DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a sequel to "The Dread Pirate Miranda". It's not essential to read that one first, as I recapped a bit, but I think it would add to the overall read. Many thanks to my beta reader IJ.
SPOILERS: All of TDWP, and single joke regarding the finale of "Dirty Dancing."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2009.

The Devil Wears Ice Skates
By Wordsmith



Miranda Priestly woke in a panic.

She couldn't breath, there were tingles were running up and down her left arm, and she found that she was unable to move it. " Aren't those signs of cardiac arrest?" she thought to herself. Attempting to calm her rising heartbeat and prevent more adrenaline from flooding her system, she opened her eyes. And immediately relaxed. The reason for her trouble, Andrea Sachs, lay sleeping peacefully. During the course of the night, she managed to maneuver her body so that it draped itself deliciously over Miranda's. A stomach-sleeper, Andrea's shoulder, arm and the better portion of her upper body trapped Miranda's arm and chest.

Now that she knew she wasn't having a heart attack, Miranda felt irritated. Lifting the sheet, she saw that Andrea's leg had wedged itself between hers. Extricating herself was going to prove tricky. Knowing that Andrea was a heavy sleeper helped. Miranda slowly and carefully inched her body out from under the younger, more supple one with a silent sigh. For reasons she couldn't quite fathom, Andrea seemed to delight in Miranda's older physique with all its attendant rolls, stretch marks and imperfections. Apparently it all spoke to Miranda's underlying humanity. For Miranda, it all only served as a reminder of the two and a half decades that separated them. "Oh well" Miranda thought to herself as she checked her early morning emails, "if it doesn't concern her, why should I worry about it?"

But worry she did. Her relationship with Andrea had been only a few weeks but, truth be told, had been going on for months emotionally, if not physically. Andrea originally had been hired as Miranda's second assistant. Her primary duties included fielding phone calls, keeping up correspondence, communicating with writers, editors, designers, bringing coffee when necessary and any and all sundry errands that needed attending to for the Editor in Chief of the country's foremost fashion magazine, Runway. At first hopelessly lost in a world about which she knew nothing and cared even less, Andrea floundered. Until taken under the kindly wing of Nigel, the magazine's art director, and the not-so kindly wing of Miranda herself who saw so much more than a silly girl in an ugly sweater. Miranda was immediately impressed with Andrea's drive and determination to get a job she really didn't want and was totally unsuited for just for the sake of not backing down in the formidable face of the legendary Miranda Priestly. That was one of the things that first attracted Miranda to Andrea; the fact that Andrea had no idea who Miranda was. It intrigued her, and Miranda found herself going out of her way to demonstrate her power, influence and persona at every opportunity. She knew there were times she was acting petty and unfair to the poor girl. But the poor girl matched her challenge for challenge with a brilliant, though sometimes albeit smug, smile and an unspoken request for more. To this day Miranda had yet to best the young woman. Not that she would let up now that their relationship had evolved from employer/employee to... what? Companions? Partners? Lovers? Girlfriends? Miranda laughed quietly to herself at the last thought. There had to be a better term for a 50 year old mother of twins than to be merely someone's "girlfriend." Perhaps some research was in order.

At least Andrea no longer worked for her. After abandoning Miranda at the height of Paris' Fashion Week no less, it took a supreme effort and nearly a pint of cognac for Miranda to realize the loss was probably for the best. For both of them. Miranda had begun to see signs of Andrea's slide into ruthlessness when she allowed herself to usurp her fellow assistant's rightful place at Miranda's side in Paris. A slide Miranda freely calculated and enabled, yet came to regret when she realized the implications of such a fall from grace. For though part of her reveled in Andrea's comeuppance at the time, Miranda realized Andrea was better off in her own journalistic world, the world where integrity meant something, honesty counted as important and ambition didn't necessarily come at someone else's expense. And the loyalty Andrea showed when she thought Miranda was being forced from her job said plenty about the depth of feeling Andrea had in regard for her difficult employer. So rather than try to force Andrea to come back or even quit formally, Miranda did the next best thing. At the first legitimate opportunity, Miranda sent a fax informing the editor of The New York Mirror that if he didn't hire Andrea he was clearly an idiot not worthy of Andrea's talents and energies. Little did Miranda know that slippery piece of paper would result in the object of it to arrive in her office spouting vague declarations, leaving a classic movie on her desk before kissing the life out of her, leading to the start of a relationship that left Miranda in bed wondering if she should call the paramedics.

"Whatcha doin'?" Miranda was startled out of her reverie by a warm hug from behind, long arms wrapping themselves around her neck lightly while a husky voiced mouth hovered near her ear.

"Seeing what happened in the world while we were otherwise occupied. The Tokyo market is down again." Trying hard not to sink back into the embrace, Miranda couldn't help but inhale the sweet scent of her lover, a combination of vanilla, citrus and something decidedly undefinable yet irresistible.

"It's Sunday" the voice complained, "no business today."

"But it's Monday in Asia already. Late morning, no less." Miranda nevertheless scrolled down to quickly scan for anything urgent and upon seeing nothing that couldn't wait at least a few hours, logged off the computer before turning in her chair. "Happy now?" she said, trying to maintain some of her bluster in the face of the sleepy -eye beauty who promptly sat in Miranda's lap. It always amazed Miranda that someone as tall as Andrea, at least compared to her own somewhat short stature, could wrap herself up to cuddle in Miranda's lap with relative comfort for both parties. In public it helped that Andrea favored flats to Miranda heels. She wrapped her arms around Andrea, enjoying the light kisses being brushed against her neck. "I know one way I could be happier." Andrea murmured.

Knowing just how, Miranda smirked. It seemed for all her Good Girl appearances, Andrea was quite insatiable sexually. Not that Miranda had any trouble keeping up. She found it fascinating that whereas in the past she could take sex or leave it, with Andrea she was aroused as often as a teenage boy. Dragging one finger up Andrea's exposed thigh, Miranda whispered, "Really? And what might that be?" Andrea planted a series of kisses along Miranda's jaw line, "I think you know."

Thankfully, Andrea's sleeping attire, when she bothered to put anything on, consisted of a tight white tank top that emphasized her mid sized breasts delightfully, and a pair of gray Northwestern University flannel shorts. The shorts flared enough that Miranda was able to slip her fingers underneath. At the first touch, Andrea gasped, then buried her head again in Miranda's neck. Andrea was slick and hot and in no time at all, Miranda found she had three fingers buried within. Andrea writhed under the onslaught but not enough to distract Miranda's rhythm. Especially not when Miranda managed to mouth one breast through the cotton of the tank top. When she felt Andrea grow even more wet, Miranda bit gently causing Andrea to cry out, "Oh my god, don't stop Miranda." Another few thrusts and Miranda felt the tell tale flutter around her fingers which she slowed until she was able to withdraw them. Looking around for something suitable on which to dry them, Miranda was surprised when Andrea took the hand in hers, and licked it clean. "Mmmm" Andrea giggled, "but I need real food if we're going to keep this up." and promptly crawled off Miranda's lap to head off to the kitchen. Miranda was stunned. She was quite certain she had never seen anything so erotic in all her life. Filing the move away for the future, she went to join Andrea.

"Why don't you go get your newspapers while I make some eggs?" Andrea's arms were filled with eggs, cheese and various other ingredients.

"You're cooking?" Miranda couldn't help sounding surprised. Andrea looked at her peeved, "I can cook. I did live with a chef, you know."

At this reminder of Andrea's former lover, Nate, Miranda pursed her lips. She didn't like to think about Andrea's life before her, let alone her previous paramour. Wrapping her robe more tightly around her, Miranda went out to gather the seven daily papers delivered to her townhouse each morning. Not that she read each word in each paper, but she did skim them thoroughly searching for new trends and bits of information that might come in handy for Runway. And she made a point to complete the New York Times' Crossword each Sunday. In pen, naturally.

Back in the kitchen, lovely smells greeted Miranda. Wrapping her arms around Andrea, she sniffed appreciatively. "Darling, this looks wonderful."

"Well, even I can't screw up eggs too badly," Andrea leaned back into the embrace, before rushing to the toaster, "Shit! You made me forget the toast." As Miranda watched amused, Andrea pulled the blackened pieces of bread out. She scraped the tops with a butter knife to removed the charred edges, then slathered them liberally with butter. At Miranda's raised eyebrow she declared, "You won't even taste the burned part. So leave me alone."

Miranda laughed as she set the table, "I'm sure it will be quite palatable." Sticking her tongue out at the condescending tone, Andrea filled two cups with coffee. Andrea put one cup into the microwave for thirty seconds while she topped off the other with milk.. Once the first cup was done, she placed it at Miranda's customary place at the table. At Miranda's puzzled expression, Andrea explained, "That way it's hot enough for you. You do still like it super hot, right?" Taking a slight sip, Miranda cooed, "Oh yes, I still like it hot. How kind of you to remember." Although ostensibly talking about the coffee, Andrea could tell Miranda was teasing about something more. "Hey, no flirting. Not until after we eat." Sliding the egg mixture onto warmed plates, she moved to sit down. Once both women dished up, each took one newspaper to leaf through. The silence between them was comfortable and amiable. Until Andrea suddenly gasped. Spilling her coffee in her haste to show something to Miranda, hot coffee poured over the table and onto the floor. Both women jumped up. Miranda quickly removed a towel from the rack by the sink, "Really Andrea, must you be so clumsy?" Andrea grabbed the towel and thrust the paper she had been reading into Miranda's hand, "Miranda! We're on Page Six!" Miranda was nonplused, "Andrea, I am often on Page Six. What makes this any different?"

"The caption, for one. I doubt your other appearances mentioned 'her lovely young assistant.' Miranda, my mother reads The Times!"

Miranda scanned the article. In it was a short write up of a gallery opening she and Andrea attended the night before. Accompanying the article was a picture of the two of them, Miranda with her face gazing adoringly, while Andrea stood with one arm wrapped firmly around Miranda's waist. It would be clear to anyone with eyes that the two women were deeply in love. Miranda immediately made a mental note to find out who had taken the photograph and request a copy for herself. And to demand a retraction and correction. "Lovely young assistant, indeed! Everyone knows you no longer work for me."

"Miranda, that's not the point." Andrea was still on the floor swabbing up the spilled coffee, though the towel was so saturated by now all she was doing was moving the mess around.

Taking it from her and handing her a sponge, Miranda asked, "Then pray tell, what is the point? I thought you and I already had this conversation about the closet, and who was and wasn't within one?" Personally Miranda took great delight in knowing that her relationship was public knowledge.

"I told you, I am not in the closet. Exactly." Andrea mumbled.

"Aha, now we're getting somewhere. Who is it you're afraid will see this?" Miranda pulled Andrea up into the circle of her arms, looking up into the worried brown eyes.

Andrea had a hard time meeting her gaze, "Well" she flustered, "I haven't exactly been totally honest with my parents about who I'm seeing these days."

"Mm-hmm." Miranda prompted. "They do know you broke up with the cook, correct?"

Andrea made a face, "He's more than just a cook. But yes, they know we broke up."

Miranda tightened her embrace, "And do they know you are seeing someone else?"

A quick nod accompanied by a rising tide of blush up Andrea's neck.

"Do they know it's a woman?" A quick shake of the head.

"Do they know it's a someone somewhat older than you are?" Another shake.

Miranda blew out a breath in exasperation, "Well do they at least know I'm rich?" At this Andrea laughed, "Yes, that they do know. I told them about the flowers you send every week. And about eating at all the best restaurants in New York."

"But nothing of substance?" All mirth faded from Andrea's face. She said frantically, "No, not really. I mean, I talk about you all the time, but nothing specific. Just that you're amazing and wonderful and I'm happier than I've ever been. And they seem happy with that."

Miranda brought one hand up to cup Andrea's cheek, "Well I suppose that's a start. And if they really do read The Times, they're bound to see this. Even in the flyover states." Andrea swatted at Miranda's arm, "Hey!"

Miranda continued, "But really, Andrea, do you want them to 'find out' about us, or have the courtesy of you telling them yourself so that if anyone else they know sees this little piece first, they can be prepared to admit yes their beautiful, intelligent daughter is dating one of the richest, most powerful women in America?"

"You are?" Andrea sounded surprised and a little impressed.

Miranda sighed again, "Yes, dear, but that isn't important. What is important is you telling your parents about me before they hear about it from someone else. Someone who might not be so kind and open-minded. While you do that, I'm going to call Stewart and make sure they correct the late additions. 'Lovely assistant'. Hmph." Reaching up, she kissed Andrea lightly. Miranda discovered early in their relationship that, for whatever reason, her kisses had the power to almost magically calm Andrea in nearly every situation. It wasn't a power she took for granted but was always thankful to have in her arsenal. Seeing the frantic look change into one of calm, Miranda was pleased it worked again. "Go use the phone in my study. I'll be up in a minute." Andrea paused to give Miranda a heartfelt hug saying, "You do know I'm not ashamed of being with you, right? I love you." Miranda nodded, "Yes, I know." she said confidently.

