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 51

Miranda followed Josie and Tante, but from here she could hear the music and see the glow of a huge fire. A bonfire on the beach, Miranda nodded to herself, that is a perfect venue for Andrea. Lillian obviously knows what Andrea likes. That thought brought her to the strippers. Does Andrea really enjoy that sort of thing?

They approached the fire and saw a table with a nice variety of drinks and snacks and a small but comfortable looking sitting area with several styles of outdoor seating to choose from not too far away. The music seemed to be emanating from the other side of the flames. The others had all stopped at the refreshment table. After the walk across the beach a drink was required. Miranda nodded to herself as she saw Tante and some of the others reaching for the bottles of water resting in the ice filled buckets. She, however, was too curious about the music, that had changed from a thumping beat to one of Andrea's favorite slow songs, and continued around the fire. What she saw stopped her dead in her tracks. Andrea was dancing with Lara, dancing very closely to Lara. She watched as the woman threw back her blonde head and laughed. Miranda swallowed her jealousy enough to move forward and was close enough to hear Andrea's "friend" speak, her melodic, sultry, voice drifting through the night.

"I think Miranda is a very lucky woman."

Miranda couldn't hold her tongue at that but tried to keep the venom out of her tone as she spoke, quietly, but distinctly, "I agree." Her heart did a double thump as Andrea spun around then held on to the woman in her arms.


"Mmm..." Miranda frowned at the tight embrace that Andrea seemed reluctant to break, "It seems I'm interrupting..." Turning to leave, Miranda had only taken a few steps before a hand on her arm stopped her motion.

"Miranda..." Andy pulled her fiancee to a stop. "Come dance with me."

Pulling her arm from the loose grip, Miranda glanced back at the tall blonde and spoke, jealousy tinging her tone, "I believe you already have a dance partner, Andrea."

"Miranda..." Andy inched forward, slowly. It never paid to rush a dragon.

This was an annoying side effect to the drinking game she'd won earlier. She was no longer in complete control of her words. The lack of control also translated into her emotions being able to run amok within her. She trusted Andrea, she did, so why was it so hard to see her in this woman's arms? Miranda ground her teeth together and knew where this was stemming from. The seeds of doubt had been sown earlier and now they were beginning to grow. But she still didn't believe Andrea would do something like that. Her fiancee's arms sliding around her waist, exactly where they were supposed to be, calmed her slightly. Miranda looked across the dance floor at the still frozen Lara, "And what would your husband say if he saw you dancing with Andrea like that?"

Smiling, Lara lost her paralysis and moved toward the couple. "He probably would have cut in and began dancing with her himself." Stopping within a few feet of Miranda, Lara chuckled, "You can ask him tomorrow. He's supposed to be here in the morning."


"Yeah?" Andy grinned, "Cool! It'll be nice to meet the guy." She turned to Miranda. "I've only ever seen pictures of him."


"Yeah," Andy rolled her eyes, "I think Lara has more pictures of him on the walls of her house than you do of me and the girls..."

"I see." Trying to dismiss the entire situation, Miranda asked, "Andrea, would you like a drink?"

Laughing, Andy grinned. "I've had more than enough to drink tonight. Some water would be good though, and maybe a rest."

"Very well..." With her arm still around Andrea's waist, Miranda guided the way back to the refreshment table. Andrea's arm around her waist was comforting, until they reached the others.

Andy quickly released her hold and rushed to say hello to the new arrivals. There was one person she didn't know personally, though she had seen her picture many times. Miranda did the introductions.

"Donatella, this is my Andrea."

"So lovely to meet you, Darling... Miranda just raves about you when we're together." Donatella looked at the young woman and laughed. "I can see why she adores you so much."

Miranda let her fears fade for a moment and chuckled, "No, you can't. Andrea's best features are inside."

Laughing at that, Donatella nodded. "Of course... of course..." With a tiny shake of her shoulders, the Italian opened her arms wide and gestured for Andy to move closer. "Come... I must hug you at least once before you marry Miranda."

Andy grinned and with barely a glance at Miranda's tolerantly rolling eyes, she moved into the embrace.

"Congratulations, Darling."

"Thank you..." Andy was going to say something else when a very familiar voice drifted out of the darkness.

"You got one of those left for me?"

Breaking the contact with Donatella, Andy spun to face the man now walking into the firelight, "Dougie!!" She practically tackled him and laughed, "What are you doing here?"

He shrugged. "Lily told me to be here."

"She did?" Andy looked around to find Lily. Lily was over by the seating area, helping the new arrivals settle in, but also looking around curiously, cautiously. "What's she up to?" Frowning, Andy realized there were other friends of hers that were not here. "Where are Jo and Blair?"

"That is a good question, Andrea." Miranda took a deep breath. "They left prior to our departure." The main reason she wasn't too worried was that Blair had been so insistent on driving. "I'm sure they'll be along soon." The fact that the strippers would be accompanying them need not concern Andrea at the moment.

"Okay then," Andy grabbed two bottles of water and tugged Miranda over to the seating area. "Let's get comfy and wait for them then..." She settled onto a lounge chair, similar to the one they had shared in her parents backyard and patted the space in front of her. Dark eyes looked up at Miranda and Andy smiled, "Share?"

Looking around with great care, Miranda noted that there were several other seats available, but grinned and mock-reluctantly agreed, "I suppose, if I must." Taking her place on the chair, Miranda reveled in Andrea's arms circling her, and their legs tangling together. The heat from the fire kept the ocean air from chilling them but Miranda was surprised, and grateful, for a thin blanket that Andy pulled from under their seat and arranged over them.

"This is nice." Andy whispered in Miranda's ear. "Can we just stay here tonight?"

Chuckling at that, Miranda shook her head. "While I believe it would be perfectly fine for me, you, would be worse for wear in the morning. This chair isn't exactly good for your back."

"Mmmm..." Andy nibbled on the soft skin on the side of Miranda's neck. "There are some perfectly good hotel rooms not too far away, excellent beds..."

Pulling away from the caresses, Miranda turned to look at her fiancee. "I was under the impression that you wished to stay away from me tonight."

"I never, wish, to stay away from you, Miranda. I was only going by the tradition." Andy grinned and tapped the tip of her nose against Miranda's. "And since when have we been traditional?"

"Very true." Miranda listened to the blood singing in her veins, the ocean pounding against the shore, the fire crackling, and then another sound reached her ears. She smiled and took a deep breath. "Here's a tradition you may enjoy."

"Huh?" Andy looked confused, then Lily made a sort of happy little sound and jumped up out of her seat. "Where's Lily going?"

Miranda chuckled darkly, her jealousy returning even as she lay in Andrea's arms. "She is seeing to your bachelorette party."

"I don't..." Andy's eyes widened as Lily, Jo, Blair, and four people she didn't recognize appeared in the firelight. "What's going on?" That question was immediately answered when one of the women set a portable stereo down on Lily's empty chair and thumping music started blaring from the speakers. All four of the unknown people began to dance and as they did, began to remove articles of their clothing. "Oh my God!" Andy dropped her head to Miranda's shoulder, not looking at the dancers, "They're strippers!"

Lily laughed and spoke loudly to Andy from where she was dancing with one of the male dancers. "I finally got you to come to a strip show with me, Andy! Even if I did have to bring the show to you!" She laughed as the man grabbed her hand and twirled her away and then back to him. "See what you've been missing?!"

"Missing?" Miranda was confused. "What does she mean?"

Andy sighed. "She's constantly wanting me to go to strip clubs with her. I've always refused... it's just not my thing."

"Ah..." Shaking her head, Miranda tried to make sense of it. "Then why would she..."

Laughing at Lily's antics, Andy shrugged and grinned at her friend. "For her of course... the strippers aren't for me at all. They're for her!"

"Not all of them," Doug laughed and leaned against the other man in the group. They moved together rather well and it was obvious Doug was having a blast. Some of the others also began to join in the fun.

Jo and Blair found a seat near Miranda and Andy. Miranda questioned the couple. "It took you quite some time to get here."

Looking down to study the label on her water bottle, Jo mumbled something incoherent. Miranda thought she heard the word, lost.

Blair rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't allow Ms. I've-Got-This, to drive. I shouldn't have allowed her to navigate either. We ended up in the next cove and had to backtrack."

"I said I was sorry!" Jo sighed, "I should probably just go on to bed."

Miranda reached over an patted Jo's knee. "Nonsense, there is still plenty of party in you."

Snorting, Jo took a swig of her water. "Not after you drank me under the table, Lady. I know when to quit."

"You actually did that drinking contest?!" Andy sighed. "What am I going to do with you?!"

Jo laughed, "Well you're never going to beat her in a drinking contest, that's for damn sure."

Andy laughed, "I imagine not. My Miranda does take winning very seriously."

Miranda watched the dancers, without seeing them. She did hear Andrea's comment though and spoke quietly to her fiancee as she hugged the arms around her. "I am you know."


Turning to see those huge dark eyes trained on her, Miranda smiled. "Yours."

Andy nodded and grinned, "Yay." She glanced back at the dancers and laughed, redirecting Miranda's gaze with a single word. "Look."

A huge smile crossed Miranda's face as Pava and Serena each claimed one of the female dancers, Emily and Mary both had small scowls on their faces. She laughed out loud as the song changed and the man dancing with Lily kissed her hand before moving away to take Tante's hand in his. The other man had switched partners as well and was now dancing with Josie.

Louise laughed and rose out of her seat to dance with the man for a short time. He gallantly kissed her cheek before moving on to Natalie. It was apparent that each of the women in the group was going to get a personal dance from at least one of the strippers. Miranda was impressed with the gentleness the man had displayed toward her Tante. She would have to ask Lily what service she used to find these people. Already a photoshoot layout was taking form in her head and she knew exactly which designer the spread would best promote. A snide comment, that she attributed to the alcohol in her system flitted through her mind. I wonder if it will be strange for them to be paid to put clothing on... Miranda groaned as she realized what she was doing, even here, on the eve of her wedding in her fiancee's arms. It was a romantic beach setting, with a bonfire, good friends, good music and still she was almost fixated on work. How on Earth would Andrea ever put up with her?


Miranda turned her head slightly to see the dark eyes of the woman she loved sparkling with amusement.

"It's okay." Andy smiled, "You can think about work..."

"How did you know..."

Andy chuckled, "I can hear the circuits firing in your head." She kissed Miranda's neck. "I was just outlining a story in my head too. It's not a crime you know?"

"It is a crime," Miranda sighed, "I should not neglect you..."

Laughing at that, Andy tightened her grip around Miranda's waist and kissed her cheek, "You aren't... you're right here."

"But you would rather I not be," Miranda looked back at the dancers, "You would rather be dancing, with..." she glanced at the strippers, encompassing Lara in her gaze as well, "someone else?"

"No, Miranda, I want to dance with you, but I've danced plenty this evening," Andy whispered in the older woman's ear. "And the only person at this party who I ever want to see naked..." her hands roamed across Miranda's ribs, dangerously close to her breasts, "... is you."

"Andrea..." Miranda looked into Andrea's lust darkened eyes and chuckled. Reaching up she brushed her fingertips along Andrea's cheek, "... later, my Darling. There is time."

"Mmm..." Andy relaxed back in the chair, feeling Miranda's tension drain away as well. "Two whole weeks... and then the rest of our lives. It's gonna be awesome."

Relaxing into the embrace, Miranda smiled as she watched her friends and family dance, "You bet it will."

Andy had said her goodbyes to her guests, including Nigel who had shown up just as the strippers were leaving, and given Lily an extra ferocious thank you hug before leaving the party hand in hand with Miranda. Now they stood in front of the hotel room that she and Miranda had shared since they'd arrived. "I don't want to leave you."

"It has been a most pleasant evening." Miranda smiled and brushed the backs of her fingers against Andrea's flushed cheek. "But I am getting married tomorrow and should be going."

"Ah," Andy's eyes roamed restlessly over Miranda's face, "You're fiancee is lucky." Settling her gaze on Miranda's lips, Andy smiled, "Are they... very jealous?" Andy's eyes reflected Miranda's amusement at the question, "Do you think I could invite you back to my room, for a drink?"

"That sounds lovely," Miranda raised an eyebrow, "but, I was told earlier that you are going to be married tomorrow as well... Would your intended be jealous of this, late night liaison?"

Andy nodded and moved in closer. With their lips only millimeters apart, she murmured, "Murderous," before she pressed their lips together.

"Mmmm..." Miranda reluctantly broke the contact and pulled the keycard for the room from her pocket. "In that case, perhaps it would be wiser for you to remain here with me..." She walked into the room, not seeing the large manila envelope on the floor.

Laughing, Andy agreed and followed Miranda inside, but when she turned to close the door she saw the envelope, "What's this?" Andy's amused chuckle matched her grin and upraised eyebrows, "More work?" She quickly opened the small metal tabs holding the envelope closed.

Turning to see the envelope in Andrea's hands, recognizing the handwriting on the outside, Miranda gasped and moved to intercept Andrea's next action. "Andrea! No!"

Andy had already spilled the contents of the envelope out into her hand. She blinked down at the photos and shook her head, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. "Miranda...." Andy swallowed hard and managed to push a whisper through her rapid breathing, "What is this?"

Miranda sighed, "An annoyance I would rather you not have had to deal with."

"This is... " Andy didn't have the words to describe exactly how wrong the photos were. "...I didn't... we didn't..."

"Shhh..." Miranda nodded, "I know."

"I would never... with anyone, much less..." Andy shook her head and still focused on the photos, whispered the name of the other person depicted there, "Lara."

Eyes widening, Miranda glanced at the photos in Andrea's hand, "Hmmm... that's new." Miranda was glad that she had not seen these photos prior to witnessing Andrea and Lara dancing.

Andy looked up from the visual lies in her hand and questioned the comment, "New?"

With a slightly apologetic glance, Miranda retrieved a matching envelope from her overly large purse. "These were delivered to me, with my mail... on the last day I was in the office."

Andy gasped as the contents of this envelope mixed with the ones already in her hand. "Does Blair know about these?!"

"Yes, of course." Miranda led Andy deeper into their suite, "I phoned her immediately after I received them."

"Oh!" Andy looked up from the photos. "This is why you were so upset... at the airport, when Mom started to say something about Blair..."

"Mmm..." Miranda acknowledged that, "That was perhaps an overreaction on my part, but Blair has been very gracious about this entire matter." She hesitated then added, "We should inform Lara of this, new, set as soon as possible."

Tossing all the pictures onto the small table in front of the sofa, Andy turned to Miranda, "It's not true... I would never..."

"Shhhh..." Shifting closer, Miranda wrapped her arms around Andrea's trembling frame and assured the young woman. "I know."

"Why would someone do that? Send pictures like that?" Andy looked again at the photos. What they represented made her nauseous but something about them niggled the back of her mind. "Who would hate us being together that much?"

Pressing her lips together, Miranda did not want to speak the name that had immediately crossed her mind when the photos first appeared. Andrea, of course, could read her like a book and shook her head against the idea.

"No... Miranda... I can't believe..." Andy glanced at the photos again then buried her face in the crook of Miranda's neck, "Daddy wouldn't do that... not to me."

That, Miranda had to admit, was true. Richard wouldn't have used photos with Andrea in them. If he had been the perpetrator, the photos would have been of her, obviously naked, in the arms of women she knew, not Andrea. Miranda tried to console her fiancee, "Whoever is doing it, for whatever reason... they have failed. The wedge they seem to want driven between us is simply not there. The wedding will go on, despite this, childish attempt to tear us apart."

"What if the pictures get released to the press?" Andy held Miranda tightly. "You and I can weather something like that... but, what about Blair... and Lara?"

"Blair has assured me that she can deal with any possible fallout from the photos. Lara also seems rather capable. We can discuss it with her in the morning." Miranda kissed Andy's temple and assured the trembling woman, "We have the best private investigators in the business working to find the culprit or culprits, and I believe the Good Detective has been diligently tracking down a few things as well."

"It's Judy..." Andy rested her head on Miranda's shoulder and stared off into space, numbed by the thought. "I don't know how, but she did it..." A tear leaked out of Andy's eye. "Why can't she just leave me, us, alone?"

"We do not know for sure that she is the one responsible." Miranda, however, did silently acknowledge the possibility, "The private investigators will complete their task and we will respond to the information they discover accordingly."

"Okay..." Andy snuggled closer and nodded, her cheek brushing against Miranda's shoulder as she did, "You're right. We'll just wait and see what the P.I.'s find out."

"In the mean time..." Miranda smiled and kissed the top of Andrea's head. "We should get some sleep."

"Really??" Andy grinned and licked the skin so near her mouth. She inhaled Miranda's scent and almost growled, "Sleep? Are you sure?"

"It is late..." Miranda shifted on the sofa, bringing Andrea down on top of her, "but suddenly I don't feel all that tired."

"Mmmm..." Smiling at that, Andy pressed their lips together, lightly at first then with growing fervor. When she broke the kiss, gasping for air, Andy's breathless voice asked plaintively, "Can we start the honeymoon a little early?"

Pulling the dark head back down to hers, Miranda answered, in a breathless sort of chuckle, "You bet we can."

Miranda was woken by a broken whisper, "Miranda...."

"Andrea..." Tears leaking from the corners of Andrea's eyes spurred Miranda to shake the woman gently. "Andrea, wake up... please don't cry, it's just a dream."

Andy's eyes flew open and with a sob she pulled Miranda closer to her. "Oh god..." Burying her face in Miranda's shoulder, Andy sobbed, "I hate that... you weren't there, weren't with me. I couldn't find you..."

"Shhhh..." Miranda assured her fiancee. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." Continuing to soothe the younger woman, Miranda tried to speak casually. "This is the first one in a while..."

"Yeah," Andy sighed. "I thought they'd gone."

Miranda felt the tension slowly draining from Andrea's body and smiled. "It's still early. Go back to sleep..."

"I don't think I can this time..." Andy sighed. "You try and get some sleep okay?" She began to shift, "I... I'm just gonna go for a run..."


Andy shrugged, "Maybe just a walk around the hotel grounds... until later when Serena and Lara wake up."

"We still need to discuss the photos with Lara." Miranda reluctantly released her hold to allow Andrea out of the bed.

"I know," Andy's tone was apologetic. "I just need to clear my head."

"It's a big day." Miranda's smile reflected a tiny bit of the brilliant expression Andrea flashed her way. "I will see you at breakfast?"

"Yeah." Andy nodded as she ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm just gonna take a quick shower and then just a short run. I'll have my phone with me. Call if you need me."

"I always need you, Andrea." Miranda smiled. "Be careful."

"I will." Leaning down, she kissed Miranda lightly on the lips. "Go back to sleep."

Andy smiled and waited for Miranda to settle back into the bed before heading toward the en suite bathroom.

After a short three-mile run, Andy was walking past one of the smaller, immaculately landscaped, terraces at the hotel, when a familiar profile caught her attention. She moved closer, cautiously, so as not to startle the woman. "Tante?"

"Oh!" Louise smiled at the young woman approaching her. "Hello, Andrea."

"Are you okay?" Andy found a seat next to Miranda's beloved aunt, concerned at the early hour. "Can't you sleep?"

Chuckling at that, Louise reached over and patted Andy's hand lightly, "As I told your grandmother yesterday, I don't sleep very long at a time anymore." Gesturing toward the sky, she explained, "I was just going to wait for the sunrise."

"Ah," Andy smiled at the older woman and leaned forward conspiratorially. "I know a better place to watch. I found it yesterday on my run." Standing she offered her hand to Tante. "Care to take a short walk with me?"

"That sounds lovely." Taking the hand, Louise hauled herself out of the lounge chair. "Thank you."

"Sure." Andy linked elbows with the shorter woman and led her down the paths that crisscrossed through the hotel grounds. As promised, it didn't take long before they reached another small landscaped area. This one looked out over a small drop-off and afforded a wide, beautiful, eastern vista view. It was also dimly lit against the early morning darkness.

"Very nice." Louise settled onto one of the benches there and smiled as Andy moved to sit next to her.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course," Louise nodded and turned to face her young inquisitor. "What is it?"

"You were very... accepting, when you found out about Miranda and me being involved. I'm not sure that is very common for people your..."

"Age?" Louise grinned.

Andy temporized, "Generation." She licked her lips, "Why is it you're so accepting when... others, aren't." Pressing her lips together, Andy waited for Louise to think over the question. The sky began to lighten before Tante spoke, softly.

"I have seen too much hatred in my lifetime." Louise reached out and held Andy's hand, squeezing it lightly. "So when I see love, it gives me hope."


Louise nodded and watched the sky begin to blush. "That the monsters don't always win." The sunrise also filled her with hope, the beginning of a new day, another night survived, another day to be alive. "So many people let hatred rule their lives, they decide what is right and what is wrong based on what they hate, instead of what they love, if they love anything. You must choose for yourself how to react to their decisions. If enough people give in, look the other way, don't step up, then the monsters win." Glancing at her companion, Louise smiled, a bit sadly. "Forgive me. I do tend to become lost in memories a bit." She gestured toward the sky. "It's a beautiful sunrise."

Andy looked at the colorful vista and heard a familiar chuckle from behind them.

"Of course it is, Tante." Miranda moved up and kissed her beloved aunt on the cheek, "It wouldn't dare be otherwise." She kissed Andrea on the cheek and explained, "Today I am marrying the love of my life, so naturally it will be a beautiful day."

"Miranda, what..." Long fingers stopped Andy's question.

"I grew... concerned when I woke and you had yet to return." Miranda sat next to Andrea and pulled her close. "Have you worked things out?"

"Getting there."

"Good." Releasing her hold, Miranda stood and asked both women, "Shall we see what we can find for breakfast today?"

"I should go get cleaned up." Andy indicated her slightly sweaty self.

Miranda pulled her closer. "Don't you dare."

Laughing at that, Andy smiled, "Mom will kill me for showing up to breakfast like this."

"She won't say a word." Miranda grinned. "Now... shall we go see what the hotel is offering this morning?"

Andy leaned close to Miranda and murmured, "All your favorites I'm sure."

Miranda offered one elbow to Tante, and one to Andrea. "Naturally."

Breakfast became a drawn out event as their other family members slowly trickled into the hotel's dining area.

When Dorothy appeared, she took one look at Andy and opened her mouth to say something. It snapped shut when Miranda glanced at her and then pulled Andy in for a kiss. When the kiss broke, Dorothy just continued on to the buffet without a word.

Miranda raised an eyebrow at Andrea, but otherwise kept her expression neutral. "Told you."

Chuckling at that, Andy just shook her head and continued to enjoy her breakfast. She was surprised to see the kids, Caroline, Cassidy, Alyssa and Alan all arrive before some of the adults, then she realized why. When Lily and Jo and Blair arrived, Lily was moving slowly, Blair looked very annoyed and Jo looked extremely worse for wear.

Andy smiled her million watt smile. "Good morning, Jo!"

Jo shielded her eyes, "Could ya turn that down a bit? Geez."

Miranda chuckled and with a smirk on her face, asked, "Not feeling well this morning, Detective?"

"Oh you've gotta be kidding me..." Jo ran her fingers through her dark hair and asked Miranda, plaintively. "Not even a headache??"

Laughing a genuine Miranda-laugh, the silver haired woman's smirk turned into a smile. "Not even."

Standing with her hands on her hips, Jo glared at Miranda. "You know I hate you just a little bit right now?"

Laughing louder at that, Miranda waved the woman to take a seat. "Everyone does from time to time."

Rolling her eyes, then groaning a bit at the pain that action caused, Jo sat next to Blair.

The attentive waiter arrived for their drink orders but held a carafe of coffee in his hand, much to Jo's relief. She nodded when the level in her cup was sufficient. "Thanks."

"No problem, Ma'am." He gestured to the array of food on the steam tables, "Help yourself to the buffet."

Jo groaned again, the thought of food was just so, not, appealing right now. She did sip her coffee though and sent another glare toward the chuckling winner of their drinking contest.

Miranda leaned toward Andrea and murmured, "I will be right back." Rising from her seat, Miranda took a plate from the end of the buffet table and proceeded to fill it. She procured some scrambled eggs, and some toast, along with a smaller plate with some banana and kiwi fruit on it. She winked at Blair as she set the fare in front of Jo. "This will help." Miranda grinned and gestured for the waiter. He appeared promptly and Miranda ordered, "Bring Ms. Polniaczek a glass of orange juice." He bowed and scurried off to fulfill the request. Miranda looked down at the miserable woman and smiled. "I expect you to be recovered by the time the ceremony begins."

Nodding, Jo waved off the statement. "Yeah, yeah... it's not for hours yet. I'll be ready."

"Mmm..." Miranda shifted her gaze to Blair. "When you are finished with your meal, I would like to see you in my room. We have some, photos, to discuss."

"I haven't heard anything..."

"More were delivered to me last night." A bit of resignation crept into Miranda's tone, "Andrea and I looked them over."

"Ah..." Blair nodded. "Of course. I'll see you there in a little while."

Miranda nodded and returned to Andrea, but did not sit. She leaned down, her hand on Andrea's shoulder, and kissed the young woman's cheek. "Finish your breakfast, then bring Lara to our room."

"Okay." Andy grabbed Miranda's hand and kissed the back of it. "See you there." She watched Miranda walking out of the dining area and smiled. Shifting closer to Caroline, who had sat down next to her earlier, Andy whispered, "I'm gonna marry her."

Caroline rolled her eyes, but grinned as she continued to eat her cereal.

"You see," Serena ran her hand up and down Emily's back. "Everything is perfect."

Emily looked around the tent and nodded in satisfaction. "Yes, the decorators did quite a good job." Every inch of the tent sides that wasn't taken up with marble looking columns or intricate water fountains, was draped in greenery. It was actually quite beautiful and Emily could almost imagine she was in a temple on the Greek Isles when she stepped into the space. "I suppose."

"It is not what you envision for your own wedding then?" Serena asked, watching Emily's reaction closely. She was not prepared for the shock on Emily's face.

"I've never even considered getting married." Emily didn't notice the disappointment in Serena's eyes. "Marriage is really not for me." She continued looking around the space, making sure everything was ready to go.

The pianos stood ready for the children to play. The aisle was sufficiently wide enough for two people to walk from the entrance straight to the raised structure Lara had created yesterday. The portable air conditioning units were checked and double-checked, the main part of them being outside the tent so as not to create too much of a disturbance during the ceremony. The chairs were set up and the ones in front all had reserved signs on them, for family and close friends. Emily sighed to herself, Only a few more hours before the ceremony... That thought panicked her somewhat and she turned to Serena, wide-eyed. "I'd better go over the checklist again!"

Pushing aside the small bit of hurt Emily's words had caused in her, Serena chuckled and nodded, "Very well..." She knew Emily was a nervous wreck and tolerantly let the woman freak out just a little. "I'm sure everything will be fine."

"Fine?!" Emily shook her head against that word. "It can't be just "fine"! This is Miranda Priestly's wedding! It has to be, perfect!"

"Shhh..." Serena leaned down and gently kissed Emily's lips. "It will be. You will make it so."

Calming slightly at the oh-so-rational words, and Serena's steadfast presence, Emily nodded and then gasped, "I must check on the cake!" Running out of the tent quickly, she didn't even notice that Serena was left standing alone in the middle of the beautiful temple.

With a small sigh, Serena began to move, gravitating toward Emily, as she always did.

"This is... But I didn't..." Lara looked up at the other women in the room. "We didn't..."

Miranda held up her hand to stop the halted protests. "We know..." She indicated Blair, "There are also photos of Andrea with Blair and they also did nothing of the sort."

"Who would do this?"

"That is what we are trying to determine." Miranda sighed, "We have some of the best private investigators in the business looking into the matter. When we learn something more, Joanne has agreed to step in on the law enforcement side."

"Why isn't she here?" Lara looked at Blair. "Surely your wife doesn't believe these... lies."

Blair shook her head, "No, she doesn't. She's just um..." Glancing at Miranda, Blair chuckled a little, "...not feeling too well right now."

"Speaking of..." Andy cautiously entered the discussion. "How's your husband going to feel about all this?"

"Well he won't believe it, if that's what you're asking." Lara looked at the photo's again trying in vain to see where the perpetrator had joined her head to the naked body on the bed. "Even though it is a very good job... If I didn't know, for a fact, that I didn't do this..." She was going to be hard-pressed to explain these pictures.

"Mmmm..." Miranda nodded and sighed. "It is quite flawless."

Lara and Blair both blinked at the tone of the statement. Lara's eyes widened, "You don't believe it, do you?"

Andy laughed and reassured both her friends. "No, she doesn't. She's just ticked that someone who can do this kind of work doesn't work in the Art department of Runway."

Miranda glared at Andy, but quickly redirected her gaze to Blair who quietly asked.

"Who says they don't?"

"That is a good point," Miranda nodded, but denied it. "If there was anyone in my employ who could do this kind of work, I would know about it."

Andy agreed. "She's right. They don't think she pays attention to them, her minions, but she does." Taking on a sonorous tone, Andy fluttered her eyes. "She....knows... all...."

Scoffing at that, Miranda spoke through her smirk, "You are so ridiculous."

Turning her million watt smile on Miranda, Andy dared her, "Tell me I'm wrong." Smirking at Miranda's silence, Andy let out a triumphant, "Ha!"

