Within ten seconds Emily stood in front of Miranda's desk. “Yes, Miranda?”
“Contact accounting. Let them know that I'm still waiting for those numbers I asked for, and that I will not wait much longer. Double check the car for Mila, and confirm tomorrow's lunch reservation at that place Andrea likes. Also, tell the Art Department if they wish to take their time with the Book tonight, don't, I want it by nine.” She waved her hands in a shooing motion, “That's all.”
“Yes, Miranda.” Emily left quickly and as she returned to her seat informed Bethany. “You're going to have an early night tonight, Miranda wants the Book by nine.”
“Really?” Bethany beamed and thought. Cool! It's our anniversary tonight, if I'm home by nine-thirty Tony and I can still have a romantic evening together! The short woman looked up as Miranda walked out of her office.
“Forget contacting accounting,” The editor paused in front of Emily's desk. “I will speak with them myself.” Turning to Bethany she instructed, “Coffee when I return.”
Bethany nodded, “Yes, Miranda... and thank you.”
With the barest of winks and the tiniest of smiles, Miranda turned and stalked out of the office.
Looking up from her laptop screen, Andy smiled. “Peggy... What can I do for you?”
“Um... I um... while you were gone... gathered the mail. I, um... put most of it on Miranda's desk...” The housekeeper watched the brunette's smile falter.
“Oh...” Andy saw the envelopes in Peggy's hand and quickly grabbed the marker next to her notepad on the desk. She held out her hand, in an unconscious imitation of Miranda. “How many were there?”
“One every day,” Peggy handed the envelopes over, “Monday, Tuesday, Today...”
“Thanks.” Andy began writing on the envelopes 'Return to Sender', “I talked to my police officer friend about it, and she gave me a number to call.” Looking up at the kind woman, Andy smiled. “I would like to be the one to tell Miranda about this.”
Nodding, Peggy agreed. “Of course.” She watched as Andy finished writing the return to sender instructions on each of the envelopes, tucked them into the pocket of her laptop carrying case, to be mailed tomorrow and then smeared a glob of antibacterial gel on her hands.
“Um... I was wondering if you cared... if I took off early...” Peggy wrung her own hands in front of her. “I have some... something to take care of.”
Wriggling her fingers to dry the germ killing stuff between them, Andy asked, “Anything I can do to help?” She worried, the housekeeper was a very nice woman and was quite a good friend.
“No... I...” She sighed, “My son and his...wife are in the middle of a divorce, and they need someone to watch the baby while they talk to the lawyer.” Peggy looked apologetic, his other grandma has him right now, but she can't watch him after five, she has...other things to do.” Licking her lips, Peggy pressed her hands together, “I hope they get it all settled soon and get him into a daycare somewhere.”
“Ah.” Babies everywhere... Andy thought. “Sure, you can take off early.” She thought for a second and added, “I'll talk to Miranda about it, but I'm sure that if you need him to be here with you from time to time it wouldn't be a problem.”
“Thank you,” Peggy released a long exhale. “I hope it doesn't come to that. He's not exactly a 'baby', he's almost three...kind of destructive.”
Andy winced at that, but nodded and smiled as she assured the woman. “It'll work out.”
Peggy smiled. “Thanks, Andy. Vegetable lasagna is in the oven. It will be done at six. Breadsticks are in the warming drawer. Salad is in the fridge, you just have to put the dressing on.” She hurried out of the room to gather her things and leave.
Andy reached for her phone and fished through her notes for the number Jo had given her. A brief conversation with the warden at the correctional facility Judy was being held at resulted in a promise to look into the matter. Which meant, most likely nothing would get done about it. It also meant that he really didn't understand the precariousness of his situation, because Andy knew if nothing was done, Miranda would go over his head to deal with the problem. She decided to take a wait and see attitude, writing 'Return to Sender' on the envelopes actually had a bit of a therapeutic effect on her. Still, any contact at all with the woman was too much and Andy wanted it stopped. After the trial she had never wanted to think about Judy again but it seemed the woman had other plans. Shaking off the disturbing image of Judy in her jail cell plotting revenge on Miranda, Andy turned her attention back to her work.
