Disclaimer: See Part 1
Andy stood as the door opened. It only took a second to meet Miranda halfway, wrapping her arms around the editor's waist. “Are you okay?” Andy automatically kissed her fiancée's neck. “You were wonderful… My God… getting her to threaten you…twice.”
“You heard that?” Miranda pulled away slightly. “I didn't get sound when you were on the stand.”
“I guess maybe because I went first?” Andy held on tighter. “I'm glad we did this, but I'm glad we're done. I don't ever want to see her again.”
“We can always hope.” Miranda distanced herself from the embrace, keeping contact only at their hands. “Let's go home.”
“That is the best idea I've heard all day.” Andy smiled and kissed Miranda's lips lightly. “We have some things to discuss,” She saw Miranda frown slightly. “But tonight I just want to forget all about Judy, and the idiot defense lawyer…the trial and all this… I just want it to be history…”
“Shhh…it can be, it will be. I'll make it happen.” Miranda tugged the young woman closer wrapping her arm around Andy's waist. “Tonight is for us.”
Smiling at the love of her life, Andy winked. “You bet it is.”
Pushing down her immediate fears about the private investigator, Andy realized she'd jumped to conclusions too many times, causing too many misunderstandings between them. So, the young woman took a deep breath and let it go, for now. Tomorrow though, Andy thought, tomorrow we have a lot of things to discuss.
“Yes Bobbsey, we're home already, having lunch.” Miranda spoke into the phone with undisguised affection. “No, she didn't hurt us. We're just fine.” Blue eyes twinkled at the woman next to her. “Here, talk to her yourself if you don't believe me.” Miranda thrust the phone into Andy's hand and rolled her eyes. “She won't take my word for it.”
“Andy, are you okay? Did that woman hurt you?”
“Cassidy?” Andy shook her head. “No, Sweetie… I'm fine.” She heard the phone being taken from the girl's hands and grinned as the exact same question was asked. “Honestly, Munchkin, I'm fine and so is your mom.” She winked at Miranda who had taken another bite of her lunch. “Are you guys gonna be okay getting on the train?”
“Sure, Roy will be there, and Dad will meet us at our stop.” Caroline snorted. “We aren't babies, you know.”
“I know, but I still worry, and so does your mom.” Again she heard the rustling sound of the phone changing hands.
“You two are the ones we should be worrying about. Behave yourselves tonight, there will be paparazzi everywhere…I saw a commercial on E! about them being on the red carpet too…”
Andy grinned at the slightly lecturing tone. “Yes, ma'am… should I put your mom back on?”
Cassidy let out an exasperated sigh. “You better.”
Andy solemnly handed the phone back to Miranda. She grinned as Miranda's narrowed eyes widened and blinked at the strict orders her daughter gave her.
“I will try,” Miranda promised the girl. “I love you both. Have a safe, fun trip this weekend.” Disconnecting the call, Miranda shook her head in dismay. “They are far too cheeky for their own good.”
“I was told to behave.” Andy grinned and shifted closer to her companion. “Which means… I can't do…” She reached up and gently brushed Miranda's cheek with her fingertips.
Miranda's lips twitched. “And I won't be able to…” Leaning in, her lips lightly brushed Andrea's neck.
Speaking in a breathless voice, Andy tilted her head giving Miranda better access for a moment. “And naturally I wouldn't want to…” Turning her head, Andy's lips found Miranda's.
Deepening the kiss, Andy pulled Miranda into her lap. Feeling the other woman's elegant fingers slipping into her hair, holding her in place, Andy found the buttons on Miranda's shirt falling open to her questing hands.
“Whoa!” Peggy walked into the kitchen and immediately spun around to leave. “Sorry… sorry sorry…”
Regretfully pulling away from the kiss, Miranda sighed. “No… wait.” Only as she stood from Andrea's lap did she realize her shirt was halfway unbuttoned. With an amused shake of her head, Miranda buttoned her shirt and spoke. “We are the ones who should apologize.”
Peggy let out a bark of laughter. “You better not!” She grinned at the couple. “Never apologize for being in love.”
Andy ruffled her bangs and smiled at the housekeeper, “Ma said something similar to that.”
