Chapter 6: Conclusion - "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash

Saturday morning, Andy made a trip to the gym, hoping to work off some of her nervous energy. When that had no effect, she did a top to bottom cleaning of her loft even though she had a professional service that came through each week. It gave her something to focus on besides the pending dinner date.

Finally, she turned her attention to freshening up and finding something appropriate to wear. Settling on a DKNY pantsuit, she stopped at a wine shop en route to the Priestly residence before remembering Miranda's wine restriction. As she stepped back out onto the street, she remembered a great bakery that Nate had liked several years ago, just a couple of blocks away. Deciding to take a chance on it still being there, Andy strode down the street.

Once she had a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of French bread, she hailed a taxi for the duration of the trip to the Priestly townhouse.

Miranda opened the front door before Andy reached the top step. As the door closed behind her, the older woman proffered a hand to take Andy's pashmina shawl. Once it was tucked inside the foyer closet, Miranda turned and quickly pinned the younger woman against the closet door.

Andrea easily gave in to the passionate welcome, sliding her free hand behind Miranda's neck as tongues greeted one another and lips sucked and pulled as if they had been separated for much longer than just one day.

When they parted, Andrea watched as Miranda stepped back and scrutinized her pantsuit, the action done unconsciously, facial expression revealing nothing.

"Dinner should be ready in a moment." Miranda turned on her heel, her fluted black Calvin Klein skirt swirling about her shapely legs, a sight not lost on Andy, who rapidly followed down the hall and into the large, bright kitchen.

"There's a cutting board and bread knife over there," Miranda pointed to a small countertop at one end of the room. Andy slid the loaf of bread out of its bag, somewhat embarrassed to see it had been slightly mashed on one side, a casualty from the passionate greeting moments before.

Miranda strode over and pulled a cutting board out from a slot just under the countertop with one hand, the other hand briefly brushing against the younger woman's lower back. Andy removed a bread knife from the magnetic utensil strip against the wall and began slicing as Miranda stepped away.

"What do you think of this?" a goblet with a small puddle of deep burgundy liquid appeared next to her elbow.

Andy lifted the glass, swirled, sniffed briefly, sipped the liquid. As she did so, she saw Miranda's blurred image through the side of the glass. There was no mistaking, distortion or not, the hungry look in the older woman's eyes, which were focused on Andy's mouth. The young woman wondered, as she lowered the goblet, if the look was directed at her lips or at the wine entering her mouth. It had to be torture not to be able to enjoy something one enjoyed so much.

"Mmm. Almost heaven."

"That's how a French merlot should be." Miranda took the glass and filled it, deftly twisting the bottle as she finished pouring, preventing any stray drops from escaping. Andy paused in her bread slicing as she watched the woman pour another glass, mesmerized by her every move. Miranda, unaware she was being watched, set the second goblet down on the island, studied the bottle label in one hand, while her tucking a soft curl of hair back behind her ear. Andy detected a small smile on the woman's face and was warmed by the sight. Miranda walked further off, carrying the open bottle through an arched doorway into another room, breaking Andy from her reverie.

After a small pause, the brunette took a small slice of the bread, nibbled at it and sipped at her wine as she finished her handiwork on the loaf.

A small basket lined in a goldenrod cloth landed next to her. With a chuckle at Miranda's timing, Andy transferred the bread into the basket, carried the cutting board and knife to the kitchen island. As she placed the knife in the sink and wiped off the board with a damp kitchen cloth, she was stunned to see Miranda reach for the wine glass there and take an appreciative sip.

"I, um, I thought wine gave you migraines."

Miranda raised a defiant eyebrow, pink cheeks betraying her otherwise stoic face.

"I'm learning that sometimes pain is a necessary risk in pursuing what I love most in life. Would you mind getting the salad from the refrigerator?" Andy watched, frozen in place as Miranda used a set of potholders to carry a steaming hot pan through the archway.