Lara laughed at their antics, knowing they were for everyone's benefit, to ease the tension. Her phone buzzed against her hip and she jumped. "Ugh... I hate it when it does that." She checked the text message, Dad's here and nodded. "My daughter informs me that my husband has arrived. Shall I ask him to join us?"

Miranda exchanged a glance with Andrea and nodded. "By all means."

Lara pressed the appropriate buttons to let her husband know what room she was currently in, and to join them.


Part 52

"C'mon." Cassidy tugged on her sister's sleeve and motioned for their new friends to follow her. "Let's go check out the tent and make sure the pianos are still in tune."

Caroline rolled her eyes tolerantly at her sister. "Of course they are. They were last night weren't they?"

"Yeah, but the workers might have shifted them to get the decorations in... I wanna make sure." Cassidy pulled her sister a few more steps, "C'mon... if there's something wrong with them I need time to fix it."

"Geez, Cass..." Alyssa's eyes reflected the amusement in her voice. "You act like you're the one getting married."

That statement stopped Cassidy in her tracks and allowed Caroline to escape her grasp, but then Cassidy just shrugged. "I kinda am. When Andy marries Mom... she'll be part of my family, too."

"Yeah," Caroline smiled at the thought. "She really will be our Ma."

Alan smiled at the expression on Caroline's face and spoke softly, "I think she already is, Ro."

Alyssa nodded. "Me too."

Cassidy widened her smile. "Me three!"

Unable to speak, Caroline just nodded her head then she grabbed Cassidy's sleeve while gaining control of her voice. "C'mon, we have to check the pianos."

They all laughed and practically raced each other out of the hotel.

"Oh! Can I have an eight by ten of this one?"

Lara smacked her husband on the shoulder. "Michael Alan Hartstone! This is serious!"

Miranda watched the interplay, somewhat amused at the man's reaction, "So you don't believe the photos clearly showing your wife in bed with my fiancee?"

"Of course not," Michael laughed, "Whoever did these was good, but Lara wouldn't cheat." He handed the photo's back to Miranda. "Whoever's body is under those sheets is clearly naked, but it's not Lara."

Licking her lips, Lara locked her eyes with her husband and handed over another set of pictures, ones that didn't involve sheets. "And what about these?"

Glancing at the naked pictures, Michael's forehead wrinkled. "Why didn't you show me these first?" He flipped through the pictures quickly and shook his head. "Not you."

Lara leaned against her husband, laying her head on his shoulder. "Thank you, for believing that."

Kissing the top of his wife's head, Michael assured her. "Of course."

Miranda nodded. "I too believe that someone has manipulated the photos. Using body doubles would be one way of doing that."

Michael glanced at the photos again, "She's pretty I guess." He grinned down at his wife. "But she only wishes she's you."

Blair watched the interplay and her eyes narrowed. "How do you know it's not her?"

Shrugging at that, Michael spoke matter-of-factly. "No scar."

"What?" Lara looked at the photos again and groaned. "He's right..." She sighed at her own stupidity. "I was too shocked, and too busy looking at the neck and shoulder areas to see how they'd connected my head, face, to this picture..."

Tracing the area under the woman in the photo's navel, Michael told the other women in the room, "Lara had the twins via Caesarean... she has a scar, just here..."

Miranda sighed. "So now we have eliminated the one person the picture is not..."

"They slipped up." Andy shook her head, "They were very careful with me though. The double they got was very..."

"Close." Miranda nodded. "But also not exact." Reaching for her glasses, Miranda retrieved one of the photos and began to study it without the emotional bias she had viewed them with before. "Andrea, I know you often experiment with accessories, but when do you actually wear toe rings?"

"Ugh," Andy shivered. "Those things..." Her thought trailed off as she quickly shuffled through the pictures and found the one she was looking for, the one she'd seen last night that looked familiar. Grimacing when she realized why it was familiar, Andy pressed her lips together and squeezed her eyes tightly shut. Miranda was gonna go ballistic.

"Andrea..." Miranda watched her fiancee's shoulders tense and narrowed her eyes. "What is it?"

"I, um... haven't worn toe rings for a few years." She looked up at the expectant faces and sighed. "Not since Paris...that, Paris." She swallowed hard at the expression on Miranda's face and pointed to the picture, admitting, "I recognize this room, background..." She focused on Miranda as she informed them. "It's Christian Thompson's room." The teasing comment she'd made last night came back to Andy full force as Miranda did indeed look, murderous. "But they may have just gotten the same room for the photos..."

"And the toe ring?" Miranda handed over the picture in question.

Andy looked at it closely and shook her head, relieved. "It's not mine... I've never owned one like that, nor would I... it's tacky. Mine were always simple." She spoke a bit more. "I'm just glad it's not really me. I, seriously, hate the idea of people taking my picture without me knowing it. Paparazzi included."

"So," Blair spoke up, "We know there were at least three other women involved. Because that is definitely my face, but...not, my body. Whether the women knew what they were doing or not is still in question. There is at least one photographer, and possibly another person able to manipulate the photos, if the photographer can't..." She shook her tawny brown hair. "This is starting to sound like a conspiracy."

Miranda's nostrils flared as she put the pieces together, "Blair, contact the private investigators and tell them to concentrate their efforts on, Irving Ravitz, Jacqueline Follet...and Christian Thompson."

"Miranda?" Andy didn't doubt that those two would do a lot to undermine Miranda professionally, but personally? And yeah, it was the room Christian had, but it the photos could have been taken after he'd left, long after really. Who knows how often that hotel updated their rooms?

"Think about it, Andrea. Access to models, access to photographers... access to digital manipulation equipment... and most importantly..." Miranda paused for them all to think about that before adding, "and access to a hotel room in Paris."

Blair nodded. "French Runway." She pulled out her phone and hit the contact number for the P.I.'s. Standing from her seat she, held the phone to her ear and headed for the next room, "I'll just let them know what's going on."

Miranda smiled at the man in the room. "I must congratulate you, Michael. Your wife and son saved the day yesterday, and today you seem to have been the voice of reason that gave us the breakthrough we needed to solve this mystery."

He grinned. "Well, I'm a pretty simple man. I know what I know and I know my wife wouldn't do anything like that." He pointed to the pictures. Grinning at the charismatic woman, Michael winked. "Just let me know when you need the bodies to disappear." He suffered another smack from Lara and asked, "What? I'm always pouring a foundation somewhere..."

Miranda laughed at the suggestion, some of the tension in her shoulders easing. "I must say the image of Christian Thompson being covered in quick drying cement like a statue in a cartoon makes me smile." She grinned at the man. "I'll let you know."

"Miranda!" Andy wasn't all that sure Miranda was kidding.

Michael and Lara chuckled, and Lara spoke. "Okay... well things seem to be moving right along here so... I think we need to go see what our children have gotten into."

Nodding at that, Miranda agreed, "I should probably do the same." There was no telling what kind of mischief the children had found this morning.

Andy nodded. "I'm gonna wait until Blair gets off the phone and then, I.. um... have some stuff to do. I still need to shower, for one."

Miranda sighed and nodded. "Don't forget and wash your hair... use the dry shampoo Terry gave you."

"Yes, Miranda." Andy grinned. She kissed Miranda and hugged her tightly. "I'll see you at lunch, okay?"

"Of course."

"Wow," Dorothy looked around the interior of the tent. "This is great."

"It is quite lovely," Tante sat in the first available seat as she examined the decorations.

"You alright, luv?" Natalie worried about her older relative.

"I'm fine." The older woman looked at the greenery and smiled. "Miranda's going to be very pleased."

Pava nodded, "Andy's gonna love it too..." Of course, Pava knew as well as any of them that neither Andy nor Miranda would care a bit about what the place looked like. They would only have eyes for each other anyway. Pava knew that, because if she had ever gotten the chance to marry Mary, she wouldn't have cared one whit about the place where she got to do it.

"I think it's beautiful," Mary took a deep breath, "and very peaceful, with the water sculptures and music."

Until Mary had mentioned it they hadn't noticed the music playing softly, it fit so well with the surroundings. Walking further into the tent, they saw the pianos at the front, tucked tastefully into the greenery. Cassidy was sitting at one of the instruments playing softly, and the other children were standing next to the wall of the tent, watching her.

Cassidy saw the adults approaching and smiled at them as she continued to play for a few moments. She let the music become softer and fade out almost on its own before she took her hands away from the piano keys.

"That was nice, Darlin'" Pava grinned at the young girl.

The protest that it was just some twiddles died on her lips and Cassidy nodded, "Thanks." She turned to Caroline and asked, "Did you get it?"

Holding up a small recording device, Caroline nodded, "Yeah."

Pava narrowed her eyes at the girls. "What are you two up to?" Her Trouble-Meter went deep into the red when both girls looked at her with oh-so-innocent eyes and spoke in unison.

"Nothing, Gram."

Tante chuckled, and Natalie grinned. "Looks familiar doesn't it?"

"Oh yes." The oldest among them informed the youngest, "Your mother and Natalie used to look and say that exact same thing. It would usually turn out that 'nothing' was in fact, most definitely, something."

Caroline laughed. "We're just finishing up on a gift for Mom and Andy. It's nothing anyone else will ever see." She looked at Gram Sachs. "The project you were helping us with... it's private, for Mom and Andy only."

"Yep..." Pava nodded, "They're going to love it. Even if I don't know exactly what all it entails."

"Whoops," Alyssa spoke up as she looked down at her phone screen. "Mom and Dad are looking for us." She looked around at the company she was in and grinned as she sent a quick text back to her parents, well her Mom at least. "They're coming here."

Caroline and Cassidy pulled their simultaneously buzzing phones from their pockets and nodded to their friends. Cassidy spoke for them. "Mom is too."

Beginning to get nervous about the impending ceremony, Caroline looked at her sister, "Let's practice again."

Cassidy shrugged. "Sure," Placing her hands on the keyboard in front of her, Cassidy assured her sister, "But you're gonna do fine." She began the song and Caroline jumped in after, as she always had in their practices.

After a few moments, they got to one of the trickier parts of the piece and Caroline, again, flubbed that section. She stopped playing and hid her face in her hands. "I'm never going to get this right!"

Mary cleared her throat and tentatively stepped forward. "Um..." She moved toward Caroline and gestured to the bench the girl was sitting on. "May I sit?"

"Oh.. uh.. sure..." Caroline slid over a bit and smiled as Mary sat down next to her. "But, um... you play?"

Mary blushed as Pava chuckled, "Yes, Darlin'... Mary plays."

"Actually," Mary stood quickly, "I don't need to sit..."

"No..." Caroline gestured her back, "... if you can help."

"I can, but I don't need to sit." Mary motioned the girl to resume her place in the middle of the bench. She stood behind Caroline and put her hands on the girl's shoulders. "Can you guys start again? From the top?"

Cassidy nodded and glancing at Caroline, began the song. Caroline jumped in on the second note and tried to keep up.

Mary nodded as she felt the tension in Caroline's controlled motions. "Okay.. stop."

She walked over to Cassidy and put her hands on Cassidy's shoulders. "Start again, from the beginning..." She saw Cassidy nod and after a glance at her sister began, again followed by Caroline. Mary nodded to herself at the marked lack of tension in Cassidy's shoulders. At the same point that she did before, Mary called a halt to the exercise and walked back to Caroline. Once her hands were in place on the girl's shoulders, Mary spoke again. "One more time, from the beginning, but this time" she added, "Caroline... you start."


Looking down into the girl's wide eyes, Mary nodded. "Yes... you."

"Okay..." Glancing at her sister, she counted off and began. This time Cassidy came in on the second note.

Mary grinned as the tension she felt under her fingertips was much less than she previously detected. When they approached the first place that Caroline had flubbed earlier, Mary slowly bit her bottom lip and withdrew her hands. They made it through that section with no mistakes, and Mary smiled at the astonished look on Caroline's face as the girls continued to play the entire piece, flawlessly.

"Wow!" Caroline turned to Mary. "How'd you do that?!"

Mary grinned at the girl. "I noticed it before, when we were at your house in New York. When you come in on the second note, you get a little frantic... right?" She nodded when Caroline did.

"Yeah, I feel like I have to hurry and catch up."

"Mmmhmmm, I thought so." Mary shrugged a little bit, "When you start first, you aren't so frantic. It helps you relax and think more about the music, instead of trying to catch up."

"But..." Cassidy clarified her sister's earlier question. "How did you know to do that?"

Mary chuckled, "I haven't always owned a B&B." She took a deep breath. She had wanted to say something back then, but at the time she hadn't been sure she had the right to say anything. Now, with them calling her 'grandma' and treating her so much like family, she decided that her help was welcome. "Once upon a time I actually gave piano lessons."

"Once upon a time, Darlin', you were a fantastic piano player." Pava gazed at Mary with undisguised affection. "You were the best and I'll bet you still are."

"Play for us." Caroline stood and gestured to the bench, "Please?"

"Oh... I don't think..."

"Please," Cassidy joined her sister and they turned on every ounce of Priestly charm they could muster. "Play for us, Grandma Mary."

Considering it for a moment longer, Mary sighed and sat down on the bench, "I haven't played for quite a while..." at least not for an audience. "I'm very rusty."

"That's okay..." Cassidy smiled and encouraged the woman. "We don't mind rusty..."

Laying her hands on the keyboard, Mary thought for a moment then began to play. She concentrated on her hands, on the keys, but didn't miss Pava's slight gasp when the other woman recognized the tune. It wasn't very long. Most songs from their day either seemed much shorter than the normal song today, or they tended to last a great deal longer. When she stopped playing, Mary smiled at the applause and turned to Pava just in time to see the woman casually wipe a tear away.

Cassidy slid onto the bench next to Mary. "That was great! What song was it?" The girl began to play, recreating the melody easily. "I don't think I've ever heard it before."

Mary was stunned, "You're playing it... after only hearing it once??"

"Yeah." Caroline rolled her eyes as she typed on her iPhone. "She's disgusting that way."

"I thought it was lovely." Natalie smiled at the older American woman.

Tante nodded. "Yes, I always did enjoy Patti Page's voice."

Pava nodded, finally finding her voice. "Yep." She looked at Cassidy. "The song is called "Changing Partners"." Turning to Mary, Pava smiled.

Caroline was still typing into her iPhone quickly and she grinned. "Got it. Patti Page, Changing Partners on YouTube." Holding her phone out so her sister could hear. They all saw the grainy black and white video begin to play.

Now my arms feel so empty as I gaze around the floor and I'll keep on changing partners til I hold you once more.

Though we danced for one moment and too soon we had to part, in that wonderful moment something happened to my heart. So I'll keep changing partners til you're in my arms and then oh my darling I will never change partners again.

They were all totally silent as their eyes went from the small screen to Mary and Pava who only had eyes for each other.

Mary swallowed hard and broke the silence. "It was the only song I could think of. It's kind of been stuck in my head lately..."

"Well it's a good one." Pava nodded. "And it was perfect."

"It certainly fits the romantic theme for the day." Miranda approached along with Lara and her husband. "I for one am not changing partners again."

Everyone turned to see three new arrivals in the tent. Miranda smiled, "Thank you for introducing my daughters to some of the more, classic, music available."

Rolling her eyes at that, Cassidy grinned wickedly and began to play a different song. Caroline laughed and began dancing with Alan and Alyssa.

Lara winced as her children began to dance and sing along with the music, "Um... kids.. I'm not sure you want to be doing that right now." She glanced at Miranda's narrowed eyes and edged away from the older woman, tugging her husband with her. "That's not..."

"C'mon, Mom!" Alyssa laughed, "Vogue with us! You love Madonna!"


Cassidy stopped playing immediately. The sudden silence in the tent made them all freeze. Cassidy turned to her mother, wide-eyed with fright. Miranda never called her by her true given name unless she was extremely upset. In fact, Cassidy had only heard her mother utter that name twice before, and both of those times had been exceedingly stressful. "Sorry, Mom..."

Miranda took a deep breath. "No apologies from you. I, overreacted."

Natalie moved next to her sister, wrapping her arm around Miranda's waist. "You alright?"

Returning the embrace. Miranda nodded, "I am agitated, because Andrea is stressed. She is still struggling with her vows and I fear her tension will only increase as the time before the ceremony shortens."

"We need to help her relax then..." Pava looked at Miranda, "What does she do to relax?"

Miranda's eyes closed then slowly reopened as she focused on Pava. She kept her voice low and even, but a bit of smoke entered the tone. "Nothing we currently have time for."

Chuckling at that, Pava shook her head. "No... I suppose not."

Glancing around at the shocked looks those who had heard the comment were displaying, Miranda explained, derailing their minds from the innuendo. "Often her runs take several hours, when she is tense, and she has already taken a run today." Continuing her comments, Miranda sighed, "Time is growing short, and she will still have to prepare for the ceremony, which shortens her useable time considerably."

"Hmmm." Pava glanced at Mary, "Maybe she could listen to soothing music in the background... while she's writing?"

Miranda shook her head, "She has tried that, many times. She can't listen to music and write at the same time."

A small exasperated sound drew everyone's attention to Emily.

"What is it, Emily?"

"Apologies, Miranda, but some of your guests are arriving and there is some sort of mix up with the reservations." Emily shook her head as she looked at her phone screen. "God, these people..." Glancing around she quickly scanned the gathered faces. "Excuse me while I go try to sort it all out."

Nodding at that, Miranda squeezed Natalie's arm, that was still around her, and patted it for release. "I will accompany you, Emily." Also looking around at the assembled people, Miranda smiled. "There are no plans for an organized lunch, so if I do not see you before, I will see you at the ceremony." Accepting the nods and smiles as acknowledgment, Miranda walked down the aisle and out of the tent, followed closely by Emily.

The general manager, who had taken over for the desk clerk five minutes into Emily's rant, nodded. "Yes..." He turned to Miranda, "We're very sorry for the mix up and apologize for any inconvenience your guests may have encountered."

Miranda waved off the standard apology. "So long as it doesn't happen again."

"No," The GM shook his head. "It will not happen again."

"Mmmm..." Her mind wasn't really on the situation. Emily had it well in hand. In fact, Miranda had been a bit impressed by the woman's tirade. As soon as her former assistant had begun, Miranda had known the situation would be handled fairly quickly. Her mind turned to the problem with Andrea and she sighed to herself. There was something that she knew of that might help Andrea calm down. It was to be a surprise during their honeymoon, but now, Miranda supposed, would be as good a time as any to give one of Andrea's smaller presents to her.

"Ms. Priestly..." The general manager spoke up, "If you would, come with me to the safe." He checked his watch. "You requested your rings be retrieved at this time."

"Oh, yes..." Miranda nodded and also glanced at her watch, "I appreciate the reminder." Before she followed the man, Miranda stopped Emily. "Emily, contact Nigel and tell him to meet me in the manager's office then go to my room and take the wrapped present on the nightstand next to the bed to Andrea in her room." She loved the efficiency of Emily's immediate nod even as she texted Nigel with the appropriate message. "Tell her not to wait to open it. She needs it now, to relax."

Emily's curiosity overrode the normal censorship between her brain and mouth and she broke her own cardinal rule, asking, "What is it?"

Pausing for a moment, Miranda took a deep breath, licked her lips and smirked. "Her porn."

Andy looked at the words she'd typed on the screen for a half second and growled in frustration. Highlighting it all she hit delete and began again. She couldn't believe she had waited this long to do this, but the words just wouldn't come, weren't right. A soft knock on the door interrupted her train of thought. "What now?" she muttered and crossed the room to answer the summons. She had come here, to the room she was supposed to have stayed in last night, to get away from people. She wasn't even sure who knew she was here, besides Miranda. Throwing the safety lock on the door, Andy opened it slightly, "Yes?"

"Andrea.. really..."


"Me too, Andy." Lily shoved the redhead aside to be seen through the crack in the door.

Closing the door, Andy unlatched the lock and opened it wide. "What are you two doing here?"

Emily answered primly. "I'm here at Miranda's request." Handing over a small package, Emily continued her haughty explanation. "Miranda said you were tense and that this DVD would help you... relax."

"What?" Andy took the wrapped package, confused. "What is it?"

Lily giggled and jumped up and down, "She said it was... porn!" The dark girl laughed at the expression on Andy's face. "I heard her say it..." She mock-imitated her friend's common protest. "I don't like strippers..." Laughing, Lily shook her finger at Andy. "You are SO busted..."

Laughing at Lily's antics and at the very idea of Miranda sending her a pornographic DVD, Andy shook her head. "What?"

"C'mon, girlfriend..." Lily practically pushed Andy back into the room. "Open it... and let's get to watchin'!"

Emily made a small sound of disgust and turned to leave when Serena, followed quickly by Doug, and then Andy's brother, of all people, arrived.

Andy looked up to see her once quiet sanctuary become Grand Central in a matter of ten seconds. "What are you all doing here?"

Most of them held up their cell phones or nodded, as Chad spoke for them. "Lily texted us."

At that moment Dorothy walked through the still open door along with Josie and David. Andy widened her eyes and felt her cheeks burning. She fumed at Lily. "You texted my mother!?"

Lily looked sheepish and shrugged. "I guess I just sent out a sort of blanket thing...I was so excited."

"You were eavesdropping!" Emily crossed her arms and glared at Lily's antics.

Waving off that accusation, Lily shrugged. "I saw you yelling at the desk clerk and wanted to know what was up."

"What is this about porn?" Dorothy shook her head.

"Well I'm certain Miranda didn't think I'd have an audience when I opened it!" Andy glared at Lily. Her million watt smile appeared as a distinctive chuckle sounded from the door.

"I most certainly did not."

Andy laughed as the crowd parted like the Red Sea to allow Miranda through the room, Nigel following closely behind. She held up the package. "What is this?"

Amused blue eyes held Andrea's gaze for a moment before Miranda, turned a cold gaze toward Lily then licked her lips and smiled. "Exactly what I told Emily it was... it's your porn."

Narrowing her eyes at the "your" distinction, Andy slowly opened the package. When she saw the title, her eyes closed and she pressed her lips together, tightly, trying not to laugh. She managed to speak two words, "My favorite!" before she burst into a fit of laughter. Tossing the DVD on the bed, Andy stood and hugged Miranda tightly. "I love you!" She was severely conscious of her mother's presence though and refrained from kissing Miranda.

Lily pounced on the movie. Her frustrated sound drew all their attention away from the hugging couple. "What's this??"

Andy never took her eyes off Miranda's face, but laughed softly and answered Lily's question. "My porn."

Chad rolled his eyes and moved to take the disc case from Lily. He laughed and grinned at his sister and his almost sister-in-law as he read the case. "Steel Magnolias?"

Closing her eyes, Andy hummed deep in the back of her throat, "Mmmm... Olympia Dukakis."

Miranda grinned and teased, "Careful now..." She rested her forehead against Andrea's and spoke quietly, "I had thought we could watch it together, at some point during the next two weeks."

"A movie night..." Andy hugged Miranda tighter. "That sounds fantastic!"

Lily sighed, "Geez... movie night? On your honeymoon?!" She shook her head sadly, but grinned as she spoke. "You two really are just an old married couple aren't you?"

Andy's eyes crinkled at the corners, and never left Miranda's gaze. "You bet we are."

"Okay, fine...I guess what you choose to do on your honeymoon is up to you..." Lily stood up from the bed and grabbed Chad by the collar and Doug by the arm, dragging out of the room. "C'mon Blondie...Dougie. Let's go see what kind of trouble we can get into."

Andy grinned as Dorothy followed them quickly. They heard her admonishing Lily.

"Don't you dare corrupt my son!"

Andy laughed and informed the remaining people in the room, "Chad is far from innocent!"

"Much like his sister?" Miranda smirked.

"Yeah..." Andy grinned. Now that her mother was gone, she had no qualms about kissing Miranda. Shifting closer, slowly, she spoke quietly finishing exactly when their lips touched. "Just like me."

Moaning softly into the contact, Miranda returned the kiss wholeheartedly, letting their audience fade out of her consciousness. For a long moment, no one else in the world existed, except for Andrea.

When they finally had to break the kiss, Andy looked around at her empty hotel room. "Check it out... we scared them away."

Miranda glanced around the room then mumbled, "Good," before wrapping her arms around Andrea's neck and moving in to resume their previous action.

Grinning at that, Andy walked Miranda toward the bed and managed to murmur in the space between kisses, "Very good."

Serena ran her hands from Emily's shoulders to her elbows. "You need a break."

"No time." Emily sighed and then steeled herself for the tasks ahead, "I still have several things to do before I can begin to get ready for the ceremony." Giving in to the comfort, Emily leaned into Serena, savoring the long arms around her for a moment before the sound of the hotel's main door opening pulled her attention away. Shifting away from her girlfriend, Emily straightened her clothing slightly then walked forward to meet the new arrivals. Her voice was stern, impressing on the people their extreme luck at being here today, "The press has a space specifically for interviews. You are not to deviate from that area, at all. If you are found harassing any of the guests outside the interview area you will be summarily ejected from the ceremony, reception, hotel, and possibly the island. Is that clear?"

All the reporters present nodded.

"Very well," Emily glanced at the small crowd and nodded, "There will be a few more press representatives arriving soon, so check in then return here in one hour. Bring your invitations and I will show you to the press area. Do not try to interview anyone between now and then."

Nodding at the rest of the instructions, the reporters grabbed their cameramen and rushed the front desk. The first to get their rooms meant the first to get out and scour the hotel, Emily's instructions or not, they were all going to be snooping and taking behind the scenes pictures and video footage every chance they got.

"Is it wise to allow them here?" Serena watched the gaggle of reporters vying for the desk clerk's attention.

Emily shrugged. "It's news. One of the biggest social events this year. Miranda thought it was best to at least minimally control who was here, so she had me send invitations. No one can get in, to the ceremony or reception, even to the press area, without an invitation." She checked her watch, "Speaking of which, I need to review some details with the security people."

Serena smiled and nodded. Leaning forward she kissed Emily's cheek lightly, "Please remember to eat a bite of something around lunchtime." She knew Emily would be busy for the time remaining between now and the ceremony, but the woman would have to return to their room in order to dress for the ceremony. "I will see you back in the room, later."

"Thank you, for being so..." Emily had no idea how to express her gratitude for Serena's support. The kindness and understanding that seemed to flow from Serena to her had always made Emily feel better, but now, knowing that Serena cared for her as more than a friend, the emotions were often breathtaking. Shaking her head, Emily smiled and shrugged again. "Just, thank you."

Serena smiled and nodded once, then watched as Emily walked away to do her job. A phrase floated through her head, one she'd never allowed herself to think before, given Emily's attitude about relationships. But she had heard Andy whisper a version of it to Caroline earlier and now she couldn't help thinking it as she watched Emily go. I'm going to marry her.


Part 53

Andy stared at the blank screen and sighed. It had been hours since she'd picked at her lunch with her fiancee and she had yet to come up with anything that remotely conveyed how she felt about Miranda. A soft knock on the door pulled her attention from the screen.


Crossing the room, Andy opened the door to find Lily there, hand raised about to knock again. "Lily?" Blinking at her friend, she smiled. "Wow, you look great!"

Smoothing the dress over her stomach, Lily smiled. "Yeah... it fits pretty good."

"It does," Andy agreed. "But this," she reached out but didn't touch Lily's amazingly styled hair. "Wow."

"You bet... Terry is great, and she's fast! I used to have to sit for hours while mom put cornrows in my hair. Admittedly this isn't my whole head, but Terry did this whole 'do in just over an hour!" Lily looked at her friend apologetically and raised her eyebrows. "It's... um... time for you to start getting ready."

"What?!" Andy ran her fingers through her hair. "Are you sure??" She looked around the room, eyes finally landing on the small digital clock by the bed. "Oh my God!" Shaking her head, Andy backed into the room. "It can't be... Lily... I'm not ready..."

Chuckling at that, Lily followed her friend into the room and nodded. "Yes, you are." She took Andy's hand and squeezed it slightly. "You've been ready for this, since the day you met her."

"But..." Gesturing to the laptop, Andy began to shake. "I don't have my vows..."

"You will..." Lily tugged on Andy's hand, pulling her toward the door. "You always choose just the right words in your articles."

"This isn't an article, Lily." Andy looked longingly back into the room, at her laptop, before the door closed between them and she was on her way to the dressing tent she'd been assigned. The trembling that had begun earlier increased and Andy tried to breathe normally. It was time and she was so... not, ready.

Serena smiled as she put the finishing touches on Dorothy's makeup and Terry made the final adjustments to her hair style. "You're all finished."

"Thank you." Dorothy looked into the mirror and shook her head. "I would never have believed..."

Chuckling at that, Serena patted the older woman's shoulders. "Andy has to get her beauty from somewhere, yes?"

"She takes after Richard's side of the family for that, I believe." Dorothy smiled at the woman's reflection in the mirror, but before she could say anything else, Lily dragged Andy into the tent.

Andy was guided behind the partition in the room and she quickly stripped out of her shirt and sweats. Then, after her lingerie, was in place, she wrapped herself in the, luxuriously soft, white cotton robe that was available to her. Terry got to work quickly, knowing that even after she finished the hairstyle there would be possible touch-ups necessary after the dressing process.

Caroline and Cassidy arrived a few moments later. Their eyes were sparkling with excitement. Caroline spoke for them. "They're rolling the red carpet out on the sidewalk, and Emily says the press will start filling up their pen soon to lay in wait for the guests. She's already got security moving into their positions."

Cassidy grinned at Dorothy. "You look great, Grandma."

