DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To qhfletcher[at]gmail.com
What Happens in Vegas...Can Follow You Home
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
Delicate eyelids flickered as sleep slowly released Miranda Priestly. The first rays of sunlight touched her face with warmth barely equal to that at her back. She luxuriated in the feeling of comfort, in the softness of the bed beneath her, the slight ache in her muscles that spoke of a night well spent and the press of the body against her back.
The pleasant haze vanished as her eyes shot open. Ache? Body? What the f-? Miranda froze, both at the pain that shot through her head at the sudden infusion of light into bleary eyes, hangover, how lovely, and the realization that she was not alone in her bed. Her eyes moved frantically for a moment taking in the surroundings. Not her bedroom, then where was Vegas! She was in Las Vegas. For the Westwood shoot. In her suite. All right, that made sense but who-. A frown creased the porcelain brow. It was morning. There should be a tickle of hair at her shoulder blades and a nudging at her buttocks, but the sensations were exactly opposite and the nudge came in stereo, one for each shoulder blade, and the tickle was located much lower as well. A woman. There was a naked woman at her back. Who?
Some showgirl or other random person she had met last night? She rolled her eyes sending another streak of pain through her belabored brain. She closed her eyelids with a wince and tried to reason calmly. Even in her twenties during the heyday of New York's club scene, she had never taken home a stranger whom she had just met, no matter how inebriated she had become. Therefore, it seemed doubtful she would do so now, so this must be someone she knew. One of the models? No, she would not put her professional life so at risk for some frivolous physical release.
No, it would have to be someone she was familiar with. Emily? She pushed the thought away almost as soon as it entered her mind. Her first assistant was much too similar to her La Priestly persona to ever find the woman attractive. Serena, then. The Brazilian was arguably the most gorgeous woman at Runway if one followed the guidelines glorified by the magazine; however, there was one Miranda, personally, found to be even more beautiful. While Serena was a possibility, the soft lushness pressed to her upper back quickly ruled her out as well. For all her beauty, Serena was not so well endowed. That left only one woman in her entourage who might possibly be currently cuddled familiarly at her back.
Miranda groaned softly and turned her head into the pillow on which she rested. The probable identity of her bedmate both thrilled and terrified her. Andréa. The gods could not be so cruel, but, then again, she supposed they could. Why else would she awaken, hung over and skin to skin with the woman who haunted her dreams, only to have no remembrance of the events which had led to neither this moment nor, more importantly, what had occurred when they initially achieved this state? She finally had the girl she secretly obsessed over but without any knowledge of what it had been like.
Drawing her left hand from under the pillow where it had rested since she awoke, Miranda rubbed it over her face only then noticing the slim platinum band that graced her ring finger. Eyelids opening to an extent that a vague worry of their being able to contain her eyeballs skidded across her mind, she stared at her own hand turning it slowly back to front. Married?!? This could not mean what she thought it did. She'd gotten married?! To whom? Not to oh, it wasn't possible. Was it? It was simply too clichéd to be possible. There was no way she, Miranda Priestly, had gotten drunk and married in Vegas! Nope uh uh not possible no way. Her normally pristine grammar fled in the face of the horrible possibility.
But would it be so horrible? She couldn't help but think. To be married to Andréa. To awaken this way every morning, sans headache, of course. To have the sweet, loving, wonderful young woman to come home to every night. To slip into bed next to that voluptuous naked body. Miranda's heart began to thump at an ever increasing rate as her mind turned to what might happen in a bed she shared with Andréa. Stop that! She admonished herself, taking a slow cleansing breath. At that moment, her bed mate flexed in her sleep pressing tighter against her back and Miranda reacted without thought, tossing back the sheet and sliding to the floor.
She sat beside the bed and stared back at the place she had just lay so comfortably. It was indeed Andréa, sound asleep, her face angelic as it rested on the pillow beneath her head. Miranda's eyes dropped lower to what had been exposed by her tossing of the sheet and all thoughts of innocence fled. Oh, sweet heaven. Had she really had her hands on that last night? And couldn't remember it now? Cursed, I am literally cursed, she thought, mouth moving from dry to Sahara in seconds. I need a drink! Of water. Right, water.
Rising, she stumbled into the bathroom, reaching for the nearest glass. She filled and emptied it twice before staring at herself in the mirror. She saw tousled white hair, red rimmed eyes and the vaguely smug expression of a woman well satisfied. Reaching to rub at irritated eyes with the opposite hand this time, she caught a whiff of something on her fingers. The smell immediately making her mouth water. Andréa. This is what her arousal smells like. Instinct brought the fingers to her lips before she realized what she was going. Miranda stilled, fingers barely touching her lower lip. What was she doing? She couldn't, could she? Realizing she might not otherwise know, she pressed the fingers between her lips, sliding them deep into her mouth, tongue bathing them. Miranda hummed happily deep in her throat. She's exquisite. With a start, she realized what she was doing and hastily began to wash her hands. Coffee. She would order coffee and then shower.
Shrugging into her robe, she hurried through the bedroom and into the living room not daring to glance again at the bed and its occupant. Reaching for the phone, she noticed the room service menu beside it. She should order breakfast. Unlike the rest of the women at Runway, Andréa actually ate. She'd be hungry when she woke. Grabbing her glasses from a nearby table and offering a silent prayer of thanks that while her hangover headaches could be extreme a glass of water usually cleared them quickly and they never affected her stomach, Miranda flipped through the menu. What kinds of things would Andréa like? Eggs. Eggs were good, unless Andréa had an allergy to them. Maybe she better order something else as well. Pancakes. Everyone liked pancakes. Okay, so eggs and pancakes. What else? Miranda ran a finger down the list. Bacon? Sausage? Why didn't she know these things about her Andréa? Making up her mind that she would just have to learn them, Miranda picked up the phone and placed her order.
She, then, took a quick shower, made sure the bedroom door was pulled closed and, dressed again in her gray bathrobe, was ready to answer the door when the food arrived. She directed the young woman where to set up the table and after signing for their breakfast and adding a large tip, poured herself a cup of steaming coffee. She carried the cup over to the couch and sat down to wait for Andréa to awaken. It was then she noticed the folded piece of heavy white paper on the coffee table. Not remembering having placed it there, she picked it up and slipping on her glasses, perused it. Her breath caught with a gasp as she realized she was holding their marriage license. Miranda Elizabeth Priestly and Andréa Danielle Sachs were united in Holy Matrimony. Andréa's middle name was Danielle. How lovely. The name suited her.
Miranda frowned. She had thought Nevada was a Domestic Partnership state, but this was clearly a marriage license. A quick glance revealed that Nigel and Serena had signed as witnesses. Where had Emily been?
A sound from the bedroom made Miranda look up and she was suddenly glad her coffee was sitting safely on the table before her. Andréa, her wife, stood in the doorway wrapped in only a sheet, looking tousled, sleepy and well loved. Miranda swallowed against a suddenly tight throat.
"Hi," Andy said, her tone soft and breathy. Large brown eyes showed a mixture of apprehension, fear and something else Miranda couldn't quite place.
"Good morning," Miranda offered, her voice gentle. "There's coffee and I ordered you some breakfast." She gestured to where the table was set up.
Andy glanced at it and then back to Miranda.
"Did we ?" Andy started to ask and then clearly thought better of it.
Miranda could almost read her thoughts. No one asked Miranda anything, even if you had just woken up naked in her bed. Miranda's lips took a wry twist. "Yes, I believe we did. And," she waved the paper she held, "it appears we're married as well."
"Married!?" Andy exclaimed. "We. You and me. Us. Married? Can we even be married in this state?"
Miranda stifled the urge to smile. Okay, the whole 'you can't ask Miranda anything' concept had totally flown out the window. But then how often did one find oneself waking up married to Miranda Priestly? "Really, Andréa, you act as if you've encountered the proverbial fate worse than death. There are worse things than being married to me, you know?" Miranda sniffed.
Andréa looked at her in surprise. Miranda knew she hadn't hidden her hurt at Andréa's reaction to their possible marriage, but honestly, would being married to her be so terrible? The way Andréa dropped into the chair on the other side of the table quite suddenly indicated that it was, nor was her new wife aware that the sheet she was wrapped had parted to expose one long leg from ankle to waist. Miranda was unable to tear her eyes from that long expanse of flesh. Andréa had exquisite skin.
Miranda found herself straining to remember what it had felt like to have it against her own, under her hands, her lips. She would never drink that much again. To be deprived of the one memory she would give almost anything to recall was abhorrent to her. Andréa, however, was obviously appalled by the idea of what had happened so the sooner this all ended the better. She reached for her coffee with a hand that only trembled slightly. She grimaced at how cold it had become and rose to pour a fresh cup.
"Andréa, come eat your breakfast." Miranda settled in one chair and cut into her omelet not waiting to see if Andréa joined her.
Andy settled into the chair across from Miranda. Lifting the lid on not one but two plates, she stared in amazement at the variety of foods Miranda had ordered. "Are these all for me?" she questioned.
"Of course. I certainly won't be eating any of it," Miranda replied, clearly astounded that Andréa would even suggest such a thing. Her looked softened as she continued, "I didn't know what you liked, so I chose several standard breakfast items. I hope at least some of it meets with your approval."
Andy blinked back a rush of tears. The gesture was so incredibly sweet and so totally un-Miranda-like that she didn't know quite how to respond, though she made the attempt. "Being married to you would be a string of continual surprises."
Miranda opened and closed her mouth several times before finally speaking. "Would that be such a bad thing, Andréa? Being married to me. I realize I don't have the best record in that department, but it might be different."
Andy paused, the piece of sausage on her fork a scant inch from her lips. Instinct told her to step carefully. "Nooo, I suppose not. If the other person were in love with you, I'm sure it could be a wonderful experience. Assuming, of course, that you loved them back." Andy congratulated herself on dodging that particular bullet. Or maybe not, she thought as Miranda pursed her lips. Andy quickly stuck the sausage bit into her mouth to eliminate the ability to comment further. She smiled weakly at Miranda as she chewed slowly, very slowly.
"I have a number of calls to make," Miranda snapped and retrieving her cell, went into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
Sighing, Andy pushed her plates away, no longer even remotely hungry. Evidently we relate much better when at least one of us is drunk out of her mind. She really wished she could remember what had transpired the previous night, but all she got when she tried to recall the events were brief flashes of memory. What the hell does Elvis, teddy bears and gobs of cooked rice have to do with anything? she wondered. She rubbed her temples, the slight headache she'd woken with steadily worsening. If she thought for a moment that Miranda actually wanted any of this, Andy knew that she'd be all in for this marriage. Unfortunately, that was highly unlikely. Miranda Priestly was not the sort to marry her assistant, drunk or not.
Right now, Andy would kill for a shower and clean clothes, neither of which she was going to get with Miranda hold up in the bedroom. Nor could she walk back to her own room in a sheet, even if it did have an enormous thread count. Sighing, she curled up in a corner of the couch to wait and in moments, was asleep.
