Title: Like Family
Archive: Sure, if you want it... just tell me where you put it
Rating - this one would probably be NC-17?.... not always.. but... just to be safe. LOL
Disclaimer- This is a fan fic, so I obviously don't own anything...except my deep and abiding love of the pair... oh.. and Pava... and Chad are my characters, ;)
A/N - This is the second story in the 'Like' series. It's not as much a 'story' as Like Andrea, just a continuation of that universe.
Part 1: Like Andrea
A/N - Thanks and everlasting gratitude to my all knowing Beta reader Kamouraskan. My stories are always better with Kam's input.
A/N - I took some liberties with this one. The biggest of which would be Macy's closing time. I have totally no idea what their store or corporate policy is on that... I think I've been in Macy's about 3 times in my life... just go with it okay? Thanks so much. :)
Richard and Dottie waited just inside the door for their visitors. He held out his hand slowly. “Hello, Mrs. Priestly.”
Andy closed her eyes and was thankful when Miranda let the ‘Mrs.' thing slide, she knew Miranda hated that. Instead Andy watched the older woman reach out to take her father's hand.
“It's Miranda, Mr. Sachs.” She glanced at Andrea raising a questioning eyebrow.
“Oh!” Andy jumped into action. “Mom, Dad… this is Miranda, Caroline and Cassidy.” She turned to Miranda. “Miranda, girls, these are my parents, Dorothy and Richard.”
“We thought we could talk for a few minutes before we had lunch.” Richard took a deep breath, physically stopped himself from wiping his hand on his pant leg and gestured to a door to his right. “Living room is this way.”
“Of course.” Miranda guided the girls through the door and they all found seats, her on a couch with Andrea snug next to her, the girls on either side of them. Andy's parents sat in chairs across from the couch, and Chad settled on the floor, next to Andy's feet.
The silence stretched on for what seemed like hours. None of them really knew what to say. It was making Andy very nervous though and she began to fidget. Miranda reached over and held a twitching hand before she cleared her throat and spoke quietly. “You have a lovely home.”
Richard tried to ignore his daughter's fingers twined together with this woman's and waited for his wife to acknowledge the compliment. He finally spoke for them both, politely. “Thank you.”
“What are you doing with her?”
“Mother…” Andy began only to be stopped by Miranda gently squeezing her hand.
“It's alright, Andrea.” Miranda looked at Dottie and nodded. “It's a legitimate question.” She wasn't sure exactly what the answer was though. “I think perhaps your mother and I should speak, in private.”
Everyone in the room, except Miranda and Dorothy, gasped at that statement.
“Miranda, I'm not sure that's such a good idea.” Andy turned her doe eyes on her lover. “Are you sure?”
The white haired woman smiled softly and nodded. “Why don't you take the girls and show them your childhood room.” She spoke to Chad . “You and your father can go do…whatever it is men do…” She turned her ice blue eyes back to Andy's mother. “Dorothy and I can go finish making the sandwiches, since Andrea's growling stomach tells me she will soon be cranky.”
“Miranda?” Andy still wasn't sure it was a good idea for the women to talk in private. Her mother seemed to be a nice person, but Andy knew, from experience, she could be vicious at times and Miranda was… well, Miranda. She wondered if she should talk to someone, a therapist maybe, about the seemingly lack of conscience she had about letting Miranda and her mother be alone in the same room. Sighing against the inevitable, Andy stood, then turned to offer her hand to Miranda, pulling the woman up from the couch. She hugged her quickly, whispering, “Defend yourself, but try to take it easy on my mom?”
“Of course, Andrea.”
“I love you.” Andy had no idea why she was saying that so often lately, but since she didn't have to hold it back anymore, every time she felt the urge to say it, she said it.
Miranda nodded, cupping the young woman's cheek, kissing the other gently. “And I you.” She watched as Andy took the girls by the hand and led them upstairs. Turning to find Dorothy on her feet, Miranda raised an eyebrow and pressed her lips together for a second in an expression that, along with the ice in her voice, would have left any Runway employee a quivering mass of goo on the floor. “Shall we?”
Nodding, Dottie led the way to the kitchen, gesturing for Miranda to have a seat at the breakfast bar while she began to assemble the sandwiches. She pulled the loaf of sliced bread to the prep area. She studied the bread wrapper intently for a moment before speaking. “So? What are you doing with her?”
She makes me a better person, whether I want to be or not. Miranda thought, then answered with the only important information. “I love her.”
“How can you say that?” Dottie shook her head. “You are so…”
Miranda waited for it…
“We are more alike than you think, but yes it is easier to focus on the differences.” Miranda sighed. “Don't think I haven't spent sleepless nights thinking about the absurdity of all this. But our relationship is, in fact, our business. I don't owe you an explanation.”
“She's my baby.”
“She's an adult,” Miranda reminded the woman. “Her twenty-seventh birthday is tomorrow.”
“I always worried about people taking advantage of her. New York is such a big city, and she's so…trusting.” Dottie shook her head. “I constantly worry about some man taking advantage of that, and now I have to worry about…”
“Andrea is very smart. You don't have to worry about that.” Miranda shook her head. “And I will never intentionally hurt her. I'll take care of her.”
“And when things don't work out?” Dottie asked, she didn't know much about Miranda, but she knew the woman had been married, and divorced, at least twice. “You don't have the greatest track record.”
“True enough.” I hope I've learned from my mistakes. Miranda turned the questions on Dottie. “How long have you and Richard been married?”
“Thirty years this year.” Dottie acknowledged the luck of that to herself, if no one else. Getting married at sixteen was not something she recommended at all.
“Congratulations.” Tilting her head, Miranda asked. “To what do you attribute the length of your marriage?”
Dottie opened her mouth then closed it. She laughed at herself then told Miranda her standard answer to that particular question. “Great sex.”
Miranda chuckled. “Hmmm…” Explains a lot about my failed marriages I suppose.
Both women turned when there was a knock at the door.
“Hey,” Andy walked into the kitchen. “I left the girls playing with my old dolls… Everything okay in here?”
“Good news.” Miranda accepted a kiss on the cheek. “Your Mother has told me the secret to her lengthy marriage and apparently, you and I are going to be together forever.”
Andy laughed at the strangled sound her mother made. Although the thought made her shudder, Andy knew the standard answer to the question regarding the length of her parent's marriage, and if that actually was the secret; she and Miranda were definitely going to be together forever.
“You ready for lunch?” Dottie held out a plate of sandwiches to her daughter. “Miranda and I can finish our talk later.”
Dottie noticed the ham and cheese sandwiches on the twin's plates had barely been touched. She wished she could tell them apart as easily as Andy seemed to be able to. “Aren't you girls hungry?”
Caroline shrugged and Cassidy pouted. “I like the ones Andy makes better.”
“Cassidy!” Miranda didn't raise her voice, but spoke intensely. “Apologize to Mrs. Sachs this instant. This is a perfectly acceptable meal.” It didn't do her order much good when she looked at her own plate and saw only one bite taken from the sandwich there.
With half a sandwich left on her plate, Andy quietly rose from her seat and went to the prep area. She quickly shaved six slices off the Italian bread and assembled three sandwiches layering, ham, cheese, and thanks to Chad 's propensity for home-made pizza, pepperoni, green peppers, and onions between the buttered bread. She pulled a skillet from the cupboard and twirled it once before she placed it on the stove.
They all watched her some with fascination, some with anticipation and one with pure love in her pale blue eyes. Dottie broke the silence.
“Is this why you keep her around, to cater to you and your children's every whim?”
Miranda raised an eyebrow at that thought and grinned at Andrea's snort of laughter. She turned a ‘look' on Chad who good naturedly nodded.
“Yeah, yeah… I know… man stuff.” He grabbed his sandwich in one hand and his quiet Dad's arm in the other. “C'mon Dad… I don't think we want to be around for this.”
Miranda watched them go. “Your brother is quite intelligent, Andrea.”
Andy shook her head and checked one of the sandwiches in the skillet. “He has his moments.” She kept her attention on the cooking; not wanting to interfere with whatever Miranda was going to say to her mother.
“Andrea's ability to fulfill whims is quite amazing, but it is not the reason I ‘keep her around'.” Miranda placed her napkin precisely on the table next to her plate. “She is an adult and does what she does, because she wants to. She stays, because she wants to, I certainly don't have any control over that decision.” Other than pray daily that she still wants to be with me the next day.
“Yes, you do.” Andy spoke quietly as she gathered the uneaten sandwiches to her own plate then took the clear plates, back to the stove.
Dottie turned her attention from Miranda to Andy and watched as the young woman took the sandwiches off the heat and sliced them, on an angle. She was fascinated to see her daughter flip one side of the sliced sandwich over and fit it back snugly against its mate before she brought them over to the table. She set a plate in front of each girl, with the admonishment, “careful they're hot.” then one in front of Miranda. What surprised Dottie the most was, that cutting the bread on an angle and flipping half like Andy did, made each sandwich resemble a heart.
“Thank you, Andy,” Cassidy's eyes gleamed at the sandwich and she dug in.
“Thank you, Andy,” Caroline smiled at the heart-shape for a second before picking up one half and taking a delicate bite.
“I don't force you to stay, Andrea.” Miranda scoffed. “I don't believe I have the ability to force you to do anything.” She smiled at the familiar sandwich. “Thank you.”
“You're welcome, and of course you force me to stay.” Andy countered as she took her seat. “What would happen if I left? How would you feel?”
I would be devastated . “I believe you know the answer to that.” Miranda wasn't sure where this was going.
“I do, I know because I'd feel the same way.” Andy smiled. “Which is why I'm forced to stay, I would never hurt you like that.”
Something struck Dottie as strange. “Left? Stay?” The sudden realization hit her. “You live together?”
Miranda straightened. “You didn't tell her that, Andrea?”
Andy groaned. “Didn't I?” She sighed. “I thought I did…”
“How long?” Dottie thought she knew.
“Since the stalker was caught.” Andy confirmed. “I just couldn't go back to that apartment… I stayed with Miranda, and have been there ever since.”
“We love having Andy living with us.” Cassidy grinned at the brunette. “She's lots of fun.”
Caroline nodded. “She helps us with our homework.”
“We don't even need a Nanny anymore.” Cassidy finished her grilled sandwich and wiped her mouth.
Dottie tossed her napkin on her plate. “So that saves you a pretty penny, not having to pay a Nanny… do you compensate Andy for her services?”
“Mother!” Andy saw that Caroline was nearly finished with her sandwich and spoke to them gently. “Why don't you girls go find my brother, he can show you around outside. He's probably in the garage.”
They nodded and left quickly.
Before Andy could speak, Miranda answered Dottie's question. “I have not compensated Andrea for anything since she ceased being my assistant.” Turning to face the young woman, Miranda confessed, “I don't think I could afford what you're worth.”
Andy rolled her eyes but blushed slightly and turned her attention back to her mother. “Mom, why would you even say something like that?” It was starting to make Andy sad that her mother just didn't get the fact that Miranda and the girls were her family. Compensation wasn't required for doing things for the people you love.
“Honey, every time we talk on the phone you are always talking about how expensive things are in New York … how hard it is to make ends meet… Your father and I are glad to send you some money to help out… but you should use it to pay bills, not buy fancy clothes.”
“You receive money from your parents?” Miranda was disturbed by this information.
“Yes.” Andy admitted. “But it's not what you think.” She shrugged. “The conversations Ma described happened, but it's not me that talks about making ends meet, it's her. She forever worries about all things financial.” She shook her head at her mom. “When I got checks from you, I just didn't want to fight it. It wasn't worth the effort to fight. I would simply smile, maybe make a token protest then say thank you, deposit the check in my savings account and forget about it.” Andy spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. “You can have every cent of it back if you want Mom, I'll have it transferred into your account right now. I've never touched it.” The stunned expression on her mother's face made her heart a little sad. She's never going to think of me as an adult. “I really am all grown up Ma…I have a job, I can take care of myself. I did in college, I did when I lived with Nate, I did after Nate left… I did before I met Miranda, and I do now.”
“And you would be fine without me.” Miranda filled in the rest of the thought softly.
“No, I don't think I would.” Andy corrected her. “But I'm never going to find out, so it's okay.”
“I'll be back in a minute.” Dottie got up from the table and walked out of the kitchen.
Andy sighed and watched her go. “She isn't an easy nut to crack.”
“She loves you, and doesn't want to see you hurt.” Miranda took advantage of their solitude, reaching out to caress Andy's cheek. “I can forgive her quite a bit because of that.”
Andy leaned into the touch and couldn't stand it anymore. Straddling Miranda's thighs, Andy sighed as the older woman's hands caressed her back. She leaned down, pressing her lips to Miranda's, taking the invitation to deepen the kiss as a soft pressure requested entrance. Burying her fingers in the luscious white hair, Andy lost herself in the sensations until Miranda pushed her away, slightly.
“Andrea,” She tried to catch her breath. “We cannot do this here.” She groaned as Andy's strong hands tipped her head back and the young woman's warm lips attacked her neck. “Andrea… this is not the time or place.”
“I know.” Andy continued her assault. “I know.” She found Miranda's ear and whispered. “I can't help it… you are just too...you.”
“Andrea… what you do to me…” She gave in to the feelings and spent a long moment kissing and being kissed senseless. She was aware of Dorothy returning to the kitchen, but continued the kiss for a short few seconds more before she pulled away to inform Andy they had an audience.
Andy leaned her forehead against Miranda's and before the older woman could speak, smiled, and directed a comment behind her. “Sorry Ma.” Unrepentant brown eyes twinkled into shining blue. With a final, not too short, kiss Andy slowly disengaged from Miranda and moved back to her own seat.
“Do you carry on like this in front of the girls?”
Andy laughed. “C'mon Mom, don't try that on me . Chad and I walked in on you and Dad plenty of times… doing far worse.” She glanced at Miranda and curled her lip slightly. “It was kinda traumatic though… maybe we should…”
“We will continue as we have begun.” Miranda assured her lover. “Anything less would be, unacceptable.” She smiled. “If the girls do ever happen to walk in on anything… disturbing… I'm sure they'll live, most children do.” She could see the question in Dottie's eyes and forced herself not to smile. Yes indeed, Dorothy , she thought. What exactly would I be doing to your daughter that would classify as disturbing? Or even better, what would your daughter be doing to me?
“You know what, Mom?” Andy said, smacking her knees with her palms as she rose from her seat. “Thanks for the lunch, but I think you might need some time to digest all the information we've given you. So I'm going to show Miranda and the girls around the neighborhood, maybe stop at the park for a little while and let the girls play. Do you want us to come back for dinner?”
