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Happy Birthday, Miranda

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Chapter Nineteen

April.

“Happy birthday, Miranda.” She sighed softly as she retreated from my office, her shoulders slumped down in misery. It was only when I heard her heels at a suitable distance did I spin slowly in my chair, no longer facing the view of New York but the space she had occupied moments ago. I removed my glasses, rubbing the bridge of my nose carefully in a vain attempt to relieve my headache and echoed her sigh. Happy anniversary, Andrea.

 

I couldn’t believe the year had already passed. I seemed to have expected that when this time finally came, I would know what to do. Instead, her final act at Runway had been to stand before me in my office and ask me; 

 

“What now?”

 

“You tell me, Andrea,” I had sighed tiredly. “You start a new position on Monday. Runway provided a well-deserved, glowing reference.” 

 

“I know all of that,” she’d rolled her eyes and I’d almost smiled at the familiar expression of exasperation. She’d glanced behind her to ensure Francesca was still on an errand. “And us?” 

 

“Andrea. I can’t… do this, now. Not here.” I had turned away from her to look out on the city, but instead had closed my eyes tightly on the view in a desperate attempt to stay controlled. 

 

I sipped at the coffee Francesca had provided that was cooling rapidly in its paper cup. Another hour and everyone would be leaving to get ready for my birthday party. I resigned myself to finishing my tasks with a terrible sinking feeling. 


*** 


I could hear the noise of the partygoers from here, the moment I stepped out of the car. Roy offered me a small smile as I passed him. 

 

“Have a good evening, Miranda. Happy birthday.” 

 

I nodded my thanks but didn’t attempt to return his smile. I allowed the photographers no more than ten seconds of my time, then paused outside the double doors that led to the event space. I took a deep breath as subtly as I could manage, and indicated to the doormen that they should open them. One more staircase entrance. The hush that fell as I entered usually gave me a great feeling of success, but not tonight. What did a name, a reputation, matter now? I had failed the woman I loved by being too weak. I didn’t even smile as I reached the foot of the stairs and was engulfed, but it didn’t matter. ‘Regal’ was the word being whispered through the crowd as the music and laughter swelled once more. 

 

The conversation flowed around me and I managed to keep up despite an increasing feeling of wanting to burst into floods of tears. I smiled in the right places, I nodded, I made quips. The crowd of well-wishers filtered around me until finally, I took a few steps away from the crowd to find myself somewhat alone with Nigel. He handed me a glass of champagne without asking whether I wanted it, and I took a long sip.

“So.” He took a drink of his whiskey.

 

“Yes?” I raised an eyebrow. 

 

“She’s not here.”

 

“Who?” 

 

He let out a mocking breath through his nose. “Don’t.” 

 

“Fine. No, she isn’t here.” I took another drink, willing the alcohol to calm my frazzled demeanour. 

 

“Because?” He didn’t look at me while he asked, scanning the room instead. 

 

“Not now,” I hissed. 

 

“Yes, now.” He sounded oddly determined, and I was so taken aback by the demand, I responded. 

 

“She left. I couldn’t do it, Nigel.” I murmured. I looked out into the crowd too, not noticing a single face. None of them were Andrea. 

 

“I suggest you figure out a way to do it, Miranda. For your sake, for her sake, and for that of the girls. The potential happiness to be found is more than worth the gutter press headlines.” He smiled and waved at a group of staff from Condé Nast as he spoke. 

 

“It’s not so simple.” I hissed, annoyed.

 

“Isn’t it? What, you think you’re going to ruin her career? If she’s good enough, and I think she is, her work will speak for itself. It could help, rather than hinder her. Besides,” He looked at me, finally, a wry smile playing on his lips. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone so damn likeable, it’s almost revolting.”

“And when she leaves regardless?” I tried for nonchalance, but instead the words left me sounding weak. 

 

“Oh, Miranda. This is what real love feels like,” he patted my arm gently. “It’s terrifying, isn’t it?” 

