting a cuppa tea in front of her spouse.

The brunette apologized for interrupting then introduced herself and her spouse.

“By the way, I’m Hermione, and this is my wife, Ginny.”

Emily introduced herself then looked around the cafe realizing the place was now empty save the three of them.

“Ginny, why don’t you pull up a chair and join us,” Emily said, already liking the cute older couple.

“There was nothing wrong with the way I grew up. I just never felt particularly close to my parents. Just after I graduated from secondary school, my parents sat me down and told me that I was adopted.

That made perfect sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were kind people just not particularly loving. They were an older couple, and they both passed away while I was at university.”

Hermione reached out and gently touched Emily’s hand again but, took her wife’s advice and let Emily continue without interrupting.

“With the money, my parents left me and freshly degreed from Victoria University; I moved to New York. Then I met the woman who changed my life.”

“You have this great flare for the dramatic,” Ginny pointed out.

Emily blushed a little before she said, “So I’ve been told.”

“Anyway, I studied communications at university with a plan of getting a job at one of the big PR firms. Unfortunately, when I got here New York was going through a recession so none of those firms were hiring. Fortunately, one of the hiring managers really liked me and passed my cv to a friend who worked at one of the big publishing firms.

“I had the weirdest interview ever and somehow I ended up as an assistant at Runway Magazine.”

“Oh, I love Runway,” Hermione said.

“Loved,” the redhead amended.

“Well the magazine has been real rubbish of late,” the brunette added.

Emily nodded her head in fervent agreement but left that discussion for another time.

“My first day I found that I was going to be working for the the legend herself.”

When Ginny gave Hermione a confused look, she mouthed the Devil in Prada.

“Oh, Bollock,” Ginny said, causing the other two women to laugh.

“I can’t help but agree, and she certainly lived up to that reputation,” Emily said.

“At first anyways,” she amended.

The married couple looked at her oddly.

“It turned out that she valued loyalty. When I discovered a plot to oust her from her position, she showed her appreciation by becoming my mentor and eventually, my friend. I even started hanging out with her devil’s spawn twin daughters.”

Ginny gave Hermione a smirk as they both thought about there own redheaded twins.

“That sounds frightening,” Hermione said, thinking about the mischief that Fredrica and Georgina were once capable of.

“They actually weren’t that bad,” Emily said with a smile.

“After they realized that I wasn’t a pushover, I think I gained their respect.”

“It helps if you bloody a nose every once in a while,” Ginny said while giving Emily a knowing look.

“Verbally of course,” Hermione added with a frown causing both redheads to laugh.

“Of course,” Ginny finally agreed before placing a gentle kiss on her wife’s cheek.

Emily looked at the older couple and felt thoroughly charmed by them both.

“Well, I grew quite close to the little monsters which led to all that came next.”

“No good deed goes unpunished,” Hermione speculated.

Emily nodded her head before she said, “you have no idea.”

“The girls were working on a school project about how DNA drove the spread of certain traits. Apparently, redheads only make up 2% of the world’s population so the girls wanted to know if I was willing to have my DNA compared to theirs and their mothers.”

“Interesting,” Hermione said as her analytical mind had already jumped a few steps ahead.

The brunette jumped a little as she felt a pinch to her side. She looked at her spouse to see a look that told her to let the woman finish her story uninterrupted.

Emily, who was thoroughly enjoying the interaction between the older couple, smiled at the memory of what came next.

“As a preamble to asking for my participation, Caroline asked me if the curtains matched the drapes.”

Ginny just managed to swallow her sip of tea before a bark of laughter escaped her mouth.

“Cheeky,” Hermione agreed thinking about some of the things that came out of Georgina's mouth as a teenager.

“After I informed them that I was indeed a natural redhead, they ultimately convinced me to go along. I gave them a cheek swab then thought nothing else about it. Then a few weeks later, Miranda and I received an urgent summons from the girls’ school.

When we arrived, the girls' teacher, the principal, and a man neither of them knew where all waiting for us.

It turned out the man was a scientist from the genetics lab that ran the tests.”

The older couple gave her encouraging smiles as the rest of the story was quite evident.

“I’d always cared for Miranda. Hell, to be honest, I loved her. It just never occurred to me that I was her daughter.

After an awkward half an hour, we all went back to Miranda’s home, and she told the girls and me the whole story.

“She’d met and fallen in love with her father, a young soldier in the British Army. How he was killed in an IRA bombing and how she discovered her pregnancy a few weeks after my father’s.”

Emily accepted a few tissues as she belatedly realized that tears were threatening to spill from her eyes. It wasn’t that she mourned for a father that she never knew. It wasn’t even that she grieved for the life she could have had. There was just something so romantically tragic about the whole story. She dabbed her eyes dry before she told them the predictable end to the story.

“My grandparents weren’t happy about the situation, so they forced Miranda to give me up for adoption.”

“That’s quite the story love,” Hermione said.

“I think maybe your mum, been here a few times but we haven’t seen her for a while,” Ginny added.

Emily nodded, she had somehow had the idea when she walked in the door that this would be Miranda’s kind of place.

Emily finished her tea, then thanked the older couple before promising she would come back and tell them how everything turned out.

“I wish there were more we could do,” Ginny said as she slipped an arm around her wife’s slim waist.

“I know love, but there are things that they have to work out for themselves.”

“Fancy a nooner,” the redhead said, changing the subject rather dramatically.

Ginny gave her wife a rakish smile before running a hand up Hermione’s leg.

“Love you’ve forgotten your knickers again,” Ginny pointed out.

“My memory isn’t what it used to be,” Hermione lamented with a grin.

“Now lock up love, I need you right now.”

“Yes, dear,” the redhead said, then did what she was told.

 

Emily shook off the memories of her conversation with the two shop owners had dredged up. It had provided a needed distraction from her immediate concerns. She looked around the street as she briefly considered walking around Hell’s Kitchen with the hopes of somehow stumbling into Miranda.

“Not in these heels,” she thought as she dismissed the lame idea.

She checked her watch, realizing that her phone company contact was probably at work by now She sent him an update and asked him to ping Miranda’s phone again and text her when he found something. She was now at a dead end, so she hailed a taxi and directed the driver towards lower Manhattan.

She walked into the offices of Logan the public relations firm named after her charismatic and extremely talented boss, Erica Logan.

Erica’s PA Sherrie greeted her in her charming old school Brooklyn accent. She smiled at the pretty blonde but avoided further conversation. She liked the woman, but if cornered she’d feel the need to empty her guts, and after her experience at the Cozy Cafe she didn’t think she was up for another round.

She felt distracted the rest of the day as she kept checking her phone for incoming messages. The whole thing came to a head later in the day when she zoned out in the middle of a client meeting. Only Erica’s quick intervention on her behalf kept the meeting from going fully off the rails.

Once the client left, She was summoned to her boss’s office.

She sat down as Erica spoke in her usual frank manner, “what the fuck was that?”

Emily winced, Erica was no Miranda, but the formidable brunette could be a little frightening when she built up a full head of steam. She decided her best, and only option was to come clean. So she gave her boss a brief and sanitized version of the story she just told her new friends. She decided to leave out any mention of her mother’s identity. She trusted Erica, but for some reason, she didn’t feel like that part of the story was not hers alone to tell. Instead, she focused on her desperate search for her birth mother and her fears that something terrible had happened.

When she’d finished, Erica stood and pulled her into a warm embrace as the formidable woman transitioned from boss to friend. She pulled away from the embrace when tears began to threaten. She leaned into Erica’s soft hand when it stroked her cheek.

She was grateful when Erica fell back on her trademark sense of humor by asking, “Only you would have to find your birth mother twice.”

“Well, it sounds pretty ridiculous when you put it like that,” Emily answered with a watery laugh.

“No, I get it. Family can be complicated,” Erica said, cutting the sarcasm back to a manageable level.

“Look, why don’t you take the rest of the day and maybe tomorrow if you need to,” Erica offered.

She thanked Erica before slipping out of her office. She looked around and was grateful she didn’t see Sherrie. She didn’t want to breakdown in front of the whole office and she currently had no defense against the blonde’s kind nature. Besides, Erica would fill her in the whole story when they were in bed tonight.

She headed straight for her office then picked up her phone only to find that she’d missed a message from her friend at the phone company. She read Kevin’s message twice to make sure she understood it.

“What the hell are you doing in Carnegie Hill,” Emily said to no one in particular.

Geographically that neighborhood was not that far from Hell’s Kitchen, but financially they were worlds apart. Kevin indicated that he would text again as soon as she got a fixed address. She briefly considered taking a trip to the neighborhood in question. She had second thoughts knowing that one did not wander around Carnegie Hill without drawing the wrong kind of attention. She was dressed well enough to blend in The problem was it was the kind of place that an unfamiliar face would stick out like a zebra strolling through the halls at Runway.

She grabbed her laptop, a couple of client files then headed for the door. She shook her head when she passed Erica’s closed door, knowing that Sherrie and Erica were in there fucking each other’s brains out.

When she hit the street, she was pleasantly surprised to see Erica’s car waiting for her with a familiar face standing beside. Finding a job for Roy after she was forced to let him go was one of the few things Miranda was willing to ask and accept her help.

“Erica thought you could use a ride,” Roy said in greeting.

She gave the former Marine a warm hug before she asked, “how’s Steven these days?”

“Running for city council,” he said of his driven younger lover.

“He’s got my vote,” she responded thinking that councilman would be the first of many positions he’d eventually hold.

“I think he’s got a good shot,” Roy answered.

“Tell you what, have him come see me next week,” Emily offered.

“The campaign is operating on a shoestring, there’s no way they can afford your prices,” Roy pointed out.

“I’m sure we can make an accommodation,” Emily countered.

She thought Erica would agree that taking a loss on the PR work for one campaign would be a small price to pay to get in on the ground floor of an up-and-coming candidate. Besides repping, the first openly gay man with a real shot at becoming the Mayor would work well with their gay-friendly image.

Roy conceded the point before agreeing to talk to Steven about it. He opened the door allowing Emily to slide into the rear.

“Can you head up to Lex and 54th first?” Emily asked.

It was a little out of the way, but in Erica’s Maybach, no one would question their presence. She wasn’t exactly expecting to see Miranda walking down the street, but her curiosity was just too strong to resist at least taking a look. The drive up was relatively quick, but driving through tree-lined streets revealed very little. After half an hour of meandering, she gave up and said, “just take her home.”

She could tell that Roy was curious about the little side trip but he kept his questions to himself.

She thanked him for the ride then headed up to her place. It was a small condo but in a nice building with a doorman. She had practically begged Miranda to move in with her after she moved out of the two-bedroom apartment, but her damnable pride had gotten in the way. She glanced at her watch and decided it wasn’t too early for a cocktail. She made herself an extra dry martini with two olives then ran a bath. She stripped out of her clothes and looked at herself in the mirror and was happy to see that her transition into her thirties had gone better than expected.

She ran a hand through a neatly trimmed triangle of hair at the juncture of their thighs.

She thought maybe it was time for her to find a new lover.

She slipped into the warm water then turned on the jacuzzi jets, allowing them to unknot the muscles in her lower back. Her hand dipped between her legs again as she remembered the night she’d allowed Erica and Sherrie to seduce her. She’d just broken up with she who mustn’t be named so having the full attention of two beautiful women had been just what she needed.

Her hand began to circle her clit as she remembered the pretty blonde straddling her face as Erica fucked her with talented fingers. When images of Sherrie were replaced with images of her Brazilian ex being fucked by that fucking hockey player, her libido cooled dramatically.

She took the hand that had been inches away from penetration and used it to grab her Martini glass. Two long pulls, and she was well on the way to forgetting all of her problems for the rest of the night.

The next morning Emily woke in her bed naked and with a splitting headache. She remembered getting out of the tub, making another martini or two, and succumbing to her baser needs with her vibrator before finally finding sleep. This time she just kept going when her mind fed her realistic images of Tom Wilson fucking the woman she’d loved totally and completely.

“Ug, I really do need a new girlfriend,” she said to her empty bedroom.

She retrieved her phone then saw a message from her contact with an address. It had come in last night, but she had been in no condition to do anything about it. She started the shower then took a pain reliever. After the shower, she had a light breakfast along with a vegetable smoothy recipe that Sherri swore was the perfect hangover remedy. She believed that given how hard Erica drank at times that the woman was probably on to something. She was feeling half-human again by the time she was dressed and ready to head back to Carnegie Hill.

By the time the taxi dropped her off in front of a lovely home, she’d worked herself up into a bit of a state. When the door opened, she’d been in a hurry, so she moved around the woman looking everywhere for her mother. Before she knew what was happening she’d been turned around and found herself pressed against the wall by a beautiful young woman. She looked at pretty hazel eyes and felt a familiar stirring from the close contact.

“God, I really need a girlfriend,” she thought.

Her thoughts of the alluring young woman fell away as two other brunettes walked into the room followed by her mother.

After introductions were made, Emily watched as her mother took the role as hostess topping off everyone’s drinks and handing her a glass of amber liquid that looked and smelled expensive. Then Miranda sat incredibly close to Andy. She easily picked up on the vibe between her mother and the woman who was no more than half a decade her senior.

“Not that there's anything wrong with that,” she decided.

Her attention was pulled away from the tableau before her when Sam asked her a question.

“How did you find us?”

So she told the group about her friend at the phone company.

“Does anyone else have that number?” Sam asked Miranda.

“My girls,” Miranda answered.

Sam looked at Miranda for a long moment then said, “then the girls’ father may have it as well.”

When Miranda did not answer, Sam put her hand out and asked Miranda to hand over her phone. When Miranda reluctantly handed it over, Sam took it and led the group back into the kitchen. Emily watched in disbelief as the young woman smashed the phone several times with a meat tenderizer. She looked towards her mother, but she didn’t even raise an eyebrow at Sam’s rather rash actions.

Sam dug through the separated parts before retrieving the memory card. She assured Miranda that she would retrieve her photos and put them onto a new phone.

“I’ll make sure the new one is untraceable,” Sam assured.

“I trust you to handle it,” Miranda responded.

Emily shook her head, wondering what the fuck was going on.

“Ok, what the fuck is going on?” Emily asked.

“Let’s go sit back down, and we can explain everything,” Andy offered.

When they resumed their seats, Miranda, Andy, Sam, and Lily brought Emily up to speed. Emily’s emotions were already on edge, but as she listened to all that had happened to the most important person in her life, she felt like she was about to lose her mind. The level of treachery men were capable of was not a surprise, but this was too much even for her.

“They did all this for what, goddamned greed. What are we going to do these, these, cunts.”

“Ok. slow down Artemis. We’re working on that, but for now, we have a more immediate issue to address,” Sam said.

“Artemis?” Emily asked, feeling vaguely insulted.

“Goddess of the hunt, don’t mind her she has a thing for greek goddesses,” Andy pointed out.

“She thinks I’m a goddess,” Emily thought suddenly feeling much less insulted.

Miranda cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention before she said, “Sam is referring to how we can address the custody arrangement with the girls’ father.”

“Well it sounds like he is up to his eyeballs in this mess,” Emily pointed out.

“There is what we know and what we can take to a judge,” Lily tried to explain.

When Emily gave her a puzzled look, Sam tried to clarify, “What she is trying to say is that we did not exactly have a search warrant when I gathered certain facts.”

“Oh,” Emily said, beginning to getting it.

“The good news is that we’ve gotten the case moved to trustworthy judge,” Lily added.

“Well, that’s good,” Emily said but noted that the other faces in the room did not match her enthusiasm.

“What am I still missing?” Emily asked the now subdued women.

“I’ve done things over the last year that,” Miranda began but couldn’t bring herself to complete.

“Things that would not sound good in front of a judge,” Andy finished for her.

Emily thanked her lucky stars that she’d not been here for that particular conversation. If she had read between the lines, they were talking about Miranda’s sex life, and she didn’t want any part of that discussion.

 

As Lily began discussing the issues with any potential legal strategy, Emily switched from concerned daughter to PR professional.

“If I got this correct all of the things we don’t want to come up in court were done by a woman named Miriam and not by Miranda Priestly.

When she got three nods of agreement and one set of pursed lips, she quickly continued, “So what we have is a classic PR problem, and that is my specialty.”

“When we have a client headed to rehab, we put a look-alike out for the paparazzi in all the usual places.”

“I think I see where you’re going with this red,” Sam said.

When Emily gave Sam a Miranda level glare it only drew a deep throaty laugh from the younger woman.

“We just need to do the reverse,” Sam continued.

”You mean create a story that explains Miranda’s recent absence from public life,” Andy cut in trying to keep the two younger woman focused on the task at hand.

“That’s right. We just need to figure out a place where no one can counter the story we are going to tell.”

“I think I know just the place,” Sam said, remembering her girlfriends offer of assistance.

” Have you ever heard of a small European country called Genovia?” Sam asked.

AN: Hallelujah, I am so glad to get this update out. I’ve been so busy of late that finding the time to write has been a real challenge. I’m so happy that this last week has given me the time I need to finish this chapter and work on chapter 12.
I hope you like how I’ve incorporated Emily into this story. A part of me really likes the Sam and Emily dynamic but, alas this story will not be the time for them to find love. I do have another story idea that brings them together but, that one will probably not see the light of day for a while. What did you think of my Hermione and Ginny drop in? I love them as a couple even though there are not a whole lot of stories out there featuring that ship. I can recommend the Importance of Family by Melktert on ff. It’s unfinished but, so creative.

Speaking of recommendations, I love the portrayal of Anne Lister in the show Gentleman Jack. Smart, funny, and heartbreaking all at once.

Finally, we will be back to switching between Andy’s, Miranda’s and Sam’s POV in the next chapter. I really appreciate all of your patience and I hope you enjoy the update. Tell me what you think and I will try to do a better job of responding to everyone who takes the time to comment.

Chapter Text

12.

”Have you ever heard of a small European country called Genovia?” Sam asked.

Knowing where she thought this discussion was headed, Lily raised a hand to halt Sam’s next words.

“This is probably a good place for me to excuse myself from the rest of this conversation.”

“I’ll be filing briefs with the judge ahead of our initial hearing later today. Miranda, I’ll be in touch,” Lily said before standing to leave.

Andy got up and walked Lily to the door.

“I’m happy for you and Miranda,” Lilly said conceding to the wisdom of Andy’s instincts.

She placed a gentle kiss on her sister’s cheek before saying, “I’ll let Gramps know that his patient is doing much better.”

Andy hugged her adopted sister and thanked her for everything.

By the time she returned to her study, Sam was well on the way to filling Miranda and Emily in on Genovia.

“The country is the perfect mixture of the old world and the new.”

Lush valleys, beautiful mountain peaks and even a small coastline along the Adriatic.

While they provide a good deal of the food that feed’s Europe, they also have a booming tech industry.

They’re a constitutional Monarchy, which means that they have a King and Queen but, there are legal remedies if they decide to go against the will of the people. It’s never been tested because the Renaldi family has always run the country with an eye towards what was best for the people.”

“Anyway, we made a deal with the government to purchase ingredients for several of our top beverage lines. When things went well for both sides, they offered us land to build a new bottling facility. It eventually became our most efficient plant.”

“What exactly are you suggesting?” Andy asked, wanting to get the conversation back on track.

“I’m suggesting that we use Genovia as the setting for Miranda’s new back story,” Sam offered.

Andy immediately liked the idea but had concerns.

“I feel uncomfortable putting the Genovian government in a position to have to lie to our government.”

“Technically, the State Department is who the court will ask to confirm the story we tell in court. At worst the Genovians will need to deflect media inquires, and frankly, I don’t see that happening,” Sam pointed out.

Andy had to agree with Sam’s wisdom on that subject. They both had enough experience with the sensationalist press to know that most of them were lazy, and as a result, were unlikely to travel to Europe to confirm the details of the story. At most, they would make a few phone calls, and when they hit a brick wall, they would drop it altogether.

“What about the State Department?” Emily asked.

Sam’s smile was wide and quite devious as she said,” I’ll take care of the State Department.”

“Ok, If we are going to do this, we need to get Queen Amelia’s consent before we take any action,” Andy insisted.

“Oh, Mia won’t mind. She already offered to help,” Sam said, then stopped herself from saying more.

“Mia,” Miranda added with a raised eyebrow.

Andy watched as her friend’s skin took on an abnormally reddish hue.

“Mia and Sam?” Andy thought as the penny dropped.

“Well, that explains a lot,” Andy thought.

Sam, who was never shy in discussing her sex life, had been tight-lipped on the subject of late. There was also the fact that their intimate relations had abruptly ended a weeks ago.

Her suspicions were confirmed when a dreamy look briefly passed over Sam’s pretty face.

Andy remembered when Sam used to look at her like that. She gave a wistfully look to her friend and now truly ex-lover.

“I meant Queen Amelia,” Sam belatedly tried to correct.

Andy smiled to herself as it was clear that Miranda didn’t buy Sam’s change in direction either.

Deciding to allow her friend a little more time and space to come clean, Andy pushed on.

“Well if you will do me the favor of talking to the Queen before we do anything more to implement this plan, I would appreciate it.”

“Now assuming that we get her approval, what do we do next?” Andy asked, looking towards Miranda’s eldest daughter.

“We need to work out the details of a solid backstory then work out all the small details to make it bulletproof.

We already know the setting is Genovia and the basic timeframe in question, but we need to figure out why Miranda would choose to go there and what she’s been doing all this time,” Emily said.

“We’ll have to give that some thought,” Andy replied while looking at Miranda to get her concurrence.

When the silver-haired woman nodded her head, Andy continued, “Emily, If you’re willing; I’d like you to work with Sam on fleshing out the details on for what we’ve already established.

I’ve got some thoughts about the rest,” Andy said but did not elaborate.

“Sure, I’ve got the rest of the day off, and I want to help.”

“Before you agree, you should know that what we are doing may not be without consequences,” Miranda said.

“I trust Sam’s abilities but, what we are doing is not strictly legal,” the former editor continued.

“I understand,” Emily said.

“Thank you,” Miranda said.

The meeting broke up shortly after with Andy and Miranda walking the younger duo out to the garage where Sam had parked her motorcycle.

Emily gave the bike a weary look but took the offered helmet and climbed on behind Sam.

After the last of their guests were gone, the new couple sat in relative silence. Each time Miranda tried to engage Andy in conversation, the younger woman only gave distracted one-word answers. Miranda was concerned that she had upset Andy by her lack of candor regarding her eldest child. When she finally pulled Andy from her thoughts long enough to look at her, she could see no sign of anger in those lovely brown eyes.

Deciding to give Andy time to work our whatever was on her mind, Miranda announced that she was going to take a bath. She kissed the other woman on the cheek before heading up to their bedroom.

It still surprised her how, after only a few days Andy’s home felt like her home.

“Or maybe Andy just feels like home,” the silver-haired woman reconsidered.

She ran the bath using the scented bath oil that Andy seemed to prefer then slipped beneath the warm water. She leaned her head back and tried to puzzle out what was bothering her younger lover.

After a few minutes, she realized that Andy was not bothered; she had been thinking. Though their relationship was new, her old insights into human behavior were now returning to her. She’d blindly ignored her own intuitions when it came to the men she had chosen to marry.

Of course, in both cases, she hadn’t married for love. She’d married for convenience. The first marriage was about creating the family that she’d never had as a child. The second marriage had been about creating the perfect image for herself. Stephen was the type of man that a woman of her age and status should marry. Well, neither of those had worked out in her favor.

This time was different. Andy was right; they had both felt the real pull of love at that first desperate moment they had caught each other’s eyes. Andy had saved her in more ways than one, and in return, all that she asked was to be allowed to express the love that they both felt.

“Hardly a sacrifice,” she thought.

She reached for her snifter and took another sip of the excellent single malt enjoying the strong scent and flavor as it passed down her throat.

Seen in this new light, she now thought that Andy had been contemplating the conversation they had just been having about the backstory.

Why would she have gone to Genovia and sequestered herself there for the last few years?

“Ah,” she thought as she finally zeroed in on Andy’s line of thinking.

Their relationship was too recent to think about taking such a step, and yet she could not outright reject the idea. Had it been six months or a year from now there next move would be perfectly logical.

“Fuck it,” she thought.

She was done trying to use logic when it came to matters of the heart.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Andy cleared her throat, announcing her presence.

“Sorry about before. I had some things on my mind.

When you are done, I have something I’d like to talk to you about,” Andy announced sounding more like herself again.

Miranda agreed then Andy slipped out of the bathroom leaving Miranda to further speculate on what was to come.

Miranda finished her drink then decided to wash her hair before getting out of the relaxing waters.

She slipped on one of Andy’s silk robes then sat in front of the mirror to dry her hair. Next, she grabbed a brush and began to run it through her hair. She was thinking it was time for a new look just as Andy came back into the ensuite.

“May I,” she asked, then extended her hand toward the brush.

Miranda handed it over, and Andy began to brush her hair out.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Emily before,” she began but was stopped by her companion.

“Don’t apologize, My love.”

Miranda was surprised at how Andy’s words and tone both calmed and assured her in equal measures. The effect the younger woman had on her was baffling, but she just could not bring herself to care. To be cared for and taken care of so completely was not a sensation she had ever experienced. Andy was the first person in her life that made her feel truly safe.

It scared her a little.

Not that Andy would abandon her. She recognized a stubborn determination in the woman that meant she would never take back her promises, nor would she ever give up on her.

No, what scared her was how much she liked it. How much she’d already come to depend on it.

Her upbringing, combined with the circumstances that led to her fall from grace, should have made it difficult for her to trust anyone. And yet, she trusted the woman standing behind completely.

The only reason she’d failed to tell Andy about Emily is that it had honestly not yet crossed her mind to do so.

“The day I met Charlie was at that time, the best day of my life. He was confident in his uniform, but there was a shyness behind those green eyes of his. He was my first love, but fate stepped in, and we only had a short time together.

I never forgot that shy boy from Hackney even after I transformed myself into the woman I became. Even when I finally took a husband and had my girls, I never forgot him or the baby we created.

The eyes are what has always drawn me to someone.

I ignored that along with my own instincts with both of the men I married. Especially with Stephen. His face was open and honest, but his eyes were cold and calculating even cruel at times.

She looked back at the woman behind her instantly locking on to Andy’s warm brown orbs.

“Your eyes captured my heart with just a single look.

No one has ever looked at me the way that you do.

No one has ever seen me in the way that you see me, the real me.

So my answer to whatever question you want to ask, my answer is yes.”

Andy cleared her throat as the emotions of the moment overwhelmed her. She had no idea how Miranda knew the question that was on the tip of her tongue.

She’d swallowed it down several times knowing that under normal circumstances, it was too soon to be having this conversation. Since these circumstances were anything but ordinary, she screwed her courage to the sticking-place and spoke.

“It was your eyes that drew me to you too. They are a microcosm of you, beautiful and fierce, but with a hint of sadness. You are the one that I’ve been waiting my whole life for, Miranda and nothing could make me happier than for you to become my wife.”

There was a long pause where no words were spoken. Finally, unable to stop from rolling her eyes, Miranda filled the silence. “Darling I already said yes, do keep up.”

Miranda dry tone and the sparkly blue in her eyes forced a bark of happy laughter to escape from Andy’s mouth.

That laughter did not last as Miranda stood and let her robe fall to the floor. Andy took a moment to enjoy the nude body of the woman that would soon be her wife. She was pleased to see that in just a few days, Miranda’s body had already started to fill out nicely, including breasts that sat high and proud on the older woman’s chest. She let her eyes linger for a moment causing Miranda’s nipples to respond appropriately. She resisted the urge to take one of the hardened peaks into her mouth. Instead, she let her eyes fall to Miranda’s flat stomach. She was happy that the other woman did nothing to hide the evidence that she’s born, three children. Miranda’s imperfections where a part of her and Andy wanted her to know that she accepted all of her.

Finally, she allowed her eyes to lower to the triangle of hair at the apex of firm thighs. She took in a deep breath enjoying the scent of both hers and Miranda’s arousal.

“I’m already wet for you,” Andy said in a breathy whisper.

“And what do you intend to do about that state of affairs,” Miranda said with a hint of impatience tinging her voice.

Andy smiled back at Miranda’s boldness.

“Be careful what you wish for dear,” Andy warned in a silky sweet tone.

Her smile only broadened as a visible shiver coursed through the other woman.

“Go wait for me on our bed.

You are not allowed to touch yourself,” Andy said.

Another shiver ran down Miranda’s spine upon hearing the commanding tone in Andy’s voice.

Despite herself, she could not deny her overwhelming desire to comply with Andy’s commands. She turned on bare feet, moving towards the door.

“Oh, Miranda,” Andy said.

She stopped and looked over her shoulder.

“On your knees, dear.”

This time the shiver Miranda felt came directly from her core. She was also happy that the familiar slickness she felt between her legs was not connected to the shame she associated with her most recent sexual encounters.

That shame had been a powerful turn-on at the time but had been followed by crushing guilt afterward. Now she could associate her feelings of arousal to the first healthy relationship in her life since she’d been with Charlie all those years ago.

She followed Andy’s command to the letter, kneeling on the bed with her head down on a pillow. She positioned herself in such a way that she would present her wetness to the other woman the moment she stepped into the room.

As she waited for her lover, Miranda became keenly aware of the ache between her legs. Minutes passed, causing that ache to grow to the point that she began regretting she could not touch her swollen clit. Finally, she heard the door to the ensuite open then close. She resisted the desire to look back for the younger woman. She wanted whatever happened next to be a complete surprise. She closed her eyes so she could focus on her other senses. Now she could hear the other woman’s steps as she approached. She could feel the walls of her pussy begin to involuntarily clench in anticipation of whatever her intended was about to do to her.

The next few moments stretched out torturously as Andy approached the bed at a maddeningly slow pace. Her clit began to throb with the sound of each of Andy’s deliberate footfalls. Her body jerked as Andy’s hand finally made glorious contact with her left hip. She soon learned that her torture was just beginning, as the younger woman’s hands leisurely explored every dip and curve of her ass. She whimpered audibly when Andy’s suddenly switched her focus to the tops of her thighs.

“Andy,” Miranda practically begged.

“Shh, baby I know exactly what you need.”

The younger woman spoke in that tone that left Miranda weak in the knees. She just barely managed to stay on her knees as she felt strong fingers spread her wide open. Never in her life had she felt this vulnerable. Not even when she’d been on her knees pleasuring a man, even then she’d felt some since that she had control of the situation. This was entirely out of her realm.

To give herself, mind, body, and soul, to a lover willingly and without reservation, was a something she had no experience with. And yet, right now she knew that she would do anything that Andy asked.

Anything.

The revelation, while frightening, was balanced by an unexplainable level of trust she felt towards the younger woman. She innately knew that Andy would always use this power, this control, with the care it was given.

All thoughts of her current dilemma were washed away by the sensation of a wet tongue probing her outer lips.

A quiet, “Oh, Fuck,” escaped her lips without permission.

“I told you, I knew what you needed baby,” Andy said in a voice so confident it bordered on cocky.

Andy’s confidence was warranted, as Miranda let out a series of unintelligible moans as every inch of her labia was explored.

When Miranda tried to push herself back in a desperate attempt to impale herself on Andy’s tongue, her progress was halted by the brunettes sudden withdrawal.

She fought the desire to open her eyes so she could see what Andy was doing. She had already given over complete control, so she would be patient.

Her wait was not a long one. The sudden presence of something at her entrance drew all of her attention to that single spot. If it were with a man behind her, she would have little doubt about what was teasing her opening. Any doubts she had disappeared as the object eased it’s way past her threshold with little resistance.

“Ahh,” came from deep within Miranda’s throat.

When she felt both of Andy’s hands on her hips, the mystery was solved. With newfound leverage, the other woman eased the phallus deeper into Miranda’s body.

“Can you feel how deep I am baby,” Andy said in a sultry whisper.

“God, yes,” Miranda eagerly responded.

Miranda thought that Andy had chosen well when it came to both length and girth as she finally felt her lover’s pelvis push against her ass.

Unable to hold back, she finally opened her eyes and looked back at her lover. While in the past she would expect to see the eyes of a savage barely in control of themselves, what she saw now was a look of such intense and pure focus that it forced the breath from her lungs. Never in all of her years had anyone looked at her with such ardor. The look was so intense she could barely stand it.

A loud moan escaped her lips as Andy ground herself into Miranda’s ass. The older woman felt herself clench and unclench around the invading object convulsively as her passage stretched to accommodate Andy’s cock.

“Are you ready baby,” Andy asked in an unexpectedly gentle tone.

Not trusting her own voice, she gave her consent with a meer nod.

In the next moment, Andy pulled nearly all the way out. Before she could begin to miss that sensation of fullness, Andy pushed back in with a blindingly quick motion.

All Miranda could do was grunt at the sensation of pure pleasure emanating from her core.

It was more than just the physical but all of it. The release she felt from truly submitting to her lover was unexpectedly liberating. It allowed her body to become a pure vessel for all the pleasures Andy was willing to give.

The next thrust came even quicker than the last forcing another unladylike sound to bubble to the surface.

She braced herself for another fast in and out, but Andy kept her off balance with a long slow thrust that almost pushed Miranda over the top.

After that, it became a game.

With Miranda attempting to anticipate the timing and speed of the next thrust.

The game only really started once the couple achieved true synchronicity, accurately predicting the others next action.

“Oh fuck, Miranda,” Andy gasped as a forceful thrust was met by the push of Miranda’s ass.

She smiled sweetly at the brunette, making it clear she could give as good as she got.

The next few moments, the room filled with growing cries of pleasure as the couple moved as one.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” the silver-haired woman gasped as a wave of pleasure like she’d never known quickly approached.

“Cum for me, Miranda,” Andy said with one last powerful thrust.

Andy’s words triggered an avalanche of feeling and emotions to crash over her in wave after wave. The intensity was like nothing she could have even imagined before.

“Oh shit, I think I’m going to.”

Miranda opened her eyes, realizing that she’d lost consciousness for a moment. She was now on her back with Andy poised above her. The younger woman looked so beautiful with her short yet stylish hair, those deep brown eyes, and that brilliant joyful smile.

Andy reached out and stroked her face gently.

“My God,” Miranda said as her voice finally came back to her.

Andy laughed then said, “No, I’m just a woman who finally found the love of her life.”

Andy shifted Miranda so she could settle between her lover’s legs.

“Now I’m going to make love to you,” Andy whispered, causing a fresh round of shivers to run up Miranda’s spine.

Miranda spread her legs then Andy was in her again.

“You’re so wet for me, baby,” Andy cooed into Miranda’s ear.

“She’s right,” Miranda thought as the faux-cock passed easily into her folds. She closed her eyes again so she could focus on the sensations she was feeling — so much of their bodies were now in contact.

Andy’s belly against hers.

The constant contact, as the other woman’s pelvis, came into contact with hers with each thrust.

The passage of Andy’s cock into her.

Her own bodies response as it clenched around the member.

How good the brunettes larger breasts felt as they pushed against hers.

A new sensation started as Andy’s tongue slipped between her lips.

She opened her eyes to see the woman who now owned her heart was incredibly close now.

She wrapped her legs around Andy’s ass, drawing her love in even further.

“I want you to come with me this time,” Miranda begged.

“Yes, Baby,” Andy groaned.

The couple maintained eye contact as they approached then crested together.

Miranda felt Andy slip out of her before sliding out of bed. She felt momentarily bereft, but moments later, her lover was back with her holding her tightly. She brushed the hair away from Miranda’s eyes, then asked, “Penny for your thoughts?”

Miranda smiled wistfully before she said, “I was wondering why I couldn’t have met you before I met Stephen.”

Andy took Miranda’s hand in hers, then said, “I wish that had happened too.

I wish that I had been there for you.

If I could take away all the hurt and bad things that happened to you, I would.”

Miranda took in all of Andy’s words knowing that the other woman meant every word.

The warmth she felt in chest let her know that this was it for her.

She’d finally found true love.

 

Ok, folks another update. Prepare for the pace to start picking up with the next chapter. For those who are curious, my version of Genovia steals a little bit of land from Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia. I hope you enjoy the dynamic. I’ve established between Andy and Miranda. It’s not that Andy has all the power necessary but that Miranda had found the joy in submission. Expect her to question why she enjoys it so much and what it says about her at some point. I know that it is early for marriage for these two but if you’ve read some of my other works, then you know I don’t spend a lot of time establishing them as a couple. I instead focus my efforts on how they interact as a couple and how they take on the challenges of life rather big or small. Finally, the phrase screw your courage to the sticking place was originally spoken by Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. As always let me know what you think.

Chapter Text

13.

Sam handed Emily a spare helmet before giving her instruction on how to ride pillion on the back of her bike. She looked back at the pretty Brit and momentarily felt bad for Miranda’s eldest daughter. She’d hate to try to climb on the back of her bike wearing that skirt. Sam, ever the gentlewoman, averted her eyes as Emily hiked her skirt to a dangerous level as she mounted the Harley.

When she felt Emily’s arm secure around her waist, she pulled smoothly into traffic.

Sam spoke into the built-in microphone in her helmet to get Emily’s attention.

“Let me know if I’m going to fast.”

Emily flinched a little then held on even tighter.

“Are you trying to give me a bloody heart attack,” the other woman complained.

“Sorry but there was no other way for me to let you know about the comms in your helmet. Anyway, I thought we’d head to my place so I can pick up a few things first.”

When Emily agreed, Sam pointed her bike in the direction of home.

The ride back to her apartment went fairly quickly even with Sam keeping her speed well below her normal frenetic pace. As they moved through the light traffic, Sam did her best to ignore the feel of Emily’s curves as the older woman molded herself to Sam’s back. Under other circumstances, she would have Emily naked about ten seconds after entering her flat.

There had been an instant and immediate attraction between the two of them from the moment she’d held the redhead against the wall. Emily’s willing submission had been an intoxicating turn-on but, that would be as far as things could go for them because of Mia.

