Andy was absorbed in watching the baby in her arms slowly close her eyes in sleep when Amelia and two other young men entered the room, each carrying a tray and a small folding stand. The guys set up the trays they carried on the stands and left quickly, Amelia set up her burden as well, then began to serve the entree's.
Josie and Andy both rose from their seats to return the babies in their arms back to the children's little carrier seats. Andy returned to her seat just in time for Amelia to slide a plate with her Chicken Marsala onto the table in front of her. Miranda's steak was left for last and Amelia leaned in to set it down in front of the older woman reverently, again brushing her arm against Miranda's in the process, this time keeping it there.
“Here you are, ma'am,” Amelia kept her face close to Miranda's, her voice low and breathless, “Warm and red in the middle.”
Andy dropped the knife she'd picked up to cut her chicken, and closed her eyes for the duration of her exhale then opened them as she turned slowly to see Miranda's reaction to the blatant flirting.
Miranda kept her face completely neutral but shifted slightly away from the waitress, breaking the contact between them, “Thank you, Amelia.” Miranda turned away from the waitress to speak to her fiancee. “You should be more careful, Andrea.” Miranda reached over and picked the knife up off the table and placed it on the young woman's plate. “Someone could get hurt.”
“You're right, Miranda.” Andy carefully avoided touching the knife and looked past the older woman and locked eyes with the much-too-helpful waitress. Anger burned through her and her voice lowered to as near a growl as it had ever been, “People should be careful.”
Amelia swallowed hard at the look in the brunette's eyes and stood quickly. “Can I get anyone anything else?” When all the murmurs seemed to be negative, the waitress left quickly.
“What was that?” Asher was looking wide-eyed between Andy and Miranda.
“That,” Andy clenched her teeth together, “was your sister, flirting with the waitress.”
“Andrea,” Miranda's expression was completely blank and unreadable to the people at the table, but not to the one she loved most.
Andy looked over to see hurt in the woman's eyes. The cool gaze hit her full force and the burning in her veins eased. Breaking the connection, Andy looked at her plate, “And that was me, completely over-reacting to it....” Shaking her head, she realized what a scene she'd made, over nothing. Miranda didn't do anything. Warm fingers under her chin forced her head up, Andy closed her eyes, knowing what she'd see if she opened them. She almost flinched back when she forced herself to look. What she saw, what she knew she would see, was one of the scariest things anyone could ever see... the Miranda Priestly standing over her. “I'm sorry, Miranda.”
Miranda gave Andrea a tiny smile. “We'll talk later.” She glanced around the table meeting each of her family member's eyes. “Please enjoy your meals, I will return soon.” She swept out of the room.
“Where's she going?” Daniel had not believed, before now, that the sweet girl he remembered his sister being was gone. Now he believed, fully. The young woman who claimed to love this new sister answered the question with resigned knowledge.
“She's going to talk to the manager.” Andy's gaze lingered on the now empty doorway, “At the very least we'll have a new server for the rest of the meal, at most the girl will be fired.” She didn't want the woman to lose her job over this, it was just some simple flirting... it wasn't anything... She kept telling herself that, kept telling herself that she was over-reacting. Looking at the food on her plate for quite a long time, Andy finally took a small bite and sighed. It's delicious, dammit. Her stomach was tied in such knots that she knew she wouldn't be able to eat too much of it.
Miranda returned and moved back to her seat brushing the back of Andrea's neck as she passed. Leaning down, she kissed the young woman's cheek. “All taken care of, my darling.” She had barely sat down when a very nice looking gentleman in a server's uniform entered the room.
“My name is Blake, I'll be your server for the rest of the evening.” He bowed to everyone then slightly lower as his gaze fell on Miranda. “Can I get anyone anything? More drinks?” Everyone murmured that they were fine so the man left, saying that he would return to check on them soon.
“You didn't have to do that.” Andy took a deep breath and swallowed her pride, “but thank you.”
Reaching out, Miranda brushed the backs of her fingers against Andrea's cheek. “Anything for you,” she smiled, “I'm sure our former server will be just as happy assisting other patrons.” She smiled and assured Andrea, “We'll talk later.” Picking up her silverware, Miranda cut into her steak and she grinned wickedly. “Would you look at that, warm and red in the center, just like I like it.” Taking the bite she glanced over at Andrea who was, as she hoped, trying her best not to laugh.