"Thanks, Sweetheart." Dorothy grinned at the girls. "You aren't dressed yet. You should be getting your bridesmaids dresses on."

"Yeah." Caroline shuffled her feet. "We wanted to talk to Andy about that."

Gesturing for Terry to stop for a minute, Andy looked at the twins, but spoke to Caroline. "What's up, Munchkin?"

"Well, the thing is, see... that you guys have never actually said which one of us you want as your bridesmaid...." Caroline shrugged. "And I know that you and Cass have this kinda bond thing... and I know you like her better, but.."

"Hey." Andy was up out of the chair, moving to put her hands on Caroline's shoulders, squeezing them gently. "Look at me." She waited for Caroline to look up at her, "I love you both, equally, without reservation." She could see the doubt in those eyes, so much like Miranda's. "Cassidy has had some troubles lately that I've helped her out with. I hope that, if you ever need anything, you know you can come to me too..."

"I do." Caroline teared up a bit and then continued, "That's why... um.. that's why I would like to be... your bridesmaid, Ma."

Andy let a tear slide down her cheek and pulled Caroline in for a hug. "I think that sounds fantastic."

Cassidy grinned at Andy and winked as she gave her Ma the thumbs up signal. "Okay then, I'm just gonna head over to Mom's dressing room and get ready." She gave them all a little salute. "See ya at the ceremony."

Serena stepped in, "Andy, please come with me. I can see the mascara I used is not as waterproof as it claims." She grinned. "Very bad for the review in the next edition..." Glancing at Caroline, Serena gestured for the girl to move behind the partition. "You, go get dressed. Your makeup and hair are next." She grinned as the girl dutifully did as she was told. Her morning runs with Andy had the side effect of lessening the intimidation factor of the devil's spawn, as the girls were often referred to in the Runway offices when Miranda was not present. She had to admit that they could be quite the trouble makers, but after seeing the interactions Andy had with them, the girls had become human very quickly, just as Miranda had done in the wake of Andy's affection.

Andy allowed herself to be pulled back into the make-up chair, submitting to Serena's capable hands and Terry's quiet competence. As she sat there, she allowed her mind to wander trying to find the words to express how she felt about Miranda, and the girls, and the family she was on the verge of officially joining. That familiar thought brought a sun-dazzling smile to Andy's face. Familiar but with a thrilling addition.

I'm gonna marry her, today!


Miranda had been relaxing on the small sofa that had been placed in her dressing tent. Terry and Serena were attending to Andrea first so Miranda had decided to disappear into her tent before the press arrived. A few moments of solitude seemed like just what she needed. She had enjoyed her few minutes though and welcomed her most beloved relative with a smile. "Tante, come in. You look lovely." The cream colored skirt and jacket ensemble fit the woman perfectly. She hugged the older woman and they both settled on the sofa. "What can I do for you?"

"I know this wedding is far from traditional..." Tante's eyes sparkled at the expression on Miriam's face. "But, I thought, you might want to follow at least one." Reaching into her jacket pocket, Louise produced a gold brooch.

Remembering the item from her childhood, Miranda's eyes widened. "Your grandmother's brooch?"

Nodding, Louise looked at the jewelry in her hand. "Yes, but it's been in the family longer than that. Her Bubbe gave it to her... and now," she looked at the stag carving and took a deep breath then handed it over to Miranda, "I'm giving it to you."

"Oh.. Tante..." Miranda's hand shook as she accepted the heirloom. "I... I don't..."

"Shhh..." Louise smiled at her favorite niece and shook her head. "It's seen its share of trials and tribulations. It's fitting that it goes to you." Kind eyes met Miranda's and Louise spoke quietly, "I know your life has not been an easy one, despite what many people may think."


"No but's." Louise exhaled softly. "Bubbe gave it to me before she and Zayde left Poland for England. When... when the war got bad, Abba packed up most of our valuables and sent your father to join them." Thinking back to that turbulent time, Louise's breath sped up a bit, and she admitted, "In all honesty, I didn't have much hope of seeing any of those things again. He wasn't all that reliable, even back then."


"No, it's okay..." Louise smiled and continued the story. "Despite my naivete and sunny predictions regarding the situation, things got even worse. When I was... taken, to the camps, the survival of... things, was very low on my list of concerns. I very rarely thought I would see another day myself."

"But you did..." Miranda wiped the tears from her cheeks, tears she, and Natalie, always shed when they thought about the horrors their aunt had endured. "You survived."

Nodding, Louise agreed, "I survived." She licked her lips. "And when I did, finally, make it to England, Bubbe had passed on but Zayde returned the brooch to me." She patted Miranda's arm. "Now I'm passing it to you, as you, will one day pass it to one of your children... or grandchildren."

Speechless at the gesture, Miranda could only stare at the piece of history that she held in her hand. She had been an outcast in their family for so long that being included, tethered, to the others, to their shared past in this way was, overwhelming. A slight squeeze on her arm drew her gaze away from the brooch.

"There is something else..." Tante again reached into her pocket and this time withdrew a coin. "I know most people leave this part off of the tradition." Grinning, Louise handed over the coin, "But if you're going to do it, you may as well do it all..."

Miranda looked at the coin in her palm and laughed, grateful for the break in the tension, reciting the saying, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue... and a silver sixpence in her shoe."

Louise chuckled. "Yep, although with the price of silver these days they're worth quite a bit more than sixpence."

"Thank you, Tante..." Miranda grinned as she tucked the coin into her left shoe, to get a feel for it there before she changed into her actual wedding outfit. "Now I just need something new, something borrowed, and something blue."

"I'm sure the others can take care of that." Louise patted Miranda's knee and pushed off of it as she rose from the seat. "I need to get going. I have another stop to make." She reached into her pocket and pulled out another sixpence piece. "There are two brides at this wedding, you know?"

"Thank you, Tante."

With a small smile, and a little wink, Tante nodded once and left the tent.

Miranda looked down at the brooch in her hand, felt the coin pressing against her foot, and took a deep breath. So far this day had been far more emotional than she had expected, and it wasn't nearly over yet. But when it is over, Miranda's face lit with joy, I will be married to Andrea!

Dorothy was just leaving the main tent when Louise exited Miranda's dressing room. She smiled at the older woman. "Would you like to join me for a drink?" Knowing the woman was from England, Dorothy grinned. "Tea, maybe?"

Slipping the sixpence piece that she intended on giving to Andrea back into her pocket, Louise nodded. She knew that Miranda's young bride had been nervous about the ceremony and thought giving Andrea a few minutes alone would be a good idea. She responded to the invitation, "That sounds lovely." Linking elbows with Dorothy, Louise allowed herself to be led out of the tent and back toward the hotel. There were already a few members of the press milling around in the little pen that Emily had designated as theirs. Louise chuckled as the so-called reporters ignored them as they walked past. Just as they were about to step out of the "press zone", she spoke, quite loudly, to Dorothy. "I'm surprised none of the press wanted to interview you, being the mother of the bride and all..."

There was a surge of reporters toward them just as they stepped out of the "Zone" Emily had designated for them. Louise chuckled at the collective groan that went up from the pen as the people there realized the opportunity they had missed.

Dorothy also chuckled as they continued to walk. "You're a troublemaker."

"Meh..." Louise rolled her eyes. "Serve's 'em right."

"You know they will descend on us when we walk back through?" Dorothy grinned at the glint in her companion's eyes. With a bit of pleading mixed with a bit of chiding, she asked, "Just don't get me in trouble with Miranda, okay?" Dorothy sighed as Louise chuckled again and assumed the hand patting her arm was supposed to be reassuring.

"You just let me do all the talking, young woman."

Dorothy nodded as they continued walking. "Yes ma'am."

Cassidy watched Tante Louise and Grandma Dorothy walking out of the tent. With a deep breath she steeled herself and moved toward her mother's lair. Slipping into her mother's dressing room, Cassidy nervously spoke. "Mom, do you... need anything?"

"No, Bobbsey." Miranda turned to look at her daughter. "I'm very well at the moment." tilting her head, Miranda studied Cassidy's body language. "You, however, seem to have something to say..."

"Well, um...I know you like her better." Cassidy moved closer to her mother. "But, Caroline is going to be Andy's bridesmaid, so, I guess you're stuck with me."

"Like her better?" Miranda's forehead wrinkled. "Stuck with you?" She opened her arms and gestured for Cassidy to come closer. "Come here, Bobbsey." She settled the girl on her lap. "You are extraordinarily special to me. I love you both with equal intensity. There is nothing I wouldn't do, for either of you." Miranda took a deep breath. "It is possible I have paid a bit more attention to Caroline ever since she expressed an interest in publishing. It was not my intention to make you feel neglected."

"You didn't!" Cassidy shook her head. "Not really. It's just... I dunno, she's so much like you and I'm... not."

Miranda hugged her daughter and assured her. "You are both individuals, unique and special in your own ways." She grinned. "I'm not 'stuck with you'. I'm very happy that you will be standing up for me in this ceremony. You are an extraordinary person who will, I'm sure, become even more spectacular with time. I'm always extremely proud that you are my daughter."

"Oh." Cassidy nodded a little sadly, "I guess Andy didn't tell you yet then."

"If you are referring to the fact that you are gay," Miranda nodded, "Andrea did inform me."

"You aren't angry?"

"I am not." Miranda sighed. "I am a bit disappointed." She held tightly to her daughter when Cassidy tried to bolt. "Disappointed that you felt the need to relay that information through Andrea." Miranda asked, "Why did you not come to me directly?"

"I dunno." Cassidy laid her head on Miranda's shoulder. "It's hard to talk to you, sometimes, especially about..." She stopped talking, unable to even voice the subject.

Miranda filled in the blank as delicately as she could, "...things of a sexual nature?"

Cassidy nodded. "It's not really though." Cassidy blushed. "Sexual I mean. It's just that I know that when I find someone to... love, that person will be a girl. Like you did with Andy."

Smiling at that, Miranda looked her daughter in the eye. "It is my sincere wish that you do find someone to love as much as I love Andrea, no matter what gender that person may be. The only goal that I expect you to attain in your life is to be happy. Everything else should be a secondary consideration."

Smiling at that, Cassidy whispered. "I love you too, Mom."

Accepting a light kiss on the cheek, Miranda also smiled and gently urged Cassidy up off of her lap. "Alright then, I believe it is about time for you to be getting dressed."

With a little bounce in her step, Cassidy nodded once and headed for the zippered garment bag hanging in the corner. "Yep, I'll be right back."

Andy sat in the chair that Terry had used to do her hair and looked in the large mirror. Her hair was perfect. It would go exactly right with the dress she was going to wear, just like her mother had said it would. Glancing at the clock on her cell phone, Andy nodded. It wasn't going to be long now before the others would return to help her get into that dress. She almost couldn't believe the turns her life had taken to get her to this point. She thought back to the beginning of her turbulent relationship with Miranda, not the weekend after the brunette issue was published, but farther back, back to the time that Miranda had admitted that her feelings had begun. The memory used to make her cry, but now, Andy smiled a bit as she recalled the royal chewing she had received regarding her sweater and the color Cerulean Blue. The last line of that rant still echoed in her mind from time to time.

Andy laughed softly at the words... choice, and selected,,, because they brought to mind another conversation she'd had with Miranda, much later in their association. In a luxurious town car, driving through Paris.

" I don't think I'm like that. I couldn't do what you did to Nigel, Miranda. I couldn't do something like that."

"You already did. To Emily."

"That's not what I... no, that was different. I didn't have a choice."

Choices, Andy thought and remembered Tante's subdued voice as they'd watched the sunrise.

Looking at herself in the mirror, Andy smiled softly at her reflection and spoke quietly, "It really does all come down to choices, doesn't it?" She didn't get a chance to answer herself, because there was a commotion outside the door to the room.

"No sir, you can't go in there."

"Yes I can... I'm family. I have to see her..."

Andy gasped and was across the room in a flash. Opening the door, she stared at the frozen tableau she'd caused by her appearance. She blinked then broke the silence. "Daddy?"

"Hi, Sweetheart... Can I talk to you?"

"Um... yeah..." She nodded. "Yeah." She motioned her father into the room, signaling to the security man that it was okay at the same time.

He nodded, but didn't like it, and as soon as the man and his daughter were behind the closed door, he radioed the situation to his boss.

Miranda watched the activity in her dressing tent with tolerant amusement. There was music playing, loud enough for even Andrea's tastes, a trait she was not happy about Cassidy emulating, and both girls were giggling as Terry finished making Cassidy's hair match her sister's French braid style. Serena was trying to put some last touches on Cassidy's makeup and they were all singing to a fairly popular tune, if their familiarity with the lyrics was any way to judge. This particular singer was not yet influential enough to turn the tide of fashion. By the enjoyment of the girls, and the others, Miranda recognized that the artist was someone to watch for future trends.

"Okay." Terry pronounced Cassidy's hair finished and motioned her up and out of the chair. Turning to their mercurial boss, the hairdresser motioned Miranda over to the dresser. "Your turn."

Standing, Miranda adjusted the robe around her and moved to sit in front of the large mirror. With a very bland expression, Miranda waited. She smiled as Terry lifted her hands as if to adjust some lock of hair, then lowered them just as quickly. Blue eyes pinned the woman's reflection in the mirror as one eyebrow quirked upward. "Problem?"

Terry laughed. "No, just that I'm an idiot for thinking..." She shook her head. "I'm not going to touch one hair on your iconic head." She grinned at Serena when the Brazilian chuckled. "It would be sacrilege!"

Serena nodded. "I agree."

Miranda also chuckled. "Ridiculous." Grabbing a brush, she proceeded to do her hair as she always did it in the mornings before work. "It's just hair..." Tossing the brush back down on the dresser, Miranda smiled at the reflections of her girls moving up on either side of her.

"You look great, Mom." Cassidy hugged her tightly and kissed her cheek.

"You sure do..." Caroline also wrapped her arms around Miranda and kissed her other cheek. Resting her chin on Miranda's shoulder, she studied their reflections. "We need to get a picture of us, like this."

Protesting that, Miranda pointed out. "We aren't dressed yet!"

"We are." The girls chorused.

Miranda laughed, noting that the girls were indeed fully clothed and she was the only one in the room yet to put on her dress.

"Shall I help you dress, Miranda?" Serena's eyes sparkled at her boss, partially because of the scene she was witnessing. The few interactions she had witnessed between Miranda and her daughters were always very heartwarming to watch. And partially because, although she wasn't supposed to discuss, The Event, Serena often couldn't help herself from uttering little reminding teases about the incident. "I would be more than happy to help."

"Ha!" Miranda pointed her finger at the tall beauty and chided, with amusement. "You're a cheeky thing aren't you?" She had long since gotten over her accidental exposure to Serena. The small, more often than not, tasteful reminders of the incident frequently amused her more than anything. It was actually nice to have an "in-joke" with someone other than Andrea. She was surprised when the amused grin dropped from Serena's face and the woman's jaw went slack. She heard a quiet, awed sound escape the Brazilian's lips, something that sounded very much like, "Baaaahhhh..." Turning toward the door, Miranda smiled. Of course, nothing less would revert Serena back to her native language. "Emily..." She complimented her loyal friend, "You look lovely."

"Thank you, Miranda."

It was Miranda's turn to lose her expression as she realized the consternation being displayed on her assistant's face. "What is it?"

"It's... um..." Emily swallowed hard and looked back through the door, down the corridor, across the width of the main tent, to the other closed dressing room door. "Andy's... father is here."

Miranda stood immediately. "Oh?"

Nodding, Emily explained, "Security called me a few moments ago..."

"I see." Miranda had moved so that she too could see out her door and over to Andrea's. It took everything she had not to go running over there, but her iron will held her in good stead, for now. "Perhaps we should let them talk for a moment."

Emily's eyes widened but she nodded. "Yes, Miranda." Turning to leave, she was stopped by Miranda's hollow voice.

"Don't go."

Opening then closing her mouth, Emily nodded and stepped back into the room, automatically reaching for the door.

"Leave it open."

With a quick glance at Serena and Terry, Emily took her hand away from the doorknob and nodded once before she continued on into the room. "Yes, Miranda." She wasn't sure their inscrutable boss had even heard her as Miranda's gaze was fixed on the door across the way. The only time her eyes lost contact with Andrea's door was when the girls, after glancing at each other, quickly left the room.

Andy pulled the robe surrounding her a little tighter, wishing she knew what to say to the man. She tried to think about what Miranda would say and fought the urge to laugh out loud. No, in this instance she would not be following Miranda's probable approach to the situation.

There was awkward silence between them until Richard spoke quietly. "You look beautiful..."

"I'm not even dressed yet... Daddy." Andy smiled. "But thanks."

"Listen, Sweetheart..." Richard sighed. "I know you weren't happy about my reaction to your... announcement." Suddenly he found his arms filled with a joyous Andy.

"Thank you... thank you, Daddy!" Andy hugged him tightly. "I knew you'd see reason..."

"Andy..." Richard tried to untangle himself from his daughter. "Andy... Baby... listen to me."

"Huh?" Pulling away, Andy searched her father's face. "What?"

"I need to tell you something..." He knew the expression on his face was pained, it had to be. He didn't want to hurt his little girl, but, "There is something you need to know... about..." He forced himself to say her name. "Miranda."

"What?" Andy shook her head as she backed away from him. The real reason for his visit becoming clearer by the moment. "Daddy," she warned. "Don't do this..."

"I have to!" Richard sighed. "You deserve to know, the truth."

"Grandma!" Caroline and Cassidy ran up to the two women enjoying their tea. Caroline spoke for them. "You need to come quick."

Dorothy turned to face the upset children. "What's wrong? Has something happened to Andy?"

"Sort of." Cassidy glanced at her sister then continued, concern lacing her tone. "Her father's here."

"What?" Dorothy stood quickly. "Richard, is here?"

Caroline nodded, "Security called Emily about it a few minutes ago. We could tell that Mom wants to go and check on Andy, but she told us to give them a few minutes to talk..."

Cassidy took up the story, "We're not sure that's such a good idea." She swallowed hard, "What if.. what if he convinces her to call off the wedding... to leave Mom?"

Tante chuckled and reassured her great-grand-nieces. "Don't you worry about that. Miriam and Andrea love each other more than anything... nothing he can say will change her mind."

Dorothy fretted along with the girls. "My husband can be very... persuasive."

Louise shook her head. "I don't care if he can sell snow to Eskimos. He won't, can't, say anything to make Andy stop loving Miriam."

Nodding at that, Dorothy exhaled softly. "You're right, he can't..." She tsked her tongue against her teeth. "And he's not going to be happy about that either..." She gestured in the direction of the tents. "I should probably go, be there, to check on them."

"Yep." Louise stood, but waved Dorothy on. She linked her elbow with Caroline. "We'll be along."

Caroline nodded to her sister and watched as Cassidy and their Grandma sped off toward Andy's dressing tent. She paused for a minute and asked, "So, where do you think we should look first?"

Louise chuckled and patted the small arm in hers. "You're quick."

"I've been told I have good genes." Caroline sighed. "I wish these dresses had a pocket for cell phones..."

"Well, since the ceremony is so close, I have an idea." Louise guided the child toward the hotel elevators.


Part 54

" The truth?" Andy wrapped her arms around her middle. "I love her, Daddy. That is the truth!"

"But she..." He hated this, and hated Miranda for making him do this to his baby. "She only wants to possess you, manipulate you... she wants to control your life."

"No, no Daddy... you have it all wrong." Andy tried to get the man to see reason. "She loves me. She wouldn't do something like that..." This was, however, still Miranda they were talking about and Andy amended her statement slightly. "Not to me."

"But she is!" Richard took a deep breath. "She came to see me... did you know that?"

Andy backed away some more, again shaking her head. "No..."

"She did, Andy. The day your mother and your Gram came here to visit you, she flew to Cincinnati to see me."

"no..." Andy could feel the sinking in her stomach, and then whispered, almost to herself, "She was in meetings all day that day..."

"Well her ten o'clock was with me..." Reaching into his inside jacket pocket, Richard pulled out the prenuptial agreement Miranda had given him. "This is a pre-nup that she wanted me to help her manipulate you into signing." He handed over the document.

"But I've wanted this for weeks." Andy scanned the pages, frowning as she read. "She's been adamant about me being entitled to everything a spouse should be entitled to..."

"She wanted me to tell you what it says on the initial scan." He pointed to the paper. "It makes it look like you don't get anything."

Andy laughed, "I know her better than that. It has always been her intention that we be truly married, sharing everything." She searched his face and would have smiled if she didn't feel so much like crying. "Daddy, I'm not stupid... according to this I would get even more than what a spouse would expect to receive." She tossed the paper aside. "I've told her before I won't sign it..."

Richard sighed in relief. "Good. Now you're seeing reason. We can call this whole thing off..."

"What?" Andy couldn't believe her father was this clueless. She raised her voice a bit. "No!"

"She's manipulating you!" He overrode her protest loudly. "All she wants is to get her way!" Frustration added a decibel to his voice. "She doesn't care about you!"

Andy tried to drown out her father's accusations, shouting even louder than he had managed. "You're wrong, Daddy!"

"He certainly is."

Andy inhaled shakily and turned to see Miranda standing in the doorway. "Miranda!" Smiling, Andy crossed the space between them quickly and wrapped her arms around her fiancee tightly.

Returning the embrace, Miranda looked over Andrea's shoulder at the man causing all the trouble. "I had thought you might need to talk, but then when the volume increased, I decided it was time to... intervene."

"Of course you did..." Richard nearly sneered. "And obviously if you decided something then that's what happens..."

Ignoring him for the moment, Miranda pulled away from Andrea slightly to look her in the eyes. "You alright?"

With a tremulous smile, Andy nodded and lightly brushed her fingertips against Miranda's cheek. "I am now."

"Dammit Andy!" His voice was at a near bellow now. "Can't you see what she's doing?"

"Daddy..." Andy demonstrated the volume they needed to keep. "Lower your voice." She glanced at Miranda then continued her instructions to her father. "If you can't keep a civil tone, I will have security throw you out."

"She's done this," Richard ran his fingers through his graying hair and ground his teeth together, but kept his voice low. "She's turning you against me!"

"No, Daddy... I'm not against you. I never have been." Andy smiled sadly. "It's you who's against me."

"She tried to manipulate you..."

"Mr. Sachs," Miranda smiled, her coldest business smile, and admitted, "I am a very manipulative person. I've found that many times that is the only way to get what you want." He began to speak but she beat him to it. "However, I would never do that... to Andrea."

"But you did!" He scooped up the pre-nup from where Andy had tossed it and shook it at her. "You wanted me to..." Miranda interrupted his rant.

"What I wanted, Mr. Sachs..." Miranda smiled, "is not necessarily what you think I wanted." She shook her head at his obvious confusion. "You're daughter and I have a very good relationship. She has already seen that document. Even if she hadn't, did you truly think that you would have to explain it to her? She is quite intelligent."

"What?" He looked at the papers in his hand.

Andy explained it to him, gently. "She wasn't manipulating me, Daddy." Again resting her cheek against Miranda's temple, Andy spelled it out for him. "She knew how much the rift between us was hurting me. She wanted you to talk to me."

"I... I don't..."

"She wasn't manipulating me, Daddy." Andy sighed. "She manipulated, you."

"I..." Miranda searched for the correct words, "merely wanted this... situation, resolved."

"I know." Andy shifted and kissed the temple that had been warmed by her cheek, "And I love you for it. Thank you."

"Thank you?? Thank you?!" Richard was incredulous. "This is exactly what I'm talking about! She has you so brainwashed that she can do any sort of devious thing and you thank her for it!"

"You don't understand." Andy was tired of discussing this. Moving away from Miranda, Andy sat in the chair in front of the dresser and spoke to her father. The resignation in her tone was evident to them all. "If you've said your piece, you can leave now."

"Andy..." Richard didn't want to leave things like this, he needed Andy to listen to him, "Baby.."

"Don't call me that!" Andy's eyes flashed. "Don't ever call me that again."


Andy turned on Miranda. "Don't you defend him..."

"I think you know me better than that." Miranda spoke calmly and moved to stand next to the distraught woman. She put her hand on Andrea's shoulder. "However, I don't want you to say anything you will regret later."

"I won't regret it, Miranda." Andy looked from Miranda's loving face to her father's grimacing one. "He's the one that will regret it."

"Good God, Richard."

All three occupants of the room turned toward the voice at the door. Miranda nearly smiled at the look in the woman's eyes. It wasn't only Richard's side of the family Andrea took after.

Dorothy continued into the room, directly toward her husband. "What have you done?"

"I had to tell her, Dot."


"I couldn't just stand by and..."

"Yes!" Dorothy put her hand on Richard's chest and sighed. "You could have, you should have..." Shaking her head, she pleaded with him. "Don't do this... come with me."

"Dot... I have to..."

"No!" Dorothy grabbed his lapel and began to pull him toward the door. He resisted forcing her to turn back to face him. She nearly begged the man, "Don't do this to Andy... don't make her choose between her past, and her future."


"You'll lose, Richard..." Dorothy sighed and spoke quietly to her husband. "If you push her, you'll lose."

"She's acting like a child!" Richard kept his voice low, intending only Dorothy to hear. "Why would she choose this....woman, over us?? We didn't raise her to turn her back on her family."

"You raised her to think for herself!"

Richard's head snapped to the door to find his mother glaring at him. "Mother..."

"That's right." Pava shook her head and crossed the room. "I am your Mother, and you're going to listen to what I have to say."

"Mom... not now." He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. "You don't understand."

"Richard Andrew Sachs... I am, at this moment, as close to turning you over my knee as I have ever been in my life." Pava clenched her hands at her sides. "I understand more than you realize and you have got to start dealing with the fact that Andy is happy!"

"But she can't be! Not like I am with her mother... not like you were with Dad." Richard's forehead wrinkled in confusion as he watched his mother seem to wilt.

The weight of the past years pressed on Pava's shoulders, and her voice became resigned. "Son, we need to talk."


"Now." Pava rubbed the back of her neck, so as not to mess up the make-up that had been so carefully applied earlier. "Do you want to come with me, or should I ask the others to leave for a bit?"

"Just go, Daddy." Andy tugged on her robe. "I still need to finish getting ready."

"You're still going through with it?" Richard was incredulous. "After everything she's done? You're still choosing her?"

Licking her lips, Andy glanced at the wonderment in Miranda's eyes and smiled a small soft smile. "Always."

With a frustrated sound, Richard threw his hands in the air and stomped out of the room.

Pava shook her head as her gaze followed her son. She spoke to the rest of the room. "I'll speak with him. He won't cause any trouble at the ceremony."

"You bet he won't." Dorothy nodded at her mother-in-law and they both followed the upset man, intent on catching up with him before he got to the press pit.

"You alright?" Miranda watched her fiancee's face closely.

"No..." Andy sighed, "I didn't expect that."

"I'm sorry." Miranda rested her forehead against Andrea's. "I had hoped he would come to his senses..."

"You meant well." Andy moved to the couch and sat, relaxing back into the corner of it. "I wish he wasn't so..."

"I know, my Darling." Miranda walked over, placing her hand on Andrea's shoulder. "I truly am sorry."

Andy smiled and took the hand on her shoulder, tugging lightly to bring Miranda down onto her lap. "Let's just forget all this... run away...You already have two weeks off... let's just go to the house and be by ourselves."

Searching Andrea's eyes, Miranda tried to determine if the woman was serious. "Is that what you honestly want?"

Chuckling at that, Andy pulled Miranda into a tight hug. "Oh God, you would do that, wouldn't you?" She laughed louder as she released the hold and looked into Miranda's loving eyes. "You would just throw all this away, all the planning, all the time, everything... if I wanted to go."

"Of course." Miranda smiled. "Have I not told you that I would do anything for you?"

"Yeah..." Andy smiled. "Um.. do you think... maybe, we could practice that end bit of the ceremony... just a few times?" She smiled wider as the question drew a true laugh from Miranda. "God, I love that sound." She gently traced the older woman's delicate cheekbones and sighed, "I love you."

"And I, love you." Miranda leaned in to comply with Andrea's request for practice with the kiss. The moment their lips touched Miranda was again ready to acquiesce to Andrea's previous request as well. Running off to the house, right now, seemed like an excellent idea to her. They deepened the kiss and Miranda sighed as Andrea's hand found its way inside the robe she wore. She loved Andrea's hands. She loved Andrea's hands on her. Moaning as the soft caresses shifted to purposeful exploration, Miranda broke the kiss. "Darling, you're starting something we don't have time to finish."

Andy chuckled, low and sensual, and continued her search for bare skin. "They won't start the ceremony without us."

"Mmmm... very true..." Miranda agreed, "but, there are preparations to be made..." She gasped as Andrea found a particularly sensitive area. "And anyone could walk in here at any moment."

"That is true..." Andy grinned wickedly. "Who will it be, do you think?" She tugged the tie holding Miranda's robe loosely closed. "Who do you think will walk in on us, hmmm?" Andy offered some choices between kisses. "Terry? Serena?"


"Ma?" Andy licked then kissed Miranda's pulse point.

"Oh no..." Miranda groaned at Andrea's touch and knew she was losing this battle.

"Caroline or Cassidy?..." Nipping at Miranda's ear, Andy's lips traced Miranda's jawline down to find her mouth, ready and waiting. After a long kiss Andy offered a final option. "Emily?"

