DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the second story in the 'Like' series.  It's not as much a 'story' as Like Andrea, just a continuation of that universe. Thanks and everlasting gratitude to my all knowing Beta reader Kamouraskan.  My stories are always better with Kam's input. I took some liberties with this one.  The biggest of which would be Macy's closing time.  I have totally no idea what their store or corporate policy is on that... I think I've been in Macy's about 3 times in my life... just go with it okay?   Thanks so much. :)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Like Family
By Gin


Part 2

They were sitting on a porch swing, watching the boats drift past on the water. Miranda was holding a sleeping Caroline on her lap, Andy had a drowsy Cassidy on hers. Andy shifted and spoke quietly. "Why don't we get these two to bed?"

Cassidy nodded and climbed up off Andy's lap. Caroline was fast asleep though and Miranda struggled a bit, unable to stand with the dead-weight of the sleeping child on top of her.

"Here, I'll take her." Andy lifted the girl into her arms. "C'mon Cass, let's get you guys upstairs."

Miranda followed slowly. Not wanting the events of the day to catch up to her, but knowing it was taking pretty much everything she had at the moment to make it up the stairs on her own.

They tucked the girls in, then went to their own room. The quietness of the house was the same as home, but different and Andy was keyed up at the difference. She wondered if Miranda was as well. Turning off all but one small lamp, Andy wrapped her arms around the thin waist. She smiled down at her love. "I'm still a little wired from the trip."

"Oh?" Miranda watched Andy carefully. God knew she was completely in love with the young woman, but at this very moment she was, regretfully, entirely too tired to do anything about it.

"Yeah, and I think I know exactly what might help me relax." Andy's eyes gleamed in the darkened room. "You know what I saw when I was in the bathroom earlier?"

Miranda lay her head on Andy's shoulder, returning the embrace as much to hold herself up as anything else. "Hmmm… what would that be?"

Andy whispered into a conveniently close ear. "A huge clawfoot bathtub. Definitely big enough for two."

"Really?" Miranda thought about that. "A long soak in a hot bath would be quite relaxing, wouldn't it?"

Andy's smile lit up the room. "I do believe it would."

Miranda smiled and nodded. She allowed herself to be led to the bathroom and hoped she didn't fall asleep in the tub. Her only comfort was that she knew if she did fall asleep; Andrea wouldn't let her drown.

Andy knocked on the back door of the house next to the bed and breakfast. It was early but Mary answered the door with a smile. "Good morning." She gestured for the young woman to enter her home. "Are you ready for breakfast?"

"Um… yeah. I'm going out for a run." Andy ran her fingers through her hair. "Miranda and the girls will be up in a little while."

"What do you think they'd like?" Mary gestured for Andy to have a seat at the kitchen table. "I usually make pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage patties… but if there is something you have in mind I can see if I have the ingredients."

"That sounds good for the girls… You'll have coffee right?"

Mary nodded. "Of course and orange juice or milk."

"Oh good… You don't happen to have mushrooms, provolone cheese and fresh spinach do you?" Andy sighed as the woman shook her head. "It's Miranda's favorite omelet, whites only."

"There is a new twenty-four hour market not too far from here." Mary pointed down the road. "How fast and far can you run?"

Andy stood and smiled. "As fast and far as I need to." She got directions from Mary on how to get to the market. "Do you need anything else while I'm there?"

"Nah," the woman laughed and patted Andy on the back. "You don't need to be carrying a whole bunch of stuff on your way back. Just get what you need and I'll fix it up." She stopped Andy from leaving with a hand on her arm. "Wait a minute." Disappearing back into the house, Mary returned with a slip of paper, the items needed written on it. "Give this to the clerk and they'll put it on our account."

"Thanks Mary," Andy stepped out the door. "I'll be back in a flash."

"Bring it to the kitchen next door, I'll go over in a little bit and get started on the pancakes." Mary shook her head as she watched Andy take off running down the road.

Miranda woke to the sound of the shower being shut off. "Andrea?"

Andy poked her dripping head around the bathroom doorframe. "Who else?" She smiled. "Good morning." Drying off quickly, Andy wrapped a towel around her and walked into the main part of the room. "What should I wear for breakfast today?"

"That depends…" Miranda chuckled at the expected response.

"Depends on what?" Andy ruffled her wet hair with a dry towel.

"On if you are going to eat breakfast, or if you are going to be breakfast." Miranda's sat back against the headboard, her eyes lazily taking in the, long lanky legs and the curves that couldn't even be hidden by the oversized towel.

"Uh…" Andy wasn't sure she could form a response to that. Neither answer really seemed safe at the moment.

Miranda relented. "Jeans I think would do nicely and your horrible Northwestern sweater."

"I should get you one." Andy smiled at the thought of Miranda wearing a sweatshirt with her school logo on it.

"It will soon be too warm for sweatshirts." Miranda smirked. "A t-shirt perhaps?"

Andy snorted at that, because she would never imagine Miranda wearing a t-shirt, not in a million years. She sighed. "I still need to call my parents." It had been too late last night, and Miranda had been too tired to have this conversation. It was something she needed to say, before she spoke with her parents. Andy lay down on the bed next to Miranda. "But first, I need to talk to you about something… Um… tell you something."

"Uh oh…" Miranda's tried to smile. "This sounds serious."

"I…" Andy shook her head. "It's not a big deal to me. I want you to understand that right now. I'm telling you, it doesn't matter to me in the slightest. I love you, completely, and I always will."

"Hmmm…" This is serious, she's really worried…no, she isn't… but she thinks I will be. "What is it, Andrea?"

"umm… my Mom… she," Andy sighed. "She had me when she was… nineteen."

Miranda raised her eyebrows and smiled. "You are upset because your mother was a teen mother?" She watched Andy's lips press together and realized…her smile disappeared. "Andrea… are you telling me…" Miranda's eyes closed. Oh God. It wasn't anything she'd expected but she was at least glad to know, before she met the woman. "Thank you, for letting me know."

"I'm going to call them now, let them know we'll be at the house right around noon." Andy traced the outside edge of Miranda's face. "I love you, Miranda." She smiled and shifted up to kiss the nearest cheek. "Mary will have your breakfast done soon, maybe you should go get ready?"

Nodding Miranda rose from the bed and walked gracefully to the bathroom. She had no idea how she managed the feat since both her legs felt numb from the information she'd just received. She heard Andy talking on the phone with her mother and sighed as she looked in the mirror. How the hell are you going to face Andrea's mother, knowing she's younger than you are??

"Hi Ma." Andy lay back on the bed and held the phone to her ear.

"Andy!" The woman was thrilled to hear from her daughter. "I was going to call you tomorrow."

"Yeah, Ma...listen…" Andy grinned. "I um… thought I might come…" Not home… "…for a visit, for my birthday this year."

"Oh, really?!" Mrs. Sachs squealed into the phone. "That's great!" She lowered her voice. "Listen… I have a friend from church who has a grandson that is in town this week… I think you went to high school with him."

"Mom… no… Mom... listen…" Andy sighed. "Do NOT set me up with anyone okay? I'm already seeing someone."

"You are?"

She sounds like I let all the air out of her. "Um…yeah." Andy ran her fingers through her damp hair. "In fact, I'd like for you to meet." The dead silence on the other end of the line didn't bode well. "Ma, you still there?"

"Yes, I'm here." The woman was all business now. "Where did you meet? How long have you been seeing him? Does he have a good job?"

He… Andy sighed. "I'll answer all your questions, and more when I get there. We're about to eat breakfast, but we'll be at the house around noon okay?"


"Yeah, we're coming in a little early." Andy smiled as Miranda exited the bathroom, her hair and makeup perfect. "We'll be there right around noon."

"Okay dear, I'm looking forward to meeting your new beau. Oh… and Chad is here too."

"Okay Mom…" Andy closed her eyes. "I'll see you then. It'll be nice to see my baby brother too." She closed the phone and lay there with her eyes closed for a moment longer before groaning.

"Problem?" Miranda buttoned her shirt and pulled on a curve fitting skirt.

"Just that she immediately tried to set me up with someone from her church's grandson and when I told her I was seeing someone she asked if he had a good job and said she was looking forward to seeing my new beau."

"Ah…" Miranda picked up the jacket that matched the skirt. "So the concept will be new for her."

"I honestly don't know how they are going to react."

Miranda nodded. "We'll deal with it together." She patted the young woman's thigh and grinned as the pat turned to a caress. "Now you better get dressed or we'll never make it to breakfast."

Andy laughed. "You go on down, I'll be there in a minute."

Andy joined her family at the dining room table. "Hey guys, how's breakfast?"

"Great!" Cassidy dug in to what was obviously her second helping of pancakes.

Caroline had eggs and one sausage patty on her plate, along with a banana. "It's really good Andy, the eggs are just right."

