Disclaimer: See Part 1
When they'd returned from lunch, the reporter had discovered three more article assignments waiting in her inbox. Luckily they were what Greg considered ‘filler' articles, to print when there was a slow news day and the paper's content seemed a little thin. If she finished them quickly enough she could relax and enjoy the evening with her family.
As focused as she was, Andy was still aware of what was going on in the house. Murmuring voices carried down the hall from her mother and Peggy's chat in the kitchen. The girls had arrived home from their study group, and after the promised shared snack with them, they'd gone up to the tv room to play video games, they'd said. When the phone rang she knew one of the girls would get it, it was most likely for them anyway. She chuckled to herself, if they're this bad as pre-teens, we'll never get to use the phone when they are teens!
“Andy… Mom's on the phone…” Caroline held out the item for Andy to take.
“Hello, Beautiful.” Andy grinned as Caroline rolled her eyes, exactly how she imagined Miranda was doing too. She listened to the Editor speaking and got the gist of what she was trying to say, without saying it.
“So you're going to be late tonight.” Miranda's sigh made it through the connection. “It's okay, Miranda. Ma and I are just chatting, I'll put the girls to bed…” She smiled sheepishly at what was nearly a reprimand. “Yes, on time.” Andy knew she had a bad habit of letting the girls stay up past their normal bedtime. “Don't worry…” Andy winked at the girl. “I've got it covered.”
Caroline's eyes lit up at the wink and the girl knew they'd get an extra fifteen minutes tonight at least. She ran upstairs to let Cassidy know.
Andy wanted to make sure Miranda was taking care of herself though. “Have you eaten yet?” Andy sighed and shook her head at the answer. “Miranda….” The reprimand died on her tongue. “I'll send something.”
Andy closed her eyes to savor the words from the woman on the other end of the phone connection and smiled at the receiver. “And I you.” The call disconnected and Andy took a moment holding the edge of the phone to her lips. Dorothy's quiet voice broke the silence.
“She really loves you.”
Andy settled back into the cushion's of the couch in the study and watched her mother carefully. “We love each other.”
“Yes, I see that.” Dorothy picked up her cup of tea and took a sip. “I still don't understand why… I mean, really you could have anyone you want… why her?”
Andy shrugged, “I can't explain it, Ma.”
Dorothy sighed, “Of course you can't.” No more than I could explain why I fell in love with Richard. She set her cup on the coffee table. “I'm going home tomorrow.”
Holding up her hand to stop her daughter from talking, Dorothy smiled. “I spoke with your father earlier, he wants me to come home.”
“He wants…” Realization dawned on Andy. “He didn't want you to come to New York in the first place.”
Pressing her lips together tightly, Dorothy shook her head. “He's my husband, but he can't tell me what I can or can't do with regards to you…” Most everything else, but not that.
“Because you love me.” Andy smiled, remembering what Miranda had told her. “You're just like Miranda, she wouldn't let anyone stop her from making sure her daughters were okay either.”
“Miranda and I have something in common?” Dorothy chuckled. “I doubt that very much and I doubt she would think so either.” She isn't what I thought she was though…
Andy grinned. “Wanna bet?”
“No.” Dorothy chuckled. “I'm going to have to be getting back home, but I expect to return, to help with the… the wedding planning.”
Andy smiled. “I love ya, Ma.”
A knock on the doorframe prevented Dorothy from responding and as both women turned to look at the door, a small head peeked around the corner.
“Can I come in?”
Andy smiled and gestured to the girl. “Sure Cass, what's up?”
“I um… kinda need help with this part of my homework.” Cassidy walked quickly to sit next to Andy on the couch. “See… I just don't understand this section…”
Andy glanced down at the page and nodded. She always had problems with this particular type of question too and narrowed her eyes at the page. “Doesn't Caroline have to do the same homework you do?”
“Yeah,” the girl spoke glumly. “But she doesn't have trouble with it and she doesn't want to help me!”
Frowning, Andy asked. “What about your study group?”
