DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To emeraldorchids[at]outlook.com
"Don't be silly, Andrea, everyone wants to be us," Miranda said before she stepped out of the car.
As she walked up the stairs, she paused, sensing Andrea was not behind her. When she looked out towards the car, she saw her assistant standing in the plaza next to the fountain. With a groan, she turned around, pushing photographers out of her way as she stormed down the steps and ran across the street in her Prada heels.
The young woman jumped as if jolted from a daze and stared at Miranda, wide-eyed and trembling.
"Andrea," Miranda said, reaching for her hand, "sit, just for a moment." She took a seat on the ledge of the fountain, gently leading the brunette to sit next to her.
Miranda held up her hand. "I need you to stick with me for the next eight hours, do you understand? Eight more hours. And then, we can talk. I know you're not happy, and I, well, I think I know what you must think of me."
"Miranda, I'm sorry."
"Please. Save your apologies. I brought you here because you are the best and brightest assistant on my team. Eight more hours, Andrea. Just give me eight more hours."
"Okay," she said, nodding and wiping at the tears forming in her eyes.
Miranda pulled a tissue out of her purse and took Andrea's face by the chin. "Look up," she said, dabbing the moisture away. She tossed the tissue back in her purse and pulled out an eyeliner pencil. "Hold still," she said as she touched up the corners of Andrea's eyes. "There perfect," she said. "Are you ready?"
"Yes," Andrea said, standing and smoothing out her skirt. "Thank you, Miranda," she whispered.
"For what? I don't know what you're talking about, Andrea. Come along," Miranda said.
The next morning, when the Runway team was assembling at the airport gate, Miranda walked over to Andrea, who was furiously typing something on her computer.
"Andrea," Miranda said.
"Yes, Miranda?" she asked, digging for her notepad.
"No no, I don't need anything. Well, not like that." Miranda held out a ticket to Andrea.
"Sit with me on the flight home. We can talk."
Andrea's eyes widened. "B-but, you always have a spare seat. Y-you don't like to sit by anyone."
Miranda rolled her eyes. "I don't like to sit by others when all they do is try to kiss my ass for seven straight hours. For some reason, I don't think you have plans of doing that."
Andrea smiled. Maybe it was Miranda's sense of humor, or the fact that the editor knew her better than she thought. "Okay, but only if I can get a few hours' sleep at some point," she said.
Miranda raised an eyebrow. "Well, you certainly don't think I plan to spend seven straight hours listening to you. Of course," she said, walking back towards the gate.
Neither Andrea nor Miranda spoke to each other until the plane was in the air. After the flight attendant brought them coffee, Miranda turned to look at Andrea. "What happened yesterday?"
Andrea took a slow sip of her coffee and set it down. "You mean before or after you screwed Nigel?"
"Wow, I didn't see that coming," Miranda said softly. "After. Wait, no. Before. What were you thinking when you showed up at my suite, looking like a hooker crawling out of a back alley? And in front of Irv Ravitz nonetheless? What happened to that jacket you were wearing anyway?"
"Yeah, that wasn't one of my brightest moments. I, uh, went on a date. I don't know why I'm telling you this When I woke up, the pieces just fell into place and I wanted to warn you."
"Pieces don't just fall, Andrea. In this game, they are expertly placed. Was it James? Or Jacqueline? She's been known to fancy the young women."
"What!? No. No. I'm sorry. It was a bad decision, but it was my decision."
"I'm touched that, even in that state, you showed up at my door."
"Bullshit. You just want to hold it above my head. Use it against me. Keep it in your arsenal for whenever you need someone to screw over," Andrea said.
Miranda sighed. "So that's why you left."
"I didn't leave."
"Do you mean to tell me you would have turned around if I didn't come get you?"
"Save it, Andrea. I know you want nothing to do with me. You think I'm pathetic."
"I didn't say that. I justI needed air. I needed to think about what you said. Itit was true," she said. "And you're far from pathetic."
Miranda nodded and took a sip of coffee.
"It's true. I screwed Emily like you screwed Nigel. If I would have refused to come, I would have lost my job. We do what we need to in order to survive."
"You just didn't want to think of yourself stooping to my level. That you were as cruel as the devil herself. That others would dispose of you so quickly without a second thought, that is, unless there's blackmail."
"No!" Andrea said, turning quickly to Miranda. "Really, I don't thinkI mean, it's an honor to be compared to you."
Miranda raised her eyebrow. "Be serious."
"I am," Andrea said, lowering her eyes. "You're brilliant and sexy and powerful and really funny, and I mean that."
"And old and vulnerable and pathetic and alone."
"Is this about Stephen?"
Miranda cringed. "I don't want to talk about him. We're getting a divorce. I should have never married him."
"Why did you?"
"I thought the girls needed a father-figure. I thought the tabloids would leave my personal life alone if I had the perfect family. It never wasperfect or a family."
"Miranda, I don't think you're pathetic. The other night, in your suite, II didn't know what to say. I meant that I was sorry. I wished there was something else I could do like hug you or something."
Miranda laughed. "Oh Andrea, I was just starting to believe you. A hug? Seriously?"
"Yeah, I'm serious. I'm a hugger, Miranda, sorry," she said, shrugging her shoulders.
After some time, Miranda spoke again. "You want to be a journalist. You're just putting up with this job so you can get my recommendation."
"Yes. But I'm not 'just putting up with this job'I take it seriously, and I want to be the best damn assistant you've ever had."
"What would you have done if I didn't come get you?"
"Umm, well, probably looked for a job at a local paper or something."
"Andrea you can do better than that."
"What? II have no experience. I haven't written anything in a year. I need something that pays the rent."
Miranda leaned back and looked out the window. "I have a proposition for you, Andrea. You are by far the best assistant I've ever had. But I can see you want more. And frankly, you deserve better than fetching my coffee."
Andrea stared at Miranda, her mouth wide open.
"Yes, I know I don't give compliments often. But Andrea, you are most deserving. You're different than the other girls in the industryyou know that as well as I do."
"So, what's the proposition?" Andrea asked.
"Don't worry, I'm not asking you to sell your soul. Let me help you find a worthy position."
"And in return?"
"And in return, you remain at Runway. I will promote you to first assistant, which includes a 15% raise."
"What's the catch?" Andrea asked.
"There is none, really, though you must understand that if you leave unprofessionally, or do anything that requires me to terminate you, I can no longer provide you with a glowing reference."
"That's it? Just keep doing my job?"
"Yes. Well, and continue to put up with me for a few more months."
"Wait, you said until I find another 'worthy' position. You wouldn't purposely hold me back, would you?"
"No. I would not. I was merely thinking that late spring is generally when we see turnover in the industry, and that you'd be more likely to find a good position then."
"But if I find something tomorrow, I can go?" Andrea asked.
"Yes, if you're so anxious to leave. I just don't want you leaving out of desperation. Promise you will come talk to me if things get bad if you 'need air' again?"
"Okay," Andrea said, shaking her head. "Okay. And thank you."
"My pleasure, Andrea."
There was a wonderful holiday buzz in the Runway offices post-Paris and pre-Christmas. Not only was Miranda kinder to Andrea and Emily, she was actually quite cheerful.
Andrea and Miranda had decided to spend an hour after work each Tuesday and Thursday to focus on finding Andrea a job. They began by brushing up her resume, and then Miranda even offered her a few small uncredited assignments for an upcoming issue. In January, she was going to help Andrea setup some informational interviews with writers at a variety of publications.
Initially, they met in Miranda's office at six, but Miranda soon invited her to her home so she could at least be present when the girls were home. On the Thursday before Christmas, Miranda invited Andrea to stay for dinner.
"Andy, where are you going for Christmas?" Cassidy asked.
"Oh, I'm just staying in New York in my apartment. It will be nice and quiet, you know," she said, staring down at her plate.
Miranda looked up with concern. "Andrea, you didn't mention you were staying in town. Will you at least be enjoying the holidays with your friends?"
"Uh, well yeah, I'll probably just get brunch with them."
"Andrea " Miranda pressured.
"I'll tell you more later," she said, looking Miranda in the eye. "But how about you twoare you excited about your trip to Mexico?" she asked, turning her attention to the twins.
"Yeah! We've been there before. The Fairmont Mayakoba is, like, my favorite place ever!" Caroline said.
"Well, I'm sure you'll have an awesome trip. Take lots of pictures, okay?"
"Girls, why don't you clear your plates and finish studying for your History test tomorrow, okay?" Miranda said.
When the girls left, Miranda reached across the table and took Andrea's hand. "I would have brought you with us if I had known. Andrea, you shouldn't spend Christmas alone."
"It's okay," Andrea said, squeezing her hand. "Really, I don't mind. We've got a lot of projects we can work on at the office, and I'll be able to work on those assignments for the March issue, too."
"Is it the time off? You know you can work from home if you need to travel back to Ohio."
"No, it's not that. I really don't want to go home. My parents aren't really talking to me, so a trip would just be a waste of money," Andrea said. "I should get going."
Miranda nodded and released her hand, following Andrea to the front door, helping her into her jacket. She straightened the lapels of her jacket and twisted her lip as she looked at Andrea.
"Merry Christmas, darling," she said as she pulled the young woman into a hug.
Andrea pulled back with wide eyes. "Seriously?"
Miranda smiled and hugged her tightly. "You once told me you were 'a hugger,'" she said, pressing a kiss to her cheek. "Well, I'm a kisser," she said with a wink.
Andrea smiled and leaned in to kiss Miranda's cheek. "Merry Christmas, Miranda," she said. "I hope you enjoy the time with the girls and that you can relax a little bit, too. If there's anything you need, you can call me."
"Would you mind watching the townhousejust coming by a few times? I didn't tell Stephen we were leaving, but I don't want him, well. Can you just keep an eye out?"
"Will do," Andrea said as she opened the door and stepped outside.
"Hello, Miranda? What's wrong?" Andrea said, answering her phone.
"Andrea, I just called to wish you a Merry Christmas, that's all. Did I interrupt you?"
"No. I mean, yeah, actually. I was sleeping. It's not even 6 AM. Why are you awake?"
"I couldn't sleep."
"Is everything alright?"
"Yes. I just haven't been feeling well. I think it's the water."
"Don't they say you're supposed to only drink bottled water and not take any ice over there?"
"Yes. And you know I do that anyway. I just think some of the food must have been prepared with tap water or something."
