Disclaimer: See Part 1
“Oh my God.” Andy was finally able to stand on her own and let go of Jo's shoulders. “That was totally hilarious.”
Jo nodded, grinning widely. “I knew something like that was going to happen. Blair was just too excited about getting to meet your old lady.” Jo wiped a final tear from her eye and looked up at Andy. “Uh oh…” She indicated her friend's eyes. “You have some damage control to perform.”
Andy moved to the hall mirror and sighed. “Stupid mascara.” It was her turn to give Jo a narrow-eyed look. “Why didn't yours run?”
Shrugging, Jo just grinned. “I don't wear makeup.”
“Oh my God, you look like that without makeup?!” Andy shook her head, turned back to the mirror and chuckled. “Damn, I hate you.”
Jo bowed gallantly. “Thank you.”
Rolling her eyes, Andy smacked her friend on the arm playfully. “Seriously, you do look good. I nearly wore a suit too, but then thought better of it.”
“I can't imagine you looking any better in a suit than you do in this dress.” Jo found herself looking her friend up and down. The shimmering blue material hugged all the right places. “It's very nice.”
“Miranda got it, and a bunch of others, for me, for my birthday.” Andy twirled in place. “I thought it would be nice to wear one on the first time we went out, together, in public… where the press would be…”
“You nervous?” Jo nodded her head in unison with Andy's. “Don't be. You look great, despite your current raccoon-like appearance and you'll be with Miranda, you know she'll protect you.”
“Yeah, she will.” Andy smiled at the thought, remembering feeling Miranda's presence next to her when she was testifying, just like the woman was right there with her. “She's with me, even when she isn't.”
“You know what? Sometimes you say the sappiest things.” Jo winked at her friend. “Now g'wan, fix your face so we can go to this shindig.”
“Right.” Andy gestured with her thumb over her shoulder. “You know the way. I'll be back down in a little bit.”
“Yup.” Jo headed toward the study as Andy retraced her steps back up the stairs.
“Sometimes I think those two have just a little too much fun when they are together.” Blair sighed.
Miranda chuckled and gestured for Blair to sit as she continued toward the side table with the bottles and glasses on it. “Wine?”
“Thank you. Please.” She was still disgusted with herself for not being able to control the initial reaction to meeting Miranda. Looking around the room she decided small talk was just the thing to calm her down. “You have a lovely home.”
“Thank you.” Miranda handed her guest a drink. “Where do you live?”
“Um… the penthouse at Warner Towers.” Blair shrugged. “It's a good location for us. We looked at houses in this area a few years ago, but couldn't find anything we really liked as well as the penthouse, so there we stayed.”
Miranda nodded and sipped her drink, regarding Blair thoughtfully. “This dress you're wearing, I don't recognize the design.” That was saying a lot, because if Miranda didn't recognize it, it must have come from the moon. “Is it a new designer?”
“Um… no actually, an old one.” Blair took a sip of her wine and with a deep breath admitted. “I designed it. I used to dabble in fashion when I was in college.”
“Well, it's quite lovely.” Miranda smiled. “Perhaps if this business mogul thing doesn't work out for you, you can fall back on fashion design.”
Blair was shocked. Miranda Priestly thinks I could design clothes?! She laughed, relaxing slightly. “Oh I don't know about that, but I'm pretty sure, after ten years it's probably going to work out okay. But if you'd told me that back then…” My life would be totally different. The smile Miranda had graced her with faded, then Blair realized what she was saying, back then , when Blair and Jo had been in college, Miranda was actually just taking over Runway, but was already a force in the fashion industry. And Andy is how much younger than she is? Wow. Clearing her throat, Blair tilted her head and crinkled her nose. “I heard you testify at that woman's trial today.”
“Mmmm… not the most pleasant of experiences, but Andrea and I both wanted to have our stories on record, not just in a police file somewhere.” Miranda blinked, only just processing what her guest had said. “You heard me? You were there?” She hadn't really looked around while entering, or leaving the courtroom. She wondered who else had been there.
