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Love and Marriage

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“Love and Marriage”

By Frank Sinatra

 

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other

Love and marriage, love and marriage
It's an institute you can't disparage
Ask the local gentry 
And they will say it's elementary

Try, try, try to separate them
It's an illusion 
Try, try, try, and you will only come
To this conclusion

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can't have one without the other

 


 

FRIDAY 6/26

 

I once thought my everyday routine was going to be something magnificent. I would wake up at the break of day and feed on the injustices of society before galloping off to report the evils of our generation for the masses. Journalist extraordinaire destined to make history while telling the true history. I was going to be the queen of headlines and front-page stories.

Well, things didn’t really turn out that way. But it was still magnificent.

Nowadays, I woke up to Miranda’s lips on my cheek before she trotted out of our bedroom to begin her day. Mine usually began roughly an hour later, very much not at the crack of down. I then roused the girls for school or camp or appointments or lessons depending on the time of week and time of year. I did not feed on facts, scandal, and hard-hitting news but rather enjoyed a bowl of whatever cereal the girls were having that morning.

However, this morning, only half of the duo managed to make it downstairs.

I spooned one last bite of Frosted Flakes into my mouth.

“Where’s your sister?”

Caroline shrugged. “Still upstairs.”

Yup, now I didn’t investigate robberies or freak accidents. My detective-work involved isolating the reasons why the girls could never be on time.

I tried to remain optimistic as I climbed the stairs. I had woken her up about twenty minutes ago. Maybe she was just moving slow. She could be brushing her teeth or in the final stages of getting dressed.

When I entered Cassidy’s doorway, I sighed. Nope. Still in pajamas and in bed.

“You need to get a move on, kiddo, we’re gonna be late.”

“I’m not going.”

Pre-teens. Gotta love ‘em.

“Oh really?” I replied, leaning against the doorframe, “And why would that be?”

The frown on her face deepened. “I just don’t want to.”

Her voice wasn’t snapping or rude. It was light and evasive enough to make me think it was something genuine.

“A convincing argument. Still not enough to get you out of going to camp today,” I stated slowly, pushing off wall and making my way towards her bed.

I thought getting them up for school everyday had been a challenge. This fancy summer camp was like their Dalton Academy and Girl Scouts on steroids.

They earned certificates for completing different tasks. I probably would have stopped going after the classes on Campfires and Extreme Jump Roping, but the girls seemed to like it.

There was a solid pause after I sat on the edge of her bed, looking at her expectantly. Her eyes continued to avoid me.

Eventually, she muttered, “We have to run the mile today.”

“Gotcha. You know, even if you miss it today, you’ll probably have to make it up on a different day,” my voice softened as I patted her knee, “I thought you liked going to camp.”

“I do. But I don’t like running.”

“Remember that Math test you had two months ago in school? You didn’t want to go then either.”

She pointedly looked at me, on the verge of rolling her eyes. “Yeah, well, I hate Math.”

“But you studied a lot, and your mom and I know how hard you worked. So even though you don’t like Math that much, we were really proud of you when you got a B. Because you tried your best,” I explained, firmly holding her gaze, “You ran in Gym class everyday this past school year, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Have you been trying your best at camp this week?”

“Yes.”

I gave her a smirk and quick squeeze on her knee. “Then that’s all we expect you to do, sweetheart.”

She answered with a soft sigh, “But everyone else is faster than me.”

“Sometimes being strong doesn’t mean being the best at something. It means you still do it anyway even when you don’t think you’re the best. That way, the next time you have to do it, it won’t be so scary.”

At least that speech earned me a small smirk before she narrowed her eyes.

“That means I’m going, doesn’t it?”

“Yup. But maybe we can do something fun when you guys get home tonight to make up for it.”

“Okay.”

One crisis averted.

After kicking Cassidy into overdrive to get ready, diving into the Porsche, and telling the girls to tell me if they saw a cop while I was speeding (clearly winning the role-model award here), I managed to get them to camp on time.

After they clambered out of the car and waved goodbye, I shot off a text to Miranda:

Cassidy didn’t want to go to camp because she can’t run the mile as fast as everyone else. What a perfectionist. Sound like anyone you know?

I tossed the phone in my purse with a smirk before driving back home. After successfully starting the girls on their day, the next phase of mine typically included walking the dog.

I usually ran errands on my journey with Patricia. Since I moved in to the Priestly household, we no longer needed a cook, nanny, or fulltime housekeeper. I enjoyed experimenting with new recipes (Thank God for Pinterest) and arranging any small upgrades we wanted done to the house. In short, I made everything a lot more normal and boring; we didn’t need all the extravagant extras of strangers waiting on us in our own home.

But Miranda liked it. It made things more stable for the girls. They weren’t juggled between different people before their mom got home from work. And I loved being with them.

As I walked down the sidewalk with the St. Bernard happily panting beside me, it was easy to be thankful for how I could actually be aware of my surroundings and enjoy the walk itself. So many people plowed by. New York, the city that never sleeps. Everyone was busy, clearly running late from whatever job or affair preceded the next item on their agenda. I remembered the feeling when I was dashing between interviews for the paper.

My time with the New York Mirror had been fine. Just fine. People often say finally getting everything you ever wanted turns out to be disappointing. Maybe I wasn’t living the feminist dream and trailblazing my own career, but it turned out I was really good at being a well-kept woman and a mom. Keeping my girlfriend’s house and helping to raise the girls gave me the thrill I thought being a journalist would, and inevitably didn’t, give me.

Like clockwork, the second we turned into the park, the canine started tugging harder on her leash, infinitely more happy with the greenery. Other dogs trotted by.

I navigated towards our usual bench, giving myself and the furry beast a rest.

A sniff. A quick turn when a yappy poodle challengingly walked by. More contented panting. She then proceeded to lie down, beginning to twist and roll on a patch of grass.

I sighed, “Really, Patricia?”

She paused, belly-up, cocking her head at me. A second passed before she started biting at the blades of grass.

I rolled my eyes, grabbing my phone while I enjoyed the break in our walk.

At the click of a button, a reply from Miranda flashed across my screen:

I haven’t the faintest idea whom you could mean.

Another had followed seconds later:

Our children would dislike physical education.

I smiled at the ‘our.’ I still did. Our children. Our home. Our bed. I eagerly typed back:

Your dog isn’t a fan either.

I snapped a picture of the canine lying prostrate on the ground. What a dork.

The summer heat was intense and unforgiving. Normally I’d make our outings more of the jogging variety, but that wasn’t happening mid-summer in the land of hot pavements and busy sidewalks. Once I felt I had baked long enough in the sun for Patricia to enjoy her outdoor musings, we were off.

Almost as soon as we exited the park, I noticed a mass of people accumulating across the street at what appeared to be a storefront. Groups of moving people were normal; people standing still could mean a national emergency. Everyone stood before a window display, and I instinctively tugged on Patricia’s leash so I could investigate.

A large television was channeling a news outlet that showed a montage of Capital Hill, the streets flooded with people and multi-colored flags.

SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF GAY MARRIAGE

SCOTUS VOTES YES TO LOVE

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LEGAL IN ALL STATES

I immediately dove for my phone and quickly brought up the news. Article after article confirmed what the television showed.

I felt my mouth drop. Relief flooded my veins. My country had just validated my love life I had been subtly and not-so-subtly told for years was inherently “different.”

Miranda and I could get married.

With a sobering breath, I nudged Patricia away from the group of people and continued home.

It had already been legal in New York for a few years. Plus, the other court decision a while back had helped things along on a federal level. I could have married Miranda, technically. But the technicalities that had still stood in the way were gone now in one swift stroke. Gay marriage was legal everywhere. Now there would be parades and marriage licenses and rainbows abound. God bless America.

Miranda and I could get officially married…But beyond the legal nuances, that was a whole different discussion.

By the time we reached the door to the townhouse, the thought had me so frazzled, I dropped my keys on the ground. I blew my bangs out of my face in minor frustration. The dog whined at me.

“We’ve talked about it. Sort of.”

Miranda told me she loved me and that we’d be together until death. That was basically a marriage vow, right?

Patricia sat on the stoop, glancing at me with her big eyes.

“Come on, don’t look at me like that. I really am happy. I love you and the girls. I love your mom.”

She barked as I tried again to open the door.

“Whatever. I like staying home in my sweatpants while she goes to all those fancy galas.”

So what if it wasn’t public knowledge I was Miranda Priestly’s girlfriend? Miranda was private about her personal life, and she always made me feel special in that privacy. My family and close friends knew. Her very select circle of friends knew.

I made myself some lunch and tried to clear my mind while I cleaned the house and paid some bills.

For the past month or so, later in the afternoon, I attended yoga classes at the nearby gym. I had originally told Miranda I was interested, but the membership was too expensive (as was anything in our neighborhood). Her natural response was to buy the membership to three different gyms, instructing me to try them all to see which I liked best.

I told myself the second I walked in through the gym doors today I was going to clear my mind of this sudden preoccupation with marriage and concentrate all that good energy they always talked about in yoga classes on my inner being, or something.

That proved much more difficult than expected.

There were small murmurs throughout the session, and I caught snippets of conversation even while I tried to focus on the instructor.

“It's about time.”

“It’s not going to bother my marriage any.”

“I don't know, it doesn't seem right that suddenly we have to redefine what ‘marriage’ means.”

“Separation of church and state.”

Ah, the riveting conversations of the Squeakers.

I called them the Squeakers because of the sound their sneakers made in the gym. Similar to the Clackers that patrolled Runway’s halls, being Miranda’s girlfriend brought forth this new type of woman to my daily life. The overly caffeinated housewives that wore couture track suits while discussing the latest juicing trends. They wandered the Upper East Side while nannies took their children to private schools, likely filling their water bottles with vodka rather than water.

I snorted as I flung my gym bag over my shoulder once the session was over. I guess I was sort of one of them now; after all, here I was among them.

Well, not a housewife. House-lover. House-girlfriend. Whatever. The other moms at Dalton always looked at me like I was the nanny anyway.

A hand reached out to touch my shoulder, snapping me out of my thoughts and blocking my exit out the room.

“It’s Andy, right? You should come get coffee with us.”

Squeaker 1 and Squeaker 2 genuinely did seem nice enough. On another day, I might have accepted the offer.

“I wish I could, but I need to go pick up my girls from their summer camp,” I declined with a smile, adjusting my bag. One of the woman’s eyes went wide. What was her name? Trisha?

“You have kids?”

“My step-daughters.” I had learned after many conversations that this was the easiest answer even if I wasn’t officially married. Calling Caroline and Cassidy my ‘girlfriend’s children’ always lead to a lot more questions.

I could feel a slight pause from Squeaker #2 as she digested the information. She was likely debating asking about what she imagined to be my much older husband.

Luckily, Squeaker 1 took it in stride with a grin. “How old?”

“Twelve, almost thirteen. They’re twins.”

“I bet that’s a handful,” replied Stacy. Stephanie? Stella?

“I had to force them to go to camp today because they’re running a mile.”

She laughed and countered, “My son tried to fake the flu on me this past winter. When I told him he didn’t have a fever, he said it was probably a brand new form of the flu, and I should take him to the doctor to be sure.”

“Gotta give the kid credit for a great imagination,” I laughed, deciding this woman had the potential to actually be nice, “Thanks for the invite. I’d really love to next time.”

Step-daughters. Our children. Marriage.

Maybe Miranda didn’t want to get married again. Not officially, anyway. The first two hadn’t exactly been ideal.

Picking up the girls and spending the rest of the afternoon with them provided a much needed distraction for the rest of the day. By the time I had started dinner, my mood was much lighter, and I contentedly watched a battle of wits unfolding.

“Got any twos?”

“Go fish.”

“Queens?”

“Dang it.”

I smirked from my position by the counter at the war of cards that raged on our kitchen table.

The sound of the door opening in the foyer only made my smile grow, though it did little to stop Cassidy from drawing another card. When Miranda entered the kitchen, she glanced my way on the other side of the kitchen with a small grin before the girls greeted her.

“Hey, Mom.”

“Darling,” she bent over to retrieve a kiss on the cheek from Caroline.

Cassidy looked up from her cards just long enough to smile. “Hi.”

“Hello.”

As Miranda moved closer to deposit her bag on the counter, I asked, “Did you hear the big news today?”

“Frequently, as a matter of fact,” she murmured across the counter, her eyes sparklingly, “Shockingly, much of the gay and fashion communities overlap.”

I grinned at the sarcasm coating her voice.

She proceeded to turn around and address her daughter, “Bobbsie, Andrea said you didn’t want to run the mile today. How was your day?”

Her reply was a shrug. “I tried my best.”

“Yeah, and her best turned out to be a passing time. Someone’s getting a certificate this week. Caroline too,” I beamed proudly, grabbing up a wooden spoon to stir the contents of the pot on the stove.

Pride radiated off their mother. “Wonderful job, girls.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“So should I take the ice cream I bought to celebrate back to the store?” I casually asked, sharing a look with Miranda.

“No way!”

I rubbed my chin dramatically in mock-thought. “I don’t know, it’s not that big of a deal, right?”

“Andy!”

“Fine, fine, I guess we can still have some. After dinner,” I added, pointing the spoon at them for emphasis.

Cassidy got up from her chair and walked around the counter to examine my work. “What’s for dinner?”

“Salmon. Mashed potatoes,” I paused, glancing at the girls, “Green beans.”

Caroline made a face, but ultimately both girls made the strategic decision not to complain. Not when the promise of dessert was practically guaranteed.

“Go wash up. It’ll be ready in a minute.”

As the girls dashed out the room and up the stairs, I set the spoon on the counter and turned down the heat on the stove.

“Quite the feast.”

“Salmon is your favorite.”

Her voice deepened as she asked, “Whatever have I done to deserve such a treat?”

“If you’re trying to think of payment options, I have a few suggestions,” I purred at her, looking up from my work at the stove.

A smirk emerged, and with two clicks of her heels on the floor to walk around the counter, my editor was leaning down to kiss me.

