Disclaimer: See Part 1
Andy returned to the bench and flopped down. “Michael will bring over a few preliminary pictures for you to review before they finish the shoot.”
“Of course.” Miranda patted Andrea's thigh. “It won't be necessary. They will be good now that he has the correct location.” She brushed some hair away from Andrea's face, tucking it behind one of her ears. “Why don't you go on home? I'll wait for the pictures and then join you soon.”
Andy pushed the lock of hair that always fell across Miranda's eye, back into place and smiled. “I'll wait.” Looking around she spotted a drinking fountain in the distance. “I'm going to get a drink. Be right back.”
Miranda laughed. “There are bottles of water in the cooler at the catering table.”
Waving off that suggestion, Andy stood. “A short walk will wake me up.” Movement behind the tree made the young woman grin. “Our persistent photographer is back.”
“Mmmm…” Miranda sighed. “So I noticed.” She paid no attention whatsoever to the shoot, fully absorbed in the vision of Andrea's backside as the woman walked away. Moments later a rather high-pitched voice pulled Miranda's attention in a different direction, refocusing on a tall, extremely thin blonde running up the path. Miranda stood up to confront what was obviously one of the models, who was extremely late for the shoot.
“Sorry…. Sorry sorry sorry…. So sorry I'm late!” The woman moved directly toward Miranda and wrapped her arms around the older woman.
Miranda almost automatically tried to pull away but opened her arms wide so as not to touch the presumptuous woman. “Excuse me?”
Releasing the hold, the blonde smiled and bent down before Miranda knew it, placing a not so quick kiss on the white-haired woman's lips.
Now Miranda understood and even though she'd kept her mouth tightly closed during the assault, she ran her tongue over her teeth and lips before spitting out what she had collected. A particularly un-Miranda-like action, but the Editor decided it was wholly necessary. “You aren't a model.”
The woman preened a bit and spoke smugly, “Not yet.”
“Not ever .” Miranda's eyes were hard now. “Your photographer friend might be able to sell that picture you just staged. However, if it is published, you will never work in this industry. If you are lucky you will be able to find employment at the catering table.”
“But… I… he said…”
“I have a very good idea what he told you, but it isn't true. You will most likely get your fifteen minutes, after that, you will be a nameless face in the crowd.” Miranda looked as though she was going to take a step forward, menacing enough for the woman to step back. “I'm becoming very angry at you, and him…”
“Ohhhh….” Andy's voice was low and almost amused behind the blonde. “Don't make her angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.”
Whirling at the voice, not understanding that turning your back on an angry Miranda is a very stupid thing to do, the blonde faced Andy, who she recognized instantly from the tabloids. “Oh, it's you!” The blonde licked her lips and gave Andy a half smile indicating behind her with a bit of head motion and a flick of her eyes, “You're a lucky girl.”
Dark eyes narrowed and long brunette hair shifted in the breeze, “You want to leave, now.”
Nodding, the blonde took a few steps away then looked back and gave them both a full smile. “See you in the papers.”
Miranda dismissed the woman's presence and turned to face her partner. “Andrea…”
“Shhhh….” Andy placed two fingers on Miranda's lips. “Shhh… it's okay, I saw everything.” She smiled and shook her head. “Tabloid photographers are decidedly disgusting creatures who will do anything for a photo.”
“That is going to cause a lot of problems when it's published…” Wrapping her arms around Andrea's middle, Miranda held the young woman tightly, resting her head on the broad shoulder. “I should have seen it coming. I'm sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry about.” Andy grinned. “At least they sent you a decent looking woman.”
“Mmmm… she was quite attractive…” Miranda looked up at her love and winked. “…for a clothes hanger.”
Andy draped on arm around Miranda's shoulders and they moved to sit on the bench. “She was awfully thin.”
“It just makes it more plausible. She looked like a model, which I'm surrounded by all day, almost every day, therefore kissing one would be more likely than finding someone outside the industry to cheat on you with…”
Laughing, Andy squeezed the shoulder under her arm. “Given this a lot of thought, have we?” The soft scoffing sound that escaped Miranda made Andy laugh even harder.
“You really have no problem with this?” The Editor was amazed by Andrea's lack of jealousy… and a little concerned by it. Does she just not care?
“If I thought it was real… I'd have torn her scrawny little leg off and beat her over the head with it.” Andy turned to look into Miranda's loving blue eyes. “If I thought for one second that you actually wanted to kiss someone else…like you kiss me...”
“Shhh…” It was Miranda's turn to soothe Andy. “I won't.” She pushed the lock of hair out of her eyes and shook her head for emphasis. “I won't ever want anyone, the way I want you.” She sighed. “We are going to have to deal with the pictures when they are published. It's going to be impossible to explain them, no one will believe the truth.”
“Impossible? Maybe…” Andy smiled and held up the hand not wrapped around Miranda, opening it to reveal a tiny digital camera memory card. “…but I figured since we had them we could just not publish them and save ourselves some trouble.”
“You!” Miranda chuckled and playfully slapped Andrea's belly. “You knew all along there weren't any pictures!”
