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 3

"Miranda Priestly's office."

"Put me through to Nigel." Miranda could almost see Emily's eyes widening.

"Yes, Miranda." Emily hoped to whatever God there was, Nigel was still in his office. She saw the flashing light on the phone stay steady on and breathed a sigh of relief…then grabbing a folder; she decided to go watch the fun.


The man wiped his hand over his bald head and took a deep breath. "Miranda, how wonderful to hear from you. How's your vacation going?"

"Spare me the small talk, Nigel. How are things there?"

"Oh you know… the usual. We'll work it out." He looked at the chaos his office had become in just one day. He couldn't recall ever seeing Miranda's office in such disarray. He knew Serena's office wasn't much better at this point. "Serena will be sad to have missed your call. She's at the charity dinner."

"Yes, I'm sure she'll be heartbroken. I'll have to remember to send her next year as well." Miranda pursed her lips. "Inform Emily to make a note of it."

"Uh…" Nigel's eyes widened. "Inform…"

"Yes, yes… inform Emily." Miranda sighed. "I know she's standing right there, she never could resist watching me tear into anyone…tell her to stop hiding her smile with the folder and make a note of Serena's attendance at next year's dinner."

Nigel laughed. "Okay, I'll tell her." He passed on the information grinning as Emily dropped the folder away from her face and practically ran back to her desk. "So, really, how is the vacation going?"

"It's going." Miranda refused to give him any more information than that, yet.

"That good, huh?" He shook his head. "Well, try to at least relax a little."

"I will try." She sighed, knowing if there were a major problem Nigel would tell her about it, at least she thought he would. "Good night, Nigel."

"Good night."

As soon as the call was disconnected, Miranda found herself wrapped in long lanky arms. "Mmmm…." She leaned back into the embrace.

"So how are things back at the office?" Andy nuzzled the woman's neck, inhaling the wonderful scent of shampoo and Miranda's signature fragrance. Not really caring about Runway at the moment, except that it gave them an excuse to be outside together.

"Nigel claims work is going smoothly." Miranda had her doubts. "I thought I could hear a bit of tension in his voice though."

"Mmmm… I hear a bit of tension in yours." Andy turned the woman in her arms. "Let me help you with that…" She pulled Miranda to her, feeling the editor's arms slide around her waist. Pressing their lips together she moaned and deepened the kiss. They both were breathing raggedly when they parted. Tipping her head to touch her forehead to Miranda's, Andy waited until their breathing calmed down. "How about, we go back inside and enjoy a small slice of pie, some coffee and a little awkward conversation, before we head back to the rooms?"

"Sounds hideous." Miranda kissed her partner to take the sting out of her words. "Why don't we skip the pie, most of the conversation, settle for some coffee…and get back to the rooms as soon as we can?"

"It has been a long day." Andy conceded. "The girls are probably tired."

"Mmmm… probably so." Miranda moved to kiss the young woman in her arms, amazed when Andrea pulled away from her.

"Um… I need to tell you something."

"Oh God…what now?" Miranda winced at the tone in her voice and held on as Andy tried to move farther away. "Wait." The older woman stepped closer and laid her head on Andy's shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to sound like that." She looked up and cupped the young woman's cheek gently. "What is it, Andrea?"

"Mom told me… while we were clearing the dishes from dinner…" Andy wasn't sure how to break this news to Miranda. "After I called this morning to tell her that I'd be home for my birthday, she called all the family and…um… they will all be here tomorrow afternoon." She could see the shock on Miranda's face and imagined a similar one on her face when she found out. "I'm sorry, Miranda. I didn't know she would do that."

"So…" Miranda read Andrea's nervousness and knew why. "Dorothy requested, nicely, that my daughters and I not attend your family birthday celebration."

"Um…something like that, yeah." Andy felt Miranda stiffen in her arms and shook her head. "I told her, no way. If she wants me here, she'll have to deal with you guys being here too…if you want to be." Andy kissed Miranda lightly. "It could get weird…I honestly don't know how the rest of my family will react."

"Who will be here?" Miranda asked. "People you are close to?" It would hurt, but Miranda knew she'd do whatever Andrea wanted. "If you would rather spend the day with your…" She hesitated. "… your family, then I'm sure the girls and I can find something else to do."

Andy shook her head. "You are my family, Miranda, you and the girls." She sighed. "My only concern is that with so many people, knowing, about us, the press might get hold of it."

"So many?" Miranda's eyes widened.

"Mmmm…." Andy pulled the woman close to her. "My aunts, uncles, cousins….my grandma."

"Grandma?" Miranda laughed helplessly. "How much older than her am I?"

"My Dad's Mom, is nineteen years older than you." Andy smiled whispering. "She could be your mother…" Grinning at the small snort Miranda made at that, Andy winked. "Wait until you meet her. You're gonna love her."

That's what you said about the chili. "So you want us there?" Miranda smiled at the literal love of her life.

"Always." Andy moved in for a kiss. "Always…" Kiss. "always…" Kiss. "always…"

Miranda reached up, buried her fingers in Andrea's soft hair, held the young woman still and looked into those deep dark eyes. "I love you, Andrea."

Andy smiled. "And I you." She kissed Miranda again quickly and rolled her eyes. "C'mon, let's go get that coffee."

They were all waiting on the porch for the car to arrive when Andy told the girls about tomorrow.

"So you're gonna have a party?" Caroline's eyes widened. "With all your relatives?"

Andy nodded. "Yep, Ma invited them all over for my birthday."

"Cool!" Cassidy grinned. "Do you have any cousins our age?"

Turning to her mother Andy asked, "How old are Aunt Donna's kids now?"

"Nine, ten and twelve." Dorothy was a little concerned. It seemed like Andy was assuming Miranda and her daughters would be here tomorrow. "They are kinda mean though…"

Andy remembered the children when they were smaller and that they were quite the handful. "Well, if they are too mean to the girls, we'll just leave."

Dorothy was appalled. "You can't leave your own party!"

Now Andy's eyes gleamed. "Wanna bet?" She sighed. "We'll be here tomorrow, Mom… ten-thirty…maybe eleven… It's been a long day so I'm sure we'll sleep in tomorrow." She winked at the girls. "That's what vacations are for right?"

"Yes!" Cassidy grinned and Caroline nodded in agreement.

Chad stretched and yawned. "It's still pretty early but I'm beat." He tilted his head at his sister. "See you tomorrow."

"Yep." She gave him a quick hug. "We'll probably get here before you wake up."

"Ha!" He scoffed. "Mom will have me up at the crack of dawn scrubbing something… you know how she is when we're having company."

Andy smiled. "Better you than me, brother."

"Now now," Richard put his arm around his wife. He wanted to take his mind off the image of Andy 'sleeping in' with Miranda beside her. "Your Mom isn't that bad and you know it." He watched both his children roll their eyes and knew they were more right than wrong about his wife's near obsessive cleaning, especially for company.

Cassidy spoke up. "Car's here."

Miranda stepped up next to Andy. "Thank you for your hospitality." She offered her hand to the older Sachs'.

Richard took her hand automatically, then realized what he was doing and stammered a bit, releasing the hand quickly. "You're…um… welcome."

"Oh…" Dorothy spoke up. "Tomorrow… it's going to be very laid back… grilling in the backyard type stuff… so you might want to wear something a little more…"

"Casual?" Miranda smiled. "Oh, I think I can do that."

"See!" Andy laughed. "I told you I should have gotten you a Northwestern sweater."

Miranda leaned into her love's lanky body. "Perhaps I'll just wear yours."

Andy laughed harder and gently tightened her arm around Miranda's shoulders. "See ya tomorrow, Mom."

"Yes," Miranda had a mischievous glint in her eye. "See you tomorrow… Mom." She watched as Dorothy blinked, the woman was unable to form a response to that. Miranda urged Andy toward the car. "Shall we?"

"Yep." Andy was trying her hardest not to laugh at the expression on her mother's face and she actually made it all the way until the car door shut behind them. "Oh my god, Miranda… did you have to do that?!" She could barely breath she was laughing so hard. "Were you trying to give my mother a heart attack?!"

Shaking her head negative, Miranda shrugged. "Just trying to keep things in perspective."

"Mom?" Dorothy watched the car pull away. "Richard did you hear what… that woman, called me?"

"I heard." Richard didn't think it was funny at all, but he conceded as inappropriate as it seemed to him; it may well be… weirdly, accurate. He glared at his son who was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. "This isn't funny."

"Dad, it's hilarious." Chad grinned at his parents. "Told ya! You're instant grandparents…" He wandered toward the door, speaking absently. "I have nieces… very cool." He chuckled as he left his parents standing speechless on the porch, only pausing at the door long enough to call back over his shoulder, "Good night."

Once again the Priestly family found themselves sitting on the back porch swing watching the boats go by. Even though it was late, the lights on the boats were soothing to watch.

"I think it's time for you girls to take baths… you'll want to be fresh for the party tomorrow. Playing at the park and playing basketball are not the cleanest of activities." Miranda gave them a choice. "Do you want to clean up tonight or tomorrow morning before we go to Andrea's parents?"

