Disclaimer: See Part 1
“Hey,” Andy stuck her head in the bedroom door. “How are you feeling? Fever gone?”
“Yes, I took it five minutes ago and it was normal.” Miranda smiled as Andrea continued into the room and motioned behind her. Caroline and Cassidy raced in and jumped on the bed.
“I'm glad you're better, Mom!”
“Me too, Bobbsey.” Miranda laughed as the girls tackled her. “How was your weekend?”
“Good, glad to hear it.” She tapped the tips of their noses, “Now, it's nearly your bed time. School tomorrow, even though it is your last week that doesn't mean you can be late. Go unpack and get settled in. Andrea and I will be in to say good night later.”
“Sure Mom.” “Love you Mom…”
Miranda accepted a kiss on the cheek from each of them and watched them go. She shook her head regretfully. “They are growing up so fast.”
“Mmmm…” Andy forced her eyes not to roll. “Kids do that these days.”
“Did you call James to let him know they are home?”
Andy nodded. “I left him a message.”
“Good.” Blue eyes drifted closed. “He's a good father… lousy husband, but good father.”
Leaning forward Andy brushed a lock of white hair away and kissed Miranda's forehead, pleased that the awful heat she'd felt there earlier was gone. “I'm going to go check on the girls. I'll come and get you when they're ready for bed.”
“Mmmmm….” Miranda took a deep sleepy breath. “Thank you, Andrea.”
After Andy had gone, Miranda rolled in the bed, wrapped her arms around a pillow there and mumbled, “You always make things better, my Andrea.”
One baleful blue eye opened. “Did you just refer to me as…”
“Sleepyhead.” Andy nodded. “Yeah, because it's nearly eight a.m. You've slept all night and you're still in bed.” She lifted the tray in her hands a few inches. “Brought you some breakfast.”
Miranda looked at the offering, a covered plate, a small side plate with toast, the ever-present, unnecessary, glass of orange juice, and a mug with a saucer covering it. The part that brought a smile to her heart was the single rose standing in the bud vase. So thoughtful.
She sighed and informed the young woman of the unfortunate truth. “I don't have time to eat, Andrea. I have to get ready for work.” She started to throw the covers off, stopped quite efficiently by the tray Andrea held being set firmly over her lap.
“No, you don't.” Andy picked up a fork and handed it to the blinking woman. “I called Emily and told her you wouldn't be in today.”
“Excuse me? You did what?”
Andy cleared her throat, lifted the cover from the plate to reveal an egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms and provolone cheese, and repeated, “I called Emily and told her you wouldn't be in today.”
“And exactly why would you feel compelled to do such a thing?”
“Because the D.A. called earlier and said they were going to start closing arguments in Judy's trial today, summaries should start around ten. I thought you would want to be there for that.”
“Hmmm…” Taking a bite of her breakfast, Miranda chewed thoughtfully. “Yes, I do think I would like to be there for that. But I need to go in to the office for at least a minute.” She eyed the mug on the tray, conveniently covered with a saucer. “Is that…?”
“Oh…” Andy took the make-shift lid away. “Coffee, center-of-the-sun hot, just like you like it.” She smiled as the woman reached for the mug immediately and was more than a little turned on at the near orgasmic look on Miranda's face as she took a sip.
“Mmmm…” Blue eyes closed in pleasure. “Thank you, Andrea. I suppose tea has its uses, but coffee… my God… nothing can beat it.”
Andy quirked her eyebrow and grinned. “Nothing?”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “Fine… there might be one thing.” She winked at her partner and shook her head at the suddenly smug look on Andrea's face. “Have you had breakfast, Andrea?” No answer was forthcoming, “Andrea?”
The young woman sighed, and admitted, “No.” She took a deep breath. “I was a little busy.”
“Oh no!” Miranda suddenly realized what her partner had been busy with. “I didn't say goodbye to the girls this morning!”
“It's okay, they understood.” Andy's hand gently rubbed the leg closest to her. “I told them I would wake you up, last night at bedtime and this morning, but they said not to. They wanted you to get the rest you need.”
“They are very thoughtful.” Miranda took another sip of her coffee then began to slather butter and jelly on a slice of toast.
“They love you,” Andy assured the woman, “and they know that you love them.”
She handed the toast she'd just prepared to Andrea. “I hope so.” Miranda fretted about not seeing them this morning. “Perhaps we can all go out later, to the park.”
Andy winked. “You bet we can.” She took a bite of the toast and gestured to the tray, mumbling an order to the convalescing woman. “Eat your breakfast.”
Miranda lifted another bite of egg toward her mouth. “Yes, Dear.” She smiled as Andy's laughter filled the room and she recalled the gunman's words. You are one lucky bitch. She chuckled to herself and, knowing it was a phrase Andrea used often, thought,
You bet I am.
She's coming in for a minute after all… leaving now.