Andy tilted her head and laughed. “Andrea Sachs, making the impossible possible since two thousand six.”
“I got my drink, then saw the woman running up the path. That was my first clue.” Andy chuckled. “I've seen a few models…scramble… scuttle… shuffle… and even stalk… but I've never seen a model run. Then I saw the photographer move into a position for a good shot, but he was waiting… so I knew it was all staged. I thought maybe he was trying to get a picture of you berating someone, but then I saw her hug you and knew what kind of set up it was.” Andy admitted. “I nearly let him get away, when I saw her kiss you.” She ruffled her bangs. “Anyway, I grabbed the camera, took the memory out, and sent him on his way.” She had nearly broken his camera, but decided against it. More than likely she'd just end up buying him another one, and it would probably turn out to be a better quality digital one. Andy grinned at the woman next to her. “So? Spill it. What was it like kissing her?”
“Hey! She kissed me , thank you very much.” Miranda grimaced. “I actually spit out as much as I could. I need coffee to wash the rest of it away.” Blue eyes took on a distinct puppy-dog quality. “She's a smoker, Andrea.”
Andy wrinkled up her nose and sighed. “You're out of coffee, but…” Andy traced her fingertips around the outline of Miranda's face. “Maybe I can help.” Knuckles under Miranda's chin held the woman's head steady so Andy could bring their lips together. Lightly at first, then deeper before Andy pulled away. “Miranda, how could you tell she was a smoker?”
Grinning, Miranda winked. “I could smell it on her clothes.” Shifting closer, Miranda leaned in to continue the kiss.
It was Andy's turn to pull away. She put her hand over Miranda's mouth and spoke to the man approaching them. “Got the pictures for Miranda?”
“Yes, Ma'am.” He handed over a small stack of Polaroid pictures.
The Editor looked through a few of the instantly developed images and nodded. “Yes, this is what I want.” Miranda sighed and gestured to Nigel. “Nigel will be in charge for the rest of the shoot. Have the photo sheets ready and on my desk by the time I arrive at the office tomorrow and I might allow you to work in this industry again.”
Andy was looking over Miranda's shoulder and spoke to the photographer quietly as the woman began to hand the pictures to Nigel, “You were taking some pictures with a digital camera earlier. May I see those?”
Michael, reluctantly, produced the camera in question. “Of course.”
Andy began scrolling through some images of the models. “Nice…” Dark eyes noticed the photographer growing more agitated by the second and grinned, continuing to scroll through the camera's content. “Oh… this one is very good, you could make a pretty penny for that one.” She held the camera over for Miranda to see, an excellently framed image of Miranda, her lips firmly pressed against the blonde woman's. “What a lucky happenstance for you.” Andy pressed the delete button and impassively continued looking at and deleting photo after photo of Miranda and the mysterious blonde. There were quite a few more pictures of the models. Eventually she encountered photos of Miranda and herself in fairly compromising positions. Those were ruthlessly deleted as well, though one was quite nice and Andy truly wished she could keep just that one, for herself. She scrolled past that one wanting to delete it last, after one final look at it.
Miranda sighed, slightly angry at herself for even thinking about giving the photographer the benefit of the doubt. She gestured to Nigel and waited a few seconds before he joined them. “You are in charge for the rest of the shoot. Secure all the film before he leaves.” She turned to the embarrassed man. “When the images belonging to Runway are secured you can go.”
Michael nodded, understanding perfectly. He was so fired, he wondered if the portrait place in the mall was hiring. Since he was fired anyway, he found the courage to speak, trying to explain. “I'm sorry I've broken any trust you might have had in me. I didn't take the pictures of you and Andy for profit. You are a beautiful couple, and I just wanted to capture that. I wouldn't have sold them.”
The Editor didn't believe him. “Finish your work, and leave.” Standing, she stalked away, toward the catering table, motioning Nigel to follow.
Michael nodded sadly.
Andy had listened to his little speech, but unlike Miranda, the journalist believed the man. She handed him his camera and spoke quietly. “I want an eight by ten of this one.” She gestured toward the screen and Michael looked seeing a beautiful shot of Andrea sitting on the bench with Miranda, Miranda's head on Andy's shoulder, Andy's cheek resting on top of Miranda's head.
He grinned at her. “That one was my favorite as well.”
Nodding, Andy took a deep breath. “Better go.” She spoke very softly. “Do the best job you can… I'll see what I can do.”
“Thanks.” He walked quickly back to the group of models, sliding the digital camera into his pocket and gripping the more traditional film camera in his hands. He checked his film supply, determined to do the best job he could. Not necessarily looking to impress Miranda, he knew that was a lost cause. He would do his best though, for Andy.
Andy moved to meet Miranda and escort her home.
It was quiet in the car for nearly half the ride, then Miranda spoke quietly. “How did you know Michael had taken those pictures with the other camera?”
Andy slid across the seat linking their elbows together, twining her fingers with Miranda's. “I told you, I saw everything.” She leaned her head to rest on Miranda's shoulder. “I didn't know about the earlier pictures of us, but I saw him when the blonde arrived and thought if he took pictures of the one scene it was a good bet there were more.”
