Her clothes felt heavy, the harsh wind whipping against her skin. She'd gotten dressed in a daze. Miranda's bracelet was clasped tightly within her fist, unwilling to relinquish the only evidence of the love that would forever linger in her heart. It stung. Like a tendril spiralling deep; beyond the molecular boundaries of her normal human form, it stabbed inside her psych. No one would ever live up to her, and now she was lost, forever.
She was up on the hill, their hill. It no longer felt like it belonged to her alone. This was the innocent place where everything began, the trigger cause to the spiral she now found herself falling into. All the memories of Miranda whirled around in her head like a cyclone. Tears stung behind her eyes, evaporated by the breeze before they'd begun to break away.
The grass tickled her skin, the earth cool against her back as she watched the sun dissolve; its exotic rays bleeding into the darkening sky. She'd been here for hours. The numb feeling never abated, her entire being contained within a bubble of despair. She didn't want to move. It was a simple wish, driven by selfish motives. Here she was hidden beyond the eyes of the village, able to free fall into her heartache without an audience.
Wishes were never granted. If they were she'd be on a flight back to New York with Miranda by her side. Instead she was here, and her time had run out. She groaned as she shifted, each limb protesting its orders as she begrudgingly rose from the ground. Her phone vibrated against her leg for the hundredth time, demanding attention. She hadn't heard the message, ears unwilling to listen to Nate's loving tones echo down the line. She was too dead to feel guilty, but her gut still twisted in disgust at the thought of her future. Forever yielding to his touch, his breath against her skin, lips leaving marks all over her body, marring the fading evidence of Miranda's. The heat of their love was long dead; the thought of him now left nothing but ice flowing through her veins.
Still, she'd made her choice. The equation held too many integers, no longer the sole entity within it and even if the answer was the right one, it felt wrong.
She slipped her shoes over her feet, the water lingering between her toes from the dew drops clinging to each green blade as the coolness of nightfall slowly solidified over the earth. She had to go home.
Her walk was slow, unwilling, gradually grass turned to tarmac, then gravel as she covered the final few meters to her front door. Her house, not her home, this place would never feel like home, no where ever would without Miranda in it.
Her key had barely clicked in the lock before the door swung open. She was greeted by the cheerful face of the last person she currently wished to see.
'Hey babe, you miss me?'
He grasped her tightly, his arms engulfing her unwilling frame, 'It's so good to be home. I've got so much to tell you, the course was amazing, I learnt so much, met so many people. I'm living the dream Andy, and it's awesome.'
Andy remained mute. He was living his dream, not hers, hers was over the ocean and it starred somebody else.
'Andy, Andy you ok?'
'Sorry, what?' She shook her head, eyes clearing.
'Did you listen to anything I said?'
Her shoulders slumped, 'I'm sorry Nate, no. I'm just really tired.'
'Where have you been? I left a message to let you know I was home.'
'I never got it. You know how bad the signal is here.' she pushed his arms from her, walking away. She couldn't look at him.
'Yeah like I said, I'm just tired.'
'I cooked dinner while you were out, you want some.'
She shook her head, 'I haven't been feeling too well. I'm just going to curl up on the couch.'
There was nothing on. The TV channels were a constant blur before her eyes as her finger relentlessly pressed the remote, mind unwilling to rest on one program for long. Nothing was a distraction. Every channel instigated some thought that related back to Miranda. Nate was banging about in the background, radio grating over her skin as he happily sang, oblivious to the ache in her heart, and how a few days had turned her loves allegiance against him forever.
She should leave. She should just get in the car and go. Everyone was waiting for her, the flight left in three hours, and the airport was at least an hour's drive. She couldn't. Instead she was rooted to the ground, gazing up at the pale lights that shone from a seemingly innocent house. A house containing the one thing she couldn't have.
It was almost ironic, a cruel smile twisting in the corner of her mouth. Miranda Priestly could have anything she wanted, except the one thing her heart desired most. Punishment enough for all those empty demands and wishes, and falsifying admissions of love for what looked good on paper.
She could see him, scruffy hair, unshaven, darting about the kitchen with a carefree smile on his face. He wasn't ugly, or horrifically horrible in anyway. Why would Andy ever pick her over him? He was a normal loving man who could offer a home and a future well away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. He could provide security and children, and the true stepping stones of a normal life. Miranda's life was anything but normal. She was twice her age, with two children, three divorces, and she was currently the arrow tip of a major magazine empire. Her hours were full, her life already consumed by existing demands. How could Andrea ever understand? For someone so young would she really find love easy under those circumstances?
Miranda couldn't help but believe so. Something in Andrea's eyes seem less shallow, less demanding compared to all the others that had passed through her home. Andrea didn't need to be made to feel masculine or be handed control on a silver platter, too scared to take it for his own. Andrea had earned her respect without even attempting to and burrowed into her atrium without even asking for admission. Her honest smile, and open eyes, the only ammunition in her arsenal. No one would believe the truth. Miranda Priestly, the Ice Queen, with a cruel tongue and cold heart, had been broken. She had barriers a mile high and true love was all it took; Andrea had smashed them down bit by bit. Not only with the words that had echoed over her skin, long into the night, but through every touch, and every tear. Now the one she loved was lying on the other side of that wall, one which wasn't so easy to break.
