“Where is my coffee?” Miranda called from her office.
Emily frantically dialed Andrea’s cell phone number. It wasn’t like her to be running late—at least not anymore.
Though Emily was upset she didn’t get to go to Paris three months ago, she was delighted to receive the clothes from Andrea, and more importantly, they became friends over the whole ordeal. After the media fallout with Miranda’s divorce while Emily was still in a cast, she acknowledged that her brunette counterpart was not worthless, and was actually pretty good at her job.
Shortly after returning from Paris, Andrea and Emily had another opportunity to bond. Andrea’s ex-boyfriend Nate moved out of their apartment while she was overseas, and she hadn’t heard from him since he returned. Her former friends—Doug and Lily—were also ignoring her, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that she learned why.
Her mother called and told her the news—that Nate and his father were killed in an auto accident while they were driving to Boston. Andrea was in shock, and her mother blamed her for breaking up with him and making him drive out to Boston in the first place. Emily consoled the brunette, reminding her what warped logic her mother was spouting, but it deeply affected Andrea.
For the weeks following the news, she was very depressed. She lost weight, and her color paled. Emily tried to keep her spirits up and engaged in different topics when she was in the office, because the last thing she wanted was Miranda to catch wind and turn on Andrea. They had a good thing going—the three of them. Miranda was acting reasonable, and Andrea and Emily were competent and responsible. It worked, and Emily would do whatever she needed to protect that.
Today, it had been a little over three months since Paris. Andrea seemed to be doing a little better, at least from what Emily could tell. She was back to a size six, and she spent the past few weeks preparing for a 5k run. She explained that running helped her to clear her mind, and while it didn’t help her to fit back into her size four clothes, she was at least feeling healthy. She hadn’t been dating anyone, but from what Emily could tell, she was beginning to move on from the whole Nate thing.
Andrea finally burst through the office doors with Miranda’s coffee, handing it to Emily who ran it to Miranda and apologized profusely for the delay.
Emily returned to her desk and looked over at the brunette, who was wincing as she took off her jacket. “What’s wrong?” Emily whispered. Andrea was wearing ankle boots and leggings, and on top she wore a black tank under a black long sleeve shirt and a black sweater.
“My back—I must have pulled something yesterday. I can hardly take a deep breath,” she said.
“Are you on your period?”
“No, but,” Andrea paused for a moment, thinking about how irregular her cycle has been with work stress, then her depression after the accident. “Maybe all that running finally kickstarted things,” she said. She groaned as she sat down and turned to her computer screen. “I don’t think I’m going to last all day like this.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Don’t let Miranda hear you say that.”
“Say what?” the editor asked as she walked out of her office.
“Nothing, Miranda,” the girls said in unison. Miranda breezed by with a smirk on her lips. Everything in her office was running so smoothly and it was entirely due to the collaborative spirit between her two assistants.
As the day progressed, Andrea was feeling worse. Her lower back was throbbing, and it felt like someone was sticking knives in her stomach. Sitting was only comfortable for two or three minutes at a time, and it seemed like bending over gave her the most relief, so she tried to spend as much time as possible standing and leaning over her desk.
Emily went down for lunch at 12:30 and offered to bring Andrea something back, but she couldn’t think about food—not when her cramps and backache were this bad. After lunch, Emily rearranged things so that she would go with Miranda to Calvin Klein and Andrea could stay at the office, thinking it would be more comfortable for her.
And Andrea was grateful—that is, until Ralph Lauren called and needed one of their gowns back immediately. She got the dress from Nigel and practically sprinted down the street to drop it off, but walked back to the office. Running felt better, but the minute she stopped, the cramps and back pain returned twofold, and on top of that, she was feeling exhausted. Glancing at the clock, she figured Emily and Miranda would be gone for another hour at least, so she tried to get comfortable on the floor behind her desk—squatting, curling up into a ball, laying on her back—and nothing helped.
A thin layer of sweat was beginning to form on her forehead, and she took off her sweater. On her phone, she pulled up WebMD and researched her symptoms, reading all about ovarian cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis. She made a note to call her doctor’s office after work to make an appointment.
Just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, she felt a shooting pain that caused her to cry out—just as Miranda and Emily were walking in. Miranda stopped and looked at her curled up on the floor behind her desk, her eyebrow raised high.
“Sorry,” Andrea said, biting her lower lip and holding her breath.
“What on earth is this? Are you dying or something?” the editor asked. She was trying to act indifferent, but it was clear that she was concerned about the brunette.
“I—I can’t—” she gasped.
“It’s that time of the month,” Emily said quietly.
“Andrea, go home and rest. Take a warm bath or whatever it is you need to do,” Miranda said, with a flick of her wrist. “And take a taxi—expense it.”
“Thank you,” Andrea said, wincing once again as Miranda continued into her office. She pushed herself up, grabbed her coat and bag from Emily, then headed towards the elevators.
“Call me if you need something,” Emily said.
Andrea nodded and stepped into the elevator. Her cramps had never felt anything like this before, and as she rode down the elevator, she was scared that something was seriously wrong.
After stopping on nearly every floor, she finally stepped out into the lobby. Her hands were shaking and she was sure she looked like a wreck, but she couldn’t care. Just as she made it past the security turnstiles, another cramp swept over her and she collapsed to her knees.
“Ms. Sachs!” one of the security guards called, rushing to her side. After taking one look at her, he pulled out his phone and called for an ambulance. She was writhing and groaning, and he awkwardly stayed next to her until the paramedics arrived.
As Nigel was getting out of a cab, he saw a small commotion around someone being wheeled out on a stretcher. Realizing who it was, he hurried over to her.
“Six! What happened?!” he shouted, following them towards the ambulance.
“Sir, you’ll need to step away,” the paramedic said to him. “We’re taking her to Presbyterian—you can meet her there.”
Nigel watched in shock, then sent a quick text to Emily before getting in a cab and heading to the emergency room. Emily told him that she was having really bad cramps, but Nigel was starting to think perhaps it was her appendix or something, given the way she was writhing in pain.
The ambulance ride to the hospital was quick, and they pulled into the Emergency Room before the paramedics had even taken all of Andrea’s vitals. Once she was rushed to an exam room, a few nurses helped her to change out of her clothes and into a gown, noting the heavy vaginal bleeding.
The doctor came in to do an exam, gently applying pressure to different areas of Andrea’s lower abdomen. “Ms. Sachs, the pain you’re experiencing here—it’s actually your uterus contracting.”
“But my cramps have never been this bad before,” she groaned.
“I imagine not,” the doctor said. “When was your last menstrual cycle?”
“Umm—I don’t know. September? It’s been irregular—ohhhh!”
Alarm bells on various monitors started sounding off. Andrea’s blood pressure was dipping dangerously low, and the doctor knew she had very little time to act. The doctor pressed her stethoscope to Andrea’s abdomen and quickly verified her initial suspicion.
“Ms. Sachs, I need you to stay calm,” the doctor said, her voice sure and certain. She carefully placed an oxygen mask over Andrea’s mouth. “You’re pregnant, and your baby is in distress. Take a deep breath, and try to let your lungs fill with oxygen,” she instructed as she and two nurses quickly pushed her hospital cart down the hallway towards surgery.
“What?” she asked in disbelief. “No, no. It can’t be. I’m not—I’m not—I’m not pregnant!” she shouted, suddenly feeling a wave of exhaustion wash over her.
“She’s losing too much blood—we need to get her in the OR now!” the doctor called.
“Andy? Can I call you Andy?” an older nurse asked quietly. Andrea nodded, and the woman continued. “I’m Joanne. I’ve been a labor & delivery nurse for twenty years—just so happens I’m in the OR with you today. I know you’re scared, but this is happening. You’re having a baby, honey, and there’s no time to think about anything else right now. I’m going to stay right here with you, and everything is going to be alright. Okay?”
Andrea started crying, and could hardly process what was going on. Joanne’s voice in her ear was calming, and somehow, she felt herself melting away into the darkness.
“What do you mean you don’t bloody know?!” Emily hissed. “That is not acceptable.”
“Look, they won’t tell me anything, except that she’s in surgery. Miranda and I have to meet with Marc Jacobs in twenty minutes, so I have to leave, and you have to come take my place,” Nigel said.
“Emily Charlton, pull it together! Call Roy. Arrange a reroute. Make an excuse to ride with Miranda, and at the hospital, you will get out of the car and I will get in. Now, go!” he shouted, hanging up the phone.
He sighed and continued pacing, watching for the nurse to return with an update, or Emily to come and relieve him.
When she arrived, he heard her the minute her Jimmy Choos hit the commercial tile flooring of the Emergency Room. “How is she?” she asked.
“No update. Go make friends with the nurses. Text me as soon as you know anything,” he said, rushing out the door. They were running about fifteen minutes late for their meeting with Marc Jacobs, which wasn’t bad, considering.
“Nigel, what on earth is going on?” Miranda asked the minute he climbed into the backseat. “Why were you at the hospital?”
“It’s Andy,” he said. “I saw them taking her away in the ambulance, and I just followed. She’s in surgery now, and they won’t tell me any more.”
Miranda paled and turned to look out the window. “She said she had some cramps, and I sent her home. We should cancel with Marc.”
“No, Miranda. Emily is there. She will let us know when there’s an update,” Nigel said.
Miranda nodded and continued to look out the window. If Nigel looked closely, her jaw was clenched tighter than usual. She was struggling to contain her emotions.
“Hey,” Nigel whispered, placing his hand on Miranda’s shoulder. “She’s going to be okay.”
“You don’t know that. She—” her voice trailed off into the purplish light of early evening. She didn’t need to say it; Nigel knew her feelings for the young woman. “Roy,” Miranda said, clearing her throat. “Turn around. Take us back to the hospital.”
In the waiting room, Nigel sat anxiously watching the clock while Emily tried to sneak past the desk. Miranda, on the other hand, demanded to speak to the head nurse.
“Ms. Priestly, I’m sorry, but there are HIPAA patient privacy protocols that prevent me from disclosing a patient’s status to anyone other than immediate family or healthcare power of attorney,” she said.
Miranda sighed and returned to the chairs where Nigel was sitting. “Nothing,” she said.
Emily casually walked over and sat in the chair across from Miranda and Nigel. “She’s out of surgery. It was ‘successful’ and she is ‘in recovery,’ but they don’t expect she’ll be awake until sometime tomorrow,” Emily said.
“Did they say what was wrong?” Nigel asked.
“No,” Emily said. It wasn’t technically a lie, because they didn’t say anything. Emily saw it written on her chart. “If it’s alright, Miranda, I’ll come back first thing tomorrow. I told them I was her roommate and that she doesn’t have any family here.”
“Yes, yes. Can you have them call or text you if anything happens overnight, too?” the editor added.
