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 Eleven

The morning dawned cold and gray; rising sun weakly attempting to bring warmth and failing miserably. A shrill noise penetrated Andy's deep slumber and for a few moments she felt the sense of urgency to rise and prepare for another work day. But before her sleep-muddled brain could sort out the details and her eyes could open she heard a sigh as the warmth that had been spread along most of her back, rolled away and quietly removed itself from the bed.

Keeping her eyes closed she listened as there was a slight rustle of cloth and then the bathroom door was softly closed.

Stretching lightly, a slight arc to her back as her toes tipped the bottom of the mattress, she inhaled deeply. Mmm, I'll be changing the sheets today. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll hold onto this for a little while longer. Enveloped as she was in the smell of the woman she loved; well, she hadn't told her yet, but she did indeed love her. She reflected on the withholding, intuiting that it would definitely be too much too soon, especially given the older woman's…What exactly was that all about yesterday? Fear? Insecurity? Whatever it was, that was some kind of crazy. The young woman laughed at herself, smiling because to have this magnificent woman in her life she would endure a little bit of complicated, neurosis, or blind panic. Her smile faded, it wasn't funny at all, her heart went out to the other woman; it was painfully obvious that her lover…The smile returned. Miranda is my lover! It was obvious to the younger woman that her lover, who had been hurt so deeply by events in her younger days, was deeply afraid to trust. She rubbed the heels of her palms on the sides of her head. You don't pick the easy ones do you Sachs? She ignored the fact that that little voice sounded remarkably like her current boss. Ah that's right, no work today, it's Sunday.

Which took her back to the office gossip and her eyes stared at the ceiling as her brow furrowed and tried to figure out what to do about that. A talk with Miranda about it would probably be a good start. Coffee to go with it would be even better. So she dragged her sluggish body out of the warm comfort of the bed, wincing at a particularly sore muscle and looked for some clothes. She picked up her shirt from yesterday and revealed Miranda's sketchpad; she had forgotten all about it in their constant "distraction" the day before. Curious, she rested back on the edge of the bed and opened the nearly filled pad gasping in wonder at what she found.

Miranda was a true artist. Sketch after sketch revealed garments of the most intriguing and unique designs that flattered the forms of the faceless forms upon which they were draped. She paused with a fond smile as she came to several pages devoted to the twins; the woman had captured their innocence and sense of play with seemingly no effort in the strokes and, she noted, no erase lines. It was easy to see the love she had for her girls, the sketches communicating a tenderness and deep feeling without trite sentimentality. Indeed her style was an intriguing mix of traditional portraiture blended with a bold Spartan style. She remembered seeing a showing by a Chinese artist recently, Yuqi Wang, and his portrait of a woman sitting on a chair; that painting, replete of background detail, forcing the viewer to focus solely on the subject, was what called to mind as she looked at the images before her, particularly those using color.

As her eyes moved hungrily through the pages she became aware that the models all began to take a more recognizable shape and form; more womanly curves, dark flowing hair but she was unaware of the identity of this particular model. It was with no small amount of surprise when she turned one of the pages towards the middle of the book and found herself staring back at herself. "Oh my god!" A whisper that sounded more like a strangled gasp. From that point forward mostly every sketch unless it was apparent that a different body type was required for a particular style of garment, was of Andy. She swept by several more sketches of the girls in her quest for yesterday's effort; she wasn't disappointed. There were two of her asleep, partial nudes, folds of the sheets caressing her body as tenderly as a lover and a third, when revealed nearly caused her to swallow her tongue. She squeaked.

Rising from the page like she rose from Miranda's knee, riding black silk, black camisole clinging to every curve, body arched backwards in a bow, long neck straining. Herself at the peak, it was strange and oddly compelling, she grew wet just looking at it, remembering that particular moment well.

She studied the lines, the shading, the care; evocative of the images of her daughters. The love was apparent, one did not create works such as these without great feeling. She closed the book and hugged it to her breast, it was like basking in the afterglow in some ways, with the other woman wrapped around her.

She felt a presence move up beside her.

Miranda noted that her sketchbook, so carelessly left, was in the possession of her lover. She felt a momentary surge of irritation at the violation but let it go when she saw the young woman's face. "What are you doing?" She thought it was said mildly enough but the slight flinch let her know some of her pique must have leaked out.

"Miranda!" Andy jumped up, startled by the tone, guilty for the invasion. "I'm sorry, it was sitting here and I just couldn't help myself…" She trailed off, knowing she should just pull it together, it wasn't like she'd looked at the woman's journal, was it? As silence persisted she doubted. Maybe it was.

She looked up and saw an imperious hand being held out, waiting for her to release the book back to its rightful owner. She tenderly caressed the front and relinquished her hold then met her with eyes brimming with all of the love she felt. "I have no words, Miranda. You are a beautiful artist. I didn't know you still designed?"

Miranda was embarrassed, no one had seen her work for nearly thirty years, and the lash was set to be unfurled when she remembered her promise of the day before; that she would try to step back before saying something hateful. So instead she remained in silence, wrapping the book up in her own hug.

"Miranda?" Andy could see the struggle in the other woman and loved her all the more for it. She almost blurted it out but stopped herself once again, fearful of driving the other woman away so instead she acknowledged the struggle. "Thank you."

Miranda stared at the girl like she had come face to face with Cerberus, the three headed dog of Greek lore. Confounding, she is completely confounding to me. Shaking her head slightly she responded in a voice that sounded distracted and quizzical. "I'm sure I don't know what for."

Andy's smile brought light to the shadowed room and when she stood up and gathered the other woman into a tight hug she chuckled. "That's okay, you don't have to."

After a minute of absorbing each other's warmth Andy stepped back. "I was just about to put some coffee on, do you have time to stay for breakfast?"

Miranda had it on the tip of her tongue to refuse but looked into the hopeful face and nodded her assent. She turned and started to gather her change of clothes, long removed from her overnight bag, pressed and hanging on the back of the bedroom door, as Andy threw on a robe and headed into the kitchen.

Andy provided a simple breakfast of poached eggs, whole wheat toast and fruit and they enjoyed light conversation about the girls, more about Andrea's family and even Miranda's brother and sister. They were sipping their coffee when Miranda mentioned Andy's work.

"I've been reading your articles for some time now Andrea, you have a definite way with words."

Andrea smiled at the compliment. "Thanks! Coming from you that really means a lot. I just wish I would be able to get better assignments; it's been over a year now and I'm only barely past the obits. I keep trying to bring as much as I can to even the most mundane subjects but, it's frustrating."

"Believe me Andrea, I understand completely; remember, I too started out at the very bottom. You just need to keep a clear idea of what you want and then take every opportunity presented to move yourself forward."

Andrea looked down at her empty plate. "Does that mean you think that I'll have to step on others to get ahead?"

Miranda stiffened slightly and said in a deceptively even tone. "You mean like I've had to?"

Andy's head snapped up and said with utmost sincerity, "Maybe, but that's not what I was thinking about, I can't compare myself to you; we have had two completely different paths. I was thinking about what I did to Emily; taking away her chance at Paris."

The older woman relaxed for a moment, her young lover was clearly struggling. "Andrea, you have to understand that in business you have to jump on opportunities when they arrive. Oftentimes you will find that those opportunities are created by the people around you and their lacking. Emily was not going to Paris, regardless of whether or not you decided to go, even before her unfortunate run-in with a taxi."

Seeing the surprise in the other woman's eyes she continued. "It was because of her inability to focus on her job and to excel that prompted me to take you instead. I was serious when I said I needed my best team and Emily needed to learn that lesson."

"But I felt bad."

"Of course you did; you have a very compassionate nature. But you need to somehow learn to temper that so that you do not allow it to become your weakness. There are plenty of people who, because of their own lacking, will take advantage of any perceived weakness and use it to get ahead."

