Chapter 1: And So It Begins
And So It Begins
Hurrying down the street, Andy tries not to think about the fact that the wind chill is ten degrees below zero, or that her last interview of the day isn’t for three more hours, or that she is furtively looking around hoping to catch a glimpse of—no. She won’t think the name. She won’t.
Andy may not be able to control her dreams, but she can damn well control her wayward thoughts. It’s been six fucking years, after all! When will these feelings fade? When will she be able to move on? When will she be able to walk down a New York street without hoping to somehow see—her?
So caught up in her thoughts, she nearly misses noting that she’s striding by the Elias-Clarke building. Nearly. She can never pretend even to herself to be entirely oblivious to her surroundings, not whenever she is near here. Even as she navigates with head down and body huddled, Andy finds herself searching with her peripheral vision for a known face.
She finds one.
“Six!” Nigel exclaims as he grabs her arm.
Andy’s head shoots up in surprise. “Nigel!” she responds as she is hauled close for a bear hug. She feels a wave of affection flow through her.
They had kept in touch when she’d left Runway, at first. But as time passed and deadlines dogged their heels, they had drifted away from each other. Nowadays, they exchange emails every so often. They haven’t seen each other in about a year, though, and Andy feels guilt settle in her gut knowing she could have done more to keep their friendship alive.
“We have to catch up. Dinner tonight? Say eight o’clock at that new Italian bistro on 47th and 7th?”
Andy quickly agrees, silently vowing to not allow their relationship to wane again. As she walks away, Andy swears she is being watched. The prickling sensation up her spine tells her so. She does not look back.
Chapter 2: The Beginning of the Rest of Her Life
The Beginning of the Rest of Her Life
Bella Luna 8:00 p.m.
After getting settled, Nigel begins to update Andy on the happenings at Runway without prompting. Andy is grateful. She always wants to know how everyone is, even if she’d rather not ask directly.
“We have been working nonstop to finish the Spring issue spread. We’re showing an up-and-comer, Sig Sassy, for his bold designs—bright colors, flowing, asymmetrical cuts—you’d look good in them, actually. Maybe I can lift a few from the Closet for you. Are you still a four?” Nigel asks as he sizes up Andy’s form with a critical eye.
Andy doesn’t mind. She kind of misses the perusal from those in fashion. From a pair of ice-blue eyes, in particular.
“Yup. Still a four. What did you say the designer’s name is?” Andy answers distractedly. The downside of spending time with Nigel and receiving information about the machinations around the magazine is that her thoughts focus on one person to the exclusion of all others. It’s also the best part about their conversations.
“Sig Sassy. About three months ago, he demanded an audience with La Priestly. Luckily for him, his designs are good enough to excuse his arrogance.”
Andy feels shock rush through her system. “Sig Sassy? Did you say Sig Sassy? Shit!” Andy exclaims. She leans forward urgently. “Nigel, you can’t run that spread. It will ruin the magazine—”
“Slow down, Andy. What are you talking about?” Nigel interjects, alarmed by Andy’s reaction.
Andy is alarmed, too. What are the chances that the one designer she has been investigating for more than five months is about to be showcased in Runway? Pretty good, evidently.
Andy takes a deep breath and exhales slowly to calm herself. “Nigel. He’s a fraud. He ripped off all his so-called creations from a relatively unknown South African designer named Natalee Smith. He was showing his pieces in Milan six months ago, and it sounded so suspicious. I mean, he came out of nowhere.” Andy continues to methodically relate her research to an appalled Nigel. “I’ve been investigating him for months. If I’d known he’d gotten to Runway—” Andy shrugs. “The story is going to print on Friday.”
“Jesus,” Nigel exhales.
“You have got to stop the spread,” Andy says. “I can send you the article if it will help.”
Nigel takes an inelegant gulp of his martini and leans back against his chair. “You have to send the article directly to Miranda. Today.”
Andy feels lightheaded at the thought and begins to shake her head emphatically. “No way. No way. I won’t do it. It has to come from you, Nigel.”
“Andy. Come on. You’re overreacting here. You need to send it to her,” Nigel implores.
“Nope. No can do. Not gonna happen. I haven’t spoken to that woman in six years. What do you suppose she’s going to think if she gets an email from me out of the blue like this?” Andy asks before finishing off her drink. “I’ll tell you. She’ll wonder just what the hell I’m up to. She’ll immediately believe that I am trying to sabotage her in some way.” Andy waves her hands around as agitation gets the better of her.
“That’s not true. You’re a respected investigative journalist. You’ve made quite a name for yourself in a relatively short period of time. She’ll know it’s legitimate.” Nigel continues attempting to persuade Andy, but she resists.
Any time Andy has run across information that might help Runway, might help Miranda, Andy has passed it on to Nigel. She’s never had to contact the editor-in-chief directly. She doesn’t want to start now.
“All right, how about this?” Nigel cajoles. “Send it to Miranda and to me. I’ll mention that we had dinner, and this came out. She’d believe you anyway, but I’ll emphasize how you’ve been investigating this story for months.”
“But then she’ll know my email address,” Andy whines. “And she’ll know I’ve been feeding you information.”
Nigel smirks. “So? I probably should have told her a long time ago where I’ve been my getting information.” Andy watches the smile fade on Nigel’s face as he becomes serious. “Come on, Six. Just do it. There’s too little time for me to pretend I just stumbled upon the information.” A twinkle in the art director’s eyes warns Andy that she is about to be teased. “Besides, what do you think is going to happen? She’ll start spamming you?”
They stare at each other. Andy throws a wadded napkin at him. “Fine, you bastard. I’m so glad we bumped into each other,” she mutters, mentally stomping her foot even as she capitulates.
“Me, too,” Nigel singsongs as he waves the server over to order another round of drinks.
Recognizing that this is probably the best course of action does not calm her. The thought of contacting Miranda for any reason whatsoever scares the shit out of her. It doesn’t matter that it’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter that Andy’s desire to help Miranda outweighs her fears. She’s still afraid, and no amount of calm, rational thinking can wipe that away. Nevertheless, she has agreed, and Andy intends to follow through.
Two hours later Andy sits in her apartment staring at the computer screen. She has written a simple email and attached the article.
Attached is an article the Mirror will be publishing on Friday. Hopefully this will reach you in enough time to help. Although I cannot divulge my sources, I am glad to share my research if needed. I suspect you will find the perfect way to reward Sig for all his hard work.
Hitting the “send now” button, Andy closes her eyes in relief. Who knew sending Miranda an email would be more labor-intensive than the research she’s conducted over countless hours to reveal Sassy’s duplicity?
It’s done now. Miranda may be reading the article at this moment. She may be contacting Nigel to find out what he knows. He may be relating their dinner and Andy’s response to the Spring spread. Andy has no problem imagining various scenarios unfolding. She has no problem visualizing Miranda’s outrage and condemnation for a fraudulent designer and a cowardly ex-assistant.
For several months after she had walked away from Runway, from Miranda, Andy had taken pains to watch Miranda walking in or out of Elias-Clarke. She also had perused the newspapers, magazines, websites, and television for the chance to see her. Yet, seeing Miranda had made Andy feel worse. The reality of no longer having the right to interact with her had ripped Andy’s heart to shreds.
So Andy had reacted in an extreme fashion: she began to turn to the next page, click to another website, and change the channel whenever she saw Miranda. Andy realized that she was overreacting. However, she no longer allowed herself the privilege of staring at Miranda. It was too painful. Over the years, Andy has become quite good at denying herself the pleasure of even thinking about Miranda for longer than a conversation.
If she were honest, Andy must admit that a large reason why she has allowed her relationship with Nigel to fade is due to Andy’s inability to control the hunger she feels when news about Miranda enters their conversations. After all these years, Andy must admit defeat in blocking her heart’s campaign to be heard. Banning Miranda from her thoughts, from her sight, has not helped Andy to move on. It has only made her ache for Miranda’s presence even more.
The truth is that forbidding herself permission to think of Miranda is akin to telling herself to stop eating. She just becomes weaker and weaker the longer she denies herself.
Of course, giving herself permission to think of Miranda doesn’t mean she’ll run into Miranda’s office to stare at the woman. However, perhaps Andy doesn’t need to take such pains to avoid her, either.
A few days after sending Miranda the article, Nigel calls Andy to update her. As anticipated, all hell has broken loose. Miranda has been on a rampage. She’s pulled the spread, and they have been working around the clock to replace it.
Andy feels proud of her role in stepping up to the dragon’s cave to wield her trusty sword, although instead of trying to vanquish the dragon, Andy has sought to protect her. After all, Andy knows that she has no chance to capture the Dragon Lady. More’s the pity.
Serendipity has allowed her to reenter Miranda’s world, if only in this small way. Even though Andy has helped Miranda for years, her former employer has never known. This time she does.
After the Spring issue goes to print, Andy will contact Nigel to schedule another dinner or at least drinks. No longer will she shy away from everyone and everything associated with Miranda. She hasn’t moved on because she hasn’t allowed herself to deal with these feelings. It’s time for Andy to grow up. Perhaps if she examines her feelings, if she stares down her heart directly and sternly admonishes it for its unrealistic dreams, she’ll be able to deal with the fact that she will never become a part of Miranda’s life.
It’s worth a try.
Chapter 3: Special Delivery
Hearing her telephone ring, Andy eyes it curiously. “This is Andy,” she answers.
“You have a package up front,” Andy hears.
Hopping up from her seat, Andy strolls from the bullpen to the front of the building. She can use the excuse to stretch her legs. Since the Sassy exposé two weeks ago, she has received several lucrative leads on other stories. Fashion-related stories. As if, by breaking this story, she has earned the trust of those in the know. Consequently, Andy has been working hard to follow up on the unexpected abundance of tips in addition to her assigned articles. The irony does not escape her. Her career has completed a cycle, beginning and ending in fashion.
Of course she has changed. She is very different than the idealistic, naïve assistant of six years ago. Still, Andy feels as if she owes her career to Miranda with her baptism through fire, that indoctrination to the fashion world while Miranda was her taskmaster, and then her job at the Mirror.
And now this. In a startling departure from Miranda’s normal behavior, Miranda wrote a letter to the editor condemning Sig Sassy and lauding Andy’s article. That endorsement has served as a green light for everyone else within the industry to trust Andy. She understands this is Miranda’s way of thanking her for the warning. She has no doubt that Miranda knew exactly what she was doing, knew that her praise would help Andy professionally. And it has.
Not that this is her first byline. Andy has worked her way up over the years, getting printed on the front page of the local section several times and moving increasingly closer toward the front page. However, the Sassy exposé was her first A-1 front page story. It feels good. More than good.
In addition, Andy has received tips over the years which she’s forwarded to Nigel. Andy has always kept an ear to the ground when it comes to fashion. She does what she can to help Miranda, choosing not to dwell on why.
With Miranda’s endorsement, though, it’s become that much easier to look out for her. Not that Miranda needs anyone to help her. The truth is Andy feels compelled to do something, anything, to remain connected with Miranda. Up until the Sassy article, Andy had worked behind the scenes. Andy wonders whether Miranda will feel any differently toward her now that she knows Andy is feeding information to Nigel.
Rolling her shoulders as she rounds the corner, Andy stops in front of a large box with her name on it. At her questioning look, she is told that a messenger delivered it. Shrugging, Andy hefts the box back to her desk while trying to guess what it is.
Taking a pair of scissors, Andy uses one of the blades to slide over the packing tape covering the seam of the box. Pulling the tape off, Andy opens the box to find a wrapped package inside. Carefully removing the gold cloth paper, Andy gasps at what she sees: a deep blood-colored leather computer case with her initials embossed on the front. With shaking fingers, Andy lifts it from the box and unzips it slowly. Inside sits a top-of-the-line laptop.
Sinking into her chair, Andy reverently removes the computer and plugs it in. Booting the system, she immediately realizes that it has been loaded with helpful computer software. She lets out a low whistle. Icons for Macromedia Dreamweaver, Microsoft Office, Kaspersky Internet Security, and many other programs litter the desktop screen. Andy laughs, overjoyed by this unexpected boon. Leaning back in her chair, she sits stunned, just staring at the computer.
Realizing she has been mooning over this gift in a relatively public area for much too long, Andy looks around furtively. Andy’s desk is one of sixteen in a large, open room. Televisions blare various news stations, telephones jangle incessantly, and privacy is at a premium. Normally, Andy is able to tune out the surrounding din, relegating it to background noise while she works.
“You buy a new laptop, Andy?” jogs Andy out of her thoughts. Turning her head, she sees Colleen looking with interest at the computer. “Wow!” Colleen exclaims in appreciation. “That’s the newest version, isn’t it?”
Andy thinks furiously about how to ward off this unwanted interest. “Yup. My parents gave it to me as an early Christmas present. I’ve been complaining about how slow mine is.”
“Oh. Well, they did a great job picking it out. I wish I had one of those,” Colleen continues as she leans against the desk. “Aren’t you going home for the holidays?”
“Uh, no. I was supposed to, but money’s tight. I’ve decided to stay in the city. How ‘bout you?” Inside Andy’s mind is screaming to get rid of the curious reporter, but she doesn’t want to act suspiciously.
“Going to Maui with Troy. We leave next week. I can hardly concentrate knowing that soon we’ll be lying in the sun with piña coladas in our hands.” Colleen gets a dreamy look on her face. Andy grins.
“Sounds great. If you need help finishing any of your articles, let me know. Can’t have you stressing right before your trip,” Andy offers.
“Thanks, Andy. You’re the best.” Colleen straightens up.
Once Colleen leaves, Andy refocuses on the laptop screen. Finally noticing a Runway icon, Andy clicks on the shortcut. “Oh. My. God.”
Andy looks around quickly to see whether anyone heard her outburst. She recognizes that she should be more sensitive to her surroundings right now, that she should be afraid others will somehow know her reality has changed irrevocably. Yet all she can feel is happiness and disbelief and incredulity and joy looping through her each moment as she stares at this gift from the reputedly heartless fashion magazine editor.
Evidently, not so heartless.
The knowledge that this unexpected gift is from Miranda sits warmly in Andy’s gut.
How is it that this person is able to move her to such an extent? Time and distance seem to have no bearing—Andy feels as drawn to Miranda as the first day she’d met her.
And now this.
Picking up the computer quickly, Andy strides into the restroom and enters a stall. Propping the computer on her knees, Andy returns her attention to the computer. What she sees astounds her.
A mocked up Christmas Special Runway issue, complete with photographs, articles, letters to the editor, reviews, a biography, and the Editor’s Letter fill the screen. “Merry Christmas to me,” Andy whispers.
Every page has to do with Andy.
Saving the Editor’s Letter for last, Andy begins to click through the pages. They contain every article, big and small, she has ever had published, including those from Northwestern. Each article has photographs of her attached, some she has never seen before. Andy chuckles at how some of the photos have been matched with the articles. The letters to the editor are ones written about those articles, including any replies she had submitted.
Clicking on the biography, Andy begins to laugh. Along with all the obvious categories—eye and hair color, age, hometown, and school alma mater—the page reflects her favorite meal, favorite saying, little-known facts, future aspirations, defining career moment, and a memorable anecdote. Andy shakes her head in amusement. Miranda has quite a sense of humor.
The last page makes Andy pause, dumbfounded by what she sees. It is a picture of Andy and Miranda in Paris. Andy is talking to Valentino while Miranda gazes at Andy tenderly, a soft smile apparent.
Andy is flabbergasted. Miranda had just introduced her to Valentino as the “new Emily.” All evidence had pointed toward Miranda not caring one bit about her. But that look.
Andy continues to study the picture. Maybe it is because she has deprived herself of really looking at Miranda for so long, but she feels an unmistakable pull. She has always known she is attracted to Miranda. Those feelings had propelled her efforts to change, to be better, to catch her attention. Perhaps Andy’s efforts had been more successful than she had supposed.
Taking a deep breath, Andy clicks to the Editor’s Letter and reads.
Since leaving our illustrious magazine for greener pastures, Andrea Sachs has quickly risen to become an impressive reporter, digging deep to find and illuminate the truth. Of course we always knew how valuable, how intelligent, and how determined Andrea was. While in my employ Andrea used her considerable talents to help me navigate through the myriad, endless demands on my time. I can truthfully state no one has performed as adequately. She is sorely missed.
This special issue serves as a thank you to a woman who has touched many in ways she may not realize. Besides saving this magazine millions of dollars, robbing a certain CEO of enough ammunition to remove me from my post, and preventing the magazine from endorsing a person who shall never sell another stitch of clothing if I have anything to say about it, Andrea has once again astounded me with her surprisingly generous nature. I am humbled by it.
Andrea Sachs is a rare, unsullied diamond. I am glad to see that life cannot scratch her beautiful surface or dim her indomitable spirit.
Andy reads the letter several times. She is deeply touched. Shifting her attention to the editor’s picture, Andy traces Miranda’s patrician features with ravenous eyes. Her signature silver-haired coif, petite form, and perfect skin mesmerize her all over again. It’s not so much how striking Miranda looks that captivates Andy, but rather her aura of power and her don’t fuck-with-me-ness that draws Andy in. She guesses that Miranda may be about twenty years her senior. She doesn’t care. Andy studies Miranda’s picture again, searching for some insight. Instead of looking into the camera challengingly, this photo has captured a contemplative woman, eyes trained on the New York skyline as if thinking about something. Or someone.
It is clear she will have to contact Miranda to thank her. It is also clear that Miranda will not punish her for doing so. It may not even be too much of a stretch to believe that Miranda wants Andy to contact her.
Hearing someone enter the bathroom, Andy pulls toilet paper from the roll noisily, waiting for the person to enter a stall before flushing the toilet and hurrying out of the room.
Once back at her desk, Andy places the laptop on the surface and slumps into her chair. What should she write? What Miranda has done, the time involved, boggles Andy’s mind. Staring at the Editor’s Letter, she creates and discards several emails in her mind.
“Moonlighting on us, Sachs?” Andy hears. Whipping her head around, she sees Sean Stevens, a sports journalist, peering at her computer screen from his desk which sits kitty-corner to hers. Andy slams the laptop screen down as she chuckles.
“Yup. That’s it exactly. You caught me. Because I have all the time in the world to moonlight.” Andy chuckles again for good measure, relaxing as Sean joins in.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. You in for lunch? We’re ordering Chinese,” Sean says.
“Sure,” Andy agrees as she takes the proffered takeout menu. After his attention is diverted to the next colleague who wants to order out, Andy lifts the computer screen. It figures that even after looking at everything while sitting on a toilet, she still gets caught staring at the mocked-up magazine. Andy decides to give herself some slack, though. After all, this is un-Fucking-believable with a capital “F.” Really.
Taking time to set-up her email, Andy types out a message to Miranda and sends it before she can talk herself out of it. Once again, she keeps it simple.
Merely saying thank you seems inadequate. You’ve always had a way of rendering me speechless. Regardless, I mean this wholeheartedly: thank you, Miranda.
Andy wants to say so much more. She wants to tell Miranda how astounded she is by the gesture Miranda has made. She wants to admit how much she has missed Miranda. She wants to ask Miranda how she tracked down all the articles, the letters, the photographs. She wants to convey how moved she is by this grand gesture. However, she doubts both her ability to relate such feelings or to ask such questions. She really does feel speechless.
Purposely turning her mind toward research for an article on the mayor’s reelection platform, Andy shows great restraint by not looking at her email until early afternoon. Finally giving in to her desires, she refreshes her in-box and sees a response from Miranda. Taking a steadying breath, Andy opens the email.
I have recently learned that sometimes actions speak louder than words ever could. Dinner tonight? 9:00 o’clock at Café Pierre.
Of course, Andy agrees. Then she tries not to hyperventilate. She is going to see Miranda tonight after six years of trying to ignore the fact that she has some very strong, unresolved feelings for the older woman. The only saving grace is that Miranda wants to see her.
Not knowing how else to deal with this situation, Andy falls back on what she has perfected: she pushes thoughts of Miranda to the back of her mind and focuses on her work. Nine o’clock will come soon enough. Andy will be able to feast her eyes and concentrate on the object of her affections then.
Chapter 4: The Meeting
Café Pierre 9:00 p.m.
Arriving at the restaurant fifteen minutes early, Andy is led to a table tucked in the back. She nervously rubs her sweaty hands against her 7 For All Mankind jeans and straightens out her RAW 7 cashmere wrap sweater, hoping Miranda will approve. By the time Andy reaches the table, she feels as if she’s run the New York City marathon. Andy tingles with awareness as she is drawn into a piercing gaze. Miranda is a sight for sore eyes. She is dressed to kill in a black pin-striped power suit and powder-blue silk blouse beneath. The muted lighting accentuates Miranda’s curves and softens the planes of her face. She is quite becoming. Stopping short so as to not walk into the hostess, Andy is surprised when Miranda rises to greet her.