"Oh, no..." Miranda pulled herself away. "We can't... not here..."

"Shhh..." Andy removed her hands from the inside of Miranda's robe and quickly began rubbing her back; with long strokes, up and down. "Easy.. I know... shhh... it's okay..."

Slowly relaxing, Miranda shook her head, laughed at how insane she felt and admitted, "I wouldn't have been able to resist much longer..."

Andy continued her impromptu backrub and leaned forward to find Miranda's ear, whispering, "Me either."

They both jumped slightly as a soft knock on the door was followed quickly by the door opening. The new arrival saw their position and gasped, "Oh! I'm sorry." She turned quickly to go. "I'll just..."

"No!" Andy smiled as Miranda stood, quickly tying her robe closed, "Mary, wait!" She stood too, adjusting her robe as well. "Please, come in..."

Miranda nodded and whispered, "There's one we didn't expect.." then spoke louder, "I was just leaving."

Mary was embarrassed. "I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to..."

"It really is fine." Miranda kissed Andy quickly then moved toward the door, patting Mary's arm as she passed. "I do need to go."

Andy watched Miranda leave then resettled onto the couch, leaving room for Mary to sit next to her. "What can I do for you?"

"I, um... wanted to talk to you, for a minute." Mary hesitated then sat down on the couch. "If you don't mind?"

Much calmer now, Andy smiled and nodded. "Sure..." She saw the flush on Mary's cheeks and asked, "Does this have something to do with Gram?" Smiling at the astonishment on Mary's face, Andy asked, "About how you feel toward her?"

"How did you..." Mary wilted a bit. "Is it that obvious?"

"It is to me." Andy didn't voice the rest of her thought, and anyone else who has seen you together.

"But..." Mary berated herself. She'd been so careful! She didn't dance with Pava. She never really touched her when other people were in the room.

"I can see it," Andy explained as she met Mary's gaze, "in your eyes. I see that look all the time, when Miranda looks at me, and in the mirror when I think about Miranda..." She assured her visitor, "It's okay. Gram loves you too. You know that, right?"

"Yeah," Mary smiled even as tears filled her eyes."I know. I've known for a long, long time."

"So what's the problem?"

Mary looked down at her hands, clasped in front of her and admitted, "I'm afraid."

"Ah..." Andy acknowledged. "That is a problem." She asked, quietly, "And Gram? Is she... afraid too?"

"Her?" Mary shook her head. "No... Pava has never been afraid of anything." Mary laughed, ironically. "If she'd had her way we'd have both gotten divorces and run off together...she was always so....fearless." Shaking her head at those crazy plans and wild ideas, Mary sighed. "And then..."

Andy licked her lips and continued the sentence, "And then... my daddy came along." Again, Mary looked astonished that Andy could know that. Andy shrugged, "I can guess some things." Winking at the older woman, Andy reminded her, "I have a fearless woman of my own and I know that even seemingly fearless people have weaknesses." Patting Mary's clasped hands, Andy smiled. "I know that if Miranda thought the girls would be... disappointed in her, for any reason, it would kill her. And I know that she would go to... great lengths to keep that from happening."

Mary willed the tears not to fall from her eyes and nodded. "Yeah... after he was born, everything with us just... slowly, stopped."

"And she never told him..." Leaning back into the soft surface, Andy studied the tent's ceiling. "Wow, this is really messed up."

"She blames herself," Mary sniffled. "She thinks if she'd told him sooner, that he would be.... better able to accept you, and Miranda."

"No." Andy groaned at the thought of her Gram putting any of her father's attitude on herself, "Telling him would have just turned him against her. He never would have allowed us to be around her after that..." Something occurred to Andy, a comment she'd heard at her birthday barbeque came back to her. "Aunt Dawn knows..."

"Yeah," Mary nodded. "Dawn has always known, but she kept quiet in public. She did razz Pava about it in private quite a bit." Mary shrugged and only needed one word to explain that attitude. "Sisters."

"Ah... right." Andy had heard the girls, when they thought she wasn't listening, razzing each other about different things so she guessed she had an idea of what being sisters entailed. With Chad it was different, but she gave him a hard time about some things as well. Now something Mary said chimed in her head and she repeated it, "Told him sooner??" Andy sat up. "She's telling him... now? About you and her??"

"I don't know if she's telling him about... us, but I know she intended on telling him about, her."

"That's her decision I guess..." Andy became lost in thought for a moment and spoke quietly, almost to herself. "Her choice."

Mary sighed. "If I wasn't such a coward I would be there with her, but I can't even dance in public with her." She looked at Andy. "How do you do it? How do you find the strength to deal with... all the things you have to deal with?"

"You mean, the paparazzi following us around, having our pictures in the tabloids, false stories, lying ex-husbands, crazy stalkers and a gaggle of press at our wedding?" Andy grinned as Mary nodded to all those things. "Well, if you were listening, I don't do it alone... Miranda and I rely on each other for support. If we didn't have that... what would be the point?" At Mary's silence, Andy shrugged. "I can't imagine my life without Miranda. To be with her means I deal with all those things I mentioned. Would it be easier not to have to deal with that? Certainly... Would it be worth giving up Miranda to not have to deal with it? Not even remotely. I will do anything to be with her, have her in my life, be in her life."

Mary played with a bracelet that surrounded her wrist and nodded as she listened to Andy's speech. "I felt that way too, only anything seemed to be too much and I chose the safe route. I couldn't deal with what a life with Pava would bring..." With a deep cleansing breath, Mary spoke softly. "I know that I'm not your family..."

"Whoa..." Andy shook her head and smiled as Mary's head snapped up. "My Gram loves you... that makes you my family."

With a bark of laughter, Mary covered her mouth even as the tears spilled down her cheeks. "That's going to take some getting used to."

Winking at that, Andy handed Mary a tissue and chuckled, "It's easier than you think."

"Well then." Mary wiped the tears from her eyes and unclasped the bracelet she wore, "I want you to carry this, when you get married." She handed over the charm bracelet. "Pava... Pava gave it to me, years ago when we... first..." Shaking her head, clearing the memories, Mary continued. "She said she was going to get hundreds of charms for me...for our life together..." Her voice failed her as Andy reverently took the bracelet, then she blurted, "But I want it back!" She laughed to cover her tears. "It's your something borrowed, okay?"

"Of course." Andy hugged the older woman. "Thank you!"

Mary held on tightly and whispered, "I'm so glad you have the option...to be with the one you love." She pulled away, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "Back then, we just didn't really have a choice. Not where we lived..." Standing, Mary took a step toward the door. "I should go, find her..."

Nodding, Andy also stood. "Okay... I need to finish getting ready." She watched Mary leave and only looked at the bracelet still in her hand after the door had closed. The delicate silver chain only held one charm. Andy touched the tiny silver heart and couldn't help the tear that leaked from her eye. "Oh, Gram..."

Dorothy and Pava caught up to Richard quickly and guided him past the reporters. Pava shot Louise a grateful look as the older woman and both the girls kept the vultures distracted. She followed Dorothy, keeping Richard between them, to the elevators. The ride up was thankfully silent. Pava couldn't tell what Dorothy or Richard were thinking, but her mind was running all the different scenarios in her head, not liking the outlook on most of them. Trailing along behind the couple, Pava found herself entering Dorothy's hotel room. As soon as the door clicked behind her, Pava jumped when Dorothy rounded on Richard.

"What were you thinking!!"

"Dot!" Slumping into the cushioned chair, Richard buried his face in his hands, "Don't yell at me."

"Why not?!" Pava held herself back, unwilling to become physically violent at this stage of her life. "You deserve it."

"I was only trying to..."

"What?" Dorothy threw her arms in the air and paced the room, "Force your daughter to think like you? Make her choose between her father and the person she loves?? How can you possibly think that would help anything?!"

"She's making a mistake."

"No." Pava sighed, "She's making the exact right choice for her." She looked at her son sadly, "It's not your life, not your decision. It's not up to you to say what makes her happy."

Jumping to his feet, Richard countered his mother's statement, "I'm her father!"

"That doesn't give you the right to control her life..." Pava sighed, "Just like being my son doesn't give you the right to control mine."

Richard barked with laughter, "Yours?! I've never controlled your life!"

"Sit down, Richard." Pava rubbed the back of her neck, "It's time you heard... the truth."

Dorothy blinked and tugged her husband down onto the couch, settling next to him. Sliding her hand into his, Dorothy laced their fingers together and squeezed slightly. He was being a jerk, but he was still her husband, and she did love him. She had a good idea what Pava was going to say and wondered how Richard was going to take it. When Pava began to speak, telling them about her life, before she was married, before Richard... and the decisions she made after the man was born, Dorothy felt tears trailing down her cheeks. Pava never once named the woman she had been in love with, but Dorothy had a good idea about that person's identity. What she had no idea about were the sacrifices Pava had made, for her son. Richard hadn't known either, obviously. His incredulous face as his mother's words impacted him was enough for Dorothy to know he was shocked, but his grip on her hand reinforced the idea that he wasn't taking the revelation well. She hoped he got over it soon though, because the wedding ceremony was going to begin, and come Hell or high water, Dorothy intended on being there.

Louise focused on the reporters, holding their attention as Pava and Dorothy ushered a man she'd never seen, presumably Andrea's father, past them. She had been ready for many of their questions regarding the wedding, but then one of the men pushed a microphone in Caroline's face and asked, "How do you feel about your dad's relationship with Candice Gaines?"

Caroline took her sister's hand when she saw Cassidy's frown. She watched her sister immediately begin to put up her emotional walls then Caroline replied calmly, "We have been advised by our father's lawyer and the authorities not to discuss the matter due to the ongoing investigation into Candice Gaines and her partner's activities." She grinned as Cassidy composed herself and also spoke calmly.

"Now if you will excuse us, we have a few things to attend to before the ceremony begins." With a socially acceptable smile, Cassidy gestured to the walkway that led to the hotel, "I'm sure the guests will begin arriving soon. Please be respectful in your interviews."

Nodding at that, Caroline warned them, "Yes, watch your boundaries. Emily will have no problem whatsoever revoking your press passes, not only for this event but for an unforeseen number of events in the future and if you're lucky, she won't mention it to our mother." The murmurs of agreement to that statement along with some slightly louder comments about "Miranda's devil dog" made both girls smirk. Caroline linked her elbow with Tante Louise and waited for Cassidy to move to the other side of the older woman, before they began walking back toward the dressing rooms.

Louise patted the arms around hers, "I'm impressed with the way you handled yourselves back there."

"We've dealt with the press before." Caroline gestured back toward the group they'd just left, "Those guys are sweethearts compared to some of the vultures we've encountered."

Cassidy giggled. "They're just scared of Emily."

"That's the truth." Caroline laughed. "They have good reason to be too."

"But," Louise was confused. "She's just an assistant..."

Caroline shook her head and corrected the older woman gently. "She's Mom's First Assistant...for now."

"For now?"

"Yeah," Cassidy explained. "In two weeks, Emily will start her new job as the Head of the Events Planning Department at Elias-Clarke."

"From assistant to head of a department?" Louise was surprised at that jump.

"From Mom's First Assistant to the head of any department is practically a demotion." Caroline shrugged. "Emily won't have the power she's used to, but she'll have some, and a bigger paycheck, plus she'll be doing something she likes."

"She likes working for Mom. She wouldn't have taken the job if Mom hadn't made her." Cassidy rolled her eyes. "She worships Mom."


Caroline nodded, "Yeah, in a way... she wants to be like mom... everyone wants to be Mom. They think she has this incredibly glamorous, perfect, life and they all want that too."

"They just don't understand how hard Mom works, or what she gives up for that life." Cassidy stopped talking as they reached the door to their mother's dressing room.

"Oh!" Louise chuckled, "I've already spoken with Miriam... I would like to have a word with Andrea now."

Caroline nodded for Cassidy to go on. "Okay Tante... we can go see Ma. I need to talk to her too." She paused before they turned around toward Andy's dressing room. "Cass, the guests really will start arriving soon. We need to be ready to play in just a little while."

"Sure..." Cassidy smiled. "Just tell me when." With that, Cassidy slipped into their mother's dressing room quickly. From this point on the doors would be opened and closed quickly and as little as possible to limit the possibility of the brides' dresses being seen before the ceremony.

Caroline sighed as she walked with Louise to Andy's door. "Cass never gets nervous about performing."

"I'm sure she does, Dear." Louise chuckled. "She's just a bit better at dealing with it... much like Miriam is, I suspect."

"Ha!" Caroline spoke as she opened the door to Andy's dressing room. "Mom's not afraid of anything!"

Andy looked up at her visitors and answered the statement she heard, "You'd be surprised at what scares your mom, Munchkin." She smiled at her visitors. "What's up?"

"I need word with you." Tante's eyes slid sideways for a moment.

With a grin, Andy nodded. "Sure." She turned to Caroline. "Can you do me a favor, Munchkin?"

"Um.. sure."

"Go find my brother and tell him I want to see him for a minute, before the ceremony."

"Oh, sure!" Caroline nodded. "I'll go find him then I'll be back, I... um... need to talk to you too, before Cass and I start playing for the guests."

"Thanks, Munchkin." Andy smiled as Caroline headed for the door.

"No problem, Ma." She grinned. "Be right back."

Louise chuckled as she settled on the small couch in the room. "You're very good with them... the girls."

"They're good kids." Andy sat next to Louise. "What can I do for you?"

"Well," Louise began, "I suppose you've heard the saying "Something old, something new..."

"Something borrowed, something blue." Andy smiled. "Yeah, it sounds familiar." She lifted her wrist to jingle the bracelet that Mary had given her. "I already have the something borrowed."

Louise nodded, "Good.. good..." Reaching into her pocket, she closed her hand around the coin she found there, "The entire saying though, is "'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue... and a silver sixpence in her shoe.'" She handed over the coin. "Traditionally, the left shoe is considered the lucky one."

"Oh..." Andy smiled as she looked at the coin in her hand, then her smile faded. "oh..."

Tante blinked. "Problem?"

"Well..." Andy chuckled and stood, speaking as she walked across the room. "The thing is..." Andy moved behind the dressing partition, and returned with a box. "My shoes aren't exactly conducive to keeping things in them." Opening the container, Andy showed the older woman the items in question.

Grunting at the contents of the box, Louise clicked her teeth together a few times and then grinned at Andy. "Got any tape?" She laughed when Andy graced her with a megawatt smile.

Caroline found her target in the hotel lobby, trying to chat up two models. She smirked at their total disinterest. She knew their type, clackers were rarely interested in anything that didn't help them or their career, and decided to help her uncle out. Caroline was not unknown among the denizens of Runway. Her and her sister's reputations were nearly as fierce as their mothers, and she knew many times they were referred to as the "Devil's Spawn". Making sure the women saw her as she walked up to their group, Caroline smiled her most polite, most terrifying, smile. "Hello," she turned, dismissing them in the process. "Uncle Chad, Ma would like a word with you."

"Oh, sure." Chad smiled at the girl then turned to the models. "Sorry ladies, duty calls."

The women exchanged glances and the blonde spoke coyly, suddenly very interested in the man that seemed comfortable with the Devil's Spawn. "We'll catch up with you at the reception."

He shrugged. "Yeah, whatever..."

Caroline chuckled as she and her uncle walked away. "You are so in..."

Chad laughed. "How old are you again?"

Rolling her eyes at that, Caroline just tugged on his tailored Armani jacket. "C'mon, don't keep your sister waiting."

"You know I think it's the coolest thing ever that Andy has kids now, right?" Chad grinned down at his new niece. "I really never imagined ever getting to be an uncle. And I never imagined having nieces as old as you right off the bat."

Caroline grinned. "I never really imagined having an uncle as young as you."

They slipped past the reporters, who were busy interviewing some early arrivals, and stopped briefly at Andy's door. Caroline knocked, and entered quickly when she heard the quiet, "Come in".

"Hey Andy... Here's your brother, as requested."

Laughing at that, Andy grinned, "Thanks, Munchkin." She hesitated a moment then grinned as Caroline gestured over her shoulder with her thumb.

"I'm gonna go check out what Mom's doing."

Andy smiled. "Thanks..." She watched the girl leave then turned to face her "little" brother. "You look very handsome..."

"Yeah?" Chat grinned and preened a little, "I clean up nice, eh?" He knew something serious was bothering his sister. "What's up?"

"Dad's here."

"What?" Chad instinctively moved closer to Andy. "Are you okay?"

Nodding, Andy reassured him. "Yeah, it was just a bit upsetting." She wrung her hands together and looked apologetic. "I, um... wanted to ask you to... um..."

"Keep Dad from making a scene?"

"Yeah..." Andy sighed. "You've always been able to control him best."

"Ha!" Chad grinned. "You're the one who's always had him wrapped around your little finger."

"Not anymore."

Running his fingers through his hair, Chad nodded. "Okay... This is your day, Andy. I won't let him mess it up."


He shrugged and grinned. "What else are brothers for?"

With a bark of laughter, Andy moved forward and hugged him. "They're for a lot more, little brother... and thank you, for all of it."

"You're welcome." Chad patted her back. "Love ya, Sis." He pulled away and tugged on her robe's lapel. "Guests are beginning to arrive. You better get dressed." He grinned. "I gotta get out there and make sure everyone sits in the right places. Miranda's brothers are directing traffic at the moment, but Dougie and I are supposed to take over soon."

Nodding mutely, Andy realized just how close the ceremony was and swallowed past the lump in her throat. "Okay..." She smiled weakly, "See ya in a few then..."

Winking at the suddenly nervous bride, Chad headed for the door.

Andy grabbed her phone and sent a couple of quick texts. She could manage the dress herself, but for the shoes, she would need help.

Mary was out on the balcony of their room, leaning against the rail with her forearms when she heard the door behind her slide open. She knew who it was, but waited for Pava to speak.

"Thought I'd find you here."

"I needed somewhere quiet, to think." Mary continued to look out across the magnificent view of the island. "So how'd it go?"

Pava shook her head, unwilling to discuss her stubborn son. She deflected the question instead. "Whatcha thinkin' about?"

Glancing at her companion, Mary sighed. "Us."

"And?" Pava watched her friend closely. "What did you decide?"

"I..." Wrapping her arms around her ribs, Mary shook her head. "I'm scared." She swallowed hard. "It's been so long."

"Yes," Pava nodded, "it has." She reached out, putting her hand on Mary's shoulder. "No one knows for sure about us, or anything about our past, or our friendship now. There is nothing wrong with keeping our relationship private." That was the sticking point for Mary and Pava knew it. "Publicly we can simply be friends."

"Do you know what you're saying?"

"I'm saying," Pava sighed, "I'm saying, I will wait for you to be ready." Leaning in, Pava kissed Mary's lips lightly then with a bit more fervor. Pulling away, she smiled, her fingertips brushing Mary's cheek lightly, "The ceremony will be starting soon..." Moving away, Pava reentered the hotel room.

Mary watched through the glass as Pava left the hotel room, supposedly on her way to the ceremony. She only waited a few moments before she followed.


Part 55

"That should do it." Blair stepped back, admiring her handiwork as much as the woman who wore it.

Miranda turned to look into the full length mirror and took a deep breath, standing a bit straighter, holding her shoulder's back, slightly elongating her neck. "Indeed." The strapless, sleeveless dress fit her like a second skin and had been intentionally chosen to show off what was, in Miranda's opinion, one of her best features. That Andrea commented on her neck and shoulders almost constantly helped that opinion considerably. The amount of time Andrea concentrated on the expanse of skin during their lovemaking only gave the young woman's words the credibility mere spoken platitudes lacked. Now though, the area seemed perhaps too much. She frowned as she tried to think of a quick solution.

Tilting her head, Blair nodded at Miranda's frown and agreed. "Yeah..." The ankle length dress itself was silvery white, matching Miranda's hair perfectly. There were thousands of shimmering nearly clear disks that covered the breast and torso section. Miranda had began calling them her "scales" almost instantly during the first fitting. It was the perfect dress for Miranda and also, not quite right. Anyone attending the festivities would be in awe of the older woman in this dress. It outlined her body and showed off the smooth skin that many people much younger than Miranda would kill for, but that was really for Andy today. The dress needed a half jacket, or, something. "Ah..." Blair clicked her teeth together and looked around the room. "I see now... hold on." Blair pulled a half-jacket and a diaphanous white scarf . Miranda was about to reach for the half-jacket when the door opened.

Emily and Serena entered the room, Serena nearly slamming into Emily as the shorter woman stopped suddenly at the sight of Miranda. The soft "Bloody Hell" her girlfriend uttered made Serena smile. She pushed Emily forward, encouraging the redhead, "Go on..."

With a deep breath, Emily approached Miranda and held out a thin, flat box. "Miranda, this... is for you." She handed over the item.

"I was certain the invitations specified no gifts..." Miranda accepted the box. "Did they not?"

"Yes, Miranda." Emily smiled. "They did, but this isn't so much a gift as it is, a tradition." She gestured for Miranda to open it.

Lifting the lid from the container, Miranda smiled. "Ah." Gently, she liberated the silk Hermes scarf from its resting place, then named the color. "Cerulean blue?"

Emily nodded. "Yes." She shrugged. "I know how much you wanted the collection for Andrea's last birthday, and she indicated that it had some sentimental value for her when she picked it as one of her colors... so I thought..."

"It's perfect," Miranda stepped forward and gave Emily a brief hug. Turning her attention to Blair, Miranda asked, "Don't you agree?"

Nodding at that Blair set aside the items in her hands and took the scarf, draping it over Miranda's shoulders. "Yes... now we just need..." She stopped speaking as Miranda picked a brooch up off the dresser. "Oh, yes, that's perfect." Attaching the scarf together with the brooch just below the hollow of Miranda's throat, Blair nodded, "Excellent." Leaning closer, Blair whispered. "You know what this is going to do to Andy, right?" The twinkle in Miranda's eye answered that question quite nicely and Blair chuckled. "You're so bad."

With a wink, Miranda turned to Emily. "Thank you. You were correct, the color does have meaning for both Andrea and myself. Speaking of which," She pulled a small wrapped package from the dresser drawer and handed it to Serena. "Would you please deliver this to Andrea?"

"Of course, Miranda." Serena took the package and with a nod and smile to Emily went to carry out her errand.

Miranda looked into the mirror again. Her fingertips brushed the scarf, then grazed the brooch. "Now I have something blue, and something old..."

"And something new," Cassidy handed her mother a tiny red shoe on a key ring. "It's a flash drive with a message for you from Ro and me, for later."

Miranda smiled at the tiny representation of a Prada shoe and nodded, "Thank you, Bobbsey." She attached the bauble to her bouquet then picked a plain flashdrive up off of the dresser, "Would you please give this to the DJ?"

"Sure." Cassidy took the drive and hugged her mom quickly. She murmured, "I love you, Mom..." When she pulled back she smiled at the rest of the assembled people, "The guests are arriving, so it's time for me and Ro to go do our thing." She looked at Emily. "When it's time for them to walk down the aisle, we'll play the bridesmaids down, then a few measures of "Here Comes the Bride." After that we'll do the less traditional version I came up with and meet them on the stage once they're in place."

Emily nodded. "Yes, good."

"Unless..." Cassidy grinned, "You want us to play the Imperial March instead..."

Miranda watched as Emily's eyes widened considerably, when the redhead realized that the song Cassidy was talking about was from Star Wars and always accompanied Darth Vader's scenes. Laughing loudly at her troublemaking daughter, Miranda waved off the suggestion. "As... appropriate as that piece may be, no changes to the ceremony will be required."

"Okay then..." Cassidy gave them all a jaunty salute and made her escape. It was time to get this show on the road.

Emily left a few moments later to make sure everything was being handled correctly.

The murmur of the guests became louder as their numbers grew but soon the girls would begin playing. The music would soothe the guests while they waited and set the mood for the ceremony. Emily glared at the ushers but had to admit they were doing a fine job.

Chad smiled at the couple who had just entered. "May I see your invitations please?" The requested items were handed over, one with a name imprinted on it, and one with the same name and the word guest next to it. Chad nodded. "If you will notice the color coding on the floor under the seats, please sit anywhere you wish in the white zone." He handed the cards back to them and smiled again. "Thank you for being here, Mr. Thakoon." He kept one eye on them as they dutifully found seats in the correct area, then turned all his attention to the man now entering. "May I see your invitation please?"

"Oh... sure..." He made a show of patting his pockets for a moment then produced the item. "Here ya go."

Chad looked at the folded card and frowned, "Um... hold on, just a moment." This was a situation Emily had warned them about. The gesture he used to tell the man to wait a moment was enough to bring Doug to his side, and Emily to have a hitch in her breath. That was all she had time to do, however, before two security guards, who had also seen Chad's holding gesture, were on either side of the man, escorting him out. Emily watched them go and knew he would be held until she could deal with him personally. The next man walking into the venue barely raised an eyebrow at the man being escorted away.

Doug smiled and patted Chad on the back, then returned to his side of the door, directing people to their correct color zone as smoothly as Chad was doing.

Chad pocketed the counterfeit invitation then put the thought of the gatecrasher out of his mind and got back to business, looking at the man next in line, "May I see your invitation please?"

"Certainly." He produced the card.

"Okay..." Chad smiled. "If you would notice the color coding under the seating. You may sit anywhere you like in the blue section." He handed the invitation back. "Thank you for being here, Mr. Holt." He watched the man for a second as he moved on up the aisle, then turned his attention to the next set of guests.

Doug smiled and handed the invitation back to the man in front of him, hoping his hands weren't shaking too much. "Thank you for being here, Mr. Lagerfeld." He let out a long slow breath as the man moved on down the rows of chairs to the blue section. Turning his attention to the next couple in line he smiled at the elderly woman and her escort. "Well hello."

Tante Louise smiled at the boy. "You're doing a good job, young man."

"Thanks." He waved off the attempt to pass their invitations to him, "I know who you are..." He grinned. "You can sit anywhere you like up front, in the non-color coded sections on either side."

Natalie nodded and re-linked her elbow with Tante. "Shall we?"

Emily nodded to herself and breathed a sigh of relief. This part was going as smoothly as could be expected. She resisted the urge to go take care of the gate crasher right now. The ceremony was too close to beginning. She had to be here for that. She watched as several more designers along with some of the titans of the publishing industry arrived. She also saw that Miranda's ex-husband, James, had settled into his seat with the large St. Bernard sitting quietly next to him. She had thought it was insanity when Andy had insisted that the dog be present, but the soft look Miranda had gotten when the suggestion had been made convinced her. Luckily the hotel was pet-friendly and James was familiar with the animal, or more accurately, Patricia was familiar with James.

The space was filling up fast, but Emily stepped outside for a moment to make a few phone calls. There were some last minute details she wanted to double check, again.

Andy looked at the item Serena had just handed her. "What is it?"

"She did not say." Serena smiled. "but I very much got the impression that you were to open it now."

"Mmm..." With only a bit of trepidation, Andy unwrapped the package and laughed, then her eyes narrowed and she began laughing again. She showed everyone present the scrap. "It's my "something blue"." It was, in fact, a scrap of the very first something blue that Miranda had ever seen her in. Chuckling to herself, an almost wistful thought crossed Andy's mind. I'm going to miss that sweater.

Caroline grinned. "And here is your "something new"."

Andy looked at the small book-shaped flash drive the girl had just passed to her.

"It's a message, from me and Cass." Caroline smiled, "It's for later, just watch it sometime next week..." Laughing at the expression on Andy's face, Ro shook her head. "For now just use it for your, something new."

There was a soft knock at the door then Cassidy slipped into the room. "C'mon, Ro... it's time to play."

Nodding, Caroline gave Andy a final hug. "See ya out there."

Andy nodded and watched the girls leave. Her hands were shaking so hard she could barely wrap the Cerulean blue fabric around the base of her bouquet. She laughed at herself, nervously. "Now I just need something old."

Lily spoke up, "I got ya covered girlfriend." She handed over a small photo. "Remember this?"

"Oh my god..." Andy laughed at the picture. "How old were we here? Six?"

"Five I think." Lily smiled. "I know that I've been a jerk sometimes..."

"Sometimes?" Andy grinned.

Lily rolled her eyes. "But you're my best friend..."

Andy nodded and tucked the photo into the heart of her bouquet. "You will always be a dear friend to me Lily."

They all heard the piano music begin. Andy swallowed hard. "Jesus, this is about to happen isn't it..." She began to tremble harder.

Jo stepped forward. "I have something for you too... but it's not really something you can carry." She pulled out her phone and dialed a number only waiting two rings before the connection was made. "Yeah.. Sheri.. it's me. You in position?" She nodded and glanced at Andy. "Good... let's see it then." Pulling her phone away from her ear, Jo looked at the screen and nodded when an image came through. She turned it for Andy to see. "I thought this might set your mind, somewhat, at ease."

"What is that?"

"That," Jo winked, "is Judy. Safely tucked in her cell, a thousand miles away."

Taking a deep ragged breath, Andy nodded. "Wow... thanks."

"No problem." Jo put the phone back to her ear. "Thanks Sheri... that's all we need." She slipped her phone back into her pocket then found herself surrounded by Andy's long arms. "Hey...you're welcome..."

"You don't know what a relief it is, knowing she's not going to be here..." Andy sighed. "The letters finally stopped. They said her mail privileges were revoked, but with all the stuff going on, with the pictures and..."

"Yeah." Jo smiled at her friend, "I figured you'd want a little reassurance."

