Andy gave herself a pat on the back for her timing as she heard a knock on the door. Dropping down the last half flight of stairs quickly, Andy pulled the door open for her guest. “Good morning, Serena.” She closed the door behind her guest and gestured toward the outside with her thumb. “They give you any trouble?”
“No,” Serena adjusted the pony tail she'd threaded through the back of her baseball style hat and sighed, “They just took a lot of pictures.”
“I don't doubt it.” Andy grinned and looked her friend up and down playfully, “You're gonna do wonders for Nike's sales. They should pay you for such great advertising.”
“Well I knew I would have to wear a brand name outfit at least,” Serena indicated the running suit Andy was wearing, “Mine is not a Versace, but I would not disgrace Miranda, or Runway, by wearing common sweatpants and t-shirt.”
But I would have... Andy closed her eyes for a second, incredibly thankful that she had taken Miranda's advice and used the birthday presents from the very beginning. The idea of embarrassing Miranda was not something she ever wanted to contemplate, and the potential for that was so huge with the upcoming television appearances. Pushing that particular terror from her mind, Andy smiled at her guest and motioned for the tall woman to follow her. “You ready to run?”
Serena nodded absently, answering the question as she looked around. “Yes.”
Andy grinned at the fascination with the house that all Runway employees had, she remembered from her time there that Miranda's personal space was the subject of much whispered speculation in the break room. Especially the torture chamber that all Runway employees agreed Miranda kept in her basement. “Great!” Leading Serena into the kitchen, Andy opened the refrigerator and taking a bottle of water for herself, handed one to Serena, then retrieved Patricia's leash from the drawer. “Here we go,” She continued their trek out the kitchen door to get the large dog from her area in the back yard.
It was too difficult to talk while they ran, so a comfortable silence settled between the pair as the longer legged woman matched Andy's stride. They only spoke as they waited for the lights to change at the crosswalks.
“Are you going to be okay with this pace?” Andy worried as they jogged in place waiting for the light to signal it was safe to walk, “It has to be an adjustment for you.”
“It's not that much of a difference,” Serena assured Andy, again, “We are not going all out, the stride length is similar to what I have to keep on the treadmill. Continue at your normal pace, I will keep up.”
Andy laughed, “Thanks, I think...” She wanted to see what the woman running all out actually looked like, someday. At the next light she spoke, almost apologetically. “I would like to do a shortened run today, if that's okay.”
“Of course,” Serena didn't care how far they ran, so long as Emily was at the end of it.
“This is the last light by the way, before the park. We'll do one of my regular circuits and then meet Emily...” Andy tried not to grin at the smile on Serena's face at that, “then another circuit around and back home.”
“That will work.” The tall Brazilian touched Andy's shoulder and indicated the signal, “Shall we?”
Nodding, Andy tugged on Patricia's leash and they were again moving toward the park. It was different, running with someone, Andy glanced over at her new running partner. It's kind of nice though, she watched the road ahead of her and tried not to think about how much nicer it would be if Miranda was there with her too.
When they rounded the last curve on the circuit path, Andy released Patricia from her leash and pointed to a bench in the distance, a lone figure with very visible red hair sat, waiting. She grinned at her running buddy, “Race ya.”
Andy laughed as Serena didn't hesitate, the long legged Brazilian took off like a shot and no matter how fast Andy ran, the enormous stride was too much for her to overcome. There were a good five seconds between the time Serena and Andy reached the bench, and the waiting Emily.
“Good morning, Em.” Andy twisted and stretched a little, as Serena was doing, cooling off somewhat before she simply sat on the bench next to Emily. “So, what's the scoop on the wedding plans?”
“The 'scoop', Andrea, is that we must decide on the decor for the ceremony.” Emily pulled a three ring binder from her bag and handed it to the rather sweaty woman next to her, “Look these over and tell me if any of them seem suitable.”
Andy nodded and opened her bottle of water, taking a long drink before she began to look through the binder. She'd flipped through nearly half of the book before she found what she was looking for, This is it, she thought as she stared at the page and spoke out loud, “This is the one.”
Serena hadn't really been paying attention to the pictures in the book, she'd been obliquely focused on Emily. Shifting her attention to the page, the tall woman was surprised, “What design is that?”
Emily rolled her eyes, “It's the Greek Temple layout.” She shook her head, “Andrea, I don't think...” It was such a common thing, why would Miranda want that?
Andy's dark eyes pinned Emily's blue ones. “She's a goddess, Em, this is where she should be married.”
Unable to look away, Emily swallowed and nodded, “Right.”
With a glance at Serena, Andy sort of shied away from Emily, wondering what the reaction was going to be to her next statement. “I, um... want to change the colors too...”
