Chapter 1: The Beginning of the Rest of Her Life
The Beginning of the Rest of Her Life
Every day Miranda wakes before the sun rises. It's as if her internal clock is perpetually set for five a.m. Sometimes she lies under the warm blankets before rising, just allowing her mind to wander. Her best ideas have revealed themselves to her drowsy mind during these early hours, before the day rushes in. And it is during these hazy times that she allows her mind to dwell on the one who walked away.
How many times has she indulged in ridiculous thoughts, impossible thoughts, forbidden thoughts? Yet she cannot find it within herself to stop them. It is her only indulgence these days. In her mind, she imagines seeing her former assistant again, of feeling that skin under her lips or gazing into revealing eyes. Oh, yes, she has warmed many a cold morning with thoughts of the one person who ran away as soon as she opened up, revealed herself, reached out. The heat in those chocolate eyes hinted at depths banked by propriety and professionalism and fear. It is a cruel irony: the Ice Queen melted by the flames of one unforgettable Andrea Sachs.
If only she hadn't revealed her vulnerability to such an extent. Not then. Not while dealing with Irv's attempt to remove her from her position as Runway's Editor-in-Chief. Not while mourning the death of another marriage. Not while finally acknowledging to herself that she had feelings—passionate, amorous feelings—for Andrea. The timing was unfortunate.
After Andrea left, not deigning to look back or feel regret or miss her, Miranda had to move on. No one dared say her name in front of her, of course. The girl who walked away. The one who passed judgment against the Queen of Fashion and found her out of style. Worse than wearing purple lipstick instead of red. Than donning giant frames instead of smaller-framed sunglasses. Than carrying hyper-embellished bags instead of modest hobo bags.
And now she has found out that Andrea never truly left her. In fact, for the last six years, Andrea has been feeding information to Nigel, helping Runway, helping her, whenever possible. It is hard to believe—Andrea looking out for her, taking care of her without ever expecting anything in return. Andrea always had a soft spot for that atrocious cerulean blue, cotton poly-blend sweater. It seems the journalist also harbored a soft spot for her.
For some reason, Andrea selflessly has protected her when normally no one dares to protect her. Everyone assumes that she can fend for herself, that she will be insulted by any attempt to fight her battles. It's not true, though. Everyone needs help at times, and in Miranda's position, she wears a large bull's eye every day. Miranda usually must fend for herself, but Andrea has proven an unflagging loyalty that Miranda never expected.
It would have continued, too, if the timing had been different, if Runway was not so close to its print deadline. Luckily, Nigel bumped into Andrea, which led to dinner, which led to the revelation that one Sig Sassy, their featured designer, is a fraud. Nigel persuaded Andrea to email her directly, and Miranda is grateful. Grateful to Nigel, grateful to Andrea, even grateful to that duplicitous Sig Sassy, since it was his illegal actions that have provided Miranda an opportunity, if only she is brave enough to take it.
Remembering last week, Miranda smiles softly. She saw her. Andrea. What a sight for sore eyes. Always so animated. So vivacious and filled with energy. She wears her emotions on her face. In her eyes. Those eyes that used to tell her so much. Miranda's hands fist the sheets as her eyes flutter closed. Even now, she remembers those chocolate eyes, how a wealth of emotion used to be directed at her. She wants to see those eyes again, and not from a distance, not directed at Nigel or at New York traffic or at her office window. If she is ever going to get Andrea back in her life, now is the time for grand gestures.
Does she want to take the risk? Does she want Andrea back in her life? Does she want to acknowledge how much she has missed her former assistant? Yes to all. She might not admit it to anyone except herself, but she is disappointed in herself for her cowardly inaction. She is well aware that she might never have reached out to Andrea, not knowing how and not believing it would be well-received. Now she knows better.
Dull light sifts through the drawn curtains. It is time to face the day. Miranda shivers in the cool air as she rises and wraps her robe around her body with sure hands, an idea forming in her mind. Now that they have sent the spring issue to print, she will have more time to devote toward finding the perfect way to reach out to Andrea.
