DISCLAIMER: I do not own the characters of Miranda or Andy, they are used by me purely for pleasure purposes. I've borrowed them without their knowledge but I hope that they don't mind. I also hope that the original creator doesn't mind. Thanks for the memories.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Also, thanks must go to Kerri you're flipping ace!! And my other mate smileyface that continuously tells me where I'm going wrong so that I can put it right. Thanks.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
My Heart Aches
"You're definitely coming tonight aren't you?" Lily's voice was frantic.
"Yes," Andy laughed. "I wouldn't miss it for anything."
"Good," Lily sounded relieved. "I need you."
"Anyone would think that it was your showing," Andy said.
"Well, she is my sister and it is my gallery so it sort of is," Lily sounded breathless. "Just be there at seven to help me welcome people, OK?"
"No problem," Andy grinned down the phone. "I better go and start beautifying myself."
"Yes, you better," Lily's voice was so distracted that Andy knew she did not mean to be offensive, even though Lily's tone sounded almost condescending.
As she hung up the telephone Andy went to the bathroom and began to fill the tub. A nice long soak would make all the difference to her tired muscles, New York life was hectic. The long hours that she put it at the paper were rewarding but it meant that she had to conduct her social life late into the evening and that was taking its toll on her.
She'd not been on a date in months, in truth there was no time and even in Manhattan there was no one that ignited the fire within her. There was no one that intellectually challenged her, and physically stimulated her. Everyone was career minded and hell bent on looking cool. It was like Runway had seeped into the whole of Manhattan, or perhaps it was the places where Andy was hanging out these days. Lily appeared determined to find them both boyfriends but Andy was resisting, she did not want a boyfriend. She was enjoying being on her own, walking around her apartment in her underwear, or naked when the mood took her. Of course Nate had never complained if she did that but there was something liberating about not being watched and being naked in your own space.
With that thought in mind Andy stripped off her day clothes and pranced through to the kitchen to get a glass of wine to enjoy in the bath tub.
Lily was fussing over Elodie and Elodie was fussing over Andy and Andy was drinking as much free champagne as she could.
"I'm so nervous?" Lily danced around on the spot.
"It's my show," Elodie snapped.
"I'm nervous for you," Lily hugged her little sister.
"Are you drunk?" Elodie eyed Andy speculatively.
Andy shrugged one perfectly, creamy shoulder.
"Please don't "
"I won't embarrass you," Andy placed her glass down as a new set of guests arrived and she plastered a beautiful smile on her face.
"Good evening," she greeted the guests. "Welcome to the new showing of Elodie's Spring Frocks."
The man eyed her approvingly then said. "Didn't you used to work for Miranda Priestley?"
Andy's heart pounded at the sound of that name. "Erm yes," she stuttered desperately trying to recall his name but he saved her from humiliation.
"I'm Aaron Whittleton, this is my wife Leandra," he shook Andy's hand and his wife kissed both her cheeks.
"It's wonderful that you're here," Andy said, trying to gather her composure.
"We're very excited," Aaron enthused. "Elodie is an outstanding new talent."
Andy turned to look for Elodie but she had disappeared and all Andy saw was Lily beaming with pride.
"Mr Whittleton, may I introduce Lily, this is Elodie's older sister," Andy needed a diversion. She needed to get rid of the images of Miranda Priestley that were swimming in her head since the woman had been mentioned.
"You must be very proud," Leandra Whittleton smiled at a mesmerised Lily.
"Oh, I am," Lily puffed out her chest.
The Whittleton's graciously nodded and then went through into the gallery where the showing was going to be.
"Wow," Lily mouthed to Andy.
Andy smiled but then became distracted by more guests arriving and then her heart raced again as James Holt entered with Nigel in tow.
"Andy!" Nigel could not hide his elation.
"Nigel," Andy threw her arms around him.
"What on earth are you doing here?" Nigel looked her up and down and nodded, and then James took her in his arms for a hug.
"Elodie is a close friend of mine," Andy explained, her words muffled into James's shoulder.
"Well I wish you had told us this earlier. She's a gem," Nigel mused. "Perhaps you could introduce us a little later on."
"Of course," Andy assured him. "You look great. Have you been working out?"
Nigel visibly flexed and then shared a look with James. "You could say that," he smiled coyly and headed off with a strange smile on his face, followed by James who wore an apologetic smile.
"Are you going to know everyone here?" Lily hissed.
Andy innocently shrugged her shoulders.
She was now thinking the impossible.
Would Miranda Priestley show up to see this new 'gem' of the fashion world?
Would the Devil herself make an appearance? The idea was absurd.
Miranda was high profile.
James Holt was checking out the competition.
Nigel was with James.
The Whittleton's were friends of the gallery.
Why would Miranda come here?
Andy was bothered and decided to go and calm her nerves in the bathroom.
She stood at the washbasin and stared at her reflection for a long time.
Brown, sad eyes stared back at her.
Then the sadness was replaced with desperation.
A need to see Miranda again and an urge to explain her actions had throbbed in Andy's veins since Paris.
She wanted to tell Miranda that she was sorry.
That she had been angry.
She wanted to thank her for getting her the job at The Mirror.
Andy had not been able to bring herself to do any of those things and that disappointed her.
Suddenly the voice of Britney Spears sounded in the other room. The show had begun.
Andy realised that she must have been in the bathroom for an eternity and she quickly fixed her lipstick and hurried into the room.
Gorgeous models were strutting down a runway to 'Break the Ice.'
The upbeat sound resonated around the room and Andy smiled as she saw the dresses that the models were wearing.
Nigel was correct.
Elodie had managed to create something that was truly superb and the models that were wearing the clothes were divine.
The lights were electric blue on the ceiling and images were strewn all over the walls of the gallery.
Andy marvelled at how artistic Lily had been with the lighting, it was spectacular and Andy had goose bumps.
Suddenly there was a rustling behind her.
"What the hell are you doing here?" a voice barked.
Andy spun around.
"Never mind, Andrea, I need a seat."
"Emily," Andy's jaw fell open.
"Well done," Emily said sarcastically.
"What are you doing here?" Andy felt her knees begin to shake.
"Miranda is on her bloody way up. Get me a seat," Emily instructed.
Sure enough high heels sounded on the stairs. Andy thought she would need the seat for herself if her knees carried on shaking this way.
Emily and Andy traded a look of terror before Andy darted away and to the front of the crowd where Doug was sitting.
"I need you to come and stand with me," Andy hissed in his ear.
"What?" he looked at her with annoyance, then his eyes widened as he saw the monster that appeared behind Andy.
He almost fell out of his chair and Miranda Priestley glided easily into it without an utterance of thanks.
"You could have booked a place like normal people," Andy hissed at Emily.
"She changed her bloody mind at the last minute and I tried to call the gallery but there was no answer," Emily looked frazzled.
Andy remembered events like that; now that she did not have to deal with them she recalled them almost fondly.
"Do you want some champagne?" Andy whispered to Emily, feeling a little sorry for the red head.
Emily looked like she was going to cry as she nodded gratefully.
Doug led Emily over to the table where the champagne was and they stood there together, talking in lowered voices.
"Don't you turn up at auspicious occasions?" Miranda pursed her mouth and did not look up at Andy standing beside her.
"I'm friends with the designer," Andy muttered.
"Really?" Miranda threw off her coat and turned her full attention to the runway.
Andy began to back away towards Doug and Emily.
"She seems in a good mood," Andy said to Emily.
"She's been hideous and I blame you," Emily snapped and guzzled her drink.
"Thanks. What have I done exactly?" Andy asked cheerfully.
"What have you done?" Emily's voice was so loud that a few people turned around and hushed her. "You left her in bloody Paris for Gods sake."
"Oh," Andy winked at Doug. "You mean she hasn't forgotten about that little incident yet."
"Little incident!" Emily looked as though she was about to combust.
"Maybe we could talk about this later," Doug interjected and ambled back to where his seat was and parked his butt on the floor, staring at the models with fascination.
Miranda looked momentarily miffed but then obviously decided to say nothing about the minnow sitting on the floor in front of her and concentrated her attention on the models.
Andy inclined her head towards the show and Emily took one last swig of champagne and followed her.
The show was magnificent; particularly the end where Elodie showed off her black and gold dresses to the Sam Sparro song, Black & Gold.
It was better than some of the shows that Andy had been to with Miranda, back in the day when that was all she did.
Of course Andy was biased but when Elodie emerged on stage at the end to take a bow the crowd went wild; mostly led by Doug who leapt to his feet and clapped in the campest way that Andy had ever seen, forcing her to laugh out loud at his antics.
"Will she stay to mingle?" Andy whispered to Emily out of the side of her mouth.
"It depends who's here," Emily tottered over to Miranda who had already been accosted by Nigel.
A moment later Emily turned and nodded to Andy who leapt into action and went to seek out Elodie.
She found the young woman hugging all of the models out back.
"That was amazing," Andy said breathlessly. "But you need to come with me right now."
She grabbed Elodie's hand and dragged her out front.
She propelled the young woman towards Miranda and Nigel.
She heard Elodie gasp.
"Nigel!" Andy called.
He turned to look at her and his face lit up.
"Nigel, this is Elodie," Andy proudly displayed her friend.
Nigel looked Elodie up and down as he did with everyone but Andy's attention was focused on Miranda's face.
"Young lady," Nigel embraced Elodie. "May I just say that your work is truly exquisite?"
"Thank you," Elodie gulped.
"May I also introduce you to Miranda Priestley?" Nigel gestured towards Miranda.
"It's an honour," Elodie bowed her head towards Miranda as though she were Royalty.
Miranda nodded and gave a tight smile. "I would like to take a closer look at your work," Miranda said.
"Of course," Elodie said nervously. "When?"
"Right now," Miranda replied with a hint of irritation.
"Follow me," Elodie led Miranda, Nigel and James backstage.
"Bloody hell," was all Emily muttered as they walked away.
Andy decided to stay away.
She was certain that there was a murderous look in Miranda's eyes and no doubt it was for her.
This made Andy's heart sink.
Miranda looked so beautiful, her skin was perfect and she looked like she had lost weight causing her already prominent cheekbones to draw attention to how gorgeous her face was.
Andy knew that Miranda had her heart.
The old dragon had ignited something inside of Andy that she wanted to ignore. She challenged Andy to be all that she could be but Andy had failed the final task. She could not be callous and calculating and by maintaining her scruples Andy had been separated from the one person that had ever made her feel truly worthwhile.
"Penny for them," Doug's voice broke into Andy's sentimental reverie.
"A bit of a shock seeing Miranda here," Doug observed Andy and her response.
"A bit," she offered. "It's fine though. She's out the back with Elodie looking at the dresses."
"Ah," Doug nodded and put his hands in his pockets. "Anything you want to talk about?"
Andy looked up at him sharply. "What made you ask that?" she narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
"Nothing," he said casually. "I just thought that seeing her might have given you PTSD or something."
Andy laughed. "I'm fine," she assured him.
"OK," Doug stood beside her and put his arm around her shoulders. "Whatever you say."
They were still standing like that when Elodie re-emerged talking animatedly to an enraptured Miranda. Nigel had linked his arm through Elodie's and James was grinning like an idiot.
"Looks like it went well," Doug mumbled.
"It sure does," Andy winked at Elodie as they approached.
"Everything OK?" Andy asked.
"Great!" Elodie beamed. "Everything is great."
"I will have Emily call you," Miranda said to Elodie.
"Sure," Elodie held out her hand to Miranda and Miranda actually took it and shook it then kissed Elodie on both cheeks. "Excellent work," she muttered.
Elodie lowered her head shyly.
Miranda turned her attention to Andy. "Goodbye."
"Bye," Andy said dumbly.
As Emily followed Miranda out she gave Andy a blank look which Andy decided was better than a glare.
"Right then," Doug clapped his hands and looked directly at Nigel. "Who's for getting ripped on champagne?"
Miranda sat in the back of the car with Emily.
The red head said very little at the best of times but this silence was induced by terror.
"Reg, can we drop Emily at home?" Miranda called to the driver.
"There's no need," Emily sounded shocked.
"It's late," was all Miranda said.
She wanted to ask Emily if she had known that Andrea would be there but somehow Miranda knew that Emily had no idea.
She knew that Emily was such an approval seeker that she would have paid Andrea to leave the State if she thought there was even the slightest chance that they would run into each other.
Miranda sighed inwardly and then it escaped from her lips and Emily looked up in concern.
"Miranda " Emily began.
Miranda held up her hand to silence the young woman.
Emily clamped her mouth shut and kept it that way until they reached her apartment.
"Good night, Miranda," was all she could muster.
"See you Monday," Miranda said softly.
Emily felt her own jaw drop open.
Miranda had never spoken to her that nicely before.
Andy woke up; thanking the Lord it was Saturday.
Her head had been shredded apart by alcohol.
Beside her Doug was lying on his back, fully clothed and snoring like a fitting wilder beast.
She punched him hard on the arm and then rolled off the bed.
As she went to the bathroom a vague memory of being in a gay bar flooded back to her.
Her hands flung to her mouth as the image of herself drinking shooters off the body of an attractive lesbian dancer popped into her mind's eye, while Nigel, James, Doug, Lily and Elodie cheered.
"Oh no," she gasped and promptly threw up.
The telephone began to ring loudly and she covered her ears.
"Turn it off!" Doug screamed. "Turn it off!"
Andy staggered through to the kitchen and snatched up the telephone. "Hello," she said in a voice that wasn't her own.
"I'm pleased you sound as ill as I feel," Lily mumbled.
"I think I'm dying," Andy admitted and slid to the floor.
"We're not too grand over here either," Lily sounded hoarse. "Breakfast?"
"Doug!" Andy shouted. "Are we going to breakfast with Lily and El?"
"If breakfast involves a Big Mac," Doug mumbled.
"We'll see you in an hour," Andy muttered.
She sat on the kitchen floor for a while wondering why she had gotten so drunk the night before.
Miranda Priestley that was all her brain could think about.
Miranda clutched her head as Caroline leapt on to the bed.
"MOM! We're going to be late," the child complained.
"I'm up, I'm up," Miranda said and heaved herself out of bed.
"Were you drinking again?" a second child appeared at the doorway.
"I was working last night," Miranda responded.
"Then why is there a whisky bottle there?" the child pointed to the bed side table.
"Go and get your kit together," Miranda instructed. "We're going to be late."
"That's what I've been saying!" Caroline squealed and ran out of the room, dragging her twin with her.
Miranda went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. She fluffed her hair and looked into her own red eyes.
Andrea fucking Sachs had a lot to answer for.
Miranda could still taste whisky in her mouth and she reached for her toothbrush.
She must have drunk half a bottle last night.
At least she thought she had, one could never be certain how much was originally in the bottle. All Miranda knew was that she did not need a lecture from her daughter about the ethics of alcohol bingeing.
Seeing Andrea again had dismantled her. Although, to the outside world she was her usual surly self, inside Miranda had thought that her heart was going to beat out of her chest.
If Miranda had been one to believe in fate she would have thought that the previous night had been orchestrated by some God that was having a laugh at her expense.
The following Wednesday Andy was at the office when her telephone rang.
"Yes?" she answered.
"Lil? Everything OK?"
"Can you come to the workshop?" Lily asked.
"Sure, what's up?"
"We need another set of eyes," Lily explained. "El's trying to get some stuff ready to take over to Miranda and we want to know what she's going to like."
"OK," Andy glanced at her watch. "I can be there within the hour."
"Can you make it sooner?" Lily sounded worried. "We're supposed to have the dresses there by ten; it's for a night time shoot."
"They're shooting spring time dresses in the evening?" Andy could not hide her amazement.
"Don't ask me," Lily mumbled. "Just try to get here as soon as you can."
"On my way," Andy said and hung up.
When she got to the workshop there were only three people there but the place was in chaos.
Material was strewn everywhere and there were ten dresses sitting on a rail.
El's assistant was waddling around clutching her back and flinging pieces of paper all around.
"What the hell?" Andy muttered.
"Welcome to pandemonium," Lily greeted her.
"Quick," El pulled her to the rack. "Which of these do you think she will like best?"
Andy studied the dresses and pulled one out. "She won't like the bow on this one," she handed it to El. "The rest are fine."
"Right," El began but then her assistant let out a groan and then a wail.
"What's the matter?" El dashed over to the heavily pregnant woman.
"My water just broke," she looked like she was about to burst into tears.
"Oh fuck!" Lily looked down at the floor and then up at her sister's mortified face.
"We need to get her to hospital," El looked at her assistant. "Are you OK, Holly?"
Holly nodded but then let out a huge groan.
"Oh shit!" El put her hand to her forehead. "OK, I'll call Gavin," she said to Holly.
