Andy looked around the fancy restaurant and sighed to herself. She had wanted to go to Serendipity, but when Lily claimed the wait was too long to get in there so they chose this place instead. Lily had been pushing to come to this restaurant anyway because one of her favorite actors was spotted here three days ago. Lily constantly wanted to go to high profile places when Andy came to visit. All Andy really wanted to do was get a gyro from a street cart and visit with her friend, but Lily insisted on dining out at various places where, in her words, the elite of New York were seen. Part of it was that Andy had an expense account, and thanks to hard work, wise investments and an inheritance from her grandparents Andy's own pockets weren't exactly shallow. She couldn't really mind all that much though; her job was much too stressful and she needed the break from time to time. Coming to New York and spending weekends with her best friend was as close to a vacation as she could manage. Gone were the youthful days when a week or two on some island or another was not unheard of.
“So...” Lily Goodwin looked across the table at her lifelong friend. “How'd it go?”
“With the clients or the book?”
Andy expected the choice, Lily had never been interested in what she deemed “boring legal stuff”. “They liked it, then they tried to get me to sign a bullshit contract. I was practically going to end up paying them money for publishing it! There are tons of legitimate places I can go if I want to do that.” Andrea Sachs laughed at the memory. “I threw it back in their face and told them that if I saw anything come from them that even remotely resembled my work I would own them the very next day.” She shrugged. “I have an early lunch appointment with another publisher tomorrow. We'll see how that goes.”
“Okay... what about the other things? Your consults.”
Andy could see that Lily was clearly, immediately, beginning to tune out the answer to her own question. The rambling about all manner of legal crap, as Lily had always called it bored Lily to death. She had always been very supportive and had said that the Lord knew Andy was the best civil lawyer like, ever, but she'd always complained that the day to day drudgery of being a lawyer was incredibly boring to listen to. Andy had listened to many a rant about her career choice. Apparently, according to Lily, if Andy would have been a criminal lawyer their chats could possibly hold her attention, the cases on TV looked interesting enough. Andy agreed, but admitted that that sort of work took its toll on a persons soul. She didn't deny that she could very confident and could be tough when she needed to be, but not all the time. Eventually Andy knew she would need some downtime or a job like that, working with or for hardened criminals, would break her.
Andy let out an exasperated breath and rolled her eyes. Her hand dropped to cover her friends. For half a second she thought about how different they were, Lily's dark skin contrasting with her own pale white. It was just that difference that had intrigued Andy when she was seven and the new girl had arrived in their second grade class. It was amazing to her that they had become and stayed friends for so long. “That was fine. The corporate guys were happy, semi-happy... I guess.”
Lily's eyes went wide. “You broke it?” Her face became a mix of amazement and joy. “The Great Cincinnati Shark strikes again. Andrea Sachs... top of her class at Stanford Law, of course you could break a contract?! That's why they called you. They needed the best.”
Andy sipped her drink and glanced around the restaurant again. It was nice, much nicer than almost anything they had in Cincinnati. “I suppose so. It was really ironclad other than that one tiny thing.” She wished she hadn't had to tell them about it. The people she was consulting with were Grade A jerks and after meeting with them, she wished she could have let that one, teeny tiny loophole remain hidden where it was. It would screw whoever it was out of a job without costing the company nearly as much as the payout for simply breaking the contract would cost. Andy was still a little amazed at the document. It was nearly perfect. Her friend from Stanford hadn't given her any details, all she knew was that somewhere there was a person, most likely female if she interpreted the other attorney's comments correctly, fairly high in some organization and was about to get a very unpleasant surprise. She kind of felt sorry for, whoever it was. Oddly, instead of being happy that there was a way to break the contract, the group of attorneys seemed to deflate at the news. Like they already knew that, and were hoping she would find some other way.
“And the other one?”
“That client is a total jerk and there is no way he's going to be able to get anything out of his ex-wife.” Andy's eyes narrowed. Thinking back on them, the prenup and the divorce papers she had examined now seemed very much alike. In fact, several of the phrases were worded identically. It was too specific to be coincidental. The same attorney must have drafted both of them. She'd never seen such an ironclad prenup before. She really wanted to meet the person who created it.
Glancing around the restaurant, Andy's dark eyes fell on a couple just entering. She watched as the host directed them to their table. Lily's laughter, all the surrounding noise really, faded into the background as Andy watched the couple, more specifically the female half of the couple, being seated. Lily's hand turning and squeezing hers brought Andy's attention back to her own dining partner.
Blinking, Andy looked up just in time to see their waiter carrying their meals to their table. “Oh good... I'm starving.” She smiled at her companion, and scooped a bit of the rice and mushroom mixture from her plate onto her fork but even as she lifted the bite to her mouth, Andy's eyes strayed back to the woman who had caught her attention earlier. The elegant woman with the silver hair.
Miranda's lips expressed her displeasure. “Why are you only telling me this now, Keith?”
“Don't worry...” The man never looked up from his iPhone screen. “I'll go in tomorrow and see what they want. It's all smoke and mirrors. The divorce has been finalized for nearly two years.”
“So you are meeting with Stephen's lawyers...”
The man nodded, eyes still on the tiny screen in front of him. “And Michael will meet with the ones from Elias-Clarke.”
“What?!” Miranda tilted her head. “Why?”
He shrugged and did actually glace up this time. “Don't know. I'll find out tomorrow.”
Miranda's blue eyes narrowed. Being attacked on two fronts was disconcerting. Irv Ravitz, the CEO of Elias-Clarke, had been trying to replace her as editor-in-chief of Runway magazine almost since she took over the position. Miranda decided that she wouldn't put it past Irv, the annoying little man, to recruit her ex-husband into one of his schemes to oust her. This could be very bad. She was extremely displeased with Keith. Her own attorney should have kept her far more informed than this last minute announcement of meeting plans. She would have words with Michael as well, but Keith was the most senior partner in the law firm. Michael would have to do what Keith told him. If they communicated much at all. She stewed about it all during the meal. The food here was lovely, but the lack of conversation caused her to feel as though she was dining alone. Not a completely unfamiliar sensation, but, she could have done that at home.
“Andy... Andy!” Lily shook her head when her friend finally looked at her. “Did you hear me?”
Nodding dutifully, Andy repeated the last words Lily had said even as her eyes traveled back to the table across the room. “Cubbyhole.”
“Right.. We haven't been before but it's a place I think you'll like.” Lily grinned, her teeth gleaming against her dark skin. “You may even decide to stay in New York for a few more days...” Shaking her head, Lily turned to see what had kept Andy's interest all through their meal. She immediately spotted the woman and groaned as she turned back to her friend. “Andy... no.”
“What?” Andy shrugged and turned her attention to the edge of her napkin for a whole ten seconds, before she was drawn, again, to the silver-haired beauty.
“You know what!” Lily shifted to break Andy's line of sight. “She's old!”
Andy scoffed. “She's got white hair, Lily.” Andy tilted her head to look around her friend. “But look at her. She's not old.”
“She's fifty if she's a day.”
“So what?” Andy shrugged. She pulled her phone from her pocket and pressed a few buttons then set it down on the table. “I'm thirty...”
“Exactly! Didn't you learn anything from that fancy college of yours?” Lily pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. “Do the math. She could be your mother.”
Andy smirked. “I suck at math.” She stood and tossed her napkin on the table. Grabbing her phone, she brushed past Lily. “Be right back.”
Miranda pushed her plate away slightly. She had only finished about half of the small entree, but there was too much turmoil in her head to allow her stomach to work properly. Why on Earth would Stephen and Irv both be grumbling now? At the same time? It was too much of a coincidence to totally ignore. She tried to recall all the encounters she'd had with them in the last few months. Difficult because she normally tried to forget those instances as quickly as she could. Was it possible that Stephen and Irv were working together? Stephen was not that smart, but Irv, she would not put anything past Irving Ravitz. Glancing across the table, she sighed to herself as she viewed her most familiar dinner companion, the top of Keith's head. She wondered why he didn't just get that device implanted in his skull. At this point, and not for the first time, she contemplated doing exactly that for him, right here in the middle of their meal. Fortunately for him, he was the best attorney in New York. An unfamiliar voice pulled her attention away from her uncharitable, bordering on murderous, thoughts.
Miranda looked up to see a rather beautiful woman. That was nothing new; she saw beautiful women every day. Most of them were not dressed in Armani suits, but still beauty was nothing new to her. What was new was the warmth and what could only be described as desire that seemed to flow from this woman's dark eyes. There was an unfamiliar sensation gathering just below her navel and Miranda opened her mouth to speak, only to find that the woman was not, in fact, addressing her but had turned and repeated her comment to Keith.
“Excuse me, sir?” Andy granted him a tiny smile when the man finally looked up from his iPhone screen.
“I just wanted to thank you.” She smiled a bit wider. “I thought we had some real asshats where I live, but now I see that the biggest asshat of them all lives in New York.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“It's not me you should be begging to, mister.” Andy gestured to Miranda. “You're sitting in the middle of a world class restaurant, with the most beautiful woman I've ever seen and you haven't even looked up from your phone for more than a minute the entire time you've been here.”
“Of course I...” His comment was stopped by Andy holding out her own phone, the stopwatch app clearly visible with the time of fifty-four point eight seconds showing prominently.
“If I had the chance, I would never treat her like this.” Andy now looked directly at Miranda and smiled a million-watt, client-winning, smile. “If I had the chance, I'd be hard-pressed to look at anything other than her.”
“Now look here..” This time it was Miranda's quiet voice that stopped him.
“Keith.” Miranda's ice blue eyes bore into him. “Why don't you go? You have those big meetings tomorrow.” Her eyebrow quirked slightly.
“Right.” He slowly nodded and stood. He did a sort of half bow to Miranda and pushed his chair back under the table. “Good night.”
Miranda tilted her head in dismissal and only watched him take a few steps before she turned her attention to the woman who had driven him away. She studied the tall woman for a few seconds before she licked her lips. Her eyes never left the younger woman's as she used the toe of her shoe to push Keith's chair away from the table. She smirked, gesturing to the empty, waiting, seat across from her. “Here's your chance.” She was incredibly charmed when the woman graced her with another brilliant smile, placed her phone face down on the table and slid into the vacant chair.
Andy held the woman's gaze for a full minute before her phone began to buzz on the tabletop.
“So.” Miranda's voice held a hint of disdain. “Your charming words are negated nearly immediately.”
Licking her lips, Andy never took her eyes off of the woman across from her. She picked up her phone and, without even looking at the screen, sent the call to voicemail.
“Aren't you even going to see who it was?”
Shaking her head, Andy smiled. “Nope, doesn't matter. I'll call them back later.” The phone chimed to indicate a message had been recorded. Andy gestured to the device, again without taking her eyes off of her companion. “You see? I'll find out what they wanted later. Technology is very helpful sometimes.” In fact Andy thought she knew who it most likely was and a glance over at Lily, who was just putting her phone away, pretty much confirmed it. Shrugging, Andy again waved as if to dismiss the phone. “It was probably just my friend confirming our plans for tonight.”
“Ah...” Miranda's eyes narrowed slightly. “I am just something to do to pass the time until then?”
“Oh... something to do? Well there's an idea.” Andy smirked at the light blush on the woman's cheeks. “But I don't believe you are 'just' anything.”
“You are very forward.”
“I suppose so.” Andy shrugged. “It has served me fairly well in the past.” Grinning at her companion, Andy raised her eyebrows. “Not quite forward enough, it seems.”
“I have yet to introduce myself, or learn your name.” Andy grinned as the older woman chuckled but remained silent on the subject. “Okay then, no names.” Andy leveled her dark eyes on her companion. “I need to call you something though.”
“Some people call me The Dragon Lady.”
“Yeah?” Now Andy's eyes glittered. “I love dragons. I always have.”
“And you?” Miranda tilted her head in question. “What shall I call you?”
“Well,” Andy chuckled. “Some people call me The Shark.” Lily did at least, as well as some of her college classmates which is where Lily picked up the name, so it wasn't that big a lie.
“Ah.” Miranda sighed. “Pity.”
“Mmmm...” Tossing her napkin on the table, Miranda stood. “Dragons and Sharks are not compatible.”
Andy stood, grabbing her phone and sliding it into her pocket as she followed the woman out of the restaurant. She reached out, placing her hand on the older woman's elbow. “Can't we try?” They stopped at the curb, obviously waiting for a car. Andy stepped closer, now able to feel the heat radiating between them but the stubborn woman refused to look her in the eye. “Meet me tomorrow evening.” Andy resisted the urge to drop to her knees and beg. This had started as a random meeting that Andy decided to take a bit further, but now she was truly upset that their time together was ending. “I have nine o'clock reservations at Annisa tomorrow night.” She smiled when that got her a quick look and urged, “Join me?”
A car pulled up, obviously Miranda's ride because she shifted as she prepared to move toward the vehicle. Pausing after one step, Miranda answered the invitation, “I will... think about it.”
Andy nodded. “Great!” She smirked. “I like the idea of you thinking about me.”
Chuckling at that, Miranda looked directly into the young woman's eyes. “I doubt I will think of anything else this evening.”
Bowing gallantly, Andy waved off the driver, opening the door for her short-time companion. “Until tomorrow night, my dear Dragon Lady. Sweet dreams.”
Miranda settled herself on the seat and looked Andy up and down. “Indeed.”
Andy reluctantly closed the car door between them. She watched as the vehicle pulled away from the curb and became lost in traffic. Only then did she exhale softly and verbalize the experience. “Wow.”
Miranda watched the lights passing them by before closing her eyes and resting her head back against the soft upholstery. This evening had began quite normally. Keith's announcement regarding his meetings tomorrow was certainly disconcerting enough but then the rather baffling encounter with the confident woman was just amazing. It was not often someone came along that could catch her attention the way the young “Shark” had done. Miranda thought about the descriptor of young for the mystery woman. She certainly looked rather young, but her confidence and manner marked her as a bit more mature than her appearance indicated.
The car slowed and stopped. Miranda waited for Roy to open the door. Walking up the few stairs to her door, Miranda felt the depression settle over her. The dark house swallowed her up as she entered. It always did when the girls were not here.
Times when the girls were absent were always the worst for Miranda but she knew that she could not keep her children with her constantly. They really couldn't be called children anymore. At fifteen they were becoming young women. Sooner rather than later they would be out in the world on their own. Now was the last chance for parental guidance either from herself or from their father. They loved their father and adored spending time with him. He, of course, made that easy by taking them on trips that would be the envy of adults everywhere. He did not have the schedule that she maintained and was very flexible in his availability to the girls and his ability to travel. Right now they were snorkeling in Tahiti and would be for at least another four days. As the end of their vacation drew near she fully expected them to call and beg for a few more days, which of course she would grant. Not for her louse of an ex-husband, but she would do anything for her girls, even miss them for a few more days if it ensured their happiness. She worried for a moment that there might be sharks swimming in the waters with her daughters. That concern brought her thoughts back to her unnamed woman.
She wondered if her mysterious Shark would get along well with the girls. That thought shocked her into stillness with her coat half off. Why on Earth would that thought even cross her mind? It was ridiculous. The girls were never going to meet this person. She wasn't even sure that she would see the confident woman again. Miranda had not been kidding when she said that she would think about it; even though her initial acceptance had been almost automatic. She carefully put her coat on a hanger in the hall closet as she tried not to think about sharks, or dinners, or dark, expressive eyes.
Her heels clicked on the tile floor of the foyer and echoed through the house. She didn't bother to turn on any lights as she made her way upstairs. Lights were unnecessary, she knew this house by heart. It was her center, the one place where she felt the most comfortable. It was one reason having Stephen gone was such a relief. Not having to deal with him, here, was the best sort of feeling. Only she and her daughters belonged here.
Quickly going through her bedtime routine, Miranda found herself surrounded by silk sheets trying to calm her racing brain enough to drift off to sleep. This was always the most difficult part of the night. There were so many things she had to do, had to oversee, had to think about. Sleep very rarely came easily to her.
Oddly, tonight the majority of her usual thoughts remained in the background, overshadowed by the memory of her mysterious Shark. She recalled the line of the tailored suit, how it accentuated the woman's long legs and slim waist. She recalled the luxurious hair falling down over the woman's shoulders. What she recalled most was the dark lovely eyes that had rarely moved away from her. Those eyes, Miranda knew she could drown in them, if she allowed herself that luxury. It was ridiculous. And, it was exhilarating. Closing her eyes, she called up the sensation of standing very close to the younger woman. Her very presence had caused a comfortable peace within Miranda.
Relaxing back into the softness of her bed, Miranda wondered if the woman's arms around her would be as comforting. That thought sent shivers through her. She sighed. It had been a long time since she'd been with anyone, even longer since she'd actually truly wanted to be. It was a bit frightening. The intensity of her need was unprecedented and it made her uncertain about everything. Still she had hope that the situation would resolve itself, and she hoped, as she never had before, that her Shark's final words would come true. She could hear the woman's voice in her head and mumbled the words aloud as she drifted off.