Startling blue eyes capture Andy’s attention, holding her still as Miranda slowly slides her hands down Andy’s arms. Miranda pointedly peruses Andy’s body before nodding slightly. Andy exhales in relief. She nearly faints the next moment when Miranda grasps Andy’s hands and leans in, kissing each cheek. Hovering near one ear, Miranda says in a low voice, “Andrea.”
Andy tries unsuccessfully to restrain an instinctive shiver as she pulls back to look into Miranda’s eyes. Miranda’s pupils dilate as a slight smile graces her face. Andy feels the urge to kiss her, even going so far as to tilt her head for a better angle. She can taste Miranda’s breath, a mixture of mint and coffee. At the last moment sanity kicks in, and Andy diverts her attention toward their joined hands.
Only what she sees nearly drives her crazy.
With fascination, Andy watches as Miranda slowly turns Andy’s hands, gently moving her thumbs to the base of them. Miranda traces Andy’s thumbs with her own before rubbing the “v” between each thumb and forefinger. Hypnotically, Miranda strokes the inside of Andy’s hands, caressing across the middle provocatively. Andy bites her lower lip to suppress the moan welling up.
The motions, the hands caressed so intimately, stimulate Andy. She wishes those sensual fingers were stroking elsewhere.
Feeling warmth roll through her, Andy continues to watch the erotic thumb movements for several breathless moments. Miranda is seducing her with an ease that scares Andy.
She can feel herself losing her composure. Embracing Miranda in a public setting would be suicidal. Hell, even if they were in a private setting, it’d still be a stupid idea. Until Andy knows exactly what Miranda wants, she intends to not act on her feelings. Although this gives finger-fucking an entirely new meaning.
Regardless, Andy needs to stop Miranda from this erotic hand-stroking before she loses control.
Andy leans toward Miranda and whispers, “If you don’t stop, I won’t be held responsible for my actions.” Andy turns her head slightly and ghosts her lips over a delicate ear. She is gratified when she hears a slight gasp.
Miranda murmurs, “That’s not much of a threat, Andrea.” With one last gentle thumb stroke, Miranda slowly withdraws to rub Andy’s wrists. “As tempting as it is to spur you into action, I do not wish to be interrupted once we begin,” Miranda whispers. Andy’s eyes are captured by Miranda’s stare. “I intend to take my time.”
Miranda releases Andy’s hands and turns to sit down. “Let’s eat, Andrea. We’ll need as much stamina as possible. We have years worth of reacquainting ourselves, after all.” Andy’s eyes widen as Miranda blatantly looks at her lips before once again allowing their eyes to reconnect. At Andy’s flushed face, Miranda smiles devilishly.
Well, that gives Andy a pretty good idea of what Miranda wants.
After ordering drinks, a silence blankets them. It is not necessarily uncomfortable, but it is full.
Miranda opens the conversation. “I did not expect to ever hear from you again.” Andy nods. “I am so glad to find you have not broken your habit of exceeding my expectations.” Miranda continues with a curl of her lips.
“I do my best,” Andy quips. Curiosity gets the better of her. “If you wanted to keep in touch, why didn’t you contact me?”
“Really, Andrea. Use your pretty, little head. How could I rationalize such an action? You left me in the middle of Paris Fashion week,” Miranda scoffs.
“But you wanted to,” Andy says playfully.
Miranda sips her wine and glares, but her eyes shine with affection. After a loaded silence, Miranda places her glass down and stares at Andy once more. Andy starts to feel a bit apprehensive. She used to be able to interpret Miranda’s looks. It was pretty easy, really, particularly since Andy studied Miranda as often as possible. This look, however, Andy cannot decipher.
“I had an interesting conversation with Nigel just after you sent me the information on Sassy.” The way she says the name makes Andy think of tasting something rather retch-worthy.
“Oh?” Andy prompts. She has no idea where this is going.
“I was unaware that all those times Nigel had passed on interesting tidbits of information, he’d actually received them from you.” Her eyes burn into Andy’s forcefully. “For years now you have protected Runway, protected me, when I was under the belief that you wanted nothing to do with me. You’ve provided this secret service without any expectation of receiving something in return. Yet, the way you disappeared certainly indicated your desire to leave that part of your life behind.”
Andy laughs nervously. “Um, well, uh.” Andy swallows some of her drink, stalling for time. “Sometimes information comes my way. I thought it might be helpful.”
“And it has been. I just can’t quite figure out why you’ve been protecting me all this time without revealing your actions directly,” Miranda continues while holding Andy’s gaze. “Why, Andrea?” she asks softly.
“Just because I needed to leave doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. About Runway—I mean Runway,” Andy looks away, mortified at her slip. Shit. “Anyway, I did it because I can. I am privy to information you would not hear until it’s too late.” Andy juts out her chin stubbornly. Maybe Miranda will let it go.
Miranda continues to search Andy’s eyes, hunting for the truth. Andy valiantly holds the gaze while attempting to shield her heart. She doesn’t know whether she is successful, though. In fact, she rather believes that, just as in the past, she cannot hide anything from this woman.
Finally, Miranda offers a small smile and slight nod. “Thank you, Andrea.” She looks away for a moment as she says, “If I’d known, I—” Miranda interrupts herself with a shake of the head. She looks back toward Andrea and says with a smirk, “I know now, Andrea, so no need to use an intermediary. Clear?”
“Yes.” Andrea doesn’t know how to feel about this development. Emailing Miranda directly in the future? It seems unbelievable. Actually, this entire day seems surreal.
After ordering their meals, silence blankets them once more. “How are Caroline and Cassidy?” Andy asks.
Surprise colors Miranda’s face. She delivers a full smile, transforming her face entirely. “They are both in their first year of college. Caroline is at Columbia University and Cassidy is at Boston University. Caroline has chosen to live on campus rather than to remain at the townhouse. I can’t say I blame her. I miss them terribly, of course. The house is so quiet, so empty, without them.”
Andy can sympathize. The townhouse is huge, and with both children gone and no husband, the place must resemble a mausoleum. Nigel had mentioned that Miranda isn’t dating anyone. According to him, she had just lost interest after her last failed marriage. Selfishly, Andy is glad.
Andy’s pulse speeds up as possibilities parade before her eyes like models at a fashion show. Only Miranda is the sole model walking down the runway again and again wearing silky lingerie. After trying to suppress these feelings for so long, her libido is pounding on Andy’s shoulder impatiently demanding to be heard.
Trying to calm her nerves, Andy sips her wine. The thought of joining Miranda at her house tonight makes her feel like holding her breath, much as she did when her parents drove through a tunnel or over train tracks, anything not to blow her chance to spend time with Miranda. She’s afraid of saying the wrong thing, making the wrong move, or somehow calling to attention the fact that they are sitting in an exclusive restaurant sharing dinner and preparing to—what? Did Miranda really want to have sex with Andy? Was Andy ready for such a step? Could her heart take it if all Miranda wanted was a casual fling?
Who was she kidding? She’d take any scraps thrown at her and kiss the woman’s feet for the opportunity to touch that porcelain body, to kiss those alluring lips, to be with this incredible woman. Andy had been captivated by Miranda since the day they had met. She will not give up this chance.
Miranda surprises Andy by asking after her family. “Good. They’re good. They worry about me, of course, but we talk once a week and see each other every so often. I had planned on going to visit them in a few weeks for Christmas, but I think I’ll go after the holidays instead.”
Andy doesn’t tell Miranda about the falling out they had before Paris. Or after Paris. Her father had been worried that Andy was throwing her life away, drifting from her friends and alienating her then-boyfriend, all for a job she didn’t like and wouldn’t keep. Andy had tried to explain that Runway was a stepping-stone toward a writing career, but he had been skeptical.
Once she had settled into her role as a reporter, things had really come to a head. Andy had been grieving the loss of Miranda in her life even though she was writing every day. Her parents had noticed. It didn’t take long for them to figure out why she was so miserable. They had said some very unkind words, unpleasant enough that Andy had refused to interact with them for two years. When Andy’s older sister got engaged, she had pleaded with Andy to bury the hatchet. After several months of “do it for me!” Andy had relented. The reunion had been uncomfortable, practically unbearable.
Over time, though, it has become easier to be in the same room. Over time, their polite inquiries have sounded less and less like the Grand Inquisition. Over time, Andy has forgiven them for their judgmental, ignorant remarks.
Andy idly wonders what they would say if they knew she is dining with Miranda tonight, if they knew that Andy is planning to fuck this woman into next week if given the chance, if they knew that after all this time she is still in love with this maddening, sensual, sharp-witted mystery.
She might just have to call them to share the news.
The air shimmers with sexual energy as they reacquaint themselves, sharing what has occurred while allowing the more intimate details to remain untouched for now. These are areas they are not quite ready to explore. They are feeling their way around, cautiously circling, closing the space between them slowly.
Eventually, the conversation dies as they gaze into each other’s eyes. Andy is a glutton, greedily staring at Miranda, not able to get her fill. The look in Miranda’s eyes causes a spike of arousal to course through her. Andy watches, enthralled, as Miranda tilts her head and says, “Come home with me, Andrea.”
And it’s as simple as that.
Andy’s response is a wolfish smile. No reason not to let her desire shine through now. Miranda’s eyes glow as she reads Andy’s body language. It clearly states how Andy can’t wait to get her hands on Miranda. Remarkably, it seems Miranda feels the same way.
Chapter 5: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
They do not talk during the ride to Miranda’s home. They do not kiss, although Andy is nearly desperate to feel those lips against hers. They fall into silence, reminiscent of shared car rides while Andy worked for Miranda. It is comfortable, soothing, familiar.
All those feelings are transformed when Miranda’s fingers begin to trace patterns on Andy’s thigh. Staring at the competent fingers creating circles and ovals, spirals and figure eights, Andy nearly goes mad with the desire to crush Miranda against her and map enticing contours with her mouth.
Andy doesn’t dare stop Miranda’s finger-play, though. Instead, she focuses on her breathing as Miranda becomes bolder. Her fingers ring Andy’s kneecap before converging on the tip and then pushing out forcefully in all directions. Andy has never realized what an erogenous zone knees are. Maybe it’s just Miranda’s hands which create that reaction regardless of where she touches. Her fingers climb to Andy’s hip, gliding up and down the thigh hypnotically before zigzagging in wide arcs and ending by edging where Andy’s panty line rests. Andy is weak with want.
On shaky legs Andy follows Miranda inside the house and up the stairs, straight into the master suite. Andy closes the door and turns to find Miranda sweeping her eyes over Andy slowly, hungrily. Without a word, she glides over and removes Andy’s coat. Andy trembles. With a gentle pull, Miranda guides her to the four-poster King-sized bed and stops next to it.
As if to memorize it, Miranda runs delicate fingers over Andy’s face. “I’ve missed your face,” Miranda whispers before framing it and brushing her lips against Andy’s mouth gently. “Your smile,” Miranda continues after nibbling on Andy’s lower lip for several wonderful moments. Andy moans. “Those expressive chocolate eyes,” Miranda says as she kisses Andy’s neck. “And, although it didn’t quite hit me fully until I saw you tonight,” Miranda says while gazing into Andy’s eyes, “I’ve missed you.” Returning to Andy’s waiting lips, Miranda delivers more kisses, each one more profound, each one communicating a rich yearning to be closer.
Miranda wasn’t exaggerating when she proclaimed she wishes to take her time. She takes pains to remove each piece of clothing separately, kissing revealed skin reverently. By the time Miranda allows Andy to sink onto the bed, every inch of her has been kissed, even her toes. These kisses are tenderly delivered, causing Andy to feel weak and vibrant. She thrums with desire even as she struggles not to pass out from the sheer pleasure she is experiencing. Andy shudders as Miranda’s moist mouth sucks on her ear, nibbling teasingly before pulling away to remove her own clothing.
Once on the bed, Miranda returns to Andy’s lips. And kisses her. And kisses her some more. What starts as the soft brushing of lips grows into long, luscious kisses, slowly building like a wonderful song full of sweet woodwinds, romantic violins, passionate horns, and pulsating percussion. Miranda’s tongue strokes hers with all-encompassing swipes that fulfill Andy in ways she has never before experienced. As she surrenders to this lovemaking, allowing Miranda to explore and possess, she feels Miranda’s fingers slide into her, pushing and withdrawing in much the same motion she demonstrated while holding Andy’s hands in the restaurant.
Andy doesn’t last long. She might feel embarrassed if she had any brain cells left to fire the mortification synapses into action. Instead, she screams Miranda’s name into the night, tucking her head into Miranda’s neck as her body convulses in ecstasy.
It is very possible that she blacks out for a few moments.
When she begins to pull together her spectacularly shattered composure, she feels Miranda’s fingers, those miraculous digits, gently combing through her chestnut hair over and over.
Miranda’s actions seem totally against her persona. Andy feels privileged to receive such special treatment, to be able to enjoy a side of Miranda she never knew existed.
Sighing, Andy kisses Miranda’s collarbone and lifts her head to look into her eyes. They are open to her, expressing affection and desire. Joy bubbles through Andy. Now that she has recovered she sets out to love this woman just as thoroughly, just as reverently, just as passionately.
Starting at the top, Andy delivers soft kisses to Miranda’s eyelids, her nose, her forehead, her chin, to that stubborn jaw and to those defined cheeks. “I tried to forget your face,” Andy mutters. Moving to one side, Andy kisses around the ear, smiling softly as Miranda accommodatingly angles her head to provide better access. “I tried to forget how much you mean to me.” Sucking on an earlobe, Andy hears Miranda’s groan. It encourages her to continue with explorations behind the ear, to the other ear, and then a long, unhurried journey down Miranda’s neck. “But I couldn’t. No amount of discipline could keep you out of my dreams,” Andy confesses.
Although she would be content to continue in this vein all night, she sees the erratic pulse jumping in Miranda’s neck and feels hands tightening around her head as sensual hips gyrate against Andy’s body. Slithering down Miranda’s torso, Andy begins to pay attention to gorgeous breasts. Palming them, weighing them, worshiping them with her fingers, lips, and tongue, Andy nips and sucks, pinches and pulls as she listens to Miranda’s responses become more and more vocal. “Andrea,” and “oh,” and “mmmm” punctuate Miranda’s whimpers and moans driving Andy to suck on a nub while pulling on the other one forcefully. Soon, Miranda’s pants give way to a shriek as her body stiffens in orgasm.
Andy doesn’t feel so mortified now.
They cling to each other as Miranda takes deep breaths. “Andrea,” Miranda whispers as she holds Andy tightly.
Not sure what Miranda wants at this juncture, Andy lies quietly wrapped in her arms waiting for some indication.
It is possible she sleeps for a bit.
When Andy opens her eyes, she latches onto bright-blue ones. “Hey,” Andy whispers.
Miranda smiles and pulls Andy closer to kiss. This time their lovemaking is slow, as if they have the rest of their lives. Andy completes her thorough investigation of Miranda’s body leisurely, enchanted by Miranda’s reactions to her touch. Their touches reflect a deepness, a presence that enfolds Andy’s heart. Andy thinks about how long she has desired Miranda, how hopeless it had all seemed, how thankful she is for this chance to express herself in this way to a woman who has haunted her dreams since the moment their paths first crossed.
Finding her way with her mouth to Miranda’s weeping center, Andy licks delicately around the clitoris and downward to suck the labia. Wiggling her tongue at Miranda’s entrance, she feels hands gently pushing her face away. Confused, Andy looks up at the extremely aroused woman.
“Come here and turn around,” Miranda directs as she pulls Andy toward her. Before doing as directed, Andy receives a forceful kiss that skyrockets her desire. Returning her lips to Miranda’s center while mindful not to place her entire weight on her, Andy begins to gently undulate. Exploring Miranda with her tongue and lips once more, she nearly jumps out of her skin when she feels hands on her hips and a tongue dipping inside her.
“Miranda,” Andy moans. It feels so good; she wants to sink her hips downward, to impale herself on that wicked tongue. After a few moments, Andy begins to rock in time with Miranda’s motions. Andy nearly comes when Miranda grasps her ass and pulls her down firmly, nipping at her clitoris and swirling her tongue around it. Andy’s motions become more frenetic as she begins to lick more forcefully at Miranda’s nerve center, determined for them to climax together. Miranda’s breathy groans signifying her impending orgasm shoot straight through Andy, and she can no longer control her body. As their shouts commingle, Andy feels her body spasm for long moments, days, centuries. Pleasure washes through her relentlessly. Shuddering so much she fears she will fall on Miranda, Andy laps up the flow of moisture from Miranda’s vagina while leaning on her elbows and knees.
Andy rests her head on Miranda’s inner thigh for a moment before carefully lifting herself up to resettle next to Miranda. Andy doesn’t yet have the strength to rejoin her. Miranda slowly strokes Andy’s leg as they rest silently. Feeling sated and sleepy, Andy climbs back up the bed and settles next to Miranda, who turns to deliver a lingering kiss. Soon they both fall into a deep, satisfied sleep.
When Andy wakes, she can tell it is early the next morning. Propping her head on her arm, Andy studies the sleeping woman. How she loves her. If she harbored any doubt, if she maintained any illusion that her fantasies were merely the work of wanting the unattainable, last night had clarified her feelings dramatically. She had missed Miranda’s caustic wit, razor-sharp intellect, and powerful presence. More than that, though, the thought of never feeling those hands on her body again, of never tasting those lips or hearing that voice call out to her as ecstasy overtakes Miranda causes panic to rise within Andy.
Miranda chooses that moment to open her eyes. Perhaps she sees how unsure Andy feels, perhaps she recognizes Andy’s need, or perhaps she understands a real chance exists that this will be their only night together. Whatever it is that stirs Miranda to surge forward and pin Andy to the bed as she plunders Andy’s mouth ruthlessly, Andy can feel the desperation oozing through Miranda and is comforted. She isn’t the only one fighting to make this last, wanting more than one night can offer.
Wrapped firmly in Miranda’s arms much later, Andy hears Miranda whisper, “I do not wish to watch you walk away again.” Andy kisses Miranda’s breastbone and settles into Miranda’s body as if she plans to hibernate for the foreseeable future.
Andy isn’t sure how to respond. Never in a million years would she have believed Miranda might be attracted to her, might want Andy in her life. She is afraid to say something too over the top, too revealing, something that may invite sarcasm or rejection.
Before she drops off to sleep Andy murmurs, “Thank you for the computer.” She feels the reactionary tightening of arms around her in reply.
Chapter 6: Another Meeting
Ritz 10:00 a.m.
By the time Andy wakes, the spot beside her is cold. Looking at the time on her cell phone, Andy jumps up, looking for her clothes. She doesn’t have much time to get home, change, and get to work. After listening for any movement in vain, Andy descends to the entryway, wondering whether she should try to find Miranda.
It would have been nice if Miranda had at least left a note or something. Andy feels a bit cheap, a bit used, and very confused. She had gotten the distinct impression that last night would not be a one-night stand. Yet, now she’s not so sure.
Perhaps Miranda’s last words had meant that she did not intend to be present when Andy left her home. Andy shakes her head. She doesn’t understand.
After a rushed morning, Andy leans back in her chair and exhales loudly. She has been attempting to write an article on the failure of the No Child Left Behind Act to not leave any children behind, but her heart isn’t in it. Apparently, it has remained in a townhouse uptown. Andy refuses to think too much about the night before. Not now. She needs to focus on her work. Later, when she is alone in her cold, cold bed, she can relive those hours.
When her phone rings, Andy eyes it curiously. “Andy here,” she answers.
“Delivery up front for ya,” she hears.
“Thanks.” Andy strides to the front while wondering what it can be. Her entire life has changed from yesterday’s delivery. Unfortunately, it is too early to tell if the change is for the better. She supposes that will depend on whether she ever hears from the fashion icon again.
When she reaches the front desk, Andy’s eyes fill with tears of relief. Waiting for her is a stunning bouquet of roses and an envelope. Thanking the receptionist, Andy returns to the desk while thoughts swirl through her mind. Obviously these are from Miranda. Excitement flows through her with the realization that Miranda wants to see her again.
Andy stares at the tastefully arranged bouquet. Before opening the envelope Andy takes the time to appreciate the coral roses ringed with red, offset with greenery. Heavy gilded stock of the whitest ivory, the envelope reflects elegance, sophistication, and wealth. On the front is handwritten Andrea; Andy can’t help but smile as she recognizes the methodical handwriting. So in control. Nothing like last night.
Sliding the stationery from the enclosure, Andy’s nostrils flare as she catches the slightest hint of Miranda’s perfume. That smell is imprinted on her soul along with many other sensory triggers from last night.
I owe you breakfast. Saturday at the Ritz, 10:00a.m.?
Although her first inclination is to agree, Andy cannot help but wonder why Miranda had left without a word. Why is she sending flowers and an invitation? What does Miranda want? For that matter, what does Andy want?
