DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To brithna[at]gmail.com

If I Lose You
By Brithna

 

Miranda hung up the phone and rubbed her temples. She was beyond incensed. Andrea was apparently giving her the silent treatment today. Miranda had not been able to reach her by phone at all. Last night they had the biggest fight they had ever had in their three years together. It was one for any record book that's for sure. The yelling got so bad that both the girls left the house without a word.

Andrea wanted too much of her right now. How could she not get it? Did she suddenly forget who and what Miranda was? How had this happened? Suddenly everything was changing and ever since Miranda had taken Irv's place on the Board things had just been getting worse, much worse.

In the beginning they were inseparable. They both made every single effort known to man to make it work. And it had for the most part. There were difficult times of course but they always managed to meet again in the middle-until now. It was like Andrea didn't understand her anymore. But quite honestly Miranda hardly had time to think about it. Her attention was required elsewhere.

Teen Runway was beginning to make a downward spiral toward the very depths of hell and her input was being demanded at Runway Italia' more and more. She had already been there a total of six times in four months. Her own publication was starting to suffer under the new Editors hands and honestly Miranda had never truly let her beloved magazine go anyway. She approved much of what went into the magazine to the chagrin of Loral Jamison the new Editor-in-Chief. Loral didn't really have any choice though. It was either put up with Miranda or be shoved under the water until she was rendered dead.

In Miranda's mind she was only doing what she had to, to keep everything she had built with her own two hands. When had that started to become wrong? Yes, the late nights and trips had become more frequent than she ever anticipated but she had not really anticipated any of this, had she? She certainly had not anticipated falling in love with a woman half her age. She had certainly not anticipated having her heart torn from her body and placed into someone else's care, but nevertheless it had happened. Now it felt like all that was moving further and further away from her.

The fact that everyone, not just Andrea, was up her ass, pissed her off even more. Andrea was constantly on top of her about being there more for the girls and their own relationship. Nigel was on her ass about being there more for Andrea. Hell even Irv Fucking Ravtiz had the balls to suggest that she would lose her 'little wife' if she didn't start paying attention to what was at home. He was one to talk. That man couldn't keep his pants up even if he was paid a monthly stipend to do so. He was the last person alive that should be giving her a relationship talk. The worst yet was her Mother. Juliana Priestly had let her have it until she had stopped taking her Mother's phone calls all together.

What was so hard about understanding that she had to keep this together at all cost? This was the single most important thing in her life and she could not lose it. She'd spent over half her life dedicated to it and she would never leave it. It was like a drug and she had to have it. She had to keep it. Every bit of it.

To her it was pretty simple. Everyone around her needed a big time lesson on what it meant to make sacrifices. Miranda had been lying down on the alter her entire life, time and time again. Look what that had gotten her. Success beyond her wildest dreams. Who could begrudge her that? Yes, the first two years she and Andrea were together, it was more than blissful but when duty called- it called loudly. Andrea had clearly known what she was getting into hadn't she?

So-again she asked the question: how had this happened? Andrea had finally reached the point of demanding her presence at home. Demanding. No one demanded Miranda Priestly to do a goddamn thing. Ever. Not even Irv had been dumb enough to do that and not think he wasn't going to pay for it dearly. To hell with this.

Miranda called Roy and five minutes later she was on her way home to her demanding wife, and her demanding children. She was going to settle this once and for all. Andrea would just have to start getting use to the fact that right now Miranda had very, very important things to do. Her exact words last night had been "I will not let my life's work suffer at the whims of what is going on in this household. Everything is on the line right now and I will not let it fall thru my fingers. No matter what the cost." Those words had not been said in a calm manner either. Try at the top of her lungs. The very top.

At the last sentence, Andrea had shut her mouth and went to the guest bedroom where she stayed the rest of the night. That was fine with Miranda. She had work to do after all. It never entered her mind to check on her children and make sure they were safely in bed. They were not. They were at a friend's house down the street and she didn't even know it.


Thinking about all this on the slow ride home just made her blood boil more. This silent treatment thing was the last thing she needed to deal with right now. She was ready for all this fight to end so she could get back to business. When the car stopped in front of her door, Miranda barley let it stop before she made her exit. She had her key in the door and was inside the house just as fast. The house was quiet but she didn't mind that at all. The last thing she wanted to hear was a bunch of yelling at the Moment.

Miranda literally threw her coat and bag into the closet and turned to look at the pile of mail on the side table. Someone would have to wake up soon and start paying the bills around the place before the lights got turned off. Miranda didn't have time so that meant that Mrs. Silent Treatment needed to get with program. Oh and great, here was a wasted stamp: Parsons School of Design was still sending her offers to teach. To make matters worse, the dean, Joel Towers called her at least once a week. Where would she find the time for that?

Just as she was about to turn around she heard someone clear their throat behind her towards the stairs. She turned around ready to begin the next yelling session when she was faced with one hell of a surprise. Her Mother was sitting on the stairs in a perfect pose, with a glass of wine in her hand and the bottle sitting beside her.

