In the Absence of Cloud Nine (part 2)

Miranda emerged from the kiss completely breathless. She was also shivering as if she was cold. But she wasn't. She, actually, was hot, and getting hotter, staring at Andrea's face – flushed cheeks, parted moist lips, dazed hooded eyes.

"Drink," Miranda mustered at last, "I need a drink." The words came out raspy. She licked her lips, swallowed, and said, "Water."

"Okay," the girl whispered, but made no move to comply.

That bemused Miranda. "Andrea," she began, but stopped, when she noticed one of her hands clawed into the girl's shoulder and the other – cradling the girl's head. Miranda frowned at her hands, but they remained where they were. She frowned some more with the same result. What the--.

And besides, where was the purse she was just holding?

The question remained unanswered, because Andrea picked that moment to lean forward, murmur something illegible, and attach her lips to the hollow of Miranda's throat. "Sod the purse," Miranda concluded panting, "I'll get another one tomorrow."

The next puzzle surfaced while Miranda was pinning Andrea to the wall. The girl was making delicious half-mewing half-moaning sounds every time Miranda nipped at her neck, while Miranda's hands, buried deep under the girl's sweatshirt, had their way with the girl's breasts.

"Thanks god, I don't have a coat on," Miranda thought, surrendering to the warmth of Andrea's hands on her back as they seemed to brand her skin through a thin fabric of the blouse. Did she even have a coat?

Well. For a brief moment Miranda considered the question. She must've had it, mustn't she? It was still February after all. But then Andrea pulled her closer, and Miranda quickly made up her mind, "Sod the coat. The Closet is full of that crap."

Later, much later Miranda had one more question regarding her clothes. But as she lied, pressed to the back of the sofa by practically naked Andrea, whose one hand was elbow deep between Miranda's thighs and the other holding her in place as she arched and trembled, Miranda knew that questioning the absence of the skirt made very little sense. Much more appropriate, she thought, hooking her leg over Andrea's waist, would be to contemplate how many orgasms it was possible to achieve in one night. Especially, considering she always believed that having two was a great feat.

Her musings, however, were interrupted, when Andrea twisted her fingers just so, moved them once, twice, and Miranda was tumbling, gasping, shaking, falling--.

She took her time before opening her eyes again. When she finally did, she saw the girl looking at her, a strange expression on the lovely face – a mix of wonder, delight, nervousness, and something else, something entirely unfamiliar. Miranda swallowed hard. "Drink. Uh, could you--" she shifted, and Andrea furred her brow.

"Um--"

"Drink," repeated Miranda and closed her eyes, but not before seeing Andrea's tentative smile.

"Sure. Okay." The girl lingered a bit, then gave her a kiss on the cheek, carefully detached different parts of her body from Miranda's, and got up. When Miranda opened her eyes once more, she saw the girl still standing next to the sofa, looking at her as if trying to commit the image of Miranda to the deepest memory.

Miranda refused to shiver. Instead, she arched a brow.

"Right," Andre blushed and tuned away.

Miranda waited until the girl made it to the kitchenette before getting up and going to the bathroom.

She closed the door tightly and took a deep breath – this was absolutely not what she had in mind coming to see Andrea. Or was it? Miranda exhaled. Well--.

For a long moment she studied her face in a little mirror – the ugly smudges of destroyed make-up, painfully swollen lips, unnaturally burning cheeks. And yet, as revolting as the sight was, for Miranda the worst was to see her own eyes just then – fervently bright, strangely unguarded. Bloody hell--

When Miranda walked out of the bathroom, she found Andrea standing in the middle of the kitchenette, examining a small green bottle in her hands. The girl didn't notice her right way. However, before Miranda had a chance to say anything, Andrea looked up and whispered, "Miranda." And then she smiled.

Miranda swallowed hard – she wasn't prepared to the warmth of that smile. She busied herself with the robe that she borrowed in the bathroom, pulling it tighter around her body, straightening the hem, retying the belt --.

"I didn't know what you wanted," she heard Andrea and had no choice but look at the girl. "I didn't know--," Andrea repeated, trailing off under Miranda's stare.

God, what was that on her face that made the girl gape at her like that? All she did in the bathroom was removed the ruined make-up. She didn't get a Botox or some such nonsense, for crying out loud. With a huff, Miranda sat on a high stool at the counter and arched a brow, "Well?"

The girl blushed, "Um--"

Miranda blinked, but kept looking at Andrea's face. It was only slightly easier than to gawk at the girl's hideous t-shirt, which was just long enough to cover the underwear. Did she even put the underwear back on? Miranda cleared her throat and said, "How long do you think it may take you to procure a drink?"