Sam’s recent separation from the older woman had only served to prove the aphorism that absence makes the heart grow fonder. She missed Mia fiercely and felt certain the older woman felt the same. There were still obstacles for them, but they fell away when compared to the thought of being with her Queen. The smile that played out on her face remained in place until she remembered the woman behind her. She needed to let Emily down easy, and she wasn’t looking forward to that.

She pulled the motorcycle into her garage then maneuvered them directly into the large elevator, taking them directly into her loft.

“That was bloody horrifying,” Emily said, climbing off of Sam’s bike.

“It wasn’t bad red,” Sam said then chastised herself for still flirting with the pretty redhead.

It was just a part of her nature, though she also knew it wasn’t fair to the other woman. She gave Emily a quick tour of her place, making sure to point out the location of the loo. When Emily excused herself, Sam walked over to her closet and grabbed a change of clothing. She slipped out of her leather pants and was in the process of shimming into a pair of Lucky Brand jeans when she heard an audible sigh from her companion. She pulled the denim up and over her hips under Emily’s constant gaze.

Sam cleared her throat, pulling Emily out of her trance-like state.

“If you want to get out of that skirt, I can probably find you something to wear,” Sam offered.

Sam could not tell if Emily’s blush had more to do with seeing her in her undies or from her poorly worded turn of phrase.

Shaking off her evident embarrassment, Emily said, “I don’t think you, and I are the same size.”

Sam let out a musical laugh before responding, “I think that is the nicest way anyone has ever told me that I have a big ass.”

Emily sputtered for a moment before realizing that Sam was merely teasing her.

The glare the PR professional gave sent Sam into a fresh round of laughter.

She walked over to her closet and came back with a pair of true-religion jeans and a cashmere sweater and dropped them on the bed.

“Those should fit you,” She told Emily.

When the other woman gave her a questioning look, Sam responded to the unspoken question.

“Those belong to Andy, but they’re clean. I promise.”

Sam walked over to her kitchen, giving Emily some privacy to change. She sent a quick text to Mia, letting her know that they did need her help and that she would call her in the morning with the details.

Since it was still the middle of the night in Genovia, Sam slipped her phone back into her pocket not waiting for a return text.

“I have to admit you have a good eye,” Emily said as she strolled into the kitchen. Sam nodded her head, having already concluded that Andy was only about a size larger than the petite Emily.

She also managed to fight back the flirty response that had been on the tip of her tongue.

“So Andy keeps clothes at your apartment?” Emily questioned.

Sam thought now was a good of a time as any to have this conversation.

“Back when we were a couple, she spent enough time in my apartment that it made sense to keep a few things here.”

“So my mother displaced you in Andy’s life.”

Sam had to laugh again at Emily’s ability to tiptoe around a subject.

“We were engaged, but that ended a while ago.”

Sam thought it prudent not to bring up the fact that She and Andy had continued to sleep together long after the engagement ended.

“It hurt like hell for a while.

Looking back at it now, things worked out for the best,” Sam surmised

“Because of Mia?” Emily asked.

The smile that graced Sam’s face was all the answer that was needed.

“So we should probably get going,” Sam said eager to change the subject.

“Where are we headed?” Emily asked in a tone that suggested that she too was anxious to move past this awkward moment.

As the duo climbed back on the bike, Sam noted that Emily’s grip around her middle was far looser than before.

“I just need to make a quick stop then there’s a coffee shop downtown that has great scones,”

“And killer wi-fi,” she didn’t add.

The quick stop turned out to be a 24-hour shipping service that allowed Sam to accept deliveries anonymously. Minutes later they were back on the bike with her package secured in a saddlebag.

“Oh, this is so good,” Sam said after taking a bite of her chocolate scone.

Emily rolled her eyes before taking a sip of her still piping hot coffee.

“OK, where do we start?” Sam asked between bites.

“We start with what we already know,” Emily said before pulling a pad and a pen form her oversized purse.

An hour later and they’d sketched out everything they knew about Miranda’s life over the past few years. In her neet script, Emily established a rough timeline for the story they were going to spin as the truth.

“OK, now it’s your turn. How do we convince the world that Miranda spent the last few years in Genovia and not slumming it in Hell’s Kitchen?” Emily asked.

Sam gave the redhead and almost cocky grin before she put one of the packages they’d picked up on the table.

“That’s my specialty.”

After taking a few minutes to swap the hard drive, she booted up the new computer. She used her face and her long password to unlock the new machine.

“Computer security is a bit of a myth. The only way to make a computer unhackable is to unplug it from the internet then drop it into a hundred feet of water.

There are just degrees of how difficult you can make it for someone like me to get in.

Fortunately for us, most companies do a shit job of guarding their information,” Sam said.

“So who are we going to hack?” Emly asked a little too gleefully.

“Slow down there, Snowden.

This isn’t a game.

What I’m about to do isn’t exactly legal,” Sam said that last part just above a whisper.

” I meant what I said, I understand the risk, and I want to help,” Emily countered.

“I get that,” Sam began but was cut off by the other woman.

“No you don’t, I almost lost her and I didn’t lift a finger to help.”

Both women were quiet for a long moment before Sam spoke, “You’re wrong, I get exactly what you’re going through.

I was still pretty young when both of my parents died, and I would have done anything to bring them back. Anything to have prevented their deaths in the first place.”

Sam was surprised to find tears streaking down her cheeks. Emily allowed Sam a moment to compose herself before placing a hand over stricken woman’s.

“I’m sorry,” Emily said.

”You are not responsible for what happened to Miranda.

She didn’t want anyone’s help. Besides, you weren’t the one who sacked her or put that fucking box in her apartment,” Sam said, regaining her composure.

Sam didn’t take Emily’s words personally. She really did get it. In so many ways, she and Miranda were a lot alike. That included a need for self-reliance that it bordered on masochistic. Only Andy and Mia made Sam feel safe enough to be vulnerable. She hoped that Miranda would let her guard down enough to let Andy in. She knew from experience that Andy could be trusted and would never let her down. Even when Andy had broken Sam’s heart, she’d done it for the right reasons.

She realized that Emily fit into that same category. She needed someone like Mia or Andy, or me to protect her heart.

She had to grin when she realized that she knew the perfect person to introduce to her headstrong new friend.

“What?” Emily asked.

Not ready to have this conversation until she could ask Mia if her first cousin was still single, she moved back to the conversation at hand.

“We start with scrubbing social media of any references to Miranda since the end of the custody hearing.”

Sam pulled up program she’d written some time ago to help a friend who had some intimate pictures leaked by her ex. The program was her take on a seek and destroy routine that would go after and eviscerate data that met her chosen parameters.

“All the social sites make it this easy with the way they tag references to known persons,” Sam said as she continued typing.

“This little program will identify all reference to Miranda including pictures taken after that date then poof it never existed,” she said after hitting enter.

“Just like that?” Emily questioned.

“No, not just like that. It’ll take fifteen minutes or so.”

Emilly had to laugh at Sam’s need for precision.

“What do you want to do in the meantime?” Emily asked.

Sam thought back to her last hacking session and the unanswered questions she had about Gregg Brant’s company.

“How much do you know about the twins’ father?”

“A little, but I do know someone who knows him a lot better.”

Sam took a moment to pull up some of the email’s she’d tagged as interesting when she’d hacked into The Brant Companie’s system.

“As I said before, Gregg’s company was in real financial trouble until they correctly guessed that the Elias Clark stock would tank after Miranda was ousted.

He had to have known that Miranda was going to be fired before it happened.

I’ve checked his phone records, his meeting schedule, and his emails, but so far the only thing unusual I found were these emails from an anonymous account.”

Sam showed Emily the emails in question.

“The emails just contained times and places and were all signed NIC.

Do you know anyone connected to Gregg with those initials?”

Emily looked thoughtful for a long moment then she pulled out her phone and sent a quick text.

“Who are you texting?” Sam inquired.

“My sources,” Emily responded cryptically.

Moments later, Emily’s phone lit with an incoming FactTime call.

She answered the phone and instantly got an earful.

“Where have you been?

We text.

We call, and nothing.”

“You had us worried,” a near-identical voice added.

“Sorry Girls, I’ve,” Emily began but was quickly cut off.

“Nevermind. Have you talked to Mom?

She called us, but now her phone isn’t working.”

Sam grimaced before taking Emily’s phone, “that may have been my fault.”

“Who the hell are you?” the angrier of the two girls asked.

“Girls be nice, this is Sam.

Sam the foul mouth one is Cassidy and the slightly less vulgar one is Caroline.”

“She’s pretty,” Cassidy said.

“Yeah, Is she your new girlfriend?” Caroline asked.

Before Emily could formulate a response, Cassidy added, “Yeah it’s about time you got over Serena. She’s a real cu...”

“Language, You girls are worst than I was as a teenager,” Sam interrupted.

“Thanks, I guess. Now seriously who the fuck are you.”

Sam couldn’t help but laugh at the girls blunt questioning.

“Like Emily said, I’m Sam. I’m a friend who’s trying to help your mom.”

When both girls looked at Emily for confirmation, the other woman confirmed Sam’s declaration.

“OK, how can we help?” the girls asked in unison.

“Does your dad have any friends with the initials NIC?” Sam asked.

The girls looked at each other for a long moment before they responded.

“There not initials. Nic is short for Nichole or Nikki as Dad calls her. She’s his girlfriend, but we’re not supposed to know that.”

Emily and Sam gave each other a meaningful look knowing that this piece of information was important.

“How do you know she’s his girlfriend if you aren’t supposed to know?” Emily asked.

“She’s noisy,” Caroline answered.

When both adults made a face, the girl clarified, “On the stairs. You two are gross.”

They spent a few more minutes grilling the girls on everything they knew about the secret girlfriend.

Which wasn’t much beyond a basic description, blonde, pretty, big boobs, bad attitude.

They also added that she had some kind of European accent.

Sam promised that there Mom’s phone would be working by tomorrow and Emily promised to let them know if there was any other way for them to help.

“Thanks for trying to help our Mom,” Caroline said.

“Yeah and thank Andy for us too,” Cassidy added.

“Sure girls,” Sam said.

“Is Andy Mom’s secret girlfriend?” Caroline asked.

“Damn, girls you really know how to cut to the chase.

“Talk to your mom about it. I’m sure she’ll answer all of your questions,” Sam added.

They said their goodbyes before Emily ended the call.

“Nikki,” they both echoed.

Forty minutes later, Sam had exhausted all of the publicly available sources of information but came up with little that could further identify Nichole / Nikki.

“I’m going to have to look elsewhere to identify her,” Sam explained.

When Emily asked how, Sam pulled up an internal website meant for State Department employees.

“Last chance to back out,” Sam offered.

Emily rolled her eyes.

“OK, I get it, you’re a badass,” Sam laughed.

“I’ll need to do this again later to alter Miranda’s passport records, but this would be a good dry run,” Sam thought to herself.

She started to launch her standard password hacking program before deciding to try something first. She’d gone to college with the guy who was now responsible for keeping the State Department’s data safe. The thing about Herbie Trent was that he singularly the laziest person she’d ever come across. In college, he would always build a backdoor into all of his programs, which was not unusual for good programmers. The difference, in his case, was his tendency to use the same password over and over again.

Working on a hunch, she typed the username and password he’d used in college.

Username: Herbie53
Password: HerbieTHELOVEBUG

“No fucking way,” Sam said as the password was instantly accepted.

She shook her head in disbelief and made a note to herself to delete this backdoor account once she was done using it. She was patriotic-ish after all.

An hour later, Emily texted the girls screenshots of the seven Nichole’s that fit the description, plausible age range, and location. The response was just as quick this time as the girls identified the mystery woman as Nichole Devereaux.

Sam said the name a couple of times, thinking that it sounded familiar to her. A little bit of digging into her past and all of Sam’s warning lights were now flashing red.

Nichole Devereaux was the niece to one Viscount Maybrey, Mia’s chief adversary in the Genovian Parliament. There had even been a brief conflict when the Viscount attempted to assert Nichole’s legitimacy for the crown. The claim was absurd given Mia’s father had been king and Nichole was a more distant Renaldi.

“This is bad,” Sam said, then explained the connections to Emily.

“What do you think all this means?” Emily asked.

Thinking out loud Sam asked, “How does Gregg fit into all of this?”

“I think it has something to do with money,” Emily speculated.

Sam stayed silent for a moment as her mind quickly ran through several potential scenarios.

“I think you’re right. Gregg’s company deals with billions of dollars a year. The judges that got paid off all had ties to industries that are ripe with money laundering.

I always wondered why they were so interested in Elias Clark.

More importantly, why was it so crucial to their plan that Miranda be fired.”

“Do you have a guess,” Emily prompted.

In answer, Sam stood and took a few steps then turned and took a few more.

“Runway has been keeping Elias Clark afloat for years now.

With Miranda out, that came to a screaming halt causing the stock to dive.

Gregg, Stephen, and Irv took advantage of their inside knowledge to profit from the stock dive by selling the stock before the dive in one case and betting the stock would fall in the other.

Now they are buying back the severely damaged stock.

The question is why,” Sam concluded.

Emily raised an eyebrow but did nothing to impede Sam’s flow of consciousness.

“They know something.”

Sam sat down and pulled her laptop close and began typing furiously.

“Elias Clark is currently trading at $17 a share down from a high of $145 a share during Miranda’s last year at EC.

Next week the company is set to release quarterly earnings.

Given the past few earnings reports, it should be dreadful, causing the stock to tank even further.

“But”

“But, What?” Emily questioned.

“But, what if next week’s report said the opposite.

What if they showed a significant uptick in sales and a return to profitability.”

“Have you seen the latest issues of Runway?

There’s no way they are flying off the shelf,” Emily countered.

“That’s just it, Emily.

That’s the common denominator.

Gregg’s company, Elias Clark, hell even the two corrupt judges’ side business.”

When Emily remained silent, Sam said, “This is about money laundering,”

Who’s Money? Emily asked.

“Mia’s, Sam said gravely.

 

AN: One more piece of the puzzle revealed. Poor Emily met the right girl but at the wrong time. Never fear Emily will find her Princess Charming before we’re done. Sam’s going to be on the warpath because you do not fuck with Sam’s Queen. I really like the foul-mouthed Priestly twins. For some unknown reason, It is easy for me to find their voice. We’ll see more Miranda and Andy in the next chapter along with two more familiar faces as I do my best to reference every relationship I enjoy reading. Anyways let me know what you think.

Chapter Text

AN: Note that I referred to Andy’s assistants by the names Aubrey and Jenny in a previous chapter. Their names have been changed to Anna and Kate for reasons that should become obvious as you read on.

14

Andy opened her eyes and found sleeping Miranda’s head resting on her chest. It was still early so she took a moment to simply enjoy the weight, and the warmth of the older woman's body as it lay tucked next to her. She wrapped arms around the other woman causing the sleeping woman to make a happy noise as she snuggled her head into the crook of Andy’s neck.

As she lay there with her love so close, she reflected on their previous night’s activities. She had been so eager to take control of her lover’s pleasure and had been pleased to see how readily Miranda had been to let her. It had produced combination so explosive that they had both been fully sated both physically and emotionally. She felt honored that Miranda trusted her enough to be truly vulnerable in this way. Of all her previous lovers only Sam had been as willing to give themselves to her so completely. As wan smile broke out on her face, as she thought of her best friend finding love with Queen Mia.

 

“And, I have Miranda,” She thought before closing her eyes, allowing sleep to claim her once more.

 

The next time she opened her eyes light now poured through the windows of their bedroom.

This time when she looked at her fiance, she found pretty blue eyes staring back at her.

“How long have you been up?” Andy asked.

“Not long,” Her lover responded.

Andy closed her eyes as Miranda reached out and stroked her cheek.

“What are you thinking?” Andy questioned.

“About how just a few days ago, I was at the lowest point in my life. How I had lost hope in all of humanity, then I met you, and everything changed.

Without knowing why or how I have fallen in love with you.”

Miranda initiated a kiss that was so achingly sweet; it made Andy’s heart swell with love.

This time it was Andy who stroked her love’s face, relocating a stray hair that had fallen over an eye. Miranda smiled at the younger woman, as Andy tucked the stray hair behind and ear.

 

“I am sorry that so many bad things had to happen to you to bring us together, but I am so happy that we did meet Miranda because I’ve waited my entire life for this.

For you.”

Their next kiss was far less sweet as Andy pushed her tongue into Mirada’s willing mouth. Andy rolled them over then fell between her lover’s open legs. Miranda’s hand found Andy’s ass pulling their bodies flush. Andy reached down between them and exposed Miranda’s clit. She did the same for herself, causing a sigh of pleasure to escape the older woman's lips once they achieved glorious contact. Andy rolled her hips, creating friction meant to increased both women’s delight.

After several minutes of Andy’s teasing movements, Miranda rasped, “I need you,”

Andy responded immediately, moving down the older woman’s body. When she reached Miranda’s swollen sex, she used her tongue to split slick lips. She scooped up a generous amount of Miranda’s essence, causing the older woman’s hips to buck grinding herself on Andy’s lips and tongue.

Andy slid her hands under Miranda’s ass making it easier for her lover to grind her wet sex against her face. At the same time she pushed her own hips into the bed giving her own erect clit some needed friction. When Miranda’s breaths became shallow, she knew the older woman was close.

She moved her attention to Miranda’s clit while sliding three long fingers into Miranda’s warm center.

Miranda’s hand found the back of Andy’s head at the same time she pushed her hips forward further impaling herself on Andy’s long fingers.

Miranda made a keening noise as Andy began pumping her fingers deeper and curling them upward as she went.

“I, I, I’m going to…”

Miranda’s sentence was cut off as her orgasm overwhelmed all thought.

By the time Miranda came down from the rush of orgasm, Andy was next to her, holding her tightly.

“I would think after last night that I was incapable of such a strong response to you,” Miranda admitted.

“There is no limit to the pleasure I intend to give you, My Love,” Andy responded.

Miranda’s body shivered in delight.

“What about you,” Miranda said.

Andy released Miranda then rolled over and reached into her nightstand. When she pulled out her wand vibrator, Miranda smiled as she took possession of the device.

Andy finally pushed the implement away after her third orgasm, doubting her body was capable of cumming again without a small respite. Andy’s eyes grew dark as Miranda rolled on to her back and placed the device against her clit.

Andy watched, fascinated, as the older woman produced a self-induced orgasm in under a minute.

“We are quite the pair,” Miranda commented as she found her new favorite place with her head against Andy’s ample breasts.

Andy’s happy laugh made it clear that she agreed.

Later that morning, Andy reluctantly said goodbye to the woman she loved, but there was only so long she could ignore work. She was met by her driver, who held the door open and closed it behind her once she was safely tucked into the back seat of the Bentley.

As she walked into her office, she was greeted by the sight of her first assistant sitting behind her large desk with her eyes closed, appearing to be asleep. It surprised Andy that her ultra-competent executive assistant would ever sleep on the job. She cleared her throat and watched as the woman nearly jumped out of her chair.

“I apologize, I don’t know what came over me,” the older woman said.

Andy took a long look at the auburn-haired woman trying to figure out what she was missing about this situation.

All her questions were answered when she spotted black heels, belonging to her second assistant, peeking out from under the desk. She closed her mouth, not trusting herself not to laugh out loud.

The Kate Janeway she’d known for over a decade would never have considered such an act. That was until she hired Anna Hansen as her second assistant a little over a year ago. The statuesque blonde had apparently turned Kate’s world upside down.

“I’d like to have a conversation with you in my office as soon as Anna is back at her desk,” Andy said moving quickly towards her office.

As Andy was closing the door to her office, Kate’s quiet, “shit,” quiet burst the dam. Andy covered her mouth in an attempt to keep her laughter down to a dull roar.

Andy was still laughing when her cell phone rang with an incoming call from her home number.

She answered the line immediately asking Miranda, ”If everything was ok?”

“You sound out of breath,” Miranda commented.

“I was laughing when you called.”

Andy did not have to see the other woman to know her eyebrow was raised in question. So she explained how she’d caught Anna under Kate’s desk just before her call.

“Well we would be quite the hypocrites if we denied them the pleasure we found this morning,” Miranda said in a smooth, silky voice.

“You do have a point.”

“What do you intend to do about it?” Miranda asked.

“Give her a promotion.”

Miranda laughed then said, “If your requirements for promotion are made known, I suspect to see a fall in your overall productivity.”

Andy returned the favor laughing at Miranda's dry wit.

“Have you ever had sex at work?” Andy asked.

“No but had you and I ever worked together I suspect that my answer would be different.”

“What about you,” Miranda inquired.

Andy shrugged before saying, “Sam and I worked a lot of late nights here.”

Miranda was quiet for a moment, causing Andy to worry.

“Well I suppose we have some catching up to do,” Miranda offered.

Andy let out a let out a shaky breath glad she had not hurt the other woman’s feelings.

Without thinking she responded, “I believe that can be arranged, Mrs. Sachs.”

Andy paused for a long moment realizing what she had just said. She had intended to have this conversation when they discussed the cover story for the custody hearing in more detail. With Sam’s help she intended to make their upcoming marriage retroactive as part of the cover story. Their marriage would show the judge a stable home life and changing Miranda’s last name would help to explain the lack of recent activity tied to the name Miranda Priestly.

Her reasons were deeper than that, however. She loved and missed her parents, and could think of no better way to honor their memory than giving their name to the woman she loved.

Realizing that the line had been silent for a few moments, Andy changed the subject, “Was there something you needed?”

“Ah yes, You forgot your attache.”

Andy thought Miranda’s voice sounded a little funny, but she decided to let it go for now.

“I’ll send Anna to come to get it, and you can see the woman who is driving my first assistant to distraction.”

Once the door to Andy’s office closed, Anna Hansen went to resume her previous activity but found her path barred by Katherin’s right hand.

“Are you insane?

Andy just caught us behaving very unprofessionally.

Do you really think finishing is wise?”

“I did not hear any indication in Ms. Sach’s voice to indicate that she noticed anything out of the ordinary.”

“She’s very perceptive. She was just being nice to avoid embarrassing me,” Kate hissed.

“Are you embarrassed by me,” Anna said with a pout.

“No, darling. Never.

I am embarrassed by the situation.”

“I understand,” Anna said then moved to resume her ministrations.

“What are you doing,” Kate said.

“Katherine, I would think that at this stage in our relationship that I would not have to explain to you the basics of sex between two women,” Anna responded.

Kate rolled her eyes before saying, “Weren’t you listening.”

“My hearing is unaffected as long as you are not squeezing my head with your thighs.

You indicated that you were embarrassed that Andy caught you receiving oral sex, but she is no longer here.

Andy indicated that she wanted to see you once I returned, thus giving us time for me to finish what we started uninterrupted.”

Kate could hardly believe that Anna wanted to continue. Worse still, as usual, she could do little to argue with Anna’s flawless logic.

“You missed the part where I said that Andy knows what we were doing,” Kate whispered.

“I did not miss your inference; I simply chose not to address it.

However, if you are correct and Ms. Sach’s suspects that I was under your desk performing cunnilingus on your aesthetically pleasing pussy, then I believe she is the one who chose not to address it.

If she had wanted to, she could have demanded that I come from under your desk and then fired both of us on the spot.

Since she did not do that, I believe she had no intention of taking any adverse action against you.

Finally, I do not believe Ms. Sachs to be a hypocrite.”

“Hypocrite?” Kate questioned.

“Yes, Ms. Sachs would be a hypocrite if she fired you for having sex in the office when she and Ms. Dean have had sex in her office on a number of occasions.”

“Besides, should she choose to fire you, you will feel better having just orgasmed.”

With those words, Kate gave up like they both knew she would.

“Just be quick about it, Darling.”

“Yes, Katherine,” Anna said while pulling the older woman’s hips towards the edge of her leather chair.

Anna ran her hand over Kate’s folds, finding them wetter than before. She smiled as she lowered her head and resumed the task that had been unnecessarily delayed.

 

Five minutes and two orgasms later, Kate did her best to pull herself together before going into Andy’s office to meet her fate. She had to agree with Anna’s assessment after quietly coming twice on the tip of the blonde’s talented tongue; she didn't much care about what happened next.

“You wanted to see me,” Kate said.

“Please have a seat,” Andy said.

Kate did as she was told and awaited Andy’s pronouncement.

“I think it’s time for you to begin taking on more responsibility.”

Kate listened in disbelief as Andy outlined her new responsibilities.

“I was thinking of removing the words “to the” from your title.”

“Assistant Director,” Kate said in disbelief.

“If you accept, head down to H.R. and they can go over your new compensation package. You can also inform them of Anna’s promotion to First Assistant.

I don’t think I’ll be hiring a new second assistant, so I believe we’ll combine both salaries into one.”

“I accept,” Kate said before Andy could change her mind.

“I’m sure Anna will as well,” Kate quickly added.

“Good, can you let Anna know that I need her to pick up my attache from my home.”

Kate was just about to escape the office when Andy spoke again, “Oh, I also thought I should remind you that fraternization between employees is allowed as long as you notify H.R.”

“I’ll take care of that,” Kate said without slowing her stride.

A blushing Kate walked out and gave Anna a brilliant smile confirming the other woman’s wisdom.

“I take it that you have just been promoted,” the beautiful blonde said with a smirk.

“We both were,” Kate said then explained both of their new roles.

“Oh, Andy left her briefcase at home and needs you to retrieve it. Do you still have your key?”

“Yes, but I don’t believe it will be necessary.” When Kate asked why Anna reminded her of the size two clothes she’d delivered to Andy’s a few days ago.

“I believe Ms. Sach’s houseguest will be there to let me in.”

Both women stopped talking when a haggard-looking Samantha Dean walked in.

“I’m going in,” she told the pair. They both nodded wondering what had the normally composed young woman so off-balance.

Miranda could only laze in her and Andy’s bed for so long before she felt the need to get up and move around. Still naked form this morning’s activities, she padded into the ensuite and started the shower.

Afterward, she walked into her side of the hers, and hers closets in search of something to wear. Despite a number of normally acceptable options, nothing caught her eye. She rolled her eyes as it finally dawned upon her what she had been looking for. She walked to the other side of the closet and chose a pair of Andy’s yoga pants and one of the tanktops the other woman seemed to prefer.

Dressed, she had to admit how much better she felt wearing the Andy’s clothing. She hated to admit how much she already missed Andy. It was so unlike the woman she used to be. The old Miranda Priestly needed no one except her girls. She felt that same feeling of displacement again.

“Who was she,” She wondered, not for the first time.

Another thing the old her would not have have done, was to submit to her lover’s will. Even when she’d was being fucked, she maintained full control of the situation. She dolled out pleasure as she saw fit. With Andy, she had given up all control, allowing the young woman to do whatever she wanted however she wanted it.

Further she had no regrets even in the light of day. She would have done anything the woman had asked willingly and without reservation. Her desire to completely submit to Andy should scare her but honestly it didn’t.

She had a healthy breakfast then took her coffee into Andy’s study. She decided to call the woman, who’d been on her mind all morning, after she spotted her handsome leather Coach attache sitting on Andy’s desk.

She had to admit how good it felt to hear Andy’s voice as she answered the line. Their conversation took an unexpected turn when Andy described finding her, oh so put together, First Assistant being pleasured by her other assistant.

For a brief moment, she imagined a world where Andy was her assistant. She would have had a hard time keeping her hand to herself, she decided. She was so caught up in the fantasy that she did not fully consider her next question.

Andy’s answer that she and Sam had spent many late nights at work was quite predictable given the chemistry between the former lovers. Andy had been open about her and Sam’s engagement as well as their continued sexual liaisons. She assessed her feelings on the topic and found she was oddly OK with it all.

Part of it was the look on Sam’s face when she talked about the Queen of Genovia. The young woman was so clearly in love with someone else that she posed no threat to her relationship with Andy. The other part was that she trusted Andy completely.

“And isn’t that the crux of it all?” she asked herself.

The reason she could allow herself to be truly vulnerable was the knowledge that Andy would never hurt her and would always protect her.

She let that thought roll around her head for several moments, but she could find no fault with the idea.

She was once more hit with the lack of identity. She was no longer Miranda Priestly, but she had been foolish to attempt to go backward.

She made it clear to her fiance that she did not care about her and Sam’s past. Andy’s off-hand response sent Miranda’s mind reeling in a number of new directions. The conversation ended shortly afterward, and part of her felt bad for leaving Andy with the wrong impression, but she could not help it.

Was this the answer to who she was?

“Am I Miranda Sachs?” She wondered.

She could not picture herself as a doting housewife.

Doting yes, but housewife seemed unlikely.

She wanted a purpose beyond loving Andy for the rest of her life. Nor did she want to spend her days traipsing around Manhattan spending Andy’s money. She could picture herself spending much more time with her girls if given a chance. So whatever she chose to do with the rest of her life, she would need to prioritize her family.

She said the word out loud amazed that she had never actually been a part of a family. She had been a daughter, a wife, and she was a mom, but what she had never been was part of a real family. She had dreamt of the family she had planned to build with Charlie and Emily, but that wasn’t meant to be. After that, she had settled for something less.

“Yes,” she thought, answering Andy’s unasked question. She would and could be Miranda Sachs.

AN: Another chapter folks this one a little more on the lighter side. I had the scene with Kate and Anna in my head for some time so I’m glad to finally get it out there. I hope you enjoyed more Andy and Miranda falling in love and being sweet to each other. They have been and remain my favorite couple. Let me know what you think and I hope you continue to enjoy the read.

Chapter Text

15.

Sam’s mind was running at a pace that was several multiples of the speed of light as she thought through the implications of all she’d just learned.

After the initial revelation, she’d taken the next logical step and traced the money.

Her instincts proved sound as she discovered that the money being laundered through Elias Clark had come from Mia’s accounts. More troubling was clear evidence that the money had come from a series of large deposits originating from the Genovian Treasury.

Sam knew that Mia cared deeply for the Genovian people so it was unthinkable that she’d do what she was being framed for. On the other hand, the Viscount and his skank niece had every reason to steal billions while implicating Mia in the process.

The clinical part of her mind had to admit a certain kind of brilliance behind the devious plan.

Framing Mia, forcing her to abdicate, while installing Nichole on the Genovian throne was fucking evil but also quite efficient.

As her mind turned towards solving Mia’s problems, something about Nichole’s relationship with Gregg kept sticking in her brain.

She rolled the thought around in her head until she finally figured out what was bugging her.

“Was Miranda playing up to Andy the same way Nichole was doing with Gregg?”

Sam could feel Emily’s eyes studying her intently, but she could not spare a moment to explain her thoughts, nor was she sure she should.

She didn’t want to believe Miranda capable of such deception, but she could not dismiss the idea out of hand. She took a moment to review all she knew about Andy’s new paramour.

Two years of slumming it.

The loss of her wealth, her reputation, and her girls.

She could not reconcile the woman she’d met with someone who’d willingly be separated from her children.

Then there was how Miranda and Andy met. Miranda had come incredibly close to dying that night.

She used the combination of her eidetic memory and exceptional visualization skills to recreate Andy’s description of the events of that night in stunning detail. In her mind, she positioned Miranda, Andy’s Bentley at the location where the incident occurred.

She paused the scene just as Miranda began to step off the curb. She looked around easily recognizing this section of road. Andy had left work late, as usual, so she dimmed the light level by several lumens.

There was another detail she was missing; she thought to herself. Then it came to her; it had rained almost immediately after the near-miss. She added storm clouds to the scene which dropped the light level close to nighttime levels. She looked around the scene again and it was clear to her that only the combination of Andy’s extraordinary visual acuity and her preternatural sixth sense could have prevented a far worse outcome.

“Miranda had every intention of dying when she stepped off that curb,” Sam concluded.

Further, she knew that not even the best actress in the world could fool Andy’s strong intuition.

She ran the scene forward seeing Andy’s command to Jimmy, the big sedan’s Brembo brakes engaging, the sound of the Perrelli tires as they tried to gain purchase on dry pavement.

She could find no fault with her conclusions as she watched Miranda collapse to the ground in front of the large sedan. Miranda had been damn lucky to have avoided death or serious injury.

She came to the only possible conclusion; Miranda was not deceiving her best friend.

She opened her eyes and was faced with Emily’s blue eyes locked on hers.

” Where did you go?” the older woman asked.

” I was trying to figure something out,” Sam answered.

”If you could trust my mother,” Emily speculated.

The surprised look on Sam’s face all but confirmed Emily’s guess.

“If I hadn’t been there for every agonizing second of that farce of a custody hearing and if I didn’t know Miranda the way that I do; then I might be asking the same questions you are.”

Sam’s opinion of the other woman ticked up several levels, as few people could follow the workings of her mind.

“I don’t believe your mom is working against us. She explained her reasoning, revealing much about how her mind worked than she did with most people she knew. There was something about Emily that made Sam trust her.

She knew that behind her layers of armor Emily wore, lay a kind heart. She smiled to herself feeling more certain than ever that she knew the perfect person for her new friend.

“What’s next?” Emily asked.

Sam looked at her watch and winced at how late it was. She thought through what needed to be done and how long it would take. She concluded that they needed help, luckily she knew exactly who to ask.

She just hoped they would be willing.

“We go see a friend,” Sam responded.

The young woman took a few moments to pull the hard from the laptop she’d been using.

Sam gathered her things stowing everything but the laptop in her messenger bag.

Let’s go,” Sam prompted heading for the door pulling along in her wake.

Once outside, Instead of heading toward her motorcycle, Sam veered towards the water. Emily caught up just in time to see the hacker toss several thousand dollars worth of computer hardware into the Hudson.

Emily gave Sam a curious look, causing the hacker to roll her eyes before she said, “Come on, rookie.”

Emily frowned, feeling vaguely insulted.

As the walked back Sam explained the reasons for over the top security precautions. Emily wasn’t sure she understood completely but felt less bothered by Sam’s previous comment.

“So where’s this friend of your live?” Emily wanted to know.

Sam pointed to the nearby Brooklyn Bridge, prompting Emily to respond, “Brooklyn at this time of night.”

Sam’s melodic laughter filled the late-night Mahnahttan streets until they make it back to her Harley.

Twenty minutes later, they pulled to the curb in front of the type of building that passed for posh in gentrified Brooklyn. The burrow was now the “it” place for Millennials with money. Particularly to ones who did not want to appear as if they were filthy rich.

Emily rolled her eyes at the pretentiousness of wanting to appear unpretentious. Besides she was a Manhattan Girl all the way.

“I should warn you, they are not going to be happy we are showing up on their doorstep,” Sam warned.

“They, how many of them are there?”

Sam laughed again, “The person we are going to see presents as a man. I’m not sure if it’s because they are non-binary, trans or just trying to hide their identity but, given that you and I are about to trespass on their territory the last thing I want to do is piss them off by using the wrong pronoun.”

Emily could not disagree with the wisdom of that statement.

Sam locked down her bike, and the pair headed towards the building’s front door. Sam entered into a brief conversation with the building’s doorman, then palmed the man a hundred dollar bill.

Emily shook her head as he turned to them, greeting them like they’d lived in the building for years.

They stepped into the elevator; then Sam pushed the button for the 12th floor. She one again questioning the wisdom of showing up unannounced, but Invictus was one of only a handful of hackers with the talent that could match her own. She also happened to know that the hacker had built a fully anonymized gigabit network that would be highly valuable for tonight’s activities. Sam rang the bell then crossed her fingers, hoping that the next few moments would not become a complete disaster.

Invictus opened the door and glared at Sam.

“What the fuck are you doing on my doorstep, Athena.”

“Nice to see you too Vic,” Sam said, pushing past her fellow hacker.

Emily moved quickly afraid that she would find herself on the wrong side of a slammed door.

The red-head smirked to herself, finding it amusing that the living space before her was so similar to Sam’s own industrial chic.

“Find something funny,” They said, turning their glare towards Emily.

“Let’s play nice,” Sam said, trying to de-escalate things a touch.

“You show up at my place uninvited with a civilian, and you are telling me to play nice,” Vic spat back.

Emily frowned knowing for certain this time that she’d just been insulted.

“I think the fact that I showed up on your doorstep at all would tell you how serious the situation is,” Sam said soberly.

“You got cops chasing you?” Vic asked while pulling up security cams showing the outside of her building, the lobby, and the hallway.

Sam nodded her head, appreciating their cautious nature. She held up her hand, assuring the other hacker that she would never do something so reckless.

Vic was only marginally mollified, but they still wanted to know, “What are you doing here, Sam?”

“Touche,” Sam thought as Vic revealed that she too had done her homework.

“The civilian is Emily Charleton. She and I are trying to stop some people who are willing to commit murder to get what they want.”

“Who are they trying to murder?” They asked.

“My Mother,” Emily answered.

When Vic gave Sam a questioning look, Sam took the story from the top.

Vic stayed silent as Sam with Emily’s assistance gave her the full backstory then began explaining what had happened over the past week.

When Sam relayed tracing the black box in Miranda’s apartment to Cosima Niehaus and Delphine Cormier’s lab, Vic let out a gasp.

Vic reached up and ran her hands through her short hair, dislodging her hoodie in the process.

This time it was Sam’s turn to pull in a sharp breath seeing Vic’s face clearly for the first time.

“Is Cosima your sister?” Sam asked before she could stop herself.

Vic gave her a no shit look but chose not to elaborate.

Emily looked between the two hackers, quickly losing patience with whatever subtext was happening here.

“Look these people tried to kill my mother, and now we think they’ve turned their attention towards Sam’s girlfriend,” Emily said.

“Girlfriend?” Vic asked.

“That’s another long story,” Sam said.

“So will you help us or not?” Emily asked.

Vic gave Emily withering glare pulling a joyless laugh from Miranda Priestly’s former first assistant.

“Save that glare for someone who never worked for the Bitch in Heels,” Emily said, giving them back as good as she got.

Vic shrugged their shoulders then said, “What do you need me to do.”

