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 qhfletcher[at]gmail.com
A Day At The Beach
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
Miranda stood on the lanai and glared at the three scantily clad bodies that lay stretched in the sun like a trio of lazy cats. Periodically one or the other would rise and stroll languidly across the sand to submerge herself in the clear blue water of the lagoon. After a short swim, she'd exit onto the sand, liquid streaming down tanned skin, to take her place amongst her peers. Miranda couldn't help watching the display, especially of one long body. Her eyes feasted on expanses of naked flesh, greedily sliding over curves and valleys. She wasn't aware of the low growl vibrating in her chest as a bottle of tanning lotion passed from hand to hand and the three lubed each other with slow, caressing movements. How dare they touch what should be exclusively hers?
"Well, I must say, glaring and growling is a productive way to spend a day in paradise," Nigel commented as he stepped from the shadows of the house to stand beside Miranda. "It seems our photographer is recovering nicely and should be fit enough to begin work in the morning. Who knew I needed to check for seafood allergies prior to hiring a grown man? You'd think he'd have enough sense to realize conch comes from the sea."
"Were it not for the fact he will recover faster than we can get a replacement here, I'd have Emily stuffing conch down his throat," Miranda snapped, her icy gaze never leaving the women on the beach. "What kind of activity is sunbathing for three grown women? Have they never heard of skin cancer?"
"Miranda, how often do they get two free days to simply be? Let them enjoy. Besides, they're making liberal use of the sunscreen and at a very high SPF," Nigel admonished.
She spared him a quick, derisive glance before returning to the objects, or more accurately the object, of her fixation. "They're practically naked," she snarled. "Surely, you could have found more decorous swimwear, Nigel."
He smirked knowingly. "You selected the suits for this shoot personally. Those are the three least revealing of the bikinis. They are all far too young and beautiful to be wearing muumuus. All the essentials are covered, which is more than I can say for the poor models who will be wearing the rest tomorrow. And we both know nothing selected to appear in Runway is going to restrain Andy's breasts for long."
Eyes glued to the assets in question, Miranda pursed her lips. "She is not using sufficient sunscreen to keep them from burning."
Nigel draped an arm around Miranda's shoulders. "I have known you longer than either of us care to admit. The Miranda I knew then would have been right in the middle of those three, not standing on a porch obsessing over what she thinks she can't have. What happened to that woman?" he asked kindly.
Miranda allowed herself to lean against the one person she could honestly call a friend, knowing he wouldn't judge the action as a sign of weakness. "She got old, Nigel. Terribly, terribly old."
"Only in her own mind. I happen to know no one else sees her that way, except perhaps Irv, and he's simply jealous that you make fifty look a hell of a lot better than he does," Nigel chuckled. "He couldn't attract one of them," he gestured with his chin toward the women on the beach, "on his best day."
"And what makes you think I can? Or that I would even want to?" Miranda pulled away from him and stood on her own. Her gaze turned bleak.
"Oh, you want to," he chided. "Remember me? I've watched you trolling for men and women since our disco days."
"I do not troll!" Miranda denied.
"No, not any more you don't," Nigel agreed. "But once upon a time you'd step into a club and have all the tasty ones begging for your attention. I think you've forgotten what that feels like."
"Nonsense. I receive sufficient attention even now," she defended hotly. How dare he suggest she'd lost her allure.
Nigel nodded. "Yes, they still crowd around, but now it's harder to tell who they're attracted toMiranda or La Priestly."
"La Priestly, without doubt," Miranda huffed. "They all want something. Even those three."
Nigel laughed and walked over to pour himself a glass of mixed juices from a frosty pitcher that sat on a nearby table. He took a sip and grimaced. "Needs rum," he remarked. "You know you're wrong about that."
"About what, Nigel?" Miranda sighed. "The fact that no one wants to know me, the real me? I highly doubt it. If I were not who I am, none of them would give me a second thought." She waved him off listlessly. "Yes, yes, except for you, though why you've stayed loyal after Paris, I don't know." There. She'd said it. In the two years since, she'd never once mention the events that had taken place on that fateful trip to Paris until this moment. She still did not understand why Nigel had stayed with her, nor why Andréa had returned to her hotel suite that evening with a sham apology and flimsy excuse about dropping her phone in a fountain. But, they had both remained at her side, and, although Miranda had remained silent on the issue, she was grateful.