Andy entered the art gallery with a wide smile on her face. She passed by several lovely works, including the one she intended on taking home with her, as she walked directly to Lily's office. It was very difficult not to laugh when she found her friend, with her head down on her desk, groaning. Andy cleared her throat and brought forth her most cheery disposition. “Good morning, Lily!” It was still technically morning, the gallery had not been open for very long but it was getting very close to the time she needed to be heading off to her lunch meeting with the second set of publishers. She couldn't help but laugh when Lily looked up at her with the most evil look Andy had seen in a while.
“I hate you.”
Chuckling at that, Andy carefully set a steaming coffee on the desk in front of Lily. “Awww... but I like you....”
“Ha!” Lily straightened up and wrapped her hands around the coffee. “If you like me so much why did you ditch me at the bar last night?”
“I did not ditch you.” Andy dropped into a seat across from Lily's desk. “We arrived separately and we left separately. That's all.”
Sipping her hot beverage, Lily groaned again. “You could have at least stopped me from drinking so much while you were there. My head is killing me.”
Andy held up her hands in defense. “Let the record show...”
“Oh Lord,” Lily mumbled, “Here we go, with the record showing...”
Grinning, Andy continued, “Let the record show that you were already drunk when I arrived...”
“Whatever.” Lily sighed. “So, who did you leave with?”
“What?” Shaking her head at that, Lily asked, “Who are you and what have you done with my friend?”
Andy just shrugged.
“Girl, I know there were four or five women who would have gone back to your hotel with you in a heartbeat.”
“Six,” Andy smirked. “But... I dunno. None of them appealed to me last night.”
“Still mooning over your old lady?”
“Don't call her that!”
“Wow...” Lily shook her head. “You really have it bad, don't you?” She held up her hands waving them in defeat. “Whatever. None of my business.”
Andy dark eyes studied her friend closely before grinning. “So, who did you go home with last night?”
Lily shrugged. “Didn't catch his name.”
“Don't get all high and mighty with me, Ms. “Six”.” Lily snorted. “And don't try to tell me you know the names of all the people you've hooked up with either.”
“Jesus, Lily.. You make me sound like a slut or something.” Andy rolled her eyes. Of course from Lily's perspective Andy knew she looked like something of a slut, but there hadn't really been all that many. Most of the time if she left with someone it was because they were too drunk to be left to their own devices getting home. She always made sure they were safe in their own beds before leaving for her own. She had actually been with far less people than Lily believed. It was Lily's straight girl fantasies about how lesbian hookups worked that fed the delusion. And she did know all their names, thank you very much, at least she had at the time, because she'd looked at their IDs to get their addresses.
Waving off her friend's complaint, Lily sighed. “You aren't a slut... I'm just ticked at you for letting me get so drunk last night.” She grinned evilly. “Why don't you buy a fabulously expensive painting and we'll call it even.”
“Ha!” Andy gestured back toward the gallery. “I will browse through the gallery, just like I always do.. and I will probably buy that print that caught my eye when I first arrived.” She impressed the next words on her friend. “For ten percent off.”
Lily groaned again and held her head in both her hands. Her voice was pained when she spoke, “Yeah, alright.” She normally gave Andy her employee discount, fifteen percent off, which meant she never got a commission on those items. Ten percent was a good peace offering, because Lily would actually make a bit on the exchange.
“Great!” Andy smiled. “Okay then, since I know you're okay I'm gonna take off.” She checked her watch. “Hopefully traffic won't be too bad. I'll try to stop back by this afternoon if I have time.” She knew that was a slim chance. After her meeting with the publisher she would be a bit busy preparing for her dinner with the Dragon Lady.
“Have fun.” Lily didn't even look up.
Trusting that Lily didn't have any illusions about Andy's plans for the afternoon or evening, Andy nodded. “I'll see you tomorrow, before I leave.”
“Yeah, yeah...” Lily waved her friend away and laid her head back down on her desk.
The assistant was standing in front of Miranda's desk as soon as was humanly possible. Miranda didn't bother to look up from her work. “Before you leave, be sure Roy is ready to pick me up from the gala at eight thirty, sharp.”
“Uh...” The Emily's eyes widened. “Okay...um... of course, Miranda.”
Miranda said nothing for a moment, finishing the task she was working on, before looking over the glasses that were perched on the end of her nose. “That's all.”
She hadn't really intended on taking up the brash young woman's invitation. But last night's decidedly sweet dream and the distracting thoughts she'd been having all morning were too much to take. She needed to take the mystery away and clear the woman out of her mind. Dinner should do that nicely. Once actual names were exchanged, once the woman found out who, what, Miranda was, Miranda knew that much of the odd infatuation would be taken away.
The fact that the anticipation of seeing the woman tonight was making her stomach flutter was of no concern. This was a fleeting thing. No one stayed with her for very long and Miranda knew it. She also knew that after three husbands and numerous suitors, the fault must lie with her. She was the only common denominator in all the failed relationships and she didn't see herself changing anytime soon. The only reason she was even going to meet her mystery woman was to get the facts out into the open. Dreaming about the woman was one thing. Being distracted by thoughts of her while at work was completely different and totally unacceptable. That needed to end, tonight.
Luckily the gala tonight was not being hosted by Elias-Clarke. Miranda needed only to attend for a short time. Appearances were everything in this business. While she couldn't appear to be too disdainful of the event, she wasn't necessarily obliged to stay for very long. She wouldn't have attended at all had it not been for the chairman of the board's insistence that she make an appearance. She hated the man, and he hated her, but they both knew that Elias-Clarke was the most important thing. Irv was constantly worried about the company and the profit reports that shareholders received. Miranda bore the brunt of that with the publication she oversaw. Runway was the flagship magazine and the one that often made the profit remain in the black. There was a seafaring saying, “As goes the Captain, so goes the ship.” Elias-Clarke was the ship, and Runway was its Captain. It was Miranda's job to see to it that the Captain did not falter. If Runway failed, Elias-Clarke would fall, and many people would lose their jobs. Not only those at Runway, but all the other publications that Elias-Clarke managed would sink as well.
Shaking her head of all the extraneous thoughts that she could, Miranda got back to work. She still had a lot to do before she could leave to prepare for the gala.
Andy walked into the restaurant confidently. Her heels clicked on the floor and she smiled at the maitre d'. “Hello, Andy Sachs, party of two.” She grinned. “I know I'm a bit early.” She gestured toward the bar. “I can just have a drink while I wait for the other party to arrive.”
“Of course, madam.” He nodded agreement then asked. “Who will be joining you?”
Laughing at that, Andy smirked. “My Dragon Lady, of course.” She wasn't sure why the man paled a little at that. She chuckled and told him, “She may ask for the 'Shark' party.”
“Ah...” He clearly didn't understand, but nodded as if he did. “Very well. The bartender will serve you until your table is available.”
“Thank you.” Andy moved to the bar and sat gracefully, placing her small clutch purse in front of her. She hated carrying those things, but this particular dress had no pockets. It didn't have much of anything actually. Only one of her shoulders was covered with the black shimmery fabric, and a large portion of her stomach, from her lower ribs, around her navel, all the way to her hipbone was exposed. She almost regretted wearing it when the first interested party sat down next to her.
Andy sighed and glanced at the clearly inebriated man. “Hello.”
“Nothing yet.” Andy signaled for the bartender who quickly moved to take her order. “A glass of red.” She appreciated his nod and that he produced a glass full of dark-colored liquid quickly. “Thanks.” She handed him a bill and gestured for him to keep the change.
“This guy bothering you?” The bartender's question made Andy smile.
“Only if he keeps talking.”
Nodding at that, the man behind the counter shooed the guy next to Andy away.
He chuckled and then his eyes widened at Andy's empty glass. “Um.. you want another one?”
Blinking down at the empty glass in her hand, Andy nodded. “Yeah.” She wiped her hands on a napkin. Sweaty palms, racing heart, she had not been this nervous in a long time. The last time she could recall was when she was waiting for the results of her bar exam. That had been a monumental turning point in her life, though. It had been the determining factor in her ability to open a practice with her father as an equal, or not. This was just a date, right?
She slid another bill across the bar when the bartender exchanged a filled glass for her empty one and she began to sip her drink, slowly this time. Andy thought about the woman she was going to meet tonight, at least, she hoped her dragon would appear. Just the memory of those awesome blue eyes peering at her past the lock of white hair made her shiver, in a good way. The goosebumps on her arm confirmed Lily's earlier assessment and she murmured to herself. “I do have it bad.” She smiled at the memory of the Dragon Lady pushing the chair out for her, with her foot. “Damn that was sexy.”
The maitre d's voice pulled her attention back to the present. “Madam... there will be a delay in seating you. I apologize for the inconvenience.”
Waving that away, Andy knew that sometimes things didn't go as planned, especially in a restaurant. They couldn't control how fast their customers ate. “When my guest arrives please let her know where I am.”
“Of course.” He tipped his head and left quickly. Off to inform other people of the impending wait, she assumed. Her assumption was basically confirmed when she stopped to speak to another couple that she had noticed when she entered. Then, she didn't care.
Andy blinked, then swallowed hard at the vision moving toward her. The Dragon Lady was amazing, dressed to kill. Andy hadn't ever really paid attention to that saying, but now as her heart did a double thump she understood it perfectly. If she died right now, she'd die happy. She waited until the woman got closer before reaching out to take her hand. She smiled when the Dragon also reached out to squeeze her fingers lightly. “You look... amazing.”
Chuckling at that, Miranda tilted her head and raked her gaze down, and back up to meet the young woman's eyes. “And you, my dear, look good enough to eat.”
Grinning at that, Andy moved closer to her date. “Maybe later.” She loved the twitch her companion's eyebrow did and the curling up at the corners of the Dragon's mouth. This woman was amazing and Andy was thrilled. Both of them participating was the best kind of flirting and she had the feeling that tonight she was going to get as good as she gave. “Our seating has been delayed.”
“Nonsense.” Miranda's mouth now formed a thin line while she looked around. Finding the person she wanted, she gestured for the maitre d' to join them.
Andy was surprised when the man hurriedly complied with the summons.
“Our reservations were for nine this evening.” Miranda kept her expression fairly bored. “I expect to be seated on time, or I will be ... very, disappointed.”
“Of course.” He bobbed his head and bowed at the waist. “Of course.. I will see to it. Thank you.”
Watching the man scurry away, Andy turned to her companion. “What was that?!”
“Don't you know?” Miranda's eyes crinkled at the corners slightly, in amusement. “Dragons always go to the front of the line.”
Laughing at that, Andy nodded. “Good to know.” She gestured to the bar. “Would you like a drink, while we wait?”
Glancing at her companion's glass, Miranda spoke softly, “White.” She settled into the chair next to Andy.
“Sure.” Andy caught the bartender's attention and ordered for her companion. “White wine.” Andy slid another bill across the bar as soon as the drink was placed in front of the older woman.
Miranda tipped the glass toward her companion. “Thank you.”
Andy picked up her glass and copied the gesture. “Any time.”
They sipped their drinks quietly. Andy was true to her word in their last encounter and this time was no different. She didn't take her eyes off her companion. Not until they were interrupted by the maitre d'.
“Ladies, if you would follow me. Your table is now available.”
Offering her arm to her date, Andy smiled. “Shall we?”
After a second of hesitation, Miranda linked their arms and nodded. “Of course.”
Andy barely noticed the other couple in the bar, the one who had been waiting longer than she had, but she vaguely realized that they were slightly upset. She would be too, she supposed, but right now she didn't care. If they wanted to go to the front of the line, they should have gotten their own dragon. Andy thought and gently squeezed the arm in hers. This one is mine.
They were seated and perusing the menus before Miranda broke the silence between them. She placed her menu on the table. “I have not been here since they reopened, but I do recall that the tasting menu was quite acceptable.”
Andy's eyes fell to the bottom of the menu. “Five course?” She nodded at Miranda's agreement and licked her lips. “I'm pescatarian. Will that be a problem, for you?” She watched two elegant eyebrows raise in question, so Andy explained, “Vegetables and seafood, mostly fish. No land animals... dairy is fine, eggs, milk, cheese, butter... but no meat.” Andy licked her lips. “I'm told they have some wonderful dishes with those ingredients, quail in particular...” That was what Lily had been talking about the last several phone calls they'd exchanged. Andy was going to surprise Lily with the reservations tonight, but had made the offer to Miranda before she could think about it. Luckily, she had not yet told Lily about the surprise. It would turn her friend against the Dragon Lady for sure. It took half a second to realize what she'd just thought and then Andy wondered why she wanted Lily to like the Dragon so much. It was suddenly very important though, even though she wasn't sure why.
“That will be fine.” Miranda smiled. “Normally dragons like red meat, but exceptions can be made. I suppose sharks would prefer seafood.”
Tilting her head graciously, Andy smiled. “Thank you.” She too laid her menu on the table. The attentive waiter arrived promptly. Andy gave him their order and described the limitations she required for their meal along with requesting wine pairings with each course. She also ordered a bottle of champagne. He had barely left the table before she turned her attention back to her companion. The question was clear in her Dragon's expression. “Champagne, because I'm celebrating.”
“What is the occasion?”
“Being here with you is occasion enough to celebrate.” Andy grinned as a light blush crossed her companion's pale features. “But, there is also another reason. I sold my book today. I signed the contract about an hour ago.” A shadow fell across the Dragon's expression.
“Book?” Miranda questioned carefully. She was ready to leave now. No writer in New York would be oblivious to who she was. This woman was playing her, possibly to advance her own career. Shark-like was the nicest way to describe such an action. “Are you an author by trade?”
“No.” Andy admitted. “This is my first foray into the publishing world. I'm actually an attorney.”
“Ah. Shark indeed.” Miranda calmed down slightly. “Pity.” It was her companion's turn to silently ask for an explanation. “My third husband was an attorney. Things did not work out so well with him.”
Andy caught Miranda's gaze and grinned. “Well, let the record show that I am not him.”
“No. Obviously not.” Miranda studied the woman across from her thoughtfully for a moment. Then she spoke with a totally blank expression on her face, “He would have looked terrible in that dress.”
Laughing at that, Andy self-consciously traced her palm over the bare skin on her stomach. “I feel a little naked actually.” She grinned. “My normal 'lawyer outfits' aren't quite so revealing.”
“I'm fairly certain that I've seen lifeguards in suits less revealing.” Miranda couldn't help but copy her companion's infectious smile. “Not that I mind.”
Smirking at that, Andy looked up at the approaching waiter. She waited for him to open the bottle and pour their drinks. Andy saw her companion open her clutch purse and retrieve her cell phone, placing the item on top of the accessory. The waiter also noticed the action.
“We request that all phones be off in the dining area.”
“No.” Miranda refused that suggestion in no uncertain terms. When the young man opened his mouth to speak, she continued with her refusal. “The ringer is off, but I will not completely disable my phone. I am a mother, young man, and although I will ignore any call from anyone else during my stay here, I will not be totally unreachable. If I see that my daughters are calling, I will answer. That's all.”
He swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes, Ma'am.” He placed the champagne bottle in the chiller and bowed slightly. “Your first course should be along momentarily.”
Andy barely waited for the man to walk away before she raised her glass. “Cheers.” She clinked her glass lightly with her companion's then sipped the bubbly drink. They had both set the glasses down before she spoke again. “So...” Her dark eyes glittered in the candlelight. “Daughters?”
“Mmmm... yes.” Miranda decided on full disclosure. It would have to happen some point anyway. She stopped to think about that. Would it have to happen? Would this dalliance spill over to include the girls? Perhaps, if this mystery woman were informed about the girls she would no longer be interested in continuing. Best to know now. “Twins. They recently celebrated their fifteenth birthday.”
“Ah.” Andy nodded. “Not actually children then.” She grinned as her companion shifted in her seat. “But I get not wanting to be unreachable. Where are they tonight? Out with friends?”
“They are in Tahiti with their father. It is just after four in the afternoon there, so they may actually call, in a little while.” Miranda sighed. “Or not.”
“Tahiti... very nice.” Andy played with the edge of her napkin. “I've never been there. The Bahama's... Greece... but never Tahiti.”
“It is actually quite lovely.” Miranda licked her lips and took another sip of her bubbly drink. “I would have thought a shark would have been to all those islands.”
“Unfortunately, we do have to work from time to time.” Andy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Sometimes it's hard when you're good at your job.”
“Mmmm...” Miranda actually understood that. “It is difficult letting someone else perform the tasks that you know you can do better.”
“Yes!” Andy's smiled her brightest smile. “Exactly!” Her expression softened slightly. “You are the only person I know who actually understands that.”
Miranda nodded. “It is a burden at times.” Her next comment was halted by their food arriving. The waiter set their plates in front of them then took a half step back.
“For your appetizer, Chef Lo has prepared a cucumber salad. Sliced cucumber with shredded crab meat, and toasted sesame seeds in a light soy sauce dressing.” He smiled then set a small carafe and two cups on the table. “We suggest saki to accompany this dish.” Bowing slightly, he left quickly.
