Disclaimer: Same as always. I do not own these characters. I have no intention to infringe anyone's copyright. I just play with them and then put them back.
Rating: NC-17 – NSFW
Pairing: Big shockaroo there. Andy/Miranda
Summary: The party is over and Andy is the only one left apart from Miranda. Miranda seems distant and a bit strange, something Andy cannot ignore, even if the rule is you never ask Miranda anything. When the answer leads to something up close and personal, Andy realizes she could never, ever resist Miranda Priestly.


A MirAndy short story by

Gun Brooke

I closed the door behind the last of the guests after handing a woman her fur. The catering staff was done with their last cleaning up and moved the garbage and their gear out the backdoor. As it had been only a cocktail party, not a full, sit-down dinner, there wasn't a lot of stuff, considering.

Passing the large mirror in the foyer, I glanced at my reflection, automatically double-checking my appearance before I joined Miranda in the living room. I wore a sleek, black Calvin Klein cocktail dress, understated silver necklace and earrings, and red Blahnik pumps. My long, brown hair in a French twist and the long slender earrings made me look quite elegant. Or "acceptable" as Miranda's overwhelming praise stated.

I was worried about her. She mingled with her usual flare, working the rooms like the pro she was. Everybody who was anybody in fashion in New York was there at one point. For Miranda to host an event at the townhouse was rare. Normally this was her sanctuary, hers and the twins'. Tonight I watched her stealthily and something…was off. Her wit wasn't as scathing, her alligator smile trembling at the corners of her mouth, and several times, she pinched the bridge of her nose, which made me think she may have a headache.

Entering the living room, I saw her standing by the fireplace, staring into the dying flames, a glass of red wine in one hand, the other wrapped around her waist as if holding her together. She was pale, probably tired after accommodating her guests for hours on end.

"Everybody's gone." I walked up to her, cautious as if she was a wild animal.

"Catering too?"

"Yes. Just you and me here."


I blinked. Did Miranda just say 'finally'? "Are you all right?"

Miranda shot me a quick, narrow glance. "I'm fine."

Oh, boy. That went well. Yet something about the still, no, rigid, woman made me muster what courage I had. I spotted half a bottle of Pinot Noir sitting on a side table. "Mind if I have some wine now that everyone's gone?"

"Help yourself." Miranda sipped her glass, but then lowered it, frowning at me. "What do you mean 'now that everyone's gone'?"

"I always pretend to drink when I'm on the clock at a function with you." I was amazed she hadn't realized. Obviously I was good at faking the sipping.

"I see." Losing interest, Miranda shrugged and returned her gaze toward the flames.

I fetched a glass from Miranda's cabinet in the kitchen and poured it half full with the smooth, ruby red beverage. Sipping and actually swallowing I couldn't help but moan in sheer bliss. I walked up to Miranda and sat down in one of the armchairs the caterers put back in their usual spot at the fireplace before they left. I pulled my legs up after kicking off my pumps. Or, rather, Runway's pumps. Everything I wore, including the La Perla underwear, was from The Closet, Runway's vast storage of clothes, shoes, lingerie, and so on.

Miranda stood for a moment and then simply sank to the floor in one graceful, flowing movement. The rug in front of the fire was made of faux fur and I knew Miranda's twin girls loved hanging out on it, playing board games, working on their laptops, or listening to music. Now their mother, so elegant in her spaghetti strap wine red cocktail dress, sat on it, her back to my chair. She placed a few more logs on the dwindling fire and brought it back to life.

Miranda's white hair was just within reach had I been suicidal enough to run my fingers through it like I wanted to. Tipping her head back, she closed her eyes and sighed.

"I thought this evening would never end." Miranda unclasped her bracelet and pulled off her earrings.

"Should I leave?" I asked, my voice low. I really didn't want to go. I wanted to sit here and watch what this new and different Miranda was going to do.

"Did I say that?" And there was the slight pursing of the lips.

"No. I just—" I stopped talking when the purse didn't go away.

"May I ask you a personal favor, Andrea?" Miranda said, chocking the hell out of me.