Miranda stalked back and forth as she hissed at her attorney.
"What do you mean breach of promise? I haven't promised anything!" she snarled.
"Miranda, going through with the marriage ceremony itself was a promise of sorts, even if it isn't legally binding. It can be argued that Andrea has an expectation of maintaining that type of relationship with you." Mark Graves replied in a calm tone.
"And how exactly does a twelve hour pseudo marriage relate to palimony?" Miranda was beginning to think he was the one who had had too much to drink, and had yet to sober up.
"Once again, expectations and intent, Miranda. While she in all probably wouldn't win such a suit, to avoid publicity you'd have to settle a sufficient amount on her to keep her silent on the matter. It could all get very expensive and very nasty. Keep the certificate in your possession and get back here to New York as soon as can be managed. It may be simpler to gain the cooperation of any witnesses, than to try to settle with Ms. Sachs. She really can't do much more than create a bit of smoke with no one to back up her story. For the moment, it might be best if you just go along with it all. If she's out to make a buck, she'll slip up soon enough," Mark advised.
"You don't know Andréa. She would never do such a thing," Miranda was adamant in her refusal to believe her Andréa to be capable of such a thing.
"Are you willing to bet several million dollars on that?" Mark cut to the core of the issue.
Miranda sighed. He did have a point with that. Was she willing to take that risk? This time yesterday she would have replied with a resounding yes, but then, why had Andréa agreed to marry her last night. There was no way a woman that young could love her, so there still remained the question of motive. A chance at easy money perhaps, or the opportunity to get back at Miranda for all the times she'd made Andréa's life miserable. Rubbing her eyes, she sighed again, deeper and more heartfelt. There was no way to know until she actually addressed the issue with Andréa. After assuring Mark she would return as soon as a flight could be arranged, Miranda disconnected. She next placed a call to Emily, giving her instructions in a rapid fire manner and ended the call before the other woman could reply. Now, she just needed to speak with Andréa and ascertain her intentions. Without letting Andréa know that was what she was doing, of course. Ok, subtlety. I can do subtlety. If I must.
With a sniff, Miranda opened the door and walking back into the seating area to confront Andréa subtly. It quickly became obvious that she might need to be just a hair move obvious as Andréa was sound asleep on the couch, that same leg on full display. Miranda found she was unable to tear her gaze from that silken, delicate flesh at the very top of Andréa's thigh. Was it as soft as it looked? How would it feel against her lips, her tongue? Was it possible to die of want from not tasting that small strip of heaven? Not following where it led, beneath the shadows of the sheet draped over her hips?
Miranda could not remember ever being quite so mesmerized by another woman's body, by anyone's body actually. Suddenly, she very much wanted their marriage to be real, to have the right to explore every inch of the delectable skin that was hidden from her view as well as what she could see, to kiss and tease Andréa into wakefulness and then spend the rest of the day making love to her wife. My wife. A phrase Miranda had never thought she'd utter in association with herself, but now one she dearly wanted to claim.
She sat on the edge of the couch watching Andréa sleep, the same angelic air Miranda had noticed before on her face. Miranda had worked with many beautiful women in her time, but never could she recall a more innocent face coupled to quite so sinful a body. With gentle fingers she brushed a strand of hair back that had been caught in those full lips.
"Andréa. Darling, you need to wake up." Miranda kept her voice low and gentle, less like the one she used in the office and more like how she sounded when talking to her children.
"M'randa," Andy murmured, more asleep than awake.
"Yes, Love, it's Miranda. I need to talk to you about a few things."
"Umkay. Wha'?" came the mumbled response.
Realizing that Andy was more talking in her sleep than actually carrying on the conversation with her, Miranda decided to take a risk.
"Why did you marry me, Andréa?"
A small frown marred the smooth brow before relaxing again. "You ask," Andy breathed.
"Because I asked?" Miranda questioned, not quite able to believe that Andréa had said yes just because she'd proposed.
"'Zu ma teda bur," Andy continued to mumble adding, "Sleep now." She gathered Miranda's hand and hugged it between her breasts and she turned her face into the cushion, slipping back into a deep sleep.
Miranda was left to puzzle out what Andy had meant. Zu ma teda bur? Whatever does that mean? Teda bur? Oh, teddy bear. So the rest would be you're my teddy bear? Miranda stared at the sleeping woman aghast. I have been called many things, but never someone's teddy bear. Grizzly, perhaps. Polar, undoubtedly, but never teddy. More confused than ever, Miranda tried to retrieve her hand only to find it held in an iron grip. Well, she could sit there half leaned over until she was released or her back seized in that position, or Sighing, Miranda turned and stretched out between the woman she found herself married to and the back of the couch, slipping her other arm under Andy's neck in order to hold her close enough for them both to fit on the couch. With the heat of her new sort-of-wife pressed along her length, Miranda was quickly asleep.
A brisk knocking on the door, stirred Andy from her dreams. For the second time that day, she awoke not quite sure of her location, though this time she was neither alone nor naked. Well, mostly not naked, though being partially wrapped in a sheet couldn't actually be described as dressed, especially when an extremely invasive hand had wormed its way well underneath the covering and now firmly clasp her right breast. A swift glance around confirmed her suspicions, for while she might not recognize the hand itself, there was no doubting the ownership of the gray sleeve or the white hair that brushed her cheek. Even now she could feel their owner's breath, hot and moist, on the back of her neck, a sensation that was having a decided effect far lower on her body. Ok, I'm lying on a couch with Miranda, who is copping a feel. What's wrong with this picture? EVERYTHING! Slowly the events of the morning came back to her. Oh, frickin' hell, I'm married to her! Miranda frickin' Priestly has unlimited feel copping privileges. This is just wrong on multiple levels.
The knock became more emphatic and Andy worried that it would wake Miranda. Specifically, she was worried about Miranda's reaction to waking up in their current position. Loosely she grasped Miranda's wrist and attempted to liberate her breast. An unhappy growl sounded behind her and Andy's eyes widened. Ok, Miranda doesn't like her toys taken away. Why doesn't that surprise me? She froze as the affronting hand released her breast and began to slip lower, fingers stroking absently as it moved, a happy murmur accompanying the sound. Oh, no, we're not going there! Though if the soreness in her groin was any indication, they'd already been there several times the night before. Before the marauding hand could find anywhere else to latch on, Andy slid from couch to floor. Unfortunately, the sheet stayed where it was, half under Miranda's body. Naked, Andy sprawled on the carpet and stared up into alert blue eyes that tracked slowly down the length of her before beginning the trip back up.
"So nice to see you again, Andréa," Miranda purred. "Did you sleep well?"
Andy tugged a loose end of the linen over her breasts. "There's someone at the door. Could I have the sheet so I can see who it is?" Andy asked, hoping Miranda wasn't going to be difficult.
"If you must," Miranda said, lifting her hip.
Andy pulled the sheet to her and wrapped it around her body as best she could. She peeked through the peephole. Groaning, she rested her head against the door. "It's Nigel."
"Do let him in, Andréa," Miranda directed as she moved over to the table and laid a hand on the side of the insulated carafe.
"Ummm, I should get dressed first," Andy hedged, not really wanting anyone to see her running around Miranda's suite in just the bed linens. Her heart sank as Miranda shot her a look before stalking into the bedroom. She returned moments later with a vivid blue silk robe that she tossed to Andy. Catching it, Andy slipped it on and belted it loosely until she could drop the sheet which she rolled up and stuffed in the small coat closet near the door. Knee length on Miranda, the hem hit Andy mid-thigh and displayed a long length of leg. Tightening the belt, Andy dragged her fingers through her hair to straighten it before opening the door.
"And how are the newlyweds this morning?" Nigel chirped as he strode in.
"You know about this?" Andy gasped.
"Of course," he said, patting Andy's shoulder as he passed. "I was your maid of honor. I would have preferred best man, but Miranda was insistent that Emily was better suited to that job."
Andy barked a laugh and was surprised to hear a soft chuckle issue from Miranda. "I can't really argue with that logic. Have a seat, Nigel. Maybe you can explain how all this happened. I'll call down for more coffee." She might pay for it later, but right now Andy needed caffeine and explanations. Miranda would just have to deal. Turning towards the phone, she was surprised to see Miranda already using it, evidently talking to room service. She strolled over to the table but their cold breakfast looked decidedly unappetizing, so turned away to join Nigel on the couch. "Are we really married, Nigel?"
Crossing his legs, Nigel leaned back and studied Andy for a moment. "I'm not entirely sure, Six. Nevada is a domestic partnership state. That usually requires residency and a waiting period."
"Then how do you explain this?" Miranda asked, waving the marriage license at him from her seat across from them.
"That's the not exactly sure part," he said.
"Nigel, could you be more cryptic?" Miranda snapped, glaring.
"Miranda, your connections have never ceased to amaze me. Last night was no exception." He rubbed his temples. "After Andy accepted your proposal, you made several phone calls personally. In just over an hour the two of you were signing papers before a Superior Court judge and she performed the ceremony, even issuing you a license afterward. I'm a little hazy on what the rest of the paperwork was but I seem to remember you'll be receiving copies before the month is out. Since the state of New York is kind enough to recognize same sex marriages and partnerships, even if they're not willing to allow them, I would say you're very much married." He finished with a flourish.
Andy stared at Miranda amazed. "You arranged the ceremony?"
"I assumed I must have," Miranda agreed calmly.
Chocolate drop eyes turned to Nigel. "Miranda proposed?"
"Yes, she did." He nodded. "Well, actually, she sang a duet with an Elvis impersonator to "Teddy Bear" and you shouted "Yes!" before throwing yourself into her arms. The next thing I know we're all hunting for wedding apparel, so I took it to be a proposal."
"So that's where Elvis and the teddy bear came into it," Miranda murmured.
Andy knew she was staring at Miranda like she'd lost her mind, but honestly, she must have. Miranda had just been told she'd sung with an Elvis Impersonator and she was still sitting there as calmly as if Nigel had said she'd approved the Book for printing.
"Who all saw this?" Andy squeaked.
Nigel seemed to consider for a moment. "The three of us, Emily, Serena, the various Elvises"
"Various Elvises!" Andy interrupted him. "How many were there?"
"Well, it was an Elvis Convention, Six. So I'd have to say there were at least a hundred. It had gotten rather late by then so most of the other ones had gone to bed." Nigel waved his hand to dismiss the ones who hadn't made it to the impromptu karaoke session. "I must say they were greatly impressed with both the wave on Miranda's forehead and her Presley moves. Miranda always could do a very good Elvis."
Miranda nodded her head regally in acceptance of the compliment.
Andy buried her face in her hands. This cannot be happening. I've got to still be drunk. No way Miranda isn't demanding we hunt down every single Elvis and burn their jumpsuits with them still in them. "How can you be so calm about this?" Andy demanded, not caring at that moment what you could or couldn't ask Miranda.