She can only answer for herself. Andy wants it all. She wants to spend time with Miranda. She wants to make love with her. She wants to be able to call her when she misses her, and she wants Miranda to call her.
For now, though, she is content with messengers and formal invitations. Miranda’s actions reassure her that Miranda wants something, too. With that thought in mind, Andy sends an email accepting the invitation. Now she just has to wait two days.
Andy arrives at the Ritz before Miranda and is shown to their table overlooking Central Park. Andy is nervous. She doesn’t know what to expect. Is Miranda going to let her down easy? Tell her that their night together was enjoyable but will not happen again? The thought is unbearable. Getting to experience Miranda in that way has been a revelation.
“Andrea,” Andy hears, and she looks up quickly. Miranda bends toward her to deliver a lingering kiss on the cheek, a thumb briefly brushing the other one. Andy draws in a shaky breath as she watches Miranda seat herself, a pensive expression on her face.
After a soul-searching gaze, Miranda asks softly, “How are you, Andrea?”
Andy doesn’t know how to answer. She wants to tell Miranda that she is confused and bewildered. That she wants to spend more time with Miranda. That she doesn’t understand why she woke up alone after a night that changed her life. “Fine.”
Miranda studies her for a moment. “Hmm. I can see that.”
Maybe Miranda understands that “fine” equals “I am so beyond confused.” Knowing how she can never hide her feelings, it’s possible Miranda can see what Andy is feeling. Andy remains silent.
Although their breakfast is a silent affair, Andy begins to relax. She is content to be in Miranda’s company even if none of her fears are being allayed or her unasked questions answered.
As their plates are cleared away Miranda asks, “Are you working today?”
“At three,” Andy answers.
“Come home with me, Andrea?” Andy feels relief roar through her as she smiles brightly.
And it’s as simple as that.
Before utilizing the privacy partition, Miranda directs Roy to pick them up from the townhouse at 2:00 p.m. Once settled in the back of the car, Miranda turns to Andy and intertwines their fingers. A moment later Miranda is kissing Andy, and she feels herself melt. She fervently hopes that this will not be the last time. This just can’t be because Andy is realizing that she must have the privilege of kissing these lips for the rest of her life.
And when they feel the car stop, when they pull away from warm bodies and addictive lips, Miranda murmurs, “Andrea,” as she trails a thumb down Andy’s cheek.
Chapter 7: The Romance
Over the next few months they fall into a rhythm where Miranda invites Andy to a meal, and they return to the townhouse to make love afterward. Whenever the meal is breakfast or lunch, Miranda always returns to work later in the day. When the shared meal is dinner, Andy wakes up the next morning alone. Nevertheless, Andy loves dinners the best since they have more time together, and she gets to fall asleep in Miranda’s arms. She dreams of awaking this way, too. Andy is hopeful that one day her dreams will become reality. She just needs to be patient and to not make demands.
Slowly little changes begin to occur. Miranda begins to confide in Andy about matters closer to her heart. She talks about her fears for her daughters’ futures, the direction of the magazine, her desire to renovate the townhouse, and her plans to take a vacation. The last subject surprises Andy. She can’t remember ever hearing about Miranda taking vacations. Not even with the girls. Perhaps that began after Andy left Runway.
“Is there any destination you wish to visit but have not yet?” Miranda asks as she sips her wine. They are having dinner at an exclusive Italian restaurant in Soho.
“Me?” Andy squeaks. She reacts this way too often to Miranda’s questions, but Miranda seems amused rather than annoyed. “Um, well, there are tons of places I’d like to visit. Italy, England, Scotland, Switzerland, any of the Caribbean islands—I haven’t really been anywhere. Hell, I’d be happy going to Miami or San Diego!”
Miranda chuckles. “I’m sure you’ll have the opportunity to visit many of those places, Andrea.” The way she says it sounds so certain that Andy has no choice but to believe her.
Although Miranda is still noticeably absent when Andy awakes in the morning, now she finds a rose on the pillow next to her or a hand-written note in her purse. Miranda also begins to lay out clothes for her, beautiful clothes. It is obvious how Miranda takes pains to make sure Andy will not be uncomfortable in such expensive couture by choosing understated chic for Andy. And the lingerie makes Andy lose her breath. It’s these types of actions that let Andy know their relationship is not casual, just gradual.
Sometimes Andy wakes up in the middle of the night to find Miranda watching her. At such times Andy pulls Miranda into a long hug then turns her gently so she can spoon her. They never speak during such moments.
At lunch one day Miranda surprises Andy by saying, “The girls will be home for Spring break next week. They want to meet you.” Miranda’s expression is carefully neutral as she waits for Andy to respond.
“Okay,” Andy agrees. She feels nervous energy race through her. Even though Caroline lives relatively close, Andy has not met her since she worked at Runway. And now Cassidy will be in town. If they want to meet her, that must mean Miranda has talked about her. Right? What has she told them? How should she act? What if they don’t like her? Andy startles when she feels a hand covering hers. Looking up, she gazes into reassuring eyes. They settle her.
“Have faith, Andrea. They have changed quite a bit from the pranksters they once were.” Andy feels Miranda’s hand squeeze hers before releasing it.
After Andy’s resolute nod, Miranda mentions dinner at the townhouse on Saturday. They finish their meal while talking about Caroline and Cassidy, Andy’s curiosity urging her to ask questions. She wants to have some idea of whom they’ve become and what interests them. Miranda is generous with her information, taking thevtime to explain about their upbringing, their hobbies, their college classes, and their personality traits. Andy falls a bit more in love with Miranda, hearing the obvious adoration she feels for her daughters.
Andy believes they have become closer over the months, that Miranda has lowered her defenses. More often now they discuss their lives, their families. Andy has yet to tell Miranda about her falling out with her family, though. She doesn’t want to explain why. She doesn’t want to discuss how afraid she is that they will have another fight once her parents find out she is seeing Miranda. Andy knows if she must choose, she will choose Miranda, and that scares her, too. She fears Miranda will tire of her eventually and send her away. Regardless, Andy is grateful for all they have shared. She will take every moment she is given with Miranda and guard such memories jealously.
Their lovemaking that day is intense. They keep their eyes trained on one another, breasts rubbing and centers gyrating together, hands linked on either side of Miranda’s head. As they reach toward their orgasms, they struggle to retain their visual connection. “Miranda,” Andy sobs as she climaxes, feeling herself pulled into a gentle embrace as she hears her name repeated over and over. Andy loves this woman so much. She has to believe that Miranda cares for her, certainly enough to allow her children to spend time with her. She relaxes as she feels Miranda’s hands drawing circles on her back. Yes, she cares. She must.
Dinner is not as scary as Andy had supposed. Caroline’s major is English, while Cassidy is studying business management. Their choices reflect how different they are. Caroline is more introspective, whereas Cassidy loves to chat. They fill the dinner conversation with stories of their experiences in school, their classes, and their new friends. Andy feels a bit nostalgic, remembering a simpler time when all she had to do was be open to the possibilities life presented her. She is fascinated while watching Miranda interacting with her daughters. It is obvious how much she has missed them.
By the end of the evening, Andy feels confident that Caroline and Cassidy like her. They engage her in conversation several times, asking about being a journalist, her interests (Andy refrains from mentioning Miranda as number one on her list), her favorite foods, and entertainment. Andy is relieved to find that they share many of the same tastes.
When they decide to call it a night, Caroline pulls Andy aside. “I think you’re good for Mom, Andy. She seems calmer. Happier.” Her smile reminds her of Miranda. Andy smiles back warmly.
“I’m glad. I like spending time with her,” Andy answers. Caroline gives her a hug before hustling upstairs. When Andy turns she sees Miranda watching from the doorway. Cassidy has just said goodnight to her Mom and stops when she reaches Andy.
“It was great to finally meet you properly. I hope you won’t hold any past actions against us. We were just kids then,” Cassidy says as she pulls Andy into a hug.
“Of course I won’t. That was a long time ago. I enjoyed getting to know you.” Andy squeezes Cassidy before letting go and stepping back. They grin at each other. “Good night.”
“Good night,” Cassidy answers with a wave as she takes two stairs at a time.
Andy isn’t looking by then. Her eyes are riveted on Miranda. She remains still, head cocked, as her eyes roam Andy’s body. Andy shivers with anticipation. She swears Miranda was a cougar in a past life, what with the way she stalks Andy with such focused intent. By the time Miranda stops in front of her, Andy feels faint with arousal. Miranda takes her hand and leads her upstairs without a word.
Although it astounds Andy, their lovemaking that night is even better, even more poignant. They have turned a corner. Andy perceives that Miranda’s children have accepted her and that this has cemented her relationship with Miranda in some way. Miranda worships Andy’s body as she had the first time they made love—undressing her slowly, kissing every part of her, taking the time to make Andy feel cherished. And after Andy comes down from the stratosphere, Miranda makes love to her again, holding her closely afterward while running her fingers through Andy’s hair the way she loves until she falls into an exhausted sleep.
The next morning Andy awakes slowly. When she turns over, she sees the empty spot and sighs. She should have known not to get her hopes up. Miranda’s absence does not equate to not caring for her. Miranda must have her reasons for never remaining in bed any time Andy sleeps over. Andy just wishes to know what those reasons are.
A noise at the door draws her attention. Miranda is entering with a breakfast tray. Andy stares in astonishment as Miranda carefully rests the tray on the floor, leans over, and kisses Andy until she snaps out of her stupor long enough to kiss Miranda back. Miranda pulls away slightly to look into Andy’s eyes. “Good morning, Andrea.” Andy nearly weeps with joy.
“Hi,” Andy responds shyly. She ignores the slight smirk. Andy is sure Miranda has interpreted her shock. As Andy feels happiness suffuse her, she watches Miranda’s face soften. Andy smiles fully as she pushes that signature lock of white hair away from Miranda’s eyes. Miranda grasps Andy’s hand and kisses the back of it before turning back to retrieve the tray.
Chapter 8: Miscommunication
Looking around the reception area, Andy smiles faintly as she recognizes some of the best journalists in the country milling about the room. The New York Press Club Awards for Journalism is always a well-attended event. Although Andy is nominated for the Gold Keyboard, she’s under no illusions. Having read the others’ entries, she can’t help but believe she’s not quite in their league. Still, it’s an honor to be here.
Next to her, Geoffrey says, “Look at all these people. Andy, we’re swimming with the big fish now.”
Andy laughs. Not wanting to attend the event alone and knowing that Miranda would never deign to accompany her, Andy convinced Geoffrey to go with her. He’s a nice enough guy, if not a bit shallow. Still, Andy trusts he will not harbor any romantic notions since she told him plainly that she isn’t interested in him, so at least she can relax and gawk.
Geoffrey has been with the paper for fifteen years, joining right after college. He is well-respected and knows everyone. He looks the part of the trustworthy reporter, too: tall, fit and distinguished-looking with hair graying at the temples. He begins to lead Andy around, introducing her to various acquaintances. Too soon it is time to find their seats for dinner.
After the meal, the speeches and presentations begin. Glancing around the room, Andy cannot help feeling hyper-aware. Shifting her gaze toward the front, Andy finds herself riveted by a pair of ice-blue eyes. Pointedly those beloved eyes slide to Andy’s left before returning to Andy’s rapidly widening eyes. The raised eyebrows eloquently ask Andy who the hell is with her. Hearing her name mentioned, Andy looks around bewildered, glancing at the stage and then around her as everyone begins to clap.
Geoffrey jumps up and pulls on Andy’s hand to help her rise. “You won!” he exclaims and hugs her enthusiastically. Andy feels a gentle push toward the stage and finally figures out what is happening.
Once at the podium, Andy can only focus on how Miranda is sitting virtually in front of her with an inscrutable look on her face. Breaking their connection, Andy looks over everyone’s head and thanks the appropriate people, falling back on speaking from the heart as eloquently as possible.
Sitting at her table a few minutes later, Andy realizes she has no idea what she’s just said. Since no one is looking at her funny, Andy guesses she didn’t say anything absurd.
All she wants to do is talk to Miranda, but Andy knows she has to wait until the ceremony is over. Ten thousand years later, Andy moves her petrified body slowly to unbend it. “I’m going to the restroom,” Andy says to Geoffrey as she leaves her seat. Not waiting for a reply, Andy’s eyes seek and find Miranda, who is watching her closely.
Andy walks through the entrance and waits by the side. A few moments later Miranda crosses through the doorway. Without slowing, Miranda strides through the atrium and into an empty conference room while Andy pursues her.
As soon as Andy closes the door Miranda rounds on her, hissing, “Is there something I should know, Andrea?” Andy is startled by the anger threaded through the question. She stares at Miranda, not knowing how to answer and sees her hesitation is misconstrued. “I see.” Miranda’s eyes harden as her stance straightens.
“No!” Andy nearly shouts, her hands rising in defense. “He’s just a friend, a colleague from work. I didn’t want to come here alone.” Andy doesn’t know what to do, what to say to convince Miranda. If she loses her—
Miranda’s sneering voice catches Andy’s attention. “And the fact that he has been showing you off, introducing you to everyone like you are some coveted prize. Did it never occur to you how that would be interpreted?” The overhead lights reflect off spitting eyes intent on slicing through Andy.
“Miranda!” Andy exclaims, her hand covering her heart. “I didn’t even know you’d be here—”
“Yes, I suppose it would have been much more convenient if I had not witnessed such a spectacle,” Miranda seethes.
“There was nothing to witness!” Andy states strongly. “I would never cheat on you. Don’t you know me at all?” Andy wrings her hands nervously.
“Obviously not if you go flouncing about town with pretty boys like some slut when we are not together,” Miranda answers, her eyes narrowing.
“I do not, I am not,” Andy sputters. She is becoming rather angry at this jealous display. It’s not like Miranda has ever indicated that she is willing to go public. If anything, Andy is Miranda’s dirty secret.
“I suppose it never occurred to you to invite me.” Not a question.
“Oh come on, Miranda. You compartmentalize me in your life like you do to your assistants, your housekeeper, your attorneys. I provide this secret service for you, and you have me so twisted around your little finger that I’m willing to take whatever time you condescend to grant me. I lick the soles of your Louboutins every chance I get, and I’m grateful for the chance. I’m pathetic.” Seeing Miranda’s pale face and trembling frame, Andy moves away from her. She is unable to stand being so close to Miranda at that moment. Andy can see Miranda shaking with rage.
“We both know you never would have come here with me, Miranda,” Andy adds quietly. It costs her greatly to have to voice this truth. It tears at her because she knows she’ll never be good enough to be on Miranda’s arm. Meeting at restaurants can be easily explained, but attending high-profile events is entirely different. Although Andy has accomplished so much in six years, she is not foolish enough to believe they are equals.
“Well. We’ll never know, will we?” Andy’s head shoots up to stare at Miranda uncertainly. Miranda sounds hurt.
Is she breaking up with me?
“I, Miranda. If you only knew how much I wanted you next to me, how much I will always want to be by your side—I’m sorry I didn’t at least ask,” Andy’s voice cracks as Miranda waves dismissively and turns away. Andy feels ice slide down her spine. She’s scared. Somehow she needs to make Miranda understand.
Approaching Miranda slowly, Andy takes a chance and pulls her into a fierce hug. She feels Miranda’s body meld into hers as arms wind around her waist. Relieved beyond belief, Andy takes deep breaths to calm down.
“I really am sorry,” Andy murmurs. She feels like shit.
“I know. I understand why this happened.” Miranda sighs and pulls Andy more closely to her. “I do care about you, Andrea,” Miranda murmurs. She brushes her nose across the shell of Andy’s ear and kisses it when Andy shudders. Miranda begins nibbling on the ear. Andy takes solace in Miranda’s attention.
“I saw you that day you sent me the email on Sassy,” Miranda whispers. “You were on the sidewalk speaking to Nigel, and I knew. I knew I wanted to see you again.” Andy feels silky lips slide down her neck. “Then you sent me that email, and I saw my opportunity.”
Andy pulls away to see Miranda’s face. She seems vulnerable. “I’m glad you did. I am. I’ve never been able to get over you. Six years apart and not a day passed without you in my thoughts.” Andy wonders whether she should be revealing herself so much, but she is still reeling from the possibility of losing this, losing Miranda.
Miranda stares at Andy as if trying to impart some momentous truth, some startling secret of the world, some—
“Come home with me, Andrea?”
Oh. Well, that is pretty damn wonderful, too. “Yes.” Andy will figure out some excuse to offer Geoffrey. She’s just so glad to have Miranda in her arms again.
And it’s as simple as that.
Chapter 9: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
When Andy gets to work on Monday she has to fight hard to keep the goofy smile off her face. She feels surer of their relationship than ever before. Miranda was up again before Andy this morning, but it doesn’t bother her quite as much this time since she distinctly remembers soft lips kissing her cheek as she cuddled a Miranda-scented pillow.
This Wednesday Andy must travel to Albany to cover the New York state legislature sessions. Bills are coming up for vote regarding improving Internet access for small businesses competing in a global economy. Not as exciting as some of her past assignments, but at least she is being given some far-reaching, cutting-edge assignments.
It’s her job to secure interviews with several of the movers and shakers, including the Speaker of the Assembly, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Andy has her work cut out for her, but she has already scheduled appointments with all three heavyweights.
For the last couple of weeks, Andy has been researching the legislative documents as well as reading everything she can get her hands on to better understand the ramifications if the bills pass. Andy intends to ask the tough questions, the ones a normal citizen might not think to ask. As with any technological regulations, competing factions are lobbying on each side, trying to gain the upper hand.
Although they try to coordinate it, Andy and Miranda are unable to find the time to see each other. Andy needs to finish her assignments before she leaves for Albany, and Miranda is deep in summer fashion layout hell. Andy is tempted to drop by the townhouse late Tuesday night, but she still doesn’t feel she has the right. Not unless it is scheduled. She has always abided by Miranda’s wishes, unwilling to be rejected when pushing for more time together.
Nevertheless, Andy is heartened to find that Miranda seems to want to see her more and more. They tend to meet a couple of times each week and at least once each weekend. In fact, with Andy’s business trip, this will be the longest stretch of time since their first dinner together that they will go without seeing each other.
Andy sighs. She doesn’t know how she’ll manage not seeing Miranda. Andy has always been fascinated with her, but since this thing began, Andy has found that her thoughts always return to Miranda. No matter what.
Andy imagines she could be covering something like a drowning and might start thinking about how Miranda would sniff at the atrocious clothes that covered the bloated body. Andy shakes her head as she chuckles at the absurd scenario.
While speaking to Nigel yesterday, she found it hard to sound nonchalant when Miranda’s name came up in conversation.
“I’ve noticed the well’s dried up,” Nigel says.
“Well?” Andy asks in confusion. She hears a big sigh across the phone line.
“No fascinating tidbits regarding the fashion world lately, Six? Nothing we need to watch out for? No nefarious schemes we need to squash?” Nigel teases.
“Oh!” Andy laughs nervously. The truth is that she has been giving such information directly to Miranda for months. “Um, yeah. Well, remember when I told you about Sassy?” Andy asks.
“Mmm,” Nigel agrees.
“I, well, Miranda, she contacted me after that. And, uh, she asked—”
“Asked?” Nigel interjects skeptically.
“Okay, yeah, right. She, uh, told me to email her in the future when this type of information comes my way. So, yeah, that’s, that’s what I do. Um, email her. Directly.” Andy petered out, knowing just how stupid she sounds.
A long silence on the other line emphasizes her idiocy.
“You’re in touch with Miranda now?” Nigel asks in a shocked voice.
“Well, you know. I email her when it’s important,” Andy says, trying desperately not to think of just how in touch she is with Miranda.
“I see. And you thought she’d eat you up when you sent her that information,” Nigel teases.
“Yeah. Haha. How ‘bout that.” Andy’s mind immediately goes to how, not only does Miranda eat her up, but just how heavenly it feels. Andy gulps.
After a few more minutes of catching up, they promise to do lunch once she returns from Albany.
Unfortunately her brain is firmly attached to thoughts of Miranda’s lips and tongue on her, licking and sucking until she screams. Andy shudders. God. She has no idea how she’ll get through the week.
Five days later Andy trudges into her apartment. It is only eight o’clock at night, but Andy had hit the ground running once she’d reached Albany and never stopped. Wearily she places her suitcase on the floor and opens her refrigerator, hoping that food will have miraculously appeared so she need not order takeout. Tonight would have been a great night to stay with Miranda. She always has her kitchen stocked with food.
Andy has had a tough time without seeing her face, hearing her voice, feeling her touch. It’s not as if Andy could even call Miranda. It just is not something they do—talk on the phone. Nor do they text. At most, they’ll exchange emails to schedule the next meal, and Miranda always sends the invitation.