"Are the girls okay?"
"Yes, they're fine. I'm fine, really."
"Well, are you taking anything? Do you think an antacid or maybe Pepto-Bismol would help?" Andrea asked.
"I'll pick up some Pepto today. Really, it's nothing. I'll be fine."
"Okay. Can I schedule an appointment with your doctor when you return?"
"Maybe," Miranda said. "But I'll let you know. Really, I just called to say hello."
"Aww, do you miss me?" Andrea said, "Wait, don't answer that. Sorry, that was not professional."
"Andrea, I'm calling you to chat at 6 AM on Christmas day. This is not a work-related conversation. And to answer your question, yes, I do miss you. I think the girls do, too."
"Oh. Well, I kinda miss you, too. It's been pretty quiet at the office. Everyone knows you're gone, so there are no calls. There's no book to wait around for or anything, so I'm mostly just stuck watching Serena and Emily flirt all day."
"Well, youwhat? Our Emily and Serena!? You mean, they're I thought," Miranda said, chuckling. "Here, all this time I thought Serena was with Kyle from Production."
"Nope, they're just good friends. Sorry, I probably shouldn't have told you that," Andrea said.
"Well, I can't exactly pretend I don't know when I see them now. Let's just hope they keep the flirting behind closed doors when I'm back," Miranda said. "You know, I'm happy for Emily. That girl keeps everything inside. There have been days I nearly told her to go get herself off and come back when she's calmed down."
Andrea laughed. "You're joking. Oh my god, I would pay to hear you say that to her. The look on her face would be priceless."
"Yes, it would, wouldn't it. You know as well as I do that HR would not approve of those comments."
"Oh right, HR. I sometimes wonder if their reach extends to Runway, though."
"Why would you say that?" Miranda asked.
"Well, you're always firing people for no apparent reason."
"Andrea, did you read your contract that you signed on your first day?"
"Do you remember what it says?"
"Well, it was really long. I remember it mentioning 'the period of twelve months' several times."
"Yes, that is to establish that the assistant position is not at-will employment, and thereby you can actually only be terminated with cause. Because the details of the job description are so precisely laid out in the contract, with qualifiers like "promptly" and "accurately" and "efficiently," I can generally find cause to fire an employee simply because they did not make me happy. That's in the contract, too."
"Wow, you've really thought this through."
"Of course I have. In the case of the rest of the staff, they sign quite the opposite agreement. They are employed at-will, and I can terminate them without cause, as long as it doesn't violate public policy, isn't discriminatory, etc. It covers me when I need to justify breathing fresh life into the magazine, or into a particular department."
"So, your point is that you've got HR in your back pocket."
Miranda laughed. "When you put it that way, yes I suppose I have."
Andrea heard a muffled sound on the other end of the line.
"Andrea, the girls just woke up. I have to go," Miranda said.
"Of course. Tell them Merry Christmas from me!"
"I will. Our flight gets in Tuesday afternoon. Do you have plans for New Years Eve?"
"No. I can watch the girls if you need. I know Cara has the week off."
"Don't be ridiculous. I have a suite booked at the Renaissance Mariott. There's a remarkable view of the Times Square festivities and all that, and I was wondering if you'd be interested in joining us. I'm sure the girls will fall asleep early, and depending on how our flight goes, I can't promise that I can stay up too late, either, but I mean, if you have other plans "
"I'd love to join you," Andrea said quickly.
"Oh. Good. Great."
"You'd better get back to the girls."
"I'll call you Tuesday when we land. Take care," Miranda said.
"You, too, Miranda," she said, ending the call.
The next six days dragged on. She finished her projects at work, wrote and edited several drafts on the topics Miranda assigned her, and even setup a list of potential journalists for interviews.
"Miranda Priestly's office," she answered.
"Andrea, why are you at the office?"
"Miranda? Um, I was under the presumption that I was still employed," Andrea said.
"Yes, but it's two o'clock in the afternoon on New Years Eve. No one will be calling the office. II expected you to be here when we got home."
"Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't know. I thought you'd want time with the girls," Andrea said as she packed her stuff. She ran down the hall to grab a sparkly dress she picked out earlier in the day.
"Andrea, I've been with two ten-year-olds for the past eleven days. Are you still free tonight?"
"Yes, yes, of course. What time did you want to head over?"
"The sooner the better. I'm packing a small overnight bag for myself and the girls. They likely have the streets closed off already, so whenever you can get here."
"Do you want me to meet you there? I can be to the townhouse in twenty minutes."
"That's fine. I'll see you then. Ohbring the bottle of Veuve that's in the wine cooler."
"Will do. See you soon!"
"Mom! Andy's here! Let's go!"
Miranda came down the stairs with her bag, and Andrea couldn't help but stare. Her hair was a little bit longer, and she had it pinned back with a sparkly barrette, clearly belonging to her daughters. Her cheeks and nose were pink and freckles dotted her cheeks. Andrea absentmindedly licked her lips.
"Andrea, are you ready?"
She grinned and smiled at Miranda. "Yes. Roy's outside waiting. Let's go!"
"Shotgun!" Caroline said, running out the door.
"I wanted to sit up front with Mr. Roy! That's not fair, you only said it because I wanted to!" Cassidy cried, running after her.
Miranda rolled her eyes. "Why don't you both sit up front with Mr. Roy? If I remember, there are two seat belts up there."
As the girls situated themselves in the front, Andrea and Roy put their bags in the trunk. When Andrea joined Miranda in the back seat, the privacy screen was up and Miranda was rubbing her temples.
"Remind me never to fly without a nanny again," Miranda said.
"Aw, I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do?"
Miranda shook her head. "Just let me enjoy the silence for a few minutes."
Andrea turned and hugged Miranda, kissing her softly on her temple. "I missed you."
Miranda sighed and rested her head on Andrea's shoulder. "I missed you, too. A lot. And I have a new respect for what you do every day. I'm absolutely exhausted, and I was on vacation," she said.
Andrea shifted into the corner of the backseat and tugged Miranda back against her as she wrapped her arms around her waist. "Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. I'll take care of everything."
"Thank you," Miranda said.
Nearly an hour later, Roy pulled into the service entrance of the hotel. "We're here, wake up," Andrea said, softly rousing the editor.
"I could have slept for hours," Miranda said.
Once inside, the concierge met them and handed Andrea their room keys and another young man carried their bags up to their room for them. Andrea tipped him generously and asked that they not be disturbed, as she wanted to ensure Miranda got her rest.
The girls immediately claimed the bedroom with two queen-sized beds and a giant flatscreen TV. Andrea set her things in the main room next to the couch, and Miranda made her way to the master bedroom. It was a beautiful, luxurious room with all the amenities anyone could ask for. Andrea pulled out the hotel's room service menu and helped the girls to pick something out for dinner.
"Girls, after dinner, why don't you take a little nap," Andrea said. "You're probably tired from flying, and I know you want to be awake to see the ball drop. Beyonce's performing this year, I heard."
"That sounds like a wonderful idea, Andrea," Miranda said.
"But right now, while we wait for dinner, I want you to tell me all about your trip," Andrea said.
After dinner, while the three Priestly women were napping, Andrea turned out the lights and pulled a chair up to the floor-to-ceiling windows. This was the perfect place to be on New Years Eve, and she expected no less from Miranda. One month ago, in Paris, she agreed to spending eight more hours with Miranda, but so much had changed. Miranda had become a real person, and they were almost friends.
Before long, Andrea's alarm went off on her cell phone. "Girls," she said, "time to wake up. I'm going to make some popcorn, come on," she said.
As the girls brushed their teeth, Andrea put some popcorn in the microwave and poured two glasses of apple juice. She gently knocked on Miranda's door, and when there was no answer, she crept inside. "Miranda, it's almost midnight," she said, walking over to the bed. She gently nudged the woman's shoulder. "Miranda?"
"I'm awake," she said, sitting up. "I'll be out in a minute," she said.
Andrea nodded and met the girls in the living room, where they had pulled chairs up to the window, too. Andy poured the popcorn into small bowls for them, and popped the bottle of champagne, pouring a flute for herself and for Miranda.
Miranda joined them, and the girls sat at the foot of the chaise lounge with her. When it came time for the ball to drop, they all counted down with the crowd of people below. Caroline and Cassidy grew more and more excited with each passing second.
"Five! Four! Three! Two! One! HAPPY NEW YEAR!" the girls shrieked, hugging each other, and their mother, and Andrea.
"Well, that was fun," Caroline said, yawning, "but I'm going back to bed. Don't wake me up before nine, okay?"
"Me too, goodnight Mom. Goodnight Andy," she said.
Miranda bit her lip as she shook her head at her daughters. "Goodnight, girls. Sleep well," she called after them.
Andrea followed them into the bedroom, making sure the curtains were pulled and that they were tucked in before she turned out the lights and closed the door. She returned to the window with two glasses of champagne, and sat at the edge of Miranda's chair.
"Happy New Year, Miranda," she said, lifting her glass. "May the year to come be filled with joy and happiness."
"Cheers," Miranda said, gently clinking their glasses and taking a sip. She reached over to set her glass down on the table, just as Andrea was leaning in to give her a hug and kiss.
Their lips met, and both women froze. Miranda pulled back and set down her glass.
Andrea reached up and cupped the editor's cheek. "Miranda," she whispered, blowing her warm breath on her lips. "It's New Years, and I don't see anyone else around," she said as she brushed her lips against Miranda's.
Miranda traced her fingers along the young woman's face, then she slipped her hand behind her neck and closed the distance between them.
They were sitting two feet away from a glass windowpane, with over one million people in the street below. She should have been concerned, but when Andrea's soft, plump lips were pressed against hers, she couldn't think about anything else. Her hand found Andrea's hip, and soon, the young woman was straddling her lap, pushing her back into the chair.
Miranda pulled away to catch her breath, and Andrea began to unbutton her blouse.
"Wait," Miranda said, covering Andrea's hand with her own. She looked Andrea in the eye. "What are we doing?" she asked.
Andrea leaned in and kissed her again, but Miranda pushed her away.
"Stop, stop," she said. "Just, stop. Please. The girls."
Andrea sat back, then stood and walked back to the kitchen to clean up the popcorn bowls.
Miranda walked up behind her and softly placed her hands on Andrea's shoulders as she leaned her head against the taller woman's back. "I'm sorry. I" Miranda looked over at the door to the girls' bedroom. "Come with me," she said, tugging Andrea towards the other bedroom.
