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.
Mommy saw Andy kissing Santa Claus
and now his days are numbered
"I hope it snows on Christmas Eve!" Andy grinned as she pressed her nose to the glass window. The icy texture tickled her skin and her breath clouded around the print she'd left behind. Down in the street below, the muddy snow slushed on the sidewalks, blackened at the edge of the road where the cars had splashed oil and dirt upon it.
It was a cold afternoon in New York, and there were five more shopping days before Christmas.
Behind her, Miranda sat in one of the sitting room chairs with the Book spread across her thighs, flicking back and forth between two pages as she studied their contents.
Andy's shoulders rounded in response and she turned her back on the wintry scene behind the window pane, studying the editor from across the room. Miranda's silver hair kissed the rim of her glasses, perched midway down her nose as she studied an obvious flaw in one of the layouts.
Andy let out an audible sigh that didn't seem to disturb Miranda from her work. Finally, she crossed her arms over her chest. "Maybe, you might try to act like your interested?"
Miranda looked up over the rim of her glasses, her lips still pursed together in distaste over the Book. Andy tilted her chin up in defiance, meeting Miranda's glare with a schooled one of her own.
With an irritated sigh, Miranda closed the book, her fingers remaining wedged between its pages. The corners of her smooth lips tilted up in a plastered smile, her eyes set with mocking-sincerity. Her entire expression was sickeningly sweet and far from genuine. "By all means... let us put the world on hold..."
"It's Christmas Miranda! Can't you ease up on the work load a little bit?" Andy asked, tilting her head to the side as a gathering of silken tresses slipped over one shoulder. She'd been extremely patient with the editor over the rest of the year that they had been together, understanding of course that there were two sides to the woman - the professional side and the personal side. All three of Miranda's ex-husbands had failed to see that, to have one, you must fully accept the other. This wasn't merely a minor detail, it was detrimental to success and Andy had been completely patient with the professional Miranda, who missed dinners and spent her work week evenings huddled over the Book.
But it was the holidays, her favorite holiday, and Andy's patience was finally growing thin.
Miranda's lips pursed tighter together and she leaned backwards in the chair, sighing as she stretched her neck to the side. "It is not Christmas, Andrea. Perhaps you might wish to cross-reference it on the Calendar. On December 25th it will be Christmas. Why everyone feels the need to celebrate a holiday that has not yet happened, is beyond me."
"Thanks for the information... it is much appreciated." Andy snapped back, but regretted it immediately. She realized that their simple exchange of dialogue was quickly becoming yet another argument she was unwilling to have. Her fingers stretched up to her neck and she kneaded the tight muscles. Relaxing her expression, Andy softened the tones in her voice to match. "I'm sorry...I just think... we should start getting ready. I mean, with it being only five days away, I thought we could maybe... go shopping... for the girls."
Miranda regarded Andy, visibly relaxing her own muscles at the less heated exchange. "The girls have already sent me their lists and I will be going over them before forwarding them on to Clarissa."
Andy huffed in indignation. Clarissa was the nanny. "But... Miranda, I was hoping, we could do the shopping... together."
Miranda listened, though her facial expression barely changed. "Andrea... we have staff for a reason. This is their job."
"But that's half the fun! I want to do it! I thought you would too! You know, you don't have to get them everything or even anything off of their lists. When you go shopping yourself, you see little things that suit the person that they weren't expecting. I'm sure the twins would love to get some surprises..." Andy walked closer to Miranda and took a seat across from her, folding her legs over one another. She saw Miranda's eye-line lower towards her thighs and then resettle on her face.
"They spend a great deal of time gathering together their lists and they will receive what is on them. There is little point in choosing items for them that will end up being tossed aside once they've opened them." Miranda poignantly regarded Andy over the ridge of her glasses before lifting her finger, still resting between pages of the book, and flicking it back open.
Andy got to her feet and shook her head in mild frustration. "Fine, don't come with me. But I am going to do my own Christmas shopping for them... and I get to choose what it is I get them."
"Don't be ridiculous, Andrea. I assure you, you're wasting your time."
"Oh it won't be wasted. I will have a wonderful time. And I'll be taking a friend along." Andy smiled and tilted her chin upwards. Miranda's brow rose in question. She'd certainly heard that part.
"Friend?" She asked, drawing her eyes up to Andy's in full attention.
Andy's smile was genuine when she picked up a slight bit of jealousy from Miranda. "Yes...friend, I do still have them... like it makes any difference to you. Now... get back to work, I would like to at least have you free to put up Christmas decorations with me and the girls tomorrow." She leaned forward and placed a kiss on the top of Miranda's elegant silver hair and wasn't surprised to see the Editor first tilt her head towards the kiss before running her fingertips through the strands to resettle the shifted hairstyle.
Although the editor didn't speak again, returning her attention to the Book spread across her lap, Andy smiled softly at the absence of a protest. She'd definitely be looking forward to tomorrow.
It was 9:59pm on December 21st and Miranda Priestly was in her office staring at twin monitors. The 32 inch display was plastered with a very intricate cover photograph that had just arrived from the art department and the 24 inch display showcased a word document with three sentences typed into it. The dark cursor caught her eye and she glared at it defiantly. Unfortunately, it didn't spring to life and spit out any words for her, so she resented its existence.
Her blackberry vibrated on the desk next to her and she flicked her eyes in its direction. She knew instantly who it would be and she contemplated leaving it go unanswered. It was so much easier than having to explain herself. She looked away until the vibrating stopped and she tried another sentence. It felt brilliant as she was writing it but when she glanced over it a second time, she was fairly certain only three words of the complicated string were even real.