"Oh." The girl's blush spread. "I--. Would you like tea or coffee?"

"No. Thank you. Just water."

"Oh," the girl said again and reached for a mug. The t-shirt rode up. There was no underwear. Miranda swore inwardly.

Andrea put a mug on the counter. "I don't have any bottled water, except for--" She glanced at the green bottle in her hand.

Miranda squinted at it too. "Well? If it is San Pellegrino, it would do nicely."

"It is, ah," the girl fidgeted.

"Andrea, are you afraid to admit that you have managed to acquire some taste?"

"No, it's just--" The girl looked at the bottle again and suddenly asked, "Do you know if there is usually an expiration date for this water?"

"An expiration date? When did you buy it?"

"Ah. A while ago. Ah. Last May."

"Last May?" Miranda glanced at the girl. "Why would you keep it this long?" However, before she finished asking her question, Miranda knew the answer. Well. She cleared her throat yet again and uttered stiffly, "I'll drink it. It should be fine."

Her ears bright red then, Andrea hurried to fill the mug and move it closer to Miranda, who picked it up and, trying not to show her disapproval of the choice of crockery, took a couple of long satisfying mouthfuls. Still, Miranda's voice sounded rough, when she said, "There should be enough for both of us," and pointed at the bottle.

Andrea's smile made her shiver, and when the girl went for the second mug Miranda had to swear twice. It didn't help at all, because her eyes remained glued to the sight, uncovered by the riding up t-shirt.

Miranda managed to keep herself on the stool long enough to let the girl drink some water. But as soon as Andrea's mug touched the counter, Miranda was up.

"The hell with it," she thought, going around the counter. "I want this," she added as her trembling hands dove under Andrea's t-shirt. "I need--" The girl moaned, hungrily kissing her face, neck, shoulders. "this--"

In the tiny apartment their passage from the kitchenette to the bedroom took over an hour. In the wake of that slow and bumpy journey there was a broken mug, a knocked down stool, a couple of overturned boxes with papers spewed all over the floor, thrown around and badly used articles of clothing, some of which were probably damaged beyond repair (Miranda distinctly remembered at one point wiping her wet hands with a sleeve of her own coat that at the time served them as a spread).

Nothing even remotely similar to this ever happened to Miranda. And yet, lying naked in a strange bed, after trashing Andrea's apartment and destroying most of her own clothing, Miranda felt very much at ease. In fact, with Andrea's head on her shoulder and the girl's limbs wrapped around her, she never felt better.

If only she'd known that lesbian sex was that good--. She smiled.

"Did you, um, enjoy, um--?" Andrea asked into her shoulder.

Miranda wanted to roll her eyes. How many orgasms did it take to appease the irrational insecurities? She could not move a muscle as it was.

Andrea raised her head and looked at her. "Wrong question?" She smiled hesitantly before continuing. "But, you know, last time after you left, I-- I kept thinking that I was crap in bed, that if only I'd done better--"

Miranda snorted. "Andrea, I don't believe your skill is our problem." She took a deep breath and thought if this would be the right time to get up.

"May be, but-- You had others-- You had Michelle, and I--" Silly girl, she was chewing on her lip, carefully examining the pattern on the pillow case.

Miranda really had no desire and saw no need to explain anything. But surprisingly, she found herself doing just that. "Firstly, I did not have 'others'." With a tip of her finger she traced Andrea's jaw line, her lips. "There was only one, if we are talking, as I believe we are, about my associations with women. Secondly, Michelle was," she sighed, "she was just someone I knew a very long time ago."

Andrea was watching her, eagerly awaiting every word.

Well, there was no way around it, and so, running her hand slowly through the girl's short dark strands, Miranda continued. "We both were starting out in fashion journalism. Young. Free. It was in Paris."

"You loved her?"

Miranda sighed again. "I don't know. Does it matter?" She shrugged. "It couldn't work. More than anything in the world Michelle wanted a husband with a manor in the country, children, winter vacations in St. Moritz, and--"

"And you?"

"And I wanted to run a fashion magazine. We both concentrated on our pursuits and we both achieved what we set to achieve. That's all." Miranda closed her eyes. This was probably a good moment to say that she was leaving.

"So, um, do you, um, still see her?" She felt Andrea's head back on her shoulder and instinctively pulled her closer.

"Why would I?"