Nodding, Andy pulled away and took a deep breath. "It is nice to know for sure."

Slipping back into Miranda's changing space, Serena reported. "Andy loved her something blue."

Miranda nodded. "Thank you."

Serena took advantage of their solitude, making a few touch ups to Miranda's mascara.

Miranda heard the music begin and was surprised to see her hand shaking. Serena's calm voice, broke through her nervous daze.

"Miranda, perhaps you should sit alone for a moment?"

Automatically grabbing the hands that had gently been applying her makeup, Miranda looked up into Serena's eyes. "Thank you, Serena."

"Of course." Serena kneeled next to the chair, the slits in her dress exposing most of her legs in the process. "I should give you a moment."

"Don't go." Retaining hold of Serena's hands for a moment of silence, Miranda suddenly chuckled, squeezing the hands in hers lightly. "You're breaking the unspoken rule."

Nodding somberly, Serena spoke quietly. "You are an awesome woman, Miranda Priestly, but you are not untouchable as some often claim."

Licking her lips, Miranda grinned. "So, my reputation falters... and I am not even married yet."

"I shall tremble appropriately when in the halls of Runway." Serena hesitated then continued quietly, "There is another rule that I wish to break..."

"Oh?" Miranda's eyebrows raised. "You enjoy pushing your luck?"

"It is luck that I wish to gather." Serena explained as she took a delicate silver chain off her wrist. "I would... ask, that you carry this with you, during the ceremony." She smiled as Miranda took the jewelry. "I feel that when you return it to me, afterward, a small amount of the love you and Andy share will be infused into it... to help me in my own romantic endeavors."

Miranda smiled softly and nodded. "Of course." Miranda looked at the chain and then held out her wrist. "Help me..."

"Oh!" Serena let out a happy sigh of relief. "I didn't realize you would actually wear it!" She wrapped the chain around Miranda's wrist and clicked the clasp. "Thank you..."

Miranda laughed and reached out, tapping Serena's smile dimpled cheek. "I could always just order Emily to marry you."

Laughing at that, Serena winked as she rose gracefully from her kneeling position. "I am holding that option, in reserve."

Chuckling at that, Miranda nodded again, "Very well..." With a wry grin, Miranda looked down at her left hand and rolled her eyes. She spoke quietly to Serena. "I, too, have a request."


"Mmmm..." Miranda studied the tiny dragon that rested on her finger then slowly slid the ring off of her finger. "I should give this to Emily to hold..."

"Oh!" Serena nodded and took the piece of jewelry Miranda was holding out. "I will see that she gets it..."

"Thank you, Serena." Closing her eyes, Miranda tried to relax for a moment. She tracked the sounds of Serena moving around the space until the sound of the door opening caught her attention.


A sudden calm washed over Miranda as Emily spoke quietly.

"It's time."

Andy examined her shoes and smiled. Miranda would barely classify what she was wearing as "shoes". They were really nothing more than a sole-shaped pieces of wood with leather straps attached at various places. The long strips of leather had been, painstakingly if you asked Lily, woven and wrapped around her calf to hold the sole in place. It matched what she'd come to think of as her "high priestess" gown to perfection. The leather was already beginning to cut into her calf but, oddly, they weren't the most uncomfortable things she'd ever worn in her life. She wiggled her toes and grinned at the feel of the silver sixpence taped to the wood under her left foot.

With her outfit complete, Andy's thoughts turned, again, to her vows. The ceremony was going to begin, soon, and she still hadn't solidified the words she wanted to say to Miranda. Thinking about that, about the emotions she felt toward Miranda and the girls, something her mom had said drifted through her mind. Don't make her choose... don't make her choose between her past and her future... Her father's voice floated through her head next... After all she's done, you're still choosing her?

"Of course I choose her, Daddy..." Andy whispered to herself, "Miranda and the girls are my family... my future." The words that had been swirling around in her head every time she'd tried to write her vows suddenly calmed down and coalesced into coherent thoughts. She heard the door open and a wave of calm washed over her as Lily's voice broke through her thoughts.

"Andy, it's time."

Grinning at her friend, even though her hand shook as she held her bouquet, Andy nodded. "You bet it is."

Lily cleared her throat and held out her hand. "Hand it over."

With a deep resigned breath, Andy looked down at her left hand. She did not want to take off her engagement ring but realized that, in this one instance, it was necessary. It only caused a twinge in her heart as she slid the ring off her finger and handed it to Lily.

"I'll give it back as soon as I can." Lily slid the band around her thumb, the only place it fit with any sort of security and smiled. "I won't lose it."

Andy nodded, unable to speak past the lump in her throat, and wiggled her now bare fingers, anxious to begin.

Serena smiled and encouraged Miranda with a jaunty tilt of her head as she brushed past the waiting bride to stop for a moment next to the almost as nervous bridesmaid. She rested her hand at the small of Emily's back and whispered quietly, "You will be fine."

Emily smiled softly. "Thank you."

Smiling at the woman she loved more than anything, Serena held out Miranda's ring. "You need to hold this for her..."

"Oh!" Emily blinked as she took the ring, reverently. "Yes, of course..."

Nodding, Serena move on out of the dressing area, leaving the door open behind her. She gave Lily, who was standing in the doorway to Andy's dressing room, a wave then moved on into the main tent to find her seat. As Andy's friend and a close acquaintance of Miranda's, Serena's seat was up near the front in the non-color coded area. She managed not to grin at the jealous looks she was receiving as she walked, runway style, to the empty seat between Miranda's sister-in-law and ex-husband. Smiling, she reached down to ruffle the fur on the back of Patricia's neck before settling fully in her seat.

When the anxious murmurs of the crowd began to die down, Serena looked at Cassidy and nodded.

Cassidy grinned and caught Caroline's eye. In a small burst of their twin bond, they both smiled and fading off on the song they'd been performing, began to play the classical song they'd agreed would accompany the bridesmaids down the aisle.

Almost simultaneously, the entire crowd turned to watch the door and waited breathlessly for the couple to appear.

Miranda looked around Emily, but all she could see across the tent was Lily standing in the door of Andrea's dressing space. It was odd, this feeling of anticipation. She had not experienced it in either of her previous marriages. Emily began to walk forward and Miranda also moved up to stand where Emily had been. She looked across the space to see Lily moving toward her, then Andrea's bridesmaid turned to walk into the main tent and Andrea appeared in the doorway where Lily had stood. Miranda felt her jaw drop slightly even as her stomach flipped and her heart jumped into her throat. Her hands trembled and she wondered if her knees would hold out as she moved toward Andrea.

Andy took a deep breath and watched Lily walk forward before she moved to stand in the doorway. Across the way, Miranda stood in the doorway and Andy swallowed convulsively. Her stomach flipped and she felt her hands trembling around the bouquet she held. Without even knowing she moved, Andy was walking toward Miranda, her eyes drawn to the scarf covering what she knew was flawless skin on Miranda's shoulders. Her fingers twitched to remove the soft blue covering.

They met in the middle and whispered simultaneously. "You're a goddess." "You're beautiful." They heard the music and linking elbows, moved down the aisle, together. Walking through the doors to the main tent, they both smiled as the entire crowd gasped. Tightening their grips on each other's hands and also their bouquets, they moved forward, in step with each other and the music that Cassidy was playing.

Before the last row of chairs, just inside the door, Andy saw Chad standing there and gave him a puzzled look. He just smiled at her, winked and tilted his head for her to go ahead. She realized that he was staying near the door, just in case their father returned. Mouthing the words thank you to him, Andy continued up the aisle with Miranda.

Dorothy wiped a tear from her eye as she watched Andrea walking up the aisle. She looked at the happiness on her daughter's face and sighed. This really was what she had always wanted for Andrea; for her to be happy. Her vision blurred with even more tears as her own happiness at witnessing this moment overwhelmed her. It was only slightly diminished by her husband's attitude and absence. She returned Andrea's smile and tracked the couple as they stepped up onto the makeshift stage.

The music stopped and the girls took their places in the wedding party. They grinned at each other as the bouquets were handed off to their older counterparts and then they exchanged smiles with their mom and Andy.

Nigel cleared his throat and adjusted his glasses as all eyes focused on him. He smiled at his old friend and boss, then at his new friend and former co-worker. "We are all born into families, and we don't have much choice in the matter. But as we grow, our family does too. The people we meet, the friendships we make, extend our family beyond blood boundaries. And for those lucky few, as Miranda and Andrea have discovered, love can bind two people together closer than blood ever could. We come together today, to celebrate the union of Miranda and Andrea and to witness the beginning of a new family, a family bonded by love."

"Now for a bit of business..." Looking over the top of his glasses, Nigel asked, "Does anyone here know of any reason why we may not legally continue with this ceremony?" After a few moments of complete silence in the tent he nodded. Looking out over the crowd, he continued with his rehearsed lines. "Miranda and Andrea have written their own vows to signify what this union means to them and how they feel about each other." Grinning at the couple, he gestured to Miranda. "You first."

With her heart thundering in her chest and the blood pumping through her veins so fast it was nearly all she could hear, Miranda nodded and turned to face Andrea. It took a moment to swallow the lump in her throat as she looked into Andrea's large, liquid-brown eyes, "When you brought up the notion of writing our own wedding vows, I informed you in no uncertain terms that, of the two of us, you were the writer. And that was… is... true. You are the one who can pull words out of the air, bending them, shaping them to your will. I am not a writer, as much as I am an editor. I take words that others have written and shape them into something acceptable, if they aren't already. Therefore, I decided to do some research, find vows that have already been written and bend them for my own use."

She smiled when Andrea did and continued, "I found many flowery declarations of love and fidelity, but I began to wonder about the very definitions of the words being used. Naturally, I decided to look them up for myself. What I found was quite disturbing. For example, when I looked up 'amazing' the definition was there: adjective : causing amazement, great wonder, or surprise but there was something…missing. I realized that for the definition to be complete there should be an addition : see also, Andrea Sachs. As I continued searching for words to use, intelligent, faithful, loving, beautiful, they all came up missing the same annotation :see also, Andrea Sachs. It's quite an oversight on Merriam-Webster's part." She glared into the crowd at the publisher of that particular book, then continued her thoughts. "Word after word, incredible, fantastic, brilliant… all missing the one part of their definition that would make them complete :see also, Andrea Sachs."

"Many of the people here do not know, as you do, that I no longer believe in the religion I was raised in. At this point in my life there are very few things I do believe in. I don't know if there is an afterlife of some kind, a Heaven, or if there is a guardian at the gates with a book holding all our names and a summary of our lives. I do know, if that is the case, the entry for me will say; Miranda Priestly – woman, mother, wife, editor… and a few other things I'm sure shouldn't be repeated with children present." She paused to let the wave of chuckles pass through the audience, and to let her children finish their eyerolls. Miranda locked her gaze with Andrea's and continued seriously. "But, I also know, that the definition of me will not be complete without the addition of you. See also, Andrea Sachs."

The tears in Andrea's eyes nearly caused her to stop. Knowing they were happy tears allowed her to push through, continuing in the same serious tone she had taken. "The traditional vows require that couples exchange promises to each other, in front of the people present, and their God, to love each other until death parts them. I will take that vow, but it is not right, not enough to express how I feel toward you. So right now I pledge to you, in front of all our friends and family, and any Deities that may be paying attention. You, Andrea, are a part of my soul. I will share with you all the good things that our life together will bring, and nothing will stop me from loving you, not rumors and innuendo, not poverty, not illness, not death." She smiled and wiped an escaped tear from her own cheek. "I will love you forever, my Andrea, my heart, always." Licking her lips, Miranda smiled again then whispered quietly, "That's all."

Andy lost herself in Miranda's eyes until Nigel softly saying her name pulled her back to the immediate task at hand. She cleared her throat and reached out to take Miranda's hands. "I've been trying to find the words to describe how I feel toward you. And, as you discovered, none of them seemed adequate, none of them were enough to describe the depth or intensity of my feelings for you and nothing could possibly describe the connection I feel when I'm with you, and when I'm not. You're there," Andy smiled and placed her free hand over her heart. "You're here, with me, always." She looked into Miranda's vivid blue eyes and continued, "I know we have had many naysayers. Many of them are strangers, some of them aren't, but none of them know, how this," She tapped her heart again, "feels. There have been many questions I've had to answer during my relationship with you, most are easy to answer, but there is one that is practically impossible to respond to, because of the lack of words available." Licking her lips, Andy spoke the question. "Why choose her?"

Shaking her head, Andy gave the impression of shrugging, "I can't answer that, because I can't tell them in words how much I love you, how much a part of me you are."

"It basically all comes down to choices. We have many choices in our lives. From the day we are born the choices that are made for us begin to shape us, and as we grow the choices we make for ourselves mold us into the adults we become. As adults, we use that model for even more important choices, some of them are hard, so hard that it seems as if they aren't a choice at all. Some are easy, obvious, but all of them steer our lives to places we want to be, and places we never imagined." She took a breath and continued. "The question, why choose her, is wrong. When it comes to you, Miranda, I have no choice. Because to not choose you, would mean taking my life off its true path, to a place I do not want to be, ever. So now, to all the naysayers who've asked, I say to them," She squeezed the fingers in hers and smiled, "for better or worse, I choose you. For richer or poorer, I choose you. In sickness and in health, I choose you. Forsaking all others, I will always choose you."

With a deep breath, Andy smiled, "You... are mine, Miranda. You are a part of me, a part of my soul, and I will be with you, forever, because I want to be, because I need to be, because I... choose to be. Nothing anyone says or does will change that. Ever."

Swallowing against the lump in her throat, Andy managed to push the last words she wanted to say past her lips, "I love you."

Nigel smiled and let a moment of silence pass before he cleared his throat and continued with the ceremony. "I don't see what else needs to be said, but there are traditional aspects of this ceremony that need to be performed." He took the rings off his pinkie finger, where he'd been holding them. "The unbroken circle is a symbol of the unending love you have both professed." He handed one of the rings to Miranda. "Miranda Louise Priestly, do you, take Andrea to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

Miranda took the ring, barely able to control the tremors in her hand, and nodded. "I do."

He grinned and handed the other ring to Andy. "And do you, Andrea Renee Sachs, take Miranda to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

Andy swallowed hard as she took the ring with shaking fingers, nodded and managed to whisper, "I do."

Nodding, Nigel gestured to his boss. "Miranda..."

Miranda took Andrea's left hand and couldn't help noticing that Andrea was shaking just as much as she was. She spoke quietly as she slipped the ring onto Andrea's bare finger. "I give you this ring as a token of my love and a promise. I swear to do anything and everything in my power to secure your happiness. I will make every effort possible to ensure that any tears you shed from this day forward are joyous ones. I have no wish to experience even one day without the brightness of your smile."

Andy smiled and wiggled her fingers, feeling the weight of the new ring settling into place.

Nigel leveled a look on his young friend. "Andy, your turn."

Taking Miranda's left hand, Andy lifted it and kissed the bare skin on Miranda's ring finger, her lips brushing lightly across the one tiny bit of Miranda that she hoped would never be bare again. She didn't know how, but she managed to speak as she slid the ring into place. "I give you this ring, as a token of my love and a promise. With all that I have, all that I am, and all that I will ever be, from this day forward, all my smiles are for you." Andy loosened her hold slightly to allow Miranda to wiggle her fingers, settling the ring into place. Her trademarked million watt smile appeared and she spoke one last promise. "I love you, always."

Grinning at that, Nigel nodded once and spoke to the couple and the audience. "Although I am officiating here today, it is not truly within my power to sanctify, legitimize or bless this relationship in any way. Miranda and Andrea have already done that in their hearts. However, there are legalities that I can perform with some amount of confidence." He grinned at the couple. "Therefore, insomuch as Miranda and Andrea have exchanged vows and rings, and have stated their love for one another in front of all the witnesses here, by the authority vested in me, in accordance with the law in Massachusetts, it is my great and distinct honor to now pronounce Miranda and Andrea... married." He tilted his head at the couple and gestured for them to close the gap between them as he spoke to them both. "You may kiss your bride."

Twice before Miranda had heard those words, or a similar phrase, but neither of those instances had caused her to tremor as she was now. Moving the half step forward it took to step into Andrea's arms, Miranda thought the entire room could surely hear her heart thundering in her chest, even though her own ears were filled with the sound of blood rushing through them. Lost in Andrea's eyes, her arms slid around the young woman's waist of their own accord and then, nothing else mattered. Andrea's arms wrapped around her shoulders, long fingers threading through her hair, pressing them closer until their lips met for an eternal, perfect, moment.

Andy could feel her hands shaking as they brushed past the silk surrounding Miranda's shoulders, seeking out bare skin. She felt Miranda's hands on her waist pulling her closer and suppressed a groan as their lips met, softly at first, then gently moving against each other as she threaded her fingers into Miranda's hair, holding the woman, her wife, exactly where she wanted her to be.

The sound of applause, and Nigel clearing his throat, finally drew Andy out of the kiss. She pulled away, reluctantly and knew from the look in those lovely blue eyes that Miranda didn't want to stop this particular part of the ceremony either. Smiling her megawatt smile, Andy took a deep breath and almost didn't believe it when Nigel spoke to the crowd.

"Ladies and Gentlemen my I present... Mrs. Andrea Sachs-Priestly and Mrs. Miranda Priestly-Sachs."

The entire crowd stood, almost as one entity, and the applause again filled the space as Miranda and Andy faced their audience, hand in hand. Andy's gaze didn't get any farther than the first row. Her mom was there, using a tissue to dab at the tears leaking from her eyes. Andy glanced at Miranda and smiled at her wife. My wife! Music began to play and Andy realized that the girls had returned to the pianos. A gentle squeeze of Miranda's hand let Andy know it was time to start walking.

To Andy it felt like they were walking in slow motion, or maybe more like a dream when the place you're going keeps getting farther away no matter how many steps are taken, but Andy continued to put one foot in front of the other, somehow. She smiled and nodded, as Miranda was doing, to acknowledge the grins and well wishes being directed at them as they walked. When she passed her brother, still standing at the back of the room, he gave her a thumbs up. Then, suddenly, they were entering Miranda's dressing area.

Unable to let go of Miranda's hand, and unable to look away from Miranda's beautiful face. Andy had no idea how long she had simply stood there staring into loving blue eyes. My wife! She vaguely heard Lily's voice saying her name, but ignored it. She also ignored the jostling motion at her elbow. It was Miranda, shifting her attention for a split second, who finally broke the rapport and Andy blinked when her wife's beautiful voice spoke softly.

"You might want this back."

Looking down, Andy saw Miranda's elegant hands sliding the ring Lily had handed her into place next to the wedding band Miranda had placed there moments ago. The familiar band warmed against her skin and Andy snapped out of her post-ceremony haze. She smiled at Miranda, then turned and pinned Emily with a questioning look.

Emily handed Miranda's dragon ring over to Andy.

As she returned the tiny dragon to its proper place on Miranda's finger, Andy grinned. "Now we're both correctly accessorized."

"Indeed." Miranda wiggled her fingers, settling her rings in place, the band of her wedding ring tucking under the dragon's wing perfectly. Moving forward she wrapped her arms around Andrea's waist holding her tightly for a long moment. "Indeed we are."

Caroline entered the room and grimaced at the embrace but didn't say anything. They had just gotten married after all. Instead of talking to her parents, Caroline reported to Emily. "The guests are leaving with instructions from Nigel to refresh themselves and then meet in the main ball room to mingle a bit before dinner is served."

"Good." Emily nodded. "That should give the photographer plenty of time for pictures, and then we can all be there for the reception line." She actually smiled at the girl. "Thank you Caroline... could you perhaps go and watch to see when the guests have cleared out? And please make sure Patricia doesn't jump up on anyone or bite them."

"Sure, Emily." With a grin, Caroline gave her a little salute and left the room with a little bounce in her step.

There wasn't too much of a wait before the other family members joined Miranda and Andy for some private congratulations.

Andy smiled and laughed even as fresh tears flowed when Dorothy arrived and made a bee-line for her.

"You were wonderful, Sweetheart."

"Thanks, Ma." Andy smiled over her mother's shoulder at Gram. "Thank you so much, for everything." She released her mother and opened her arms wide for her oldest relative, "Gram!"

"You did good, Darlin'..."

"Thanks, Gram." Andy looked past the woman, "Where's Mary?"

"Caroline intercepted her, said something about playing the piano..." Pava grinned. "I'm sure she'll be along shortly."

Nodding at that, Andy kept her arm around Pava as even more people arrived. She smiled as Natalie and her brothers converged on their sibling.


Part 56

Miranda barely had time to brace herself before Asher enveloped her in a bear hug, picking her up and swinging her around twice. Tolerating the manhandling, Miranda waited until she was set down, gently, before she smirked at her brother. "Must you be so dramatic?"

"Yes!" Asher smiled at his youngest sister. "I am far too happy for you to contain it."

Miranda chuckled. "Thank you, Asher."

"He's not the only one who's happy for you." Daniel stepped up and also hugged Miranda although he didn't swing her around as his brother had done. He maintained a loose hold with his arms around her waist. "I'm very glad to see you so content." Nodding, Miranda watched with some amusement as her brother was dragged away from her. It was obvious that the only reason he allowed it was because it was his wife that was doing the dragging.

Accepting a quick hug from Josie, Miranda smiled then found herself enveloped in her twin sister's arms.

"It was a beautiful ceremony, Mir...anda."

"Well," Miranda's deep blue eyes scanned across the room to meet Andrea's smiling face. She couldn't help a brilliant smile in return as Andrea began to walk toward her. "I have a beautiful bride..."

"That's funny." Andy's eyes never left Miranda's face. "I have a beautiful bride as well."

Natalie stepped away as Miranda and Andy stepped into each other's personal space. They both leaned in and just before their lips met a new arrival drew their attention.

"Ewwww..." Cassidy scrunched up her nose. "Can't you guys give it a rest?"

Andy touched her forehead to Miranda's then turned to look at Cassidy. "Give us a break, Sweetie. We just got married."

Cassidy sighed. "Right... Ro wanted me to tell you that the guests are gone and the photographer is all set up."

"Cool..." Andy jostled the arm around her wife, her hand almost automatically sliding up over the silk covering Miranda's shoulder, itching to remove it. "You ready to have your picture taken?"

"I'm ready for many things, Andrea." Miranda smirked. "So let's get this over with and get on with the celebration."

"How much longer?" Cassidy fidgeted and straightened her dress. It seemed like it had been forever since the photographer had begun positioning them in various spots around the tent. Now they all stood on the raised platform where the ceremony itself had occurred.

"Not much longer, Bobbsey." Miranda glared at the photographer. "Isn't that correct, Ms. Deputy?"

Andy grinned as the woman hesitated a moment then laughed. "Don't worry, Amy, just get the shots you need."

Pressing her lips together, Amy nodded and then shrugged. "I really only need one more, with the family."

They all shifted as the extra members of the wedding party, Lily, Emily and Nigel stepped down and Andy, Miranda and the girls moved closer together. The camera shutter sounded several times before Miranda murmured.

"This is not our entire family."

"No," Andy agreed. "It isn't." With a wink at Caroline, Andy let out a loud piercing whistle, calling Patricia to join them on the makeshift stage. She realized her mistake immediately as the St. Bernard came barreling down the aisle from the back of the tent where James had been holding her. "No..." Andy pushed Miranda away and held out her hands to the large dog as she took a step backward. "No... Patricia... No!" But it was too late and before she could utter another word she found herself in a playful embrace. The problem was that she'd taken another step backward and Patricia's weight had pushed her three more steps before she knew it. Barely even hearing Miranda's gasping "Andrea!" Andy felt herself falling off the back of the platform. Somehow she managed to remain upright, but now she was standing in two feet of water, the bottom of her dress soaked, with almost two hundred pounds of wet dog right in front of her, preparing to shake the water out of her coat.

Andy closed her eyes, waiting for the inevitable spray that would completely ruin the dress, the makeup, the hair. The dog-powered shower never came. Instead Andy heard a small splash and then Miranda's voice.

"Patricia, go!"

Opening her eyes at the sloshing sound, Andy saw Patricia jumping out of the water, a safe distance away, before shaking the excess water out of her fur. Amazed, Andy turned to see Miranda with her blandest expression. "Miranda?" Blinking, Andy realized that Miranda was now, also, standing in the shallow water. "What?"

"It appears," Miranda smiled and gave the impression of shrugging as she looked at their new positions, "that where you go, I will follow."

"But..." Andy was horrified. "You're beautiful dress!"

"Shhh..." Taking a step forward, Miranda reached up to gently stroke Andrea's cheek with the back of her fingers. "The fabrics of both our dresses will survive." Her lips twitched with the beginnings of a smile. "You, however, should remove your shoes, as soon as possible."

"My..." Andy looked down to see the very tips of Miranda's toes peeking out from under the hem of her dress, under the water. Miranda had apparently had the presence of mind to step out of her shoes before jumping into the water. Her own shoes were still securely fastened to her feet, the leather straps becoming more waterlogged by the moment. "Oh..."

"Leather must be treated correctly to withstand water..." Miranda led Andrea to the edge of the pool and they both exited fairly gracefully. They moved to the nearest lounge chair and Miranda gestured for Andrea to sit. Kneeling at her wife's feet, Miranda quickly undid the elaborately woven pattern the straps had been fashioned into earlier. She lightly rubbed the pattern the laces had made in Andrea's legs. "If I didn't know better, I would think you trained Patricia to do that, just to get these...shoes, off."

"Miranda..." Andy laughed, her dark eyes reflecting a mischievous thought that she voiced without reservation, "These shoes went great with this dress... now the only thing left to do is..." Pressing her lips together, Andy tried not to smile as Miranda's most scandalized expression appeared. "I'm sorry, but there really isn't any other alternative."

Finishing her task, Miranda removed the silver sixpence from its place on Andrea's left sole and handed it to her. "You are a very intelligent person, very resourceful... I'm sure you could..."

Shaking her head, Andy accepted the coin and stood. "No, Miranda... there isn't anything else to be done. There are no boutiques open right now, and even if every shop on the island was open, the chances of them having the exact shoes I need would be slim to none. To find out I would have to visit them all, taking how many hours away from our evening together... our first evening together as a married couple?" Wrapping her arms around Miranda's shoulders, the thin blue silk warming between their skin, Andy smiled, kissed Miranda's forehead and informed her in no uncertain terms. "I'm just going to have to go barefoot for the rest of the evening."

Miranda sniffed haughtily. "I suppose it would be an authentic look... but," she shook her head, "perhaps if I don't actually look at your feet..."

"There ya go." Andy pressed into her wife a bit more, "Just look into my eyes."

"I could do that forever."

Smiling softly, Andy nodded. "Forever's a very good start."

Hair dryers and helpful friends made quick work of getting rid of the water on their dresses. Andy had found herself quite comfortable standing, barefoot, next to Miranda in the reception line. However, the seemingly endless line of people entering the room, offering their congratulations, was beginning to wear on her and her knuckles were beginning to ache each time she shook hands with someone. She wondered how Miranda stood it, but then realized that Miranda hardly ever actually shook anyone's hand. Andy wondered if she could ever master that little bit of social nicety. It certainly would save my hand, she thought, and again marveled at her wife's grace then smiled at the thought, my wife.

Miranda took advantage of a short break in the line of guests by pulling Andrea to her side and whispering, "Wrap your arms around me, Darling, and merely acknowledge the congratulations with a nod."

Doing as she was told, Andy's arms slid around Miranda's waist. She rested her head on Miranda's shoulder and whispered, "I love you."

Miranda took a quick kiss and was rewarded with a gentle squeeze. She winked at her bride, "I love you, too."

They continued greeting their guests and accepting congratulations until, to Andy's relief and delight, Emily declared the time for greetings was over. Anyone else arriving would just have to approach the couple on an individual basis. Miranda nodded at that assessment and led Andrea to follow Emily as the entire wedding party moved to the main table.

A quick text from Emily to Carmen prompted the DJ to interrupt the soft music she'd been playing for the announcement that dinner was about to be served. Everyone who had been milling around the room shmoozing now found their seats quickly. Part of the reason for wandering around the room had been to find their names on the placeholders.

There were two servers for each table of eight, so the wine glasses were filled quickly and just in time for the distinctive sound of silverware tapping the side of a glass drew everyone's attention to the main table. Nigel raised his wine glass and smiled.

"On behalf of my dear friends, Miranda and Andy, thank you all for being here this evening. It is truly a remarkable occasion when a family begins its journey. To share it with so many friends creates a great starting point..." Nigel took a breath to continue waxing poetic about the love the newlyweds shared when Miranda cleared her throat.

"Nigel, as much as we appreciate the sentiment," Miranda smirked, "I believe at this point even the models are ready to eat."

"Ah... yes, well..." Nigel nodded, "Of course." He grinned. "I'll just save the rest of my little toast for later." Sitting down, he took a sip of his wine and winked at Andy.

Rolling her eyes at the threat of a later toast, Miranda gestured to the man in the caterer's outfit that was standing next to an inner door of the room. He nodded and opened the door to let a steady stream of servers, well-laden with four plates each, enter.

Miranda smiled as Andrea practically attacked the small salad that had been set in front of her.

Andy saw the look on Miranda's face and laughed. "What?" The raised eyebrow look caused an even wider smile. "Miranda, I'm starving... I didn't eat much breakfast and only a few bites of lunch because I was so nervous..."