“It looks delicious.” Andy took a small bite then nodded. “Very good.”
Miranda tasted the dish and agreed. “Quite nice.”
They ate in silence for a time. Oddly the silence between them was not tense and there seemed to be no pressure to fill the quiet with rambling. They sipped the small amount of saki provided and although they agreed that it did go well with the dish, they both preferred the champagne. Andy poured their glasses half full to sip while they waited for this course to be cleared and the next to arrive.
Now Miranda felt the urge to inquire about her companion. “So, do you... have children?” The dark-haired woman nearly choked on the drink she had just taken and Miranda easily surmised the answer even before the oddly hesitant response was made.
Andy put her hand over her mouth to wipe any tiny bit of spray that may have happened from the near choking. “Um... no.” She laughed, a little too loudly, for her own ears and was very casual with her answer. “Sorry, but I've never been with anyone that inspired the urge.”
“I see.” Miranda nodded. “Often fate decides for you.” She kept her gaze on her companion's face. “I suppose it is for the best if your job requires very much travel.”
“It doesn't really.” Andy explained. “I do travel sometimes, but most of the consulting I do can be done from my office at home. I... do have a young niece and nephew who love it when I travel.” She grinned and lowered her voice as if conveying a secret. “I bring them souvenirs.”
“Ah.” Miranda nodded. “The age old way to a child's heart.”
Shrugging, Andy responded softly, “I like to remember the places I've been, too. It's nice when I'm home. I can look at photos or trinkets to remind me of my travels.” She watched her companion's face, expectantly, waiting patiently for the next obvious question.
“And where would that be?” Miranda had wondered that for a while. The woman's accent was certainly not from the New England area. “Home?”
Andy took another sip of her champagne and used the moment to consider whether or not to answer the question and how specific to get. “Ohio.”
“Ah.” Miranda nodded. That explained the accent or lack of one. “So you are just in town to sell your book?”
“Actually,” Andy smiled, “that was a stroke of good luck. I took the opportunity to meet with the publishers. I'm ostensibly here in a consulting role for a former law school friend. He was having difficulty with a couple of contracts.”
“You're good at that are you?” Miranda knew that her attorney was very good at that aspect of law. Perhaps he would know of this young woman, although he didn't recognize her, or she him, when she confronted him last night.
“Civil law is my specialty.” She didn't say that she was one of the best in the country. That would sound like a boast, and it may have been, a little. But it was also true. It was why her classmate had contacted her. He and his partners had two different kinds of contracts that they were trying to break. One was her specialty, one was more corporate, but Michael knew how good Andy was and had asked her to look at both. “I traveled more when I was young. My father was in the military, Navy, so we moved fairly often. He retired from the JAG office a year before I graduated from Stanford.”
“So you have your own law firm, in Ohio?”
“Yes.” Andy nodded. “My father and I opened our own...” Her verbal resume halted when the waiter delivered their salad course and poured their wine. Andy nodded thanks to the man and took a small bite of the dish as he was walking away. “Mmmm... I love couscous.”
“It is delicious.” Miranda ate slowly apparently lost in her own thoughts. Her companion's quiet voice drifted to her ears.
“Sachs.” Andy murmured, “Sachs and Sachs...”
“Excuse me?” Miranda shook her head, partially to clear the thoughts she was having, partially to try and make sense of what she'd heard. “Sacks and sacks, of what?”
“Sachs.” Andy smiled. “Andrea Sachs, that's my name.”
Miranda licked her lips. A smile crinkled the edges of her eyes and caused small creases to appear at the corners of her mouth. “It's a pleasure to meet you, Andrea.” She took a deep breath and spoke so softly it was almost a whisper. “I'm Miranda.”
Andy nearly missed the woman introducing herself. The way Miranda had pronounced her name had caused shivers to run down her spine. It was exotic and unusual and so so... right coming from the Dragon Lady. Then the name registered and Andy smiled. “Miranda... that's beautiful.”
Dinner proceeded comfortably. They enjoyed the food, enjoyed the wine and enjoyed the light conversation that passed between them. Flirty comments peppered the more informational statements. By the time dessert arrived they had discussed a number of different topics, although some information still eluded Andy. She decided it was best to just ask. Gathering a bite on her fork, Andy grinned, “So, what do you do, Miranda?”
“You really don't know, do you?” Miranda had been dubious about that before, but the tone of the question was unmistakable. Andrea had no clue who Miranda was. Despite the fashionable clothing the woman had worn each time Miranda had seen her, it was clear that Andrea was not at all a follower of the fashion world. “I am the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine.”
“Runway...” Andy tried to recall where she'd seen that name. “Oh! I've seen that, in the magazine section of the bookstore.”
“Mmmm...” Miranda tried not to be disdainful but a bit of sarcastic bite slipped into her tone. “If you had bothered to open any of them you would have seen my photo on the masthead.”
Andy chuckled. “Well then, I'll be sure to do that next time.”
“When will that be?” Miranda's eyes lost a little of their gleam. “How long are you going to be here?”
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Andy admitted. “I'm scheduled to leave tomorrow.” She saw Miranda's chest rise and fall quickly but then locked and held her gaze. “But, if you have the time, I can change my flight and stay for a few more days.”
Miranda was relieved at the thought of Andrea remaining in the city, but she was also confused by it. “Why would you do that?”
“Honestly? I wouldn't normally. My business is concluded here and any other time I would keep my schedule to return home tomorrow.” Andy spoke sincerely, “But you fascinate me and I think we've had a lovely dinner tonight. Our conversation has only made me even more interested in getting to know you better and, if you'll allow it, that is exactly what I would like to do.”
“And if I say no?”
“Then I will go home, tomorrow, and never bother you again.” Andy watched Miranda closely and continued, “But I will never in my life forget you, because what I told your rude friend last night is the God's honest truth.” She smiled softly and nearly whispered, “You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”
“Andrea...” Miranda never took her eyes off the younger woman. Her jaw tensed for a moment. Asking Andrea to stay was madness. It went against every single concept Miranda had of herself and her image. But, the woman had dominated her thoughts since their chance meeting. Letting her go, back to Ohio, that would take care of the problem wouldn't it? Out of sight, out of mind, right? The perfect solution to resolve this distraction. Yes, of course, Andrea obviously should go home. Taking another breath, Miranda nodded once and heard a single, quiet, word escape her lips.
“Okay, Dad.” Andy absently scrolled through the messages in her inbox as she spoke on the phone. “Oh... and, I'm going to stay in New York for a few more days.”
He instantly objected, as she knew he would. “I know we have that meeting. That is why I'm telling you now. I should be back for it. You're already prepared to handle it yourself anyway. It's your project. You already know my stance on the issue anyway.” She listened to a little more of his objections before shaking her head, even though he couldn't see it. “I'm not asking you... I'm telling you... I'm staying for a few more days. Deal with it.” She disconnected the call then turned off her phone and tossed it on the desk. The only person she wanted to hear from wasn't going to call. Andy had not given Miranda her cell phone number, yet.
She threaded her fingers through the hair at her temples and tugged on it slightly. It was a maddening situation. Things with Miranda seemed to be moving at a frightening pace, but all too slow at the same time. Andy growled a little. She had never felt this way about anyone before. The feeling that this was too important to rush had overruled her desire to touch and be touched by Miranda. It was a battle though, one that was temporarily lost at the end of the evening. Andy smiled and relived the memory, for the hundredth time. Miranda's car had just pulled up to the curb.
“Miranda.” Andy reached out and touched the woman's elbow, halting Miranda's forward momentum. “Until tomorrow?” Miranda had nodded and smiled, taking Andy's breath away.
“Yes, Andrea.” Miranda's eyes held a depth of promise that Andy hadn't seen yet tonight. “Tomorrow.”
“I'll see you then.” Leaning forward, Andy's lips brushed the woman's cheek lightly. “I can't wait.” She closed her eyes and savored the feel of the back of Miranda's finger caressing her cheek.
“I am also looking forward to it.”
Unable to stop herself, Andy reached up and held the hand against her cheek, then turned her head slightly, and kissed the pulse point on Miranda's wrist. She murmured against the soft skin. “Sweet dreams, Miranda.”
Andy sighed. If just kissing Miranda's wrist made her feel this tied up inside she wasn't sure she'd be able to handle an actual kiss from the woman.
“Tomorrow.” Andy shook her head and checked the clock. They'd decided to meet for breakfast and there were still at least eight hours before the time they'd set. “It's such a long time away!” Resigned to waiting, she bustled through the hotel suite focused on getting herself ready for bed. Snuggling down into the sheets, Andy smiled and relived the memory of her lips on Miranda's skin again. It was a lovely thought to drift off with and allowed her to have a few sweet dreams of her own.
Miranda looked at herself in the mirror. “Dear God you're an old fool.” Her still vivid blue eyes traced every single line on her face. Reaching up she started to trace the deeper wrinkles with her fingertips. “How can she possibly...” Her thought tapered off as her warm breath hitting her wrist brought back the memory of Andrea's kiss. She shivered as ghost lips recreated the event. Her wrist had tingled for quite some time after that gesture. And for quite a bit longer, Miranda had wished the kiss had not stopped at her wrist. The fantasy of those lips caressing her own, or even other parts of her, caused electric tingles to race down Miranda's spine and disperse throughout her body. “Ridiculous!” She scoffed at her mirror image. But, there was no mistaking Andrea's intent. The only question was, whether Miranda would allow it to happen.
As she crawled into her cold empty bed, Miranda tried to picture what that would be like, being with Andrea. It was terrifying. She had never been with a woman before, despite many offers. She had considered it, for a moment or two, on a few occasions, but the woman in question at that time hadn't seemed worth the effort. But this woman, this confident, intelligent, beautiful woman, made her consider it almost every minute.
Closing her eyes, Miranda took some deep cleansing breaths. She wanted to get a good amount of sleep tonight. Her plans for tomorrow began early and she did not want to be tired. Letting her mind drift, the memory of caressing Andrea's soft cheek, and the woman's lips on her wrist put a smile on Miranda's face. Perhaps tomorrow she would allow a real kiss. Perhaps tomorrow she would initiate one. That thought made her smile wider. Her mind began creating scenarios that would give her the chance.
Andy rushed into the restaurant looking frantically for Miranda. She calmed down slightly when she spotted a glimpse of white across the room. Making her way to the table caused her anxiety to rise again. The expression on Miranda's face was quite foreboding. The urge to kneel in front of Miranda and beg her forgiveness gripped Andy for a long moment. Taking a deep breath, Andy finished her journey to the table. She didn't kneel, but she did offer her apologies. “Sorry I'm late. Traffic was totally wild this morning, accidents, construction... what a mess!” Passing up her chair for a moment, Andy leaned down to the seated woman and brushed her lips against Miranda's cheek. “Forgive me?”
“Of course.” Miranda inhaled deeply and adjusted the lapel of her jacket. “I have only just arrived myself. My driver also found that the traffic was quite problematic today.”
“I also didn't realize that we would be this far from my hotel.” Andy sat, calm and confident again. She glanced around the main room of Pastis before her eyes fell back to her dining companion. “I've heard this place has great breakfasts though.”
“They do.” Miranda nodded, obviously satisfied with Andrea's continued attention on her instead of their surroundings. Reflecting the younger woman's smile, Miranda rolled her eyes slightly. “I chose this location because afterward I need to stop, for a moment, at Christian Louboutin's. Thus, the business suit.”
“Ah, Christian Lou... that's shoes...right?” Andy's eyes crinkled a bit at the corners. Miranda's mock horror at her feigned lack of knowledge made her smile. “All work and no play??”
“Something like that.”
“Well, business suit or not.” Andy looked down, around the table. “I do like the amount of leg your skirt shows.”
Miranda licked her lips and picked up her menu. “Shall we order?”
Andy smirked and nodded also perusing the menu. “Yes, I'm starved.” Her stomach had been tied in knots as soon as she had realized that she'd be late to meet Miranda at the restaurant. Now that she knew there would be no major repercussions from that delay, Andy was really quite hungry.
Miranda took a last bite of her oatmeal then sat back to sip her coffee and wait for Andrea to finish her pancakes. She signed the check while she waited and then searched her purse to find a small card. She flipped the card over and wrote on the blank side both her home number and her private cell phone number before sliding it across the table to Andrea. “The next time you find yourself delayed, perhaps you can call?”
It was gratifying when Andrea stopped eating immediately and reached for the card. There was a bit of smirk in her smile. “Next time?”
Casually shifting her shoulders, Miranda couldn't help but grin at her companion. “If you wish.”
Andy shook her head. “Next time I'll skip my morning run and leave three hours early! I barely had time to throw this dress on before I had to leave, and I was still late!”
Miranda chuckled. “No need for that.” Her blue eyes glittered across the table. The light blue summer dress that Andrea had thrown on after her run was last season's design, but it looked spectacular on the younger woman. “An hour early will suffice.” Breathing deeply, Miranda felt Andrea's laughter move through her. This was real laughter, not the polite amusement she often heard at gatherings. Of course at gatherings she rarely, as in never, displayed her playful side. “You have a beautiful laugh.”
“Oh, please...” Andy shook her head. “It's best described as a cackle.”
Reaching across the table, Miranda grasped Andrea's hand and squeezed it lightly. “It's genuine, and it's beautiful.” She was surprised when she tried to release her hold only to have her fingers tangled with Andrea's. The larger hand held hers in place.
With the barest of winks, Miranda nodded once. She noticed Andrea seemed to be finished eating. “Ready to go look at shoes?”
“Today, I'm with you. So you just tell me what you want to do,” Andy's thumb moved over Miranda's pulse point, “and I'll do it.”
Standing, without releasing their hands, Miranda smirked. “You may regret that statement, Andrea.”
Rising from her seat, Andy closed the distance between them to mere inches and looked slightly down into Miranda's eyes. “Never.”
Holding the gaze, Miranda found herself unable to speak. Andrea's soft lips brushing her wrist, just as she had done last night, caused shivers to race through her. She stepped slightly away and whispered, “Never is a very long time, Andrea.”
“I have the feeling, Miranda,” Andy smiled and spoke softly, “that never won't be nearly long enough.”
Rolling her eyes, Miranda tugged on the hand in hers. “Come along, Andrea.” The response Andrea gave made her hesitate and stumble slightly. She recovered quickly but the words echoed in her head as they left the restaurant. They were familiar words that were often uttered by some irritating minion trying to ingratiate themselves to her. However, for some reason they sounded odd, and right, in Andrea's voice.
Andy found a seat and watched as Miranda did her thing at the Christian Lou store. She thought it was the sexiest thing she'd ever seen when Miranda verbally flayed the woman that practically accosted them at the door. It was all Andy could do to remain silent and not press Miranda against the nearest wall for a searing kiss.
By the time Miranda had finished her business, Andy had cooled down slightly, but her feelings for Miranda were there, just under her skin, waiting. She stood as Miranda approached her. “All finished?”
“Yes.” Miranda sighed. “I do apologize for making you wait.”
Smiling at that, Andy waved off the apology. “I don't mind.” Moving closer she reached out to hold Miranda's hand. “So, where to now?”
“I have no other plans for the day.”
“Oh... Great!” Andy smiled and pulled Miranda closer, wrapping her arm around Miranda's waist. “Would you mind if we stopped at my friend's art gallery? There's a print there that I want to buy.”
“Your friend owns an art gallery?”
“She doesn't own it. She's the manager. She is an artist though, and an amateur photographer.” Andy led Miranda out the door. “It's this way.” She stopped suddenly. “Do you mind walking a few more blocks? Your shoes aren't exactly...made for walking. We can get a cab if you like.” The sandals she had on not only went with her dress, but were also comfortable to walk in. The stroll from Pastis to Christian Lou had actually been pleasant.
“Not at all.” Miranda smiled. “I'm quite used to being on my feet, even in uncomfortable shoes. Although, these are not as bad as you might imagine.”
“Okay then.” Andy gestured toward the art gallery and began walking when Miranda did, keeping a small distance between them. She had known that Miranda was someone special, but she was only now beginning to realize exactly how special. Public displays of affection didn't seem to be something that Miranda would be fond of so it made her smile when Miranda moved a bit closer and tangled their fingers together. She looked over to meet Miranda's eyes and they both grinned as they continued walking down the sidewalk, hand in hand.
Miranda enjoyed the walk and sooner than she would have liked they arrived at the gallery.
Andrea groaned and checked the time on her phone. “I forgot they don't open until later today.” She nodded at the time. “Lily will be here though and maybe one of her salespeople. I dunno if Lynn is working today or not, she's sweet.”
Miranda felt a tug on her hand and Andrea grinned. “C'mon.”
She followed Andrea around the side of the building and waited as the younger woman rang the bell at the delivery entrance. It didn't take long for the door to open. They stepped inside and Miranda evaluated the new person immediately, as she always did. She was a lovely, dark-skinned woman. The Vivian Westwood ensemble she was wearing was from two seasons ago, but it still looked quite nice. She waited for Andrea to make the introductions. The shock on Lillian's face was quite satisfying.