Their eyes lit up as Sam explained her plan to undo Mia’s supposed embezzlement.

“Let me get this straight; we’re going to reverse every fraudulent transaction and make it look like it never happened,” Vic summarized.

“How long do we have to do it,” Vic added.

When Sam didn’t immediately answer, Vic shook their head.

“Tonight,” they said, answering their own question.

“Before the sun comes up,” Sam confirmed.

Emily lost track of the conversation as the two hackers dropped into “hacker-speak” discussing each step in the process in detail.

“We’ll need to simultaneously hack twelve different corporations and five financial institutions including three in the Cayman Islands,” Vic said outlining the scope of the task at hand.

“And the treasury of one European county,” Sam added for good measure.
Sam was happy to see that instead of being discouraged, Vic’s eyes lit up with the impending challenge.

Vic went to thier rig and pulled up their own hacking program and began typing furiously. Sam stood over their shoulder, reviewing Vic’s code line by line. She smiled, liking the direction they were headed. She retrieved the second of her one-time use laptops. She did her normal preparation then set up next to Vic typing just as fast as her fellow hacker.

For her part, Emily made her way into the kitchen and started coffee brewing. After giving both hackers a dose of caffeine, she sat on Vic’s couch. The enormity of the day finally caught up with the PR wizard, and she was soon asleep.

Hours later, Invictus and Athena traded places then began reviewing each other’s code. They both knew that they would only get one chance at this, so it had to be perfect. They both looked at each other with increased admiration as neither programmer could find fault with each other’s code.

Sam typed,” Execute,” on her screen, prompting Vic to do the same.

“On the count of three,” Sam said, hovering a finger over the enter key.

Athena counted off the numbers with both hackers pressing enter at the same moment.

“Now, what?” They asked.

Sam started to answer when she remembered her original mission. She explained to Vic what she and Emily, outlined her plan, then went to search for her missing companion.

She found the petty red-head sleeping on a nearby sofa.

When a look of consternation passed across Emily’s face, Sam wondered if she was having a nightmare.

“Oh God, Sam,” slipped from the other woman’s lips as her face transitioned from distressed into sheer bliss.

Sam could feel a blush creep up her cheeks knowing she just witnessed Emily having a dream induced orgasm. Her blush deepened further as she realized the older woman had been thinking about her at the time.

Sam stood and headed for the kitchen, not wanting to embarrass the other woman. She started a new pot of coffee, making sure to make enough noise to draw Emily from her stimulating slumber. Sam handed the sleepy woman a cup of coffee as she strolled into Vic’s kitchen.

“We could use your help,” Sam said then retreated to give the other woman some time to come fully awake.

Emily joined Athena and Invictus in the latter’s work area. All three of Vic’s screens flashed lines after line of what she could only guess was computer code. Sam’s laptop was doing the same thing, making her assume that things were going to plan.

“So, what are we doing now?” Emily inquired.

Sam explained that they were changing focus back to their original problem then explained the timeline that she and Emily had developed for Vic’s benefit.

“So we need to build a bulletproof story for what Miranda has been doing for the past two years,” Sam explained.

“I’ve had some experience making someone disappear, but they were not as famous as Miranda Priestly, Vic said.

Sam wanted to hear that story but respected the other hacker enough not to ask.

“My point is that Miranda’s fame will be a complicating factor in explaining her disappearance,” Vic said.

Emily spoke, feeling more on solid ground for this discussion.

“There are two easy ways for a celebrity to disappear. One is distance from the gutter press.

They are notoriously lazy and won’t travel long distances just to get a story when there are so many stories in New York or Los Angeles.

Two is when a celebrity is no longer a celebrity. When they press loses interest in you that’s pretty much it.

I’ve seen it happen, when an actor stars on one too many shitty movies or when an actress reaches some arbitrary age where she is no longer considered fuckable.

The problem as you so accurately pointed out is that Miranda’s fame will only increase as she re-emerges, so our story has to be airtight.”

“There is a third alternative,” Sam said, drawing Emily and Vic’s full attention.

It was close to dawn as Vic escorted Sam and Emily to her front door. They thanked the hacker for all of their help then made their way out onto an empty street.

Sam dropped Emily off at her place, watching to make sure the older woman made it safely into her building. The red-head looked back at her and gave her a small wave before walking away.

The look on Emily’s face was so heartbreakingly vulnerable that Sam’s heart went out to the other woman. She climbed back on her bike and pulled into traffic, hoping to get a few hours of sleep before going to see Andy.

She was too tired to see the black SUV as it merged into traffic moments later.

Fortunately, the rear-facing camera that fed a heads up display inside of her helmet showed Sam that she’d picked up a tail. She reviewed her memory but could not recall seeing the vehicle before now. She took a right, a left, then another right but the menacing vehicle was still on her trail. She smiled to herself as she activated a carefully concealed radar jammer. Next, she flipped a switch putting the bike into race mode. As she made the next turn onto the FDR highway, she dumped the clutch pushing her bike forward at an alarming rate. She hunkered down as her bike went from 20 to 80 mph in a little under three seconds.

She backed off slightly once her speedometer crossed 100. She let an eye drift towards the rear camera view and found nothing but the empty road behind her. She kept her speed up around a long bend in the road then slowed just enough to take the next ramp. Back on surface streets, she quickly spotted what she was looking for then maneuvered her bike into a nearby parking garage.

She parked the bike then used her phone to purchase a month’s worth of storage time. She ditched her leather jacket then reached into her saddlebag to pull out her favorite Red Sox hoodie. She folded her jacket and pushed it and her helmet into the left saddlebag. Next, she pulled the hoodie over her head, making sure to leave the hood up. She put her bike into hibernation, disabling all of its systems for now.

She did not like abandoning one of her prized possessions, but there were bigger issues at play right now. She hit the street, looked both ways but saw no evidence that she was still being followed.

She turned uptown and began walking casually as if she had no cares in the world. Her feigned casualness disappeared as three black SUV’s sped past.

“Dammit,” she said as the last of the three braked hard.

She moved fast, turning into a nearby alley hoping to disappear into the night. Once she was fully out of view from the street, she began to run. As she picked up speed, she thanked her dad for gracing her with long legs and her mom for providing her with the ass necessary to move said legs faster than most.

She heard a squeal of tires indicating the large SUV had reached the mouth of the alley. She redoubled her efforts reaching the other end of the alley a few moments later. She was about to break out into the street when she spotted a mirror hanging from the side of one of the buildings. She checked the mirror and found no SUVs or men in black waiting ahead for an ambush. What she did see was a large dumpster sitting just outside of the ally.

She moved behind the large rolling dumpster as an idea began to form in her mind. She pushed her shoulder against the hulking block of steel and felt it move a few inches. She looked up to check the mirror and found her pursuers about three-quarters of the way down the alley. She took one last look to judge speed then began a countdown in her head.

As she reached zero, she pushed the dumpster as hard as she could. Her timing proved perfect, as the SUV smashed into the metal dustbin. Sam was off and running, not even bothering to check the results of her handy work. When she did not hear squealing tires, she assumed that her gambit had been at least partially successful.

She took the next ally, then a left onto the next street. Two more alleyways led her to the stairs of the Bowery Street Station. Down in the subway, she jumped on the first train, not really caring where it was headed.

She let out a sigh of relief as the doors to her train began to shut. Her relief was short-lived as a burly arm appeared between the closing doors. Sam backed away from the entrance as four large men came into her train.

She moved back into the aisle, wanting to cut off their ability to get behind her. As the first man entered into the narrowed space, she mentally calculated her options as she waited for the one she’d just dubbed taserface to make the first move. He came for her, so she reached into her pocket, pulled out her taser, and shot him in the face.

She dropped the taser as the one she’d just labeled brokedick lept over his fallen compatriot. When he landed with his feet shoulder-width apart, Sam reared back and kicking him square in the balls. Instead of falling to his knees so she could kick him in the head, the man grimaced in pain but stayed on his feet.

She took another step back working on her plan b to deal with the man who she now thought of as eunuch. She feinted left, causing eunuch to move to his right. As soon as she saw the majority of his weight was balanced on his right leg, she kicked out hard, forcing his knee to move in ways it was not designed to go. Eunuch’s howl of pain as he went down, signaled that he was now out of the fight.

Next, she turned her attention to two-broke-wrist, who was currently hopping from seat to seat in an attempt to outflank her. As he lept past, she reached out a hand, caught hold of a pant leg and yanked, causing him to topple. Both wrists snapped as he predictably used his outstretched arms to protect his face.

She turned her focus to the last of her would-be attackers. The one that she now thought of as the-smart-one had hung back unwilling to move into her version of the Thermopylae pass.

Unfortunately for him, she’d been taught long ago that when in doubt you go on the attack.

Sam lowered her head and charged right at the-smart-one. As she drew near the man readied himself to absorb her blow so that he could pull her into a bear hug and end the fight quickly. Instead of doing the predictable, at the last moment, Sam threw herself to the left, grabbing a nearby pole, then using her momentum to slingshot around kicking not-so-fucking-smart-after-all square in the head. As he dropped to his knees, Sam finished him off with a roundhouse kick to the jaw.

A quick check of the closest window revealed the train was pulling into the next station. She went and retrieved her dropped taser then moved to leave the slowing train.

Before the doors to the train opened, Sam had a thought. She moved back towards not-so-fucking-smart-after-all then rolled him onto his back. She turned out his pockets and came out with a passport. She flipped it open then swore to herself.

” Genovian diplomatic passport, what the fuck,” Sam thought to herself.

She slipped the passport into a pocket then pulled out her phone and opened WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging app. She sent a message to the only other person in Genovia she knew she could trust.

AN: Back from a mini-vacation and I’m ready to write. Thermopylae pass is a real place where a small number of Greek Spartans held off a superior force of Persian’s by forcing them through the narrow pass.

A little more Emily/Sam sexual tension in this chapter. Although nothing will happen between the two, I still like the dynamic between them. Further, I am setting up something nice for our favorite red-head ex Runway employee in the near future. So don’t expect Emily to be alone for long.

This was my first attempt to write a non-binary character, so I’m sure I got some things less than perfect, so feel free to point out how I could do it better in the future.

I guess if you didn’t know Sam was a badass before then you know it now. Quick on her feet but with the brawn to take on whatever comes her way. Of all the characters I’ve imagined into life, She’s my favorite.

Overall, I’d say we are approaching the halfway mark. I know where this is going from here, to be honest, I’ve known this part of the story better than I knew the beginning. There is quite a bit of action to come, but I will try to drop in a little mindless fluff or a funny line or two to try to break up the tension.

What do we think so far?

Any guesses on where we are going from here?

Thank you all for hanging with me so far. I am really looking forward to continuing this story and bringing it to a satisfying conclusion.

Chapter Text

16

 

Sam stepped off the train with her hood up, moving quickly towards a downtown train that was preparing to leave the station. Her mind was reeling from both the confrontation and the revelation that at least one of the thugs had a Genovian Diplomatic Passport.

She wondered if the Viscount had already discovered the little software bomb that She and Invictus had just let loose. Despite all that had occurred so far, Sam felt that this level of retaliation was a major escalation.

“Plan B,” she thought darkly realizing they’d given up on their original plan. She had no idea what Plan B was, but she had to assume that they were all now at a more significant risk.

Sam forced herself to resist an overwhelming desire to call Mia. Just hearing her voice would go a long way to calming her nerves, but she had to assume that Mia’s phone was compromised and she couldn’t take that risk. She had to hope that her SOS would be enough.

Several hours and seven trains later, Sam walked out of the subway convinced that she was no longer being followed.

She ignored her weariness as she grabbed a taxi and went to see Andy.

Andy looked up as a bedraggled Sam plopped down into a chair in front of her desk.

“You look like shit,” the CEO commented.

Sam, through her a glare that Andy had not seen in years and rarely pointed at her.

“I take it things just got more complicated,” Andy speculated.

Sam let out an ironic laugh before saying, “You have no idea.”

“Then tell me.”

So Sam started at the beginning.

“This whole thing ties back to Queen Amelia,” Andy summarized.

“Yeah, this asshole Viscount and his skank niece stole something like four billion dollars from the Genovian treasury then tried to frame Mia for the theft.

They laundered the money through Elias Clark then planned to profit again when the stock price rises after the release of the next quarterly report later this week.

I believe they intended to put just enough of the money back into Mia’s account to provide a smoking gun.

Then Skank would try to take the Crown.”

”Wouldn’t Mia’s cousin be next in line.”

”Technically yes, but since they’re descendants of a former King, the law is vague.

And if they can tie any of Mia’s alleged crimes to Allie, then Queen Skank would be a fait accompli

Andy blew out a breath at the audacity of it all.

“But, you were able to reverse what they did?” Andy asked.

“Yeah, every stinking transaction one at a time like they never happened,” Sam said with a tired yet satisfied smile on her face.

Andy shook her head in amazement, “You managed to undo two years worth of painstaking work in a single night.

“Well, I had a little help,” Sam said then explained showing up unannounced at Invictus’s doorstep.

“There’s no way for them to undo it either, so they’ve switched to Plan B.”

“Plan B,” Andy asked not liking the sound of it at all.

“I picked up a tale after I dropped Emily off at her place.”

“You were followed?” Andy asked, suddenly alarmed.

Andy’s alarm only grew as Sam described her confrontation on the subway.

“Thank goddess for Janie,” Andy thought elated that Sam’s adopted sister had shown her how to protect herself.

“Do you think Queen Mia is in danger?” Andy asked.

“I think we’re all in danger. I’m fairly certain they were staking out Emily’s place, hoping she would lead them to Miranda.

I sent her a message to stay put for now. I also sent a message to her building’s security to be on the look-out for big guys in dark suits.”

“So what’s your plan?” Andy asked.

“Get Emily out of her apartment later tonight then we are headed to Genovia. I was actually hoping to borrow the Gulfstream for the trip.”

“Of course,” Andy agreed immediately finally recognizing the fear in her fearless friend’s face.

Seeing that fear made Andy think about Miranda’s safety.

“I want you to take Miranda with you.”

“What about you?” Sam wanted to know.

“I’m a big girl,” Andy reminded Sam.

Sam was not at all satisfied with that answer but knew Andy wouldn’t budge.

“I need Miranda protected, and she won’t go unless I can promise her that I’ll protect her girls.”

Sam could see the wisdom in Andy’s logic, but she didn’t have to like it.

“Take care of yourself,” Sam cautioned.

Andy nodded then turned her attention to the details, “Miranda’s former driver was a Marine, and he’s very loyal. I’ll contact him and have him deliver both Miranda and Emily to our hanger by ten tonight.

“What are you doing to protect Amelia until you can get there?”

“I contacted Mia’s cousin Allie. She’ll watch Mia’s back until I get there and she’ll help me look after Miranda and Emily as well.”

Andy was pleased to hear it. She’d met Allie and new the woman could handle herself.

Despite the gravity of the situation, she had to admire her friend’s ability to multitask.

“Playing matchmaker are we,” Andy pointed out.

Sam’s shy grin was all that she needed for confirmation. She also appreciated her friend’s big heart in wanting to help Miranda’s daughter to find her own fairytale ending.

Changing the subject, Andy asked, “Any progress on Miranda’s backstory.”

“Oh,” Sam said, reaching into her messenger bag. She came out with a handful of documents then said, “Congratulations.”

“Congratulations?” Andy questioned while sorting through the documents

“Today’s your and Miranda’s second anniversary.”

Andy looked through the documents finding a Maine marriage license that was indeed dated two years ago today. The next item was a page from a local Justice of Peace’s registry showing their names on the date in question.

“You’ve outdone yourself this time,” Andy said, looking at Miranda’s new and official passport.

Sam knew Andy better than anyone, but it still touched her that the younger woman had guessed her plans to marry Miranda as soon as possible. She did a double-take upon seeing Miranda’s name listed as Miranda P. Sachs.

“How’d you know that I’d want Miranda to have my name?” Andy asked.

Sam gave her friend a sad smile before responding, “You never asked me to take your name, but I knew that you wanted me to.

I would have you know,” Sam added.

“I know,” Andy began but was cut off before she could express the apology that was on the tip of her tongue.

“Things worked out the way they were supposed to,” Sam said, sounding more confident now.

Both women smiled at each other, each trying their best to fight off tears.

“I’ll get Miranda and Emily to the airport on time,” Andy said.

Sam, not trusting her voice, simply nodded then stood to take her leave.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Alison” Allie” Renaldi call sign Huntress, led her flight of four American-made F-22 Raptors into formation.

“Stay sharp, and remember our target is more maneuverable and faster in small increments.”

Their quarry today was a next-gen drone being developed by and for her country’s government. Her cousin, Queen Mia, had continued a tradition that began under their Great Grandfather King Phillip. Phillip, when faced with the growing Nazi threat, invested heavily in defensive technology to bolster the country’s small yet efficient military.

She thanked Phillip and Mia for their foresight as she banked the 150 million dollar jet at and angle that the old F-15 was incapable of maintaining. Before she could lock on to the drone, it made a hard left then powered into a steep climb that no human being could survive.

Instead of trying to follow her target, she told her flight to execute the plan they’d worked out on the ground. She and her wingman hit their afterburners moving well ahead of the drone’s current path. She ordered two of her pilots to move into position herding the drone forward into the area they’d designated as the kill zone.

“Got You,” Allie said as a tone sounded indicating she’s achieved radar lock.

As she brought her jet in for a landing, she reflected that the drone was almost ready as her flight had been the only ones to have successfully taken out the trickly little bugger.

She smiled at her wingman, and the other two pilots congratulating them for once again proving themselves to be the best pilots in the Genovian Royal Marines had to offer.

She exchanged fist bumps with her men before leaving them out on the tarmac. As she approached her office, her phone beeped indicating an incoming message. She started to ignore it, figuring it was another text from her ex. She rolled her eyes at herself when she pulled out her phone anyways. To her relief, the message was from Mia’s supposed secret Girlfriend. Her relief was short-lived as she read Sam’s dire warning.

“Viscount Malbury and Niece trying for the Crown again. This time they’re willing to kill for it.”

She reread the message, but there was no mistaking the meaning. The Queen’s life was in imminent danger.

She knew Sam to be a serious person with good instincts, so she decided to act immediately.

Her next thought was to recall the Queen’s schedule today.

Allie grimaced as she remembered that Mia was to fly her Arendale on the eastern Genovian coast for talks with a trade delegation from neighboring Serbia.

Feeling a greater sense of urgency, Allie moved quickly towards her office. Once there, she used her computer to review the manifest for today’s flight. Her unease only grew when she did not recognize the name of either assigned pilot. She checked her watch and realized that with just half an hour until takeoff, the co-pilot was likely already on board.

Thinking fast, she used her rank to override the original orders making herself the pilot. Next, she sent a message to her commander Major General Sir Ian McAlister outlining the situation and her plan to protect the Queen.

With not time she headed to the hanger that housed the Queen’s Gulfstream G-650, still wearing her flight suit. As she approached the open hanger, she spotted a man in a pilot’s uniform that she assumed was the original pilot.

“Captain Connors,” She called out, but the man kept walking.

Allie jogged forward catching up with him and placing a hand on his shoulder, turning him towards her. He gave her an angry glare that disappeared once he spotted the eagles on each of her shoulder boards.

“Colonel,” the Captain said, giving her a smart salute in the process.

“There’s been a change of plan. I’ll be flying Her Majesty today.”

He looked Allie up and down, noting that she was wearing her flight suit instead of his more appropriate uniform.

“I’m afraid that does not match my orders,” He tried.

Allie glanced at his Captain’s bars then at her own Eagles giving him a not so subtle reminder of her rank and his.

“Report to General McAlister for reassignment,” Allie ordered in her best command voice.

“Ma’am,” He said, giving her another crisp salute before turning on his heels and heading back the way they’d both come.

She made her way into the hanger where she got a few odd looks from the ground crew. She was not as famous as her cousin in most circles but among the ranks of her fellow Marines. The Huntress was more than just the Grand Duchess of Arendale and next in line to the Crown, but an accomplished pilot and model Officer in her own right.

She traded salutes with the Marines and got nods from both indicating that they’d received their new orders. After taking the air stairs up to the executive jet, She checked the cabin only finding a pair of navy stewards making final preparations for the Queen’s arrival.

She gave a nod to each before turning her attention to the cockpit. She walked in with all the confidence her rank and experience demanded taking her seat then prompting her co-pilot, “Let’s begin the pre-flight.”

“What happened to Captain Conners?” Lieutenant Brooks questioned.

“He was reassigned. Now let’s focus on that checklist Leftinute.”

She’d used the British pronunciation of his rank as a test. If he’d given her a nod or a shy grin, she would have marked him as one of the Marines, like herself, who’d served in Afghanistan.
The use of British terminology had been an inside joke between the British and Genovia Royal Marines pilots at the expense of the Yanks who had a hard time telling the two services apart. By then end of her tour, she could, and her fellow pilots were even able to mimic the accent used by their sister service, confusing the Americans even more.

Lieutenant Brooks’ lack of response to her little test, sent fresh alarm bells running through Allie’s mind. The Royal Marines took their responsibilities to protect the Crown seriously, which meant only using the best pilots to ferry the Royal Family and high members of Her Majesty’s Government. For her generation of pilots that generally referred to those who’d served in the war in Afghanistan.

Allie turned her focus back to completing the pre-flight careful not to give any hint of her misgivings. As they completed the checklist, Mia’s assistant Clarrissa popped her head into the cockpit to let them know that the Queen had arrived.

Allie stood to greet the Queen’s ultra-efficient aid.

Despite the tense situation, Allie could not help giving the pretty blonde a flirtatious smile.

Her smile broadened as Clarissa began to blush.

“We’ll be ready to take off as soon as Her Majesty is seated,” Allie said then leaned in close to whisper,” Follow the Marine Guards direction and don’t argue.”

Clarissa nodded then Allie placed a gentle kiss on her still reddened cheek.

She and Clarissa had only been intimate on one occasion years ago, but she cared deeply for the young woman and did not want anything bad to happen to her.

Clarissa’s nod made it clear that the strong-willed young woman would listen at least this once.

Allie closed the cockpit door then retook her seat.

“Is the Queen onboard,” Lieutenant Brooks asked.

She turned to her fellow pilot then lied through her teeth, “She is.”

After counting to one hundred in her head, Allie toggled a switch firing the starboard engine bringing it up to speed slowly. She maneuvered the jet out of the open hangar doors as her co-pilot worked the radio.

“Royal Flight 001 to Tower we are prepared for takeoff.”

“Tower to Royal Flight 001 take taxiway three to runway two South for takeoff. You are cleared for heading 1 8 0 at flight level twenty-one.”

“Royal Flight 001 to Tower acknowledged taking taxiway three to runway two south then taking off on heading 1 8 0 to flight level twenty-one.”

“That was easy,” Brooks said, giving her a grin.

Allie kept her expression neutral as she said, “first Royal Fight, huh.”

His grin grew sheepish as he admitted that it was his first time serving on the Queen’s flight.

Allie’s gut tightened knowing that no rookie pilot would be assigned to fly the Queen on his first time out.

Brooks thanked the tower as Allie maneuvered from the taxiway onto the runway.

She pressed down on the brakes, set the flaps in the down position, then brought the engines up near full throttle. She released the brake, and the jet began to move quickly down the runway. Allie much preferred her fighter jet, but she had to admit that Gulfstream made a damn fine aircraft.

As the plane passed takeoff speed, she pulled back on the yoke and felt the nose of the jet respond accordingly. Allie relaxed slightly knowing the aircraft was not sabotaged to crash during takeoff at least. She had not really expected to have problems taking off. In her mind, it made more sense to fly the plane past their destination then let ti crash into the Ionian Sea.

At an average depth of over five thousand meters, the aluminum-skinned aircraft would be crushed, leaving little to no evidence of foul play.

She leveled out the plane at exactly twenty-one thousand feet then programmed their destination into the state of the art auto-pilot. Moments later, Allie tensed as her co-pilot released his safety harness before standing up. When he moved towards the cabin door, Allie stopped him by saying, “The Queen is receiving a security briefing so we’ll have to stay in the cockpit until it’s over.”

“Is that what the sexy blonde told you.”

Allie couldn’t help but agree, Clarrissa was damn sexy, but his tone raised the hackles on the back of her neck.

“Ms. Norris is one of the Queen’s most trusted advisors, and she deserves your respect Leftenant.”

She watched with satisfaction as his spine stiffened due to her not so mild rebuke.

“Someone will notify us once the briefing is over, so until then why don’t you sit down and focus on getting our Queen to her destination safely.”

As the flight continued, Allie kept one eye on her instruments and the other on Lieutenant Brooks.

A half an hour later, Brooks began to fidget. Under normal circumstances, the little movements of his hands and legs could be explained away by his a full bladder; however, the sweat that appeared on his brow was a dead give away.

“He’s getting desperate,” She thought to herself.

“It’s getting warm in here,” Allie announced then reached for the controls for the air conditioning. She adjusted the temperature for the cockpit and when Brooks wasn’t looking she flipped another switch disabling co-pilot’s flight controls. Next, she used her ruse about the elevated temperature as an excuse to lower the zipper of her flight suit halfway down her chest. She thanked her lucky stars that Brooks appeared to be a breast man as his eyes locked onto the tops of her breasts. More importantly, his fixation on her mammary glands kept his attention away from the actual reason she’d adjusted her zipper.

His fixation ended as he checked his watch. Allie wondered if they were approaching some deadline for taking action. Allie braced herself waiting to see what Brooks would do.

When Brooks reached for something below her sightline, Allie acted without hesitation reaching into her flight suit and coming out with her trusty Marine issue Beretta 9mm.

“Leftenant, I want you to take both hands and put them on your controls,” Allie said smoothly.

Brooks turned in her direction suddenly but went still when he saw her gun pointed at his head.

“Easy, Brooks,” Allie said, trying to calm the wide-eyed soldier.

He pulled his hand away from whatever he was reaching for and did as Allie commanded.

“What’s this about Colonel?” He asked, trying to play the innocent.

“You tell me, Leftenant. How did a pilot who’s never flown a Royal Flight end up flying the Queen.”

The sag of his shoulders confirmed that she was on to something.

“So what was the plan, cut oxygen to the cabin, then fly the plane until it was out of fuel then crash into 2500 fathoms of water.”

Allie studied Brooks carefully as he did his best to still his body in an attempt to thwart her ability to read his body language. Unfortunately for him, he could not stop his pupils from growing wide as he listened to her spot on supposition.

“But you’re no martyr Brooksie.

So what was the rest of your plan?

Ah, I got it, I bet there are a couple of parachutes stowed in the back.

That way you and the good Captain could jump while still over land and leave the Queen and her party to their fate.

Rather brilliant if you think about it.

The news stories would be just like the pro golfer from the States.

You know the one I’m talking about, don’t you Brooksie.

They lost cabin pressure, so they all suffocated well before they ran out of fuel and crashed into the side of a mountain.

You know the one problem with that plan, Brooksie?”

She watched in amusement as the use of this new nickname caused a vein in his forehead to pulsate.

“Or maybe it’s just hearing his carefully laid plan recited back to him,” Allie thought.

“What,” Brooks said through gritted teeth.

“That it would look rather suspicious if they didn’t recover either pilot's bodies.

So I’m guessing that only Captain Conrad’s mask was connected to the reserve oxygen and yours well let’s just say you would’ve suffered the same fate as my cousin the Queen.

Brooks visibly paled at Allie’s last statement.

“That’s right Pillock, I’m the Grand Dutchess of Arendale, and if you don’t start talking, I’m going shoot you in the fucking head.”

Brooks began to visibly shake as he said, “You wouldn’t risk the Queen.”

Allie’s laugh was more than a little unsettling to her captive.

“First of all, did you see the Queen get on board this aircraft.”

Brooks started to object then shut his mouth as he realized that he had not seen Queen Mia at any point.

“The Queen never even stepped foot inside the hanger,” Allie pointed out.

“Secondly, I carry a special load that some American invented. It will expand upon impact wreak havoc upon your brain but never exit the other side of your skull. And even if by chance the bullet did go through your skull and depressurized the cabin, I still like my chances more than I like yours.”

“What do you want?” Brooks asked.

“What was the plan, and who hired you to do it? “

As Brooks began to talk, Allie flipped a switch activating the flight voice recorder.

Allies’ face was grim as Brooks finished describing the plot that was eerily similar to what she herself had described. Unfortunately, he’d been hired by a cut-out making less likely the scheme could be tied back to the Viscount or his Niece. When he was done, she made him breathe from his disabled oxygen mask until he slowly lost consciousness.

Allie reached for the mic, toggled the switch, then declared a medical emergency. She received vectoring for a direct return to the Airport; then she pushed the throttle forward, wanting to get back on the ground as quickly as possible.

Back on the ground, She maneuvered the jet back into their original hanger. There she was met by General McAlister and a retinue of their fellow Marines. She stepped off the plane then gave the general a smart salute.

“You want to tell me what that was all about there, Lass,” The General said, slipping into his more native tongue.

Allie directed the Military Police officers in the crowd to take the first officer into custody then gave McAlister the cliff notes version of events.

“I knew I’d taught ye well Lass,” McAlister complimented.

“Is the Queen back at the Palace?” Allie asked.

Allie looked on incredulously as her mentor unexpectedly became sheepish.

“She insisted on waiting in the barracks for you.”

McAlister’s face paled as Allie’s transformed from his subordinate to someone who embodied the full weight of the Genovian Crown.

“I thought I made it clear that Her Majesty’s safety was your top priority.”

“I’ve surrounded the Queen with my most trusted men, but she insisted on staying until she knew that you were safe and on the ground.”

Allie softened knowing from experience how Mia could be when she chose to dig in her heels.

“Very well General take me to her Majesty.”

AN.
Another action-packed update folks as the conspirators switch to the ominous Plan B. I’m excited about our ladies heading to Genovia, and I am especially looking forward to exploring Sam and Mia's relationship further. I was glad to bring Allie into this story finally. She’s another one of my original characters who will play a significant role in the story moving forward. I’m already envisioning Emily’s reaction the first time she sees Allie in her dress uniform.

The latest comments on this story have been honestly heartwarming. Your words of praise or encouragement are generous beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. I want to do right by this story, and these great characters and your feedback helps keep me on the right track so Thank You.

Chapter Text

17.

Miranda made her way up to their bedroom and reluctantly stripped out of Andy’s clothes. Instead of putting the clothes down the laundry shoot, she laid them on the bed, with every intention of putting them back on later. She padded naked into the en-suite then stopped when she caught a glimpse of her nude body in the mirror.

She turned facing the mirror and studied herself intently. Despite the things she’d done to abuse her body over the last year, a few days of Andy’s TLC were already making a visible difference.

Her face reddened as her thoughts turned to the things Andy did to her last night and again this morning.

She didn’t know the origins of these new desires, but she could not deny the effect just thinking about being dominated by Andy had on her.

“Am I sexually submissive?” she asked herself.

“Based on recent events, that answer is self-evident, but what does it say about me that I am so willing to submit to Andy’s will.

Willing, more like Eager.

It is a sign of weakness?”

Miranda frowned, feeling a sense of unease by that last thought.

It wasn’t that she questioned her love for Andy. Their bond that began under the direst of circumstances felt permanent.

As permanent as the bond with her children.

It was more about how she thought of herself. She was driven, and even brutal when necessary, and yet this new vulnerability was unsettling.

By the time she was dressed in her own clothes, her sense of unease had yet to abate.

She still could not reconcile her self-image with the woman who’s eagerly laid on her lover’s bed with her face down and her ass up in the air. The anticipation she’d felt with every step Andy took towards the bed made her wetter than she can ever remember.

“God help me, but I want her to have me in every way imaginable.”

A shiver of pleasure ran down her spine and straight to her core at all the possibilities.

She shook her head, trying to get her vivid imagination under some sort of control.

Getting back to the problem at hand, she wondered how much of her former persona was really her and how much was just a glamour.

As a child, Miranda Priestly was everything she’d ever wanted to be and more. So after Charlie’s death, she’s thrown herself full time into becoming the Bitch In Heels.

In reality, she’d never been as sure of herself as what she’s shown the rest of the world.

“I feel most like myself when I”m with twins and with Emily,” She realized.

“And now with Andy.”

The knot in her stomach loosened a bit, but she still wondered what it all meant.

“What does it say about me that I want Andy to do all these things to me?

This time she didn’t even blush as new fantasy flashed through her brain in technicolor.

She ran her hand through silver hairs finding them slick with her own moisture. She slipped that finger into her mouth and sucked, wondering if she’d always enjoyed the taste.

Suddenly a memory from her last conversation with Andy sent her mind in an entirely new direction.

They’d been talking about what Andy had interrupted between her two assistance this morning when the conversation shifted to Andy and Sam’s workplace trysts.

The fact that Andy and Sam, until recently, were having regular sex and sometimes in Andy’s office, really did not bother Miranda.

What was now sticking in her head was Andy doing the things that she’d just been imagining to Sam.

She and Andy had not spoken much about the intimate details of her previous relationship, but Andy seemed quite comfortable taking a more dominant role in their sex life.

“Was She like that with Sam?” Miranda wondered.

“The answer was probably a big fat, yes.

Was that what ended the relationship?

“No,” she concluded.

She knew that their sexual relationship had continued after the end of the engagement.

“That must mean that Sam had no qualms about being dominated by Andy,” Miranda speculated.

She was having a hard time picturing Sam as the submissive type.

“Because you don’t think of Samantha as weak.”

“Oh,” she said, finally coming to the heart of the matter.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Miranda equated being submissive with being weak.

She did not think of herself as weak, and she had the battle scars to prove it. The things that she’d done in service of survival and even the things she’d done when survival was no longer her goal were evidence of a deep well of strength.

It made her wonder if she needed to reconsider her feelings on the subject. Maybe being vulnerable with the person you loved and trusted the most took more strength than she realized.

As she descended the stairs, her frame of mind lightened, and she felt more at home in her own skin than she had in years.

Later as she read Andy’s, dog eared, copy of Pride and Prejudice, the bell rang, indicating the arrival of her guest. She walked to the door, opened it, and was greeted by one of the most striking women Miranda had ever seen.

“Oh, my,” Miranda thought while surveying the striking Anna Hansen.

“Would you like some coffee,” Miranda offered inviting Anna into their home.

“Or tea,” she added.

She smirked to herself as the last part of that famous phrase, “or me,” popped into her head.

Not that she was tempted, but she had to admit that Katherine Janeway was a lucky woman.

“Tea would be lovely,” Anna said, giving Miranda a smile that suggested that she was thinking of the same two words.

Miranda led Anna into the kitchen and offered the young woman a seat at the kitchen island.

“Chamomile, Earl Grey, or Black?” Miranda questioned.

“Chamomile would be lovely,” Anna said.

Miranda made the tea, all the while taking surreptitious looks at the beautiful young woman.

She knew it was not lust that kept drawing her attention to the blonde bombshell; she just could not stop herself from picturing the other woman draped in the most exquisite fabrics.

“Cream, sugar?” Miranda questioned as she placed a cup in front of the young woman.

“Both, please,” Anna said politely.

She added the additives to Anna’s tea and her own. Anna took a tentative sip then graced Miranda with a full wattage smile.

“Kate Janeway, Is one lucky girl,” Miranda thought again while taking a sip of her tea.

“I hear that you’ve been promoted,” Miranda said, curious to hear how Anna would respond.

“Yes, Andy promoted me to first assistant replacing Katherine, who was also promoted today.”

“Ah, Are you and Katherine close?” Miranda probed, taking another sip.

Anna appeared to measure her words for a moment before she spoke, “I was performing oral sex on Katherine underneath her desk just before she received her promotion.”

Miranda sputtered, as tea found its way down the wrong pipe.

Anna rushed to her side and gave her three quick pats on the back.

Miranda took in a deep breath chastising herself for not anticipating Anna’s frank honesty.

“I see now that Katherine was correct, Andy was indeed aware of my presence under Katherine’s desk.

I will not underestimate her powers of perception in the future,” Anna said.

“So pretty close,” Miranda said, recovering herself.

“I think she’s going to ask me to marry her tonight,” Anna said, retaking her seat.

Miranda smiled at the hopeful look on the young woman’s face.

“I’m sure you’re right.” Miranda said, thinking, “Kate Janeway would be a fool if she let this one get away.”

“Has Andy asked you to marry her yet?” Anna asked.

Miranda gave the woman a long look, reappraising her.

“Why do you think Andy wants to marry me?” Miranda questioned.

“The last couple of days, she smiles the way she did when she and Samantha were engaged to be married.”

Miranda felt warm inside, knowing she’s made her fiance visibly happy.

Miranda did not answer directly; instead, she held up a cup saying, “to finding the love of your life.”

Anna smiled as the two women clinked teacups.

Miranda waved bye to the woman, thinking she’d just made a new friend.

Miranda, once again wearing Andy’s clothes, was in the study reading when Andy got home.

Miranda got up eager to greet the woman who she’s missed terribly, so without giving it much thought; she threw her arms around Andy’s shoulders, looking up into warm brown eyes.

She leaned in and captured Andy’s lips in a kiss that promised oh so much more.

“I take it you enjoyed having tea with my new first assistant,” Andy said with a grin.

Miranda pulled back a little but did not take her arms from around Andy’s neck.

Andy held back her laughter as a pout appeared on Miranda’s face.

“What makes you say that,” Miranda said cooly.

“Because you probably spent the whole time imagining her draped in vintage Dior,” Andy said with a smirk.

Miranda blushed as she wondered how this woman knew her so well so soon.

Andy leaned in and whispered, “I know you, Miranda, and you know me. It doesn’t matter how or why we both know it’s true.

I also know how bad you want me right now.”

Andy grabbed a handful of Miranda’s ass as if to further prove her point.

Miranda narrowed her eyes, but Andy was correct; she wanted to be taken right here even if it meant being taken on the mudroom floor.

“I want that, too, but there is something we need to discuss first.”