She was just finishing the article she'd been working on when a knock on the door frame and a quiet voice interrupted her.
Blinking to refocus her eyes, Andy looked up, “What's up, Munchkin?” She patted the space on the couch next to her. Caroline hadn't had a fever or an upset stomach for several weeks now, but the girl had a tendency to have both fairly frequently, as some kids do. “You feeling okay?”
“Yeah... I'm okay.” Caroline sat down then sighed and gave in to the urge to snuggle next to Andy. “I'm sorry.”
Andy dropped her arm around the girl's shoulder. “Sorry for what?”
“For earlier, about... about when I thought you might be pregnant.” Caroline shook her head, “It just would have been...” Her voice lowered. “I wouldn't have liked it.” She admitted, “What if...” Hesitating for a moment, Caroline blurted, “What if you loved the baby more than us?” More than me.
“Whoa!” Jostling the girl under her arm, Andy emphasized her words, “That would never happen. I love you, and Cassidy so much...” Glancing up, Andy thought for half a second she could actually see a lightbulb over her head. “You're upset because of Candice?” She waited for Caroline's nod. “You think your Dad is going to stop loving you when the baby is born?”
Caroline shrugged. “I dunno.”
“Does Cassidy feel that way too?” Andy wondered why they hadn't both come to talk to her.
“No, Cass thinks I'm being stupid.” Caroline shrugged, “She doesn't want the baby any more than I do, but she just thinks it's embarrassing for Dad to be having a baby at his age. She's not convinced that Candice is even pregnant or if she is that it's even his. She always worries about what the press will write.”
“You aren't being stupid.” Andy assured Caroline. “It's only natural to think about what's going to happen after the baby is born.” She kissed the top of Caroline's head, “Things will change, but your dad loves you so much... a baby won't change that.”
“But, how do you know?”
Dark eyes twinkled. “Experience.” She tapped the girl's nose. “Chad is seven years younger than me, I remember when he was born and I was thinking all the same stuff you are...”
“Yup,” Andy rested her head on Caroline's and spoke quietly, “But Daddy took me aside and explained, that love isn't limited, it grows as your family grows, so no matter how many people there are, you always have enough love for everyone.”
She worked very hard not to think about how her 'daddy' felt about her now. “Nothing will make me, your Mom or your Dad love you any less...” She repeated the word, low and intense, “Nothing.”
Andy jumped and both she and Caroline looked over at the doorway, where Miranda stood. “Sheesh, Miranda! How'd you walk on the hardwood floor so quietly?” She'd been so focused on Caroline she hadn't heard the door open either.
Miranda laughed and lifted her hand, her shoes, that she had removed immediately inside the door, dangled from two fingers. “These will never be featured in Runway again!”
“Awww...” Andy gestured the older woman over to the couch. “Poor Miranda.”
Caroline shifted so that she was sandwiched between Andy and her mother, “We get to have dinner together tonight?”
“Yes, my darling, I'm home for the evening.” Miranda smiled, a bit of sorrow tinging her eyes as the girl seemed inordinately pleased by what should be a common occurrence. She barely had time to lean into the kiss Caroline placed on her cheek before the girl ran out of the room to inform her sister of the dinner plans.
Andy chuckled, “They're good kids, Miranda. You did good.” She absently hooked her hand under the older woman's knees, shifting the shapely legs around. Resting the woman's aching feet on her thighs, Andy began a gentle massage. “So... Rough day?”
Swallowing hard at the sensations running through her, Miranda closed her eyes and nodded. “Yes.”
With a sigh, Andy began, “This probably isn't the right time to tell you...” Her phone ringing stopped the confession. She answered it with a smile. “Ma?”
“Hi, Sweetie,” Dorothy spoke quickly. “We've booked a flight to New York for Friday... do you have a pen?”
Andy patted Miranda's feet and when they were moved off her lap, leaned forward to reach her laptop. She opened a new document and told her mother, “Yeah, go.” she nodded and typed as her mother conveyed the flight information. “Great, Ma... yeah, I got it.” She smiled wider, “I'll see you then.” She was about to put the phone down when it rang again. A glance at the screen raised her eyebrows as she pushed the connect button, “Yes, hello?”