Chuckling, Miranda patted Andrea's hand lightly. "I know, I'm just concerned that you will not get any nutritional value from the food if it isn't chewed."

"I chewed it!"

"Mmmm..." Continuing to chuckle, Miranda wasn't exactly thrilled with Andrea's antics, but she did understand them. It seemed like a long time since the small lunch she'd eaten, as well. She lifted the onion from where it sat on the lettuce, setting it aside, before taking a small bite of her own salad. Chewing and swallowing it, Miranda laughed. "When the soup comes do try not to pick up the bowl to drink it."

Andy, and everyone within earshot, laughed at that. The response drew even more chuckles.

"I'll try," Andy grinned, "but I'm not promising anything."

The atmosphere in the room was pleasant. Carmen was playing light background music at a low enough volume that people could hear each other speaking in normal tones. The occasional clink of silverware on china and random bursts of laughter added to the general joviality of the room. When the empty salad plates were taken away and the small bowls of soup took their place Andy grinned. With a mischievous look in her eye, she reached for the bowl. What she had come to think of as Miranda's "scandalized" look began to appear, then faded as she dutifully picked up her spoon.

After eating the first spoonful, Andy laughed, "It's French onion soup, Miranda. You can't drink that out of the bowl." She watched the tension across Miranda's shoulders ease, before adding, "Not until you get to the end."

Shaking her head, Miranda chuckled. "You are so bad..."

Andy took another bite of her soup, savoring the onion and creamy cheese flavors for a moment before swallowing that bite and responding, "You bet I am."

Tante Louise grimaced when the servers began to set the bowls of soup on the table. Her salad had been blessedly free of the ubiquitous ring of raw onion. She was about to stop the man from setting the bowl in front of her when she realized that hers was different. "What's this?"

"Tomato soup, ma'am." The server was very polite. "The chef was quite specific that you were to have it. He said to tell you there are no onions in it, with his compliments."

"Ah..." Tante nodded and smiled. "Thank you, young man... tell him... thank you."

The server grinned. "Yes, Ma'am.. I will."

Natalie raised her eyebrows, "Wow, Tante... You must have made some impression on the chef this morning." She knew that Tante had met with the man to make sure the family recipes were correctly prepared.

"Yes," Louise took a deep breath. "I suppose I did." Without another word, she took a small taste of the soup. It was delicious.

"You doin' okay, Princess?"

Blair shifted in her seat and adjusted her hair. "I'm sure I don't know what you're referring to."

"Uh huh..." Jo reached up tenderly brushing her fingers across her wife's cheek. "You're always emotional at things like this..."

"You can't fool me, Joanne Polniachek-Warner... I saw you wiping away a tear or two during the ceremony too!" Blair smiled softly at the love of her life. "You're not so much of a barbarian that true love doesn't affect you."

"Gee, thanks." Jo grinned, "I'm glad you've realized I'm not a barbarian all the time." Shifting closer, Jo whispered to her wife, "You did a great job on the Old Lady's dress." Brushing a lock of Blair's hair away from her face, she continued to speak softly. "I don't care what she says, if you want to become a designer... go for it."

"Do you mean that?" Blair had heard so much whining when her short-lived obsession had taken over their lives, she thought Jo might just be saying what she wanted to hear.

"I just want you to be happy."

"I am," Blair used her napkin to wipe away a tear as it leaked from her eye. "I don't want to change my life one little bit."

"I love you, Princess."

"I love you too, Joey."

They had been so focused on their conversation that the servers had removed their soup bowls without them even realizing it. Nigel, once again tapping his glass, drew their attention to the main table.

Caroline slid her phone under her napkin as Nigel again called for the attendee's attention.

With barely a glance at Miranda's glare, Nigel smiled out at the crowd. "A toast... to Miranda." He tilted his glass toward his boss. "You have always amazed me with your eye for beauty on the page, congratulations for finding that in the three-d world." He turned to the other blushing bride. "Andy... well done." He winked. "Gold star." Taking a sip of his drink, he gestured for Emily, as a bridesmaid, to stand and speak.

Emily shook her head and looked to Lily to go first.

Standing slowly, as if thinking about what to say, Lily looked at Andy with a smile. "Girl, you've come a long way since we were five..." Laughing along with Andy, she continued, "You were my best friend then, and you're my best friend now. I always knew you'd get married and have a family." Lily grinned at Miranda. "You weren't quite what I was expecting, but you make her happy, so that's good enough for me." Tilting her glass toward the couple, Lily nodded. "Best wishes to you both." She took a sip of her drink then, as she sat back down, pointedly passed the metaphorical toast baton to Emily.

With a deep breath, Emily stood and turned to face her mercurial boss, and former co-worker. "Miranda, I wish you all the best." Sipping her drink, Emily set the glass on the table then locked her eyes with Andrea for a heartbeat. With a roll of her eyes, she gave Andy a sort of shrugging, I give up, kind of gesture.

Miranda would have taken great offense at the motion had Andrea not smiled and burst out laughing. Turning to her bride, Miranda silently but clearly requested an explanation.

Andy leaned over, putting her lips very close to Miranda's ear as she whispered the required information. "That's exactly the same thing she did when she caught up to me in the lobby of Elias-Clarke...when you hired me." Licking her lips, the tip of her tongue just brushing the edge of Miranda's ear, Andy grinned. "That seemed to work out okay, right?"

Turning, Miranda kissed Andrea quickly and smiled. "You bet it did." She would have moved in for another kiss, but the servers had began to serve the main course.

Andy licked her lips, wanting to continue kissing Miranda, but she was also very ready to eat some real food. She wasn't kidding when she'd told Miranda that she was hungry. Her meals today had been sparse, and she'd been too nervous to eat much of anything. The small salad and small bowl of soup they'd already eaten hadn't done much to fill her stomach. The aroma of the chicken marsala on the plate in front of her made her stomach growl. She smiled sheepishly at Miranda's chuckle, "Sorry..."

Waving off the apology, Miranda gestured to the plate, "Eat, my Darling. You're going to need your strength." She didn't miss Andrea's dark eyes darting to the blue that covered her shoulders. Miranda was certain that she was as ready for Andrea to take away that covering as her wife was ready to remove it. Smiling as Andrea began to eat, Miranda also cut into her steak. My wife.

The background music continued to play, but the conversations in the room became louder as the servers cleared the entree plates from the tables. Emily caught the DJ's attention from her place at the main table and nodded.

Returning the nod, Carmen let the song that was playing fade out and then picked up the microphone next to her. "Ladies and Gentlemen... It's time for the first dance. It is my honor to introduce Mrs Priestly-Sachs and Mrs. Sachs-Priestly. Miranda, Andrea... if you would take the dance floor." She smiled as Miranda rose from her seat, gracefully and offered her hand to the younger woman. Miranda guided Andrea to the dance floor and when they were in the middle of the space, Carmen played the file on the flash drive Cassidy had given her earlier. She didn't know the title of the song. The file was only labeled "AL-M". As soon as it began to play, however, she and everyone else in the room smiled. It was a classic first dance song.

As soon as she recognized it, Emily winced at the commonness, of the song. She wondered if Andy had anything to do with choosing it. Then the lyrics began.

At last.... My love has come along...

Everyone, including Emily, began to mutter and shake their heads at each other, none of them able to discern who was singing.

Dorothy blinked, her forehead wrinkling as she asked her mother-in-law, "Do you recognize the singer?"

My lonely days are over....

Pava shook her head. "Nope... I know it's not Etta James..."

Mary chimed in. "No, the words are different. It's closer to the Joni Mitchell version, but she's not the one singing either." She glanced at Cassidy, knowing the girl had an ear for music and was struck by the expression on both the twins' faces. It was a "cat that ate the canary" look that meant they did indeed know who was singing the song. Half a second later she heard Dorothy gasp and with a glance at the woman, she turned to look in the direction Dorothy was gazing. The sight nearly brought tears to her eyes. How one person could pour so much love into a smile, she would never know but the smile on Andrea's face was breathtaking.

Life is like a lovely song....

Turning the brightest of all megawatt smiles to date on Miranda, Andy asked quietly, "When did you find time to do that?"

Miranda returned the expression, loving that with her heels and Andrea's bare feet, they were now eye to eye as they swayed to the music. Reaching up to brush the backs of her fingers against Andrea's soft cheek, she blocked out the sound of her own voice singing. "I will always find time for you. I'll make it if I have to." She smiled and laughed as Andrea took the lead and they moved around the space easily.

At last... the skies above are blue...

My heart's wrapped up in clover

ever since the night I looked at you...

Now people were beginning to mutter as they realized that it was Miranda singing the song.

And found a dream that I could speak to

a dream, to call my own...

Everyone was mesmerized by the music and the couple dancing together so effortlessly.

I found a thrill, to press my cheek to...

a thrill like I have never known...

Miranda was floating in Andrea's arms, disregarding everything that was more than three inches away from them.

When you smiled, when you smiled at me...

Her heart thudded in her chest as Andrea did just that, the dazzling smile always having such an effect on her.

That's how the spell was cast.

Miranda could tell that Andrea was recalling a conversation they'd had regarding Andrea's smile and what magic it had cast over her.

Now here we are in Heaven....

It did feel like heaven, here in Andrea's arms. Miranda sighed, loving the sensation of Andrea's arms around her.

I've found my love

At last.

Blocking out everything, Miranda did just as the song suggested, pressing her cheek to Andrea's as they glided around the dance floor. The words to the song, she knew so well faded into the background.

I found a dream that I could speak to

a dream to call my own

I found a thrill to press my cheek to

a thrill like I have never known

Images of Andrea's smiles flashed through her mind, in anticipation of the next lines in the song. The tensing of the cheek next to hers confirmed that Andrea was indeed smiling at this very moment.

Oh when you smiled when you smiled at me

that's how the spell was cast

and now here we are in Heaven...

I've found my love....

At last....

As the music wound down and faded out, Miranda couldn't help but echo the final words softly into Andrea's ear.

At last....

The music ended and Andy pulled away slightly, to look into Miranda's eyes. "I love you."

Smiling at that, Miranda responded, "I love you, too." This was a much larger audience than they'd had at the wedding ceremony, but it didn't matter to her one bit. Moving forward, Miranda captured Andrea's lips for a long moment, making sure the young woman understood that it wasn't just something Miranda was saying. She truly loved Andrea, with her whole heart.

The sound of applause pulled them apart and Carmen began a faster paced song. A large number of people partnered up and moved out into the dance area. They would have some time now to work off their dinner, before the cake cutting would take place.

Andy smiled and began to move to the fast beat, loving that Miranda was also matching the rhythm. She couldn't help glancing at the blue covering Miranda's shoulders, her hands, again, twitching to remove the barrier between herself and the soft skin she knew was under the scarf. Instead, she just continued to dance, smiling and laughing, with her wife. That thought made her smile even wider. My wife!

They had been dancing for several songs, fast and slow, when Andy saw Christian Thompson out of the corner of her eye. "Christian's here..." She saw Miranda bristle and moved closer, soothing her protective wife. "Just let me talk to him... we can dance and I'll..."

"No." Miranda shook her head, "He will not touch you... ever." There was steel, and a plea, in Miranda's eyes. "Don't ask me to allow that, not today."

Nodding slowly, Andy licked her lips and kissed Miranda gently. "Okay." She looked around and spotted Nigel, sitting at a table, speaking with James Holt. "I'll just grab Nigel for a dance then..."

"Acceptable." Miranda's gaze landed on Christian Thompson's perpetually dazed face. "I will handle, Mr. Thompson."

"Miranda," Andy smiled and squeezed her wife's hand. "Be nice."

"We need answers, Andrea." The thought of "being nice" to this man, this man who had... with Andrea... her Andrea was beginning to make Miranda's blood boil.

"I know that..." Andy whispered softly into Miranda's ear. "Just don't make him piddle on the dance floor..."

Unable to help herself, Miranda smiled, then laughed at that suggestion. "I shall do my very best."

"This is a day for new beginnings." Andy reminded her, "He may not have had anything to do with the photos."

Nodding at that, Miranda moved away from her new bride. The crowd parted as she approached, giving her a clear and easy path to one of the men she most hated in her life.

Nigel muttered, "Well that doesn't look like anything good."

"But it is..." Andy grinned down at the man. "If Miranda finds out the information we need." She held out her hand. "Care to dance?"

"I'm not much of a dancer..."

"C'mon... I saw Serena showing you some moves at my bachelorette party. How long did you guys stay after Miranda and I left?" She grinned as he blushed. "Uh huh..."

"Fine." He took Andy's hand. "But if I get in trouble for this..."

"Nah..." Andy pulled him out onto the dance floor. "You're Miranda approved."

With a wide-eyed look over his shoulder at James, Nigel laughed. "Lucky me."

"C'mon Ro, put that thing down." Cassidy's tone made her opinion of her sister's texting habits very clear and she had no problems informing their tablemates, Alyssa and Alan, about the extent of Caroline's addiction. "I think she'd have her iPhone surgically attached to her hand if she could."

"Allison is just bitching because she can't be here." Caroline sighed. "I'm trying to appease her."

"Why?" Cassidy snorted, "She isn't here because her parents are standoffish assholes that have never even met Mom... why would they be invited to the wedding??" She grimaced and told Alyssa, "The nanny would be more likely to get an invitation."

"I know." It was the truth. Allison's parents were so weird, but that was why Caroline almost always gave the girl the benefit of the doubt. It had to be hard being raised by such strange people.

Cassidy saw the expression on her sister's face and asked, "Ro... do you like her?"

"Sure I do..." Caroline blinked at Cassidy's grin and realized what her sister was asking. "Oh... no, not like that. C'mon, I'm not the gay one!"

Cassidy gasped and looked wide-eyed at her sister then at the shock on their new friends faces. Standing quickly, she nearly yelled at Caroline but modified her tone to an intense hiss worthy of Miranda Priestly's daughter, "How could you?!" Her cheeks turned bright red with embarrassment. Cassidy didn't give Alyssa or Alan the chance to say anything before she ran off, disappearing into the crowd.

"Well.. crap." Caroline sighed and looked at her friends. "I shouldn't have said that..."

Alan smiled. "She'll forgive you."

Caroline looked into the crowd where Cassidy had disappeared. "You sound pretty certain about that..."

"Well..." He looked at his sister who nodded. "'Lyssa forgave me when I did it... so, I'm thinking Cassidy will forgive you too."

"You?" Caroline shook her head. "I... had no idea."

Alyssa shrugged. "Why should you?"

"Do... do your parents know?"

"Yep... they've been great." Alyssa smiled and stood. "I'm gonna go see if I can find Cass... okay?"

"Yeah." Caroline exhaled slowly, "Thanks..."

Winking at the girl, Alyssa moved off in the direction Cassidy had been heading.


Alan laughed. "Yep, she's somethin'" He sighed. "It's a pain though."

"Oh?" Caroline wondered at his tone. The siblings had always seemed to get along so well with each other. Did he really not like the idea that his sister was gay?

"Yeah." He shook his head. "I'll have to watch her around every girl I ever go out with, to keep her from stealing them away!"

With a small snort of laughter, Caroline grinned. "I'm sure that won't be a problem. You two are so different, I doubt the same girl would go for both of you."

"You think?"

Shrugging at that, Caroline just nodded.

"Miranda." Christian smiled, tentatively, at the older woman. "This is a surprise."

"Mmm..." Miranda's nostrils flared, but she held out her hand and practically commanded, "Dance with me."

Setting his drink aside, Christian nodded and took the offered hand. "Gladly." He automatically placed the hand not in Miranda's on her waist as they danced with a respectable distance between them, "You look lovely this evening." He knew better than to comment on Andy's appearance. He had learned that much at least.

"You seem... thinner."

"Well, I haven't been eating quite as well as normal in the last few months." His bright eyes crinkled around the edges. "As you probably know."

Unwilling to waste time on small talk, Miranda got directly to the point. "I have two questions for you, Mr. Thompson and I expect you to answer them truthfully."

He blinked but smiled and nodded as they continued dancing. "Of course."

"What did Jacquline Follet have to do with procuring your hotel room during that Paris trip?" She saw him tilt his head in question, but he didn't respond with the obvious "Why?" that was on the tip of his tongue. "And, have you had any contact with her recently?"

"Jacquline booked the room for me. She said it was her favorite hotel. It was very nice." He shrugged as they danced, "We had a couple of meetings there to discuss the changes she was going to make at Runway." He smiled, resigned to the way things turned out. "I've run into her a few times since then. Lately? No, I haven't seen her, not since she took the editor-in-chief spot back at French Runway. She was furious with me during...that Paris trip. She thought I had sabotaged her bid for American Runway by telling Andy about it..."

"Surprising, since she had the cushier job with James Holt waiting for her."

"No, she knew..." Christian now grinned at his dance partner. "She knew that wouldn't last. You had backed her into a corner though. She didn't have any choice but to take it. Not after Irv pulled his support for her to move into your job." He shook his head. "She was furious, and fuming at me... I'm sure that's the only reason she explained anything to me, after the luncheon."

Not pulling any punches, Miranda commented, almost too casually, "So you have nothing to do with the photos." His confused expression was enough to convince her that he had no clue what she was talking about. With a deep breath, she nodded. "Very well. Andrea has reminded me that this is a day for new beginnings. Therefore, you are reprieved. People have seen you here and us dancing together either one of those would automatically lift the restrictions on your social invitations. I will also inform you that in the spirit of new beginnings, the strikes against you have been, removed." The song was winding down and she began to pull away. "Consider it a new inning, Christian... three more strikes is all it takes for you to be out again."

Digesting that information, he smiled. "Will Andy be free for a dance later?"

"No." Miranda's gaze turned hard. "You will not touch her, ever again."

He nodded, but didn't allow her to leave. "In the spirit of truthfulness, I need to tell you something, Miranda."

"You are treading on thin ice, Mr. Thompson."

"I know... but hear me out." He understood now exactly how Miranda felt about that night in Paris and he wanted to set the record straight. "I will deny it to the press until the day I die, I do have a reputation to maintain after all, but you at least, should know the truth."

He was glad that the next song was also slower paced at the beginning, enough that they could continue to dance the way they had been. He took a deep breath and confessed, "Nothing happened between Andy and me that night."

Miranda blinked. "Excuse me?"

"We went to dinner, and I admit I did ply her with more wine than I should have." He pressed his lips together in self-depreciation. "I know, it was stupid, but... anyway, I walked her back to my hotel... we did kiss and she seemed willing enough, in her drunken state," he continued to speak quickly as Miranda bristled, "but when we got up to my room she... passed out." He shrugged. "Eventually I'm sure she'll realize that when she woke up, she was still somewhat dressed."

Miranda's eyebrows rose sharply. "Somewhat?"

"I tried to make her as comfortable as I could. She did still have her underwear on, at least." He had no idea how women even wore those strapless bras, much less slept in them. His forehead wrinkled in thought. "Does she always snore like that?"

As if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders, Miranda laughed, a genuine Miranda-laugh and reached up to tap his cheek with her fingertips. "Not often." She smiled and leaned in, kissing his other cheek lightly as she whispered. "Only when she's passed out drunk." Walking away from Christian, with a smile on her face, Miranda immediately spotted Andrea dancing with Nigel, if dancing was what you could call what Nigel was doing. The song's tempo increased as Miranda stole Andrea away from her current dance partner, kissed her soundly then began to whirl with her around the floor.

"I heard you laugh." Andy grinned. "I take it things went well with Christian?"

"Better than I would have imagined." Miranda wrapped her arms around Andrea's shoulders. "He had nothing to do with the photos."

Nodding, Andy's arms slid around Miranda's waist. "I'm glad." She sighed and rested her head on Miranda's shoulder. "It would have made me sad if he'd been involved."


Locking her hands behind Miranda's back, Andy felt the heart charm on the bracelet she still wore brush against her arm. "Oh..." Pulling away, she looked around, spotting Mary sitting at a table next to the dance floor. Gram Sachs was out in the space dancing with Chad. With a smile, she kissed Miranda's cheek. "Be right back."


Part 57

"Hey..." Alyssa sat with her back against the wall, next to Cassidy. She looked around at the small alcove the girl had found. They were out of sight of the main room. "Nice place to hide." She rested her arms on her bent knees, waiting for the girl to respond.

Cassidy looked straight ahead. "She shouldn't have said that."

"You're right." Alyssa grinned, "but, if sisters are anything like brothers, it's probably not the last time she's going to make a dumb move."

"Yeah..." Cassidy sighed. "Probably not."

"It's... okay, you know?"

"Hmm?" Cassidy looked at her new friend, "What?"

"Being gay... it's okay." Alyssa smiled. "It's not the end of the world." She nudged Cassidy with her shoulder. "At least you don't have to worry about Caroline stealing your girlfriend."

Laughing at that, Cassidy nodded. "True." She sighed again and confessed, "I wish you could be my girlfriend."

Alyssa paused for a moment, then spoke quietly. "I am a girl, and I can be your friend..."

"Just not my..." Cassidy swallowed hard and looked away. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything."

"Hey." Alyssa's gentle fingers on Cassidy's chin turned her head back, so that their eyes met. "You're twelve and in three weeks I will turn sixteen. Four years doesn't seem like all that long, but right now, it's a lot. You're just a kid..."

"We get to date when we're sixteen." Cassidy grinned. "Mom and Dad were having a fight about it once... and Dad didn't want us to date until we're eighteen, but Mom said sixteen." She laughed at the memory. "Mom always won fights like that, the ones about us."

"Well, okay then. In four years we can date."

"We can?" Cassidy blinked. "I mean... you're... um..."

"Oh yeah, I am most definitely... um." Alyssa grinned at the astonishment on Cassidy's face. "The term is gay... or lesbian, whichever you prefer."

"And you would want to date... me?" That part really just blew Cassidy's mind. She had resolved herself to simply admire 'Lyssa as a friend.

"When you're old enough, I would be proud to have you as my girlfriend." Alyssa, grinned as Cassidy's jaw went slack. "Until then... friends?"

"Um... sure." Shaking her head, Cassidy asked, "Why?" She asked, "Why would you want to date me, or even be my friend... like you said, I'm just a kid..."

"I think you are an amazing person... and you're just beginning. Truthfully, so am I. I can't imagine what we're going to be like four years, or six years, or ten years from now... but if you'll let me we can find out together, as friends." Pressing her lips together, Alyssa warned the girl, "The difference in our ages might cause some problems though... I'm probably going to date, other people... you know, high school... college... all that?"

"Yeah, I get that."

"Well, okay then, Kiddo..." 'Lyssa grinned as Cassidy rolled her eyes. "You wanna get back to the party? We can't let Ro and Alan have all the fun."

Nodding, Cassidy began to stand, "Sure. Just let me go check in with Carmen for a minute..." She hesitated and then offered, "You wanna come with me?"

"Sure." Alyssa grinned and threw her arm around Cassidy's shoulder, as she always had. It felt good to have a real friend.

Andy's bare feet made no sound as she approached the seated woman. Andy followed Mary's gaze to the dancers. Of course Gram Sachs was the object of Mary's intense study. Kneeling next to Mary, Andy asked, "How is she?"

"She didn't say anything about the confrontation with your father, neither did Dorothy." Mary sighed. "I could tell she was upset though."

"Yeah, I saw Mom crying, and I'm not sure all the tears were because of the ceremony."

Pulling her gaze from Pava, Mary turned to look into Andy's eyes. "It was a lovely ceremony. You and Miranda both look beautiful."

"Thanks." Dark eyes watched as Mary's gaze returned to the dancers. "Gram is also very beautiful, even now..."

"She hasn't changed a bit..." Mary's eyes softened as the memories of their previous life surfaced. "She was always so... gorgeous."

"Then what are you waiting for?" Andy urged the woman to do the right thing. "Dance with her..." When Mary hesitated, Andy sighed, "You've been apart for a long time..." standing, she quickly released the clasp on the bracelet she wore and dropped it into Mary's hand.


"Then that's the wrong charm." Andy gestured to the small silver heart in Mary's hand. "It should have been broken."

"I want to..." Mary looked at the bracelet, remembering the moment Pava had given it to her. "You don't know how much..."

"I think I might have an idea..." Andy shook her head, "Gram continues to ask you, right?"

Mary nodded. "She's so patient."

Placing her hand on Mary's shoulder, Andy asked quietly, "How much longer are you going to make her wait?"

"It's so difficult..."

Andy chuckled a little and squeezed the shoulder under her hand lightly. "It's easier than you think." She leaned down and whispered in Mary's ear. "Watch." Walking directly back to Miranda, she took her bride in her arms and whirled her around the empty space provided by the other dancers. It was partially for Mary's benefit, but this was exactly where Andy wanted to be.

Andy loved dancing with Miranda. Swaying in her arms, or dancing to a faster tempo song just being able to enjoy Miranda's company and knowing that Miranda was also having a great time was amazing. A glance at the tables at the edge of the dance floor made Andy nod. One of the guests was checking her watch, probably preparing to leave, so it was time for phase two of Operation New Beginnings. With a small kiss to Miranda's lips, Andy moved away from her bride toward the DJ's table.

She smiled at Cassidy and gave Alyssa a nod before speaking with Carmen. "I need you to play a song for me, now."

"Oh?" Carmen blinked, but reached for the controls on her board, "Um.. sure. What song?"

Andy licked her lips and grinned. "Vogue."

"What?" Carmen was aware of her two 'helpers' gasps, "But you said..."

"Yeah, I know what I said, but I need it..." She assured the woman, "trust me."

"I played it earlier, Andy... on the piano." Cassidy's eyes were wide. "Mom got really mad."

"But it's important... for a reason." Andy again assured them, "Trust me. If Miranda gets mad, I'll take the heat." She looked at Carmen. "I need the Immaculate Collection version..."

It was a pretty specific request, but easy to fill. "Sure..." The song that was playing was fading, so Carmen cued up the song and hit the button. Madonna's voice immediately sounded through the large speakers.

What're you lookin' at?

The entire room went silent as the tones and finger snapping filled the room. All eyes watched as Andrea Sachs-Priestly walked across the large space, blew a kiss to her wife, Miranda Priestly-Sachs, editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, the premiere magazine in the fashion industry then walked past her, straight to Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, Runway's direct competitor and bitter rival.

Andy smiled at the stunned woman and held out her hand. "Care to dance?"

"Are you trying to get me killed?"

One dark eye winked. "Trust me."

Quirking one eyebrow, Anna took the offered hand and stood just as Madonna suggested for them to "strike a pose," which they both did, and then moved to the dance floor to begin the dance in earnest.

Emily watched the entire scene, fuming quietly at Andrea but even her quiet, "Bloody Hell." fell silent as Miranda approached the dancing couple.

Anna spoke through her smile. "She's going to kill me."

Andy just shook her head and counted, "Five, four, three, two..." A hand on her shoulder twirled her around so in place of "one," Andy laughed and identified the cutter, "Miranda."

Locking gazes with her wife for half a heartbeat, Miranda smirked and turned to Anna then smiled and began to dance, perfectly replicating the complicated hand motions and dance moves that Madonna used for the song.

"You know these moves?" Anna was a little stunned.

Miranda laughed as she continued the dance. "Don't you?"

Grinning at that, Anna also began the complicated motions and matched Miranda in the even more technically challenging footwork.

Andy grabbed a drink from a passing waiter and found a seat with a good view of Miranda and Anna dancing. She did love to watch Miranda move. Her eyes flickered to the blue covering over Miranda's shoulders, and a devious smile matched the twinkle in her eye.

"Uh oh..." Pava grinned as she approached her granddaughter, "That looks like Trouble if I've ever seen it."

"No trouble, Gram." Andy's expression remained. "Just making plans, for later."

Pava laughed and patted Andy's shoulder as she walked on past. "In that case, I think it's Miranda who is in trouble..."

Andy returned her gaze to her dancing wife and nodded as she thought, You bet she is.

Jo chuckled and tightened the arm she had around Blair's waist as they approached Andy's table. "The Old Lady has some moves..."

Andy grinned up at her friends. "Oh yeah..." Gesturing to the empty chairs at her table, Andy laughed, "Have a seat." She returned her gaze to Miranda. "The song is nearly over..."

The music faded with a final "Vogue" from Madonna sounding through the speakers. There was a small exchange between the publishing titans during the nearly deafening applause from the attendees. Both women smiled at each other and laughed as they parted ways. Andy knew that they were laughing about the rivalry as it was portrayed in the tabloids. They were competitors, but aside from wanting to crush the rival magazine into pulp and use it for hamster cage lining all over town, Miranda held the highest respect for Anna and what she accomplished. Through the "assistant's grapevine," Andy knew that respect was mutual and the rivalry was just as bitter on Anna's end. She had heard that Anna had once used issues of Runway to potty train her children's dog. It's like lawyers, she thought. Daddy used to have the most vicious in-court fights with his opposing counsel but when the trial was over they'd go out for drinks. Her musings were cut short as Miranda joined them, foregoing a chair in favor of Andy's lap. Laughing at that, Andy wrapped her arms around her bride. "Having fun?"

"Yes, that was great fun." Miranda chuckled and nuzzled Andrea's ear. "I must maintain my unpredictable reputation, right?"

"You bet." Andy captured her wife's lips. "No one would have thought you would even know that dance..."

"Ms. Ciccone knew." Miranda grinned. "She has graced the cover of Runway several times during her career, Andrea."