"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," Miranda answered confidently.
Unless it follows you home, Andy thought cryptically. "So that's it? We're married? So what now? We just move in and set up housekeeping? File for annulment? Get a divorce? What?" She leapt up and began to pace. She had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't going to go away all that easily. A tap on the door interrupted her frantic movements.
"Perhaps it would be best if we conclude the business we came here for before attempting to solve this new development. Nigel, if you'll get the door? That should be our breakfast. Andréa, you need to eat, as do I. We'll work everything out, but for now, please try to control yourself." Miranda's words sliced through the air with icy intent.
Wrapping her arms around her abdomen with a shiver, Andy nodded. Her stomach rolled alerting her to the fact that she hadn't eaten since dinner the preceding night. Eating might be the best thing after all. She just had to trust that Miranda would straighten everything out. Because after all, Miranda always manages to have everything work out just the way she wants, right? And this won't be any different. Andy could only hope.
Breakfast was a quiet affair with Andy concentrating on her food while Miranda and Nigel worked out the last of the details on the shoot that had wrapped the previous day. Periodically, Andy was required to make a notation or two on the pad Miranda had placed beside her plate for that purpose. Andy had bitten her lip to refrain from commenting on that little nicety. Once again, Miranda had provided her with an array of food items while ordering a single plate for herself and Nigel. Andy ate liberally of her favorites, though not without noting that Miranda seemed to take an unusual interest in the things Andy chose to eat versus what she didn't. Andy had a feeling that the next time Miranda provided her with breakfast it would consist only of the things she enjoyed.
Next time. Will there be a next time? Andy experienced a thrill tingling along her spine at the thought that she might be sharing more morning meals with Miranda. It would be perfect if they came after a long night of loving as this one had, sans the alcohol of course. She would love to have remembered it. Andy knew it must have been wildly energetic because after the first few bites she'd realized she was ravenous. Something that normally only followed an intense expenditure of energy.
With Miranda and Nigel distracted by business, Andy was able to study the woman she now found herself married to without appearing to do so. Miranda's hair had been finger combed into place, leaving that same one stubborn lock to fall over her forehead. Andy fought a grin as she thought of it as Miranda's Elvis Curl. Her mother had always been a big fan of The King, so Andy had grown up watching his movies and listening to his music. Of all the songs she could imagine Miranda singing, "Teddy Bear" wasn't one of them.
Continuing her surreptitious examination, Andy's gaze moved on to Miranda's lips, which seemed a bit fuller this morning. Was it possible they were swollen from hours of kissing and other even more interesting activities? Andy ran the tip of her tongue over her own bruised lips. She could only imagine what she'd been doing with them the night before to bring them to their current fleshy state. Her eyes caught Miranda's for a moment and she could swear that blue gaze flared with heat before moving away, though Miranda never paused in what she was saying to Nigel.
Andy's gaze slid down the elegant white column of throat. Had her lips followed that same trail to rest in the hollow at its base? If she were truly married to Miranda, Andy knew she'd press her lips there several times a day. As Andy watched a tinge of vermillion rose slowly over the skin bared by the V of Miranda's robe and she thought she could see the faint impression of nipples pressing against the soft gray material. Her own hardened in response and she knew the thin silk of the robe she wore did very little to hide the fact. Miranda's attention seemed riveted to Andy's chest even as she continued her conversation with Nigel. He, on the other hand, appeared to be doing his best to notice as little as possible of the heated atmosphere that was swirling around him. Taking pity on him, Andy tried to tune back into what Nigel was saying.
" and the jet will be waiting whenever you're ready to leave. Emily called first thing and put the pilot on alert," Nigel concluded. "She thought you'd want to get home to tell the twins before they found out from another source."
Andy's eyes widened as she thought of the identical red-heads. How would those two deal with a potential stepmother that was closer to their age than their mother's? Andy knew their father had remarried to a woman close to her own age and the twins weren't dealing with the new addition to their family well at all. Though Andy had managed a sort of truce with the dragon spawn, she wasn't sure it would survive marrying their mother.
"Yes, I think it best if we tell the girls in person," Miranda agreed.
We? Who we? Me we? Andy couldn't believe Miranda was going to pull her into the middle of any conversation with her beloved daughters. "Um, Miranda, don't you think it would be better if you told them?" Andy ventured.
"Nonsense, Andréa," Miranda sniffed. "Parents should always present a united front."
"P-parents? Hold on. I'm nobody's parent."
"Step-parent then, if you must be literal. It would still be best to tell them together. I will, of course, speak to them myself as well. I can do so while Roy drives you to retrieve your things," Miranda stated as if all had been decided.
Andy didn't recall anything being discussed, much less decided. "M-my things? Why would I do that?"
Miranda sighed. "You accepted my proposal, Andréa. You said 'I do.' Surely you intended for us to live together."
Afraid that if her eyes opened any wider, she'd sprain an eyelid Andy searched for a way to redirect the conversation until she had time to think. Her eyes fell on the license which was still lying on the coffee table and she recalled something Nigel had said. "If Emily was the best man, why did Serena sign as witness?"
Nigel sipped his coffee and smiled cynically. "She said it was her duty to stand by Miranda through whatever occurred, but she thought the entire wedding was a farce and refused to affix her name to any of the paper work. Since Serena was acting as Bride's Maid, the judge allowed her to sign instead. It was all quite above board, if a bit confusing at the time."
"Emily has always been incredibly loyal," Miranda stated.
"And more level headed than anyone gives her credit for," Andy muttered. "I'm surprised she didn't object."
Chuckling, Nigel cleaned his glasses with a handkerchief he pulled from his pocket. "She tried," he admitted. "Serena cut her off."
"She'll have to teach me that trick. I can never shut Em up," Andy laughed.
Putting his glasses back on, Nigel looked at her over the top of them. "I don't think your wife would approve. She stuck her tongue down Emily's throat."
"She didn't!" Andy gasped. "Way to go, Serena!"
"I believe Emily was too dazed for the rest of the ceremony to say anything else. When Miranda asked for the rings, Emily handed them over with a sappy smile. There might only have been a single wedding, but I believe there was a double honeymoon last night." He smiled in satisfaction.
"It was about time," Miranda observed. "I was beginning to think I'd need to order Emily to kiss her."
"You knew?" Andy wasn't sure why that surprised her.
"Andréa, I am aware of everything that affects Runway, and Emily is less than efficient when mooning over Serena." Miranda advised while pouring herself another cup of coffee. She lifted an eyebrow at Nigel who shook his head.
"No more for me. I need to finish packing and alert the other happy couple to our departure time," he said rising and beginning to gather the folders they'd gone over earlier. He placed one folder that had so far remained unopened at Miranda's elbow. "You might find these to be of interest, Miranda."
"I thought we went over all the photos from the shoot."
"We did," he said with a mischievous smile. "Those are your wedding pictures. Serena arranged for them." He waved merrily before closing the door behind him as he exited.
"Wedding photos. Yes, Andréa, that's what he said." Miranda opened the cover and stared at the top image silently.
Unable to suppress her curiosity, Andy hurried around the table to stand at Miranda's side. The photo was indeed of them. Miranda wore a cream Chanel suit with a loosely ruffled blouse and Andy had on a one-shouldered white gown. Where the dress was at the moment she couldn't have said. What held her attention was the supreme joy she saw on Miranda's face in the image. Though obviously inebriated, Miranda practically glowed with happiness as she stood with one arm around Andy's waist, the fingers of the other hand curled in Andy's. Andy was laughing into the camera but Miranda's eyes were glued to Andy's face as if nothing else existed for her in that moment. Tears blurred the image as Andy realized she'd give anything for the happy story the photo told to be real.
"We should pack, Andréa, or rather, I should. Your bags should be delivered shortly. I phoned Emily earlier to handle it. I'll shower and dress while you're waiting for them," Miranda said before heading for the bedroom.
Andy thought her voice sounded a bit more raspy than usual, but put it down to a night of belting out Elvis songs in a drunken fashion. Right now, Andy just wanted to go home. A few dozen hours of sleep and she might be ready to figure out what to do next. What that was she wasn't sure right now, but she knew it didn't include moving into Miranda's townhouse. Tomorrow they could talk and figure out the best way to make this all go away.
Andy had chosen, wisely she thought, to sleep for most of the duration of the flight home. The glare Emily gave her as they boarded the jet didn't bode well for a pleasant journey and Miranda's quiet insistence that Andy take the seat beside her where she promptly acquired Andy's hand with her own just added to Emily's lethal stare. Yes, sleep was the way to go. Lost in complex dreams of Miranda in a rhinestone jumpsuit serenading Irv while dodging the flashing cameras of paparazzi, Andy missed the fun to be had by the tense hours in the air.
She missed Miranda summoning Emily to her side, as she did the quietly spoken words her wife whispered to her assistant. Andy didn't see Emily pale and clench her fingers in the arm rests deeply enough to pierce the fabric with her nails, nor did she see Emily rush back to Serena's side only to shake her head at Serena's inquiries. Whatever Miranda had said would not be repeated during the flight.
Andy's dreams had just started to get much more interesting with Miranda shedding the jumpsuit in favor of cream and black La Perla when a tickle on the side of her neck interrupted what felt more like memory than dream.
"Mmmmm'randa," Andy mumbled.
"Yes, Darling, it's me. You need to wake up now."
Rolling towards the voice, Andy curled her body around the arm that reached toward her. She pulled the hand between her legs and snuggled into a more comfortable position.
"Andréa." Miranda cleared her throat and cut her eyes at their companions. "This isn't appropriate. You should wake up."
"Ma wife." Andy's lips ghosted over the skin of Miranda's deltoid, left bare from having removed her jacket earlier.
"Yes, I'm your wife, but I don't think we need to prove it right this moment," Miranda told her with a soft chuckle. "Are you always going to be this difficult to awaken? Very well, you leave me little choice." Miranda's voice dropped to its most lethal level. "Andréa, have you misplaced that pebble you call a brain. Unhand me this instant!"
Andy shot up straight, almost throwing Miranda's arm away from her. "I-I-s-sorry, Miranda. I don'tI'll never touch you again," she stammered, heart pounding.
"I don't believe we need to go quite that far," Miranda said, reaching out to stroke Andy's cheek with her fingertips. She frowned when Andy flinched away from the touch.
Andy combed through her hair with stiff fingers. "Distance. I think it would be better ifif we kept more distance between us." When Miranda tried to grasp her hand, Andy slid over to the next seat, leaving the one she had previously occupied between them. She shuddered as Miranda's frown deepened. "This whole thing has me really confused, Miranda. I can't be held responsible for things I say or do when I'm half asleep. When we get off this plane, I'm going back to my apartment and I'm staying there. I was going to suggest we talk tomorrow, but I think it would be better if we don't see each other this weekend. I'll be at work Monday. Maybe we can talk afterward."
