DISCLAIMER: Devil Wears Prada's characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. Damages belongs to Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler and KZK Production in association with FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television (boy that's a mouthful!).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Shout-out to Melanacious for allowing me to run with her Indecent Proposal: Sneak Peek (Shanghaied Surprises). All mistakes are my own and feedback is very welcomed.
SPOILERS: Damages; Season 2 Season Finale & Season 3.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Stepping Stone
By blackgrl71


Part I: Patty & Ellen

She sat shivering, almost folded onto herself, shoulders hunched, the snifter of cognac clenched between white-knuckled, startlingly cold hands. Her face lined with age, grief, and dread, with tracks of a black inky-like substance running ragged lines down her cheeks. Her blonde hair, messy, and was becoming messier with the force of wind rushing from the water, through the strands. All in all a perfect picture of abject misery and… defeat.


Patty Hewes was a woman who firmly believed that life was a series of games; in fact she was an expert on the Chinese game Go. The object is to surround your opponent, closing off all options or exits, before obliterating them. As an attorney she could appreciate the irony in that – rather like a Prosecutor who liked fishing in a 'catch and release' stream. Nothing gave her a bigger rush than watching her opponents 'hang by their own necks,' nothing… not even sex. That is until the 'game' involving Ellen Parsons. Patty thought she had everything in place, all the players exactly where she wanted them, with Ellen as the catalyst. She'd played this game before and with one of the most successful litigation records in the business it had proven results.

Aside from her… rotten but beloved son and her cheating financier soon-to-be-Ex-husband; her work was her absolution for her outstanding failures in her personal life. Honestly, she loved the dirtiness, delving into what makes people tick – particularly if it's a rather nasty vice; it was a bit like 'foreplay' for her. Forcing her opponent to look into the abyss was her stock and trade. As a result she was hated, she was reviled, she was also envied, and she was feared – all of that was fine with her.

When she was a little girl one of her favorite places was the zoo. Her Uncle would take her whenever she'd scored perfect marks on her report card – which was often; she'd always been a bit of an overachiever. Pretty soon most of the zookeepers and staff knew her. She'd planned to be a zoologist when she grew up – until the day they brought in a Siberian Tiger named Zulu. That was the day she knew she'd never be … passive enough to be a zookeeper.

She had watched as this newly "relocated" tiger paced back and forth, chomping at its new home. He didn't want to be there – he was a wild tiger; he was used to stalking, hunting, and bringing down, his prey. But now; he no longer had that option and you could see it in his eyes. Frantically, It searched for a way out if Its cage, knowing that the moment one of its handlers/captors got close enough it would do what was required to escape – go for the jugular. So she watched as the rage and despair grew over this injustice against him. That's when she knew: remain at the top of the food chain and take whatever measures needed to ensure your stay there.

And she'd been good at it, everything carefully planned and executed – people were rather predictable; with a little information, along with the right incentive, and they caved like a deck of cards to whatever she wanted. However, this… 'life philosophy' required a certain level of ruthlessness and single-minded determination found in generals on a battlefield. Add an additional coating of 'Teflon-skin' that didn't allow for things like guilt, compassion, or hesitance. It made her very good at her job – one of the best even. But it was utterly disastrous on her personal life. Her son seemed to have inherited almost all of her worst traits and magnified them; lying, an ability to exploit rules and regulations, manipulation, or even worse, an ability to disconnect with most interpersonal relationships.

It was why she didn't particularly care that her husband had so many "business trips" to parts unknown. She knew about his room in same building that Ellen resides in; she knew about his latest whore – no matter her impeccable pedigree; she knew about the dinners; and she knew about the predictable mistress-like gifts.

What she didn't know was the shady accounting and embezzlement practices he was involved in. She supposed that old adage: when you're busy watching your enemies you forget to watch your friends, rings a bit true. Then there was Tom Shayes, her long-time co-conspirator and right-hand man. He plays the long-suffering friend but often got caught up in the 'collateral damage. Consequently, after many years of discreetly facilitating the firm's dirty work, functioning as a steady presence in 2nd chair in a courtroom, along with a steady diet of her "heel grinding down on his neck," finally provided the impetus to quit and start his own firm.

Taking a huge swallow of single malt, the burn instantly sparking her throat, only to settle warmly in her empty stomach, her thoughts then switched onto the main reason she's currently incognito, recovering from a knife wound, and feeling as if her carefully constructed world was unraveling. It was Ellen that has her sitting out here, shivering, hiding, licking her wounds, from the media, the Authorities, her colleagues, and family.

Patty knew that Ellen started sleeping with her for one reason: revenge has turned out to be a great motivator for some of the hottest sexual moments in her life. And like most things, she thought she would be able to compartmentalize the… relationship and ultimately use it to her advantage. Frankly she was stunned at the ferocity of lust Ellen was able to inspire from her – her soon-to-be-Ex-Husband was adequate. But it was more of "Sunday walk in the park" rather than the hotly and surprisingly intense moments that somehow, almost unbeknownst to Patty, became slightly addictive.

Aside from a few sexual interludes in college Patty believed she was primarily heterosexual – but her life has never leant itself for deep introspection, particularly sexual introspection. The fact that all the men in her life tended to hurt her in some fundamental way wasn't enough to ignore the fact that she'd always been rather distant with them – perhaps it making it easier for them to betray her in the end.

But Ellen crept under her skin, surprising her with her dogged determination to see her demise, while leaving her sweating and shuddering in a post-orgasmic haze. Lovemaking between them became a 'contact sport' or a game of one-upmanship, that grew rougher and more desperate as it drew closer to the culmination of recent nightmarish events.

The supple, firm, runner's-thighs, tightened around her head, almost encasing her in a vice-lock, but that was fine. Patty was determined to finish this – to out-last her lover in this titillating game of one-upmanship. However, as always when it came to Ellen, what she wanted, desired, didn't always happen. She felt her clit being lightly nibbled on, before Ellen's talented tongue circled and lashed the tip. Smothering her moan in the wet heat pressed against her own mouth, Patty, continued thrusting her tongue in the humid heat. Ellen's tender walls grasped at her tongue as if trying to trap it, but Patty was too busy trying to find out all the sensitive spots inside Ellen's quivering cunt that would elicit the orgasm before Patty gave into to her own swelling reward.

It was the long, elegant fingers that suddenly thrusted, swirled, and rubbed, inside Patty's quivering pussy, causing Patty to involuntarily lift her head with a cry, that made her reassess her immediate goals. With her hands gripping, nails digging into Ellen's thighs, Patty looked down with slitted, darkened eyes, at the tousled brown hair spread across the bed, as Ellen busily lapped away at her cunt. Patty could see the pink tongue lapping up her juices before circling her pulsing and red clit. She watched as Ellen's cheeks momentarily hollow out as she sucked Patty's node causing her head to drop back onto the bed, setting her blood on fire.

But Patty refused to lose this game just yet; so she once again brought Ellen's hips to her mouth to renew her own assault on the wet flesh in front of her face. 69 was not something Patty had a great deal of experience with but since starting this affair with Ellen she'd found herself experiencing a great deal of… things she'd never saw herself doing. However, once she's 'dipped her toe in the water' she often wanted to sample again soon after. The taste of Ellen was something she wished she could bottle, after that first swipe, the flavor hitting her taste-buds, she became addicted.

They laid side-by-side, hands gripping the other's thighs (or in Ellen's case: one hand was gripping Patty's thigh, while the other was gloriously finger-fucking her), trying to hold each other in place their churning, thrusting, hips, as sweat covered their heaving bodies, and very hard nipples dragged along the other's torso, Patty refocused on the dripping cunt in front of her face.

As her tongue darted around in Ellen's wet heat she realized that she may have "bitten off more than she could chew"; the combination of Ellen's tongue and lips and fingers were doing a marvelous job of taking her off track and Patty could feel the fluttering inner-muscles signifying her oncoming orgasm. As Patty moaned and whimpered her impending release into the swollen, wet, netherlips, she tried desperately to hold off. But she was thwarted when one of Ellen's naughty fingers swiped at the streaming juices running from her pussy and then tickle around her 'other' clenching, sensitive, hole. Coupled with the deeply thrusting fingers in her cunt, and the intense suckling over her spasming clit, promptly crashed whatever restraints she had in holding off her orgasm.

Wailing into the gushing swollen flesh, her own hips and back almost bowing off the bed, Patty let the orgasm wash through her. This was one loss she wouldn't lament.

Patty couldn't sleep. She kept seeing the look of seething disappointment and fury in Ellen's eyes as she stood pointing the gun at her. But it was the small moment of desperate hope that danced through her eyes as she almost, literally begged Patty to "tell the truth." Was everything between them just a game, was she the pawn for Patty's amusement, for the favorable ruling in the hundreds of millions of dollar judgment? But what utterly almost destroyed Patty were two realizations: the first, was that she somehow developed a conscious –the look of devastating disappointment in Ellen's eyes was a terrible thing to see and even worse to know that she was the primary cause of it. The second realization; was that she'd come to truly care, perhaps even more than she'd anticipated, for the young woman, which made the resulting consequences utterly upsetting.

Everything that she'd believed in, every 'the ends justify the means' and resulting actions, exploiting weaknesses, and manipulating behavior to suit her own ends, her modus operandi – was giving her pause. Ellen threw that entire belief-system into question. Of course, Patty was woman enough to recognize that her machinations involving Ellen were the catalyst of this break-down. And their shared intimacy and reluctant attraction.

It was a First for Patty – there were many "grayish-area" type things she was willing to exploit for a favorable ruling, but one rule was to never sleep with the players or don't shit where you eat. While her husband like most successful men often skirted this rule, Patty had always considered herself above such predictable behavior. But Ellen was like a wounded… fawn who snapped at any and all attempts to approach her. After the Arthur Frobhisher case, the looks of absolute disdain and helpless feral lust dancing in those dark eyes directed towards Patty when she thought she wasn't looking was… intoxicating.

The worst part was knowing that it was Patty's influence and actions that changed Ellen from the earnest, 'girl-next-door-makes-good' into a budding New York City predator was becoming one of Patty's worst "accomplishments." However that didn't stop Patty from anticipating their incendiary encounters with a mixture of fierce want and focused apprehension. Their last one was… perhaps the most memorable.

Patty stood before Ellen's door, bleeding, dazed, and trying to make sense of how a punk-WASP- Wall Street-trader involved in her billion-dollar case had the cajones to stab her. Luckily he was just as inept at murdering as he was in most things except trying to 'cook numbers.' Trying to suck in large quantities of air and not get light-headed or pass out – she realized that instead of prompting their usual sexual jousting – she needed to go to hospital.

The worst part about that recognition is wondering if Ellen just might let her bleed out. Things were coming to a head; she knew of Ellen's involvement with the FBI to take Patty down (of course what Ellen didn't know was that these particular FBI agents were crooked and in cahoots with Patty's current litigation opponents: UNR and other energy industry players). She knew that Ellen finally found out about Patty's initial back-ground reconnaissance and subsequent lure of employment with her in order to manipulate events in the Arthur Frobisher case – and not the usual employment background check. And she also knew that Ellen believes she tried to have her killed.

There were many things that Patty would do to manipulate events for a case, she certainly didn't have try to have Ellen killed. Furthermore, she couldn't fathom… a world without Ellen in it. Not having access to her; not being able to gently torment her; not being able to see that fierce look of righteousness in her eyes – and yes, even not being able to see that look of vengeance directed at Patty would be weirdly terrible. She was her polar opposite in almost every way. That's why these next few moments would be the final test. You see Patty realized that Ellen was her alter ego, her 'angel' on her shoulder, and even more startlingly she became Patty's muse for why she fought the dirty fights, the Samson/Goliath-like battles. Because Patty had lost her 'reason' a long time ago, all that idealism, that belief in good verses evil was all dogma for "lesser people." Ellen challenged her to believe again. Even if it didn't make the moments between any less fraught with tension and acidic resentment; Ellen was… redemption.

But oftentimes, the tenser and sharper things were between them during their days of dirty litigation, the hotter the sex. So while her stomach increasing felt like steel butterflies were darting around, her panties had gotten increasingly damper the closer she got to Ellen's building. Of course, that was stopped cold upon the confrontation in the elevator by that scumbag trader with a knife.

All of this didn't diminish the impact Ellen had on her when she opened the door. Bewilderingly trying to dampen the immediate lurch of arousal that suddenly burned bright from a simmer as she took in Ellen's attire when she opened the door, she fiercely fought back the darkness that crept around the edges of her consciousness from her wound. Wearing only a man's dress shirt unbuttoned to show quite a bit of tantalizing cleavage, while showcasing long, smooth, and slightly muscular legs – runner's legs, giving way to some speculation that she was entirely nude underneath the shirt, momentarily took Patty's breath away. Ellen leaned against the doorway appraising Patty, while swirling a snifter with dark amber liquid that she was guessing wasn't iced tea.

With a look that even Patty with her vaunted people-reading skills was unable to decipher, Ellen stepped back, swept her arm dramatically to indicate that Patty should enter. Apprehension growing a tad more than usual, mixed with increasing need for medical attention; Patty wondered again how her life had gotten to this point. An intimately satisfying relationship was so fucked up enough that she wasn't sure if she was safer in here or outside with the loser soon-to-be-in-prison trader.

Patty stumbled a bit over towards the wet-bar, holding her hand to the wound on the side of her stomach. Her breath sounding loud in her ears, she finally registered that Ellen was just standing and staring at her. For a moment she speculated whether Ellen knew that Patty was hurt and was going to let her bleed out onto her carpet, but that was when Patty noticed the gun.

Well this seemed the day for target-practice-on-Patty, she thought. Ellen raised her glass to her lips, silently appraising Patty, judging her, while the gun in her other hand rested against her thigh. In a less contentious situation the pose would be gorgeously seductive. Her full lips wet and glistening, her dark amber eyes, smoky and intense, and normally styled, thick, reddish-brown, hair looked purposely sexy and tousled.

They locked eyes, Patty trying to stem the attraction and continue to block out the pain, while simultaneously trying to figure out what Ellen would do. Patty was an expert on reading people, but as their interactions grew and evolved over these past few months, it became much more difficult to read Ellen – she guessed that added to her appeal.

Breathing heavily Patty broke the silence. "So… it seems you have something you want to say." She shuffled closer to a chair, her legs feeling rubbery.

"You know Patty, I've learned to put up with your mercurial mood swings, your win-at-any-cost litigation style, they way you use and discard people as if they were objects on a chessboard, your abysmal treatment of Tom, of me – all of it doesn't matter right now. Right now; the only thing that matters is that you tell me the truth."

Patty watched as tears grew in Ellen's eyes. But she furiously blinked them away. Clearly she'd cried enough over Patty's machinations. However, Patty was growing weak, her breathing getting increasingly threadier. "El—Ellen. Look, wh-"

"Fuck you Patty! Don't start whatever bullshit you're planning on saying. You know that old joke? How do you know if an attorney is lying? Their lips are moving –that's you in a nutshell! Well, this is your chance Patty. This is your chance to tell the truth." Ellen slammed her drink down, liquid spilling over the rim, she turned her torso around to grab a folder.

She threw it on the table near Patty. Patty, her condition deteriorating but wanting to see this through looked down. It was the file on Ellen; her recon-file. Damn, Uncle Pete was supposed to of gotten rid of this. She sighed in irritation before a cough rattled out, setting off a fiery pain in her torso.

"This is the beginning of the rest of your life: confess Patty." She picked up her glass again, while hefting her gun. "Just tell me why? Why would you try to kill me?"

However by this point Patty could barely speak. The edges of darkness she'd been fending off was once again creeping forward. The damage to her body, coupled with the fight or flight response to her nervous system, was quickening the need to find blissful unconsciousness. But she ferociously fought it back – she wanted, no needed to see this through. Her eyes widened as Ellen lifted the gun and pointed it at her.

"Well, that's ok. I knew you could never tell the truth. Things like justice, doing the 'right' thing, are not in your vocabulary. But now?" she paused to take another sip. "You should be scared. You should be terrified." She put down her glass, and wrapped both hands around the handle of the gun, widening her feet into a shooter's stance, aiming, staring down the barrel of the gun at Patty.

This was the moment, Patty realized. She allowed the dark edges to finally creep in, her eyes closing. Only to be startled with a loud bang, her ears ringing. Realizing that Ellen shot the gun; twice. But before Patty could register that Ellen did not in fact, shoot her Ellen's door busted open; the FBI agents. As the shouting began, and the accusations flew all over, Patty finally sunk into oblivion.

Now she sat here shivering, more sober than she wanted to be, wondering if Ellen would show up here. Wondering where she was; she'd left messages on Ellen's cell phone number, even discreetly passed messages through Tom – although in order to dismiss his curiosity she could no longer use that avenue. Ellen's office stood untouched with specific instructions to not disturb anything. While people wondered and speculated about that oddity they wouldn't dare be caught talking about it around Patty or risk her hearing them gossip about it. She fired people as easily as she changed suits. Ellen was a subject that was never broached.

But, Patty knew Ellen was legend among the halls of Hewes & Associates– she'd walked away, she stood up to Patty, and she lived to tell (or not because of the a binding NDA), with her legal license intact. Patty had been working behind scenes to put away those FBI agents; they were now about to face 25-to-life. UNR's CEO Walter Kendricks went down in a blaze of glory, with a settlement in the billions for the families and of course, for Hewes & Associates– making it the largest settlement in litigation history. Ellen was cleared of all charges, but has seemingly disappeared. But all of that felt hollow without Ellen. Sometimes she imagined what it'd be like if Ellen… let her in again. Granted Patty didn't deserve it, but Patty has never played fair, and Ellen was her greatest cliché: she made her want to be a better person.


Part II: Andy & Miranda

Across town, another brunette was stumbling around in a massive bedroom, trying to get dressed and into the office in less than half an hour. She'd only had time to run a cloth between her legs; wiping the evidence of her total debauchery from last night and early this morning. Miranda had left out some clothes for her before leaving her to her own devices and heading into Runway. With a small hint of embarrassment, Andy pulled on the garters and crotchless panties as "instructed" by Miranda. Her ass and thighs were still red after last night's episode. Just thinking about it briefly moistened her already sore and swollen folds. She reached down and gently fingered herself before realizing that she was running late, and needed to get her ass in gear. So with one last rub (for the road- she smirked to herself), she quickly pulled on her jeans, and her gorgeous Chanel boots.

