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
Andrea healed well after her surgery, and again began taking daily medication to prevent future growths. Miranda was grateful that it wasn't as serious a medical condition as she feared, and despite wanting to talk to Andrea more about the fact that she knew she could never have children, she was afraid to broach the subject. She knew Andrea was waiting for her to reveal the details of the babies' father, but she also knew the young woman would never ask. It was as if, by holding onto that one private bit of information, she was leaving room for a wisp of insecurity. She wasn't proud of her actions, but she feared her relationship would dissolve if it were any other way.
The twins' first birthday was a small, private affair. For some reason, the press had taken a renewed interest in the young Priestly women, and the last thing she wanted was to have her family's celebration under the scrutiny of the media. As she did several months ago, she included a few candid photos of the girls with their birthday cake and presents next to her Editor's Note, as a sort of reward for those who paid the premium for a quality magazine like Runway.
It was a busy summer with outings and trips and visits and photo shoots and picnics nearly every weekend. Before she knew it, her family was again gathering at her home to share a Thanksgiving feast. While everyone was still sitting in the dining room, Mary Ann joined Miranda in the kitchen and helped her to load the dishwashers.
"I need to ask you something," Miranda said nervously.
"Of course. Is everything alright?" Andrea's mother responded.
"Yes, it's just, I'm having trouble finding a birthday gift for Andrea this year. I want to do something more meaningful. Last year, I planned to have Emily and Serena babysit so Andrea and I could go out for a while, but Andrea wasn't feeling well, so we ordered in and just had a very quiet night. I want to do something special this time."
"Hmm, I see. Knowing Andy, she would appreciate any gift that you put thought intoit doesn't have to be fancy or expensive."
"I know. Cassidy and Caroline are making her cards, and I think they have something planned from the babies, too. I'm just at a loss."
"Well I think you've given her more than she's ever wanted. Maybe instead of giving her something, you could do something for her to make her feel special and cared for, like a relaxing bubble bath or something," Mary Ann said.
"She doesn't take bath alo" Miranda caught herself, blushing furiously, and focused on the dish she was holding in her hands. "She prefers not to bathe alone."
"Oh, well um, you know, just something that shows her how much you think about her," she said. "I'm going to see if anyone needs anything," she said, heading back into the dining room.
Miranda closed the dishwasher and leaned against the counter. "Of course!" she said to herself. She had the perfect gift in mind and she would easily be able to prepare it in the next four days.
On November 30, Andrea's twenty-seventh birthday, Cara arrived at the townhouse earlier than usual and took care of the twins' morning routine so that Miranda could spend some time with the young woman. Miranda didn't plan to head to the office until the afternoon, and she talked to John and arranged for Andrea to work a half-day as well. At the time Miranda's alarm would typically go off, she quietly snuck out of bed and into the bathroom, turning the shower on so Andrea would not be suspicious. A short time later, Miranda turned the shower off, and emerged from the bathroom in new, hot pink lace and satin lingerie from La Perla, complete with sky-high stilettos. She carried a single cupcake on a plate, piled high with frosting.
"Darling," Miranda said, sitting next to the young woman. "Time to wake up, sleeping beauty."
Andrea groaned and tried to pull the covers over her face.
Miranda dipped her finger in the icing and smeared a tiny bit on her lips before leaning over and kissing Andrea gently. "Birthday girl," she whispered, "you'll have to be awake to receive your present."
Andrea's tongue licked the remaining frosting from her lips and her eyes opened wide.
"Happy birthday, sweetheart," Miranda said, kissing her again.
"Thank you," she said, pushing herself up against the pillows. "What are youoh god, fuck, that's so hot," she said. "Is that for meI mean, you're not leaving the house in that, are you?"
Miranda grinned. "It's entirely for you, don't worry. Now, how would you like your cupcake?"
Andrea's eyes widened.
"I can tie you to the bed and feed it to you," she whispered, peppering kisses along Andrea's wrist. "Or, you can tie me to the bed and eat it off of me."
"That sounds delicious," Andrea said, "but I don't want you tied up."
"Whatever the birthday girl wants," Miranda said.
"Waitwill youwill you just stand up and walk around in those heels for a second?"
Miranda winked at her and set the cupcake down on the nightstand as she paced back and forth a few times, modeling her lingerie in the insanely high heels. "Shall I strip, too?" she asked, sticking her thumb inside the garter belt.
"No, not yet. Come here," she said, patting the bed next to her.
Miranda crawled next to her and was happy to see how pleased she seemed to be. Miranda reached for the cupcake on the nightstand and pressed it against her lips, creating a trail of icing down her neck, across her breasts, and down her stomach. She could hear Andrea's breath hitch at the gesture. Gently lifting her hand up and squeezing her legs together, she crumbled the rest of the cupcake over her stomach and pelvis. With her sticky hand, she reached up and stroked Andrea's cheek, slipping her fingers into the woman's mouth.
In a low, quiet, incredibly sexy voice, Miranda began to slowly sing: "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, An-dre-a, happy birthday to you."
"Oh, Miranda, this is so fucking sexy," she said, gently straddling her and placing her hands on either side of Miranda's head. She bent down and began licking the frosting from her neck, traveling down towards her cleavage, moaning as she licked and sucked on the woman's perfect skin.
She pushed the padded bra cups down for a moment so she could palm the editor's breasts and give them each the attention they deserved. She licked and sucked and bit the hard nubs, eliciting deep, guttural moans from the woman that reverberated through her chest.
"Jesus, Miranda. this is the best birthday present ever," Andrea said, moving upwards once again to kiss her on the lips. "My two favorite things in the whole wide world."
"What's that?" Miranda asked.
"You and frosting."
Miranda laughed a full, hearty laugh, and kissed her softly. "Darling, I don't think you finished your cupcake."
"Saving the best for last," Andrea said as she dragged her tongue across Miranda's stomach. Most of the crumbs had already fallen to the sheets, except where they pooled at her apex. "Mmmm, ohhh, Miranda," Andrea mumbled as she licked at the crumbs.
Miranda felt her gently pushing her legs apart, so she complied, letting Andrea's tongue swipe her folds and circle her clit long enough to stave off the orgasm that had been building for the past twenty minutes.
Deciding the young woman had enough for the moment, Miranda laced her fingers in her hair and gently drew her upwards, kissing her and tasting a mix of herself and cupcake on the woman's tongue.
"Darling, there's another present," Miranda said, pointing to the dresser. "And while you're up, strip for me."
Andrea grinned and eagerly jumped from the bed, rocking her hips and swaying her body as she pulled off her silk camisole and boy shorts. "This?" she asked, pointing to a black shoebox.
Miranda nodded. "If you don't like it, it's okay," she said. "I just thoughtnow would be a good time, I mean, if "
Andrea gasped when she took the lid off the box. "A Feeldoe?! You're okay with that?"
Miranda smiled when she saw how Andrea's face lit up. "Of course, I'm the one who bought it for you," she said, rolling her eyes. Miranda propped herself on her elbows and watched Andrea stroke the smooth purple silicone. "Come here," she said.
Andrea obeyed and climbed onto the bed, straddling the woman while she held the object in her hand.
"Darling," Miranda said, placing her hands on the woman's slender hips, "come closer," she said, tugging her forward. She gently pressed her lips to Andrea's slick folds, slipping her tongue into her hot center.
"Oh god," Andrea moaned, pulling back.
Miranda looked up, her eyes full of concern. "Are you okay? Was that painful?"
"No, no, it felt goodtoo good. One second longer and I, well, I want to come when I'm inside of you," she said, leaning down and kissing Miranda softly.
Miranda wrapped her fingers around the dildo in Andrea's hand. "Let me," she said. She swirled her tongue around the "pony" end and reached down, parting the young woman's folds and sliding it into place. "How's that?"
Andrea straightened and thrust her hips forward. "You tell me," she said, grinning.
Miranda gently traced her fingers down the appendage, trembling with anticipation. "Oh, please," she gasped as Andrea slid further down her body. Her legs instinctively wrapped around her waist as Andrea thrusted forward. "Uhhhh!" she choked. The sudden thrust was unexpectedand deep.
Andrea pressed a kiss to Miranda's temple, then another to her forehead.
"Wait," Miranda gasped, reaching out to still the young woman's hips. "Wait, just give me a second," she said. "I'm notyou knowused to it so deep."
"Oh, god, I'm sorry," Andrea said, blushing. "I got carried away." She pressed a kiss to Miranda's closed eyelids and reached down, unclasping the woman's bra and kneading her breasts.
Slowly, Miranda opened her eyes and nodded.
Andrea bent down, sucking on the skin of Miranda's neck as she began rocking her hips, thrusting in and out of the woman, grinding against her clitoris. She could feel Miranda's pulse racing. Her tiny whimpers faded into quiet gasps and chuffs. The pale skin of her chest grew pink with exertion, and she could feel the tendons tightening in her neck as her head went backwards. Andrea gently traced her fingers down Miranda's neck and shoulders, watching as the woman beneath her parted her lips ever so slightly before her body melted into the mattress.
The sight was intensely erotic. Never before had she been able to watch the woman come undone quite like this. Within seconds, her own orgasm washed over her and she collapsed shamelessly onto the older woman.
After a few minutes, Miranda brushed the brunette's hair out of her eyes and softly cupped her cheek. "Happy birthday, Andrea," she said quietly. "I hope it's been a good birthday so far."
Andrea hummed with pleasure and turned to roll over onto her side. Miranda quickly reached down and guided the object out, tossing it aside. Andrea lay on her back next to the woman and began giggling.
"What is it?" Miranda asked, propping herself up on one elbow.
"There are so many crumbs in the sheets," she said. "You know, you wasted a perfectly good cupcake."
"Well, I hardly think it was a waste," Miranda said, grinning. "And for your information, there are five more downstairs. One for each of us tonight, and Cate and Callie can share."
"Oh shit," Andrea said. "The girls. We're all going to be late." she quickly tried to sit up, but Miranda grabbed her wrist, stopping her.
"I arranged for Cara to come early today," Miranda said. She looked over at the clock. "Cassidy and Caroline are already off to school, and Cara's downstairs with the babies. They're not expecting me until this afternoon, and I informed John that you would need the morning off for an appointment. It's all taken care of."
"Wow thank you."
"You're welcome. I love you, darling. I hope this birthday is better than last year's."
"Miranda, last year's was great because I shared it with you and the girls. I mean, yes, this year is infinitely better so far, but it's not a competition. I love that you put so much thought and preparation into this. I love you."
"I have one more present for you, but I'd rather give it to you after we've showered. So, will you take a shower with me?"
Andrea grinned. "Since you don't have anywhere to be for at least three hours, I'd love to."
Nearly an hour later, Miranda stepped out of the bathroom, wrapped in her bathrobe. She carefully stripped the sheets from the bed and threw them in the corner by the door. Andrea soon followed, her hair and body each wrapped in a towel.
"The girls have something for you that they'll give you tonight, but here," Miranda said, handing her a larger box with a white bow. "I wanted to give you something that shows how much I think of you each and every day. You are a permanent fixture in my life, Andrea Sachs, and I never, ever want you to doubt that."
"This this is your date book," Andrea said, pulling the leather-bound notebook from the box. "I thought you keep all of these at Runway, in case we ever need to reference something?"
"Well, maybe one of the assistants misplaced the 2008 calendar," she said. "Open it."