"That won't be possible, Andréa," Miranda said in low tones.
Andy looked away and bit her lip. Miranda didn't want to talk about it and Andy couldn't force her. So that was that. "Okay, then just do what you do and make it go away. However you want to do that is fine. Itwe don't have to mention it ever again. We just go back to the way things were."
Miranda pursed her lips. "You misunderstand me. We cannot go back to the way things were. Emily sent your resignation to HR this morning. You no longer work at Runway."
For a moment Andy thought the jet had experienced a sudden loss of altitude, then she realized it was her stomach. Miranda was punishing her. After the Harry Potter incident, Miranda wasn't taking the chance Andy would pull the impossible again and miraculously keep her job. There was no job to keep. What was she supposed to do now? Getting far away from Miranda was the first thing that came to mind. "My stuff. Emily can send it. II'll get a cab. You won't have to see me again."
"Andre'a, what are you babbling about? Of course, I'll see you. " Another attempt to take Andy's hand was avoided. "I can see that we most definitely need to discuss this situation. Come with me."
Andy shook her head. She glanced toward the others from under her lashes, but Emily and Serena was deep in conversation and Nigel was working on his laptop. They didn't appear to have noticed her humiliation. At least, Andy hoped they hadn't. Reluctantly, she followed Miranda to a small couch away from the others. She took a seat in at one end and waited until Miranda settled at the other end before speaking. "All I ask it that you don't blacklist me. I promise I'll stay far away. I just want to be able to find another job."
"You're not listening to me, Andréa. You have a job," Miranda said exasperated.
Andy stared at her. "But you just said "
"I had hoped to do this in private, but needs must. You are my wife, Andréa. You can't continue to work as my assistant. Beyond the fact that I don't wish to be placed in the position of reprimanding my wife in public, Elias-Clarke does not allow for one family member to directly supervise another. I cannot allow Irv to have the upper hand; therefore, I can't be seen as having promoted you directly. It was necessary for you to resign your position as second assistant in order for Michael to hire you," Miranda explained patiently.
"Michael?" Andy asked, unable to wrap her mind around exactly what Miranda was saying.
"Really, Andréa," Miranda huffed. "Michael Richland, the editor of World Review. He mentioned needing an associate editor at the Executive Staff meeting two weeks ago. I happen to know he's had trouble finding someone to fill the position."
"There have to be people with more experience than I have, Miranda," Andy objected.
"More experience, yes. More talent, not necessarily. Darling, Michael asked me for a recommendation and I gave him one. Prior to our leaving for Las Vegas. I sent him a text this morning to see if he'd made a decision. He'd already requested your resume and writing samples from HR. His message offering you the position arrived in your personal email yesterday afternoon. I had Emily process the paperwork that severed you from Runway this morning. You start with Michael on Monday. As he is also not a fan of Irv, I expect any difficulties in that arena to be short lived. So no, we can't discuss this after work on Monday since I have no idea what your work hours will be," Miranda finished with a soft smile.
Andy rubbed her palms rapidly over her face. So she worked for Elias-Clarke's news magazine, but what about the marriage? No one knew. Miranda should be able to just pick up the phone, call the judge and have all the paperwork disappear, right? Today was Friday so it couldn't have gotten very far and she said as much.
"That is a bit more complicate." Miranda sighed. "Rachel woke her clerk last night and had the papers pushed through today. Though the marriage license was a nice touch, it was unofficial; however, we are legally registered domestic partners in the state of Nevada."
"Miranda, neither of us is a resident of Nevada," Andy pointed out.
"That isn't entirely correct, Andréa. I maintain a residence on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. We were granted partnership status based on that."
"Why are you telling me this, Miranda? You could have just undone the whole marriage thing without me ever knowing," Andy asked. It really didn't make any sense.
"Regardless of what my attorney says, I don't feel you will take advantage of the situation. Nothing you have said or done has disavowed my belief in that. I believe we can come to an equitable arrangement between us."
Miranda didn't seem concerned or defensive so Andy breathed a sigh of relief. "I agree that would be the best idea. Very few people know, and I think it might be better to keep it that way. We can settle this quietly." Miranda didn't seem pleased by the suggestion, but Andy shrugged it off as just being hypersensitive right now. Surely, Miranda wanted the partnership dissolved.
The flight attendant came in to tell everyone to fasten their seatbelts for landing, to which they all complied. Andy glanced at Miranda out of the corner of her eye. She couldn't believe how calm Miranda had remained throughout the day. Other than the once occurrence here on the plane, Miranda had been remarkably considerate of her. Still, Andy was careful to lean against the arm of the couch to widen the distance between them as much as possible.
Miranda turned her head suddenly and looked at Andy with pursed lips. "You do realize that I only said what I did about touching me in order to wake you before the situation became embarrassing for us both."
Andy nodded, still hazing on exactly what she'd been doing but clear on what Miranda had said. "I know you prefer not to be touched, Miranda."
Rolling her eyes, Miranda sighed. "Andréa, you were wrapped around my arm like a second skin and had my hand clasped between your thighs. I don't know what you were dreaming of, but I felt it prudent to wake you before the situation deteriorated further. I tried to do so gently; however, you are particularly difficult to rouse from sleep. I did not intend for you to have such an extreme reaction."
"Oh," Andy blushed. She hadn't realized she'd been taking that kind of liberties. No wonder Miranda had gotten upset. Before she could assure Miranda it would never happen again, the plane touched down and taxied to the private service terminal. Miranda released her seatbelt and stood, offering a hand to Andy. Biting her lip, Andy took it and allowed Miranda to pull her to her feet.
Emily came hurrying over to them texting furiously now that they were on the ground. "We have a problem, Miranda. I just got a text from Leslie. The blogs broke the story an hour ago and the airport is seething with paparazzi. The twin's father has managed to keep them in the dark, but it won't last much longer. We're being redirected to a hanger and Roy is waiting there to take you and Andrea to the townhouse. "
Andy could almost smell the smoke as Miranda's brain skidded to a halt and burnt rubber shifting into reverse. "No," Miranda said quietly. "We'll remain on the plane. I refuse to act as if I've done something I'm ashamed of. Contact Leslie. I want a press conference here in one hour. We'll head this off before it gets started. Have our bags brought inside. We'll need to change to something more suitable. We'll use the bedroom in back. I believe there's also a small office in the back of this craft. Set up a video conference with my children in fifteen minutes. Andréa and I will speak with them there."
"Umm, Miranda," Andy started to interrupt.
"I'm sorry, Darling. I realize I haven't asked your opinion, but for all our sakes, we must handle this immediately. Please trust that I know what I'm doing. I have had more experience with dealing with the press."
It was only then that Andy realized Miranda still held her hand and had called her "Darling." Nor was it the first time Miranda had done so. All of which was only slightly less disconcerting than Miranda saying please. Dazed by the rapid revelations, Andy could only nod her assent. They were going to have a press conference. Miranda was going to admit that they were married. Everyone would know, her friends, her parents.
"My parents!" Andy gasped.
"Make that two video conferences, Emily," Miranda directed smoothly. "Andréa will provide you with the number. They might not have seen the blogs yet, but they will definitely see the coverage from here on out. It would be best to tell them upfront."
Andy nodded dumbly as Emily hurried way to make the arrangements. Her parents were going to pitch a royal bitch. She'd be lucky if they ever spoke to her again. Slender fingers squeezing her hand brought Andy's attention to Miranda.
"We will deal with it all together, Andréa. It would be foolish to try to pretend it never happened with the story already breaking. If you want out, the best option is to appear a happy couple for a period of time and then you can divorce me. One more divorce, more or less, can't damage my reputation beyond what it already is."
Miranda looks so sad, Andy thought. Not her expression, that was much as it always was, calm and controlled. It was her eyes that seemed to drown in sorrow. The look made Andy determined to take the blame when it all ended. She'd rather be known as a fickle young woman who didn't know what she wanted, than to cause Miranda one more moment of pain. She smiled warmly and returned the squeeze with her hand.
"Now why would your adoring wife do such a thing?" Andy asked gently. "You proposed, I accepted, we had a ceremony and we're ecstatically happy about it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, and to you."
Miranda responded with one of her rare smiles. It tingled along Andy's skin making her shiver. Miranda reached up and brushed the backs of her fingers against Andy's cheek eliciting a wide smile. "Just keep that look, Darling. It will leave them no doubt as to why I married you and the Dragon Lady will see to it they remain respectful of her wife. I promise to protect you from the demon hordes."
Andy laughed softly. When she thought back on it later, she never figured out why she took the action she did next. It just seemed appropriate to the moment. "Then I guess we better get this out of the way so it doesn't look like we've never done it before," Andy said and leaned over brushing her lips softly against Miranda's. It was a spark to kindling. Without Andy being aware of either of them moving, they were wrapped tightly in each other's arms exploring fully with lips and tongues. When the lack of oxygen reached dire levels, Andy broke the kiss gasping. "Okay, so that part of the marriage won't be a problem."
"Did you expect to be, Darling?" Miranda chided, leaving her arms draped around Andy's neck. "If you experienced the same sensations as I did upon waking this morning, you had to know that part was a great success even if our recall of it is a bit dim."
"I think that helped me remember some delicious kisses," Andy teased unable to constrain the bubbly feeling that kissing Miranda had triggered.
Miranda leaned in and whispered, "I'll have to see what else I can nudge your memory with."
Andy moaned as much from the warm breath that caressed her ear and neck as from the possibilities Miranda's words raised. "Okay, so explain to me why I'm supposed to want to divorce you later," she asked before she thought better of it.
Miranda's smile and playfulness vanished in an instant. "Because you don't love me, Andréa. You never have."
I don't? Andy asked herself. There was no time to find the answer as Emily called them to the first of their video conferences.
"Bobbsies, mommy has something she needs to tell you," Miranda began.
"Ha! I told you, Cass."
From where she stood to the side of the desk, Andy couldn't see the laptop screen. However, she could see Miranda's face and if the paling of her skin was any indication what Miranda was seeing was proving highly upsetting. Caroline's tone told Andy that her expression wasn't as accepting as Miranda had hoped.
"Care, you should let Mom finish. That might not be what she's talking about at all." Cassidy at least seemed more inclined to listen, though she still sounded reserved.
"Darlings, I take it you've been surfing the blogs again. You know I prefer that you don't read the things they say. There is very seldom any truth to their stories."
"So you didn't get married in Las Vegas?" Caroline asked.
The color came back into Miranda's face in a rush. "I did get married, yes. But it didn't come about in the way they're saying."
"So which part isn't true? That you married some gold digger half your age, or that you were so drunk they had to carry you into the chapel. Or maybe it's the stuff about you making a fool of yourself with a bunch of Elvis impersonators."
