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The Delicate Things We Make

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When the guilty verdict in Irv Ravitz’s case was finally unanimously delivered by the jury, Andy and Miranda were sitting side by side in the audience. They had weathered the months building to the delivery of the verdict, the trial, the countless depositions, cross-examinations, evidence, and character statements side by side, with Miranda never missing a day in court and Andy being by her side every step of the way. 

And so sitting in the second from the last row, in a crowded courtroom, Andy felt more than heard the jury foreman enunciate clearly ‘guilty’ after each count of accusation read by the judge. Her hand in Miranda’s was clenched so strongly, it bordered on pain, but it mattered little. With all the charges levied against him, Irv was likely to be put away for several decades. Miranda’s shoulders shook once, twice and Andy turned to her expecting to see her crying, but the face that met hers was sparkling with mirth. Miranda was fighting back laughter. Andy’s eyes almost popped out at this scene and then she could not suppress a grin of her own. Miranda, one of the most reserved people she knew, one for whom public displays of emotion or feeling were simply unacceptable, was trying desperately to contain her laughter while surrounded by no less than a hundred people. And then, perhaps emboldened by Andy’s smile, Miranda threw her head back and laughed in earnest, a loud, happy bubble of joy penetrating the hushed courtroom like a gunshot, breaking through shock and awe of the just delivered verdict, of stares and judgment. 

With the judge hammering the gavel and crying for order and Irv looking on in absolute hatred and impotence, Miranda continued to laugh, boldly, unabashedly, openly. In seconds she was joined by Irene, then Rebecca, and then the other victims were jumping up from their chairs and hugging and laughing. Andy wished she was allowed a camera to immortalize the scene. If she wasn’t head over heels for Miranda since day one, this would be the clincher for her. This would be the exact moment Andy would lose her heart to this courageous woman. The laughter ebbed and flowed and Miranda turned to her and wrapped her arms around her neck still laughing when her mouth closed over Andy’s. The feel of that happy, bright, open smile over her lips would be one that would stay with Andy for the rest of her life. 

Of course, Gunilla jumping up from the seat next to hers and hugging them both, screaming in their ears that this motherfucker was going to rot in jail was also par for the course for their relationship these days. And then Margo Dresden hurried into the group hug, though Andy had a suspicion, Margo’s motivation these days was mostly focused on holding Gunilla as close as possible after a series of quite successful dates the two older women had gone on.  Despite Gunilla’s protestations that they knew each other too well, and who the hell dates at their age, Andy was very happy that Gunilla was opening herself to a potential relationship with Margo, and it was obvious that Margo worshiped Gunilla. 

They even went out to several double dates and it wasn’t awkward. Okay, it was mostly not awkward. All right, if Andy was perfectly honest it was awkward, but only for her and only for a little while because Margo and Gunilla were absolutely sweet on each other, despite Gunilla’s ridiculous pretenses and playing hard to get. It was also plainly obvious that Miranda was absolutely in love with Andy. She had not yet said the words, but Andy had every faith. She pretty much lived on hope the past year. It seemed to work for her. 

A bit later, standing on the massive steps of the courthouse, with Miranda holding her hand more gently now but still wearing a completely and utterly satisfied smirk, Andy allowed her mind to drift over the past year. Who would have thought she would end up here? How much had changed, how much was still to change? Andy’s book on the lives of victims of sexual assault at the hands of Irv Ravitz became an instant New York Times bestseller, published two weeks before the beginning of the trial. To say that she was thrilled by the popularity of the book was an understatement. With all the proceeds going to the victim’s shelters and services, the book attracted considerable attention to the issue, it swayed public opinion on necessary legislative reform and in a week, Andy and Miranda would attend the ceremony in Albany of the signing into law of the increased statutory limits for sexual assault crimes. 

Her next book was very much plotted and publishers were already clamoring for the rights, despite Emily scoffing and whining about how utterly unqualified Andy was to even endeavor to do justice to such a subject. Miranda just smiled every time the subject of Andy’s upcoming endeavor would come up, a quiet enigmatic smile that would grow into a full-blow grin when they were alone and she would jump in Andy’s arm and kiss her silly. She could write about anything really, after her successful debut, her ever-popular podcasts and series of articles in Runway, Vanity Fair, and New Yorker, Andy could pretty much write her own ticket regarding her repertoire, but all she wanted was Miranda and so the first-ever official Priestly biography was in the works and the fact that it was quietly driving Emily insane was just a nice bonus to Andy’s ever-growing happiness. 

In the midst of all the chaos, Priestly continued to create. After the Andrea collection, things had returned to normal in some ways, with Miranda producing several stand-alone works, one, in particular, sending the fashion world into a frenzy over florals. It was truly groundbreaking. 

