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I Know You

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Miranda sat on the park bench and watched the sunrise. It was odd. She had watched the solar display several times with Andrea, but now sitting here alone she actually paid attention to the changing colors instead of being distracted by her companion's reaction. It was nice. She supposed she would need to seek out Andrea soon though. Pavel had found Richard's address so when she gained the courage she would make her way there, it wasn't far. Right now though she was just trying to figure out what on Earth she was going to say to Andrea.

Early morning birds were beginning to chirp, and joggers were starting to pass the bench she had found. The footfalls approaching and passing was soothing and Miranda closed her eyes to fully enjoy the sound. It was so different than the sounds of the city. After a group of runners had passed by, Miranda heard a solitary runner's footsteps approaching. She waited for them to pass, except they didn't. The footsteps slowed and the bench bounced slightly as the person also sat. Familiar perfume told Miranda who her visitor was a split second before they spoke.

“Come here often?”

Opening her eyes, Miranda drank in the sight of Andrea and all her perspiring glory. “So, you're speaking to me now?”

“Yeah.” Andy leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees and examine the ground between her feet. “Well... I guess since you came all this way, you probably have something to say.” She looked over at Miranda. “And I would like to hear it.”

Miranda nodded. “I missed you.”

Andy also nodded. “And?”

“You have every right to be angry with me.”

Continuing her nod, Andy prompted, “And?”

“I should have told you about all this a long time ago and prepared you for the possibilities. I meant to.”

Andy smiled. “And?”

Miranda glared at her bench mate, frustrated that all Andrea would do is sit there smiling and saying “and”. She sat there, glaring until Andy raised an eyebrow in question then Miranda relented.

“And.. I'm sorry.”

“There now...” Andy slid closer, putting her arm around Miranda's shoulder. “Was that so difficult?”

Miranda sighed, “It nearly killed me.”

“Apologizing?” Andy squeezed slightly and kissed Miranda's temple. “C'mon...”

“No... that... that was earned. What I did was unforgivable. What...nearly happened to you, is unforgivable.” Miranda explained. “I thought that being without you, watching you walk away, that was the worst thing I have ever endured and I didn't wish to ever experience it again. The second time was even more difficult. I won't survive the next time. But seeing you tied, in such danger...knowing it was because of me, that was...” Miranda shook her head. “If anything had happened to you it would have killed me as surely as putting a gun to my head.”

“Miranda. It wasn't because of you.” Andy pulled away slightly to look into Miranda's turbulent blue eyes. “And there won't be a next time. You made sure I'm safe, you told them to leave me alone, and I won't leave you again.”

Shifting away, Miranda shook her head. “I don't deserve that.” She stood, taking a step toward the paved path only to have her way blocked by Andrea.

“Maybe not.” Andy smiled and slid her arms around Miranda's waist. “But I do.” She leaned forward to kiss Miranda's lips lightly. “Because being without you was terrible and I don't believe I can do that again either.”

“But...” Miranda shook her head. “How can you just...forgive.”

“Research.” Andy smiled softly and began to lead Miranda down the walkway, just like they were on a stroll back home in Central Park. “Remember? I did the research. I also had the entire drive here to think about it. I know the who, what, where, when, why.. I know you never really interfered with my life in a bad way and most importantly, I know that you released me.” Pavel had made that very clear to her when they were talking. “I just wish that the Mijong family had understood that too.”

“That would have been nice.” But the last 'w' caught Miranda's attention. “Why?” Miranda scoffed but relaxed as their walk continued. “Because I'm a vindictive bitch?”

“You're not...”

“Don't fool yourself, Andrea. I most certainly am.” Miranda sighed at the thought, the injustice she had perpetrated on the child who had turned into this wonderful woman.

“You're not.” Andy insisted. “If you were, you wouldn't have done all the things you did for me.” She grinned. “You were less like the wicked witch and more like a fairy godmother.”

Miranda's eyes widened considerably even though her voice lowered. “What?”

“Fairy Godmother.” Andy repeated as she mimed twirling a magic wand around. “You know, bippity boppity boo.”

“Pfft..” Miranda scoffed, “I'll bippity boppity you, if you ever say that again.”

Andy's eyes clearly reflected her mischievous streak, “Promise?”

