Live Love – Part 8
Nora slid onto the same bar stool she’d occupied so briefly earlier. “I've um.. been meaning to compliment you in your choice of shirts.” The woman openly admired the shirt. “My mother is a breast cancer survivor.”
“Oh, that’s great!” Andy stopped a moment and shook her head. “I, um.. I mean the survivor part.”
Laughing, Nora waved away the nervousness. “Yeah, I knew what you meant.” She smiled, again making the dimple appear. “And yeah, it is great.”
Andy cleared off the trays and left them in the sink for the moment. Opening the drawer with her tea stash in it, she gave her guest the options. “decaf, oolong, Earl Grey, herbal, raspberry, blueberry, cinnamon…Chai”
“Um… the choices are a little overwhelming.” Nora shrugged. “I just do ‘tea’.”
Nodding, Andy picked a lemon herbal, it was kind of late for caffeine, unless the point was to stay up all night. She got the cups from the cabinet and dropped one teabag in each cup before moving to the center island. “So what do you teach at the school?” She watched as the steaming water going into the cup began to turn a light yellow. She passed the drink across to the woman and also handed her the sugar.
Filling her own cup, Andy got two spoons and handed one to Nora.
“Thank you.” The teacher took the spoon and measured out three scoops of the sugar before stirring the mixture. “I teach music.”
“Ah,” Andy nodded and, leaning against the counter, began to scoop sugar into her drink. A big reason for Cassidy’s crush choice became clear, aside from the obvious physical attraction; Cassidy loved music and sound.
“I have two Masters Degrees, one in music and the other English.” She pointed upstairs. “We've only met twice so far but I will usually make them read and review a book for these meetings. In the last meeting, they all were just studying for finals, so we discussed the previously assigned book from one of their classes and then I let them study. I knew this one would be a bust since it was the last day of school so I let them slide.”
“Oh…well, it was actually an interesting debate. Some of them had some really good points about hand eye coordination and online interactions.” Andy had wondered what the study group was actually going to ‘study’ during the summer break. She watched the woman sip her tea. “I am glad that you actually make them read.”
“Mmmm… I think Cass is smart enough to find another solution.” The teacher sipped her tea, “Most likely I will be talked into letting them read newspapers and discuss the stories, instead of dissecting novels this summer.”
Cassidy can talk her into things? Andy answered slowly. “Well, keeping up on current issues, is good.”
Nora looked up at her hostess. “So is this, it’s wonderful.”
Andy laughed. “Yeah, I like it when it’s later in the evening. Miranda so rarely drinks tea I’m usually on my own for this particular ritual.” Andy pushed away from the island counter, “C’mon.” She led the woman to the small, dimly lit, sitting area just outside the kitchen. Settling into Miranda’s favorite chair, Andy sipped her tea and gestured for Nora to have a seat in the next chair. “This is much more comfortable than the kitchen.” She looked through the large doorway into the well lit room, “We’ll be able to see if the kids come down and need anything.”
Nodding, Nora sat in the chair on Andy’s right so that they could speak quietly to each other and still be heard. “Cass tells me you and her mother are going to be married.”
“Do you spend a lot of time with Cassidy?” Andy explained the question, “That's the third time you've used her nickname.”
“Oh!” Nora laughed, “I didn't realize... I guess I just hear the kids calling her that.”
Yeah, Andy thought, I'd buy that, except you never call Caroline 'Ro', like the others do. She decided to just answer the previous question. “Yes, we're getting married. You didn’t get that from the papers?” Andy knew it was big news and had been headlines in some of the more desperate rags.
“It’s so hard to tell what’s true and what isn’t.” Nora grimaced at the thought, “How do you stand it?”
A flash of white teeth gleamed in the dimness and Andy shrugged. “I know what’s true.”
Nora thought about that, “I guess that would help.” She grinned and blinked as a movement of Andy’s left hand sent a glint off of her ring. “Oh, wow, that’s gorgeous.”