"Did you know that James was almost laughed off the runway in Milan? Of course you did. Look who I'm asking? At the time, the opportunity was wonderful, but only if the people involved had the vision to carry the endeavor into the future. I suspect you knew James didn't have that vision. At first I stayed because, truthfully, where else would I have gone? It didn't take me long to realize you saved me that day, Miranda. It was remiss of me not to acknowledge that before." Nigel smiled and gave a courtly bow. "So thank you, Miranda Priestly. Thank you for saving me from what would have been a professional fate worse than death."
"It might have been different with you at the helm, Nigel," Miranda offered, unable to accept his thanks for shattering his dream.
Taking a sip of his drink and shuddering at the taste, Nigel looked around. "Where did we put that rum?" As he looked through a cabinet against the wall, he continued, "I find it highly doubtful that anything could have saved James. He had much too high an opinion of his own talent. I can't see him listening to anyone else on that point. He and Jacqueline are a good match. They are both in an exclusive love affair with themselves."
"There are some who say I suffer from the same malady," Miranda snorted.
"No, my dear, you see yourself only too clearly. You are, by far, your harshest critic, Miranda. As with most critics, you are often wrong as well. Take Emily for instance. She worships your talent and skill as an editor, but she does a great deal for you outside of her duties as your assistant. She doesn't do those things for La Priestly; she does them for Miranda because she genuinely likes you. And Serena we both know Serena doesn't have to work at all. Her trust fund is larger than the ones you have set up for the twins combined. She stays because she loves Runway and fashion, but more importantly she respects you. That woman could tell you where to go jump and pay to build the bridge for you to do it from, but she doesn't. Why? Because she likes you and, for some unknown reason, likes the abuse you dole out. It amuses her."
Miranda huffed and crossed her arms defensively. "It's nice to know I am at least a source of amusement to my staff."
Finally locating the elusive bottle of rum, Nigel sighed with satisfaction. "You're not listening, my friend. Those two care about you as a person. They and Jocelyn have been with you longer than anyone else at Runway. None of them have plans to move on, though they've been headhunted by the best."
Miranda looked at him in surprise. "They have?" How did she not know that?
"Oh, yes. Anna herself approached Emily in London and was politely, but firmly refused. You can safely add those three to your list." At her continued surprise, he chuckled. "Yes, I know about the list. With the help of your three beach bunnies, I believe we have succeeded in doubling its length in the last two years." He grinned in satisfaction at her nod of agreement. "You're no longer fighting Irv alone. There's a quartet that has your back. Which brings us to Andy. Don't think for a moment that I'm the head of that unit. No, it was all Andy's idea. She's done everything in her power to strengthen your position at Runway."
"But why? I don't understand any of this," Miranda growled in frustration. "This isn't even what Andréa wants for her life."
"Again, wrong," Nigel said with a mysterious smile. "I won't say it's exactly what our dear Six wants for her life, but it's as close as she thinks she can get. The question becomes are you willing to disavow her of that idea." He added rum to his glass and took a satisfying swallow. "Lovely."
"Riddles, Nigel. You know how I enjoy them," Miranda shot back, her voice so soft as to be nearly inaudible. It was a tone that would have evoked fear into all but those who knew her best. Nigel was in that latter group.
"Did you know Andy was in a committed relationship when she came to work for you?" Nigel asked in a seeming non sequitur.
"I am aware," she replied in a frosty voice. "Though what she saw in the scruffy fry cook I cannot imagine."
"That relationship ended because she took your call instead of continuing a discussion with him about that very topic. Walking away from you in Paris had the potential to give her a second chance at that relationship, but you saw where she ended the night."
"So now I'm to blame for Andréa's relationship ending?" Miranda muttered in irritation.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," Nigel agreed cheerfully.
"I don't find this at all funny, Nigel," Miranda warned.
"Miranda, I love you dearly, but sometimes you can be remarkably obtuse. "
"I may always remain your friend, Nigel, but it does not necessarily follow that you will remain in my employ while I do so. If you have a point, I suggest you get to it and quickly."