Andy contemplated and then brought to the table her conversation with her boss earlier in the week.

"You are very fortunate Andrea, your boss thinks highly enough of you to watch out for your well-being."

Andrea gave her a coquettish smile, despite the stress she was feeling because of knowing people were talking about her behind her back. "Yeah, I seem to draw that out of people, don't you agree?"

Miranda smirked and raised her coffee cup in salute. "Indeed you do my dear."

They shared a long moment of silence, eyes caressing until Andy shifted and returned to the topic. "So what do we do? How do we avoid people talking about us? I mean, I'm guessing you don't want us to get out to the press anytime soon, do you?"

Miranda sat back and closed her eyes. Always so damn complicated; I get past one hurdle and already another presents itself. But instead of feeling fear of discovery she found that she wasn't all that disturbed about people finding out about them; at least not in the future. She opened her eyes and found that the other woman looked suddenly very nervous.

"Uhm, Miranda, there is an us, right?" Large brown eyes filled with unshed tears as she awaited her fate, much like a prisoner on death row seeking a last minute pardon.

Miranda leaned forward and snagged the other woman's hand. "Of course, I apologize; I didn't realize that you could have mistaken my silence for reconsideration. No, I was just visualizing possibilities; incidentally, that's another key to successfully navigating your career, always look at not just the immediate ramifications of your decisions and actions, but the possibilities that could result from those ramifications." She squeezed the warm, strong fingers curled around her own. "I don't believe either of us is ready for the impending firestorm that will result from knowledge of our intimate association being made public; but eventually it will be, so we will need to be prepared."

Suddenly the flood gates opened and the editor was at a sudden loss as to why. Her eyes widened, did the girl actually not want anyone to know about them? Had she made a gross miscalculation? She grew more worried when Andrea withdrew her hand until she realized that it was only so she could use her napkin to stem the wetness, clear her nasal passages and collect herself.

Through her sniffles Andy was finally able to speak. "Jesus, Miranda, it finally hit me. You really are serious, you really want me in your life! I don't think I let myself actually believe it until this moment." She sniffled and shrugged her shoulders, beaming another of her thousand watt smiles. "I'm sorry for being such a mess about it."

The editor's heart was starting to return to a normal rhythm realizing how different a relationship with a woman was going to be. "Well, yes, of course. Do you really think I would still be sitting here if I didn't?" She raised her hand. "No, you don't have to say anything else; I think we both understand now that we are going to do this. I want this. I want you in my life. So."

When the editor didn't continue Andy encouraged her. "So…?"

"Yes, I think it would be smart to begin considering how to go about ensuring that we aren't damaged when the truth does finally surface. The girls, well, I don't know how they'll react and I just don't want to spring it on them. So perhaps if you were to join us for dinner some night soon, so they can get used to you as someone other than my assistant?"

Andy's smile grew soft. "I'd really like that, it's a good idea."

"What about you? Friends, parents?"

"Uhm, Lily and Doug both know." At Miranda's raised eyebrow she hastened to explain. "Doug, well he guessed it the night of Nigel's party, even before we saw each other again. He kinda gave me a pep talk because I was freaking out that I might run into you."

"Oh really? So he wasn't running from me so much as he was ensuring you had a chance with me?" The sly smile and twinkle in her eyes let Andy know it was alright. "And this other friend, Lily was it, is that the same Lily you grew up with?"

Andy's eyes brightened at Miranda's recollection of their earlier conversation comforted that she cared enough to listen to details. She picked up the hand she had once again grasped and placed a small kiss on the knuckles. "Yes, one and the same. She dropped by unannounced Friday night before you got here; I was a little nervous and she wanted to know who had me in such a state. It was a pretty big shock for her; she blamed you initially for the breakup with Nate." Before the other woman could ask the question reflected in her eyes Andy clarified. "Actually, she blames "The Dragon Lady", I explained that I was not about to engage with her, but with the flesh and blood woman who used that persona as a business face. With time she'll understand that, I believe."

She sighed. "My parents on the other hand…well…I don't believe we'll be heading to Cincinnati for a sleep over anytime soon. My mom will probably be alright, but dad…"

Miranda squeezed her hand. "He just wants what's best for his 'little girl' and he's still processing your coming out. Just remember it will be much easier if he doesn't have to hear about it from the media first."

"Yeah. What about my work? Do you think I should tell Greg?"

"I can't answer that Andrea, do you trust him not to run it on the front page? It would boost his sales tremendously."

Andy looked at the other woman carefully. "Would you run it in his position?"

"No. But not because I'd be doing you a favor. No, because it would compromise the integrity of my publication; weakening the foundation of trust with my employees. It would be a poor long-term decision." She picked up her coffee and sipped. "And that is the essence of truly succeeding in business. It is possible to align values and principles with getting ahead because oftentimes acting from a principled position reaps greater benefit in the end. Unfortunately it hasn't always been possible but still, it's something to strive for."

Andy grinned. "See, I called it right, didn't I?"

There was a fondness in her gaze when she responded. "Yes darling, as much as I loathe to admit it, I concede."


Chapter Twelve

The train from Sleepy Hollow, a quaint suburb north of the metro area known for its infamous legend, was running uncharacteristically late and the silver haired editor found herself with the prospect of twenty minutes with nothing to do but wait. Spying the Starbucks in the terminal she strode over and picked up her usual center of the sun latte and settled onto a chair that did not appear to be infested with anything too unsavory. She texted the girls her location, which was near enough to where they would disembark that she was able to relax; if her muscles would cooperate that is.

Discretely attempting to flex a particularly troublesome muscle in her inner thigh brought forth a searing image of Andrea's expression when she first slid her fingers into her grasping channel. The silver haired woman shifted on the uncomfortable wood chair, but the building physiological response continued its upward spiral with each image of the younger woman, flashing like a slide show, in her minds' eye. Andrea riding her hand; Andrea's nimble body rising over her like a goddess; Andrea's tongue buried deep within…The older woman whimpered slightly but stifled it with a shaky sip of her coffee. It didn't help; she was wet beyond belief, ready once again for the younger woman's touch. Impossible! This is impossible; it hasn't even been four hours!

Growing more discombobulated with her inability to modify her body's responses she set the paper coffee cup onto the table, watching with remote detachment as some of the steaming liquid sloshed onto the table due to the force of her action.

Her cell phone chimed with an incoming text and she hoped that whatever the message it would distract her enough to allow her the space to master this incomprehensible weakness.

She groaned, it was Andrea.

Miranda bolted up from her chair as if it were on fire, scanning the area for a private place to…to what?! Her fevered mind still had some remnants of sanity left and it was suddenly horrified to realize just what the sophisticated, always in control, mistress and master of the fashion world was contemplating. But the ice queen had absolutely lost all control of the situation and could only watch helplessly as the woman latched the Starbucks bathroom door and leaned against the aluminum safety rail.

She texted back.

Andrea had just finished putting on her outfit when the older woman finally responded. She had thought she was going to be ignored; instead, she dropped the phone. But she recovered; after all, she had always prided herself in being there whenever the other woman needed her.

The editor swallowed her pride and answered honestly.

Fuck! Andy glanced at the clock, she had five minutes leeway to not be late, and she already knew she'd have to change her jockey boy shorts.

The older woman had removed her perfectly pressed slacks. She may have been panting like a bitch in heat but there was no earthly way her Bill Blass pants were going to touch the floor of a public restroom. They hung from the hook on the bathroom door.

A silver head tilted back and brushed into the coffee colored wall as pale tapered fingers slid beneath sodden silk and through copious moisture.


"cant type"

The thud as her head impacted the dry wall resounded through the room as she shoved two fingers inside and rubbed her clit with the knuckle of her thumb in the hand still gripping her phone. At last she crested, another flood of liquid mimicking the fluidity of her entire body.