“Y...you're Miranda Priestly? THE Miranda Priestly?!”
Miranda informed the young woman, quite seriously but still with a hint of amusement, “I am the only Miranda Priestly that I know.”
“Geez, Lily.” Andy tightened her grip on Miranda's hand, slightly, as she grimaced at her friend. “Don't scare her away by acting like a freak.”
Miranda chuckled. “No worries, Andrea. It would take quite a lot more than this to drive me away from you.”
Turning to face Miranda, Andy grinned and leaned close to whisper, “That's good to know.” Lifting their joined hands, Andy kissed Miranda's wrist. “Feel free to look around while Lily and I finalize the sale.”
Lily audibly swallowed and broke in on the conversation. “Yes. The main gallery with oils, watercolors and sculptures is through that door. There is a side gallery for photographs. Please, feel free to look around. It shouldn't take us long to finish the paperwork.”
“Very well.” Miranda agreed and wandered off into the gallery.
Andy watched her go until Lily's hand shaking her elbow pulled her attention away.
“My God! Andy! Do you know who that is?!”
Removing her arm from Lily's grasp, Andy smiled. “It's Miranda Priestly.”
“She's like the most powerful person in the fashion industry!” Lily shook her head as they walked back to her office. “I can't believe of all the people in New York you pick her!”
Andy closed the door behind them. “How is it that you know her name but not what she looks like?” She narrowed her eyes at her friend. “You didn't recognize her in the restaurant, did you?”
“No, I didn't... but Andy, everyone knows her name!” Lily sighed. “I see it in the blurbs on Page Six all the time. She's mentioned a lot, but rarely photographed. I think the papers are scared of her. I don't usually pay attention to the pictures, anyway. They're usually horribly lit and grainy. I certainly don't examine the ones of the older people.” She smirked. “White hair doesn't interest me as much as it does you.”
“It always amazes me that you don't recognize beauty when you see it.” Andy laughed. “You're an artist for God's sake.”
“I prefer more contemporary works.” Lily continued to smirk as she handed over the papers for Andy to sign. One for the shipping company and one to authorize the credit card number they had on file. “I'm not really a fan of the classics.”
Andy glared for a second then signed the papers as she spoke. “That's not even funny.”
Miranda heard the front door to the main gallery open but continued to browse through the photos here in the side room, content to wait for Andrea's return in peace. That was not to be, however, when an overly cheerful person broke her solitude.
“Hello. I thought I saw someone in here...” She smiled. It was her normal helpful expression. “Can I help you find something in particular?”
“Okay, well if you need anything... my name is Lynn.”
Miranda waved her hand dismissively at the displays. “I'm just waiting for Andrea to finish her business. Then, we will be on our way.” She was not thrilled at the immediate brightening of the saleswoman's smile.
“Oh! You mean Andy... Andy Sachs? Is she here?!”
“I believe I just said I am waiting for her.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” Lynn blushed. “She's probably out of my league, but she's just really... hot.”
“Mmm...” Miranda continued to look at the photos on the wall. “Indeed.”
“I met her a couple of years ago, when I first started working here. She is good friends with my boss... they went to school together or something. We all went out for drinks once. I've been hoping she'd ask me out ever since!”
Miranda looked sharply at the young woman. “I don't believe you are her type.”
“Oh?” Lynn's shoulders drooped. “You think not?”
“I believe she is drawn to... more mature women.” Miranda smiled and looked over at the door as Andrea entered the side gallery.
“Hey you.” Andy moved to Miranda's side, immediately tangling their fingers together. “See anything you like?”
Glancing around the room, holding her gaze on Lynn for a brief moment longer than any of the displays, Miranda informed Andrea. “No. Nothing here interests me.”
“Okay then.” Andy squeezed the fingers in hers. “Let's go find something that does spark your interest.” She took a step then stopped and blinked. “Oh. Hello, Lynn.” She smiled and waved as she walked out of the room, Miranda right next to her. “Have a nice day.”
“Yes.” Miranda smirked a bit and leaned into Andrea's solid frame as they walked away. “Have a nice day.”
Lynn watched them go and spoke to her boss as Lily joined her. “Who does she think she is?!”
Chuckling at that, Lily exhaled softly. “That... was Miranda Priestly.” She grinned as the blood drained from Lynn's face. “Uh huh, you dodged a bullet on that one and yes, she is dating Andy.”
With a sinking heart, Lynn knew for certain that Andy was way out of her league. “Damn.”
“So, where do you want to go now?” Andy's enthusiasm was evident in her smile. “New York is ours to explore!”
Miranda chuckled and couldn't help echoing her companion's infectious smile. “How do you feel about Broadway or Central Park?”
“I have a favorite jogging path in Central Park. That's all I've ever really seen of it.” Andy's eyes twinkled. “It looks lovely from my hotel window.”
“Then we must correct your severe lack of New York experiences.” Miranda inhaled deeply. “And theater? Have you seen any performances during your stay?”
“I have come for long weekends sometimes, to visit with Lily. She's more prone to nightclubs and dancing, but on one occasion we did venture out to a theater. She took me to see an off-Broadway thing one of her artist friends was directing. ” Andy shuddered a bit. “It wasn't really my style.”
“Mmm...” Miranda nodded. “I too have been coerced into viewing less than stellar productions at one time or another.” She smiled. “You should experience the real thing. Perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone?”
Andy grinned. “I'm all for multi-tasking.” She felt Miranda tug gently on their joined hands and followed the lead into a nearly hidden coffee shop. They found an empty table and Miranda took a seat before she held up her phone.
“Would you mind if I make a few calls?”
“Not at all.” Andy bent slightly at the waist in a pseudo-bow and gestured to the counter. “I'll just go get some drinks. What do you prefer?”
Miranda chuckled. “Just tell them it's for me. They will know.” She winked at Andrea's laugh then turned her attention to the screen on her phone.
Her quick calls were finished by the time Andrea returned to the table and carefully set her coffee in front of her. “Thank you.”
“Sure.” Andy sipped her own drink and watched with wide eyes as Miranda took a swallow of her own.
“Um... no... it's just.” Andy laughed. “That is the hottest coffee I've ever seen... felt. I nearly burned my fingertips through the three cardboard sleeves the girl put on it!”
Chuckling at that, Miranda took another sip and sighed. “I suppose dragons prefer hot beverages.”
“I guess so.” Andy smiled and changed the subject. “How did your calls go?”
“We seem to be in luck.” Miranda nodded. “There is a performance tonight at the Delacorte.”
“Yeah!?” Andy sat up a bit straighter. “Don't you have to stand in line for a long time to get tickets?” That was the excuse Lily had given her when she'd asked about attending a show at the legendary theater.
“Most people do.” Miranda's eyes glittered. “But dragons, do not.”
“I see.” Andy tilted her coffee cup toward Miranda in a silent toast. “Well then, I shall consider myself lucky to know a dragon.”
Miranda maintained her gaze on Andrea's face, but smirked as she spoke, “Indeed.”
“The performance is this evening?” Andy's dark eyes never left Miranda's face. “What oh what will we do until then?” The look in Miranda's eye sent pleasant tingles down Andy's spine as did her soft words.
“Oh... I'm sure we can think of something.”
Something, Andy found, turned out to be a little bit of everything. Miranda seemed happy enough though. Her driver had picked them up at the coffee shop and ferried them around New York. They even indulged in a bit of shopping at a few of the trendier boutiques and children's stores. They were all thrilled to have Miranda in their shops even though the fashion queen didn't buy anything. She did approve of the outfits Andy picked out for herself and for both her niece and nephew. While their car navigated the city streets, Miranda played tour guide as they passed many of the lesser known landmarks. They had even driven through a residential area where Miranda had pointed out her townhouse to Andy; they hadn't stopped there though.
After the car tour of the city they had stopped at a little Greek street cart for lunch. Andy claimed “tourist” privileges and the necessity to cement her “New York experience” to obtain the gyros, veggie for her and lamb for Miranda. She grinned happily as they shared their meal on a small park bench.
Andy now found herself browsing through the gift shop at the Museum of Natural History. She was examining a collection of large geodes, amazed at the colorful crystals inside what looked like ordinary rock on the outside. There was a bin full of large rocks for sale, rocks that may or may not be geodes. She picked up one that seemed a little more interesting than the others and added it to the items she had already chosen for her niece and nephew. Miranda, who had been looking at the colorful clothing from various cultures, joined her at the cash register.
“You're buying a rock?”
“Yes.” Andy waited patiently for the clerk to scan the items tags.
“For your niece or nephew?”
“It's for me.” Andy handed over her credit card and grinned at her companion. “To remind me of you.”
“A rock reminds you of me.” Miranda made a disapproving sound. “How flattering.”
Andy laughed. “It's a geode, Miranda.” She gestured toward the large display. “It looks like an ordinary rock on the outside, but on the inside it's full of beauty and wonder.”
“So you crack it open, admire the crystals for a moment then toss it away.” Miranda pulled her eyes away from the large geode that was the central focus of the display. “Even the most beautiful ones are merely set on a pedestal and forgotten, eventually.”
“I won't crack it.” Andy picked up the bag with her purchases in it. “It is enough that I know what it contains. I don't have to break it to know it's there. I will put it on the shelf in my office and it will remind me of you, of this day.” She looked into Miranda's eyes for a moment. “Would you mind if we went back to my hotel for a little while, so I can drop off these and the ones we left in the car? I would also like to freshen up a bit.”
“That...” Miranda nodded and tried to control her pounding heart. Unflattering rock analogies aside, the thought of being alone with Andrea in her hotel room was making her a little lightheaded. She had spent all day out in public with this woman and now, Miranda knew, she was very ready to be alone with her. “That would be acceptable.”
Andy keyed open the door to her suite and held the door for Miranda. “Do you mind if I check my email?”
“Not at all.” Miranda entered the living area of the suite and nodded her approval as she settled on the couch. “We have a considerable amount of time to wait before we need to arrive at the theater.”
“Excellent.” Andy grinned. “I'm just gonna get cleaned up a bit and change clothes. Be right back.” She continued to speak to Miranda through the open door between the bedroom and the living area. “Do you want to change clothes before the theater? I'm sure your driver has plenty of time to take you home...”
“Not necessary.” Miranda indicated her outfit. “This is suitable for the venue and quite comfortable.” The truth was that she simply didn't want to leave Andrea's company. She was keenly aware that there were all too few hours left between them to share. Again she wondered exactly why she felt this way after such a short time knowing Andrea.
“In that case.” Andy called through the door, “I will dress accordingly.”
Miranda heard the sounds that indicated Andrea was changing clothes. She had heard it many times on photo shoots; the models changed often and quickly. But in all the times she'd heard the sounds she'd never had the urge to peek into the changing room, until now. Chiding herself for the ridiculous hormonal surge, Miranda managed to control herself. Although, a tiny shiver did race down her spine when Andrea reappeared. Miranda perused her companion's long body and unconsciously nodded her approval. The casual business suit Andrea had changed into was exquisite, tailored precisely to fit the attorney's long legs.
Andy grinned when she saw Miranda's look. “It's not as formal as the Armani, but I thought it might do for the play and somewhat match your business-like attire.”
“It's...” Amazing, exquisite, intriguing, enticing, all came to mind, but Miranda's lips twitched and she managed to go with a less provocative description, “...acceptable.”
Nodding, Andy grinned. “Yep, I love all my Moi-Meme clothes.”
Miranda chuckled. “I thought it looked like Dawn's work. This,” indicating her own skirt outfit, “is from Tom James.” She glanced at her watch. “Now it seems we are all dressed up, and have nowhere to go, for a while.”
“Hmmm... yeah.” Andy looked thoughtful then brightened. “We could take a carriage ride around the park...”
“Do you not have work to do?” Miranda reminded her. “You were going to check your email.”
“Oh... yeah...” With a decidedly less enthusiastic expression, Andy crossed the room to the desk and the waiting computer.
Miranda was far enough away not to be able to read the screen, but could see that there were a lot of unread messages. “This could take a while then?”
Andy shook her head. “No.” She began to click the mouse, selecting several of the messages at a time and deleting them unread.
“Your work is that unimportant to you?” Miranda was slightly appalled at the attitude.
“Not at all.” Andy continued her ruthless deletion of messages. “I take my work very seriously.” She sighed. “What I do not take seriously is my father's multitude of emails condemning me for what he deems my complete irresponsibility when I am, in fact, very responsible.” She was grinding her teeth together now as she grumbled her discontent. “If it weren't for me, the firm would not have been as successful as it has been. I drew nearly all of our business for the first year and a half...I worked every day...” Warmth suffused her entire body as Miranda's hands landed gently on her shoulders and began to lightly massage the hard muscles there.
“You are far too tense for someone your age.” Miranda leaned down and whispered in Andrea's ear. “Relax.”
Andy groaned and closed her eyes. Her head tipped back to rest against Miranda's breasts. “God... that feels good.”
“Indeed it does...” Miranda was mesmerized by the strong muscles under her hands, shifting and loosening at her touch. She was so distracted by Andrea's long hair brushing her arms that she nearly missed the motion when Andrea reached up, took her right hand with her left one and spun the chair around. Looking down into those dark eyes, Miranda felt her traitorous knees collapse. Suddenly she was sitting in Andrea's lap, the younger woman's arms around her, holding her tightly. It was too much. “Andrea...” Miranda searched her companion's face and sighed. “I'm going to kiss you now.”
Andy only nodded and pulled Miranda closer, tilting her head to bring their lips together. Her eyes closed just before the first light contact. Miranda's softness pressing against her, Miranda's warm lips pressing against hers was too much. Andy moaned and heard Miranda echo the sound.
“I swore that I'd do this, if I got the chance today.” Miranda spoke holding her lips barely away from Andrea's. “So many chances, and I always backed out.”
With a burst of strength, Andy stood. Miranda automatically stood as she dropped off of Andy's lap. Andy spoke, breathlessly, “I've wanted to do this since the moment I saw you.” Her tongue flicked across Miranda's lips and she groaned as Miranda immediately granted access. It wasn't a battle for dominance, it was dual exploration. Andy's hands also explored, finding their way inside Miranda's jacket, under Miranda's shirt. Miranda's smooth stomach trembled at her touch. “Oh God...” Andy breathed against Miranda's neck. “You feel so good. I knew you would.”
“Andrea...” Miranda moaned. “Oh...” A shaky breath let Miranda continue, “Andrea... please... stop.”
Resting her forehead against Miranda's, their breath mixing between them, Andy stilled her hands and asked, “You want me to stop?”
“I want you to understand.” Miranda kept her hold on the younger woman, not allowing her to move even an inch away. “I don't do this, with anyone... ever. I'm not in the habit of...”
“Fucking on the first date?”
“Don't be crude.” Miranda closed her eyes as Andrea's hands went back into motion. “But, yes that is a fair statement.”
“Well...” Andy shifted to look Miranda in the face. “Lucky me, this is our second date.”
Miranda's eyes flew open. “Andrea...”
“Tell me you don't want this.” Andy held the eye contact. “Tell me you want me to stop, and I will.”
“Andrea I started this... I started it the moment I asked you to join me at the table two nights ago.” Miranda shook her head, but maintained eye contact. “You caught my attention and have dominated it ever since that meeting. I have been unable to focus on anything else since the moment I met you.” Bringing her hand up to her soon-to-be lover's face, Miranda softly traced the smooth skin on Andrea's jaw. “I can't let that continue. I have to... to... “
“Ah...” Leaning into the touch, Andy smiled. “You are trying to get me out of your system.”
“Yes.” Miranda sighed. “I'm sorry. I just.. don't know what else to do.”
“It won't work.” Andy kissed the fingertips brushing her lips even as her own hands skimmed across Miranda's ribs, holding her, pulling her closer. “We're in each other's heads now. A few hours of passion won't help. It will only make things worse.” Andy, reluctantly, pulled back. “You say you don't normally do 'this.'” She sighed and with a final kiss to Miranda's neck stepped back completely. She admitted quietly, “But I do... did.” A self-depreciating laugh escaped her. “If you ask Lily, I take someone home from bars every night. Honestly, that isn't too far off. It just doesn't always go the way she thinks.”
“So...” The confession cooled Miranda somewhat. “You have a shelf full of rocks and I am but one of many.”
“No, Miranda.” Andy sighed. “You are unique, and special.” She sat on the couch with her head in her hands. “You're all I can think about as well.”
A thought occurred to Miranda. “You were going out with your friend the night we met.” She looked around apprehensively. Had Andrea taken someone home that night? Brought someone else to this very room? She refused to speak the question out loud, but Andrea knew what she was thinking and responded.
“No... No one came back here. Six people asked, and I declined each offer.” She smiled sadly and looked up at Miranda. “None of them were you.”
“People.” Miranda latched on to that word. “So, not just... not just women?”