What can she do to impress Andrea? Obviously, glamour, money, fame—none of those impress her. Yet something must have affected Andrea enough to want to protect her and maintain a tenuous connection with her. None of the artificial, transient riches to be found in the world of fashion, though. No, Andrea never quite succumbed to the allure of beauty. Or did she? Is it possible that perhaps Miranda's fascination with Andrea is not one-sided? That the bond remains?
Material things might not capture Andrea, but words—words are her bread and butter. Words must mean everything to Andrea. And I used them so poorly. If only she had explained her reasoning better in Paris; if only she'd anticipated Andrea's unformed morality, her innocent affront on Nigel's behalf in time to address it. She had assumed Andrea would understand and accept what happened, why Nigel's dream had to be sacrificed—after all, didn't she always anticipate Miranda's wants and needs? Miranda did not realize until much too late that she had lost her chance to do something she rarely did: explain.
Pausing by the window, Miranda looks out on the dull morning, weak rays reflecting off the pavement. Miranda has gone down this path many times before. She has played the game of what if's and should have's. It would not have taken much to contact Andrea after she left. But she never did, and over time the possibility became a comforting, often revisited fantasy. But that was all. It is ironic, really. Miranda is a woman of action, yet it is Andrea who has acted consistently during their separation. Actions do speak so much louder than words, Miranda muses. It is time for Miranda to take definitive action, to make a grand gesture.
Decision made, Miranda studies her reflection in the window critically. If she decides to do this, she must do so definitively. She must reach out in a way that will invite the opportunity for interaction, for determining whether Andrea might be willing to return to the fold. Oh, not as an employee. Certainly, she has grown into her own over the years since she left Runway. Nor does Miranda wish for Andrea to feel inferior while in her company. Miranda wants to create a new dichotomy, a new type of interaction.
I need to show her that I care about her. That I want to know who she is. That I see her. What will reach her? Impress her? Invite her to respond? She is a hard-working journalist. Her tools are decisive action coupled with expressive words. I will mirror her and hope she understands.
Tapping her lower lip with her finger, Miranda decides she must do more than publish a public thank you, certainly. Miranda's favor is still weighty enough to cause others to trust whomever she approves. Others will seek Andrea out once Miranda indicates her approval.
But she needs to write more than that. Something more personal. She imagines Andrea's visage gazing back at her through the window, and wonders what will reach her. How surprised would she be if I wrote poems to her? Miranda smirks. Love poems. How absurd. Yet if she can show Andrea that she has taken an interest in her, it may be enough to bridge their time apart. The years of loneliness and loss. Although she may not know anything about Andrea's personal life, she well remembers the first day they met. Andrea handed her examples of her writing from when she attended Northwestern. Miranda still has them. Certainly, she can track the woman's professional career.
Miranda thinks haughtily, I know everyone in publishing. And I can do anything. It will not take much to use those contacts to gather information. Smiling to herself, Miranda nods before turning away. She is going to seduce Andrea Sachs using words and, hopefully, action. Miranda shivers at the thought.
She is going to get the girl. And this time she will not watch her walk away.
Chapter 2: The Romance
Sighing, Miranda opens her eyes to the winter morning. Heat radiates down her left side, and a smile lights up her face as she turns to gaze at the sleeping figure. Andrea. Sweet Andrea. She looks so innocent, so young. It has not escaped her notice that Andrea is much closer in age to her daughters than to her age. Last night they all enjoyed dinner together for the first time. Caroline and Cassidy made sure to tell her how much they like Andrea. Their acceptance means the world to Miranda.
Although she knew in her heart that her girls would love Andrea, she cannot deny that she was anxious. Andrea means so much to her. Caressing the woman's face with her eyes, she feels warmth flow through her. She loves Andrea. The last three months have confirmed what she always suspected. She cannot go back to living without Andrea in her life.
Before this thing began, she had followed the journalist's career progression and listened to the softly-spoken words in her outer office whenever possible for scraps of information about Andrea. She had fed on those scraps like a starving dog, missing her but too insecure and proud to reach out, to take the chance. Such a waste of time. Years when they could have been happy while together.