It was time to leave. Still her feet refused to follow her orders, instead padding their way up the path. Her hand rose, curling into a fist before she spared a thought for the consequences.
'That's pretty where'd you get it?'
Andy cast a glance at the bracelet lying limp on the coffee table.
'It looks expensive.' Nate bent to pick it up, but Andy's fingers found it first, removing it beyond his grasp.
'Looks can be deceiving. It's nothing, just something cheap I bought the other day.' Her stomach twisted, sickened by the lie.
'From round here?' Nate frowned.
'I ordered it online, had to do something to keep me busy while you were away.' She cast an empty smile up at him.
'Ok,' he shrugged, eyeing her curiously, 'just don't go spending it all. We're running on a tight budget here with only one of us working. You thought about getting a job?'
'I've tried, but there's not a lot of journalism opportunities in this place.'
'Then don't do journalism.'
Andy bristled, 'It's what I want to do,'
'Yeah well sometimes you have to make sacrifices, find something else. We wanted to come here. I can't pay the bills all on my own.'
Andy turned back to the TV, 'No you wanted to come here.' It was light, empty, but Nate's ears still heard it.
'Not this again Andy, we've been over this.' Andy said nothing, not even turning to listen as Nate stormed out, 'Look if you wanna go home, go. It'll be one less worry in my life.'
Andy remained silent until the door slammed shut, like a fissure through ice it cracked through the house, reverberating off the walls over Andy's whispered parting words.
She heard the argument, his footsteps alerting her to his approach. Her hand snapped away from the door, sidestepping into the shadows like some illusive spy. She darted out of sight as the front door flung open, the scruffy figure she'd witnessed through the window earlier thundering out into the night.
She should go.
She waited for a few moments before stalking forward. Knuckles rapping on the door before she had the chance to change her mind. It took a while for Andrea to answer.
'What, you forget your k… Miranda.'
Miranda said nothing, for the first time she didn't know what to say. She should have left it alone. Her note was enough; a few last words saying everything she needed to say. With a glance her eyes fell to Andrea's fingers, a little slither of silver peaking out, one of her favourite pieces clutched tightly within her lover's palm. Miranda reached for it. For a few seconds it looked like Andrea wasn't going to grant her the chance to take it, fingers tightening in an obvious gesture, unwilling to relinquish.
As Miranda's hand curled over her own gradually the muscles relaxed. The cage of her finger tips slowly melted away and allowed Miranda access to something Andrea obviously treasured.
It formed a ball of warmth in her heart, a heat out of place with the icy cold spiralling outwards everywhere else. It was small, a flicker of a flame she could cling to on the long journey home. Drawing Andrea's arm towards her, Miranda held the bracelet in her hand. Gently she clasped it round Andrea's wrist, the smooth metallic surface shimmering, reflecting the heavens.
Lifting it to her lips, Miranda placed a light kiss against the chain, lips caressing the skin beneath it as her eyes finally rose to meet Andrea's. She was watching her, the chocolate swirling with a world of heart ache. A tear clung in the corner, caged by Andrea's unwillingness to break before her eyes. Lifting her hand, she curled it round Andrea's cheek. It was warm to the touch, a small map holding many memories as Miranda's touch glided over her skin.
Andy didn't move, frozen. The crack in her heart rendered her immobile, synapses unable to trigger any reaction. She felt the neglect of Miranda's touch as soon as it departed, the cool kiss blistering against her cheek.
She was walking away.
Miranda was leaving.
The last glint of silver vanished in the distance, the clicking of heels fading away.
Miranda was leaving.
Something wet hit her skin, mind barely registering the lone trickle breaking free from the air, followed by a second, then a third.
Suddenly the sound of pattering feet returned. Her heart leapt as the noise rang out again, nearer. It was lower than normal, different, a noise Andy knew. Her brain stuttered when she realised it wasn't Miranda returning to her, but Nate. Her boyfriend, her lover, he was all that was left.
Miranda was leaving.
Something inside her broke, a flood of energy roaring out of a chasm as her heart caved in. She ran, barely missing him as she whirled by, whipped up in a moment of desperation. She couldn't breath. Her lungs were choking despite her exertion, heart hammering in her ears as she pounded after her last lifeline. She needed Miranda.
The road cut into her feet as she ran, mud and grit creeping between her toes and splashing against her ankles. It was raining. The gentle droplets were now a torrential down pour, the shimmering surface of every puddle smashing beneath her foot falls.