She removed her fingers, contemplating their wetness and with an evil grin typed.

Andy was fifteen minutes late for lunch.

That afternoon Andy found herself in a little bistro with Lily and Doug. They had barely gotten their chairs settled into place before the two bombarded the reporter with a volley of questions so rapid fire that she could only sit and stare at the pair, especially when they started bickering over who should be answered first.

She allowed their chatter to flow over and around her as she remembered the kiss they shared before Miranda had to leave to pick the girls up at Grand Central. Andy had pushed her against the hall closet door and proceeded to remove all traces of her lipstick. The muttered reprimand she received softened by a nip to her ear. It must have been what set off that firestorm. Can't think about that now! But Andy couldn't stop visualizing her usually so together lover, what she must have looked like in that bathroom. She didn't think she'd ever be able to use a Starbucks restroom again without getting turned on. Sighing, she looked up into the faces of her friends who had finally quieted and were staring at her with amused expressions.

She shrugged. "Sorry guys, must have spaced out for a minute there." A huge yawn busted out and her friends exploded in laughter. Perfect. There would definitely be awkward moments to come, but her friends were going to be there for her.

Two red-headed nearly teen girls bounded towards their mother as she sat, once again perfectly composed, upon a Starbucks metal back chair.


"Hello babies."

"Moooommm" The two twelve year olds chided in tandem.

"You are still my babies no matter what and you will remain my babies for the foreseeable future." Thinking back on the hurtful things that Andy had related her father had said to his daughter prompted the woman to give each girl an extra squeeze and peck on the forehead.

"We're sorry you had to wait." Caroline's brow furrowed as she tried to appear nonchalant.

Noting the sudden tenseness, Miranda set about to alleviate her daughter's concern. "Nonsense, can you control the trains?" At the shakes of their heads she continued. "I am just so very glad that you are back with me."

Both girls beamed.

As the trio headed out of the terminal Cassidy asked. "Did you have a good weekend mom?"

It took every ounce of fortitude that the older woman possessed to not stutter her reply. "Why yes, I do believe I did."

Surprised at the funny look on their mother's face both girls shot a look behind her back.

Caroline probed. "Oh yeah? What'd you do?" Both girls watched her keenly and the editor, in her struggle to not reveal herself, failed to notice.

"Hmmm?" Miranda dug the keys to the Porsche out of her bag and popped the trunk. "I'm sorry, what was that Bobbsey?"

"She asked what you did mom. Are you listening to us?"

"Of course I'm listening; mommy's just a little distracted this morning that's all."

The girls stopped beside the car and faced one another, hands flashing "Rock, scissors, paper."


"Caroline. Mind your words."

Caroline climbed into the backseat. "Sorry, I meant darn it."

"Of course you did." She shot a glare back at her eldest and noted the angelic expression with a smirk of her own and pulled out of the parking garage.

"So, mom?" Cassidy tried again.

"What dear?" Cassidy twisted around and rolled her eyes at her sister.

"What did you do this weekend?"

That damnable slide show started up again in her mind and she fought the blush with everything she had. "Just had dinner with a friend; did some sketching."

"Mom?! Are you blushing?!" Caroline kicked the seatback. "Hey! Don't do that!"

"Girls, please, I would greatly appreciate if you didn't destroy my car."

"Friend mom? Who was it?"

Miranda growled to herself, honestly Cassidy was like a pit bull sometimes.

Caroline chimed in from the back. "Yeah, who was he? Do we know him?"

The editor sighed; she was raising a pair of pit bulls apparently. "Why do you assume it was a 'he'?"

Both girls rolled their eyes and said in tandem. "You blushed!"

Cassidy turned and faced her mom. "You never blush."

"I'm quite sure I didn't blush. It was just someone I know from work." Technically, she told herself, that was a truth.

After some minutes of silence when she could swear she could feel them silently communicating their next questions, they arrived at the townhome, traffic being light even for a Sunday morning. She turned the car into the underground parking area and pulled into her spot.

"How was your time spent with your father? Did you do anything fun?" She uttered an invocation to whatever deity would listen and mentally crossed her fingers.

The twins shot each other a look and Caroline shook her head to her sister to not push it. For now. They exited the car and got their bags, heading up to street level.

"Yeah mom. Dad had ordered National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation so we watched that with his girlfriend, Kara."

"Your father is seeing someone new? What happened to, what was her name, Binky?"

The girls laughed as they entered the townhouse. "That was Bianca and she didn't last past two months. She was really stupid, so we're glad she's gone."

Miranda looked at her children. "So how was Kara?"

They both shrugged and Caroline muttered. "Okay, I guess."

Cassidy didn't prevaricate. "She's fake." Miranda chuckled; her girls could spot bullshit from a mile away. "But we think dad really likes her, so we only pulled a couple of things on her."

Miranda spied the book sitting on the table in the entry way and headed towards it.

"Why'd they deliver the book so late mom?"

Miranda paused and felt her face warm again. Shit.

The scrabbling of claws against the hardwood floors and a big, furry, slobbering bundle of lumbering excitement distracted the girls. Miranda took the out and slipped from the girls' view, proceeding to the kitchen where she could smell a meal in progress.

"Hello Cara." Their housekeeper looked up from a large pot of something on the stove and greeted her employer.

"Miranda; I trust you've had a nice weekend?" She smiled and barely winked. Having been employed by Miranda since before the girls were born her relationship with the editor was fairly comfortable shading to affectionate; she was ten years older than the editor and that seemed to afford her a little leeway when dealing with the unpredictable woman.

Miranda blushed yet again. Dammit! Have I lost all control? How many times am I going to have to ask myself that? Gamely she grinned and hearing her daughters still engaged with Patricia, their aging Saint Bernard, she chuckled and added quietly. "You have no idea."

Cara's eyes widened and she smiled brightly. "Good for you!"

"Yes, well, I'd like for that to be kept to the adults if possible, hmm?"

Cara rolled her eyes. "Of course, you were here all weekend."

"I did go out to dinner with a friend on Friday night though. Only if asked of course." Twin footsteps grew closer. "Oh, and the book was delivered only this morning. Wasn't it?"

"Yes, that blond-haired one made all kinds of racket with it too." She laughed as the girls came strolling in accompanied by their furry shadow.

That evening at dinner Miranda decided to bite the bullet; sooner or later she was going to have to mention that she was going to have Andrea over. She just hoped that they would take her explanation at face value.

"Girls, I was thinking about having a friend over for dinner this Tuesday. Will you both be home?"

The twins looked at one another and shrugged. Cassidy spoke first. "Is this the same 'friend' you had dinner with this weekend?"

Miranda nodded and took a sip of her wine. "Yes dear, it is."

Caroline took the baton. "What's his name?"

Swirling the deep burgundy liquid lightly she answered carefully. "Her name is Andrea and you've met her before, she used to be an assistant of mine."

Both girls were stunned and thinking much along the same lines; their mother never interacted with any of her assistants, current or former. Except for Nigel, and the occasional work oriented dinner parties, no one from Runway had ever been invited to their home.

"Which one was she?" Cassidy blurted out inelegantly.

"She's the one that got you girls Harry Potter." Miranda noted that both her girls immediately looked down at their plates. Hmm, what's the story there I wonder.

"Oh." Caroline focused on trying to spear a particularly recalcitrant pea on her fork.

"Girls? Is there something you would like to share with me?"

Cassidy offered. "We were a lot younger then you know and we didn't mean anything bad to happen."

Caroline looked up and added. "Really! We just thought it would be funny to see what would happen if she walked up the steps and she should have known better anyway!"