“Perhaps we could all go out somewhere?” Miranda interjected. “I'd be happy to…”
“No, no… no need for that.” Dottie held up her hand. “I'll cook.” She asked Miranda politely. “Do you or your daughters have any dietary restrictions, allergies?”
Miranda shook her head. “No.” She almost smiled as she saw, from the corner of her eye, Andrea shaking her head negative as well.
“It's okay, Mom.” Andy nodded encouragingly. “Make whatever you want. I'm sure it will be delicious. Do you need anything from the store?”
“No… I'll make do with what I have…”
“Okay then.” Andy offered her hand to Miranda. “We'll be back later this afternoon.”
Dottie immediately began to worry about making fancy dishes for Miranda and her picky daughters. She was so lost in the worry she barely acknowledged the hug Andy gave her to say goodbye.
They found the girls outside with Chad and Richard playing basketball in the driveway. Andy and Miranda both clapped and cheered as Caroline made a basket.
Chad laughed and grabbed the basketball. “We found this in the garage and thought we'd give it a try. Cassidy suggested boys against girls…and well… you just saw the end result, the girls kicked butt.”
“That's my girl.” Andy smiled at Caroline. She ruffled the smiling girl's hair and laughed. “I thought I might show you around the neighborhood. There's a park not too far from here, it used to have a decent swing set. You two know anyone who might be interested in something like that?”
“Yeah!” The girls were excited. Outings, even just to their small backyard, were so much more fun with Andy or their Mom, or both, watching. They actually paid attention to them, not like the Nanny used to do, just sitting on the bench reading at a big public park. It would be different having them both watching when they were ‘out'.
“Great.” Andy winked at them. She turned her attention to her Dad. “We'll be back later. Mom said she was cooking supper.”
“Good.” He pulled her into a hug, turning so he didn't have to look at the white-haired woman watching. “Maybe we can actually visit then?”
“Maybe.” Andy closed her eyes, not so grown up that she didn't enjoy a hug from her Daddy every once in a while.
He released her and watched as the Priestly family walked back to the waiting car. He took a deep breath, realizing that is what they were; a family and that included Andy. “We've lost her, Chad .”
“Why's that?” Chad bounced the ball a few times and shot it into the basket.
“Didn't you see? She has a new ‘family' now. She's…attached to…”He couldn't bring himself to say Miranda's name. “…her.” He shook his head. “She's not my Andy anymore.”
Chad snorted. “Course she is.” He was sure he'd never understand his parents. “So what if she has a new family, it just means we do too.” He shot the ball, bouncing it off the rim. “I, for example, was just playing basketball with my nieces…” He grinned at his father. “…and you were playing with your grand-daughters.”
“What?!” He waved off the idea. “That's just insane.”
“Why?” Chad stuffed the ball under his arm. “If Andy had married the loser chef, you would have welcomed him into this family with open arms…”
“Why? What's different about it?” As if I don't know.
“How can you just accept this?” Richard didn't think he'd ever understand his son.
“It's not easy. The age thing really kind of bothers me.” He shrugged. “But Andy's happy, even I can see that.”
“Yeah, she is.” Richard took and moment to think about that. He was glad that Andy was happy, but then he remembered the perversion that made her that way. With a shake of his head he refused to think about it too hard and slapped the ball out from under his son's arm taking it for a lay-up shot. “C'mon. One more game and then I'm going in to see what your Mom needs done before Andy gets back.”
Chad laughed and crouched in a guarding position. “You are going down, old man.”
“Ha!” Richard took a deep breath, enjoying the first normal moment he'd had since Andy dropped her bomb on their lives. He laughed and bounced the ball on the hot asphalt. “In your dreams, Junior.”
“Wow!” Cassidy's eyes bugged out when she saw the playground equipment in the park. “This is great!” The area was landscaped. A huge section marked with a low brick wall was filled with sand and standing proudly in the middle was an incredibly intricate looking structure made with wooden planks and strong ropes; the nets and bridges seemed endless.
Caroline didn't seem quite as excited.
Andy laughed. “Man, you girls are so lucky. C'mere.” She beckoned them closer and pulled a small bottle of sunscreen from her purse. Dabbing bits on each of their cheeks and noses, she watched them spread the goo evenly over their faces. “They didn't have anything like this when I was growing up.” Andy nodded as they put the excess from their fingers on the backs of their ears and gave them a bit more for the backs of their necks. Winking at them, she gestured for them to go on and play. “We'll be here in the shade watching you, okay?”
“Yeah!” Cassidy grabbed Caroline's hand and began to drag her toward the play area. “C'mon, this looks like so much fun.”
“I'm going to get splinters!” Caroline fussed. Even though the structure looked kinda fun, she knew wood had splinters and rope often had those prickly bits that scraped your skin.
“Oh, you are not!” Cassidy rolled her eyes. “They wouldn't build it if it gave kids splinters.” They were close enough now that she rubbed her hand along one wooden plank. “See… smooth as glass.”
Caroline relented and followed her sister up the small set of steps to the first bridge.
Miranda watched as her daughters started to explore the playground structure then studied the park with some amount of interest. “This area is quite lovely.”
“Yeah.” Andy looked around. “It never seems to be, when you are growing up, but after you leave for a while and come back you see it with different eyes.”
“Mmmm…” Miranda nodded and spoke quietly. “You can never go home, is what they say. I think they mean once you leave, home just really isn't the same anymore.”
“You're my home, Miranda.” She watched the girls playing on the updated playground. “And I'll never leave you.” The silence on her left almost made her turn to look, but she wasn't sure she wanted to see Miranda's face at the moment. There were too many expressions the older woman could be making and Andy knew almost all of them would cause tears to flow. As it turned out, tears began anyway as a petite, elegant hand slipped into her own.
“I don't deserve that kind of loyalty.” Miranda sighed. “But thank you.”
Lacing her fingers with Miranda's, Andy brought the hand up and kissed the back of it. “You do deserve it.” She dared glance into shimmering blue eyes and squeezed the hand in hers, gently, for emphasis. “You most certainly do.”
Unwilling to mar the moment with much needed discussion, Miranda watched the girls, felt the presence of Andrea at her side and thought. This is , she thought, a perfect moment. Turning to look at her lover's profile, blue eyes blinked at the insane beauty she saw there. A perfect moment, because of her, my Andrea.
Andy knew there were so many things they should be discussing, but she simply couldn't bring herself to talk about anything at the moment. So she sat, on the bench in the park, holding Miranda's hand and listening to the sound of their children at play. I'm so lucky… She sighed in contentment. How perfect is this?
Both women watched as the girls ran full pelt toward the bench.
Andy looked around but didn't see any water fountain, she was sure there was one, but she looked at her watch. “We've been here a while.” She glanced at Miranda. “You guys wanna go find something to drink and maybe shop a bit?” Caroline's eyes lit up, and Miranda's showed a spark of wary interest.
Cassidy shrugged. “Okay, I guess so.” She was thirsty enough to agree to just about anything at this point, so long as she got something to drink in the process.
“I know there's a Macy's not too far from here.” Andy nudged Miranda with her shoulder. “Won't it be interesting to go shopping?”
“That will depend entirely on if anyone recognizes me.” Miranda shrugged at Andy's snort of disbelief.
“Recognize you? In Cincinnati ?”
“You actually believe that there won't be at least one person in Macy's that reads Runway?” Miranda sighed. “My picture in on the editorial page, you know.”
“True.” Running her fingers through her hair, Andy asked seriously. “Would you rather not try?”
Miranda exhaled slowly as watched the disappointment begin to show on Caroline's face. “No,” Miranda pushed herself up off the bench. “We can go.” What's the worst that could happen? She thought and quickly squelched the answer from forming.
“Ohhh… look at this one!” Caroline pulled the dress off the rack and held it up against her front. “What do you think, Mom?”
Miranda eyed the lines of the dress thoughtfully. “Acceptable.”
“Excuse me, ladies.” An impeccably dressed man approached them. “The store will be closing in fifteen minutes, so if you would, please finish your selections and make your way to the front checkout registers.”
Andy pressed her lips together and tried not to laugh as Miranda regarded the man much like a scientist would look at a bug about to be dissected.
Miranda's tone was calm, and her words precise. “This store will close when my daughters are finished shopping and not one second sooner.” She turned back to the girls, well Caroline at least, happily looking through the racks. Cassidy didn't seem to have much interest in any of the offerings.
“Um… pardon me, but we have very strict hours.” He wasn't sure what to make of the white-haired woman, especially when she turned her gaze back to him for a long moment, then spoke to the young woman accompanying her.
“Andrea, take care of this please?”
Andy winked and pulled her blackberry phone from her purse as she took the man by the arm and led him away. “I think we should talk in your office.”
He wasn't wearing a nametag, but he obviously worked there, so he was either the manager, or head of security, either way he'd have an office. Andy nodded to herself as he led her to a door marked Manager. Once inside, she told him who Miranda was, asking for his discretion since she was on vacation with her daughters.
The manager explained to her that it was determined that this store operated best on these hours and they didn't start staying open later until school was out for the summer. At this time of year they closed at five pm on weekdays.
Sighing Andy scrolled through the contacts in her phone and found the one she was looking for. Punching the connect button, she held up one finger for him to wait while she made the call. She hoped they were still in the office.
“Susan Kronick's office.”
“Hi Patty, it's…um… Andrea Sachs… calling on behalf of Miranda Priestly.”
“Andy!? Wow, I thought she fired you?”
Laughing, Andy shook her head, even though the woman couldn't see it. “Long story. I'm helping her out for the next few weeks.”
“Oh… she's back in New York , holding down the fort.” Andy bit her lip. “That's kinda why I'm calling. Miranda is on the road, currently she's in Cincinnati and I'm standing in the office of the Manager of Macy's here.” Andy explained to Patty the problem and asked if there was any way to ‘convince' him to let Miranda and the girls shop a while longer; even though it was a corporate policy to close strictly on time.
“Oh… I think we can do that.” Patty assured her. “Hold on just a sec.” Within a minute Patty was back on the phone. She asked which Macy's and Andy told her their location. “I'm dialing now… hold on.”
The phone on the Manager's desk rang and Andy could hear Patty's distant, professional, voice through the phone in her ear. “Please hold for Susan Kronick.” Andy watched as the man's face paled. “Thanks Patty, you're a life-saver.”
“No worries, Andy.” The assistant to the woman in charge of Macy's department store division laughed. “Even I know not to get Miranda Priestly angry at Macy's…” She whispered, “And Ms. Kronick won't deny her, because if she did, Miranda would just go up the line to Thomas or Terry… and if she made it all the way to the CEO…” Patty left that threat hanging and Andy laughed.
It wouldn't have gone that far, Andy knew, she'd met Tom Cole at some of the charity events she'd covered for The Mirror. He'd have fixed the problem before it got all the way to the CEO, but if he'd have been out of the office and it had gone farther...
“Yeah, not a pretty picture.” Andy grinned at the Manager who must be getting an earful, because he wasn't saying a word into the phone, only nodding. “Thanks for your help anyway.”
“Sure.” Patty sounded like she was smiling. “Have a great evening.”
“Yup.” Andy grinned. “You too. Bye now.” Hanging up the phone, Andy waited for the man to finish being yelled at.
“Yes, yes ma'am, I understand.” He hung up the phone and blinked. “Uh… you can tell your boss they can stay as long as they want.”
Andy smiled. My boss . She nodded. “Okay, thank you.” She scrolled through her blackberry contacts again and dialed the number of her favorite New York florist. Tomorrow morning Patty was getting a huge bouquet from Miranda.
Andy approached the trio and raised her eyebrows at the dress Cassidy was dubiously holding up to her. “Oh… nice one Cass.”
Conscious of the security cameras, Andy stopped herself from kissing Miranda on the cheek, but grinned as she delivered the results of her ‘talk' with the Manager. “Shop as long as you want to, Boss.”
Rolling her eyes, Miranda almost, almost grinned at the term then took on a haughty attitude. “Of course.”
Laughing at that, Andy turned to watch the children happily looking through the racks, oblivious to the fact that their mother had just changed the policy of a huge corporation, for them.
“Where are you?”
“um.. yeah, sorry Mom… we're at Macy's the girls are shopping and we lost track of time.” She glanced at her watch and winced. Quarter after five .
I thought they closed at five. Dottie did some quick calculations in her head. “I can hold dinner until six-thirty.”
Andy sighed. “Well… thing is, the girls are looking at dresses and I dunno how long we'll be.”
“I thought they closed at five this month.”
Dottie wasn't sure why Andy didn't seem to think business hours applied to her. There had been at least three people from her church complaining about being pushed out the door at closing time, that store just didn't stay open past five.
Andy sighed. “They won't close until Miranda is finished shopping.” She glanced over at her family, gauging the level of interest. “Can you hold dinner until seven-thirty?” There was silence on the other end. “Mom? You still there?”
“We'll be there as soon as we can.” Andy promised.
Andy gave the phone a funny look, as if she could see her Mother on the screen and figure out why the woman sounded so weird. Shrugging, she tucked the Blackberry back in her purse and perused the ear-ring selection while the girls continued their hunt for the perfect accessories to complement their dress selections.
Richard and Dorothy again met their daughter as if she were a visitor in their home.
Andy inhaled deeply and smiled as she hugged her mom. “Yum…roast. Thanks for holding dinner for us, Ma. It smells great.”
Dottie returned the hug. “It will be finished in a few minutes.”
Richard hugged his daughter quickly. “Let's go to the living room while we wait.”
They all went in and took the same seats they'd had earlier.
“Mom,” Caroline asked Miranda. “Can I go outside and play basketball for a while?”
“Me too?” Cassidy asked hopefully.
Chad saw the opportunity to make his escape. “I can go out with them.” He stood. “We don't have all that long before supper anyway, but we could play for a few minutes.”
“Very well.” Miranda nodded to her children and gave the young man a smile. “Thank you.”
Winking, Chad guided the girls out of the room.
“So,” Dottie leaned back and crossed her arms in front of her. “How did you manage to stay at Macy's after hours? They have a very strict closing policy.” She glared at Miranda. “Several people from my church have actually been pushed out of the store so that they could close on time. It's impossible to stay after hours.”
Miranda regarded the confrontational woman calmly. “I asked Andrea to handle it, and she did.” She turned to smile at her partner. “I've found that Andrea can often manage the impossible.”
Andy nudged shoulders with Miranda. “Thanks, Boss.”
“Boss?” Richard narrowed his eyes at his daughter.
“It's a nickname.” Andy laughed. “It's just about the only one I think I'd be able to get away with.”