Andy was ready to throttle the owner of that snide tone. No one talked to her Miranda like that in Andy's hearing, not even her daughters. She stepped around beside Miranda and laid an arm around her shoulders. "Now look, you weren't there so you might want to wait for the truth before passing judgment on your mom. You both know me. I could care less about Miranda's money. She's an amazing woman and anyone would be lucky to be married to her. I'd think as her daughters you'd know that better than anyone."
"Andy!" Cassidy squealed. "We didn't know it was you! None of the stories had your name in it and the only pictures showed you from the back. You're seriously married to Mom?"
Andy laughed in relief. There was at least one Priestly twin on her side. "Yes, Cass, I'm seriously married to your mother. We'd planned to tell you two before word got out, but the gossip blogs beat us to it. We're going to hold a press conference in about an hour, so we wanted to clear things up with you first."
"Did Mom really do karaoke with a bunch of Elvises?" Cassidy asked.
"Miranda sang with one Elvis. In fact, that's how she proposed," Andy told her with a grin. She sat on the arm of the chair Miranda was using and leaned against her wife lightly. "We'll tell you all about it later. I'm going to go get changed and let you talk to your mom. See you guys soon."
Andy vacated the room as quickly as possible to give Miranda maximum time with the girls to reassure them however she saw fit. There was still the call to her parents to make and Andy doubted it would go as smoothly. In fact, she was expecting it to resemble a medieval battle skirmish, all blood and gore.
Hurrying into the bedroom, Andy was glad to see Serena waiting for her. The way her hands were shaking Andy doubted she'd be able to do her own makeup without the finished product resembling a circus clown. "Wow, am I glad to see you," Andy greeted Serena.
"I thought you might need some help. Miranda has chosen her outfit." She gestured toward the gold brocade jacket and black pencil skirt that hung on the door to the tiny closet. "She said you would choose your own. I believe she wished you to select something you would be comfortable with."
"Somehow I don't think she'd be thrilled with the jeans and t-shirt that would be my first choice," Andy laughed.
Serena smiled pleasantly. "I believe she would accept it, if that is what you needed to be able to act yourself before the press. But I think you can do better. Of the clothes you brought for work what makes you feel most confident?"
"Serena, you read the blogs, right? What are they saying? I mean, I kinda know why they think I married Miranda, but what reason are they giving for her marrying me?" Andy asked in a nonsequitor.
"Andy, you are young and beautiful. What do you think they are saying? They do not know you or Miranda. The nasty things they think do not matter." Serena waved the idea away. "It is what you know that matters."
And what do I know? Less than the bloggers it feels like. Andy sighed and began to look through her clothing choices. So they think Miranda married me for the sex, huh? Okay, then I'll just show them what a damn good deal she got. With an emphatic nod, Andy pulled an ivory Armani suit from its covering. "This, I think, with the sheer ruffled blouse."
Serena's laugh could be heard outside the plane Andy was sure. "You are going to rub their noses in it, as Emily would say," she teased.
"I most certainly am." Andy joined in the laugh.
"I will make sure the podium is set up far from any wind. One strong puff and you will have no secrets."
Andy sighed and slumped on the bed. "I don't feel like I have any now."
Serena sat beside her and offered a hug. "You have many secrets left. Only you know why you married Miranda. Only you and she know what is between you. Those are things you do not have to share with the world. Let them see that you are happy as Miranda's wife. That is all they need to know."
"But it won't be all they ask. They're going to want to know all the private, personal details. It's nobody's business which of us is on top, or whether Miranda likes toys," Andy wailed.
"They should know that I am always on top," Miranda broke into the conversation. "And we've only been married a day. The need for toys has not yet arisen. We are still too enamored of each other for such explorations."
"Miranda!" Andy gasped. Then she broke into uncontrollable giggles. "You'd tell them that too, wouldn't you?"
"Of course," Miranda agreed with a shrug. "Serena, as delightful as it is to share a bed with Andréa, I would prefer you not do so."
Andy laughed as Serena practically leapt away from her. "Don't scare her, Miranda. She was being nice to me. I could use some nice right now."
"Serena, I was toying with you," Miranda assured her. "Why don't you go calm Emily? I'll assist my wife with dressing."
"Yes, Miranda." Serena blushed and slipped quickly from the room.
"You just had to mention toys again," Andy chuckled. "She isn't going to be able to look at you for a month without blushing."
"Well, when she stops, I will have to arrange an appropriate gift to ensure she continues for several more months." Miranda smirked at the thought.
"You're evil, Priestly," Andy laughed.
"Are you only now realizing that, Andréa? I've been remiss, if you are."
"Oh, I've known it for a while. It's part of your appeal."
Miranda's expression turned serious. "Is it? Are you sure? I can be quite unpleasant, I know that. Nor do I think I can change that about myself. I am who I am. I don't know how long any of this will take to resolve. The time may not always pass pleasantly."
Andy smiled and rose to take Miranda's hand, clasping it in both of hers. "I know who you are, Miranda. I've seen you at your worst, remember? Both at work and in Paris. If it gets too much, I'll tell you. We'll figure this out between us. Just promise me we'll do so as equals. This is my life too and I need to have a say."
Miranda looked down at their clasped hands, the hint of a smile gracing her lips. "I don't know that I have ever approached any relationship as equals. It will be a unique experience for me."
"If Stephen was any example, none of them were your equal, Miranda," Andy said with a snort of derision.
"And I suppose you are?" Miranda asked her, looking ridiculously pleased at the assessment.
"No, I'm not. But the difference is I know and accept that. I won't be looking to drag you down to make myself more. I respect who you are and what you've accomplished. I only ask that you extend me the same courtesy," Andy requested.
Miranda frowned for a moment. "I realize I do not always show it, but I do respect you, Andréa. You have many fine qualities. It simply has not been appropriate for me to acknowledge that as your employer."
"Then aren't we lucky I don't work for you anymore," Andy quipped. "Now you can just heap the praise on me without worrying about pesky employee relations."
"I'm not sure I would know how to 'heap praise,' as you so eloquently put it," Miranda said smirking. "However, I do believe I can make admiring comments on the rare occasion. You shouldn't expect miracles."
"Miranda, I woke up this morning married to you. A miracle should be a small accomplishment after that."
A faint blush rose slowly form Miranda's chest to suffuse her face. "Iwell, yes, perhaps you're right. It seems I already accomplished one miraculous feat. You said 'I do' to the Dragon Lady. That must be an event without precedent. Now we really should dress. Emily is waiting to put through the call to your parents."
"You might want to wait on that until after the press conference," Andy cautioned. "It might not be pretty and I can promise it won't be short."
"You know your parents best, Andréa. I'll accede to your opinion in this instance," Miranda agreed.
Andy stepped back and dropped to the bed, suddenly feeling as if she'd fall if she didn't sit down immediately. "Wow, that never happened before." A wide grin split her face. "And you weren't sure you could do equal. I'm so proud of you, Miranda."
Rolling her eyes, Miranda huffed. "Really, Andréa." Reaching for her belt, she began to unfasten it.
Andy couldn't hold back a squeak as she realized Miranda intended to disrobe in front of her.
"We woke in the same bed this morning, naked. Surely you are not going to suffer from shyness now," Miranda said.
"But we didn't wake up at the same time," Andy pointed out.
"True," Miranda agreed. "I woke up first." Her smirk was pure evil.
"You looked!" Andy accused her.
"Indeed, I did. Just as I looked when you fell off the couch after our nap. You have nothing to be shy about, Andréa. I can assure you of that," Miranda finished smugly.
Staring open-mouthed at Miranda, Andy wasn't sure how to respond. Miranda had not only seen her naked twice, but evidently, liked what she saw. Andy couldn't stop the grin that curled her lips at the thought. "Then I guess turnabout is fair play," she teased.
"I hate to disillusion you, Darling, but I will not be stripping to the buff. I merely need to change my clothing. You, however, cannot wear a bra with that blouse. So it seems I will once again get a free show," Miranda shot back.
Andy laughed as she realized Miranda was right. Everything she had, had been put on display this morning as she sprawled on the carpet in Miranda's suite. There was little point in hanging on to false modesty now. Standing, she reached for the buttons of her blouse and began to change. She tried to ignore the fact that Miranda was slowly revealing yards of creamy skin, but Andy found herself stopping to stare more than once. She just couldn't seem to help herself, nor could she control her body's reactions to the sight. Miranda was easily the sexiest, more attractive person Andy had ever met. And I'm married to her. Lot of good it does me.
Feeling much more subdued suddenly, Andy unfastened her bra and dropped it to the bed. Standing in just her panties, she glanced at herself in the full-length mirror on the wall opposite. She sometimes thought her breasts were too big, though she'd never had a lover complain before. Still, there were far more attractive women in Miranda's world. How could she ever hope to gain Miranda's attention that way, assuming Miranda even thought in those terms?
"You're quite beautiful, Darling."
Andy started as Miranda's face appeared over her shoulder in the reflection. Arms slid around her waist as a chin came to rest on her shoulder. Andy tried not to think of the warmth of Miranda pressed to her back or the hands clasped against her stomach. "You confuse me," she confessed.
"Do I?" Miranda smiled, meeting Andy's gaze in the mirror. "I simply think that if we are to convince the world that this marriage is both real and desired, we should become more comfortable with each other. Spouses touch, Andréa. Happy spouses touch frequently and intimately."
Andy nodded. The pleasure of feeling Miranda's touch warred with the knowledge that it was only for show. Andy could see the glimmer of tears in her own eyes, could feel the burn of them beneath her eyelids. She tried a tremulous smile. It wouldn't do to have Miranda suspect that her touch meant more than it should. "The happy couple," she whispered, wishing with all her heart that it was so. She'd give anything if the sight of her body caused the same effect in Miranda that Andy had been feeling only moments ago looking at Miranda's.
"Yes," Miranda murmured. "We need to get dressed and show everyone just that." She moved away to continue dressing.
With a sigh, Andy reached for her blouse and slipped it on. The sheer material showed every inch of the skin it covered. Her modesty was saved by the attachment of ruffles over her breasts. It perfectly matched the ivory drape waist skinny pants and fitted jacket. Andy smiled ruefully at her image as she stepped into cream Jimmy Choo pumps. The effect was almost bridal, though with a definite hint of sin. She wondered for a moment if that was subconsciously why she'd chosen it.
"You look exquisite," Miranda commented. "My bride will stun them all."
Andy smiled at the compliment. "I think mine is pretty stunning too, but then you're always gorgeous, Miranda."
Miranda gave a regal nod and smiled, accepting the approbation. "Shall we?" she asked, offering her arm.
"You're perfection, Darling. Let's not gild the lily."
Smiling, Andy took Miranda's arm and they headed out to face the world together. At least, for now.
The flash of cameras was blinding and Andy had to fight her instinct to shield her eyes. A quick glance to the side showed her that Miranda was as composed as ever. They walked the short distance to the podium hand in hand. Nigel, Serena and Emily followed close behind. They had all been in Vegas together and Miranda didn't want it to appear as if she were hiding anything. A short meeting before leaving the plane had informed them all what Miranda deemed to be the publically acceptable details of the events surrounding the wedding, though it was doubtful the reporters would be questioning anyone but Miranda and possibly Andy.