Memories of that night flooded into Miranda's mind; the horrible fight with Stephen and the terrified look on Andrea's face when she walked into the midst of it. She was so angry that night she could have pushed her down the stairs. She had always wondered what in the hell had possessed the silly thing to encroach upon her space so egregiously; now it made sense.

"You realize that your actions almost got her fired, don't you?"

They both looked genuinely contrite. "Yeah, Andy told us that later."

"Andy?" Miranda was surprised yet again.

Caroline continued. "After she gave us the books, we had to wait for the train for a few minutes and she made sure we got on safely. She told us then."

"So we started hanging around whenever we knew she'd bring the book," Cassidy finished her milk and continued. "we'd tell her about our day and she'd tell us who she got to meet that day or if she got to do something fun and interesting."

"I had no idea." Miranda murmured in contemplation.

"And then she stopped coming." Cassidy actually seemed saddened.

"She left you in Paris, didn't she?" Caroline finally recalled that one crucial detail.

"She left the job, yes; quite unprofessional." Miranda clarified.

Both girls looked at one another and then at their mother.


"We're confused."

"Andrea and I recently met at a party; Nigel's party last week to be specific. We started to talk and realized that we enjoyed speaking to one another. So, I've invited her to have dinner with us. Is that alright girls?"

Both twins were surprised that their mother was asking; it usually didn't matter; both shrugged and Caroline said. "We like her mom. It's cool."

"Now then; did you ladies finish your homework? I believe you had asked to do some holiday decorating?"

"Emily…" The soft deadly precision was already issuing from the dragon's lair as the British woman hurried to remove her coat. Emily II/Erica was nowhere to be seen although with some relief she noted a Starbuck's cup in the editor's hand. Emily stood and waited while Miranda contemplated something on her computer screen.

"Would you explain to me your thinking when selecting the pieces from the Jasper White collection?"

It was said mildly enough but Emily was well aware that usually meant that a grievous error had been committed and a blood-letting was about to commence. Still, she hadn't been Miranda's assistant for nearly three years now without understanding that you still answered a question at face value. She was very proud that she had gotten the opportunity on Saturday and was going to hold onto that as long as she could.

"Right, well we met in the airport business class lounge as you know, however not all of his luggage made it from Los Angeles, so he only had three of four cases present. It was unfortunate because I had reviewed the portfolio before meeting with them and two of the pieces I favored were not present. Still there was enough to get a good picture and all of the fabrics used in the pieces I saw were of a high quality and the craft was very good."

"So you decided to include those two pieces, in spite of knowing that with new designers I never select anything unless I can have it in my hand?"

"Yes. But…"

"Why should I let you explain yourself?" The unrelenting blue-gray gaze pierced into the first assistant.

The young woman paled and swallowed once but held her ground and the eye contact; she had made a sound decision. "Because the work was good and those two pieces will make the article and it was the lesser of two evils, allow the piece to be diminished because of a technicality or adapt to the situation and ensure that we still get to view the sample…" She trailed off as a delivery person walked into the outer office with a large dress box. She allowed a small smile as she continued. "today."

Miranda gently swiveled her chair; she was impressed, and she knew it was now time for Emily to take a greater role. She knew that Nigel was growing weary of being both the fashion director and art director (since she had fired the art director two months prior and told Nigel to simply 'fix it') perhaps what he needed was an assistant for both positions. She tapped the arm of her glasses to her bottom lip. Yes, perhaps it was time to have a conversation with Nigel and sooner rather than later.


Chapter Thirteen

Andy walked the few blocks from the subway entrance to Miranda's townhouse, Christmas was a little over a week away and the weather was finally beginning to match the season. Hunkering down into her wool coat and drawing her scarf tighter she wished she hadn't had to be so concerned about being seen getting into Miranda's chauffeured Mercedes, she would have loved to have ridden in its warm comfort. But they had both agreed that for now, this was a necessity.

She smiled when she thought about the rose that had been delivered yesterday to her office. Discretion was one thing, but her lover had apparently decided that when it came to sweet gestures she wasn't going to let fear of discovery hold her back; just another pleasant surprise in a long string of recent pleasant surprises concerning her former boss. It really shouldn't have shocked her that the older woman was a closet romantic and the fact that no one in her office was able to discern the sender helped.

As she ascended the stone steps that led to the stately entrance, made less staid by the simple holly wreath hanging on the door, Andy glanced at her watch. Five minutes early. She grinned at herself. Perfect.

She had just raised her hand to press the bell when the door flew open and twin squeals greeted her. "Andeeeee!" Thus the younger woman crossed the threshold with a smile, any nerves at seeing the pair again, evaporating."

"Hey guys! It's good to see you again." Both girls grabbed an arm and practically dragged her into the residence.

They stepped into the entrance hall and Andy looked around her, having a momentary flashback to when she was last there – before Paris – she felt strangely unburdened, no dry-cleaning, no book, just Andy, delivering herself. One of the girls, she looked closely, asked for her coat.

"Thanks Caroline." She received a beaming smile in return, glad she had taken the time to at least be able to discern the differences and that the memory of those differences had not left her.

"How'd you know Andy?"

She looked at the girls and smiled. "I have my secrets. But it's the little things Cassidy, you each are very unique."

They both looked very pleased and escorted her through the study into the kitchen. She noted that the kitchen table was set but her lover was nowhere to be seen. "Where's your mom?" It had been only two days since they had last seen one another and she found she missed the other woman desperately even as she was glad that she would have a few more moments to gain control of emotions and settle a mask of propriety on her face.

"She's upstairs changing, she just got home."

"Oh, I'm glad she didn't have to…" The younger woman had been pulling out one of the stools at the center island when she heard the soft footfalls accompanied by what could only be Patricia's toenails clacking lightly on the wood floor. She turned to look at the kitchen entrance, words dying in her throat, and could not help the sudden joy that escaped when she saw the other woman. She sucked in a deep breath, oh god, she's wearing that sweater, the one that…she refused to think about what may or may not lie underneath the loose cowl-neck sweater, simply standing there awestruck.

Miranda smirked when she took in the younger woman's reaction, having very deliberately chosen her outfit. The feeling of pleasure she had at her former assistant being here, in her home not as employee but as someone who truly wished to be there, warmed her.

Both girls were watching very intently the two adults and their eyes widened at the uncharacteristic smile that graced their mother's face and at the faint blush they could see coloring the other woman's face. Both girls thought the way they were just staring at each other was weird.

"Mom! Andy can tell us apart!"

"Is that so sweetheart, I am not surprised; Andrea was always very perceptive. It's what made her so good at anticipating my needs…when she worked for me of course." The last part was an afterthought, hastily said as she broke free of that odd limbo state seeing the other woman had dropped her into and rushed into the room, opening the wine cooler, pulling out a bottle without looking.

Andy could not help the flood of warmth that covered her features, nor the slight dampening in other areas and shifted uncomfortably. "Umm…hi, Miranda." She nearly stuttered but somehow managed to get a hold of herself; she straightened and allowed a warm smile to grace her features. "Thank you for having me over for dinner."

Miranda shook her head at the ridiculousness of the sudden formality but understood its need, for now. She did not want to maintain this pretense in her own home, what little she had been forced into so far was exhausting.

"Oh, you are quite welcome. I hope you don't mind take-out, Cara needed the day for some personal business and well…"

"I understand." The younger woman finally seated herself at the island as the twins settled in on either side. "Since you took over for Irv you probably don't have much time left I would think."

A darkened look descended but was quickly banished by the editor. "You have no idea." She pulled the cork on the bottle and began to pour, only then aware that her choice was completely wrong for the dinner ordered.

Andrea noticed the consternation but didn't comment. Not so for the two twelve-year olds. "What's wrong mom? Is it bad?"

Andy saw the other woman roll her eyes as she turned back to the sink. "No Bobbsey…"

"Mom! We have company!"