Miranda rolled her eyes but looked suspiciously like she was suppressing a smile as they continued walking. The boundaries of the park gave way to residential streets and then Andrea pulled them to a halt.

“Would you like to come in for breakfast?” Andy bit her lip, waiting for Miranda's response.

Looking up at the perfectly normal house, Miranda suddenly felt cold dread running down her spine. “With your parents?”

“They do live here.”

Considering that, Miranda nodded. “It has been quite some time since I've seen Richard.” The corners of her mouth twitched at the thought of his reaction to her in his own home. “And I've never met your mother, Dorothy. So I suppose breakfast would be acceptable.”

“Great!” Andy guided Miranda up the stairs and around the large porch to the kitchen side door. “Mom's making pancakes.”

“Oh carbs, yay.”

The deadpanned response earned a side-eye from Andy, but she opened the door and walked inside, dragging Miranda with her into the kitchen.

###

Whatever conversation had been going on before their entrance stopped. Dorothy stopped her cooking and looked at her daughter's arm wrapped around the older woman's waist. Richard and Mike both stopped short when they seemed to both recognize Miranda at the same time.

“You.” “You!”

Miranda tilted her head slightly while addressing each of them. “Richard.” Her gaze shifted to the other man. “Detective.”

Andy was shocked. “You know him?!” She glanced up at the ceiling. “Why am I surprised?”

“He was one of the detectives assigned to my parent's murder case.” Miranda watched the man's reactions. He was, in fact, the one she had dubbed 'bad cop' in her head. “Matt or Mark...or...”

“Mike.” He looked disgusted at the other names. “I'm retired. I am a private investigator now.”

“Mmmm...” Miranda sounded bored of the whole conversation. “Of course you are.” She allowed Andrea to guide her to the table and took the seat her companion held out for her. “And what, may I ask, are you doing here?”

“Oh.” Mike gestured toward Richard and smiled. “Dick and I are old friends. And you?” He glanced at Andy and his smile turned lecherous. “As if I didn't know.”

“Being observant is a wonderful trait for a private detective to have.” Miranda tilted her head but didn't actually answer the question.

“Yeah.” He slouched back into his chair and continued to watch her closely. “It is.”

“Not quite as necessary when you have someone giving you the information you need.” Miranda's expression and tone conveyed her severe disdain for the man.

“What?” Mike was no longer relaxed. He glanced at Richard who was also now wary of Miranda's words. They were both in shock when Miranda continued.

“I'm speaking of Richard being your informant.” Miranda's forehead actually wrinkled. “Of course, Nicoli would have loved that arrangement. I'm sure that's the only reason he allowed it.” She smirked when Richard intently studied his shoes and Mike became outraged.

“Allowed it?!”

Miranda was ruthless. “Of course. He, and by he I mean Nicoli, used the police to do his dirty work. Richard fed you the information they wanted you to have, the police shut down his rivals and Nicoli's territory grew... brilliant. I'm sure it didn't hurt your reputation on the force did it, Detective.” She shrugged. “You were about to be set for life weren't you Richard? Nicolette would have inherited quite a sum, and you, Richard, would have taken the reigns of the Maretti organization in one hand, while holding a brand new Law Degree in the other. I imagine you had aspirations for the District Attorney position. That would make running your own illegal organization quite a bit easier, I would think. Unfortunately your little plan turned sour when the Maretti's books were confiscated.” She smiled, not a nice smile even though her eyes crinkled slightly at the corners. “Now... I wonder... who could have tipped the police off to that little bit of information...”

Mike began laughing. He pushed away from the table and stood, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. “Lady, you are a piece of work.” He waved off Richard's outrage and walked to the door. “I'll let you deal with this. Catch you later, Dick.” Then he was out the door.

“You were the anonymous source?” Richard was astonished that Miriam had anything to do with that incident. “Did you call for the hit on the family too?”

Miranda was acutely aware of Andrea's hand withdrawing from her own, but she scoffed at the idea. “I was no such thing, and of course I didn't 'call for the hit'.” Her cool blue eyes locked with Richard's gaze and she admitted. “I was the anonymous caller's source, but I had nothing to do with the hit. I would have rather they went to prison.” She shook her head. “I suspect a rival didn't want anyone talking about the connections they had with the family.”

