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

Like Love
By Gin


Part 11

Andy linked her arm with Miranda's as they walked away from the customs station with their freshly stamped passports tucked away in their purses. "Okay, so we're here, now what?"

Miranda took a deep breath and leaned into the younger woman as they walked. "Off to the hotel, late dinner, relax tonight…"

"Mmm… sounds heavenly…" With a gasp, Andy stopped their forward motion. Pulling them out of the main line of traffic, they ended up in a shadowed corner. "I just realized…this is the first vacation we've taken together, alone." Andy shifted closer threading her fingers through the soft white hair she loved to feel and whispered. "I intend to take full advantage of that status." Pulling the older woman to her, Andy pressed their lips together and protested with a whimper when Miranda broke the kiss after only a few seconds.

"The first thing you should know about London, Andrea, is that paparazzi here are even more devious than their counterparts back home." She looked around the airport and didn't notice anyone who looked particularly interested in them at the moment. Andrea's chuckle pulled her attention back to the woman.

"So what?" Andy pulled her fiancée back to her. "I hope they get my good side."

"Andrea," Miranda chuckled, "You don't have a bad side." Their lips met again and Miranda felt herself being turned, pressed into the wall behind her. Breaking the quickly deepening kiss, she gasped. "Oh, no… not here…" Grabbing the amorous young woman's hand, Miranda practically pulled her to the exit. There was, as there always were at airports, a line of cabs waiting to take newly arriving people to their destinations. Miranda guided Andrea past those to a waiting limousine. The driver held a sign that said 'Priestly-Sachs'. He held the door open for them and waited until they were settled before he shut it firmly. Assuming his position behind the wheel, he looked into the rearview mirror.

"Where to?"

"Kensington," Miranda grabbed Andy's hand before it could slide any higher on her thigh, this car did not have a privacy divider, "The Milestone Hotel."

Nodding once, he checked the traffic and pulled the car slowly away from the curb.

Miranda continued to hold Andrea's hand as the young woman was caught by the sights passing the car window. The lights weren't quite as romantic as Paris, but when the car pulled up in front of the huge stately building it was enough to reduce Andrea's voice to a whisper.

"Miranda, it's gorgeous."

Nodding, the older woman smiled and tugged on her companion's hand as the car door opened. "We must check in, then we can explore all we want."

Andy followed obediently and stood slightly behind Miranda as she conducted the business of checking in. While the desk clerk was finishing the documents for Miranda to sign, the manager arrived and glanced at the screen behind the counter.

"Ah, Ms. Priestly!" he smiled, "I'm glad to see you arrived safely." Looking past the older woman his eyes met with Andy's. "And you must be Ms. Sachs." He smiled as the brunette nodded, her lovely brown eyes widening slightly. "Ms. Priestly informs us that you have a running routine in the mornings…" He waited for her to acknowledge that before continuing. "I also run every morning and would be glad to take you on my circuit through Hyde Park, if you wish, or we have state of the art equipment in our fitness facility."

The light suddenly went on over Andy's head. No wonder Miranda let me wear my running shoes. She knows I can't just buy a new pair and run in them without breaking them in first. Depending on time constraints she normally ran three to eight miles a day. She asked the manager. "How far do you run?"

"I run the same path twice, it's roughly eight kilometers total."

She nodded. "Five miles, that's perfect." She knew it would be difficult to make herself run very far during the two weeks she was going to be on her honeymoon so she tried to keep it toward the upper end of her normal range as much as possible right now. "What time?"

Ms. Priestly had said the woman usually ran in the mornings, so the manager smiled, "I'll be waiting for you in the lobby at seven am? It's only a short walk to the park." The man was pleased his fitness regime was going to help the hotel make a customer happy.

A little later than I normally run, but I do want to sleep in somewhat… "Excellent." She smiled and nodded at him then turned to Miranda. "Are we all set?" Nodding, Miranda handed her a key card and linked their arms together. They followed an empty-handed bellboy as he showed them to their room.

They listened absently as the young man described the amenities of the suite. Miranda gave him a tip, thanking him for the information before she walked him to the door.

Andy waited until Miranda shut the door firmly before she wrapped her arms around the older woman. "So, what's the plan, Boss?"

"Mmmm…" Miranda leaned back into the embrace. "I must call Abigail and request some clothing be sent from their Closet, at least a running suit for you in the morning."

Bending her head, Andy kissed the woman's neck, smiling against the soft skin there. "I thought you said we could go to Harrods and shop?"

Turning in place, Miranda nodded as she reciprocated the soft touches with gentle explorations of her own. Familiar tingles began to build within her but Miranda managed to mumble against the silken skin. "Not today, it's Sunday, they close at six."

"Oh…" Andy walked Miranda backward until they were standing next to the bed. The heat in her veins was quickly becoming fire and Andy tore herself away from the one person in the world she wanted to burn with. "Make your call." With great heaving breaths, Andy backed off slightly her eyes large and dark as she looked out from under her bangs. She managed another word, deep and husky. "Hurry."

Miranda closed her eyes and swallowed as the phone to her ear produced a woman's voice. She did not return the greeting. "Abigail, I've managed to find time for a holiday but find myself in need of your Closet. Would you be a dear and have a selection of casual outfits and a few dresses suitable for fine dining sent to The Milestone, size four for Andrea and size two for me, include shoes, eight and a half for her, seven for me, and also include three running outfits for Andrea." Blue eyes blinked at the response and Miranda nodded. "Acceptable." Disconnecting the call, Miranda tossed the phone into a nearby chair barely in time to prepare for Andrea's pounce. She found herself pressed back onto the bed with Andrea's delicious weight above her. "Mmmm…" She forced the young woman to stop. "Wait…" Miranda assured the brunette, "just a moment." Rolling to pick up the phone next to the bed, she quickly dialed downstairs. The helpful desk clerk assured her that when the delivery arrived from British Runway they would hold it until she or Andrea called for it to be sent up and that the Do Not Disturb restriction on their room was firmly in place. Replacing the phone in its place, Miranda smiled as Andrea's deep voice growled in her ear. "Finished?"

"Yes, Darling," Miranda grinned. "I'm all yours…but," blue eyes twinkled at her amorous partner, "Flying east has caused us to lose time." The meal served on the plane wasn't even enough to sustain Emily, "We will have to eat at some point."

Flashing a wicked smirk at the older woman, Andrea moved in. "Oh yes," Her lips were now close enough to Miranda's to mingle their breaths. "I definitely plan on eating at some point." Her large trembling hand found its way inside Miranda's shirt, brushing the velvet skin she found there. "I love you, Miranda."

Arching into the touch, Miranda moaned, "I love you too." She closed her eyes as the soft hand left a trail of heat along her skin. I love you too… was her last thought before the fire in her veins consumed her.

The sensation of eyes on her, combined with dim light filtering in through the windows, woke Miranda slowly. She stretched and almost purred as she blinked her eyes open, knowing what she'd find. Andrea, beside her, watching her, those big brown eyes taking in every inch of skin they could see. "Mmmm…" Turning to face the young woman, Miranda lifted her hand lazily to trace the lovely cheek. "How long have you been awake?"

Closing her eyes, Andy leaned into the touch. "I don't know." Hours.

Small lines appeared between Miranda's eyes, "Something wrong, Darling?" Another nightmare?

"No." With a deep breath, Andy's eyes opened and she turned to kiss the palm of the hand caressing her. "Everything is perfect." Reaching out, Andy brushed a lock of silver white hair off of Miranda's forehead, trailing her fingertips around the woman's face. "Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?"

Miranda chuckled and smiled, "Not since I've woken up."

"You're beautiful."

Blue eyes softened as those two, softly spoken, words carried the emotion behind them directly to her heart. "What did I ever do to deserve you…your love?"

"I've been lying here, watching you sleep, asking myself that very same question. I have no clue what incredibly wonderful thing I must have done to deserve you in my life."

Miranda smiled as Andrea snuggled closer. "And what was your solution to this mutual quandary?"

'I don't know about you." Andy chuckled. "But I pretty much just came to the conclusion that I'm the luckiest woman on Earth."

"If I recall correctly, I believe we established the true holder of that title, on the plane here." Miranda sighed as she caught sight of the clock. "You will need to prepare for your run soon."

"Yeah," Andy didn't show any sign of motion, "in a minute." She sighed, "I wish you would run with me."

"Mmmm…" Miranda exhaled slowly. "I'm not in any condition to do that." She wouldn't admit that she would be embarrassed to try and keep up with the younger woman. The mere thought of trying to run five miles was intimidating, much less trying to maintain dignity while she was doing it.

Scoffing at that, Andy countered the protest. "You are in wonderful shape, Miranda." She did concede a fact though. "You can't just go out and start running the same as I do though, we'd have to start you out slowly."

Inspiration struck the older woman. "I've been thinking about getting a treadmill for the townhouse, perhaps we could have a few exercise machines in the basement?"

"A gym?"

"Not exactly, just a small workout area, a treadmill, a stair-stepper, that sort of thing… perhaps we can discuss it with the girls when we return home." Miranda knew they would be getting at least a treadmill, on the pretense of conditioning herself for running with Andrea. She wanted the young woman to have it available this winter when the snow and ice made running outside hazardous.

The idea of running with Miranda made Andy smile. "Sounds like a plan." With a sigh Andy shifted, tossing her hair back over her shoulder with a flick of her head. She kissed the bare shoulder under her cheek and lightly caressed the stomach muscles under her hand. "Okay, gonna go jump in the shower."

"Mmm… Do you want me to call and have some juice sent up, or water?"

"Water would be good…Dasani," Andy thought about it, "and grape juice if they have it… otherwise just water." She gave her fiancée's stomach another pat and placed a quick kiss on her lips before rising from the bed. "Back in a bit."

Miranda nodded as she reached for the phone, muttering, "if they have it…" she snorted as she dialed the phone. "They better have it, or someone will start pressing grapes immediately."

"Are you sure this is okay?" Andy sat on the floor legs splayed wide as she leaned over reaching for the toes on her right foot once more. "Because I don't have to…"

"Andrea, it's perfectly acceptable for you to maintain your workout routine while we are here." Miranda took a sip of her coffee and browsed through the newspaper that had been delivered along with their morning drinks. "I will manage for a little while without you."

"Okay then…" Rising from the floor, the young woman stretched her arms above her head and leaned from side to side. "I'm guessing I'm about as limber as I'm going to get and it's time to go meet my new running buddy." She moved to the chair Miranda occupied and bent down for a quick kiss.

Miranda tilted her head upward to accept the warm lips on her cheek. "Take care."

"It's a medium run, shouldn't take more than an hour…I don't know how fast this guy goes." That actually worried her, she didn't want to have to go slower than her regular pace but she didn't know the circuit that well. She hoped he wasn't just trying to score points and that he actually did run this circuit daily. If so, she shouldn't have any trouble with pacing, unless she couldn't keep up with him.

"Of course," Miranda nodded. "I'll be here." She watched the woman she loved walk out the door. As soon as the door closed, Miranda set aside the paper and her glasses. A moment later she stood and, moving to the center of the room, began a short workout routine of her own.

A few days after they'd been taken hostage at the charity event, Miranda had begun using Andrea's running time to refamiliarize herself with certain karate forms. The fluffy hotel robe wasn't exactly the best wardrobe choice for her routine, but it wasn't too much of a hindrance; not as much as a ball gown anyway. Focusing on her breathing, Miranda moved silently around the room, almost dancing as she stretched her muscles and practiced the long abandoned moves.

The hotel manager waited in the lobby for the young woman he would be running with today. He hoped she was actually a runner and not just another rich American who thought running was 'trendy'. He rolled his eyes as she walked out of the elevator. Schooling his expression as she approached, he nodded politely. "Ms. Sachs."

"Andy, please." She held out her hand to shake. "Thanks for babysitting me…"

"Michael... Ashcroft." He shook her hand and raised his eyebrow. "Nice outfit."

"Ah," Andy looked down at the running suit Abigail had sent for her. It had amazed her when she saw it because it was exactly like the outfits Miranda had gotten her for her birthday. "This one is just on loan from British Runway."

"Of course," he chuckled. "It's not really an outfit a person would wear every day."

Andy went very still. "What?"

"Versace right? Her new venture." He shrugged. "I don't really follow fashion, but running outfits I pay attention to. I guess some American celebrity has been photographed several times wearing them over the last few weeks. They're all the rage now; very trendy, very expensive."

Andy covered her mouth with her fingers briefly, then questioned him as they walked to the door. "Donatella Versace?"

He nodded, "That's the one… not something she normally designs, I understand." He held the door open for her. "I heard it was a special request from someone very high up in the industry. Since this came from Runway, it's probably one that the designer worked on herself…" he chuckled. "…how often do you get the chance to sweat in designer originals?"

You'd be surprised at what I sweat in. Laughing, Andy sent warm thoughts racing back to Miranda as she brushed past him to exit the building and mumbled, "Every day apparently."

He followed her out and directed her toward the park. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that."

Running her fingers through her hair, Andy sighed and indicated her outfit. "I have ten of these at home." She shrugged. "I wear one every day." With a slightly depreciating smile, she informed him. "I suppose, I'm the American that's been photographed wearing them."

"Oh," He wondered if he should apologize. "I…um…"

Andy waved his halting apology off, "No problem." Looking around, she decided to change the subject from Miranda's single handed influence on the running world's fashion sense and smiled. "Wow, this is beautiful. It was dark when we got here last night."

He looked around the park with a bit of pride. "Yes, it's quite lovely." Stepping onto a path, he gestured the direction they were going to be running. "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

He started down the path slowly, increasing his speed gradually to his normal pace. He was pleasantly surprised that the young woman was keeping up.

Miranda sat at the table on the balcony. Her shortened workout was over and she'd quickly prepared for the upcoming day. It was quite pleasant to sit here in the open air and just enjoy the moment. Closing her eyes, she smiled as the sun filtered through her eyelids and warmed her face. Her mind turned to the girls, hoping they were enjoying their time with their father, and her then her thoughts, as always, turned to Runway for a moment as she wondered what sort of work she would face upon their return. Mostly though she thought of Andrea and hoped the meeting with her family would go at least as well as the one with the young woman's had.

Hearing the knock at the door and the faint voice announcing 'housekeeping', Miranda ignored both as she remained seated simply enjoying the moment. She heard the woman bustling around the room, changing the sheets and making the bed, cleaning and restocking the bathroom, running the vacuum, Miranda listened to the woman leaving the room and remained sitting on the chair just thinking about the upcoming day with Andrea. She smiled as thoughts of her fiancée invaded her mind.

"Hey, Beautiful." Andy smiled as Miranda turned her head to look at her. "Whatcha thinkin' about?"

"You." Miranda grinned as Andy's sun-rivaling smile appeared. "Did you have a nice run?"

"Yes." Nodding, the brunette took a seat at the table, across from Miranda. She sat for a long moment silently studying her partner. She could see Miranda shift under the stare and ran her tongue over her teeth before plucking at the fabric of her sleeve and raising her eyebrow. "Donatella?"

Andy watched Miranda's face shift through several fascinating expressions before settling on a totally unrepentant look.


"You asked her… to design a running outfit?"

Miranda's eye twitched at the word 'ask'. "I… suggested, she look into the sport and its apparel."

"And then she sent you…ten of her newest designs." Andy wiped her hand over her face in exasperation. When Miranda had presented her with the outfits, she'd also given her the De La Renta Cerulean Blue collection… the evening gowns had turned her head and taken away any close scrutiny that the running outfits might have received. Andy had noticed the brand logo, but hadn't really given it much thought.

"I…requested seven, she sent me…you… ten." Miranda watched her fiancée carefully for signs of anger. She had not meant to deceive the woman, she just had neglected to mention that the outfits were in fact designer originals. It was almost ridiculous for Andrea not to know that anyway, you would think she's known me long enough by now… Miranda thought, almost pouting in her head.

"I suppose I should have known." Andy smiled at the love of her life. "You being you and all." Dark eyes twinkled at the incredulous expression morphing onto Miranda's face. "No, I'm not reading your mind," Andy laughed as the editor's mouth fell open slightly, "I just know you, better than you think I do." Andy winked and rose from her seat. "I have time for a quick shower, don't I?"

Nodding, Miranda's eyes tracked Andrea as she rose. "Yes, it's barely eight now. Harrods doesn't open until ten, and it isn't far. We have plenty of time."

"Oh we do?" Andy's wicked smile touched her darkening eyes. "In that case…" She held out her hand. "Shall we?"

My God what she does to me… Miranda couldn't believe that with just a mere smile the woman standing next to her could ignite such heat in her veins. Swallowing at the sensation, Miranda slid her hand into Andrea's and whispered. "Let's shall."

It was eleven thirty before they met the car downstairs and started on their way. Miranda wondered if they should shop first or not. Pulling her phone from her purse, she dialed a rarely used number, winking at Andrea as she listened to the device for an answer. She couldn't tell if she was relieved or not when the voice answered.


"Natalie." Miranda licked her lips. "Hello."

"Miriam…uh… I mean… Miranda… is everything okay?"

"We are in town." Miranda took a deep breath. "We are going to have some lunch and do some shopping, for some necessities and then…" pausing to chose her words carefully Miranda continued. "…I'm going to go visit mother, then I would like to bring Andrea to your home. I would like for you to meet."

"Miria…Miranda, you are more than welcome, it's perfect timing… Remember when we spoke over the holidays, I told you Dinah was pregnant? Well she gave birth last week and tonight we'll all be here celebrating." She hesitated, then ventured. "The naming ceremony is today…"

"Today?" Miranda was surprised. "On a Monday?"

Natalie was silent for a moment then exhaled loudly and explained, reminding her sister what this weekend was. "Saturday was Shavuot. We rescheduled the naming to include…everyone."

Samuel, the editor thought with only a slight tightening of her stomach. "I will not go to the synagogue." Miranda was firm on that point.

Natalie sighed. "No, I suppose you wouldn't. Come to the house after? We'll all be there."

Natalie sounded like she was smiling, Miranda narrowed her eyes. "All?"

"Yes! Everyone! Dinah will be thrilled to see you!" Natalie was overjoyed that her sister would be joining them. "The whole family together under one roof!"

"Oh… then perhaps we shouldn't…." Miranda was truly worried about subjecting Andrea to the sum total of her family. However, she recalled the trip to Cincinnati quite vividly and wondered. Is turnabout truly fair play?

"Oh!... You must come! Please Miranda…" Natalie held her breath as her stubborn sister made up her mind.

"He won't like it." Miranda warned.

"It's my house." Natalie countered. She was determined to get her sister back at some point, she wasn't going to let their older brother and his strict ways prevent that. She remained quiet for a moment longer, praying Miranda wouldn't let him stop her either.

"Very well." Miranda reached out to hold Andrea's hand. "What time should we be there?"

"I'm saying seven-thirty, to give everyone the time to get here from the Synagogue." Natalie again projected a smile through the phone. "Everyone will be so thrilled to see you!"

"Mmmm…" That was entirely untrue and Natalie knew it. Miranda saw they were nearing the end of their car ride. "Seven-thirty then, goodbye Natalie." She waited for her sister to say farewell before disconnecting the call, which was in fact more than most people got. Staring out the window for a long moment she wondered if it were possible to reconnect with her family, her sister at least. If the girls were at odds I would encourage them to work it out between them. Andrea's strangled voice, and the slight motion of their joined hands, pulled her attention out of her thoughts.

"Miranda?" Andy's eyes were as wide and dark as any terrified deer's ever were. "Your m…mother?"

The car slowed to a stop and the driver exited to open the door for them. Miranda kissed the trembling hand in hers. "Don't worry Andrea. Everything will be fine." As her door opened, the older woman smiled. "Come, we have much more important things to think about."

Andy wished she'd been outside the car to see Miranda's leg emerge first. She scrambled out of the car after Miranda and looked up at the magnificent building in front of them. "Whoa!" The building was huge, the size of a city block.

Chuckling, Miranda dismissed the driver and wrapped her arm around Andrea's waist. "Whoa, indeed." She laughed. "Lunch, and then we have some shopping to do."

They had skipped breakfast but Andy wasn't sure her stomach could take anything heavy right now, the thought of Miranda's family was unsettling, but her mother? Yikes. "Can we eat light?"

Miranda raised her eyebrows and licked her lips as she smirked. "After this morning I would have thought you'd be starving." The editor laughed. "Of course, my darling…" She indicated the huge building they were about to enter. "Anything and everything you could ever ask for, just beyond those doors."

Andy shook her head as her arms slid around the older woman's waist. "No, Miranda. Anything and everything I will ever want, I have right here."

Chuckling at that, Miranda shook her head. "I love you too, Andrea." She guided the young woman toward the door. "They have a wonderful sushi bar here."

"Yeah?" Andy nodded. "That sounds great." She blinked as a uniformed doorman opened the door for them. "Um… Miranda. Are we going to talk about your mother?"

Miranda looked confused for a moment then answered, "No." Blue eyes took on a sad tinge and the woman's lips pressed together for a moment. "Not now. Please." Directing Andrea toward the chosen restaurant, Miranda informed her companion of other, more pleasant, things. "My sister informs me that her daughter has recently given birth, so in addition to shopping for our own necessities, we should also look for an appropriate gift."

"Oh!" Andy's eyes sparkled as her trademark dazzling smile appeared. "Will we get to see the baby?!"

The smile she'd never tire of seeing warmed Miranda's heart but the reason for it nibbled at her brain. Does Andrea want a baby? A child of her own? "My family is scheduled to be at Natalie's home this evening, to celebrate. I'm fairly certain there will be several children there of varying ages, including newborn."

"Wow…" Andy smiled at the hostess of the restaurant and spoke to Miranda quietly as they were escorted to their table. "Should we bring treats for all of them?"

A slow smile crossed Miranda's face as she was seated. "I think that's a lovely idea, Andrea."


Part 12

Andy was amazed at the store, but even more intrigued by the woman exploring it with her. As they shopped, Miranda slowly let her carefully guarded persona slip. She smiled a little easier, laughed a little faster, and best of all spoke just a little more 'English' than normal. Andy knew that meant the older woman was relaxed and she didn't want to spoil that mood. That meant she just had to go with the moment, not ask about the upcoming meeting with Miranda's family. That was a subject that would surely bring all the gates that were slowly opening crashing down again.

"What do you think of this one, Andrea?" Miranda held up a dress for her fiancée to see.

Caroline will love that. With a playful twinkle in her eye Andy grinned. "For you?" She grinned wider as the expected eye-roll manifested.

"Of course not for me, for Caroline," Miranda shook the garment. "She would like it don't you think?"

"Yes." Andy moved closer to examine the dress. "She'll love it. You know she will." Why is she even asking? "You know her tastes better than I do."

"No," the older woman sighed, "I don't think so. You spend more time with her than I do."

Taking the dress from Miranda, Andy set it aside. She placed her hands lightly on Miranda's shoulders. "You spend as much time as you can with them and they know it."

Miranda moved closer melting into the embrace, "Sometimes I wonder if it's enough."

"It is." Andy tucked Miranda's head under her chin. "Trust me, any time spent with you is wonderful."

"Okay," patting the young woman's shoulder's, Miranda pulled away, "I think we still have some shopping to do."

"You bet," Andy grinned. "It's been a while since lunch, shall we try the Candy Shop?"

"Really Andrea..." Miranda mock-chided, "Carbs?"

"Oh yeah," releasing her from the embrace, Andy twined their fingers together as they walked. "Chocolate, the best kind! We still need to find treats for the kids tonight, right?"

"Yes," Miranda toyed with the idea of bringing chocolate to the gathering then sighed, knowing what Samuel's reaction would be. "You can purchase some chocolates for yourself, Andrea," she gestured the direction to take for the candy shop, "but we won't take any to my sister's tonight." The young woman's puzzled expression forced a continued explanation, "Nothing with milk or gelatin in it."

"Really?" Andy realized why. "Oh, because of their religion?"

Nodding Miranda pressed her lips together tightly for a moment. "My brother is quite observant in his faith... most of the others would probably be fine with it, but .. Samuel... he's a tough nut to crack." She wasn't sure she really even wanted to. Although she no longer observed the rites of any organized faith, Miranda had the utmost respect for people's right to practice what they chose. She pulled herself out of her thoughts to watch her companion browsing through the candy selections.

"Ohhh..." Andy peered into the display of gorgeous chocolates. "Those look delicious."

A sales clerk suddenly appeared and indicated the display. "Would you like a sample?"

"Yes!" But now Andy had a relatively difficult decision to make. Which one to choose?

Miranda tapped the glass over a selection and nodded at the sales clerk. "This one."

Retrieving a small square of the dark confection, the girl hesitated then handed the sweet to Andy.

"Thank you." Impishly, she broke the square in two and offered one of the halves to Miranda. To her amazement, the older woman took the offering and placed it in her mouth, quickly.

Holding her hand over her mouth, Miranda spoke around the bite, "These are my favorite."

Intrigued, Andy also tasted the delicacy. She rolled her eyes and grinned as she spoke around the tiny bite that was almost already melted in her mouth. "I should have known." Coffee flavored. It was delicious though, so Andy instructed the girl assisting them. "We'll take five squares of that." With a wicked smirk, Andy assured her white haired companion, "we can share, later." A bright display caught her eye and Andy moved to investigate. "Miranda? What about these for the kids?" She held up a candy stick, like a candy cane without the hook.