Andy took Miranda’s hand and led her back to the study. Andy took a seat then reached for Miranda.

Despite her weariness, Andy was pleased when Miranda came to her. She pulled the woman into her lap and spent a long moment savoring the feel of her lover’s body.

‘Some things have happened since Emily and Sam left last evening.”

Before Miranda could speak, Andy continued, “They are both safe.”

Miranda relaxed visibly after Andy’s assurance, so she slid the older woman off her lap so she could better see Miranda’s face as she spoke.

“Last night, Sam discovered a connection between the conspiracy to destroy you and a scheme to dethrone Queen Amelia.”

Miranda’s eyes widened, but she kept quiet, wanting to hear the rest of what Andy had to say.

Andy went on to explain the plot to frame Mia for embezzling more than four billion dollars from the Genovian treasury.

“Sam, with the help of another hacker, managed to restore the embezzled funds making it appear that nothing untoward occurred. Sam believed that things were going to come to a head when the Elias Clark quarterly report was released tomorrow.”

“It feels like there’s a but in there somewhere,” Miranda pointed out.

“It appears that they discovered Sam’s interference earlier than we’d hoped.

After she dropped Emily off, some men followed Sam. She thought she’d lost them but was confronted on a subway train by four men, one of which held a Genovian diplomatic passport.

She managed to successfully extricate herself from the situation; then, she came to see me.

She believes, and I concur, that the conspirators have gone to Plan B.”

“Plan B,” Miranda said, sounding concerned.

“I think they hoped to kidnap Sam and force her to undo her work, but once they discovered it was irreversible, I believed they would have killed her.”

“They’ve certainly proven themselves capable of such barbarous acts,” Miranda replied bitterly.

“Sam isn’t concerned about herself, but she is worried about Queen Amelia, so she is heading to Genovia later tonight.”

Andy took a deep breath before she said her next words, “And I’d like you and Emily to go with her.”

“Absolutely not,” Miranda replied fiercely.

Andy was not surprised by the intensity of Miranda’s response, so instead of countering her fiance’s strong reaction, she went in a completely different direction.

“I have something I want you to see,” Andy said, reaching into her attache’. She handed Miranda the documents then waited for her to review them.

“Happy anniversary,” Andy said when Miranda reached their marriage license.

When Miranda looked up, tears were threatening to spill from her eyes.

“Are you OK?” Andy asked, voice full of concern.

Miranda took several moments to compose herself before saying, “I wish with everything that I am that this was true. That I had you by my side during the worst years of my life.”

Andy grabbed both of Miranda’s hands and gave her a sad smile before saying,” Miranda look at me.

I would give all that I have for that to be true, but know that from the moment we met, you’ve become my first priority. Protecting you and your daughter’s is now my only concern.

That’s why I need you someplace safe.”

“I can’t leave the twins,” Miranda practically pleaded.

”Do you trust me,” Andy asked.

Miranda’s shoulders relaxed before replying, ”You know that I do.”

” I promise you that I will protect them with everything I have.”

” Including my life,” she added to herself.

Miranda took a deep breath then let out a cleansing exhale then said, “I do trust you, my love.”

Then she moved back on Andy’s lap before kissing her wife deeply.

When they came up for air, Miranda wondered,” Did you tell Sam to change my name to Sachs.”

” No, she figured that part out all on her own,” Andy replied.

” She knows you well.” Miranda said.

” Better than me,” she did not add.

Andy stroked Miranda’s cheek before saying,” After I proposed to Sam, we planned to head up to Boston to tell her adopted family.

The night before we left, I had a dream about a mystery woman. In my dream, I knew this woman would become the love of my life. I couldn’t see her face, but she had these amazing blue eyes.”

Miranda drew in a sharp breath as she remembered the moment her eyes first met Andy’s.

Something in the other woman’s warm brown orbs had felt so familiar. It was if she’d always known them.

”Maybe we were together in another life or another world,” Miranda breathed her voice full of wonder.

” I like the thought of us being together in other worlds,” Andy said.

When Andy looked back at Miranda, what she saw stole her breath.

” I need you right now,” The older woman said.

Andy stood, pulling Miranda with her. Miranda wrapped her legs around Andy’s waist as the younger woman picked her up then put her back down on her back. Miranda released her hold around Andy’s waist but kept her legs spread wide, offering easy access.

Andy took full advantage, kissing Miranda deeply while reaching into what she realized was a pair of her own yoga pants. When she encountered no panties, she smiled at the older woman and saw a blush creep up here cheeks.

“None of that, Love,” Andy admonished.

“Never feel embarrassed about how we feel about each other.”

Miranda had just enough time to nod her head before Andy’s fingers began to probe her outer lips.

“God, I’m wet,” Miranda whispered more to herself than to her partner.

She let out an audible sigh as she fell herself, penetrated deeply.

Miranda pushed her hips up to meet Andy’s thrusts wishing she’d taken the time to strip out of her clothes first.

“Andy’s clothes,” She corrected certain now why she’d chosen not to wear panties. This moment had been on her mind all day, and now Andy was inside of her where she belonged.

That was her last coherent thought for a while.

Later after each woman was fully sated, the couple lay naked and in each other arms still on the couch in their study. Miranda was tracing shapes on Andy’s chest when Andy spoke, “I’ll miss you.”

Miranda felt tears sting her eyes at Andy’s words. She hated being separated for even a few hours, so she wasn’t sure how she would deal with days, maybe even weeks apart.

“I’ll miss you too,” Miranda said, feeling the need to comfort as much as she needed to be comforted.

Miranda buried her face in Andy’s neck, breathing deeply, trying her best to commit this moment to memory.

After they showered together, Andy helped Miranda pack for the trip. Andy smirked at the number of her own items that ended up in Miranda’s bag but wisely chose not to comment further.

As they were having dinner together, Andy brought up something she’d meant to bring up earlier.

“Sam is worried that Emily’s apartment is still being watched.”

When Miranda looked up, Andy explained the clandestine plan to get Miranda’s eldest daughter to the airport undetected and what she needed Miranda to do to make it happen.

After dinner, Miranda picked up the new iPhone that Sam had sent home with Andy. With just a moment’s hesitation, she dialed a familiar number then waited for it to be answered.

” Hello,” came the voice of her former employee.

” Roy.”

” Miranda,” Roy said tentatively.

”It’s good to hear your voice,” Miranda said.

Roy’s voice was thick with emotion when he spoke again,” I’m glad to hear you too.”

”You had me worried, you know,” the former Marine said voice cracking a little.

Before Miranda could respond, Andy walked into the room, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

”I never intended to make anyone worry,” Miranda said in a heartfelt tone.

”I know,” he said before clearing his throat.

After a moment of silence, Roy spoke clearly wanting to move the conversation into safer territory, “Is there something that I can do for you.”

Miranda was struck by how much she’d missed his calming presence in her life.

She outlined what she needed from him, and he quickly agreed to help.

After the call, the two women sat together in silence, content to enjoy the little time they had left before they needed to head to New Jersey airport where the company jets were hangared.

“I have something for you,” Andy said, getting up and walking towards her desk. She reached into her attache’ and came out with a pair of small velvet boxes. She walked back over, then said, “I would like to make this official.”

Miranda watched as Andy opened both boxes, revealing a pair of elegant wedding bands made of platinum and featuring a tasteful row of diamonds.

Miranda placed her hand over her mouth when she saw two C’s and E carved inside of her wedding band.

“I know that they are a part of you, and I promise to love them as much as I love you.”

Andy took the ring and slipped it onto Miranda’s finger saying, “I intend to do this again when we have our family together.”

Taking her queue, Miranda took the other ring and slid it on to Andy’s left ring finger.

“I accept that Lily and Sam are your family, and I want to share our family for the rest of my life.”

The two women consecrated their words with a kiss.

The trip to the airport was uneventful with Andy piloted them in her Tesla Model X. On Sam’s advice, she’d changed cars and took a different route to Teterboro. She checked her rear and side cameras the entire trip but saw no sign they were being followed. After a brief stop at the security gate, they were allowed to drive directly into the companies hanger.

They were met by a couple of members of the ground crew who took Miranda’s luggage and loaded them aboard the Gulfstream. Andy walked her wife over the pilot and introduced them.

“Harold, this is my wife, Miranda.

Miranda, this is Harold Lancaster, your pilot tonight.

Harold’s been with us since he retired from the Airforce.

Miranda smiled at the man who clearly recognized her.

“How’s the weather?” Andy asked, moving past her revelation with ease.

“Severe Clear,” he answered, referring to ideal flight conditions.

“We even have a twelve-knot tailwind, so we’ll make the flight in a little under eight hours.”

“I’ll let you get back to your preparations,” She said to the former Air Force Major.

He dipped in cap then climbed the airstairs into the sleek corporate jet.

The two women looked around, realizing that they were now relatively alone. Andy put her hands around Miranda’s waist, pulling them close. They kissed but kept it light, not wanting to restart that fire with no place to quench it save the back of the Tesla.

A moment later, a black Maybach pulled into the hangar. When Emily got out of the car, Miranda could tell something was off.

“Are you alright,” Miranda asked, walking over and placing a reassuring hand on her daughter’s shoulder.

“We picked up a tail just after I picked her up,” Roy said, joining the conversation.

“There were three black SUVs. I did my best the lose them, but they were all over us.”

“What happened?” Andy asked, stepping up next to Miranda.

“All of a sudden, they were surrounded by cops cars,” Emily answered.

Before the couple could ask any more questions, Sam arrived riding a sleek black Zero S.R. electric motorcycle.

She took off her helmet, and all eyes turned her way.

“I assume we have you to thank for the rescue,” Emily said.

“Well, for some reason, their OnStar reported that all three cars were stolen,” Sam said with a smirk.

“Thank you for looking after Emily,” Miranda said, pulling Roy into a warm hug.

Roy stiffened for a moment, surprised having never made physical contact with his former boss before.

He quickly relaxed, hugged her back, saying, “Anytime, Miranda.”

They waived goodbye as the former Marine got into the Maybach and drove away into the night.

Emily said goodbye to Andy and was surprised when her new stepmother pulled her into a warm embrace. When she got to the top of the stairs, she looked back at her mother and Andy and was pleased to see how they clearly loved each other. She turned away before her own desire to be loved like Andy loved her mother could cloud the sweet moment.

Andy grabbed Sam, pulled her close, and whispered, “Take care of my girls and send me everything you have on Gregg Brant” into her ear.

Sam gave her a solemn nod before grabbing her duffle and getting on the plane.

Left alone, the women just stared at each other for a very long moment — neither woman wanting to make the first move toward their unwelcomed separation.

“I’ve lived most of my life without you, and yet I can’t stand the thought of not having you near me for a single day,” Miranda said.

Andy gave a watery smile before saying, “You are my heart, Miranda, and I will always come back to you.”

Andy pulled Miranda into her arms, placing a gentle kiss to the top of Miranda’s head.

“I love you, and I will do whatever it takes to protect Caroline and Cassidy.”

They shared a long sweet kiss before finally breaking apart. Andy wiped a tear from Miranda’s cheek before saying, “If you don’t go now, I won’t be able to let you go.”

Andy stayed long enough to watch the Gulfstream take off climbing fast until it disappeared into inky darkness.

As she turned away from the hander door, her strides were purposeful, now that Miranda was safely away, she had work to do.

AN: I think Miranda and Sam are going to have some interesting conversations on the way to Genovia. I wanted to add a little levity before we got to the sad goodbye, for now, so good job, Anna. The only good thing about goodbye, in this case, is that it isn’t permanent. Expect the reunion to be extra sweet. Speaking of reunions, I can feel Sam bouncing on the balls of her feet, waiting to see Mia again. Next chapter, you’ll get to see a little of what Sam loves so much. I hope you enjoyed this update and let me hear what you think.

Chapter Text

18.

Sam felt agitated as the big corporate jet made its final turn lining up at the end of the seven thousand foot runway. She knew her unease had nothing to do with the jets' upcoming battle with gravity. No, she was not fond of flying, but having a firm understanding of the fundamental physics as well as the statistics surrounding the relative safety of air travel were enough for her.

Her anxiety tonight was acutely focused on events unfolding more than four thousand miles east. She hated it, but there was very little she could do to influence events beyond what she’d already done. Worse still, she’d yet to hear anything from either Mia or Allie since sending her frantic warning, hours ago.

She ignored the desire to recheck her phone, knowing she would have felt it vibrate with an incoming call or message.

Instead, she did the math in her head one more time.

A plane leaves New Jersey going 500 knots with a 35-knot tailwind headed to the Genovian capital 4228 nautical miles away. If Genovia is 6 hours ahead of your time zone, what time will you land?

Sam blew out a breath of frustration as her math told her the same thing it had the three previous times she'd done this little exercise. The best case would have them landing in Genovia six minutes before two in the afternoon local time.

"Fuck," she cursed quietly resenting the vagaries of time and space.

Needing a distraction, she pulled out her laptop, smiling with satisfaction as the machine booted in less than two seconds. After it automatically connected to the jet's wifi, she logged into her personal cloud server and accessed the files under the directory labeled "The Priestly Affair."

She searched through her file indexing system until she found every file associated with Miranda's first husband and his corporation. With that done, she bundled the data into a 7z encrypted and compressed file format. She posted the file to Andy's cloud storage account then opened her secure mail account.

She composed a message to Andy from her Athena account, letting her that the deed was done. At the bottom of the email, she included six emojis that, in certain circles, were understood to mean being fingered to orgasm. It was a crude but useful code letting Andy know to use the date and time of their first time having sex to unlock the file.

The code worked because only she and Andy knew that the MIT Clock Tower had struck midnight at the exact moment that Andy had sent her over for the time.

With that done, she thought about trying to get some rest. Just after the plane reached cruising altitude, Miranda and Emily had disappeared into the rear bedroom, presumably with the same idea in mind.

Sam laid her head back on the comfortable couch, but after ten minutes, she knew that sleep was not likely to come. She briefly considered her usual method of getting to sleep. It certainly would have been the first time she'd orgasmed on this plane both alone or with Andy, but Mia was so close she wanted the real thing,

With her decision made, she turned her mind to reciting as many digits of Pi that she could recall.

She was approaching the ten-thousandth digit when her attention was drawn to the buzzing her phone. She quickly reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. Her brow furrowed as an unknown number came up on her screen. Usually, Sam only answered numbers that were stored in her contacts, but something told her to take a chance, so she hit accept.

"Hello, Samantha," came Mia's smooth, cultured voice.

"Are you OK?" Sam asked, unable to hide her concern.

"There was an incident, but thanks to your timely warning, Allie was able to keep me perfectly safe."

Sam thought there was more to the story than Mia was letting on, but knowing Mia was unharmed was more than enough for now.

"I'm glad you're safe," Sam said, feeling some of the tension leave her body for the first time in what felt like days. She knew that she would not be able to truly relax until she was in Mia's arms, where she belonged.

"Who's phone is this," Sam asked, remembering the gravity of their situation.

"Don't worry; I borrowed it from one of the maids. We are at," Mia began, but Sam cut her off.

"Mia, don't. We can't be sure no one else is listening."

Mia was quiet for a moment before saying, "We are in the place where I first kissed you. Meet me there as soon as you can."

"I will, baby, I promise," Sam said.

The line was quiet for a moment as both women tried not to say all of the things they wanted to say.

"I've missed you," Sam said, breaking the silence.

"Oh, My Samantha, you have no idea," Mia replied, her silky tone returning.

Sam felt a shiver go down her spine at Mia's use of her full name. She tried not to let her mind drift to the last time the Queen had spoken her name like that.

She failed as memories of her hands tied to bedposts with Hermes scarves caused her to close her eyes and bite her lip to keep from moaning into the phone.

"Are you thinking about the hotel in Marce, because I am," Mia said silkily.

"Yes," Sam said, knowing Mia could hear her desire in just that one single word.

"Good, because I have plans for you that will make France seem positively pedestrian."

The line fell silent, and Sam could tell that someone else had entered the room.

When she came back, Mia was all business, "I will have your flight met. I look forward to a productive exchange of ideas.

And other things," Mia said that last part just above a whisper.

After the call ended, Sam made her way to the cockpit to inform the pilot of their change in destination.

He assured her that they had the range and that with the current wind speed, the extra distance would only add half an hour to their flight time.

When she returned to her seat, Sam was surprised to see Miranda sitting next to her abandoned place.

"Couldn't sleep either," Sam said, walking over to the wet bar and making them both a drink.

"No," Miranda said, but did not elaborate.

"Macallan OK," Sam asked after pouring herself two fingers of the stout Irish whiskey.

"Rocks, please," Miranda agreed.

She poured the same amount into a crystal tumbler then walked both drinks over to her friend's new wife. Sam knew that while the couple had not officially stood before the Justice of the Peace, that Andy would soon rectify that condition.

"Thank you," Miranda said, taking the offered glass.

Sam took her seat on the plush couch, sitting rather close to the older woman. Sam had a feeling that Miranda wanted to talk and that she'd prefer their conversations remain private.

Sam took a long pull from her glass, deciding it was prudent to let the former editor make the first move.

"Do you resent my relationship with Andy?" Miranda asked.

Sam smiled at the other woman knowing that this wasn't really the topic that was keeping Miranda up tonight.

"I accepted after our engagement ended that eventually, we would both find love again.

I will admit that it helps that I found someone first," Sam admitted.

"Queen Amelia.

"Tell me about her?" Miranda asked.

Sam could not help her smile as she organized her thoughts.

"She's the kindest person that I've ever met, but not in a sappy way.

Don't get me wrong; she can be sappy.

It's more like when you are in need; she doesn't always give you the help you want, but she gives you the kind of help you really need.

I've seen how she gives her time, visiting sick children, then spending time with their families, lifting their spirits in the process. For most, that would be enough, but Mia visits with the doctors and the hospital administrators to ensure they have everything they need to make those kids well again.

I wish our leaders would show event a hint of that kind of compassion.

She listens to people and really hears what they have to say. I know some politicians can fake it, but she gets invested. She’s always trying to figure out a way to make things better for her people.

“The people come first,” she’s always saying.

 

I'm in awe of how she makes people feel just by being in her presence. The way they light up; It makes their whole day."

Miranda smiled, thinking she could see that effect in real-time written all over Sam’s face.

"When we're together, I feel whole," Sam said wistfully.

Miranda nodded, having just recently discovered that sensation herself.

Andy made her feel like...

"Like yourself," Miranda realized.

Even with the birth of her girls and Emily's return, there was still had something missing.

Something vital.

Then Andy arrived in her life at the moment Miranda most needed her.

She couldn’t help but think that was not a condense.

Things were not perfect yet, she still needed to get the twins back, but because of Andy for the first time in years, she had hope.

It pleased Miranda to hear Sam talk about the woman that had so clearly captured her heart. It wasn't just about easing any lingering guilt she felt about displacing the young woman from Andy's heart; she genuinely cared for the irreverent hacker who was fast becoming a close friend.

“Miranda Priestly did not make friends, but apparently, Miranda Sachs was a friend magnet,” She thought, smiling to herself.

“'What?" Sam asked, seeing Miranda’s reaction.

After a brief mental debate, she decided that trust had to go both ways.

"I was just thinking that it was nice to have friends again."

Sam returned her smile before saying, "the feeling is mutual.”

They both fell quiet for a moment as each woman took a healthy sip of the twelve-year-old scotch whiskey.

The conversation flowed between the new friends as the first two fingers of the amber liquid were replaced by two more.

Feeling quite mellow, Miranda finally got around the question she really wanted to ask.

"Can I ask you a personal question?"

Sam raised an eyebrow, considering the older woman for a long moment before saying, "Shoot."

"When you and Andy were together was she," Miranda began, but quickly ran out of steam, unsure how to complete that sentence.

Sam laughed before saying, "You want to know if Andy was the top in our relationship."

Miranda nodded then took another long pull deciding she apparently wasn't drunk enough to have this conversation after all.

"Yes," Sam said with no hint of embarrassment.

"Before I met Andy, I was always the more aggressive partner. I was cocky and brash, and I was a complete fraud.

My parents died when I was pretty young, so you might say I had a distinct fear of abandonment."

Miranda reached her hand out and covered the younger woman's hand hearing the genuine pain in Sam's voice.

"Andy took one look at me and saw through all of my bullshit. She taught me that there was strength in allowing yourself vulnerable.

After she made me drop all my false bravado, she saw me. The me that was underneath, and she loved the woman she saw there.

I rediscovered who I truly was, thanks to Andy.”

Miranda was silent for a long moment, overwhelmed by both the strength and wisdom in the young woman sitting before her.

Sam freed one of her hands to wipe tears from her eyes, but she held onto Miranda's hand with the other.

"What bothers you more, that you were submissive to Andy, or how much you enjoyed it.?" Sam asked.

Miranda felt her cheeks warm, thinking of how she’d felt when Andy had lifted her off the sofa; how the younger woman had preceded to fuck her like no one had ever done.

She took another drink of the Macallan in a failed attempt to cover her growing blush.

"Or is it because it doesn't fit with your Devil in Prada persona?"

Miranda laughed bitterly at the old moniker before saying, "I was never that woman.

The business world only has a few ways to categorize powerful women, and none of them are flattering.

I will admit that your description of your relationships before Andy had a familiar ring.

I saw my prior relationships as a form of psychological warfare and when they inevitably ended,

I always managed to extricate myself with little real damage done.

This time I have no defenses, and it frankly scares the hell out of me."

Sam gave Miranda a soft smile before saying, "With Andy, there is no defense.

She took one look at a nineteen-year wanna-be badass, and she saw the scared little girl underneath. She never once used that knowledge against me. She made me see the real strength that I had inside.

"But it ended," Miranda hated to point out.

"That's how Andy and Mia are a lot alike.

Andy did what was best for both of us, even if it wasn't what I wanted at the time. She chose the hard thing because she knew it was the right thing."

Miranda took the words in and knew it had the ring of truth. Andy would always do the right thing, even when it caused temporary harm.

"So, is Mia like Andy in other ways?" Miranda asked, voice full of cheek.

"Oh, no, I'm not nearly drunk enough to have that conversation," Sam said with a laugh.

The two talked for a while longer as Sam told Miranda all she needed to know about Genovia and, especially, the beautiful coastal town of Arendale.

"I think I could sleep know," Miranda finally said after seeing the time.

As both women stood, Sam pulled Miranda into a warm hug. The former Miranda Priestly stiffened, but only for a moment. She relaxed into her friend's grasp, feeling like a close friendship had just been carved in stone.

"Thank you," Miranda whispered into Sam's ear.

“Anytime,” Sam replied before placing a gentle kiss on Miranda’s cheek.

As she walked to the bedroom at the rear of the plane, she felt a new lightness with each step. She slipped through the door and found Emily in the bed, still asleep.

She slipped off her shoes then climbed under the covers. Her eldest daughter rolled over and threw an arm around her waist. Miranda smiled, thinking how strange their journey was in getting to here. She closed her eyes and joined her eldest daughter in sleep.

Miranda woke to daylight streaming into the Gulfstream's cabin. From experience, she knew it could be difficult to judge time on transcontinental flights, but her internal clock was telling her that she's slept just under six hours.

She looked down and smiled at the redheaded woman currently snuggled against her chest.

"How odd," she thought, wondering why she'd never caught on to the similarities between Emily and the twins.

The head on her chest popped up, and the look of surprise on Emily’s face was almost comical. Before she could apologize, Miranda pulled her head back down to her chest, saying, "I never had much chance to do this with you, so indulge me."

She felt Emily relax as she ran a hand through her red locks.

"Luckily for you, your Grandfather did not go grey into his seventies." Miranda pointed out.

Emily tilted her head, looking up at Miranda.

"I never spoke to either of my parents after your father's death, but I did read the letters my mother sent, and I may have posted a few letters of my own after the twins were born.

I blamed them for losing you, but part of me wonders if things would have been different if I had just been a little stronger."

"I suppose things worked out as you found your way into my life after all,” Miranda said.

"When I started at Runway, I certainly could not have pictured a day where you would have your arms wrapped around me.

Well, maybe around my neck." Emily concluded with a snort.

"It took me a long time to realize just how funny you are," Miranda said in between her own laughter.

"I was far too scared to crack jokes around you for a long time," Emily pointed out.

"What changed?" Miranda wanted to know.

"Seeing you with the twins. I got to see a different side of you, and it changed the way I thought about you. I finally saw you as a woman and not the legend that I revered.

After that, It was easier to be myself around you."

Miranda thought about that for a moment before saying, "I think that is when I started to like you."

Emily's laughter filled Miranda's ears, making the older woman smile.

"It certainly did not feel that way," Emily said, getting her amusement under some control.

"Of course, I couldn't let the rest of the staff know that I played favorites."

"Of course not," Emily agreed with a smirk.

Deciding to take advantage of her mother's sudden desire to cuddle, Emily lay her head back down.

She listened as her mother's heart rate slowed to the point Emily was fairly certain she'd fallen back to sleep.

She was therefore surprised when Miranda spoke, "I should have taken your offer to help after the custody hearing.

I'm sure I caused you an extraordinary amount of worry."

Emily held back her snort this time, sensing the earnestness in both Miranda's words and tone.

"I do worry about you, Mom," Emily said.

Miranda squeezed Emily tightly, hearing those words from her daughter's mouth for the first time meant so much more to her than she could ever say.

When the pilot announced that they would be landing in just over an hour, both mother and daughter reluctantly got out of bed.

They took turns showering and dressing in the luxurious bathroom before going back into the main cabin.

They were greeted by an ebullient Sam, a spread of breakfast pastries, and a carafe of good coffee that smelled divine.

"Sleep well?" Miranda asked Sam.

"I got a few hours after our chat," Sam responded with a grin.

When Miranda grinned back, Emily asked, "What did I miss?"

Both women chuckled but did not directly answer Emily's question causing the ad exec to narrow her eyes in consternation.

Sam laughed before saying, “I’m not sure you’d be up for a discussion about your mother’s sex life.”

Emily wrinkled her nose, then said, ‘I would have to agree with that statement.”

Miranda and Sam’s laugher was only interrupted by the pilot announcing that they would be landing momentarily.

The landing was smooth as the corporate jet touched down onto Genovian soil.

As the plane maneuvered into an enormous hangar, Miranda watched Sam positively vibrate with nervous energy. The young woman was out of her seat, moving towards the air door before the plane came to a complete stop.

Miranda smiled as she watched Sam bounce on the balls of her feet as she waited for the door to open.

Miranda, with Emily on her heels, walked to the door just as Sam took off down the stairs.

If Miranda wasn't watching, she's not sure she would have believed it when, Sam tough as nails Dean, ran down the stairs and threw herself into the arms of the Queen of Genovia.

For her part, Queen Mia received Sam happily swinging her around before planting a toe-curling kiss on Sam's lips.

"Oh, My," Miranda said, finally getting a good look at Queen Mia's familiar face.

"Oh, My," Emily said at the same moment, but for an entirely different reason as she caught sight of a striking woman in a rather stylish military uniform.

AN: I am so glad to have finally reunited Sam and Mia. It won't be long until all of our ladies are back together, but Andy has some things to do in America first. I’d envisioned this conversation between Sam and Andy months ago, and I think it came off as good as I envisioned in my mind. Recently I’ve taken to recording my thoughts about this story because most of my thoughts occur when I’m not near a computer.

I’ve done that with the first half of chapter 19, so wish me luck that it turns out as good as I hope. The part at the end with Miranda and Emily was going be reasonably short, but the conversation just kept going in my head, so I hope you like it.

This chapter took three or four attempts to get it where it ended up, so let me know what you think about it.

I’m on a roll now, and I’m hoping that recording my chapter ideas will keep things going.

Chapter Text

AN: Warning for mentions of suicide and scenes of violence.

19

Andy opened her eyes before reaching a hand to the other side of the bed. When she found the other side of the bed empty and the sheets cold, she finally remembered that Miranda was not there.

"Damn," She thought, second-guessing her decision to send the woman away.

She quickly banished that thought knowing that disrupting the conspiracy against Miranda and the Genovian Crown, put them all in grave danger. The attack against Sam and what they'd planned for Miranda were real proof that these people had no compunction against violence.

With Miranda, Sam, and Emily safely away she knew that she needed to focus on protecting Miranda's twins

 

She checked the clock groaning when she confirmed she'd slept less than four hours. Despite the short period that she and Miranda had shared a bed, Andy had already grown accustomed to falling asleep with the older woman in her arms.

She slipped out of bed, knowing that continuing to lie there would do her no good.

Instead, she headed over to her oversized chair and ottoman, retrieving her laptop as she went.

She powered up her computer then logged into the Aphrodite anonymous email account. The first thing she saw was the message from Sam's Athena account.

She let out a snort of laughter as she interpreted the meaning of the emojis lining the bottom of the message.

She opened up her cloud server and found the encrypted file Sam had left there. When she clicked on the file, she was greeted with a dialog box requesting a fourteen-digit code.

Her mind drifted back to a day-long ago when she'd met a brash younger version of the Samantha she now knew.

The young woman had been full of herself. Of course, that attitude may have been what had allowed the nineteen-year-old to hit on a Harvard MBA student five years her senior. Despite their age difference, Andy had enjoyed their conversation and had unexpectedly found herself in Sam's dorm room, fucking her brains out just as the clock struck midnight.

She typed in the date and exact time the moment had occurred and was pleased to see the files unlocked.

She began reviewing the files and was once again impressed with how well Sam organized information. The Brant company had nearly collapsed after going all-in on mortgage-backed securities six months ahead of the market collapse known as the Great Recession.

Only an infusion of Greg's own money saved the company from certain bankruptcy, but it left him personally vulnerable if the company faltered again.

It wasn't until his bet that the Elias Clark stock would drop after Miranda's ouster, that the company fully recovered.

Planning on profiting from Miranda's misery a second time, Greg leveraged his company again. This time he'd purchased almost a quarter of the company's shares expecting to make a significant profit when the company made a surprising return to profitability.

Because of her and Sam's interference, the Brant Company had only eight hours to live and judging from his most recent emails, Greg had no idea of the freight train barreling down at him.

Andy felt no guilt about what was going to happen; Greg had made his choices.

Her focus was on how to use today's events to gain leverage. Leverage she could use to keep the twins safe and get them back into Miranda's arms.

Hours later, with her research done, Andy felt her course of action was clear. Her plan was audacious, but if she pulled it off, the rewards would make it worth the risk.

Later that morning, Andy walked into her office and was greeted by her new first assistant. The young woman was sporting a smile that matched the brilliance of the diamond she now wore dring on her left hand.

"Way to go, Kate," Andy thought happy that her former first assistant and current Deputy CEO had not disappointed the young woman standing before her.

"Good morning, Anna," Andy said in greeting.

"It has been a perfect morning," Anna replied, practically glowing.

Andy stifled a laugh at the near giddiness coming from the usually reserved woman.

"Can you let Kate know that I would like to see her in my office at her earliest convenience," Andy said.

"Of course, Andy," Anna responded, unable to wipe the smile off of her pretty face.

Ten minutes later, Kate breezed into Andy's office and presented herself as requested. Anna came in after her and poured them both a cup of coffee made according to both women's preferences. They both thanked the blonde woman as she handed over the gourmet brew. Andy watched as Anna placed a soft hand on Kate's shoulder, and the two exchanged happy smiles.

As Kate turned her attention towards her boss, Andy gave her deputy a knowing smile.

"What?" Kate asked.

"I was just thinking it was about damn time and that I'm happy for you both," Andy said, standing and approaching the woman she thought of as a friend.

Kate also stood, allowing Andy to pull her into a warm embrace.

"Congratulations," She said into Kate's ear.

"I'm happy for the both of you," Andy added.

"Thank you, Anna, and I are very happy," Kate said, recovering from the unexpectedly warm exchange.

"I bet," Andy thought, spying what looked suspiciously like a hickey peeking out from Kate's high colored blouse.

Andy offered Kate a seat, signaling that it was time to get back to business.

"I'm thinking of making a major acquisition today, and I'd like your opinion," Andy said.

"A major purchase," Kate echoed, reaching for her pen and pad.

"I believe Elias Clark is ripe for a takeover."

Kate looked thoughtful for a moment considering previous conversations they'd had about spreading the company's footprint into both digital and more traditional forms of media.

There were some real benefits both women knew given how much they spent on advertising.

"Why, Elias Clark," Kate asked?

"Our companies have a very similar customer base. Several of their brands still have strong readership despite their management troubles. The company is well-positioned to take advantage of both digital and social media platforms.

Kate took off her glasses and moved a little closer to Andy's desk before saying, "Andy, I would not be doing my job if I did not bring this up."

Andy mirrored Kate's action leaning in closer, feeling certain where Kate was going next.

"I understand Miranda Priestly is currently a guest in your home. Is this a business decision of a personal one?" Kate asked.

Andy was actually pleased that Kate had the stones to confront her on this issue.

"Sachs," Andy said.

"Pardon?" Kate asked, not getting the non-sequitur.

"Miranda Sachs is more than just a house guest; she's the person I intend to spend the rest of my life with."

"Oh," Kate said because she could think of anything else to say.

Well, she could have said that Anna was correct as usual, but she wisely kept that information to herself.

"As for your question, this deal is both business and personal to me."

Andy held up a hand when Kate opened her mouth to interject.

"That is why I asked you for your honest take. If you tell me that it's not in the company's best interest, I will proceed but, with my personal funds."

Kate sat back in her chair for a moment as she absorbed the meaning of Andy's words.

Anna appeared to be correct again; Andy was grooming her for something more substantial in the future.

"If she does, I should promote Anna into this position," Kate thought, realizing her fiance's ability to read people and situations was an invaluable resource.

Kate nodded her head, agreeing to Andy's terms and awed by the trust her boss was placing on her narrow shoulders.

"Why today?" Kate asked

Before Andy could respond, Kate answered her own question, "You're expecting a weak earnings report."

Andy was thoughtful for a moment, weighing her next words carefully.

"I'll be honest with you, Kate, I have inside knowledge about today's report that leads me to believe that the report will not be a good one.

Kate was thoughtful for a moment before saying, "When we move forward, we'll need to wait until after the report was released to avoid the Department of Justice coming after us for insider trading."

Andy told Kate how much she appreciated the other woman's frank manner before adding, "My plan is dependent on the stock price dropping after the announcement allowing us to gain control of EIC for a quarter of what I think the company is worth."

"OK, let me run the numbers and perform my due diligence, and I'll get back to you with a recommendation," Kate said.

"Let's get back together around three," Andy said, dismissing Kate to do her research.

The rest of Andy's morning went by in a blur, leaving her very little time to think about the woman she already missed desperately.

By the time she broke for a late lunch, she'd done a halfway decent job of tacking her formidable to-do list. Andy knew that she'd let things slip of late, even postponing a meeting with her board, but Miranda needed her, and she needed to put her first.

She had long term plans that would allow her to take a step back from the eighty-plus hour work weeks she'd been putting in over the last few years.

Promoting Kate was just the first step in a process that would allow her to be more available to Miranda and her new family.

When Kate knocked on her door precisely at three, Andy felt like she would be able to leave work at a reasonable time, which was a necessity tonight.

As soon as Kate sat, she began to speak, "You were right, the fundamentals of the company are stronger than the current stock price would indicate.

The company is being managed into the ground, almost as if it was done on purpose.

I believe with the right leadership; the company can become profitable again in under two years.

Therefore, I recommend that the company purchase the shares necessary to control the company. We dismiss the current CEO Mr. Ravitz, the entire board of directors, and begin an immediate search for a new Editor in Chief for Runway Magazine."

 

I will take all of your recommendations, but hold off on beginning the search for a new EIC at Runway," Andy said.

Kate nodded her head sagely but chose not to comment before leaving Andy's office to begin her preparations.

It turned out the news was far worse than even Andy expected, with the company posting a record-breaking loss. The stock price began a precipitous drop allowing Kate to buy the necessary number of shares for far less than she'd budgeted.

Kate smiled to herself before picking up her phone and dialing a number.

"It's done," she reported to her boss.

Her next call was to a certain blonde sitting some forty feet away.

When the line was answered, she spoke, "I think we should get married this weekend."

"Acceptable," the woman said then hung up the phone causing Kate to laugh into the disconnected line.

 

Later, as Andy left work, she was the majority owner of the Elias Clark Company.

 

When she climbed into the back of her chauffeured Bently, she greeted her longtime driver then told him," We need to make a stop on the way home."

A half an hour later, Andy stood in front of a large Upper Eastside townhouse. She rang the bell, and a pleasant woman in her sixties answered the door.

"Is Mr. Brant home?" Andy asked, pleasantly.

"Martha, who's at the door," came a voice from inside the townhouse.

"Someone to see you," Martha answered, standing back to allow Andy in.

Andy put on her poker face as Miranda's first husband and the father of the twins stepped into view.

He gave her an odd look, but recovered before saying, "I wasn't expecting visitors tonight."

"I called your office, but they told me that you were working from home today. Since I believe our business is urgent, I decided to come to you."

Before Greg could formulate a response, Caroline and Cassidy came to investigate the unexpected guest.

Both girls gave Andy broad smiles causing the woman to smile back.

Greg looked back and forth between his girls and the woman standing before him, trying to figure out what he was missing.

"I'm sorry, but do we know each other?" Greg asked.

"No, we haven't. I'm Andy Sachs, and as I mentioned, there are matters that we need to discuss tonight."

"Why don't you girls go get yourself a snack, while Ms. Sachs and I talk in my study," Greg said.

"OK, Dad," Cassidy said, pulling her sister along with her.

"Bye, Andy," Caroline said over her shoulder.

Andy waived at the girls retreating forms before turning her attention back to their father.

"Let's talk in my study."

"Lead the way."

As she entered the study, Andy took a moment to appreciate the beautiful woodwork on the bookcases lined walls.

"Would you like a drink?" Greg asked, pulling Andy from her thoughts.

