Disclaimer: See Part 1
“So… what's it like?”
Andy looked up at the woman perched on the edge of her desk. “Lisa? What?”
“Being famous.” The fashion reporter grinned at her co-worker then leered suggestively. “And….”
Andy rolled her eyes. “Don't say it.” She sighed. “As for the famous part… it kinda sucks.”
“I should be upset with you.” Lisa shook her head. “All this time you've had the inside track on the fashion world and you didn't say a word to me!”
Lisa gestured her silent. “You know what is going to be in the upcoming issues of Runway! Everyone knows about The Book.”
“Ah, The Book…” Andy nodded. “... right.” She sighed. “It is delivered to the house every weeknight.” It was her turn to silence Lisa. “I don't look at it though. I couldn't tell you what was in it if my life depended on it.” The brunette shrugged. “Miranda has her work and I have mine.”
“I guess that's fair.” Lisa shook her head. “It's such a waste though…” She grinned at her co-worker. “But, I saw you at the press conference. Have you been at Runway all morning?”
Andy nodded absently, still half concentrating on the writing assignment on her screen. “They were starting a run-through though, so I took off.”
“Oh my God.” Lisa jumped up off the desk. “You didn't want to stay for that?” The woman was livid, “Don't you want to know what the next big thing in fashion is??”
Laughing, Andy shook her head. “Lisa… I don't care what Miranda decides ‘the next big thing in fashion' will be.” She indicated the outfit she was wearing. “I only wore this today because Miranda asked me to change out of my jeans and white button down I had on to come here. We thought it would be more appropriate for her office and the press conference.”
“Well that's true.” Lisa appraised her co-worker. “You do look good.”
“Thank you.” Andy chuckled. She knew that was the same comment Serena had made when she had first worn this particular outfit.
“Are you going to the charity thing on Friday night?” Lisa asked. “I'll be there with the press, but I'm thinking you'll probably actually attend with Miranda.”
“Friday?” Andy thought about it. “Honestly, I don't know. Miranda hasn't mentioned it. I'm not exactly sure I'm ready for something like that… but if she wants me to be there with her, I guess I will.”
“Well, don't be so excited, Andy.” Lisa spoke sarcastically. “How horrible it must be to accompany the guest of honor to a glamorous event.”
“Guest of honor?” Andy was starting to become upset and shook her head. “Lisa, I don't even know what event you're talking about. Miranda hasn't said a word about any of this.”
“Hmmmm…” Lisa didn't like Andy's tone and became defensive. “Well, so sorry if Miranda doesn't see fit to tell you she's getting a humanitarian award for her contributions to charity,” Lisa scoffed and began to walk off. “I thought you were close.”
Andy watched her co-worker stalk off and whispered, “I thought we were too.”
The clock ticked to five pm and Andy closed down her laptop, packing it for the trip home. She picked up her phone, intending on calling Roy to tell him she was taking the subway home. Instead she found herself answering the ringing device. “Hello.”
“Andy… I saw the news today. Are you alright?”
“Yes, Ma.” She picked her jacket up off the back of her chair. “We're fine. It's not that hard to deal with,” she assured her mother, “most of the reporters are behaving themselves.”
“It looked like chaos on the news.” Dorothy sounded skeptical. “I want to be there to help you.”
“Ma… now isn't the best time. I think you should wait a few days, until the press settles down.” Andy felt a little stab in her heart. “Friday might be better.”
“No, honey, that's too late.” Dorothy insisted; she wasn't as close to her daughter as they had been, but she could tell Andy was upset. She didn't know exactly what had put that tone in the girl's voice, but she intended on finding out. “I'll be there tomorrow.”
“Ma…” Deciding it wasn't worth the fight, Andy sighed. “Let me know when you'll be in… I'll send Roy.”
“No, Ma. If you are going to be here to check up on me…” Which is what you want to do. “…and see how I live, then you better just deal with it.” Andy was mad now, she knew that was the actual reason her mom wanted to be there but she took a deep breath to calm herself slightly. “Just let me know when your flight gets in.”
“I will dear.”
Andy disconnected the call and mumbled to herself, “Great… juuust great….”
Miranda didn't make it home until nine that evening. She walked down the hall toward the kitchen, where the clatter of silverware on china let her know where her family was. It was, therefore, a surprise when she reached the kitchen and discovered only her two children seated at the table. There was a half eaten plate in front of her fiancée's normal place. “Where is Andrea?”
The girls looked at each other and seemed for all the world like they were having a conversation without saying a word, they turned back at their mother and Cassidy spoke. “Andy heard the door open and took off up the stairs.” The girl pointed to the staircase at the back of the kitchen and shrugged. “She's been acting weird all evening, not talking much.”
