Disclaimer: See Part 1
Miranda looked around the restaurant and sighed to herself. Jean Paul, as smarmy as he was, was usually at least interesting but tonight, he went on and on about how horrible his year had been and how uninspired he seemed to be. She could understand that, everyone goes through rough patches. This droning on about it was beginning to irritate her. She did not want to be here, she wanted to be home with her family. She cut him off from yet another long meandering story about how lonely he'd been since his girlfriend had left him, some months ago. It would probably have been tolerable if he wouldn't pepper his stories with thinly veiled innuendo about Miranda comforting him. As it was, Miranda didn't want to hear another; I just need some companionship wheeze. “Perhaps now would be a good time to look at your portfolio.” She put her glasses on and indicated the large flat case he had placed on the empty chair next to him when they arrived. “While we are waiting for our food to be prepared.”
Reluctantly, he handed over the drawings.
Upon opening the case, Miranda instantly understood his lack of enthusiasm. The drawings were awful. Apparently the man's horrible year had translated into horrible designs. I've wasted the entire evening. I could have been home with Andrea! As she turned the pages, drawing after atrocious drawing, her jaw became tighter and tighter, her nostrils flared and her lips, nearly of their own accord, pressed together in displeasure.
He sighed, knowing what that meant, every designer knew what that meant. Catastrophe. He hadn't really expected anything else and lowered his head to stare at his hands in his lap. “I'm sorry, this is the best I have right now.”
Miranda closed the case and took her glasses off, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Your designs were so brilliant last year…”
He nodded. “Last year I had my Mila to inspire me.” Shaking his head, he sounded like he was about to cry. “This year, she is gone, moved on to someone not quite so… temperamental, I think was the word she used.”
“You are an artist, Jean Paul, a visionary, passionate about your work.” She shook her head. “You should find someone who understands that.”
“And you?” He watched her carefully. “Does your Andrea ‘understand' about your work?” He indicated their meeting at the restaurant. “Is she not upset that you are here with me, my room just a few floors up, instead of home with her?” The comment made it sound like far more was going on between them than a business meeting. Miranda's next comment put a stop to any idea like that.
“My Andrea… understands perfectly and knows how important my work is to me.” What she doesn't know is just how unimportant my work is becoming, compared to her. Miranda smiled at the thought of her partner then she smirked. “She also knows that this is just a business meeting, and I will be home with her tonight.”
“She's a lucky woman.” Jean Paul allowed his eyes to roam over Miranda's body for a brief moment.
Miranda bristled at the man's presumption then chuckled, correcting him gently. “ I , am the lucky one.” She pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. “Perhaps, you are too.” She saw his eyes take on an evil gleam and shook her head, chiding. “Not like that.” She sat back slightly as their food was delivered. Picking up her fork and knife, she pointedly looked at him. “I want a showing. Emily will contact you with the day and time.”
His eyes widened. “Seriously?” He looked at the portfolio and knew it was bad. “But…” He confessed. “I also took them to…” He couldn't bring himself to say the name of Miranda's infamous rival, but he could see in Miranda's eyes as she supplied the name for herself. Anna… “She said they were unprintable.”
Nodding Miranda continued cutting her vegetables into smaller bites. “I know… I did actually see them.” It galled her to say it but the editor spoke softly, “and she was correct...” A predatory smile now crossed Miranda's face. “…but, unlike her, I have an idea…” She smiled at the man and took a bite of broccoli. And, she thought, I have your inspiration. It was a relief that the business meeting was over, for now. Now all I have to do is finish my meal, she thought, and I can go home to my family, she remembered their guest and her mind added with a sigh …and Dorothy.
Andy and Dorothy were in the small sitting area just outside the kitchen quietly talking, kind of; it was more like a little talking between long periods of silence. They were well into a silent time, neither of them knowing what to say to the other, when the locks on the front door began to click. Dorothy watched as her daughter's lips curled up into a beautific smile.
“Miranda's home.” Andy stood and walked down the hall quickly.
Dorothy followed, mostly out of curiosity. She stopped short as she heard Miranda's voice wearily joke, “Honey, I'm home.” Just before Andrea wrapped her arms around the older woman, kissing her lightly, the tired woman asked, “How are the girls?”
Pulling away slightly, Andy rested her forehead on Miranda's. “They just went to bed a few minutes ago, they are probably still awake.” Her head moved as Miranda nodded and the white-haired woman began to move toward the stairs.
Andy asked, “Do you want a glass of wine?”
Seeming to move slower than usual Miranda nodded. “That would be lovely.” She smiled. “I'll only be a moment.”