Andrea unfastened the leather strap and opened it, carefully flipping through the pages. Miranda had a strict rule about only using fine tip black ink pens, particularly in her calendar. As she flipped the pages, she noticed that every page had "A" or "Andrea" traced over in red ink a few times.
"I had to flip back for something last week, and I realized just how many times a day I was scribbling down something to tell you, something about you, sometimes just your name or even just some hearts in the margin. The other night, I went through and traced your nameit's in there over one thousand times. I lost track," Miranda said, shrugging. "I will warn you that there were a few days when I was a little frustrated about something, so don't get upset. I just didn't think you'd appreciate a redacted versionit probably wouldn't have the same effect."
Andrea closed the journal and took a deep breath. "Miranda," she said with a shaky voice. "This means more to me than I think you'll ever know." She reached over and wrapped her arms around the woman. "Thank you."
The next two years were the happiest years of any of their livesCassidy and Caroline included. Miranda and Andrea were more comfortable in their roles, both professionally and personally, and everything just seemed more relaxedrather, Miranda was more relaxed, so everyone around her could take a deep breath.
Cate and Callie had just turned three years old, and they celebrated with a huge party in the Hamptons. Andrea invited some of her cousins and their kids, and Miranda let Caroline and Cassidy invite a few of their friends from school, too. In total, there were about fifty guests, though Miranda and Andrea spent most of their time chasing after their daughters, so they didn't have the opportunity to say hello.
The following morning, the three-year-olds woke them early, crawling into their bed. "Moom," Callie whined, "you said pancakes todayand strawberries. Did you forget?"
Andrea hugged and kissed her daughter. "Good morning, my love bug," she said. "And no, I did not forget. I was just so tired from your big birthday party yesterday that I thought we could sleep in a little bit, okay?"
Callie frowned and crossed her arms over her chest, turning to Miranda for support. "Mama?"
"Oh, sweetie, I'm soooo tired. I want pancakes, too, but I think I will need at least one hundred kisses from each of you before I can get up," Miranda said.
"Me too?" Catherine asked.
"Oh yes, I'm verrrry tired," Miranda said.
Both girls started kissing her cheeks over and over, pausing every few minutes to ask whether that was one hundred yet. They erupted in giggled when they bumped heads, and all the chatter apparently woke the others.
"Andy, is she making them give her a hundred kisses again?" Caroline asked.
Andrea pressed her finger to her lips and gestured for her to come sit on the bed.
"Where's everyone else?"
"Grandma Helen and Grandma Mary Ann are downstairs making breakfast for everyone."
"Oh okay. Did your friends have a good time yesterday?"
"Yeah. Thanks again for letting Julia stay the night with us. She hates when her dad forgets about her like that. Her mom texted her that she was on her way and would be here by ten."
"She's always welcome to stay with usmake sure she knows that. School nights, weekends, whatever," Andrea said. "I better get up so I can say hello to her mother." She turned to the twins, still showering Miranda with kisses. "Almost therethree more! Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred!" she said.
"Yay! Pancakes!" Callie shouted, climbing off the bed and racing downstairs.
"Wait for me!" Catherine said, following her.
"I've got them," Caroline said, rushing after them and helping them to slowly walk down the stairs. At least the stairs in the townhouse were carpeted. These were slippery hardwood, and sometimes they needed a little reminder to go slow.
"Were you going to just let them do that all morning?" Andrea asked, curling up next to the other woman.
"Mm-hmm," Miranda said, grinning. "You could pick up where they left off, you know."
Andrea leaned over and kissed her lovingly. "Helen and my mom are apparently feeding everyone downstairs, and Julia's mother is on her way."
"Oh, I forgot that poor girl. I think it was always my fear that I would be one of those parents. James has been very good about thatactually, we've both worked really hard to make sure that they always understood they were our number one priority. And then, these past few years with your presence the fact that you not only put them before yourself, but before me, too I'm just eternally grateful that they will never know that kind of hurt."
"Of course not. I told Caroline that Julia is always welcome to stay with us. You don't mind, do you?"
"No, but one of us should be down there when her mother comes," Miranda said, getting up. "You take your time. I can get ready in five minutes." She grabbed a white cotton sundress from the closet and a few minutes later, emerged from the bathroom looking gorgeous as ever. Miranda winked at the young woman before heading downstairs.
After the birthday party, Helen decided to stay in New York with them for a few weeks. One night when they were sitting around the dining room table enjoying Helen's homemade fried chicken, Cassidy turned and whispered something in Andrea's ear.
"You'll have to ask, sweetie," Andrea said.
"Cassidy, is everything alright?" Miranda asked.
"Yeah, Mom. It's fine."
Miranda pursed her lips and stared at her.
"Okay. Um, there's this concert coming up, and it's at the Garden, and it's sold out. A bunch of our friends tried to get tickets and couldn't Jack made this stupid comment that you wouldn't even be able to get tickets."
Miranda frowned. There was nothing she despised more than the girls' classmates mocking her in front of them at school. She always insisted that her daughters should never be put in the position to defend their mother to their peers. "Darling, do you want to go to the concert?"
"Yes, we would love to go," Caroline said, interrupting.
Miranda rolled her eyes. "Is this just because of what that boy said? I hadn't heard you mention anything before."
"Mom, it's One Direction. We've basically spent all summer listening to them and watching their videos online," Cassidy said, rolling her eyes right back. "Of course we want to go."
"Actually, Miranda, Cassidy was telling me about the concert a few weeks ago, but if I remember correctly, it falls on Labor Day weekend and that's when the four girls are going to Boston to visit Grandma Helen and Grandpa George," Andrea said.
"Yeah," Cassidy said with a shrug. "That's why I didn't say anything. We already had plans."
"Well don't miss a concert on account of me and your grandpa. You can visit us anytime!" Helen said.
Cassidy's eyes lit up, and she quickly turned to look at Miranda, then Andrea, then back to Miranda. "Mom?"
"I can't make any promises now," Miranda said, "but I will make a few calls tonight before I go to bed and see if they can't fit just two more people into that sold-out arena."
The girls erupted in squeals, which Cate and Callie instantly wanted to join in on. Andrea leaned over to Miranda. "We live in a zoo," she said.
"Mmm, yes," Miranda replied, taking a sip of her wine as she watched her children interact. "The primate house, I believe."
The following day, Miranda arrived home at 5:45 PM, just as Andrea was climbing the steps of the porch. "Andrea, help carry these," she said, handing her a few gift bags as she climbed out of the town car.
"What's all this?"
"I got us tickets for the concertyou, me, and the two girls. But I want to tease them a little bit, so just go along. Plus, I can't leave Cate and Callie out," she said, walking up the front steps. "Girls," she called. "Come here, I brought presents for you!"
Miranda cringed as they heard the stampede coming down the stairs.
"Mmm, elephants," Andrea said.
"I was thinking more like rhinoceros," she said, gasping as Cate came running for her, nearly tackling her with her hug. "Hi my darling, did you have a good day?"
"You know, Mom usually brings us presents when she's trying to apologize for something," Caroline whispered before they reached the first floor. "I bet she couldn't get those tickets."
"It doesn't matter," Cassidy said, shrugging. "Hey, Mom, Andy."
"Hi Bobbsey, here you go," she said, handing both her and her sister a bag. She turned around and handed Andrea a bag as well, and she had two left.
"Mama, who is that for?" Catherine asked.
"Well, one is for Grandma, and the other is for me."
"Grandma went to the store with Cara. Can we open them?" Caroline asked.
"Yes, go ahead."
"I got a purse like Mommy's!" Callie shouted. Indeed, it was a miniature pink Chanel quilted bag.
"I got one, too!" Catherine said, pulling out a similar bag in purple.
Caroline and Cassidy both pulled out white screen printed One Direction shirts, and Miranda couldn't help but notice they looked inside the bag to see if there was anything else.
"Thanks, Mom, this is cool," Cassidy said quietly.
"Hey look, I got a t-shirt like that, too, but it's black," Andrea said. "Miranda, what'd you get?"
"Hmm, let's see," she said, digging through the bag. "I also got a black t-shirt, and, oh, just four tickets for the concert on September 5th front row," she said, pulling them out and grinning.
"Mom!!!!" Cassidy cried, running up to her and giving her a giant hug and kiss. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is so cool!!"
Caroline also thanked her, then asked, "Wait, so you're both coming with us?"
Miranda shrugged. "I'm presuming Andrea is coming "
"Hell yI mean, heck yes!" she said, giggling.
"Mama, what 'bout us?" Catherine asked, tugging on Miranda's dress.
Miranda kneeled on the floor to address her daughter. "Sweetheart, concerts are for grown-ups, and on special occasions, teenagers. You and your sister Callie are too little."
"What's a concert?" Callie asked, turning to Cassidy.
"A concert is when a band plays music in front of tons and tons of people. It's really loud, and it can hurt your ears, especially little kid ears," she said sweetly.
"And girls, I'm sorry to inform you, but you will be wearing earplugs. I'll have my assistant pick up some of those transparent ones so that no one will notice," Miranda said.
"Thanks, Mom. Really, this is awesome. Waitare you and Andy going to wear those shirts?" Caroline asked.
"Well, I'm not going to wear this," Miranda said, gesturing at the silk Prabal Gurung sheath dress she was wearing. "Plus, I think we'll all have a better time if we're less conspicuous, you know? We don't want 'Miranda Priestly Attends Concert with Offspring' to be the morning headline," she added.
"Can we tell our friends now?" Cassidy asked? "Jack is going to freak out."
"Yes, sweetheart, but make it quick. We're sitting down for dinner in about fifteen minutes," Miranda said.
On Friday, September 4th, Miranda took a vacation day and rode with her youngest daughters to Boston, where they would be staying with their grandparents for the weekend. It would be the first time they were spending the night somewhere that wasn't home, and without Miranda, Andrea, Caroline, or Cassidy.
The previous weekend, they arranged for their four girls to have a "sleepover" at Emily's apartment, and they did fine. Still, she was nervous, and she knew Andrea was, too. Helen reassured her that they would be absolutely fine, and that she and George and their golden retriever Bucky would be more than enough distraction. Helen wanted them to stay for an entire week, but Miranda thought it best to play it by ear. She fully expected to be driving out to Boston early Sunday morning to pick them up.
It was strangely quiet that evening at the townhouse. Cassidy and Caroline were upstairs making sure they knew every word to every song before the concert tomorrow, and Miranda and Andrea were curled up on the couch in the study. It was their favorite position: Andrea sitting at one end of the couch with her feet up on the coffee table and her computer in her lap, Miranda on the opposite end of the couch with her iPad or the Book, her knees bent and her toes resting on Andrea's thigh (or, if it was cold, tucked under Andrea's leg). They haveon more than one occasionfallen asleep in that position. Tonight, though, they took advantage of the quiet and decided to turn in early and watch a movie in bed. As much as she loved when the girls came in their bed to cuddle, she was extremely glad the co-sleeping arrangement ended years ago.
The next morning, a knock on their bedroom door woke them. "Mom? Andy? Can we come in? Are you decent?"
"Yes, come in," Miranda said, sitting up in bed. "What's wrong? We were still asleep."
Cassidy looked over at the TV and noticed the DVD player screensaver was on the screen. "Did you guys fall asleep during the movie again?"
"I think I fell asleep before it started," Andrea admitted. "What time is it?"