"Sparkling water if you have it," Andy responded.

He retrieved two bottles from a chiller before handing one over, then offering her a seat.

They sat in a pair of vintage leather wing chairs as Greg turned his full attention to his guest, "What can I do for you, Miss Sachs?

Andy had no intention of prevaricating said, "It's more about what I can do for you, Mr. Brant. And its Mrs."

"OK, I'll bite, What can you do for me, Mrs. Sachs."

Andy gave him a tight smile before offering, "I'm here to give you a chance to do the right thing when it comes to your former wife's access to her children."

"What is this?" Greg said as his face clouded with anger and something Andy thought might be guilt.

"The girl's mother, my former wife, died," Greg stated firmly, though Andy could hear the doubt in his voice.

"No, Mr. Brant, I can assure you that Miranda is very much alive and well."

"Do you know that for certain?" He asked.

"I can assure you that Miranda is perfectly safe. With no thanks to you," she felt compelled to add.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Greg asked though it was clear from his tone that he knew precisely what she meant.

"I am referring to your decision to kick Miranda when she was already down on the ground."

"You don't know what you're talking about," he countered.

"You took away all access to her children, just after she was fired from Runway," Andy pointed out, her anger rising to the surface.

"I knew the custody decision was difficult on her, but I wanted to do what was best for my girls."

Deciding she heard quite enough bullshit, Andy cut him off, saying, "Despite what you may tell yourself, we both know that isn't true."

Greg looked like he wanted to interrupt. Still, Andy plowed ahead, "I know about your scheme to profit from Miranda's dismissal from Runway and then again when Elias Clark suddenly returned to profitability today."

Greg stiffened at the mention of today's fiasco, then he stood and paced the room for a moment.

"I know how you conspired to drive your ex-wife and the mother of your children to commit suicide."

Greg stopped in his tracks, looking at Andy before saying, "What are you talking about; I know she took the custody hearing hard, but I can't be held responsible."

"I can't tell you how much is wrong with what you just said, but even if I accepted your twisted logic, it still doesn't excuse any of this," Andy said, reaching into her purse and producing the little black box that had almost cost Miranda her life.

"What is that?" Greg said, picking up the box and examining it.

"It prevents people in its proximity from getting real sleep, which over time, causes psychosis that can lead them to commit suicide."

"What's the connection with what happened to Miranda?" Greg asked.

"Someone put this box in the vent behind Miranda's bed."

"I, I've never seen that before. I got a call that said that Miranda had killed herself, but that wasn't supposed to happen. I just needed a little more time; then things could have gotten back to normal.

Now It's all falling apart."

Andy felt no sympathy for the man, but something was telling her that he was telling the truth.

"So tell me how it was supposed to go," Andy prompted,

"You have to understand," he began but was cut off.

"Don't tell me what I should or should not understand, Greg. Just because you weren't told the whole plan does not make you the good guy here.

You made a choice, and Miranda and your girls suffered because of it.

Now you're going to tell me what you know, but spare me the fucking excuses."

Greg swallowed hard before he gave it up.

Andy listened dispassionately as Greg Brant laid out what he knew of the conspiracy up to and including how today was supposed to go.

"After the stock price went up, I would sell my shares, and that would have been it for me. My company would be saved, and things could have gotten back to normal."

Andy ground her teeth at Greg's last words.

"And Miranda was just supposed to put her life back together like she hadn't been professionally and personally humiliated.

There is no way to give Miranda back those two years with her daughters. No way to undo the damage you've done to your daughters."

Greg put his head in his hands, clearly shaken.

"No, you don't get to feel sorry for yourself. Miranda came within a hair's breadth of losing her life," Andy said heatedly.

"And you're telling me that those at the heart of this tried to kill her?" Greg questioned.

"No, I'm telling you that your scheme almost cost your daughter their mother."

Greg looked like he was going to be sick, but he did his best to pull himself together.

"I want to be clear here. I know that what I did hurt Miranda, but I never agreed on putting that box in her home, nor did I want her killed."

"Well, It appears that your co-conspirators had other ideas."

He flinched at the term but said no more, apparently done defending his actions.

"It hardly matters now. It's all over."

Before she could say anything more, Greg stood again, seeming agitated again.

"What is it?" Andy asked.

When he didn't immediately respond, Andy gave him a few more minutes to process whatever had him so on edge.

"Greg," she finally said, breaking through the man's fog.

"Why did you come here tonight, Mrs. Sachs?" He asked.

"I came to offer you twenty dollars a share for your shares in Elias Clark."

Greg was silent for a moment while he did the math in his head, "That's a very generous offer considering where the stock ended today.

It's clear that you don't particularly like me, so I have to wonder why you are offering a drowning man a lifeline.

"I'm not offering you a lifeline.

I honestly don't care if you sink or swim.

What I am offering you is a chance to do the right thing."

Give custody of the girls back to Miranda."

Greg did not speak for several minutes as he retreated into his mind thinking hard.

"And what do you get out of this?" Greg asked.

"A chance to put a smile on my wife's face," Andy said.

"Well, that explains why you look like you want to take my head off," Greg pointed out.

After another long silence, the man spoke, "You may not believe this, but I am glad that Miranda isn't dead."

Greg seemed to make a decision before retrieving his phone.

When the line was answered, Greg spoke, "Robert, It's Greg Brant. I want you to draw up a new agreement giving Miranda and her spouse full custody of the girls; then, I want you to get it in front of a friendly judge."

There was a back and forth for a few moments until Greg said, "listen to me, Robert, I should never have kept the girls away from Miranda.

I know that now, so I need you to do what I ask."

Greg ended the call before turning his attention back to Andy.

"I want you to take the girls with you before you leave. I don't know what's going to happen next, but whatever it is, I want the girls safe."

Andy nodded, feeling her first stirring to empathy towards the man for the first time since they'd discovered his complicity in this scheme.

Greg stood, walked to the door then called for the girls.

Both girls came into the study and naturally gravitated towards Andy.

Andy could tell they wanted to ask how their mother was, so she looked at Cassisty then and Caroline before saying, "Girls, your mom is good."

"Have a seat, girls," Greg said.

Instead of going over to the couch, both girls chose to sit cross-legged at Andy's feet.

"I know that I told you that you're mom had died, but I was wrong."

Caroline looked like she was about to say something, but her sister placed a hand on her arm, causing her to remain quiet.

"I also know that the two of you have been unhappy being away from your mother. So I've decided that you should go back to living with your mother starting today."

The girls looked at Andy then at one another, not quite sure what to think about what their father had just said.

Andy placed a reassuring hand on both the girls' shoulders before saying, "Are you two OK with that."

Both girls looked at Andy earnestly before nodding their heads in unison.

"I want to see mom," Cassidy said,

"Why don't you girls go pack. I'm sure Andy and Martha will be willing to help you gather your things," Greg said.

"Andy, Is mom really OK?" Caroline asked once they were alone.

"Yeah, sweetheart, your mom is good. She's in Europe right now, but we'll join her as soon as we can."

The girls were a little disappointed they would not be seeing their mom today but were still upbeat about this sudden change in circumstances.

An hour later, the girls were packed, and with Martha's help, they took all of their things down to the foyer.

There they saw Greg having a conversation with his lawyer. Andy and Martha led the girls into the kitchen giving the two men time to finish their business.

A few minutes later, Greg came into the kitchen. He walked over to Andy, handed her a thick envelope, then said, "It's done, full custody with no restrictions."

He leaned in then said in a much quieter tone, "I am trusting you to keep them safe."

Andy looked at him for a long moment trying to decipher his thoughts before she nodded her agreement.

 

"I will see you two very soon," Greg said, kneeling before his daughters.

Caroline moved directly into his arms, hugging him fiercely. When Cassidy made no move, Andy placed a hand on her back, urging the girl forward.

Cassidy rolled her eyes at Andy, but took the hint and hugged her father.

Andy took the girls out onto the street and with her driver's help, quickly loaded their bags into the back of the Bentley, and they were driven away.

An hour later, Greg stood before the stove stirring the sauce for tonight's dinner when he heard his front door open and close.

"That smells good, I love a man who knows how to cook," his guest said before kissing him on the neck.

He turned his head enough to share a brief kiss on the lips before saying, "dinner will be ready in half an hour or so if you want to change."

 

"That sounds lovely. Are the girls sill joining us for dinner?"

"There was a change of plans," Gregg said.

"I didn't know they had plans for the night," She said.

Greg turned back toward her before saying, "The girls' schedule is not your concern."

"Quite right. I believe I'll have a shower before I change my clothes," she said frostily.

Nichole Deveraux ascended the stairs brushing off her annoyance at Greg's reaction to what she thought was an innocent question. In reality, she could not have cared less about them, but she had to keep up appearances.

On a hunch, she walked over to Caroline's room and pushed open the door. Something looked off to her, so she walked entirely into the room. When she inspected the girl's closet finding it half empty, she immediately stepped to Cassidy's room, finding it in a similar state.

Her mind quickly analyzed the situation before deciding on a new course of action.

With her mind made up, she moved quickly into Greg's room, retrieved a medium-sized Vuitton case, then began filling it with any clothing and toiletries she'd kept there. With that done, she found a bottle of cleaner, some rags, and a pair of nitrile gloves.

She stripped down her bra and panties, slipped on the gloves, then spent several minutes wiping down every surface in both the bedroom and bathroom.

She walked back into the closet, opened his wall safe, then transferred all of the cash into her bag. She went back for one more item, briefly inspecting its condition. Satisfied it was in good order, she made her way back down the stairs pausing on the bottom step.

She paused for a moment peering into the spacious kitchen.
When Greg moved towards the stove, Nichole padded into the kitchen. Greg only became aware of her presence when he spotted her reflection in the large chrome vent hood, but before he could turn, she shot him in the back of the head.

She calmly stepped back from the body, waiting several moments for any signs of life. Next, she checked for a pulse, and when she found none, she placed the weapon on the counter before wiping down the flat surfaces in the kitchen, dining room, and study. She made her way back upstairs and into the en-suite. She started the shower then stripped out of her bra and panties, leaving her gloves firmly in place.

 

She only stayed in the shower long enough to ensure that none of Greg's blood could be found on her body. Afterward, she dressed, put the wet towel in her case, then took the rolling luggage down to the garage, loading it into the back of her Mercedes SUV.

She grabbed her phone, chose a contact, and made a call.

 

"I just ended things with Greg, a little sooner than anticipated. I got away clean."

She listened for several moments before responding, "I understand, and I can be there this time tomorrow."

As she drove her car down Greg's street, Nichole did not look back.

Chapter Text

20.

Queen Amila Thermopolis Renaldi stood in a spacious private hanger waiting for the impressive corporate jet to come to a stop. With her were her cousin Allie and half a dozen discretely placed security personnel. Her head of security and another dozen men and woman were outside waiting to whisk them away on a moment’s notice.

As the door to the G650 began to lower, Mia had no doubt who would be the first to disembark. Her faith was rewarded when the young woman, who’d captured her heart, ran down the stairs, and threw herself into Mia’s open arms. Mia used Sam’s momentum to swing the other woman around before crashing her lips into Sam’s. She pushed her tongue forward and was gratified when Sam’s soft lips yielded. The kiss lasted just long enough to make a promise that she intended to keep.

Soon.

The look on Sam’s face made it clear that her message had been received and eagerly accepted.

Sam swayed on her feet for a moment, which did all sorts of good for Mia’s self-esteem. It also made her wish, for a second, that she was the kind of woman who could pick her girlfriend up from the airport alone.

She also regretted that her current duties would occupy a considerable amount of their time, delaying their much-anticipated reunion even further.

Putting thoughts of getting Sam out of her clothing aside, Mia turned her attention to her two other guests and caught a strange look on the iconic woman's face. As the other two women approached, she cleared, hoping to pull Sam out of her current state.

Sam shook her head to clear it, while Mia focused on the face that appeared in hundreds of editions of Runway Magazine. She’d never met Miranda Priestly, but having grown up in the States, she was well aware of who she was. She had even found the world's foremost fashion magazine quite useful during her transition Into the royals spotlight.

Allie stepped up next to Mia just in time for Sam to handle introductions.

“Your Majesty may I present Miranda Sachs and her daughter Emily Charlton.”

Mia’s eyes widened slightly, not having been informed of Miranda’s name change. She also noted the odd way Miranda was still looking at her.

“Miranda, Emily, her majesty Queen Amelia Thermopolis Renaldi and her cousin Duchess Alexandra Renaldi,” Sam continued.

Without missing a beat, both mother and daughter performed a charming curtsy highlighting their English roots.

Mia held out her hand, shook the hands of both women before saying, “As long as we are in informal settings, please call me Mia.”

“And I go by Allie,” The Duchess added, also shaking hands with the two newcomers.

Mia noted how her cousin appeared to hold onto the pretty redhead’s hand longer than was strictly necessary.

“I take it from your surname, Miranda, that you and Andy have cemented your bond.”

“Yes, though we have a desire for a more formal event in the near future.”

“Wonderful, There is a chapel on the grounds of Aren Hall where we’ll be staying. It is at your disposal should you have a use once Andy arrives," Mia added.

“Thank you, Mia,” Miranda said, touched by the gesture from a familiar stranger.

“I also take it from your reaction that Samantha failed to prepare you for my resemblance to your wife.”

Sam grimaced, making it clear that it had slipped the woman’s brilliant, but not omniscient mind.

“I must admit that it came as a momentary shock,” Miranda admitted.

“Our resemblance is a genetic quirk though we do share a common ancestry on our mother’s side of the family,” Mia clarified.

“I see,” Miranda said, feeling a little more sane as she was able to discern the subtle differences between the two women.

“Perhaps we should continue this conversation in the car,” Allie suggested, eager to move the group to a more secure location.

Mia knew that her head of security had a similar opinion, so she gave a subtle nod to the nearest member of her detail.

The slight motion of the Queen's head kicked off a series of well-rehearsed movements as the mechanisms of her security moved into gear.

The Queen and her guests were quickly ushered into one of several Land Rover Sentinels. The armored version of the venerable Range Rover was a favorite of European security services due to its ability to tackle almost any kind of terrain.

Miranda was impressed with both the speed and efficacy of the Queen’s security. She had, of course, been around these types in her former life, but never in the company of actual royalty. Fifteen minutes later, the convoy passed through the gates and onto the grounds of Aren Hall. The impressive Hall sat on a sprawling estate bounded by cliffs that overlooked what Miranda assumed was the Adriatic Sea.

She did not know much about Arendale or Genovia other than what she'd heard from Andy and Sam. The brief view of Arendale she'd seen during the trip, revealed a charming little community full of lovely terracotta-roofed buildings. Her mind was drawn away from the surroundings as she looked towards Emily, who appeared enamored by the very striking Allie Renaldi.

Sam, on the other hand, sat quietly next to Mia. She wondered what was going through the young woman’s mind until she realized she knew exactly what Sam was thinking. A little smile crossed her face when she saw Mia cover Sam’s hand with her own. The two shared a look that Miranda thought said all she needed to know about how the two women felt about each other. She looked away, suddenly feeling like she was intruding in a very private moment.

As the convoy of vehicles was driven under a portico, they were met by a retinue of uniformed butlers.

They were escorted into the building while the head butler got his staff moving in a precise ballet of motion.

The Queen led them into the impressive foyer stopping everyone in front of a pair of grand staircases. Miranda took a moment to take in the beautiful old-world charm of the grand palace.

 

“Aren Hall was originally built in 1871 at the direction of our three times Great Grandfather King Leopold the second as a gift to his young bride who was from Arendale.

The story goes that the beautiful young woman refused the King’s first offer of marriage because she did not want to move away from her family and ancestral home. The King, who was by then, was enamored with my three times Great- Grandmother Lucinda promised that he would build her a home on these grounds.

She agreed, and by the time Lucinda became Queen, Aren Hall had become a reality. Queen Lucinda lived at Aren Hall, never visiting the Royal Palace in Lexington until near the end of the ailing King's life. She stayed for the King's funeral and her own coronation as Queen Regent, but soon returned to Aren Hall were she lived out the remainder of her life.

After Queen Lucida’s death, the place fell into relative obscurity until it was pressed into service as the headquarters for the eastern front during the war to end all wars. When the Hall was pressed into service again during the second Great War, the Hall was razed to the ground by Mousaline’s retreating forces during a failed invasion.

After the war ended, our grandfather King Phillip, had the Hall rebuilt using the original plans. Thanks to meticulous notes taken by Queen Lucinda’s head butler, Robert Shaw, Aren Hall was restored to its original glory. Certain security upgrades were done during the Cold War and then again after the worldwide outbreak of terrorist attacks.”

“They did a remarkable job,” Miranda said.

“Thank you,” Mia responded.

For some reason, Mia left out how Allie had lived in the Hall until her parent’s untimely deaths. It did not feel like the time or place for that conversation, nor did she believe it to be her place to tell the story.

“The living quarters are in the east wing. Your luggage will be taken to your rooms on the second floor, but I’m afraid we have pressing business to discuss.”

Mia turned to Sam before saying, “I’m sorry, from keeping this from you, but an attempt was made on my life. As a result of, your warning Allie made sure I was never in any danger.”

Miranda watched as her young friend’s face first drained of color, then took on a look of such determination that it took her breath away.

I’ve called a meeting of my small council, which consists of my closest and most trusted advisors.

I would like all of you to join us, as the topic of conversation will touch directly upon the current security threat as well as the broader conspiracy.

I believe an exchange of ideas will go a long way to demystify our situation.”

Three heads nodded in unison with each woman eager to assist.

The Queen led them up to the second floor of the west wing, which turned out to be a nicely appointed if modern office space. They were led into a large conference room were the members of the small council all stood to greet them.

The Queen introduced her guests to the small council members saying, “Ladies, please allow me to introduce you to my grandmother, The Queen Mother Clarissa Renaldi, her former head of security Joseph Gallagher, my head of security Franklin Davenport, and my foreign minister Helena Wells.”

Next, Mia introduced her guests before calling the meeting to order.

The meeting began with Franklin Davenport’s rather dry recounting of the plot to hijack the Queen’s flight, including the imposter co-pilot’s refusal to confirm the story he’d told Allie at gunpoint. Franklin gave Allie a pointed look but got nothing back from the Duchess. The bottom line was that they were no closer to connecting the plot to Viscount Mabrey, though several in the room, including Mia, had little doubt of the man's culpability.

Helena went next, adding that they believed the Vicount was currently in his villa in the Swill Alps. Since she also ran the county’s spy service, she made it clear that his whereabouts were being actively monitored for the near future. All they knew of Nichole Devereux's whereabouts was that her passport had been scanned at Newark International Airport six weeks ago. Helena had friends at the FBI who were keeping a quiet eye out, but that was all for now.

When it was Sam’s turn, the hacker had already commandeered the displays in the room to show a presentation she’d created outlying their end things.

She spent the next several minutes explaining the plot to destroy Miranda so they could profit from the downfall of the Elias Clark company. She went on to explain, to stunned silence, how they’d used the insidious little device to drive Miranda mad.

The meeting continued as Sam got to the point that this group would be most interested in, which was the connection to the Viscount and his niece.

Mia looked towards Miranda feeling a connection to the other woman who was at the center of this utter mess. She knew that Miranda’s troubles were not necessarily her fault, yet she still felt her own culpability. Perhaps if she'd dealt more decisively with the Viscount and her traitorous second cousin, none of this would be happening.

The council was well aware of the Viscount's many attempts to medal in internal Genovian politics, including his suggestion that Nichole had a better claim to the throne despite unambiguous rules regarding succession outlined in the Genovian constitution.

Although the plot failed, it served another purpose, allowing Mia to identify those foolish enough to openly align themselves against the Crown.

It still bothered Mia how her America heritage had been used to suggest her loyalties lay with her former home. It was part of the reason she had not taken the Vicount on more directly. He was still popular among certain segments of the population, segments that, at the time, she could not afford to offend. The gloves were coming off, so she hoped that she had not waited too long.

“How much of this can we take to court.?” Franklin asked in an impatient tone.

Mia knew what the likely answer was, so she stepped in, turning to Sam and saying,“ Given the circumstances, is it fair to say that time was of greater importance than dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”

 

Sam gave her a grateful look before responding, “That would be correct, Your Highness.”

Mia could not help but smile at Sam’s forced formality suspecting that they weren’t fooling many. A look toward her grandmother confirmed her suspicions as the former Queen looked like she was trying hard not to roll her eyes.

“So we are back at square one,” Franklin commented, still focused on Sam.

“Far from it,” Mia said, coming to Sam’s defense. She did not like Franklin’s tone, which she made clear with her next words, “Mr. Davenport, without Samantha’s timely warning you would be searching the Ionian Sea attempting to recover my corpse right now.”

Mia’s words had the intended effect as Franklin appeared temporarily cowed.

“So, what happened next?” Joe asked in an attempt to get the meeting back on track.

“After reverse-engineering their money-laundering scheme, I was followed by this man.”

All eyes drifted to the screen as Sam displayed an image from a Genovian passport belonging to one William Devane.

Franklin's face turned beet red before he said, “Is this some kind of joke,”

When no one answered, he went on saying, “Bill was one of my best men. He would never be involved with this plot.”

“Then why did he attack me,” Sam countered.

Franklin gave Sam a long look then said, “If Bill Devane wanted to hurt you, I assure you that you would not be sitting before me unharmed.”

The room grew deathly quiet for a moment at the gauntlet the head of security had just tossed at Sam’s feet. Before Mia could diffuse the situation, Sam had already taken action. An image of a subway car replaced the picture of William Devane's passport. The video began to play drawing everyone’s attention.

Mia blanked her features, not wanting to reveal how uncomfortable she was watching Sam be attacked. Never mind the fact that said woman was sitting in front of her safe and sound. The video advanced, and all watched as Sam efficiently dealt with not one but four large men.

The video ended with a nonplused Sam going through the last man’s pockets and coming out with a familiar-looking passport.

“It would appear that Samantha is as good as her word,” The Queen Mother said, speaking for the first time.

Franklin’s face turned even redder at the not so subtle rebuke.

“I suggest we get back to the subject at hand,” the former Queen added.

Mia was grateful for her grandmother’s intervention as it gave her a moment to compose herself. It was one thing to know that the woman you loved had been in danger and a completely different thing to see it in living color.

She adjusted herself in her seat, feeling a little flustered from watching Sam take four grown men to the ground. By the end of the video, Mia realized that she had become unexpectedly aroused from watching Sam in action.

There was also the matter that seeing Sam look so strong was a distinct turn on.

That would have to wait until later, but now she had the perfect excuse to get Sam naked. She had to assure herself that all of Sam was uninjured after all.

“That brings us back to Sam’s warning to me,” Allie pointed out.

Sam nodded, but she had more to say, “I believe the attack on me and the attempt against Mia, Queen Amelia suggests that now that their original plan was stopped, they have gone to plan B.”

“Plan B?” Queen Clarissa asked.

“Scorched earth,” Helena said.

The room was quiet for a long moment as all began to understand not just the threat to their Queen but the entire county.

“What do we do next?” Joe wanted to know..

“It occurs to me that having all of you in one place would make an inviting target,” Sam said,

Franklin took immediate umbrage pointing at Sam and saying, “I hardly need some outsider coming here and telling me how to do my job.”

“Mr. Davenport, do you know that many of my critics once called me the outsider Queen?” Mia questioned.

When Franklin did not respond, Mia continued, “I would like to thank you for your service to the Crown. You may return to Army command for your next posting with a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and with Our gratitude.”

Franklin stiffened at his sudden dismissal but was wise enough to keep his mouth shut as he left the room with as much dignity as he could manage.

She turned to the remaining member of her security detail in the room and asked, “who is senior on the detail.”

“Myka Bering,” Mum,” He said.

“Please inform Ms. Bering that she is head of detail until further notice.”

He nodded and left returning moments later with an attractive brunette.

After Myka took a seat next to Helena, Mia took a few moments to bring the woman up to speed before saying, “I believe we should take Samantha’s warning seriously.

It would be wise if you and I to put some distance between us,” Mia added, looking at her cousin and the second line to the throne at least until she produced an heir.

“I still have my place in the Arendale,” Allie volunteered.

Emily gave Allie and odd look, not sure why Allie had a place in the city when this palace was available to her.

“Perhaps somewhere that won’t be as easy to track down,” Myka suggested getting up to speed swiftly.

“I can book you into a hotel anonymously,” Sam offered, already typing commands into her laptop.

While Sam worked on her task, Mia asked if Emily or Miranda had anything to add to the story.

Thinking about all that she’d heard, Miranda realized that one crucial detail had yet to be discussed.

“My daughters informed me that their father is dating a woman named Nikki, who fits the description of your Ms. Deveraux.”

Myka and Helena exchanged a dark look, but they did not add anything new to the conversation.

When there were no other updates from Miranda or Emily, Mia turned her attention towards security arraignments for the upcoming trade talks.

Myka and Helena put their heads together before deciding that they would work all night if necessary to completely rearrange the security arraignments. There was no reason to suspect Mr. Devenport's involvement, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

As the meeting began to wind down, the growling of Sam's stomach caught everyone's attention.

Most in the room were gracious enough to hide their grins; that only lasted until Allie and Emily exchanged a look causing both redhead and brunette to break out into a fit of giggles.

The rest of the room soon followed with only Queen Clarissa managing a modicum of decorum.

“I forgot to eat on the plane,” Sam defended sheepishly.

This time, even the Queen could not hold back a very unladylike snort of laughter. Remarkably then tension in the room was lessened, making Mia wonder if Sam had somehow done it on purpose. She looked at the other woman, but she gave nothing away.

“Perhaps now would be a good time to break for dinner,” Mia said, drawing the meeting to a close.

Sam threw her a look that made her want to pull the young woman into her lap. She just could not think of a plausible excuse to do so.

Instead, she stood to usher to group back down to the main floor.

As they made their way out of the conference room, Mia was cornered by Helena, who needed a moment to discuss a few more details about the trade negotiations. Mia asked Allie to lead everyone to the small dining room. She gave Sam a regretful look but got nothing but the kind of smile that Sam only reserved for her.

She thought not for the first time how lucky she was to have Sam in her life.

By the time she finished with Helena then dealt with two more minor crises that needed her immediate attention, dinner was in full swing.

She stepped into the smallest of the formal dining rooms to find her family and guests arraigned around the Louis the XVI table.

Unexpectedly her grandmother was seated next to Sam at the far end to the table. The two appeared to be thick as thieves causing Mia to raise an eyebrow at her girlfriend as she took her seat at the head of the table.

Dinner turned out to be nothing like what Mia had envisioned but not necessarily in a bad way. Even as she did her best to act as hostess, she kept an eye on her grandmother and Sam. Oddly enough, the two seemed to be getting along quite well, leaving Mia amazed at how often her girlfriend made the former Queen snort with laughter.

Meanwhile, Allie appeared to be laying the charm on thickly given how often Emily laughed, blushed, or did both at once.

She knew her cousin well enough to know that despite her rakish reputation, she was a one-woman kind of gal. She also wondered to what extent Sam had in this matchmaking.

In the end, she spent most of her evening chatting with Miranda, which was surreal in its own way. It had nothing to do with the conversation, Miranda was quite the conversationalist. No, it was how Miranda looked at her. It was one degree off from the way Sam looked at her, which she found a little unsettling.

Finally, feeling the need to address the issue, she said, “You must love Andy very much.”

Miranda blushed a little before she said, “I apologize for staring it just you remind me so much of her. I must admit that I miss her terribly.”

Mia softened her features before responding, “I know exactly how you feel.”

Despite how busy her schedule was, the nights alone and without Samantha were long and lonely. She had all but given up on the idea of finding someone to share her life with when Sam walked into her world and changed everything. Oddly enough, their first meeting had been in a conference room, much like the one they’d just left.

The Sachs Corporation was in negotiations with her trade reps to purchase fresh ingredients for several beverage lines. Mia was only supposed to stop in long enough for a quick meet and greet, but when her eyes met Sam’s for the first time, she couldn’t look away. She ended up staying for the entire meeting, then inviting Andy and Sam to join her for dinner.

Even though the relationship did not actually begin until later, the spark was ignited that day. It did not take long for Mia to conclude that Sam was it for her. Sadly, she had yet to communicate that information to her girlfriend, but the time was coming when Samantha would have no doubt of her intentions.

Both women's eyes drifted to the far end of the table where Sam had the former Queen almost doubled over with laughter.

“She is quite remarkable,” Miranda offered.

Mia’s face took on a dreamy, faraway look before she said, “Yes, she is.”

“It apparels I’m not the only woman at this table who is in love,” Miranda pointed out.

“From the first time I saw her, I could not take my eyes off of hers.

All of the other people in the room did not matter to me. Only her.”

Mia wondered why she was telling Miranda all of these things, but she could not deny that she felt a certain kinship with the other woman.

After dinner, Mia was approached by her grandmother. “I had a wonderful dinner with your Samantha.”

Mia had the grace not to contradict her grandmother’s suggestion that Sam was hers.

"Damnit Sam was hers, and she was Sam’s, so she decided then and there that she was done pretending otherwise," Mia thought.

She nodded her head before saying, “Samantha certainly has her charms.”

Her grandmother was quiet for a long moment before a devilish grin appears on her face.

“What?” Mia asked.

“Oh, I was just thinking about how Samanta and I can spend our time while you are locked away in your trade negotiations.”

Mia frowned as she thought she knew just what her grandmother had in mind.

“Princess lessons, heaven help us all,” Mia thought but didn’t say.

“Now, you don’t want to keep your girlfriend waiting,” Clarissa said, giving her granddaughter a very uncharacteristic wink.

Mia shook, wondering how much Sam was rubbing off on her grandmother.

“Goodnight, Grandmother,” Mia sail leaning in to place a kiss on each of the woman’s cheeks.

As she made her way towards the stairs, she stepped into the middle of a conversation between Sam and Allie.

“What do you mean newlyweds?” Allie said with a little heat.

Sam could not help but smirk at Allie’s anger before saying, “Anonymity is key to keeping everyone safe.”

“So you decided to marry me off to Emily,” Allie countered.

“We’re getting married,” Emily said, coming down the stairs.

“Who’s getting married,” Miranda said, also joining the conversation.

Sam laughed out loud while Allie pinched the bridge of her nose.

Mia stepped in before things went any further off the rails, “I believe that Samanta took the liberty of fashioning Allie and Emily as a married couple to avoid unnecessary scrutiny.”

She did not add that from the gleam in Sam’s eyes that the young woman was up to something more devious.

“I suppose that is a sensible precaution,” Emily said, causing Allie’s mouth to drop open.

Recovering fast, Allie had the grace to agree to Sam’s little scheme.

After the “newlyweds” departed, Miranda turned to Sam, saying, “I sure how you know what you’re doing.”

Sam had the good sense to nod her head, knowing there was an equal chance that things would go well or blow up in her face.

Miranda said her goodnights to both women, leaving them alone at last.

Mia reached for Sam, who came to her eagerly. She pulled the younger woman into her arms and just held her there for a long moment.

“Your grandmother knows about us,” Sam whispered, breaking the silence.

Mia pulled back a little so that she could look Sam in the eyes.

“She finds you quite refreshing,” Mia pointed out, causing Sam to relax noticeably.

“As do I, Samantha,” Mia cooed, getting an entirely different reaction this time.

“Now, let's get to our bedroom. I feel the need to inspect you for injuries.”

“All of me,” Sam said with a faux innocence that was more likely to make Mia laugh than anything else.

Mia just held her woman tightly before saying, “let’s go to bed.”

 

An: A cliff-hanger of a different sort this time, but there was a lot packed into this chapter, so Mia and Sam's ultimate reunion will be delayed, alas. I did not add a note at the end of the last chapter because It ended with a death, and I did not think my inane banter made a good coda even if Greg was a less than likable fellow.

I toyed around with many ways to explain the resemblance between Andy and Mia. My other idea was that Mia's and Andy's mothers were twins separated at birth, but If Mia's mom comes into the story later, I did not want to put Andy through having to see her dead mother's identical twin. That's one of the few things that I did not like about supergirl. Well, and the fact that the writers could not see the wisdom of pairing Kara with Kat Grant.

We will be shifting back to New York for the next chapter as everyone deals with the fall out of Greg's murder, and I get to introduce another of my favorite pairings to this story.

My experiment with recording my self while walking as a means of remembering had mixed results. It was nice to be reminded of the things I wanted to say, but it ended up adding to the time it took to write and edit this chapter. Hopefully, the next chapter, which I already recorded, will go smoother.

As always I'd like to know what you think.

WIZ

Chapter Text

21.

Vivian "Viv" Warner was used to getting calls in the middle of the night, so when her phone rang, she was quick to answer, trying not to wake the stunning blond in bed next to her. She covered the microphone while she tipped toed into what she hoped was a bathroom. It turned out to be a spacious walk-in closet, but with the door closed, it suited her purposes.

 

"Warner," she said into the phone, knowing this was business.

 

"We've got a hot one, Lieutenant," one of her detectives, John Stone, responded.

 

"Tell me about it," Viv responded while opening the door a crack so she could locate her underwear.

 

She was half-dressed by the time John gave her the victims particulars.

 

"Greg Brant, the hedge fund guy, took one to the back of the head.  With his own gun."

 

The name gave Viv a moment of pause, but handling high-profile cases came with running the detective squad at the nineteenth precinct. The nineteenth was responsible for the upper east side where the mover and shakers of Manhattan high society lived, breathed, and were sometimes murdered.

 

After asking Stone a few follow-up questions, she ended the call so she could finish dressing.  She walked to the bed and placed a gentle kiss on the head of the pretty blonde who'd picked her up at the bar last night.

 

"I'll call you," She whispered, causing the blonde to before rolling over and promptly falling to sleep.

 

Out on the street, she made her way to her unmarked SUV. Due to the early hour, she turned on the flashers but kept the siren off as she drove rapidly towards the scene. By the time she arrived, patrol officers had cordoned off the block.  She showed a fresh-faced patrol officer her badge and I.D. before being motioned to park in a space in front of their victim's townhouse.  Viv stepped onto the curb, where she was met by the lead detective Stone and his partner Elise Reyes. Since Elise was the junior detective, it fell to her to give their lieutenant a rundown of what they knew so far.

 

"The maid, Mrs. Agnes Moore, got to the house just before five this morning to prepare breakfast, when she discovered our victim laying face down on the kitchen floor.

 

She immediately called 911.  Patrol notified us shortly after that we had a homicide.  The ME is in with our vic now. His preliminary exam suggests time of death was somewhere between eight and ten last night.

 

Viv suppressed a shudder as she remembered making out with last night's hook-up during the window of time their vic drew his last breath.  Even with twelve years as a homicide detective, those little coincidences still gave her the willies. Viv followed her detectives into their vic's home as Reyes continued her synopsis.   

 

"The ME says he'll have a more definitive timeline once he can get our victim to the table.

 

We decided to wait to interview the maid until you got here. She's waiting in the study."

 

Viv nodded her head as she pulled on a nitrile glove. As she walked towards the kitchen, Stone whispered, "You got two versions of that same outfit, LT."

 

She glanced at him before whispering back, "Left the bar with the pretty blonde last night."

 

"Which one?" Stone asked in his deep baritone. 

 

In answer, she held a hand above her head, indicating the taller of the two women who'd tried to pick her up last night.  

 

Stone, who was happily married with two kids, gave her a fist bump on her un-gloved hand, causing Elyse to roll her eyes at the easy banter between the former partners.

 

Viv snapped on the other glove with a pop signaling her transformation into a veteran homicide detective.

 

She stepped into the kitchen then worked her way clockwise towards the body, taking notes of all she saw in the process. In her experience, men were messy cookers, so the pristine countertops suggested that the perpetrator cleaned up after themselves. She smiled to herself as she noted that as a gay woman who was the daughter of two gay women, she was hardly an expert on men.  All she knew about men she'd learned either from her former partner or her 'uncle bennie,' and neither of them would be considered typical for the species. She knelt close to the body as she tried to work out the likely sequence of events. She closed her eyes as she pictured their victim standing over the hot stove, stirring the sauce. The marble flooring underneath her suggested that the killer wasn't wearing shoes as she approached. Even if their vic knew the killer, and statistics suggested that he did, he would have turned towards the would of footfalls if only to acknowledge the other person's presence.  What was more likely was that the killer approached in their bare feet with their vic, only becoming aware in the last second.  That explained why the vic's head was turned slightly in the direction of his attacker when the fatal shot was fired.   

She also presumed the killer had intimate knowledge of where the vic kept his weapon. Few residents in this zip code made a habit of keeping a gun close by while preparing dinner.

 

"And they turned the burner off," she noted to herself. 

 

She added her thoughts to her notebook before standing and moving towards the suspected murder weapon. She knew the Springfield Arms XD to be a good weapon with a reputation for accuracy and reliability. She held the 9mm close to her nose and caught a strong whiff of cordite.  A clear indication the weapon had been recently fired. She hit a button, releasing the clip so she could further expect the magazine.  

 

"Sixteen rounds in the clip, plus one in the chamber," She told herself as the story in her head began to coalesce around a narrative.

 

Her vic kept a fully loaded gun, which was unusual for the rich and well to do in a neighborhood like this one. That could mean that he was afraid of someone, but that was getting ahead of herself. She placed the gun and full clip back on the counter for the evidence technician to collect. She stepped to the other side of the body, staying clear of the pool of blood as she resumed her probe of the murder scene. All she discovered on this side of the kitchen were more suspiciously clean counters and a pan holding the contents of last night's uneaten dinner. Once she was done, she released the body to the medical examiner.  After reminding the man that she should be the first person he called after completing the autopsy, she motioned for her two detectives to join her in the foyer. All three detectives knew this case would be splashed all over the press in just a few hours.  So time was of the essence.  

 

"Let's go talk to the maid," Viv said.  

