'Cause girl you're perfect (Girl, you're perfect),
You're always worth it (You're always worth it),
And you deserve it (And you deserve it),
The way you work it (The way you work it)
- Earned It, The Weeknd
Denial: a self-indulgent lie for the weak.
The first time Miranda had seen Andrea Sachs, she had been unimpressed. The young woman’s lack of fashion sense had been insulting. Such a beautiful woman, with such beautiful features, wearing such ill-fitting clothes, hiding herself.
Fashion was the art of enhancing beauty, of revealing character. Of conveying what words could never hope to achieve.
Fashion was also the art that strived to achieve perfection, yet it could only hope to hide people's unsightly flaws.
At one point in her life, Miranda had been an artist, a seamstress. But she had been too much of a perfectionist according to Anna Sommers, who took Miranda in and taught her the craft. Hours of hard labor, bloody fingertips, hands smudged with graphite, and pages upon pages of sketches, yet she had never succeeded at honing her skills to an acceptable—to the necessary—level. Her stitches were too tight, her sketches detailed to the point of madness, her eyes too adept at finding flaws while her skill with needle and thread fell short time and time again. Miranda had failed to put her vision into fabric, but it hadn’t been for naught. Miranda had discovered she had another skill, one much sharper, one which she could wield better than any pair of scissors.
Miranda had been born to edit, to fix flaws, as rare of a treat that was. She excelled at teaching others, guiding them. Curating their work. She could see what they couldn't: untapped potential, wasted talent, innate skill.
It was—would always be—Miranda's true calling.
People were wrong to think Runway made her who she was. She made Runway. She took a magazine about fashion and made it about art. It was she who found the talent which made waves in the fashion industry. It was Miranda Priestly who saw wearable art and made it palatable to the masses who didn’t appreciate it, except for the rare few who understood the privilege of opening their copy of Runway and staring at the carefully arranged spreads. They—the few who chose a designer and claimed their aesthetic as their own, even for a single day—were the ones who made all the sacrifices worth it.
They were her audience; fashion was her performance.
In the fashion world, Miranda Priestly wasn't a woman but a titan, an idol, an icon. Her name was whispered with reverence and envy.
All knew who she was.
"And you don't know me."
The young woman cringed. "No."
Unimpressive, Miranda had thought as Andrea floundered through the interview of a lifetime. A million girls would kill for the opportunity to work for Miranda, but Andrea Sachs hadn't known who Miranda Priestly was, nor cared.
It had been refreshing.
The jacket was too big for her frame and the color was the wrong shade to compliment the woman’s skin. Neither the vest nor the blouse were the right size. Her hair had been brushed without care or style. There was a loose thread on her vest. The cuffs of the jacket were frayed. Her shoes were cheap, ugly, and childish. A cornucopia of imperfection.
Unsightly. Miranda couldn’t stand to look at her anymore. “That’s all”, she said waving her fingers in dismissal, interrupting the young woman’s drab rambling.
Then, the young woman did something Miranda hadn’t expected. She turned around and looked at Miranda straight on, her gaze bold. Fearless, unflinching.
“Yeah, okay. You’re right. I don’t fit in here. I’m not skinny or glamorous and I don’t know about fashion,” the young woman said, a fire in her eyes as she stared at Miranda.
A fire lit in Miranda’s stomach as she regarded this smart, prideful young woman. The warm, pleasant feeling in her stomach was so similar to what Miranda usually felt when she saw an up-and-coming designer showing a new piece of art, or a young photographer’s raw, untapped potential shining through.
“But I’m smart. I learn fast and work very hard.” Nigel walked in and the young woman lost her spark.
She has potential, Miranda thought, staring at the young woman as she walked away without a backward glance.
Take a chance, Miranda’s mind whispered. Take a chance with this intriguing woman.
It wasn’t until Miranda had been on her knees between Andrea’s legs, their tongues touching in a searing kiss, that Miranda had realized she had misinterpreted her own reaction. That feeling—that hot swirl dancing in her stomach—hadn’t been the acknowledgment of Andrea’s untapped potential. It had been the spark of desire disguised as something more palatable for Miranda to accept.
It had been Miranda’s subconscious wish to believe she had given Andrea the chance to be her assistant out of indifferent curiosity. Nothing else, nothing more.
Pure, undiluted denial for her weak, bruised heart.
Now, over a week later, sitting in her den instead of hiding in her home office as she had done those first few days after Paris, Miranda waited for Andrea to deliver the Book.
It had taken Miranda too many days to accept it, but she had come to realize she'd never been indifferent to Andrea. Everything Andrea did—everything she said, everything she failed to do—provoked a reaction out of Miranda.
It was as if Andrea had found a tear on Miranda’s seams—an unthreaded stitch, hidden under the folded binding covering her frayed ends—grabbed the loose thread, and pulled. And pulled, and pulled, until Miranda unraveled.
Until Miranda had done the inconceivable and left a work event, not out of exhaustion or annoyance, but because Andrea had been more important. Keeping Andrea by her side had been—was—more important.
Only a few things were worth sacrificing for. Only a few people mattered more than Miranda's calling; she could count them with two fingers. Until Andrea Sachs, who had sneaked in under Miranda's defenses when Miranda hadn't noticed, and then had left the moment Miranda had turned her back.
The cameras flashed. Miranda fixed her well-practiced smile on her face, barely paying any attention to the reporters hurling inane questions. Her mind was elsewhere, reveling in her triumph over Irv.
Giddy with excitement, she recalled every name on her list. Her loyal people. Those who stood behind her. The ones that would risk it all for her sake. She made a mental note to add Andrea to it.
It called for a celebration. Maybe with a glass of a vintage Malbec. Or maybe bourbon, one with floral notes. Yes, that’d be perfect. Andrea would join her and experience a proper drink.
Miranda turned around, opened her mouth to say her name, but Andrea wasn't there.
To get Andrea back, Miranda had been willing to sacrifice it all. If Andrea had wanted money or connections, they would have been hers. If Andrea had wanted a handwritten letter of recommendation, Miranda would have whipped out her pen right in the hotel suite and written it right then and there. But Andrea had wanted nothing. Not a single thing Miranda had offered, until Miranda had offered herself.
What was her pride in the face of keeping Andrea?
“I swear, Fashion Week is torture. I have never been this stressed in my life,” a man said behind Miranda, where Andrea should be but wasn't. His voice was muffled by the ringing in Miranda's ears.
The light Parisian drizzle hadn’t dampened Miranda's hair when she made her way up the stairs, alone, yet she was cold as if she were drenched to the bone. She twisted her fingers together, trying to dissipate the numbness.
“I haven’t slept since July,” a woman answered. “And I haven’t eaten since March. I’m about to have a breakdown.”
Miranda's face was numb, too. It had been so warm in the car, with Andrea.
“Not before the afterparty! You can’t leave me with these crazy people,” he laughed, the sound alien and strange. “Three people quit this morning. I swear I saw a woman throwing her phone into the fountain like five minutes ago.” The woman guffawed in answer. “She was wearing a fancy green dress. Must've been some designer’s assistant cracking under the pressure.”
Andrea. Her Andrea.
The woman's laughter rang out, shrill and loud and awful. “Better her than me!”
No. Unacceptable. No.
At once, Miranda pivoted on her heels. Heat and anger and more burned her insides; an unnamed emotion like molten steel bubbled in her veins. She went in search of Jocelyn or Nigel or anyone with half a brain. They had work to do, while she did something more important.
Andrea would not—could not—leave. No.
The front door opened and closed smoothly. Miranda sat up on the chair, her body coming alive, waking up once again as she listened to the tap of Andrea’s heels hitting the hardwood, moving closer.
Miranda opened her mouth to say her name, to bring Andrea closer to—to what? To plead for a moment of her attention? To beg Andrea to touch her again? To implore Andrea to stop her dispassionate professionalism and claim Miranda as she had over a week ago.
What would come out of Miranda's mouth if she spoke? What words? She couldn't know. She didn't know.
Then a door opened: the closet. The soft ruffle of plastic and fabric as Andrea deposited the dry cleaning in its place, and then the door closed with a click.
Miranda held her breath and waited.
Then the tap of Andrea’s heels rang out as she walked away from the den, away from Miranda. The front door opened and Miranda couldn’t make a single sound—arrested by desire, petrified by the words she couldn't control, frozen by Andrea's apparent rejection—she remained mute.
The front door closed. Miranda let her go. For the third night in a row, Miranda let her go, wishing Andrea would come back.
Miranda stood on shaky legs, picked up the Book, and went to her bedroom. Alone and numb.
All night, Miranda tossed and turned, plagued by the memory of Andrea’s lips and hands, of the words Andrea had whispered as her fingers ripped pleas from Miranda’s throat.
Maybe Andrea had gotten her fill with a single night of passion. Maybe Andrea was satisfied knowing she had brought Miranda Priestly to her knees with almost no effort. Maybe—Miranda thought as she pressed her face against the pillows, her hand diving between her legs to circle her aching clit—Andrea was sleeping peacefully in her bed, none the wiser.
Her body ached. Her heart ached.
She ached for Andrea.
The next morning, after another sleepless night, Miranda’s head ached, too.
Opening the heavy glass door, she glanced at Andrea, sitting primly at her desk—the perfect first assistant waiting for Miranda’s commands. Andrea’s gray Dior blouse dipped enticingly low, showing a generous view of her décolletage for the world to see, for Miranda to see. Andrea’s pale, luminous, unmarred skin called for Miranda’s lips and tongue.
Andrea’s eyes lit up as she said, “Oh, good morning, Miranda!” with a bright, beautiful smile full of deceptive innocence as if Paris hadn’t happened.
The skin on Miranda's hip bone twitched.
After just a few months at Runway, Andrea no longer hid her beauty. Her clothing was chosen to celebrate it; her hair and makeup were fashioned to call attention to her features. The warm tone of her eyeshadow made her eyes seem larger, darker, and the mascara made her eyelashes longer, curvier. Her doe-eyes were such a lovely shade of brown. Dark, warm, inviting, enchanting. A dark, starless night gazing back, calling Miranda to walk into the unknown and willingly get lost.
Already too affected by Andrea's presence, Miranda blinked rapidly and dumped her coat and bag on Emily’s desk. The blush glowing on the back of Miranda's neck burned when she couldn’t articulate a response back, so she went silently to her desk.
In hindsight, Andrea had always thrown Miranda off her game, made Miranda too cruel in her frustrated remarks, too forgiving of mistakes, too compassionate with her second chances. Too interested.
It wouldn’t do—Miranda realized—to think about this woman so much when there was so much to do. Miranda had to meet with her lawyer to ensure Stephen couldn't touch a single cent of her hard-earned fortune. Worse still, Irv was still circling above, looking for an excuse to strike, and Miranda still didn't have enough clout with the Elias-Clarke board to force him out. And more importantly, there was Runway, which should be the only thing on her mind. But those men and their impotent rage paled in comparison to Andrea Sachs' passion. Miranda’s beloved magazine seemed so small, so minuscule in the face of Andrea Sachs' hold over her.
What had Miranda become?
“Andrea, Starbucks,” Miranda said as she sat down. She couldn’t work with Andrea just a few feet away, not when the memories of Paris were still so fresh. Not when the bruise on her hip pulsed every time Andrea met her eyes.
Miranda needed to work. She needed to prioritize Runway, needed to do what no one else could, and prepare for the upcoming issue. September was the most important issue in the entire year.
There had been such wonderful, precious gems during Fashion Week. Bold, interesting designs. Statements that could change the landscape of the fashion industry for years to come, as it usually happened with designers whose artistry went further than skin deep. Skirts, dresses, blouses… Miranda thought of a particularly enthralling red Valentino dress, which would look so good on Andrea. The wide, open bateau neck would show off Andrea’s strong shoulders and delicate collarbone—
Stop, Miranda told herself. Focus on Runway. Focus on what cannot reject you.
She needed to organize meetings with her editorial staff, with photographers, and get in contact with designers. It would be a busy month and she needed to—
That’s when Miranda noticed, on her schedule for next week, two big empty spots. Both Friday night and Saturday morning were empty. In eight days, when her week should be brimming with work, she had nothing. No meetings, no brunches, no lunches, no dinners. The weekend Caroline and Cassidy were going to visit Greg’s mother—when Miranda would rather be working than sitting alone in her big, empty house—Miranda had nothing but alone time.
As the first assistant, Andrea was in charge of her schedule now. No one else could manipulate Miranda’s schedule like that. No one else would dare.
“You need to beg, remember?” Voice like honey; kisses like molten fire.
A pleasant shiver danced its way up Miranda’s spine.
Andrea did dare. Oh, she dared and Miranda couldn’t wait—
Eight days, was it? Why not tomorrow? What was holding Andrea back? An unpleasant shiver traveled down Miranda’s spine. Or was it who?
Who dared touch her Andrea?
Nearly fifteen minutes later, when Miranda saw Andrea approaching with a steaming Starbucks cup, Miranda said, “Emily, get me Jocelyn’s notes immediately.”
Emily squeaked, “Yes, Miranda,” and noisily thunked her way to the Accessories Department. With that bulky cast and the heavy crutches, it would take Emily a long time to make her way around the office. Plus, Jocelyn didn’t have any notes to give. It would give Miranda plenty of alone time with Andrea.
As soon as Andrea deposited the cup on the desk, a staff member approached her office with a heavy folder full of glossies.
Miranda pursed her lips, glared, flicked her fingers in dismissal, and said, “No.”
He sputtered, blanched, turned around, and hurried away.
Andrea blinked at her with wide, shocked eyes, so unlike the woman who had turned Miranda into a begging mess.
Miranda jerked her head to the side, beckoning Andrea to follow her to the sitting area, away from prying eyes and ears. Making her way to the couch, Miranda motioned Andrea to sit down on the corner closest to the wall.
Andrea sat down, a look of utter confusion on her face, and said, “Is there anything you need—”
“You’ve changed my schedule, Andrea,” Miranda said without preamble.
“Oh, well, I—” Andrea stammered, turning a deep shade of red. The blush spread up her chest to her elegant neck to the tips of her ears. "Um, I—”
“I see you needed time to come up with an excuse,” Miranda said, trying to control her trembling lips. "Maybe a pretend business trip next Friday? Is that what you'll tell them?"
Andrea frowned at her in confusion; her lips pouty, and full, and kissable.
Well, of course Andrea would want Miranda to spell it out. Miranda wasn’t allowed the smallest shred of dignity.
“I don’t share, Andrea,” Miranda said plainly, lifting her chin.
Andrea blinked stupidly and looked up at her, and Miranda's irritation rose. “Um, okay? I’m not sure—”
“I don’t share what belongs to me,” Miranda clarified, staring into Andrea’s eyes, willing her to understand. “I don’t accept anyone’s crumbs. I’m second best to no one.”
Andrea’s eyes widened in realization. “You think—”
“You might have a boyfriend or…” Miranda trailed off, her cheeks burning. Miranda grabbed the long chains of her necklace and fussed with them. “Or whatever else you rush home to after you deliver the Book every night—”
“But I don’t share what’s mine, Andrea,” Miranda said, biting out every word, her cheeks burning with anger and humiliation.
In that small suite in Paris, Andrea had claimed ownership of her, but Miranda had claimed her back. Andrea belonged to her, whether Andrea realized it or not.
Eyes growing sharp and sure, Andrea straightened her shoulders. The wide-eyed ingénue disappeared right in front of Miranda’s eyes and a bold, assertive woman took her place. A woman who Miranda couldn’t intimidate, couldn’t control.
A woman who could reject her.
Miranda pressed her hand to her chest, trying to settle down her aching heart.