With a final spritzing of some expensive perfume – hoping she didn't smell like sex, she headed down the stairs. She made a quick pit-stop in the kitchen, hoping to score some coffee for the ride to work.

As usual a steaming to-go mug was waiting on the counter and Miranda's housekeeper; Carmen was busy dicing and slicing for the next meal. "Buenos dias, Andy."

"Buenos Dias, Carmen." Andy 'pimped out' her coffee with all the fixings then grabbed her bag, said a goodbye, and was out the door. They'd been discreetly… seeing each other for about a couple of months. Ever since the day Miranda whisked her away for one of the hottest sexual moments in her life. Her skirt pushed up past her hips, her panties disappeared into Miranda's bag, and the delicious sting of the riding crop on her thighs and shockingly on her swollen clit, left her reeling.

The crop fell. A soft shriek escaped Andy's lips as the pain blossomed and flared from her abused clit and radiated into an agonizing heated throb which made the inner walls of her sex quiver and contract. Her eyes flashed as something thin and obviously covered in a lubricant of some sort was pressed against the sensitive puckered bud of her ass.

Since that moment, it has been a constant series of assignations, hotel suites, fur-lined cuffs, a paddle that had Andy practically panting whenever she saw it, and a surprisingly deep exploration of her sexuality. Miranda wanted to keep their… relationship a secret, waiting for the dust to settle on her recent divorce. However, during Andy's quieter moments from their whirlwind sexual play, with no article pending, she could feel the stirrings of… uneasiness.

In those moments, Andy tried not to think about what were they really doing? Was this just a… game to Miranda? Was this her way of "playing" at thwarting the rules? But the most pressing and disconcerting question, the question that had her waking up in a cold sweat; would Miranda… throw her away when she got tired? Because the fact of the matter is that Andy is completely head-over-heels in love with Miranda.

Miranda is a transformative individual – only great, history-making, people are transformative. And it was Andy that got to see her without the veneer of the responsibility of Runway or now the Chairman of Elias-Clarke, essentially being one of the most powerful women in New York City – which automatically put you on a Who's-Who most powerful-women-in-the-nation list. But yet, the power she gave over to Andy in the bedroom had her squirming in her seat at this moment. However, there was almost nothing like the moment when Miranda came on her fingers, dildo, or spilling cum over, into, her mouth. It was almost a religious experience. Even when Miranda Topped Andy – which surprisingly wasn't often – but give Miranda an extremely aggravating day and Andy had better be naked and on her knees, eyes lowered in submission, with her ass stuffed with lube and a plug, nipple clamps on, and their leather paddle waiting, when she walked in.

Her ass, thighs, and nipples would often be sore for days afterwards – but longer if she wasn't ready. What people didn't know was that Miranda liked… no needed to Topped. She was a woman who constantly and with coolly disdainful, elegance, made decisions that impacted millions of people worldwide, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention the pressures of NOT failing as a Mother kept had Miranda waking in an occasional cold sweat some nights. She was under a public microscope, what she said, what she wore, even her personal life, along with her duties at Elias-Clarke, were pressures Andy didn't envy. So she understood while Miranda on occasion, for a few hours, wanted to be released from those demands. And for some reason, Miranda gave Andy an astounding amount of trust in providing those few blissful hours. However, it didn't lessen the surprise when Andy first came to this realization.

Andy remembered the first time she discovered how much Miranda wanted to be Topped by her. She had just come rushing home in time for Miranda to sweep through her door. She'd had difficult day, she'd been doing the follow-up to the largest Church scandal. Apparently the "good" Minister had seen fit to use Federal dollars via the Faith-Based Initiative program, to secretly fund 'floop houses' throughout the City, filled with enslaved sex workers. Women, girls, and boys, from China, Thailand, Latin America, the Ukraine, plus run-away teens from the U.S., were found in horrible conditions, drugged out – no doubt as a means for control, and brutally raped repeatedly. Needless to say the human misery was enough to try even the most hardened reporter.

So it was with this "gorilla sitting on her shoulder" that waited for Miranda, as she threw her coat and bag at Andy as if she was once again her assistant.

Andy stood fuming, watching as Miranda rhetorically questioned the intelligence of some designer or writer, the incompetence of Patric, while completely disregarding the pressure-cooker- that-was-Andy whose arms were filled with Miranda's coat and bag. Miranda paced for a bit, ranting, before releasing a huge sigh, toeing her Pradas off, and finally focusing on Andy.

"What are you doing standing there like a statue?! For god's sake, put that away," she pointed at the items in Andy's arms, "and then why don't you pour us some Merlot." Miranda rolled the tension out of her shoulders, before sinking onto Andy's sofa, slipping her heels off, and curling her stocking-feet under her thighs, but she noticed that Andy still hadn't moved.

She raised one perfectly-manicured eyebrow and narrowed her icy-blue eyes. "Well? Do you need an instructional manual?!"

But her eyes widened when Andy dropped her things on the floor, stalked over to Miranda, with fists clenched at her sides, then leaned down to hiss, "Do you even know what kind of fucking day I've had???!!!"

She stepped closer and while Miranda wasn't intimidated per se, she found herself… leaning away, but stopped immediately once she realized what she was doing. "Oh! That's right, you haven't bothered to ask!" She quickly stood back, startling Miranda and stalked towards the kitchen.

It was then that Miranda realized that her pulse was racing even as she tried to find an appropriate response to Andréa. She heard Andréa rummaging around, throwing things, before she suddenly appeared, flushed with righteous anger, chest heaving, gorgeous chocolate-colored eyes narrowed to slits. She really was magnificent!

Andy shoved the bottle and a wine-opener in Miranda's hands. "Here's your Merlot! I'm sure even you haven't forgotten how to open a damn wine bottle."

But Miranda was captivated and she wanted to 'poke the waking bear' because secretly? Miranda wanted to see how this evening would play out. She wanted to see if Andrea was… woman enough to subdue the Dragon. Right before she disappeared into her bedroom Miranda's voice stopped her.

"Unless you've somehow hit your pretty lil' head I don't believe I've warranted your behavior. In fact, you may want to check your own. I'm much too busy to play your silly little games." Miranda could almost see the veins pulsing in molten anger and the muscular shoulders tightening at each syllable in response. Her own pulse now thundering, her nipples hardening and she could almost smell the pooling want exploding between her thighs.

Whipping around Andy just stared down Miranda, fists white-knuckled, the seconds stretching out, tension building, and if the air was 'colored' it would be painted with: swirling reds and purple. "That's right Miranda: you like to play games? Well you've inspired me to play a new one."

She suddenly moved behind the sofa so that she was standing over Miranda. But before Miranda could respond, Andy palmed her shoulders firmly holding her in place and placed her cheek against Miranda's, almost nuzzling her.

She continued, hissing into Miranda's ear. "No, no, don't talk. In fact, as one of the New Rules you are going to do what I tell to or you can take your multi-million-dollar ass home. And I absolutely mean that." She nibbled on Miranda's ear before continuing. "From this moment on your attitude is about to given a drastic adjustment."

One hand slid into Miranda's silky white hair before firmly tugging her head back, eliciting a gasp from Miranda. But it wasn't a sound of pain, Miranda couldn't remember another time when she'd ever been this ferociously aroused. However her train of thought was interrupted by full lips crushed against hers, a tongue firmly pressing against lips, demanding entrance, before Miranda granted access, and that tongue immediately began plundering her mouth. Mewls leaking from her throat clued Andy on Miranda's arousal. But Andy was still angry. Before this night was over Miranda will have a very different perspective on how their intimate interactions would function in the future.

Yanking her lips from Miranda's, allowing her much-needed air, Andy issued her next order. "You have one minute to get undressed; but leave on the stockings, garters, and bra. Then I want you kneeling in front of this couch w—"

"Andréa surely you've lo—"

Andy continued on as if Miranda hadn't interrupted her. "You will kneel in front of this couch with your hands behind your back. And you will do it because if you don't I promise you that your punishment will be much worse."

The stare-down, fierce, brown eyes glared down into piercing, icy, sapphire-blue eyes as if Andy could forcibly inject her will into Miranda's body. That's when Miranda saw It: that implacable look that brooked no margin for compromise, allowed no quarter. In all of their dealings with each other; during Runway, Post-Runway, during this… affair, Miranda had never witnessed that expression on Andréa's face. It was disconcerting because she knew in that instant that Andy was willing to do whatever it took to gain Miranda's cooperation, even if it meant kicking her out of her life.

Because Miranda knew. She knew that Andréa wasn't just threatening to kick her out of her apartment – physically if she had to, but she also knew that Andréa would be kicking her out of her life. In that moment Miranda knew fear unlike anything she'd ever felt in her life. The unsettling feeling in her stomach gave way to icy knots of dread. The thought of loosing whatever this was extremely unpleasant. However, Miranda wasn't inclined to deep introspection as to why.

Nevertheless, on the heels of this realization was arousal, pooling into her panties, tightening her already aching nipples, staining a flush along her cheeks and heaving breasts. She wanted this, as terrifying the possibilities of this evening were, she was equally excited to see where this will lead.

"Now Miranda. The clock is ticking." Andrea's voice was pitiless in its quiet fury. Her voice also sent Miranda's hand into action.

Starting with her blouse, fumbling because her hands were trembling in anticipation, lust, and a little apprehension; Andréa stood up and back, her arms crossed over her chest, watching Miranda like a hawk. Once her blouse was off she started to remove her bra before Andréa's voice stopped her movements.

"I said leave on the bra. Tsk, tsk, Miranda. You're so good at dishing out instructions but yet, you're so terrible at following them. We'll have to add that to the List." Andrea's voice was now condescending, trying to shame Miranda. But Miranda's eyes flashed in defiance, indicating to Andréa that proceed with caution.

But Andy only laughed derisively. "Really Miranda?! I've seen you at your worst. I'm no longer scared of you. In particular, I'm so angry with you right now that my patience is quickly running out."

With that Miranda stood up to slide off her Michael Kors pencil-skirt, while leaving on her bra, thong, stockings, and garters, as ordered by Andy. Once that was completed a single dark eyebrow lifted in response as if to say 'Well?'

Miranda knew her time was running out, but she'd never knelt before anyone in her life, so she was reluctant to start doing so now. Even if… the possibilities were titillating to say the least. Plus the simmering rage in Andréa's eyes was slowly being replaced by lust, causing the blood in Miranda's veins to course just a bit faster. Power seething from her gaze into Miranda's being. Could she let go? Did she want to? Yes. The examination of what this means and why will have to come later.

Locking eyes with Andréa again, Miranda slowly sank to her knees in front of the sofa. She could feel a small bead of sweat trickling down her back as Andréa approached a step closer, she reached out and slid her warm palm along Miranda's jaw her thumb dipping between her lips, and Miranda couldn't help but swipe her tongue along the digit, her arousal ratcheting up from Andréa's handling. Andréa pulled her thumb out, dragging it along her jaw until she was firmly cupping Miranda's chin.

"You are such a magnificent creature. Everyone who knows you wants your success and fame. Most people – particularly us, 'little people' can only deign to be in your presence when we're not quivering in our shoes. But if they knew… how wet you are from kneeling at my feet; how hard your nipples are; how your beautiful eyes darken and narrow at the thought of what I might do to you and that you'll let me, Page 6 would take an entire page to do a story." Andy slowly slid her hand up into the gleaming silvery locks that had gotten a bit tousled from Andy's earlier handling.

"But I think even the New York Times would run a piece if they knew what a naughty slut you are. If they knew that what you want most right now and how frightened that it might not happen; is a 'firm hand.' Someone to lift that load from your shoulders for a while, to be strong for you, to give you a state of… grace." But then Andy gripped her hair firmly tugging it sharply back, a gasp falling from Miranda's lips.

What Miranda didn't know was that Andy was losing some of her earlier aggression, but she knew that she'd have to take this scene to its conclusion or else Miranda would continue to be wholly self-involved to the detriment of this… relationship. The tension built as she quickly went through a list of possible ideas – although it's not like she had a huge cadre of 'domination tools' at her disposal. Nevertheless, Miranda settled her dwindling chutzpah with her next statement.

"Andréa if you're planning on doing something sooner rather than later would be better. In case it has escaped your notice I am a busy woman." A smirk accompanied this statement sending Andy's anger back into the stratosphere.

Andy immediately sat down on the sofa. Using her re-newed rage it provided the extra strength to suddenly pull a struggling Miranda up and over her lap. Andy took a moment to appreciate the surprisingly tight, muscular, globes accentuated by the midnight-blue Guia La Bruna thong, before bringing her hand down sharply, causing a cry to fall from Miranda's lips.

Protestations, insults, and threats, fell from Miranda's lips within the next few minutes to no avail. In fact, Andy only brought her hand down harder watching as the pale skin go even paler for a moment before turning a becoming reddish-pink color.

"Miranda I'm only doing this because I care for you… and because of your total disregard for my feelings, my work, and my time. Now hold still, the more you struggle the more it'll hurt."

Andy continued to rain down blows on the rapidly reddening cheeks, alternating between one globe before moving on to the other, and sometimes her hand came down on both. Andy made sure to hit every glowing surface – she was determined to wring an apology from Miranda's lips before this evening was over. But Andy felt something else… she was becoming rapidly aroused too. Having Miranda completely at her mercy was probably one of the most intoxicating sexual experiences she'd ever had and since this relationship started she's had quite a few at Miranda's hand.

Andy paused for a moment. Harsh breathing and whimpers from Miranda's lips filled the silence. Andy's palm rested on the now glowing red globes. The skin felt hot to-the-touch. "Miranda this can stop right now. You only have to apologize for how incredibly inconsiderate you've been since you walked through that door."

Then Andy felt something warm and wet near her fingers. Frowning Andy did a closer examination of Miranda's ass and noticed some glistening wetness near her fingers that had seeped from Miranda's steaming cunt. Sliding her fingers down the crack of Miranda's twin mounds of firm muscle into the dripping folds of her pussy, Miranda's hips jerked, searching for Andy's fingers; lust instantly replaced shock – the little minx was loving this! Andy lifted her palm again as if she was getting ready to deliver another punishing blow and was surprised again when Miranda lifted her ass as if anticipating it, wanting it. Heady power filled her being with the knowledge that Miranda wanted this!

The fact that Miranda was one of the most powerful women in New York City, if not in the country, and she was getting off on Andy tanning the shit out of her ass filled her with such intense heat. She wanted to scrap the whole scene, slide her fingers into Miranda, feel the wet, tight, heat, surround them, stroke her 'special spot, until Miranda exploded all over her lap. This vulnerable and open Miranda was something only Andy gets to see; following this thought was one of intense gratitude – that Miranda trusted her enough to provide this "service" for her caused Andy to feel another emotion she often tried desperately to not give into; love. Damn! Even when she's not 'calling the shots' Miranda continued to hold the 'upper-hand.'

With that thought Andy let go of her anger. She lifted her other hand that was around Miranda's waist, stroked up the sweaty, smoothly muscled back, to slide once again into her hair. She gently tangled her fingers in the silvery locks and lifted her head. With a gasp, what Andy saw astonished her. Miranda's bottom lip was swollen red from biting down, her thick, dark, lashes… were wet with tears that stained her beautifully reddened cheeks. Then Miranda hesitantly opened her gorgeous sapphire-blue eyes which were now a dark blue, swirling with intense emotion. She was stunning and she took Andy's breath away.

Andy removed her hand from Miranda's hair and gently cupped her cheek, her thumb swiping away the residual tears. "Say it sweetie and I promise to give you the reward you deserve. More importantly, I will forgive you. You did really well Miranda and with only a few words we can move onto to the orgasm that you so richly deserve."

As she stared into those chocolate brown orbs filled with lustful concern and tender affection, Miranda struggled to come to terms with the feelings slinging around her body. She knew this was about more than her actions tonight. This was about totally clearing the air between them; about their time together at Runway, about Paris, and ultimately about driving Andréa away from her. Miranda rarely allowed herself to feel guilt or remorse for her actions, a woman in her position didn't have the luxury of second-guessing her decisions. However, that didn't lessen the impact of pain or regret on the rare occasion that she faced the consequences of her decision. Almost like a general and his troops; making difficult decisions in order to keep the apparatus that millions depended on was necessary.

But as the blows rained down, as she gave over to Andréa's surprisingly capable hands, as she… let go, Miranda realized that she had a chance for… redemption; her daughters, Stephen, Nigel… Andréa, she could let it… all go. A very rare opportunity indeed. As the blows rained down on her ass; equal parts pain-pleasure, mixed in with the intensity of a release the likes she couldn't remember, the unnamed-as-yet-feeling that'd been steadily growing since she initiated their liaison, perhaps had been there before the start of their discreet relationship, spilled over into silent tears. Because it was Andréa and this was ultimately about trust, she said the words.

Swallowing the lump in her throat, she whispered, "I – I am sorry Andréa." A tear spilled down her cheek, until she found her center. "I will endeavor to be a great deal more considerate in the future."

However, the fire that powered the dynamic woman reasserted itself. "Now for god's sake, make me cum, please!"

Rolling her eyes at Miranda's predictable defiance didn't stem the feelings of love and warmth directed at the woman lying across her lap. Well it was certainly time for her reward (and Andy's for that matter). Andy leaned down and captured the swollen, lips, brushing over them sweetly before pressing more firmly, her tongue coming out to swipe and taste and soothe Miranda's bottom lip. Her other hand, fingers still wet with Miranda's arousal, slid back between Miranda's reddened and sore bottom; brushing against her naughtier hole eliciting a gasp from Miranda, before sliding over slippery and swollen lips.

Miranda whimpered, her hips thrusting back, onto Andy's fingers, the need to cum was becoming overpowering. Fondling her labial lips, spreading the moisture around, dipping in and out, then sliding up to her swollen, needy clit, while Andy's tongue was mapping the inside of Miranda's mouth swallowing the cries and gasps out of her throat. Miranda's hips churned and thrusted back onto the fingers desperately searching for relief.

However, Andy had other ideas; pulling her fingers out and removing her mouth from Miranda's, she ignored the cry of protest from her. "You deserve a proper reward, I promise to give you all the orgasms your heart desires. But let's move this to the bedroom."

Bringing her wet fingers up to her lips, she made sure Miranda watched her lick the evidence of her arousal from Andy's fingers, her eyes darkening further with lust. Miranda tasted as delicious as ever and Andy wanted to sip from the source. Andy helped Miranda sit up, grinning when Miranda gasped when her tender bottom met her sofa. She stood up and then held out a hand to Miranda to help her up. However, her own breathing speeded up as she watched Miranda squirm a little against the cushions, obviously trying to extend the sensation of her stinging bottom.