 

“So why bother?”

 

“You know what they say,” he clinked his glass against mine. “Better to have loved and lost, right?” 

 

“Jesus.” I sighed. 

 

“Miranda,” Irv’s hand was at the small of my back, his sly smile suddenly directly in front of me. 

 

“Irving,” I kissed the air around his cheeks, trying not to shudder at his touch. “Enjoying the frivolity?”

 

“As always,” he swigged his brandy and looked around me. “Where is that delightful first assistant of yours?” 

 

“It was Andrea’s last day today, Irving.” I said stiffly. 

 

“Ah! What a shame. Lovely girl.” He smiled a shark-like smile; dead behind the eyes, but with more than enough lust in his face to make my free hand curl into a fist at my side. “Where is she swanning off to next?”

 

“The New York Times, I believe,” Nigel filled in for me. “Talented writer.”

 

“Is she, indeed,” Irv looked too amused, too patronising. The urge to defend Andrea from his condescension was strong, and he hadn’t explicitly said anything yet. 

 

“Yes. I recommended her myself.” I said stonily. “Do excuse us, Irving.” I linked my arm through Nigel’s and we strolled away together, the crowd parting automatically as we weaved through it. 

 

“The dress is stunning, by the way,” he said as he took my hand and we began to dance. 

 

“I’m glad you think so.” As comfortable as I was with Nigel, his hand at my waist didn’t feel like it belonged there. “Valentino got there eventually.” 

 

It was a beautiful dress. I had opted for slightly more sex appeal than my usual classic glamour this year, without even realising. No wonder the designers with Valentino had taken so long to edit and finally create the dress I needed. The sleeveless, deep V-neck was a near see-through material, speckled with tiny stars that were only visible in the right light. They gave a pleasing glimmer as I moved. Cinched in at the waist, the soft fabric was an opaque black from waist to toe, intended to highlight my slender figure. 

“I think you might actually look 48 in another 15 years,” Nigel tried to joke, but his expression was worried.

 

“Perhaps so,” I gave him a small smile. For a minute or two, we were merely a part of the frivolity. 

 

“Miranda.” He stopped dancing abruptly. “Whatever your reasons, don’t resign yourself to loneliness. Both of you deserve so much more.” He said seriously, holding my gaze. I dropped my arms.   

 

“Do excuse me.” 

 

I made my way to the privacy of the bathroom, locking the door behind me. Andrea had always ensured there was a bathroom out the way of the event, that it was kept for my use only until I left. It seemed she had done so even though she must have secretly despised me in her final week as my assistant. The thought of her hating me was enough to buckle my knees, and I sunk into the small sofa available outside the toilet stall. I focused on my breathing until I had enough sense to search for my purse, remembering that it was with Francesca. Because of course it was with her. She was now the first assistant on the clock, yet I’d barely seen the girl all evening. Annoyance surged through me, and I stood up. Wrenching the door to the hallway open, I was stopped in my tracks to find Francesca with her fist raised, clearly about to knock. 

 

“Oh! Miranda, here’s your -” she handed my small clutch over with a gulp at the look on my face. I closed the door instantly. 

 

I missed Andrea dreadfully.

 

* * * *

Fifteen minutes later, I was once more seated on the small sofa with my phone clutched in my hands. Nothing from her, not that I should have been foolish enough to expect anything. I didn’t deserve a thing from her. Not one thing. The woman had been brave at every turn; ready to tell the world, her family and friends without fear. She knew the consequences of being with me, but was willing to stay regardless. She bared every part of herself to me, the Dragon Lady. Body and soul. I had taken it all and then fallen at the final hurdle. Stolen a year of her life. How could I ever repay her? My fingers moved without my mind’s consent and before I knew it, I was calling her. She didn’t answer. 

 

Panic gripped my throat, and I realised, finally, what I was losing. What the hell was I doing? I was scared, weak, every negative adjective that I deplored in any other person, and yet I had done nothing to rectify my own situation. I had let her leave. 