Once she finished putting the dishes into the dishwasher, Miranda headed toward her study. The door was open so she heard Andrea quite clearly pleading with someone on the other end of the phone, "You don't understand! She's not like that. Not anymore." Then silence as she listened to the other speaker. "No, she's not! Why can't you get it? I love her, that's all that matters." More silence, then in a voice colder than any Miranda ever heard from Andrea, "Well if that's the way you feel, then I guess I have nothing more to say. Goodbye." A slight click as the phone hung up, then a muffled sob. All thoughts Miranda had of respecting Andrea's privacy went out the window when she heard that sob. Pushing the door open, she found Andrea hunched over on the couch, her face in her hands crying as if her heart was breaking. Without saying a word, Miranda rushed to her, taking the girl into her arms, holding her tightly. After a long bout of crying, Andrea brought her head up, "They won't even try to understand."

"Tell me." Miranda ordered quietly.

"They hadn't seen the picture yet, but opened up to it when I asked them about it. They freaked."

"About what exactly? Surely they must have had some idea that you were gay." Miranda asked.

"That didn't come as too much of a shocker, but it's who I turned out to be gay for." Andrea tried to smile but failed miserably.

"Me." Miranda said firmly.

"Not just you. The Devil herself to hear them tell it. The woman who made my life hell for nearly a year. The woman who broke me up with Nate."

Miranda protested defensively, "I never had any involvement with you and the cook. Or your breakup."

"His name is Nate, and yes you did." Andrea curled up into Miranda's arms leaning back into the couch, "Everyone knew, even before I did, that I chose you over Nate. But he and I weren't meant to last, we both know that now. And he, of all people, is happy for me. Why can't they be?'

Miranda ran her fingers through Andrea's thick brown hair, "It's probably a shock to them. You raise your child wanting certain things for them, then suddenly circumstances change that are out of their control. It may take them some time to readjust their thinking."

Andrea thought about this. "Yeah, I suppose. But I don't see how they can condemn you when they haven't even met you."

"Perhaps we should do something to change that." Miranda suggested. "Didn't you say they were scheduled to come for a visit in a few weeks, for the holidays?"

Andrea looked aghast, "That's right. We were going to spend a few days before Christmas here in town."

"Well then, why don't we take them out together, they can meet me in person and decide for themselves based on that, rather" Miranda scowled, "than on the horror stories they've come to associate with me based on when you really were my lovely young assistant."

Andrea brought her face to Miranda's, kissing her gently, "It might be hard to overcome that impression, you know. You really were terrible to me. Sometimes. Most of the time."

Miranda kissed her back, "But if I hadn't been, you'd still be my assistant, still be miserable working for me, still not doing what you were meant to be doing. I take it the situation now is an improvement?"

"A huge improvement." Andrea nuzzled Miranda's neck. "In fact, I think I might be persuaded to show you just how much." Andrea proceeded to lick and nibble her way down to Miranda's collarbone, slowly undoing the robe tie as she did so.

Miranda felt the tide of desire rise within her. Once again, she marveled at Andrea's near constant state of arousal and thanked her lucky stars for it. And for her ability to keep up. Leaning her head back against the couch, she gladly allowed Andrea to take the lead, watching as the dark haired beauty adroitly undid the buttons to her pajama top and quickly took one breast into her mouth. Both of Miranda's nipples began to ache pleasantly and it wasn't long before she was urging Andrea downward. Whipping her long hair over one shoulder, Andrea knelt at Miranda's knees pushing them apart, laying tender kisses up her thighs slowly building the tension for the older woman. Miranda was no stranger to cunnilingus, having been married more than once with a fair number of male lovers in addition, but this was so totally out of her experience, she was sure there should be another term for what Andrea was doing. Her male lovers, many of whom were quite insistent about receiving oral attention, went down on her grudgingly and certainly never made her feel the way Andrea did. The variety of strokes and tempo and pressure made each experience unique and exhilarating. As Miranda felt the rising tide of her impending orgasm near its peak, Andrea replaced her mouth with her fingers, making sure to keep her thumb firmly planted on and around Miranda's clitoris. Raising her body up, Andrea kissed Miranda again, sweeping her tongue inside. Sucking on that tongue, Miranda tasted herself on it, inflaming her passion even more. Andrea whispered in Miranda's ear, her voice heavy with need, "Say it, Miranda. I need to hear it."

Unable to focus on anything other than Andrea's fingers moving inside her, Miranda could only moan out her pleasure. Increasing the tempo Andrea continued to encourage,"That's it, Miranda. Feel it, feel me inside you. Say it. Say my name."

Miranda felt the fingers inside her push even deeper, filling her more than ever before just as the thumb at her clit swirled in exactly the right way. She found herself saying softly, nearly under her breath, "Oh yes, yes. Oh yes. Andy!"A wave of pleasure broke over Miranda who continued to wail uncontrollably until finally she came back to her senses, exhausted and delighted. Crumpling onto her, Andrea held Miranda gently as they both regained their breath. Finally after some time had passed, Miranda stirred. "As much as I would like to spend the entire day indulging, I really must get some work done before the girls come home from their father's."

Andrea replied, "Yeah, I should go soon too. I still have a bunch of articles I'm working on, and Elliot will have my head if at least one of them isn't done by tomorrow."

Catching Andrea by the arm as she stood, Miranda allowed herself to be pulled up. "You know, yours isn't the only family we need to confront about our relationship."

Andrea's eyes grew wide, "Oh god, you mean the girls?" When Miranda nodded, she added, "But they already know me. No doubt they think I'm an incompetent boob, just like you did."

"Actually, " Miranda smiled, "they think quite highly of you. After all, you never disappointed them when you worked for me. You got them the Harry Potter book before any of their friends had it. You got the cool boogie boards for them, although I'm not sure what distinguishes a cool one from an uncool one. I believe the term they used in regard to you was 'tight'."

Andrea looked shocked, "Really?"

"Mmhmm" Miranda murmured as she swatted Andrea lightly on the ass, "And I quite agree with them."

After working independently for a few hours, Miranda found herself once again in the kitchen contemplating dinner options. Whenever possible, she tried to make dinner for herself and the girls. Simple food rather than the richer, more indulgent fare she ate during her frequent nights out either on business or with Andrea. Tonight was different however, as Andrea was joining them for the first time. She hadn't exaggerated the girl's opinion of Andrea but found herself in the unique situation of wanting to show off the girls to Andrea as much as she wanted to show off Andrea to the girls. Deciding on salads, steamed vegetables and lean chicken breasts, she set to work chopping. She knew Andrea was in the study putting the finishing touches on an article for work and the thought brought a slight smile to her face at the domesticity of it all. Soon enough she heard the front door open and wiping her hands on a towel, she went to greet the girls and their father. Although divorced many years, they had somehow managed to maintain a level of civility that Miranda knew was uncommon in many parents' custody arrangements.

"Hello James," she greeted him as she gave each girl a brief hug, "good week?"

James smiled back, revealing perfect teeth and a single dimple in one cheek. "Hello Miranda. Yes, it was a good week. Cass got an A on her history paper and Caroline scored two goals." Miranda turned to her daughters who were looking at her clearly pleased with their accomplishments. "Well done. Now go put your things away and get washed up for dinner. It'll be ready soon, and we have a guest tonight."

"Who?" blurted out Cassidy, beating Caroline to the punch.

"You'll find out soon enough." Miranda's tone was light and the girls scampered off whispering to themselves in the half sentence way close siblings often had. Miranda turned to James, "I may as well tell you now, my guest is my-" and stopped, once again flummoxed to come up with a good descriptor for Andrea. "You remember my former assistant, Andrea Sachs?"

James nodded, "Oh yes, The One That Got Away." He smiled when his remark caused Miranda's mouth to twitch into nearly a frown.

Determined not to let him get the better of her, Miranda replied, "She did not get away. In fact, she and I are...involved now. Romantically, that is."

James' smile grew, "Good for you, Miranda. I always suspected the real reason no man could tame you."

Miranda drew herself up haughtily, "Andrea has hardly tamed me!"

"But I keep trying, " Andrea's voice filtered in from the hall as Andrea entered the foyer from the study. "Hi," she said brightly holding her hand out to James, "I'm Andy."

James shook the hand, "Nice to meet you, Andy. And good luck to you. Though I suspect from what I saw in the Times today, you don't need it."

Andrea blushed scarlet but said gamely, "A picture's worth a thousand words."

Miranda took her by the hand, "It's a lovely picture, just remember that." and turning her head said pointedly, "Goodbye James."

He laughed again lightly, "Goodbye Miranda. Don't forget Cassidy has an orthodontist appointment on Wednesday at 3."

She nodded, and ushered him out the door. Bringing Andrea with her to the kitchen, she went back to cutting up the vegetables while Andrea poured two glasses of wine and perched herself on one of the tall bar stools at the chopping block.

"Do the girls know I'm staying for dinner?" Andrea asked a bit timidly.

Miranda looked up from her task, "They know someone is here for dinner but they don't know who or why."

As if on cue the two red-heads appeared, stopping in their tracks when they saw Andy.

"Andy?" they said in unison, staring first at her then at their mother.

"Hi Cassidy. Hi Caroline." Andrea looked each girl in the face as she greeted her, hoping beyond hope that her information from Emily on how to tell the girls apart was correct. Caroline had a small scar on her lower lip, the result of a wayward lacrosse stick breaking it open the previous season. Miranda was impressed. Although she never could understand how no one else could see the myriad of differences between her daughters, apparently they looked even more identical than most twins. Most people resolved this by simply referring to them as a single unit.

The girls were impressed as well. Much as they loved each other and knew their bond was unique, it was nice to be an individual to someone outside their immediate family.

Cassidy spoke first, "I don't get it. I thought you quit working for mom."

"I did" replied Andrea. "We decided it would be better if I didn't work for her but we still enjoy each other's company."

Each twin raised a skeptical eyebrow, looking in that moment so much like their mother that Andrea gulped a bit. "You're friends?" Caroline asked.

Andrea shot a desperate look at Miranda, looking for all the world like a deer caught in headlights. Miranda took pity on her, "Actually we are more than friends, my dears. Andrea and I-" she stopped, thinking hard, "we are dating. Would you call that an accurate assessment, Andrea?"

Andrea drank a large swallow from her wine first, "Yeah, dating. Sure, that would be, uh, accurate. Miranda" she finished lamely.

The girls looked at each other in silent communication, before Cassidy spoke, "So you're a lesbian now?" she asked her mother.

"Well, I'm not sure I want to put a label on myself, or on Andrea but I guess you could categorize it as that." her gaze was firm but loving at her daughters. "Would that be a problem for you?"

Again the twins looked at each other and came to some sort of silent agreement, "Sure, no biggie. Half the kids at Dalton have two moms." Cassidy pronounced.

"Yeah, but most of those are step moms. That doesn't count the same." Caroline countered.

Nipping the conversation in the bud, Miranda cleared her throat. The girls immediately stopped bickering and began to set the table. During dinner, the two girls asked Andrea many questions about her family, where she grew up, what her current job was like. Andrea found them to be intelligent and only slightly sarcastic, more interested in Andrea's favorite movie star than the details of her relationship with their mother. Once everyone finished eating, the girls cleared the table and set to work doing the dishes. Andrea followed Miranda into her study, saying"Wow, do they do windows too?"

Miranda smiled, "Just because I spoil the girls, does not mean they are spoiled rotten."

Andrea wandered to the couch, "No, they're great. Good manners goes a long way in my family."

"As it does in mine, "Miranda joined her, entwining their hands together. "I see no reason why just because they are privileged, they shouldn't have chores and contribute to the good of the household."

Andrea agreed, "In my house, we got an allowance but it wasn't dependent on doing your work. That was done because we all lived there together."

"Exactly,"Miranda agreed. "All in all, I think that went rather well, don't you?"

Andrea's expression was wistful, "If only it had been so easy with my family."

Miranda squeezed the hand in hers, "Don't you worry about that, Andrea. We'll win them over. I can be very charming when I need to be." Her face became one of singular intent. So much so that Andrea laughed, "That's right. I had forgotten about how determined you can be."

Softening her gaze as she looked into the face of her lover, Miranda murmured, "It will be alright. You just wait and see. I've faced down presidents and hysterical designers. I'm sure I'll have no trouble winning over your parents." She leaned in to gently brush her lips over Andrea's wide mouth. Sighing into the kiss, Andrea visibly relaxed. At least until they both heard a muffled, "Gross" from the doorway and uncontrolled giggles.