Emily stared at the text message on the tiny screen her heart nearly stopping. “No…” She whispered her horror, then the import of the last words sunk in and each successive word got louder. “no… n o, no , No, NO!”
Bethany looked up from her computer at her panicked co-worker. “What's wrong?”
Holding up her hand for silence, Emily rushed to the doors and pushed them slightly open. “Red alert!!”
Bethany watched with amazement at the organized chaos the entire staff of the magazine displayed as they scrambled to prepare for Miranda's arrival. Then she gasped. “Coffee!”
Emily whirled to face her co-worker, eyes wide, and flung her arm toward the exit. “Go!”
Bethany nodded and took off as fast as she could.
“I don't see why you're making such a fuss, Andrea.” It seemed perfectly obvious to Miranda. “I'll go in, drop off The Book, check my correspondence and we'll leave.”
“That never happens Miranda, there is always one crisis or another that keeps you there.” Andy knew that wasn't true, there wasn't always a crisis, but it seemed like it sometimes.
“Not today.” Miranda opened the door to the car and stepped out gracefully. “I want to be at that trial.”
Andy quickly climbed out of the car and checked her watch. “In that case, you have an hour before we have to leave.”
Miranda waved off the timetable. “Plenty of time.”
They walked through the lobby and Miranda was gratified that people were once again scattering before her. When they reached the elevators they heard steps pounding behind them. Upon entering the elevator they turned to see Bethany, carrying a Starbucks cup. The short woman had stopped running but she was walking quickly toward the elevator, too quickly.
Bethany had been told, in no uncertain terms, that Miranda never rode the elevator with anyone, other than Andy, so she slowed her pace, hesitating. There was no way she would make it up to the office before Miranda now. She made it within arm's reach just as the silver door began sliding closed. Her shoulder's slumped then she jumped backward as a hand jammed itself through the small space just before the door closed, causing it to open again. Bethany looked up as Andy took two steps out of the elevator, took the Starbucks cup from her hand and whispered, “Thanks,” before stepping back next to Miranda, handing her the drink as the door closed again. Exhaling a soft, “You're welcome,” to no one in particular, Bethany pushed the green button and waited for the next ride up.
Emily was waiting at the elevator when the doors opened on the seventeenth floor and she juggled The Book, that was unceremoniously dropped into her hands, with her notepad as she struggled to write the instructions Miranda was reciting.
“Cancel my appointments for today, I will be out of the office. Leave a message on my cell if there is something extremely important, and I do hope you know what the word extremely means. Tell Nigel greens and blues for the shoot tomorrow, and not to let the designer get away with the awful shades of orange he's so fond of. Contact Jean Paul and set up a showing for next Monday, I know its short notice but he can deal with it, he works better under pressure anyway. Contact Claudia at French Runway and have her send Mila here, I'll need her for two weeks. Let Accounting know I want the numbers I asked for three days ago emailed to me by the end of the day or I will find someone that can manage that small request and they can find employment elsewhere.” When they reached her office Miranda settled into her chair and booted up her computer. “Push the run through back to Thursday and make lunch reservations at that sushi place I like. That's all.”
Andy had remained quiet through the instructions. “I'm going to go say hi to Nigel and browse The Closet.”
“Of course.” Miranda glanced away from her computer screen. “Have fun.”
Lowering her voice in tone and volume, Andy grinned. “If I wanted to have fun, we'd have stayed at home.”
Miranda laughed. “You are incorrigible.” She waved the young woman out of her office. “Go on, I have work to do.”
Andy snorted and spoke as she walked out of the office. “Forty-five minutes, Miranda and then we have to go.”
Miranda opened one of the more important looking emails and answered absently. “Yes, Dear.”
Bethany was back at her desk grinning and Emily had an unreadable look on her face. Andy just laughed and went to find Nigel.
“Andrea, why are you holding that dreadful expanse of fabric in your hands?”
“I'm looking for something to wear to the courthouse this morning.” Andy had found the formless garment in the discard bin at the back of the closet.
“That?!” Miranda was aghast. “What you are wearing now is lovely.” She had been flattered when Andrea had appeared this morning in an outfit very similar to the one Miranda had worn on their night out with her friends. Andrea had chosen dark jeans, designer of course, but not a burgundy top as Miranda had worn on Saturday. Instead the young woman had on a white shirt with a dark vest; fashionable boots finished the look. Miranda had to admit the outfit gave her second thoughts about allowing jeans to be worn by the staff at Runway.
“That's the problem.” Nigel sighed and patted Andy on the shoulder. “Good luck, Six. See you later.” He left, shooing the other employees out along his way, giving the two women relative privacy.
“What did he mean, that's the problem?” Miranda had no idea how Andy looking good could be a problem.
“She's going to be there, Miranda.” Andy slumped to one of the many stools scattered throughout The Closet. “She's going to be there and I don't want to give her any…final memories.”
Now Miranda understood. “There isn't anything you can do about that.” Miranda moved closer. “If you were to wear that horrid thing you have in your hands, you would look lovely.” She reached up and held Andrea's chin between her thumb and forefinger. “Do you know why?”