Richard accepted that response at face value. It was the most plausible scenario and he didn't doubt the woman's assertion that she would have rather seen the Maretti family in jail. When Dorothy told him to sit down because breakfast was nearly ready he did so, not commenting when Andy rose at the same time. He said nothing to Miranda as they both watched Dorothy and Andy prepare plates of food. Richard nodded once in thanks as his plate was placed in front of him and tried not to notice as Andy provided the same food delivery service for Miranda.

Miranda murmured a thank you to Andrea as her food was delivered. She waited a momentarily for Dorothy and Andrea to retrieve their own plates and settle into their places. After her first bite, she politely acknowledged Dorothy's efforts. “Delicious.”

“Thank you.” Dorothy took a bite of her own and enjoyed a few moments of silence as they all indulged in the home cooked breakfast. She scooped some eggs onto a last bit of biscuit and chewed it slowly, swallowing before speaking. “Andy was quite upset when she arrived.” Looking at Miranda, Dorothy tilted her head slightly. “I'm not exactly happy about that.”

“Mom.” Andy pushed her nearly empty plate away. “It's okay. I did a lot of thinking on the trip here. And,” she glanced at Miranda, “we worked it out.”

“Mmm...” Dorothy nodded. “So I see.” She looked Miranda directly in the eye. “But I wouldn't want it to happen again.”

Miranda held the gaze but licked her lips before responding. “No. Neither would I.”

Dorothy gave Miranda a curt nod and helped herself to another biscuit. As far as she was concerned, the matter was settled.

Richard was incredulous as he watched his wife calmly spooning some gravy onto her biscuit. “Seriously? That's it? That's all you have to say?”

“It's all she needed to say.” Miranda again met the woman's gaze and nodded once. “We understand each other.”

“Great.” Richard stabbed a bite of sausage. “At least one of us understands something then.”

Miranda finished eating and pushed the nearly empty plate slightly away. “There is something that I don't understand... about that night?” She knew he was fully aware of what night she was referring to. She didn't want to relive it, but at least one thing had always puzzled her. When Richard reluctantly nodded, Miranda asked, “Why did you choose that night?”

His stomach turned and he too pushed his plate away, although his was still half full. “Three days before that night Androv had taken me into his office, poured me a drink and then he showed me where he kept the books.” Richard sighed. “On 'that' day he told me that he was taking Mira out for a romantic dinner. I knew when and where their reservations were, so I knew they wouldn't be home... at least, I thought they wouldn't be.” He shook his head sadly. “I don't know why they were home and I don't know why the books weren't in the wall safe where they were supposed to be.”

Miranda went very still. Andy noticed and swallowed hard when she watched as Miranda seemed to force herself to breathe. “Miranda?” She barely heard Miranda's quiet words.

“It was a test.”

“What?” Richard again didn't understand. “A test?”

Miranda blinked the tear out of her eye. “He didn't trust you. He thought you'd come for the books yourself.”

“How do you...”

Now Miranda's voice was firm, not loud but solid. “He never kept the books in the wall safe. He said that was the first place anyone would look.” She shook her head. “If you saw them there, if he told you he kept them there, it was a test, to see if you would go for them.”

“But...”

“He had lost trust in you. He wouldn't have tested you otherwise.” Miranda shook her head and a sort of ironic sound of dismay came from the back of her throat. “It was just a test, but you didn't take it. You sent someone else.”

All three woman at the table saw the genuine pain on his face when the realization hit him. “He was going to confront me.” He swallowed hard and they all knew he was fighting not to be sick. “I told the Maretti's where... I killed him...” He swallowed hard, correcting himself to include Miriam's mother. “Them.” He became angry though, “But the books weren't ever found and I didn't have anything to do with the fire! They swore they didn't find the books or set a fire!”

Andy was frozen at the table, watching the exchange between her father and the woman she loved, but a single tear sliding down Miranda's cheek spurred her into motion. She cupped Miranda's cheek with her hand and wiped the tear away with her thumb. “You okay?”

Miranda reached up to hold the hand on her cheek and smiled softly as she nodded. “I will be.”