It takes discipline to not contact Miranda now. During the week Andy was so busy interviewing politicians, attending hearings, and writing the articles that she was able to shelve her thoughts of Miranda until she sank, exhausted, into her bed late each night. She has nothing to distract her now.
Sighing, Andy resigns herself to ordering out and eating alone. Instead of shoving her thoughts of Miranda away, though, she pulls them to the forefront. She has time tonight to devote to such thoughts. To Andy, Miranda is truly larger than life. She never does anything halfway. When she decides on a course of action, Miranda commits herself one hundred percent. Andy has seen this happen countless times in the professional realm and to a limited extent in their relationship.
Andy has a theory. She believes Miranda is making small decisions regarding Andy. Yet they are adding up, building to the greatest most treasured wish Andy holds close to her heart. She wants Miranda to commit to her completely. So far Miranda has committed to spending time with Andy, to making love to her wholeheartedly, and to demonstrating her affection when in the privacy of her home. Andy loves every minute they share together.
Just as Andy picks up the phone to place a food order, she hears a knock on the door. Phone in hand, Andy looks through the peep hole to see a vision.
Opening the door, Andy smiles widely as she steps aside to let Miranda inside. Hearing Miranda drop her belongings on the counter, Andy turns from locking the door to see arms reaching for her. Ravenous lips latch onto hers, seeking out her tongue. Andy groans at the exquisite feeling.
“Miranda,” Andy breathes once they break from the kiss. That’s all she has time to say before those coveted lips cover hers once more. Miranda is such a wonderful kisser. Perhaps Andy should add kissing to the list of areas where Miranda commits herself fully. Certainly it must be separated from demonstrating affection, which is a very broad category. Or maybe kissing is a subcategory of demonstrating affection. Maybe—
Andy promptly loses her train of thought when Miranda begins pulling off Andy’s clothes and nudging her toward the bedroom. Andy eagerly joins in, tearing off Miranda’s coat, blouse, skirt, and lingerie. Soon they are on the bed not pausing for a moment to talk or look or breathe. They just kiss and touch and listen, driven by days without the other, days of yearning and wanting and needing what they could not have.
Eventually they lie in a sweaty heap, allowing their hearts to slow. Miranda opens her eyes to find Andy staring at her. “Hello, Andrea,” she drawls.
Andy can do nothing but laugh with pure delight. She watches as Miranda smiles slightly, an impish light shining through her eyes.
“Miranda, you are a sight for sore eyes,” Andy says. She nearly melts into a pile of goo when she sees Miranda’s face transform into a full-fledged smile.
“So are you,” Miranda replies softly. She lifts a finger to trace an eyebrow gently before trailing it down Andy’s cheek. Her hand wends into Andy’s hair, pulling Andy toward her for a languid kiss. “So are you,” she whispers against parted lips.
Andy snuggles into Miranda’s side, arm flung over Miranda’s waist and leg pinning her down. Andy doesn’t want Miranda to leave anytime soon. At least not without Andy knowing.
Andy begins to fade in and out of consciousness, lulled by a hand running through her hair again and again. She feels herself pulled out of that relaxation by softly spoken words.
“You seem to be under the mistaken assumption that you cannot contact me,” Miranda murmurs.
Andy tenses, not knowing how to respond. Saying that she doesn’t dare overstep the boundaries Miranda has set for fear of losing her seems too revealing. Too much, really.
Finally Andy says, “I thought it best to wait for you to call me since you’re so busy.” Not that you did. I kept checking my cell, hoping to find a message or even some notification of a missed call. But nothing. Of course, Andy can’t say all that. Too much. Really.
Andy keeps her head on Miranda’s chest, listening to the steady heartbeat. She hears Miranda’s voice rumble up to her, laced with patience. “You were away on a business trip. How could I know when you would be available?” Miranda is being much too reasonable. Andy grimaces into Miranda’s breasts, concentrating on the hand stroking her head.
“You don’t have to wait for me to contact you, Andrea. You can suggest times to meet, too.” Andy lifts her head to look into Miranda’s eyes. Andy nearly blurts out, Really? but is able to refrain. It doesn’t matter since Miranda obviously reads Andy’s reaction. “It’s time you start contacting me when you are thinking of me, Andrea,” Miranda says gently.
“Um, you’ll never get any work done, then,” Andy says then ducks when she realizes what she’s just revealed.
Hearing Miranda’s soft laugh, Andy raises her head from its tucked position to look at Miranda. Moonlight hits her silver hair just right, making Andy catch her breath. She is beautiful. “I’ll take that chance,” Miranda replies. Andy smiles and angles her head so she can observe the emotions crossing Miranda’s features. She appears contemplative. After a few minutes of silence, Miranda’s voice changes as she states with a smirk, “Now. I’m sure you are getting hungry.”
Right on cue Andy’s stomach grumbles. Miranda’s smile becomes broader.
“We’d better feed you. You’ll need as much stamina as possible,” Miranda states before getting up and wrapping a sheet around her lithe body.
Andy trails behind her in a forest-green cashmere robe, a gift from Miranda, ready to retrieve the telephone book to call for takeout. She watches as Miranda retraces her steps to the kitchen and picks up a bag. Andy cocks her head in obvious question.
“Food,” Miranda clarifies as she opens it.
Andy grins. Miranda has surprised her yet again.
Chapter 10: Scheduling Time Together
Scheduling Time Together
Pounding out her latest article, Andy attempts to remain focused on how best to relate the newest findings on the brain development of babies. The research indicates how negligence during the first year of life can prevent the brain’s hardwiring from developing properly. Even physical abuse is not as damaging to a baby’s brain development as withholding touch and refusing to regularly communicate with the infant. Babies enduring negligence remain stuck in the emotional seat of the brain, the limbic system, and more specifically the amygdala and hippocampus. Such children tend to be hypervigilant, anxious, and impulsive, often reverting to the fight-or-flight instinct.
Andy finds these studies fascinating. One neuroscientist she interviewed firmly believes that if the baby does not regularly receive touch and face-time during the developmental period, the brain will not form fully and will lose the chance to do so forever. Such a statement is pretty harsh. Other scientists believe that a brain can be rehabilitated, albeit slowly.
Hearing her email inbox signal a new message, Andy finishes her sentence and clicks over. Miranda’s assistant has sent her Miranda’s itinerary. Andy smiles. This must be Miranda’s way of prompting Andy to start suggesting when they can spend time together. Reviewing the schedule, Andy notices that Miranda has blocked off a week in June for vacation. Andy doesn’t remember Miranda mentioning a trip. She wonders whether she can ask about it.
Deciding she’s not brave enough to question Miranda’s schedule just yet, Andy settles for sending an email to Miranda requesting her presence on Wednesday night at her apartment for dinner. Andy wants to cook for her.
Nothing too fancy, of course. Andy is thinking chicken stir fry. A home-cooked meal will serve as a nice change of pace from all the restaurant food. The only time they haven’t eaten at a restaurant was when Miranda’s daughters were home for Spring break. Andy wants to start spending more time with Miranda in private. She wants Miranda to be able to relax around her, to let Andy in more.
Miranda’s reply is quick and affirmative. Andy smiles. Then she frowns. That’s two whole days away. Andy drums her fingers on the desk. She won’t be able to last that long without contacting Miranda. Andy sighs in resignation. What’s the worst that could happen?
Rejection, derision, sarcasm, coldness, dismissal. Right.
But she misses the woman. And Miranda has given Andy permission to contact her.
Realizing she is whining to herself, Andy decides to bite the proverbial bullet and contact Miranda tonight. Maybe not by telephone. That may be too nerve-wracking. Texting will work.
Having made the decision, Andy is able to buckle down and concentrate on writing. Several hours later, Andy stretches her hands over her head, turning her head to either side to loosen taut muscles. Looking at the clock, Andy exhales loudly. Where did the day go?
After a few moments of girding her loins, Andy sends a text to Miranda: Do you want me to bring you dinner?
Miranda’s schedule reflects that she has been outside the office most of the day for meetings. Normally, that means Miranda will stay late to catch up on paperwork.
Hearing her cell vibrate, Andy reads, Yes. 9:00p.m. Surprise me.
Andy grins. She had no idea it would be this easy. Maybe there’s something to this communication thing.
An hour later Andy strides into Elias-Clarke and stops for a visitor’s pass. She is pleasantly surprised to be given a permanent pass, barely able to mask her reaction. As she rides the elevator, memories bombard her. She hasn’t entered this building in nearly seven years. Andy takes a deep breath to calm her nerves. She has envisioned countless fantasies involving this elevator and Miranda.
As she walks toward the Runway reception area, Andy wonders whether everyone has left for home. No one seems to be around. A moment later Andy passes her old desk and stops in the doorway of Miranda’s office to feast her eyes on the editor.
Miranda sits in her chair, spectacles low on her nose as she reviews thumb-sized photographs. Miranda’s torso is encased by a fitted, ivory silk blouse with a deep v-neck, the color emphasizing Miranda’s signature hairstyle. A chunky pearl necklace invites Andy to linger over a delicate neckline, and the ebony pencil skirt allows for a wonderful view of toned legs ending in Jimmy Choo’s. Andy feels breathless.
After several moments of visualizing those legs wrapped around her waist as they make love, Andy hears, “Do you intend to let me starve, or are you coming in?” Andy’s face heats up as she realizes she’s been caught ogling Miranda. The lightness in Miranda’s eyes and the upturn of her lips calm Andy’s mortification enough for her to respond.
“Sorry. I was just admiring the view,” Andy shrugs as she crosses to the small table on the far side of the room. Placing dinner on it, Andy firmly instructs herself to behave before turning toward Miranda.
And promptly forgets the admonition as she is kissed within an inch of her life. Andy moans, extremely aroused and a bit disoriented. Strong fingers support her lower back as Miranda continues to stroke Andy’s tongue with erotic lingual caresses. “Ung,” Andy groans as Miranda’s hand cradles her head, angling it so she can explore Andy’s mouth more thoroughly.
When Miranda releases her lips, Andy has a hard time opening her eyes or closing her mouth. She can feel saliva coating her lips, can taste Miranda on her tongue, can feel one hand still tangled in her hair and the other one rubbing circles on her back as Andy tries to recover her wits. Finally opening her eyes, Andy witnesses a tender look on Miranda’s face. “Oh,” Andy gasps. “I, thank you.”
“Hmm. My pleasure,” Miranda responds. She leans forward again to deliver a chaste kiss. “Wine?” Miranda asks before crossing the room to a small refrigerator.
“Yes.” Andy agrees before quickly unpacking their shrimp-topped salads, using the dishware already on the table. Miranda appears beside her with a bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
Before sitting down to eat Andy pulls Miranda into a hug, nuzzling behind one ear. It feels so wonderful to hold Miranda in her arms. She sighs, feeling contentment steal over her. With a shy smile, Andy disengages and takes a seat.
They make quick work of the food and wine while discussing their day. Miranda is still astounded by the incompetence surrounding her. “At least Nigel didn’t behave as if he’d received a lobotomy over the weekend,” Miranda grouses as her finger rings the stemware top.
Andy shares her latest article on the brain studies and is pleasantly surprised to find that Miranda is extremely insightful. Andy supposes she shouldn’t be since Miranda has always made sure to know what is occurring in the world. Andy can’t help but wonder whether she will ever be able to keep up with Miranda. She frowns at the thought. How can she ever be worthy if she’s always running to keep up?
Miranda clears her throat, causing Andy to shake herself from such debilitating thoughts. “My daughters will be out of school in a month. They’ll be staying at the townhouse for most of the summer.” Miranda pauses to sip her wine. “They’d like to spend more time with you, if you are amenable.”
Andy grins. “I’d love to. Maybe we can catch a movie, or a show, or take a walk in the park, or…” Andy stops when she sees the expression on Miranda’s face. “What?”
“I—I,” Miranda stutters before taking a deep breath and letting it out. “Yes. That will be lovely. They’ll love it.” Miranda nods her head definitively.
“You’re welcome to join us, of course,” Andy says slowly while trying to figure out Miranda’s reaction. “Anytime, anywhere.” Andy stops again at Miranda’s reaction. “Miranda?”
Andy becomes nervous as she sees tears lurking in the corners of Miranda’s eyes. Her eyes shimmer as a tremulous smile is directed at Andy. “Thank you, Andrea.”
Not knowing what to do, Andy leaps out of her chair to clean up. Miranda seems a bit stunned when Andy takes their dishes into the small kitchen area. Upon her return to Miranda’s office, she notices that Miranda is standing next to the window, lost in thought.
Andy locks the door before joining Miranda, silently basking in the city lights and Miranda’s aura. “Do you need to return to work?” Miranda asks while continuing to look out the window.
“No, I brought the article with me so I can work at home.” Andy has no desire to leave Miranda, though. All that she has to look forward to tonight is an empty apartment, a lonely bed.
“You can work here,” Miranda suggests. Andy glows with happiness. Miranda wants her to stay.
“Okay.” Miranda nods and returns to her desk while Andy settles onto a comfortable chair in the far corner. Soon Andy is tapping the keyboard as thoughts flow through her mind. Every so often she lifts her head to gaze at Miranda. It seems so surreal to be sitting in her office late at night writing an article while Miranda reviews shots for the latest spread.
Finishing the article after another hour of work, Andy looks up to find azure eyes devouring her. Andy shivers. “I’m sorry. Was I keeping you here?” Andy asks.
“Not at all,” Miranda answers. She continues to study Andy before directing, “Come here.”
A few paces bring Andy in front of Miranda who grasps her hands firmly. Tilting her head Miranda says, “I’m glad you contacted me, Andrea. You’ve made my evening much better. It amazes me how just having you around helps me.” She looks around the office before focusing on Andy once more.
“Even when you worked for me, you always made everything more manageable,” Miranda murmurs. She lifts a hand to kiss Andy’s knuckles. “It wasn’t until after you left that I really began to understand what you meant to me.” Miranda stands from her chair, moving well into Andy’s space. “If you only knew how often I’ve imagined having you here with me, like this.”
Startled by the desire shining brightly in Miranda’s eyes, Andy can only think to do one thing. She leans forward oh-so-slowly to brush her lips against Miranda’s. Hearing her moan, Andy deepens the kiss all the while continuing to hold Miranda’s hands tightly in hers.
When the kiss ends, Miranda whispers, “I tried to forget you. I tried to move on.” Miranda breaks Andy’s hold so she can frame Andy’s shocked face. “You thought you were just another assistant walking through a revolving door, but it’s not true.” Their lips brush lightly, meshing erotically before Miranda pulls back just enough to see Andy’s face. “Don’t make me wait anymore, Andrea. Make me yours. Here.”
Andy’s eyes widen. She’s never been the aggressor in their sex life. She’s never initiated their lovemaking. But, Jesus, she has so many fantasies involving Miranda and this room from which to choose. Andy blinks then pulls Miranda to her roughly as her lips slam down on Miranda’s. She unbuttons Miranda’s blouse as she licks the inside of her mouth repeatedly. The noises Miranda makes drive Andy to distraction. Andy’s fingers shake as she parts the blouse, fingers skating over creamy skin.
Gently pushing Miranda against the desk, Andy replaces her fingers with her mouth, making her way down a heaving chest to lick the spaces between each rib.
“God,” Miranda exclaims. Miranda’s fingers cling to Andy’s shoulders as she squirms under Andy’s onslaught.
As cliché as it may seem, Andy has always wanted to make Miranda lose control on the desk. Andy smiles widely as her fingers squeeze two lace-encased nipples. Miranda’s breathless gasp makes Andy feel powerful.
Tonguing Miranda’s bellybutton while unzipping her skirt, Andy slides her fingers downward, taking skirt, hosiery, and panties with them. Lifting each foot as she kisses toned calves, Andy removes all items quickly before moving her head upward once more. “Do you like this?” Andy asks as she widens Miranda’s shaking legs and begins sucking on an inner thigh. She can smell Miranda’s arousal, can see how wet she is. Licking a stream of liquid, Andy stops short of touching its origin as she looks up.
Miranda’s eyes are wide and dark as they watch Andy. Mouth slightly open as her fingers flex restlessly on Andy’s upper back, she is the epitome of wantonness. “Do you?” Andy asks again, louder.
Miranda nods as she gulps. Andy rewards her by licking hard on her clitoris. Miranda shrieks and bucks. Rising, Andy ignores the sound of discontent as she grasps her lover’s hips and lifts her onto the desk. Stepping between Miranda’s legs, Andy takes control of Miranda’s mouth as she makes short work of the bra. Now Miranda is naked and exactly where Andy wants her. Palming Miranda’s heaving breasts, Andy pulls on tight nipples repeatedly as she thrusts her tongue into Miranda’s mouth again and again.
Sensing that Miranda is close, Andy breaks the kiss and whispers, “Do you know how many times I’ve fantasized about you here? Of taking you, of making you scream?” Hearing Miranda’s whimper, Andy sucks on her collarbone before licking up the neck column to an ear. “I’ve had you on every inch of this floor.” Miranda moans. “Against the windows, in your chair. But the best fantasies, those I can never forget, are when you are on this desk.” Andy gently lowers Miranda so she is prostrate, legs spread for her.
Gazing at Miranda, flushed and ready, Andy burns the image into her memory. Bending down, Andy begins licking and sucking, nibbling and blowing on every inch of Miranda’s sex. Andy holds Miranda’s hips in place, taking great pleasure in wringing responses from Miranda. As Miranda arches yet again, trying to place Andy’s tongue where she wants it, Andy inserts three fingers into the slippery channel and sucks on the clitoris. Miranda screams and begins to spasm as her release takes over. Andy pulls Miranda’s gyrating body closer to her mouth, determined to make the orgasm last. Continuing to thrust her fingers, Andy twists them, rubbing hard. Miranda screeches as another orgasm crashes over her.
Feeling Miranda’s body go limp, Andy stills her fingers and licks gently over the area. Looking up, she sees Miranda’s eyes closed as she takes deep breaths through her nose. Andy withdraws her fingers and licks them ravenously. Her body hums with need, but she doesn’t want to break the spell that has fallen over them. This stillness, this feeling of magic and power and love that blankets them. Andy smiles at how right it feels.
Miranda’s eyes open as she offers a lazy smile. “You’ve worn me out, Andrea.” Andy smiles wider. Sitting up slowly, Miranda’s eyebrow hitches as she peruses Andy’s attire. “In a hurry, were we?”
“I didn’t care to be distracted from loving you,” Andy admits as she shifts from foot to foot. They are very close to each other, so close Andy can feel heat roiling off Miranda’s beautiful body. She is hard-pressed not to take Miranda again. She feels her pulse jump at the thought.
Arms wrap around Andy’s waist pulling her as close as possible. Andy’s attention is diverted by legs wrapping along the back of her thighs and a hand guiding her face toward waiting lips. “Oh,” Andy breathes before she loses herself once more to Miranda’s siren call.
“I want to see you,” Miranda whispers throatily. Nimble fingers quickly divest her of her clothing while Miranda speaks softly. “I’ve never allowed anyone to take control before. Certainly not here. For me, sex has always been a source of power.” Miranda is now standing next to the desk as she unzips Andy’s slacks. Andy kicks off her shoes and steps out of her pants without breaking their gaze.
“Perhaps I never trusted anyone enough.” Miranda turns Andy so she is facing the desk. She presses her body against Andy’s back sensually as she places little kisses on the nape of Andy’s neck and across a flexing shoulder. Andy’s body trembles so much that she must lean forward to brace her hands against the desk. Miranda continues to kiss her back softly. “But I trust you, Andrea. I know you would never seek to hurt me.”
Andy agrees wholeheartedly. “Never. I’d rather hurt myself.”
“I know,” Miranda says, her voice stained with emotion.
When she feels Miranda move away, Andy starts to turn around.
“No. Stay exactly where you are,” Miranda directs. Andy whimpers her need. Soon, though, she feels Miranda’s body heat on her back once more and sighs. A cool hand is placed between her shoulder blades and pushes her forward gently. “Spread your legs, darling,” Miranda says. Andy is quick to comply.
Andy feels Miranda’s other hand squeezing her ass as lips glide down her spine. When Miranda’s hand slides into her wetness, Andy’s moans become long and loud. Andy pushes backward as Miranda drives two fingers into her. Andy’s chest becomes level with the desk as her ass pushes upward to meet Miranda’s rhythm.
“You are gorgeous, Andrea. So giving, so willing,” Miranda whispers. “Have you thought of this, Andrea? Of my fucking you here, like this?” Miranda demands in a stronger voice. Andy can only moan. Miranda inserts another finger and quickens her strokes. Andy feels the building of an enormous orgasm.
“Do you trust me, Andrea?” Miranda asks softly.
“With my life,” Andy declares in a shaky voice. She is so close she can taste it. Andy begins to protest when Miranda withdraws her fingers, then squeaks as she feels something pressing against her opening. A dildo? Has she been planning this? Andy’s body trembles at the thought.