"You," she pointed to Andy. "You need to get a cab and take these over to Miranda Priestley's office."
"I can't!" Andy objected.
"Would you rather deliver a baby in the back of a car?" El yelled.
Lily was hopping from foot to foot as Andy weighed up the situation. "Fair point," she went to the rack and snatched up the dresses.
"They need to be there by ten pm," El said.
"I'm going," Andy turned to look at Holly. "Erm good luck with everything."
"Thanks," Holly was gasping loudly. "I'm scared."
Lily took her arm. "Let's get you to my car."
"You!" El jabbed her finger towards Andy. "Go, now!"
Andy didn't linger, she went down the stairs two at a time and flagged down a cab.
Even as she told the driver to take her to the Elias-Clarke building she felt fear in the pit of her stomach.
Emily would probably be there, waiting at the door for her, tapping her Prada shoes impatiently.
So when she got to the Runway floor she was surprised to find it silent and no Emily to be seen.
There was a faint light at the end of the corridor where Andy's office had once been so she went towards it.
Still no Emily waiting to snap at her heels.
Andy became suspicious.
She pushed open the door to find the office empty, then the sound of a lavatory flushing in the silence and a tap running.
Miranda emerged from her private bathroom.
She stopped dead when she saw Andy.
Andy was rooted to the spot, clutching the dresses against her in an unceremonious fashion.
"Andrea?" there was a question in Miranda's voice as though she could not quite believe what she was seeing.
"Yes," Andy replied stupidly.
"What are you doing here?" Miranda barked as if suddenly remembering who she was supposed to be and exactly who Andy was in relation to the pecking order.
"El sent me. She said that you needed these dresses for a shoot tonight," Andy thrust the garments towards Miranda who did not take them.
"That stupid girl!" Miranda exploded.
"Hey!" Andy jumped to defend her friend.
"Not Elodie!" Miranda waved her hand. "That useless second assistant of mine, she got all her wires crossed and was supposed to ring to say that it wasn't ten PM it was ten AM tomorrow," Miranda sighed in frustration. "Why anyone would think that a spring dress collection shoot would be held at night I don't know "
Andy wanted to say that she had thought of that herself but then thought better of it.
"Oh well," she felt relieved and tried to smooth things over for the woman that had replaced her. "We're ahead of schedule."
"Yes," Miranda said dryly and went into her office and picked up the phone. "Would you excuse me for a moment?"
Andy stood by as Miranda gave her second assistant the dressing down of her life, remembering receiving that once or twice, Andy blushed.
When Miranda slammed the phone down without a goodbye, she rubbed her forehead tiredly and then remembered that Andy was standing looking at her.
Without a word she went to Andy and as she retrieved the dresses her hand brushed Andy's skin and there was a loud crack.
They pulled apart in surprise and then Andy laughed.
"Static electricity," she said.
"Indeed," Miranda took the dresses and hung them on a rack with some other garments.
"Well, I should get going," Andy stood uneasily in the middle of the room as if waiting for Miranda to dismiss her.
Miranda looked at her softly, it was almost with a fondness but the look was fleeting and her eyes became icy again.
"See you then," Andy said awkwardly and turned on her heels.
"I was just going to get some dinner," Miranda said a little too quickly. "Have you eaten yet? I know it's your favourite past time."
An invitation, tagged with the usual insult.
Andy realised that she had not eaten and had not had time to think about food. Thoughts of Holly, Elodie and Lily flooded her brain.
"I shouldn't really," she said. "The reason that El couldn't bring the dresses herself is because her assistant, Holly, went into labour as they were getting everything ready for you so I should really go and see if everything is OK."
"Ah," Miranda nodded and if Andy hadn't known better she was sure that there was a look of disappointment passing across Miranda's face.
"Another time perhaps," Andy said gently, although feeling like the offer was a one time offer only.
"Perhaps," Miranda pouted as she pulled her coat on. "At least let me give you a ride to the hospital; especially after my incompetent second assistant dragged you all the way over here in the middle of the night. I don't know what the girl was thinking of. "
Andy smiled; there was something about Miranda that was different. "Miranda "
"Yes," Miranda began throwing objects into her oversized handbag.
"You don't seem like you."
Miranda looked up sharply. "I'm me," she assured.
She strutted from behind the desk and stopped when she was inches away from Andy.
Andy looked up at her and she knew that the expression on her face was one of adulation. No woman had affected her the way Miranda did.
"Miranda, I've wanted to see you for so long," Andy heard her own voice break.
Miranda gazed at her and said nothing.
The silence was excruciating but Miranda did not fill it so Andy obliged.
"I wanted to apologise to you about Paris and to thank you for getting me the job at The Mirror."
"You got yourself the job," Miranda said stiffly. "As for Paris " she trailed off.
"I'm sorry," Andy whispered.
"What are you sorry for exactly?" Miranda asked.
Andy swallowed. I'm sorry for leaving you when you were the only person that made me feel alive.
"I'm sorry that I left you alone to handle "
Miranda interrupted with a groan. "I thought that you might have got past this!"
"Past what?" Andy could feel something welling in her throat.
"Past the obvious," Miranda muttered. "Let's go," she began to move away but Andy caught hold of her hand, only to receive a warning glare but she did not release her grip.
"Never mind," Miranda said. "You're just a young woman."
"What does that even mean?" Andy laughed at the absurdity of the conversation. "That's just a random statement."
"I will take you to the hospital," Miranda said and freed her hand from Andy's grip and stalked down the corridor.
Andy followed a moment later feeling utterly baffled.
They sat in silence in the car and when Reg pulled over Andy said goodbye but Miranda did not even look at her.
Andy felt devastated but got out of the car and watched with tears in her eyes as it pulled away.
"That went well," Reg chirped from the front of the car.
Miranda shot a withering glance at the back of his head. "I do not need an analysis."
"I know," he said. "But why..?"
"I know what I did," Miranda said. "I just don't know how to fix it."
"Can I make a suggestion?" Reg ventured.
Miranda conceded that he could with a wave of her hand.
"Why don't you be honest with her?"
"Are you insane?" Miranda asked him with seriousness. "Anyway, what do you know about it?"
"Only what I see," Reg retorted. "With my eyes."
Miranda glared at him.
She wanted to kick herself, why did she always have to be the ice maiden?
That's your persona, that's what people expect. You can't let them down.
Not Andrea though, she knows that there is something more to you.
Show it to her.
Miranda ignored the voice and asked Reg to turn the radio on.
It was two weeks later before Andy had time to properly think about Miranda again.
Holly had given birth to a beautiful baby girl and then a huge story had broken about the Mayor of New York and most of Andy's time had been occupied with that. She had not seen any of her friends and had barely spoken to them on the telephone. She had received a thank you text message from Elodie and a text from Lily explaining that their lives had suddenly become chaotic but they must all meet up soon.
Tonight Andy had sat in a car with David Planton a photographer, waiting for the Mayor to emerge from a dinner to get a photograph of him. It had been incredibly boring but then when the Mayor did appear he punched one of the paparazzi and everything had gone crazy and Andy found herself right in the middle of the melee.
When she finally got home she crawled into bed but she was too wired up to sleep. She kept playing the conversation she had with Miranda over and over in her head. Although it had been two weeks ago the older woman's comment had not lost its potency.
You're just a young woman.
Andy laughed out loud in the silence of her bedroom.
What did that even mean?
It was as though Miranda was trying to tell her something, give her a hint or a clue of some sort.
Andy had never been any good at riddles but this one played in her mind, repeating itself with every inflection perfectly intact.
Eventually, Andy fell into a fitful slumber and was woken three hours later by Doug calling her cell phone.
"'Lo," Andy said groggily.
"Well?" Doug demanded.
"Well what?" Andy yawned.
"I thought that we were friends and that we told each other everything. Clearly I was mistaken." Doug gave an irritated sigh. "What happened when you went to the office?"
"What office?" Andy yawned again.
"The office that you used to work at," Doug was exasperated now. "The one that is ran by Satan herself! I have to hear it from Lily, two weeks after the event."
Andy rolled on to her back and stared at the ceiling while she played with her hair and wondered what to tell Doug.
"That was weeks ago. It was fine," she said eventually.
"That long pause tells me that it wasn't fine. I'm coming over."
With that he hung up and Andy sighed. She heaved herself out of bed and into the shower in the next room. The last thing she wanted to do was run a full analysis of the Miranda Priestley situation but she had not seen Doug for a while and it might do her good to talk it over with someone; just to reaffirm that she was not in fact losing her mind.
Her common sense told her that there was nothing to report to Doug, but her instinct told her that there was more to what Miranda had said than Andy understood.
A year of observing Miranda had informed Andy that the woman never expended valuable breath without there being a damn good reason behind it.
When Doug arrived an hour later he was carrying muffins, doughnuts and two huge coffees.
"Thanks," Andy said gratefully as they sat around her coffee table, stuffing the doughnuts in their mouths eagerly.
"So come on," Doug mumbled. "Spill."
Andy sighed and wiped jam from her face with a napkin.
"It was odd actually."
Doug widened his eyes in encouragement.
"When I got to the office there was no one there apart from Miranda."
Doug stopped chewing, "oh no," and doughnut promptly fell on to his shirt.
"It was a misunderstanding by my replacement," Andy explained. "So, I went into the office and Miranda was coming out of the bathroom and she stopped dead when she saw me."
"Oh my God," Doug said, he still wasn't chewing and his cheeks were full of half masticated food.
"And I explained that Elodie had asked me to bring the dresses over," Andy continued with the tale.
She did not even miss out the part with the static crack.
"And then she said 'you're just a young woman.'"
"What does that mean?" Doug said and began to chew again; sensing the story was over and he would need his mouth to debate the remark.
"I have no idea what it means," Andy brushed the comment aside. "Anyway, she took me to the hospital without uttering a word, not even a goodbye."
"Hmph," Doug said as he drank his coffee.
"Sooooo," Andy shrugged.
"What does that mean; you're just a young woman?" Doug leaned back against the sofa and mused.
"Perhaps it means just that," Andy muttered. "I have no idea, the woman is unreadable."
The sound of Doug's cell interrupted their discussion.
"Yes," he said into the phone. "I'll ask her."
Andy raised her eyebrows expectantly. "Lily and El are re-shooting down in the park, they want to know if we want to go down and watch."
"The Runway shoot?"
Andy shrugged. "I'll go dry my hair," she stood up, taking a muffin with her for good measure.
As she dried her hair she felt relieved that Doug thought Miranda's comment was odd.
Part of Andy was wondering if she was merely hoping that it was odd because she wanted there to be a hidden meaning in it. No doubt it was a slur coming from Miranda but was too sophisticated for Andy to realise that it was a slur.
Half an hour later she pulled on her boots and she and Doug headed out into the sunny weather.
"Maybe Miranda will be there," Doug said.
"Maybe she will," Andy tried to sound nonchalant but her wits told her that Miranda probably would be there.
The thought of seeing her sent Andy into a tailspin.
"You love her," Doug said.
"You love her," Doug repeated gleefully. "Miranda, you love her."
"No, I'm just intrigued by her," Andy tried to hide the shakiness in her voice.
"It's OK that you love her, these things happen. I always thought that you were on the other bus, even when you were dating Nate you never really seemed that into him and he was gorgeous."
"Hang on," Andy stopped walking and turned to her best friend. "Are you trying to tell me that you think I'm a lesbian?"
"Yes," Doug continued walking.
Andy hesitated and then jogged to catch up with him.
"I'm not a lesbian," she muttered.
"What else would you call it when you fancy a woman?" Doug asked airily.
"I don't fancy or love her," Andy reinforced. "I just think that she's "
"She's?" Doug probed.
"She's an amazing woman, Doug. Even you can't deny that," Andy tried to deflect the attention but it did not work.
"I don't fancy her though."
They continued walking in silence and then suddenly arrived to a scene of panic and Lily bounded towards them.
"Oh my God one of the models just collapsed, banged her head and bled all over one of the dresses, Miranda is going mental."
Andy looked around, realising that she actually missed this bedlam and being the person to sort it out. She was also searching for Miranda but could not see her.
"Elodie is freaking out, Holly is here and she's had to bring the baby because Gavin's only gone off and left her. The bastard man that he is!" Lily's voice was high-pitched.
"Should I slap her?" Doug asked Andy. "I think she's hysterical, don't you?"
Lily glared at Doug and allowed Andy to take her by the elbow. "Where's El?"
"She's over here," Lily led them both to where El was standing trying to hide the blood stain on the shoulder of the white dress.
"Hey," El greeted Andy and Doug weakly.
The poor girl looked exhausted.
Clearly success did not come without a price.
"Are things not going according to plan?" Andy asked.
"Not really," El looked up at the model. "It's manageable though. They will just have to airbrush it out."
Andy glanced around and saw Holly holding a tiny baby.
She went over to her. "Give Jessica to me," Andy instructed.
Holly gave her a grateful look as she handed the baby to Andy who took her awkwardly at first but then a natural, mothering instinct took over and Andy wrapped the blanket around the baby tighter as Holly dashed off to assist Elodie.
"That child should not be here," a crisp voice said behind Andy.
She did not need to turn around to know that it was Miranda.
"Where else should she be?"
"At home, wrapped up nice and warm, the thing is tiny."
"It's a baby, not a thing."
"Go and sit in my car with her, it's warm in there."
Now Andy turned to look at Miranda. "Your car?" she asked faintly.
"Yes," Miranda pointed. "It's over there."
Andy looked down at the tiny sleeping baby's face and then up at Miranda.
"I will tell Elodie's assistant where you've gone so you don't get accused of kidnapping or anything," Miranda hurried away.
Andy enlisted Doug's help to take all of Jessica's stuff to the car and then she settled herself in the warmth while the driver held baby Jessica and cooed over the child that was now awake.
"I can't believe that I'm in Miranda Priestley's car," Doug ran his hand over the leather interior.
"Shh," Andy said furiously.
"This isn't your baby is it?" the driver asked cheerfully.
"No," Andy assured him and turned her attention out of the window.
Her eyes searched for Miranda but she could not see her and Andy felt that defeated the purpose of coming down here.
"You're looking for her," Doug said in a sing-song voice.
"I'm not," Andy wanted to slap his smug face.
"Hey, driver!" Doug called.
The driver swivelled round. "You can call me Pete, sir."
"Pete," Doug gave him a charming smile. "Has Ms Priestley been seeing anyone lately?"
Pete pulled a face. "I am not at liberty to discuss any of Ms Priestley's personal life. It's more than my job is worth."
"Are you well paid because she has antics in the back of this car?" Doug asked.
"That's not why I am well paid," Pete answered stoically.
"So she doesn't have antics in the back of the car?" Doug said.
"I didn't say that," Pete gave a small smile.
Pete shook his head and handed Jessica back to Andy.
As Andy nestled the baby against her she looked out of the window again.
This time she saw Emily and then she saw Miranda who was talking animatedly with Elodie and Elodie was nodding furiously.
"You look like a natural with Jessica," Doug said as he played with the child's small fingers.
"She's beautiful," Andy said wistfully and for a second Doug was not sure whether Andy was referring to baby Jessica or Miranda.
After a while Doug got bored and went back to watch the shoot.
Andy felt herself begin to drift off to sleep with Jessica in her arms.
The heat of the car and comfort of the seats made it the perfect place to catch a few zeds.
Andy did not know how long she slept but when she opened her eyes there was a woman leaning over her saying, "Andrea, wake up."
The voice was gentle, almost kind.
The weight in Andy's arms disappeared suddenly and Andy sat up and stretched.
"Miranda?" Andy muttered.
"We're finished," Miranda said. "The child's mother is here to claim her back."
"Oh," Andy looked past Miranda to see Holly waiting expectantly as Miranda handed her daughter to her.
Jessica was wide awake now and gurgling happily.
Andy suddenly realised that it was dusk.
"How long was I asleep?" she rubbed her eyes.
"About four hours," Miranda said flatly.
"Thanks for taking care of her," Holly said. "I can't believe that you managed to get her to sleep."
"I didn't really do anything," Andy admitted, feeling guilty that she had dozed off. "I'm sorry; she'll probably be awake all night now."
"That's fine," Holly kissed Jessica sweetly. "I haven't seen her all day. We can spend some time together."
Andy smiled at the loving way Holly cherished Jessica as she put her in her stroller and walked away. "Thanks again Andy. You're a top babysitter."
Miranda leant down and looked at Andy with interest. "Are you staying?" she asked.
"Oh," Andy sprung to life. "No, I should get going. Where's Doug?"
"He left hours ago. No stamina as far as I'm concerned," Miranda climbed into the car. "Would you like me to take you home?"
"Where are Elodie and Lily?"
"They have gone with Nigel for drinks."