"What in the hell is this?"

Juliana lifted her wine glass "Hello my dear. This…is your Mother in case you have forgotten."

Miranda walked closer with a hand on her hip. She had half a mind to call Roy this instant to come back with the car and take her back to Runway. How dare her Mother just show up here uninvited? This was the absolute worst thing she needed right now. Was Andrea trying to drive her over the edge? Had she seriously called Miranda's Mother to come give her a lecture in person? God help her if this was in any way her doing.

"No Mother, I have no forgotten who you are. How could I? You will hardly leave me be."

"You look like hell Miranda." Her Mother poured wine into another glass of wine that happened to be sitting beside her. "Here, take this."

Miranda hesitated for a second then walked over and took the glass only to walk back away from her Mother for a few steps afterwards.

"So where is everyone?"

"They went out."

"Good. So when did you get here and come to think of it, why are you here to begin with?"

"Oh, I got here around noon and I came to visit my daughter, her wife and my grandchildren. Surely you don't mind that?"

Miranda studied her Mother for a minute while she thought of an answer. Actually she did mind. A lot. But then again when had Miranda's Mother ever done something other than exactly what she wanted to do? After all, the woman was seventy-three years old and didn't look much older than Miranda due to the wonders of plastic surgery. She traveled, she partied. She was not seventy-three; she was at the very most more akin to forty, hell maybe thirty if you took into account her crazy mind.

"No Mother, I do not mind. I'd prefer to move this conversation elsewhere though. Let's go up to the study if you insist on being here."

Without another word her Mother gracefully got up and headed to the study with Miranda trailing behind her. When they reached their destination her Mother sat down on the couch across from her desk. There was an envelope waiting there with Miranda's name on it. It was written in Andrea's handwriting. That would wait for later. Miranda sat down and stared at her Mother for another Moment before taking a long sip of wine.

"So…care to tell me what you're actually doing here? Have you come to tell me what a horrid spouse I have become?"

"No, why would I need to give you that little gem of wisdom? You already know that."

Miranda rolled her eyes and rubbed her temples again. This was going to be one hell of a night that much was clear. "Mother, I really don't want to do this with you right now. I have enough on my plate without you coming here to lecture me. I am a grown woman trying to take care of my responsibilities. If no one around here can grasp that then I don't know what to tell them."

"Miranda you are such a fool. But then I bet you know that too. You always were a bright one."

"Thank you for pointing that out Mother. I think its best you leave for the night or go to bed if you're staying here."

Her Mother sat up on the couch a little "I think you need to open that envelope before I leave."

Miranda raised an eyebrow and slipped on her glasses. So this was Andrea's doing after all. She would pay for that. Miranda picked up the envelope, it was a little heavy. She cut it open with a letter opener. When she started to pull out the paper inside two rings fell out. Miranda's heart stopped.

Laying there on the desk was not only Andrea's wedding ring but her engagement ring as well. She couldn't even move. Her gaze went from the rings and back to her Mother several times before she was able to speak. "What in the fuck is this?"

Her Mother took in a little bit of a surprised breath because she had never heard Miranda curse in quite that manner. But then again there was a first time for everything right? "That is her bond to you. She is apparently giving it back." Her Mother sat back against the couch now. No doubt ready to watch the show start.

Miranda quickly stood up and then didn't move again for a second. She wasn't quite sure what to do. What did this mean? Well she knew what it meant but, why? Why was this happening? Why couldn't Andrea just understand that this was what had to happen right now? It wouldn't always be like this, or at least that's what she'd been saying for the better part of a year.

When she started to walk around the corner of the desk to make her exit her Mother stood up. "No, Miranda. You need to sit down. You won't be going anywhere tonight."

Miranda stopped in front of her and hated that she still felt a tiny bit of healthy fear of her Mother. She hated it even more when she realized she was going to do exactly as her Mother told her. "I'll sit. Now tell me what you know."

"She's gone. She went to the house in the Hamptons so she can make some plans."

"Gone? How can she do this, doesn't she know…"

"What is she supposed to know? You are once again married to your precious work. You haven't been married to her in quite some time. That's pretty plain to see Miranda."

Miranda had heard enough "Stop, stop. Where are my children?"

"Darling it seems they have left you too. Why would they stay? They went with her. You know how strong their bond is with her…or do you even remember? What else would you expect them to do? Stay here and fend for themselves while you kill yourself for pretty pictures on pretty, glossy, pages bound together with glue?"

"What? She took my children?" Miranda jumped up and headed to the girls rooms. She reached Caroline's first and ripped the closet door open. It was half empty. When she got to Cassidy's room she found the same thing. Miranda stormed back to the study and faced her Mother again. "She took my children! She took my children away from me! How in the hell could you let that happen?"

"Sit down and shut up Miranda. I am not interested in your excuses or antics at the Moment. They're here children too and frankly she tried to make them stay but they wouldn't. Plainly put – you're screwing up your life more than you'll ever know! Sit down this instant."