Miranda grasps Andy’s hips firmly before entering the younger woman. “—Ung. Oh my God,” Andy groans. “Miranda, you feel incredible,” Andy wails. She can hear Miranda panting as she thrusts deeply, pulling out nearly completely before pushing forward once more. Each stroke hits Andy perfectly. She feels so filled that Andy cannot stop herself from begging.
“Miranda, please don’t stop. Don’t ever stop. Just like that, you feel so good,” Andy mumbles a litany of such words, loving how completely Miranda is taking her. Andy feels perspiration pool on her lower back as she listens to the sounds their bodies make as they pound together.
Miranda has sped up, and Andy can tell that her lover is close to another orgasm. This excites Andy so much that she begins to lose control. “Miranda, I’m going to, I can’t stop it, I—MIRANDA,” Andy screams as she is overwhelmed by wave after wave of ecstasy. Andy hears Miranda’s shouts of satisfaction as their bodies slap together for several more moments.
Finding herself flattened against the desk with Miranda plastered against her, Andy hums her pleasure. She has no desire to get up. Her body is exhausted. Turning her head to the side, she twists so she can capture Miranda’s lips. “I love you,” she whispers.
It is very possible that she blacks out for a few moments.
When she opens her eyes she realizes that Miranda has pulled out of her and is rubbing her back soothingly. When their eyes meet, Miranda says, “I love you, Andrea.” Andy feels her exhaustion swept away by joy. Pushing off the desk, Andy turns to embrace Miranda. She laughs, unable to contain her happiness. Smiling brightly, Andy gazes into glistening eyes.
“Thank you, Miranda. Thank you,” Andy says.
“For what?” Miranda asks.
“For loving me,” Andy answers. Kissing Miranda tenderly, Andy feels as if her entire world has changed. She supposes it has.
They clean up in silence. It is not necessarily uncomfortable, but it is full.
Once they are both clothed and their belongings packed, Miranda calls for the car. Touching Andy’s cheek gently, Miranda asks, “Come home with me, Andrea?” Andy nods.
And it’s as simple as that.
Chapter 11: The Romance: Part 2
The Romance: Part 2
Since the world turned on its axis when they declared their love, Andy has found herself spending much more time with Miranda. Every day they communicate somehow. It’s as if the floodgates had opened once Andy sent her first invitation to Miranda. Now it is common for them to email, text, and phone the other on a daily basis. Andy loves it.
With this change, Miranda has become more relaxed, going so far as to crack jokes at the most unexpected times. Andy often is privy to the humor readily apparent in the biography Miranda had created so long ago. Six months ago.
Andy sweeps her gaze across her apartment one more time, wanting the evening to be perfect. The first time Andy made dinner for Miranda at her apartment, it became a comedy of errors. To Andy‘s chagrin Miranda often teases her about that night. But it wasn’t her fault. The woman is a menace.
As Andy concentrated on cooking stir fry, Miranda came up from behind to wrap strong arms around her. Andy immediately thought of a few days earlier when they were in virtually the same position. Andy shivered and flushed, embarrassed by how easily Miranda affected her.
“No need to be embarrassed,” Miranda said as her hold tightened. “I loved doing that to you, and I promise we will do it again. Soon.” Miranda kissed Andy’s neck, causing Andy to rest her head on Miranda’s shoulder as hands slid up her torso, cupping her breasts. Andy got lost in the feelings of lips caressing her neck, teeth nibbling her earlobe, and fingers rolling her nipples. Andy felt herself toeing the edge, ready to explode as the memory of their encounter in Miranda’s office overlaid the stimulation she was receiving at that moment.
That’s when the fire alarm went off. After a few moments, the shrill whistle broke through Andy’s haze of desire. Looking down at the wok, Andy stared in disbelief at the smoking ruin formerly known as their meal. “Shit!” Andy exclaimed as she removed the pan from the stove and dumped it into the sink. Finding a chair, Andy climbed up to silence the alarm.
“Well,” Miranda drawled. “Not much of a cook, are you?” she teased.
“I was distracted,” Andy huffed, hands on her hips.
The night had only become progressively worse. Or funnier, depending on one’s point of view.
Much later, Andy covered Miranda’s body with her own on the sofa, kissing Miranda passionately. Needing to feel more skin, Andy blindly moved her hands to support herself on either side of Miranda’s body. Only her left hand found no purchase, toppling her off the furniture with a whoosh.
Lying on the floor a bit dazed, Andy heard rich laughter ring throughout the room. Opening her eyes and leaning against her elbows, Andy felt her eyebrows fly off her forehead as she witnessed Miranda laughing so hard that she held her arms across her stomach.
“Ouch,” Andy said grouchily. Talk about killing the mood. Miranda only laughed harder.
“Oh, Andrea, really,” Miranda gasped. Andy plunked back onto the floor, thoroughly put out. But she couldn’t help smiling, too. She’d never heard Miranda laugh like that. It was addictive.
Just those two incidents would have been memorable enough but, no. Andy needed to perform the trifecta of embarrassing events. Not one to ever give up on a challenge, Andy topped herself with one more regrettably unforgettable act that night. Flustered by the ruined dinner and interrupted lovemaking, Andy had begun to sulk.
They had settled down to work while listening to the silky strands of jazz. Andy tried to concentrate, but the night just wasn’t progressing the way she’d imagined.
That’s when she got a bright idea. “Wanna play strip poker?”
“Strip poker?” Miranda enunciated slowly. A predatory smile covered Miranda’s face. “Are you sure, Andrea?” She slowly trailed her eyes over Andy.
Okay, well, sure, Andy was wearing a dress while Miranda’s pant suit bespoke more bargaining chips, but Andy used to play poker every week for years. How bad could it be?
Less than an hour later Andy was able to answer that question. She could hardly look at that smirking face as she removed her panties—her last betting piece. Miranda remained fully clothed.
Hearing Miranda clear her throat, Andy pouted as she dared to look up. “You are adorable,” Miranda murmured. Andy pressed her lips together. She didn’t want to feel better. The entire night had been a bust. “It is during such times I find myself falling more in love with you. Let me prove it to you,” Miranda offered.
Perhaps the night hasn’t been ruined.
It turned out the night only became better. Much better.
Andy sings under her breath as she removes dinner from the oven. She’s cooked meals for Miranda several times over the last couple of months and twice for Caroline and Cassidy. Tonight, though, it’s just the two of them.
Most of their meals are at Miranda’s home—quite the change from eating at restaurants. Once they began texting and calling each other, though, it seemed natural to share more meals together in a private setting. On many occasions Andy has arrived at Miranda’s home directly after work. After eating, they tend to settle into the den where Andy writes her articles and Miranda completes Runway work. It is all rather homey and comfortable. When their workload is light, they push off work until the Book arrives, preferring to use the time to kiss.
And what a kisser Miranda is.
Never before has Andy spent hours merely making out. Every part of Miranda intoxicates Andy. She is drunk on Miranda. Amazingly, Miranda seems to be just as enthralled.
Thinking back, Andy can pinpoint the first night they indulged in a kissing session. About six weeks ago, Andy arrived at Miranda’s house after a hard day at work. Her interviews had been wastes of her time, her feet were aching from pounding the pavement, and she really didn’t feel up to anything more than eating and sleeping.
Miranda has always been able to read Andy like an open book, and that night proved to be no exception.
They ate in relative silence. It soothed Andy’s frazzled nerves. If she hadn’t felt the absolute need to see Miranda, to feel those addictive arms encircling her for at least a few moments, she would have canceled altogether. Instead Andy’s mind kept rehashing her crappy day as she picked at her food. Normally she loved this meal—chicken piccata. That night, though, nothing interested her. Certainly not the idea of working on an article that was proving to be a dead-end.
Looking up from her plate, Andy saw concerned eyes gazing at her. Andy tried to smile, but she feared it turned out to be more of a grimace. Pressing her lips together, Andy sighed. “Maybe I should go. I’m not very good company tonight,” Andy said quietly.
“Nonsense. I’m glad you are here,” Miranda replied firmly. Andy nodded and looked back at her plate.
A hand covered hers, causing Andy to look up once more as Miranda pulled her out of the chair. “Am I correct in assuming you are done eating?” Miranda asked as she led Andy into the den.
“Yes. I’m sorry, Miranda,” Andy began.
“No apologies. Everyone has bad days, even you.” Gently pushing Andy onto the couch and removing Andy’s shoes, Miranda sat down next to her. “Do you care to discuss what’s bothering you?” Miranda asked as she ran fingers through Andy’s hair.
“Not really,” Andy sighed. What could she say? Her story sucked, everyone she interviewed sucked, her life sucked? Andy felt strong fingers massaging her skull and closed her eyes in bliss.
“All right. Why don’t you try to put it from your mind then?” Miranda suggested.
“I’ll try,” Andy muttered, thinking that if Miranda continued what she was doing, she just might be able to.
“I’ll help you,” Miranda whispered before delivering light kisses along Andy’s jaw. Andy sank into the couch as her body melted under such loving ministrations. One delicate hand stroked her cheek while the other talented hand continued to rub away the stress trapped at the top of her head. Andy sighed again.
Pliant lips found hers, lightly brushing once, twice, before barely pressing against Andy’s lips. As if they had all the time in the world, Miranda moved her lips slowly, mesmerizing Andy. She swallowed reflexively as fingers pulled her closer and Miranda’s hot mouth breathed life back into her. Opening her own mouth, Andy moaned her pleasure. Breathing through her nose, Andy touched her tongue to Miranda’s and nearly smiled as Miranda shivered her response.
Their tongues frolicked joyfully for endless minutes, hours, days, while Miranda’s fingers continued to massage and worship Andy’s head. Although a dull throbbing between Andy’s thighs had begun as soon as their lips had met, Miranda took care not to escalate their kisses into a precursor for making love. Andy read Miranda’s intentions clearly and loved the woman even more for such treatment. Whenever their kisses became too probing, too passionate, Miranda would pull back and begin the process of gentle kissing once again.
Taking Miranda’s cues, Andy explored Miranda’s mouth thoroughly. Andy became lost in the texture of her tongue, the pressure of her lips, the taste of her breath. She reveled in the openness Miranda demonstrated.
Much later Andy couldn’t help but wonder how she’d come to be lying on her back with Miranda resting on top of her. Running her fingers through Miranda’s iconic hair, Andy grinned. Maybe life didn’t suck after all. “Thank you,” Andy whispered. She felt Miranda kiss the hollow of her throat in answer.
Andy grins at the memory. They’ve had three other make-out sessions, and Andy cherishes them all.
Hearing the door open, Andy smiles before turning around. “Perfect timing,” Andy greets Miranda. She quirks an eyebrow haughtily as her eyes rove over Andy’s attire. Andy stands very still for the inspection. She is wearing True Religion jeans and a Donna Karan blouse. Andy watches Miranda’s eyes darken in appreciation. Andy shivers as goose bumps break out on her arms. Miranda’s hold on her no longer surprises Andy. Nor does her visceral reaction to merely a look.
“Darling,” Miranda says. Sometimes Andy wonders how Miranda is able to say so much with one word. Like now. That one word drips affection and attraction, relief and desire. That coupled with the look causes Andy to feel weak and powerful.
“What concoction are you springing on me tonight?” Miranda asks as she covers the space between them. Before she can answer, Andy finds luscious lips demanding her attention. “Mmm,” Miranda purrs. Andy feels arms wrapping around her waist as she automatically returns the kiss.
Breaking the kiss reluctantly, Andy steps back and shoots a stern look at Miranda. “Oh no you don’t. I spent hours slaving over a hot stove for you,” Andy admonishes cheekily. She really hasn’t, but based on this greeting, Andy recognizes she will want to eat to keep up with Miranda’s libido. “Sit down, sweetheart,” Andy invites as she begins to dish out their meal.
Miranda’s smirk lets Andy know she isn’t insulted. They eat their halibut in relative silence while holding each other’s gazes and brushing fingers every so often. Andy feels warmth suffuse her. She loves this woman so much. Although they do not voice such feelings often, Andy knows that their lack of verbal expression does not mean they aren’t present. Andy can feel the sexual tension building as they finish their meal. Dabbing her lips daintily, Miranda rounds the table and pulls Andy to her. “I’ve waited long enough,” Andy hears Miranda mutter just as their lips crash together. Andy moans her agreement.
Without quite knowing how it has occurred, Andy finds herself naked and gasping against the counter while Miranda feasts on her breasts. Miranda is ravenous. She chews on a nipple as her hands knead Andy’s ass. “I thought of you all day,” Miranda murmurs as she pulls on the abused nub. Fingers skate across Andy’s crease causing her to buck. “Sometimes I can hardly stop myself from kidnapping you from that rag and having my way with you for hours. And hours.”
The thought that Miranda might want her that much thrills Andy. Shuddering, Andy swings Miranda around and lifts her onto the counter. Quickly Andy rips Miranda’s blouse over her head and removes the lacy bra, intent on devouring her. Miranda’s sounds, the low moans and breathless whimpers, urge Andy to continue. Even as she licks and sucks a breast, Andy’s hands go to work on Miranda’s slacks. Distractedly, Andy hears shoes clunk onto the floor as she slides the pants over toned legs.
“God, you are so sexy,” Andy mumbles as she focuses on soaked panties. Miranda instinctively widens her legs as she attempts to pull Andy closer. Andy resists. “No.” Andy leans down to lick Miranda’s clitoris through the semitransparent panties. Andy hears a dull thunk as Miranda cants her pelvis toward Andy’s mouth. Mouthing the entire area, Andy grasps Miranda’s legs and pulls up slightly so she fits tightly. Restless hands travel across her back as Andy continues to lick and suck Miranda through the soaked fabric. “You are irresistible.”
“Please, please,” Andy hears Miranda beg. She will not relent, though. Andy has thought about this all day, too. As she continues to slowly torture Miranda, one hand dips down to circle Miranda’s opening through those wet panties, thrusting just enough to make Miranda’s ramblings become more urgent. “Andrea, what are you doing to me? I need you, darling,” she says breathlessly. Andy tweaks one breast mercilessly in response. She loves how Miranda thrusts against her face, her fingers, how her body arches toward her. Miranda’s hands hold Andy’s head tightly against Miranda’s center as she attempts to rub herself more firmly against Andy’s mouth.
Finally relenting, Andy removes the panties and firmly enters Miranda with three fingers as she begins sucking rhythmically on the swollen clitoris. Miranda shrieks as her orgasm overtakes her. Not slowing her ministrations, Andy continues to thrust into Miranda as she pins the older woman’s hips down against the counter. Miranda’s head is tipped backward, leaning against the upper cabinets as she shrieks again, louder, and meets each of Andy’s thrusts forcefully. “Andrea!” she yells as her body rides wave after wave until her body melts into a slightly twitching mess.
Andy gazes at Miranda, at the hand thrown over her eyes, sweat-drenched hair, and glistening body. God, she’s beautiful. “You are gorgeous,” Andy says in awe. She feels Miranda take a deep breath as she watches Miranda remove her hand to reveal an intense stare. She looks hungry. Very hungry. Andy helps Miranda down from the counter.
Miranda frames Andy’s face with shaking hands as she continues to stare. “What you do to me, Andrea, how you make me feel.” Miranda shakes her head, seeming bewildered. Andy watches her closely. Andy is still getting used to being the aggressor when they have sex. She is a bit surprised to find that she loves being in control, loves stripping Miranda of her formidable presence. During such times, Andy feels they are evenly matched.
Andy smiles softly. “I love you, Miranda. Thank you for trusting me.” Andy leans in to kiss receptive lips. Andy hums contentedly as hands travel down her arms to her waist. The kiss is slow, intense. When it ends, Andy feels like swooning. Without a word Miranda leads her to the bed where she loves Andy so painstakingly, Andy feels well cherished. Lying together, Andy’s mind sluggishly reviews the day as Miranda’s fingers, stroking through her hair, work their magic.
“Have you arranged for vacation time at the end of the month?” Miranda asks out of nowhere.
“Why would I do that?” Andy asks, receiving raised eyebrows and a glare.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You have had my schedule for months,” Miranda says. She sits up against the headboard and stares at Andy incredulously.
“Was I asleep when you asked me to go on vacation with you?” Andy questions.
“What are you implying?” Miranda responds bitingly.
“I’m not implying anything,” Andy says as she sits up, too. “I’m saying that this is the first time you’ve mentioned anything about our going on vacation together.” Andy crosses her arms. Really, how the hell is she supposed to know what Miranda wants?
“If you were so confused, why didn’t you ask?”
“Why didn’t you?” Andy shoots back.
After a loaded silence, Miranda looks away. Andy notices stained cheeks and feels vindicated. “I am asking you now,” Miranda says in an even voice.
Although Andy recognizes this is as close as she’ll get to Miranda admitting she may have made a mistake, Andy is feeling contrary. “What if I don’t have enough vacation time left?” Miranda’s head swings around. Andy sees the critical look and shrinks back.
“When did you go on vacation?” Miranda demands.
“In January,” Andy admits. “To visit my parents.” Under the weight of Miranda’s stare, Andy expands. “It was just for a couple of days.”
“Why is it you never speak of them?” Miranda asks.
Andy doesn’t want to talk about her parents. She shrugs. “So where is this vacation I was supposed to pencil in?” Andy says brightly. Miranda stares hard at her. Andy tries to maintain the stare without blinking. She blinks.
“Andrea,” Miranda says in a low voice.
The younger woman sighs. Right. Of course, she won’t let this go. “We haven’t had the best relationship. It’s been rocky for a while.” Andy looks out the window. She really doesn’t want to discuss this.
“What is awhile?” Miranda asks. Andy shakes her head and crosses her arms. She feels a hand slide over her forearm and worm inward. Andy relents, allowing Miranda to take her hand.
“Years,” Andy sighs. “We had a falling out right after I left Runway.”
“Right after you left me,” Miranda corrects.
“Miranda,” Andy says, feeling tired. She tries to pull her hand away, but Miranda does not permit it.
“Why did you have a falling out?” Miranda continues.
“I was not myself. They thought once I left Runway I would be the old Andy again. Instead Nate and I broke up for good, I began working at the Mirror, and I was, I don’t know, despondent. I just didn’t have the energy to pretend everything was fine.” Andy begins to trace an imaginary pattern on the sheet. “I was unhappy. Lonely. I missed— Life was not unfolding as I wished.”
“And they noticed?” Miranda prods.
Andy snorts. “Oh, yes. They noticed. And they figured out what was really troubling me. They said some horrible things, some hurtful, unforgivable things. So, I stopped talking to them for a couple of years. If it weren’t for Natalie, she’s my older sister, getting married, I still might not be talking to them.” Andy glances at Miranda, noting her contemplative look. “Our relationship has never recovered.”
Lost in the memories, Andy starts when Miranda says, “What was the falling out about?” Andy shakes her head. She doesn’t want to tell Miranda it was about her. “Andrea?” Miranda asks. Andy sets her jaw and tucks her head. Gentle fingers lift her chin, turning her face toward the older woman. “Tell me,” Miranda urges softly.
“It was about you,” Andy admits.
Miranda gasps, shock clearly showing on her face. “Me?”
“I missed you.” Andy doesn’t know how else to explain. She had missed Miranda desperately.
“Why didn’t you contact me?”
“After leaving you in Paris?” Andy responds dubiously. “Didn’t we have this conversation about six months ago?” Andy cracks a smile. Really, they were hopeless. It’s a wonder they ever got together.
Miranda glares, but there’s little heat attached. In direct contrast to the look, Miranda’s voice is velvety. “Come on vacation with me, Andrea.”
“Okay.” Silence. “Where?” The glare Andy receives is not faked. Andy grins. “How am I supposed to pack?” Andy asks as she tilts her head and bats her eyes.
With a theatrical sigh, Miranda waves her hand negligently as she says, “The weather is comparable to here. Bring a bathing suit. And a passport. That’s all you’ll get, so don’t try.”
“Right.” Andy nods docilely. Miranda rolls her eyes.
Chapter 12: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
“You’re eating dinner with Miranda now?” Nigel starts their conversation. Andy hasn’t even sat down yet. It’s a week before Miranda is to whisk her away—somewhere—and Andy is extremely excited. Once settled, Andy takes a deep breath. She had discussed this eventuality with Miranda just the other morning at breakfast after seeing Miranda’s smile and her own laughing face peering at her from Page Six.
They had been surprised not to have found themselves in the newspaper more often. Andy could only remember two other occasions. With this picture, though, they could only expect more attention. It told the world that they were close. Everyone wanted to know just how close.
Knowing Nigel would ask, Andy had looked to Miranda for guidance on how to handle his questions. She had been no help at all. Miranda had raised an eyebrow and directed Andy to say what she wished.
Andy smiles brightly, “It’s great to see you, Nigel. How are you? Getting ready for Paris?”