They agreed in chorus. "Tomorrow."

Andy nodded. "We have to leave by ten-thirty, at the latest." She ruffled Cassidy's hair. "Mom will expect us for lunch before everyone else arrives. Gram Sachs may already be there too."

"Okay Andy." Cassidy hugged the dark-haired woman. "We'll be ready."

"Yeah." Caroline nodded. "We won't sleep that late!"

Miranda laughed. "I might." She saw all their shocked faces. They all knew she never slept late. Winking at the girls, Miranda focused on the young woman that shared her bed. "It may be Andrea's birthday…but it's my vacation as well."

The girls were in bed, and now Andy snuggled against Miranda in their bed too. "Were you serious about wanting to sleep in?"

"Mmmm…" Miranda concentrated on the feeling of Andrea curling around her. "It depends on how late I stay up."

"But you are on vacation, so you don't have The Book to look over until the wee hours of the morning." Andy chuckled and ran her index finger along Miranda's collarbone hooking the finger under the spaghetti strap of the older woman's nightgown. "Whatever could we do to keep you awake?"

"Hmmm… nothing immediately comes to mind." Miranda grinned. "Do you have a suggestion?"

Brown doe eyes darkened. "Oh… I can probably think of a thing or two."

"Oh?" Miranda smirked. "Care to elaborate on that?"

Andy shifted sliding her leg between Miranda's smooth, surprisingly muscular, thighs. "Don't mind if I do…"

"Andrea…" Miranda closed her eyes as long fingers slowly slid the straps of her nightgown down over her shoulders, warm lips exploring the expanse of exposed skin across her shoulders.

"You are so beautiful." Andy whispered. "Sometimes I can't take my eyes off you."

Miranda sighed. "I won't always be."

"Yes," Andy corrected. "You will." She pushed the lingerie down, bunching it at Miranda's waist. Soft hands roamed the newly exposed curves. "You will never be anything less than beautiful to me."

"You'll get tired of me soon enough." Miranda was sure. They all got tired of her eventually.

"I won't." Andy promised, adoration tingeing her voice. "I won't ever."

Miranda found the strength to stop Andrea's exploration. "You cannot mean that, you can't know that."

"I do." Andy nodded. "I do know it, and I do mean it. I love you, Miranda, for as long as I live."

"No," Miranda closed her eyes. "Please don't say that." She was realistic enough to know the most likely outcome of this relationship. "When I… go, you must not be alone, find someone for companionship. Please, promise me…"

"No." Andy refused. "I won't. But you are talking like you'll go first and you don't know that is true." She covered Miranda's mouth with her fingers. "You don't know, Miranda. We never know. I could step off a curb tomorrow and that will be it." Sliding, her hands into the silvery white hair Andy kissed Miranda deeply. "Miranda?"

Sighing, Miranda gently traced Andy's profile. "Yes, Andrea?"

"I don't want to talk anymore."

No more talking. Miranda agreed completely. The idea that Andrea might…go, before her was not something she ever wanted to contemplate but she knew Andrea had a point, you never really knew what was going to happen. With that concept in her mind, Miranda made a decision. No more waiting.

Andy felt Miranda sliding out of bed, one bleary eye opened and she turned her head to look at the clock. Ugh…too early. It was just after eight in the morning and Andy knew that was actually fairly late, for them. Even the girls would be up soon. But it's my birthday, and we're on vacation! Shifting to her back she resolutely closed her eye, willing herself to drift off again. Miranda's quick return wasn't unexpected, but the light pressure between her breasts was unusual. Blinking her eyes open, she found Miranda's smiling face, and then nearly touching her chin to her chest, Andy saw a small box sitting there.

"Happy Birthday, Andrea." Miranda's blue eyes twinkled as she opened the box, presenting it to the still sleepy young woman.

"Miranda?" Andy blinked several times, not quite believing what she saw. "Is that a…"

"Ring?" Miranda finished the question and answered it. "Yes, it is."

"Um… what does it…?" Andy shook her head, not daring to hope. "What does it mean?"

"It means a lot of things, to me." Miranda watched Andrea's face closely. "It means, it's your birthday," She plucked the glittering jewelry from its box. "It means… I love you. It means I never want to be without you." She raised Andrea's left hand and gently slid the ring on the young woman's finger. "It means…" She took a deep breath to steady herself. "I would be greatly honored if you would agree to marry me."

"Miranda…" Andy was breathless, mesmerized by the sparkling ring; one large diamond flanked by two smaller but no less sparkling ones. "You know, the entire time Nate and I were together, I never once thought about marrying him, not even for a second." She shifted her eyes from the glittering jewelry to Miranda's glittering eyes. "And almost the entire time I've been with you… it's nearly all I dream about." Andy smiled a full bright smile. "I love you Miranda Priestly, and I never want to be without you."

Miranda tilted her head and grinned. "Is that a yes?"

Andy laughed. "That is a definite, oh my friggin' god…Yes!"

Andy pulled Miranda down on top of her and kissed her, then kissed her again… then began to nuzzle the woman's neck, nipping gently at the smooth skin there, unwilling to mar perfection. It was glorious, this feeling of being loved, loved enough that Miranda actually wanted to make their relationship… She didn't know what the correct word was. … Official? She had just hooked her finger under the straps on Miranda's gown when they heard the small knock at the door.

They froze, Andy holding Miranda on top of her as Caroline's voice preceded her by seconds into the room "Cass is hogging the bathroom, can I use…." She blinked at the position the adults were in. "…yours?"

Andy never took her twinkling eyes off Miranda's. "Sure Munchkin, go ahead." She was totally glad that Miranda was lying on top of her, since she was still naked from last night's fun, and Miranda had put her gown back on, probably when she got up to get the ring.

"Uh… okay." Caroline made a bee-line to the bathroom, closing the door quickly.

Miranda, heard the water begin to run and let her head fall to Andrea's chest. "Tell me why didn't we lock the door again?"

Andy laughed. "Because we have the house to ourselves and the doors downstairs were locked." They rarely locked the bedroom door when they were home so the trend continued here.

"Right." Miranda sighed. "Ah well, she'll get over it."

"Get used to it, you mean." Andy's eyes held merriment. "Maybe that'll teach her not to come in so quickly." She winked at her fiancé and whispered. "It could have been worse."

It could have been worse. Miranda considered that and groaned playfully. "Oh, the therapy bills!"

Andy laughed and kissed the woman above her lightly. "Let me up, I'm going to go for a quick run."

Andy's feet hit the pavement in a comfortable rhythm, leaving her a lot of time to concentrate on other things. I'm going to marry Miranda! That thought made her smile and a laugh bubbled up through her. The irony wasn't lost on her, Miranda had, she thought, hated her from the beginning. The fact remained; I'm going to marry Miranda!

Just thinking it made her feel energized; she knew at this very moment she could run forever. The only problem with that was Miranda wasn't here with her.

Caroline listened at the door for a long moment before she emerged from the bathroom. Her mother was still in the bed, still in her nightgown, but Andy was nowhere to be seen. "Um… where's Andy?"

Miranda gestured for the girl to come closer and patted the mattress next to her. When the child climbed onto the bed, Miranda wrapped her arm around the small shoulders. "I have asked Andrea to marry me." She felt Caroline go very still.

"What did she say?" Caroline swallowed hard. Mom asked Andy to marry her and Andy is gone now?

"She said…" Miranda inhaled deeply. "…Yes."

Caroline gasped, wiggled free from her mother's grasp, and ran from the room.

Miranda watched her go and wondered if she should go after the girl, but before she could move both the girls ran back into the room. They jumped onto the bed and surrounded their Mom. Cassidy breathed her question.

"Is it true?" Her eyes searched their mother's face. "Are you and Andy getting married?"

Miranda nodded. "Yes, it's true."

Cassidy's smile was brilliant. "Excellent!" She threw her arms around her Mom. "That is so great!" The girl looked around. "Where is she?"

Miranda smiled. "She went for a run."

Caroline let a little tiny smile slip onto her face then she controlled it. "What are we supposed to call her?"

Miranda was silent for a long moment; she didn't really know the answer to that.

Andy walked into the room and stopped short. The sight of Miranda and the girls there made her heart do a double beat. "Hey there."

Miranda unconsciously licked her lips. "The girls have a question."

"Oh?" Andy ruffled her bangs, wincing at the sweat there. "What's that?"

"What are we supposed to call you?" Caroline asked and Cassidy nodded, also wanting to know.

Blinking, Andy used the time it took for her to move across the room and settle on the end of the bed to think about that. "Well…" she began slowly. "There is a name I'm fairly fond of." Grinning at the trio, she shrugged. "How about calling me…Andy?" She grimaced as she caught a whiff of herself. "Whew… I totally need a shower, like…now." She laughed, "It won't take me long."

Miranda nodded and watched as Andrea entered the bathroom, she then urged the girls up. "Why don't you two go finish getting ready?"

Andy called back through the door, "I told Mary we'd be down for breakfast in about half an hour." She started the water running and turned to get a towel, surprised to find her arms full of Miranda. "Whoa… Miranda… don't." Andy pushed her away slightly. "I'm all sweaty and gross."

