When Andy awoke, it was to the gentle feel of fingers sliding through her hair. During the night, she had moved to the side, leaving her head resting on Miranda's shoulder and one long leg thrown across a thigh. Her fingers had withdrawn and her palm now cupped her lover intimately. She pressed a kiss to soft skin, before lifting her head to meet a warm gaze.
"Good morning, darling," Miranda greeted her, brushing tousled hair back from her love's face.
"Morning. What time is it?" she mumbled.
"A little after six."
Dropping her head back down, Andy groaned.
"That's just cruel," she groused. Her hand pressed against the treasure it held. "Though this is nice."
Miranda shifted slightly, lightening the pressure.
"This, as you refer to it, is a bit sore this morning," she cautioned.
"I can't imagine why," Andy teased.
"Yes, well, perhaps when you're a bit more awake, your memory will improve," Miranda huffed.
"My memory is just fine," Andy laughed, her fingers gently beginning to tease the curls under them.
The older woman hissed.
"I'm serious, Andréa. I possibly understated, in fact."
"I'm serious too, very serious," Andy assured her. "But then I'm always serious about loving you."
"Andréa, I don't think-,"
"Good choice," Andy cut her off, fingers becoming a bit more insistent as she began to shift over and down her lover's body. "You know you like this, Miranda. You always start out protesting and end up begging for more." Her head dipped as she replaced her fingers with her tongue.
Miranda moaned and slid down closer to the source of her pleasure. It was true, everything Andréa said. She did like it, though she never had with anyone else. Her lover's tongue was always soothing and when the brunette would penetrate her the burn from the soreness made it all just that much better. Andréa would not take her as hard as she had the night before, but neither would she be gentle with her. Closing her eyes, Miranda gave herself up to the incredible sensations her love was providing.
When next she awoke, Miranda was very glad she had insisted that the two of them clothe themselves just in case the twins awakened before they did. It had proved to be a providential move as a pounding began on the bedroom door promptly at 8:00. Slipping from under a long arm that wrapped around her waist, she moved to unlock the door calling softly for the noise to cease. She had barely gotten the door open before, having caught sight of who still rested under the covers, two red-headed blurs and a furry streak charged past and dove for the bed amongst twin squeals of, "Andy!" and an equally excited "Woof!"
The loud "Umph" the brunette gave as she was buried under wiggling children and one large dog brought a peal of laughter to Miranda's lips. Patricia had refused to be separated from the twins since the furry colossus took up her guarding position in the kitchen the previous morning. She was evidently very excited that they were once again happy. Though if she crushes Andréa, we'll all be right back where we started from, Miranda thought as she moved to rescue the younger woman from an excess of affection. As she drew closer to the bed, she found she couldn't bring herself to break up the affectionate free-for-all as the girls both tried to strangle Andy with hugs while Patricia licked her to death. Wanting to just laugh with her family for the first time in days, Miranda threw her dignity in one direction and herself on the top of the pile, arms around them all.
Ellen followed the sounds of squeals, barks and laughter down the stairs from the guest room to Andy and Miranda's bedroom. Leaning against the door jam, she smiled, watching the entire family rolling around tickling and hugging, happy to once again be together whole and loving. She'd had her reservations about Miranda Priestly at first, but there had been no doubting the depth of Andy's feelings when her daughter had come home convinced she'd lost the woman she loved, nor the sheer joy Ellen saw on her child's face now. Andy was exquisitely happy with Miranda, her children and that small horse they called a dog. What more could a parent ask for? Like most mothers of grown children, Ellen wanted grandchildren and she thought these two would do very nicely. If she was lucky, she'd have even more, from Richie if not from Andy.
"Hi, Mom," Andy greeted, catching sight of her mother over Caroline's shoulder. "Help me! I'm being mauled here."
"Yes, well, don't damage my grandchildren. They're the only ones I have," Ellen laughed back.
Andy's already huge grin reached enormous proportions as two red heads whipped around to stare at her mother.