Emily nodded and made her way back over to the registration tech she had been talking to, while Miranda and Nigel gathered their things and headed out the door.
The next morning, Emily showed up at the hospital bright and early, and headed straight to Andrea’s room. One of the most valuable lessons she learned from Miranda was that if you walk with enough confidence that you know where you’re going, that you belong there, you are generally not questioned.
The brunette was still asleep, so Emily approached the nurse on call. “Hi, I’m Emily, I’m Andrea’s roommate. Her mother called me from Ohio and asked me and a few of Andrea’s coworkers to come by so she’s not alone,” she said.
“That’s very thoughtful of you. I’m sure Ms. Sachs appreciates it,” the nurse said.
“Do you know what happened? Is she going to survive? Her mom told me everything,” Emily reassured her.
The nurse seemed relieved to hear this, and she sighed before explaining to Emily in full detail.
“Thank you for filling me in. I didn’t want to make her mother explain everything, and I certainly don’t want to have to ask Andrea when she wakes. By the way, do you think she will wake up soon?” she asked.
The nurse shrugged. “Could be five minutes from now, or five days. My guess would be a few hours though.”
Emily nodded. “I’m going to step out for some coffee, and maybe bring her some clean clothes. Miranda or Nigel will probably be coming by—if you see them, and they’re looking a little lost, can you point them to her room?”
Emily smiled and darted out of the room, quickly calling Nigel and relaying all the details. “Are you going to tell Miranda?” Emily asked him.
“Yes. I have to. She’s a nervous wreck right now,” he said. “Although, on the bright side, after this I doubt they’ll be dancing around each other.”
“You do realize you are vaguely talking about Miranda Priestly and her bloody feelings in the same sentence, right?”
Nigel chuckled. “Good point. But yes, I’ll tell her. I don’t have much today, so I’ll go sit at the hospital and wait for Six to wake up.”
Andrea opened her eyes and recognized the nurse standing over her bed—it was Joanne, the woman who was with her in the OR.
“Wh-what happened?” she asked.
“Oh, honey, here, have some water,” she said. “You’ve had a rough day.” She handed Andrea a cup of water with a straw. When she was finished, she pulled the chair up to Andrea’s bedside and took her hand. “You have a beautiful baby girl, Andy. She was premature—just barely 5 pounds—but she has big brown eyes like you.”
“Can I see her?”
“Soon. She’s in the NICU, and I’ll take you over to see her in the morning. You both need your rest right now,” Joanne said.
Andrea nodded and tears began flowing from her eyes.
“Look, honey, I know this is hard. People aren’t going to understand, but I have seen this too many times in my career. Every woman’s body carries a baby differently, and I believe it’s possible to not know. You have nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.
Andrea sighed. “It’s like you can read my mind. How can I go back to work?”
“Your coworkers will understand, just give it time,” she said. “Anyone who knows you will know that you would have taken the best care of yourself had you known about that little girl.”
Andrea rolled her eyes, imagining what horrible things would come out of Miranda’s mouth. She didn’t want to think about that—telling her parents would be one of the hardest things she would have to do, but telling Miranda would be a close second. She rolled over and closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep and hoping she’d wake up from this nightmare.
Andrea woke to the sound of Nigel’s voice quietly talking into his telephone. She laid there for a minute, taking in her surroundings. She felt tired and a little sore, but nothing compared to the painful contractions she felt before.
“Hey,” Nigel said, approaching the bed.
“Hey, hi,” she replied. “What time is it?”
“Almost 11:30. But that doesn’t matter. How are you?”
She carefully sat up in bed and pulled her hair back in a messy bun. “I guess I’m fine, considering. Oh shit—I was supposed to be at work today,” she said.
“Please. Don’t worry about it, Emily has it covered. So, do you remember what happened?”
“It’s foggy. One of the nurses was really kind, though. She told me,” Andrea said.
Have you picked out a name yet?” Nigel asked.
“No—I haven’t even seen it. Her,” she corrected, blushing slightly.
“Are you going to keep her?”
Andrea looked up in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“If you’re not sure, I can help arrange for a counselor to stop by, and they would be able to find her a loving home. I’m sure this is tough for you,” he said.
Andrea shook her head. “No. No—I can’t. I couldn’t. I know I wasn’t planning on this, but I can make it work. I mean, right? Or don’t you think—?”
“Sweetie, I will support you whatever you decide. If you keep her, I know it’s going to be an adjustment, but we’re all here for you—whatever you need,” he said. “Even Miranda.”
“What? She knows?!” Andrea said, falling back against the pillows. “Great,” she groaned. “I’ll be out of a job, and then my lease is up at the end of the month. Not off to a good start.”
Nigel took Andrea’s hand and squeezed it tightly. “Miranda has a soft spot for newborns, and you, Six. I promise you, she means no harm. She was working with HR this morning to get you on paid maternity leave. If she offers, you should accept her help. Trust me on this,” he said. There was a light knocking on the door and Nigel looked up. “Speak of the devil…”
“Hello, Andrea,” Miranda said softly. “Do you mind me stopping by?”
Andrea shook her head, and Nigel quietly said goodbye and slipped out, leaving the two women alone. Miranda walked over to Andrea’s bedside and sat on the edge of the hospital bed.
“Miranda, I’m so sorry,” Andrea said as she broke down in tears.
The editor watched the young woman for a few minutes, and when it was clear she was not going to stop crying any time soon, Miranda reached out and hugged her, holding her and soothing her while she cried. “Shh, you have nothing to apologize for,” Miranda said quietly.
After nearly ten minutes, Andrea sat up and looked at Miranda. “Why are you being so nice to me?” she asked, wiping her eyes.
“I want to help you. I know that it’s not quite the same, but I remember what it was like when my girls were born—my husband was with me, but I still felt so incredibly alone and detached. I was terrified,” she said. “And to be perfectly honest, I feel a bit of guilt because I didn’t know what to say to you after the accident with your boyfriend and his father, so I pretended I didn’t know. But I did, and I saw how the news had affected you.”
“He would have been so happy with a baby.”
Miranda reached out and squeezed her hand. “Are you happy with a baby?” she asked curiously.
“Yeah,” Andrea said, her lips curling into a smile for the first time that day. “Yeah, I am.”
“Do you want to come with me to see your daughter?”
“I spent some time with her this morning, and helped with her feeding. She’s a fighter, Andrea,” she said, brushing a wisp of hair behind the young woman’s ear. “Like you.”
Andrea agreed and started to get up from the bed. Miranda told her to stay put, that she would be back with a wheelchair, but of course, Andrea did not think she needed a one. She sat at the edge of the bed and tried to push herself up, quickly falling back against the mattress as a searing pain tore through her abdomen where her incision was.
Miranda was back in two seconds, carefully helping Andrea into the wheelchair. “Told you so,” she whispered with a smirk as she pushed the chair out of the room and down the hall.
In the NICU, Miranda led her towards the incubator marked “Baby Sachs” and handed Andrea a mask and gloves. The baby was asleep, so Andrea reached her hand inside, gently grabbing her delicate hand.
“She’s a little miracle,” Miranda said quietly, gently leaning on the wheelchair and resting her hand on Andrea’s shoulder. “Have you thought about a name?”
“I think ‘Natalie.’ Natalie Sachs.”
Miranda hummed in agreement, and they sat in silence, watching the tiny human breathe in the oxygen-rich air and soak up the special lighting. “You know, she had her eyes open earlier today. She has beautiful brown eyes—just like her mother,” she said
Andrea took a deep breath and retracted her hand, closing the little window on the incubator and putting her head in her hands. “I can’t believe she’s mine—that I’m a mother. This is a lot to take in, and I still have to figure out where we’re going to live, what kind of carseat I’m going to get, what she’s going to wear, who’s going to watch her when I find a job—I want to, but I don’t know if I can do it. Maybe it’s not fair to her.”
“Look at me,” Miranda said, gently lifting her chin. “You can and you will. You are a mother now. The most important thing in your life from here on out is this little princess,” she said. “I realize you probably hate me, but please let me help. I still have all of the girls’ baby things in storage, and you can have whatever you’d like. I probably have two of everything—carseats, cribs, bassinets, bouncers, bathtubs, clothes, you name it. Your apartment will be filled by the time you bring her home,” Miranda said with a smile. “And you do not need to look for a job—at least not yet. You have twelve weeks of paid maternity leave through your insurance, starting today.”
“I don’t know what to say—that’s so generous, Miranda. And I don’t hate you, not at all. I just, I feel like I can’t accept it—“ Andrea said. She anxiously looked down at her hands in her lap. “My lease on my apartment is up on the 30th. I don’t know where I’m going to be able to afford a place that’s safe enough to bring her home,” she said.
“This may be a terrible suggestion, but,” Miranda paused. “Why don’t you come stay with me?”
“At the townhouse? Miranda, I could never impose—”
“Wait, wait, hear me out before you decline. You’d have your own space—the entire third floor—a huge guest room with a fireplace and sitting area, a large en-suite, and a small balcony that overlooks the back yard. Cara would be around during the day to help—she was wonderful with the girls and would love the chance to help with a newborn again. She’ll also take care of the cooking and laundry, and then the housekeeper would do all the cleaning…and the girls and I would certainly be around in the evenings as well. Then, when you come back to work, Cara could be your babysitter.”
Andrea took a deep breath. “Miranda, it’s beyond generous of you to open your home to me like that, but I just don’t understand why,” she said.
The editor sighed and reached for Andrea’s hand. “I care about you, and I want to help.” She paused for a moment and looked down at her hands nervously. “I’m not very good at making friends, but there’s always been something about you that I rather liked,” she added with a shrug. “It’s no secret that I enjoy your company—you know that, as does everyone else at Runway,” she said, rolling her eyes.
Andrea smiled. “I mean, I guess—wow. Um, okay, so, in the past day I had a baby and became friends with Miranda Priestly. Not sure which is more believable,” she said.
“Ha ha, not funny. So, you’ll come stay with us?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Thank you so much. Really, I can’t tell you what a relief this is,” Andrea said.
Miranda smiled brightly. “I’m going to go back to the office now. I’ll go to storage with the girls tonight to get a few of the items you’ll need right away. Your doctor said you might be discharged today, but Natalie here will probably be in the hospital for another week or so. What am I forgetting?”
Andrea shook her head in disbelief. “Um, I will start packing up my apartment—I’ll have four or five boxes, plus my clothes, which are mostly on loan from the Closet anyway. Maybe I can bring it over this weekend?”
“Whatever you need. Roy can help you, or I can send movers over. You really should be resting whenever you can. Either way, don’t worry. We’ll figure it out,” Miranda said. “Did you want to stay here or go back to your room?”
Andrea glanced over at Natalie and smiled.