"Anything." I meant what I said.

"Bold word." Miranda turned slightly so she could gaze up at me through her eyelashes. "I know you're off the clock as of…" She glanced at the old grandfather clock. "As of two hours really. I hadn't planned on the cocktail party lasting this long. Some people can't take a hint when it's time to leave."

"I don't mind staying longer. For as long as you want. I mean need." I fiddled with my wine glass and then thought better of it and drank from it instead.

"Good." Miranda mimicked me and sipped her wine. "Well, now." She leaned back again, but this time, due to her shifting position earlier, she ended up with her head on my left thigh.

I barely kept from flinching, not to mention moaning, and now my fingers took on a life of their own. I pushed my greedy hand into her meticulously coiffed hairdo, undid the hair sprayed effect. Unsure why I wasn't afraid of being tossed out on my ears, I let my blunt nails scratch her scalp gently.

"Oh, God," Miranda murmured. "How did you know this is what I meant to ask?"

"I didn't." I reveled in the scent wafting up from her. Shampoo, perfume, Pinot Noir, and that special, slightly sweet and musky scent that seemed to be all Miranda's own.

"Don't stop."

"You have a headache?"

"Mm-hm. Not a bad one. Just annoying."

Well, we couldn't have that. I placed my glass on a coaster on a side table and engaged both hands. Going from scalp scratching to a regular massage caused Miranda's breathing to catch and become deeper. I knew a few tricks when it came to headaches and pressure points, having helped friends and family members many times. I took hold of the upper part of Miranda's ears and massaged them gently, but insistently, between my fingers.

Groaning softly, Miranda placed her glass on the floor, leaning back farther into my touch. "That's amazing," she whispered.

"Isn't it?" I held the frail shell of Miranda's ears between my fingers and kept the pressure even as I gently massaged her. "Is it helping any?"

"Mm-hm." Her eyes closed, Miranda reached up with both hands and held onto my lower arms. She rubbed gently back and forth, as if encouraging me to keep going.

My skin broke out in obvious goose bumps at the fact that Miranda Priestly was touching me. Not a mere hand-in-the-small-of-my-back or accidental brushing of fingers when items changed hands, but deliberate and…even urgent.

Experimentally, I eased up on touching her and immediately her nails pressed insistently against my skin. "No," she moaned. "Don't stop. It's helping."

I of course complied. Another unexpected pleasure from where I was sitting was the unobstructed view straight down into her décolleté. She wore a strapless lace bra, and her dress from this angle showed that and a lot of skin down her abdomen. My fingers itched to touch her there, as did my lips and tongue.

Shocked at my strong and persistent reaction, I hoped Miranda wouldn't need much more the massage as I wasn't sure I could keep myself from acting on my feelings.

"Andrea…" Miranda breathed my name and I flinched.


"What do you think of Paris?"

"P-Paris?" Oh no, was she going to bring up my not-so-fine moment in Paris last year when I nearly walked out on her when her entire world nearly crumbled. "It's a lovely city, I've heard. Really only saw the venues and the airport last time."

"Yes, I know. We should go back," Miranda said dreamily. She sat up and my leg immediately missed the warmth of her body. "You and I should go on a four day weekend." She pushed down the spaghetti straps of her dress. "Would you mind massaging my trapezius muscles? I'm sore." She glanced quickly back over her shoulder. "It's your prerogative to decline. You're not on the clock after all."

As if I would say no to another chance to touch this woman? Hardly. "Lean back more against me." I pulled the hem of my dress up so I could change to a lotus position. I started with just my fingertips, glad I kept my nails short and blunt, examining her muscles with a tapping motion. She was indeed tense and I placed my palms against her, warming her. "So, Paris? Something for Runway?"

"No. Something for us. We need to revisit Paris, don't you think? So much happened there."