"You mean it?" Caroline breathed as Cassidy shot their mother a pleading look.
"Well, of course I meant it. Why else would I have said it? Andy can be very heavy handed without realizing it," Ellen teased even as she arched an eyebrow questioningly at Miranda whose smile and small nod sent the twins rocketing across the room to hug their new grandmother. "Why don't you two come downstairs with me and we'll start breakfast so your mother and Andy can get dressed?"
With twin shouts of glee, they each grabbed a hand and began to drag Ellen downstairs chattering away about making Andy's favorite dishes, followed closely by their fur clad shadow. The voices faded away and silence once more reigned as Andy lay on the bed catching her breath fingers idly stroking through silky white strands.
"You okay with that?" she asked Miranda, stuffing a pillow under her head to better see her lover.
Glancing up from where she'd rested her head on Andy's t-shirt covered stomach, Miranda smiled.
"Yes, darling, I'm very okay with that. I effectively have no family and Elliott's mother...well, the less said about her the better. Suffice it to say, I am not her favorite person, a fact she does not try to hide from my children when they visit. It makes things very difficult for all involved. I think it would be very beneficial for the girls to have the experience of loving grandparents, who do not despise their mother. Even if those grandparents are the same age as myself," she finished with a sigh.
"Young grandparents will be around a long time, Miranda, just like their mother," Andy stressed. "It's the love that's the important part and they'll get lots of that from all of us. Besides, now they'll have a whole other set of grandparents to go visit on school holidays, leaving us to struggle along…all by ourselves…in this big house…all alone. Whatever will we do?" The young woman's smile took on an evil appearance that left Miranda with no doubt what the younger woman had in mind for their 'alone' time.
"Whatever am I going to do with you, Andréa?" she admonished.
"I have suggestions," Andy grinned wiggling her eyebrows.
Miranda laughed and rested her chin on the taunt muscles. "I would not have thought otherwise; however, right now we need to shower and dress. There should be a veritable feast waiting for you by the time we get downstairs." She rose from the bed and held out a hand to Andy. "Wash my back?" she asked with as close to an innocent smile as she could manage.
"And everything else you've got," Andy laughed, taking the offered hand.
"You're so accommodating." Miranda tugged on the hand in hers and led the younger woman to the master bath. "After breakfast there are a few things we need to discuss, such as your moving in." Among other things, she thought, not at all convinced the body found in Andy's apartment was a random event. There was no way she would allow her lover to go back there to claim so much as a dishcloth until the killer was safely locked away. If the event was connected to the younger woman in any way, then hopefully, her staying at the townhouse would make it harder for her to be found just in case anyone was looking. After all, who would expect a reporter to be hiding in the home of the Queen of Fashion.
Breakfast had proved to be a rollicking affair. Ellen had made pancakes in the shape of a famous mouse, something she had been doing since her children were small to celebrate their big days. She couldn't imagine a bigger event than returning from the dead. Cassidy kept piling pancakes on Andy's plate while Caroline drowned them in syrup. Miranda, who normally would have shuddered at the amount of carbs the younger woman was consuming, simply smiled and helped herself to two with a small drizzle of syrup. The laughing and teasing continued throughout the meal. Ellen and Richard imparted tale after tale of Andy's antics during childhood while the twins listened in rapt amusement, teasing Andy over some of the more embarrassing stories. They sighed over the romance of Ellen and Richard having been high school sweethearts and squealed when it was revealed their new grandmother had been a cheerleader. They had promptly dragged the woman upstairs to challenge her to a round of cheerleading competition on their Wii.
After cleaning up the kitchen, Miranda and Andy had gone upstairs to watch only to find the twins and Ellen in a heated but good natured debate. Ellen had beaten the twins two games out of three and Caroline was hotly objecting, claiming Ellen had an unfair advantage as an "experienced" cheerleader. Ellen defended that having been a cheerleader over thirty years in the past had nothing to do with a game that was based entirely on hand/eye coordination. Richard was too busy laughing to referee, so Cassidy turned pleading eyes on her mom and Andy.