Miranda nodded. "Yes, acceptable." She smiled as the young woman then found another hard candy, and another. With a tolerant smile that grew into genuine happiness, Miranda approved each and every one as she watched Andrea behave like, well, a kid in a candy store. That's what she is, you old fool... Her smile faded. How can you possibly... Her thought was cut off as that smile that rivaled the sun was turned on her. Miranda swallowed hard, no longer remembering what her thoughts had been. I'm going to marry her.

They finalized their purchases at the candy shop and moved on to the baby section. Miranda couldn't help but notice how Andrea's face would light up when they would run across a particularly cute outfit. Or, how the young woman's eyes would get a little wistful every now and then when they looked through the little booties and blankets. Does Andrea want children of her own? It was worrisome for Miranda because she did not want any more children. She had been too old when she had the twins, a child at this juncture in my life would just be... She couldn't bring herself to think unwanted, but it would complicate things when she was looking forward to things being decidedly un-complicated in her life, as uncomplicated as life with Andrea could be.

"Earth to Miranda?" Andy waved her hand in front of her companion's eyes, her own dark stare became concerned when the editor blinked and obviously 'returned'. "You okay?"

"Yes, yes, I'm fine, Andrea." It was a little sharper than she intended, being caught daydreaming was never something she liked to happen. Sighing at the hurt on Andrea's face, Miranda relented and grabbed the hand that had just moments before been waving in front of her. She kissed the inside wrist and murmured. "I'm sorry, darling... you just caught me daydreaming."

Closing her eyes to savor the sensation of Miranda's lips on her wrist, Andy smiled. "Ah..." She opened her eyes to see intense love in her companion's face. "Good ones I hope?"

"All my thoughts of you are good."

Andy tilted her head slightly because of the unfamiliar lilt in Miranda's voice. The editor's accent was breaking through even more. It was surprising because, one, Miranda was neither drunk nor exhausted and two, even though she was alert and in full command of her senses, Miranda didn't seem to notice the change in her voice. "I think we've got enough stuff for the baby, don't you?"

Miranda looked over the selections. They had chosen several small onsies, half a dozen little outfits, a basketful of care products including shampoo and two small blanket sized towels with built in hoods. "Yes."

The women finalized their purchases and Miranda called for the car to meet them at the same door they entered through. Once settled in the car, they began to make plans for the rest of the day. It was still early. "You didn't get much sleep last night, Andrea. Why don't we go back to the room and you can rest for a while."

"On one condition." Andy slid closer to the older woman and nuzzled her neck. "You have to join me...resting."

"Andrea," Miranda leaned into the kiss, "do you honestly believe that if I 'rest' with you there will be any 'resting' to be had?"

Andy chuckled, "Oh, there will be things had, resting may not be one of them though."

Miranda let a trickle of low laughter escape her, "You're incorrigible."

Moving to Miranda's ear, the tip of Andy's tongue traced around the velvety shell. "You love me anyway."

"Oh yes," the editor felt her heartbeat double. "I most definitely do."

There was practically no traffic so the short distance from Harrods to the hotel barely took any time at all. Andy held her question until they got to the room. Once they had the packages separated into which ones were for the girls, which ones for the baby tonight, and the kids treats. She'd put it off for as long as she could but now it couldn't wait anymore. "Miranda?"

The soft questioning lilt to her name caught her attention and she turned to face her fiancee, "Yes, Andrea?"

"Your mother?" The thought of meeting Miranda's mother literally terrified her. "What will I say to her?"

Miranda shook her head. "Say anything you want, Andrea, but don't expect a reply." Seeing the hurt look on the young woman's face, the editor quickly moved to comfort her partner. "Andrea, I'm sorry... I thought you knew." She took the brunette's hands in her own and held them between their bodies. Kissing the fingertips gently, Miranda informed Andrea, "Mother passed away several years ago." She held surprised dark eyes in her sad gaze. "I meant we are going to go 'visit' her, at the cemetery."

"Oh..." Andy made a sound, a mixture of relief and dismay. "I'm sorry Miranda." She pulled the woman closer and wrapped her arms around her love's neck. "I didn't know."

"No," Miranda sighed, "but you should have. I should have been more forthcoming with my family details."

"Why would you even think to?" Andy tried to absolve Miranda of this particular oversight. "How many years has it been?"

"Almost thirty." Miranda sighed, "She died when I was twenty four."

Andy tried to wrap her mind around it. "So you were out on your own, facing your mother's death and I was..."

"Not even a gleam in your daddy's eye." Miranda's lips twitched. "I have been telling you, have I not, that I am quite a bit older than you."

"You still think that matters to me?"

A little. Miranda took a deep breath and let it go, "I know you love me."

Nodding, Andy shifted, dropping her arms to circle the editor's slim waist. "Yes I do." Her arms automatically slid up Miranda's back and Andy pulled away slightly to look into the woman's eyes. "You're tense."

"Mmmm..." the older woman sighed and pressed back into her love's embrace. "My history with my family is... difficult."

With a light, chaste kiss on soft lips, Andy walked the woman in her arms backward until they reached the bed. "In."

Only a slight eyebrow quirk showed any emotion at all on Miranda's face as she settled onto the soft mattress. Andy's finger twirling in the air caused a slight smirk, but Miranda obediently rolled to her stomach.

Andy grinned and straddled the prone woman. She leaned over to whisper in her love's ear. "Just relax for a while." She began to stroke Miranda's back, slowly, pulling a bit of the tension from the older woman with each motion. She didn't want to add to the tension, but Andy spoke quietly. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I do," Miranda swallowed hard and admitted, "And I don't. I don't want you to meet them with any preconceived notions. I don't want to prejudice you against them."

"I already have those, Miranda." Andy continued her massage. "I know you haven't seen or spoken to many of them in years, that must mean something, right?"

"It does." Miranda didn't want to go into it, really didn't, but Andrea did deserve some sort of explanation. "Many of them are angry with me, for one reason or another. It's not pleasant to think or talk about them. It's difficult to talk about."

"Mmmm..." Andy continued her long strokes up and down Miranda's back. She felt a particularly large knot and concentrated on it for a moment. "Chad and I don't fight much, not to the point of not speaking."

"Your brother is sweet." Miranda groaned as delightfully clever fingers eased the tension in her back.

"Miranda," Andy leaned over, pressing the length of her arms along the smaller woman's, tangling their fingers together. "I don't want to talk about my brother right now." Shifting, Andrea rose enough to allow Miranda to turn under her.

Miranda smirked, "What do you want to talk about?" She was sure she had distracted her fiancee from the previous conversation and waited for the expected 'I don't want to talk anymore' comment. Her smirk disappeared when Andy, responded.

"Your family."

"Andrea, I..." Her voice caught in her throat as the young woman nuzzled her ear and whispered.

"Tell me about them." Andy grinned at Miranda's small intake of breath and moved to kiss the soft skin just below the woman's ear. "Please, Miranda..." Dark eyes, closed as the soft skin against her lips convulsed. "Tell me about your family."

Miranda was a formidable woman. Her strength of will was as legendary as her mercurial moods but, under the ministrations of Andrea's lips, that was all worthless. She melted as the delicious weight of her fiancee pressed against her. She knew what the young woman was doing and she wanted to be angry. "Andrea..."

Andy knew what Miranda was going to say. This wasn't usual. Talking during these encounters was normally not even possible, but this time Andy had questions and she wanted Miranda to answer them. She knew it upset the older woman to talk about her family so she tried to put the editor in as relaxed a mood as possible. She traced a line from Miranda's ear down her neck to her collarbone then followed it with her lips. "How many brothers and sisters do you have?"

"Four." Miranda tangled her fingers in the dark hair above her, losing herself in the feel of those soft lips on her. "Oh God.. Four..."

"Your sister, Natalie...." Andy slowly began unbuttoning Miranda's blouse. "...and?"

"Samuel, the oldest..." Miranda arched into the touch as Andrea's hand parted the fabric. Long fingers brushed over sensitive skin and Miranda hissed, curling around the seeking hand. "Andrea..."

"Shhh..." More skin was revealed and the young woman took her time exploring every inch. "Natalie, Samuel...." Raking her teeth lightly over the lithe woman's ribs, Andy smiled against the soft skin there. "...Who else?"

"Daniel... Miranda gasped as Andrea's hot mouth closed around the hardened flesh on her breast. "Daniel and Asher."

Something in the way Miranda said it, even as she panted for breath, caused Andy to pause. "Twins?"

Nodding, Miranda let her head fall back onto the pillow. She didn't want Andy to stop, but she was almost glad for the slight reprieve on the assault to her senses. She did, however, continue to speak about her family. "Yes, twins run in our family." Twins everywhere...

Andy idly ran her fingertips along Miranda's ribs. "Have the girls met them?"

"Yes, when they were younger." Miranda enjoyed the caresses and breathed deeply. She spoke quietly to distract herself from begging Andrea for more. "I brought them for a visit when they were five. We've been to London several times since then, but we rarely see anyone other than Natalie, and not even her for two years or more."

Nodding, Andy smiled and leaned over, kissing the pulse point on Miranda's neck, even as her hand slid the zipper on the woman's skirt down. She continued her questioning, trying to keep the tension down. "Tell me about Natalie."

Miranda writhed under the younger woman's touch. "Andrea..."

"No..." Andy's breath tufted across Miranda's shoulder. "Not me... Natalie... tell me about Natalie."

"My sister..." Miranda swallowed against the sensations Andrea was invoking, trying to hold on to coherent thoughts. "...she didn't want to... but she had to take sides, and she was here..." Andrea's long fingers pushed her skirt down and off.

"Take sides?" Andy slid her fingertips under the remaining lace separating her from Miranda. "Why sides?"

"Samuel, he's very strict with his beliefs. I'm not his favorite person..." Miranda didn't really want to talk about this, or anything. This method of interrogation, although effective, was totally unacceptable. It was annoying that she was nearly naked and Andrea was still fully clothed.

In what one might suspect was a karate move, Miranda reversed their positions and held the younger woman down on the mattress. "He blames me for a lot of things that are not my fault, and some things that are." Straddling slim hips, Miranda worked quickly to remove the brunette's clothing. Andrea's help was appreciated with lips on every inch of skin Miranda could find. Murmuring against the smooth surface, Miranda's hand slid down the young woman's side as she asked a question of her own. "Do you have any more questions, Andrea?"

Arching into the touch, Andrea gasped and tried to focus on the question. "What?" Dark eyes gazed up into the face of love. "No," Andy smiled and pulled the woman down to her, the sensation of their skin sliding together forcing her eyes closed. She felt Miranda's fingers tangling in her hair, forcing her head back.

The older woman's lips claimed the soft skin on Andrea's neck. "Are you sure, Andrea?" Miranda smiled as a low growl rumbled against her lips.

"Miranda?" Andy bit gently on a convenient earlobe and whispered. "You talk far too much."

Laughing a genuine Miranda-laugh at having her own words returned to her at such an opportune moment, the white haired woman proceeded to kiss her fiancee, and more.

No more talking.

Miranda woke gradually, slowly becoming aware of the warm body twined around her. With infinite care she disentangled herself from the exhausted young woman. Normally she would never be able to shift in this manner without waking Andrea, but their activities this afternoon, combined with the brunette's lack of sleep last night had finally taken its toll. Truth be told, normally Miranda wouldn't have moved to begin with, but in this case it was a necessity and as soon as she was clear of the embrace she made her way to the loo. Finished with the immediate need, Miranda walked back to the bed but didn't lay back down. Instead she watched Andrea peacefully sleeping for several long moments. I will never take this for granted. She promised herself. Waking up in each others arms, being allowed to watch her sleep... Miranda was painfully aware that those were privileges she was being granted for some unknown reason. Privileges that could be revoked at any time.

A glance at the clock told her that they'd whiled away most of the afternoon and all too soon it would be time to face her family. If she wanted to go to the cemetery first, she should go soon. She watched Andrea for a moment longer. Loathe to wake the sleeping beauty, Miranda opted to take a shower and prepare for tonight's meeting first. Andrea is so exhausted, best let her sleep a while longer.

The first thing Miranda noticed when she stepped back into the main room was the odd noise, a sort of whimper that she'd never heard before. Then there was a rustle of sheets and the sound again followed by her own name being whispered. It was then that she realized Andrea was calling out in her sleep. Moving quickly to the young woman's side, Miranda was dismayed at the look of sadness on Andrea's face and the intensity to which she held on to the pillow in her arms. Again her name was called and Miranda lay down next to the troubled woman. "Andrea... Shhh..." Wrapping her arms around the sleeper, Miranda spoke quietly but firmly in her ear. "Andrea, wake up, Andrea..." Her name was called again in that awful, lost, voice and Miranda murmured assurances in the brunette's ear. "I'm right here... I'm here..."

Andy woke with a sob and immediately nuzzled into the solid warm form wrapped around her. "Oh God!..."

"Shhh..." Miranda sighed. "Another one?"

"Yeah," Andy cleared her throat, it felt sore, like she'd been screaming. She did recall that much from the nightmare. "Was I screaming?"

"No, but you did call out for me." Miranda was worried now. When her former assistant, Judy, had held a gun on them, Andrea had suffered through bad dreams. They had slacked off somewhat, but since the hostage situation at the charity event they'd become much more frequent. The concerning part was that now they seemed to involve her. What am I doing to worry her so? "Can you tell me about it?" All the advice said talking about the dreams would often put them in perspective.

"I can't." Andy felt the arms around her tense. "I don't mean I won't. I mean, I can't... I can't remember... it's fading now." She felt Miranda relax. "All I have is the vague notion that I was somewhere, and you weren't... you were... Oh, God... you were....gone. I couldn't find you!"

"Shhh... I'm here. I'm right here." Miranda pressed her cheek against the top of Andrea's head. "Shhhh..."

Andy blinked and basked in the warmth of Miranda's arms. She breathed deeply, reassured by the scent of Miranda's freshly shampooed hair and newly applied perfume. "I love you."

"And I love you." Miranda shifted to look the young woman in the eye. "Do you feel up to this gathering tonight? We do not have to go."

"I'm okay. It's already mostly gone." Andy smiled and patted the arms around her. "Just let me go get cleaned up."

Nodding, Miranda reluctantly released the brunette and watched her thoughtfully as she moved slowly to the ensuite facilities.

"I'm so sorry Miranda..." Andy could see the sadness in her partner's eyes as they stood at the gates of the cemetery. "If I hadn't... if we... I mean..."

"Andrea," the older woman faced her companion and put two fingers to the young woman's lips, "Do you truly regret this afternoon?" She smiled as the head under her fingers shook. "Good, because neither do I. This," she removed her hand and gestured to the sign indicating the cemetery's new hours of visitation and a closing time, that they had just missed, "is easily dealt with tomorrow."

"Miranda... I..."

"Meh..." Waving the brunette silent, Miranda smiled. "This just means we have a little time to grab a bite to eat before we go to Natalie's."

"Won't there be food there?" Andy was sure a family gathering like this would include food.

"I'm sure there will be." Miranda wasn't quite able to keep the tone of knowing resignation out of her voice. "and if my sister cooked it, we will do well to eat before we arrive."

Andy laughed. "So you don't share that talent with her?"

Smirking at that, Miranda's eyes twinkled. "Natalie and I have many things in common, the ability to prepare food in an edible manner has never been among them."

Intriguing, Andy was looking forward to meeting this woman that Miranda fully admitted to having things in common with, but she was still uncertain. "Are you sure it will be okay for me to be there?" Causing any more problems between Miranda and her family was the last thing Andy wanted to do.

"Darling," the back of Miranda's hand caressed Andrea's cheek gently. "You do not have to go if you don't want to, but this is not like our meeting with your family."

"It's not?" Andy didn't understand that statement, it felt even more tense to her.

"No," tangling her elegant fingers in Andrea's hair, Miranda pulled the young woman down so that their foreheads touched. "I am not seeking approval from them, their opinion will not effect me."

"You think if my family had..." Andy's question was stopped by Miranda's warm lips on her own for a long moment.

"No." Blue eyes sparkled past the white lock of hair. "I know you love me and that will not change, but your father's rejection hurt you." Thinking about the man's reaction to the daughter he claimed to love always angered Miranda. Realizing it wasn't fair to Andrea not to give her a heads up, Miranda spoke softly. "I already know that Samuel's reaction to our relationship will be on the verge of hostile, because that is how he is, that is how he has always been. Daniel will be fine, although he won't show it overtly because he will wish to maintain a semi-amicable relationship with Samuel. Natalie, well, once she meets you I have the feeling she will understand...and she's not so thrilled with Samuel as of late."

The information made Andy feel much better, knowing what Miranda expected was at least something. Much better than going into the situation blind. Samuel, the oldest brother seemed to be a major stumbling block for them, then she realized that one name had not been mentioned. "And your other brother? Asher?"

Miranda bit her upper lip and grinned. "Asher will adore you." With another quick kiss, Miranda led Andrea by the hand back to the waiting car. She looked at her watch and sighed. "On the other hand, there probably isn't time to stop. Natalie lives farther away now."

"Maybe she's gotten better at cooking?" Andy tried to be a little positive about the gathering.

"Mmmm... unlikely, but possible I suppose." Miranda guided the younger woman into the car and slid in next to her. She gave the driver the address and leaned back against the seat. "Perhaps some of the others will have brought dishes too."

"Um... others?"

"Of course, my brother's wives. I haven't spent much time around them at all, but I doubt Samuel would marry anyone who couldn't cook, and the last time I saw Daniel he was putting on some weight so either she's a good cook, or they go out too often." Miranda's eyes twinkled at the memory of teasing Daniel about his paunch the last time she'd seen him.

"And Asher?" Andy wondered why Miranda always left him out when she described her family. He seemed to be the one she would want to talk about most.

"Asher..." Pressing her lips together, Miranda nodded. "Asher hasn't had a long term relationship in his life." She had often worried about that, wishing her brother would find someone, but now she realized that if he was happy, then that was enough.

"Can we call the girls?" Andy missed the twins, especially since their shopping excursion. Miranda's answer was disappointing.

"Not right now." The editor shook her head. "They are scheduled to have lunch with their grandmother today. I don't want to disrupt that. We can ring them later when we get back to the hotel."

Nodding Andy agreed, she only knew James' mother by reputation, but that was enough. Disrupting the lunch would be a bad idea. There was someone else that Miranda could call though, to use this time in the car wisely. "You could call Runway." She suggested, "To make sure everything is going well."

The phone was immediately in Miranda's hand but she hesitated. "You sure you won't mind?"

"It's your job, Miranda! Of course I don't mind!' Leaning over she kissed the woman quickly and laughed. "Tell Em I said Hi."

Andy watched the scenery pass as she barely paid attention to Miranda's soft voice speaking into her phone. Every passing light brought them closer to Miranda's family and Andy's heart began to pound faster. Miranda's family...god... She realized that Miranda had finished her call and was now watching her intently. Andy tried to act casual. "Everything okay at Runway?"

"No one is dead," Miranda replied. "That, however, may change upon my return."

"Uh oh," Andy's eyes almost twinkled at Miranda's obvious attempt to cheer her up. "What did Emily do now?"

"Pffft... Emily is safe, for now," the editor sighed dramatically. "Apparently the Art department have all decided since I am not there they don't have to be either."

"Ohhhh..." Andy interpreted the Miranda-speak, "Nigel didn't answer his phone?"

"After my brief conversation with Emily she transferred my call and..." She just couldn't say it.

Andy almost laughed. "It went to voice mail." She saw Miranda's eyes close at the mere thought of her voice stored somewhere in the phone system of Elias-Clarke. "Did you leave a message?" Miranda's head jerked once in an approximation of a nod, Andy licked her lips, trying not to smile. "What did you say?"

"Call me."

Now Andy did laugh, "Well then it's going to be a while before he gets back to you, Boss..." She grinned at Miranda's annoyed look. "Someone is going to have to revive him first. I'm sure he's gonna be kissing floor when he hears that."

"Oh, don't be ridiculous, Andrea. I'm not that scary!" Miranda scoffed. "At least, not to Nigel." A wicked grin crossed her face. "Now if Emily were to receive a message like that..."

"Miranda!" Shifting on the seat, Andy moved closer to the older woman. "Be nice."

"Hmmm..." Wrapping her arms around the brunette, Miranda sighed. "Nice might not be the way to go tonight," she kissed Andrea's temple lightly. "I anticipate Samuel will be quite rude to you. He's a very...blunt, person." Miranda reminded the young woman. "If you ever feel that you want to leave, just let me know and we will go. Promise me you'll tell me if you want to go."

"I promise." Andy basked in the love that poured off the woman whenever they were together. Being in her arms like this was incredibly comfortable and Andy berated herself for all the time she'd wasted after Paris. With the most minimal movement, Andy kissed Miranda's neck as she closed her eyes and murmured. "I love you." A hand was placed on her cheek, a thumb stroked her cheekbone and the voice she would never tire of hearing responded softly.

"I love you too."


Part 13

Faster than she would have liked, Andy felt the car slowing and Miranda's arms reluctantly releasing their hold around her. "We here?"

"Mmmm..." Hard blue eyes looked out the window at the row of houses, knowing the blue one on the end held nearly the sum total of her blood relatives. "You ready?"

"Not really," Andy admitted. "But let's go."

Miranda reminded her. "We can leave at any time..."

"I know." Andy smiled as they exited the car, shopping bags filled with presents in hand. "I'm glad to get the chance to meet them."

Nodding, Miranda told the driver that he could leave for a while to get something to eat. "Be back in an hour and wait for us out here."

The driver nodded and left them standing on the doorstep with the presents at their feet. Andy fidgeted and adjusted her dress. "How do I look?"

Miranda was shocked and she thought back to when they were preparing to leave the hotel earlier. "I'm sorry, Darling... did I not tell you how gorgeous you look before we left?" She indicated the knee length black dress. "Dolce has always suited you."

Even if I didn't know how to spell Gabbana at first. Andy nodded, "Thank you. Yeah, I think you told me before we left, but..." she bit her bottom lip lightly, "I'm kind of nervous."

"Don't be nervous, they are just a group of people who used to know me a long time ago." She studied the young woman's face carefully. "You know me much better than they do. Better than anyone really."

Dark eyes widened. "I do?" Andy had always thought so, but this was the first time Miranda had ever acknowledged it.

"Mmmm..." Miranda took a deep breath and spoke quietly. "They are going to call me Miriam." She smiled as Andy gasped, "and I will respond to it, because that is who I am, to them. That is who they know me as... the person I was back then. You know me as the person I am now. Natalie has almost gotten used to calling me Miranda, though, she may revert back in the presence of the others and you, of course may call me anything you wish."

"Snugglemuffins?" Andy laughed softly at the immediate outrage in Miranda's eyes. "Don't worry... I rarely ever call you anything except Miranda and you know it."

Rolling her eyes at that, Miranda actually smiled, which she knew was Andrea's intention with that ridiculous pet name. With another deep inhalation, Miranda slowly let the air from her lungs out and reached up, knocking on the door, firmly, but not loudly.

A young blonde woman, probably in her mid-twenties, opened the door a little to peek out. Her eyes went wide when she saw Miranda. "Aunt Miriam!" Throwing the door open wide, Dinah wrapped her arms around the older woman. "Mum said you were going to be here, but... wow!"

"Hello, Dinah." The white-haired woman returned the hug.

Pulling away, the blonde looked at Miranda closely and shook her head. "Wild..."

Miranda grinned, knowing why Dinah was fascinated with her presence and appearance. A slight twinkle appeared in the editor's eye. "May we come in?"

"Oh! Of course..." Dinah stepped back into the house holding the door for them to enter. She smiled up at Andy as the tall, to her, brunette brushed past and she indicated the bags. "Need help?"

"This one is actually for you." Andy waggled the bag in her right hand. "Well, the baby anyway."

Before Dinah could respond to that, Miranda cut in. "Where is your mother?"

"Mum's in the living room, with the kids." The blonde gestured to a doorway.

They could all hear several children laughing. Miranda kept quiet but watched as Andrea's eyes lit up at the sound and the brunette spoke. "Oh, we brought sweets for the other children too!"

"Really?" Dinah laughed. "How lovely." They entered the small room and were immediately overwhelmed by silence. All sound stopped as every occupant of the room turned to look at the newcomers. Andy moved slightly closer to Miranda, who managed to look bored and intense at the same time.

Dinah broke the silence, "Where's Mum?"

A very kind looking older woman with short dark hair and a lilting voice looked up from the baby in her arms and smiled. "She went into the kitchen for a drink." Deep brown eyes met Andy's, studiously avoiding Miranda. "Hello."

Miranda blinked and began to speak. "Hello, everyone." She wrapped her arm around Andrea's waist and introduced her. "This is Andrea Sachs, my...fiancee. Andrea, this is," Miranda indicated each person as she introduced her siblings in turn.

Andy tried very hard to remember each of their names, hoping she didn't mix up the twins. They each nodded, waved, or even smiled when their name was called, except for Samuel, he scowled. She realized that one name was missing and then Miranda's voice broke through her concentration.