"Miranda, look," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry. It was just a New Years thing. We can just forget it ever happened."
Miranda sat next to Andrea and took her hand. "Do you want to forget it?"
"Neither do I," Miranda whispered. "But I can't. Not right now."
Andrea turned and smiled against Miranda's cheek, and she pressed soft kisses along her jawline.
"Andreeeea," Miranda moaned as she arched her neck. "I'm still married. Stop, please," she said, getting up and walking to the bathroom. "I'm going to get ready for bed. I suggest you do the same."
Once Miranda disappeared into the bathroom, Andrea grabbed a blanket, changed into yoga pants and a tank, and curled up on the couch.
"Andrea? Andrea?" Miranda called. She opened the bedroom door and a stream of light filled the room. "What the hell are you doing in here?" she asked.
Andrea sat up. "What? You said"
"I told you to stop, not to sleep on the couch," Miranda said, rolling her eyes.
Andrea quickly grabbed her things and crawled into the California king bed.
"Now what?" Andrea groaned.
Miranda crawled closer and laid her head on the young brunette's shoulder. "Happy New Year, darling. This is going to be a good yearI can just feel it."
The next few weeks went by rather quickly, and neither Andrea nor Miranda discussed their New Years kiss. The Runway offices were busy with a pre-spring energy, and Miranda's schedule was crammed with run-throughs, showings, and luncheons with designersboth new and establishedwho wished to be featured in the spring editions. There were a few days when Miranda had multiple lunches back-to-back, even.
But, no matter how busy she was, true to her word, she continued to meet with Andrea on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to help her advance her career. Those meetings always took place at the townhouse, now, and Miranda's daughters were always present. She claimed she wanted to maximize her time with them, even if it meant sitting in the same room, but working on separate things.
Andrea couldn't help but wonder if Miranda was maybe afraid to be alone with her. On the weekends when the twins went to their fathers, she always had meetings and appointments, too. Andrea wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but couldn't help feeling disappointed. Regardless, a few hours here and there with a busy Miranda was better than no Miranda at all.
Miranda proved to be an incredible mentor in the world of publishing. They spent time looking through some of Andrea's own writing, with Miranda pointing out issues of style and tone, and describing circumstances when one way of saying things would be more or less appropriate than another. She helped explain the tenuous relationship between advertising and editorial, and even offered some insight regarding nonfiction essays, long form narrative, and watchdog journalism. Andrea was filled with shock and awe as she tried to absorb her mentor's instruction. Also during the month of January, Andrea was able to reach out to several high-profile journalists who were, on Miranda's request, happily obliged to meet with a young up-and-coming writer. She met with Christiane Amanpour, Thomas Friedman, Hubert Rauscher, and had an upcoming informational interview with Maureen Dowd. For the first time in many months she felt confident as she thought of applying for jobs again.
"Good morning Andrea, Emily Nigel," Miranda said as she walked into the office, a smile plastered across her face.
The three employees exchanged glasses. "Miranda, I'm sorry, but is something wrong?" Andrea asked.
"Today is Thursday, January 30th," Miranda said in an almost sing-song voice. "Remember this date as the day on which I am no longer Mrs. Stephen Tomlinson," she said, throwing her hands in the air and shaking her hips in a little dance.
Emily's jaw nearly hit the floor. Andrea brought her hand up to cover her mouth as she laughed. Nigel, ever the gentleman, swooped in and led Miranda around the office while he hooted and hollered.
"How did that happen so fast?" Andrea asked as she leaned against the desk.
"Guam," Miranda said with a shrug. "Apparently there's no waiting period. And, it's recognized by all fifty states!"
"Well, congratulations," Andrea said, grinning.
"Thank you, my dear," she said, winking at her as she made her way into her office. "And Emily, don't look so shocked, it makes you look fat. I think you may have hated Stephen even more than I did."
Miranda sat at her desk and began reading through her papers, but Nigel, Emily, and Andrea were still speechless after what they just witnessed.
"Hey Em, why did you hate him so much?" Andrea asked.
"Before you came," Nigel whispered, "Stephen offered Emily a Cartier bracelet in return for her services."
"What a dickwad," Andrea said. She heard Miranda chuckle from her office.
"Well said. He ended up giving me that bracelet," Miranda said, joining in the conversation. "The girls use it when they play dress-up because I've always refused to acknowledge it."
"Dodo I really look fat?" Emily asked.
"Nah, well, only when you're frowning," Andrea teased.
"Yeah you should probably smileit has a slimming effect, sweetie," Nigel said, walking back to his office and shaking his head.
"Andrea?" Miranda called. "Shut the door."
She quickly grabbed her notebook and ran into Miranda's office, shutting the door behind her.
"Isn't that wonderful, Andrea?" Miranda said.
"Yes, yes it is. You didn't have to go to Guam, did you?"
"No, no. I just had to sign the papers and have them notarized. He was down there. He didn't contest the pre-nup, and, my lawyer called first thing in the morning to tell me the news," she said. "I didn't want to say anything until it was finalized, since, well, I could hardly believe it was legal."
Andrea laughed. "Whatever works. Why was he in such a hurry?"
Miranda rolled her eyes. "He got his twenty-two-year-old girlfriend pregnant, and she wants to get married. Can you believe that? He'll be seventy-five when the kid graduates from high school, eighty at the child's college graduation!"
"Wow," Andrea said. "Well, I guess we should be glad she made it easier for everyone, right?"
"Did you not see how happy I was when I walked in?" Miranda asked.
"Of course," Andrea said. "Let's celebrate tonight."
Miranda raised her eyebrow.
"Just dinner, and maybe some champagne or something and if you want, you could send the girls to their father's a little early," Andrea said with a shrug.
"They would be very disappointed if they missed you."
"Well, we could always wait until a better time."
"Then I would be very disappointed," she said with a smirk. Andrea couldn't help but notice the blush creeping up the editor's cheeks.
"I'll make reservations. Anywhere in particular? Delmonico's?"
"No, I have been going there too much lately. Let's do Barbetta. Get that table I like. I should be finished here by 5:30."
"Will do," Andrea said. "See you later."
"Andreawait, come here," she said, beckoning the young woman closer.
She walked over and squatted down next to Miranda's chair, taking her hands.
"You know I don't make it a habit to date my employees, but," she leaned closer, whispering in Andrea's ear, "you're my exception."
Andrea gulped as a shiver went through her body. "Miranda, you can't do this to me at work."
"Do what?" she asked, letting go of her hands and turning back to her papers.
"To the newly single Miranda Priestly," Andrea said, lifting her glass.
"And to my bastard of an ex-husband who couldn't keep it in his pants," Miranda added. "The first and only time I'll ever thank him for that."
"You know, the tabloids are much more likely to take your side, now," Andrea said.
"Or they'll just say I drove him away."
"Yeah, but driving him into the arms of a twenty-two-year-old still makes him look worse. Have you told the girls?"
"A little. They obviously know that Stephen and I were divorcing, and surprisingly they were okay with that. I am hoping to wait a little before they learn of his new girlfriend."
Miranda sighed. "Andrea, there is a difference between knowing you've been cheated on and explaining to your nine-year-old child that you've been cheated on. Children are quite persistent in asking 'why.'"
"Of course. I'm sorry, I didn't mean"
"No, no. It's okay. Three husbands, and each of them found something better than than me."
Andrea reached across the table and softly laid her hand on Miranda's. "They didn't deserve you."
"How can you say that? Anyway, I think I'm the common denominator there."
"Was James your first or second husband?" Andrea asked.
Miranda opened her mouth to speak, but closed it as the server brought their meal.
"You don't have to answer that," Andrea said, setting down her fork after taking several bites."
"No, I will," Miranda said as she dabbed her lips with her napkin. "I was starving."
"Waitdidn't you eat today? At lunch with Michael?"
"Not really. My stomach was bothering me. This gazpacho is delicious, though," she said, taking a few more spoonfuls and ordering a second bottle of champagne. "James was my first husband. We were married nearly ten years, and divorced when the girls were two. Just before they turned four, I married Winthrop, but that lasted less than a year. I met Stephen shortly thereafter, and we dated for a year before we got married."
"I don't think I've ever heard anyone mention Winthrop," Andrea said.
"Mm, yes. We disagreed on most things, but he was incredibly wealthy."
"Miranda, I'mI'm shocked."
"That I married old money? Or that I just admitted it?"
"Well, both," she said. "So, would that be Winthrop Rockefeller?"
"Well, his son. He died from leukemia last year, actually. He was a very kind man, but I think I was a bit too strong-willed for him. He was you know, I don't want to talk about him."
"I'm sorry. That's my fault. I asked," Andrea said. "We're supposed to be celebrating your newly single status."
Miranda quirked an eyebrow.
"I mean, you are single, aren't you?"
"I suppose that depends on who's asking," Miranda said with a smirk that was interrupted by her ringing phone. "Hello Bobbsey yes okay mm-hmm okay, Mommy loves you, too tell your sister goodnight." She ended the call and looked up at Andrea. Her eyelids were heavy and her lips were turned up ever-so-slightly at the corners.
"I take it they're settled at their father's?" she asked.
"Yes. Let's head back," Miranda said, waving the server over and asking for the check.
Andrea sent a quick message to Roy, and within a few minutes, they were tucked away in the backseat of the town car. Miranda's hands desperately reached for Andrea, caressing her cheek, palming her breast, tracing along her abdomen and hipsall while humming with delight. She began kissing Andrea's neck and chest, "Mmm, so beautiful," she hummed.
Andrea firmly took Miranda's shoulders and pulled her away as she pressed her index finger to Miranda's lips. "That's just the champagne talking," she said. "We'll be home in a few minutes, okay?"
Miranda nodded and rested her head against the younger woman's shoulder. "II was scared. On New Years," she said quietly. "I thought that Stephen would well, that's over now."
The car pulled up to the townhouse, and Andrea took Miranda's hand. "I don't have to come inside, it's okay," she said reassuringly. "I had a lovely evening with you, Miranda."
"I want you to come in," she said. She squeezed Andrea's hand, then stepped out of the car and went straight up the stairs to open the door. Once inside, Miranda turned to face Andrea who was stopped in the middle of the foyer. "Come upstairs. I want to change into something more comfortable."