"Caroline," the name was said in Miranda's normal quiet tones but there was an edge of caution laced throughout.
The red-head froze and blushed. Looking up at the elder Sachs female from under her lashes, she apologized.
"I'm sorry. I wasn't being a very good sport."
Ellen smiled and hugged the girl.
"That's quite all right, Caroline. How about we play again and I'll give you a chance to catch up?"
The girl grinned and nodded her acceptance. She was restarting the game when Miranda took Andy's hand to lead the young woman further along the hallway to her study. Closing the door and leaning against it, she watched the brunette settle herself into one corner of the couch, legs tucked beneath her and arm stretched along the back of the couch. She found it hard to believe that only yesterday she had been in this room listening to a voicemail and thinking it would be the only way she would ever hear Andréa's voice again. Joining her girlfriend on the couch, Miranda entwined their fingers on the couch back.
"I got a text from Jo this morning. She's coming by later." Andy advised her, wanting to get the preliminaries out of the way since Miranda tended to bring her into the study for their more serious discussions.
"I spoke with Serena while you were dressing."
"You called Serena?" Andy questioned. She would have thought Miranda would have called Emily's cell.
"I called Emily," Miranda corrected her. "I spoke with Serena who answered. I suppose, given the circumstances, I shouldn't be too critical of Emily not answering her own phone."
"Ya think?" Andy quipped. She loved being the only person who could get away with being sarcastic with Miranda and live to tell the tale, though she exercised the privilege sparingly. No sense in being reckless, after all.
Miranda rolled her eyes in mock irritation. "Yes, I quite often think, Andréa. You should try it some time. It can be quite enlightening."
Andy laughed and squeezed the fingers entwined with her own. She really loved Miranda's sense of humor. The trick was knowing when Miranda was teasing and when she was serious, as nothing about her tone or expression differentiated between the two.
"They will be here after lunch. I did give Serena forewarning. I have little desire to see Emily spread out on my living room floor like a lumpy British rug." She immediately launched into a new topic and left it to Andy to catch up or be left behind. "I was very serious about you moving in, Andréa,"
"You're sure it's not too soon?" Andy asked. She very much wanted to live with Miranda but she didn't want the other woman rushing into something in a knee jerk response to the events of yesterday. The look of affection she received from Miranda went a long way towards reassuring her.
"The actual asking might have been moved a bit forward by recent events, but the intent to do so has been there for quite some time. I simply did not wish to rush you. Thinking that you…that I might never see you again made me realize how foolish it would be to wait if we're both ready to take this step. I know that I am and can only hope that you are as well."
The look Miranda gave her girlfriend was filled with hope and just a touch of fear of being rejected. If Andy knew anything about Miranda it was that the other woman hated putting herself in any situation that left whoever she was dealing with in a position of power. That Miranda was doing so now went a long way in reassuring Andy that her moving in was not something the other woman had suddenly decided would be the right thing to do. Had that been true Miranda would simply have demanded that Andy move in with her. Making her feelings clear and then leaving the decision in the younger woman's hands left Miranda in a vulnerable position which spoke volumes about her trust in Andy to never intentionally hurt her.
Reaching out to caress one porcelain cheek, Andy smiled gently. "Of course, I'm ready. I just wasn't sure you were."
Miranda leaned into the caress even as she rolled her eyes and huffed. "We really must work on your communication skills, Andréa."
"My communication skills!" Andy stared at the other woman in disbelief. "I didn't hear you speaking up before now."
"Well, of course not. You're the more aggressive member of this relationship," Miranda responded as if that were understood.
"Only in our bedroom, baby," Andy defended herself. "Everywhere else you call the shots and you know it."
"Which only serves to prove my point, Andréa, as it will be our bedroom you'll be moving into." Miranda's smirk was pure triumph.
