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Harper's First Day

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About aAbout a month had gone by since their first farmers-market encounter and in Miranda’s opinion things were going well. Or as well as could be expected. The second meeting, however, was a bit of a challenge. Caroline and Cassidy were home that weekend so Miranda bravely brought them with her to the farmers-market without much of an explanation. At first they were anything but thrilled about doing something they considered to be boring and ‘totally un-cool’ but in the end things worked out.

The twins took their time warming up to Andrea which Miranda had anticipated. She already knew this was going to be a very odd experience for them; since they had never witnessed their mother go out in public with someone like this - be it in a ‘friendship’ capacity or something else entirely. It seemed that Andrea had anticipated this too and took their initial aloofness in stride. At least they were good with Harper right from the beginning. Not many babies had ever crossed their paths so Harper yet again served as a very good distraction. So all in all…it went well.

The third meeting was a more intimate affair and it caused Miranda a great amount of stress. She was scheduled to have dinner with Andrea…at Andrea’s apartment. That being the case, Miranda was on edge the whole day and nothing went right. In spite of all hell breaking lose at Runway she managed to show up on time and yet again Harper served as a very good distraction. That is until Andrea put her down for the night. Things went south from there for some reason and the conversation all but ended. They tried to get things started again several times only to begin by speaking at the same exact moment. Finally after one failed attempt too many Miranda decided it was time to call it a night. The next morning however she felt an apology was in order but the phone call only resulted in them both trying to apologize to one another for the same thing at the same time. It was quickly determined that no apology was necessary and they did not speak again for two whole days.

At least progress was being made in some form and that was really all Miranda could ask for since there really wasn’t much more to be had. Yet. It was no longer a surprise to Miranda that she wanted more. Every time she saw Andrea, their conversations deepened (when they could manage to say something), and it was perfectly clear to them both that a connection was being made even if neither of them spoke of it. Therefore, they had to be together. It was just that simple to Miranda and having never been one to analyze beyond what was necessary, coupled with her strengthen convictions and desires; it really was the best and most logical conclusion.  With this in mind there were more dinners and another trip to the market.

Tonight they were scheduled to have another dinner at Andrea’s apartment and this time the girl’s would come along and they were actually looking forward to it. Another encouraging sign. But as it often happens in Miranda’s world; plans would change.

***

Her three o’clock run-through was beginning to look just as disappointing as she had feared it would be. While Jocelyn tried yet again to show her something that might catch her eye and be deemed acceptable, Miranda stepped over to her desk and riffled through a drawer until she found some much-needed Excedrin. She swallowed two pills without any water and kept on wading through the steady stream of incompetence. Jocelyn would be lucky if she lasted another month. The disappointments she was bringing to the table were occurring far too often.

Suddenly Miranda noticed Emily at the door. “Let’s break here for a moment shall we.” The room quieted and Miranda stepped toward the door since it seemed clear that Emily had no intention of coming closer. “You have something to say?”

“Yes.” Emily swallowed and the look on her face told Miranda that something, somewhere had to be wrong…which was not what she needed today.

“We…I…have a bit of problem.”

Miranda just stood there with a raised eyebrow and silently willed Emily to continue.

“I have just received a call from Andrea…and I may need to leave.”

She straightened, stiffened and of all things began tapping her foot at this news. “Get on with it, Emily. Quickly.”

“You’re aware that she is working from home today since the babysitter is out of town, yes?”

Yes she was and the reason Emily knew that, she knew, was because Emily was fully aware of the relationship…friendship that was forming. “Yes, I am. Now tell me what has happened.”

“Something…at City Hall. I’m not sure what, she didn’t go into much detail but apparently it’s pretty big…some cover-up has apparently been un-covered…”

“Imagine that.”

“Yes, quite right. As I was saying…she…her Editor is insistent that she be there and since the babysitter is out…”

“She needs you.”

“Yes.”

Miranda held her tongue for a moment and thought this through. It would be easy to allow Emily to go…the other Emily was capable enough and it was coming on four o’clock and since Miranda did not intend on being here any later than six-thirty…well… “Very well, go.” Emily immediately started to turn around and gather her things but no, wait…Suddenly Miranda remembered the blouse that Harper managed to ruin last weekend and an idea formed. She owed Miranda money. “Wait…no.” And of course Emily turned back with a look of disappointment. She no doubt thought Miranda was about to be a major bitch; but that could not be further from the truth. “Call her. Tell her to drop Harper off with you…here.”

“What?” The look of confusion on Emily’s face was priceless.