Andy felt angry that they had not invited her and Miranda noticed her face.
"They did ask me to tell you that you're invited," Miranda said wearily with a wave of her hand. "If you want to go I can take you to wherever they are."
"They didn't come and ask me though," Andy pouted.
"I think that was more to do with me than you. You looked so peaceful that it seemed a shame to wake you." Miranda leaned to the driver. "Can we please drop Andrea at home?"
He nodded and started the car.
"What did you do? Did you terrify them?"
Miranda feigned innocence. "I did nothing of the sort. I just said that you looked exhausted and that an early night might not be such a bad idea."
Andy pulled out her mobile and sent a text to Lily saying that she would go home and wash and then come to join them, wherever they were.
"Was the shoot successful?" Andy forced conversation.
Miranda stared out of the window. "It was not unsuccessful."
Andy toyed with the idea of asking Miranda what the comment, 'you're just a young woman,' meant.
Would Miranda even remember saying it?
"Miranda," she began slowly.
"I can tell by your tone that you're going to ask me an insipid question," Miranda said haughtily.
Andy gulped and felt her cheeks flush as she stopped talking.
"Go ahead," Miranda waved her hand. "Ask whatever you must."
"I don't want to ask you a thing," Andy said icily. "In fact, I'd like to get out," she clutched the door handle but Miranda reached out and stopped her.
"Ask your question," she growled.
"No," Andy's eyes were full of rage and then she realised that Miranda's hand was clasping hers and she began to panic. "I can't believe that I "
"That you were - what?" Miranda challenged and Andy was certain that the woman tightened her grip.
"Nothing," Andy was determined that her emotions would not allow her mouth to run away with her.
"That you were what?" Miranda prodded, her voice was dangerously low.
"I was nothing," Andy yanked her hand from Miranda's.
"Why must you always be so difficult?" Miranda slid back across the seat to resume her earlier position of staring out of the window.
"Why must I be difficult?" Andy raged. "Well, I guess that's probably because I'm just a young woman."
Miranda looked over at her sharply and then her mouth curled into a knowing smile. "That really got to you didn't it?"
"Only because it was a ridiculous comment that was made at a time when it had nothing to do with anything that was going on at the time."
"I disagree," Miranda said.
"You would," Andy muttered and touched her hand where Miranda's grip had been only a few seconds earlier.
"It had everything to do with what was going on at the time."
"Did you always talk in riddles?" Andy exploded. "Or is it a new annoying habit that you've picked up?"
"I wasn't aware that I was speaking in riddles," Miranda said airily.
Andy shot her a disbelieving look. Miranda knew exactly how to dismantle Andy and right now she was doing a sterling job.
"I need to get out," Andy said.
"We're moving, in case you hadn't noticed and if my memory serves correctly we're not that far from your apartment. You might as well wait."
Andy huffed and folded her arms.
Then something inexplicable happened.
Her eyes, as if controlled by someone else swivelled to look at Miranda's ankle that was dangling dangerously close to Andy's leg. Andy's eyes went from the ankle and trailed up the legs that were covered with linen trousers to Miranda's hip. At this point Andy actually had to turn her head as her eyes continued to roam over Miranda's stomach and then linger at the swell of her breasts, ending up at the soft nape of Miranda's neck. Andy let out a lustful sigh, she had been thinking about running her tongue over the map she had just traced with her eyes.
"What are you looking at?" Miranda asked with a wicked gleam in her eye.
Andy reddened. She had not been surreptitious in her approval of Miranda's fine form.
"Nothing," Andy snapped to cover her embarrassment.
"See something that interests you?" Miranda asked sweetly.
"No," Andy choked.
"Hmm," Miranda said disbelievingly.
"You know what?" Andy turned to Miranda who widened her eyes in anticipation, as if knowing that this onslaught from the younger woman was inevitable. "The other night in your office, I thought that something had changed. I thought that you might have changed and actually become human but you haven't. You're still the same vindictive woman that you always were. I saw something in your eyes, like you had softened but it was just a lie."
Miranda pursed her lips a look that Andy had grown to despise and it angered her even more now.
"All your stupid little comments as if I'm supposed to know what you're alluding to, why don't you just say what you mean for once? Oh everything is fine when you're shredding someone's dignity isn't it? Then you're capable of saying exactly what you're thinking but when it comes time to reach out to someone you can't even do that civilly can you?"
Miranda looked ashen.
"I might be just a young woman Miranda, but I know that you were trying to reach out to me. I'm not that stupid. I just never believed it, I doubted what my gut was telling me but I know now that what I thought was true. The reason that I know it is because the feelings that I have for you are overpowering me and for even a snippet of humanity to be shown on your face, that means that you have feelings too."
Miranda looked as though she had been slapped.
Andy realised that the car had stopped at a set of traffic lights and she took the opportunity to hop out into the crowded street.
She knew that her heart could not take whatever callous remarks Miranda would say to her. The words would destroy Andy; she had allowed her emotions to run away with her once again.
As she darted through the crowd Andy did not look back to see where the silver Mercedes was. All she knew was that she wanted to go home and cry.
Tears began to spill down her cheeks as she rounded the block where her apartment was.
As she fumbled with the key in the lock, heels sounded on the sidewalk behind her.
Andy closed her eyes and quickly wiped away the tears.
"What?" she turned to face Miranda and stuck out her chin defiantly.
"I think that we have started down a path that I never wanted us to go down," Miranda said softly.
"Oh really?" Andy turned back to the door and this time managed to open it.
"Wait!" Miranda barked.
Andy was startled by the desperation in Miranda's voice. The woman sounded unlike herself.
"What was the path that you wanted us to go down? I thought that I would never see you again and so as far as I was concerned there was no path," Andy realised that a few people were walking towards them and she motioned for Miranda to follow her, never really expecting she would but Miranda did.
They tramped up the stairs into Andy's apartment and Andy was relieved that she had made Doug clean up after himself.
Andy threw her keys on to the coffee table and watched Miranda as the older woman surveyed the room.
"The path," Andy snapped.
"Right," Miranda pulled herself back into the conversation.
"I didn't think that there was a path for us to go down," Andy repeated.
"Neither did I that was until I got that message from Nigel telling me that you were one of the organisers for Elodie's show."
Suddenly everything fell into place.
Miranda had not been going to attend the event until Nigel told her that Andy was there.
"What do you mean?" Andy was going to be relentless in her pursuit of the truth. She wanted to see Miranda squirm.
"You know what I mean," Miranda pouted.
"I have no idea what you mean. I need you to explain it to me."
Miranda folded her arms and looked angry.
"Either explain or leave," Andy issued the ultimatum, terrified that Miranda would turn and walk away forever.
Miranda took a deep breath. "The opportunity to see you again was too good to pass up."
"I'm sorry," Andy pretended that she had misheard. "You wanted to see me again?"
"That's what I said," Miranda growled and there was a warning look in her eyes.
"To what end?"
Miranda inhaled heavily through her nose. "You're enjoying this aren't you?"
Andy shook her head but inside she was crowing.
"I just wanted to see you," Miranda collapsed on to Andy's sofa and looked defeated and Andy's heart softened when she saw the icy look disappear from Miranda's face.
She went to the older woman and sat down next to her.
"Why didn't you I don't know, email me or something?"
Miranda looked aghast. "I do not email anyone. I have people that do that sort of thing for me. Besides, what would I have said fancy meeting up for a Starbucks? Make sure it's piping hot!"
"I can't let down my defences," Miranda muttered. "No matter how badly I might want to. Do you understand that?"
"Of course I understand," Andy said and rested her hand on Miranda's knee. "But it's me," she said gently. "It's just little old me, I would never hurt you."
"You hurt me more than anyone I've ever known," Miranda gave a stark, bitter laugh. "You don't even realise how much you've hurt me."
"Paris," Andy whispered.
"Precisely, so you let me down once, you see how difficult it is for me to trust you second time round."
"You still came looking for me though," Andy stated. "That counts for something."
Miranda looked at Andy's hand that was resting on her leg, the heat permeating the linen of her trousers. "I came looking for you because I wanted an explanation and then when I found you I couldn't bear to listen to it. I didn't want to hear the negative things about myself, least of all from you."
Andy took a deep breath. "I don't know what to say."
"A reporter without words, that's useful," Miranda smiled.
"I have words but I'm scared to say them," Andy admitted.
"You said that your feelings were overpowering you," Miranda reminded softly. "What did you mean?"
Andy got up and went to the window, wishing that she had never said that.
"You can't take it back now that it's in the open," Miranda pressed as though reading Andy's thoughts.
"I really can't talk about this right now," Andy felt her voice choke up.
"OK," Miranda said gently. "How about we leave it for a while and mull things over?"
Andy turned to face the woman that she had once thought of as her Nemesis, now she was thinking about her as something completely different to that.
In fact, right now she wanted to go to Miranda and have the woman hold her tightly in her arms and whisper that everything was going to be OK.
"If we leave it, you might not come back," Andy said.
"I was just thinking the same thing about you. You were the one that left me, remember?"
Andy gave her a rueful smile. "I don't think that's going to happen again."
"But I'm not sure how far we will be able to go talking about feelings," Andy said thoughtfully. "You're not exactly forthcoming or demonstrative are you?"
Miranda looked wounded. "I've never had the opportunity to be demonstrative with you."
Andy crossed the room slowly and stood in front of Miranda.
"Have you wanted to be demonstrative?"
"I've thought about giving you many demonstrations."
Suddenly she was in Miranda's arms, inhaling perfume and the wonderful clean smell that always lingered around Miranda even when she'd been in the office for 12 hours and worked non-stop.
"Oh," Andy breathed into Miranda's hair.
Miranda pushed her away to arms length.
"I'll be in touch," was all she said and then left in a very Miranda Priestley fashion.
Miranda called the only person that was her friend.
"Nigel, I need to talk to you."
"What's up?" Nigel shouted down the phone above the sound of blaring music.
"I'm in love with Andrea," Miranda said.
His response was blaring music and then there was silence and the sound of traffic.
"Did I just hear you correctly, Miranda?" he asked.
"If you hear me say that I'm in love with Andrea then yes, you heard me correctly."
"I don't know what to say," Nigel admitted. "You've never said that you were in love with anyone. Not even your husbands."
"The stupid girl has made me fall in love with her," Miranda admitted.
"Well, if it helps I have it from a reliable source that Andy is willing to go gay for you."
"I already know that," Miranda snapped. "I just needed to tell someone."
"And I'm your someone?" Nigel sounded touched.
"Yes, good night Nigel."
"Good night Miranda."
As Nigel hung up he smirked to himself. Little sweet, innocent Andy Sachs had Miranda Priestley's heart. This was what movies were made of.
After the initial shock wore off, Andy paced the floor of her apartment and played everything over and over in her head. Clearly, Miranda was a woman that obeyed the three day rule. Not a word came through.
She paced for three nights, barely sleeping a wink until Saturday morning she climbed into bed, thoroughly exhausted. She woke up to the doorbell ringing at 9am.
"Will I ever sleep again?" she muttered and got out of bed.
There was a delivery man standing on the stoop.
"Yes?" Andy asked him curiously.
"Are you Andrea Sachs?"
He handed her a large box. "Sign here."
She scrawled her signature and thanked him before carrying the box inside.
There was a card taped to the top, she ripped it off and opened the envelope.
The card was a copy of a Van Hove sketch of a woman lying in bed reading a book.
Curiously, Andy opened the card. She would have recognised the penmanship anywhere.
Dinner tonight the car will pick you up at seven PM. No dress code.
Andy smiled and laid the card down and looked inside the box.
It was full of flowers.
She picked up the tag. China Pinks.
She reached out to her laptop and went to Google.
As she read the symbolism behind China Pinks her cheeks flushed a similar colour to the flowers.
My heart aches.
Andy fingered one of the flowers thoughtfully.
Did Miranda know the symbolism behind these flowers or was it just a vessel to carry her dinner invitation in?
Whatever it was Andy knew that she needed to get some sleep so she could look her best for Miranda.
The presumptuous old dragon, demanding her presence for dinner.
Feeling totally elated Andy fell into bed and a sound sleep.
Miranda was nervous.
She was actually nervous.
In her closet she had tried on five outfits and none had suited.
Eventually, she settled on black trousers with a wide, red belt and a fitted white shirt. She wondered what Andy would wear and a glance at her watch told her that she would find out in about five minutes.
Reg would be arriving with Andy at any moment.
Miranda went downstairs and almost tripped over Caroline's lone soccer boot.
Snatching it up she threw it inside her daughter's bedroom and closed the door.
She missed the girls when they were with their father and the smell that emanated from her daughter's room tugged at Miranda's heart strings as she thought about her girls.
They were the only thing in life that she truly loved but Miranda wanted that to change.
She was desperate for it to change.
The doorbell rang, and Miranda checked her reflection in the mirror once more.
When she opened the door to reveal a smiling Andy the wind was almost knocked out of her.
Never had Andy looked so radiant.
Her hair hung on her shoulders in long waves, covering the creaminess of her shoulders that were only covered by a tiny strap of the top she was wearing that plunged down below her cleavage.
Miranda raised an eyebrow. "You look wonderful."
Andy smiled bashfully. "You don't look so bad yourself."
Miranda gestured for her to enter.
"Thank you for the flowers," Andy began.
"You're welcome," Miranda said sweetly.
"China Pinks," Andy continued. "Interesting choice."
Miranda smiled coyly. "You think so?"
"Once I Googled them, I thought so," Andy felt bold and pleased that Lily had forced her to drink those two glasses of wine before she left the house.
Miranda merely nodded and led Andy up the stairs and to the back of the Town House into rooms that Andy had not seen before and had no idea even existed.
At the very back of the house was a large dining room with huge windows that opened out on to a roof top garden.
"Wow," Andy slid her bag from her shoulder and went out on to the garden. "This is incredible."
Miranda approached her with a glass of wine. "I had this built last year," Miranda said.
Andy took the glass from her and tasted the wine. "It's lovely."
Miranda smiled, she actually smiled. "The wine or the garden?"
"Both," Andy replied shyly.
"I'm pleased that you came. I thought Reg might come back without you," Miranda admitted.
"I'm surprised that I came," Andy went to the edge of the garden and leaned against the railing and looked out over the City. "But I did promise that I wouldn't leave you high and dry again."
Miranda nodded and then moved away as the maid appeared with a trolley full of delights.
"I have your food Ms Priestley."
"Thank you," Miranda said. "You can go home for the evening."
The maid nodded and placed the array of food on the table.
Andy had been so preoccupied with the garden that she had not noticed the table was laid for a meal.
"Are you hungry?" Miranda asked. "Silly question."
Andy narrowed her eyes playfully at the teasing. "You're being nice."
"It must be something in the air," Miranda muttered but sat down at the table and placed a napkin on her lap.
As Miranda had sat at the head of the table Andy had to sit at Miranda's right.
"There's everything that I could think of," Miranda waved her hand over the table. "A picnic if you like."
Andy's eyes lit up.
"Tuck in then," Miranda encouraged.
Andy looked at Miranda with soulful eyes. "Miranda " she began softly.
"Let's just eat and then we can talk about anything you like," Miranda reached out and placed her hand on top of Andy's.
Andy visibly stiffened and Miranda withdrew her hand at once.
"Sorry," she apologised quickly.
"No, it's it was fine," Andy reached out and took hold of Miranda's fingers. "It was really fine."
They ate in silence at first and then Andy struck up conversation about Elodie and Miranda became very animated in a way that Andy had never witnessed before.
She raved on and on about what a talent Elodie was and she was going to make it her mission to get her a set at Paris fashion week.
Andy almost choked on her food at that but managed to regain her composure as she coughed delicately into a napkin.
"You really think she's that good?" Andy asked in amazement.
Miranda rolled her eyes. "I know that to you they are just dresses but to anyone with a trained eye they are thrilling."
"Ah," Andy nodded. "I don't think that they're just dresses. I like them."
"Good," Miranda said sweetly and then popped a black olive into her mouth. "More wine?"
Andy weighed it up in her head, two glasses before she came out the house and now two here. She was going to be drunk and when she was drunk she got
Miranda filled Andy's glass and then her own.
"Where are the girls?" Andy asked.
"They're with their father. Caroline has decided that she wants to play basketball so he's taking her to meet a woman from work whose daughter plays on a team. Most unflattering for a woman," Miranda almost spat in distaste. "I wonder where I went wrong," it was said in jest but Andy still felt that she had to defend Caroline.
"It's good that Caroline is interested in sports."
Miranda eyed her sardonically. "I agree."
"It's who I am," Miranda waved her hand. "You expect me to disapprove of everything and so I do."
"That's not true," Andy said delicately. "And you don't have to play up to that image with me."