It's time. Time for Andrea to stand beside her. Time for her to take a more active role in their relationship, too. Miranda knows that Andrea is afraid, that she is taking whatever is given without demands or complaints. But their relationship cannot grow while Andrea hangs back. She needs Andrea, wants Andrea, as more than a lover.
And she knows action speaks louder than words. It is why she was so forward with Andrea when they met for dinner months ago. It's why she takes the time to send flowers and invitations. It's why she is never beside Andrea when she wakes in the morning. Not until Andrea has truly committed to her will she remain. It would break her heart if, after allowing herself to be so vulnerable, Andrea changed her mind.
The morning light is harsh and unforgiving. She has dreaded the day when Andrea might see her, face free of makeup with her wrinkles revealed—bared to such a young, beautiful creature. She cannot take the chance of seeing anything other than affection and acceptance in those chocolate eyes. So she waits, searching for a sign that Andrea is ready, that they are ready.
Miranda is sure that Andrea has drawn her own conclusions as to why she always rises before Andrea awakens. She has read the confusion and uncertainty in Andrea's eyes. Yet Andrea has never asked, never demanded an explanation, perhaps afraid of the answer.
Today Miranda is ready to at least make a token gesture that things will change. Although she will not remain lounging in bed, waiting for Andrea to open her beautiful eyes, she will also not leave Andrea to her own devices this morning. Her daughters have accepted her feelings for Andrea, and Miranda can think of nothing preventing her from risking her heart other than pride. And wasn't it her pride that kept them apart for so long?
Carefully, Miranda rises from the bed, dons some nightwear, and wraps her robe around herself tightly before leaving the room. She makes her way to the kitchen, pausing in the doorway when she smells fresh coffee. "Caroline?" Miranda watches her daughter as she raises her head from its resting place on crossed arms. She looks like she dozed off at the kitchen table. "What are you doing up so early?"
"Couldn't sleep," Caroline yawns. Miranda watches her grab the steaming cup of coffee in front of her and drink a large gulp before saying, "Why are you up?"
"I always wake up at this time." Miranda sighs as she fills her own cup.
"Yeah, but why aren't you still in bed? Andy's here, right?" Caroline smirks and wiggles her eyebrows.
"None of that!" Miranda says in a severe voice. She will not allow such cheek, not even from her beloved daughter.
"Sorry, Mom," Caroline mutters, her eyes skittering away.
Sighing, Miranda sits across from her daughter. "She is," Miranda admits quietly. "I am going to make breakfast for her. Do you want anything?"
"Breakfast in bed?" Caroline says, her eyes shining mischievously. "Lucky lady." Her face takes on a more serious expression. "And so are you. It's obvious that she loves you. I'm happy for you. Both of us are."
Touching the back of her hair self-consciously, Miranda nods. "I, yes. Well. I've told you how I feel about her, why I have taken this chance." Feeling herself become emotional, she rises quickly and crosses to the refrigerator. "Breakfast," she mutters, making herself focus on cooking as her embarrassment slowly fades.
Her daughters are adults now, able to understand romantic entanglements and the inherent complexities that come with trusting someone to such an extent. Their approval is so important to Miranda. Even though they are adults, her relationship will become fodder for the press once they find out about Andrea, and that will affect all of their lives. As relief flows through Miranda, she feels a bit giddy. She realizes quite suddenly that she is happy. Truly happy. And it is all due to the sleeping beauty upstairs.
When she first began seeing Andrea, she knew she needed to tell her daughters. Although the media might not guess the nature of her relationship with Andrea, her girls would. Over the years, Andrea's name came up many times. Her girls had taken a shine to her, and they noticed when Andrea stopped delivering the Book. They also noticed how lost Miranda was. Although young, they knew something was hurting Miranda.
At first, they asked her whether she was sad about the divorce. She wasn't, at least not in the way they thought. Miranda worried about what the rags would print and how it might affect her daughters, but Stephen's absence from her life was a relief. She knew that relationship wasn't salvageable, hadn't been since before Andrea came into her life. As time passed and Miranda continued to struggle, they asked about her work. Eventually their inquisitive minds and endless questions uncovered Andrea's desertion. Not that she phrased it that way. She merely revealed that Andrea had gotten her dream job as a cub reporter, and she wished her former assistant well.