Nigel scowls as he points a finger at Andy. “Don’t you try to change the subject. How long has this been going on?”
“It was just dinner, Nigel. No big deal.” Of course, it is a very big deal. Three nights ago neither had wanted to cook so they had eaten at the Essex House. Andy didn’t have much experience with French cuisine, but all the food tasted heavenly.
The photograph reflects two happy women sharing a joke. Since the rest of the world believes Miranda does not know how to smile, never mind laugh, everyone has been plaguing Andy with questions. It’s easy to brush off colleagues. Not so much a friend.
“No big deal?” Nigel’s voice rises. “She was smiling. I can count on my left hand the number of times I’ve seen her smile.” He raises his hand dramatically and wiggles his fingers. “Spill it, Six.”
Seeing Nigel’s determined expression, Andy concedes. “Okay. Yeah. We’ve been keeping in touch since the Sassy article. You knew that already.” Andy picks up a menu and begins to study the lunch entrees. Hearing the crickets chirping, Andy realizes that Nigel is not going to let this go. Lowering her menu just enough to see, Andy gazes into disbelieving eyes. “What?”
“Since Sassy? You’ve been meeting since Sassy?” Nigel asks in a choked voice.
Did I say that? Andy wonders. How did he get that? Shit!
“Um, yes?” Andy says weakly. Andy begins to fidget under his stare. “Okay. Okay. We have been spending time together. I—I”
“Oh my God! Are you two—don’t tell me…” Nigel’s voice fades as he slouches into his chair. “Are you two involved?” he whispers.
Andy has a decision to make. She can’t help but believe she can trust him. They are friends, after all, and he has stuck by Miranda through thick and thin. She owes him the truth. Andy nods slowly, then watches Nigel with concern as his face bleeds off all color. Scooting forward in her chair, Andy leans on the table and says urgently, “Nigel? Are you okay?”
“Am I, am I okay?” Nigel shakes his head as if he has just received the mother of all punches right on his nose. He pauses to clean his glasses with his napkin before refocusing on Andy. “How serious is this?”
“Well, I spend time with her daughters, we have the key to each other’s homes, we’re going on vacation next week, and we spend every spare moment together. So, yeah, it’s pretty serious.” Andy grins suddenly. “I love her. As impossible as it sounds.”
Nigel stares at her as if he has never seen her before. “You love her?”
“I do. I don’t think I could go a day without talking to her.” Andy shrugs. “She’s everything to me. It’s amazing I was able to function without her in my life for so long.”
“I see.” Before Nigel can say more, the waiter arrives to take their order. When Nigel looks at her again, he seems calmer. “I should have realized something was happening. Miranda has been different for a while. Not smiling and laughing, of course, but more tolerant, calmer.” He sips his drink. Running his fingers up and down the glass methodically while his eyes sport a faraway look, he seems to be talking to himself. “Against all odds it seems you’ve tamed our dragon. She’s quite a complex lady.” Nigel pins Andy with a gaze. “And so, it would seem, are you.”
Andy laughs nervously. She’s never seen Nigel like this. “Well, I’d like to think I am more than two-dimensional.”
“And so you are. She always saw something in you. She was much more patient. I could never figure out why.”
Nigel smirks. Lifting up his glass, he toasts, “To the complexities in life. May you both never run out of things to discover in each other.” They clink glasses with mirroring smiles.
“Does your family know?” Nigel asks as they munch their salads.
“No. Although with us appearing in the newspapers, it’s only a matter of time.” Andy glumly spears a spinach leaf.
“They won’t approve, I take it,” Nigel says.
“No. Not at all.” Andy peers at Nigel briefly. “It’s not the same-sex part. It’s the fact that I am with Miranda. They won’t understand.”
“You may want to tell them before the press does it for you,” Nigel advises. Andy knows he’s right. “So. Vacation, huh? I can’t remember the last time she took one. I knew something was fishy. I thought she was going with her daughters, but this is so much juicier.” Nigel rubs his hands together in anticipation. “Where are you going?”
“I have no idea.” At Nigel’s skeptical look, she adds, “I’m serious. All she will tell me is that the weather is comparable to here and to bring a bathing suit. And my passport.”
“Tropical. You’re going somewhere tropical. Jesus. She’s getting romantic. For you.” Nigel tilts his head considering Andy for several moments. “You’ll need some clothes. Meet me tomorrow night at the Closet. Nine p.m. She’ll be meeting with Demarchelier about the fall layout. She’s been working like a horse to get everything done.”
“I know,” Andy moans. “We’ve hardly seen each other. The other night was last minute. It will be worth it, though. An entire week alone. With no work.” Andy waves a finger at Nigel. “I’m counting on you to hold down the fort. No emergencies, no crises. She needs to relax.” Andy stares at Nigel sternly. She’s dead serious.
“I’ll do my best, Six,” Nigel replies cordially, not taking offense. “Besides, it’s not every day La Priestly falls in love and takes a vacation. Lord knows I’ve never seen the two together. And now knowing what I know and reviewing how she’s acted over the last six months I can’t help but wonder whether I’ve ever really seen her in love before.” Nigel rubs his chin.
“Well, the feeling is entirely mutual. All I want to do is make her happy,” Andy says quietly.
“Keep doing what you’re doing, Six. It seems to be what she needs.” Andy smiles gratefully. After a not-too-uncomfortable silence, they move onto other subjects. Before parting ways, Nigel kisses her cheek and holds her at arm’s-length. “You really are something else, Six.”
Andy sees admiration in his eyes and cannot stop the wide smile that takes over her face. “She is, too. If you only knew.”
“I’m starting to, Six. I’m starting to.” With a jaunty wave he says, “See you tomorrow night.”
Instead of returning to the apartment, Andy decides to head toward Miranda’s home. Miranda had urged her to do so, insisting it doesn’t matter whether or not she is present for Andy to be there. Andy feels happiness well up within her chest.
Entering the quiet townhouse Andy decides to set up in the home office and work on an article that’s due at the end of the week. Like Miranda, Andy is under the gun to finish all her assignments so nothing will interrupt their vacation.
Looking around for Posts-Its® to use while reviewing some government documents regarding the Making Homes Affordable program, Andy opens up the top desk drawer. Inside Andy sees a framed photograph of them. Picking it up, Andy recognizes it as the picture taken of them outside of the Essex House and smiles. Miranda really is a romantic. Tracing Miranda’s face with a finger, Andy remembers their conversation when the picture was taken.
“What a lovely night,” Andy exclaimed as she felt a spring breeze rifle through her hair gently.
“Mmm, it certainly is,” Miranda agreed. “I’m glad you were able to leave work a bit early.”
Turning toward Miranda, Andy grinned. “As if you had any doubt! You know you need only crook your sexy finger and I’ll come running,” Andy laughed.
Miranda’s eyes sparkled with humor as her lips curled upward. “That’s not all I intend to do with this finger,” she replied seductively. A true smile covered her face as she watched Andy blush. Andy laughed again.
Shaking her head, Andy shivers in remembrance. She places the photograph prominently on the desk with a smile. Finding what she needs, Andy gets back to work.
Several hours later Andy wakes up to the feel of a silky arm sliding over her waist as delicate lips rest briefly on her neck.
“Darling,” Miranda murmurs.
Andy runs her hand down Miranda’s forearm and rests it on top of hers. “Hello, love,” Andy says as she moves her head back to rest on Miranda's shoulder to provide better access. “How was your day?” Andy asks softly.
“Better now,” Andy hears as she turns around in the comfortable bed. Pulling Miranda closer, Andy winds her arms around Miranda’s small waist and kisses her slowly. “Mmm. Much better,” Miranda breathes.
“I’m glad you’re home,” Andy says before snuggling into her beloved’s chest. After squeezing Miranda and delivering a kiss to her sternum, Andy falls back to sleep, content that all is right with the world. Her world. The one that revolves around Miranda.
The next morning Andy is awakened by soft lips trailing down her chest as hands knead her breasts. Andy moans, overwhelmed by a wave of arousal. “Miranda?” Andy squeaks as she looks down her torso to see a silver bob moving while a tongue flicks into her bellybutton.
“Were you expecting someone else, Andrea?” Miranda drawls with a smirk before sucking a tender spot on Andy’s abdomen. Andy wiggles at the sensation. Miranda begins to pluck at Andy’s nipples, twisting and rolling them, as her mouth attacks the brunette’s belly.
Andy lets out a shaky breath as she attempts to not thrust her pelvis upward. Instead she massages Miranda’s shoulders, loving the approving noises Miranda makes as she continues her loving assault. “Jesus, Miranda!” Andy pants as Miranda licks the hollow of her hipbone. Miranda looks up, a devilish look on her face as a lock of hair falls across one eye. That does not hide the raised eyebrows or flashing teeth as she smiles fully.
Andy widens her legs so Miranda can rest comfortably between them. Miranda takes a stiff nipple into her mouth, humming as she sucks forcefully. The younger woman can no longer control her body’s movements, focusing only on how good Miranda makes her feel. Not wanting to let Miranda have all the fun, Andy runs her hands down Miranda’s back and takes a firm hold of slim hips. Andy pulls Miranda toward one leg, and Miranda doesn’t hesitate to slide onto a toned thigh while switching her attention to the other breast.
“You have such lovely breasts, Andrea,” Miranda coos as she licks one roughly. Andy groans, watching that talented tongue lave her breast with long strokes. “You are a very beautiful woman,” she says, pausing her feasting to capture Andy’s eyes. “I love how you make me feel.”
Andy feels pleasure well within her. Miranda isn’t one for romantic words, but when she speaks in this way, Andy knows she is completely serious. Andy doesn’t try to stop the smile that bursts from within.
Reaching down while her other hand rests on the small of Miranda’s back, Andy’s fingers slide through copious moisture into her center easily. Miranda begins to thrust onto Andy’s fingers as her slim fingers fill Andy. Andy lifts a leg to wrap around Miranda’s waist while grinding her palm against Miranda’s clitoris. Listening to Miranda gasp and moan feeds into Andy’s responses. Just before they climax, Miranda mutters, “I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of you.”
“I’m yours for as long as you want,” Andy answers before slamming her eyes closed and screeching her pleasure. Miranda’s yell of triumph mingles with Andy’s voice as they move in tandem. Eyes still closed, Andy begins to laugh.
“Hmm?” Miranda voices as she licks a bead of sweat between Andy’s breasts.
“I love waking up with you,” Andy laughs, receiving a bright smile in return.
“I love it, too,” Miranda admits. Andy runs her fingers through sweaty locks as her heartbeat begins to slow. After a few minutes of pleasant silence, Miranda says, “Shower?”
As if there is any doubt.
Chapter 13: The Vacation
Andy breathes in the ocean air as she leans against the balcony railing and grins in satisfaction. This is absolutely perfect. The hotel, located on the Gros Islet at St. Lucia, is exclusive. Beautiful. Luxurious. So Miranda. Their suite reflects opulence and wealth. Miranda has spared no expense. Miranda seems to delight in Andy’s reactions to each new experience. Andy sighs, feeling all her worries fall away. They need this week together. A week to connect and relax without the normal stresses dogging their heels.
“Ready to go?” a breathy voice asks. Turning toward Miranda with a nod and a ready smile, Andy’s smile turns into an “O,” much like some cartoon character’s face might make when viewing the most striking, incredible sight one could never anticipate. “See something you like?” Miranda’s smoky voice surrounds Andy as she tries to find enough saliva to lick her lips.
“Wow,” Andy mutters. Louder, Andy says, “You look, you look, oh my God. I am the most fortunate woman alive.” Andy shakes her head, at a loss to find the right words. “Breathtaking, Miranda.”
Miranda’s soft laughter lets Andy off the hook. Andy feels strong fingers grasp her hand to pull her gently toward the door. “Let’s go before your eyes swallow me up. It would be a shame to miss such a glorious night. Let’s eat. I’m ravenous.” Miranda eyes her lasciviously. “And you’ll need it.”
They spend the next day at the spa and that night at another exclusive restaurant before making love until they fall asleep well-sated. Once they awake to bright sunlight filtering through their bedroom suite, they rent a yacht and are catered to like royalty as they sunbathe, frolic with the dolphins, and discuss whatever enters their minds.
“Andrea, have you told anyone about our relationship?”
“Just Nigel,” Andy answers as she continues to apply suntan lotion on Miranda’s pale shoulders. Andy doesn’t want Miranda to get burned. Rubbing in the white cream evenly, Andy doesn’t hesitate to kiss the shell of Miranda’s ear before returning to her task.
“No one else? Your family? Friends?” Miranda continues.
“No one else,” Andy confirms.
Miranda turns her head to deliver a questioning look and says, “Why?”
“I didn’t know whether that would be okay with you, I suppose.” Andy shrugs. “It doesn’t bother me, Miranda.” Andy wonders at the look on Miranda’s face.
“Are you ashamed to be with me, Andrea?” Miranda asks as she turns more in her lounge chair to face Andy squarely.
“Ashamed? Of you?” Andy hears her voice rise. She lets loose a nervous laugh. “Miranda, that’s ridiculous. I love you. I, I’m the one,” Andy points to herself, “I’m not worthy here. I’m woefully less than what you deserve. I can never,” Andy spreads her hands helplessly, “hope to give you what you need—I”
“I don’t expect you to provide for me, Andrea,” Miranda responds derisively. “That’s not what I need from you.” Miranda stares at Andy. “I’ve let you into my life. Don’t you understand what that means?”
“I know you are a very private person,” Andy says slowly, her mind working overtime to figure out why Miranda seems hurt. “I feel privileged to be with you. I am grateful for any time we spend together.”
“Maybe that’s the problem.” Miranda gazes across the water pensively. “Many can tell you that it’s no privilege to be with me—”
“Then they don’t know you,” Andy interjects hotly. Miranda places a placating hand on Andy’s arm, stopping her from saying more.
“Andrea, you don’t need to be of the same economic standing, you don’t need to be at the same place in your career, you don’t need to be anyone other than who you are. I don’t love you for whom you might become one day. I certainly don’t want you to feel grateful or that it is some great privilege to be with me.” Miranda takes Andy’s hands into hers, looking down at them before continuing.
“I believe I have loved you since the day you walked into my office, that day when you had no idea who I was.” Miranda looks up, eyes sparkling. “The next day when you appeared in that hideous cerulean sweater cinched it.” Miranda smirks before her face takes on a serious expression. “I was bereft when you left me in Paris. I nearly tracked you down.” Miranda runs her fingers over Andy’s shaking hands. “But I thought it would be better to let you go. You deserved better than what I could offer you. I had no idea you harbored similar feelings.”
“I want you to understand that if anyone should feel grateful, it is me. I was given a second chance. And every moment we have shared together has made me feel as if I am the privileged one in this relationship.” One hand cups Andy’s cheek. “I am not ashamed to be seen with you. I want you in my life. Tell whomever you wish.” Miranda smiles at Andy’s shocked expression and kisses Andy’s nose. “Clear?” Andy nods dumbly.
Miranda takes the bottle of lotion and turns Andy toward the ocean view. Moments pass as Andy is lulled by the motion of the yacht and strong hands massaging her back. “What did they say to you?” Miranda asks softly. Andy tilts her head in question. “Your parents. What did they say that was so terrible you stopped talking to them?”
Andy sighs. Thinking about it still hurts. Yet she knows Miranda has the right to know, particularly since their relationship will be revealed to them soon. “Where to begin,” Andy muses. “Well, they were shocked and disappointed with me. They were sickened with how inconsolable I was, particularly since they felt that I was treated like your personal slave. They believed there must be something seriously wrong with me to miss a person who used me as her verbal punching bag.” Andy stops recounting when she hears Miranda suck in a deep breath.
“I’m sorry, Miranda. They only knew how hard I worked and how high your expectations were. They didn’t know you the way I did. They didn’t see what I saw.” Andy places her hand on one of Miranda’s, currently resting on her shoulder. “You mesmerized me.” Turning, Andy looks into upset eyes. “You still do. I honestly don’t know how to live without you.” Andy laughs humorlessly. “I was doing a lousy job before you invited me to dinner seven months ago.” Andy smiles. “And I’ve been the happiest woman on this planet since then.” Andy relaxes when she sees the answering smile in Miranda’s eyes.
“So, you chose me when you didn’t even have me,” Miranda says.
“Damn right. And now that we’re together, you’ll never get rid of me.”
“Well. That happens to coincide with my plans perfectly,” Miranda flirts.
“You have plans?” Andy flirts back.
“Oh, yes. Big plans, Andrea. Just you wait,” Miranda answers mysteriously before reclining on her chair and closing her eyes.
“Tease!” Andy says.
Miranda opens her eyes. “I assure you, I am entirely serious.” With a smirk, she closes her eyes and places sunglasses daintily onto her nose. That’s all.
Three more days of lavish accommodations and carefree relaxation cause Andy to say, “Miranda we’re going to have to do this again.” Andy gazes at Miranda as they sip wine on the balcony.
“We certainly will. I intend to work on that list of places you’ve never visited.” Miranda’s lips quirk in amusement at the dumbfounded look Andy sports. “What are your plans for your birthday?”
“My birthday?” Andy says in surprise. Miranda rolls her eyes. “Right. Um. My parents are insisting on visiting.”
“Really. Perhaps we can all meet for dinner on that night.” Miranda stares at Andy waiting for her response.
Not a question, Andy thinks in a daze. “Do you think that’s a good idea? They won’t have very long to get used to the idea, and I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.” Andy stops when Miranda laughs mockingly.
“Me? Uncomfortable? Really, Andrea. Are you forgetting who I am? How others react to me?” Andy can tell Miranda is not going to let this go. “Andrea,” she says in a gentler voice. “I want to spend your birthday with you. I promise to play nice. Besides, don’t you think it’s time we met?”
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” Andy says morosely. “I do want to spend my birthday with you. I do. I just,” Andy shrugs, “they can be tough.”
“Tell me, Andrea. Are they staying in a hotel?” At Andy’s nod, Miranda continues. “Good. No matter how they behave, no matter what words they hurl in our direction, at the end of the night you will be in my arms. Keep that in mind. I know I will,” Miranda says drily.
Andy can’t help but chuckle. “Okay.” Silence. “Where are we going?” Miranda lifts an eyebrow. “Right.” She’s a romantic. Miranda smirks. Did I say that out loud?
Chapter 14: Dancing with the Devil
Dancing with the Devil
Telling her parents about Miranda was as horrible as Andy had anticipated. Her parents had learned from their last falling out, however. They swallowed their initial responses and asked to call back after they processed the information that Andy had been dating Miranda for eight months.
Andy didn’t hear from them for a week. She had begun to believe that Miranda would have Andy all to herself when her parents finally called to confirm their travel plans. The conversation was painfully brief.
“Are we to understand that we will be having dinner with that woman on your birthday?” Andy’s father asked.
“Yes. Please don’t make this hard, Dad.” Andy pleaded.
“We’ll see you next week.”
Her parents flew in this morning, and Andy is a wreck. She wants to continue to enjoy her birthday. It began so wonderfully. Miranda awakened her with kisses and flowers, breakfast in bed and passionate lovemaking. All the while Miranda made sure to tell Andrea how beautiful she is, how much Miranda adores her, how she loves waking up with Andy in her arms.
That is something Andy will never tire of—finding Miranda next to her in the morning. Although Andy does not always sleep at Miranda’s house, she relishes the times they are together. Miranda has often offered to come over to Andy’s apartment, but Andy finds she prefers Miranda’s home. In many ways, Andy feels she is growing out of the apartment. It seems juvenile and empty, just a place for her to sleep.
When Miranda asked Andy to stay over the night before, the younger woman felt joy suffuse her. Andy knows she is staying over tonight, too, and she cannot help but feel grounded with that knowledge.
Not that it is helping her to calm down right now. Andy looks out the window once more before beginning to pace in the den. Miranda will be back soon to change before they leave to meet her parents. Andy offered to pick them up, but her parents declined. Andy still has no idea where they are going. Miranda’s assistant related all the details to her parents, and Andy has not spoken to them other than to confirm they made it into the city safely.
Smoothing her hands over her black Donna Karan wrap dress, the younger woman takes deep breaths. This is going to be fine. Everyone will be painfully polite. They will chit-chat, eat, and leave. Andy will see her parents at some point tomorrow or the next day. Then they will fly back to their lives while Andy continues to be with Miranda. Simple.
Just as much as Andy is dreading this dinner, she is anticipating spending time with Miranda. It is becoming harder and harder to stay away even for a night. If she had her wish, Andy would move in with Miranda. Yet, Andy has promised herself to allow Miranda to set the pace of their relationship. So far, that strategy has yielded wonderful results. She intends to stick to what works. Miranda wanting to meet her parents, even knowing the hostility they feel, is a big step. Andy loves Miranda for not shying away.