She leaned her forehead against mine and murmured, “I did not think I would see it happen my lifetime.”

“What?” My hands rested on her hips.

“The court decision.”

I pulled back and smiled softly. Miranda must have felt what I felt earlier. “It’s exciting.”

“I love you.”

God, sometimes the way she looked at me was so intense. Gone were the days of sexual tension in the office and the dramatic flair of phones being tossed into fountains. Our love was now dance recitals and hogging the blankets. But she never let me forget what it felt like to burn for her. I was so happy.

I kissed her again, only briefly parting her lips with my own, fully aware of the echoes of scampering feet still fresh from the assentation up the stairs a minute before.

“Love you too. Go get changed. Dinner’s almost ready,” I pulled away after another peck, grabbing the wooden spoon up again to get everything ready. She stared at me another moment before turning to walk away.

I couldn’t resist. I flicked my wrist, hitting her backside with the large utensil.

When she stopped in her path and turned around, I had returned to innocently tending to the potatoes.

“Kitchen utensils for foreplay. How domestic.”

“That’s us, babe.”

Yeah, I was happy. Really happy.

 


 

SATURDAY 6/27

 

I walked into the living room to find the aftermath of a board game and controllers for various video games strew across the floor. The same mess the girls were instructed to clean up hours ago.

“Seriously? Caroline, Cassidy, get down here!” I called, knowing they could hear me upstairs.

Miranda’s gaze flicked towards me from her position on the couch.

Seconds ticked by, quick footsteps thundered down the stairs, and the girls appeared, looking to me for whatever I had commanded them for.

I gestured towards the chaos of the room.

A look of realization followed by one of mild annoyance passed each of their faces. At least they each mumbled “sorry” as they walked by, carrying their new burdens towards the stairs.

“Thank you. When you come back down, we can pick out a movie.” This earned me a small smile, and their paces quickened to complete their task.

The room was silent once again, and I walked to the couch.

I turned to the woman trying to hide her face behind her book and asked, “What are you smiling about?”

“Nothing, I assure you.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Sitting on the couch, I grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. The woman next to me closed her book, deposited it on the coffee table, and placed her hand on my leg. I relaxed against her, flicking through the movies available for rent.

The girls returned, Cassidy grabbing the end of the couch and Caroline draping herself across the chaise lounge.

“Alright, what are we in the mood for?” I asked as I scrolled.

Caroline immediately jumped on one of the new releases. “That one looks good.”

“Your mom isn’t into superhero movies,” I glanced to the woman next to me. She gave a single nod.

“We can watch it.”

“What movies does she like?” Cassidy asked, looking at me.

“Period pieces. History and fancy clothes.”

A thumb started stroking where it rested on my knee. “Exactly.”

“That’s creepy.”

Caroline countered, “What’s Andy’s favorite movie, Mom?”

“Last I checked, it was one of the original Star Trek films. Something about someone dying and nuclear radiation. Not to be confused with the one involving the kidnapping of a whale,” she drawled slowly, making me burst into giggles.

“That was so horrible, remember when I made you watch it?” I looked up at her just in time to catch her rolling her eyes.

“I try to not to. The uniforms were perhaps the most deplorable aspect of that whole franchise.”

Cassidy’s voice broke through my laughter and asked, “What’s Star Trek?”

I immediately clicked over to the search menu on the TV.

“Ok, that settles it, I know what we’re watching.”

 


 

SUNDAY 6/28

 

Shit, how did you spell that word? Spell check? There we go. Platitudinous.

I felt calm as I typed away. It was good to be writing again. Fiction had been a newfound pleasure after I discovered the bland observations of news articles were not as cool as they had been in college. I had managed to get a short story published in a literary magazine, but my writing had been put on the back burner when the summer started. The girls were home more. Lots more distractions.

Shoot. That reminded me we still needed to get the girls registered for the next school year. I wanted to ask Miranda if she wanted to go up to Dalton together. Thank goodness we couldn’t have to start shopping around for private high schools until next year.

I managed to type a few more sentences before I heard the woman walking into the living room where I was perched on the couch.

Without looking up, I asked, “Hey, I meant to ask earlier, did you—”

I trailed off at the touch of lips against my neck. Very eager lips.

I slowly closed my laptop shut with a sigh, my eyes also closing shut. I let the device slide off my lap to the cushion next to me.

Hot breath, brushing skin, oh God, the little bites…

When Miranda removed her mouth, I pouted. The signature scent of her hair-care products was gone, and I opened my eyes just in time to see her walking around the furniture, her eyes blazing down my body.

I immediately lied down on the couch, happily accepting her body on top of mine as she crashed against me.

Our mouths moved hungrily, and our hands were just as greedy. She was lifting my shirt, and I was clawing at her robe in a matter of seconds. Her hips started moving against mine that had me hissing at how delicious the friction felt.

It had been awhile, and we both felt it.

I grunted as something hard dug into my back. I pushed Miranda off long enough to remove my computer from underneath me onto the floor. She immediately descended upon me again, returning to her work on my neck that had begun this whole venture.

We kept gripping each other tighter, needing more. Kiss after kiss grew more desperate. Her hips were moving faster now. I finally managed to pull the knot, parting her robe, her body welcoming me like home. I eagerly slid my hand down between our bodies, my fingertips tracing against her, gliding lower and lower to reach my prize.

She grabbed my wrist, yanking my arm above my head, and securely pinning it there. We locked eyes, and I gave a half-hearted attempt to struggle from her grip while she issued a challenging, lusty stare. I didn’t move my other hand, as I knew it would have the same fate as its partner if I did. She hovered above me with that smoldering look that had me purring. Her devilish smile had me burning.

She leaned down, and our bodies melted together again. With a growl in my ear, and her hand sliding down my torso, I was soon gasping her name in our living room.

I made her scream mine a few moments later.

We collapsed against each other, still tangled on the couch. I had missed the delicious exhaustion that came when things were a little quick and aggressive.

I leaned on her chest, and she lightly kissed my forehead.

“What was it you wanted to ask me?”

I rolled my eyes. Now she wanted to know.

I adjusted my head to her shoulder so I could look at her face. “Did you want to come with me to register the girls? You usually like to be there for the school stuff.”

She gently shook her head. “I trust you,” she replied softly, a small grin appearing on her face.

“There’s my smile,” I said, kissing the corner of her mouth, “You seemed stressed this morning.”

Smoothing my hair from my face, she replied, “Tomorrow will be rather tedious at work.”

“What’s wrong?”

She shrugged slightly, appearing to brush off my concern, but she paused, seeming to reconsider. Her eyes then turned devious. “What’s wrong is that we only have another hour before we need to retrieve the girls from their play date.”

I playfully swatted away her hand that had started roving around my backside.

“They don’t have play dates anymore. They go and ‘hang out.’ And you are not making us late.”

Miranda snorted, running a hand through her hair.

“Need I remind you who made us late to Donatella’s dinner-party?”

“You.”

Her cocked eyebrow suggested she felt otherwise.

“It’s not my fault your ass looked amazing in that dress.”

The grin returned to her beautiful face. Sometimes it really struck me dumb. Without makeup, with ruffled hair, with the wrinkles showing around her eyes, with an uncensored smile. She was mine, and she was remarkable.

