After dinner they’d all gone back up to the TV room, where Emily had left her bag and all the wedding samples. Miranda, Caroline and Emily were looking through the invitation examples that had all been laid out on the low table in front of the couch. Andy was sitting cross-legged on the floor, across the room from the others, helping Cassidy finish up her homework.
Andy watched her soon-to-be daughter for a while before she leaned over and whispered. “Do you like her, Cass?” The girl’s eyes widened and a blush spread across her cheeks.
Grinning, Andy winked at the girl and continued their whispered conversation. “She is quite pretty.”
“Buh…” Cassidy shook her head. “No, I… just…” She wrapped her hands around Andy’s bicep and squeezed slightly, feeling the solid muscles there. “Have you ever done this, to her?” When Andy shook her head no, Cassidy sighed. “Her arm isn’t any bigger around than mine or Caroline’s, I don’t like her, but I like her and don’t want to see her be too thin, you know?”
“Ah.” Nodding, Andy understood. “Your Mom and I are worried about her too.” Then something about the way Cassidy had voiced her denial niggled at Andy’s brain. “You don’t like Emily, but there is someone, isn’t there…someone you do, like?” Understanding eyes twinkled as Cassidy’s head nodded slowly. “Someone at school?” Another nod and Andy continued the quiet interrogation. “Someone in your study group?” She grinned at the confirmation of that guess.
“Please don’t tell Mom or Caroline!” Cassidy’s intense plea caught Andy’s heartstrings and played a mellow tune.
“Of course not.” Andy rubbed the girl’s back to soothe her. “You’re a little young, I think you have a few more years before anything too serious happens anyway.”
“I think about her all the time, Ma.” Now Cassidy’s hand flew to her mouth and her eyes were wider than she thought possible. She swallowed hard as her hands opened to whisper. “Did I just say that out loud?”
Her? Cass thinks about her all the time… Andy took a deep breath. She hadn’t really been serious when she teased the girl about ‘liking’ Emily. Cassidy wasn’t even twelve yet. Wow. “Okay, Sweetie, listen to me.” Andy waited for the girl to focus on her. “Feeling what you’re feeling is perfectly fine. We all get crushes on people, it’s natural. No one can tell you what to feel or who to feel it about, do you understand?” She smiled when Cassidy nodded. “If you ever need to talk, about anything, I’m here, and so is your Mom.”
Andy grinned, deciding that the moment had grown far too serious. Cassidy grinned then suddenly found herself on the receiving end of some major tickling and returned it as best she could. Both she and the older woman were rolling on the floor squealing when a clearing throat cut through their play.
“If you two are finished with your shenanigans, Andrea, we need your input on this.” Miranda kept her tone as disapproving as she could, but the twinkle in her eye betrayed her. She was totally charmed with the sight of Andrea and Cassidy playing.
“Sure,” Andy picked herself up off the floor and brushed off imaginary dirt. “but only if you say the word ‘shenanigans’ again.”
“Blackmail?” Miranda’s lips twitched.
Andy was aware of the girls' amused looks and Emily’s amazement. Shrugging, the brunette crossed her arms and stood her ground; the corners of her brown eyes crinkling as she smiled. “Or you could just beg me.”
With barely a glance at Emily, Miranda chuckled and spoke in a bored monotone as she examined her fingernails closely. “Oh please Andrea, please, please, please grace us with your wisdom on this, most important, matter.”
Dropping her arms to her sides, Andy grinned and shook her head as she crossed the room. “You’re such a goof.” Lowering herself to the floor, Andy looked at the paper strewn table. “What am I looking at?”
“What you see before you,” Miranda informed her fiancée, “are the invitations I deem acceptable. It is now up to you to choose from them which one you want. Emily will then have them printed with the relevant information.”
Cassidy wandered over and spotted the invitation she and Caroline had picked out as the one that would ultimately be the one used. She watched Andy look over the samples for ten minutes until the woman chose the very one they’d predicted.