She could hear an engine in the distance, a deep growl tearing through the storm. She got to the bottom of the hill, eyes catching a glimpse of silver, Miranda. She slipped. Her palms stung as they slammed into the tarmac before her face hit the ground. She was disorientated, scrabbling around on the ground legs unable to hold her weight no matter how much her mind wished they would. Adrenaline drowned out the pain as she lurched forward fighting to her feet, lungs wheezing in protest, muscles burning under the onslaught. She stumbled on, rounding the corner, rain drops pooling in her eyes, a wall of water blinding her to anything but two break lights flaring in the distance. She was too late. With a heavy heart, the car vanished, the rumble of the engine whipped up in the wind like cruel laughter.
Miranda was gone.
Twin tears dripped onto old pages. Caroline's words had faltered towards the end, throat choking through the sadness that bled through Andy's entry. Andy had stopped for a while. Collapsing where she was, tears camouflaged within the rain, her external appearance reflecting the destruction within.
They scanned over the aftermath, barely able to read on. She crawled up, frozen to the bone, barely able to walk. Her palms were bleeding, a cut carved into her knee from her fall. Nate had dragged her inside. He'd tried to hug her but frail as she was she'd still resisted, hauling herself into the bathroom and locking the door in the face of all his questions. She'd remained within the shower until her skin wrinkled, the heat slowly easing the external aches and pains away, the internal ones bleeding afresh with every memory.
They came to the end, the last entry of that year. A few scattered sentences as her future faded into the past. She'd hidden her diary, the pages pertaining to the one secret she never wished anyone to know, and a memory she was half hiding from, even though its existence kept her alive. She took the book out from time to time, when Nate was away, the hours of which were increasing every month. After a brief explanation of her abandonment of her memories and Nate's behaviour she stuck to only writing the date, a simple sentence and nothing more, her passion for writing long lost as she suffocated within four walls.
'She was so sad.'
Caroline's eyes lifted to Cassidy's.
'How could anyone live like that? I mean, my relationships aren't the thing of fairytales, but they've never been totally devoid of love, or caring.'
'We've always had each other too. No matter what happened with anyone outside our family, we had a shoulder to cry on. Andy had nothing, no one. She clung to the memory of Mom'
'Her devotion lasted longer than some of Mom's marriages.'
'Mom never married after. Do you remember the newspapers speculating about the lack of a male suitor? Mom could have had anyone, had, had anyone, until she returned from this trip. She wasn't interested anymore. She stopped looking. '
'We asked her once, you remember? She wasn't willing to give us an answer. Not an honest one anyway. She lied about being too old for love.'
'We could always tell when Mom was lying.'
'You think she would have ever told us the truth?'
'Doesn't matter now does it? She didn't have a choice.'
They turned the next page, eyes falling on new ink, words falling from a different pen but in the same familiar hand writing. Andy's entries had begun again. An emotional entry, detailing the day she decided to return to New York.
Miranda's glasses clattered on the desk, tossed off in frustration after another fruitless run through. When did everyone become so amateur?
It had been a long and lonely day, heels almost worn to a stump as she traipsed over New York City looking for the next big thing in the world of fashion, all failures.
The drawer rattled as she slid it open, hand fishing out a photograph of the last shoot where she'd felt truly satisfied. It wasn't a photo from the shoot, as least not an intentional one. It had been a negative she'd stolen for her own. A pre-shot, to test the conditions and that the camera was set to operate perfectly in its current environment.
It was an unassuming photograph, nothing of notoriety to the innocent eye.
A shot of the lush hill side she remembered so well, fields fanning out over the horizon with a single figure, a girl caught off guard. Half her face was in shadow as the sun struck the right side of her porcelain skin. Her hair was dancing in the wind as she gazed into a world seemingly beyond anyone's line of sight, a blissful fantasy all her own.
A year and a half had passed, eighteen slow months that felt like an eternity. Every morning she resolved to be stronger, told herself Andrea was nothing more than a holiday fling. She'd probably forgotten all about her. She envisoned her happy with the one she chose. Any attempt to strengthen her resolve. By the end of the day it melted away, exhaustion and loneliness an acid that burnt easily through any wall she built that day. For all the accusations of a frozen heart, it seemed even Miranda Priestly had a weakness.
She tossed the picture back in the drawer, half resentful of the woman it depicted. What had she become? Her magazine was everything and yet she doted on something far beyond her reach. The one thing she couldn't have. She just had to learn to let go. Andrea's name hadn't been mentioned since that fateful shoot. Nigel said it once, and with ears acute to Miranda's change of tone he never said her name again.
Caging her aching heart within a wall of defiance she shut the drawer with a snap. This couldn't go on. It wouldn't go on. Miranda didn't care about some nobody far over the face of the earth. She cared about the here and now, her children, her career, the factors that were within her control. Andrea was nobody, nothing.
She rose, keeping the wince from her face as an aching pain burned through the balls of her feet. Even when a woman was used to wearing heels some days the torture was just a little too much to take.