Without turning her head, Miranda declared, "I know two girls who had better be sure their homework is done before they go eavesdropping on their poor old mother." More giggles followed along with the sound of two pairs of feet rushing up the stairs. Another wistful grin before leaning into Andrea again for more long, gentle kisses. Andrea's lips were full and moist and Miranda knew she would never tired of exploring them. But mindful of the full house, neither woman made any attempt to do anything beyond kissing intently, though both could feel the rising tide of heat and desire between them. Finally after a forever of kissing, Miranda felt Andrea pull away, "I hate to be the one to say it, but I should get ready to go. I have an early day tomorrow."

Stealing one last peck, Miranda agreed, "Alright, for now. Tomorrow I'll have New Emily arrange to have your parents flown in."

Andrea stood, holding out her hand to pull Miranda up, "No, better to let me do it. I don't want them to think you're organizing my life and calling all the shots. Again."

Miranda saw the sense in that. "Hmm, good point. Say good night to the girls?"

Smiling broadly, Andrea nodded. As Miranda called them down, they raced to see who could be the first down the stairs. Skidding to a stop, Caroline flung her arms around Andrea's waist, "Bye Andy. I'm glad you're Mom's new girlfriend" Cassidy followed suit, hugging Andrea from the other side, "Yeah, me too. So much better than Stephan or those guys with all the Botox and hair plugs." Laughing, Andrea hugged the girls back with genuine affection. Seeing them together made Miranda's heart twinge but not in an uncomfortable way. It reinforced for her that perhaps this time, she had chosen well.



Serena was aware of being watched. Actually, it was an occupational hazard for the tall Brazilian. Though she worked as a copy editor for Runway, she was often mistaken for a model or sometimes, a designer. She took it in stride, however, as a beautiful woman's due and often used it to her advantage to wrangle changes to articles from writers notorious for defending their work as sacred, unwilling to altar a single word or comma. But this time, the attention she was getting from across the conference room, however circumspect, was welcome. Miranda Priestly's first assistant, Emily, was many things; hard working, loyal, diligent but subtle was not one of them. Serena brought her hand up to her mouth to conceal the grin she felt growing on her face as she watched Emily hover in the doorway trying to get a good angle in which to see Serena during the monthly wrap up meeting for the latest issue of the magazine.

"Something amusing regarding our lack of ad revenue, Serena? Enlighten us, do. I, for one, am thrilled that someone finds a seven per cent decrease in the funds that pay her salary something to smile about." Serena looked up into the fierce face of Miranda, all thoughts of smiling or ever being happy again banished from her face.

"Sorry Miranda." she apologized but then couldn't help another grin from surfacing as she saw the now distraught expression on Emily's face. Miranda startled. Usually a reprimand from her was enough to turn the recipient into a puddle of nerves. Turning in her chair to discover the source of Serena's mirth, she glowered at Emily who immediately chirped "Eeep" and fled to the safety of her desk. A much more satisfying reaction.

"Apparently, we are done for the day." Miranda huffed in annoyance. Watching as her staff retreated as fast as their little legs could carry them, she stopped Serena, "Stay. Close the door." Serena gulped but did as she was asked. Peeking out from behind the door as she closed it, Emily looked terrified. Serena raised her eyebrows and shrugged, trying to wordlessly reassure the other woman.

Miranda watched the interplay with interest. Once Serena seated herself again, she thought for a long moment thinking over her words very carefully. After it became clear that Miranda wasn't going to say anything, Serena took a quick breath to steel her reserve and said, "I'm sorry if it appeared I wasn't paying attention in the meeting, Miranda. I understand the importance of the drop in our ad figures."

Miranda waved a lazy hand, "That isn't what I wanted to speak to you about, Serena. I know you know how important it is, in this economy, for us to bring in more advertisers, not fewer. No," she amended, "I am more interested in this little game you seem to be playing with my first assistant." She leveled her gaze at the other woman.

Serena's mind raced. "What game? I'm afraid I don't know what you are talking about."

"Oh please" Miranda said dismissing her comment, "This is an office. Not a sorority house. Please confine your petty love games to another location. We have work to do."

"Love games?" Serena sputtered. She had no idea where this was coming from. She had never encouraged Emily. Or discouraged her, to be honest.

"Yes, yes. This little peek a boo episode today during the wrap up was just the latest example" Miranda explained. "I don't know what is going on between you and Emily but her work suffers and if her work suffers, then I suffer. And I for one" she looked down her nose at Serena, "do not intend to suffer any longer. If you haven't sealed the deal, do so. If you have, well decide one way or the other and let the poor girl off the hook. She's no good to me until you do."

"Seal the deal?" Serena asked, nearly whimpering in her embarrassment to be having this conversation with, of all people, Miranda.

Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose, "Oh for..." then looking Serena directly in the eyes, she commanded in her quietest voice, "either fuck her or dump her. Am I understood?"

Serena's eyes grew large. Never in her years of working for Miranda, had she ever heard the older woman use profanity of any kind or anything even remotely vulgar. She sat stunned as Miranda rose and exited the conference room. She did not see Miranda's sly smile as she did so.

As Serena sat trying desperately to wrap her head around what Miranda had said, she heard Miranda bark out a series of orders signifying the end of her work day: car sent for, reservations confirmed, Andrea alerted to be ready in ten minutes. Andrea-that was it! Serena knew, along with everyone else in the Runway world, that Miranda had recently taken up with her former assistant. While most professed to be shocked, it came as no surprise to Serena who had seen the signs long before any action was taken by Andrea. Serena recalled with another slight smile, Emily's reaction as she recounted the tale of Andrea's pursuit of Miranda ending with a profound kiss in the outer office for any and all to see.

"I was gobsmacked, I can tell you. One minute they're behind closed doors, and the next macking around for all the world to see!" Emily blurted as they met for drinks at a nearby bar. Serena watched Emily for any signs of disgust at two women kissing but it seemed her outrage was more for the inappropriateness of Andrea herself than anything else. "I mean, really. You remember what Andy was like when she first came here. It was like she was the poster child for polyester."

Serena laughed as she sipped her cosmo, mentally deleting dessert from her anticipated dinner plans. "Oh please, like we couldn't all see what was coming."

"And I suppose you think you knew before any of us did?" Emily scoffed, "What? Do you have some sort of Brazilian psychic powers you never mentioned before?" She took a long draw on her light beer, mentally calculating the caloric effect of the brew.

"Well it was obvious what was going on. Miranda seduced Andy from the moment she hired her." Serena searched Emily's face again, "Surely you knew?"

Emily looked miffed, "No I certainly did not know! Though it does go a long way toward explaining why I got the shaft about Paris."

Serena patted her arm, knowing it was still a sore subject. "Emily, don't forget, you had a broken leg at the time."

Emily drew her arm back quickly, blushing scarlet, "That was merely a nuisance." She took another long drink of her beer, frowning at the sour, thin taste. "I just don't see why I had to take the brunt of their ill conceived love affair, even if nothing had been-" she frowned again, "consummated."

Serena laughed, hiding her disappointment at Emily's body language. For weeks, she had been trying to find ways to let Emily know her attentions were not unwelcome. But it became increasingly a dance of one step forward, two steps back. There were times when Serena was certain her growing feelings of attraction toward Emily were reciprocated; long lingering appraisals of her body whenever they would raid The Closet for new outfits, fingers brushed when passing over a pen or cup of tea, midnight phone calls that lasted well into the night about nothing in particular. Seeing their server approach to seat them, Serena whispered, leaning forward to give Emily the full view down her low cut black shirt as she did so "Well, if you give me a bite of your dessert, I may let you in on my secret Brazilian powers." Walking after the server, she noted Emily still sitting stunned in her chair. Hearing Emily choke on her beer as she followed, Serena thought to herself, "One step forward."

But now, weeks later, Serena was not so confident. She knew in her heart that Emily had feelings for her, feelings than ran deeper than simple friendship. She also suspected Emily was insecure enough to think that her feelings were wasted. Which was ridiculous, Serena thought to herself as she considered Miranda's words. What did she want? Serena considered Emily to be her closest friend in New York, certainly. Perhaps even in the world. They always managed to have fun together, even with the harsh demands of their respective professional lives. They ate lunch together nearly every day, and dinner too at least three times a week. Almost every official Runway function they attended together, supposedly to cut costs by sharing a car and to have someone to talk to, but really to avoid having to walk in alone, and to have someone to whisper catty comments to while disparaging everyone else there. Unbeknownst to many, Emily was actually quite an intelligent woman, current in major news of the world outside of fashion as well as a potential rival to Miranda herself when it came to fashion history. She read extensively from all genres, though Serena doubted many knew of her hidden taste for English countryside romance novels. Serena suspected one reason Emily refused to entertain at home was she would have to find a second location for the many copies of Maeve Binchy and Barbara Cartland books scattered about her otherwise scrupulously tidy apartment. The thought made her smile but just as suddenly the smile died on her lips. Did she want to risk jeopardizing the relationship she had with Emily, in the faint hope that they too could find the kind of romantic happiness that Miranda and Andrea apparently had? After all, that kind of synchronicity was rare and lightning was unlikely to strike twice in the same office space. No, Serena realized, better to leave things as they are, backtrack a bit even, with Emily. No need to rock the boat.

Feeling better for having decided, Serena left the conference room. Emily immediately jumped up from her desk. A glance into the inner office showed that Miranda had not yet left. Emily whispered frantically, "Are you okay? What did she want?" but before she could answer Miranda appeared in the doorway. "Serena, you are going to take care of that matter we discussed tonight, are you not?"

Serena turned to face her boss, "Consider it done, Miranda. See you later, Emily." and started to walk toward the outer office door.

Emily called cheerily, "See you at dinner. We're on at Mario's at seven."

Turning on one heel, Serena faced her friend, wincing at what she was about to do. "No, I can't make it. Sorry." Seeing incomprehension turn into profound disappointment, Serena turned away and quickly walked out. She felt terrible but less terrible than she would if her actions had impacted negatively for Emily in terms of working for Miranda. Working in fashion was all about sacrifice and if giving up on the hope of romance with Emily meant that they could both continue to rise professionally, then that is what she would do.

What Serena hadn't counted on was how much it would hurt. Within the next few weeks, she limited her lunches with Emily to two days per week at most, and eliminated all dinners and weekend activities. She was stunned to realize how empty her life became without the lively redhead in it. Serena had thought she had plenty of friends before she stopped hanging out with Emily all the time, but it turned out that, for the most part, her so-called friends were in reality vapid, incessant chatterers with very little to say. Once the three topics of men, shoes and fashion (shoes being distinct from fashion in so many ways) were used up, none of the beautiful women in Serena's life had anything worth talking about to say.

She longed to be able to call up Emily, especially at night when the shadows grew long and she was unable to sleep. It never failed to lull her into a soothing place of contentment and peace to listen to the other woman's low voice go on and on about the latest indignity suffered at the hands of Miranda or the situation in the Sudan. Rarely did they discuss anything of personal significance during these talks, such as their feelings for each other but Serena still knew that if she attempted to call anyone else, she would be met with disbelief, "You want to talk now?" or be sent straight to voice mail. Emily never did either but rather, would pick up the conversational thread where the two had left it when they went their separate ways earlier in the evening. Not frequently, but often enough, Serena would take the opportunity to relieve herself of the built up sexual tension while Emily nattered on. It turned Serena on quickly and efficiently, running her hands over her body, feeling the tightness in her nipples shoot bolts of electricity lower until she dipped her fingers into the reservoir of wetness. Emily never seemed to catch on, though she did once inquire innocently, "Are you on the tread mill, you silly thing? No wonder you can't sleep. Get into bed at once." The last comment was enough to send Serena delightfully over the edge which she did with a glorious sigh, bordering on a moan. She did indeed sleep well that night.

Now it was all Serena could do to keep herself from calling Emily. But the die had been cast, and recently the younger woman had been ducking out on their lunches herself. Serena couldn't be sure if she was glad she no longer had to face the object of her affections and the look of disappointment as Serena gamely gave her yet another excuse for why she couldn't have lunch. Reminding herself that it was all for Emily's own good, Serena punched her pillow yet again, trying to find a comfortable position and longed for her friend.

When the official invitation to the Runway Christmas party landed on her desk, Serena stared at it in frustration. Always in the past, she and Emily attended together, meeting up beforehand to quaff a few drinks to prime the pump for the evening of unsolicited attention from the heretofore faceless male minions from Runway; accountants, book keepers, comptrollers and

the like who were generally exempt from Runway events. Usually Emily received the lion's share of attention early in the evening as Serena was simply too intimidating to approach until the staffers were more sufficiently lubricated. It amused both of them to find new ways to discourage the unworthy in the most humiliating terms possible but secretly Serena reveled in knowing that at the end of the night, Emily would be going, if not to her home, at least as far as midtown in the same cab. Last year, Serena even surprised herself by planting a brief kiss to Emily's warm cheek as she got out. The memory of it brought a wistful smile to her face. This year, Serena sadly decided not to go. At least until her RSVP email of her regrets was returned to her with a terse line from Miranda herself, "Don't be ridiculous. Of course you will attend."