"Isn't it? I am the Devil of the fashion world am I not?"
Andy sighed to fill the silence that was created by her reluctance to answer the question.
"See, you agree."
"I don't," Andy said. "I saw a different side of you in Paris and then you blew the shit out of that with what you did to Nigel."
"You thought I was vulnerable," Miranda said.
"You were vulnerable and I would have been there to support you but you gave a knee jerk reaction and stuck it to poor Nigel instead of taking out your hurt on your husband you took it out on someone else," Andy felt her cheeks redden.
"You've psycho-analysed me," Miranda observed.
"I was your assistant and spent every waking minute with you. I know you, Miranda," Andy laid down her napkin and leaned back in her seat and changed the subject. "I'm soooo full of food."
Miranda gave a small laugh. "Shall we go inside? It's getting a bit chilly."
Andy picked up her wine glass and followed the older woman.
They pulled the sofa around so that it was facing out of the doors and they could look out on the night sky.
The silence was companionable and more comfortable than many of the silences that Andy had with her closest friends.
"What I did in Paris I did for a number of reasons," Miranda began. "I could not lose Runway; I could not lose everything that was associated with Runway."
"Associated?" Andy looked confused.
"Yes," Miranda said. "When you have given your entire life to building something it's scary to think that could be snatched away from you by one, insipid, conniving woman. I was not going to let anyone destroy what I had created."
"You created a monster in the process," Andy mumbled.
"That may be so but do you know why people call me a monster?"
Andy turned her face to look at Miranda's profile, intrigued with what was going to come out of her mouth.
"They call me a monster because I choose to tell the truth; they do it because I make the difficult decisions that other people do not wish to make."
"Everyone makes difficult decisions," Andy interjected. "But everyone doesn't cause hurt to others with their words."
"When did I ever hurt you with words?" Miranda looked wounded.
Andy guffawed. "Tales of your incompetence do not interest me," she waved her hand through the air, mimicking Miranda perfectly.
"Had you been incompetent?"
"Then why would the truth hurt you unless you can't take constructive criticism?"
"Indeed," Andy relented.
"If I was so terrible then why did you stay?" Miranda quirked an eyebrow as she took a drink of her wine.
"I stayed " Andy stopped and thought. Why had she stayed as long as she did? "I stayed because you were the only person that ever challenged me to be the very best that I could be."
Miranda smiled. "And is that a bad thing?"
Andy shook her head.
"Then you have learned the first rule of survival and quickly."
"It's all about survival, dog eat dog," Miranda reached behind and switched off the lamp, descending the room into darkness apart from the moonlight that streaked through the open doors.
Andy felt her heart begin to race.
Miranda rested her head against the back of the sofa and turned to gaze at Andy.
"If I had lost Runway, who knows what else I would have lost?" Miranda's voice was husky with sentiment.
"You would have lost nothing else," Andy assured her.
"That day that you left I had everything planned," Miranda said. "I was going to take you to dinner that evening and tell you how I felt about you. That I wanted us to move into something more than Boss and assistant but you ruined it. You slept with that odious man and then found your morals without consulting me and ran off and left me."
"I was "
"You were foolish," Miranda interrupted. "If you had allowed me the chance to explain "
"How do you know that I slept with someone?" Andy asked suddenly.
"I had to look at his stupid, miserable face for the entire trip. Eventually, I went over to him and told him that if he went near you again I would have Well let's just say he wouldn't be sleeping with anyone else."
"You threatened him?" Andy asked in disbelief.
"He used you."
"I used him!"
"You were foolish," Miranda repeated.
"That may have been so but you had no right to involve yourself in that."
They sat in silence while Andy digested all of the new information.
"You were going to tell me how you felt about me?" Andy's face lit up as she recalled Miranda's words.
"How did you feel about me?" Andy ventured.
"I I was very attached to you," Miranda said stiffly and there was a glimpse of the ice queen.
Another silence and then, "How do you feel about me now?"
Miranda inhaled heavily. "Right now I think that you're the most beautiful woman that I've ever seen."
Andy's heart raced and her cheeks flushed. "Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you."
They shared a look that was full of affection before Miranda quickly drained the last of her wine and stood up.
"Another glass?" she went to the table but Andy leapt up and followed her.
She slid her arms around Miranda's waist and took the wine bottle from her hand.
"I don't want you to get drunk."
"Really? It's probably the best way," Miranda was almost churlish but her voice quivered at Andy's touch.
Slowly and deliberately Andy turned Miranda around to face her.
"Why me?" she asked.
"I've no idea," Miranda admitted. "You had an effect on me like no one I'd ever known before."
"I feel the same about you."
"At least we agree on something," Miranda laughed and as she did so Andy pressed her mouth against Miranda's. She felt teeth against her tongue and Miranda stopped laughing. The next thing she knew she was caught up in a tight embrace, her body pressed against Miranda's, their mouths moving in perfect synchronicity to produce a kiss that made Andy's knees go weak.
Andy pulled away first, gasping for breath.
"Wow!" Miranda exclaimed.
Andy nodded and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "That was mind blowing."
"I've never known a kiss like it," Miranda admitted.
She walked unsteadily back to the sofa and collapsed on to it, resting her forearm over her eyes.
Andy took one look at the older woman and felt every horny hormone in her body surge.
She went to Miranda and straddled her.
Miranda removed the arm from her eyes and smiled at Andy. "What are you doing?"
"Something that we should have done a long time ago," she slid her hand to the back of Miranda's head and brought their mouths crashing together again.
This kiss was full of pent up passion, it was telling of desire that had lain dormant for too long.
Miranda was whimpering every time Andy's tongue stroked the inside of her mouth and Andy felt exhilarated by the new found power she had over this Titan.
Miranda's hands suddenly found a life of their own and manoeuvred their way to Andy's ass and gripped it tightly.
Another delighted gasp escaped Miranda's mouth as she felt Andy's ass cheeks clench at her touch.
Andy pulled away from the kiss and put her mouth to Miranda's ear.
"You are so fucking sexy," she whispered. "Do you know the thoughts that I used to have when you wore that short, black Gucci skirt to work? I wanted to slide my hand up your calf and under that fabric to find the skin not covered by your stockings."
Miranda gasped as Andy nibbled her ear lobe. "I wanted to bend you over that desk of yours and tear that fucking skirt off your beautiful body."
Miranda began to shake. "Andrea," she whispered. "Is that the alcohol talking?"
"Perhaps," Andy replied and pulled back to look into Miranda's eyes. "You make me so horny."
Miranda's lips curled into a smile. "You make me horny."
Without another word Andy began to unbutton the shirt that Miranda was wearing.
"Is this not a little fast for you?" Miranda caught hold of Andy's hands.
Andy faltered but only for a second. "Not at all, in fact I'm taking my time."
Miranda looked at Andy's elegant hands in her own and pressed the palm of her right hand to her mouth for a kiss.
Andy's body released a small spasm at the tender contact.
"Take your time," Miranda encouraged and leaned back putting her hands behind her head.
Andy did not hesitate, she finished unbuttoning the shirt and her hands gratefully made contact with soft, white skin.
Miranda closed her eyes and relaxed into the caress.
A second later Andy had captured Miranda's mouth with her own and hands delved inside silky underwear to find hard peaks standing to attention.
"Oh my God," Miranda let out a loud groan as Andy's fingers brushed her nipples.
"I wouldn't have thought that you would be sexually submissive," Andy said as she looked at Miranda who was completely under her control. "I'm quite surprised."
"Your turn will come," Miranda promised and then sucked in her breath as Andy bit at her nipple through the fabric that still contained her breasts.
"It might come sooner than you think," Miranda mumbled.
Andy smiled as she stood up and pulled Miranda to her feet.
"Are you promising me pleasure beyond my wildest dreams?" Andy pulled Miranda to her in a tender embrace.
"I'll promise you anything if you promise to never leave me again."
Andy pushed Miranda to arms length and searched her face for any sign of insincerity.
There was none.
"You're serious," Andy said.
"I've never been more serious about anything in my life," Miranda replied.
Andy felt her own hands moving towards the buttons on Miranda's trousers, her hands unfastened the belt and dropped it to the floor.
She then tore off the white shirt and made quick work of the silk bra.
Before her, Miranda Priestley stood, top naked with her button down fly open and her underwear exposed.
"Oh God," Andy breathed. "You look incredible."
Miranda responded by whipping Andy's top straight over her head and tossing it to one side.
"Now you look incredible," she said.
They pushed their body's together, skin against skin Andy thought that she was going to die of pleasure.
I'm going to die of arousal Andy thought.
Miranda was trailing her tongue from Andy's navel up her torso and Andy thought that she might come from this contact alone.
"I want to taste you," Miranda whispered and gently laid Andy down on the floor.
It was there beneath the moonlight that Andy had her first orgasm that required no assistance from her.
Miranda Priestley opened her eyes and felt something tickling her nose.
There was a weight pressing on her chest, at first she was confused but then the events of the previous evening came flooding back to her and she smiled broadly.
She gently attempted to slide out from beneath Andrea to go to the bathroom but Andy was awake and grabbed Miranda's hand.
"I was listening to your heart beating," Andy murmured.
Miranda smiled again, content that Andrea could not see the joy on her face.
"I really need to go to the bathroom," Miranda whispered.
With a begrudging sigh Andy lifted her head, released her grip on Miranda's hand and rolled to the other side of the huge bed but turned her head so she could see Miranda's beautiful, naked body disappear into the other room.
"I don't have to leave straight away do I?" Andy called.
Miranda felt her heart leap in panic as she flushed the loo and washed her hands.
"Leave?" she reappeared in the bedroom with a bemused expression on her face. "Why would you want to leave?"
Andy was facing away from Miranda now, lying on her stomach with her bare ass exposed. "I just thought that " Andy trailed off.
Miranda climbed back on to the bed and ran her hands over Andy's curves.
"You thought what?" Miranda removed her hands from Andy's skin and then trailed her lips down Andy's spine.
"I don't know," Andy admitted softly as she felt her own pulse quicken with Miranda's touch. "I just didn't imagine you to be a cuddler the morning after the night before."
Miranda did not reply, instead she made soft circular motions on Andy's butt cheeks with her tongue.
"I was right," Andy gasped after a while. "You're not a cuddler."
"I could be if you wanted me to be," Miranda said throatily.
"No, no, what you're doing is just fine," Andy dug her fingernails into the pillow as Miranda's tongue sent her senses into a tailspin.
As Miranda wove magic over Andy's body Andy buckled beneath the older woman and when Miranda flipped Andy on to her back and began to stimulate Andy's stomach it was too much for Andy to bear.
"Oh God, you have to stop!" Andy gasped.
"Why?" Miranda whispered.
"Because because because if it's possible to die of pleasure then I'm going to peg out right about now," Andy's voice shook as she said, 'now.'
Miranda immediately increased the ferocity of her licking and Andy heard herself growl and then used every ounce of strength she had to push Miranda down on to her back and straddle the older woman.
"It's your turn to take," she said hotly. "Now lie back and see how you like it," Andy leaned down and bit into Miranda's neck. "I've waited for this for too long," Andy whispered between kisses and bites as Miranda threw back her head to allow Andy better access to the sensitive skin. "I've thought about running my tongue down your throat and hearing you moan."
And at this Miranda did moan, gently at first until Andy swatted her tongue behind Miranda's ear and then Miranda arched her back and wailed.
Andy smiled and noted that as a sensual spot for future reference.
This was the most wonderful experience of her life up to now. She thought that nothing could be better than last night but since moving into Miranda's bedroom, falling asleep in her arms, waking up laying against her chest and this moment now, everything was just perfect.
Andy was smiling broadly as she planted kisses on Miranda's soft stomach.
"Are you smiling?" Miranda caught her fingers in Andy's hair and pulled Andy up so she could look at her face.
"Maybe," Andy blushed as Miranda laughed and with each chuckle Andy moved her kisses higher up to Miranda's breasts until Miranda was not laughing any more but gasping in pleasure.
"You're too young to be so good at this," Miranda mumbled.
"Well," Andy said quietly. "You know what they say."
Miranda lifted her head momentarily and met Andy's gaze, arching an eyebrow.
"Only a woman knows what a woman wants," Andy stuck out her tongue and Miranda watched as Andy moved up to capture Miranda's lips.
It was six months later.
Six glorious months that was ending in misery.
Andy felt sick; this was the side of journalism that she despised.
The part where you were never safe and anyone would sell a story to make a quick buck.
"Andy, are you OK?" Helena from current affairs pushed all of the newspapers that covered Andy's desk into the bin and then perched herself in front of Andy.
"How did they know?" Andy whispered.
Helena shrugged. "People are always watching, some little punk just got lucky. It's not like you shouldn't be allowed to the leave the house."
Andy looked up at Helena tearfully. "The first time in six months that we go out to celebrate my birthday and this happens."
Helena patted her shoulder. "What did Miranda say?"
Andy let out a tight laugh. "She's freaking out, as much as Miranda ever freaks out. She's worried about the girls really."
Helena nodded in her usual understanding way that Andy had become accustomed to in the past few months. "Ed's willing to give you a slot to write a reply if you want to."
"I'm going to have to go and speak to Miranda," Andy said, suddenly feeling an urge to be with her girlfriend so that Miranda could tell her that everything was going to be OK and not to worry about anything. She stood up and picked up her jacket. "Can you cover for me?"
"Sure," Helena gave her a swift hug. "Anyway, lesbians are cool so don't worry about it."
Andy smiled dolefully. "I doubt that Miranda will think that."
Andy walked to Elias-Clarke in a daze. Even getting to Miranda's office was surreal and when she arrived there things were made worse by Emily not being rude to her.
"She's in there," Emily pointed to the private meeting room.
Andy opened the door and stumbled in dumbly.
Miranda was sitting at the head of the table, either side of her were two lawyers, a woman from PR and Nigel.
"Andrea," Miranda waved her in. "We were just discussing damage limitation."
Andy opened her mouth to speak, closed it again and then sat down next to Nigel.
"So," PR lady began. "What we're thinking is that we deny everything and say that you were taking Miss Sachs out for her birthday because she's an ex-employee that you have stayed in touch with since the fashion shoot for Elodie. We claim that the picture of you kissing in the back of the car is a fake and that it's not you and the quality is too grainy to prove otherwise."
"Hang on a second," Andy interrupted. "I'm not denying anything."
"Andrea," Miranda started but Andy cut her off.
"If you lot wouldn't mind I would like to speak to MY GIRLFRIEND in private for a moment."
Everyone exchanged a look and then looked at Miranda.
"Andrea," Miranda tried again.
"That means get the fuck out of the room," Andy's voice was dangerously low, a tactic that she had picked up from Miranda.
Nigel was first to move, and first to recognise that the situation was about to explode. Andy may have turned Miranda a little bit soft but Miranda had also toughened up Andy and that was not a good combination when they were at loggerheads.
When they were alone Andy moved to take up the seat next to Miranda.
"You want to deny this?" she whispered. "Why?"
"Andrea this is complicated," Miranda rubbed her eyes wearily. "I need to think about the girls."
"Miranda, the girls know about us! They're not stupid."
Miranda looked at her sharply but did not deny it.
"What happened to treating this with a dignified silence? That's what you said at breakfast this morning," Andy's eyes were soulful.
"That was before I got here and the media circus began," Miranda muttered. "My poor girls can't be put through this again."
Andy recognised the vulnerability in Miranda's voice.
"If you treat us as if you think it's wrong then everyone will make it wrong," Andy knew that her tone was pleading. She knew that Miranda wanted to do what was right for everyone but there was no overall right thing to do in this situation.
"I can't drag them into this lifestyle and their father would "
"Stuff him!" Andy banged her fist on to the conference table and Miranda jumped. "I love you Miranda and I want us to be together, don't you dare deny us."
"I.. I just," Miranda was lost for words.
Andy played her trump card. "You made me promise to never leave you again but now you're turning your back on us!"
"Andrea, that's unfair!"
"NO, no it's not! Where's that Miranda Priestley fighting spirit?"
Miranda suddenly appeared to find herself again.
"Andrea, this is my decision to make and I have decided that we will deny everything."
Andy felt her heart slip, she felt dizzy, like the world was falling away from her. She got to her feet with as much determination as her shaky limbs would allow.
"Then I won't stand around on the sidelines to be your dirty little secret, fuck buddy!"
The last thing that Andy saw before she crashed out of the meeting room was Miranda's open mouth.
"You ask her."
"No, you ask her."
"You're her favourite."
"Shut up, no I'm not!"
"Is she awake?"
"Girls," Miranda drawled. "How could I not be awake with your relentless yabbering?" she smiled and opened one eye to see two expectant pairs of blue eyes gazing at her.
