A/N: Potentially M rated chapter folks...


"So then I ask the guy what he's doing with ten pounds of salmon. He looks at me, horrified, and says, 'He told me it was tuna!'"

My father's in-laws howled in laughter at his joke, but my mother, my sister, and I all shared a look; we had heard this story before. I returned to happily shoveling mashed potatoes into my mouth.

"Well, kiddo, tell us about all the amazing grades you're getting."

I attempted to gracefully swallow as my family's attention turned towards me with my grandpa's question.

"They're not too shabby. Aced my last paper in my Journalism class. Did good on an exam in Middle Eastern History."

"How's French?"

"Oh you know," I replied casually with a shrug, "C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron."

"Very cool. What the hell does it mean?" my dad barked with a laugh.

"It's kind of like 'practice makes perfect.'"

"You're so fancy now," my sister cooed as she wiggled her eyebrows. I chuckled and returned to my food.

"Miranda says my accent still needs work."

"Who's Miranda?" My mom innocently asked.

Crap. I had such a big mouth.

I had been hoping not to deal with this at the dinner table in front of everyone on Thanksgiving. But I couldn't really lie, could I?

"She was my French partner at the start of the semester. Well, she still is now, but since then, we've become friends. Actually, um, more than friends really."

Insert dramatic pause. Well, here goes nothing.

"Miranda is my girlfriend."

You know that face people make? It's kind of like the one someone makes when you come out to them. The face of panic that lets you know they are desperately searching for a politically correct response, trying so hard not to make the situation awkward, and, in doing so, making it unbelievably awkward.

It's the face my parents made when I first told them I was bi, and it was the face they were making now.

"Is she a French major?"

My mother had managed to recover from her state of shock and ask the seemingly nonchalant question without her voice squeaking too high.

"She's an Art major. She's been to Paris though and already studied a lot, so she's really good at French," I explained, trying to sound upbeat and positive and not like this was incredibly embarrassing.

"Sounds like you got the girl and a way to get a good grade," my brother-in-law said with a wink, "Nice work."

"Definitely didn't plan that," I muttered, hoping the small smile I sent him showed how grateful I was for his attempt to make the situation feel casual and normal.

"What does she want to do in her field?"

Typical Dad. I mention a new suitor, he wants to know future ambitions and possible earning potential.

"Management. Fashion and publications. She's destined to run a magazine one day or something," I replied, leaning forward to rest my arms on the table, "She's a junior, and she's graduating this year."

This earned a nod. And more of that awesomely awkward silence.

My mom tried to soothe things over by asking, "When can we meet her?"

I took it as a good sign they could at least be open to that possibility. I gave her a quick smile and "soon" before changing the subject to my sister's work. She took the hint and launched into a nice rant about her current career status, but it's not like she needed much of an excuse to talk.

Luckily, dinner and the following dessert course passed without too much further excitement. Thanksgiving with the Sachs was a very relaxed affair that ended with all of us watching TV before retreating to our rooms for bed. It only took about five minutes of laying in bed and scrolling through Facebook on my phone to wonder what Miranda was up to.

It only took another two minutes before I was sitting on the edge of my bed as I stared at her contact info on my phone's screen.

Maybe she was enjoying some time away from me. Had I been giving her enough space? What if she was still doing holiday stuff with her mom?

Oh, what the hell. It was just a freaking phone call. If it went to voicemail, so be it. Wasn't this standard girlfreind protocol?

I hit "Call" and stood up, holding my breath.

It took three long, nerve-wracking rings before a beautiful voice said, "Hello?"

I wave of relief washed over me.

"Miss me yet?"

I heard Miranda snort. "I am not the one calling you. It would appear you miss me."

"It's kinda strange not seeing you," I admitted, beginning to pace my room, "I see you at least every other day with French, even if you won't admit you like hanging out with me outside of classes."

"My actions themselves should speak to my preferences." Her voice hinted towards that playful purr I enjoyed so much.

"Maybe I just like hearing you say it."

I could practically hear her rolling her eyes at me. "You're odd."

"That's me, best girlfriend ever," I muttered before backtracking, "Not that I claim to know about your past girlfriends. If you have them," I collapsed back down on my bed and sighed, "You're going to need to get me a muzzle."

"And hide your pretty face?" she quipped before sounding serious again, "If you are curious, then ask."

"I don't need to know. It wouldn't change anything. I just like learning about you."

"Ask."

I chewed on my lip before stating, "You thought I had disappointed you more than the other 'silly girls.'"

I heard a breath over the phone. Not a sigh or a scoff like she was frustrated. Just a steadying breath.

"I was attracted to a friend in high school, and after dealing with the emotional and social ramifications of that realization, I decided to inform her."

"Did she take it well?"