Emily wondered why she was surprised when the girls grinned at each other. They had always been creepy children with their own little telepathic language. At least, that is what she used to think. Tonight they had actually seemed more like little people than she’d ever given them credit for. When they were looking over the samples of things for the wedding both girls seemed to know Andy’s tastes as well as their mother’s. Emily admitted although that was probably normal, it was weird to her, because she wouldn’t have had a clue at their age what her own mother’s tastes were. In fact, when Emily thought about it, she knew Miranda much better after a few years working with her, than she knew the mother she’d had her whole life.
When Miranda declared that it was getting late, Emily nodded and packed up all the samples, infinitely glad that some decisions had been made. Invitations were an important first step. She did need further information though. “I’ll need to know either the guest list or at least the guest number for the printer.”
“There will need to be two separate lists.” Miranda absently brushed her thumb across the bare skin on her left hand ring finger and reminded her assistant. “One for the wedding itself, and another for the reception.”
“We want to keep the ceremony small.” Andy glanced at Miranda, she noticed the motion on Miranda’s left hand and thought. Soon. She was also relieved to see the older woman nodding. “I was thinking maybe fifty?”
Miranda stopped nodding and managed to keep her expression blank. “I had a number closer to a hundred in mind.”
“That’s not ‘small’.” Andy shook her head trying to wrap her mind around declaring her love for Miranda with a hundred people in the same room. Actually that wouldn’t be a problem for her, but having Miranda declare her love in front of all those people… it was nearly unthinkable. “I thought we were going to keep it to family and friends.”
“Of course, but if your birthday party is any indication, your family alone will require a hundred invitations.” Now the older woman couldn’t keep the amusement out of her eyes or the slight twitch from crossing her lips.
“Oh, my, god… you’re teasing me now?” Andy laughed as Miranda chuckled. “You’re in a good mood tonight.”
“Mmm…” Blue eyes twinkled at the love of her life and Miranda smiled. “Must be the fever…”
Andy rose gracefully from her cross-legged position on the floor and with a hand against Miranda’s forehead, tested the ‘fever’ theory. “Nope, not feverish.” She gently traced her fingertips from the woman’s forehead to her chin. “Time for your meds and bed though, Doc said you need your rest.”
There was a glint in those pale blue eyes that clearly asked Andrea if she actually believed when they went to bed there would be any rest, for a while. The brunette’s answering smile was a resounding no. For Emily, who was just beginning to wrap her mind around the fact that Miranda and Andy were going to be married, the thought of them ‘together’ was far too much.
“I’ll bring The Book later...”
“No,” the editor spoke quietly, “No Book tonight and I won’t be in until ten, adjust my schedule accordingly.”
“Of course.” Emily bowed slightly as she nodded. “Good night, Miranda.” She turned to her former co-worker. “Andy,” then she faced the girls giving each a nod as she said their name. “Caroline, Cassidy.”
Andy grinned at Emily's sudden ability to tell the twins apart. She and the girls returned the wish in unison. “Good night, Emily.”
Miranda, however, raised an eyebrow at the redhead still standing in the doorway. “That’s all.”
Even though it was said without its normal hard edge, Emily instinctively moved at the familiar command and they soon heard the front door closing behind the woman.
Miranda watched Andrea, much like a hawk watches a rabbit crossing a wide open field. There had been a subtle interaction between the young woman and Cassidy when they had bid the girl goodnight, something that hadn’t been there with Caroline. Since it was obvious that observation alone wasn’t going to shed any light on the situation, Miranda decided it was time to swoop in for the kill. “What are you and Cassidy hiding?” Sharp eyes didn’t miss Andrea’s quick intake of breath. There is something. Andrea’s next words were very disturbing indeed.
“I promised her I wouldn’t tell.” Andy sighed as Miranda’s lips pressed together in disapproval.