Andrea nodded and followed the woman up the stairs and into the master bedroom, where she disappeared into the bathroom. She anxiously sat on the edge of the bed, trying to decide whether she should take her shoes off when Miranda stepped out of the bathroom, bathed in a deep currant silk nightdress.
"Wow, you look amazing," Andrea said, wrapping her arms around the woman's waist. She softly kissed her cheek.
"I don't feel amazing right now," Miranda said, pushing away slightly. "I should never have had that last glass of champagne."
"Let's go to bed then. Do you have something I could wear?"
Miranda looked at Andrea as if she had two heads. "Of course I have something, butI thought you wantedtonight"
Andrea pulled her closer and softly kissed her cheek. "I just want to be with you. We have plenty of time forother stuff."
Miranda smiled and walked over to the drawer, pulling out a long cotton tee. "Will this be suitable?"
Andrea nodded and went to change.
"Help yourself to anything you need in the bathroom," she called after her.
When the brunette returned, Miranda was already in bed. She crawled into the other side and set the alarm on her cell phone before turning out the light.
"Hmm, Andrea, get over here," Miranda said, patting the space on the mattress between them. When she scooted closer, Miranda kissed her lips gently, then draped herself over the young woman and fell asleep.
Andrea couldn't help but smile down at the beautiful, intriguing woman in her arms.
The next morning, Andrea woke to the sound of Miranda's vomiting echoing throughout the bedroom. She quickly made her way to the en suite and saw Miranda crouched down next to the toilet.
"Ughh," Miranda groaned. "Never mix champagne and gazpacho."
Andrea ran a washcloth under the faucet and handed it to Miranda as she kneeled next to her. "What can I get you?" she asked, rubbing gentle circles along her back.
"White Gatorade. There should be some in the fridge downstairs."
In the kitchen, Andrea poured a glass of gatorade and made some coffee for herself. Looking through the fridge, she cracked some eggs into a dish and set four slices of bread to soak while she ran back upstairs to check on Miranda.
"How are you doing?" Andrea asked, handing her the glass.
"Fine. I feel better now. II'm sorry I ruined everything," she said.
"No, don't say that. I look forward to many more dates and sleepovers with you," Andrea said. "Come on downstairs, I'm making french toast."
"I'm not very hungry, but thank you," she said.
"Well, go take a shower and get ready, and breakfast will be waiting for you if you want."
"Shit! It's Friday."
"And we have to go into the office."
"Well, I have to. I'm pretty sure you can qualify for a sick day."
Miranda bit her lip as she seriously considered it. "Okay. When you get to the office, I'll call and have you make an appointment with my doctor for a physical."
"Miranda, you don't need to make an excuse. If you're not feeling well, no one expects you to work."
"I know. But I do need you to make that appointment."
"Um, don't you think it's just a hangover?" Andrea said.
"I don't know. I've been feeling kind of sluggish since Mexico. It might be a virus or something."
"Okay. Well, I'm going to go put the french toast into the oven, then I'll come back upstairs and shower. Can I borrow a blouse and skirt?"
"Of course, whatever you need. And take a shower in my bathroomless for Cara to clean next week."
Later that evening, Miranda sent a text message to Andrea: Working late?
Andrea smiled and quickly typed back: I work my ass off for you.
Miranda chuckled and replied: Don't work too hard. Bring dinner with the Book? I'm starving.
Andrea replied: Will do. Chinese? Salad? Sushi?
Miranda replied: Chinese. Crab Rangoon, Cashew Chicken, Pork Fried Rice, Beef & Broccoli w/ Jasmine Rice. Thank you :-*
Andrea smiled and called in an order to Miranda's favorite Chinese take-out place. Within a few minutes, the Book was ready, and she soon found herself at the townhouse, bearing hot, delicious gifts.
They ate and exchanged casual conversation from Andrea's day at the office, but after a while, Miranda grew quiet.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Andrea asked.
"Andrea, what are we doing?" she asked. "I'm fifty years old, divorced with two kids. I have a ridiculously demanding job, and and what are we doing?" Miranda pushed her plate away and began crying.
"Come on," Andrea said, leading her off the barstool and onto the couch. She wrapped her arms around Miranda's shoulders and pulled her close. "Now look, I don't know what we're doing, but it feels good. I enjoy spending time with you, and I'm grateful that I've had this opportunity to see you, not just the bitch who crushes dreams. I like you, and I care about you. I hope we stay friends for a very, very long time."
"Friends?" Miranda said as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
"For once, I need you to not be an editor. Don't worry about the words I'm using. Friends. Lovers. Acquaintances. Whatever you want to call it. I want you in my life forever. I know we've tried the lovers thing a little, but circumstances always prevented anything from really happening."
"Are you saying?"
"What I'm saying is that it doesn't matter to me. It doesn't change how I think of youwhether we've slept together or not. Honestly, I've never had sex with another woman before, so I'm kind of nervous. Of course I think you're beautiful and sexy and I just want to touch you and kiss you everywhere but if you decided to get married to Sir Bartholomew Michael Worthington, I would be okay, and I would still be in your life as your best friend. Hopefully."
"If you let me marry someone named Sir Bartholomew Michael Worthington, we are never talking again," Miranda said, softly punching Andrea in the arm. "And for what it's worth, I've never been with a woman like that, either. But I don't know if I can be just friends. Not without trying at least once."
"What, you don't want to live the next five decades with all this pent-up sexual tension?" Andrea whispered in her ear.
Miranda sat up and straddled her lap. "Andrea Sachs, you are impossible, and I"
Before she could say any more, Andrea pulled her in for a kiss, which quickly turned into an extended make-out session on the couch.
"Miranda," she said, "how about if we tell each other what we want? Like, put your hand here, or do this or that? Maybe we can take turns and learn a little about what each other likes and dislikes. For example, I know you like my breasts."
Miranda's eyes widened. "How"
"I had to use a good deal of makeup remover to scrub the lipstick off my chest last night."
"Oh right, I'm so sorry."
"Don't apologize. I didn't say I didn't enjoy it," Andrea said. She began to unbutton her blouse. "I'll start."
"Let me do that," Miranda said. She unbuttoned and removed the blouse, then reached around to unclasp her bra. "Wait, can I?"
"You don't have to ask me. Just do what feels right."
Miranda nodded and slipped the bra off, pulling Andrea's arms above her head as she trailed kisses from her arm to her chest.
Andrea moaned as Miranda's hands found her nipples. She reached up and untied Miranda's robe, pushing it off her shoulders, gasping when she realized Miranda was naked beneath. Her hands explored the older woman's body carefully, as if she were memorizing every inch.
Miranda unbuttoned Andrea's pantsactually, they were her trousers that Andrea borrowed that morning. She moaned heartily when she realized Andrea was not wearing any underwear. The fact that they were her pants only served to heighten her arousal. "Ohh, Andrea," she moaned, grinding herself against the woman's thigh.
Andrea straightened out her leg, but Miranda reached back and bent it again, cupping her own breasts as she cried out in orgasm. Andrea quickly flipped their position and removed the trousers as she ran her hands over Miranda's body. Her thighs, her hips, her breasts, her neckshe wanted it all. Andrea slowly licked Miranda from her pelvis to her nipple, pausing only for a moment to suck on her perfect breasts.
"Oh god, Andrea, please!" Miranda moaned, bucking off the couch.
"Tell me if this feels good," Andrea said as she placed her hands on Miranda's hips before pressing her lips to the woman's folds. "Mmm," Andrea hummed as she kissed and licked her juices.
"Don't stop Andrea Fuck don't stop," she cried out.
Andrea pressed her thumb against the woman's clit and another orgasm raged through her body. Seeing Miranda's exhaustion, she quickly frigged herself and collapsed next to her on the couch.
"So," Miranda said after some time, "I'm glad we tried that, but I'm exhausted."
"Are you okay?" Andrea asked, her voice laced with concern.
"Yes, just tired. I'm old, remember?"
Andrea smiled. "You're perfect," she said.
"Did you ever schedule that appointment with my doctor?"
"Yeah, sorry. It's on your calendar at work. 7:15 AM on Tuesday. Your morning is clear, so everything should be fine."
"What time is Miranda coming in today?" Nigel asked.
"She had an appointment at 7:15, so we weren't expecting her until at least 9:30," Emily said.
"Well, it's nearly eleven-thirty. Six, did she text you?"
"Huh? What?" Andrea said. The mere mention of Miranda's name sent a very not-safe-for-work shiver down her spine. After spending the weekend in Miranda's bed, she didn't imagine it would be this difficult to spend ten hours a day around the woman.
"Oh, cut it out. We all know that you two are buddy-buddy. She talks to you. Any idea what's taking her so long? I need a decision on Testino," Nigel said.
"Uh, no. I haven't"
"Nevermind," Emily said. "Roy just texted that she's on her way up. Really, Andrea, do try and make yourself useful around here!"
"Cut it out, she'll be here in a minute," Nigel said, leaning against Andrea's desk, safely out of firing range.
Miranda approached the outer office slowly, much slower than her usual pace. She stopped between the desks, and Emily helped her out of her coat. And she just stood there.
"Miranda?" Andrea said with concern. She was suddenly terrified that she had received terrible news from the doctor.
Miranda turned and looked at her with tears in her eyes.
"Jesus, Miranda, you're scaring us. Did everything go okay at the doctor?" Nigel asked.
Miranda bit her lip and nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks. "I'm fine. I'm more than fine, actually," she said. She brought her hand up to cover her mouth as she started laughing hysterically.
"Miranda, what is it?" Andrea asked.
She shook her head in disbelief. "I'm pregnant."
For the second time in one week, the three employees exchanged expressions of shock.
"P-pregnant? A baby?" Andrea asked.
Miranda leaned against Emily's desk and nodded, "I was shocked, too. Still am, clearly."
"Here, come sit, Miranda," Nigel said, leading her to the sofa in her office. "Andrea will bring you some decaffeinated coffee," he said, turning and glaring at her.
"Right. Of course," she said, jumping into action and sprinting out the door.
"Nigel, really. I'm okay," Miranda said. "We have a lot of work to do before August. At least it explains why I've been so tired lately. I'm going to try and leave by 6 PM."
Nigel nodded and stepped away.
"Nigel, I know you're still upset about James Holt, but trust me. Think of thisnow, you'll have the opportunity to do several issues on your own."