"She kissed me," she stated factually.

"That's good, right? Did you guys start dating?"

"In practice. But she wished to keep it a secret. What we were to each other was never given a name beyond friends. And it certainly did not deter her from attaining a boyfriend our junior year."

I grimaced. "That sucks."

"It was a long time ago." Her voice gave no hint of emotion to indicate the discussion had upset her. Normally I would need to look at her eyes to really know how she was feeling, but I decided to ask a different question.

"Did you come out then?"

"Yes, to my mother."

"Anyone else?"

After a pause, she answered, "No one else mattered."

The line grew silent for a moment. Images of a hard-working but solitary Miranda in high school filled my mind. Had she ever been lonely?

I shook the thought from my head and decided to return to my other curiosities about the topic at hand.

"Was she the only one?"

Miranda drawled, "One young woman decided to maintain other relations while I was studying abroad. Nothing else beyond a handful of dalliances with others. I am limited on time and trust," she stated as a matter of fact before her voice softened slightly, "You are, on all counts, an exception."

Score. The past didn't really matter, but I still wanted Miranda to feel as special as everyone knew she was. And not just because she was a future fashion queen.

Her voice broke my thoughts. "You have already spoken of one boyfriend."

I shrugged to my empty room. "There were one or two in high school. Nothing crazy."

"Only men?"

"There was the stereotypical high school party make out with another girl," I replied sheepishly, recalling the awkward encounters, "But I don't think I was ready to think about what that actually meant for me. It wasn't until I got to college and had a few more of those incidents that I realized it was probably more of a big deal."

"Have you had sex with a woman?"

Memories of another party, this time at college, popped up.

"Yes," I replied firmly. After a pause, I asked, "Was that some kind of test? Did I pass?"

"We'll find out," was the coy response.

"I can't tell if that's good or bad."

Miranda's genuine laugh rang through my phone before she said, "I miss you too, Andrea."

After that, we stayed up late sharing things that had never really come up before. Like how Miranda's favorite period of art was Baroque or that my favorite ice cream was Rocky Road. I confessed how beautiful I thought she was the first time I ever saw her, and she admitted to wishing I had kissed her at the party when we looked at the stars.

I was so pathetic. It was just a few days away from her, but I still felt that small tug in my chest while I lounged around the house, waiting to go back to school. Miranda wasn't just a crush anymore, or even just my girlfriend. She genuinely had become one of my closest friends. We made great partners when it came to work. Her presence simply seemed to compliment my life in a way I had never felt with another person before.

It was amazing. And terrifying.


"Welcome back!"

"Hello, hello!' I called into the apartment, shutting the door behind me, "Ohio missed you this year."

Lilly emerged from the kitchen and walked down the hallway just in time to see me toss my backpack on the ground.

"Yeah, but California at my grandparents' place was amazing," she practically sang, leaning on the door frame where the hallway connected to the living room, "How was the Sachs family fun for the rest of the trip? Last thing you texted me was that you just blabbed you had a girlfriend to everyone."

"It went alright," I sighed, "Dad cornered me and asked about Stanford. Nothing new. They sort of just generally asked about Miranda."

"Oh, speaking of Miranda," my roommate stated oh-so-casually, "she stopped by."

"What?"

"She left you a present in the freezer."

"Did you talk to her?"

'No, I obviously ignored her," Lily replied sarcastically with a roll of her eyes, "She's not exactly talkative. She knocked on the door and asked to drop off your gift and that was that," my roommate paused dramatically before tossing her head back and drawing with a deep voice, "Andrea."

I shook my head as I walked past her towards the kitchen, finding her impersonation a bit lacking.

"There's a reason only she calls me that."

"Oh, come on, I nailed her sultry tone, don't you think?"

I barked a laugh over my shoulder before turning into our little kitchen and proceeding towards the freezer. I was too damn curious to find out what was in the freezer from Miranda. I opened the door and soon found myself grinning as the cold air hit my face.

It was Rocky Road ice cream.

With a still beaming smile, I shut the freezer door and started back towards the den, ignoring Lily's knowing snicker as I walked by. I grabbed my phone and wallet out of my backpack and shoved them in the back pockets of my jeans.

"Where're you going?"

"I told Miranda I'd swing by when I got back."

"Man, I didn't see you over break and now you never wanna hang out with me now that you got a girlfriend." I could tell her tone was more teasing than serious.

"Mhm," I said, placing my hand on my hip as I looked at her, "What time is that boy you slept with on Halloween coming over?"

The room was dead silent. I made a show of crossing my arms and tapping my foot.

"Seven."

"Busted."

We both shared a laugh, and I brushed my hand through my hair as I walked to the door.

"Wanna try and do lunch tomorrow? Celebrate the last day of break?"