 

Utterly unacceptable. 

 

Not only had I let her leave, I had practically encouraged her.

 

I was striding out of the bathroom and away from my own party within a moment, Francesca appearing beside me slightly breathless.

 

“Call Roy.” 

 

I didn’t stop, just kept walking until I was outside in the cooling air. Roy came around the corner as I was a few steps away from the curb. I didn’t wait for him to step out to open the door for me, throwing myself inside instead.

 

“Roy. Take me to Andrea’s.” 

 

His eyes widened in the rear view mirror but he began driving immediately, the lights of the city illuminating happiness at every turn. Couples, groups of friends, all laughing together. Some wrapped around each other in tight embraces, not a care in the world. 

 

“Miranda,” Roy began hesitantly, flinching a little when my eyes met his in the mirror once more. “Is Andy okay?” 

 

“I hope so,” I murmured. “How far away are we?” 

 

“Another ten minutes, at least. The traffic in this part of the city can be dicey.” He said apologetically. 

 

I clutched my phone, opening the last text messages we had exchanged. There was nothing in there that indicated we had ever been more than a boss and her assistant; I was not so foolish to leave evidence. I called her again. The automated message was my only response. 

 

Please don’t let it be too late. Please. 

 

What felt like hours later, my entire body thrumming with nerves, Roy stopped outside a large apartment building. 

 

“It’s that green door, Miranda. Her, um…” he cleared his throat in embarrassment. “Her name might be a little obscured in the dark, but it’s the buzzer with Cooper on too.” 

 

Oh yes. The ex. 

 

“Thank you, Roy.”

 

“I’ll wait here, Miranda.” 

 

I turned on the sidewalk to look at him incredulously. 

 

“Until you’re … safely inside.” 

 

I nodded once after a brief pause, turned on my heel and pressed the buzzer before I could think twice. Nothing. I tried again, suddenly relieved Roy had stayed. I looked back to find him watching me worriedly and found I couldn’t bear to see the sympathy in his expression. The man knew far too much. 

My mind, unusually, had stalled completely. I had no idea what to do now. Visions of her out with someone else, someone her own age, pressed together on a dance floor, invaded my mind. Defeated, I took a step towards the car, jumping a foot in the air when my phone buzzed loudly. It cut through the otherwise quiet street. 

 

Andrea.

 

“Hello? Andrea?” The line crackled with poor connection.

 

“Miranda? Why have you called me twice?” She said something else but I didn’t catch it.

 

“Andrea. Are you home?” My hand held the phone so tightly it was a wonder it didn’t bend. Her response was inaudible. Reflexively, I pressed the buzzer with her name on again.


“Andrea. I’m downstairs. Will you let me in?” I was aware of how desperate my voice sounded but I didn’t attempt to edit myself this time. “Please.” I closed my eyes to stop the tears. The call beeped in failure down my ear and my arms fell to my side. My body was rigid on the sidewalk, little to no streetlight illuminating anything around me.

 

“Miranda?”

 

My head snapped up to see her standing in the doorway. She had an oversized t-shirt on and little else, shivering slightly. 

 

“Andrea,” I managed. “Andrea.” I couldn’t find another word at that moment if my life depended on it. Perhaps it did. 

 

“Did you… was there something you wanted, Miranda?” She frowned, looking towards the car where Roy was waiting and back at me. I opened my mouth but still had nothing, and by now she looked concerned. “Do… you want to come inside?” She said hesitantly. 

 

I nodded and she stepped back, waving goodbye to Roy after I had entered the small hallway. 

 

“I’m up on the third floor. The - erm -” she dodged around me to lead the way. “The elevator is broken. Will you be okay in your heels?” 

 

I nodded again, apparently having completely lost my voice at this point. I was internally screeching at myself to do something, say something, anything - and then she was opening her front door and I was stepping inside her apartment. 