Feeling somewhat mollified that at least she tried to decline, Serena found herself on the day of the party in The Closet methodically rejecting everything offered to her. Finally unable to endure yet another hideous gown, she rounded the corner to escape back to the sanctity of her office. Only to run headlong into a pile of clothes. Or what seemed like a pile of clothes, until a dark head peeked around the mound. "Oh Serena, sorry! Couldn't see where I was going." Andrea haphazardly dumped what appeared to be the entire Armani Prive line onto an understuffed couch nearby. Serena smiled broadly at Andrea. She had never quite understood Emily's distaste for the funny, clumsy girl but never had to work directly with her either. Truth be told, Andrea, once she decided to dress like a human being and not some potato farmer, was quite an attractive woman. Not that she suited Serena's taste, which ran to fair skinned red heads. Plus the fact that she was Miranda's girlfriend and no one was foolish enough to interfere with anything related to Miranda.

"Hello Andy," Serena greeted the other girl, "looking for an outfit, I see."

Andrea laughed sheepishly, "Trying to find something for the Christmas party."

"Ah yes, me too." Serena confessed, "Nothing seems right this year." Last year, half of the fun of going to the party involved the many hours with Emily trying on and discarding potential gowns. And the unencumbered view of the smaller woman's toned body in the process.

"Let me get your opinion on something." Andrea held up a lightly beaded dark blue gown hopefully, 'Too blue?"

"This is for you?" Serena asked, impressed. The strapless gown came down low in the front, and full flowing skirt.

Serena nodded, "I think it should be quite stunning. I'd say yes."

"Really?" Andrea beamed, "I wanted to look really great for Miranda, you know. You don't think the front is too, uh, exposed?" A deep crimson blush started to flow upwards from Andrea's neck.

Serena appraised the other woman thoughtfully. "No, your breasts are full enough to carry it, I think. I'd need to see it on to be sure."

"That will not be necessary, Serena." Both women turned to find Miranda glaring at them. Andrea, unaffected by Miranda's scowl, picked up the dress again, "Let me go try it on and hope we won't need too much duct tape." As she passed Miranda to the dressing room, she gave the older woman a peck on the cheek. Once alone, Miranda turned her fiery glare to Serena. "Please refrain from assessing my...Andrea's...assets quite so boldly in the future

Flustered in the fury of the stare, Serena could only blurt, "I was only telling her that her breasts were large enough to hold up the dress, Miranda."

"Her breasts," Miranda's words were precise "are none of your concern!"

"No, you're right Miranda. It will never happen again." And making a hasty retreat, Serena escaped before Miranda could find fault with some other innocuous comment. Feeling more discouraged by the moment, Serena found herself just outside Miranda's office. Within, she could hear Emily pour out a litany of demands for New Emily. Smiling grimly, she walked into the outer office, "Hello Emily." Nodding regally to New Emily, she was glad when the newest assistant quickly rushed out the door, muttering to herself and scribbling on a scrap of paper.

Emily's back was to Serena, but the other woman could see one hand clench tightly before it uncurled and Emily turned around. 'Absence must really make the heart grow fonder. She's even more beautiful than ever and it's only been, what, five days since I've seen her.' thought Serena. "Which is five days too many."

"What do you want? I'm very busy." Emily spat out.

Taken aback at the hostile tone, Serena could only manage,"I just wanted to say hello."

"Fine. Hello. Now if you'll excuse me?" without waiting for a response Emily walked stridently out the door.

Crushed Serena made it back to her office, slamming the door shut just before the first tear fell from her eyes. Knowing her walls were paper thin was the only thing that kept Serena from letting herself wail as she silently sobbed into a handful of crumpled tissues. All of her months of frustration and unrequited feeling for Emily came pouring out of her. After an eternity of crying, Serena raised her head. Wallowing in self pity for what she had thrown away would do her no good. Checking her face in a mirror, she was appalled; her eyes puffed bright red, all makeup washed away, streaking black trails down both cheeks, even her lipstick was smeared. Repairing the damage as best she could, Serena then settled a pair of oversized sunglasses on her nose and made a beeline for the ladies room. Thankfully, it was empty and in no time, all signs of her breakdown washed away.

Resolutely, she returned to The Closet and took the first dress off the rack she could find in her size. Hanging it on the back of her door, Serena decided the best thing to take her mind off Emily would be work and set determinedly to it. A few hours later a ping on her cell phone reminded her to go to the Beauty department for her pre party appointment. Hair done in an elegant off the shoulder do to offset the half shoulder design of her Versace dress, nails touched up to compliment the light blue gown, makeup impeccably applied Serena knew that she looked good.

'If only the one person I wanted to see me was here' she lamented before chastizing herself again. 'Enough! This is the way it has to be.' Changing quickly into her dress, Serena found a cab and headed to the party, held tonight in a trendy downtown restaurant. Rumor was this was the newest workplace for Andrea's former boyfriend Nate.

By the time she arrived, the party was in full swing. Searching the crowd, she saw Emily near the corner of the bar. Wading through the throngs of partiers, Serena took a deep breath. And a flute of champagne from a passing waiter. Pushing away the impulse to down it in a single gulp, she sipped carefully, determined to keep her head about her. Deciding to act as if the past weeks of denied invitations to lunch and unacknowledged emails were a figment of her imagination, Serena sidled up to Emily. Taking a small sip from her flute, she murmured quietly into the shorter girl's ear, "Who designed that dress for Illyanna? A paper bag company?"

Emily giggled, "I know, it's awful. And what about-" cutting herself off, Emily turned to Serena fiercely, "No! You are not going to waltz in here and act as if nothing is wrong. How dare you!"

Serena tried to explain, "Emily, I'm sorry. I can explain."

Emily drew herself up haughtily, 'Don't bother. I have nothing more to say to you." and stormed off.

Serena watched in distress as Emily headed straight to the open bar, ordered a shot of something and tossed it back. Then immediately ordered another and did the same. Finally stopping to take a breath, she ordered one more drink; this time something in a tall highboy glass with ice. Turning to face Serena, Emily stared at her angrily before walking to the far end of the room to where a huddle of men in poorly fitted suits sat. Perching herself on the arm of one chair, she proceeded to beam her brightest smile at them and soon had the group in the palm of her hand.

Burning inside, Serena couldn't watch. She too headed for the bar, but ordered a mineral water instead of the harder drink she so desperately wanted. 'I need to keep my head tonight or I'll do something unforgivable.' she thought as she sipped the fizzy drink.

Over the course of the next hour, Serena slowly simmered. Emily seemed intent upon hooking up with one of the nameless masses, taking turns accepting drinks from various admirers, flirting outrageously and most recently, dancing with not one but it appeared four different men in a loose circle around her on the dance floor. None of the men got any more attention than the others, so all kept vying for her attention in the most obvious of ways. Just as one plucky fellow began grinding up against Emily from behind to the techno beat, Serena heard a voice shouting into her ear over the din, "Uh, Serena, don't you think you should go in there and uh, rescue Emily?"

Turning her head, Serena saw Andy, looking luminous and old school glamorous in the blue strapless dress. Miranda was no where to be seen, but Serena did have the presence of mind not to ogle the other girl too much. She replied, "Emily is a grown woman, Andy. She can take care of herself."

Andy scoffed, "Oh please, she's so tanked she probably doesn't even know where she is."

Serena looked back. Emily was draped between two pudgy men, both glaring daggers at the other.

Andy continued, looking worried, "Miranda says she can't get involved and because of my, well, involvement with Miranda neither can I. You have to go save her. If only from herself."

Serena sighed, "I doubt she would accept any help from me. At least not directly."

Andy's eyes brightened, "Hey, I have an idea. What are you drinking?"

Serena's eyes narrowed, "Mineral water. Why?"

Looking very pleased with herself, Andy said, "Perfect. C'mon, let's dance." and without waiting for an answer Andrea grabbed Serena by the wrist and dragged her onto the dance floor. Serena protested but to no avail as a surprisingly strong Andrea kept a vise-like grip on her hand, directing their bodies close to where Emily was now slow dancing with a weasel-faced man more intent on peering down her dress than paying attention to the people around him. Andrea hadn't given Serena a chance to put her drink down but just as they reached Emily, Andrea tugged at Serena's arm in such a way that the entire drink splashed down Emily's front.

"Oh Em, I'm so sorry!" Andrea gasped sounding truly surprised at her clumsiness. "Let's get you to the bathroom to clean that up. Hurry Serena, help me." Taking Emily by one arm, Andrea motioned for Serena to take the other. As they goose-stepped Emily off the dance floor, Emily followed meekly along muttering vaguely about the condition of her now soaked dress. On the way to the bathroom, Serena saw Miranda observing from a corner of the room, an approving smile on her face. Before she could think to hard about that, Serena found herself face to face with a very angry and slightly less drunk Emily. "Stay away from me!" Emily screamed. "Haven't you done enough to ruin my life? And now you've ruined my dress. Do you know how much I paid for this?"

Serena was too shocked to reply. Andrea jumped in, "Em, it was me. I spilled Serena's drink on you. If you want to blame anyone, blame me. Besides, it's only water."

Emily snorted, "Of course it's only water. I should have known. God forbid the Amazon ever let loose."

"Excuse me?" Serena demanded.

"Oh please!" Emily exclaimed, "Everyone knows you never let yourself have any real fun. It might mean you would lose a precious bit of self control. And we can't have that, now can we? Unless it's late at night on the phone. You think I didn't know what you were doing while I rambled on like an idiot? God, you make me sick."

"Emily" now it was Andrea's turn to be shocked, "Serena has never been anything but nice to you. How can you say such a thing?"

"Nice!" Emily turned on Andrea, "You call acting like I don't exist 'nice'? Making up excuses to avoid eating lunch with me? Not taking my calls? I may not have a lot of friends, but I do know that is not how one treats their friends. Actually," she said with a mirthless grin, "I have enemies that treat me better. At least they're honest."

Serena felt tears well up in her eyes. She didn't know what to say. Andrea tried again, "Emily, it sounds like you have a lot of-" she broke off when abruptly she turned Emily toward the nearest bathroom stall. Just in time, as Emily heaved up the contents of her stomach, mostly alcohol. Serena gathered a handful of paper towels, wetted them and handed them to Andrea who was murmuring soothing words and holding Emily's hair back. Taking the cold towels, Emily stood shakily to press them against her mouth, only to turn and throw up again. Andrea grimaced, "This may take a while. Serena, would you go find Miranda and tell her where I am? I don't want her to worry. And even less want her to come in here and find Emily like this."

Serena gratefully escaped. She was still reeling from the harsh words flung at her by Emily but admitted the truth of them. She had behaved horridly. 'And to think I profess to love her' she thought miserably to herself. 'I should have taken the time to explain to her, not just cut her out of my life.'

Finding Miranda near the buffet table, she quietly whispered to the other woman, "Andy is in the bathroom with Emily. Helping her tidy up."

Miranda smirked, "Yes, I saw the little mishap with your drink. Water, I presume?"

Serena frowned. Did everyone know her aversion to heavy drinking? "Yes, it was water."

"Thank goodness. A shame to ruin a perfectly good LaCroix. But, do you know what prompted Emily to get inebriated to a point where she needed to be doused in the first place? I thought you said you were going to take care of the situation?" Miranda turned her icy glare to Serena.

"I was taking care of it, Miranda." Serena answered feebly, trying not to tremble.

"By making it worse than when you started?" Miranda seemed doubtful.

"I tried to cut off all ties to Emily. I thought if I stayed away, everything would go back to normal."

"Clearly that strategy did not work. Emily has been more mopy and unproductive than ever. It's worse than when she was infatuated with you! And you" Miranda turned her glare back onto Serena, "your work output has hardly been exemplary. I've had the researchers working overtime correcting your mistakes."

"My mistakes?" Serena repeated weakly.'

Miranda sighed her best long suffering sigh, "Obviously the 'dumping her' tactic didn't work. Move on to the alternative and be quick about it. I won't have this situation linger on over the holidays. I simply have too much to do. Fix it" and with that, Miranda stalked off.

Serena was torn. As much as she admired, respected and feared Miranda, she felt strongly that the editor had no business interfering in her personal life. Although, she admitted, it was impacting on her work and on Emily's so it did, in a sense, impact Miranda. And when Miranda was unhappy, everyone was unhappy. That was simply a fact of life at Runway. Resolving to fix the situation, she called for a cab and went back into the bathroom. Emily was sitting slumped in a chaise lounge against Andrea who appeared to be trying to talk her into eating a stalk of celery.

