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More of a Fair Fight

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With exaggerated patience, the twins explained the concept of the ‘boogie board’ but Andrea played dumb for the entertainment it gave her. Caroline’s serious demeanor never wavered but her sister threw her hands up in the air and declared Andrea unteachable. She joined her mother and Fen as they walked along the beach.

“Don’t be scared.” Caroline said, holding Andrea’s hand, her expression earnest.

Andrea squatted down to the little girl’s level. “I’ll try not to be.”

“Good. Now, just try, okay? I will run next you the whole way, I promise.”

“Caroline Priestly, you are such a wonderful little person.” Andrea hugged her. “Do you know that?”

Hesitantly, little hands scudded across her shoulders then came to rest on her cheeks.

“Yes. Now, let’s do this, Andy.”

As instructed, she threw the board down when the shallow wave rushed up the shore, then quickly hopped onto it and laughed. No stranger to boogieboarding, Andrea skimmed across the receding wave with her hands in the air.

Caroline ran up to her, arms akimbo, yelling, “You did it! You did it!”

Andrea picked up the board then turned and caught her one-handed, swinging her around in a circle.

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“If you keep looking at me like that...” Miranda breathed against Andrea’s neck, then bit it gently. “I’m going to fuck you up against this wall.”

The moan exiting her mouth fell on Miranda’s cheek. “God, do it.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Miranda purred into her mouth as she lightly rubbed the seam of Andrea’s shorts. “You want me to take you, don’t you? Push my fingers inside you, hmm?”

“God damn it.” Andrea’s faint curse lacked bite.

Miranda slipped away, her suggestive laughter trailing behind her.

The feral urge to yank Miranda back and demand satisfaction rolled through Andrea’s body. Miranda knew exactly how to get to her.

“I’m going to make you regret walking away!”

Miranda paused at the bathroom doorway, blue eyes icy-hot. “Then by all means, cub, come join me in the shower.”

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Andrea and the girls played a road game, picking out the alphabet from license plates and road signs then calling out the letters. Miranda drove, casually draping a wrist over the upper arc of the steering wheel, the other hand in her lap. Hair tousled, she still represented New York chic with a pattern knot jersey and Andrea adored it. Every so often her eyes strayed to Miranda. She remembered the shower sex, knew the marks she left on Miranda’s pale skin hidden by material that rippled in a gentle breeze. It was heady and inexplicably exciting to know this woman was hers.

“H!” Caroline called out.

Right behind her Cassidy exclaimed, “I,J, K!”

Fen sang out, “L-M-N-O-Peeee!”

The game abandoned, the girls started singing the alphabet which turned into the twins singing the song they made up for Fen. Andrea looked at Miranda. As if sensing Andrea’s eyes, Miranda glanced at her and smiled knowingly.

In that moment, Andrea fought not to reach across the console and kiss Miranda. Nate had been content to exist in the shallow waters with her but Miranda dove deeper, synching with Andrea in an elemental way. Yeah, the sex was incredible but, in time, that connection would most likely experience ups and downs. Andrea looked out the window, not really seeing the scenery. Her love for Miranda, well, it would follow her to the grave no matter what happened to them in between.

“Mom, are we there yet?” Cassidy yelled above the singing.

Andrea twisted in her seat, stretching as far as the seat belt allowed, to address the children.

“Hold on, you guys. I can’t hear what Sid said.”

Fen instructed loudly, “Shhhhh. Mummers talking.”

“I just wanted to know how much longer.” Cassidy explained, smiling a bit bashfully.

The cab of the car was finally quiet, a fact Andrea appreciated. She glanced at Miranda.

“About ten minutes.” Miranda checked the side mirror before turning on the blinker. “Caroline, tell everyone the rules.”

“Never wander off.” She patted Fen’s leg, looking at her somberly. “Always be close enough to hold hands and stay with the adults.”

Maman, m’emmène?

Oui, je le fera, mon chou.”

Andrea raised her eyebrows at Miranda.

“She wants to go with me and I told her yes.”

“I see.” Andrea replied, lowering her eyes and taking her time admiring the line of Miranda’s throat, the stubborn tilt of her chin and the almost arrogant curve of her red lips.

It was intriguing how the curvature of Miranda’s mouth could be shaped with hard lines yet convey such tenderness when touching Andrea’s skin. A small tingle skirted down her spine. Whether Miranda was mad or happy, Andrea was engaged. For the most part, Nate had been one dimensional although she conceded Lily’s experience with her ex-husband could be different.

“We’re here. Andrea?” Miranda’s small smile was hesitant.

“Oh, sorry, I was just thinking.”