“Yeah,” Andy looked at the ring on her finger with something akin to awe. “It’s a beautiful ring.” What it represented was the real awe inspiring thing though. The ring, as beautiful as it was, was merely a physical reminder of the actual gift; Miranda’s love. Andy couldn’t help but smile whenever she thought about it. I hope Miranda feels the same when...
Thunderous footsteps on the stairs caused both women to turn and look down the hall. The kids stopped at the sitting area and Caroline spoke for them. “Amber’s mom called. She’ll be here in a minute.”
Heather spoke up, “I’m gonna catch a ride with them, we live next door to each other.”
“Are your parents aware that you will be riding home with Amber?” Ms. Bax was hyper alert to things like that. Working at such an elite school had obvious advantages, and not so obvious disadvantages. Student’s safety was a huge deal, with some of their parents as influential as they were. The children’s safety was a serious issue.
“Yes,” Heather pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed. “You can make sure though.” She handed the phone to the teacher.
Ms. Bax took the device and waited for the connection. It only took a short conversation to confirm that Heather did indeed have permission to ride home with Amber.
It was amazing to see, much like dominos as soon as the two girls were picked up, the others rides soon followed. In a very short span of time the group was gone and the twins were upstairs watching television so only Ms. Bax lingered with Andy in the sitting area.
“Do you have plans or can you stay to meet Miranda?”
“Oh!” Nora clasped her hands together in front of her in an attempt to stop them from shaking at the thought. “I’ve, um… met her before. At recitals and programs at school… she’s rather serious about attending.”
“Mmm…” Andy shook her head. “Yeah, I nearly got fired once because I couldn’t get her home in time for one of their recitals.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Nope,” Andy’s gaze focused past the seated woman, “She was very upset.”
Nora jumped slightly at the voice behind her.
“Well of course I was, Andrea, it was just drizzling! There was no reason whatsoever for planes not to be flying.”
Andy stood and laughed. “It was a hurricane and you were in Miami!”
With a dismissive sound, Miranda dropped the subject. “Have the children already left?”
Moving around the chairs, Andy nodded. “Yes, the last one just left. The twins are upstairs watching TV.” She closed the distance between them and kissed her fiancée lightly. “And welcome home.” She looked over Miranda’s shoulder and nodded. “Hello, Emily.” She grinned as the redhead studiously avoided looking at her.
“Mmm…” Tossing her handbag into the chair Andrea had just vacated, Miranda wrapped her arm around the young woman’s waist, but faced the now standing teacher. “Ms. Bax, how nice to see you again.”
“You too, Ms. Priestly.”
Andy and Emily inhaled sharply but Miranda simply smiled. “Miranda, please.”
“Right… sorry.” Nora rolled her eyes. She had no idea why this woman made her so nervous, some of the other parents were judges, lawyers and even one Senator, but trying to speak directly to Miranda Priestly was just so intimidating.
“It’s very kind of you to take days out of your summer break to supervise the children’s study group.” Miranda turned her head to speak to Emily.
“Go lay out the catering information in my study.”
“Yes, Miranda.” Emily, grateful for the distraction, moved back down the hall and entered the door across from the table where she normally left the Book.
“It's not that big of an inconvenience. I don't have any big plans for the summer anyway.”
The silence drew out until Nora smiled weakly, “Okay, well, I know you’re busy. Wedding plans and all...” Nora smiled at the couple. “So I’ll just be on my way.”
“It was nice to meet you.” Andy smiled and reached out to shake the teacher’s hand.
“Oh! You too.” Nora shook the offered hand. “Thanks for the tea.”
“Of course.” Andy and Miranda walked with Ms Bax toward the door. Miranda went upstairs to say hello to the girls while Andy continued to show the students' adviser out. She was surprised and pleased to see that most of the reporters had gone. “Drive safely. Have a nice evening.”
“You too.” Nora waved and walked down the sidewalk to her car.