"Mom," Cassidy said her youthful face full of seriousness. "We heard you crying again last night."
Caroline picked up a photograph of herself, her sister and Andy and showed it to Miranda. "You were looking at this again weren't you?"
Miranda closed her eyes again.
"Mom, why don't you just be friends with Andy again?"
"It's not that simple," Miranda said softly.
"No," Caroline snapped sarcastically. "Drinking and crying is much simpler."
Miranda's eyes flew open. "What did you just say?"
"You heard," Caroline's eyes flashed defiantly. "I would rather you were with Andy and happy that not with Andy and a crying, pathetic drunk!"
Miranda was stunned into silence but then she turned to look at Cassidy.
"Yep, what she just said."
Miranda sat up and held her arms out to the girls.
They climbed willingly on to the bed and under each arm. Miranda kissed both of their heads then said; "what would all of your little friends say?"
Caroline shrugged. "When it was first in the papers Riley Jordan called you a dyke and Cassidy gave him the sweetest uppercut I've ever seen."
In spite of herself Miranda laughed then said seriously. "I don't condone the use of violence."
Cassidy laughed. "He deserved it."
"So," Caroline became co-ordinator. "Are you going to call Andy?"
Miranda was quiet for a moment and then whispered. "I've hurt her very badly and we haven't spoken for almost a month. She might not want to talk to me."
"Send her flowers," Caroline suggested.
"I think it will take more than flowers this time," Miranda squeezed her daughter.
"Send her a singing telegram," Cassidy said.
Miranda smiled. "What would he sing?"
"I will always love you by Whitney Houston!" Caroline leapt off the bed and gave a loud but tuneful rendition of the chorus.
"Or," Cassidy joined her sister. "How do I live, by Leann Rimes."
The twins gave another chorus and Miranda watched them in utter adoration.
"Both wonderful suggestions," Miranda said as the girls scrambled back on to the bed and into her arms. "I think that it will take even more than that though."
"I can't believe that you messed things up this badly," Cassidy mumbled. "And now we have to clean up the mess."
Miranda sighed. "I really did mess up didn't I?"
"Yep," Caroline said brightly. "But we're going to help you."
"Well, that's very comforting," Miranda said. "Now, don't we have to get dressed?"
"We don't want to go to piano today," Cassidy said.
"Oh really?" Miranda narrowed her eyes. "Why not?"
"We think that you need to go and get Andy back," Caroline said decisively.
"I don't think that's going to happen in a day, girls," Miranda threw back the blankets and went into the bathroom.
Caroline peered into the adjoining room then waved earnestly at her sister.
Cassidy dashed across the room and picked up her mother's purse.
"Get the American Express card," Caroline hissed.
Cassidy rifled through the purse and then grinned.
Caroline went to the bathroom door. "Mom, we're just going to finish off some homework before we go to piano."
"Fine!" Miranda called.
"Quick," Caroline yanked her sister down the corridor to the den.
Once there she closed the door firmly and went to her desk, flipping open her laptop.
"What shall we get?" Cassidy huddled over her sister's shoulder.
"Roses of course," Caroline muttered. "A hundred."
"That will cost a fortune," Cassidy looked scared. "Mom, will freak out."
"Do you want Andy to come back or not?" Caroline snapped.
"Yes!" Cassidy barked back.
"Well then, a hundred red roses is a start."
Cassidy watched as Caroline ordered the roses online then hesitated as the website requested a message for the card.
"What shall we say?" Caroline drummed her fingers thoughtfully on the desk.
"We have to make it sound like mom," Cassidy said.
Caroline snorted. "I thought you wanted Andy to come back."
"Mom's not that bad," Cassidy mumbled.
"She's only got better since Andy came on the scene and they started, you know," Caroline fidgeted.
The two girls fell silent as they thought about what to write on the card.
"Should we do some sort of love quote or something?" Cassidy mumbled?
"Pah! Mom would never do that," Caroline said and then a wicked smile appeared on her face and she began to type.
Cassidy peered over her shoulder and then laughed. "Oh yeah that's good," she enthused.
Miranda stood and stared at her face in the mirror. Lines were deepening and telling of her age, an age where she should know better than to fall in love with someone half her age. But what upset Miranda more was that she was old enough to know better than to let that love go.
Since Andy had walked out of her conference room four weeks ago she had not been in touch.
Miranda handled the media aftermath with a dignified silence, hoping that Andy would call but she had not.
The girl was insufferably stubborn but so was Miranda and now too much time had elapsed for her to call and say, 'hey Andrea, didn't you see that I did what I said originally? I was silent and I didn't deny us at all.'
If she did that now it would look ridiculous.
Sighing heavily Miranda ran the water and began to wash.
Andy was rigorously cleaning the wood flooring in her apartment.
It was now the cleanest apartment in the State since she had charged out of Miranda's office a month ago.
Cleaning her apartment was like cleaning her life out, but the pain hadn't disappeared yet and neither had the stains on the wood flooring.
"God, damn it!" Andy raged and slammed her palm against the flooring.
She wiped her head with the back of her other hand and then lay back and stared at the ceiling.
She was angry, Miranda had not denied their relationship at all but neither had she contacted Andy to talk about their relationship and Andy was still in the mindset that Miranda owed her an apology for even considering denying them at all.
Andy was devastated that Miranda had not called her but for the past few weeks she had been running on the fumes of rage. As time went on Andy missed Miranda more and more and she missed the girls too.
She had even considered going to one of their softball matches to watch them play but then decided against it.
If it was over then there was no point in dragging the situation on for the girls.
The fumes of rage were running out and all Andy wanted to do was turn up at Miranda's house and have the older woman hold her tight.
She missed the way that looking into Miranda's eyes could convince her that anything was possible.
A tear slid down the side of her head and landed on the floor.
"Fuck you Miranda Priestley," she muttered and rolled over to begin scrubbing again.
"Hey Reg," the girls climbed into the Mercedes.
"Hello ladies," Reg smiled. "Piano today?"
"Yes," Caroline saw Miranda watching out of the window of the Townhouse. "If you start driving so mom doesn't get suspicious then we will tell you our plan to get Andy back."
Reg did as he was told and pulled out into the traffic.
"Do you think it's a good idea for you two to get involved in this?" he asked.
"Of course!" Caroline shrieked. "Those two are too stubborn to do it themselves and mom was an idiot to let Andy leave. You have to help us."
"I'm not sure that you should do anything?" Reg looked in his rear view mirror but recognised the look of determination in two sets of blue eyes.
"Fine," he muttered. "But if I get fired you have to find me a new job."
"Deal," Cassidy grinned. "You won't get fired though because mom and Andy will be sooooo happy to be back together."
"What's the plan then?" Reg smiled.
"Well, we've got mom's American Express card "
"Relax," Cassidy waved her hand. "We've ordered a hundred red roses to be delivered to Andy's house and then "
"A hundred, that's not a lot really," Caroline interjected.
"It will cost a fortune," Reg felt weak at the thought of that amount of money that the girls had such disregard for.
"Well mom deserves to pay," Cassidy mumbled.
"So what do you want me to do?" Reg asked.
"Drive us to Andy's instead of piano," Caroline smiled sweetly.
"And what are you going to do when you get to Andy's house?"
"Tell her that she has to come back because mom's turning into a drunk without her," Cassidy was only half joking.
"We're going to have a sit in," Caroline said. "Then mom will have to come and get us."
"That sounds like a plan that's going to make me get fired," Reg said.
Cassidy nudged her sister. "That's not our plan at all. We just want to talk to her."
"And what happens when your piano teacher rings your mother to say that you didn't turn up for your lesson?" Reg asked, taking the route towards piano anyway.
"She can't answer if she hasn't got her phone," Caroline gleefully held up Miranda's cell phone.
"You stole her phone and her American Express?" Reg looked horrified.
"It's only for an hour or two," Caroline sounded far too relaxed about their recent kleptomania for Reg's liking.
"Your mother will be looking all over for that and besides Mrs Lynch will probably call the house."
Caroline and Cassidy traded a look. "She won't get through."
"We accidentally cut the wire," Cassidy was beginning to realise that her sister had completely led her astray.
"Mom can easily get it fixed," Caroline looked out of the window. "This isn't the way to Andy's house."
"That's because you're going to piano and I'm going to take your mother's phone back to her."
"You said that you would help," Caroline wailed.
"Not if it gets me fired and this will get me fired."
Caroline folded her arms and pouted.
They rode the rest of the way to piano in silence.
"Give me the phone," Reg said and held his hand out to Caroline.
She handed over the phone that had already rang three times.
"OK, I will be back in two hours and you two had better be here," Reg warned.
"I honestly thought that you liked Andy and wanted mom to be happy," Caroline glared at him as she got out of the car and stepped on to the kerb.
"I do want your mom to be happy."
"You could have fooled me," Caroline slammed the door and the two girls headed into the building.
Reg sighed and wondered how he was going to explain to Miranda that the girls had her phone.
Andy had just finished cleaning her doors when the bell rang.
"What the hell?" Andy stomped to the front door and wrenched it open.
"Yes," she snapped.
"These are for you," the delivery guy held out a huge bouquet of red roses.
"Oh, thanks," Andy furrowed her brow as she signed for the roses.
"Someone loves you," the delivery guy grinned. "Lucky you."
"Hmm," Andy mumbled and then closed the door.
She put the roses on the kitchen table and then opened the card.
"I want you back in my life that's all."
Andy smiled for the first time in weeks; she turned the envelope over and looked at her name Andy Sachs.
Pursing her lips Andy immediately suspected foul play.
Miranda never called her Andy, not even in their most intimate moments.
She always called her Andrea, but after a while had stopped saying it with the French flair that she had once attached to Andy's proper name.
"I suspect twins," Andy muttered.
"What are we going to do now?" Cassidy asked her sister.
"I'm thinking," Caroline said.
"Let's just go to piano," Cassidy walked to the elevator and pressed the button.
"Are you giving up?" Caroline growled.
"No but there's nothing we can do now. We can't get to Andy's house and Reg is right. Mrs Lynch will ring mom and tell her that we didn't turn up," Cassidy hated being the voice of reason but it was true.
"I can't believe you," Caroline bellowed.
"Just wait and see what happens when Andy gets the flowers," Cassidy looked at her watch. "They will be there by now, what with you paying an extra $20 for same morning delivery."
"You're such a goody two shoes," Caroline said heatedly as they got into the elevator and rode up to the twentieth floor.
"One of us has to be," Cassidy mumbled.
"That's why you're mom's favourite," Caroline banged loudly on Mrs Lynch's door.
"Hello girls," Mrs Lynch smiled at them. "Are you excited for your lesson?"
"Yes," Cassidy smiled at their piano teacher as Caroline charged past her angrily.
Andy paced the kitchen wondering how the girl's had managed to pull this off. They were both very resourceful but Andy doubted that they had marched into a florist and managed to order a hundred red roses and pay for them with their allowance.
Perhaps she should call Miranda and let her know what was going on.
Andy picked up her cell phone and flicked to Miranda's number. She hesitated and then decided to send a text message instead of speaking to Miranda.
Hi Miranda. I received a hundred
red roses this morning, courtesy of
u but I suspect that they weren't
really from u at all. U might want
to speak with the girls. A.
As she pressed send Andy wondered what Miranda would do.
All of those roses would have cost a fortune.
The girls would be paying Miranda back for the rest of the year.
Andy looked at the roses and then decided that putting them in water would be a good idea, if she could find a vase big enough.
Miranda was surprised to see Reg standing on the stoop when she went to answer the door.
"Hi, Mrs Priestley, I found this in the car and thought you might need it," Reg handed over the cell phone.
"I've been looking all over for that," Miranda looked gratefully at him.
"It must have fallen out of your bag last night."
"Yes," Miranda said but Reg knew that she was certain that had not happened at all.
"Well, I'll be going," Reg walked back to the car, feeling Miranda watching him the whole way her eyes penetrating his back like lasers.
Miranda closed the door and looked at her phone.
Three missed calls and one text message.
She opened the text message and froze when she saw Andrea's name pop up.
Miranda hesitated, wondering what Andrea could want after all this time.
Miranda pressed the button and Andrea's text was open.
"Those little " Miranda muttered after she read the message.
Her fingers flew across the buttons as she replied.
Thanks. I will sort it. M.
Miranda wondered if she should put a kiss but then decided against it. That wasn't something that she usually did anyway so she did not know why the urge had appeared now.
Heading upstairs Miranda went straight to her purse.
"My American Express card is gone," she said after a moment's searching.
Those two little terrors were in so much trouble now.
Andy was still sorting the roses when Miranda's text came through.
She read it and felt disappointed. Miranda had not asked how she was or anything.
She held the phone against her chin and then sent a text back.
Miranda was sitting at Caroline's laptop looking through the websites that she had been on that day when Andy's text came through.
How have u been?
Miranda read the text and wondered what to say.
Should she tell the truth?
I've been dying without you.
Please come back.
Or, should she lie and say that she was fine?
This was all so confusing.
Miranda sighed and put the phone down.
She could not think of an adequate reply right now, she had just spotted how much one hundred roses had cost her.
"I hate piano," Caroline mumbled as she and Cassidy entered the Townhouse to a waiting Miranda.
"Girls," Miranda greeted them.
"Hey mom," Caroline said brightly. "You OK?"
"Oh, I'm fine," but the girl's recognised the tone at once.
"You don't sound fine," Caroline began heading up the stairs.
"I can assure you that I'm fine," Miranda watched as Caroline continued up the stairs but Cassidy was rooted to the spot in fear.
"Great," Caroline was pretending not to be worried but inside she was panicking. She knew that when Miranda stood with her legs apart and arms folded that they were for the high jump.
She went into the den to get her laptop and then stopped suddenly at the door.
"Um where's my laptop?"
"Oh, I sold it on eBay!" Miranda called back.
Caroline reappeared at the top of the stairs. "You what?"
"See, I had this $500 bill and "
"Oh no!" Cassidy fell against the door and looked up at her sister. "I told you it was a bad idea!"
"Shut up!" Caroline shouted at her sister. "You can't sell my laptop."
"What about mine?" Cassidy asked.
"Yours too," Miranda spun around and headed to the kitchen.
"You didn't really sell them on eBay did you?" Caroline yelled.
Miranda did not answer.
"Mom!" Miranda heard Caroline stomping down the stairs and following her.
"Caroline, at what point did you think that I was going to let you get away with spending $500 on red roses?"
Caroline stopped suddenly and Cassidy who had been trailing behind crashed into her sister's back.
"Hmm?" Miranda continued her interrogation.
"We were trying to help," Caroline said hotly.
Miranda rubbed her forehead with her fingertips then looked at her daughters.
"Give me back my American Express card," she held out her hand.
Not surprisingly it was Caroline that retrieved the card from her jean pocket and slapped it into Miranda's waiting palm.
"This is a situation that you can't help with. I know that you both want to but even I don't know what to do," Miranda confessed.
"Well at least we did something, something is better than nothing!" Caroline was getting angry now. "I don't understand why grown ups are so stupid."
"Me neither," Cassidy piped up.
Miranda knew that they were correct. Sometimes children were much more logical than grown ups, however right now she did not want to admit that her almost teenage daughters were wiser than she was.
"Go and get changed and washed, your father will be here to pick you up in twenty minutes."
"I don't want to go to dads," Caroline screamed and flounced out of the kitchen. "I hate that stupid woman Carmen, she calls me Cazza and I want to punch her. She's ugly and has a stupid laugh and massive boobs and dad just stares at them all the time. I hate going to dads and I want Andy back. She was much nicer than Carmen, stupid thick Carmen that is dumb as a box of frogs but has a nice ass. I swear to fucking God I will "
Miranda did not hear what Caroline would do because the girl had gone upstairs and slammed her bedroom door, then there was a lot of crashing and banging and Miranda was faced with only her mild-mannered daughter.
"She's not taking the break up well," Cassidy offered in a serious tone but Miranda knew she was making a joke.
"What can I do?" Miranda threw up her hands.
"Pull your finger out of your ass and make an effort for once in your life," and with that Cassidy ran out of the room at top speed and up the stairs.
Miranda felt ganged up on and wondered when her daughter's had developed such filthy mouths.
They were right of course bad language or not. No one was taking the break up well. The girls had coped easier when Miranda had called it a day with their father but she suspected that this was because they were tired of the constant arguments and bickering that went on. With Andy there had been none of that, with Andy there were only happy memories.
Suddenly there was shouting and yelling upstairs and Miranda dashed up to Caroline's room.
"What on Earth is going on?"
"I'm venting!" Caroline screamed and threw a teddy bear across the room.
"Venting?" Miranda stared at her daughter that appeared temporarily insane.