This was it; the moment Andrea rejected her and Miranda would turn herself inside out to win her back. Even here, in her office—her sanctuary—Miranda would fall on her sword, on her knees, and beg.
Andrea stood up and walked toward Miranda, her hips swaying gently with every step—a slow, sensual roll—confidence exuding with her every move. Not a siren subtly trying to lure her unaware meal into her jaws, but a predator boldly stalking toward her willing prey, toying with it.
“I like to think I’m generous and selfless.” Andrea didn’t stop advancing until she was in Miranda’s personal space, and then kept walking until Miranda stepped back. Miranda’s calves hit the edge of a chair. “Wouldn’t you agree?” Andrea’s eyes bored into her own, the sparkle of desire shining brightly.
“I—” Words escaped Miranda. How could she think with the heat of Andrea’s gaze traveling up and down her body, singeing Miranda’s clothes off?
“I told you that if you want it, you only need to ask for it, remember?” Andrea said, biting her bottom lip. Andrea’s full, bottom lip—painted with the deep red Dior lipstick Andrea favored—made to be kissed, to be bitten. It was made to skim Miranda’s skin, to rip whimpers and moans from Miranda’s throat. “If you ask for it, I’ll give it to you.”
Made for her.
“Andrea,” Miranda started to say something—anything—but she didn’t know what.
Moving closer still, Andrea pressed her thumb on Miranda’s hip bone—exactly where she had marked Miranda—and murmured against Miranda’s cheek, “But I don’t share what’s mine.” Andrea's breath was hot against Miranda, waking up her skin, the blood in her veins, her soul. Andrea's lips were the spark... No, Andrea was the spark, the fire igniting Miranda’s core. Andrea kissed Miranda’s cheek and Miranda squeezed her eyes shut. “Not with anyone. Not for any reason. This,” Andrea said, pressing her thumb harder against the damaged skin—the sting wonderful, delicious—“is not meant to be shared.”
A low whimper left Miranda’s throat out of its own volition—out of Andrea’s unspoken request. “Not meant to be shared,” Miranda agreed, licking her lips, accidentally brushing Andrea’s skin so close to her.
Andrea gasped, and Miranda opened her eyes, nearly moaning at the sight. A beautiful, natural shade of pink dusted across Andrea’s delicate features: the blush of want. Andrea had swept aside her long bangs, uncovering her dark, hooded eyes, where the glow of desire burned brightly. Such dark, deep eyes, Miranda leaned forward, feeling herself fall into them, into Andrea.
Andrea who stared at her with such hunger—such naked desire—Miranda’s body clenched, calling for Andrea's fingers, her mouth, her tongue.
I’m losing my mind. I need you.
Andrea blinked and shook her head. She took an unsteady step back, then another, and said, “Starbucks,” in a ragged breath, and hurried out of Miranda’s office leaving behind just the whisper of her perfume.
Nigel found Miranda not five minutes later, sitting on the couch, with no hope of ever catching her breath again or regaining her sanity.
For the rest of the day, Miranda made sure to keep Andrea away from the office, sending her all over Manhattan to complete the smallest tasks. If they spent even one single second alone, Miranda knew they would do something reckless. Something that would ruin them both if they got caught. Miranda couldn’t let that happen, yet it had been Andrea who had broken the spell in which they had fallen. Miranda had been mindless in her desire.
They couldn’t be alone ever again in the office. Runway was sacred ground, it couldn’t be tainted with the dangers of their affair.
But Miranda’s own home was fair game.
Tonight, Miranda wouldn't let Andrea come into her home and leave like a thief into the night.
No longer Miranda’s mind and heart spiraled downward with the fear of rejection. Miranda had received all the reassurance she had needed: Andrea wanted her as much as she wanted Andrea. The fire in Andrea’s deceptively innocent brown eyes—the naked need gleaming like a beacon—had been proof enough. Every look burning Miranda's skin with the memory of their night together.
With the promise of more.
More kisses, more touching. Andrea over her, under her, inside her. Andrea's need dripping on her tongue, down her chin.
There wasn't a question of more or when; Andrea had decided the time and place of their next encounter. Miranda hadn’t had a say in the matter. Like in Paris, Andrea would make Miranda wait for her pleasure. Maybe Andrea was under the impression that Miranda would acquiesce to her unilateral decision. Such a dangerous assumption to make: to believe Miranda Priestly would be magnanimous in defeat.
It was time Miranda disabused Andrea of that notion.
The fact of the matter was simple: Andrea Sachs wanted to wait eight days, and Miranda would make Andrea regret her decision. Tonight, and for five more nights, Andrea would be teased, tormented, made so wet with want she'd go mad—as mad as Miranda had been in Andrea's bed—and then Andrea would be denied.
The front door opened smoothly and closed with a gentle click.
It was time for the slow simmer of desire to start bubbling.
Then the creak of Andrea’s heels hitting the hardwood floor. The closet door opened. Then a dry, loud sound as Andrea, quite obviously, dropped the dry cleaning and the Book on the floor.
“Oh, shit,” Andrea whispered, a panicked tone in her voice.
Miranda pressed her lips together in a tight line, picturing the wrinkles and creases on her clothing.
Clumsy slip of a woman.
At least the Book would be fine, it was made of sturdy, thick cardboard out of Miranda’s command. Miranda herself had dropped it dozens of times. Not that she would ever let anyone know.
"Oh, thank God," Andrea said in obvious relief.
Where was the woman who had pinned Miranda against a wall and nearly made her come? Where was the confidence in her voice? The steel of her command?
But that was one side of Andrea, a side Miranda had discovered just recently. There was more to Andrea Sachs, much more than met the eye. A blushing naïf, an assertive woman, a clumsy girl, a clever writer, a guileless assistant, Miranda’s ruthless equal: Andrea was it all and more.
“Andrea,” Miranda called out, a cool tranquility falling over her. She knew Andrea, knew her to be stubborn and efficient, smart yet impulsive and bold. Miranda knew Andrea blushed when she saw pictures of models in lingerie, and Miranda knew, most of all, how Andrea trembled under Miranda’s hungry mouth.
It was time they both remembered who they were.
Remembering how Andrea had touched her hair with reverence, Miranda twisted a strand of her forelock in one finger, curling it over her eye. She dragged her skirt higher up her thighs: an indecent tease. She unbuttoned her blouse about halfway, so Andrea could see the edges of her lacy bra. Another tease, another reminder of what Andrea wanted and wouldn't be able to enjoy out of her own misguided choice. Miranda rested her elbow on the armrest, crossed her legs, and waited.
Andrea appeared around the corner, her face glowing red, her eyes full of panic and guilt. Miranda pursed her lips to contain her smile.
“Here’s the Book,” Andrea stammered, her eyes big, wide. So beautiful.
Miranda took the Book, eyeing Andrea up and down, taking in Andrea’s perfectly selected outfit: mature, alluring, confident. A pair of black stilettos accentuated her already slender and strong legs. Legs that had spread open for Miranda’s mouth and would do so again.
No, not a blushing ingénue. Not even close.
“I’ve been thinking,” Miranda murmured, tracing her bottom lip with a finger. “You were right.”
Taking a few steps back, Andrea hummed in interest, her eyes glued to Miranda’s moving hand.
“Waiting is always best, isn’t it?” Miranda said, allowing the hint of a smile to grace her lips. The edge of her fingernails dragged down her own chin to her neck, lingering on the hollow of her throat; then across her collarbone from left to right, opening up her décolletage; and then—Andrea let out a shuddering breath—along the open edges of her blouse, down to the fastened button between her breasts. Miranda lingered there, letting Andrea see how far down the blouse had opened.
Blinking rapidly, Andrea tore her eyes away from Miranda’s chest, and said hoarsely, “I just wanted to be alone with you." She licked her lips, her tongue tracing a lazy circle. "Without interruptions."
Red is her color, Miranda mused as she gazed at the blush spreading down Andrea’s chest. So lovely. Perfectly lovely.
“Is that right?” Miranda asked, tilting her head in amusement. She stood up and walked toward Andrea, the Book clutched firmly in one hand, the other playing with her necklace. Miranda’s hand trailed down the heavy chain around her neck until she reached the heavy gemstone resting between her breasts. Her fingers lingered there, caressing the bumps of the black onyx stone.
Andrea nodded mutely, her lips parting in a silent request. Asking for what? Miranda's lips? Her fingers? Her dripping sex?
Andrea took a deep breath and said, "Miranda," her voice heavy with desire.
Desire for Miranda.
A naked, honest desire. A lust so profound, so intense, it stirred something within Miranda. An ache which woke up something from the very bottom of Miranda’s core. An uncontrollable craving for touch, for affection, for life.
For the first time in fifty years, Miranda felt alive. And Andrea Sachs was to blame. Miranda would thank her thoroughly, but not tonight.
Stepping into Andrea’s magnetic orbit, Miranda reached out and touched the delicate gold necklace around Andrea’s neck.
"And what will happen next week when you have me at your mercy, Andrea?" Miranda’s fingers traced each link of the gold chain, followed them down the heavy green tsavorite garnet in the shape of a teardrop resting just under Andrea’s collarbone. Exquisite, feminine, made to compliment Andrea’s pale skin and deep, brown eyes. “Will you give me what I want?”
“Miranda,” Andrea gasped out in a trembling breath.
“You can read me so well, can’t you?” Miranda murmured, eyelashes fluttering as Andrea’s perfume enveloped her senses. An arresting scent; a floral bouquet made of citrus, rose, pelargonium, and gardenia with notes of vanilla. Sweet, dark, sensual; a whirlwind of passion and heat. “Know everything I want.”
“Miranda,” Andrea said again, her hands shooting out to grab Miranda’s hips.
“No,” Miranda said, and Andrea froze at once, her fingertips grazing Miranda’s sides. “You can’t touch me, Andrea.”
“What?” Andrea asked, her wanton expression marred by confusion.
“You wanted this,” Miranda murmured, smiling when Andrea’s eyes widened in realization and mild panic. Miranda tilted her head to the side. “You wanted to wait.”
“I’ll respect your wishes,” Miranda said, unable to hide her amusement. “After all, Andrea,” she continued, enjoying the way the other woman’s name felt in her mouth. Miranda had always enjoyed saying her name, the way each vowel felt in her tongue, the gentle tap of her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she properly named Andrea. An elegant name for a captivating woman. “I promised to give you anything you wished for.”
Andrea exhaled heavily, her hands twisting into tight fists. "I—"
“So now, you can't touch me.” Miranda leaned forward and Andrea’s eyelids slid shut. “If you do, I won’t be able to wait, Andrea,” Miranda breathed out, her lips nearly touching the shell of Andrea’s burning ear. “I’ll lose control. I'll beg." Andrea moaned—a dark, heady sound—and Miranda chuckled.
“Jesus,” Andrea gasped, standing ramrod straight. The heat emanating from her was so thick and delicious Miranda could almost taste it. She could taste Andrea on her tongue again. Opening her eyes, Andrea looked at Miranda and pleaded, "We don't have to—"
"We will, if you behave," Miranda said, stepping away from Andrea with every ounce of self-control she possessed. It physically hurt; it left Miranda colder than she'd been in Paris. "And you must."
Miranda stared into Andrea's pleading gaze and knew every word had been true. If Andrea wished it, Miranda would be hers, right now, in the den; Miranda would fall to her knees in supplication and implore with her mouth.
Andrea closed her eyes, swallowed hard, and nodded.
Miranda studied Andrea’s face, mapped the length of Andrea’s nose, the curves of her cupid’s bow lips, her high cheekbones, the blush on her skin. Andrea was so young, knew so little of the world. Did Andrea understand what was at stake? What she could lose if people thought she'd slept with Miranda to advance her career? Had Andrea considered the consequences, the cost?
Could Andrea understand?
"And in the spirit of being honest,” Miranda said, completely retreating from Andrea’s personal space. “Let me clarify that what happened this morning in my office can’t happen again. It was… reckless. The consequences”—for you, for me—“would be dire.”
"Miranda, I understand," Andrea said, opening her eyes, her face open and honest. “I know how important Runway is for you. With your divorce and Mr. Ravitz...” Andrea trailed off, her eyes full of worry.
There were too many vultures circling above when Miranda was too vulnerable. And Andrea made her more vulnerable still. If Miranda had any sense, she would have fired Andrea the moment they left Paris.
“I’ll stay by your side until you send me away.”
Never. Miranda would never let Andrea go.
“I’ll take care of him when the time is right,” Miranda said, knowing that moment would have to come sooner rather than later.
“I know you will, but we can’t give him any ammunition against you. If—I won’t let anyone use me against you,” Andrea said, her eyes shining brightly. Her face hid nothing, it revealed all her secrets. In Paris, it had betrayed Andrea’s desire for her. Here, in Miranda’s den, it betrayed how deeply Andrea felt for her.
Miranda regarded her for a moment. "You could go so far in the industry if you cozied up to Irv Ravitz. He's much more powerful than I am."
Andrea's lovely face grew pale as it twisted in distress and outrage, and Miranda wished more than anything she hadn't been the one who had caused that hurt. “I would never! You can't possibly believe I would ever betray you!"
"You wouldn't, would you?" Miranda mused. What exactly had she done to win Andrea's loyalty? How could Miranda keep it? "You've had so many chances."
With a single call to HR, Andrea could destroy Miranda; turn Miranda's empire into rubble and ash. With tales of their night together, Andrea could go to Irv and bargain her way into working for any magazine or newspaper she wanted. He would be more than happy to exchange some personal favors for the chance to humiliate Miranda and force her out of Runway. Worst of all, Miranda knew she would never retaliate in fear of hurting Andrea. She would hang her head low and let the vultures feast on her body, as long as they left Andrea untouched.
"I told you I don't want to succeed through your connections, let alone by hurting you. I’d never want that. I’d never do that.” Andrea's eyes shimmered with tears, yet her voice was strong and sure.
What a delicate little thing she was. Her eyes were so full of brightness, of hope. Not a single cynical bone in her body still. Miranda had to be tender with Andrea—with her precious heart—so it’d never lose its luster.
"Miranda, I don't want anyone to think I'm using you to get ahead either. That's not what this is.” Andrea paused. “You know that, don't you?"
There was no need to lie, to hide. "I do."
"I’ll stay by your side, like I said I would. I’ll be on your side,” Andrea said, leaning forward, looking deeply into Miranda’s eyes, demanding Miranda look into her soul and see. See it all. “No one can offer me anything that I’d want more than this. And I don’t need anyone to give me my career. I can get it without doing something underhanded. I know I can, I’m more than good enough,” Andrea said, lifting her chin proudly. Compassion and ego mixed together into an exhilarating truth.
Miranda wondered if Andrea's frayed ends—the loose threads she tried to hide—matched Miranda’s own. If the scissors that had cut them, had shaped them, had also separated them. They were cut from the same cloth, years and worlds apart but the same threads ran through them.
The stitches Andrea had so boldly used to join them together—to make them into a single cloth again—were made of the same fiber. It was that ambition, that desire to excel, to triumph in a world that demanded them to make themselves small and soothe fragile egos, to push aside their dreams for men and people who didn't understand them. But they understood each other in ways Miranda wasn't prepared for.
"I don't fit in."
But she did. Andrea was the only one who fit.
The only one Miranda wanted and would never let go.
“I’m going through a divorce. I need to be careful. We need to be careful. I can’t risk the girls—it’s hard enough as it is for them,” Miranda said, her voice wobbling, emotion gathering at the back of her throat. She pressed her lips in a thin line. She hadn’t meant to reveal that much, again. Like in Paris, words she hadn’t meant to say had slipped out.
Andrea’s gaze turned tender and Miranda’s heart ached. “Yes, I understand.”