Had I walked through some weird force field and stumbled upon an alternative universe version of Miranda? She never spoke like this. She certainly didn't acknowledge that we ever lived through that particular drama nine months ago. "Yes, but…I thought we moved on. I mean, professionally. We work well together. Or I think so, anyway." Perhaps Miranda didn't think we did, deep down, and thought I needed…what? A reminder what nearly happened when I showed up at the hotel after ditching her and the phone—the latter in an old Parisian fountain? Didn't she realize those hours when I fretted over my actions, over her actions, were the defining moments that made it possible for me to touch her now? Then again, how could she understand? This woman was fearless. She owned the world around her, including the people working for her.

It's your prerogative to decline. You're not on the clock after all.

Miranda's words replayed in my mind. My hands worked her sore muscles and I could feel her relax. Her eyes were closed and she hummed almost inaudibly as I lessened the pressure. My massage morphed into caresses and still she remained on the floor before me, head tipped back, arms now limp against her sides. I slid my hands forward, gently rubbing the muscles just below her collarbones. This made her eyes open to narrow slits, but she didn't object. I kept going in small circles.

"Mm. Yes. Like that."

Did she mean I did it right like that or the she liked it? I had no idea, but I wasn't going to second-guess. The dress plummeted down between her breasts a good four inches, revealing the roundness of the tempting globes. I don't know when I decided to just go for it. It couldn't be courage stemming from the few sips of wine I just had, more folly from an overwhelmed heart and a treacherous body.

I slipped my fingers just barely under the hem of Miranda's neckline. The skin on her shoulders and upper chest was like satin, but here, it was even smoother, even softer. Miranda gasped, her eyes snapped open and I was sure she was going to use her most scathing and eviscerating tone as she demanded an explanation for my boldness. Instead her back arched and she sucked her lower lip in. Raising her hands, she didn't push mine away, but held on to my lower arms again, keeping them in place.

Braver now, I dipped lower, reached the edge of something made of lace. Her bra. I was shaking now, but forced my fingers to remain on course. I wanted to touch her so badly; I was ready to offer my soul to the devil. I pushed at the bra as my hands discovered more and more of her breasts. Miranda was breathing faster and her grasp of my lower arms firm.

I found her left nipple first. I leaned more to that side, to reach for her, and managed to push the bra all the way off in the process. My hand slipped and then I was cupping her left breast. Her nipple was as hard and puckered as her breast was soft. I pulled my hand back just enough to take hold of the pebbled tip and now my mouth watered. I wanted it in my mouth and had no idea how to go about it. If I moved, Miranda might stir enough to clear her mind and then realize what a horrible idea this was.

"The right one," Miranda murmured, startling me.

I almost said, "Huh? What?" when I realized just what she meant. My cheeks warmed to a burning glow as I obeyed gladly. Cupping the right breast and rolling the left nipple between my fingers…I was in heaven.

Clearly Miranda was of a similar opinion. For a while. She pressed her head back against my leg and shifted, looking more and more impatient. I now rolled both nipples and shaped them diamond-hard.

"Andrea…" Miranda pulled my hands out from under her dress and I could've wept. I nearly did, but she pivoted on her knees and took me by the shoulders. "I know you don't understand where all this is coming from, but answer me this…am I assuming too much? Do you realize that you're not my assistant in this moment?" She almost shook me.

"I do," I answered firmly. I shifted and stretched my legs out, wiggling my toes and ankles to get the blood flowing. Standing up, I had Miranda sit in the chair. "Do you trust me?"

Miranda looked cautiously at me, tilting her head to the side as if really giving thought to my question. "Always." Her voice sounded matter-of-fact, but her eyes were so bright and blue it was hard to look into them for very long; they burned me.

"I know I'm not your assistant now. You're not my boss. I would never hurt you so I'm asking you to keep trusting me and I'll do my best to make you feel…very good." The last two words sounded utterly lame in my ears, but apparently not to Miranda. She colored faintly and her body slumped back in the large, plush chair.

I notice, not without delight, how her dress, which was not as tight as mine, had slid up as she sat down. It still covered the front of her thighs, but I could tell it had ridden up all the way in the back. Fantastic.