Andy tried to shake her head, as much as Miranda's hold would let her.
“It's because you, are beautiful.” The Editor smiled. “ You are beautiful, Andrea, not the clothes you wear, not the jewelry, or the makeup, you .” Leaning in, she placed a light kiss on Andrea's lips, released the young woman's chin and stepped back. “You are looking at this the wrong way.”
“You mean glam it up and torture her with what she can't have?” Ever, ever, ever….
“I don't know if I can do that Miranda.” Andy knew she was trembling. She understood that many of the fashions displayed in this room required a certain attitude to wear correctly; a confidence that she just didn't feel at the moment.
“Andrea, if you want, you can put on the baggiest pair of sweatpants and the most formless shirt you can find, I'll be right there supporting you. But that is the sort of outfit you usually reserve for home and you know how I feel about sharing.” The corners of the Editor's lips turned up slightly as a small smile crossed Andy's face.
“In other words,” she pushed herself up off the stool. “‘Stop your whining Andrea, pour yourself into a pair of those designer jeans over there and let's go watch the psycho woman get sent up the river'.”
“The jeans you are wearing will suffice.” Miranda ran her eyes appreciatively down and up her fiancée's legs. “And for lunch, sushi…”
“Mmmm…” Andy laughed. “Nothing's better than sushi.”
Miranda licked her lips and trailed her eyes up and down Andrea's body, again. “Nothing?”
Tossing the hideous outfit over her shoulder, Andy moved closer. Her lips hovering close to Miranda's, she whispered. “Okay, maybe one thing.” Giving in to temptation, Andy brushed their lips together, then pressed in wanting more, her tongue begging for entry and Andy felt a surge of desire as it was automatically granted. Then she pulled away and studied Miranda's expression with darkened eyes. “Are you actually going to allow me to make out with you right here in The Closet?”
Pressing Andrea against the closest wall, Miranda chuckled. “I will be very disappointed if you don't.”
Andy slid her hand up, cupping Miranda's cheek in her palm, fingers tangling in the soft white hair. “I guess we have to then.”
“Have to?” Miranda started to pull away but was held in place by a hand on the small of her back.
“Yes, because the one thing I hate most in all the world, is disappointing you.” The memory of Miranda telling her how disappointed she was that her assistant had dared to come up the stairs warred with the reality of being here, holding Miranda in her arms. It was quite dizzying. She was grateful for the wall against her back, knowing that was probably the only reason she was still standing, but at the same time, she wanted, needed, more. Bucking off the wall she turned them around and pressed Miranda back, breaking their kiss. Andy's lips began to explore Miranda's neck, murmuring against the soft skin, “I love you… Oh God, I love you so much…” her hands found the buttons on the older woman's shirt and unfastened them, button by button revealing more soft white flesh to kiss. “I need you.” She pressed in closer, gripping Miranda's upper arm tightly, trying to hold her against the wall and pull her closer at the same time. It was maddening, she needed more …
“Andrea…” Miranda returned the kisses to whatever bit of skin found itself closest to her lips. “Andrea… really… we need to stop now…” The pressure of being held against the wall was becoming uncomfortable, and the hand on her arm… “Andrea, you're hurting me.”
At that, Andy gasped and immediately stepped back, dropping her hands to her sides. “What?”
Miranda reached up to massage her arm where the young woman had held her. “I'm sorry, but where you were holding… it hurt.”
Blinking, Andy hesitantly moved forward, the buttons were undone on the older woman's shirt so Andy gently slid it off the shoulder of the arm Miranda was tending. The bruise already forming there brought tears to Andy's dark eyes. The bruise the gunman had given her on her wrist was beginning to fade, but she knew how hard he had squeezed to inflict that on her. To think she had been doing the same to Miranda was just… “Oh my God, Miranda… I'm so sorry… I didn't mean… I didn't think I was holding you that hard…”
“Shhhh…” Wincing slightly as she pulled the shirt back on, “Of course you didn't. You would never hurt me on purpose. I know that.” She leaned up and kissed the horrified young woman, while buttoning her blouse. “We need to be going anyway.”
“Miranda…” Andy hesitated then lightly brushed the backs of her fingers across the older woman's cheek. “I…”
Reaching up, Miranda captured the hand tangling their fingers together. “I'm fine.” She kissed the hand she held. “We can discuss it later.”
Taking a deep breath, Andy nodded. “Okay,” She almost grinned but looked somewhat embarrassed. “I… um… need to take a trip to the restroom before we go.”
Miranda chuckled. “As do I…” She gave her fiancée a wry grin. “Lucky for us, The Closet is not only stocked with outer clothing.”
“Lucky…” Lucky I didn't hurt her more… My God… She gazed at the love of her life as they walked back through the rows and rows of clothing and silently promised. I'll never hurt you again, Miranda, I swear…
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