Leaning close, Miranda inhaled deeply. "Oh no… You always smell wonderful."

Rolling her eyes at that. "You might think so, but I doubt my Mom would agree." She kissed Miranda quickly and moved toward the shower. "Just let me rinse off okay?"

Miranda followed her. "Let me help."

Andy laughed. "Miranda, name one time that you 'helping' me shower has been faster than me showering alone." She waited for about ten seconds for an answer. "Exactly." She winked. "Won't take me long."

Even though Andy hurried, Miranda was already washed and dressed when she exited their bathroom. "Miranda?"

"Mmmm…" The white haired woman sat on the end of their bed. "I used the girl's bathroom."

"Bbb…but…" Andy blinked at the older woman. "You… uh... you're wearing…"

Miranda looked smug. "Jeans." Blue eyes twinkled. "Your mother said casual, did she not?"

"Yes… she um… yeah, casual." Andy blinked. "But… Uh…" Andy gestured to the shirt Miranda was wearing.

"I believe it's called a pullover sweater."

"Buh…" Andy was amazed. "But, it's…"

The right side of Miranda's lips twitched. "Yes, it is." She rose from the bed and patted the young woman's cheek before giving Andy a quick kiss. "Hurry now, breakfast is ready."

Andy watched Miranda walk gracefully out of the room. Her eyes lingered on the doorway for a long moment before she ran her fingers through her clean damp hair and breathed an awed, "Wow." She walked back into the bathroom, catching the reflection of the ring on her finger in the mirror. A huge smile broke across her face.

I'm gonna marry her.

"Ready to go?" She inspected the girls; both were wearing jeans and form fitting t-shirts. "Good." Miranda smiled and glanced at Andrea. "Ready for gift number two?"


Miranda rolled her eyes and went to the closet. Pulling out two jackets, she handed them to the girls, then another for herself and last, one for Andrea. "The days are warm enough now not to need a jacket, but it's still cool at night and they are Gucci, so they will last for years and will always be in style."

Andy felt the supple leather and laughed. "Of course they will be. If you wear it, it's in style." She again marveled at the sweater Miranda wore. "Are you looking to bring Cerulean Blue back into style?"

Eyes twinkling, Miranda shook her head. "Not necessarily, but this sweater is comfortable, and casual enough for a 'cookout', yes?"

"Oh yes." Andy smiled. "And you look great in it, but then you look great in everything." That comment pulled a scoffing sort of snort from Miranda and she turned to the girls. "Ready?" They both nodded and as they put on the matching jackets Andy smiled. "We look like some kind of gang."

Miranda thought about that. "The Priestly Gang… Hmm…" She laughed and took on her fake thug accent. "Sounds like we're about to knock over a bank."

"Well I don't think we're going to do that any time soon." Andy chuckled. "The Priestly Family?"

"Ewww…" Caroline wrinkled her nose. "That makes us sound like we're gonna go sing in a church."

"Interesting. I don't believe we'll be doing that anytime soon." Guiding them to the car, Miranda ran her hand over the soft leather on her fiancé's arm. "You understand Andrea, this is just a taste of things to come."

Andy sighed. "I don't need anything else. Just having you near is present enough for me."

Miranda nodded. "Nevertheless, you will have more."

"Miranda." Andy began, but Miranda stopped her with an upraised hand.

"Humor an old woman." She winked at her fiancé's expression. "I want to give you things Andrea… please, just don't fight it. You know how stubborn I am."

Relenting, Andy sighed. "Fine." She chuckled. "But you have to know, turnabout is fair play." She helped Miranda and the girls into the car. "Just wait until it's your birthday." She let that threat hanging, letting the silence in the car lull her, for a moment, and then she began to get very nervous.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Andy was concerned that all her relatives might be a little much for the normally private woman. "I could go first again, like yesterday."

"No." Miranda nodded. "I think it's important to meet them, at least once."

"If they give you any grief at all, we can leave." Andy eyed all three of them. "I mean it, if any of you feel uncomfortable, or weird… or anything… just let me know and we can leave. Promise me you'll tell me if anyone is mean to you, okay?"

The girls looked at each other for half a second before turning and answering the young woman, in stereo. "Yes, Andy."

Miranda nodded. "Yes, Andrea."

The car stopped and Andy grabbed a backpack and slung it over her shoulder as she hopped out of the car, automatically turning to help the girls and Miranda exit.

Andy saw her parents and her Grandma walk out onto the porch to meet them. She mumbled to Miranda. "Here we go." As they got closer, Andy smiled up at the people. "Hi Gram."

Miranda watched as Andy wrapped her arms around the woman, taller and thinner than Andy. She knew the woman's age was and was surprised that her hair was only just a salt and pepper color instead of the entire gray or white she was expecting.

Releasing the older woman, Andy turned to her parents and gave them each a quick hug before returning to Miranda's side. "Gram Sachs, this is Miranda, Caroline, and Cassidy." She smiled at her grandma. "Miranda, girls, this is my grandma."

Miranda held out her hand to shake. "Um… Mrs. Sachs?"

Rolling her eyes, the older woman laughed. "I doubt anyone even knows my name around here, I'm always just Gram." She shook the hand politely. "Pava, is my name."

The tall older woman narrowed her eyes at the girls. "Hmmm…You two have the aura of trouble around you…" She winked at Andy then kept interrogating the girls. "You aren't going to cause any trouble, are you?"

Their eyes widened, and Miranda bristled just a bit so Andy let them in on the joke by waving off the woman's comments and rolling her eyes with a smile. "She used to say that about me all the time."

"And was I wrong?"

Andy grinned mischievously. "Not usually."

Gram Sachs laughed. "That's my girl." She turned her gaze to Miranda. "And you must be 'that woman' I've heard so much about this morning."

Miranda glanced at Dorothy and kept her face neutral as she spoke to Pava. "I would imagine so."

"We have tables and chairs set up in the backyard…" Richard interrupted and gestured for them to walk through the house. "… I'm sure we'll all be more comfortable back there."

Andy took off her jacket and handed it and the backpack to Cassidy. "Can you take my pack and jacket up to my old bedroom for me? Just toss them on the bed. Are they too heavy?"

"No.. s'okay. I can get them, Andy." Cassidy struggled a bit, the leather coat was actually fairly heavy.

Andy grinned. "You guys can put yours there too." Cassidy nodded and waited for her mother to give Caroline the jacket she wore as well.

"Thank you, Caroline." Miranda smiled at the girl before the youngsters struggled up the stairs.

"C'mon." Gram linked her arms with Miranda. "It's time now to be treated like invalids."

"Mom…we don't do that!" Dorothy admonished.

"Certainly not." Richard agreed. He certainly wasn't going to treat…her… with anything other than politeness required for a guest in his home.

"Uh huh… whatever you say…." Pava leaned down to whisper to Miranda. "Watch, you'll see."

Miranda grinned in spite of herself and commented softly as they walked. "You have the aura of trouble around you." Blue eyes twinkled with a bit of mischief of their own. "You aren't going to cause trouble, are you?"

Pava laughed loudly enough to get Dorothy's attention for a moment. When her daughter-in-law looked away, Pava grinned and winked at Miranda.


"Yeah?" Andy put down the huge knife she was using to split watermelons in two. "What's up?"

"Can we go play basketball with Uh… Chad?" Cassidy blushed slightly; she knew she'd just caught herself from saying 'Uncle Chad'.

Caroline added. "We'll try not to get dirty."

"Don't worry about getting dirty." Andy grinned at them "I brought a change of clothes for all of us. That's what's in the pack, just in case..." She laughed at their expressions. "Well you know what a slob I am!" Winking, she waved them away. "G'wan now… have fun!"

Dark eyes twinkled as the girls ran off towards the driveway.

"Why did they ask you?" Dorothy was giving the potato salad a last stir. "Shouldn't they ask their mother?"

Andy shook her head and gestured with her left hand toward the older women present. "Miranda is talking to Gram, they wouldn't interrupt that." Pressing her lips together as her mother grunted surprise at that, Andy picked up the knife and continued to halve the melons. It was a bit disconcerting because the ring on her finger was quite distinctive, yet her mother had either failed to notice it, or didn't want to acknowledge it. Either way, Andy wasn't going to be the one to bring up the subject.

"I wonder what they are talking about?" Dorothy looked over at the white-haired woman and her mother-in-law and commented casually, "They seem to be enjoying each other's company."

Andy smiled. The comment that would have once totally engulfed her in jealousy, now just made her chuckle. "They're probably talking about fashion." When she'd taken the women drinks earlier she thought she'd heard 'De La Renta' as she'd walked toward them. "And yes, they do seem to enjoy each other's company… good for them, I'm glad Miranda found at least one person here to talk to." Andy sighed as a falsely jovial voice spoke up behind her.

"So…" The man spoke overly loud, slapping Andy on the shoulder with one hand, holding a beer bottle in the other. "The long lost daughter…"

Andy rolled her eyes, watched her Mom turn and walk toward the house, and smiled a wide faux smile at her relative. "Hello, Uncle Jim."