Andy opened and closed her mouth in an attempt to respond several times before she finally gave up and laughed.
"If you ever become any less difficult to deal with, I'll know a pod person has taken your place, Miranda."
"Really, Andréa," she sniffed, followed a moment later by a very un-Miranda like squeal as she found herself drug across the couch to lie half atop a long, warm body. "Expanding your territory to my study?" she gasped.
"Yep, if I'm moving in I plan to branch out. You might be surprised at the amount of 'territory' I decide to conqueror," Andy husked as she brushed her lips lightly against Miranda's.
"Oh, my," was the only response Miranda had time for before her mouth was very much dominated by the woman lying below her. It was the last coherent thought she had for a while, able to only respond to the woman who took control of her body so easily.
Later as they lay curled together on the wide couch, Andy napped as Miranda lay holding her and watching her sleep. Miranda had been mildly surprised that after their first time together when Miranda had led the way, it was Andréa who more and more had taken the lead in their physical relationship, a situation Miranda was amazed to find was extremely comfortable for them both and would have amazed anyone who knew either of them. Having reached legal age in New York at the beginning of the 1980's, Miranda was no stranger to sexual roles. For anyone just starting out in fashion at that time it was important to be seen in the right places and with the right people. Her natural aura of command and elusiveness brought many of the 'beautiful people' into her sphere. It was during that time that she had first met Nigel, who knew many of the more selective haunts to which Miranda's beauty and poise quickly earned them entrance. She had both worked hard and played hard, experimenting with anything that struck her fancy at the moment though always being circumspect about her dalliances. It was good to be seen and be talked about; however, she knew that any hint of scandal would put an end to her career before it even had a chance to take off. For that reason she chose her partners carefully and well. Yet, she had never allowed herself to be topped, not with her lovers nor with her husbands. Sex was always on Miranda's terms, until Andréa. That the younger woman was clearly her top, Miranda never questioned. It was just how it was with them. She felt safe, protected and loved. For the first time she had placed complete trust in a lover and had no desire to change anything about their interactions. In fact, she was once again beginning to feel the desire to experiment but only with Andréa as her partner.
All of which made maintaining her lover's safety paramount in Miranda's considerations. She had no intention of going through what she had the previous day again. She would protect Andréa if it took every last dime she had ever made. Being poor with her family intact did not frighten Miranda at all. Being without any one of the three people who held her heart terrified her beyond belief and she would fight with a viciousness that would stun even her most ardent detractors to ensure she never had to know that feeling again.
Hearing a car pull up out front, Miranda left Andy and her mother talking in the living room and went to answer the door. Before she had reached, it swung open and Emily stalked in, having used her key for The Book to gain entry. She barely spared a glance for her boss rather issuing a clipped, "Where?" Surprised at the young woman's audacity Miranda merely pointed towards the living room and followed along with Serena as the Brit strode across the foyer.
Serena offered up a helpless shrug. "She's been pacing the apartment all morning. She refuses to believe it until she sees it for herself," she quietly informed Miranda who simply nodded. After yesterday, Emily had earned the editor's tolerance, as least this once.
Emily entered the living room and made directly for Andy who had risen at her entrance. Without a word, she threw her arms around Andy's necks and hugged her tightly.
"You are real," she whispered, her voice catching. They stood together quietly until Emily pushed away and stepped back. In as haughty a manner as she could manage with a tear making a slow track down her cheek she glared at Andy.
"Right. You should know that the next time you get involved with something like this, it had bloody well better be you because as soon as I find you it will be."
While the rest gasped and Miranda glared, Andy threw back her head and laughed. "I love you too, Em. So does this mean I get regular hugs now?" She teased.
"You may be alive, but you're quite obviously brain damaged," Emily snapped.
"Emily," Miranda's quiet voice cautioned. She would never understand why her lover seemed to adore someone who was as likely to snarl as to smile at her. After a moment's reflection, she decided to count her own blessings that her Andréa had that remarkable capability.