I cupped her calves and pulled her toward me. Maneuvering the back cushion for her to be comfortable, I now had her sitting on the edge of the armchair and her dress was up around her hips. She wore thigh highs which clung to her slender, pale legs as if they were glued there. Her panties, lace of course, were totally see-through and boy, did I look. Silver, well-trimmed hair formed a 'V' above the junction between her thighs. I glanced up at Miranda who was trembling. She flung her arms above her head and held on to the top of the cushion.

I pushed the lace to the side and slid my fingertips along her labia. Very sexy, but for what I meant to do, the stunning lingerie was only in the way. I pulled them down her long legs, slowly, slowly, and this, oh God, made her actually whimper.

"Andrea," she repeated. "Please."

I tossed the discarded panties behind me and spread Miranda wide. The surreal nature of this situation was not beyond me. Had anyone suggested I'd be on the verge of going down on my boss only an hour ago, I would've knocked their teeth out for being cruel. Now, I inhaled her intoxicating scent as I slid my lips along the inside of her thighs, murmuring her name. "Miranda. So beautiful." And she was. Tousled after my ministrations in her hair, rumpled as her dress was all bunched up, and spread wide for me, looking so deliciously wanton.

A small voice in me kept asking why this was happening, but mainly, I couldn't stop myself from taking what she offered. I kept kissing the skin on my way up to her core, but then realized I hadn't even kissed her lips. What kind of lover did that make me if I went straight for her sex without as much as a peck on the lips? Unless she didn't want to kiss me? Well, tough luck, because I wanted to kiss Miranda.

I know I startled her when I pulled her toward me by the shoulders. Her eyes widened and she managed to gasp my name before my mouth closed over hers. It was as if I'd electrocuted her. She jerked twice, violently, and then her arms were around my neck and her tongue in my mouth. I matched her passion and kissed her back, my tongue just as eager for her. She tasted like magic. Wine and chocolate in an enticing blend and I moaned into her mouth. Miranda pressed so hard against me, I knew I wasn't going to be able to stay upright. Making sure neither of us hurt ourselves, I allowed us to tumble onto the rug. Miranda was now on top of me and it was as if she'd come back to life. She found my zipper in the back and pulled it down, tugging the dress off me with a few, not very careful yanking motions. I admit I helped willingly. My lingerie came off just as easily and so did the rest of hers after she tossed her dress into the chair on top of my clothes.

I was now stark naked with an equally undressed Miranda Priestly on a fur rug in front of a fireplace. Even wine was present. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought she planned it.

Miranda stilled, gazing down at me under half-closed eyelids. She slid her fingertips over my breasts, creating goose bumps and making my nipples as hard as her own. Where her nipples were dark pink, mine were more the color of her dress, wine red. Miranda stared at my breasts, fuller and larger than hers. Younger, I suppose. She lowered herself slowly, opened her mouth, and sucked my nipple into it. Whimpering, I arched and ran my fingers through her hair.

"Miranda…oh, God…"

"Mm." She hummed around my nipple, a sensation that made me moan.

She alternated back and forth between my breasts and I kept fondling her, as much as it was possible at this angle.

"I have to…have to…" Miranda was murmuring absentmindedly as she shifted and moved down between my legs. She'd been sitting across my hips and I could feel how wet she must be as she left undeniable traces when she moved. I slipped my hand down and managed to push some fingers in between her folds. She gasped and stopped moving as I found her clit. Engorged, wet and so sensitive, it made her cry out as I slid two fingers back and forth on either side of it. I smiled up at her.

"Good?" I whispered.

"Oh, yes." She began undulating against my fingers and it was the sexiest thing I've ever seen or felt. Miranda squirmed as tremors permeated her system. "Inside," she moaned. "It's what I want. What I need." She bent down and kissed me hard. "It's what I've wanted for so long."

I tried in vain to fathom the magnitude of her words. What she'd wanted for so long? For me to…to fuck her? Or more? I just didn't get it. As it were, the firestorm-like arousal inside me drowned out anything but the fact Miranda wanted me. This, more than anything else right now, was what my brain latched onto. I didn't know for how long, but she wanted me in this instant and I couldn't resist her. Not if you'd put a gun to my head could I have let go of her. I sat up, holding her against me as I pushed two fingers inside. Immediately, she began moving, rocking and riding my hand. Miranda clung to my shoulders and then wrapped her arm around my neck.