"Ah, and this, is my sister... Natalie."

Andy turned to look at the woman entering the room and gasped, dropping the sacks she held to bring her hands to her mouth. Oh my God! Wide brown eyes darted from the woman beside her to the woman now standing in the doorway holding a baby. "You're... uh..."

"I told you, Andrea." Miranda murmured as Natalie walked closer to them. "Twins run in our family."

"How are you, little sister?" Natalie grinned as Miranda's eye twitched at the endearment. She held up the baby in her arms. "See one of the newest?"

Andy blinked. She looked at the woman who'd greeted them and the baby in her arms. Smiling, she spoke softly, almost to herself. "Twins everywhere." Now she suspected that Miranda had known Dinah had given birth to twins. They'd bought multiples of everything in even numbers. A glance at loving blue eyes confirmed her suspicion, they were much too full of mischief to believe anything else.

It was Miranda's twin that was the biggest shock though. Good grief, if Emily knew there was another one, Serena wouldn't stand a chance!

There wasn't another one, of course, there was only one Miranda Priestly. As much as Natalie looked like Miranda, there were obvious differences. Both women had white hair, but Natalie's was much longer and pulled back into a bun, not styled like Miranda's always was. Natalie also carried herself differently, partially due to the difference in their sizes. Natalie was by no stretch of the imagination fat, but she was average size and that was quite a bit larger than Miranda. Miranda also carried herself with a much more regal quality and Andy knew that had to do with the difference in clothing they wore. She'd seen it many times in the models at Runway, when they were wearing the fashion clothing they were much, prouder, than when they were wearing regular street clothing. A soft, masculine version of Miranda's voice pulled Andy out of her thoughts.

"Here, let me take those."

Looking up into laughing blue eyes, not Miranda-blue but very close, Andy watched him take the gifts from the floor at her feet. "Thank you..." She hesitated for a moment before calling the man by name, "...Asher." She heard a very quiet 'I told you' whisper from Miranda's direction. She smiled at the man and indicated the bags in turn. "That one is for Dinah, for the babies... and that one has candies for the children."

"What kind of candy?" Samuel narrowed his eyes at the bag as if it contained poison.

"Who cares?" Asher rolled his eyes. "It's candy! You can't accept a nice gesture?"

"Feh!" Samuel stalked out of the room. He was mumbling to himself as he left but they all heard one word quite clearly. 'shiksa'

Miranda stiffened and took one step to follow her brother when Andrea's hand on her arm stopped her.

"Let him go." Andy smiled at Miranda's furious expression. "This isn't America, but he's entitled to his opinion."

"Not when he calls you that!"

"Yes, even when he calls me, that." Andy ran a soothing hand up and down Miranda's arm. "Give him some time."

"You are far too forgiving." Miranda leaned into Andrea, touching foreheads.

"Nah," Andy grinned, "I just don't want you to get in a big blowup before I get to hold the babies." Turning to look at Dinah, she asked. "May I?"

The short blonde chuckled. "Of course."

"Um..." Andy glanced around, "Where is your restroom. I need to wash my hands."

"I'll show her." The dark haired woman rose from her seat and handed the baby in her arms to Dinah. Linking her arm with Andy's, she introduced herself, "I'm Josie, Daniel's wife." Josie winked at both newcomers and her husband before patting Andy's arm, "Come with me, luv, we shiksa's have to stick together."

Miranda took a deep breath and watched Andrea walk out of the room with her sister-in-law. She was glad there was at least one person that would support Andrea here. Her eyes fell on her brother, Asher who was also watching them go. Okay two.

"Come on in, Mir..anda." Natalie urged her sister further into the room, pushing her onto the couch and settling next to her. "Sit, visit. Are you hungry?" Natalie jumped up, "I'll make you a plate."

" But I'm not..." Miranda's voice trailed off as Natalie was out of the room before she finished her thought. Even hungry... Natalie was going to bring her a plate of food... a plate, of food! A deep chuckle pulled her out of her horror.

"Don't be that way Miriam." Daniel sat, hesitantly next to her. "She's actually gotten somewhat better these last few years."

Miranda's lips curled in a tiny smile. "It would be difficult to imagine her being any worse."

Asher flopped down on the other side of his sister and laughed. "That's the truth." He glanced at his brother and shifted closer to their sister. "It's nice to see you, Miriam." He threw caution to the wind and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "We've missed you around here."

With a sigh, Miranda leaned into the embrace, resting her head against the man's. She patted the arms around her comfortingly. "We both know that's not entirely true."

"It is true Miriam." Daniel slid closer and sandwiched her between him and his brother. "We've missed you."

Miranda sniffed half to show her disbelief in the statement, half to keep the tears from starting. Her nostrils flared and she took a deep breath. No....It can't be...

"So you have caught the heart of Miriam, eh?" Josie smiled at the newcomer and patted Andy's arm. "Good for you."

"Thanks." Andy tried to control her pounding heart. She did not want to be the cause of any family argument. The only thing that comforted her was that Miranda had said Samuel wouldn't be happy about her presence, so she'd been expecting the attitude.

"You, um... are wrong though." Josie leaned against the wall as Andy washed her hands. "No matter how much time you give Samuel, he won't change his mind."

Andy looked into the mirror at the woman's reflection. "Really?"

"Mmmm..." Josie shrugged. "I've been married to Daniel for twenty years, we dated for five before that, and I'm always still 'shiksa' to Sam." Josie grinned. "And he hates it when you call him Sam, by the way."

Andy laughed. "I'll remember that." Drying her hands, Andy asked. "Where are you from?"

Josie smiled. "What do you mean?"

"Your accent." Andy raised her eyebrows, "You aren't from England..."

Josie laughed. "I've lived in this country for thirty years, but no, I grew up in Chicago."

Laughing at that, Andy nodded. "Thought so." She replaced the hand towel and pulled a small bottle of antibacterial gel from her purse. She saw the quizzical look on Josie's face and just shrugged. "Can't be too careful around babies, right?" She smeared the goop on her hands as she continued their conversation. "I'm originally from Ohio, but I went to school in Chicago."

"Oh!" Josie again linked their arms as they walked back to the living room. "Have you been back since?"

"No, actually, not since I graduated."

"Ah... that's a shame," sighing at the memory, Josie's voice became wistful. "Sometimes I dream about Chicago pizza." She looked around to make sure they weren't being overheard and whispered. "Giordano's"

Andy laughed, "I like them, practically lived on it in college, but New York has some pretty good pizza too." Not that I eat it very often. They'd reached the living room and Andy smiled at Miranda who was looking almost uncomfortable sitting between her two brothers. She wondered if she should go intervene but then she was sitting on a small sofa and the sweetest little baby was being placed in her arms.

Before Miranda could ask about the aroma, Andrea returned, laughing, with Josie. Settling on the small loveseat, the young brunette smiled as Dinah handed her one of the babies. Miranda's heart caught in her throat as she watched the wistful look pass over Andrea's features. There was only one explanation that she could think of for that expression, Andrea wants children of her own. It was a heartbreaking thought. Oh my love, how will we deal with this one? It was heartbreaking, because Miranda did not want any more children. She was done with that part of her life. But Andrea is just beginning it. Asher's voice in her ear pulled her out of her thoughts.

"She's very beautiful."

"Yes," Miranda never took her eyes off of Andrea and the baby. She didn't see Natalie returning until the woman blocked her view. Blinking, Miranda looked up at her sister. "Yes?"

"C'mon, I have a plate on the table for you and your..."

"Fiancee," Miranda supplied and watched the little nod Natalie gave at the term.

"Well, there's a plate for each of you."

"I tried to tell you before. I'm not really very hungry." Miranda sighed at Natalie's narrowed eyes but this time she had a perfect excuse. "Jet lag, Natalie. It plays havoc with my meal schedule."

"But you have to eat something!" Daniel was appalled that Miriam wasn't going to eat. She was much too thin as it was, comparing his little sisters' appearances he would have said Miriam was half the size of Natalie.

"Yes," Asher agreed, his eyes twinkling. "You wouldn't want to insult Tante."

Miranda's heart did a double thump. Tante is here? No. She would have already greeted me...wouldn't she? But that aroma, it was Tante's cooking for sure. The last time she and Natalie spoke, Tante Louise was living with her daughter and son-in-law in Poland. "Where is she?"

"She had an errand to run." Natalie licked her lips. "She'll be here soon."

" Well, Andrea and I can't stay too long..." Miranda began to panic. I didn't know she was going to be here! She wanted to run. Samuel was bad enough, but she certainly didn't want to have a confrontation with Tante Louise. But she didn't even know if that would happen or not. Miranda sighed at the inevitability of the situation. She'd known exactly how her siblings would react, but Tante...her most favorite aunt, Miranda had no idea how the woman would respond to her new relationship and one thing on this Earth she never, ever, wanted to see was disappointment, or revulsion, on her Tante's face.

Andy stroked the baby's tiny cheek with her fingertip, amazed at the softness. "You're a cutie," she whispered, "Just like your Auntie Miranda." Glancing up at Miranda, her eyes narrowed at the situation. Miranda was surrounded by her siblings and the look on her face was not reassuring at all. She turned back to the baby. "Gotta go, little one." Handing the infant to Dinah, Andy stood and rubbed another blob of antibacterial goop over her hands as she moved over to where Miranda was sitting.

"Everything okay?"

Miranda looked up into Andrea's dark eyes and nodded. "Natalie informs me that there is food in the kitchen for us."

"Great." Andy's winked. "I'm starving." She held out her hand for Miranda. "Shall we?"

Reaching out, Miranda barely touched the hand as she rose from the couch, but once standing held it firmly. "Of course, I can't let you starve now, can I?"

As they walked, Andy leaned down and whispered. "Are you okay?"

"Of course, Andrea. I'm perfectly fine."

"Uh huh..." As they walked into the kitchen, Andy spotted the backdoor and tugged Miranda toward it. She glanced at Natalie and smiled, "We'll be right back."

Pulling Miranda outside onto the little back stoop, Andy wrapped her arms around the tense woman. "What's wrong?" She worried, "Did I do something wrong?"

"No!" Miranda shook her head and closed her eyes as she took a calming breath. "No, my darling." Daring to look into the depths of the dark eyes she loved, Miranda smiled and reached up to caress Andrea's cheek with the backs of her curled fingers. "You did nothing wrong."

"So?" Andy watched Miranda's lips press together and sighed. "Please, Miranda, let me help you."

"Yes," The male voice sneered from the shadows, "Miranda... let her help you..."

"Samuel," Miranda's voice was tired, "We're having a private conversation, if you don't mind."

"Well I do mind!" He was angry. "Why do you insist on this... this! How can you embarrass yourself in such a way? She's young enough to be your child! You are being very foolish to think that she could ever..."

"Hey!" Andy's eyes flashed anger now. "You can just stop right there. You don't know anything about me, or what I feel for Miranda..." She looked at his angry stance and sighed. "I know that you're her brother and you only want the best for her, but I love her, and she loves me.... whether you like it or not. Loving someone isn't foolish."

Samuel was about to respond to that when a new voice flowed from the darkness.

"Nicely put, young woman."

They all looked toward the voice and watched as a small figure, carrying two sacks, emerged from the lengthening shadows. "Samuel," she handed the sacks to the man, "Take these inside to Natalie." She spoke firmly at his hesitation. "It's vegetables for the soup tomorrow."

"Yes, Tante." Samuel glared at them as he complied with the old woman's instructions. Walking around the house to go in the front door, instead of going past Andy and Miranda to get to the kitchen.

"Now," she clapped her hands together in front of her, "Come here, Miriam. Give me a hug."

Miranda walked down the few steps they were standing on and found herself enveloped in very familiar arms. "I've missed you, Tante."

"Oh, sure," the old woman grinned as she teased, "you missed me so much you've called five times in thirty years?"

"I've called more than that." Miranda halfway defended herself, not too vehemently though, she knew Tante was right and she hadn't kept in touch nearly as much as she should have. "Natalie said you were living with your daughter and her husband..."

"His company transferred him back to London." Louise wrapped her arm around Miranda's waist and turned toward the young woman watching them. "Are you going to introduce me to your...friend?"

Miranda walked with the smaller woman to stand in front of Andrea. "She's more than my friend, Tante." Miranda took a deep breath, "This is Andrea Sachs. She's," Miranda smiled at Andrea and her voice softened, "she's my, bashert." Tensing, she waited for the woman's reaction.

"Well, she's certainly a sheyna meydll." Louise smiled at the young woman.

"She's more than 'a beautiful girl', Tante." Miranda also smiled at Andrea. "She's an amazing woman, intelligent, loving..."

"Yes...yes... I understand... you love her." Louise brushed the backs of her fingers against Miranda's cheek and looked into her niece's eyes for a long moment then smiled. "You finally found the one you were destined for... Mazel Tov."

"Thank you, Tante." Miranda's eyes closed and she wrapped the older woman up in a hug. "Thank you so much."

Andy watched the hug, heard the words, and realized what had been bothering Miranda. She didn't know if Tante would approve or not... and it scared her. Andy thought she could count the people Miranda would feel that way about on one hand. She hadn't even been worried about her sibling's reactions, but this woman... Andy smiled as Miranda released the smaller woman. "I um... think our food is getting cold." She glanced at Miranda then offered her arm to the older woman. "Shall we go inside and nosh?"

Laughing at that, Louise grasped the arm firmly and patted Andy's belly. "I think that's a good idea, you look as if you need it. What do you feed her, Miriam?" Louise looked over at her youngest-by-minutes niece then narrowed her eyes. "The same thing you eat by the looks of it." She gestured to the door. "Inside, both of you!"

"Yes, Ma'am." Andy and Miranda chorused.

They were all laughing as they entered the kitchen and everyone looked up at the sound. A tension that they hadn't really known was there, lifted as they all realized Tante Louise approved of this girl, of...this.

They all filled their plates and things were fairly quiet as they ate. The children had been sent outside with their food so there was more room for the adults to sit in the kitchen and living room. Even Samuel and his wife ate, but they sat apart and ate from Tupperware containers they brought from their home. Oddly, Andy couldn't recall even seeing the wife before this moment. Andy glanced around at the others when she noticed that, but only Josie met her eye and the woman winked, so Andy guessed it was just the way Samuel was.

Miranda had to admit that even the dishes Natalie made were tolerable. She pointed to one of the selections on Andrea's plate, one that the young woman hadn't touched yet. "You should try that, it's Tante's specialty."

Andy dutifully gathered a bite on her fork and tasted the dish, her eyes opening wide. "Yum."

"Told you." Miranda took the last bite of her portion and then to Andrea's surprise she was sure, went to serve herself another.

Seconds... Miranda is eating seconds... Andy blinked, amazing. But not really, the brunette smiled as Miranda sat back down next to her, she looked very relaxed, more so than Andy had seen the editor in a long time, even Harrod's earlier. "They're all coming to the wedding aren't they?"

With a deep breath, Miranda nodded. "They will all get invitations, certainly." She wondered why Andrea was even asking, "Why?"

"Because, Miranda..." Andy glanced at the small older woman sitting across the table from her. "Gram Sachs and Tante Louise..." She watched as Miranda's eyes went wider than she'd ever seen, and grinned. "...exactly. They've got to meet."


Part 14

After they all finished eating, the adults gathered in the living room and the kids all went upstairs to the guest bedroom, where the video game system was set up. Only the babies remained downstairs, once again claimed by Josie and Andy.

Miranda found herself surrounded by her siblings again.

"How long can you stay, Miriam?" Daniel had missed his sister terribly. She hadn't been in the country for any length of time for the last thirty years, but even for ten years before that she'd been off on her own. He knew in his heart this was his little sister, but she was also almost a stranger. He wanted to get to know this person, get to know his sister again.

"Andrea and I will be leaving Wednesday morning." She smiled and patted his hand. "I must return to work, and so must Andrea."

"I thought you were the big boss there." Samuel spoke with the impression of disbelief. "You can't take a few days to visit your family?"

"She is."

All eyes turned toward Andy, who spoke to the baby in her arms, in baby talk, but loudly enough for them all to hear. "Yes, Miranda is the big boss at Runway, yes she is... and she's taking a few days off just to visit her family... isn't that great? Yes..."

"Don't speak to me as if I were a child!" How dare this...girl... His angry thoughts were stopped cold at Tante's voice.

"Then stop acting like one." The older woman sighed at her nephew's attitude. "Miriam can't just take off work whenever she wants, no one can do that!"

Andy saw a bit of pink dusting Miranda's cheeks, and Andy knew why. Yes she can. Andy now realized that none of Miranda's family really understood how wealthy or powerful Miranda actually was. Miranda had gone to great lengths to shelter her family from the celebrity life she led. No one knew anything about Miranda's family, no one ever mentioned them in articles or published pictures of them. Miranda always kept her private life, private.

Turning her attention back to the child in her arms, Andy smiled at the baby and laughed when the little girl made a goofy face. A distinctive scent reached her nose. "Whoops..." Searching the room, Andy found Dinah and held up the child. "I think she needs... attention...of the diaper variety."

Josie chuckled and whispered, "Coward."

Shaking her head, Andy passed the child to her mother and winked, whispering to Josie. "The best thing about other people's kids is that you can play with them then give them back for the icky parts." She patted the woman's thigh as she rose from her seat and stretched. "Plus I'm beginning to get sleepy, which is weird because it's like, two in the afternoon at home." and I just had a nap.

"Travel can play havoc with your internal clock, darling." Miranda suggested. "Should we return to the hotel?"

"Oh... so soon?" Asher mirrored his brother's stricken look.

"It's been quite a long day."

"Will we see you tomorrow?" Natalie too had been missing her sister. She at least had talked to Miranda occasionally on the phone but seeing her in person was actually quite nice.

"I assumed you would all be at work." Miranda also stood. "I had planned to take Andrea around London, sightseeing."

"Maybe," Andy spoke up as she moved to stand beside Miranda, "maybe we could meet for lunch somewhere?"

"Mmmm..." Miranda knew most people didn't have very long for lunch where they worked. "Perhaps dinner?"

Tante Louise stood and motioned for Miranda to sit. "You all discuss it." She linked her arm with Andy's. "We'll go make a nice cup of tea before you go."

Andy looked back over her shoulder and was surprised as Miranda sat back down, shrugging in resignation. Tante's will was apparently law in this family. Allowing herself to be led into the kitchen, Andy stood as Tante began to prepare the drink by filling a kettle with water and putting it on the stove. Andy felt it was too quiet and broke the silence. "Miranda very rarely has tea with me, she prefers coffee."

The older woman scoffed. "Nonsense, she loves tea." Turning to face the young woman, Louise gestured for her to sit at the table. "I'm sure she just can't get a properly made cuppa anywhere."

"Properly made?" Andy smiled. It's just tea...

Nodding, the woman snorted. "You probably think running lukewarm water over a teabag is how you do it." She shook her head at the expression on Andrea's face and sighed. "Watch me... to learn the proper way."

Andy watched as the woman swirled a bit of boiling water from the kettle around the teapot, then dumped that water. She watched as scoops of loose tea were measured into the warmed teapot. The water in the kettle, that had been reboiled, was poured in. The teapot and several cups were placed on a tray that she was instructed to carry into the living room. She was very careful with it because she knew the water in the teapot was boiling or very near it.

When they got to the living room, Andy set the tray down on the coffee table and Tante poured a cup of tea immediately for Miranda. "Here you are Miriam, a properly prepared cuppa."

Miranda took the cup and saucer. "Thank you, Tante," she sipped the liquid, immediately her eyes closed in a rapturous look that Andy had seen quite often, but very few others that she was aware of had been privy to. My god, that's nearly boiling, how can she stand it? Suddenly the editor's preference for center-of-the-sun-hot coffee wasn't so outrageous.

"Try it, Andrea," Miranda smiled. "See what a real cup of tea tastes like."

"Do you take sugar, luv?" Natalie asked and at Andy's nod scooped sugar into two cups, pouring for each of them.

"Thank you," Andy accepted the cup Natalie handed her and looked at the light brown liquid dubiously, imagining she could actually see the bubbles still present. "I don't think I can drink it this hot."

"Mmmm..." Natalie took a sip of hers and nodded. "Good stuff."

"Let it cool for a bit, mate." Asher poured himself a cup. "The hot thing isn't for everyone."

Josie poured herself a cup and nodded as she set it aside to cool. "I've never gotten used to it."

"So what did you decide about tomorrow?" Tante Louise raised her own cup to her lips, waiting for the response.

"We decided on dinner, but not where." Daniel scratched his chin, thinking.

"Um..." Andy spoke quietly. "I know I haven't seen much of the city yet, but, today when we were at Harrod's there was an Italian place across the street that smelled delicious."

"Signor Sassi," Asher brightened. "They have great food!"

"Perfect," Miranda smiled at Andrea, "and it's not far from the hotel." She watched the brunette take out her iPhone and begin to search for something online.

"Where are you staying?" Natalie had wondered that earlier.

Miranda answered coolly, "The Milestone."

"In Kensington?!" Asher grinned wider. "Brilliant." They all had good jobs and made decent wages, but of them all, although Samuel would argue against it, Asher thought Miriam had amassed the greater fortune. He'd always said she would, but now, after meeting Andrea, he was sure his sister had done the best out of all of them, in the game of life.

Miranda rolled her eyes. Sometimes she thought her brothers didn't act their ages, at least, Asher didn't. "It's a very nice hotel."

"It is beautiful." Andy continued her online business but glanced up and chuckled at Asher's expression. "And it's right across the street from Hyde Park, so I get to run in the morning."

He blinked. "You run?" His mouth fell open at the thought of this young woman, chest heaving, sweat beading...

"Mmmm... Andrea sticks to a healthy workout routine." Miranda lifted her hand and four fingers under Asher's chin closed the man's mouth gently. "Control yourself, Asher..." Patting his cheek, Miranda chuckled and leaned in to whisper in the man's ear. "Mine."

Andy's thumb hovered over a button on her phone and met Miranda's eyes. "Okay, dinner reservations for ten at Signor Sassi, tomorrow night at seven?" Everyone seemed okay with that and when Miranda nodded, Andy pushed the confirm button. "Done."

"Excellent." Miranda took a deep breath, loving Andrea's efficiency, loving Andrea. "We should probably be going." As she stood, her brothers stood as well. Daniel was the first to hug her.

"I'll see you tomorrow night." He smiled and didn't hide the tear in his eye.

"Me too." Asher enveloped her in a hug as well. "It's so good to see you again."

Daniel had moved to Andrea and quickly hugged her goodbye as well, so Asher also wrapped the young woman in a friendly hug.

Miranda said her goodbyes to Natalie and cleared her throat as Asher continued his hold on Andrea far longer than necessary. Her voice was low, warning. "Asher..."

He tensed and released Andy slowly, grinning as he did. "Sorry."

Andy laughed and reached up, touching his cheek with her fingertips, then leaned in and kissed his other cheek lightly. "Just don't let it happen again." She whispered. "She'll kick your a...uh... tukhus."

His eyes widened and he looked over at Miranda. Swallowing hard at the expression on his sister's face, Asher nodded. "Right."

Tante Louise stood back until everyone was finished. She approached Andrea first. "It was very nice to meet you, young woman."

"Thank you." Andy bent at the waist and wrapped her arms around the older woman's shoulders. "I'm so happy to meet you as well."

Nodding, Tante turned to face her wayward niece. "Miriam, I'm glad you were here."

"Me too, Tante." Miranda hugged the woman tightly. "I've missed you."

"Until tomorrow then." Louise released her hold and stepped back. "Good night."

The door closed behind them as they walked, arm in arm to the waiting car. "They're nice people, Miranda," Andy leaned into the older woman, "I like them."

"They like you too," Miranda growled, "Especially Asher."

Andy laughed, "He's a sweetheart."

"He's impossible!" Miranda helped Andrea into the car and slid in next to her. "He can't possibly think..." Suddenly Miranda's words were stopped by Andrea's warm lips pressing against her own.

"I've wanted to do that all evening." Andy sighed and moved back in, recapturing Miranda's incredible mouth.

"Mmm..." Pulling away from the kiss, Miranda rested her forehead against Andrea's, "Ich hob deer leib."

Andy whispered back. "I love you too."

"You understood that?" Miranda's eyes accused Andrea of keeping secrets from her, until the young woman shook her head.

"No, but I always know when you're telling me you love me." Andy smiled softly. "I can hear it in your voice, see it in your eyes." She tucked the older woman's head against her shoulder. "You were scared." Andy smiled as brief tension passed through Miranda. "Why didn't you just tell me?"

"I don't know." Miranda sighed. "It took me by surprise. Natalie didn't tell me that Tante was back in the country. She hasn't been here for years."

Andy nodded and repeated. "You were scared." Draping her arm over the older woman's shoulder, Andy squeezed slightly.

Miranda snuggled into the embrace, resting her head on Andrea's shoulder. "Imagine if Pava had not approved of us."

"But..." She did, I knew she would.

"Just imagine if you didn't know your Gram would approve, if you thought that when she found out she would look at you and be... repulsed, or worse, disappointed." Miranda took a deep breath. "I didn't know how Tante would react... I, wasn't... sure."