“The books were never found.” Richard sighed and looked at Miranda. “I'm glad.” He shook his head. “Androv worked so hard to build his empire. I'm glad it was able to be passed down to you.”

“The books were found.” Miranda forced her voice to be calm. Much like she had on that day in the interrogation room with the investigators. “I took them. I knew where they were. Papa showed me where he really kept them.”

“You?” Now Richard was even more confused than ever. “When? There wasn't time...”

“After...” Miranda concentrated on breathing. “I saw you in the park, arguing with Nicolette. I went home to speak to father about it and found them... dead.”

“Miranda...” Andy shifted closer, wishing she could offer more support than the seats allowed.

“I'm fine, Darling.” But Miranda leaned slightly closer to the younger woman anyway. Any further confession was stalled when the door burst open and Mike returned, bellowing.

“I KNEW IT!” He stalked to the table. “I KNEW you were a liar!”

Richard instinctively stood to block Mike's path, more to protect Andy than Miranda. “Stop it!” Then what Mike had said dawned on him. “What the hell?” He shoved Mike back toward the door. “You were listening?” He shook his head and thought back. “Damn, how long have you had this house bugged?” He grabbed the front of Mike's shirt and shook him. “How long!”

“I put the mic under the table before I left, earlier.”

“Bullshit!” Richard shook him again. “You knew Dot was making pancakes, but she was only cooking bacon when you got here earlier. You heard her say it before you came in.” He shook Mike again. “How long!”

Mike still didn't say anything but glanced at Miranda. Another rough shake from Richard loosened Mike's tongue. “Last time I was here. Few weeks ago.”

“Why?” Richard stepped back but was ready to intervene again if Mike went nuts again.

“Little Andy here started researching the case.” He shrugged. “I thought if she found anything she would tell you.”

“Well I didn't find anything.” Andy shook her head. “You already know that the Maretti's were the culprits.”

“But nothing I could prove! Not when all the Maretti family was gone too!” Mike pulled his hair. “It's maddening.”

Miranda agreed, “There is nothing anyone can prove.” She did try to ease the man's anxiety somewhat. “I believe the perpetrators of that crime also passed away quite some time ago.” Miranda recalled reading that particular article in the paper along with Pavel's report on the situation. “Victims of organized crime violence if I'm not mistaken.”

“Really?” Mike blinked. “That's all?”

Nodding, Miranda assured him. “That's all.”

Andy blinked at the familiar dismissal. “We should be going soon.” She stood when Miranda nodded and stood.

“Yes.” Miranda turned to Dorothy. “Thank you for breakfast.”

Dorothy nodded and watched as Andy dragged Miranda up to her childhood bedroom. It was too much to think that Andy would stay once Miranda had arrived. The story Andy had told her included some of the soul searching her daughter had done on the trip here. Andy had come to terms with Miranda's past just as Dorothy herself had come to terms with Richard's past. That had been a shocking revelation when Richard had told her about his early years, and Andy's biological ties to the organized crime family. But Dorothy believed that every person had a person that was the 'One' for them, and Dorothy knew that Miranda was Andy's 'One'. So even as horrible as her past was, and even with the brush Andy had with the underworld Miranda had once been involved in, Andy would go with Miranda back to New York. Andy had forgiven Miranda, just as she herself had forgiven Richard for his past and married him. Dorothy began to clear the dishes from the table and barely paid attention when Richard threw Mike out of the house then climbed under the table to remove a small microphone. She knew searching the house for more would keep him occupied for the next few days.

###

Miranda looked around the small room with no small amount of interest. “This is where you grew up?”

“Yep.” Andy continued shoving a few things into her backpack. “This is it.” She stopped packing for a second and looked around then shrugged. “It looked larger when I was a child.”

“I can almost imagine it.” Miranda murmured as she continued to examine the room, running her fingertips along the spines of books lined up on a shelf, making a note of the titles. “You seem to have been quite the precocious child.”

Andy laughed softly. “I was, but those are only from a few years ago.” She grinned at Miranda's shock. “I didn't live here during college, but I did come home to visit.” Tossing her stuffed pack on the bed, Andy joined Miranda in front of the bookcase. “I promise I wasn't reading Dune as a toddler...” she grinned. “All my baby books have long since been donated.” When Miranda didn't respond, Andy gently pressed her palm against Miranda's cheek forcing their eyes to meet. “You okay?” She smiled softly when some shallow lines appeared between Miranda's eyes. “That was an intense scene downstairs, with a lot of memories being stirred up.”

