DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have taken liberties with some of the supporting character histories, names and characterizations so that they serve my own purposes, some of them (like Miranda's ex-husband) are names used in other fan-fictions so I tip my hat to whoever may have used it first. Thank you to bearblue for her awesome beta work and encouragement!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To raiderlff[at]gmail.com

It's the Only Life You've Got… Arc I
…so you better just live it

By raiderL


Chapter Four

They'd been at the party for about an hour. Doug was across the room deep in conversation with a photographer that Andy recognized from one of the Runway shoots and she was standing at the bar awaiting a refill of her vodka and soda. It was only her second drink, knowing that if Miranda should happen by that she would need all of her wits in sober order. She had just placed her order, when suddenly she sensed that She was somewhere in the room. Not wanting to be obvious about it, she waited until the drink was in hand and casually strolled towards the next room, all the while subtly scanning the landscape around her. Feeling rather warm she decided that the cozy corner nearest the partially opened French doors would be the best spot to scope out the rest of the party. She was just about to turn around when suddenly a scent she would never forget surrounded her; a sharp inhale preceded her turn and without any fanfare she found herself facing the object of her affections. Her exhale brought about one breathless word.


"Mom, wow! Hey Cass, check out what mom's wearing to Uncle Nigel's party!" Cassidy skidded into the second floor entertainment room and gaped. Caroline continued excitedly, "Is that the Oscar de la Renta from the fall line?"

"Very good Bobbsey" she suppressed a smile at the look of consternation her daughter shot her at the endearment. "I take it you approve?"

Caroline looked critically for a moment. "I love the way the pants flow out at the bottom, almost like a full length skirt, is it satin?"

"Once again, very good my dear, yes, satin." A glimmer of pride shown through and Caroline preened like a little bird.

Cassidy, who did not share her sister's love for fashion in quite the same way, had yet to say anything and her mother turned towards her. "Darling?"

"I really like it all mom, that necklace is really cool too. Black suits you. But uh, well, won't you be cold?"

Miranda smiled, appreciating her ever practical daughter and picked up a textured black leather three-quarter length coat, which, until that point, had gone unnoticed by both girls. "Not with this I won't and you know that parties are always tending to the stuffy with all those people mingling around."

She adjusted the coat over her shoulders and picked up a small purse, also black leather, and kissed each of her daughters good night. "Thank you girls for being so understanding about my need to attend this party. Please be good for Cara, I'll see you in the morning and we'll make breakfast."

"Omelets?" Both girls chimed at once.

"We'll see darlings, good night."

She made her way down to the underground parking area shared by herself and several of the other townhouses in her block. She pressed the key fob for her midnight blue 1990 Porsche 964 Carrera Targa and the engine came alive with a purr (the only modern modification she had made to the mint condition vehicle). Sliding into the smooth leather seat Miranda felt a part of her settle. She knew that there was a distinct possibility that Andrea would be at the party tonight and the conflicting feelings had caused no small amount of stress. Being behind the wheel of this car always calmed her and she used that space to reinforce her mantle of control. She was Miranda Priestly and she was unflappable under all circumstances. By the time she handed her keys to the valet outside Nigel's condo she had almost completely convinced herself, save for the nerves still nipping on the periphery, as she gripped her host's gift a little tighter.

The party was in full swing by the time she made her arrival and it was at times difficult to navigate because of all of the bodies. That was until a being realized just who exactly was trying to pass and suddenly the way was made clear. After leaving her coat with an attendant in the entrance hall, she spied her host in the first room she entered and made her way over. After a brief air kiss, she handed him the bottle of 1972 black label Macallan scotch brightly festooned with a red ribbon.

Nigel's eyebrows nearly crawled off his forehead when he spied the offering. "Miranda, I would say you shouldn't have, but I would be a liar of the highest order. Thank you." And he offered her a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"Don't get used to it, dear." But she flashed him a rare genuine smile and they chatted for a moment about the party and his satisfaction with the catering and planning crew she had recommended. As another couple of party goers entered the room and approached Nigel, Miranda gave him a nod and began a search for the bar. After only a moment, she noted it was in what must have been the dining room and began to make her way toward it. Only a couple of people felt comfortable enough approaching her and it took nearly fifteen minutes to reach her destination. It was as she joined the line that she caught the first glimpse of that luscious dark hair cascading freely over the lines of what could only be a Chanel jacket. Someone shifted in line and blocked her view of the object of her study; she pursed her lips in consternation.

It was only a moment later that the offender shifted yet again and she watched as the young woman placed her order. She swore that she could see a sudden falter as Andrea received her glass, but the young woman moved away with a simple grace. As she walked, Miranda was stunned to take in the rest of the outfit, one that mimicked entirely too closely those of a certain dream. Her eyes lingered until a soft clearing of the bartender's throat made her realize that she had traversed the length of the line without conscious thought. She spared a brief hope that her lapse had gone unobserved.

"Whatever scotch you're pouring, a double with a splash of water." The bartender nodded and efficiently presented her with a glass. She was pleased that the water came from a bottle of spring water instead of the tap. Eschewing the offered napkin, she slowly sipped as she moved to follow her quarry, never questioning that she would indeed engage her erstwhile assistant.

Unbeknownst to Miranda, her actions did draw the attention of one very interested observer. Doug had sighted the signature hair as soon as she entered the room and he had excused himself from his conversation in order to warn Andy. However he stopped his progress and watched in rapt fascination as Miranda first realized who it was at the front of the line. He hadn't had a clear view of the older woman's face until Andy had moved away from the bar and the unguarded surprise that flashed briefly, as her eyes all but undressed his friend, paled in comparison to the look of absolute longing and hunger that directly followed. Of course all of this happened in the span of mere seconds and he knew that unless someone was specifically watching her that they would have missed it for immediately the bland indifferent mask usually associated with the editor was firmly set back into place.

The young man decided to change his trajectory yet again, allowing Andy to set her own course because he could see that she was clearly aware of exactly who was in the room with her. With a smile he turned and went off in search of his host; wanting to thank him for the generous invitation that had been granted to Andy for him at the last minute.

Miranda, so uncharacteristically unaware of everything around her save her quarry, did not register Doug's perusal. She continued instead to where Andrea had stopped, beside the partially open French doors that led to what appeared to be a terrace garden space. She noted that several figures could be seen smoking, the red tips of their cigarettes moving rhythmically in the darkness. Andrea had still not turned around and yet she had the sense that the young woman knew that she was there. She heard the woman inhale and then detected a slight shudder; she could not ascribe the action to anything in particular as the cool breeze gently entering the space could have been the cause.

When next she looked up it was directly into the endless depths of those dark brown eyes framed by luxurious lashes. She barely registered her name being uttered and thought she felt her own lips form the name she had not spoken, save for in her dreams, for just over a year.

Andy had been prepared for any number of scenarios playing out when finally she faced her former boss, all of them in shades of scathing and/or embarrassing. What she did not count on was the devastating assault on her senses.

It seemed as though all of them engaged at once: the subtle and unique perfume mingled with something more personal to Miranda; the blouse, a low cut daring play of alternating vertical satin strips and some sheer black material revealing an enticing glimpse of secrets both formed from lace, no doubt La Perla, and, due to their proximity to the open door, physiology; the gentle sound of what could have been her name and then of breathing. It seemed faster than what she remembered the older woman's respiration to be. Her own mouth became void of all moisture as she noted an increase in equal measure in another location, while the citrus of the lime from her drink sharpened not altogether unpleasantly. Lastly her fingers practically itched with a desire to reach out and caress the softness of the other woman's hands, she clutched her glass just a small bit harder to stave off the impulse.

One of the smokers returned to the warmth of the room and the door lightly tapped Andy on the side startling both women. Neither had any sense at all how long they had stood there, but judging from the space offered them by the other partygoers, it must have been longer than a few seconds and it must have looked like it was going to be bad. Many of the people in attendance were well aware of the identities of both women and of their history; even the suspicion that a major takedown by the Devil herself was enough to keep them from getting too close.