 

“I’ve never been here before,” I realised as I said it aloud. 

 

“Yeah… no,” she agreed, looking confused. 

 

“Andrea, I… I don’t know where to begin,” I floundered. 

 

“Let’s sit down,” she offered, quickly moving a blanket and pillow so we could sit at opposite ends of a small sofa. When I still didn’t begin, she spoke again. “Why don’t we start with why you’re here?” 

 

I looked at her and found concern laced with anger on her beautiful features. Eventually, she sighed at my silence and stood up, returning after a short absence with two glasses of water. She handed me one and I took it, noticing my hands were trembling as the water spilled onto my dress. 

 

“Miranda. You left your own birthday early. Why?” 

 

“Because you weren’t there,” I managed. “Because I realised, I finally realised, what I stood to lose by acting so…”

 

“Cruelly?” She supplied with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Yes. I was foul. I’m - I’m sorry, Andrea.” I felt my eyes fill with tears and was too exhausted to hide the fact. 

 

“I think I might need a little more explanation than that, Miranda.” She sat back against the pillows behind her, drew her legs up underneath her, and waited. 

 

“I was… weak. Scared of every eventuality. Scared that you would stay, your career and reputation suffering. Scared that you would leave either way - whether we were public or stayed a secret. And if I kept you at my side, let them say horrible, awful things about you - and you left anyway, which… forgive me, seems the most likely outcome judging by my past record,” I implored her to understand. “What did that make me? There’s only one answer, Andrea. Selfish.”

 

“That was never how I saw it.” She stated calmly. “Go on.”

 

“Then there’s your family. Your parents - they already have a problem not only with your sexuality, but with who they imagine I am. The thought of creating a further wedge between you -”

 

“Okay, actually, you know what?” She snapped. “That’s enough. My turn.” 

 

I was surprised by the fact she looked more angry now then ever before. I gestured for her to continue. 

 

“Miranda, first of all - the issue with my parents is that they feel that they can control who I am, who I love, where I work and where I live. They can’t. And frankly, nor can you.” 

 

I actually gasped at this. 

 

“That’s not what I -” 

 

“Yes it is. If I were to choose you, New York, to write instead of going to law school - all of that would be my decision. Not yours. Not theirs. Mine.”

 

“I’m simply trying to explain that I care about your wellbeing -” I tried.

 

“That may be true, but you’re also removing my free will and underestimating my ability to choose for myself.”

 

I was floored by this. She was right. 

 

“And as for my reputation and career - again, they fall into the category of my decision. I was always more than willing to hear your thoughts, take your opinions into consideration, but I don’t think I have ever been offered the same courtesy in return.”

 

I had never seen her like this before. She was articulate, commanding, entirely in control of her own destiny. Her own choices and decisions. I realised I should have been counting my blessings that such a woman would even consider spending her time with me at all. 

 

“You’re right,” I said quietly.

 

“I know I’m right.” She snapped. “I’m not naive, Miranda. Maybe at one time, but not anymore. I’ve had more than enough time to consider what I might do if we ever went public with our relationship, how it might have an impact on my work. But I got a job with my own merit, because the editor was impressed with my catalogue of work.”

 

“Rightly so.”

 

She regarded me with a rapidly cooling expression. No longer angry, having said what she clearly needed to, but now almost disdainful. 

“I have no plans to let you, or anything else for that matter, stop me from working hard and showing what I can do.” 

 

We looked at each other in silence. It was the first and only time she had ever been so in command between the two of us, while I was sat fidgeting and unsure of myself. Finally, she took pity on me.

 

“So. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll ask you again. Why are you here?”

 

“I already told you. You weren’t there,” I said quietly.

 

“Well… now I’m here. What exactly did you need me to be there for? You’ve made it clear so many times that you have no intention of being with me in any public situation, especially now I’m not your assistant anymore. Hidden away at the house is the only way we would have been in a relationship, but certainly not as a couple at your own birthday party.” She sounded almost bitter. “I was a fool for not listening to you. I lived on hope that you would one day tell me we were in this together. You and me, in a real relationship.”