Shaking his head, Nigel mixed a second drink and pressed it into her hand. "I'm immune to your threats. We both know you need me far more than you'll ever willingly admit. Now, drink up and listen carefully. In the last two years, Andy hasn't dated at all, nor has she expressed any interest in doing so. She's with the person she wants or rather as close as she feels she can get."
Miranda glared out at the lounging trio. "Which one of them is it, Nigel?"
Setting his drink down, Nigel grabbed his head and barely suppressed a scream. "You! It's you! Wake up and smell the cocoa butter, Miranda! Andy wants you!"
Miranda choked on her drink and coughed violently to clear her windpipe. She recovered and glanced back toward the beach. Andréa had risen to her knees and was shading her eyes with one hand as she stared intently toward the lanai. Her lithe body was tensed to move if Andréa perceived the need and Miranda couldn't stop the warmth that suffused her chest at such a display of concern.
"What do I do?" she asked, unable to take her eyes from the focus of her attention.
"When our erstwhile photographer became ill, I believe your words to Emily were, 'You're fired for the next two days. Go act like it.' Maybe you should take your own advice. I'm hereby standing in for Irv and firing you for the rest of the day. Try to have some fun, and let Andy see the Miranda I've known for so long. There's a mountain of swimwear in the house, and dumping this bottle of rum in that pitcher should top it off nicely. Looks like there's enough room on that blanket for four. Why don't you head down there and let the real Miranda out to play?" Nigel suggested. "I'm sure you won't have any trouble finding a volunteer playmate."
For a moment, Miranda hesitated. What if Nigel was wrong? Did she really dare risk everything over a young woman half her age? Intellectually, she knew that going down there was the most foolish of moves. Gambling her heart on such a risky venture was anathema to her. Closing her eyes, Miranda thought back to the woman she used to be. Such decisions had been much easier then. What would that Miranda have done in this situation? Opening her eyes, Miranda found them fixated on fully, rounded breasts, and she licked her lips unconsciously. Young Miranda would have jumped on that with both feet and from a great height. Current Miranda needed to get out of her own way and do the same.
"The Mischka Amalfi Jewel Tankini, Nigel. You can prepare the drinks while I change, and I'll need cups, plastic cups, not glasses," Miranda turned decisively and moved toward the house. "Oh, and don't hesitate to make yourself scarce, Nigel. There's a good lad," she called over her shoulder as she disappeared from sight.
Nigel lifted his glass in a silent toast. Miranda's speech hadn't been peppered with the phrases from her homeland in more years than he cared to remember. If Andy Sachs managed to bring that Miranda back to the fore, he'd fall to his knees and personally kiss the sand at her feet. With a joyful bounce to his step, Nigel hurried to find the aforementioned swimsuit. Miranda, with her unerring ability to know what would show off her assets to their best advantage, had made a perfect choice. Six wouldn't know what hit her.
Andy arched her back and stretched languidly, loving the feel of the sun's warmth on her skin. There was one touch she'd have preferred feeling, but the odds of that happening were virtually nonexistent. Oh, who was she kidding? They were totally nonexistent. Still, Andy couldn't stop herself from caring.
When she'd heard Miranda coughing frantically, she'd immediately risen to see what was wrong. Just as she'd decided to go check on Miranda, the coughing had stopped and Miranda had turned back to her conversation with Nigel. With a sigh, Andy had lay back down next to Serena. She echoed that sigh again as she lamented Miranda not joining them during the last two days.
"Bloody hell, Andrea, don't go off on one," Emily snapped as she lay with closed eyes on the opposite side of Serena. "You're not about to get Miranda onto this beach."
"Be nice, Emily," Serena cautioned her girlfriend.
"No, its okay, Serena. Em's right. I just can't help wishing " Andy's voice drifted off. She really couldn't help wishing Miranda were lying beside her. It felt good when her two friends rubbed sunscreen into the skin of her back, but Andy could barely conceive of how much better it would feel to have Miranda doing so. She wasn't aware of the low hum she produced as she thought of those slender fingers sliding over her heated skin.