With a wink and a smirk, Peggy waggled her finger at Andy. “Your Ma is one smart cookie.” Continuing into the room, the housekeeper looked at the half-empty settings on the table. “Finished with lunch then?” When the women nodded, she chuckled and cleared away the plates. Discarding the remaining food, she settled the used plates in the dishwasher. “Big charity thing tonight, right? No dinner here?”
“Correct.” Miranda nodded. “But I would appreciate it if you could have a small tray of finger foods ready for us to serve. There are a couple of people coming over beforehand.”
“Sure.” Peggy immediately began to think of what she had in the freezer along with what she could make in the time allotted. “How many will be here?”
“Just two,” Miranda assured her. “For cocktails, so we need a few little appetizers to keep us from being too tipsy before we arrive at the charity dinner.”
Nodding once, Peggy understood. “Right. Gotcha.” That was an easily fulfilled request. Most of what she needed was finished in the freezer right now. Only a few things should to be prepared fresh and she began to mentally list the ingredients she'd need.
“I've got some calls to make.” Miranda headed toward the door. Both women heard her mutter, “Now where did I leave my phone? In the bedroom?”
Andy watched the woman leave and then cleared her throat awkwardly and didn't bother to say where she'd be as she rushed up the back steps, obviously hoping to catch Miranda while the woman was still searching for her phone.
Peggy chuckled at the cuteness of it, them, then got back to work, glad she didn't have anything pressing to do on the fourth floor for the next few hours.
Andy nearly flew up the stairs and she smiled as she moved down the hall toward their room. They had several hours before they had to get ready for the event tonight and Andy had definite plans on how to use that precious time. Those plans were completely derailed when she reached the doorway and saw the woman inside. Just from her posture Andy knew something was bothering her fiancée, and she also knew what that something probably was.
Miranda stood in the middle of the bedroom, staring at her cell phone screen but not really seeing it. She knew what she was doing. Pretending to have phone calls to make instead of talking to Andrea about what had happened at the trial. About what the defense attorney had tried to assert, what he'd gotten her to admit about the private investigator… Stupid old woman , she chided herself, why do you have to do such stupid things? Long arms slipping around her middle drew her out of her thoughts. Andrea's soft breath in her ear forced her eyes closed as the question was whispered.
“Are we going to talk about it today after all?”
“Andrea, I… don't know what to say.” Leaning back into the warmth of her fiancée, Miranda took a deep breath. “What can I say?” She laid her head back against Andrea's shoulder. “I'm so sorry…I know I had no right to have you followed, but I wanted… no, needed you to be safe.”
“It's weird.” Turning the older woman in her arms, Andy looked into her eyes and smiled. “When I found out that Judy had been watching me, I felt…violated, dirty, like I had done something wrong.” Fingers against Miranda's lips stopped the older woman from responding. “When I found out that you had had me followed…” Andy traced the soft lips with her fingertips. “…I felt loved and protected.” She brushed her lips against Miranda's. “That's the difference Miranda, between what Judy did to me, and what you did for me.”
“You really aren't angry?” Miranda knew in that moment she would never completely understand the way the young woman's thought processes worked. “How can you not be angry?”
“How do you feel about the story the defense came up with?”
“Andrea, that was a load of … something the girls would get in trouble for saying.”
“The girls aren't here and the term is bullshit.” Andy shook with rage. “I don't even know what the point of that story is. To get me arrested too?”
“No, really… what is the point of implicating me? It won't lessen the charges against Judy at all, she tried to kill us… I swear Miranda, what is she trying to go for, side by side cells or what?” Or maybe she's just trying to cause a rift between us…
“Don't even think about that!” Miranda shuddered. “You will be spending the rest of your life with me, not her!”
Andy's smile was dazzling. “I like the sound of that.”
Miranda nuzzled into Andrea's neck, kissing the soft skin there, mumbling. “As do I.”
Andy chuckled against Miranda's soft hair as they moved toward the bed; her plans for the afternoon completely back on track.