 

As they entered the study, Stone held Viv back, letting Reyes take the lead in questioning their witness. Viv was impressed; it had taken her longer to gain the trust of the veteran detective. Elise Reyes was new to NYPD but not new to policing.  She'd been a decorated detective for Pheonix P.D. before relocating to New York with her wife, who was with the FBI. Reyes quickly walked Agnes through the past twenty-four hours. None of them were surprised when Agnes established a plausible albeit for the timeframe the ME had established. They would revisit the question once the ME nailed down a more precise time of death, but for now, they would treat the maid as a material witness and not a suspect.  

 

"So tell us what was unusual about yesterday?" Viv asked, playing a hunch.

 

"Mr. Brant worked from home yesterday, which was very unusual. And, he was agitated."

 

Agnes paused for a moment as if weighing her next words.

 

"I overheard a phone conversation that seemed to indicate that he'd suffered a setback at work yesterday."

 

"Setback?" Stone probed.

 

"I know that it had something to do with the Elias Clark company," the maid concluded.

 

Viv's immediately shifted to a conversation she'd had yesterday with her sister Natalie.  Nat, who was an editor for Architectural Digest, had lamented about the fall of their rival publication company. 

 

"Did he own shares in Elias Clark?" Viv asked.

 

Agnes nodded her head before adding, "I'm not supposed to know this, but I think he was expecting good news, and when that didn't happen, he seemed depressed."

 

Given the available evidence, they had already ruled out suicide, but she did give a nod to her detectives to follow up on the Elias Clark angle.  

 

"Anything else unusual happen yesterday?" Reyes asked.

 

Before Agnes would answer, Viv was distracted by the vibration of her phone.  She sent the call to voicemail, not wanting to interrupt the flow of the interview.

 

As she slipped her phone back into her pocket, Stone sent her a look that said, "Ignore that call at your own peril."

 

"I can handle her," she suggested with the look she sent back to her former partner.

 

"Your funeral," his face said, and that was apparently the last word on the subject as he turned back to their witness.

 

"What else happened yesterday?" Stone prompted.

 

Agnes brought her hand up to her forehand before saying, "There was a visitor to the house last night who ended up leaving with Greg's twin girls."

 

Elise looked alarmed, but before she could reach for her radio to call it in, Viv asked, "What do you mean left with the girls?"

 

The three detectives listened as she explained how a stranger came to the house and legally left with Caroline and Cassidy Brant.

 

"And all you know is that her name was Andy?" Viv inquired, not quite sure how this information fit into their murder investigation.

 

"No, but his attorney drew up the custody agreement, so he might know."

 

Agnes walked over to the desk and scrolled through and old fashioned Rolodex, then pulled one of the cards.

 

Reyes took the card before leaving the room.

 

Stone asked a few more questions trying to establish a better idea of the sequence of events.

 

Minutes later, Elyse came back in and pulled Viv aside.

 

"The attorney said that the vic called him and insisted that he draw up a new custody agreement granting custody to his former wife."

 

"This, Andy?" Viv questioned.

 

"No, get this, those girls are Miranda Priestly's kids."

 

Viv gave her a what the fuck look, but apparently, Reyes wasn't done with the surprises.

 

"And, the Andy in question is Andrea Sachs."

 

Now Viv felt like she had somehow stumbled onto the set Dark Mirror.

 

"As in the Sachs Company CEO?" Stone questioned.

 

"Don't forget Billionaires," Elyse added.

 

This time when her phone rang, she knew better than to send this caller to voicemail a second time.

 

"Warner," she said.

 

"My office, thirty minutes," came the familiar voice down the line.

 

The call was disconnected before Viv was given the chance to answer. She got an" I told you so" look from stone. And a "What?" from a puzzled Reyes.

 

"I've been summoned by her majesty."

 

No one liked to be called to the principal's office.

 

"Let me know if you get anything else," she told the two detectives as she headed for the door. Twenty-seven minutes later, Viv pulled in front of One Police Plaza, home of the NYPD brass. She had no problem finding a parking spot as it was still an hour before the start of the day shift. As she reached for her door handle, her phone buzzed with an incoming text.

 

" Weirder and weirder," she whispered after reading Stone's update.

 

She took the stairs, avoiding the notoriously slow elevators that served the fifty-plus-year-old building. She bypassed the duty sergeant, walking directly into the office of the Chief of Detectives, Johanna Warner-Polniaczek.  She took a seat without being asked, waiting for the Cheif to finish her phone call.  She didn't have to wait for long.  

 

"Hello Vivian, I hear you caught a live one this morning," Jo said to her Lieutenant.

 

Viv nodded her head in agreement, then spent the next several minutes bringing her the Chief up to speed on what they already knew and the next steps they intended to take.  

 

"Do you think Andy is a suspect?" Jo asked.

 

Viv was silent for a long moment before responding, "So far, we have no evidence pointing in that direction Chief, but you know the protocol she had contact with the victim in the last hours of his life.  So we can't rule her out."

 

"I agree," Jo said.

 

"There one more thing. The maid says he was seeing someone new."

 

Jo raised an eyebrow before saying, "And you think Andy may have been sleeping with our victim."

 

"I can't rule that out either," Viv responded.

 

Jo gave her daughter a long look causing her to say, "OK, I will admit that it seems highly unlikely."  Both her parents had known Andy Sachs for years, and she and her sister met the corporate titan at several events hosted by Warner Industries.  

 

"Come on, let's go take a ride," Jo said, retrieving her badge and gun from her top drawer.

 

Viv gave her mom an odd look but knew better than to argue. As they exited Jo's office, they were greeted by the old man himself, NYPD Commissioner Benard 'Bennie' Williams. After greeting his former trainee, he turned his attention to his goddaughter, "What's happening with the Brant investigation."

 

After giving the commissioner a brief summary, he asked the Chief, "How's this one doing." Viv gives her mom and her "uncle" Bennie a skeptical look. 

 

Jo, choosing to ignores her daughter's look, responded, "She's got good instincts and the highest clearance rate in the city."

 

"Well, you keep on her, Jo," He said, giving Viv a wink.

 

Viv can only shake her head at their antics. She is also grateful that no one from her precinct was witness to her ribbing by the Commissioner and the Chief. Most of them had no idea of her connection to either of them. Her mom had already been a legend at the NYPD by the time she'd joined, which is why she'd chosen to drop the Polish portion of her surname.

 

"You two are like brother and sister," she shot back at the two superior officers.

 

The two grinned at each other, choosing to see Viv's accusation as a badge of honor. Accepting defeat, Viv said she'd keep the Commissioner informed before practically dragging her mom towards the stairs.

 

Down on the street, they get into Viv's unmarked as Jo said, "Head up to Carnegie Hill." Viv pulled onto the street, activating her lights as she went.  But when she reached for her siren, she felt a slap on the back of her hand.

 

"What," Viv whined, looking at her mom.

 

"Did you not hear me say we're going to Carnegie Hill."

 

"And," she responded, not seeing the problem.

 

When Jo looked at her watch, it finally occurred to Viv that it was still early.

 

"Now, who's the politician," Viv said, reviving an old argument between her parents.

 

"If you repeat this to your mother, I'll deny it, but when you are married to someone for more than thirty years, they rub off on you."

 

Viv was quiet for a moment, wondering not for the first time if she would ever find a love like her parents found in each other.

 

Andy woke up to find that she was no longer in bed alone. She looked down and was surprised to see that it was Cassidy lying next to her. She felt movement on her other side and realized that she'd located the other twin. She managed to extricate herself from the bed without waking the girls. It had been a long night getting the girls settled into the guest room down the hall. She'd texted Anna last night, so she was expecting a supply drop of everything necessary for the care and feeding of two teenaged girls.  

She'd wanted to call Miranda last night, but it was the middle of the night in Genovia. Once she'd gotten them unpacked, they all piled into Andy's bed because the girls had lots of questions. She'd done her best to answer, including some rather pointed ones about the nature of her relationship with their mother. She'd done her best to answer honestly and to give the girls a sense of stability even as their world was shifting under their feet. Thankfully both girls seemed to accept that Andy would be apart of their and their mother's life going forward. Only after she'd answered, every one of the girls' questions was she able to get them into their beds. That had apparently not lasted as eventually; both redheads had migrated into her and Miranda's bed. She was pleased that the girls saw her as a source of comfort.  Of course, it was just as likely that they were drawn to their mother's lingering scent.     

 

"At least it wasn't all of Miranda's girls," Andy laughed to herself, thinking about the oldest of her new stepdaughters.

 

Despite her joke, she cared for Emily and was glad that she and Miranda were safe in Genovia. After completing her morning routine and getting dressed, she made her way to the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator door and was relieved to see a large selection of items that might appeal to her two charges. She decided to take the same approach as when she first cooked for Miranda. She made a full selection of times, making generous amounts of both pancakes and French toast.

About the time she finished cooking the eggs and bacon, she heard a sound that could only be described as a herd of wild horses running free. Moments later, Cassidy and Caroline crashed into the kitchen, still wearing pajamas, and apparently famished based upon the way they were eyeing the food.

 

"Pancakes," both girls exclaimed.

 

"Agnes never makes us pancakes," Caroline complained.

 

Both girls gave Andy such a joyful look that it made the woman's heart swell. She had never really pictured herself as a mom, which was one of the main reasons she'd ended things with Sam. Despite her fiance's dim view of humanity, she knew that down Sam hoped to have children.  To one day see her mother and father reflected in the eyes of her children was one of Sam's deepest desires. She smiled at the girls as they dug into the morning's offerings. She made her own plate of food then joined the girls at the island. The scene reminded her of having dinner with the girls' mother just a few nights ago. She missed Miranda and ached to reunite her with her twin girls.

 

With that thought in mind, after the girls were done eating, she announced, "Girls, I know that you've just gotten here, but what would you think if we went to surprise your mother."

 

The girls only needed to exchange a brief loof before happily agreeing.  She sent them up to pack before heading into her study to begin making arrangements for their trip. She had just hung up with Anna when she heard the front door ring.  She brought up the camera aimed at her front porch and was surprised to see a familiar face on her doorstep. Glad she'd taken the time to dress properly, Andy went to answer the door.

She opened the door and greeted Jo Warner, who she knew through Jo's Wife Blair. While she had no reason to know why the woman was here, her guard instantly came up.

 

"Jo, to what do I owe your visit," Andy said brightly.

 

"Many we come in?" Jo asked.

 

Now that Jo had used the term we, Andy turned her attention away from Jo to the blonde-haired woman standing to her right

.

"Viv?" Andy asked, suddenly seeing so much of Blair in the young woman.

 

"I haven't seen you since you graduated from NYU," Andy said, causing Viv to smile despite the seriousness of the situation.

 

Andy invited both women in then led them to her study. She closed the door behind her before offering the two women a seat and asking if they wanted anything to drink. When mother and daughter declined, Andy sat and asked the most pertinent question, "What can I do for you, Jo."

 

"I need to know where you were from noon yesterday?" Jo asked.

 

Andy did not like the sound of the question, so she asked a question of her own, "What's this about?"

 

Jo sighed, knowing that Andy would be unlikely to talk without an answer to her question.

 

"Greg Brant was murdered last night," Jo said, choosing to ignore the indignant look coming from her subordinate.

 

Andy drew in a sharp breath at the news. Her first thought was for the girls. Her second thought was to wonder why they were here, asking her about her whereabouts.

 

"I would like to have my lawyer present before I answer any of your questions," Andy said.

 

Viv looked incensed, but Jo was nonplussed.

 

"She lives in the area, so she can be here in a few minutes."

 

Jo nodded her head; then, Andy excused herself from making the call.

 

True to her word twenty minutes later, Andy returned with her attorney. Andy introduced them to Lily even though she'd met Jo and her wife on a few occasions.

 

"My client wants to cooperate with your investigations, but I reserve the right to tell her not to answer certain questions, and if I don't like the direction this is going, then I'm going to pull the plug."

 

The Chief and Lieutenant both nodded, used to hearing the legal jargon. Neither believed Andy was a suspect, but given all of the coincidences, they would be surprised if she didn't have information that they needed to know.

 

Jo asked the question again, hoping to establish a clear sequence of events.

 

"I had lunch in my office, which was usual for me," Andy began.

 

"I worked through the afternoon and had a meeting with my deputy around three. When I left the office a little after five, I asked my driver to take me to Greg's home.

 

"What was the purpose of your visit?" Viv asked.

 

"I wanted to see if he and I could come to an agreement ahead of an upcoming custody hearing."

 

Both cops looked at each other, surprised that Andy was so forthcoming.

 

"We know who the girls' mother is, but how do you fit in,"  Viv prompted.

 

"My wife and I were seeking to change the custody arraignment involving her twin girls."

 

"You and Miranda Priestly," Jo said, unable to conceal the admiration in her tone.

 

Viv, too, looked a little shell-shocked that Andy Sachs had bagged the Ice Queen.

 

"My sister is going to flip," Viv thought, knowing how much Natalie admired the former fashion icon.  

 

"Miranda spent every dollar she had available to retain custody, but the judge ruled against her," Andy added.

 

There was a lot more Andy could say about the crooked judge that robbed the girls and Miranda of over two years together, but she knew she had to slow-walk them into the details of the vast conspiracy.

 

"How did your conversation with Greg go," Jo asked, getting the interview back on track.

 

"Greg had his attorney draw up a new agreement giving full custody of the girls to Miranda and me," Andy offered.

 

Viv looked at the Chief as new lines of questions swirled around her head.


"Just like that?" Jo asked. She and Blair never had to deal with sharing custody of their children, but a lot of cops weren't that lucky. She knew her fair share of brother and sister officers who'd gone through that kind of hell. What they all had in common was that it was an incredibly slow process and that neither side was willing to back down.

 

"The girls are here with you now?" Viv inquired.

 

"Upstairs," Andy confirmed

 

"And Miranda, where is she?" Jo followed up.

 

"She and her oldest daughter are currently in a town called Arendale. It's on the Genovian coast."

 

The two cops gave each other a look that said they both felt that things were not adding up.

 

"Well, Andy, I have to say that things aren't adding up for me.

 

You say that there's this upcoming custody hearing, yet your wife is in Europe. Then there's our victim's sudden change of heart just before he was murdered.

"I need you to help me out here because I just don't get it."

 

Viv could not help but admire her mother's interrogation skills. There was a reason she'd risen so quickly up the ranks. And if her mother was right, her mom would take Uncle Bennie's job when he retired at the end of the year. Her mom had been tight-lipped on the subject, but she trusted her mother's instincts, and Blair Warner was rarely wrong in her predictions.

 

Jo held her breath, hoping she was not about to hear a woman she genuinely liked admit to committing a murder.

 

For her part, Andy was impressed with both Jo and her daughter. They'd taken what little they'd gathered and come to the right conclusion.

 

It was complicated.

 

"It's complicated," Andy said, then got up and retrieved her laptop.

 

"How much do you know about the Elias Clark Company?" Andy asked the question that seemed like a complete non-sequitur.

 

Deciding to play along, Viv answered, "My sister is a Deputy Editor at Architectural Digest. So she keeps me up on the latest news about the competition."

 

Andy nodded her head, glad that she didn't have to start from the very beginning. The two cops listen as Andy explained in detail the scheme to launder stolen funds through a dying media company.

 

"Nat always thought there was something fishy about Miranda's exit from Runway," Viv said.

 

Jo remembered Blair saying something very similar but using much more colorful language.

 

"So you confronted Greg about what he did, and he just caved," Jo offered, still feeling uneasy.

 

Blackmail was still a crime in this state.

 

"No," Andy said emphatically.

 

"I did tell him that I knew he was involved, but he vehemently denied any involvement in the events that led to Miranda's attempted suicide. He blamed the other participants for doing it behind his back. His only concern was finding a way to save his business. He also indicated that he just wanted things to go back to normal."

 

"And, you took that to mean the custody arraignment?" Viv tried to clarify.

 

"I did, Andy agreed."

 

"So what went wrong," Jo asked, suspecting that this was the crime Andy was caught up in.

 

"My understanding is that the funds that they intended to launder through Elias Clark were returned to their original location."

 

"Original location?" Jo and Viv asked at the same moment.

 

Andy looked towards her sister and got a slight head nod. They'd agreed to the rolling disclosure strategy giving the police all the things they needed to know and none of the things they didn't.

 

"The money came from the Genovian treasury," Andy said, causing both cops' eyes to widen.

 

Before they could ask, Andy laid out the plot to dethrone the reigning monarch of the fifth largest economy in Europe.

 

"Let me get this straight, this Viscount Mabrey and the Queen's own cousin Nichole Deveraux stole the money, then they planned to launder it through Elias Clark, but the money somehow magically ended up back where it started." Jo summarized.

 

"And you think the Genovians found out about the plot and took the money back," Viv added, making it clear that the police had jumped to the collusion Andy hoped they would.

 

She felt certain that Sam had covered her tracks well enough to evade scrutiny, but she and Lily thought it best not to give them a reason to look deeper in that direction.

 

"I can't speak to how the money was returned. What I do know is that Greg and presumably the other members of the conspiracy were expecting a positive earnings report from Elias Clark yesterday. Because the money had been returned, Elias Clark had no option but to show the real losses on their quarterly earning statement causing the price to plummet when they were betting it would go up. They were leveraged in the wrong direction allowing my company to acquire a controlling interest by the close of the bell last night," Andy concluded.  

 

She wanted them to know she'd brought the company upfront. She knew that if the police found out later, they would feel the need to dig deeper into all that she'd said. So far, she had not lied to them directly, but she knew that she was walking a fine line. What they had done was with the best of intentions; however, breaking the law for the greater good was still illegal.

Plus, she suspected that Queen Mia had ample motivation to attest to her misdirection about how the Genovian funds were repatriated. She looked at them before saying the last piece of information that would turn the case in the right direction.

 

"The twins told me that their father had been dating a woman he referred to as Nikki."

 

Both Warner's eyes widened, making it clear that they got the inference right away.

 

"You think Nikki is Nichole Deveraux?" Viv asked.

 

Andy was quiet for a moment. She'd insisted to Lily that they keep any mention of the twins' ability to identify Nichole out of this. She'd had two reasons for this. She did not want the girls to have to testify in any trial, but more importantly, she did not want to put a target on their backs. As it stood, the two Genovian royals had proven their willingness to murder in the name of their end goal.

 

"It would explain the connection between the American conspirators and Genovia," Andy pointed out.

 

"Viv, I'd like you to interview the maid again to see if we can shed more light on the subject," Jo said to her daughter.

 

Then the Chief picked up Viv's recorder and switched it off.

 

"OK, Andy, we are going to follow the path you've laid out for us, but let me tell you what I think happened. I believe everything you said about how Miranda fell into your life. I also believe that you and your ex did a lot of digging into this on your own. Then you informed the Queen of Genovia, with whom I believe you have a business relationship, of your findings.

That she possibly, with the help of the best hacker that either of us knows, re-stole those funds. I won't speculate to what extent the information you provided drove Greg to do the right thing. What I will say is that if you had you come to the police sooner, then maybe things would have turned out differently."

 

Andy had to admit she was impressed with Jo's speculation. The Chief had gotten almost everything right. She wasn't so sure that things would have been different if she'd gone to the police sooner. Besides, her first priority had been to get the girls away from danger. She would like to think that Nichole wouldn't have harmed them but wasn't going to take the risk.

 

"My point in telling you all of this is to make myself perfectly clear. Let us handle this from now on."

 

Andy nodded her head, agreeing for herself while knowing that Sam would make her own choices on the matter.

 

Both cops stood to go when Viv said, "Don't leave town."

 

Before Andy could respond, Lily spoke up, "Is my client a suspect in Greg Brant's murder?"

 

Jo spoke up, saying, "No, she is not."

 

"Mrs. Sachs owns a multinational corporation and is frequently required to travel for work. If you have further questions, please contact me, and I will convey those questions to my client in a timely manner."

 

Lily handed both cops her business card before walking them out.

 

When she came back, Andy was still sitting in her chair, deep in thought.

 

"Are you going to tell them?" Lily asked.

 

Andy looked up, and Lily could see the pain on her sister's face.

 

"With Miranda an ocean away, I'm afraid the task falls to me," Andy confirmed.

 

"Do you want me to stick around?" Lily asked.

 

"No, I would prefer them to meet their Aunt Lily under better circumstances."

 

Lily smiled back, liking the sound of being an Aunt to Miranda's girls. However, she doubted that Emily would be calling her auntie any time in the future. Andy walked Lily to the door, hugged her, and thanked her for making herself available on such short notice.

 

"It's my job," Lily pointed out.

 

"We both know it's more than that," Andy said, pulling the woman into a second hug.

 

Lily wiped away tears, not sure why she was suddenly so emotional.

 

They said their goodbyes, and Andy turned her mind to the task of breaking two little girl's hearts.

 

AN: I re-read this recently and wanted to clean up a few mistakes.  I hope it reads better this way. WB 11-21-20

I got the idea for the basics of this chapter more than two months ago. So I am so happy to finally bring the Warner-Polniaczek's into the story. Expect to see more of Jo and Viv in connection, but I definitely plan to bring Blair and their other daughter Natalie or Nat into the story as well. We ended on a down note for the girls, but I have a feeling they will be reunited with their mother and older sister in the immediate future. I saw a note or two of disappointment with the last chapter moving away from the murder plot. I accept and appreciate the comments, and I felt they were constructive. What I will say is that the events of chapter 20 were needed to move the story forward. I also felt that chapter 20 needed to come before this update for the sake of continuity.
If you are a reader of my other stories, namely Untimely and The Dinner, you will know that I have been a very busy beaver of late. I have also been working on the next update to Hope, the last chapter of The Dinner, and a couple of side projects, some that will see the light of day and a couple that unfortunately won't. Some of my ideas are kind of out there, so I tend to keep those just for myself.

I digress; an every other week update schedule that I have been trying to keep of late seems to be working better for me, so expect that to continue for the foreseeable future. Please keep those comments going; they help me stay motivated and to make corrections in course when necessary. Happy Day after Thanksgiving to those who celebrate.

Chapter Text

22.

AN: I changed the name of Mia's assistant from Clarissa to Clair. I had forgotten that Mia's grandmother was Clarissa, and having two Clarissa's was going to be too confusing (for me, at least). I also changed her ethnicity for no other reason than I wanted to. See the end for more notes.

Finally, alone, Sam held her breath as Mia stepped closer, invading the young woman's personal space. She let the held breath out as a contented sigh as Mia's hands landed on her hips, allowing her to pull her lover closer still.  Mia leaned down, capturing Sam's lips in a sweet, lingering kiss.  The kiss only grew in intensity as the separated lovers got reacquainted with one another. By the time they parted, both women were more than a little breathless.

 

"I've missed you," Sam said, feeling content for the first time in weeks.

 

"Oh, Samantha, you have no idea how much I've missed you," Mia answered, voice low and silky.  

 

Mia drew Sam close again, and the couple shared another kiss. Sam smiled into the kiss as she felt Mia's hand migrate south from her hip. It was a bit of a thing between the couple that Mia's hand seemed to have a mind of their own when it came to Sam's ass. Mia would play if off a little embarrassed by her own lust.  

 

For Sam, it was simple; Mia loved her ass.

 

Sam's smug smile was wiped away as Mia's tongue began to work its magic. Their intimate embrace came to a sudden and premature end as they both heard the sound of approaching footsteps.

They looked in the direction of the echoed steps to see Mia's flustered assistant approaching fast.

 

"There you are. Do you have any idea how worried I was? First, we are on the plane, then you disappear, and I have no clue where you were. Luckily a very nice Marine Captain offered to ferry me to Arendale."

 

"Clair, I am sorry for worrying you," Mia said in a placating tone.

 

Mia's apology went unnoticed as Clair began to wind up for another verbal salvo.

 

"And, another thing…" The Genovian woman with Pakistani roots began.

 

Sam thought that now was a good time to make a graceful exit but found her way blocked by Mia's hand, which was still resting firmly on her ass. The other woman gripped a little tighter, signaling that she wanted Sam to stay exactly where she was. 

 

"Claire, you remember Samantha; don't you," Mia said before her assistant could continue her lecture.

 

From the look on Claire's face, it was clear that Sam's presence had gone unnoticed until now.

 

" My apologies," Claire responded, clearly mortified by someone else witnessing her speaking to her Queen in such a familiar manner. 

 

Her mortification turned to curiosity as she noticed the two women were standing closer than polite society customarily allowed. As a matter of fact, one could consider their current position as intimate. Not one for gossip, Claire had chosen to ignore the rumors spreading around the Royal Palace about her boss and the pretty American spending an awful lot of time together.

Now she was being presented with nearly irrefutable evidence that the royal affair was indeed a reality. She took a moment to consider how this would play politically. There were some risks here, but not related to the same-sex nature of the relationship. Genovian society had long ago accepted the mantra that love was love. The danger lie in the eyes of some who thought of Mia as an outsider because she wasn't born on Genovian soil.  For them, Mia choosing an American as her what?

Girlfriend?

Lover?

Queen?

It would serve as a reminder that a Genovian woman wasn't good enough for the "American Queen."  On the other hand, Sam was accomplished, smart, and honestly gorgeous.  All things that would make her a good partner for Mia. She also concluded that if Sam had even and an ounce of personality, she would charm the pants off most of the country. She put those thoughts aside, for now, choosing to focus on more urgent matters.

 

Giving the "couple" a regretful look, she spoke, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but we just received word that Ambasodore Ambrose needs to speak with you prior to the commencement of tomorrow's negotiations."

 

Sam could see the conflict in Mia's eyes, so she gave her a smile and a nod, letting her know that no matter how long it took, she could wait. 

 

Mia smiled back at the woman in her arms. Then she did something Sam wasn't expecting, leaning in delivering a not so chase kiss to Sam's lips. 

 

"I had your luggage taken up to the Royal Suite," Mia whispered before delivering one final squeeze to her girlfriend's ass.

 

Mia gave Sam a regretful look before allowed Claire to lead her way to do her country's business.

 

Reluctantly Sam turned and headed up the stairs towards the east wing and Mia's suite. As she walked down the third-floor corridor, she noticed light coming from under the door to Miranda's room. Taking a chance, Sam tapped lightly on her friend's door. It was opened a moment later by Miranda, who clearly hadn't been sleeping. Sam stood there for a moment, awkwardly, as she tried to formulate her reasons for being here.  Fortunately, Miranda was happy for the company, so she stood back, allowing the young woman to enter. It wasn't until she was inside the other woman's room that Sam realized Miranda had already changed for bed.

 

"Nice gams," Sam said, looking at Miranda's legs below the hem of her nightgown.

 

Despite herself, Miranda laughed, not sure what it was about her young friend that tickled her funny bone just so.

 

"Well, just don't stand there," Miranda said, inviting the woman further into her room.

 

"Can't sleep, either?" Miranda questioned.

 

"More like don't want to," Sam replied before explaining how Mia had been called away.

 

"That must be difficult," Miranda said, imagining how she would react to her and Andy's reunion being disrupted.

 

Miranda retreated to the couch where she had been reading before Sam's arrival.

 

"I can let you get back to your book," Sam offered.

 

"Don't be ridiculous. You wanted some company to take your mind off of other things," Miranda accurately guessed.

 

"Besides, I've read A Tale of Two Cities a dozen times. Have a seat."

 

Sam moved to do just that but had a better idea.

 

"Have you found the wet bar?"

 

Miranda perked up, causing Sam to grin. She opened an eighteenth-century cabinet to reveal a wide selection of spirits.

 

"How about a Talisker," Sam offered, holding up a bottle of ten-year-old Irish Scotch Whiskey.

 

"With a splash of water," Miranda said, accepting Sam's offer.

 

Liking the sound, Sam added a splash of water to her own two fingers worth of the amber liquid.

 

She took both glasses to the couch, handed one over, then took a seat next to Miranda.

 

Sam took a sip of her drink as she tried to organize her thoughts. Finally, coming to grips with what was bothering her, she spoke, "Something weird just happened."

 

Miranda took a sip from her glass before prompting, "Weird."

 

"Mia kissed me..."

 

Before Mia could finish her thought, Miranda spoke up, "I know that I am new to the whole lesbian thing, but isn't that supposed to be how it works."

 

Sam gave Miranda a dirty look before saying, "If you had let me finish, you would have heard me say in front of her assistant, Claire. And, I'm pretty sure her grandmother knows about us too."

 

"I take it that your relationship has been a secret," Miranda offered.

 

Sam was thoughtful for a second before saying, "I guess so."

 

" You guess," Miranda countered.

 

"Well, we haven't been hiding, but we haven't put out a press release either.  So I'm not sure exactly where I stand," Sam admitted. 

 

"How would you feel about your relationship becoming public?" Miranda asked, cutting to the heart of the matter.  

 

Sam's face broke out into a bright smile that said it all.

 

Miranda felt a pang of jealousy as Sam's face spoke of everything young love was supposed to be. It reminded her of her time with Emily's father. She had no doubt that Andy was the true love of her life, but there had been something so pure about finding love before the world had a chance to disappoint and infect her with its cynicism.

 

"It sounds as if Mia may be ready for your relationship to be more public," Miranda pointed out.

 

Sam took a moment to digested her friend's words. There was a certain kind of logic that she had apparently missed. There was no reason to think that Mia was ready to share their relationship with her friends and family.  Allie obviously knew. The complicating factor was that Sam was dating one of the most famous women in the world.  

 

"The international press is already obsessed with the 'American Queen,' so they are going to go nuts when they find out about us," Sam said, speaking to her real fear.

 

"Are you prepared for that level of scrutiny?" Miranda asked.

 

"No, it scares the shit out of me. I worry about making a fool out of myself and embarrassing Mia in the process."

 

"I don't believe that will happen," Miranda said reassuringly.

 

Despite Miranda's confidence, Sam still looked dubious.

 

"I have some experience with the press. So, I could give you some pointers." Miranda offered.

 

The look of relief on Sam's face made a laugh bubble up Miranda's throat.

 

Sam gave her another of her dirty looks before joining the laughter. Before the conversation could resume, Miranda asked a question that had been weighing on her mind.

 

"Why didn't you tell Andy about your relationship with Mia?"

 

Sam gave Miranda an odd look before saying, "It's complicated." 

 

While Miranda was hoping for a more complete answer, she didn't want to push, so she said nothing.

 

"I'm not proud to admit this, but for a time after our breakup, I was really angry with Andy."

 

Miranda remained quiet, sensing there was more Sam needed to say.

 

"Andy had utterly logical reasons for why we shouldn't get married. When she laid all of them out, I can't even say that I entirely disagreed with all of them. But none of that mattered to me. I loved her, and she loved me, and that should have been enough."

 

As Miranda watched tears gather in the corners of Sam's eyes, she felt uncomfortable with the pandora's box she'd opened.

 

"Eventually, I got over the anger, but it wasn't until I met Mia that it all made sense to me.

 

Andy had a sort of blind spot in how she saw me. Her feelings for me ran deep, and I don't doubt that she loves me, but she couldn't see me as I am. She recognized my strengths, and she could see my vulnerabilities, but she thought of them as separate aspects of my personality, like sides of a coin.

Heads, I was the Mighty Athena, invulnerable hacker goddess.

 

Tails, I was her good little submissive.

 

I'm not a coin, and she couldn't see that I was all of those things and more all of the time.

 

When I met Mia, she could see me, all of me. She knows that when I am at my strongest, I am still vulnerable and that when I submit to her that I am still strong."

 

Miranda took a moment to consider Sam's analysis. It concerned her that one day, Andy would approach her with well thought out reasons why they could no longer be together. Before that, fear could find purchase; she remembered what it was like to be with Andy.

When Andy looked at her, she saw the truth of her in a way; no one ever had; not even Charlie, with his untainted love, saw her with rose-colored glasses. It was then she realized that despite the hurt she'd caused, there had been method behind Andy's madness. And, judging from the contemplative look on Sam's face, the young woman was coming to the same conclusion.

 

"I guess I needed to get that off my chest," Sam said, wiping away tears.

 

"I think that maybe you and Andy need to have a conversation," Miranda suggested.

 

"I'll give it some thought. I'm sorry for dumping all this on you and for kinda insulting your wife." Sam said, giving Miranda a sheepish grin.

 

Miranda reached over and gripped Sam's hand reassuringly. She also realized she had been unfair when she had categorized her friend's feelings as young love. Sam had analyzed the potential pitfalls and had concluded that Mia was worth it.

 

"Thanks for letting me bend your ear for a little while," Sam said, getting up to leave.

 

Miranda stood up and pulled the young woman into a hug.

 

"Any time," Miranda said into Sam's ear.

 

Sam let herself out of Miranda's room, feeling surprisingly well. She had not realized that she was still carrying baggage from her relationship with Andy. Talking to the woman that technically replaced her in Andy's heart may have seemed like a weird choice, but it had actually helped. It gave her some needed perspective on her past and left her feeling more appreciative of her relationship with Mia.

She slipped into the royal suite but was not surprised to see that it was unoccupied. She walked into her side of the closet to find the items she'd brought in her luggage hung neatly or folded in a nearby dresser. She also noticed a couple of new dresses that she hadn't seen before. She took a moment to admire the lovely gowns wondering what Mia had in mind for them.

She stepped through the closet and into the adjacent ensuite. She eyed the ginormous tub remembering the last time she and Mia had shared a bath together. It had been one of the single hottest experiences in her life.

 

"Why not," She said to herself before opening the taps to fill the tub.

 

She added a lovely smelling bath oil to the nearly scalding hot water, then slipped out of her clothes and climbed in. The warm water quickly did the job of unknotting tense muscles. She flexed her right ankle and wrist, trying to work out the kinks from her subway fight with four beefy thugs. Sam closed her eyes, nearly floating in the oversized tub.  A few more sips of her Talisker, and Sam was feeling no more pain.  

A half an hour later, she decided that if she didn't get out now, she might fall asleep and drown. Stepping out of the tub, she spotted Mia's robe thanking on the back of the door.  She slipped into the plush garment, liking how it felt against her skin. She reached for the robe's lapel, brought it to her nose, and inhaled the remnants of Mia's intoxicating scent. Which only made her want to march downstairs and haul Mia from her meeting and into their bed.  

Sam shook her head to clear it, unsure if her last thought was from the Talisker or her raging hormones. To be fair, it had been far too long since they'd spent the night in the same bed.  Feeling a little light-headed, she walked over to the sink placing her hands on the cold marble surface.  When she looked at herself in the mirror, she concluded, "You've got it bad."

And she did, from the moment Mia's eyes fell on hers, she been a goner.  Oddly when she'd first laid eyes on Mia, she didn't see Andy at all.  There was just something in the eyes.  The way they burned right through her with just a single look.  How, despite the setting, she'd become instantly aroused.  She would have, without question, slept with Mia that first night, but is glad that they waited.  

Coming out of her memories, Sam turned her mind towards completing her nightly routine. She found a brand new toothbrush in her vanity, which she used to brush her teeth. Next, she removed the little makeup she wore. Finally, she brushed out her damp hair, then made her way back into Mia's bedroom. She grabbed her laptop, thinking she could do some more digging into Mia's traitorous cousin. Unfortunately, Mia's bed was far too comfortable, causing her to lose her battle with sleep in moments.

 

Mia tried her best not to lose her cool as Ambassador Ambrose made the same point for the fourth or hell; maybe it was the fifth time. Thankfully for him, she'd grown up with her down to earth mother in laid back San Francisco. She shuttered to think of how she'd behave if she'd grown up around the trappings of the monarchy.  Despite all she'd learned about patience from her mother and grandmother, the Ambassador was doing his best to test those skills.

She had already tried to end the call twice but had been cut off by the officious little man. Her body wanted to be with Sam even as her mind forced her to stay on task.

Moments like this made it clear that she needed to get Allie more involved in leading their countries government. She trusted her cousin implicitly and knew that the Duchess, like her, would always do what was best for their country and it's people.

Finally, reaching the end of her rope, she said, "Ambassador Ambrose, I believe you have made your points, and I thank you for sharing them with me. But, the hour is getting late, and I would like time to consider your perspective ahead of tomorrow's negotiations."

When the man looked like he would interject, she gave him a glare that mirrored one Sam used when her patience was at an end.  

 

"Very well, Your Majesty. I look forward to hearing how the talks go."

 

"Thank you, Ambassador. You will be copied on the notes."

 

As the call ended, it was Helena who spoke first, "That man is an insufferable bore," HG.

 

The room broke out in laughter, knowing there was no love lost between the Ambassador and his boss.  Their enmity dating back to an incident at Buckingham Palace.  As the story went, the Ambassador, drunk on Krug, decided it was a good time to squeeze HG's ass.  Despite the setting, HG promptly put the boorish man on his own ass thanks to a left hook. It was said that after HG's impromptu demonstration, the Queen, herself, sent over a bottle of the good champagne with a note saying, "Rather well done."

When Mia heard, she was livid and had immediately recalled the Ambassador to Great Britain intent on sacking him on the spot. Unfortunately, the man had been an ally of Marbry, who successfully lobbied the House of Commons on Ambrose's behalf. So instead of firing him, she'd given him a hardship posting to a county with a dim view on alcohol. Her ploy had eventually worked as she recently received word that the Ambassador was going to retire after what was hoped would be a successful negotiation.  

 

"Needless to say, I will do my best to unlearn everything he just told me before morning," Mia announced, drawing another round of tired laughter.

 

She stood, closed her portfolio, and handed it off to Claire. She felt confident that her efficient assistant would type up her notes then file them away in the deepest darkest archive, never to be seen again. She shook her head at the waist of her time, then thanked the women standing around the table before bidding them all a pleasant evening.  

With her work done and seeing an empty stairway before her, Mia moved quickly, hoping to avoid further delays. She opened the door to her suite and was momentarily thrilled to see that the lights were still on. Her glee came to an abrupt end when she spotted her girlfriend lying on the bed with her eyes firmly shut. She walked over to the bed and relocated Sam's laptop, which was listing at a dangerous angle. She smiled fondly at the sleeping woman who was wrapped in her comfortable robe. Her heart melted upon seeing how adorable Sam looked when she was sleeping. Mia reached down and carefully removed a lock of hair that had fallen over one of Sam's eyes, causing the woman to stir and roll onto her side.