He grinned at his only niece. "So…what have you been doing in the big city?"

"Oh a little of this and that." Andy continued setting out the food and pouring drinks. She kept an eye on Miranda as she went on with the conversation. "I'm a reporter, work at a newspaper."

"Ah… crap job eh? Better than the last one you had, I guess." He nudged her with his shoulder. "Got a guy yet?"

Andy licked her lips and held Miranda in the corner of her eye. "No, no guy." She picked up a steak knife and began slicing tomatoes.

He pointed his beer bottle at the table where Miranda and Pava sat talking. "Be careful." He laughed. "You'll end up like them, old and lonely, with no one to talk to but other old lonely chicks."

Andy gripped the knife she was holding tightly. She'd been busy helping her Mom all afternoon and honestly she suspected the woman was trying to keep her and Miranda apart. Dropping the knife, Andy took her uncle by the arm. "C'mon, let's go find you another drink." She hoped he was far enough along to pass out soon.

As they passed into the house, Andy heard her Mom talking to her Aunt Dawn.

"So where'd Gram find her hot girlfriend?" Dawn laughed and grabbed a beer from the fridge.

"I wouldn't know… she just showed up. They do seem to get along though." Dorothy sighed as Andy and Jim entered the room and knew from the look in Andy's eye she'd heard the comment. "Dawn…could you ask Richard to get a few more chairs from the garage?"

"Sure Dot."

It turned out the gesture was unnecessary, Andy had no intention of getting into a fight with her mother just now. With a fresh beer for Uncle Jim and another one for her, Andy clinked bottles with her Uncle and they laughed as they left Dorothy alone in the kitchen.

Miranda had not realized how time had flown, she was a bit stiff since once they'd sat down at the outdoor table they hadn't needed to move. Treated like invalids just as Pava predicted. Drinks were brought to them and replenished when needed, filled plates were brought to them for lunch and taken away when they were finished. Even when other people had started to arrive, no one bothered them. Pava apparently inspired as much awe in this family as Miranda did at Runway. Now the editor looked around unable to see her fiancé. "Where is Andrea?"

"Hmmm…" Pava looked around and shrugged. "I don't actually know." Dark eyes twinkled. "I know a fun way to get her here though." The older woman chuckled. "She has kept an eye on you the whole time you've been here." One long lanky arm reached out and traced down Miranda's arm, from elbow to wrist. It only took a few seconds of holding Miranda's hand before a grin formed on Pava's face and an amused voice spoke up behind her.

"You aren't putting the moves on my girl, are you Gram?" Andy's twinkling eyes held Miranda's shocked ones for a few seconds. Pava's laugh broke their gaze.

"See… told you I could get her here."

Miranda chuckled and stood to stretch, then looked down at the older seated woman. "You are trouble." Miranda winked, "But so am I." With two steps to close the distance between herself and Andrea, Miranda slid her arms around Andy's waist and pulled her close. "I've missed you."

Blocking out everything around her, Andy bent her head slightly and kissed the love of her life. "Mmmm…" She pulled back a little and brushed back the one lovely lock of hair that always fell across Miranda's eye. "Missed you too."

"Now that is a lovely sight to see." Pava rested her head on her hand and watched the couple closely. "I'm not sure 'your girl' is the proper term though." The older woman's eyes gleamed as she spoke to her grand-daughter. "I'm thinking… fiancé?" The women in the embrace froze and Pava laughed. "That is quite a lovely ring you are wearing, my dear…" She turned to the woman in her grand-daughter's arms. "…and that is a lovely shade of pink on your cheeks."

Keeping her right hand around Miranda, Andy held her left hand out to her smiling Gram. "She gave it to me this morning."

"Mmmm…" Pava examined the ring closely. "Round center stone…pear shaped side stones… I'd say…what? Two carats?" She grinned as Miranda hesitated, then nodded. "Very nice." She chuckled. "Happy Birthday to you." Grinning slyly, Pava asked. "Your Mom seen it yet?"

Two carats?! I didn't even think about… She shook the thought out of her head. "Oh, has Mom seen it… I um…don't know." Andy squeezed Miranda closer to her. "If she has, she hasn't mentioned it."

"Stubborn thing." Pava sighed and shook her head. She smiled and tapped Andy's cheek with her fingertips. "Don't let her get to you, child. You know your own mind. It's a gift you have always possessed. It's what makes you special."

Miranda agreed. "We cannot let anyone get to us." Wrapping both arms around Andrea's waist, Miranda leaned into the warmth of her future wife. "We know we are good together, Andrea."

"We are that." Andy kissed the top of Miranda's head. She chuckled, "We are also attracting someone's attention." She tilted her head toward her Mother.

"Mmmm…" Miranda's eyes gleamed. "Two choices, stop what we are doing, or continue."

"Continue." Andy said immediately and bent to capture Miranda's lips for a brief moment. "Most definitely continue." Explain this to Aunt Dawn, mother. They kissed for several long moments before Andy heard her mom's strangled voice calling to her. She smiled at Miranda and wiped a bit of lipstick smear from the corner of the older woman's mouth with her thumb. "Don't forget where we left off."

Blue eyes watched Andy walk away. Not a chance. In fact… Miranda found her cell phone and dialed, keeping her eyes on Andrea the whole time she was speaking to the person on the other end of the line.

The expression on her mother's face reminded her of the many, many times she'd been reprimanded as a child for doing one thing or another wrong. "Yes Mom?" Andy was very casual in her tone, because the fact was; she hadn't been doing anything wrong, at all.

"Why do you insist on making a scene?!"

Andy blinked and looked around the backyard. "Uh… no one else even noticed." She pointed out the happily partying people, some playing horseshoes, some messing with the grill…a few just drinking beer and razzing the people playing horseshoes. Her eyes caught Chad's and she saw him nod before she turned back toward their mother. "You're the one making a big deal out of it."

Miranda saw Chad urging people into the house and walked up to stand next to Andy. "I fail to see what is so surprising about Andrea and me kissing." Blue eyes scanned the now empty backyard and Miranda said. "There was a couple playing horseshoes that kissed every time they threw a shoe whether they made a point or not. And a younger couple that were doing nothing less than making out over there on that bench. She pinned Dorothy with a glance. "What's the difference?"

Dorothy knew who Miranda was talking about. "The couple that was playing horseshoes is married. And the younger couple is engaged."

Miranda raised her eyebrows and Andy grinned. "Um…Mom?" Raising her left hand she wiggled her fingers. "We're engaged too."

"Yes," Miranda's lips twitched in the beginnings of a smile. "Thank you for the engagement party."

"This is Andy's birthday party!" Dottie kept her voice low. "You cannot be 'engaged' you can't get married, it's illegal."

Miranda nodded. "In this state, yes, and New York as well, for now."

Andy thought she heard Miranda mumble to herself, "I need to speak to the governor."

The white-haired woman wrapped her arm around Andy's waist. "I called the staff on Martha's Vineyard. They are going to open the house there. We can go after we leave here."

"You want to get married so soon?" Andy was surprised, Miranda wasn't usually that impulsive.

"Only if you wish…" The older woman smiled. "I thought we could at least inspect the venues… see what kind of accommodations there are available… caterers and florists…things like that."

"Sure." Andy laughed. "I've never been there… it will be nice to see."

"We'll go more often this summer. The girls love the beach and it is lovely even if the water is quite cold more often than not." Miranda promised. "We'll try to make it one weekend a month at least."

"Wait…" Dorothy realized. "You said 'open up the house'. You have a house there too?"

Nodding, Miranda confirmed that. "I have several houses scattered throughout the world, though I mainly stay in New York."

"Throughout the world…" Dorothy echoed.

"Mmmm… I wonder if you would be so opposed to our relationship if I were an older…gentleman…" Miranda watched the play of emotions on Dorothy's face and understood that was not the problem. "...interesting."

"S'okay Mom…" Andy sighed. "A lot of people have a tough time with the gay thing."

"It's not that…" Dorothy shook her head. "It's…"

Miranda filled in the thought. "She doesn't have a problem with that. What she has a problem with is that other people have a problem with it." Miranda saw the shock in Dottie's eyes and, almost, smiled.

"You don't like me being with Miranda because of what other people think…of you?" Andy was astonished at that.

"No, Andrea that is just one thing she's dealing with. Mostly your mother doesn't like me because I'm rich." Miranda stated. "I get to do things other people can't. I get to stay late at Macy's, I get private planes and chauffeured limousines…clothing made just for me…" Miranda's voice became soft and a little musical. "I get aaannnything I want." Miranda looked at Andrea. "And now so do you." Miranda smiled. "Your mother is trying to reconcile her prejudice toward my money with the fact that she loves you." She turned back to Dorothy but continued to talk to Andy as she watched the other woman closely. "It is your father, Andrea, who has personal problems with… 'the gay thing'."

Andy was amazed at that observation then realized that Miranda was probably better than anyone she'd ever met at reading body language; she'd have to be, dealing with board room executives, moody models and diva photographers as well as she did. "What about my brother?"