They wordlessly went about dinner, each having a small salad, a healthy slice of the lasagna with warm French bread, and the delicious Merlot. Neither seemed ill at ease with the lack of conversation. As they cleared away the dishes and cleaned up, Miranda poured them each a tall glass of Pellegrino. Andy wondered if the woman owned stock in the company, considering her brand loyalty.

There was something calming about the ordinariness of loading a dishwasher and hand-washing a few of the more fragile items, the routine activities of domesticity comforting.

"That goes in the drawer over there." Miranda pointed a soap-bubble covered pink glove across the room.

As Andy slid the silver serving spatula into the drawer indicated, she heard Miranda emptying the sink and rinsing off her gloves. She returned to Miranda's side and watched as the older woman toweled off the gloves, shed them, and tucked them away into a lower cabinet.

Andy marveled at the curve of hips, of buttocks while Miranda was bent over. As Miranda returned upright, the brunette wrapped her arms around her waist, rest her cheek on the nearest shoulder. She marveled at the warmth of the woman in her arms, snuggled into the curve of Miranda's spine, enjoying the soft, subtle perfume and the almost silent breathing as ribs expanded and contracted under her touch.

Andy heard a click from the front of the house and realized the Book was being delivered. She waited another minute or two for the sound of the front door opening and closing again before she released her grasp and stepped away, reluctantly.

"I really enjoyed this evening. I, um, think Charity just dropped off the Book, and I know you'll need to catch up, after being gone all week."

Miranda turned her head so fast, Andy thought she'd have whiplash, "No." The vehemence of her statement accentuated by a fierce look.

"You have…night things in your luggage, I assume. I would like your company while I look over the Book."

"So, you…want me to spend the night?" She lifted an eyebrow, questioningly. Admittedly, after Miranda's hesitancy at intimacy just a couple of nights ago, it was a little surprising to be invited so soon to…oh, the fantasies that ran through her head.

An exasperated sigh re-established her place in reality, "Unless you have a pet goldfish requiring your imminent return home – yes, I mean for you to stay."

Andy held back a giggle, "Sounds like a great idea." Nervously, she reached back to check that her hair clips were still in place.

"Good. I'm sure your nightwear is more flattering to your figure than that outfit-it doesn't suit you." Miranda crossed the kitchen and paused before Andy. She leaned in and, with one hand at Andy's cheek, gave the younger woman a brief kiss.

"So is this outfit worse than the Vera Wang I wore on Thursday?"

"I loved the Vera Wang. Very flattering. Although, the colors didn't complement your skin tones. There is very little about this particular outfit that works for you – except the prospect of its removal." Fingers landed at Andy's hip, then slid down to caress and cup a buttock.

Andy could feel, with each kiss, each caress, each touch, each look an increasing need for so much more. She could feel the thrum of blood surging to her fingertips, her breasts, her thighs, her groin – everywhere that came in close proximity to the older woman. At the same time, she was caught off guard by Miranda's sudden ease at displaying her desire.

When they separated, Miranda gave Andy's wrist a brief tug, moving towards the front of the house. She slid off her black-and-white 'Marilyn Monroe' shoes, picked them up in one hand, hefted the Book from one of the entryway tables, and began to climb the stairs.

Andy grabbed her carry-on sized suitcase from where it sat near the umbrella stand, following in hot pursuit while struggling to slow her breathing and control her hormones. When they reached the third floor landing, Miranda led her into the Master suite. The room had high ceilings and was decorated in a minimalist style that made the space feel almost cavernous.

"The bathroom is through there."

Andy set her bag down on a bench at the foot of what appeared to be a king –sized bed. She pulled out a few items of clothing and her toiletry bag then disappeared through the doorway Miranda had indicated. A few minutes later, she emerged, hoping that her rapid heart rate wasn't obvious.

Miranda was sitting atop the bedcovers, wrapped in a teal silk robe, paging through the Book. As Andy crossed to the bench at the foot of the bed, she could feel Miranda peering at her over her reading glasses.

