This is the third installment of the series that began with "Broke Down", followed by "Banged Up" To those of you who have followed along from the first, Thank you for your support. If you're new here, I recommend reading the other two first.

This is a MirAndy pairing. This (final?) chapter bumps the rating, considerably. (I'd say we have achieved an M here people) That's right, it gets a bit smutty. So, if you are under the appropriate age, I am afraid you are not allowed to continue. However, if I find time, I might attempt an alternate, PG (K) rated ending.

As with all my dwp stories, I only borrowed the characters from the movie. I do not own them, nor will I ever make money from the use of them.

Since When

The front door to the Priestly townhouse slammed with a force that rattled the windows. A moment later Cassidy's hostile voice filled the house, "Caroline, you are such a jerk!", and the door slammed again. Irritated by the disruption and angry at her children's outbursts, Miranda slapped her computer screen closed and stormed out of her study in search of fresh blood. Cassidy was half way up the staircase when she heard her mother's growl.

"Cassidy Anne Priestly. What is the meaning of this insolent behavior?"

"Sorry, mom. But it was Caroline's fault."

"It is her fault you lost all decorum and came in screaming like a harpy? I do not believe I am raising my daughters to be so uncivilized."

"Mom, you don't understand…"

"No, I don't. But I am sure if you calm down enough you will be able to explain it to me satisfactorily." Miranda stepped to the side of the stairs, inclining her head with the unspoken order for Cassidy to join her. Cassidy grumpily sighed and stomped down the stairs, brushing past her mother and marching to the study.

Miranda closed the door, increasing Cassidy's trepidation. She moved to her desk and rebooted her computer before acknowledging Cassidy's presence. Finally, after a quick glance at her inbox, she sat back in her chair and turned her attention to her sulking daughter.

"Now, would you like to tell me what is going on?"

"Sophia invited Caroline and me to her birthday party next weekend. But she saw Caroline first and asked her for both of us. Caroline was all pissy and told her I wouldn't be able to go because I had an appointment with a gynecologist to find out why I haven't started my periods yet." At her mother's non-reaction, Cassidy's voice raised in both pitch and volume, "She said that in front of Kevin Mercer just to embarrass me. I won't ever be able to show my face at school again."

"And you thought screeching injurious epithets at her was the correct response?"

"Mom? Did you hear what I said? She told a total lie and embarrassed me. Aren't you going to punish her?"

"It is not your concern what I plan to do with your sister. We are discussing your behavior. I will not have you screaming and carrying on in such a manner. You will treat your family with respect, and right now, that means you will not call your sister names. Nor will you disrespect me by acting in such a barbarous manner. I have raised you to be courteous and genteel. I expect you to control your temper and conduct yourself civilly in this house. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes", Cassidy pouted.

"Very well. Now go tell your sister I wish to speak to her."

"Yes, ma'am."

Miranda loosed the grin she had been struggling to control once Cassidy was out of the room. The sound of Cassidy racing up the stairs brought an amused chuckle from her chest. 'Oh lord. What am I going to do with those two? It is in times like these I wish their father was still here.'

Miranda's musings stopped when she saw Caroline's wide eyes peering around the door jamb.

"Come in, Caroline. And close the door."

Caroline shuffled into the room, doing her mother's bidding. Before Miranda could say anything, she exploded in tears. "I didn't mean anything. I was just mad at Cass 'cause she wouldn't let me use her ipod during study hall. I didn't know Kevin was standing there."

Miranda stood from her chair and crossed to her daughter. Wrapping her in a tight hug, she guided her to the small sofa and sat down with her. She waited while Caroline expelled her grief, wondering if she was going to get through her daughters' approaching teen years with her sanity. When Caroline's sobs slowed to muffled sniffles, she began another lecture.