“What?!” Emily stood and turned to face Andy, shaking her finger at the seated woman. “Now you see here, I am not going to deal with a bunch of this 'bridezilla' crap... you will make a decision and stick by it or so help me God I'll... I'll...”
Serena stood and wrapped her arms around the smaller woman's shoulders. Her voice was soothing, “Emily, shhh... it's okay, just hear her out.”
Andy tried not to grin at the way Emily tensed then relaxed into the embrace, “I've just been rethinking it is all. And now with the decor chosen I realize I made a mistake. I love the way Cerulean Blue and Black go together, it's very elegant, but I think Cerulean Blue and White would be better, light and airy.. the sky and clouds... okay?”
Serena leaned close and spoke to Emily, “That sounds reasonable, doesn't it?” She asked, “Are there any black decorations that have been ordered, that can't be canceled?”
Emily sighed, “Only one, but I can still use it for the Twilight party, so it's not a total loss.” She reluctantly moved away from Serena and sat back down on the bench, “I'll tell the hotel and the decorator what you've decided.”
Andy caught the pronoun, “You think I should ask Miranda her opinion as well?” The answer surprised her.
“No,” Emily took the binder from Andy and slipped it back into the carrying bag, “Miranda has made it abundantly clear that it is your decision, Andrea, so whatever you want is what I'll make happen.” Pulling another folder from the bag, Emily handed it to Andy, “Now that the decor is settled we can move on to the seating arrangement.”
Andy took the folder and blinked at the contents. “I um... wow.”
“Yes, wow indeed.” Emily let out a long exasperated sigh and shifted the pages for Andy to see, “I believe this is the best layout for the expected turn out.”
“Huge,” Serena supplied, leaning across Emily to see the floor plan drawing.
“There are five hundred people on the guest list, Andrea, that means sixty three tables of eight... plus the head table. I thought about doing tables for ten, but they are larger, and we can't spare the space they take up.” Emily indicated the tables around the edge of the space. “These are reserved for people who will most likely not show up, according to Miranda.” Emily still had her doubts about that. “But if they do arrive, they should have a place to sit.”
“And if they don't,” Serena reached over, pressing slightly against Emily's shoulder in the process, “then those tables can be removed easily to provide more space for dancing.”
“Exactly. We'll have a better idea once people RSVP.” Emily tried to keep her mind focused on her work, and not the warmth pressing into her shoulder, or the rich voice next to her ear.
“Looks good, Em.” Andy nodded and handed the pages back. “What about the girls' party? Everything on track there?”
“Yes, that is all going quite nicely.”
“Great!” Andy checked her watch. “Okay then, I have to get back. I want to say bye to Miranda before she leaves for the office and I have to go to the studio this morning...”
Emily nodded and slid the folder into it's place in her carry bag, “Miranda has the showing with Jean-Paul at ten-thirty, then lunch reservations at 'that place Andrea likes' so I was assuming you were going to meet her there.”
Andy laughed, “I'll ask her when I get home.” She saw Emily's eyes widen, “Yes, I ask her things.” Speaking of which, “Um... what is 'that place I like' this time?”
“Oh!” Andy grinned, One of Miranda's favorites, “I do like that place and the girls love it too.” She saw Emily's shock and nodded, “They're out of school now, can you change the reservation to four people?”
“Of course.” She spoke sarcastically, “I'm sure that week in advance policy they have is just a suggestion.”
Standing, Andy chuckled and stretched a little, “Thanks, Em.” She looked around for Patricia then let out a piercing whistle. She nodded to the seated woman. “This works out well I think. See you here tomorrow?”
“Yes.” Emily stood and adjusted the bag across her shoulders. “I'll just run home and change before heading into the office.”
“You look fine now, Em... why change?” Andy's eyes twinkled as Serena spoke up.
“I agree, why change?”
Andy barely stopped Patricia from jumping up on her then clipped the leash on Patricia's collar and ruffled the dog's neck as her companions spoke to each other.
“I have a brilliant new Westwood that I want to wear.” Emily hoped Miranda, and Serena, liked it.
“Of course you do.” Out of sight of Emily, Serena grinned at Andy, “Are we ready to start back? I too need to go home and change, Emily would be able to go directly to the office from here, but I,” She indicated her running outfit and small amount of perspiration, “cannot.”
Nodding, Andy gave Patricia's leash a little tug, “C'mon, Patricia,” She waved to Emily, “Later.”
Emily watched them go then turned to start her own trek home. An ultra skinny boy stood in her path, “Excuse me.”
“Um... you were talking to Andy Sachs?”
Emily's eyes narrowed, “Yes.”
His adams apple bobbed convulsively as he held out a folded piece of paper, “Could you give her this, for me?”
“Certainly not,” Emily chastised the boy, “this is not grade school and I will not be passing notes for you. She will be here tomorrow at this same time, I suggest you give it to her then.”