Hearing high heels clicking against the hardwood floors, Andy moves toward Miranda. They meet in the hallway. “Hello, birthday girl,” Miranda says as she wraps her arms around Andy’s neck. Staring into Miranda’s eyes, Andy begins to feel better. Miranda pulls her in for a gentle hug. One hand tangles through her hair while the other one makes soothing circles on her upper back. “Just remember that at the end of the evening you will be coming home with me.”
“Do you promise?” Andy whispers. She doesn’t understand why she is so afraid. Their relationship is solid.
Miranda pulls back to look into Andy’s eyes. “I promise, Andrea. Nothing they say will change my feelings for you.” Andy nods. She dissolves into a sweet kiss that is much too short before Miranda steps back. “I won’t be long.” She watches Miranda ascend the stairs with a sigh.
When they step out of the town car an hour later, Andy cannot help but lose her breath. They are in front of one of the most exclusive restaurants in the city. Andy had once mentioned it in passing to Miranda, teasing that even she would have a hard time getting a table. Miranda had responded that the chef was a hack, and anyway if she had any desire to dine there, which she emphatically did not, she would. “I thought you didn’t want to eat here?” Andy says.
“But you do,” Miranda answers with a twinkle in her eye. “Shall we?”
Once inside, Andy sees her parents standing off to the side. Walking over to them, Andy kisses both on the cheek, then steps back toward Miranda. “Mom, Dad, this is Miranda.” Andy watches her father stick a hand out to shake hands. Miranda raises an eyebrow and leans in to deliver air kisses. She does the same to Andy’s mother. “Right, shall we?” Andy extends her hand toward the maitre d’ who is patiently waiting for them to follow. Andy indicates for her parents to precede her, feeling Miranda’s hand on her lower back.
“I love you,” Miranda whispers as she gently nudges Andy forward. Andy cannot help but smile.
After ordering champagne and appetizers, Miranda asks questions about her parents’ trip, leading the conversation like a pro. It is easy for Andy to forget just how charming Miranda can be during social situations. Any time they are able to spend together they hoard jealously, choosing to not socialize or share those moments with anyone other than Miranda’s daughters.
Andy has a feeling that they will be socializing more often, though. Some of her friends have questioned the increasing number of pictures showing up on Page Six. Now that Miranda has given her blessing, Andy wants to tell the world just how lucky she is to be with such an extraordinary woman.
“I see you have our daughter wrapped around your dainty finger,” Andy’s father says. Andy whips her head around to stare at him, unable to believe she heard him correctly.
“Dad!” Andy sputters. “What are you doing?”
“I’m guarding your interests. Someone has to. She’s had you spinning your wheels since you first met her.” Glaring at Miranda, he continues, “But you know that already, don’t you? You probably think it’s all fun and games to seduce a much younger person, someone who adores you. Does it make you feel powerful, Miranda?” The sneer on his face shocks Andy.
“Of course it does. She is magnificent in every way. I love seeing her blossom under my ministrations,” Miranda says, all in a matter-of-fact voice, except for the last word. That word she massages with a suggestive lilt.
Did she just say that? Andy can’t think. Looking toward Miranda, Andy says, “Miranda, please.” Miranda dismisses her with a glance.
“How dare you! Do you know what you’ve put this family through?” Andy’s mother breaks in, outrage clear in her voice.
“Nonsense. You chose to pass judgment on Andrea’s heart. With one so young and idealistic, how could you expect her to listen to you?” Miranda scoffs.
“Now wait a minute,” Andy exclaims. Miranda casts a baleful eye at Andy, clearly telling her to be quiet.
“She has continued to listen to her heart, and now she has tendered it into my care. You might want to respect that choice.” Miranda sips her wine as if she has just finished discussing the weather.
“Don’t you patronize us,” Andy’s father hisses. “She may not be able to see past your single-minded desire to possess her, but we can. She’s not an object you can use and then throw away like your ex-husbands or last season’s fashion line. She’s our daughter, and she deserves better.”
“Regardless of my intentions, it is her decision to make.” Miranda turns to Andy. “Would you care to dance, Andrea?”
“Would I, would I care to dance?” Andy parrots, a bit dazed. “Um, yes.” Andy’s eyes widen at the imperious look she receives and rises quickly to take the proffered hand.
Once they reach the dance floor, Andy turns to Miranda and wordlessly accepts her left hand, placing her own on Miranda’s shoulder. She feels Miranda’s other hand rest on her back. Following Miranda’s lead, Andy notices rather quickly how Miranda purposefully uses her hips to indicate their direction. Throughout the sensual dance, Miranda keeps her eyes locked on Andy’s, pulling her closer by pure force of will. By the end of the first song, Miranda has Andy pinned to her intimately with her hand burning Andy’s lower back, effectively holding her in place. Andy is a bit shocked by Miranda’s behavior.
She sees something in Miranda’s eyes, a flash of superiority? Triumph? Andy is having trouble grasping what’s occurring. Searching those blue eyes, she recognizes the cold condescension she used to witness on a daily basis so many years ago. Andy doesn’t understand. As they sway to the last vestiges of the song, she views her parents’ faces. They seem upset as Miranda pulls Andy in even more and dips her head toward Andy’s neck to kiss it. Andy shudders.
This display is so unlike Miranda. She has always acted cordial yet reserved when they have appeared in public. Andy feels her stomach churn. Is this affectionate display some type of power play on Miranda’s part? A show to prove to Andy’s parents that she can do whatever she wishes to Andy? She tries to pull back but feels Miranda push on her lower back to keep her in place. “Miranda?” Andy asks, confusion clearly conveyed through her voice.
“Andrea.” Miranda kisses her neck again. Andy stiffens. Pulling her head back so she can peer into Miranda’s eyes, she sees a gleam of satisfaction as Miranda stares at their table.
“Let’s go sit down,” Andy suggests.
“I’m getting uncomfortable. Can’t we, can’t we just try to get through dinner?” Andy pleads.
“Andrea. Are you telling me that you don’t want to dance with me?” Miranda’s raised eyebrows and frosty voice warn Andy to deny that extremely farfetched suggestion.
“N-no. I love being in your arms. I just, it’s just that, shouldn’t we go back to the table soon?” Andy feels like a pawn in some silent chess game or the dubious prize of a strategic war of wills. Andy knows that her parents do not stand a chance.
She doesn’t mind the fact that Miranda so obviously has set out to demonstrate her hold on Andy. It is how Miranda seems to enjoy flaunting such power and how she is taking it for granted that Andy doesn’t like. “Come on, Miranda. You’ve proven your point.”
“What point is that, Andrea?” Miranda asks mildly. Andy isn’t fooled. But she’s had enough.
“That I’m yours. I’m sure they’ve gotten it.”
Miranda sniffs. “I have no idea what you are prattling on about.” With that she lets go of Andy’s back, running her hand over the younger woman’s ass before walking toward the table regally. Andy trails behind her.
They sit in silence as Andy struggles with the situation. Her father seems to be grinding his teeth, and her mother’s face is flushed with anger. Miranda sits serenely. “Um, so, how long will you be in town?” Andy asks nervously.
“Is that all you have to say, young lady?” her father demands.
“What, what do you mean?”
“How can you allow her to paw you like that in public? Do you have no shame? No self-worth? She’s treating you like her personal plaything, and you’re letting her!” Her father’s voice is becoming increasingly louder as he vents his frustration.
“She is my plaything,” Miranda says haughtily.
Andy begins shaking. “That’s enough. I’ve had enough. I am no one’s plaything.” Seeing the doubt in her parents’ eyes and the smirk on Miranda’s face, Andy rises. “Stop baiting them, Miranda.” Miranda merely lifts an eyebrow. Not able to take any more, Andy announces, “I’m leaving.”
“Sit down, Andrea. Stop making a scene.” Miranda’s voice is so condescending that Andy feels as if she’s been slapped.
Andy looks at Miranda as if she’s never seen her before. Or perhaps she just hasn’t been seeing her clearly for the last eight months. This is the Miranda she used to know. The one she feared and admired, loved and hated. Shaking her head as tears fill her eyes, Andy picks up her purse. “You three are supposedly the ones who love me the most. If this is how you show your love, I don’t want it.”
Letting herself into her apartment, Andy tries to see through her tears. How did such a wonderful day end so horribly? She doesn’t know whether she has broken up with Miranda, but at the very least it feels as if her rose-colored glasses have shattered. Andy had forgotten how calculating Miranda can be. And how callous. It was one of the reasons she had left Runway in the first place. How could she forget?
Shucking off her dress, Andy curls into a ball in the middle of her bed and begins to cry in earnest. Happy birthday to me. Bereft, Andy’s mind keeps rerunning the night’s events. Sniffling, she finally falls into a restless sleep.
Fingers running through her hair awaken Andy. Blinking her eyes several times, Andy stares through the darkness, her eyes latching onto the white of Miranda’s eyes and hair as the moonlight hits them. “Andrea,” Miranda murmurs. Andy strains to interpret Miranda’s emotions. Her voice reflects regret and sorrow. Andy cannot reconcile those emotions with Miranda’s earlier behavior.
“Why are you here?” Andy asks as she sits up.
“After you left, your parents and I had a nice chat.” Miranda tilts her head, purses her lips and looks away. “They were upset with the way you departed and my role in it.” Andy hears Miranda sigh and feels her brows knit. Watching Miranda closely, she senses how uncomfortable she feels.
“I apologized for my behavior. You were right. I was provoking them.” Andy gasps. She doesn’t know what to say. “We have come to a type of understanding. We have agreed that you will visit them for Thanksgiving and Easter, but that you will remain here for Christmas, New Year’s and your birthday. They are welcome to visit during those times, and they have graciously invited me and the girls on your excursions.”
“Wait. You worked out a holiday visitation schedule?” Andy is having a hard time keeping up. Plus, this doesn’t resolve how Miranda behaved toward Andy, does it?
“I suppose that is an apt description.”
“Don’t I have a say in this? I’m not a little girl to be fought over in a custody battle, Miranda!”
“No, no. You are certainly not that.” Miranda moves closer to Andy, taking a hand into hers. “I became caught up in proving to your parents that you are mine, that they have no bearing on your feelings toward me.” Andy tries not to become distracted by a thumb brushing lightly over the top of her hand. It’s hard. “When I watched you walk away from me, I realized how tenuous this relationship truly is and how few assurances you have provided.” Andy watches as Miranda’s mouth tightens into a straight line.
“Me? I—how can you doubt my feelings?”
“You don’t talk to me when you are unhappy or upset. I am constantly having to guess what is occurring in that little head of yours.” Miranda sighs. “It’s true you’ve gotten better, but you need to be a part of this relationship, Andrea. I need you to act like my equal. You need to believe you are.”
Andy stares at Miranda. “I’m sorry, Miranda. I just always figured that you knew, that you know how much I love you, how much I need you. The rest—” Andy waves a hand, feeling helpless to explain. “It’s much more important to me that you’re happy. I don’t ever want to do anything to jeopardize that.” Andy looks down at the bedspread. “I don’t want you to doubt me, to doubt us. I want you to trust me. I’ll do better.”
“Me, too. I did treat you like a possession tonight.” Miranda lifts Andy’s hand and kisses the back of it. “For that I am sorry. You deserve better.”
“What, how did you get my parents to calm down?” Andy asks. Miranda smiles mysteriously.
“That is a story for another time.” Miranda runs the back of her fingers over one of Andy’s cheeks. “Were you crying?”
“I thought I’d lost you,” Andy mumbles, looking away. Maybe she is young and foolish. Throughout tonight’s display, Andy had begun to wonder about Miranda’s feelings. She’d questioned whether her parents were right and that this was just some type of game for Miranda. “I was afraid that you didn’t really care for me.”
Gentle fingers lift Andy’s chin so she can gaze into watery blue eyes. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve tried so hard to show you how I truly feel, but sometimes when I feel threatened I resort to acting as I do at Runway. I feel more in my element. It is clear your parents love you. I was afraid they would convince you that I am not good enough for you.”
“They couldn’t do that!”
“Couldn’t they?” Miranda’s sad smile twists at Andy’s heart. “They’d be right. I proved that tonight.”
“Why is it so hard for you to believe that I love you?” Andy doesn’t know how to break through Miranda’s insecurities. She shakes her head. “Miranda, I know how I feel. I may seem naïve or inexperienced, but it’s not true. Jesus! What do I have to do?” Andy looks out her window, not seeing anything. Her attention is redirected to Miranda when she hears her answer.
“Move in with me.”
“What?” Andy peers into Miranda’s eyes, wondering whether her mind is playing tricks on her. “Did you say move in with you?” Miranda merely nods. “Are you sure? You’re not just saying that because of what happened tonight are you? We don’t have to—”
“Andrea Sachs, do you or do you not want to live with me?”
“I do! I just, why would you want to live with me?” Andy barely hears Miranda’s laughter as she is pulled into a fierce hug.
“You silly, silly girl! Why?” Miranda pulls back to stare at her. “Because I love you, and I need you with me every day.” Andy feels hungry lips devour hers. When her mouth is released, Miranda says, “Well?”
“Yes. Yes, I want to be with you.”
“Good. Come home with me, Andrea.” Shiny eyes stare into hers, urging Andy to agree. As if there is any doubt.
And it’s as simple as that.
Chapter 15: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Part 2
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Part 2
It has been a horrible week. Miranda has been in Paris, and all is wrong with the world. Andy knows Miranda will return tomorrow, but in some ways that just makes her feel more desperate. It’s like running a marathon and seeing the finish line up ahead. She can feel her body starting to fall apart, and she doesn’t know how to hold it together.
Every night she has spoken with Miranda for a few, precious moments. Each day she receives short texts. It is not enough. Andy sleeps in their bed hugging Miranda’s pillow tightly, yearning for Miranda to be in her arms. Andy doesn’t know how she will survive another day without her.
Her friends and colleagues have been surprisingly patient with Andy. Pathetic, I am pathetic. She doesn’t know how she became so needy. Nevertheless, Andy cannot deny how empty she feels not being able to touch Miranda.
They have lived together for two months. Andy loves it. With their schedules, it is not uncommon for one of them to already be in bed when the other arrives home. It doesn’t matter. They still schedule meals together a couple of days during the work-week and at least once on the weekend. In addition, they are able to share passionate kisses late at night and awaken to loving hugs each morning.
Not this week, though. This week Andy feels cold and bereft, constantly hungry and dissatisfied. She has taken to sitting in Miranda’s study, staring into Miranda’s closet, and reviewing the mock-up Christmas issue that brought them back together. It is not enough. At the end of the day, Andy is alone. She receives no kisses or tight embraces. She cannot stare at Miranda until her eyes droop or run her fingers over well-known back muscles.
Crossing to the vanity, Andy fingers the tennis bracelet Miranda gave her on her birthday. After that miserable dinner and spectacular reconciliation, they had returned to the townhouse. Once there, Miranda had presented her with the diamond bracelet. “I planned on giving it to you earlier,” Miranda had said with an apologetic smile.
“It’s beautiful! Miranda, you didn’t have to. You already give me so much. All I need is you.” Andy loved the bracelet, but even more she loved Miranda’s determination to keep Andy with her.
“Oh, let an old woman spend her money as she wishes.” Andy balked at her words, but Miranda merely waved dismissively before taking the bracelet out of its box. “May I?” Miranda offered. At her nod Miranda had clasped the jewelry onto her wrist. Lifting Andy’s forearm, Miranda kissed the inside of her wrist. “Beautiful.”
“Thank you, Miranda. I love it.” Andy leaned in to kiss Miranda sweetly. “I love you.” Andy didn’t try to stop the wide smile she felt overtaking her. “Now take me to bed.” And she did. For hours. It was glorious.
Moving to lie down in their bed, Andy closes her eyes as she stretches. She remembers Miranda’s lips on her neck, Miranda’s hands running through her hair. She doesn’t care how tired Miranda is tomorrow, Andy will not let her sleep until they are both well-satisfied. Kicking off her silk pajama bottoms and now-wet panties while pulling off her top, Andy thinks about what she plans to do to Miranda when she gets her hands on her.
Twisting a nipple, Andy breathes in deeply. She imagines Miranda’s lust-filled gaze scorching a path down her torso as she runs her other hand down toward her aching center. Exhaling noisily when her hand brushes her clitoris, Andy pulls on her nipple and rubs herself slowly. Miranda always knows just how to touch her.
Jerking her hips toward her hand, Andy finally inserts two fingers, moaning at the sensations. “Miranda,” Andy groans. “I miss you so much.” Bending her knees so she can plunge deeper, Andy presses on that special spot that sets her off so easily as she moves her other hand to press on her clitoris. It doesn’t take long. Andy shouts Miranda’s name as she climaxes, tears leaking from her closed eyes. It’s not enough. Not satisfying. At all.
Lying there as her heartbeat begins to slow, Andy feels lips covering hers as fingers slide over her clitoris. “What—” Andy reacts, her eyes flying open. She relaxes immediately as she tastes Miranda’s lips. “Ung.” The younger woman begins to remove the fingers still burrowed within when she feels Miranda’s hand covering it.
“No. Don’t,” Andy hears Miranda’s voice, roughened with desire. Andy wraps her other hand around Miranda, driving her tongue into her mouth purposefully. She needs Miranda so much.
Not caring how Miranda miraculously appeared, Andy sighs when she feels Miranda’s naked body moving against hers. “You are amazing,” Miranda murmurs. “I missed you so much I took an earlier flight home immediately after the final show.” Andy grunts as she feels Miranda’s lips sucking on a breast. Miranda’s hand pushes on hers, urging Andy to move her fingers in and out. Miranda switches breasts, nibbling on the nipple. “I dreamt of you. Fantasized how I would touch you once I returned.”
Andy moans as she feels a surge of wetness flow over her knuckles. Andy gasps as Miranda shimmies down her body to lick her clitoris. “Oh, Miranda,” Andy breathes. Andy arches as she feels Miranda add her own finger inside Andy’s center, pushing strongly as she continues to lap at Andy’s nerve center. “I, oh my God.” Andy can feel the mother of all orgasms building.
“But fantasies can never touch how you truly feel in my arms. I can’t get enough of you. Can never get enough,” Miranda mutters. Those words throw Andy over the brink. Her body freezes in the air, legs shaking and calves flexing as the world dims and all sensation focuses on Miranda’s tongue and their commingled thrusting fingers. Dimly Andy hears Miranda’s shout as she climaxes.
It is very possible that she blacks out for a few moments.
Before opening her eyes, Andy breathes deeply and exhales. She feels strong arms wrapped around her and smiles knowing that wasn’t just the best fantasy she had ever imagined.
“What are you smiling about?” an amused voice asks.
“You’re home,” Andy sighs happily. She feels fingers raking through her hair and sighs again. “I missed you.”
“So I noticed.” Andy feels lips ghost over her cheek. “Sleep, Andrea. We can talk tomorrow.” Andy doesn’t need to be told twice.
Before succumbing to sleep Andy says, “I love you.”
“I know.” Andy smiles again as those wonderful fingers continue to slide through her hair and soft lips graze her forehead.
The next morning they lounge in bed well past sunrise. Andy had taken the day off in anticipation of Miranda’s return, and Miranda has a free day since she returned sooner than scheduled. Andy reacquaints herself with Miranda’s delectable body, covering every inch with her fingers and mouth until Miranda screams. Andy loves when Miranda is this way and marvels at her ability to turn Miranda into a pleading, wanton woman. She feels honored that Miranda trusts her so much. Andy makes sure to communicate her love and appreciation for Miranda’s willingness to expose herself in this way. She never wants Miranda to feel unsafe.
“Darling, would you like to accompany me to this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness benefit next month?” Miranda asks as she strokes Andy’s arm soothingly.
“I’d love to,” Andy immediately responds. Even though the papers have continued to snap pictures of them when they dine in public, speculation has petered out with their lack of substantiation. Attending the benefit will change all that by sending a clear message that they are together. “Are you sure?” she asks quietly. Of course Miranda is sure. She wouldn’t have issued the invitation. Nevertheless, Andy wants to provide Miranda with the opportunity to change her mind. “You don’t have to.”
Miranda searches Andy’s eyes. “I want to. It’s time. Clear?” Andy nods.
“What would you like to do today?” Andy asks a bit later. She is excited by the prospect of spending the day with Miranda.
“Well. I do have to check in with Nigel this afternoon. Why don’t you come with me, and we can see what we can find for you in the Closet?” Andy’s eyebrows rise at the invitation. The last time she had raided the Closet was for their vacation three months ago. Of course, Miranda often brings home outfits with which to gift Andy, but this is different. Andy grins in anticipation.
After another round of unhurried lovemaking, they rise to eat and dress. When they finally make it to Runway, Andy observes the area as her memory recalls erotic images. Feeling fingers graze hers as her face heats up, Andy turns her head to find Miranda’s intense gaze. “I know what you are thinking about, Andrea.”