Astonished, Andy's voice was tinged with incredulity. "Madonna... taught you that dance."

"Of course." Miranda grinned. "Why do you seem so surprised at that, Andrea?"

Laughing, Andy stole another quick kiss and shook her head. "I have no idea." She hugged Miranda slightly tighter. "No wonder you're the reigning champion of Dance Dance Revolution."

"You will find," Serena's amused voice turned all their heads toward the approaching woman, "that there are many things you can learn from the people featured in Runway."

"Madonna taught you how to dance too?"

"I have never met Madonna." Serena grinned at Miranda. "She was before my time."

Andy gasped, but Miranda only chuckled. "That was not a dig at my age, Andrea. Ms. Ciccone has not been on the cover during Serena's tenure at the magazine."

Serena nodded and smiled at her friend. "There are, however, others that I have met."

"You believe you can do better?" Miranda's tone was clearly challenging. The dance she and Anna had just completed was quite strenuous for someone of any age, especially in heels. "Perhaps a demonstration is in order." A decidedly English voice interrupted the moment.

"There you are... I have been looking everywhere..." Emily stopped suddenly, when she realized Serena and Miranda had been speaking to each other. "Oh... Sorry... I didn't..." Shaking off that line of thought, Emily got back to the reason she was looking for Serena. "I wanted to let you know I was going to leave for a moment..." Emily sighed. "I need to take care of that, problem."

"Not yet." Serena held Emily by the biceps and sat her in a chair, with a clear view of the dance area. "I have been issued a challenge and I want you to see my response." Standing, Serena gave Miranda a half bow. "I do this, because you requested it, and it is your day." She impressed that on them, "I would never do it otherwise." Holding up her hand, Serena requested some time. "Give me a moment to speak with the DJ, and find some backup dancers."

Miranda barely waited for Serena to walk away when she shifted on Andrea's lap to speak to Emily. "What problem are you dealing with?"

"Someone tried to crash the wedding ceremony. He had a fake invitation." Emily sighed, "I figure he's just a overzealous member of the press..."

"Mmmm.. possibly." Miranda considered that. "I wish to speak to him." She questioned further, "Do you have the faux invitation?"

"I believe Andy's brother still has it." Emily looked around the crowded room. "I was going to find him next."

Andy watched Serena grab Doug and Nigel's hands before going to speak with Carmen, but answered Emily. "He was dancing with Gram, but I'm sure you'll find him by the bar about now, surrounded by models."

"How do you know that?" It would have been the last place she would have looked. She would have thought he'd be dancing. Emily was so busy sending a text to the security people that she barely listened to Andy's answer.

"That's where he always is..." Andy laughed. "Plus, Caroline gave him a little boost with the clackers earlier... so he'll be taking advantage of that for sure." She grinned at her bride, "Eventually, he'll approach us with at least two models on his arms... because they will have cajoled him into bringing them to meet The Miranda Priestly."

"Really... you think they want to meet, her?" Miranda's happy expression morphed into her business mask, "I can certainly oblige."

Disregarding the cold expression, Andy nuzzled Miranda's neck. "Mmmm... My Dragon Lady."

Emily looked as though she was going to be sick, but luckily the current song faded and Carmen's voice sounded through the speakers.

"Okay, following that fantastic Madonna tribute, we have another performance." She manipulated the controls to light a large area of the dance floor. "If you would make room for the dancers..."

Andy giggled as Serena arranged Doug and Nigel on either side of her, "Oh no..."

Miranda chuckled as Nigel's protest of "This is Dolce!" crossed the distance between them. Apparently Serena had no regard for the man's suit and gestured for him to stay where he was, the Brazilian's "Just like last night, follow my lead." instructions carried just as easily in the silence between songs. Then at a signal from Serena, the music began to thump out of the speakers.

All the single ladies... All the single ladies....

Emily's eyes widened as she recognized the song. Serena had been enamored with it for a long time, since she'd first heard it. Then she had done Beyonce's make up for the cover shoot and the obsession had consolidated. The lyrics seemed to strike a chord with Serena, describing almost perfectly her relationship with her jealous ex: the main reason Serena had left her beloved homeland. The pronouns were wrong, of course, but the sentiment was the same. Now Emily's heart raced in time with the music as Serena moved, perfectly copying the dance the singer had performed in the very popular music video.

Andy held Miranda tighter on her lap as the woman laughed at Nigel's attempts to follow Serena's movements. The megawatt smile made an appearance at the sound of genuine Miranda-laughs, but also at Doug's less than stellar efforts.

Emily had studiously avoided looking at Miranda on Andy's lap, in Andy's arms, and now her entire attention was drawn by Serena anyway. The rest of the crowd faded away as Serena caught her eye and Emily was totally fascinated by the glimpses of Serena's legs and the dancer's shaking hips. From what seemed like far away, Emily heard Miranda and Andy laughing. But then nothing else registered for Emily as the long lengths of Serena's legs appeared as she undulated to the music, lowering to the ground with one leg extended then gracefully rising to continue the dance.

Andy pressed her forehead against Miranda's shoulder, trying not to watch Doug's hilarious performance for fear of dying of laughter. She was laughing so hard she was concerned for a moment that she would drop Miranda off her lap! Miranda was nearly howling with laughter as well. Andy looked up just in time to see Doug smack himself in the face during one of the more complicated hand motion routines. That did it. She totally lost it as tears began to leak out of the corners of her deep brown eyes. This was priceless!

Emily didn't hear any of the laughter, her heart was pounding so hard. She couldn't take her eyes off Serena. The Brazilian was so beautiful, and had been such a rock-solid friend these last few weeks, while they explored the possibility of being more. Her eyes tracked Serena as she moved around the space so effortlessly until suddenly the dancers were still, posed at the end of the music just like they had been in the official video. Emily swallowed hard as she slowly came out of her daze and joined in the applause for the performance. She didn't even see Miranda and Andrea moving from their seat until a hand on her shoulder stopped her applause. Looking up into clear blue eyes, her heart pounded hard again, for a different reason, or maybe it was the same reason after all. "Miranda?"

With a deep breath, Miranda released the clasp on the bracelet she wore and dropped it into Emily's hands. "Perhaps a bracelet will do as well as a ring?"

Emily looked at the jewelry in her hand, recognizing the silver strand to be Serena's. "How..."

Miranda tilted her head and smiled. "My something borrowed. Return it to her..." Leaning back into Andrea's embrace, as her bride moved up behind her, Andrea's voice tickled her ear.


"Mmmm..." Nodding, Miranda raised her eyebrows at Emily. "We will take care of the gate crasher later. Let him sweat in the security office a while longer. I believe it is time now to cut the cake?"

Emily checked her schedule and nodded. "Yes..."

"Very well." Shifting away, Miranda slid her hand into Andrea's. "Shall we?"

"You bet!" Andy began to pull Miranda toward the cake table. "My fourth favorite thing of the night..."

Miranda stopped. "Fourth?"

"Mmmm..." Andy leaned in to nibble Miranda's ear and whispered, "Things yet to come...." Her hands brushed the scarf covering Miranda's shoulders. "The wedding ceremony.... our first dance... cake."

"I see." Reaching up, Miranda guided Andrea's mouth to hers, murmuring, "One must have priorities..." just before their lips touched briefly.

When they parted, Andy whimpered, "Miranda..."

"Soon, my Darling..." Caressing Andrea's cheek with her fingertips, Miranda nodded. "Soon."

They made their way through the crowd, accepting congratulations with nods and smiles, until they reached the table holding the large, elegant, cake. It was, in fact, nine cakes. Three each were arranged in a step-type pattern alongside the main three tiered cake in the middle. The intricate decorations were reminiscent of the Greek temple design and the custom-made cake topper made both women smile. The small figurines standing on top of the cake were both depicted wearing classic fashions. The white haired figure dressed in Valentino was looking slightly down at the darker haired figure, wearing a miniature version of the famed Little Black Dress, and Chanel boots of all things. It was almost perfect. Miranda smirked as she reached up and pushed the top of the Valentino clad figure down slightly into the cake, until the two figures were even.

Andy laughed and nodded. "Now it's right."

"Of course." Miranda took a deep breath and looked around at the gathered crowd. They had all seen the couple walking toward the cake table. Grateful blue eyes landed on the members of her family, several members of Andrea's family, and also their closest friends, Donatella, Lillian, Douglas, and Nigel. She wanted to thank them, all, for being here, but suddenly Miranda was overwhelmed with the very unfamiliar emotion of, gratitude. It was quickly supplanted by love, as Andrea's voice carried through the crowd.

"Miranda and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being here." Andy smiled at her wife. "We cannot tell you how much it means to us to share this day with so many of our family and friends."

Nodding, Miranda found her voice. "We will be planning a series of small dinner parties," grinning at her wife, Miranda added, "in a few weeks." She looked out among the crowd. "There are many of you that I feel Andrea should get to know better, now that she has, foolishly, plunged headlong into my world." She did not have to look to know that Andrea was smiling.

"Really Miranda..." Andy's hand closed around the handle of the knife they were going to use to cut the cake. "You shouldn't call me foolish, when I'm about to have some of the most delicious cake on the planet, less than an inch from your face."

Covering Andrea's hand with her own, Miranda guided the knife through the dessert in the traditional fashion. "You wouldn't dare." They had discussed the appalling "tradition" that some couples employed of smashing the cake on the other's face. They had both agreed to forgo that particular part of the ceremony.

"I dunno, Miranda..." Andy picked up the small bite of cake with a gleam in her eye, "... apparently I'm 'foolish'..."

"Andrea," Miranda's voice was low, warning, as she held a bite of the cake they'd just cut, readying it to retaliate any actions her new wife may take. "Be absolutely sure, before you act."

"Oh... I'm sure..." Andy smiled and gently fed the bite to Miranda. She took the bite Miranda gave her, fingers and all. It was quick, but Andy's tongue caressed Miranda's fingertip before she released the hand back to its owner. The cake disappeared from her mouth, almost melting as she chewed and swallowed. "You see... I know what I'm doing." Reaching down, Andy deliberately ran her index finger through a bit of icing that was left at the edge of the cake where they had cut it. Moving as though to lick the icing off herself, Andy switched directions quickly and in a flash a small dab of the sweet stuff was stuck to Miranda's lips. "Oh... no..." Andy grinned. "Foolish me..."

Resisting the urge to lick the icing off her own lips, Miranda merely looked at Andrea, and waited. After a few seconds, her eyebrows raised, in a clear what-are-you-waiting-for question. Her heart rate increased as Andrea's brilliant smile lit the room and the woman moved in to clean up the mess she had made.

Andy only just glanced at her mother with a sort of sorry-Mom shrug and then fully focused on Miranda. The sugary icing vanished quickly, leaving only Miranda's lips and mouth to explore, which Andy did, with reckless abandon for a long, long moment.

Pulling away slowly, Andy rested her forehead against Miranda's and smiled. "Still think I'm foolish?"

Miranda smirked and pulled Andrea away from the table to allow the servers to finish the cutting and distribution. In her most amused tone, Miranda asked, "Coffee, Darling?" Stepping aside, Miranda gestured to a table that had been quickly set up while they had been busy with the cake.

Andy gasped. "Miranda, what have you done?"

Hesitating, Miranda sighed and shrugged. "I wasn't sure what you would be in the mood for so I..."

Andy chuckled and nuzzled against Miranda's ear. "So you just got everything." Looking over the array of additives on the table, she couldn't even think of anything else that might possibly be added to coffee. All the syrup bottles and sprinkles, not to mention the creamers and milk were arranged next to a large coffee making machine, Andy smiled at the nice looking man dressed in the Starbuck's uniform who was standing by for orders. This was above and beyond, "coffee" and it was so typically Miranda. "I love you."

"I love you too." Miranda smirked, "Go on..." She had barely released her hold on Andrea before Blair linked elbows with the younger woman and ushered her to the coffee bar.

"You've done it now." Jo chuckled and bumped her shoulder against Miranda's. "Neither one of them are going to sleep tonight."

"I would imagine not." Miranda's watched the friends each try to outdo the other with the outrageous additives to their drinks then turned her smirking expression on Jo, raised one eyebrow and spoke quietly, "And you're welcome."

Laughing at that, Jo wrapped her arm around Miranda's shoulders, jostling the older woman slightly. She opened her mouth to speak but Miranda beat her to it.

"Ain't I somethin'?" With a wink, Miranda's hand slid around Jo's waist, smirking as Jo's arm automatically wrapped around her as well.

Laughing at her catch phrase passing Miranda's lips, Jo gestured to the coffee bar with her free hand. "Shall we?"

"Mmmm..." Miranda nodded as they began to walk forward. "Indeed."

"Hey, Sis."

Andy's big brown eyes looked over the rim of her third mug of coffee. Her eyes darted to Miranda for just a moment the I-told-you evident in her eyes. "Hey, Chad." Glancing at the women on his arms, she asked, "Having fun?"

"You bet I am." His blue eyes twinkled as he smiled. "I do have some stuff to do later though, so, we gonna do this dance thing or what?" He knew their dad was in the hotel somewhere, but they had decided long beforehand that the traditional father/daughter dance would be easier if the brothers had the honor.

Miranda chuckled. "Yes, we are going to do this... 'dance thing'." She grinned at her new brother-in-law. "It seems we all have other," glancing at Andrea, Miranda smirked, "stuff ...to, ah, do... this evening." She licked her lips, adjusted the blue covering on her shoulders and watched as a lovely blush spread across Andrea's skin.

Standing, Miranda offered her hand to Andrea then looked at the women standing with Chad. "Heather, Yara," clear blue eyes crinkled at the corners as the models were startled by her recognition of them, "Andrea will need her brother for a short time." With a smirk Miranda tilted her head. "I'm sure you won't mind."

"No, Miranda." "Not at all, Miranda." Both models released their hold on the young man and moved away.

Asher only took a short backward glance at the two lovely women moving away as he approached the brides, then focused on his sister. "So, we are ready for the dance, yes?"

David walked up to the group, his arm around Josie's waist. "Yes, I believe it is time for Miriam and me to dance."

"What?" Asher was astonished "You and Miriam?" He shook his head, "No... I am the one to dance with her." He emphatically reminded his brother, "I am the oldest here!"

"Not true." Tante Louise chuckled as they all turned to look at her. "I believe I am the oldest."

Miranda shook her head and returned Tante's chuckle before announcing, "I will begin the dance with, Daniel, Asher may cut in after thirty seconds, then I will finish the dance with Tante." With a tilt of her head, very much a Dragon Lady move, Miranda asked her family, "Acceptable?"

Andy laughed, "Well, glad that worked out." She linked her elbow with Chad's and they headed toward the dance floor. "At least we don't have to worry about anyone cutting in on us." Smiling at the people who were making a large space for the traditional dance, Andy turned to face her brother, looking up at him with a wry smile. "Ma and Gram probably have Daddy tied up and locked in a closet somewhere."

"No." Chad sighed and took his sister's hand, placing his other hand, formally, on her waist as they began to move to the music. He took a moment, obviously debating with himself about something then informed her, "He isn't restrained."

"Oh." Andy opened her mouth to ask how he knew that, but being her brother Chad knew what she was going to ask.

"He was at the ceremony."


Andy instinctively glanced at Miranda, who was in the process of switching partners from Daniel to Asher. She amended her earlier thought and wondered if Asher would cut in on Chad after his dance with Miranda was over.

Nodding at his sister, the tall blonde man, quietly explained. "He came in just as you made it to the riser steps."

"so he..."

"He heard the vows, saw the kiss..." Chad pulled Andy a bit closer, "and yeah, probably heard Nigel announce you as he left."

"He didn't stop the ceremony..."

"He couldn't, not the way Nigel phrased it." Chad grinned at his astonished sister. "It's not illegal for you to get married... Dad just doesn't like it very much."

Andy laughed as the phrase Miranda had told Nate floated through her mind. She spoke it aloud for Chad. "You have a flair for understatement." She grinned at Chad's smile then her expression sobered as her brother's did. "Chad? What's..." She blinked as a familiar male voice behind her spoke quietly.

"May I cut in?"

Feeling as if her heart skipped a beat, Andy turned to face the man. "Daddy..."


Part 58

Miranda saw what was happening and began to move toward Andrea, only to be stopped by her dance partner.

"She is his daughter." Louise held tight to her niece's hand. "That will not change."

"She's my wife!" Her low, intense tones emphasized the words for Tante alone.

The older woman's nod and calm response also soothed Miranda. "And that will not change either." She continued to sway to the music with her youngest niece. "Give them a moment."

Dorothy had been standing with her arms crossed in front of her, smiling, as she watched her children dance when she noticed her husband lurking on the edge of the hardwood floor. Dropping her arms to her sides, she moved to intercept the man before he made a scene. An iron grip on her elbow stopped her.

"Let him be."

Pava looked down into Dorothy's hard eyes and shook her head. "He needs to resolve this, and so does Andy." She released her hold but repeated her previous statement. "Let him be."

"He's my husband. I can't let him make a fool out of himself..."

"He's my son...and I can." Sighing, Pava only glanced once at Mary before she directed her comments to Dorothy again. "What Andy said about choices, is true. We all make them, we all live with them. This is something Richard has to do. Whatever choice he's made for himself, he will have to live with the place it takes him."

"Do you think..." Dorothy blinked. "Do you think telling him about, yourself... helped?"

Pava swallowed hard and shook her head. "I don't know, Darlin'... I hope so."

They watched as Richard cut in on Chad, and began to dance with his daughter. Dorothy wasn't surprised to hear Pava echo herself quietly.

"I hope so."

Richard danced with his daughter for a few awkward moments before he sighed, "You look beautiful, Baby."

Despite herself, Andy smiled, her eyes shining at the praise, "Thank you, Daddy."

They danced for a few more moments before he sighed again, "It wasn't supposed to be this way you know..." Shaking his head stopped her response and he continued speaking, "You weren't supposed to grow up."

Now Andy was exasperated, "Daddy....we all grow up."

Pulling her close, he whispered in her ear, "According to my mother, I haven't yet."


Putting some distance between them, he acknowledged, "I suppose she thinks I have been acting like a baby lately. But I think I'm acting like a father, trying to keep his child from making a huge mistake..."

"It's my mistake to make, Daddy." Andy smiled sadly. "But it isn't. This is exactly the right choice, for me. I'm just glad you don't hate me for it."

"I could never hate you!" He swallowed hard, but continued moving slowly to the music, "I... don't know if I will, ever be able to... understand or approve of," he glanced toward Miranda who was glaring at him, "...this." He spoke again, quickly before Andy was able to respond. "But I told you before... you're my daughter, no matter what. I'll always love you, no matter what."

Andy pressed her lips together and felt the tears in her eyes on the verge of spilling over the edge. "Thank you, Daddy." Wrapping her arms around his neck, Andy buried her face in his neck and whispered, "I love you too."

"I'm still going to need...time, though." He felt her head moving against his shoulder and knew Andy was nodding, accepting that things weren't all resolved.

They stayed in the hug until the song ended. After only a few seconds of silence, Andy felt a soft touch on her back, and heard Miranda's voice.

"Is everything.. alright?"

"Yes!" Shifting her hold, Andy released Richard and moved to Miranda's side. Pressing her forehead lightly into Miranda's temple, "Everything is just fine." Another slow song began to play, giving them enough breathing room to continue talking, even while standing at the edge of the dance area.

"Good." Miranda held Richard's gaze for a moment before dismissing the man by merely turning toward to Andrea. "I have sent the girls to fetch the throwaway flowers from our dressing rooms. We must toss out our bouquets and then we will be able to make our escape."

Andy laughed and played with the edge of the blue covering on Miranda's shoulders. "Sounds good to me." She was completely ready to be alone with Miranda but reminded her wife of another obligation that needed to be resolved before they left. "You also need to talk to the gatecrasher."

"I have requested that the Good Detective handle that situation on my behalf. She should be doing so now." At Andy's puzzled expression, Miranda smirked. "She and I had plenty of time to chat while you and her wife were debating the health benefits of adding soy milk to your coffee."

With a million watt smile, Andy chuckled, "Silk is great in coffee. It's really creamy and delicious. I don't know why Blair is so against it."

"Excuse me." Richard widened his eyes when he realized that the women, Yes, he thought to himself, Andy is a woman now, someone's wife, had forgotten that he was there. "Gatecrasher?" That didn't sound good to him. He thought Miranda had said she would keep Andy safe.

Miranda waved off the question. "They happen at nearly every wedding. This is most likely a member of the press wanting a closer look at the ceremony."

The lawyer in him heard the tone of Miranda's voice. "But maybe not... what else would it be?"

Andy sighed and gestured to an empty table near them. "Let's sit."

Miranda was amused at the sudden popularity of that table. As they found their seats, Dorothy, Chad, Pava and Mary all gathered around and took seats of their own.

Looking around the table, Andy glanced at Miranda then she began to speak, to her father. The others at the table listened closely and Andy was glad that the music was not blaring.

"Someone has been sending manipulated photographs... of me... to us," Her attention was drawn by Miranda clearing her throat and Andy sighed and corrected the statement, "... to Miranda. We think they wanted us to break up, before the wedding."

"Doctored?" Chad shrugged, "Aren't all those magazine photos airbrushed and stuff?"

Miranda sniffed, "Not always and not usually to the point of putting the subjects naked in bed together." She saw Andy's father pale, but the rest of the family were instantly incensed, all of them nearly shouting at the outrageous accusations. Miranda held up her hand for the rest of the table to quiet. From the corner of her eye she saw Jo and Blair re-enter the room and gestured for them to join the table. When the couple reached them, Miranda turned to Richard, asking, "You have something to say?"

"I thought it was a joke." He shook his head and gathered his thoughts, "Some time ago, I received a phone call. The caller did not identify himself, but asked me how much I was willing to risk and possibly lose, to prevent you from marrying Andy." Richard shrugged. "At that time I was pretty angry with the situation and told them in a fairly sarcastic tone that the number was pretty high as was my..." Richard lowered his eyes from Miranda's, "hatred for you."

Used to that sentiment, Miranda waved it off. "Continue."

"He went on to outline a plan for several non-related people to slowly buy up as much Elias-Clarke stock as possible, then at a designated time, everyone was supposed to sell the shares they had accumulated." He pulled his phone from his pocket. "This message came in yesterday morning."

"Tomorrow, 5 pm"

"Mmmm... set to coincide with the wedding ceremony." Miranda tapped her finger against her lips. "So there would be no doubt as to the cause of the drop..."

"Did you?" Andy's quiet voice was choked. "Did you sell, Daddy?"

He shook his head and met his daughter's dark eyes, "No... I never even bought any." He admitted, "I thought about it though." Tearing his gaze away from Andy, he looked at Miranda. "Do you think that has anything to do with the... pictures?"

Jo spoke up. "Doubtful."

"That sounds familiar though..." Blair thought back. "When Daddy finally gave me a chance at running the company... Warner Industries stocks took a big tumble." She shook her head. "I thought it was because Daddy was stepping down, but if it was orchestrated..."

"It happened before..." Andy realized and tangled her fingers with Miranda's. "When you appeared on the TV shows with me."

"It was a rather dramatic drop, but it didn't last..." Miranda tried to put together pieces of the big picture, unsure if they all went to the same picture or not. She asked Andrea's father, "When were you contacted regarding the stock manipulation?"

"Only a few days before the television appearances..." He hesitated, "Just after you visited me, that's why I was so angry, angry enough to consider the plan," He glanced at Dorothy. "Angry enough to keep quiet about it."

"Not long enough lead time to be effective." That puzzled Miranda more than anything.

"Someone jumped the gun!" Blair laughed. "They must have sensed an opportunity and the members of the group with large numbers of shares went for it."

"But everything wasn't in place yet." Jo grinned at her wife, "so when the sold stock was quickly repurchased... the maneuver failed."

"There was no fluctuation at all when we appeared in the Pride Parade." Miranda was looking at her phone's screen. Her eyebrows raised as she looked at the rise and fall of the stock on today's chart, "There was a significant amount of activity today, just after five p.m." She handed the device to Blair. "It doesn't seem to have lasted very long."

"Nope," With her blue eyes twinkling past her dark blonde hair, Blair returned Miranda's phone to her. "There must have been someone buying up the shares as soon as they were sold."

"Yeah, no kidding."

They all turned to see an unfamiliar tall man approaching their table.

"Ah," Miranda stood and hugged the man, kissing his cheeks. Usually a socially appropriate gesture, Miranda now made it seem more like old friends greeting each other. "Archie... just the person I wanted to see. May I introduce you to my wife.. Andrea."

Andy stood and held out her hand, "Andy, please."

"Pleasure to meet you." He bowed slightly as he shook her hand. "When you have a chance we should talk..."

Miranda chuckled. "Always working..." She smiled as she returned to her seat and Archie pulled up a chair beside her. "It seems you have already been very busy this evening."

He laughed, his bright-white teeth contrasting with his ebony skin. "Yes. You were too, but while your endeavor was for pleasure, a stock brokers work is never done. There is always a market open somewhere in the world." He held up his mobile device and grinned. "Thank goodness for wireless internet."

"I take it I have made money today..." Miranda's eyes glittered at the mock hurt Archie displayed.

Placing his hand over his heart, Archie chuckled. "Oh ye of little faith... I'm crushed." Winking, he dropped his arm to his side. "Of course you did..." His eyes flickered to Andy. "As did many of my other clients."

"Excellent!" Miranda nodded. "I assume you are happy with your usual commission?"

"Extremely." His deep dark eyes crinkled with amusement. "Why do you think I work so hard for you?"

Lily wandered over to the table and leaned down to hug Andy from behind, whispering, casually but not so quietly, in her friend's ear as she looked over the unfamiliar man at the table, "Who's your friend?"

Miranda chuckled, "Lillian, my I present Archie Wilson. He's my money manager." She grinned. "Archie, this is Andrea's friend, Lillian Goodwin. She runs an art gallery in Manhattan."

Smiling at the introduction, Lily chuckled and moved to shake the man's hand. "Most people call me Lily. Pleasure to meet you."

"The pleasure," Archie grinned and stood to reach out and take Lily's hand, "is all mine." He kissed the offered hand and winked then returned his attention to Miranda,."I will forward the reports to you, so that you may look over the information at your convenience."

"Thank you, Archie." Miranda knew the man was now ready to go enjoy the, festivities. "I believe it is nearly time to put my original request into play, is it not?"

"Yes, it is. It's all in the reports." Bowing slightly to his biggest, best and most favorite client, who he also considered a friend, Archie smiled then looked at the woman he'd just met. "Would you care for a drink?"

"That sounds great." Lily flashed a little, wow-this-guy-seems-cool, grin at Andy and linked elbows with the man as they walked to the bar.

"So, Detective," Miranda pinned Jo with a cool blue stare. "You don't believe the gate crasher had anything to do with the photographic mischief?"

"That's not what I said." Jo grinned, "I said he didn't have anything to do with the stock manipulation." She shrugged. "I think he had a lot to do with the photos." She informed them, "Hotel security searched his room, they found a laptop with a lot of photos on it, of different people, in compromising positions... you two aren't his only targets." She nodded at their astonished expressions. "I also don't think he worked alone. There is a trail via email connecting him with several people." She assured them, "The tech guys on the police force here are on it; tracking down everyone he has contacts with." Catching Andy gazing at Miranda's covered shoulders, Jo smirked. "I took the liberty of putting them in touch with your lawyer. He's with them now. When the police are finished with their investigation, they'll inform him of their findings."

"Excellent." Miranda nodded. "I will contact Keith in a week..." she glanced at Andrea, "or so, to see what our options are regarding any legal action we may wish to pursue." She squeezed the fingers in hers slightly. "Well, now that all that has been settled, shall we get on with this..."

"You bet," Andy grinned and stood with Miranda. "Let's do this thing."

The assembled crowd didn't need the DJ's announcement that the bouquet toss was about to happen. They had all seen the Devil's Spawn carrying the flowers through the room and knew what it meant. All the women who wanted to participate gathered quickly on the large open area of the dance floor. Miranda smirked at the crowd. "This is a non-traditional wedding, therefore the bouquet toss should be non-traditional as well. Any man who may want to join in this part of the ceremony is welcome to do so."

Only a couple of men joined the group, and they stood in the back. Miranda looked over the assembly and leaned in to whisper to Andrea. "You take left. I'll take right."

Glancing at the crowd, Andy smiled a million watt smile and nodded. "You got it, Boss."

Emily glanced up at all the women, and the few men, standing anxiously on the hardwood floor. "They can't be serious..." Why anyone would participate in this ridiculous part of the ceremony was beyond her comprehension. They actually wanted to be the next person to get married? Even Serena was there. That hadn't actually been a surprise though, the woman had mentioned marriage and weddings, in passing, with more and more frequency. Emily shook her head and assumed that is what one did when their pseudo-girlfriend was planning one of the biggest events of the social season.

Now that it was nearly over, Emily had a lot to do to prepare for her new job. It actually started on Monday, but there would be a week that Joan would be there with her before she left for London. Then Emily would be on her own in the position. This e-mail was actually for Joan. It was a list of realtors and what Emily considered better neighborhoods for the woman to consider while searching for a flat. Until she found a place, Runway would have temporary housing for her. Emily wondered if she should think about looking for another apartment as well, but she rather liked the place she was in now, so that could obviously wait. One thing was perfectly clear to Emily, there were too many things she needed to do and consider before ever taking part in some silly superstition, too many things to think about besides some long outdated tradition of choosing the next people to get married. Marriage, Emily shuddered, horrid business, that.