Andy nearly succeeded too, except Natalie chose that moment to giggle which caused Andy to think about Miranda giggling, which was just totally absurd, as was this whole situation and that just made it impossible to not laugh. So she did.
Everyone at the table looked at her like she was a little crazy, which made her laugh even harder. Natalie and Josie joined in first, then Dinah and then Tante. By the time Daniel and Asher joined in the merriment, even Miranda was chuckling.
As the laughter died down, Andy wiped a tear from her eye and apologized to the entire group. “I'm really sorry guys, I get a little nuts sometimes. Mostly for no reason. Foolish, I know...”
“Young woman,” Tante Louise spoke quietly, forcing the entire table's attention on her. With a little smile, the woman held up her finger and shook it slightly. “Loving someone is never foolish.”
Andy smiled at the woman and remembered saying those exact words to Samuel. “No, I guess not.” She didn't want to dwell on the subject. “Thank you, Tante...” she indicated the older woman's plate. “How's your meal?”
Tante chuckled and nodded, accepting the change in subject. They all decided to give a review of the dish they were eating all at once. Soon they were back to the easy small talk they'd used to pass the time while they were waiting.
Andy calmed down, glad that the evening seemed to be back on track. She wasn't looking forward to the talk she and Miranda were going to have later though, she had no clue what she was going to say to the woman about the scene her jealousy had just caused. For now, she decided to try and make the best of the evening and took another bite of her delicious, made to order, meal.
She hadn't managed to consume a quarter of the food on her plate when she felt Miranda's hand casually slide into hers. Andy glanced over to receive a small smile and returned it. When she tried to release the hold, Miranda twined their fingers together. It was very clear to Andy that Miranda was not letting go.
Miranda speared a small square of meat with her fork and carefully raised it to her mouth. Eating left handed wasn't something she did every day, but it wasn't impossible and maintaining contact with Andrea was important; not only to ease Andrea's jealousy over the waitress, but to reassure herself that they were together at least until they had their talk regarding Andrea's need for children. She continued the dinner smiling at the babies when they cooed, nodding when someone said something she agreed with, laughing when someone said something funny, but she never released Andrea's hand.
Even when the waiter brought the bill, Miranda signed with her left hand, and they hugged everyone goodbye together. They completely ignored the paparazzi and when the car arrived, Miranda got in first, pulling Andrea in next to her. Their hands remained joined between them as the car began to move. Andy finally tried to ask.
The older woman shook her head, “Shhh... We'll talk later.”
The rest of the ride continued in silence. Arriving at the hotel was just more paparazzi and silence in the elevator.
Andy was beginning to get nervous when they entered their room and Miranda still didn't speak. She followed as Miranda led her through the suite and when the older woman turned on the radio in the room, she tried again.
“Shhh...” Miranda closed her eyes as soft music filled the room, shifting her hold, but not releasing it, Miranda wrapped her left arm around Andrea's waist. “Dance with me?”
Suddenly unable to speak, Andy nodded and took a half step closer to Miranda. Following the older woman's lead, Andy found herself being waltzed around the room. It was calming, and soothing, being in Miranda's arms was, right. “I love you, Miranda.”
“Shhh...” The music changed and Miranda pressed closer, whispering, “I love you too.” They continued to sway together.
“What are we doing, Miranda?”
“Dancing.” Miranda continued to sway, her left hand caressing Andrea's exposed back.
With a sigh, Miranda stopped their motion and released her hold on Andrea, letting go of her hand to walk across the room and shut off the radio. Turning to face her young partner she licked her lips and spoke quietly. “I guess we have a problem.”
“We don't.” Andy shook her head, she wanted more than anything to be back in Miranda's arms right now, but she knew she didn't deserve it. “I do. I have the problem Miranda.” She stood with her head down, “I was so angry, so suddenly, I just don't know...”