He licked his lips and nodded. “Yeah, okay... thanks.”
Emily turned to see Andy and Serena just rounding the corner they had appeared around earlier. Andrea had apparently said something to Serena and the tall woman had reached out to playfully punch the brunette's upper arm. Emily sighed, first Miranda, now Serena, she wondered how Andrea managed to endear herself into people's lives like that.
Miranda was in the small sitting area just outside the kitchen, looking over the Book when Andy and Serena returned. “Welcome home, darling.” Miranda removed her glasses and tilted her head to accept a kiss on the cheek from Andrea.
Andy whispered, “Feel better?”
“Mmmm...” Miranda nodded subtly, “Yes, quite a bit better.” She turned to Serena, “Did you enjoy your run? It must be quite different than running on a treadmill.”
“It was very pleasant and I will completely enjoy continuing the routine.” Serena smiled at the couple. “I will have to get used to the extra time it takes to go home and shower though, I normally change at the gym.”
Miranda closed the Book and nodded, “You should bring your office clothes here, we do have running water here.” She licked her lips and glanced up at Andrea, “Sometimes it's even hot.”
Andy laughed and sat on the arm of Miranda's chair. “That's a great idea, just change here.”
“Oh... I don't think...”
“It seems like a sensible solution,” Miranda stood, “but suit yourself.” She held the Book up slightly, as she spoke to Andrea, “This is a complete disaster, and I have that showing at ten thirty, will you meet me for lunch?”
“Yes,” Andy smiled, “The girls and I will go to the studio this morning and meet you at the restaurant at noon.”
“Very well,” Miranda leaned in and kissed Andrea not so quickly on the lips, “Until then.” With the barest of nods to Serena, Miranda walked down the hall and out the door to the waiting car.
Serena watched her boss leave and let out the breath she'd been holding. “I've watched Miranda walking the halls of Runway more times than I can count...” she began, Andy finished the thought for her.
“Amazing, isn't it?”
“If you don't mind my saying so,” Serena looked at the door Miranda had exited through, “She's a force of nature.”
Andy grinned, “Hurricane Miranda.”
“How do you live with that?” Serena's admiration for Andy jumped a notch, especially when the brunette sighed and answered softly.
It's rather easy, once you make it to the eye. “There's nowhere else I'd rather be.” Andy shrugged and looked up as they heard loud stomping down the stairs. “Sounds like the twin tornadoes are awake.”
Almost before Andy finished speaking the girls barreled down the stairs, they both clung to Andy. When they saw Serena, their enthusiasm for the day dampened slightly.
“Hello,” Caroline addressed Serena and Cassidy chimed in.
“Good morning,” Cassidy looked at Serena's outfit, “Did you go running with Andy?”
“Yes,” Serena smiled at the child, “We are going to start running together.”
Andy felt Caroline's grip tighten slightly and smiled down at the girls. “You guys remember Serena right? She's the head of the Beauty department at Runway.” Dark eyes twinkled as Andy watched both girls nod slowly. “Why don't you two go in the kitchen, I'm going to tell Serena bye and then we'll have some breakfast.”
Cassidy agreed, grabbing her sister's hand, “C'mon Ro, let's go get some juice.”
Caroline allowed herself to be dragged off, but kept her eye on Serena the whole way. Once in the kitchen, Caroline turned around to watch the women by the door.
Andy chuckled and walked with Serena to the front door, “Never a dull moment.”
“Andy, I want to thank you for helping me with Emily... getting to see her in the morning is... nice.” Serena wrapped her arms around the shorter brunette's shoulders and as she pulled away brushed her lips against Andy's cheek. “I hope the extra time will work to my advantage.”
“I'm sure it will.” Andy squeezed Serena's hand. “If nothing else, we'll just have Miranda order her to go on a date with you!”
Serena laughed, “That might actually work!” Her eyes darted sideways without moving her head, “Um... I might have gotten you in trouble with the little ones though, one of them is watching us.”
Andy sighed and rolled her eyes. She didn't have to look to know who was watching. “Caroline, and of course she is... they are always watching.” Running her fingers through her hair, Andy smiled. “I'll explain it to them.”
Serena bestowed Andy with one of her most peaceful smiles, “You, make a wonderful mother.”
With a dazzling smile in return, Andy opened the door for her friend, “Thank you.”
Serena gripped Andy's upper arm briefly, “See you later, or tomorrow.”
Nodding, she made sure Serena made it down the steps and out to the street where the Brazilian had parked her car earlier then Andy shut the door. With a deep breath she made her way into the kitchen, to face her inquisitors.
“So,” Andy clapped her hands together as she entered the kitchen, “What should we have for breakfast?”
