They had toyed with the idea of walking to the little deli, but once outside all three women realized that it was far too hot to walk, and if they were going to be in the car they could go anywhere. And that was how Dorothy ended up at the fanciest restaurant she'd ever been to, in her life.

"Wow…" Dorothy nearly stopped short just inside the door but continued with Miranda and Andy up to the Maitre'd. The decision to come here had been last minute and Dorothy wondered how long a wait they'd have for a table. She very nearly rolled her eyes as the well dressed man lit up as they approached. I should have known. It surprised her though because the snide thought wasn't actually snide, she had meant it that way, but somehow in her head it just sounded, amused.

"Miranda!" The man exchanged air kisses with the Editor and smiled at the women accompanying her, lingering on Andrea for a moment, before turning back to Miranda. "Is this your entire party?"

Miranda nodded once, rather sharply, piercing blue eyes narrowed at the attention he was giving Andrea. "The usual booth will do nicely."

He bowed and smiled, "Follow me."

As he led them through the maze of tables, Dorothy was struck by the atmosphere of the restaurant. It was nothing but luxurious; even if she was blind she'd have known this was a five star place. The lack of noise made everything seem so much nicer than anything she'd ever encountered. She was amazed by the booth they'd been led to; a circular table with a plush bench curving around it, nestled into the wall. Miranda slid into the space and Andrea entered the other end of the bench to slide around next to the woman's left side. Dorothy joined them, moving next to Andy, but leaving some space between them as well. There was very little space between Miranda and Andy.

The Maitre'd smiled and bowed again, "Your server will be right with you." With a nod of dismissal from Miranda, he pulled a heavy curtain across the front of the space, leaving the women in privacy.

"So," Andy grinned and leaned into Miranda. "Come here often?"

The Editor snorted in amusement. "Oh… A time or two." She grinned. "It's a good place for business meetings." A small knock was followed by the curtain being pushed back enough for the waitress to enter the space. "May I get you some drinks?"

"Bring us a bottle of red wine, and…" She looked at Dorothy, "What would you prefer? I remember you said you don't imbibe often."

"Sweet tea?" Dorothy blinked at the older woman. How thoughtful of her to remember…

The waitress bobbed her curly brown head and smiled. "Back in a moment." She stepped back through the curtain and closed it.

Dorothy was a little confused. "Will she bring us menus?"

Miranda shook her head. "No, just order what you want and they'll make it. Whatever you normally order when you go out…"

Dorothy's eyes widened. "Uh…" She looked at her daughter. "What are you going to have?"


"Andrea," Miranda lowered her voice in a warning tone. "You aren't doing one of Emily's silly diets are you?"

"No, Miranda." Andy smiled. "I just like salads, especially on hot days."

"Hmmm…" Miranda studied her partner for a moment. The young woman did order salads on occasion. "Very well then."

The waitress returned with the drinks and after Miranda had approved the vintage she poured for Miranda and Andy then asked if they were ready with their food orders. Miranda nodded and spoke, "I will have a porterhouse, medium rare." With the briefest of glances at Dorothy, the editor specified her order. "No sides." She turned to Andrea.

Andy smiled at her partner and then at the waitress. "I would like a grilled chicken Caesar salad, with no croutons." She ignored Miranda's narrowing eyes and looked to her mother. "Ma?" Andy prompted. "Just tell her what you are in the mood for and the chefs will prepare it. Anything you want. Anything from burgers to Porterhouse steaks… "

Now the waitress understood the woman's hesitation and turned a small smile on her customer. She spoke quietly. "One of our chefs makes an awesome burger."

"Really?" Dorothy returned the smile. "That does sound good." She got a little bolder. "That wouldn't happen to come with fries would it?"

The waitress winked. "It just so happens, that it does."

"Good." Dorothy nodded. "I'll take that."

The waitress bobbed her head once and was gone.

Dorothy watched her go and then remained quiet as she watched the conversation her dining companions were having.

Miranda turned to Andy. "No croutons…"

Shaking her head, the brunette held up her hand to stall Miranda's speech, then brushed the backs of her fingers lightly on Miranda's cheek. "I'm not on some weird Emily diet. I just don't like croutons." Andy reminded her partner. "You know I always pick them out anyway."

"Mmm…" Miranda nodded, nearly convinced but she wanted Andrea to realize what was at stake. "You need to eat normally, for the girls."

"It's a salad, Miranda. It's got chicken in it and everything…" Andy looked into concerned blue eyes, "I'm not starving myself." She linked arms with the older woman and laid her head on Miranda's shoulder. "If it will make you feel better, I promise I'll eat a snack with the girls when they get home from school." She felt a little creepy assuring Miranda she would do something that she normally did anyway, but if it made the woman feel better, Andy could live with it.