The phone vibrated again. She looked at the monitor's time display and noticed it was now 10:02pm. Her fingers found the thin flesh at the small bump in her nose and she massaged it. Leaning forward, she lifted the blackberry to her ear and answered. "What?"
"You've always had such a way with words." The voice penetrated the phone's internal wiring and dictated in her ear.
She softened her own tones, realizing how abrupt she had sounded. "I won't be home until later. The editor's address is taking far longer than I had anticipated."
"Why am I not surprised?" Andrea asked, and Miranda could hear the irritation in her lover's voice. "You've missed almost the whole night of decorating. The girls are heading to bed soon and they wanted to show you the tree themselves and I mean... how long is it going to take? Put it away and finish it tom--"
"Andrea..." Miranda warned.
There was a long drawn out sigh on the other end of the phone. When the voice returned, it was gentler. "Just... get home as soon as you can."
The editor had clapped her cell phone shut before she'd thought about an appropriate goodbye and her face scrunched in a flash of regret. The phone landed on the desk and skidded across the glass surface in loud clang before it collided with a stack of magazines. Turning her blue eyes towards her monitor, she attempted to re-focus on the task at hand. Unfortunately, no matter how hard she tried, her efforts were useless.
They had been strained lately.
In January they would be celebrating their first year as a couple. A whole year had passed, and it had been absolutely wonderful. From the very beginning of their romance, Miranda had been sure to take Andrea out in public on her arm. The papers had been surprisingly kind and Andrea had dealt with the media well, considering their pictures had been plastered across magazines internationally. They had predicted that it would be a lasting relationship this time for the fashion maven once nicknamed 'The Serial Bride'. The press had formed the opinion that she had been in denial about her sexuality before Andrea had come along and now she was finally being truthful to herself. A mid-life revelation.
Miranda rolled her eyes at the thought. She hadn't been a labelled lesbian before she'd met Andrea. She's appreciated the female figure before, naturally - it was her job. But she had never imaged touching those figures, or experiencing them in any way that couldn't be done in the entrance way of Elias-Clarke. With Andrea, it hadn't been the gender she'd fallen for. She'd fallen in love with the person. Everything about Andrea had drawn her in, coaxed her, seduced her into relenting. She had realized that what she had called 'love' before had only been passing admiration. She hadn't loved her first husband, the father of her children. She hadn't loved the second or even the third. She had settled because they worshiped her.
But Andrea, who had walked out of her life at one of the most important moments of her career, had captured her. Her love for Andrea had been against every fibre in her being, and yet, when the girl had showed up at her door... after a month of nothing, with a bottle of red wine and two glasses, she'd not gone with her first reaction. She'd not slammed the door on her ungrateful ex-assistant. She'd not even displayed the pretence of anger, to make the younger woman feel guilty for her actions. Instead, she had welcomed Andrea into her home, they'd enjoyed the wine and after a second bottle from her own personal cellar, they had spent the night enjoying one another.
But eventually as it often did, the fantasy of new love had faded and the demands on 'Miranda Priestly: Editor in Chief' had returned. The time to spend simply enjoying each other's company had become a commodity that neither seemed to be able afford. They had moved in together at their six month mark, in hopes that they would at least be able to see each other between appointments, school functions, social events and their respective day to day careers. It had worked for the first little while, but once Paris fashion week hit and then London fashion week, Miranda found herself spending very little time at home.
In the evenings she would come home to an dark townhouse, climb the silent stairs and crawl into bed sometime after midnight. Andrea never failed to snuggle into her and they did enjoy that small comfort they could share, even if it was brief and when either one, or both were half asleep.
Her fingers left the plastic blocks on her keyboard and massaged over the soft skin at her forehead.
Was it all coming to an end? Didn't it all have to end eventually?
No matter how possible it all seemed, it never failed to disappoint in the end.
When Miranda arrived at the townhouse that evening, the lights were mostly off except for a gentle glow of color emanating from the living room down the hall. She dropped her Prada bag on the entrance table and shrugged out of her blood red, fitted mink coat.
She smiled as she caught a glimpse of the color, remembering that she'd had it made just after the PETA incident with the red paint that had been clumsily aimed in her direction and had missed her form entirely, splattering instead upon the pavement just outside of Elias-Clarke. She'd strode by a second picket line several weeks later, photographed wearing the eye-catching coat, and had ended up on the cover of several magazines... the photo a proverbial 'fuck you' to the organization so hell-bent on destroying her.
The coat was easily displaced to a wooden hanger in the closet, which she closed behind her before running her hands through her silver hair. It had been a long day.
When hadn't it been a long day?
But this day was much longer than usual, and weighted down by the added fact that she had let Andrea down, yet again.
She had disappointed the woman she loved and her little girls that were quickly learning the meaning of priorities. Her greatest fear was them following in her footsteps. Trading personal experiences for professional ones and learning all too late in life what a mistake that was. Caroline was shadowing her mother quite a bit more than Cassidy, as she'd begun shooing people from her room with waving fingertips and an uninterested, "That's all".
Miranda had once berated Emily for her failure to deliver the book, only to find it upstairs in Caroline's bed, splayed across her sleeping chest with her mother's Gucci glasses perched askew on her nose.
Presently, said child was sleeping curled against her twin on the couch, resting foot to foot with Andy who had fallen asleep in a fetal position with one impossibly soft looking wrist, dangling off the cushion. Miranda's lips curved upwards at the scene and she leaned against the door frame, crossing her arms delicately across her chest as she studied her sleeping family.
A pain clenched at her heart and the smile faltered when she remembered that this wasn't meant to last. As wonderful as it was, as beautiful as it was... it could never last. Her moniker, her title of Snow Queen, had not been given to her lightly. She had earned every single bit of horrid imagery that the name conjured. Every relationship she had had was self-serving.