The editor sighed. "Alright, Cassidy. No, I just wasn't watching when I chose this bottle; it won't go with the meal that's coming."

"So just put the cork in it and open another one!"

"Caroline, it will be ruined then. No, this needs to be drunk the day it is opened or else it loses that certain quality that makes it so wonderful."

"Hey, I don't mind." Andy offered. "Really. How bad could it be?"

The other woman looked at her like she had just said that Kmart would be a fine place to purchase clothing. But instead of a sharp bite she looked contemplative for a moment and then continued in a softer voice. "You really don't know wine, do you?"

"Uhm, no? I majored in beer in college," The girls giggled. "And haven't had enough disposable income since to indulge. I do know I enjoy it when I have had 'the good stuff'. Like Friday evening; that was definitely…" She remembered how Miranda squirmed when her hand had pushed that uncooperative skirt to its limit and nearly squeaked. "good."

The older woman suppressed a shudder ruthlessly and proceeded to give all three a short lesson about wine pairing until the doorbell signaled that their dinner had arrived.

It was just at the end of the meal that Miranda's phone rang and she had to genuinely apologize. "I must take this call. It will probably be about twenty minutes. Girls will you please see that our guest is kept occupied? Thank you; we'll have dessert when I return."

Once Miranda left to go upstairs to her office the three set about clearing the clutter from the meal. "You don't have to help you know, mom said you were a guest."

"I know Caroline, but I'm here and I'm able and willing so why not?"

They both shrugged and then grinned mischievously to one another behind Andy's back.

Cassidy started. "Mom's been acting weird lately Andy."

The reporter froze for just a split second and then continued over to the sink. "She has?"

"Yeah." Both girls were silent and stared at her.

Andy gave herself a quick pep talk and vowed to not be intimidated by the pair. "Oookay. How?"

"She's distracted."

"She's tired."

"She's smiling more."

"She said please and thank you in the same sentence when someone other than us were in the room!" This last from Cassidy made her bust out laughing.

"God guys, you make it sound like it's a criminal offense to be polite!"

Both girls turned in tandem, crossing their arms over their chests and leaning back against the sink. Twin mini-Miranda glares, Caroline's the most accomplished, pinned her in place.

"Uhm girls? What's up?"

"We think this is about you."

Andrea hopped up onto the island and gripped the counter with both hands; she could do this. They had discussed that Miranda didn't want to lie, and that they were going to discuss it if they outright asked, but still. She mustered a smile for both girls, they were really very adorable.

"Why are you smiling?"

"Because you all are reminding me of your mother right now and it's cute."

"You think our mom's cute?!" Cassidy squeaked that one out.

Andy laughed. "No, I would definitely not call your mother cute." Suddenly this conversation was harking back to one she'd had with Miranda nearly two weeks before; just what would she call her? Hmmmmm.

She brought herself back to the inquisition as one of them said, "You're doing it too."

"Doing what?"

"Getting all spacey and sappy." Andy's grin broadened.

"Is that so?"

The girls were getting frustrated. "Andeeeee!"

"Whaaat." She playfully mocked.

"You like her!" Cassidy gasped.

"Of course I like her, I don't have dinner with people I don't like. I like you girls too!" Andy was really starting to have a good time with this.

"Stop it." Caroline put her foot down.

"Stop what?" Andy asked innocently.

"You know."

"Know what?" Andy couldn't help it, she giggled.

"See! You're doing it on purpose!"

Andy decided to relent, "Yes, I am; you two are fun to tease."

"Teasing's not nice." Caroline pouted.

"I'm not doing it in a mean way. I was serious when I said I like you girls."

The twins were stymied for a minute until Cassidy connected it. "So, you were also serious when you said you like our mom?"

Andy hopped off the island and leaned against it, putting herself more at eyelevel with them, careful to keep her stance open and she made eye contact with both. "If I said that I like her very much, would you all have a problem with that?"

Cassidy continued to stare hard at Andy, while Caroline looked at her feet and shifted around, looking suddenly very uncomfortable.

"Look, you don't have to answer that right now if you don't want to. But you asked so I'm telling you the truth. I think your mom is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing woman and I really want her, and by extension, you both, in my life."

"And I think that Andrea is a stunningly beautiful, warm, kind and amazing woman and I want her to be in my life." Miranda moved into the room and stood next to Andy; she grasped her hand and brought the back of it up to her lips to bestow a small kiss to which Andy gazed lovingly at her and blushed.

Miranda released the hand with a slight squeeze and turned to observe her daughters who were both looking rather stunned; with Caroline also wearing a look of confusion.

"Mom." Caroline whispered. "Does this mean you're gay?"

"I've always hated labels Caroline. The only place they belong is on clothing or purses; not on people."

"This is kind of weird mom." Cassidy finally spoke. "I mean, wow. We thought you were dating someone, but Andy?!"

The woman in question shuffled uncomfortably. "Maybe I should leave, let you all talk in private."

"I would really rather you didn't. We will not have another opportunity to see each other until this weekend and I don't…" She was going to say something that would sound extremely needy. "…wish for you to miss dessert; after all I ordered it specifically with you in mind. Cassidy and Caroline and I will have plenty of time to 'talk' tomorrow, once they've had a chance to think about it." She pinned them both in place with her laser sharp gaze. "Is that an acceptable compromise?"

Both girls nodded, but remained silent.

Andy nodded and hoping to ease the tension asked with a mercenary glint, "So what's the dessert?"

"So, that could have gone better, huh?" They were walking to Miranda's car after having endured a rather awkward second half of the evening.

The older woman sighed, at least they hadn't had a full blown meltdown; although perhaps that was yet to come once she was alone with them. "I suppose it could have been worse. With Stephen they wouldn't even sit at the table until I forced them to."

Andy crinkled her nose. "I wouldn't want to eat with that pompous ass either!"

"Yes well, why do you think I always had somewhere else to be, hmm dear? One could only take so much self-aggrandizement and insults; not good for digestion."

They climbed into the car and were silent until they pulled out onto the street and Andy asked quietly. "Why'd you marry him? Did you love him?"

Miranda snorted. "Love? I don't believe I did. Maybe at the beginning I told myself I did, but really, I was more in love with the idea of him. The image he presented; the image he allowed me to present while I consolidated power. Of course, he really didn't help much there, now did he?" Both remembered back to the black and white ball and Stephen's drunken tirade. Miranda sighed. "I'm afraid I haven't done very well for myself in that department."

Andy reached for her hand and squeezed. "I just don't think you were looking in the right place." She opened the hand and placed a quick kiss on the palm.

The older woman shivered, even through the thin leather of the driving glove the girl's touch ignited in her all sorts of liquid thoughts and feelings. "Perhaps not." She somehow managed to keep an almost casual tone.

But Andrea noticed the shiver and pressed her advantage; she had an agenda and intended on fulfilling it. So she let her hand drift over the shift console to rest harmlessly on the other woman's thigh; feeling the muscle as it flexed with each adjustment in acceleration, only increasing her motivation. She kept the touch rather innocent at first; just a light back and forth, almost as if she were petting a cat. Miranda kept her eyes on the road.

"So we won't be able to see each other until this weekend?" Andrea tried to keep the disappointment out of her question, but even she could tell she failed.

"I have meetings all this week and then a board function on Friday night, I'm afraid that Saturday night is the only time I'll have free. Even then, I have the girls this weekend…"

"So, that means?"

"I don't know what that means. It's really going to depend upon how they are. I don't want to force them into accepting this. I'd rather they adjust at their own pace."

Andy increased the pressure of her fingers and began to draw circles on fabric-covered muscle; widening the arc slightly to cover more area. "Do you not want to see me on Saturday then?"

Miranda shifted slightly. "That's not what I said." Her words were slightly clipped.