"She needs to do it before she sees Carmen or she's going to pop her fake, fucking tits and bite out her ass implants," Cassidy fell about laughing and then all of a sudden Caroline started laughing and before she knew it Miranda was laughing.
"No more bad language. Is she really that bad?" Miranda asked when the three of them had managed to calm down slightly.
"She's bloody awful," Caroline said and began stuffing clothes into a holdall.
"I don't like you swearing," Miranda said sternly. "If I hear you say fuck one more time you're going to be grounded."
"Sorry," Caroline mumbled. "You say it."
"When do I say it?" Miranda asked.
"You used to say it when you and Andy were alone together," Caroline looked up from wicked eyes. "Although, it sounded more like fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck."
Cassidy burst out laughing at how red their mother went.
"That's that's " Miranda stuttered.
"It's OK mom. We're not stupid," Cassidy assured her. "Caroline's just being mean because you've taken away her laptop. You haven't really put them on eBay have you?" she asked as an afterthought.
Miranda shook her head and then put her hands to her flushed face. "Hurry up and get ready," she said in a voice that was barely a whisper.
As she got into the corridor she heard Cassidy say, "You didn't have to tell her that we heard them doing it."
Caroline's voice replied; "she deserved it and anyway, if we make her think about the fun that they had together then she might get her ass in gear and go and get Andy back. She never wailed like that with Stephen."
"She doesn't know how to get her back," Cassidy was sad.
"Well, if we had our laptops we could Google it. How to woo back your lover," Caroline zipped up her holdall. "You need to pack, we'll use dads computer when we get there."
"Isn't Carmen taking us swimming at her big titted ladies Country Club?" Cassidy asked.
Miranda stifled a laugh.
"I fucking hope not," Caroline raged. "I hate that woman. Maybe we should try and get Andy and dad together," Caroline sounded ponderous.
Miranda sucked in her cheeks. The thought of anyone else touching Andy turned her stomach.
"Yeah," Cassidy said thoughtfully. "But what about Carmen?"
"We could drown her at the Country Club," Caroline suggested cheerfully.
"With those tits?" Cassidy scoffed. "She'd float."
Miranda stifled another laugh
"They are enormous aren't they? I mean at least mom had taste. I know she used to call Andy fat before they started doing it but Andy had a great body, all nicely proportioned like a woman should be. Andy would never get herself big tits like Carmen."
"Mom loved Andy," Cassidy began to pack her own holdall. "I mean she really loved her."
"She still loves her," Caroline said hotly. "I love her. I want her to come back. Mom was nice when Andy was around."
Miranda felt her heart skip a beat. She had never heard Caroline talk like that, she would believe it of Cassidy but not hard nosed Caroline.
"Maybe mom would let us see Andy," Cassidy said hopefully.
"I doubt it," Caroline mumbled. "Hurry up," she urged Cassidy. "Dad and Titty face will be here any moment."
Miranda quickly went downstairs and was just at the bottom when the doorbell rang.
"Hello," she greeted her ex-husband with a forced smile and then looked at his companion. "You must be Carmen. I've heard so many nice things about you," Miranda held out her hand graciously.
"Hello," Carmen smiled but all Miranda could stare at was the woman's enormous chest as she shook her hand.
The girl's were right, it was quite a spectacle.
"It really is an honour to meet you Ms Priestley," Carmen gushed.
"Honey," Jeremy said softly.
"Oh, I'm sure she doesn't mind," Carmen gave Miranda a dazzling smile. "I just love your magazine so much."
"Ah," Miranda nodded and forced a smile. She looked Carmen up and down. The woman looked like a 20 year old cheerleader, wearing black shorts that left nothing to the imagination and a white shirt with stiletto heels. Her hair was badly coloured and she appeared as though she had just stepped out of some sort of Hip-Hop music video.
Miranda found the ensemble ghastly. "Well I can see that you have " Miranda faltered as Carmen waited eagerly for a compliment that was delayed in its arrival. She was saved by the thunderous arrival of the girls.
"Hey girls," Carmen greeted them both in an annoying falsetto voice. "Are you ready to go swimming?"
Caroline muttered something unintelligible under her breath then kissed Miranda. "Bye mom."
"Bye," Miranda returned the kiss.
"Bye mom," Cassidy wrapped her arms around her mother's neck and then whispered in her ear. "I love you mom."
Miranda squeezed her tight and then kissed her. "I love you too."
"It was nice to meet you," Carmen smiled and followed the girls to the waiting car.
"Miranda," Jeremy gave her a solemn nod.
"She's delightful Jeremy, is she in college?" Miranda swiped.
"Is your girlfriend in college?" Jeremy arched an eyebrow?
"Oh no," Miranda retorted. "My girlfriend actually graduated, magna cum laude if I remember correctly."
"Goodbye Miranda," Jeremy mumbled and followed the girls.
He still could not win an argument with that woman.
Andy was pacing furiously.
Miranda had not replied to her text message at all.
Well that was it then wasn't it?
Miranda officially wanted nothing to do with her.
She could not even reply to a civil text message.
The rational part of Andy's brain encouraged her to consider all of the other things that could have taken up Miranda's time but the other less reasonable voice was saying 'how long does it take to text?'
The house phone ringing broke her thought pattern.
"Hi Andy," Lily's voice sang out.
"Elodie is having a barbecue tonight and we were wondering if you wanted to come," Lily sounded hopeful.
"I dunno," Andy twisted the telephone cord around her finger and her eyes fell on the roses and she felt sick.
"Oh come on," Lily urged. "You can't stay in your apartment forever. You need to move on, forget about Miranda."
"I'm trying Lily, honestly I am."
"Then come to the barbecue. It will be just the fun you need," Lily waited silently on the other end of the phone.
"What time?" Andy sighed.
Lily whooped. "Seven, see you at El's later."
Andy hung up the phone and looked around her spotless apartment.
Lily was right, she needed to get out.
This was getting beyond a joke.
Miranda wondered if it was possible to Google ways to win back your lover.
She went into her study and sat down at her computer.
Sure enough there were a tonne of websites that popped up with instructions about how to win back your lover.
Then she suddenly wondered how Andy had known the roses were not from her but from the girls.
How could she have known that?
She wondered what the girls had written on the card to indicate that the thoughtful roses were not from her.
Miranda had an overwhelming urge to see these roses. Not the recipient of them but the roses themselves.
She stood up and hunted for her keys praying that the girls had not stolen them also.
She found them and headed outside to the waiting car.
Andy had relaxed in the bath and was 99% certain that she no longer smelled like cleaning fluids.
In fact, she smelled clean in a soapy kind of way, not a 'burn your skin off' chemical way.
She wrapped a towel around her and started to comb her hair when the doorbell rang.
She decided to leave it but it rang again and again and then constantly.
"For " Andy muttered and walked to the door in her towel.
She pulled it open with the chain on and gawped.
"Andrea," Miranda looked pale and tired. "Is this a bad time?"
"If it's a bad time then I can come back," Miranda turned but Andy quickly removed the chain and opened the door.
"Come in," she said from behind the door. "I just didn't expect it to be you."
Miranda swallowed hard as she stepped over the threshold into Andy's apartment. For some reason she felt incredibly nervous.
The smell of cleanliness immediately hit her nostrils.
"Have you been cleaning?" Miranda asked.
"Incessantly," Andy replied in a mutter walked back into the apartment and Miranda followed her.
"Ah," she said when she spotted the roses on the dining room table. "These are the roses that cost me $500."
"Five hundred dollars?" Andy shrieked.
Miranda laughed softly. "My daughter's have apparently inherited my good taste," Miranda toyed with the stem of a rose and plucked it from the vase.
She held it out to Andy who blushed and took it.
"How did you know that I hadn't sent the roses?" Miranda asked quietly.
Andy smiled and held Miranda's gaze. "The card."
"Yes," Andy picked up the card and envelope that she had left next to the roses and handed them to Miranda. "See anything unusual?"
Miranda read the words and laughed. "That sure sounds like me."
"The envelope," Andy indicated.
Miranda read the name on the envelope. "I never call you Andy," she said softly. "That was how you knew."
Andy nodded. "They're good the twins but they're not that good."
"I met their father's new girlfriend today," Miranda changed the subject. "They hate her of course, love you, hate her, they call her Titty Face."
Andy let out a yelping laugh. "Titty Face?"
"Yes," Miranda said dryly. "I can't imagine why."
"What's she like?" Andy asked, imagining exactly why the girls called her Titty Face.
"Like a Hip-Hop video come to life. Terrible, terrible black shorts that just made her look like a slutty cheerleader."
"That's a bit harsh," Andy said but she was smiling.
"Perhaps she is," Miranda said distractedly. "You're dripping."
"Excuse me?" Andy felt her cheeks flush. How did Miranda know that?
"Your hair," Miranda said quickly. "Your hair is dripping."
Sure enough there was a patch around Andy's feet and it was as though they had both suddenly become very aware that Andy was almost naked. One slip of the towel and that would be it.
Miranda began to feel hot and took her jacket off.
"I should go and " Andy did not finish but disappeared and returned a few minutes later with her hair pinned up and a pair of pyjama bottoms and a vest top. Miranda made her nervous. It was ridiculous; they were still in love with each other. That was obvious to anyone.
"I didn't deny us," Miranda said from the sofa, where she had made herself comfortable.
"I know," Andy took up the chair opposite and crossed her legs in front of her.
"I maintained a dignified silence and eventually the parasites got bored and moved on," Miranda tossed her head angrily.
"Yes, thank God the Mayor got himself into that little scrape," Andy said. "Otherwise who knows how long it would have gone on for?"
Miranda gave a small smile at that.
Andy knew immediately what it meant.
"You tipped off the press about the Mayor," her hands flew to her face.
"They would have found out anyway," Miranda waved the comment away.
"Oh my God, you are "
"I am a trouble shooter at heart," Miranda said pointedly.
"Well, thank you for not making the relationship that we had appear sordid and wrong," Andy said softly. "Because I never felt that it was wrong."
Miranda looked directly into Andy's eyes. "Andrea, neither did I. I just needed time to think about things but you slammed out of the door without listening to me."
Andy felt anger sizzle. "I believe you said that it was your decision to make and that you wanted to deny everything."
"That was what I was thinking at that moment and then I realised that would be completely foolish. I'm Miranda Fucking Priestley for Gods sake. I don't care what people think of me."
"Yes, you do," Andy said stiffly.
"No, I don't and do you know why?"
"Because you have taught me that with age does not always come wisdom. Old people make stupid mistakes. You were the best thing that I had in my life apart from my girls and I made the mistake of not linking the two together. The girls miss you terribly," Miranda's voice broke.
"Do you miss me?"
Miranda looked up, her blue eyes shiny with tears that threatened to fall at any moment. "I have missed you more than I thought was possible."
Andy sighed but did not move and Miranda tossed her head and collected herself.
"I never thought that it would even cross your mind to deny us," Andy began.
"I fired that woman from PR, she put the idea in my head in the first place."
"That's not what I mean," Andy stood up and went to Miranda. "I thought that you were so confident and defiant that when people did find out you would just shrug your shoulders and tell them to piss off."
"I should have," Miranda conceded. "But I got in a panic about the girls. You were right by the way."
"They did know about us. I got a lovely impersonation of myself today courtesy of Caroline about how I sound when I swear when we make love."
Andy covered her mouth with her hand and hooted with laughter.
"They heard us?"
"Oh, not us. They heard me shouting fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!" Miranda threw herself back against the couch dramatically and pressed her hand to her forehead.
Andy laughed again.
"That's why Caroline now thinks it's OK to charge around the house swearing like a Redneck," Miranda shook her head to rid herself of the thoughts of how she was going to deal with her high-spirited daughter.
"Oh dear," Andy sympathised.
A silence resonated around the room for a moment before Miranda broke it with a bold question.
"Will you I mean do you think?"
Andy knew that sitting this close to Miranda had caused her youthful body to begin to respond physiologically to the gorgeous, older woman.
Andy unconsciously licked her lips and Miranda stared at them.
"Will I what?" Andy mused.
"Will you come back and be with a stupid old woman?"
Andy reached up and ran her fingertips down Miranda's cheek. "Will you be with me for real?"
"Yes," Miranda said in a small broken voice. "I want to be with you, for real. I will shout it from the top of the Empire State building if that's what you want."
Andy moved in and pressed her lips against Miranda's and Miranda let out a low moan.
A moment later Andy realised that her face was wet. She pulled away and looked at Miranda.
"Are you crying?"
"No," Miranda said and wiped at her face.
"Why are you crying?"
"I think it could be relief," Miranda pressed her forehead against Andy's and looked down at their fingers that had automatically entwined themselves when they began to kiss.
"I'm relieved too," Andy kissed Miranda's forehead and then tilted the older woman's face up so she could look into her eyes. "I thought that you were so stubborn that you wouldn't apologise."
"Yes," Andy said softly.
"Apologise for what?"
"For denying that we were together."
"I didn't deny that we were together," Miranda's eyes clouded as she frowned.
"I know but you were going to and that was why I walked out," Andy slowly took her hand out of Miranda's.
"I didn't deny us though. If anything you should be apologising to me for not coming back!"
"What!" Andy stared at her in amazement.
"You should have come and apologised for walking out before I had time to think about things properly."
Andy got up and put her hands on her hips. "Please tell me that you're kidding."
"No, why would I be kidding?" Miranda drawled the word.
"I don't believe you!" Andy laughed in spite of the situation.
"Well, I can't believe that you think you deserve an apology when it was you that stomped away like a teenager!"
"Stomped away like a teenager," Andy was enraged now. "What about you? Frightened of the media and what they would say."
"I was concerned for the girls," Miranda reminded Andy. "Not for myself and I was also concerned for you."
"Well I'm old enough to take care of myself, thanks," Andy snapped and walked to the other side of the coffee table. "Do you even understand why I walked out on you that day?"
Miranda replied by raising her eyebrows in a similar way that Andy had seen her look at the girls when they were making excuses for their behaviour. It was her amused, bored expression.
"Don't raise your eyebrows at me like that!"
This resulted in Miranda widening her eyes at the tone Andy used.
"You just don't get it do you?" Andy asked as she paced. "I don't think it's even worth trying to explain to you."
"I understand completely," Miranda waved her hand in the air. "You're annoyed with me for something that I thought of doing but didn't actually do."
Andy stared at Miranda.
When she put it like that it sounded so simple and petty.
"That's not entirely " Andy trailed off.
"Yes it is Andrea because all you see in this situation is you and your feelings."
Andy felt very small.
"I was trying to do what was in the best interests of everyone but you could not even sit with me and have an adult conversation about it!"
"You sounded like you had made your mind up," Andy folded her arms and pouted.
"Well, I hadn't had I?" Miranda retorted.
"Well you sounded pretty definite when you said that it was your decision to make," Andy glared.
Miranda got to her feet and went to Andy putting her hands on both Andy's shoulders.
"We don't have to fight about this," Miranda said. "It's stupid."
"It's something that's important to me!"
"Well what can I do about it in hindsight?" Miranda asked softly but she was beginning to feel impatient.
"I don't know," Andy whispered. "But when you said that you were going to deny our relationship I felt worthless."
"You are not worthless," Miranda enunciated each word. "Andrea, do you think that I would come over here if you were worthless?"
Andy looked up into Miranda's eyes. "I love you."
Miranda smiled. "I love you too. So can we stop fighting?"
"Yep," Andy smiled and relaxed her folded arms and wrapped them around Miranda's waist. "I've missed the way that you smell."
Miranda felt her stomach flip as Andrea nuzzled against her.
"Andrea, if you want me to announce our relationship then I will," Miranda mumbled. "I'll announce it on the front cover of Runway if that will satisfy you."
"I don't want you to do anything like that," Andy said. "I just want you to be with me."
"Well, that I can manage," Miranda tilted Andy's mouth up to hers and kissed her tenderly.
Caroline nudged her sister awake.
"Whaaaaaaa?" Cassidy mumbled lazily.
"Because I want to go home," Caroline's coat rustled in the darkness.
"It's the middle of the night," Cassidy sat up and stared at her sister.
"It's eleven o'clock," Caroline corrected. "Titty face and dad have gone to the neighbours next door; we can sneak out the front. I've rang a cab. Hurry up and get dressed."
"You're insane," Cassidy said. "We can't leave in the middle of the night."
"I can't stand it here with Titty Face another minute!" Caroline's voice rose.
"What do you think dad will do when he finds out we're gone?" Cassidy asked.
"Well, I've left a note," the room lit up with headlights from a vehicle. "I bet that's the cab, get dressed."
"What will mom do when we turn up on the doorstep?" Cassidy hissed.
"Hopefully, she will never allow us to come here again," Caroline replied.