“I always knew you were intelligent.” Miranda slid her arm around Andy's, noticing Richard look away from the gesture.
“So,” Dottie turned to her daughter. “Explain how you managed it.”
Andy shrugged. “When the manager wouldn't listen to reason, I made a phone call.”
“Reason?” Dottie looked skeptical.
Nodding, Andy told her the story. “When I explained to him who Miranda was, and he still didn't understand that he needed to stay open, I called someone who could tell him to.”
“Who did you call Andrea, Thomas?”
“Nah… I called Susan's office.” Andy ran her fingers through her hair. “I know Patty better than I do Tom's assistant.” She redirected her attention to her Mom. “I called the assistant to the woman on the Board of Directors in charge of Macy's Department Store Division. She explained the problem to her boss and the boss in turn called the manager of the store we were shopping in and voila, Miranda and the girls got to shop.”
“What makes you so special?” Dottie glared at Miranda. “Why should you get to break the rules?”
“Mom.” Andy spoke quietly. “Miranda is special. She is special to the fashion industry because of the position she holds at Runway. The decisions she makes there effect millions of dollars and countless jobs. There is no way I would ever be able to explain all the reasons she is special to me, but if there is anything I can do to give her just a bit of happiness, I will.” She felt a tiny tightening around her arm and leaned closer to her love. “She works all the time. All the time, do you understand? No breaks, no time off… the only time she ever takes off is if the girls, or I, need something. As Editor-in-Chief at Runway it is impossible for her to shop in public and so she never gets to shop with the girls. You can gripe about it all you want, but I'm glad I had a part in making that happen tonight.”
Dorothy's forehead wrinkled even more than it normal. She dismissed all the other blabbering her daughter had done and focused on what was important to her. “You don't take your daughters shopping?” Those were some of her favorite memories, taking Andy shopping.
The timer went off on the stove and Dottie stood, pushing herself off the chair with a slight grunt. “Dinner will be ready shortly.” She put her hand on her husband's shoulder. “Would you please escort Miranda to the dining room?” She turned to her daughter. “Go let Chad and the girls know to come in and wash up…then come back and help me set the table.”
“Sure Mom.” Andy untangled her arm from Miranda's and stood, automatically holding her hand out for Miranda to assist her up from her seat.
Miranda glanced at the hand and rose smoothly from her sitting position without touching anything with her hands. She smiled at the man who very courteously offered her his elbow.
Andy watched as her father linked arms with her partner, stiffly walking with the older woman to the dining room. Odd. She couldn't think about it for long because her mom was already in the kitchen so she went quickly to complete her task and help with serving the meal.
“Your wife seems to have several problems with me.” Miranda commented as he politely pulled her chair out for her. “Your son is trying to deal with whatever issue he has with me.” She watched him settle into his customary seat at the end of the table carefully. “I get the idea you haven't decided exactly what to think of all this but you do have a major issue with me as well...”
“Dot worries.” He sighed. “She does have concerns...”
Obviously. Miranda thought then spoke. “And you?”
“I'm trying to reconcile how terrified Andy was of you when she was working for you, with how she interacts with you now,” He lied.
Well, she thought . That is something to consider. She knew it went deeper than that though and she waited for him to continue.
He fiddled with his silverware for a moment, unwilling to look at the woman. “She, Andy, slammed a taxi door in my face once, because of you.”
“You were stuck in Florida and wanted to come home… Andy was frantic trying to find a way to get you back to New York .” He shrugged. “She thought she was going to get fired, or murdered, because she couldn't find any pilot willing to fly into a hurricane to get you.”
“She was,” Miranda confessed. “I was very angry that I'd missed my daughter's recital.” Miranda knew the truth and admitted. “Anyone else would have been fired.”
“You were… even then?” He ground his teeth together; the thought of them together making him a little nauseous. “While she worked for you?”
“No… definitely not.” Miranda assured him. “I was still married at that point, and I would never do anything inappropriate with an assistant.” She exhaled softly. “We didn't begin an actual relationship until much later… after my divorce… after she left Runway.” It was almost a lie. She knew how she'd felt about Andrea the entire time the young woman had worked for her. She knew if she'd been given the right opportunity, things might have been… different. “I love your daughter, Mr. Sachs.” She gave him a glare that made most Runway employees shake. “Nothing will change that.” Her voice lowered and intensified the next word. “Nothing.”
Richard nodded. There was nothing he could say to that; he only knew that he felt the same. He loved Andy and nothing would change that. Not even… he swallowed against the bile rising in his throat and tried to smile at the guest in his home.
“This looks great, Ma.”
Dorothy regarded her daughter's thinness. “Guess it's been a while since you've had a home cooked meal.”
“Mom.” Andy began but then the girls and Chad stomped in through the backdoor. Caroline's eyes widened.
“Wow!” She regarded the roast with awe. “That's huge!”
Cassidy agreed. “Peggy never makes them that big!”
Andy pressed her lips together and her eyes closed for the length of her sigh. “Peggy only cooks for four.” She spoke logically. “There are seven of us tonight.” She gave her Mom a little smile. “And Mom knows I love beef stew made from the leftovers.” She bumped the woman gently with her hip. “Is that part of my birthday meal?”
Dottie smiled. “That was the plan.”
Andy winked at the girls. “Why don't you guys go wash up? Your Mom is already in the dining room.”
“C'mon girls.” Chad gestured for them to follow him. “I'll show you where the bathroom is.”
Dorothy barely waited for the trio to leave the kitchen before turning on her daughter. “Peggy?”
With a deep breath, Andy nodded. “The cook…housekeeper.”
Dottie opened her mouth, but then her jaw snapped closed and she shook her head. “Help me get this to the table.”
Without another word, Andy picked up the side dish bowls and carried them into the dining room.
Chad laughed as the young trio entered the dining room. “Remind me never to play basketball with these guys again… they kick my butt.”
Miranda smiled at her daughters as they took their seats at the table. “They are rather competitive.” She heard the footsteps approaching and cleared her throat, speaking clearly as first Dorothy and then Andrea appeared. “It's probably Andrea's fault.”
A furrow appeared between her mother's eyes but Andy laughed. “Great, what am I being blamed for now?” She grinned at Miranda. “Earth rotating too fast for you?”
Miranda laughed, and everyone at the table was amazed at the sound of amusement in the older woman's voice. “Yes!” She winked at her young partner. “I believe it should be moving slightly slower. See to it, will you?”
Nodding, Andy set the dishes on the table and moved to sit next to Miranda. “Yep… I'll get right on that.” She reached for a serving dish when Dottie cleared her throat. “Oh,” she sighed. “Sorry.” Andy placed her hands in her lap and bowed her head as Dottie said Grace. She noticed that Miranda did not bow her head, nor did the girls, but they all remained quiet and respectful, for which Andy was truly grateful.
“This is delicious, Dot.” Richard smiled at his wife.
“It is quite good.” Miranda nodded.
Dorothy practically sneered. “I don't suppose it's as good as your cook could make it.”
She hates that I'm rich. How odd. Miranda thought, then decided to have a little fun. “No doubt any of them would be able to make it taste as good or better.” She relented when she saw the pleading look in Andy's eyes, smiled and smoothly continued. “But none of them would make it with as much love.” She tilted her head at the chef. “Thank you.”
Dottie opened her mouth to speak, snapped her jaw shut and shook her head before answering quietly, “You're welcome.”
“It was really good.” Caroline wiped her mouth and pushed her plate a little away from her. “I liked the carrots, not mushy like Peggy had them last time.”
Cassidy nodded. “Yeah, and the potatoes didn't fall to little bits off the fork either.” She also pushed her plate away.
Andy spoke quietly to the girls. “It was because Peggy was busy that day. She put everything in the crockpot and let it cook, instead of adding the veggies later.”
“I don't remember that,” Miranda commented, took one last bite of carrot, leaving just a little bit on her plate, then copied the girls, pushing the plate slightly away from her.
“You had a dinner to go to.” Andy said. “James Holt, I think.” She shrugged. “Peggy had a dental appointment that afternoon, so I came home early from work to be there when the girls got home from school.” She smiled at Miranda. “No biggie.”
“You missed work to watch the girls?” Dorothy was appalled. “What did your boss say?!”
“I believe he said ‘See ya tomorrow'.” Andy laughed. “Mom, I'm a reporter, writer, I can do my job from anywhere as long as I have a laptop and internet access.” She shrugged. “I don't have to be sitting at my desk at the office to write, heck… I finished one article on the plane here.” Then she grimaced, she shouldn't have brought up the plane.
“Weren't you afraid of someone reading it over your shoulder?” Dottie was intrigued. “Richard is always saying he can't really do any work on the planes, because of other people watching.”
He agreed. This, at least, was a safe topic. “Even when I fly first class, there isn't exactly room to work.”
“Well…. Um…” Andy didn't know exactly how to tell them.
Miranda helped, straightforward as always. “It was a private plane.”
Chad 's eyes widened. “Whoa… you have a plane?!”
“No,” Miranda smiled at the young man. “I have friends who have planes.”
“Someone let you borrow their plane?” Dorothy was completely amazed by that.
“She wasn't using it.” Miranda was completely casual about the whole thing.
“She?” That made Richard a little nervous. Who was this ‘she' that Miranda was close enough to that she would lend her plane. How many women does this woman… know??
“Yeah,” Andy sighed. “It's um… Donnatella Versace's plane.”
“You know um...her… well enough for her to lend you her plane?” Chad was intrigued.
Andy laughed. “Miranda knows everyone well enough for them to lend her anything she wants. No one can refuse Miranda.”
Dorothy narrowed her eyes. “So you get her plane and she gets to be in your magazine, is that it?”
Andy snorted and it was Miranda's turn to laugh. “Not at all. No one gets their designs featured in Runway unless they are what I want in Runway.” She glanced at Andrea and her laugh turned to a mere wicked grin. “I can tell you that the issue after Paris put Christian Dior and Christian Lacroix on the alert. They would have done pretty much anything to get on the pages of Runway…” She watched Andy's eyes widen. She patted the young woman's arm. “I made it up to them, the next month seventy five percent of the magazine was dedicated to their designs.”
“Mr. Garavani was just happy you liked the Paris show,” Andy smiled. “He's such a nice man.”
“Who's that?” Richard asked happy the conversation shifted to a man his daughter knew.
“Valentino Garavani.” Miranda smiled. “He creates quite a few pieces for me personally, but I've always found his designs delightful.”
“Valentino.” Dorothy echoed quietly.
Chad was laughing now. “Great, my sister is hob nobbing with the rich and famous, flying on private planes, and living in a million dollar house with servants…”
“Twelve.” Miranda corrected absently.
“What?” Chad stopped laughing.
“Huh?” Andy turned toward Miranda. “Twelve?”
Nodding once, Miranda took a sip of her water. “After the divorce I thought I might like a change, I had the house appraised, in preparation for sale. The number they gave me was twelve…million, not one.”
Andy willed herself to keep a straight face, and keep breathing. Twelve million? Geez, I knew one sounded a little low, but twelve?! It was a daunting thought, but then she laughed. “Well, it is a nice house.”
“Yes,” Miranda agreed. “It's perfect for us. I'm glad I didn't sell it.”
“Me too!” Caroline was shocked. “I love our house.”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “I certainly would have discussed it with you if I'd decided to actually sell it.”
“Discussed it? With the children?” Dorothy didn't think that sounded right.
“Of course,” Miranda regarded the woman in surprise. “It's their home too.”
Andy rolled her eyes. “Mom doesn't believe children have any rights when it comes to their own lives.”
Chad snorted. “Amen to that.” He couldn't count the number of times they'd been told what was going to happen, not asked, not discussed with… just told ‘this is how it's going to be'.
“Children need boundaries.” Dottie said. “They can't be allowed to make decisions for adults. It's the adults that make the decisions for them. It's up to the parents to do what's best for their children.”
“I agree.” Miranda smiled at the surprise on Dottie's face. “We teach them what they need to know to make their own way in the world, then we have to let them do it. The girls know that when they turn eighteen they're going to have to earn their own living.” She chuckled. “Well, not exactly on their own, and not exactly that soon.” She leveled a look at her children. “I will, of course, pay for their schooling, but it's up to them to learn something useful and make a living for themselves after that.”
Dottie looked at the twin heads nodding. “You want that?”
“Oh yes,” they said in chorus.
“What will you do?” Dorothy was appalled that Miranda would raise the girls in an environment of such luxury and then just toss them out onto the street.
Both girls shrugged and Cassidy spoke. “We're only eleven, we still have time to decide.”
Andrea and Miranda glanced at each other, knowing both girls knew exactly what they wanted to do when they got older. Cassidy was totally enamored with the theater and film; sound design especially. Helping the drama instructor at their school had only given her an appetite for more. Caroline was very much going to follow in her mother's footsteps. She'd told them both in no uncertain terms that she was going to go into publishing and, when she got the chance, was fascinated watching Miranda with The Book.
Andy noticed that everyone was finished with their meals. “Maybe we should go back into the living room for a while?”
“Oh,” Dottie spoke up. “I made dessert.”
Richard and Chad 's faces lit up, but Andy, Miranda, Caroline and Cassidy waved off the suggestion all with similar murmured comments. “I'm stuffed”, “I couldn't possibly”, “No way”, and “Perhaps later”.
Dorothy wasn't inclined to believe them, most of the meal on their plates were gone, but they hadn't taken much in the first place. “Okay then, maybe later.” She stood and began to clear the plates, gesturing to Andy for help.
“Can we go upstairs and play with the dolls some more?” Both girls looked hopefully at their Mother.
Miranda turned to Andy and raised an eyebrow. “Andrea?”
Surprised at being asked, Andy shrugged. “Sure.” She watched as the girls clambered up the stairs.
“I think I'll just step outside for some fresh air,” Miranda said casually.
Andy grinned and spoke quietly as the white-haired woman moved away from the table. “Tell Nigel I said hi.” She watched as Miranda stumbled a bit and looked back over her shoulder with an unreadable expression. Andy just grinned. “Busted.”
Rolling her eyes, Miranda chuckled and continued out the door.
“Busted?” Richard didn't understand what Andy had caught the woman doing.
Laughing, Andy piled the dirty plates on top of each other. “She's going to call the guy she left in charge at Runway, to see how things are going. They have explicit instructions not to call her, but she can call them.” They walked into the kitchen. “I have to say I'm surprised she's waited this long.”
“Miranda Priestly's office.”
“Put me through to Nigel.” Miranda could almost see Emily's eyes widening.