“Why are you suddenly running with her?” Caroline's eyes were accusatory. She had seen the kiss Serena gave Andy, Cassidy hadn't.
“Ro!” Cassidy sighed, “They were just running.”
“That isn't all they were doing.” Caroline's eyes were hard, very similar to Miranda in full Dragon mode. “I saw her kiss you.”
“What?!!” Cassidy looked at Andy in horror, “Why?!”
Uh oh, double interrogation. Running her fingers through her hair, Andy gestured for the girls to take a seat at the table, she sat across from them. “Yes, you saw Serena give me a kiss,” She pinned Cassidy with a stare and pressed home the fact, “On the cheek.” Andy saw Cassidy relax slightly, “Serena is a very tactile person, but that was a 'thank you' kiss, for helping her.”
“Helping her?” Caroline narrowed her eyes, what could Andy help Serena with that earned a kiss?
“Yep,” Andy's dark eyes twinkled, “I've asked Emily to start meeting me at the park, so while Patricia plays, Em and I can discuss the wedding plans.”
“What does that have to do with Serena?” Caroline was confused, but now Cassidy spoke up.
“She likes Emily!”
Andy nodded, “She does indeed.”
Caroline blinked, the Miranda-hardness was gone from her eyes replaced with a child's 'I-really-want-to-believe-you' look. “So you and Serena aren't...” She couldn't say it, it had happened so many times, but this time... “You aren't going to...” she choked back a sob, “...leave?”
“What?!” Andy quickly circled the table and, dropping to her knees, gathered Caroline in her arms, “No... no.. I'm not going anywhere.” She held the now crying girl and looked to her sister for help.
Cassidy explained, “Whenever Mom is dating anyone, whenever they break up, it always hits Caroline the hardest. Sometimes she's even more upset than Mom.”
“C'mon, Munchkin,” Andy petted the girl's hair gently and spoke soothingly, “I'm not going anywhere, I love your Mom and I love you and your sister so much...” She could lie, and tell the upset child that she would never leave them but she opted for the truth, “There are only two things that will ever make me leave Miranda.”
“Huh?” Caroline sniffed and pulled away from the woman to look at her face. “What?”
“Two things,” Andy reiterated, “I will never leave unless Miranda wants me to, and I mean really wants me to...”
Caroline calmed down slightly, that would never happen and she knew it. Her mom loved Andy with all her heart and would do anything to keep Andy with her, with them. “What else?”
“If I die.”
“No!” Caroline again was clinging to Andy and Cassidy joined her.
“You can't die!”
“Shhh...” Andy assured them, “I'm not going to if I can help it.” She spoke seriously, “I'm not leaving...but, I am going to have friends, and sometimes they are going to kiss me on the cheek, and sometimes I'm going to kiss them on the cheek... it doesn't mean I'm going to leave your Mom, I'll never willingly leave her.” Something bothered her about this whole episode though and she asked. “Why would you even think I would?”
Cassidy stiffened slightly, and Caroline tensed too.
“Munchkin?” Andy tilted her head down to see Caroline's face. “Why would you even think that?”
Caroline bit her lip and mumbled something Andy didn't quite catch. She knew Cassidy had understood the mumble though because the girl nodded in agreement.
Cassidy sighed and repeated Caroline's comment coherently, “Serena is really beautiful.”
Whoa... they think because... Andy shook her head, “Okay, do me a favor.” She waited for them to look up at her, “Close your eyes,” She smiled as they did, slowly, “Now, think of the most beautiful woman you can.” Cassidy stiffened in her arms again and she assured them both, “You don't have to tell me who, just get the picture in your head.” When they both nodded, Andy gave them a little squeeze, “Okay.” They opened their eyes and she instructed them, “Now, tell me to do the same thing.”
Caroline looked confused, but Cassidy understood and spoke, “Close your eyes, Andy.”
Andy closed her eyes and heard the next instruction from Caroline, “Now picture the most beautiful woman you can.”
Nodding, Andy smiled at the picture in her head, “Got it.” She hadn't needed to know who the girls were thinking about, but they couldn't stand the mystery and Caroline asked, “Who is it?”
Keeping her eyes closed for a heartbeat longer, Andy smiled and answered softly, “Miranda.”
“Duh, Ro... and if we asked Mom it would be Andy.” Cassidy was a little ashamed that she'd thought so little of Andy's feelings toward her mom. They are so much in love, Cassidy looked up at Andy, “Sorry, Ma... we should have known better.”
Andy winked at Cassidy, “S'okay Sweetie, so long as you know now...”
“We do.” Caroline had come to the same conclusion her sister had, Andy wasn't like all the others, she wasn't going to leave.
“Okay then!” Andy released them, “Now, what are we gonna have for breakfast?”
To be continued