Cassidy wrinkled up her nose. “That was a bust for studying. The people had no intention of studying, all they wanted to do was goof off…” And make-out. Cassidy suppressed a shudder at that thought, although…
“Ah…” Andy locked her eyes with her mother's for half a second and grinned down at the girl. “You know what Cass? I'm a writer, and even though I use this stuff every day, I really can't explain it very well. However…” She waited for the girl to look up at her before she smiled and winked. “…your future grandma is a retired English teacher, and I think she could help you with this much better than I could.” She turned her big brown eyes on her mother and grinned. “What about it grandma? Think you can help?”
Dorothy took a deep breath and moved over to sit next to Cassidy. “Let's see what you've got, Girlie…”
“Well hello, Caroline.” Andy grinned as Cassidy's mirror image walked through the door.
“Caroline?” Cassidy widened her eyes as her sister moved toward the couch. She saw the paper in Caroline's hand and smiled warmly, understanding now that the only reason Caroline didn't want to help her was that Caroline didn't understand it either. “C'mon, Grandma's gonna help us figure this out.”
Dorothy blinked at the ease Cassidy spoke about her as ‘grandma'. With a deep breath and ironic grin, the woman motioned Caroline to sit next to them on the couch. “Sure we'll figure it out.”
Andy smiled and moved away, picking up her mother's empty tea cup. “I'll be back in a minute.” Neither girls nor woman acknowledged the statement. Andy held back her tears and swallowed hard, barely able to pull herself away from the sight of her mother and the girls that were as close to her heart as any daughters could ever be, sitting on the couch working on their homework.
“G'night, Munchkin.” Andy leaned forward and kissed sleepy Caroline on the forehead. “Sweet Dreams.”
“G'night Ma.” Caroline rolled over and closed her eyes, asleep nearly immediately.
Andy stood motionless for a long moment, stunned that Caroline had called her ‘Ma', but she's heard me calling Ma…Ma, all afternoon… she didn't really mean it. I'm just Andy to them… She walked into Cassidy's room and tucked her in, kissing her on the forehead. “G'night, Sweetheart.”
Cassidy grabbed Andy's arm as the woman began to walk out of the room. “Andy?”
Large dark eyes turned on the girl. “What is it, Sweetie?”
“I really like having your mom as a grandma…” Cassidy pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. “I think I'll really like it a lot too when…” The girl stopped, not sure if she should tell Andy or not.
Andy sat on the edge of the girl's bed and ruffled her fingers through the curly red hair. “Hey, you can't stop there… now I'm curious. When what?”
“When I can call you…” Cassidy sighed, “…Ma.”
Putting her hand on her heart to stop the fluttering, Andy smiled at the girl. “You wanna know a secret?”
Cassidy nodded, wide eyed, and a little breathless. She sat up in the bed. “Yeah…”
Wrapping her arms carefully around Cassidy's shoulders, Andy pressed her cheek against Cassidy's soft hair. “I'm going to love that, whenever you decide to do it.”
“Really…” Cassidy heard the words and understood them perfectly. It was okay… really okay to call Andy, Ma, right now. “Okay then, Ma.” She smiled at the woman as she lay back in her bed. “G'night.”
Andy clicked off the lights and pushed the word past the lump in her throat, into the darkness. “G'night.”
“If I could change the lens…”
Nigel tried. “The lighting does seem off…perhaps the moon is too covered… perhaps a break until…” Miranda's face-melting glare stopped his speech cold.
“The shoot will continue until it produces the images I require.” Turning to the photographer, Miranda's eyebrows rose and she tilted her head slightly. “Go.”
Nigel shook his head and wiped his hand across his smooth head. “Okay…” He followed the man with the camera and motioned for the models to take their places. They all tried to avoid Miranda's glare.
Whirling at the voice behind her, Miranda let her frustration loose on the newcomer. “ What ?!” She gasped as she recognized the face and her eyes widened. “Andrea?”
“Um… yeah.” With a small smile, Andy was suddenly unsure if this was a good idea. “Hi?” Her fears dissipated when Miranda moved into her, and she found herself locked in the older woman's arms. “You okay?”
“No.” Miranda sighed, “I wasn't.” Pulling away, reluctantly, the Editor looked up into concerned dark eyes. “What brings you here, my love?” Suddenly she was concerned. “The girls?”
“They're fine.” Andy smiled. “Ma is there if they need anything, but when I left they were asleep.”
“Then why are you here?”