The girls started calling out what flea market’s had, if there were rides, and could they get a pony.

Andrea dug into her pocket and withdrew a ten dollar bill when they stopped at parking booth then handed it to Miranda. Once parked, Andrea got the stroller from the back of the vehicle while Miranda watched the girls who teetered on hyperactive after being couped up in the car for almost an hour. Andrea took Miranda’s purse and placed it in a zippered compartment in the stroller but she kept her own license and money in her front pocket.

The stroller easily handled the uneven surface of the sandy graveled lot as they headed for the entrance behind a family of four. Overhead, the sun hung in the east, not quite at half-blaze and there was a light breeze gently sweeping through the tree-sheltered acreage that the flea market occupied. Andrea inhaled with appreciation. Such a pleasant change from the urban beat of their lives in New York, the vibe of the small Florida town soothed her in a way city life never did.  

Miranda’s shoulder brushed against hers. The twins held hands with Fen a little in front of them. There was only one more thing which would make her contentment complete.

“You seem preoccupied, darling.”

Shrugging, she whispered, “I wish we could hold hands.”

Miranda nodded, looking at the girls as she said, “Once everything’s settled, I will hold your hand in front of the world every day.”

Andrea noticed the tightness around Miranda’s mouth, how her chin angled slightly downward and her shoulders looked ready to tackle someone. Touched, she rubbed the band of muscle hugging one side of Miranda’s spine.

“And what about kisses? Will the world see those, too, every day?”

 The spark in Miranda’s deep blue eyes contrasted with the downturn of her lips and, naturally, Andrea wanted to kiss the sadness off her face. No matter the circumstances, there was always an element of heat between them but what rose to the forefront had more to do with the fierce love Andrea felt for Miranda.

“Yes, should that be your wish.”

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Instead of filled by Fen, the stroller carried the various things they bought. Cassidy’s mouth was ringed with red from the snow cone she mostly consumed. Her sister, much more fastidious, simply sported a blue tongue. Fen shared Miranda’s strawberry and cream swirl, holding a small spoonful up to her mouth which occasionally landed on Fen’s shirt or Miranda’s. Andrea smiled and handed over some wet naps to everyone.

“Mom, can we get a kite? Please?” Caroline asked, tugging on the side of Miranda’s loose cotton and linen trousers which were rolled up above the ankle.

Andrea followed the direction Caroline indicated, an uncovered site along the tree line next to a pavilion.

“I wanna go, maman!”

Miranda told the girls to hold Fen’s hand and walk slightly ahead of her and Andrea.

But Andrea hung back, realizing what her daughter called Miranda.

“She called you ‘mommy’, didn’t she?”

Pushing her sunglasses up, she squinted as Miranda said, “You didn’t say anything this morning so I thought you were fine with it.”

“It’s okay, really. I guess it didn’t register then.” A tiny bubble of happiness grew in her chest.

Miranda put her hands in her pockets, looking at the ground as they walked. “It’s what the twins call me when they’re speaking French. To be honest, Andrea, it made me very happy, but I understand if...”

“Have the girls heard her call you that?”

“Yes, in the car when we arrived. Cassidy asked to go to the beach and Fen said she did too then called me maman. I suppose Cara heard it, too, but no one said anything about it.”

They stood off to the side, close to the girls who were looking at the kites. Andrea restrained herself from pulling Miranda into a hug. She looked so uncertain.

Leaning in and tilting her head to the side, Andrea murmured slyly, “Or our children can call you...daddy?”

Miranda scowled as her face flushed pink.

Andrea schooled her expression into something she hoped mirrored innocence. In a low voice, she taunted, “Don’t you want to get me pregnant?”

“You—"

Delighted by her ability to flabbergast Miranda,  Andrea grinned then squeezed her forearm.

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The sun was descending in the late afternoon by the time they returned home. Miranda brought in the things from the car to the house while Andrea put Fen down for a nap. As she smoothed back Fen’s hair, she heard the twins calling out for Cara, their sandals slapping against the wood floor. A quiet contentment filled her. Fen puffed out some air then wrinkled her nose. Andrea bit her lip and tucked the covers around her daughter, knowing they would be kicked off at some point.

What would it be like to have a child with Miranda, she wondered. The idea of carrying Miranda’s fertilized egg slid up front in her consciousness as if on cue. Unable to deny it gave her a deep nurturing thrill, nevertheless, they weren’t ready. But, feeling wicked, Andrea smiled as she remembered the look on Miranda’s face when she goaded her about being called daddy. She smoothed down the blanket over Fen’s hip and down the side of her leg, then gave into fantasy of Miranda penetrating her, filling her. Instantly her body reacted but the excitement and wantonness were driven by a non-sexual need. She wanted to mate. The idea of Miranda impregnating her was as conflicting as it was visceral.