Her first husband she had married for his genes. She had selected him to be the father of her children based on his appearance in combination with both his personality and his skill set. She'd wanted her children to have red hair, it had been orchestrated from the very beginning. Mark had blond hair which was in fact a recessive gene, so the odds of gaining her red headed children (coupled with her own gene) were 50/50. Had she chosen a father with dark hair, she'd have lessened her chances by 25 percent.
Her first marriage had been a law of averages. Divorce rates were at 68 percent for marriages 15 years and below the year the children were born. She'd been sure to prove the statistic right before it could surprise her and ended her marriage when the girls reached their first birthday.
Then husband number two had come along. He was one of the highest paid lawyers in New York and considered by the larger half of the duelling business world, to be the best. He was handsome, wealthy, self-sufficient and incredibly infatuated with her. When her position as Editor had been questioned the first time, she'd finally stopped protesting his advances and had wed him under the agreement that he would acquire her an extended ten year contract, with shares in the company and extensive protection for her contract renewal. He'd also managed to pad the deal with a hefty salary raise, putting her at the top of the list of highest paid editors, internationally.
Stephen was husband number three. Purpose: Father figure. He was five years her senior, athletic and one of the top ranking men on Wallstreet. He'd wined her, dined her and she'd rewarded him with a place in her bed and a marriage contract signed too quickly.
She'd caught him with the girl's nanny in their bed one night, three months after he'd moved in and she had spent the following three years, driving him to substance abuse a fact that she could still smile about today.
All of her relationships had had their uses, but she'd failed to shed many tears for their eventual demises. They'd had their respective roles to play in her life and when those roles and tasks associated with them were completed, they were easily shuffled off to make room for the next. The tears she had betrayed her in front of Andrea in that hotel suite in Paris, had not been for the loss of a husband. They'd been for the disappointment of having to start the task again, to secure a family not for herself, but for her girls.
And then Andrea had both abandoned her and returned to her life within the span of a year, only to set about changing all of her preconceived notions about her relationship criteria. So many things had differed about this particular choice, that the fact that Andrea was a woman had been the least of those variances. She'd been hopelessly trusting, incredibly kind and dedicated to her in a way she hadn't experienced before. Andrea had been loving to the children, genuinely the same with her and had never seemed to mind when she had to work late or skip days off in favour of a day huddled over the latest edition in her home office.
But in the past few weeks, Andrea's understanding nature had grown weary. She'd begun to show her frustration at her workload, their schedules never seeming to leave any time for one another. Andrea's frustrations were not hers alone and were in no way understandable, but it had been the butterfly effect to her current realization.
The realization that when it was all over, Andrea would indeed, as she had predicted, become her biggest disappointment.
One of the bodies on the couch stirred, causing Miranda's gaze to shift towards it, her internal reflections disintegrating in favour of the present. It was the older of the three that had awoken, rubbing her eyelashes to clear her blurry vision. When the brunette's gaze found hers and a small smile graced her lips, Miranda couldn't help but smile softly in return.
Andrea slowly unfolded herself from the girls and stood, crossing the room towards Miranda. When she arrived next to her, she trailed her fingertips down the woman's crossed arms, uncrossing them before capturing one of the well manicured hands in her own. Miranda's smile lingered in her eyes longer than it did upon her lips. "Good evening." She drawled softly, lifting her free hand to smooth it down an errant strand at the brunette's forehead.
"Hi..." Andy smiled, leaning forward to touch her lips to Miranda's in the softest of kisses.
When they pulled away, Andy moved to Miranda's side and motioned to the tree with her free hand. "How do you like it?"
It was a beautiful tree, stretching towards the vaulted ceiling with strings of white lights cascading over its branches in even rows. The decorations were familiar, a collection of Christmas gifts from various designers who had made mini versions of their wares to hang as ornaments. She smiled at the red Prada pump and remembered the year instantly, 2001. A small Hermes scarf was tied in a bow around another branch with a tiny Blahnik Manolo open-toe heel aligned an inch away.
There were decorations by Chanel, Anna Sui, Yves St. Laurent, Dolce & Gabanna, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Valentino, all designed specifically for her. During the years when a husband-of-the-minute, would storm out on her at the particular busy time of year, she would be contented left alone while gazing at the small trophies of her success, dangling from the evergreen boughs.
"It's beautiful." Miranda smiled again and her eyes moved towards Andy. Andy didn't need an apology. She never needed an apology. There was a silent understanding between them. An understanding that Miranda wouldn't apologize and Andy wouldn't ask for it. They would just know the sincerity in one another and would make a silent, mostly-unkeepable promise to try harder next time.
Andy split her index and middle finger apart, pointing them towards the girls asleep on the couch. "They did a really great job. You should have seen them Mira..." Andy trailed off, not wanting to pile any more guilt onto the laden editor's shoulders. Instead she shook her head and smiled. "So... the twenty third, don't forget the Christmas party for the Mirror. Mark is practically beside himself that you're going to be there... he's having a sort of fan-girl moment..."
Miranda winced slightly and Andy knew right away why. "No... Miranda... Come on. I asked you to come to this a month ago! You said you'd free up your schedule..."
Miranda nodded her head and looked from Andy, back towards the tree. "I didn't intend on being this far behind. Which is in no small part due to my being forced to endure a body of staff who are consumed by their own thoughts of holiday schedules that they can't seem to bring themselves to coordinate the simplest of tasks. I have already fired one, but I can't afford to lose anymore until I have this issue put to bed. Once it is complete, the unemployment lines will be flooded with Runway castoffs..."