“Ah, I figured. Please call or text me if you need anything at all. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Yes. And Miranda, thank you.”
Miranda smiled and walked out of the room.
The next few days went by in a blur. Miranda and her daughters spent time getting the third floor ready for Andrea and the baby. Both Caroline and Cassidy were excited to have Andrea move in, but Miranda made them promise to leave her alone and give her space if she needed it. Miranda herself knew that would be difficult to maintain, and she secretly hoped that the young woman would be open to spending time with the three Priestly women.
Emily helped Andrea to pack boxes in her apartment, and even managed to sell a few of Andrea’s larger items that she would no longer need on Cragislist.
When Andrea was visiting Natalie in the NICU, she asked about Joanne and when she would be working again. Strangely, no one in the hospital seemed to know this nurse.
“I don’t understand,” she told Nigel. “This woman was there with me, reassuring me. How did she just disappear?”
“Sweetie, is it possible that you imagined her?” Nigel said, handing the newborn back to Andrea.
The young woman shrugged. “I guess I’ll never know. Do you think I’m crazy for moving in with Miranda?”
“No. How do you feel about it, though? That’s more important,” he said.
She took a deep breath. “I am grateful. And nervous. I can’t screw it up—if I do, I’ll have nothing left. Nige, I don’t think I can do this.”
“Six, stop that. You can, just be yourself. It sounds like you and Miranda are getting closer already.”
“I just know I’m going to screw it up.”
“How so?” he said. “By telling her how you really feel about her?”
Andrea’s eyes shot up in surprise. “That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. Apparently, I suck at hiding it.”
“No, I just pay better attention than most. Sweetie, I am sure things will be more than fine. Please trust me on this,” he said.
She rolled her eyes and readjusted the little knit hat on Natalie’s head. “Miranda probably sees me as a daughter or something, and here I am…” she stopped short when Natalie began to cry.
“Six, whatever you were going to say—have a little faith. Miranda does not see you as a daughter. Trust me.” He leaned over and kissed Andrea on the cheek and brushed Natalie’s cheek. “I have to get back to the office. Trust me, it will be fine.”
On Sunday afternoon, Andrea came by the townhouse with her suitcase and a large tote. Caroline and Cassidy eagerly greeted her and helped carry her things upstairs, while Miranda showed her around the house a little.
“Again, I can’t thank you enough,” Andrea said, sitting on one of the barstools in the kitchen. “I’m going to try and run to the store early tomorrow and get whatever else I’ll need. This morning, the doctor said I could probably bring her home tomorrow or Tuesday.”
Miranda smiled and led Andrea upstairs to see her room, noticing that the young woman paused a few times to catch her breath. “I’m sorry that you have to climb all these stairs,” she said. “There is a second staircase in the back that goes straight down to the laundry room if you need, but no elevator.”
Andrea nodded. “It’s fine, I am just going slow so I don’t aggravate the incision.”
“Of course,” Miranda said. She had totally forgotten that Andrea had just had surgery and probably shouldn’t have even been climbing stairs. When the approached the third floor, Miranda stepped aside and guided Andrea into the room, her hand resting gently at the small of her back.
“Miranda, oh my god!” Andrea said, “I thought—you didn’t have to do this,” she said as tears started to form in her eyes. “Oh my god, there’s—everything I could possibly need.”
Miranda smiled and looked around. She may have gone a bit over-the-top with the new bedding on the crib and the blankets and clothes and diapers, but the look on Andrea’s face made it worth it.
“Bobbseys, can you go down and get dinner started? Get the recipe out and the ingredients, and you can turn the oven on to pre-heat,” Miranda said, shooing her daughters out of the room. Andrea walked around the space, still in shock at all of the baby clothes and toys and toiletries and blankets. “Andrea,” she said quietly, “I will do my best to give you your space up here—and the girls will, too. I want you to know you’re welcome in any room of our house, wherever we are.”
“Thank you so much. This is perfect,” Andrea said, looking around. She had imagined it so differently in her head, thinking the “entire third floor” that Miranda referred to would literally be an open space without a door. But there was a very small hallway up here, a door at the other end probably leading to the roof or the attic, and this meant that she would be able to close her bedroom door and have privacy if she needed.
“Will you join us for dinner? The girls want to make chicken parmesan tonight,” Miranda said, bringing her back to the present.
“I was planning on heading back to the hospital this evening, actually.”
“Oh. Have dinner with us, then I’ll go with you to the hospital. Would that be okay?” Miranda asked.
Andrea nodded. “I’ll be down in a few minutes. I just want to unpack a few things and clean up,” she said.
“Take your time,” Miranda said, walking out and leaving Andrea to herself.
That evening, after dinner, Miranda and Andrea drove to the hospital to spend some time with the baby, who was doing remarkably well on her own. The doctor confirmed that Natalie would be discharged in the morning, and before Andrea could ask, Miranda offered to have Roy pick her up.
Andrea agreed, and after saying goodnight to Natalie, they left the hospital. There was something special about friendship with Miranda Priestly, and Andrea couldn’t help but smile. Never in a million years could she have imagined this scenario, but somehow, it felt comfortable to her, especially when just about everything else in her life was a mess.
Monday afternoon, after Andrea brought Natalie home to the townhouse, she spent hours just holding her and walking around the house, trying to get her to familiarize the scents and sounds of the space, specifically their room on the third floor. Natalie was struggling to keep her eyes open, so Andrea laid her down in her crib for a nap and pulled the rocking chair nearby, taking a nap herself.
The first night at the townhouse, little Natalie was a perfect angel. Cassidy and Caroline took turns holding her, then Miranda helped Andrea to give her a bath before getting into a clean onesie and going down for bed. Miranda didn’t even hear her wake up during the night, and in the morning when the Priestly women came down for breakfast, Andrea was holding a quiet and content Natalie while she herself ate some oatmeal and chatted with Cara.
That night, Miranda had a dinner with some Elias Clarke investors, so Andrea spent some time in the living room watching Netflix with the girls while they did their homework. Natalie slept quietly in a bassinet, and Andrea browsed some online parenting articles on her computer.
At 9:30, Miranda came home, and sent the girls straight up to bed. Natalie woke with all the commotion, and Andrea took her upstairs to feed her and put her to bed. Once she was asleep, Andrea crept downstairs for a glass of tea and some graham crackers, and as she was walking up the stairs, Miranda called out to her.
The young woman followed the sound to Miranda’s second-floor bedroom, where the door was ajar. “Hi, did you need something?” she asked.
“No, no. Just wanted to see how your day was. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get out early.”
Andrea smiled and leaned against the doorframe. “No problem. Your dinner went okay?”
“Yes, it was fine,” Miranda said, as she took off her jewelry and set it on the dresser. “I don’t want to keep you, I just didn’t get to talk to you today.”
“Yeah, it’s strange, isn’t it?” she said. “I’m going to try and get some sleep, and hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight, Miranda.”
Miranda sighed when Andrea shut the door. The young woman looked exhausted, and she wished there was a way for her to help—to play more of a role in the young woman’s life. She listened as the young woman made her way up the stairs and climbed into her bed, which happened to be directly above her master bedroom. Sighing, she crawled into bed and turned her attention to the Book, knowing that these things often had a way of working themselves out.
Some time later, Miranda woke when she heard the baby crying and screaming. She tried to fall back asleep, but the crying continued, and Miranda was growing nervous. She grabbed her robe and climbed the stairs, letting herself into Andrea’s room, where she could see her pacing back and forth, trying to calm the baby.
“Miranda,” she said, seeing the editor standing in the doorway. “I’m so sorry. I’m trying to get her back to sleep—I’m so sorry we woke you up.”
“Nonsense. Give her here, let me try,” Miranda said, reaching her arms for the baby. “Oh, sweetheart, it’s okay. Come on, princess, let’s go back to sleep,” Miranda whispered, kissing the infant on the forehead.
Andrea sank onto the bed feeling utterly defeated. It was their second night at the townhouse, and already she couldn’t get the baby to sleep. She watched Miranda with the baby, and she looked so natural, sitting in the rocking chair with the newborn sprawled across her chest. And it seemed to be working.
After about ten minutes, Natalie stopped crying. Miranda continued rocking her for a few minutes, then slowly stood to place her in the crib. The minute Miranda pulled her from her chest, she started screaming again.
“Oh, princess, okay, okay, we’ll go back to the rocking chair,” Miranda whispered, carrying her back to the rocker and positioning her on her chest.
“I’m so sorry,” Andrea said, “here, I’ll take her.”
“No, it’s okay, we’re both comfortable now, aren’t we?” Miranda said, grinning and kissing Natalie’s forehead. “Andrea, why don’t you try and go back to sleep, hmm?”
Andrea reluctantly made her way to the other side of the room crawling into bed. She felt guilty that Miranda was taking care of her daughter while she rested, but the feeling only lasted for a few seconds, because exhaustion took over and she quickly fell asleep.
The next few nights followed in similar manner. While she wasn’t expecting the baby to sleep through the night, she was hoping that it would be easier to get her back to sleep after she had woken. Miranda had been spending a lot of time up in Andrea’s room, helping to rock Natalie to sleep when all else failed. Andrea could see it in the editor’s eyes that the baby’s sleep schedule was taking its toll on her as well.
On Thursday night, Andrea wanted to try rocking her to sleep herself without Miranda’s help, and it wasn’t going well. Natalie spent nearly an hour crying, despite being in her mother’s arms. Miranda made her way upstairs to Andrea’s room to help, but Andrea wouldn’t hand over the baby.
“Please, let me try this. I need her to get used to me,” Andrea whispered.
Miranda was a little disappointed, but understood. “How can I help you, then?” she asked, gently placing her hand on the young woman’s shoulder.
Andrea shrugged and said, “If you want, you can stay up here to keep me company.” She wasn’t actually serious, so she was shocked when she saw her doing just that.
The older woman crawled onto the bed, fluffing the pillows and leaning against the headboard and making herself comfortable while she checked some emails on her phone.
Once Natalie was finally asleep, Andrea carefully set her in the crib and walked over to the bed. Miranda had also fallen asleep, and Andrea watched her quietly. Not wanting to wake her, she pulled the blanket from the foot of the bed and draped it over the editor before climbing in herself.
A few hours later, the baby started crying, causing both women to wake up. Andrea froze, though, when she realized that Miranda’s arm was draped across her body, her head almost on her shoulder.
Miranda quickly pulled her arm away. “I’ll get her,” she said, practically jumping out of bed and hurrying over to the crib.
Andrea watched as the older woman soothed Natalie without removing her from the crib. The baby quieted, but instead of leaving the room, Miranda returned and took a seat on the bed.