"That is certainly unique bed attire."

Andy grinned, devilishly, "You like?"

She twirled around, attempting to ignore the butterflies fluttering through her. Andy knew that the black D&G men's boxer briefs paired with an equally dark Betsey Johnson eyelet-laced camisole top was far from what would ordinarily be classified as pajamas. She bit her lip and hoped that Miranda wasn't going to give her non-traditionalist attire a disapproving pursed lip glare.

"I do. I'll only be another few minutes with this-I prefer to do the majority of my review work in the morning."

Andy breathed a sigh of relief at the assessment and laid her clothes on top of her open bag, slid out a book. She crawled under the covers, plumping her pillow before settling in. Miranda held true to her word, and within fifteen minutes shut the Book and placed it on her bedside table. She slid off her reading glasses, set them and her pen aside, and went into the bathroom. Andy continued to attempt to read the book she was holding, but her vision was blurring and her mind, between fuzzy moments, could only focus on where Miranda was, when she would return, and the myriad possibilities for the night.

Several minutes later, when Miranda ambled back to bed, Andy was slumped over. She circled around to where Andy lay, lifted the paperback from Andy's lap and read the cover. The young woman was stirred awake by the movement.

"Andrea, 'Creative Capitalism?' Is this something you are actually interested in, or do you simply use it as a sleep aid?" Andy chuckled as she watched Miranda drop the book to the side table. She rubbed her eyes as Miranda sat on the edge of the bed. Without her make-up, Miranda's face wasn't nearly as pale, and the fine lines around her eyes, along her forehead, were more visible.

"Andrea, I think you should know that I'm not much of a night owl."


"And I'm fairly tired right now."

When there was no response, Miranda continued, playing with the belt on her robe, "You are very attractive, Andrea. I don't want you to think…I DO want you…"

Andy could sense the tension in the woman as she sat there. She pulled her long hair back behind her shoulders while fighting thoughts about the silk robe just in front of her – and exactly how thin that silk might be if she reached out to comfort Miranda – the temptation to caress, to tease. Her brain almost short-circuited as she imagined the feeling of warmth radiating from Miranda to her own, eager hands.

With a steadying breath, she studied Miranda's face.

"I've waited six years and almost nine months. Obviously a good thing is worth waiting for." The intensity of her smile seemed directly connected to the older woman's shoulders, which relaxed in response.

"You Stanford women are remarkably adept at focusing on the bottom line," Miranda turned off the lamp on Andy's side of the bed, raised the covers, and forced her body into the small space between the edge of the mattress and Andy's scantily clad body.

Caught off guard, Andy automatically slid over a little, allowing Miranda more room. A snowy white head settled against her, resting partly on her shoulder, partly on the pillow. She felt the older woman stretch out along the length of her body, an arm reaching across her mid-section and a bare leg thrown unceremoniously over her thighs. At this point, her brain did short circuit. She took shallow breaths, focused on the sensation of Miranda's fingers curved along her chest wall.


Andy smirked at the blunt statement, her mind grasping a task she could manage to accomplish. She reached over, flicked off the lamp on Miranda's side of the bed and settled back into place. For several minutes Andy lay there, wondering how she could possibly fall asleep with the warmth of Miranda's body emanating through the caress of silk against the vast expanse of her own exposed skin. Indeed, the material was as thin as she had imagined.

The pondering didn't last long, though. Miranda had fallen asleep almost immediately- the soothing feel of the older woman's breath on her shoulder and the sleeplessness of the previous few nights collaborating to lull Andy into a deep slumber.

"Mmmm," Andy felt a chill and unconsciously reached for the sheet to pull over her head.

"Awake so early?"

Andy's mind fumbled over why she was hearing Miranda's voice. With a groan, she tugged at the sheet tangled around her torso, working the material up and around her shoulders.

"Well, there goes the view."

Andy fell promptly back to sleep.