"Nigel, I need you for the next six months. If you can't give me that, let me know right now."
"I can, and I will. Six months and more. You're one of my most longtime best friends, and you've been my mentor for the past eighteen years," he said. "Whatever you need."
Miranda leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, then pulled him in for a hug.
"Since when do you hug?" Nigel asked.
"Oh, uh, um," Miranda stammered. "I guess it's just those hormones, huh?" she said with a shrug. But there was no denying that Nigel saw the blush creeping up her face.
"Who's the father?" he whispered in her ear.
"Nigel, I would have expected a bit more tact from you. That is none of your business."
Andrea ran in, out of breath, with a fresh decaf latte and quietly set it on Miranda's desk.
"Miranda, when you have a second, I need an answer on Testino," Nigel said.
"Oh, I saw that note in the car. Let's go with the plum-to-orchid transition, don't you think?"
"That was the one I was thinking, too. I'll let them know," he said, marching back to his office.
"Andrea? Come back here and close the door," Miranda said.
She did, and she walked closer, her eyes fixed on the ground.
"Andrea, is something wrong?"
"No," she said, shaking her head. During the few minutes she spent getting coffee, she realized two things: first, that Miranda's relationship with Stephen apparently wasn't over, and second, that the bliss following this past weekend would be very short-lived. "Was there something you needed?" she asked.
"Have a seat," Miranda said. She walked around her desk and sat opposite her. "Andrea, darling, you look like you've been crying." Miranda reached out for her hands. "What happened?"
"It's nothing, please. I have a lot of work to do today," she said. The last thing she wanted to do was complain. She should have known Miranda would tire of her and find something else in a heartbeat.
"Okay, I won't push you," Miranda said, "but, will you at least talk to me tonight?"
Andrea's eyes widened.
"You are still coming over, right? The girls were disappointed to know they missed you this weekend."
"Sure. I'll be over when the Book is ready."
"Actually, that reminds me. I'm going to talk to Roger. Donna was telling me about this new software where I would be able to view a digital edition and actually make notes with a stylus or put virtual post-its. I'm going to see if he can set that upit should save everyone some time, and hopefully we can get that setup today."
"Oh, okay. So, 6:30 then?"
"Yes, Andrea, that's fine," Miranda said, gently kissing her hand. "Do you want to see the sonogram?" Miranda asked. "I'm already eleven weeks."
Andrea shook her head as she did the math. At least it felt a little better knowing that this happened before Paris, and may have well been over before Miranda showed interest in her. "Maybe later," she said. She was clearly spending too much time thinking about this. The sooner she found a new job, the better.
Miranda sat back and pulled her hands away. "Andrea, darling, this isn't like you," she said. "Talk to me."
"Later. Tonight, okay?"
"Okay," Miranda said. "Is there something else going onyou, your family? You would tell me if there was anything serious, right?"
Andrea flashed a fake smile. "Everything's fine. Don't worry. Stress isn't good for the baby," she added.
When Andrea stood, Miranda quickly followed her, firmly taking her wrist and dragging her into the corner of her office that was out of view of the doorway. Miranda practically pinned her against the wall. "Andrea, this is one of the happiest moments of my life and you're throwing a tantrum. Tell me what is going on," she said.
Andrea started to cry. "I'm sorry," she said, covering her face with her free hand. "I'm not trying to spoil your moment. I justthings were going good, you know? With the divorce, I thought we couldand I was willing to waitI justI'm sorry. I'm happy for you, really. Congratulations."
"Is this jealousy rearing its ugly head, Andrea? Are you concerned that you will have to share my attention? Honestly, I expect that from Cassidy but I would have never thought you"
"No! Not that. I justthings were good with us. It felt like we were going somewhere, didn't it?" Andrea said.
"Yes. And it is going somewhere unless something has changed in the past two days? Please don't tell me that you want nothing to do with a pregnant fifty-year-old."
Andrea's eyes widened. "Butwhat about Stephen?"
"What on earth does he have to do with anything?"
"Isn'tisn't he the"
"The father? No," Miranda said with a chuckle. "Most definitely not."
"Andrea, you know perfectly well how babies are made. I have no intention of disclosing the father. I'm sorry, but that is all I will say about it," she said. "Now, if you will get over your imaginary jealousy, will you enjoy this moment with me?"
Andrea smiled and hugged Miranda tight. "I'm sorry, yes, yes. Show me the sonogram," she said. "And wait, I thought you had an appointment with your regular doctor."
"I did," Miranda said. She smiled and walked back to her desk, fishing the photo out of her bag. "She sent me across the street to my obstetrician, which is why I was gone so long. Here," she said, smiling proudly as she handed the small paper to her.
"Miranda, this says 'Twin A' and 'Twin B'is this?"
"Yes. It's twins."
Andrea softly brushed her finger across the tiny photograph. Turning to Miranda, she cupped her cheek and kissed her slowly.
Miranda pulled away with a glassy look in her eye. "Andrea, I"
A knock at the door startled both women. Andrea quickly wiped the smudged lipstick off Miranda's lip, then took a few tissues and blew her nose, running out of the office and making it look like Miranda made her cry.
"Miranda, I have Mario on the phone," Emily said.
"Put him through," she said, returning to her desk.
That evening, as Andrea was bringing the dry-cleaning to Miranda's, she tried to picture what a life with Miranda would actually look like. A knock on the town car's window brought her out of her daydream.
"Andy, Mom wants to know why you're still out here," Caroline said.
Andrea smiled and opened the door. "I was daydreaming, sorry."
Caroline shrugged and marched back up the stairs, Andrea close on her heels.
"Sweetie, where's your mom?" she asked after hanging up the dry-cleaning.
"Up in her office, come on," Caroline said, grabbing her hand and tugging her upstairs.
"Oh, there you are," Miranda said, standing from her desk. "Girls, why don't you go finish your homework in your rooms. Mommy needs to talk to Andrea for a little bit."
The girls grabbed their backpacks and headed upstairs while Miranda joined Andrea on the recently vacated sofa. "Where were we this afternoon? Before Emily interrupted us?" she asked, reaching up and brushing Andrea's cheek.
Andrea smiled and leaned into her palm. "I think you were telling me how happy you were," she said.
"Ah, yes, and your jealousy was showing," she said with a smirk.
"I know, I'm sorry. Let's change the subject," she said. "How are you doing?"
Miranda leaned back against the sofa and crossed her arms across her abdomen. "I'm feeling great," she said. "It explains why I've been so tired lately, and, well now," she shook her head, "I feel really good. And I'm really excited for this pregnancy."
Andrea smiled. "What did the doctor say? Did she do a full exam?"
"Well, she was a little less thrilled because of my age and my difficulties with the girls, but she said everything seemed perfect. Both embryos measured 1.5" crown-to-rump."
"What happened with the girls?"
"I wasn't ready. James and I were practically separated. It was an exciting but very busy time for the magazine. I basically tried to ignore the fact that I was pregnant until my doctor admitted me to the hospital for mandatory bed rest. I just wasn't ready. Every one of my symptoms was simply an inconvenience," she said. "But once those tiny, tiny babies were born, I regretted not taking better care of myself."
"Were they premature?"
"Yes. At thirty-one weeks, and they were very small, just over four pounds. Cassidy was my 'twin B' and it was something about the way she was twisting around. She had wrapped the cord around herself and she was in distress. They did an emergency cesarean, and the girls were on respirators and feeding tubes for weeks. I couldn't even hold them. They were in the hospital for the entire length of my maternity leave. I can't help but think if I did it differently "
"Don't think like that, Miranda. They turned out perfect," Andrea said.
"I know. I know. Dr. Assaf reminded me of all the risks I face with this pregnancy, and I think she was even trying to ask if I wanted to terminate it, since I still have a few weeks." She paused for a few minutes. "Do you think I'm being selfish? Putting my own life at risk for this?"
"You'reyou're asking me?"
"I don't know. I think you have every right to want these babies, and I want you to know I'll support you, whichever you decide."
Miranda leaned her head on Andrea's shoulder and grasped her hand. "I appreciate that, but honestly, I don't see a decision. There are two healthy babies in here," she said, cupping her abdomen, "and I would do anything for my children, you know that."
"I do. And I think that doctors sometimes scare us with all the possible complications just to cover their asses."
"Andrea, have I ever told you how smart you are?" Miranda said.
"Actually," Andrea laughed, "you did."
Miranda's eyes widened as she remembered. "Darling, I should never have said that. You are not 'fat'you're perfect. In a few months, though, I think I'll be falling into that category."
"You? Never. Maybe more voluptuous, sexier, and luscious, but never fat."
Miranda chuckled and pulled Andrea's chin closer. "I have a feeling you're going to need to keep telling me that for the next few months," she whispered before closing the distance between their lips.
The following week, Miranda's excitement over the pregnancy had died down some, but there was still an anxious buzz in the air. Emily was busy ensuring Miranda's diet included enough calcium, vitamin D, and folic acid, while Andrea continued to work on her writing samples and network during her down time.
The book was now being delivered electronically to Miranda's iPad every evening, and the dry-cleaning was delivered every Monday afternoon. Miranda was working from home on Fridays and spending Wednesday mornings with her yoga instructor. She had also reached out privately to several designers about a Spring/Summer maternity collection.
On Friday morning, February 14th, there was a knock at Miranda's front door.
"Delivery for Ms. Priestly," the man said. But Miranda couldn't see him, because he was hiding behind eight dozen roses.
"Just put them in here," Miranda said, showing him to the dining room table. She signed for the delivery and closed the door. Looking through them, they were arranged into four pre-cut bouquets: yellow roses from Cassidy, pink roses from Caroline, a beautiful mix of multi-colored roses from Andrea, and white roses from 'A & B'.
The gesture brought tears to Miranda's eyes, and she went straight to the phone to call Andrea.
Miranda sniffled. "Andrea, thank you," she said. "They're beautiful."
"I'm glad you like them. The girls helped me pick out the colors. I've missed you lately."
"Same here," she said. "I wish we had more time when the girls aren't home, but as it is, I only see them for about four hours a day during the week. And it takes everything out of me to stay awake with my precious girls "
"Wait, are you crying?"
"Yes. Andrea, you warm my heart to no end. You didn't say anything to the girls about the babies, did you?"
"No, no no. That's not my place. They think the white ones are from Patricia."
"Okay. I want to wait another month before I say anything. Darling, come over and work from the townhouse for the rest of the day," she said.