"It's 8:58," Caroline said. "Grandpa emailed us earlier and said the girls slept well, and that they were going to try and FaceTime us at later."
"Okay, and ?" Miranda asked.
"It's quiet here without them. I kind of miss them," Cassidy said.
"Alright, you two, come on up here," Miranda said, lifting the covers. She and Andrea learned years ago to always be wearing pajamas in the morning since more than half the time, one of their children ended up in their bedroom before they were out of bed. "Is there anything special you want to do today before the concert?" Miranda asked.
Later that night, Roy dropped the four ladies off at the concert after waiting in traffic for nearly thirty minutes just to get to the entrance. Luckily, Cassidy supplied Roy with a One Direction CD to play, informing everyone that this was the perfect opportunity to "get into the spirit."
"Girls, are you sure you're okay with me wearing this?" Miranda asked before they stepped out of the car. "I just didn't want to draw unnecessary attention."
"Mom, it's fine. We won't have fun if people keep trying to get a photo of you, so it's good. Really."
Miranda sighed, looking at herself in the mirror and adjusting her wig one last time.
"Come on, Miri, let's go," Andrea said, opening the door. Miranda just shook her head and followed them out. They were led down to a standing-room only area near the stage and given lanyards to wear around their neck and display their ticket at all times.
Within about thirty minutes, the opening act came on, and by 8:30, One Direction took the stage. Andrea and Miranda stood behind the girls, and it was such a delight to see how excited they were at the entire experience. At one point, Harry reached his hand out to the crowd and they were both screaming at the top of their lungs because he touched their hands. Miranda smiled at her daughters. .
About two hours into the show, the lights went down and they quietly began playing the chords to one of their most popular songsalso one that was playing nonstop for the past few days in the Priestly home. While Caroline and Cassidy sang at the top of their lungs, Miranda reached her arm around Andrea and slipped her hand in the younger woman's back pocket.
She leaned closer and began to sing into her ear: "Everyone else in the room can see iteveryone else but you Baby, you light up my world like nobody else. The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed, but when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell, you don't know-oh-oh, you don't know you're beautiful."
Andrea pulled Miranda closer and gently kissed her on the cheek, picking up where she left off: "If only you saw what I can see, you'll understand why I want you so desperately. Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe you don't know-oh-oh, you don't know you're beautiful. Oh-oh-oh, that's what makes you beautiful."
"Andrea," Miranda whispered, tracing her finger over the brunette's lips. She quickly closed the distance between them, hungrily kissing the young woman while the arena full of screaming teenage girls sang along with the song.
After a while, Andrea pulled away and leaned against Miranda's shoulder, gently swaying to the rest of the music. When the concert was over, Cassidy and Caroline thanked Miranda again and again. Andrea pulled out her phone to make sure she didn't have any missed calls or texts from Helen, and she gasped as she opened her email.
"What?" Miranda asked.
"Um so, that wig worked. No one recognized you," Andrea said, handing her phone over. "But they definitely have pictures of us kissing. Leslie just sent us this."
"What's wrong with that? They've put pictures of you kissing in the trash papers before," Caroline said. "We still had an awesome time, Mom."
"Sweetheart," Miranda said, shaking her head. "The photographers didn't recognize me, so they think Andrea was kissing someone else," she said. She watched as finally understood what she was saying.
"Can't you just tell them it was you? That Andy wasn't cheating?" Cassidy said.
"No, Cass, it doesn't really work that way. They don't care what we have to say. If we try to get involved, they'll make it into a really big deal. I'm just glad you two aren't in the photo," Miranda said. "I'm going to send Leslie a quick note back, explaining the situation. Let her deal with it."
"Mom, couldn't you just start wearing that wig to work and stuff? Then they'd feel stupid for not noticing your new hair?" Caroline asked.
"Or this could be a good time to dye your hair dark brown," Andrea said, wagging her eyebrows. "I seem to remember a conversation..."
Miranda chuckled as she shook her head. "I'll think about it. But if I do anything, it will only be semi-permanent. I don't want to damage my hairthen I will for sure be wearing a wig!"
"I love you, you know that, right?" Andrea asked.
Miranda smiled. "I do know that, but I'll never tire of hearing it, darling."
Two years passed.
"Girls, we're going to be late. Let's go," Miranda said.
"Coming!" Callie called from the top of the stairs. "Sissy, c'mon, Mom's waiting."
"Stop calling me that!" Cate shrieked, running past her sister and down the stairs. "Moooomm, Callie keeps calling me 'Sissy' and everyone at school is going to laugh at me," she whined as she ran up to Miranda.
Miranda bent down and hugged her daughter, smoothing out her tweed Ralph Lauren dress. "Sweetheart, you look so grown-up today," she said. She reached up and fixed the barrette that was keeping her bangs out of her eyes. When Callie joined them in the foyer, Miranda continued, "Your sister would never call you that at school, darling. That's a special nickname just between us here at home."
"I don't like it," Cate said, stomping her foot and folding her arms across her chest.
"Catherine, what do I call your big sisters?"
"'Bobbsey,'" Callie said, "right Mom?"
"Yes. I've been calling them 'Bobbsey' for fifteen years. They never liked it. If you've noticed, they still get a little annoyed when I use it," she said. "But I would never call them that to embarrass them in front of their friends."
"Cassy probably can't hear you because of her headphones," Cate said.
Miranda smiled. She was right, Cassidy was glued to her iPhone, always with her headphones in. "You know what I mean, sweetie."
"Then why do you still say it if you know they don't like it?" Cate asked.
"Because I think somewhere deep inside," she explained, pressing her finger to Cate's chest, "it reminds them how much I love them. Just like your nicknames are special, too." She pulled her daughter in for a hug, then stood back up. "Okay? Are we all set?"
Cate nodded. "Yeah. It's okay if you call me 'Sissy,' but I don't want Callie to," she said.
"Okay, my darlings, we really need to go. I don't want you to be late for your first day of school," Miranda said. "Cate, where's your backpack, honey?"
"Oh!" she said, running into the kitchen. Miranda turned and looked at Callie who already had her bag on her back. "'Kay, ready!" she said, returning with her pink backpack.
"Well, let's go. Mr. Roy is driving us today," Miranda said as she held the front door open for the girls.
"Are you going to work after you take us?" Callie asked.
"Yes, I'm going to Runway and Mommy Andrea is going to pick you up," Miranda said. Her phone began to ring as she helped the girls to fasten their seat belts.
"That's Mommy's music, isn't it?" Callie asked. "Can I talk to her?"
"We'll all say hello," Miranda said, answering and putting it on speakerphone. "Hi, darling."
"Hi, Mom!" they both shouted at once.
"Well, hello, three of my favorite people. Are you on your way to school?"
"I hope you have a good day. I'll be there at 3:30 to pick you up. Love you!"
"Love you too, Mom."
"Love you! See you later."
Miranda turned off the speakerphone and held it up to her ear. "Okay, as you can hear, they're very eager to start Kindergarten," Miranda said.
"Hmm, and how are you holding up?" Andrea asked.
"What? What do you mean? I'm fine."
Miranda could practically hear the other woman's smirk on the other end of the line. "I'll have you know that I am also very excited for our girls to be starting school. They're going to learn so much and make so many friends," Miranda said.
"Okay, okay. Please try to hold it together in front of the other parents," Andrea said. "Call me when you get back to the car."
"I will. Talk to you later. Love you."
"Love you, too. Bye," Andrea said, ending the call.
They rode in silence the next few miles until Roy pulled into the line of cars dropping students off. He got out and opened the door for the girls, giving them each a high five as they exited the car. "See ya later, kiddos!"
Miranda reached down and straightened out Callie's hair as she led her into the school.
A table was setup just inside the entrance for all kindergarten students to check-in. Miss Waugh, the Admissions Coordinator, stood and reached for Miranda's hand. "Miranda, good morning," she said, shaking it firmly.
"Hello, Miss Waugh," Miranda said.
"And you must be Callie and Catherine Priestly, right?"
Both girls smiled and nodded.
Miss Waugh picked up two name tags from her desk and handed them to each of the girls to drape around their neck. The girls exchanged a quick glance, then switched name tags.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Miss Waugh said.
"Girls," Miranda warned.
They quickly switched back and slipped the proper name tag over their head. "Sorry," Cate murmured. "Yeah, sorry, Mom," Callie said.
Miranda bent down and adjusted the name tag so it wasn't interfering with Callie's hair or the collar on her shirt. "Be good today. Be nice to the other girls and boys, and listen to your teachers. Mommy will pick you up. I love you, sweetheart," she said, kissing her softly on the cheek, then wiping the smudge of her lipstick off.
Miss Waugh gestured for Callie to begin walking towards their classroom.
"And you," Miranda said, hugging and kissing her other daughter gently. "You be good, too. Don't be whiney, and please be nice to your teachers. I will see you when I get home from work tonight. I love you, baby girl," she whispered, kissing her one more time on the top of her head.
"Bye, Mom," Cate said, waving as she walked over towards where Miss Waugh was standing. "Have a good day at work, too!"
Miranda clasped her hand over her mouth and waved as her babies headed down the hallway into their Kindergarten classroom. Once they were out of sight, she walked back to the car, dialing Andrea on her phone.
"I take it you dropped them off?" Andrea said, answering the call.
"They didn't even want me to stay," Miranda said, sniffling. "They just went off with this woman they've never met."
"Don't worry. We've just been telling them how much fun school isthis is how we wanted them to react, right? We didn't want to be those parents whose kids are crying for their mothers."
"But Andrea, I want them to cry for me. They're so grown-up," Miranda said. "It seems like just yesterday they were babies, and we were bringing them home from the hospital. They needed us for everything, and now, they they don't."
"Miranda, they will need us for the rest of their lives. Look at Care and Cass. They're fifteen years old, and I think they need us more now than they did five years ago."
Miranda didn't say anything.
"Are you okay? Do you want me to come meet you somewhere?" Andrea asked after a minute.
"Can I swing by? Are you busy?" Miranda asked as she pressed the button to lower the privacy glass.
"I'm free for another hour and twenty minutes."
Miranda quickly instructed Roy to head to The Mirror, and she pulled out her mirror, touching up her eye makeup.
Andrea met her in the lobby and walked her back up to her office, which was about half the size of Miranda's at Runway, but much cozier. Miranda took a seat on the oversized chair while Andrea shut and locked her office door. "I have some tea if you'd like," she said, holding out a cup and saucer.
"Thanks," Miranda replied, reaching a shaky hand out for the teacup.
Andrea sat next to her in the cozy chair, gently running her hands along the woman's shoulders and back. "So, I'm going to leave early today. Roy is going to drop off the Range Rover later this afternoon, and then at three, I'll head over to Dalton to pick up the twins. From there, we'll pickup Caroline and Cassidy, and then hopefully be home by half past four. I'm glad my hours are flexible and I can do this, but unfortunately it means spending a few hours doing work in the evenings."
Miranda took another sip of tea, then finally set her cup on the coffee table and leaned into the other woman's arms. "We'll make it work," Miranda said. "I'll be home at 6:15, then we can eat dinner, and you can work from seven until nine if you'd like," she said. "I can even pick the girls up a few days each week, but I'll have to go in earlier, which means you taking them in the morning." She turned her head and looked Andrea in the eye. "Nevermind, you're too grumpy in the morning. That wouldn't work," she added with a smile.