Andy's sigh interrupted the Editor, and her blue eyes turned towards the darkened ones beside her. "Mira... this meant a lot to me. I told everyone you were coming and now they're going to think..."
"Tell me Andrea..." Miranda interrupted, turning to face Andy, her eyes flashing with warning. "What are they going to think?"
Andy's immunity to Miranda's ice-cold glare was in full effect and she narrowed her own. The retort was just on the tip of her tongue and she knew it would lead to another night of sleeping apart, but the disappointment clouded her judgment and she couldn't hold it back.
Just as her lips parted, there was a shuffle behind them from the couch and then a small voice. "Mommy! You're home!"
Miranda and Andy's eyes remained locked together in a battle of dominance for a split second before the animosity faded only to be replaced with tenderness as they both looked at the awakened twins.
Miranda altered her voice to the mildly excited, childish tones her girls loved hearing. "I am Bubsie! And what a marvellous job you both did at decorating. I'm sure Martha will be very proud when I tell her."
Behind Miranda, Andy's brow rose. Martha Stewart? They'd been together for almost a year and it never ceased to amaze her how Miranda knew so many famous people, yet seldom name-dropped. This small reassurance seemed to delight both Caroline and the still-seated Cassidy whose lips tilted upwards in a grin.
Caroline turned towards Andy and wrapped her arms around the brunette's waist, hugging her tightly and nuzzling her nose into the fabric of her sweater. "Andy helped! She even lifted Cassidy, all by herself to put the star on. It was so cool!"
Miranda's shapely brows lifted towards her hairline as she regarded her partner, an impressed and curious expression passing through her eyes. Andy smiled back.
"Alright my darlings... off to bed with you. School tomorrow." Miranda smiled softly, stretching her fingers out to stroke the red head closest to her. Both twins acted as an instant mirror of one another, their faces contorting with a myriad of possible protests. "But... we don't go to school tomorrow. We're on vacation now..."
Miranda barely flinched at her own forgetfulness, but her commanding stare was determined. The girls saw their mother's signature warning and slumped their shoulders in defeat, pouting as they drew nearer to first her, then Andy for a kiss on the cheek and a hug before dragging themselves rather dramatically up the stairs.
Miranda watched them go before turning back towards Andy and stepping closer until she could take both of the younger woman's hands in her own. Andy smiled warmly, her eyes sparkling in the bright Christmas lights. Miranda watched as an idea seemed to spring to life, flashing through the large brown pools as Andy let go of her hand and crossed to the large double doors leading into the living room. She pulled them closed until she heard the gentle click before turning around and brushing by Miranda, capturing her hand again in the process. Miranda felt herself tugged softly along as Andy led them towards the Christmas tree. Her fingers slipped away then and the brunette lowered herself to the ground and laid back underneath the tree so her head rested on the soft cushioned skirt surrounding it.
Miranda peered down at Andy, making no move to follow her as she watched her partner's head disappear beneath the large spruce.
"Alright, Andrea... I give up. What on earth are you doing?" she asked finally, her voice laced with its usual benevolent tone but mixed with a new-found lilt of curiosity.
"It's beautiful Miranda. Didn't you ever do this as a kid? Come, lay under here with me..." Andy's hands lifted from beneath the branches in a backwards sweeping motion while her disembodied voice continued "And don't you dare say no..."
Knowing she had just been regretting her abrupt manner with Andrea over the past several months, she felt it only fair that she indulge the younger woman's wishes at some point. And even as ridiculous as she would feel crawling under a Christmas tree, she could at least be assured to do something remotely 'right' for once.
She lowered herself to her knees, not even bothering to slip out of her heels as she manoeuvred herself beneath the lower branches. She shifted so she was shoulder to shoulder with Andy, tilting her head towards the brunette before peering curiously up at the lights shining from the sweeping bows of green. Her lips parted and she held her breath as she saw the occasional light dim and return, casting a soft glow on the ornaments around it. It was beautiful, and although she would never tell Andy, she had not in fact ever had a Christmas tree as a child - let alone lay beneath one.
Andy smiled and nuzzled closer to her, shifting instead to rest on her side as her hair caught on some of the particularly low branches. Miranda's lips tilted up in a small smile as she watched Andy and felt her lips part instinctively as the younger woman closed the distance between them, touching her soft lips to Miranda's mouth.
It started off simple and polite enough, as chaste a kiss as Andy would give Miranda out on the street or at a public event. But the small amount of passion that flickered between them seemed to have been spiralling out of control without either of them noticing. They hadn't had any time to have been intimate in what felt like months and as Miranda actually thought back, she could not quite pin down how long it had actually been. That was generally a very bad sign, and the small amount of tension and the soft gesture in close proximity sent their kiss deepening as their mouths opened and their tongues slid forward in battle.
The fevered passion seemed to blossom, hurrying Andy's hand down Miranda's blouse to cup one of her breasts, squeezing the perfectly shaped mound in her hand. When it elicited a small gasp, Andy's smile spread against Miranda's lips and her hand moved lower, fumbling with buttons in a frantic attempt to gain access to the heat emanating from Miranda's trousers. Her hand slipped quickly inside, her fingertips weaving beneath the lace panties until they found their destination.
The long, slender digits dipped between the silken folds and pressed down on Miranda's sensitivity in a succession of small, firm circles. The older woman's cheeks flushed as her breaths stopped coming evenly. She could feel the tension building within her and the release felt like something she didn't just crave or desired, but something she needed desperately.
Spurred on by the lengthy period of going without, Miranda could feel herself climbing the dangerous slope to a quick climax, her hips moving in rhythm with Andrea's skilful digits.