Maybe that was what gave her away.
They did not bring up Andrea's name after that for some months, but they watched her closely and took pains to make Miranda happier. Their antics with her assistants ceased. They dedicated themselves to practicing the piano without complaint and finishing their schoolwork without help. And every so often, they would mention Andrea, an article she wrote or a remembrance of their interactions with her while Miranda's assistant. They grew up before Miranda's eyes, and the three of them became extremely close. If ever a silver lining existed, it was the compassion and unflagging love her daughters displayed.
Armed with breakfast, Miranda takes a deep breath before making her way upstairs and opening her bedroom door. She enters slowly. Wide chocolate eyes stare at her, emotions revealing themselves like slides illuminated by a projector. Confusion. Disbelief. Shock. Joy. Placing the tray on the floor, Miranda leans over and kisses Andrea. She takes her time, giving Andrea the chance to catch up, to accept this change in their lives. Once she feels Andrea kiss her back exuberantly, Miranda indulges for a few more moments before pulling back slightly.
Loving the dazed happiness Andrea projects as her eyes flutter open, Miranda drawls, "Good morning, Andrea," her lips quirking upward in a smile as Andrea shyly answers her with her own greeting. Miranda does not try to stop her smile from broadening as Andrea gently pushes back a lock of her white hair that has slipped in front of her eyes. Miranda catches her hand, kissing the back of it reverently before turning to pick up the breakfast tray. She places it over Andrea's legs and slips back under the covers. Glancing at Andrea, she is caught by luminous, sparkling eyes. She cannot help but smile again. They proceed to share breakfast quietly, discussing last night's dinner and plans for the day.
"We are planning to see Cinderella at the Broadway Theatre today," Miranda says as she sips her coffee. "Would you like to join us? We can eat at that tourist trap you love so much afterward." She watches Andrea closely, wondering whether she will understand how grand a gesture she is making, her willingness to share with Andrea this precious time she has with her girls. As her daughters age, they fill their time with school and friends and work and exploration. They are young and unafraid of the future. And very busy living life.
It occurred to her last night, as she lay in bed gazing at Andrea's sleeping form, that they have fallen into the bad habit of always meeting for a meal before returning to Miranda's home to be intimate. They do not spend time together just for the sake of relaxing or talking or sharing. Miranda wants to change that; she wants more than meals and sex. She wants Andrea to impose herself into her life, to make demands and not fit so neatly into her schedule. She wants some overlap, some unexpected interactions, some proof that Andrea is willing to fight for their future.
So, two grand gestures today—surely some type of record for Miranda. What she does to her. She inspires Miranda to want to take risks. To make the grand gestures for both of them.
Because she is beginning to believe that Andrea will never make a grand gesture herself, and perhaps that is Miranda's fault. She has never given Andrea a reason to ask for more. She has never made Andrea feel safe; she has never reassured her by word or deed. Miranda is at a loss. She cannot find the words, and Andrea has not interpreted her actions as enough of a reason to take risks. No matter how slowly and tenderly she makes love to Andrea or how passionately and thoroughly, her actions are not enough. They do not extend outside the bedroom, and consequently, her world is lonely and incomplete.
"I would love to," Andrea replies, and hope fills Miranda. It is a start, and although she dearly wants to make love to Andrea right now, she instead tangles their fingers together and asks her what her current newspaper article is about. Small steps are needed to avoid spooking Andrea. And self-control. Lots of self-control.
So, Miranda is willing to be patient. She has the girl. She will not watch her walk away.
Chapter 3: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Part 2
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Part 2
Rain hits the windowpanes, waking Miranda's restless sleep. Another night without Andrea by her side. Sighing, Miranda rolls over to stare at the Parisian weather balefully. Andrea has ruined her. For two months they have lived together, and Miranda has found herself unable to concentrate on her work during this week's separation. She huffs in exasperation. What a waste of time. All week she has attended countless shows, luncheons, and soirées. And for the first time since she began working in fashion, she does not want to be here. She misses Andrea. It is unbearable.