 

“That’s why I’m here, Andrea.” I interrupted her before she could continue. “To tell you - to  ask you, if you would ever consider being with me. In public, in private, in any way you wish to have me.”

 

She stared at me for a long moment, finally. 

 

“Do you mean that? What about the press?”

 

“Yes.” I reached for her hands slowly and she allowed me to take them in my own. “Let them say what they will. I will protect you and the girls to the best of my ability, and we will take each day as it comes.”

 

“When?” She asked quietly, her eyes wide.

 

“I would suggest we speak to my PR contact, Leslie, sooner rather than later. It may well be noticed that I showed up here so late after leaving my own party after no more than thirty minutes.”

 

She nodded slowly, seeming to be waiting for something. I imagine she thought I would once more attempt to postpone.  

 

“Andrea. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, and we don’t have to do things the way I’m suggesting. If you wanted to, we could go straight back to that party and I would walk in with you on my arm.”

 

Her eyes filled with tears but she smiled for the first time, shaking her head slowly. “I think doing that the day my contract ends is probably not advisable.” 

 

“No,” I smiled back at her. “Perhaps not.”

 

“You look beautiful, by the way.” Her eyes slid down the dress, taking in every inch available to her from my seated position. 

 

“Thank you,” I raised her hand to my lips and kissed it gently. “Andrea… I understand if you don’t forgive me. All I ask of you now is to give me one more chance, a chance I don’t deserve. I’ve stolen too much of your life, your emotions, already. But if you let me… I would do anything. Tell the world. Talk directly to your new editor, if needs be, for damage control. I would step up, or step back, take the lead or follow you. If you want to run outside right now and shout from the rooftops that we’re together, so be it.”

 

“Promise me something, Miranda.”

 

“Anything.”

“That when the wolves are at our door, you won’t let your fear take over again. That you’ll be brave with me.”

 

“I promise.” I said this whole-heartedly, tears streaming down my face now, and she let out a breath before tugging me forwards and capturing my lips with hers. I kissed her back desperately, revived and electrified by her touch. When she pulled back, my eyes snapped open in panic, but she simply smiled gently and touched her nose to mine for a second. 

 

“Stand up? I want to see this dress, properly. It deserves some attention.” 

 

I did as she asked without question, looking down at my body as she gazed up at me. The dim light in the room illuminated the slightest glimmers over my chest and mid section. 

 

“Stunning,” she whispered. “I’ve never seen you wear something like this for an event.” 

 

“It’s for you, Andrea.” I admitted as I realised this myself. 

 

“Well, I imagine many people enjoyed it tonight,” she stood up and rested her hands lightly on my shoulders for a moment. We stood the same height with me in heels and her in bare feet. “It’s quite torturous. Almost being able to see, but you’re just covered enough.” Her hands traced the fabric over my breasts, thumbs touching the bare skin on show due to the plunging neckline. She found my nipples and traced them gently. “I can feel, though.” My eyes slipped shut.

 

“No one else,” I murmured, hoping she understood that others may well have looked, but they would never see everything she would. They would never touch.

 

She leaned forwards and her lips touched my neck, drawing a shiver from the top of my spine to the base. My hands clutched her hips, balling the fabric of her t-shirt in my fists. After a shared glance of assent, I tore it away from her. 

 

“Tell me what you want, Andrea,” I said in a low voice. 

 

“I want you. I want to have you in this dress, as it was for me. And then I want you on your knees for me.” 

 

I quirked an eyebrow at her but she simply stared back, then kissed me roughly. I found myself taking a few involuntary steps back with the force of it, flinching when the back of my thighs hit what felt like a table. My dress was pulled upwards until she her hand had access to my underwear, soaked already for her.

“Is this what you wanted, when you chose this dress?” She said into my ear. “You wanted me to fuck you while you wore it? Maybe you thought we could sneak away from the party and not be caught, hm?” 