"Oh thank God you're here Serena" the frazzled woman cried, "Emily's stomach is empty. At least I think it is, it must be by now. You need to get her home."

"Right" said Serena, certain now that her immediate task was made clear. "I've called for a cab which should be outside by the time we get her out there. Can you help me walk her out?"

Emily raised her head groggily, "I don't need your help. I'm perfectly capable of walking on my own." and promptly laid her head down on Andrea's shoulder, closing her eyes.

Thankfully, Andrea saw it coming, "Oh no you don't" she said rising to her feet, dragging a limp Emily along with her. "Come on, Em, time to go home."

Taking Emily's other arm, the two managed to walk Emily reasonably upright and out onto the sidewalk. The cold winter air revived Emily enough to open her eyes but not much beyond that. The cab Serena had called was waiting but the driver refused to let Emily in until Andrea looked him right in the eyes, saying softly yet in a menacing tone, "This is Miranda Priestly's personal assistant. If you want to keep your cabbie license another day, you will drive her home and help this other woman get her into her apartment without another complaint."

The driver swallowed, but gamely said, "What if she pukes in the car? Who's gonna clean that up? Not Miranda Priestly, I'll bet."

Narrowing her eyes, Andrea replied, "If she does throw up, charge the cost to Runway. But be aware that if you fake the charge and pocket it, I will hear about it and I will hunt you down for repayment. Am I clear?" Serena was impressed. Mild mannered Andrea had clearly learned a thing or two about intimidation in her time with Miranda.

The driver looked between Andrea and Serena doubtfully. Serena told him, "She's Miranda's girlfriend. I'd take her at her word."

At this, the driver nodded and got behind the wheel. Serena whispered her thanks to Andrea. "Just get her home" Andrea said, "And Serena, forget what she said earlier. Me thinks she doth protest too much. In fact," she added smiling her bright wide smile, "I know she doth."

Returning the smile gratefully, Serena got into the cab. Emily was slumped in the corner of the cab mumbling incoherently. Serena gathered her into arms and cradled the listless woman, sparing her the worst of the bumps and potholes. Once at Emily's apartment, the cab driver helped Serena into her hallway. Now that his cab was safe, the driver was very courteous and gentle with Emily.

"She's going to have a doozy of a hangover" he chuckled, "Try and get her to eat a banana and a couple of B vitamins before she passes out. It always helped me."

Serena smiled her thanks and handed over the fare plus a large tip. "I'll try that. Thank you."

Once inside the apartment, Serena was torn. Emily was able to walk on her own, mostly, but didn't seem to be in any more danger of being sick again. Leading her into the living room, she flopped down on the couch. The apartment was small enough that Serena was able to go to the kitchen to get a glass of water without losing sight of Emily. She found a packet of crackers in a cupboard, which she brought to the couch.

"Emily, you need to eat these, Sweetie" handing the red head a cracker, Serena held the glass of water ready.

Emily frowned at the cracker first before sticking it in her mouth. "God, these taste like cardboard. You'd think something with this many carbs would at least taste good."

Serena looked at the package, "Well these did expire in 2005, maybe that's why."

Nodding blearily in agreement, Emily drank thirstily from her glass. "Blech, how can bottled water taste like cardboard? Is there something wrong with my tongue?" Sticking her tongue out into Serena's surprised face she waggled it side to side. Taken aback, Serena was surprised to find that Emily's breath smelled of cinnamon. She'd expected much worse. 'Andy must have given her some mouthwash in the bathroom or something.' she thought. Pretending to seriously examine Emily's tongue, Serena commented, "No it seems to be fine. Here, have another cracker."

Emily found this remark to be hilarious, repeating "Polly want a cracker, Polly want a cracker." in a sing song voice. After the fourth cracker and the eleventh repetition, Serena sighed, "Alright that's enough. Time for bed, my dear" and hauled the smaller woman to her feet, leading her to the bedroom. Emily followed willingly, snuggling herself into the crook of Serena's arm hanging onto the taller woman's waist tightly. Once in the bedroom, she sat down on the bed and looked up at Serena expectantly. Knowing what she must do but dreading it nonetheless, Serena told herself, 'Just get her into her nightclothes and under the covers. Nothing sexual about that. She's your friend."

But Emily had other ideas. She played with the neckline of her gown, "Time for bed, eh? I don't suppose you'd want to join me for a change?"

Serena turned away, her face growing hot. She opened Emily's drawers looking for a nightgown or suitable tee shirt. Emily continued, "After all, isn't that the joy of the Christmas party? You can hook up with anyone and it's like going to Vegas-it doesn't count in the light of day." When Serena turned around, she discovered Emily sitting naked to the waist, her small pink tipped breasts thrust eagerly forward. Serena wavered, then looked away. She refused to give in to temptation but it was more difficult than she imagined. Resolutely she walked to the bed and knelt before Emily. "Let's get the rest of this gown off and hung up first, yeah?" she said in a choked voice. She raised her hands to Emily's waist as the other girl giggled and lifted off the bed enough to slide the silky gown off completely. She wore nothing underneath, a detail that made Serena choke again. Never before had she wanted anyone so much.

"I know you want me Serena. I can see it in your eyes. Come on, no one has to know" Emily reached out but Serena managed to grasp her by the arm and direct her toward the bed. She lifted up the covers and helped Emily slide underneath them. Tucking her in, she sat on the edge of the bed. Already falling asleep, Emily murmured, "I know you want to, my love."

Tears sprang to Serena's eyes and she gently stroked Emily's cheek. Seeing that the other woman was now asleep, she whispered, "Yes I do want to. But I love you too much, so I won't." She kissed Emily briefly on the lips, then turned away. She quietly hung up Emily's gown in the closet, pleased to see that the water hadn't damaged it in any noticeable way. Searching through Emily's dresser, she found a pair of athletic shorts and an oversized shirt which she quickly changed into. Settling herself into a large armchair across the room, she covered herself with an extra blanket from the end of the bed. She breathed deeply in the fleece, smelling Emily's scent in the softness. Listening to Emily's steady breathing soon sent her to sleep as well.

When Serena awoke, winter sunlight glared harshly through a gap in the curtains. She felt like she hardly slept a wink, waking as she did every time Emily moved or rolled over in the bed, just in case it appeared that Emily was going to be sick again. But the smaller woman slept soundly all night and well into the morning. Finally unable to stand the chair any longer, Serena crept into the kitchen to put on a pot of strong coffee. She could use it and was certain Emily would also to fight off the raging hangover she was sure to wake up with. As she sat at the tiny kitchen table, staring aimlessly out the window, Serena wondered as she had most of the night what to do next. Miranda made it clear, yet again, that the situation was intolerable but Serena knew she could never start up anything with Emily simply to suit Miranda's whims. Serena knew she loved Emily and suspected now even more strongly that Emily returned her feelings. She couldn't dismiss Emily's inebriated ramblings as just the loose tongue of a woman who had had a few too many. But how to broach the subject and explain her behavior of the past few weeks in a way that would satisfy Emily?

A cheery "Good morning!" nearly startled Serena out of her chair. She turned to find Emily looking rested, if a bit rumpled with her hair sticking up in strange places, no makeup, wearing an outfit similar to the one Serena herself wore, though in her case the shirt came nearly to her knees rather than to mid-thigh as it did on Serena.

"Good morning, Emily. Would you like some coffee? I just made some" Serena asked softly in deference to Emily's headache.

Emily frowned at her, "Why are you whispering? God, coffee sounds perfect. Have you eaten? I could eat a horse."

Serena stared back. Emily appeared to have no ill effects of the last night's indulgence. "Emily, how are you feeling today?"

Emily took a long draught from her steaming mug, "Oh that is heaven on earth, I tell you. I feel fine. Though still a bit peeved with you, young missy. Don't think I've forgotten how rotten you've been treating me lately. But" her head disappeared into the fridge, "I've decided to forgive you and move on. How bout pancakes?" she reappeared holding a carton of whole grain mix in one hand.

Serena was puzzled. She thought sure Emily would be incapacitated. "Why aren't you sick?" she blurted.

Emily grinned, "What? You think a few guzzles would do me in? Please! I can drink any of those boys from Runway under the table in nothing flat. Thanks for getting me home though. I must remember to text Andy a thanks as well." She went about cooking the pancakes saying, "Can you believe how she talked to that cab driver. 'I'm Miranda Priestly's girlfriend. You better do what I say.' It's about time she started to use that authority. God knows I would have by now."

Serena stared at the plate of food set before her. Emily tucked in without another word, cooing over the pancakes liberally slathered with butter and maple syrup, and moaning into her coffee. Serena never realized how much Emily enjoyed eating. It was a visceral experience watching her consume her meal. When she finished, Emily looked at her expectantly.

"What?" Serena asked worriedly.

"Well I seem to recall you and I said some very harsh things last night, or at least I did. I thought now was the time we would sort all that out."

"Oh" Serena didn't know what to say. Last night she had been furious at the accusations Emily had spat at her but her restless night had given her plenty of time to reflect upon her actions and around the time the light changed from deep blue to light purple in the sky, Serena decided to explain herself as best she could at the earliest opportunity. Which, apparently, was now.

"Do you want me to go first?" Emily asked seeing the distress on Serena's face who nodded. "Well let me say first of all that I have known for quite some time now that I have been...developing feelings... of a non-platonic nature for you." Emily said stiffly. "But I wasn't sure how to express those feelings or that, if I did, they would be returned." She took a long drink from her cup, then moved to the coffee pot to refill it. She seemed unable to look at Serena.

"Since I didn't know what your take was on the matter, I chose not to act on how I was feeling. It was easier than saying something and being rejected by you. At least, "she smiled wanly, "Until it wasn't. Easier, that is. Am I making any sense at all?"

"I understand" Serena answered warmly.

"There were times when I thought I knew how you felt. Sometimes you looked at me or did something that made me think "Aha, she does want me' but then in the next second it would be gone, you know?"

"I was afraid" Serena whispered.

Emily rejoined her at the small table. "Afraid? Of what?"

Serena sighed and ran a hand through her long hair in frustration, "I was afraid that if I told you how I felt you would laugh at me, or make some crack about lesbians taking over the office. Or" her voice grew even lower, "that you would never want me."

Emily put her hand on Serena's arm, "Why wouldn't I want you? I mean, my god, you're smart and funny and the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. God, if anyone wouldn't want someone it's you who wouldn't want me."

"No, I do want you!" Serena exclaimed, "All I want is you. Emily, don't you know? You're all I think about. I can't work, I can't sleep. When I do, I literally dream about you. You're the last thing I think of when I go to bed and the first thing I think of when I wake up."

"I am?" Emily stared at her in wonder.

"Yes. Emily, the only reason I acted the way I did is because I am a fool" she took Emily's hand, bringing it to her lips to kiss the back, "Please will you give me a chance? Because I think we could be great together."

Emily brought her other hand to caress Serena's face. "You are everything I have always been looking for."

Relief flooded through Serena. She leaned her head forward and kissed Emily on first one cheek then the other before moving to brush their lips together. It was electric. All the months of longing and wanting brought out an almost fierce intensity. Serena felt she could not get enough of Emily's mouth, her tongue eagerly slipping inside. She wanted to devour her.

Abruptly, Emily pulled away. Serena tried valiantly to follow, her puckered lips reaching out for more contact. "Uhhn," she whimpered in frustration. Emily laughed and stood up. "C'mere." she said in a low voice.

Taking the hand outstretched toward her, Serena followed Emily down the hall back to the bedroom. Once there, Emily turned around, quickly discarding her shirt. Serena stared at Emily's porcelain skin and firm upthrust breasts in wonder. Of their own accord, her hands reached out. At the first tender caress, Serena whimpered again. She could not believe how soft Emily felt. Stepping closer, she kissed Emily again and again as she stroked her skin. Emily moaned into her mouth, and started pulling at Serena's shirt. Serena reluctantly removed her hands from Emily's chest just long enough to whip off her shirt, then bent over to remove her shorts and panties in one quick movement. Reaching up, she pulled down Emily's as well, who stepped out of them with a giggle. From her crouched position, Serena looked up at Emily. Grinning wickedly, Serena tackled the smaller woman bringing both of them down onto the bed. Shrieks of delight soon gave way to passionate moans as Serena reveled in the feel of Emily's body, the taste of her skin. Serena rolled on top of Emily as the smaller woman brought both legs up to wrap them around Serena's waist. Serena could feel Emily's wetness all along her thighs.

"Oh god" she gasped, "you feel so good Emily."

"More" Emily replied, thrusting her hips against Serena.