Serena and Emily only stayed long enough for Miranda to provide a list of what needed to be handled back at the office. She had every intention of working from home until she was sure Andréa was safe.
Jo arrived as the two were leaving and she, Miranda and Andy retired to Miranda's study. Declining the offer of a drink, she sat in a leather end chair while the other two took the couch.
"Andy, I need for you to stay here at Miranda's and keep out of sight," she plunged right in. "We went to Carol Steven's apartment and it was ransacked. We found evidence there that leads us to believe it was her we found in your apartment, some photos and the rest of the set of luggage. We still won't know for sure until the DNA results are in, but since no one has seen her in the past two days and she missed her shift at the Mirror yesterday and today, it looks like that's who it is. I'm sorry, Andy."
Miranda reached over and quietly took her lover's hand. With a grateful squeeze, Andy sighed and leaned back into the couch.
"I really didn't know her all that well, like I said. She was relatively new at The Mirror. She'd been there about three months, kept to herself mostly. It was luck of the draw that we ended up on this story together."
"What can you tell me about the story you're working on?" Jo asked.
"A tip came in from one of our informers about a number of young homeless women going missing from a shelter. They all seemed to be relatively new to the city. Only seen around for a couple of days before they just vanished. They weren't exactly high on anyone's priority list. We spoke to people at the shelter and found out from a social worker that one of the girl's had called her mother the night she disappeared. He thought they had worked something out and the girl was going home. When she wasn't there the next morning, he thought she'd left to do just that so no one thought anything about it. That's where I was yesterday, talking to the girl's mother. She said her daughter was supposed to call her back the next morning and give her instructions about how to arrange for a ticket home. She hasn't heard from her since."
"I need the names of the people you talked to and the name of that informant," Jo stated fully expecting to be stonewalled and Andy didn't disappoint.
"You know I can't give you that, Jo," she shook her head.
"Dammit, Andy, one woman's dead and since it was your apartment, you're probably meant to be next. I don't have time to play Constitution games with you," Jo shoved long fingers through her hair frustrated that her friend wasn't cooperating.
"They all requested to have their names kept out of it until there was something solid." Andy wasn't budging.
"I think a murder is pretty damned solid, Andy," Jo snapped.
"You don't even know for sure the two are connected," Andy defended herself. Jo knew the rules just as well as she did.
"Yeah, actually, we do. Your boss got a phone call this morning warning him off the story unless he wanted to lose another reporter. The caller knew it was Carol that was dead and threatened to come after you. So you're not on a story at this moment. Your editor pulled the plug. Now you gonna help me or not?" Jo stared hard at her friend, trying to will the younger woman to give her what she needed.
Without a word, Miranda stood and strode out of the room as they both stared after her mouths agape. Moments later she was back with a reporter's notebook that she shoved into Jo's hands.
"This is what you need. End this," she directed Jo.
"Miranda!" Andy jumped to her feet unable to believe what her lover had just done.
"No! No, Andréa. You will not object," Miranda held up her hand to stop any comment from Andy. "You were not here yesterday. You didn't see what our girls went through, what I went through, what everyone who loves and cares about you went through when that story broke. You will cooperate fully. You will give Joanne everything she needs to catch this person. You will do it or you will leave this house and never come back. I cannot live like that. My children won't live like that. I will not allow it. I know you have your principles, but what if someone comes after you and misses. What if Caroline or Cassidy are in the way? What if I am? Or what if they don't miss and we're subjected to a lifetime of that loss, your loss? Is that worth some principle that may not even apply in this situation? Will it take you feeling what I felt yesterday morning before you realize what is of primary importance? Answer me!"
Andy could only stare at Miranda. The fear and rage in those blue eyes was terrifying, her body visibly trembling with the emotions she was trying to contain. For the first time, Andy began to understand some of what her lover, her family had gone through the previous day. That Miranda would rather her leave than go through it again told her all she needed to know. She reached out and took the notebook from Jo. She looked at it for a long moment as she thought of all that Miranda had said. Her decision wasn't difficult. She flipped it open to a page about half with through, tore out a handful of pages and handed them to Jo.