“She won’t need to eat again until three or so. I remember Caroline used to wake up all the time in the middle of the night like that—I don’t know if she was scared or what, but she would always fall back asleep with just a little tummy rub,” she said. “Next time, she’ll be hungry though.”
“Thank you,” Andrea said, quickly drifting back to sleep herself.
A few hours later, Natalie woke again, but this time it was Andrea’s turn. She softly brushed Miranda’s arm, letting her know that she would take care of it since it was time to nurse Natalie anyway, and the editor closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
It was unusual to watch Miranda Priestly sleep—she was so unguarded and raw in these early morning moments, there was something endearing about it. Andrea couldn’t help but think back to the way she saw her in Paris, and a chill went down her spine at the reminder of how quickly Miranda could construct the facade when she needed to.
Andrea’s alarm buzzed a short while later, waking the two women but thankfully not the baby.
“What was that?” Miranda asked groggily.
“My alarm,” Andrea said.
“Why do you have an alarm set?”
“So I can be downstairs before you,” she said, pushing herself up out of bed.
“You do not need to do that,” Miranda said.
Andrea shrugged. “I’m going to jump in the shower quickly while she’s still asleep and then we’ll see you and the girls down in the kitchen.”
Miranda nodded and pushed herself into a sitting position. She could easily sleep longer, but it was Friday, and she knew Emily would be expecting her at the office in a little over an hour.
Later that afternoon, the girls weren’t home from school yet, and Andrea was laying on a blanket in the living room next to Natalie. Cara was sitting at the kitchen table, working on the grocery list for next week, and both women were surprised when Miranda walked through the front door just after 2:00 PM.
“Don’t mind me—I’m going to work from my office upstairs for the rest of the day,” she said, walking in and more or less going straight upstairs.
Andrea could tell that Miranda was exhausted, and she knew it was all her fault. She leaned over and pressed a kiss to Natalie’s forehead, hoping and praying that the baby would start sleeping better soon.
After the girls came home, Cara put dinner in the oven and left for the weekend. Andrea thanked her over and over for all her help, but she was genuinely happy to assist, and admitted that she’d miss seeing little Natalie over the weekend. Caroline and Cassidy watched the baby in her bassinet while Andrea finished preparing dinner, and when everything was almost ready, they set the table while Andrea took Natalie upstairs to put her down for a nap.
Once Natalie was down in her crib, Andrea stopped in the study to let Miranda know that dinner was ready. After gently pushing the door open, she froze. Miranda was curled up on the couch with a blanket, fast asleep. Andrea didn’t know what to say or how to wake her, so she carefully stepped out of the room and closed the door, then knocked, hoping it was loud enough to wake the editor.
“Miranda? Dinner is ready,” Andrea said, knocking once more.
“Okay—I’ll be down in a minute,” Miranda called from inside the room.
Andrea sighed and made her way back to the kitchen, where Miranda joined them shortly thereafter. Having a newborn in the house was taking its toll on the editor, and for that, Andrea felt to blame.
“You’ve been quiet tonight,” Miranda said, handing Andrea a towel as she lifted Natalie out of the bathtub. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, it’s fine. I just—thank you, Miranda.”
“Whatever for?” she asked.
“I can see how exhausted you are. I know you left work early to come home and rest today. I feel like I should tell you not to worry about us and that you should get your sleep, that I’ll take care of the baby, but I like it when you help. I like when you’re here with me,” she said.
Miranda smiled and shook her head. “I should have known you’d see right through my plans to nap upstairs this afternoon.”
“I feel bad that I need your help. This is just all so new to me, it’s very reassuring to have you here,” Andrea said. “I can’t thank you enough.”
Miranda put her hands on the young woman’s shoulders and gently squeezed. “You are so very welcome, sweetheart.”
Andrea finished changing the baby’s diaper and reached for the baby lotion, warming it between her hands before putting it on Natalie’s skin, just like Miranda had showed her to do. She finished dressing her, then carried her over to the rocking chair where she would nurse her before putting her down for bed. Miranda followed and pulled a second rocking chair close.
“Wait, where did that come from?” Andrea asked, gesturing to the chair.
“I told you, I have two of everything in storage. It just made sense,” she said with a shrug.
Andrea smiled and thought to herself how Miranda has a perfectly unique sense of what makes sense and what doesn’t.
“Andrea, can I ask you something?” Miranda said quietly.
“When was the last time you talked to your parents?”
Andrea stopped rocking.
“Andrea,” Miranda said softly, reaching out and brushing the young woman’s arm.
“Let me get her to sleep first,” she said, resuming her rocking.
The women sat in silence while Andrea rocked Natalie to sleep. Once she was in her crib, Andrea motioned for Miranda to follow her out of the room, quietly closing the door behind them. She walked over to the top of the stairs and took a seat, and Miranda joined her.
Before Andrea could say anything, Miranda wrapped her arm around the young woman’s shoulders and hugged her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “You are doing a wonderful job with Natalie, and I am so proud of you,” she said. “I just wanted to put that out there.”
Andrea nodded. It felt good to hear that from the other woman, and also to feel her embrace. It was comforting, so Andrea leaned into her before she spoke. “My parents and I haven’t talked much since Nate’s death. It’s complicated, but they weren’t happy that I broke up with him. They wanted me to marry him. I told them it wasn’t what I wanted, and they treated me like a child and said that I wasn’t thinking clearly—that I didn’t know what I really wanted, and that that was Nate. After the accident, they blamed me. If I hadn’t broken up with him, he wouldn’t have been moving to Boston, wouldn’t have been on the road that day, etc. I was already feeling guilty and they were making things worse. I couldn’t reason with them, so I just stopped taking their phone calls.”
“Oh, honey, I am so sorry,” Miranda said, hugging her a little tighter.
“Why did you ask about them?” she said, relaxing into Miranda’s embrace.
“I was thinking about how I would feel if I were in your mother’s place—my daughter just had a baby and moved in with her boss’s family. I would be furious, and hurt,” Miranda said.
“You also would probably swoop in and take your daughter and granddaughter back,” Andrea said.
After thinking that over for a minute, Miranda agreed. “I would. No matter what the circumstances, whether I was angry at her or she was angry at me, you are correct. I wouldn’t let her stay there,” she said. “Is that what you’re afraid of?”
“I don’t know,” she said with a shrug. “Part of me wants them to want to fight for me like that, but, well, you’re you, and that complicates things.”
“My parents already think you’re brainwashing me or something. They would go ballistic if they knew I was here. No offense to you, of course.”
Miranda stiffened. “It’s hard not to take offense to that.”
“Please, don’t,” Andrea said. Her voice cracked, and she bit her lip in an attempt to keep her tears at bay. “Please, Miranda. This is part of why I haven’t been talking to them.”
“I don’t know your mother and father, but I find it hard to believe they cannot be reasoned with. They’ve managed to raise an incredibly intelligent, kind reasonable woman, so it’s difficult to believe they could be so harsh,” Miranda said.
“I don’t want to talk about my parents anymore,” Andrea said as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
“Okay. Let’s change the subject. But promise me you’ll talk to them in the next few weeks?”
“Or what, you’ll kick me out on the street?” Andrea snapped.
“No, never,” Miranda said quickly. “And I do not issue ultimatums, Andrea. I am just asking you to promise me that you will try here.”
“Sorry. Yes, I will try. Change of subject?” she said. Miranda nodded. “So, even though I’ve told you that you do not have to get up in the middle of the night and help me, you do anyway, and I appreciate that. But, since it’s Friday and you presumably have nowhere to be tomorrow morning, I think you should try to catch up on your sleep.”
“Andrea, I will be fine.”
“Please?” she asked.
Miranda rolled her eyes. “Fine. I thought you enjoyed my company, though?”
“I do, really, I just—” she paused, thinking about Miranda’s words. Somehow, after the if-you-were-my-daughter conversation, she couldn’t curl up with her in bed tonight. She was shutting down and pushing her away, and it was entirely immature, but she didn’t see any other way.
Miranda frowned and reached for her hand. “Are you sure everything is okay?” she asked, squeezing gently.
“Yes—it’s just been a rough past few weeks. I just need some space.”
Miranda frowned and nodded. “I think I understand,” she said. She stood and helped Andrea to her feet, then proceeded to make her way downstairs to gather the Book. She worried about the young woman, more so than she let on, especially knowing she wasn’t talking to her family. Making her way into the kitchen, she turned on the kettle and prepared a cup of tea for herself as she tried to divert her attention back to work.
The next morning, Miranda took the girls to the market and then to brunch, in an attempt to give the young woman who had taken residence in her home—and, not surprisingly, her heart—some space. After brunch, they did some window-shopping and ended up walking most of the way home.
Andrea was surprised to wake up to an empty house, and honestly, the fact that Miranda was doing exactly what she asked didn’t make her feel any better. Later that morning, Emily stopped by to drop off something for Miranda, and it worked out well, because she ended up staying for an hour to visit with Andrea and the baby, taking the young woman’s mind off the editor.
When the Priestly women returned, the girls ran straight up to their rooms while Miranda headed to the living room to review the sketches Emily had brought. Andrea must have been upstairs, because she could hear a crackling noise on the one-way baby monitor sitting on the coffee table.
Miranda smiled when she heard Andrea whispering to the baby. Mommy loves you so much, princess. You are the luckiest girl in the world. Baby girl, you are so easy to love. She sighed and reached for the monitor, not wanting to intrude on the young woman’s private moment with her daughter, but suddenly she froze. I wish a certain someone would love me like she loves you. Yes she does, your Auntie Miranda loves you sooo much! Miranda moved away from the monitor in disbelief. She couldn’t have heard that correctly, could she?
“Moooom, can we make chocolate chip cookies?” Caroline shouted from the top of the stairs.
Miranda quickly switched off the monitor and ran to the hallway. “Shhh! You’re going to wake the baby!” she said.
Caroline and Cassidy made their way down the stairs quietly. “Sorry, Mom.”
“But can we make cookies?”
Miranda smiled and shook her head, pulling Caroline in for a hug. “Of course, Bobbsey. Just try not to shout so much, okay?” she said, shooing her girls into the kitchen.
A few hours later, Andrea joined them downstairs, lured by the smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. The girls went on and on, telling her all about the awesome day they had, and on more than one occasion, Andrea caught Miranda looking at her across the table.
Miranda was being quiet, and Andrea didn’t want to push her.
That night, Miranda stayed in her own bed, resisting the urge to run upstairs even when she heard the baby crying. She reminded herself that Andrea wanted some space, and she would do just about anything for that girl.
Over the next few days, Andrea and Natalie mostly stayed upstairs on the third floor. The editor had to fly out to Dubai mid-week to be on site for a photo shoot, so she was hardly home. In fact, by Thursday, Miranda hadn’t seen the young woman since dinner on Saturday.