Which suited Miranda just fine, because she found that she was having a distinct problem with her voice at the moment. So she reaffixed her implacable façade, sipped daintily from her glass and fixed that laser gaze upon the beauty so tantalizingly close, waiting to see what the other woman would do.

Andy had finally secured the knowledge that her hands would not betray her and contemplated the situation. She sensed the subtle shift in the crowd around her, knowing that they expected La Priestly to bare her fearsome claws and tear the hide from her at any moment. This bought them time. Time for what exactly? Of that she wasn't entirely sure, but since she had yet to be drawn and quartered she figured that something else was happening here and, for the first time in the two odd years since meeting this intriguingly complex woman, she felt just a glimmer of hope. She remembered Doug's advice to remember who she was and decided to honor that request by making the first move.

She slowly reached out with her half-filled glass and tapped it lightly against the other woman's. "It's good to see you Miranda." She smiled one of those full smiles that lit up every corner of her face and then took a drink.

Surprised at the self-confidence that the move required, and dazzled by the wattage of the smile, Miranda could only lift her glass in a small salute before continuing to her mouth. It was only after swallowing the smoky whiskey that she was able to finally form a cohesive sentence.

"I do believe you actually mean that, Ahn-dray-ah." She accented the name in perhaps a more exaggerated manner than usual, but it definitely seemed to get a reaction out of the girl. She was beginning to see that perhaps her desire was not as one-sided as she had believed.

She thought back to the letter Andrea had sent her, the letter on stationery she intuited had been chosen with her specifically in mind. She knew the texture of the paper almost as well as the words it contained.

Your greatest disappointment,


So much had been left unsaid in that letter and as she stood here now, the blanks were beginning to take shape and form. She looked around her, conscious that mostly everyone around them had returned to their own conversations when it became obvious that a scene was not going to erupt. This was neither the time nor the place for a discussion of the sort she believed was now inevitable. Andrea seemed to realize this also as the girl made no further move to engage her, the ball being back in Miranda's court.

Miranda unconsciously caressed the side of her neck and then fiddled with a few of the baubles on her obsidian necklace a move that seemed to mesmerize the younger woman. "Did you arrive here alone Andrea?" Miranda hid the smirk as Andrea jolted back into the conversation.

Jesus! That woman is so sexy and she doesn't even try I bet, it just happens, although that outfit didn't just happen; that was a premeditated attack. What? Oh shit, did she just say something? She raised her eyes from their perusal of the hand that was so privileged to go where she so desperately wanted. "I'm sorry Miranda, I missed what you last said."

With a slight purse of her lips that caused Andy to die just a little bit inside, Miranda repeated the question. "I simply asked if you were unaccompanied tonight, honestly Andrea, must I always repeat myself? Am I really boring you so?" She could see the girl almost take the bait.

Oh My God! Why does she always have to do that? Andy found herself scrambling, but at the last second noticed a slight glint in her eye. She was playing with me. Incredible, Miranda Priestly has a sense of humor! In for a penny, in for a pound. "Trust me Miranda, boring is absolutely the last word I would ever call you."

"Oh, please do tell. Exactly what would you call me, hmm?" She tapped her finger on her lip and watched as Andrea's slender neck showed evidence of the rather large swallow she took from her now empty glass. After a long moment of Andy remaining silent Miranda continued.

"Tell you what…" She reached for the glass and removed it from suddenly slack fingers. "I will get you another one of these." She sniffed the glass, "vodka and soda with lime?" She allowed a full smirk to form at the girl's widened eyes and nod. "While I am gone I will trust that you will arrive at an answer to my question." With that the woman turned on her five inch heels and headed towards the bar.

Andy was so mesmerized by the sway of the hips and the play of the shadows of sinew and lace beneath that damnable blouse, what was that anyway, Oscar de la Renta?, That she didn't realize Doug had moved up beside her until he spoke. "Damn girl, I would nail her in a New York minute. She is smoking hot!"

She backhanded him in the solar plexus and he coughed. "Don't be crude, one doesn't 'nail' Miranda Priestly."

Rubbing his midsection and glaring mildly at his friend Doug asked. "Oh pray tell, what does one do?"

She answered in a voice that meant she was barely aware that she was speaking out loud. He loved when she got in a mood such as this, for she would always speak as if she were channeling her unfiltered id. "Many things Doug. Slowly with reverence, and then fast and hot with no restraint at all." She looked up at him. "But always, always with respect."

His eyes still tracked the older woman. "Is she coming back?"

"She took my glass and said she was going for a refill. So yes."

"Miranda Priestly is actually getting something for someone? No imperious orders to some poor lackey. Are you serious?"

"Well, when you put it that way, it is rather incredible, however, she left me with a directive and I haven't decided yet how I'm going to respond."

"I heard the last part of your conversation."

"Doug! We're you spying on me?!"

"Yes, but only so I could help. Like now. She's flirting with you."

"That's what it would be if it was anyone else in the world, Dougie, but this is Miranda we're talking about. She skewers people with her look. She's always intense, She loves to verbally spar with people and she loves to make someone she perhaps has not yet forgiven for a transgression, suffer. So let's just say, I'm confused."

"Well I'm not confused." He looked up and could see that Miranda had made it through the line and appeared to be placing her order. "Look, you didn't see her face when she first spotted you at the bar. I'm surprised your clothes didn't melt off your back. Honey the look she gave you was the way a starving man eyes a steak. And trust me, she wanted to lick the plate. I've got to hand it to her though, she managed to cover it pretty well. She's a true master. But don't let your doubts fool you. I think you got a shot here."

"God, Doug, but a shot at what? I don't want to just be a quick fuck. I couldn't take it if she only wanted me like that."

He noted that the woman in question was making her way back to their corner. "Okay, I know, but you can't assume the worst and you don't have to solve it all tonight. Just enjoy yourself, go with the flow, oh and I can make my way home all by myself, if you know what I mean!" He smiled at her and gave her a nudge with his elbow then hared off, a scant few seconds before the fashion queen regained her prior spot.

Miranda had spotted the young man as soon as she had both drinks in hand. She watched their interaction and surmised that they knew each other, perhaps maybe friends, not anything more, but she couldn't be certain.

She wasn't certain of anything tonight. Like why she was actually fetching a drink for another human being. She never did that. Okay, not true, she had done it for each of her husbands, when they were dating. What exactly am I doing? She had a passing thought that she could just set the drinks down, collect her coat and leave immediately, but something told her that would be a mistake she would regret for a very long time. Besides, Miranda Priestly is not a coward. She mentally shook herself and continued forward.

Miranda handed Andy her drink. "I trust I'm not so frightening that potential suitors are running in fear?"

Andy couldn't contain her sudden bark of laughter. "Who? Dougie? Not even close. Now if I had been Nigel…"

"Ah, so I am only driving away friends then?"

Andy chose to ignore the invitation to explain Doug and his attempt at assistance. "You don't see me running do you?"

"Which leads us directly back to the question I had left you to ponder. If I'm not frightening, then how exactly would you categorize me?"

Andy worried her lower lip with her teeth, mindful of the slight rise in Miranda's color at the action. She looked down at her drink for a moment and then whispered. "An enigma." She looked up through her lashes, swallowed and then repeated, slightly breathless. "A complex, fascinating, beautiful enigma."

Miranda noted that all of the saliva left her mouth at the astounding display before her. She managed to somehow rein in her surprise and only briefly questioned the sanity of what she would next say as she found herself stepping in closer. "An enigma, that tells me you are aware that you know next to nothing about me at all. And yet…" She pitched her voice low. "Tell me, would you like the opportunity to get to know me better Andrea?"

Andy's head jerked up. Holy shit! She let her left hand drop out of sight and pinched her thigh. Oww, not dreaming. Realizing she needed to provide an answer soon she met the other woman's unrelenting gaze and repeated the phrasing used by the older woman. "Yes, Miranda, I would." Stop being such a wuss! Her voice growing stronger she added. "I would love the opportunity to get to know you better." One that literally thousands of men and women would kill for. Feeling more confident she inquired. "What about you?"