Some time later, she stirred again. Turning over in the bed, she pried open an eye. From beneath a mess of her chestnut locks, she could see that Miranda was sitting up, the robe replaced by a long-sleeved white t-shirt and…Andy couldn't see any more of the outfit, vision obscured by hair and pillow.

"Good afternoon," Miranda stated, her eyes not leaving the Book in front of her, edges of multi-colored sticky notes visible along the horizon of Andy's vision.

"Mmmm." Andy raised up, propping herself up on her elbows to silently watch the review process while studying her bedmate at the same time. Miranda's hair was perfectly coiffed, as usual, but what Andy really enjoyed seeing was the fact that Miranda's face was still natural – she hadn't put on her make-up as yet. Andy felt a certain privilege in being allowed beyond the other woman's usual walls of protection.

"What time is it?"

Miranda flipped a page, scribbled a note across a picture, "A quarter past seven."

She watched as Miranda studied another page. The woman made a clicking sound with her tongue, scribbled furiously.

"Um, how do you know what time it is without looking?"

Miranda glanced up from the Book, grey-blue eyes twinkling at Andy over the lenses of her reading glasses, vision focusing on exposed cleavage.

"Internal clock."

"Really?" Andy raised her head up a little more, scanning the bedside tables. No clock. She turned over and sat up, looking around the room. Not a digital or mechanical clock in sight. She relaxed back down on one side, now propped on just the one elbow.

"You doubt my testimony, Counselor?" There was a teasing tone to Miranda's voice.

"Just verifying the facts." Andy finally realized that Miranda's vision was focused on her chest. Smiling wickedly, she reached up with her free hand and gently pretended to scratch along several inches of lace trim over her left breast. Miranda bit her lower lip and she shifted her gaze back to the Book for a second before returning to the camisole.

"And you think a quarter past seven justifies a greeting of 'good afternoon'."

"Andrea, the sun and I have been up for hours."


"Four thirty."

Andy groaned, collapsing down against the mattress for a moment, "You're a morning person."

"Always have been." Miranda returned her attention to the Book in front of her, although the pen in her hand remained still.

"So, you've been going over this since you woke up?" Andy tapped the spiral bound volume sitting in Miranda's lap.

"I did my stretches, showered, dressed, coffee and then, yes. This."

"I think I preferred that silk robe," Andy commented, noticing the loose-fitting grey yoga pants hiding Miranda's shapely legs.

Miranda's smile lit up her face, eyes crinkling and cheeks infused with a warm glow.

Andy sat up fully and placed a kiss on the nearest of those cheeks.

Miranda tilted her face towards Andy, reached out, and pulled her in for another kiss. Someone's hands pushed the Book to the side and both of them pulled at each other, Andy eventually sprawling over the older woman.

"Ow." Miranda reached up to remove her reading glasses and toss them in the direction of the bedside table, followed shortly by her pen. She grasped Andy's shoulders and turned over, pinning Andy to the mattress. A hand found perch on Andy's camisole-covered breast, squeezing then pulling the dark material down to graze fingertips over the goose-pimpled flesh, warming the skin as she went.

Andy felt Miranda's moist kisses trailing along her throat, a tongue probing the notch at the top of her breastbone. The tongue retracted and the kissing resumed, moving towards the exposed breast. Andy gasped as Miranda's teeth grazed her puckering nipple. While the woman nipped, sucked, and licked at her nipple, one hand pressed against the underside of her exposed breast, the other hand tugging down the material still covering her other breast.

Andy arched her chest upwards, now fully awake and very aroused. She used one hand at the back of Miranda's head, gently clutching at hair. Miranda slowly kissed across Andy's chest, gently brushing her lips into a valley before climbing the upwards curve of the opposite breast. Andy glanced down to see Miranda grinning like a Cheshire cat before firmly biting at the very erect nipple.

"Oh. Oh."

Between nips and licks, Miranda murmured something unintelligible.

"What?" Andy replied, not truly caring what the woman had said, mostly because she was afraid that repeating the comment would require a pause in the passion being unleashed upon her.