Miranda looked up from her omelet with shining eyes. "It's delicious." She hesitated then spoke softly. "Thank you, Andrea."

Andy grimaced and shot a glare at Mary. "Did you tell her?"

The hostess smiled. "I had to. It was too beautiful not to." Running all that way to the market for the ingredients to make her love's favorite breakfast. Mary sighed to herself. It wasn't often a person got to see real love these days.

"Hmmm…" Andy rolled her eyes at the girls and tried to lighten the mood. "Ewww… mushy stuff…"

Cassidy laughed, Caroline rolled her eyes and Miranda just gazed lovingly at Andy with a soft smile on her face.

With a small smile and a little nod of her head, Andy acknowledged the thank you even though it was completely unnecessary. "Lemme at those pancakes before Cass eats them all!"

"Are you sure Andrea?" Miranda was concerned. "I don't like the idea of you being alone."

Andy nodded. "I know, but I think it's best this way." She raked her fingers through her hair and ran her hands down her Chanel dress. "I'll go first, and…break the news to them…um… kinda gently?" She shrugged. "Then if they react okay, you can come to the house and meet them."

Caroline watched Andy closely and spoke up. "They aren't going to be mean to you are they?"

Cassidy wanted to know too. "It sounds like you think they're going to be mean."

Andy let out a slow breath. "I don't know what they are going to do. That's the point." She smiled and bent slightly as the girls rushed to give her a hug.

"Don't go then!" Cassidy held on tightly.

Caroline agreed. "Yes, just stay with us here."

"I love you guys so much." Andy knelt to look the girls in the eyes. "But I love my parents too, and I want them to be happy for me because I've found such a great family. So I'm going to go first and tell them all about you. Then you guys can come and meet them, and we'll all have lunch together there," she glanced at Miranda, then resumed her eye contact with the girls. "If they are mean to me after I tell them about you and your Mom…then I'll leave and we can go have lunch somewhere and decide what to do next." She hugged them. "They may not be mean to me though, they might not be mean until you guys and your Mom get there. If that's the case, if they are mean to you… we leave immediately. Okay?"

"Okay Andy. We love you no matter what." Cassidy knew Andy was worried. She could hear it in her voice. She wondered if she would be when she eventually brought the person she loved to meet Miranda and Andy. Somehow, she didn't think she would be.

Caroline smoothed out the lines on Andy's forehead with her small hand. "It's okay, Andy. We'll still be your family even if they don't want to be anymore."

Andy hugged the girls tightly, then stood and faced Miranda; unshed tears in both their eyes.

"I'm beginning to think this wasn't such a good idea." Miranda brushed Andy's bangs away from her forehead and placed a gentle kiss on the space she created. "You look lovely."

With a deep breath Andy smiled at the compliment. "I'll call you when I know something."

"Caroline is correct." Miranda wrapped her arms around her young partner. "We will always be family, your family."

Nodding, Andy held Miranda's cheek gently in her hand and leaned forward to press their lips together. It was meant to be a light pressure, but as soon as their lips touched it was electric, and she needed more. Deepening the kiss, Andy poured all she had into it, love, need, tenderness, passion, everything she was into that moment of contact as though there would never be another.

Miranda closed her eyes and realized what was happening. Andy was going to do something that would change her, in a fundamental way. No matter what happened at her parent's house, Andrea would be changed; much like a sword thrust into the coals, once tempered by fire it may harden under the smith's hammer, or shatter. Miranda hoped the parents would not break the heart she held so dear. "I'm only a phone call away."

"I'll talk to you soon." Andy kissed Miranda on the cheek and ruffled the girls' curly red hair on the way out the door. She looked back once at Miranda flanked by the girls, standing at the top of the steps leading to the porch. With a deep breath she turned, entered the car and gave the driver her parents' address. Closing her eyes she laid her head back on the seat, not wanting to look over her shoulder at the family she felt she was leaving behind.

"Something is wrong Richard." The woman looked at the clock and wrung her hands together.

"Now Dottie, you're just worrying over nothing again." He pushed some long graying hair away from her shoulder. "She said 'around noon' right?"

"Uh… Mom." Chad moved away from his post at the front window. "I um… think she's here."

They gathered on the porch and gaped at the long black car pulling up in front of their house. When the glamorous woman emerged from the limousine, they could only stare as she dismissed the car and walked up the sidewalk, heels clicking on the concrete.

"Holy shit, Sis!" Chad jumped down the steps and enveloped Andy in a hug. "You look awesome." He gave her a comical leering grin. "If you weren't my sister, I'd totally hit on you."

"Hey, little brother," Andy laughed as she had to look up at him. "Like you'd have a chance with me." They were so different, he with his light hair and sky blue eyes, her with her dark hair and dark brown eyes, but they were without a doubt, siblings. She gave him a narrow eyed look that morphed into a grin. "What are you doing home? Flunk out of college already?"

His grin widened and opened his arms in a gesture of freedom. "Spring break, Baby."

She rolled her eyes. "Please don't call me Baby." She shifted her attention to her parents and self-consciously pushed some hair behind her ear. "Um… hi."

"Hi Darlin'." Richard opened his arms as Andy climbed the steps to the porch. "You okay?"

Andy spent a moment in her father's embrace. "I'm fine, Daddy. Better than fine." She moved away from the man when her mother spoke quietly.


"Hi Ma." She hugged the woman. "It's good to see you." They had talked on the phone at least once a week since she'd moved to New York, but they hadn't seen each other in nearly two years. She was a little surprised to see her mother's graying hair, and lined face, but the attitude was the same and she wasn't surprised when the woman squeezed her arms and admonished her. "You're so thin! Have you had lunch yet?"

"Dottie," Richard warned.

"S'okay Dad." Andy laughed, as if one meal was suddenly going to fatten her up to her mother's satisfaction. "No, no lunch yet. I thought we might talk a little first."

"You said you wanted us to meet someone?" Dottie glanced back where the car had been. "He didn't come with you?"

"Let's go inside and sit." Andy gestured them all into the house, grateful for her brother's arm around her waist as they walked inside her childhood home.

Once they were all seated, Andy took a deep breath, cleared her throat but really had no clue where to start. "I don't really know where to begin."

Chad chimed in. "So your dude is rich and famous? The limo was kinda a gimme on that, Sis."

Andy nodded. "Rich, yes. Famous, in some circles…" She hesitated then took the opportunity. "But, not…not a 'dude'."

"Of course not!" Dottie scolded her son. "Show some respect for the man, Chad, really!"

"Um… no Ma, that's not what I meant," Andy forged ahead. "I mean…" She saw her Dad pale slightly and reach out to hold her Mom's hand. "I mean, I don't think she would appreciate being called 'dude'." Andy winced and thought, So much for breaking it to them gently.

"She?!" Chad's eyes nearly fell out of his skull. A minute later he was barely stopping himself from falling out of his chair laughing. "Oh my God… you're with a woman?"

"Chad!" Dottie was not laughing. "This is not funny at all."

"Sure it is, Mom, it's hilarious." He wiped the tears from his eyes and reached over to hug his sister. "I hope you guys are really happy."

"Thanks." She exhaled in relief. "We are… we really are."

"Dottie…" Richard jumped as his wife stood up quickly and left the room as fast as she could. "Dottie!" He went after her to try and calm both himself and his wife down a bit, before they spoke to their daughter again.

He found her in the kitchen, sitting at the table with her head resting on the hard surface.

"Dot?" He put his hand on her back gently. "I…"

"It's so impossible," Dottie whispered. "Our daughter…with a…"

"I know," Richard felt his stomach churning, "unbelievable. I would have never imagine someone could twist her mind like that."

"How could we have let this happen?" Dot was beside herself with worry. What if the people at church find out?

Richard nearly growled. "I just want to grab her and lock her in her room until she realizes what a mistake she's making! Maybe if she had time to think she'd come to her senses."

"You can't do that, Dad." Andy stood in the doorway, tears beginning to form in her eyes. She'd heard enough to know how disappointed her parents were, how 'twisted' they thought she was and didn't want to hear any more. "You know as well as I do that is unlawful restraint." She tried to smile at his shock. "I was accepted into Stanford Law school… remember?"

"I remember." Richard sighed. "I was so proud… we could have opened a firm together."

Dorothy was openly crying now. "This is such a huge mistake. Why, Andy? Why would you hurt us like this?"

"Hurt you?" Andy shook her head. "I'm in love. Don't you want me to be happy?"

"Of course we do!" Richard shuddered. "You just need to pick someone else to be happy with."

"Someone else…" Andy clenched her jaw. "You mean someone male."

"Of course that's what we mean!" Dottie raised her voice. "Someone appropriate!"

"Dot…" Richard began hoping to calm the woman down somewhat.

