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The Fault in Ourselves

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In June, Miranda and Andréa flew to Chicago for Caroline’s and Cassidy’s college graduations. Caroline accepted a job at Christie’s in New York while Cassidy decided to do the Teach For America program in Los Angeles. Miranda was thrilled that Caroline would be living in the same city again, but it didn’t make up for the feelings of loss it conjured when Cassidy told her she’d been assigned to LA.   

“At least I know I can trust Caroline to properly auction off my art when the time comes,” Miranda said, staring out the window on the airplane. 

Andréa sat up and turned to her. “What do you mean when the time comes?” 

“Andréa, I won’t live forever.” 

“Miranda, you are not even sixty yet! Please don’t start doing this.”

“Doing what?” 

“Planning for your death.” 

“Everyone should be plan for this. It’s inevitable.”

“I know, it’s just—we’ve been together for less than a year. Can you please spare me from these thoughts for, I don’t know, ten years?” 

Miranda rolled her eyes. “I will likely die before you, Andréa. You’re going to need to deal with this at some point. My girls look up to you. You’ll need to be there—”

“Stop! Stop! Please, stop,” she said, putting her head in her hands. 

“Okay,” Miranda said, rubbing the woman’s back softly. “I’m sorry. I realize that talk makes you uncomfortable and will not speak of it anymore. I love you, darling.” 

Andréa sniffled and sat up, wiping her eyes. “Whatever happened to all your art? You had tons in the townhouse, I remember seeing the catalog at one point as your assistant.”

“It’s all on loan to various museums. David has the list. We could go visit the pieces if you’d like.” 

She shook her head. “Why’d you loan it out?” 

“I had nowhere to put it. The storage fees would be outrageous, and anyway, art deserves to be seen.” 

“Didn’t you have a Kandinsky? I always thought it was ugly, and I’m usually a fan of his work.” 

Miranda rolled her eyes. “He-who-shall-not-be-named picked that one out. I always thought it was horrid, too. When I moved, my attorney contacted him to see if he was interested in buying it from me, but he wasn’t.” 

“So it’s in some museum now?” 

“No. That was actually one of the most valuable pieces in my collection. Its price soared for some reason, so I auctioned it off. It paid for four years of college for both girls, and then some.” 

“Wow, that one painting?” 

“Yes. And you want to know the funny part?” 

“Naturally.” 

“When I offered it to Ste—to him—I was going to give it to him for exactly what I paid for it, no interest or anything. He could have been the one to sell it for a million.” 

Andréa laughed. “Serves him right, jackass.” 

Miranda chuckled. “Indeed.” 


* * *
 

NU Graduation weekend was jam-packed, and one of the things Cassidy scheduled for them was a girls’ night out with their friends—and their friends’ mothers and sisters and aunts—at their favorite local bar, Bat 17. Andréa remembered the bar from her time in Evanston, and she was pleased to see it hadn’t changed much over the years. This sort of place was certainly beyond Miranda’s own comfort zone, but she let Cassidy pick out an outfit for her—jeans and a t-shirt and a blazer—and at least she fit in dress-wise. 

Miranda leaned over to Andréa. “I can’t believe my babies are graduating college,” she said as she sipped her vodka tonic. 

“They’re such wonderful young women,” Andréa said, reaching for her hand and squeezing it. 

“I know. They really are. That should make me feel better, knowing what lovely women they’ve become. But it doesn’t. I miss holding them in my arms and getting sloppy kisses all over my cheeks.” 

Andréa pointed towards Cassidy, who was clearly intoxicated, standing near the bar with her sister and their friends. “I have a feeling you’ll be getting those sloppy kisses you wanted,” she said with a chuckle. 

“Oh good lord,” Miranda rolled her eyes. “I’m going over there.” She went over and joined the group, and her daughters both wrapped their arms around her, one on each side. 

A few minutes later, a young man shouted, “Oh my god, it’s Miranda Priestly!” and Miranda blushed furiously, tucking her face against Caroline’s shoulder. Andréa was quickly beside her, taking Cassidy’s place. Cassidy went over to the guy and was gesturing wildly while she said something. 

“Do you want to leave?” Andréa asked. 

“No, it’s fine.” 

“Hey Mom, this is Bryan. He was in one of my film classes. He’s a big fan,” Cassidy said. 

“BIG fan,” Bryan added. 

“And anyway, he wanted to meet you and maybe get a picture.” 

Miranda smiled. “Hello Bryan,” she said coolly, eyeing his outfit up and down and giving a slight nod. 