Her second assistant scrambled. It was mere seconds between the words leaving her lips and the orders being followed. This one might actually last. Emily had long gone, but she'd trained a first assistant that was competent enough. After her promotion a few seconds had hit the firing line, but maybe this one wasn't so bad. Either that or maybe Miranda's pursuit of perfection was a little jaded today. Eyeing the girl briefly, she gave no indication of her internal monologue. The young girl's eyes were bright, begging for a sign of acceptance. It was a weakness, one she'd have to lose soon. She had to believe in her own abilities, not rely on others to confirm them. No one was ever truly the best they could be until they had the confidence to claim so.
Flinging the coat smoothly over her shoulders she clacked into the lift, taking a sense of satisfaction at the sea of staff parting before her. The journey home was always the worst, nothing but time on her hands to ponder. No texts to be sent, no demands to be made. It was the time when her mind was weak and gave way. The twins were away, leaving her alone with nothing but her thoughts. She sighed, the bleak mood burrowing in deep.
Maybe she could come into work tomorrow, Sunday too. Work on the Christmas edition a little in advance. A head start was never a negative thing, regardless of the motive that drove it. The night air hit her skin as she left Elias Clark, heels clicking against the pavement as she trekked the short distance to her car.
Snow littered the sidewalk, the treacherous flurries freezing beneath her heels. More was fluttering down around her, the flakes clinging to her coat. Snow could be an annoying inconvenience, but secretly Miranda loved it. There was something magical in the air as it floated down around her, sound seemingly muted by the flakes in the night air. Lights twinkled brighter, everything taking on an celestial cast. The world changed when it snowed, a transformation under the hands of 'Mother Nature'.
The world was bustling around her, each nameless citizen filled with their worries. All in a hurry to get to wherever they were going, ignorant of everyone else around them, except one. A nearby street light cast an eerie glow over the opposite sidewalk, an oval spotlight glinting on a stationary figure, whose eyes felt like they were boring right into her. She kept her head low, the cold stinging against her skin, unwilling to cast any attention in their direction. Fan or foe she was unconcerned. However, as her hand fell on the door, a curtain of long dark hair was whipped up into the wind, a ripple of chocolate in the corner of her eye.
She looked up, a reflex reaction stemming from hope.
It couldn't be. Miranda remained mute, glued to the spot where she stood. One hand clutched tightly to car door, the only thing holding her up as her mind gave way with shock. Andrea was in England. Andrea had a boyfriend and a home far away from hers. She blinked, attempting to clear her mind, forcing the fleeting hope away. She opened them again, and the sidewalk was empty.
Bile stung in her throat, the momentary elation mocking her in her mind. She was hallucinating. Seeing something she so desperately desired, did desire. Not any more. Roy was eyeing Miranda with carefully concealed curiosity, unaware of what initiated her hesitation. Casting him a cool glance Miranda ducked down, burrowing inside the warmth within the car, banishing the moment to the back of her mind.
The engine rumbled around her as Roy departed, drifting into the evening traffic. She leant back. Breathing in deep, her eyes took in the stragglers left out in the cold lumbering along their merry way, laden down with shopping. Christmas was soon approaching; a collection of days where work was not an option.
She gasped, body lurching forward, unable to hide her intrigue as the car sailed by the same figure she'd seen a moment ago. Her neck twisted to the side as she gazed out attempting to catch a glimpse of their face.
She gritted her teeth in frustration, the figure's head bowed in the wind, far from her line of sight, 'Roy pull over, now.'
He did so without question, the blaring horns no longer a concern for him he heard them so frequently. A few disgruntled drivers were nothing compared to Miranda's wrath if he disobeyed her orders. She didn't even bother to wait for him to open the door. For the first time in memory she slid out unaided onto the sidewalk, trying to contain her panic within a wall of dignity. She didn't run, if anything it was closer to a quick teeter as she hurried after the elusive figure. She rounded the corner where they'd vanished, and found, nothing. She wasn't there. Miranda's shoulders slumped, almost blushing at her idiocy. She was going mad, her mind playing tricks driven by her hearts desperation and denial. Tugging her coat tight around her shoulders she turned, barrelling head first into another pedestrian. She lost her balance, the world tilting on it's axis as the concrete pavement rushed up to meet her. Then she stilled. Warm fingers had wrapped around her wrist catching her, tugging her to her feet. She blanched at being manhandled in such a way, tugged around like a toy on the end of a string, and turned to release an onslaught of anger on her unwilling assailant. All the fury at the evening bubbling up only to die in her throat as she gazed upon the face that had been haunting her since she departed England all those months ago.
Miranda snatched her wrist away, burned by the familiarity of her touch. She opened her mouth, desperate to say something, unsure of the emotion stinging in her heart. No words came, an empty breath of uncertainty, before she clung to her anger the most familiar of all the emotions and turned on her heel. Andrea had abandoned her, she'd made her choice, and there was no way Miranda would just allow her to literally barrel back into her life. This was just a test to her recent resolve and she refused to crumble. Miranda's heels clicked beneath her as she hurried away, Andrea's voice echoing behind. Something wet stung in the corner of her eyes, the pain in Andrea's voice grinding her to a halt beside her car. Her heart couldn't take any more; another fracture created by fragile hands of the young woman she'd come to love, but if she walked away, now knowing Andrea had been so close, her heart would break in two.