 

I tried to inch forward in search of her fingers but she slipped her hands underneath my thighs and lifted me onto the table. My legs wrapped around her automatically. 

 

“Andrea,” I tried to sound demanding. I tugged at her shorts until they slid down her legs and she was clad in nothing but a plain pair of black boyshorts. Cotton, nothing particularly sexy about them as an individual garment - but on Andrea, they offered a hint of androgyny that when paired with her full breasts and feminine face left me breathless. 

 

She acquiesced and slid her fingers inside me, beginning a punishing rhythm that had me crying out in pleasure. My spine curved and she held me with her free arm as she brought me closer to the edge, her mouth finding my left nipple through the thin fabric covering it, her thumb pressing against my clit, and then - 

 

“Oh - oh - Andrea -” my body seemed to lock in place and shudder all at once as my orgasm overwhelmed me. 

 

Once I had recovered enough for her to remove her hand, she wrapped her arms around me and held me so tightly I felt every broken piece of my soul reattach. Tears streamed down my face and into her hair at the overwhelming feeling of relief. 

 

“Did I hurt you?” The concern in her voice as she leaned back to see my face only made me hold onto her more tightly. I shook my head. After a few moments of silence, my tears had subsided enough for me to regain control. 

 

“I’m sorry,” I murmured.

 

“For what?” 

 

I gestured to my ruined make up and she shook her head. “Still beautiful. Are you alright?”

 

“Yes. No. I’m overwhelmed, I think.” I admitted.

 

“How about you use the bathroom and I’ll find us some food?” She suggested gently. “There’s a few products in there that I know you like. I bought them a while back, you know… just in case.”

 

I could offer no more than a wobbly smile at this. An entire year of secrecy, of never seeing her apartment, while she was out here buying hundreds of dollars of my favourite skincare products. I cleaned my face in the small bathroom, and undressed to pull on the robe hanging on the back of the door, then made my way back to the living area. Everything I had seen in the apartment so far was so quintessentially Andrea; the small space was neat and tidy, comfortable. There were sweet references to her childhood, her time at university, her loved ones. There were also newer hints at the life she led now. A print of an early edition of Runway hung above her sofa. If I wasn’t mistaken, it was the first Spring edition; a pretty and artistic display of 1920s style. 

 

I watched as she appeared from the kitchen with a plate of cheese and crackers, small bunches of grapes and the odd strawberry adorning the plate. She'd pulled her t-shirt back on.

 

“Better?” She asked me as she settled on the sofa next to me. 

 

“Quite. Thank you,” I took a cracker with a small amount of cheese from her and crunched it gratefully. For a few minutes, we ate in silence, and finally I found my voice.

 

“Andrea. Is there anything else we need to discuss?”

 

She put down the glass of water she held and regarded me. “Well. I suppose it would be an idea to get what we want clear, before we go to Leslie.”

 

I nodded slowly. “Do you mean by deciding how we want to go about our coming out?”

 

“Yeah, I guess so.” She thought for a moment. “For instance, would you prefer to tell our closest people - family, friends and such - then make an announcement to the press to control the narrative?”

 

“Interesting. I would say yes to the first; the girls already know, as does Nigel,” I grimaced at that last. “And Cara, Roy. I have no other family to speak of - though, come to think of it, it might be an idea to tell Gregory. Take some pressure from the girls.” 

 

“Of course. I would like to be able to tell my best friend, Doug. He already knows something is going on, but he thinks it’s an unrequited crush on my boss, nothing more. I’ll also have to tell my parents,” she sighed heavily. “It’s better they hear it from me than see it on the news.” 

 

“Perhaps we could visit?” I suggested, and after staring at me for a second as though I’d grown a second head, she burst out laughing. 