Hoarsely, Andy hurriedly urged Miranda from the sofa and gently steered her towards the bedroom, lustily appreciating her 'efforts' of this evening. Once in the bedroom, Andy turned Miranda around and brought her body against hers, realizing that she still had her clothes on. Sliding her hands down Miranda's back, until she palmed Miranda's sore bottom. She squeezed, fondled, and lightly scratched. Andy greedily listened to Miranda's gasps and whimpers, before finally cupping Miranda's ass to bring her snuggly against Andy's body. She dipped her head down to crush her lips against Miranda's again, but wasted little time before plundering her mouth.

Andy's full lips released Miranda's before nibbling and suckling along her chin, down her elegant throat, before settling down onto Miranda's pulse point. Sucking hard enough to leave a mark, Andy moved her hands to pick Miranda up, eliciting a startled cry from her lips and laid her on the bed. Andy quickly began to undress.

Miranda was magnificent. Breasts heaving and flushed behind that lacy, midnight-blue bra, her nipples hard and practically poking through, her hair beautifully tousled, the hint of a muscled stomach, down to her thong that was darkened with arousal. Andy watched as Miranda brought her own hand up to her breast, squeezing, fondling, her fingers rolling and pinching her aching nipple, ratcheting up Andy's arousal. Andy quickly finished undressing before smoothing warm palms up Miranda's smooth, silky thighs.

"If people could see you now. If they could see how badly your body is begging me to make you cum, to fuck you. If they could see how hard your nipples are, how your juices are practically spilling out of your cunt. I wish I could take a picture Miranda. I'd frame it, put it on my nightstand… maybe even on my fridge. Maybe I'll take a picture of the sweet, gorgeous, pink, cunt, of yours so that when you're terrorizing people during one photo shoot or another, I'll be here, finger-fucking myself because I'll remember this moment with my own photo op." By the time Andy finished this monologue Miranda was moaning non-stop and Andy's face was nuzzling the lacy thong, inhaling Miranda's delicious scent.

"Please, Andréa, I ca—" her words suddenly stopped as Andy pushed aside the lacy material and was now dabbling her tongue along her sopping pussy. She lapped up her juices, swirling, and darting around in the wet, pink, folds. She felt Miranda slip her hand into her own locks, desperately clutching the thick strands. Hips thrusting, attempting to capture Andréa's tongue, alleviate the pressure that had been steadily building all evening. Her walls quivered under the onslaught of Andréa's tongue, a cry was ripped from her throat when Andréa suddenly speared her tongue inside her weeping hole, seeming thick and large. Her own hand squeezing and pinching her nipple harder as the orgasm grew nearer, while the other was practically digging into Andréa's scalp as the terrible pleasure swept over her. Andrea's hand slid around her hips to cup her bottom once again, worrying the sore and reddened flesh; adding to her pleasure.

Andy couldn't get enough; she found the taste of Miranda addictive, she didn't want any of her juices to escape. She thought that if she sealed her lips around her hole, humming almost purring in pleasure, perhaps none would escape but then her top lip wouldn't be able to worry Miranda's purplish-swelling clit. Andy could feel her own arousal seeping down her thighs, her clit swollen and hanging down as she pleasured Miranda.

Feeling the first fluttering of Miranda's impending orgasm, her walls squeezing down on her tongue, Andy brought one hand from Miranda's bottom to finger Miranda's clit; circling, brushing the digit along the tip, coaxing the head out of the hood. Even though Miranda's thighs were clenching down around her ears muffling the wonderful sounds echoing around the room from Miranda's mouth, there was no mistaking the high-pitched cry as Miranda started to cum.

Andy wished she had Miranda placed in such a way that she could continue to rain down punishment on her Miranda's bottom, while her fingers, lips, and tongue were occupied. Next time, she thought. Removing her tongue from Miranda's hole, she quickly replaced it with her finger, two, then three, Miranda moaning throatily and then screaming as Andy moved her lips up to her clit. Her fingers darted, rubbed, and thrusted, roughly, while her tongue whipped along the tip of her clit, as the orgasm spilled over her fingers and her clit trembled in her mouth. Her other hand tried to hold Miranda in place as she almost dislodged Andy as the orgasm crashed and throbbed through her body.

Sucking firmly while lashing her clit, set off another series of mini-orgasms in Miranda, until finally the quivering and grasping flesh began to calm, and the hand that was clenched in Andy's locks began to loosen. Gently cleaning up the residual cum, before gently she removed her fingers and placed a sweet kiss on her clit. She finally removed the thong and then kissed her way up Miranda's trembling body. She also removed her bra and then kissed and suckled her swollen and red nipples. It was at this time that she realized how urgent she needed to cum. Andy's hips slid wetly along Miranda's thigh as she moved up her body.

Miranda's warm palms slid along Andy's back, down to her ass. Andy whimpered, her hips danced and churned trying to relieve the ache building between her legs.

"Is there something I can help you with Andréa?" Miranda panted the question through lips that had screamed and moaned themselves almost hoarse.

Miranda watched as Andréa's brown eyes now black with arousal gleamed down at her, her chin wet with her cum. "I believe there is. Just slide yo—" her words were cut off with a gasp as Miranda slid her fingers deep into Andy's sopping cunt, while her thumb swiped along her clit.

"Miranda!" Andy cried out, her hands clutching Miranda's shoulders.

"It won't be long now, you're so ready. So beautifully swollen and wet. And it's all for me." Her thrusting fingers set up a harder pace, eliciting a deep, reverberating moan from Andréa.

Miranda nibbled and sucked along Andy's jaw, licking up her own juices. Firmly rubbing her clit, circling around it, before pressing down on the head, she thrusted deeper, hitting Andy's g-spot, swirling and rubbing along it, the orgasm that Andy had been holding off was suddenly there and washing over her. It took her a moment to realize that she was wailing in response.

"Yes, oh, god, yessss!" Miranda watched this glorious creature bow beautifully, her long-swan neck arched back, her gorgeous hair spilling along her back, tickling along Miranda's thighs, almost tangling with her fingers that were bringing Andréa to orgasm. Miranda knew that this was one night they'd never forget.


Part III

Ellen sat slumped on her forth bourbon and coke, well on her way to huge face-plant on the bar. But she'd been desperately trying to find a way into total oblivion for a few hours. For weeks now, she'd been unable to get a decent night's sleep; her days were filled with despair and an exhaustive anger. Added to this, was the constant looking-over-her-shoulder – all of which were compliments of Patty Hewes. Her albatross, her mistake, her complicated, her former lover, and briefly she was Ellen's world.

There are so many things she's regretted since Patty stormed into her life. To say that she'd suffered a fundamental shift in her world-view would be an understatement. Patty is the master-manipulator and Ellen was her latest work-of-art. And the worst part wasn't even that the people Patty held near and dear got caught in the crossfire or worse was killed in the case of Ellen's deceased fiancée. It wasn't even the fact that Patty initially lured her into her clutches for the purposes of a litigation case, or even worse that she believed that Patty somehow tried to have her killed, it was… that her entire belief-system was utterly shattered because she ended up feeling far more for Patty than she'd anticipated. And the feeling wasn't hate; although it's certainly not dismissed. She refused to give It a name because words give It power and Patty has already taken enough of that from her.

Once she decided to extract vengeance from Patty for trying to have her killed and being indirectly responsible for having David killed, she knew there was no going back. Her life would be forever, inexplicably linked with Patty's. But as with anything concerning Patty; she underestimated Patty's ability for gathering information, for being one-step ahead, for being intoxicatingly… addictive, surprisingly sensual, and… giving in the bedroom.

Their intimate relationship was an impetuous decision Ellen made and probably the most costly. She thought she'd be the… femme fatal, the young sexually-confident, woman who would be taking a successful, sexually-repressed, woman on a "journey of self-discovery" depending on Ellen to guide her the entire way. Then at its satisfying conclusion (Ellen getting revenge against Patty), Ellen would heartlessly walk away from Patty, unscathed this time. Ellen sighed as she took another long swallow of her drink. Sadly, as with anything having to do with Patty it hasn't happened quite the way she'd expected, and even worse, she'll be dealing with the consequences long-after everything is said and done.

Starting with Patty's body; those power-suits hid a wholly curvaceous body underneath. Slightly larger-than-average breasts shrouded by toned, muscular shoulders, with delightful pink nipples, a small waist lent Patty an hourglass figure, rounded-firm hips, and toned legs, completed the enticing picture. Ellen was bombarded with images of their liaisons: Patty mapping the skin of her back with her lips, her blonde hair tickling against Ellen's skin; Patty wonderingly cupping her full breasts, bending her head down, her warm mouth encasing her aching nipples. Patty between her thighs, thrusting the strap-on deep, circling her hips, the dildo firmly caressing her sensitive nerve-endings inside, while greedily watching Ellen's every expression as if to memorize the moment. Patty sensually bathing her following her and Tom's return from West Virginia, caring for her as she talked about the environmental-disaster-ridden town in involved in their latest case. Patty surprising Ellen with her vulnerable attractiveness as she wearily talked about her slightly, sociopathic son. It was all these moments and more that culminated in the moment when Ellen received the file from Uncle Pete of the blatant manipulation of Ellen and the lives of those close to her by Patty.

Shooting that gun was the beginning of the end for Ellen. She'd been obsessively practicing how to protect herself only to learn that Patty was not the worst thing out there; she was just an important cog in the wheel of an imperfect, unfair, legal system and currently she was one of the best practitioners. So Ellen made the decision that in order to not become Patty she had to leave. Of course leaving Hewes & Associates was a great deal easier than leaving Patty. Not to mention that Ellen made millions of dollars of 'blood money' as she to referred to it, from being on two of the largest litigation cases in New York State history. That she walked away unscathed (publically) from Patty Hewes made her a very attractive legal mind for headhunting firms.

But Ellen was seeking her own absolution and while her "rosey" outlook on the legal system has long since passed her by, perhaps working for the other side would help balance her perspective. Going after people purely because they belonged behind bars rather than because it might net her a million dollar bonus would help. The District Attorney's Office has already made her an offer; the pay was not great but that wasn't why she might take the job.

As for Patty? That was the reason why she was sitting in this dark, hole-in-the-wall bar, ignoring the leering gazes of the other customers –mostly men, and steadily getting exceedingly drunk. She'd switched phones, the old one was only taking calls – which immediately went to voicemail, while her new one went out to friends (now which consisted of a very few), family (who were barely talking to her), and potential employers. She knew Patty was trying to find her but she planned on making sure to disappear from Patty's clutches for a while. She needed to find a way back to herself and she needed to figure out what that meant in terms of Patty.


Part IV

Al Greene's Love and Happiness blared on the old music box, Ellen was staring to see more than two hands in front of her and she was having a problem of "the stool"; staying on it that is. As she attempted to right herself yet again, she felt another person settling in next to her. Blowing a raspberry she hazily hoped that she wasn't going to get hit on, yet again. However, her sense of momentary self-righteousness was erased when she slid off the stool and almost into the lap of the person sitting next to her. The Oof! was the only clue that Ellen knew it wasn't a man. Strong, slender, hands surrounded her upper arms attempting to steady Ellen once again, her reddish-brown hair messily blinding her momentarily. She reached up with an unsteady hand to brush the hair out of her face and finally got a look at her rescuer: creamy skin, full, pink, lips, big gorgeous brown eyes, capped with glorious dark hair, stared back at her with a smirk.

"Are you all right?"The smirk switch to a small grin, "I mean aside from the obvious intoxication."

Ellen returned a stupidly drunken smile while attempting to order her thoughts – which seemed increasingly more difficult as each minute rolled by. "H—hi—Hi! I'd… of--" The urge to suddenly sleep was becoming prevalent. Instead she stuck her hand out in the general direction of the woman, "My… my name—the name's Ellen."

But by the time Andy encased the woman's hand, Ellen was well on her way to passing out. Andy just stared at the slumped over woman in her arms in consternation and said, "Shit."

Andy was desperately trying to stem the tide of disappointment and discontentment from yet another cancellation from Miranda ---through her new Emily, no less! Emily has since moved on; Miranda finally rewarded her as Art Director for Runway London. Staying in her apartment would only cause her to brood over it, Lily was busy preparing for a gallery opening, and Doug was shaking his tail at a circuit party, so she figured if she was going to brood a bar seemed to be an appropriate setting.

Murray's; a few blocks over was one of those bars found in every city sparsely filled at any given time during the day with career drunks, secret meetings, or for a few people hoping to disappear to drink away their disappointments, regrets, or misery. Andy fit into the last category. She left her phone at home because she knew she'd end up giving into temptation and call Miranda or she'd obsessively check for messages hoping that Miranda would contact her.

As she walked into the darkened bar, she took in the scene, the usual suspects, and… an expensively-dressed, very drunk, woman. Andy looked around for some indication of who she was with, but only saw old men, a leathery-chain-smoking woman, and three younger Latino males, who were nursing beers. Noticing an open stool next to the woman, she was about to sit down when the woman almost fell into her lap, almost taking Andy off the stool. Andy wrapped her arms around the woman, quietly asked the bartender if she was here by herself and was told yes, Andy helped the woman back onto her seat.

She was cute, the woman… and judging by the almost empty bottle of Maker's Mark on the bar, quite drunk. The brand indicated that the woman wasn't a 'regular' because it was a little more expensive than Jack Daniel's or Southern Comfort. The sloppiness was also another indication – more "seasoned" alcoholics tended to not be as… "Spring Break" shoddy. Although to be sure, her analysis wasn't even close to being an exact science, but something about this woman seemed… off.

The woman attempted to speak, but all Andy could get was a couple garbled words and an introduction: Ellen, before the woman passed out. For some inexplicable reason Andy didn't want to leave this woman to her own devices. She asked the bartender to call a cab, hoisted the woman's arm around her neck, and carried, half-dragged, her new-friend to the cab.

Once they got to Andy's apartment building, Andy attempted to rouse a lightly-snoring woman so she could get her up the stairs to her apartment. By the time they arrived in front of Andy's door, Andy was panting and sweating with exertion. As soon as they got inside Andy deposited Ellen on the sofa while she went into the kitchen to get a couple bottles of water, a pail, and a bottle of Ibuprofen for her guest.

Setting the items on the table, Andy placed Ellen's legs on the coach, removed her shoes and then covered her with a blanket from the back of the couch. Brushing the reddish-brown hair away from her face, Andy took in the pert nose; cheeks dotted with light freckles, long, thick, dark, lashes, and full lips, to round out a fairly attractive package.

At least her thoughts were diverted from Miranda. She figured she'll sit in her chair-and-a-half, work on her latest article for a while in case Ellen needed assistance. After she finished her absolutions in the bathroom and changed into comfy sweats, she grabbed a Cream Soda from the fridge, and settled in for an evening of "alcohol-recovery-watch."

The groaning noise woke Andy first, followed by a neck spasm from having slept awkwardly in her comfy chair. Slowly blinking her eyes open, trying to remember why she wasn't sleeping in her bed, Andy heard the groan again. Her eyes followed the sound to her guest who was slowly waking, blinking open her blood-shot eyes. Those eyes locked onto Andy, right before Andy watched her skin pale considerably mixed in with a dash of green, the woman quickly brought her hand up to her mouth which prompted Andy into motion. Stumbling on still-sleep legs, Andy brought the pail to the woman's lips and gathered her hair in her hand. Grimacing with her head turned away, the room filled with the sound of retching.

After her guest finished 'turning out her stomach' she wearily laid her head down while Andy went into the bathroom for a cool cloth. When she returned into the room the woman finally spoke. "Where am I?" Pausing, she opened her bloodshot eyes again to stare at Andy. "And who are you?"

With a bit of amusement Andy wondered what she'd say if Andy jokingly told her she picked her up in a bar? After a moment of humoring herself Andy answered. "You're at my apartment – luckily I live alone. And my name is Andy Sachs." She smirked. "Nice to meet you."

The woman steadily watched Andy before responding. "Well you don't look like a serial killer, but my life has been crazier than fiction lately." Closing her eyes again because the light in the room was akin to shooting shards of glass in her head, she continued. "My name is Ellen. Ellen Parsons and I'd laugh at the 'nice to meet you bit' if I didn't feel like my head would explode."

"I'd offer you something to eat but something tells me – namely the contents of that bucket, that you wouldn't be able to fully appreciate it. So I'm just gonna make a pot of coffee. There's a bottle of ibuprofen and a couple of bottled waters on the table next to you." Andy gingerly picked up the bucket to dispose of the contents with her nose crinkled up. "Feel free to use the bathroom, take a shower. I left you a towel and some sweats. Don't worry; feel free to phone-a-friend , this isn't some reenactment of Misery. I just thought you could use a friend… and a safe place to pass out."

As Andy started for the kitchen a hand gripped her wrist stopping her, meeting Ellen's eyes again. "Thank you. I was well on my way to self-destructive behavior and well… I didn't exactly have an 'escape plan.'"

"You're welcome Ellen. I couldn't let a beautiful woman fall into the clutches of some 'evil' drunken old man." She smirked.


Part V

By the time Ellen relieved the "vice that was gripping her head" she started to feel human and was currently in the getting-to-know-you phase with Andy.

Nibbling on a piece of dry toast – a bottle of bourbon was "nobody's friend" the next day, she allowed herself to relax in what feels like the first time in forever. "So you're an intrepid reporter? What's your beat?"

"Well for now, I'm covering city politics and an occasional crime story. Since its New York the work keeps me rather busy. " Andy hummed appreciatively as she sipped her special blend Dark Roast coffee. "What about you? Those jeans and that purse ain't cheap. Your shoes neither, so I'm guessing you're either a banker whom I'm guessing was drinking herself into oblivion because she's lost all her money or you're a kept-mistress whose Sugar-Daddy suddenly cut you off." Ellen just stared at her for a moment before laughing with Andy joining in.

Still chuckling Ellen responded. "Actually I'm hiding from 'dark forces'… I'm an attorney. Although I'm considering a career change."

"Well I'm guessing that Ferragamo bag of yours says you don't work in the D.A.'s office."

"No… I've done ok. B-but…" she paused looking down into her lap, not wanted Andy to see her eyes welling with tears. "But it wasn't worth it." Suddenly she felt a warm hand clasp her forearm, lending sympathy and comfort. Raising her head, tears quietly trickled down her cheeks. "Everything I've ever believed in, everything that I am has been…corrupted. And now I don't know what to do."