"You have crossed a few lines this afternoon, Caroline. I obviously don't have to tell you how you hurt your sister. I also don't believe I have to tell you to apologize. I will, however, explain a few things you may have not yet considered." Caroline wiped her nose with the back of her hand and turned her face up to watch her mother closely. "First, you broke your sisters trust with your actions. Trust is often freely given, but broken trust can sometimes be irreparable. I have no idea what you might have to do to earn your sister's trust again. I have a feeling it will take a long time and, knowing your sister, a lot of chocolate. Second, I will not tolerate your callous disregard for your sister's privacy. To expose intimate details of her personal life, even fabricated details, is absolutely unacceptable. Although this crime was against Cassidy, I will dole out the punishment. You will ask for her forgiveness. You will also be doing her share of the household chores for the rest of the month. You will not be going to Sophia's birthday party. You will not be using your ipod, video games, or television for the rest of the month. You will use your computer only for homework. And you will not be texting or phoning your friends for the duration. Are we clear?"

"Yes."

"I hope you have an extensive reading list."

"Yes, mom."

"Wonderful. Now, was that worthy of all the tears?"

"Probably."

"Well… No time like the present. Go find your sister and start begging."

"All right." Before disappearing through the doorway, Caroline turned back with a bright, hopeful light. "Can I still go to the Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday?"

"I will discuss it with your father."

"Ok. See you at dinner."

Caroline ran off and Miranda was left to the peace and quiet of her work. The week Miranda had spent working from home due to the extensive unsightly bruising from her broken nose gave her a rare chance to deepen the bonds with her daughters. Deciding she was not eager to forgo the shared dinners and time for connecting, she started working one or two days a week from home. Now, over two months later, the girls were thriving having her at home and it was a rarity for Miranda to not be home for dinner. She smiled to herself as she replayed their latest interaction over in her mind, wondering how many similar arguments she had never been aware of.

Miranda checked her watch and decided to check for the mail delivery. She found a pile of various envelopes and magazines on the foyer table where Cassidy had mindlessly tossed them. Gathering the lot, she returned to the study, sorting through the pieces to order them by importance. Leaving envelopes of bills, credit offers, and personal correspondence on the corner of her desk, she returned to the couch to thumb through the new Vanity Fair. Curiously, this volume was delivered to her home instead of the office. It was also odd that there was no address label attached. As she flipped through the book she came across a page that had been folded in half. Cocking her head a bit to the side, she unfolded the page to find it was the listing of the principal production staff. Highlighted in neon pink under the heading of Contributing Editors was the name "Andrea Sachs". The laugh that erupted was pure joy.

Miranda tucked herself into the corner of the couch and began to examine her newest prized possession. She found what she was searching for on page 163. The title of a three page article dissecting the Governor's backing of the legalization of gay marriages was circled in the same day glow pink. A note across the top in movingly familiar handwriting stated, "My first solo attempt. How did I do, boss?". Miranda wiped at the tear that trickled down her cheek, the significance of the moment overwhelming her. Pride, respect, and love were all fighting for position in her heart. With a hand to her chest, she began to critique the work of her most promising protégé.

After her third reading of the article, Miranda closed the magazine on her lap, her eyes shut in concentration. Fingers absently covering a satisfied smile, Miranda puzzled how to respond to this missive. Her eyes flew open as the perfect idea presented itself. Pushing herself up hurriedly from her position, she fled to her bedroom to find her copy of last month's Runway. At the bottom of the stack of reading material on her night stand she found the object of her design. Grabbing her red editing pen, she went to work. After tipping the private messenger, Miranda returned to her life and her family. Her actions would produce what they would. She had no more time to dwell on them tonight as the girls were demanding her presence at the dinner table.

Andy Sachs had created quite an impressive splash in the halls of Vanity Fair. Within a month of working as the newest assistant editor she was presented with a pile of articles with the order from on high to "see what you can do with these." On the top of the pile was a current event article about the prospect of gay marriage in New York and the governor's stance on the subject. Andy brought it home with her that evening, returning it the next day covered in red ink. Suffering a serious bout of apprehension, she turned it in to Peter Devine and returned to her desk to hide under the rest of the pile.

A month later a freshly printed copy of Vanity Fair magazine landed on the desk in front of her as she picked at her lunch salad. Looking up through her bangs she saw Peter's back as he returned to his office. With a scrunched brow of confusion, she gingerly picked up the copy and began to page through it. When she turned to the page listing the production staff she saw a huge sharpie drawn circle and a note that said "LOOK"

Following instructions she did look, and then she screamed. Running across the office, she barged into Peter's office without knocking.