 

“Now that’s a 180 if I ever saw one!” She cackled. “Yesterday, I thought this was over. You seemed to have shrunk so far away from me, and with getting the new job I thought that was it. You wouldn’t have even wanted me to tell my parents via a text message, never mind go on a couple’s vacation to visit them,” she snorted. “A phone call will do for now, okay?” 

 

“If you’re sure,” I rolled my eyes at her, but with good nature. 

 

“I am. They’re not even used to the bisexual thing, the reporter thing, even the New York thing. Trust me - a phone call will do for now, and then they can come to visit if they choose to.” She said with finality. 

 

“So. We tell those people, we call Leslie,” I nodded. “Then we either go about our lives as though the press didn’t exist, and let them guess. Let them write what they please.” 

 

“Or, we make a joint statement, maybe an interview, to control our own narrative.” 

 

“Exactly. Perhaps Leslie can advise on that decision.” I mused.

 

“Sounds like a good idea.” She nodded. “One more thing,” she hesitated, but I knew now to wait. To trust. I took another bite of cracker.

 

“You should really give Emily and Serena the heads up.” She said finally.

 

I frowned, confused, continuing to chew.

 

“Well, it’s just that… Emily might have rather an… extreme reaction. And that’s going to be hard for Serena to see.”

 

“Andrea? What on earth are you talking about?”

 

“Oh, come on. You must be aware by now of Emily,” she sighed. When I didn’t respond past staring at her, she continued. “Remember, the night we stayed in the hotel and I said I had wondered about the two of you? Because the rumours about you and your first assistant sometimes tended to be…”

 

“Overtly sexual and inappropriate, yes.”

 

She smirked. “Well, wait until this gets out.” 

 

“Andrea,” I said warningly. 

 

“Fine. Emily was infatuated with you for a very long time, I’m not sure she ever fully got over it.”

 

I almost choked on my cheese. 

 

“She what?” I gasped.

 

“You really didn’t know?”

 

“Of course not!” I huffed, shocked. “I thought it was more of a hero-worship than… infatuation.”

 

“Well, she’s with Serena now, who is very aware of the fact she might always come second to you.” Andrea said softly. I couldn’t help but grimace at the thought. 

 

“Right. So. I will tell Emily under the guise of needing her support at Runway. You can tell Serena… as a friend. I know you’re closer than you used to be.” 

 

“Yeah. We went drinking one night a few months ago, and she admitted she was completely in love with Emily. I think it’s best to let her know, because we just don’t know how this will play out.”

 

“Goodness.” 

 

“This is what happens when you’re quite so irresistible, yet completely unattainable at the same time.” She smiled at me gently. 

 

“Not completely,” I said. 

 

“No?”

 

“You’re exquisite, Andrea. I have underestimated you for far too long, but no more. Never again. I have finally found my match.”     

 

“Yes. Seems like I learned a little more from your Runway persona than you might have hoped.” I smiled at this. “Miranda,” she hesitated. “Before I take you to bed, I need you to tell me one more time that this is it. That you’re willing to go through every difficulty we’re going to endure, fight for us at every turn, at least at first.” Her wide eyes were bright and I could see, for the first time this evening, the fear she clearly harboured.  

 

“Throw me to the wolves, Andrea. Do with me what you will. I’m yours.”

 

“No,” she kissed my lips gently. “There’ll be no throwing you. We jump together.” 

 

“Andrea,” I pulled her closer. “Is this really what you want? A selfish, much older woman who’s entirely too rich, too cynical, too work-obsessed?” 

 

“Yes, Miranda.” We both giggled at the familiar statement. “You are what I want. I…” she hesitated and I pressed a finger to her lips, needing to say it first to prove to her it was true.

 

“I love you, Andrea.”

 

“I love you too, Miranda.” 

 

The future would bring dramatic headlines, angry phone calls with parents, tearful conversations - but most of all, it would cement that nothing else mattered to me but her and my girls. Not Runway, not the headlines, not the new and seemingly endless tirades from Irving. 

 

The world would know, but for now, it could wait.