“Keeping secrets from me.” The cool words matched Miranda’s expression. “This does not bode well for our future…”
“Miranda,” Andy tried to explain, “I’m not keeping secrets from you,” Not many at least, “I’m keeping a trust Cassidy gave me.” She practically begged the woman. “It’s not anything bad, it’s just a little embarrassing for her. She doesn’t want Caroline to know either.”
“This has to do with the crush she’s developed… for Emily.”
“Sort of.” Andy temporized.
“I assume you told her that Emily is far too old for her…”
Andy laughed, loudly. “Says the pot to the kettle!” She blinked at Miranda’s confused expression. “Miranda, Emily is only two years older than I am.” She waited for the editor to do the math in her head then confirmed the result. “Yep, there are only eighteen years difference between Em and Cassidy.” She held up her hand to stop the comment. “But they are important years,” She smiled and shifted pressing Miranda gently back onto the bed. “Cass is only eleven, nearly twelve, she’s got a lot of time for a lot of crushes before the real thing comes along.”
“The real thing…” Miranda looked up into the eyes of her love and was lost. “I… I hope she does find ‘the real thing’, like we have.”
“I hope so too.” Andy smiled, lowering herself to capture the no-longer-disapproving lips with her own for a long lovely moment. “Oh, God, I hope so too.” She carefully fit herself against the older woman. “Everyone should have this.”
“Mmm…” Miranda turned. “Perhaps.” She nearly growled, “But they can find their own Andrea.” Shifting, Miranda found the soft skin at her fiancée’s long neck and traced gentle kisses down from there. “This one is mine.”
“Mmmm…” Andy closed her eyes at the sensation of Miranda’s mouth claiming her. “You bet I am.”
Caroline and Cassidy hugged the women bye and ran to the car waiting to take them to school. Both girls were glad that the reporters had thinned out so much and they didn’t need a police escort anymore, although they did miss Detective Jo. There was only today and tomorrow left in the school year though, so Jo wouldn’t have been around too much longer anyway.
“What are we going to do for the girls’ birthday?” Andy was a little worried about it. The day was fast approaching, faster than the wedding actually.
“They will have a party, naturally.” Miranda was confused at the question.
“Really?” This was the first Andy had heard of any such plan. “Where?”
“Wherever they want.” That should have been obvious to anyone, especially Andrea.
“Well… shouldn’t we ask them what they want, so that we can make it happen on their birthday?”
“How do you know I haven’t already asked them?” Miranda sounded slightly upset. “Perhaps the girls and I keep secrets from you as well?”
“This again?” Andy slid closer, wrapping her arms around Miranda’s waist, lightly. “I thought we settled that last night.”
“Perhaps I simply need some reassurance.” Miranda smirked, her eyes reflecting the amusement in her tone.
Laughing, Andy rubbed their noses together. “When I was working for you, I’d never have imagined how playful you are.”
Miranda shook her head. “I wasn’t. Not then.” She would never tire of looking into Andrea’s eyes and Miranda reached up to gently caress the young woman’s cheek. “You... bring that out in me.”
Andy melted and leaned slightly into the touch. “Miranda…”
“We don’t have time for this,” The editor sighed, “I know.” Pulling away, the older woman picked up her coffee mug and carried it to the sink. “I’ll need to be going soon.”
“You told Emily you wouldn’t be in until ten this morning.”
“What? Ten?” Miranda shook her head. “Don’t be ridiculous, why would I say something like that?”
“Miranda?” Andy looked into the woman’s eyes with concern. “You told her ten.”
Realizing Andrea was very worried, Miranda leaned forward and kissing the worried lips reassured her quickly. “So I did.” She smiled as the tension left Andrea’s shoulders. “I have some business to attend to before I go into the office.”
“I see.” Andy shook her head. “It’s still hard for me to tell when you are joking and when you aren’t.”
“I shouldn’t have teased you about this, I know you are concerned regarding my health.” Miranda grinned. “But, honestly, I hope you are never fully able to read me.” She admitted. “I like being able to… play, with you.”
Andy’s eyebrows shot up and she smiled. “Oh you do… do you?” She moved closer, again lightly wrapping her arms around the older woman’s waist.