Andy watched to make sure she got all the way there without being hassled by the few remaining reporters. When the teacher’s car pulled away from the curb, Andy closed the door and locked it before making her way back down the hall to the study. Nora Bax... Andy thought ruefully about the young teacher and Cassidy's crush. Tomorrow she knew their internet connection would be quite active as she searched for as much information as she could get on the nice music teacher, that used Cassidy's nickname without realizing it. Nora Bax, you seem nice enough, Andy took a deep breath and calmed herself down. Cassidy had a crush, okay, everyone had those at some point. Thinking back on the evening, aside from the nickname thing, there was nothing to indicate that Cassidy was anything more to the teacher than just another student. Still just to be on the safe side Andy would check the woman's background. She knew in her heart it was the only thing she could do, just to be sure, because she and Miranda agreed on one thing above all else.
Nobody messes with our girls.
Miranda and Emily had taken places on the couch while Andy settled cross-legged on the floor intent on evaluating several different caterer’s various menu offerings; determined to make a decision on something. It took twenty minutes of reading delicious descriptions of food before Andy’s stomach growled, loudly. She sighed as Miranda and Emily both turned their attention to her.
Emily looked at her former co-worker with annoyance but Miranda’s blue gaze captured Andy’s. “Do you have something to tell us, Andrea?”
Andy chuckled, “Only that the snacks I shared with the kids seem to be wearing off.”
“You had snacks earlier and you’re hungry now?” Emily was appalled. “How do…” She just stopped herself from asking how Andy ate all the time and still stayed size four.
“I’m larger than the people you are used to seeing but a lot of my mass is muscle, so the food I eat burns away fairly quickly.” Andy smiled at the diet conscious redhead. “It’s mostly because I run every day.”
“Andrea keeps herself in very good shape.” Miranda’s lips twitched as her fiancée’s stomach rumbled again. “Perhaps it’s time to order dinner?”
Nodding, Andy gracefully rose to her feet. “I’ll go ask the girls what they want. Indian okay with you?”
Miranda nodded, “Yes, my usual will be fine.” She turned to Emily. “What would you like?”
“Um…” The woman had no idea. “I don’t… um… I don’t do takeaway that often. What’s good?”
Ordering Indian food was a frequent occurrence in the Priestly-Sachs household, but the addition of Emily with her English accent caused a flash of reminiscence. Getting takeaway with friends, co-workers really, after long days at work, were among some of Miranda’s favorite memories of her younger days.
“Add a vegetable curry to the order, Andrea.”
Nodding, Andy reached out and trailed her fingertips down Miranda’s arm tangling their fingers together briefly, as she left the room. “Be right back.”
Miranda watched the brunette leave and turned back to the task at hand. From the corner of her eye she studied a rather unreadable expression on Emily’s face. It only lasted until the editor turned to face her assistant fully. As soon as Miranda’s cool gaze landed on Emily’s face, the redhead was all business. “Glorious Foods say they are more than willing to work with you on the menu.”
“Bu…” Emily stopped herself from arguing, that particular caterer had worked with Miranda before and for them to willingly want to work with her again had been amazing in and of itself.
“Any caterer will be willing to work with us. That is their job. For them to make it sound like a favor to us is unacceptable.” Miranda picked up the sample menu and crumpled it before tossing it into the wastebasket at the end of the coffee table. “I believe Andrea’s grandmother was interested in cooking a few things for the reception.” She ignored Emily’s horrified expression. “Therefore, any caterer we utilize must be willing to recreate any family recipes we give them.”
Forcing down her obvious disdain for the idea of ‘family recipes’, Emily only paused a few seconds before responding in the only way she could.
Andy barely paused at the door of the tv room. “Hey girls, I’m calling for Indian, do you want your usual?”
They both gestured for her to be quiet, their eyes riveted to the screen. “This is the exciting part!”
Glancing at the screen, Andy rolled her eyes. She had forgotten it was ‘Top Chef’ night. “Sorry.”
They again gestured for her to let them hear and both girls cheered, in unison, as Padma intoned. “Please pack your knives and go.”
From their comments, Andy realized that neither of the girls liked the contestant that had been eliminated and were glad they wouldn’t have to put up with the usual whining on the next episode. As the credits rolled, she asked again about the dinner order and after they confirmed their usual, she also informed them. “Emily will be joining us…”
“Yeah?” Cassidy asked. “What’s she having?”