"She means a lot to you." Andy kissed Miranda's temple. "I'm glad she liked me."

"I was closer to her than I was to Mother." Miranda admitted, "and I'm extremely relieved that she was so accepting."

Closer than her mother? Good grief, and all I saw was a bit of tension. I'd have been a basket case and been babbling my head off from nervous energy. Miranda was completely the opposite of that though, when she got nervous or scared, she barely spoke at all. She can't do that for long though, it builds up and breaks out at the wrong times. Andy knew that tendency had a lot to do with her fiancee's 'Dragon Lady' persona... in the beginning, when she was new to Runway, new to New York, new to America, Miranda was probably scared quite a bit, about a lot of things. The thought of Runway made her gasp.

"What is it, Darling?" Miranda pulled away from their embrace slightly to look up into Andrea's face. She blinked at the horrified expression she found. "What?"

In a very quiet, almost disbelieving voice, Andy whispered. "Nigel never called you back."

"Mmmm..." Miranda put her head back down. "I am aware."


"I'm sure if anything critical was happening he would either call and inform me, or be busy dealing with it. Either way, I'll call again when we reach the hotel."

Okay, that's weird. Andy could barely believe Miranda was being so calm about it. No one ignored her, especially no one at Runway, not even Nigel. "Are you okay?"

"Of course, I'm fine." Miranda lifted one of Andrea's hands, pressing it against her own forehead. "See, no fever."

"Miranda," Andy exhaled slowly, "you know what I mean."

"Yes, I know." Miranda shifted and sat up. She found her phone and dialed quickly. She knew Andrea thought she was calling Nigel, which is why she winked at the young woman when the connection was made and she greeted the person on the other end of the call. "Hello, Bobbsey! How was lunch with you grandmother?"

Andy laughed at Miranda's duplicity, but her message was clear. This trip was for family, Runway was second.

Andy looked at the woman on the phone and literally felt her heart swelling with love. It was incredible and the reality of their relationship reached out and grabbed her. It happened every once in a while, the whole situation took on a surreal quality for a moment and she had a hard time believing it, believing that Miranda Priestly, the Miranda Priestly loved her, and allowed Andy to love her back. She loved it when it happened though, because it was like the first time she realized it was real all over again.

She's gonna marry me.

Andy had spoken to the girls quickly, telling them how great things were here and how much she loved them and missed them then returned the phone to Miranda.

Miranda was still on the phone with the twins when the car stopped in front of the hotel. Andy sighed as she spotted a small gaggle of people with cameras around their necks. "It begins", she murmured and gestured out the window.

Following the motion, Miranda sighed, "Ah well, it took them longer than I thought it would." She spoke into the phone. "I have to go, Bobbsey, we're at the hotel." She smiled into the phone. "I love you too, my darlings..." She disconnected the call and took a deep breath. "Ready?"

Andy nodded. The car door opened and the horde descended on them. They made it through the flashes, no questions though. These were not reporters, they were true paparazzi. All these people cared about was getting the picture, it was up to whoever bought them to put the story to them.

Much to their amazement the photographers didn't follow them inside the building. When they reached the privacy of their room, Andy sighed. "Well that was fun." Andy twisted her arm to reach the zipper on her dress. "I hope they got my good side."

"Andrea, " Miranda pushed a wayward lock of hair out of her eyes and relaxed back into the chair. "I've told you before, you don't have a bad side."

Andy chuckled. Setting on the arm of the chair, Andy traced Miranda's upturned face. "Neither do you."

"You're biased, my love."

"Of course I am." Andy grinned and leaned down to kiss the woman lightly. "But that doesn't make it not true."

Miranda laughed. "You are so ridiculous sometimes."

"Yeah, okay," Andy grinned, "I do believe there is a sweet jacuzzi tub in the other room..." she pulled the older woman up and wrapped her arms around Miranda's waist, laughing, "...what do you say we go try it out and I can see all your sides. I promise to be completely objective in my evaluation."

"You truly are brilliant sometimes."

Andy laughed. "Yeah, well... you are pretty much genius all the time... I'm just trying to keep up, Boss."

Miranda pulled Andy closer. "Do you really mean that?"

Deep ridges formed between Andy's eyes. "Uh... yeah, you're insanely brilliant Miranda. I have no idea how you retain all the information, organize it in your head and make anything useful out of it. I'm in awe of you every day."

Miranda didn't speak, but she pulled Andrea closer, bringing their lips together in a crushing kiss.


"Come with me." Leading the young woman to the bathroom and the waiting tub, Miranda sighed. "I've been meaning to tell you something... I suppose now is as good a time as any."

It was what this trip was for after all, for Andrea to get to know her better. It wasn't something she had ever wanted to admit to the young woman, but Miranda knew, it would be best to clear the air now, before the wedding, while Andrea could still change her mind.


Part 15

"Mmmm..." Andy relaxed back against the tub and wrapped her arms around the woman in front of her. The warm water swirled around them gently. It didn't take much, a tiny turn of her head, to kiss the side of Miranda's neck. She hated to break the moment, but they were both about as relaxed as they were going to get. "So..." Andy whispered in the older woman's ear. "What is it you have been meaning to tell me..."

Miranda sighed, partially in contentment, partially because she knew it was time for Andrea to know who she had agreed to marry. She just wasn't sure where to begin and said so. "I want to tell you about myself, but it will require some background. I'm not sure where to begin," She sighed, "It's quite a long story I'm afraid."

"Miranda..." Andy knew the woman was getting better about not calling herself old, but every once in a while the concern crept into the woman's thoughts and comments.

"No darling, I didn't mean because of my age. It's just a long story, and I want you to understand..." Miranda admitted, "...understand who you've agreed to marry."

This again... "Miranda," She shifted slightly, feeling the older woman's exquisite body slide against her, and suggested, "Why don't you start at the beginning?" She waited as Miranda was silent for some moments. She actually began to wonder if Miranda was going to speak, when she heard the woman's soft voice, barely above the sound of swirling water, ask.

"Do you know why I hired you?"

"Yes, you told me... because of my impressive resume and my speech about my 'so-called' work ethic..."

"Mmmm..." Leaning against the younger woman, Miranda let her head fall back to rest on Andrea's shoulder. "That's not...exactly, true."

"What?" Andy was fascinated with the pulse point now exposed. She leaned in to feel the rhythm with her lips, mumbling. "Why then?"

Miranda's eyes fluttered closed. "Oh, God, Andrea... I can't do this with you...doing that... it's too distracting."

"Mmmm..." Andy slowly stopped her explorations and pulled away. "I'm sorry." She nuzzled Miranda's ear and whispered, "You just taste so good."

Leaning into another kiss from Andrea, Miranda sighed one of her half-contentment, half-resigned that they have to stop sighs. "We need to talk."

Andy nodded. "Okay then," It was difficult, but Andy allowed Miranda out of her arms and out of the tub. She followed quickly and soon they were both sitting on the sofa, wrapped in soft fluffy robes.

Aware that Miranda hadn't wanted distracting touches, Andy sat nearly an arms length away, they faced each other but only touched where their arms along the back of the sofa overlapped their hands.

"I am a very petty person, Andrea. You need to realize that up front."


"No, don't interrupt me," sad blue eyes pleaded, "I need to say this."

Andy licked her lips, then nodded and pressed them together, determined not to cut in again.

"I hired you because of your 'impressive resume' that is somewhat true. But before I go into that, I need to give you some background, about me." Tangling her fingers with Andrea's, Miranda took a deep breath.

"We were poor when I was growing up." Miranda took comfort from the fingers in hers tightening. "Not, poor like you would imagine. Not American middle-class poor, we were English poor... My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle poor, Natalie and I actually sold flowers in the theater district on weekends." She almost fondly remembered those times, with Samuel standing watch over them, making sure that flowers were the only thing the theater patrons tried to buy. Studiously avoiding Andrea's eyes, Miranda continued. "Anyway, when I was thirteen I got an after school job sweeping the storeroom for a dressmaker." Now she smiled at the memory. "The woman I worked for was very kind and when I was fourteen, I dropped out of school in order to work in her dress shop as a clerk. I got a small salary plus commissions on what I sold." A glance at Andrea's wide dark eyes was all she could stand before she continued.

"Samuel was angry at me, he wanted me to finish school." Miranda shook her head. "But he had dropped out when he was fifteen as well, taking a job at a factory to support us." Licking her lips, Miranda admitted. "Our father left when Natalie and I were five. Samuel is ten years older than we are and when our father left, he stepped up to try and provide for us." She sighed. "Mother worked as well, although she wasn't really trained for anything. She took in laundry, and managed a few odd jobs." Shaking herself out of the memories, Miranda continued. "Anyway, when I was old enough, I dropped out of school and began to work to support myself."

"That's amazing." Andy's eyes went wide. "Sorry... go ahead."

"It's not amazing Andrea, it's horrible. Children shouldn't have to do that... but it was my life. Samuel hated it. He didn't want me to work. He wanted to keep me under his thumb, his rule, his control... but I wasn't having any of it. So after I saved as much as I thought I needed, I.... left."

She saw Andrea's confused look. "I moved out..." Miranda rolled her eyes at how naive she'd been back then. "Anyway, the relevant part of my past is that I never finished school. Daniella, the woman I worked for, taught me everything she knew about dressmaking, and she taught me French."

"You're self-taught about fashion?" Andy gaped. "Miranda, that's amazing..."

"No, not amazing, it was self-preservation. I learned because I had to, the more I learned the better I was at my job." She sighed. "But that is the reason, when I saw you, with your 'impressive resume', your college degree, standing there practically begging me for a job... something in me wanted to hire you, to crush you, to prove to you, and myself I suppose, that having a college degree didn't mean anything."

"So you set out to crush me." Andy blinked and mumbled. "It damn near worked."

"I know... God, I know.. and I'm so sorry about it..." Miranda lowered her eyes to study the fabric of the sofa between them. "I'm not proud of the fact, but I'm extremely glad you didn't let me..." Fingers under her chin gently tilted her face up to meet dark, loving eyes.

"Miranda, is this what has been bothering you?" Andy shifted closer, "because all this story has done is show me how amazing you are." She pulled the older woman into her lap, the white hair brushing her shoulder where the robe had fallen open slightly. "You worked your way up from nothing to the very top of your field. You're an incredible woman. I count myself lucky every day that you love me. How we met, why you did what you did then, isn't nearly as important as how you feel now."

"I love you Andrea. I'll love you every second from now on..."

Smiling at that, Andy brought their lips together. "You see? No reason to look back... only forward, Miranda. You and me... always." Andy's hand found its way inside the gaping robe. "Was that all you wanted to tell me?"

Arching into the touch, Miranda hissed. "We'll need to talk more, there are several things we need to discuss before the wedding." Andrea's hand found the flesh she sought and Miranda moaned. "The rest can wait..."

"Mmmm..." Andy shifted again, "I was hoping you'd say that." Laying Miranda back on the sofa, Andy nudged the robe aside and began her quest to prove just exactly how much she loved and adored Miranda. She didn't intend on stopping until every inch of her fiancee was completely convinced. "I love you, Miranda."

Miranda was already lost in the sensation of Andrea's weight on her. She wanted to answer, she wanted to tell the woman how incredible she was, how beautiful, how amazing, but all she could do was hold on, as Andrea seemed to tell her all that and more, without even saying a word.

Light in her eyes and a shifting on the bed woke Miranda slowly. "Mmm... time?"

"Oh, sorry to wake you." Andy leaned over to kiss the sleepy woman. "I was going to let you sleep while I went on my run." She indicated the note on the pillow next to Miranda. "You were sleeping so peacefully, I couldn't bring myself to wake you."

Miranda blinked. "But you weren't." It was a statement of fact, Andrea would often wake before she did, but if it had been a good night the woman would remain in bed. The only reason Andrea ever got up as soon as she woke was all too familiar to both of them. "Another nightmare?"

Andy smiled a little sadly and nodded. "At least I didn't wake you this time." She was beginning to get annoyed at the night time ramblings of her brain. "I wish I could remember something, anything, about them." She sighed and ran her fingers through her hair, "Two seconds after I wake up I can't remember a thing except that weird vague unease... that sense of loss."

Miranda sat up and held Andrea close. "I wish there was something I could do..."

"I know." Andy smiled as she kissed Miranda's neck and breathed in the woman's scent. It was a whisper of the editor's signature perfume, mixed with traces of last night's activity. "I'll be okay." With a final kiss, Andy moved off the bed. "I'm going to go meet Michael and run. He usually only does the circuit twice, but I may take a third lap today..."

She always takes longer runs to clear her head. Miranda smiled at the young woman. "Do what you want, I'll be here when you return."

Andy smiled back at the prone woman. "I love you."

Miranda laughed. "And I you." With a wink, the older woman began to move as well, reaching for the robe Andrea had divested her of last night. "Have a nice run."

Nodding, Andy assured her partner, "I won't be gone too long." She closed the door firmly behind her and went to meet the hotel manager.

Miranda waited several heartbeats to make sure Andrea wasn't going to return until her run was finished. Certain she was alone, Miranda began her own morning ritual. Last nights exertion had left her a bit stiff and sore, this workout seemed to help loosen her tight muscles in addition to the toning benefits. She wished it was this easy to eliminate Andrea's concerns and stop the nightmares that plagued her partner.

Andy took her phone from her pocket and quickly dialed as she rode the elevator down to the lobby. She knew it was late back home, but at this point she didn't care if she got Nigel out of bed or not. Finally the connection was made and the voice that answered sounded tired.


"Nigel!" Andy sounded panicked. "Thank God... are you okay?"

"Andy?" The man sounded confused. "What's wrong? Why are you calling me?"

"Well I don't know Nigel, I thought you might be sick or in the hospital or something."

"What? Andy what are you talking about?" Nigel sighed. He so wasn't in the mood for this. "It's been an extremely long day..."

"You think?" Andy laughed. "I was hoping you weren't just ignoring Miranda's voice message for no reason." Dead silence from the American end of the connection. Andy grinned and waved at her running buddy while she waited for Nigel to say something. Suddenly there was the sound of the phone being transferred and a new voice sounded in her ear.



"Andy?" The Brazilian woman questioned. "What did you do to Nigel?"

"What?" Laughing, Andy bowed slightly to Michael who held the door for her as they exited the hotel. Suddenly she had a hundred camera's going off in her face. Rolling her eyes she mouthed. 'sorry' to the hotel manager then returned to her conversation with Serena. The woman was explaining her question.

"I was walking past Nigel's office and saw him standing here, his mouth moving much like a fish out of water..."

"Ah," Andy moved through the crowd of photographers, oddly enough very much like moving through water, leaving frustrated photographers in her wake. "Okay, tell him... tell him that Miranda is not angry, and to call her. And tell him that I'm impressed he didn't fall over, and that I owe him a drink when we get back."

"I think perhaps you owe us all a drink..." Serena's laugh flowed through the connection. "...we work very long days when Miranda is gone."

Andy suppressed a gasp, she'd moved her run with Michael up but it would still be one in the morning in New York and both Nigel and Serena were still at the office. "I'll see what I can do."

"Have a nice day."

"Have a good night," Andy chuckled, "what's left of it."

Disconnecting the call, she pocketed her phone and spoke to her running mate. "Sorry."

He waved off the apology. "Ready?"

"Yep." She had stretched in the room and the walk over had warmed her up somewhat. Falling into step next to him, she relished the mindlessness of it, one foot in front of the other no real need to think about anything except staying on the path.

Miranda was just finishing her routine when her phone rang. A glance at the screen made her smirk, Nigel. She let it ring, toying with the idea of simply letting it go to voicemail. She detested voicemail though, and sighed as she pushed the button to answer.


"Miranda," Nigel couldn't keep the apologetic tone out of his voice because he was in fact apologizing. "Sorry I didn't return your call sooner..."

"Bore someone else with your sad sad story, just tell me what you are doing to my magazine." She smirked at the brief silence that followed. Then Nigel began to tell her everything that had happened that day, well, yesterday... whatever. "Nigel! I don't need the details, I'm not there to handle them anyway. That is your job. Three out of these four things are what I need to know.... are the shoots going well, has anyone died, is the building standing, is the magazine still on schedule."

Nigel sighed, the only reason he knew Miranda wasn't actually upset with him was because Andy had assured him she wasn't. He answered the three he thought he should. "The shoots are going fine, Patrick personally took over the Calvin Klein layout, the building is still here, and we are still on schedule. I'm assuming you don't care if anyone is dead... but there isn't, just in case you wanted to know."

"Why would I want to know, Nigel? That would be HR's problem."

"Right." He ran his hand over his shiny bald head. "So how's your trip going?"

"It's fine."

"Mmmm... that bad, eh?" He tsked into the phone. "Take the opportunity...talk to the girl."

"She's a woman, Nigel." Miranda exhaled slowly, "And the problem is we have been talking... this trip has somewhat opened our eyes to each other. I'm not sure what any more revelations will bring."

There was a tone in Miranda's voice that was almost sad. Nigel tried to cheer her up. "Well, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Andy loves you, you could tell her you were secretly a short order fry cook and she'd probably just order a burger or something." He laughed, not realizing that Miranda wasn't laughing with him. "Have you seen much of London?"

"Not yet, I'm waiting for Andrea to get back from her run and then I will show her some of the sights. She's expressed an interest in taking a flight on the Eye."

"Ah, yes... well, I'm going to close down here for the night. Hopefully I can get some sleep, before I have to be back in..." he paused to look at his watch, "...seven hours."

"Of course." Miranda sat on the sofa, leaning against the arm. "Just make sure that Jean-Paul is ready for the showing on Thursday, and don't forget to get the permits for the shoot at the memorial... also, I had some photos of some other police officers, in addition to Detective Jo sent to my office, look through them. Pick eight or so of the top ones, I'll narrow it down from there." She paused for half a second, "That's all." Cutting the connection she leaned back on the sofa for a long moment, then stood. She headed toward the bathroom to get cleaned up and start her day.

Andy leaned toward the transparent barrier of their private car on the London Eye. She thought their 'guide' was going to bust a blood vessel when Miranda told him he wouldn't be necessary. And in fact he hadn't been, Miranda had given her a verbal history of the city before they were even a quarter of the way through their 'flight'. Now she just looked out over the city and marveled at the sight. The morning mist cast an almost surreal look to the landscape. "It's beautiful."

"Quite nice." Miranda took a deep breath, "Very peaceful."

"Ugh... you weren't kidding about the English paparazzi." Andy rolled her eyes. "What is the deal with that anyway?"

"They are rather persistent little vultures aren't they?" Miranda thought about it, "We might want to pick up a few of the more outrageous rags, just to see what they are saying about us." She phoned back to the hotel, when the desk clerk answered she passed on her thought. "Yes, this is Miranda Priestly, have someone pick up some of the papers today. The Sun, The News of the World, The Mirror, The Express... all those gossipy type rags. There have been photographers following us since yesterday and I would like to know if any of them have managed to sell their wares." She looked at Andrea as the clerk responded courteously to her near-order and with only a slight twitch in her right eye said, "Thank you," before she disconnected the call.

Andy laughed, "Now was that so difficult?"

"Yes..." Miranda grumped, "so don't get used to it. I won't suddenly be 'asking' my employees to do their jobs, they will do it or they will be fired. My request to the hotel clerk was not a regular part of his job, therefore I assumed a 'thank you' was in order for his ready compliance."

Laughing again, Andy moved to where Miranda was sitting, "My Dragon Lady..."

"Mmmm..." Miranda sighed, "Indeed. I am yours, and I am the Dragon Lady." Pulling Andrea down next to her, she linked their arms together and leaned over to rest her head on the young woman's shoulder. "When we are finished here, I will tell you, show you, the reason for that moniker."

"Um... okay." Andy could tell that this was another thing that Miranda seemed to think would change her opinion about her, make her rethink their relationship... make Miranda, unsuitable, to marry. It occurred to Andy that Miranda was working awfully hard to come up with reasons not to marry her. She promised herself to ask the older woman about that, after the wedding. Right now, she decided, they would sit like this for the rest of the 'flight' and just enjoy the view.

Andy stood, holding Miranda's hand, looking down at the grave marker. She wanted to say, something, anything, but instead simply stood holding Miranda's hand, waiting. She heard Miranda take a deep breath and knew she wouldn't have to wait much longer.

"That's when." Miranda focused on the date engraved on the marker. "The day my mother died, the Dragon Lady was born."

Andy remained silent, knowing Miranda wasn't finished.

"I worked for Daniella in her shop, for three years. The first year was hard, fighting with my family, making very little... not enough to live actually but I was too proud to go back. I took a second job to make ends meet. The longer I worked at the dress shop though, the better I got. I'm not going to brag but I know I was good, the increased commissions proved it, although she never told me she thought so, never told me I should move on... If she had I would have refused to leave, refused to leave... her." Miranda's voice dropped to an even quieter whisper, so low Andy wasn't sure if she was meant to hear or not. "Then, she left me."

Shifting to wrap her arm around Miranda's shoulder, Andy kissed her temple lightly.

"The shop closed, Daniella was gone, I had pretty much stopped my other job after my second year at the dress shop, only working there a few hours a week, so I basically had no job and very little savings..." Miranda leaned into Andrea's embrace. "But she left me a letter of recommendation, I took it to one of the little shops I loved on Carnaby Street and they hired me on the spot."

"What did the letter say?"

Miranda chuckled. "It said that of all the sales clerks she'd ever had, I was her biggest disappointment and that if they didn't hire me, they were idiots."

Andy pressed her lips together tightly, she felt tears gathering in her eyes. That moment during her interview with Greg at the Mirror came back to her. The astonishment, that Miranda had given her a recommendation like that. The relief that Miranda had allowed her to move on with her career instead of blocking her disloyal assistant's efforts was incredible. But now, knowing where it came from, knowing that was something directly from Miranda's past was more than incredible, it was indescribable.

"It was a great job, it paid more, and the patrons bought more, so my commissions were more. I had never really quit my other job though, I still went in occasionally to help out...until," Miranda swallowed hard at the memory. "One of my regular customers at the new store was, in fact, the fashion coordinator at English Runway." Grinning at Andrea's widening eyes, Miranda nodded. "She offered me a job as her assistant..." The memory made her blue eyes shine. "So after five years of selling clothes to individual customers, I changed jobs and began to sell clothes to a hundred thousand people at once."

"That's where you learned about magazine publishing..."

"Mmmm..." Miranda nodded, "I'd read the magazines for years, keeping up with the latest designs was important to help sell the clothing, but seeing the behind the scenes of it all was quite enlightening."

"How old were you then?" Andy had done the math, she knew the answer, but couldn't really wrap her mind around it.

"Nineteen." The older woman answered absently.

Running her tongue over her teeth, Andy nodded. "Do you know what I was doing when I was nineteen?"

Blinking, Miranda looked over at her partner and waited.

"I was at home, terrified of moving away to college." Andy raised her hand and gently threaded her fingers in Miranda's hair, stroking the woman's cheek with her thumb. "You're amazing."

Patting the hand on her cheek, Miranda smiled. "No, not amazing. I was just, surviving."

Andy didn't argue, she knew that tone all too well. This was a point Miranda wasn't going to budge on, but neither was Andy. Miranda is amazing, Andy thought and nothing anyone said, even Miranda, would change her mind about that.

"Anyway, again, more money but the hours were such that even 'helping out' at my former second job was impossible. So I had to give up that little bit of security." But not the friend I made there... Miranda sighed. "I moved closer to the Runway offices, farther from my family. I still argued with them, Mother and Samuel, over a lot of things. I worked longer hours, immersed myself in the mechanics of publishing, learned everything I could about the industry." She rolled her eyes. "Much to my Boss' chagrin after a year working for her, I was promoted into her job."

"What happened to her?"

"She was transferred to French Runway, as fashion coordinator... a lateral move but she was happy with it, I suppose." Miranda shrugged. "After a year in that position I was promoted to Fashion editor...and then, I found myself as Editor-in-Chief of British Runway... it seemed so sudden, but for two years I was the big boss at the magazine."

"Wow, Editor-in-Chief at twenty-two?"

Miranda nodded, "Yes, I couldn't believe it either, and there were many naysayers, but I proved them wrong. I worked very hard and in two years the magazine was better than ever. I still hadn't really gotten my reputation yet, many people called it beginner's luck. Then I was transferred to French Runway, and I knew I had to do the same for French Runway that I did for British Runway... I had to, or everything I'd been working for would just be laughed away and my career would be over." She smiled as Andrea nodded understanding. "So I moved to Paris and got to work."

Andy remembered what Miranda had told her about her mother's death and gasped. "How long was it before..." Her eyes slid to the grave marker.

"I was in the middle of my third issue when Natalie rang to tell me that Mother had passed away." Miranda licked her lips. "I, sent my regards, but didn't attend the funeral."

"What?" She couldn't imagine not attending, even if the unthinkable happened tomorrow and her father was gone, no matter what differences they had, she would be there, for her mother, for Chad.

"I couldn't go, Andrea. I was the Editor-in-Chief of French Runway..." Miranda closed her eyes, "and it was Fashion Week."