“Yes.” Miranda melted into the embrace. “You are one of the few people I can actually ‘joke’ with…”
“Anytime…” Andy assured her fiancée, “Joke, tease, torment…” Finding the woman’s ear, she whispered. “I’m a big girl, I can take it.”
“Mmmm…” Miranda sighed at the familiar stirrings Andrea’s voice caused within her and spoke almost to herself. “What you do to me…” With a growl, she tried to pull away. “I have to go.”
“Why?” Andy continued her assault, slowly moving her lips from the perfect ear down the length of the woman’s neck. She murmured against the softness. “Stay…”
“You don’t fight fair.” Miranda chuckled and closed her eyes savoring the full lips caressing her skin.
“All’s fair in love and war.” Andy quoted never stopping her gentle exploration of Miranda’s neck and shoulders.
“Which is this?” Miranda asked absently.
Andy chuckled. “Good question.” Buttons on Miranda’s blouse fell prey to Andrea’s long nimble fingers. “Let’s see if we can figure it out.” Exploring the expanse of skin she found there, Andy suddenly pulled away. “Oh,” she widened her eyes, innocently, “but what about the business you need to take care of this morning…”
A tiny grumble issued from the editor’s throat and Miranda pulled Andrea back against her, threading her elegant fingers through the dark wavy hair. “What business? Really Andrea…” Forcibly tilting the young woman’s head back to gain access to the long neck, Miranda began her own assault, lips moving against soft skin, murmuring. “…the only business I have this morning is with you, upstairs.”
“Yay.” Andy's dark eyes fastened on the mercurial woman. “Shall we?”
Miranda gestured to the stairs. “After you.” She watched Andy walk several steps up before she slid her phone out of her pocket, quickly texting a one word message and sending it off. Reschedule. It was only slightly annoying for the person, Miranda knew, she did need to get the matter taken care of but at the moment that could wait and this, smiling as she chased up the stairs after her lover, this couldn’t.
At ten a.m. exactly the elevator door slid open and Miranda Priestly paced into her domain. Emily was there, waiting, as always.
“Good Morning, Miranda.”
“Emily,” The Editor walked briskly down the corridor. “Did you get the invitations to the printer?”
“Yes, Miranda.” Emily cleared her throat, “they are typesetting them now, but they still need to know the numbers to print.”
“Seventy-five for the wedding ceremony itself.” Miranda’s heels clicked steadily on the marble tile. “And two hundred and fifty for the reception.” She’d taken several more steps when she realized Emily was no longer following her. Turning to the stunned, still woman, Miranda tilted her head. “Problem?”
“Uh… no, it’s just, um… with 'plus one' guests that would make five hundred, that’s,” Emily searched for a way to hide her amazement and shock, “that’s more than the hotel’s ballroom capacity.”
“Actually, it isn’t. I spoke with them and if they open the French doors out to the garden they can accommodate twice that many, but two hundred and fifty will do.” Miranda waited for Emily to catch up to her and began to move again. “Besides which, many of them will simply be sent out of courtesy, obviously not everyone will attend.” She’d never been to a function yet where the turnout had been a hundred percent.
Emily snorted to herself. Care to make a wager on that?
Andy concentrated on the article she was writing. The study was quiet except for the sound of the grandfather clock ticking. The ticking didn’t distract her, even the three long chimes signaling the hour didn’t cause the writer’s focus to waver, but when Patricia’s heavy head rose and turned in the general direction of the front door, growling, Andy took notice. Automatically dropping her hand to the scruff of the animal’s neck, Andy comforted the canine. “Shhh… it’s just the mail.” She ruffled the dog’s stiffened hair and laughed. “You’re so vicious.” The St. Bernard was huge, very intimidating, but also about the kindest and gentlest dog she’d ever seen. Her bark was definitely worse than her bite.