“Ask… just ask her to bring Harper here. There isn’t much left of the day after this and…just ask her. If she declines then certainly go.” Yes, if Andrea accepted, this could go a long way in moving things forward as she would see this as an incredibly odd yet very meaningful gesture on Miranda’s part. And besides, it would be fun…and nothing fun happened around here these days. Nothing.

“You’ve forgotten something, Miranda. The privacy issue?” Emily put a great deal of emphasis on the word privacy and Miranda understood her perfectly.

“I do not make a habit of explaining my reasons or actions as you are well aware Emily…I’m sure you catch my meaning?”

“You intend to just ignore everyone’s questions?”

“Precisely.”

“Bloody hell.” Emily sighed and turned to make her phone call. Miranda released a smile that was rarely seen in this building and went back into her office to continue wading through more incompetence. Several minutes later Emily poked her head in the door and gave Miranda a nod. Apparently her offer had just been accepted. This was about to be one of the best days Miranda had had at work in years.

In fifteen minutes the run-through was done, thank God, and the Excedrin had kicked in…and here was Harper. Miranda caught site of Emily coming into their area and went straight to her, holding out her hands for Harper’s bag and carrier. Emily looked at her like she was absolutely crazy. “I’ll take it from here.”

“Wha-“

“I will not repeat myself. Did Andrea indicate whether or not she needs anything right away…changing, feeding?”

“Uh…well, no. She said everything was fine for now. Miranda…?”

“Let it go Emily.”

Emily blinked a few times then handed Harper over. “If you need anything just let me know.”

“I do. Coffee. That’s all.”

Miranda set Harper down by her chair, leaving her in the carrier and stared down at her. She was grinning and chewing on a set of colorful plastic keys that every baby owns at some point in their lives. The amount of drool that was being produced in this act was astounding. Miranda leaned down with a tissue and wiped it away. “You are quite good at that you know. It seems to be your specialty.” Harper giggled and returned Miranda’s stare. Finally Miranda couldn’t take it anymore and had to look away. The child was bewitching…just like her mother.

While she got back to doing a little work, Miranda kept up their conversation, looking down at her now and again over her glasses. “Harper…oh my, this is horrible…” Miranda drew a few lines across an entire sheet of proofs, “As I was about to say, you should always remember that whatever you are good at, say drooling for instance and making a lot of noise, do your best to be extraordinary at it. Your level of dedication will carry you far. Oh and look at this, “ Miranda held up a proof sheet and Harper’s eyes lit up at this new thing brought into her life. “Dreadful…the lighting is dreadful wouldn’t you agree?” Harper sounded off her agreement and Miranda drew more lines through it. Between herself and Harper, Miranda had a feeling a re-shoot was on the horizon.

A little time went by and the two of them basically ignored each other while they went about their respective tasks; Miranda with her proof sheets and Harper working diligently on her drooling and vocal abilities. It was a better working partnership than Miranda had experienced in quite some time. It might have been a bit early in their newly formed partnership, but they were about to be tested  because Nigel and several other staff members were due in Miranda’s office for a quick meeting in oh, about five minutes. Harper dutifully chose this moment to grow tired of her work and insist on a change in scenery so of course Miranda complied and picked her up.

Harper settled into the combination of Miranda’s arm and lap and focused intently on the pictures spread across Miranda’s desk. Silence returned until there was a gasp at the door. “My God, have I been hit over the head…am I in a twilight zone?” Nigel flitted into the room and eyed them both suspiciously. Harper was definitely not impressed and made that fact clearly known.

“Nigel, do sit down before the child goes into full blown hysterics. Are you this charismatic with all tiny beings?”

“I…well…Miranda who is that?” Nigel pointed and again Harper was not impressed. Miranda turned her around to face the windows so Nigel’s presence was less bothersome.

“This is Harper. Ah, here comes everyone else. Late…you’re late…and to think of all the time you’ve had to prepare.” Everyone else began to file into the room, some sitting, some standing but certainly all of them were staring. “Enough staring, she’s already out of her mind over the oddity called ‘Nigel’.” Miranda bounced her a little and patted her back. This seemed to smooth things out nicely and she grew quiet again…a short nap was probably about to be in the cards. “Now Harper and I have been looking over some of these…” She held up some of the proofs “and we’re both in agreement that much of this is either un-usable or needs quite a bit of work. I wonder what outcome we will ultimately reach here, hm?” She eyed them all and no one moved, all too scared to admit that this was a clear failure. “Someone please tell me something that will improve my mood in this regard?” Miranda surveyed the room and waited for an answer that never really came. At least they passed their test. Harper managed to remain as quiet as possible and Miranda managed to remain calmer in this meeting than any other in years – overall it was a major victory for them both.