"Hmm?" Miranda tilted her head in question.

"Would you like to get to know me better as well?" She smiled, eyes dancing with humor.

"Cheeky girl. I would never have asked if that wasn't the case." The older woman stepped back to a respectable distance, sipped the last of her drink and decided it was time for her to leave. "I trust you have a way home?"

"Eventually yes. I promised Doug that I would accompany him clubbing tonight." An image appeared as a flash; a darkened dance floor with pulses of light illuminating them, her hands sliding up Miranda's body, circling her arms around the slim middle, pulling her back to front as she ground Miranda's perfect ass into her mound. She nearly doubled over at the sudden clenching of certain parts of her anatomy and what felt like a flood of moisture in her La Perla boy-shorts.

Andrea wasn't the only one entertaining a dance floor fantasy. Miranda however imagined a dark corner where her hand would be allowed to wander up beyond the hem of the leather mini, cupping and then stroking to the pulse of the ubiquitous beat found in every club from New York to Berlin and beyond. She licked her lips and squeezed her thigh muscles, she needed to leave now or she would end up doing something, while not regrettable in act, would be so in terms of timing. No, she needed this, whatever it was, to go slow.

Miranda's stare became even more intense, if it were possible. For a moment Andy thought that the fashion editor was actually going to express an interest in accompanying her to the club. "Andrea, I am going to leave now."

"Oh." Andy visibly deflated.

Miranda was gratified that that the girl was clearly disappointed. She was beginning to turn to take her leave when a sharp whispered "Wait!" stopped her in her tracks.

The younger woman fished around in her small bag and brought out a business card and a pen. She wrote what appeared to be her personal cell phone number on the back and handed it to Miranda. Her fingers buzzed as if from electricity where they had connected with the brunette's. "I know you could have your assistants track me down, or even just ask Nigel, but this way. Well, this way you don't have to involve anyone else, if you don't want to."

Miranda was touched by the care for her privacy, but then Andrea always did go out of her way to see that she was cared for. "Very well. Thank you Andrea." She resisted the urge to lean in and kiss the other woman's cheek but instead nodded once and turned, quickly making her way towards the entrance hall. If she ran into Nigel on the way then she would bid her host goodnight, if not, well he would get over it.

Andrea couldn't help but track the other woman as she walked away. She wasn't particularly upset with her quick departure; in fact it relieved her. If all Miranda had wanted from her was an orgasm, then she would have followed what had appeared to be her first impulse to accompany Andy that night. Speaking of orgasms. The aching in her center decided for Andy her next course of action. Find the bathroom and then find Doug.


Chapter Five

It was an innocuous email sent on the Monday following Nigel's party from one M. Priestly to one A. Sachs. with the subject line "The American Ginkgo".

My personal cell phone number is 212-752-1818. You may call me.


That woman is impossible! But Andy smiled, she was enjoying this more playful side of Miranda and realized that it was always there, just that before she was too scared to notice it.

Instead, thank you. And I shall.


Andy hit send and then went back to her most recent literary challenge, a smile planted firmly on her face.

The ping of an incoming email caused Miranda's heart to skip perhaps a single beat. She was in the middle of a run through and could not just drop the clothing on the floor; but she did increase the rapidity of her instructional delivery and managed to have her office cleared five minutes later. All save for Nigel. She stifled a sigh.

"So, I didn't really get to talk to you much Miranda, did you enjoy the party?" It was a mild enough question asked with just enough nonchalance. Miranda understood it was anything but; although, it was Nigel, who, after twenty years and in spite of everything was still loyal and was a true friend. She decided to not thwart him; not completely at least.

In her most silky tone she replied. "Hmm, yes; a lovely party. Thank you so much for inviting me. I do regret that I didn't get to see you before I left."

He waved it off. "It was very crowded, I'm sure it would have been difficult to find me amongst all those people." What he did not say was that he had had his boss in his sights for most of the evening, having sought her out when he didn't witness her usual pattern of mingling. "Did you by chance run into anyone you knew?"

Miranda grew weary of the game; she really wished he'd just go so she could open her email but she was reluctant to just dismiss him. Since Paris, she had worked to repair some of the damage done; she gave him more responsibility, offered more positive feedback and less scathing criticism and had even had him to dinner at least once a month with her girls at the townhouse. When she saw he was about to fire off another round she sat down at her desk and raised her hand. "While I am certain that whatever you are about to say is going to be both witty and perhaps even entertaining, I would appreciate it if you were to just go ahead and say or ask whatever it is that is on your mind."

Nigel's mouth slapped shut and he moved towards the chair in front of her desk. Just as he was about to settle in she snapped. "Door."

He was surprised by her directness although he wasn't sure why; whenever something was important in her life she would usually dispense with the bullshit and meet it head on. And what Nigel long suspected was that one Andrea Sachs was very important to one Miranda Priestly. Still he closed his eyes for a moment before he turned around and prayed he wasn't going to be summarily executed.

"What's going on with you and Andy?"

"There, that wasn't so hard now was it?" She picked up a pen and tapped it against her upper lip, leaning back in the office chair that had been tailored for her form. "If I were to say nothing, would you believe me?"

The quirk of an eyebrow was all the answer she needed. She smiled, but it wasn't particularly nice.

"Fine. Nothing is going on, yet. And nothing may as yet go on. Andrea and I became aware of a mutual…" She searched for a word and brushed her hand around in the air. "…something while speaking at your party. We are in the process of determining the grounds for exploration of that, something…" She trailed off at the look on his face and squinted at him. "Are you going to insist upon wearing that insipid grin for the duration of my explanation?"

"Miranda, Miranda. I am really happy for you. That girl has been in love with you from long since before Harry Potter."

The editor could not school her reaction and looked entirely shocked by the revelation. "Surely you are not serious. How do you know this?"

He tapped the corner of his eye. "I see Miranda. You have been the most important person in her world for some time now. And she has been important to you for just as long, if not longer. So, voila, silly grin."

She closed her eyes. "Nigel, be serious, that girl has no idea who I really am; all she knows is what I've allowed her to see. This has the potential to turn into a complete nightmare."

"That girl 'sees' far more than you give her credit for and, I believe, has her own depth unrevealed." He interrupted. "And yes, it does. It also has the potential to be the best thing that's ever happened to both of you. I think it's up to you to decide which of those options you would like to have come to fruition and make it so."

The phone on her desk rang. "Yes Emily? Send them through."

"Nigel?" She stared at him for a moment longer and dipped her head. "That's all."

She thought of Nigel for a moment and continued in a different direction.

She looked at the clock, it was half passed ten, and sighed.

Which I guess won't be tonight.

She had just replaced the placeholder into her journal and was reaching for The Book when her phone rang.

Andy ended up leaving the office far later than she had wanted that night; they had needed her to help with some copy for the website and now, at ten of ten, she was only half way home. She leaned back in her seat and tried to order her thoughts. When Miranda gave her permission to call her she was beyond happy; now she was nervous. What the hell do I say to the woman? Hi Miranda, would you like to go on a date with me? Oh that so wouldn't do.

By the time she arrived at her subway stop she had worked herself into a near panic state. As soon as she was above ground she dialed Doug. Fortunately, he picked up.

"Hey Andy, how's it going?"


"Andy, you are a nut! Slow down and try that again. But first, take a deep breath."

"Doug, what can I say to her? I want to call her, She gave me her private number today and indicated that it was alright to call which is practically a directive unto itself!" Andy scanned the area around her as she turned onto her street, looking for anyone that may seem to have taken an interest in her. Even in her flustered state she still maintained an air of vigilance; it wasn't a horrible neighborhood, but still it wouldn't do to make herself an easy target.

"Andy, alright look. She doesn't give her number to just anyone right? So that means she already sees you as someone special. What did I tell you Saturday night? Just be yourself. You won't have to do all the work. She'll talk too. And even if she doesn't, just ask her to lunch or dinner or whatever, keep it simple. You can do this."