“No, not always.” Dark eyes looked up and her heart clenched at the pain she saw in Miranda's eyes. “But usually. Men are often belligerent and more...forceful when they're drunk. Women are more playful and curious. More fun.” Miranda's disapproving look made her angry. “Look, I'm not going to apologize for who I am any more than you are. Neither of us want that.”
Miranda thought about that for a moment and nodded. “Fair enough.” She sighed and asked, “What do you want, Andrea?”
“You.” Andy stood and moved closer to Miranda. “I want your hands on me and I want to explore every slope and curve of your body with mine.” She reached out to take Miranda's hand in hers. “But until we're ready for that, I want to take a carriage ride through the park, and go to the theater to watch the play, and hold your hand as we make our way back to the hotel.” Lifting their joined hands, Andy, lightly, kissed Miranda's wrist.
Breathless, Miranda managed to prompt, “And then?”
“And then...” Andy murmured against the soft skin under her lips, “we can explore each other with abandon for the rest of the weekend, if you want.”
“You're leaving it up to me?”
“Yes.” Andy nodded. “The choice is yours.”
Miranda pushed her admirer away. “Why are we even discussing this? We have barely known each other for two days. What is it about you that makes me crave your touch?”
“It's not me.” Andy moved in again. “It's us. When we're together it's right, good...” Her hands slid over Miranda's ribs and she tilted her head to kiss Miranda's earlobe, whispering, “It's like coming home.”
Miranda thought that was exactly how it felt, like coming home. The near instant connection she had with this woman was terrifying. But she couldn't deny Andrea's words and was shocked to find her own hands exploring the younger woman's body, nearly of their own accord. The solid muscles flexing under Andrea's shirt were intriguing in a way she had never experienced before, with anyone. “I cannot stop touching you.” She admitted, “I don't want to.”
“Then don't.” Andy's inhalation mixed with the sound of breath against skin and fabric sliding against each other. “Oh, God... Miranda. Don't stop.” Then there was an unfamiliar noise and all sensations suddenly stopped. Andy nearly fell over when she tried to press against a body that was no longer there. Miranda was now two steps away, putting her phone to her ear.
The person on the phone was obviously one of Miranda's daughters. Andy took a deep breath to calm herself, allowing the conversation to move to the periphery of her senses. She sat back down at the computer and continued the task of clearing her inbox. Surprisingly, there was actually one, from her law school friend, that she decided to answer.
Miranda closed her phone and looked across the room at Andrea's back. It had been nice to hear from her children and their fairly short talk about the trip they are on was pleasant. Now Miranda was apprehensive about having taken the call so quickly. Slowly crossing the room, she dropped her hand to Andrea's shoulder. The tension there was again palpable. “Are you terribly upset?”
Andy's lungs quickly lost all their air and she shook her head. She sent her reply to the email and tipped her head back to look up at Miranda. “Not at you. Not at all.” She could see the decision in Miranda's eyes. Taking the call from the girls had only cemented it in the woman's mind. They would not be having sex, yet. Andy smiled. “How are the girls? Having fun?”
“They are well, thank you.” She reflected some of Andrea's smile back at her. “They have assured me that they are having 'a blast' and that they have not encountered any sharks during their underwater excursions.” Lifting her hand, Miranda played with a wavy bit of Andrea's dark hair. “Ironic that I should encounter one here in New York...”
“There are more of us. Right here in New York.” Andy gestured to the computer screen where the email address to the reply she'd just sent was displayed. “My friend from school is trying very hard to be a big shark in this very large body of water.”
Miranda glanced at the screen then took a closer look. Her forehead furrowed. “Chase Crawford, I know that name.” She blinked and informed Andrea. “He is a junior member of the Elias-Clarke legal team.”
“What? Are you sure?”
“Of course.” Miranda waved in the general direction of the Elias-Clarke building. “My attorney had a meeting with them yesterday.”
Andy swallowed hard. “He didn't tell me that.” She gasped as she put two and two together and realized who the employee in the contracts she'd studied must be. “Oh, damn...” Her eyes closed for the duration of her groan. “I think I've done something really bad.”
“Oh?” Miranda couldn't fathom what had changed in the last few seconds to make Andrea say such a thing.
“You're in charge of the budget for your magazine, right?”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “Every single penny must be authorized by the board of directors, but I decide the numbers to take to them and often have to use fairly creative tactics to get them approved. Why?”
“Get them approved, Miranda. Always!”
Laughing at that, Miranda nodded. “Yes, I do.”
“No.” Andy stood and grasped Miranda by her upper arms. “Please, always and I mean, always, get them approved.”
“Andrea? What is going on?”
Andy sighed. “The reason I'm in New York. Chase asked me to consult on a contract issue he and his associates were having. He never told me where he works, or the identity of the person bound to the contract. But basically what they wanted me to do was break the contract... find a way to break it.” Andy was becoming animated now, using her hands as she spoke. “This thing, oh.. this thing was beautiful. A work of art really. So sweet I wanted to cry when I found the clause about the budget.” She sighed. “Basically if the budget isn't approved, if the overages aren't approved, and the company... and now I take it to mean the magazine... loses money, even one penny... it's grounds for dismissal.”
Miranda chuckled, low in the back of her throat. “Yes, I know.”
“You know?” Andy shook her head. “But... Miranda...”
“I instructed my attorney to ignore it when they put that clause in the final draft and buried it just enough to make them think I don't know. He didn't like it, but he complied. Truth was, I needed to give them an out. Something to make them feel like they could control me, or they would not have agreed to my employment.” Miranda smirked. “What they did not count on is my persuasive nature, or the success of the magazine. The budget is always approved and the overages are as well.”
Miranda's calm voice soothed Andy somewhat and she relaxed a bit, before stiffening again as another thought occurred to her. “Are you having problems with your ex-husband?”
Rolling her eyes at that, Miranda sighed. “I wish I could say no. But he has recently begun to make noises about our unfair divorce settlement. One of the other members of my legal team met with my ex's attorneys yesterday as well.” She was amazed to see Andrea shaking her head. “What?”
“In addition to the employment contract, I was given divorce papers and a prenup to examine. In the email I just responded to, Chase vaguely hinted that they were all regarding the same person. That prenup is a thing of beauty. Your ex won't get another penny from you.” Andy grinned. “One of these days maybe I can meet the person who drafted it? They're genius.”
Laughing at that, Miranda's eyes twinkled. “Genius, really?” She grinned. “Just two nights ago you were calling him by a different descriptor... I believe the word you used was, 'asshat.'”
Andy produced another closed-eye groan, “Oh, no!” She sighed, a self-depreciating sound. “Of course...” Andy turned and pulled Miranda into her lap again. “I suppose I should be thanking him, for giving me an excuse to meet you.”
“Thank him?” Miranda shifted closer, her lips very close to Andrea's. “I should give him a raise.” She kissed Andrea lightly. “If you still wish to take a carriage ride, we should be going...”
“Miranda...” Andy brushed their lips together again then sighed. “Yes, we should be going. I only have another day in New York.”
“Oh? Your father's persistence has drawn you back then.”
“Mmm... my father is persistent and persuasive, but he is not the only person in my family. Some other issues have developed that require my presence at home.” Andy traced Miranda's jawline lightly. “I'm booked on a flight for tomorrow evening.”
“Isn't that odd...” Miranda mumbled and moved into the touch. “I miss you already.”
“Not odd... I'm already trying to figure out when I can return. If... if you want me to...”
“Andrea,” Miranda exhaled softly then managed to voice her thought, “I don't want you to leave in the first place.”
“I am sorry, but circumstances...” Andy's apology was cut off by Miranda's lips pressing against hers. Thoughts of leaving were driven from her mind as her entire world narrowed to include just the two of them for a long, beautiful, moment.
Miranda allowed herself to be lost in the sensations Andrea was evoking in her for several long moments before she, reluctantly, pulled away. This was wrong. She shouldn't be doing this, yet. There were too many other things to consider, namely her children. “Andrea...”
“Shhh...” Andy smiled and nodded in understanding. “I know. We should be going.”
“Andrea...” Miranda groaned as the attorney gently pushed her away, off her lap. “I don't... I mean...”
“Shhh...” Andy shook her head and licked her lips. “No need to explain. You said it yourself. We've only known each other for a very short time.” She grinned. “We probably shouldn't even be kissing, yet...” With a sigh, Andy ran her fingers though her hair and admitted, “I want you, Miranda. More than I can actually verbalize at the moment, but I understand that you are a mom and that your children need role models.” She stood and couldn't help but move closer to Miranda, nuzzling her neck. Inhaling deeply, Andy steeled herself. “I understand because, that is the reason I have to go home.”
“Oh?” Taking a step back, Miranda questioned, “You said you had no children.”
“I don't.” Andy shrugged. “But I am an aunt. My sister is as stubborn as my father and twice as persuasive. She would have made a great attorney if she wanted. She has argued that my actions are being watched by the younger members of the family and that I need to be a good role model for them. Plus she has reminded me that my niece has a recital at school the day after tomorrow, one that I promised I would attend.”
“We are both adults, Andrea...” Miranda began to argue the point, to keep Andrea in New York, then realized what she was doing and sighed. “But your promise should not be broken. Does your niece play piano?”
“Violin.” Andy grinned. “She's only seven but she's pretty good at it. I'm kinda the one who got her into it, so I really do need to be there.”
Miranda nodded. “So, we are both being watched, by impressionable young people. In my case it goes a step further. I have no doubt that at some point today someone captured a moment or two of our adventures on film. It will most likely show up on Page Six tomorrow, if it isn't already online.”
“Seriously?” Andy blinked. “Will that cause you problems?”
Answering with a tiny shake of her head, Miranda smirked. “You saw my employment contract. They can't fire me for that. My reputation is not one of frivolous dating... I tend to marry the men I date.” An introspective grunt escaped her throat before she continued. “And I divorce them fairly quickly. No one would think to link us romantically, unless one of the photographs show us holding hands. Even that would most likely be dismissed by most. Only a photo of us in a passionate kiss would be sensational enough for a Page Six headline. As it is, there may be a mention of me being 'seen' with an unknown woman. Not a problem.”
Andy was about to comment on that when her stomach decided to growl, loudly. With widened dark eyes, she put her hand over her stomach. “Wow. I guess the veggie gyro is gone.” She reached for the menu on the desk. “Should we order room service?”
“No.” Miranda gestured to the door. “Remaining in your room will only make them think we have something to hide and feed the rumor mill. We should go downstairs to one of the restaurants.”
“So, you want to be seen with some unknown woman?” Andy grinned and offered her arm to Miranda, linking elbows with her companion. “Are we going to give them something to talk about?”
“The point is not to give them anything to talk about. We will behave at dinner and at the theater.” Miranda returned the grin. “It would be fun though, to shake them up.”
Andy chuckled and leaned into Miranda. “You are so bad.”
Glancing at her companion, Miranda smirked and murmured, “You have no idea.”
Over the next few hours Andy slowly understood that Miranda's definition of behaving and hers were two very different things. First there was dinner. It was pleasant, sitting and talking to Miranda. Then Andy felt the tiniest of pressure on her ankle. Miranda's face had remained unchanged as the touch built and moved up her leg slightly and down. All Andy could do was thank whatever deity that might be listening for long table cloths, because the press would have had a field day if anyone had seen their feet basically having sex under the table. She was having trouble retaining her composure while Miranda remained as unchanged as ever, only once betraying her inner feelings when Andy had leaned forward and accused, “You are so bad.” The memory of the tiniest smile on Miranda's face made Andy grin, then and now.
The theater hadn't been much different. The seats were individual, but very close together, close enough for Miranda to continue the contact at their ankles. Andy took the shared armrests as a gift. She seized the opportunity of darkness and the inattention of the people around them to also link elbows with Miranda, gently stroking the woman's hand and wrist during most of the performance. It was gratifying to notice that the foot game Miranda had initiated often stopped for a short time in deference to the contact of their hands. The only drawback Andy could find in their conduct was that she had not paid a single moment's attention to the play they were supposedly watching. She assumed it was a good one, with fantastic performances, which is what she told the actors when, as VIPs, they went backstage. But even then she wasn't really paying attention. All she really wanted to do was get Miranda back to the hotel as fast as possible. She wanted, needed, to kiss the woman who had been tormenting her all evening and she knew she couldn't do it in public. She also needed Miranda to know that this sort of game went both ways.
She managed to make it all the way back to her suite, the door solidly closing behind them before she pressed Miranda against the nearest wall. Their bodies molded together, Miranda's hands rendered motionless by Andy holding her wrists. Her nostrils flared when she saw the desire in Miranda's eyes. Holding their lips scant millimeters apart, Andy spoke softly, “You, my dragon, are playing with fire.”
“Dragons like fire.” Miranda moved, trying to capture Andrea's mouth with her own, but Andrea matched the motion keeping them just barely separated. The only contact their lips had was when their ragged breathing caressed and warmed each other.
“I know what you're doing.” Andy shifted, passing her near kiss over every inch of Miranda's lips, cheek, neck. She could feel the heat from Miranda's skin increasing as she found Miranda's ear and whispered, “And it won't work.” Grinning at Miranda's shuddering reaction to the soft words, Andy moved completely away. “I won't do it.”
Miranda sagged back against the wall, grateful for its support. The shiver that Andrea's words had evoked started in her ear, still tingled in her toes. “What?” She gasped for air and shook her head to clear the fog Andrea's proximity had caused. “Do what?”
“Take you to bed...”
“Andrea I...” Miranda began to deny wanting that, but stopped herself. Andrea was correct. She had been, hoping, that her actions would drive Andrea to take the next step in their relationship. She wanted it, Andrea wanted it, but they both knew the reasons that they shouldn't and wouldn't. If Andrea were to insist, though, Miranda knew that she would not refuse. What she would be able to do was blame Andrea for the slip and blame her own participation as coerced in whatever small way it was. “I apologize. My actions were...” Unconscionable and unfair were two of the words that sprang to mind, but Andrea filled one in before Miranda could utter either.
Looking up to meet Andrea's large dark eyes, Miranda swallowed hard. “Excuse me?”
“It's understandable.” Andy took a seat in one of the sitting area's overstuffed chairs and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “We discussed it and agreed that we have not known each other long enough for that step. We agreed that we have impressionable young children watching our actions and that this is not something that we would want them to emulate.”
Miranda nodded in agreement to everything Andrea was saying even as she crossed the room to take a seat on the chair next to the younger woman. She managed to vocalize that agreement with a simple “Yes.” before Andrea continued speaking.
“But we both know how it feels when we're together. And we both want more...”
Nodding again, Miranda looked over at her companion and felt her heart skip a beat. One dark eye was covered by a length of wavy, equally dark, hair, but the other was gazing across the space at her with such desire, it took her breath away. “Andrea...”
“No.” Andy shook her head. “No, Miranda. I won't do it. No matter how much I want to.” She sighed. “Alexis is only seven but she looks up to me. I have not been as wild as Lily remembers me for quite a while. I don't want that life. A different person every weekend, sometimes just for a night.” Andy shook her head. “It's... lonely.”
“What do you want, Andrea?” Miranda let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding when Andrea quietly answered.
Andy continued talking even though she knew the words didn't really make sense. “I want you, Miranda. And before you say anything let me clarify. I want what we've had last night at dinner and today. I want to be in your presence and talk to you about anything and everything. I want to be there for you when you need your shoulders rubbed, just like you did for me earlier. That was amazing Miranda... no one...” Andy shook her head. “No one has ever done that for me before.” She smiled and felt her heart pounding in her chest when she finally looked up at Miranda. “I think I could fall in love with you.”
“Love.” Miranda's eyebrows raised at that declaration then her dragon mask slammed into place. “I'm not in the habit of being toyed with.”
“I'm not...” Andy slid off her seat, remaining on her knees in front of Miranda. She rested her hands on Miranda's knees. “Miranda, I'm serious about this. I've never met anyone like you. You're brilliant and beautiful. I've never felt like this about anyone and I want the chance to know you... I want... you.” Leaning forward she rested her head on the backs of her hands and whispered. “I want... us.” Miranda's hand on her head stilled Andy's breath. Miranda's next hushed words forced every bit of air from Andy's lungs.
“Go home, Andrea.”
Andy looked up, into Miranda's tear-filled eyes. “Miranda... No... I...” The older woman's fingertips stopped the protest.
“Go home.” Miranda smiled as she gently traced Andy's face. “I don't believe you want me.” She again stopped Andrea's response. “You may want the idea of me, but I cannot believe...” Miranda licked her lips and sighed. “You are young, smart, and oh so beautiful. To be involved with me is not in your best interests.”
“You're wrong, Miranda.”
Miranda smiled with a bit of sadness touching her eyes. “Possibly. But I think you should go home, take some time to consider things a bit more.” She nodded, giving Andrea's chin a final tweak. “Go, think about it and then, if you wish, return to me. From there we can figure out what we want, together.” Standing, Miranda brought Andrea up with her. Holding their hands between them, Miranda leaned forward and kissed Andrea's cheek lightly. “Until next time.”