"I'll make sure she does." Dorothy gave the startled pair a small smile. "Yeah… still here." She was amazed that Miranda had the grace to blush. Andy bit her bottom lip grimacing at the scene she realized they'd just displayed.

"Sorry, Ma."

Dorothy began to nod, then shook her head, chiding herself for ever doubting her daughter's decision and thought, They care about each other, she corrected herself almost immediately, No, you know that's not exactly true. Watching them, spending time with them, she realized that this was not some older woman on a power trip, not some young naive girl with hero worship. They are in love. She sighed, "Okay, listen to me, because I'm only gonna say this once. Someone once told me, 'Do not, ever, apologize for loving the person you love.' It's good advice." She smiled to herself at the shock on both women's faces. "I'm trying very hard, Andrea, to deal with the fact that my daughter is all grown up and able to make choices for herself." With a deep breath, she continued. "But no matter how old you get, you will always be my child and I will always be concerned about your happiness." Now she looked directly into her daughter's eyes. "Do you understand? You are my child, and I love you, no matter what."

Andy spoke past the lump in her throat. "That's what Daddy said…"

Dorothy nodded. "Give him time."

"I told you, Andrea." Miranda smiled at Andy. "No one can resist you for long."

Laughing softly at that, Andy flashed a shy kind of smile at Miranda and reminded the woman, "You did."

Miranda grinned at that. "It wasn't easy you know…. But yes, I did resist for quite a while, of course I am exceptional…" Exceptionally stubborn, she thought. "And I have some practice with tough situations."

Dorothy played with her silverware and grinned. "Your daughters seem to be able to handle themselves as well…."

"What do you mean?" Miranda narrowed her eyes at the woman.

"In Cincinnati, at the birthday party. Remember I told you how Donna's children were mean?"

Andy sat up straighter. "What did they do, Ma?"

"Apparently they were 'teasing' the twins about being from New York… 'just like the Sopranos'." Dorothy pressed her lips together, mostly in amusement. "And after just a few minutes of that, the twins informed the terrible trio that if they didn't 'lay off with the jokes' they were going to 'have Tony put a hit out on them'." She couldn't hold back her laughter now. "I had wondered why those children were so well behaved that day." She spoke through her laughter. "I'm not sure which one actually said it, Caroline or Cassidy."

Both Miranda and Andy spoke simultaneously. "Caroline." They both knew the girls well enough to know it was Caroline who was the instigator, Cassidy usually just went with it.

Miranda continued, "And she will hear about it tonight. That was not acceptable behavior." She turned to Andrea. "Do not speak to them until I get home. We will confront them together."

Andy nodded compliance. "Okay. They'll be late anyway, today is Wednesday."

"Ah," Miranda nodded. "The study group." This was to be the group's first meeting. School was nearly out of session, but the group of students had decided to meet during the summer to keep their lessons from entirely escaping them.

Turning to her mother, Andy smiled. "Thanks for letting us know, Ma."

"I only found out the day I called to tell you I was coming for a visit, after I called you." Dorothy sighed. "Donna was upset to say the least, but I told her that your girls must surely have been joking, just playing along with the teasing, because obviously the Soprano's weren't 'real'." Dorothy rolled her eyes. "I think I convinced her to drop the issue."

Miranda looked at Dorothy and spoke two words that very few people ever heard coming from the white-haired woman. "Thank you." She heard Andrea's sharp intake of breath, but continued, "You stood up for my daughters, and I won't forget it."

Dorothy shrugged. "Our family has enough internal tension… any of it I can diffuse only does the family good."

The waitress knocking stalled the conversation and they all eagerly accepted the food delivery. "Is there anything else I can get you?" She looked at what she deemed the older woman of the group. "More sweet tea?"

Dorothy looked at the barely lowered level of liquid in her glass. "Not right now, thank you."

Smiling at them all, the waitress nodded. "Enjoy your meal, ladies." She backed out quickly and made sure the curtain was completely closed before she left.

Miranda cut into her steak and smiled at the interior color. Keeping her expression bland, she speared a small bit with her fork and spoke. "They are, you know." She lifted her fork to her mouth, speaking just before taking the bite. "The Soprano's, they are real." She tasted the meat and grinned at her dining companions' expressions as she chewed.

"No Way…Miranda…" Andy narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "You're kidding, right?"

"You have to be kidding." Dorothy couldn't tell anything by the woman's expression.

Shrugging, Miranda swallowed and took another bite, enjoying the doubt she'd put in their heads. "New York has always had organized crime."

"Well… yeah… but…" Andy noticed a tiny curl at the corner of Miranda's lips and laughed. "You goof! Don't scare us like that." She saw her mother relax slightly as she caught on that Miranda was teasing them.

"Andrea, I'm sure I have no idea what you are talking about. Teasing? Me?" Blue eyes twinkled. "Really," she put as much haughty disbelief in her tone as she could. "The very idea…"

They all chuckled at that then went about the business of eating.



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