“Your mom told me to order a Vegetable curry for her.” Andy grinned at their rolling eyes and moved the palm of her hand across her tummy. “We’ve been going over the caterer’s menus. It’s making me hungry, I thought Indian would be the fastest.”
“Oh! More wedding plans?” Caroline widened her eyes. “Can we help?”
Smiling, Andy wrapped her arm around the oldest-by-minutes girl’s shoulder and squeezed slightly. “Of course.” She winked at Cassidy. “I’m gonna go place the order, your mom and Emily are down in the study.”
Andy parted ways with the girls as they descended to the study and she continued up the stairs to the sun room, where she’d left her laptop earlier.
Miranda continued looking over the menus after Andrea had left the room. She picked up one they had discarded for use at the wedding and handed it to Emily. “This one I think will do well for the girls’ birthday party.”
“Uh…” Emily took the sheet numbly. “Birthday party?”
“Andrea thinks that it may be too much to burden you with, but I assured her that you would be able to plan both events admirably.” Miranda turned her gaze to the woman beside her. “I know you won’t disappoint me.”
The very thought of disappointing Miranda made Emily’s mouth go dry. “I’ll try not to let you down.” She was amazed to see the normally icy eyes soften and her heart almost stopped at the quiet words.
“Thank you, Emily.”
For a moment the redhead’s cheeks were the same color as her hair then she got hold of herself. She looked at the paper in her hand and frowned. “I don’t think these people will do for the twins’ party.” Emily saw Miranda begin to frown and spoke quickly. “I’ve spoken with them before and while their attitude toward the wedding is very positive, they are quite… snotty for anything they feel might be ‘beneath’ them…”
“…such as a birthday party for twelve year old girls.”
“Exactly,” Emily added. “They also continually asked when they would meet with you…”
“Ah…” Miranda understood, blinded by the chance to meet a celebrity. “Very well. Choose someone you deem suitable.” She informed the woman of the girls’ wishes. “Caroline and Cassidy are in agreement that the theme of their party should be ‘Twilight’.”
Emily forced herself not to roll her eyes. They were only children after all and Twilight things were quite the fad at the moment. Before she could comment any further the girls in question practically barreled into the room.
“Whoa!” Miranda found herself pressed back into the couch by her enthusiastic children. “What’s all this?”
“We’re gonna help with the wedding plans…” Cassidy settled between her mother and Emily.
“Andy said you were looking through the caterer’s menus.” Caroline was slightly better at containing her excitement and she sat on the arm of the couch next to Miranda.
“Yes,” The editor indicated the papers covering the coffee table in front of them.
The description of one entrée caught Cassidy’s eye and she picked up the menu handing it to Caroline. “Look, this one sounds like what one of the contestants made tonight.”
Emily tilted her head. “Contestants?”
Both girls nodded and Cassidy answered. “Yeah, on Top Chef! We love that show.” The girl laughed and Cassidy announced, “I’m thirsty.” She grinned as Caroline quickly put the paper in her hand down.
And as suddenly as they’d arrived the girls were gone, heading to the kitchen for a drink.
“Ah... Top Chef…” Emily had watched the show a few times. She thought about it and a wild idea caught itself in her brain. Oddly enough, Miranda’s blue gaze held some amusement and before Emily could speak, the Goddess of Fashion did.
“Call Padma in the morning, she will be able to direct you to the correct people.”
Nodding, Emily grinned. “Yes, Miranda.”
“Now,” Miranda dismissively waved in the direction of the scattered menus. “Let us discuss the cake for a moment.”
Emily cleaned off the coffee table and pulled the information on the bakeries from her bag; the bakeries that dealt exclusively with celebrity weddings. “The first decision will be to determine exactly what kind of cake you want.”
“Mmm…did I hear the word ‘cake’?” Andy walked into the room and settled on the floor with her back against the couch, curling her arm around Miranda’s legs, tucking her shoulder under the woman’s knees. “Dinner will be here in twenty minutes.” She closed her eyes as Miranda’s fingers automatically threaded through her hair.
“Do you want a traditional white cake, Andrea?” Miranda asked absently. Her mind was no longer on the wedding. The young woman’s cheek leaning against her thigh was just too distracting.
