As she strutted down the hallway, slipping on her Dior sunglasses, she called back towards the kitchen.

"I'll be home by seven at the latest."

"Dinner will be waiting."

Aware of the presence closing in behind her, she turned.

"I love you Andrea."

Her girlfriend smiled at her. Andrea had the most amazing smile; it was full, sensual, bright and contagious. She intended to see that smile in quite a different situation tonight. It was the twin's weekend with their father, and Miranda had great plans for the forty hours of precious alone time they had been granted.

"You too baby. Have a good day."

And with a kiss her brunette beauty had gone; whipping past her and down the steps to disappear along the street. After a brief pause, Miranda followed suit and relocated in the back seat of the idling, black Mercedes.

It had taken her by surprise the first time Andrea had responded to her declaration in such a manner, but the fashionista had convinced herself that it was progress. Her young lover hadn't been able to reciprocate the sentiment for longest time and so when Miranda had finally got this response it had been a shock to not hear the words she was so desperately and patiently waiting for, but she had accepted that it was a step in the right direction.

Now, nine months into their relationship and five months since the older woman first voiced the words 'I love you' she was starting to panic. What if the reason Andrea wasn't able to utter those three words was that she didn't feel the same. Maybe Miranda had imagined that there was more to this relationship than there was. Sure, the budding journalist had moved into the townhouse, she doted on the twins and they had told their nearest and most trusted loved ones of the relationship; but they hadn't gone public and they hadn't made promises of forever.

As she arrived in front of the Elias-Clarke building Miranda came to a decision; she would confront Andrea that evening and uncover the truth of the matter, good or bad.

Miranda almost lost her nerve looking at the radiant beauty before her. Ignoring her food, the older woman reached across the table, joining hands with Andrea and lacing their fingers together.

"I love you."

"You too gorgeous." A fleeting smirk graced her lips before she looked back at her plate. "You haven't told me how your meeting with Ravitz went."

"No Andrea, look at me." The eyes that met her own were laced with panic. "I love you."

"I heard you."

"Andrea, I love you."

"Stop it." Miranda felt the hand within her own tug away. She held fast.

"I love you."

"Mira, please."

Andrea's body was nearly convulsing with her effort to escape.

"Don't you?"

"Of course I do!"

Miranda stood up, never once releasing Andrea from her grip, and moved to kneel next to her chair. The sight of tears streaking tracks down her loves cheeks was slowing causing her heart to break, but she started this and there was no turning back until she had an answer; one way or another.

"Then tell me. Just this once tell me and I'll believe you; I swear I'll believe you."

The silence was suffocating. She needed Andrea's answer like she needed air. Her throat was constricted in panic; what if the brunette couldn't say it, what if she didn't want to say it? Andrea's next words were whispered so quietly that Miranda almost didn't hear them over the sound of her thundering heart.

"I won't survive if you leave me."

Miranda's confusion was surely written on her face. "Darling, I'm not leaving and neither are you. This, us, we aren't finished."

"But we will be, because you'll leave." Andrea made a half hearted attempt to wipe away her tears. "That's the pattern you see; if I love someone, they leave. Dad, Ma, Nate, Doug, Lily; they all left. Opening my heart is like the kiss of death. So I could say the words, I could tell you how I feel, but then I'll be left without you, without the girls and I can't survive that."

Andrea was sobbing now, her whole body wrenching with the effort, and the hurt clouding the young woman made Miranda sick to the stomach. She pulled her from the chair and into her arms, so that they were both huddled together on the floor.

"Darling I will never leave you, I promise. The girls and I, we are your family now and you'll never be rid of us. Never."

Slowly, so slowly, Andrea's crying calmed and then ceased. It was minutes before she broke the silence.

"Miranda, I love you more than I've ever loved another person, more than I believed it possible to love another person, and it terrifies me."

The editor allowed a single tear to escape, and with it released all doubt concerning the woman in her arms. Leaning down to place a tender kiss upon her head, she whispered 'thank you' into the chocolate tresses. She was scared too, but it didn't matter as much anymore.

Andrea loved her.