"Um--"

"Andrea," her hand moved to stroke the girl's back, "I lead a very public life. I simply can't afford such, uh, indiscretions." Speaking of which, why was she still in this bed? And why, for god sake's, couldn't she stop holding on to the girl?

"But do you want to see her?"

"No!" Miranda answered right away. "No."

Andrea noticeably relaxed in her arms. "Good," she murmured, and, after squirming a little searching for more comfortable position, sighed. "Good."

There was nothing good about the situation, Miranda suddenly thought. Trust the girl to completely ignore "I can't afford indiscretions" part. Didn't she understand that it concerned her as much as it did Michelle? And didn't she hear Miranda's "we can't do this" announcement? Well, the later, of course, turned rather irrelevant in the light of events of this evening. Still, this craziness had to stop. "Andrea."

The girl mumbled something and squirmed even closer.

"Andrea." Miranda opened her eyes and patted the girl's shoulder. "Andrea?" The only response she got was the girl's deep, even breathing. Oh, great. What was she going to do now?

Miranda frowned. Should she wake up the girl or simply leave and call her later? Or write her a note? Or…

When Miranda opened her eyes the next time, a thin ribbon of daylight sneaked into the room through slightly parted curtains and was warming a pillow near her cheek. Feeling unusually content, Miranda tried to stretch, and then the realization hit her – a wrong room, a wrong pillow, a wrong bed. The feeling of contentment instantaneously forgotten, she tensed, as if getting ready to fight. But as she slowly turned to look at her companion, whose back was currently molded into the curves of her side, Miranda began to panic.

Oh, hell--

Oh, hell!

It took her several long moments to calm down enough to be able to assess the situation at hand. When she finally did, she knew right away what she had to do.

With utmost care Miranda crawled out of the bed and crept to the door. There she stopped and looked back. She watched a blanket-covered shoulder rhythmical rise and fall, until there was absolutely no doubt that Andrea was still asleep, before heading to the living room.

Tiptoeing around, Miranda quickly collected her belongings, or what was left of them (like her ripped blouse) anyway. Bur what started as a mad dash, soon slowed down. Miranda paused several times, listening to the sounds that she thought she heard coming from the bedroom, and, when she went to the bathroom to clean up and get dressed, for the first few minutes she just stood there, looking at her reflection in the mirror.

When Miranda returned to the living room to get her coat (which, thankfully, didn't appear too sullied, except for some suspicious marks on the right sleeve), she lingered, checking the content of her purse, adjusting and readjusting her scarf, putting on and taking of the gloves.

Finally Miranda glanced in the direction of the bedroom for the last time, pivoted on her heels, and headed out. Only--.

Only--.

Only she never made it to the door. As she passed the kitchenette, a small green bottle, left on the counter, caught her eye. Miranda's gait faltered. No. She looked away. No. Then she stopped and slowly, very slowly, turned back to look at the bottle.

Her legs, as if she'd been running for miles, suddenly weak and weary, Miranda slumped against the wall. No. No! She refused to be roped into -- into this. This was madness. This was idiocy. This was--.

Miranda straightened up, pursed her lips, and stomped back to the room. She threw her coat and her bag on the sofa, with a bang deposited the green bottle into the trash and a survived mug into the sink, and sat primly at the kitchenette counter. Moments later she heard a soft "Miranda?" coming from the bedroom.

The girl walked into a living room and exclaimed, "You are here."

Miranda didn't turn to look at her. "Obviously."

"I thought you, uh, left," Andrea murmured.

"I'm not planning on being here all day, but I can be persuaded to stay for a cup of tea." She glanced over the shoulder at the girl. "Do you have any?"

Andrea's hand flew to her face to cover a sob, and Miranda quickly looked away, suddenly feeling peculiar – apprehensive and calm at the same time. While she pondered over it, she heard soft footprints behind her, and then a pair of long arms wrapped around her and hot puffs of a whisper burned her ear, "Anything for you, Miranda. Anything."

She shivered, but mustered a bit of a bite, when she said, "I hope that with the tea you can provide something more seemly than those awful mugs. I'd appreciate it very much." In response there was a soft, warm laughter. Miranda held on only for a moment before allowing herself a real smile. This was worth it. Andrea was worth it. That's all.

Fin.

A/N Thank you all for reading and reviewing.

I know that a lot of people didn't like the ending of the first story ("Five Encounters"). Hope, you like this ending better. And yet, I have to tell you that, while I consider the "Encounters" a story of "what could have happened," this story is definitely "what could have never happened in a million years, but I really-really wanted a happy ending, so I did my best to bring the girls together."