Andy leaned slightly toward the mirror and applied a bit of gloss to her lips, pressing them together slightly to distribute it evenly. Standing straighter she gave herself a final once over. Leaving her hair down, flowing around her shoulders in soft waves wasn't really her idea. It was more of a concession to the fact they'd spent too much time this afternoon, after their little discussion, delighting in each other and now had very little time to prepare for their guests and the event. Still, she didn't think Miranda would disapprove. Squaring her shoulders, she spoke to herself quietly in the mirror. “Time for the real test.” Exhaling softly, Andy turned and walked out of the bathroom to find Miranda, knowing the woman would let her know if her appearance was acceptable for tonight's event, or not.
Miranda was standing with her back to the bathroom. Her voice was clear as she spoke into the cell phone at her ear. “Yes Bobbsey, we will. Have fun at your father's this weekend.” Pressing the disconnect button, Miranda turned and looked up from the screen, startled. “Andrea!” Stopping dead in her tracks, Miranda blinked as the young woman moved closer.
Forgetting about her own appearance, Andy drank in the sight of Miranda perfect in her black Valentino dress; shoulder's exposed, the creamy flesh simply begging to be kissed. “You look gorgeous.” Andy couldn't stop herself from reaching up, her hands lightly tracing along the bare silky skin from the string of pearls at her neck, over the slope of her shoulder to the satin fabric of the dress.
“Andrea, our guests will be here any minute,” Miranda warned, “and you still have to finish getting ready.”
Abruptly dropping her hand to her side, Andy stepped back and looked quizzically at Miranda. “I do?”
Twinkling blue eyes narrowed at the corners as Miranda grinned. “Yes, you do.” She brushed past the young woman toward the walk-in closet. “Wait here.”
Miranda had barely disappeared into the closet when she re-emerged carrying a flat, elegant wooden box. “This should finish the outfit quite nicely.”
Setting the box on the corner of the dresser, the older woman motioned for Andy to sit in the chair in front of the large mirror and instructed, “Close your eyes.”
Miranda smiled as Andrea complied without hesitation. Quickly opening the box, Miranda lifted the contents from their resting places.
Sitting quietly, Andy wondered what Miranda had in store for her then smiled as she felt the cool sensation of a thin chain around her neck, and the slight weight of what was surely the pendant of a necklace settle in the small hollow at her throat. Miranda took her hand and dropped something into her palm. The low voice at her ear made Andy shiver.
“Put these on.”
Earrings… Andy thought and knew instinctively that they would match the necklace she was wearing, and she also realized Miranda didn't want her to open her eyes just yet. By feel alone Andy placed the earrings in their appropriate places and rested her hands in her lap, waiting for Miranda's okay to open her eyes. She felt her hair being brushed gently away from her shoulders causing it to lightly tickle her exposed back. Warm breath on her neck warned her and she didn't jump as the whisper filled her ear.
“Open your eyes.”
Obeying the command, the first thing Andy saw was Miranda straightening to stand behind her. The woman's elegant hands rested on Andy's shoulders as her blue eyes twinkled and she nodded approvingly. Tearing her eyes away from Miranda's gaze, Andy looked at her own reflection in the mirror and blinked at the deep blue heart nestled at her throat. Reaching up she touched the skin just below the jewel, causing it to glitter in the rooms dimming light. “Miranda, what have you done?”
“I saw it and knew it would be perfect for you.”
Andy looked at the heart shaped sapphire suspended around her neck by the delicate silver chain and the small blue chips adorning her ears. “You shouldn't have…”
“Andrea, indulge an old woman her whims.”
“Miranda…” Andy honestly didn't want to get into that old argument again, but she did worry. “I didn't know if expensive jewelry was… appropriate for this event, being a charity fund raiser.”
“You were wearing your ring.” Miranda pointed out.
Rolling her eyes, Andy unconsciously wiggled the fingers on her left hand. “I'm never taking that off.”
A charmed expression crossed Miranda's face and she chuckled at her fiancée. “Sweet talker.”
Miranda again wondered how she had gotten so lucky to have Andrea in her life. “Your concern regarding the jewelry is very thoughtful, but unwarranted. I can assure you that many people, male and female, will be wearing all manner of jewels with a variety of values.” Extending her hand, Miranda pulled Andy up from her seat. “I thought it only fitting that yours should be the best.”