Andy brought the crying woman into her arms, tears wetted the collar of her t-shirt, and she tried to lend her strength and compassion. Andy naturally thought about Miranda; this could have been her if she'd stayed at Runway.

"Well it sounds like… this might be the time to start over. That's the one of the few gratifying things about life is that sometimes you can start over. Clearly we were fated to meet. So what if your New Life started at the bottom of bottle of bourbon?!" She frowned a bit – maybe that wasn't an idea anecdotal motivation.

Ellen lifted her head from Andy's shoulder, sniffling, rubbing away her tears; she let out a watery chuckle. "I'd like that. If only… I hadn't fallen for someone who I think might be bad for me."

Andy frowned again. "Please tell me you're not in one of those abusive relationships? They totally break my heart!"

"God no! I almost wish it was that… primitive, it'd be easier to fix what's wrong. No. it—it's ten times more complicated. " Andy tried to process that bit of information but Ellen continued on. "In the beginning I slept with her for revenge. .. Wait!" startled Andy waited on Ellen's next words. "You're a reporter – you HAVE to promise me that whatever's said is kept confidential. This is the clause for the future of our new friendship."

Of course as soon as she said this Andy's reporter instincts came to the forefront but she ferociously squashed them down under the growing glare from Ellen. "I promise." But then Andy thought about her relationship with Miranda. "You have to promise me the same thing though."

Then it was Ellen's turn to frown. "But I'm an attorney, wh—"

Andy interrupted her. "You have to promise too."

"Ok, ok, I promise." Silence settled between them for a moment. "If you tell me to start preparing an NDA I'm going go back to that bar." she chuckled.

For the next 3 hours they both learned remarkable things about the other, the kind of things that'd bring Andy's colleagues to her door if they suddenly found out. They both learned that apparently… dating older women was in –a good laugh was had by both women at that realization. Ellen was amazed that Andy had worked at Runway; all those awesome clothes, she exclaimed. But Andy learned that Ellen's world was a great deal darker and more dangerous, which prickled Andy's protectiveness of her new friend. Also as her admiration for Ellen pulling through such terrifying situations grew, she began to wonder if she might have made similar choices.

She also thought that Patty needed a good kick in the ass and certainly didn't deserve Ellen. But if there's one thing she's learned since Miranda entered her life is that those on the outside usually don't have all the information, so it's easier to judge. Plus there was the "glass house" thing on her end. Although from what she's heard about Patty Hewes' take-no-prisoners type of litigation she was inclined to not think too highly of her.

Ellen on the other hand, wondered how Andy snagged the fashion maven; like Patty, Miranda Priestly was an "institution" in her field. She also could practically feel the love seething from Andy's pores for Miranda. But she suspected that Miranda might not return the feelings; however if she'd learned anything from her dealings with Patty it was to analyze all the clues before making a judgment. Unfortunately in her dealings with Hewes & Associates she often saw people at their worst and powerful women like Miranda or Patty often used people like her and Andy as 'disposable commodities.' While her opinion was rather jaded she worried that Andy wasn't prepared for this possible reality, but she sincerely hoped she was wrong.


Part VI

Miranda stood on the veranda looking out at the beautiful landscape before her. The night was slightly balmy, the air slightly scented with the some flower or another. She managed to 'escape' the various fashion acolytes, leering men in powerful positions, and women even younger than her, with enough chemical peels and plastic surgery that their faces resembled a snare drum. Yet another tedious event on the arm of a man whom clearly wanted… more from her but hadn't "read the memo" that he was just a convenient stand-in.

It was simple really. Miranda consumed by thoughts of Andréa: sitting perched on the edge of a chair, her gorgeous coffee-colored eyes were pools of compassion, sympathy, and… something else; Andréa reformed from the horrible Gap-bargain-bin-creature to exquisitely tailored skirt, Zac Posen shirt, her long legs accentuated by Chanel boots; Andréa's dark eyes swirling with lust from across the room of tux and gown-ridden expanse of people, in an expensively-tailored; Andréa walking away from her as she watched from the stairs crowed with circulating vultures with flashing lights. All of these moments and more colored Miranda's thoughts daily, as sightings of Andréa became a game of peek-a-boo, almost driving Miranda to distraction. It was if the Gods were conspiring against her by "throwing" Andréa into her path at every opportunity because they knew. They knew that Miranda lusted after Andréa long before her abrupt departure, they knew of Andréa's indelible mark left on Miranda.

Miranda frowned deeply; ignoring the voice that told her to stop frowning or else those wrinkles she tried desperately to hide would become more apparent. But the intensity of emotions continued to swirl, dip, and swell, inside her, making feel emotionally naked, more frustrated, and more exasperatingly furious! How did this happen?! What was happening?! Miranda raised an elegant hand to rub wearily at her brow, a silvery-white forelock drooping down near her right eye.

But each time Miranda caressed that silky skin, each time those full lips nibbled and suckled their way down Miranda's body, each time they laid in each other's arms with sweat pooling along their skin after a bout of intimacy or vigorous fucking, or when Andréa laughed or engaged in a skillful debate about some trivial save-the-world matter, Miranda unknowingly found herself… filled with tenderness, even… affection. Of course immediately upon realization, Miranda quickly gathered herself, her clothes, and her increasingly tattered emotions, and hastily make an exit. All the while ignoring Andréa's quiet looks of sadness and disappointment, and pretending that this tiresome situation wasn't more than she'd thought it might be. And if she 'pretended' long enough her body… and her heart, she thought sneeringly, should follow.

Except Andréa was becoming more uncomfortably harder to ignore. Miranda if nothing else, was a problem-solver –she wouldn't be the best at what she does if she wasn't; acknowledge the problem and then take steps to address it. While her experiences were almost non-existent when dealing with matters of lust and want she did know that if she wanted something she simply found steps to take it. Andréa was no different. Or so she thought.

What Miranda didn't care to examine even more were the more… profound ugh! she thought, feelings that were attached to Andréa. She had neither the time nor the capacity for dealing with such nonsense. She had a multi-billion dollar company to run, she had to re-establish some kind of relationship with her daughters whom have suffered unduly through this messy divorce with Stephen, she also had to execute carefully constructed plans to eradicate Irv Ravitz from her life completely (which has proven successful). And she couldn't afford to be… distracted.

She scoffed at that notion. This… affair would no doubt have potent consequences but for now she couldn't afford to examine them.


Part VII

Miranda stood "holding court" at her desk as all her department heads made suggestions on the impending photo-shoot. It was to be Miranda's last as Editor-in-Chief of Runway before relinquishing her position to Nigel and beginning her Board position on Elias-Clarke. A rather sinister smile appeared on her face when she thought about her nemesis– the very same man who was out-matched, out-witted, and furiously stunned, as Miranda facilitated his… departure and her subsequent accession.

A feeling like warm milk filled her chest as she thought about that moment. However the smile immediately dwindled when she thought about Andréa's reaction; to say she was upset with being-the-last-to-know was an understatement. Lips pursing, muscle clenching in her jaw was the only acknowledgement that gave Andréa's complaint validation. She had every intention of informing Andréa of the evolving events… but the plot to finally rid herself of Irv Ravitz became all-consuming.

Then there was the photo op featuring her male date for that evening exiting, following that announcement of her appointment to the Board. Everyone whom she deemed important was given an invite, including her daughters who were beyond thrilled to see their mother in such a triumphant setting.

Like too many of their interactions Miranda's apparent dismissive attitude towards Andy found them standing toe-to-toe in Andy's living room. Andy was angry, but this time she was intensely hurt. Like a wound that seeped inside her chest, growing bigger every time she was confronted with the evidence of Miranda's seemingly lack of anything-beyond-sex attitude towards their relationship. She wanted to believe. Believe that Miranda felt something more for her than just a few moments every two weeks for her to let off a little sexual steam. She wanted to believe that…Miranda believed in Andy, in them. But evidence of Andy's position in Miranda's life was as harsh a reality as getting icy water thrown in her face.

Throwing the paper with the Page 6 photo-op of Miranda's date to her Big Reveal soiree, Andy lit into Miranda. "I guess I don't warrant enough importance in your life – you know when I'm not between your thighs, to even rate enough consideration about something so important. Do I Miranda?!"

"Honestly, Andréa must you be so dramatic? Of course I was going to tell you but things became considerably hectic and I—," Miranda was cut off.

"And you were too busy trying to find a handsome 'beard' to be your escort." Andy ran a frustrated hand through her hair, desperately trying to mask the intense hurt tearing through her chest. "Christ! Why do I keep doing this to myself?!" She spun away from Miranda to hide the tears that were quickly filling her eyes.

Miranda could feel a muscle jumping in her cheek as she furiously tried to stem the tide of emotions, like a wild, caged animal that wanted to be free, emotions that Andréa often evoked in her—the kind of emotions that would make all of this much… realer than what Miranda believed she could afford.

Not her best moment by far.

However before she could begin another round of self-flagellation Nigel interrupted her thoughts.

"So any thoughts on the impending Patty Hewes photo-shoot? You know I thought for sure you were the only woman in New York who could make a man's loins shrivel into tiny raisins but I think she might have you beat. Although, the 'hate mail' we are sure to receive from her victims following this publication will be too numerous to count."

Miranda answered with a trademark bored tone as she examined the latest proofs. "I'm assuming there's a point in there somewhere? Otherwise the waste of air you're expending with your 'insightful' analysis on Patty Hewes is practically leaving me tingling with anticipation."

"Ha, ha. You're just feeling a little tiffed because Patty may very well be the only woman who is a bigger shark than you." Came Nigel's rejoinder; he tried hard to swallow his smirk.

Miranda removed her glasses before leveling her gaze onto her Runway's soon-to-be Editor-in-Chief and stalwart friend—which meant only he could get away with teasing Miranda. "I am a perfectionist Nigel, Patty Hewes is… something else and the best at what she does. Now that I've entertained your plebian need for amusement you have work to do before we head over to the shoot. Please send in Emily on your way out. That's all."

She ignored the amused hmph! from Nigel before turning her attention back on the seemingly endless amount of work that needed her attention. Although that didn't stop the thoughts in her head regarding the infamous Patty Hewes. This issue is dedicated to the country's foremost female legal minds; following Ms. Hewes' success with the largest litigation in history against the energy company; UNR (United National Resources), made the topic of female litigation 'sharks' popular.

With some amusement Miranda considered the sheer hatred and not a little fear Ms. Hewes' garnered from some of Miranda's male contemporaries from the insurance companies, finance, and other adjacent industries, whom have lived rather comfortably without the stress of public or legal scrutiny. Those days were over. Miranda had always thought that if some of her contemporaries had to function under the kind of scrutiny she endured on a daily basis, they'd cave like a deck of cards. With a shark smile of her own Miranda thought about her decision to have Patty grace the cover of Runway for this issue; Irv's reluctance to have anything to do with Patty made her a shoe-in for the cover story.

They'd been introduced to each at a couple of benefits in the past but never had occasion for more than perfunctory conversation. Miranda always thought that there were few women that wore a Power suit better than Patty Hewes. Well this issue will put her opinion to that test. Gathering her thoughts, purse, and cell, Miranda called for her latest "Emily."

"Coat, bag. Have Roy waiting for me downstairs. Call Demarchalier and tell him tomorrow not next week. Have my daughters delivered to their Father's no later than 4:30 today, and make sure those idiots down in PR send me the proofs of the media alert BEFORE they send it unedited, no doubt. Book my masseuse for Thursday at my usual time, clear my schedule after 3:30 on Friday and book a table for two at that place I like for 8. That's all." All of this was said as she continued her stride towards the elevators while "Emily" furiously scribbled instructions.



The photo shoot was in controlled chaos when Miranda and Nigel arrived. Women in various Power suits strode around busily either talking or yelling in a few cases into their trusty Blackberrys. They all seemed to be warily avoiding the older blonde woman. Patty Hewes sat calmly in a chair as a make-up artist attended to her, her sharp eyes missing nothing, and a man with blonde hair stood next to her. He seemed to be intently discussing something with Patty, her expression giving nothing away. Occasionally she'd lift a Starbuck's cup and spoke infrequently.

As Miranda rattled off instructions, bemoaning the general lack of competence, or icily correcting or outright replacing irritating employees, she watched the interaction between Patty and the male suit. She turned her attention to yet another mini-crisis, listening as Jocelyn and Nigel offered suggestions. Suddenly they both stopped talking as someone over Miranda's shoulder interrupted their train-of-thought.

"Excuse me. I hate to interrupt but I thought I'd come over and say 'hello' to Elias-Clarke's new chairman." Came a rich, cultured, voice from behind.

Gracefully turning around and giving a millisecond to examine the 'finished product' of a transformed Patty Hewes, before responding. "Hello Patty. I am so glad you agreed to my last photo shoot at Runway. I didn't want to miss this."

The black-on-black pin stripe suit by Armani looked stunning with her icy-Nordic look. It also made her look, dangerous, impenetrable, and bold. "Well I must say few women can pull off Armani as well as you have."

"I assure you; the magic was all your wonderful staff." Came Patty's rejoinder.

"I don't think so. You darling, give a whole new meaning to Power in that suit. Your colleagues will be sure to hate you more than ever. Well done," was Nigel's witty response.

Patty chuckled before innocently replying. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Figures. Lawyers; always keeping information close to your chest."

"Patty this is Ni-"

"Nigel Kipling. Long-time friend and your soon-to-be replacement at Runway. Congratulations." She shook hands with Nigel, while chuckling again as Miranda only lifted a well-manicured silver-colored eyebrow.

"Well if you'll both excuse me, I have to go tend to the models before they start eating the staff." With that, Nigel sauntered away, leaving Miranda and Patty relatively alone.

"In lieu of your coup and subsequent accession" she amusingly ignored Miranda's look of surprise regarding that bit of information, "you'll have to allow me to buy you dinner. We'll share 'war stories.' Beating the 'Ole boys club' at their own game takes a certain level of ruthlessness that I can only admire."

Now it was Miranda's turn to chuckle. "Tomorrow at 9?"

"That sounds perfect. Shall we have our assistants coordinate and confirm?"

"No, no. I'll be in touch." And with that she strode away, leaving Patty with a small grin and a contemplative look.

Patty wondered if she'd find Miranda Priestly half as interesting as she suspected. She wondered what Ellen would think of her. Her pleasant mood was darkened as she thought about Ellen seemingly disappearing from her life. She heard that she'd interviewed for an ADA position. How plebian. Ellen was so much better than that. Nevertheless, she planned to be back in Ellen's life in the near future.

She walked back over towards her own right-hand-man."Tom, have you gotten me that information I asked for yet?"

"Yes, she did change numbers and my contact at AT&T should be getting me that info later on today. As for where she lives? I don't have that yet. But I might have a way of finding out. Her sister is the 'black sheep' of the family has recently moved back in with their parents. Her marriage is dissolving. However, a newborn and an emerging hard-core drug habit might make her susceptible to providing us with Ellen's place of residence. Or I can just keep digging via a less nefarious way to find her."

Patty rubbed her chin as she intensely thought about the next steps in finding Ellen, knowing full-well that Ellen would find out if she took more… extreme measures for locating her, and that may add to the already substantial "list" of detractions in their relationship.

She sighed. "No, not yet. Just keep working the DA contact, I have a feeling she'll show up soon. When she does I'll be there to congratulate her."


Part IX

"I decided to take the job at the DA's office." Ellen announced to her friends over Shepard's Pie and Guiness at their favorite local watering hole. She accepted the immediate shouts of Congratulations and hugs from Lily, Doug, and Andy.

What she didn't tell them is that she knew Patty would be able to find her and that she was mentally preparing herself for this eventuality. She also hid the latest Runway issue that featured Patty on the cover. The photo spread was… impressive. She could almost hear the teeth grinding of the many enemies of Patty when they saw her grace the cover, she thought with some amusement.

She also finally contacted Tom, who'd left several messages as he tried to locate her, compliments of Patty. She was jarred back into the present when her phone rang… and lo and behold it was Patty. She debated for a moment whether she should pick up.

"Hey guys, I gotta get this. I'm gonna take it outside. I'll be back in a jiffy." She shrugged when she saw Andy give her a knowing look before pressing TALK on her phone and starting for the exit.

"Hello Patty." She finally reached the door and stepped outside, her heart racing

"Ellen. Did I catch you at a bad time – sounds like you're at a bar."

"No, it's fine. I'm just having some fun with some friends." She paused, hearing Patty's voice instantly stirred intense emotions inside Ellen, causing her breath to catch, a lump formed in her throat. Her eyes closed as a means to regain control. She cleared her throat before continuing. "How are you Patty?"

"I'm fine. We've just started a new case that's caught my interest. In fact, I heard that you're considering a position in the DA's office, so you might come across it." Talking to Ellen immediately transported Patty back to their more intimate moments; Ellen's scent, her taste, the sounds she made when she came, almost caught Patty mentally flailing. Stealing her breath, she desperately wanted to see Ellen at that moment.

"Well I know that you're busy, why don't we meet up for drinks this Thursday? I'll text you the details. Sounds good?" Patty held her breath as she waited for Ellen's response.

Ellen could feel the emotion welling up like foam spilling over the rim of a glass of beer. She wasn't sure it was a good idea to see Patty yet and she absolutely knew Andy would advise against it. But… she needed to see her as much as she needed to breathe. She wasn't sure if she hated herself for it.

"Ok, just send me the info and I'll see you Thursday." Patty was surprised as her tensely knotted stomach or the tightening of her chest suddenly loosening at Ellen's acceptance.

"I will." She paused for a moment, gathering herself. "It was good to hear your voice again. It's been too long." She hung up before Ellen could respond, perhaps not wanting to know if Ellen returned the sentiment.

Ellen signed off, shoving her hands in her pocket and then leaning against the side of the building, letting out a huge sigh. She needed a moment… or a few to digest hearing Patty's voice again before going back inside. It was at that moment that she realized that perhaps Patty was as addictive to her as Miranda was to Andy. Wearily Ellen ran a hand through her hair, her lips turned into a smirk; she'll have to remind Andy of that when she protests Ellen's impending engagement with Patty.


Part X

"What?! Are you sure that's a good idea?" Andy asked.

Running a hand through her hair, Ellen kept wondering the same thing. But she knew she'd go through with seeing Patty again. "I'm not sure… but I can't seem to stop myself."