"He has a problem with my age." Miranda exhaled slowly. "On that, I may have to agree with him." She waved off Andrea's immediate protest. "Later." She gestured for Dorothy to speak. "You have something to say?"

"How can you?" She looked from her beautiful daughter to the white-haired woman. "How can you get her accustomed to such a life and then just toss her out into the street?"

Miranda blinked at that. "I won't do any such thing." Where did that come from?

"Yes you will! You are all alike… you get what you want and move on… Vultures… using people, it's like a game to you. You buy them expensive coats and give them shiny expensive rings… Wow them with trips and other luxuries… then when you have had your fun you just toss them aside." Dorothy was full of wrathful vengeance. "Well, you won't do it to my daughter, do you hear me? I won't let you!"

"Mom!" Andy released Miranda and put her hands on her Mother's shoulders shaking the woman slightly. "Snap out of it. Miranda's not using me, okay? This is totally a mutual thing."

"Really?" Miranda smirked at her young fiancé. "I thought you were just using me for sex."

Andy glared back at her lover. "Not helping!"

"Mom…" Andy tried a calming tone. "It really is okay. I'm going to be fine." She caught her mother's eyes. "I do have a job and income of my own, you know?" She pulled the woman to her and hugged her tightly. "I'm sorry to spring it on you like this… but I really am all grown up." She felt the arms around her tighten.

"You're my baby."

"I was your baby." Andy pulled away from the embrace and flashed a little smile. "Now I'm your grown up, completely happy, soon-to-be-married-to-the-woman-of-her-dreams, daughter."

"I don't want you to get hurt." Dorothy leaned into her daughter, realizing her head only just reached the girl's shoulder, and sighed. "It's so hard to let go."

"I know…" Andy bent down and kissed her mother's cheek. "But it really is okay, I'll be okay." Grinning, Andy winked. "You guys did a great job raising me."

Dorothy took a deep breath and tried not to cry. "We did, didn't we…"

Andy laughed. "Yep." She wrapped one arm around her Mom's shoulders and one around Miranda's. "C'mon, let's go see what Chad lured everyone into the house with." She tilted her head toward her Mom. "As if we didn't know."

Dorothy moaned. "Oh no."

Miranda had the 'tell-me-what-I'm-in-for-now' look on her face and Andy squeezed the white-haired woman's shoulders. "You're gonna love it."

Miranda exhaled slowly. "You are fifty-fifty on that statement, Andrea." She had a smile hiding just under the twitching lips and gamely accompanied the Sachs women into the house.

Caroline and Cassidy were standing next to the door when Dorothy, Andy and Miranda entered the room. Caroline was nearly jumping up and down with excitement. "Look Mom… Karaoke!"

"Mmmm…" Miranda glanced at Andy. She and Cassidy both winced and exchanged glances as 'Aunt Dawn' hit a particularly sour note. Miranda spoke dryly, "So I hear."

For what seemed like hours, Miranda suffered through the wailings and gyrations of Andrea's various family members. One of the few bright spots had been when the twins actually got into the act and sang a duet. Everyone loved their performance and even Dottie was grudgingly impressed at their vocal abilities. Surprisingly, Pava took a turn at the microphone and Miranda raised her eyebrows at the smooth tones the woman produced. Miranda had really liked the song, even if it was classified as 'country'. The lyrics went right to her heart. 'You can't choose who you love, love chooses you'. When Richard had taken his place at the microphone he hadn't demonstrated any such ability. It must skip a generation, Miranda thought and was not surprised that the entire family began to pester Andy for a song. Andrea does have a beautiful voice. What did surprise Miranda was when her fiancé turned and urged:

"C'mon… let's do a duet."

Miranda's eyes widened and she shook her head. "I don't think so." She prayed that Andrea wouldn't turn those doe-eyes on her, she couldn't resist 'The Look' and they both knew it. She really didn't want to put herself any more 'out there' than she already had with Andrea's family.

Andy hesitated, she knew if she pushed just a little Miranda would give in, but she didn't want to do that. Miranda had already spent a great deal of time without the Goddess mask she normally wore at Runway. She was almost angry with her parents for not appreciating the honor. With a tiny understanding smile, Andy grinned and turned to the twins. "C'mon girls… let's show 'em how it's done."

Miranda watched every person in the world she loved, peruse the song list. They all looked so happy and it made her heart beat faster seeing how well they all interacted with each other. They really always have, she thought. Ever since that first family dinner together and Andy could tell them apart.

"It's a good looking family. They obviously love each other." Pava gestured Miranda to sit next to her. "It's right that you are proud of them."

The fast-paced music started and everyone watched as the trio worked so well together they actually seemed to be choreographed. Andy sang the lead and the girls chimed in on the backup parts of the chorus.

All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the sand dance don't you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They're falling down like a domino…

Everyone in the audience clapped and cheered. By the end of the song, some of them were actually up out of their seats, walking like an Egyptian.

Richard clapped his hands together to get everyone's attention. "There are still a few hours of daylight left. I'm gonna go heat up a few burgers on the grill, they shouldn't take too long to cook. Why don't we all go back outside for a while?"

"C'mon Mom," the girls each took one of Miranda's hands and practically dragged her out of the house. "Watch us make a basket from the very edge of the driveway. We've been practicing."

Everyone nodded and filed out of the house, Richard put his hand on Andy's shoulder. "Good job up there, Honey."

Andy grinned and reached up, unthinking, to pat the hand on her shoulder. "Thanks… I didn't do it alone though." Andy glanced at the retreating trio and winked as Caroline looked back at her and smiled.

"What's this?" Richard took the hand and looked at the jewelry, his forehead wrinkling.

"Um… it's… a ring, Dad." Andy shrugged. "Miranda gave it to me this morning." She saw his jaw tensing and decided to get it out of the way. "And yes, that is when she asked me to marry her, and yes I told her I most definitely would." She sighed as her father seemed to be speechless at that. "I love her, Dad…"

"You can't!" Richard was on the edge of his patience. This delusion Andy was having had gone far enough! Married? No…No way. "You can't, she's a woman! You can't love her…" he ground his teeth together. "…be with her…like that."

Andy spoke very calmly and very soothingly to her father. "I can, Daddy… I do…I am…with her, like that." With a deep breath she continued. "She loves me." She caught the man's eye. "We are a family, Miranda, the girls and me."

He shook his head. "You are my family."

"I hope so." Andy smiled weakly at him. "I had hoped you wouldn't disown me when I told you about Miranda."

"Dis…" Richard shook his head against the thought. "I wouldn't, ever. You're my daughter, no matter what."

Andy threw her arms around his neck, elation tingeing her voice. "I love you, Daddy."

He held her tightly for a moment, and sighed; he really didn't want to think about the situation any more. "C'mon… we can talk about this later. Right now, we've got some burgers to burn."

It was getting late now. Most of the family had gone, Dawn, Jim, Donna had picked up the kids and even Chad had gone to hang out with some of his old hometown buddies so only the Sachs' that lived in the house, Gram Sachs and the Priestly's remained. Cassidy and Caroline were playing horseshoes in the fading sunlight while Gram, Miranda, Andy and her parents all sat around the outdoor table in slightly uncomfortable silence watching the children play. Andy was also slightly uncomfortable because her mother and father weren't sitting together, and that forced Andy to sit across the table from Miranda. She knew her parents had done it that way on purpose and that tactic counteracted nearly all the good this evening had brought, which in truth wasn't much.

A late night breeze pushed against Andy's hair and from the corner of her eye the young woman saw Gram shiver a bit. Okay enough of this. Andy and thought and stood slowly. "Be right back." As she walked around the table, her hand automatically dropped and brushed the back of Miranda's neck as she passed the seated woman.

Miranda felt the ghost touch and a wisp of a smile fluttered on her lips. It was another thing Miranda loved about Andrea. People don't just casually touch me, Miranda thought. But Andrea does. It was more than that though and Miranda knew it. It's not just casual… she identified the difference. It's natural, it just feels… right, when she does it. It has for a long time.

Andy returned carrying two small throw blankets and detoured to the other side of the patio to take possession of two lounge chairs, dragging them over close to the table. Setting them side by side, Andy winked at Miranda and with a small move of her head asked silently if the woman wanted to sit. When Miranda began to rise, Andy moved over to Gram and draped one of the blankets over the thin woman's shoulders. "Would you like to put your feet up, Gram?"

The older woman pulled the blanket around her and nodded. "That sounds lovely, dear." She accepted the young woman's helping hand to rise. She settled into the chair next to the one Miranda was about to claim.

Andy grinned and stopped Miranda's motion for a second. "Ah… Not so fast…" She winked at her fiancé and moved quickly to sit on the lounge chair, then moved her legs off either side, patting the empty space in the middle. Miranda smiled and chuckled slightly as she snuggled into the space. Leaning back against Andrea, the younger woman tangled their legs together and adjusted the blanket over them.

Miranda sighed in relief at the contact, tension she hadn't consciously been aware of draining away. She hadn't seen the young woman nearly as much as she would have liked to today. "Thank you Andrea, this is quite comfortable."