Miranda clinched her fists. She was ready to throw something, destroy the room, and destroy the whole house in the process. Her wife was gone, her children were gone and now she had exactly what she wanted: Her empire without distractions. What the fuck?

She certainly was getting really good at this cursing thing. Silently or out loud, either way it was becoming a new way of life apparently. "Mother, what in God's name is so wrong with me trying to do the best job possible to keep what I have spent my entire life building?" Her voice was rising again but she could care less. It was her house and she would scream as loud as she wanted.

"I know I've already said this but you really are completely clueless aren't you girl?" Now her Mother's voice was raising and that was something pretty knew for Miranda's ears even after fifty-five years. Where do you think she got that quiet tone of hers? Straight from her Mother of course. "Miranda you should be doing the best job possible at keeping your wife and your family together! Not that goddamn magazine! Please, for the love of all that is holy tell me why you don't see that? I seriously want to know. I'll admit that I have never understood your drive and determination but this, this is insane. You've forgot how good you had it. You've taken that girl for granted! Did you honestly think she would stay put while you bled yourself dry? You left her alone to die in this house. What else is she supposed to do?" By the time Juliana got those last few sentences out she was almost whispering again. She was done trying to straighten out her daughter. She was on her own now.

"I'm going Miranda. I have a room. Call me if you need something." And with that she went down the stairs and straight out the door without so much as a backward glance.

Miranda sat in her study for another hour drinking what was left of the wine and staring down at two symbols of her love and commitment. The letter inside had one single line written on it:

No matter what the cost?

LATER THAT NIGHT

Miranda spent the night walking the halls and going in and out of the many now empty rooms. She had tried to go into her bedroom but one look in there and she almost vomited. She would no doubt be sleeping in the guest bedroom, or the couch, or the floor, just anywhere but their room.

When she made it back around to the living room for the fourth time, Miranda decided she had better sit down for a Moment. She was on her second bottle of wine and was finally beginning to feel the effects.

As she sat on the couch and poured yet another glass, Miranda began looking around the place, sizing it up. Before Andrea, her home was always in showroom condition. Every part of it. Much of it still was but this room was anything but the case. There was a two foot stack of movies on the floor by the entertainment center, an antique wooden crate in the corner held Xbox and Wii controllers along with stacks of games. Andrea's side of the couch was littered with blankets and books, while Miranda's side held a cup of pens, post-it notes of course, and a stack of newspapers. And pictures? Well there were pictures everywhere in this room. Everywhere she looked she saw her children and her wife on display.

If she thought she was close to vomiting before, she sure as hell was now. Miranda barely made it to the bathroom in time. After a minute or two she wondered if it was possible to vomit up her very own soul; but then she figured that you couldn't very well vomit up something you didn't even have to begin with.

Cleaned up and now in the kitchen, it was three in the morning. She wanted to talk to Andrea but she knew the woman wouldn't answer her phone. Andrea would be more likely to throw it into another fountain than to take Miranda's call. That little flashback felt like a stab in the chest. She would never forget that day.


Miranda nearly went ballistic when she saw Andrea throw her phone in the water. It took everything in her power to keep her cool. That night was a different story though. As luck would have it, Andrea's room was right across the hall from her own. The girl had to show up at some point to collect her things right? Right. So-Miranda waited. She canceled every tiny appearance she was scheduled to make that night and simply waited. She didn't have to wait long. As soon as she heard Andrea's door close that night she made her move. Miranda stepped into the hallway and pounded on the door.

"Andrea I know you are in there. You will open this door at once."

A long Moment passed then she could hear someone coming closer. "I have nothing to say to you Miranda."

"Oh, I believe quite differently. I think you have a lot to say to me and frankly I have several items to go over with you as well. You will open this door. Right now. Open it!"

Andrea finally opened the door and they hammered things out. She couldn't believe she was doing this. Explaining herself. Again. To this girl, who was not supposed to mean anything to her. What a night from hell. She should have fired her, or let her go, but she couldn't. She didn't know why, but she just couldn't do it. She could let her husband go, but she couldn't let go of Andrea.


God if someone had told her then that almost exactly a year later, everything would be doing a complete 360 degree turn around, she would have laughed in their face. The entire year following that 'night from hell' things seemed to change every day. Stephen left. She and girls got closer. She and Andrea got closer. And as hard as it was for either of them to believe, it seemed like throwing that cell phone into a bunch of dirty water was the best thing to ever happen. Or maybe the worst depending on how you looked at it.

For her work and family life, it was fantastic. Andrea anticipated everything Miranda wanted and needed even more than before, which in turn meant that work got done even more efficiently. Miranda now had more time for her children and whatever else she felt like doing.

For her internal life, it was murder though. There were times when Miranda had to nearly cause herself physical pain to keep from reach out to Andrea. To keep from kissing her. To keep from ripping her clothes off and doing only God knows what else. It was a test and almost a year to the day of the little cell phone mishap, she would fail it. Thank God Andrea had been having those same feels or all hell would have come crashing down around her.