"That's what you want, names and notes except for the informant. Copy it and give it back. I'll call the guy. He's reputable and I think he'll be willing to talk to you. I'm still not sure exactly why, but girls are disappearing down there. I have a theory but don't have enough to prove it. It's all in there. I'm trusting you to protect my family, Jo."
"I won't let you down, Andy," she left quickly tucking the folded papers into a jacket pocket.
Andy and Miranda looked at each other for a long moment, neither speaking nor moving. With a deep breath, Andy finally broke the silence.
"I'm thinking the crime beat isn't exactly right for me. A woman with a family shouldn't do things to put that at risk. There's an opening for someone to cover local politics. Maybe I'll check into that. You know, or there might be something in sports. I don't really know much about it but I'm sure I could learn." Andy knew she was babbling, but couldn't seem to stop.
Crossing the room, Miranda slid her arms around the taller woman's neck and pulled Andy's head down bringing their lips closer. "Thank you," she breathed before claiming her lover's mouth.
Walking into her kitchen as she closed the fastener on her bracelet, Miranda Priestly headed directly for the coffeemaker. Reaching for the carafe, she filled the clear glass mug that her housekeeper conveniently left out for her each evening. She turned on the small under cabinet TV as she took the first sip, intent on listening to the early news before her housekeeper, Estella, arrived to get the twins ready for school. Knowing Roy, her driver, would be waiting outside, she opened the Book where she had left it on the counter before going to bed and scanned back over the notes she had made the previous evening as the news anchor droned on until a story caught her attention.
"This just in: New York Mirror reporter Andrea Sachs-"
Dropping the book, she rushed up the stairs moving much faster than one really should in 4 inch Blahniks. She passed the twins who seeing the look on their mom's face followed her immediately.
"Mom? What's wrong?" Cass called after her, but Miranda kept going not stopping to answer. Pushing open the door to her bedroom, she scanned the room frantically. Not finding what she was searching for, she crossed the room and threw open the bathroom door. Yanking open the shower door, she stared at a very soaked Andy Sachs who stared back in concern.
"Hey. What's wrong, Miranda?" she asked not liking the fear written so clearly on her lover's face.
"Nothing," Miranda denied. "I just…" With a sigh, she kicked off her shoes and walked fully clothed into the shower and into Andy's arms. "The news said-."
Realizing what must have upset her lover, Andy ghosted her lips over Miranda's. "I'm fine. We're fine. I was going to surprise you but they evidently jumped the gun. I won the National Journalism Award for Investigative Journalism for the story on the missing homeless girls. Jo got me the exclusive, remember?"
Miranda nodded into Andy's neck. She knew she must look foolish, hair and clothing wet, her makeup running down her face and now Andréa's chest. For just a moment she had been thrown back to that nightmarish morning and she had desperately needed to know that her lover was safe.
"You do realize that you're going to have start all over getting dressed now, don't you?" Andy teased her hoping to lighten the mood.
Releasing Andre'a, Miranda stood back and with hands smoothed the hair back from her face. "Nonsense. If I say the wet look is back, it's back."
Laughing Andy reached for the buttons on Miranda's blouse. "Well since you're already in here and you know how I like any kind of 'wet look' on you," Andy stopped to push the blouse off her lover's shoulders and reached around to unclasp her bra. "I'll just help you out of these wet things and we'll start celebrating now."
Miranda licked her lips. "An-Andréa, the girls were right behind me."
Andy laughed. "They took off the moment you stepped into the shower with all your clothes on. Mama Priestly didn't raise no dummies."
Miranda lifted an eyebrow. "Really, Andréa, you won an award? Your grammar is a nightmare." She asked in her chilliest voice.
"Nightmare's over, Miranda. Time to make dreams come true," Andy murmured before pulling her lover into a slow deep kiss.