Letting a huge sigh as compassion welled inside her – she certainly knew how Ellen felt. Stepping close she tugged Ellen into her arms for a heartfelt hug. "Yeah, I think I have an idea of what you're going through."

They were alone in Ellen's swank apartment in Brooklyn and Ellen just broke the news of her impending date with Patty. Feeling her eyes well with tears, she just wanted to burrow herself next to Andy on her couch and forget everything for a few hours. But as the hours drew closer for her assignation with Patty she knew that would be an impossible feat.

"How do you do it? How do you keep putting up with Miranda's bullshit? Do you think you'll be able to walk away? Sooner rather than later?" Looking deep into Andy's big brown eyes, she suddenly thought she could understand why Miranda found Andy so irresistible. Leaning her forehead against Andy's, Ellen added, "Do you ever think about why we ended up in their 'clutches?'"

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"I mean out of all the wet-behind-the-ears assistants or straight-out-of-law-school suckers, underlings with significantly less scruples, current employees , or future employees --why us?"

"Ah, well… I don't know. But actually? That's a pretty insightful question. I mean I think about Emily who is certainly attractive and kisses the ground Miranda walks on, would have her baby, while I knew nothing about fashion, and in fact, didn't even care." Andy leaned her head on Ellen's shoulder, perhaps to hide the intensity of her feelings. "I'm not even sure when my feelings for her changed. One minute she was a very posh pit boss whom I hated and feared and then the next thing I knew I wanted to do anything and everything to make her happy. Naked of course."

She slid out of Ellen's arms to walk over and sink into Ellen's uber-comfortable sofa. "But I also knew that I had to walk away from her if only to find the pieces of myself again. Yes, Miranda irreparably changed me, but I was still me somewhere in there, I just had to 'pull her out' again." Leaning her head back against the sofa, staring up at the ceiling she continued. "Miranda is larger-than-life, which I suspect is Patty's problem too. Trying to find a place in their world other than on our backs; no matter how pleasant that may be, is the only thing that's going to make us sane. I know that I'll have to once again, make a hard decision about Miranda if she doesn't get her act in gear. But this 2nd time around doesn't make it any easier."

Lifting her head she stared at Ellen, noting that she looked rather yummy in her new plum off-the-shoulder blouse. Mentally shaking her head at that train of thought, she watched as Ellen came to sit next to her on the couch, cuddling into her side, thinking that if anyone walked into this situation they'd definitely think they were lovers. Actually Andy was surprised they weren't; Ellen was attractive, successful, and they had LOTS in common; older women as lovers notwithstanding.

"Do you ever wonder why we haven't become lovers?" Andy who'd lifted a bottle of water to her lips barely saved herself from spraying water everywhere at Ellen's "psychic friends-like" question.

Ignoring Ellen's laughter, she responded. "Yes, because of that cold sliver of dread that'd tickle down our spines the morning-after as our lovers found out has subconsciously given us pause." As she shared a laugh with Ellen she offered a more wicked follow-up and a wink. "That doesn't mean I haven't noticed that you've been checkin' out the goods." Which caused Ellen to laugh even harder.

"Cute Andy. Anyways, we'll just have to be there for each other." Ellen paused as a thought came to her. "In fact, why don't you tag along?"

"What? Are you nuts? I ca—"

Growing excited as this new strategy Ellen tried to convince Andy. "Come Andy, it'll prevent me from making an absolute fool of myself and you can meet the "devil" herself."

"Don't think I don't know what you're doing Ellen." She shook her finger at Ellen she mildly scolded her, "You're trying to give yourself a little leverage by getting Patty to think you've moved on." She watched as Ellen pulled on her "I'm innocent" look that fooled no one.

"Ah don't give me that look. Your little manipulation isn't very original and from all indications about her brilliance Patty would see through it like camel-toe in a thong."

As Ellen tried desperately to squelch that unpleasant visual, she took a moment to rethink Andy's protestations. "Ok, maybe you have a point, but I do think there is some validation to letting our lovers think they have some competition. I mean how many times have you tried to tell Miranda that she can't continue to take you for granted?"

Silence met that statement for a few moments before Andy gave a quiet rejoinder. "I know. And I know at some point I'm going to have to decide when 'enough is enough' and I'm scared to death that she just won't care enough." At that Andy's eyes began to tear up, two fat tears spilling down her alabaster cheeks, causing Ellen to feel an impotent anger over Miranda's treatment of this special woman.

She slipped her arms around Andy once again, snuggling close. "So come with me or at least meet me there later. It's obvious that we'll be needing each other more than ever because let's face it: we can't tell anyone, we're dating two of Forbes' list of most powerful women in the country, we're also involved in a lesbian relationship with our powerful lovers, oh, and we're WAY younger than what's deemed 'appropriate' for our lover's age-range. You couldn't make this shit up."

A watery chuckle followed this argument. "Fine. But I'm giving you a few moments or more like at least a half hour alone with her before I join you. "She held up her hand to stall any protests from Ellen. "Come on you need to feel her out first. Maybe she's… seen the light.

They steadily watched each other for a few moments before Andy broke the silence. "So now on to the most important issue we have to address: what are you going to wear?"


Part XI

Miranda allowed the full-bodied scent, with black currant motes to dance around in her nose before taking sip of the California Kosta Browne's Pinot Noir which despite Miranda's preference for a good Italian Sauvignon, Patty highly recommended. She wasn't wrong. She steadily watched the pensive expression on Patty's face as she stared into her own glass of wine before she turned her attention on Miranda.

"Well thank you for taking the time out to meet me. I also wanted to thank you for making me look spectacular in that Runway spread. The loathing it inspired was truly first-rate." She finished with some amusement.

"I can assure that was not my intention. Having said that, I was not… unaware of the reactions it might solicit, which means more magazines are sold."

Chuckling, her eyes twinkling, Patty responded. "Then I can say without a doubt it was a smashing success." She speared one of the duck confit tarts before beginning a new topic. "I understand you have two daughters? Twins if I'm not mistaken."

"Indeed. Caroline and Cassidy. Perfect monsters, but very sweet and loving, and impossibly loyal towards a Mother who hasn't always had the ability to be there for them. Luckily they always knew their love was returned ten-fold, so perhaps it made things bearable for them." Internally Miranda was surprised at sharing this bit of personal reflection. But she suspected Patty might know a little bit about successful women raising children and the impossible choices one must make. Although little is known about Patty's son, other than he was in high school.

Patty continued to intently eat as if she hadn't heard a word Miranda said, but then replied. "I've washed my hands of my son. He is my biggest fuck-up and my cross to bear, I suspect, for the rest of my life. While, I love the Little Prick, there's enough mutual loathing between us to overshadow any feelings of guilt over cutting him out of my life." And with that she dug into her food once again as if trying to escape the words that'd been dancing around in her head for a long time but were now released into the atmosphere never to be taken back. "This is not to say that when I'm in an indulging mood or threatening to punch out my therapist when the knowledge that my son has perfected some of my worst traits, that I give into the guilt."

Mentally shaking her head at the acrimonious relationship between Patty and her son, while shuddering over Patty's relationship with son that sounded terrible, she became ever more thankful of her how wonderful her daughters were. "It is the my greatest fear and I suspect the ultimate risk to having a child with the kind of lives we lead. I am sorry for your unfortunate circumstance."

Patty released an hmpf! before putting her fork down and turning her returning her attention to Miranda. "Let me be perfectly honest with you Miranda: I was/am a horrible mother. The legal world, in particular the world I deal in is a world of shadows, where ideas of black and white are ambiguous. More so if you want to be successful. It's rather like being a politician in D.C., you compromise just enough in order to get results. If you don't, you'll get eaten alive; especially in the type of litigation I'm involved in."

Her eyes went pensive once again as if remembering something. "I once told someone how I selected a case. I told her it starts with a seed of anger and the seed has to be cultivated until it grows into a full-blown rage. And then I know. I have no choice but to take the case because the rage doesn't abate until someone's made to pay. It's not pretty, it's intensely complicated and dirty. Yet, it's what drives me… at least professionally." She smiled and not a nice smile. "And there is nothing more gratifying than seeing my opponent from across the table with an air of impotent rage and crushing defeat as I destroy their gluttonous livelihood."

Squashing a shiver that went down her spine at the quiet ferocity of Patty's words, she was reminded of her own sense of… vengeance. She thought about those who've tried to cross her and how she set out to utterly destroy them. Miranda wondered if that made Patty and her cut from the same cloth

"I imagine that most would assume we are alike, Patty. But I suspect that in your line of work you might have to engage in things I am fortunate I don't have to consider. I simply have to blacklist a writer or a designer from working in the industry or squash the over-inflated aspirations of an employee whom somehow thought that mediocrity was acceptable." She took a sip of her wine before continuing.

"Whereas, you are saving lives, most certainly livelihoods; uncovering neglect by powerful forces means you have to swing a bigger pair of Jimmy Choos. Although, I assure you that the intense feelings of hatred and disdain might be equally powerful from both our 'victims.'"

Following that Miranda lifted a questioning eyebrow and took another sip of wine. "So for women like us; our work, our ambition, tends to be what drives us, even outside of work. Do you think that will ever change?"

On the heels of that question Patty's face tensed and pinkened and her eyes darkened with emotion. A muscle jumped in Patty's cheek, before she seemed to gain control of whatever powerful emotions that tore through her like a tsunami, and her face smoothed out into an emotionless mask. "Some people call it coming to a crossroads; I call it an emotional inconvenience. Lately, it has unduly influenced my life. The jury is out on whether it's an improvement." Miranda found herself captivated and almost holding her breath, wondering if Patty will continue. She wasn't disappointed. "Her name is Ellen, she was one of my Junior Associates, and I keep hoping that…" a deep sigh escaped her, her eyes briefly closed tiredly, "I keep hoping that this will make sense at some point and I can go back to being that cold, unfeeling, bitch everyone believes me to be."

Miranda was astounded, realizing that her mouth hung slightly open, similar to the "fish imitation" she always accused Emily of. She quickly snapped it shut. She wasn't sure if this Ellen was her lover, but it was clear that she was able to do something Miranda suspected very few people in the world could do. Evoke a powerful emotional response that appeared to be something close to… love. Even more astonishing is the parallel between their lives: two older, successful and powerful, women, in the twilight of their recent divorces, emotionally entangled with their younger, female, lovers.

Because Miranda believed that only a lover would say Ellen's name in such way as Patty just did. Miranda's elegant hand rubbed her brow in consternation before frowning. Why would Patty share such an incendiary piece of information? From all reports Patty never did anything without some kind of hidden agenda and while Miranda can appreciate Patty's professional Machiavellian tactics, she was not a pawn to be played in one of her games. Narrowing her eyes at Patty, pursing her lips when she saw the knowing look in Patty's eyes… No! She couldn't know could she? About Andréa? Miranda felt her heart begin to race in cold dread, wondering what Patty planned to do with that information.

"Miranda you'll find that information is my stock-and-trade. Not to mention I happened to of been getting a late dinner-to-go at fairly exclusive, quiet, little restaurant in the Lower East Side, one night about a month ago." she finished with some amusement.

That cold dread turned into ice as she thought about what this woman is capable of and how Andréa would have neither the know-how or will to deal with her. Keeping her face purposely expressionless Miranda attempted to squash the feelings of fear and a rising anger at the situation, at Patty, and at herself for endangering Andréa.

"Oh for god's sake, in spite of what everyone may say, I'm not some unfeeling monster! I shared my own personal struggle with you because you cannot ignore the unusual parallels between us." She chuckled as Miranda struggled to believe her and subsequently maintain a level of trust in Patty. "Look if you're as bewildered and somewhat helpless when it comes to your lover as I am with mine, then maybe we can figure out a way to address the situation."

"You presume a lot. I do not like to be taken for a fool; you'd do well to remember that if we are to have any kind of dealings in the future." And with that Miranda prepared herself to exit the situation immediately, ignoring the look of alarm and concern emanating from her companion.

"I'm sorry Miranda." Patty looked down into her glass of wine and without looking up again she quietly pleaded with Miranda. "Look, I need…,"she swallowed a heavy lump of emotion before continuing, "I need some assistance. When I was able to deduce that we may have… this in common," she waved a hand at the invisible pink elephant between them, "I thought you might have some ideas or pointers that can give me a fucking clue!" She ran a hand through her shaggy, blonde hair. "Because if I don't? If I gloriously fuck this up in my usual way, I don't think I'll ever get another chance. And…" she found herself suddenly blinking away moist eyes that felt stinging and hot. "… I think it's the only way I-I can breathe again."

Her hands clenched around the linen napkin she finished her plea. "Miranda, I've been shot, I've been stabbed, I've had bomb-threats and scares, from formidable opponents and yet, I didn't fear them – I despised them. A world without Ellen terrifies me."

Miranda found her own eyes stinging and hot as thought about Andréa. She knew exactly what Patty was talking about. "Patty let me be perfectly clear: our future dealings together are of a personal nature. As such, any and all information will never be disclosed, bargained, manipulated, in any way without my consent or knowledge." She leaned closer, intently focused on her next words to Patty. "Because unlike those unscrupulous, nefarious, individuals you deal with I can and will use my considerable power to destroy you if you renege on this demand." She gathered her purse and stood from the table, preparing to leave. "I am fairly certain that we don't deserve them, but we more than likely need them, I think it's time to show them. I'll be in touch. That's all."

With a tiny grin Patty appreciatively watched Miranda make her dramatic exit. For some reason she felt… lightercentered. Knowing that she'll be "pooling her resources" with Miranda Priestly to woo her Ellen, knowing that she decided to take this risk not because it would gain her professionally, or fill that vat of intense loneliness she secretly felt when she wasn't knee-deep in litigation. No, this lightness was about doing something in the sun instead of in the shadows as she mostly conducted her life these days.

Yes, it made her very vulnerable, but when she thought about those burnished, brown with flecks of green eyes, thick lashes, pert nose dusted with a smattering of freckles, lush cinnamon lockes, and full lips, it caused a visceral reaction in Patty. But when she thought about their invigorating debates over some legal issue, her compassion as she thought about all those people dying in a small town saturated with the pollutants from their last case, the quiet looks of pride and happiness shining from those eyes as Patty outmaneuvered her legal opponents, were among the many reasons why this was her moment in the sun and Ellen was her sun. She pulled out her Blackberry and dialed a number from memory.

In the back of a Mercedes going Uptown, Miranda pondered the interesting turn her life had just taken. Without her even realizing it, Miranda knew her "time was up" in regards to Andréa. Everything came spilling into her mind; the sex, the thoughtless words and actions, the inconsideration of Andréa's feelings, time, or efforts. She knew without looking into a crystal ball that if she didn't take drastic measures now she would lose her – for good this time. Miranda shook her head wondering how Patty Hewes who was willing to risk it all in a significantly more conservative business environment, with intensely more dangerous enemies, for her lover, would be the one to remind that Miranda could do no less. And even worse, Miranda knew that she was in love with Andréa and refused to acknowledge that "little detail"; accepting that it was a strength, not a weakness. She sincerely hoped she wasn't too late.

"Roy, take me to Andréa's please. You remember the address?" Miranda requested. Miranda had been so busy trying to hide Andréa that she'd even gone so far as to use taxis---well that would be the first thing that would change. She also knew that she could count on Roy's discretion. She would handle a public disclosure on her own time and no one else's if she could help it.

"Yes Miranda. Would you like me to wait?"

"Wait ten minutes and I'll simply call you if I need you. That's all."


Part XII

Andrea had just plopped down onto her bed. After hanging at Ellen's for a while discussing 'strategy' regarding their lovers, exhaustion and mild soberness settled in, signifying her need to head home. She had to be at the paper early and she needed to do some final edits on an article she'd been working on. Ellen wanted her to spend the night, but she forgot her jump drive with the article, not to mention showing up to work in the same clothes didn't work for her. With a sloppy kiss and a smile, Ellen poured Andy into a taxi and here she was.

She'd just finished her article, sent it into her editor, and was getting ready to get some shut-eye when her door buzzed. Frowning, Andy wondered, who in the sam-hell was at her door at this hour?! It couldn't be Lily or Doug because they were already at home and it couldn't be Miranda because she certainly wouldn't deign to make an impromptu visit without a dozen precautions in place. Ellen? Did she forget something? Stumbling to the door because she was still slightly drunk, Andy peeked through the peep-hole… Miranda?!!!

Quickly, pulling back, her heart racing, Andy wondered if she should let her in.

"Andrea! I know you're in there, I could hear you stomping around."

Andy tried to find some kind of inner-strength to resist opening the door. However that was dashed when an astonishing, rare, word came from the other side of the door.

"Please." Came the plea from Miranda.

Opening the door, she stood in the doorway preventing Miranda from immediately stepping into her apartment. They steadily stared at each other, the silence stretching out a few moments. Andy saw something stirring in Miranda's eyes that she'd never thought she see.

Gulping, Andy was too scared to even contemplate what she might be seeing in Miranda's eyes, followed by her impromptu visit – Miranda doesn't do impromptu. "Wha—what are you doing here?'

Andy grew more unnerved as she watched Miranda greedily take her in; those sapphire-blues eyes, slowly sweeping over her bare legs, to her sleeping attire of boxers and a sleeveless t-shirt, and tousled hair, which Andy was currently agitatedly running a hand through. It was as if she was starved, as if she… needed her. Andy was trying very hard not to make whatever Miranda planned to do very easy because it'd be Andy that'd suffer the consequences.

She startled a little as Miranda took a step closer, dropping her bag onto the floor. "M-Mi, Miranda what's going on? Because I'm telling right now that you can just turn around and wa—"

"I'm sorry Andréa." Those astonishing words, hardly ever uttered by Miranda Priestly, except to her Caroline and Cassidy, stopped Andy in her tracks, leaving her with her mouth hanging open.

She stepped even closer into Andy's personal space and reached up with an elegant, trembling, hand to gently close her mouth. "It has come to my attention, surprisingly without the use of a physical brain adjustment, that I have not treated you very well." Her hand now gently cupping her cheek, a thumb stroking the soft skin she continued. "I have also discovered that a world without you would be intolerable. As intolerable as it was when you walked away from me in Paris."

Feeling hot tears fill her eyes, as she turned her back on Miranda allowing her to fully step into her apartment, closing the door behind her, Andy furiously wiped her tears away. "Goddamn you Miranda! What?! Do you think I should let your most recent transgressions just slide?!! Have you just now figured out how much you've been hurting me?!" Running another hand through her head in frustration she continued. "But you know what? I've allowed you to hurt me. I allowed myself to believe that… surely she took all these 'risks' because she…" a pained whimper escaped her lips, "because you cared. But I was wrong, wasn't I?" She turned towards Miranda, seeing as her eyes began to water; pain and regret filling them, before turning away from her again.