“Something is bothering her, Mom.” Caroline had a serious look on her face. “She's been… tense, ever since we got home. She always looks like she's about to cry.”
“Cry?” Miranda was horrified that something had been bothering Andrea for so many hours and the young woman had not deemed it necessary to call her. She didn't bother fixing herself a plate and went upstairs to find out for herself what was wrong.
The girls looked at each other again. They both knew this was bad, very bad. This, this is how it started, before, with Stephen.
Miranda walked farther into the sunroom. Andrea sat in the rocking chair, looking out at the stars. Miranda tried again. “Andrea?” She reached out to put her hand on the young woman's shoulder and felt like she'd been punched in the center of her chest when Andy flinched, moving away from the touch.
“Don't.” Andy's voice was a harsh whisper. “Just don't.”
“I…” Miranda swallowed against the lump in her throat. “I don't understand, Andrea. What's wrong?” Tears threatened to mar the makeup on her cheeks. “Why are you angry with me?” It wasn't from being late, Miranda knew, because the girls said Andrea had been acting like this all evening. “What happened? Did the press say something to upset you?”
Hard brown eyes glared at Miranda for two full seconds then Andy looked away. “Kind of, yeah… you could say that.”
“What did they say?” It took all the willpower Miranda had not to try and hold the upset young woman's hand. She gentled her tone; soothing wasn't something she normally did, but it seemed to be called for in this situation. “Tell me what they said, Andrea, so we can deal with it.”
“Ma called this afternoon.”
Miranda blinked. “Um… Are we still on the same subject?”
Nodding, Andy continued. “She said she wants to come and visit. She used the excuse of the chaos with the press, but what she wants is to make sure I'm okay, and happy.”
“Sounds logical.” Miranda tilted her head. “What did you say?”
“I told her that since the press was giving us so many fits right now, she should wait a few days before she makes the trip.” Andy watched her companion closely. “I told her maybe Friday would be good then she could spend the weekend.”
Nodding, Miranda gave the impression of shrugging without moving her shoulders. “So we need to remember to ask Peggy to make up the guest room.”
“Friday, Miranda… Friday?” Andy prompted. “Don't you have something to do on Friday? Friday evening, maybe?”
“Oh… that's right. That stupid charity thing is Friday night.” Miranda moved a stray lock of white hair from her eyes. “I hate that thing. I hadn't really decided if I was going to attend or not.”
“Huh?” Now Andy was confused. “Aren't you getting an award?”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “That's what's so stupid about it,” she continued. “They have this huge dinner, I'm not sure exactly how much per plate, some ridiculous amount for a buffet dinner of rubber chicken and rice. Then they ‘present the award'… a made up thing with ‘humanitarian' in the title. That is the person who decides how the proceeds of the dinner are distributed. This one is the twentieth dinner they've had and I've gotten the ‘award'…” She thought for a moment. “Fourteen times now.”
“You think it's stupid?”
“I think there are better ways to donate money for charities.” Miranda shrugged. “It's quite disturbing to me for a bunch of over-privileged people to pay hundreds of dollars a plate for chicken and rice and think they are in some way superior to the recipients of their charity. Instead, the catering company could donate the food, as they do anyway, and deliver it to the homeless shelters, thus, feeding the people who actually need it. They do that with the leftovers from the dinner anyway, which I find to be quite insulting to the people at the shelters.”
“You want them to just donate the money, and not have to get together for the actual meal.”
“Exactly, then we can all stay home and more of the money donated can actually go to the causes.” Miranda laughed. “I keep trying to tell them, if they want to donate, then do so. It is the ‘look at me, look at me' posturing that I think is stupid.”
“So…” Andy was now feeling embarrassed for over-reacting. “The reason you didn't tell me about the dinner, the award, is because… you didn't know for sure you were going, and you thought it was stupid.”
“I didn't tell you?” Miranda now looked confused. “I… I thought I did. When you were looking through the De La Renta dresses…” Blue eyes widened. “I was sure I'd told you. I thought you might wear one to the event.”
“You didn't.” Andy sighed and moved from the rocking chair to the lounge chair, patting the space in front of her for Miranda to sit.
The older woman moved quickly to settle into the space. She almost wept at the comfort she felt as she leaned back into Andrea's embrace and the young woman's legs tangled around her own. “Is that what this was all about? Someone told you about the dinner and award?”
“Yes. They made it sound like a big deal.” Andy tightened her arms around the woman and rested her head against the white one in front of her. “I'm sorry. Everything is just kind of overwhelming for me right now.”