"I'm having lunch with Maureen Dowd at 12:30, but I can come afterwards," Andrea said.
"Oh right, I forgot. That's fine. Don't rush your lunch, I'll be here. What are you wearing?"
"Calvin Klein pre-fall charcoal pencil skirt, emerald silk Theory blouse, and Tory Burch black flats. I might add a skinny leopard belt."
"Excellent choices. Go with the Burberry belt instead of the one from J. Crew," Miranda said. "Maureen would be put off by anything bordering on outrageous. Simple accessories?"
"Gold Kors bracelet watch, nude nails, my grandmother's claddagh ring, and my Me&Ro pendant necklace."
"I can't wait to see you. Darling, I'm so proud of you. I don't know if I've said this before, but I feel like you've grown so much since you first started. You are quite an exceptional young woman."
"Thank you, Miranda. That means a lot coming from you. But I've got to go run some errands before lunch. Need anything?"
"No, I'll see you this afternoon."
Around 2:30 PM, Andrea arrived at the townhouse, her Kate Spade messenger bag nearly busting at the seams.
"Andrea?" Miranda called from the study.
"Yes, it's just me."
"How did lunch go?"
"It was great. I think she really liked me. She introduced me to Bill, her editor who was also at Pastis. Are you in the study?" Andrea asked as she made her way up the stairs.
"No, I'm in bed."
Andrea rushed into the bedroom, and was relieved to see Miranda propped up on some pillows, playing with her iPad. "I brought you some stuff," she said, tossing her bag on the bed.
"First let me look at you," Miranda said. "Turn around."
Andrea pirouetted next to the bed for Miranda.
"Come here," Miranda said, tugging her to the bed. She snaked her hand behind Andrea's head and unpinned her hair before kissing her. As their lips were locked, Miranda's hands found the other woman's hips and nudged her towards the bed. Without breaking their kiss, Miranda maneuvered Andrea onto her back. "I might not be able to do this much longer," she said, "and darling, I want to taste you so badly."
Andrea's eyes widened and she shuddered.
"First, let me take these clothes off you. You look too much like a naughty secretary, and, well," Miranda chuckled, "that's a bit too close to the truth right now."
Andrea moaned as Miranda cupped her breast through her bra. "I'm only " she panted, "naughty for you."
Miranda made quick work of her clothing and slipped out of her own.
Andrea couldn't help but notice how tightly those drawstring lounge pants had been pulled against her abdomen. When she kneeled, Andrea noticed the growing bump, though she didn't have a chance to say anything once Miranda's fingers began pumping in and out of her dripping folds. "Oh god, Miranda!" she cried.
Miranda slithered down her body until she was laying on her stomach, between the woman's legs. She held her folds open with one hand and began anxiously lapping at her juices with her tongue, moaning and humming in delight.
Andrea was assaulted with the dual sensations of Miranda's lips and the arousing sounds she was making. She reached down and threaded her fingers through Miranda's hair, which only elicited a louder moan from the silver-haired woman.
As Miranda's licking grew more desperate, Andrea felt her nose bumping into her clitoris, and she began thrusting her hips wildly, searching for contact.
"Tell me what you need," Miranda purred.
"My clit, oh god, please!"
Miranda repositioned herself, throwing Andrea's legs over her shoulders. With her right hand, she reached down to rub herself while her lips and tongue attacked Andrea's engorged clitoris. She sucked it out of its hood, and softly bit down until she felt Andrea's body quaking in orgasm.
She pulled herself up, running her hands along the young woman's body until she reached her shoulders. She straddled her lap and kissed her as her muscles erupted in pleasure. Miranda peeled the bunched-up sheets from Andrea's hand and placed her hands onto her own hips. "Touch me," Miranda whispered as she licked the shell of Andrea's ear.
Andrea ran her hands up and down Miranda's back, then reached around and palmed her breasts.
"Ohhh, no, no," she gasped, "not there. They're too sensitive."
"Sorry," Andrea whispered, pressing several light kisses to her neck. She moved her hands away, cupping her buttocks, and then the back of her thighs.
"Andrea, I'm so close," Miranda said, panting in her ear.
She slipped her hand between their bodies and applied pressure at Miranda's juncture. After a few quick thrusts, Miranda was choking out her orgasm into Andrea's neck.
They laid like that for several minutes, Miranda sprawled out on top of Andreasweaty, sticky, and thoroughly satisfied.
Andrea gently nudged Miranda off, and turned to her side, entwining their legs. "Is this okay for the babies?" she asked as she pressed her palm to Miranda's belly.
"Mm-hmm. The doctor said as long as I didn't feel any pain, it was fine. I remember with the girls, once I popped, it was impossible to lay on my stomach," Miranda said. She turned onto her back and pulled Andrea on top of her, locking her feet behind Andrea's thighs. "It was also very uncomfortable for anyone to be on me like this."
Andrea tried to push her weight off Miranda, but the woman tugged her close.
"No. It's still okay," Miranda said. "I love feeling you like this. Your weight on me, like you're consuming me," she said. "Happy Valentine's Day, Andrea."
Andrea nodded and kissed Miranda before laying her head on her shoulder. They woke to the sound of Andrea's phone, and out of habit, Andrea jumped and ran for it.
Miranda chuckled. "I hope you know I'm the only one I expect you to do that for."
Andrea shrugged. "I'm technically still working this afternoon," she said, answering the call.
"Andrea! Where have you been?!"
"Hey Em, I had a lunch meeting, then Miranda asked me to deliver a few items to the townhouse."
"Bloody hell! Why didn't you tell anyone? Are you there? Miranda's not answering her phone."
"Emily, calm down. Yes, I'm here, and yes, Miranda is here, too. She's reviewing some of the advanced tablet functionality," Andrea said with a shrug.
Miranda smiled and gave Andrea a thumbs-up.
Andrea covered the mouthpiece on the receiver. "Miranda, Nigel wants to know if you saw the email from Testino's people."
"Give me that," Miranda said, taking the phone from Andrea.
"Emily, why is it so difficult for you to manage a simple task. I asked not to be disturbed this afternoon, so no, I did not see the email from Testino's people, nor do I have any intention of reading an email from anyone other than Mario himself. That's all," she said, ending the call.
Andrea laughed as Miranda put the phone on the nightstand. "Shower?"
Miranda nodded and followed Andrea into the bathroom. She was pleasantly surprised when Andrea took the initiative and began to wash her body before doing her own, although Miranda couldn't help but moan in pleasure as the young woman's delicate hands made their way across her sensitive skin.
"Andrea," she moaned. "How do you do this to me?" She rolled her head along her neck.
Without saying a word, Andrea shampooed and conditioned her hair, and rinsed it out. She did the same to her own, then pulled Miranda under the spray again as she softly cupped her breasts and trailed kisses down her neck. She pressed Miranda back against the marble tile, and the woman lifted her leg around Andrea's hip. Andrea reached down and began thrusting two fingers inside her until she felt the woman's muscles gripping her tightly. When she recovered, Andrea again washed between her legs, then led her out of the shower, wrapping her tightly in a towel.
Once they dried off, Miranda sat on the edge of her bed while Andrea changed into leggings and a tee. "Andrea," she said as she wrapped her arms around her abdomen, "I don't have anything to wear."
"Well, I'm all for you wearing nothing at all," she said with a wink, "but don't worry. I brought something for you," she said. "Here," she said, picking up her messenger bag from the floor. She pulled out two pairs of stretchy pants, a skirt, two wrap blouses, and a jar of cream.
"Until the designers finish their collections for you," Andrea said, handing her a pair of pants. "These have a looser waistband, and those skirts should fasten below your belly.
Miranda picked up the items and examined them. "Where did you find these?"
"Don't hate me," Andrea said. "Target."
Miranda glared at her, but her expression wavered and a smile formed on her lips. "Thank you," she said.
Andrea smiled. "I'm going to dry my hair," she said, heading back into the bathroom. When she returned, Miranda was dressed, sitting indian-style on the bed, holding the jar of cream in her hands.
"Do you think I look too old?" Miranda asked.
"What? No. Not at all," Andrea quickly answered.
"Why did you bring this?" she asked, holding the jar. "It's anti-aging, wrinkle cream."
"I read it's really good at preventing stretch marks," Andrea said. "I'm sorry. I snagged the sample from the beauty department. It's made with platinum, and there's something about the way it bonds with human skin, it keeps it toned and moisturized, even with changes in humidity."
"Yes, I've heard about this," she said. "I'm already seeing some stretch marks on my breasts," Miranda said. "Is this your way of saying you want them gone?"
"Oh my god, don't even start," Andrea said, taking the jar from her hands. "This is my way of saying I want to slather thousand-dollar cream all over your gorgeous, sexy body," Andrea said.
Miranda grinned and lifted off her shirt, then unclasped her bra. "Well, I suggest you start here," she said, leaning back against the pillows. "This area is in dire need of your attention."
Sunday evening, Andrea was watching the news when her phone rang.
"Hi Miranda," she said.
"Andrea, how are you?"
"Good. Is everything okay?"
"Yes. I have a doctor's appointment on Friday," Miranda said. "I was wondering if you'd like to join me."
"Yes. I mean, it's nothing special. It's still too early to tell the babies' sex or anything, but it's the thirteen-week mark, and the doctor wants to monitor their growth closely," she said.
"Yes, I'd love to come, Miranda."
"I don't want you to feel obligated or anything, I just thought"
"Miranda, listen to me," Andrea said. "I want to be there. I am so grateful that you're sharing this journey with me. I will be there for all of it if you'll have me."
Miranda sniffled. "Andrea, I don't know what to say."
"Don't say anything," she said, wishing she was there to hug Miranda. "Don't say anything at all."
"Miranda, please calm down," Andrea said as they sat, waiting in a room at Dr. Assaf's office.
Miranda stopped bouncing her leg.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
She nodded. "I've always been like this," she said, rolling her eyes as she began playing with her hands in her lap.
"Look at me," Andrea said. She took Miranda's face in her hands and kissed her for much longer than was appropriate in a public setting. "Calm down. Okay?"
Miranda smiled and took a deep breath. "Okay."
"Miranda, how are you today?" the nurse asked. "Come on back."
They followed her back into a large exam room, where Miranda climbed onto the table and offered her left arm for some blood samples and her right arm for blood pressure.