The girls were going to be gone for a long weekend to see their grandparents, and Miranda was taking the day off so that she could take them to the airport. Had Andrea not been holed up in her room, she wouldn’t have been so surprised to see Miranda walk in the doors just before noon.
“Hi,” Miranda said cautiously, setting her bag and keys on the table before walking closer to the young woman, who was sitting on a quilt on the floor with the baby.
“Hi. Um, I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting you home so early,” she said, gathering up a few of Natalie’s toys.
“Andrea, this is your home now. Do not apologize for your presence,” Miranda said. “May I?” she asked, gesturing at the blanket. The young woman nodded, and Miranda carefully stepped out of her heels and took a seat on the quilt.
“Oh my goodness, you’ve gotten so big!” Miranda said, hugging and kissing little Natalie. “I’ve missed you, princess.”
“No, Andrea, let me say this,” Miranda said. “It has been a struggle, knowing you’re just upstairs, hearing her cry, and trying to give you your space. I’ve done it, because you asked, and because I respect your decisions, but I hope we can find a way to cohabitate this space without avoidance.”
Andrea sighed and leaned back against the couch. “I owe you an apology—I was a little dramatic. You’ve been so generous, and—”
“I really missed seeing you. Do you realize that this week was the first time in over a year that we went that long without seeing each other?” Miranda asked.
Andrea looked at her, speechless.
“What? As you know, I am not heartless. I have feelings.”
Andrea smiled. “You do, you absolutely do. It’s one of your more endearing qualities.”
Miranda was intrigued by that last statement but chose not to respond. “The girls are on a plane to Atlanta right now. They won’t be home until Monday night, but they love going to see their grandparents. I wish they weren’t so excited to leave me, but at least we have this little one here.”
Andrea smiled. Miranda was so good with her—everything about it felt so comfortable. “I can hardly believe she’s almost four weeks old,” Andrea said.
“It goes by so fast,” Miranda said before turning to Natalie, cooing and giggling.
Andrea took a deep breath. “I’m planning to call my parents today.”
Miranda turned and looked at her in surprise. “Oh. That’s, um, nice,” she stammered.
Andrea laughed. “Nice? Not really, but the longer I wait, the more difficult the conversation will be. I hate admitting it, but you were right,” she said.
Miranda smirked and tickled Natalie’s tummy. “Your Auntie Miranda is always right, and you might as well learn that early,” she said with a chuckle.
Andrea smiled and rolled her eyes. “I was wondering—will you sit with Natalie while I talk to them? I mean, I’ll wait to call until she’s down for a nap, but just in case she wakes up—”
“Of course. It’s just the three of us in this big house all weekend.” Natalie began to cry and fuss, so Miranda picked her up and tried to soothe her. “Someone’s ready for a nap,” she said with a smile.
Andrea held out her arms, but Miranda waved her off.
“We’ll be just fine, won’t we, princess?”
Andrea leaned over and kissed her baby girl on the forehead as Miranda got up to take her upstairs. The young woman took a deep breath. She was finally alone, and unfortunately, she knew that meant she needed to seriously think about making that call to her parents.
After staring at her phone for nearly ten minutes, she picked it and dialed her parents’ number.
“Hi Dad? It’s me, Andy. Do you have a minute?”
Upstairs, Miranda rocked Natalie to sleep and curled up in the rocking chair, watching the peaceful little one. Everything had happened so quickly in the past month—it really wasn’t until the last few days that she sorted out her own feelings for the two Sachs women. She wanted them in her life permanently, and she would do whatever was necessary.
Miranda was startled from her daydreams when she heard a scream and shattering glass coming from downstairs. The sound didn’t wake the baby, so Miranda hurried out of the room and ran down two flights of stairs. “Andrea?! Are you alright?” she called.
When she got to the living room, she saw Andrea on her knees next to the coffee table, sobbing hysterically. Shattered fragments of the cobalt blue coffee mug she had been drinking from were scattered on the floor. Miranda carefully knelt next to Andrea and hugged her tightly from behind, wrapping her arms around her waist.
“Shhh, shhh, it’s okay,” she said, trying to calm the young woman. She could only imagine that Andrea was so upset from talking to her parents, and a pang of guilt coursed through her for putting her up to this. “Andrea, sweetie, take a deep breath. Talk to me. What can I do?”
“N—Nothing. Just leave me alone.”
“Come on,” Miranda said, standing up and reaching to help the young woman to her feet. “Come upstairs where you can lie down.”
Andrea reluctantly took her hand and followed her out of the room and up the stairs. Miranda led her to the master bedroom, where she immediately crawled up on the bed and buried her face in the pillows.
“Oh, honey,” Miranda said as she curled up behind the young woman. “What can I do?” she asked, gently running her fingers through Andrea’s hair. “Can I draw you a bath? Or maybe rub your shoulders a little?”
“No,” she growled, “just stop. I don’t need another mother.”
Miranda almost laughed at the absurdity of that thought. “Oh, sweetie, I am not trying to be your mother. No thank you.”
Andrea pushed herself up and turned to look at Miranda. “Well, what then? What is all this? If you’re not trying to steal me away?”
The editor was stunned. “Andrea, is this why you have been avoiding me all week?”
“No,” she said. “Well, not really. I just feel like such a burden. I’m so sorry you have to spend time thinking about me. I’ll leave. I just need a few—”
“What?! No. Wait, there has been some sort of misunderstanding,” Miranda said. She gently brushed Andrea’s cheek and hooked her finger under the young woman’s chin. “You are not a burden, and you will not get rid of me this easily. Do you understand?”
Andrea shook her head and reached up to wipe the tears from her eyes.
“Andrea, you are here because you are my friend, and you are an incredible woman who I decided months ago that I just needed to have in my life. I think you understand that—that cosmic pull between us. Now, I love that you and Natalie are living here, and if you need your own space, I get that. But I need you to know that you are loved and cherished here,” she said.
Andrea’s eyes widened as Miranda’s words sunk in. Her lip began to quiver and her eyes welled with tears once again. “Thank you,” she whispered as Miranda pulled her in for a hug.
“You do not need to thank me,” she said, pulling the young woman tightly to her chest. She moved her hand in a circular motion on the young woman’s back and gently placed a kiss to her temple. “For what it’s worth,” she whispered, “I have such inappropriate thoughts about you—I’d be terrible as your mother, even if I was old enough.”
Andrea lifted her head from Miranda’s shoulder with a grin on her face. “Really?”
Miranda smiled and nodded, her cheeks blushing slightly.
The young woman reached up and cupped Miranda’s cheek. Both women were holding their breath, and suddenly, they heard Natalie’s cries coming from the floor above. Andrea looked towards the door, then back to Miranda, torn.
“Go,” Miranda said, taking Andrea’s hand and kissing her palm. “Bring her back here. We’ll pick up where we left off,” she added.
Andrea smiled and crawled off of the bed. When she got to the doorway, she stopped and looked back at Miranda.
“Go,” she said. “I won’t move an inch until you get back.”
Andrea nodded before turning around and heading upstairs to fetch the crying baby. When she returned, Miranda was, in fact, laying exactly where she had left her, like she said she would be. She crawled back onto the bed and laid on the pillow next to the other woman, cradling her daughter against her chest.
“No, wait. Stop,” the young woman said. “I just want to sit here and not talk.”
Miranda nodded and moved a little closer, resting her head on Andrea’s shoulder. She wanted to know how the conversation went with her parents, but she knew better than to push the woman. For now, she was grateful that she wouldn’t have to spend the weekend alone.
After giving the baby a bath and putting her down for the night, Andrea found her way downstairs to the den, where Miranda was sitting and working on her laptop. All of the lights were off except for the sconce in the hallway, and the young woman quietly watched the editor’s face, illuminated by the bright light of her laptop screen. Her brow was knitted in frustration—clearly displeased by whatever she was looking at on the screen—and after a few minutes, she took off her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose.
“Hey,” Andrea said, announcing her presence and slowly making her way towards the editor’s favorite chair.
Miranda moved her computer to the side table and began moving her feet out from under her.
“No, stay there,” she said, taking a seat on the ottoman in front of the woman. “Is everything okay at work?”
Miranda leaned back against the chair and took a deep breath. “Nothing that won’t sort itself out by next week,” she said. “Did Natalie take the bottle okay?”
“Yeah, she did great. I just have to remember to pump a few times a day,” she said. “What about the girls—are they settled with their grandparents?”
“Yes, they called when they landed. I don’t expect I’ll hear from them again until they’re back at the airport on Monday. James’ mother and I—well, we never saw eye-to-eye. We generally try to avoid one another,” Miranda said.
“What was so funny?”
“Nothing. Just, I feel like you don’t see eye-to-eye with many people.”
“Except maybe me.”
Miranda locked eyes with the young woman and reached for her hand. “Except maybe you,” she repeated.
Andrea moved to sit on the edge of the other woman’s chair. She opened her mouth to speak but then Miranda smiled and she was rendered speechless.
“Darling,” she said, softly brushing her fingertips along Andrea’s forearm.
“I would really like to know more about those inappropriate thoughts,” Andrea whispered.
“Ohhh Andrea,” she chuckled, her voice deep and heavy. She untucked her legs and patted her lap. “Come here.”
For a split second, Andrea considered the logistics of the armchair, but when Miranda gently tugged her hand, she quickly moved to straddle the editor, one knee on each side of her petite frame.
Miranda’s hands quickly moved to the woman’s waist and held her there. “Maybe more of a show-and-tell? I hope you don’t mind?”
“If a kiss is involved, I’m sure we can resolve it amicably,” Andrea said.
Miranda grinned and reached up, threading her fingers through the woman’s dark hair as she drew her close, pressing their lips together. After a few minutes, she pulled away and looked at Andrea, a worried expression in her eye. “Was that the baby?”
“What? No, I didn’t hear anything.”
“Did you bring the monitor down here?”
“No, I—” Andrea started. Miranda pushed her off her lap and stood up. “Miranda, I don’t hear anything. I just put her down.”
“Just come upstairs,” she said as she made her way towards the hallway. “We’ll be able to hear her better from my room.”
Andrea smiled and followed her up the stairs. “Really? Are you sure this isn’t just a guise to get me into your bed?” she asked, catching up to the woman on the landing and pinning her against the wall. Miranda gasped as Andrea’s lips quickly assaulted her neck.
“Wait, wait—we should talk,” Miranda said.
Andrea groaned. “Seriously?”
The older woman closed her eyes and nodded, reluctantly pushing herself away from the wall. “Bring the monitor into my room,” she said, climbing the rest of the stairs and heading into her bedroom.