Mary shook her head, resisting Pava's pull to join the group.

"Don't you wanna be next, Darlin'?"

"I..." Mary pulled her hand out of Pava's grip and remained seated, "...am far too old to be participating in those kinds of shenanigans." She gave her friend a stern look. "And so are you!"

Pava chuckled and stopped trying to persuade her friend to join in, happy that at least the seed of the idea had now taken hold in Mary's mind. Keeping her smirk to a minimum and feeling Mary's eyes on her back, Pava moved to mingle with the others, putting herself in the line of fire.

The surge toward the flying bouquets was brief. The models that caught them smiled, uncharacteristically, and stepped aside to wait and see who they would be paired with after the garters were caught.

Miranda could tell that a few people in crowd had been disappointed at the direction of the bouquet throws, some more than others, and now she smirked at the low chanting that was coming from the group.

"Garter... garter... garter..."

There was some shifting among the assembled people. Some of the women left the group, several more men joined in, their eyes on the models who were standing on the sidelines holding the flowers they'd caught. Miranda looked at her bride and raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow in question. Andrea's large eyes reflected the lighting in the room, and allowed Miranda to see the internal mischief the young woman was obviously feeling.

Andy grinned and moved to sit at an empty table behind them. It was easy to get to her garter because, although not normally visible, there was a slit down the side of her dress. So she sat and took a deep breath as Miranda pulled the fabric aside, revealing a long length of leg. Miranda knelt and only had to slide her hand halfway under the top of the opening to reach the decorative garter.

Andy's gaze was solidly on the Miranda-blue eyes looking into hers, but she did feel the band make its way down her leg and heard the cheer when it was totally removed. As Miranda stood, twirling the item on her index finger, she spoke quietly. "My turn."

Switching places, Andy now found herself kneeling in front of Miranda. The fashion icon's dress did not have convenient access to her target and Andy swallowed hard as she realized what she was going to have to do, in front of all these people.

Miranda smirked and she chuckled. "Really Andrea, you know how I love to be kept waiting."

Andy rose to the challenge and gently slipped Miranda's shoe off then made full contact with Miranda's toes and slowly slid her hands up Miranda's leg, feeling every inch of the luscious skin that she would be kissing later this evening. "I know exactly what you love, Miranda."

Higher and higher her hands went, her arms disappearing under the dress. It would be so easy, right now to divert the path, bypass her target and go to where her hands truly wanted to be. Miranda's eyebrow, raised over dilated eyes, was all the indication she got of the woman's feelings on that subject. But, doing that, in front of all these people wasn't something Andy was ready for. That Miranda, the one Andy drew out during their intimate times, was not for public consumption, that Miranda was for her alone. The thought was intoxicating. My wife.

The crowd let out another cheer as Andy's hands emerged from under the dress with the garter from Miranda's thigh. With a laugh and a smile Andy slid Miranda's shoe back on her foot and offered her hand to assist Miranda up. To her surprise, Miranda took the hand before she stood and Andy felt a tiny bit of pressure in the grasp as the woman rose from her seat. It wasn't needed. Miranda was perfectly capable of rising out of the chair on her own, but Andy felt her heart do a double beat as Miranda accepted the assistance, accepted that they would help each other from now on. The thought that had been echoing in her brain since the ceremony took an even more enthusiastic tone in her head. My wife!

Miranda squeezed the hand in hers. "Ready, Darling?"

Andy turned around and nodded. "You bet." She asked, "You?"

Also turning her back to the crowd, Miranda winked. "Naturally."

On the quiet count of three, they both whipped the garters over their shoulders. They heard the surge of people as the garters flew toward the crowd.

Emily was livid. "Whatever possessed you to do that?"

"What?" Serena was slightly taken back by the venom in Emily's tone. "It's a wedding, this is what you do at a wedding, yes?"

"Why would you even want to catch those things?" Emily shuddered at the thought and consulted her mobile for the next tasks in the queue.

"I was merely enjoying the festivities that you have so carefully planned." Serena sighed and admitted. "I had hoped that you would also participate and that perhaps we could dance together."

"I've got so much to do...there's no time..."

"No." Plucking the device from Emily's hand, Serena insisted, "The reception is nearly over. You can spare the time for a dance."

"Hey!" Emily grabbed her planner back. "Nearly over or not, there are still things I must do!"

"Fine!" Serena ground her teeth at the rebuff, "I'll just find someone else to dance with then." The tall woman turned and took a step before Emily's soft voice stopped her motion.

"Serena." Waiting for Serena to meet her gaze, Emily pressed her lips together then slowly closed down the electronic device. "Perhaps, I have time for... one, dance."

Nodding, a small smile crossed Serena's face. "One will do, for now."

"Are you finished making a fool out of yourself?"

Pava chuckled and shook her head. "Doubtful." Sitting next to her friend, she asked, "What's so foolish about trying to catch the bouquet?"

"You're three times as old as most of them!" Mary was exasperated. "What did you expect?"

"Well, I was hoping to catch both the flowers and the garter." Pava grinned. "Then I could have given you the bouquet and we could have danced together.

That explanation didn't fly with Mary. "Then after you missed the flowers, why'd you still go for the garter?"

Waving off that, Pava laughed, "Oh I figured I could make a trade with one of the gals who had caught them... so I could still give them to you and we could still dance."

Humphing at that, Mary crossed her arms. "Why do you want to dance with me so badly anyway?"

"Because I love you." Pava smiled as Mary's gaze locked with hers. "And I..." Swallowing hard against the thoughts in her head, Pava looked away, out toward the dancers. "I just do."

"Pava?" Mary blinked when she realized there was a tear, falling unhindered down Pava's cheek. Before she knew it, she was kneeling, somewhat painfully, in front of the crying woman. "Pava... talk to me."

"Talking to Richard brought up so many memories." Pava sighed. "I used to watch you, you and George, dancing." Searching Mary's face, Pava's eyes crinkled at the corners. "You seemed so happy in his arms. I just..." Wiping the tears from her face, she shook her head. "I want to make you that happy."

"You do." Mary smiled softly. "You always have, that and more."

"We've never danced." Pava raised her eyebrows at Mary's shock.

"Of course we..."

"No, not together..." Reaching out, Pava stood gently helping Mary to her feet as well. She smiled as her fingertips gently traced over Mary's prominent cheekbones and jaw. "Only in my dreams." She looked out at the dancers to see that other couples were beginning to join the winners of the tosses. "I would never have made you though, never have forced you to dance, when you really don't want to."

"How long are you going to make her wait."


"Andy asked me how long I was going to make you wait, for me, to make up my mind... to not be, afraid anymore."

"Doesn't matter." Pava assured her. "I'll wait as long as you need me to."

"What if I take too long?" Mary frowned. "What if... you..."

Mary didn't need to finish the thought. At their age it was a very central theme. Pava had meant it though, she would wait, however long it took. "If I am on my deathbed, drawing my last breath and I hear your voice whisper in my ear, "I'm not afraid," then my last breath will be a happy one and it will have been worth the wait."

Too long... Unlike many of the women here this evening, Mary had chosen a dress that utilized pockets. Now she reached into her pocket, her hand closing around the keepsake that she had loaned to Andy for the ceremony. "It..." She began, trying to calm her racing heart, "It's not a garter, but..." producing the bracelet, Mary looked into Pava's eyes, "maybe it will do just as well?"

Pava felt her jaw go slack as she recognized the jewelry in Mary's hand. "I... thought you had thrown it away."

Shaking her head against the mere thought of that, Mary denied the possibility, "Never." She watched as Pava took the bracelet from her palm. "Sometimes, it was the only thing that kept me...sane." She held out her hand for Pava to fasten the chain around her wrist and shook her arm to settle it in place before she looked up into the eyes that had haunted her dreams for so long. Andy's words echoed in her mind, It's easier than you think. Mary held out her hand again, this time with a request. "Dance with me."

"Are you sure?" Pava's heart fluttered as Mary nodded.

"I'm sure." Stepping forward, Mary leaned in close and whispered, "I'm not afraid, anymore." Mary blinked and smiled as Pava suddenly smiled a very familiar smile then led the love of her life to the dance floor.

Mary stopped their motion for a moment. "What would you have traded?"


"You said you would have traded the models something for the bouquet, if you had caught the garter. What would you have traded?" Mary couldn't fathom what Pava could possibly trade with the women for that prize.

Pava laughed and twirled Mary around in time to the music. "That's easy." She smiled another million watt smile and answered, "Chad."

Laughing at that, Mary allowed herself to be swept away, practically floating in Pava's arms.

"So that's where you get it," Miranda grinned at her bride, "I hadn't figured out where your smile came from, yet."

Andy chuckled as she watched the newly paired couples dance. Miranda resumed her seat on Andy's lap and Andy squeezed her slightly. "I love you."

"Do you?" Miranda wrapped her arms around Andrea's neck. "That's good, because you're stuck with me..."

Andy whispered a cheer, "Yaaaayyy." She moved her lips closer to Miranda's, very nearly touching them when someone clearing their throat stopped that action.

"Sorry to interrupt..." Louise grinned, "but I would like to speak with Miriam for a moment..."

"Oh!" Andy nodded, "Sure..." She released her hold on Miranda, allowing the woman to stand, then she followed. Leaning in to finish what she'd started a moment ago, Andy pressed her lips against Miranda's and murmured as she pulled away, "Be right back."

Miranda's hand raised involuntarily to her lips, as if to hold in the kiss they'd just shared. "I'll be waiting. It will be time for us to go soon. Find the girls, would you?"

One dark eye winked. "You bet."

Both older women watched as Andrea walked away then took seats at the table. Miranda saw a bit of seriousness sweep over Louise's features. "What is it, Tante? What can I do for you?"

"It's... I..." Louise shook her head. "It was a beautiful ceremony."

Miranda smiled. "You told me that before, when we were dancing."

"Mmm.. yes, well..." The older woman looked her niece in the eye and spoke quietly. "There was one part in particular that was especially interesting, to me."

"Oh?" Miranda waited for it. Tante had been very understanding about her relationship with Andrea, but Miranda was still slightly worried about the denouncing of her faith.

"Your new name..." The older woman pressed her lips together. "You took my name as your middle name."

"I..." Miranda nodded. "Yes... It was really the only link I had, back to my... my family."

"Well," Louise smiled, her eyes glistening. "I'm honored. Thank you."

Smiling, Miranda nodded, almost sighing in relief. "You're very welcome."


Part 59

Andy returned with one arm wrapped around each girl's shoulders. "Here ya go, Boss. As requested."

"Mmm..." Miranda eyed her children suspiciously. "You two haven't been causing trouble, have you?" She couldn't hold her serious expression when they both rolled their eyes and their, "Mo...ooommm..." protest sounded in stereo. She chuckled and gestured for them to move closer to her. "C'mere..." Gathering her children in a hug, Miranda was comforted by their not so little foreheads pressing into her neck. "I will miss you, Bobbseys..."

Pulling away, Caroline smiled. "We'll be fine, Mom. There's lots of stuff to do at Dad's now... and..."

Miranda tilted her head in question, "And?"

"And he needs some cheering up anyway." Cassidy shrugged. "He's kinda bummed about the baby not being real. I think he was starting to look forward to it..."

Caroline agreed. "Yeah...he's sad. He already took Patricia back to the room. He said he'd talk to you after your honeymoon."

"Ah... well, yes.. then it's good for you two to be there for him." Miranda nodded. "I'm sure you can cheer him up."

"I love you, Mom." Caroline hugged Miranda again then stepped aside for Cassidy to do the same. Wrapping her arms around Andy's waist, Caroline whispered, "I love you too, Ma."

"Right back atcha, Munchkin." Andy smiled at her daughter. "I love you so much."

Cassidy cut in on Caroline's Andy-time with a hug of her own. "Have a great honeymoon, Ma. I love you."

"Love you too, Sweetie." Andy returned Cassidy's hug then leaned down to kiss both of them on the tops of their heads. "You be good for your father... and try not to let Patricia jump on anyone!"

The girls laughed and Cassidy nodded. "Right."

The twins looked around to spot their friends near the door. Both held up small packets of birdseed and indicated they had some for the girls too. "C'mon Ro." Cassidy tugged her sister's hand. "Let's go get a good spot to watch them leave!"

Most of the family had seen the little farewell and now that the girls had gone, they approached the couple for one last round of congratulations and hugs. While Miranda said farewells to her family, Andy faced her own relatives. She looked around as she told her mother goodbye. "Thanks for being here, Ma... um... where'd..."

"Sorry... he couldn't take it. When Pava and Mary started dancing, he... left." Dorothy sighed. "He probably went back to the room."

"Oh..." Andy nodded, glancing out on the dance floor where Gram and Mary were still moving slowly to the music. She wasn't about to interrupt that couple. She hugged her mother tightly. "I love you, Ma, and Daddy too... I'll talk to you soon, okay? Tell Gram I'll call her..."

"Yes..." Dorothy nodded. "We have to make plans for the holidays."

Andy managed not to roll her eyes but she did grin, and laugh. "Ma! That's months away!"

"Still... I'll be in touch. I may even figure out that e-mail thing."

Laughing at that, Andy turned to playfully punch her brother in the stomach. "Glad you were here, Bro."

"No place else I'd wanna be, Sis." Chad looked over at the two models he'd had on his arms earlier. "Well... maybe one... or two other places."

"Be careful." Andy glanced over at the women. "They look hungry."

"I hope so." Chad wiggled his eyebrows and grinned. "I figure I can coax them to my room with the promise of an Oh Henry! bar."

Miranda chuckled. "That sounds like a very good plan...try laying a trail of M&M's..."

"Yeah?" Chad seemed thoughtful for a moment then nodded. "Thanks, Sis."

Chuckling at that title, Miranda placed her hand on Andrea's back. "Ready, Darling?"

"Oh... I have to tell your family bye!" Andy smiled and moved to gently hug Tante. "Thank you for being here..."

"My pleasure." Louise patted the girl on the back. "It's always nice to witness true love."

Moving on to Josie, Andy hugged her and David quickly. "Thank you so much."

"Our pleasure." David beamed. "I'm very glad Mir...anda, found you."

"Me too!" Andy laughed and with a very bright smile, Andy turned to hug Asher. "Thank you for being here, Asher. I know that Miranda is very happy that you all attended."

Asher answered the thank you, without releasing the embrace. "As David said, it was our pleasure." He continued his hold on Andrea until an annoyed throat was cleared, very loudly.

Andy pulled away and shook her finger at the man. "One of these days... she really is going to kick your..."

"Tuchus..." Asher waved off the threat. "I know.. I know..." He grinned. "It would be worth it, I think."

Even Miranda laughed at that. "Yes, Asher... I believe it would."

Their exit from the ballroom out into the garden was accompanied by a hail of birdseed the likes of which would have satisfied even Hitchcock's flock. They made it down the path to the car but not before they were practically covered with the tiny bits. Miranda hoped the convertible aspect of the vehicle and the length of the ride would take care of the bulk of the problem.

Miranda slid behind the wheel of her beloved Porsche. "Emily was supposed to have had our luggage stowed in the trunk."

Andy laughed and ran her fingers through Miranda's hair. "Whatever..." She grinned and leaned over to kiss her wife. "It's not like we're going to need clothes for the next two weeks anyway. Are we?"

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Don't be ridiculous, Andrea." Starting the car, she pulled away from the curb and laughed. "Of course we won't."

"So." Alan watched the couple escaping down the path. "Now what?"

Caroline shrugged. "It's getting late. We're leaving early in the morning to head back to Dad's..." She looked pointedly at Cassidy. "We should probably turn in."

"Yeah..." Cassidy nodded and shot an apologetic look at their friends. "We probably should."

"No worries, Kiddo." Alyssa grinned. "We'll email ya, and see ya when you get back home." She looked over Cassidy's shoulder at her parent's approach. "Right, Mom?"

"Yep." Lara winked at the twin girls. "Benji will be more than ready to play with Patricia again by then." She laughed. "He's never gotten along with any other dog so well, so quickly."

Michael grinned at the girls. "Hopefully we'll be seeing you two around our house more." He jostled the arm around his wife's waist and teased her. "Apparently you guys can teach Lara a thing or two about playing the piano."

"Michael!" Lara slapped him lightly in the stomach then informed the girls, "You are welcome anytime, but you are in no way required to give me piano instructions."

Both Cassidy and Caroline laughed at that, then said their good nights. The Hartstone family headed to their rooms, too.

The entire party thinned out very quickly after the newlyweds left. Soon there were only the hotel staff cleaning up the tables. Carmen continued to play some soft slow music. Partially for the clean up crew, but mostly for the lone, older, couple still dancing. It was a beautiful sight, and Carmen knew she would play for these two, for as long as they wanted to dance.

The door had barely closed behind her before Dorothy heard her husband's shaky voice.

"She's gone."

"Good Lord, Richard, don't be so dramatic about the whole thing." Dorothy sighed. "She and Miranda have left, yes."

"How can you be so casual about it?"

"It," Dorothy's tone conveyed her disgust at her husband's attitude, "is making Andy incredibly happy. That's good enough for me." She sighed and sat next to her husband on the couch. "That's all we've ever wanted for her... to be happy."


"No." Dorothy shook her head and hugged her husband's arm. "Think about it. We've only ever wanted her to be happy." When he remained quiet, Dorothy continued, "I told her we'd be in touch to arrange for the holidays."

"She won't come home without...them."

Dorothy grinned, "Now you're getting the idea." When Richard looked at her, startled, she sighed, "She probably won't want to visit us without her family, but, Richard, she is home with them."

He buried his face in his hands. "I'm going to miss her."

Exhaling softly, Dorothy nodded and tried to comfort him. "Honey, you've been missing her ever since she went off to school." She shook him gently. "She's all grown up now, time to let her live her life."

"But..." Richard looked up, to see nothing but loving compassion his wife's eyes.

"No." Dorothy licked her lips. "We've done our job. Now it's up to Andy." She lightly kissed his cheek and stood. "It's been a long day, time for bed I think."

Frowning at that, Richard thought about it and nodded. "Yeah, I'll be there in a bit."

With a final ruffle of her fingertips through the graying hair at his temple, Dorothy nodded. "Okay."

Miranda felt Andrea's fingers running through her hair, reveling in the sensation. She didn't know how exactly they had gotten here, home, in bed. She vaguely remembered Andrea picking her up and carrying her into the house, new-bride style. The memory of Andrea peeling her dress off her was slightly less fuzzy, although how Andrea's dress made it to the pile of fabric on the floor was a mystery. One thing was perfectly clear though as Andrea caressed every soft curve she could find.

"I want you, Miranda."

Smiling at that, Miranda licked her lips and rolled them so that Andrea was pressing her back into the mattress. "You have me." As Andrea's mouth explored her neck, Miranda murmured her assurances. "You have me... all to yourself..." Miranda gasped as Andrea's moans warmed her ear and sent thrills racing down her spine. She reached up, pulling a few key hairpins, letting Andrea's dark locks fall down around her face. "Nothing but you and me." It only took a few more passes with nimble fingers through dark hair to release the rest of Andrea's long, soft hair.

"God, Miranda."

Miranda groaned as her flesh pebbled against Andrea's palm. Her wife's husky voice surrounded her.

"You feel so good."

Miranda arched to meet Andrea's mouth.

"Mmm... you taste so good."

"Andrea!" Miranda's hands grasped her wife, but she was conflicted. She wanted Andrea to move up, to kiss her, to move down, to taste more, and to stay where she was, but closer to continue the sensations she was feeling. The sensations were threatening to take any semblance of coherent thought. She was now pressing herself rhythmically against Andrea. Crying out as Andrea's lips traveled across her ribs, gasping as Andrea's soft, warm, tongue tasted the inside of her thigh. Miranda looked down the length of her body to see Andrea's dark head dip down. She was unable to stop her reaction as her body moved to meet her wife's mouth. "Oh! God..." With Andrea's strong arm holding her in place and Andrea's questing tongue deliciously swirling against and inside her, Miranda grasped at the sheets in her fists. "Andrea!" The answering hum pushed her closer to the edge and reduced her to a series of gasping "Ah" sounds that grew faster and higher pitched with every breath.

Andy reveled in the sensation of Miranda writhing under her. She loved being able to do this, to give Miranda this much pleasure. She loved Miranda so much, Andy knew she could do this forever and never get enough. She also knew that Miranda was very close to the edge and truthfully, Andy was very close as well. This time she didn't want either of them to go first. Replacing her mouth with her hand, Andy kept up the rhythm as she trailed kisses up Miranda's body. Then she slowed and stopped her ministrations for a moment. "Stay with me, Miranda." Her dark eyes took in the expression of love on Miranda's face and she smiled as she guided her wife's hand to exactly where she wanted it to be. "Together." Groaning as Miranda picked up the previous motions, Andy laid tiny kisses on Miranda's neck and undulated against the elegant woman. Miranda's hushed voice reached her ears.

"Together. Andrea, please."

"Always." Andy's long fingers found their target, resuming her efforts, matching Miranda's motions and urging them to increase. They were both so close and both so frantic. Andy cried out as the waves of pleasure crashed over her. "Miranda!" That was apparently all Miranda needed to hear and Andy held on tight as her wife also shook uncontrollably. Experiencing the moment, that one brilliant, blinding, moment where they each blended into the other and, for an instant, were the same.

As they lay twined together, basking in the afterglow, drifting in and out of consciousness, Andy sighed. "This is how it should be." She smiled and kissed the tears of joy from Miranda's face. "Together always." She chanted softly as they settled into each others arms, both drifting off to sleep, "always, always, always..."

Andy became aware of warmth first, then comfortable softness. She took a deep breath, smiling as Miranda's familiar scent overwhelmed her senses. Opening her eyes, Andy smiled, "Hey you..." She shifted, placing a light kiss on Miranda's lips. "How long have you been awake?"

"A few hours."

"Hours?" Andy tried to pull away, only to be stopped by her wife's surprisingly strong arms.

Miranda smiled. "I adore watching you sleep."

Andy's large dark eyes blinked as she smiled. "No nightmares last night..." She shifted closer, nuzzling Miranda's deliciously smooth neck, nipping the skin there lightly. "I have the feeling those are gone now."

"Mmmm..." Her own nightmare had not returned and her dreams had actually been pleasant after the Good Detective had informed her that she had in no way contributed to the murder/suicide tragedy. Tilting her head to allow Andrea better access, Miranda laughed. "Good!"

Tearing herself away long enough to look into Miranda's eyes, Andy smiled. "I love that sound. I want to make you laugh all the time."

Another laugh bubbled up from Miranda. "Not all the time, my Darling... I must still be serious at work." She sighed as Andrea resumed her exploration of skin. "It will be a great help to know that this is waiting for me at home."

Stopping her activity, Andy again pulled away to scan Miranda's face. "Waiting for you at home? Am I supposed to quit my job?"

"If you wish..." Miranda smirked. "You are a very wealthy woman now, Andrea. There is no need for you to work."

Sighing, Andy rolled away, landing on her back to stare at the ceiling. "Miranda, we've had this discussion. I don't want your money."

"Ahhh... but you're stuck with it now." Chuckling, Miranda also rolled to place herself on top of her wife. "You never signed a pre-nup so now, legally what's mine is yours."


Smiling wickedly, Miranda continued, "And what's yours is mine."

Shaking her head, the reality settled over Andy. "Miranda what could I possibly have..."

"Shhh..." Miranda ran her fingertips over Andrea's lips. "These are mine..." She lowered her head to capture the lips in question. Groaning as Andrea's hands traced the curves at her waist and pulled her closer, Miranda deepened the kiss. Her tongue explored Andrea's mouth with abandon. She broke the kiss, breathing heavily as she shifted and murmured against the skin on Andrea's neck, "This is mine..." Her hands began to explore the nubile body under her. Trailing kisses downward, Miranda stopped to taste the flesh Andrea's arching body offered. "Mine." Her tongue flickered over hardened nipples, her teeth exerting gentle pressure there.

"Oh, God!" Andy pressed herself into Miranda's questing lips, "Miranda!" She gasped for air as Miranda's hands explored lower. Miranda's almost musical voice drove her toward the edge almost as fast as the sensation of Miranda's skin sliding next to hers.

"Aaaallll mine..." Miranda sighed as her tongue made tiny swirls against Andrea's muscular stomach. She grinned as Andrea's long fingers threaded through her hair and subtly pushed her lower. She chuckled and felt the muscles under her hand ripple. "My my..." She looked up the length of Andrea's torso to meet large dark eyes, filled of need. "Is this all for me?"

Andy nodded, "All for you." She dropped back against the pillow. "Always for you."

"Mmmm..." Miranda kissed the small patch of glistening curls. "I like that."

"Do you?"

"Mmmm... yes." Miranda dropped another lingering kiss against Andrea's smooth thigh. "Always."

"It will be." Raising her head, Andy looked down the length of her body to meet Miranda blue eyes looking back. "Always, won't it?"

"Yes, Andrea." Miranda smiled. "Always." She shifted slightly as Andrea did and exhaled softly as the younger woman opened herself, giving herself over with a sliding of legs and a whimper of need.

"Miranda..." Andrea's dark eyes were huge with desire as she pleaded, "I need you."

"You have me." Miranda lowered her head and hummed against the slickness she found. "I love you, my Andrea."

It did not take long before Andrea began to tremble violently. Miranda merely continued her adoration until Andrea nearly sat up in the bed before falling back to her pillow, moaning.

"Miranda... "

Gradually slowing her exploration to a stop, Miranda moved to hold Andrea in one of their normal and most comfortable positions with Andrea nestled in her arms, the dark tousled hair spilling across her chest and shoulder. She sighed and admitted, "I love this."

"Mmmm..." Andy snuggled closer. "Me, too."

Closing their eyes, they both drifted off, safe in the knowledge that the other woman was there, and not going anywhere.

Andy again woke to the sensation of being watched. Opening one eye she smiled at the woman staring at her, "Is this something I'm going to have to get used to?" She grinned and explained, "Waking up to find you watching me..."

Miranda's laugh sounded more self-depreciating than than anything else and Andy felt Miranda's soft fingers brush the sleep disheveled hair from her face. The woman's words were as gentle as the caress on her cheek. "You'll have to forgive me, Darling. I have no experience with this..."

"Miranda," Andy lowered her eyes, suddenly feeling the difference in their lives, her youth, Miranda's experience. "You've been married before."

"Not like this."

She moved with the pressure of Miranda's finger under her chin, her dark eyes meeting Miranda's. The older woman continued speaking. "Nothing in my life has prepared me for this... feeling of..." she shook her head. "I wish I had the words."

Smiling at that, Andy moved forward. "You don't need them, not with me." Capturing Miranda's lips with her own, Andy conveyed all that she was feeling to her wife in a single action. "You see... I already know." She sighed and resumed their usual sleeping position, wrapping herself around Miranda's body, resting her head on Miranda's shoulder.

"There is still a lot we must learn about each other." Miranda pressed her cheek against Andrea's forehead and although Andrea couldn't see it, a gleam of mischief appeared in Miranda's eyes. "For example, did you know that, as of today, there is a...new... editor-in-chief at Runway?"

"What?!" Andy pulled away from the embrace they'd been so comfortable in. "What are you talking about? What happened? Did Irv..."

"Shhhh..." Miranda smiled, "Calm yourself. Irving did nothing." She grinned, "I... requested it." Gesturing to the nightstand, Miranda instructed, "See for yourself."

Pulling open the small drawer, Andy retrieved the magazine there. She turned to the masthead and gasped. Her expression softened as she read the credits. Next to the title, Editor-in-Chief, was the name of the new person in charge printed in bold letters, Miranda Priestly-Sachs. Andy set the magazine aside and snuggled with Miranda again. "You didn't have to do that." She had fully expected Miranda to continue using the name she was known for. Professionally it made sense and Miranda had never changed her name when she'd married James or Stephen. The response surprised her.

"Yes, I did." Miranda sighed, "You've changed me, for the better I might add. My name reflects that change."

"I didn't change you, Miranda." Andy kissed the shoulder under her cheek then settled back down. "I only let you be, you. The real you."

"Most people find that concept, terrifying."

"True." Chuckling, Andy murmured, "But then you once made an entire magazine of women look like me and I confronted you about that, so... I guess it would take a lot to terrify me."


Andy would never forget that time in her life, when everything had been so confusing. But, confusing or not, one thing had been clearly and completely obvious, to her. Her place was with Miranda. Anything else just wouldn't do. "On the walk to Elias-Clark I saw hundreds of brunettes that looked like me."

Miranda protested, "None of them were as beautiful as you."

Smiling softly at the sincerity in Miranda's voice, Andy sighed. "They all wanted to be like me."

"And now?" Miranda sounded curious as to what her bride was thinking.

"Now, I'm sure we're both the envy of people far and wide."

"Hardly likely," Miranda scoffed. "I doubt anyone would want to deal with me on a daily basis. Even those well compensated often don't enjoy the experience."

"Don't be ridiculous, Miranda." Andy took a deep breath and snuggled in, closing her eyes as she drifted off again, safe in her wife's arms.

"Everyone wants to be us."

The End

A/N – Thank you to everyone who has taken this ride with me. I hope you all had as much fun as I did on the trip. :)

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