"There is no one else for me." Andy replied to the previous comment and moved to pat the man on the shoulder. She knew how much he hated confrontations. It had always been Mom that dealt with conflicts in the family. "S'okay, Dad. Let me talk to her." Andy smiled as her shocked father slowly left the kitchen.


"Andy…" Dottie wiped her eyes, shook her head and reached over a whole loaf of Italian bread to grab a package of regular white bread. She placed it on the counter and stared at it for several minutes. "I just don't understand this."

Andy sat at the breakfast bar, across from the upset woman. She wanted to hug her, but knew from experience that was one thing her mother didn't like to do when she was upset. "I know. I don't understand it sometimes myself, but I love her, Ma." Running her fingers through her hair she explained. "We wanted to tell you guys in person, because, very soon the press is going to get the story and have a feeding frenzy."

"Is…she so newsworthy?" Dottie couldn't imagine who her daughter might be…with that would be so important.

"Some people think so." Andy sighed. "It's going to be splashed all across the tabloids for sure, but before that I'm going to let The Mirror have the exclusive, I'm going to write the article myself to ensure that the information is correct, at least once." She waited several minutes for her mother's response.

"Why?" She studied her daughter carefully. "Why would you put yourself through that?"

Andy shrugged. "She's worth it."

"So are you going to tell me who she is?" Dottie continued to gather ingredients for lunch sandwiches.

"Yes." Andy exhaled slowly. "It's Miranda…. Miranda Priestly."

The jar of mayo slipped from her mother's fingers, bouncing on the floor along with the rest of the sandwich fillers.


Richard burst back into the kitchen, Chad on his heels. "What is going on in here?"

"Mom dropped some stuff." Andy gestured to the mess she was helping pick up. "I should have waited to tell her a name until she put this all down."

"A name?" Richard rubbed his shaky wife's back, wishing he didn't have to deal with this situation at all. "Are you okay?"

Dottie shook her head and glared at Andy. "Tell him."

"The person I'm seeing… it's, Miranda. Miranda Priestly."

"Oh my God… but she… you were…" Richard started to become angry. Anger was good; it meant he didn't have to think about his daughter and… "She treated you like dirt!"

"No… she didn't." Andy knew she'd never be able to explain it to her parents, to anyone really. "Trust me, even though when I worked for her there were times she was cold… it was just…" Andy shrugged. "Just trust me…"

"Wow… way to go Anna Nicole, you got a rich one with one foot in the grave."

Andy whirled on her brother. "Don't you EVER say that again."

"Whoa," he held up his hands in defense. "I was just joking."

"That's not funny." Andy shook her head against the very idea. "Besides, I wouldn't get anything, I don't want anything… I'm sure her daughters will split whatever she wants them to."

Dottie held on to the edge of the counter. "Daughters?"

Andy nodded. "Caroline and Cassidy, twins." Andy smiled as the image of the girls entered her mind. "They're great."

Richard gritted his teeth and again reminded her of her days as an assistant; back when she was still the daughter he knew. "You said they were monsters."

"They weren't very nice to me when I was an assistant… but they aren't nice to any of the assistants…" It was her turn to remind her parents that her job had changed. "But I haven't been Miranda's assistant for well over a year."

"I want to meet her." Dottie's tone left no room for argument.

"That was the plan." Andy nodded and pulled the phone from the purse she hadn't bothered to take off of her shoulder. "But I'm telling you right now, if anything is said to upset Miranda or the children, we are leaving." Silence greeted that statement and Andy took it as acceptance. She dialed the phone and only had to wait one ring before it was answered.

"Are you alright?" Miranda's voice was anxious although she was trying to mask it.

Andy smiled because she could almost picture Miranda's face as she heard the words in her ear. "Yes, I'm fine. I've broken the news to them, and now I think it's a good time for you to come on over." She grinned into the phone. "Ma's going to make sandwiches for lunch."

"We'll be there in ten minutes."

"But it takes…" Andy laughed as she realized. "You're already on your way, aren't you?"

"Yes," Miranda couldn't stop her voice from softening. "I thought it had been long enough, I didn't want you to be alone anymore."

Andy closed her eyes, ignoring the fact that her parents and her brother were watching her. "I love you."

Miranda chuckled. "Did your parents just hear you say that?"


"I love you too, Andrea." Miranda winked at the girls sitting across from her, rolling their eyes. "We'll be there soon."

"Okay, see ya then." Andy reluctantly ended the call. "Bye." She closed the phone after Miranda had also said goodbye. "They are on their way, it won't be long."

"Great." Dottie continued her lunch preparations, but knowing the others wouldn't be here for a while decided to just get the ingredients ready. She would actually assemble the sandwiches after this…woman, arrived and put the bread away until it was needed. "I have a few things to say to her."

"I meant it when I said we'd leave." Andy warned her mother. "I love you, but I love Miranda and the girls too."

"You would choose them over us?" Dottie was certain that wasn't true until Andy's immediate and definite response.


Richard heard the response, but didn't believe it for a second. Andy is my daughter, he thought. My family.

Andy was waiting on the porch for Miranda's arrival. Her brother was sitting on the swing with her.

"You know Mom's just… being Mom… right?"

"Yeah, I guess so," she pressed her lips together for a moment. "Dad's being kinda…quiet."

"Yeah," Chad nodded. "I noticed that."

Andy shook her head. "One of the main reasons I was so scared to tell them was that I didn't know how they'd react." She ran her fingers through her hair. "I never know how they are going to react, to anything."

"Yeah, they can be weird." Chad shrugged. "But they aren't usually psycho or anything."

"Psycho like Dad saying he wanted to lock me in my room until I come to my senses?" Andy ran her fingers through her hair. "That sounds pretty psycho to me."

"Uh…yeah." Chad shook his head. "But he didn't do it…so that's a plus."

"Is that why you want to be a psychiatrist? Because our parents are so weird?" Andy laughed at the logic of that.

"It's one reason." He shrugged. "I have some of my own issues to deal with too."

"Right…" She hugged herself and rubbed her arms with her hands. "Why do I feel like such a kid when I'm here?"

"That's natural." He cleared his throat. "Um… speaking of feeling like a kid…" He looked at his sister. "Isn't Miranda kinda…"

"Don't say it." She held up her hand. "I will forgive you the inappropriate joke when you first heard the news, but I'm not going to sit here and discuss your bias when it comes to older women."

"But Andy, she could be…" He stopped at her upturned hand.

"…my mother?" Andy questioned, angrily. "Honestly? I don't care… you want the truth? She's actually older than Mom is… there are twenty-five years between our ages, and I don't care. I love her, Chad and she loves me. That is the only thing that matters to me." She had become increasingly tense while speaking to her brother but then it all melted away as the long black car pulled up in front of the house. A smile lit Andy's face and she stood from the swing. "She's here!" Andy moved as fast as she could to get down the steps and sidewalk, to meet Miranda at the car.

Chad blinked at the smile. "Wow." Then he was amazed as Andy offered her hand to a very elegant woman emerging from the car, she was…exquisite. "Double wow." She's older than Mom? He watched as two children flanked the women and they all walked up the sidewalk together.

As the car pulled up in front of the house, Miranda reminded the children. "Remember what I told you. These people are Andrea's family. We must be nice to them for her sake."

"We're her family." Caroline pouted.

Miranda agreed. "Yes, we are, but so are they."

"We can be nice," Cassidy assured her Mother, to a point. "We'll be nice as long as they are."

Miranda nodded at the girl and graced her with a small smile, and a wink. "That's my girl."

The door to the car opened and Miranda saw Andrea standing there waiting. She took the offered hand with easy grace and when she was standing, leaned into her lover's lanky body. "Are you alright, Andrea?"

Andy's brilliant smile said it all. "I am now." She wrapped an arm around Miranda's waist, squeezing slightly. Truth be told, she wanted to tackle the woman, toss her back in the car and drive away, but that wasn't going to happen. She found Cassidy at her side and saw Caroline leaning against her mother. "C'mon, I'll introduce you."

Miranda was grateful for Andrea and Caroline's support, she couldn't help feeling she was being watched, and while she could usually dismiss it as paparazzi or a rival at some social event, this time it was different. This time she was being judged by people she very much wanted to get along with, for Andrea's sake. This time it was a very unpleasant sensation.

"Richard look, my god she's…" Dottie watched the scene at the end of her sidewalk and shook her head against the unmistakable connection between her daughter and this…woman. The smile on Andy's face was enough to make her heart clench. What can they possibly have in common? She thought. She's so much more… experienced than Andy. As the woman drew closer Dottie's eyes had a hard time reconciling what she thought she knew. The white hair seemed to indicate age even though there wasn't a strand out of place, but Miranda was very thin, her steps so…sure, her skin and face looked incredibly…smooth. Dottie's lined hand reached up to touch the wrinkles on her own cheeks and she knew her belly was larger than it 'should' be.