'Miranda, wait, please.'
Miranda suppressed a smile at the fleeting flutter of happiness at the sound of her voice. Roy was around the car in seconds, opening the door for Miranda, eyeing Andrea with caution. Andrea eyed him, her gaze apprehensive, unaccustomed to Miranda's way of life. This was ridiculous. They were back on Miranda's territory, where the world knew her as a formidable editor who had three divorces within her wake and a heart of stone. She wasn't a woman to fall for a pretty young thing and a female one at that. This could damage everything, put it all at risk, but for once it wasn't enough to make Miranda change her mind.
Stepping back she tilted her head to the car. 'Get in.'
'I said, get in,' don't make me repeat myself a third time Andrea. It's not something I'm accustomed to.'
Swallowing, Andy gave a shallow nod before climbing into the car, in a rather indelicate manner made worse by her nerves. Miranda followed, sliding in with a level of elegance Andy didn't possess. Andy eyed her, the insecurity sinking deeper. This clearly was a woman of class, it was obvious in England but seeing Miranda within her own world it really hit home. How could a woman like this care about a girl like Andy when they lived within separate worlds? In New York Miranda was a celebrity, with children and a long list of male ex-husbands. Andy had done her research. Journalism wasn't her dream for nothing.
The car ride was silent. The street lights flickered in Miranda's eyes as they sailed by, the editor determinedly gazing out the window.
The tension hung in the air, a black cloud clinging around them. One Andy wished to dispel but unsure how. She assumed Miranda might be angry. Andy's decision seemed to have hurt her almost as much as it hurt herself, but then the uncertainty of Miranda's true intentions even then seemed to linger. Maybe she was just worried about Andy's presence; she had a lot of dirt on the editor that the papers would pay big bucks for. Maybe Miranda just wanted to silence any possible information from leaking about a holiday fling. She might be well practised.
Andy sunk lower in her seat, wanting to disappear, wishing she'd never had the audacity to turn up at Miranda's place of work. Miranda had come after her though. Why else would the woman have ended up on a freezing sidewalk, when her ride was illegally park only a few meters away? She should have run, the moment she noticed it was Miranda caught in her arms. She should have fled when she'd had the chance. She shouldn't have gotten in the car. So many mistakes she'd made, anything to keep her close to the one woman that made her life worth living, well, one of two.
Andy jerked as the car slid to a halt, eyes wide as she gazed up at a beautiful town house, bigger than anything she'd ever imagined owning in the city. It was the housing of the ultra rich, and Miranda was one of them. Way out of Andy's league.
The door opened on Andy's side, the cool breeze whipping in as Andy hesitated to leave the safe confines of the car.
She stepped out reluctantly, watching Roy as he circled round and repeated the actions for Miranda. Like royalty she rose up, heels clicking as she ascended the stairs. Keys in hand she opened the door, ignorant of Andy's hesitance and entered into her home, leaving the door wide open.
Nervously, Andy interpreted that as an invitation, and with a deep breath she followed in Miranda's footsteps, snapping the door shut behind her.
'Whoa, Mum must have had a heart attack.'
'I can't believe she went after her, I'm surprised she didn't send Roy.'
'Caroline give Mum some credit, she may not be romantic but Andy mattered. Mum wouldn't send staff to deal with such a situation, especially when they were unaware there was a situation to start with.'
I asked Mum once. She just said she handled it in the only way she knew how, with a subtle tilt of her head, before smoothly sliding into the car.'
'A tilt of the head and an ice cold order, left that little demand out didn't she.
'It was a stern request, Andy had every option to escape and she didn't. Seeing mum in all her glory must have been a sudden shock though, we found her formidable at times and we're her children. I'm not surprised she didn't know what to say. '
Cassidy laughed, 'I wished I'd witnessed that. The first time Mum had seen her in over a year, Andy sliding in by her side without so much as a word.'
'Wonder what Roy thought.'
'We'll never know. Luckily he wasn't silly enough to ask.'
'What do you think Mum did? I mean, what were her first words.'
'I can only imagine. You know how stubborn she can be, she'd probably convinced herself she hated the girl by that point. Anything to cope with the situation of finding something she couldn't have. I'd have felt sorry for Andy but Mum was worth it in the end.'
'Yeah, Mum was worth the world, it was only Andy who ever looked close enough to see it.'
Miranda leant against her drinks cabinet a glass of whisky twirling in her hand, before leaning over to slide one towards Andy.
'You look like you need it.'