It only took a moment for them to find the right rhythm. Serena could not believe how good Emily felt pressed against her. Before long, she heard Emily begin to pant, chanting in a voice so low Serena had to listen hard to hear, "Me amor voce, me amor voce." Serena increased both the friction and the tempo until almost before she knew it, she was falling over the edge, knowing from the sound of Emily's cries she was not far behind. Soon they were both side by side on the bed, catching their breath back.

Emily put one arm over her eyes wearily, "Whew! Well, I'd say that was long overdue, wouldn't you?"

Serena smiled, "Oh yes. Long overdue." She leaned on her side to watch Emily's face, running one long fingered hand over her lover's cooling body. "So when were you going to tell me?"

Emily frowned despite the grin plastered on her face, "Tell you what?"

"That you've been trying to learn Portugese."

Emily turned to stare at Serena, "What? How did you know that?"

Serena gathered her into her arms, "My love, you were chanting 'I love you, I love you" while we were making love."

Emily startled, "I was?"

Serena kissed her, murmuring against her mouth, "In Portugese."

Emily tucked her head into Serena's neck, "If you must know, I looked it up on the Internet months ago. I memorized it just in case, you know, we ever managed to get together. Did I say it right?"

Serena hugged her tightly, "No, but that's alright. It's the thought that counts. But don't you know, I didn't really grow up speaking Portugese."

Emily looked puzzled, "But you're from Brazil. Everyone speaks Portugese."

Serena traced a finger over Emily's stomach up to her breast, around and down again. "Yes, that's the official language but actually I grew up in a mostly German speaking household."

Emily arched into the touch, sighing, "Mmm, that's good. Wait a minute! German? You're not one of those 'Boys From Brazil' people are you?"

Serena smiled, "No, I'm not from a family of displaced Nazis, if that's what you mean. More like Cuban Americans who still speak Spanish at home, even though their family has been in the States for years." She craned her neck to bring her mouth closer to the breast nearest to her. "My god, your breasts are magnificent."

Emily giggled, "Hardly, but don't stop."

Serena took the hardened tip into her mouth, stroking the edge with her fingers. She suspected Emily thought less of herself than she let on and was determined to prove to her just how beautiful she was. Her skin, freckled here and there, was so pale it was nearly translucent. While thin, there was more to her than merely skin and bones. Underneath the silky skin the muscles were smooth. Serena feast on Emily's breasts, licking, teasing, nipping now and then with gentle bites listening carefully to Emily's sighs and murmurs of appreciation. When the redhead's voice reached a certain tone, Serena slid her fingers lower and effortlessly into her lover who gasped loudly and clawed at the bedsheets.

"There is not a language invented that can tell you how good that feels" Emily was nearly insane with pleasure from the combination of the hot breath on her body and the insistent pressure inside it. Pressure that slowly but firmly built until Emily felt she could not possibly feel any better. In a brilliant wave it washed over her, piercing her core, shattering her completely. Serena gathered her close, spooning her from behind, cradling her gently. After a few minutes of silence, she whispered, worriedly, "Are you okay?"

Emily did not speak right away but when she did, her voice was filled with tears, "Oh I'm fine. It's just...no one has ever made me feel the way you do."

Serena hugged her more tightly, "So we're back to being scared?"

Emily nodded. Serena kissed her shoulder. "Well if it's any consolation, you frighten me too. I think we need to make sure we don't let it get in our way. Not ignore it, or hope it will go away on its own. But talk about it. Agreed?"

"Absolutely." Emily yawned. "But for now, can we take a nap? Everything's better after a nap."

Serena laughed, "I agree. Sleep well, my love." And before she could hear the answer she was asleep.



Miranda felt torn. On the one hand, she met with difficult people all the time. It was part and parcel of her job. Advertisers all wanted better rates and key positions. Designers demanded more editorial shoots for outrageous budgets. Writers wanted to direct and directors to produce. So she shouldn't have been at all surprised when New Emily timidly admitted that Emily had taken a "personal day" to spend time with Serena, who, it turned out had called into the HR department to sign them both out. Regardless that it was a slow Monday in December, Miranda demanded of the quaking girl to get Emily on the phone immediately unless she herself wanted to find out firsthand what it was like to take a personal day, permanently.

"I have Serena" called out the trembling girl from her desk in the outer office.

"I distinctly recall asking you to get Emily and unless she is now interchangeable with Serena, I will be displeased." she shot back but picked up the phone nevertheless. Better to talk to one of them than wait for New Emily to get it right. Who knew how long that would take?

"Hello Miranda" Serena practically purred into the phone. Miranda recognized that post coital purr, and grimaced. Just because her sex life had improved dramatically over the past few months did not mean she wanted to contemplate anyone else's.

"What is the meaning of this?" she demanded. "Nowhere in my instructions to you did I say anything about taking days off, personal or otherwise."

"Miranda" Serena sounded like she was trying to reason with her, "I am following your instructions to the letter. It is taking slightly more of a time commitment than we anticipated."

In spite of herself, Miranda smiled the tiniest bit. She actually admired Serena's attempt to sound professional in light of the topic, her apparently successful seduction of Emily. She recalled the first few days of her sexual relationship with Andrea. Days in bed, followed by weeks of decreased productivity thanks to countless phone calls and sometimes slightly obscene text messages while at work during the scant few hours they managed to tear themselves away from each other.

"It is now the 17th of December" she said using her harshest tone just to make sure the happy couple remembered who was in ultimately in charge, "You have until the 19th to get things under control. Then you are back here working until the holiday break. Am I understood?"

Miranda couldn't tell if the gasp she heard was Serena or Emily listening in on the speaker phone but it was Serena who answered, "Yes Miranda. Understood. And...thank you."

Rather than listen to the girl gush, Miranda simply hung up but felt warm in spite of herself. Runway traditionally shut down all offices from Dec 23rd through to the New Year to give staffers a chance to spend time with whomever they chose to spend time during the holidays and to rest up before the rush to the Spring season. She herself spent part of the time with the girls, then traveled, usually to London or Aspen to visit with friends, take in luxurious spa treatments and catch up on the million details that being Miranda Priestly entailed.

This year promised to be different. The addition of Andrea to her life meant changing routines that took years to establish. But the payout was worth it. Miranda would never admit it to anyone but Andrea and perhaps the girls, but she had never been so happy. Andrea added a lightness and fresh perspective Miranda suspected was a long time in coming. For example, not only allowing personal days by her first assistant of all people but to actually help facilitate it? Ridiculous. And a bad precedent that she was determined to nip in the bud before anyone else got ideas about Miranda's newfound leniency.

"Emily" she called, and not waiting to be acknowledged went on, "Emily will be out of the office until the 19th. She and Serena are on special assignment and under no circumstances are you to allow them to be disturbed." She glanced up to see New Emily furiously taking notes in her small spiral notebook, "Word of this assignment is not to leave this office. If anyone asks where they are, you do not know. I doubt anyone will question your lack of knowledge. I will not allow myself to be besieged with gossip or innuendo. I simply won't have it. Clear?"

New Emily squeaked, "Yes Miranda."

"Now then, where are we with Andrea's parents?" Miranda continued.

New Emily checked her notes, "They are scheduled to arrive Friday the 21st at four. They are booked at the Hilton but in a regular suite, not the Presidential." When Miranda looked up, New Emily confessed, "Andy made me change it! She said the Presidential was too much. And she replaced the limo with a town car. And" New Emily faltered. When Miranda merely sighed, "Don't tell me. She exchanged the champagne and truffles for, oh I don't know, muffins and an assortment of those hideous flavored coffees?"

New Emily giggled, "Yes Miranda, that's it exactly.

Miranda winced, "Fine, fine. See that the front desk knows to have everything the Sachs need at their disposal and to charge it to my accounts. Reroute it if you have to." Miranda was well aware that Andrea's sense of personal pride wanted to insist that she pay for everything out of her meager journalist's salary but thankfully her sense of reality admitted she couldn't afford it. So they compromised. Miranda would pay for everything involved in seeing that the Sachs had a delightful time all around, and Andrea would let her do it. Most people wouldn't see this as much compromise on Andrea's part but it took the better part of Miranda's formidable negotiating skills to get Andrea to agree.

The next four days passed quickly but efficiently. Miranda was pleased to have Emily return to her usual standards, though her tendency to sigh while smiling lazily was getting old quickly. Serena at least had sense enough to stay out of Miranda's office unless it was completely necessary but even so, the few times she did come in she was unable to resist touching Emily as she passed the desk with a fond stroke of an arm or a caress of cheek. Once Emily was found hunched over the desk whispering furtively into the phone, only to straighten up blushing furiously saying "I have to go" before slamming the phone down when she realized Miranda was staring at her from the doorway to the inner office. Miranda turned a mostly blind eye to it all, only once having to resort to clearing her throat when left standing waiting for her coat one evening. That put Emily back into gear right quick.

Which was good since Miranda's time with Andrea had been limited to a single night together and a hasty lunch in her office of all places. A lunch that included what Andrea insisted on calling a "nooner" ignoring Miranda's clear distaste for the term, no matter how much she enjoyed the act itself. Unavoidable as it was, as the two women tried to finish up as many loose ends before their time off, it still made for lonely nights and a slightly more testy than usual Editor in Chief.

"Emily, I'm leaving in five minutes. Make sure my car is ready when I get outside and that Andrea is informed of my arrival." Miranda put the final codes into her accounting program and shut down her computer. Technically for the next two weeks, she was off work but certain that something would come up before her official return. It always did. The question this year was how much she would allow it to disrupt her personal life.

"Yes, Miranda. Andy says she'll be ready" Emily responded crisply. Seeing Serena hovering, obviously waiting for Miranda to leave, Miranda refused to be rushed. Taking her coat from New Emily she handed the girl an envelope.

"Emily, a little something for you from Andrea and myself. Happy holidays."

The girl stared at Miranda and the envelope, terrified. Miranda was well known for never ever giving gifts to her assistants for any reason. She knew well one of the perks of working for her was appropriating any and all the unacceptable gifts people foisted on her regularly. Silly phones and high tech gadgets she had no use for. Hideous first designs that would be better worn by a cat than a human being. Clunky bags and shoes the wrong size. All went willingly to her assistants but never a specific gift given by Miranda herself.

Turning to Emily, Miranda handed her an envelope as well. "Here you are Emily. I hope you and Serena will make good use of it in your time off. And" she looked carefully at the couple, "come back in January ready to work, hmmm?"

Speechless, Emily could only nod her head while Serena breathed a quiet "Yes, thank you Miranda. Happy holidays to you and Andy as well."

Swirling out the door, Miranda felt a strange sense of jubilation and euphoria. Two weeks with Andrea was a gift indeed. Caroline and Cassidy would be living with her the first five days but then go with their father for an extended vacation with him. Once in the car, Miranda sent Andrea a text: On my way. Be ready.

Andy texted back: u smooth talker u

Miranda frowned. While she agreed texting was sometimes more convenient, she did object to so called "text speak", the refusal of some to use proper English when writing. Her girls knew enough to avoid it when they communicated to their mother in this way, but Andrea needed a reminder it seems. Miranda pressed a series of random letters and hit send. Before any response came back, the car pulled up to the curb in front of The Mirror and Andrea got in. Bringing her lips to Miranda's in a cold kiss, Andrea remarked, "Brrr, it's chilly with that wind. I got your text but it was all gibberish. What did you mean to say?"

Miranda peered at her young lover, "I will send you one of two things, Andrea. Gibberish as you call it, or proper English. Not some melding of the two."

Andrea looked sheepish, "Oh right, sorry. I forget you hate it when I abbreviate."

"For someone whose entire career rests on being able to write properly, I find it fascinating that you succumb to the temptation to take the easy route."

"Yeah, yeah" Andrea scooted closer to Miranda on the wide leather seat, "Scold me later. More kisses now" and reached out to take her due. Their mouths met, one cold, one warm but both rapidly heating up. Miranda brought her tongue into play, gently easing it in, swiping it against her teeth before settling in to play with Andrea's. Andrea for her part, wasted no time in working her hands underneath Miranda's faux fur coat. The car's privacy screen was up so she had no fear that Roy would be able to see her feeling up Miranda who gasped when the cold hand reached up to cup her breast through her silk blouse.

"Oh Darling, I have never wanted you so much as I do right this minute." growled Miranda as she nibbled on Andrea's ear, flicking her tongue briefly inside.

"How many times can we go around the block before we get cited for cruising?" Andrea only half joked. The two had never been apart for so long, and now being together in the secrecy of the car she felt as the dam was going to burst if she didn't have Miranda right now.

"Not enough time, I'm afraid." Miranda said pulling back. "But just think how the anticipation will serve us later tonight. After dinner with your parents."

Andrea removed her hand reluctantly. "That's right. My parents. I can't believe I almost forgot. The things you do to my brain, Ms. Priestly."