"We'll just talk with her, Dot." Richard wrapped his arm around his wife's shoulders. He gritted his teeth, pushing his own reservations down long enough to comfort his wife. "We might be able to make some sense of all this." He leaned down and kissed Dottie's cheek gently. "C'mon."

Topping the steps to the porch, Miranda found herself face to chest with Andy's brother. She tilted her head back to see the young man. "Gracious, they grow them tall in Ohio, don't they?"

"No." Andy scoffed. "Just him… he's a freak. He's even taller than Dad."

"Hey!" Chad grinned. "I resemble that remark!"

Andy smiled. "Miranda, Cassidy, Caroline… this is my little brother, Chad." She looked up at her 'little brother' with gleaming brown eyes. "Chad, this is Miranda, Cassidy and Caroline."

"Pleasure to meet you." Chad bowed a half bow to the girls and a full one to Miranda. "Andy's told us pretty much nothing about you."

Miranda smiled at the handsome young man's easy charm. "It's very nice to meet you as well."

Caroline spoke. "You don't look like Andy."

Andy snorted. "Thank god… can you imagine me with blonde hair and blue eyes?" There was a sort of gleam in Miranda's eyes. "What?"

Chuckling, Miranda shook her head and reached up to pat Andrea's cheek. "Nothing, I was just imagining a 'blonde' issue of Runway."

"I am not changing my hair color."

"Of course not, Andrea." Miranda spoke the sweet words in a matter-of-fact tone. "You're perfect the way you are."

Rolling her eyes at that, Andy gestured for her brother to move out of the way. "Move, you big lug…"

Laughing, he moved to the door and held it open as the women entered the house.

Richard and Dottie waited just inside the door for their visitors. He held out his hand slowly. "Hello, Mrs. Priestly."

Andy closed her eyes and was thankful when Miranda let the 'Mrs.' thing slide, she knew Miranda hated that. Instead Andy watched the older woman reach out to take her father's hand.

"It's Miranda, Mr. Sachs." She glanced at Andrea raising a questioning eyebrow.

"Oh!" Andy jumped into action. "Mom, Dad… this is Miranda, Caroline and Cassidy." She turned to Miranda. "Miranda, girls, these are my parents, Dorothy and Richard."

"We thought we could talk for a few minutes before we had lunch." Richard took a deep breath, physically stopped himself from wiping his hand on his pant leg and gestured to a door to his right. "Living room is this way."

"Of course." Miranda guided the girls through the door and they all found seats, her on a couch with Andrea snug next to her, the girls on either side of them. Andy's parents sat in chairs across from the couch, and Chad settled on the floor, next to Andy's feet.

The silence stretched on for what seemed like hours. None of them really knew what to say. It was making Andy very nervous though and she began to fidget. Miranda reached over and held a twitching hand before she cleared her throat and spoke quietly. "You have a lovely home."

Richard tried to ignore his daughter's fingers twined together with this woman's and waited for his wife to acknowledge the compliment. He finally spoke for them both, politely. "Thank you."

"What are you doing with her?"

"Mother…" Andy began only to be stopped by Miranda gently squeezing her hand.

"It's alright, Andrea." Miranda looked at Dottie and nodded. "It's a legitimate question." She wasn't sure exactly what the answer was though. "I think perhaps your mother and I should speak, in private."

Everyone in the room, except Miranda and Dorothy, gasped at that statement.

"Miranda, I'm not sure that's such a good idea." Andy turned her doe eyes on her lover. "Are you sure?"

The white haired woman smiled softly and nodded. "Why don't you take the girls and show them your childhood room." She spoke to Chad. "You and your father can go do…whatever it is men do…" She turned her ice blue eyes back to Andy's mother. "Dorothy and I can go finish making the sandwiches, since Andrea's growling stomach tells me she will soon be cranky."

"Miranda?" Andy still wasn't sure it was a good idea for the women to talk in private. Her mother seemed to be a nice person, but Andy knew, from experience, she could be vicious at times and Miranda was… well, Miranda. She wondered if she should talk to someone, a therapist maybe, about the seemingly lack of conscience she had about letting Miranda and her mother be alone in the same room. Sighing against the inevitable, Andy stood, then turned to offer her hand to Miranda, pulling the woman up from the couch. She hugged her quickly, whispering, "Defend yourself, but try to take it easy on my mom?"

"Of course, Andrea."

"I love you." Andy had no idea why she was saying that so often lately, but since she didn't have to hold it back anymore, every time she felt the urge to say it, she said it.

Miranda nodded, cupping the young woman's cheek, kissing the other gently. "And I you." She watched as Andy took the girls by the hand and led them upstairs. Turning to find Dorothy on her feet, Miranda raised an eyebrow and pressed her lips together for a second in an expression that, along with the ice in her voice, would have left any Runway employee a quivering mass of goo on the floor. "Shall we?"

Nodding, Dottie led the way to the kitchen, gesturing for Miranda to have a seat at the breakfast bar while she began to assemble the sandwiches. She pulled the loaf of sliced bread to the prep area. She studied the bread wrapper intently for a moment before speaking. "So? What are you doing with her?"

She makes me a better person, whether I want to be or not. Miranda thought, then answered with the only important information. "I love her."

"How can you say that?" Dottie shook her head. "You are so…"

Miranda waited for it…


"We are more alike than you think, but yes it is easier to focus on the differences." Miranda sighed. "Don't think I haven't spent sleepless nights thinking about the absurdity of all this. But our relationship is, in fact, our business. I don't owe you an explanation."

"She's my baby."

"She's an adult," Miranda reminded the woman. "Her twenty-seventh birthday is tomorrow."

"I always worried about people taking advantage of her. New York is such a big city, and she's so…trusting." Dottie shook her head. "I constantly worry about some man taking advantage of that, and now I have to worry about…"

"Andrea is very smart. You don't have to worry about that." Miranda shook her head. "And I will never intentionally hurt her. I'll take care of her."

"And when things don't work out?" Dottie asked, she didn't know much about Miranda, but she knew the woman had been married, and divorced, at least twice. "You don't have the greatest track record."

"True enough." I hope I've learned from my mistakes. Miranda turned the questions on Dottie. "How long have you and Richard been married?"

"Thirty years this year." Dottie acknowledged the luck of that to herself, if no one else. Getting married at sixteen was not something she recommended at all.

"Congratulations." Tilting her head, Miranda asked. "To what do you attribute the length of your marriage?"

Dottie opened her mouth then closed it. She laughed at herself then told Miranda her standard answer to that particular question. "Great sex."

Miranda chuckled. "Hmmm…" Explains a lot about my failed marriages I suppose.

Both women turned when there was a knock at the door.

"Hey," Andy walked into the kitchen. "I left the girls playing with my old dolls… Everything okay in here?"

"Good news." Miranda accepted a kiss on the cheek. "Your Mother has told me the secret to her lengthy marriage and apparently, you and I are going to be together forever."

Andy laughed at the strangled sound her mother made. Although the thought made her shudder, Andy knew the standard answer to the question regarding the length of her parent's marriage, and if that actually was the secret; she and Miranda were definitely going to be together forever.

"You ready for lunch?" Dottie held out a plate of sandwiches to her daughter. "Miranda and I can finish our talk later."

Dottie noticed the ham and cheese sandwiches on the twin's plates had barely been touched. She wished she could tell them apart as easily as Andy seemed to be able to. "Aren't you girls hungry?"

Caroline shrugged and Cassidy pouted. "I like the ones Andy makes better."

"Cassidy!" Miranda didn't raise her voice, but spoke intensely. "Apologize to Mrs. Sachs this instant. This is a perfectly acceptable meal." It didn't do her order much good when she looked at her own plate and saw only one bite taken from the sandwich there.

With half a sandwich left on her plate, Andy quietly rose from her seat and went to the prep area. She quickly shaved six slices off the Italian bread and assembled three sandwiches layering, ham, cheese, and thanks to Chad's propensity for home-made pizza, pepperoni, green peppers, and onions between the buttered bread. She pulled a skillet from the cupboard and twirled it once before she placed it on the stove.

They all watched her some with fascination, some with anticipation and one with pure love in her pale blue eyes. Dottie broke the silence.

"Is this why you keep her around, to cater to you and your children's every whim?"

Miranda raised an eyebrow at that thought and grinned at Andrea's snort of laughter. She turned a 'look' on Chad who good naturedly nodded.

"Yeah, yeah… I know… man stuff." He grabbed his sandwich in one hand and his quiet Dad's arm in the other. "C'mon Dad… I don't think we want to be around for this."

Miranda watched them go. "Your brother is quite intelligent, Andrea."

Andy shook her head and checked one of the sandwiches in the skillet. "He has his moments." She kept her attention on the cooking; not wanting to interfere with whatever Miranda was going to say to her mother.