Andy hoped the excitement of being able to actually ask questions of the notorious Dragon Lady would be sufficient to keep them from asking Andy anything at all, but she doubted it. She inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled, smiling when Miranda squeezed her hand comfortingly. They mounted the short steps together and Andy hung back to stand next to Nigel as Miranda moved to the bank of microphones.
"Good morning. Upon our arrival in New York this morning, I was informed that several stories had appeared on the internet speculating that I was married to a woman while in Nevada on business. Had the individuals who maintain these 'entertainment' sites verified their information, they would know that marriage between same sex partners is not legal in the state of Nevada." Miranda paused as a murmur ran through the assembled reporters. Andy fought a smirk at the twist Miranda had placed on the word entertainment. "That said, let me clarify the facts for you. A dear friend was kind enough to officiate at a Holy Union between myself and Andréa Sachs. Ms. Sachs was not in my employ at the time. Our official status is as registered domestic partners in the state of Nevada, a situation I am happy to say is recognized by the state of New York. So, yes, for all intents and purposes I am married again and no, she is not a Vegas showgirl."
As a roar of noise rose from the group in front of them, Andy bit her lower lip to keep from laughing. Trust Miranda to beat them to the punch on even that.
"So which one's the blushing bride, Miranda?" A voice shouted over the din.
"Yeah, which one is it? They're all knockouts," A second voice chimed in.
Knowing her cue when she heard it, Andy stepped to Miranda's side. "That would be me. I'm Andy." she said flashing a megawatt smile which only grew when Miranda kissed her cheek chastely. The cameras flashed with the efficiency of strobes as Andy blushed sweetly and turned an adoring gaze on Miranda. She knew what was needed to convince these people and save Miranda's reputation. This one time she didn't question her feelings or the truth of those Miranda was portraying. Andy simply let everything she felt for Miranda Priestly shine through. Though she couldn't claim to love her, she was strongly attracted to Miranda. The woman behind the icon fascinated her and she wanted to know more about her. She was intrigued by every aspect of Miranda's personality and most of all, she cared about Miranda as a person. So maybe there was a kind of love there.
"So, Andy, what's it like being married to the Ice Queen?" Came the next shouted question.
Andy could feel Miranda stiffen beside her. This wouldn't do. Smiling sweetly, she leaned toward the mics. "I wouldn't know," she said. "I'm married to Miranda. She is warm and loving. So I'm amazingly happy that she chose me."
Andy glowed as Miranda gifted her with the first real smile Miranda had offered since the press conference began.
"Thank you, Andréa," Miranda murmured.
"It's true so no thanks needed," Andy responded.
"What about kids? You two planning on having kids?" Was the next question.
"As neither of us are goats, kids are unlikely," Miranda snapped.
"Play nice," Andy chided softly, bumping Miranda lightly with her hip. Realizing what she'd done, Andy froze for a second expecting a swift and biting reprisal. She was shocked when Miranda only offered a tolerant smile.
"As you can see, I've been reprimanded, so to answer your question as it was intended, Andréa and I are not yet decided about future children. There are many factors to consider, though I do believe she would make a radiant mother-to-be," Miranda said pleasantly.
A low murmur ran through the crowd at the way Andy seemingly had Miranda wrapped around her finger. Their interest turned more to Andy as if they realized there was more to this young woman than they'd originally thought. She appeared to have quite effectively tamed the Dragon Lady of Fashion.
"So what do your families say about this?"
Andy tried not to let her smile reflect the strain that question caused her. She breathed a sigh of relief when Miranda squeezed her fingers to indicate she would handle it.
"Our families are, of course, concerned about the suddenness; however, they all want us to be happy and are supportive of that happiness in whatever form it manifests," Miranda said without really saying anything at all. A trait Andy thought she might need to cultivate and soon.
"Andy's wearing the pants today, does that make her the man?" One mental Neanderthal asked, earning himself boos from his peers and pursed lips from Miranda.
Incensed at the implication, Andy snapped, "Do I look like a man to you? Does Miranda? If so, you need glasses along with an introduction to the twenty-first century."
"Play nice, Andréa," Miranda quipped smugly, returning the earlier hip bump.
"Yes, Miranda," Andy teased back, blushing at her loss of temper. "My apologies," she addressed the man who had asked the ridiculous question.
"Are you planning a honeymoon?" A female reporter spoke up, smoothing over the uncomfortable pause.
"The next few weeks will be extremely busy for both Andréa and myself at work; however, I believe we will be taking a trip very soon," Miranda responded.
"Paris or Milan?" Someone pushed.
"This is a honeymoon, not a business trip. I would think sand, surf and a great deal of privacy would be more romantic," Miranda said in an offhand manner as if the paparazzi heard her referring to romance daily.
"You're serious," Andy said in a whisper.
"Totally," Miranda agreed. "After a week or two of this type of attention, I think we'll both respond well to a getaway. I imagine the new Sonia Vera swimsuit that came in last week would suit you admirably."
"The purple one?" Andy gasped, turning her back to the crowd slightly she spoke low so only Miranda could hear. "That barely covers anything! You said yourself a deep breath would end any mysteries."
"Did I? I may have to rethink my initial reaction. I have become somewhat more open to its appeal in the interim." Miranda's eyes slowly swept down Andy's body and back up.
Andy blushed furiously which drew a heated round of questions as to the topic of their aside. Miranda turned her calm gaze on the crowd.
"How long have you been dating?" Someone shouted over the din.
"We haven't," Miranda responded succinctly. "It would have been inappropriate while Andréa was employed at Runway; however, when she was offered a position at a sister publication that was no longer a factor. I took immediate action to state my case and was gratified to learn that we were of like minds. It would not have been intelligent to waste more time needlessly. Now if you will excuse us, it has been an eventful twenty-four hours. My wife and I would like to return home and greet our children, so if you'll excuse us."
Miranda led Andy from the platform by the hand she had been holding throughout the interview. Andy, for her part, breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn't expected Miranda to be so open with the press, but then again, Miranda was known for doing the unexpected. Her sudden marriage to a woman was out of character for Miranda. Maybe answering the questions in a seemingly open fashion was exactly what was needed to convince the press of their sincerity. Miranda had certainly shown them a side of herself that was heretofore unknown.
Instead of returning to the plane, they slipped into the town car that Roy had waiting. Once the door was closed and the rest of the world blocked out, Andy slumped against the seat and groaned. "Promise me that I, at least, don't have to do that again today."
Miranda laughed and threaded their fingers together. "Twice in one day would be a bit much. We will simply ignore any questions thrown our way as we leave the car, though hopefully, the interview was sufficient to keep them at bay for one day."
"How was your talk with the girls? Did they believe you?"
"Of course they believe me, Andréa. I told them the truth," Miranda explained.
"The truth?" Andy asked shocked. "You mean the truth-truth?"
"Yes, the truth-truth, as you so eloquently put it. We really must work on your vocabulary. I do not keep secrets from my daughters, at least not of the kind that could have such an extreme effect on their lives. They have a right to know the basics of what is going on. I do not wish for them to become attached to the idea of our marriage when the desire has been expressed to end it," Miranda said while looking out the window beside her.
"Oh, right." Andy swallowed against the lump that had formed in her throat. It made sense that Miranda wouldn't set up her daughters to be hurt later, but the knowledge that the woman she'd married was keeping the decks cleared to expedite a divorce was more than she could cope with on top of everything else that had happened since she awoke that morning. More than anything right then she wanted to close her eyes and escape into sleep where there were no unexpected nuptials and no expected dissolution to come. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against the door and hoped Miranda would think she'd done just that.
Andy was surprised to find that she had fallen asleep, though thankfully not as deeply as one the previous occasions when Miranda had been forced to awaken her. One touch on her shoulder and Andy sat up, blinking her eyes.
If Miranda seemed a bit disappointed by her actions, Andy gave no credit to it. Miranda was probably just glad that she didn't have to go through any more embarrassing scenes over waking Andy up. From now on, Andy was determined not to go through that again and her intent was causing her to sleep lightly. Whatever Miranda felt they needed to talk about or do at her home, Andy just hoped it was over soon so she could go back to her own apartment and get away from the circus her life had become overnight.
Andy groaned at the milling crowd of reporters and photographers outside Miranda's home. She wasn't ready to go through this again.
"Roy, take us to the back," Miranda directed upon seeing the group on the sidewalk ahead of them. "This once I think we can be forgiven for not braving the gauntlet, Andréa. There is an alley that runs the length of the block and every house has a private garage that opens onto it. Roy will let us off inside and then back out."
"If you can get in and out without having to face the vultures, why don't you do it, Miranda?" Andy asked confused.
"I don't hide, Andréa," was Miranda's clipped answer. "I'm doing so today, because I sense that you've dealt with all you can for one day. The press can prove quite stressful to someone who isn't used to this life. You will adjust in time."
Andy nodded, but kept her thoughts to herself. There wouldn't be time for her to adjust to Miranda's lifestyle. She'd been bombarded by the press entering this pretense of a relationship and she expected a repeat as she exited, but then it was over and she could try to build some type of normal life again. Though thoughts of a life without Miranda didn't fell Andy with the relief she thought it would have. This was all one enormous mess and Andy just wanted it over.
Andy lay on the bed in the guest room Miranda had shown her to and stared up at the ceiling. They had yet to call her parents and truthfully, Andy would be just as glad if they could skip that particular confrontation completely. She sighed knowing that was as useless a hope as the one that she and Miranda could make an actual go of this marriage. Neither was in the realm of possibility.
Curling on her side, she felt the first tears leaking from beneath closed lids. She couldn't ever remember having felt so totally alone. There was no one she could talk to about this. Her parents didn't know and would throw a shit fit when they found out. Nate was out for obvious reasons; he hated the very idea of Miranda. Lily hadn't spoken to her since she'd admitted to almost leaving Miranda in Paris only to go back less than two hours later, and Andy had simply lost touch with Doug. She couldn't talk to anyone from Runway as she knew Miranda would not want them knowing the marriage was a fake. She was lost and alone. The tears flowed followed by quiet sobs.
Caught in her grief, Andy didn't hear the door to the room opening. She wasn't aware of being observed or the hasty exit of the person watching. Andy didn't know her sadness had been discovered until she felt the mattress shift and arms wrap around her, pulling her against a soft chest.
"I'm here. I'm here, Andréa. I've got you," Miranda murmured and her hands moved over Andy's back offering comfort. "I know the day has been stressful, but I'll correct things as soon as I can."
Andy only cried harder at the further evidence that Miranda wanted their marriage to end. What made it worse was that she couldn't say exactly why the idea upset her so much.
"I don't know how to help you, Darling. What's wrong? Talk to me, Andréa. Tell me and I'll fix it. Anything you want. Just tell me," Miranda continued, hugging Andy tighter to her.