“Oh my god,” he exhaled. “You’re amazing. I wish I brought my copy of Runway for you to sign!” 

Miranda quirked her eyebrow and Caroline and Andréa both elbowed her. She rolled her eyes and smiled at him. “Hi Bryan, it’s a pleasure to meet you. And I’ll gladly mail you a signed copy if you’d like, just let Cassidy know which issue.” 

“And a picture, Mom?” 

Andréa took Bryan’s phone. “I’ve got this.” She took a few steps back and took a few photos of Miranda with Bryan, one where she was pursing her lips and had her arms crossed, and another where she had her arms around Bryan and Cassidy, smiling brightly. “Perfect,” Andrea said. 

Bryan thanked her profusely, then said goodbye. 

“Thanks for going all Miranda Priestly on him,” Cassidy said with a smile. 

“There was once a time you asked me not to go all Miranda Priestly on your friends, do you remember that?” 

“Yeah, sorry I was such a little shit on that trip. You’re the best, Mom!” She pressed a few sloppy kisses to Miranda’s cheek. 

“Told ya,” Andréa whispered in her ear. 

 “I love you so much, sweetheart,” Miranda said, hugging her daughter and returning the kisses to her cheek. “I’m going to miss you very much when you’re in LA.” 

“I’ll miss you too, Mom,” she said, hugging her back and kissing her on the cheek again.

“I think Andréa and I are going to head back. Would you like a ride home? You’ve had plenty tonight and there’s a long day tomorrow.” 

Cassidy rolled her eyes. “Ugh, Mom, come on. I’m fine!” 

Miranda locked eyes with a few of the other mothers and they all seemed to agree to cut the night short. Andréa called for their car—Miranda refused to try and catch a taxi on this weekend—and within minutes they were all piled in the backseat of the car. 

“Caroline, see that she drinks enough water tonight, okay?” 

“Yep,” she sighed. “On it. As always.” 

Andréa reached over and put her arm around Caroline. “Do you want me or your mom to stay at your place tonight?" 

“No, it’s okay,” Caroline said, resting her head on Andréa’s shoulder.

When they got to the girls’ apartment, Miranda and Andréa watched them go inside, then told the driver to head back to their hotel. Miranda reached for her hand. “You’re going to meet James and Karen tomorrow, you know,” she said. 

“I figured. Should I be nervous?” 

“No, not at all. They’re great. I don’t think James knows you were my assistant. Or that you’re younger than me.” 

“But he knows I’m a woman, right?” 

Miranda rolled her eyes. “Yes, of course.” 

“Are you nervous, Miranda?” 

She shook her head. “Not about that. I don’t care what he thinks of me—or you, for that matter. I don’t want anything to detract from Caroline and Cassidy’s graduation day, though.” 

“What about breakfast tomorrow? Why don’t we just get breakfast with James and Karen before we meet up with the girls? You know they’d both rather sleep an extra hour than eat breakfast anyway.” 

“I really want to believe that won’t be necessary. I, too, would like to spend an extra hour in bed with you instead,” Miranda said. “How about I call James now, explain things, and see what he wants to do?” 

Andréa nodded and Miranda called him on speaker. 

“Hi Miranda,” he answered. 

“Hi. You’re on speaker—I’m in the car with Andréa. We just dropped the girls off at home.” 

“Did you all have a good time?” 

“Yes, it was nice,” she said. “Look, we want to talk to you about something before tomorrow because we don’t want anything taking away from the girls’ big day.” 

“You’re scaring me, Miranda.” 

“You might recognize Andréa when you see her. She was one of my assistants ten years ago.” 

James didn’t respond for a while, and the two women exchanged a glance. 

“Actually,” Andréa said, “you might remember me as Andy. That’s what I usually go by. Miranda here doesn’t like nicknames, though. I know we’ve spoken on the phone many times, but I can’t remember if we ever met in person back then,” she said. 

Miranda squeezed her hand and mouthed “thank you.” 

“Your voice does sound familiar,” James said. “It’ll be nice to meet you in person tomorrow.” 

“Likewise,” she said. 

“Do the four of us need to get coffee early tomorrow, or can we all act like civilized adults in front of the girls?” Miranda asked. 

James laughed. “There will be no age-related jokes from me,” he said. “At least until after tomorrow.” 

Miranda rolled her eyes and turned to Andréa. “Do you see what I had to put up with?” 