Andy looked at the date on the marker again and gasped, "Oh, Miranda." Andy felt the tear rolling down her cheek. That must have been an impossible choice for her. Just thinking that word brought Miranda's words back to her. You can see beyond what people want, and need, and choose for yourself... if you want this life, those choices are necessary.

"That's when it started, the reputation, the iron tough, immovable Dragon Lady, the Snow Queen with ice for a heart. The woman who doesn't even care if her own mother is dead, she just keeps working..." With a small sob, Miranda sank to her knees, Andrea following suit, keeping her arm around the older woman's shoulder. "I did care, Andrea, I swear I did... I just... I couldn't... be there." Miranda hid her face in her hands but didn't try to stop the tears, "I couldn't spare the hour it took to fly home... it's an hour Andrea... it would have taken an afternoon, one lousy afternoon.... and at any other time I would have, I swear I would have... but, it was Fashion Week... and I just..."

"Couldn't." Andy wrapped her other arm around her partner and held her tightly. "I know." They sat like that for a long time, until Miranda got herself under control and began to speak again.

"I had been sending Mother some money, every month, for her rent, and bills. She claimed the others were helping her as well, but I found out later that they hadn't been." With a little effort, Miranda stood, bringing Andrea up with her. "She was buried here because this is where poor people are buried, the synagogue paid for the funeral from a fund they have for just that purpose."

"I didn't know. If I had, I would have taken care of it myself." Miranda sighed and stood, again looking down at the marker, grateful for Andrea's arms around her. "No one told me anything about it. Once I said I couldn't come to the funeral, I was not spoken to again for quite some time."

"How long?"

"Twenty years." Miranda shook her head at Andrea's horrified expression. "It's only been in the last decade that I have tried to reconnect with my family, for the girls' sake. They should know their relatives."

"I wish I could have been there for you." Andy swallowed hard at the terrible events that Miranda had gone through, alone. But then, she was assuming. "Did you... have someone, to be with you?" She wasn't sure which answer would be more heartbreaking, that Miranda didn't have anyone, or that she did. Jealousy is a terrible thing, she thought.

"No." Miranda shrugged, "Not then." She smiled sadly at the look in Andrea's eyes. "Dragon Lady, remember? I was the Snow Queen, the one with the heart of ice, no one even dared to try to melt."

"How long did that last?"

"I was editor of French Runway for five years." Miranda patted the arms around her for release. She reached into her clutch purse and withdrew a small stone.

Andy thought she recognized the pebble in Miranda's hand as one from the landscaping in their backyard. That mixture of stones had been special ordered, to complement the color of the flowers in that particular bed.

The older woman took a step forward and placed the tiny rock on the grave marker then they began walking back toward the car. "I didn't meet James until I took the job at American Runway."

"The youngest Editor-in-Chief, in American Runway history." Andy knew that much. Emily had verbally beaten that fact into her brain. She wondered if Emily's facts extended to French and British Runway.

"Yes." Nodding, Miranda slid into the car. "I had just turned thirty, literally, my first day at the Runway offices in New York was my birthday." She laughed, "They wanted to throw me a party, but I would have none of it. I didn't want a party from them, strangers. They took it to mean that I didn't like birthdays for some reason and never tried again."

Well that's going to change. Andy thought and smiled at her partner. "So things got blown out of proportion, like they always do." This afternoon had been amazing. The things she'd learned about the woman she was going to marry would make most people just admire the editor more, but Andy knew that Miranda wouldn't want anyone else to know about this part of her life. The woman was only sharing with her because Miranda loved her and wanted her to know. "I love you, Miranda."

"Even now, now that you know what a horrible person I am? How I chose my job over my family..." Her self recrimination was stopped by Andrea's soft lips moving against hers for several heartbeats.

"I love you, Miranda, always." She smiled, her dark eyes drowning in Miranda-blue. She wanted to say more, to assure the older woman that there was nothing she could reveal about her past that would ever stop the love she felt. Unfortunately her stomach chose that moment to remind them that they had skipped breakfast.

Miranda smiled at her partner's charming humanity. "C'mon, I know the perfect place to get something to eat quickly."

"Yeah?" Andy climbed into the car, realizing that she was actually quite hungry.

"Oh yes," Miranda chuckled as her eye took on a mischievous gleam and she informed her companion.

"You're going to love it."


Part 16

Andy's first thought when they walked into the tiny building was, Oh my god, she was right, I love this place. It was perfect, obviously mostly a carry-out, Andy corrected her thought, take-away business, but there were just a few tables and a short wall to separate the tiny eating/ordering section from the cooking area. The man working behind the counter spoke without looking at the new customers.

"With you in a bit."

"Um..." Andy spoke quietly trying not to disturb the busy man behind the wall as he dropped several baskets into the hot oil vats, "a diner?"

Miranda shook her head and chuckled affectionately, "Americans," Her eyes glittered as she took in the space, "This is not a diner, Andrea..." Her voice remained soft, but her English accent firmly reasserted itself. "This is a good and proper East End Chippy."

Andy blinked as Miranda stepped up to the wall.

With barely a glance at Andrea, Miranda felt herself transported back in time. It was the aroma that did it, she knew; that hot oil scent that she had lived with all those years ago. She studied the bald older man industriously pouring potatoes from a large sack into the hopper of the chipping machine. She could see tickets for orders hanging from a small metal stand next to the til. Since no one else was inside the establishment the tickets were obviously orders to be picked up. After a long moment, a small smile appeared. She spoke as if she had actually kept in touch with this man for the last thirty years instead of the long twenty year absence then a handful of short visits in the last decade. Her normally soft carefully cultured voice was completely replaced by her former much rougher tones, "Add two Cod and Chips to the queue, Gus."

A slight pause of the potatoes dropping into the hopper was the only thing that indicated he might have been thrown by the voice at all. Turning to look over his shoulder, a definite sparkle appeared in his eye when he saw Miranda. Indicating a garment hanging from a peg on the wall behind the divider, he grunted. His voice was low, and gruff, but also held a great deal of wistful amusement, "Make it yourself, you ungrateful wench."

Andy gasped and looked at Miranda with wide eyes only to find the older woman smiling wider. She barely leaned into the quick kiss Miranda gave her on the cheek and only automatically caught the jacket Miranda had quickly shrugged out of.

Miranda rolled up her sleeves as she moved, "Have a seat, darling. This won't take long."

Frozen in shock, Andy sat and watched Miranda slip behind the counter. The older woman quickly took the garment from the peg and threw it over her head, covering her dark Donna Karan pantsuit with the dubiously clean layer of cloth. Andy was first amazed that Miranda didn't even have one hair out of place after pulling the thing over her head. She wondered why her head wasn't exploding as she watched the Editor-in-Chief of Elias-Clarke's flagship magazine, prepare two orders of fish and chips. Maybe it has exploded, she thought idly, this is some sort of hallucination... She wasn't sure exactly how to handle this particular development. It was amazing, and wonderful and too surreal for words. Andy could only stare as Miranda bumped her hip against the man's.

"Shove over you lug... I'm workin' here."

He laughed and bumped her shoulder with affection as she dumped the batches of chips he'd started into the holding area. "You've gone white..."

Blue eyes rolled at the characteristic taunt then looked up to take in his shiny head. She smirked as she loaded the metal baskets with the equivalent of two orders and dropped them into the hot oil. "You haven't."

Laughing louder he shook his head and finished bagging the take-away requests he'd been working on when they came in. Setting them in a row on the counter he had nothing to do but wait for more customers to place more orders. He leaned against the counter and watched the woman work. He waited until she was nearly finished before he asked. "What brings you around, Miriam?"

With a look of disdain for the styrofoam containers held above the cooking area, Miranda took two squares of blank newsprint paper, from the small stack next to them.

Andy watched, fascinated, as Miranda took the paper and twisted it into large cones, filling each with a portion of fish and chips, finishing them with a final flourish of sticking a small fork into one of the top chips. Taking the results of her labor to the corner table, Miranda almost slammed the cones onto the surface, scrunching the narrow ends, causing the whole packets to remain standing upright on the table. Miranda turned to face the man. "Do I need a reason?"

"Of course not, Pet."

Andy blinked at the endearment then blinked again as the man opened his arms wide and Miranda, with only the slightest hesitation, moved into them. The stunned brunette watched as the woman she loved basked in this huge man's embrace and returned it. She finally found her voice.


Patting the man's chest, Miranda moved away as Gus released her. Miranda took off the protective garment, hanging it back on its peg behind the wall.

As Andy watched, Miranda moved back to the eating/ordering area, shedding the persona she'd fallen into when they'd walked in. Miranda seemed so happy while she was cooking. The thought was disturbing, because the corollary meant Miranda wasn't happy now, with her. A soft hand on her cheek pulled her out of her worries.

"None of that," Miranda smiled as dark eyes met hers, "I cannot live in the past, and don't want to, but visiting every once in a while is quite enjoyable."

"You gonna introduce me to your friend, Miriam?" Rolling his eyes, he corrected himself, "Miranda." He held up a hand stalling her response as the door flew open. A harried looking young man rushed in, spared a slight glance at the women standing in the dining space, grabbed all the bags on the counter and rushed out. Gus chuckled, rolled his eyes and explained, "Delivery... it's a new thing. Taps me into the office worker business, in the City." His thumb gestured in the general direction of London's financial district only a mile or so away. Dismissing the employee from his mind, the man focused on the tall brunette. "This one of your models then?"

Andy laughed. She was so not a model. Miranda's answer stunned her.

"She could be, but no," Miranda turned, wrapping her arms around the young woman's waist, "Gus, this is my Andrea."

"Is she now..." The man took in the position and grinned as the brunette's arms circled Miriam's shoulders, her dark eyes met his in clear challenge. Mine. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and chuckled, "I guess she is."

"Andrea," Miranda indicated the man in question,"This is Gus. He saved my life, in more ways than one."

Nodding, Andy was still wary of the man. "Nice to meet you."

His smile widened, "So polite..." Waving off any further niceties, he gestured them toward the table with food on it. The phone rang and he moved to answer it.

"Since when do you take phone-in orders?" Miranda didn't recall any place ever doing that.

"Since the delivery thing started." He laughed, "no sense in delivering it if they have to come here to order it anyway." He gestured to the table again. "Eat... before it gets cold."

"He's right," Miranda urged Andrea to resume her seat. "This so-called food isn't edible if it's cold. No matter how well it's prepared."

"Oy!" Gus, grinned then shrugged and glanced at Andy. "She's right." Picking up the phone, and a ticket book, he dutifully asked the caller what they wanted, nodding and writing as they listed off their choices.

Andy took a bite of the fish and widened her eyes. She spoke, in low tones, to her fiancee. "Miranda, this is wonderful."

"Mmm..." She drizzled a little malt vinegar over her food and bit into a chip, her eyes fluttered. "Yes, it always was quite good." Miranda smiled as their legs interlaced under the small table, she wound hers around one of Andrea's.

"So this was your 'other' job huh?" Andy grinned as she tore a bit of the crunchy batter off the fish and popped it in her mouth.

"Yes." Miranda smiled and she knew what Andrea wanted, the whole story. So, as they ate, she spoke quietly about that time, about finding this job, not only for the extra money but the free meals, about Gus and what a good friend he had turned out to be over the years.

Andy just ate, and listened, this story was different than the one Miranda had told her at the graveyard. Miranda was relaxed here, comfortable and Andy realized that she was too. This was, Andy thought, like when she and Jo went out, two friends having a bite to eat and talking. Except Miranda wasn't just her friend, Miranda was her best friend.

"Why are you grinning like that, Andrea?" Miranda couldn't help returning the expression. "This story isn't actually that funny."

"Do you know that you're my best friend?"

A charmed look crossed Miranda's face and after a moment she nodded. "I'm glad you think so. Do you know that you are mine as well?"

Andy nodded. "Yeah." I'm gonna marry her.

Miranda chuckled, "You know what this means, of course." At Andy's confused expression, Miranda continued with a twinkle in her eye and a smirk. "Your reputation for dating short order cooks, is still intact."

Laughing loudly at that, Andy grinned. "Yeah, I guess it is." She popped a chip in her mouth and chewed slowly, savoring the "one time only" prospect of eating fried food that Miranda had prepared herself. Then she remembered Miranda's total aversion to places that deep fried food. "So what's with the attitude about bars serving deep fried snackies?"

With another smirk and as much haughtiness she could muster, Miranda informed her in no uncertain terms, "They wouldn't do it correctly."

She had to agree that she'd never had fried food as good as this, but she knew that probably had as much to do with who prepared it as much as it did how it was prepared.

Gus brought two drinks to the table and pulled another seat over. He looked at the nearly empty cones standing on the table. "No one does that anymore, you know? I don't think they can."

Miranda smiled, "That's a shame." She gestured to an empty chair, inviting him to join them.

Sitting, he began regaling the young brunette with stories of Miriam and some of the more colorful patrons they used to serve.

Andy enjoyed the afternoon immensely, partially due to the fact that Miranda did too.

It was only when the after work orders and customers began to roll in that they took their leave, much to Gus' dismay. His after school help hadn't arrived yet and he wanted Miranda to stay and help him fill the orders. Andy couldn't blame him, she knew how hard it was to say goodbye to Miranda. It was something she hoped she never had to do for very long.

They said their goodbyes and decided to go back to the hotel to rest until it was time to meet the family at the restaurant.

They had been happy to find that their pictures in the gossip rags were fairly benign and thought that Andrea running through Hyde Park would probably show up in tomorrow's editions. After their leisurely sightseeing tour earlier and their flight on the Eye, most of the photographers had given up trailing them, opting for a chance at more interesting celebrity's. Now however the desk clerks had informed them that the paparazzi had returned. Miranda sighed as she concluded, "Determined to get a picture of us going out for a night on the town, no doubt."

"Well then," Andy grinned and, casually, reached into the closet pulling out one of the slinkier selections Abigail had sent from the British Runway Closet. "Why don't we oblige them?"

Miranda's eyes twinkled in anticipation of seeing the dress on her fiancee, "Why not indeed?" Perusing her own selections, Miranda picked a not-so-conservative dress of her own.

Andy licked her lips. Just the thought of Miranda wearing the dress she was now holding, made Andy totally not want to go out. It must have shown in her eyes.

Miranda chuckled and moved forward, close enough to stroke the young woman's cheek with the backs of her fingers. "Control, my darling. There will be time... after dinner."

"Why put it off 'til then?" Andy grinned and grabbed the hand caressing her. She kissed the palm and then the wrist.

Miranda pulled her hand away, only barely controlling her own urge to give in to Andrea's request. "We will be late."

"The reservations aren't until seven..." Andy moved closer, tossing her dress, and the one Miranda had selected aside. "... it's not quite even six yet..." She grinned wickedly and moved slowly away as she spoke innocently, "I need a shower..." Stopping at the door to the bathroom, Andy turned to look over her shoulder. "Coming?"

Miranda laughed as she also moved toward the bathroom, "Not yet..."

They weren't Miranda's usual fifteen minutes early to the restaurant, they were, however, there a good five minutes before seven, their paparazzi friends following them all the way.

Miranda looked over at her companion with a little gleam in her eye. "That dress really does look stunning on you." The fashion maven again turned her critical eye to the garment. She laughed as Andrea wriggled a little under the scrutiny and a bit more cleavage was revealed.

Andy adjusted the dress slightly. "I didn't realize it was going to be this revealing."

"Mmmm..." Miranda laughed lightly. "I simply thought you were trying to kill my brother." The older woman winked. "Even when he was a young man, when Asher would see a woman of exceptional beauty he would place his hand on his heart as if he were having an attack. Now, at his age, I'm afraid it may actually happen."

Andy laughed. "Well then, get ready because when he sees you he's going to have a double attack." The black dress Miranda was wearing wasn't quite as revealing as Andy's, but there was a good amount of skin showing in the front and back.

The door opened and the driver offered his hand for Andy to step out onto the curb. Andy accepted with a smile and turned to offer Miranda the same courtesy.

Miranda informed him, "We will call you when we're ready to leave."

He nodded politely and was on his way.

The flashbulbs were having a strobe effect on the front of the building, but neither woman paid any attention to them as Andy held the door open for Miranda to enter.

Andy was surprised to find that everyone else was already there, waiting in the lobby. She was also disturbed by Natalie's first words.

"They don't have a reservation for us."

"What?" Andy shook her head. "No, I booked it online yesterday," she looked around at the group, "you saw me."

"Witness' or not, I'm sorry, Madam... but as insistent as you might be there is no reservation for Princhek here..." The Maitre D' only looked slightly condescending.

"Ah... no, there wouldn't be." Andy smiled at the man, calming herself down slightly. "Try looking for Miranda Priestly, party of ten. I requested a private room."

"Mir..." The man's eyes widened and he didn't have to glance down at his book. He knew there was one for Miranda Priestly. He'd been thrilled when he saw her name on the bookings when he arrived at work today and had immediately reconfigured the private room for ten guests instead of the thirty it could accommodate. "Oh! Of course," Now he looked past the newcomer brunette and saw an immaculately dressed white haired woman, "This way, please..."

"Andrea," Miranda spoke, loudly enough for the restaurant employee to know he was actually the recipient of the comment, "I'm not happy with the way my family was treated before our arrival."

"No, Miranda." Andy felt sorry for the man, this was the Miranda Priestly he was dealing with.

"When we are finished tonight, you will write a review and send it to all the critics we know."

Andy looked at the floor to hide the grin she couldn't quite suppress. "Yes, Miranda."

Miranda took her courteously-held seat at the large round table.

The now most-congenial host swallowed nervously. "Your server, Amelia will be right with you."

With a curt nod, Miranda summarily dismissed him. "That's all."

Andy smiled as the now shaking man started to hold the seat next to Miranda for her, but was beaten to it by Asher so he simply left the room. She scooted into the table and looked up at her soon to be brother-in-law. "Thank you, Asher."

He placed his hand on his heart as he looked down, past her eyes. "My total pleasure."

"Asher," Miranda's blue eyes drilled into him. "Have a seat."

"While you still can." Andy laughed as he remembered her warning from last night and sat quickly. She took Miranda's hand. It was her left hand in Miranda's right. She winked when she felt the woman's fingers brush against the ring there.

Miranda waited for the others to settle into their places before she turned her attention back to Asher, not bothering with the menu that already lay in front of her. "Last night it seemed that you had been here before, what food do you recommend?"

"I..." Asher shook his head, "I haven't been here in quite a while. They get great reviews though."

Miranda looked at Andrea with an unreadable expression, "I told you, he's impossible."

Andy laughed and lifting the woman's hand to her lips, grinned. "Brothers are like that sometimes." She looked around the table, there was Asher, Daniel and Josie, Natalie, Dinah and the twins, and Tante Louise but, "Speaking of which..."

Daniel spoke up, knowing which brother was missing, "Samuel and his wife won't be here." He inclined his head in a sort of sitting bow. "This restaurant isn't kosher."

"Ah..." Andy worried. "We could have gone somewhere else..." Miranda's hand squeezing hers stopped the suggestion.

"It wouldn't have mattered, Samuel wouldn't come to any place we chose." Miranda licked her lips and sighed. "We will simply have to muddle through without him."


They all turned to see a very sweet looking waitress entering the room.

"My name is Amelia and I'll be taking care of you this evening."

Miranda slid her hand out of Andrea's and picked up the menu in front of her. "Amelia, wonderful, we will need two bottles of your finest red... while we look over the selections."

The waitress' eyes locked on Miranda and the girl smiled as her wavy brown hair bobbed around her face. "Yes ma'am, I'll be right back."

Andy narrowed her eyes slightly at Miranda, then picked up her menu as well. The others all followed suit, not sure exactly what was going on. None of them recognized the woman they were eating with, it was their sister, but, not.

"There aren't any prices on this menu." Tante turned the page, "How do we know what we're going to pay?"

Miranda reached over and patted the older woman's arm. "It doesn't matter Tante, just order what you want."


Andy smiled at the older woman's protest, it was disconcerting at first, knowing Miranda was spending exorbitant amounts of money on something that doesn't seem worth it. She'd learned quickly that if Miranda thought it was worth it, then it was. Andy didn't even want to think about how much the private car on the London Eye had cost.

Miranda smiled at the group and gestured to the menu's in their hands. "Order what you want. The price is not important, tonight is on me."

Natalie realized what was happening first. "You really aren't Miriam anymore, are you?" She knew, as Andy had correctly identified earlier, this was indeed the Miranda Priestly.

"Of course she is..." Tante Louise looked at the beloved niece sitting next to her and blinked. "...aren't you?"

"I'm afraid not, Tante." Miranda smiled, a little sadly, "The child you knew, even the young woman you remember, has been gone for quite some time. It was quite enjoyable visiting you, as her, last night." She laid the menu down and looked at them all in turn, "However, it's not who I am now. So, if you are willing, I would like for you to get to know the person I am today. You're still my family," She leveled a somewhat amused look at Asher, "whether I like it or not."

Dinah spoke up as she jostled one of the babies on her shoulder, "I think it would be great to get to know you better, Aunt Miranda." Her eyes sparkled as she turned her gaze on Andy, "and you too, Aunt Andy."

Andy blinked. "Uh..." She licked her lips as Dinah grinned at her, "I..."

Miranda murmured for Andy's ears alone. "If I can have a Mother-in-law younger than me, you can have a niece the same age as you."

Josie laughed at the expression on Andy's face, "I wouldn't mind getting to know my sisters-in-law better either." The dark haired woman grinned at Miranda and Andy.

Amelia returned with the wine and poured for them all after Miranda approved the vintage. "Are you ready to order?"

"I can't decide." Miranda smiled at the woman. "What do you recommend?"

"Well, do you like things sweet," the young woman returned the smile, "or spicy?"

"That just depends on my mood, Amelia..." A tiny wicked grin touched her lips, "Tonight will be a spicy night, I think."

Swallowing hard, the waitress never took her eyes off Miranda's as she took a step closer to the charismatic woman. "We have a very nice dish with giant prawn, scallops in a garlic, chili, lime sauce..."

"Hmmm..." Miranda shook her head, "No."

"We also have..." Amelia's voice took on a breathless quality as she leaned closer, reaching past Miranda to open the menu in front of her. Her arm brushed against Miranda's in the process. "This is a lovely spicy dish, with Tuscan sausage."

Bright blue eyes looked out from under the one wayward lock of white hair. "I'm not all that fond of sausage."

Andy laughed and told the a-little-too-helpful-for-her-tastes waitress. "Just bring her a filet of beef, medium rare."

Miranda nodded, "And you may bring Andrea, an order of Chicken Marsala."

"I'm not sure we have that..."

"You do now," Miranda insisted. "Unless I need to call Carlo and inquire why the chef at one of his establishments cannot manage this, simple dish. A dish, I may add that, any, chef in New York is only too glad to prepare, at my request."

Amelia's eyes widened as she nodded and repeated. "Chicken Marsala."

Going around the table starting with Tante ending up with Asher, the rest of the group ordered quickly. No one spoke for quite some time after the waitress left until Tante cleared her throat.

"Do you know who you just reminded me of?" The corners of her mouth curled upward as she looked at her wayward niece.

Miranda thought for a second and closed her eyes. With a grunt, her lips formed a wry grin. "Mother."

"Oh my God," Natalie nodded. "You did! That is just how she used to go off on us..."

"So you come by it honestly." Andy grinned at her partner. She saw that the talk of her mother was making Miranda uncomfortable though and changed the subject. "Excuse me a moment would you?"

Asher stood immediately as Andy stood and as she walked away from the table he sat slowly, watching her go.

"Asher..." Miranda shook her head at her lecherous brother, her low tone conveying her displeasure at his continued attention toward Andrea.

He sighed. "I know, I know... she's yours... but..." he gestured toward the door where Andy had disappeared, "...can you blame me??"

"No," Miranda admitted. "Honestly, I can't blame anyone for that."

They were all quiet for a moment and before anyone could say anything else, Andy returned.

Waving her hands slightly to dry the antibacterial gel she'd smeared on her hands, after she'd washed them, Andy grinned, "While we're waiting on our food to arrive..." Instead of returning to her place next to Miranda, she walked to where Dinah was sitting and gestured to the baby in her little carrier/seat. "... Gimme."

Josie agreed and motioned for the other child to be passed to her. "Mine are all too old to enjoy like this...and it will be a while before I get any grandchildren, I hope."

Andy moved back to her seat, carrying the little bundle against her chest. "Isn't she precious, Miranda?"

Once again the vision of Andrea's softened expression as she held the infant child caught Miranda's heart in her throat. She couldn't speak, but nodded in agreement to Andrea's question. Picking up her wine glass, she took a sip then glared over the edge as Asher spoke.

"Do you want children of your own?"

"Asher!" Natalie, Josie and Tante Louise all reprimanded the man simultaneously.

"What? I can't ask a question?" He gestured for them to look at the young woman. "It suits her..."

"It's kinda, personal," Dinah shook her head at her uncle's bluntness.

"It's none of your business, Asher!" Miranda no longer looked at her brother with anything close to tolerant amusement.

"Miranda's right," Andy smiled at the man, "My desire for children is something that Miranda and I should discuss, in private."