"Hey. I took Caroline and Cassidy today and we all survived," she protested.
"I know. And that is only because the twins' first day began at ten instead of eight." She sighed and softly kissed Andrea on the lips before laying her head on the younger woman's shoulder. "Where has the time gone? My babies are in school "
Andrea wrapped her arm tightly around Miranda's shoulders. "It's strange. In some ways, it seems like it was just yesterday when they were born. But, when you think about it, the pastwhatalmost six years seems like a lifetime. For me, at least. I feel like my life didn't really start until you. And while these past few years may have gone by a little too quickly, I've loved every minute. I don't really remember what it was like without you, Cassidy, Caroline, Callie, and Cate in my life," she said.
"I know what you mean," she said. "And I feel awful thinking about it sometimes, but it's as if the memories we're making are replacing the past. I can hardly remember the girls' first words. But I remember everything about the day when Callie looked at you and said 'mama,'" she said. "I didn't think I would be so emotional today, but I don't know. It's like the empty nest thing, I guess."
"Sweetheart, I hate to break it to you, but we've got another thirteen years before we can claim that status," Andrea said.
Miranda chuckled. "You know what I mean. With everyone in school, the townhouse will be so quiet during the day. Maybe I could"
"No. Don't say it," Andrea interrupted.
"finally retire." She turned and glared at Andrea. "Why are you so against me retiring? I've worked long and hard. Plus, Serena's ready. She's more than ready, actually. I'm getting concerned that someone else may poach her from us one of these days."
"Miranda, I'm not against anything. I will fully support you in whatever you choose, but I don't think you're ready to sit home alone with nothing to do all day. I'm sorry. It's the truth," Andrea said.
"What makes you think I would sit and do nothing?" Miranda asked.
"Okay, tell me what an ideal day would be like. Or week, even."
"Well, I would wake up and get all the girls off to schoolpack lunches, review their homework, all that. Then, I could stop at the market on the way home and get something for dinner. I could go to a yoga class or go play tennis at the club, then straighten up things around the house, maybe do a load or two of laundry. Then, it would be time to pick the girls up and spend time with all of you."
"And you don't think that would get old after a week?"
"No. It would be nice. I could change it up, too. Maybe on Monday I would go to yoga, but Tuesday I would sit home and read. And on Thursday I could come visit you at the office or something."
"See? That's it. You're not the kind of person who is content with sitting still. I know you, darling. Leisure is not your thing," Andrea said. "Before you make any major decisions, can we at least sit and talk about this a little more?"
"Of course, sweetheart," Miranda said, kissing her quickly before standing up. "I should be getting to the office, though."
Andrea stood and followed her, spinning her around and pressing her back against the office door as a startled gasp escaped her lips. "You didn't even say anything about the shades," Andrea whispered in her ear.
"Wh-what about them?" was Miranda's hoarse reply.
"I had them installed just for you," she said, blowing gently on the woman's neck. "The last time you were here, you recommended roman shades because they offered more privacy, and," she gently bit down on the woman's neck, "they absorb sound."
"Andreeeea," Miranda whined, ducking out of her arms and smoothing out her skirt. "Darling, I have to get to the office."
"Just one kiss?" Andrea pouted.
"You realize this is where our daughters get it from, right? This is why it takes us forty-five minutes to tuck them in at night," Miranda said.
"Please?" Andrea asked, looking up at Miranda with her big brown eyes.
Miranda rolled her eyes and took the younger woman in her arms, kissing her thoroughly. A few minutes later, when she finally pulled away, her eyes widened.
Miranda's eyes were fixed on Andrea's lips and the reddish ring around them. "What lipstick are you wearing? Is that the Stila?"
"Yeah, why?" Andrea asked.
"It's all over your face," Miranda said, "and probably smeared on mine, too."
Andrea opened her desk drawer and pulled out her compact. "Miranda! How am I going to go to my meeting like this?!"
The older woman chuckled. "If I remember correctly, you were the one who was pouting. Here," she said, taking a small container of Vaseline petroleum jelly from her handbag. "This will break down the formula and you should be able to wipe it away. Give me some, too."
Once they had sufficiently cleaned up, Miranda gave Andrea a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'll be home by 6:15," she said.
"We'll all be waiting. And tonight do you think we can pick up where things left off?"
"Most certainly," Miranda said as she opened the office door. "Call me if you need anything. Love you."
"Love you, too. See you later."
"Okay, Mom. We'll be there in an hour."
"You make sure you don't distract your sister! It's getting dark out."
"Mom, we know. And we're both capable of driving in the dark. I'm going to hang up so we can focus on driving. Love you."
"Love you, Caroline. Tell your sister I love her, too," Miranda said.
"Okay. See ya," Caroline said, ending the call. "Jeez, I don't know what she thinks is going to happen to us, like, will this Escalade turn into a pumpkin when the sun sets?"
Cassidy giggled and shook her head. "Leave her alone. She's worried. Aaaand it's Mother's Day tomorrow."
"Yeah, you're right." Caroline slouched against the comfy leather seats of the Cadillac Escalade their mother insisted they drive. While she had her heart set on a white Mazda Miata, she knew a tiny sports car could never have seats this comfortable. "Cass," she said, gazing out the window at the sunset, "do you think Mom was always gay?"
They drove in silence for a few minutes before Cassidy answered. "I don't know. I never really thought about it. I mean, she got pregnant twicefrom having sex with a guy."
"Well, technically, we don't know about the last time "
"True. That was immaculate conception if you ask her."
Caroline laughed. "But I mean, seriously. Obviously she's had sex with dad, and probably a few other guys. But, do you think it was because it wasn't acceptable back then, or like, that she didn't discover those feelings until she met Andy?"
"You should probably ask her that, not me," Cassidy said with a shrug. "Why, are you wondering if it's like genetic or something?" she added with a snicker.
"No! No, I just, I don't know. I was thinking."
A few minutes went by in silence, and Cassidy pulled to a stop at the stoplight. "Hey, Care," she said, turning and picking up her sister's hand. "Are youI meando you like girls like that?"
Caroline pulled her hand away. "I don't know. It's like how do you know? What does it feel like?"
"Stace said she gets tingly and gets wet between her legs when Sean kisses her."
Caroline rolled her eyes. "I know, and that just sounds like she's watched too many movies or something. I mean, I don't really feel any differently towards girls or boys. Do you?"
"I don't know. I guess sometimes when a really cute boy like Chris Schwartz or Erik Chandler walks by, it kind of gives me butterflies or something," Cassidy said.
"Have you ever done anything with a guy?"
"Not really. When Jason and I were together a few months ago, I mean, we kissed, duh, but no, I didn't do anything else with him. That's why we broke up."
"I thought oh, that's right." She sighed.
"What about you? You and Brian were inseparable for a solid month, then I don't think I've seen him since, except in Pre-Calc."
"Yeah, we did stuff."
"Did you go all the way?!" she asked, shocked.
"No, no," Caroline quickly reassured her. "I would have told you if we did that. But, um, we kissed a lot, and I let him put his hand in my pants, and I gave him a blow job."
"What! How did you not tell me about this?!"
"You and Jason just started seeing each other. And then, I don't know, you were so busy with that video. Whatever, it's fine. It's not like I need to talk about it," Caroline said.
"But you're my sister. I can't talk with Cate or Callie about this stuff," Cassidy said, taking a deep breath. "What was it like?"
"Both, I guess. Well, I mean, what did he do when he put his hands in your pants?"
"First, it was just one hand. But, uh, he just rubbed me. It felt weird."
"Good weird, or just weird weird?"
"Jeez, Nancy Drew, enough with the questions. I guess it was good. It's not like I was crying out in ecstasy or anything, but I mean, if he wanted to do it again, I would have let him."
"So it turned you on? Sorry. Last question," Cassidy said.
"That's just it. I don't know. How can you tell if you're on or off? I mean, it didn't feel that different, so I don't think it turned me on. I mean, it doesn't matter," she said.
"You should talk to Andy. She used to live with that guy when she first started working for Mom, remember? She'd be honest with you."
Caroline shrugged. "I'm going to close my eyes. Wake me up when we're near Sag."
"Okay. But please don't ruin Mom and Andy's weekend. We worked on that video for a long time," Cassidy said.
"I know. I won't say anything."
Thirty minutes later, Caroline woke to the sound of the crushed stone crunching beneath their tires. She looked out the window and saw her mom and Andy curled up on the swing on the front porch. Andy was holding a glass of white wine, and her mother seemed to be holding a glass of scotch or something.
Cassidy parked next to their mom's BMW SUV, and turned the engine off. "Hey Care," she said, before opening the door, "you know you can talk to me, right? I mean, when I'm not asking you a million questions?"
"Yeah," she said, smiling. "Thanks, Cass. Same goes for you."
They climbed out of the car and grabbed their bags from the back. Caroline elbowed her sister as they approached the house. "Mom's drunk. Look at her," she whispered, giggling. They watched as Andy whispered something into Miranda's ear, then took the drink from her hand.
"Bobbseys I'm so glad you made it," she said, hugging and kissing them each. "There's leftovers in the fridge if you want just, don't wake the girls up."
"Okay, Mom. Love you," Cassidy said, leaning over to hug Andy. "Love you, too."
"I'll have what she's having," Caroline whispered, hugging and kissing Andy, who rolled her eyes.
"Maybe if you're good," Andrea said to the white-haired woman in her arms, "the girls will make you breakfast in the morning."
Miranda closed her eyes and curled up against Andrea's body. "I can be yare I'll promise to be yare," Miranda said, wrapping her arm tighter around Andrea's waist.
"Seriously?" Caroline asked. "You two still haven't taken The Philadelphia Story out of the DVD player? It's been there since, like"
"since we replaced the VHS player, which had a copy of that same movie stuck in it. Remember?" Cassidy said. "Mom loves watching that movienot at home, just here in the Hamptons."
"Okay, you two, go on inside. I think the girls are actually watching a movie upstairs. Will you check on them?" Andrea asked.
"Sure. Send us a text if you need help carrying her upstairs," Cassidy said, snickering.
Once the girls were inside, Andrea set their drinks on the table and snuggled closer to Miranda, who had already fallen asleep. She pressed a kiss to her forehead and tucked a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. "Just when I think I can't possibly love you any more than I already do, you amaze me, and I fall in love with you all over again," Andrea whispered. She wrapped her arms tightly around the other woman and drifted off to sleep.
Several hours later, she woke to a loud shouting noise. Immediately, she jumped from the swing, intending to run into the house and upstairs to locate the source of the noise, but she apparently forgot that her feet were entangled with Miranda's. When Andrea went crashing to the ground on her hands and knees, Miranda, too, woke from her sleep.
"Darling, what is it?" Miranda asked, yawning.
"Fuck," she said, examining the broken skin on the palm of her hand. "That hurt."
"What are you doing down there?" Miranda asked.
"I heard the girls," she said.
Twin giggles filled the air, along with a "Cassy, stoop!" shout. Andrea breathed a sigh of relief.
"We better go check on them," Miranda said, sitting up and stretching her back. She stood to her feet and helped Andrea up off the ground and into the house. When they got upstairs, they stood in the doorway of their master bathroom, shocked at the scene in front of them. "What on earth "
Cassidy and Caroline stood at opposite ends of the room, each holding a spritz bottle, presumably filled with water. Cate and Callie were in the bathtub, wearing their bathing suits, holding cans of their bath foam that were empty, judging by the looks of the bathroom.