"Y-you c-can't f-fix this, Miranda. Th-there's no one I can t-talk to. I-it's just m-me," Andy sobbed into Miranda's neck.
"Oh, Darling, no. You aren't alone, Andréa. There's nothing you can't tell me," Miranda reassured her.
"N-not when it's ab-bout you," Andy wailed.
Miranda stilled. "Have I done something to hurt you?" she ventured.
Andy shook her head. She curled tighter into Miranda's body, seeking the warmth and comfort offered. As her crying slowed, she became aware of the scent of Miranda. The rich, spicy perfume that mingled with the mouth-watering smell of her wife's skin had Andy nuzzling her face deeper into Miranda's neck. Without thought Andy opened her mouth to taste the velvety texture. She hummed deep in her throat in pleasure.
"Andréa, what are you doing?" Miranda inquired breathlessly.
"Tasting," Andy mumbled against soft skin.
"Yes, that part is mmmm--obvious. May I inquire as to why?"
"You taste good," Andy answered absently, lost in the sensual pleasures being telegraphed by the elegant column of Miranda's throat. The skin beneath Andy's lips moved as Miranda swallowed. The sensation was entrancing.
"Andréa, are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Excellent," Andy hissed the syllables. She nibbled on her way up and down, moving steadily toward the front of Miranda's neck. Her mind was focused on that soft spot that had teased her before. Pressing her lips into the shallow well of flesh, she could feel Miranda's pulse fluttering. "I've wanted to do that for days," Andy said, tracing her tongue around the edges of the hollow.
Miranda moaned in response. "I thought you wanted this to end."
Andy rolled to her back and threw one arm over her eyes. She drew a shaky breath as she tried to order her thoughts. Finally, she spoke into the darkness behind her eyelids. Somehow she couldn't look at Miranda and say what she wanted to. "I'm not sure what I want, Miranda. Except that I want you. I'm really clear on that."
"I see," Miranda said quietly.
Andy risked a glance at her. Miranda lay on her back as well, eyes focused on some point beyond the ceiling above them. It was a look Andy was familiar with from the office. Miranda's mind was racing through information, considering and discarding data at lightning speed. Andy waited, trying to be patient. Interrupting Miranda could have devastating effects and Andy wanted the best outcome possible. After a few moments, Miranda blinked once and gave a small nod.
"Perhaps we can come to an understanding that would be mutually beneficial to us both," Miranda mused. "The attraction between us is clearly mutual. Neither of us is involved elsewhere, and as for myself, I have no desire to be. Our marriage, while precipitous, may prove to be providential."
Andy turned on her side and rested her temple on one palm, arm propped on her elbow. "There's no one else I'm interested in either, so what do you propose?"
"We seem to have developed a pattern of me proposing. You really will have to take a turn some time," Miranda remarked dryly.
Andy grinned. Miranda's sense of humor took a bit of getting used to, but she definitely had one. "I'll make a note of that. But until I can find the right moment, what did you have in mind?"
"There can be many benefits to marriage, Andréa, when both parties are clear on their expectations."
Andy reached out one long leg and poked Miranda's foot with a toe. "And you'd know this how?" she quipped.
Miranda shot her an icy glare which softened instantly at the warm smile Andy directed toward her. "My failures in this arena in the past were entirely due to neither party having been honest about their expectations up front. I was no more honest than the men I married. I don't wish to make the same mistake again. Though love has not been mentioned between us, it is obvious that we care for each other. We share a mutual attraction. We have a similar work ethic, though mine is a bit more fully developed."
"A bit!" Andy gasped, incredulous. "You're a workaholic from the word go, Miranda."
Miranda grimaced at the statement but did not deny it. "That you are aware of that and accepting of it puts you far ahead of my ex-husbands. You might also remember you will be starting a new position on Monday. I imagine your work hours will be quite extensive until you have proven yourself."
Andy nodded slowly. "True. So you're suggesting what? A marriage of convenience? Friends with benefits?"
Miranda mimicked Andy's position. "I can think of far worse perks than marriage to you and all it entails. I do think we should be clear on what we both expect and want. I have two children. I would want someone who can fill a, well maybe not parental role, but someone who can be a responsible, loving role model to them. You know what my professional life is like, that will not change. I would expect you to escort me to various functions, as long as there was no conflict with your own work commitments. I would be willing to discuss additional children if you so desired, though it would perhaps be better to do so sooner rather than later. Your wardrobe would also have to be seen to. You'll no longer have the Closet to pull from, nor can I have you wearing the latest Wal-mart special."
"Still waiting to hear the downside here," Andy laughed.
"You're looking at the downside, Andréa. Dragon Lady, Ice Queen, and the various other sobriquets I have been gifted with were fairly earned. Being with me will not be all joy and roses."
"Like I haven't figured that out over the last two years?" Andy reached out and stroked on finger down Miranda's forearm. "Are you trying to talk me into this or out of it, Miranda?"
Miranda tangled their fingers together. "Neither. I am merely insuring that you can give an informed consent."
"Then consider me informed and I'm also consenting. So I guess it's my turn. I want someone who's going to be there for me through good and bad. Someone who isn't going to bail because life changes me, or I grow up. "
Miranda's eyes lazily tracked down Andy's body. "Believe me, Andréa, you are quite grown up."
Andy shivered. "How do you do that? Nobody has ever made me feel a look like you do."
"Mmmm, nice to know. What else do you require, Andréa?"
"To be an equal as least so far as the relationship is concerned. To be considered when decisions are made. I never want to feel taken for granted." She held up her hand to forestall Miranda's response. "A text that you'll be late or can't make it, from you and not Emily. That's all it takes. That you took a moment to make the connection directly is what matters, not whether you keep every date. I know you avoided calling Stephen because you didn't want to hear the whining, and you won't hear it from me. I think being called Mrs. Priestly is a pretty damned awesome job title," Andy said grinning. "I know the girls and Runway are first for you and in that order. I just never want to feel that I'm not even on the list. Just simple human courtesy, Miranda. That's what I want. I don't know about children, but I'll give it serious thought. I've never been in a relationship where I felt that was a viable option. It was always something that would come when careers and futures were secured. I've seen how much you love your girls and I know you'd love our child just as much. You can also provide security for a child, so yes, I'll think about it. I know you have a lot of contacts, but I don't want you to interfere in my career. I need to do that on my own. That isn't to say I won't need your help or ask for your opinion. I'd be stupid not to see you as a wonderful resource. But I want to be the one asking when I need it."
"That will not be easy for me," Miranda admitted. "I can open so many doors for you with just a phone call."
"And there may come a day when I want you to do that, Miranda. But it's important to me that I can be proud of my own accomplishments and I won't be if I didn't earn them. So that brings us to the last thing. I want to pay my way. I know you make way more than I might ever hope to, but I'm sure we can find a way for me to contribute."
"I have or have access to vacation homes around the world. With the cost of lodging removed from the equation, perhaps you could make your contribution in that way and with the occasion outing or dinner. Would that suffice?"
Andy smiled happily. "That would work, though I won't be able to afford the type of places you're used to right off."
Miranda's eyes gleamed. "I shall cover the honeymoon and you will do so for the subsequent anniversaries. That gives you a year to save and plan."
"Deal," Andy said, extending her hand.
Miranda used it to pull Andy closer, brushing their lips together softly. "It's a marriage, Andréa, not a merger."
"Right," Andy said breathlessly. "So I guess that brings us to the finer details."
"Which would be?" Miranda asked smirking.
"I sorta of assumed I'd be living here." At Miranda's nod, Andy continued. "Where will I sleep?"
"With your wife, of course," Miranda replied instantly.
"And is that all that will happen?" Andy asked blushing.
"Is that all you want to happen, Andréa? I confess it might prove difficult to sleep next to you and not be free to touch you. If that's your intent, then it might be better for you to use this room."
Andy slipped closer so there was barely a breath between their bodies. "That's not what I want at all. I'm attracted to you, Miranda. I want to see where this leads. Can we just let things take their natural course and what happens, happens?"
Miranda wrapped her arm around Andy's waist eliminating the final distance between them. "What will happen is a repeat of last night, only this time we will remember every detail."
"I can live with that," Andy said and then captured Miranda's lips in a long slow kiss. "You'll have to update the twins."
"Hmmm, yes, though I believe that most of this falls under the category of "They don't need to know everything". It might be best to simply tell them we've decided to leave things as they are for the foreseeable future. You may yet change your mind." Miranda initiated another kiss, longer, slower and moister than the one before.
Things were just getting interesting when Andy's stomach gave a loud roar. Andy stared in wonder as Miranda laughed helplessly. She was so beautiful when she laughed.
"We should feed you before that beast breaks loose and goes on the rampage," Miranda teased, poking Andy's stomach with a forefinger. "The girls will be here soon and will be almost as ravenous as you. Come along, Andréa. I now have three voracious mouths to feed and no idea what is in the house. We may have to call for takeout."
Andy leaned back on her elbows and watched as Miranda rolled lithely from the bed. She couldn't help the silly grin that split her face. "I'm fricken married to Miranda Priestly," she squealed, kicking her heels against the mattress.
Miranda threw back her head and laughed heartily. "If you're still doing that on our first anniversary, I will be truly blessed. Now come along. We'll move your bags to my room and I'll make some space in the drawers and closet for your things after dinner. We can talk about having your other things brought over while we arrange for dinner."
Miranda held out her hand and Andy leapt from the bed to take it. From this night on she really was Miranda's wife. Now they just had to make it work and maybe, if they were truly lucky, love would find its way into the match as well. Smiling happily, Andy let herself be led into her newly agreed upon future.
"Mom Mom Mom!" Andy's efforts to break into her mother's rant were proving futile. Sighing, she leaned back in the chair and let her mom vent. The speaker phone allowed the vitriol to echo throughout Miranda's study. Andy couldn't help feeling that the pristine walls would somehow be tainted by the vicious things her mother was uttering against her relationship with their owner.
" that conniving bitch is only looking for a young piece of ass and you're inexperienced enough to give it to her. Really, Andy, have you lost your mind?"
Andy's eyes widened and her face suffused with a red fury. How dare anyone say such a thing about Miranda?
"Now you just wait one damned minute!" she roared, startling her mother into silence. The door flew open and someone rushed in, but Andy was too intent on her anger to look up to see who it was. "Nobody and I mean NOBODY, says that kind of shit about Miranda in my hearing. You might be my mother, but she's my wife and I won't listen to that kind of trash about her. And for your information, she's the one who tried to end this, not me. I've got what I want, and that's Miranda. You don't have to accept it. Hell, you don't even have to like it, but you do have to shut up about it. This is my life and I make the choices in it. You're always going on and on about how you want grandchildren. Well, you've got them and more to come, if you're not so biased against their other mother that I decide you're a bad influence on my children. Think about that before you say one more word against my wife." Andy paused, chest heaving, and waited for a response.