Miranda stepped away, fearing her heart was too exposed as it was. “Next Friday,” she said, nodding at Andrea,
“Next Friday,” Andrea agreed, and turned to leave.
Before opening the front door, she turned around, and gave Miranda a bright smile. “Goodnight.”
Miranda went to bed feeling lighter than she had in years.
The next morning, true to her word, Andrea was the professional first assistant Miranda needed her to be. They didn’t spend a single moment alone. Most of the day, Andrea was away from her desk, running all over Runway and Manhattan, taking care of Miranda’s schedule remotely while Emily stayed chained to her desk and answered calls.
But while Andrea didn’t hover, Nigel did.
Every time he came into Miranda’s office, he glanced at Andrea’s empty desk and avoided Miranda’s eye. He looked far too guilty for a man that had said, “There’s nothing to forgive,” when Miranda had managed to apologize for the James Holt job. Miranda had mainly done it for Andrea’s sake, to heal whatever hurt Miranda’s actions had caused.
Miranda considered his behavior, his connection to Andrea, and decided to forgive whatever underhanded action he had taken to get back at her. He had been the catalyst to Andrea falling into her arms, and that had earned him a little leeway.
That night, Miranda waited for Andrea in her den again. She considered bringing up Nigel’s suspicious mood, but when she called, “Andrea”, and saw Andrea immediately turn the corner and come into view, she forgot.
There was nothing in her mind but Andrea.
“Oh,” Andrea breathed out when she saw Miranda waiting for her. Andrea stood rooted on the spot, her eyes glazed with wild passion as she stared and stared, and Miranda wanted to stretch and preen under the heat of Andrea’s gaze.
Extending her hand for the Book, Miranda made sure to let her lace robe slide down one of her bare shoulders. Andrea didn’t move an inch, didn’t react at all, as she looked down the front of Miranda’s silk négligée.
“Do you like it?” Miranda asked, fingering the négligée’s lace-trimmed neckline.
Andrea’s lips silently parted and she nodded.
Standing up, Miranda let out a throaty laugh. “I’ve always been a fan of silk and lace,” she said, pinching the collar of her open robe. Miranda smiled, watching Andrea’s eyes grow darker, and slowly dragged her fingers along the stitched edge of the cool fabric. She guided Andrea’s blazing gaze with her hand, sliding it all the way down to the hanging belt, and then moved upward, pressing the thin layers of the clothing beneath to lift the hem of her already short négligée a few precious inches. Miranda closed her eyes and hummed in satisfaction. “The way they feel against my skin is, well…”
“What?” Andrea asked, her voice hoarse. “What do they feel like?”
Miranda opened her eyes and smiled. “Sinful,” she twisted her tongue around the word.
Andrea cleared her throat, looked downward, and nodded, her bangs shielding her eyes.
No, that wouldn’t do.
Miranda sauntered forward, letting the robe hang down her shoulders and glide behind her like a cape. Just one little tug and it would fall, leaving Miranda with one single layer of fabric between her skin and Andrea’s want. “Do you have something for me, Andrea?”
“God, yes,” Andrea said, lifting her head and stepping forward with clear intent. Her pupils were visibly dilated even in the den’s dim light. She advanced like a hungry lioness ready to pounce on her next meal.
But tonight, and for four more nights, Andrea was at Miranda’s mercy. And Miranda would enjoy playing with her very much.
Once Andrea was at arm’s length, Miranda stopped her by lifting one single finger and pressing it against Andrea’s sternum, stopping her in her tracks. “The Book,” she said, cocking her head to the side.
Andrea had the good grace to turn a deep shade of red. She stammered, “Oh, right,” and gave the Book to Miranda with a trembling hand.
Opening it on a random page, Miranda pretended to peruse a blurb about Oscar de la Renta’s prêt-à-porter collection, and asked in her softest tone, “What else were you thinking about giving me?”
“Whatever you want,” Andrea said, her voice low, needy, adamant. Miranda shivered, goosebumps spreading all over her skin.
Glancing at Andrea, Miranda enjoyed the obscene way Andrea’s gaze pawed at her body. First Andrea looked at Miranda’s shoulders, then her breasts, her waist, her hips, her legs, and then back up, every single part set ablaze by the desire behind Andrea’s eyes. Trying to collect herself, Miranda spent a few moments studying Andrea’s visibly thumping jugular. Oh, how good it had felt under her tongue.
Humming with mock interest, Miranda asked, “Is that so?” Andrea licked her lips and nodded. “And what do I want?”
“I—I don’t know,” Andrea said, measuring her words carefully.
“No? How disappointing, Andrea,” Miranda said, stepping close enough she could smell Andrea’s perfume. That note of vanilla made Miranda’s head swim. A perfume that seemed to be made for Andrea, to compliment her natural scent. It smelled fresh and sweet in the morning, and, at night, dark and alluring after many hours of wear. Miranda snapped the Book shut. “Don’t you already know everything I want? You seemed to know so in Paris.”
“Maybe you need to remind me,” Andrea answered back, and Miranda smiled at her boldness.
“Maybe,” Miranda said, stepping closer still, “you need to use your imagination.”
“You have no idea the things I’ve been imagining,” Andrea murmured, her eyes glued to Miranda’s lips.
So warm. Even inches away, Andrea was so warm. Her body emitted heat like a burning fire. Ready to consume it all, if Miranda was careless enough to supply it with more fuel. But how good it’d be to be burned by Andrea’s passion again, to be driven out of her mind by those strong fingers and that confident mouth. How much further could Miranda push before Andrea lost all self-control? Until Andrea lost this cat-and-mouse game. Or won it.
Miranda tilted her head and caught Andrea’s eyes, looking deeply into them, daring Andrea to look away, to blink and retreat. “Don’t I?”
Andrea looked back, the confidence in her eyes shining boldly and brightly. It nearly made Miranda moan. This was the aphrodisiac that got Miranda so hot and wet that she couldn’t think nor speak. “I’ve been thinking about all the things I can do to make you beg.”
Heat and want swirled in Miranda’s lower stomach; the flame which always burned for Andrea growing hot. Miranda breathed deeply through her nose. “Yes?”
“All the things I’ve remembered, all the things I’ve imagined…” Andrea trailed off, leaning forward, her eyes flashing with triumph.
Tonight, the only winner would be Miranda.
“Then,” Miranda murmured and pushed the Book against Andrea’s chest, “let me fuel your imagination.” Miranda looked into Andrea’s eyes, reached under her négligée, grabbed her carefully selected silk underwear, and slid it down her legs. Andrea’s eyes widened as she gaped silently. Not once did Miranda break eye contact. “To tie you over the weekend,” she said, grabbed one of Andrea’s stiff hands, and dropped the flimsy piece of fabric on it with little flourish.
“Oh my god, Miranda,” Andrea whimpered, reddening to the tips of her ears. Andrea gripped her prize with such force her knuckles turned white. Her body seemed to vibrate with barely restrained need; a string stretched taut, nearing its breaking point.
“Until Monday, Andrea,” Miranda whispered with a satisfied smile, fluttering her eyelashes with undue innocence. She secured the Book from Andrea again, and slowly leaned in and kissed Andrea’s burning cheek. She whispered into Andrea’s ear, “until Friday.”
So soft. So warm.
Miranda adjusted her robe over her shoulders, gave Andrea one last meaningful look, and made her way upstairs. She paused at the second-floor landing, looked down, and saw Andrea staring up at her, the expression on her face so fierce Miranda shivered.
For a moment, Miranda wondered if she had managed to push Andrea into her waiting bed seven days earlier, but Andrea smoothed out her bangs and said, “‘till Friday,” and left on visibly unsteady legs, Miranda’s underwear clutched in her hand.
Two days later, Andrea stood in front of Miranda in the den. Tonight, Miranda needn’t call for her, Andrea willingly walked into the room where Miranda was waiting to tease her, torment her.
“Here,” Andrea said, offering Miranda the Book.
After two long days of imagining Andrea in her bed, Miranda hadn’t been able to look at her this morning. The yearning simmering in her stomach had been so intense that, the moment Miranda had walked into her office, she had sent Andrea away to run errands.
This was the first chance Miranda had to take in Andrea’s outfit, so Miranda took her time as her eyes slowly swept up and down Andrea’s body. From the properly fitting black jacket hugging her chest and delicate waist; down the emerald green blouse with its plunging neckline; to her black pencil skirt, showing off the delicious curves of her hips; to her black knee-high boots, which enhanced the muscles of her slender legs.
Once again, Andrea’s clothing choice was perfect.
“I didn’t ask this morning, how was your weekend?” Miranda asked, taking the Book and leaning back on the chair. She crossed her legs and smiled when Andrea bit her lip and blatantly stared at Miranda’s bare legs. This morning, Miranda had been wearing her usual black thigh-high stockings. “Did you do anything fun?”
Andrea closed her eyes with an expression of pure pain, opened them, and said with a tight voice, “I did some laundry, wrote a bit, watched a movie... You know, same ol’, same ol’.”
Ah, so that’s how they were going to play it.
“You? Anything, um, fun?”
“Oh, yes,” Miranda said, drumming her fingers on her lips. Noting the freshly applied coat of red lipstick on Andrea’s lips, Miranda considered her options, looked at Andrea’s blushing face for a beat, and decided to have no mercy. “I spent hours with my hand between my legs while I thought about you.”
Andrea moaned, a deep, loud sound that seemed to shift Miranda’s center of gravity. A sound that Miranda felt right between her legs. “You did?”
Oh, she wanted to hear that again.
“Well, Friday is so far away. I could hardly control myself,” Miranda commented, trying to sound cool but her vision was already swimming.
Andrea let out a tortured groan. Her eyes were hooded yet enormous, as big as the night sky. They seemed to swallow Miranda whole, wrap her in heat and want. Suddenly, Miranda’s mind was transported back to Paris, to Andrea’s suite. Miranda in Andrea’s bed begging and pleading as she writhed in sweet agony. Andrea’s fingers inside Miranda, Andrea’s hand holding Miranda’s, Andrea’s breath cool against Miranda’s sweaty skin, Andrea’s laughing eyes boring into her: claiming her, fucking her, devouring Miranda alive.
The distance between their bodies was unbearable, it caused an ache so deep inside Miranda she almost felt sick to her stomach. The only cure was to close the distance, to give their bodies the closeness they needed to survive. Air and water weren’t as important nor necessary as Andrea against her.
Fire bubbling in her veins, Miranda stood up, left the Book on the chair, and advanced toward Andrea.
Closer to Andrea. Her Andrea. All hers.
“All weekend, thinking of you, of what you’ve done to me,” Miranda said, ready to pounce, to drink, to devour.
“But—but you said no touching,” Andrea squeaked, her body stiff as a board as she took a tentative step backward. “You said—”
“I said you couldn’t touch me until Friday. I made no comment about me not touching you,” Miranda said, grabbing Andrea by the hips to prove her point. She pulled Andrea flush against her body, making Andrea gasp.
Breasts to breasts, stomach to stomach. Their bodies pressed so tightly together that sparks of electricity surged from every point where they were touching, and spread all over Miranda’s body. Every nerve ending awake and calling for Andrea’s touch.
“Miranda, I need—” Andrea leaned forward, her breath hot against Miranda’s cheek. Then, Andrea reached out to grab Miranda.
“You can’t, Andrea,” Miranda murmured, digging her fingers in Andrea’s side, and Andrea froze in place. “You have to be strong for both of us. I—I just want to have you,” she moaned, feeling half-drunk. Miranda’s head started to spin, dizzy on the heat emanating from Andrea’s body, on the scent of her perfume. Andrea was a living flame, burning all of Miranda’s sanity away, scattering it to the wind like ash. “But we mustn't.”
“God, Miranda, I want to—”
I want you to fuck me, Miranda’s mind screamed. Instead, she whispered, “Do you like knowing how wet you make me, Andrea?” Her lips just a few precious millimeters from Andrea’s waiting ones. They could kiss, just once. Just one time, Miranda could smudge Andrea’s lipstick, kiss her for so long that all traces of artificial color gave away to real swollen, red lips.
“God, yes, I do,” Andrea growled, her shoulders growing stiff and tight as she trembled. Her heart hammered against Miranda’s chest. “Miranda, Jesus, just let me—”
“Not yet, Andrea. Wait, wait,” Miranda repeated, the allure of throwing away all her plans to sink to her knees in front of Andrea was too much. Maybe she could have one little taste. Just one, to get her through the rest of the week. “Wait...”
Miranda could sink to her knees and taste Andrea. Bury her tongue in Andrea. Drink her.
Andrea let out a growl of frustration. “Wait. I can—I can wait,” Andrea said through clenched teeth, “until Friday.” Andrea swallowed heavily and shifted her hips back creating a few centimeters of unendurable distance.
Andrea’s thighs around her head. Andrea’s fingers digging into her scalp.
Andrea coming against Miranda’s mouth.
“I’ve made myself come so many times thinking about you,” Miranda rasped, plowing through without a second thought. She was drunk on Andrea. “But it’s not enough, I need your touch.”
Standing very still, Andrea hissed, “Tell me.” Looking into Miranda’s eyes deeply, so deeply. “Why can’t I touch you now?” Andrea lifted a hand, letting it hover by Miranda’s elbow.
Andrea grabbed Miranda’s thread again, and started pulling.
“What will happen, Miranda?” Andrea demanded an answer, and Miranda wanted to give it to her. “Tell me.” Andrea’s dark, intoxicating eyes were glazed with a desire like Miranda had never seen before. Andrea’s gaze demanded that Miranda revealed all her desires, all her secrets. To open up her body and her soul, and let Andrea consume it all until Miranda was nothing but a mindless creature of need and want.
Pulling, and pulling, and pulling.
Unraveled. Uninhibited. Wet.
“If you touch me, I’ll be so loud everyone in this house will hear me,” Miranda said again, closing her eyes as the truth escaped her lips. Her skin was on fire, her clothes felt so heavy, restrictive. “Everyone will hear me begging you—”
Andrea took a step back. Miranda’s body followed her, needed her. “Miranda…”
“—to fuck me—” Andrea took a step back but Miranda would give her no quarter. “I’ll be so wet for you, so hot for you”—another step back, another step forward—“I’ll let you do anything to me, Andrea.”
Miranda had lost sight of where she was, who she was. All she could understand was how their bodies fit together.
Two pieces of a puzzle.
“I’m already so wet,” Miranda moaned at her own confession, her body clenched between her thighs so hard her legs trembled. “I need you inside me, please.”
Andrea pressed herself against the wall, her nails digging into it. “Stop,” Andrea gasped. “You wanted—you said you wanted—”
Now the one frozen in place was Miranda. Captured by her own desire, she couldn’t move away, couldn’t step back. Her body thrummed with need; a loud beat resonating all over her body.
A single touch would be enough. If Andrea wished it so, she could sneak a hand under Miranda’s skirt and find her desperate and needy for her touch.
A sound from upstairs reached Miranda’s ears. They weren’t alone in the house.
“You need to leave,” Miranda implored, pressing her forehead against Andrea’s shoulder, fisting Andrea’s necklace so hard it nearly broke under the pressure. “My children are in the house, and I can’t…” She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t move away, she couldn’t step away; it all depended on Andrea.
Andrea took a deep breath, nodded, and very gently took Miranda by the shoulders. Andrea’s hands trembled as she moved Miranda away and aside.
“Friday,” Andrea croaked, but didn’t move a single inch. Her body emitted barely controlled desire. One touch. Miranda knew it would take one touch to let Andrea loose. “Friday, right?”
“Friday. You said Friday,” Miranda said, breathing hard. She was dizzy. “When we are alone.”