"That's it," Andrea said. "Cate, Calliebed. Now. Caroline, Cassidyyour room, now. Leave the water bottles here."
Andrea started to follow the eldest girls out of the bathroom, then paused.
"Go," Miranda said. "I'll get them cleaned up."
Andrea nodded and followed the girls into their room to have a serious chat. Miranda, on the other hand, couldn't help but smile at her adorable, innocent little angels.
"My babies, what did you get yourselves into?" she said, smiling.
"Sorry, Mom," Callie said, looking down at the ground.
"Come here." Miranda hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. "As long as you're safe and happy, I don't care about this mess," she said.
"Really?" Cate asked as Miranda wrapped her other arm around her.
"Of course. You're my angels, and Mommy loves you so very much. Let's get you two rinsed off, then into some dry pjs and off to bed, okay?"
The girls eagerly nodded as Miranda retrieved two towels from the linen closet.
"Bathing suits offjust leave them over there," she said, pointing to the floor next to the tub. She turned on the spray in the giant walk-in shower and let the water heat up to an appropriate temperature. Then, she turned to them and secured their hair in a bun on the top of their heads before leading them into the shower. "Quick rinse," she said as she took the hand-held spray and got all the suds off their skin. "Arms up okay, turn around. And, we're finished," she said, turning off the water.
She wrapped them in giant towels as they stepped out, then walked with them down the hall to their bedroom where they each put on clean underwear and a night shirt before Miranda tucked them in.
"Love you, Mom," Callie said.
"Yeah, you're the best," Cate added. "Love you."
Miranda hugged and kissed them again, then headed upstairs in search of the rest of her family, who all happened to be sitting on the floor, leaning up against the bed. "What did I miss?"
"We were just playing with the girls. We'll clean up your bathroom," Caroline said.
"Don't worry, it's fine," Miranda said.
"I was just telling them how you scared me half to death six years ago when you fainted," Andrea said.
Miranda looked at her with one eyebrow raised.
"Do you remember what we were arguing about?"
Miranda slowly shook her head. "I just remember I told you to stop acting childish, but I didn't mean to say it out loud. You got upset and said you were going to sleep downstairs on the couch," she said.
"Yeah, and then halfway down the stairs, I hear this thump and find your mother on the ground next to the bed."
"What happened that made you faint, Mom?" Cassidy asked.
"When you're pregnant, a lot of your blood and oxygen is going to the babies, so if you get up too fast, sometimes your body hasn't had a chance to pump all that oxygen-rich blood back around to your heart and brain."
"Isn't that dangerous, though?" Cass asked.
"Not really. It's the falling that's dangerous. Fainting is kind of like a power nap for your body. That's what the doctor told me when I was pregnant with you two, anyway," she said with a smile. "But yes, I did give Andrea quite a scare. See? That's why you should never storm out of the room on me," Miranda said with a wink.
Andrea glanced at the clock. "Oh, wow. It's quarter past midnight already," she said, getting up. "Why don't you girls get to bed so you can get up at a decent hour tomorrow?"
"Oh, wait," Caroline said. "Happy Mothers' Day."
"Thank you, sweetheart," Miranda said, hugging her.
"You, too, Andy," Cassidy said, hugging her. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Cass," she said.
The following day, after bringing their moms breakfast in bed and taking a long, leisurely walk along the beach, Cassidy led everyone to the living room while she put a DVD in the player.
"Sorry, Mom. I just need to take The Philadelphia Story out for a few minutes. I'll put it back, promise," she said.
Miranda smiled and pulled Cate onto her lap, hugging her tightly.
"Me and Cate helped on this, too!" Callie said, climbing onto Andrea's lap.
"Okay," Cassidy said, taking a deep breath. "Mom, Andy, happy Mothers' Day. Hope you like it. You both mean the world to the four of us, and we wanted to give you something special," she said, pressing the "play" button on the remote.
The video opened with Cassidy playing the guitar and softly singing an incredible version of The Beatles' "In My Life."
"Cassidy, sweetie, this is beautiful," Miranda said.
"Keep watching, there's more," she and Caroline said at the same time.
The camera slowly panned out to a table covered in photographs, then transitioned into a slideshow, all while Cassidy sang. It began with photos of Miranda's first pregnancy, and then photos and a few videos of when Cassidy and Caroline were babies. There were photos of their first day of school, their piano recitalseverything. Then, there were a few photos of Andrea from when she first started at Runway. In the first few photos, her hair was covering her face, or she was looking away, and then suddenly she was in pictures with the girls. There was a candid of Andrea and Miranda from their first New Years' together that neither of them had seen before.
Next was the sonogram, some images of Miranda pregnant again, and then the first two photos of Cate and Callie that Andrea snapped before they were even named. The song switched over to One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful," and there were tons and tons of photos of their family. Some of them, Andrea recognized. Others, she had no idea how they could have even gotten that picture. The last few photos were of Andrea and Miranda on the porch swing, the twins covered in bath foam, and then the family walking along the beach earlier that day.
As the screen faded to black, simple white text crawled across the screen:
To the best moms in the whole wide world We love you and are lucky to have you.Happy Mothers' Day. All our love, your daughters,Caroline, Cassidy, Callista, & Catherine
Andrea turned and looked at Miranda, but she had her face buried in Catherine's hair.
"Did you like it, Mom?" Callie asked.
"Yes, darling, I loved it. I'm going to treasure this gift forever and ever," she said, hugging her tightly. "Go give Mommy a hug," she whispered. Callie climbed onto Miranda's lap while Andrea hugged and kissed Caroline and Cassidy.
"I was really nervous you guys would think it was cheesy," Cassidy admitted. "So it was really okay?"
"Sweetheart, it was perfect. You and your sisters put so much thought into ityou know, you really screwed yourselves for next year, though," Andrea said with a chuckle.
Miranda turned and gave Andrea an I-can't-believe-you-just-said-that look.
"Seriously, if I made a video of all those looks that Mom gives youlike that one just nowyou know that would top this," Caroline said.
"I'm glad the girls understand what I see in you," Miranda said quietly. "The girls and I got you something else, too." Miranda nodded and Callie ran and pulled the box out of the cabinet where it was hiding, then handed it to Andrea.
She unwrapped and opened the box, revealing a delicate gold necklace with five dangling heart charmstwo with a tiny diamond, one with an emerald fleck, and two with a ruby fleck. "Thank you," Andrea said, immediately putting the necklace on. "This is beautiful. I love it."
"I'm glad. You and the girls got me this lovely ring last year, and, well, we wanted to make sure you had something special, too," Miranda said.
"The red ones are for Cate and me," Callie said, pointing, "and the white ones are for Caroline and Cassidy, and the green one is for Mommy."
"Oh wow, how cool is that!" Andrea said. She knew her daughter was proud of her explanation. "You know what else that means? That Mommy's birthday is coming up soon."
"Really?" Cate asked, looking up at Miranda.
She nodded and smiled. "For my birthday this year, I wantlet me think about this. Breakfast in bed, lots and lots of hugs and kisses, snuggle time, a vanilla birthday cake, and more hugs and kisses." She smiled and looked at her two youngest daughters. "Did I forget anything?"
"I think we can get you everything on your list," Cassidy said, "right?"
"Yes!" the girls shouted in unison.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm ready for lunch," Andrea said. "Thank you again for the wonderful presents, girls. Who wants to help me in the kitchen?"
Cate, Callie, and Caroline eagerly followed Andrea into the kitchen while Cassidy took the DVD out and put The Philadelphia Story back in.
"Sweetheart," Miranda said, gesturing for Cassidy to sit next to her on the couch, "thank you again. It was a beautiful video, and I think you have some real talent, too. Would you like to take a photography or design class this summer, maybe?"
She shrugged. "I don't know, I never really thought about it. I mean, it couldn't hurt."
"Good. I'll ask Patrick for some information and then you can take a look. Um, I wanted to thank you, too, for making Andrea feel special this year, too."
"Of course, she's our mom, too," Cassidy said.
"I know, and I love it that you think of her that wayit's just, I think she still feels a little left out sometimes. So, thank you for that."
Cassidy reached over and hugged her mother. "Want to watch a few minutes while they finish lunch?"
Miranda nodded while Cassidy turned on the DVD player and fast-forwarded to her favorite scene the night before the wedding. "You always did love to watch this with me, why is that?"
Cassidy shrugged. "I remember hearing it a lot growing up. It seemed like it was always on, or I was always falling asleep to it or something. And you're not usually into movies, so that makes it even more special."
"Oh, Cassidy, I don't know what I would do without you," she said, wrapping her arms around her as she laid her head on her chest. "You're so grown-up already, but you'll always be my baby girl."
"Thanks, Mom," she said, squeezing her hand tightly.
In May of 2015, Caroline and Cassidy graduated from high school. As a graduation present, James took them on a two-week trip to Europe in June. Caroline would be attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the fall to study business and communications, while Cassidy would attend Yale to study liberal arts since she was still a little unsure what she wanted to do. They were all so proud of the girlseven Cate and Callie couldn't stop telling their friends about their big sisters going to college.
Also, that summer, Miranda began to slowly step away from her Editor-in-Chief duties. Irv Ravitz called it quits a few years prior, and Jackson Caldwell took his seat on the Board. Irv hadn't tried anything since Paris in 2006, but that cloud of uncertainty hung in the halls until Jackson stepped in. He, unlike Irv, knew that Runway was and would continue to be the company's most profitable venture. He worked closely with Miranda to find ways for Elias Clarke to make strides in the digital publishing space, including everything from exclusive video content to high-quality iPad editions. She promoted Serena to Senior Editor in June, with the understanding that she would take the next eleven months to ensure Serena had the right connectionsand to clear out of her office.
"Hey Mom," Cassidy said, waving at her iPhone.
"Hi Bobbsey," Miranda said, smiling back through FaceTime. "What is going on with your hair?"
She laughed. "Um, I let Chelsea, my roommate, give me a blow-out. It's pretty huge, huh?"
"I'll say. Looks like a wig," she said. "Did you get the box that Uncle Nigel sent you last week? He was cleaning out the closet and thought you'd like that poncho."
"Yes!" Cassidy said. "In his note, he said he tried giving it to Andy when she worked at Runway, but she wouldn't wear it."
"Good. Don't forget to send him an email or text thanking him. He asks after you and your sister all the time," Miranda said.
"Is he still giving Cate and Callie dance lessons?"
"Oh, of course. He and Michael came over in tutus on Saturday, and the girls loved it. You'll have to ask them."
"I'll give them a call this weekend. How's work? Anything new with you and Andy?"
"Work is good. Serena is doing a remarkable job. I don't think she really needs me around, so I'm working shorter days and slowly but surely packing everything up," Miranda said.
"Good. And Andy? She emailed me a few days ago and said John was stepping down. Do you think she's going to get his job?"
"Well, there's nothing official yet, but, yes, that is the plan."
"Awesome! Is she excited?"
"I think so. It's a great opportunity for her."
Miranda smiled. Cassidy could always read her so well. "Her 35th birthday is coming up and I don't know what to get her."
"Oh, Mom. You seriously do this every single year. Why don't you just marry her already? I mean, you can only promise it so many times," she said.
Miranda stared at her with a confused look on her face.