"Andrea's ability to fulfill whims is quite amazing, but it is not the reason I 'keep her around'." Miranda placed her napkin precisely on the table next to her plate. "She is an adult and does what she does, because she wants to. She stays, because she wants to, I certainly don't have any control over that decision." Other than pray daily that she still wants to be with me the next day.

"Yes, you do." Andy spoke quietly as she gathered the uneaten sandwiches to her own plate then took the clear plates, back to the stove.

Dottie turned her attention from Miranda to Andy and watched as the young woman took the sandwiches off the heat and sliced them, on an angle. She was fascinated to see her daughter flip one side of the sliced sandwich over and fit it back snugly against its mate before she brought them over to the table. She set a plate in front of each girl, with the admonishment, "careful they're hot." then one in front of Miranda. What surprised Dottie the most was, that cutting the bread on an angle and flipping half like Andy did, made each sandwich resemble a heart.

"Thank you, Andy," Cassidy's eyes gleamed at the sandwich and she dug in.

"Thank you, Andy," Caroline smiled at the heart-shape for a second before picking up one half and taking a delicate bite.

"I don't force you to stay, Andrea." Miranda scoffed. "I don't believe I have the ability to force you to do anything." She smiled at the familiar sandwich. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, and of course you force me to stay." Andy countered as she took her seat. "What would happen if I left? How would you feel?"

I would be devastated. "I believe you know the answer to that." Miranda wasn't sure where this was going.

"I do, I know because I'd feel the same way." Andy smiled. "Which is why I'm forced to stay, I would never hurt you like that."

Something struck Dottie as strange. "Left? Stay?" The sudden realization hit her. "You live together?"

Miranda straightened. "You didn't tell her that, Andrea?"

Andy groaned. "Didn't I?" She sighed. "I thought I did…"

"How long?" Dottie thought she knew.

"Since the stalker was caught." Andy confirmed. "I just couldn't go back to that apartment… I stayed with Miranda, and have been there ever since."

"We love having Andy living with us." Cassidy grinned at the brunette. "She's lots of fun."

Caroline nodded. "She helps us with our homework."

"We don't even need a Nanny anymore." Cassidy finished her grilled sandwich and wiped her mouth.

Dottie tossed her napkin on her plate. "So that saves you a pretty penny, not having to pay a Nanny… do you compensate Andy for her services?"

"Mother!" Andy saw that Caroline was nearly finished with her sandwich and spoke to them gently. "Why don't you girls go find my brother, he can show you around outside. He's probably in the garage."

They nodded and left quickly.

Before Andy could speak, Miranda answered Dottie's question. "I have not compensated Andrea for anything since she ceased being my assistant." Turning to face the young woman, Miranda confessed, "I don't think I could afford what you're worth."

Andy rolled her eyes but blushed slightly and turned her attention back to her mother. "Mom, why would you even say something like that?" It was starting to make Andy sad that her mother just didn't get the fact that Miranda and the girls were her family. Compensation wasn't required for doing things for the people you love.

"Honey, every time we talk on the phone you are always talking about how expensive things are in New York… how hard it is to make ends meet… Your father and I are glad to send you some money to help out… but you should use it to pay bills, not buy fancy clothes."

"You receive money from your parents?" Miranda was disturbed by this information.

"Yes." Andy admitted. "But it's not what you think." She shrugged. "The conversations Ma described happened, but it's not me that talks about making ends meet, it's her. She forever worries about all things financial." She shook her head at her mom. "When I got checks from you, I just didn't want to fight it. It wasn't worth the effort to fight. I would simply smile, maybe make a token protest then say thank you, deposit the check in my savings account and forget about it." Andy spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. "You can have every cent of it back if you want Mom, I'll have it transferred into your account right now. I've never touched it." The stunned expression on her mother's face made her heart a little sad. She's never going to think of me as an adult. "I really am all grown up Ma… I can take care of myself. I did in college, I did when I lived with Nate, I did after Nate left… I did before I met Miranda, and I do now."

"And you would be fine without me." Miranda filled in the rest of the thought softly.

"No, I don't think I would." Andy corrected her. "But I'm never going to find out, so it's okay."

"I'll be back in a minute." Dottie got up from the table and walked out of the kitchen.

Andy sighed and watched her go. "She isn't an easy nut to crack."

"She loves you, and doesn't want to see you hurt." Miranda took advantage of their solitude, reaching out to caress Andy's cheek. "I can forgive her quite a bit because of that."

Andy leaned into the touch and couldn't stand it anymore. Straddling Miranda's thighs, Andy sighed as the older woman's hands caressed her back. She leaned down, pressing her lips to Miranda's, taking the invitation to deepen the kiss as a soft pressure requested entrance. Burying her fingers in the luscious white hair, Andy lost herself in the sensations until Miranda pushed her away, slightly.

"Andrea," She tried to catch her breath. "We cannot do this here." She groaned as Andy's strong hands tipped her head back and the young woman's warm lips attacked her neck. "Andrea… this is not the time or place."

"I know." Andy continued her assault. "I know." She found Miranda's ear and whispered. "I can't help it… you are just too...you."

"Andrea… what you do to me…" She gave in to the feelings and spent a long moment kissing and being kissed senseless. She was aware of Dorothy returning to the kitchen, but continued the kiss for a short few seconds more before she pulled away to inform Andy they had an audience.

Andy leaned her forehead against Miranda's and before the older woman could speak, smiled, and directed a comment behind her. "Sorry Ma." Unrepentant brown eyes twinkled into shining blue. With a final, not too short, kiss Andy slowly disengaged from Miranda and moved back to her own seat.

"Do you carry on like this in front of the girls?"

Andy laughed. "C'mon Mom, don't try that on me. Chad and I walked in on you and Dad plenty of times… doing far worse." She glanced at Miranda and curled her lip slightly. "It was kinda traumatic though… maybe we should…"

"We will continue as we have begun." Miranda assured her lover. "Anything less would be, unacceptable." She smiled. "If the girls do ever happen to walk in on anything… disturbing… I'm sure they'll live, most children do." She could see the question in Dottie's eyes and forced herself not to smile. Yes indeed, Dorothy, she thought. What exactly would I be doing to your daughter that would classify as disturbing? Or even better, what would your daughter be doing to me?

"You know what, Mom?" Andy said, smacking her knees with her palms as she rose from her seat. "Thanks for the lunch, but I think you might need some time to digest all the information we've given you. So I'm going to show Miranda and the girls around the neighborhood, maybe stop at the park for a little while and let the girls play. Do you want us to come back for dinner?"

"Perhaps we could all go out somewhere?" Miranda interjected. "I'd be happy to…"

"No, no… no need for that." Dottie held up her hand. "I'll cook." She asked Miranda politely. "Do you or your daughters have any dietary restrictions, allergies?"

Miranda shook her head. "No." She almost smiled as she saw, from the corner of her eye, Andrea shaking her head negative as well.

"It's okay, Mom." Andy nodded encouragingly. "Make whatever you want. I'm sure it will be delicious. Do you need anything from the store?"

"No… I'll make do with what I have…"

"Okay then." Andy offered her hand to Miranda. "We'll be back later this afternoon."

Dottie immediately began to worry about making fancy dishes for Miranda and her picky daughters. She was so lost in the worry she barely acknowledged the hug Andy gave her to say goodbye.

They found the girls outside with Chad and Richard playing basketball in the driveway. Andy and Miranda both clapped and cheered as Caroline made a basket.

Chad laughed and grabbed the basketball. "We found this in the garage and thought we'd give it a try. Cassidy suggested boys against girls…and well… you just saw the end result, the girls kicked butt."

"That's my girl." Andy smiled at Caroline. She ruffled the smiling girl's hair and laughed. "I thought I might show you around the neighborhood. There's a park not too far from here, it used to have a decent swing set. You two know anyone who might be interested in something like that?"

"Yeah!" The girls were excited. Outings, even just to their small backyard, were so much more fun with Andy or their Mom, or both, watching. They actually paid attention to them, not like the Nanny used to do, just sitting on the bench reading at a big public park. It would be different having them both watching when they were 'out'.

"Great." Andy winked at them. She turned her attention to her Dad. "We'll be back later. Mom said she was cooking supper."

"Good." He pulled her into a hug, turning so he didn't have to look at the white-haired woman watching. "Maybe we can actually visit then?"

"Maybe." Andy closed her eyes, not so grown up that she didn't enjoy a hug from her Daddy every once in a while.

He released her and watched as the Priestly family walked back to the waiting car. He took a deep breath, realizing that is what they were; a family and that included Andy. "We've lost her, Chad."

"Why's that?" Chad bounced the ball a few times and shot it into the basket.

"Didn't you see? She has a new 'family' now. She's…attached to…"He couldn't bring himself to say Miranda's name. "…her." He shook his head. "She's not my Andy anymore."