"Mmmm…" Andy's arms slid around Miranda's waist and she tipped her head to rest her cheek on the soft white hair. "Sure is."

Andy only dared a glance at her parents. The expressions on their faces were indescribable and she fought the urge to laugh. Get used to it guys… I'm not letting her go.

"Andy, can I see you in the kitchen please?" Dorothy began to stand when Andy replied.


"Uh… what?" Andy's mother bristled. "Did you say no?"

"Yes." Andy inhaled the scent of Miranda's shampoo. "I said no." She did not turn to look at her mother. "It's my birthday and I've missed being with my fiancé all day, so right now I'm going to sit here and relax for a little while, while I hold her in my arms…" Angry enough to tweak the woman slightly, she hoped Miranda wouldn't get too upset with her and Andy added. "…and watch our children play."

"Your children!?" Dorothy glared at Miranda. "Are you going to put up with that?"

"With what?" Miranda gave Cassidy the thumbs up sign for scoring a point. She turned to look at the upset woman. "I have no problem whatsoever being held by Andrea, nor do I object to her paying attention to our children."

Andy glanced over at her stunned mother. "If you have a problem, we can leave right now." From the corner of her eye Andy saw her mom begin to rise from her seat, again. Moving her mouth away from Miranda's ear, Andy shouted to Caroline, "Great job, Caroline! Three ringers in a row!"

Caroline turned toward the encouraging voice and seeing where they were sitting rolled her eyes, but waved to acknowledge the comment. She also smiled at the look on her Mom's face. Andy makes her so happy, Caroline thought. How lucky am I to have such great parents. Her breath hitched as that thought rolled through her mind and in a fit of mischief she called back, "Thanks Mom!"

Dorothy collapsed the last few inches back down into her chair. "Did she… did she just call…"

"I knew it." Pava chuckled. "I knew it, from the first moment I saw them… trouble, trouble through and through." The woman winked at Miranda's startled glance. "'Course, I wouldn't expect anything less from my great-grandchildren."

"Mom!" Richard reacted without thinking. Andy claiming the children as hers was obviously just meant to tease Dorothy, for his mother to agree…well it was too much for him to ignore. "That's not…"

Pave waved him silent. "I know it's not yet, not officially. After the wedding though…" She chuckled at her son's expression. "Oh, get over it, Richard. Your daughter is happy and with the person she loves! What more could you want?"

Richard stared sullen and silent at his mother, unwilling to tell her what he really thought of Andy's behavior.

Miranda answered for him. "He wants what every parent wants for their children. He wants her to be happy, healthy, and he wants to know that when he's no longer here, his children will be safe, and loved, and well taken care of." She nodded at his widening eyes. "He wants to know that the choices his children make in life don't hurt them. He doesn't want to see Andrea have to endure the pain this relationship will bring her."

Pava snorted. "Every relationship has painful times." She held her hand up to stop her son's shaking head. "Yes… even your father and I had rough times."

"What he doesn't realize..." Miranda continued, feeling, even as she spoke, waves of love flowing off of the woman holding her. "…Is that Andrea will meet or exceed every one of those wants. She is as safe or safer with me than anyone else, she will be taken care of forever and she is totally and completely loved."

They were all so focused on Richard that they didn't realize the girls had moved to stand at the foot of the lounge chair Miranda and Andy were occupying.

"Mom?" Caroline smiled as both Andy and Miranda's head whipped around to see her. "We're kinda tired… can we go back to the rooms now?"

Miranda turned her head slightly. "Andrea?"

With a quick glance at her parents, Andy nodded in agreement. "Yeah, that would probably be best." She held Miranda where she was when the woman tried to get up and asked the girls. "Would you run upstairs and get our…" With a glance at Miranda, Andy smirked and finished the request. "…stuff?" The girls nodded and took off.

"Sssss,tuff?" Miranda turned slightly to regard the young woman through narrowed eyes.

Andy grinned. "You can wear cerulean blue..." Dark eyes twinkled in the twilight and she shifted to kiss the tip of the older woman's nose. "…I can say stuff." They locked eyes for a long moment.

"Here's your jacket, Andy." Caroline handed the item to the seated woman. Cassidy passed her mother's jacket to her.

"Thank you, Cassidy." Miranda folded the soft leather into her lap. "Would you bring my phone here?"

Cassidy retrieved the phone from the table and gave it to her mother.

"Thank you, Bobbsey."

Caroline rolled her eyes in sympathy for the nickname, as Cassidy sighed. "You're welcome."

Miranda leaned back against Andrea as she called for the car to pick them up. She closed the phone and mumbled to Andy, "Ten minutes." She smiled as Andy nodded and tightened her embrace.

"We'll go out front and watch for the car!" They ran off, and a few seconds after they disappeared all the adults heard the distinctive bounce of a basketball on the asphalt drive.

"Good," Andy leaned back on the chair and closed her eyes. Miranda's warmth soothed her. "That means I don't have to move just yet."

Pava laughed. "Good to know someone around here has their priorities in order."

"Mother!" Richard was having a hard time watching his daughter cuddling with this woman… and mother is acting like it's just, nothing.

"They're in love, Richard… can't you see that?" Pava smiled at the couple who seemed oblivious to the argument flying over their heads. "They really are a striking couple."

"Gram." Andy ventured quietly into the conversation. "I think Dad is uncomfortable enough without your comments making it worse."

"Tough." The old lady answered her grand-daughter. "I'm seventy-one years old, I can say what I want to, if the truth hurts… He can just deal with it."

Dorothy interrupted the conversation. "Will you be back tomorrow, Andy?"

Andy bent her head to Miranda. "Will we?"

"Perhaps it would be better if we said our goodbye's at the bed and breakfast. The flight to Martha's Vineyard will leave early afternoon, and we will need to get ready and pack…" Miranda didn't actually want the intrusion tomorrow, but for Andrea she would make allowances.

"Yeah, that sounds good." Andy nodded. "Why don't you guys come over about eleven… we can have a couple hours to talk, maybe go out to lunch before we go to the plane." She saw them nodding and turned to see her Gram. "You too?"

"Of course, darlin', I wouldn't miss it." Pava winked as she saw Andy mouth. 'Come early'.

They all turned toward the sound of pounding feet. Cassidy skidded around the corner of the house. "Car's here."

Miranda stood and slipped her jacket on, Andy did the same.

"Good night." Miranda tilted her head at the remaining people. "Thank you for the hospitality."

"See ya tomorrow." Andy hugged her Gram, then her mom and dad. "Good night."

"Wow." Andy laughed. "The girls were out like a light!" She snuggled down into their bed. "How about you?" Her hand rubbed Miranda's flat tummy lightly, but suggestively.

Chuckling, Miranda turned shining blue eyes toward her young companion. "This is the least physically active day I've had in… a long time." Her fingers tangled in dark brown hair and she pulled Andrea to her. "I have a lot of energy to work off before I can sleep."

"Oh, Yay." Andy smiled as Miranda took control. She felt the older woman's hands twining in the material in the front of her pajamas just under where the buttons ended. "Oh no." Andy stilled the hands, "I like these pajamas, and if you tear the buttons off of them now I won't get them back for over a week." She smiled at the frustration on Miranda's face. "I'll do it." Grinning, Andy began to unbutton the top of her pajamas slowly, very very slowly, one button at a time.

"You are evil," Miranda accused as Andrea parted the last button, but she quickly stopped the young woman from removing the garment. "Don't," she said. "Let me." Slowly, Miranda slid her hands under the soft material, pushing it down off Andrea's shoulders. She didn't take it all the way off though, she only pushed it down far enough to expose Andrea's perfect breasts before she gathered the extra material and tied it together, trapping the young woman's arms at her sides. Blue eyes twinkled with glee. "Now, I've got you."

Andy laughed, low and sultry. "You sure do." Lying back on the bed she writhed a bit. "So, what are you going to do with me now?"

With an evil sort of laugh, Miranda began to work the bottom half of Andrea's pajamas off. "It is your birthday Andrea, so you choose."

Never taking her dark eyes off Miranda, Andy smiled. "Kiss me."

"Very well." Moving up, she allowed their lips to meet for a long languorous moment before moving to trail soft heat along Andrea's jaw up to her ear, then down to the young woman's delicious neck.

"Miranda…" Andy felt her lips being covered by two long elegant fingers.

"Shhh…" Miranda closed her eyes as Andrea pulled the fingers on her lips into her mouth, swirling her talented tongue around them. "Andrea… You've had your request." Removing her fingers from the luscious warmth, Miranda chuckled, the kind that depending on the context either made Runway employees shake in their boots or made Andrea quiver; this was the latter. "It's my turn now, so just…"

"Lay back and take it?" Andy grinned, a grin that was wiped away when Miranda growled.


Andy closed her eyes as sensation washed over her. Oh God… she thought and she could feel herself drowning in wave after wave of pleasure as she gave herself over to Miranda, completely.

I'm gonna marry her!