“Friday. On Friday, I’ll—to you. Everything.” Andrea bit her lip on every word, visibly struggling to stay where she was. Her eyes declared all the things she wanted to do but shouldn’t say.
“Yes,” Miranda said and took a step back, “you will.”
Miranda rushed out of the den, leaving the Book behind.
On Tuesday night, Miranda watched with amusement as Andrea rushed into her home, left the dry cleaning in the closet, and made a beeline for the den, only to stop cold at the room’s entrance. Andrea lingered there for a few moments before slowly making her way back to the table by the closet, the Book clutched in her hands, her disappointment visible.
“Are you taking the Book somewhere, Andrea?” Miranda asked. Andrea paused where she was and whipped her head up. Descending the stairs at a leisurely pace, Miranda dragged her hand down the banister, the wood cool against her warm skin.
“No—no, you weren’t, um, waiting,” Andrea stammered, taking in Miranda’s sleepwear: a silk négligée, and a loosely closed gray robe. Andrea always stammered at first, and then she would come back to herself and regain her confidence. But only here, when they were alone. This was the only place where they could safely explore this.
This which was so monumental Miranda wasn’t ready to name.
“But I was. You,” Miranda said, stopping on the last step, letting herself have a few inches over Andrea, “were late.”
“The Book was late. There was a thing with the printer—”
“A thing?” Miranda pursed her lips, tightening the belt on her robe.
“A mechanical thing? Or something with the ink?” Andrea made a face, frowning in helpless confusion. “I’m not sure. It sounded like a small routine thing but it delayed the Book for a bit.”
It was one of the things that had made Andrea stand out: how she displayed her emotions in front of Miranda. All of Miranda’s assistants, editors, and staff members had learned that Miranda didn’t wish to see, nor care for, emotional displays, even inconspicuous ones. However, Andrea never hesitated to show her displeasure, confusion, annoyance, or compassion.
In Miranda’s world, a carefully crafted façade was just as necessary as the appropriate accessories to complete any outfit. It was part of the game of success, to avoid an untimely downfall. Andrea had no interest in playing that game.
So very refreshing.
Miranda, however, was very interested in playing another game with her. “Well, what a shame. I was looking forward to spending a few minutes with you.”
Andrea stepped forward eagerly. “Yeah?”
Miranda hummed and extended her hand in request. “But I must be leaving.” Andrea’s shoulders dropped down in disappointment. She gave Miranda the Book without a word. “After all, I need my rest for the weekend.”
At that, Andrea blushed and beamed as brightly as the sun, before she regained some of her senses and schooled her features into a less blinding smile. “Yeah, you’re right. But it was good to see you for a bit anyway.”
“A real shame,” Miranda murmured, waiting to see when the penny would drop, “since I had something for you, to tie you over until Friday.”
“You, you did?” Andrea asked, her eyes widening with eagerness. So very transparent. “What was it?”
Last night, the one that had nearly cracked had been Miranda, but she had an easy way to rectify her faux pas.
“See if you can feel it.” Miranda tilted her head to the side, parted the robe to expose one of her knees, and waited.
As expected, Andrea reached under it and rested her hands on Miranda’s naked thighs, just above her knees. Andrea glanced up at Miranda, requesting permission, and when Miranda nodded, Andrea’s hands traveled upward on Miranda’s skin, leaving goosebumps in their wake.
Miranda struggled to keep her cool and her eyes open. Each of Andrea’s fingers started a fire. Ten flames curling under Miranda’s skin and twisting their way all over Miranda’s body. Ten pulses of electricity reaching her clit.
“I still have the other one you gave me,” Andrea murmured, tilting her chin up as her fingers climbed the side of Miranda’s upper thighs, and higher still. “I still…” she trailed off when she reached Miranda’s hips.
Andrea’s hands paused, trembled, and then moved higher. Searching, seeking, and not finding.
“You’re not wearing…”
“I never do in bed,” Miranda said, licking her lips. With a twist of her wrist, Andrea would be able to find Miranda’s heat, bare and ready for her. “When you’re down here with the Book, I’m up there,” Miranda tilted her chin toward the third floor, where her bedroom was, “like this, without anything underneath.”
Andrea inhaled sharply, her hands clutching Miranda’s naked hips. “You’re trying to kill me.” Andrea’s hands dropped down and then she twisted them into shaking fists.
Miranda lifted one shoulder in a careless shrug and smirked. Andrea squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her lips into a thin line.
“I really must be going. Until Friday, Andrea,” Miranda whispered.
She turned around, and made her way upstairs with her head held high, hoping her legs weren’t as shaky as they felt. Halfway up the stairs, her back caught fire as Andrea stared at her with palpable intensity.
It wasn’t until Miranda reached the landing of the third floor that she heard the front door open and close.
That Wednesday night, Miranda was in such a foul mood she considered staying in her home office until Andrea left the townhouse.
However, Andrea knew she was in a bad mood. She had been there when three of Runway’s printers had malfunctioned. The ‘small routine thing’ had caused an implosion of ink and paper which had ruined a day’s work and stained Miranda’s pristine copy of the Book. No one could properly explain the cause of such a disaster, and Miranda’s displeasure had her spitting fire. Paul, Jocelyn, and everyone else had taken the brunt of Miranda’s dark mood. But not Andrea.
Out of a sense of... something, Miranda had sent Andrea to deal with the problem, to keep her away from the office, and from Miranda’s barely restrained rage.
Already, Miranda could hear Irv’s protestations about having to replace a much-needed, high-quality printer, even though he had been to one who had demanded all the magazines outsourced all their IT work to the same incompetent company. It was such a small, little problem but he would make it a major catastrophe with the board and place the blame firmly on her. She was sure of it.
Breaking Miranda out of her unpleasant rumination, Andrea stuck her head in the den and said, “I took care of it,” as a way of greeting. She had the pristine Book in her hand, and a grin on her face.
“Excuse me?” Miranda frowned.
“It wasn’t really our fault,” Andrea said, nearly bouncing on her feet. “The printers were moved around when the maintenance crew took a look at them last month, and we got a bunch of old ones from another magazine while ours were stored away.”
“We got what?” Miranda hissed, her anger climbing ten-fold.
“Yeah, but I got in touch with the head of the IT Department and we had a chat.” Andrea’s eyes gleamed and Miranda forgot how to breathe. “He promised up and down to replace our machines and take care of the cleaning,” Andrea said with disarming confidence.
“How did you manage that?” Miranda asked slowly, fluttering her eyelashes, searching for something to say. Her heart slammed against her ribcage when Andrea grinned proudly.
“I had to go there in person. He was dodging your calls but his office is not big enough for him to hide from me.” Miranda’s blood turned to fire. Her heart pumped pure, molten lava through her veins with every beat. From the very center of her being to the top of her head, a searing fire engulfed all of Miranda’s body and incinerated her sanity. “When I saw him, I told him what he would do to avoid a lawsuit and after some hemming and hawing, he agreed. I threw your name around a bunch, to be fair,” Andrea laughed and shrugged with thin humility, her cheeks turning a pleasing shade of pink. “It took me a few hours, but I took care of it.”
Miranda’s body throbbed with need and she no longer cared about waiting or teasing or anything but the wet heat pooling between her legs.
Miranda stood up, took the Book from Andrea, pushed it against Andrea’s chest, and pushed herself against them both until she had Andrea against the wall. Andrea squeaked and gasped.
“Did you?” Miranda breathed out, burying her nose on Andrea’s neck, breathing her in. Miranda pressed her lips against Andrea’s skin and Andrea shivered. “Did you take care of it?”
Andrea nodded, breathing hard.
Miranda wanted to fall on her knees, bury her face between Andrea’s thighs, and make her scream; the hard surface of the Book between them was the only thing keeping Miranda in check.
But how could cardboard and paper hope to contain the flames of their insatiable passion?
“Are you going to take care of me Friday, too?” Miranda moaned, nipping the tendon in Andrea’s throat. She dragged her tongue over the rapidly beating pulse point, wishing to devour Andrea alive. “Do it all so efficiently?”
“I—” Andrea’s hips bucked against Miranda’s.
“Or are you going to want me to be on my knees between your legs all night?” Andrea’s head fell back against the wall and she whimpered. “One hand on your breasts, my tongue on your clit,” Miranda breathed out against the hollow of Andrea’s throat, her head swimming with the possibilities. “My other hand between my legs.”
“Miranda,” Andrea gasped, grabbing Miranda’s backside and squeezing.
“I’m not going to last,” Miranda moaned in confession, leaning back just enough to allow the Book to fall on the floor. “I’m going—”
“Mom!” Cassidy whined, stomping her way down the stairs. “Tell Caroline to stop!”
“I’m not doing anything! You’re the one that won’t stop!”
Gasping, Miranda scrambled away from Andrea, nearly falling on the chair in her haste to put some distance between them, while Andrea pressed herself against the wall so hard she could have sunk into it.
“I’m not doing anything,” Caroline said, pushing into the den, Cassidy hot on her heels.
While the girls obliviously bickered between themselves, Miranda and Andrea stared at each other in stunned panic. A thought occurred to them both: the twins could have walked in on them.
Miranda had forgotten they were home.
This was why Miranda and Andrea’s tryst had to be when the girls weren’t home. The chances of being caught—of having to answer questions and give explanations they weren’t ready to share—were enormous.
Miranda had just seen her divorce attorney this week and while Caroline and Cassidy appeared to be taking the divorce in stride—declaring Stephen wasn’t part of their family anyway—Miranda couldn’t be careful enough. The gossip mill was already printing unflattering speculation about the cause of the divorce and Miranda’s role in it. Rumors spread about Stephen having a young mistress, and that was Miranda’s best bet for a smooth divorce. If Stephen heard about Andrea, knew of her existence, his already fragile manhood would be damaged enough to throw a wrench in all of Miranda’s future plans. Not to mention the explosive scandal.
Caroline and Cassidy were too sensitive and the world was too cruel. They always struggled with change. Miranda had to be careful.
They couldn’t—wouldn’t—know about Andrea yet. It was too soon.
Turning around, Miranda walked forward and stood between the twins. “Bobbsey, why aren’t you in bed?” Miranda asked, patting Cassidy’s head, trying to sound cool and collected. Her lips tingled with the memory of Andrea’s skin. “You have school tomorrow.”
“She won’t go to her room,” Cassidy said, pointing an accusing finger at Caroline.
“You won’t give me my book back!”
All the warm delight caused by Andrea’s disarming resourcefulness was completely gone now.
“It’s my copy, you lost yours!”
“Liar, it’s mine! You left yours at grandma’s last month!”
Miranda tightened her jaw at the loud voices. Miranda didn’t like yelling or screaming in her home. It was too upsetting. It brought back too many bad memories. She didn’t want to raise her girls like that.
In her softest tone, Miranda said, “There’s no need to treat your sister like that.”
Miranda patted both their heads and said, “I don’t like either of you screaming at each other.” The twins exchanged glances. “You can talk about it calmly,” Miranda said in her most conciliatory tone.
Miranda swallowed a frustrated sigh, already dreading the look of reproach she was sure Andrea had to be sporting. After all, Andrea must have forgotten that Miranda’s life wasn’t just her own. Miranda had her girls to consider. She always had her girls to consider.
While Cassidy and Caroline talked over each other in a lower volume to tell Miranda who had done what, Miranda turned around and Andrea was there, watching in silence.
Instead of looking annoyed or rolling her eyes, Andrea was pressing her lips together, trying and failing to keep from smiling. The tenderness in Andrea’s eyes as she looked at the twins took Miranda’s breath away.
Andrea’s eyes met Miranda’s, and she smiled. Andrea shrugged her shoulders in amused defeat and bent to pick up the Book. Miranda opened her mouth to offer an apology for the interruption, but Andrea shook her head. She gently laid the Book on Miranda’s vacant chair, winked at Miranda, and walked away.
Warmth spread through Miranda’s body as she watched Andrea leave.
Friday couldn’t come soon enough.
“She’s going to quit if you keep this up,” Nigel said on Thursday morning. The editorial meeting had finished five minutes ago and Miranda’s staff had scrambled away to deal with her orders, leaving Nigel and Miranda alone.
It had been a comfortingly productive meeting.
Miranda glanced at him and turned back to her notes, circling one of the proposals for an accessories spread. Finally, Jocelyn had come up with an interesting idea to display the season’s jewelry selection. Getting Jocelyn to tap into her creativity could be a struggle but she had so much potential. When she didn’t fall into cliché.
“You aren’t going to say anything?” Nigel asked, clearly peeved.
After Paris, he seesawed between silent disappointment and barely restrained bitterness, like a jilted lover searching for enough self-respect to pack up their bags and leave. Miranda didn’t need those dramatics from him, she already had Stephen to deal with.
If Nigel had been anyone else—anyone but the first person she had chosen as part of her staff when she had taken over as editor-in-chief, and a dear friend—Miranda would have fired him for such disrespect. But for their years of friendship and his role in mentoring Andrea, she would let it slide.
Her pen didn’t stop moving for a second as she asked, “Whatever do you mean?”
“Andy. I haven’t seen her at all this week.” He tapped his pen on his notepad. “You have her running around like a headless chicken. She doesn’t need the exercise anymore, you know,” he said in a sardonic tone. “I’m starting to think—people are starting to think you don’t want her around.”
Miranda pursed her lips, swallowing a dozen comments that passed through her mind. Andrea’s figure was more than fine.
“And why is Andrea’s employment any of your concern?” She glanced at him, he looked away guiltily.
Again, that look again.
“Well, don’t blame me when you need a new first assistant,” he said, standing up and turning to leave.
Miranda waited until he reached to open the glass door and murmured, “She was quite upset over your loss in Paris.” Nigel froze in place. “She made it abundantly clear.”
He turned to look at her, his face pale. “Did you fire her?”
Miranda observed the fiercely protective expression on his face. He really did like Andrea. He had been quite taken with her from the very first moment, even if he had denied it when Miranda had enquired why he was dressing Andrea with some of the best the Closet had to offer.
Andrea simply had a way about her—it was her earnest smile, her sharp mind, how she could read them all and not take advantage of any of the weaknesses she found—that made people want to turn and twist the world upside down for her, so they could lay it at her feet.
Even the most cynical people in Miranda’s staff had a soft spot for Andrea.
“For now, she’s still on the payroll,” she said, turning back to her notes, crossing out one of Paul’s ideas. Nigel stared at her for a long moment, and left.
What a powerful woman she was, Andrea Sachs.
Thursday night, when Andrea walked into the den, Miranda stood up from her chair and approached her.
“Caroline and Cassidy will leave at four,” Miranda said without preamble, taking the Book from Andrea. “Tomorrow, there won’t be any dry cleaning.” Miranda paused. “Or the printed copy of the Book.”
Andrea nodded and took a step forward. “Okay. When do you want me here?”
Miranda cleared her throat and said with practiced coolness, “Any time after six should be fine.”
“I’ll be here at six,” Andrea said, not attempting to hide her own eagerness. She took another step closer to Miranda. “Is there… anything you want?” Andrea laced her fingers together and twisted them. “Tomorrow, I mean. Anything in particular?”
Tilting her head, Miranda looked into Andrea’s eyes and then at her mouth adorned with that enticing shade of red lipstick again. Andrea could read her so well. “So many things.”
“Yeah?” Andrea prompted, licking her lips.
“What about you?” Miranda asked, stepping to the side and walking around Andrea. “Anything you’d like?”
“I—I don’t, everything,” Andrea stammered, twisting her head to follow Miranda. “Anything you want.”
“What if I want it all?” Miranda enquired, moving around Andrea, circling her. “Would you give it to me?”