“Yes, I was in the courtroom, so was Jo she had testified before you two. She doesn't have to appear in court too often, but I like to be there when she does, to support her. I also wanted to see the woman she'd arrested.” Blair shivered a bit. “I hate that Jo's job is so dangerous. When guns are involved, it's even worse.”
The older woman thought back to the day Judy was arrested. “When she threatened to shoot Andrea…” Miranda took a deep breath. “We had only been… together… a short time. I can't imagine what it is like for you having been with your wife all these years.”
Jo heard the last few comments as she walked into the room. “I do try to be careful you know.” Jo bent down and kissed Blair's cheek and spoke softly. “It's not always so dangerous. Not like it was when I was on the street.”
“Ugh... don't remind me.” Blair laid her head on Jo's shoulder and sighed.
“Am I forgiven, Princess?” Jo's eyes twinkled as her wife sat up straight and refused to look in her direction.
“No.” Blair took a deep breath, adjusted some hair away from her face and haughtily proclaimed. “When we get home, I will make you pay for laughing at me, Jo Polniaczek …”
Jo leaned down and whispered in Blair's ear, “Yay.”
Miranda watched the couple silently thinking to herself how they were just too cute for words. She suddenly wondered how others perceived it when she and Andrea interacted, obviously they couldn't be classified as ‘cute', Miranda knew, she was far too old to even come close to being called ‘cute'.
They didn't have to wait very long before Andrea joined them and when their glasses were filled. Miranda raised her drink slightly. “A toast,” she said. “To friends.”
“To friends,” they all chorused and clinked their glasses together.
Andy grabbed Jo's hand and led her to the couch and the low table covered in Peggy's snack offerings. “Check it out.” Andy grabbed one of the pigs-in-a-blanket and smiled as Jo's face lit up. The detective also grabbed a couple of the morsels, scarfing them down quickly.
“Neanderthals.” Blair rolled her eyes with affection at her beloved wife. “Don't just hork them down, you'll choke!”
“It's been a long time since lunch, Princess.” Jo chuckled as she swallowed. “Besides, if I choke, you'll finally get your wish.” Jo winked at the confusion on Blair's face and explained. “I'll turn blue.”
Andy nearly spit her bite out at that and they all laughed, including Blair.
Miranda watched as Andrea interacted with her friends and smiled indulgently. She needs this. The urge to keep the young woman all to herself was quite strong, and Miranda knew for a while it would work, had worked, but Andy needed to interact with other people as well. People closer to her own age. Lost in her thoughts, she didn't notice Andrea move behind her until long arms wrapped around her waist, and a soft voice filled her ear.
“Earth to Miranda.” Kissing the ear so close to her lips, Andy asked, “Whatcha thinkin' about?”
Leaning into the embrace, Miranda chuckled and answered truthfully. “You.”
Andy rested her chin on Miranda's shoulder and looked at Jo. “And you say I say sappy things?”
Jo grinned and shook her head in amusement. “You do!” Selecting another morsel, Jo mimicked. “Miranda said…. Miranda is so…. Miranda wants…. Miranda can… Miranda, Miranda, Miranda… It's a wonder you ever actually write any articles, I'm surprised the things aren't just Miranda's name repeated two hundred times.”
“D'oh… the articles! I need to send them to Greg… I finished them yesterday but got distracted and haven't sent them yet!” She released her hold on Miranda's waist and with a quick kiss on the woman's shoulder began walking toward the door. “Be right back.”
Miranda watched Andy leave the room then turned to Jo. “Does she really?” At the quizzical expression on her guest's face, she elaborated. “Does she really talk about me like that?”
Jo smiled and nodded. “There are times she doesn't talk about anything else.”
Blair spoke quietly, not sure she knew Miranda, or Andy for that matter, well enough to be discussing it, but she said it anyway. “She loves you, completely.”
Exhaling softly, Miranda nodded. “And I love her more than I thought possible.” She gazed at the doorway Andy had left empty. “Sometimes I can't believe it's real…” Blinking, she realized what she was saying, and who she was saying it to. “My apologies, this isn't something I should be discussing with… well, anyone.”
“Honestly?” Blair stood and moved to stand in front of her idol. With a compassionate smile she placed her hand on Miranda's arm. “There is one person you should discuss it with.”