This had not been the subject Miranda had in mind, she was going to bring up the issue of children. But apparently this was something Andrea needed to talk about so Miranda went with it and finished the young woman's thought, “Why?” Miranda asked and, recalling the incident, raised her eyebrows, “I think we both know why.” Blue eyes studied her young companion for a long moment. “Don't speak again until you can admit to me, truthfully, what caused the anger.” She knew what had set off Andrea, now it was up to the woman to figure it out too. Miranda watched as realization struck, but Andrea remained silent, unwilling to admit the reason. She waited, longer that she had thought she'd have to when Andrea stomped her foot on the floor.
“She had no right!” Andy felt the tears rolling and wiped them away angrily. “She shouldn't have touched you!”
Miranda nodded, she knew that had been the decisive moment for Andrea. Before that, the harmless flirting had only caused tolerant amusement for the woman. But it was time to put the harmless incident into perspective. “It's not the same.”
Andy's spine stiffened and she stood stock still, “What?”
“She brushed her arm against mine, Andrea,” Miranda raised her eyebrows, “It's not the same as you and...” Grinding her teeth she couldn't even say the name. Thinking about the man, his smug face, knowing what he had...done... with... to, Andrea... her Andrea. She suddenly found herself surrounded by lanky arms.
“You're right, it's not the same at all.” Andy buried her face in the curve of Miranda's neck. “I'm sorry.” She kissed the slope of Miranda's shoulder, “You're so damn sexy, of course people are going to flirt with you.” Andy shook her head, “And of course, when you're relaxed like you were tonight, you're going to flirt back.” She sighed, “I can't promise, but I'll try not to be so possessive and jealous from now on.”
Miranda pulled away to look into dark apologetic eyes. “I'm glad you didn't promise what you know you cannot do. You are honest, it's a trait I greatly admire.”
“Can we play a game?”
“What game do you want to play, Andrea?” Miranda was certain this was not the time for games.
“I just made it up.” Andy rested her forehead against Miranda's and took a deep breath. “It's called, 'Truth'.”
“We ask each other questions and have to respond with the truth.”
Sliding her arms around Andrea's waist, Miranda asked. “And how long does this game last?”
Andy whispered, “For the rest of our lives?”
She's going to marry me. Miranda held back the happy, relieved tears that thought brought to her eyes and answered, truthfully, “Acceptable.”
Miranda woke slowly, they had spoken for a while longer last night, but the events of the day had caught up to them quickly. Falling asleep entwined together was not an uncommon occurrence, waking in each others presence was slightly rarer, but always welcome. Miranda took a moment to bask in the warmth of Andrea's arms, then slowly shifted away. Andrea's embrace tightened around her and Miranda sighed, she didn't want to wake the peacefully sleeping young woman, but it was becoming necessary to get up. It was late, later than they normally slept, and Miranda needed to get up. “Andrea...” Miranda patted the arm around her. “I need to get up for a moment...”
“Mmmm...” Andy blinked awake and released her hold, running her fingers through her sleep tousled hair. “What time is it??”
“It's nearly seven, Darling.” Miranda tilted her head in question. “Are you going for a run today?”
“Uh... Yeah, I guess... but I told Michael I wasn't sure if I'd have time or not, and that he could run without me today. I know the path well enough now I can do it myself, if I need to. What time do we need to be at the airport?”
“The flight is scheduled to leave in a few hours but there is some leeway there. It's not a commercial flight this time.” Miranda disappeared into the en suite for a moment, she was talking when she returned. “James is going to pick the girls up from his mother's and drive them back to the townhouse himself, but with the time difference we will be home long before they arrive.”
Andy nodded. “But we still need to pack and get to the airport, so I'll just take a late run when we get home, or skip it today.”
Miranda nodded. “Very well.” She watched as Andrea rose from the bed and began to put the clothing British Runway had sent back into the appropriate garment bags. She indicated the small carry-on sized bags they'd purchased to use for the trip home. It wasn't that big a deal, since they had Donatella's jet for the flight home, the luggage wasn't a problem, but they figured they may as well get something that the girl's could use on the train and for overnights at their friends as well. They had no luggage besides their purses for the trip over and now on the return trip, thanks to the shopping spree at Harrod's, each girl had a small suitcase full of presents to explore when they returned. “Can you start packing the girl's things?”