“Yes, Miranda.” Emily hoped to whatever God there was, Nigel was still in his office. She saw the flashing light on the phone stay steady on and breathed a sigh of relief…then grabbing a folder; she decided to go watch the fun.
The man wiped his hand over his bald head and took a deep breath. “Miranda, how wonderful to hear from you. How's your vacation going?”
“Spare me the small talk, Nigel. How are things there?”
“Oh you know… the usual. We'll work it out.” He looked at the chaos his office had become in just one day. He couldn't recall ever seeing Miranda's office in such disarray. He knew Serena's office wasn't much better at this point. “Serena will be sad to have missed your call. She's at the charity dinner.”
“Yes, I'm sure she'll be heartbroken. I'll have to remember to send her next year as well.” Miranda pursed her lips. “Inform Emily to make a note of it.”
“Uh…” Nigel's eyes widened. “Inform…”
“Yes, yes… inform Emily.” Miranda sighed. “I know she's standing right there, she never could resist watching me tear into anyone…tell her to stop hiding her smile with the folder and make a note of Serena's attendance at next year's dinner.”
Nigel laughed. “Okay, I'll tell her.” He passed on the information grinning as Emily dropped the folder away from her face and practically ran back to her desk. “So, really, how is the vacation going?”
“It's going.” Miranda refused to give him any more information than that, yet.
“That good, huh?” He shook his head. “Well, try to at least relax a little.”
“I will try.” She sighed, knowing if there were a major problem Nigel would tell her about it, at least she thought he would. “Good night, Nigel.”
As soon as the call was disconnected, Miranda found herself wrapped in long lanky arms. “Mmmm….” She leaned back into the embrace.
“So how are things back at the office?” Andy nuzzled the woman's neck, inhaling the wonderful scent of shampoo and Miranda's signature fragrance. Not really caring about Runway at the moment, except that it gave them an excuse to be outside together.
“Nigel claims work is going smoothly.” Miranda had her doubts. “I thought I could hear a bit of tension in his voice though.”
“Mmmm… I hear a bit of tension in yours.” Andy turned the woman in her arms. “Let me help you with that…” She pulled Miranda to her, feeling the editor's arms slide around her waist. Pressing their lips together she moaned and deepened the kiss. They both were breathing raggedly when they parted. Tipping her head to touch her forehead to Miranda's, Andy waited until their breathing calmed down. “How about, we go back inside and enjoy a small slice of pie, some coffee and a little awkward conversation, before we head back to the rooms?”
“Sounds hideous.” Miranda kissed her partner to take the sting out of her words. “Why don't we skip the pie, most of the conversation, settle for some coffee…and get back to the rooms as soon as we can?”
“It has been a long day.” Andy conceded. “The girls are probably tired.”
“Mmmm… probably so.” Miranda moved to kiss the young woman in her arms, amazed when Andrea pulled away from her.
“Um… I need to tell you something.”
“Oh God…what now?” Miranda winced at the tone in her voice and held on as Andy tried to move farther away. “Wait.” The older woman stepped closer and laid her head on Andy's shoulder. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to sound like that.” She looked up and cupped the young woman's cheek gently. “What is it, Andrea?”
“Mom told me… while we were clearing the dishes from dinner…” Andy wasn't sure how to break this news to Miranda. “After I called this morning to tell her that I'd be home for my birthday, she called all the family and…um… they will all be here tomorrow afternoon.” She could see the shock on Miranda's face and imagined a similar one on her face when she found out. “I'm sorry, Miranda. I didn't know she would do that.”
“So…” Miranda read Andrea's nervousness and knew why. “Dorothy requested, nicely, that my daughters and I not attend your family birthday celebration.”
“Um…something like that, yeah.” Andy felt Miranda stiffen in her arms and shook her head. “I told her, no way. If she wants me here, she'll have to deal with you guys being here too…if you want to be.” Andy kissed Miranda lightly. “It could get weird…I honestly don't know how the rest of my family will react.”
“Who will be here?” Miranda asked. “People you are close to?” It would hurt, but Miranda knew she'd do whatever Andrea wanted. “If you would rather spend the day with your…” She hesitated. “… your family, then I'm sure the girls and I can find something else to do.”
Andy shook her head. “ You are my family, Miranda, you and the girls.” She sighed. “My only concern is that with so many people, knowing, about us, the press might get hold of it.”
“So many?” Miranda's eyes widened.
“Mmmm….” Andy pulled the woman close to her. “My aunts, uncles, cousins….my grandma.”
“Grandma?” Miranda laughed helplessly. “How much older than her am I?”
“My Dad's Mom, is nineteen years older than you.” Andy smiled whispering. “She could be your mother…” Grinning at the small snort Miranda made at that, Andy winked. “Wait until you meet her. You're gonna love her.”
That's what you said about the chili. “So you want us there?” Miranda smiled at the literal love of her life.
“Always.” Andy moved in for a kiss. “Always…” Kiss. “always…” Kiss. “always…”
Miranda reached up, buried her fingers in Andrea's soft hair, held the young woman still and looked into those deep dark eyes. “I love you, Andrea.”
Andy smiled. “And I you.” She kissed Miranda again quickly and rolled her eyes. “C'mon, let's go get that coffee.”
They were all waiting on the porch for the car to arrive when Andy told the girls about tomorrow.
“So you're gonna have a party?” Caroline's eyes widened. “With all your relatives?”
Andy nodded. “Yep, Ma invited them all over for my birthday.”
“Cool!” Cassidy grinned. “Do you have any cousins our age?”
Turning to her mother Andy asked, “How old are Aunt Donna's kids now?”
“Nine, ten and twelve.” Dorothy was a little concerned. It seemed like Andy was assuming Miranda and her daughters would be here tomorrow. “They are kinda mean though…”
Andy remembered the children when they were smaller and that they were quite the handful. “Well, if they are too mean to the girls, we'll just leave.”
Dorothy was appalled. “You can't leave your own party!”
Now Andy's eyes gleamed. “Wanna bet?” She sighed. “We'll be here tomorrow, Mom… ten-thirty…maybe eleven… It's been a long day so I'm sure we'll sleep in tomorrow.” She winked at the girls. “That's what vacations are for right?”
“Yes!” Cassidy grinned and Caroline nodded in agreement.
Chad stretched and yawned. “It's still pretty early but I'm beat.” He tilted his head at his sister. “See you tomorrow.”
“Yep.” She gave him a quick hug. “We'll probably get here before you wake up.”
“Ha!” He scoffed. “Mom will have me up at the crack of dawn scrubbing something… you know how she is when we're having company.”
Andy smiled. “Better you than me, brother.”
“Now now,” Richard put his arm around his wife. He wanted to take his mind off the image of Andy ‘sleeping in' with Miranda beside her. “Your Mom isn't that bad and you know it.” He watched both his children roll their eyes and knew they were more right than wrong about his wife's near obsessive cleaning, especially for company.
Cassidy spoke up. “Car's here.”
Miranda stepped up next to Andy. “Thank you for your hospitality.” She offered her hand to the older Sachs'.
Richard took her hand automatically, then realized what he was doing and stammered a bit, releasing the hand quickly. “You're…um… welcome.”
“Oh…” Dorothy spoke up. “Tomorrow… it's going to be very laid back… grilling in the backyard type stuff… so you might want to wear something a little more…”
“Casual?” Miranda smiled. “Oh, I think I can do that.”
“See!” Andy laughed. “I told you I should have gotten you a Northwestern sweater.”
Miranda leaned into her love's lanky body. “Perhaps I'll just wear yours.”
Andy laughed harder and gently tightened her arm around Miranda's shoulders. “See ya tomorrow, Mom.”
“Yes,” Miranda had a mischievous glint in her eye. “See you tomorrow… Mom.” She watched as Dorothy blinked, the woman was unable to form a response to that. Miranda urged Andy toward the car. “Shall we?”
“Yep.” Andy was trying her hardest not to laugh at the expression on her mother's face and she actually made it all the way until the car door shut behind them. “Oh my god, Miranda… did you have to do that?!” She could barely breath she was laughing so hard. “Were you trying to give my mother a heart attack?!”
Shaking her head negative, Miranda shrugged. “Just trying to keep things in perspective.”
“Mom?” Dorothy watched the car pull away. “Richard did you hear what… that woman, called me?”
“I heard.” Richard didn't think it was funny at all, but he conceded as inappropriate as it seemed to him; it may well be… weirdly, accurate. He glared at his son who was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. “This isn't funny.”
“Dad, it's hilarious.” Chad grinned at his parents. “Told ya! You're instant grandparents…” He wandered toward the door, speaking absently. “I have nieces… very cool.” He chuckled as he left his parents standing speechless on the porch, only pausing at the door long enough to call back over his shoulder, “Good night.”
Once again the Priestly family found themselves sitting on the back porch swing watching the boats go by. Even though it was late, the lights on the boats were soothing to watch.
“I think it's time for you girls to take baths… you'll want to be fresh for the party tomorrow. Playing at the park and playing basketball are not the cleanest of activities.” Miranda gave them a choice. “Do you want to clean up tonight or tomorrow morning before we go to Andrea's parents?”
They agreed in chorus. “Tomorrow.”
Andy nodded. “We have to leave by ten-thirty, at the latest.” She ruffled Cassidy's hair. “Mom will expect us for lunch before everyone else arrives. Gram Sachs may already be there too.”
“Okay Andy.” Cassidy hugged the dark-haired woman. “We'll be ready.”
“Yeah.” Caroline nodded. “We won't sleep that late!”
Miranda laughed. “I might.” She saw all their shocked faces. They all knew she never slept late. Winking at the girls, Miranda focused on the young woman that shared her bed. “It may be Andrea's birthday…but it's my vacation as well.”
The girls were in bed, and now Andy snuggled against Miranda in their bed too. “Were you serious about wanting to sleep in?”
“Mmmm…” Miranda concentrated on the feeling of Andrea curling around her. “It depends on how late I stay up.”
“But you are on vacation, so you don't have The Book to look over until the wee hours of the morning.” Andy chuckled and ran her index finger along Miranda's collarbone hooking the finger under the spaghetti strap of the older woman's nightgown. “Whatever could we do to keep you awake?”
“Hmmm… nothing immediately comes to mind.” Miranda grinned. “Do you have a suggestion?”
Brown doe eyes darkened. “Oh… I can probably think of a thing or two.”
“Oh?” Miranda smirked. “Care to elaborate on that?”
Andy shifted sliding her leg between Miranda's smooth, surprisingly muscular, thighs. “Don't mind if I do…”
“Andrea…” Miranda closed her eyes as long fingers slowly slid the straps of her nightgown down over her shoulders, warm lips exploring the expanse of exposed skin across her shoulders.
“You are so beautiful.” Andy whispered. “Sometimes I can't take my eyes off you.”
Miranda sighed. “I won't always be.”
“Yes,” Andy corrected. “You will.” She pushed the lingerie down, bunching it at Miranda's waist. Soft hands roamed the newly exposed curves. “You will never be anything less than beautiful to me.”
“You'll get tired of me soon enough.” Miranda was sure. They all got tired of her eventually.
“I won't.” Andy promised, adoration tingeing her voice. “I won't ever.”
Miranda found the strength to stop Andrea's exploration. “You cannot mean that, you can't know that.”
“I do.” Andy nodded. “I do know it, and I do mean it. I love you, Miranda, for as long as I live.”
“No,” Miranda closed her eyes. “Please don't say that.” She was realistic enough to know the most likely outcome of this relationship. “When I… go, you must not be alone, find someone for companionship. Please, promise me…”
“No.” Andy refused. “I won't. But you are talking like you'll go first and you don't know that is true.” She covered Miranda's mouth with her fingers. “You don't know, Miranda. We never know. I could step off a curb tomorrow and that will be it.” Sliding, her hands into the silvery white hair Andy kissed Miranda deeply. “Miranda?”
Sighing, Miranda gently traced Andy's profile. “Yes, Andrea?”
“I don't want to talk anymore.”
No more talking . Miranda agreed completely. The idea that Andrea might…go, before her was not something she ever wanted to contemplate but she knew Andrea had a point, you never really knew what was going to happen. With that concept in her mind, Miranda made a decision. No more waiting .
Andy felt Miranda sliding out of bed, one bleary eye opened and she turned her head to look at the clock. Ugh…too early. It was just after eight in the morning and Andy knew that was actually fairly late, for them. Even the girls would be up soon. But it's my birthday, and we're on vacation! Shifting to her back she resolutely closed her eye, willing herself to drift off again. Miranda's quick return wasn't unexpected, but the light pressure between her breasts was unusual. Blinking her eyes open, she found Miranda's smiling face, and then nearly touching her chin to her chest, Andy saw a small box sitting there.
“Happy Birthday, Andrea.” Miranda's blue eyes twinkled as she opened the box, presenting it to the still sleepy young woman.
“Miranda?” Andy blinked several times, not quite believing what she saw. “Is that a…”
“Ring?” Miranda finished the question and answered it. “Yes, it is.”
“Um… what does it…?” Andy shook her head, not daring to hope. “What does it mean?”
“It means a lot of things, to me.” Miranda watched Andrea's face closely. “It means, it's your birthday,” She plucked the glittering jewelry from its box. “It means… I love you. It means I never want to be without you.” She raised Andrea's left hand and gently slid the ring on the young woman's finger. “It means…” She took a deep breath to steady herself. “I would be greatly honored if you would agree to marry me.”
“Miranda…” Andy was breathless, mesmerized by the sparkling ring; one large diamond flanked by two smaller but no less sparkling ones. “You know, the entire time Nate and I were together, I never once thought about marrying him, not even for a second.” She shifted her eyes from the glittering jewelry to Miranda's glittering eyes. “And almost the entire time I've been with you… it's nearly all I dream about.” Andy smiled a full bright smile. “I love you Miranda Priestly, and I never want to be without you.”
Miranda tilted her head and grinned. “Is that a yes?”
Andy laughed. “That is a definite, oh my friggin' god…Yes!”
Andy pulled Miranda down on top of her and kissed her, then kissed her again… then began to nuzzle the woman's neck, nipping gently at the smooth skin there, unwilling to mar perfection. It was glorious, this feeling of being loved, loved enough that Miranda actually wanted to make their relationship… She didn't know what the correct word was. … Official? She had just hooked her finger under the straps on Miranda's gown when they heard the small knock at the door.
They froze, Andy holding Miranda on top of her as Caroline's voice preceded her by seconds into the room “Cass is hogging the bathroom, can I use….” She blinked at the position the adults were in. “…yours?”