Miranda closed her eyes, it was not a discussion she was looking forward to. This could be a deal breaker... It scared her beyond reason that Andrea was going to call off this relationship that they enjoyed so much. She'd been totally honest with the young woman during this trip, to make sure that nothing in her past would drive Andrea to make that decision at some later date. It would hurt badly if something from her past caused their relationship to end now, but if the reason for that termination was because of something that Miranda couldn't provide the woman, Miranda knew. That will kill me. With some effort, Miranda shook herself out of her maudlin thoughts and tried to enjoy the moment. She watched Andrea, and conceded that Asher was correct, Andrea, with a baby in her arms, was very beautiful. Of course, she's beautiful any time. Changing the subject, Miranda turned to Dinah.

"Natalie informs me that your husband just got a promotion at work." She smiled at her niece as the girl nodded.

"Yes! Thank goodness," The young woman indicated the babies. "It means he's away more and I have to deal with these two on my own more than I would have..." She smiled across the table at the women holding her children. "...but he makes more money and that is a huge help now since everything costs double what it normally would!"

Nodding, Miranda murmured something about understanding, but honestly, she didn't. When her twins were born she'd already been an Editor-in-Chief for several years and James was rather well off when she'd met him. Money had not been an issue. However, her question had touched off several rounds of easy small talk among them and the time passed pleasantly while they waited for their food to arrive.


Part 17

Andy was absorbed in watching the baby in her arms slowly close her eyes in sleep when Amelia and two other young men entered the room, each carrying a tray and a small folding stand. The guys set up the trays they carried on the stands and left quickly, Amelia set up her burden as well, then began to serve the entree's.

Josie and Andy both rose from their seats to return the babies in their arms back to the children's little carrier seats. Andy returned to her seat just in time for Amelia to slide a plate with her Chicken Marsala onto the table in front of her. Miranda's steak was left for last and Amelia leaned in to set it down in front of the older woman reverently, again brushing her arm against Miranda's in the process, this time keeping it there.

"Here you are, ma'am," Amelia kept her face close to Miranda's, her voice low and breathless, "Warm and red in the middle."

Andy dropped the knife she'd picked up to cut her chicken, and closed her eyes for the duration of her exhale then opened them as she turned slowly to see Miranda's reaction to the blatant flirting.

Miranda kept her face completely neutral but shifted slightly away from the waitress, breaking the contact between them, "Thank you, Amelia." Miranda turned away from the waitress to speak to her fiancee. "You should be more careful, Andrea." Miranda reached over and picked the knife up off the table and placed it on the young woman's plate. "Someone could get hurt."

"You're right, Miranda." Andy carefully avoided touching the knife and looked past the older woman and locked eyes with the much-too-helpful waitress. Anger burned through her and her voice lowered to as near a growl as it had ever been, "People should be careful."

Amelia swallowed hard at the look in the brunette's eyes and stood quickly. "Can I get anyone anything else?" When all the murmurs seemed to be negative, the waitress left quickly.

"What was that?" Asher was looking wide-eyed between Andy and Miranda.

"That," Andy clenched her teeth together, "was your sister, flirting with the waitress."

"Andrea," Miranda's expression was completely blank and unreadable to the people at the table, but not to the one she loved most.

Andy looked over to see hurt in the woman's eyes. The cool gaze hit her full force and the burning in her veins eased. Breaking the connection, Andy looked at her plate, "And that was me, completely over-reacting to it...." Shaking her head, she realized what a scene she'd made, over nothing. Miranda didn't do anything. Warm fingers under her chin forced her head up, Andy closed her eyes, knowing what she'd see if she opened them. She almost flinched back when she forced herself to look. What she saw, what she knew she would see, was one of the scariest things anyone could ever see... the Miranda Priestly standing over her. "I'm sorry, Miranda."

Miranda gave Andrea a tiny smile. "We'll talk later." She glanced around the table meeting each of her family member's eyes. "Please enjoy your meals, I will return soon." She swept out of the room.

"Where's she going?" Daniel had not believed, before now, that the sweet girl he remembered his sister being was gone. Now he believed, fully. The young woman who claimed to love this new sister answered the question with resigned knowledge.

"She's going to talk to the manager." Andy's gaze lingered on the now empty doorway, "At the very least we'll have a new server for the rest of the meal, at most the girl will be fired." She didn't want the woman to lose her job over this, it was just some simple flirting... it wasn't anything... She kept telling herself that, kept telling herself that she was over-reacting. Looking at the food on her plate for quite a long time, Andy finally took a small bite and sighed. It's delicious, dammit. Her stomach was tied in such knots that she knew she wouldn't be able to eat too much of it.

Miranda returned and moved back to her seat brushing the back of Andrea's neck as she passed. Leaning down, she kissed the young woman's cheek. "All taken care of, my darling." She had barely sat down when a very nice looking gentleman in a server's uniform entered the room.

"My name is Blake, I'll be your server for the rest of the evening." He bowed to everyone then slightly lower as his gaze fell on Miranda. "Can I get anyone anything? More drinks?" Everyone murmured that they were fine so the man left, saying that he would return to check on them soon.

"You didn't have to do that." Andy took a deep breath and swallowed her pride, "but thank you."

Reaching out, Miranda brushed the backs of her fingers against Andrea's cheek. "Anything for you," she smiled, "I'm sure our former server will be just as happy assisting other patrons." She smiled and assured Andrea, "We'll talk later." Picking up her silverware, Miranda cut into her steak and she grinned wickedly. "Would you look at that, warm and red in the center, just like I like it." Taking the bite she glanced over at Andrea who was, as she hoped, trying her best not to laugh.

Andy nearly succeeded too, except Natalie chose that moment to giggle which caused Andy to think about Miranda giggling, which was just totally absurd, as was this whole situation and that just made it impossible to not laugh. So she did.

Everyone at the table looked at her like she was a little crazy, which made her laugh even harder. Natalie and Josie joined in first, then Dinah and then Tante. By the time Daniel and Asher joined in the merriment, even Miranda was chuckling.

As the laughter died down, Andy wiped a tear from her eye and apologized to the entire group. "I'm really sorry guys, I get a little nuts sometimes. Mostly for no reason. Foolish, I know..."

"Young woman," Tante Louise spoke quietly, forcing the entire table's attention on her. With a little smile, the woman held up her finger and shook it slightly. "Loving someone is never foolish."

Andy smiled at the woman and remembered saying those exact words to Samuel. "No, I guess not." She didn't want to dwell on the subject. "Thank you, Tante..." she indicated the older woman's plate. "How's your meal?"

Tante chuckled and nodded, accepting the change in subject. They all decided to give a review of the dish they were eating all at once. Soon they were back to the easy small talk they'd used to pass the time while they were waiting.

Andy calmed down, glad that the evening seemed to be back on track. She wasn't looking forward to the talk she and Miranda were going to have later though, she had no clue what she was going to say to the woman about the scene her jealousy had just caused. For now, she decided to try and make the best of the evening and took another bite of her delicious, made to order, meal.

She hadn't managed to consume a quarter of the food on her plate when she felt Miranda's hand casually slide into hers. Andy glanced over to receive a small smile and returned it. When she tried to release the hold, Miranda twined their fingers together. It was very clear to Andy that Miranda was not letting go.

Miranda speared a small square of meat with her fork and carefully raised it to her mouth. Eating left handed wasn't something she did every day, but it wasn't impossible and maintaining contact with Andrea was important; not only to ease Andrea's jealousy over the waitress, but to reassure herself that they were together at least until they had their talk regarding Andrea's need for children. She continued the dinner smiling at the babies when they cooed, nodding when someone said something she agreed with, laughing when someone said something funny, but she never released Andrea's hand.

Even when the waiter brought the bill, Miranda signed with her left hand, and they hugged everyone goodbye together. They completely ignored the paparazzi and when the car arrived, Miranda got in first, pulling Andrea in next to her. Their hands remained joined between them as the car began to move. Andy finally tried to ask.


The older woman shook her head, "Shhh... We'll talk later."

The rest of the ride continued in silence. Arriving at the hotel was just more paparazzi and silence in the elevator.

Andy was beginning to get nervous when they entered their room and Miranda still didn't speak. She followed as Miranda led her through the suite and when the older woman turned on the radio in the room, she tried again.


"Shhh..." Miranda closed her eyes as soft music filled the room, shifting her hold, but not releasing it, Miranda wrapped her left arm around Andrea's waist. "Dance with me?"

Suddenly unable to speak, Andy nodded and took a half step closer to Miranda. Following the older woman's lead, Andy found herself being waltzed around the room. It was calming, and soothing, being in Miranda's arms was, right. "I love you, Miranda."

"Shhh..." The music changed and Miranda pressed closer, whispering, "I love you too." They continued to sway together.

"What are we doing, Miranda?"

"Dancing." Miranda continued to sway, her left hand caressing Andrea's exposed back.


With a sigh, Miranda stopped their motion and released her hold on Andrea, letting go of her hand to walk across the room and shut off the radio. Turning to face her young partner she licked her lips and spoke quietly. "I guess we have a problem."

"We don't." Andy shook her head, she wanted more than anything to be back in Miranda's arms right now, but she knew she didn't deserve it. "I do. I have the problem Miranda." She stood with her head down, "I was so angry, so suddenly, I just don't know..."

This had not been the subject Miranda had in mind, she was going to bring up the issue of children. But apparently this was something Andrea needed to talk about so Miranda went with it and finished the young woman's thought, "Why?" Miranda asked and, recalling the incident, raised her eyebrows, "I think we both know why." Blue eyes studied her young companion for a long moment. "Don't speak again until you can admit to me, truthfully, what caused the anger." She knew what had set off Andrea, now it was up to the woman to figure it out too. Miranda watched as realization struck, but Andrea remained silent, unwilling to admit the reason. She waited, longer that she had thought she'd have to when Andrea stomped her foot on the floor.

"She had no right!" Andy felt the tears rolling and wiped them away angrily. "She shouldn't have touched you!"

Miranda nodded, she knew that had been the decisive moment for Andrea. Before that, the harmless flirting had only caused tolerant amusement for the woman. But it was time to put the harmless incident into perspective. "It's not the same."

Andy's spine stiffened and she stood stock still, "What?"

"She brushed her arm against mine, Andrea," Miranda raised her eyebrows, "It's not the same as you and..." Grinding her teeth she couldn't even say the name. Thinking about the man, his smug face, knowing what he had...done... with... to, Andrea... her Andrea. She suddenly found herself surrounded by lanky arms.

"You're right, it's not the same at all." Andy buried her face in the curve of Miranda's neck. "I'm sorry." She kissed the slope of Miranda's shoulder, "You're so damn sexy, of course people are going to flirt with you." Andy shook her head, "And of course, when you're relaxed like you were tonight, you're going to flirt back." She sighed, "I can't promise, but I'll try not to be so possessive and jealous from now on."

Miranda pulled away to look into dark apologetic eyes. "I'm glad you didn't promise what you know you cannot do. You are honest, it's a trait I greatly admire."

"Can we play a game?"

"What game do you want to play, Andrea?" Miranda was certain this was not the time for games.

"I just made it up." Andy rested her forehead against Miranda's and took a deep breath. "It's called, 'Truth'."

"Sound's intriguing."

"We ask each other questions and have to respond with the truth."

Sliding her arms around Andrea's waist, Miranda asked. "And how long does this game last?"

Andy whispered, "For the rest of our lives?"

She's going to marry me. Miranda held back the happy, relieved tears that thought brought to her eyes and answered, truthfully, "Acceptable."

Miranda woke slowly, they had spoken for a while longer last night, but the events of the day had caught up to them quickly. Falling asleep entwined together was not an uncommon occurrence, waking in each others presence was slightly rarer, but always welcome. Miranda took a moment to bask in the warmth of Andrea's arms, then slowly shifted away. Andrea's embrace tightened around her and Miranda sighed, she didn't want to wake the peacefully sleeping young woman, but it was becoming necessary to get up. It was late, later than they normally slept, and Miranda needed to get up. "Andrea..." Miranda patted the arm around her. "I need to get up for a moment..."

"Mmmm..." Andy blinked awake and released her hold, running her fingers through her sleep tousled hair. "What time is it??"

"It's nearly seven, Darling." Miranda tilted her head in question. "Are you going for a run today?"

"Uh... Yeah, I guess... but I told Michael I wasn't sure if I'd have time or not, and that he could run without me today. I know the path well enough now I can do it myself, if I need to. What time do we need to be at the airport?"

"The flight is scheduled to leave in a few hours but there is some leeway there. It's not a commercial flight this time." Miranda disappeared into the en suite for a moment, she was talking when she returned. "James is going to pick the girls up from his mother's and drive them back to the townhouse himself, but with the time difference we will be home long before they arrive."

Andy nodded. "But we still need to pack and get to the airport, so I'll just take a late run when we get home, or skip it today."

Miranda nodded. "Very well." She watched as Andrea rose from the bed and began to put the clothing British Runway had sent back into the appropriate garment bags. She indicated the small carry-on sized bags they'd purchased to use for the trip home. It wasn't that big a deal, since they had Donatella's jet for the flight home, the luggage wasn't a problem, but they figured they may as well get something that the girl's could use on the train and for overnights at their friends as well. They had no luggage besides their purses for the trip over and now on the return trip, thanks to the shopping spree at Harrod's, each girl had a small suitcase full of presents to explore when they returned. "Can you start packing the girl's things?"

"Of course." Miranda placed the luggage on the bed and opened it, then began to transfer the contents of the shopping bags into them. Several trinkets they'd picked out for each child, plus some lovely dresses from her, and from a trendy little shop they'd found after their flight on the Eye, some intricately embroidered jeans that were also strategically ripped in various spots. Miranda was dubious about them, but Andy insisted the girls would love them. Folding the denim carefully, Miranda packed them on the bottom of the small suitcases.

Andy finished preparing the borrowed clothes for their return trip to Runway then disappeared into the bathroom for a quick shower. Miranda had changed back into the clothing she arrived in and was just zipping the fully packed cases when she felt long warm arms wrap around her from behind. Leaning back into the embrace, she let her head fall back onto the convenient shoulder.

"I like it here, Miranda." Andy, clarified, "In England."

"I do too, Andrea," It was where she had grown up after all, "But I miss New York."

"Yeah, you know what I miss?" Andy rested her temple against Miranda's. "I miss the girls."

Miranda pressed her lips together, unwilling now to ask Andrea about wanting children, she knew she wasn't ready to hear the answer she dreaded. "I miss them too."

"Can we come back and visit with the girls sometime? They'd love seeing the little twins, and the shopping, and the Eye... and Gus and the Chippy!"

Miranda chuckled. "Yes, I think a family vacation with the girls would be a wonderful idea, at some point." Grinning at the idea, Miranda nodded, "A wonderful idea indeed."

Andy nodded. "Let's go home."

"Andrea, I'm standing in your arms." She turned to face the young woman and smiled. "That means, I am home."

She's gonna marry me. Andy smiled. "And Jo says I say sappy things? I love you."

"And I love you." Miranda smiled and remained in the embrace for a moment longer. By mutual consent they each grabbed one of the suitcases and headed out the door.

The flight home was smooth, as it always was on the private jet. They had both even slept, for a while. Miranda waited until they had nearly landed before calling Roy.

"Meet us at the airport," she instructed, "And don't you dare warn them that I've returned."

Andy covered her mouth to hold in a laugh. She couldn't hide her amusement when she spoke. "Miranda, what are you planning?"

"I want to know what the villagers do when the Dragon is away." Her blue eyes glittered with mischief. "We will go in through the loading docks."

Dark eyes widened, "You're trying to kill them!"

"Not... kill." Miranda grinned wickedly. "I do like to shake them up every once in a while though."

Laughing now, Andy wrapped her arms around the prankster. "You are so bad!"

Elegant eyebrows rose. "Is that good?"

"Oh, it's very good." Andy sighed as she reveled in their closeness. She had felt off-balance at the dinner last night, but now, everything was right. "I love you."

Nodding, Miranda knew the declaration didn't need a response, but she kissed the young woman's cheek then with an amused tone in her voice ordered Andrea, "You can't warn them either." Miranda grinned and linked her arm through Andrea's as they walked toward the exit. "In fact, you're going to help me."


"You're the only one that can." Miranda's eyes twinkled, "Oh yes, revenge is best when shared."

"Revenge?" Andy thought for a moment and asked. "Nigel? For not answering the phone, for not calling back?? Didn't you already tell him you weren't upset?"

"Andrea..." Miranda grinned a particularly evil grin and chided her gently. "I am Miranda Priestly, I'm famous for my unpredictability."

"What do you expect me to do??" Unpredictable was one thing, pranking someone was over the top, even for Miranda.

"Just don't let him hit his head on the floor when I fire him."

"Fire?!" She nearly dropped the bag she was carrying, Caroline's bag.

"Oh yes..." Miranda laughed, "definitely fired." She rolled her eyes at the horrified look on Andrea's face. Roy was waiting for them, he took the bags and stowed them in the trunk as they took refuge in the car. Miranda used the time to her advantage. "Here's the plan..."

Andy blinked as she listened, her expression slowly morphing from horrified to impressed. "You're evil!" She slid closer to the older woman, "I like it." Now her dark eyes took on a hint of mischief. "There is one thing though." Finding her cell phone she quickly dialed a number and grinned. "Jeff! Listen. Miranda wants to make an unexpected appearance at the office, we're coming in through the loading docks... can you keep security quiet? Yeah, I know... thanks." Closing the phone, Andy smiled sweetly. "All set, Boss."

"What do you know?"

"I know that there's a security guard who has the hots for Jacquelyn," Andy grinned at Miranda's confused expression, "new girl in the Beauty department. If he'd seen us coming, he'd have warned her, and she would have warned everyone else." Andy shrugged. "Jeff will distract him now... assign him to the desk or to watch the camera's from a different floor."

"If I ever catch any of those guards drooling over a Runway employee, model or otherwise, he will be very sorry." Miranda still didn't like the idea of the security cameras on the Runway floor, but she knew it was a good precaution, even if she did have them removed from her office. Andrea's chuckle drew her attention away from the thoughts of exactly why she'd had them removed.

"It's not only the male guards that drool, Miranda." Andy grinned and thought to herself, And they aren't only drooling over the models.... She was very glad that the cameras had been taken out of Miranda's office, it gave them some privacy for one thing, but now she was certain that the guards in question wouldn't just be sitting around watching Miranda all day, whenever she was in her office that is. Not that I can blame them, Andy thought, and knew if she had access to a camera in Miranda's office, she'd be glued to it herself, as creepy as that was, what with her previous experience with stalkers.

They exited the car at the loading docks and Miranda immediately announced. "If anyone at Runway is warned of my arrival, you will all be fired."

Andy saw at least one person sliding his phone back into his pocket.

Walking with determined purpose, Miranda entered the freight elevator. Andrea entered the metal box right behind her and she pushed the button for seventeen. "Are you ready, Andrea?"

"Oh yeah," Andy grinned, as she dolloped some antibacterial gel on her hands and rubbed them together gleefully, "this is gonna be fun."

When they exited the elevator, Miranda walked, never slowing, knowing that the scrambling employees would get out of her way. She walked through the Beauty Department, instantly, quietly, calling for Serena upon her entrance. The tall Brazilian appeared beside her, cell phone in hand.

Miranda pointed to the phone. "Don't."

Serena sighed and pocketed the device. "Yes, Miranda."

"Walk with us." The editor continued on her journey, scattering employees as she went. The offices were a mess, with papers, folders and detritus from people's breakfasts scattered on tables and desks. "This is unacceptable."

"They have to eat, Miranda." Andy knew what was going to happen if she didn't calm Miranda down. Food would be banned on the seventeenth floor. "You eat in your office... and you've been gone for days, so they've all been working long hours."

Miranda looked up at the Brazilian calmly walking next to them and saw dark circles under the woman's eyes that not even the clever make-up artist herself could completely conceal. Nodding, Miranda continued her trek, directly to Nigel's office. She entered the glass door quickly and did not smile when Nigel stood so fast the stool he'd been perched on nearly toppled.


"A voicemail... I left you a voicemail, two words, a simple command 'call me' that is all you had to do, but no, you decided that it wasn't important to call...Andrea had to tell you to return the call and now I come back to find the offices knee deep in trash!" She was actually furious. "Take-away..." she paused to correct herself, "Carry out containers everywhere! Did you authorize that?? Well don't worry about having to authorize anything for this office ever again. You're fired!" She stormed out of the office, past Andrea, who looked as though she was about to blow the whole prank. A glare in her direction got Andrea under control and barely slowing, Miranda stalked down the hall toward her own office.

Serena stood dumbstruck, staring at Nigel who was standing with his mouth open shaking his head slightly.

Andy took a moment to give Miranda a headstart then schooled her features into a determined look. "No way... No way!... She can't do that to you!..." Grabbing the man's arm, Andy tried to pull him with her. "C'mon!" He didn't move, "Serena, help me get him moving."

Serena moved to the other side of Nigel and looped her arm in the man's. It was only after they were in motion that Serena asked, "Where are we going?"

"Miranda's office," Andy tried to sound mean, "She's not going to get away with this!"


Part 18

Miranda swept into her office speaking orders even before she opened the door, knowing Emily would panic at that alone. Pausing she turned to glare at Bethany. "Coffee, now."

With Bethany gone, Miranda continued into her office, Emily trailing behind her as she knew the redhead would. "Contact Cherie in HR and inform her that I'll need a replacement for Nigel as I've just fired him." She was glad that she was facing away from her long time assistant because the sound Emily made very nearly made her laugh. She controlled the urge and turned to face the stunned woman. "Contact Jean-Paul and confirm the showing on Friday and get Patrick on the phone. Were the wedding invitations mailed?"

Emily blinked. "Uh.. wedding..."

"Yes, the invitations... did you get them in the mail?"

"Um, no." Emily admitted. "I thought you would want to mail your hand addressed ones first...."

"You thought?" Miranda raised her eyebrow significantly, "really..."

"I..." Emily was truly flustered. She hadn't seen Miranda in this bad a mood in a long time. Her eyes widened as she turned to go and saw Andrea along with Serena dragging Nigel into the office. Bloody Hell... She focused on the usual cause of all her problems. "Andrea, what is going on?"

"We're about to find out." Andy gestured to Serena and they pushed Nigel through the door to Miranda's office. Emily followed quickly, not wanting to miss seeing Miranda in this kind of mood, plus she needed to make sure the call to HR was necessary.

Miranda whirled to face the newly arrived people. "Nigel! Did HR send you to fill the Art Director position?"

He blinked and a croaked. "Uh..." escaped his sagging jaw, opened mouth.

"How wonderful... I'm sure you will do a brilliant job. Not like that last person, did you know he didn't even return a voicemail message I left him!? Can you imagine?"

Nigel just repeated the sound he'd made earlier.

Serena looked at Andy. "Is she serious?"

Andy locked eyes with Miranda for a long moment, the editor's mischievous eyes dared her to speak up. Andy knew better than to ruin Miranda's fun. "That's up to her."

Serena, Emily and Nigel turned to look at their boss and were amazed as the woman began to smile, small at first, then wider until she was laughing as well. "Of course I'm not serious." She waved them all to sit and spoke to Nigel matter-of-factly. "If you were truly fired you'd already be escorted out of the building." She grinned, "I had you going there for a minute or two didn't I?"

"Oh my God," Serena slumped into her seat, almost unable to believe it. "She was kidding."

Emily turned to Andrea, "You were in on this... You knew!"

Andy shook her head and chuckled, "Actually, I wasn't sure." She grinned at Miranda, "We'd only discussed the voicemail thing. When you added the part about the offices being a mess...."

Miranda licked her lips, "Yes, I'd gotten the idea to let Nigel know exactly what he could have faced had I actually been upset about the voicemail incident, but when I walked in and saw the offices looking like a rubbish tip I nearly did fire, several people." She pressed her lips together in disapproval. "Andrea reminded me that people were working long hours and did, in fact, find it necessary to eat. Therefore, this time will be overlooked. I did notice people were cleaning it up in my wake, so that at least is something. That sort of thing will not be happening again... eating at work is not against the rules, yet, but as soon as you are finished with your meal, the remains should be put away quickly, either in the break room refrigerator, or the trash." She shook her head sadly for even having to tell grown people that basic courtesy. "I will send out a memo to that effect tomorrow."

"Now," Miranda took her seat, as if she'd never been gone. "I have one hour before I need to be home to greet my children." Sliding her glasses on, the editor looked over the tops of the rims and questioned her staff. "Shall we get to work?" She picked up a folder on her desk and adjusted her glasses. She heard Emily gasp, and Serena make a tiny surprised sound, but it was Nigel who broke out of his stupor and spoke.

"That is a lovely ring." He turned to grin at Andy. "You did good, Six."

Grinning at the three of them, Andy nodded, "Take a closer look at it."

Nigel looked at Miranda and with a raised eyebrow and his upper lip caught between his teeth he silently asked permission.

With a resigned sigh, Miranda merely put down the folder and held her hand out for them to see the ring, closely.