My friend's signature, cocky smirk was in place as she sent me out the door with a wave.

"You know it."

Our interaction had left me in a good humor, and my heartrate was already quickening as I made my way to Miranda across campus. My excitement helped shake off the cold.

A student was swiping into Miranda's dorm building with his ID card and held the door open as I walked up, saving the hassle of calling Miranda to let me in her building.

You could tell the building's heat was working overtime now that winter was almost here; it was sweltering inside. My Northwestern hoodie that had made the chilly air outside bearable was now almost suffocating as I trudged up the stairs to the right floor.

When I was walked down the correct hallway, I frowned at the sight of Miranda's open door; she was way too private to be the type that left her room exposed to whoever would walk by. Afterall, she was in a smaller, single person room so she wouldn't have to deal with a roommate. I guess the heat and the fact most of the students weren't back from break yet changed things. As I got closer, I heard the humming of a fan. Then I turned the corner to look inside the room.

Miranda was wearing a pair of overalls.

They were baggy, hanging on her small frame. The suspenders themselves were much too long, and one slid off her shoulder. There was a once-white shirt underneath the jean material, but both articles of clothing were smeared with paint. Dried droplets and lingering remains of countless paintings, the dye splashed wildly in innumerable layers. And then some spots were still barren, happily showing the jean material underneath, fresh and ready for more labors of artistic love. The colors streaked across her hands and her skin, like kisses, still shimmering with wetness and newness.

Her hair was thrown precariously into a bun, and strands rebelliously spilled and darted away from the attempts to bind them. Her face was flushed, as if she had just run a marathon, her mouth parted slightly, as if out of breath. Headphones in her ears had inhibited her from noticing my presence.

She admired the painting so tenderly, so adoringly, as if with each brush stroke, she was making love.

Cool air blowing from a desk fan welcomed me, wrapping me up in the smell of paint and her room. I slowly shut the door without moving my eyes from her and took a step closer, completely enchanted.

She noticed the movement in the corner of her eye, immediately looking up, her face registering shock and then…something else. The edges of her lips turned upward, and her eyelids slowly slide to half-mast. Delicately, she removed the ear buds, her eyes never leaving mine.

"Hello, Andrea."

She was looking at me like I was some kind of painting. I was just standing there in my baggy hoodie and faded jeans, and I'm sure my hair looked untamed after a walk through the windy, cold air outside. But she still looked at me like I was special. Like I was lovely.

She frowned slightly as I simply continued staring, setting her brush aside. The second the brush left her fingers, I rushed to press my lips against hers.

Any shock she felt quickly faded, and her mouth eagerly responded with the same urgency that was pounding through my veins. I needed her. I grabbed at her hips and stepped to pull our bodies close together.

She placed a hand on my stomach to stop the movement. The only answer I could muster was a groan as I moved my lips to kiss the side of her face.

"The paint,"she gasped as I brushed my lips down her neck, "Not dry."

"Don't care," I muttered, moving to kiss the spot below her ear.

Suddenly I was kissing nothing but air.

Miranda took a step back, and I was pleased to see her cheeks were more flushed and her breathing a little ragged.

"It's acrylic, it will stain your clothes. Permanently," she punctuated her speech with a huff, gesturing with a paint-covered hand to her overalls. Some of the splatter must have been fresh. The hand she had used to keep me at bay was not nearly as covered as its partner.

I took a step towards her again, needing to be close. "You hate this sweatshirt anyway."

She shook her head.

"It is what I picture you in. When I think of you," she murmured softly, looking at my clothes with open affection. Like it was precious. Like she didn't want to ruin it.

I grabbed the fabric and ungracefully lobbed it over my head, tossing the bulky mass to the ground. I looked down at the t-shirt underneath, my fingers slowly curling into the cotton to repeat the process. This time I was slower, trying to more gracefully peel away the thin material. Knowing I wasn't fabulous or glamorous but hoping just maybe Miranda would look at me again like I could be art.

When I dropped my shirt to the floor, it took every ounce of courage I had to look at her, open and bare, and mutter, "Is this better?"

Her eyes slowly raked down my body, as they had done so many times before. This time they weren't judging me or my clothes. When our eyes met, I saw her thoughts for what they were.

Pure lust.

And then she rushed towards me.

Her hands practically clawed against my stomach, immediately roving across my skin. Her soft lips pressed hard against mine as we met in what I can only describe as an explosion. Something had changed in those days apart. The furning had finally blazed too brightly to be contained.

As she pressed against me, I only felt a brief chill of moisture from her overalls before the stiffness of the dried paint took over.

I gripped the fabric roughly, needing to feel the body beneath it, and Miranda immediately started to slip the strap from her shoulder. Our hands tugged the jean material down roughly, past the curve of her hips.