Andy never took her twinkling eyes off Miranda's. “Sure Munchkin, go ahead.” She was totally glad that Miranda was lying on top of her, since she was still naked from last night's fun, and Miranda had put her gown back on, probably when she got up to get the ring.
“Uh… okay.” Caroline made a bee-line to the bathroom, closing the door quickly.
Miranda, heard the water begin to run and let her head fall to Andrea's chest. “Tell me why didn't we lock the door again?”
Andy laughed. “Because we have the house to ourselves and the doors downstairs were locked.” They rarely locked the bedroom door when they were home so the trend continued here.
“Right.” Miranda sighed. “Ah well, she'll get over it.”
“Get used to it, you mean.” Andy's eyes held merriment. “Maybe that'll teach her not to come in so quickly.” She winked at her fiancé and whispered. “It could have been worse.”
It could have been worse. Miranda considered that and groaned playfully. “Oh, the therapy bills!”
Andy laughed and kissed the woman above her lightly. “Let me up, I'm going to go for a quick run.”
Andy's feet hit the pavement in a comfortable rhythm, leaving her a lot of time to concentrate on other things. I'm going to marry Miranda! That thought made her smile and a laugh bubbled up through her. The irony wasn't lost on her, Miranda had, she thought, hated her from the beginning. The fact remained; I'm going to marry Miranda!
Just thinking it made her feel energized; she knew at this very moment she could run forever. The only problem with that was Miranda wasn't here with her.
Caroline listened at the door for a long moment before she emerged from the bathroom. Her mother was still in the bed, still in her nightgown, but Andy was nowhere to be seen. “Um… where's Andy?”
Miranda gestured for the girl to come closer and patted the mattress next to her. When the child climbed onto the bed, Miranda wrapped her arm around the small shoulders. “I have asked Andrea to marry me.” She felt Caroline go very still.
“What did she say?” Caroline swallowed hard. Mom asked Andy to marry her and Andy is gone now?
“She said…” Miranda inhaled deeply. “…Yes.”
Caroline gasped, wiggled free from her mother's grasp, and ran from the room.
Miranda watched her go and wondered if she should go after the girl, but before she could move both the girls ran back into the room. They jumped onto the bed and surrounded their Mom. Cassidy breathed her question.
“Is it true?” Her eyes searched their mother's face. “Are you and Andy getting married?”
Miranda nodded. “Yes, it's true.”
Cassidy's smile was brilliant. “Excellent!” She threw her arms around her Mom. “That is so great!” The girl looked around. “Where is she?”
Miranda smiled. “She went for a run.”
Caroline let a little tiny smile slip onto her face then she controlled it. “What are we supposed to call her?”
Miranda was silent for a long moment; she didn't really know the answer to that.
Andy walked into the room and stopped short. The sight of Miranda and the girls there made her heart do a double beat. “Hey there.”
Miranda unconsciously licked her lips. “The girls have a question.”
“Oh?” Andy ruffled her bangs, wincing at the sweat there. “What's that?”
“What are we supposed to call you?” Caroline asked and Cassidy nodded, also wanting to know.
Blinking, Andy used the time it took for her to move across the room and settle on the end of the bed to think about that. “Well…” she began slowly. “There is a name I'm fairly fond of.” Grinning at the trio, she shrugged. “How about calling me…Andy?” She grimaced as she caught a whiff of herself. “Whew… I totally need a shower, like…now.” She laughed, “It won't take me long.”
Miranda nodded and watched as Andrea entered the bathroom, she then urged the girls up. “Why don't you two go finish getting ready?”
Andy called back through the door, “I told Mary we'd be down for breakfast in about half an hour.” She started the water running and turned to get a towel, surprised to find her arms full of Miranda. “Whoa… Miranda… don't.” Andy pushed her away slightly. “I'm all sweaty and gross.”
Leaning close, Miranda inhaled deeply. “Oh no… You always smell wonderful.”
Rolling her eyes at that. “You might think so, but I doubt my Mom would agree.” She kissed Miranda quickly and moved toward the shower. “Just let me rinse off okay?”
Miranda followed her. “Let me help.”
Andy laughed. “Miranda, name one time that you ‘helping' me shower has been faster than me showering alone.” She waited for about ten seconds for an answer. “Exactly.” She winked. “Won't take me long.”
Even though Andy hurried, Miranda was already washed and dressed when she exited their bathroom. “Miranda?”
“Mmmm…” The white haired woman sat on the end of their bed. “I used the girl's bathroom.”
“Bbb…but…” Andy blinked at the older woman. “You… uh... you're wearing…”
Miranda looked smug. “Jeans.” Blue eyes twinkled. “Your mother said casual, did she not?”
“Yes… she um… yeah, casual.” Andy blinked. “But… Uh…” Andy gestured to the shirt Miranda was wearing.
“I believe it's called a pullover sweater.”
“Buh…” Andy was amazed. “But, it's…”
The right side of Miranda's lips twitched. “Yes, it is.” She rose from the bed and patted the young woman's cheek before giving Andy a quick kiss. “Hurry now, breakfast is ready.”
Andy watched Miranda walk gracefully out of the room. Her eyes lingered on the doorway for a long moment before she ran her fingers through her clean damp hair and breathed an awed, “Wow.” She walked back into the bathroom, catching the reflection of the ring on her finger in the mirror. A huge smile broke across her face.
I'm gonna marry her.
“Ready to go?” She inspected the girls; both were wearing jeans and form fitting t-shirts. “Good.” Miranda smiled and glanced at Andrea. “Ready for gift number two?”
Miranda rolled her eyes and went to the closet. Pulling out two jackets, she handed them to the girls, then another for herself and last, one for Andrea. “The days are warm enough now not to need a jacket, but it's still cool at night and they are Gucci, so they will last for years and will always be in style.”
Andy felt the supple leather and laughed. “Of course they will be. If you wear it, it's in style.” She again marveled at the sweater Miranda wore. “Are you looking to bring Cerulean Blue back into style?”
Eyes twinkling, Miranda shook her head. “Not necessarily, but this sweater is comfortable, and casual enough for a ‘cookout', yes?”
“Oh yes.” Andy smiled. “And you look great in it, but then you look great in everything.” That comment pulled a scoffing sort of snort from Miranda and she turned to the girls. “Ready?” They both nodded and as they put on the matching jackets Andy smiled. “We look like some kind of gang.”
Miranda thought about that. “The Priestly Gang… Hmm…” She laughed and took on her fake thug accent. “Sounds like we're about to knock over a bank.”
“Well I don't think we're going to do that any time soon.” Andy chuckled. “The Priestly Family?”
“Ewww…” Caroline wrinkled her nose. “That makes us sound like we're gonna go sing in a church.”
“Interesting. I don't believe we'll be doing that anytime soon.” Guiding them to the car, Miranda ran her hand over the soft leather on her fiancé's arm. “You understand Andrea, this is just a taste of things to come.”
Andy sighed. “I don't need anything else. Just having you near is present enough for me.”
Miranda nodded. “Nevertheless, you will have more.”
“Miranda.” Andy began, but Miranda stopped her with an upraised hand.
“Humor an old woman.” She winked at her fiancé's expression. “I want to give you things Andrea… please, just don't fight it. You know how stubborn I am.”
Relenting, Andy sighed. “Fine.” She chuckled. “But you have to know, turnabout is fair play.” She helped Miranda and the girls into the car. “Just wait until it's your birthday.” She let that threat hanging, letting the silence in the car lull her, for a moment, and then she began to get very nervous.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Andy was concerned that all her relatives might be a little much for the normally private woman. “I could go first again, like yesterday.”
“No.” Miranda nodded. “I think it's important to meet them, at least once.”
“If they give you any grief at all, we can leave.” Andy eyed all three of them. “I mean it, if any of you feel uncomfortable, or weird… or anything… just let me know and we can leave. Promise me you'll tell me if anyone is mean to you, okay?”
The girls looked at each other for half a second before turning and answering the young woman, in stereo. “Yes, Andy.”
Miranda nodded. “Yes, Andrea.”
The car stopped and Andy grabbed a backpack and slung it over her shoulder as she hopped out of the car, automatically turning to help the girls and Miranda exit.
Andy saw her parents and her Grandma walk out onto the porch to meet them. She mumbled to Miranda. “Here we go.” As they got closer, Andy smiled up at the people. “Hi Gram.”
Miranda watched as Andy wrapped her arms around the woman, taller and thinner than Andy. She knew the woman's age and was surprised that her hair was only just a salt and pepper color instead of the entire gray or white she was expecting.
Releasing the older woman, Andy turned to her parents and gave them each a quick hug before returning to Miranda's side. “Gram Sachs, this is Miranda, Caroline, and Cassidy.” She smiled at her grandma. “Miranda, girls, this is my grandma.”
Miranda held out her hand to shake. “Um… Mrs. Sachs?”
Rolling her eyes, the older woman laughed. “I doubt anyone even knows my name around here, I'm always just Gram.” She shook the hand politely. “Pava, is my name.”
The tall older woman narrowed her eyes at the girls. “Hmmm…You two have the aura of trouble around you…” She winked at Andy then kept interrogating the girls. “You aren't going to cause any trouble, are you?”
Their eyes widened, and Miranda bristled just a bit so Andy let them in on the joke by waving off the woman's comments and rolling her eyes with a smile. “She used to say that about me all the time.”
“And was I wrong?”
Andy grinned mischievously. “Not usually.”
Gram Sachs laughed. “That's my girl.” She turned her gaze to Miranda. “And you must be ‘that woman' I've heard so much about this morning.”
Miranda glanced at Dorothy and kept her face neutral as she spoke to Pava. “I would imagine so.”
“We have tables and chairs set up in the backyard…” Richard interrupted and gestured for them to walk through the house. “… I'm sure we'll all be more comfortable back there.”
Andy took off her jacket and handed it and the backpack to Cassidy. “Can you take my pack and jacket up to my old bedroom for me? Just toss them on the bed. Are they too heavy?”
“No.. s'okay. I can get them, Andy.” Cassidy struggled a bit, the leather coat was actually fairly heavy.
Andy grinned. “You guys can put yours there too.” Cassidy nodded and waited for her mother to give Caroline the jacket she wore as well.
“Thank you, Caroline.” Miranda smiled at the girl before the youngsters struggled up the stairs.
“C'mon.” Gram linked her arms with Miranda. “It's time now to be treated like invalids.”
“Mom…we don't do that!” Dorothy admonished.
“Certainly not.” Richard agreed. He certainly wasn't going to treat…her… with anything other than politeness required for a guest in his home.
“Uh huh… whatever you say….” Pava leaned down to whisper to Miranda. “Watch, you'll see.”
Miranda grinned in spite of herself and commented softly as they walked. “You have the aura of trouble around you.” Blue eyes twinkled with a bit of mischief of their own. “You aren't going to cause trouble, are you?”
Pava laughed loudly enough to get Dorothy's attention for a moment. When her daughter-in-law looked away, Pava grinned and winked at Miranda.
“Yeah?” Andy put down the huge knife she was using to split watermelons in two. “What's up?”
“Can we go play basketball with Uh… Chad ?” Cassidy blushed slightly; she knew she'd just caught herself from saying ‘Uncle Chad '.
Caroline added. “We'll try not to get dirty.”
“Don't worry about getting dirty.” Andy grinned at them “I brought a change of clothes for all of us. That's what's in the pack, just in case...” She laughed at their expressions. “Well you know what a slob I am!” Winking, she waved them away. “G'wan now… have fun!”
Dark eyes twinkled as the girls ran off towards the driveway.
“Why did they ask you?” Dorothy was giving the potato salad a last stir. “Shouldn't they ask their mother?”
Andy shook her head and gestured with her left hand toward the older women present. “Miranda is talking to Gram, they wouldn't interrupt that.” Pressing her lips together as her mother grunted surprise at that, Andy picked up the knife and continued to halve the melons. It was a bit disconcerting because the ring on her finger was quite distinctive, yet her mother had either failed to notice it, or didn't want to acknowledge it. Either way, Andy wasn't going to be the one to bring up the subject.
“I wonder what they are talking about?” Dorothy looked over at the white-haired woman and her mother-in-law and commented casually, “They seem to be enjoying each other's company.”
Andy smiled. The comment that would have once totally engulfed her in jealousy, now just made her chuckle. “They're probably talking about fashion.” When she'd taken the women drinks earlier she thought she'd heard ‘De La Renta' as she'd walked toward them. “And yes, they do seem to enjoy each other's company… good for them, I'm glad Miranda found at least one person here to talk to.” Andy sighed as a falsely jovial voice spoke up behind her.
“So…” The man spoke overly loud, slapping Andy on the shoulder with one hand, holding a beer bottle in the other. “The long lost daughter…”
Andy rolled her eyes, watched her Mom turn and walk toward the house, and smiled a wide faux smile at her relative. “Hello, Uncle Jim.”
He grinned at his only niece. “So…what have you been doing in the big city?”
“Oh a little of this and that.” Andy continued setting out the food and pouring drinks. She kept an eye on Miranda as she went on with the conversation. “I'm a reporter, work at a newspaper.”
“Ah… crap job eh? Better than the last one you had, I guess.” He nudged her with his shoulder. “Got a guy yet?”
Andy licked her lips and held Miranda in the corner of her eye. “No, no guy.” She picked up a steak knife and began slicing tomatoes.
He pointed his beer bottle at the table where Miranda and Pava sat talking. “Be careful.” He laughed. “You'll end up like them, old and lonely, with no one to talk to but other old lonely chicks.”
Andy gripped the knife she was holding tightly. She'd been busy helping her Mom all afternoon and honestly she suspected the woman was trying to keep her and Miranda apart. Dropping the knife, Andy took her uncle by the arm. “C'mon, let's go find you another drink.” She hoped he was far enough along to pass out soon.
As they passed into the house, Andy heard her Mom talking to her Aunt Dawn.
“So where'd Gram find her hot girlfriend?” Dawn laughed and grabbed a beer from the fridge.
“I wouldn't know… she just showed up. They do seem to get along though.” Dorothy sighed as Andy and Jim entered the room and knew from the look in Andy's eye she'd heard the comment. “Dawn…could you ask Richard to get a few more chairs from the garage?”
It turned out the gesture was unnecessary, Andy had no intention of getting into a fight with her mother just now. With a fresh beer for Uncle Jim and another one for her, Andy clinked bottles with her Uncle and they laughed as they left Dorothy alone in the kitchen.