There were only a few days left of Paris Fashion Week then Miranda could hopefully get back a little of her sanity. This should not be this hard. After all, it was just a little crush or something. Wasn't it? Whatever it was it had been getting worse. And like a fool Miranda just had to ask Andrea to have dinner with her last night. Alone. In her room. What an idiot.

Everything had gone well but Andrea seemed uneasy. Like there was something she wanted to say but couldn't, or wouldn't. After dinner when they started making notes and changes to the schedule, Miranda dropped a stack of paper work on the floor between then and they both knelt down at the same time to gather everything up. Miranda nearly lost it then and kissed her. Oddly enough what stopped her was the look in Andrea's eyes. Not a look of shock or disgust at being this close to Miranda, but a look of something close to desire. It took Miranda's breath away. Surely not. Absolutely not. There was no way Andrea could share her feelings. That was close to impossible.

Impossible or not here she was the following night and Miranda had no concentration whatsoever. She needed the notes on a designer she had seen today but couldn't find them. Miranda was pretty sure that if they were not in her room, then they must be in Andrea's. Channeling Emily, her old first assistant, Miranda let out a barely audible "Bloody-hell' and made her way across the hall.

Miranda knocked on the door secretly hoping that Andrea wasn't even in her room. But of course she was…

"Miranda what can I do for you?"

"I, uh…I need those notes from the uh…you know?"

"Yes I think they're actually in my bag. Come on in while I find them."

Why couldn't she have already had them in her hand or something? And why in God's name did she have to be wearing that robe? It was just a silk cream colored robe but dear God.

"Good. I need them. For some notes…I mean some more notes."

She watched Andrea rummage around in her bag and when she headed back toward Miranda she just had to drop them, right? She just had too? Miranda felt another 'bloody-hell' coming on.

She took a deep breath and knelt down to pick them up, praying that Andrea would remain standing but of course she wouldn't. So here they were again, looking each other in the eye so close that Miranda could smell a sweet red wine on Andrea's breath.

The pause between them lasted way too damn long and Miranda just couldn't take it anymore. Gone were all thoughts of Runway, all thoughts of her job duties or the fact that she was Andrea's boss. It just didn't matter anymore. She was failing the test and she didn't give a damn.

Miranda reached up and without a word she cupped the back of the girl's neck and drew her closer. Andrea did not back away.


Miranda raised her head up from the kitchen table. She had actually fallen asleep and it was now five in the morning. Miranda already knew there was no way in hell she could go to work. She couldn't remember the last time she had not gone to work in the past six months at the very least. Suddenly the noise of a cell phone grabbed her attention and she hurried to the counter to retrieve it. It was Cassidy.

"Hello, Cassidy? Are you alright?"

"I'm surprised you asked. We need to talk Mom, so make some time. Right now."

For someone that would only be sixteen in three weeks, Cassidy sure did have a way about her. She was her Mother's daughter after all, and she did not take kindly to being told 'no'.

"Did you hear me? I said we need to talk."

Miranda sat back down at the table and put the phone on speaker. "Yes I hear you fine. What is it darling?"

"Don't call me that. Seriously. Like, do you even care that we're gone? We're all gone and you probably don't even care do you?"

Miranda had to take a breath. She wasn't ready for this. Being confronted by your Mother was one thing, but by your child? That was another level entirely. "Yes, Cassidy I care. I care a great deal."

"You sure as hell have a funny way of showing it."

"Watch your language."

"No. I won't watch my language or anything else. You don't even know we exist so I think you're parental demands are just about used up Mom. Sorry but it's true."

"Cassidy, that is not true. I know that you exist…and I do love you all very much."

"No Mom. You love Runway. You love your job. If you loved us, you would be with us. Like really be with us. Instead, we're just a pit stop that you make to take a nap and change clothes. How is that love?"

"I have no idea what to say to you right now Cassidy. I really don't. I have tried to explain…"

"Yeah you've tried to explain and it was all crap. You made my Momma leave you…there is no way to explain that…" Cassidy was crying now.

Her 'Momma'… God, the first time Mirada heard the girls call Andrea that so long ago, it felt like someone squeezed her heart, in a good way.

"Cassidy where is your Momma? Can I speak with her?"

"She's outside and no you can't speak with her. I'm not letting you. We took her phone anyway."

"Why is she outside? It's five in the morning."

"She's been down at beach all night crying her eyes out. I can't believe you Mom. I really can't…Everything has been so great with her. We were all so happy. And now?"

"Darling, go get Andrea and put her on the phone."

"No! No, I will not put her on the phone! She can barely talk she's cried so much. Leave her alone. Do not come up here right now and do not call her! I'm serious Mom."

"So I should not try to work this out? Is that what you're telling me?" Miranda got up from the table and started pacing. All she could picture was her Andrea sitting on a blanket in the sand, crying until she was sick.