Chad snorted. "Course she is." He was sure he'd never understand his parents. "So what if she has a new family, it just means we do too." He shot the ball, bouncing it off the rim. "I, for example, was just playing basketball with my nieces…" He grinned at his father. "…and you were playing with your grand-daughters."

"What?!" He waved off the idea. "That's just insane."

"Why?" Chad stuffed the ball under his arm. "If Andy had married the loser chef, you would have welcomed him into this family with open arms…"

"That's different."

"Why? What's different about it?" As if I don't know.

"How can you just accept this?" Richard didn't think he'd ever understand his son.

"It's not easy. The age thing really kind of bothers me." He shrugged. "But Andy's happy, even I can see that."

"Yeah, she is." Richard took and moment to think about that. He was glad that Andy was happy, but then he remembered the perversion that made her that way. With a shake of his head he refused to think about it too hard and slapped the ball out from under his son's arm taking it for a lay-up shot. "C'mon. One more game and then I'm going in to see what your Mom needs done before Andy gets back."

Chad laughed and crouched in a guarding position. "You are going down, old man."

"Ha!" Richard took a deep breath, enjoying the first normal moment he'd had since Andy dropped her bomb on their lives. He laughed and bounced the ball on the hot asphalt. "In your dreams, Junior."

"Wow!" Cassidy's eyes bugged out when she saw the playground equipment in the park. "This is great!" The area was landscaped. A huge section marked with a low brick wall was filled with sand and standing proudly in the middle was an incredibly intricate looking structure made with wooden planks and strong ropes; the nets and bridges seemed endless.

Caroline didn't seem quite as excited.

Andy laughed. "Man, you girls are so lucky. C'mere." She beckoned them closer and pulled a small bottle of sunscreen from her purse. Dabbing bits on each of their cheeks and noses, she watched them spread the goo evenly over their faces. "They didn't have anything like this when I was growing up." Andy nodded as they put the excess from their fingers on the backs of their ears and gave them a bit more for the backs of their necks. Winking at them, she gestured for them to go on and play. "We'll be here in the shade watching you, okay?"

"Yeah!" Cassidy grabbed Caroline's hand and began to drag her toward the play area. "C'mon, this looks like so much fun."

"I'm going to get splinters!" Caroline fussed. Even though the structure looked kinda fun, she knew wood had splinters and rope often had those prickly bits that scraped your skin.

"Oh, you are not!" Cassidy rolled her eyes. "They wouldn't build it if it gave kids splinters." They were close enough now that she rubbed her hand along one wooden plank. "See… smooth as glass."

Caroline relented and followed her sister up the small set of steps to the first bridge.

Miranda watched as her daughter's started to explore the playground structure then studied the park with some amount of interest. "This area is quite lovely."

"Yeah." Andy looked around. "It never seems to be, when you are growing up, but after you leave for a while and come back you see it with different eyes."

"Mmmm…" Miranda nodded and spoke quietly. "You can never go home, is what they say. I think they mean once you leave, home just really isn't the same anymore."

"You're my home, Miranda." She watched the girls playing on the updated playground. "And I'll never leave you." The silence on her left almost made her turn to look, but she wasn't sure she wanted to see Miranda's face at the moment. There were too many expressions the older woman could be making and Andy knew almost all of them would cause tears to flow. As it turned out, tears began anyway as a petite, elegant hand slipped into her own.

"I don't deserve that kind of loyalty." Miranda sighed. "But thank you."

Lacing her fingers with Miranda's, Andy brought the hand up and kissed the back of it. "You do deserve it." She dared glance into shimmering blue eyes and squeezed the hand in hers, gently, for emphasis. "You most certainly do."

Unwilling to mar the moment with much needed discussion, Miranda watched the girls, felt the presence of Andrea at her side and thought. This is, she thought, a perfect moment. Turning to look at her lover's profile, blue eyes blinked at the insane beauty she saw there. A perfect moment, because of her, my Andrea.

Andy knew there were so many things they should be discussing, but she simply couldn't bring herself to talk about anything at the moment. So she sat, on the bench in the park, holding Miranda's hand and listening to the sound of their children at play. I'm so lucky… She sighed in contentment. How perfect is this?

Both women watched as the girls ran full pelt toward the bench.

"We're thirsty."

Andy looked around but didn't see any water fountain, she was sure there was one, but she looked at her watch. "We've been here a while." She glanced at Miranda. "You guys wanna go find something to drink and maybe shop a bit?" Caroline's eyes lit up, and Miranda's showed a spark of wary interest.

Cassidy shrugged. "Okay, I guess so." She was thirsty enough to agree to just about anything at this point, so long as she got something to drink in the process.

"I know there's a Macy's not too far from here." Andy nudged Miranda with her shoulder. "Won't it be interesting to go shopping?"

"That will depend entirely on if anyone recognizes me." Miranda shrugged at Andy's snort of disbelief.

"Recognize you? In Cincinnati?"

"You actually believe that there won't be at least one person in Macy's that reads Runway?" Miranda sighed. "My picture in on the editorial page, you know."

"True." Running her fingers through her hair, Andy asked seriously. "Would you rather not try?"

Miranda exhaled slowly as watched the disappointment begin to show on Caroline's face. "No," Miranda pushed herself up off the bench. "We can go." What's the worst that could happen? She thought and quickly squelched the answer from forming.

"Ohhh… look at this one!" Caroline pulled the dress off the rack and held it up against her front. "What do you think, Mom?"

Miranda eyed the lines of the dress thoughtfully. "Acceptable."

"Excuse me, ladies." An impeccably dressed man approached them. "The store will be closing in fifteen minutes, so if you would, please finish your selections and make your way to the front checkout registers."

Andy pressed her lips together and tried not to laugh as Miranda regarded the man much like a scientist would look at a bug about to be dissected.

Miranda's tone was calm, and her words precise. "This store will close when my daughters are finished shopping and not one second sooner." She turned back to the girls, well Caroline at least, happily looking through the racks. Cassidy didn't seem to have much interest in any of the offerings.

"Um… pardon me, but we have very strict hours." He wasn't sure what to make of the white-haired woman, especially when she turned her gaze back to him for a long moment, then spoke to the young woman accompanying her.

"Andrea, take care of this please?"

Andy winked and pulled her blackberry phone from her purse as she took the man by the arm and led him away. "I think we should talk in your office."

He wasn't wearing a nametag, but he obviously worked there, so he was either the manager, or head of security, either way he'd have an office. Andy nodded to herself as he led her to a door marked Manager. Once inside, she told him who Miranda was, asking for his discretion since she was on vacation with her daughters.

The manager explained to her that it was determined that this store operated best on these hours and they didn't start staying open later until school was out for the summer. At this time of year they closed at five pm on weekdays.

Sighing Andy scrolled through the contacts in her phone and found the one she was looking for. Punching the connect button, she held up one finger for him to wait while she made the call. She hoped they were still in the office.

"Susan Kronick's office."

"Hi Patty, it's…um… Andrea Sachs… calling on behalf of Miranda Priestly."

"Andy!? Wow, I thought she fired you?"

Laughing, Andy shook her head, even though the woman couldn't see it. "Long story. I'm helping her out for the next few weeks."

"Where's Emily?"

"Oh… she's back in New York, holding down the fort." Andy bit her lip. "That's kinda why I'm calling. Miranda is on the road, currently she's in Cincinnati and I'm standing in the office of the Manager of Macy's here." Andy explained to Patty the problem and asked if there was any way to 'convince' him to let Miranda and the girls shop a while longer; even though it was a corporate policy to close strictly on time.

"Oh… I think we can do that." Patty assured her. "Hold on just a sec." Within a minute Patty was back on the phone. She asked which Macy's and Andy told her their location. "I'm dialing now… hold on."

The phone on the Manager's desk rang and Andy could hear Patty's distant, professional, voice through the phone in her ear. "Please hold for Susan Kronick." Andy watched as the man's face paled. "Thanks Patty, you're a life-saver."

"No worries, Andy." The assistant to the woman in charge of Macy's department store division laughed. "Even I know not to get Miranda Priestly angry at Macy's…" She whispered, "And Ms. Kronick won't deny her, because if she did, Miranda would just go up the line to Thomas or Terry… and if she made it all the way to the CEO…" Patty left that threat hanging and Andy laughed.

It wouldn't have gone that far, Andy knew, she'd met Tom Cole at some of the charity events she'd covered for The Mirror. He'd have fixed the problem before it got all the way to the CEO, but if he'd have been out of the office and it had gone farther...

"Yeah, not a pretty picture." Andy grinned at the Manager who must be getting an earful, because he wasn't saying a word into the phone, only nodding. "Thanks for your help anyway."

"Sure." Patty sounded like she was smiling. "Have a great evening."

"Yup." Andy grinned. "You too. Bye now." Hanging up the phone, Andy waited for the man to finish being yelled at.