"You've been engaged for what, eight years? And it's been totally legal for at least the past five. You two always said you'd do it someday."
"Sweetheart, do you think you and Caroline could meet us in the city in a few weeks on a Friday afternoon?" Miranda asked.
"Sure. I've got Fall Break in two weeks, so I was planning to come home anyway. I think Penn has their break the week after ours, but I don't think Care has class on Fridays this semester. So, are you doing a big party, too?"
"No. Andrea doesn't want that. Okay, I have to go. Andrea is home. I'll email you, sweetie. Love you. Call us if you need anything."
"Okay, bye. Tell Andy I said congrats on the job," Cassidy said.
Andrea walked up to Miranda and kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks Cass," she said. "Everything going okay? Oh, nice hair."
Cassidy smiled. "Yep, I'm good. Talk to you later. Love ya!"
Miranda closed the iPad and pulled Andrea onto her lap. "How was work, darling?"
"Linda called me into her office today and offered me John's job."
"That's wonderful!" Miranda said, hugging her tightly. "You accepted, of course?"
"Yes. I was shocked, though, when I realized his salary was three times what I'm currently making. I mean, how ridiculous is it that executives are getting paid so much and there are hard-working people struggling to provide for their families?"
"Honey, did you say anything?" Miranda asked.
"No. I just shook her hand and said 'thank you,'" Andrea said. "But I think, since we already have college funds setup for Cate and Callie, we should really start getting involved with a charity organization."
Miranda smiled. "I think that's a wonderful idea. I've been looking around a little, you know, so I can occupy myself once I leave Runway, and CFACity Foundation for the Artscould be a good option for us both. Personally, I'd like to see them expand and include more fashion- and design-related programs, as well as more programs for LGBT youth, and I'm sure you would be interested in some of their initiatives for aspiring journalists."
"Sounds good," Andrea said. She bent down and kissed Miranda deeply. "The girls won't be home for another hour or so," she said, gently biting the other woman's lower lip.
Miranda inhaled sharply and firmly grabbed Andrea's ass. "I doubt we'll need that long," she whispered.
An hour later, they were sitting on the couch in the den, staring out the window in a peaceful silence, waiting for JacobRoy's twenty-seven-year-old son and their new driverto bring the girls home from school.
"Andrea," Miranda asked, looking up at her. "Will you marry me?"
The younger woman smiled. "Of course, but, um, haven't we already been through that? Isn't that why I wear this everyday?" she asked, flaunting her diamond.
"I meant, will you come with me to City Clerk's office so we can get a marriage license, and then sometime in the next sixty days, accompany me to City Hall so we can make it official?"
"Yes. Yes!" Andrea said, hugging her tightly. "You really want to do it?"
"Yes," Miranda said. "I've never stopped thinking about it, and, well, with your birthday coming up, I wanted to do something special."
"Would you want a party? A traditional ceremony?"
"It's entirely up to you," Miranda said. "Just tell me what it is that you want and I'll make it happen."
"I want it to be just us. City Hall or wherever. Maybe the girls can be our witnesses," she said. "And, no party or anything. It's kind of selfish, but I just want to celebrate with you. Is that okay?"
"I couldn't think of anything better," Miranda said with a smile as their daughters burst through the front door.
Their wedding in early November was nothing short of perfect. Caroline and Cassidy both surprised Andrea by showing up at City Hall with them, and after they exchanged their simple, but honest vows, they left for a weeklong honeymoon in the Hamptons while Helen and Mary Ann stayed in the city with the girls.
It was cool, grey, and rainy, but as she sat on the back porch swing with her wife, looking out at the ocean, there wasn't a single thing Miranda would change. She wasn't worried about any upcoming photo shoots or uninspired layouts. She wasn't worried about how much time her daughters were spending playing games on their iPads, or how many parties her other daughters were going to where alcohol was involved. She wasn't worried about growing old or sagging skin. She wasn't worried about making a statement in the latest of Lagerfeld's creations. She wasn't even worried about dying twenty years before her wife. Because, this week, none of it mattered. That week, she was wearing mismatched loungewear, sitting on the porch swing with a wool sweater. She wasn't wearing any makeup, and she put a bobby pin in her hair to hold her bangs back. None of it mattered because she was wrapped up in her wife's arms, watching the waves crash against the sand.
For Christmas that year, Catherine and Callie wanted to spend the holidays somewhere that wasn't New York City. Miranda suggested somewhere warm, with a beach, thinking they were just tired of the weather, but they turned that down right away. When Andrea suggested getting a cabin in Aspen, Colorado, they loved it. None of them were too keen about skiing, so they spent most of the time relaxing in the peace and quiet, sitting around a fireplace and watching the snow fall.
Cassidy told her family about a boy she was dating, and she hinted that he was going to ask her to go with his family to the Dominican Republic for Spring Break. Miranda and Andrea, of course, both wanted to meet him first, so they planned a trip out to visit her in Connecticut for the end of January.
Caroline, on the other hand, was doing really well in her studies, and she was now majoring in international communications and business. She told them about a program she was applying for at Penn where ten international business majors would be selected for a weeklong immersion program in Hong Kong over Spring Break. Andrea was very encouraging, and they told her they would be sure to visit her in Philadelphia soon, especially if they didn't get to see her over break.
A few months later, Cassidy was home in New York (she and her boyfriend broke up before their trip) while Caroline was studying in Hong Kong. Miranda was a nervous wreck, so Andrea talked to Serena and made sure she had a time-consuming project at work to keep her mind off the fact that her nineteen-year-old daughter was on the other side of the world.
Andrea took a few days off to spend with Cassidy, and for the most part, they were able to plan everything for Miranda's 60th birthday party in May.
"So, we're going to tell Mom that Uncle Nigel is giving her a little retirement party, just for her close friends, but in actuality, it's going to be a huge party with friends, family, designers, the works, right?"
Andrea nodded. "If she asks him for details, Nigel's going to tell her it will be a quaint dinner in the Conrad Suite at Waldorf Astoria, when in reality, we'll have the main ballroom. I'll tell her that the five of us are going out for a nice dinner, too, so she won't get suspicious."
"I still can't believe Elias Clarke is paying for half of this," Cassidy said.
"I know. They didn't have to, but it's nice that they recognize everything your mother has done for that magazine over the years. Now, before we send the final guest list to her assistant, let's make sure we didn't leave anyone off. Then, we should book flights and make hotel reservations for my parents, my cousins, and then James' parents, too. Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but let's not tell Cate and Callie until that night."
"You know, I'm starting to see what attracted Mom to you ten years ago," Cassidy said, smiling as she leaned back against the couch.
"What?" Andrea asked, blushing slightly.
"You're organized. You think of everything. You have a plan and a back-up, and a back-up to the back-up. You make pulling off a party with a 1,000+ person guest list seem like it's no big deal."
"Well, it's not a big deal if you do it correctly."
Cassidy grinned. "I'm so glad Mom found you," she said.
"You know, there are still some days when I wake up and feel like it's all been a dream. You've welcomed me into your family and it's just it's really been a dream," Andrea said, hugging her.
"Mom could have never handled it all without you."
"Do you think she'll cry at the party?" Andrea asked.
They exchanged glances and both erupted in laughter. "Oh, you kill me, Andy. You know she's going to be a sobbing mess. We'll have to bring her makeup."
A few months later, Miranda called Andrea from her office. "Hi, are you busy?"
"Nope, what's up?" Andrea said.
"Can you slip away for a while and come join me here?"
"Sure, where's 'here?'"
"I'm leaving now," Andrea said, grabbing her bag and heading out the door. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes. Thank you, Andrea."
"Of course. See you in ten minutes." She quickly hailed a cab and dialed Nigel's number as she was on her way. "Nige, what's going on with my wife? She wants to see me in her office."
"Yes. I think she's a bit nostalgic. The movers left about an hour ago with the last of her things, and they started taking the couch out, explaining that Serena ordered new furniture."
"Ohh, shit. Bad timing, huh?"
"Yeah. They cleared it up, though. They're not touching anything until she leaves today."
"Is it bad? I mean, do you think she'll be okay for the party tomorrow?" Andrea asked, getting out of the car and heading into the building.
"Nothing you can't fix, sweetie. I've gotta go. Good luck!"
Andrea took a deep breath and walked down the hall. The assistants were sitting at the desk, and she kindly asked them to relocate to the conference room for the rest of the day. She quietly opened the office doors and shut them behind her.
Miranda was sitting on the large windowsill behind her desk. Her shoes were on the floor, and she had her feet tucked up underneath her. "Thirty years " she said quietly.
Andrea walked over and stood behind her, wrapping her arms around the woman and resting her chin on her shoulder. "You'll have to get used to a different view," she said.
"I can't believe it's all over," Miranda said.
"Tell me what you liked most about this office. What was your favorite memory?"
Miranda smiled and wiped a stray tear from her eye. "I'll never forget the day I brought Cate and Callie here to the office. I think it was the only time I ever sat on the floor."
"I remember that, too," Andrea said. "What about thirty years ago? Did you have the same furniture and everything?"
"No. I changed it in 2002, right after the World Trade Center well, everything just needed a refresh. The colors were darker before that, more like our study at home. It just made sense to redo everything in white and ivory."
"Was there anything you ever wanted to do here, but didn't get the chance?" Andrea asked.
"I can't believe it's over," she repeated, shaking her head.
"I know," Andrea said. "I can't think of the right analogy, but you still have so much to offer, Miranda."
She quickly turned around. "I know that. Oh, darling, please. I'm just a little sad, not beside myself. The girls are still in middle school, and I'm glad I'll never miss another event because of this magazine. And we have so many new memories to make "
Andrea gently kissed Miranda on the cheek and took her hands. "Indulge me, then?"
Miranda nodded and let herself be led from the sill. The younger woman pressed a few buttons on her iPhone, then set it on the desk. Miranda smiled as the familiar tune by Cole Porter began to fill the room.
"Dance with me," she said.
Miranda wrapped her arm around Andrea's neck and slowly danced around her office, humming as she swayed to the music. When it stopped, Miranda stood on her tip-toes and kissed her.
"I can think of something else we've never done in this office," Andrea whispered.
"No. We've made enough memories here," Miranda said, walking over to the windowsill and putting on her shoes. "I'm ready to leave."
The next morning, Cassidy and Caroline made breakfast for the girls and took them out for manicures and pedicures, giving their moms some time alone. Around five o'clock, everyone started to get ready. Miranda thought it was a wonderful idea for Andrea to take the girls out, and part of her wanted to skip her little dinner party that Nigel arranged just so that she could join them.
Jacob came by to pick up Andrea and the girls in the limousine, and they said goodbye to Miranda, rushing out the door so they wouldn't miss their reservation. About thirty minutes later, a town car pulled up for Miranda and she was shocked and delighted when Roy stepped out and opened the door for her.
"Roy, my goodness, it's been years. How are you and Kathleen?" Miranda said, hugging and kissing him on the cheek.
"We've been doing well. Thank you," he said. "I'm glad Jacob is working out."
"You have no idea how much I appreciate your family's loyalty. Thank you," she said, sliding into the backseat.
At the Waldorf Astoria, Michelle, one of the assistant managers, met Miranda out front and led her inside.
"I thought this was in the Conrad suite?" Miranda asked as Michelle led her in the opposite direction of the east elevators.