Andy unlocked the security door and headed for the elevator that was slower than a tortoise but meant she didn't have to trudge up four long flights of stairs. "Thanks, Doug, I just needed a little assurance. This is freaking me out because I don't want to screw it up. This could really be something. I really want to go for it with her. Listen, I need to hang up because I'm getting into the elevator. Thanks, you're the best!"

"Go for it Andy, you can do anything you set your mind to, remember that. Love you, bye."

Andy strode into her bedroom and glanced at the clock; quarter past ten. Late by Cincinnati standards but still early enough for Miranda which meant there was time to change into something comfortable. Trading her work clothes for a long sleeved t-shirt and yoga pants she headed to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Once the tea was ready she settled onto the sofa and stared at her phone. Five minutes of staring didn't change anything so she pulled up Miranda's number and hit send.

It rang twice before being picked up. This was it.

"Hello, Andrea." Miranda realized as soon as she said the woman's name that she had just let slip a tell. Miranda had programmed Andy's numbers in when she had arrived home on Saturday night. No help for it now.

Andrea, such as the state she was in, didn't notice. "Hi Miranda, I hope this is an okay time to call. I only got home from work about twenty minutes ago, but I just wanted to call because well I just wanted to call…" Shut up! You're babbling!

Miranda smiled at the nervousness in Andrea's voice, charmed instead of irritated. "It's alright, I was just getting ready to begin review of The Book, but I have a few minutes for you."

The way she emphasized "for you" settled something inside of Andy and she no longer felt like she was going to faint. "Good, I'm glad; thank you."

"You don't have to thank me Andrea; I am really glad you called."

"You are?"

"Why do you sound so surprised? I've found that I've missed you and I enjoyed our time at the party."

Andy felt like she had just stumbled through a wormhole or some other inter-dimensional rift for surely the universe had folded around her.

Deciding to take advantage of this alternate reality, she managed to somehow keep her next words even. "Would you be available for lunch sometime this week?"

"I'm afraid every day this week is already booked." Andy's world plummeted only to be lifted right back up as Miranda's voice continued. "However, I do have tomorrow evening free, would you care to accompany me to dinner?"

After the book was finished Miranda retired to her bed, but found she was unable to let go of a feeling of impending doom. She arose and made her way to her study and the comfort found within her desk drawer.

She paused and reread what she had written.

Miranda contemplated for several minutes.

She shook her head in disgust, closed her journal and went back to bed. Sleep, when it finally came, was not restful and she awakened knowing that she needed to end this thing before it could truly become something beyond her ability to control.


Chapter Six

Andy had just made it out the door of the Mirror at 6:10 the following evening when the distinctive black Mercedes pulled to the curb. Andrea mused that she no longer felt the fear long associated with the vehicle or its owner; rather an adrenalin rush of a different sort. She spared a moment to enjoy that sensation as Roy exited the car and held the back door of the driver's side for her.

Andy, having long ago gotten used to entering the car on the traffic side as Miranda slid across the seat for no one; acknowledged her one time work colleague. "Thank you Roy. It's good to see you again." She smiled as she ducked down into the car, checking her outfit one last time in the dark tinted glass.

She had dressed with extra care that day, the Chanel blouse that Nigel had commented on and a simple pair of trousers, while not designer, that flattered her form nicely. She had endured the entire day in a pair of black patent leather Jimmy Choo slingbacks, for which she received many comments, mostly in the form of good natured jibes, and had been busted more than once heading to the printer in her stocking feet.

She looked over to the woman sitting next to her as she settled into her seat and the car pulled away from the curb; she laid her jacket and purse on the seat beside her as the weather had actually made it to fifty degrees that day and she had no need for it. Miranda was currently on the phone and had looked up and offered a warm smile when their eyes met.

"Caroline, no, I told you yesterday morning that if you didn't complete the essay by last night that you wouldn't be able to go out with your friends this evening. I'm sorry dear, you understood the arrangement. Yes it is fair; Cassidy also understood and since she completed the work, she gets to go. No. And that is all I have to say on the matter, you know what you have to do. Yes, I should be home before you go to bed, I love you my darling."

Andy smiled as she listened to the woman converse with her daughter, unable to help but overhear. Miranda regarded her once she had clicked her phone shut. "Hello Andrea. Did you find my conversation amusing in some way?"

"The girls do their own homework now I gather?"

"Hmm, surely I don't know of a time when they did not. Do you?" She smirked as she lazily waved her hand into the air in front of her. "No matter; they do it now, but not without a battle. Especially Caroline, whose interests lie in less book-centered matters like art and fashion."

"So fifteen to twenty years from now the world will be witnessing the passing of the Runway torch from one generation to another?" Andrea meant it in a lighthearted fashion but was surprised at the response.

"Unless the universe suddenly manages to cease all movement and we are magically transported into the future, the answer would be no." Andy stared at the other woman, completely nonplussed. Miranda Priestly, iconic editor of the premier fashion magazine in the world and the single most influential human being in the fashion industry all but came out and said that she had been giving thought to a time when Runway would not be in her life. Before she could voice the question in her eyes Miranda halted her words with a quiet. "Let it go Andrea; just let it go." The "please" was implied and it didn't cost Andy anything but her curiosity to comply. The look received she believed was one of relief.

Miranda was definitely relieved, but also quite piqued with herself. What is it about this young woman that just makes me lose all sense? She had resolved upon waking that she would take care of this once and for all, but now, sitting in such close proximity, taking in the natural beauty and that indefinable something that seemed to inexorably draw the older woman in, she felt herself waver. The desire to reach out and caress the pale perfect skin, to trace lips so invitingly soft was nearly overwhelming. She mentally shook her head and snorted in disgust at her weakness. Again. She needed to somehow regain a little control here.

After several minutes of silence Andy turned her head and looked around her, recognizing the area they were now in as being fairly close to where her apartment with Nate used to be. "I don't remember any great dining experiences in this part of the Lower East Side Miranda. Where're we going?"

Miranda did not reply but sported that small, sly grin that Andy associated with her after having won some type of victory or having been proven right. She decided to let it go and trust that whatever Miranda had in store would be safe and probably really interesting.

They pulled up to a cluster of former warehouse buildings, all nicely refurbished but understated. There were no flashy signs but there were people moving about on the street. The building Roy deposited them in front of had a storefront with what looked to be an herbalist in residence.

Still in silence, Miranda considering how she might regain her equilibrium and Andy absorbing her surroundings, they walked towards the side of the building and into an alleyway, where after about twenty-five feet, was a metal door flanked by two small engraved bronze plaques inset into the brick. Both plaques contained reliefs of a highly stylized flower, Andy thought probably an iris. Somewhere in their stroll Miranda had produced a keycard from her purse and after they had stood in front of the door for a moment she waved it over the iris on the right and a slight clicking sound indicated that the lock had released. Andy noted absently, as the door was opened, that Roy turned from his position at the end of the alley, presumably to return to the car and whatever it was he did while he was on standby.

They entered into a hallway with cracked and slightly crumbling plaster walls, typical of a factory worker entrance, even with the slight feeling of decay about it; the time card punch with the broken glass front confirmed her thoughts nicely. Andy felt pleased with herself for getting the story right and relaxed into absorbing the experience, She knew they weren't just going to be wandering around an abandoned warehouse all evening. Something really cool was going to be revealed. Of course the curves of that perfect behind revealed by each step Miranda took, shifting fluidly under the pencil skirt, was nearly entertainment enough; and that flame of desire that had flared at the party suddenly returned with a vengeance.

The wooden floor creaked under the progression of their footsteps as they made their way by the light of several bare incandescent bulbs with round metal shades hanging from the ceiling. Neither woman had said a word since they entered the space but Miranda looked over at her as they stopped at what appeared to be a large freight elevator, and shot her a look that Andy couldn't quite decipher.