“Yes,” Andrea said, without hesitation.
Miranda paused, considering her options, and then approached Andrea until she was right behind her. Just a few precious inches away. Leaning forward, Miranda whispered, “That’s a dangerous promise to make,” into Andrea’s ear, watching how the puffs of air made Andrea's luscious hair sway gently.
Twisting her head, Andrea looked at Miranda over her shoulder, the corner of her mouth curling upward into a knowing smile. “Isn't that what you offered me?”
Miranda pressed her index finger against the nape of Andrea’s neck and dragged her fingernail down Andrea's spine, feeling the bumps of bone and muscle through the fabric of Andrea’s blouse. Andrea closed her eyes, took a shaky breath, and visibly shuddered.
“It is, yes,” Miranda said, repeating the movement of her hand, this time with two fingers.
“Changed your mind?” Andrea asked, stretching against Miranda’s caress.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Andrea,” Miranda said, grabbing the back of Andrea’s blouse and tugging gently.
“If you promise me everything, I’ll take it all,” Miranda hissed in warning.
“That seems fair,” Andrea murmured, opened her eyes, and turned around on her heels to face Miranda. “Because I will take it all, too.”
“Is that so?” Miranda looked at Andrea’s lips once again, noted how full they were, especially the bottom one. It had felt so good against Miranda’s tongue, between her lips, against her sex.
A single word so powerful that a shiver danced its way up Miranda’s spine, resonating powerfully through muscle and bone, until it came to rest on the back of Miranda’s head. An potent yearning blossomed there, spreading through every nerve ending, until it pooled between Miranda’s legs.
“Tell me, Andrea, how do you want me tomorrow?” Miranda asked, moving forward until they were nose to nose. Tilting her head in interest, Miranda asked, “Do you want me to wait for you in bed?”
Andrea inhaled sharply, and Miranda smiled cooly. “I—”
“Maybe naked with my legs spread for you,” Miranda whispered, stepping closer, looking into Andrea’s rapidly darkening eyes, trapping Andrea where she stood. “Or bent over the bed.”
“Jesus,” Andrea gasped, closing her eyes, her cheeks and neck turning red. She was thinking about it, Miranda could tell. She was thinking about having Miranda like an animal in heat.
“Maybe I shouldn't wear any underwear tomorrow,” Miranda said, puffs of breath hitting Andrea’s lips as she spoke, “so when you come into my home you can push me against a wall and have me.”
“Sneak a hand under my skirt and take me while I’m still dressed—”
“Oh my god, Miranda,” Andrea said again, biting her lip, her hands shaking.
“Or would you rather push me down on the bed and rip it off me?” Miranda asked, leaning forward and very gently brushing her lips against Andrea’s.
Andrea made a needy noise at the back of her throat.
“Do you still have the one I gave you?” Miranda kissed the corner of Andrea’s mouth, her lips lingering for a second. Andrea’s skin was hot to the touch, burning up as if she had a fever. Miranda took a deep breath, breathing in Andrea’s scent, her perfume. “Would you like me to give you another one?”
Andrea’s shoulders tensed up. “Yes.”
Dragging her nose along Andrea’s jawline, Miranda murmured, “Will you touch yourself tonight if I do?” Andrea’s answering moan went straight between Miranda’s legs. “But it will be so much better if you wait,” she said into Andrea’s ear. Her own body pulsed with need; this was as much of a tease for her as it was for Andrea. A delicious, wanted tease. “Wait for me to make you come.”
“I don’t think I can—”
“Tonight, I will wait,” Miranda interrupted, gently biting Andrea’s earlobe. “For the first time in two weeks”—she licked the shell of Andrea’s ear—“I won’t touch myself. I won't make myself come.”
“Miranda,” Andrea gasped.
“I want to save it for you. So wait. Tonight, wait, so tomorrow I can have it all,” Miranda said, pulling back. Andrea seemed to vibrate with tension, once again at her breaking point. If Miranda were to fully kiss those lips, push just a bit more, Andrea would snap.
Andrea would lose her self-control and Miranda would win. Just one little push and Andrea would have Miranda against the nearest surface, proving that her desire for Miranda was more powerful than anything else.
But Miranda already knew that; she had known it all along.
“Wait,” Miranda said, and retreated.
Without waiting for an answer, Miranda turned on her heels and made her way upstairs.
On Friday night, at five to six, Miranda made her way to the first floor and stopped halfway down the staircase when she saw Andrea closing the front door. For a long moment, they looked at each other, the air crackling with tension. All of the teasing Miranda had planned suddenly escaped her mind as she looked at Andrea.
Miranda opened her mouth to call Andrea to her side, and instead, Andrea rushed forward with such ferocity Miranda stood rooted in the spot. Andrea climbed the stairs two steps at a time. When she reached Miranda, Andrea grabbed her around the waist and kissed her so hard Miranda’s knees went weak for a second.
No teasing, no waiting. A kiss of pure, uncensored lust.
Andrea nipped Miranda’s bottom lip, and kissed her deeply when Miranda opened her mouth with a gasp.
Two weeks since Paris, six days of teasing. This was the culmination of the dizzying dance seduction, and neither one of them could stop it now.
Its conclusion was inevitable.
Andrea kissed her with such voracious hunger Miranda had to hold onto the banister to keep upright. Her breath was robbed with every pass of Andrea’s tongue. Her sanity ripped piece by piece with every playful nip on her lips. One kiss turned to two, and then to three, to four, until Miranda lost count as she wrapped herself around Andrea, unable to let her go, wishing for Andrea to stay forever in her arms.
With a gasp, Miranda broke the kiss and buried her face between Andrea’s shoulder and neck, licking and kissing the sensitive skin there. Andrea moaned and sighed, her hands roaming all over Miranda’s body: touching, caressing, grabbing, squeezing.
They stumbled step by step, unable to stop kissing.
“Bed, bed,” Miranda gasped, grabbing Andrea’s backside and squeezing hard. “Bed—please.”
“Bed,” Andrea agreed with a moan, cupping Miranda’s hips and guiding her up the stairs.
Somewhere along the way, they both lost their shoes, Miranda ripped Andrea’s shirt and bra off. Against the banister on the second floor, Andrea unzipped her own skirt and took off her pantyhose while Miranda unbuttoned her own blouse with shaking hands. On the landing between the second and third floor, Miranda lost her blouse to Andrea’s eager hands. Against the wall of the third floor, Andrea lost her underwear as Miranda nearly ripped it off.
“All week, needing this,” Andrea groaned, pushing her way into the bedroom, pinning Miranda against the door as she devoured her neck and shoulders. “I can’t wait anymore.”
Miranda moaned, reveling in Andrea’s desire for her. Never before had Miranda felt so desired. Just for a moment, Miranda wanted to be human. In this intimacy, there weren’t any deceitful façades, no treacherous games. No masks for Miranda to hide behind, no armor to protect or shield her until she was numb.
Miranda wasn’t an icon when she was in Andrea’s arms. She wasn’t a legend when Andrea kissed her skin as if she wanted to eat Miranda alive. Miranda wasn’t an untouchable titan when Andrea had her against the door, helpless and willing.
Miranda was a woman. A flesh and blood woman.
Miranda grabbed Andrea’s breasts and squeezed, rolling Andrea’s nipples between her fingers as they kissed, and kissed, and kissed.
Andrea whimpered, nipped Miranda’s shoulder, and moved further into the room, Miranda following her willingly, desperately.
Andrea sat on the bed and dragged Miranda forward until she could kiss the swell of Miranda’s breasts.
“Ah—Andrea, please,” Miranda moaned when Andrea clutched her backside.
“Wait, Miranda,” Andrea murmured against Miranda’s nipple, then she bit it through the lace. At Miranda’s whimper, Andrea chuckled and did it again. "Let me," Andrea grabbed the bra straps and pulled them down Miranda's shoulders until she could push down the bra cups and capture a nipple with her mouth.
"Andrea, I—" Miranda whimpered, sliding her fingers through Andrea's hair, watching Andrea pleasure her. Andrea pulled the nipple with her teeth and released it, sucked it back into her mouth, then bit it gently. When Andrea used her hand to pinch Miranda's other nipple, Miranda started to pant. "Ah—I need—"
Miranda’s legs shook as Andrea pulled Miranda's aching nipples with her teeth and fingers; harsh, rough, perfect.
I can’t stand up anymore.
“Is that begging?” Andrea asked in that teasing tone Miranda already knew so well. Andrea unzipped Miranda’s skirt and let it fall on the floor. “How can I know what you want if you don’t tell me?” Andrea nuzzled Miranda’s breasts, sweetly kissing her way down, and down, and down.
“Oh, please, ” Miranda whimpered, wishing her brain and tongue would work.
“What do you want?” Andrea looked up, their eyes meeting. The way Andrea looked at her, no one had looked at Miranda like that before, so full of desire, confidence, tenderness, and—
Miranda inhaled a shaky breath, her body throbbing with need.
Andrea hummed and kissed all around Miranda’s navel. That mouth was soft and sweet, so gentle, so careful as it took what belonged to Andrea. A swift, rough tongue slipped into Miranda’s navel and she trembled. Oh, she was so sensitive there. She hadn’t known. Miranda’s head lolled back and begged again as Andrea kissed lower and lower, on the edge of Miranda’s soaked underwear.
Miranda wanted to beg Andrea to take it off, to rip her underwear off and take her, and instead gasped, “Andrea.” The only word Miranda could say. The only word she understood. Nothing existed in this world but Andrea. Only Andrea made sense. Only Andrea. “Andrea.”
Suddenly, Andrea’s mouth lost its gentleness as she moved to the side and bit Miranda’s hip bone. Miranda threw her head back and cried out as Andrea sucked where she bit. Sucked long and hard until it hurt, and it stung, and Miranda’s wetness started to run down the inside of her thighs. A new, fresh mark blossoming on Miranda’s hip bone. Another brand, another mark—another gift—for Miranda to touch and relish the memories it evoked.
“You drive me crazy,” Andrea said, kissing the damaged skin. She pushed Miranda’s underwear down her legs. Andrea rested her head on Miranda’s stomach and inhaled deeply. “I can’t wait to put my mouth on you.”
Miranda kicked her skirt and underwear away, and took off her bra, ready for whatever pleasure Andrea wanted to bestow upon her.
“You will give it to me, won’t you, Miranda?” Andrea looked up again, their eyes met again, and she smiled. Two long and shallow dimples adorned Andrea’s cheeks; the imperfect fusion of facial muscles. The indentations were only visible when Andrea’s smile was wide, open, and honest. Like now. She was so beautiful. The most beautiful woman Miranda had ever seen.
Miranda leaned forward—swept away, lifted from the ground, losing her bearings—falling into the dark hurricane swirling in Andrea’s eyes. Promises of pleasure and torment dancing in eyes so dark, so deep, there wasn’t an end to them.
“Yes,” she hissed in agreement. Miranda would take it all, no matter what it was. If Andrea wanted it, Miranda would give it to her, even if it hurt, even if it was humiliating. Miranda would take it all, do it all. All the things men had asked of her and she had rejected without a second thought. “Anything, everything,” she promised.
“Anything?” Andrea asked, smiling as she leaned forward. She kissed Miranda so gently, Miranda whimpered. “Anything I want?”
“Everything, Andrea,” Miranda repeated, kissing Andrea back. "Anything."
Seemingly satisfied with Miranda’s answer, Andrea gave Miranda a hard kiss and then turned around and crawled to the center of the bed, her backside shifting hypnotically. It wasn’t until Andrea laid her head on the pillow and patted her open thighs that Miranda realized she had frozen in place. Without wasting one more second, Miranda made her way up the bed, to Andrea’s waiting arms, and kissed her. Their bodies twined together; Andrea’s arms around Miranda’s waist, Miranda’s legs on either side of Andrea’s hips, their breasts and stomachs pressed together tight.
So tight, so close.
Breaking the kiss, Miranda nuzzled Andrea’s throat, licked her beating pulse point, and descended quickly down Andrea’s chest to take a nipple with her mouth. It tightened against Miranda’s tongue as she laved and licked it. Ever so gently, Miranda bit it and Andrea moaned, so Miranda did it again and then shifted to the other breast, kissing its underside, sucking the sensitive skin around Andrea’s nipple, lavishing it with so much attention Andrea whimpered and squirmed under Miranda.
Andrea made an urgent noise on the back of her throat, grabbed Miranda by the shoulders, pulled her upward, and kissed Miranda hard on the mouth.
They kissed and kissed. Long, deep kisses. The way Miranda liked to be kissed, liked to kiss Andrea, liked to enjoy those lips. Such soft, sweet lips. Mulberry silk couldn’t rival the luxurious softness of Andrea’s lips. Plump and firm, firmer still when they curled into that lovely smile. A natural beauty. A rare beauty, mostly unaware of the heads she turned. How often she had turned Miranda’s head with her confident, sometimes prideful smile?
“I know what you want,” Andrea said, breaking the kiss, a mischievous smile adorning her face. Miranda remembered that smile quite well, and what it meant. She shivered and Andrea’s smile widened into a knowing grin. “You want a little taste, don’t you?”
Miranda moaned, remembering Andrea’s need coating her mouth, her tongue. Miranda licked her lips, she could still taste Andrea on them. Every night, as she lay alone in this very bed, touching herself with frustration and desperation, Miranda had remembered that slightly tangy, wonderful flavor. The physical manifestation of Andrea’s desire, of Miranda’s success and glorious defeat. Sweeter than the finest bourbon, a full-bodied flavor.
A liquor too addictive to ever give up.
The taste of the pleasure she—and only she—could give Andrea. No one else could. No one was allowed to enjoy this particular prize anymore. It belonged to Miranda. All hers. Hers, hers, hers.
Miranda would do anything for one more taste.
“Andrea, please,” Miranda moaned without a single shred of dignity. Where was her pride? Where was her self-control?
“Do you want it?” Andrea asked, her eyes as dark as a moonless night, yet burning brighter than the hottest fire.
“Oh, yes,” Miranda whimpered, already starting her descent down Andrea’s body. She wanted it. She needed it. “Yes, please—”
Andrea grabbed the back of Miranda’s head and held fast, stopping Miranda in her tracks with a single touch. Andrea’s hand moved around Miranda’s head to tenderly touch her cheek, her thumb resting just under Miranda’s bottom lip. Andrea’s pupils so wide, so big, so dark—a bottomless abyss, pulling Miranda in—they eclipsed the warmth of her brown eyes. “Do you deserve it, Miranda?”
“Oh, please,” she whimpered, leaning on Andrea’s touch. “I can’t—”
I can’t wait.
“You can’t earn it?” Andrea asked with mock seriousness. The gleam in her eyes was playful and affectionate, it was far too sweet for someone who held so much power. She leaned forward, her lips a breath away from Miranda’s trembling ones. “But you were so good last time.”
Yes, she had been good. For Andrea, she had been good, wild, and uninhibited. She had given Andrea everything Andrea had wanted. Everything Andrea had desired, asked for, demanded had been hers. And every single thing Andrea could possibly desire would be hers, too. Miranda would give it to her. Needed to give it to her—everything, anything—no exceptions. Miranda would find it and deposit it on those disarming hands, even if it cost her every penny she owned, every unique piece of art in her closet, every shred of dignity.
Andrea deserved it all, deserved to have the world at her feet. Because Miranda wanted to give it to her.
“Your mouth was so good,” Andrea said, her thumb tracing Miranda’s lips. When Miranda kissed that teasing thumb, Andrea smiled.
A proud smile.
"Is there anything else?" Andrea's triumphant smile bloomed on her lips without control. She met Miranda's eyes with such confidence, such earned self-satisfaction, Miranda couldn't say a single thing.