“Andrea, I just got off the phone with the people at Good Morning America,” Emily paused, “Oh, and, hello. Anyway, the GMA people are very excited to have you on the show, as are Regis and Kelly, and the women of the View.”
“All of them?” Andy bit her lower lip, “When?”
“Yes, all of them, on Monday. It's very simple because they are all in the same building and they film right after one another... so you do GMA first, then Regis and Kelly, then The View... you're done by noon.” Emily exhaled, “Now for the bad news, you must, and I cannot emphasize this enough... you must be at the ABC building by five on Monday morning... at the latest. Do you understand? You have to be there then.” She continued, “And you must go in as soon as possible to have your wardrobe chosen and get some promo shots for the ads over the weekend.”
Andy laughed, “Emily, if you or anyone else thinks that anyone besides Miranda is going to decide my wardrobe, you all have another think coming.” Andy winked at her fiancee's rolling eyes and reached out to hold her hand, “No one but the Miranda Priestly herself dresses me,” a wicked smile crossed Andy's face as Miranda's raising eyebrows forced her to add, “or undresses me for that matter.” Andy rolled her eyes at Miranda's short nod and smug expression. After a few seconds of silence Emily's exasperated scoff changed her smile to a smirk.
“I don't care what you wear or who tells you to wear it... just be there!” Emily audibly shifted the phone to her other ear. “I will see you in the park tomorrow morning?”
“Yes, we should be there by seven.” Andy winked at Miranda, knowing what Emily's next question would be and imagined she heard Emily licking her lips before the British woman's voice sounded in her ear.
“So, Serena is still going to run with you?”
“Yes, as far as I know her plans haven't changed.” Andy nudged the woman slightly, “If you would rather she not be there...”
“What?” Emily tried to sound as disinterested as possible. “Why would I care one way or the other?”
“I dunno, Em,” Andy chuckled, “Serena seems quite nice, I didn't figure you'd have any problems with it, I mean, you two are friends right?”
“Yes,” Feeling her heart sink a little, Emily repeated the word, “friends.” She looked across her workspace at Bethany. “Well, Bethany is here waiting for the Book and I am going home. Until tomorrow then, ta.”
Andy opened her mouth to tell the woman goodbye when the silence on the phone made her look at the screen, 'call disconnected'. “Huh, ta to you too.” Shrugging she tossed the phone back to the coffee table and pulled Miranda's feet to their previous position. “Where were we?”
“Do you plan on telling me what all that was about?” Miranda indicated the phone.
“Sure,” Andy smiled as she focused on Miranda's lovely feet, gently kneading the muscles there as she spoke, relating first her family's travel plans, then her scheduled appearances on the talk shows.
Somewhere in the middle of Andrea's recitation, Miranda again closed her eyes and shifted enough to rest her head on the arm of the sofa. When Andrea stopped relating the plans that had been dictated by the phone calls, Miranda luxuriated in the foot massage for a moment longer then opened one eye to see the woman's response to her next question. “Now, what was it you were about to tell me before the phone rang?” As she suspected, the hands on her feet, stilled.
“You caught that, eh?” Andy again shifted the feet off her lap and used the time it took to liberally cover her hands with antibacterial gel to think about what she was going to tell Miranda. Oddly enough, the older woman waited patiently, seemingly content to relax on the sofa while Andy contemplated her words.
In fact, the total opposite was happening, Miranda was not relaxed at all. The longer Andrea remained silent, Miranda's tension grew. When the young woman finally spoke, Miranda felt dizzy, letting out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.
Reaching into her laptop case, Andy pulled out the letters and handed them over. “These have been arriving in the mail since the trial.”
Miranda sat up and took the envelopes from Andrea's hand and Andy watched as the older woman's expression went from curiosity to anger as she read the return address then unexpectedly, a bit of hurt began to seep in. Oh God, no... she couldn't think... “I don't want them! I didn't ask for them! I don't want to have anything to do with her, ever!” Andy could see the editor's hand shaking and continued speaking, “I've returned every one of them unopened and I called the...warden I guess you'd call him... I told him I wanted them stopped!”