"Yes, yes ma'am, I understand." He hung up the phone and blinked. "Uh… you can tell your boss they can stay as long as they want."

Andy smiled. My boss. She nodded. "Okay, thank you." She scrolled through her blackberry contacts again and dialed the number of her favorite New York florist. Tomorrow morning Patty was getting a huge bouquet from Miranda.

Andy approached the trio and raised her eyebrows at the dress Cassidy was dubiously holding up to her. "Oh… nice one Cass."

Conscious of the security cameras, Andy stopped herself from kissing Miranda on the cheek, but grinned as she delivered the results of her 'talk' with the Manager. "Shop as long as you want to, Boss."

Rolling her eyes, Miranda almost, almost grinned at the term then took on a haughty attitude. "Of course."

Laughing at that, Andy turned to watch the children happily looking through the racks, oblivious to the fact that their mother had just changed the policy of a huge corporation, for them.


"Where are you?"

"um.. yeah, sorry Mom… we're at Macy's the girls are shopping and we lost track of time." She glanced at her watch and winced. Quarter after five.

I thought they closed at five. Dottie did some quick calculations in her head. "I can hold dinner until six-thirty."

Andy sighed. "Well… thing is, the girls are looking at dresses and I dunno how long we'll be."

"I thought they closed at five this month."

"Well…not today…"

Dottie wasn't sure why Andy didn't seem to think business hours applied to her. There had been at least three people from her church complaining about being pushed out the door at closing time, that store just didn't stay open past five.

Andy sighed. "They won't close until Miranda is finished shopping." She glanced over at her family, gauging the level of interest. "Can you hold dinner until seven-thirty?" There was silence on the other end. "Mom? You still there?"


"We'll be there as soon as we can." Andy promised.

"Okay Sweetie."

Andy gave the phone a funny look, as if she could see her Mother on the screen and figure out why the woman sounded so weird. Shrugging, she tucked the Blackberry back in her purse and perused the ear-ring selection while the girls continued their hunt for the perfect accessories to complement their dress selections.

Richard and Dorothy again met their daughter as if she were a visitor in their home.

Andy inhaled deeply and smiled as she hugged her mom. "Yum…roast. Thanks for holding dinner for us, Ma. It smells great."

Dottie returned the hug. "It will be finished in a few minutes."

Richard hugged his daughter quickly. "Let's go to the living room while we wait."

They all went in and took the same seats they'd had earlier.

"Mom," Caroline asked Miranda. "Can I go outside and play basketball for a while?"

"Me too?" Cassidy asked hopefully.

Chad saw the opportunity to make his escape. "I can go out with them." He stood. "We don't have all that long before supper anyway, but we could play for a few minutes."

"Very well." Miranda nodded to her children and gave the young man a smile. "Thank you."

Winking, Chad guided the girls out of the room.

"So," Dottie leaned back and crossed her arms in front of her. "How did you manage to stay at Macy's after hours? They have a very strict closing policy." She glared at Miranda. "Several people from my church have actually been pushed out of the store so that they could close on time. It's impossible to stay after hours."

Miranda regarded the confrontational woman calmly. "I asked Andrea to handle it, and she did." She turned to smile at her partner. "I've found that Andrea can often manage the impossible."

Andy nudged shoulders with Miranda. "Thanks, Boss."

"Boss?" Richard narrowed his eyes at his daughter.

"It's a nickname." Andy laughed. "It's just about the only one I think I'd be able to get away with."

"I always knew you were intelligent." Miranda slid her arm around Andy's, noticing Richard look away from the gesture.

"So," Dottie turned to her daughter. "Explain how you managed it."

Andy shrugged. "When the manager wouldn't listen to reason, I made a phone call."

"Reason?" Dottie looked skeptical.

Nodding, Andy told her the story. "When I explained to him who Miranda was, and he still didn't understand that he needed to stay open, I called someone who could tell him to."

"Who did you call Andrea, Thomas?"

"Nah… I called Susan's office." Andy ran her fingers through her hair. "I know Patty better than I do Tom's assistant." She redirected her attention to her Mom. "I called the assistant to the woman on the Board of Directors in charge of Macy's Department Store Division. She explained the problem to her boss and the boss in turn called the manager of the store we were shopping in and voila, Miranda and the girls got to shop."

"What makes you so special?" Dottie glared at Miranda. "Why should you get to break the rules?"

"Mom." Andy spoke quietly. "Miranda is special. She is special to the fashion industry because of the position she holds at Runway. The decisions she makes there effect millions of dollars and countless jobs. There is no way I would ever be able to explain all the reasons she is special to me, but if there is anything I can do to give her just a bit of happiness, I will." She felt a tiny tightening around her arm and leaned closer to her love. "She works all the time. All the time, do you understand? No breaks, no time off… the only time she ever takes off is if the girls, or I, need something. As Editor-in-Chief at Runway it is impossible for her to shop in public and so she never gets to shop with the girls. You can gripe about it all you want, but I'm glad I had a part in making that happen tonight."

Dorothy's forehead wrinkled even more than it normal. She dismissed all the other blabbering her daughter had done and focused on what was important to her. "You don't take your daughters shopping?" Those were some of her favorite memories, taking Andy shopping.

The timer went off on the stove and Dottie stood, pushing herself off the chair with a slight grunt. "Dinner will be ready shortly." She put her hand on her husband's shoulder. "Would you please escort Miranda to the dining room?" She turned to her daughter. "Go let Chad and the girls know to come in and wash up…then come back and help me set the table."

"Sure Mom." Andy untangled her arm from Miranda's and stood, automatically holding her hand out for Miranda to assist her up from her seat.

Miranda glanced at the hand and rose smoothly from her sitting position without touching anything with her hands. She smiled at the man who very courteously offered her his elbow.

"Shall we?"

Andy watched as her father linked arms with her partner, stiffly walking with the older woman to the dining room. Odd. She couldn't think about it for long because her mom was already in the kitchen so she went quickly to complete her task and help with serving the meal.

"Your wife seems to have several problems with me." Miranda commented as he politely pulled her chair out for her. "Your son is trying to deal with whatever issue he has with me." She watched him settle into his customary seat at the end of the table carefully. "I get the idea you haven't decided exactly what to think of all this but you do have a major issue with me as well..."

"Dot worries." He sighed. "She does have concerns..."

Obviously. Miranda thought then spoke. "And you?"

"I'm trying to reconcile how terrified Andy was of you when she was working for you, with how she interacts with you now," He lied.

Well, she thought. That is something to consider. She knew it went deeper than that though and she waited for him to continue.

He fiddled with his silverware for a moment, unwilling to look at the woman. "She, Andy, slammed a taxi door in my face once, because of you."

"Excuse me?"

"You were stuck in Florida and wanted to come home… Andy was frantic trying to find a way to get you back to New York." He shrugged. "She thought she was going to get fired, or murdered, because she couldn't find any pilot willing to fly into a hurricane to get you."

"She was," Miranda confessed. "I was very angry that I'd missed my daughter's recital." Miranda knew the truth and admitted. "Anyone else would have been fired."

"You were… even then?" He ground his teeth together; the thought of them together making him a little nauseous. "While she worked for you?"

"No… definitely not." Miranda assured him. "I was still married at that point, and I would never do anything inappropriate with an assistant." She exhaled softly. "We didn't begin an actual relationship until much later… after my divorce… after she left Runway." It was almost a lie. She knew how she'd felt about Andrea the entire time the young woman had worked for her. She knew if she'd been given the right opportunity, things might have been… different. "I love your daughter, Mr. Sachs." She gave him a glare that made most Runway employees shake. "Nothing will change that." Her voice lowered and intensified the next word. "Nothing."

Richard nodded. There was nothing he could say to that; he only knew that he felt the same. He loved Andy and nothing would change that. Not even… he swallowed against the bile rising in his throat and tried to smile at the guest in his home.

"This looks great, Ma."

Dorothy regarded her daughter's thinness. "Guess it's been a while since you've had a home cooked meal."

"Mom." Andy began but then the girls and Chad stomped in through the backdoor. Caroline's eyes widened.

"Wow!" She regarded the roast with awe. "That's huge!"

Cassidy agreed. "Peggy never makes them that big!"

Andy pressed her lips together and her eyes closed for the length of her sigh. "Peggy only cooks for four." She spoke logically. "There are seven of us tonight." She gave her Mom a little smile. "And Mom knows I love beef stew made from the leftovers." She bumped the woman gently with her hip. "Is that part of my birthday meal?"

Dottie smiled. "That was the plan."

Andy winked at the girls. "Why don't you guys go wash up? Your Mom is already in the dining room."

"C'mon girls." Chad gestured for them to follow him. "I'll show you where the bathroom is."

Dorothy barely waited for the trio to leave the kitchen before turning on her daughter. "Peggy?"

With a deep breath, Andy nodded. "The cook…housekeeper."