Miranda had not realized how time had flown, she was a bit stiff since once they'd sat down at the outdoor table they hadn't needed to move. Treated like invalids just as Pava predicted. Drinks were brought to them and replenished when needed, filled plates were brought to them for lunch and taken away when they were finished. Even when other people had started to arrive, no one bothered them. Pava apparently inspired as much awe in this family as Miranda did at Runway. Now the editor looked around unable to see her fiancé. “Where is Andrea?”
“Hmmm…” Pava looked around and shrugged. “I don't actually know.” Dark eyes twinkled. “I know a fun way to get her here though.” The older woman chuckled. “She has kept an eye on you the whole time you've been here.” One long lanky arm reached out and traced down Miranda's arm, from elbow to wrist. It only took a few seconds of holding Miranda's hand before a grin formed on Pava's face and an amused voice spoke up behind her.
“You aren't putting the moves on my girl, are you Gram?” Andy's twinkling eyes held Miranda's shocked ones for a few seconds. Pava's laugh broke their gaze.
“See… told you I could get her here.”
Miranda chuckled and stood to stretch, then looked down at the older seated woman. “You are trouble.” Miranda winked, “But so am I.” With two steps to close the distance between herself and Andrea, Miranda slid her arms around Andy's waist and pulled her close. “I've missed you.”
Blocking out everything around her, Andy bent her head slightly and kissed the love of her life. “Mmmm…” She pulled back a little and brushed back the one lovely lock of hair that always fell across Miranda's eye. “Missed you too.”
“Now that is a lovely sight to see.” Pava rested her head on her hand and watched the couple closely. “I'm not sure ‘your girl' is the proper term though.” The older woman's eyes gleamed as she spoke to her grand-daughter. “I'm thinking… fiancé?” The women in the embrace froze and Pava laughed. “That is quite a lovely ring you are wearing, my dear…” She turned to the woman in her grand-daughter's arms. “…and that is a lovely shade of pink on your cheeks.”
Keeping her right hand around Miranda, Andy held her left hand out to her smiling Gram. “She gave it to me this morning.”
“Mmmm…” Pava examined the ring closely. “Round center stone…pear shaped side stones… I'd say…what? Two carats?” She grinned as Miranda hesitated, then nodded. “Very nice.” She chuckled. “Happy Birthday to you.” Grinning slyly, Pava asked. “Your Mom seen it yet?”
Two carats?! I didn't even think about… She shook the thought out of her head. “Oh, has Mom seen it… I um…don't know.” Andy squeezed Miranda closer to her. “If she has, she hasn't mentioned it.”
“Stubborn thing.” Pava sighed and shook her head. She smiled and tapped Andy's cheek with her fingertips. “Don't let her get to you, child. You know your own mind. It's a gift you have always possessed. It's what makes you special.”
Miranda agreed. “We cannot let anyone get to us.” Wrapping both arms around Andrea's waist, Miranda leaned into the warmth of her future wife. “We know we are good together, Andrea.”
“We are that.” Andy kissed the top of Miranda's head. She chuckled, “We are also attracting someone's attention.” She tilted her head toward her Mother.
“Mmmm…” Miranda's eyes gleamed. “Two choices, stop what we are doing, or continue.”
“Continue.” Andy said immediately and bent to capture Miranda's lips for a brief moment. “Most definitely continue.” Explain this to Aunt Dawn, mother. They kissed for several long moments before Andy heard her mom's strangled voice calling to her. She smiled at Miranda and wiped a bit of lipstick smear from the corner of the older woman's mouth with her thumb. “Don't forget where we left off.”
Blue eyes watched Andy walk away. Not a chance. In fact… Miranda found her cell phone and dialed, keeping her eyes on Andrea the whole time she was speaking to the person on the other end of the line.
The expression on her mother's face reminded her of the many, many times she'd been reprimanded as a child for doing one thing or another wrong. “Yes Mom?” Andy was very casual in her tone, because the fact was; she hadn't been doing anything wrong, at all.
“Why do you insist on making a scene?!”
Andy blinked and looked around the backyard. “Uh… no one else even noticed.” She pointed out the happily partying people, some playing horseshoes, some messing with the grill…a few just drinking beer and razzing the people playing horseshoes. Her eyes caught Chad 's and she saw him nod before she turned back toward their mother. “You're the one making a big deal out of it.”
Miranda saw Chad urging people into the house and walked up to stand next to Andy. “I fail to see what is so surprising about Andrea and me kissing.” Blue eyes scanned the now empty backyard and Miranda said. “There was a couple playing horseshoes that kissed every time they threw a shoe whether they made a point or not. And a younger couple that were doing nothing less than making out over there on that bench. She pinned Dorothy with a glance. “What's the difference?”
Dorothy knew who Miranda was talking about. “The couple that was playing horseshoes is married. And the younger couple is engaged.”
Miranda raised her eyebrows and Andy grinned. “Um…Mom?” Raising her left hand she wiggled her fingers. “We're engaged too.”
“Yes,” Miranda's lips twitched in the beginnings of a smile. “Thank you for the engagement party.”
“This is Andy's birthday party!” Dottie kept her voice low. “You cannot be ‘engaged' you can't get married, it's illegal.”
Miranda nodded. “In this state, yes, and New York as well, for now.”
Andy thought she heard Miranda mumble to herself, “I need to speak to the governor.”
The white-haired woman wrapped her arm around Andy's waist. “I called the staff on Martha's Vineyard . They are going to open the house there. We can go after we leave here.”
“You want to get married so soon?” Andy was surprised, Miranda wasn't usually that impulsive.
“Only if you wish…” The older woman smiled. “I thought we could at least inspect the venues… see what kind of accommodations there are available… caterers and florists…things like that.”
“Sure.” Andy laughed. “I've never been there… it will be nice to see.”
“We'll go more often this summer. The girls love the beach and it is lovely even if the water is quite cold more often than not.” Miranda promised. “We'll try to make it one weekend a month at least.”
“Wait…” Dorothy realized. “You said ‘open up the house'. You have a house there too?”
Nodding, Miranda confirmed that. “I have several houses scattered throughout the world, though I mainly stay in New York .”
“Throughout the world…” Dorothy echoed.
“Mmmm… I wonder if you would be so opposed to our relationship if I were an older…gentleman…” Miranda watched the play of emotions on Dorothy's face and understood that was not the problem. “...interesting.”
“S'okay Mom…” Andy sighed. “A lot of people have a tough time with the gay thing.”
“It's not that…” Dorothy shook her head. “It's…”
Miranda filled in the thought. “She doesn't have a problem with that. What she has a problem with is that other people have a problem with it.” Miranda saw the shock in Dottie's eyes and, almost, smiled.
“You don't like me being with Miranda because of what other people think…of you?” Andy was astonished at that.
“No, Andrea that is just one thing she's dealing with. Mostly your mother doesn't like me because I'm rich.” Miranda stated. “I get to do things other people can't. I get to stay late at Macy's, I get private planes and chauffeured limousines…clothing made just for me…” Miranda's voice became soft and a little musical. “I get aaannnything I want.” Miranda looked at Andrea. “And now so do you.” Miranda smiled. “Your mother is trying to reconcile her prejudice toward my money with the fact that she loves you.” She turned back to Dorothy but continued to talk to Andy as she watched the other woman closely. “It is your father, Andrea, who has personal problems with… ‘the gay thing'.”
Andy was amazed at that observation then realized that Miranda was probably better than anyone she'd ever met at reading body language; she'd have to be, dealing with board room executives, moody models and diva photographers as well as she did. “What about my brother?”
“He has a problem with my age.” Miranda exhaled slowly. “On that, I may have to agree with him.” She waved off Andrea's immediate protest. “Later.” She gestured for Dorothy to speak. “You have something to say?”
“How can you?” She looked from her beautiful daughter to the white-haired woman. “How can you get her accustomed to such a life and then just toss her out into the street?”
Miranda blinked at that. “I won't do any such thing.” Where did that come from?
“Yes you will! You are all alike… you get what you want and move on… Vultures… using people, it's like a game to you. You buy them expensive coats and give them shiny expensive rings… Wow them with trips and other luxuries… then when you have had your fun you just toss them aside.” Dorothy was full of wrathful vengeance. “Well, you won't do it to my daughter, do you hear me? I won't let you!”
“Mom!” Andy released Miranda and put her hands on her Mother's shoulders shaking the woman slightly. “Snap out of it. Miranda's not using me, okay? This is totally a mutual thing.”
“Really?” Miranda smirked at her young fiancé. “I thought you were just using me for sex.”
Andy glared back at her lover. “Not helping!”
“Mom…” Andy tried a calming tone. “It really is okay. I'm going to be fine.” She caught her mother's eyes. “I do have a job and income of my own, you know?” She pulled the woman to her and hugged her tightly. “I'm sorry to spring it on you like this… but I really am all grown up.” She felt the arms around her tighten.
“You're my baby.”
“I was your baby.” Andy pulled away from the embrace and flashed a little smile. “Now I'm your grown up, completely happy, soon-to-be-married-to-the-woman-of-her-dreams, daughter .”
“I don't want you to get hurt.” Dorothy leaned into her daughter, realizing her head only just reached the girl's shoulder, and sighed. “It's so hard to let go.”
“I know…” Andy bent down and kissed her mother's cheek. “But it really is okay, I'll be okay.” Grinning, Andy winked. “You guys did a great job raising me.”
Dorothy took a deep breath and tried not to cry. “We did, didn't we…”
Andy laughed. “Yep.” She wrapped one arm around her Mom's shoulders and one around Miranda's. “C'mon, let's go see what Chad lured everyone into the house with.” She tilted her head toward her Mom. “As if we didn't know.”
Dorothy moaned. “Oh no.”
Miranda had the ‘tell-me-what-I'm-in-for-now' look on her face and Andy squeezed the white-haired woman's shoulders. “You're gonna love it.”
Miranda exhaled slowly. “You are fifty-fifty on that statement, Andrea.” She had a smile hiding just under the twitching lips and gamely accompanied the Sachs women into the house.
Caroline and Cassidy were standing next to the door when Dorothy, Andy and Miranda entered the room. Caroline was nearly jumping up and down with excitement. “Look Mom… Karaoke!”
“Mmmm…” Miranda glanced at Andy. She and Cassidy both winced and exchanged glances as ‘Aunt Dawn' hit a particularly sour note. Miranda spoke dryly, “So I hear.”
For what seemed like hours, Miranda suffered through the wailings and gyrations of Andrea's various family members. One of the few bright spots had been when the twins actually got into the act and sang a duet. Everyone loved their performance and even Dottie was grudgingly impressed at their vocal abilities. Surprisingly, Pava took a turn at the microphone and Miranda raised her eyebrows at the smooth tones the woman produced. Miranda had really liked the song, even if it was classified as ‘country'. The lyrics went right to her heart. ‘You can't choose who you love, love chooses you' . When Richard had taken his place at the microphone he hadn't demonstrated any such ability. It must skip a generation , Miranda thought and was not surprised that the entire family began to pester Andy for a song. Andrea does have a beautiful voice. What did surprise Miranda was when her fiancé turned and urged:
“C'mon… let's do a duet.”
Miranda's eyes widened and she shook her head. “I don't think so.” She prayed that Andrea wouldn't turn those doe-eyes on her, she couldn't resist ‘The Look' and they both knew it. She really didn't want to put herself any more ‘out there' than she already had with Andrea's family.
Andy hesitated, she knew if she pushed just a little Miranda would give in, but she didn't want to do that. Miranda had already spent a great deal of time without the Goddess mask she normally wore at Runway. She was almost angry with her parents for not appreciating the honor. With a tiny understanding smile, Andy grinned and turned to the twins. “C'mon girls… let's show ‘em how it's done.”
Miranda watched every person in the world she loved, peruse the song list. They all looked so happy and it made her heart beat faster seeing how well they all interacted with each other. They really always have, she thought . Ever since that first family dinner together and Andy could tell them apart.
“It's a good looking family. They obviously love each other.” Pava gestured Miranda to sit next to her. “It's right that you are proud of them.”
The fast-paced music started and everyone watched as the trio worked so well together they actually seemed to be choreographed. Andy sang the lead and the girls chimed in on the backup parts of the chorus.
All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the sand dance don't you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They're falling down like a domino…
Everyone in the audience clapped and cheered. By the end of the song, some of them were actually up out of their seats, walking like an Egyptian.
Richard clapped his hands together to get everyone's attention. “There are still a few hours of daylight left. I'm gonna go heat up a few burgers on the grill, they shouldn't take too long to cook. Why don't we all go back outside for a while?”
“C'mon Mom,” the girls each took one of Miranda's hands and practically dragged her out of the house. “Watch us make a basket from the very edge of the driveway. We've been practicing.”
Everyone nodded and filed out of the house, Richard put his hand on Andy's shoulder. “Good job up there, Honey.”
Andy grinned and reached up, unthinking, to pat the hand on her shoulder. “Thanks… I didn't do it alone though.” Andy glanced at the retreating trio and winked as Caroline looked back at her and smiled.
“What's this?” Richard took the hand and looked at the jewelry, his forehead wrinkling.
“Um… it's… a ring, Dad.” Andy shrugged. “Miranda gave it to me this morning.” She saw his jaw tensing and decided to get it out of the way. “And yes, that is when she asked me to marry her, and yes I told her I most definitely would.” She sighed as her father seemed to be speechless at that. “I love her, Dad…”
“You can't!” Richard was on the edge of his patience. This delusion Andy was having had gone far enough! Married? No…No way. “You can't, she's a woman! You can't love her…” he ground his teeth together. “…be with her…like that.”
Andy spoke very calmly and very soothingly to her father. “I can, Daddy… I do …I am …with her, like that.” With a deep breath she continued. “She loves me.” She caught the man's eye. “We are a family, Miranda, the girls and me.”
He shook his head. “You are my family.”
“I hope so.” Andy smiled weakly at him. “I had hoped you wouldn't disown me when I told you about Miranda.”
“Dis…” Richard shook his head against the thought. “I wouldn't, ever. You're my daughter, no matter what.”
Andy threw her arms around his neck, elation tingeing her voice. “I love you, Daddy.”
He held her tightly for a moment, and sighed; he really didn't want to think about the situation any more. “C'mon… we can talk about this later. Right now, we've got some burgers to burn.”
It was getting late now. Most of the family had gone, Dawn, Jim, Donna had picked up the kids and even Chad had gone to hang out with some of his old hometown buddies so only the Sachs' that lived in the house, Gram Sachs and the Priestly's remained. Cassidy and Caroline were playing horseshoes in the fading sunlight while Gram, Miranda, Andy and her parents all sat around the outdoor table in slightly uncomfortable silence watching the children play. Andy was also slightly uncomfortable because her mother and father weren't sitting together, and that forced Andy to sit across the table from Miranda. She knew her parents had done it that way on purpose and that tactic counteracted nearly all the good this evening had brought, which in truth wasn't much.