Miranda raised her head, hair tousled, "Andrea, did you have a question?" Palms continued to press against firm breast tissue, massaging as she dared Andy to speak again.

"I thought, I thought you said something."

Impatiently, the older woman rolled her eyes, "I said 'So good.'" With a sigh, Miranda cast her gaze back to one of Andy's breasts, lowering her head to suck sensitive flesh.

"Mmm- Miranda. Oh. Oh, yes." One of Andy's hands reached down, landing on the fabric of Miranda's top. She tugged and pulled at it.


Miranda ignored her, kissing her way back up, trailing fingers along ribs, along sternum, caressing her lips along the base of Andy's neck.

"Off," Andy pleaded.

Miranda raised her head, brought her lips down upon Andy's. As they hungrily kissed, Andy's impatience to feel Miranda's skin led her hands down Miranda's sides, then back up, clasping the shirt hem. There was a brief pause as their torsos separated enough for the shirt to be freed, and they both took a moment to gulp in air while Andy yanked the white cotton shirt over the woman's head.

"No bra?" Andy mumbled, both excited at the concept, but also irritated that she hadn't noticed the lack of bra before this moment.

"I had…hopes." Miranda gasped out.

Andy rolled their bodies over, blood thundering in her ears as she took hold of the camisole bunched up around her midsection and divested herself of the garment altogether.

The firm, warm skin pressing down on her own soft flesh caused Miranda to release a slow moan that seared Andy's groin, which she reflexively pressed against a hip. With a start, she felt Miranda pushing her thigh up, the pressure causing delicious agony.

They slowly rolled back over, Andy sliding her hands over the exposed skin of Miranda's back, thoroughly enchanted by the smooth texture and soft pliability as she massaged her hands slowly down, pulling Miranda's hips against her. She felt a hand slide between them, caressing her stomach before moving across the boxer briefs and down to where the cloth ended high on her thigh.

Miranda's hand slid behind her, squeezing the firm posterior muscles of her right thigh.


Fingers teased under the bottom edge of the briefs, circling forward, climbing up to the crease of Andy's groin before retreating.

"Remove these."

"Please?" Andy's voice suggested, breathlessly.

Miranda raised her eyes to glare at Andy, whose own face registered shock that such a challenge had escaped her lips. They stared at each other for a moment. The older woman smirked.

"Please what?" She cupped Andy through the briefs, fingers teasing the fabric.

"Please…please…Mir-anda." Nimble fingers had crept up her abdomen and then slid back down snaking their way between the briefs and moist curls.

She wasn't sure, but Andy thought she heard a gasp as fingertips dipped into her slick, warm folds. Suddenly, Miranda's lips were on hers as the older woman stroked against her clitoris. Andy's arms tightly held Miranda against her, lower lip being sucked between the other woman's teeth even as two fingers slid into her.

Fingers pumped and twisted, and Andy felt her body clench, then shudder, her body exploding.

"Thank you," Andy managed to whisper as her senses returned to her. She felt Miranda slowly remove her hand, wiping fingers gently against the boxers before wrapping around her hip and pulling her in close.

As Miranda nuzzled her neck, holding the younger woman against her, Andy enjoyed each breath entering her lungs.

"Considering how cautious you've been, this was a welcome surprise."

Miranda pulled her head back a bit to stare into Andy's warm chocolate irises.

"You were present when we spoke – in the plane, in the car. I am under the belief things were resolved. I see no reason why moving forward would be a surprise."

Andy raised an eyebrow, "But last night-"

Grey-blue eyes rolled, "Last night, as I explained, I'm simply not a night owl."

The younger woman, for some reason, found the eye-roll endearing at this moment and leant in to kiss a meticulously arched brow.

"That was a wonderful way to wake up," she tickled her fingers against Miranda's warm ribs. Feeling the older woman squirm a little, she tickled a little more, chasing Miranda across the bed, onto her back. Her face hovering over the patrician nose, the dancing grey-blue eyes, and the most relaxed smile she had ever seen grace Miranda's face.