Dottie opened her mouth, but then her jaw snapped closed and she shook her head. "Help me get this to the table."

Without another word, Andy picked up the side dish bowls and carried them into the dining room.

Chad laughed as the young trio entered the dining room. "Remind me never to play basketball with these guys again… they kick my butt."

Miranda smiled at her daughters as they took their seats at the table. "They are rather competitive." She heard the footsteps approaching and cleared her throat, speaking clearly as first Dorothy and then Andrea appeared. "It's probably Andrea's fault."

A furrow appeared between her mother's eyes but Andy laughed. "Great, what am I being blamed for now?" She grinned at Miranda. "Earth rotating too fast for you?"

Miranda laughed, and everyone at the table was amazed at the sound of amusement in the older woman's voice. "Yes!" She winked at her young partner. "I believe it should be moving slightly slower. See to it, will you?"

Nodding, Andy set the dishes on the table and moved to sit next to Miranda. "Yep… I'll get right on that." She reached for a serving dish when Dottie cleared her throat. "Oh," she sighed. "Sorry." Andy placed her hands in her lap and bowed her head as Dottie said Grace. She noticed that Miranda did not bow her head, nor did the girls, but they all remained quiet and respectful, for which Andy was truly grateful.

"This is delicious, Dot." Richard smiled at his wife.

"It is quite good." Miranda nodded.

Dorothy practically sneered. "I don't suppose it's as good as your cook could make it."

She hates that I'm rich. How odd. Miranda thought, then decided to have a little fun. "No doubt any of them would be able to make it taste as good or better." She relented when she saw the pleading look in Andy's eyes, smiled and smoothly continued. "But none of them would make it with as much love." She tilted her head at the chef. "Thank you."

Dottie opened her mouth to speak, snapped her jaw shut and shook her head before answering quietly, "You're welcome."

"It was really good." Caroline wiped her mouth and pushed her plate a little away from her. "I liked the carrots, not mushy like Peggy had them last time."

Cassidy nodded. "Yeah, and the potatoes didn't fall to little bits off the fork either." She also pushed her plate away.

Andy spoke quietly to the girls. "It was because Peggy was busy that day. She put everything in the crockpot and let it cook, instead of adding the veggies later."

"I don't remember that," Miranda commented, took one last bite of carrot, leaving just a little bit on her plate, then copied the girls, pushing the plate slightly away from her.

"You had a dinner to go to." Andy said. "James Holt, I think." She shrugged. "Peggy had a dental appointment that afternoon, so I came home early from work to be there when the girls got home from school." She smiled at Miranda. "No biggie."

"You missed work to watch the girls?" Dorothy was appalled. "What did your boss say?!"

"I believe he said 'See ya tomorrow'." Andy laughed. "Mom, I'm a reporter, writer, I can do my job from anywhere as long as I have a laptop and internet access." She shrugged. "I don't have to be sitting at my desk at the office to write, heck… I finished one article on the plane here." Then she grimaced, she shouldn't have brought up the plane.

"Weren't you afraid of someone reading it over your shoulder?" Dottie was intrigued. "Richard is always saying he can't really do any work on the planes, because of other people watching."

He agreed. This, at least, was a safe topic. "Even when I fly first class, there isn't exactly room to work."

"Well…. Um…" Andy didn't know exactly how to tell them.

Miranda helped, straightforward as always. "It was a private plane."

Chad's eyes widened. "Whoa… you have a plane?!"

"No," Miranda smiled at the young man. "I have friends who have planes."

"Someone let you borrow their plane?" Dorothy was completely amazed by that.

"She wasn't using it." Miranda was completely casual about the whole thing.

"She?" That made Richard a little nervous. Who was this 'she' that Miranda was close enough to that she would lend her plane. How many women does this woman… know??

"Yeah," Andy sighed. "It's um… Donnatella Versace's plane."

"You know um...her… well enough for her to lend you her plane?" Chad was intrigued.

Andy laughed. "Miranda knows everyone well enough for them to lend her anything she wants. No one can refuse Miranda."

Dorothy narrowed her eyes. "So you get her plane and she gets to be in your magazine, is that it?"

Andy snorted and it was Miranda's turn to laugh. "Not at all. No one gets their designs featured in Runway unless they are what I want in Runway." She glanced at Andrea and her laugh turned to a mere wicked grin. "I can tell you that the issue after Paris put Christian Dior and Christian Lacroix on the alert. They would have done pretty much anything to get on the pages of Runway…" She watched Andy's eyes widen. She patted the young woman's arm. "I made it up to them, the next month seventy five percent of the magazine was dedicated to their designs."

"Mr. Garavani was just happy you liked the Paris show," Andy smiled. "He's such a nice man."

"Who's that?" Richard asked happy the conversation shifted to a man his daughter knew.

"Valentino Garavani." Miranda smiled. "He creates quite a few pieces for me personally, but I've always found his designs delightful."

"Valentino." Dorothy echoed quietly.

Chad was laughing now. "Great, my sister is hob nobbing with the rich and famous, flying on private planes, and living in a million dollar house with servants…"

"Twelve." Miranda corrected absently.

"What?" Chad stopped laughing.

"Huh?" Andy turned toward Miranda. "Twelve?"

Nodding once, Miranda took a sip of her water. "After the divorce I thought I might like a change, I had the house appraised, in preparation for sale. The number they gave me was twelve…million, not one."

Andy willed herself to keep a straight face, and keep breathing. Twelve million? Geez, I knew one sounded a little low, but twelve?! It was a daunting thought, but then she laughed. "Well, it is a nice house."

"Yes," Miranda agreed. "It's perfect for us. I'm glad I didn't sell it."

"Me too!" Caroline was shocked. "I love our house."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "I certainly would have discussed it with you if I'd decided to actually sell it."

"Discussed it? With the children?" Dorothy didn't think that sounded right.

"Of course," Miranda regarded the woman in surprise. "It's their home too."

Andy rolled her eyes. "Mom doesn't believe children have any rights when it comes to their own lives."

Chad snorted. "Amen to that." He couldn't count the number of times they'd been told what was going to happen, not asked, not discussed with… just told 'this is how it's going to be'.

"Children need boundaries." Dottie said. "They can't be allowed to make decisions for adults. It's the adults that make the decisions for them. It's up to the parents to do what's best for their children."

"I agree." Miranda smiled at the surprise on Dottie's face. "We teach them what they need to know to make their own way in the world, then we have to let them do it. The girls know that when they turn eighteen they're going to have to earn their own living." She chuckled. "Well, not exactly on their own, and not exactly that soon." She leveled a look at her children. "I will, of course, pay for their schooling, but it's up to them to learn something useful and make a living for themselves after that."

Dottie looked at the twin heads nodding. "You want that?"

"Oh yes," they said in chorus.

"What will you do?" Dorothy was appalled that Miranda would raise the girls in an environment of such luxury and then just toss them out onto the street.

Both girls shrugged and Cassidy spoke. "We're only eleven, we still have time to decide."

Andrea and Miranda glanced at each other, knowing both girls knew exactly what they wanted to do when they got older. Cassidy was totally enamored with the theater and film; sound design especially. Helping the drama instructor at their school had only given her an appetite for more. Caroline was very much going to follow in her mother's footsteps. She'd told them both in no uncertain terms that she was going to go into publishing and, when she got the chance, was fascinated watching Miranda with The Book.

Andy noticed that everyone was finished with their meals. "Maybe we should go back into the living room for a while?"

"Oh," Dottie spoke up. "I made dessert."

Richard and Chad's faces lit up, but Andy, Miranda, Caroline and Cassidy waved off the suggestion all with similar murmured comments. "I'm stuffed", "I couldn't possibly", "No way", and "Perhaps later".

Dorothy wasn't inclined to believe them, most of the meal on their plates were gone, but they hadn't taken much in the first place. "Okay then, maybe later." She stood and began to clear the plates, gesturing to Andy for help.

"Can we go upstairs and play with the dolls some more?" Both girls looked hopefully at their Mother.

Miranda turned to Andy and raised an eyebrow. "Andrea?"

Surprised at being asked, Andy shrugged. "Sure." She watched as the girls clambered up the stairs.

"I think I'll just step outside for some fresh air," Miranda said casually.

Andy grinned and spoke quietly as the white-haired woman moved away from the table. "Tell Nigel I said hi." She watched as Miranda stumbled a bit and looked back over her shoulder with an unreadable expression. Andy just grinned. "Busted."

Rolling her eyes, Miranda chuckled and continued out the door.

"Busted?" Richard didn't understand what Andy had caught the woman doing.

Laughing, Andy piled the dirty plates on top of each other. "She's going to call the guy she left in charge at Runway, to see how things are going. They have explicit instructions not to call her, but she can call them." They walked into the kitchen. "I have to say I'm surprised she's waited this long."

Part 3

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