Andy blushes harder and clears her throat.
“I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Andy sniffs, trying to reign in her libido and make light of it at the same time. Miranda’s elegant snort—who has the right to make snorts sound elegant anyway? Andy grouses internally—just before their elevator opens causes Andy to chuckle.
Miranda leads Andy into her office while spouting orders to her current first assistant. Once seated on her throne, Miranda turns sparkling eyes toward Andy. “Do go explore, Andrea. I’ll join you in a bit.” Andy scampers out.
The Closet hasn’t changed. Andy strolls through it as enthralled as always. Hearing Nigel’s voice, Andy tracks him down. “Nigel,” Andy greets her friend.
“Six! What are you doing here?” Nigel asks as he shoos away the curious clackers and gives Andy a hug. “Wait. Let me guess.” Nigel rests his chin on a palm while he stares at Andy contemplatively. “You need a gown for the Breast Cancer benefit.”
Her surprise must show since Nigel tsk’s at her and waves a hand, “I think I have just the dress.” Andy follows Nigel. “It’s a good thing fashion week is over. Paris was a nightmare.”
“It was?” Andy asks. “Why?”
Nigel stops at a row of evening gowns and begins picking through as he eyes each one critically. “Because you were here and Miranda was there, of course. She was inconsolable. Thank God she left early.” Nigel pulls out a red piece of heaven and holds it against Andy. “Hmm.” Holding it, he keeps looking through the gowns. He stops to eye her. “You must know she was absolutely unbearable. I’m surprised she didn’t demand that you join us.” Andy flushes as her eyes dart away. Nigel stops his movements. “Did she?” He raises his eyebrows in question.
Not wanting to betray Miranda’s confidence, Andy says weakly, “Of course not. That’s ridiculous.” Nigel continues to stare at her, and Andy keeps pretending that Miranda hadn’t demanded that very thing. It was only the fact that Andy couldn’t get the time off which had kept Miranda from getting her way. Andy has a feeling that won’t be enough to deter Miranda next year. Not that Andy minds. She wants to go to Paris with Miranda. And London. And Milan. And anywhere else Miranda travels. Andy isn’t sure she can withstand being away from Miranda for so long again.
“Hmm,” Nigel says again before turning back to his task. “Try these on.” Nigel thrusts three gowns into Andy’s arms and waves toward the corner where a changing area is set up. The first gown she dons is the red Versace dress. It is an eye-catching, sleeveless, floor-length gown with a plunging neckline and a risky slit up the thigh. The gown is breathtaking and daring. Way to make a statement.
“How long must we wait?” Miranda says, impatience clearly conveyed. Luckily, Andy has become rather immune to that tone of voice. Still, she hurries.
Stepping out from behind the partition, Andy is gratified to see Miranda’s eyes glaze just a bit as Nigel whistles his approval. “Turn,” he instructs as he studies how the gown falls across Andy’s body. “I don’t think we need bother with the others, do you?” Nigel comments while glancing at Miranda.
“No, no. That will do.” Miranda waves her hand dismissively, and Nigel turns back to Andy. Andy keeps her eyes trained on Miranda, though. Once Nigel’s eyes are not on Miranda, Andy watches her take a deep breath. Andy grins. Miranda refocuses on Andy’s face and quirks her lips as she nods. “When you are done playing around, come back to the office, Andrea.” Miranda sweeps away without another glance.
“Right. We just need to find some shoes for you.” Nigel walks toward another part of the Closet while Andy continues to look in the mirror. She is very pleased with Miranda’s approval. If the look in Miranda’s eyes is anything to go by, they won’t be remaining at the office for much longer. Andy smiles. Not much longer at all.
Chapter 16: Lady in Red
Lady in Red
As she glides across the ballroom to rejoin Miranda, Andy pretends to not hear the whispers. For the most part, they are positive. She takes full responsibility for that. Each time someone has approached them tonight, Andy has taken pains to engage the person in conversation. Most seem eager for the chance to bask in Miranda’s powerful aura, and Andy sees no harm in representing herself in this way. She wants people to accept her, if only so Miranda will not need to deal with any fallout.
Reaching Miranda’s side, Andy offers a flute of champagne, momentarily dazzled by Miranda’s smile of thanks. Miranda seems at ease. Andy is glad. Although Miranda is not a keynote speaker, Elias-Clarke is a sponsor for this event, and many of the heavyweights are present. The wealthy and influential mill around, eventually coming to pay their respects to the Queen of Fashion and her consort, Andy thinks sarcastically.
Andy allows her gaze to wander until she feels an unpleasant change in the air. Miranda seems to straighten just a bit, and her eyes become sharper. Following Miranda’s stare, Andy looks into the eyes of Irv Ravitz. She bites back her distaste and smiles in greeting.
“Andy Sachs, a pleasure to see you again,” Irv says as he kisses the back of her hand. Andy just manages not to pull her hand away. “Miranda.” Irv nods in her direction before refocusing on Andy. He takes his time to rake his eyes over her body from head to toe and back. Andy feels revulsion rise thickly in her throat. She swallows it back down. His beady eyes stare at her décolletage brazenly. Andy feels Miranda’s rage and seeks to ward off the ensuing storm.
“Hello, Mr. Ravitz. It’s so nice to see you again. Is your wife joining you tonight?” Andy says in a syrupy voice. She feels Miranda’s arm slip around her waist.
“Not tonight. She was a bit under the weather. You look ravishing, my dear. Simply ravishing.” Irv takes the opportunity to stare at her body once more as Miranda stiffens in outrage. Andy knows Miranda won’t allow much more of this.
“Thank you. You can’t go wrong in Versace.” Andy answers brightly. Turning to Miranda, Andy continues, “Miranda’s taste is impeccable.”
“Mmm, I have to agree,” Irv leers. “Miranda always did like the best. I suspect you must be very good.” Okay, so that’s just rude.
“Irving, we’d love to stay and chat, but we were just about to leave.” Andy has to hand it to Miranda for remaining so restrained. Personally, Andy wants to rip the contemptible man to pieces.
“Leaving so soon? Well, I suppose that is why you are with such a young woman. So she can service your needs. Although, it is no longer a secret, Miranda. The board will be very concerned with how your indiscretions may affect Runway’s interests. Particularly after I get through with them.” Irv has the nerve to lean in closer to say quietly, “But if you are willing to share…” He smirks at their shocked faces.
Andy recovers first. Not caring to cover her anger, she steps into Irv’s space. “You must be highly delusional if you think that I would ever consent to such an arrangement. You are a sad, little man.” Andy feels her eyes spit fire at the CEO, empowered when he steps back uncertainly. “You know, Irv—may I call you Irv? I just came across some very interesting documents last week that point toward some unauthorized purchases by a certain CEO.” Andy glides a hand down a shaking arm as she watches his face pale.
Pretending not to notice Miranda’s riveted attention or Irv’s increasing apprehension, Andy continues. “Originally, I was thinking about writing an exposé, but I had tossed the idea away since it might hurt Runway. Now I’m beginning to think I might want to hand that information over to some interested individuals. What do you think, Irv?” Andy bats her eyelashes at the impotent man and waits patiently for his response.
He steps away carefully and joins his hands together as if about to pray. Maybe he is. “I misjudged you. It seems you and Miranda are well-suited after all.” An interesting mixture of respect and dislike flash through his eyes. Andy can live with that.
“Yes. We are.” Turning to Miranda, Andy smiles coyly at her. “Shall we go?” With Miranda’s dazed consent, they sweep out of the room into the crisp evening air. Miranda stays quiet the entire ride home but holds Andy’s hand tightly. Andy wonders whether Miranda is angry with her for threatening Irv. She knows that’s usually Miranda’s role, one she relishes.
Once home Andy removes Miranda’s wrap from her shoulders, noticing that she is trembling. “Miranda?” She shakes her head. They climb the stairs to the master suite silently. Not able to bear the thought that Miranda is angry with her, Andy tries again. “Are you, are you angry with me?” Andy asks hesitantly. She shrinks back a little when Miranda whips toward her.
“All these years I have battled with that vile, little man.” Miranda stalks toward Andy who backs up against the door. “All these years and no one has ever dared to threaten him on my behalf.” Miranda stands nose to nose with Andy. Andy is not sure what to think. Miranda is obviously riled up, but she doesn’t exactly seem angry. “Am I angry?” Miranda chuckles. “Hardly. I have never been so aroused in my life.” Andy’s head is yanked forward into a rough kiss.
- Andy feels ravenous hands sliding up the slit on her right thigh and the exposed area of her back. She isn’t angry. At all.
Andy’s hands scrabble over Miranda’s back, searching for the zipper to the gown. Miranda is wearing a gorgeous long sleeve embroidered gown by Oscar de la Renta. The black semitransparent silk organza is hand stitched throughout with a complex design of sequins and pearls. Andy must tamp down her desire to rip the dress off of Miranda. Finally, Andy tears her lips away and turns Miranda around. She wastes no time removing the gorgeous gown, her sole focus on making sure that the fire in Miranda’s eyes continues to burn. Miranda’s nimble fingers strip Andy of her couture just as quickly. Soon they unite in a full-body embrace as their lips meld together once more.
“Andrea, darling. I want you to, I want—” Miranda breaks away and advances to her closet. Returning swiftly, Miranda drops in front of Andy. “Please use this on me.” Andy looks down as she feels a harness sliding up her legs. Miranda pants as she fits the device properly. Andy feels a rush of arousal course through her.
Miranda starts walking backward toward the bed while holding Andy’s hands. “Andrea.” Reclining on the bed, Miranda spreads her legs invitingly. Hardly believing what is occurring, Andy crawls slowly forward until she is positioned over Miranda, gratified by the moan that floats through the air. Smiling wickedly, Andy sets out to ravish Miranda. She never wants Miranda to forget this night.
Settling between Miranda’s legs, she refrains from entering her just yet. Andy rocks against Miranda slowly while sucking forcefully on her neck. Not wanting to leave a mark, Andy moves back up to capture those appealing lips, nibbling the lower one until Miranda moans louder. Andy rubs her tongue against Miranda’s before licking the top of her mouth. Miranda whimpers as Andy sucks on her tongue and allows her fingers to dance along Miranda’s ribcage.
Palming Miranda’s belly, Andy dips her head to capture a rock-hard nipple. She feels Miranda tossing her head back as fingers comb through Andy’s hair. Miranda rocks with Andy more forcefully, tilting her pelvis to welcome her inside. She rubs Miranda’s clitoris, ripping a surprised shout from Miranda. Andy smiles as she licks at the other breast. She feels Miranda’s hands pulling on her hips, urging her to enter Miranda’s body. Bracing her hands on either side of Miranda’s torso, Andy angles herself before surging forward. They both groan at the sensation of their bodies pushing together.
Legs wrap around Andy’s waist allowing her to sink in further. Her swollen clitoris rubs against Miranda’s. Andy shudders. Gazing into fevered eyes, Andy marvels at the lust so apparent. Miranda’s mouth surrounds Andy’s breast sucking greedily. It feels divine. Picking up the pace, Andy starts thrusting, loving how Miranda meets her body just as forcefully. Fingers dig into her shoulders as Andy slants her hips upward and pushes. Miranda yells out her pleasure. Noting the reaction, Andy keeps the angle, moving faster and faster. Sweat rolls down her back as she strains to fuck Miranda into oblivion. It looks like she just might do it, too. Miranda’s body shakes as she pulls Andy closer. She tucks her head into Miranda’s neck and thrusts again and again. Hearing a high-pitched screech, Andy thrusts as quickly and as forcefully as she can. She feels Miranda arch into her as she releases a primal shout. Hands pull at Andy’s ass, keeping the pace constant as Miranda breaks apart beneath her.
Andy pulls her head back in time to see Miranda close her eyes as her hands fall away. Andy licks at the perspiration on Miranda’s top lip as she pulls out and lies down next to Miranda. Andy is extremely aroused and in desperate need of release, but she is also astounded by what has just occurred. For the first time since they have been together, it appears Miranda has passed out.
Andy is proud of herself.
Resting her head on an arm, Andy spends time gazing at this lioness. Her lioness. How wonderful that she has so much more to learn about her. Andy smiles tenderly as eyes flutter open. A weak hand cups Andy’s chin, guiding her lips to waiting ones. “That was magnificent. You are magnificent,” Miranda whispers.
They kiss again, taking their time to explore. Andy strokes Miranda’s back as they begin to move against each other. Miranda urges Andy to lie on her back. Hands map Andy’s torso lovingly as lips follow. Andy feels the passion overwhelm her again as talented hands play with her nipples. Lips cover one while the displaced hand wanders to Andy’s clitoris. Andy can hardly contain herself. She thrusts upward hoping for relief and loses her breath as Miranda rubs the area forcefully. Soon Andy is climaxing with a joyful shout.
Before Andy can recover her wits, she feels Miranda cover her body. Staring at Miranda in admiration, Andy grasps Miranda’s hips to sink her body onto the dildo. Andy bends her knees to support Miranda’s back as she leans on Andy’s legs and braces her hands on Andy’s forearms. Miranda begins to undulate seductively while focusing on Andy’s eyes. Andy is captivated. Miranda meets each upward thrust of Andy’s hips vigorously by grinding downwards, then lifting her body in counterpoint. She rocks fluidly, eyes closing as she becomes lost in the throes of ecstasy. Andy watches amazed. She moves one hand to manipulate Miranda’s clitoris, determined to make Miranda lose control once more. Miranda’s eyes fly open as an orgasm takes her by surprise. “Andrea!” Throwing her head back, Miranda releases a rich laugh as she rides Andy. Another climax makes her speed up as Andy feels herself give in to the bewitching feeling of Miranda rubbing against her.
Worn out, Andy’s hands release Miranda’s hips as she gasps for air. A hot body settles next to her a moment later. “God, I love you,” Andy murmurs.
“I love you, Andrea. You are by far the sexiest woman I have ever met.” Miranda delivers an exhausted though heartfelt kiss before curling into Andy’s body. “What you do to me.”
Andy hopes she will always spur Miranda into such declarations.
Chapter 17: Special Delivery: Part 2
Special Delivery: Part 2
Andy nervously taps on her desk with her pen as she stares sightlessly at her computer screen. Today is Miranda’s birthday. Wanting to make it memorable, Andy has pulled out all the stops. She may not be able to bring Miranda to the best restaurant or shower her with gifts, but Andy is nothing if not inventive. Every hour on the hour Andy has had a poem and a single red rose delivered to Miranda. Andy has spent the last couple of months writing those poems. They show a progression from the first day they met to now. Wringing her hands, Andy hopes Miranda likes them.
Wanting to make sure nothing will go wrong, Andy is splurging on dinner. She is picking it up on her way home. Miranda has reassured Andy that she will be home on time. After the dinner, Andy plans to massage away all of Miranda’s stress before making love to her. She would have preferred to do more, but they are leaving in two days to visit her parents for Thanksgiving, and their schedules are jammed as a result.
Flicking her eyes toward the clock, Andy scowls. The last poem is being delivered right now. Andy presses her lips together. She doesn’t understand why she is so anxious. Even if Miranda believes the poems are juvenile, she will appreciate the effort involved. Right?
If Andy is honest, though, she must admit it’s not just the birthday plans that have her agitated. In two days she will see her parents for the first time since she had walked out on them in a high-scale restaurant months ago. The night Miranda had asked her to move in. Her parents had objected to the move, of course, but they hadn’t seemed surprised. It made Andy wonder what the conversation between Miranda and her parents was all about.
Pulling her mind back to the article in front of her, Andy uses a mammoth amount of concentration to finish it. Clicking the send button, Andy dares to look at the clock. Shit! Shutting down her computer and packing it up, Andy calls the restaurant to make sure the food will be ready and hightails it out of the newspaper office.
Once home, Andy sets up the bedroom with flowers, candles, and cued-up music to provide the proper ambiance for the massage. Dragging the massage table to their bedroom that usually is stored in the home gym for Miranda’s biweekly treatments, Andy spends precious minutes trying to figure out how to adjust it to a height that will work for her. Andy lays out the sheets and oil carefully. Satisfied, she returns downstairs to prepare the dining room for their meal.
Twenty minutes later Andy hears Miranda’s arrival. “Andrea?”
“In here.” Andy hurries to light the tapers in the candelabra and blows out the match as Miranda walks through the doorway. Andy watches with bated breath as Miranda stops short to take in the romantic tableau. Andy smiles. “Hi.”
“Hello.” Cocking her head, Miranda gazes at Andy for several moments before walking toward her. “This is beautiful.” Miranda rests a hand on Andy’s collarbone as she leans forward to kiss her. “Thank you, darling.”
“It’s nothing,” Andy says. “Certainly less than what you deserve.” Andy smiles apologetically. “I’ll do better next year.”
“Don’t be absurd.” Although the words are harsh, the tone of voice is affectionate. “What you’ve done has made me feel so special, so privileged that I am having trouble finding the words to adequately thank you.”
“Well. Now you know how I felt when I received the laptop,” Andy says gruffly. Andy blinks repeatedly, not wanting to let her emotions get the better of her. This night is for Miranda.
The air between them has become thick with meaning. Clearing her throat, Andy guides Miranda to a chair and holds it out. “Madam, if it pleases you, kindly rest on this comfortable chair while dinner is served.”
Miranda’s lips curl in amusement as she sits down. Andy pours the wine and serves the appetizers before sitting across from Miranda. She is pleased that Miranda seems to be unwinding. Andy can practically see the cords of stress falling off Miranda as they flirt. Andy purposefully steers their conversation away from work and her family. She wants Miranda to relax. Andy caters to Miranda throughout the meal, hopping up whenever it seems she needs something. Bending over to refill Miranda’s glass of wine, she is stalled by a hand on her arm. “Andrea. This has been lovely.”
“Oh, but this isn’t all. As soon as we are done here, you have one hell of a massage waiting for you.” Andy grins at Miranda’s surprised look. After they finish their wine, Andy leads Miranda to their bedroom. Opening the door, Andy follows Miranda in and lights the candles. Turning to Miranda she says, “I’ll give you a few minutes to undress. Lie on your stomach.” She delivers a chaste kiss before turning on the music and closing the door softly. Five minutes later she reenters to find Miranda resting comfortably.
Over the next ninety minutes Andy rubs out every knot she can find. She may not be a massage therapist, but she knows Miranda’s body well. By the time she finishes, Miranda is purring. Gazing at Miranda’s serene face, Andy feels her heart lurch. The woman is lovely. Like this, Miranda appears much younger and more carefree. Andy loves that she is able to evoke such reactions. Running her hand lightly from toes to head, Andy ends the session with a very unprofessional kiss on the forehead. As Andy moves away she feels arms pulling her back for a long, intense kiss. “Make love to me, Andrea.”
As if there is any doubt.
This time it is Andy who kisses every inch of Miranda’s body reverently. It is Andy who whispers how much she loves her, wants her, needs her. It is Andy who kisses Miranda again and again as if she can never get enough. She can’t.
When she enters Miranda, she feels more than hears Miranda moan as she climaxes. Andy kisses down Miranda’s body and feasts on Miranda’s passionate outpouring, sucking on the labia with abandon before focusing on the sensitive bundle of nerves. Andy does not relent until Miranda screams her next release. Only then does Andy take Miranda into her arms. They remain in this position long enough for Andy to dream of sensual fingers dancing across her abdomen and dipping into her wetness. Moving her body to the compelling rhythm, Andy does not realize she is not dreaming until she climaxes. Andy opens her mouth to exhale as she tilts her head back. Lips kiss her sternum lovingly while those magical fingers play with her breasts.
“Oh, Miranda,” Andy sighs as she opens her eyes. Andy is greeted by a full smile and dancing eyes. “Happy birthday.”
“Indeed. If your journalistic endeavors fall short, I believe you could have a promising future as my personal massage therapist.”
Andy grins. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“As it was meant. Of course, your poems are quite exceptional, too. Publishable, even.”
“No way. Those are only meant for your eyes.” Andy blushes with embarrassment. Some of those poems are very raw, so raw she has a hard time reading them.
“Mmm. Well then. Perhaps you will consent to my having them compiled into a book? I know a calligrapher who is very discreet.” If Miranda’s visage didn’t sport such a serious look, Andy might believe she was being teased.
“You want—Miranda, they aren’t that good.” Andy runs the back of her fingers across a soft cheek. “You don’t have to.”
“I do. I want to. Please allow me.” Surprised but pleased, Andy nods. “It’s settled then.” Miranda kisses Andy gently. “To think you have so many hidden talents secreted from the world. Poet, massage therapist, lover extraordinaire—I am extremely fortunate.” Miranda smiles devilishly. “I hope you aren’t too tired, darling. There are a few secret services I’d like to provide to you.”
Arching into her lover, Andy moans her consent.
And it’s as simple as that.