Miranda retrieved her pocketbook to refresh her makeup. Never one to admit to nerves, she did feel some trepidation at meeting Andrea's parents. She knew that Andrea had made many attempts to convince them that the Miranda she was dating was not the same woman that had been her boss. She also knew that no manner of cajoling on her part would do any good if these two people were determined to dislike her. Their scorn of her she could handle, it was Andrea's reaction to it that gave her pause. Miranda never wanted Andrea to be put on the spot in regard to her loyalties. With a determined set of her head, she patted Andrea on the arm, "It will all be fine."

Inside the restaurant, they were quickly led to Miranda's regular table where a nice looking couple already sat. George Sachs was what central casting would call a "regular looking guy" with medium brown hair in a conservative side part cut, starting to grey at the temples. He wore a bland dark brown suit, club tie in a full Windsor knot against a light blue shirt and black wingtip shoes. His wife, Ellen wore a simple black sleeveless dress with a sheer silky over jacket, a strand of pearls and moderate gold hoop earrings. Her hair was as dark as her daughter's, worn long but not too long, coming to rest just below her shoulders in a clean layered cut.

Upon seeing their daughter, they both stood to embrace her with genuine warmth. Andrea turned saying, "Mom, Dad, this is... Miranda."

Miranda held out her hand to Ellen, relieved when the other woman took it, "How nice to meet you, Mrs. Sachs." Shaking George's hand, she bestowed her brightest smile on the slight man, "Mr. Sachs, I've heard so much about you." Taking Andrea by the elbow, Miranda settled her into her chair before sitting, the matre'd pushing her own chair in expertly as expected.

George tried to bluster, "Yes well, we've heard quite a bit about you too."

"Dad!" Andrea protested but was shocked into silence when Miranda laughed, "No doubt nothing good. But rest assured, those days are behind us. Wouldn't you say, Dear?" and deliberately Miranda took Andrea by the hand tenderly, gazing at her fondly.

Andrea melted at the sight of those crystal clear eyes pouring out their love for her. "Absolutely" and she squeezed the hand before laying it back on the table. Miranda nodded her head almost imperceptibly. Immediately a waiter appeared, "Your usual, Ms. Priestly?"

Miranda looked at Andrea's parents. They seemed to have relaxed but not by much. Putting on her best company face, Miranda inquired, "Mr and Mrs. Sachs, will you join me in a glass of wine? They have some excellent vintages."

George and Ellen exchanged glances, "Well I'm really more of a bourbon man myself." George hedged.

"Dad, how about a Manhattan? While you're here, seems fitting doesn't it?" Andrea asked. "Andrew, can you bring me and my dad each one, with Maker's?"

The waiter grinned, "Sure Andy. Two cherries?"

She smiled in return, "Yeah, that'd be great."

George shook his head ruefully, "Andy, where did you learn to order Maker's Mark?"

Andrea shrugged, "One of the perks of dating Miranda, only the best will do."

George frowned slightly at this but the waiter saved a potentially awkward moment by chiming in, "And for you Madam?" bowing slightly toward Ellen.

"Well I guess a glass of wine would hit the spot. Do you have syrah?" she said in a low even toned voice that immediately reminded Miranda of Andrea's.

Miranda said, "We'll have the Viader, 2002, if you have it."

"We do, Ms. Priestly. Right away." and he scurried off. Miranda turned her attention to the others at the table, who were chatting somewhat stiltedly. Andrea's parents, it dismayed her to notice were roughly her own age, if not younger. She noticed that Andrea and Ellen shared the same deep brown eyes and wide smile. Miranda saw that the trio was running out of polite conversation and jumped in.

"So your flight was acceptable, I take it?' she asked.

George answered, "Yes, thank you." He seemed intent upon looking anywhere at the table but at her. She tried again, "Andrea tells me you are an engineer, Mr. Sachs. Is it a large or small company?"

He cleared his throat, "Please call me George. Uh, yes it's a small start up. We manufacture boards for industrial modems. I design the inputs."

Andrea laughed, "Miranda, trust me no matter how many times he explains it, you won't understand what he does. You can't imagine what it was like for me to go to school and have to listen to all the other kids say 'My dad's a cop' or 'My dad is a lawyer.' No, I had to try to explain mechanical engineering to nine year olds."

As the waiter returned with their drinks, Miranda turned her attention to Andrea's mother. "And you Mrs. Sachs? I take it you're a teacher?" She gave the other woman her full attention, feeling there was more resistence from her than from Andrea's father who reminded Miranda more of his daughter in his relaxed casual manner. Ellen was much more high strung it seemed.

"Yes, I teach Social Studies and American History." she said, taking a large sip of her wine. Miranda knew it was an excellent vintage and so was a bit miffed that Ellen didn't seem to be enjoying it fully. But she put that down as a case of continuing nerves.

"At the high school level or middle school?" Miranda inquired.

Startled at being asked the distinction, Ellen continued, "I teach in a middle school but all grades, so 6th through 8th graders."

"Ah yes, I have two 6th graders myself." Miranda said.

Ellen said, "Really!" sounding completely surprised. Miranda smiled. Hopefully now they would find some common ground.

"Yes, I have twin daughters, Caroline and Cassidy. They live half time with me, and half time with their father who also lives in town. Would you like to see a photo?" Miranda asked.

"You carry their picture around?" Andrea sounded disbelieving.

Pulling the photo section of her wallet out, Miranda replied, "Of course I have pictures of the girls. Don't be silly Andrea. I'll bet your mother has one or two of you with her as well." She raised an eyebrow at Ellen, who smiled back, accepting the challenge.

"I do indeed." she said with a slightly mischievous grin. Reaching into her handbag, she pulled out an identical photo section which she exchanged with Miranda. The photo on top was of a younger, fresher faced, if that was possible, Andrea wearing what appeared to be an athletic uniform. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she held a soccer ball under one arm. Miranda looked at Andrea in surprise, "You played soccer?"

Andrea laughed, "Not well. In fact, I was voted Worst Player in the League by my team every year for three years running."

Ellen protested, "Oh Honey, you were not."

Her husband laughed, "Not officially, of course, but yeah, she was pretty terrible." They all laughed good naturedly as Andrea blushed and fished her cherries out of her drink.

Ellen shared Miranda's photos with her husband. As he took the photos, one fell out of the plastic sleeve. Andrea picked it up and choked. Miranda patted her back in concern but was soon waved away. Andrea looked her straight in the eyes as if no one else was there, "Miranda?" she asked in a tiny voice, still clutching the photo that had fallen. Miranda saw it was a miniature of the one from the Times article. Suddenly feeling the need to defend herself, she said brusquely, "Well it's a good photo" and downed what liquid remained in her glass, signaling the waiter to bring her another, pronto. Tears filled Andrea's eyes so Miranda took her hand again. "I keep it to remind me how lucky I am." The rest of the room faded away as she stared into the deep brown pools of Andrea's eyes. Using her napkin she offered it to Andrea to use before her eyes could overflow.

"That is so sweet." Andrea whispered, and managed to convey how much the photo meant to her with a gentle squeeze of Miranda's hand before turning to face her parents again. George handed back the twins' photos to Miranda saying, "They're lovely girls, Miranda."

"Thank you George." Miranda put the photos back into her purse.

She was surprised to hear Ellen ask in an even yet curious tone, "What do your children think of your...arrangement...with Andy?"

Miranda knew it had to come up sooner or later so she supposed now was better than later. Continuing to hold Andrea's hand, she replied, "Thankfully for me, they approve."

"And the age difference?" Ellen asked pointedly.

"Mom!" Andrea wailed.

"No, no Andrea, it's a valid concern." Miranda responded, "For my children, it's a non-issue. All they know is that Andrea is closer to their age than I am and that makes her 'cool'. I guess they think she's more fun than, say, someone closer to my own age. And I can hardly blame them."

"I see" Ellen murmured, finishing her drink and taking a sip of the new one provided by the ever attentive Andrew.

"As for myself, "Miranda went on, "It took some getting used to but I've come to realize that chronological age has little to do with anything when it comes to matters of the heart. Andrea and I are both legal adults, our relationship is consensual and will continue to be so until one or both of us decides it's no longer in our interests to go on seeing each other."

"But" Andrea added quickly, "That is a long time off. If ever." she said with finality.

"I agree" Miranda smiled wistfully, "as far I am concerned, I see no reason our relationship shouldn't last. I certainly can't imagine being with anyone else."

"Nor can I" Andrea agreed. "Mom, Dad, don't you see? I'm happier than I've ever been and it's because I'm with Miranda. She's amazing. I can't imagine wanting to be with anyone else either."

Ellen and George exchange glances, wordlessly coming to some sort of agreement. "As long as you're happy, then that's all we want for you Honey." George said. "And if Miranda is the one to make you happy, then we'll try to be happy for you. For the two of you" he amended raising his glass at Miranda.

"Thank you George" replied Miranda, gesturing toward the menus now provided by Andrew. "Shall we order? The curried prawns are quite good."

As they ordered their food, Miranda was pleased to note that both Andrea's parents seemed to be relaxing, asking about Andrea's job and friends. After eating well from the varied menu, Miranda looked up to see the restaurant's head chef approach. Normally, she didn't mind the attention from the kitchen but in this case she was willing to make an exception.

"Nate!" bellowed George when he caught sight of the white coated dark haired man approach.

"Hey George, hey Ellen. I heard you were coming tonight. How did you like the food?" Nate smiled, flashing his white teeth.

"We didn't realize you worked here" Ellen exclaimed, "Everything was just fine."

He smiled again with his perfect white teeth, "How about yours Miranda? Okay?"

Miranda plastered her special smile reserved for cretins she couldn't stand but needed to patronize, for Andrea's sake if nothing else. "It was quite acceptable, Nate, thank you."

He leaned over to give Andrea a kiss on the cheek, "Good to see you. I only had a moment to come out and say hi."

"Well don't let us keep you then Nate. Say hello to your parents for us, will you?" Miranda couldn't be sure but it almost sounded like Ellen was giving Nate the brush off. He merely gave a hasty wave and disappeared back into his kitchen.

"Mom, that wasn't very subtle." Andrea complained.

Ellen shrugged, "What can I say? I never liked that guy. He always acted like he thought he was better than he was. Gruyere cheese this and Emmantaller that. Please, it's a grilled cheese sandwich, not a cure for cancer."

Miranda laughed outright. Finally, something they could agree on!

"I believe the word you're looking for is 'smug'?" Miranda said to Ellen, smiling conspiratorially.

"Right. Or 'arrogant'?" Ellen held up her hand to Andrea. "I know you liked him Andy but I can't say I was too brokenhearted when you said you two had called it quits. He once lectured me for forty five minutes on picking the perfect tomato."

Miranda couldn't agree more but kept silent. Her feelings regarding Nate were quite well known but she was glad she wasn't the only one who thought the azure eyed boy wasn't good enough for her Andrea. Not that she'd admit if ever there was a boy good enough.

"Well I liked him" grumbled George picking at the remnants of his cheesecake.

"You just liked having someone to watch football with, Dad" Andrea teased her father.

"I don't suppose you like football Miranda?" George tried hopefully as the entire group laughed.

"No, sorry George. Never developed a taste for it. I don't suppose you have an interest in going to fashion shows? They can be downright bloody if the designers don't get exactly what they think they need. And believe me, they're all needy."

From there, the conversation turned to the more outrageous aspects of fashion, then on to other innocuous topics. All in all, it turned out to be a fairly painless evening but Miranda was glad when she found herself finally at home with Andrea.

"So tell me, how do you think the evening went?" Miranda paused to apply some lotion to her elbows before joining Andrea in the large bed.

Andrea's brow furrowed, "I think they liked you" she said slowly. "But then again, I thought they liked Nate too. Turns out, not so much."

Miranda countered, "Then again, given the circumstances, don't you think they would have been more forthcoming in their disapproval of me? That is to say, no doubt Nate wasn't much of an aberration from your usual dating habits. Perhaps they thought he would go the way of all your other previous boyfriends."

"Are you calling yourself an aberration?" inquired Andrea, snuggling into Miranda's side.

"Technically, the term is accurate." Miranda ran one finger down Andrea's arm.

"Only in the sense that I haven't dated a woman before." Andrea began to nuzzle Miranda's neck, breathing in deeply Miranda's unique scent.

"Did you ever want to?" Miranda scooted down so that her head was on a level with Andrea's.

Andrea thought about that, pausing in her exploration of Miranda's collar bone. With a brief shake of her head, she continued with what she was doing. "No, not really. I mean, sure, there were times when I played The List game with my friends but who doesn't want to do Angelina Jolie?"

"Hmph" Miranda sniffed disdainfully, "Too high maintenance. But pray tell, what is The List game?"