***

By six Harper was fed and changed and the two of them retired to the couch in the corner of Miranda’s office to do more work. Andrea had texted to say that she would not be done for a while yet and there was no point in rushing anything to get out the door. So - Miranda settled in to wait with a pile of work next to her and a bottle nearby in case of an emergency.

“You know Harper, I’ve been thinking…” Miranda paused when Harper looked up at her from her position in Miranda’s arm. “Yes, I see you. You know we’re about to have an important talk, don’t you?” Harper giggled and grabbed Miranda’s necklace. “Yes, you do…as I was saying; there are a few things we should discuss while we have the chance. Remember when I told you earlier that you must strive to be extraordinary in what you do? Well, there are a few things I should probably add to that so you are thoroughly educated.” Miranda leaned over and grabbed an issue of her greatest competitor’s magazine and opened it in her lap. “You see this Harper? This is someone else…trying to be extraordinary at the very same thing that I do.” Harper furiously ran her chubby little hand over a page and Miranda laughed. “My thoughts exactly, darling. Be aware Harper…when someone else is threatening your extraordinary talent, you must be prepared to do one of two things. Your first option is to learn their strengths, learn their strengths and build upon your own until you outshine theirs…be fierce, ruthless even. Do whatever it takes to gain high-ground and keep it.

However, your second option is to choose a different path entirely. Perhaps you will not be willing to do the horrible things that are necessary sometimes or perhaps there will be something else you end up wanting to be extraordinary at. If that is the case, and you have thoroughly re-evaluated your situation…then you have to choose what is right for you.” Harper reached up and pulled at Miranda’s necklace again then wiggled around as if she was a bit uncomfortable. Miranda laid her down more in her arm and she settled. “Harper, your mother is the one you should speak to about making the right choices…the good choices, for in here.” Miranda tapped Harper’s chest gently. “She is far better at that than I am and always will be. I cannot teach you how to be a good person…not a truly good person; but she can, so you will need to listen to everything she tells you.”

Miranda grew quiet for a minute and carefully chose her next words. “Speaking of your mother, you did not come with an instruction book as I’m sure you are aware…so you will need to be patient with her. She’s fairly new at this…so be patient. She will make mistakes but so will you but in the end everything will work out. That’s just how these things are. Harper…” Miranda took her little hand and kissed it which made the girl squirm and smile…and drool. Miranda just sighed and wiped it away. “Harper, I hope it’s alright with you…I’m going to try very hard to love your mother the very best that I can. It is not something I am not statistically good at as I have only truly been able to love three people in my life; my children and my mother. But I suppose half the battle is in the trying and I’m not really sure I’ve ever tried in earnest to love anyone else. So…I’m going to try. Would you be agreeable to that?” Harper just sighed and chewed on her own hand. Miranda supposed that was a good enough sign and then thought about how ridiculous this conversation was. Explaining your own facts of your own life to an eight month old was easy…but ridiculous.

Minutes later Harper was sound asleep and Miranda closed her eyes in an attempt to visualize what she wanted her life to be like. Her new life. It would be drastically different than this old one that was slowly fading out of view. Visualization had always been her key to unlocking and obtaining the things which she desired most. She had just never been good at figuring out what those things truly needed to be. Apparently she was getting the hang of it now…finally.

“Miranda.” There was a gentle voice and a gentle touch to her arm. She opened her eyes and met Andrea’s gaze.

“Andrea…”

“So you guys fell asleep, huh?” She smiled at them both and took Harper out of Miranda’s arms slowly so as not to wake her.

“I admit to nothing.” Miranda smirked.

“I’m really, really sorry about today. You did not have to do this you know.” Andrea placed Harper on the couch on the other side of her and continued. “I really appreciate it…but I am sorry.”

“You shouldn’t be. It was nothing. She owed me a blouse…I think she’s earned enough.” Miranda looked down at Andrea’s hands several times then back up at her eyes. At some point she was going to have to hold her hands. She wanted to know what they felt like. “But really…I wanted to do this for you. Is that such a bad thing? I enjoyed the last part of my day far more than I have any other in quite some time. It was a day of lessons. I explained some of the finer points on the need to be extraordinary…I think she understood.”