She turned on the light and walked over to the dresser, standing in front of the mirror, her hands holding onto the furniture in a death-grip. She couldn’t deny her reaction to the young woman, but she knew things were moving too fast, quickly spiraling out of control. And yet, the feel of the younger woman’s lips on her skin, the taste of her breath…it was intoxicating and Miranda was drunk.
Andrea returned with the monitor and plugged it in on the dresser. “Okay, I checked on her, and she’s sleeping soundly. Now we can—wait, are you okay?”
“Andrea, darling, we need to talk,” Miranda said.
“About this?” she asked, brushing the other woman’s arm.
“No. Well, maybe. I mean, you obviously had an upsetting conversation with your parents,” Miranda said.
“I did,” she said stiffly. “It was…it’s personal.”
Miranda turned around to face the young woman. “ I realize that, but before this continues,” she said, waving her hand between them, “I want to make sure that you are okay.”
“Wait, how is that fair?”
“When I opened my home to you, I never said anything about being fair.”
“Seriously, you’re going there? So you’d what—you’ll kick me out if I don’t disclose every detail of my life to you?” Andrea said. “You’re just going to resort to making me feel guilty and indebted to you?”
“No, Andrea, that’s not true, not at all. It’s just, I don’t feel comfortable rushing into all this. Not if your parents are going to swoop in and steal you away from me after the girls and I got so—”
“So…attached,” Miranda said with a sigh. “Andrea, I warned you that it would be a struggle to give you your privacy, but I’ve done that. This is different. I care about you, and seeing you so upset this afternoon—I know it’s personal, but so is caring about someone.”
Miranda was practically in tears just having this conversation, so soon after they discovered their mutual feelings. She wanted Andrea and her baby to be safe and happy, but she knew firsthand how difficult it was to be estranged from one’s parents. It was relatively simple to conjure a carefree attitude, but every holiday she knew the young woman would miss their presence, she would want to call her mother when Natalie took her first steps and said her first words.
“What do you see me as?” Andrea asked.
The older woman paused for a minute as her mind wandered back to the present moment. “Honestly? I see you as an integral part of the Priestly family’s future,” she finally said.
Andrea smiled. That’s as vague and low-pressure as the other woman could have put it.
“Look, we don’t have to talk about this tonight if you’re not ready,” Miranda began.
“I love you,” Andrea blurted out, quickly slapping her hand over her mouth. “Oh god. I mean, I love that you said it that way. Fuck. I’m sorry.”
Miranda took Andrea’s hands and kissed them softly. “Don’t ever apologize for the truth,” she said. She paused nervously as she thought about what she said. “Were you speaking the truth?”
“Okay then,” Andrea repeated.
“So…” Miranda said.
“Integral part of the Priestly family’s future?” she asked with a giggle. “You’re quite the wordsmith.”
Miranda smiled and chuckled. “You’re the one with choice words. The way you said ‘fuck’ sounded so innocent, but my god, those inappropriate thoughts are coming back,” she said. She silently cursed herself for her terrible timing.
“Tell me more?” Andrea said eagerly.
Andrea groaned and walked away, Miranda quickly on her heels.
“Sweetheart, wait. Please, let’s take a few minutes to think. I am going to go take a bath. Will you be okay for a while?” she asked, gently hugging the young woman’s shoulders.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
“Okay. Stay here and make yourself comfortable. I won’t be long,” Miranda said.
Andrea looked around Miranda’s room and decided to take a seat near the fireplace. As she was sitting on the sofa, her cell phone rang and she quickly answered it so it wouldn’t wake the baby.
“Andrea. I talked to your father,” the woman said quickly, avoiding all pleasantries. “You are to return home first thing tomorrow. Put the flight on our account.”
“Mom? Wait, Mom. No. Stop!”
“Oh, right. The baby. Well, I suppose you can bring it here and your father and I can find an agency to find it a home, unless—”
Andrea bit her lip and held her breath.
“Unless you can leave it with an agency in New York? I suppose they deal with this thing much more often,” Mrs. Sachs said.
“What?” she said.
“You. Stop. You’re talking stupid,” Andrea said. “I have a daughter. She has a name. She’s your granddaughter. Yeah, I know it’s messed up—I didn’t plan to have a baby this year, but it happened and my life changed and it is what it is.”
“Oh, that’s just—you don’t mean you intend to keep it, do you?”
“HER, Mom! And yes, I intend to keep her!”
“But you—I mean—are you even capable—you didn’t even know you were pregnant…How can you be responsible for another human being?” Mrs. Sachs said.
Andrea bit her lip as she listened to her mother go on and on. “Mom,” she said, interrupting, “When I was home at Christmas, I was five months along. I know it’s crazy, but I really didn’t know.”
“But surely you had symptoms?”
“Remember? Nate was just killed in the accident. I was a mess. So I was moody and nauseous and couldn’t eat and I had heartburn and irregular periods—but I just thought that was stress. Since I’ve been working at Runway, my cycle has been off, so I didn’t think anything of it.”
“Speaking of—what are you doing for income?” her mother asked.
“Well, there’s this thing called maternity leave, where insurance pays for you to stay home for a while,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“No, I mean when you go back. How will you afford childcare?”
“It’s only been a few weeks, but Miranda’s nanny—”
“What?!” Mrs. Sachs hissed. “Did you say weeks? When did you have this baby? How old is it?”
“Four weeks ago. She is four weeks old tomorrow,” Andrea replied angrily.
“And you didn’t tell your mother?”
“No! I was busy, and I knew you’d overreact!”
“Overreact? Andy, you had a baby. And, you moved in with your boss. All we hear is Miranda this, Miranda that. This is a normal reaction! What on earth does that woman even want from you? Is she hurting you? Is she forcing you to do things? She’s got a sick fetish if young women are her thing—she is my age for goodness sakes. I forbid you to see her again!”
“Mom, stop!” Andrea said through her tears. “Mom, I love her. And she loves me, more than you ever will!”
“I hate you, Mom! I hate you. Just stop. Stop talking!” she shouted as her mother tried to interrupt. “Stop, Mom! I can’t stand you. I’m not—I’m not your child anymore!” she said, ending the call and throwing her phone across the room.
Andrea stood and wiped her eyes as she walked over towards the bathroom door. Her hand hovered over the doorknob, but hearing a splash of water and Miranda’s sigh caused her to retract her hand. She fell to her knees and let out a strangled cry.
“Andrea!?” the older woman called from inside the bathroom. She quickly climbed out of the bathtub and wrapped her grey robe around her as she opened the door. “Oh sweetheart, come here,” she said, kneeling next to the young woman and wrapping her arms around her.
She helped her up and over to the bed, where Andrea wrapped her arms around Miranda so tightly she could hardly breathe.
“Oh honey, it’s going to be okay,” Miranda said as she softly ran her hands up and down her back.
After a few minutes, Andrea’s grip loosened and she looked up into Miranda’s eyes. “You don’t know that. You’re just saying ‘it’s going to be okay’ because you think it will make me feel better,” she said.
“Did it?” Miranda asked.
“A little. But it didn’t last.”
Miranda smiled and wiped the tears from the young woman’s cheeks. “I don’t know why you’re upset, so I am unable to assess the situation. However,” she continued, “in my experience, almost everything can be negotiated. Nothing is without a price.”
Andrea thought about that for a minute as her fingers absentmindedly played with the lapel of Miranda’s robe. It was a different robe than she had seen the editor in before—a bright white that made the older woman look almost translucent.
The young woman took a deep breath and released the thick white fabric. “What if I know the price and I just don’t want to pay it?” she said.
“You negotiate. Nothing is without sacrifice, but you can’t have the life you want unless you try,” Miranda said.
Andrea sat up and took a deep breath. A shiver ran through her body, and the other woman pulled the throw from the end of the bed and wrapped it around her shoulders. “My mom called when you were taking a bath,” she said. At Miranda’s confused look, she realized she needed to start from the beginning. “I called my parents’ house earlier and talked to my dad—my mom wasn’t home. He didn’t take it well, and he more or less told me that I wasn’t part of the family anymore. He just shut down and didn’t want to hear anymore,” she said.
“Oh sweetheart, I am so sorry,” Miranda said, squeezing her hand.
“Yeah, well, apparently he gave my mom the message, but not the part where he disowned me. She demanded that I come home immediately, and she wanted me to find—” she paused to wipe her eyes and catch her breath. “She wanted to put Natalie up for adoption.”
“Yeah. She kept calling her ‘it’ and I just lost it. I told her that Natalie’s my daughter and she said that I wasn’t responsible enough to take care of a baby since I didn’t even know I was pregnant. I tried to explain that I wasn’t showing, and that all the symptoms seemed either related to stress or depression after everything with Nate. She didn’t care. Then she went off about you—she tried to make me think you were using me. It was so bad. I told her I hated her. And that I’m not her daughter anymore,” she said.
Miranda hugged her and held her close. “I am so sorry that you have to deal with this,” she said quietly. “And I am sorry that I am only making the situation worse for you.”
“What? No, don’t say that.”
“I am, and you know it. Do not argue with me. I am sorry that I am making it worse, but I do not regret any of it,” she said. Andrea looked up at her with tears in her eyes, and she quickly clarified. “Nothing is changing, not unless you want it to, Andrea. I am toxic to any normal human relationship, and that’s just something I have learned to live with. I am sorry to be asking you to live with it now, too.”
“Miranda, please. I—” she paused and softly chewed on her lip before reaching up to cup the older woman’s cheek. “I want to. Because you are worth it,” she said.
Miranda’s eyes widened and tears streamed down her cheek as she locked eyes with the young woman.
“Why are you crying?” Andrea asked.
Miranda shook her head and looked upwards, blinking rapidly to keep the tears from falling. She sniffled and dabbed her nose. “No one has ever said that to me,” she admitted. “Well—and meant it. I suppose that’s the difference.”
Andrea was speechless.
“Darling, you, too, are so very worth it. I want you to know that, okay?” Miranda said, softly stroking her cheek. “You are intelligent and beautiful and witty and an incredibly good, generous person. You are one of the most responsible people I know, and you have such good innate judgment, and I am so sorry that your parents do not see this in you. I wish there was something I could do to make them see you like I do.”
Andrea smiled sadly and looked up into Miranda’s eyes. It was unconventional, for sure, but despite it all, she had never felt more safe and loved in her entire life. And, she had a feeling that Miranda felt similarly. So, when she arched her neck and met Miranda’s lips, she wasn’t surprised that the older woman melted into her touch.
There was not a single moment where her lips disconnected from Andrea’s skin in one way or another. Was it kissing per se? No, but it felt wonderful to be so relaxed, so connected to another human being. With each kiss, each breath, each stroke of her arm she hoped to push away the young woman’s pain. She took a deep breath and just laid there, perfectly still, her lips pressed against Andrea’s jaw as she breathed in and out. Necessary, that’s what she was. Miranda needed that young woman like she needed oxygen.