"You are so beautiful," she leant in and began dropping the lightest of kisses along a high cheekbone, down to the small, pert mouth. Her hand traced up from ribs to a warm, soft breast. She gave it a slight squeeze, her forefinger brushing against the nipple.

"An-drea," the husky voice sending a wave of pleasure through her as she continued to caress the body beneath her. As Andy brought her lips, tongue to Miranda's earlobe, she slid her hand down to a hip, pulling it up against her descending thigh.

Andy's brow furrowed in frustration as she paused to grasp material and forcibly yank the yoga pants down.

"Hopeful enough to skip the underwear, too?" Andy queried as she bowed her head to look down Miranda's body, long locks of her dark hair falling in a cascade around her face. When she tilted her head back, her irises were thin, amber rings of fire surrounding her dilated pupils.

"You were hopeful."

Miranda's hands, shaking slightly, rose to Andy's face as it hovered over her. Pulling the hair back, she cupped Andy's cheeks.

Neither spoke for a moment as they gazed upon one another. Then, Andy lowered her lips to Miranda's chest as her fingers worked to remove the yoga pants altogether. She felt knees bend, making it easier to slip the clothing off. She pressed a palm high on Miranda's inner thigh and slid it down, then danced her fingertips faintly back up again.

"Oh, wow. You are sooo wet," Andy's voice full of awe as she slid a couple of fingers between folds. Her thumb brushed Miranda's already swollen clit, eliciting a small gasp and a buck of the hips. She kissed and nipped along a clavicle while tickling a fingertip at her mate's opening.

An arm clutched at her back, causing Andy to smile against the warm skin under her mouth. Slowly, she pressed her finger inside, then slid it back out. Tilting her head to watch as her hand moved over Miranda's sex, Andy could smell the intoxicating scent of Miranda's desire.

As her finger slowly moved in and out of Miranda, thumb teasing her clit, Andy kissed her way across to the nearest breast, gently biting the swollen nipple. She licked and nipped down to the tender tissue at the underside of the soft mass, then worked lower to explore Miranda's navel with the tip of her tongue.

It took every ounce of self-control for the lawyer to move slowly, temptation just inches away. She laid wet kisses in a trail over a prominent pubic bone, descending into the short, sparse dark red curls interspersed with glistening white hairs.

At this point, Andy shifted her body so she was could tuck her right arm under one thigh, her hand curling around to spread open moist lips. As the fingertips of her left hand continued to tease Miranda's opening, she lowered her mouth to blow warm puffs of air over a pearlescent clit.


Andy grinned at the exclamation, took pity, and gently began to stroke her tongue over the spot, lapping up the moisture.

"Mmm," her lips closed over Miranda's now quite firm bud, sucking it into her mouth as a finger continued to tease at the woman's opening. Within seconds, Andy felt thighs closing around her ears as the older woman's body tensed.

Andy's left arm pulled one thigh away a little, her hand gently massaging the expanse of skin. She lifted her lips, took a breath.

"Shh, relax." She kissed a random spot along the thigh. "Just let go. I've got you." Andy lowered her head again, sliding her tongue into Miranda's opening before sliding it upwards and across her clit, which she again pulled into her mouth. As she applied gentle suction, her tongue tip teased against the taut flesh. Slowly, Andy slid a fingertip inside.

"Let go," she said again, but the words were almost indecipherable. The vibration of her voice shot up through Miranda's body and the woman gasped, body convulsing. As the legs around her head went limp, Andy gently nuzzled against Miranda's sex, setting off small aftershocks.

She crawled up the warm body, curled against the Editor's side.

Eventually, Miranda felt her vision clearing, her sense of hearing return, and the world around her settle back into place. She reached up and finger-combed her hair.

"That," she cleared her throat, turning towards Andy, "That was well worth waiting more than six years for."

~That's All~

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