Andréa chuckled. “Okay, thanks, James. See you tomorrow,” she said, and Miranda ended the call. “Why were you so nervous?”

“I gave him a hard time when he married Karen. She’s six or seven years younger than him,” Miranda said. 

“What’d you say?” 

“I may have sent him a card congratulating him on the new baby when they announced their engagement,” Miranda said. 

Andréa playfully slapped her arm. “Oh my gosh.” 

“And I said something along the lines of letting her borrow Cassidy and Caroline’s clothes since they’re so close in age.” 

Andréa laughed. “Oh my god, he is going to throw all that back at you and then some.” 

“Indeed he will. Does it upset you?” 

“No. As long as it doesn’t upset you, who cares, right?” 

“Right,” Miranda said, leaning over and capturing the younger woman’s lips. “All I know is I’ll be the one with the gorgeous young woman on my arm tomorrow.” 

Andréa climbed onto her lap and kissed her fiercely. “And I,” she licked the skin behind her ear, “will be the one,” she dragged her finger across her collarbone and cupped her breast, “with the fucking gorgeous,” she squeezed her nipple between her fingers, “MILF on my arm.” 

Miranda was panting. “Please, Andréa. Fuck, please,” she begged. 

Andréa slid her hand between their bodies, pressing the seam of Miranda’s jeans against her clit. 

Miranda’s hips wriggled, and Andréa quickly moved her hand back and forth, clasping her other hand over Miranda’s mouth as her body trembled and quaked.

Andréa returned to the seat next to Miranda and kissed her softly, “You’re beautiful, you know.” 

“Mmm, not as beautiful as you, my darling.” 


* * *
 

Summer quickly turned to fall. In September they celebrated their first year together, and again marveled at the first snow of the season from the warmth and comfort of Miranda’s terrace. James flew Cassidy to Chicago for the day over Thanksgiving, while Andréa flew her father in to New York for a few days. He stayed in her spare bedroom, and Miranda and Caroline came over on Thursday to make a turkey and some side dishes while Andréa took her dad to the parade in the morning. They enjoyed a lovely dinner, and Miranda invited them over the following day for a lasagna dinner. They took him to the airport the next day, and Caroline comforted Andréa as she cried the entire way home from LaGuardia. He was very forgetful and Andréa knew he couldn’t live by himself much longer. She begged him to stay in New York with her, but he insisted on going back to Cincy. 

Miranda promised to spend two weeks in Cincinnati with Andréa at the end of the year, getting her dad settled in an assisted living facility. She told James about it, and he was very sympathetic, mostly because he saw what Karen and her sister went through with Arthur. He agreed to fly out to LA for two weeks to spend time with Cassidy, and Caroline decided she’d spend one week in Cincinnati with Andréa and her mom, then she’d fly out to LA over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend to spend time with her sister, who hardly got any time off.

Their second Christmas together was very difficult, and Miranda was so grateful Caroline was there to help because she worried she couldn’t support Andréa on her own. And Caroline was just so kind and considerate with older people. While Richard Sachs was only ten years older than Miranda, his dementia made him seem much, much older. They got him setup in a very nice assisted living facility and brought his bed and sofa and chair and kitchen table from the house so that it would feel like home. Some of Andréa’s aunts and uncles didn’t agree with her decision to move him there, but she told them that he refused to move to New York with her and that he wanted to be near his sisters and brothers. She begged them to help her out and visit him when she couldn’t, and Miranda’s heart broke watching Andréa in so much anguish. 

Caroline went back to New York while the two women went through Andrea’s childhood home. Since they knew Richard was never going to get better to where he could return to the house, she decided to sell the house. They put a few boxes aside of things Andréa wanted to keep, and Andréa posted a few items for sale on Facebook and Craigslist. Over the next few days, they took several car loads of other items to local charity shops, and donated what was left of her mother’s clothing to a local shelter. After a few days, the house was mostly empty. Miranda helped her find a realtor, and they met with him and did a walk through of the house to see what he thought. She knew it needed to be painted, and likely needed new flooring, but Andréa didn’t want to hold onto it that long. She knew she could get more money for it if she fixed it up, but not even Miranda’s offer to have someone else manage the remodel was enough to sway her. She wanted it sold as quickly as possible, so they stayed a few days more and hired painters and had the carpets cleaned before putting it on the market.