Mia took note that Sam's motion had caused her robe to fall open, revealing Sam wore nothing underneath. She unconsciously licked her lips, unable to stop herself from thinking about what she had planned to do to her girlfriend tonight.

"Alas," she thought dramatically, deciding to prioritize Sam's need for sleep over her own libidinous desires. So instead, she turned in the direction of the bathroom, thinking that a cool, very cool shower was warranted.  

She slipped out of her dress then placed her crown on a foam bust that had been molded using her precise measurements at the time of her coronation. She stepped in front of the mirror, still wearing a matching bra and panty set along with stocking and garter that had been worn expressly for Sam's pleasure.  

 

"Oh, well," she thought, reaching to unhook her bra. Next, she took a few minutes to remove her makeup and apply moisturizer. She unhooked her stockings before taking off the garter and thong.  A cool shower awaited.  

 

As she finished her shower, it occurred to her that Sam was still wearing her robe. She reached for a towel and used it to dry herself. Deciding she wanted to wake up naked with the woman she loved. Mia bypassed the closet walking directly into their bedroom. Sam, who was now under the covers, lay perfectly still. Mia went to her side of the bed and climbed in. She moved close to the other woman easing behind her sleeping girlfriend. Mia let out a happy sigh when her breast came in contact with the warm, smooth skin of Sam's naked back. Her sigh turned to a moan when Sam pushed her ass back against Mia's core.

 

"Faker," Mia whispered in Sam's ear before taking the lobe into her mouth.

 

Sam breathed out through her nose as her heart began to hammer in her chest. Sam rolled onto her back, allowing Mia to slide on top of her. Their eyes met in the now darkened room as electricity passed between the reunited pair.

"I missed you too," Sam said, spreading her legs allowing Mia to sink in between them. She took a moment to enjoy the feel of the older woman's weight pushing down on her. Mia leaned down and kissed her pushing her tongue against Sam's lips, spurring the younger woman to open her mouth, giving Mia's tongue full access.

Distracted by the motion of Mia's talented tongue, Sam did not immediately notice how Mia had pinned her wrists to the bed. She only became aware of her predicament when she wanted to pull Mia closer. She pushed her arms up, testing Mia's determination, but found her arms well and truly pinned. Sam grinned up at her torturer, knowing from experience that the woman was stronger than she looked.

She gave a push with her pelvis in an attempt to dislodge Mia, but they both knew that her heart wasn't really into it. Sam could probably dislodge Mia if she wanted to, but what she did instead was to turn her head, exposing her neck. Mia looked down and watched as Sam's pulse began to quicken right before her eyes. She leaned down and attached her lips on the pulse point, eliciting a moan from her girlfriend's full lips.

Sam closed her eyes, allowing her mind to focus on one thing and one thing only. The sensation of Mia's lips and tongue as the older woman marked Sam as hers.

 

"Oh, Baby, that feels so good," Sam whispered, wishing she could run her fingers through Mia's lush chocolate brown locks.

 

Instead, she concentrated on the pleasure the other woman wanted to give her. One last nip at her neck and Sam knew she would need concealer to hide the bruise her girlfriend had just made. It did not bother her one bit; in fact, she liked Mia's possessive tendencies. She reconsidered the concealer, thinking she didn't really care who knew that she was Mia's woman. Her musings were interrupted as Mia moved from her neck to her shoulder, taking a nip of her exposed skin. 

Sam's moan this time was a little louder as she had always loved the balance between pleasure and pain. Mia always seemed to know the line, and she trusted the older woman to always come down on the right side of that equation. The pressure on her wrists lessened as Mia moved down Sam's body. By the time Mia took one of Sam's nipples into her mouth, there was very little pressure on her wrist at all. Of course, at that point, Sam's mind was too occupied to care.

 

"Did you miss your playthings," Sam purred, sending a shiver down Mia's spine.

 

The monarch was not too proud to admit that she had indeed missed Sam's breast, but since her mouth was otherwise occupied, she chose to remain silent on the topic. Instead, she used her tongue to make it clear that she was delighted to have her woman back in her arms.  Sam's hips began to buck, signaling her need.  

 

"I need you inside of me," Sam pleaded.

 

"All good things in time, Samantha," Mia responded in that tone that drove Sam to distraction.

 

They had not even been lovers on the first occasion Mia had said her name in that breathy tone. It had made Sam want to drop to her knees on the spot. In fact, she almost had, even though they weren't exactly alone at the time. Later, when she relayed those thoughts to Mia, the woman had laughed then said, "Given how much you turned me on, I may have let you."

 

They both laughed, thinking how inevitable their coupling had been in hindsight.

 

Sam looked down to see that Mia's mouth was currently heading to her danger zone.

 

"Don't you dare," She managed to get out just before Mia plunged her tongue into Sam's belly button.

 

Sam let out a shriek that would have woken the neighbors had they any. Mia gave her a wicked grin before going in again. When Sam was nearly out of breath, Mia relented, nipping Sam's hip bone, trying to balance the feeling of ticklishness with a little bit of pain. The combination made Sam feel light-headed, giddy, and in love.


One look at Sam's now dark eyes told Mia that her moves had had the desired effect.

 

Those eyes said, "I need you, Now!"

 

Just Sam had reached the point that she was willing to beg for Mia to fuck her, three fingers were suddenly at her entrance.

 

"Oh, FUCK, Baby!" Sam exclaimed as two long fingers followed closely by a third were now inside her.

 

With Mia's hands otherwise occupied, Sam was now free to touch her lover. She ran her hands onto Mia's back, feeling the power emanating from her muscles as she pushed her fingers into Sam over and over.  Sam spread her legs wide as Mia began fucking her with long, sure strokes that drove the young woman closer and closer to her release.  Sam looked down at her lover and was immediate, caught by the intensity of her stare.  No one had ever looked at Sam the way that Mia did.  And no one ever would.  Without breaking eye contact. Mia leaned down, then took Sam's quivering clit into her mouth. Sam kept her eyes looked on Mia's as her orgasm crested then swept her away.   

 

"No one loves you the way that I do," Mia whispered to Sam before pulling the woman into her arms.

 

 

AN: A little more clean up here.  I wanted to add a little more context to make it clear that Sam was not settling for a woman who looked like the woman she'd been in love with.  Mia and Andy are very different women with different goals and desires. WB 11-22-20

 

When I initially decided that Sam and Andy had a past together, it was almost a throwaway just to give the characters some context and to add some depth. I think the best stories add enough depth to their characters to make you care if they live or die or fall in love. It wasn't until I got further into the story that I realized that Sam being with a woman that looked so much like Andy might suggest that Sam was settling. I tried my best in this update to explain why Andy made the choices she made and why Sam made the choices that she made and to make it clear that both women are precisely where they want to be.

A big theme in this story is the notion of acceptance. I wanted Miranda to come to the idea on her own. That all she'd gone through, even her own decisions, good or bad, led her to Andy and the life they are building together. I believe that now that she has finally come to accept her past, she can move forward with her life, and we'll learn more about the "new Miranda" moving forward.

Speaking of moving forward, expect to see a reunion between Miranda and Andy and her girls in the near future. Also, expect to see what Emily and Allie have been up to in the next chapter. Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think.

Chapter Text

23.

Andy lay in her bed, surrounded by two redheaded girls who were snuggled close. She had never been a mom, and until Miranda dropped into her life, she would have told anyone who asked that she never would be.

And yet, her motherly instincts seemed to have come to her at just the right time.

It had been an understandably difficult task, explaining to the girls what happened to their father. She had some seriously mixed feelings about Greg. He was the girls' father, and at one point in her life, Miranda had loved him. But, those facts could not excuse what he'd done. Complicating matters further, there was his decision to do the right thing by Miranda and their girls when the chips were down. She shuddered to think of what could have happened if the girls had been with their father last night.

In the end, her gut told her just to be honest with the girls. So she told them what happened minus the gory details. She also made it clear that she suspected that it had something to do with the scheme to hurt their mom. Finally, she shared with the girls how grateful she was that their father had done right by them in the end.

She could tell that it hurt them to be reminded of their father's failings, but it was also apparent that they appreciated her willingness to be candid and not treat them like children.

 

"So, are the police looking for Nichole?" Caroline asked, holding back tears.

 

"Yeah, I have a friend named Blair, and her wife Jo is one of the top officers for the NYPD. Jo and her daughter Vivian, who is also a cop, came to tell me about what happened to your father. I told them all that I could to help them find Nichole."

 

"Good," Cassidy said as angry tears began to fall down her face.

 

Without even knowing it, Andy took on her mother's calming persona as she encouraged the girls to express their feelings. Eventually, Caroline broke down and began to sob uncontrollably. Andy took the girl into her arms while Cass used a hand to make soothing circles on her sister's back. It was only after Caroline fell into a fretful sleep that Cassidy allowed herself to cry openly. The girl's selfless actions confirmed something that Andy had already suspected. Cass saw herself as her sister's protector. Andy opened her arms, offering her tough girl comfort if she wanted it. After a moment, Cass came to her, and Andy pulled the girl to her chest. After a moment, the girl sagged in relief, allowing Andy to comfort her.

Andy knew that no matter how strong Cassidy might be, she was still just a girl mourning the loss of a parent. She had been there, and the steady presence of her adopted grandparents had given her a sense of stability. She would do all that she could to make it clear that she and Miranda would be there for them through it all. Cass's quiet weeping didn't last long as she joined her sister in sleep. Andy ran her hand through Cassidy's hair in a soothing manner as the girl slept. She had already come to care deeply for Miranda's daughters and was therefore happy that they could turn to her as a source of comfort. Eventually, Andy closed her eyes as the stress of the morning finally caught up with her, and soon she too was asleep.

It was early afternoon by the time Andy and the girls woke. Both girls were quiet, but to Andy's eyes, they had both benefited from the rest. She led the girls down to the kitchen, where she made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Playing a hunch, she cut the crust away from each girl's sandwich and got approving nods for her efforts. Despite protesting that they weren't hungry, both girls ate every bite. Andy only ate half of her own grilled cheese as she thought about getting the girls out of the country. She sent the girl up to finish their packing before heading to her office.  

 

There she called Anna, who confirmed that the company's Deso Falcon has just returned from its annual maintenance and can be ready to fly tonight.  That was acceptable and a better option than having to fly commercial out of JFK.  She thanked her for her assistance before asking to speak to Kate.  

 

Andy spent a few minutes bringing her new number two up to speed with everything that happened since they last spoke.

 

"I want you to handle presenting the annual report," Andy said, delegating the only responsibility impeding her from spending the next two weeks or more in Genovia.

 

"Then, I want you and Anna on a plane to Arendale so we can discuss moving forward with plan E."

 

"Yes, ma'am," Kate said, excited that her plan to consolidate European operations was getting the green light.

 

"But before you leave, there is one other thing you can do for me," Andy added.

 

Andy ended the call feeling like she was on a path that would allow her to step back from her life's work, knowing the company would be in good hands.

 

Later, with her and the girls packed, she loaded the luggage in a lightly armored variant of the Bentley Boyega. As the dark blue SUV pulled out of the driveway, another vehicle started its engine and pulled into traffic.

 

"They're on the move," Elise Reyes said, putting her vehicle into gear. Viv nodded her head before getting on the radio to inform the backup teams that they were moving. It had been her mother's idea to sit on Andy's house, suspecting that their murder victim's killers might not be done. Her mother's hunch had proved prescient when they spotted an SUV with darkly tinted glass sitting just down the block from Andy's home. The big American-made SUV stood out like a sore thumb in a neighborhood full of European models.

Not wanting to make the same mistake, Elise was behind the wheel of Viv's personal Porsche 911 Carrera. She rarely drove the car other than trips up to the Warner compound in darkest, Maine. Elise stepped on the gas, causing the Porsche to leap forward just ahead of another car.

 

"I don't care that your wife works for the FBI; if you scratch my baby, I will murder you," Viv warned.

 

"Whatever you say, boss," Elise said before mashing the accelerator again, pushing both cops into the backs of expensive leather seats.

 

Unfortunately, the SUV they were trailing had diplomatic plates making it impossible for them to take action unless they directly witnessed the occupants committing a crime. There had been a fierce debate with her idiot captain as she argued that they should inform Andy of the potential danger. When her captain also denied her request for NYPD Special Operations support, she seriously considered going to her mother to intercede on the side of sanity. She had been just about to call when Stone Stone pointed out what should have been obvious to her.

 

"If it gets out that the Chief overruled a captain on your behalf, it might cost her the chance to be commissioner when the old man retires."

 

With limited options, she'd pulled in her best detectives, including Stone and Reyes for this detail and even called in a favor to get their FBI liaison to put one of their helicopters on standby.

It was not a hard case to make that while the bulk of their work involved counter-terrorism, an international conspiracy involving rogue elements of a foreign government operating on American soil was certainly within the FBI's wheelhouse. Playing a hunch of her own, she also notified the New Jersey State cops of their operation, assuming Andy was headed to her company's corporate hangar in Teterboro. They took turns switching off between themselves and the two other units. Viv watched from down the block through binoculars as Andy's SUV pulled up to a security checkpoint. Andy presented I.D. before being allowed to proceed through the gates.

 

"Where did those other SUVs come from," Stone said over the com net.

 

Viv swung her Binoculars up the street a little to see two more dark vehicles moving towards the entrance fast.

 

"Shit," Viv said, watching the whole operation going sideways in a hurry.

 

"All Units move in," She said just as the first SUV hit the barricade. Luckily the barrier held, but before any of the police units could react, the occupants of the vehicle fired on the two guards.

 

Thinking fast, Viv dialed a number on her phone. 

 

When the call was answered, Viv spoke fast, "Andy, this is Viv Warner. I need you to listen then do exactly as I say."

 

When Andy didn't respond, Viv continued, "I need you to drive to your hanger as fast as you can. Once you're inside, I want you to turn your vehicle so the nose is facing out, then get your girls and yourself down on the floor. Keep everyone's heads down."

Viv could hear Andy's engine rev as she accelerated. The first SUV pulled back, then hit the barricade again, then a third time until it finally gave way. The three vehicles raced through the checkpoint following Andy's taillights. Moments later, the 911 sprinted past the remains of the ruined barrier. Viv looked out of the window, catching movement as at least one of the guards on the ground moved. She used her radio to get ambulance support and to call for the FBI air unit.

Thanks to the warning, Andy's Bentley was well ahead of her pursuers. Viv watched as Andy pulled directly into the hangar. She threw her fist in the air as she realized that hangar doors were closing behind the SUV. By the time the three pursuing vehicles reached the hangar, the doors were firmly shut. The lead vehicle tried ramming the door, but the reinforced steel refused to budge.

 

"Good job closing the doors, Andy. Now stay put and let us take care of the rest."

 

OK, be careful. Viv," Andy said, sounding more in control than Viv had expected."

 

"Shit," Elise said.

 

Viv looked up to see men climbing out of each SUV and pointing rifles in their direction. Elise stood hard on the brakes, then swung the wheel hard right, pushing the Porsche into a 180-degree spin, and putting the 911's rear-mounted engine between them and the men with assault rifles. Both detectives hunkered down as the assailants began to fire. Viv winced as she both heard and felt bullets impacting the rear of her beloved sports car.

Viv watched as detectives Stone and Murphy came out of their vehicle, guns up and firing. Detectives Lair and Stern did the same on their other side, immediately laying down covering fire of their own. 

 

"Tell me you brought something more powerful than that peashooter," Viv said to Stone over the radio.

 

"You know me so well," Stone answered back, producing the M4 carbine that he still carried from his days with the special operations branch.

 

"Those guys are wearing body armor," Stern said, having just hit one of the assaulters center mass to no effect.

 

Viv toggled a switch turning on her backup camera and giving her a clear view of the battle raging behind them.

 

"Looks like they're wearing tactical vests, so aim low." Viv pointed out.

 

"That's cold," Stone said, but she could hear the grin in his voice.

 

Viv looked at Elise, who had her weapon out, ready to take action. She pointed toward the screen at the center of the dash before saying, "We go as soon as they reload."

 

She got a grim yet determined nod from Elise before they both focused on the 12in display. When the guy on Viv's side ran out, she pushed her door open and rolled out of the vehicle. She came up in a combat stance and fired three rounds. She heard a shriek for pain as her target went down, shot through the knee. He hit the ground with a thud but still had a firm grip on his rifle, so she fired another salvo striking him in the upper shoulder and the head.

She switched her aim to the next closest target, grazing him, but he was still up, and he returned fire, missing her by inches. When she saw that Elise had taken down the guy on her side, she suggested that they pull back towards the front of the car. Viv kept low as the assailant fired another volley over her head.

Stone must have seen she was in trouble as he targeted her assaulter, pushing him back behind cover and allowing Viv to reach the front end of the Porsche. Elise joined her there a moment later, a little out of breath but was otherwise 100% combat effective. Having learned a great deal about shooting from John Stone, she was not surprised when one then another man went down from shots fired from her former partner's rifle.

 

"Where are the Jersey cops?" Viv asked over the net.

 

"There five minutes out," John Stone called back over the radio.

 

"That was not good news. There were a lot of bad things that could happen in five minutes, particularly when they were this out-gunned," Viv thought, knowing her detectives had already come to the same conclusion.

 

Viv lifted her head just enough to get a better understanding of their situation. It appeared that they were still facing at least eight assailants, with four more on the ground seemingly out of the fight.

 

"Lair is down. Took one to the leg. May have nicked the femoral," Stern called out in short, clipped sentences.

 

"Pull back; we already have paramedics en route," Viv said.

 

"That's the problem everyone is en route, but nobody is fucking here," Elise said in a low voice.

 

Viv couldn't help but agree.  And she'd have her captain's head for not approving her request to have Special Ops riding shotgun. 

 

"If there is anything left after Jo Polnicheck finishes tearing strips out of the captain's hide," Viv thought grimly.

 

She also thought that if things really went south, her mom would do a lot worse to the incompetent commander.

 

"How many rounds you got," Viv asked the woman crouching next to her.

 

Before she could answer, Elise spotted one of the attackers who was moving forward in an attempt to flank their position. The detective smoothly pivoted and put two rounds into his leg before her last shot clipped his neck.

 

"All out," Elise said.

 

Viv reached behind her and grabbed her last clip before tossing it to the woman responsible for watching her blindside.

 

Viv heard a yell causing her to look back to see that Murphy had taken a round to the shoulder near the upper edge of his vest.

 

"Stone take Murph and fall back," Viv called over the radio.

 

"That's a bad idea, Lt," John answered back.

 

"It's also an order," Viv said before sending more rounds towards the nearest attacker.

 

Stone emptied two full clips taking down another bad guy and injuring another before carrying out Viv's order and falling back with a barely conscious Trevor Murphy.

 

"What now?" Elise asked.

 

"Fuck if I know," Viv admitted before firing to repel two advancing men.

 

"That's what I was afraid of," Elise said, doing the same thing on her side.

 

"They know that they are trapped, so they are trying to overrun us," her fellow detective said.

 

Viv knew that Elise was correct and that holding them off for another two minutes with no more than a dozen rounds between them wasn't going to happen.

 

"They're coming," Elise said, her voice tight.

 

Viv looked through the cracked windshield of the Porsche and confirmed that all six remaining attackers were coming at them in a widely-spaced combat formation. She took aim but didn't fire, knowing that she had to make every remaining round count.

 

"I'm sorry I got you into this," Viv said, unable to spare a moment to look at her fellow officer.

 

"I knew what I was signing up for," Elise said.

 

Viv wished she could call her mothers and her sister to tell them that she loved them, but there was no time. Elise fired first, taking down one man on her side and forcing another to fall back temporarily before her Glock locked open out of ammunition. Viv faired a little better, taking out one and hitting another in the lower leg before she was out. Both detectives took cover, looking around for anything they could use to defend themselves.

Before the remaining men could get any closer, the remaining assailants began taking fire from the FBI helicopter as it swept in low and fast. The advance stalled as rounds started to pour out of the open side, and two agents wearing FBI body armor repelled down from the hovering craft.

 

"Stay down," came the voice of Stephanie Reyes. Elise's wife closed the distance fast, firing her MP-10 submachine. Stephanie hit the first guy with quick, accurate shots before the other guy turned and tried to run. Stephanie tackled the man from behind, bouncing his head off the tarmac in the process. The other agent had farther to go, but the tall man covered the ground in long, sure strides. The agent fired one-handed while reaching into his thigh holster and tossing Viv a Springfield 45.

Viv caught the weapon before turning and following the agent's intent of providing cover fire. The man she had already injured went down in a hail of bullets fired from the agent, who was now several paces ahead. Viv heard a sound to her right and, to her horror, saw the last attacker aiming at her. Before the first round left his rifle, the FBI agent crashed into her, knocking them both to the ground. She hit the ground, and for just a moment, she caught sight of a pair of stormy blue eyes staring down at her. Before it began, the moment was over as the FBI agent rolled off of her before firing at the final attacker, putting him down for good.

 

Stephanie approached her wife and held out a hand, "Sorry for being late."

 

Elise took the offered hand, then kissed the woman she loved hard on the lips. "I take it that means I'm forgiven," the raven-haired Latina said with a smirk.

 

"I'll show you in bed tonight."

 

Despite Elise's bravado, both women knew their lovemaking tonight would be to confirm that they were alive and whole. Soon, they were surrounded Jersey State Cops, who immediately fanned out and began securing the scene. The agent who had just saved Viv's life twice in a matter of minutes approached her and held out a hand. Viv took the offered hand, allowing the agent to pull her to her feet.

 

"Thanks," Viv said, still feeling wired from the prolonged adrenaline rush.

 

"Sorry, we couldn't be here sooner, but air traffic control wouldn't permit us to approach because of a landing plane. Reyes finally told the pilot that she would take responsibility and to get us on deck and fast," the agent said, pulling off his helmet.

 

Viv stared in wide-eyed disbelief as he turned out to be a very attractive she. The agent shook out long blonde hair that had been pinned in a tight bun.

 

"I'm Helga, by the way," she said, holding out a hand.

 

"Her name is actually Brunhilda," Stephanie said, approaching them with her arm around Elise's waist.

 

"I don't care what her name is; she saved my ass," Viv responded.

 

Helga gave her a curious look that turned into a bright smile before saying, "I'm not going to touch that statement."

 

The four women let out a laugh as the tension of the last few minutes began to bleed away.

 

After getting confirmation that her detectives were going to be OK, Viv suggested, "Why don't we go and check on Andy and her girls."

 

"It's all over out here. Can you let us in?" Viv asked after dialing Andy's number.

 

Viv disconnected the call as the big steel doors opened just enough to give them access. As Viv led Elise and the two FBI agents into the hangar, she could feel Helga's eyes on her.

Viv turned her head to say something to Elise and Stephanie, using the movement to confirm that Helga was indeed eyeing her backside.

 

"So it wasn't my imagination," Viv thought while unconsciously adding a little extra sway to her hips.   

 

Viv approached Andy, who was now standing next to the Bentley.

 

"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you that we were watching your place," Viv said, holding out a hand.

 

"I'm just glad that you were," Andy responded, taking Viv's hand.

 

Viv motioned the other woman over, introducing Andy to Elise, Stephanie, and finally, Helga.

 

Andy shook hands with the impressively statuesque Helga before moving on to Stephanie. She paused for a long moment looking at Elyse Reyes. The woman bore more than just a passing resemblance to herself while also bearing a striking resemblance to Andy's mother. Andy didn't know much about her mother's side of the family, so she made a note to compare family trees with the detective once all of this was over.

 

"How are your girls," Viv asked.

 

"Slept through the whole thing," Andy said, indicating the two sleeping girls in the back of the undamaged SUV.

 

"Well, it will take us a couple of hours to clear the scene out there, but we should be able to get you in the air before midnight," Viv said.

 

Andy thanked the four women again after Viv promised to let her know the moment they could take off. Andy headed back to the jet, pulling out her phone.  She needed to warn Queen Amelia's security of the escalated threat. 

 

AN: A little more clean up.  I change Hilda to Helga because I liked Helga more.  I also had Andy call the Queen's security personal because she didn't want Sam to go off half-cocked. WB 11-22-20  

I rewrote this chapter a couple of times before I landed here. I hope you enjoyed where it ended up. The girls and Andy are headed for their reunion with Miranda after a slight delay to hose down the tarmac.
Happy New Year!!!

Chapter Text

24.

For Emily, the ride from Aren Hall to nearby Arendale provided her with some much needed time to gather her thoughts. Something that had been a challenge, since meeting the striking woman sitting next to her. Her whole world felt upended, and she was having a hard time keeping up with the changes. There was just something about the marine pilot that frankly fascinated her. The woman's striking features were offset by kind eyes and a lopsided grin that melted her heart. She did not want o think about what it did to that other parts of her body right now.

"And, god those cheekbones," Emily thought before letting out an audible sigh.

She cut her eyes towards the other woman, hoping the engine noise was enough to cover her faux pas. The rakish grin she got from the brunette said otherwise, causing Emily's cheek to burn from embarrassment and something else.

She felt a pull towards the other woman that went deeper than Allie's looks. There was something about the woman's quiet confidence and strong bearing that Emily found hard to resist. And to be perfectly honest, she didn't want to.

She knew that when she fell, she fell hard. It had certainly been that way with her ex, which was why it hurt so badly when it ended. There had also been her brief flirtation with Sam. Thankfully, the young woman let her down easy before her feelings could get any stronger.

She knew she should be more cautious with Allie, but.

She smiled to herself ruefully as she finished that sentence in her head.

"But it's already too late."

She closed her eyes to enjoy the ocean breeze and soon drifted off.

Sometime later, she awoke to the sound of Allie announcing that they'd arrived. Emily blinked a few times as her mind attempted a slow reboot. It wasn't until she went to reach for her purse that she realized that her unconscious mind had allowed her hand to wander over to Allie's thigh.

"Muscular thigh," a part of her brain tried to correct before she shushed it.

Emily gave the other woman a dirty look because this was all her fault, after all. When she got one of Allie's endearing crooked smiles in return, her glare turned downright nasty.

But honestly, how dare she look so adorable while Emily was doing her best to be pissed.

Oh, of course, she knew that she as being a bit unreasonable, and maybe it wasn't Allie's fault that her subconscious wanted Allie to fuck her brains out.

"Just your subconscious," some traitorous part of her mind added.

Trying to regroup, she very belatedly removed her hand from Allie's leg, resolving not to do anything about these feelings until after a full night's sleep.

Unfortunately, fate, in the form of one Samantha Dean, had different plans for her evening.

Her resolve started to crack as soon as Allie opened her door and offered her a hand. This kind of chivalry had been severely lacking in her life of late. Once out of the car, Allie offered her arm. So despite her earlier annoyance, Emily graciously acceded to the chivalrous gesture, allowing Allie to guide her into the hotel. Emily was immediately charmed by the warmly lit hotel lobby. It reminded her of a hotel in Paris that her adopted parents had taken her on holiday. Her fond memories mixed with Allie's kind gesture got Emily to relax and just enjoy the moment.

Allie gave the woman standing behind the reception desk, the name Sam had chosen as her alias.

"Ah, Mrs., and Mrs. Clark. Congratulations on your recent nuptials. We've reserved the honeymoon suite for your stay," the woman said in Parisian accented English.

When Allie's stunned silence lasted a little too long, Emily smoothly stepped in.

"We couldn't be happier to be staying at your hotel for our honeymoon. It reminds me so much of the Hotel d'Aubusson in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It was were she proposed," Emily concluded, really getting into character.

"My parents own a chocolate shop on the Rue de Richelieu," the woman whose name tag said Rene responded.

Emily's eyes lit up as she reviewed the shops along Richelieu.

"Chocolat pécheur," Emily said, remembering why the young woman looked so familiar.

"You've been there?" Rene asked.

Allie wondered if Emily was even aware that she'd was no longer speaking English. While Allie's French was decent, if a little rusty, she had a hard time following the two women's rapid-fire conversation. From what she could pick up, they were discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of Swiss and Belgian chocolates.

Allie gave the woman pretending to be her spouse and indulgent look that was only partially feigned. Despite the instant attraction she felt towards the other woman, Allie was worried that it was purely a physical thing. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but she wanted that spark; she felt to mean something deeper. Now seeing Emily speak with passion even on such an inane topic gave Allie hope that her instincts were correct.

Something in the way Allie was looking at her pretend wife must have caught Rene's attention, as the young woman quickly turned the conversation back to business.

"Your room, meals, and all incidentals are paid for, so all you need to do is enjoy our hotel," Rene said, handing over wristbands the hotel used as keycards.

"I'm afraid we won't see much of the hotel outside of our room for a few days," Emily said, sounding quite convincing to Allie's ears.

When Rene gave her supposed wife a conspiratorial wink, Allie felt her cheeks warm from an unexpected blush. She looked at her fake wife and got a smile so warm that Allie knew that it had to be genuine. When Emily took her arm, Allie suddenly felt like they were no longer playing pretend.

Allie opened the door to the suite, resisting the urge to carry her bride over the threshold. She thought she caught a look of disappointment as she held the door for Emily to enter first.

Emily wasn't really expecting Allie to carry her into their room, but it would have been nice to feel the woman's strong arms on her body. Whatever disappointment she may have felt was erased when she caught sight on once of the most romantic settings she'd ever encountered. The suite was softly lit with fresh cut flowers on just about every surface and beautifully set table for two sitting in the middle of the suite's living room. The soft grin on Allie's face made it clear that she was also affected by the intimate setting.

But when Emily's eyes fell on a particular flower, she could not help the laughter that escaped her mouth. She wanted to explain things to Allie, but the confused look on the other woman's face only added fuel to the fire.

When Emily's doubled over with laughter, Allie gave the pretty redhead an amused look.

"Ok, what's so funny?" Allie finally asked.

"Freesias!" Emily barked out between laughs.

"Fucking Feesias!"

"I'm guessing there is a story in there somewhere," Allie said, still sounding amused.

Once she got her laughter under control, Emily told Allie the story of how Miranda had demanded that a one-legged Emily remove every single Freesia from the hotel's grand ballroom during Paris Fashion Week."

When Allie didn't quite get why the situation was so funny, Emily broke out into laughter again.

"I guess you had to be there!?" Emily said as she laughed so hard that tears were now in her eyes.

"You have a good laugh," Allie said, causing the atmosphere to change.

"Most people believe that I'm incapable of experiencing humor, so no one tries to make me laugh."

"Their loss," Allie said.

The moment intensified when Emily looked up into Allie's dark, intense eyes.

Emily felt her breath quicken as Allie moved into her personal space. The brunette reached out and gently stroked Emily's cheek before saying, "Well, I'll have to give you a reason to laugh more often."

Emily leaned into the caress, unable to remember the last time she'd been treated with such tenderness. Despite Allie's pledge, the last thing Emily wanted to do right now was to laugh. In fact, there were several things she would rather do.

"or have her do to you," she a part of her mind added.

The rest of her wholeheartedly agreed.

But, before any of those things could happen, they were interrupted by a knock at the door. To her credit, Allie did not immediately withdraw her hand. Instead, she brushed Emily's cheek before saying, "I'll see who that is and get rid of them."

'Because they aren't as important to me as you.'

Even though that last part went unsaid, Emily heard it none the less.

She felt a little breathless, wondering what would happen when Allie returned.

Despite her promise, when Allie returned, she was not alone. She escorted in three waiters bearing gifts. The first waiter set the table for them while the other two laid out a platter full of fruits and cheeses, a bottle of expensive wine, two slices of a divine looking chocolate cake, and a carafe of what smelled like her favorite tea.

Seeing the items laid out before them, Emily narrowed her eyes, wondering how Sam had conscripted her mother into her little conspiracy. She shook her head at the unlikely duo's ham-handed matchmaking. Then she took a look around the suite and begrudgingly admitted that they had, in fact, created the perfect atmosphere for her and Allie to get to know each other.

Allie walked the men to the door then pulled Emily's chair out, allowing her to sit.

Next, she opened the bottle of wine and poured each of them a glass. While they ate from excellent cheese and fruit platter, Allie was the first to speak.

"I want you to know that while I am happy, we are where we are. I played no part in Sam's little scheme."

"Oh, I knew that from the moment Rene called us Mrs. and Mrs. Clark. You should have seen the look on your face," Emily said, unable to contain her laughter.

"I was just a little taken aback," Allie said a little defensively. But when she let out her own soft laugh, Emily could tell that the woman didn't take herself too seriously. Emily knew she had a reputation for being stuck up and aloof, but in reality she was neither of those things nor did she want those characteristics in a mate. As the conversation continued, Emily found that Allie's parents had done an excellent job raising their daughter to ignore the trappings of her station. Instead, she was raised with a sense of duty to her country and its people.

"It's why I joined the Royal Marines after their deaths," Allie said, and Emily could tell what it cost her to mention her parents' deaths. Emily wanted to show sympathy, but worried that her gesture would be mistaken for pity. She didn't pity Allie.
She admired her for turning tragedy into purpose.

"I never met your parents, but I imagine they would be proud to see what you've done with your life."

Allie couldn't speak for a moment as she digested Emily's words. On some level, she knew that her parents would be proud of her choices, but for some reason, hearing Emily say it brought tears to her eyes.

"Thank you for saying that," Allie finally managed unable to hide the emotion welling up in her throat.

Allie's willingness to express her emotions so freely and to accept comfort when offered left Emily with the strong desire to take the other woman into her arms and just hold her.

"Fuck it," Emily thought before walking to the other woman and pulling her into a hug. She felt Allie's arms around her as she held onto Emily like she was a life preserver.

The two just held each other until Allie's tears ran dry.

"I seldomly talk about my parents with anyone except Mia or our grandmother," Allie admitted.

Emily smiled at the other woman before saying, "I am honored that you felt comfortable enough to share with me."

As she held the other woman, she reflected how her ex had never been willing to be this open with her. It had been the undoing of their relationship. Well, that and the fact that the woman had been playing hide the salami with that fucking hockey player. She decided not to spend another moment thinking about she who must not be named. Instead, she chose to focus on the remarkably strong woman in her arms.

Eventually, the two women resumed their seats, and Emily took over the conversation, sensing that Allie needed a moment to recover.

She gave Allie a brief summary of her time in England. It wasn't that she didn't love her home country or her adoptive parents; she just felt like her current life began the day she first met Miranda.

Predictably the story got far more complicated as she described her time at Runway and her eventual discovery of her deeper connection to her boss. She went on to describe the fallout after Miranda's ouster from the magazine and finished by describing her frantic search for her mother.

It was Allie's turn to offer comfort stroking Emily's hand as she expressed her fears of not finding her mother alive. The gesture meant to be comforting, elicited another reaction as Emily felt herself become aroused. Emily was not big on the one night stand, and when she gave her heart, she gave it completely. So she needed Allie to know it all.

She told Allie the sad tale of the woman she'd loved, and she'd broken her heart.

When she described her ex's nearly successful attempt to seduce her into a threesome with her new husband, she could hear Allie whisper, "that bitch."

Finally, she told Allie how she'd sought comfort in the form of her boss Erica and the woman's secretary slash girlfriend.

To her credit, Emily saw no judgment in Allie's eyes, just compassion and something more profound. No one had ever looked at her that way before. Years later, she would think of this as the moment she fell in love with the woman who would go on to become her wife.

After that, the subjects became lighter as they enjoyed their chocolate cake and tea.

Emily didn't want this evening to end, but when she yawned for the third time, Allie intervened, saying, "We should probably get you to bed, princess."

Emily's sharp tongue was seconds from lashing out, thinking that the other woman was making fun of her somehow. The earnest and caring look on Allie's face caused her to swallow the barb. Allie gave her a curious look, obviously picking up on Emily's sudden change in mood.

Realizing that Allie was incapable of that kind of cruelty, Emily felt a sudden need to apologize for the unsaid barb.

"You are going to have to be patient with me. It happened earlier tonight and again just now. You said something in all earnestness that I mistakenly believed you said in jest.

Both times I managed to stop myself from saying something hurtful disguised as wit. I get that talent from my mother, whose words can cut to the bone.

I care about you, Allie, and I don't want to ruin whatever this thing between us could be. So please be patient with me when I speak faster than I can stop myself."

Allie gave Emily a warm, indulgent smile that spoke of a deep well of patience. Patience that Emily was afraid she would sorely test.

"Consider me warned, now come here," Allie said.

Emily melted when Allie enfolded her in her arms. She lowered her head onto Allie's broad shoulders, reveling in the other woman's comforting warmth.

They held onto each other swaying gently, perfectly content to share the same space, to breathe the same air, and to enjoy the start of something meaningful.

AN:

A bit of a shorter update, but I did promise that Emily would not be alone for long. I know that this is a change of pace from the action in the previous chapter, but a necessary one, in my opinion. The next chapter will pick up where we left Mia and Sam, and we will move one step closer to the Andy Miranda reunion. I know it's been a minute. Overall I would say the story is past the halfway point, but don't worry, there is still a lot more story to tell. I continue to appreciate all the great feedback that I've gotten on this story. It helps to keep going even on the days when writing is harder than I would like it to be. So thank you!!!

Chapter Text

25

 

Mia Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia, woke, as she did most mornings these days, with a smile on her face. The reason for that smile was the firecracker of a woman who she was currently spooning. Sam, her Sam now, had come into her life like a bolt of lightning on a perfectly clear day. They’d met less than a year ago when Sam visited the capital to meet with members of her government to negotiate a deal to open a new bottling facility.  Her only role was to drop into the meeting and be introduced to the delegation from the Sach company.  She’d expected to be re-acquainted with the company’s CEO Andy, who’d she shared more than passing resemblance and it turned out a few common ancestors.  Instead, she found herself face to face with the most breathtaking woman she’d ever seen in her life.      