“Of course,” Miranda's voice shook every bit as much as her hand's trembled, “I didn't think...” She began the lie, it was poised there on the tip of her tongue and she bit it back.
Andy tensed, she heard the beginning of the blatant lie, Miranda was about to deny thinking that she and Judy were connected, but the woman had clearly thought it. Andy, waited, there was one chance for Miranda to fix this, one chance for Miranda not to lie. The problem was, Andy wasn't sure what she would do if Miranda insisted on that course of action. Her heart pounded in her chest, waiting to see what the older woman decided to do. Will she deny it? She watched those lovely blue eyes close as Miranda spoke.
“I only considered the possibility for a second,” Miranda opened her eyes, willing Andrea to accept this truth, “I didn't think it was true.”
Andy swallowed hard and nodded, shifting to lean against the woman, resting her dark head against her fiancee's shoulder. “I would never hurt you, Miranda, just the thought of it makes me nauseous.” She kissed the neck so close to her lips, “My tummy hurts now, just from that bit I saw in your eyes.”
Pulling the young woman down, Miranda wrapped her arms around Andrea, running her fingers through the deep brown hair soothingly, “Shhh... It's okay, I'm fine, you're fine... we, we are fine, Andrea.” Miranda's voice soothed the woman's fears. “We will deal with this, situation as we deal with all of them, together.” She felt Andrea relax in her arms and asked, “Why didn't you tell me earlier?”
Draping her arm over Miranda's waist, Andy snuggled closer, “I didn't want to worry you, print deadline was coming up and you were so busy, I was going to wait until Sunday, but then you whisked me off to England and it just didn't seem to be the right time...”
“But you told someone?” Miranda wasn't sure she liked the idea of Andrea confiding such important things to anyone other than herself.
“I told Jo, when we had lunch.” Andy's breathing evened out. She loved laying next to Miranda on the couch. “That's when she gave me the warden's number...”
So much had happened since that day, it seemed so long ago, but it was only last week. “What did the Good Detective have to speak to you about?”
“Oh!” With the whirlwind trip and everything, she'd almost forgotten. “She wanted to talk to me about Blair.”
“Oh?” Miranda craned her neck to see Andrea's face. “Is everything alright with them?”
“Not really,” Andy grinned, “And it's kinda your fault.”
“My fault!?” The older woman laughed, “I fail to see how that could be possible.”
“It's because of your comment, about Blair designing clothes... she, um, can't get it out of her head.” Andy grinned, “She's been working like a demon creating new designs and Jo wanted to know if you could spare some time for her to have a showing.” Nodding at the widening blue eyes, Andy continued, “I told Jo I'd discuss it with you. Apparently, Blair is obsessed with the idea.”
“Andrea, I don't know if...”
“I know...” Andy knew what Miranda was going to say, “I told Jo that when it came to fashion you would not pull any punches, that if you liked something you would say so... and if you didn't....”
“I will convey that as well.” The fashion icon thought for a moment about that, it was an interesting situation. The designers had never actually been Miranda's friend before, acquaintance of course, Donatella was the closest she'd ever been to this situation but her approval or disapproval of anything the Versace designers created didn't usually affect Donatella one way or the other. This would be an actual friend.
“Jo wants that.” Andy explained, “She knows Blair is good, but she isn't sure that she's that good.”
Miranda licked her lips, “If she can be ready by the end of next week, I'll take a look at what she has.”
“Really?” Andy rolled her eyes, “Nevermind. Okay, I'll set it up.”
“Mom... Andy...” Cassidy came barreling into the room, skidding to a halt when she saw the position they were in, laying on the couch. “Argh... my eyes!”
Andy laughed, “Awww...C'mon, Sweetie... we're dressed and everything.”
Miranda's eyes twinkled at her daughter, “It could have been worse.”
“Ugh!” Cassidy wiped her hand over her face. “Dinner is ready, the timer went off a little while ago. Ro and I set the table.”