Blue eyes softened and Miranda patted the hand. “Yes, I will.” She smiled and gave one sharp nod to indicate this particular conversation was over. “But not tonight.”
Jo moved to wrap her arm around Blair's waist. “Will there be dancing at this shindig?”
“I believe there is usually a small space set aside for dancing.” Miranda had never availed herself of that particular portion of the function. Even when she was married she'd always attended alone, and no one was ever brave enough to ask her to dance.
“Excellent.” Jo was almost looking forward to this thing now.
“What's excellent?” Andy asked as she walked back into the study.
“Dancing tonight.” The detective gestured toward Miranda. “You gonna kill me if I grab a dance with the old lady?” She ignored Blair's outrage widened eyes.
“I'd be okay with it… I'll just dance with Blair while you're occupied.” Andy grinned. “Now won't that give the press headline boners… wife swapping and all…”
Miranda chuckled. “It's not the press I would be worried about.”
“Mmm…Cassidy.” Andy grinned at their guests. “We have very strict instructions to behave ourselves.”
“How does it feel?” Blair asked Andy.
“Being a mom.” She had known for a while how attached Andy was to the twins, but the unmistakable tone in Andy's voice when she said the girl's name had just impressed on Blair the reality of it.
Glancing at Miranda, Andy remembered Caroline and Cassidy calling her ‘Ma' and felt her heart melt. “It's wonderful.”
“I think we should be going.” Miranda raised an eyebrow.
“You're right.” Andy eyed the nearly empty bottle and teased. “Before we all get drunk and start playing Truth or Dare?”
Linking her arm with Andrea's, Miranda pretended to think about it. “Perhaps another day.” She gestured for their guests to precede them. “We have a limousine if you want to accompany us or would you rather meet us there?”
Jo felt the grip Blair had on her arm tighten to the point the detective feared for her circulation. That answered that question in Jo's mind, Blair wanted to go with Miranda and Andy, wanted to go with them really badly. Jo responded to the kind offer. “Let's just all go together, car pooling, helping the environment… that sort of thing… good press.”
Andy grinned. “And it doesn't hurt the image to show up with the guest of honor.”
“True.” Jo chuckled and patted Blair's hand as the grip eased. “That doesn't hurt either.”
The car ride was quiet and fairly short since traffic seemed to be cooperating with them. When they arrived, the swarm of press seemed to know and gravitated toward the car.
“You may regret arriving with us.” Miranda gazed through the window. “They are out in full force tonight.”
“Been there, done that. They know you're the guest of honor,” Jo said logically. “They're waiting to see if Andy is going to be with you tonight.”
“Maybe you should get out first… then Jo and Blair… and Roy can drive around the block or something… I can sneak back and meet you inside…” Andy's voice became fainter as her eyes got wider. Miranda's expression was nothing to be trifled with.
“You most certainly will not sneak around, Andrea.” Miranda spoke logically. “Unless you are ashamed to be seen with me.”
Andy snorted. “Of course I'm not ashamed!”
Tangling her fingers with Andrea's, Miranda pulled the hand up to her lips and kissed the knuckles gently. “Neither am I.”
With a deep breath, Andy nodded. “Together.” She gestured to the door, knowing Roy was waiting for them to open it from the inside before he would hold it for them. “Let's do this.”
Before they even got out of the car the flashes were blinding. Andy wondered exactly how much film was wasted on pictures of the open car door, now Miranda's leg as it emerged from the car. That, she thought, is totally worth the film.
As they walked, arm in arm into the building, the reporters on both sides of the carpeted path yelled for their attention. It was a jumbled cacophony of sound that formed a vaguely recognizable pattern. “Ms. Priestly… Ms. Priestly… one question.” Then one voice stood out from the rest. “Andy!?”
Andy and Miranda's heads both swiveled to identify the speaker. When Andy saw the curly-haired woman, she leaned over to whisper in Miranda's ear. “It's Lisa, from The Mirror.”
Pressing her lips together, Miranda considered it for a second and then guided her companion toward the woman in question. “We have a minute.”