"No…I don't know. You don't even deserve her anymore."

Miranda leaned against the refrigerator and took a deep breath. Her daughter was right. She indeed did not deserve Andrea anymore. That was perfectly clear. "Cassidy…what would you have me do? What do you want me to do?"

"Do? What do I want you to do? I swear Mom you are the absolute worst sometimes. God…I can't stop crying. I hate you for making me cry…for making her cry. Caroline has been down there with her all night. I really should go check on them."

"No, Cassidy wait. Answer my question please…please answer me. What do you want me to do?"

Cassidy let out a tear strained chuckle "What do you think you need to do Mom? If you want us then choose us. If you want your stupid ass magazine then choose that. You can't have both. Mom, you've been doing this for practically your whole life right?"

"Right?"

"So what the hell? Hasn't that been enough time? You're fifty-five years old. Make a choice. You don't need more money and you certainly don't need to be more of a celebrity-if that's what you want to call it. Why can't you give your family what you give that stupid magazine? Time. Why can't you give us time? I gotta go. I see them coming up the path. Do not come up here right now, and do not call. I'm dead serious. I will call you later."

"I'm sorry Cassidy…"

Two Days Later

Two days had gone by with only one more phone call from Cassidy. Apparently things were not much improved and she still would not allow Miranda to speak with Andrea. She was also told yet again to not show up any time soon.

After using a day to sober up in more ways than one, Miranda went into the office for a few hours. She made the necessary arrangements for things to be taken care of in her absents. Her mind was made up. She was going to the beach house the next day whether Cassidy allowed it or not.

Having nothing to do for two days had given Miranda a lot of time to think, and to clean. She wasn't sure who had told Meryl, the house keeper, not to come around but that was fine. Miranda needed something to do while she thought about the nightmare she was living in at the Moment.

She also sat down and paid all the bills. At least for now the power would stay on and the internet was safe and sound. As she was tossing all the junk mail, Miranda came across another letter from Parsons. Instead of throwing it away like always, she opened it. Miranda read thru this latest edition of Joel Towers' attempts to lure her in three times and put it in her bag.

Meanwhile, Cassidy's words kept rolling around in her mind over and over again. "Why can't you give your family what you give that stupid magazine?" Good question. Why couldn't she? It was always about making sacrifices wasn't it? But exactly who had been doing the sacrificing? When Miranda talked about making sacrifices, what she failed to realize was that she wasn't necessarily the one on the altar. Everyone else was. Every time Miranda thought she was the one making a sacrifice, she was actually laying someone-her kids, her wife, or all three on the altar to burn. How fucked up is that? Miranda was a High Priestess.

Enough. It didn't matter if there was a no-call rule. She was calling. Miranda almost dropped the phone when Andrea picked up on the second ring.

"Miranda?" Andrea's voice sounded quiet and hoarse from crying.

"Yes…it's me. I…Cassidy told me not to call, but I couldn't wait any longer."

"Oh. Well I'm not really sure I have anything to say."

"Why are you whispering?"

"Because the girls will kill me if they know I'm on the phone with you, Miranda. I've been forbidden to call you for now."

"Andrea, you wanted to call me?"

"Not exactly. Not two days ago that's for sure. But…today I thought about it. Then I just got pissed off all over again and…well."

"I'm coming out there. Whether you like it or not, I'm coming out there."

"I don't think you should. I don't feel comfortable with that."

"Why?" God, if she could just get to the beach house maybe she could talk everyone off the ledge.

"Why? Because you make me weak Miranda. Because you've hurt me so badly…I don't think I can see you right now. I don't want my mind changed. You'll come up here and change my mind for me and then everything will go back to the way it is right now. I can't keep doing that. I can't keep hoping."

Miranda was sweating now. "I don't want to go up there to change your mind. That is not my purpose. I would like a chance to speak with you about a few things. If you do not…want to come back home then I will not try to change your mind. I can swear to that."

"The girls will be pissed. Do you know how much they love you Miranda?"

"Yes…I know, and they can just get over being pissed that I'm there."

"Your Mother is down the street. She came up to her house so they can go there if things…if they want too they can stay with her while you're here. They won't go home with you, I hope you know that."

"I know. They're more yours than mine these days. Obviously. I will not try to make them come back to the city."

"If you can keep your word that you will not try to change my mind and that you will not try to force them to leave with you – then come on. You're sleeping in one of the guest bedrooms, or the couch, or the back porch for that matter. You are not sleeping in our bed."

Miranda was already moving to find her keys. Her bags had been placed in the car hours ago. "Yes. Yes, I can keep my word and I will sleep on the roof if you tell me too. I'm on my way."

At The Beach House

As soon as Miranda turned down the dark driveway of the beach house, a light came on by the entry way. The rest of the house was dark. Once she was parked and walking up to the house, the front door opened before she could even reach it.

Andrea looked like she'd been run over and the sight of her took Miranda's breath away. Miranda entered the house and started to reach out to her but Andrea backed away.