Suddenly it was me assertively climbing on top of her, unable to stop the need to have her again.

We ended up being only ten minutes late.

 


 

MONDAY 6/29

 

I was able to rouse the girls out of bed without too much trouble. Well, Caroline managed to sleep in an extra fifteen minutes, almost making us late, but it could’ve certainly been worse. I decided today was going to be a good day. Miranda had also decided to stay in bed a few extra minutes this morning. Definitely a good start.

The weather had also managed to be somewhat less blistering than usual, contributing to my mood. I was able to observe Patricia’s antics and the surroundings of the park without sweating.

“We have got to teach you some manners. I mean, you’re a Priestly. You should be strutting across the grass, not rolling in it,” I stated, shaking my head.

The dog paused in her tossing about the grass to gaze at me.

“I’m an expert. It was my job once, I’ll have you know.”

I don’t know if Patricia ever really understood what I was saying, but she proceeded to get up, trot over, and place her head on my lap. The girl loved her head scratches.

After concluding our walk and returning the canine home, I set out again to pick up one or two things from the store before yoga.

I passed about three Starbucks before finally submitting to the temptation. New York was not for the weak-willed where there was a coffee shop literally on every corner.

The line wasn’t too bad considering it was about lunchtime. Normally the employees would barely look at you when it was busy, but the lady helping me seemed eager.

I ordered my drink but made the mistake of looking at the glass display case.

“Oh, and a blueberry scone, please.” What was the point of walking everyday with the dog if I wasn’t going to treat myself?

“Name?”

“Andy.”

The barista seemed to pause before tattooing my name across the white cup. Her eyes shifted towards me, looking me over as she gave me my total.

Wow, Sachs, talk about paranoid. I shook it off as I pulled out my card and handed it to her.

She was about to swipe it before she glanced at the plastic emblazoned with my name, and her eyes immediately widened.

“Oh my god, you’re actually her. You’re Andrea.”

I hesitated before asking, “Do I know you?” I was pretty sure I had never met this woman in my life.

“You are her, aren’t you? You’re dating Miranda Priestly?”

My heart practically leapt out of my chest.

“H-how did you know that?”

The woman’s eyes lit up, and she immediately whipped around to another barista a few feet away. “Becca, Becca! It’s Miranda Priestly’s girlfriend.”

Suddenly multiple sets of eyes were on me. Other customers were starting to look.

An employee I could only guess was Becca walked over with her mouth hanging open. “Holy crap, you’re like real. You’re really real.”

“Yeah, hi, I’m going to need one of you to start making some sense here. How do you know who I am?”

The girl eagerly handed me my bagged scone and card. “It was in the July edition of Runway. It’s out today,” she explained cheerily before gushing, “We’re big fans of Miranda’s magazine.”

Runway?

“Thanks. And thanks for the scone,” I muttered mechanically, turning to leave. I needed to get away. I needed air. I needed out.

“You forgot your coffee, Andrea!”

As soon as I was out the door, I immediately bolted up the street, escaping anyone that had just witnessed the interaction. I sped along, purposely turning the corner where I knew a newsstand waited.

I approached the outdoor vendor and scoured the shelves for a particular fashion magazine, but I didn’t have to look too hard.

It was me. My picture. On the cover of Runway. Which lined over half the shelves of this particular newsstand.

I hesitantly reached out towards the publication, afraid it would dissolve if I touched it. It couldn’t possibly be real, right?

Sure enough, it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. I picked it up, and brought it closer to my face for further inspection. My fingers instinctively dipped under the cover, ready to turn the page.

The man guarding his booth had other ideas. “Hey, this ain’t a library, lady. Pay up.” He clearly didn’t notice or care if I was on the cover or not. I settled my debt without a word and remained next to the stand as I again stared at the cover.

The picture was a candid shot of a trip we had taken to the shore. It had been cloudy and windy, but Caroline and Cassidy had begged us to still go to the beach. Cassidy was enamored with taking pictures, constantly clicking away as we walked through the damp mist. I was laughing at something Miranda had said. What was it?

Perhaps I should make sturdy ponchos come back in style this summer?

There I was. My face from a family photo blown up and put on the cover a global fashion magazine.

I opened to the first page, excited, nervous, and somewhat terrified.

I eagerly skipped the Table of Contents, quickly flipping the pages. Summer beachwear was displayed on honeymoon couples of all sexualities. Cute. A two-page spread of a wedding, showing off not only the gowns but the summery dresses one could wear while attending. Adorable. One advertiser created a cheesy rainbow spectrum of eye shadow, which I knew would have driven Miranda crazy, but she had limited choices what their advertisers put in the pages they purchased. The other pages and articles seems typical in terms of the publication’s usual material.

Yes, ok, it was a slightly gay issue of Runway, but where was the part the suddenly meant everyone knew who I was?

I found it on the page reserved for the Letter from the Editor. I was again greeted with my own image.

This time the image wasn’t zoomed in on my face but also included the smirking Miranda that inspired my smile with Caroline holding my hand. This picture was accompanied by one of us on the couch at my parents’ house. It was from Christmas. My mom had snapped the picture, saying how cute we looked—Cassidy was lying down, her head on Miranda’s lap, fast asleep. Miranda’s arm was around my shoulders, and she had turned to whisper something in my ear.

It was the first time Miranda had met my family, a feat that had surprisingly gone very well. The look on my face reflected the happiness I had felt. I was so odd to see my family from the perspective of an outsider. I looked youthful and so cheerful. I don’t think the media had ever seen a picture of Miranda so warm and smiling.

Lastly, a small picture completed the collage in the corner. Patricia had tackled me on the floor, and I was crying with laughter.

The brief writing printed on the page was made to look like it was handwritten, and I knew it to be Miranda’s.

This issue is dedicated to my Andrea. My paramour, my dearest friend, my co-parent, my life, my love.

God, I loved her so much.

And now everyone knew how in love we were.

Shit. Aw. But also shit.

Figures. The moment I started thinking to myself, huh, it would be nice if Miranda maybe wanted to get married sometime in the future would also turn out to be the day Miranda publicly came out and announced the status of our relationship. So dramatic.

Alright, it was romantic. But would a little warning have hurt?

I rolled up the magazine and flung it into my purse. I then proceeded to rip open my Starbucks bag and free a huge chunk of scone before tossing the morsel in my mouth. I tried to calm myself as I chewed.

Runway was her life. And she had now permanently declared her love for me in the Runway archive forever. It was symbolic.

I was going to prove to her and myself that I could handle being in the public eye. I now had what I wanted. I devoured the remaining piece of scone, balling up the paper bag. I marched to the gym, fiercely determined to proceed with my day as if nothing had changed.

However, by the time I was on my knees on the yoga mat, my newfound energy was starting to slip.

The instructor practically sang, “And now we’ll do some Cat and Cow.”

Gotta love yoga. Peace, Calm, and—

“Do you think that’s her?”

Fucking Serenity. Couldn’t they at least be better at whispering?

“Did you read it? That’s totally her.”