Miranda pushed the arms of her glasses under her chin, struggling to keep her own lips from curling upward.
Magnificent. A woman far too smart, too clever for such menial tasks. A proud woman. So alike Miranda had been at her age. It was as if Miranda were looking into a mirror. But not quite.
At that moment, Miranda knew her instincts about Andrea had been correct. The warm feeling in her gut never led her astray.
What wouldn't she give for that smile?
Miranda swallowed heavily, desperate to hear more. “Yes?”
“I thought about it all week.” Andrea leaned upward and kissed her gently. A featherlight touch. Then another gentle kiss, so careful and so sweet Miranda’s heart ached. No one ever treated her with sweetness. They didn’t dare, and she didn’t want them to. Andrea nuzzled her cheek and kissed her there, too. “I thought about your beautiful mouth and how good I tasted on your lips.”
“Andrea,” she moaned, leaning forward and catching those soft lips into a deep kiss. “Andrea, please, Andrea,” she repeated between kisses, out of her mind.
Already, she couldn’t think, couldn’t produce a single coherent sentence. Words never failed her before. Miranda had always taken great pride in her ability to keep an arsenal of cutting retorts at her disposal. She could always think two steps ahead, read every situation, and pounce before her ill-equipped adversaries could react. Now, she was incapable of putting her thoughts into words.
There were no thoughts. Her head, always cool in every situation, was on fire. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t think. She was out of her mind, out of her senses. For once, she fully inhabited her body; dripping in sensation, desire, need. No longer insensate. Not with Andrea naked under her—so willing and ready to be taken—her skin rubbing hotly against Miranda’s.
"Did you like it? Did you like having your mouth on me?"
"Yes," she whimpered, arching her back, biting her lip as she struggled to control herself.
"Do you like the taste?"
"God, please,” Miranda gasped, staring into Andrea’s laughing eyes. “Let me—"
Glancing down between their bodies, Andrea murmured, "Who do you think tastes better?"
"You," Miranda said, before she could stop herself. Words she didn't mean to say slip from her lips. "You taste so good." Miranda's cheek burned at the confession.
"Do I?" Andrea asked, almost conversationally, yet her hooded eyes blazed with unspoken promises, with six days of being teased and taunted and denied. With the promise of slow, tortuous payback. "I think you do. Maybe I need to check again."
Miranda swallowed heavily, her mouth going dry.
Andrea made an inquisitive noise, and slid one hand between their bodies. Miranda parted her quivering legs in anticipation but didn't feel the expected touch, instead she saw Andrea's eyelashes flutter for a moment. Miranda glanced down between their bodies and lost her breath; Andrea's hand was between her own legs, her fingers swirling between her soaking lips. Dipping, dancing in all that hot heat, in all which belonged to Miranda.
"Let's see," Andrea said, bringing her hand upward. Miranda's own lips parted, wishing to catch a taste. But Andrea denied her with a smile and sucked her own juices from her fingers.
Humming, Andrea released her fingers with a pop and said, "Not bad. What do you think?"
Then Andrea slid her hand downward again, slower this time as she caressed her own skin. Miranda desperately tracked her every move. With a lazy hand, Andrea caressed her tight nipples—slightly red from Miranda's attention—the dip between her breasts, the planes of her stomach to the gentle curve of her pubic bone, all the way down between until she was touching her own sex again. And once again, Andrea dipped her fingers within herself, coating her fingers with her wetness. This time, when she brought her fingers upward—shining with her delicious need—Miranda surged forward, trying to steal a taste. Just one. But she was stopped by Andrea's other hand, still cupping Miranda's jaw.
"You have to wait," Andrea said, enunciating each word slowly. And then she licked her fingers clean again, denying Miranda what was hers again. “Wait, Miranda.”
Miranda glared at her, and Andrea smiled.
Once again, Andrea’s hands moved between their bodies. Once again, Andrea touched herself, coated her fingers with her own wetness. This time, Miranda wouldn’t be denied. The moment those fingers were within striking distance, she would take them in her mouth and get her prize. With a slowness that was pure torture, Andrea withdrew her fingers from herself, but she didn’t move them upward, didn’t tease Miranda again. Instead, Andrea’s soaked fingers moved between Miranda’s spread legs and painted Miranda’s wetness with her own.
Throwing her head back, Miranda closed her eyes and let out a sound from deep within her throat, a feral, desperate sound. She bucked her hips and whimpered, “please, please, please,” while Andrea spread their combined need all over Miranda’s sex. Andrea gently teased Miranda’s clit with her fingertips. A touch that could never bring Miranda to the climax she desperately needed.
It was perfect.
“God, you’re wet,” Andrea murmured.
“Andrea, God, please,” Miranda cried out when two of Andrea’s fingers circled Miranda’s entrance.
Torture, this was the sweetest, most deserving torture.
Miranda deserved it. She deserved every second of it.
Andrea slid one finger between Miranda’s swollen lips, and then slipped inside—parting Miranda, stretching her, claiming her—and Miranda opened her mouth in a silent scream
She wanted it. She needed it.
“Now,” Andrea breathed out and pulled her fingers out. Miranda nearly collapsed on top of her. “Tell me what you think.”
Two fingers teased Miranda’s bottom lip. Two fingers that smelled and tasted of both of them. Miranda moaned and sucked them into her mouth, licking them, sucking them, loving them. This was both of them. A sharp, slightly bitter flavor; delightful, heady, decadent. Better than the most expensive vintage bourbon or wine.
“That’s good,” Andrea hummed. Miranda opened her eyes and moaned again at the sight.
Andrea’s long, brown hair was spread on the pillow, her bangs stuck to her sweaty forehead. The skin of her cheeks, neck, and chest was a lovely pink as she blushed. Her eyes—impossibly dark and deep—glowed with desire. Not a single trace of lipstick remained on her lips, it had all rubbed off. Andrea’s lips now bare shined with an enchanting shade of red. Her swollen lips curled into a proud, cocky smile as she stared up at Miranda
Andrea was victorious in her conquest, yet magnanimous in her triumph. A woman who knew she had succeeded where everyone else had failed.
“Is it good?” Andrea asked, kissing Miranda’s cheek.
Miranda moaned a half-delirious response. It became a pitiful cry when Andrea pulled her hand away. “No, wait—”
“Share a bit,” Andrea said with a laugh, slid her fingers into Miranda’s hair, and pulled her down for a deep, thorough kiss. Andrea’s tongue slid into Miranda’s mouth, requesting a taste. For once, Miranda wanted to share and agreeably kissed Andrea back, letting her experience the most wonderful taste.
Breaking the kiss, Andrea said, “We taste so good together, don’t we?”
“Oh. Oh, yes,” Miranda agreed, leaning over for another kiss. Miranda needed those lips more than air and water. Oh, how she had craved them, craved their touch, their tenderness, their harshness.
“We’re so good together,” Andrea murmured between kisses.
“Yes,” Miranda sighed.
“Show me, then,” Andrea said, pushing Miranda away. Before Miranda could comprehend what was happening, Andrea slid a hand between their bodies, between Miranda’s legs, and smoothly slid two fingers inside, stretching Miranda. “I want to see.”
Miranda whimpered, her body clenching so hard around those fingers she almost came.
“Show me, show me how good we are together,” Andrea demanded.
Just like she had in Paris, Miranda did the only thing she could possibly do: she gave Andrea everything she wanted.
Hands on Andrea’s abdomen, Miranda started to roll her hips forward and backward, pulling those maddening fingers as deep as they could go on this angle. It wasn’t enough. Not deep enough. The heel of Andrea’s palm wasn’t pressing hard enough against Miranda’s aching clit. Not enough, not enough.
“Slow,” Andrea breathed, her voice hoarse and low. Her hand on Miranda’s hip, her thumb pressing on the fresh bruise on Miranda’s hip bone. It stung, it hurt, it felt wonderful.
“I can’t—” Miranda choked out, jerking her hips faster.
I can’t control myself. I can’t last.
It was too much pleasure for her body. Too many sensations invading her mind, leaving her boneless, helpless, pliable.
How she wanted it. How she needed it.
How she needed Andrea inside her, pleasuring her, taking her. In her bed, in her home, in her heart.
“Look at you,” Andrea said, the awe in her voice transparent. Andrea had said it last time too and Miranda had wondered what Andrea had seen. Had she seen a desperate woman willing to do anything? Her pathetic weakness? Her fear? “You’re so”—weak, vulnerable—“beautiful,” Andrea finished, caressing her side with such tenderness Miranda let out a sob.
Once again, Andrea found the thread and started to pull. Inch by inch, divesting Miranda of her hastily made stitching, of the messy mending wrapped around her vulnerability.
"Slow down." Andrea touched Miranda's thigh, her hip, her stomach—her touch firm, strong, gentle as she caressed the sweaty skin—all the way to Miranda's shoulder. "Let me enjoy this."
Even though she was so close, a breath away from ecstasy, Miranda slowed down her movements.
"Slowly, Miranda. Do it slowly." Miranda whimpered in frustration. "I want to feel you," Andrea breathed out, gently thrusting her fingers, her palm barely pressing against Miranda’s clit. "I want to see you."
Miranda bit her lip and gave Andrea her pleasure. She stretched back her neck, closed her eyes, planted her hands firmly on Andrea’s strong stomach, and rode the fingers unraveling her.
Rolling her hips up and down, back and forth. Slowly, so slowly. Slick, wet noises reached her ears with her every movement. Oh, she was so wet. Unbearably wet. She could take more than just two teasing fingers, gently pushing inside her.
Miranda could take it all. Give it all.
Cries and whimpers fell from her lips even as she bit her lip in a futile attempt to keep quiet. Her body pulsed against those fingers buried inside, parting her, stretching her, teasing her. Every move, every roll of Miranda’s hips stoked the fire of passion as slick wetness started to run down Miranda’s thighs.
It was so good.
“Beg me,” Andrea said, a finger ghosting over Miranda’s clit. The words found Miranda’s loose thread again, and Andrea took a hold of it and started to pull; she started to expose Miranda fully.
A nearly animalistic sound escaped Miranda’s throat, “Andrea.”
Two of Andrea's fingers found Miranda's nipple and pinched it. Andrea pulled gently and then twisted it. A single current of electricity traveled from Miranda’s nipple to her clit. Andrea must have felt Miranda’s reaction because she did it again, and again, and again.
“Yes, Miranda, that’s so good,” Andrea said, and Miranda whimpered in sheer pleasure.
Another moan, much louder this time. It resonated on the walls of the bedroom. “Please, please—I’ve needed this—for so long. I need to—ah—come. Let me—come for you,” Miranda pleaded between gasping breaths before she stopped herself.
“Is that what you need?” Andrea murmured, glancing down between Miranda’s legs, looking at Miranda’s sex.
Legs spread open, two fingers buried in her soaking flesh, Miranda had never felt more exposed. Andrea could see it all, could see every inch of her. Miranda was on display for her, as if this were a private performance for Andrea’s eyes only.
For Andrea. All for Andrea.
“Ah—yes. Yes, I—need you,” Miranda said without thinking. She pressed the back of her hand over her mouth, needing to stifle the words she didn’t mean to say
The inhibitions that had seemed so far away before suddenly threatened to overwhelm Miranda.
Andrea grabbed Miranda’s hand and pulled herself into a sitting position. Her fingers slid out but Miranda couldn’t do more than let out a cry in protest before Andrea grabbed her around the waist and shifted them both until Miranda was sitting on the circle Andrea’s legs made; Miranda’s legs loosely wrapped around Andrea’s waist, Miranda’s arms on Andrea’s shoulders, Andrea’s arms around Miranda’s hips, Miranda’s breast resting on top of Andrea’s, their skin rubbing hotly, their faces a whisper away.
Twined together, becoming a single thread.
Andrea’s mouth met Miranda’s lips in a slow, gentle kiss. One kiss became two, three, four, until Miranda couldn’t count them anymore. Until all she could understand were Andrea’s lips, and Andrea’s mouth, and Andrea’s body.
Andrea kissed her way to Miranda’s ear, and bit Miranda’s earlobe while one of her hands slid between their sweaty bodies. Without wasting another second, Andrea slid two fingers inside Miranda—deeply, fully—making Miranda sob in pleasure.
Miranda buried her face on Andrea’s shoulder and started to roll her hips—back and forth, up and down, over and over again—while Andrea gently twisted her fingers and pressed the heel of her palm against Miranda’s aching clit.
“Tell me,” Andrea said, pressing Miranda closer still.
Untethered—out of her mind—floating away from solid ground, from her sanity. No up, no down, no sense of where she was. Who she was. How far could she go before she came back down and crashed? Floating further and further away with no hope of landing safely. Miranda would burn, would immolate. It would be her spectacular destruction.
"Is that good?" Andrea asked, kissing her throat, pushing Miranda to her limit with her tender voice, her possessive touch.
"Ah—" Miranda meant to speak but no words would come out. Andrea, please, I can't take it, she meant to say but instead, "Ah—please," came out of her mouth.
Andrea smiled, her fingers crooking and twisting and Miranda sobbed in pleasure. So good, too good. "Do you like it, Miranda? Does it feel good?"
I can't handle it. I can't take it anymore. Have pity on me.
"Show me how much you like it," Andrea murmured, kissing her cheek, lips, chin. "Show me how much you need it."
Miranda threw her head and cried out—a loud, primal sound. Tension gathered in her stomach, in her legs. It coiled all around her, wrapped itself around her.
Who was she? What was she? An animal. A feral, desperate animal unable to reason, to think. Single-minded on her pursuit to achieve pleasure.
To give pleasure
This, all this was for Andrea, to please her.
Holding Andrea's cheeks between her trembling hands, Miranda kissed her hard, panting against Andrea's gasping mouth. Andrea's fingers inside her, twisting, pressing, rubbing, claiming.
Andrea, Andrea, Andrea
"That's it, Miranda," Andrea growled between kisses. "Give it to me. Give me what's mine." Miranda reared back with a gasp, her body clenching around Andrea. The words bounced inside Miranda’s mind like a destructive cannonball, smashing all of her defenses, all of her walls. Miranda nearly came. "Do you like that?" Andrea's eyes gleamed with satisfaction. "Do you like knowing you're mine?"
Yes, all yours, yours, yours.
"Please, Andrea." Miranda whimpered, unable to hold back the sounds coming from her mouth. Her hips moved back and forth in an intimate dance of lust and love.
"Tell me what you want," Andrea demanded, grinding the heel of her palm against Miranda’s aching clit. She nipped Miranda's earlobe. "Beg me for it."
I want you, Miranda's mind screamed and she bit her lip to stifle the words that threatened to escape. I need you, you, you.
“Beg me.” Andrea pulled her head back just enough so their eyes could meet. And Miranda fell into them, fell so far, so deep, she knew she would never find her way out. “What do you need?”
“You,” Miranda gasped, and her hips froze in place.
“Is that what you need?” Andrea smiled and kissed the corner of Miranda’s mouth. Andrea pressed her hand on the small of Miranda’s back, encouraging her to keep moving her hips. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes. Yes, please,” Miranda whimpered, her face burning at her confession, her body pulsing with need.
Andrea laughed, a sweet sound, and kissed Miranda deeply, hungry for her. She kissed Miranda as if she wanted to devour her, as if she were famished and Miranda was the only thing that could satiate her. It was a shared need, as Miranda could only be temporarily sated after being consumed. Taken, and taken again, until she had nothing to give.
Pulling back, Andrea looked at Miranda and asked, “Why are you begging for something that’s already yours?”
Miranda threw her head back and let out a loud, feral sound; her body clenched hard around Andrea’s fingers, and she nearly came. Nearly, nearly.