Our breasts rubbed together and the sensation of her hard nipples grazing mine was driving me toward my own orgasm, but I didn't want to come without Miranda's direct touch. "Touch me. Please, Miranda." I dared to tell her. It was even easy to tell her. What was impossible to express was how I wanted her to make love to me, not just have sex. I just couldn't say that.

"Yes." Miranda pushed her hand down, passed mine and ventured in between my legs. "I can't."

What? I flinched. What did she mean? My heart suddenly thundering in the depth of my throat, I merely stared at her.

"You have to spread your legs more, Andrea," Miranda said huskily. "I can't reach."

Feeling stupid as hell when relief flooded my entire system, I pushed my legs apart, thus forcing hers apart even more. Miranda cried out, not from pain, but something else that made her clench the fingers I had buried to the knuckles inside her. Now she rubbed my clit and this put me on the fast track toward coming. I tried to hold back, but, please, how could that be even remotely possible when the woman I adored, when Miranda was riding my hand and cupping my entire sex. I was so wet, she slipped into me. She looked at me, her eyes huge and asked belatedly, "This all right?"

"Oh, God yes. I want you so much. I've wanted this for so long too."

"Yes?" She smiled before she captured my lips again. Her kiss this time was less ferocious and more…tender? She caressed my tongue with hers, using the same pace as our hands. Nibbling my lips, she hummed with pleasure and again, I flooded her hand at the mere sound. I was going to come. There was no holding back and why the hell would I want to?

Because I didn't want this to be over if this was all I was going to get. If I let go now, and then hopefully she would do the same, what if she decided she'd gotten me out of her system or something? If she then called Roy to take me home after writing me off—

"Andrea. Don't let go. Don't ever let go." Miranda leaned her head back and regarded me with fire in her eyes. "I couldn't bare it."

That was it. Her pleading voice combined with the fiery passion did me in. I arched so much I almost fell over and she increased the speed with which she made me hers, her hand working like a piston between my legs. I cried out her name. I think. I'm pretty sure I did, several times. The orgasm tore through my abdomen and singed me all the way down my thighs. As she pulled her fingers out, I threw myself in her arms. Somehow, I kept my own hand going, curling my fingers and thrusting them deeper inside her. Miranda whimpered in my ear, whispering my name over and over. And then, she squeezed my fingers so tight, over and over, and I held on with my free arm so she wouldn't fall either.

"Andrea, oh, please, please," Miranda sobbed, gasping for air. "S-stop. Oh, God, I can't take this much…pleasure. I can't."

"Yes, you can," I decided boldly. "You can come again. Right now." I'm not sure how I knew this, but I did. I pulled my fingers out slowly and instead played with her clit, barely touching it. My fingers were slick and hot, and when I increased the pressure just a little, Miranda began to tremble again. Gently, I pinched the now extended and engorged clitoris. Wanting to put my mouth on her, I decided I had to wait until next time as I hated the idea of letting her go. I prayed there'd be a next time. I wanted to hold her like this forever, and especially when she was so close to coming again. "See? You're almost there, baby," I whispered, not noticing my slip until it was too late. "You can do this."

"I can. I can. I have to." Miranda held her arms so tight around my neck, her face buried in my hair, chanting just below her breath. "I must. Oh, God, Andrea, don't let go."

"I won't. Come for me."

"I…I…Ah!" Tossing her head back, she pressed herself against my hand in deep, long rolling movements. So slick and hot against me, Miranda shook, wailed, and it was such a profound moment, tears leaked from my eyes, mingling with the beads of sweat trickling from my temples.

Gazing at Miranda, I saw she was sweating too. As she lowered her chin and dazedly met my eyes, I saw her eyelashes stuck together. Was she in tears as well? Why? Could it possibly be she was as emotionally affected as I was or was I reaching?