The murmurs, the mutterings, and the pointing by the sea of Squeakers that surrounded me were anything but subtle. It really put a damper on my futile attempts at relaxing.

Once the session was over, I remained sitting on the map, totally exhausted. An entire practice dedicated to quieting my mind had been incredibly unsuccessful. I knew I was going to have to call my parents and Lily later. Did the girls even know? Was Miranda going to suffer at work for this? What if she regretted the media storm that was now brewing?

“Tough day?”

I looked up to see Squeaker 1 and 2 standing over me.

“You have no idea.”

The taller one shot me a sympathetic smile. “Still up for that coffee?”

It occurred to me I never actually got my coffee earlier. I did have an extra hour before I got the girls; Monday was the day the received their certificates from the previous week. 

And so, for the second time that day, I was walking away from a Starbuck’s counter, this time not nearly as panicked and accompanied by two women whose company I was shockingly finding tolerable. I even managed to confirm their names were in fact Stella and Trisha. I decidedly liked Stella’s friendly, easy-going manner better, but even Trisha was endearing in her own obliviousness.

Stella took a sip of her drink and sighed, “I keep thinking I should order it with the soy milk, but it never tastes the same.”

As we sat down at a table, I responded, “It’s better for you.”

“But it doesn’t taste as good.”

Trisha nodded. “Exactly.”

“There’s already a few pumps of chocolate in there, might as well own it,” I shrugged, enjoying my own sugary drink. I needed it after today.

“Amen. My husband is trying to lose weight, so we had to get rid of all the chocolate in the house,” Stella’s eyes narrowed, “I bet he’s hiding some at work though.”

“Where does he work?”

“PricewaterhouseCoopers.”

Right. Rich housewives. I was still adjusting to that.

“I guess you’ll know if he actually loses the weight or not.”

“Please, it’s the scotch, not the chocolate.”

Trisha shook her head. “Roger’s the same way. Has a drink almost every night.”

“I would be too based on some of the cases he works.”

Fancy lawyer. Got it.

“He isn’t very fun anymore. Grumpy all the time. He definitely wouldn’t put my face on the cover of a magazine if he could, that’s for sure.”

And there it is.

Stella snapped at her friend, “Trisha!”

“What? Are we just going to ignore it?”

“It’s ok. It was a surprise,” I stated calmly, almost feeling relief that someone else had brought it up. It was better than waiting for the ball to drop the entire conversation.

Both their eyes widened ever so slightly at my words.

“She didn’t tell you.”

I shrugged. “She’s a romantic.”

“You wouldn’t expect it from what you hear about her.”

“She is the most loving, gentlest person I have ever met in my entire life,” I declared, leaning back in my chair, “She needs to hide it to be good at her job.”

It still scared me a little bit to see Miranda when she was working. She was fierce, determined, and so regal. Scathing but demanding of respect.

It was also really sexy.

My mom has once asked me when we first started dating how I was able to deal with it. I told her it was easy; Miranda took off her mask when she got home. She was still the same hardworking woman, and I loved that about her, but my purpose was not one of assisting her business. I was there for her, the little bits and pieces she had hid for so long.

“How did you two meet?”

“Oh, gosh. Um, I was actually her assistant,” I admitted with a nervous laugh, and Trisha’s mouth dropped. Stella’s eyes practically bulged.

“She was tough, like all the rumors. Nothing ever happened romantically between us. She was my boss, she was married then. But there was something. I can’t describe it. The closer I got to her, the farther I felt, and I hated it. Anyway, I quit, started my then dream job as a journalist, and we ended up meeting again. Fell in love. Happily ever after.”

“Sounds like a movie.”

“Miranda is a star.”

“That’s so sweet. We all thought it might be a money thing since you’re so much younger, but that it sounds like you’re really in love.”

“Trisha!”

“What? That’s what my first marriage was.”

How could I not help but laugh? In an odd way, between watching the two women bicker and sharing stories about each of our successful lovers, my day began feel a bit more normal.

Later, when I was waiting in the parking lot to pick-up the girls, a text-alert chimed on my phone, and I immediately knew it was Miranda.

Will be a bit late. Busy day. Love you.

Oh golly, I wonder why it was so busy? I rolled my eyes but still responded that I loved her too. Everyone and their mom probably called Runway today. Miranda and I would talk when she got home.

The girls trotted up to the car, eagerly climbing in and showing me their prizes for the week. They really did kick ass; we were running out of room to store all their stuff from school, dance, sports, and now camp. Once they were settled in the backseat, I turned around to face them.

“Actually, there’s something I wanted to show you.”

I wanted to give them a heads up incase anyone asked. After digging through my bag, I presented them with the latest edition of Runway.

The girls looked excitedly at each other and then met my gaze with uninhibited excitement.

“Mom told us she was gonna do it. Were you surprised?”

“Wait, you guys knew?”

“Yeah, she wanted to surprise you. She asked if we thought you’d like it,” Cassidy explained, still intently trying to gauge my reaction.

Cassidy nodded and added, “Normally you love all that gushy romantic stuff.”

“It was a really sweet of your mom,” I murmured softly, looking back down at the publication in my hands.

“Now we don’t have to give people weird answers when they ask who you are.”

It was funny how easily they put things in perspective with a comment like that. We were an undeniable family now. We could be proud of the truth, like we always were.

“I love you, girls.”

“You too.”

“Love you, Andy.”

“Look, you were in here too.” I flipped to the middle and offered them the magazine.

“Yeah, I picked out that picture,” Caroline boasted confidently, “Mom wanted to use the one from Thanksgiving, but you were wearing that frumpy sweater.”

“Hey, that sweater was super comfortable,” I retorted, turning around and starting our drive home.

We hung out, and the girls even helped me with dinner. Since their mom was going to be home late, we watched that superhero movie they had wanted to see the other night. After sending them to bed, I called my night owl of a mother to check-in. Yes, that was really me on the cover. Yes, it had been a surprise. No, this did not compromise our vacation plans to visit at the end of the summer. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet night. In fact, I was already in bed flipping through Buzzfeed articles when I finally heard the front door. Moments later, after a series of steps up the stairs, the door to the bedroom opened.

My poor girl looked tired. Not that Miranda ever looked tired. Just a little less shiny.

Placing my phone on the nightstand, I casually asked, “How was your day?”

She sighed, tossing her purse on one of the dressers, “Atrociously busy. Yours?”

She purposely didn’t look at me as she walked to the mirror to remove her jewelry. Either she didn’t want to mention the cover because she didn’t know I had seen it, or she knew me seeing it might mean an impending discussion.

She wasn’t getting away that easily.

“Depends on who you ask,” I stated nonchalantly before my voice took a sarcastic dip, “TMZ thinks I had a bad day, but Access Hollywood had a few shots of me smiling.”

Her hands paused in the process of removing an earring, and she slowly turned around to look at me.

Busted.

“I think it was pretty good,” I continued, broaching my more serious concern, “You came out of the closet today to millions of people. I’m more worried about you.”

A small smirk teased Miranda’s face. “I attempt to surprise you, and you’re worried about me,” she sighed, walking towards the bed, “I have never cared much for people’s opinions.”