“But it was something, and you know it.” Andrea blushed and turned her head away. It was almost like she was ashamed of something. “As for the extraordinary part…I hate that I can’t do this without help…sometimes I feel like I can’t do this at all.”  She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. Miranda followed and rested a hand on her back, hesitantly at first but then fully, letting it settle into her.

“Andrea, I have never known or heard of a mother that has been able to be all and do all without help.”

“You…I’m sure you were fabulous at this when the girls were this age.”

Now that made Miranda nearly choke from laughter. “Andrea…oh my, God you can’t be serious.” Miranda laughed again. “Honestly…you think I was fabulous with two babies that I knew nothing about caring for? Darling, I hate to disappoint you but my mother practically lived in my home for their first two years on this Earth. I may be extraordinary at a great many things but I had absolutely no idea what to do with them.”

“Yeah, well. I still feel like a failure most of the time and I really hate that feeling.”

“And here again I hate to disappoint but that feeling will likely never go away completely. Not when it comes to your children. I fail on many levels of motherhood on a daily basis, especially lately…in spite of my efforts to be there for them more. Just ask them. I feel like the older they get, the less I can relate. So see? It’s a never ending issue but as I told Harper earlier; half the battle is in the trying.”

Andrea straightened up and brushed a single tear away. “You’re right. I’m just tired today. This crap is always worse when I’m tired.” Finally she leaned back into the couch and seemed very close to laying her head against Miranda’s arm. “You like her don’t you?”

“Yes…yes I do.” Miranda said quietly. God only knows where this portion of the conversation was about to go.

“She likes you too…it’s pretty obvious.”

“You might be right. We did have an excellent time today…we had a nice talk before you got here.”

“You mean before you fell asleep?” Andrea glanced at her in amusement.

“As I said before, I admit to nothing but we did indeed have a good talk.”

“Well I’m glad. I’m sure she listened to every single word you said.” And then Andrea did in fact lay her head ever so slowly onto Miranda’s arm. “Is this okay?” She whispered.

 “Yes.” Miranda took the hand that was now so close by and held it. “Will you let me help you Andrea?”

“That depends on your definition of help Miranda.”

“Just let me be of help to you when you need it. I would like it if you felt like you could…count on me.”

“I have one condition.” Andrea lifted up and looked at her.

“I’m not fond of conditions but I have a feeling you’ll be the exception to that rule. What is your one condition?”

“Kiss me…please, kiss me.”

A lump formed in Miranda’s throat and the temperature of the room rose to a whole new level. This was definitely the kind of condition that Miranda could live with and that needed only to be conveyed in action. No words were required. She turned slightly on the couch and cupped Andrea’s chin. They both leaned in at once and savored the first touch of their lips. Miranda was in no hurry. She had been waiting and thinking about this for a long time and was eager to slowly take it all in. Andrea was apparently of the same mind but soon their kisses grew deeper…and the temperature rose higher. Miranda’s new favorite things were Andrea’s bottom lip and the taste of her mouth and the slow, easy pressure of her tongue against Miranda’s own.

Finally Andrea broke away. “Oh my, God…that was. Wow…” She ran a shaking hand through her hair and tucked it back behind her ears. It was hard not to dive right back in after witnessing that. Miranda had always loved her hair.

 “Yes, I’m in complete agreement.” Miranda blushed.

 “I always knew you would be a great kisser…” Andrea moved closer again but someone had other plans. Harper decided she had been neglected long enough. “Oh, now you’re awake. Thanks for waiting awhile kiddo.” Andrea gathered Harper up into her arms.

“Yes, that was considerate of her to say the least.” Miranda sat back and tried to find her bearings, which wasn’t easy. As much as she’d wanted that kiss it was a little hard to comprehend the simplicity of it. Miranda had pictured more ‘dates’ and lengthy discussions leading up to it…but no. Perhaps she should bring Harper to work more often if things ended like this every time?

“So tell me…how was your day with her? Really.”

“Uh…Her first day was a success. Well, she’s scared to death of Nigel but other than that it went fine.”

“Oh, boy.” Andrea laughed and Miranda confidently put her arm around her.

“Exactly. I think she’ll have his job if he’s not careful.”

“Now that really would be something…did you get any work done?”

“Indeed I did. We obliterated an entire photo shoot, held a meeting and did whatever else Emily told us to do. Overall it was a good day.” Now how many times had Miranda ever been able to say that at the end of the day? “If you’re not too tired why don’t the two of you come to the townhouse? I’m sure you’re hungry and I know the girls are ‘positively famished’. I’ll even drive you home later.”

“Sounds wonderful. I’m starving...”

 

THE END