"She's ruddy well in heat again, Serena. Drag her down to the water and dunk her a good 'un," Emily said, rolling over onto her stomach. She rested her cheek on her folded arms and sighed.
Serena reached out a hand and smoothed it comfortingly down Andy's arm. "Ignore Emily. Lying in the sun makes her ridiculously horny."
"And a horny Emily is a cranky Emily," Andy finished for her, laughing softly.
"Bloody right," Emily snorted. "Someone needs to give me a good shagging."
"You say that like there's such a thing as a bad shagging, Em," Andy teased, rising on her elbows to look over Serena at her other friend.
Emily opened one eye and grinned smugly. "Well, no bad ones in my bed, anyway. If you're very good, perhaps I'll let you find out."
"Replacing me so soon, Querida?" Serena asked, a tiny smile curling her lips. "I shall have to make more effort tonight."
"You make any more effort and I shan't walk for a week." Emily reached out and patted Serena's tummy. "Now be a good little Brazilian Bombshell and lube Andy up again. Her shoulders are getting pink."
"Pfft, you only keep me around for sex and to rub lotion into both your ethnically challenged skins," Serena complained as she sat up and reached for the sunscreen.
"Correction," Andy said, sitting up and turning her back to Serena. "Emily keeps you around for both. I'm just here for the massage action."
"The least you could do is fetch me a drink," Serena complained. "I will die of thirst before either of you take pity on me."
"Poor thing," Andy said facetiously, reaching behind her to pat Serena on one toned thigh. "Maybe someone will take pity on you when you're done." She grinned over her shoulder at Emily. "Perhaps that same someone will bring me one, too." She dropped her head and moaned softly as Serena spread sunscreen over her shoulders and upper back, working the lotion in with deft strokes.
"I fetch for Miranda, and last I looked you weren't Miranda," Emily scoffed. "Serena rewards me for my efforts on her behalf. What are you offering for this huge imposition of schlepping all the way to the house across the hot sand to get you a drink, Andrea?"
Before Andy could respond, a low voice interrupted them. "A question I would like to hear the answer to myself since I appear to have done the schlepping in this instance," Miranda said.
Andy opened her eyes and looked at delicate feet with their crimson tipped toes peeking through the sand. Her gaze trailed over slender calves to toned thighs and upward, stalling for a moment over the gentle curve of breasts. From there her eyes moved to an elegant neck and on to Miranda's face, partially concealed behind oversized shades. In one hand Miranda held a pitcher filled with ice and a red juice-like substance and in the other a stack of cups. Andy snapped her mouth shut before she could be caught drooling.
"Ummm," was all Andy could manage.
Miranda's lips curled in the hint of a smirk. "How eloquent of you, Andréa. But that doesn't answer me. I have here icy cold rum punch. What am I offered for it?"
Serena nudged Andy in the back. "Answer the woman. I do not think I will get a drink until after you do. Have pity, Andy."
"Blood hell," Emily sat up and looked directly at Miranda. "I'll see to it she gives you whatever you want. Pass the cups."
"Whatever I want? It's a deal, Emily," Miranda replied, tossing the cups to Emily.
"Hey!" Andy objected, having finally found her voice. "I'm not sure I want you doing my negotiating, Charlton."
"What negotiating?" Serena asked. "Emily capitulated totally."
"I'm no fool," Emily shot back. "I get a lovely rum drink, and Andrea has to pick up the tab. What's not to love about that? You get one, too, by the way. Same deal."
"You have a point, Querida," Serena agreed, taking a cup in each hand and holding them up for Miranda to fill. She passed one to Emily and took a satisfying drink from the other. "Ah, lovely indeed."
Miranda took a cup from Emily and, after filling it, offered it to Andy.
Andy looked at the cup dubiously. "Before I take that, what exactly is it going to cost me?" she asked suspiciously.
"You can begin by sharing your blanket," Miranda said.
Scrambling back from the edge, Andy pushed Serena and Emily over to make room. "Right. Okay. Have a seat, Miranda."
"Are you going to take the drink, Andréa?" Miranda asked with a soft laugh.
"What? Oh, yeah I mean, yes," Andy sputtered, reaching to take the offered cup. As her hand closed around it, Miranda smirked.