"Are you close?" Andy's husky voice as low with passion, her eyes so dark that the iris was indistinguishable from the pupil.
"Mmm.." came Miranda's stifled moan as she writhed beneath Andy's touch, her tongue slipping over her lips as it glided outside of her mouth. Her eyes squeezed shut, her breath breaking past her lips unevenly.
"Are you ready?" Andy asked, her fingers circling in a larger pattern, stroking her sensitivity in luxuriously consistent spheres.
Miranda's tight lipped whimper was enough to answer the question and Andy shifted so that her lips were impossibly close to Miranda's ear, her breath hot against the sensitive lobe. "Open your eyes."
Miranda did as asked just as she slipped over the peak into blissful oblivion. The beautiful lights above seeming to glow a million times brighter as they came in and out of focus. Glittering decorations reflected the arcs of light, shimmering across Miranda's flushed skin as her lips gave way for a concupiscent sound of ecstasy. Thick bows of green parted and the heavenly glow of silver and gold from the star engulfed Miranda in a cylinder of light.
Andy's fingers lingered between Miranda's thighs until the pulsating of her unbridled climax slowed to a stop. The brunette placed a soft kiss to Miranda's temple and smiled down at her while the editor made the slow fall back to earth.
Her eyes closed blearily to refocus but opened again as she tilted her chin towards Andy. A languid smile eased across her lips and her blue irises flickered as she stared into Andy's impossibly dark eyes.
"I'm s..." Miranda started but Andy silenced her with fingers still moist from Miranda's passionate release.
"I know." Andy whispered, pulling Miranda towards her, swallowing her in a firm embrace. The pair laid twined together beneath the bows of the beautiful Priestly Christmas tree until Miranda nudged her beautiful lover and coaxed her up towards their bedroom where she kissed her goodnight.
Then, as routine would have it, the editor stowed way to her office and spread open the Book, lifting the stack of post-it notes and red highlighter into her hands - an unfortunate end to an almost perfect evening.
The following evening, as soon as her key turned in the lock of her townhouse, Miranda was greeted with the blaring sounds of a stereo system at an obnoxiously loud level.
You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear
Voices singing 'Let's be Jolly!',
'Deck the halls with boughs of holly!'
Miranda cringed as she shrugged out of her coat and dropped her coach bag upon the table. She was disappointed that the roughness of her action didn't even earn her a sound of familiarity as the singer wailed on, the whole house filled to its every corner with a symphony of saccharine. Her heels clicked angrily against the floorboards as she moved towards the source of the noise, her jaw clenching as the sounds grew louder, the merry caroller apparently accompanied by a less than classically trained vocalist.
When she stepped into the doorway of the large kitchen at the end of the hall, she was greeted by the very source she was seeking. It was Andy, her face and hands plastered with smears of white flour, her full lips parted as she sang along with the music. The twins sat at either end of the counter, chorusing together in a hearty attempt at harmony, their own faces and hands matching the brunettes.
Miranda's eyes moved over the counters and the island of her beautiful, designer kitchen and was amazed not to find a single clean space in the whole area. The counters were caked in flour decorated with mixing bowls - half emptied, with some of their contents spilling over the outside edges. There were cookie sheets lining the table in the corner, row after row of decorated sugary confection making her stomach turn at the sight.
The girls were squeezing triangular plastic bags of brightly coloured icing out onto the plain stacks of cookies, resisting the urge, she could tell, to lift the tips to their mouths and decorate their tongue instead.
Rockin' around the Christmas tree,
Have a happy Holiday!
Everyone dancing merrily in the new old fashioned --
The music came to an abrupt halt, causing all three 'bakers' to jump, turning towards the speakers. Miranda stood next to them holding the iPod in her hand that she had plucked from the cradle.
Andy's brow, furrowed initially in concern, had relaxed and a smile spread across her lips.
"Brenda Lee, Andrea? Really?" Miranda asked, holding up the lit iPod screen, just beside her head.
Andy giggled and crossed towards Miranda, who evaded a hug in favour of keeping her designer clothes, confectionery free. The small move didn't faze Andy who just chuckled and shook her head, "You're home early!"
The brunette couldn't keep the excitement out of her voice as she turned to look at the twins, who were beaming at their mother.
"Are you going to help us mommy?"
Miranda's smallest finger traced her neatly groomed brow as she took another look at the kitchen before resettling her focus on her daughters. "I'm afraid not Mucci," she used her daughter's pet name to gain some points before the eventual admission that would take the smiles away from those loving, patient faces. "Mommy was only able to come home early if she promised to finish her work."
The faces fell. Miranda continued, "But you both are doing such a marvelous job...baking those--" Her well-manicured handmade small circles in the air.
"Christmas cookies for the homeless shelter." Andy finished for Miranda, her tone not at all reflecting any disappointment in the fact that Miranda had forgotten about it, even though she had specifically told her several times that week alone.
"Ah yes. Well, continue... as you were." Miranda smiled softly. She paused just in the doorway before remembering the iPod in her hand. Her eyes scanned the display and her thumb pressed across the touch screen. Then she set it back into the cradle and flicked her fingers at it "You may play that, at a reasonable level." She warned, though her tone was still light as she looked to Andy who was doing a very good job at pretending to be okay with the repeating pattern of Miranda's absenteeism.
Miranda bent over gently and touched the warmth of one finger to the play button and vacated the kitchen. The song that broke through on the speakers caused all three jaws to drop slightly followed by a wave of feminine laughter.
You're a mean one, Mr Grinch...
Miranda smiled to herself as she continued down the hall, turning towards the stairs and beginning her ascent.