It's all Miranda said. Andy sat there, resting on the edge of the sofa, timidly letting her eyes rove around the dragon's den as the situation sunk in. Awkwardness reigned and Andy had no idea where to begin.
With a sigh Miranda got tired of the silence, 'I'm assuming you hunted me down for a reason Andrea.'
'Hunted you down?' Andy attempted to act innocent but the blush streaking her cheeks gave the game away.
'I saw you outside Elias Clark,' taking a sip of her drink Miranda waited for an answer that wasn't forthcoming, her gaze never left Andy's, boring into her as the cool liquid trickled down her throat, 'unfortunate coincidence was it?'
Andy trembled under her eyes. Finally finding her voice she bolted up, 'I think I should leave.' She went to put her drink down on the table before Miranda's words halted her,
Andy's eyes narrowed, not willing to follow Miranda's orders so easily, her voice soft but stern, 'don't talk to me like that,'
'Like what?' Miranda bristled, shoulders tensing at Andy's tone.
'Like I'm one of your workers, I'm not.'
Sharp eyes grazed over her skin, 'I'm well aware of that Andrea,' Miranda inhaled deeply, uttering a sentence she seemed unaccustomed to, 'Sit down, please.' She paused, watching Andy, eyes unwillingly pleading, 'I want you to stay.'
'Because I want you to,' it wasn't an answer, but the tone was enough.
Andrea eyed her sceptically for a moment before sitting, 'Fine.'
Miranda hesitated, not wishing to keep the distance between them so vast. She wanted to keep Andrea away but was reluctant to isolate her completely. Regardless of her head, her heart willed her to creep closer to the girl. So on bare feet, she padded her way over the carpet, sitting and curling her legs up beneath her in her armchair.
'Start from the beginning Andrea, tell me what's happened, and then why you're here.'
There was a brief pause, tension hovering in the air for a second. Then, Andrea nodded 'OK'. She took a gulp from her glass, eyes falling to the floor unable to hold Miranda's penetrating gaze. 'There isn't a lot to say.'
'You decided to stay with your boyfriend, and eighteen months later you turn up in New York unannounced and on Runway's doorstep and there's not a lot to say'
Andrea shrugged, ignoring Miranda's obvious ire, 'It's not a lot, but it is important.'
'Go on.' Miranda was carefully eyeing her over the edge her glass, clearly sensing her hesitance and giving her a clear nudge in the right direction.
'The day before you left, I found out I was pregnant.'
Miranda said nothing, the atmospheric silence crackling around her words. Andrea kept her eyes resolutely cast downwards not wishing to see her expression, fearing her story would falter completely.
She gave a dry laugh, 'Nate and I hadn't touched each other in two months, so I obviously hadn't been paying attention to the signs; I thought she was a stomach bug.'
Miranda was stunned, all the times possible reasons for Andrea's reluctance to leave had gone round in her head. She had a child. Out of everything this had never even entered. She cursed her stupidity, mind flashing back to Andrea's answer all those months ago, 'I can't. Not I won't, or don't want to, but I can't.'
'She's why you stayed.'
Andrea nodded, 'I had to; every child deserves the chance of a father.'
Miranda's emotions clashed, her previous anger fading away to hope, and uncertainty. She understood why Andy had stayed but not why she'd chosen to return here months later and search her out. Could everything between them have meant just as much to her in the end? Andrea had made her choice for her child, and Miranda couldn't deny that she'd have done the same. She'd spent months convincing herself it meant nothing and Andrea had only used her to sate her curiosity and fill the absence of her other half. Now everything she'd suppressed clamoured for attention, Andrea's explanation smashing a hole in the precarious wall she'd built since her departure. She gulped, the ice cold alcohol dulling the shock ever so slightly, 'So, why now? Why here? What happened?'
'Nate failed his chance, he wasn't interested.' Andrea's fist clenched, knuckles fading in the flash of anger, 'I found out about him cheating two months before the birth.'
Andrea paused, drawing a calming breath, 'I tried to work through it, could hardly judge him for it, after,' She died off, leaving the explanation unspoken, 'well, it had been going on for months, before ours even. He admitted it to me, and then well, I tried, but he went off with her and she wasn't interested in any baggage, so neither was he.'
Miranda couldn't believe it. Nate had, had the chance to keep Andrea tied to his side forever and he blew it. She'd always believed men lacked intelligence when it came to women. This only confirmed her assumption. How could he have chosen someone else? Miranda had fallen for Andrea faster and harder than she had for anyone else. She had a long line of broken relationships but never anything nearing the love she felt for this girl and she was finally here. Andrea was in her home and Miranda's mind had gone blank, nothing but her heartbeat echoing in her ears in time to Andrea's explanation.
'So,' Miranda cleared her voice, the hoarseness sounding alien to her own ears, 'So you came here?'
Andrea nodded, 'My baby girl's better off without him and there was nothing left for me there,'
Miranda's eyes caressed over the young woman nervously sitting on the edge of her couch. Tilting her head she rested it on her hand She let her middle finger glide over her bottom lip in thought, allowing a short pause of contemplation before the question fell from her lips, 'Is there anything for you here?'