The first Paris Fashion Week after Andrea left her employ, Miranda worked hard not to think about the year before. She strictly kept her mind focused on why she was there. And as the years passed, the ache dulled. However, now that she has Andrea in her life, in her heart, now that she is living with the woman and discovering more reasons to love her every day, Miranda feels bereft not falling asleep or waking up next to the younger woman. Each day away makes Miranda feel more restless, and she is about ready to climb out of her skin. She wants Andrea next to her today, now, and every day thereafter.
Noticing the time, Miranda groans, placing the back of her hand over her eyes like some damsel in distress. Inhaling deeply, she sits up with a sigh. Two more days. Two more days of being the Queen of Fashion before she can return to New York and hold Andrea in her arms. And never again will she allow them to remain apart for so long. She just needs to get through today and tomorrow.
Hearing a knock, Miranda rises, wrapping her robe around her tightly and tamping down her hair and sour mood before opening the door. Nigel stands there, several papers in his hand. He smiles as Miranda opens the door wide enough for him to enter.
"Good morning, darling," he says in much too good a mood as he brushes past her. He walks straight to the telephone, picks it up, and orders room service for two.
"Did we schedule a breakfast meeting that I am unaware of?" Miranda asks sardonically.
"No. But we are both in desperate need of caffeine, and we both know that if we don't eat now, we won't eat all day."
"Hmmm," Miranda agrees wearily as she sinks into a high-back, winged chair. Crossing her legs, she takes the proffered documents and dons her glasses to review them. They begin comparing notes from the day before, and Miranda becomes more short-tempered with each moment that passes.
She loves her work. Truly she does. But she loves Andrea more. And that realization scares her immensely. Does she even miss me?
"All right, Miranda. I didn't want to have to do this, but clearly, I have no choice," Nigel says grimly.
"Whatever are you going on about?" Miranda says as she pins him with her glare, aggravated by the tone of his voice and the determination in his eyes. She does not have time for such nonsense.
"You are going home. Today."
"Don't be absurd! We have two more days of shows, parties, meetings. I cannot possibly leave early," Miranda says dismissively.
"No, no!" Nigel says, waving his finger in front of her face. "We can have you on a plane by six tonight. You'll only miss the last two shows today and tomorrow's shows, and I will stand in for you." He gazes at her pensively. "You really miss her, don't you?"
Miranda opens her mouth to refute his statement, but she cannot bring herself to lie. She does miss Andrea. Desperately. She can feel herself flushing as she nods slightly, more of a tilt of the head than anything else. She can feel emotions building behind her eyes, and the gut-wrenching feeling of discontent gnaws at her incessantly. She blinks several times as she looks away from Nigel's knowing look, needing a moment to control her chaotic emotions. She wants to go home. Of course she does. But she has a job to do, too. Can she justify leaving early? Will anyone care? Will it make Andrea happy?
A knock at the door signals their food has arrived. They eat in companionable silence, Miranda wondering whether Andrea has been taking care of herself while they have been apart. She does love watching Andrea eat. Her lover has such a healthy appetite.
Taking out her cell phone, Miranda quickly types, Thinking of you, darling. I can't wait to hold you in my arms again. M xoxo
"Tell her I said hello," Nigel says cheekily.
And Nigel sends his hellos, Miranda finishes before sending the text. "Arrange for me to fly out after the Valentino show," Miranda says softly before taking one more sip of her coffee and rising. "I am going to get ready." She stops at her bedroom door and turns to Nigel once more. "And Nigel," she says, capturing his eyes and smiling slightly. "Thank you."
Feeling her phone vibrate as she closes the bedroom door, Miranda feels her spirits rise as she reads Andrea's response.
I miss you so much. You'd better rest up, lady. I intend to make up for lost time once you come home. Love you. A
This is the right decision. She is ready to leave the City of Love for the person who holds her heart.
The return flight provides Miranda with an opportunity to rest. She does not want to be too tired when she arrives home since she has every intention of reacquainting herself with every inch of Andrea's beautiful body. She indulges in thoughts of how she will touch her lover, how she will evoke those breathless moans and pleading mewls. God, she has missed her.