Our mouths separated, and I felt our gasps mingle in the space between them. She quickly lifted her shirt, eagerly returning her mouth to mine the second the fabric was gone. I moaned between kisses at the feeling of her skin pressed against mine. Paint and Miranda. The smell was intoxicating. My fingers trailed against her ribcage while my lips brushed her jawline to her ear, to her neck, to her collarbone.

Hands firmly grabbed my shoulders, pushing and pushing until I felt my thighs hit something. I opened my eyes and practically swooned at the image before me. My knees went weak at the glorious sight of her, and I couldn't help but plop down on the bed in awe.

"You're so beautiful."

With a small smile, she bent down to slip the overalls off her legs and onto the floor. She freed her hair from its bun, and her copper curls cascaded down her shoulders. I smirked at the fashionista's simple, nude bra and blue underwear. At this point, the clothes didn't matter. She mattered. We mattered.

She straddled my legs where I sat on the edge of the bed. My hands immediately grabbed her hips.

"You're sure?" I asked, looking up the eyes now hovering just above me.

Her answer was a murmur as she touched our lips together once more.

"Completely."

Her arms wrapped around my shoulders and fingers laced through my hair. I fell back on the bed, and we fell together. She breathed a laugh against my lips, and I couldn't stop my own smile. I don't even remember what I had been wearing underneath my shirt and pants or if they even matched, but they were soon gone. Hers quickly followed.

Things got sort of fuzzy after that. A warm, happy fuzzy. I remember snapshots. The blue of her eyes looking up at me as she descended down my body. Red hair falling across my thighs. Kisses and sighs that made my whole body shake.

It was better than anything I had ever felt before.

I was just so happy it was her. Yes, the delicate motion of her tongue was perfectly maddening, but it was sharing this moment with her that made me so infinitely happy. It was as she touched my body that I realized she had already touched so much of my heart.

When my rigid muscles finally relaxed, I felt gentle kisses against my legs. Miranda rested her cheek against my hip, and I smiled as her hair parted to reveal her sparkling eyes. I could tell she was pleased, and I could only imagine my goofy grin.

Still a little breathless, I reached out to stroke her face, and we both sighed at the touch. Seconds later my fingers were pulling her hand in a silent plea.

She quickly rose to meet my hands that were so eager to cup her cheeks. I held her close and kissed her deeply, pouring every emotion pounding in my heart into the contact of our lips. I tasted myself on her lips.

I wanted her.

Something animalistic snapped inside me. I flipped her over onto her back, and she moaned into our unbroken kiss as I pressed my body against hers.

I wanted to give her everything she had given me.

"Miranda." My voice sounded hoarse.

Her fingers dug tightly into my back.

"Please."

My mouth explored every nearby inch. Her neck, her jaw, her chin, her ear, I couldn't taste enough of her. She whined, and it made me want her more. I nibbled her skin, and she moaned.

I so desperately wanted to make her happy.

My fingers traced her nipples, glided across her ribs, and touched her thighs. I felt every shudder, every delicious twitch of her body as it also shook mine.

"Andrea."

My hand moved between her thighs, and I lightly, delicately touched her there too. My finger moved in circles as soft and smooth as someone whispering the word 'cerulean.' I paid attention to every breath she made like I was studying artwork. My desire was bright and noble like tyrian purple. I returned every inch of affection she had made me feel these past few months back to her, and as her hands gripped my hair and her leg curled around my hip and she gasped and she said my name over and over...I knew she felt the same way.

I laid down beside her, and she curled against me, resting her head on my shoulder.

Her breathing slowly returned to normal. A sigh tickled my neck before I felt her nose brush against me. Post-coital Miranda was happy and nuzzling me. My fingers tip-toed down her spine, and I smirked at the paint streaks that were now dry across my stomach. Who would've guessed this would happen on the first day of French class?

"Thanks for the ice cream," I murmured with a grin, looking down at the woman in my arms.

She hummed as she responded, "If this is how you express your gratitude, I could be convinced to leave you gifts more often."

"This was a pretty nice gift," I chuckled, looking over at the back of her canvas across the room, "Sorry if I interrupted your painting."

"One should not apologize for something if they do not truly mean it."

I glanced back and found her smirking devilishly.

"You're right. Not really that sorry."

"Neither am I," she purred playfully, moving to position herself more firmly on top of me. Her face now hovered a few inches above mine, and her expression suddenly went serious.

"You are exquisite," she whispered.

Before I could answer, she was kissing me, and I was kissing her, and we got lost in each other all over again.


A/N: This chapter is for all you people that kept reviewing even after I had stopped updating ages ago. I still hope to write more, life is just busy. But I love you guys, and the reviews are always so wonderful to see. THANK YOU.