Two minutes later the twins crept down the stairs and out of the front door.
"Where did you leave the note?" Cassidy asked when they were safely in the cab.
"On the refrigerator," Caroline replied.
She leaned forward and gave the curious cab driver their address.
"Do you have money?" Cassidy whispered.
"Nah, we'll pay when we get home," Caroline sounded confident.
"What if mom isn't home?"
Caroline snorted. "Where else would she be?"
"Well, she might have had a function or something," Cassidy said reasonably.
"She'll be back by now if she has," Caroline looked out of the cab window and silently prayed that their mother was home.
When the cab pulled up at the Townhouse Caroline jumped out and rang the doorbell. The house was silent.
She rang it again and then again but no one answered.
For the first time during any of their high-jinx escapades, Caroline began to worry. Where could Miranda be?
She hammered on the door with her small fist but still no one came to answer.
She turned to look helplessly at her sister.
"Is no one home?" the cab driver called.
Caroline did not reply she jogged down the steps and back into the cab.
"We need you to take us somewhere else," she said as she got back in.
The cab driver raised his eyebrows and twisted around to look at her.
"I ain't driving you two all over this City until you find someone that will pay your fare."
"Just one more place," Caroline pleaded.
"One more, then I'm taking you back where you came from."
"Fine," Caroline gave him a new address and sat back and crossed her fingers.
Cassidy looked at her sister in annoyance. "I knew this was a bad idea."
"I didn't know she would be out did I?" Caroline snapped.
"It's Saturday bloody night!"
"You don't think she's on a date do you?" Caroline diverted attention from herself to something much worse.
Cassidy looked temporarily worried and then shook her head. "She's probably passed out from the drink."
The cab driver coughed and looked interested.
Caroline gave him a glare that her mother would have been proud of then turned back to her sister.
"She might be on a date you know, that bloke Carl Phipps called her twice last week. Maybe she got sick of waiting for Andy."
"Nah," Cassidy said. "She wants Andy back, she said it herself that she just didn't know how to do it."
"Why not just ask," Caroline stated the obvious.
"You know that mom never does that. She has to have everyone at her beck and call," Cassidy looked out of the window as the neighbourhood became a little less upmarket.
"Ah well," Caroline sounded jovial. "She's going to probably sell us on eBay after this."
Miranda actually hugged Lily and Elodie as she and Andy left the barbecue.
"Thanks for coming with me," Andy said as she linked her arm through Miranda's and pressed her cheek against the woman's shoulder as they walked along the street.
"I had a nice time," Miranda said. "I didn't think that I would like a rooftop barbecue but I was pleasantly surprised."
"Isn't it nice to just be normal for one night?" Andy asked.
"I'm not going to make a habit of it," Miranda smiled. "I don't want you humanising me."
"God forbid," Andy joked.
They walked in silence for a few blocks before Miranda broke the easy silence.
"Perhaps we should have a dinner party," she suggested. "We could invite your friends and my friends."
"Do you have friends?" Andy interjected.
"Well alright then, we could invite Nigel and James," Miranda nipped Andy's arm lightly. "Be careful young lady."
"I think that would be nice," Miranda sounded happy and Andy commented on it.
"You sound content."
"I am," Miranda smiled. "How could I not be?"
As they rounded the corner of Andy's block a cab pulled up at Andy's front door.
Both women stopped and stared as a small person got out of the cab and ran up the steps and rang Andy's bell.
"Is that Caroline?" Andy whispered.
"Yes," Miranda said through gritted teeth. "What the hell are they playing at? They're supposed to be with their father and Titty Face."
"We better go and find out what's going on," Andy hurried forwards dragging Miranda with her, ignoring the Titty Face comment for now.
Cassidy had now got out of the cab and the two of them were staring helplessly at Andy's door and arguing.
"I told you, mom's on a date with that Phipps guy and Andy's probably out with some hot woman," Cassidy was crying. "And now we have no money to pay for the cab and he's going to drive us back to dads and Titty Face will shout at us and "
"Ahem," Miranda cleared her throat.
Identical heads whipped around and looked at Miranda and Andy.
"Mom," Cassidy flung herself at Miranda.
"Andy!" Caroline leapt at Andy who caught her deftly.
"I can barely bring myself to ask what the two of you are doing here," Miranda said harshly as she stroked her sobbing daughter's hair.
"We wanted to come home so we caught a cab but you weren't there," Cassidy explained tearfully. "Then we came to Andy's because she's the only other person we know that would help us pay the fare."
"But you're here and not with Carl at all," Caroline was gleeful. "See," she said to Cassidy, "I told you she wouldn't be with Carl."
"Where does your father think you are?"
"Erm " Cassidy looked to her sister for direction. "They left us in bed when they went to the neighbour's house for a drink."
"They what?" Miranda screeched. "I'm going to kill them both!"
"Hey lady!" the cab driver called. "The meter is still running."
"How much?" Miranda put Cassidy down and she reached into her purse.
Miranda pulled out a bundle of notes and then turned to her daughters. "This is coming out of your allowance."
They shrunk against Andy who put a protective hand on either of them.
"Perhaps you might think twice before driving two twelve year olds all over the City," Miranda snapped to the cab driver.
"Hey, I'm just trying to earn a living," the cab driver said. "And besides, that one," he pointed at Caroline, "has inherited your glare, for sure."
At that Miranda gave him a $30 tip and a half smile. "Thanks for taking care of them."
"No problem lady," the cab driver took the money and tipped his hat. "Have a pleasant evening," he said before driving away.
"Right then," Miranda turned and looked at Andy and then the girls. "It might be an idea for me to ring your father."
Andy shepherded the girls up the steps then whispered to Miranda.
"Thank goodness you were here; I couldn't have afforded to pay that cab bill."
Miranda laughed softly but when they got inside her face became serious.
Andy went to the kitchen as Miranda sat the girls down on the sofa while she called their father.
Andy tried not to listen to the things that Miranda said to Jeremy but her comments were cutting and Andy was grateful that she was not on the receiving end.
When Miranda had finished with Jeremy and had hung up the phone she turned to Caroline and Cassidy.
"What were you thinking of getting in a cab in the middle of the night?"
"It was eleven o'clock," Caroline countered.
"That - is the middle of the night," Miranda said. "You have no idea how much danger you put yourselves in. Thank God that cab driver appeared to be a half decent human being."
"I couldn't stand another minute at dads!" Caroline mumbled. "I just wanted to come home. I wanted things to go back to the way that they were, with you and Andy. Like when we would sit in and watch tv and have pizza and you would laugh instead of being miserable."
Miranda looked up at Andy who had entered the room.
"I understand that but "
"But what?" Caroline snapped. "You didn't know how to get Andy back and now you're back together." Caroline turned to look at Andy. "You are back together?" there was panic in her voice.
Miranda sighed and sat on the coffee table in front of her children.
"Yes, we're together but I want you to know that this isn't going to be easy for anyone."
"What do you mean?" Cassidy asked.
"A lot of people don't approve of women that date women, or men that date men. Those people are misinformed and we should feel sorry for them. However, people will say some bad things and you will hear bad things. I worry that you might get upset," Miranda said honestly.
"We don't care," Caroline said. "We don't care what people say. We're happy that you're together!"
Miranda looked up at Andy again and smiled. "Did I really raise two amazing children?"
"You sure did," Andy smiled and went to sit next to the girls.
Caroline leaned in to Andy and cuddled her.
"However, now that we've settled that, there's the small issue of all the money that you two have spent in one day," Miranda pursed her lips and looked angry.
"I've got $500 in my sock drawer," Cassidy said cheerfully. "You can have that."
"How have you got $500?" Miranda asked in surprise.
The girls traded a look then giggled.
"We saw Titty Face kissing the pool boy and she gave it to us to keep us quiet," Caroline grinned. "I hate her."
"Titty Face was kissing the pool boy?" Miranda began to smirk.
"Yep, it was gross," Cassidy climbed on to Miranda's lap. "So, we can pay you back for the roses and you can give us back our laptops and everyone is happy."
"Everyone is happy," Andy mumbled and kissed Caroline's head. "However, you do still get a punishment for leaving your father's house, in the middle of the night."
"What?" Caroline looked at her incredulously.
"You heard," Andy said sternly. "Do you still want me and your mother to be together?"
"Yes," Caroline replied in a small voice.
"Good, then both of you go and wash up and your mother and I will discuss a suitable punishment."
Miranda watched in amazement as the girls obediently got up, collected their bags and went into the bathroom.
"We will have to make up the futon for them to sleep on," Andy stood up but Miranda caught hold of her wrist.
"I love you," Miranda said.
Andy leaned down and kissed the older woman. "I love you too."
"No," Miranda shook her head. "I mean I really love you."
"I know," Andy straightened up and smiled broadly as she brushed back a strand of Miranda's hair from her cheek.
"Good," Miranda got to her feet. "Right, what about sleeping arrangements?"
"I can't believe this is happening," Caroline said through gritted teeth that were formed into the pretence of a smile.
"Me neither," Cassidy mumbled.
They walked side by side, scattering petals in front of them as they walked.
"This is the most humiliating thing I have ever worn," Caroline said.
"Me too," Cassidy agreed.
"What was the stupid woman thinking of?"
"I've no idea," Cassidy wobbled precariously on the heels she was wearing but managed to right herself at the last minute.
"Is it really necessary to get married?" Caroline strained through her smiling teeth.
"Not necessary at all," Cassidy said.
Andy giggled. "Did you see? Cassidy nearly fell over?"
Miranda nodded. "Those heels are ridiculous."
Andy looked around the church.
"It's flash isn't it?" she whispered.
"All very bad taste," Miranda shook her head. "Our wedding will be much nicer than this."
Andy froze. "Our wedding?"
"Yes," Miranda said simply. "I mean, I know that I haven't asked you yet but you know that it's only a matter of time, don't you?"
"Well," Andy whispered. "I had thought about it."
"That's a relief," and Miranda sounded relieved.
"Will you wear the dress?" Andy asked with a flirtatious smile.
"My dear, I have worn two wedding dresses so I would hate to deprive you of that pleasure," Miranda smiled sweetly.
Their conversation was interrupted by the wedding march beginning to play.
Everyone got to their feet and turned to look at the bride.
"Crikey, those boobs are incredible aren't they?" Andy muttered.
"Oh yes," Miranda smiled politely at the people that looked at Titty Face in her wedding dress. "I picked the dress to truly show off her best assets."
Andy sniggered into Miranda's shoulder. "That's why I love you, you're such a perfectionist."
Miranda was with the girls in the kitchen having breakfast.
Andy had already left to go to work, the girls were eating porridge and bickering about who could take the blue lunchbox to school.
Miranda was barely tolerating it as she made their sandwiches and was lost in thought.
"I want to take the red one today!" Cassidy said.
"You took it yesterday," Caroline pointed out.
"So, that doesn't mean I can't take it two days in a row!"
"Girls!" Miranda interrupted.
They looked over at her with bright eyes.
"I want to ask you something," Miranda said.
"What?" Caroline eyed her suspiciously and shovelled more porridge into her mouth.
Miranda took a deep breath. "I want to ask Andy to have a commitment ceremony with me."
The twins exchanged a look and then looked back to Miranda.
"What's that?" Cassidy asked eventually. "Is it like a wedding?"
"Sort of," Miranda replied. "It would be like a wedding but it wouldn't be in a church and we wouldn't actually be legally married, as good as though."
"You didn't ask us if you could marry Stephen," Caroline narrowed her eyes, put down her spoon and folded her arms.
"That's because I knew you wouldn't like it," Miranda smiled. "I want you to be involved in this wedding."
The girls exchanged another look and Miranda suspected that they were communicating telepathically.
"We think it's a brilliant idea," Cassidy confirmed after a moment.
Miranda breathed a sigh of relief. "Wonderful. So, if I pick you up after school do you want to come and help me choose a ring?"
Both girls squealed.
"Where will we go?" Cassidy asked.
"Tiffany," Caroline punched her sister's arm. "Fool!"
"Stop it!" Miranda commanded. "Now, get going. I will see you this afternoon and don't say a word to anyone. And I mean anyone."
Both girls nodded solemnly and picked up their lunch boxes, the earlier argument completely forgotten as they pondered the thought of having two mothers.
"Good morning," Helena greeted Andy with a strange smile as she walked into the newsroom.
"Hi," Andy looked at her suspiciously. "You ok?"
"Fine," Helena gave a small nod and turned back to her computer with another smaller, knowing smile.
Andy took off her jacket and went to hang it up.
Was it her imagination or was everyone staring at her?
She looked herself up and down and ran her hands over her skirt to make sure it wasn't tucked into her knickers.
No, it was definitely lying straight.
So what was the matter with her?
She went to her desk and pulled out a mirror and checked her reflection. That was normal.
"Hey Sachs!" Ed called.
She looked up as he waved her into his office.
This was getting weirder and weirder.
Andy got up and went to the door of his office.
"What's up?" she asked.
"Can you come in and close the door?" Ed said. "Something's come up."
Miranda swept into Tiffany with the girls in tow, giggling like mad.
"Ms Priestley, how nice to see you," a tall, handsome man greeted her.
"Rings," Miranda said to him. "Come along girls."
The girls calmed themselves and followed their mother dutifully.
"Is the ring for yourself or your lovely daughters?" handsome man asked.
Caroline pulled a face when he said 'lovely daughters' and made a vomiting sound.
"The ring is for the woman that will be my wife," Miranda barked and the girls giggled at the fleeting look of amazement on handsome man's face before her plastered over it with a lazy smile.
"I would like something in platinum, do you think platinum girls?" she turned to the twins.
"A band or something with a stone?" Miranda asked the twins.
"Well," Cassidy said thoughtfully. "Andy always wears that ring that's like three rings in one, and that other silver thumb ring is a band. I don't know if she would like a stone."
"I think that she would like a stone," Caroline chirped. "She is a girly girl," Caroline pulled a concerned face. "What do you think mom?"
Miranda stared into space for a moment. "I think that she would like a diamond. It's the proper thing to do for an engagement. I want this to be done properly. I would want a diamond. When we have the ceremony I will buy her a band."
"Good plan," Caroline agreed. "Two rings, that's a great idea, like a proper marriage. Get her a massive diamond."
Handsome man stared at the three females in front of him and felt like he was going to earn his money today.
Andy had been trying to call Miranda all day but every time she tried Miranda had been busy.
Now Andy was walking along with a coffee in her hand and phone glued to her ear but Miranda was not answering her cell phone.
Emily had told Andy that Miranda had left the office just before 3pm and said she would not be returning for the day.
"Where are you?" Andy muttered into the phone.
Andy hung up and tried again. It was five o'clock now and Andy was bursting to tell Miranda her news.
"Andrea," Miranda finally answered.
"Where have you been?" Andy asked.
"Isn't it customary to offer a greeting?" Miranda replied.
"I've been trying to call you all day!"
"So I saw when I looked at my phone. Is something wrong?"
"No, everything is brilliant!" Andy gushed. "I've won the Paton Prize!"
"Andrea," Miranda's voice was elated. "That's wonderful!"
"I know!" Andy stopped walking and beamed into the phone. "I won $15 000."
"I'm so proud of you," Miranda's voice sounded like she was smiling.
"Thanks," Andy said. "So I'm on my way home now. Where are you?"
"The girls and I are just a few minutes from the house; we will see you when you get here."
"Cool!" Andy said and hung up the phone and flagged down a cab.
Andy was tucking the twins into bed when she decided to ask the question.
"You know I was thinking," she began as she perched on Caroline's bed. "What would you guys think if I asked your mom to marry me?"
Andy felt two pairs of eyes on her.
"But " Cassidy started.
"We wouldn't mind at all," Caroline interjected.
"Nope," Cassidy shook her head. "In fact, we think it would be awesome."
"Yep," Caroline nodded emphatically.
"Well, what I was thinking was that I could use some of the money I won to buy your mom a really nice ring. Maybe something from Tiffany," Andy said.
"Oh," Caroline attempted to look nonchalant. "That'd be nice."
"That'd be lovely" Cassidy agreed.
"So, do you guys want to help me choose a ring?" Andy asked.
"Sure," they answered in unison.
"Great, well I'll pick you up from school tomorrow afternoon then," Andy kissed Caroline and then took Cassidy's hand to take her to her bedroom.
"OK," Caroline snuggled down into bed. "Good night, Andy."
"Good night sweetie," Andy said and switched off the light.
Tucking Cassidy in was always a pleasure.
The younger of the twins would wrap her arms tightly around Andy's neck and tell her that she loved her.
"How are you going to propose to mom?" Cassidy asked as she climbed into bed.
"I don't know," Andy said ponderously. "I haven't really thought about that bit yet."