 

So, she’d stayed for the entirety of the meeting just so she’d have the opportunity to invite the younger woman to a private dinner.  A private dinner that turned out to be fateful as they established that they had the kind of chemistry that she’d never experienced before.  Despite the clear physical attraction and explosive chemistry, they had not fallen directly into bed.  Not on that trip anyway.  They did exchange numbers, and despite the time difference and their busy schedules, they found themselves talking several days a week. Before long, they found themselves talking every day just to share a bit of their day with each other.  By the time Sam’s next visit was scheduled, there was little doubt they would become lovers and more.  

 

Mia reached down to smooth out Sam’s suddenly furrowed brow.  Her smile turned more wistful as she realized her girlfriend was having an unpleasant dream. Her hunch was confirmed as the younger woman began to hum in her sleep.  On its surface, the fact that Sam hummed in her sleep was adorable; however, Mia knew that Sam’s humming held a deeper meaning.

 

  



  • Flashback. 



Mia and Sam lay in her bed in Aren Hall, naked.  It was the spring, and the two had been lovers since Sam’s second trip, the previous winter.  They’d spent most of the day touring the city that, after her native San Franciso, had become her favorite. There was something about the mixture of old-world charm mixed with a modern flair that encapsulated the best of her adopted country.  After the tour, they’d had a wonderful dinner.  The staff at Aren Hall always went out of their way to outshine those who worked in the Capital Palace. After enjoying an after-dinner drink, they came up to her bedroom and fallen directly into bed.  After making love, she’d eased behind the younger woman, serving as the big spoon to Sam’s little spoon just as the younger woman began to hum.  Her heart filled with joy, assuming the humming was an intentional sign of the happiness they both felt.  But as her humming continued, something in Sam’s tone turned melancholy.  

 

As the song came to an end, Mia pulled at the younger woman, rolling her, so they were face to face.  Mia’s heart sank when she saw heavy tears leaking from Sam’s sad eyes.  

 

“What’s the matter, my love,” Mia asked, as she cleared away a tear that had fallen to Sam’s right cheek.  

 

Sam offered her lover a sad smile before saying, “Just a bad dream.”

 

With the other women, she’d shared a bed with, Mia would have let it go at that, but Sam was special.  She mattered in a way the others had not.

 

“Hey, talk to me,” Mia gently prodded.  

 

“It’s silly,” Sam said, trying one last deflection.  

 

Mia didn’t respond verbally, but she softened her features to make it clear that she was open to whatever Sam had to say.

 

“...I was,” Sam began, but the young woman had to clear her throat before she could speak.  

 

“You know that I was young when my mother died?”

 

Mia nodded, remaining quiet, trying not to blunt the younger woman’s momentum.  

 

“I don’t have many memories of her, but one that stands out is her singing me an old Stevie 

Wonder song.”

 

“You are the sunshine of my life,” Mia offered, having recognized the tune Sam had been humming moments ago. 

 

“Yeah,” Sam agreed.

 

“I love that song, and I hate it.”

 

The confused look on Mia’s expressive face prompted Sam to elaborate.



“After my parents were gone, I would cry myself to sleep.  My Aunt Angela later told me that she would look in on me, and I would be humming that song to try and calm myself enough so that I could fall asleep.”

 

Inside her badass girlfriend lived a little girl who missed her mother. Mia’s heart broke for that little girl just as she fell more deeply in love with the present version.  

 

“Thank you for sharing that with me,” Mia said.



“I’ve never told anyone about that, not even Andy.”

 


Mia was taken aback by that.  She’d know, of course, that Sam and Andy were long time friends and had been lovers. Perhaps this was different for Sam as well, the older woman concluded, before wrapping lover in a cocoon of arms and legs.  

 

“I love you,” Mia said after working up her courage.  But if Sam could be that open about her feelings, she could do no less.  

 

“I love you too,” Sam responded without hesitation.  



  • End Flashback  



Mia gently ran her hand up Sam’s back before she began to sing. 



“You are the sunshine of my life

 

That's why I'll always be around

 

You are the apple of my eye

 

Forever you'll stay in my heart …”



Sam’s dream was always the same.  She was in her childhood bedroom, and her mother was putting her to bed.  Which she steadfastly refused to do unless she got her song.  As had happened in life, her mother would pretend to give the idea some thought before finally relenting.  Her mother would begin to sing, and she would lie down and close her eyes.  Sam loved this part of the dream, but not the rest.  Just as she was on the verge of falling asleep in the dream, her mother’s singing would come to an abrupt halt.  When she opened her eyes, her mother was always gone.  Despite her frantic attempts to find her mother, the child version of herself never would.  Instead, she would end up back in her bed, alone, trying to sing the song to calm herself.  But she could never remember the words, so she would hum them as she cried herself to sleep.  

 

She had just begun to hum when she heard it.  Not her mother’s voice, but a voice so full of love that the little girl that still lived within Sam immediately calmed.  When Sam came out of her dream, she instantly remembered where she was.  She also knew exactly what had just happened.  She rolled over and looked up at Mia and was greeted by a wan smile as the other woman reached out and stroked her dry cheek. 



“Did you tell your mother that I said hello?” Mia asked, acknowledging Sam’s dream.



Sam gave the woman an odd look before responding, “I’m a kid in my dream; I’m not sure my mother would react well if I told her about the grown woman I had fallen for.”

 

“You could just tell her that I’m your special friend,” Mia responding, enjoying the early morning banter.  

 

“I suppose I could.  But what happens when she askes me what makes my friend so special.” 

 

“You tell me,” Mia responded. 

 

“Well,” Sam began, pretending to be deep in thought.  

 

“I guess I would tell her that my special friend was the most wonderful, thoughtful, and loving friend that her daughter could ever hope for; and that she hoped that this person would always be her special friend.”

 

Mia smiled down at the young woman who now owned her heart before responding, “Do you know what I would say to your mother if I could speak to her.”

 

Sam looked questioningly at her lover, wholly unsure where this was going.  

 

“First, I would tell her how wonderful of a woman that her daughter has become. How she is at once, fierce and kind.  Soft but not weak. That she is loved and will be until the day that I am no longer capable of feeling such emotions.  That with her blessing that I would like to spend the rest of my life, proving myself worthy of her only daughter.”

 

The tears sprang to Sam’s eyes as she listened to Mia’s earnest words.  

 

Mia took both of Sam’s hand in hers before she began again, “It was in this very room in this very same bed that I first realized that I loved you.  But it was more than that.  I also realized that this was the first time that I had ever really been in love.  It filled me with wonder, and it scared me a little.  

 

What if you didn’t feel as strongly?

 

What if the feeling faded with time?

 

But you see, when you left for the States, It was like losing half of my heart. Half of my soul.”

 

Sam couldn’t hold back the tears as she nodded along with the sentiment.  She’d missed Mia terribly the last few weeks they’d been apart. 

 

“So, I’m going to be brave. 

 

“I can’t imagine my world without you in it. You are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened in my life, and I would be honored if you would agree to become my Queen.”

 

As proposals went, Sam had to admit this was damn good, but it wouldn’t have mattered how Mia asked; the answer would have been the same.

 

“Yes!”

 

    

 

AN:  “You are the sunshine of my life.” was released by Stevie Wonder in 1973. I can only say that I’m glad to have something new to share on this story.  I went back and forth about how to move this story forward, including starting over from scratch.  In the end, I decided that it wasn’t fair to all of those who’ve read and enjoyed the story.  So I’m moving forward, not backward.  Thanks for all the encouragement that I received to keep this story going, and as always, I hope you enjoy.  

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 26

 

The newly engaged couple decided that they weren’t quite ready to get out of bed.  What occurred over the next hour was a microcosm of their relationship, as Sam’s quick and intense passions eventually gave way to Mia’s slow, steady burn.  It wasn’t that the older woman felt any less passion; she had just learned over the years the benefits of taking one’s time.  And Sam was certainly worth the effort. Afterward, Sam lay on her stomach and Mia on her side, running her hands up and down the younger woman’s spine.  Sam let out an involuntary shiver as Mia’s fingertip slipped lower still.  

 

“We don’t have time,” Sam prompted, aware of Mia’s full schedule today.  

 

“I know, but I also want to leave you wanting more of me,” The Queen stated, her voice low in timber.  

 

“I don’t think either of us has anything to worry about there,” Sam assured, already feeling her body react.  She’d never known someone who could affect her just by changing the town of her voice.  She shook her head to clear it before rolling away.

 

“If you don’t get moving, you’re going to leave the ambassador waiting,” Sam warned.  

 

“Especially since I get the shower first,” Sam said, moving swiftly towards the en-suite.  

 

Mia simply shook her head, enjoying watching the younger woman go. 

 

“There is room enough to for two,” Mia added, speaking to an empty room.   

 

Sam stood under the hot spray provided by the rain shower head in Mia’s roomy shower.  The young woman let out a very unladylike squeak as a smooth hand snaked around her middle.

 

Sooner than either woman would have liked, the two women emerged from the Royal Suite dressed and ready to tackle a new day.  Mia dressed in a cream Dior pants suit paired with black Prada heels.  Her outfit was complemented by a diamond bracelet on her left wrist and a smaller version of her ceremonial crown.  The bracelet was a gift from Sam. For her part, Sam had chosen a dress of all things, figuring she needed to get used to wearing them.  Not that she was a complete tomboy.  Especially compared to her adopted sister, who didn't even wear a dress to her own wedding.  On the other hand, she wasn't nearly as girly as her sister-in-law.  In general, she preferred slacks or jeans because she hated to have cold legs.  

 

Fortunately, Mia had introduced her to the world of high-end hosiery.  She’d quickly dismissed pantyhose as two restrictive, but the first time Mia had seen her wearing stockings held up by a garter, she knew she had a winner. Luckily a lifetime of wearing heeled motorcycle boots translated well to wearing four-inch pumps.  The well-dressed couple made their way down to the more informal family dining room for breakfast.  Miranda and the former Queen were deep in conversation as the current Queen and Sam entered.  Hand in hand. Queen Clarissa looked on as her granddaughter gallantly pulled out the younger woman’s chair, allowing Sam to take her seat before taking her own.  

 

“We have news,” Mia announced after the staff had taken their breakfast orders.

 

Both women looked up intently, but neither was surprised when Mia continued, “I have asked Samantha for her hand in marriage, and she has exceeded.”

 

“Congratulations, my dears,” Clarissa offered, having long ago come to terms that her granddaughter would be happier sharing her life with a fellow Queen rather than a King. 

 

“Congratulations,” Miranda added, genuinely happy for the Queen and her young friend.  

 

The former Queen had not had much time to get to know the woman who was set to become her granddaughter-in-law.  

 

“But I will,” she thought, giving both women a knowing smile.  

 

Mia returned the smile as an unspoken conversation occurred between the two Renaldi women.  

 

“What am I missing?” Sam asked. 

 

“Well, my dear, we have a well-established tradition in this family for introducing the uninitiated into the rules of becoming a royal. “

 

“Princess lessons, really?” Sam asked incredulously. 

 

Mia merely shrugged before saying, “They worked for me.”

 

Sam’s head pounding against the table told Clarissa that she had her work cut out for her.  




Andy came awake the second time her phone buzzed with an incoming message. She looked around, taking a moment to orient herself before remembering she was in the small sleeping quarters at the rear of the company’s Deso Falcon 8x.  Grabbing her phone, she read an incoming text from Kate about today’s Elias Clark board meeting.  She sent a quick reply to her former first assistant before noting the time.  A quick mental calculation told her that it had been just over six hours since they’d taken off from the airport in Jersey. Giving that they were flying at a significant fraction of the speed of sound, that meant they should be approaching the European mainland.  

 

She moved to the edge of the bed, where she retrieved her Adidas trainers before slipping them on her feet.  She never flew in heels. Back in the main cabin, she found the twins being served breakfast by one of the stewards her company employed from time to time.  

 

“And what would you like, Ms. Sachs?” the steward, whose name was Andres, asked.  

 

“I think I’ll have what they are having,” She said, eyeing the cinnamon rolls the girls were devouring. 

 

“Though I would prefer coffee to hot chocolate,” Andy amended, taking her seat opposite Miranda's daughters.  

 

It only took a few minutes for Andres to return with her coffee and pastry.  She took a few moments to enjoy coffee made of freshly ground beans, but before she could tuck into her breakfast, she was stopped short by a question from Cassidy.  

 

“So what happened while we were hiding in the hangar last night?”

 

Andy used the mouth full of food as an excuse not to immediately answer. While she chewed, she weighed her options. She could downplay things. Tell a little white lie to spare the girls the truth. She quickly dismissed that option, these girls had been put through hell because of lies, and she wouldn't build the foundation of their future relationship on one.  

 

“Some people tried to attack us, but the vehicle we were in kept us safe, and the police were there to deal with them,” Andy responded evenly.   

 

“Why did they want to hurt us?” Caroline asked.  

 

“It’s complicated…” Andy began before being cut off by an angry Cassidy.  

 

“It’s complicated is what our dad would always say before he lied to our faces.  I thought you were different, Andy.”

 

Andy was not put off by Cassidy’s anger.  She knew from experience that anger was often a mask for pain or fear.  

 

“First, I know that you don’t know me all that well, but I’m not in the habit of lying to those that I care about.”

 

“You care about us?” Caroline asked. 

 

She actually already loved the girls because they were apart of their mother, but she wanted to give them time to accept that she would be part of their lives.  

 

“Yes, sweetheart, I care very deeply about both you and your sister.”

 

Neither girl responded, but Andy could see them both relax a little.  

 

“Second, I said it was complicated because it is complicated.”

 

The girls sat in silence as they listened to Andy explain what she knew about the events that led up to last night.  

 

“So everything that happened to mom was Nikki’s fault?” Caroline asked.  

 

“What I’m saying is that I believe that Nichole’s desire to be Queen is what started this, but I believe that those who were closest to your mom are the ones most responsible.”

 

“You mean Mr. Ravitz and Stephen,” Caroline asked. 

 

“And Dad,” Cassidy amended.  

 

“And your Dad,” Andy agreed.  

 

“But for all your Dad’s flaws, he did the right thing in the end,” Andy said.  

 

She was no fan of Gregg Brant, but she would be forever grateful that he’d agreed to let her take the girls. She didn’t know Nichole well, but she suspected that she was not the type of person who would let the lives of two children get in the way of growing ambitions.    

 

“I’m glad that you came and got us,” Cassidy said.

 

Clearly, the girl was not feeling generous towards her father, but Andy knew that could change with time.  

 

“Please fasten your seatbelts ladies, we’ll be landing shortly,” the pilot announced over the intercom.  

 

Andres made quick work clearing the remnants of breakfast away before taking his own seat.  The landing was uneventful as the occupants of the passenger compartment barely registered the landing gear’s impact with the runway.  

 

Not wanting Nichole or her uncle to know that they were in the country, Andy had contacted Myka Bearing, the Queen’s new security chief, to arrange for a quiet entry.  Instead of being met by the usual customs officials, they were met by two security officers posing as custom agents.  Instead of checking their passports, the two efficient women had Andy, the girls, and their luggage loaded into a nondescript SUV.  In less than ten minutes from arrival, they were on the road headed to Aren Hall.  To see Miranda.

 

AN: A bit of a shorter update, but I am getting back into the swing of updating on a schedule.  From the moment that I conceived this story, I knew Sam getting Princess Lessons had to happen.  A little more bonding for Andy and the girls, and we are one step closer to the reunion that we all want to see. It feels really good to be writing again, and I appreciate all the support and encouragement I received from the last update.  It was all of you that kept me trying to push this story forward.  I thank you all. 

WB

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

 

Mia had been understandably distracted as she and Sam had walked down to breakfast, but now it was impossible to ignore the increased security presence around Aren hall. 

 

“What is going on?” Mia asked her new head of security as she entered the large conference room for her morning briefing.  

 

“I received a call from Andrea Sachs, informing me of a new potential security threat. 

 

Mia took her seat and listened as Mika Bearing explained what she knew about the foiled attack on Andy and Miranda’s daughters.  

 

“Have our guests been informed?” Mia asked.  

 

“No, Mrs. Sachs asked that she be the one to inform your guests. I dispatched a discrete security team to meet their flight, and they’ll be brought directly to Aren Hall.  

 

I've increased our security hear, and I dispatched a security team to discretely keep an eye on the Duchess,” Mika concluded.  

 

“Well, you’ve certainly had a busy morning,” Mia said, finding no fault with her security chief’s actions.  

 

“There is one additional security matter that we need to discuss. From this moment forward, Samantha Dean receives a full Royal security detail," Mia declared

 

The room went quiet as they all digested the meaning of the Queen's words. In her typical manner, Helena was the one to break the silence.  

 

“Well done, Old Man.  When’s the wedding,”

 

Mia smiled at her eccentric friend before responding, “I would think sooner rather than later.”

 

“Now tell me you’ve located my traitorous cousin?” Mia asked, signaling a return to state business.  




After breakfast, Clarissa requested more tea for herself and for Samantha. She asked for coffee for Miranda, sensing she wasn't the tea type. She'd spent a delightful evening with her granddaughter's new ‘friend, finding the young woman funny and charming and very much a good fit for her the serious woman her grandaughter had become. Clarrissa still felt guilt from forcing Mia to grow up sooner than most of the girls her age. But the moment she'd seen Mia with Sam, she could perceive the difference in her granddaughter. A lightness of spirit that had been missing since she'd taken on the responsibilities of the crown.  It gave her hope that her granddaughter would not have to choose between the job and happiness. 

 

She decided that the best place to start was to simply get to know the young woman who would soon become her Queen.    



“How did you come to work for the Sach Company?”

 

Sam smiled at Clarrissa before recounting the night she'd met Andy and Lilly. 

 

"I understand MIT is a prestigious institute of higher learning?" Clarrissa prompted, enjoying Sam's rhetorical skills. 

 

Sam had both women close to tears as she described the stunt that almost got her expelled. 

 

 

"You have good friends," Clarrissa offered.  

 

 

"Yeah, I thought the Dean was going to blow a gasket when the Chancellor accepted Andy's terms.  

 

 

After tea, Miranda made her excuses wanting to give Sam and Clarrissa time to themselves.

 

 

"Shall we continue this conversation in my study?" Clarrissa offered.  

 

 

Sam accepted, offering the former Queen her arm for the journey. Completely charmed by the gesture, Clarrissa accepted, allowing the young woman to escort her the short walk to her book-lined study.  

 

 

“What has my granddaughter told you about her preparations to take the crown?” Clarrissa asked after offering the young woman a seat.  



Sam was quiet for a moment as she tried to put the best possible spin on an event her fiance had described as pure unadulterated torture.  



“I know she appreciates all that she learned from you, Ma’am.”



“We’ll make a politician out of you yet,” Clarrissa said, admiring the skillfully worded response.  



Clarissa reached into her desk, coming out with an old-fashioned photo album. She handed the album over to Sam before joining her on the other side of her desk.  Sam opened the book then let out a surprised laugh of her own. She was now looking at a younger version of the woman she loved, in all her all bushy-haired, glasses, and awkward glory. Sam’s face softened as she began to flip through the book.





“Those were her friends Lily and her brother Michael,” Clarissa said, pointing at the picture of the three teenagers in uniform.  




“Her only friends,” Sam added, sadly.  




“It is true that in the past, Mia struggled to make friends. Particularly among certain circles.





“Mean girls,” Sam said. While Mia tended to shrug off the way she’d been treated in high school, Sam was less sanguine on the subject. If she ever ran into any of those girls, they had better run, jump a fence, and hide.  




“I believe the word you were looking for was Bitch,” the Queen mother concluded, surprising the other woman.  



Sam nodded her head, though she had actually been thinking of a word that started with a C. 




“In my observations of you, young lady, one thing stands out.”



Sam was silent.  This conversation had been going so well, but she had no idea what the former Queen was about to say.  




“Your desire to protect my granddaughter.”




Sam eagerly nodded her head this time, “I will always protect Mia,” Sam assured.  




“I know, my dear, now the question is, what are we going to do about Nichole Deveroux?”




Sam blinked a few times before asking, “What about the Princess Lessons?”





“Well, to be honest, Mia needed lessons because she was an awkward teenager, not an executive for a multi-national corporation. You already know the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork. Your posture is excellent, no doubt from years of martial arts training. And you are not going to be a Princess but a Queen.”



“So what you said to Mia?” Sam questioned.  





“Was a bit of subterfuge. But if you would like some advice on being a Queen? Treat people with dignity and respect, be kind, and most importantly, be yourself, dear. 




Now, as for Nichole, there is something else you should know.  Your role is not ceremonial, nor are you the equivalent to the American First Lady or First Gentleman. You will, in fact, be co-ruler alongside my granddaughter.  



And with your engagement, you now have access to certain privileges,” Clarissa concluded.  




Sam was an exceedingly bright person, so after she got over the shock that she would actually rule alongside Mia, she made the connection. Her hacking was now state-sponsored. 



The two women smiled at each other, clearly on the same page.  





Miranda decided that Queen Clarissa and Sam could use a little time alone.  She excused herself with every intention of spending her morning in her rooms, reading.  But one look out at the beautiful gardens surrounding the main building caused her to change her plans. The morning air was crisp and refreshing, giving Miranda a sense of serenity. As she wandered the stone path, she recognized many of her favorite species of flower. 

 

Despite the fact that it had been years since she’d worked at Runway, she couldn’t help but imagine the photoshoot she would have arranged given the setting. The garden had been expertly designed by a skilled horticulturist who made full use of the natural landscape. That blend was fully on display when she rounded a bend and was met with a stunning view of the Adriatic. With a mountain range in the distance, Miranda knew that this would be the location of the cover shot.     

 

Old habits died hard, so she found herself incapable of seeing the world through the lens of Runways former Editor in Chief.  And yet, she had no real desire to go back to the life she’d once lived. Despite all the accolades and successes, she’d been miserable.  

 

A failing marriage.

 

Neglecting her daughters.

 

Working too much.

 

Drinking too much.

 

Being an absolute bitch more days than not.  



At the time, she deluded herself into believing that those things were the cost of success. Now she knew better. Sadly, It had taken losing everything for her to recognize what mattered. And what didn’t?  



A worthless husband.



And a job that she’d grown to loath.

 

In the end, none of that had mattered. Love, both giving and receiving, was what she truly couldn’t live without. Now she couldn’t imagine her life without Andy at the center of it. And without knowing exactly how she would do it, she believed with all her heart that Andy would find a way to reunite her with the twins.  Once she had all of her girls, she would never let them go.  

 

Miranda strolled through the wonderful Aren Hall gardens, stopping frequently to enjoy the scent of some of her favorite flowers. By the time she reached the turning point that would carry back towards the Hall, the crisp morning had given way to a warm, pleasant day.  The heat of the sun was offset by frequent cool ocean breezes.  She closed her eyes and took a moment just to enjoy being alive and loved.  

 

Miranda no longer wore a watch, but her body was telling her it was close to lunch by the time she finished her stroll.  She walked up the gentle rise pausing at the top.  She shielded her eyes from the glare coming off of a vehicle parked near the portico. As she moved out of the path of the reflected light, her heart stopped in her chest. 

 

A cry escaped her lips as the weight of grief and loss was suddenly lifted from her shoulders.  



“Mom!”



Miranda dropped to her knees and opened her arms just in time to enfold her twin daughters into her arms. The twins' momentum carried the trio to the ground, leaving Miranda on her back with a twin in each arm. The Miranda Priestly of old would have chastised her girls for creating such a spectacle. But she was no longer that woman. Miranda Sachs laughed, then cried, then laughed again.  



The girls, not knowing how their mother had changed, looked mortified, but Miranda just pulled them close. After a long moment, she loosened her grip allowing the girls to stand. When she moved to get up herself, she was met by a smooth outstretched hand.  She took the hand of the woman who not just owned her heart but had restored her faith and had given her the most important of all things.  Hope.



AN: That might look like an end, but no fears, there is more of this story in my head and more that I want to tell. Thank you all for your kind words and your patience with such a long break in this story. This reunion has been in my head, in one form or another, for close to two years now.  I am happy to see Miranda, so happy.  




  






   

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

 

Sam was more than happy to take Queen Clarissa up on her offer to ‘do something’ about the threat to Mia.  And as it turned out, the perfect environment for that work existed two stories beneath their feet.   



“It’s called the Dungeon,” Queen Clarissa commented as the two women approached an elevator flanked by security. The two guards stood a little straighter at the Queen’s approach. 



They stepped in front of the elevator doors, but nothing happened.  



“Security scan,” one of the guards offered.  Sam scanned her surroundings, quickly spotting the well-concealed camera. The camera must have liked what it saw because, in the next moment, the doors to the elevator parted, allowing them access.    



The Dungeon turned out to be a state of the art operations center and the twin to the ops center beneath the Royal Palace in the capital city.  Despite being underground, the Dungeon was a large, well-lit space with an industrial-chic design. Sam immediately spotted H.G. and Mika sitting in a bull-pen area deep in conversation. They were greeted warmly by the pair before being offered a seat around a large conference table.  



“Congratulations on your engagement,” Mika said, getting a concurring nod from the other woman.  



“Thanks,” Sam responded, unable to control the smile that spread across her face.  



Getting down to business, Helena asked, “We were waiting for you to arrive before we started our briefing.”




“But before we get started, I believe a little background about how we are organized would be useful.”




Sam nodded; she knew more than a little about how Genovia’s government was organized.  Not just from her conversations with Mia, but from her own research while the Sach’s Company was considering doing business with the constitutional monarchy  




“As you know, Genovia is a constitutional monarchy with a congress and a judicial system. This means that Congress and the Crown work together to set domestic policy though ties favor the Crown. When it comes to foreign policy and security matters, her Majesty has broad powers.”

 

The Genovian government is not as large as you Americans have, but what we lack in size we make up for with speed and flexibility. For example, my position is a combination of the American Secretary of State and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  While Myka is the chief law enforcement officer, much like you FBI.  She is also responsible for her Majesty’s and now your security.”



“Like the secret service,” Sam added, to show that she was indeed paying attention.   



Helena nodded her agreement before continuing, “I am currently filling in as defense minister as well, until the Queen names a replacement.”



Sam also knew that Mia had recently dismissed the defense minister, feeling that he was a little too close to Viscount Mabrey.    



“Our constitution is clear; once you and the Queen are wed, you will become co-rulers of our country.  It will be up to you, the two of you, to decide how you will make decisions, and should you two choose to have children; your firstborn will replace Dutchess Alexandra as third in line to the throne. 

 

Sam, who very much wanted to have Mia’s children, took a moment to absorb the magnitude of Mia’s proposal. Not only was she entrusting Sam with her heart but literally with the present and future of her country and its people. 

 

Sam, who had never expected to find herself in this position, decided that she could do this. She would never fight Mia for control but be there to support the other woman and contribute in the ways that she knew best.  



“What’s the latest on Nichole?” Sam asked, sensing H.G.’s presentation was nearing an end.  



H.G. nodded her head, prompting a redheaded woman in uniform to step forward.  




“This is Major Claudia Donavan.  She is an Intelligence Officer who specializes in cybersecurity.”  



Sam eyed the sharp-looking woman, easily interpreting Helena’s words.  Claudia Donovan was a hacker just like she was. 

 

  

 

Major Donovan, this is Samantha Dean, the Queen’s fiance. It was Claudia’s turn to eye the other woman. She had only been vaguely aware of the Queen’s alleged romance.  



“The Queen is a lucky woman,” Claudia thought but was smart enough not to say. Instead, she turned her attention towards briefing the future Queen.  



Claudia used a remote in her left hand to activate two large screens.  One screen displayed an article from the New York Times documenting the murder of Greg Brant.  The other showed a world map with two dots, one in New York and the other in the Alps, but Sam couldn’t tell if it was the Swill or Italian side.  

 

“We intercepted a call from Nichole to her uncle that took place around the time of Mr. Brant’s death.”



The women listened as the conversation was played over hidden speakers.  



"I just ended things with Greg, a little sooner than anticipated. I got away clean.




Good, his usefulness was at an end. Now we must take more offensive actions. You know what needs to be done next.



I understand, and I can be there this time tomorrow."

 

After the call, Ms. Deveraux deactivated the phone she was talking on, and we lost track of her.  

 

At this point, we can only wait for her to make contact with one of the lines that we are monitoring,

  

 

Sam didn’t disagree, but she didn’t have to like it.  



“We have another problem,” H.G. added, prompting Claudia to pull up another image.  



“Four hours ago, Franklin Davenport failed to report for assignment as ordered. Before officially going AWOL, he made two calls on his personal cell phone. One to a Genovian number and the other to a number in the States. After that, he also deactivated his phone. We put a flag on his passport, but if he has inside help, it won’t be hard for him to leave the country.”



“You suspected that he’s part of the conspiracy against Mia?” Sam asked.  



Against you both,” Myka responded, reminding everyone, including Sam, of her new role.    



“Last night, I received a call from Andy Sachs informing me of an attack against herself and Miranda’s daughters. NYPD officers, with assistance from the FBI, were able to thwart the attack, and Ms. Sachs reported that she and the girls were never in any real danger,” Myka continued. 

 

“We believe, with some confidence, that at least two of the attackers can be linked to Frank,” Claudia added.  



Sam could literally feel adrenaline hit her system as she listened to the dispassionate description of an attack on her best friend and Miranda’s girls. She took several deep breaths, forcing herself to remain calm. She had no idea what kind of people thought so little of human life. What she did know was that she needed her wits about her if she was going to fight back. So she turned her mind towards the things that she could do. That started with a list of information that could help them determine the opposition's next moves. 

 

First, she wanted footage of the attack. She knew that there were security cameras all over Teterboro, including several with good views of their corporate hangar.  Next, she’d want to see what the NYPD and the FBI had learned both about the attack and Greg’s murder.  Finally, she’d take a look at U.S. Customs and Immigration records to track the movements of the dead guys and to see if she could locate good-ole Frank.    



She refocused on the conversation just as Claudia began to check through a similar list of unknowns.  




“She’s bright,” Sam admitted, already working through the steps she would need to take to get the answers they needed. After Cladia finished her presentation, all eyes turned towards Sam.  




“Has Mia, I mean Her Majesty, been briefed?” Sam asked. 




Despite the serious topic, the other women couldn’t help but smile at Sam’s unnecessary correction.    




“She was updated just before the Ambassador arrived. She suggested that we consult you on the matter. While it was left unsaid what her role would be, Sam got the distinct impression that this was her show now.  Which meant she would do whatever it took to neutralize the threat against her friends and future wife.   



“Claudia, do you have a computer I can use?” 



“I might be able to dig something up for you, Ma’am,” Claudia responded, eyebrow raised.



 

 

Andy was fighting back tears as she watched Miranda reunite with her precious girls. Miranda’s face was a study of how grief and sadness could be transformed into pure joy and relief. The two women made eye contact giving Miranda the opportunity to mouth, “Thank you.”



“You’re welcome,” Andy mouthed back as her heart swelled with joy and something else. She’d kept a promise to the woman that she loved, which gave Andy a sense of deep satisfaction. She knew that they were not completely out of the woods yet. The attack at Teterboro was proof of that. But for now, under the watchful gaze of Queen Mia’s security forces, they were safe.  

 

For a moment, her mind drifted back to New York, wondering if she had done the right thing in sending Kate into the lion's den. On the flight, she’d briefly considered having her former assistant stand down, but she could not bring herself to do it. There had to be a price to pay for playing fast and loose with people’s lives. Today Irv Ravits was going to learn that lesson.  

 

Andy was pulled from her thoughts as Miranda, and the twins approached her. The twins hung back as Miranda stepped into Andy’s personal space. Andy opened her arms, and the two women embraced. Miranda let out a contented sigh as she laid her head onto Andy’s shoulder.  



“The twins aren’t the only ones I’ve missed,” Miranda whispered into Andy’s ear.  



“I’ve missed you too,” Andy said, placing a kiss on Miranda’s forehead.



“How did you make this happen?” Miranda asked, turning to look back toward the twins. 



“Later,” Andy said, not wanting to rehash the story in front of the girls.



“Where’s Emily?” Caroline asked, pulling the women from their conversation.  



She is visiting the town with Queen Mia’s cousin Alexandra.  



The girls both lit up at hearing Queen Mia’s name.  



“Is Queen Mia here?



“Are we going to meet her?” both girls asked in rapid-fire.  



“I am certain that a proper introduction can be arranged,” Miranda responded to the girls’ delight.



“But for now, why don’t we get you girl’s inside,” Miranda offered.  



With a twin under each arm, Miranda led them into Aren Hall. The group was met by one of the members of the staff who introduced herself to the girls as Mrs. Landers.



“I bet you two are hungry?” the kindly woman offered.  



Both girls nodded before looking back at their mom.



“Oh, Andy.  I didn’t know these two were with you,” Mrs. Landers said, spotting Andy. 



“Audrey, it's good to see you too. We just arrived from the states, and some lunch sounds excellent.”



“What can we have?” Cassidy asked.     



“Anything you want,” Audrey said, looking down at the two girls fondly. It had been too long since there had been children in Aren Hall.  



With so many choices, the girls had a hard time deciding what they wanted. Taking pity on the pair, the grandmother of two offered, “We make the absolute best grilled cheese, and we just pulled a loaf of bread out of the ovens.”



The girls’ eyes lit up, causing the older woman to laugh.



“Two grilled cheese’s no crust coming up. And for you, ladies.”



“Did Henry catch anything in his pots this morning?” Andy asked, referring to Audrey’s husband, who served as gamekeeper.  



“He does, more times than not.”



“Then I’d love one of your delicious lobster salads.”




“That sounds divine,” Miranda added.  




“Fantastic, Her Majesty is still in consultations with the foreign delegation, and the other members of her staff are having a lunch meeting, so you’ll be on your own for lunch. 




We can bring everything up to your rooms if you’d prefer that to the dining hall.  




“That would be wonderful,” Andy responded, thankful for the woman’s kindness.  




“Ok, You get settled, and lunch will be ready in twenty minutes.  



The girls were thoroughly charmed by Aren Hall, as Miranda relayed the history she’d learned during her brief stay. By the time they made it up to her rooms, they found the staff in the process of setting a table for four. They were informed that lunch would be up soon and that the girls’ luggage was in the smaller bedroom and Andy’s was in Miranda’s room.  



Andy thanked them as she walked them to the door.  



“Can we see our room?” Caroline asked.



“Of course, sweetheart.”



They soon learned that smaller was a relative term as the girl’s room was bigger than both of their old rooms combined. Miranda and Andy left the girls to unpack their things.  Alone in their bedroom, the two women exchanged another long hug followed by a brief kiss. They both knew that they had a lot to talk about, but with just a few minutes before lunch, there wasn’t enough time. So instead, they just held each other. 

 

Lunch came even sooner than promised. The lobster salad was as good if not better than anything that Miranda could remember having back in New York, and the girls raved over the grilled cheese and the accompanying chocolate milkshakes. By the time lunch was consumed and the plates were taken away, both girls were subdued. Sensing her charges hadn’t slept enough in the last 24-hours, Andy suggested the girls try out their new beds and take a nap.  It was a measure of just how tired both girls were that they only put up token resistance.  

 

With the girls down, Andy suggested that they also retire to their bedroom.  



“I feel like the sword of Damocles is poised over my head,” Miranda said, unnerved by the grave look on Andy’s face.  



“I didn’t want to tell you over the phone, but Greg is dead.”



Miranda’s hand came up to her mouth. It wasn’t as if she still loved the man, but she had once, and he was the girls’ father.  



“How... Where…. How did it….?” Miranda began unsure which question to ask first.  



Andy held up her hand before saying, “I’ll tell you everything, but there is more. The girls and I were attacked on our way to the airport, but we managed to get through it without a scratch.”

 

Tears sprang to Miranda’s eyes as she contemplated having everything she had left in the world taken from her. She shuddered, not sure she’d have the strength to come back from such a loss.  Sensing the other woman’s thoughts, Andy put her arms around Miranda. 



“I would have never let anything happen to those girls, and nothing else bad is going to happen to you.”



“I need you too, you know,” Miranda said, making it clear that Andy needed to consider her own safety as well.  



“And nothing is going to happen to me either,” Andy assured, holding on even tighter.  




They sat down on the bed, and Andy began to talk. She told Miranda everything that had happened since she’d put her lover, Emily, and Sam on a plane to Genovia.  




“You went there to blackmail him?” Miranda asked.  




“Not exactly. I hoped that he would do the right thing, but I was prepared if he didn’t.”



Miranda wasn’t sure that she cared if Andy had blackmailed her ex-husband, but it comforted her that the man had chosen to do right by his girls. It also wasn’t lost on her that she could have lost them all over again if they had been in the house when Greg was murdered. The attack on her girls and her lover only made her angry. She was tired of this game and tired of people treating her life and the lives of those she loved like pawns. Expendable.  



Andy checked her watch before saying, “Right about now, Kate Janeway is informing the entire board of directors at Elias Clark that their services are no longer required.”    

 

    

 

Miranda knew that this was bigger than her feelings about her former employer, yet she could not deny getting some level of satisfaction from Andy’s words.  




That’s when it hit her. Andy Sachs had kept every promise she’d made. She brought her daughter back to her, kept them safe, and gone after those who had wronged her. If that wasn’t love and devotion, then the words held no meaning. She touched the younger woman’s cheek fondly, causing Andy to lean into the touch and close her eyes. The kiss she placed on the other woman’s lips was soft and sweet, conveying everything she felt for the woman that had restored her faith in the world.    



“Will you marry me, for real this time?” Andy asked.  



“Yes,” Miranda said, no doubts at all in her mind.  

 

AN:  I really feel like I have this story back on the train tracks. Thanks to all of you for your continued encouragement. Happy Holidays to all of you.  Stay Safe and Healthy.