Andy's fingers dipped towards the inner thigh, affecting a more obvious stroking. "What do you want Miranda?"

Suddenly her hand was grabbed and held in a vice-like grip. "To be able to drive without sending us into oncoming traffic would be a good start! Andrea, please!"

A sudden exhalation into her ear, "Please what?" caused the car to accelerate slightly as the older woman felt herself grow ready to welcome a thorough exploration of just exactly what it was she wanted.

"Please stop."

"Only if you agree to come up to my apartment for a little bit."

"Need I remind you that parking in your neighborhood is absolutely impossible? I need to get home to the girls, Cara will not be back until morning."

Andy flashed a Cheshire grin. "You've left the girls for an hour or two by themselves before, haven't you?"

"That still doesn't handle parking."

"No…" Andy's fingers resumed their attentive caresses. "God I can feel how hot you are even from here."

Miranda nearly whimpered. "Surely you aren't intending that we double park and neck like teenagers?!"

Andrea giggled. "No. Turn here by the way. I intend to fuck you properly against my apartment door and then on the dining table." She pressed two fingers at the juncture of the now thoroughly aroused woman's legs and pressed for only a moment. She then withdrew them and pointed to an empty parking spot. "There, pull the car in. Park it. Let's go."


"It came with the apartment; I usually sublease it, but…not important. You won't be towed. Come!" Her voice was made more forceful by the sudden and intense need to have her fingers buried in the other woman's heat.

The older woman gasped, but exited the car and followed as if in a trance, barely remembering to turn and press the key fob activating her alarm. They were silent and did not touch, not even in the elevator as it made its snail like pace upward, both knowing that when they started that there'd be no stopping until both sated the incendiary yearning.

The lock gave grudgingly and Miranda felt herself being pushed into the darkness of Andy's foyer, the door slamming behind them after having been kicked by a very determined Doc Marten. Then there was nothing but sensation; Andrea's lips on hers, bruising in intensity, hands pushing her coat to the floor. Purses and laptop bag dropping with little care. And then fingers sliding under the loose material of her sweater, finding with ease the hardened nipples, unfettered by lingerie. Both women moaned into the kiss at the contact and then Andy directed for the older woman to undo her slacks.

Compliance was quick and she felt as the material slackened and slid to hang about her hips.

"God Miranda, I've wanted you like this since Sunday. When you fucked yourself in that Starbucks, you were so hot for me." One hand continued to play her nipple like a piece of clay while the other slid down her sloping belly to plunge directly into the source of her heat.

She grunted slightly at the intrusion but it quickly morphed into a protracted moan.

"You are so wet for me baby." Andrea's voice was nearly a choked sob. "Please baby, ahh, yes, ride it."

Miranda's hips had a mind of their own, driving to meet each thrust, sending the probing appendages deeper. "More…" She somehow managed to gasp out.

Andy slid a third finger in and then pushed the knuckle of her thumb up against the rock hard clit eliciting a sharp scream.

The older woman's eyes rolled back and her head slammed into the door as her orgasm sent a rush of liquid over her lover's hand. As Miranda came back to her senses she could feel the younger woman shaking as she tried to fight her own passionate response. Willing her body to respond the editor reached down and undid the button and zip of Andrea's jeans pushing them down to mid-thigh and without preamble entered her with two fingers eliciting a loud shout that sent a renewed blaze of desire through her.

She flipped their bodies around with such force that Andy's back crashed into the door, pushing the fingers still buried within her to new depth; she nearly shrieked as they rubbed against that spot within that drove her beyond all rational thought but held on, determined to maintain her pumping assault until…

Andy's moans suddenly cascaded into a pulsing cry as she came hard, inner muscles clamping down like a vice on the editor's nearly numb fingers prompting a sympathetic, although less intense, second orgasm from the editor.

They stood there for a moment, panting, leaning on each other and the door for support. Miranda's throat worked silently, trying to make a suggestion that they move, but was unable to push any sound outward. Instead she licked her way up from where her face had been buried in the collar of Andy's shirt and delivered a searing kiss that stole the air from the both of their recovering lungs.

"What are you doing to me, Andrea Sachs?"

"Me? What about what you are doing to me?!" She let out a short "ah" that sounded like it wasn't a good thing and Miranda, conscious of the angle, shifted so that Andy could withdraw her fingers from where they were still nestled within her folds. Once removed the editor let out a disappointed sigh; she believed in that moment she could sleep an entire night holding her lover within. The thought filled her with a tender warmth and she leaned in for a kiss, keeping it gentle, hoping to express emotions she wasn't near ready to bring voice to.

After a few moments, Andrea leaned back and gently pushed her away; before she could question, she felt as the other woman shimmied out of her jeans inspiring Miranda to take stock of her own situation and she kicked the pants that had dropped to her ankles, along with her shoes, to the side. Still in darkness Andrea took her hand and led her into the living room dining area where she could make out the outlines of furniture and walls due to the muted streetlamp a couple of stories below the window level.

The younger woman leaned back against the table and looked at Miranda with, in the dim light, what looked like feverish eyes. She felt her hand grabbed and held between them, pulling her tight to the other woman's front. "I promised you the table Miranda; are you ready for me to take you here?"

She shook noticeably and the younger woman took that for the ascent it was. "Good, because I need to be inside you again. I don't think I can get enough of you." Andy caressed her naked bottom and moaned. "God you're amazing. You feel so soft." She squeezed the flesh and brought her other hand around until she was grasping at both globes, kneading them.

They stood there for some minutes, Miranda pushed up so her mound was crushed up against Andy's sopping core, kissing and nibbling at one another's necks, collarbones, whatever flesh could be revealed by noses pushing material out of the way until the older woman gasped her frustration at the barrier. "I need to feel all of you." Her hands unbuttoned the silky blouse quickly and then made short work of the bra, removing her own sweater with one sweep up and over her head. She then licked her way down until she was able to suck at the rock hard nipples projecting majestically from firm, full breasts.

Andy's hands had returned to the fleshy globes, amazed at how privileged she was to be in such a position. The sucking at her breast loosed new moisture and the older woman's body responded by trailing kisses even lower. The editor's hands tugged at her thighs, bringing her to the very edge of the table and then those same hands pushed her back until she was lying flat, legs dangling. A scraping of a chair and the reporter's legs were lifted and draped over shoulders; then for a moment, nothing. Nothing but shallow breathing, she could feel the other woman's observation with each exhalation then hands slid from the inside of her thighs upwards, spreading the slippery flesh, opening her fully to the cool air.

The first brush of the tongue forced a protracted moan from her lips and then her grip on rational thought was once again loosed as the older woman sipped from her like she was one of those wines she so adored.

"Yes, baby…" With each swipe more moisture was added and removed then a spearing tongue entered her, as moistened fingers played her clit like a violin. But it was the sudden wrapping of lips around that hardened bud as they sucked with abandoned and fingers that slid deliciously inside that sent her arcing like an arrow into the blissful sky, a keening note of pleasure nearly as silent as it was steady.

But apparently Miranda was not yet done with her for no sooner had she peaked than the assault started again, this time fingers played in the moisture but instead of once again plundering her depths, they moved further down, seeking another entrance moistened by her trickling essence, ready for exploration. The first brush of the puckered orifice brought Andy's hips off of the table; the second another flood of moisture which the older woman put to further use. She wasn't entirely sure of what she was doing. but she saw how much pleasure she was bringing so continued the experiment until quite accidentally the tip of her index finger was caught and held. Intrigued she let it remain, wriggling it slightly in experimentation and flicking her tongue at the clitoris that was now so hard it could have been made of stone.