The dim lighting of the lamp cast a warm glow on her white hair and fair skin as she sat down on the bed, and her hands immediately rested on my legs. My own instinctively reached out to her.

“I was simply tired of feeling as though I were hiding you. Which is certainly not the case.”

Miranda was not shy. She was the embodiment of boldness and confidence. But she uttered the confession so softly, so delicately, that I couldn’t help but immediately know its profound genuineness.

I leaned in and gently kissed her. My love had done a brave thing for us today.

After an easy silence, I commented, “I’m surprised Elias-Clark let you do it.”

She snorted. No one “let” her do anything, she just did it.

“The Board decided Runway would declare support for marriage equality approximately a month ago, should the court decision go through, as most companies seem to be doing now,” she explained, rubbing my leg, “When I informed them I wished to make it personal, they thought it would boost our sales and inevitably agreed. Though I likely would have done it anyway even without their endorsement,” she paused, eyeing me carefully, “Was your first reaction really over whether this decision would cost me my job?”

“No. Not really. Only a little. It was just a surprise. But one I am happy for.”

“Perhaps you would have preferred I asked you first.”

I leaned in again and brushed her nose with mine. “I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t love your flair for the dramatic.”

“That reminds me. We shall need to find you a gown for the charity function later this week,” she informed with a regal toss of her head.

“My first official outing, how exciting. Remember that you asked for this when I’m tripping and spilling wine on someone’s Louboutins.”

“I would not be with you if I did not love your rather unique quirks,” she countered playfully. My smile was instantaneous.

Her fingers danced across the skin of my hand. I watched her expression grow serious as we silently sat on the bed.

“Did you like it?”

Her hair swept across her forehead, almost daring to dip in front of her now hazy eyes. Still dressed her blazer from work, her figure looked very sharp and imperial. Her tilted chin made her look thoughtful. Confident. Miranda always looked so calm, collected, and in control. Equal parts seductive and powerful.

But again her voice had been soft. Her fingers had stopped moving.

“It was perfect,” I murmured tenderly, my hand moving to cup her face, “I loved how the girls were even included in it.   I love you. I love our family. It’s nice to know you’re proud of me, proud of us.”

Her hand delicately wrapped around my wrist as a stroked her face.

“I will never forgive myself for having even allowed the smallest room for you to doubt that.”

I chuckled, leaning in again to kiss her. “Calm down, drama queen.”

 


 

TUESDAY 6/30

 

“Has anyone seen my flip flops?” The shout echoed down from the second level of the house.

I shouted back without looking up from my laptop, “You left them in the foyer.”

After a few pounding steps descending the stairs, I heard a grunted ‘thanks’ before Cassidy stomped back upstairs.

A minute later, I heard panting as Patricia trotted into the room, sniffing around.

I sighed. I reached under the couch, groping at air and carpet, until my hand finally enclosed around a rubber toy.

“Here, girl.”

The dog eagerly took the fake bone, and her exit was marked a series of squeaking noises that faded into the distance.

I only managed to type another sentence when I heard footsteps enter the room from the hallway.

“Darling, do you recall where I placed my glasses?”

Seriously? Was I the only one in this house that knew where anything was?

“They were—” I looked up and immediately burst into laughter.

Miranda’s bewildered look at my response only increased my gasping merriment. Tears were already threatening as I dropped my laptop and pushed myself off the couch.

I sniffed, stifling my giggles, as I walked up to my girlfriend and pulled the glasses off from their resting position atop her head.

“They let you run a magazine?” I questioned, teasingly twirling the spectacles in my hand.

Her lip twitched, and she deadpanned, “Indeed. I am so talented, I can do it blind.”

As I collapsed into another laughing fit, she reclaimed her glasses, placed them on her nose, and sashayed her hot ass out of the living room.

 


 

 

WEDNESDAY 7/1

 

“Isn’t this kind of wrong?”

“The fit isn’t that atrocious.”

“No, like, me wearing Runway’s stuff even though I don’t work here anymore.”

“Nice when your girlfriend is the boss, hm?”

I took a long look at the skin-tight red gown in the mirror. Even without my experience with the magazine, I knew it was expensive. It oozed money.

“Still.”

Nigel sighed, “External parties borrow our wardrobe all the time. It’s free advertising. No one is going to miss one dress,” he paused, accessing me as I gazed at my reflection, “Scary how quickly it seduces you, doesn’t it?”

It was. Almost like a drug. Before I worked for Runway, it was a side of life I had never known. I had suddenly found myself binging upon it, secretly addicted to it, only to quit it as quickly as I had fallen for it. I looked myself in the eye. I looked like a past Andrea.

Before I found my courage and won my girl.

I glanced back at him through his image in the glass. “Maybe once upon a time. But I know who I am now.”

His familiar, friendly smile appeared. “You can tell.”

“Really?”

“Fashion. It’s all in the way your carry yourself. Even the most beautiful clothes can’t give you that,” he affirmed with a firm nod before gesturing with his finger, “Turn around.”

I moved to face him fully, taking a step or two in the dress. I looked him in the eye as I placed my hands on my hips, striking a pose.

A beat passed.

“The blue one?” he asked.

I sighed. “The blue one.”

We finally found a dress and proceeded to wander around the Closet for the right accessories. Once we finished up, he had to dash to a meeting, and I decided to follow up on Miranda’s invitation she issued this morning that I stop by her office before I headed home.

This was my first time back in the building since I quit my job at Runway. Needless to say, it was super weird. Nothing had really changed except the clothes, as clothes tend to do in this business. Everyone was still running about in heels, desperately trying to complete the day’s tasks. Well, one other thing had changed. I had once stuck out like a sore thumb, and these worker bees shot me disapproving looks. Eventually I blended in with them, swarming alongside them. Now they looked at me with wide eyes as I walked down the hall.

What was it exactly? Surprise? Curiosity?

As I rounded the corner down the hall, a woman quickly bowed out of my way, mumbling an apology, the same way I had seen people dive-bomb out of Miranda’s path a thousand times. I tried to smile as sweetly as possible to a duo gawking in a doorway, but it only assisted to further increase their nervous, hushed conversation.

They probably thought I was either crazy or demonic if I had managed to woo their boss. The joke was on them. Little did they know that I had single-handedly saved each of their jobs last Halloween after the catastrophic explosion following last year’s October issue. It took a lot of sex for Miranda to forget about the immense failure of the vampire-themed photo-shoot, and even now she could not look at candy corn without scowling. Don’t get me started on pumpkin debacle.

I walked up to an assistant glued to the computer that was notably not-Emily (per Nigel, she was now enjoying her new promotion in the Arts department), and gently asked, “Hey, is she busy?”

The woman looked up, scoffing as if annoyed, only to immediately freeze upon seeing my face. After a solid beat passed, it was safe to say she wasn’t going to be able to answer my question.

“I’ll just go ahead in.”

Miranda must have heard my voice as she glanced over her glasses at me when I entered. As much as I loved her dress when she left the house this morning, they really showed off her powerful shoulders when she was sitting at her throne.

“Hey.”

“Hello. What did you and Nigel select?”