There was a small crush of people as the reporters behind the velvet ropes tried to get closer to where the couple was heading. Oddly enough, it became quieter the closer they got. It seemed all the reporters wanted to take advantage of Lisa's good fortune and didn't want to miss a word either Miranda or Andy spoke.
Unfortunately for Lisa, her first remark was very in character for her. “So she did tell you about this little gathering after all.”
“This is who told you about tonight.” Miranda's eyes narrowed and Andy shivered as a cool breeze blew in out of nowhere.
“Yes.” Andy glanced up as the sky seemed to darken. “Miranda,” Blinking as ice blue eyes focused on her, Andy spoke softly, soothingly. “She also told me about the brunette issue.”
That information made Miranda's heart skip a beat. That changed everything. The entire reason Andrea had shown up in her office those four months ago, was to question her about the brunette issue. Without that meeting, confrontation, they wouldn't be together today. Yet, she couldn't forget the hurt this woman had recently caused, the small rift she had made worse due to a miscommunication between herself and Andrea. Any vestige of private Miranda disappeared and the Editor leveled a glare at the reporter. “You had a question?”
Andy saw the transformation and bit her lower lip, taking a slight step back, unsure if she still belonged next to the white-haired woman. I hope my Miranda comes back when we get inside. Everything was a little new right now, this being their first public appearance as a couple.
“Oh… um… yes. What is your opinion on the effectiveness of charity functions such as this in today's uncertain economy?” Lisa was proud of herself for remembering the question she'd thought of, just in case she got to speak with anyone involved in the event organization.
Miranda scoffed. “In ‘today's uncertain economy' charities need every bit they can get. Events like this allow people who can afford to help, the opportunity to do so.”
“So you think it's perfectly okay for the scraps from your dinner to be sent to homeless shelters?” Lisa blinked at herself for being bold enough to ask that question, but, she'd seen Andy at work mooning over Miranda and knew now that all the flowers and things that had arrived on Andy's desk over the past months were all from Miranda, so the woman was just that, a woman; powerful yes, but still just a person.
Now Andy stepped forward. She'd never really considered Lisa a ‘friend', but she was a co-worker and didn't want to see the woman fired, or worse. Placing her hand on the small of Miranda's back, soothingly, she answered the question. “Although that is an accepted practice, it's not the best way to utilize the resources available and the organizers are looking into a possible change of format for next year's event.” Smiling as Miranda's arm circled her waist, Andy dipped her head once in Lisa's direction. “Now you'll have to excuse us, we're expected inside.” She allowed Miranda to guide them quickly away from the reporters who were again yelling for attention.
“Thank you, Andrea.” Miranda spoke quietly. That particular subject was a hot button for her. Had Andrea not been there, the reporter would have gotten an earful or Miranda would have walked away which was almost worse than ranting. The first option would have been splashed across the tabloids, but the second would let the reporters interpret the response however they wished. Giving the reporters free reign was never a good idea. And Andrea saves you again. It was worrisome that the woman had known to push that particular button and Miranda spoke before she thought. “I wonder how she knew that subject bothered me?”
Andy stopped dead in her tracks. “You think I told her?”
“No.” Miranda blinked. “I didn't say that.”
“You implied it.” Andy searched the older woman's face. “Why are you so quick to think people do things like that?”
“I…” Miranda clenched her jaw together. “Because it's normally true.”
Shaking her head, Andy pulled away from Miranda's arm. “Unbelievable.” She searched the crowd quickly and found who she was looking for. “I'm going to see how Jo and Blair are doing.”
Miranda could only watch as Andrea walked away, leaving her standing in the middle of a crowded room, all alone. With a deep breath, she forced her shaking muscles to function, quickly moved to the head table and found her seat, before her knees collapsed. She could see the entire room from this raised dais and tried to calm herself. Blue eyes watched as her fiancée spoke to the couple they'd arrived with, gesturing wildly in the process. Their eyes grew wider by the moment and the detective looked up at her. She knew the look on her face was bewilderment because Jo rolled her eyes, gave her wife a quick kiss on the cheek, then grabbed Andrea by the arm and dragged her out through the balcony doors.
Return to the Annex