In addition to her very productive period art-wise, Gunilla enlisted Miranda to help out with the newly acquired Elias-Clark holdings and Runway in particular. Andy could already see that unshackled from Irv’s heavy supervision and tight fist, and with Miranda’s creative genius, Nigel soared higher than ever and the next issues of the magazine were going to be astonishing. Initially, he submitted his resignation to Gunilla the moment she took over the majority package of shares and appointed her own CEO, but she rejected his falling on his sword. Yes, he wasn’t entirely blameless, but Nigel’s role in Irv’s downfall was immense and he was also very brave in going on Andy’s podcast and discussing everything in the open. He even blackmailed the previous two Runways Editors-In-Chief to join him, and Andy was quite pleased that none of them tried to whitewash their own actions and all acknowledged and apologized for their advertent and inadvertent actions fully, and pledged to donate considerable amounts to women’s shelters. 

On the steps of the courthouse, as reporters descended on Rebecca, Irene, and the other protagonists of the trial, Miranda steered Andy away from the crowds into a town car discreetly idling on the curb. With the many strategic appearances Priestly had done to promote the cause, Andy had noticed that Miranda had been dialing down her exposure since the trial began and was generally trying to return to some semblance of normalcy in her life. Or as much normalcy as the most expensive and in-demand artist of their time could afford. 

In the car she snuggled close to Andy, nuzzling her cheek with her nose, before resting her head on Andy’s shoulder. 

“I’m so glad it’s over, Andrea.”

‘Were you worried?”

“Absolutely not. I had total certainty that it would end this way.” Miranda shifted on Andy’s shoulder, burrowing closer and getting comfortable. 

It still surprised Andy how tactile and how much of a cuddler Miranda was. Perhaps years of being alone and sleeping alone had left their mark and she craved human interaction now. However, Andy suspected that wasn’t it, since she continued to be as standoffish as before with pretty much everyone else. Miranda and Gunilla would air kiss when they met and she’d occasionally give Emily a sideways hug, which immediately made Emily uncomfortable, but that was the extent her physicality would extend. 

With Andy, however, there were no barriers, no restrictions. They cuddled, they slept intertwined and they made love so often and in so many ways, Andy’s heart raced just thinking of all the creative ways they used pretty much every horizontal and most of the vertical surfaces in the townhouse. Before she ruined her panties again, Andy decided it was time to change the subject. 

“Total certainty? You nearly broke my fingers in the courtroom before the verdict, Miranda. You were nervous. It’s okay to admit it, you know. I could see it.” 

“I admit nothing. You must’ve been looking at Gunilla. Now she was really nervous.” Miranda scoffed and then smiled slyly trying to divert Andy’s attention as she pushed a hand under her outer gear. 

“Ha, admit nothing, accuse others, divert attention. You could be a spy, Miranda.” 

“What was that movie called? A spy that shagged you?” Miranda’s laughter was irresistible and Andy could not believe she was using a ridiculous movie title to tease her. That she even knew of Mike Myers, was just too much. So she had to kiss her then and there, because the number of times this woman surprised her, astonished her, and even bamboozled her? Too many to count. 

They were still kissing when they made their way through the front door of the townhouse and let their clothes fall piece by piece on the stairs as they climbed to the second-floor bedroom. And then Andy’s heart simply stopped. There, on the wall opposite their bed, between the two floor-to-ceiling windows, in a delicate and simple wooden frame hung the six-foot painting that Andrea thought she would never see again. Her eyes filled and she was at a loss for words when she turned to Miranda who was standing still next to her, her blouse hanging off her elbows and her garters and stockings on full display since Andy had torn her skirt off somewhere along the way. 

Then she simply exhaled: “You bought it.” 

The oh so familiar and oh so beloved crooked smile slowly overtook Miranda’s features, with the left corner flirting with Andy before being caught up by the right corner of that delicious and seductive mouth. 

“I fell in love with you at that exact moment, Andrea. I was not going to allow anyone to own this painting. Not anyone. Just you.”

Andy’s breath caught, tears that she was trying to hold back, overflowing. Miranda reached out and gently wiped them away. 

“I remember painting you and having this absolutely terrifying epiphany of falling for you and how delicate things were between us, how horribly fragile. But you sitting there on my floor, gracefully posing, so brave, so utterly fearless… You gave me so much hope, so much courage, to take the delicate thing in my heart and allow it to grow.”

“God, I thought I lost you that evening. And then at the opening at the gallery, I thought I’d never see this painting again.” She sighed and looked up at the painting in front of her and felt Miranda hold her from behind, supporting her, gently swaying from one foot to the other, to some tune Andy could not hear. She turned in the embrace and kissed the one woman who held her heart. 

Outside, the March wind was playing with the still bare trees in their backyard, bringing in rain and the warmth of early spring after a long winter. Standing by the open window, embracing Miranda, Andy welcomed the breeze that was tangling her hair. Last year, walking outside, it chilled her but it also gave her hope for new possibilities. Among them, there were possibilities that she was especially grateful for, as Miranda smoothed out the hair that the mischievous wind of change ruffled and tugged her to bed. Yes, Andy was very very grateful for all those possibilities. The March wind of change had not let her down.