Finally Andrea met her eyes, 'I don't know, is there?'
Her question was met with silence, the absence of sound lingering loudly.
Andrea's shoulders sagged. She gave a short nod, lips pursed in an attempt to stem the tears, 'Time to go.'
A small smile curled at the corner of Miranda's mouth, not that Andrea's averted eyes were witness to it. 'I haven't answered your question yet.'
Andrea didn't look at her, her words fading in her haste to exit Miranda's house, 'The silence said everything.'
Snapping up Andrea had barely made it into the entrance hall before Miranda fastened her fingers round her wrist. Miranda was a lot faster on bare feet and the sudden tug brought Andrea right back into her personal space. She gasped, Miranda holding back her own as she pressed tightly against a body she'd missed all these months. Clinging on tightly, Miranda spoke, letting her voice delicately dance over Andrea's skin.
'That's just rude.'
Andrea frowned, looking up into her face with a subtle swallow, 'what?'
'If there's one thing I hate more than being spoken for, it is people making assumptions, especially,' her thumb ghosted over Andrea's cheek, 'when they're wrong.'
There was no hesitation when Miranda's mouth closed the final inch between them, Andrea's expression of hope clearing any of her final concerns. They'd face all the complications one step at a time, but right now Andrea was here and for once Miranda just wanted to exist in the moment and relish in the feeling of the lips that had haunted her dreams, pressing passionately against her own.
Andrea's arms came up, tangling in her hair, clinging on tightly. Miranda returned the gesture, wrapping her hands round Andrea's waist. Their lips parted with a subtle gasp for breath, Miranda's fingers gliding over skin she thought she'd be forever forbidden to touch. Andrea was here, in her life, and she loved her. Her eyes twinkled, as she gazed at the dazed expression on Andrea's face, her eyes alight with desire from a single kiss. Brushing her thumb over Andrea's swollen lower lip Miranda planted a light kiss upon it, her next words mumbled against Andrea's mouth 'anyone would think you've missed me?'
Two faces wore twin expressions, a smile stretching from ear to ear.
'Who thought Mum was capable of…well when she uses her words she uses them well.'
'They did take it slow though didn't they? I mean this happened a bit before Christmas we didn't meet Andy till spring and that was only by accident.'
'That memory will be forever etched on my mind'.
'Mum looking shocked with a woman lying in her lap and a sleeping baby girl in her arms, and we thought we'd be the ones surprising her coming home a day early.'
'Talk about being upstaged.'
They laughed, the diary clutched between them as their giggles echoed into the sunset.
'What's her name?'
Andrea didn't answer for a moment, a blush stinging her cheeks, 'Mira, her names Mira. Nate never understood the reason behind the name, but he wasn't there when she was born,' she shrugged, casting the meaning of it off like it was nothing, 'it was my choice.'
Miranda said nothing, face hiding the warmth that blossomed in her heart. She poured them both a glass of wine, handing Andrea hers as she stroked a finger over the baby's cheek. She was sleeping. 'She's beautiful.'
Andrea smiled, 'She's the only thing that's kept me going.
Miranda sipped her wine, giving a gentle nod, 'you look exhausted.'
Andrea gave a small smile, 'that's because I am. She's teething, so she kept me up most of last night.' she cringed, 'I didn't even have the chance to shower this morning.'
'Well I have work to do, so you're welcome to use the time to freshen up.'
Andrea smiled, 'That sounds amazing. I'll finish my wine first and make sure she's settled. A toddler demanding attention doesn't allow time for work.'
'My study is on the first floor,' Miranda slipped her heels off, padding up the stairs. She resisted the temptation to look over her shoulder, half expecting Andrea to vanish, like a figment of her imagination. She came to a rest at the top before walking across the hall.
Sitting herself down, she crossed her legs, swirling her glass before bringing it to her lips, biding for time. Andrea wrapped her little girl up in a blanket, laying her down before curling up on the couch. Regardless of a stolen night's sleep, she looked beautiful. Miranda wanted to touch her, after all these months, the desire was as strong as ever. They'd been seeing each other for a few weeks, neither voicing what they had as they timidly dipped their toe within the water they'd wished to wade in for so long. Their relationship status had never been addressed.
Miranda took a deep breath approaching a subject she wished she could avoid, but it had to be said before things went any further. Unfortunately things were different on this side of the ocean.
'Andrea?' Andrea's tired eyes turned to her, so open and innocent and for once her resolve almost faltered, 'What do you want from this?' she paused before pushing on, forcing herself to be specific, 'from me?'
She barely breathed for a heartbeat before Andrea answered, 'everything you're willing to give, and I'll fight forever for everything you aren't. Even after all this time, my feelings haven't changed,' her eyes glazing over for a moment lost in a memory, 'they're still the same as they were all those months ago.' Her eyes fell away as her voice faded to a whisper, 'are yours?