"Are you sufficiently curious by now? Hmm, perhaps even slightly worried, alone with the Dragon Lady, no one around to help or to witness." The older woman leaned in closer to her prey, at her most shark-like, purring in a whispery dark tone. "You could simply disappear and no one would even begin to know where to look."

Andy, to her credit, didn't even flinch, rather she saw the humor and perhaps even a bit of challenge in the other woman's eye and decided to turn the tables. The elevator had yet to open, so she guessed it would not unless the keycard was somehow used again. This told her no one would be popping in suddenly; also she figured that they had been under surveillance, probably since they approached the front of the building, so decided that the area to the left of the elevator would do nicely.

"How do you know that it's not you who should be worried Miranda?" The younger woman whispered as she edged closer, inching her backwards slowly. "How do you know that I haven't been just biding my time, waiting for the perfect moment to get back at you for all of those horrible things you put me through?" She slowed the cadence of her words and prodded her with her stare. "Remember how you used to run me ragged, testing me, pushing me, looking down at me?"

She allowed a slight curve of her lips. "Remember the hurricane?"

The younger woman, who now seemed far more dangerous, moved as close to the other woman as possible without stepping on her toes; nearly the same height now due to the extra inch Miranda's shoes had on Andy's.

"Remember Harry. Fucking. Potter?" They stared into one another's eyes and Andy saw a question mirrored there. Her breathing increased and she drew in not only the scent of Miranda's perfume, but of the uniqueness of the other woman. Suddenly she pushed forward and grabbed Miranda by the upper arms, pushing her all the way back into the darkened corner; she noted absently that the wall there looked fairly new and it was clean and some part of her brain not controlled by her lizard self was gratified that the fashion queen's outfit would not be marred where it had impacted.

Andy held her there for a moment, her body now crushing up against Miranda's, rendering her immobile; one hand stroking the delicate slope of her neck. "How do you know Miranda? How do you know?" Without waiting for a response she took the other woman's head in both hands, sifting through the iconic hair briefly before gripping handfuls of it and holding her there.

Andy moved her head back slightly, dark brown eyes staring intently; she could see that she had startled the other woman. Andy felt the realization that the predator knew she was now the prey for the silver panther closed her eyes and trembled.

Andy felt the shiver and it aroused her like nothing else ever had. She closed the small distance between them and crushed her lips to the woman who had sparked so many dreams and fantasies, completely unprepared for the resulting cascade of liquid emotion. She felt everything and nothing; fully alive for perhaps the first time in her young life.

Lips moved under hers and then parted allowing their tongues to caress and pull. Andy's hands slid down the shapely form, lightly exploring and caressing until they rested on the part of the older woman's anatomy that had started all of this; it took all of her willpower to not explore the flesh she could now feel shifting under the material of the skirt; all of her self-control to not push up the skirt and determine whether or not the lack of panty lines was due to a thong or nothing at all. The thought further loosened the fragile control she had over the primal beast that seemed to have taken over her actions and she dug her fingers in and squeezed. The other woman jolted forward until she was pressed even tighter against her, hands pulling Andy in by her shoulders and their kiss intensified. Andy's knee was pressed between Miranda's knees as the skirt had inched up enough that allowed her thigh to just barely come into contact with the juncture of the other woman's legs. One of her hands reached down to caress the silk clad thigh and she was nearly lost.

The moan she released into Miranda's mouth served to shake her from her daze; where was she? She pulled back from the kiss and took in her surroundings. Suddenly the hand that had been sending such pleasurable signals only seconds before now felt as though it was a conspirator abetting in a crime. Oh my god, what am I doing?! Even as she was questioning herself her traitorous hand had continued its light stroking. I have no control over myself! The thought panicked her nearly as much as the realization that she was so very close to crossing a line within herself, which, until that moment, she hadn't even been aware was in existence.

Miranda felt the air leave her lungs as the other woman pressed her back into the wall. This young woman never ceased to surprise her and, as she felt the control that Andrea had taken over her, she shuddered in amazement at her own acquiescence. So much for putting her back where she belongs, eh Miranda? Her inner voice chided.

When Andy moved her head back slightly, the dark brown eyes startled the other woman. She had seen many things in those expressive eyes. Indeed it had intrigued her, the way Andrea could speak without words so effectively, but the look she was receiving at that moment nearly devastated her with its intensity.

She couldn't move beyond the position of her head, pinned in place; such "man"handling by anyone else would have enraged her. Indeed Stephen had found out the hard way one night after he had a bit too much to drink that she would not be handled roughly; the neat oval scar of her bite on his upper arm was proof. No, her reaction was much different, perhaps even confusing except for the feeling of rightness.

When Andrea's lips sought her own she was ready for a painful onslaught of aggression. What she received instead was a mastery, yes, but also a gentle exploration that built with the contribution of both as equals. When Andrea's hands slid achingly over her body she felt every millimeter spark to life and when they explored the globes of her ass she shivered with the knowledge that the young woman was searching for edges that did not exist due to the barely there thong she sported. When Andrea moaned into her mouth it was pure sex and she very nearly tumbled into an orgasm right there.

So she was somewhat surprised when the other woman ceased all activity and then moments later, hastily pushed herself away and took two steps back. The sudden coolness of the hallway they were standing in registered as well as what they had been doing, in a public space no less. Although as she looked around she realized that Andrea had protected her yet again, unless the cameras were fitted with night vision lenses, nothing of what just what went on would have been captured. She felt comforted by this revelation, so it was somewhat of a shock when a flashback to the tearful young woman who had apologized for her failure to return her home whilst a hurricane raged made an unexpected reappearance.

"Oh my god, Miranda, I'm so sorry! I didn't hurt you did I?" Andrea made as if to reach for the other woman, but stopped suddenly as if she didn't have the right. Miranda's confusion intensified.

Andy was fully engaged now in being horrified by her behavior. It was one thing to harbor fantasies, but to behave in such a manner was completely out of character. Surely Miranda would now march her ass back out onto the street and she would never see her again.

While the two women attempted to regain their equilibrium Miranda straightened her short jacket and skirt. Andrea looked fairly put together. And why wouldn't she? It was she who had you pressed against the wall. Her lower region responded longingly at the thought, still absolutely amazed that it was her only reaction.

"Andrea." When the other woman began to pace agitatedly Miranda repeated herself louder.

"Andrea, stop. Listen to me, I am alright. You didn't do anything wrong." Her heart nearly broke when she saw the pleading look in the younger woman's eyes. "That's right, it's alright. But it won't be if we don't get ourselves onto that elevator in the next minute. Our hosts grow uneasy if their guests do not adhere to protocol and fail to appear when expected."

Andrea's nod indicated to Miranda that she was coming back from whatever panic place she had stepped into, but even as it relieved the older woman she realized that the number of things they needed to discuss had just doubled within the span of the last few minutes. She put that aside for now. "Andrea, since we are sorely deprived of a mirror I need to rely on you to ensure that I don't look like I've been suddenly ravished in a darkened doorway."

The young woman blushed, but gamely pulled it together. Andrea's initial shock at her behavior was lessening and morphing more into a general confusion, but she always rose to the occasion when the other woman needed her. Miranda had waved the keycard over another bronze plaque and they heard the hydraulics of the lift activate. While they waited, Andy straightened and brushed at Miranda's couture until it would have taken an extremely critical eye to discern that anything was remotely amiss. As she centered the skirt her hands couldn't resist a caress to the hips that soon became a stronger hold; her fingers itched to slide that damn skirt up and over hips she just knew would be perfect. Just as she was about to step in and continue where they had been a minute prior the elevator arrived and the doors slid open.

Miranda smiled and brushed by the other woman, who seemed rooted in place. Miranda nodded her head once and Andy good naturedly shook hers and smiled while she sidled up and maintained a perfectly respectable distance. Miranda nearly pouted even as she saw the necessity of it.