It was just after eight in the morning when Andy, dressed for her morning run, knocked on Mary's backdoor. She was amazed when the door opened and she stood face to face with Gram Sachs. "Uh… Gram?" Andy smiled and chuckled. "I said come early but I didn't mean this early."

The older woman waved off the comment. "When I realized you were staying at the King's B&B, I decided to get here in time for breakfast. Mary and I know each other from way back, so I thought we could catch up." She took her seat at the table across from Mary.

"C'mon in." Mary gestured for her young guest to join them at the table in the breakfast nook. "We're having some coffee." Two gently steaming mugs were sitting on the table. "Would you like some?"

"Ah.. not yet. I want to get my run in first." Andy indicated the house next door. "Miranda is up and will be ready to face the day soon, the girls were still asleep but I expect them up any time… so I'd say… half an hour…forty-five minutes… and they'll be ready for breakfast." She smiled at their hostess. "Do I need to run to the store?"

Mary chuckled. "Nope, I went last night. We're all set." She tilted her head at the young woman. "Do you want me to wait for you to return?"

Andy waved the offer away. "Thanks, but I'll be back by then, I'm not going to take a long run, just enough to work out the kinks." And after last night, boy do I have those…

Both women at the table laughed, both expressing similar sentiments about having Andy's energy. Gram smirked. "And why isn't Miranda running with you?"

Andy laughed at that and ran her fingers through her hair. "Well, first of all, it would mean leaving the girls alone. Second, it would require wearing…" Andy looked around the kitchen, leaned closer, and whispered. "…sneakers."

Gram shook her head and widened her eyes in mock-terror. "Oh the horror!"

Nodding, Andy laughed. "I'm going to surprise her with a pair of Prada running shoes for her birthday."

"You think she… um…" Gram glanced at Mary. "…could?"

That made Andy's laugh louder. "Gram, I run to stay in shape, just so I can keep up with her!" She leaned closer and whispered into her grandmother's ear, causing the older woman to sit a bit straighter and shoot a startled glance at the young girl.


Andy couldn't quite keep a smile off her face as she nodded and inhaled deeply. "Oh yeah." Her deep breath had brought the scent of coffee to her and Andy narrowed her eyes, calculating something. "I think Miranda will want a cup of coffee…I'll take it to her…" She grinned at Mary. "…just make it searing hot and leave room for milk."

Miranda carried her still hot coffee downstairs and discovered Mary and Pava sitting at the small table in the kitchen of the bed and breakfast.

"Good morning." Pava smiled brightly at her granddaughter to be.

Narrowing her eyes at the older woman, Miranda grunted and leaned against the counter. "So now I know who to blame for Andrea's cheery morning disposition?"

Pava shook her head. "Oh no… that one is all on you, m'dear." She winked at Miranda's scandalized expression and explained. "When she was a youngster it was never easy to get her up in the morning. She even managed her college schedule to not include morning classes. Working as your assistant changed that… having to get up so early every morning. I think it changed her internal clock." She saw a flicker of something pass across Miranda's features. Guilt? "Then again it may just be the company she keeps makes her want to get up earlier."

Mary grinned. "I should say Congratulations, I think." The hostess' eyes twinkled. "I saw the ring yesterday morning, but didn't want to say anything." Mary smiled at her guest. "Pava tells me I was correct in thinking you were engaged now."

"Mmm… yes." Miranda hid her grin behind her coffee mug for a moment. Swallowing the sip, she rolled her eyes and found a seat at the table. She found herself in the unusual position of being just a regular person, among other regular people, who actually seemed to care. In this situation, some of her normal emotional walls were lowered. "I don't think I've ever been that nervous in my life."

"Really?" That surprised Mary. Miranda didn't seem to be the nervous type.

"I have no experience with that side of the marriage ritual," Miranda admitted. "I've always been the one being asked."

"How many times have you been married?" Pava was curious, Dottie had made this woman out to be some kind of gold-digger. Obviously not what was happening in Andy's case.

"Twice." The editor sighed. "I can't really regret the first one, because of the girls. I would do every bit of it again, for them."

"And the second?" Pava prompted.

"The second…" Miranda suppressed a shudder. "A marriage of convenience that we both thought would grow into something more." Sipping her coffee, she shook her head. "It didn't."

"And Andy?" This time a bit of 'concerned grandma' slipped into Pava's voice. The love and defiance in Miranda's cool blue eyes told her everything she needed to know, and she nodded. "Third time's the charm I guess."

"I hope so." Miranda conceded how much luck has to do with a successful relationship. "She is rather charming." Shaking her head didn't prevent her thoughts from turning dark. "The other's hurt when they ended." She turned an intense gaze on Pava. "If anything happens to this one, it will kill me."

"She adores you." Mary smiled at her guest. "Even I can see that."

"She is extremely thoughtful." Miranda swallowed hard, remembering all the tiny things Andrea did for her on a daily basis, such as the coffee she currently held in her hand, little things that no one else would think of, because no one else cared enough.

"She loves you." Pava smiled at the silent woman. "I can tell she does."

It was Miranda's turn to be curious. "How can you tell?"

"Well, I could see it in her eyes yesterday every time she looked at you." Pava grinned. "And now, since she thinks I've said something to upset you, she's looking at me like she wants to kill me." She winked at her grand-daughter. "Back from your run so soon, darlin'?"

"Not soon enough apparently." Andy's eyes softened as Miranda turned around. "Are you okay?"

"Yes." Miranda nodded, feeling a bit foolish for wanting to run to the girl, wanting those surprisingly strong, lanky arms around her. As it turned out she didn't have to move, Andrea rushed to her seat and knelt to hug her.

"Are you sure?" Andy spoke lowly into Miranda's ear, glaring over her fiancé's shoulder at her grandmother and their hostess in turn.

"We were just talking." Pava held up her hands as defense against the look in Andy's eyes. "I swear."

"Yes." Miranda agreed and slowly released herself from the embrace. "We were just talking."

"Okay then." Andy stood, keeping one hand on Miranda's shoulder. "I'm gonna go and get cleaned up." She nodded to the other two women. "I'll check on the girls on my way, so I'd expect them down here fairly soon." She left the room and quickly made her way up the stairs.

"Gracious." Mary stared at Miranda, wide-eyed. "You're worried about how she feels about you?" Mary shook her head. "Good grief, that girl loves you like there's no tomorrow!"

Exhaling softly, Miranda nodded. Yes, she does. The problem is there is a tomorrow. Mary's use of the term 'girl' didn't go unnoticed either.

"Well, I'm going to get started on breakfast." Mary stood and began to gather ingredients. "You're welcome to stay and keep me company, or you can move into the other room to continue your conversation."

"Are you kidding?" Pava snorted. "I won't ever be able to bring up that subject again… Andy would kill me!"

Miranda shook her head. "She's rather possessive. It's a trait I never really took kindly to, until now. Andrea has changed my views on quite a number of things." Shrugging, Miranda turned her thoughts to the others who were going to be there that day. "I know we haven't had breakfast yet, but do you have any suggestions on where we can all go for lunch today? My preference is steak…"

"Hmmm…" Pava's eyes glittered. "Let me think."

It was an unnecessary comment, Miranda knew. The gleam in the older woman's eye told the editor Pava already had a place in mind. Anything is fine, Miranda thought recalling Andrea's pick the first night they were in town. It can't be worse than that.

"I know just the place." Pava assured her. "You're gonna love it."

Miranda sighed.

At the sound of a car stopping in front of the house, Pava looked up and sighed. "Well, it was fun while it lasted."

"Gram!" Andy chided. "Don't be that way." The young woman smiled to take the sting out of her words and then jumped down the porch steps to meet her parents mid-way up the sidewalk.

Miranda chuckled. "It has been a lovely morning, thank you for the conversation."

Pava shrugged. "I gotta get to know my new grand-daughter, don't I?" She grinned at Miranda's shocked look and winked at the woman. "I'm glad Andy found you."

Nodding, Miranda almost whispered. "Me too." Then she rolled her eyes as Dottie's voice reached them. "Most of the time."

Pava laughed. "Don't worry. She's not going to be traveling to New York very often, and you can control the time you spend here."

"Mmmm…" Miranda thought about that. "Yes, I can keep my contact with her to a minimum." Several ideas came to mind as to how she would accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, nearly all of them involved Andrea visiting her family without Miranda's presence… and rather like a pouting teen; Miranda just didn't think that was fair at all.

Father, daughter, and mother joined the women on the porch. Miranda tilted her head. "Your son didn't join you?"

Dorothy snorted and Richard grinned. "Ahhh… no. Chad wasn't… umm…"

Andy looked at them for half a second and began laughing. "Too hungover, huh?" She grinned evilly. "He never could hold his alcohol."

Miranda raised her eyebrows. "And you can?"

"Nope." Andy cheerfully confessed. "But I normally know when to quit." She rolled her eyes. "I do need to remember not to drink the punch at James Holt's parties though."

"Mmm.. indeed." Miranda remembered the deceptively sweet liquid and the literal punch it packed. "You and I both."

Disturbed by the idea of his daughter and this…woman out at a party, drinking together, Richard broke into the conversation. "So where do you want to go for lunch?"