I slowly extracted my hand from between her legs, mindful not to jar her. Still she shivered at the touch, no doubt extremely sensitive right after what had looked like a mind-blowing orgasm. She still clung to me and made no motion she was ready to let go anytime soon. I caressed her back, up and down, small circles. Miranda tilted her head and pressed her lips to mine. She didn't deepen the kiss, but merely kept moving her mouth against mine, slow little strokes that made me feel…worshipped, for lack of a better word.

"Mm," I said, sighing against her caress.

"Yes?" She moved back just enough to utter the word.

"No. Just 'mm'." I smiled and kissed her, this time with just a little bit of tongue.

Miranda chuckled and returned the kiss. "Mm."

I shivered. Thinking it was of arousal, I kept kissing her, but then I started to shake and I realized I was not only starting to feel cold, but I recognized other signs in my body. I hadn't had anything to eat after the guests began to arrive. "Uhm, Miranda?" I murmured against her mouth. "I got to get up."

"What's wrong?" Miranda pulled back and cupped my cheeks. She looked into my eyes, frowning.

"Nothing major, but I need something to eat. I get really weird when my blood sugar goes down."

Miranda managed to both look calmer and slightly alarmed. "What do you need?" Oh, sweet Jesus, she was cute when she was in efficiency mode.

"A banana. Anything really. Cheese sandwich. A glass of milk." I shrugged, my teeth now clattering. Talk about breaking the mood. "Sorry." I hadn't stopped caressing her back.

"You have goose-bumps." Miranda hugged me briefly and then let go of me. I was close to panic at the lost connection, but then she pulled me to my feet and, grabbing a soft throw from the back of the armchair, wrapped it around me. "Let's go to the kitchen."

Fifteen minutes later, I was perched on a barstool at the kitchen island, the blanket exchanged for a thick, blue cashmere robe. Miranda wore a similar wore tan one. Now she place two steaming mugs before us and climbed the stool next to me. I gazed at my mug of hot chocolate, tiny marshmallows bobbing around together with a sizable dollop of whipped cream. I sipped it carefully, it really was center-of-the-sun hot, and it was as if it permeated my whole body, carrying the sweet, chocolaty wonderfulness via my veins. The fact Miranda made this for me and now sat next to me, so very close, sipping her own hot chocolate, made it perfect. Surreal, yes, but perfect. We sat in silence, both replenishing with the dark, sweet beverage for a moment.

"I can hear the wheels turning," Miranda stated calmly. "What's going through that ever agile mind of yours?" She looked at me with opaque eyes. Guarded. And was it just my imagination or was she breathing in exact, measured breaths?

"I'm thinking…how wonderful you are. How cared for I feel right now. It's been a long time since anyone did that." I'm not sure how I dared to be this candid, but it was impossible not to. "I'm also a little afraid."

"Afraid? What for?" Miranda had raised her mug again, but now lowered it, looking alarmed.

"It's as if I've been to paradise for a brief moment and now I'm afraid that it might be just this once. Just for tonight."

Miranda cupped her hands around the mug next to her as she was now sitting sideways, fully focused on what I was saying. "And you wish to return there?" She smiled a little wryly, not at my wish, but probably at my calling it paradise. I admit, it sounded a bit over the top, but it was nonetheless accurate.

"I wish to stay there." Oh, God, did I just say that? Did I just invite myself into her life like some presumptuous idiot? Tears rose again and I was so certain she'd say something that would shatter me. How could she not? Oh, why hadn't I stopped to edit my words before I spoke? I wanted to take them back so badly I could hardly breathe.

"Andrea?" Miranda placed her mug on the coaster on the counter and took me gently by the shoulders. "Why the tears? Do you fear me so much?" She looked sad at the thought. "You speak of paradise and yet I get the impression you can't bring yourself to have any sort of…faith in me."

"No, it's not that." I wanted to clarify what I meant without sounding like a complete fool. "I'm trying to explain, but I'm coming off as too presumptuous. Like I'm making demands or something and that's not it at all." I put my mug down next to hers.

"I disagree, but go on." There was a hint of the Miranda I usually saw, acerbic and stern, but somehow that steadied me.