When the doors opened it was to a different world. The wood floor of the warehouse was still present but here it was polished so it reflected the warmth of halogen lighting tucked into deep canisters. They faced a dark oak bar with an elaborately carved back piece inset with a mirror its entire length. As they drew closer Andy could see that the carvings were all females sporting small wings, like fairies or wood nymphs and she smiled in delight. She noticed there were about a dozen patrons sprinkled throughout the space, some were alone and some were in couples, all of them female. She looked closer at one woman in particular, while trying not to stare; she swore she bore an uncanny resemblance to a CNN correspondent recently returned from a long overseas assignment, while the older blond woman across from her looked like…her mind screeched to a halt for a moment. No fucking way!

A tall, slender yet shapely woman with porcelain skin and long auburn hair pulled back with a cloisonné clasp emerged from a door way, interrupting Andy's assessment and held out her hand to her companion in greeting. She was dressed in a crisp, deep burgundy pantsuit and her age was indeterminable; she could have been thirty, she could have been fifty. "Miranda, it has been too long." They air kissed both cheeks as their hands clasped briefly, it felt very European and the woman's distinctive accent added to the impression. When they separated the woman turned towards her "I am Madeline, the proprietor of this establishment, welcome?"

Andy heard the implied question and, always helpful, responded. "Andrea." That she offered the official form of her name escaped her, but not her companion who only smiled, oddly pleased.

"Andrea." She repeated Andy's pronunciation, which was in the prosaic manner of her parents, and it reminded Andy of how utterly unique Miranda's take continued to be. "Your table is ready, please follow me."

They passed through the rest of the bar and entered into a room that looked as though it could serve as a dance floor, complete with a raised dais at the far end of the space; large windows with darkened glass resting in the naked brick wall backed up the scene. Andy noted that there were a number of open doorways flanking the entire space on both sides and she observed a server or two moving into and out of them. As they entered one of what she realized to be an alcove Andy discovered that it led to a private booth space, thus allowing the patrons to be completely protected from unwarranted observation.

"Miranda, I'm impressed. I never would have imagined a place such as this existed." She looked around and took in the subdued lighting, the fine crystal and silver setting. The color palette of the walls, except for the naked brick of what she trusted to be an outer wall and the tablecloth appeared in the low light to be an eggshell or off white while the carpet was dark solid rust. Rich wood, carved with a forest motif of trees and vines and more of the wood nymphs seen in the bar, framed the booth which was upholstered with an extensively patterned sculpting of flowers in a monochromatic tone just a few shades lighter than the carpet. On the wall, both in front of the booth and behind were paintings, abstract with bold colors, but she could tell the forms were somehow feminine. An arrangement of flowers graced the table, subtle in both color and scent. The overall feel of the space managed an intriguing blend of masculine and feminine which Andy realized was very soothing. They settled in so that a distance amenable to easy conversation separated them.

A waitperson, with an accent not unlike Madeline's (French? But slightly different from the French she knew) immediately appeared at tableside and Miranda, after receiving a nod of assent from Andy, ordered a bottle of wine. For the moment, the menus placed on the side of the table were ignored as the two women regarded one another. Unable to help herself, Andy reached for the older woman's hand and drew it over so it rested lightly in her lap; as her fingers caressed a certain spot between the surprisingly long fingers of her companion's she heard a light gasp and noted it for future reference. Relenting she contented with simply holding the hand lightly for a moment before kissing the palm and returning it to its owner.

Miranda tightened the hand into a fist, feeling the kiss like a burn of acid. She had wanted to talk but found, like downstairs in front of the elevator, that her hormones were flooding her senses with multiple urges and pleasurable sensations, while slowing the transmitters of rational thought, inhibition and intelligent conversation. However Miranda was not one to give in when she knew something was important.

"Andrea, I brought you here because I believe we need to talk. It's private enough that we won't be overheard, but not so private that we are free to lose ourselves to this physical "thing" between us. After all, anyone could step in at any moment."

As if to highlight her point the waitperson returned with the wine. After it was approved of and poured, she inquired if they were ready to order. Andy moved to grab one of the menus, but was stopped by Miranda's hand covering her own. "Do you trust me Andrea?"

Andy's response was immediate. "Yes."

With a pleased nod, Miranda turned to the waitress and fired off a list of instructions, all in perfectly modulated French. Andy's body reacted like someone had just taken her nipple in their mouth and bit. She shifted slightly as she watched the server exit and, when she spoke, her tone focused like a laser. "Miranda, I think you failed to consider one minor point when you arranged for this location as our 'safe' ground."

"Oh? Do continue." Miranda was growing increasingly uncomfortable, even her most formidable will had limits.

Andy swallowed at the audacity of the words she was about to say. "The fact that I might not entirely care that we could have an audience, and…" She drew the word out and leaned over until she was level with the other woman's ear, gambling. "I have a feeling that you may not either."

The light wisp of breath along the sensitive skin behind her ear, the tracing of an indefinable pattern upon her thigh and the voyeuristic intimation all combined to create a craving so high and intense that Miranda felt suddenly that her need was as essential to her as breathing; and it didn't stop there.

Andy's hand slid down the hem of the worsted wool skirt; she palmed the inside of the knee and began to slowly slide the hand upwards. A tentative tongue, that grew bolder with each labored inhale of the silver-haired beauty, danced around the shell of a delicate ear. "Andrea?" Miranda whispered.

"Yes Miranda?" Uttered on an exhale that further released a shower of tingles throughout the older woman's body. "I can smell you Miranda; how you want me." Her hand had continued to inch higher until it met resistance from the stiff fabric of the skirt. A pencil skirt did not provide easy access. "Miranda, next time, I want you to wear something that will allow my hand to go where it so desires. Do you want that too?"

You have no idea how badly…. Miranda gulped in a cleansing breath and reached for her wine glass. Her body was trembling noticeably and the wine glass shook slightly as she placed it back on the table. Look at you, practically begging for it. Get a hold of yourself! Miranda merely shrugged at her inner voice, completely caught in the moment.

The two women remained nestled together, Andrea continuing to nuzzle her neck while her hand, having ceased its upward climb, continued to weave suggestive patterns on the soft sensitive skin just at the top of her thigh-highs. Miranda contemplated the position she was in, so completely aroused and so close to giving in and allowing the younger woman to…to what, have it off on the table?

Another nibble at the tender skin behind her ear, a puff of breath, another shudder; but instead of a massive loss of control an all-encompassing awareness cascaded through the always controlled editor. This person, this deceptively innocent looking young woman, had triggered something primal and messy and completely miraculous. It became crystal clear that this young woman would own her body, and that her heart was in equal peril. The realization filled her with such joy and yet such sorrow that she nearly wept with the fullness of it. It also gave her the power to pull back and gain control over herself within that very moment.

"Andrea." Eyes clouded with lust gazed back up at her. "I need you to listen very carefully to what I am about to say to you." She shifted back from the other woman so that they were not touching at all.

"I had intentions of talking to you about what you could possibly want from an old woman, such as myself. No, no." At Andy's attempt at interruption, Miranda waved her off. "Let me say this. I need to say this.

"I recognize that there are some real hurdles that we face, age being one of them. There are also other things, things about me you do not know. I have been doing much thinking. I initially wanted to set boundaries, to find out your motivations, your desires, if you wanted more than a mere dalliance. I have many concerns around that. I have many feelings for you, you awaken something in me, but I am very conflicted. I told myself that I wouldn't allow myself to become involved with you if I thought that you would be in any way hurt by our association; that you would perhaps want more than I am able to give. You deserve someone younger, with more in common, someone deserving of you. I was strongly considering that this would be our only meeting."

At the younger woman's gasp, Miranda placed one hand over Andy's and silenced her younger companion.

"But in the span of thirty minutes you have managed to do something that no one else has ever done before, even with years of trying. You have managed to make me not care about any of it at all and I am sorry. I don't understand it, I don't have a frame of reference for it, I barely recognize myself at all in this, but I can now see the totality of the picture. I must have you. I must have you in every sense of the word. Perhaps even stronger within me is an intense need for you to have me; all of me. I want to be fucked by you so badly, that I would be willing to do it with whoever was watching, wherever you would want." Miranda took in the effect of her words, uttered in her soft even tones that had grown raspier with each declaration. Andrea shifted in her seat, thighs pressed closer together.