She could feel the younger woman's dark eyes on her as she walked out of the hotel suite. Taking a deep breath as the door closed solidly behind her, Miranda squared her shoulders and walked down the hall toward the elevator. She nodded to herself as she went. Yes. She thought. This is best for both of us.
Miranda told herself that all the way home.
Andy slumped in her seat, thankful for the softness. Even though the plane ride from New York had been short, it had been horribly uncomfortable. She wasn't sure if it was because of the rock-hard seats, or the fact that every second took her farther away from Miranda.
Jill gripped the steering wheel tightly and glanced at her sister. “Dad is furious.”
“Dad can just...” Andy stopped herself and sighed. “Dad is always furious about something.”
“Is it true?” Jill kept her eyes on the road. “Were you going to blow off work for some woman you've only just met?”
Andy took a moment to think about that but then answered the question truthfully, “Yes. Sort of. I was just going to miss the meeting about Max becoming a partner. It wasn't a biggie. Dad knows I'm not against it.”
“Thank you, for that. Max worked hard to get his degree.”
“You worked hard to put him through law school.” Andy had hurt just watching the struggles her sister had put herself through, so that her husband could get an education. “You should have been the attorney you know, not him.”
Jill shook her head. “I'm not getting into this with you again. I never wanted that life.”
Andy was silent. She knew Jill's heart had never been set on a career, Jill had always dreamed about being a wife and mother. Ever since they were small that was all Jill had talked about. That was why Andy had... Jill's quiet voice stopped Andy's train of thought.
“Lexi would have missed you at the recital.”
All the air left Andy's lungs and she took a deep breath to replenish it. “I know. I'm sorry. You know I want to be there for her. She knows that, too.”
Jill nodded and checked behind them before changing lanes. “Yes, we know. Which is why I find it so amazing that you would have missed it, for this... woman.”
“Well, I won't miss it, okay?!” Andy crossed her arms and pressed back into her seat. “I'm here.”
“Don't pout.” Jill glanced at her passenger and smirked. “You look like Lexi when you do that.”
“Point of clarification,” Andy grumped. “I came first. Alexis looks like me.”
“I know that...”
Andy shook her head. “I didn't mean it like that. You're her mom.”
“I know.” Jill gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter. “My point is that you're being a child. I've never seen you like this before.”
“I've never felt this way before.” Andy sighed. “There's something about her, Jilly...”
Jill shook her head. “Andy, you can't just sleep with someone...”
“What?” Jill took her chance and again glanced at her passenger. Her shocked expression translated into her tone. “You didn't?”
“Good grief...” Jill made a turn and snorted. “First time for everything I suppose.”
“You know what? I'm getting a little sick of the people who supposedly love me telling me I'm a slut.” Andy tried not to think too hard about the truth of it. That was all over though, ever since Lexi had been born. Even if it hadn't been over, that lifestyle was no longer an option. Andy knew, even without sleeping with her, that no one would ever compare favorably against Miranda. Jill hadn't responded and Andy was glad for the silence in the car.
When they pulled up in front of Andy's apartment building, Jill broke the silence. “Sorry.”
Pausing with her hand on the slightly open door, Andy nodded. “S'okay.” She spoke as she continued out of the car. “Pop the trunk.” Retrieving her bag quickly, Andy went back to speak to her sister, through the open window. “You gonna come up for a bit?”
“Can't.” Jill shrugged. “Gotta go get Max Jr. from his play date.”
Andy nodded. “Okay then. Give him some huggles from me. Tell them both I have presents...”
Jill rolled her eyes. “Of course you do.”
Hefting her bag to her shoulder, Andy smiled a bit sadly. “I'll bring them over tomorrow before the recital.”
“Okay.” Jill reached out to touch her sister's arm. “Come over for lunch.”
Andy nodded and moved toward her building. She didn't watch the car pull away, instead focusing on putting one foot in front of the other until she found herself sitting on her couch staring up at her ceiling. She checked the messages on her phone and saw only her father's number listed a few more times than when she last checked. Her fingers almost automatically pulled up her contact list, as she had been doing nearly every free moment she had since Miranda left the hotel room, and her thumb hovered over Miranda's name. With a sigh, Andy cleared the screen and tossed the phone into a chair across from her. Miranda wanted them to have some space, time to think, well then Andy was determined to give her that time. She had never given Miranda her number. The woman could look her up, she wasn't hard to find online, but if Miranda didn't want to bother doing that, it was her decision. Barely bothering to kick off her shoes, Andy shifted and stretched out on the couch, dropping off to sleep while hoping that Miranda would appear in her dreams.
Miranda stalked to the office barely even noticing when the minions scattered in front of her. Yesterday had been the longest day of her life, spent listening to the silence in her home, unbroken even once by the phone. No word from her daughters had been bad enough, but Andrea had not called either. That had been the worst of it. It was terrible to say, because her daughters were obviously top priority, but they were with their father and obviously safe. She would have heard otherwise. That knowledge left her mind free to roam over thoughts of Andrea. True she had been the one to send Andrea home. True that she had been the one to say they needed time to think about being together. But still, the woman could have called, texted, something, anything to let Miranda know that her flight had landed safely. Was that too much to ask? Miranda didn't think so.
Tossing her coat and purse on the second assistant's desk but holding on to her cell phone, Miranda continued to her desk. “Tell Nigel I want to see him immediately.” She didn't care who carried out the task and, setting her phone aside, turned to her computer. She used the pretense of checking her email to cover for her constant thoughts of Andrea, and to wait for Nigel's arrival. No one could see her eyes darting to the silent phone on her desk between each mouse click. The order for one of the Emily's to find Andrea's number remained on the tip of her tongue. If Andrea didn't call, then Miranda wouldn't either.
Several deleted emails later, Nigel rushed through the door carrying a stack of photos mounted in matte black cardboard frames. “Here are the possible cover photos you requested yesterday.”
“Mmmm....” Swiveling in her chair, Miranda grabbed her glasses. Half a glance at the top photo drew an immediate “No” from her and she tossed it aside. “No.” Three more no's and three more discarded photos brought her to the last image. With a sigh of relief Miranda nodded. “Yes.” She tapped the photo's frame. “At least the shoot wasn't a total loss.” She glared at Nigel. “Why did you not show me this one to begin with?”
Nigel didn't have an answer for that which was fine because he knew Miranda didn't really want one. He took the pictures back when she handed them over and nodded. “I'll get the cover worked up for you today.”
Nodding at that, Miranda waved him away and closed her eyes as she rubbed her temple lightly. “That's all.”
The phone jumped on her desk and Miranda grabbed it, her shoulders only dropped slightly when she read the screen. She actually smiled when she answered the call, “Hello, Bobbsey!” Her smile faltered somewhat and she nodded. This was the call she had known was coming. Her smile was now fake and her tone stressed but hidden well enough. “Of course you can stay.” The thought of another five days without her children caused her heart to ache, but she understood the desire to prolong the vacation. “I will look forward to hearing all about it when you return.” She spoke to the girls, each taking the phone from the other, for another few minutes and then the call was over. Putting the now silent phone back on her desk, Miranda had no illusions that it would ring again today. That didn't stop her eyes from drifting to it every few moments for the rest of the day nor did it stop her mood from worsening as the silence continued.
Andy grinned and gathered her nephew, Max, up in her arms as he ran down the hall to greet her. “Hey there, Junior.” She hugged him and kissed his neck and cheek until he wriggled away. She watched him run off past his sister who moved quickly to meet her favorite aunt at the door. Andy chuckled as she wrapped her arms around the girl. “Hey, Lexi... nervous?”
Alexis shrugged, but ruffled her bang self-consciously just like Andy always had when she was a kid. “Not really.”
“I know you'll be great.” Andy picked up the bag she'd dropped to greet Max and jostled it a little. “I've got presents from New York.”
Jill peeked around the kitchen door and called down the hall. “No presents until after lunch!” The stereo “awwww” and two sets of dark brown eyes turning on her only caused a shadow of emotion to cross her face. “Come on now... it's ready.”
They all took their seats at the table quickly. Jill placed Alexis and Max's plates in front of them, then retrieved the one she'd loaded for herself and a large bowl for Andy.
Andy looked at the offering and smiled softly. “Thanks, sis.”
Rolling her eyes at that, Jill just gestured to the meal. “It's easy enough.”
Andy dug in to her favorite salad, spinach with strawberries and raspberry vinegrette dressing.
“Aunt Andy?” Max looked across the table. “Why don't you eat regular food like us?”
Jill snickered and Andy glared at her sister. Her expression softened when Andy turned toward her nephew. “I used to. I like chicken nuggets very much, especially the way your mom makes them.”
“Like Grandma does!”
“Yep. I even used to help Grandma make them. She'd cut up the chicken and I'd put the coating on and put them on the tray. Then Grandma would put them in the oven. But I found out that I feel better, on the inside, if I just eat fruits, veggies and fish every once in a while.”
“ Oh.” He looked dubiously at her salad then asked. “Can I try some?”
“Sure.” Andy placed a leaf of spinach and a sliver of strawberry on Max's plate. “Remember how they did it in Ratatouille? Taste each one separate, then both together.”
Max nodded and picked up the strawberry first and took a little nibble then he tried a bit of the spinach leaf. He made a face at the taste, but he rolled up the rest of the strawberry in the spinach and ate it, chewing slowly while he decided if he liked it or not.
Andy watched him swallow the combined bite and asked, “Whaddaya think?”
Shrugging, Max picked up a chicken nugget. “It's good. I just don't want any more right now.”
Andy grinned at him. “Fair enough.” She turned to Alexis. “How about you, Lexi? Wanna try it?”
“Ha!” Jill pointed at the girl. “She ate half the strawberries while I was slicing them!”
Lexi tried not to grin and ruffled her bangs. “I like strawberries.”
Andy smiled widely and winked. “Me too.”
Jill just watched the exchange and pushed down a bit of jealousy and a bit of something else. She knew it was unfounded, but watching Andy and Lexi together always brought out a twinge of worry. “Okay, enough chatter.” Jill gestured to the plates. “Eat up.” Her eyes twinkled at her children. “Your presents await...” She smiled at the cheers that announcement drew. “Then we can all get ready to go to the recital.”
Without another word they all dug in. Jill did see a second wink that Andy gave Lexi but ignored it and concentrated on enjoying eating lunch with her family.
“No.” Miranda shook her head as she browsed through the offerings she'd been given, holding on to her cell phone the entire time. “Where are all the advertisers? Why are there no decent dresses?”
“Well there's this..”
“No.” Miranda continued as if she hadn't been interrupted. “I just don't see what is so difficult about putting a run through together. You people have had hours and hours...” Abandoning her search, Miranda waved them all away. “You have used your allotted time for today. You have until tomorrow morning to fix this...” The implied threat that there would be no second chance for some of them was thick in the air. If Miranda wasn't happy with tomorrow's run through, someone would be fired. Everyone scattered quickly, taking the pitiful amount of clothing with them, everyone except Nigel.
Taking her seat, Miranda waited for a moment before prompting the man to speak, “By all means, move at a glacial pace. Apparently today is the day for wasting time.”
“Are the girls okay?”
Miranda instantly negated that thought. “Of course they are.”
“So what's got you so...”
Nigel temporized, “I would have said 'out of sorts.'”
“It's nothing.” Miranda ruthlessly clamped down on her emotions. “Have your people ready in fifteen minutes.”
Nigel opened his mouth to say something else then stopped himself and simply smiled. “Of course.” He left quickly to gather his team for the off-site designer's showing.
Andy applauded vigorously, careful not to drop Max off her lap as he also clapped loudly. They both cheered for Lexi's excellent performance and for the show in general since Lexi had been the last to display her talent.
Jill informed them, “I'm going to go backstage.”
Nodding at that, Andy wrapped a protective arm around Max's middle. “We'll be here.” She turned her attention to the boy on her lap. “Lexi did good huh?”
“Yep.” Max nodded. “She's good.”
“You gonna learn to play?” Grinning at the face Max made at that, Andy answered the question herself. “No huh?” She chuckled. “Well, maybe you'll change your mind later.” It took longer than she had anticipated, but Andy finally glimpsed Jill weaving through the crowd, Lexi in tow. “Here they come.” She stood and eased Max to his feet in time to hug Lexi. “You did a fantastic job, Sweetie.”
“Thanks, Aunt Andy.” Lexi returned the hug and stepped back to stand next to her mother. “I'm glad you liked it.”
Jill dropped her hand to Lexi's shoulder. “We aren't the only ones who liked it. Everyone did. And when your father sees the video, he will like it too.”
Lexi just nodded. “Can we go get ice cream now?” That was the standard, after-recital thing to do.
“You bet!” Andy licked her lips in anticipation. “Let's go.” She put away her phone, that had suddenly appeared in her hand, clearing the screen of Miranda's number for the thousandth time that day. She wouldn't call. Andy had promised herself that she would give Miranda the time apart that the editor had requested. Even if it killed her to do it.
Miranda was fuming. The run through had been a disaster, the new designer's showing had been dismal and now she was sitting in her silent study waiting for the Book to be delivered. Her cell phone was in her hand for all the good that did her. Neither her children nor Andrea had phoned today and at this point, she doubted that they would. She glanced at the small array of bottled spirits standing on a tray on the corner table. She thought a drink might calm her somewhat, but that was not a trap she intended on falling into. A half glass of red wine just before bed would suffice.
Closing her eyes, Miranda leaned back against the sofa cushions and sighed softly when the image of Andrea came to her, unbidden. It was simply impossible to not think about the woman. Not to remember how Andrea's full lips felt against her own. Not to recall the sensation of Andrea's large hands roaming her body. Her own hands tingled slightly at the memory of exploring Andrea's lean frame. The sound of the front door closing snapped Miranda's eyes open, but she did not say a word. She merely tracked the sounds of the Emily doing her job. The closet door opened and the dry cleaning bag rustled before the closet door was closed with a small click. There was the tiny thump of the Book being deposited on the table and then the Emily's footsteps going back the way they came. No hesitation, no dallying in Miranda's house. The front door shut solidly and Miranda was again alone. The Emily was obviously not willing to stay in the dragon's lair for any longer than necessary. Not many were.
Resigned to her lonely fate, Miranda took the Book from the table and retired to her study for the evening. It was almost a relief to focus on the dismal results the art department's day's work had produced. Detailing the changes she wanted was just the distraction Miranda needed from thoughts of Andrea and her infuriatingly silent cell phone.
Andy settled into the rhythm of running, one foot in front of the other along her favorite jogging path. She'd been coming to this park since she was a kid, although then she didn't care about running. Today she didn't really care about anything other than blanking her mind from everything. Research about Miranda online and thoughts of the phenomenal woman had kept her awake for most of the night. When she finally did doze off, dreams of Miranda made her wish she could have stayed in bed this morning. She wanted to stay in bed, but she hadn't. Instead she'd gotten up, gotten dressed and now found herself on a very familiar path but still having very unfamiliar feelings about one Miranda Priestly.
No one, male or female, had ever obsessed her as much as Miranda had managed to do. It was beginning to wear on Andy's nerves and she knew that soon she would break her promise to herself. Miranda had requested time, time to think about where they were going and if it was what they, she, really wanted. Andy knew that soon she would not be able to stay away. In fact, after the meeting later today, Andy was almost certain she would be headed back to New York. It was just too difficult to be so far from Miranda. She was concerned that Miranda wouldn't want to see her though. That would hurt. A lot. The problem was that it shouldn't. She barely knew Miranda. Andy knew that she should not be feeling this way about Miranda, not yet. Miranda was wrong, they didn't need time apart, they needed more time together. Suddenly stopping her run, Andy looked out over the soccer field and announced her final decision to the universe. “I'm going back to New York today!”
She began moving again, finishing her run and heading home to clean up before her meeting later. Andy wanted that over quickly and she hoped she wouldn't have to wait too long until a flight departed for New York.
Miranda gazed out the large windows that made up the back wall of her office. The overcast sky mirrored her mood. This morning had not started well and it seemed the day promised to be much worse as each appointment became dismal disappointments. She watched as droplets began to gather on the window, occasionally finding another to join with and continue its journey down the building. For several long moments she watched her reflection in the window seem to cry, before she turned away from the vision. “Emily.”
It took far too long for the current Emily to respond. “There you are...” For a moment Miranda forgot why she had called the woman into her office. Covering her lapse, Miranda pursed her lips. “Coffee. Now.” The terrified assistant scurried away. Before her cloying perfume had dissipated she had called out again and the current First Emily stood before her. “Cancel the rest of my day. Inform Nigel that I wish to see him, now. I expect The Book no later than ten pm. Tell Roy to be ready in fifteen minutes.” She took her seat and waved absently, dismissing the hapless assistant. “That's all.”
It took far longer than she would have liked for Nigel to appear in her office. When he did she already had her coat and purse, thanks to the current First Emily's anticipation of her needs. Her mind was whirling with thoughts of Andrea, but her voice was its normal monotone when she informed her art director, and long time colleague, “I am leaving for the day, Nigel. I am counting on you not to disappoint me.”