Abandoning her work, Andy went to retrieve the bundle of mail that had passed through the slot in the door. “Let's see what horrors have been delivered today, shall we?” Although, several weeks had passed since they had been 'out' as a couple, she still hadn't quite grown accustomed to seeing her grainy image splashed across the 'entertainment' section of the papers. She sorted through it absently as she walked back to the study laying the majority of the envelopes and magazines on her partner’s desk. Holding the final few letters addressed to her, she returned to her seat on the couch. She smiled at the return address on the top envelope and dropped the others to quickly open it.
I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to write until now. Things here have been very, busy.
I was glad you called the other night to let me know you were okay after the hostage situation. I’m sorry if I sounded gruff, Mary is having a very rough time right now and she was crying when you called, that is what took me so long to get to the phone and why I wanted to end the conversation so quickly.
Your mother came back from her visit with you almost a new person. I’m glad she got the chance to see you where you are the happiest. She’s very enthusiastic about helping you plan the wedding, even though I told her that you most likely have a professional planner dealing with the details. She’s talking about another visit soon, and I will probably come along for that one, if you don’t mind, but I was wondering if perhaps Mary could come along too? I truly want to be there for you, but I don’t really want to leave Mary alone either. I think a change of scenery might do her good as well.
All my Love
Andy smiled at the letter, what Gram had said, and what she hadn’t. Don’t want to leave her alone indeed. Andy chuckled. Gram, Gram, Gram… you are just full of surprises aren’t you? She tried to control her imagination and spoke to herself sternly in what sounded vaguely like Miranda's voice. “You are jumping to conclusions far too quickly, Andrea!” She still grinned at the idea and the word ‘trouble’ floated through her mind. She told herself once again that she would ask Gram about the situation as soon as she could.
The next letter was from the former head cheerleader of her high school, it was a form letter telling everyone about the upcoming class reunion. “Blech…” Andy shuffled that one off to the side. “Shredder for you…” Her hand stilled, then began to shake, as she reached for the next envelope in the pile and now paid attention to the return address. “Dammit!” She really wanted tear up the envelope, put it in the shredder and be done with it, but Andy knew that would only encourage the psycho.
Andy rarely swore, a ‘dammit’ or ‘Hell’ or ‘bullshit’ or version thereof every now and then, and a ‘fuck’ from time to time…when the situation warranted it, but in normal conversation she didn’t usually curse. This, however, had caused all sorts of rarely used words to parade through her head, every one of them directed at the bitch who had nearly killed Miranda. Grinding her teeth together, Andy found a black Sharpie in Miranda’s desk and wrote clearly on the outside of the envelope Return to Sender.
There was a Post Office drop box on her regular morning running route that would start the thing on its trip back to the corrections facility from whence it came. She looked back at her laptop and closed it. There’s no way I’m going to be able to concentrate now. Sliding the envelope into her back pocket, she called for the big dog to follow her and walked into the kitchen. She grabbed a quick drink and smiled as Peggy entered the room. Andy put her glass into the dishwasher and took the animal’s lead out of the drawer they kept it in as she spoke to the housekeeper. “I’m going to take Patricia for a walk.”
“The girls will be home soon.” Peggy knew the children were becoming used to the brunette being home when they were. Soon though, different arrangements would be made as she knew Andy would be returning to work before long and school was nearly out for the year. At the moment though, the girls were old enough that they weren’t any problem to watch in addition to her other duties.
“We’ll be home before you need to leave.” Andy assured the woman. She clipped the leash to Patricia’s collar. “I really just need to walk for a while, clear my head, stretch my legs.” Mail a letter. She did hate not being here when the girls got home though. “I’ll have my cell phone. Call me if they need anything, even just to say hi.”
“Sure.” Peggy grinned as the young woman and obedient dog walked out the door. The relationship that had formed so quickly between Andy and the children was rather amazing to see. The housekeeper was happy that things seemed to be working out so well. It’s about time. She thought. Those children deserve a happy family, and so does their mother.