Reaching up with her free hand, Andy caressed the side of Miranda's neck, her fingers brushing the strand of pearls there. “ Yours should be the best.” Andy reminded her. “I'm not the important one. I'm not the one getting the award.”
“You are the most important one, Andrea.” Miranda gave in and wrapped her arms around the young woman, sighing as long arms surrounded her shoulders. “Always.”
“We won't be able to do this there…” Andy almost whined about the restriction.
“We will do what we do,” Miranda assured her. “People will just have to deal as best they can.”
“Cassidy will kill us.” Andy laughed and took the opportunity to lean down and kiss the older woman, carefully, so as not to mess up the make-up that had been applied. “But when we get home tonight…”
“Andrea, do not make promises you can't follow through on. I've already done that once…” Miranda reminded her. “…with the reporters.”
Touching her forehead to Miranda's Andy smiled. “Your promises were followed through on…” The tips of their noses touched briefly. “…and mine will be too.” Miranda's response to that was stopped before it started by the doorbell ringing. A quick check of the clock and Andy sighed. “That will be Jo and Blair.”
Nodding, Miranda pulled away slightly and offered her arm. “Shall we?”
They went quickly down the stairs, not wanting their guests to be waiting outside the door with all the reporters. When they arrived in the foyer, they discovered their fears were unfounded since Peggy was still there and had opened the door for the couple before leaving for the weekend.
“Detective Jo.” Miranda smiled a genuine smile. “How wonderful to see you again…” She disengaged her arm from Andrea's and turned toward the blonde at her side. “…and this must be your wife, Blair. It's so nice to meet you, after all I've heard about you.” Miranda leaned forward and proceeded to give Blair an air kiss on each cheek. “Your assistance with our photo shoot problem yesterday was very much appreciated.”
“I was surprised when Andrea…Andy, called but certainly couldn't refuse the request.” Blair smiled a wide smile and linked her hands together in front of her, hoping they weren't shaking too much. She tried to remember what Jo had told her, that Miranda was just another person, like them… and Blair also tried to keep in mind that she was a powerful woman in her own right; the CEO of a large corporation. “Of course, Warner Industries was glad to help.”
Jo pressed her lips together and Andy began to chuckle.
Blair glared at them. “What?”
Andy took Jo off the hook and laughed as she spoke to her friend. “Go ahead.” Brown eyes twinkled at the shock in Blair's eyes. “You know you want to… go ahead.” She assured the blonde. “Miranda won't mind.” In fact, she'll probably be amused…
Jo nudged her wife gently. “G'wan… you know you want to.”
Blair looked back and forth from Jo to Andy then exhaled in frustration. “You know I hope you both just… turn blue!”
“Excuse me?” Miranda was slightly confused at the conversation. It seemed she was missing something.
Laughing, Jo wrapped her arm around Blair's shoulders. “It's just a saying she has, she's used it forever.” She knew explanations were in order though. “The fact is, Blair is very excited about meeting you, and Andy and I both know there is something she very much wants to do, but is holding back.”
It obviously wasn't anything dangerous or Andrea wouldn't have encouraged the woman. So Miranda turned her full gaze on Blair. “Proceed.”
Almost before the word died between them, Blair's hands flew to her mouth and the woman let out a sound that startled all three of her companions. When the sound faded away, there was nothing but complete silence for several seconds. Jo and Andy were trying very, very hard not to burst out laughing, Blair looked mortified, and Miranda's expression was completely unreadable, even to Andy. It was Miranda's bland tone, however, that broke the silence.
“I believe my daughter calls that a ‘squee'.”
That was just too much for Andy and she burst out laughing, which caused Jo to let her laughter loose. Blair was now glaring at the two friends who were hanging on each other laughing so hard the only thing keeping them standing was actually each other. Miranda watched the juvenile display with twinkling blue eyes then stepped closer to the mortified Blair. “It seems our partners are occupied.” Offering her arm to the blonde, she tilted her head in inquiry a slight smile gracing her lips. “Shall we retire to the study, my dear?”
With a final narrow-eyed glare at the laughing duo, Blair accepted the arm and nodded graciously. “Of course, I would be delighted.”They walked off leaving their partners to deal with each other and the tears of laughter that were completely ruining their make-up, well Andy's at least.
Return to the Annex