"The deal is sealed," she said softly.
"Whoa, wait, what? I thought you just wanted to sit down."
"I said as a beginning, Andréa. Do pay attention." Miranda settled herself on the blanket at Andy's side and reached for the last cup, pouring the remaining punch into it. She set the pitcher aside and leaned back on one hand while taking a sip.
"It is nice you joined us, Miranda," Serena commented.
Miranda looked into her cup and smiled softly. "It was pointed out to me that having a bit of fun won't cause the world to end."
"Right! To a bit of fun," Emily toasted, lifting her glass to tap against Serena's.
Andy stared from one woman to the next. Since when was Emily all fun in the sun in Miranda's presence?
Miranda acknowledged the toast and added, "Perhaps more than a bit."
What the f , Andy thought.
"You do not wish to burn, Miranda. It is good you have someone to apply the lotion for you," Serena commented and tossed the sunscreen into Andy's lap.
Andy stared back at Serena, openmouthed. Was the woman trying to kill her or what?
"An astute observation, Serena. Something I have come to expect from you," Miranda complimented. She shifted slightly on the blanket to offer her back to Andy. "Don't dawdle, Andréa. We have a deal, after all."
Sighing, Andy wedged her cup into the sand and reached for the bottle of lotion. Pouring some into her hand, she began to spread it over the soft skin tentatively. When Miranda didn't object, she added her other hand and begin to work it gently into the flesh of Miranda's back and shoulders. Andy bit her lip to keep from moaning aloud.
"Don't' be stingy, I think the suit goes a bit lower than that, Andrea," Emily chided. "You don't want to miss a spot and have Miranda get sunburned."
Andy shot her a glare before moving her hands lower. They were both trying to kill her. But, damn, what a way to go. Her hands slid along the lower edge of Miranda's suit, following the line of the material around Miranda's sides and along the edges of her abdomen. Gooseflesh erupted beneath her touch, and Andy smiled as she heard Miranda gasp softly. Okay, so maybe the odds weren't as bad as she thought. Pouring out more lotion, she worked it into Miranda's shoulders and down supple arms. Andy didn't think she'd ever felt anything as soft as Miranda Priestly. Biting her lip, she dropped her hands and moved back. Reaching for her drink with a trembling hand, Andy finished half of it in a quick series of swallows.
"Right, bottoms up," Emily said, chuckling. Suiting actions to words, she upended her cup and drained it quickly.
With a shrug, Serena followed suit, tossing the empty cup over her shoulder.
Feeling a surge of affection for her friends, Andy drained her cup of punch as well and looked at Miranda with a raised eyebrow.
"Hang with the big girls, or go back on the porch, Miranda. Which will it be?" Emily asked jovially.
Stunned, Andy stared at her friend. Evidently Emily must have fried her brain in the sun if she was talking to Miranda that way. Even more surprisingly, Miranda just laughed and offered a silent toast with her cup before draining it dry. Dropping her face in her hands, Andy groaned. Something was really wrong with this picture.
"What's wrong, Andréa?" Miranda asked in a gentle but noticeably hoarse voice.
"Please tell me you're not going to kill Emily," Andy begged.
"Whatever for?" Miranda asked, astonished.
"The way she's talking to you."
Both Emily and Miranda laughed.
"No worries," Emily said, clearly feeling the effects of the rum she'd chugged. "Miranda fired me yesterday morning. Nothing can be held against me until I return to her employ tomorrow."
"What?" Now Andy was thoroughly confused.
"Emily has been with me for a very long time, Andréa. She has a tendency to forget she's not my assistant 24/7 in these situations. Long ago I developed the habit of firing her for the day when I thought she needed to take some time for herself. With that came a rather trying, at times, experience of having to look the other way when she said exactly what she wished. Thankfully, it is not something I am subjected to often, as our Emily can be quite irreverent," Miranda explained. "And just so you are aware, Nigel, in his self-appointed capacity as Irv's stand-in, fired me for the day as well."
"So that leaves me and Serena to uphold the dignity of Runway?" Andy asked, dreading the thought already.
"Not at all, Andréa. You're fired too, as is Serena. Nothing you say or do will exist tomorrow, within reason of course."