She continued, voice growing firmer. "But our first time will not be here. No. I want entirely too much for our first time to be a mere quickie in a public place. I want you to have me for hours. When you touch me I want you to touch me through my clothes and then touch me out of my clothes. I want you to use me in every imaginable way and then I want to do the same to you. Do you understand me Andrea? It will not happen tonight, but it will happen and I am willing."

The sexual haze that Andy had been succumbing to coalesced into something more deeply profound with each word the older woman spoke. She railed at Miranda's depiction of herself as a foolish old woman; as if a number somehow should negate the beauty of a lifetime lived. She felt herself grow angry and nearly heartbroken that the other woman had basically told her that there was no possibility of a long-term relationship. As she listened she realized that the other woman was leaving much unsaid; the editor had intimated that she perhaps had feelings beyond the physical, yet only told Andy what she believed was inevitable. There were further clues buried within the artifice; Miranda explained herself to no one, the expressed wish to not harm Andy emotionally and the physical vulnerability offered up so selflessly spoke of a much deeper well that reassured the younger woman.

Recognition of this filled Andy with hope and a profound gratitude made more intense because by offering her physical self so completely Miranda was in fact accepting Andy in a way that no one ever had. The younger woman felt determination settle in, even as the actual chances for her in the long run of sharing this woman's heart caused her to want to weep with despair. Ever pragmatic, the young girl reached the same conclusion as her future lover, it did not matter, she had to have her and only hope it could be much more.

She managed to hold back the tears, mostly, but when she looked up and met the other woman's gaze one lone tear managed to break free and track gently along the slope of her cheek. When Miranda captured that tear with her finger and then brought the finger to her lips she thought she would faint; when her tongue lazily peeked out and licked it away Andy nearly got down on one knee and asked the woman to marry her.

It was at that moment that the waitperson returned with a small platter and two plates. Andrea looked at the offering and smiled; a beef Carpaccio liberally drizzled with what looked like a vinaigrette, some type of oil, either olive or perhaps truffle and capers. Rustic crackers were placed next to it. "Miranda, I…"

"Andrea, please, may we just eat?"

Andy snorted with the irony; all around her everyday were women starving themselves to fit in at Runway. She remembered all the times that Miranda had glared at her whenever she would mention a meal that Nate had cooked for her. Only now… "Miranda, whenever you would glare at me when I would mention a meal my former boyfriend had cooked for me, it didn't have anything at all to do with the fact that I was consuming mass carbs and fat, did it?"

The silver haired woman smiled at the apparent non-sequitur and in answer picked up a cracker, rolling some of the paper thin meat and sauce onto it. She then offered it to the other woman and said. "I am sure that I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Here, try this."

Andy leaned forward and allowed the other woman to guide the morsel into her mouth. It melted like butter and she closed her eyes and moaned softly as she licked a bit of vinaigrette from her lip. Oooh, definitely truffle oil.

When she opened them again the stare she received was enough to liquefy her entire body. Even when Miranda had been at her most focused while engaged in her work, she had never displayed a look so piercing in intensity. Andy could see that every muscle was set in a portrait of tension, like a cobra waiting to strike.

Andy groaned again. "Jesus, Miranda, please, if we are going to survive this meal you have got to not look at me like that." She swallowed hard and reached for her water glass.

Fingernails digging into the palms of both hands and jaw clenched so it nearly ached Miranda managed to bank her desire back into a slow burn. Honestly you are going to have a bloody stroke if you don't watch yourself. When she spoke it was in a harsh whisper. "Andrea, for me to continue to comport myself with any shred of self-respect," She swallowed. "please refrain from any further moaning at the table."

The rest of the meal followed in an only slightly less torturous fashion. A course would arrive and Andy's eyes would practically roll with the flavors. Miranda managed to adjust by looking upon the entire display with amusement.

"Honestly Andrea, I don't believe I have ever seen anyone enjoy food to the degree that you do." Despite the cool tone Miranda sported a warm smile at the younger woman.

Andy sipped at her wine, they had just finished the cheese course and dessert was soon to be served. "That was probably the worst thing about working at Runway; I felt that I had to somehow pretend that I was indifferent to food. And with Emily perpetually dieting and scowling daily at me if I even so much as nibbled at anything bigger than a cheese cube, I just put aside the love of the food and ate for sustenance."

Miranda made a lazy, sweeping glance at Andrea's figure. "I can see that you must have rediscovered your passion since leaving us."

Andy paused. She could take this several ways but decided before she allowed her feelings to be hurt and say something snippy that she would clarify. So she responded neutrally, eyes glancing away. "I haven't gotten from you that you find my form to be displeasing."

Miranda started at the comment. "Forgive me Andrea, I realized after I said it that it could be interpreted in a manner that I do not mean. Your curves are one of the things that make you so beautiful. If I wanted all skin and bones, I would certainly have my pick wouldn't you say?" She sipped again at her wine. "No, I was merely meaning that you do not appear starved for which I am truly grateful."

"Thank you for explaining that to me." She smiled, suddenly very pleased. "It feels really good to just be able to sit here and talk to you; not feeling like I have to watch every word or worry about not asking you questions. This is really nice."

"One of the things I have never been particularly good at is communication. In the past I have failed miserably in that department." Left unsaid was that she was hopeful of doing better with the younger woman, but it seemed that perhaps she needn't spell that out if the young woman's beaming smile was any indication.


"Miranda, this, meaning the last few days including Nigel's party, feels like a dream to me. And to realize that I am actually sitting here, with you on a date. It's, I don't know the words, fuckingfantastic!"

Miranda laughed; it sounded like water over pebbles in a stream and her whole body shook with it.

"Did I just say that out loud? Okay, well, it is. I've dreamt about this for so long."

"Have you really?" Miranda was suddenly serious.

"Miranda, this isn't just a passing thing for me. I know you didn't want me to really go into it tonight because I know we got really intense earlier, but you've got to know that. I've been gone on you for a long, long time. It's just that before Saturday night I never saw any hope for what I felt to be anything more than a one-sided fantasy."

Their server chose that moment to appear with their dessert. A berry tart for Miranda and chocolate mousse for Andy.

Andy looked down at the plate with the small crystal goblet centered on it. "Uh Miranda, that part about no moaning? Ain't gonna happen here; prepare yourself." Then she shot her an evil grin.

What is it about this girl? Even when she's acting like a goofy adolescent I can't find anything within myself except fascination and tenderness.

After settling into the back of the Mercedes Andrea gave Roy her address; she casually perused the front of the car as he entered it into the dashboard GPS and they discussed various one way streets and which routes were still usually clogged with traffic at this time of night. She was unaware that she was the center of attention for the older woman.

Miranda watched as the younger woman casually leaned forward to speak with Roy. She had become so graceful and elegant; that she had ever been the gawky fashion train wreck of her first weeks at Runway was nearly inconceivable. The cool blue eyes greedily trailed the curve of Andrea's body; her right arm was extended to rest on the partition's ledge thus pulling at the fabric of her blouse while the curves of her rounded bottom became even more evident. Miranda hoped that they would conclude their conversation quickly so that the overhead light would no longer illuminate her temptation.

Finally Andrea sank back into the seat and the privacy partition was raised; the only lights now were those at ankle level and whatever outside light made it through the tinted glass. She noted that they both took care to maintain an appropriate distance between themselves.

Miranda elected to try for the safety of casual conversation. Plus she was genuinely curious about Andrea's life. "The Upper West Side Andrea? When did you move there?"

"About six months ago and it could technically be called Harlem, but it's a close thing. One of my colleagues is on a five year assignment in Europe and needed someone, preferably someone she knew, to sub-lease it. It's really perfect since it had been in her family for years and is rent-controlled; that's how I'm able to afford two bedrooms in Manhattan on my own."

"Mmm. Tell me about the neighborhood."