"Oh you know, it's when you get to make a list of all the celebrities you would change sides for if you could have one-time, no consequences sex with them" Andrea brought her hand up to slide over Miranda's smooth stomach.

"And who was on this list of yours? And do you have to create a new one now that you have actually 'changed sides' as you put it?" Miranda began kissing her way toward one delicate ear.

"Hmmm, let me think. Helen Mirren for sure but not done up as the queen, Charlize Theron, Kim Catrall, Meryl Streep, oh and that chick from the tv show 'Chuck'" Andrea trailed her hand up and down Miranda's torso as if undecided which direction to go next. Miranda took the hand and none to gently pushed it downward.

"You do realize" she said gasping as Andrea's hand went right to where it was needed, "nearly all the people on your list have light hair and blue eyes?" Gasping again at how good Andrea's fingers felt sliding through her wetness, Miranda added, "Don't tell me you have a type. Ah yes, right there."

Pleased at her handiwork, Andrea tried to concentrate on the conversation but found it was becoming increasingly difficult. Miranda writhed under her hand, spreading her legs in a most delicious way. Andrea rolled atop her and replaced her hand with her own wet center, groaning at the contact.

"Oh god that's good. No, I don't think I have a type, per se. I may have-" Andrea groaned again, "preferences. Here Baby, bend this knee just a bit. Oh yeah, like that."

Miranda too was having trouble concentrating but found attempting to continue her train of thought enhanced her experience. "And do you realize that...three out of four...of your conquests are-don't stop doing exactly that-of a certain age?"

Andrea rocked forcibly against Miranda, feeling herself dripping into the other woman. That thought alone was enough to make her even more wet, and she grabbed at Miranda's legs to try to force more friction between their sliding bodies. "So I like my women mature. Oh god god! At least I'm not a cradle robber...like some people in this bed. Oh yes, oh Miranda yes."

Miranda felt Andrea beginning to shake. She grabbed the younger woman's delicious ass and pressed it against herself as hard as she could. Right before she came, she managed to blurt out, "But aren't you glad I did?" Knowing Andrea was only seconds behind added to Miranda's delight. Long moments flashed as they clung together wrestling for every bit of pleasure. Finally Andrea collapsed atop Miranda, panting and giggling at the same time.

"Very very glad." she said smiling radiantly at her lover. "And no, I am not making another list."

The next day, the twins came back to their mother's house, each with a pair of ice skates draped over one shoulder. "It's tradition Andrea" Miranda explained. "Rockefeller Center."

"But I don't skate," Andrea protested.

Miranda clucked, "Of course you do. You're from the Midwest. Everyone in the Midwest ice skates." With that, she went to the storage closet and pulled out a pristine pair of skates monogrammed with a delicate M on the instep.

Andrea said "Plus I'm supposed to spend the afternoon with my parents."

Miranda grinned, "What better way to introduced your parents to my children? A no-pressure environment will be ideal." she patted Andrea on the cheek as she passed by to make sure the girls were putting on proper skating attire not just a hoodie and tights. As she went up the stairs, she heard Andrea mutter, "No pressure for anybody but me."

Seeing that the girls were wearing turtleneck sweaters under sweatshirts and blue jeans with thick rolled up socks, she entered Cassidy's room where both girls were hunting for Cassidy's lost left skate. "Cassidy, Caroline, how would you feel if Andrea joined us this year?" Both red heads popped up from either side of the bed. "Really?" asked Cassidy while Caroline inquired, "Can she?"

Miranda smiled. It pleased her that her daughters were so accepting of Andrea and their relationship. It had not always been so with her male lovers, even the ones who became their stepfathers. "The thing is, Andrea's parents are in town, visiting from Ohio and she promised to spend the day with them as well."

Caroline blurted out, "No, we want Andy to come with us" while Cassidy vigorously nodded.

"How would you feel if the Sachs came skating as well?" Miranda asked, hoping she already knew the answer. In this, as in most things, she was right.

"Cool" said Cassidy while Caroline chimed in "Fine by us."

"In that case, be downstairs ready to go in ten minutes" she added "I recall seeing a skate in the mud room last spring. Perhaps you should try in the bench by the back door."

As the girls raced off to find the errant skate, Miranda called New Emily to have her call the Sachs to invite them for a day of skating under the big tree at Rockefeller Center. Being on holiday was one thing; having to make her own calls quite another.

An hour later, Miranda slowly led Andrea around the rink guiding her wobbling steps. "I don't understand how you can claim to be from Ohio and have never been ice skating, Andrea" Miranda said, "Really, it's beyond me."

Andrea retorted, "I told you I didn't know how to skate. Did you think I was lying for some reason? Why would I lie about something like that?" And flailing again, she windmilled her arms attempting to keep upright. At that moment, George Sachs chose to skate by, zooming with apparent ease, "Come on, Andy! Tighten your ankles."

"I'll tighten your ankles," Andrea grumbled under her breath, taking yet another wobbling step forward clinging tightly to Miranda's steady arm. Miranda laughed, feeling wonderfully alive and happy. Swinging herself around so that she stood in front of Andrea, she took the taller woman by both hands extending their arms. Skating backward, she said to Andrea in a soft, calm voice, "Andrea, don't take steps. Glide forward. Let the skate do the work." Peering intensely into Andrea's large brown eyes, she pulled gently on the other woman. Caught up in her gaze, Andrea forgot her feet for a moment. It was a clear bright cold day and Miranda's eyes, under the white fringe of her hat, were the lightest blue Andrea had ever seen them. Glacial blue but so filled with warmth, it made Andrea's breath catch. Which caused her to topple headlong onto the ice, only barely managing to avoid bringing Miranda down too.

In an instant the girls skated over, stopping in a shower of ice. "Andy, are you okay?' Cassidy demanded.

"Are you hurt?" asked Caroline anxiously.

Andrea sat morosely on the ice. "I'm fine. I suck. I've never been able to skate and never will."

"Not with that attitude you won't" Cassidy sounded exactly like her mother. Caroline skated around to Andrea's other side. Together they hoisted her up. "Come on, we'll teach you." With one twin on either side, Andrea allowed them to guide her away. Miranda watched for a moment to make sure the trio was going to stay upright, then skated off the ice where she was soon joined by Ellen. The two women ordered hot chocolates and found a place to sit while the barista steamed them up. Miranda tried to think of something to say but for once, words failed her. She was certain Andrea's parents were warming up to her but it was still a bit stiff. Sipping her hot chocolate, she watched as Andrea slipped again, falling onto her side while the girls skidded away and avoided falling themselves. She winced, "Ouch."

Ellen laughed ruefully, "Not high on the graceful scale, my girl. I can't count how many times she came home from a skate night with her friends with a sprained wrist or ankle."

Miranda added, "Someday we'll have to compare notes on how many times I've seen her fall of her heels."

Ellen nodded, smiling, "At least you got her to wear them. I never could" taking a sip of her chocolate, she mused "not that she was a tomboy or anything but clothes never seemed to matter much to her. Until you."

Miranda wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not, so said nothing. Turning she saw Ellen rummaging through her handbag. Pulling out two very small bottles, she handed one to Miranda who looked at in with surprise.

"Schnaps?" she said.

Ellen nodded, twisting the cap off hers and dumping the contents into her drink before stowing the empty back in her serviceable bag. "A must for any skating expedition, if you ask me."

Miranda chuckled and added the liquor to her drink. The peppermint flavor mingled nicely with the chocolate. "Much better."

"I hope you understand, it wasn't so much Andy coming out of the closet that we objected to" Ellen said her eyes focused on her daughter. "It's more that we had never heard anything but complaints about how you treated her at work. She kept saying she didn't have a choice, like she couldn't ever quit and get a job that wasn't so demanding. We didn't understand how she could go from hating you so vehemently to suddenly being in love with you. It didn't make sense."

"I've often wondered about that myself" admitted Miranda.

"I wonder if it was all so much bluster because she was so confused about her feelings for you" Ellen turned to face Miranda again. "At Andy's age, it's hard to distinguish one intense emotion from another."

Miranda frowned, "Do you doubt Andrea's feelings for me? Because I for one do not."

Ellen shook her head, "Maybe before meeting you, I did. But seeing how you are together, and seeing how wonderful you are with your children, it's changed my perspective. I can see that you truly care for my daughter, and that her feelings for you are genuine."

Miranda breathed a sigh of relief. "I am glad," she said. "It would make things difficult if Andrea thought you didn't approve. Not impossible but difficult."

"It doesn't matter if I approve or not but I'm glad you understand the difference." Ellen shook her cup to loosen the final bits of her drink. Glancing over at Miranda, she asked, "Another?"

Miranda nodded brightly. "Allow me" and gestured to the barista who scurried to make two more hot drinks. Ellen, it seemed, carried a veritable liquor cabinet in her bag so this time they added brandy to their drinks. The one after that got rum. The two were pleasantly arguing over which was the better addition when the rest of the group joined them.

"Having fun?" Andrea asked, pleased that her mother and lover seemed to be enjoying each other's company.

"Very much so, Darling." Miranda replied, taking her by the hand and pulling her down for a brief kiss. Smelling the alcohol before she could taste it, Andrea smiled indulgently and raised her eyebrows to her father.

"They haven't," he groaned.

"They have," Andrea confirmed before demanding of her mother, "Alright Mom, give me the bag."

Ellen suddenly became very possessive of her handbag, clutching it to her chest. "No" she said stubbornly.

"Mom" Andrea said warningly taking the bag from her mother. Inside she found six small bottles, all empty. The twins eyes were wide. "Are they okay?" Cassidy whispered to Andrea, seeing Miranda sitting with her eyes closed face toward the sunshine streaming down.

"They're fine, Sweetie." Andrea passed the bag to her father who looked like he was going to burst out laughing any minute. "My mother has a tendency to spice up her hot chocolate whenever we go ice skating. Which is another reason I like to stay home where it's nice and warm."

"But I am nice and warm," Miranda piped up, not bothering to open her eyes.

The girls giggled, "You're drunk." At that, Miranda did open her eyes only to narrow them at the girls, then gave them a broad wink. "Hardly" she snorted.

"Not drunk girls," Andrea clarified, "only tipsy. Perhaps we should go get some lunch." As the girls giggled following, Miranda clarified, "Hardly even pipsy..tipsy." For some reason she felt more unbalanced than usual. She checked to see if her skates were on tight enough only to find that she was no longer wearing them, but was back in the patent leather Monolo loafers she arrived in. Taking Andrea by the arm, she whispered, "Now you can hold me up."

"Anytime, Baby, anytime." Andrea sounded vaguely condescending but Miranda couldn't figure out why.

Raising her eyebrow to its highest level, "I hardly think it's appropriate to refer to me as Baby when I am old enough to be your mother."

Ellen broke in haughtily, "That's right Andy. You treat your elders with some respect. Even if you are dating one." For some reason, both older women thought this was hilarious. Andrea rolled her eyes at her father. "Food" she mouthed to him. "And don't you dare laugh."

George tried to keep his mirth to himself but nearly failed. "Be sure Miranda doesn't get the chair in the corner then." At that, he and the two older women burst out laughing again.

"I don't get it," Cassidy said to Andrea, delighted to see her mother so openly having a good time. "Neither do I" added Caroline equally delighted.

"Someday" Andrea steered Miranda into the nearest deli, "we'll watch 'Dirty Dancing'. Then it'll make sense."

Miranda found that the food at the deli was surprisingly good and made a mental note to send out for her lunch there on the rare occasion she ate lunch in the office. Commenting on it to Andrea, she was surprised when Andrea pulled out a small notebook and wrote down the name, address and phone number of the restaurant.

"To give to New Emily" she said by way of explanation. "So that when you say 'Get me lunch from that place I went with Andrea's family' she'll have some inkling of what you're talking about."

"And you make it sound like I'm so difficult." Miranda replied, taking another bite of her Greek salad.

"Not difficult. Impossible to please, perhaps," murmured Andrea quietly.

Miranda smiled to herself at that. There were numerous times when Andrea had done more than please her, particularly that morning before the girls came home. Taking a look at her expression, Andrea guessed at the reason, gulped and blushed a charming shade of red. Glancing up at her parents, she saw they were chatting with Cassidy and Caroline. Ellen asked them about their school and teachers, obviously surprising them when she revealed that she was a teacher also.

"No way," Caroline insisted. "You're too cool," Cassidy finished.

"It's true," Ellen described the middle school where she had taught for over fifteen years.

Watching them all getting along so well, Miranda felt supremely contented. Leaning over to Andrea, she whispered in her ear, "Merry Christmas Darling."

Turning her head, Miranda placed a gentle kiss on Andrea's lips. Over the canned holiday music, street noise and loud conversation of the other diners, Miranda heard Andrea sigh, "Merry Christmas, my love."

She also heard the twins say in unison, "Gross" while the rest of the table laughed.

The End

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