He straightened a little at that thought. He had known Miranda longer than anyone else in the building, besides Irv Ravitz, but even he did not ever want to disappoint their illustrious leader. “Of course.” He called upon their association to tentatively ask. “Is, everything alright?” One glance at her expression made him quickly add. “The girls?”
“They're fine. They will be back on Sunday.” Miranda sighed and offered a bit more information. “It's... personal.”
The admission stunned Nigel. Miranda Priestly, the Dragon Lady, did not do personal. He thought about it for half a second and recalled the last time Miranda had left suddenly for “personal” reasons. That had been when she had first begun her relationship with the twins' father. Nigel nodded once, accepting the pseudo-explanation without another question. Instead he looked to the future. “I'll see you tomorrow then?” Her hesitation to answer surprised him.
Somehow, Nigel wasn't sure he believed her, but he nodded as she walked out of the office. He nearly smiled when the second assistant rushed into the office offering the hot coffee in her hand to Miranda. The hapless assistant's expression was priceless as Miranda continued past her, the editor's contemptuous voice floated back to Nigel's ears, “What's that? I don't want that.”
He took advantage of Miranda's whim and took possession of the coffee himself. Hurricane Miranda had left for the day, but he still had a lot of work to do. “Let's get to work, shall we?” He nodded as they both scurried back to their desks.
Andy looked out the plane's window. The storm looked nasty, but at least they were flying above it, for the moment. She seethed that she hadn't taken an earlier flight but her father had insisted that she attend the stupid meeting. Of course she hadn't needed to be there; all she'd done was nod her agreement. Maxwell Senior's installment as a partner was a mere formality. She wasn't thrilled with it. It felt like he was being given something she'd had to work her ass off to build. But she didn't totally opposed the idea of someone else helping with the workload. Especially now that she had other places to be, she hoped. Having Maxwell at the office doing some of the work would free up a lot of her time, time she could use to see Miranda. That is, if Miranda wanted to see her. Andy had never really liked the man though, the way he treated her sister was not something that Andy had ever approved of. Jill, however, seemed perfectly happy, so Andy had always overlooked her own misgivings. But that meeting, and a few other issues unfortunately had delayed her departure for New York until today. Andy wondered if Miranda's children had returned from their trip yet and what Miranda's reaction to her return would be. This weekend had so many possibilities, Andy couldn't really think of them all, but she did try. The plane's descent and subsequent turbulence as it dove through the storm to land pulled her out of her thoughts. She didn't care how bumpy the ride was, though, all she wanted to do was see Miranda.
It was late in the day when she landed, but not so late that she believed Miranda would be home. Andy had instinctively gone to the Elias-Clarke building, but now while standing in the lobby at the security desk that plan didn't seem to be going well. First, she looked like the proverbial thing that the cat dragged in, if the cat had been out hunting in the pouring rain. Second, apparently there was a strict policy in order to get to the elevators and she needed someone to vouch for her. She couldn't call Miranda, because that would ruin the surprise and Chase wasn't even in this building. She had gone to his office on her last visit and it was several blocks away. She wasn't going to make a scene either, that wouldn't help anything. Dejected, Andy resigned to call Miranda, surprise blown. She was about to press the call button on her phone when one of the security guards gestured to her. She moved to the end of the counter. “Yes?”
“You were at the Delacorte Theater with Miranda last weekend.”
Andy narrowed her eyes at the man but nodded. “Yes? Why?”
He also nodded. “I thought I recognized you.” He smiled. “I work security for the theater on the weekends. Gets me a little extra money...” He shook off that line of conversation. “You were out with her, so I guess it's okay to tell you. She isn't here. She went home early today.”
“Oh!” Now Andy smiled at the man. “Thanks!”
He nodded. “Sure thing.”
Andy waved over her shoulder as she headed for the door.
Miranda swirled the wine in her glass around again. She had been mesmerized by the motion for quite a while now, just listening to the storm outside and watching the red liquid form a small whirlpool, time after time. She had yet to take a drink; the feel of the glass in her hand was enough, for now. The doorbell echoed through the house and Miranda sighed. She had sent the housekeeper home earlier so her options were to open the door herself, or let whoever it was stand in the rain until they gave up and went away. She opted for the second choice.
The doorbell rang again, followed shortly by loud knocking. Miranda carried her wine with her as she went to verbally flay whoever dared disturb her. Throwing open the door, Miranda opened her mouth to begin the carnage, but no sound came out. The very last person she ever expected to see was now standing, bedraggled, on her doorstep. “Andrea.”
Taking a deep breath, Miranda took a step backward and turned slightly, indicating that the visitor should enter. Licking her lips as she closed the door against the elements. Miranda raised her eyebrows. “This is a surprise.”
“I know, I'm sorry...”
“Mmm... you are also dripping all over my foyer.” Miranda gestured to the stairs. “First door on the left... there are towels in the cabinet.”
Nodding, Andy picked up her tattered carry-on bag. “Thank you.”
“I will be in my study.” Miranda pointed to the appropriate door. “We need to talk.”
“Right.” Andy sighed and began the trek up the staircase. “I won't be long.”
Miranda was sitting on a comfortable-looking overstuffed chair and seemed to be mesmerized by the wine in her glass. Andy took a moment to just memorize the sight. The woman was gorgeous in casual dark slacks and a pale gray, off the shoulder sweater. Andy could have stood in the doorway all night just watching Miranda, but after a few moments she drew up her courage and knocked lightly on the wooden door frame. “Miranda?” Blinking, Miranda looked up from her wine and seemed to have a bit of trouble pulling her thoughts together.
Miranda covered her obvious reaction, somewhat. “Oh... there you are.”
Andrea had changed from her wet jeans into a pair of soft, dry, cotton sweatpants with the word Stanford spelled out down her right leg and a matching warm dry Stanford sweater; her dark, damp, wavy hair darkening tiny dots where the ends touched the shirt. There were only bright white socks covering her feet. Miranda's heart did a double thump at how beautiful the woman was. Setting aside the glass in her hand, Miranda waved toward the sofa next to her chair. “Now that I know you won't drip all over the place, have a seat.”
Andy sat on the edge of the sofa cushion and remained silent. Now that she was here she had no idea what to say. Miranda got the ball rolling.
“Why are you here, Andrea?”
“I...” Andy exhaled softly and swallowed hard. “I had to see you.”
“Really.” Miranda's words were soft, but they had a bite to them. “It seemed you were doing quite well staying away, no phone calls, no texts...”
“I had to see you.” Andy shifted, dropping to her knees next to Miranda's chair. “It was too hard to stay away from you, Miranda.” She looked up into startled blue eyes and confessed, “I desperately missed you.”
Miranda dropped her hand to Andrea's hair, absently playing with the damp strands. “You have no idea how distracted I've been at work. One of my colleagues even called me on it and that is... well, unthinkable really.” She gently caressed Andrea's cheek with her fingertips. “I didn't tell him anything, of course, since there isn't actually anything to tell.”
“I want there to be.” Andy leaned into the touch and closed her eyes. “God, Miranda, I want there to be an us to tell people about.” Miranda's lips on hers brought her eyes wide open, before they drifted shut almost immediately as the kiss deepened. Like the first time this was an exploration of each other. Unlike the first, time they both knew that they would not stop at kissing. She stood as Miranda did, their bodies pressed together as the kiss continued. Their hands explored each others curves, their moans echoing each others.
Again, Miranda pulled away first, only this time she did not insist on stopping. With her eyes locked on Andrea's, Miranda took the younger woman's hand and whispered. “Follow me.”
Andy followed Miranda without question. Up two flights of stairs this time and into a room that Andy instantly identified as Miranda's bedroom. It was completely and utterly Miranda with tasteful furnishings that exuded luxury. If the sheets on the bed were less than six hundred thread count Andy would eat her law degree. That two-second glance was the extent of her attention to the room. The huge bed and the fact that Miranda was now climbing into it were much too pleasant to ignore. She crawled up the length of Miranda's body, pressing the older woman into the soft surface and continuing the kiss they had started what seemed like an eternity ago.
“Miranda...” Andy ran the tip of her nose along the side of Miranda's neck. Tasting the smooth skin there, Andy sighed. “I can't get enough of you.” Her actions were becoming more frantic by the second. She calmed down slightly as Miranda's laughter moved through her. Andy could not help but smile at the sheer joy the laughter released.
“We have time, Andrea.” Miranda pushed the woman back slightly to look up into her dark eyes. “We have all the time we want.”
“Impossible.” Andy fell forward, kissing Miranda's lips then moving again to explore the length of Miranda's neck. “There is not enough time in the world...”
“Mmmm...” Miranda tilted her head, providing Andrea easier access. “There's time, my darling.” She gasped as Andrea's leg slid between her own. “There's time.”
Andy finally understood what Miranda was saying. They did have time. The children were not here, she and Miranda were the only ones in the house, and she needed to slow down. The sensations coursing through her dampened slightly and she pulled away, just a bit. Taking a moment to look at Miranda, Andy swallowed hard at the sight. Miranda's hair was mussed, her blue eyes were darkened with desire and her mouth was slightly open allowing small puffs of air to escape with every moan. “I was right.” Gently tracing Miranda's face with her eyes, and fingertips, Andy exhaled softly. “You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”
“You have not seen me, yet.” Miranda leaned into Andrea's touch. “I... I find myself, concerned...”
Andy shook her head. “No need to worry.” Her hands roamed over Miranda's still-clothed curves. “I'm the one who should be worried about that.” The odd expression on Miranda's face made Andy smile. “Seriously? You see beautiful women all day long. Wondering how I compare to...”
“You don't.” Miranda reached up to hold each side of Andrea's head. “You are more beautiful than all of them put together.”
Giving in to the pressure, Andy felt Miranda's lips capture hers. She groaned into the kiss. “You're amazing, Miranda.”
“Mmmm...” It was Miranda's turn to explore Andrea's neck. “So they tell me.”
“Oh they do, do they?” Andy shivered as a very soft tongue encountered a particularly sensitive area.
Miranda allowed a stab of satisfaction roll through her. Being able to cause Andrea's body to react from such a small action was amazing. “But I am already in your bed, so I tend to believe you more than the others.”
“Point of clarification. I am in your bed, Miranda.”
“No lawyer speak.” Miranda tugged at Andrea's sweater. “I am not commenting on your outfit, now am I?” Her grin echoed Andrea's smile. “However, I will say that I think it would look much better in a pile on the floor.”
Andy laughed and leaned in to whisper in Miranda's ear. “Yours too.”
Miranda pushed Andrea back and sat up. “Help me.”
Gladly assisting Miranda by pushing the soft sweater up and over her head, Andy dropped the top over the edge of the bed. She tossed her own sweater near it a second later. In less time than it took to strip the fabric away, Andy pressed Miranda back and slid against the older woman. So much skin on skin contact drew renewed moans from them both.
Miranda arched into Andy's lips on her stomach. Smiling against the smoothness, Andy's hands filled the space created under Miranda's back and quickly undid the fastener on Miranda's bra. Pulling the lacy fabric away, Andy wasted no time exploring the newly exposed area.
“Oh... Dear God...” Miranda held Andrea's head to her breast as the younger woman's tongue laved the puckered flesh. “Andrea!” Suddenly releasing her hold, Miranda's arms went limp to her sides.
Abandoning her task for the moment, Andy looked up. “Did you just...”
There was a mixture of embarrassment and sadness in Miranda's eyes. “I'm sorry.”
“No...” Andy smiled and kissed away a tear that escaped from the corner of Miranda's eye. “Don't apologize. You're amazing.”
“Shhh...” Andy shook her head. “I'm glad you feel so strongly about me, about us.”
“It's not fair, to you.” Miranda played with a long strand of hair. “You deserve more.”
One dark eyebrow rose. “Are we stopping?” Andy grinned at the shock on Miranda's face and reached down to unbutton Miranda's slacks. “I think slowing down might be a good idea, but stopping?” She eased the pants down Miranda's helpfully shifting body. “I don't think I want to stop for quite some time.” A wicked gleam appeared in Andy's dark eyes. “Is that acceptable?”
Miranda only nodded.
Miranda's mind was whirling. In some far off way she realized that Andrea was removing her clothing. In a haze of sensation she realized that Andrea's soft lips were again brushing her ribs. She gasped as Andrea moved lower and then lips were replaced by soft fingertips tracing just below her navel. There were no stretch marks, she had made sure of that with the meticulous and judicious application of creams during her pregnancy. Blinking, Miranda looked down the length of her body and knew what Andrea had found. The scar.
Andy looked up to meet Miranda's eyes. “The twins?”
“One of them.” Miranda spoke softly. “Cassidy was stubborn.” She lay back on the bed and closed her eyes as Andy kissed the, somewhat jagged, thin white scar. It was a tiny imperfection, one her husbands and previous lovers had often avoided. For Andrea to so studiously not avoid it was more than refreshing. It was exhilarating.
Energy renewed, Miranda shifted. It was her turn to press their naked bodies together, her turn to make Andrea moan and writhe under her. Miranda reveled in the power of it. She smiled down at the beautiful young woman under her. Oh yes, it was her turn now.
There was a moment's hesitation when Miranda realized that she had no clue what she was doing but the dynamic was familiar. The difference in her partner didn't deter her for long. Driven by desire and her knowledge that she was a very fast study, Miranda forged ahead. She started with the things she liked and mimicked Andrea's earlier motions. The efforts seemed to pay off.
“Miranda...” Andy arched into Miranda's touch. “Oh Fuck!”
Miranda took it as a good sign that after Andrea's profanity-laced outburst the young woman was reduced to incoherent mumbles and intermittent moans. When her hand found the copious moisture between Andrea's legs, gasps were added to the array of sounds the woman was making.
As mesmerized as Miranda had been by the liquid in her glass earlier she was twice as focused on the motions in Andrea's neck; every sound, every swallow, every small jump of muscle and flutter of pulse. It was quiet now, only their labored breathing and the shifting friction of their skin on the sheets and each other breaking the silence. Andrea's eyes were closed, but Miranda desperately wanted them to open. She wanted to look into Andrea's eyes, to see what the young woman was feeling. Stopping her hand, Miranda whispered, “Look at me.”
Andrea's eyes snapped open then almost closed again as Miranda resumed her motion. She had chosen a languorous rhythm before but now Miranda increased the tempo and loved the way Andrea's body arched against her. The young woman's hips began to match the motion and before she was quite ready for it, Andrea collapsed back on the bed, groaning. Grinning, Miranda continued her exploration until Andrea found the strength to take Miranda's hand in her own.
“Stop! You'll kill me.”
Miranda grinned and shifted to lay next to the exhausted woman. “Are we stopping?” She threw the words back at her lover. “I think slowing down might be a good idea, but stopping?”
Andy groaned again. “Dear God, what have I gotten myself into?”
“Oh Andrea.” Miranda's low chuckle filled Andrea's ear. “Your God can't help you now...”
It was heaven though. Andy began to float on the sensations Miranda was causing. Miranda's body against hers was incredible, indescribable and now that the initial surge of lust was out of the way, Andy took a deep breath identifying the current tone of the touches, businesslike. She heard a small, almost resigned, sigh from Miranda and opened her eyes to see the woman above her. Miranda was amazing, hovering over her, dominating her, just like anyone who knew the editor's reputation would expect. But the reputation was just people's perception of Miranda, a perception based on her professional actions, not her personal feelings. Andy knew differently. She slowly stopped, Miranda's explorations. There was a confused look on Miranda's face that Andy soothed away. “No worries, it's just... my turn.”
Shifting them around, Andy again pressed Miranda back into the soft mattress. She felt Miranda tense and gently kissed her. “They always wanted you to dominate them, didn't they... or did they try to force you into submission?” Andy watched the wary blue eyes narrow. “I'm not like that, Miranda. You don't have to always take the lead. You don't have to be the dominatrix everyone expects you to be, not with me.” Andy traced the curves of Miranda's body with her fingertips, palms, lips, and tongue. “You're a beautiful woman, brilliant, and strong. You wouldn't let them have any power over you, would you?” Andy watched Miranda swallow hard and continued. “They fucked you, but they never really touched you, did they, Miranda...You never let them see the real you, did you?” Andy's hand found the wetness between Miranda's legs and Miranda whimpered. Andy kissed Miranda's earlobe and whispered. “Will you let me? Do you trust me?”
“Yes!” Miranda undulated against Andrea's hand. “Yes...”
“Look at me.” Andy smiled when Miranda's eyes snapped to her. “Keep your eyes on me.” It didn't take much pressure for Andy's fingers to slide through the moisture. It was all she could to to keep her eyes open. She wanted to close them to savor the feeling of being inside the moaning woman under her. She also wanted to keep them open, to see Miranda in the throes of passion. That sight alone pushed her to the edge, but she didn't go over. She held on and set the rhythm for Miranda. Matching her thrusts with Miranda's motions, faster, harder. Andy reveled in the glorious sensation, the feeling that there was nothing but just the two of them for what seemed like forever. When she curled her fingers slightly and increased the tempo, Miranda gasped and began to writhe under her. A thin sheen of perspiration covered them both and Andy loved the taste of it on Miranda's skin; loved it when Miranda tasted her. Miranda suddenly arched and cried out. The sound of it pushed Andy over the edge she'd been skirting and they spent an eternal moment together, falling into ecstasy.