I leaned over the desk to give her a quick peck on the cheek. “It’s a secret.”

“I have my methods of finding out,” she murmured deviously, placing her pen down.

I smirked mischievously as I replied, “And I have my methods of distracting you.”

“Such as?” She was practically purring.

I slowly slide my purse off my shoulder, and placed it on her desk. I noticed her eyes travelling down the low-cut of my shirt. I had certainly done better than a t-shirt and yoga pants for my Runway return.

I stared at her long and hard. She licked her lips.

I suddenly snapped towards my purse and excitedly informed her, “I got some paint samples from the store on the way over here.”

The small stack of colored cards emerged from my purse, and I presented them with a smile. Miranda rolled her eyes, trying to hide her own smirk, and then fixed her gaze on the different hues in my hands.

“I know you were thinking something neutral, but I found some conservative pastels I though you’d like so I grabbed those too,” I explained, spreading out the paint samples on her desk.

We had just finished remodeling Miranda’s home office, and she claimed the guest bedroom was her final project for the house. For now.

Her head tilted thoughtfully as she looked them over before pondering aloud, “I might feel more inspired to choose if we had more guests.”

“All of your friends stay at fancy hotels when they’re in town.”

Her contemplation shifted to me as she suggested, “Your parents should visit more.”

Swoon. She was such a softie.

I gave her a small smile. “What color would you pick if they did?”

Her sights slowly shifted back to the collection of pigments, and her finger tapped her lip, as it often did when she was thinking. She reached out and selected three of the cards before placing them in a new order.

“Walls. Secondary. Accents. A pattern might actually do nicely here,” she declared with the tone of an editor.

Considering the winter palette of the townhouse, her selection of the green pastel with hints of color was a pleasant surprise. It was something my parents would find warm and welcoming.

I grabbed the three she had selected and tucked them back safely into my purse. “I’ll start pricing painters.”

When my hand returned to collect the others to throw away, her hand intervened to gently grasp mine.

With a little squeeze to my fingers, she murmured, “Thank you.”

 


 

THURSDAY 7/2

 

"Check."

I smirked as I then countered Caroline’s move by taking the knight she had so quickly endangered.

"Crap."

My eyes narrowed. "Don't let your mom hear you say that."

Caroline leaned back, scoffing like most girls her age, "It's not even a real bad word."

"People like your mom don't like bad words, real or not."

She changed tactics, advancing her rook across the board. "What do you mean?"

"She can lead a huge business with just a look or a certain tone of voice. I've never really heard her curse,” I explained, stalling by inching a pawn forwards.

“How do you always know so much about Mom?” She adjusted her bishop’s position. She was aiming for my queen.

“That’s what happens when you’re in love,” I replied, moving my knight to block her new formation, “Plus, it was kind of my job way before we started dating.”

She looked up at me from the chessboard. “Is it weird now that everyone knows?”

I frowned while I considered an answer. Caroline was smart and perceptive for her age. It was a good question.

“Weird isn’t the right word. It’s different. I was used to being around all the commotion when I was working at Runway. Now it follows me around, taking pictures of me when I’m at the grocery store.”

Seriously, the paparazzi today had decided to follow me down the tampon aisle.

She finally made her move and nonchalantly replied, “Just ignore it.”

My chest tightened slightly at the thought my poor girls had been dealing with this their whole lives; I was just catching up.

“I have been. I don’t know. It actually makes me really happy now that everyone knows your mom is off the market.”

“You guys are so cute, it’s gross.”

“Thanks,” I grinned before sliding a piece across the board, “Checkmate.”

Caroline proceeded to grunt the same way I had in response to frequently facing defeat against my father learning chess, and the comparison only made my smile grow.

 


 

FRIDAY 7/3

 

I couldn’t tell if my fidgeting in the back of the town car was due to nerves or the fact it had been awhile since I had worn a thong. Talk about a pain in the ass. This was the price we pay for beauty.

My girlfriend must have noticed my discomfort (nerves or otherwise) and asked, "Ready?"

"Now or never, right? You kind of already told everyone."

I had meant it off-handedly as a joke, but Miranda’s eyes quickly flickered towards my own, urgently assessing my meaning.

I grabbed her hand, firmly stating, "I want this, Miranda."

"You're quite sure?"

"I've never known you to be nervous."

I could see blue eyes even in the dim glow of the passing streetlights, highlighted by an application of eyeliner around her lids. They locked with mine.

"Informing people of your existence is the closest I will ever come to exposing my heart to the world.”

"Do you regret it?"

She looked passionate and fierce. "Never."

"Neither do I."

I did not kiss her for fear of smudging either of our painted faces, but I placed her hand on my heart. She knew what I meant.

We were in this together. We entered the rented ballroom of the hotel hand in hand.

The whole thing was such a blur, and there were too many people for me to recall every face and every conversation. I mingled. I schmoozed. But the best part was that I didn’t fear for my job. Part of me didn’t want to blatantly embarrass Miranda, but I felt confident that I could be myself. I was not Miranda’s assistant or a mysterious woman that happened to spend time with Miranda or Miranda’s ‘friend.’ I was there as Andy Sachs, Miranda’s girlfriend.

Of course, we ran into an episode or two of dealing with people’s stupidity.

“Miranda, your date is so exquisite, I might just have to steal her away from you.”

It started out as a seemingly nice compliment from an older man with a bad comb over, perhaps a touch too possessive for my taste, but I had been willing to let it slide. Miranda gave her signature socialite smile, but her gregarious laugh was gone.

Then he had to open his mouth again.

“Come on, now. I have a lot more money,” he continued nudging me as if we shared an inside joke. We definitely didn’t.

My voice lost all sense of politeness. “I’m not with Miranda for her money,”

“I have a few other assets a woman lacks,” he retorted, twitching an eyebrow to make his comment disgustingly suggestive.

Rage surged in my veins. I was going to punch him. I was absolutely going to punch him.

Before I could, Miranda’s arm protectively draped around my waist, but her face remained unchanged. With elegance and grace, she coolly asked, “Such as a predisposition to boorishness?”

His gaze shifted from me to my date. “I only tease.”

Then I saw her lips purse, and I knew she had him cornered.

Regal and polite, she questioned, “My apologies, where is your escort for the evening? I would love to meet the woman so obviously impressed with your assets.”

His face darkened as he flatly answered, “I am alone this evening.”

“Oh. Don’t worry” I soothed sweetly, “I’m sure someone else here must have smaller expectations for a man’s assets.”

It didn’t take long for the gross man to excuse himself and make a hasty retreat.

“Good riddance,” I muttered, glancing to Miranda to find her watching me.

“I find it worrisome I fall more deeply in love with you watching you insult someone so wonderfully.”

I smirked, playfully knocking her with my hip. “We tag-teamed it.”

Her mouth moved as if she intended to say something, but we were quickly ambushed by another individual.

And then another. And another. Everyone wanted to meet Miranda Priestly and her gay paramour. With each conversation, her protective stance from before loosened, and her hand now rested against the small of my back.

Everyone managed to behave themselves, especially compared to our star misogynist for the evening.

“You two make such a beautiful couple.”