"Don't touch me and unless you want to get physically removed from this house by two teenage girls, I suggest you remain as quiet as possible. I didn't tell them you were coming." Andrea said.

Miranda steeled herself and dropped her bags by the couch as Andrea headed for the back door through the kitchen area.

"There is coffee for you on the counter. I'm going back to the beach."

Miranda grabbed the coffee cup and silently followed. She was completely lost. All she wanted to do was beg Andrea to come back home but she had basically promised that she was not going to do that. So what now?

One Hour Later

An hour later nothing had been accomplished except that two coffee cups were now empty. Andrea seemed set on ignoring Miranda's presence for the time being and she was almost too scared to speak, so it worked out in both their favors. Miranda just sat there and watched Andrea stare out at the dark waves.

"Andrea what are you thinking about?" What a conversation starter. Fabulous.

"Nothing, Miranda, that's why I'm sitting here. I've been sitting right here for two days…trying not to think, trying to drown you out of my head."

"Is it working?"

"No, especially not now that you're sitting here ruining the silence."

"I can go in the house if you like…" She did not want to say that and was hoping that Andrea declined the offer.

"Right now I don't care where you go Miranda. I truly don't. Honestly, I can't even believe you're here. Shouldn't you be at work?"

"No…I made arrangements."

"Oh, well thank God for that. We wouldn't want your precious magazines to suffer in your absence. You know what…I think I must be a masochist because all I want to do right now is ask you to hold me. How fucked up is that?"

"I don't thin-"

Andrea cut her off "I don't care what you think or don't think. It's really sick. I'm so wrapped up in you Miranda. I always have been, to my own detriment. If I don't leave now then I never will."

There was a pause but Miranda knew better than to talk. It was pretty clear that she was not supposed to speak or hardly even breathe.

"Miranda, do you remember when you asked me to marry you? Not six months into our relationship and you wanted to marry me. Why was that? Do you even remember? Do you know why I married you? I married you because I loved you but more importantly, you loved me. From that first kiss we shared on that hotel floor, you were in love with me and not Runway. That's the person that I love and for a long time I had that person right beside me."

Andrea sat up straight in her lounge chair and turned toward Miranda. "Guess when things changed? The second Irv retired and you got what you had always wanted…your place on the board…you fell out of love with me. You were in love with Runway all over again. I can't share you. I won't share. I can't survive that. To see you in love with something else kills me and I can't do it anymore.

Guess what the biggest, most fucked up part of this whole thing is? For some insane reason all I want to ask you is –what did I do wrong? Like this is my fault. Like your love for your job is my fault and I need to apologize or something."

Miranda didn't care if she got her head bitten off. She was jumping in now. "Andrea, I think you know that none of this is your fault. This is all on me."

"Oh, trust me, I know that. I just can't help myself. Yet another sickening fact of my life."

"Andrea I'm leaving Runway." Whoa, where did that come from? She had only been thinking about it but it appeared that her mouth just made the decision for her.

"Ha…leaving Runway? I can't believe you were able to say those two words in the same sentence. Do you honestly think if you leave, I'll just run back to you?"

"No, actually I don't. Even if you didn't come back…if none of you came back…I'm still leaving. I have to let it go. " She knew that now. It was pretty clear that Runway would kill her in one way or another if she stayed. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – take your pick. Eventually it would kill her.

Andrea was audibly crying now and Miranda couldn't stand it. Getting out of her lounge chair she gently pushed Andrea forward and sat behind her in the chair. "You may not want me to touch you but I'm doing it anyway." Miranda put her arms around Andrea and she began to cry harder.

"Miranda you said you would keep Runway no matter what it cost…how can I believe you when you say you're leaving? How could you even say something like that to me? It's like you just canceled out every promise we ever made to each other, every bit of love, and every bit of trust. You took it all back. How am I supposed to go back to you after that?"

Miranda held her tighter and leaned back in the chair. She breathed a sigh of relief when Andrea didn't fight her. "Andrea, I don't know if I can ever make you trust me again, but I would like a chance to try. I know I said I wouldn't try to convince you of this but I want you to come home."

Andrea turned in her arms a little and rested her head on Miranda's shoulder. "Miranda, I want to come home, but I can't."

"Yes, you can. Darling, I can't tell you how sorry I am…I need to apologize to you and to our children for so many things. I left my family, I left my heart. You mean so much more to me than a job. I know you don't believe that anymore but it's the truth. If I lose you then I will have thrown away the best thing in my life. I will have thrown away my own soul."

Miranda paused long enough to lift Andrea's head up so she could see her eyes. "Andrea, I've been sacrificing the people I love for my job instead of the other way around and I am so, so sorry…"

Miranda couldn't talk anymore. She had her own tears to battle. All she could do right now was hold on to Andrea while they both cried in the dark with only the sound of the waves and the wind to cover their pain.