“Of course.” Miranda placed the luggage on the bed and opened it, then began to transfer the contents of the shopping bags into them. Several trinkets they'd picked out for each child, plus some lovely dresses from her, and from a trendy little shop they'd found after their flight on the Eye, some intricately embroidered jeans that were also strategically ripped in various spots. Miranda was dubious about them, but Andy insisted the girls would love them. Folding the denim carefully, Miranda packed them on the bottom of the small suitcases.
Andy finished preparing the borrowed clothes for their return trip to Runway then disappeared into the bathroom for a quick shower. Miranda had changed back into the clothing she arrived in and was just zipping the fully packed cases when she felt long warm arms wrap around her from behind. Leaning back into the embrace, she let her head fall back onto the convenient shoulder.
“I like it here, Miranda.” Andy, clarified, “In England.”
“I do too, Andrea,” It was where she had grown up after all, “But I miss New York.”
“Yeah, you know what I miss?” Andy rested her temple against Miranda's. “I miss the girls.”
Miranda pressed her lips together, unwilling now to ask Andrea about wanting children, she knew she wasn't ready to hear the answer she dreaded. “I miss them too.”
“Can we come back and visit with the girls sometime? They'd love seeing the little twins, and the shopping, and the Eye... and Gus and the Chippy!”
Miranda chuckled. “Yes, I think a family vacation with the girls would be a wonderful idea, at some point.” Grinning at the idea, Miranda nodded, “A wonderful idea indeed.”
Andy nodded. “Let's go home.”
“Andrea, I'm standing in your arms.” She turned to face the young woman and smiled. “That means, I am home.”
She's gonna marry me. Andy smiled. “And Jo says I say sappy things? I love you.”
“And I love you.” Miranda smiled and remained in the embrace for a moment longer. By mutual consent they each grabbed one of the suitcases and headed out the door.
The flight home was smooth, as it always was on the private jet. They had both even slept, for a while. Miranda waited until they had nearly landed before calling Roy.
“Meet us at the airport,” she instructed, “And don't you dare warn them that I've returned.”
Andy covered her mouth to hold in a laugh. She couldn't hide her amusement when she spoke. “Miranda, what are you planning?”
“I want to know what the villagers do when the Dragon is away.” Her blue eyes glittered with mischief. “We will go in through the loading docks.”
Dark eyes widened, “You're trying to kill them!”
“Not... kill.” Miranda grinned wickedly. “I do like to shake them up every once in a while though.”
Laughing now, Andy wrapped her arms around the prankster. “You are so bad!”
Elegant eyebrows rose. “Is that good?”
“Oh, it's very good.” Andy sighed as she reveled in their closeness. She had felt off-balance at the dinner last night, but now, everything was right. “I love you.”
Nodding, Miranda knew the declaration didn't need a response, but she kissed the young woman's cheek then with an amused tone in her voice ordered Andrea, “You can't warn them either.” Miranda grinned and linked her arm through Andrea's as they walked toward the exit. “In fact, you're going to help me.”
“You're the only one that can.” Miranda's eyes twinkled, “Oh yes, revenge is best when shared.”
“Revenge?” Andy thought for a moment and asked. “Nigel? For not answering the phone, for not calling back?? Didn't you already tell him you weren't upset?”
“Andrea...” Miranda grinned a particularly evil grin and chided her gently. “I am Miranda Priestly, I'm famous for my unpredictability.”
“What do you expect me to do??” Unpredictable was one thing, pranking someone was over the top, even for Miranda.
“Just don't let him hit his head on the floor when I fire him.”
“Fire?!” She nearly dropped the bag she was carrying, Caroline's bag.
“Oh yes...” Miranda laughed, “definitely fired.” She rolled her eyes at the horrified look on Andrea's face. Roy was waiting for them, he took the bags and stowed them in the trunk as they took refuge in the car. Miranda used the time to her advantage. “Here's the plan...”