“What are you thinking about?” Miranda whispered.

Andrea jerked back, looking over her shoulder. Gently Miranda sat down on the bed behind her. Embarrassed by her thoughts, she ducked her head and tried to think of an answer.

A palm pressed between Andrea’s shoulder blades then she felt Miranda shift. Firm fingers massaged her trapezius muscles.

“You looked so...I don’t know.” she whispered reverently, her lips skimming the shell of Andrea’s ear. “Tell me, darling.”

“I, uh...” Swallowing past the small lump in her throat, she kept thinking how to phrase what she had been thinking. “I love you so much.” Andrea twisted a little to stare into Miranda’s eyes. “When we’re being intimate, I feel...I want...sometimes it’s overwhelming. It’s not sexual or maybe...I dunno.”

The corners of Miranda’s mouth twitched.

Andrea glared at her.

“Whatever it is you’re trying to say, my love, stop editing it and say it.”

“Sometimes I wish you could get me...pregnant.” Andrea stared at her own hands. “Sometimes I want to feel you so deep inside of me that the thought of carrying your child makes me want to take you in, take all of you in.”

Miranda grabbed Andrea’s waist and pulled her close. She licked the side of her neck then fastened her lips on Andrea’s earlobe.

“I sometimes have the same thoughts of you, Andrea.”

The heated breath pluming down her neck made her back slowly bow. Andrea turned her head toward Miranda whose hands slid from her shoulders to her elbows.

In answer, Andrea let out a high-pitched moan.

Palming Andrea’s breasts, she whispered, “I’m open to exploration.”

Fen rolled over in her sleep and pushed the blanket off her shoulders.

Abruptly standing up, Miranda rubbed her forehead and quietly muttered, “I can’t believe I...”

Andrea joined her a few feet away from the bed then cupped Miranda’s face between her hands. “Easy.” she whispered. “Fen’s asleep. It’s okay. I need this time with you, too, okay?”

Blue eyes flared but Miranda remained physically aloof. “I’m going to talk to Cara about dinner. But tonight...” Snatching the waistband of Andrea’s shorts, Miranda tugged her close. “Tonight I’m going to own you.”

Andrea nudged her hips forward in invitation. “You’re welcome to try.”

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Cara made tacos, chicken and ground beef, for dinner. She had spent the day on the beach then the pool, her tanned skin even darker, and mood vastly improved. Andrea looked over her shoulder to make sure they were alone in the kitchen.

“Cara, are you angry at Miranda?”

The abrupt way the woman set down the plate onto the counter didn’t make a loud noise. It was the fact that Cara hadn’t finished putting together Caroline’s chicken tacos that confirmed Andrea’s suspicion.

“I’m not angry. Not really.” Facing her, Cara rubbed the side of her nose and looked somewhere over Andrea’s shoulder. “I’m...worried.”

“About?”

Cara, crossing her arms, leaned against the counter as she calmly regarded Andrea. “When Miranda dated Stephen, it was like a business decision. Same thing with the marriage and divorce. The last guy was a strategic maneuver, you know, to gain some contacts on the sly. But you...” Cara pointed her finger in emphasis at Andrea. “...you have the keys to the vault.”

“You’re want to know my ‘endgame’?”

Scowling, she sputtered, “What-no. Miranda’s no fool. That’s not what I’m gettin’ at.”

Andrea pulled in her anger but she frowned at Cara, drumming her nails on the countertop as she waited for the woman to continue.

“You’re her blind spot, Andrea. I worry she’s not protecting herself from the possibility of you two being outed before the divorce is final.”

The idea of resigning dangled in front of her mind’s eye. Miranda’s job and legacy would be safe and she could always go back to Vogue or another fashion publication. Talking to Anna would likely yield the answers to a few very important questions about Andrea’s future in the business but...Miranda asked Andrea to trust her.

“She knows what she’s doing, Cara.”

“Does she? She’d sacrifice herself for you. You’ve gotta know that.”

“How long have you worked for Miranda?” Andrea ground out, standing tall with her hands by her sides.

“Since the twins were born.”

“Then you know when Miranda asks you to trust her...you do.”

Cara’s surprised expression hung for a second or two then her facial muscles tightened and she nodded.

“Okay. Good. No worries then.”

She looked at Cara who looked right back at her.

“But we’re still gonna protect her?”

“Hell yeah, we are.” Andrea intoned.

Cara held up her fist and Andrea bumped it with her own.