"Sweetheart, oh, darling, can you feel me in you?" Miranda had never been one for much talk during sex, but something compelled her, that something that told her that her young lover would like it. She continued to suck and lick, increasing her attention on the bud as she increased the intensity of her dialogue. "Andrea, can you feel me in your ass?" She slid the finger in and out slightly and hardened her tongue, pushing at the base of the tiny bundle of nerves as she felt Andrea's body begin to quiver beneath her. "That's right, you want to come don't you? You want me to make you come while I push and pull in and out of your beautiful ass; don't you?"

Andrea sobbed and pushed down, driving the finger in to the second knuckle, eliciting a surprised cry. "Oh my god!!! Miranda!" And then she pushed over, body shaking, fingers grasping at anything to hold on to what little sanity she could still find in the overwhelming pleasure. Unable to even modulate the volume of her cries that rolled through her with each wave of pleasure.

All Miranda could do was hold on, she struggled to keep her tongue in a position to prolong the bliss as the younger woman was bucking off the table with some strength, but finally the younger woman calmed. The editor kept her finger in place marveling at how different it felt from being inside Andrea's vagina, tighter, almost painfully so. She kissed along the inner thigh and then stood, caressing up the woman's middle over belly and up sternum until she lightly cupped the younger woman's face. Heavy lidded eyes gazed up at her and she held the stare as she slowly withdrew, noting a new cascade of shivers as she did so that triggered her desire for this woman yet again. Will it never end? She asked herself with incredulity and then decided it didn't matter so leaned down, careful to keep her finger away from the table surface and crushed a long, wet kiss upon the full lips still attempting to draw air into starved lungs.

"I'll be right back." And she left the younger woman flayed out on the table like a landed fish to step into the kitchen and wash her hands. She must have spaced out for a few moments because before she knew it a figure was wrapping itself around her from behind and turning off the tap.

Her ear was nibbled and then a long tongue licked from the base of her neck to just under and behind that same ear, intensifying the tingles chasing up and down her spine. "Someone was a very naughty girl, sticking their fingers where they're not supposed to."

She turned in the embrace, momentarily concerned that she had overstepped herself, but was reassured by a quick kiss and a whispered, "It's alright, I've never done that before…" She looked away for a moment, suddenly shy and Miranda knew that if the light were on she would see that telltale blush. "…but, I liked it. It was…different. Have you, uhm, have you ever had anyone do that to you?"

Miranda wanted to blurt out that she had never even really talked about sex with any of the men she'd shared her bed with, husband or other, let alone do anything so adventurous, but shook her head no and chuckled. "Men always want to fuck us in the ass, it must be a universal fantasy;" she missed the intensification of Andy's blush but not the small tremor in the arms that had once again wrapped around her. "I wasn't interested; not because I was a prude, but because I didn't trust any of them enough not to hurt me."

It wasn't easy, but Andy somehow managed to choke out. "So you would be interested maybe?"

"You forget a lot darling, I told you I would be willing to do anything you asked of me." Somehow, even while standing naked in the dark and discussing sex acts the regal woman managed to dredge up some of her trademark coolness and she sniffed. "That does not exclude any particular positions, props, toys or…" and here she did falter slightly as she searched for the right word. "…orifices.

"There are a few things that I already know I would not wish to engage in, but I intuit those are things for which you would not wish to ask. Sooo, we can discuss just about anything your naughty little head gets into." She ran her hand along Andy's arm and then down to caress a nipple, taut once again from the conversation or their proximity or maybe it was the co-mingled smells of their sex. Whatever it was, she was finding it more difficult to focus even as she knew the evening was getting late.

"But I tire of talking, Andrea, I will need to leave soon and I find I want you again; I'm such a greedy bitch, aren't I? Can't get enough of you and here you are, neglecting me." She reached down and dragged two fingers through her folds, stroking several times then managed her most imperious tone. "I mean really, must I do everything myself?" She brought those fingers up to her mouth and was about to lick them when a hand darted up and grabbed it, holding it motionless between them.

"Oh no you don't. Mine." Andrea shoved the fingers in her own mouth and sucked with such force Miranda felt it all the way down to her hardened clit. "You should know better Miranda, when you test me I will always rise to the occasion." She kissed her hard, shoving her tongue into the other woman's mouth while she reached around and grabbed both ass-cheeks, pulling her up and in, spreading her legs so she had no choice but to wrap her legs around Andy's waist and hold on for dear life.

"I know you're goading me." She whispered harshly into the silver haired woman's ear. "You like it when I tell you what to do, don't you? You like it when I'm forceful with you; you want me to make you do things, don't you?" She dug her fingers harder into the fleshy globes and shook her.

A small moan was her only answer as Miranda tilted her head back exposing her throat. It took every ounce of Andy's restraint not to mark her on that perfect skin for she still needed to return to her home this night and she didn't want the girls to see their mom in such a state. "Oh woman, what you do to me." Andy nearly wept with her desire.

She set the other woman down and pulled her by the arm out of the kitchen and back to the table. "Bend over."

Miranda looked at the hard table and then back at her lover, kissed her once roughly on the mouth and then complied, arms positioned so they were above her head, but palms flat against the wood below her.

Andy watched the other woman's every move and the vulnerability stopped her in her tracks for several moments. The things she was inspired to do by this woman; she didn't know what it was, the chemistry, submission, love, trust? She couldn't assign it but quickly gave up trying for the other woman was wriggling, try to get comfortable and it was affording her a stunning view, one that just begged for, she didn't know what, so she parted the woman's legs and began to slowly spread her growing wetness, caressing the totality of the crease, from front to back. Careful not to have any penetration, just a simple enjoyment and learning, watching what type of a reaction from a particular touch at a particular location would be forthcoming, taking notes as carefully as when she was the woman's assistant.

She suddenly found herself wishing she had more than just her fingers to play with and decided then that some internet shopping was in order. But for the moment the woman beneath her obviously needed her, standing on tiptoes, seeking stronger contact, although…

A sharp slap landed on the raised buttocks and was met with a startled yelp. "Didn't I say you were very naughty before? Well, I think someone needs to be punished. Don't you?"

When no answer was forthcoming she slapped again in the same spot, causing her hand to reverberate with a buzzing sting that caused her own inner muscles to contract. "I asked a question, Miranda."

The woman below, who was so shocked and aroused that she couldn't remember what was asked merely whimpered. "Let me refresh your memory then. What happens to girls when they are bad, Miranda?"

"Punished." She panted out. "They're punished."

"Oh yes, and you've been bad. Putting your fingers in places without asking first. Fucking my ass without my permission. Very bad." She laid another slap, this time on the other cheek.

"What do you think? Should this be the punishment? A good spanking? Maybe I should put you over my knee?"

"Oh god!" Moaned the older woman.

"You'd like that wouldn't you?" Andy rubbed both hands over the slope of the woman's buttocks, "I would like that; but not today. No, tonight I think we go back to the bible. Remember 'an eye for an eye' sweetheart? I want your ass; do you want me to have it?"


"Please what, Miranda?"

"Yes! Please yes!"

Andrea smirked and pushed two fingers into her open vagina and then finding her so wide open added a third. "God baby, you want it so bad don't you?" She propped herself with one hand on the table next to her lover and pumped into her for all she was worth. Just as she could tell the other woman was getting close to the edge she backed off; leaving her fingers in but slapping a perfect white globe with her other hand. The spasm she could feel around her fingers informed her that one more smack would be all it would take to push woman over.

"Oh no, not yet. I need to feel all of you."

She completely removed herself from the wet channel and thought for a moment about logistics; with the index finger of her right hand she dragged some of the copious moisture up to the woman's anus and began a slow probing, pushing lightly, then pulling back, careful not to go in until she had enough lubrication. This just about drove the other woman off the table as the area was so sensitive that she thought she would pass out from the want of it. When the muscle finally began to relax from the constant prodding Andrea sighed as her finger slid all the way in and she stilled, getting used to the tightness that enveloped her. "Oh yes, I'm in you sweetie, all the way in. You feel so damn good Miranda."