Feeling the week's whirlwind schedule catching up with her, Miranda calls over a flight attendant and directs her to awaken her an hour before they land. After being reassured that it will be done, Miranda allows herself to close her eyes. Her last thoughts are of Andrea's wide smile and beaming chocolate eyes. Soon she will see them in person.
As soon as Miranda walks through her front door, she feels the stress of their separation ease. No lights are on downstairs, but she is sure Andrea is home. She waves toward the corner, and Roy deposits her luggage in the front parlor before leaving. She removes her coat quickly and climbs the stairs to their bedroom, eager to see Andrea.
Halfway to her destination, she pauses. She could swear she hears Andrea moaning her name. Reaching the open bedroom door, Miranda covers her mouth with her hand as she watches Andrea trying desperately to reach completion by her own hand. The tableau is so erotic she feels her body heat up immediately and her nipples harden. Miranda hurriedly removes her clothes, her eyes fastened on Andrea's body as she struggles to find relief. Miranda's body clenches as she hears her name shouted, and the proof of Miranda's arousal from watching Andrea coats her inner thighs.
Not able to stay away any longer, Miranda crosses the room swiftly and captures parted lips as her fingers seek out Andrea's swollen clit. She doesn't allow Andrea to remove the two fingers she has buried inside herself. Instead, she cups the hand as they kiss and kiss and kiss.
It is divine.
Ravenously, Miranda sucks on a forceful tongue, tasting desperation and relief and desire. Finally releasing now-swollen lips, Miranda takes Andrea's breast in her mouth as she sets up a rhythm by pressing against Andrea's hand and rocking against her.
She whispers how much she has missed Andrea, how wonderful she is, how she had to return home early to be with her. The fantasies she indulged in late at night over the past week are pale comparisons to the reality of this luscious body undulating under her. She feels so hungry, and only loving Andrea can slake her relentless yearning. As she shimmies down to lick the sensitive nerve center currently standing at attention, Miranda grins savagely. Andrea is hers. She was fantasizing about Miranda as she sought release just moments ago. Knowing that Andrea is true to her even within the privacy of her salacious urges rockets Miranda's confidence into the stratosphere. It reassures her in a profound way that Andrea loves her unconditionally, absolutely, unequivocally.
Andrea's body speeds up as Miranda pours out her heart, her fantasies, her need to be with Andrea through a steady stream of words, suddenly finding it easy to express herself. Miranda pushes her finger in between the two sliding in and out of Andrea's slick passage, wanting to feel Andrea's inner walls pulsating, wanting to be closer.
When Andrea climaxes, her body freezing in the air as ecstasy overtakes her, Miranda stares greedily. She can never get enough of this. It is her sustenance. Miranda's body reacts forcefully, and she rides out her resulting orgasm blissfully. God, I needed that! she thinks in a daze as her body slows down. Andrea has passed out. Of course. She usually does for a few minutes after she reaches completion.
Smiling tenderly, Miranda removes their hands from their snug haven and moves up to embrace Andrea. She runs her fingers through sweaty locks rhythmically, so damn glad she is home. She cannot imagine not having Andrea in her life. Not now. Not her. Their lives have become so intertwined, and she knows Andrea will not leave her again. She wants to show everyone this amazing woman, wants everyone to see how happy this woman makes her feel. It's time they make a statement to the world, to each other; it's time to claim Andrea publicly. And in return she will allow herself to be claimed.
As Andrea wakes, her eyes glowing with affection, Miranda interlaces their fingers and lifts their hands to her lips to kiss. She can tell Andrea is bursting with questions, but she is obviously exhausted. She has not taken care of herself during Miranda's absence. So, sleep is more essential than important questions.
Tomorrow they can talk. Tomorrow Miranda will make another grand gesture. Tomorrow they will enter the next phase in their lives. It will be glorious. And lovely. And perfect. Miranda is certain. And regardless of what the future brings, Miranda is convinced that they will face it together, and their commitment to one another will only deepen. Her earlier fear that Andrea might not have missed her was obviously unfounded. No words need to be professed when all she needs to know shines through luminescent eyes. Miranda settles down next to her love, holding her closely as Andrea falls into an exhausted sleep. And she smiles.
They have each other. And they shall walk hand in hand.