“I truly thought I had informed you…” That was bothering Miranda. She really did think she'd told Andrea about the event. “Do you want to go? I can get another ticket for your Mother if she will be here.”
Inhaling deeply, Andy took comfort in the fragrance of Miranda's hair, perfume, and the underlying scent of Miranda herself. “Actually…” She grimaced. “… she wouldn't be put off. She'll be here tomorrow.” She felt Miranda tense in her arms.
“I'm really sorry, she just wouldn't take no for an answer and I didn't want to fight her about it.” Now Andy was confused but smiling as Miranda began to chuckle. “What?”
“If you ever repeat this, I will deny I ever said it.” Miranda warned then shared her thought. “Your mother and I… are alike in that respect.” She turned her head to see Andy's shocked expression, and explained. “No one and nothing would keep me from making sure my girls were okay.”
“Because you love them,” Andy whispered.
Miranda laid her head back on Andrea's shoulder and confirmed the corollary, “Because she loves you.”
“I'm sorry, Miranda.” Andy reveled in the feel of the older woman in her arms.
“Sorry for what? Andrea, it was just a misunderstanding.”
“I'm sorry because… I forgot. I forgot the one thing you told me to always remember.” Andy sighed. “For just a little while, I forgot that you love me.” Miranda was silent at that revelation and Andy continued, “I won't ever forget again. I promise.”
Miranda melted into the young woman and sighed. “Miscommunications happen, Andrea.” She hugged the arms around her and brought one of the hands up to her lips to kiss the knuckles gently. “Things don't always go smoothly, but we will get through the rough times so long as we are able to discuss them. I believe that is the ‘for better or worse' part of the ceremony we will participate in…”
“Do you want to use the traditional vows? I thought we might write our own.”
“You are the writer, my darling.” Miranda started to say more when her stomach growled audibly.
“You're hungry,” Andy accused. “C'mon, let's go get your dinner.”
Miranda refused to move. “No, not yet.” She turned slightly, snuggled against Andrea and closed her eyes. “It's too comfortable here.”
It was getting late, too late to eat heavy food, but Andy knew there was some soup in the kitchen she could heat up later. So she just continued holding Miranda, trying not to think about how childish she had been. Concentrating on the feel of Miranda in her arms, Andy's eyes closed too.
“Should we wake them up?”
Caroline gazed at her Mother's contented, relaxed face. “I hate to, but I think we should. That chair is okay for a few hours, but if we leave them there all night…”
Cassidy nodded. “Yeah.” She smiled at the expression on the women's faces, but it was the breathing and occasional mumbles from her Mom and Andy that were so awesome; small sounds of contentment that Cassidy didn't normally get to hear. Seeing them like this meant whatever was bothering Andy earlier had been taken care of. Cassidy had been so relieved to find the adults together like this, wrapped around each other sleeping. It was kinda…ewww, but also nice because it meant they were okay and not going to break up. She knew it would be awful if Andy wasn't around anymore. For all of them.
Caroline gently reached out and shook Andy's shoulder. “Andy…”
Andy shifted and kissed Miranda on the top of her head, then snuggled down into their embrace and sighed before her breathing evened out again.
The twins glanced at each other and rolled their eyes. Caroline tried again, this time choosing their mother as her target. “Mom…. Mom….”
“Hmmm…” Miranda mentally struggled to climb out of the comfortable space she was in. “Girls? What?”
“We're going to bed.” Caroline smiled, actually smiled, at her mother's confusion. “And the Book is here.”
“Oh.” Miranda turned her head and a smile softened her features. She rubbed the young woman's stomach. “Andrea… Andrea, darling. We fell asleep.” She only felt slightly guilty about leaving the children alone for so long.
Andy inhaled deeply and blinked her eyes open. “Oh, wow.” She ran her fingers through her hair, scrubbing her scalp slightly to wake herself up. She grinned at Miranda, “Well that was a nice nap.”
“Mmmm…” Blue eyes twinkled. “Yes, but now it is past bedtime for the girls.”
Nodding, Andy helped Miranda out of the lounge chair then accepted help standing herself. “After we get them all tucked in, I'll heat up some of the leftover soup for you.”
Miranda agreed. “Put it in a mug and I'll sip it while I go over the Book.”
Andy didn't think that was the best idea, she would rather Miranda ate the soup at the table out of a bowl, with a spoon. But sipping it from a mug was a good compromise so Andy agreed. Otherwise, she knew, Miranda wouldn't eat anything. In Andy's opinion, Miranda just not eating was unacceptable, the woman was thin enough already. On the plus side, they'd already had a nap, so maybe while Miranda was going over the Book, she could get some writing done.
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