Emily had thought it was one of the same rings Miranda always wore, she'd gasped because of the finger it was being worn on. Upon closer inspection she saw the tiny dragon outline and glared at Andrea, How dare she!! It was like she was making fun of Miranda with the stupid, but admittedly accurate, nickname the papers gave her.

"It is stunning." Serena smiled, happy for her boss and her former co-worker. She was glad that they had found each other. It gave her hope for her own romantic pursuit.

Emily was about to rant at her tall friend when Miranda's soft voice broke through her angry thoughts.

"Thank you, Serena." Miranda smiled at the beautiful make-up artist.

"It's perfect." Nigel took a deep breath, feeling a bit more like himself. He tapped a red folder on the desk. "These are the photos you wanted."

Nodding, Miranda picked up the folder and opened it. She was mildly surprised at the photos inside. Who knew there were so many beautiful police detectives in the city?

She chuckled at herself, as soon as the issue of Runway hit the stands, everyone would.

Glancing up from the folder contents she realized everyone was still standing around her desk. She waved Nigel and Serena away. "Go to work!"

They nodded and escaped quickly, Serena did glance in sympathy at Emily. Serena got to leave, but the redhead still had to remain in attendance to Miranda.

"Emily, give Andrea the invitations to hand address." She blinked and knowing full well the answer, asked. "Do you have Demarchelier?"

In mid nod in acknowledgment of giving Andrea the invitations, Emily gasped and nearly sprinted to her desk, dialing quickly. To her relief the ringing in her ear was answered quickly and she called to Miranda, "I have Patrick."

Miranda winked at Andrea and reached for the phone.

Rolling her eyes, Andy laughed and went to get the invitations from Emily.

Andy stood in front of Emily's desk, waiting for the woman to retrieve the unaddressed invitations from the locked filing cabinet.

Emily waited until she sat back down before she handed the large envelope full of the invitations up to her former co-worker. "Twenty unaddressed invitations just as Miranda ordered."

"Thanks." Andy took the envelope. She saw Emily open her mouth and close it and knew that the redhead wanted to say something. She really should give Emily the opportunity to speak her mind, whatever it was. Andy knew she owed the woman that much. "You have something to say?"

Emily responded immediately, "Yes," There was a pause then she sighed, "No..."

Dark eyes studied the seated woman for several minutes, long enough to make Emily begin to squirm. Bethany returned and delivered Miranda's coffee. When the short woman was settled back behind her desk, Andy stuck her head back in Miranda's office for a moment. "I'm gonna grab Emily for a while..." She smiled as Miranda looked up with her eyebrows raised. "I want to talk to her about the girls' party."

Miranda nodded, "Of course, Bethany can man the phones for a while." She reminded her fiancee, "We need to leave in forty-five minutes in order to be home for the girls."

"Yep, we'll be back before then." Andy blew a kiss to the editor and walked out of the office, gesturing to Emily as she went. "C'mon... I'll buy you a diet coke."

Emily followed Andy all the way downstairs but stopped short when she realized where the brunette was leading her. "The cafeteria? Do you actually intend to eat?"

"No," Andy went directly to the beverage cooler grabbing a bottled smoothie for herself. "What do you want?"

Rolling her eyes, Emily grabbed a bottle of water. She didn't protest when Andy paid for their drinks and they found an out of the way table to sit and talk, even though it was between the mid-morning break and lunch and the cafeteria was empty. "What is all this about?"

"I wanted to know how the girls' party plans are coming along."

"Bollocks..." Emily scoffed. "You could have asked me that upstairs."

Andy nodded. "Yes, but it also looked like you had something to say." Dark eyes glittered as she took a sip of her smoothie. "So, do you have something to say?" Andy exhaled softly at the woman's stubborn silence. "I'm sorry that you don't like me..."

"It's not..." Emily shook her head, "It's not that I dislike you Andrea."


"No..." Emily admitted. "I don't like what you're doing... to her." She shuddered as Andy's expression began to darken. "Not that! God, I don't even want to think about, that! I mean," she sighed, "I mean, you... this..." she glanced at the ring on Andy's finger, "It's changing her..."

"Put her back the way you found her..." Andy whispered, almost to herself... then shook the memory out of her head and spoke louder, "That's what you told me, 'Put her back the way you found her.'"

"Only you didn't." Emily accused. "You changed her even more."

"I didn't." Andy tried to defend herself, tried to explain. "This is the person she always was, Em. She just couldn't show it."

Emily glanced around the empty cafeteria, then back at Andrea. "But she shouldn't, don't you understand? She can't be all soft... joking, playing pranks at the office?... it's not right.. it's not... Miranda!"

Andy nodded, "It's not the Miranda you know."

"That's the point!" Emily squeezed the bottle in her hands, "No one should know this Miranda! No one at work anyway." She tried to make Andy understand. "This Miranda should be reserved for her family, for home."

"You can't ask her to do that, Em." Andy shook her head against the thought, "She spends too much time here, too much time as the Dragon Lady messes with her head. You can't ask that of her."

"So now you don't want her to be the Dragon Lady? Even though you gave her..." Emily pressed her lips together, unwilling to say any more.

Ah... so it is the ring that's bothering her. "She said it was, perfect." Andy watched her former co-worker closely. "I have to acknowledge that part of her Em, I have to make her understand that I love her, all of her, not just the fun, loving parts but the Dragon part too."

Emily blinked, unable to associate the words fun and loving with Miranda Priestly.

"She's been hurt too many times... I have to make her understand that I'm not going to hurt her." Andy swallowed hard, "I'm not going to leave her."

"What if you do?"

"I won't!" Andy shook her head in denial and promised herself, Emily and the absent Miranda. "I won't ever leave her, again."

"I don't know how you did it." Emily's voice was soft, almost awed. "How could you just walk away like that?"

"She gave me the choice." Andy closed her eyes remembering the events like it was yesterday, "It nearly killed me."

In an uncharacteristic show of sympathy, Emily reached out and grasped Andrea's forearm, "Her too."

Andy's throat closed around her words for a long moment, she nodded and patted the hand on her arm as Emily released her hold. "Thanks, Em." She could see that all this mushy stuff was beginning to wear on the normally taciturn woman. "So, how are the party plans going?"

Accepting the change of subject, Emily answered almost too cheerfully, "Oh... I think the girls are going to like it." Emily pulled several sheets of paper out of her ever present messenger bag. "Look at this."

Andy took the pages, her eyes widened as she read it. "Top Chef?"

"They're going to begin filming another season, the party falls at a perfect time," Emily nodded and pointed to the page. "Keep reading."

"Oh!..." Dark eyes sparkled as she realized what the contract meant and spoke slowly, "They're gonna love this!"

"I hope so." Emily was only somewhat worried but still that was enough, "I don't want to let Miranda down."

"You won't, Em." She smiled at the redhead, "Miranda has faith in you."

Well that's just the problem isn't it?! Emily thought then merely nodded and wrapped her arms around herself tightly, What if I do?


Part 19


The short woman pushed some dark hair out of her eyes and looked up to see Serena standing in front of her desk. "Oh, hello." She hoped the Brazilian would be a little talkative today, Bethany loved listening to all the accents around here.

"Where is Emily?"

The assistant was about to respond when Miranda's soft voice floated out of her office.


Bethany, sighed and watched as the tall woman moved gracefully into Miranda's office. So much for listening to her talk... She could only barely hear the woman greet their boss.

"Yes, Miranda?"

"Look at these and tell me what you think." She handed the photos that Nigel had left for her over to the make-up artist.

"Oh, for the law enforcement tribute..." Serena nodded and studied the pictures thoughtfully. "They are all quite beautiful."

"Indeed." Miranda tilted her head. "But I only need five of them, including this one, she tapped the head shot of Jo."

Nodding, Serena took Jo's photo out of the pile, setting it aside as a sure thing for the article, then continued to study the others. Taking a chance she asked. "Why are you...um..." she nearly said 'asking', "...allowing me to do this?" Miranda normally made all the decisions regarding Runway content. Of course, there was nothing to say that any suggestion Serena made would be taken.

"I am well prepared to decide what photos or layouts best show off the fashions. This is a slightly different kind of evaluation and I decided that you as the artist who will have to do their make-up should be consulted." Miranda watched Serena's eyes almost flutter and nodded at the unspoken, yet clear thought. "Yes, I did just explain my thought process to you," Miranda smiled, "and no, neither of us are going insane." A new voice from the doorway made Miranda's smile wider.

"Speak for yourself lady, I'm crazy about you." Andy laughed and apologized as a faint blush touched Serena's cheeks. "Sorry, Serena."

The tall woman smiled. "It's okay, Andy." Her eyes darted to the door, and beyond. "Some of us would give anything to tell someone we feel that way, about them."

Nodding in sympathy, Andy assured the woman. "It's easier than you think."

"Mmmm...." Miranda shut down her computer and stood as she spoke. "Yes, all it takes is...what, Andrea? A crazy stalker, a large amount of illegally administered drugs, and...a death threat or two??"

Andy found herself chuckling at the bland sarcasm in Miranda's voice. "Yeah, something like that."

Winking at her fiancee, Miranda changed the subject as she tidied her desk. "How are the party plans progressing?"

With a burst of laughter, Andy moved to wrap her arms around Miranda's waist, "You do alliteration so well..." At the twinkle in Miranda's eye, Andy relented. "Plans are going well. I've..uh.. asked Emily to start meeting me in the park, in the morning so we can go over things. It's going to be so hectic from now on, that is really the only time I know I have free."

Nodding, Miranda wrapped her arm around Andrea's waist as well. "Good idea."

"You run every morning?" Serena was enthralled at the closeness Andy and Miranda seemed to exhibit so easily.

"Yeah," Andy narrowed her eyes at the question, "Why?"

"I too run, every day, but I go to a gym, on a treadmill." Serena hesitated, then went for it. "Do you think it would be possible to run together?"

Flashing her dazzling smile at both women, Andy laughed, "That would be great!" Then her face fell and she took a long look at the woman she was supposed to run with, starting at her feet going up up up her long legs. "Uh... I hope I can keep up... you have to have a huge stride."

Serena laughed, "I think we can probably work it out."

"I run early in the morning..."

"Perfect," Serena handed the folder in her hands over to Miranda. "The five on top are my picks." She nodded once to Andy. "See you tomorrow morning?"

"Six thirty?"

"I'll be there." Serena began to walk out of the office.

Andy caught up to her between the assistant's desks. "Um... there will probably be photographers at the house. They've stopped running with me, but they're usually there at the beginning and end."

With a deep breath, Serena nodded and with barely a glance at Emily, she smiled at Andy, "Completely worth it, I think."

Miranda caught up with them, again sliding her arm around Andrea's waist. "Ready?"

"You bet." Andy winked at Serena and walked out of the office with Miranda.

"You're going to start running with Andrea?" Emily looked up at her longtime friend, unsure what that revelation was making her feel.

"Yes," Serena smiled, "So I will see you in the morning, as well as at lunch." She turned and walked out of the office.

Bethany watched her go and breathed a 'Wow'. When she looked at Emily she flinched, "Sorry, I mean... I have a boyfriend, but, Serena is really beautiful. Don't you think?"

Straightening in her seat, Emily put on her most haughty expression. "I haven't really thought about it." Not really, not for more than thirty seconds out of every minute of the day.... She was instantly angry with her co-worker for bringing it up, and with herself for being unable to stop thinking about seeing the tall Brazilian tomorrow morning. She snapped at Bethany. "Just, do your work!"

Andy tried to prepare herself as she opened the door but the tackle still took her off guard. "Oof!" she laughed and wrapped her arms around the girl clinging to her.


"Hey, Munchkin...." Andy grinned down at the child, "Why the octopus impression?"

"Did you..."

Nodding, Andy winked and made a quick motion with her head. "She's in the study."

Releasing her Ma quickly, Caroline practically sprinted to the study. Cassidy was just coming through the door and saw her sister disappear through the study door. "Is she?"

With another nod, Andy grinned as Cassidy took off after her sister, calling back over her shoulder. "Good to see you, Ma."

Miranda looked up from her seat in the large armchair as Caroline barreled into the room. "Where's the fire?!"

"Can I see it??" Caroline's face fell as her mother frowned. "Sorry," The girl wrapped her arms around her mom's shoulders and kissed her cheek. "I'm glad to see you, Mom..." Caroline licked her lips, "Can I see it?"

Chuckling, Miranda held out her hand for her daughter to examine the recently acquired ring.

"Oh, wow..." Caroline's eyes glittered, reflecting the diamond bits on the tiny dragon's back. "That is so cool!"

"Let me see!" Cassidy rushed into the room and shoved her sister over so that she could get a better look at the ring. "Oh, it turned out awesome!" She sighed, "Ma was so upset when it was delayed."

"What?" This was news to Miranda. "When was this?"

Caroline pressed her lips together, but Cassidy spoke. "After the charity thing, when your stuff was..." Her eyes widened and stopped talking quickly.

Andy cleared her throat as she walked up behind the girls. Laying her hand on Cassidy's shoulder, Andy sighed, "Thank you Cassidy, I haven't had a chance to tell Miranda that story yet."

"Oh..." Cassidy looked up at Andy with her big blue eyes. "Sorry, Ma."

With a wink and a grin, Andy eased the girl's worry. "S'okay, Sweetie, I was going to tell her. It just hasn't come up."

Now Miranda was intrigued. "Tell me what, Andrea?"

Waving off the question, Andy assured Miranda. "Later... right now I think the girls have some gifts to open." With a gesture to the low coffee table, where the two small suitcases were positioned, Andy grinned at the girls. "G'wan." Andy settled onto the arm of the chair Miranda was seated in and they watched as the girls began to sort through their presents.

Miranda motioned to the figure in the doorway. "Come in, James." She gestured to the other chair in the room. She wondered for a moment if the man found it strange to be in the company of his ex-wife and her, very female, lover, but then the girls had dug through the layers of trinkets and stuffed animals to find the dresses. Her attention was diverted by their squeals of delight and their chorus of appreciation. "Thanks, Mom!"

"It's beautiful." "It's great!" They held the dresses up to themselves and nodded as they realized each one was just what they liked.

For a while, as they assumed all twins parents did, they had gotten duplicate outfits. Their father still did that. They figured it was because he had no clue about girl's clothes and simply bought duplicates for them to speed up the process of shopping. Their mother on the other hand had been buying them clothing tailored to their individual personalities for several years, in addition to the occasional duplicate outfit.

Laying the dresses aside they continued looking through the small cases and squealed again as they came to the folded denim at the bottom. Again they spoke simultaneously, "Thanks, Ma!"

"This is awesome!" "So cool!" Again, they held the jeans against them to get an idea of what they'd be like on.

Andy chuckled as Miranda spoke with a slightly petulant tone, "How do you know they aren't from me?"

The looks the girls threw at their mother nearly had Andy falling off the chair, laughing. "They know you too well! No way you'd buy them jeans!"

"I have nothing against blue jeans." Miranda sighed, "I just don't tend to frequent places that deem them, appropriate."

James chuckled, "I can't imagine you in jeans, Mira."

Andy's hand dropped to the white hair, running her fingers through it gently. Partially because she'd seen the bristle at the nickname, and partially because Andy loved the feel of it. She grinned as her fiancee looked up at her, "It is a sight to behold."

"You," James' eyes widened, "Wore a pair of jeans... in public?"

"Semi-public," Miranda smiled up at the love of her life then focused on their guest, "It was a backyard, in Cincinnati. A backyard cookout seemed an appropriate place for jeans." At the man's confused look, Miranda spelled it out for him. "We went to visit Andrea's family, the gathering was for her birthday."

"You, wore jeans... to a backyard barbecue?!" James looked at Andy, with anxious eyes. "Please, God, tell me you got pictures."

Andy grinned and winked at James, then schooled her features blank as Miranda looked up at her. She winced as the blue eyes narrowed in suspicion and Andy smiled weakly. "Uh..." she offered, "I love you?" She smiled wider as Miranda burst out laughing.

"You are so ridiculous sometimes."

"Can we go try our stuff on?" While their parents had been talking, they'd repacked their cases and were now ready to take their haul up to their rooms.

Stuff, Miranda sighed, "Of course," She watched her children leave, talking excitedly between themselves. From the corner of her eyes she saw a wistful look on Andrea's face as she too watched the girls leaving. We'll have to have that talk soon.

"So," James studied the pair. "I take it you had a good time in London?"

Miranda nodded. "It was enlightening." In some ways, not enough in others.

"It was amazing!" Andy grinned. "We're gonna take the girls back one of these days."

"They've always liked traveling," James smiled. "You should go for more than a few days, there is a lot to explore in England, not just London."

Miranda agreed, "Yes, but this trip was for a specific purpose."

James licked his lips and spoke quietly, "So, you actually got to meet the family?" He had never met them, but he had heard their names on occasion.

Andy nodded slowly, "Yeah, the girls have some new little cousins..."

James looked shocked and Miranda clarified. "Natalie's girl, Dinah, gave birth twins recently."

"Ah," James exhaled noisily and pushed up out of the seat, "Well, I should be going..."

"You could stay..." Miranda offered. "I'm sure the girls would like it if you joined us for lunch."

"Oh," He shook his head, "I appreciate the offer, but I need to be getting back." He hesitated then sighed, "Candice has Lamaze class this afternoon, I um..." he winced and tried not to look at Miranda, "I told her I'd be there."

Andy felt the air in the room chill and she stood as Miranda did.

"Very well." Miranda pressed her lips together, then nodded once, "I'll just go get the girls so they can say goodbye." She walked out of the room quickly.

James started after her, "Mira..." He found himself stopped by strong hands gripping his arm. Swinging around brought him face to face with dark, unsympathetic eyes.

"I'll take care of her," She told him in no uncertain terms. Something had just happened that hurt Miranda and Andy meant to keep it from happening again. "It would be best for you to just leave after you say goodbye to the girls."

"I didn't mean to upset her..."

Nodding, Andy patted his arm and took control of herself, a bit of warmth seeping back into her eyes. She did actually like the man, and the girls loved him. "I'll calm her down... we'll talk later."

"Good luck." He vividly recalled Miranda's moods and wouldn't want to be in Andy's shoes for anything right now. The girls rushing down the stairs drew his attention and he started his goodbyes as Andy walked up the stairs to find the irate woman.


Andy moved into the sunroom slowly. She settled into the chair next to the one Miranda was rocking in. She didn't speak, she just sat and looked out at the blue sky with the fluffy clouds drifting past. They sat for a long moment in silence before the girls found them.

"Dad left..." Caroline sat on the arm of the chair Andy was in. "... can we watch some TV?"

Andy glanced at Miranda, sitting with Cassidy snuggling in by her side. "I dunno, I was thinking maybe a movie. You guys wanna go pick one out?"

Caroline whispered, "Is Mom sad?"

"I dunno, Munchkin..." Andy sighed, "Give us a minute and I'll try to find out."

Nodding Caroline, climbed down off the chair and gestured to her sister. "C'mon, Cass... Let's go pick out a movie."

Cassidy protested, but went with her sister.

Alone again, Andy asked quietly. "Do you want to talk about it?"


Nodding, Andy pressed her lips together and smiled before responding, "Okay." Silence again occupied the space between them broken by the rhythmic sound of Miranda rocking in the chair and an occasional overly loud exhale. When Miranda finally spoke, it was so quiet, Andy wasn't sure if she was supposed to hear it or not.

"I begged him."

Swallowing hard, Andy held her lips together with her fingers, not wanting to interrupt Miranda.

Glancing over at her companion, Miranda appreciated the effort the woman was making to stay silent. "When I was pregnant with the girls, I... begged, James to go to those classes with me."

"And he didn't??"


Andy was appalled, How could he do that? "I'm so sorry, Miranda." I would have been there for you. Andy watched as Miranda seemed to struggle with herself then found herself astonished at Miranda's next statement.

"I would be there for you," Blue eyes turned to the young woman next to her, darting quickly to her flat stomach before refocusing on wide dark eyes. "If you were to ever...want..." Another quick glance at Andrea's stomach was all Miranda could take before she looked completely away. Andrea filled in the last words in a high pitched squeak.

"A baby?" Andy blinked as Miranda nodded, still unable to look her direction. Andy moved out of her seat, dropping to her knees in front of Miranda's chair. Reaching up, she gently forced the woman's attention to her. "What makes you think I want a baby?"

"I..." Miranda took a deep breath, trying not to get lost in the dark eyes studying her. "I saw you with Dinah's babies in London." She felt her heart clench at the memory. I do not want another child. Miranda had realized that in London. She thought her current situation was as close to perfect as she could ever expect to achieve. That life, however, included Andrea and Miranda knew in her heart that she would and could, support Andrea in any decision the young woman made. If Andrea chose to have a child, Miranda would live with it, she would have to, because living without Andrea, if that was even possible, would only be surviving, not living at all. "Even Asher could see the softness in your face as you looked at the infant in your arms..."

"Miranda..." Andy shifted again, sitting on the arm of the overstuffed rocking chair, "You saw the look on my face and thought I wanted a baby of my own?" She waited for Miranda to confirm the yes answer with a nod. "Oh, Miranda..."

"It's only natural, Andrea. You're young, the desire to have children is perfectly normal, especially when confronted with two such cute infants." Miranda closed her eyes as Andrea's arms slid around her shoulders. "It's just... I didn't know if I..."

"Shhh..." Andy kissed the top of Miranda's head and rested her cheek there. "My turn to talk." She smiled as Miranda remained silent. "The look you saw was, in fact, me wishing that I could have babies of my own...the problem you see, is that I don't want to have babies with anyone other than you."

"Andrea.. I.."

"Shhh..." Andy pressed her fingers gently against Miranda's lips. "Still me talking." She smiled softly and repeated, "I only want children with you and in case you haven't noticed... We already have children. What you saw was me wishing that I had been there when Caroline and Cassidy were small." She sighed and felt her eyes tearing up. "I've missed so much of their lives Miranda.... their first smiles, their first laughs... first steps... potty training... the first time they tried strained peas... the first time they went to a real restaurant...their first piano recital..." Andy took a deep breath, "I love them so much, and I've missed everything..."

Miranda shifted, pulling Andrea down from the arm of the chair until the young woman wasn't exactly sitting on her lap, but it was very close. The dark head rested on her shoulders. "I missed all those things too." I was too busy with work. She held the upset woman close. "But it doesn't mean I don't love them any less, or that they don't love me." One arm dropped to hold the legs draped over hers in place. "There will be many more 'firsts' to deal with." She recalled something from just a few days ago, "You've already helped Cassidy with her first crush."

"Well, not exactly helped..." Andy had told Miranda about the teacher worship Cassidy was exhibiting toward Ms. Bax, but only after she'd checked the woman out and found absolutely nothing to be concerned over as her initial instinct had told her.

"She will move on to someone else eventually, crushes come and go." Miranda turned to direct her focus on Andy, "Love is forever."

"Oh god," Andy thought, "We've still got a lot of firsts to go through... first boyfriend..." or girlfriend in Cassidy's case.

Miranda nodded. "First heartache..."

"First time driving..."

"First date..."

"Date?!" Andy wriggled free and stood with her hands on her hips, "Date? When are they going to be allowed to date?"

Miranda laughed, "You were okay with 'first boyfriend' but 'first date' has you upset?"

"You can have a boyfriend," or girlfriend, "in school, Miranda... someone to walk to class with, sit with in the cafeteria or in the gym at school functions... but a date??" Andy shook her head. "I don't like it."

Miranda laughed and stood. "They'll have to date at some point Andrea... just the same as any of us. The age James and I have previously agreed upon is sixteen for individual dates. I'm sure there will be group outings before that..." Linking her arm in her fiancee's, Miranda began leading the concerned woman downstairs. "Right now you and I have a movie waiting on us and then I will need to return to the office for a while."

Nodding, Andy followed Miranda down to the television room, where Caroline and Cassidy already had the movie cued up, and had even sweet talked Peggy into making some popcorn. Munching on a handful of the snackies, Andy curled up on the couch next to Miranda and settled in to watch the movie. Caroline had picked a live action version of Alice in Wonderland this time, Andy wondered if the girls did that on purpose, edging away from the more cartoony shows, but still holding on to the fantasy aspect.

"Andy, wake up!" Caroline shook the sleeping woman's shoulders trying to stay away from the long flailing arms. "Wake up, Ma!"

With a gasp, Andy sat straight up on the couch. "Caroline?" She looked around, "Where's Miranda?" She glanced at the clock, "Oh, she went to the office?"

Nodding Caroline let out a sigh of relief, "Yeah, she left a while ago. She said not to wake you, but I think you were having a nightmare."

"Oh, yeah, sorry Munchkin... " She ran her fingers through her hair and tried to recall any of the images that were now fading from her mind. "I wish I could remember..." she sighed, "It's already fading."

"You don't remember anything?"

Andy wasn't about to tell Caroline about the vague feeling of loss she always had when she woke up from one of these nightmares, the sense that Miranda had not been there with her. A wisp of an image floated through her mind this time though, "I think there was something...about babies."

"Babies?" Caroline was aghast, "You aren't pregnant are you?"

"No!" Andy laughed at the exaggerated relief Caroline pantomimed. "Your mother and I were talking about babies before the movie..."