Andy collapsed onto Miranda before slowly shifting to her side. She regretted it, but still removed her hand from its warm resting place. Never taking her eyes off the gasping woman. She caught her breath and spoke quietly, “You're amazing.”
Lifting a trembling hand, Miranda held it between them before letting it fall back to her side. She shook her head. “You... that...” She swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “I have never...felt...”
“Yeah.” Andy snuggled in. “Like I said. Amazing.”
“Was it?” Miranda sounded surprised. “Even for you?”
Andy chuckled to cover the hurt that question caused but couldn't quite cover the sarcasm in her voice. “Because I'm such a slut...”
“No!” Miranda shook her head. “I didn't mean it like that.” She sighed and studied the ceiling intently. “You have at least had the experience before.”
“Not like this.”
Turning to look at her lover, Miranda blinked. “Like this?”
“This...” Placing her hand on Miranda's chest, Andy whispered, “this connection.”
“So you feel it too?”
The awe, mixed with the tiniest bit of insecurity, in Miranda's voice stirred Andy to move her hand in small circles over Miranda's heart. “I felt it, from the very first moment I saw you. It's why I approached you that night at the restaurant. It's why I couldn't stay away.”
“I don't want to hide... us. It is none of their business, but the press will have a field day.” Miranda pulled Andrea close. “Will that be a problem for you?”
“Are you kidding?” Andy laughed softly. “I'm going to need all the publicity I can get, if I'm going to get the New York offices of Sachs and Sachs off the ground.” She grinned. “Not that I want too many clients. I need to have time for my girlfriend too.”
“There are also my daughters to consider.” Miranda sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “They will be back on Sunday. How am I going to explain this to them?”
“Can you?” Andy's eyebrows raised when Miranda turned to glare at her. “I mean, really... can you explain this? Because I really can't. It's just there,” she put her hand on her chest. “Here. No explanation, it just... is.”
Nodding, Miranda took Andrea's hand and kissed the backs of her fingers. “It will be difficult to articulate.”
“Hey.” Andy squeezed the hand in hers. “We can wait, if you want. I mean, I don't like sneaking around, but if you want us to date more... before you speak with them...I want you to be sure...”
“Shhh...” Miranda smiled. “Thank you, but I am sure about us. The 'connection' makes that decision simple. It only becomes complicated when trying to make someone else understand it.”
The Andy bit the tip of her tongue and smiled. “Well, you could tell them the truth.”
“Mmm.. I don't believe telling them how a suave woman hit on me at a restaurant and how I found myself in her bed with her so easily is such a good idea.”
“Stephen and I were romantically linked for a year before I slept with him.” Miranda laughed at a joke only she could hear. “I should have known then that it wouldn't work with him.” She noticed that Andrea had gone very still as the words sank in. “Andrea?”
Andy could feel her stomach trembling. “A year?”
“Mmm...” Miranda made a slight scoffing noise. “So you see, this,” she indicated them and their current location, “is very out of character for me.”
“But, a year...”
“Yes! A year... can we get past that please?”
“I'm sorry, Miranda but it was all I could do to stay away from you for these few days!” She laughed. “There is no way I'd be able to last a year.” She exhaled softly and shook it off. Snuggling closer, she asked, “So, what are you going to tell your girls?”
“I don't know.” Miranda closed her eyes. “We will figure it out.”
“Okay.” Andy too closed her eyes. It was odd. She didn't usually actually sleep with people, but somehow Miranda's presence comforted her. She drifted off with a smile on her face, knowing that when she woke up, Miranda would be there.
Miranda woke and was disappointed that the bed next to her was empty. There was a fleeting moment when she thought that Andrea may have already left. No one stayed longer than necessary, did they? With a sigh, Miranda put on her robe and headed downstairs to start her coffee. An unfamiliar noise reached her ears as she drew closer to the kitchen.
Andy hummed quietly as she leaned back against the counter and went about the business of whisking the eggs.
Turning her head, Andy smiled at the sight of Miranda leaning against the doorway. “Good morning to you.” Indicating the bowl she'd been working on, she asked. “Omelet?”
“Sounds delicious. Thank you and...” Miranda took a seat at the breakfast counter. “Thank you, for staying.”
Andy's hand hesitated for a moment as she turned her large dark eyes on her lover. “There isn't anywhere else I want to be.”
Miranda gave the young woman a small smile and nodded, content to watch a sweatsuit-clad Andrea moving around the kitchen while she prepared the meal. She could not help thinking about how extremely normal it seemed. Paradoxically, feeling that way was extremely odd. She had never been comfortable with people in her house, certainly not her husbands. Even the housekeeper, who had worked for her for years was only here on weekdays. Miranda was seldom here then anyway, so the housekeeper situation only bothered her for about an hour or so in the evenings and she was not here on weekends giving Miranda some peace when the girls were away, and quality time with the girls when they were here. This comfort when what amounted to a stranger was in the house was a sign that confirmed what Miranda had begun to suspect. She was going crazy.
Suddenly, Andrea's lips were on hers and she didn't care if she was going crazy or not. Turning in her seat, Miranda pressed herself into Andrea's warm, solid form. Losing herself in the the kiss, Miranda moaned softly and pulled Andrea closer. She was definitely going crazy. When she was able to speak, Miranda asked, “What was that for?”
“Good morning isn't enough?” Andy searched Miranda's face intently. “You seemed to be a million miles away. I wanted you to come back.” Laying her wrists on Miranda's shoulders, Andy asked, “Where'd ya go?”
“I was thinking about you, if that counts?”
“It does.” Andy smiled and gave Miranda a quick peck on the lips. “Hungry?”
Miranda smirked. “Yes.”
“Good.” Andy walked back around the island counter and poured the egg mixture into a hot pan on the stove.
“I'm not so sure it is food I'm hungry for.” Miranda's eyes followed Andrea's movements with the intensity of a predatory cat.
Dark eyes looked up from watching the eggs cook and Andy smiled. “We can take care of that later. Right now... food.”
Miranda slowly woke from an amazingly restful sleep and rolled in the bed, smiling as Andrea's warm embrace surrounded her. This weekend had been the best she could remember, ever. Unfortunately, even though light was only just beginning to filter through the curtains, their time together would soon be over. The girls were scheduled to return from their trip this evening. Andrea's soft lips pressed against the back of her neck and the young attorney's sleepy voice rumbled through her.
“Time for me to go?”
“I wish it were not so, but the girls will be back this evening.” Miranda held the arms around her for a moment. “When will I see you again?”
“As soon as you want.” Andy shifted to rest her head on one hand while the other drew small circles on Miranda's stomach. “I'll find a hotel for a while, but I intend on getting an apartment as soon as I can find a suitable one.”
“You're moving to New York?” Miranda had heard Andrea's plans to open a legal office here, but had just dismissed it as a sort of fantasy scenario. “You were serious?”
“Would you rather I continue to visit on the weekends the girls aren't here? I'll just go out the back door when they come in the front?” The smile Andy had didn't quite take the sting out of her words for Miranda.
“Must you make it sound so...”
Andy filled in the word. “Dirty?”
Miranda shook her head, denying that adjective and supplied one of her own, “Sordid.”
Andy chuckled and murmured, “Ain't it a bitch...”
“Excuse me?” Miranda rarely missed hearing that word. It was used in her presence, on the edge of her presence, quite often.
“Lyrics...” She sang softly, “Ain't it a bitch, sorting out our sordid lives.” Andy kissed Miranda's shoulder. “It's the theme song to a TV show I liked.”
“Ah...” Miranda shook her head. “I do not watch much television.” She didn't have time to watch entire shows and they were filmed so far in advance that fashion trends that they displayed were already well on their way out by the time the episodes aired. Other than the predictable cyclic trends, Miranda rarely wasted time looking backward into the fashion world. “The girls watch some.”
“Why does that not surprise me?” Andy drew little circles on Miranda's skin. “You probably read a novel a week though, right? One of those poorly written paperbacks with the half-naked woman on the cover...” Grinning at the light blush coloring Miranda's cheeks, Andy stretched up to steal a quick kiss from Miranda's lips. “And no one would ever suspect that would they?”
“How is it that you have come to this conclusion?” Miranda watched her lover's cheeks color slightly. “Snooping?”
Andy giggled as Miranda tickled her. “I was looking for an outlet, to charge my phone. Your stash of trashy romance novels is behind your nightstand.” She grabbed Miranda's hands. “Stop... stop..”
Miranda laughed and stopped the assault, slowing her movement until the touch that had been playful became sensual. “I have never interacted with anyone in this way. You are so...”
“...different.” Miranda traced Andrea's lovely lips. “I am different, when I'm with you.”
“Is that good?”
Miranda kissed the luscious lips and nodded. “Yes, I believe it is a very good thing.”
“Mmmm...” Andy nibbled on Miranda's earlobe and whispered. “Let's see what other very good things we can discover.”
Humming her acceptance of that mission, Miranda leaned into the soft kisses and lost herself in Andrea's touch.
What sounded like a door slamming shut roused Miranda from a very peaceful sleep. Andrea's arm, seemingly automatically, shifted to soothe her. Tension drained from her only to return as loud footsteps and voices could be heard from the stairs.
“Mom!? Where are you?”
A quick glance at the clock showed it to be just after noon. “What on Earth?”
Scrambling out of the bed, Miranda threw on her robe and exited the room, leaving Andrea propped up on her elbows in the bed, watching her go.
Alone in the room, Andy dropped back to the mattress and sighed. “So much for waiting.” She wondered how Miranda was going to handle the situation and realized it would probably be much easier for Miranda to explain things to the girls if she didn't have a naked woman in her bed.
Miranda hurried down the hall toward the girls' rooms. Voices were coming from Cassidy's room.
“Bobbseys??” Miranda clutched the robe around her, holding it closed. “What happened? You weren't due back until this evening.”
Cassidy dropped her bag on her bed. “Nice to see you too, Mom.”
Caroline laughed. “Yeah, Mom, don't hurt yourself with excitement. Dad discovered a new talent and holed up in the recording studio. We took the plane back early.”
“You should have called.” Miranda couldn't control the annoyance in her tone. “I would have met you at the airport or at least sent Roy.”
Cassidy rolled her eyes. “We aren't babies, Mom.”
Caroline shrugged. “We just took a cab home.” The oldest twin's forehead wrinkled. “Are you sick?”
“What?” Miranda shook her head and pulled her robe tighter around her. “No. Why would you ask that?”
Now Cassidy looked worried too. “Because, it's after noon and you're still in your robe.”
“Nonsense.” Waving that off, Miranda just tied her robe securely and opened her arms. “Now come and give me a hug.” She sighed when her daughter's tanned arms wrapped around her. “I have missed you.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, Miranda patted the spaces next to her. “Tell me all about your trip.”
“Mom.” Caroline sat, but shook her head. “What's going on with you?”
Miranda looked into her daughter's eyes for a long moment then sighed. “Let me go get dressed. Meet me in my study. I have something to tell you.” She was well aware of the looks her children exchanged as she left the room and was not surprised at the spurt of conversation between them. It was surprising that they used their own special twin language, though. To her knowledge, they had not done that for quite some time. Normally it was reserved for stressful situations, the last time being when she was going through the divorce with Stephen. They were obviously worried about her and she needed to resolve that as soon as possible.
Entering her own room, Miranda stopped short at the sight of the perfectly made bed. A glance around the room showed everything in place. The sound of water running in the master bathroom drew her attention but she ignored it for the moment moving instead to her closet. Quickly choosing a pair of slacks and an off the shoulder sweater, Miranda wished it wasn't so easy to pick an outfit. She needed time to think about what she was going to say to the girls.
“My God, you're sexy.”
Miranda blinked, looking up to see Andrea leaning against the closet door frame. She had gotten dressed and cleaned up, in addition to straightening the room. The top three buttons on Andrea's shirt were undone, giving her a very roguish quality. “You are quite sexy yourself.” Moving to meet the younger woman, Miranda marveled at her need to touch Andrea. Her hands slid of their own accord around the attorney's waist. “But I must speak to the girls.”
“You want me to sneak out while you have them distracted?”
“No.” Miranda was uncertain about many things, but there was one thing she knew for sure. “I do not want to hide from the girls.” Taking a step back, Miranda held out her hand. “Come with me?”
“You're sure?” Andy hesitated until Miranda nodded, then she tangled her fingers with Miranda's. “Okay.”
Caroline and Cassidy sat in Miranda's study, Caroline's knee shaking, Cassidy's hands wringing. Caroline broke the silence between them.
“What do you think is wrong?”
“I dunno.” Cassidy swallowed hard. “You think Mom's sick?”
“I dunno.” Caroline ran her fingers through her hair. “She would tell us, if she was sick, wouldn't she?”
They both looked up when Miranda's voice floated through the room. “I certainly would.” Leaning against the door frame for a moment, Miranda looked at her nervous daughters and sighed. “I am perfectly healthy, but there has been a change in my life.” Holding her hand out, she pulled Andrea from her hiding place in the hall. “I want you to meet someone.”
Caroline narrowed her eyes at the woman holding her mother's hand. “Who's that?”
“Girls...” Miranda pulled Andrea a bit closer to her. “This is Andrea Sachs. She's...she's a friend..” Miranda exchanged a look with Andrea and smiled a tiny smile. “...more than a friend.”
“More than...” Cassidy's eyes widened. “Holy shit! You're together?!”
“Language!” Miranda took a deep calming breath even as she glared at her daughter. “Yes, we are...together.”
“Well.” Caroline studied the woman next to her mother carefully. “You're not a model... so what's your game?”
“C'mon, Mom!” Caroline's glare remained on Andy. “Everyone always wants something from Mom, so what do you want?”
Andy shook her head and tightened her hold on Miranda's hand. “Nothing.”
“Seriously!” Caroline insisted. “What is it? Money? Fame? Glamour? What?”
“I have my own money, I have no interest in fame and, unless I'm going out to some event, I'm about as far from glamorous as you can get.” Releasing her hand from Miranda's, Andy moved closer to the girls. She sat on the edge of a chair angled to face the couch. Leaning forward, she rested her elbows on her knees. She softened her voice as she would when trying to explain something to Lexi or Max. “Look, I know that when you look at your mom all you see is, well, your mom. But when I look at her,” Andy glanced over her shoulder at Miranda, still standing by the door and smiled, “I see a beautiful woman that I want to get to know better.”
Cassidy looked at Andy. She chewed her bottom lip for a moment then spoke, “You really like her.”
“Yes. I do,” Andy confirmed. “I like her a lot.”
Miranda moved up and sat on the arm of the chair Andy occupied. “I am quite fond of Andrea as well.” She ran her fingers through the younger woman's dark hair. “We will be spending a lot of time together and I wanted you to know the nature of our relationship before the tabloids decide the rest of the world needs to know.”
“So... you're just gonna...”
“We will conduct our relationship as any other couple would.” Miranda was firm on that point. “We will go out to dinner... possibly dance. We will attend events together if our schedules permit. I will not hide, but I will not go out of my way to... flaunt my personal life to the press.”
Caroline picked up on a word. “Schedules?” She turned to Andy. “What do you do?”
“I'm an attorney.” She smiled. “I will be opening an office here in New York, but that will take some time, and work. So,” she agreed with Miranda's statement, “there will be times when it will be impossible to attend functions together.”
“Are you moving in here?”
“No, Cassidy.” Andy grinned. “I'll find my own apartment, somewhere.”
“New York real estate is pricey.” Caroline again narrowed her eyes. “You sure you can afford it?”
Chuckling softly at that, Andy nodded. “Yes. As I said, I have my own money.” She saw the skeptical look on both the girls' faces and summed up her financial situation. “I inherited a great deal from my grandparents and I do okay as an attorney.” A bit of twinkle showed in her eyes. “You guys wanna help me look for a place? I'll need an office as well as an apartment.” The immediate brightening of both young faces made Andy smile.
Miranda raised her eyebrows in surprise. “So, you don't want my advice on the matter?”
Laughing at that, Andy snaked her arm around Miranda's waist and pulled her down into the chair. Her smile widened when Miranda shrieked then laughed at the surprise move. “Of course I want your opinion, but you don't have to do all the leg work... we'll figure out a few places and then you can look over the ones that make the cut.” She looked over at the girls. “Right girls?”
As if stunned to see their mother so playful with anyone, both girls simply nodded agreement.
Andy knew she hadn't really won them over yet, but this was a good start. Laying her head on Miranda's shoulder she tightened her hold around Miranda's waist and smiled. A very good start.
I can't say that I won't revisit these two, but it won't be in the near future. For now let's just say that they're going to live happily ever after. M'kay? :)
This story was originally posted online on July 11th, 2013