“So he saw the situation and took advantage of that…” Miranda mused almost to herself. “… I wouldn't have thought he was that intelligent.”
“Ma is going home tomorrow.” Andy's eyes drifted closed. “She is… coping better with the idea of … us. I think she actually likes you a little.”
“Really.” Miranda highly doubted that Dorothy would ever like her.
“Mmm Hmmm…” Andy grinned. “She helped the girls with their homework tonight.”
“Really?” That did surprise Miranda. “So she's warming up to the girls.” The fastest way to my heart, I wonder if she knows that?
“Mmmm Hmmm….” Andy turned her head and kissed the tiny soft spot between Miranda's jaw and ear. “They call her grandma now.” She wasn't sure she wanted to tell Miranda the next part, but she didn't want her to be surprised if they did it in front of their Mom… “And…” Andy took a deep breath, “Sometimes, the girls call me… Ma.” She felt Miranda go very still and started talking quickly, almost apologetically. “I guess they've just been hearing me call Ma that and picked up on it… I mean, it probably doesn't mean anything, but I wanted you to know so….”
“Andrea…” Miranda's soft voice stopped any speech Andy may have made. “You are correct, it doesn't mean anything…” She turned to gaze deeply into her young love's eyes. “It means everything.”
They made it into the house and Miranda headed toward the stairs. “I'm going to check on the girls.”
Andy nodded and headed toward the kitchen. It was a habit Miranda had when she got home late; she always went to the girls' rooms first to reassure herself they were safe and sound. She wondered if the girls even knew she did it. “You want a drink?”
“A glass of wine would be lovely.” Miranda spoke absently as she continued on up the stairs.
Grinning, Andy opened the half bottle of wine she found in the fridge and poured them each half a glass. She carried the drinks upstairs, stopping on her way to their room to make sure her mother was sleeping comfortably.
Miranda accepted the wine with a smile and the glasses clinked together before the women drank. Miranda's eyes darkened. “To my hero.”
“Miranda…” Andy set aside her drink and rested her arms on Miranda's shoulders. Touching their foreheads together, Andy savored the closeness between them. “I will do anything I can to help you…”
“It just seems that it is always you doing things for me.” The older woman set aside her drink and moved closer. “I wish there was something I could do for you, something you need.”
Andy's eyes widened. “Um… the surveillance recordings?”
“I had nothing to do with that, Andrea. I told the detective that.”
“Yeah… but…” Andy was confused. “Then who?”
“It is a mystery.” Miranda led Andy to the bathroom. “But it will have to wait for the authorities to solve.” She began to wash the make-up off her face and nodded approval as Andrea did the same.
It didn't take long for them both to finish their nightly rituals and they found themselves snuggling in their comfy bed.
“You want to know what I need?” Andy pulled Miranda slightly closer and found the woman's ear with her lips, whispering “I need this , I need you , with me, always.”
“Andrea,” Miranda breathed. “That's easy.” She shifted slightly, bringing their eyes even with each other. “But that serves my needs as well.” She had no idea what would happen to her if she lost Andrea, but she knew it wouldn't be good. “You take care of me, every day, in so many ways. I probably haven't thanked you for that, I don't know if I could ever thank you enough for all the thoughtful little things you do. I do know I can never thank you enough for the big things you manage.”
“There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you, Miranda.” Andy leaned forward and gently kissed the soft lips so close to hers.
When they pulled away, Miranda cleared her throat. “I, um, got a call from your Detective friend this afternoon.”
“Oh.” Andy went quite still but tried to maintain a casual tone. “What did she have to say?”
“She informed me that everyone associated with the article that highlighted Stephen's comments about the girls and speculated if he was correct regarding their welfare, has been targeted with quite a bit of mischief.”
“Really?” Andy relaxed a bit. “What a coincidence.”
“The reporter has had his power turned off, his water shut off, the locks on his apartment have had keys broken off in them twice now, his car has been stolen, his credit cards have been discontinued, his bank account has been frozen…. The publication offices themselves haven't fared much better…I hear the IRS is now looking into their records.”
“Wow…” Andy pressed her lips together trying not to laugh. “I guess they did something they're going to regret for a long time.”
“Andrea…” Miranda sighed. “I'm not going to ask how you have accomplished this impossible feat. I'm just going to hope that you were very careful and pray that you don't get caught …”
Andy laughed and wrapped her arms around her fiancée, rolling them to press Miranda back against the mattress. “I've done nothing to warrant such a prayer.” Nothing except make a few phone calls to a few choice people and buy a few not-so-ex convicts I know some greasy Chinese food. She smiled to herself. It is amazing what a quart of pork fried rice will get you when given to the right people.
“If you say so.” Miranda savored the sensation of Andrea's weight on top of her. “I won't bring it up again.”
“Good.” Andy dropped her head to press her lips against Miranda's. She certainly didn't want to talk anymore and from the older woman's response, neither did Miranda.
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