Miranda took another sip of courage as she answered, 'You wouldn't be here if they weren't.' She looked away, the prospect of completing her speech twisting her stomach. It could ruin everything.
She steeled herself, even as Andrea's fleeting smile faltered in the face of her expression, 'this isn't England Andrea. This isn't a holiday romance anymore far away from the media. If you want this, you have to come into it with your eyes open. If the paparazzi find out about us, they'll be all over you. You understand? Your face will be all over Page Six.' Miranda's stomach tightened, she'd said it. The one fact Miranda couldn't escape from, but caused numerous of lovers to leave. Andrea was unaccustomed to Miranda's lifestyle, the money made her nervous never mind the press. She may decide, like many others, that Miranda wasn't worth it; that it was better to walk away and remain a nameless face on the New York sidewalk, but Miranda had to be straight with her, before Andrea embedded herself in her heart any deeper. She sighed, 'When this breaks, they'll chase you down the sidewalk. They'll watch your daughter growing up, and she'll have to face the same fate as mine. Every event of your life will be printed for her and all her friends to read. You choose this, you choose me; you can't avoid everything that goes with it. As much as I wish I could protect you from it, I can't.'
Andrea stroked her hand over her daughter's head before turning to face Miranda, she nodded, 'I know.'
Andrea's hand brushed over her own, Miranda jumped from the touch before relaxing into it, tangling their fingers together. Andrea's thumb ran over the back of her hand, 'This is worth everything,' she smiled, 'my daughters strong and she'll have four very strong female influences to help her along the way. Besides she'll be blissfully ignorant for a few years, as long as the story breaks before then she'll avoid the worst of it. I'm more worried about Caroline and Cassidy.'
Miranda smiled, 'I think, they'll be fine. My girls have grown up with the media, and I've never shielded them from it. I tell them to avoid searching out any articles on me but I've always promised if they do hear or read anything I will answer any questions as honestly as I can. I respect them, and for that they respect me. All they've ever wanted is for me to be happy, and you have bought more happiness into my life than all my marriages combined. With the exception of my daughters every man failed me. They were all a relationship of convenience, nothing more, nothing less, on both sides of the equation.'
Andrea squeezed her hand, 'But not this time?'
Miranda smiled, pressing a tender kiss on Andrea's temple, 'No, not this time.' She pressed another to Mira's. The child's eyes gently fluttered open, a small smile forming dimples on her rosy cheeks. Miranda extended her index finger, smiling as the little girl wrapped her fist around it, clasping it tightly in her grasp. She eyed Andrea's empty wine glass, 'Now, go and have your shower.'
She hesitated, 'What about Mira?'
'I'm perfectly capable at caring for a toddler, I did have two of my own not so long ago.' A bubble of laughter rang out as Miranda's nails lightly tickled Mira's tummy.
Andy gave a warm smile, gently placing the giggling bundle in Miranda's arms, the tension easing out of her shoulders.
'Being a single Mum isn't easy.'
'Well, you're not single now, so no rush. Relax and have a rest, I want you awake for the weekend.'
'Do you now?' Andy grinned, lacing her voice with innocence, 'What could you possibly have planned?'
Miranda eyed her pointedly over the edge of her glasses, 'shower, now.'
Andy laughed as she learned in and kissed her, the contact filled with gratitude. Stroking her hand over her child's head she padded across the room, pausing to linger for a moment in the doorway. Warmth blossomed in her heart as she watched the two women she loved curled up contentedly on the couch. Who would have believed almost a year ago, that a man asking for directions would have led her to such a perfect scene, one which she never wished to forget?
The last pages of the diary were left empty, the final entry hinting of hope. The twin's attention turned, smiling as a dark haired woman climbed over the crest of the hill.
Cassidy and Caroline rose to their feet.
'Finally made it then Mira?'
'I'm sorry,' She took a deep breath, 'I just needed a drink.'
Cassidy wrapped her arm around her step sister's shoulders, squeezing tightly in an attempt at comfort. It was time. 'You ok?'
Mira nodded, an urn resting in the crook of her arm. The wind was chilly, the icy touch of the night air creeping in as the stars opened their eyes.
Cassidy watched as Caroline lifted another urn, the one that held their mother.
'Ready?' Mira's voice rang out.
Twin heads nodded in unison. Hands slowly twisted the lids off and shook two silver containers, spilling ashes into the air that were whipped away by the breeze. Three silhouettes came together, holding hands as they watch the wind swirl the separate dust clouds together, each particle dancing in the night air as they floated over the hill. The lush green land, that had born so many happy memories, still sung the same silent tune, the eyes of nature watching as the two lovers vanished into the distance, together, forever.
(all done :). Finally. I hope you all enjoyed it. reviews are wonderful, and any advice is always greatly appreciated. Thank you to everyone whose stuck with this, even after all these years (especially peet, couldn't have got this done without you). x)