Back in New York, Miranda could see Andréa was keeping a lot bottled up inside. Caroline tried to get lunch with her a few times a week, and Miranda invited herself over nearly every night. They’d curl up in bed after dinner and Miranda would hold her while she cried for several hours until she fell asleep. Night after night. Miranda didn’t want to leave her when she went to Paris, so she called Nigel and asked him to come in. She would be gone for 10 days and she told him to bring his partner and stay at her condo if he wanted, but more than anything, she needed him to look after Andréa and try to keep her spirits up. He agreed, and she felt comfortable leaving her Andréa in his and Caroline’s hands. One day, Caroline sent Miranda a video she secretly recorded of Andréa laughing at something Nigel said, and that warmed Miranda’s heart to no end. 

Nigel was gone by the time she got back from Paris, but Andréa seemed to be less sad and Miranda was grateful. 

“Darling, I have a surprise for your birthday. Can you get next Friday off work?” 

“Are we going somewhere?” she asked. 

“No, but I promise you will love it,” she said, kissing her softly. 

“Thank you, Miranda,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “For everything you do for me. You and Caroline have been going out of your way to make me feel so loved, and even Cassidy and her email updates about her outrage at the inner-city school system in LA. And Nigel—I know it was your idea for him to come, and thank you, so much for that.” 

“You don’t have to thank me, but you’re welcome,” Miranda said. She kissed her on the forehead, then the cheek, then her lips. 

When they parted, Andréa pressed her forehead against the other woman’s. “I need to feel you, your touch,” she whispered. 

Miranda wrapped her arms around the woman and led her to the bedroom, running her hands up and down her arms and back and torso and legs. She straddled Andréa’s waist as she carefully unbuttoned her blouse and removed her bra. “You, my darling, are so beautiful,” Miranda whispered as she pressed feather-light kisses to her chest and stomach. She moved back and unbuttoned Andréa’s pants, tugging them off along with her underwear. Andréa reached behind her and unclasped her bra, and Miranda couldn’t help but trace over every inch of her unmarred skin. 

“I want to feel you, Miranda,” she whispered, slipping her hands up her legs and beneath her skirt. 

Miranda nodded and quickly removed her own clothes before returning to the woman in the center of her bed. She hovered over Andréa’s body, leaning forward to capture her lips in a soft and slow kiss. Andréa pulled her body down so she was laying with all her weight on her. “Is this okay?” 

“Yes. You’re light as a feather, Miranda. I like feeling you like this.” 

Miranda nuzzled her neck in acknowledgment and felt Andréa’s thigh between her legs, her leg bent behind her. 

“Please, make love to me,” she said as she nudged Miranda’s hand lower. 

Miranda willingly complied and was soon between Andréa’s legs, her face glistening with the woman’s juices. She pressed soft kisses to the inside of Andréa’s thigh as she used her fingers to build her up once more, then she snaked her tongue around the woman’s clitoris and she felt her walls contracting around her fingers, her left leg going rigid as her back arched off the mattress. Miranda trailed kisses up her body, keeping her hands in place, until Andréa pulled her up, kissing her fiercely and licking her own juices from Miranda’s chin. 

Andréa reached down and slipped her hand between Miranda’s legs, causing the woman to jerk her hips forward and inhale sharply as her body began to quake. “That’s it,” Andréa said, pulling the woman forward so she could feel her body rippling against her own. “I love you so much, Miranda,” she said, pressing a kiss to her nose. 

“Mmm, me too,” Miranda hummed as she closed her eyes and fell asleep on her chest. 


* * *
 

For Andréa’s birthday, Miranda invited her to lunch at Chez Josephine with none other than Stevie Nicks, who was in town for the cover shoot for the October issue of Runway. Miranda had planned to have lunch with her all along, as they’ve met before and genuinely enjoyed one another, but she knew Andréa would be delighted to meet the songstress. And she was. After she got over the initial shock, Miranda just sat back and watched their conversation, so pleased to see Andréa so exhilarated and happy. And before they parted, Stevie delighted them and the other patrons to a rendition of “Rhiannon” on the piano. Andréa was over the moon, and Miranda was glad to see her smiling. 

In the months that followed, Andréa mood seemed to improve. Her father was doing well and had settled in nicely, his siblings were visiting him several times a week, and she sold the house, the proceeds going into his account to pay for his continued care and living expenses. They took a long weekend to visit Cassidy in LA, and Miranda was relieved to see that she, too, had settled in very well there. 

That spring, Miranda announced that at the end of the year, she would be stepping down as Editor in Chief of Runway, though she would still have Atelier. The fashion world quickly proclaimed it “The End of an Era,” but those who knew Miranda knew this was the plan for a while—and more importantly, they knew Miranda would still find a way to have her hand in Runway. 