“You sounded… odd, on the phone and I wanted to make sure you were okay.” Andy dipped her head down to touch the tip of Miranda's nose with her own. She dropped the pack she carried from her shoulders. “I brought you some soup…from home.” She grinned at the woman's scowl. “And some coffee, interested?”
Miranda laid her head on Andy's shoulder. “Mmmm… does it mean I have to move?”
Andy chuckled and ran her fingers through the soft white hair under her hand. She looked over the top of Miranda's head and saw the activity of the shoot, in progress. “So what is the concept for this one?”
Shaking her head, Miranda scoffed. “Supposedly a kind of going off to college, whole new world sort of thing.” Only the last bit didn't sound like Miranda normally pronounced it.
Uh oh, Andy thought, English accent alert. “Sounds good.” She guided the Editor to a nearby bench. “So what's the problem?”
“I don't know!” Miranda sighed. “That is the problem.” She accepted a cup of coffee from the thermos Andy had brought and took a sip. “When I look at the pictures they just don't seem… right to me.” She sighed as the coffee hit her system. “Patrick picked this location, but now he is unable to do the photography, so I've been stuck with this idiot… There was an emergency in Accessories, so I ended up being late arriving here, Michael had already arrived and set up his equipment… but the photos are just…wrong, and I can't seem to determine why!”
“Shhhh… Take a minute to drink your coffee.” Andy scooted closer, wrapping one arm around the irate woman, laying the other across the back of the bench. She reminded the woman. “You've had a very long day.” Her eyes twinkled. “We woke up pretty early this morning.”
“Mmmm…” Miranda smiled at the memory. “We certainly did.”
Andy nodded. “I hate waking up that early, but I'll make allowances for you.”
Snorting at that Miranda laughed, drawing some of the models' attention.
Andy chuckled as the models suddenly found the grass growing under their feet extremely interesting. “I'm ruining your reputation.”
“What reputation?” Miranda brushed the backs of her fingers along Andrea's cheek.
“You don't laugh at work, at least not…”
“Not what?” Miranda prompted.
“Not nicely. You have a chilling laugh, a fake laugh… those the halls of Runway have heard. But, your laugh, your real one… that, you save for home, for me.” Andy leaned down to whisper in a delicate ear. “I kind of like it that way.”
“Andrea, shall we give that photographer lurking behind the tree something to sell?”
Andy chuckled. “Persistence like that should be rewarded.”
Miranda nodded. “I agree…” Her hand on the back of Andrea's head guided the young woman's lips to meet hers and they lost themselves in each other for a long moment. When they finally pulled away from each other, both women grinned as there was a sudden flurry of activity from the models and photographer. The lurking paparazzi had vanished.
Andy caught Nigel staring at them and gave him a small salute as he gave her a half bow. When Nigel turned his attention back to the models, Andy looked at the scene and tilted her head. Very quietly, she spoke. “Miranda, may I ask a question?”
“It's supposed to be…going off to school? Entering a whole new world… Um… why are they standing there…” She nodded at the people to her left, “…instead of there…” She looked to her right somewhat past the benches that were scattered around the fountain, “… where the archway is…that would be like, an entrance, right?”
Blinking, Miranda looked back and forth between the people and the archway. “He set up in the wrong spot!” The look in the tired blue eyes was murderous. “He's wasted all this time!” She stood, intent on causing the photographer bodily harm.
“Miranda!” Andy caught her arm and urged her back to the bench. “Wait a minute.” She pulled the woman into her lap. “You are much too tired and upset.” She pressed her ear to Miranda's heart. “Let me…take care of this for you.”
“It's my job, Andrea.”
“I know that,” Andy looked up, adoringly. “And you've made the decision, let me carry it out for you.” She smiled as she stood, bringing Miranda with her then turned and gently pressed the tired woman back onto the seat. “You can sit on this bench, sip your soup, and supervise.” With a final admonishing finger wag that ended with a tap on the end of Miranda's nose, Andy winked and walked away from the bench toward the group of models.
Miranda poured herself a cup of soup and observed as Andrea took control of the shoot. She sipped the familiar flavor and watched as her employees began to do Andrea's bidding. The coffee was doing its job of waking her up and Miranda used the mug to hide a smile, as Andy deftly maneuvered the people to the new location.
I'm going to marry her.
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