"Miranda, your blood pressure is very high," the nurse said.
Andrea gently tapped Miranda on the shoulder and raised her eyebrow.
Miranda sighed. "It happens at doctor visits," she said.
"Okay, well we will re-check your pressure before you leave."
Miranda nodded, and Dr. Assaf walked in.
"Miranda, how have you been doing?"
"Great. I mean, I really feel wonderful," she said.
"Nutrition, rest everything is good?"
"For the most part, I'm adhering to the diet your nutritionist gave me," Miranda said.
"Good. And you're resting?"
"I'm working no later than six, and going to bed when my nine-year-old daughters do. I'm working from my sofa on Fridays, and working on light exercises with my yoga instructor weekly."
"Okay, but you may need more rest. I know you have a demanding career, but please listen to your body. If you feel like taking a nap in the middle of the day, do it. And if your nap turns into eight hours of sleep, that's okay."
Miranda looked over at Andrea. "Hmm, this should be fun," she said. "Yes, doctor. I will be sure that I don't push myself. I remember how difficult it becomes to sleep later on."
"Excellent," she said as she gently applied pressure to the side of Miranda's belly. "What about the morning sickness?"
"It's gone. I don't need the medication anymore."
"Good, good. So you're officially at thirteen weeks and four days today. We'll do your next appointment at sixteen. Now, let's have a look," she said, pulling the ultrasound machine over.
"Have you felt any quickening?" she asked.
"Yes," Miranda said with a smile, "I just noticed it a few days ago."
"Wonderful. So, by now, the babies have fully functioning kidney systems. They each weigh just under one ounce, and in a few days, their spinal columns will be visible," Dr. Assaf said. "Oh look, this one is sucking its thumb," she said, pointing to the screen.
Miranda grinned and dabbed at the tears in her eyes.
"Everything looks fine today, Miranda. I'd like to see you every two weeks to monitor the babies' growth and your health as well. Do you have any questions for me?"
Miranda softly chewed on her lower lip. Andrea reached up and took her hand. "When willI mean, when can" Miranda sighed. "When will we know if they're going to make it?"
"Miranda, right now you're three days short of the second trimester. With each day, the babies' chances of survival increase. While we like to see all pregnancies go to term, that's not always an option with multiples or older mothers. I want you to know that we will do whatever is necessary to keep you healthy and to help you bring two beautiful, healthy children into this world."
Miranda nodded and squeezed Andrea's hand. "So I should plan on forty weeks?"
"Let's aim for thirty-six. Taking care of yourself can really help, Miranda. On your next visit, we can talk more about the different screening tests we can perform, including an amniocentesis. The NT reading from today is showing approximately 1.1 for each baby, which is perfect, Miranda. Relax, and spend the next four weeks taking care of yourself. We'll do the full anatomy scan, and discuss a level 2 ultrasound at your eighteen-week appointment, okay?"
Miranda thanked the doctor, and soon she and Andrea were back in the town car. Leaning forward, she raised the privacy glass. "Would you like to come over this weekend?" Miranda asked.
"Come over for lunch or something?"
"Sure, but I was thinking more so for the entire weekend."
"But, aren't the girls home this weekend?"
"Yes, but they have a lot of homework andI just kind of want you there when I tell them about the babies."
Andrea smiled. "Yes, of course," she said, kissing her softly on the cheek.
As they rode in silence the rest of the way, Andrea couldn't help but feel a tiny pang of disappointment. As much as she loved Miranda and loved those unborn children as her own, they still weren't. Miranda had been feeling the babies kicking and hadn't said anything for days.
"Oh, sorry. What?"
"I asked if you needed to get anything from the office," she said.
"Yeah, actually. There's some stuff I have to do. Did you want me to come by tonight or tomorrow?"
"Whenever," Miranda said. "I'll probably tell the girls as soon as they get home from school."
Andrea nodded. The car came to a stop at Runway, and she leaned over, kissing Miranda on the cheek before stepping out and heading back up to work.
"Hey Andy, this letter came for you earlier," Serena said. "I signed for itit looked pretty important."
"Thanks," she said, quickly opening the envelope.
"Well? What is it?" Emily asked.
Andrea's eyes quickly scanned the page. "Umm, a job offer. New York Times."
"Wow, that's good," Serena said.
"You're leaving? Now? Before the baby comes?!" Emily asked.
Andrea smiled and tucked the letter away so she could show Miranda later. "Maybe, it depends. I've been talking to a few different publications, but this one is actually for another assistant position, which I really don't want."
"Oh but come on, that job will be a piece of cake compared to what you're doing now," Emily said.
"Yeah, and I get bored easily. I want to write, so I guess that means you're stuck with me for a while longer."
"Andrea, I never thought I'd say this, but I will miss you. You have this calming effect on Miranda as if" Emily's eyes widened and her eyes darted between Serena's and Andrea's. "Are you no. You can't be can you?"
"What??" Serena asked.
"Emily, so help me god, do not say another word!" Andrea said. Once Emily's lips were firmly shut, she continued. "I am neither confirming nor denying that. Miranda and I are sort of friends. She's been my mentor in finding a new job, so I see her outside of work sometimes."
Serena's eyes widened. "Wait, you meanyou and Miranda?"
Andrea rolled her eyes and buried her head on her desk. This was going to be a very long afternoon.
At 6:30PM, Andrea climbed the steps to the townhouse, and before she could fish the key from her bag, Miranda opened the door.
"Hi, how was the rest of your day?" Andrea asked, setting her bags in the foyer. She had Roy stop at her apartment on their way so she could get some clothes and toiletries.
"I took a nap," Miranda said, "and I slept for four hours! Honestly, I would probably still be sleeping if the girls hadn't come home."
"Well, that's good, though. Dr. Assaf would be very happy to hear that. Did you tell them?"
"I did. They weren't as excited as I had hoped, but Caroline is eager to make sure I'm okay. Cassidy's eyes were glued to my belly."
"Is this what you were wearing?" Andrea asked, gesturing at the lycra-blend Lululemon long sleeve tee.
"Yes. It's comfortable. I'll still try to conceal it for a while at work, but the tabloids will figure this out sooner or later," she said. "Would you mind just chatting with the girls for a bit? I want to make sure they're okay with everything. They started asking questions about the father, and I don't think they were satisfied with my answer."
"Of course. What did you tell them?"
"That the baby doesn't have a father."
Andrea fought the urge to roll her eyes. "They're too old to fall for that, but maybe a little too young for the truth."
"And what, exactly do you think 'the truth' even is?" Miranda asked.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that."
"How did you mean it, then? Are you trying to tell me what I should tell my children?"
"No. I'm sorry. I'll go up and check on them. Are they in their rooms?"
"Yes, watching a movie, I think."
"I'll go say hello," Andrea said. "Oh, and remind meI have two things to tell you," she called behind her.
Upstairs, she softly knocked on the girls' room. "Hey Cass. Hey Caro," she said.
"Hey Andy. Why are you here tonight? It's Friday," Cassidy said.
"I know. I just thought I'd spend some time with you and your mom this weekend. Is that okay?"
"Cool. What are you watching?"
"Snow White," Caroline said. "Cass doesn't remember ever seeing it, but I know we've watched it, like, a hundred times."
"Can I stay and watch a little? I haven't seen it since I was a little girl," Andrea said.
"Sure," Cassidy said, moving over so she could fit on the bed with them. "Andy, is Mom okay?"
"Yes, sweetie, she's fine. Why?" Andrea said.
"She told us about how she's having a baby."
"And she said it makes her tired and hungry and whiney."
"Your mother said that? That she's 'whiney?'" Andrea asked.
"Yeah," Caroline giggled. "I know."
They sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the movie. When it finished, Andrea looked down and noticed Cassidy staring off into space. "Cass, whatcha thinking about?"
"Mom says 'we' now to mean you and her," she said.
Andrea thought about that for a minute. "Yeah, I guess she does sometimes. It's just a pronoun."
"No, Cass is right. She says that all the time now. Before it used to be 'Mommy and Andrea' or something," she said mimicking her.
"She must see me as a close friend now or something," Andrea said, with a shrug.
"Do you love her?" Caroline asked.
Andrea thought before answering. She didn't want to disclose anything Miranda wasn't ready to. "Of course, your mom is one of my best friends, and I care about her a lot," she said, "just like I care about you two a lot."
"Andy?" Cassidy asked. "Are you going to leave us when you aren't working for Mom anymore?"
"No way," Andrea said. "In fact, you'll probably see me around even more because your mom and I will have so much to catch up on, and I'll definitely want to see your new brother or sister," Andrea said, careful not to mention that Miranda was expecting twins. "Are you okay with that?"
Both girls nodded eagerly, and Andrea wrapped them in a giant hug.
"Your mom loves you both so much, do you know that?" Andrea said.
"Andy, do you love us?"
"Yes, very much so. I don't have any kids or nieces or nephews or anything, so I'm really glad to have you two in my life," she said.
"What about when the baby is born?" Cassidy asked. "Will you be its big sister, too, or, like, will it call you 'Mom?'"
Andrea shrugged. "I hope that someday I can be like the baby's second mom, but that's for your mom to decide."
"Hi, did I miss anything?" Miranda said from the doorway. Her eyes were sparkling as she looked at Andrea.
"Mom, are you feeling okay?" Caroline asked.
"Yes, sweetheart, I'm fine. I hope Andrea kept you company?"
"Okay, girls, I want to talk to you about something," she said as she reached for Andrea's hand.
"So you know how, when a mommy and a daddy love each other, they can have a baby, right? Well, this baby," she said, putting her hands on her belly, "doesn't have a daddy like you do. This baby just has a mommy, okay?"
"So, Stephen's not their dad, right?" Caroline asked.
"No," she said. Miranda held her breath, hoping this would not become a game of twenty questions.
"Well," Andrea said. "I'm hungry. How about you?"
Both girls eagerly nodded.
Miranda smiled. "Can you set the table for the four of us? Cara made some chicken and pasta thing today, so I just have to reheat it. I'll be down in a minute," Miranda said.
Once the girls left, Andrea leaned over and kissed Miranda on the lips.
"What was that for?"
"To apologize for what I said when we were in the foyer," Andrea said. "How long were you standing there?"
"Mmm," she hummed, hugging Andrea tightly, "long enough to hear that I'm your best friend and that you care about me a lot."