"Andy, this is Dad. Your mother just walked out. I think it would be best if we called you back later. Give everyone a chance to calm down. I don't agree with your choice, but you're right. It is your life. I'll talk to your mom." His tone was placating and it calmed Andy just enough to respond without yelling.
"Remind her of what Granma said when you two announced your engagement. That's a damn big glass house she's living in," Andy snapped.
Richard chuckled softly. "I'd forgotten about that. You're right. We'll call you later, Honey. And for what it's worth, congratulations. I hope you'll both be very happy."
"Thanks, Dad." Andy ended the call. Grabbing her hair in fisted hands, she yanked on it and roared, "Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
"I believe my last budget meeting with Irv was more peaceful," Miranda observed from where she leaned against the doorframe. "Though I can assure you my vocabulary was much less colorful."
"Sorry," Andy muttered in a tone that made it clear she really wasn't. "But, dammit, no one gets to say stuff like that about you. Not even my mother."
"Am I to assume you will be railing against the paparazzi in a similar manner? If so, I'll have my attorney being preparing your case," Miranda asked with a smirk.
"And if someone, even your mother, said I was a conniving bitch who was only out for your money to your face, you'd just smile and say thank you?"
Miranda flushed. "Point made."
"Thought so," Andy responded with her own smug look.
"Do you think your father can calm her down?" Miranda asked, changing the focus of the conversation.
"Once Dad reminds her of how well her mother took their engagement, yeah, I think she will. She still gets incensed when someone brings that up. It might take a day or two, but she'll come around, or at least be less vocal about her objections. Anyway, that's over with for right now. How'd the closet clearing go?" Andy changed the topic entirely. She didn't want to talk about her mother any more tonight.
"I cleared sufficient space for the clothing you have with you. Since my last divorce, I had expanding into both closets, keeping more items than I previously had allowed myself to. I can have more shifted to one of the guest room's closets. I either need to weed out what I have more strenuously, or we need to look at remodeling," Miranda mused.
Andy rubbed her tired eyes with the fingers of one hand. "I don't want you to go to that kind of expense because of me."
"Not because of you, Darling. The plans already exist. I put the project on hold when Stephen asked for a divorce. The need was much less pressing when I took into account his closet and dresser space. It wasn't a permanent arrangement, just the most expedient. Your living here simply gives the reason to continue with my original plans, though I would like you to look over the blueprint and renderings. Some of that space is for your use, you should have input on its construction."
"Okay," Andy said slowly. "I don't know much about reading blueprints, but I'll take a stab at it."
Miranda smiled affectionately. "I believe I can talk you through it. The renderings will be helpful. They give a good visual of the finished product. We can take a look at them tomorrow if you wish."
Andy nodded. "Yeah. I mean, yes, I'd like that. I need to go to my apartment too. There are things I need to check on, pick up the mail and see if Sandy's okay." Andy stopped and her eyes widened. "Oh, wow, I forgot about Sandy. This may not be good."
Frowning, Miranda walked over to lean against the side of the desk. "And who, may I ask, is Sandy?" Her tone dropped to an icy level.
"You're jealous!" Andy barked a laugh. "Oh, Miranda, no. There's no need. Sandy's my cat."
Miranda sniffed and folded her arms over her chest defensively. "I do not do jealous. It's counterproductive."
Andy leaned her head against the back of the chair and smiled up at Miranda. "I have to admit that I've always hated possessiveness from the person I was involved with in the past, but from you it's damned sexy, Miranda."
Miranda opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again and blushed furiously. "Really, Andréa," she huffed, "you have the most ridiculous ideas."
Grasping Miranda's folded arms, Andy encouraged her around the desk and into her lap. With her arms wrapped around Miranda's waist, she pressed a kiss to the nearest silk-covered bicep. "I don't consider it ridiculous to be possessed by you, or to like it. I think of it more as my extremely good luck."
"Everyone I've ever been with has cheated on me," Miranda admitted. She held herself stiffly in Andy's lap, staring straight ahead at the far wall. "Yet, I don't recall ever being jealous. Angry to be made a fool of, yes. Hurt at the implication I wasn't sufficient, yes. But never jealous." She glanced at Andy and then back to the wall. "You were right. I was jealous. I am possessive of many things, but this is the first time I've ever felt that way for a spouse or lover. It's extremely disquieting."
Andy tightened her hold on Miranda and leaned her forehead against that same arm. "You don't have to be though. I'm painfully monogamous."
"I seem to recall an incident in Paris," Miranda said softly.
With a finger under Miranda's chin, Andy turned her head until their eyes met. "Nate and I ended things before you and I left for Paris. I was very much single. If I did anything wrong that night, it was lying to myself. I slept with Christian to prove something, to me. He wasn't who I really wanted, but I was convinced I couldn't have that person. I told myself it was wrong to even want her, that it wasn't real. So I set out to prove that when the opportunity presented."
"And did you succeed?"
"The very next morning I ran off to find her and try to warn her about the things I'd found out. Not that you listened," Andy said laughing.
"Even then?" Miranda asked, amazed.
"Even then," Andy agreed. "Don't ask me exactly when, though. From the first moment I met you I was stunned by your beauty and intelligence, and totally irritated by your arrogance." Andy laughed and then sobered. "Before I knew it I just wanted to please you, however, whatever that took. I lived for those small nods of approval. I have to be the densest person alive because I didn't realize what it all meant until Nate said something that made me think. We were arguing and my phone rang. It was you calling. He said, 'The person whose calls you always take, that's the relationship you're in.' I took your call then, too, and let him walk away. You were more important, not Runway, not the job, you. I knew then I wanted you, but I wouldn't allow myself to accept it. Hence Christian." Andy shrugged. It really was one of the more foolish things she had ever done, but it hadn't been about him at all. It could have been anyone and that was worst of it. Anyone who wasn't Miranda would have done, because it was Miranda, or rather her desire for Miranda, she was running from that night. Seeing her, seeing the woman behind the icon, in the hotel that night had frightened Andy. Sitting across from her, Andy had wanted to take Miranda in her arms and never let go, to protect her from ever being hurt again. It was the moment she realized she cared far too much for her unattainable boss.
"I think we have all made similar mistakes in our lives," Miranda said. "Had you said something, done something, to relate your feelings to me that night we would have had a far different outcome. I wasn't ready to face my desires at that point. I was also in denial and would have rejected you out of hand, to my detriment. I'm sure you've wondered why I let you come back after your grand exit. When you came to Irv's suite that morning, both your appearance and your aroma screamed sex. It was that which made me angry with you." When Andy tried to comment, Miranda pressed a finger to her lips. "Oh, yes, even then I was jealous. It was not an emotion I am familiar with, not having experienced it in a very long time and never in a sexual context. I found it confusing to say the least, but there was no time to evaluate my feelings then. I still had my grand coupe to enact. It was only during those hours after you walked away that I had time to sit and think about what it meant. It was highly inappropriate and I found that I missed you." Miranda sighed. "I didn't want to, but I did. I am sufficiently self-aware to have realized the cause. I wanted you, as well. I had just made up my mind to pursue you when I returned to New York when you appeared at my door asking for your job back. I had a decision to make." Miranda shrugged and sighed softly. "I chose the option that I knew would keep you close to me, not perhaps as close as I would have liked, but at least I saw you daily. What else could I have done? I still had a divorce to orchestrate, plus two children. My desires were prurient at best and I had little of hope of them being mutual. So there you have it. You are not the densest of persons. You're second densest," Miranda teased with a soft smile.
Andy laughed and followed it with a soft brush of lips to Miranda's. "I made the same choice. That's why I came back. If I couldn't have you, at least I could be close to you. But damn, Miranda, I wanted to kill every one of those guys you dated. Did you have to be so, so social?"
It was Miranda's turn to laugh. "Those weren't dates, Andréa. They were acquaintances who served as escorts when needed. It was beneficial to us both. Most of those men are gay."
Rolling her eyes, Andy pressed her lips to Miranda's neck. "I wish I'd known that then. I might have gotten a lot more sleep. I'd lie awake imagining them with you and I just wanted to scream. I've never wanted anyone as much as I wanted you. It was killing me to think someone else was allowed to touch you when I wasn't."
"You are under no such restrictions now, Andréa. In fact, touching is highly encouraged between married couples," Miranda informed her.
"Well aren't I the lucky one," Andy grinned.
"I had thought it was me, but perhaps you're right," Miranda said with a regal nod.
Chuckling, Andy hugged her tightly. "You are definitely going to keep me on my toes."
"As you are the taller of us, I believe the reverse will be more accurate, Andréa."
Andy frowned suddenly. "I don't think Caroline is happy about all this."
"She has reservations, yes. I believe that she will come around given sufficient time. I love my daughters, Andréa, but I am a realist. There will soon come a day when they will move on to have their own lives. Am I to give up any hope of finding happiness or companionship? It would give me pause if her objections were more strenuous, but they are not. Caroline merely does not wish to become attached to someone who may conceivably leave in the future. She doesn't wish to be disappointed again. She said nothing negative about you as a person, nor did she mention the more obvious discrepancies in our ages or status. I think she needs time to come to trust this, as we all do. Cassidy, however, is your greatest proponent. She has warned me in no uncertain terms about 'messing this up' as she put it."
Miranda's smile was filled with love and indulgence for her precocious daughters. Andy couldn't help wondering if there would ever come a time that Miranda looked at her like that. Then she realized she hoped to see even more in the look when it came her way. Not the platonic love of mother to child, but the passionate, heat-filled longing of a woman in love. That was the look Andy wanted from Miranda, and the one she probably would never get. It occurred to Andy that while Miranda had flirted with her off and on all day, she had yet to look at Andy with the all-out lust that must have been present the night before. Did Miranda not desire her while sober? She'd said she did, but Andy had seen no clear evidence of it beyond a few steamy kisses. Gentle fingers caressed Andy's cheek and brought her attention back to Miranda.
"What concerns you, My Darling?"
"Do you even want me now? I mean, you must have last night. I've gotten flashes of memory today. Just enough to tell me that you well, you were really into it, Miranda. But today " Andy trailed off, suddenly embarrassed with what she was saying and asking. How do you tell Miranda Priestly that you thought she'd tried to eat you alive? Not to mention asking why she wasn't attempting to do so again.
"You're wondering if last night was entirely the result of the alcohol I consumed," Miranda finished for her.
Andy nodded, still not comfortable speaking.
Miranda slid to her feet and held out her hand. "The girls expressed the wish for an early night as they were up very late last night. I believe it's time I tucked them in and we retired ourselves. My wife seems to require reassurance that I continue to desire her with the same intensity. I believe I can arrange a demonstration."
Blushing, Andy rose and let herself be led from the room. She didn't have many memories of last night and the few she did have weren't clear, but if what she did recall was true, she was about to have the night of her life. Technically the second one, but this one she would get to remember.
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