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Andrea trailed after Miranda as she took a seat by the firepit on the ground deck. After dinner they played a few card games with the children then watched a movie. Fen had been the first to conk out but the twins weren’t far behind. Cara rustled the girls into bed, giving Miranda and Andrea some more time alone.

Holding up a slip of paper between two fingers, Miranda arched a brow at Andrea, a sly smile just lifting her lips.

“Let me see.” Andrea said, grabbing for it.

Miranda extended her hand to put it well within Andrea’s reach.

Grinning, she eagerly slanted the piece of paper toward the firepit and recognized her own handwriting.

A walk somewhere outside.

Underneath the sentence Miranda had penned holding hands.

The smile forming on her lips stretched them tightly. She rose, carefully tucking the silly Valentine’s gift ‘coupon’ into the front pocket of her shorts. Already barefoot and standing by the stairs leading to the beach, Miranda held out her hand. Although she didn’t smile, Andrea nevertheless saw it in her soft gaze.

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While Cara took the children down to the beach for one last frolic in the shallow waves, Andrea set out clothes for Fen then started packing up her daughter’s things. Despite having her back to the door, she felt Miranda enter and smiled at the tiny shirt she just folded. A faint cloud of Miranda’s scent and skin product enveloped Andrea as Miranda slowly wrapped two arms around her waist from behind.

Placing a soft, moist kiss against her neck, she pulled Andrea closer.

“Don’t start something.” Andrea huffed, only half-kidding.

“I’d like to finish something that hasn’t stopped since we were separated last night by your demon spawn.”

Andrea laughed under her breath. “I tried to warn you.”

“She has a stuffed sloth. I thought she saw the movie, Andrea.”

“Nope. One visit to the zoo and she was hooked on sloths.”

Miranda squeezed her then nuzzled her neck.

Goosebumps broke out on Andrea’s arms as balmy air caressed her skin and wet lips plucked it with maddening gentleness.

“Ahh.” Miranda’s low chuckle vibrated against Andrea’s sensitive back. “You’re so ready for me, aren’t you?”

As if to underscore her point, Miranda lightly pinched one of the hard tips of Andrea’s breasts that shown through the thin t-shirt.

Andrea’s body slackened. The wet excitement between her legs hadn’t gone away entirely from the day before. She inhaled and tamped down the spike.

“I never thought Ice Age could give a child nightmares about not being able to save her stuffed sloth from dinosaurs.”

Miranda’s palms slid up Andrea’s stomach underneath the t-shirt.  She pushed out her chests, dropping the folded shirt as she steadied her hands against Miranda’s thighs behind her. It was in vain because Miranda dropped her hands just shy of  touching her breasts. She took a few steps away.

“You get back here and finish.” Andrea snapped, gaze narrowing as she turned around.

“Now isn’t the time.” Miranda teased and took another step backward, looking so pleased with herself that Andrea clenched her jaw.

“You are evil.”

Hand on the doorjamb, she looked back and replied, “I need you on edge for what I have in mind when we get back to New York.”

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 Luggage ready by the door, everyone had lunch out on the lower deck. Fen wore a floppy hat to protect her face from the sun until it kept obscuring her eyes. With a frustrated huff, she pulled it off. Caroline switched seats with her so Fen would be in the shade next to Miranda. Cassidy and Fen were giggling, showing their chewed food and making faces at one another. Andrea turned a blind eye for a little longer. The trip had been so lovely, she determined to incorporate more such vacations into their schedules. Her daughter was so happy, cared for by the entire Priestly household. Last night Andrea, watching from the shadows, flushed with warmth as Cara fed Fen a tiny dollop of whipped cream then kissed the toddler’s nose, obviously a secret between the two of them when Cara held her finger up to her lips.

In spite of an extreme case of sexual frustration, a result from her daughter’s innocent sabotage by crawling into her mother’s bed last night, Andrea felt relaxed and content. The beach home was idyllic, the perfect place to unwind and spend time with the girls. Sad to be leaving, Andrea decided to talk to Miranda about returning in the summer.

“Andrea,  your phone is vibrating.” Cara announced as she came from the house, holding up the device. “It was on the kitchen counter.”

“Oh, thanks.” she said, smiling then opening the text message from Demetria.

“Is something wrong?” Miranda asked.

Andrea couldn’t look up. She scratched the side of her jaw as if trying to puzzle out what her reaction should be.

“Andrea.”

The stern pronunciation of her name did the trick. She met Miranda’s concerned gaze and shrugged. Glancing at the phone she said, “Demetria sent me a text.”

And?”

She swallowed. “I think my parents are waiting in my apartment. Demetria wants me to act surprised.”