"Oookay," Andy said slowly. "Which means exactly what?" Andy wasn't going to assume anything. Miranda was far too capricious to just take at face value.
Miranda lay back on the blanket and lifted her arms to rest above her head, offering Andy a seductive smile. "Whatever you want it to, Andréa. Whatever you want it to."
Andy felt like her eyes were about to pop out as they tracked over Miranda's body. "You I ummm .swim. I think I need to swim." Jumping up she ran out into the water and dove under.
Emily gave a gentle sniff. "I believe you might have just scared our little Andrea into a different time zone, Miranda. I wonder how strong a swimmer she actually is?"
"She was State Champion in high school. She should be good until at least the next island," Serena observed, watching as their friend pull away with strong strokes.
Miranda sighed and sat up, locking her arms around her knees. "Nigel is a dead man," she observed.
"Spilled the beans on Andrea, did he?" Emily asked.
"Mmm," Miranda replied, nodding. "Inaccurately it would seem."
"Oh, he was right on the money, all right," Emily informed her. "He might just have forgotten to stress how totally convinced Andrea is that nothing could ever come of it. She isn't going to take the chance of being wrong and losing the only connection she has to you."
"Do not give up if Andy is truly what you want," Serena advised. "But the being fired rules do not apply to this. You cannot forget it tomorrow. Hurting Andy is not part of the deal, Miranda. She truly cares for you."
Sighing, Miranda rested her chin on her knees. "And I her, Serena. More than even I realized until I saw her running from me, yet again." She cut her eyes to them with an icy glance. "You do realize I never said any of this."
"Our lips are sealed, Miranda," Emily laughed. "Now let's see what else you can't say."
"How do I get her to stop walking, running, or swimming away?"
"I suppose nailing her feet to the floor is out?" Emily asked facetiously.
"That would tend to fall under Serena's not hurting Andréa clause," Miranda observed seriously.
"You always spoil my fun, Love," Emily chastised Serena.
"It is what girlfriends do, Querida. I am merely trying to fulfill my duties."
Miranda snickered at the exchange, something she would have never allowed herself to do before coming down to the beach today. "I do believe you might be henpecked, Emily," she couldn't resist saying.
"Rubbish!" Emily squawked. "No one tells me what to do. Well, except my boss, of course. Bloody good thing SHE's not around today."
"Yes, I've heard she can be quite impossible to live with," Miranda continued her teasing.
"Having never lived with her, I can't voice an opinion," Emily replied. "However, if things go well, perhaps I can get my friend's opinion on that in a few months."
Miranda sent a glowing smile Emily's way. "Do you think you might have room for an additional opinion from yet another friend? They say you can never have too many."
"Opinions? Or Friends?" Serena asked, laughing.
"As I've often found more than one of the former only makes things more difficult, I'm referring to the latter."
"Might be a bit confusing," Emily said, tapping her chin with one finger as if deep in thought. "Dragon snack by day, mates by night. Still, that boss of mine has asked me to do far more complicated things over the years. I think I can handle it."
Miranda laughed. "I've been meaning to ask you, Emily. What do you usually feed a hungry dragon?"
"The cliché answer would be anything she wants, but I'm thinking a size six brunette is on the menu today," Emily shot back with a cheeky grin. She laughed out loud as Miranda blushed.
Not about to be outdone by her assistant, day off or not, Miranda smirked. "Served au naturale, I would hope."
Emily fell back on the blanket laughing. "Right. Good one that," she gasped.
"She'll be brined if she doesn't get out of the water soon," Serena observed, watching Andy, who was now floating on her back a ways offshore.
"Pffft, you know how she is about thinking things through," Emily said, sitting up and looking out at Andy as well. "She just needs to wrap her mind around it. Then watch out. Once she's made a decision, she's like a dog with a bone."
"Which begs the question, what exactly will Andréa be after?" Miranda commented.
"I think we're about to find out." Serena nodded toward the water where Andy could be seen swimming back swiftly.