Andrea blushed, and Miranda took her hand, entwining their fingers. "I didn't know what to tell them. I didn't know if you were ready to explain "
"Would you have answered that question differently if I asked? If the girls weren't around?" Miranda asked as she placed Andrea's hand on her belly.
"Yes," Andrea said. Her voice had become shaky.
"How would you have answered it?" she asked.
"Yes," she repeated. "I would have said 'yes.'"
Miranda's eyes lit up and she pulled Andrea into a deep kiss. As they pulled apart, she took both of Andrea's hands and placed them on her belly. "I want you in their life so badly, Andrea."
Tears fell from Andrea's eyes as she sat there, holding Miranda. At that moment, she couldn't imagine spending the rest of her life any other way.
"Mom! Andy! Are you coming?" Cassidy shouted from the kitchen.
"We'll be down in a minute, sweetie. Can you pour the milk?" Miranda called back down.
Andrea stood and started making her way to the stairs when Miranda took her hand and stopped her. "Darling, I'm worried," she said.
"You just saw the doctor and everything has been going great so far, Miranda. The girls seem to be happy about new siblings, and "
"No, I'm worried about you."
"Me? Why are you worrying about me?"
"One of these days you're going to get a job offer, and it will be good for you, but I can't bear thinking of letting you go. That's probably going to happen well before August, and then "
"And then, when I accept an offer and leave Runway, I'll move in here," Andrea said.
Miranda's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Well, I mean, if you want me to. Sorry, I kind of just invited myself."
"Yes. I want you to. Oh, Andrea," she said, kissing her.
"I told you I'm here for it all. And then some."
"Andrea, II love you," Miranda said as she traced Andrea's lips with her fingertip.
Andrea smiled and kissed Miranda on the bridge of her nose. "And I love you, Miranda. Let's go downstairs."
As they were walking the two fights of stairs down to the kitchen, Miranda asked, "Oh, what were those two things you were going to tell me about?"
Andrea froze. "Um, I probably shouldn't tell you right now."
"Oh no, you don't get to do this to me."
She sighed. "I got a job offer from The New York Times. But I'm not going to take it. It's an editorial assistant position, although they call it 'Assistant Editor,'" she said.
"Ahh, one of those 'Assistant to the Editor' positions," Miranda said as they took their seats at the table. To her surprise, the girls had already reheated the chicken dish. "We'll talk more later."
"Mom, when do you leave for Connecticut?" Caroline asked.
"And we'll be at dad's?"
"Yes. I will be returning Tuesday morning, so you'll spend Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night with him," Miranda said.
"I almost forgot about that," Andrea said. "This is the Lauren shoot, right?"
"Yes. The shoot is Sunday/Monday, but right after Paris, Nigel asked me to spend a few extra days there with him." At Andrea's raised eyebrows, she offered further explanation. "It's only two hours away. We could easily drive back and forth, but, well, Nigel grew up there. His brother lives in Hartford, and I think he is hoping to visit."
"Oh, nice," Andrea said.
After dinner, they all curled up on the couch to watch TV for a few hours before going to bed.
"Mom, is Andy sleeping over?" Caroline asked.
"Yes, baby, she is."
"Where is she going to sleep?" Cassidy asked.
"I was thinking she could sleep in my room. That way, no one is sleeping alone," she said without missing a beat.
"Makes sense," Caroline said.
"Okay, girls, I really need to get some rest. Why don't you finish watching this upstairs?"
The girls agreed and headed up to their room. Miranda turned out all the lights, grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge, and made her way upstairs to her room. Andrea went upstairs with the girls, and Miranda smiled when she saw that the young woman had turned down the bed and started drawing a bath for her. Miranda shut and locked her bedroom door before meeting Andrea in the bathroom.
"I thought a bath might be nice," she said with a shrug. "It's not very hot, but I was thinking of adding a drop of sandalwood oil if you'd like."
"That would be perfect," Miranda said as she began to undress. "You're not upset about Connecticut, are you?" she asked as she climbed into the giant claw-foot tub.
"No, no. I was just surprised, I guess," Andrea said. She squirted three drops of almond oil, then one drop of the sandalwood oil into her hand, rubbed them together, then swirled them around in the water.
"So, what else were you going to tell me besides the job offer?" she asked, closing her eyes and leaning back against the tub. She wrapped one arm tightly across her breasts and traced her swelling abdomen with the other.
Andrea took a deep breath. "At work today, Emily and Serena figured out that we're, uh, seeing each other."
Miranda's eyes opened wide. "And?"
"And that's it. I told them they couldn't say anything. I think they get it, but still."
"So you confirmed?"
"No. I explicitly told them I was neither confirming nor denying."
"Which is basically the same as telling everyone!"
"I'm going to get ready for bed," Andrea said quietly, walking out of the bathroom and shutting the door.
She quickly changed into the boxers and tank top she brought, then sat indian-style on the far side of the bed as she tried to convince herself that Miranda was not, in fact, trying to hide their relationship. More than anything, she wanted to talk to someone, but her options were even more limited now, since she apparently couldn't tell anyone.
She grabbed her iPhone and headed out of the bedroom, disengaging the alarm system as she made her way downstairs and into the kitchen. There was a random armchair in the corner of the kitchen, probably just for decoration, but it was the closest thing to hiding in a corner she could find in Miranda's house.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Andrea dialed her mom's cell phone number.
"Andy, sweetie? Is that you?"
"Well how are you? You haven't been returning our calls or emails. Dad and I were getting worried. Have you spoken to Nate?"
"Look, Mom. I don't want to talk about Nate. We're over."
"But sweetie, he's such a nice boy. He said you were making questionable decisionswhat did he mean?"
"When did you talk to him?"
"Oh, we invited him over for the holidays. We thought you'd come, too."
"No, Mom, that's exactly why I didn't come. And don't let Nate fool you. When we were fighting that week before moving to New York, he slept with four other girls. And I heard he moved to Boston with his new girlfriend."
"Andy, don't make things up. He misses you."
"Mom! I'm not talking about Nate. I don't want him. At all. Ever."
"Okay," her mother said, growing silent. "Why did you call?"
Andrea sighed. "I just needed I shouldn't have called you."
"No! Wait," she said. "Are you okay, sweetie? You sound upset. I promise not to mention Nate. We miss you."
"I'm okay. I'm just a little emotional right now. I've been sort of dating someone, but this person is kind of well-known and so we've been keeping things quiet. Emily and Serena at the office managed to put the pieces together, but when this person found out that I didn't deny our relationship, they freaked. And, I guess I'm just disappointed."
"Oh, sweetie. I should have known you would fall in love with a celebrity. Have you talked to him about it?"
"Not really. We just got into an argument. I feel like I can't even say what I think because I'll risk losing it all."
"Is it worth it, Andy? You sound so upset."
"Yes, Mom. It is worth it, which is why I'm so upset. If it were anyone else, I'd say 'screw you' and leave. But this is different."
"You really are in love with him, aren't you?"
"Yes. With her."
"What? Oh her. Andy, I I had no idea. Are you sure? I mean, I thought you always dated boys."
"I know, I did, too. But she's different. She's worth it, and I'm so scared I'm going to lose her," Andrea said as she started to cry again.
"Andy?" Caroline said, walking into the kitchen.
"Hey Mom, I have to go. Thanks," she said. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Andy. Good luck."
Andy ended the call and turned to the young girl. "What's up?"
"I was coming to get a drink of water. Why were you crying?"
"I was just talking to my mom."
Caroline walked closer and stood in front of Andrea's chair. "Is she okay?"
"Yes, my mom is fine. I just hadn't talked to her in a while."
"I heard you say you were scared about losing someone. Was that Mom?"
"Andy, Mom really likes you," she said.
"I know she does, love bug. Come here," Andrea said, squatting down and hugging Caroline tight.
"So, does this mean you're staying?"
"What?" she asked.
"Mom said you left. Are you staying now?"
"When was this?"
"When I was coming downstairs."
"Did she say anything else?" Andrea asked.
"Just that the baby is making her cry all the time," Caroline said with a shrug. "I'm thirsty."
Andrea quickly poured her a glass of water, then turned the lights out and headed back upstairs. She made sure Caroline made it up to her room, kissed her forehead goodnight, then returned to Miranda's room. The door was still ajar, and she could see Miranda curled up against her pillow. She quietly shut the door and crawled into the other side of the bed.
Miranda opened her eyes and lifted her head. "Andrea," she gasped. "I thought you"
"No. I just needed a minute."
"Like in Paris. I drove you away."
"I'm still here, aren't I? Not the same," Andrea said. "Look, I know you're not going to apologize, but can we at least talk about this? How long do you plan to keep this relationship secret?"
"Andrea, you work for me. I could lose my job."
"I know that. It could have negative repercussions for me, too. But we can't live in a dream world where" she instantly stopped talking, knowing she went too far. "I'm sorry."
Miranda moved closer on the bed and softly brushed Andrea's cheek. "I know, darling, but can we stay in this dream world for just a bit longer?"
"Yes, but we need a plan, Miranda. We can only say 'no comment' for so long."
"Okay," she said, "tomorrow we will decide when and what to say. But tonight, I just want to hold you."
Andrea nodded as Miranda snuggled against her side and quickly drifted off into sleep.
Several hours later, Andrea woke when Miranda got up to use the bathroom. "Everything okay?" she asked when she climbed back into bed.
"Yes," Miranda said, slipping into her spot alongside the young woman. "Here," she said, taking Andrea's hand and pressing her palm to her belly. "Feel that?"
Andrea's eyes lit up. "Was that a kick?"
Miranda nodded. "First time. The girls didn't start kicking until much later," she said.
"I thought you told the doctor you felt it a few days ago?" Andrea asked.
"Quickening. It's a fluttering feeling inside when the babies are too small to kick properly. This one, you can actually feel."
Andrea smiled and kissed Miranda as she settled into her side. "I was meaning to ask youwere you planning on having an amnio?"
"I don't think so. It seems like the risk is too high, and then it's doubled because they'd have to stick each baby."
"True. And everything is looking good with your bloodwork and the scans," Andrea said. "I'm sure it will be fine. Is this a comfortable position to sleep in?" she asked.
"Mm-hmm. I can't sleep on my stomach anymore, and I don't know, I just sleep better on your shoulder."
"We should get you one of those total body pillows," Andrea said.
"Mmm, okay," she said. "Tomorrow."
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