She began a slow pumping, turning her finger in a corkscrew fashion, moving in and out, loosening the channel enough to be able to get some flexibility. When the younger woman was satisfied that she was ready she leaned over the other woman and slid her arm under her midsection. "I need to fuck all of you Miranda, but I can't do that in this position so you need to follow me now." She pulled the other woman back and dragged her so they were both standing, the older woman still impaled to the hilt. "Okay, I'm going to sit and you're going to follow, alright?" Andy sat on the hardback chair, closing her legs. "Sit back on my lap, but spread your legs, straddle me."

They rested for a moment, each getting used to the new position. Andy wouldn't be able to move her right hand but she wouldn't need to, it was snugly positioned right where it needed to be. "This doesn't hurt, does it baby?"

At the other woman's strangled "No." Andy began again, reaching around the front with her left hand, while pushing her legs outwards, opening the woman up even farther. "Good, because you are so fucking hot and I'm going to make you come so hard. I know you want that."

She caressed the firm nub and leaned back, gaining a better angle, and managed to push three fingers into the dripping channel. Andy moaned as Miranda screamed. "That's it! Oh my god, I can feel my other finger, oh baby." Andy started to rock back and forth, using her body to aid in the slow pumping into the other woman's core. "Yes!" She hissed, as the other woman pushed off with her toes. "I could do this forever sweetie, you are so fucking hot for me!" They found a synchronous rhythm; a slow, sensual rocking that seemed to stretch for hours.

Eventually the older woman began to shake, the stimulus pushing her higher and closer to total immolation and Andrea, sensing the change increased their pace until the nearly sobbing woman above her begged for release. Her response was to rock her thumb up into the bundle of nerves as she found within herself the energy to push just that much harder.

The climax, when it came, nearly shattered them both. Miranda screamed as her head fell back onto the brunette's shoulder, and her entire body convulsed in a pulsing, quivering mess that ended with full sobs and huge intakes of air. She was aware of nothing save the colors and smells and the relentless fullness of the other woman's body fused into her own.

They stayed that way for several moments until Andy realized she could no longer feel her right hand; she somehow managed to extricate herself from the other woman who had gone completely limp in her arms, standing and guiding her towards the couch where they collapsed back in an unruly pile of limbs and sticky flesh. She gathered the woman in her arms and hugged her for all she was worth.

Miranda had gone somewhere else completely, surrendering once again to this woman like no one else before. As she began to return she realized that she somehow needed this, that this extreme loving settled something within that she had no idea was restless. She turned into her Andrea and nuzzled her neck, sucking gently, licking across the slope of her jawline until their lips could once again meet.

The kiss was a revelation; no fight for dominance, no seeking of higher stimulus, a kiss for the simple beauty of kissing.

Andy smoothed the sweat-dampened silver hair away from the older woman's eyes and looked at her intently. "I know you may not be able to say it back to me, but I don't care, I need you to know, I love you Miranda, I love you with all my heart." Tears she wasn't even aware of tracked from her eyes over the slope of cheeks and then along her jaw. She sniffled and then laughed. "Oh fuck, but I love you!" She gathered her in her arms and fell further back into the cushions.

Miranda could see the sincerity and conviction with which the other woman delivered her declaration and it caused her great joy even as she felt herself stiffen; she understood that love was so often given out freely when one was young. She didn't doubt that Andrea meant it or even that she knew her own heart, but she was not young and she was not ready; it would mean a commitment the sort of which she was not yet sure she could make. So she remained silent, and held the other woman, remaining willingly captured in the other woman's embrace and poured all of the essence of the love she felt into a melting kiss that she hoped would somehow communicate what she was not yet ready to speak. That her tears also mingled with the younger woman's was not mentioned.

It was nearly eleven o'clock when Miranda returned to the townhouse, freshly showered but wrinkled and moving slightly slower than usual. She looked at The Book, perfectly aligned on the foyer table and frowned; not for the first time in the past year she found herself having difficulty mustering much enthusiasm for the impending task. She headed into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and turned out the lights. With a slight hesitation she picked up The Book and headed up the stairs to her third floor bedroom.

She peeked into Caroline's room, finding her asleep with the light on so kissed her forehead and clicked off the lamp. Moving on to Cassidy's room the lamp was on, but her daughter was not in her room. Deciding to put her burden down before going to find her wayward progeny she headed to her bedroom, crossing in darkness to the bedside lamp. The soft warm tungsten glow revealed Cassidy's groggy form, curled up on top of the covers.

"Darling, are you feeling alright?" Miranda whispered softly as she leaned over and felt the girl's forehead.

"Hey mom. Yeah; I was just trying to wait up for you." She looked over at the clock and then at her mother, noting her lack of makeup and un-styled hair. "We thought you'd be home sooner." She pursed her lips and glared.

Miranda shook her head, torn between feeling sorry she had not been there to process her revelation with her girls and a fierce protectiveness of the growing relationship with Andrea. "I," she wasn't really sure how to say what she needed to say; so decided to be as honest as possible. "I thought that perhaps you girls would need some alone time to process. And I needed to be alone with Andrea for a little bit. I won't be able to see her until at least Saturday and…"

Cassidy interrupted. "So? It never mattered before; you would go a week or more without seeing Stephen, I don't remember it bothering you then."

Miranda cupped her daughter's cheek. "Oh sweetie, I know it's hard to understand, but it's very different this time. I don't know how to explain it but I think I'm really happy."

"What do you mean, you think? You don't know when you're happy?"

The editor laughed. "You are a very astute young lady. I'm afraid that aside from you girls there has been no one else in my life who has ever really made me happy. That's not an easy thing to admit; so, I'm a bit hesitant to accept this thing that feels like it might be happy. Also, what you girls think is important to me; I'm afraid of what will happen if you don't eventually accept Andrea; so I'm not letting myself really be happy. Do you understand?"

"You would stop seeing her if we asked you to?!" The young woman was clearly surprised.

"I don't really know honey. A part of me doesn't want to disappoint you girls, but another part is…I don't know if I could do it."

"It sounds like you love her! Do you?"

Miranda hedged. "I haven't told her that I love her."

"But you do, don't you?"

She looked at her daughter with a sudden weariness. "Cassidy, love is a very complicated thing sometimes, and it isn't always enough."

Something about the way her mother looked right then made Cassidy feel really sad and she decided to be honest. "Mom, I'll be okay with this. It's just going to take some getting used to."

Miranda hesitated, "You do realize that you can't tell even your closest friend about this right now? I'm sorry, it's not fair…"

Cassidy rolled her eyes. "Duh mom! We don't want Page 6 crawling through our garbage again any more than you do! Although that big bag of Patricia's poop really got some of them last time!" She giggled.

Miranda smiled fondly, some of her fears beginning to loosen.

"I love you my darling." She gathered the solid, but slim form into her arms and squeezed. "I don't know what I would do without you girls; I really don't."

"I love you too mom and I guess you could do worse; look at Stephen! At least Andy's not a snake!"

"Go to bed you."

"Okay mom, I think I can sleep now. Thanks for talking to me."

"Anytime Bobbsey. You know you girls can always come to me. Tell Caroline that whenever she's ready to talk…"

"She knows mom."

Andy sat in her bed, pillows propped behind her back, staring at the blank page of her journal, struggling to put into words the shift her world had taken the past week.

Andy struggled further with the concepts and what it meant for her.

The young woman found herself laughing at the notion but decided that it wasn't an altogether bad idea after all, she was a reporter and research was one of the things she did best. She flipped off the light and mulled over keywords to search by as she fell into an exhausted sleep.

Part 14

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