“Beg me,” Andrea whispered and bit Miranda’s shoulder. “Beg me, now.”
Grabbing Andrea’s face, Miranda kissed her all over, everywhere she could reach: her forehead, her cheeks, her nose, her chin, her lips. “Please, make me come,” Miranda pleaded against Andrea’s lips. “Please, Ah—Andrea, I can’t—wait anymore.”
Andrea kissed Miranda’s throat, tightened her hold around Miranda’s waist, and curled the fingers she had inside Miranda, pressing her fingertips hard on the spot she had found before. The heel of her palm pressed hard against Miranda’s clit. Rubbing, pressing, pleasuring, over and over again. Every movement caused tension to gather in Miranda’s muscles as she pleaded and begged without shame. Andrea’s name on her lips, a mantra. Or maybe salvation.
Pulling her head back, Andrea’s eyes locked with Miranda’s, and Andrea whispered, “Give me what’s mine.”
An electric current climbed Miranda’s spine, reached the base of her head, and then spread everywhere in a sudden explosion of pleasure, setting every nerve alight. “Andrea!” Miranda wailed, pressing her forehead against Andrea’s as she clenched over and over again. She wrapped her whole body around Andrea, rocked her hips, and dug her nails into Andrea’s shoulders and back, trying to pull her deeper still.
She came so hard her breath was robbed out of her lungs as she convulsed. Yet Andrea wouldn’t stop, her hand wouldn’t stop moving, her fingers wouldn’t stop rubbing. With one single hand, Andrea had complete control over her.
“That’s so good,” Andrea murmured, trapping her in a pleasure Miranda hadn’t known before. “You’re so good.”
Sensations came and went in waves, rolling through Miranda’s body, lifting her higher and higher until the fall was inescapable. She would crash into the atmosphere and incinerate upon entry.
It was so good.
Miranda’s vision greyed for a moment, and the pleasure became so sharp Miranda sobbed, “Andrea!”
And that was enough. Andrea stilled her hand and Miranda slumped against Andrea. Miranda’s arms and legs went limp and she pressed her face on the crook of Andrea’s neck.
Carefully, Andrea slid her hand out and wrapped her arms around Miranda. She rubbed Miranda’s back, murmuring words Miranda couldn’t comprehend while Miranda panted through her mouth and nose.
Shattered, satisfied, at peace.
Miranda sighed after a moment. Pulling back, she pecked Andrea’s mouth, and fully sat on her lap. Andrea looked at her and smiled, straddling the line between proud and smug.
“You were right,” Andrea said, nuzzling Miranda’s cheek.
Miranda hummed, sliding her hands through Andrea’s luscious, slightly damp hair.
“Waiting is best,” Andrea said, laughing when Miranda pulled back and pursed her lips.
“Aren’t you cute?” Miranda said, tilting her head and looking at Andrea who beamed at her.
“You’re so beautiful,” Andrea said, her eyes soft and tender. The fire of unsated passion dimmed just slightly as she looked at Miranda. “Incredibly beautiful.”
Using the back of her fingers, Miranda caressed Andrea’s cheek, watching as Andrea’s eyes fluttered shut. “As you are.”
Leaning over, Miranda kissed her deeply, pouring all that she wasn’t ready to say into the kiss. Pouring herself empty, knowing Andrea would fill her up.
Pushing Andrea down on the bed, Miranda lay on top of her, pleasantly rubbing their bodies together; their nipples bumping in a hedonic dance. Miranda licked and nibbled her way into Andrea’s mouth, kissing her with languor, taking her time to savour her. Miranda slid her thigh between Andrea’s spread legs and found dizzying wetness waiting for her. She hissed and bit Andrea’s bottom lip. So wet. So hot. Andrea was so wet.
It was all for her.
Andrea whimpered and squirmed under her. It wouldn’t take long, not long at all. Miranda would enjoy every delicious second of it.
“I can’t wait anymore,” Andrea gasped when the kiss broke. “Please, Miranda.”
Oh. Andrea pleading.
“Can’t you?” Miranda kissed Andrea’s throat and shoulders at a leisurely pace, loving every inch of Andrea’s skin, tasting the salt on her skin, smelling the notes of her perfume. Being careful with her teeth, Miranda bit and nipped between passes of her tongue. Rough and gentle, like she had learned Andrea liked it.
She slowly licked the tendon on the side of Andrea’s neck, kissed the hollow of her throat, and nuzzled her collarbone. The skin was so sensitive there, so soft and delicate. It’d be so easy to leave a mark right there. It’d be fair, wouldn’t it? In the same way Andrea had marked her, Miranda would brand her back in a spot that was just for them.
No, not there, she thought. She liked Andrea showing it off her décolletage.
Moving lower, Miranda skimmed Andrea’s nipple—smiling when Andrea made a frustrated noise when she kept moving—and settled over Andrea’s ribcage. Just under Andrea’s breast, she carefully racked her teeth, and Andrea moaned and squirmed.
No, not there either.
Miranda moved lower, mapped the planes of Andrea’s smooth stomach with her mouth. She circled Andrea’s navel, slid her tongue inside it gently, pulled away, and did it again when Andrea spread her legs wide.
With a growl, Miranda bit on the sensitive skin next to Andrea’s navel and Andrea let out a choked whimper. She licked and sucked—long and hard—pulled her mouth away to stare at her work, and then gently laved the blossoming mark with her tongue.
“Stop teasing me,” Andrea said, her whole body quivering under Miranda.
Moving upward, Miranda kissed her gently, just a whisper of her lips against Andrea’s. “Why?”
“All night, you’ve teased me,” Miranda murmured, kissing and mouthing her way down Andrea’s body, licking the salty skin. “Turnabout is fair play.” Andrea trembled at the words.
Two weeks of waiting, six days of teasing, of spoken and unspoken promises.
It wasn't payback, it was a gift. For both of them.
Miranda swirled her tongue over one of Andrea’s hardened nipples. When Andrea moaned, a deep, rich sound, and Miranda said, “And I might not be quite as benevolent as you were.”
“You’ve been teasing me for days,” Andrea whined, arching her back when Miranda pulled her sensitive skin. “We are more than even—”
“I don’t want to get even, Andrea,” Miranda said, looking up at her.
A spectacular view, a delight to the senses.
Naked, legs spread wide in display, Andrea was a feast waiting to be devoured. Her long bangs stuck to her sweaty forehead, her hair falling in wild waves on the pillows and over her shoulders. Her lips were red, swollen and delectable. Her chest and stomach were adorned with little pink and red marks where Miranda’s nips and sucks had been less than gentle. The bruise Miranda had bestowed upon her stomach contrasted with Andrea’s pale skin. The perfect accessory, an artist’s signature. A brand of ownership.
The skin on Miranda’s hip bone twitched.
“I want to drive you crazy.”
“Oh Jesus,” Andrea gasped.
“I want to be the only one you think about,” Miranda said, gently twisting one of Andrea’s nipples with her fingers while she lavished the other with her tongue. “I want you to dream about me when we are apart.” She sucked the skin under Andrea’s breast, licked her way across one breast to the other, and then let her cool breath wash over Andrea’s reddened nipple. Poor Andrea could only sob in pleasure. “I want you to touch yourself while you think about me.”
“I already do! You drive me crazy,” Andrea panted, her body twisting and twitching under Miranda’s attention.
“Do I really?” Miranda asked, nipping and biting her way down Andrea’s stomach. She kissed the reddened mark on her way and nuzzled Andrea’s hip bone. Andrea’s skin was so soft, so sweet. Miranda could spend days here, caressing her with her mouth. Tasting her.
“Yes,” Andrea said, spreading her legs even wider, so wide. So incredibly wide Miranda couldn’t help but to fall between them and press her stomach against the slick, hot wetness there. A river, a river of want and need flowed from Andrea’s sex—sweet ambrosia with a heady taste—the only thing which could quench Miranda’s thirst.
Moaning, Miranda mouthed her way down Andrea’s body. There were more teasing words Miranda had planned to say, more torment planned for Andrea, but the moment the smell of Andrea’s sex caught her nose, it was all lost.
Oh, she smelled divine. Andrea's scent was full of memories, promises, passion, need. Love.
Miranda moaned and pressed her face between Andrea’s spread legs and dove into what she needed most.
Andrea gasped the moment Miranda’s tongue made contact with her clit. It was pink, swollen, and sensitive. It wouldn’t take anything at all to make Andrea come.
“God, please,” Miranda moaned, dragging the flat of her tongue through Andrea’s soaked lips. Over and over again, Miranda savored Andrea’s dripping need. So wet, so hot it nearly seared Miranda’s tongue.
She wanted more.
Miranda had needed this for days, weeks, months, years. Before Paris, before Andrea had impressed her by acquiring a silly book, before Andrea had disappointed her by coasting through her job even after promising a work ethic to rival Miranda’s own. She had needed Andrea before she’d known Andrea existed.
Unaware and anesthetized to life, Miranda had glided through relationships and marriages with her eyes closed and her heart cold and numb. She’d been foolish for believing the only joy she could ever feel was when Runway’s newest issue was sent to print. So intense had been her desire to protect herself from others—to wrap herself in silk, lace, and cloth as armor—that she had denied herself even the smallest of pleasures. Insensate, numb, alone. Now, between Andrea’s trembling legs, Miranda would deny herself no longer. She would indulge, she would take, she would celebrate, and she would give.
And in giving she would satiate, but never quench, the flame burning for Andrea Sachs.
Miranda swirled her tongue around Andrea’s soaking entrance, and slid in, all the way in, and held still for a second. Andrea wailed softly, so Miranda slid out and rolled her tongue over Andrea’s swollen clit until Andrea bucked her hips, and then plunged her tongue inside Andrea again. And then did it all over again. Again, and again while Andrea lost her mind.
God, the sounds Andrea made. Uninhibited, high-pitched, nearly feral. Every moan, every sigh flaming the still burning ashes of Miranda’s passion. The need that had been satisfied just a few moments before came roaring back, enveloping Miranda’s head and searing away her ability to think.
“That’s so good, that’s so good,” Andrea panted, rolling her hips against Miranda’s mouth. Andrea’s wetness covered Miranda’s mouth, her cheeks, her nose, down her chin.
Miranda gently sucked Andrea’s clit, holding it between her lips then laving it with her tongue roughly. Gentle and rough, just like Andrea liked it. Just like she needed it.
“You’re so good,” Andrea moaned, sounding drunk and half-delirious with need. Miranda’s body pulsed in response, her clit ached.
Miranda ached for Andrea. She needed to come again. It hurt, the need was so sharp, so acute, Miranda wanted to scream. She couldn’t wait a second longer, and dove her hand between her own thighs, desperately rubbing her clit with two fingers.
“Yes, Miranda, yes. Make me come,” Andrea hissed, one hand on the back of Miranda’s head, keeping her there, as if Miranda would want to be anywhere else.
Miranda feasted on Andrea’s desire, devoured Andrea’s sex like she was starving. Because she had been starving for days, weeks, months, years, decades; famished for affection, for pleasure, for love, and she hadn’t known it until Andrea turned her world upside-down.
“Miranda, there, there! Don’t stop! Right there,” Andrea gasped and keened, her breathing turning hysterical with every syllable.
This was Miranda’s: this pleasure, this woman.
Andrea’s upper body surged forward, her hips locked in place, and she came against Miranda’s mouth. Andrea’s legs trembled and closed around Miranda’s head, but Miranda pushed them wide open with one hand, not wanting to miss one single drop. Miranda’s other hand viciously circling her own clit. Harder, faster as she drank it all, all of Andrea’s pleasure—all of their pleasure—as Andrea’s body pulsed and twitched against Miranda’s mouth, her wetness running down Miranda’s chin.
“Enough,” Andrea gasped and collapsed on the bed, her body shivering with aftershocks.
Miranda pressed her forehead against Andrea’s trembling lower stomach, her hand rubbing furiously, and begged. Begged and pleaded for relief, for pleasure. For the pleasure her hands hadn’t been able to achieve in two weeks because only Andrea could give it to her.
Miranda didn’t know what she said, the words flowed from her lips without censorship, without control. She couldn’t hear herself as she mouthed Andrea’s skin, licked and sucked everywhere she could reach.
With a sudden growl, Andrea grabbed Miranda’s shoulders, dragged her upward, and kissed her hard on the mouth.
“Please, please,” Miranda moaned against Andrea’s mouth. She tried to kiss Andrea back but couldn’t manage it as she panted.
Andrea rolled Miranda on her back, settled between Miranda’s spread legs, licking and nipping Miranda’s mouth, cheeks and chin. When Miranda realized Andrea was cleaning her own wetness from Miranda’s face, she let out a breathless sob.
“No more teasing,” Andrea said, shoving Miranda’s hand away, and pushing two fingers inside her without hesitation, the heel of her palm grinding against Miranda’s clit. “I want it now, Miranda.”
Miranda clawed Andrea’s back, shoulders, trying to hold onto her sanity. But it was to no avail. Her back arched back as she rode Andrea’s fingers, her muscles tensed up, her legs shook. “Ah—I need—”
“I know what you need,” Andrea declared and quickly descended down Miranda’s body, kissing and nipping random patches of skin, until her mouth was where Miranda needed her most.
With a groan, Andrea curled her fingers upward inside Miranda, and rolled her tongue over Miranda’s clit. Andrea consumed her, devoured her, drank Miranda in, and took everything. Her need became their need. And that was enough. Miranda opened her mouth and no sound came out as she came so hard the breath was robbed from her lungs. Her whole body trembled as she writhed under Andrea in pleasure.
It was so good. Nothing had ever felt this good before.
“Ah—Andrea!” she wailed and pleaded for this pleasure to never end. To go on and on until she lost her mind.
“God, Miranda,” Andrea moaned. She rolled her tongue over Miranda’s clit over and over again, drinking her in and Miranda sobbed. Andrea sucked Miranda’s clit, and Miranda squeezed her eyes shut and shrieked.
“Andrea!” Miranda gasped in warning when the pleasure became too sharp. Her clit had turned too tender and sensitive to handle anymore.
Immediately, Andrea stopped moving her hand, and Miranda collapsed on the bed, completely spent and satiated.
Andrea sighed in contentment and carefully slipped her fingers out, and Miranda groaned at the loss. Slowly, Andrea dragged the flat of her tongue through Miranda's sex. Miranda's hips jerked as her body pulsed with aftershocks.
Andrea climbed up Miranda's body, leaving tender pecks on her wake. Once she reached Miranda's wheezing mouth, she kissed her slowly, letting Miranda taste herself on her tongue.
"You're incredible," Andrea murmured when they parted. She caressed Miranda’s stomach, leaving a sticky trail, and Miranda shivered in delight.
Miranda hummed and extended her heavy arms, willing Andrea to understand. As always, Andrea did, and settled in Miranda’s arms, hugging her tight, and rolling onto her back, taking Miranda with her.
They lay together in a comfortable silence as their skins cooled down. Andrea running her fingers through Miranda’s damp hair; Miranda gently dragged the blunt point of her nails over Andrea’s thigh.
“We can’t wait two weeks for next time,” Andrea suddenly said, lightly scratching the nape of Miranda’s neck.
Miranda nearly purred and nuzzled the juncture between Andrea’s shoulder and neck. “Just keep an eye on my schedule and we won’t.”
“God, Emily is gonna hate keeping your Saturdays free.”
Miranda froze, all the warmth leaving her body. “Emily?”
“Yeah, and whoever else after Emily gets a promotion,” Andrea said, her hand stilling, too.
Miranda lifted her head, looked at Andrea’s face, and asked very slowly, “Why in the world would Emily manage my schedule again?”