"But you're not pregnant."

"Who's pregnant?" Cassidy walked into the room with a bag of chips and two cokes. She looked at Andy with an expression very close to horror, "Are you pregnant?!"

"No!" Andy laughed, "I am not now, nor do I have any plans to become, pregnant!"

"Oh..." Cassidy rolled her eyes, "Thank God." Then she froze in place. "Is Mom?"

Covering her eyes, Andy couldn't help but laugh at that. "No," She managed to speak between the spasms of laughter. "Miranda is not pregnant either." She took a deep breath and calmed herself. "Do you even know how women get pregnant?"

Cassidy shrugged, "Sure."

Caroline informed Andy. "We asked Mom once... she told us the most horrible, disgusting story we'd ever heard... I swear, I'm surprised we aren't traumatized by it."

Cassidy piped up, cheerfully, "We may still be..." She shuddered comically at the memory.

Andy laughed unable to even begin to imagine what Miranda would have told the curious girls. "So when did you find out the truth?"

Caroline shook her head sadly and with barely a glance at her sister, the girl put her hand on Andy's shoulder, solemnly informing her. "Ma... that was the truth."

Laughing again, Andy pushed herself off the couch and stretched her arms over her head, "You doing another movie?"

"Nah," Cassidy picked up a game controller. "Video games."

"Uh huh..." Andy reminded them, "Don't play too long. You have a study group tomorrow, have you read the book you all picked out yet?" She grinned at their exchanged glances and knowing their usual habit of each reading half then filling the other in on the details, asked, "... at least your half of it?"

"We'll read it later, Ma," Caroline turned to the game and the next two words came out of both girls simultaneously.

"We promise."


Part 20


Within ten seconds Emily stood in front of Miranda's desk. "Yes, Miranda?"

"Contact accounting. Let them know that I'm still waiting for those numbers I asked for, and that I will not wait much longer. Double check the car for Mila, and confirm tomorrow's lunch reservation at that place Andrea likes. Also, tell the Art Department if they wish to take their time with the Book tonight, don't, I want it by nine." She waved her hands in a shooing motion, "That's all."

"Yes, Miranda." Emily left quickly and as she returned to her seat informed Bethany. "You're going to have an early night tonight, Miranda wants the Book by nine."

"Really?" Bethany beamed and thought. Cool! It's our anniversary tonight, if I'm home by nine-thirty Tony and I can still have a romantic evening together! The short woman looked up as Miranda walked out of her office.

"Forget contacting accounting," The editor paused in front of Emily's desk. "I will speak with them myself." Turning to Bethany she instructed, "Coffee when I return."

Bethany nodded, "Yes, Miranda... and thank you."

With the barest of winks and the tiniest of smiles, Miranda turned and stalked out of the office.


Looking up from her laptop screen, Andy smiled. "Peggy... What can I do for you?"

"Um... I um... while you were gone... gathered the mail. I, um... put most of it on Miranda's desk..." The housekeeper watched the brunette's smile falter.

"Oh..." Andy saw the envelopes in Peggy's hand and quickly grabbed the marker next to her notepad on the desk. She held out her hand, in an unconscious imitation of Miranda. "How many were there?"

"One every day," Peggy handed the envelopes over, "Monday, Tuesday, Today..."

"Thanks." Andy began writing on the envelopes 'Return to Sender', "I talked to my police officer friend about it, and she gave me a number to call." Looking up at the kind woman, Andy smiled. "I would like to be the one to tell Miranda about this."

Nodding, Peggy agreed. "Of course." She watched as Andy finished writing the return to sender instructions on each of the envelopes, tucked them into the pocket of her laptop carrying case, to be mailed tomorrow and then smeared a glob of antibacterial gel on her hands.

"Um... I was wondering if you cared... if I took off early..." Peggy wrung her own hands in front of her. "I have some... something to take care of."

Wriggling her fingers to dry the germ killing stuff between them, Andy asked, "Anything I can do to help?" She worried, the housekeeper was a very nice woman and was quite a good friend.

"No... I..." She sighed, "My son and his...wife are in the middle of a divorce, and they need someone to watch the baby while they talk to the lawyer." Peggy looked apologetic, his other grandma has him right now, but she can't watch him after five, she has...other things to do." Licking her lips, Peggy pressed her hands together, "I hope they get it all settled soon and get him into a daycare somewhere."

"Ah." Babies everywhere... Andy thought. "Sure, you can take off early." She thought for a second and added, "I'll talk to Miranda about it, but I'm sure that if you need him to be here with you from time to time it wouldn't be a problem."

"Thank you," Peggy released a long exhale. "I hope it doesn't come to that. He's not exactly a 'baby', he's almost three...kind of destructive."

Andy winced at that, but nodded and smiled as she assured the woman. "It'll work out."

Peggy smiled. "Thanks, Andy. Vegetable lasagna is in the oven. It will be done at six. Breadsticks are in the warming drawer. Salad is in the fridge, you just have to put the dressing on." She hurried out of the room to gather her things and leave.

Andy reached for her phone and fished through her notes for the number Jo had given her. A brief conversation with the warden at the correctional facility Judy was being held at resulted in a promise to look into the matter. Which meant, most likely nothing would get done about it. It also meant that he really didn't understand the precariousness of his situation, because Andy knew if nothing was done, Miranda would go over his head to deal with the problem. She decided to take a wait and see attitude, writing 'Return to Sender' on the envelopes actually had a bit of a therapeutic effect on her. Still, any contact at all with the woman was too much and Andy wanted it stopped. After the trial she had never wanted to think about Judy again but it seemed the woman had other plans. Shaking off the disturbing image of Judy in her jail cell plotting revenge on Miranda, Andy turned her attention back to her work.

She was just finishing the article she'd been working on when a knock on the door frame and a quiet voice interrupted her.


Blinking to refocus her eyes, Andy looked up, "What's up, Munchkin?" She patted the space on the couch next to her. Caroline hadn't had a fever or an upset stomach for several weeks now, but the girl had a tendency to have both fairly frequently, as some kids do. "You feeling okay?"

"Yeah... I'm okay." Caroline sat down then sighed and gave in to the urge to snuggle next to Andy. "I'm sorry."

Andy dropped her arm around the girl's shoulder. "Sorry for what?"

"For earlier, about... about when I thought you might be pregnant." Caroline shook her head, "It just would have been..." Her voice lowered. "I wouldn't have liked it." She admitted, "What if..." Hesitating for a moment, Caroline blurted, "What if you loved the baby more than us?" More than me.

"Whoa!" Jostling the girl under her arm, Andy emphasized her words, "That would never happen. I love you, and Cassidy so much..." Glancing up, Andy thought for half a second she could actually see a lightbulb over her head. "You're upset because of Candice?" She waited for Caroline's nod. "You think your Dad is going to stop loving you when the baby is born?"

Caroline shrugged. "I dunno."

"Does Cassidy feel that way too?" Andy wondered why they hadn't both come to talk to her.

"No, Cass thinks I'm being stupid." Caroline shrugged, "She doesn't want the baby any more than I do, but she just thinks it's embarrassing for Dad to be having a baby at his age. She's not convinced that Candice is even pregnant or if she is that it's even his. She always worries about what the press will write."

"You aren't being stupid." Andy assured Caroline. "It's only natural to think about what's going to happen after the baby is born." She kissed the top of Caroline's head, "Things will change, but your dad loves you so much... a baby won't change that."

"But, how do you know?"

Dark eyes twinkled. "Experience." She tapped the girl's nose. "Chad is seven years younger than me, I remember when he was born and I was thinking all the same stuff you are..."

"You were?"

"Yup," Andy rested her head on Caroline's and spoke quietly, "But Daddy took me aside and explained, that love isn't limited, it grows as your family grows, so no matter how many people there are, you always have enough love for everyone."

She worked very hard not to think about how her 'daddy' felt about her now. "Nothing will make me, your Mom or your Dad love you any less..." She repeated the word, low and intense, "Nothing."

"Quite right."

Andy jumped and both she and Caroline looked over at the doorway, where Miranda stood. "Sheesh, Miranda! How'd you walk on the hardwood floor so quietly?" She'd been so focused on Caroline she hadn't heard the door open either.

Miranda laughed and lifted her hand, her shoes, that she had removed immediately inside the door, dangled from two fingers. "These will never be featured in Runway again!"

"Awww..." Andy gestured the older woman over to the couch. "Poor Miranda."

Caroline shifted so that she was sandwiched between Andy and her mother, "We get to have dinner together tonight?"

"Yes, my darling, I'm home for the evening." Miranda smiled, a bit of sorrow tinging her eyes as the girl seemed inordinately pleased by what should be a common occurrence. She barely had time to lean into the kiss Caroline placed on her cheek before the girl ran out of the room to inform her sister of the dinner plans.

Andy chuckled, "They're good kids, Miranda. You did good." She absently hooked her hand under the older woman's knees, shifting the shapely legs around. Resting the woman's aching feet on her thighs, Andy began a gentle massage. "So... Rough day?"

Swallowing hard at the sensations running through her, Miranda closed her eyes and nodded. "Yes."

With a sigh, Andy began, "This probably isn't the right time to tell you..." Her phone ringing stopped the confession. She answered it with a smile. "Ma?"

"Hi, Sweetie," Dorothy spoke quickly. "We've booked a flight to New York for Friday... do you have a pen?"

Andy patted Miranda's feet and when they were moved off her lap, leaned forward to reach her laptop. She opened a new document and told her mother, "Yeah, go." she nodded and typed as her mother conveyed the flight information. "Great, Ma... yeah, I got it." She smiled wider, "I'll see you then." She was about to put the phone down when it rang again. A glance at the screen raised her eyebrows as she pushed the connect button, "Yes, hello?"

"Andrea, I just got off the phone with the people at Good Morning America," Emily paused, "Oh, and, hello. Anyway, the GMA people are very excited to have you on the show, as are Regis and Kelly, and the women of the View."

"All of them?" Andy bit her lower lip, "When?"

"Yes, all of them, on Monday. It's very simple because they are all in the same building and they film right after one another... so you do GMA first, then Regis and Kelly, then The View... you're done by noon." Emily exhaled, "Now for the bad news, you must, and I cannot emphasize this enough... you must be at the ABC building by five on Monday morning... at the latest. Do you understand? You have to be there then." She continued, "And you must go in as soon as possible to have your wardrobe chosen and get some promo shots for the ads over the weekend."

Andy laughed, "Emily, if you or anyone else thinks that anyone besides Miranda is going to decide my wardrobe, you all have another think coming." Andy winked at her fiancee's rolling eyes and reached out to hold her hand, "No one but the Miranda Priestly herself dresses me," a wicked smile crossed Andy's face as Miranda's raising eyebrows forced her to add, "or undresses me for that matter." Andy rolled her eyes at Miranda's short nod and smug expression. After a few seconds of silence Emily's exasperated scoff changed her smile to a smirk.

"I don't care what you wear or who tells you to wear it... just be there!" Emily audibly shifted the phone to her other ear. "I will see you in the park tomorrow morning?"

"Yes, we should be there by seven." Andy winked at Miranda, knowing what Emily's next question would be and imagined she heard Emily licking her lips before the British woman's voice sounded in her ear.

"So, Serena is still going to run with you?"

"Yes, as far as I know her plans haven't changed." Andy nudged the woman slightly, "If you would rather she not be there..."

"What?" Emily tried to sound as disinterested as possible. "Why would I care one way or the other?"

"I dunno, Em," Andy chuckled, "Serena seems quite nice, I didn't figure you'd have any problems with it, I mean, you two are friends right?"

"Yes," Feeling her heart sink a little, Emily repeated the word, "friends." She looked across her workspace at Bethany. "Well, Bethany is here waiting for the Book and I am going home. Until tomorrow then, ta."

Andy opened her mouth to tell the woman goodbye when the silence on the phone made her look at the screen, 'call disconnected'. "Huh, ta to you too." Shrugging she tossed the phone back to the coffee table and pulled Miranda's feet to their previous position. "Where were we?"

"Do you plan on telling me what all that was about?" Miranda indicated the phone.

"Sure," Andy smiled as she focused on Miranda's lovely feet, gently kneading the muscles there as she spoke, relating first her family's travel plans, then her scheduled appearances on the talk shows.

Somewhere in the middle of Andrea's recitation, Miranda again closed her eyes and shifted enough to rest her head on the arm of the sofa. When Andrea stopped relating the plans that had been dictated by the phone calls, Miranda luxuriated in the foot massage for a moment longer then opened one eye to see the woman's response to her next question. "Now, what was it you were about to tell me before the phone rang?" As she suspected, the hands on her feet, stilled.

"You caught that, eh?" Andy again shifted the feet off her lap and used the time it took to liberally cover her hands with antibacterial gel to think about what she was going to tell Miranda. Oddly enough, the older woman waited patiently, seemingly content to relax on the sofa while Andy contemplated her words.

In fact, the total opposite was happening, Miranda was not relaxed at all. The longer Andrea remained silent, Miranda's tension grew. When the young woman finally spoke, Miranda felt dizzy, letting out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.

Reaching into her laptop case, Andy pulled out the letters and handed them over. "These have been arriving in the mail since the trial."

Miranda sat up and took the envelopes from Andrea's hand and Andy watched as the older woman's expression went from curiosity to anger as she read the return address then unexpectedly, a bit of hurt began to seep in. Oh God, no... she couldn't think... "I don't want them! I didn't ask for them! I don't want to have anything to do with her, ever!" Andy could see the editor's hand shaking and continued speaking, "I've returned every one of them unopened and I called the...warden I guess you'd call him... I told him I wanted them stopped!"

"Of course," Miranda's voice shook every bit as much as her hand's trembled, "I didn't think..." She began the lie, it was poised there on the tip of her tongue and she bit it back.

Andy tensed, she heard the beginning of the blatant lie, Miranda was about to deny thinking that she and Judy were connected, but the woman had clearly thought it. Andy, waited, there was one chance for Miranda to fix this, one chance for Miranda not to lie. The problem was, Andy wasn't sure what she would do if Miranda insisted on that course of action. Her heart pounded in her chest, waiting to see what the older woman decided to do. Will she deny it? She watched those lovely blue eyes close as Miranda spoke.

"I only considered the possibility for a second," Miranda opened her eyes, willing Andrea to accept this truth, "I didn't think it was true."

Andy swallowed hard and nodded, shifting to lean against the woman, resting her dark head against her fiancee's shoulder. "I would never hurt you, Miranda, just the thought of it makes me nauseous." She kissed the neck so close to her lips, "My tummy hurts now, just from that bit I saw in your eyes."

Pulling the young woman down, Miranda wrapped her arms around Andrea, running her fingers through the deep brown hair soothingly, "Shhh... It's okay, I'm fine, you're fine... we, we are fine, Andrea." Miranda's voice soothed the woman's fears. "We will deal with this, situation as we deal with all of them, together." She felt Andrea relax in her arms and asked, "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

Draping her arm over Miranda's waist, Andy snuggled closer, "I didn't want to worry you, print deadline was coming up and you were so busy, I was going to wait until Sunday, but then you whisked me off to England and it just didn't seem to be the right time..."

"But you told someone?" Miranda wasn't sure she liked the idea of Andrea confiding such important things to anyone other than herself.

"I told Jo, when we had lunch." Andy's breathing evened out. She loved laying next to Miranda on the couch. "That's when she gave me the warden's number..."

So much had happened since that day, it seemed so long ago, but it was only last week. "What did the Good Detective have to speak to you about?"

"Oh!" With the whirlwind trip and everything, she'd almost forgotten. "She wanted to talk to me about Blair."

"Oh?" Miranda craned her neck to see Andrea's face. "Is everything alright with them?"

"Not really," Andy grinned, "And it's kinda your fault."

"My fault!?" The older woman laughed, "I fail to see how that could be possible."

"It's because of your comment, about Blair designing clothes... she, um, can't get it out of her head." Andy grinned, "She's been working like a demon creating new designs and Jo wanted to know if you could spare some time for her to have a showing." Nodding at the widening blue eyes, Andy continued, "I told Jo I'd discuss it with you. Apparently, Blair is obsessed with the idea."

"Andrea, I don't know if..."

"I know..." Andy knew what Miranda was going to say, "I told Jo that when it came to fashion you would not pull any punches, that if you liked something you would say so... and if you didn't...."

"I will convey that as well." The fashion icon thought for a moment about that, it was an interesting situation. The designers had never actually been Miranda's friend before, acquaintance of course, Donatella was the closest she'd ever been to this situation but her approval or disapproval of anything the Versace designers created didn't usually affect Donatella one way or the other. This would be an actual friend.

"Jo wants that." Andy explained, "She knows Blair is good, but she isn't sure that she's that good."

Miranda licked her lips, "If she can be ready by the end of next week, I'll take a look at what she has."

"Really?" Andy rolled her eyes, "Nevermind. Okay, I'll set it up."

"Mom... Andy..." Cassidy came barreling into the room, skidding to a halt when she saw the position they were in, laying on the couch. "Argh... my eyes!"

Andy laughed, "Awww...C'mon, Sweetie... we're dressed and everything."

Miranda's eyes twinkled at her daughter, "It could have been worse."

"Ugh!" Cassidy wiped her hand over her face. "Dinner is ready, the timer went off a little while ago. Ro and I set the table."

"You're gonna be on TV!?" Andy mimicked the girls' reaction to the news as she stood at her side of the sink scrubbing the minimal make-up off her face for the night. She was glad the girls were so thrilled, but she was still terrified at the prospect. It was the best thing though, the fastest way to reach the most people, to counteract the crap Stephen was saying in the papers.

"They were quite excited." Miranda too concentrated on the make-up removal process. "You didn't have to tell them that they could accompany you to the studio tomorrow."

Andy paused for half a second then continued her task. "I just thought they'd enjoy it." And be my personal twin security blanket. She put down the washcloth. "Um... if you don't want them to go..."

"Oh," Miranda scoffed and nodded, "Of course... make me the villain, telling them they can't go do something fun and exciting."

"Miranda?" Andy's heart was pounding now, she had made the offer to the girls without thinking anything about it past the girls enjoyment of it and her need for company. Is she really upset? "It is your decision... I only..."

"Andrea," Miranda finished her task and turned to face the young woman, "You have always been a part of the decision making process regarding the girls."

"I have?" Andy thought back and she realized that Miranda was right. Even when it seemed like it was Miranda making the call, the woman always sought Andy's agreement with the decision before anything was done. Even as far back as that last time Caroline had been sick. She remembered thinking something seemed weird then and now she knew what. Miranda wanted to keep her out of school the next day, but she asked me about it first. Reaching out, Andy pulled Miranda into a tight embrace. Miranda's silk nightgown sliding against Andy's soft pajamas generated heat wherever they touched and Andy whispered, "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For allowing me to... be a part of the girls' lives." Andy smoothed her hands up Miranda's back, "For allowing me to love them, too."

Miranda pulled away slightly to look into the brunette's dark eyes, "I allow nothing, you are a part of their lives because they want you to be. They allow it, Andrea, because they love you, almost as much as I do." As she drowned in the dark gaze, Miranda thought, No one can love you as much as I do.

Andy smiled at the words and lost herself in Miranda-blue. She gently traced the outline of Miranda's freshly washed face. "Do you know how beautiful you are?"

"Andrea," Miranda closed her eyes and leaned into the touch, "I'm nothing special."

"Oh my god, Miranda," Andy whispered, "You're everything special." Turning the older woman gently to look into the mirror, Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda's waist and peered over her shoulder. "Can't you see?"

Miranda was trembling and she knew Andrea could feel it, she swallowed past the lump in her throat and managed to ask. "What do you see, Andrea?"

"I see, you. My Miranda." Andy smiled and kissed Miranda's cheek gently. "The most intelligent, most amazing, most phenomenal woman I've ever met."

"Look closer, Andrea." Miranda lifted her chin slightly and asked. "Do you see the wrinkles?"

"Yes, I see them," Andy's dark eyes roamed over the reflection before meeting Miranda's eyes in the glass, "and I love every one of them."

"How can you possibly..." say that, mean that...

Shifting around, Andy blocked Miranda's view of herself. Leaning back against the sink counter, Andy looked into Miranda's real eyes. "You, are the most incredible person, and I love every single thing about you."

Miranda was lost in Andrea's dark eyes, the sensation of the brunette's long arms around her, the feel of her warm breath caressing her face. She was so mesmerized that she didn't realize they'd moved until the backs of her legs hit the bed. It wasn't unwelcome by any means, but the thought crossed Miranda's mind, What has brought this on? Forcing her mind to function, Miranda realized what they had been discussing before Andrea's declarations of undying love began. She's scared of going on television. Not for the first time, Miranda cursed Stephen. She knew though, that it was the younger woman that needed reassurance about upcoming events and her own insecurities would wait.

In a move that was suspiciously martial arts in nature, Miranda fell back onto the bed, bringing Andrea down with her. Quickly flipping the younger woman to her back, covering the brunette's body with her own, Miranda grinned. "Every single thing?"

Reaching up, Andy threaded her fingers through the soft white hair. "I'm going to have to learn this karate stuff aren't I?"

Laughing, Miranda allowed herself to be pulled down for a kiss. "Mmmm... I don't know, I rather like having this one small advantage over you."

Andy found Miranda's ear to whisper, "I like it too." Miranda's low laugh in her ear sizzled down Andy's spine. I like it a lot. Miranda's next words drew a whimper from the brunette.

"Let's just see what else you like..."

Arching into the touch, Andy moaned appreciatively and looked into Miranda's smoldering blue eyes as the older woman began to unbutton the pajamas Andy wore, "I love you."

Miranda nodded and parted the fabric to expose ample amounts of skin. Dipping her head down to taste the offered flesh, Miranda smiled against the softness she found, "I love you too, Andrea."

Miranda closed her eyes tightly, unwilling to wake up just yet but the owner of the annoyingly cheery, sing-song voice had other ideas.


"Andrea," Miranda kept her eyes closed, "It is wholly obscene how cheerful you are this morning."

Andy sat on the edge of the bed to put on her running shoes and laughed, "Miranda, what you did to me last night was obscene..." She grinned as one blue eye opened to peek at her and a smug look crossed Miranda's face, "My cheerfulness this morning is 'wholly' understandable."

Miranda laughed and shifted, the unexpected ache that accompanied the move drew an involuntary groan from the older woman.

"Ohhh... my poor Miranda..." Andy leaned over to kiss the woman's cheek, "I have to go, Serena will be here any minute for our run."

"Is it that late?" Miranda had no idea she'd slept so long. Another shift pulled another groan from her. "Remind me never to do that again."

"Ha!" Andy grinned, knowing exactly what that Miranda was referring to, "Not a chance..." She ran her fingers through Miranda's soft hair and smiled, "It's not like I need a repeat performance any time soon though." Miranda's surprised expression made her laugh, "I need a certain amount of recovery time too." Dark eyes twinkled at the smirking woman, "I have to go, is there anything you want me to tell Em or Serena?"

"Tell Emily she is fired."

Andy chuckled, "What for this time?"

"For drawing you from our bed at this early hour."

Miranda sounded completely serious but Andy knew she wasn't, it was sweet and a little terrifying as the editor continued in her I'm-not-kidding bored tone.

"I don't know why I've put up with her for this long anyway."

"Yes, you do." Andy shrugged at Miranda's 'enlighten me' look. "You love her."

Rolling her eyes at that, Miranda laughed, "Well of course I do." She ran her fingers through her hair, "Why else would I keep such a total neurotic in my employ?"

Andy had actually been halfway teasing, she blinked at Miranda's admission. "So.. you and... Emily?" A full ringing genuine Miranda-laugh met that question.

"No, my Darling... not like that..." Ignoring the muscle twinges, Miranda shifted to sit with her back to the headboard and smiled. "Picture Emily, blonde."

Andy narrowed her eyes in concentration, it was a stretch, but she managed the visual, "Okay."

Miranda nodded once, "Now, put a child in her arms."

That was a little harder, but Andy concentrated and then suddenly she understood. "Dinah!... Emily reminds you of Dinah."

"Yes," Miranda admitted, "She always has."

It hadn't been too long prior to Emily's first interview that Miranda had been introduced to her full grown niece. Natalie's silence after their mother's death had robbed Miranda of her family, but even with her stunningly red hair, the resemblance to Dinah had caught Miranda's attention. It was the main reason she had hired the young woman. Luckily the redhead had worked out rather well, even with her neuroses.

Andy smiled and rose from the bed then turned to lean over and kiss Miranda gently on the cheek. "You're such a softie." A scoff from Miranda garnered her another kiss and as Andy moved away she winked, "I have a bath ready for you. Thought you might want to relax and soak for a bit before you went in to the office."

Even the thought of being surrounded by the swirling water was helpful. Her words stopped the younger woman as she began to walk out the door, "Thank you, Andrea."

Turning to face the bed, Andy flashed Miranda a smile and with her hand on her heart, bowed slightly. With a jaunty tilt of her head and a wink, she was out the door.

Miranda took a deep breath, keeping her eyes on the empty doorway for a long moment. Her thumb absently caressed the ring on her finger and she smiled to herself as she whispered quietly.

"I'm going to marry her."

Part 21

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