Miranda watched admiringly as long arms cut sure strokes, bringing Andréa rapidly closer. She bit her lip to suppress a moan as she watched her walking through the shallows, water sluicing from her body. Once Andréa was close enough, Miranda's eyes followed a rivulet as it wound its way down a toned abdomen to disappear into a tiny triangle of shimmering fabric. Miranda's body vibrated from the effort to keep from tracking that trail with her tongue. She never once took her eyes off Andréa as she walked forward until Miranda sat looking up her long body to her face.
"So nothing I say today can be held against me tomorrow?" Andréa asked, her face giving away none of her thoughts.
"Love the way you listen, Andrea," Emily scoffed. "This is what we said."
Andréa didn't spare her friend a glance, her eyes fixed intently on Miranda. "Does that include anything I do?"
"One would tend to imply the other, Andréa," Miranda responded.
"Yes or no," Andréa bit out tensely.
"If you must, then yes, nothing you say or do will apply to tomorrow," Miranda agreed.
Andréa nodded once and then dropped to her knees, pulling Miranda into her arms and kissing her slowly and thoroughly. Miranda opened her mouth beneath the invading tongue, returning kiss for kiss.
"About bleeding time!" Emily cheered.
"Come to my room with me," Andréa said when she and Miranda broke for air.
"Margaret Thatcher could have managed a bit more romance, you cow," Emily snorted.
Miranda glanced uncomfortably at Emily and Serena. She wanted Andréa and had followed Nigel's advice to get this far, but she was none too sure that she could unbend quite so much. Whatever nonsense they had all spouted about leaving today's actions behind tomorrow, she still had her position to think about. She was still Miranda Priestly, after all. Soft fingers grasped her chin gently and redirected her eyes upward to meet Andréa's.
"Stop thinking," Andy said. "You're amongst friends. I took a huge risk just now. Don't make me regret it or be the only one doing so. I want you. Come with me now."
"I--," Miranda couldn't bring herself to finish or to agree, though it was what she desperately wanted. She felt Serena lean toward her and warm breath flowed against her ear.
"Go where there is privacy, or I will take Emily to our room and leave you here alone with Andy," she threatened. "The only thing stopping Andy now is our presence."
Miranda stared at Serena, openmouthed. Then she looked back at Andréa. The truth of Serena's words was clear in the passionate flames that flickered in melted chocolate eyes.
"Come with me," Andréa repeated hoarsely, holding out her hand.
Never one to remain indecisive for long, Miranda rested her hand in Andréa's and found herself swiftly pulled to her feet. Hot, damp flesh met her own as Andréa clasped her tightly for another searing kiss, bending their entwined hands behind Miranda's back. After a moment, Miranda found herself released only to be pulled along by their still-joined hands.
"We'll see you at dinner," Andréa threw back over her shoulder to Emily and Serena. "Maybe."
"Andréa, do slow down," Miranda gasped, hurrying to keep up with Andréa's much longer legs. The thought that they would soon be wrapped around her made Miranda feel lightheaded for a moment.
Andréa stopped and spun around. "You changed your mind already?" she asked incredulously.
"What? No! But must we run?"
"There's less than eleven hours left in this day. If all I get is this one, I want every minute to count," Andréa explained.
"Am I to assume from that, that you want more than one day?" Miranda asked, thrilled at the idea that Andréa might feel more than a passing infatuation for her.
"I at least want the chance to find out if there can be more," Andréa admitted.
Miranda threaded her arms around Andréa's neck. "Would you prefer to delay this until we have time to date for a while, get to know each other better?"
"Miranda, what's my favorite color?"
"My favorite meal?"
"Grilled cheese, preferably Jarlsberg."
"Do I want kids?"
"Yes, though you're not sure you want to carry one yourself," Miranda responded promptly.
Andréa grinned at her. "You seem to know me pretty well. I always knew you could hear more than you let on in the office. As for me, I think I already know you pretty well, so I think all that's left is deciding if this is a fling or the beginning of a relationship. Personally, I want the relationship."
"Then you shall have it, Darling," Miranda said by way of agreeing. She pulled Andy's head down and claimed her lips again. "Now take me to your room. I wish to see if you look as good out of that suit as you do in it."
This time when Andréa grabbed her hand and started to hurry, Miranda kept pace. She was more than happy to run into any future that had Andréa by her side.
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