“Thank you.”

“Miranda, you always have such good taste.”

The editor looked at me as she airily replied, “On the contrary, I simply possess incredible luck.”

I feigned shock and declared, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you so humble,” eliciting a round of chuckles from the other three members of the conversation.

“Well, dear, everyone knows I have exceptional taste in clothes.”

The laughter and conversation felt easy for the rest of the night. Even when we were briefly divided, I was enjoying myself.

One kind woman spoke with me while her husband petitioned Miranda for her opinion on a particular group of investors.

“We’ve been coming to these parties for years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so smitten.”

“I’m definitely the lucky one.”

“You can tell you two are very in love.”

I smiled at those that seemed genuine in their praise. The wine the servers brought was delicious, and the atmosphere slowly intoxicated me too. My love would lean in and whisper in my ear, leaving me in a giggling mess just in time for the next guest to approach us. She was so charming, seemingly more confident and suave than I’ve ever seen her before. Like she was simply being herself.

She looked at me a lot. It wasn’t weird, just different from our normal everyday. We occupied the same space. We knew everything about each other. After awhile as a couple, you start to blend together, coexist together. The fact she so frequently looked at me tonight was like a newfound self-awareness for both of us. Was this really us, together, being ourselves, in front of the world? Was she still nervous about something but managing to hide it? Was she constantly thinking about how happy she was looking at me as I was as happy looking at her?

It was wonderful.

By the time we were crawling back in the town car, my cheeks hurt from smiling.

“You know, that was actually really fun.”

Miranda eyes glimmered. “Surprised?”

I recalled all the functions and banquets I attended as her assistance.

“Last time I went to one of those things, it wasn’t exactly for pleasure,” I chuckled, placing my hand on her thigh, “Though standing behind you did provide a nice view.”

“I enjoy the present much more,” she agreed, tucking my hair behind my ear, “I am able to both look and touch.”

I gave her a quick squeeze. “Oh, I intend to touch lots tonight.”

I was hoping she would lean in and give me a preview before we got home. Instead, she turned to open the patrician that separated us from the front of the car.

“Roy, take us to Elias-Clark.”

When she again slid the barrier closed, I asked, “You know I was joking the other night when I mentioned having sex on your desk, right?”

“I am aware. I do not intend to make that a reality tonight. Indulge my need to be dramatic.”

I couldn’t really tell her no when she was being all romantic.

“I guess. We do still have an hour before the sitter expects us,” I said, peaking at my phone in my clutch, “You know, they’re almost thirteen. Maybe next time we can leave them alone for just an hour or two and see if they’re responsible about it.”

“That sounds reasonable,” she said with a smirk I knew well.

“What’s so funny?”

She grabbed my hand, her devilish smile still in place.

“So often our conversations quickly switch between sex to parenting techniques to remembering one errand or another.”

“I thought that was normal for couples with kids. Was it not like that when you were married?”

She paused, taking a moment to study me before she answered.

“I was not as emotionally or physically intimate with my past partners as I am with you,” she explained, bringing my hand to her lips.

The feeling of her kisses on my fingers brought me back to the warmth and joy of the evening.

Roy pulled up to the curb and deposited us in front of the building just next to Elias-Clark, giving us space to walk over. Close enough to keep an eye for signs of trouble on the night streets but far away enough to give us some privacy.

Our heels clicked on the cement as we walked in front of the grand publishing build where we had met what seemed like ages ago.

“Do you know when I first realized I was in love with you?” my partner asked, looking up at the sky.

“The Chanel boots?”

She smirked at my teasing before answering, “It was after you left. When you waved at me from across the street, just over there,” she explained with a wave her hand that was holding her clutch.

I thought about the encounter not remembering anything too remarkable.

“You just stared at me and then got in the car.”

“Then I proceeded to smile like a bumbling idiot.” Her own grin now in full force.

“Really?”

“By all accounts, you should have hated me. I thought I would never see you again. Then, there you were. Smirking. Waving,” she hummed, pulling me closer to her, as if we were going to dance under the streetlights.

I laughed, securing her hand in mine, “Leave it to me to pick the most inappropriate response when running into your ex-boss.”

She shook her head and corrected, “You do not shy from the unknown. You are bold and quizzical.”

“And awkward as hell.”

She snorted, rolling her eyes playfully at me. They settled on our joined hands.

Her voice grew soft. “I know the life I live is not an easy one to so readily join, but you have been so willing.”

“I love being with you, Miranda.”

This earned me a small smile. “You easily embraced being a second mother to my daughters and managing our house.”

“It’s not the life I ever imagined for myself, but it’s what makes me happy. Now, I can’t see myself anywhere else.”

“Truly?”

“Truly.”

She searched my eyes as if looking for reassurance, a confirmation of my words. I assumed she must have found it as another smile graced her face.

And then she lowered herself to the ground on to one knee.

“Enough to consider joining our family officially?”

A gasp escaped my lips. No way. She couldn’t be. Could she?

She opened her clutch and revealed a black box. My mouth fell open as she displayed a beautiful ring. It was breathtaking, but I couldn’t dwell on it. I needed to take in all of it, not just the ring, but the entire image of Miranda Priestly, kneeling, cheeks flushed from our wonderful evening, hair shining from the city lights, the love of my life asking me what I had been longing to hear.

“Will you marry me, Andrea?”

My eyes were welling with tears. I couldn’t even speak. I vigorously nodded my head. Yes, yes, yes, of course, yes.

She beamed with ecstasy, openly and honestly, and eagerly took my hand to place the ring on my finger.

“Wait,” I snapped, pulling my hand back, and Miranda’s eyes widened with panic like I had never seen before.

I quickly amended, “Did you ask the girls?”

Her face instantaneously softened, and she again took my hand. “They wished me luck while you were getting ready.”

“I love you,” I choked out, on the verge of crying, “Yes.”

She secured the glimmering band on my finger, stood up, and enveloped me in a hug as I finally lost control of my small sobs of happiness. The mixture of hopes and anxieties I had been holding finally gushed out.

Wife. Mom. Family. Us. Mine. Ours.

After a few moments, I finally managed to control my breathing and simply enjoyed the feeling of her holding me.

“You knelt down on a dirty sidewalk in Dior for me,” I mumbled against her neck.

She pulled back slightly, allowing room for her thumb to brush away my waterworks. “I would do anything for you, my darling.”

“You already put me on the cover of your magazine. I can’t ask for much else,” I mused, now taking time to look at my finger, “This ring is lovely.”

A single large diamond surrounded by two light blue gems. I recognized them as the twins’ birthstone. Even if this had been a private, meaningful moment for just us, we had both clearly understood what this meant for all four of us.

She interrupted my thoughts with a kiss.

“Shall we return home?”

As we walked back towards the car, hand in hand, I looked over to my fiancée.

“You know, there is one thing you could do for me.”

She flicked a questioning eyebrow.

“You should totally let call you Mrs. Priestly once we’re married,” I explained with a smile, swinging our joined hands, “It’ll be fun since we’ll both be Mrs. Priestly.”

Her rare, throaty laugh filled the nighttime air.

“You are easy to please, my love.”