"Oh." Miranda realized Pava had never actually said the name of her chosen establishment and turned to the older woman. "Where was it you wanted to go?"

"Maury's." Pava smiled. "You said steak, but most of the good steakhouses around here don't open until dinner. Maury's is good and open for lunch."

Andrea was nodding in agreement so Miranda went along with it. "Very well."

"Aren't they fairly expensive?" Dottie worried. "With seven of us…"

"Not to worry." Miranda rose from her seat. "If the tab runs over my credit limit, you can make up the difference."

Andy laughed quietly and fell into step beside Miranda heading to the car. The rest of the party followed.

Miranda eyed the restaurant thoughtfully. Could be worse. They were seated at a large round table and were quiet as they looked over the menu selections. Dorothy mumbled something about the prices to her husband, but Miranda didn't care about either the comment or the prices so she pretended not to hear. Her main concern was that there was no acceptable steak selection on the Lunch Menu.

When the waiter arrived, he took their orders. He started with Andrea and went around the table, causing Miranda to be the last to order.

"I would like the New York strip steak, medium-rare."

"Uh… we don't serve that at lunch ma'am…" He looked around the table nervously. "We have a lovely filet..."

"I'm perfectly capable of reading the pathetic lunch menu you presented to us. I can also see that you serve New York strip at dinner, I would like that now. Thank you."

Andy widened her eyes at the 'thank you'. Practically any waiter in New York would pass out or have a heart attack to hear those words from Miranda. She was amazed that the waiter persisted.

"I'm sorry, we just don't…serve that at lunch."

Miranda closed her eyes and counted to ten, then sighed and nodded. "Fine. The filet then."

"What!?" Andy glared at her fiancé and leaned close to whisper. "Miranda, tell me honestly, do you want the filet or are you settling because you know it will upset my Mom?"

"I've done enough this weekend to give her pause, Andrea, there need not be any more."

The waiter began to move away from their table.

Andy looked Miranda directly in the eye and shook her head. "Bullshit."


With a smile and a wink, Andy rose from her seat and caught up with the waiter.

They all watched as she spoke to the man for a moment. He left, and in short order another man appeared to speak with Andy. None of them could hear what she told him, but they all saw his face go pale and his eyes widen. They watched as he slowly nodded and Andy gave him a bright smile before she made her way back to the table.

"One New York strip, medium-rare, comin' up, Boss."

Miranda gazed at the young woman with undisguised love. "Thank you, Andrea."

"You're welcome." Andy turned adoring eyes on her fiancé. "Always."

Dorothy fumed during most of the wait for their meals. This flaunting of the rules was just too much. She managed to speak, in short bursts, to Andy about people Andy had gone to school with.

Andy listened and nodded at what she thought were the appropriate pauses but couldn't for the life of her figure out why her mother believed that she cared about people who hadn't given her the time of day back then. Finally Gram cut into the conversation.

"For crying out loud, Dorothy, Andy doesn't want to hear about all these people. Do you remember nothing about her school days?" The older woman was becoming quite angry with her daughter-in-law. "Give it a rest. You aren't going to tempt Andy away from Miranda with tales of some guy she dated once in school who went on to flip burgers at the corner greasy spoon."

Miranda chuckled and teased her partner. "You have a thing for cooks?"

It was too easy to resist. "Mmmm… yeah, I'm so glad it turns out you're a gourmet chef."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Not quite."

Andy grinned. "Well you make a mean breakfast in record time."

"You're a good cook, Mom." Caroline agreed. "You cook all kinds of things for us."

"Yeah," Cassidy piped up. "Grandma Princhek's pierogi's are the best."

"You girls are biased." Miranda sat up a bit straighter. "I'll have to make them for Andrea one day, I'm sure she'll give me an honest opinion."

"Maybe one day we can share our family recipes." Pava said. "For some special occasion…" Like a wedding?

Miranda tilted her head. "Perhaps."

Andy burst out laughing. All the eyes at the table turned to her, but only Miranda asked what was so funny. It took a minute for the young woman to get her mirth under control and then it was only long enough to say, "I was just imagining the horror on Emily's face if she were to hear you were actually swapping recipes with my grandmother."

"Mmm… yes, she would require medical assistance for that…wouldn't she?" Miranda grinned at the thought but couldn't explore it further because the food was arriving at the table.

"You didn't get a side dish." Dorothy pointed at Miranda's plate. "You should tell them."

"She didn't want one, Ma." Andy picked up her fork and speared a bite of her salad. "She never eats side dishes at lunch. Just the steak."

"But vegetables are good for you…" Dorothy trailed off her motherly advice as Miranda leveled a glare at her.

"I eat vegetables." Miranda informed her. "I eat almost nothing but vegetables for my evening meal, but at lunch, I eat steak." She cut into the offering and smiled at the meat's interior perfect coloring. "I eat less carbs that way." She chewed the bite, nodding at the seasoning. "I'm quite healthy." Waving her fork at her partner, Miranda smiled. "Andrea sees to that."

Andy rolled her eyes. "Just because I'm paranoid and make you go to the doctor."

"Paranoid?" Dorothy didn't understand that, did her daughter actually realize the problems growing older caused?

"Yeah, because of the whole, stalker thing, when Judy tried to drug Miranda… the drugs were dangerous at the levels she'd been ingesting." Andy shuddered at the thought of that final cup of coffee. "I was so paranoid about the long term effects of that I had Miranda going to the doctor all the time… at first."

"I had to put a stop to it." Miranda said, cutting another bite. "It was just too disruptive to go all the time." The Editor looked over at Andrea. "The last appointment showed nothing, the same as the ones before. Doctor Dawson said not to come back for six months."

"Unless you start having problems." Andy reminded her and was glad Miranda nodded in agreement. "Can we change the subject now? I really hate remembering that." She closed her eyes for a second and could see Miranda lifting the poisoned coffee cup to her lips. Shuddering at the vision, she opened her eyes quickly and swallowed against her dry throat. I could have lost her. That thought had nearly stopped her heart so many times in the beginning but now, when she looked across the table at her partner, her heart nearly stopped for almost the exact opposite reason.

I'm gonna marry her.

The traveler's bags had gone through the normal airport security, but the limousine had driven right out onto the tarmac, parking very close to the stairs leading up to the open plane door.

Caroline and Cassidy tumbled out of the car. They only barely took the time to politely say goodbye to Richard and Dorothy before they hugged Gram Sachs quickly and almost ran up the stairs to board the plane.

"Well… um… thank you for the meal." Richard politely held out his hand to Miranda. "I'm uh…"

Miranda smiled and took his hand quickly but firmly. The man hadn't said much during lunch and Miranda knew he was still uneasy about his daughter's relationship with her. "You are quite welcome, Mr. Sachs. Thank you for your hospitality." She turned to Dorothy. "And thank you, for the wonderful meals you prepared for us." She didn't offer her hand to the woman.

"You're welcome." Dorothy replied. "I'm glad we got the chance to meet, and talk a little."

Nodding, Miranda exhaled slowly. "Perhaps we will again." She raised her eyebrows. "Just remember what I told you in the car about the paparazzi. They will be here soon… ignore them and they'll go away. We," she indicated Andrea and herself, "will be a much better target for their fascination."

Andy stepped up. "Just don't believe anything you see or read in those rags… call me to ask if you have to, but ninety-nine percent of the time it's all airbrushed photos and made-up stories." She moved closer and hugged her mom. "I love you, Ma." She turned to her dad. "Love you, Daddy, thanks for everything."

He held her tightly and didn't want to let go. The description of the paparazzi and their tactics had scared him. "Take care of yourself… please?"

"I will, daddy." Andy squeezed him a bit tighter for a second.

"I'll watch out for her, Mr. Sachs." Miranda promised. "I'll take care of her."

"No…" Andy protested. "We'll take care of each other." She turned to make her final good-bye. "Gram, it was so good to see you." Andy hugged her gently, feeling the fragility in the older woman. "Thank you…"

Pulling away from the embrace, Pava smiled at her favorite grand-daughter. "It's nice to see you happy, darlin'." She kissed Andy's cheek lightly. "Take care."

"You too, Gram." Andy moved away as Miranda stepped up.

"It was nice meeting you, Pava." She surprised herself when the woman embraced her and she reciprocated. It had been a long time since she'd had any sort of mother-figure. She laughed to herself at the absurdity of that designation for Pava.

The driver interrupted his temporary employer. "Your bags have been loaded on the plane."

Nodding Miranda handed him some folded bills. "Thank you, return Andrea's family to the bed and breakfast, then you are finished with this assignment."

"Thank you, Ma'am. It's been a pleasure." He pocketed the tip without looking at it and held the car door for the passengers on the last leg of this job.

Miranda waited with Andrea until the car began to move back across the tarmac before she led her partner up the stairs to the plane. The attendant closed the door behind them. They all took their seats and fastened their seatbelts as the plane began to move. Miranda took a deep breath knowing that next part of their journey together was about to begin. Miranda devoutly hoped at least some of it would be spent together.

The End

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