“Hmm...” Andy absently caressed the silk covered legs under her hands. “I have no opinion on the matter.”
“Really?” Emily sniffed but spoke blandly. “I would have thought the cake would be one of your favorite parts.”
Andy recognized the dig at her weight even without the usual snide tone. “Oh no,” With a grin and a knowing glance at Miranda, Andy responded wryly. “My favorite part will be the honeymoon.”
Miranda turned a wicked grin on the woman at her feet. “Mine as well.”
Caroline returned from the kitchen with a drink in her hand. She took one look at Andy’s position, Miranda’s expression, and Emily’s burning cheeks then rolled her eyes. “I don’t even want to know do I?”
Miranda chuckled and answered. “Probably not.”
“We’re talking about the cake, Munchkin.” Andy shifted and patted the carpet next to her. “What do you think? Should we go traditional?”
“Traditional?” Caroline scrunched up her nose. “Why?”
“What’s traditional?” Cassidy walked into the room. She narrowed her eyes at Caroline sitting close to Andy and moved to wiggle into the space she’d left earlier between Miranda and Emily. She smiled as Miranda wrapped an arm around her shoulder, even if her other hand remained lightly brushing through Andy’s hair.
“The wedding cake, Bobbsey. We are discussing options for it.”
“Traditional?” Cassidy agreed with her sister. “Boooorrring!”
“There you have it.” Miranda turned toward her assistant, “We will require a non-traditional cake. We certainly can’t have the iconic center of our wedding ceremony to be,” the editor’s eyes twinkled slightly as she imitated her daughter. “…booorrrring.”
To her credit, Emily’s lips twitched but she managed not to smile. With a slight sort of seated bow to the editor, she replied wryly, “No, we certainly can’t have that.”
They all spent several more minutes discussing size and design of the cake before the doorbell ended the debate of tiers versus layers. They all knew who was at the door even without Andy’s comment.
“Food’s here,” Andy kissed the knees so close to her lips and rose from her position on the floor. “I’ll get it.”
Miranda also stood, gesturing to the others to follow. They occasionally served appetizers in here, small snacks during long work sessions, but they never ate a full meal anywhere other than the table; either in the kitchen or the formal dining room. With just four or even five of them the kitchen was always the preferred choice. The formal dining room had not been utilized for a meal since Andrea had begun living with them, not even when Dorothy had visited. That may be something to change soon… Miranda thought. No time for thinking about it now though and her attention was drawn to the young woman walking down the hall with two large bags of food in her hands. “Girls, set the table if you would please.”
“Ah…” Andy stopped them. “Wash your hands first please.” She set the example by setting the food on the counter and cleansing her own hands before she began to set it out on the table. The girls exchanged looks with each other, they had just washed their hands when they'd come into the kitchen to get a drink. A pleading look toward Miranda only gained them a quick ‘just do it’ head jerk from the editor.
Andy dried her hands off and gave Miranda, and Emily, a pointed look. “You too, please.”
Nodding, Miranda moved to the sink, Emily held back until Miranda was finished.
Miranda was rewarded with a quick kiss and a small cup containing her antibiotics. Andy smiled at her former co-worker and asked. “What would you like to drink, Em?”
“Sure.” Andy poured their guest’s drink and filled the girls’ glasses with fruit juice before turning to Miranda just in time to see her pull a bottle of wine from the cooler. “Ah… uh uh…” She snagged the bottle from the editor’s hands and replaced it on the rack. “No alcohol, not while you’re still on antibiotics.” She kissed the woman lightly on the cheek. “You can have grape juice, but not ‘grape juice plus’.”
“Fine then, I’ll have some of that hideous tea you’re constantly drinking, but be sure you put enough milk and sweetener in it.” Miranda took her seat at the table.
Laughing at the instructions, Andy went about the business of preparing the drinks. She knew Miranda despised tea, but as an accompaniment to Indian food, Chai spice tea was often a tolerable compromise. She didn't want to call attention to the concession though so Andy simply smiled at the older woman. “Yes, Dear.”
To be continued