"Okay." I tilted my head, rubbing my cheek against her hand on my shoulder. I placed my hands on her thighs, leaning closer. "The short version. I loved every moment of making…making love with you. I've dreamed of it for a long time."

Miranda stood, startling me. She stepped in between my legs that parted so willingly, automatically, to let her in. "I'm not prepared to let you go, Andrea," she said, cupping my cheeks. "Whatever you mean by paradise, I felt it…no, feel it too."

My pulse had strangely enough slowed while I spoke my truth to Miranda, but when she voiced hers; my poor heart began to thunder as it raced in my chest. She felt it too. Perhaps not in the exact way I did, but she felt something.

"Miranda." I rested my forehead against her shoulder. "Oh, my God." Now I could only whisper.

"Not sure he can help you. You seem to accept being stuck with a much-older, grumpy sort of bitch."

My head snapped up. "You're no such thing." I looked at her, aghast.

"I can be." Smiling softly, Miranda tucked my hair behind my ears. "I can be that and more, but right now, I'm not. You bring out another version of me."

"I love all versions of you," I said and then slapped my hand over my mouth. Oh, fuck, now I've gone and done it. Shit, shit, shit! I was going to have a full-blown panic attack any second and Miranda would realize—

She kissed me. Hard. Then her tongue slid across my lips once, twice…I parted my trembling lips and let her in. She kissed me as if she punished me, but also with such desperate passion. My entire body became limp and I could barely keep myself upright, but she held me close and kept me safe. Safe. The word bounced in my head like I was a human pinball machine. Miranda made me feel safe. As lethal and scathing as she could be when displeased, she still reassured me with her mere presence. And when she kissed me like this, oh God, she made me feel I could have it all. All as in her.

"M-Miranda," I said weakly when she let me breathe for a moment.

"Hush." Miranda combed through my hair with her fingers, over and over. "I'm asking you to trust me, darling. Please."

Darling. Please. She really said those words.

"All right." I nodded slowly.

"Yes?" She stopped fiddling with my hair.


Miranda hugged me closer, burying her face at my neck. She kissed my skin, pressed her lips against my fluttering pulse.

"Why were you looking so sad after everyone had gone?" I heard myself ask.

"I've had one of those days I detest. When all I can think of is I'm coming closer to that date when I'll lose you." Miranda's honest words, uttered with such a matter-of-fact voice, devastated me.

"Lose me? You won't lose me." I held her closer.

Leaning back slightly, Miranda gave a beautiful smile. "Not now, no." Her smile waned. "But earlier, all my evil brain would conjure up was how your tenure is up for renegotiation. You've earned the glowing letter of recommendation that will open doors for you wherever you'll seek employment. I wasn't going to stand in your way as you moved on. This rare bout of selflessness made me realize I'd invested more in you than I thought. In other ways…and when my mind gets stuck in a loop that way…" She shrugged. "As you could tell, it give me a headache if left to its own devices."

"And is it unstuck now when I blurted out how I really feel?" I asked cautiously.

"No." Miranda kissed me briefly. "But it changed topic."

"Oh?" I was at a loss, but as long as she looked at me like this, her eyes warm, her expression tender and relaxed, I wasn't going to worry about it.

"Andrea Sachs," Miranda said and pulled me off the tall chair and into her arms. "Don't you realize you've taken up permanent residence in my mind—as well as my heart?"

It was as if the axis of my world righted itself and my stars aligned. For Miranda to utter such words—it was as close she could come to saying she loved me, without actually saying it. Judging from the smoldering look in her eyes it wouldn't take very long.

"What do you say we bring the last of our hot chocolate with us upstairs?" Miranda stood and briefly let go of me.

I took her hand in mine and reached for my mug. "Ready."

Tossing her head back, Miranda started laughing. For several moments the amazing sound trickled through me, dissolving my insecurities regarding this brilliant, wonderful woman—at least for now.

As we ascended the stairs, hand in hand and with topped up mugs of hot chocolate in our hands, I couldn't remember ever feeling so buoyant and alive. I was with the woman I loved and I had just received some reliable intel, she loved me back.