“You're gonna be on TV!?” Andy mimicked the girls' reaction to the news as she stood at her side of the sink scrubbing the minimal make-up off her face for the night. She was glad the girls were so thrilled, but she was still terrified at the prospect. It was the best thing though, the fastest way to reach the most people, to counteract the crap Stephen was saying in the papers.
“They were quite excited.” Miranda too concentrated on the make-up removal process. “You didn't have to tell them that they could accompany you to the studio tomorrow.”
Andy paused for half a second then continued her task. “I just thought they'd enjoy it.” And be my personal twin security blanket. She put down the washcloth. “Um... if you don't want them to go...”
“Oh,” Miranda scoffed and nodded, “Of course... make me the villain, telling them they can't go do something fun and exciting.”
“Miranda?” Andy's heart was pounding now, she had made the offer to the girls without thinking anything about it past the girls enjoyment of it and her need for company. Is she really upset? “It is your decision... I only...”
“Andrea,” Miranda finished her task and turned to face the young woman, “You have always been a part of the decision making process regarding the girls.”
“I have?” Andy thought back and she realized that Miranda was right. Even when it seemed like it was Miranda making the call, the woman always sought Andy's agreement with the decision before anything was done. Even as far back as that last time Caroline had been sick. She remembered thinking something seemed weird then and now she knew what. Miranda wanted to keep her out of school the next day, but she asked me about it first. Reaching out, Andy pulled Miranda into a tight embrace. Miranda's silk nightgown sliding against Andy's soft pajamas generated heat wherever they touched and Andy whispered, “Thank you.”
“For allowing me to... be a part of the girls' lives.” Andy smoothed her hands up Miranda's back, “For allowing me to love them, too.”
Miranda pulled away slightly to look into the brunette's dark eyes, “I allow nothing, you are a part of their lives because they want you to be. They allow it, Andrea, because they love you, almost as much as I do.” As she drowned in the dark gaze, Miranda thought, No one can love you as much as I do.
Andy smiled at the words and lost herself in Miranda-blue. She gently traced the outline of Miranda's freshly washed face. “Do you know how beautiful you are?”
“Andrea,” Miranda closed her eyes and leaned into the touch, “I'm nothing special.”
“Oh my god, Miranda,” Andy whispered, “You're everything special.” Turning the older woman gently to look into the mirror, Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda's waist and peered over her shoulder. “Can't you see?”
Miranda was trembling and she knew Andrea could feel it, she swallowed past the lump in her throat and managed to ask. “What do you see, Andrea?”
“I see, you. My Miranda.” Andy smiled and kissed Miranda's cheek gently. “The most intelligent, most amazing, most phenomenal woman I've ever met.”
“Look closer, Andrea.” Miranda lifted her chin slightly and asked. “Do you see the wrinkles?”
“Yes, I see them,” Andy's dark eyes roamed over the reflection before meeting Miranda's eyes in the glass, “and I love every one of them.”
“How can you possibly...” say that, mean that...
Shifting around, Andy blocked Miranda's view of herself. Leaning back against the sink counter, Andy looked into Miranda's real eyes. “You, are the most incredible person, and I love every single thing about you.”
Miranda was lost in Andrea's dark eyes, the sensation of the brunette's long arms around her, the feel of her warm breath caressing her face. She was so mesmerized that she didn't realize they'd moved until the backs of her legs hit the bed. It wasn't unwelcome by any means, but the thought crossed Miranda's mind, What has brought this on? Forcing her mind to function, Miranda realized what they had been discussing before Andrea's declarations of undying love began. She's scared of going on television. Not for the first time, Miranda cursed Stephen. She knew though, that it was the younger woman that needed reassurance about upcoming events and her own insecurities would wait.
In a move that was suspiciously martial arts in nature, Miranda fell back onto the bed, bringing Andrea down with her. Quickly flipping the younger woman to her back, covering the brunette's body with her own, Miranda grinned. “Every single thing?”
Reaching up, Andy threaded her fingers through the soft white hair. “I'm going to have to learn this karate stuff aren't I?”
Laughing, Miranda allowed herself to be pulled down for a kiss. “Mmmm... I don't know, I rather like having this one small advantage over you.”