A While Later…

As they made their way back up to the house, Miranda couldn't help but feel better about things. They had not really officially resolved anything but it certainly felt like the air between them was clearer and that things were indeed on the mend. Hopefully.

Once they had cried it all out and dried their eyes it was silently agreed that it was time to go inside. Miranda knew she was probably destined for the couch and that was fine. It wasn't great, but it was fine. It would have to be for now.

Miranda was at the kitchen sink washing their coffee cups when she felt two slender arms wrap around her waist. Those arms felt like heaven. Miranda dried her hands off and turned in Andrea's embrace. How could she have ever been so stupid? How could she have ever taken this woman for granted? It made her heart pound to even think about being in their home all alone again. She had to get them all back. She just had too.

Miranda brushed her wife's hair back away from her face and tucked it behind her ears. "Andrea, I love you. I love you so much." She kissed her forehead and then placed light kisses over her eyes and cheeks. When she backed a way for a second and brushed the new tears from Andrea's cheeks. "Darling, please don't cry. Please…I swear everything will be better or I will die trying. You have to believe me." She wrapped her arms around Andrea's neck and they hugged each other tightly.

"I want to believe you. I do. Just…Miranda if I go home…" Andrea paused and cupped Miranda's face in her hands. "Miranda, if I go home and you break my heart like this again or in any other way, I won't survive. So what am I suppose to do?"

"I don't know what to say or do to convince you that I will do the right things for us. I will. Right now I think we both need some sleep. I haven't really slept in days and I don't think you have either. Please let me come to bed with you."

"Miranda I don't—"

"Shhh...I know. I didn't mean anything about that. I just want to lie down next to you and go to sleep. I can't sleep without you."

"Alright…I can't sleep without you either, you know. Just keep your hands off of me."

Miranda lifted her hands up as if in surrender "Okay. Okay."

After moving the laptop, news papers, and books off the bed, Miranda straightened the covers and got in. Apparently in her absents, her side of the bed was used as a holding area for any and everything that would take up the space.

"Sorry…I know you don't like stuff all over the bed."

"It's fine Andrea. I put everything over there by the dresser."

"Ok."

Now that they were lying here in the dark Miranda didn't know if she could sleep or not. How ironic. It didn't help that Andrea seemed restless. Just as she was about to say something she felt Andrea move beside her. Miranda held her breath as Andrea sat up and looked down at her.

"What are you going to do? If you quit, what are you going to do?"

"First of all, I am quitting. Secondly, I'm not really sure. You know Parsons has been after me for a while, and of course there are those charitable board positions that I always decline. I really don't know. As Cassidy informed me the other night, I don't need money."

"She told you that?"

"Yes, that and a great many other things which I don't really wish to recount at the moment."

"Hm, well you'll have to do something. You'll go crazy if you don't. "

"I know…come here please." Miranda opened her arms and Andrea slid back under the covers. There was an immediate retreat though when she moved to lay her head on Miranda's chest.

"Ouch, shit. What is that?"

"What is what? Oh, this?" Miranda pulled a delicate gold chain out of her cotton night shirt. It held both of Andrea's rings. "Your wedding rings. I wanted to have them close by in case you ever…"

"Oh, well…move it out of the way, please."

That was definitely not what Miranda had been hoping to hear. Miranda moved the rings over on the chain and Andrea lay down on her chest.

"Miranda, I love you. You know that. Right now I just…"

Miranda pulled her closer "Shhh…Andrea just…can we just…" Well there really wasn't anything to say. All she wanted to do was kiss her. So that was what she was going to do. No more waiting.

Miranda moved away from her enough to sit up on her elbow. She knew she wouldn't be turned way. She could tell by the look in Andrea's eyes, but she had to ask anyway. She wanted to be sure. "Andrea, may I kiss you?"

The only answer she got was Andrea cupping the back of her neck and pulling her closer. Her plan of a gentle kiss was quickly shot down by the crushing force of Andrea's passionate nature. Miranda moaned when she felt her wife's arms wrapping around her, pulling Miranda on top of her. If this was what 'Just keep your hands off me' meant, then Miranda hoped she heard that line every day for the rest of her life.

Andrea finally broke away from her mouth "Please make love to me…I need you Miranda. Make love to me."

Andrea wrapped her legs around Miranda and pulled at her night shirt. Miranda complied and slipped it off. "I love you Andrea."

"I know you do…"

"These are in my way." Miranda hooked her fingers into the offending silk panties and slowly removed them. "And this is in my way." She brought her hands up under Andrea's tank top and slowly caressed her sides. She cupped Andrea's breasts and teased her nipples. When Andrea arched into Miranda's touch, Miranda moved the tank top up and peeled it off of her. "That's much better."