A late night breeze pushed against Andy's hair and from the corner of her eye the young woman saw Gram shiver a bit. Okay enough of this. Andy thought and stood slowly. “Be right back.” As she walked around the table, her hand automatically dropped and brushed the back of Miranda's neck as she passed the seated woman.
Miranda felt the ghost touch and a wisp of a smile fluttered on her lips. It was another thing Miranda loved about Andrea. People don't just casually touch me , Miranda thought. But Andrea does. It was more than that though and Miranda knew it. It's not just casual… she identified the difference. It's natural, it just feels… right, when she does it. It has for a long time.
Andy returned carrying two small throw blankets and detoured to the other side of the patio to take possession of two lounge chairs, dragging them over close to the table. Setting them side by side, Andy winked at Miranda and with a small move of her head asked silently if the woman wanted to sit. When Miranda began to rise, Andy moved over to Gram and draped one of the blankets over the thin woman's shoulders. “Would you like to put your feet up, Gram?”
The older woman pulled the blanket around her and nodded. “That sounds lovely, dear.” She accepted the young woman's helping hand to rise. She settled into the chair next to the one Miranda was about to claim.
Andy grinned and stopped Miranda's motion for a second. “Ah… Not so fast…” She winked at her fiancé and moved quickly to sit on the lounge chair, then moved her legs off either side, patting the empty space in the middle. Miranda smiled and chuckled slightly as she snuggled into the space. Leaning back against Andrea, the younger woman tangled their legs together and adjusted the blanket over them.
Miranda sighed in relief at the contact, tension she hadn't consciously been aware of draining away. She hadn't seen the young woman nearly as much as she would have liked to today. “Thank you Andrea, this is quite comfortable.”
“Mmmm…” Andy's arms slid around Miranda's waist and she tipped her head to rest her cheek on the soft white hair. “Sure is.”
Andy only dared a glance at her parents. The expressions on their faces were indescribable and she fought the urge to laugh. Get used to it guys… I'm not letting her go.
“Andy, can I see you in the kitchen please?” Dorothy began to stand when Andy replied.
“Uh… what?” Andy's mother bristled. “Did you say no?”
“Yes.” Andy inhaled the scent of Miranda's shampoo. “I said no.” She did not turn to look at her mother. “It's my birthday and I've missed being with my fiancé all day, so right now I'm going to sit here and relax for a little while, while I hold her in my arms…” Angry enough to tweak the woman slightly, she hoped Miranda wouldn't get too upset with her and Andy added. “…and watch our children play.”
“Your children!?” Dorothy glared at Miranda. “Are you going to put up with that?”
“With what?” Miranda gave Cassidy the thumbs up sign for scoring a point. She turned to look at the upset woman. “I have no problem whatsoever being held by Andrea, nor do I object to her paying attention to our children.”
Andy glanced over at her stunned mother. “If you have a problem, we can leave right now.” From the corner of her eye Andy saw her mom begin to rise from her seat, again. Moving her mouth away from Miranda's ear, Andy shouted to Caroline, “Great job, Caroline! Three ringers in a row!”
Caroline turned toward the encouraging voice and seeing where they were sitting rolled her eyes, but waved to acknowledge the comment. She also smiled at the look on her Mom's face. Andy makes her so happy, Caroline thought. How lucky am I to have such great parents. Her breath hitched as that thought rolled through her mind and in a fit of mischief she called back, “Thanks Mom!”
Dorothy collapsed the last few inches back down into her chair. “Did she… did she just call…”
“I knew it.” Pava chuckled. “I knew it, from the first moment I saw them… trouble, trouble through and through.” The woman winked at Miranda's startled glance. “'Course, I wouldn't expect anything less from my great-grandchildren.”
“Mom!” Richard reacted without thinking. Andy claiming the children as hers was obviously just meant to tease Dorothy, for his mother to agree…well it was too much for him to ignore. “That's not…”
Pave waved him silent. “I know it's not yet, not officially. After the wedding though…” She chuckled at her son's expression. “Oh, get over it, Richard. Your daughter is happy and with the person she loves! What more could you want?”
Richard stared sullen and silent at his mother, unwilling to tell her what he really thought of Andy's behavior.
Miranda answered for him. “He wants what every parent wants for their children. He wants her to be happy, healthy, and he wants to know that when he's no longer here, his children will be safe, and loved, and well taken care of.” She nodded at his widening eyes. “He wants to know that the choices his children make in life don't hurt them. He doesn't want to see Andrea have to endure the pain this relationship will bring her.”
Pava snorted. “Every relationship has painful times.” She held her hand up to stop her son's shaking head. “Yes… even your father and I had rough times.”
“What he doesn't realize...” Miranda continued, feeling, even as she spoke, waves of love flowing off of the woman holding her. “…Is that Andrea will meet or exceed every one of those wants. She is as safe or safer with me than anyone else, she will be taken care of forever and she is totally and completely loved.”
They were all so focused on Richard that they didn't realize the girls had moved to stand at the foot of the lounge chair Miranda and Andy were occupying.
“Mom?” Caroline smiled as both Andy and Miranda's head whipped around to see her. “We're kinda tired… can we go back to the rooms now?”
Miranda turned her head slightly. “Andrea?”
With a quick glance at her parents, Andy nodded in agreement. “Yeah, that would probably be best.” She held Miranda where she was when the woman tried to get up and asked the girls. “Would you run upstairs and get our…” With a glance at Miranda, Andy smirked and finished the request. “…stuff?” The girls nodded and took off.
“Sssss,tuff?” Miranda turned slightly to regard the young woman through narrowed eyes.
Andy grinned. “You can wear cerulean blue...” Dark eyes twinkled in the twilight and she shifted to kiss the tip of the older woman's nose. “… I can say stuff.” They locked eyes for a long moment.
“Here's your jacket, Andy.” Caroline handed the item to the seated woman. Cassidy passed her mother's jacket to her.
“Thank you, Cassidy.” Miranda folded the soft leather into her lap. “Would you bring my phone here?”
Cassidy retrieved the phone from the table and gave it to her mother.
“Thank you, Bobbsey.”
Caroline rolled her eyes in sympathy for the nickname, as Cassidy sighed. “You're welcome.”
Miranda leaned back against Andrea as she called for the car to pick them up. She closed the phone and mumbled to Andy, “Ten minutes.” She smiled as Andy nodded and tightened her embrace.
“We'll go out front and watch for the car!” They ran off, and a few seconds after they disappeared all the adults heard the distinctive bounce of a basketball on the asphalt drive.
“Good,” Andy leaned back on the chair and closed her eyes. Miranda's warmth soothed her. “That means I don't have to move just yet.”
Pava laughed. “Good to know someone around here has their priorities in order.”
“Mother!” Richard was having a hard time watching his daughter cuddling with this woman… and mother is acting like it's just, nothing.
“They're in love, Richard… can't you see that?” Pava smiled at the couple who seemed oblivious to the argument flying over their heads. “They really are a striking couple.”
“Gram.” Andy ventured quietly into the conversation. “I think Dad is uncomfortable enough without your comments making it worse.”
“Tough.” The old lady answered her grand-daughter. “I'm seventy-one years old, I can say what I want to, if the truth hurts… He can just deal with it.”
Dorothy interrupted the conversation. “Will you be back tomorrow, Andy?”
Andy bent her head to Miranda. “Will we?”
“Perhaps it would be better if we said our goodbye's at the bed and breakfast. The flight to Martha's Vineyard will leave early afternoon, and we will need to get ready and pack…” Miranda didn't actually want the intrusion tomorrow, but for Andrea she would make allowances.
“Yeah, that sounds good.” Andy nodded. “Why don't you guys come over about eleven… we can have a couple hours to talk, maybe go out to lunch before we go to the plane.” She saw them nodding and turned to see her Gram. “You too?”
“Of course, darlin', I wouldn't miss it.” Pava winked as she saw Andy mouth. ‘Come early'.
They all turned toward the sound of pounding feet. Cassidy skidded around the corner of the house. “Car's here.”
Miranda stood and slipped her jacket on, Andy did the same.
“Good night.” Miranda tilted her head at the remaining people. “Thank you for the hospitality.”
“See ya tomorrow.” Andy hugged her Gram, then her mom and dad. “Good night.”
“Wow.” Andy laughed. “The girls were out like a light!” She snuggled down into their bed. “How about you?” Her hand rubbed Miranda's flat tummy lightly, but suggestively.
Chuckling, Miranda turned shining blue eyes toward her young companion. “This is the least physically active day I've had in… a long time.” Her fingers tangled in dark brown hair and she pulled Andrea to her. “I have a lot of energy to work off before I can sleep.”
“Oh, Yay.” Andy smiled as Miranda took control. She felt the older woman's hands twining in the material in the front of her pajamas just under where the buttons ended. “Oh no.” Andy stilled the hands, “I like these pajamas, and if you tear the buttons off of them now I won't get them back for over a week.” She smiled at the frustration on Miranda's face. “I'll do it.” Grinning, Andy began to unbutton the top of her pajamas slowly, very very slowly, one button at a time.
“You are evil,” Miranda accused as Andrea parted the last button, but she quickly stopped the young woman from removing the garment. “Don't,” she said. “Let me.” Slowly, Miranda slid her hands under the soft material, pushing it down off Andrea's shoulders. She didn't take it all the way off though, she only pushed it down far enough to expose Andrea's perfect breasts before she gathered the extra material and tied it together, trapping the young woman's arms at her sides. Blue eyes twinkled with glee. “Now, I've got you.”
Andy laughed, low and sultry. “You sure do.” Lying back on the bed she writhed a bit. “So, what are you going to do with me now?”
With an evil sort of laugh, Miranda began to work the bottom half of Andrea's pajamas off. “It is your birthday Andrea, so you choose.”
Never taking her dark eyes off Miranda, Andy smiled. “Kiss me.”
“Very well.” Moving up, she allowed their lips to meet for a long languorous moment before moving to trail soft heat along Andrea's jaw up to her ear, then down to the young woman's delicious neck.
“Miranda…” Andy felt her lips being covered by two long elegant fingers.
“Shhh…” Miranda closed her eyes as Andrea pulled the fingers on her lips into her mouth, swirling her talented tongue around them. “Andrea… You've had your request.” Removing her fingers from the luscious warmth, Miranda chuckled, the kind that depending on the context either made Runway employees shake in their boots or made Andrea quiver; this was the latter. “It's my turn now, so just…”
“Lay back and take it?” Andy grinned, a grin that was wiped away when Miranda growled.
Andy closed her eyes as sensation washed over her. Oh God… she thought and she could feel herself drowning in wave after wave of pleasure as she gave herself over to Miranda, completely.
I'm gonna marry her!
It was just after eight in the morning when Andy, dressed for her morning run, knocked on Mary's backdoor. She was amazed when the door opened and she stood face to face with Gram Sachs. “Uh… Gram?” Andy smiled and chuckled. “I said come early but I didn't mean this early.”
The older woman waved off the comment. “When I realized you were staying at the King's B&B, I decided to get here in time for breakfast. Mary and I know each other from way back, so I thought we could catch up.” She took her seat at the table across from Mary.
“C'mon in.” Mary gestured for her young guest to join them at the table in the breakfast nook. “We're having some coffee.” Two gently steaming mugs were sitting on the table. “Would you like some?”
“Ah.. not yet. I want to get my run in first.” Andy indicated the house next door. “Miranda is up and will be ready to face the day soon, the girls were still asleep but I expect them up any time… so I'd say… half an hour…forty-five minutes… and they'll be ready for breakfast.” She smiled at their hostess. “Do I need to run to the store?”
Mary chuckled. “Nope, I went last night. We're all set.” She tilted her head at the young woman. “Do you want me to wait for you to return?”
Andy waved the offer away. “Thanks, but I'll be back by then, I'm not going to take a long run, just enough to work out the kinks.” And after last night, boy do I have those…
Both women at the table laughed, both expressing similar sentiments about having Andy's energy. Gram smirked. “And why isn't Miranda running with you?”
Andy laughed at that and ran her fingers through her hair. “Well, first of all, it would mean leaving the girls alone. Second, it would require wearing…” Andy looked around the kitchen, leaned closer, and whispered. “…sneakers.”
Gram shook her head and widened her eyes in mock-terror. “Oh the horror!”
Nodding, Andy laughed. “I'm going to surprise her with a pair of Prada running shoes for her birthday.”
“You think she… um…” Gram glanced at Mary. “…could?”
That made Andy's laugh louder. “Gram, I run to stay in shape, just so I can keep up with her!” She leaned closer and whispered into her grandmother's ear, causing the older woman to sit a bit straighter and shoot a startled glance at the young girl.
Andy couldn't quite keep a smile off her face as she nodded and inhaled deeply. “Oh yeah.” Her deep breath had brought the scent of coffee to her and Andy narrowed her eyes, calculating something. “I think Miranda will want a cup of coffee…I'll take it to her…” She grinned at Mary. “…just make it searing hot and leave room for milk.”
Miranda carried her still hot coffee downstairs and discovered Mary and Pava sitting at the small table in the kitchen of the bed and breakfast.
“Good morning.” Pava smiled brightly at her granddaughter to be.
Narrowing her eyes at the older woman, Miranda grunted and leaned against the counter. “So now I know who to blame for Andrea's cheery morning disposition?”
Pava shook her head. “Oh no… that one is all on you, m'dear.” She winked at Miranda's scandalized expression and explained. “When she was a youngster it was never easy to get her up in the morning. She even managed her college schedule to not include morning classes. Working as your assistant changed that… having to get up so early every morning. I think it changed her internal clock.” She saw a flicker of something pass across Miranda's features. Guilt? “Then again it may just be the company she keeps makes her want to get up earlier.”
Mary grinned. “I should say Congratulations, I think.” The hostess' eyes twinkled. “I saw the ring yesterday morning, but didn't want to say anything.” Mary smiled at her guest. “Pava tells me I was correct in thinking you were engaged now.”
“Mmm… yes.” Miranda hid her grin behind her coffee mug for a moment. Swallowing the sip, she rolled her eyes and found a seat at the table. She found herself in the unusual position of being just a regular person, among other regular people, who actually seemed to care. In this situation, some of her normal emotional walls were lowered. “I don't think I've ever been that nervous in my life.”
“Really?” That surprised Mary. Miranda didn't seem to be the nervous type.
“I have no experience with that side of the marriage ritual,” Miranda admitted. “I've always been the one being asked.”