Miranda swallowed past an "Andréa-sized" lump in her throat. "I am very sorry. I know…" she dipped her head a bit, a silvery lock falling down over her brow, before fastening her eyes on Andy again, "I know that I have trampled your trust and doubt I deserve a second chance. But if there is some small chance that you'll allow me to regain your trust, regain your… love then I plan to do everything in my power to do so." She placed a hand on Andréa's shoulder, trying to gently coax her around to face her again.

"And I absolutely DO care Andréa. More than you could possibly know, more than I have bothered to show you. The only fool here is me." Swallowing her not inconsiderable pride she began to… plead. "I beg you; allow me to give you a reason to believe again, to believe in me and to believe in a future with me." Stepping close once again, gently wiping the tears away, she was ever so thankful that Andréa allowed her pull her into her arms.

The icy knot of dread, the suddenly incomprehensible feeling of devastating disappointment in herself, was lifted at the feel of Andréa trembling in her arms again. "I wanted, I tried to hate you. But I was on my way to hating myself. Hating myself for not being able to say 'no' to you."

Fat tears rolled down her cheeks, her forehead lying on Miranda's shoulder, wetting her blouse. She remembered the days and nights desperately waiting for Miranda, or ignoring the latest inconsiderate and thoughtless action from her, her heart stuttering at seeing a picture of Miranda with her latest "beard" at some tiresome function. "Why do you think you deserve any more chances Miranda? Why should I… make myself any more vulnerable to you than I already have?"

Miranda's fingers crept underneath Andy's chin, slowly bringing her tear-stained face up. "Because I would do anything –barring giving up my daughters, to have you in my life. Even leave Elias-Clarke and Runway."

Gently smiling at the astonished look on Andréa's face, she brought her lips down to press against Andréa's full lips.



Ellen stepped out of the cab in front of a non-descript building in Chinatown. Quelling the nervousness in her stomach, while stealing her ovaries for the coming confrontation with Patty Hewes, she thought about all the things she planned to say to Patty and probably wouldn't say even half of them. With an internal laugh she stepped to the double-doors and opened them.

Scanning the converted old-world New York City establishment, she looked for the blonde hair with silver highlights, in the sparse crowd. Her heart racing, she sighted her quarry in the corner sipping some kind of martini concoction. Swallowing, she started over, unconsciously looking over Patty. Last time she'd seen her she was on her way to the hospital with a knife wound. Still feeling guilty about both: trying to shoot her and almost killing her anyway as she bled to death from a knife-wound, she was relieved when she saw that Patty looked as icily-powerful and … sexy as ever.

"Hello Ellen. I'm glad you could make it." She gestured to the seat in front of her. "Please have a seat; the drinks are original and tasty."

Ellen gave small smile as she settled in. "A tasty, original, drink sounds wonderful. How are you Patty?" She tried to ignore the way her perfume snaked into her nostrils, expensive and tantalizing, making her wonder if she still put it on behind her knees and on her wrists. Mentally shaking her head at the image of her nuzzling Patty behind her knees, she focused on their conversation. It wouldn't do to be off her guard when dealing with Patty.

"Why don't you let me order something for you." she gave a small smirk, "I still have an idea of what you like, I promise I won't disappoint."

Ellen smiled in return. "Why not? I trust your judgment… for the most part." Ellen gave a smirk of her own. She ran her eyes over the gorgeous chocolate-colored, pin-stripe suit Patty was wearing, over the woman in general, not realizing how greedy her eyes looked as she took in the older woman. "You look good."

Patty just smiled while motioning the server over and ordered a drink. They steadily watched each other until Ellen's drink was delivered. Patty's eyebrow raised in expectation as Ellen took a taste and nodded in appreciation over the unique taste of jasmine and ginger. "Hmmm, tasty."

"So I understand you'll be working in the DA's office?"

Ellen shook her head. She should've known Patty would've found out; spoiling her surprise. "Why am I not surprised that you already know?" She chuckled self-deprecatingly. "Is this the part will you say how mutually important this opportunity is for your case? Or is this another one of your games; the ambiance and cool drinks?"

Patty gave a tiny smile while remaining inscrutable. "Do you honestly believe that the only reason I called you was to work an angle?" she held up a hand staving off Ellen's response. "Don't answer that; I already know." She lifted her drink for a sip. "There are many reasons for wanting to see you Ellen. The fact that you'll be working in the DA's office is the least of them."

Ellen looked into Patty's eyes trying to fruitlessly read what she was thinking, what she was feeling. "It has occurred to me that no matter where I end up, I'll never be able to rid myself of you Patty. And the worst part about that is that I'm not sure that I want to." She shook her head at that revelation. "I guess that makes me a masochist because I'm having a hard time deciding if that's a good thing." She watched as a muscle jumped in Patty's cheek indicating some kind of emotion.

Patty sighed, lifting a hand to rub wearily at her brow. "Ellen believe it or not there is something… between us that isn't necessarily defined as hate." But then weariness was replaced with her trademark laser-like intensity that was centered on Ellen. "I know that you think I tried to have you killed. You would be very wrong." Again that pulsing muscle in her cheek throbbed with some unnamed emotion keeping Ellen fascinated as those icy-gray-blue eyes deepened in color. Because if there was one thing she's learned about Patty it was to never show weakness. To say that she was surprised at this show of… emotion from Patty would be an understatement.

"I'm not above to pushing the envelope for a case, but murder? That is something I haven't lowered myself to quite yet. I rarely explain myself to anyone but allow me to do so in this instance. As you know the cases we take on are often against forces very powerful, very politically connected. And they will stop at nothing to ensure their survival – and that includes murder. To think that I'd try to murder you is one of the surprisingly painful things I've had to endure." She picked up her drink and took a deep swallow, before allowing another somewhat fake smile to grace her features. "I hope the whole holding-me-at-gunpoint thing has finally resolved this issue."

Ellen briefly closed her eyes at the painful moment. "Patty… I'd like to say I'm sorry but Jezus…" she shook her head as various memories dashed through her head before continuing, "… you left me no choice! You're such conniving bitch! You're good at it! But it's also the reason I can no longer work for you. You were sucking my soul Patty!" Her voice shook with emotion. "And then…. An-," she swallowed over the growing lump in her throat in response as her eyes began to water, "and then you made me care for you." She grew increasingly unsettled, the desire to stand up and pace growing stronger. "It would be just like you to make me fall in love with you Patty. I'd never forgive you if that happened." She finished that outrageous remark with a watery chuckle, knowing how crazy that sounded, as a tear tracked down her cheek.

Patty watched as she furiously wiped away the moisture. Her stomach felt like caged lions fighting, while her chest felt heavy and tight, knowing she caused the misery painted on Ellen's face. She was mindful that these empathetic feeling were rare but very real. The need to take Ellen's pain away grew stronger as she watched Ellen struggle to control her emotions. For a moment she wanted to forget everything and let Ellen continue on with her life. She wondered if she could let Ellen go, an unusual selfless act to be sure, but she didn't know if she could. She didn't know if she was… strong enough.

She gave an internal laugh: strength for her meant showing no weaknesses, rolling over your opponents, and never allowing your subordinates see you sweat. However, with Ellen those rules were thrown out. The urge to reach over and touch her was also gaining strength. It'd been so long since she had her lips, hands, or fingers touching Ellen and the aching pains of withdrawal were suddenly making themselves known.

She reached over with a slightly trembling hand, needing to touch, needing to feel Ellen. "I know I'm not a good person Ellen. In order to do my job well, to be the best, I can't afford to be, and I'm fine with that. But if I'm going to have a weakness I'd want it to be you." Gently touching Ellen's hand, sliding up its warm length, the tightness in her chest loosening just a little, Ellen allowed Patty to slide her palm against hers, entangling their fingers together, and warmly squeeze.

As Patty's scent wafted into her nose, sparking memories from intimate moments past, she finally acknowledged the need that was crawling under her skin, into her bones. "Goddamn you Patty I wish… I wish I could 'wash' you from my skin. I wish I didn't feel the need to drag you out of this bar to the nearest bed…" Ellen had long ago gotten past the stage of blushing-virgin working for Patty, where little surprised or embarrassed her. She didn't know if she should be sad at that loss of innocence.

Ellen also knew that she was slowly but surely coming to the realization where she accepted her wants and needs and acknowledged her short-comings. Ellen knew that if she had any intention of having Patty in her life that bit of insight was essential. She watched with some trepidation and awakening lust as Patty calmly sat back in her chair, sipped her drink, slowly running slightly hooded her eyes over every inch of Ellen, leaving visceral fire in its wake.

"What are you doing Patty?" She stymied the urge to squirm in her seat, as a physical reaction began to erupt throughout her body as those deepening blue eyes filled with arousal.

Like a lion that scented its prey, lazily watching until it made a 'break' for it before going in for the kill, Patty took a few more moments to watch Ellen before answering. "Here's the deal: I want you, but unlike most things I want, you'll have to decide if this is what you want in return." She leaned towards Ellen once again. "You also need to know this: I will protect and cherish this… relationship with the same ruthlessness and devotion I use in almost all areas of my life." Still holding Ellen's hand she leaned back carefully watching the emotions flitting across Ellen's face. "The choice is yours and I will accept whatever you decide."

Dropping Ellen's hand, she stood up, buttoning her suit jacket to give her hands something to do without giving into the urge to touch Ellen again. Patty dearly hoped that very soon she'll no longer need to curb this impulse. "I'm headed to the lake house, come find me with your decision."

Ellen stood up as well, surprised that Patty wasn't going to stay to further "pitch her case." But this… slightly humble Patty was even more intoxicating than the usual take-no-prisoners Patty. Patty leaned down to grab her briefcase, a strand of blonde hair had fallen into her eye. Ellen stepped close to gently push her hair from her face, and then affectionately caress a cheekbone. She stepped into Patty's personal space causing Patty to still. Ellen's hand cupped Patty's cheek and she gently pressed her lips to Patty's, her eyes fluttering closed.

But Patty had been craving Ellen fiercely. She brought her free hand up to slip her fingers through Ellen's cinnamon-colored, silky, strands, gently cupping the back of her head to press her lips more firmly against Ellen's, slanting her mouth, her tongue pressing against Ellen's fuller lips until she gained entrance to gently plunder. A drawled whimper leaked from Ellen. At that point Patty finally lifted her lips from Ellen's, both of them gasping for air, and trying not to pant from arousal.

Resting her forehead on Ellen's, Patty reiterated her want. "This is what I want. You are what I want… on your terms." Stepping away and removing her hand from Ellen, she straightened her suit jacket, and prepared to leave. "You know where to find me. Take care of yourself." Then she turned and walked out the door, leaving Ellen standing, her hand pressed to her slightly-swollen lips.

Slowly sinking into her seat, Ellen tried to process everything that just happened. The server returned to the table inquiring if Ellen would like another drink. "Yes, but make it a double."

She leaned over and grabbed her purse, for her cell. It was time to call Andy; after all she was waiting in the wings. As she waited for Andy to answer, she furiously tried to objectively think through all the information, emotions, and what she really wanted. Ever since David was killed she'd been distant and very reluctant to open herself to that level of vulnerability. But seeing the longing, desire, and openness in Patty's eyes today, made her re-evaluate her own needs. Or perhaps it was making her confirm was she already knew: she wanted Patty. And more importantly; she needed Patty.

A groggy, female voice answered Andy's phone. "Hello?"


Part XIV

A naked Andréa was sprawled into an exhausted, sated, sleep, while Miranda remained partially awake, watching her lover rest. So beautiful, she thought. She was resting on her stomach, a knee bent with a delicate foot sticking out from the hopelessly tangled sheets. It barely covered her ass, her back remained beautifully bare, some of the skin red from Miranda's passionate and involuntary handling from their earlier spirited activity. Her gorgeous, chocolate-colored hair messily spread along her back, and along her head. Andrea's head was turned towards Miranda, an arm resting along Miranda's flank. Miranda could feel her heart softening even more. Shaking her head, Miranda couldn't believe she almost threw this away; but her therapist would no doubt, be shaking her head at Miranda's latest self-destructive behavior.

After reassuring Andréa that she absolutely meant what she said, they spent the better part of the early evening making love. It had a new dimension to it this time. At least for Miranda. She was open in a way she couldn't remember, as if all her mental barriers that served her well through the years were no longer there. They couldn't afford to be; Andréa would know and she would lose her, possibly forever, and that was unacceptable. By all rights, she didn't deserve her, but as long as Andréa wanted her, she would never giver her up.

Miranda ran a hand along her Andréa's back, until she came to her ass, her breasts, brushing along Andréa's side. Her breasts were still tender from Andréa's worshipping earlier. However, that constant thrum of desire still simmered as it always did around Andréa. She couldn't wait to see her in the vintage Christian Dior gown she bought her for her birthday next month. She had every intention of seeing her wear it at the upcoming Met benefit. She'd already commissioned the jewelry to match. However, the Agent Provocateur lingerie she'd bought for Andréa was a 'little gift' for Miranda. She couldn't wait unveil her lover down to the lingerie.

Her daughters were spending the evening with their best friend. But she was very surprised at their… snoopiness. Apparently after over-hearing several phone conversations with Andréa, along with deducing her late-night assignations, and apparently Miranda had been slipping Andréa's name into many of their conversations, led to her daughters indicating to Miranda that they knew that Andréa was… important to Miranda. Additionally, they were very unimpressed with the male suitors Miranda had been squiring about town occasionally. Her daughters were so smart! Smiling Miranda leaned down and kissed Andréa's back before turning and reaching for her phone, only to be startled with the buzz of Andréa's home phone. Making a quick decision she quickly picked it up before it woke Andréa and answered.

"Hello? Andréa Sach's residence."


Part XV

"H—hello? Is Andy--, may I speak to Andy please?"

"She's sleeping right now. May I take a message?"

"Is this Lily?"

A silvery eyebrow crested to her hairline at this person's presumption. "No."

Miranda was not one to explain herself to anyone (other than her Daughters or Andréa) but realized that this was the… beginning of her commitment to Andréa. "This is Miranda." Her answer was clear but ambiguous enough.

The gasp on the other clued Miranda in that the person might know who she was. "Andy's Miranda?!"

"And who might you be?" Miranda wasn't willing to disclose any more information than necessary.

"I'm Andy's friend Ellen. Ellen Parsons."

Only through years of experience in hiding her emotions, the surprise at who it was on the line was hidden as she responded. "I see. Well she is sleeping at the moment. Would you like me to leave a message?"

"Wait! What are you doing there? Look, I know that Andy can take care of herself, but she doesn't seem to have an… 'off button' when it comes to you. You've hurt her badly. And I'm not going to let you hurt her again."

Miranda kept her voice in even tones to hide her growing anger at the audacity of this young woman's assumption. "You must be confusing me with someone who cares. I will let Andréa know you called." Ignoring the protests from the other end of the line she hung up the phone.

She took a moment to calm herself before turning her head towards Andréa only to see her awake and smirking at Miranda. The cheeky minx! "So you sort of met Ellen?"

Andy brought her body closer to snuggle up against Miranda, leaning her torso up to kiss the mild glare off of Miranda's face. "I will not be ….guilted by some—" She was interrupted by Andréa's lips again.

Andy lifting her mouth inches from Miranda's for a verbal response "Well we spent quite a few nights on each other's couches crying and eating Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Karmel Sutra over our respective, troublesome, lovers." Kissing Miranda again, longer, deeper, tasting her, causing a moan to slip past Miranda's lips into Andy's mouth, she continued. "In fact, Ellen's in a… similar situation. We're both crazy about older, successful, powerful, women.

Tugging Andy onto her lap, Miranda nuzzled along Andréa's jaw, deciding she was curious enough to want an answer to Andréa's statement. "Oh really? Whom, pray tell, is Ellen 'crazy' about?"

"Patty Hewes." Miranda jerked her head from Andy's with a stunned look on her face.

"You're kidding?! Patty?!" Suddenly a chuckle that turned into a rare giggle, then became an even rarer full-bellied, melodious, laugh, and Miranda became this beautiful, light-hearted, woman that very few people see. Andy was exceedingly privileged to witness this phenomenon and promised herself to make sure it happened more often.

"Well, I'm going to take a shower. Why don't you scrounge something up to eat and call your friend? I'm sure she's frantic with thoughts of your emotional demise." Shaking her head, still chuckling, Miranda stood gloriously naked, pinkened nipples hard in the cool air, and the ever-present arousal simmering in her eyes as she looked at Andréa's naked form lying supine against the white sheets.

Andy laid back and brought her hands up behind her head. "I'll join you in a minute." An uncertain expression suddenly appeared on her face. "Do you? Really?"

Miranda stared into Andréa's eyes, her own face softening as she attempted to express every emotion she kept hidden or suppressed. "I do Andréa. I love you very much. Now I just have to show you how much." She smiled before leaving the room and Andy to her bathe in the after-glow of such possibilities.


Part XVI

"Are you serious?!!!" exclaimed a surprised Ellen over the phone.

A sigh, not unlike the loving kind of sighs women give when pining over someone. "Yeah. She does and I'm giving her a chance to show me."

"Are you sure? I mean if she's anything like my Patty," Ellen stated, unknowingly attributing a possessive term to Patty, "you have to be careful."

"'Careful left the bar' a long time ago. And whenever Miranda gives her word, she means it, so I'm going to believe in that. And believe that she loves me."

"Wow. Well, I'm not sure if our women were drinking the same kool-aid today, but as you know I met with Patty. While there were no… grand declarations of love and devotion, for Patty-speak, it was pretty… big." Ellen sounded bewildered, as if she couldn't believe what happened or certainly was afraid to believe as she filled Andy in on what Patty said.

"Look, I have to go. Are you gonna be ok tonight. Where is Patty now?"

"She's at her lake house." Andy could hear the longing in that statement and wondered if Ellen wouldn't be making her decision sooner rather than later.

"Well whatever you decide, you know I'm here for you. Let's do lunch tomorrow, ok?"

Suddenly Ellen whispered, "I think I'm gonna say 'yes.' I'm crazy about her, even if she doesn't fucking deserve it!"

Andy frowned in concern. "Are you sure?"