Reaching up to hold the hand now caressing her neck, Miranda assured the younger woman. “Events from before you were born.” A sort of sadness passed behind Miranda's eyes. “I will be fine.”

“Miranda.” Andy shifted closer and meant to say more, but instead pressed her lips against Miranda's.

Forgetting for a moment that she was standing in the home of a man who had filled her heart with hate for many years, Miranda let herself bask in the moment for longer than she should have, losing herself in the warmth of Andrea's kiss, before pulling away. “Darling, we cannot do this here.”

“Mmm...” Andy pressed her forehead against Miranda's. “Yeah, I know.”

Tracing Andrea's cheek and jawline with the backs of her fingers, Miranda chuckled. “I have a perfectly good hotel room, a short drive from here.”

Andy perked up. “Yeah?”

Miranda simply smiled. “Shall we go?”

Andy shouldered her backpack and linked arms with Miranda. “Definitely.”

It did not surprise her that Pavel was waiting outside her parent's house with the car engine running.

###

As it turned out Miranda's idea of a 'perfectly good' hotel room was vastly different than Andy's. The 'room' was a suite as lavish as any luxury apartment in New York. The hotel itself had seemed rather ordinary, but once inside the rooms it was anything but ordinary. There was a bedroom, a bathroom, a sitting area and a full kitchen with all the amenities. Andy's idea of a 'perfectly good' hotel room consisted of a bedroom and separate bathroom, especially 'perfect' if Miranda was in that bed with her. As she looked around the 'perfectly good' room, Andy laughed and asked. “Are you planning on moving to Cincinnati?”

Miranda shrugged. “I wasn't sure how long you would want to remain here, so I...”

“So you just made yourself as comfortable as possible to what? Wait for me to figure things out?”

Miranda studied Andrea's curious expression and nodded as she answered the question. “Yes.”

“But...” Andy was amazed. “What about the girls? What about Runway?”

“The girls are with their father for the time being.” Miranda inclined her head in a sort of nod. “Thank you for asking.” She dismissed the next issue with a wave of her hand. “Runway will be fine with Nigel and the rest of my staff dealing with things until I return. They can always call me if necessary, but I made it quite clear that what they deem necessary and what I believe is necessary may not be the same thing.”

“Mmm...” Andy moved closer, wrapping her arms around Miranda's waist. “They're never gonna call then.”

Miranda agreed, “Not if they know what's good for them.” She slid her fingers into Andrea's hair and guided the younger woman's lips to hers. “Now we just have to keep your phone from ringing.”

“Done.” Andy focused on the lips coming nearer to hers. “I turned my phone off as we left the house.”

Miranda barely heard anything past 'done' and murmured “Good” as she brought their lips together.

###

There were still a great many misgivings that Miranda had to deal with. All of which dissipated the second Andrea's hands began roaming the curves under her shirt. Nothing mattered at the moment except the sensations Andrea was evoking in her. Nothing. She began explorations of her own and their mutual moans only spurred each other to find more. Miranda lifted Andrea's shirt up and over her head, pausing for a second to admire the sight.

“Miranda?”

There was uncertainty in Andrea's tone and that Miranda couldn't allow. Without a word, she took Andrea's hand and led her to the bed. Pressing the younger woman back onto the bed, Miranda resumed her exploration of Andrea's body, this time adding her lips to the effort, mumbling against the trembling flesh, “You're exquisite.” It didn't take long for the tension to evaporate and Andrea also discovered new places on Miranda's body to caress.

It was a glorious night that neither of them wanted to end. Eventually they fell asleep in each others arms and the dawning of a new day found them exactly the same way. Andy shifted and inhaled deeply, content to stay in Miranda's arms for as long as Miranda would allow it. She looked up, slightly, to see Miranda's clear blue eyes studying her. Andy smiled. “I love waking up like this.”

“Mmm..” Miranda tightened her hold momentarily. “It is preferable to anything else I can think of.”