"Yes, we unfortunately have some emergency maintenance repairs on the main elevators. We'll just cut through the ballroom and use the north elevators."
Miranda nodded and followed her, thinking about what her girls would be talking about at the restaurant. When Michelle opened the doors to the ballroom, and turned on the lights, Miranda looked up and saw familiar faces: Andrea, her daughters, Nigel, Serena & Emily. She froze for a moment, then felt Andrea take her hand. "Andrea, what's going on? I thought you and the girls were"
"We lied," Andrea said. "Happy birthday, my love," she whispered, taking Miranda's coat and bag.
"Miranda," Nigel said, hugging and kissing her. "I apologize for deceiving you, but everyone wanted to celebrate your amazing thirty-five year run at Runway."
Miranda's eyes finally adjusted and she took in everyone in the room. "NigelIeveryone is here. I don't know what to say."
"Well, don't cry or anything. Everyone's watching you," he whispered.
She smirked and slapped him in the shoulder before turning to Serena and hugging her.
"Miranda, I'm going to get up and say a few words shortlydid you want to say anything?" Serena asked.
She took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, just a few words. There's no way I'll be able to talk to everyone here tonight. Thank you, Serena."
"Mommy!" Cate said, running up to her and giving her a big hug. Miranda picked her up and kissed her on the nose. "Happy Birthday, Mom!"
"And Happy Retirement!" Callie said, hugging her from the other side.
Miranda set Cate down and hugged both her girls. "I have to say hello to a lot of people. Will you girls mind coming with me?" she asked.
Everything about the party was perfecteven Miranda's impromptu speech. Around ten o'clock, Cassidy and Caroline said their goodbyes and took their younger sisters home. Miranda and Andrea followed a bit later, while Serena's assistants stayed around until the last guests left.
"Where is everyone staying?" Miranda asked while they were getting ready for bed.
"Our family has four or five rooms at the Four Seasons. They're all heading back tomorrow afternoon. The girls are going to have breakfast with themtheir grandparents, at least. I didn't make any promises for us," Andrea said.
"Let's go. We hardly ever get to see George and Richard," she said. "Wait, I mean, if you're too busy, we don't have to go. I'm sorry. I forgot you still have to go to work on Monday."
Andrea shrugged. "Work will get done. I'm glad you enjoyed the party. Let's get some sleep."
Over the next few months, Miranda kept herself busy with charity work. She was invited as a guest lecturer at the 92nd Street YMCA, and recently there was speculation about an opening on the CFDA's Board of Directors.
Other than that, Cate and Callie kept them very busy. Between school projects, after school clubs, field trips, and spending time with their friends, Miranda sometimes felt like she saw them less now than when she was working full time.
Every year, it seemed like May was the most hectic month. Cassidy and Caroline came back from school for summer vacation, but for the first few weeks, Cate and Callie still had classes at Dalton. This year, the girls had just turned twenty years old. Cate and Callie were two months shy of their tenth birthday, but Miranda and Andrea couldn't agree on a party venue. Miranda wanted a pool party at their house in the Hamptons, but Andrea thought it was too dangerous.
"Hey Andy, why are you still up?" Cassidy asked as she walked by the study. "Can I come in?"
"Of course," Andrea said, closing her laptop. "I was just trying to get ahead of some work so I would be free this weekend. What's up?"
"Nothing. I'm just trying to catch up on my TV shows. Would you believe I missed the last season of Gossip Girl?" Cassidy said, sitting on the couch.
"Wow, you've been busy, huh?"
"Yeah. I'm taking two classes this summer, though, so it won't be that way for long."
"At CUNY, right? Which ones? Wasn't there a computer one?"
"Yep. Introduction to HTML5 and Advanced Photography. I'm really looking forward to using my new camera you got me for my birthday. Maybe by the end of the summer, I can build my own website for my work," she said.
"That would be really great, Cass. If you need help, I know our website editor at work is pretty cool and I'm sure he'd be willing to give you some tips."
"What's Caroline planning on doing this summer?" Andrea asked.
Cassidy rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't know what to tell you. She's spent every waking moment with Brian, and I literally haven't have five minutes to talk to her," she said.
"Is she asleep now?"
"Uh, no. Sheshe's not home yet," Cassidy said.
"What??" Andrea hissed.
Cassidy took a deep breath. "We went to meet our friends for a movie, right? And then stopped for Italian ice, and met up with some other friends. They were all going back to Brian's house to hang out. I guess his parents are out of town. I didn't want to go so I came home."
"Without your sister? Sweetie, I don't want you taking cabs by yourself at night," Andrea said. "And where is Caroline? When is she coming home?"
Cassidy shrugged. "She didn't say. She's kind of bitchy when she's with Brian. Like she's pissed that she has to share the air space with anyone else."
Andrea looked at the clock. It was just past midnight. "Cass, why don't you go get some sleep, and try not to wake your mom or your sisters. I'm going to call Caroline."
"Okay. Goodnight, Andy. Sorry."
"Sweetie, come here," she said, opening her arms and wrapping the young girl in a hug. "I love you. You don't have to apologize. I'm just worried about your sisterand what your mother will say when she finds out," Andrea said, kissing her on the forehead.
Cassidy left the room and Andrea quickly dialed Caroline's number and left a voicemail: Hey Care, it's Andy. Call me back immediately. Love you.
A few minutes later, the phone rang. "Caroline?"
"Hey Andy, what's going on?"
"Caroline, where are you?"
"I'm at Brian's," she said. "It's late, so I'm just going to stay over here."
"Honey, I don't think that's a good idea. Let me come pick you up."
"What? No. I'm not a little kid!"
"Caroline, you have to tell us if you're making plans to stay somewhere else. We worry. And I don't like the idea of you letting your sister come home by herself. Where are you?I'll come get you."
"No. Don't! God, that would be so embarrassing. I'm fine. It's not like I have to tell you what I do every night when I'm at school. Why is it any different now?" Caroline said.
"Honey, I hate to break it to you, but when you're living under this roof, you have to at least tell us where you are. This is not a revolving door."
Caroline sighed. "Does Mom know?"
"No," Andrea said. "And I don't want to wake her up and make her a nervous wreck. It would behoove you to come back first thing in the morning, though."
"Behoove? I'm going to pretend you didn't say that. Thanks for covering for me, Andy."
"Care, I am not 'covering' for you! If I knew where your boyfriend lived, I would be in the car this very minute. We will sit down and talk about this when you get home."
"Okay. Sorry, Andy. I'll be home in the morning. I love you."
"Love you, too, Care. Please be safe tonight. Use protection, will you?" Andrea said.
"Yes, we're good. Thanks, Andy. Goodnight, love you, too," she said, hanging up the phone.
That morning, Miranda woke up early and made breakfast for the girls before taking them to school. Andrea arranged to work from home in the morning, explaining to Miranda she was in the middle of something and didn't want to break her focus. In reality, she was a little nervous and wanted to wait for Caroline to get home.
The minute Miranda stepped out the door, Andrea texted Caroline: Are you coming home?
She replied immediately: On my way!
When Andrea heard the front door open, she practically ran downstairs and was surprised to see Miranda. "Oh, it's youyou're back already," she said.
"Of course. I get home at this time every morning. I thought you were workingwere you expecting someone else?" Miranda asked with a smile.
Just then, the front door opened and Caroline slipped inside, carefully closing it so it wouldn't make a sound. She gasped when she saw her mother and Andy staring at her.
Miranda's eyes went from the Manolo Blanhik heels to the BCBG miniskirt to the off-the-rack satin tank and blazer. Her eye makeup was smudged into what was crudely called 'raccoon eyes,' and her hair was tied up in a ponytail.
"Caroline " Miranda said in a low, quiet voice neither of them had heard in a long time.
"Care, go upstairs now. Take a shower and get cleaned up, then your mother and I will be in to talk to you," Andrea said.
"Mom, I'm sorry. I spent the night at a friend's. I lost track of time, and then it was too late to come home. I talked to Andy, though, and she said it was okay," Caroline babbled.
"Caroline. Upstairs, now," Andrea said, pointing up the staircase.
She bent down and took off her heels before running up the stairs two-at-a-time. Miranda turned to Andrea, her eyes glowing with rage. "Do you mind telling me what the hell is going on?"
Andrea reached for Miranda's hands, but she quickly pulled away. "Look, Miranda. I was going to tell you. I was awake last night, which is how I heard Cassidy come in and realized Caroline wasn't with her."
"And that's when you just told her it was fine to stay out all night and come home looking like a hooker?"
"Miranda, please calm down. I wanted to pick her up, but she convinced me she was okay. She promised she was safe."
"Who are you to let my daughter decide whether she's being safe in the middle of the night in New York City!?" Miranda shouted.
Andrea took a deep breath. "The girls are twenty years old. They need to make their own decisions. I certainly wasn't condoning her sleeping over at her boyfriend'sI made"
"Wait, boyfriend's? You let her spend the night at her boyfriend's house?"
Andrea took a deep breath. "I made it very clear that it was not okay and that we would all talk about this tonight. But I also know that as parents, we can't tell a twenty-year-old what to do. We can only encourage her to make smart decisions, and to be safe about it."
"Oh, so we're just supposed to suggest she comes home at a decent hour, but if she doesn't want to, send her with a box of condoms? Is that what you're saying? Clearly, you're the one with the parenting experience."
"Okay, first, I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that. Miranda, come on. At least I talk to them about sex. Your daughters are beautiful young women going through some of the craziest, best years of their lives. Instead of supporting them, you're in some sort of denial. So what if I made sure she had condoms? Whether you like it or not, your daughters are going to have sex. They're going to have sexwith boys, or maybe girls, who knows. And unless you're ready for grandchildrenI know I'm notI'm going to keep encouraging them to use protection," Andrea said before she turned and marched up the stairs.
"Where are you going?"
"To sit and wait for Caroline to get out of the shower."
Miranda followed her upstairs in silence. In Caroline's bedroom, Andrea leaned against the desk while Miranda took a seat on the edge of the bed next to Caroline, who was already out of the shower.
"Caroline," Miranda said, "I am disappointed in you. I thought I raised you better than that."
While Miranda continued lecturing her daughter, Andrea noticed Cassidy standing in the doorway. She softly waved her inside and moved over so she could lean against the desk, too.
"Nothing good happens after midnight, Caroline. As long as you're living in this house, you will be home by eleven-thirty!" Miranda said.
"Stop treating me like a fucking child!" Caroline shouted. "I'm not a bad kid. I stayed out too late one time, Mom! At least when Andy is pissed, she still respects me and treats me like an adult."
"Oh, because she tells you to use condoms, she's the better parent?" Miranda hissed. "I won't have my daughters becoming some unmarried teen pregnancy statistic!"
"First, we're not teenagers anymore. Second, I should have known that you were only concerned with what people would think of you," Caroline said. "Well don't worry. I'm nothing like you. Extramarital affairs and unplanned pregnancies aren't my style!"
"Caroline Samantha Priestly!!" Miranda shouted. "Don't you dare talk to me like that!" she screamed. She was visibly upsether face was red, her fists were clenched, and she was shaking.
Andrea quietly wrapped her arm around Cassidy.
"Just because Andy accepts it without question doesn't mean we do," Caroline said quietly through her tears. "Mom, can't you see what a double standard that is? I'm twenty, and you're freaking out because you think I had sex last nightwhich I didn't, if anyone cares to hear the truthbut yet, you slept around and won't even tell Andy, your wife, who the father of her own children is. You are not in a position to judge me, Mom."