Turning to get the wine, Andy only faltered a step upon seeing her Ma watching them. With a glance at Miranda going up the stairs, Andy brushed past her mother and continued through the kitchen, going downstairs to the wine cellar. She knew the exact wine Miranda would want.
Miranda stepped into Caroline's room first. “Are you sleeping, my Darling?”
“Mom?” The girl rolled over and smiled. “No, not yet. I didn't know you were home.”
Smiling at the girl, she shrugged. “I just got here.”
Caroline's eyes narrowed at the way her Mom moved. “The meeting didn't go well, huh?”
Miranda shook her head. “Not at all. Jean Paul's designs are a disaster this year.”
The girl's eyebrows rose. “Then what are you going to do with those six pages in the August issue?!”
Chuckling, Miranda patted the girl's shoulder gently. “No worries Caroline, your old mom has a trick or two up her sleeve.”
Snorting at that, Caroline nodded. “You always know how to get things done.”
She kissed the girl's cheek and accepted a kiss on the cheek in return. “Good night, my Darling.”
“Cassidy?” Miranda whispered as she moved quietly into the room. “Are you sleeping, my Darling?”
“Mom?” Cassidy sat up in the bed and welcomed a hug from her mother. “I'm surprised you're home this early.”
“Ah… well, the meeting didn't go as long as it could have.” Miranda hoped she could still salvage the situation as she had so casually boasted to Caroline.
Cassidy heard the disappointment in her mother's voice. “Oh… bad huh?”
“Mmmm… I believe you are developing the art of understatement.” Miranda smiled at her daughter. “No worries for you though.” She leaned over and kissed her daughter's cheek. “Good night my Darling, sweet dreams.”
Laying back down, Cassidy smiled at her mother and closed her eyes. “G'night Mom.”
Miranda was grateful to see Andrea waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. When she reached the young woman, Miranda embraced her for a long moment, leaned on her heavily and confessed, “I'm extremely tired.”
“So I see.” Andy smiled softly and almost knew the answer to the next question. “How'd the meeting go?”
“Terrible.” Miranda complained. “Jean Paul has had a bad year. His designs were awful.”
Andy left one arm around Miranda's waist and turned to lead her back to the sitting area. “Awwww…” Squeezing the woman's waist gently as they walked, Andy led her to her favorite chair and handed Miranda a half-full wine glass as she settled into her own favorite spot, right next to Miranda.
“Thank you, Andrea.” Miranda took a deep drink and after an appreciative look up at Andrea for the favor and the vintage, she turned to Dorothy who had retaken her previous seat. “Would you like a glass?” She indicated the wine.
“Oh, no thank you, I don't drink often. Wine especially makes me tipsy for some reason.”
Andy grinned at the thought of her mother being a light weight drinker, and for some reason the thought of her drinking a glass of punch at James Holt's party danced through her mind. If wine takes her down, she'd be doing the Conga after a few sips of the punch. Miranda's voice brought Andy out of her thoughts.
“Are you enjoying your visit?”
“Yes,” Dorothy was carefully polite to her daughter's…whatever. “It's been enjoyable so far.”
“Perhaps Andrea can take you sight-seeing tomorrow…” Miranda thought about the paparazzi, there were only a handful of them outside right now, but during the day the numbers increased. She sighed, taking another sip of her drink. “…Perhaps not.”
“Andrea will be working.” Dorothy smiled to herself as she realized how differently she and Miranda pronounced the girl's name and shrugged, not really caring about sight-seeing.
“Um… hello… I'm, right here??” She waved at the women from her perch on the arm of Miranda's chair. “Must you talk about me like I'm not here?” Her hand naturally fell to Miranda's shoulder, automatically brushing some of the white hair away from the woman's neck, giving her fingers better access. She directed her comment toward her mother. “We can do whatever you want tomorrow Ma. Working from home makes scheduling easy.”
Miranda looked up at her partner. “Working from home??”
“Mmm… Greg thought it would be best, for a couple of weeks maybe. The horde in front of the Mirror building was kind of disruptive.” She brushed Miranda's cheek with the backs of her fingers, and looked kind of sheepish. “I think he was angry with me, for letting someone else break the story of our engagement.”
“He is angry at himself for not stipulating the specifics of your deal with him.” Miranda chuckled. “It's a Rookie mistake.”
Andy laughed. “Greg has been an editor for nearly ten years.”
Miranda grinned. “As I said, Rookie.”
Dorothy spoke up. “Deal?”
Andy grinned. “I made a deal with my editor. It's how I got my two weeks off around my birthday. I told him I'd give him the exclusive on my relationship. At the time he didn't know it was Miranda, but he realized it was someone famous and probably suspected my partner was female.”