“I love you, Miranda.” Andy pressed her lips together for a second then smiled. “Just thought you should know.”

“Andrea.” Miranda took a deep breath. She didn't really need it, but it gave her half a second more to think about her response. She could, of course, deny the proclamation. With a smile of her own crossing her face, Miranda reciprocated. “I love you, too.” She chuckled at herself. “I have for a long time.”

Andy also chuckled softly. “Not as long as I've loved you.” She grinned and shifted up to kiss Miranda's neck. “I even remember the very first words I ever spoke to you.”

Miranda tilted her head to allow more access to her neck and murmured. “Introducing yourself at your interview...”

“Oh.. no.” Sliding down a bit, Andy put her head lower on Miranda's body, near her hip then looked up the length of her lover's torso and spoke in a child-like voice. “Up, up, up.”

Miranda was shocked. “You cannot remember that!”

Andy moved back up, kissing expanses of skin along the way before she gently traced Miranda's face, giggling a bit as she let the lock of hair that always found it's way to the middle of Miranda's forehead fall through her fingers before gently grabbing her nose. Unlike last time, Miranda didn't pull away. The touch only lasted a moment. “I remember it, but it's sort of like a dream.”

“I cared for you, when you were a child.” Miranda admitted. “When I heard of Nicolette's untimely death, I felt very sorry for you. Because you were just a child and you needed your mother. When I lost my parents I was nearly eighteen.” She turned to lay on her side and face the younger woman. “It wasn't until after you began working for me that my feelings became deeper.”

Andy nodded knowingly. “The Chanel boots.”

Miranda's eyebrow twitched. “They didn't hurt.”

Laughing at that Andy shook her head. “I would think not.”

They settled into a comfortable position, with Andy on her back and Miranda on her side with her arm across Andy's stomach and her head resting on Andy's shoulder. Andy had one arm around Miranda's back and the other just below Miranda's arm across her stomach. They were quiet for a time before Miranda spoke.

“Are we going home today?”

“I actually have two more days off. Can we go back tomorrow?” Andy lightly increased the pressure of her embrace for a second. “It's kinda nice here right now.”

“Of course.” Miranda kissed the shoulder under her ear then settled back into place. “Whatever you want, Princess.”

“This is like a Fairy Tale ending isn't it?” Andy sighed. “My very own Happily Ever After, except this isn't the end, I hope.”

“How will your Father feel about that?” Miranda had a good idea that Richard would be fervently against the concept.

“He will come around, or he won't.” Andy almost shrugged. “It's my life. Mom will be happy for me.” She brought up her concern. “What about the girls?”

“They like you and will come to love you as much as you love your own Mom.” Miranda smiled.

“Good.” Andy took a moment to kiss Miranda, savoring the softness of her lips. “Because I want my happy ever after.”

“I do too.” Miranda nodded. “I will do everything in my power to make sure you get whatever you want for as long as I live.”

“That's a lot of power...” Andy chuckled. “You're the Queen of Fashion.”

“And you are a Princess...” Miranda laughed a genuine laugh. “I suppose it is a twisted sort of fairy tale after all.”

“Yes!” Andy sighed in contentment. “And we both get a Happily Ever After.”

Miranda also spoke with a contented tone. “At last.”

###

Epilogue:

Miranda knocked lightly on the door to Pavel's home. When he opened the door he was confused. “Miranda? Did Andy leave something in the apartment when she moved?”

“No...she is busily arranging things in her office at the townhouse.” Miranda walked inside when Pavel shifted aside. “I wanted to speak to you for a moment. In private.”

“Of course.” He followed her into the sitting room. “Is this about my replacement?”

“No, no.” Miranda waved off that suggestion. “She's doing a marvelous job.” Sitting and waiting for Pavel to sit across from her, Miranda studied him for a moment and then rolled her eyes and spoke.

“Thank you.” The corner of her mouth twitched when a brilliant smile appeared on Pavel's face.

“Ahhh... I knew it would come. I told you bringing her here was a good thing.” He laughed and smacked his hands on his knees. His eyes twinkled as he regarded the woman that was now less his duty to protect and more a friend to care for. “You are welcome, Miranda.”

Miranda huffed, but nodded at his joviality and smiled.

 

End.