They laid there like that for what felt like hours, breathing quietly, connected, and still. Andrea’s hand began moving slowly, caressing the other woman’s hip and gently loosening the tie of her robe. She began trailing kisses down the woman’s neck and across her collarbone. Miranda sighed and laced her fingers through the young woman’s hair.
A few sharp cries echoed through the crackle of the baby monitor, and Andrea groaned in frustration.
Miranda chuckled and sat up, pulling her robe tightly. “Life with a newborn,” she said, smiling.
“I’ll be back,” Andrea said, running out of the room and upstairs to console the little one.
The other woman slowly got up and changed into a pair of silk pajamas before making her way upstairs to join them. “How is she?” she whispered, walking up to the rocking chair.
“Hungry. She devoured this bottle,” she said quietly, setting down the bottle.
“Let me,” Miranda said, draping a burp cloth over her shoulder and reaching out her hands for the newborn.
Andrea handed her the baby and slipped away to the bathroom for a few minutes, washing her face and just taking a few deep breaths. She was exhausted, emotionally, and just wanted to get a few hours of sleep before any more conversation.
When she emerged from the bathroom Miranda was sitting on the edge of the bed. She had turned down the covers, and she was waiting patiently for Andrea.
“Come on, get in,” she said, lifting up the comforter while Andrea climbed in. “You need your rest,” she added, climbing into the bed from the other side.
“Miranda, about today,” she started.
“No more talking,” Miranda said as she curled up behind Andrea, draping her arm across the young woman’s waist. “There will be time to talk tomorrow and the next day and the next. Right now, just sleep.”
Andrea sighed and relaxed in the woman’s arms. “Goodnight, and thank you.”
“Goodnight, Andrea. Sleep well.”
The next morning, both women were exhausted. Between the emotion-laden evening and Natalie’s piercing cries at odd hours of the night, Miranda hardly slept at all. But now, Natalie was wide awake and ready to start the day, so Miranda offered to take her downstairs while Andrea slept a bit more.
To be perfectly honest, Andrea didn’t look very good this morning. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were glassy—could just be her exhaustion, or possibly she was coming down with something. Either way, the rest would be good for her, Miranda reasoned.
Downstairs, she fastened Natalie in her bouncer and set it on the kitchen island while she made coffee and some quick oatmeal for herself. Natalie was trying to look around the kitchen—though Miranda wasn’t sure how well she was able to focus on anything—and she started cooing and gurgling as she moved her arms around.
Miranda quickly finished her breakfast and drank her coffee, eager to pick up the baby and hold her in her arms. This little baby really was a miracle, Miranda thought as she held her and kissed her forehead.
“You and your mommy are so special to me,” Miranda said quietly. “I hope I get to see you grow up and go to school and eventually have babies of your own. My sweet little Natalie,” she said.
After a while, Natalie was once again getting sleepy. Miranda turned on the television to a news channel at low volume, hoping to muffle some of the city noises that seemed to make their way to her sensitive little ears. She held her and walked around the room for a while, gently bouncing her and humming quietly. In no time, she was fast asleep, and Miranda laid her carefully in the small bassinet before curling up on the couch and falling asleep herself.
She woke, what seemed like hours later, to the young woman’s fingertips gently brushing her cheek.
“Shh,” Andrea whispered. “She’s still asleep. Go upstairs and get some real sleep. I’ll look after her,” she said.
Miranda opened her lips to protest, but Andrea quickly pressed her fingertip to them and smiled. She headed to the kitchen and poured a glass of juice for herself.
“Are you feeling alright?” Miranda asked, gently resting her hand on the woman’s shoulder.
She shrugged. “Just tired, and a little stiff.”
“Why don’t we both go back to bed, then? We can bring Natalie upstairs with us.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll relax on the couch here. She’ll be hungry when she wakes up,” Andrea said.
Miranda sighed and reluctantly made her way upstairs, her own exhaustion wearing on her.
Later that afternoon, after she had a few hours of sleep and a hot shower, she returned downstairs. Natalie was laying on her back on a quilt in the living room, underneath a baby toy mobile. Andrea was sitting next to her, and Miranda couldn’t help but notice the sheen of perspiration on the young woman’s arms and chest. She had changed into a tank top at some point, Miranda noted, and overall she did not look well.
“Hey,” Andrea said.
“Hi,” Miranda replied cautiously.
“Would you mind watching her for a while? I really need to lay down—just for a little bit.”
“Of course. Are you going upstairs?”
“Well, there’s more for her to do upstairs, and I can work a little on the Book while she’s occupied,” she said, reaching down and picking up the baby. “Don’t worry about a thing, just get yourself some rest.”
A short while later, Miranda came downstairs to make herself another coffee, sleeping Natalie cradled snugly against her chest. She stopped at the living room, just to check on the young woman, and was shocked to see her writhing and groaning on the couch.
“Andrea, what’s the matter?”
“I don’t know, I don’t really feel well.”
“You’ve looked feverish all morning. Are you nauseous?” Miranda asked, sitting on the edge of the couch.
“No, but my stomach hurts—a lot.”
Miranda took a deep breath and readjusted her grip on the baby. “Let me give your doctor’s office a call. They might want to see you,” she said.
“I don’t have a doctor,” she said.
“Oh, um, what about the doctor when Natalie was born?”
“Well, I guess she’s my new doctor, but this isn’t related. Ugghh,” she groaned. “It’s getting worse, I think.”
“Andrea, maybe we should take you to the urgent care clinic—a doctor will check you out just to make sure everything is okay, and then hopefully give you something to help the fever and pain,” Miranda said.
“I’ll just take some Tylenol.”
“Andrea, please. You have a daughter now. You owe it to her to take care of yourself,” she said. “If it’s nothing, we’ll have wasted, what, two hours? And you’ll probably get your Tylenol. Please—for Natalie?”
Andrea rolled her eyes and sighed. “Okay.”
“Do you know if Roy left the carseat in the garage?” Miranda asked. “Never mind, I’ll check,” she said, walking out of the room. The carseat was, in fact, strapped in the backseat of Miranda’s Lexus sport utility vehicle. She climbed the steps back into the house and carefully strapped the baby into her carrier, draping a warm blanket over her.
She gathered their coats from the hall closet and after putting on her own, she helped Andrea into hers, then led her to the car.
“Thank you,” the young woman said weakly as she secured her seatbelt. “I’m sorry you have to take care of me like this.”
“Hush. Not another word,” Miranda said. She pulled out of the garage and they drove the rest of the way to the clinic in silence.
When they arrived, there was a short wait, and Miranda patiently sat next to Andrea, cradling Natalie in her arms. The nurse called for Andrea, and the young woman gestured for Miranda to wait. She was disappointed, but was at least grateful that the young woman was seeing a doctor.
After some time, Natalie began to fuss, and Miranda realized she should have brought a bottle or something for the baby. She kissed the baby’s forehead and began rocking her gently, hoping Andrea would be ready to leave soon.
“Excuse me, Miranda?” the nurse said. “Can you come with me?”
Miranda followed the nurse and was surprised to be led into a room where Andrea was connected to an IV drip. “What’s going on?! Andrea, are you alright?”
“She has a pretty severe infection, so we’re giving her a heavy dose of antibiotics now. We’ll send her home with a prescription, and I think the doctor will want to check the incision site in a few days to ensure the redness and swelling has gone down,” the nurse said.
“I’m okay,” Andrea said. “I guess my incision got infected. Natalie will need to start on formula for a while,” she said.
Miranda hugged Natalie a little bit tighter as she sighed.
“She said I can go home in a half hour. Between the IV and the ointment they put on the area, it actually feels better,” Andrea said.
“When did this start? Why did you wait to say something?”
“I was fine yesterday—it wasn’t until this afternoon that I knew something was wrong,” Andrea said.
Miranda rolled her eyes.
Andrea closed her eyes and turned to face the other direction, squeezing her eyes tight to keep the tears from falling. As if it wasn’t enough that her parents thought she was irresponsible and couldn’t take care of her baby—but now, Miranda, too? “Maybe my mom was right,” she said under her breath.
“What?” Miranda asked, walking around to the other side of the bed. “Sweetheart, what did you say?”
“I said that she was right. I can’t take care of a baby—I can hardly take care of myself. Don’t even reply to that,” she added. “I saw you roll your eyes. I know you’re thinking the same thing.”
Miranda opened her mouth to speak, then paused. “We’ll go get the car and pull it around, for when you’re ready to leave,” she said, gathering her things and heading out of the room.
Tears started flowing down Andrea’s cheeks. She knew she was making the situation worse, in fact, she feared she had ruined things for good. If Miranda kicked her out, she would have no choice but to go back to her parents, and then…
The nurse came back into the room, pulling Andrea from her thoughts. She removed the IV and handed Andrea some paperwork to sign, plus a tube of antibiotic ointment she could apply at home. She helped Andrea into her jacket, then led her towards the clinic’s exit.
Andrea could see Miranda’s car parked right in front of the door. Miranda was turned around, fussing over Natalie in the backseat. For a moment, she considered running—turning around and disappearing. It all seemed so promising. She could start over. Move away from New York, away from her parents. Her cell phone chimed with an incoming text, once again breaking her from her thoughts.
I did not intend to upset you earlier. I hope we can talk once Natalie goes down for a nap. -M
And another text.
I imagine this is not easy, but I want to help. Please. I care about you very much. You are a wonderful mother, and Natalie is so very lucky to have you.
Andrea sighed and headed out to the car, opening the rear door and climbing in the backseat next to the carseat. “Okay, we can go,” she said impatiently.
Miranda nodded and carefully pulled out into traffic. She drove them back to the townhouse, neither she nor Andrea speaking a word to each other. When the car pulled into the garage, Andrea unfastened the baby from her carseat, then quietly carried her inside.
Miranda turned the engine off and sat there, frozen, hands clenched around the steering wheel. She knew it was only a matter of time before she let the young woman down, but she didn’t imagine it would be this soon. She thought Andrea was different—understanding, realistic—forgiving, even. But somehow, she let her guard down for five seconds and managed to royally screw up. She had no excuse. There was no explanation. She was toxic and she pushed everyone away, even those who were necessary to her being.
She leaned forward and rested her forehead against the steering wheel as tears swept over her.
The editor blinked a few times and looked around. Her car door was open, and Andrea was standing next to her, reaching around to unbuckle her safety belt.
“I know. Just, come inside. You’re scaring me,” she said.
Her eyes widened and she reached her hands out to cup the younger woman’s face. “Andrea, I love you. I love you, and I need you—I can’t lose you.”
She smiled and leaned in closer, gently meeting the other woman’s lips for a heartfelt kiss. Miranda swung her legs around and the young woman moved closer, standing between her knees. She deepened the kiss and a tiny moan escaped Miranda’s lips.