As soon as the shirt was gone Miranda went back to Andrea's breasts, licking and teasing them both until Andrea was clutching at her back, begging for her touch. "God, you're killing me…that feels so good…"

"I missed you Andrea. I missed touching you. I will never give you up…never." Miranda moved down on the bed, kissing and biting at Andrea's skin as she went. She could feel the back of the girl's heels digging into the bed as she opened herself up more. She wanted release now but Miranda wasn't ready to give into her yet. When she started moving her hands up Andrea's thighs, she heard her cry out and it made her heart pound harder as she was once again reminded of what she had almost lost. Andrea cried out again when Miranda used her thumbs to tease over her hot wet center. Touching but not touching enough to satisfy her need. It made her claw at the sheets. "Please , I can't…I can't wait…."

Miranda never answered her; she just continued to move her teasing touch and mouth over Andrea's body. "Kiss me…" Miranda moved back up and devoured her neck on the way to her mouth. She felt Andrea grip her tighter with her legs and could feel her heat.

Miranda bit at her throat, making Andrea cry out as she slid her hand between them, gliding it through her wetness with ease. That cry almost became a scream and Miranda covered it with her mouth. Andrea sucked and bit at her tongue as Miranda increased the pressure of her touch. Andrea cried out again into her mouth and began clawing at the sheets again when Miranda slowly entered her with two fingers.

Miranda moaned loudly as Andrea made incoherent pleas for more and almost sat up off the bed. Miranda pushed her back down with her body as she drove into her harder. "Miranda! More…I want more…" Andrea pulled her in for a kiss as Miranda slid another finger into her and teased at her clit with her thumb. "I want to give you whatever you need Andrea…always." Miranda moved down and sucked at Andrea's hard, aching nipples. This almost sent her over the edge.

With each thrust Miranda felt closer and closer to being cleansed of the nightmare that she had caused. She would never let that happen again. Miranda rested her free hand at the side of Andrea's head to brace herself as Andrea continued to buck against her harder. She increased the pressure on her clit again and Andrea reached up with both hands and caressed her face, brushing Miranda's hair away from her eyes. "I love you Miranda…"

"I love you too darling." And not a second later she felt Andrea grab the rings and chain around her neck and pull at it with a new found strength. Just as it broke free she screamed Miranda's name, coming hard. Miranda covered her mouth with a deep kiss again and held on to her wife tightly with her free arm around her back.

When Andrea finally settled back into the bed, Miranda eased out of her and rolled them both over until Andrea was on top of her. Miranda kissed her forehead and caressed her back. "Are you alright darling?"

"Yes…I'm ok."

Miranda tilted Andrea's face up and saw that she had tears in her eyes. "Why are you crying?" Miranda wiped the tears away and hugged her tightly again.

Andrea sat up, straddling Miranda, and laid the rings and chain that she still clutched in her hand, on Miranda's chest. "I hope for your sake you can keep your promise because if you don't, I will probably kill you or at least try."

Miranda took the chain, along with the engagement ring, and laid them on the bedside table. "I will keep my promise. You shall see." She took Andrea's wedding ring and slid it back onto her wife's finger. "I love you and I will not make those mistakes again."

"You better not." She shifted off of Miranda and lay down next to her, pulling the covers over them both.

Morning

Miranda opened her eyes and took a deep breath once she realized that this was indeed real. Her wife was back in her arms. Miranda kissed the top of her head and pulled the covers around them tighter. The morning sunlight was just beginning to filter through the curtains but Miranda had no intention of getting up. She felt like she could sleep quite easily for another ten hours. Just as she was about to drift off again, the bedroom door opened.

"Momma can we sleep in here…what the hell?" Caroline stopped dead in the doorway along with her sister.

Thank God they had slipped some clothes back on in the middle of the night due to the chill in the air. "Good morning girls."

"Mom what in the hell are you doing here?" Cassidy tried to be quiet but failed and Andrea stirred.

"Miranda what is that noise?"

"Your children. Come over here and sit down girls."

'Come here and sit down' quickly turned into 'come here and lie down' as each of the girls chose a side and crawled in beside them. Cassidy hugged her mother tightly. "Are you back? Did you make a choice or are you still screwing around?"

Caroline reached across the bed practically crawling over Andrea and hugged her mother as well. "You better have chosen correctly or get ready to get out of this house. Seriously. We love you but we love her too."

"I'm quitting…I'm leaving Runway."

Both the girls pounced on them both with a fair amount of hugs and kisses until Andrea needed air. "Alright, I need air guys!"

"Sorry Momma. It's Caroline's fault. She's the one beside you."

"I swear to God will you never stop blaming each other for petty crap?" Andrea laughed.

There was a "No" given in unison as they both settled back down into bed beside their mothers.

Caroline claimed an extra pillow "Can we sleep here…we're sleeping here. I'm not leaving you two alone today so get over it."

"Girls you can sleep where ever you like, but just be quiet. By the way, I love you both. "

Cassidy kissed her mother's cheek "We love you too Mom. Even when you were being stupid, we loved you."

"Thank you. I appreciate that. Now sleep." Miranda drew Andrea into her arms and girls closed in around them.

As Miranda fell back into a deep sleep, the nightmare she had created in her family's life was fully replaced with a love and devotion that she would never break again.

The End

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