Andy found Miranda's ear to whisper, “I like it too.” Miranda's low laugh in her ear sizzled down Andy's spine. I like it a lot. Miranda's next words drew a whimper from the brunette.
“Let's just see what else you like...”
Arching into the touch, Andy moaned appreciatively and looked into Miranda's smoldering blue eyes as the older woman began to unbutton the pajamas Andy wore, “I love you.”
Miranda nodded and parted the fabric to expose ample amounts of skin. Dipping her head down to taste the offered flesh, Miranda smiled against the softness she found, “I love you too, Andrea.”
Miranda closed her eyes tightly, unwilling to wake up just yet but the owner of the annoyingly cheery, sing-song voice had other ideas.
“Andrea,” Miranda kept her eyes closed, “It is wholly obscene how cheerful you are this morning.”
Andy sat on the edge of the bed to put on her running shoes and laughed, “Miranda, what you did to me last night was obscene...” She grinned as one blue eye opened to peek at her and a smug look crossed Miranda's face, “My cheerfulness this morning is 'wholly' understandable.”
Miranda laughed and shifted, the unexpected ache that accompanied the move drew an involuntary groan from the older woman.
“Ohhh... my poor Miranda...” Andy leaned over to kiss the woman's cheek, “I have to go, Serena will be here any minute for our run.”
“Is it that late?” Miranda had no idea she'd slept so long. Another shift pulled another groan from her. “Remind me never to do that again.”
“Ha!” Andy grinned, knowing exactly what that Miranda was referring to, “Not a chance...” She ran her fingers through Miranda's soft hair and smiled, “It's not like I need a repeat performance any time soon though.” Miranda's surprised expression made her laugh, “I need a certain amount of recovery time too.” Dark eyes twinkled at the smirking woman, “I have to go, is there anything you want me to tell Em or Serena?”
“Tell Emily she is fired.”
Andy chuckled, “What for this time?”
“For drawing you from our bed at this early hour.”
Miranda sounded completely serious but Andy knew she wasn't, it was sweet and a little terrifying as the editor continued in her I'm-not-kidding bored tone.
“I don't know why I've put up with her for this long anyway.”
“Yes, you do.” Andy shrugged at Miranda's 'enlighten me' look. “You love her.”
Rolling her eyes at that, Miranda laughed, “Well of course I do.” She ran her fingers through her hair, “Why else would I keep such a total neurotic in my employ?”
Andy had actually been halfway teasing, she blinked at Miranda's admission. “So.. you and... Emily?” A full ringing genuine Miranda-laugh met that question.
“No, my Darling... not like that...” Ignoring the muscle twinges, Miranda shifted to sit with her back to the headboard and smiled. “Picture Emily, blonde.”
Andy narrowed her eyes in concentration, it was a stretch, but she managed the visual, “Okay.”
Miranda nodded once, “Now, put a child in her arms.”
That was a little harder, but Andy concentrated and then suddenly she understood. “Dinah!... Emily reminds you of Dinah.”
“Yes,” Miranda admitted, “She always has.”
It hadn't been too long prior to Emily's first interview that Miranda had been introduced to her full grown niece. Natalie's silence after their mother's death had robbed Miranda of her family, but even with her stunningly red hair, the resemblance to Dinah had caught Miranda's attention. It was the main reason she had hired the young woman. Luckily the redhead had worked out rather well, even with her neuroses.
Andy smiled and rose from the bed then turned to lean over and kiss Miranda gently on the cheek. “You're such a softie.” A scoff from Miranda garnered her another kiss and as Andy moved away she winked, “I have a bath ready for you. Thought you might want to relax and soak for a bit before you went in to the office.”
Even the thought of being surrounded by the swirling water was helpful. Her words stopped the younger woman as she began to walk out the door, “Thank you, Andrea.”
Turning to face the bed, Andy flashed Miranda a smile and with her hand on her heart, bowed slightly. With a jaunty tilt of her head and a wink, she was out the door.
Miranda took a deep breath, keeping her eyes on the empty doorway for a long moment. Her thumb absently caressed the ring on her finger and she smiled to herself as she whispered quietly.
“I'm going to marry her.”
To be continued