"Well I like it because there are a lot of great takeout places nearby, the Cathedral Parkway subway station isn't too far of a walk and best of all, Morningside Park is only a block or so away." Andrea paused for a moment, remembering there was something she had wanted to ask.

"Miranda, I'm curious about something."


"Tell me about that club we were just at. How did you find out about it? Do you have to be a member or do you just know someone who's a member?"

"I had wondered when you would get around to that. It actually took you longer than I thought."

Andy felt her face grow warm, but answered coyly. "Well I was distracted for most of the night."

"Did you know that your blush is very becoming?"

Andy blushed harder and then heard the rustle of material and in spite of watching as Miranda moved closer she was still startled when a hand covered her own.

"Oh no," she chuckled, "you're not going to distract me again Priestly, why don't you tell me about the club?"

When the older woman moved as though to release her hand, Andy tightened her grip slightly. "No, keep it there, I like it."

Miranda reacted to the mild command with a slight shiver. "Very well. As you could tell by some of the clientele, who I know you were eyeing by the way, it is a very exclusive club. It's designed as a place for women who wish to relax, or dine, in a discreet setting; to do so without worry of being unknowingly observed."

"Is it exclusively lesbian?"

"I cannot answer for anyone else as to their orientation, but a good proportion of the women who are members are indeed women who seek out the company of their own sex."

"So that brings me to you Miranda, are you a member?"

"No, I was there as a guest of a very dear friend of mine. However I may be finding myself inclined to become one in the future. Would you enjoy returning at some time?"

Andy was extremely curious and perhaps even a bit jealous of this friend, but didn't want to push. "Definitely; I really enjoyed myself. I appreciate that you trusted me enough to share it with me."

"There was never any question about trusting you. I believe I know you well enough to know that you would never do anything to betray that."

Andy brought their clasped hands up to her lips and gently brushed them against the other woman's knuckles eliciting the softest of sighs.

"When can I see you again Miranda?"

"Friday after school the girls leave to go to their father's for the weekend and I had plans only to work."

"Would you come to my apartment for dinner then?"

"I have a meeting with one of the board members that will run no later than seven. I probably wouldn't be able to make it until about eight thirty."

"That would work out fine as I probably won't finish until about six anyway. It'll give me time to throw some food together."

"So you know how to cook?"

"Remember that I dated a chef for four years, but even before then I was fairly competent in the kitchen. I love food, so it was natural that I learn how to make it properly, but I hope you won't be disappointed if it's not of the caliber of tonight's meal."

"Hardly my dear, I am just looking forward to spending more time with you."

Andy looked out the window and tried to figure out how much farther they had to go. The car had just passed 86th St. and traffic was moving fairly well; her heart sank. Not much further then.

"What are you thinking Andrea?" Miranda's voice had dropped to a nearly indecipherable level.

"That I wish this night didn't have to end, but we're almost to my apartment. And…" She wriggled slightly in her seat and rubbed the flat of her free hand on her thigh. Miranda released her right hand.


That came from much closer and Andy turned and found herself staring into piercing blue eyes scant inches away. She closed the gap and allowed her lips to explore the welcoming softness, amazed at the passion she could feel simmering below the cool façade of the other woman.

They kissed leisurely for several moments and then Andy deepened it, caressing the other woman's tongue with her own; diving in, retreating and then repeating the process. They took a moment to breathe and Andy decided that she once again had to taste the inviting softness of Miranda's neck. She started just below her ear, sucking lightly and then flicking her tongue; she could feel the shivers course through the other woman and trailed the tip of her tongue along the artery. She swore she could feel the older woman's pulse through her tongue.

Miranda released a gasp as Andy danced magic down her neck. No one had ever paid such reverent attention to this part of her body and it set off tiny rivulets of energy from the top of her head down to her knees. Oh my god, will I survive this woman?

Needing to feel those wonderfully responsive lips yet again, Andy returned to nearly plunder her quarry. Neither women felt it as the car slowed down and then stopped, so deep was their involvement. She thought she heard a voice in the distance not unlike a radio announcer but discarded it as irrelevant. The car rocked slowly as Roy got out and the slamming of his door registered in Miranda's mind as something she should care about but she was too consumed with the taste and feel of her Andrea to let it disrupt this exquisite moment.

Andy shifted both of them so they were now turned into one another more completely and sifted her fingers through the impossibly soft hair as she returned once again to laying kisses along the smooth column of white. When she reached the collar of the silk white blouse she inhaled deeply and nudged the fabric away to lick the collarbone below.

"God Andrea, you have got to stop." Miranda brought both hands up from where they had been gripping the hips of the younger woman and buried them in her hair. When her words did not register she gathered large handfuls of hair and tugged gently. "Andrea." Her tone was a little sharper this time and deep pools of brown jerked up and stared dully at her. Full red and kiss dampened lips were parted as tiny gasps of air escaped.


"Andrea, I believe the car has stopped. We've arrived." It cost her dearly to continue to speak. "I do not believe that Roy is in the car."

Andrea released her hold on the other woman and slumped back in the seat.

"Holy fuck" the younger woman gasped as she looked over as Miranda attempted to straighten her hair and her blouse. "What you do to me."

Miranda stopped all motion and returned the stare. "And what you do to me."

"What day is today?" Andy nearly whined and then she pouted. "I have to wait until Friday to see you again?"

"Yes, unfortunately we do. I'll be here at eight-thirty; don't prepare anything too elaborate I don't anticipate we'll be getting to it with any expediency."

With this she suddenly leaned across the space between them, kissed Andy one last time, hard, shoved her leather jacket and purse into her hands and then opened the car door, practically pushing her out. "Go."

Andy stumbled slightly and then straightened to her full height. She looked around at the nearly deserted street and spied Roy standing near the entrance to her building, smoking a cigarette, eyes staring in the opposite direction. Andy smiled at his discretion as she ran a hand through her hair.

She approached him as she fished her key out of her bag and managed an even, "Goodnight Roy." As she unlocked the security door with slightly trembling hands, she didn't look back.

Miranda watched the shadowy form of her soon to be lover move around the car and into the building then saw Roy drop his cigarette on the sidewalk and lightly step on it before she heard the car door open and felt as his weight settled into the driver's seat.

She shook her head at the audacity of it all; necking in the back seat of her car as if she was a juvenile. But she smiled, a full smile; she felt more alive than she had in years.

When they arrived back at her home some thirty minutes later she exited the car and stared him straight in the eye. She may have detected a slight smile in his eyes but his expression remained professionally neutral and he tipped his head at her in what seemed to be respect.

In a fit of sentimentality or maybe it was simple gratitude at all that the man had endured in her employ over the years, she wasn't entirely sure, Miranda quirked her lips. "I don't believe I've told you how much I appreciate your service to me Roy. Expect a raise in your next paycheck. That's all."

Andy tucked her pajama bottomed legs up under a soft throw her mother had sent her and adjusted her position on the sofa so she could more comfortably move the pen. It felt weird to write longhand; she hadn't written in her journal since, she looked back at the last entry, she had newly returned from Paris.

Andy dragged a trembling hand through her hair. She could feel the moisture gathering in between her legs; again.

Miranda had arrived home too late to see her girls, but she did stop to check in on each of them; giving a kiss on foreheads and adjusting covers. Now she sat in her study, The Book awaiting her attention. She looked at the clock and decided it could wait for a few minutes needing instead to commit some of her thoughts to paper.

She pulled out the elegantly sculpted leather bound journal; two of the journals always arrived at her house on the eve of the New Year, a gift from Ralph Lauren. The tradition had begun after the news of her pregnancy had made the rounds and it had been uninterrupted for going on thirteen years now. She smiled, for someone who ran an empire nearly as big as that of Miranda's he was a remarkably insightful and down to earth man.

She returned to the place that she had last written and opened the envelope that was her placeholder. Andrea's letter to her explaining her leaving; at the time it had generated more questions than it answered but now she could see it as if it was written in black and white. Andrea was drawn to her even then.

Part 7

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