"Stephen asked her at dinner," Cassidy blew a raspberry. "That was a bit dull."
"What do you think I should do?" Andy asked as she tucked Cassidy in tightly.
"Something that mom wouldn't expect," Cassidy grinned. "Something that's sickeningly sweet.
"Your mom isn't exactly a sickeningly sweet person though is she?" Andy mused.
"She is when she's around you," Cassidy held out her arms for a huge cuddle. "I love you Andy," she whispered and then let go and snuggled down.
"I love you too," Andy whispered as she turned out the light and left the room.
Miranda was sitting in her office when Andy sauntered in.
"You look pleased with yourself," Miranda took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.
"I guess I just can't believe my luck," Andy inserted her body between Miranda and the desk.
Miranda leaned forward and rested her head against Andy's stomach. "I'm so proud of you," she whispered.
"Thanks," Andy ran her fingers through Miranda's soft hair.
"I think we should go out to celebrate," Miranda said.
"Oh yeah," Andy began to move her hands more sensually through Miranda's hair. "What did you have in mind?"
"Dinner," Miranda mumbled as she became lost in the feel of Andy's fingers caressing her head.
"Dinner sounds nice," Andy moved her fingers to beneath Miranda's chin and lifted her face up for a kiss.
"You're so good at that," Miranda murmured as Andy pulled away.
"So people tell me," Andy teased.
"It's a good thing that I know you're joking," Miranda said.
"Am I?" Andy moved away from her and Miranda reached out but missed.
"Come back," Miranda demanded.
Andy shook her head. "If you want me, you'll have to come and get me."
Miranda's lips curled into a sultry smile. "Challenge accepted."
Caroline immediately noticed that Handsome Man was not as friendly towards Andy as he had been to their mother.
In fact, until he saw the twins and recognised them, he gave Andy a look of disdain.
"How can I help you?" he said in a sour voice.
"I'd like to see your engagement rings please," Andy said in her usual bright tone.
"I " Handsome man began and then his eyes fell on the girls.
Caroline gave a firm shake of her head as if to say, 'don't make out like you recognise us,' and thankfully he understood.
"This way," he said breezily.
Andy felt nervous and looked at the twins who walked confidently in front of her.
"This is our latest range of diamond engagement rings," Handsome man stopped walking.
"Hmm," Andy said. "I had a Tiffany Legend in mind."
Handsome man smiled. "Excellent choice, I will be right back."
"Um, Andy," Caroline ventured.
"If you were to get married what sort of ring would you like?"
"Erm " Andy looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully and became distracted by the glistening chandelier.
"Andy," Caroline cajoled.
"Oh, well I would love a diamond. I think it's the proper thing to do for an engagement," Andy smiled. "Why?"
"Just wondered," Caroline muttered but when Andy looked away she gave her sister a thumbs up.
How right their mother had been, thank goodness.
Handsome man reappeared with a velvet tray. "These are our Tiffany Legend range."
Andy leaned forward and studied the rings. She knew which one she wanted immediately.
An Edwardian period ring with graduated side stones would be perfect for Miranda.
"How much is that?" Andy asked.
"That ring is Seventeen thousand dollars."
Caroline squeaked beside her.
"You can't get that one," Caroline said. "That's more than the money that you won and you said you were only going to spend some of it."
"It's money that I've never had so I won't miss it," Andy reasoned.
"That's not the point," Caroline said.
"Don't you think she will like it?" Andy asked in concern.
"She'll love it!" the girls said in unison then Caroline continued. "It's gorgeous but "
"I'll take it," Andy said.
"You can't!" Cassidy reached out and shook Andy's hand. "Mom will freak out when she knows how much you've spent."
"Cass, I'm only going to do this once and I want it to be perfect," Andy explained calmly.
Andy waved away their protests as she went to another area of the shop to organise sizing.
"How much did mom spend on Andy's ring?" Cassidy whispered.
"Twenty grand but mom can afford it," Caroline shook her head. "Andy can't afford it."
"She really loves mom," Cassidy muttered under her breath.
"Would you spend that much on someone?" Caroline asked her sister.
Cassidy shrugged. "If I loved them."
Caroline shook her head. "Dad spent fifty grand on Titty Face's engagement ring. People are crazy."
"You spent $500 on roses," Cassidy pointed out.
"Pah!" Caroline spat and stormed to where Andy was handing over her credit card.
"I'm going to ask Andy to marry me," Miranda gazed intently at Nigel over lunch the next day.
"That's fast," Nigel offered.
"You think it's a mistake?"
"No," Nigel said hurriedly. "Anyone that can tame the beast is fine with me."
"I don't know how to do it," Miranda pushed a small blue box across the table to Nigel. "What do you think?"
Nigel opened the box and gasped. "That is an exquisite ring."
"I know, how do you think that I should propose? Something grand?"
"Do you think Andy would go for something grand?" Nigel arched an eyebrow.
"No," Miranda admitted.
"I think that Andy is more of a beneath a starry sky kind of girl. Something grand would not be to her taste. It needs to be intimate," Nigel stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Something subtle but something that she will remember."
"I'm not sure that's me," Miranda mumbled and took a sip of coffee.
"Well, that's Andy so you better get thinking," Nigel handed the box back to Miranda. "Tiffany?"
"Did Edward serve you?"
Andy had never had something so expensive in her possession before and she gripped her handbag tightly to her with the Tiffany bag inside.
She had been thinking all day about how she could propose to Miranda but was yet to be struck with inspiration.
The problem was that Andy wanted it to be a surprise but if she suddenly booked a trip away or a flight in an air balloon like Helena had suggested then Miranda would suspect immediately that something was up.
No, she had to be more original than that.
"When do you think mom is going to ask Andy?" Cassidy said as they climbed into the car with Reg after school.
"Who do you think will ask first?" Cassidy wondered.
"I dunno," Caroline sighed and slumped down in her seat.
"How do you think ?"
"Shut up!" Caroline snapped.
"What's the matter with you?" Cassidy asked.
"I'm thinking but I can't form a plan with you blathering on."
"A plan to get them to ask each other at the same time."
Cassidy laughed. "That's never going to happen."
Caroline turned to her sister. "Can you imagine how pissed mom will be if she doesn't get to ask first?"
"Well, she probably will ask first," Cassidy mumbled.
"But then Andy will be upset because she didn't get to ask."
"Well what are we going to do?" Cassidy asked.
"I'm thinking, now shut up," Caroline said testily.
Andy wondered where to hide the ring where Miranda wouldn't find it.
She stood in the hallway of the huge house and tried to think of somewhere that Miranda would not look.
The front door opened behind her and the twins barrelled in.
"Hey Andy," Caroline said cheerily. "Why are you standing in the hallway?"
"I'm trying to think of somewhere to hide the ring," Andy replied distractedly.
Caroline looked slyly at her sister then to Andy. "I could look after it for you."
Andy faltered for a moment and then said. "Where would you put it?"
"Somewhere mom would never find it," Caroline grinned. "In my soccer boot."
Andy considered this for a moment and decided it would do for now.
"OK," she handed the Tiffany bag to Caroline. "Take care of it. It cost more than my first year of college."
"No problem," Caroline took the bag and headed upstairs.
Cassidy followed after giving Andy a hug. "See you after homework."
Andy was dozing on the sofa when Miranda got home.
Miranda left Andy asleep and went to Caroline's room.
Caroline was spread out like a star on the bed, fast asleep.
Miranda smiled and decided not to wake her and went into Cassidy's bedroom to say goodnight.
Cassidy was lying in bed reading a book by lamplight.
"Hey, you," Miranda whispered.
"Hi, mom," Cassidy said sleepily and put her book down. "You're late."
"I know," Miranda perched on the edge of the bed. "You should be asleep like your sister."
"I was waiting for you to come home," Cassidy put her arms around her mother's neck and Miranda kissed her softly.
"I want you to do something for me," Miranda whispered.
Miranda reached into her handbag and pulled out a Tiffany bag. "Will you look after this for me?"
"Wow!" Cassidy's eyes widened. "You want me to look after it?"
"Just for a couple of days, until I decide how I'm going to propose," Miranda smiled. "Do you think that you and your sister are up to it?"
"Yeah," Cassidy's eyes shone. "How are you going to propose?"
"I don't have a clue," Miranda confessed. "I'm still thinking about it."
"Do you have any ideas at all?" Cassidy asked.
Miranda shook her head. "The best that I've come up with so far is, beneath a starry sky."
"I like it," Cassidy nodded. "It's romantic."
Miranda kissed her daughter's forehead. "OK, you hide that ring somewhere and be ready with it when I ask you for it."
"I will," Cassidy promised.
She reached out and put the bag in her bedside cabinet. "I'll hide it better in the morning."
"OK," Miranda kissed her. "Good night."
"You're home," Andy awoke to Miranda placing soft, kisses all over her neck.
"I certainly am," Miranda muttered. "How was your day?"
"Busy," Andy relaxed against the feel of Miranda's lips against her skin. "Yours?"
"I can't bear the incompetence of the people that surround me," the true Miranda slipped through briefly. "But none of that matters now."
"Mmm," Andy mumbled as Miranda slid her hands inside Andy's blouse.
"I've arranged with Lily to watch the girls tomorrow night when we go to dinner," Andy murmured.
"I think that El might come too."
Andy knew by Miranda's tone that Miranda had other things on her mind right now.
"Are you listening to me?" Andy giggled.
"Of course," Miranda sat up to look at Andy. "Lily's coming tomorrow and El might be coming with her."
Andy took Miranda's face in her hands. "I'm looking forward to going out tomorrow night."
"Good," Miranda began unbuttoning Andy's blouse.
"Are you horny?"
"What makes you think that?"
Miranda gave a devilish smile. "Do you object?"
"Not at all," Andy arched her back to give Miranda a better view of her breasts.
"That's good," Miranda nodded approvingly.
Lily and Elodie arrived on Friday evening, promptly at seven pm.
Miranda looked unhappily at the Krispy Kreme box that Elodie carried but she said nothing as she greeted her new protégé.
"I would have thought you had some glamorous party to be at on a Friday evening," Miranda said to her.
"Ugh, I just can't stand any more networking right now," Elodie pulled a face. "I just want to be normal again; do you know what I mean?"
It was Miranda's turn to pull a face. "I can't remember what it was like to be normal."
Andy and Lily laughed and the twins appeared.
"Hey girls," Lily greeted them.
"You brought Krispy Kremes," Cassidy's eyes lit up and Miranda sighed.
"I can't watch them demolish that - filth," Miranda helped Andy into her coat. "Let's go."
The four of them stood at the front door and waved at Andy and Miranda as they got into the car. They carried on waving until the car had disappeared around the corner and then Caroline darted down the steps and picked up three bags that were hidden beneath a bush.
"What are you doing?" Lily asked in amazement as Caroline handed one of the bags to her.
"Come on!" Caroline hurried into the house. "We've got work to do!"
They were halfway through the main course when Miranda asked the question.
"What do you think you will spend your money on?"
Andy almost choked on her food but managed to hold it together.
"I thought I might just pay off my credit cards."
"That's so boring," Miranda chastised. "I think you should splurge on something nice for yourself. After all, it's money that you've never had so you won't miss it."
Andy kept her laugh in well but remembered uttering the same words herself in Tiffany.
"I know," she said.
Boldly she reached out and took Miranda's hand and ran her thumb across the knuckles.
"You know, I'm so happy right now," Andy admitted.
"I'm glad," Miranda said.
Miranda manoeuvred her hand so that she could stroke the underneath of Andy's wrist. "You know I am."
"I've been thinking a lot about our future," Andy said and took back her hand and began eating again.
"Oh," Miranda wore a blank expression.
"Yes," Andy goaded. "You know I'm at the house a lot and "
"Yes," Miranda interrupted.
"I would love it if you moved in and the girls would too."
Andy smiled. "Good."
"Anything else?" Miranda queried.
Andy felt flustered. "No, what else could there be?"
"I don't know," Miranda said and popped her fork into her mouth. "I never understand how your mind works."
Andy laughed at that.
Miranda had more insight into Andy's mind than she thought.
"Is this a good idea?" Elodie stood back and admired their handiwork.
"Yes," both girls answered emphatically.
"I just think it's something that we shouldn't get involved in," Elodie looked at her sister.
"It's pretty cool though," Lily looked around the room.
"Yes, but if they want to ask each other to marry them then they should do it their own way," Elodie stated.
"They're too dumb, they will never get round to it. That ring will stay hidden in my soccer boot forever," Caroline said easily. "Help me tie this."
Lily assisted Caroline then turned to Elodie. "I think it's sweet."
Elodie looked around the room. "It is sweet but I still think "
She was interrupted by Caroline's phone beeping.
"It's Reg," Caroline read the text. "They're on their way back. Action stations."
Andy was giggling as they unlocked the front door. Miranda had her hand under Andy's skirt and was fumbling like a drunken teenage boy.
"Miranda," Andy said in a high voice. "Please, I'm a lady you know."
"I know," Miranda kicked the door closed behind them and then stared past Andy's shoulder. "What's that?"
"What?" Andy turned around and followed Miranda's gaze.
At the bottom of the stairs lay two bunches of roses, one on the left side of the staircase one on the right.
"What are those two up to?" Miranda looked up the stairs, her eyes following a red ribbon that disappeared as the stairs levelled out.
"I don't know," Andy approached the roses that had a card with her name on it.
"What does it say?" Miranda asked curiously as she took off her coat and flung it on a chair.
Andy slit the envelope and read the card.
"Follow the ribbon wherever it leads and take the roses with you."
Miranda picked up her roses. "We better do as it says," she looked amused.
Andy smiled and nodded and picked up her roses.
They ascended the stairs together, each following their own ribbon.
The ribbons led them to the back room and Andy felt a thrill as she remembered it was the first place that they had made love.
They both let out a gasp as they entered the room.
Candles were everywhere, spilling dancing light all around.
On the table were two champagne flutes and a huge bottle of champagne in an ice bucket.
"Do we keep following the ribbon?" Andy asked nervously.
"Well it hasn't ended," Miranda shrugged and carried on walking.
Each ribbon led them to the table and either of the champagne flutes and a note between the glasses in bold, red writing.
Miranda chuckled and turned around as did Andy.
Written across the wall above the door, with glow in the dark stars were the words.
MARRY EACH OTHER.
Miranda looked to Andy who was staring at the words open-mouthed.
"What the "
Miranda laid down her roses and picked up her champagne flute and in the bottom of it was the ring she had bought for Andy. She upended the glass on to her palm and the ring fell out.
"I didn't know how to ask," she held the ring between her fingers. "Obviously some people had an idea how to ask."
Andy looked at the ring and felt tears well as she put her bunch of roses down, and then she picked up her own champagne flute and tipped the ring she had bought for Miranda on to her palm.
"I didn't know how to ask either," she confessed.
Miranda stared at the ring on Andy's palm and felt her heart skip a beat. She recognised it from Tiffany.
"Would you like to go first?" Miranda said to Andy who now had tears running down her face.
"I don't know if I can," Andy shook her head.
Miranda smiled at Andy. "I had a speech half planned but I can't think of it now."
Andy laughed and wiped at her tears.
"Andy," Miranda began solemnly. "I think that it's safe to say that you've made a huge impact on my life. I can't imagine there being a day when I can't see you, or hear your voice. Now that I've met you I understand why people get married. They don't want to ever lose that person and that's how I feel about you. I never want to be without you. You're the one that's made me realise exactly what I want," Miranda paused and held out the ring to Andy. "Will you marry me?"
Through tears Andy managed to speak. "Yes."
Miranda's smile widened and she slipped the ring on to Andy's engagement finger then looked at Andy expectantly.
"How can I follow that?" Andy tried to compose herself and then cleared her throat.
"Miranda, waking up in your arms every morning is the greatest part of my day and I never want that to end. You make me feel like a real person, you challenge me, you inspire me but most of all you love me and that means more than you will ever know. Will you be with me forever?"
Miranda's eyes shone. "I would love to," she held out her hand and Andy placed the ring on Miranda's finger.
They each stared at their hands for a moment and then laughed and Miranda pulled Andy to her and held her close.
"I love you Andrea Sachs."
"I love you too."
"Now, where are my daughters?" Miranda took Andy's hand and started off towards the twin's bedrooms.
She opened Caroline's bedroom door and there was a big sign above the bed.
STAYING AT LILY'S.
ENJOY YOUR NIGHT.
Underneath there was a big smiling face and a drawing of two brides linking arms.
"Well, they just thought of everything didn't they?" Miranda laughed.
"They sure did," Andy kissed Miranda's neck. "Let's take that champagne to bed."
"That sounds like a great idea," Miranda agreed.
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