At precisely ten o'clock in the evening, Miranda made her way back down the townhouse stairs, gathering the Book from the entrance way table before making her way towards the home theatre room. Andy had told her that she and the girls would be watching a movie that night, so she thought it only best she make a valiant effort to at least be present in the same room with them, regardless of the unnecessary distraction that the television caused.
When the girls were younger, missing seasonal moments and events greatly affected the twins. They would pout, cry, and fuss... all the things that Miranda despised in other children, but had learn to expect from her own. She, of course, was the source of their distress, so even the smallest bit of guilt made her extremely lenient. But now as the twins were getting older, she had noticed that they had changed. When she had to cancel plans there were no jutting lower lips, dry cheeks and often, barely the bat of an eye. It disturbed her far more than she let on.
Truth be told, Miranda hadn't just been lenient with her children when it came to their disappointed behaviour. Instead, it filled her with a strong sense of motherly pride knowing that her girls actually missed their time together. Now, thanks to her erratic schedule, the children still loved their mother but had grown to never count on her. She was a fleeting presence, something to be appreciated but never needed.
The muscles tightened around her heart a she thought about it, so she flipped to the first page of the book as she walked, scanning it for distraction. When she arrived at the theatre room, she lifted her reading glasses from the bridge of her nose and stepped inside. It was dark, the silent projector on the back wall casting a mirage of color and moving pictures on the large white screen. Andy looked up when she heard the door and smiled at Miranda, patting the spot next to her on the couch. The girls were asleep beside her, nuzzled into one another, leaving the leather cushion to her left completely vacant.
Miranda smiled and stroked her palm across the girl's foreheads as she passed by before settling down into the folds of the couch, lifting one leg and crossing it elegantly over the other. The Book balanced on one knee quite capably and Miranda felt Andy's arm slide between her back and the soft leather cushion, stroking her hip through the material of her skirt.
"You haven't missed much. The girls were so exhausted; they fell asleep almost before the opening credits were done." Andy whispered, reaching her other hand forward to smooth across the lock of silver at Miranda's forehead. The editor nodded gently and stole a second glance at the slumbering redheads.
"And what's this about?" Miranda asked, her brows tilting in question as her eyes left the brunette's and shifted towards the screen.
"Well, those two... they just got stranded in a cabin together because of a winter storm. They didn't know each other before, but she had offered him a ride home when he couldn't get a taxi." Andy's fingers danced along Miranda's hip and she felt her lashes fluttering in approval. She nodded and placed her glasses back on the bridge of her nose, turning her glance towards the Book to keep her mind from the thoughts she was having. Thoughts that were too inappropriate to be having when in the presence of her children - sleeping or not.
When Miranda closed the Book and set it on the arm of the couch, Andy's lashes were moist with tears as she stared at the screen. For a moment, Miranda wondered if Andy's anguish had been at her own cause, until she followed the brunette's gaze and noticed a similar expression on one of the actor's faces. Miranda had missed most of the movie, despite her skillful ability to not skip a beat, even when knee-deep in work.
She slid her own arm around Andy's waist and pulled the attractive younger woman towards her, settling back against the cushion, her hand sneaking just beneath the material of Andy's pajama top.
"They are just... so perfect together." Andy sniffled, embarrassingly wiping at her wet cheeks with her fleece pajama sleeves.
Miranda's brow arched delicately and a small smile graced her lips. "Rather like another two individuals we know."
Andy's red rimmed eyes widened at the thoughtfulness and honesty in Miranda's words and she couldn't help but allow her own full lips to pull upwards in a gentle smile. "Yes... just like that." She grinned.
A few moments of silence fell between them as both turned their attention on the screen to the pair of older lovers, pressing together in a kiss as the camera panned backwards to the falling snow. The credits and music began and Miranda and Andy reclaimed their gazes on one another, Andy being the one to interrupt the silence.
"Do you think you'll be able to make it to the party tomorrow?"
Miranda's smile faded and she flicked her blue eyes towards the book and then moved them back towards Andy. When the editor didn't respond, Andy had her answer. She didn't grow visibly upset or disappointed however. Instead, the younger woman smiled and stroked her fingertips across Miranda's soft, white cheek. "It's okay. I had already figured you wouldn't be able to make it, so I invited someone else."
Miranda had begun to nod, though her chin stopped mid-dip when she heard the final words. Her lashes fluttered almost imperceptibly before her irises focused on her lover. "Oh?" She asked, tilting her head to the side in a gesture of only mild curiosity, despite the questions that burned within her, feeding the fire of jealousy.
Andy merely nodded her head, knowing full-well that Miranda wouldn't press on in hopes to keep the illusion of passivity alive. Miranda, in turn, squeezed Andy once more around the waist before rising to the platform of her Jimmy Choos and leaned over the twins, nudging them very softly. "Off to bed my darlings..." she whispered before looking to Andy, who joined her on her feet and crossed to help in the process of leading sleeping twins to their bedrooms.
Nothing more was discussed and Andy quenched her disappointment with another false smile. Miranda would 'try harder next time'.
When Miranda returned home the following evening, she was exhausted. Her hair and makeup were as impeccable as usual, betraying the frazzled nerves from another unproductive day at the office. The Yuletide had seemed to suck all intelligent thought out of Runway employees, and every single thing she asked for seemed to have challenged them to the very boundaries of their capabilities. She had redone three layouts herself and was only mildly happy with the cover story. It all needed work and the deadline was Christmas eve. She had one more day to clear up the mess, lest they send out garbage fit to be in a Marie Claire, but definitely not something of Runway's calibre.