Andy sat quietly on the park bench, her denim covered legs stretched out in front of her, crossed at the ankles. The few reporters that had followed her seemed to have taken the hint that she didn’t want to talk and had drifted out of the park after the first fifteen minutes. She was happy to just sit in the park on a nice warm day. Andy watched Patricia bounding around the grassy area and smiled at the carefree life dogs seemed to live, at least, dogs with owners who brought them to the park. Her thoughts of living the life of a dog were interrupted by a young voice, cracking next to her.
Andy returned the greeting. “Hello.” It was the same boy she’d seen here a few weeks ago, before their vacation. He was just as thin and awkward as before and she looked around for the rest of the group that had been with him then. They’d dared him to try and get her phone number, which she hadn’t given. What she had done was give him a hug which had put him in good stead with the other boys. “Do your friends still give you a hard time?”
“Nah, I don’t hang around them much anymore.”
“Well, I can’t say as I blame you, they didn’t seem to be treating you very nice last time…” Andy grinned at his blush. “Did you have a nice birthday? Get anything good?”
“Oh, yeah… the usual you know, money from my grandma, some clothes, a video game. You?”
Nodding Andy thought that sounded like a typical birthday for a teen. She knew some of her gifts had been chronicled in the papers, one in particular. Her left thumb absently touched the ring on her finger. “Oh you know, the usual… clothes, some jewelry…” But that turned her thoughts to the girls. What am I going to get them for their birthday?
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees but turned his head to see her. “You… um… don’t have a big muscled up boyfriend.”
Licking her lips, Andy smiled and shook her head. “No.” With an admonishing tilt of her head, she reminded the boy. “I never said I did.”
“Well that’s true.” He recalled his guess at the situation. “You just agreed with me, right?”
Nodding, she answered with the same phrase she’d used then. “Something like that,” Andy turned her attention back to Patricia for a second. “I think, you have an advantage on me now.” With a tiny smile at his confused look, Andy chuckled. “If you read the papers, you know my name, but I don’t know yours.”
“Your name is Andy Sachs, you’re twenty-eight years old currently engaged to be married to fashion and publishing mogul Miranda Priestly. You work at The Mirror as a staff writer. You grew up in Cincinnati with one brother, your parents are still together and still live in Cincinnati, you went to school at Central and made honor roll all four years then graduated with honors from Northwestern University after turning down an offer to attend Stanford Law….” He trailed off at the shock on her face. “Yeah, I know your name.” When he’d recognized the woman’s picture in the paper, he’d gleaned through every article in print and online that he could find about her. Some information had taken a little hacking to access, the honor roll information mostly, but he’d always liked doing that kind of stuff. The harder it was to get the information the more fun it was to try, even if it was useless and you didn’t need it for anything. It wasn’t the sort of thing you could usually brag about but he knew he was good at it. If it was online, he could find it.
Andy didn’t think the papers had gone into that much detail about her life. In fact, she knew they hadn’t. At that thought an instant stab of fear shot through her and aiming a loud shrill whistle at the playing dogs, Andy yelled. “Patricia!” Thankful that the dog immediately returned to her. She only barely stopped the large animal from jumping up to put her paws on her shoulders, something Patricia only did when she was very excited and unable to work off the excess energy. Andy quickly attached the leash to the dog’s collar. “C’mon, girl.” She could feel herself trembling as she glanced at the confused looking boy then literally ran from the park, Patricia only just keeping pace with the suddenly terrified woman.
Oh man, that was stupid. He smacked himself on the forehead. Now she thinks you’re some kind of stalker. Just thinking that word made him realize what he’d done. Awww, crap, she just testified in that big trial, against the woman who actually was stalking her. Crap crap crap! Looking toward the park exit where Andy had disappeared he wondered what he should do. He almost went after her, he did know where she lived, to try and explain then common sense kicked in. Yeah, genius, chase after the woman who thinks you’re stalking her…what a good idea, not! Sighing to himself, he jammed his hands into his pockets and slowly walked toward home. Maybe he’d run into her again and be able to apologize for being so stupid.