“Why would he suspect that?” Dorothy wondered how someone could tell Andrea was…
“The pronoun game.” Andy shrugged. “I was so used to it, but he caught on…” She saw her mother's confusion. “I never used the words ‘he' or ‘she' when talking about my relationship… I'd say ‘this person' or ‘they' or ‘we'… He must have realized that. Usually people do that when they don't want to tell the gender of their partner and they usually don't want to tell because it's the same as their own.”
“I see.” Dorothy nodded.
Andy continued speaking, absently playing with the white hair under her fingertips. “What he didn't know was that I was planning on giving him the story anyway.” She grinned at her mother's shocked expression. “So basically I got two weeks off for doing what I was going to do anyway. He wasn't too thrilled to find that out either.”
Miranda had been sipping her wine as Andrea spoke, the young woman had refilled her glass to the halfway point once, from the bottle sitting on the low table in front of them. Between today's activities, the alcohol both here and at her dinner and Andrea's wandering fingers, the Editor began to feel very, very sleepy. “It has been a very long day. I'm going to have to take a nap before the Book arrives.”
Dorothy didn't understand that comment but Andy was nodding.
“Yep, it's been a long day.” The brunette nodded and she reminded her partner. “You haven't had much sleep the last few nights. C'mon.” She stood and offered her hand to Miranda. Even though she'd previously refused, Andy spoke to her mother as she motioned toward the bottle of wine and the two empty glasses. “Help yourself. I'll be back in a little bit.”
Dorothy nodded and watched them walking down the hall toward the front stairs. After a few minutes she gave in and reached for the bottle and one of the empty glasses on the tray next to it.
“I shouldn't be this tired.” Miranda complained. “Today was long, but not that difficult.”
“Miranda,” Andy smiled at the love of her life. “The last good night's sleep you had was on Martha's Vineyard. For the past few nights you've only gotten a few hours at a time, and that was restless.” She gently tilted the woman's head up so their eyes could meet. “No one can keep up that schedule. Not even you.” She kissed the older woman gently. “Get some sleep, I'll wake you when the Book gets here.” She hoped the Art department was slow tonight. Miranda really did need some sleep. To her surprise the Editor shook her head.
“No. Don't wake me.” Miranda accepted defeat. “I'll get up early and work on it, set the alarm for three-thirty am.”
“Okay.” Andrea re-set the alarm clock, five hours in a row would help significantly. “I would love to stay and help you fall asleep.”
“No, you should go visit with Dorothy.” Miranda dragged herself to the bathroom and began quickly taking off her makeup. “I'll be asleep before my head hits the pillow, I'm sure.”
Andy slid her arms around her partner's waist and kissed the back of her neck. “Okay, but I'll be there when you wake up.”
“Mmmm…” Miranda's loving blue eyes found Andrea's reflection in the mirror. “Waking up in your arms is one of the great pleasures of my life.” Scrubbing the last of her makeup off, Miranda turned in Andy's arms and locked her fingers behind the young woman's neck. “ You , Andrea, are one of the great pleasures of my life.”
“Sweet talker.” Dark eyes fastened on now makeup free lips and Andy bent down to capture them, her tongue tasting nothing but pure Miranda as it snaked out over the soft skin for a brief moment. “I love you, Miranda.” She smiled as the older woman leaned heavily into her. The mumbled response was muffled in her shoulder.
“And I you…”
Chuckling at how cute Miranda was when she was tired, knowing it was true fatigue as her response sounded decidedly ‘English', Andy kissed the top of the white head. “Get some sleep. I don't think Ma will want to stay up too much longer so I'll be to bed soon.”
Nodding, Miranda changed into her pajama's as quickly as she could and crawled into bed. Andy hit the lights on the way out and smiled as Miranda's even breathing told her that the older woman was, in fact, already asleep.
“Ma?” Andy's eyes widened and she glanced at the bottle of wine on the table. It was considerably emptier than when she'd taken Miranda upstairs. “Are you okay, Ma?”
“No.” The woman slumped in her chosen chair and frowned. “I lied to you, Andrea. When you called to tell us about the coming out article… You asked to speak to your father and he refused to come to the phone.” She sounded angry. “He made me lie to you! He made me tell you he wasn't there.” Now there were tears in her eyes. “He was there Andy, but he didn't come to the phone.”
“Ma…” Andy smiled at the woman. Setting aside the woman's empty glass, she held her mother's restless hands between her own. “Ma… I know he was there. I heard the tv change channel while you were talking to me. It's okay. I'm not going to make him talk to me if he doesn't want to.”