As she set her purse down on the entranceway table and shrugged out of her coat yet again, she heard voices coming from the living room. She noticed the light was still on and couldn't help but steal a quickly glance at her gold wrist watch. It was 1:27am. She had expected Andy to have returned home from the Christmas party and to be in bed by that time, so she was surprised to hear the younger woman's infectious giggle, ringing out in the otherwise quiet hall.
If the twins were up, then Andy wasn't going to be receiving the nicest of welcomes. Andy had a way with the girls and often gave in to their requests, Miranda noticed, as a way of making up for her own absence in her daughter's lives. Whenever she missed a dinner or an event, Andy would let them stay up extra late, or watch movies that normally Miranda would not approve of. It wasn't in an attempt to be the 'good guy', Miranda realized and she never doubted Andy's sincerity in raising her children. But tonight of all nights, Miranda wanted to ascend the stairs and go to bed, not start an argument about appropriate sleeping hours for young ladies.
Miranda slipped out of her heels at the door and padded down the hall, grateful for the feeling of cool hardwood floors beneath her stocking clad toes. Normally the three and four inch heels she were acted as merely an extension to her leg, but when she was as tired as she was - everything seemed to bother her, and her cherished shoes were no exception.
She moved silently along the floors until she reached the living room, where she merely peeked her head around the corner, prepared to send her orders out and head upstairs. She stopped dead in her tracks at what she saw.
Andy was standing in her floor length red Versace dress. Incidentally it was one of Miranda's favourites, by the way it clung to her curves and flattered her gorgeous breasts in just the right way. But it wasn't the dress that stopped her. It was the sight of a man, dressed as Santa Claus, standing before her with his glass raised to touch hers.
Andy giggled again and clinked their glasses together before lifting the glass to her lips for an indulgent sip. Santa Claus did the same before holding a sprig of green over Andy's head, bouncing it up and down in a playful gesture.
Miranda's eyes widened and she ducked backwards, leaning her head against the wall in an attempt to remember to breathe. When she finally did, she found the courage to spy again, however this time she left only enough room to allow one of her eyes to overlap the doorframe.
Unfortunately it was just at that moment that Santa leaned forward and pressed his lips to Andy, who laughed against the lips and returned the kiss.
Miranda saw red, and it wasn't because of Santa's suit.
She backed away from the door, unable to watch anymore. The feeling of holidays past seemed to flood her mind and she remembered her other adulterous husband and the way she had caught him with their nanny. Her legs carried her swiftly and silently up the stairs, her eyes stinging as her small little nest began to crumble around her. Even as she ascended she felt she was falling, uncontrollably towards her doom, with no hope of retrieval. She was losing Andy... the one she had cared about. The only person besides her girls that she could actually say she loved.
But then, she'd known it would happen eventually. She'd reiterated that fact to herself a hundred times. But when the fact blossomed into reality, it seemed to wipe away all clear action plans. Instead, the Editor took stair by stair, her silver hair shifting with each movement and her vision blurring from stubborn tears, unwilling to remain unshed.
When Miranda felt the mattress dip beside her and the cool trace of fingertips sliding over her hips, she pretended to be asleep. She fought the urge to throw back the curtains and to battle it out. She fought the urge to lie to Andy, to tell her that she'd only been using her and that she didn't want to waste anymore time on her. It was of course an act of self-preservation. She wanted to bring the entire house of cards to a flattened mess, all with one graceful sweep of her hand.
Instead, Miranda laid perfectly still, staring straight ahead, her pillow moist beneath her cheek. She lay that way until she felt the fingertips tracing her skin, slow to a languid stop.
The next day, Miranda's mood was felt head on by the unprepared Runway Staff.
She'd gone on a tirade from the minute her Prada heel touched the marble floor of the lobby.
By 9:00am she'd made seething remarks over minuscule details, exiled five employees from the floor and had torn a strip off of a young model for wearing a coat from last season.
By 10:00am she'd taken a folder of photographs from the art department to the window, unhooked the latch and tossed the folder out, showering the photographs on the New York pedestrians below.
At 11:00am, Nigel arrived, called to do damage control by a nervous red-head who looked on the verge of mental breakdown. When he entered, she was tossing papers around her desk as she searched for one of Miranda's ridiculous demands for a paper she'd held last week.
"Looking for lost treasure?" Nigel asked, raising a brow as he stepped closer to Emily's desk.
Emily lifted her hand but not her gaze, as she continued riffling through the paper. "She is in a horrible mood. Roy warned me that she refused to wait in the car this morning in traffic, so she got out three blocks down and walked on foot!" Emily's eyes finally met his, her hands wildly waving a handful of papers in exasperation "On FOOT!. He ended up driving along beside her as she strode through the street, scaring off two Salvation Army Santas, and demanding that a third pack in his kettle and not set foot within a two block radi --"
"Emily..." Miranda's soft voice, penetrated the office, causing the British woman's speech to come to a crashing halt, the color draining from her face in the process. Her widened eyes flew to Nigel, who pressed his lips together in a slight look of amusement.
"No, no, no..." she mouthed before plastering on a strained smile that didn't quite reach her widened eyes, and heading into the office. "Yes Miranda?"
"I seem to recall telling you, fifteen minutes ago that I wanted those sketches from Danielle at noon. That leaves you..." The glacial editor turned her eyes to her watch before fixing the penetrating back on the trembling red-head. "Six minutes. I do hope for your sake Emily, that you won't dissapoint me yet again today."
Emily swallowed and nodded her head in succession, though she didn't move from her rooted spot until Miranda's signature "That's all." swept between them.
When Emily rushed off, as fast as her thin legs could carry her, Miranda settled her eyes on Nigel, who had been observing silently from the corner of the room.