“How many times have you been married?” Pava was curious, Dottie had made this woman out to be some kind of gold-digger. Obviously not what was happening in Andy's case.
“Twice.” The editor sighed. “I can't really regret the first one, because of the girls. I would do every bit of it again, for them.”
“And the second?” Pava prompted.
“The second…” Miranda suppressed a shudder. “A marriage of convenience that we both thought would grow into something more.” Sipping her coffee, she shook her head. “It didn't.”
“And Andy?” This time a bit of ‘concerned grandma' slipped into Pava's voice. The love and defiance in Miranda's cool blue eyes told her everything she needed to know, and she nodded. “Third time's the charm I guess.”
“I hope so.” Miranda conceded how much luck has to do with a successful relationship. “She is rather charming.” Shaking her head didn't prevent her thoughts from turning dark. “The other's hurt when they ended.” She turned an intense gaze on Pava. “If anything happens to this one, it will kill me.”
“She adores you.” Mary smiled at her guest. “Even I can see that.”
“She is extremely thoughtful.” Miranda swallowed hard, remembering all the tiny things Andrea did for her on a daily basis, such as the coffee she currently held in her hand, little things that no one else would think of, because no one else cared enough.
“She loves you.” Pava smiled at the silent woman. “I can tell she does.”
It was Miranda's turn to be curious. “How can you tell?”
“Well, I could see it in her eyes yesterday every time she looked at you.” Pava grinned. “And now, since she thinks I've said something to upset you, she's looking at me like she wants to kill me.” She winked at her grand-daughter. “Back from your run so soon, darlin'?”
“Not soon enough apparently.” Andy's eyes softened as Miranda turned around. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” Miranda nodded, feeling a bit foolish for wanting to run to the girl, wanting those surprisingly strong, lanky arms around her. As it turned out she didn't have to move, Andrea rushed to her seat and knelt to hug her.
“Are you sure?” Andy spoke lowly into Miranda's ear, glaring over her fiancé's shoulder at her grandmother and their hostess in turn.
“We were just talking.” Pava held up her hands as defense against the look in Andy's eyes. “I swear.”
“Yes.” Miranda agreed and slowly released herself from the embrace. “We were just talking.”
“Okay then.” Andy stood, keeping one hand on Miranda's shoulder. “I'm gonna go and get cleaned up.” She nodded to the other two women. “I'll check on the girls on my way, so I'd expect them down here fairly soon.” She left the room and quickly made her way up the stairs.
“Gracious.” Mary stared at Miranda, wide-eyed. “You're worried about how she feels about you?” Mary shook her head. “Good grief, that girl loves you like there's no tomorrow!”
Exhaling softly, Miranda nodded. Yes, she does. The problem is there is a tomorrow. Mary's use of the term ‘girl' didn't go unnoticed either.
“Well, I'm going to get started on breakfast.” Mary stood and began to gather ingredients. “You're welcome to stay and keep me company, or you can move into the other room to continue your conversation.”
“Are you kidding?” Pava snorted. “I won't ever be able to bring up that subject again… Andy would kill me!”
Miranda shook her head. “She's rather possessive. It's a trait I never really took kindly to, until now. Andrea has changed my views on quite a number of things.” Shrugging, Miranda turned her thoughts to the others who were going to be there that day. “I know we haven't had breakfast yet, but do you have any suggestions on where we can all go for lunch today? My preference is steak…”
“Hmmm…” Pava's eyes glittered. “Let me think.”
It was an unnecessary comment, Miranda knew. The gleam in the older woman's eye told the editor Pava already had a place in mind. Anything is fine , Miranda thought recalling Andrea's pick the first night they were in town. It can't be worse than that.
“I know just the place.” Pava assured her. “You're gonna love it.”
At the sound of a car stopping in front of the house, Pava looked up and sighed. “Well, it was fun while it lasted.”
“Gram!” Andy chided. “Don't be that way.” The young woman smiled to take the sting out of her words and then jumped down the porch steps to meet her parents mid-way up the sidewalk.
Miranda chuckled. “It has been a lovely morning, thank you for the conversation.”
Pava shrugged. “I gotta get to know my new grand-daughter, don't I?” She grinned at Miranda's shocked look and winked at the woman. “I'm glad Andy found you.”
Nodding, Miranda almost whispered. “Me too.” Then she rolled her eyes as Dottie's voice reached them. “Most of the time.”
Pava laughed. “Don't worry. She's not going to be traveling to New York very often, and you can control the time you spend here.”
“Mmmm…” Miranda thought about that. “Yes, I can keep my contact with her to a minimum.” Several ideas came to mind as to how she would accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, nearly all of them involved Andrea visiting her family without Miranda's presence… and rather like a pouting teen; Miranda just didn't think that was fair at all.
Father, daughter, and mother joined the women on the porch. Miranda tilted her head. “Your son didn't join you?”
Dorothy snorted and Richard grinned. “Ahhh… no. Chad wasn't… umm…”
Andy looked at them for half a second and began laughing. “Too hungover, huh?” She grinned evilly. “He never could hold his alcohol.”
Miranda raised her eyebrows. “And you can?”
“Nope.” Andy cheerfully confessed. “But I normally know when to quit.” She rolled her eyes. “I do need to remember not to drink the punch at James Holt's parties though.”
“Mmm.. indeed.” Miranda remembered the deceptively sweet liquid and the literal punch it packed. “You and I both.”
Disturbed by the idea of his daughter and this…woman out at a party, drinking together, Richard broke into the conversation. “So where do you want to go for lunch?”
“Oh.” Miranda realized Pava had never actually said the name of her chosen establishment and turned to the older woman. “Where was it you wanted to go?”
“Maury's.” Pava smiled. “You said steak, but most of the good steakhouses around here don't open until dinner. Maury's is good and open for lunch.”
Andrea was nodding in agreement so Miranda went along with it. “Very well.”
“Aren't they fairly expensive?” Dottie worried. “With seven of us…”
“Not to worry.” Miranda rose from her seat. “If the tab runs over my credit limit, you can make up the difference.”
Andy laughed quietly and fell into step beside Miranda heading to the car. The rest of the party followed.
Miranda eyed the restaurant thoughtfully. Could be worse . They were seated at a large round table and were quiet as they looked over the menu selections. Dorothy mumbled something about the prices to her husband, but Miranda didn't care about either the comment or the prices so she pretended not to hear. Her main concern was that there was no acceptable steak selection on the Lunch Menu.
When the waiter arrived, he took their orders. He started with Andrea and went around the table, causing Miranda to be the last to order.
“I would like the New York strip steak, medium-rare.”
“Uh… we don't serve that at lunch ma'am…” He looked around the table nervously. “We have a lovely filet...”
“I'm perfectly capable of reading the pathetic lunch menu you presented to us. I can also see that you serve New York strip at dinner, I would like that now. Thank you.”
Andy widened her eyes at the ‘thank you'. Practically any waiter in New York would pass out or have a heart attack to hear those words from Miranda. She was amazed that the waiter persisted.
“I'm sorry, we just don't…serve that at lunch.”
Miranda closed her eyes and counted to ten, then sighed and nodded. “Fine. The filet then.”
“What!?” Andy glared at her fiancé and leaned close to whisper. “Miranda, tell me honestly, do you want the filet or are you settling because you know it will upset my Mom?”
“I've done enough this weekend to give her pause, Andrea, there need not be any more.”
The waiter began to move away from their table.
Andy looked Miranda directly in the eye and shook her head. “Bullshit.”
With a smile and a wink, Andy rose from her seat and caught up with the waiter.
They all watched as she spoke to the man for a moment. He left, and in short order another man appeared to speak with Andy. None of them could hear what she told him, but they all saw his face go pale and his eyes widen. They watched as he slowly nodded and Andy gave him a bright smile before she made her way back to the table.
“One New York strip, medium-rare, comin' up, Boss.”
Miranda gazed at the young woman with undisguised love. “Thank you, Andrea.”
“You're welcome.” Andy turned adoring eyes on her fiancé. “Always.”
Dorothy fumed during most of the wait for their meals. This flaunting of the rules was just too much. She managed to speak, in short bursts, to Andy about people Andy had gone to school with.
Andy listened and nodded at what she thought were the appropriate pauses but couldn't for the life of her figure out why her mother believed that she cared about people who hadn't given her the time of day back then. Finally Gram cut into the conversation.
“For crying out loud, Dorothy, Andy doesn't want to hear about all these people. Do you remember nothing about her school days?” The older woman was becoming quite angry with her daughter-in-law. “Give it a rest. You aren't going to tempt Andy away from Miranda with tales of some guy she dated once in school who went on to flip burgers at the corner greasy spoon.”
Miranda chuckled and teased her partner. “You have a thing for cooks?”
It was too easy to resist. “Mmmm… yeah, I'm so glad it turns out you're a gourmet chef.”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “Not quite.”
Andy grinned. “Well you make a mean breakfast in record time.”
“You're a good cook, Mom.” Caroline agreed. “You cook all kinds of things for us.”
“Yeah,” Cassidy piped up. “Grandma Princhek's pierogi's are the best .”
“You girls are biased.” Miranda sat up a bit straighter. “I'll have to make them for Andrea one day, I'm sure she'll give me an honest opinion.”
“Maybe one day we can share our family recipes.” Pava said. “For some special occasion…” Like a wedding?
Miranda tilted her head. “Perhaps.”
Andy burst out laughing. All the eyes at the table turned to her, but only Miranda asked what was so funny. It took a minute for the young woman to get her mirth under control and then it was only long enough to say, “I was just imagining the horror on Emily's face if she were to hear you were actually swapping recipes with my grandmother.”
“Mmm… yes, she would require medical assistance for that…wouldn't she?” Miranda grinned at the thought but couldn't explore it further because the food was arriving at the table.
“You didn't get a side dish.” Dorothy pointed at Miranda's plate. “You should tell them.”
“She didn't want one, Ma.” Andy picked up her fork and speared a bite of her salad. “She never eats side dishes at lunch. Just the steak.”
“But vegetables are good for you…” Dorothy trailed off her motherly advice as Miranda leveled a glare at her.
“I eat vegetables.” Miranda informed her. “I eat almost nothing but vegetables for my evening meal, but at lunch, I eat steak.” She cut into the offering and smiled at the meat's interior perfect coloring. “I eat less carbs that way.” She chewed the bite, nodding at the seasoning. “I'm quite healthy.” Waving her fork at her partner, Miranda smiled. “Andrea sees to that.”
Andy rolled her eyes. “Just because I'm paranoid and make you go to the doctor.”
“Paranoid?” Dorothy didn't understand that, did her daughter actually realize the problems growing older caused?
“Yeah, because of the whole, stalker thing, when Judy tried to drug Miranda… the drugs were dangerous at the levels she'd been ingesting.” Andy shuddered at the thought of that final cup of coffee. “I was so paranoid about the long term effects of that I had Miranda going to the doctor all the time… at first.”
“I had to put a stop to it.” Miranda said, cutting another bite. “It was just too disruptive to go all the time.” The Editor looked over at Andrea. “The last appointment showed nothing, the same as the ones before. Doctor Dawson said not to come back for six months.”
“Unless you start having problems.” Andy reminded her and was glad Miranda nodded in agreement. “Can we change the subject now? I really hate remembering that.” She closed her eyes for a second and could see Miranda lifting the poisoned coffee cup to her lips. Shuddering at the vision, she opened her eyes quickly and swallowed against her dry throat. I could have lost her. That thought had nearly stopped her heart so many times in the beginning but now, when she looked across the table at her partner, her heart nearly stopped for almost the exact opposite reason.
I'm gonna marry her.
The traveler's bags had gone through the normal airport security, but the limousine had driven right out onto the tarmac, parking very close to the stairs leading up to the open plane door.
Caroline and Cassidy tumbled out of the car. They only barely took the time to politely say goodbye to Richard and Dorothy before they hugged Gram Sachs quickly and almost ran up the stairs to board the plane.
“Well… um… thank you for the meal.” Richard politely held out his hand to Miranda. “I'm uh…”
Miranda smiled and took his hand quickly but firmly. The man hadn't said much during lunch and Miranda knew he was still uneasy about his daughter's relationship with her. “You are quite welcome, Mr. Sachs. Thank you for your hospitality.” She turned to Dorothy. “And thank you, for the wonderful meals you prepared for us.” She didn't offer her hand to the woman.
“You're welcome.” Dorothy replied. “I'm glad we got the chance to meet, and talk a little.”
Nodding, Miranda exhaled slowly. “Perhaps we will again.” She raised her eyebrows. “Just remember what I told you in the car about the paparazzi. They will be here soon… ignore them and they'll go away. We,” she indicated Andrea and herself, “will be a much better target for their fascination.”
Andy stepped up. “Just don't believe anything you see or read in those rags… call me to ask if you have to, but ninety-nine percent of the time it's all airbrushed photos and made-up stories.” She moved closer and hugged her mom. “I love you, Ma.” She turned to her dad. “Love you, Daddy, thanks for everything.”
He held her tightly and didn't want to let go. The description of the paparazzi and their tactics had scared him. “Take care of yourself… please?”
“I will, daddy.” Andy squeezed him a bit tighter for a second.
“I'll watch out for her, Mr. Sachs.” Miranda promised. “I'll take care of her.”
“No…” Andy protested. “We'll take care of each other.” She turned to make her final good-bye. “Gram, it was so good to see you.” Andy hugged her gently, feeling the fragility in the older woman. “Thank you…”
Pulling away from the embrace, Pava smiled at her favorite grand-daughter. “It's nice to see you happy, darlin'.” She kissed Andy's cheek lightly. “Take care.”
“You too, Gram.” Andy moved away as Miranda stepped up.
“It was nice meeting you, Pava.” She surprised herself when the woman embraced her and she reciprocated. It had been a long time since she'd had any sort of mother-figure. She laughed to herself at the absurdity of that designation for Pava.
The driver interrupted his temporary employer. “Your bags have been loaded on the plane.”
Nodding Miranda handed him some folded bills. “Thank you, return Andrea's family to the bed and breakfast, then you are finished with this assignment.”
“Thank you, Ma'am. It's been a pleasure.” He pocketed the tip without looking at it and held the car door for the passengers on the last leg of this job.
Miranda waited with Andrea until the car began to move back across the tarmac before she led her partner up the stairs to the plane. The attendant closed the door behind them. They all took their seats and fastened their seatbelts as the plane began to move. Miranda took a deep breath knowing that next part of their journey together was about to begin. Miranda devoutly hoped at least some of it would be spent together.
Return to the Annex