Andrea looked at Miranda and said, “Um, because in a couple of weeks, she will be your first assistant again.”
Miranda’s blood turned to ice. “I’m not letting you go,” she said at once, sizing Andrea’s hands and pressing them on the bed. A cold hand squeezed her lungs and heart.
“You said you’d be with me until I sent you away,” Miranda hissed, her hands trembling as emotion gathered on the back of her throat. If Miranda had to take a hold of the publishing world and tear it asunder to keep Andrea, she would. She would burn it all to the ground.
“I’m never sending you away,” Miranda said, her voice trembling, too. She surged upward until she and Andrea were nose to nose. Already, Miranda was thinking of all the things she could offer Andrea to keep her. But she had already offered Andrea the world—Miranda had offered herself. What else did she have that Andrea could want? “Never.”
“Good,” Andrea said, nodding her head.
Miranda’s racing mind screeched to a halt. She opened her mouth and sat up. “What?”
Andrea sat up and took Miranda by the chin and looked into Miranda’s eyes—her brown eyes sweet and tender. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Miranda shook her head in confusion. “You just said…” she trailed off, unable to voice it.
Andrea sighed. “Miranda, I can’t be your assistant forever.”
Miranda had already known that. She had known Andrea was too smart, too capable to stay in such a menial job. Miranda swallowed hard and said, “I can create a role for you—”
“Miranda, no,” Andrea said firmly. “Runway is not for me, you know that.”
Once again, Andrea’s face hid nothing, said nothing but the truth; a truth Miranda had avoided thinking about, too frightened to acknowledge how fragile her hold over Andrea was.
“You’re leaving me,” Miranda said simply, feeling her heart wither away in her chest.
What cruelty: to finally find a sip of happiness and then feel it slip through her fingers. It was like trying to catch the ocean with her wounded hands, feeling the sting of the salt as she tried to hold onto what wished to escape. Must the world be so cruel to her? Always take from her and never give back?
“No, no, no,” Andrea said adamantly. “I’m never leaving you.”
“You’re leaving Runway,” Miranda snapped, glaring at Andrea, wishing she didn’t feel tears gathering behind her eyes.
“You are not Runway.”
“Yes, I am,” Miranda growled. It was the only thing Miranda was.
“No, it’s what you do,” Andrea fired back. “You're incredible at it. I've learned so much just by watching you but I can’t do what you do. Not in Runway. I can’t be part of that. I don’t,” Andrea hesitated, “I don’t really understand it. I know how important it is for you. I understand more about fashion than I’ve ever had before. I respect it, now,” she added. “But it’s not for me. I don’t fit in there,” she shrugged helplessly.
“This is not over just because I’m leaving Runway. This,” Andrea said, grabbing one of Miranda’s hands and laying it over her chest. Miranda felt Andrea’s beating heart under the palm of her hand—strong, sure, beautiful. Andrea looked deeply into Miranda’s eyes, and Miranda couldn’t look away. Couldn’t do anything but lose herself in the warmth she saw in them. “This is just starting.”
It was the truth, wasn’t it? They couldn’t work together; they hadn’t really managed to do it during the last week, had they? When Miranda was in the office, Andrea was away, and vice versa. In the last week, they hadn’t been in the same room for more than ten minutes. And that had been risky enough as it was.
Two days ago, Andrea had walked into Miranda’s office during a run-through to drop some papers, and Miranda hadn’t looked at her once or acknowledged her presence. Miranda had gone as far as to call Emily to grab the papers from her desk and bring them to her.
Everyone had noticed that Andrea was hardly around, that Miranda wouldn’t look at her, wouldn’t speak to her.
The whispers had already started, Miranda heard everything from her office as it was her desire. Nigel needn't inform her. There wasn’t a single piece of gossip she didn’t know about. Knowledge was power, after all. Miranda had learned that half her staff was convinced Andrea would be fired before the end of the month, and the other half was sure Miranda was trying to force Andrea to quit.
They all thought Miranda was sick of Andrea, that the little experiment had come to its final conclusion, and Miranda didn’t want nor needed a woman with no love for the industry. No matter how smart and capable she might be.
They thought Miranda hated Andrea.
Their asinine assumptions could be of use. No one suspected the turn their relationship had taken. No one could ever dream up what happened in Paris.
“This is just starting,” Miranda agreed, taking Andrea’s hand and bringing it to her lips. She kissed Andrea’s knuckles, one by one. Andrea hummed and twined their fingers together. “I’ll write you a letter of recommendation—”
“No, you won’t,” Andrea said fiercely. “I told you I don’t want—”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Andrea,” Miranda answered back. “It could open so many doors for you.”
Andrea grabbed Miranda’s hands and tugged them until Miranda was sitting on her lap again, and wrapped her arms securely around Miranda. “I know. But we can’t risk it. Your job—my job… It can’t ever look like I advanced my career because of you. I can’t risk your reputation.”
“Andrea…” Miranda didn’t know what to say.
“And,” Andrea said, making the guiltiest face Miranda had ever seen, “I already have a new job.”
Miranda tilted her head to the side, pursed her lips, and said, “Excuse me?”
“As an editorial assistant in a small publishing house.” Andrea said quickly, blushing as she drummed her fingers against Miranda’s naked back. “I, um, actually start working there in three weeks.”
Miranda stared at her in silence.
“Nigel,” Miranda said, putting that particular puzzle together. "He did it."
“Don’t be angry at him,” Andrea rushed to say, rubbing Miranda’s back in a soothing circle. “I approached him and asked him for his help. He gave me some names to call and some places to go."
"I see. Nigel does know a lot of people in the industry. As do I," Miranda felt the need to clarify. She knew everyone Nigel did, and had more sway. Anything he had done for Andrea was minuscule compared to what Miranda could do if Andrea allowed it.
Andrea nodded. "He really had my back. He wrote me a letter of recommendation and put in a good word for me."
At that, Miranda bristled. "I'd hope so."
"I, um, had a few interviews this week.” Andrea cleared her throat. “I got an offer this morning and I accepted it.”
“Really,” Miranda said lightly. A shiver made its way up Miranda’s back. Andrea’s resourcefulness and ambition knew no bounds. If she wanted it, she got it.
"I told Nigel just before I came here. I think he deserved to know."
So that’s why he was half-sick with guilt even though he still held onto his anger. Nigel knew Miranda had a fondness for Andrea. He, of course, didn’t know the depth of her feelings. How could he? But Nigel knew Miranda better than most. He knew it would hurt her to lose Andrea before she was ready to let her go.
Miranda had taken the James Holt job from Nigel, so Nigel had tried to take Andrea from her.
Miranda wrapped her arms around Andrea’s shoulders and kissed her fiercely. Andrea smiled in delight and kissed Miranda back.
When they parted, Andrea asked, “So you’re not angry at him?”
“He has always been very fond of you,” Miranda said, caressing Andrea’s shoulders with her thumbs. She smiled, baring her teeth. “And now he believes us to be even.”
“Well, I guess so…” Andrea mumbled, eyeing Miranda suspiciously. “You’re not going to fire him, right?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, of course not,” Miranda said, nearly rolling her eyes.
If Andrea had actually left, Miranda wouldn’t have fired Nigel: she would have destroyed him. She would have torched his world to the ground, made him crawl on hands and knees over smoldering glass. But Andrea was here, in Miranda’s arms, and so she would forgive his pettiness and feeble attempt at revenge.
“I supposed you’d better take advantage of your time as my assistant and schedule our next rendezvous.” Miranda twisted the hairs at the nape of Andrea’s neck around her fingers. “You can turn in your two weeks’ notice on Monday.”
“Technically, this is me putting in my two weeks,” Andrea said, turning so red her face nearly glowed. “Maybe I should have waited until tomorrow to tell you.”
“You don’t say,” Miranda said, pursing her lips. “Have you ever heard of afterglow, Andrea?” Andrea cringed. “You completely ruined it.”
“Sorry,” she said, kissing Miranda lightly on the lips. “But I won’t ruin the next one, I promise.”
Miranda eyed her and hummed in mock displeasure. “You’d better not.”
Andrea laughed: a beautiful, sweet melody. “I won’t.”
“In the meantime, as I’ve said, we have to be careful. Maybe two weeks is too much time,” Miranda said, sliding off Andrea’s lap and sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Come on, we can control ourselves,” Andrea said, wrapping an arm around Miranda.
Miranda hummed and leaned back against her. “I certainly can. I’m not so sure about you.”
Andrea snorted. “You’re funny.” She kissed Miranda’s temple and nuzzled behind her ear. “Have I told you that before?”
“Oh, everyone knows I’m a barrel of laughs,” Miranda said lightly. “A party doesn’t start until I’m there.”
“That’s actually true,” Andrea said, nuzzling Miranda’s shoulders, and Miranda shivered as her skin started to heat up again. “And I’ve seen people turn into hysterics before you arrive, too.” At that Miranda snorted. “It might have been hysterical crying, though.”
“Aren’t you the sweetest,” Miranda said with a smile, reaching back and caressing Andrea’s bare thigh.
After a moment, Andrea pulled away. “Do you think Nigel helped me because he knows about us? He kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to quit.”
Miranda shrugged. “He has no idea. No one does, Andrea. No one would dream of this happening.”
“But I hoped for it.” Andrea nuzzled Miranda’s cheek, and Miranda hummed. It made two of them.
Very lightly, Miranda scratched Andrea’s forearm and said, “No one can suspect anything. Not with my divorce proceedings just starting. I don’t want Stephen to have cause to drag it for longer than a year.”
“I know, we will be discreet.”
“No, we will hide,” Miranda clarified. Andrea grew stiff behind her. “And when my divorce is finalized and signed, we will be discreet.”
Andrea relaxed. “That makes sense.”
“I've always been a very private person but I don't hide, Andrea. I wait for the right time to show myself,” Miranda said, her heart beating quickly when Andrea pulled her even closer. “I’ve never been ashamed of my accomplishments.”
“Is that what I am?” Andrea teased. Miranda could feel Andrea’s heart beating against her back.
“We shall see, won’t we?” Miranda teased back.
“I’m sure we will,” Andrea laughed.
“Of course, no one can know we got involved before my divorce finalized, but I’m sure we can manage something. In the meantime, it’ll be as we have never met before,” Miranda said, already planning how to handle the upcoming months of trysts.
“It’ll be a year,” Andrea said, caressing Miranda’s stomach, stoking the fire that always burned for her. “Until we can be seen together.”
“Until we reconnect. And we become friends,” Miranda said, the idea already half-forming in her mind.
"The Met Gala," Miranda said. "That's when we'll publicly reconnect. I won’t be divorced yet, but it’d be the perfect moment for you to reintroduce yourself in my circle." Miranda thought for a moment. “I’d be in need of a friend then, and you’ll fit that role.”
In less than a year. It’d be many months of hiding and sneaking. It was a plan, a future. A promise of a future together.
Because this—them—was monumental. It wasn’t an affair. It wasn’t a temporary passion. It was two women, two extraordinary women meeting each other against all odds, finding each other. Choosing each other, because they understood each other on a level that transcended words.
In less than a year, Miranda would let the world see Andrea’s magnificence so she may keep her forever. So Miranda may be kept forever, too. But that was just the beginning, Miranda knew. There would be many more events, banquets, galas, and parties. Many more chances to let the world see Andrea by her side. Because no one, absolutely no one, could ever think Andrea was single and available. Miranda wanted everyone to know Andrea was hers, and she was Andrea’s.
Maybe at Miranda’s usual birthday bash. Maybe at the Elias-Clarke New Year’s party. Whatever occasion she and Andrea chose, it would be a wordless statement of unity.
But first, the Met Gala.
"I'll find a reason to be invited," Andrea said, kissing the back of Miranda's neck. Andrea dragged her lips from Miranda’s neck to her shoulder, her breath hot against Miranda’s skin, and Miranda bit back a moan. "I'll be invited."
"You will," Miranda said, sighing and baring her neck for Andrea's hungry mouth. Miranda knew Andrea would find an excuse to be invited. They would. "Nigel will be amiable, I'm sure."
"And I'll have a reason to approach you." Gentle hands urged Miranda back into the bed as Andrea's mouth became more insistent. Each kiss hungrier than the last as she feasted on Miranda’s neck and shoulders. At a moment's notice, Andrea was ready to devour Miranda. Consume her. Take her.
Fully settling on her stomach, Miranda parted her legs in provocation, in invitation. "In front of the press and the world—"
"A profile." Andrea kissed her way down Miranda's spine, her hands leaving a blazing path as she massaged Miranda's back and waist. "A profile on the enigmatic Miranda Priestly."
Miranda let out a throaty chuckle and rose to her elbows. "I've been avoiding one for years."
"But I'll be insistent." Andrea nuzzled the small of her back and licked lightly. "I'll use all my charms."
Miranda could envision their meeting as if it were happening in front of her eyes. Andrea looking absolutely ravishing in an understated dress. Something beautiful, yet affordable. Something in red. Oh yes, a dark red gown with a jewel neckline and wide-open back. No one would bat an eye at her chic yet sophisticated choice, especially with Nigel on her arm.
Oh, he would bring Andrea to Miranda, she would make sure of it. If she had to apologize for Paris, she would do so again and as many times as she had to. Miranda would be contrite and apologetic. All to win him over, to twist the knife, and make him regret luring Andrea away from her side. He had let his anger over the James Holt job guide his generosity toward Andrea. His good intentions were tainted by his anger, and the guilt he was already displaying made him malleable. And to placate Miranda, he'd serve her Andrea on a silver platter out of loyalty and shame, and she would accept his apology with a magnanimous smile.
He would never know, she would never tell, but he had a role to play. And she would repay him tenfold. For Andrea, because of Andrea.
"I'll make you want to say yes," Andrea whispered, the smile in her tone apparent. She gently raked her teeth over Miranda’s backside. "You won't want to deny me."
"I won't," Miranda hissed when Andrea bit her hip. She moaned when Andrea's hand cupped between her legs—finding her hot and wet and ready—and Andrea squeezed and rubbed with her whole hand. Miranda thrust her hips back and whimpered softly. "And I'll be—intrigued by your proposal."
"I'll leave you my card..." Andrea trailed a single finger between Miranda’s soaked lips, circling the sensitive skin around her entrance, and then lower over her clit. Andrea teased her, toyed with her, and Miranda moaned her appreciation. Very gently, Andrea slid one finger inside.
Arching her back, Miranda moaned, "Ah—I'll accept it." Just one single finger made her feel so full, stretched her so deliciously. "Everyone will—ah—see me accepting it."
"And then…" Andrea's other hand sneaked under Miranda to cup one of her breasts. Andrea's touch was gentle yet possessive as she rolled a sensitive nipple between her fingers.
"And then you’ll be by my side forever," Miranda continued between gasps as Andrea slowly slid in and out. Miranda rolled her hips back, her forehead resting on the mattress as she thrust back, requesting more.
“I’ll never leave you,” Andrea promised, her mouth as unshakeable as her touch. “Never.”
Miranda believed her.
Miranda lifted her hips and followed Andrea’s rhythm, followed her anywhere Andrea wanted to be.
When the dust settled, when the vultures had their little feast, she would rise. She would sew herself back together after allowing them to see her humanity and her tragedy, so they might not see what truly mattered. Then they would move on to the next prone victim, one ill-prepared for their claws. Like the Phoenix, Miranda Priestly would rise from the ashes—as she always did, as she always would—but this time she wouldn't be alone. By her side, she would have Andrea Sachs: unburnt, unharmed, beautiful. Her equal, her companion. Her love.
The world would be theirs to conquer.
Two splendid women, side by side, rising together.