Miranda opened her mouth to speak a few times, but couldn't find the words. After a few minutes of silence, she cleared her throat. "Caroline, is this about Catherine and Callie's father? If this has been bothering you so much, why haven't you said something?"
"We tried, Mom. We've been trying for the past ten years. You just kept lying and saying they didn't have a father. At some point, we realized that was biologically impossible, so we just stopped asking," Caroline said.
Miranda looked up at Andrea who was standing on the other side of the room with her arm around Cassidy. Her eyes were closed as she pressed a kiss to Cassidy's forehead. "Andrea? Do you have anything to say or did you spew out all you had to say downstairswhen you tried to explain why you were encouraging my daughters to have sex?"
Cassidy jumped away from the desk. "Don't talk to Andy like that," she said. "She is just as much our mother as you are. It's easier to talk to her about stuff like thatespecially stuff that you just want to pretend isn't happening. She hardly 'encourages' us, but like Care said, she treats us like adults and respects us. She answers our questions and then always says," Cass looked over at Caroline.
"'If you're going to be stupid, at least do it safely,'" they both said in unison.
Cassidy reached back and squeezed Andrea's hand, but the brunette was looking down at the ground.
"Mom, don't get mad at Andy because of this. If you want us to trust you enough to talk to you about this well, I think you have to start with admitting that you cheated on Stephen and got yourself pregnant. And, I mean, you act like you did nothing wrong, but when it comes to us, one late night and I'm a hooker, isn't that what you said? It's not fair, Mom," Caroline said.
Miranda looked up with tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't set a better example for you," she said quietly.
"Mom," Cassidy said. "We love you no matter what."
"We get that you want to make sure we don't make the same mistakes you did, but" Caroline was cut off.
"Catherine and Callie were not mistakes!" Miranda snapped.
"I know," Caroline said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. It's just, how can we learn from your past experiences if you're refusing to acknowledge that it even happened? We're not ten years old anymore."
Silence filled the room. Andrea had no intention of opening her mouth, and she prayed that the girls would just let this conversation die, despite how much she agreed with them.
"Mom," Caroline continued, "if you're not going to be honest with us about it, like I said before, you have absolutely no right to judge my decisions, which, by the way, do happen to be better than yours." She jumped up from the bed and began walking out of her room.
"Wait!" Miranda called. "Wait, Caroline, please. We're not through."
Caroline stopped and stood near Cassidy.
Miranda turned to Andrea. "What about you? Do you think that? Does it bother you that I haven't been honest? That I won't talk about it? Tell me the truth."
"Miranda, it's been ten years," she said. "I think there was a time when it bothered me very much, but now " Andrea shrugged. "I do think Caroline has a valid point, though."
"Why didn't you tell me it bothered you?"
"Well, I tried to, but I never wanted it to lead to a huge fight. I just had to accept that not knowing was part of the packagethat there were some things you would never trust me enough to share with me," she said, wiping the tears from her eyes.
Miranda saw the hurt and disappointment in Andrea's eyes and it nearly broke her heart. "I'm sorry," she cried, looking over at her daughters. "I didn't say anything at first because I thought Andrea wouldn't want to be with me if she knew the truththat she wouldn't be able to trust me, to love me."
"Obviously, in spite of this, she's still with you," Cassidy said.
Andrea walked over to the bed and sat next to Miranda. She picked up her hand and wrapped her arm around the woman's shoulders. "I love you and will continue to love you for the rest of my life," she whispered. "No matter what you have to say or whether you even say anything at all."
"I don't deserve this," Miranda said.
"Girls, why don't you give us a few minutes?"
"No, wait," Miranda said. "Let them stay. They're adultsyou've all proven your point. I guess it's about time I'm honest with you."
"Miranda, you don't have to," Andrea said. Somewhere deep inside, she wasn't sure she wanted to hear whatever it was Miranda had to say. Somehow, she thought it might be better if her promises weren't put to the test.
"No. If I don't say this now, it will drive a wedge between usme and you anyway," she said, looking at Caroline. She took a deep breath. "I've done things that I'm not proud of. I thought that not talking about it would make it disappear, but I think we all know it hasn't. I don't know who their father is," she said.
Cassidy and Caroline exchanged glances, and Andrea's mouth opened a little as she held her hand.
"We were at a partysome holiday gathering for Stephen's company. I didn't want to be there, but we promised to accompany each other to one work event each year and, well, this was the last one, and I had to go. He spent the night chasing after one of the cocktail waitresses, and I, well, I stayed at the bar all evening. I guess there are multiple lessons in here. Stephen left without even telling me. Once everyone was gone and the bartender began to close up, I grabbed my things and was heading towards the lobby to find a cab. A young man offered his arm as I was losing my balance, and he invited me upstairs for some coffee to sober up. He told me I was too gorgeous to be leaving alone. And, god, this sounds awful, but it had been so long since I truly felt desirable. A perfect stranger The next thing I knew, well, I woke up in bed next to him without my clothes. It was something like three in the morning. I got up to use the bathroom and threw up from all the alcohol I'd consumed on an empty stomach. I washed my face, then slipped on my dress and coat and had the front desk call me a cab home. And, well, that's all I remember," she said.
"I'm so sorry," she said quietly, turning to Andrea. "I initially had no reason to contact him, and then by the time I found out I was pregnant, I had no way of finding him. I don't even remember what color hair he had," she said, crying quietly.
Andrea hugged her and took her face in her hands, smiling. "I'll never understand why it was so hard for you to say that, but thank you," she said, kissing her.
Miranda wiped her eyes and laid her head on Andrea's shoulder, looking up at the girls. "Girls, can you forgive mefor not setting a very good example, and for keeping this from you?"
"Mom, of course," Cassidy said, climbing up on the bed and hugging Miranda from behind.
Caroline nodded her head and sat next to Miranda. "I'm sorry I brought this up, Mom. I didn't mean to make you so upset."
Miranda rolled her eyes. "Bobbsey, I should have told you long ago. You were rightI haven't really been treating you two like adults. I've made plenty of questionable decisions, and if talking about it can help you to make better choices, that's what we'll do. Come here," she said, pulling her daughters into a big hug.
Andrea cleared her throat and said she needed to send a few quick emails to her assistant, letting her know that she wouldn't be going into the office today. Caroline and Cassidy offered to go downstairs and make lunch, giving the two women some time alone.
Miranda found Andrea in the study and sat next to her on the couch. "I can't tell you how much better I feel after telling you that," she said, taking a deep breath. "I never realized how much guilt I was carrying around."
Andrea smiled as she closed her laptop and set it on the coffee table. "I'm a little relieved, maybe. You have no idea what's been going through my mind these past ten years," she said.
"Really? Like what?" Miranda asked.
"Well, for one, any time you mentioned a meeting or dinner with one of the guys on the Board, I found myself analyzing their facial structure and hair color and trying to figure out if the girls looked like any of them."
Miranda covered her face with her hands. "Are you terribly upset with me?"
"For overreacting about Caroline, yes. For not telling me about the twins' father, no. But, I doubt this will keep my mind from wandering every time I see you with a handsome man."
"Well, now we can at least talk about it. I have to admit I've had those thoughts, too. Especially if someone approaches me as if they know me but I don't remember themwhich, as you know, happens a lot," Miranda said.
Andrea laughed. "I think it's good that you told the girls."
"I think so, too," Miranda said. "They have your blood type, you know."
"Cate and Callie?"
Miranda nodded. "A negative."
"What are you?"
"O positive," she said. "I'm sure they're going to ask about their father someday. When they discover that it'show did Caroline say itbiologically impossible that you're the other parent."
"I know. And we'll have to tell them something. Let's just cross that bridge when we come to it," Andrea said. "Let's go downstairs and have something to eat."
"Wait," Miranda said. "Are you sure we're okay?"
Andrea watched her closely. "We are. I think there's a little bit more, but I trust that you'll tell me when you're ready."
"No," Miranda said. "I mean, can we just finish talking about it now? This is a conversation I'm not too keen on revisiting."
"Speak now or forever hold your peace?" Andrea said with a smirk.
"Something like that," Miranda said, curling up against Andrea's chest. "I'm so conflicted about all of this. I spent months hating myself for being so reckless. I'm fifty years old and I had drunken sex with a stranger. Teenagers make mistakes like that, not fifty-year-olds. I never thought I would be able to face the girls if they knew what happened. Andwhat if the girls would have looked like him?"
"Miranda, why didn't you talk to me?"
"I couldn't. Don't you see? I was so ashamed but the thought of those two pure, perfect little baby girls gave me hope. And youI didn't think you'd stay. I was mortified when you asked me about the father, and I thought for sure you'd want no part of all this. And then, you did stay, and you never asked me again. After all that, I didn't want to risk bringing it up because I didn't want to risk losing you."
"But I told you I wasn't leaving," Andrea said.
"I know. I would have told me that, too. But, I don't think I could have followed through."
"Miranda, I feel as if by being supportive, I've only made it more difficult for you emotionally. Tell me what I can do," Andrea said.
Miranda kissed her and wrapped her arms tightly around the woman's shoulders. "You are doing it, darling. You're loving my daughters. You're a wonderful parentthe best co-parent I could ask for. You must know I didn't mean what I said before."
"I know. We all say things we don't mean when we're upset," Andrea said. "How would you like to get out of the house for a little bit and take a walk with me?"
Miranda sat up and wiped her eyes. "Okay," she said. They stood from the couch and made their way to the foyer where Miranda pulled her dark sunglasses from her bag and headed out to the front steps.
Andrea quickly ducked her head into the kitchen. "We're going for a walk. If we aren't home, please pick up your sisters at school. Half past three, but you'll need to give yourselves extra time because of the resurfacing on Broadway," she said.
"Got it, Mom. We'll take care of it," Caroline said.
Andrea smiled and her eyes welled up. Cassidy and Caroline hardly ever called her that. "Don't get into any trouble while we're out. If you're going to be stupid," she said, "well, you know the rest." She quickly grabbed her phone and ran out to meet Miranda on the front porch.
They walked to Central Park in silence. There was no need to discuss whether to take 3rd Avenue to 72nd Street or to cut across 63rd Street and follow 5th Avenue all the way. There was no need for small talk, for holding hands, for discussing the weather. After ten years, they found that words weren't always necessary.
Today was one of those days.
They could have discussed their future, shared their thoughts on Caroline's boyfriend, or their concerns that Cassidy couldn't settle on an academic major. They could have talked about the girls' upcoming tenth birthday party, or what they would buy for Ethan, the little boy Serena and Emily were finally able to adopt.
But they didn't.
Andrea could have spent the time telling Miranda how much she loved herhow she would always love and cherish her. Miranda could have told her how grateful she is each and every day that she has the love of such an incredible woman. They could have discussed moving into a new house with fewer stairs and more bedrooms for when family comes to visit. They could have talked about how pale lavender was Miranda's latest favorite color, despite the fact that most women, including herself, were too pale to wear it.
They could have talked about a million things, but instead, they said nothing at all.
On that sunny spring afternoon, walking through Central Park with the love of her life, Miranda Priestly's heart was filled with an indescribable happiness. When Andrea reached down and laced their fingers together, she knew that she felt it, too.
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