“Wait, wait—” Miranda said, softly putting her hand up and breaking the kiss.
“Seriously? Again?” Andrea whined.
“Darling, your body is still healing. I don’t want to be responsible for jeopardizing that,” she said, tucking a long strand of brunette hair behind her ear. “Let’s go upstairs and make sure you take your medicine and apply more ointment to your incision, and then I’ll make sure you get plenty of fluids.” She stepped out of the car and shut the door, leading Andrea into the house.
“You know what fluids I have a taste for? Yours,” she said, pinching Miranda as they entered the house.
“Oh my god!” The editor blushed a deep shade of crimson and closed her eyes as she took a few calming breaths.
Andrea moved closer, her lips hovering over the woman’s neck. “What do you think about my request? Hmm?” she asked, her hot breath sending a shiver down Miranda’s spine.
“Um, th-that can probably…be arranged,” she choked out.
“Oh, excellent,” Andrea said as she continued to trace her lips along the woman’s collarbone. “Tell me—would you be wet enough for me? I’m awfully thirsty.”
Miranda jerked and gasped, “Ohhh!”
“Is that a ‘yes’ I hear?”
The woman reached for Andrea’s hand and pressed it between her legs, against the warm, damp denim.
With her free hand, Andrea quickly unbuttoned Miranda’s jeans and pushed them off her hips. She pressed her hand against the woman’s slick folds, once again causing the older woman to jerk and gasp. Andrea carefully led her to a nearby chair and knelt in front of her before pressing a kiss to the inside of her thigh.
“Oh, good god!” Miranda cried as she gripped the armrests and arched her back. The young woman’s tongue and fingers set off a sequence of events within her, but at that moment, she couldn’t think about anything other than the exquisite pressure of Andrea Sachs’ tongue on her clitoris.
After sufficiently satisfying the woman, Andrea followed Miranda upstairs so she could check on Natalie, then lay down and rest for a bit. She confirmed the baby was sound asleep, then changed into some comfortable clothes and headed down to Miranda’s room.
“Ohh,” she said as she sank into the pillows. “This feels so good. I am exhausted.”
Miranda stepped out of her bathroom wearing a short robe, brushing her teeth. “Are you okay?” she mumbled with a mouth full of toothpaste.
Andrea tried not to laugh, instead pulling the blanket up to cover her face.
Miranda blushed and returned to the bathroom to rinse out her mouth. “Sorry,” she said. “I bet the pain medication they gave you at the hospital is wearing off. Do you want another pill?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s not really pain—I’m just tired.”
“Let me go grab you some gatorade so you stay hydrated,” Miranda said, hurrying to the kitchen to retrieve the neon yellow drink.
When she returned, her cell phone rang. Seeing her first husband’s name on the screen, she quickly declined the call and proceeded to climb into bed with Andrea. Just as she was getting comfortable, the house phone rang.
“Oh no,” Miranda said as she reached for the phone on the nightstand. Very few people knew her home phone number, and it was only ever used in an emergency.
“Miranda? It’s James,” he said. “The girls are both okay.”
“But—?” she asked impatiently.
“But, Cassidy has a broken wrist. Mom said she fell at the park or something. She didn’t want to go—it happened yesterday—but apparently she was in too much pain today, so they took her to the hospital. She’s fine now, though, and the doctor said she’d heal just fine.”
“You were there?”
“No, I’m in Dallas right now. I talked to the doctor on the phone. I, uh, figured you would want to know—sorry if it scared you, calling the house like that.”
Miranda took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Don’t apologize—thank you for calling me. I know your mother would rather die than speak to me, but do you think I can call there and talk to Cass later tonight?”
“Yes, for sure. I think my mom was a little nervous that you’d be upset with her over this.”
“It was an accident, right?”
“Then why would I be upset?”
James laughed. “Just call her. She won’t want to talk, but she’ll put the girls on for you.”
“Okay, thanks again.”
“Of course. Hey, are you doing okay by yourself this weekend?”
Miranda chuckled. “Yes. I—well, I’m not alone.”
“Really? That’s all you’re going to say?” James asked.
“A friend of mine just had a baby and she needed to get out of a less-than-ideal situation, so she’s staying with me, on the third floor,” Miranda said.
“Wow, so you weren’t going to tell me there was someone else living with my daughters?”
Miranda took a deep breath. “It’s Andrea—my assistant. You’ve met her. The girls adore her. Everything happened so quickly, it didn’t even occur to me to tell you, really.”
“Okay, I get it, I get it. She’s just living upstairs, not like you’re sleeping with her,” he added with a chuckle.
“Ha, right. Look, I have to go finish up a few things before calling Cass. We’ll talk in a few days when the girls are home, okay?”
“Sounds good. Bye.”
“Bye,” she said, hanging up the phone.
Andrea reached over and tried to grab Miranda’s hand, but the older woman pulled away and hurried out of the room. Andrea wanted to follow her, but fatigue weighed heavily and instead she fell asleep.
It felt like hours later when she woke to hear Natalie’s cries on the monitor and hurried upstairs where she warmed a bottle and fed her, changed her diaper, and burped her. Glancing at the clock, she saw it was just after 9 o’clock. If she put her down now, she would likely wake up in a few hours, wide awake, but seeing the tiny princess’s eyelids so heavy, she decided she would risk it and put her back to bed.
Once she was asleep, Andrea made her way downstairs for a cup of tea. She wasn’t sure where Miranda disappeared to, but she was still feeling a little sluggish and really didn’t have the energy to pursue her.
She turned on the kitchen lights and gasped, jumping back when she saw Miranda sitting at the island in the dark.
“Oh, I uh…are you okay?” she asked, carefully approaching the other woman. There was an empty bottle of vodka on the island in front of her, and an empty glass next to it.
Miranda nodded. “It’s not what it looks like. There was hardly anything left in the bottle. And,” she said waving her arm about, “it was still light out when I came down here.”
Andrea stood behind her and placed her hands gently on the woman’s shoulders, softly kneading. “I didn’t ask if you were drunk or why you were sitting in the dark. I asked if you were okay,” she said quietly. “You ran out of the room after taking that call, and I just wanted to make sure nothing was wrong.”
Miranda sighed and relaxed back into her touch. “Cassidy broke her wrist. She fell off the monkey bars at the park. She’s fine, but—” she shook her head, “I wasn’t there for her. It was the first time either of my girls had broken a bone, and I wasn’t there.”
Andrea ran her hands up and down the woman’s shoulders and gently hugged her from behind. “What matters is that she’s okay, and she’ll be home in a few days, right?”
“Yes,” Miranda said, “and I talked to her. I still can’t help but feel guilty. Not only was I not there, but—”
“But you were with me,” Andrea finished for her.
“Yes. And darling, know that I don’t regret it one bit. I am glad that we went to the clinic, that I was there to be able to hold Natalie while the doctor looked after you. And I do not regret what happened after. I just got scared for a minute,” she said, turning around to face the young woman. “I’ve never done this before—cared about someone else. I don’t know how to manage the competing priorities, the guilt. How do people do it?”
Andrea smiled and cupped her cheek. “I think it’s hard, and that you have to learn as you go. Maybe you can talk to the girls and be honest with them.”
She shook her head. “I don’t want them to ‘understand’ what I’m going through. I want them to know their mother loves them unconditionally and will always be there for them, no matter what.”
“I understand,” Andrea said, hugging her gently. “What can I do for you?”
“Nothing. It’s actually quite reassuring to have you here,” she said. “Wait, what am I thinking? You should be resting—let me get you that cup of tea you wanted!”
Andrea smiled. “Miranda, you are too sweet. I’ll just grab a bottle of water so I can take my medication, then I’ll be fine.”
“Well, then I’ll at least get that for you. But first,” she said, climbing off the chair and standing in front of Andrea, “I need to tell you how incredible you are.” She leaned forward and kissed her softly. “And, how much I am looking forward to spending more time with you once you’ve healed.”
The younger woman smiled and leaned in for another kiss. “I’m looking forward to that, too.”
== Six Months Later ==
“Oh my, you’re getting so big!” Miranda said as she picked up Natalie. “Your mommy will be home soon, princess.”
Andrea went back to work at Runway when Natalie was only three months old, but she had been looking for another job as a journalist. In the past few months, she was able to write several freelance pieces, enough to build up her portfolio, anyway. Sure enough, when Natalie was six months old, she was offered a position at the New York Mirror as an associate reporter. For the most part, she was able to make her own schedule, but tonight she had to cover an event, and Miranda so graciously volunteered to babysit.
Miranda brought her computer upstairs to the third floor and secured the baby gate in the doorway. Natalie was learning to speed-crawl, and even though she would be watching her like a hawk, she wanted to prevent any accidents.
Caroline and Cassidy had already left for their father’s house, so she was all alone with the baby tonight. Though she tried focusing on work, she couldn’t help but let her mind drift back to the young woman and the life they were creating together.
When Andrea returned home, the house was quiet. She was an hour later than she planned, so she supposed Miranda had already put the baby to bed. A feeling of warmth and absolute love swept over her when she reached the third floor and saw Miranda asleep on the chaise with a sleeping Natalie on her chest. It broke her heart to wake either of them, but she knew Miranda would be stiff in the morning if she spent the night like that.
Carefully, she picked up Natalie and gave her a soft kiss on the forehead before laying her in her crib. She returned to the chaise, where Miranda was still sound asleep. “Honey,” she said, gently laying her hand on the woman’s chest, where the baby was.
Miranda’s eyes fluttered open and she reached out, her hands searching for the baby that was on her chest.
“She’s in the crib,” Andrea reassured her. “I’m sorry I’m late.”
Miranda yawned and pushed herself up to a sitting position. “How did it go?”
“It was boring, but I caught the chairman afterwards and got to talk to him for a few minutes. I went straight to the office to write up the story—and that’s why I’m late.”
“That’s great. Don’t worry about it. She was a perfect angel,” she said. “Are you hungry—did you eat?”
“I did, but I’m still a little hungry. Did Cara leave us anything?”
Miranda chuckled. “She knows you well enough by now. She left enough food to feed an army. Let’s go.”
“Wait, Miranda,” Andrea said, reaching out and taking her hands. “I don’t tell you enough just how much I appreciate you. You were there for me during what was probably the scariest, hardest time of my life, and you kept me going. Without you I wouldn’t be here. I know you made sacrifices in order to help me, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate that.”
“Darling, I love you, you know that.”
“I know, and I love you, too. Just seeing you here, with Natalie, it was overwhelming and I needed to tell you.”
Miranda leaned over and kissed her. “Let’s go have a bite to eat, then we can probably find something to do with our time alone, don’t you think?”