That summer, Andréa arranged a surprise for Miranda on a Sunday afternoon in Central Park. She kept most of the details quiet until the day of, and as Miranda was being led to the Delacorte, she realized that Andréa was taking her to see the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar. Others may have thought it odd for a tragic story about betrayal and murder to feature so prominently in the couple’s life, but not Miranda. To her, it was romantic. She was delighted that Andréa secured them seats in the reserved front row. 

“There’s more to the surprise,” Andréa said, pointing over at Caroline and Cassidy who ran over to join their mother. It had been a year since she had been able to hug them both at the same time like that, and Miranda was so grateful to Andréa for making it happen.  

“Did you tell her yet, Andy?” Cassidy asked, sitting between Miranda and Andréa.

“No, I think we’ll let this one be a surprise, okay?” she winked. 

“It’s your head if she flips out,” Cassidy whispered, though Miranda still heard it. She wasn’t sure what else could be in store for the afternoon, but she trusted Andréa enough to enjoy the time with her girls and take it for what it was. 

“Andy,” Caroline said, “do you know what theme they’re doing this year? Don’t they usually have Caesar dressed up like the president?” 

“Yeah, we did that feature on the history of Shakespeare in the Park in Town & Country last month. I think last year was Barack Obama, but they did other people like Jay Leno and Joan Rivers before,” Andréa replied. She kept looking down at her phone and smiling. 

“Shh, it’s starting,” Cassidy said. “Put your phone away, Andy.” 

“Okay, okay,” she said, tucking her phone in her bag. They watched the opening scene, and as Flavius shooed everyone off stage, Andréa leaned over Cassidy and quickly whispered to Miranda, “Remember, I love you very much.” 

Miranda looked at Andréa curiously, then at the stage where Caesar walked out with Antony and a few others. Except Caesar was not dressed in a roman toga nor as a president. Caesar was wearing a white suit, red stilettos, and had white wig that was perfectly coiffed to match Miranda’s hairstyle exactly. The crowd cheered as Miranda turned to look at Andréa with her mouth wide open. 

Just then Caesar saw Miranda in the front row and walked closer, sneering as he gave Miranda a once-over before pursing his lips and walking back towards the cast. Miranda brought her hand up to cover her mouth and a few tears fell from her eyes. She nudged Cassidy over to switch seats.

Andréa leaned against Miranda. “I had no influence over their decision on whom to satirize, but when they told me they were doing you, I helped them do it right,” she said. 

Miranda turned and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you, Brutus,” she said. Seconds later, Brutus and Cassius appeared on stage, and playing Brutus was none other than Irv Ravitz. “Oh my god,” she gasped. 

“He’s only on through the death of Caesar, then another actor picks it up,” Andréa said. Brutus was one of the main characters, and while Irv was willing to play along with the satire, he was not interested much in the rest.  

Caesar’s death had Miranda in stitches, as Caesar kept interrupting and telling the senators they needed to “take it from the top,” saying things like “why is nobody read-y?” and “Brutus, I asked for passion and anger and all you gave me was dull and boring” and “Cassius, where’s this toga from? Casual Corner?” 

At the end of the play, the production team stepped on stage, and Miranda was shocked to see Nigel Kipling as a guest producer. Caesar gestured for Miranda to come up on stage and she did, and she knew there’d be a picture of her happy and smiling with her arm around Nigel in the papers the next day. 

Afterwards, they walked to dinner, where Andréa made reservations, and they all finally got to meet Nigel’s partner, Gabriel. They ate and drank and laughed and celebrated even though there was nothing in particular to celebrate. And it was glorious, having all the people she loved in the same place, at the same time, around the same table. Miranda couldn’t have asked for a better evening with better people and she knew she had the brunette to thank. After dinner, they all walked back to Miranda’s place, and she pulled Andréa aside. “Thank you for making me feel so loved. I feel a bit like the whole city loves me tonight.” 

“I think it does,” Andréa said. 

“You know what I think about a lot? What Cassius said in the beginning. Men at some time are masters of their fates… I remember years ago thinking about this and about how unfair it was that I only had you for a day before I lost you. I wanted someone to blame, but I could only blame myself.” She cupped Andréa’s cheek. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings. 

“Ever the Cassius to my Brutus, I see,” Andrea said. 

Miranda smiled. “Always.” 

“Why then, lead on.”

Miranda took her hand and together, they walked home.