Ellen let out a bark of laughter. "Now you sound like me." she sighed. "Yeah, I think so. Look, go join your lover and we'll touch base tomorrow. And Andy?"


"Tell Miranda I said she better treat you right or we're going to have a very uncomfortable conversation. And you take care." She ignored Andy's chuckling. "Love you. Bye"

"Bye, Ellen. Take care of yourself. And say 'hi' to Patty." She hung up before Ellen protested. Andy had a shower and a gorgeous woman waiting for her.



After LOTS of deliberation, Ellen found herself in front of Patty's lakeside retreat. She was currently debating whether to go through with ringing the doorbell. She adjusted the strap from her purse on her shoulder and decided she needed to 'woman-up.' She rang the doorbell. The last time she'd been this nervous was when Patty showed up at her sister's wedding to interview Ellen.

She raised her hand and knocked.

Patty was currently trying to come up with a strategy on her latest case - the Tobins. She just gotten off the phone with her forensic accountant; Patty shook her head, wondering how does one become a forensic accountant. Subsequently, she was aware for the first time… of her lack of concentration or usual righteous rage that served her so well when dealing with scums like the Tobins. She'd been charged by the United States District Attorney's office to find the estimated billions that financier Lou Tobin swindled from his clients. It didn't help that her long-time friend and partner Tom Shayes had been acting uncharacteristically making mistakes. She made a mental note to sit him down soon to find out if there was something else going on.

She'd also been distracted. Ever since Ellen left her, she'd admittedly hadn't been as present as she usually would be. During inopportune moments either in a meeting or having a crucial discussion with Tom, she'd suddenly find herself remembering a similar moment with Ellen. Other times, would find Patty staring off into space transported back to a sexually intense moment; either a bed in Ellen's old bedroom, or Patty's bed at her lakeside home. The final nail in the coffin, was how she'd been handling a hopeful and ambitious law school graduate named Alex. Every decision she makes, the way Alex executes a tasks, even the way she tosses her hair, will remind Patty of Ellen. And how much she desperately missed her.

Letting out a deep sigh while tiredly removing her glasses and running a hand through her hair, Patty could feel herself slumping in her chair. Sometimes she wondered if her success was all worth it. Was it worth the monetary justice for victims of greed, gluttony, even murder, from very powerful (mostly men) people, was worth having no fulfilling personal life. She very rarely allowed herself a moment to wallow in regret or even worse, self-flagellation, but her conversation with her new… colleague, perhaps friend, Miranda Priestly, in combination with seeing Ellen, made her lack of personal contentment suddenly glaring.

Needless to say she wasn't surprised when she recently received a call from Miranda where she stated her intentions to go after her Andréa. Miranda also encouraged Patty to take a chance, go after Ellen. So it was with some relief when Ellen met with her for drinks. She still wasn't sure how it went. She could only do so much, but the 'waiting' was sheer agony. She got up to pour herself a glass of wine and as she was pouring the doorbell rang.

Frowning she couldn't imagine who knew she was up here. She only wore a pair of flannel pajama pants and a satin robe. Patty hoped whoever it was didn't plan on staying here very long, she wanted to be alone. Calming her dog, she went to the door, stared through the peephole and could only see dark hair. With a sudden pounding heart Patty instantly knew who it was. Hands suddenly shaking she unlocked the door, punched in her security code, and opened the door.




"Hello Patty."

"What are you doing here? Come in."

Ellen paused for a moment, taking in Patty, making the older woman almost nervous, before she stepped through the door, brought her hands up cupping Patty's cheeks, instantly stalling whatever Patty was about to ask. She stepped into her body, and quickly but firmly brought her lips down onto Patty's mouth. Nibbling along Patty's lips, Ellen gently swiped her tongue along her bottom lip, leaving a tingling sensation in its wake, before pressing against Patty's lips, questing entrance into her mouth, and being granted.

Patty slid her arms around Ellen's waist, bringing the bodies firmly together. A moan left her lips as Ellen's tongue plundered her mouth, tasting every inch, leaving no surface untouched, before tangling with her tongue. Patty suckled Ellen's tongue causing a whimper to escape Ellen's lips. Her jacket was cold from the outside, chafing her nipples underneath her robe, causing them to rapidly harden – but not just from the cold. Arousal, sweet and scorching, zipped through her veins. Needing to breathe she minutely lifted her lips from Ellen's only to hear one word from Ellen.

"Yes." Once again Ellen brought her lips to Patty's, taking possession, lightly suckling her tongue, her lips, before moving to nibble along Patty's strong jawline, causing her cheek muscle to jump in response.

She whispered against Patty's skin as she continued to suckle along her neck and jaw. "Yes. But before we 'negotiate terms' I so desperately need you to make love to me."

Patty slid her hands on the inside of Ellen's jacket, cupping the sides of her torso, before moving her hands down to firmly cup Ellen's ass. "I think I can live with that." She brought her hands up to slide the jacket off of Ellen's shoulders, taking her suit jacket with it.

"Hmmm, you have no idea how much I've missed you. I'd almost forgotten how much until you walked into that bar today." Patty paused to kiss Ellen again, wanting her naked and writhing against her as soon as possible. Once again, she pressed her body closer to Ellen's, enjoying the heat seeping into her skin from Ellen's body. "But then you've always had that kind of effect on me." Patty slid a hand into Ellen's silky locks and slammed her lips back onto Ellen's. It was time to thoroughly reacquaint herself with her lover's body.



Andy luxuriated in the unbelievably soft sheets and the balmy air that caressed the skin on her back. The sweat had long since cooled from the thorough loving from Miranda and subsequent nap following their activities. She turned her head once it registered that the spot next to her was slightly cool indicating that Miranda had long since abandoned their four-poster bed in their vacation suite. She reached up to brush her tangled locks in some semblance of order and then indulged in a long, full-body stretch that felt altogether delicious.

Well… not as delicious as that chocolate-covered strawberry she had dipped into the liquid heat that was pouring from Miranda's swollen pussy earlier. She propped her head onto her hand, while scanning their master bedroom for her lover, marveling at this amazing vacation Miranda surprised her with. Upon arrival, they were greeted with yummy cocktails of rum punch, coolly-scented hand towels, and a day later their surprising vacation partners: Patty Hewes and her friend Ellen Parsons.

The infamous Patty Hewes she'd heard so much about. Within seconds of meeting her she could see the magnetic personality that involuntarily drew her friend in--- although it was a tad darker. Both she and Ellen watched in surprise as Patty and Miranda immediately started chatting like they were long-lost friends. Now it was safe to say that considering they were two of the most influential women in New York they'd of crossed paths occasionally. But it was clear that they seemed… comfortable with each other. Well as comfortable as a Dragon and Lion could be. They'd never sit around and gossip while braiding each other's hair, but perhaps they found in each other someone they could… trust given their respective cut-throat professions.

Although from what Andy had been reading lately; Patty's partner Tom Shayes was recently found dead, maybe murdered, all the while victoriously reclaiming a huge portion of the stolen money from the Tobin scam, and Patty's hugely surprising Leave-of-Absence from her firm, Andy thought that Patty could use all the real, loyal, friends she could get. Ellen also clued her in about Patty's son who seems more devils' spawn than an actual human being. Andy shivered as her thoughts then turned to Cassidy and Caroline—upon hearing the almost non-existent relationship between Patty and her son, Miranda immediately exclaimed how fortunate she was that her girls were so well-adjusted.

They sat curled up with each other in Miranda's study. Andy had just finished recounting the latest drama that surrounded her friend Ellen's life. Andy was currently running her fingers through uber-soft silvery locks. She watched as Miranda got a far-away look in her eyes.

"Are you ok Miranda?"

Miranda slowly turned her head to look at Andy, her eyes had become a little teary. "I am well aware of my short-comings as a Mother. I know that I do not spend nearly enough time with them. And yet…" she swallowed a lump before continuing. "… and yet, through no fault of my own, they're smart, loving, compassionate, and somehow love me dearly." She quickly wiped away any tears before they fell. "I recognize that women in my position often take their children for granted. But not once did I not realize how very important they were to me. Perhaps… that has been my saving grace." Sighing, Miranda gave a very Gallic shrug as if dismissing such a nebulous explanation.

Looking into sympathetic, loving brown eyes Miranda felt it important to add a crucial point to this heartfelt discussion. "Perhaps, I did a passable job in conveying how much I unconditionally love them."

Andy gave a soft grin before adding her opinion. "At the risk of sounding cliché; maybe your love is all that really mattered. Someone like Patty Hewes seems rather afflicted with the ability or lack thereof to show that emotion." She paused, her grin turning a tad wicked. "Although, Ellen has sworn to me that Patty has a kinky-romantic streak a mile long."

"Well we never really know someone do we?" Miranda leaned over to sip her Mojito that Andréa insisted on making as a Vacation Kick-Off, she believed Andréa christened it.

"Hey, didn't you have lunch or drinks with Patty a couple of times?" Andy seemed to recall a fewer-than-usual conversations about Patty Hewes since that Runway photo-spread featuring the premiere female attorneys of New York.

Miranda enjoyed the bite of mint and rum before answering. "As a matter of fact, yes I have. We've… discovered more than few common interests." She chuckled remembering an urgent phone call from her attorney. "Naturally this has caused considerable unease with my attorney. Apparently he's worried I'll jump ship."

"In fact, you may be getting a phone call tonight from your friend Ellen – whom I have yet to meet by the way, regarding an impending vacation of their own."

Andy frowned. "Really? How do you know? Wh—," Then Miranda's cryptic statement started to make sense. Andy's frowned turned into a look of surprise. "Wait a minute. Are you saying they might be joining us on our vacation???"

"Well it turns out that the villa I own is significantly larger than our needs. It's usually suitable for me and the Girls, but in this instance, she mentioned an urgent need to get away and I offered."

Which is how they found themselves a month later, staring at each other across an open, airy, lobby sipping rum punches, at the Grace Bay Club in Turks and Caicos. Once the surprised pleasure wore off, Ellen and Andy quickly met up in a hug and laughter, while their more reserved lovers shared a smirk over the rim of their drinks.

"Well aren't you a sight for sore eyes. When did you get in?" Ellen took a look at the beginnings of the burnished, sun-kissed look staining Andy's body. She wore a sarong and a bikini top, bee-stung lips grinning, her hair loose, and flowing down her back. Once again, Ellen thought that if circumstances were different she might have tried to take Andy for a "ride" long ago. "You look amazing! Looks like this is just what the doctor ordered." Hooking her arm into Andy's she directed her towards Patty. "Patty, this is Andy. Andy – Patty."

Andy took in the stylish blonde hair, piercing icy blue eyes – lighter than Miranda's yet… heavy, as if they held deep, dark secrets and pain. The strong jaw, broad shoulders encased in a white linen jacket to match her linen slacks, she emanated a very self-contained power that shouldered all those hidden emotions. Andy could see Ellen's attraction to Patty; she thought with some humor.

Andy's hand was warmly encased in Patty's strong grip. "I think it goes without saying that Ellen speaks highly of you. Of course that little phone call where you threatened a certain part of my anatomy in the event I hurt Ellen was… endearing and memorable." She suddenly smiled widely. "I couldn't wait to meet you." Andy was then enfolded into a hug with New York's most fearsome litigation attorney.

A chuckle near her shoulder and a familiar scent signaled Miranda's approach. "I did you warn you Patty that our respective lovers were a bit headstrong, unable to take 'direction' from us." An amused snort from Patty erupted at this dubious declaration.

Miranda leaned over to lay chaste kiss against Patty's cheek, "Welcome. I trust my 'Emily' was able to provide a smooth traveling experience?"

Ellen joined in the conversation at that point, sliding an arm around Patty's waist. "Yes, Miranda. Your long-suffering assistant was as efficient and competent as ever." Andy and Patty chuckled, while Miranda simply rolled her eyes and smirked.

"Well, it took me long enough to break her in." she gave a mock sigh. "honestly she doesn't quite measure up to the Emily but she's done adequately enough. It is so tiresome to once again, to have to train another 'Emily. Frankly I'm not sure I've survived since I promoted Emily.'"

Andy curled a hand around Miranda's neck and pulled her in for a quick kiss. "Aahhh, sweetie. You do know that it was long overdue and you did get rewarded quite handsomely for promoting her."

"Very well." Miranda rolled her eyes before she returned her attention to their guests. "Ready for your vacation?"

Patty and Ellen shared a tender look before Ellen responded. "I think we've been ready a month ago. Lead the way."

Which is how Andy found herself lying in the beautiful, four-poster bed, with the island breeze flowing through their room, after spending the morning sea-kayaking with Miranda, they'd work up quite an appetite by the time they returned to shore. Hunger for food wasn't the only appetite they'd worked up.

Earlier that Day..

Ellen and Patty were nowhere to be found when they reached the shore. They were told by their pool-side concierge that they had already returned to the villa. The sounds of Duke Ellington filtered through the air, muffling the sounds of love-making coming from Patty and Ellen's bedroom suite. The ambiance, the locale, the invigorating ocean water, the amazing scenery, and mostly Miranda, with her beautiful, sun-kissed skin, voluptuous, firm, body encased in a tasteful Tommy Bahama two-piece swimsuit, with a white Donna Karan white hoody cover. Showcasing those gorgeous full-breasts, long, shapely, legs, her stomach, compliments of hours of cardio and Tai-Chi was firm and muscular, and her ass was filling out her boy-shorts very nicely. Miranda has already fended off many attempts by Andy's wandering hands on several occasions.

However, Miranda's reaction towards Andy's attire: the La Blanca by Rod Beattie's two-piece, string bikini almost made her teeth ache with the need to bite down on one of those strings to unleash Andréa's beloved 'assets.' Soon they too found themselves naked, lips locked together, legs trembling as they simultaneously fingered each other, fingers plunging deep inside, hot, wet, channels, worrying the slightly rough patch of skin inside, while their thumbs stroked their quivering nubs of flesh located among the equally soaked nest of curls. They stood under luke-warm water, raining down on them from their huge, porn-movie-like shower. Their mouths swallowed their moans and whimpered cries as they raced towards their peaks.

Following that Andy found herself on her back, with one arm propped up so she could watch Miranda's tongue and lips nibbling, suckling, french-kissing her clenching hole, that soaked Miranda's lips and chin with girl-cum, while her other hand wove her fingers through Miranda's silvery, wet, locks. Meanwhile her piercing blue eyes, heavy-lidded, greedily watched Andy writhe and twist and shudder to the tune set by Miranda's mouth. Miranda's one fingers had trailed up Andy's stomach, stopped to cup and fondle a full, sensitive, breast, capped with achingly-tight nipple, before ending on that tightened nub, to squeeze, twist, and pull the taut hardness. The sensation seemed to instantly worm itself down into her cunt, seemingly adding to the pool of wetness on the bed and smear all over her lover's face, while adding to the already intense pressure spreading throughout her core and throbbing clit. Andy closed her eyes loosing herself to Miranda's tender mercies.

Andy reached her peak sooner than she anticipated, taking her by surprise, unleashing a short scream, and an appreciative moan from Miranda, as she swallowed down her nectar. Following a few moments of blissful after-shocks and Miranda nibbling, kissing, her way up Andy's body, stopping to lick around her still aching areolas, and sucking her tightened nipples, Andy felt slightly sated. Finally she made her way up Andy's neck, licking the sweat dewing on her skin, before she soon found Andy's, swollen, deliciously stinging lips.

Andy pressed her lips to Miranda's, running her tongue along her entrance before dipping inside, and then pausing briefly to compliment her lover. "That was wonderful Miranda." she kissed her again, swirling her tongue inside deeper, tasting her own juices, feeling Miranda wet heat smear along her thigh, her hips gently working against Andy's thighs, reminding Andy of her own need.

Soon Miranda found herself on her back, quickly turned over by Andréa. "But I believe it's my turn now." And with that she soon had Miranda writhing, pleading with her, fingers pressed hard against Andy's shoulders. Andy was too busy taking languorous licks all over Miranda's glorious breasts, avoiding her clearly rock-hard nipples. Her hand had trailed down Miranda's lightly-muscled stomach, into the thatch of silvery, manicured, wet, curls.

"Andréa, please!" Miranda hips churned, desperate for the feel of her fingers, tongue, anything. The tension had become almost unbearable.

At that point Andy suckled an aching nipple deep, swirling her tongue around the tip, eliciting incoherent cries from her lover, before she paused. "Shhh, don't worry sweetie, I'll take care of you."

She then slid her fingers along Miranda's soaked slit, before bringing her fingers back to the swollen to nearly purplish-red hue, clit. Andy lightly swirled her finger around the nub causing Miranda's hip to jerk and churn more vigorously. Andy watched as Miranda's head moved back and forth along the bed, her breasts heaving, her entire body undulating under Andy's onslaught. It was a wonderfully beautiful sight and Andy couldn't get enough of it.

So while keep her thumb on Miranda's swollen clit, slowly, methodically, circling around the swollen, pulsating, appendage, while her index and middle fingers slid inside her throbbing center. Her hot, slick, tight, cunt, snuggled around her fingers. Plunging them deep, twisting, turning, rubbing, drawing cries, she was so wet, that Andy knew she needed another finger. At the next insertion she carefully added a third.

"Yes, oh god, right there, Andréa!"

When Andy slid her fingers inside again, they brushed across Miranda's g-spot causing a deep moan to erupt from her. She did it again and again, all the while brushing her thumb against Miranda's trembling clit. Andy could tell she was getting close, Miranda's honey-walls began pulsating more, especially each time her fingers plunged deep, rubbing against the slightly rougher area inside her.

Suddenly Miranda stilled, trembling, but Andy thrusted even harder, deeper, because she knew Miranda was getting ready to cum.

"Andréa… Andréa! I- I'm cumming!!!" Contractions started deep inside Miranda, her swollen nub grew very firm before it frantically throbbed, signaling a glorious 'finish' for her, her juices splashing around her hand, soaking the bed underneath. Andy couldn't wait to lap up her nectar. In the meantime, she kept plunging and rubbing Miranda through her orgasm, before the grip on her fingers loosened, and the throbbing was more sporadic. She was getting ready to gently remove her fingers, before Miranda's fingers quickly reached down holding her hand in place.

"Don't move. Stay." Miranda panted through too-dry mouth.

Andy was nuzzling her neck and jaw, soothing the Dragon as it were, before bringing her lips to Miranda's.