“It's not okay! You're his daughter! He should at least…” Dorothy growled and looked apologetic. “I lied to you.”
“Ma…” Andy gently pulled the woman to her feet. “C'mon, you need some sleep too. We can talk about this tomorrow.” She led the woman to her room and helped her prepare for bed, the thought that this was very similar to what she had done for Miranda was pushed out of her mind very quickly. Hugging her mother goodnight, Andy left the guest room and went back downstairs.
She started to tidy up the sitting area, picking up the nearly empty bottle of wine. She contemplated it for a moment, then took the last clean empty glass and was able to fill it almost halfway with the remainder of the bottle. Sitting in the chair Miranda had been sitting in briefly, Andy sipped the drink and thought about what she'd just done. She'd helped Miranda prepare for bed, then she'd helped her Mother. She sipped the wine. But, Miranda was not her Mother, the women just happened to be in similar states of mind at the moment and both needed her help. She loved her mother, most of the time, but she was in love with Miranda. The gap between those two states of being was wide enough to fit three grand canyons into and still have room to move around. Draining the rest of the wine from her glass, Andy gathered the empty bottle and the glasses, carrying them carefully to the kitchen. She'd put the bottle in the recycling bin and the glasses in the dishwasher when she heard the locks on the door being opened. Wiping her hands on a towel, she flicked the lights off in the kitchen and walked back down the hall to find Emily hanging the dry cleaning in the closet.
“Oh!” Emily put her hand on her chest. “Andy, you startled me.”
“Sorry,” Andy grabbed the hanger for the dry cleaning before Emily dropped it. “Here, let me get that.” She lifted the heavy clothing to hang it up.
“Thank you.” Emily smiled. “Is Miranda in the study?”
“No, she's already sleeping.” Andy shrugged at Emily shocked expression. “She was exhausted.”
“But…” Emily put the Book on the customary table.
Waving off the concern, Andy reassured the woman. “She's going to get up early to look over the Book.” Andy sighed. “I'd rather her do that than stay up until all hours of the night, then many times she just doesn't get any sleep.”
“I had no idea.” Emily was thoughtful about that bit of information. Miranda stays up all night working on the Book?
“No one has any idea, Em.” Andy smiled sadly. “No one knows what Miranda does for the sake of Runway.” She looked at the assistant and quietly asked. “Did you know that one month last year Miranda was so busy at work, she lost so much weight that she nearly had to go to the hospital?”
Emily's eyes widened in shock at that news. “No, I…”
“She doesn't take care of herself when she's working, Em.” Andy put her hand on the redhead's shoulder. “That is why we have to do it for her. Make sure she eats, make sure she rests… keep her schedule light.” Andy shook the shoulder under her hand to stop the protest. “I know that isn't always possible, but if it is… please, try to space out her meetings and keep them earlier in the day, so if she is exhausted she can at least nap in the evening before the Book arrives.”
Emily gave a sharp nod. “Right.”
“Thanks, Em.” Andy looked at the door. “Reporters give you any trouble?”
Snorting, Emily pointed to the door with her thumb. “That lot? They're nothing.”
“Good.” She pulled the girl into a brief hug. “Thanks again, for everything.”
Emily huffed. “Andrea, I'm just doing my job.”
“I know,” Andy smiled and walked the woman to the door. “And don't think Miranda and I don't appreciate it.”
Looking Andy directly in the eye, Emily exhaled through her nose and smiled shyly. “I honestly never thought you didn't.”
Andy gave the woman a small smile and a wink then opened the door for her. “Goodnight, Emily.”
“Goodnight, Andy,” Emily stepped out onto the stoop and heard the locks clicking behind her. She nodded to herself and thought about what Andy had said, and the tone of voice when she'd said it. They aren't just a ‘couple' , Emily realized. They are together, really together. With that much love… maybe they even have a chance at being happy. Miranda deserves to be happy. She grudgingly admitted to herself. I suppose Andrea deserves it too.
Andy slid into bed with a sigh of relief, she moved close to Miranda, her long arm draping over the older woman's waist. Miranda made a contented noise and snuggled closer before breathing deeply and relaxing back into sleep.
This is the difference. Andy thought and closed her eyes, to revel in the love that surrounded her. When I hug Ma, I feel like a child. Holding Miranda is so different, I certainly don't feel like a child when my arms are around her, when her arms are around me. There had been a few weird moments tonight, she could almost comprehend how people could argue the age difference thing, but they just didn't understand, they couldn't feel what she felt. She didn't care how much difference there was between their ages, because this… this was right, this was where she belonged.
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