"And how's Miss Scrooge today?" Nigel asked, the twinkle in his eye glittering with mirth. Nigel had a strange immunity to Miranda's wrath that all boiled down to a simple formula. He was smart, hard-working and career driven. He devoted his time to Runway, almost as much as she did and would never waver in his loyalties to her.
Today was no exception to the rule and Nigel was glad to see the corners of Miranda's lips, tug upwards just slightly.
"Now, are you going to tell me what's got you exiling Santa Clauses from the greater New York area, or will I have to guess?" He stepped closer, crossing his arms across his chest as she watched between the thick frames of his glasses.
Miranda sighed and lowered herself back into her chair, crossing one leg elegantly over the other. "It's as if I'm asking for the world to have people do their jobs correctly today." Her fingers prodded at the collar of her sweater, adjusting the way the line of fabric caressed her collarbone.
Nigel smiled "Mmmm. Well you know how the holiday saps get at this time of year. If I remember correctly, one of those saps takes up residence in your home and I don't believe it's either of your children."
Miranda's eyes shot up to Nigel and narrowed significantly. She didn't want to talk about Andrea, let alone having to deal with a straying mind of her own that seemed to continuously fall on the younger woman. "I'm sure I haven't any idea what you're talking about." It was vague enough, but in a tone so final that Nigel knew not to tread any further.
He tucked his fingers into his pocket and retrieved a black silk scarf, tossing it on to the desk in front of her. "Well please, if you ever do get an idea about said sap again, please give her this back and tell her that she is a horrible dancer." Miranda's eyes widened as they settled on the scarf. She didn't have to lift it to her nose to smell Andy's fragrant perfume, drifting up in the current of the air above it.
Nigel turned to leave but paused in the doorway. "...And not the greatest kisser either. I prefer a little facial hair."
He tucked his hands effortlessly in his pockets and disappeared out of the clear office doors.
Miranda's darkened blue irises floated in the whites of her eyes. She'd made a very big mistake.
When Emily delivered the sketches, precisely five minutes later, Miranda tucked them into a folder and shoved them underneath the daily mock-up of the Book. "I will make the necessary changes and have it sent to printing for first thing on the morning of the 26th. Call Donnatella, tell her that she can expect to see her interview in next month's edition. Then call George and Bergeron and move our business lunch for January 2nd. Inform Nigel that he makes the decisions next week and cancel all of my appointments."
"Miranda?" Emily asked, completely floored by what she thought she was hearing.
"I'm taking a vacation."
She talks to Andy on the phone and tells her to meet her outside with the girls because they are going to a charity function. Andy protests the no warning but reluctantly agrees cause at least it's Christmassy.
24th It's Christmas Eve. Miranda and Andy waiting outside of the townhouse as Miranda requested them ready to go. Make sure there's reference to Andy's disappointment that there's only a small amount of snow on the ground and that it's not snowing.
As the town car comes to a stop, the window rolls down and Miranda hucks snowballs out at them , pelting all three of their stunned faces. Snowball fight ensues. Andy and Girls vs Miranda.
Miranda and Andy sat on the couch in the sitting room while both girls lay asleep upstairs in Cassidy's bed. A fire crackled in the hearth, casting flickering lights over pair as the slow whine of a gentle saxophone filled the room.
Andy curled into Miranda and moved her glance towards the frosted glass window pane. A soft sigh escaped her lips at the stillness of the sky outside and she nuzzled tighter into Miranda's side.
Despite her audible disappointment at the lack of snow, Andy's lips were stuck in a permanent smile that extended ear to ear. "This is more than I could ever have asked for. To be here, with you on Christmas eve."
Miranda smiled as well, and slid her fingertips over Andy's jaw, taking her chin lightly between her thumb and her softly cupped fingers. Andy's gaze met hers and their eyes flickered briefly back and forth, basking in the way the fire lit both of their intensely locked eyes. Slowly they leaned in towards one another, pressing their familiar lips together, enjoying the way they fit so perfectly with each other.
Miranda's tongue dared venture forth first, leaving the warm recess of her mouth and snaking across Andy's full lower lip. They explored one another tentatively at first before their passion burned intensely within them. Mouths moved and lips parted as the soft, wordless melody to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas drifted carefully in the warm air round them.
When they moved apart, their breaths caressed the air between them in a delicate sigh that both of them shared. Miranda's eyes moved towards the window and a genuine smile spread across her face. With her fingers still at Andy's chin, she tilted the younger woman's gaze towards the window. Outside, large white flakes drifted slowly towards the ground, coating the scene in a blanket of ivory. Andy's eyes widened and she looked to Miranda again before clapping a hand over her mouth. Her smile spread behind it, the excitement bubbling within her like a child who had just spied Santa in the living room.
Andy pressed into Miranda's side and let her head rest upon the Editor's shoulder. "Merry Christmas Miranda."
Miranda smiled, hugging Andy towards her, stroking her fingers up and down the woman's arm in a gentle caress. With each movement, Andy's lashes grew heavier and her breathing began to regulate. Miranda angled her lips to Andy's temple, pressing a soft kiss into her hairline.
She had made a choice that evening. She'd made a conscious decision to chose family over her career, and it had been alright. The work would get done without her, and what didn't would wait for her when she returned. There had always been risks she'd been willing to take and sacrifices she'd been willing to make. But this time, she had grabbed on to the things she most cared about and she refused to see them end.
A luxurious smile swept across her soft lips, lighting up her entire face in the process. She allowed her own lashes to close then, moving her head to couple with Andy's as the snow machine she had hired earlier, whirred almost unnoticed outside the window.
"Merry Christmas Andrea." She whispered.
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