"Ok." Andy answered and then leaned down to gently kiss her beloved's lips. Looking at her flushed skin, the sated, content, look, her trademark silver mane, tousled sexily, those thick, dark lashes, lying against her sun-kissed cheeks, and Andy knew she wanted to spend as much of her life as possible with this woman. The urge to communicate this realization to her suddenly became strong.

"Marry me, Miranda."

And those gorgeous sapphire-blue eyes flew open in surprise. "What? Andrea?"

Suddenly Andy became a little nervous: What if Miranda's not interested? What if she doesn't… love her the way Andy loves Miranda? What if she was 'through' with the idea of marriage? Not realizing that her eyes had lowered for a moment until gentle fingers brought her chin up to look into tender eyes.

"Ask me again Andréa."

"Wh-what? Are you—I mean are you sure?"

"Ask me again darling."

With her heart in her throat, the realization that this moment is happening, but knowing with absolute certainty that this is what she wants, she starts to calm down. She slowly leaned down to gently but firmly kiss Miranda's swollen lips, and then stopped to stare deeply into those sapphire-blues, communicating everything she was feeling, before taking the plunge.

"Will you, Miranda Priestly, marry me?"

Miranda leaned up for another kiss before giving her decision, which she knew with certainty that she wanted this woman by her side for the rest of her life. The thought that she'd almost lost her due to her fear and neglect was something she never wanted to experience again. Her daughters loved Andréa and while Andréa's parents certainly weren't thrilled, in fact, her father had a few choice words for Miranda when they first found out, they reluctantly tolerated their relationship. Miranda's own parents lived in the Hamptons year round now, having moved from their home in Weston, Connecticut, while very surprised for the obvious reasons, they too adored Andréa.

As for the public: rumor-rags and Page 6 were just getting started before they escaped for vacation. Both knew they were going to have to 'face the music' upon their return. They will be more than prepared, of that Miranda will make sure. After all she had this astonishing woman that loved her.

"Yes Andréa." Miranda suddenly found herself peppered with kisses and squeals of happiness.

"I'm looking forward to telling Ellen. She was sure she was going to get a ring on Patty's finger before me."

The rest of the afternoon was spent sharing in tender touches and kisses, making plans, Andy called Caroline and Cassidy to share the news. Their screams of happiness and congratulations were still ringing in their ears. With promises to enjoy a good bottle of champagne with Ellen and Patty this evening they finally fell asleep, the range of emotions and activities making them very sleepy.

Miranda had woken first, stretching the kinks out, luxuriating in being lazy and content. Looking over at her lover, most people would be surprised at the look of absolute tenderness and love emanating from her face as she looked at Andréa. She wanted to wake her up for more lovemaking, but she remembered that the resort had a jewelry store.

Following that train of thought, she leaned over and gently kissed Andréa's brow, not wanting to wake her, before heading to the bathroom. She had an important errand to run; she wondered if she'd be able to find what she was looking for.

Later, Ellen was busy doing rum shots with the elegant Miranda Priestly. As the liquor burned its way down her throat, she languidly looked over her companion. The sun-kissed skin beautifully off-set the startlingly white, silvery hair and those gorgeous blue eyes that were vaguely similar to Patty's.

"Are you enjoying yourself Ellen?" She watched Andréa's friend as she sipped more slowly on the never-ending rum punch.

"I'm thoroughly having the time of my life. As I suspect you and Andréa are." She finished with a small grin before her expression turned a little more solemn. "Patty… has had a very difficult time lately. Yes, the stolen money from the Tobins was retrieved, but like so many of Patty's cases, it's taken a great deal from her in return. From both of us actually. Losing Tom has been really, really, hard. So your offer for a quick get-away was a godsend." She leaned over and gave a Miranda a somewhat chaste kiss. "And while Patty hasn't said it, your friendship has become important to her. Thank you… for everything. "

Ellen watched with some amusement as Miranda's cheek stained pink, uncomfortable with emotional moments with anyone other than her daughters or Andréa. However, that doesn't seem to matter with Ellen, Miranda thought with some fond exasperation. "Oh for heaven's sake, I did what anyone would have done in my position. Enough of that—I'd rather do shots then to have another…" she delicately shivered, "moment."

Miranda shifted in her seat before crossing her legs, involuntarily drawing Ellen's eyes to her shapely calves. "Wow, Miranda, those are some legs. Andy must be pretty appreciative." A cheeky grin followed that statement.

"You seem to have no self-preservation around me. Frankly, I have no idea where Andréa finds her friends; between you, Douglas, and Lily, and your dreadful Knicks' game nights, it's a wonder I haven't broken out with Birkenstocks on my feet as a result." She ended her playful tirade with a smirk.

"Birkenstocks, really?! No need to be drama-queen or threaten Andy." Ellen laughed. "Well, we have your Knicks jersey waiting for you whenever you or Patty decide to 'live a little.'"

"Yes, I can see it now: Miranda Priestly splashed yet again on Page 6 wearing a Knicks jersey, Bill Blass slacks, and Louboutins." She signaled the bartender for another round. "Besides, the Knicks have been dreadful for years, consisting of incompetent players and management. Why on earth would I be interested in such ineptitude? I certainly saw enough of that at Runway."

"But that's part of the charm. We get to heckle and moan and joke ensuring a good time, since we have zero expectations" Chuckling, Ellen was enjoying their banter. But then her eyes warmed even more as she took in their approaching lovers. Andy look stunning, her skin almost swarthy, hair streaked with light, red-highlights from the sun. Like Ellen she wore a sundress; Andy was wearing a beautiful Trina Turk halter dress, she looked stunning. And judging by the heat that exploded out of Miranda's eyes, she thought so too. Patty looked wonderful… and yummy.

She wore a pair of Ralph Lauren pale pink linen trousers and darker-pink checkered linen shirt. Her blonde hair seemed almost white because of the sun, along with her sun-kissed, lightly freckled skin, and gorgeous baby-blues, it was all Ellen could do to not squirm in her seat.

Ellen's eyes grew slightly heavy as she remembered their earlier love-making.

Ellen found herself on all fours, white-knuckled, clenching the tangled sheets beneath her. Dark-red hair tousled and spilling across the bed, while a hand firmly gripped some strands to add leverage to the thrusting hips as it plunged the wet, glistening, toy inside Ellen's slit.

They faced the open veranda and beautiful aqua-colored sea with sunlight and warm, ocean breeze brushing along their sweaty skin. Patty's breasts pressed into Ellen's back, her nipples dragging along her skin as she brought Ellen closer to lustful completion.

Patty's hips, swiveled, rolled, and thrusted inside the clenching channel. Ellen was so wet that she could feel her juices splash around Patty's 'girl-cock' as she plunged it inside her, more juices dribbled down along her thighs and onto the sheets.

To add to the sensation was Patty nuzzling, nibbling, suckling, and biting along Ellen's shoulder, up along her neck, while whispering dirty, loving, sometimes sweet, things into ear. Patty's other arm was wrapped tight around Ellen, her fingers sliding along her slit, spreading the wetness along the swollen, pink flesh, before firmly rubbing along Ellen's pulsating nub.

Their breathing grew increasingly harsh, mingling with Ellen's cries of pleasure, pleas, and whimpered-moans of ecstasy. Patty was no less quiet. After Ellen spent long moments before pleasuring her lover with her mouth, Patty's taste still strong along her tongue and lips, her scent still smeared along her lips, Patty returned the favor by declaring her intent.

"I plan to fuck you Ellen. Plunge that toy deep inside so that you can still feel me long after I've made you cum. Would you like that, my love?"

Ellen could only whimper and nod, the lust so thick in her throat that she could barely speak. And she did, slowly, deliberately, building the tension until it became almost unbearable, and then adding to it. Patty leaned over even more her hand bringing Ellen's around enough connect with Patty's lips, immediately bringing them into a deep kiss, pulling small incoherent noises from Ellen's throat. Like a thunderstorm gaining power, as they kissed, as Patty ruthlessly worked her 'girl-cock' into Ellen's hole, ignoring her pleas to go faster, with eyes clenched in pleasure, Ellen could almost see the powerful orgasm from a distanc.

But Ellen wanted to face Patty. So Ellen gently removed the hand working on her clit as Patty lifted her mouth for some much-needed air and surprise, Ellen gently motioned Patty to move back. With a frown, Patty stopped.

"I want to cum while facing you. Sit up against the headboard. I'm going to take us for a 'ride.'" Ellen panted out because she was very close to cumming already. However, she watched with some amusement as Patty gently, but quickly removed 'herself' from Ellen's body and on quivering legs moved towards the headboard, but not without a quick spank on Ellen's delectable ass.

"You're lucky I took my vitamins, otherwise all this 'activity' would leave me spent.'" She settled against the headboard, her dildo standing-at-attention, glistening with Ellen's juices. Her blonde hair lay against her head, sweaty and tousled. Sweat gleamed along her flushed skin, muscles quivering, standing out in relief. Those light-blue eyes, hooded, seductive, possessive, taking in Ellen's ravaged body. In a word, Sexy, Ellen thought.

Quickly she swung her body over and slowly slid her hands up Patty's legs, eliciting a mewl from her lover. Fire erupted along Patty's skin as Ellen slid her warm palms up her thighs, and her lips and tongue followed suit. Suddenly she couldn't wait and while most of her life she spends a great deal of time being methodical and measured due to a slow-moving legal system, she never felt a stronger urge to quicken things. But the legal system had nothing on Ellen's scorching touch.

With her chest heaving, Patty leaned forward and cupped her hands along Ellen's arms to pull her up. "Get up here! You should already be sinking onto me."

But Ellen needed a 'taste.' She stopped at the apex of Patty's thighs, lapping up Patty's juices as she went, driving Patty's lust even higher. She paused, inhaling Patty's scent, Ellen dabbled in tongue along her swollen folds, around the part of the dildo nestled inside her lover, and Patty's clit lay quivering and red. She brought her hand up and wrapped it around the dildo.

"One moment, sweetie, I just want to reward you for working sooo hard." She said hoarsely, her eyes twinkling with lustful amusement.

And with that Ellen's mouth surrounded Patty's clit as her hand tugged and pulled her the dildo, causing Patty's body to jerk, while a "Fuck!" was shouted around the room from Patty's lips. Her tongue and lips lashed the nub in her mouth, while her hand continued to plunge the dildo in and out of Patty's cunt. Her other hand attempted to hold her lover's churning hips in place and finally when she felt Patty's clit harden further, indicating her impending orgasm she pulled off, quickly moved up, bringing her legs on either side of Patty's lips, lifted up until her dripping hole hovered over Patty's girl-cock. As her lover opened her mouth to protest, Ellen crashed her lips down onto Patty's while sinking down onto the dildo causing a deep moan to erupt from Ellen's chest. Ellen's hands paused to briefly cup her lover's full, surprisingly firm breasts, tweaking and rolling her impossibly hard nipples, before her arms went around Patty's smooth, sun-kissed shoulders. They kissed deeply and wetly, all the while Ellen rolled and pressed, and lifted up and down, meeting Patty's upward thrusts, the muscles in their thighs slightly burning, plunging the toy deep inside, shifting it inside Patty.

Lifting her mouth from Patty's, she greedily listened to the frantic noises escaping her lover's lips. Leaning down, just pressing her lips against swollen lips, she hoarsely whispered, "I love you."

At that moment those baby-blues opened, staring deeply, lovingly, into Ellen's golden-brown eyes, before Ellen's head snapped back, the orgasm stealing over her, filling her veins, she felt Patty's lips and tongue suckling along her jaw and neck, as Ellen's walls contracted wildly around the dildo,. Which is exactly the right effect: Patty's arms involuntarily tightened around her waist, her hands cupping Ellen's bottom dug into the fleshy globes, as her hole pulsated and throbbed uncontrollably around her end of the dildo, her honeyed nectar spilling out and down Patty's thighs.

Both women pressed and grinded their through their peaks, before coming to a rest, still throbbing, pulsating. Ellen spent, still felt the after-shocks, peppered kisses along Patty's sweaty jaw, the sweat along their breasts allowed them to slide deliciously against each other. Meanwhile, Patty nuzzled along Ellen's neck before her head fell back to lean against the head-board, her limbs felt like they'd been soaked in warm honey, but she didn't want Ellen to move just yet. Taking in her lover's utterly ravaged, yet sated expression, barely restrained her from feeling a tad bit smug.

However, from the eyebrow that lifted on Ellen's face, she didn't appear to be successful. "Do you think you can try to not look so smug?"

Patty could only chuckle. "Hmmm, let me mull it over." Mockingly shaking her head she answered. "Nope, I'm too busy reveling in the thought that only I can do this to you." Patty's baby-blues suddenly turned tender. She lifted a hand, tucking Ellen's sweaty locks behind her ear, before gently caressing her fingers along Ellen's jaw. She brought her head forward for sweet, tender, kiss, on Ellen's swollen lips.

"Have I told you how much you've come to mean to me?" Patty asked.

Kissing Patty one more time, before she snuggled into Patty's neck, she answered. "Many times. Besides, who else would save you from yourself?" she questioned semi-cheekily.

With a snort, Patty's other hand lightly swatted Ellen's ass. "Perhaps you're right. But right now, why don't we further debate this in the huge sunken tub and then we can take a quick nap on the veranda?"

"Mmmm, that sounds perfect. Why we should probably call housekeeping to change the sheets and perhaps freshen the room. I mean what would Andy and Miranda think if they came in here?" she could barely hold the laughter back--- after all, Miranda and Andy made plenty of noise themselves.


"Miranda you might want to order more drinks since our lagging lovers are finally joining us, right after we've picked our tongues up off the floor." She watched with some affection as the fashionista's cheeks slightly pinken. "Don't worry I worry I won't tell our lovers that we weren't anything but extra cool."

Miranda with her eyes still on her approaching lover, cleared her throat slightly, as she took another sip of her drink. She turned to the bartender to order drinks for their lovers. She lifted a silvery brow in Ellen's direction, briefly drawing her attention. "Does Patty have a preference for drinks during her vacation or is it her usual Johnny Walker Blue?"

"Hmmm, no. Patty's been trying to… step out of her comfort zone during her stay here." She briefly chucked at a thought. "Plus I don't think she can get enough of these yummy rum punches."

Arms sliding around Miranda's mid-section and a gorgeous cologne caressed her nostrils signaling that their lovers finally reached them. The perfume had a special connotation for Miranda. During her last trip to Paris they took a mini-vacation to Nice after Fashion Week, where they visited one of the famous perfumeries. Little did she know that Andréa had the same idea as her; they secretly had a special, unique, blend prepared for the other. It was one of the most thoughtful things anyone had ever done for Miranda.

Full lips pressed into her neckline as she turned around with Andréa's and Patty's drinks. Quickly stealing a kiss from Andréa she handed Patty her drink, while Andréa plucked hers from Miranda's hand. "Hello darling. Did you have a good rest?"

Making an appreciative noise after she took a sip Andy grinned. "I had a spectacular nap." She slightly pouted. "But it definitely would've been even more awesome if a certain someone would have been there to kiss me awake." Andy leaned in again to steal another kiss before Miranda could answer. "But it was worth it seeing your reaction to my new sundress." She stepped back, spreading her arms wide. With a seductive purr she asked, "You like?"

"I certainly do." Ellen's amused tone answered before Miranda.

"I have to agree with Ellen." Patty languidly followed.

"That's quite enough from the both of you." She paused as she did her trademark perusal of both their companions. Patty stood, propping her foot on Ellen's stool , Ellen was busy nibbling on a piece of guava, her hand curled around Patty's waist.

"I was sure you'd both show up in some drab lawyer garb. I'm glad to see my influence has had some effect." Miranda nibbled on a piece of pineapple, hiding her grin.

"Yes, Miranda, whatever would we do without you?" Patty asked with mocking amusement.

Miranda gave a fake long-suffering sigh. "Such is my lot in life, instilling a proper sense of style… even in attorneys."

They were interrupted from their banter by the bartender. He set four shots of the Island's special-made rum. With his musical patois he explained the drinks that appeared before the four women. "Compliments of your concierge, Marcus. Enjoy!" he grinned.

Miranda looked at the more than likely potent orange-colored rum with some mild consternation. Andy chuckled at her expression, while Patty and Ellen lined up their drinks in preparation for the throw-back. Patty lifted her glass, the others followed suit. "I guess this is as good a time as any. To my retirement from litigation and most importantly to being lucky enough to of found our way to each other."

"Bravo Patricia." Miranda responded and then they all threw back their fiery shots.

Andrea cleared her throat, signaled to the bartender, and looked towards her friends after a nod from Miranda. "Ummm, we have an announcement to make."

Miranda stood up, discretely reached into her pocket and withdrew a velvet black box.

"Oh my god! " exclaimed Ellen, there's usually one thing people say in this setting, combined with those words, complete with that look in Andy and Miranda's eyes.

"Yes, Miranda has agreed to become my wife. I asked her this afternoon." Andy was beaming.

Four flutes were placed in front of them along with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame 1998, while congratulatory hugs and kisses between the friends carried on. The bartender quickly and efficiently popped the cork and filled the glasses. Miranda, quickly and discreetly dropped the ring inside Andréa's flute.

Miranda handed Andréa's her special glass, then proceeded to pass out the rest to Ellen and Patty.

After another toast, this time congratulating the couple, they all took a healthy swallow, with Miranda keeping a watchful eye on Andréa. It wouldn't do for her to choke on her engagement ring, thought Miranda.

Patty watched her friends and lover with a warm glow and thought how lucky she was to of been given what feels like a second chance. Because that is exactly what it feels like; after the culmination her disastrous personal life with her son, her ex-Husband, the death of Tom, the lies, the loneliness, she'd been dying inside a little bit each day. Like a wound that'd been festering, recognizing her…. connection to Ellen essentially 'lanced' that wound.

Feeling someone's eyes on her, drawing her out of her reflective mood, Ellen was staring at her with a loving gaze. She stepped closer to Patty.

"You ok?"

"Absolutely, love. I was just thinking how far I've come." Tugging Ellen closer, laying a gentle kiss on her lips. "And it's mostly because of you."

Ellen looped her arms around her neck, as Patty's arms tightened around Ellen's waist. "I'm not sure about that. I simply gave you a choice. You decided to take the 'winning one.'"

A squeal interrupted their 'moment.' They quickly looked over to see that Andy had a beautiful ring in her hand. Andy quickly told them where it came from.

Patty smirked. "Really Miranda, I'm surprised you didn't have it delivered via a submarine or something."

With a trademark lift of a silvery brow Miranda responded. "Well, sometimes a cliché is all that's warranted."

The End

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