Andy blinked as she listened, her expression slowly morphing from horrified to impressed. “You're evil!” She slid closer to the older woman, “I like it.” Now her dark eyes took on a hint of mischief. “There is one thing though.” Finding her cell phone she quickly dialed a number and grinned. “Jeff! Listen. Miranda wants to make an unexpected appearance at the office, we're coming in through the loading docks... can you keep security quiet? Yeah, I know... thanks.” Closing the phone, Andy smiled sweetly. “All set, Boss.”
“What do you know?”
“I know that there's a security guard who has the hots for Jacquelyn,” Andy grinned at Miranda's confused expression, “new girl in the Beauty department. If he'd seen us coming, he'd have warned her, and she would have warned everyone else.” Andy shrugged. “Jeff will distract him now... assign him to the desk or to watch the camera's from a different floor.”
“If I ever catch any of those guards drooling over a Runway employee, model or otherwise, he will be very sorry.” Miranda still didn't like the idea of the security cameras on the Runway floor, but she knew it was a good precaution, even if she did have them removed from her office. Andrea's chuckle drew her attention away from the thoughts of exactly why she'd had them removed.
“It's not only the male guards that drool, Miranda.” Andy grinned and thought to herself, And they aren't only drooling over the models.... She was very glad that the cameras had been taken out of Miranda's office, it gave them some privacy for one thing, but now she was certain that the guards in question wouldn't just be sitting around watching Miranda all day, whenever she was in her office that is. Not that I can blame them, Andy thought, and knew if she had access to a camera in Miranda's office, she'd be glued to it herself, as creepy as that was, what with her previous experience with stalkers.
They exited the car at the loading docks and Miranda immediately announced. “If anyone at Runway is warned of my arrival, you will all be fired.”
Andy saw at least one person sliding his phone back into his pocket.
Walking with determined purpose, Miranda entered the freight elevator. Andrea entered the metal box right behind her and she pushed the button for seventeen. “Are you ready, Andrea?”
“Oh yeah,” Andy grinned, as she dolloped some antibacterial gel on her hands and rubbed them together gleefully, “this is gonna be fun.”
When they exited the elevator, Miranda walked, never slowing, knowing that the scrambling employees would get out of her way. She walked through the Beauty Department, instantly, quietly, calling for Serena upon her entrance. The tall Brazilian appeared beside her, cell phone in hand.
Miranda pointed to the phone. “Don't.”
Serena sighed and pocketed the device. “Yes, Miranda.”
“Walk with us.” The editor continued on her journey, scattering employees as she went. The offices were a mess, with papers, folders and detritus from people's breakfasts scattered on tables and desks. “This is unacceptable.”
“They have to eat, Miranda.” Andy knew what was going to happen if she didn't calm Miranda down. Food would be banned on the seventeenth floor. “You eat in your office... and you've been gone for days, so they've all been working long hours.”
Miranda looked up at the Brazilian calmly walking next to them and saw dark circles under the woman's eyes that not even the clever make-up artist herself could completely conceal. Nodding, Miranda continued her trek, directly to Nigel's office. She entered the glass door quickly and did not smile when Nigel stood so fast the stool he'd been perched on nearly toppled.
“A voicemail... I left you a voicemail, two words, a simple command 'call me' that is all you had to do, but no, you decided that it wasn't important to call...Andrea had to tell you to return the call and now I come back to find the offices knee deep in trash!” She was actually furious. “Take-away...” she paused to correct herself, “Carry out containers everywhere! Did you authorize that?? Well don't worry about having to authorize anything for this office ever again. You're fired!” She stormed out of the office, past Andrea, who looked as though she was about to blow the whole prank. A glare in her direction got Andrea under control and barely slowing, Miranda stalked down the hall toward her own office.
Serena stood dumbstruck, staring at Nigel who was standing with his mouth open shaking his head slightly.
Andy took a moment to give Miranda a headstart then schooled her features into a determined look. “No way... No way!... She can't do that to you!...” Grabbing the man's arm, Andy tried to pull him with her. “C'mon!” He didn't move, “Serena, help me get him moving.”
Serena moved to the other side of Nigel and looped her arm in the man's. It was only after they were in motion that Serena asked, “Where are we going?”
“Miranda's office,” Andy tried to sound mean, “She's not going to get away with this!”
To be continued