"You printed it." Andy accused.

"Of course I did. You did a good job, Andy. You took a dry, frigid piece and breathed life into it. The changes you suggested made it almost lyrical. With your talent and ability, I expect we won't be keeping you here in this position very long. I figure I'll be lucky to get eight months to a year out of you before you realize your worth and leave to make it big on your own. Either that, or we'll break the bank trying to keep you."

"Wow."

"Don't you have some work to do?"

"Oh, right. Yes. Busy, busy." Andy hesitated, almost dancing in place as she tried to make a decision. Suddenly, she hopped in place, then ran around Peter's desk to grab him in a crushing hug. Then she ran out of the office like a forest sprite. She knew without a doubt who she needed to share this event with. She grabbed her purse and ran out of the office on an errand.

Andy hurried to the nearest magazine street kiosk and purchased a copy of Vanity Fair. For some reason, she wanted to procure this particular copy with her own money. Racing back to the office, she called for a messenger and quickly jotted her notes. Once the offering was out of her hands, she returned to work. Now, hours later, she was ensconced in her living room, changing and shaping a piece on a philanthropic multi- millionaire who had a hobby of growing roses.

Later at home, Andy was still working through the rose aficionado feature when the door buzzer caused her to jump in surprise. Puzzled at the interruption she answered, only to become baffled when the door man announced a messenger delivery for her. She traveled to the lobby for her package and returned to rip open a thick manila envelope with no return address. As she kicked her door closed behind her, she tugged a month old, obviously "used" copy of Runway magazine from it's wrapping. She actually stopped to look around, wondering if she might be on Candid Camera. Refilling her wine glass on the way, she scooched back into the cushions of the couch and began to ease her way through an intricate maze of raw emotions.

Without thinking she turned directly to the "letter from the editor" page. Her eyes hungrily absorbed the image of the alluring editor in chief. She had been trying to avoid this very situation since she moved on from Runway. Without visual stimulation she was able to be functional and productive in the work force. Now, with the image of her nightly desires staring challengingly at her from the glossy pages of her past, Andy was rendered temporarily comatose. Five minutes passed before she could tear herself away from the photograph. Strengthening her resolve with a large swallow of wine, Andy turned the page, knowing there was something meant for her to find.

Losing herself in the perfection that Miranda had created, Andy was engrossed in a heady world of beauty and style when she stumbled upon the intended gift. Her mouth dropped open as the reality of what she was seeing slowly filtered through disbelieving eyes. There, on the "out and about" page were her own words, untouched and unchanged by meddlesome editing, circled in red ink. Miranda Priestly had published her restaurant review exactly as she had written it. Recovering from her shock, she noticed more red ink scribbled across the opposite page.

"Andréa, I believe this is a suitable answer to your question. I find it to be… acceptable."

Andy laughed through her tears. She now had proof in writing that Miranda actually liked her. It would never stand up in a court of law, but anyone who really knew Miranda would understand the significance. Andy knew she had to acknowledge Miranda's admission, but she didn't think it should be a direct approach, yet. Considering how she started this game, Andy knew, as her eyes landed on her current project, what her next step would be.

November was usually an exceptionally stressful month for Miranda. She was suffering from the post Paris fashion week, pre holiday issue, not enough days in a month syndrome. This year she was feeling the effects more strongly than ever before. She had lost Andréa, her most competent assistant ever, she had released Nigel from his contract to take a developmental position in a new fashion forward magazine publication, and she was approaching a childless Thanksgiving, since Richard would have the girls. The dragon was cranky and everyone knew to keep their heads down. So, when a young delivery man showed up during a heated run through with a package to be "placed directly into Miranda's hands", Marie had no option but to warn human recourses that they were about to be very busy.

Miranda glowered at the delivery kid as he stood in front of her, white box held out for her like it contained the crown jewels. No one in the room moved, or breathed. The collected sigh of released tension when Miranda finally accepted the package and dismissed the messenger made it feel like a tropical depression had blown through the room. The box was set on the desk and remained there long after the meeting had been adjourned. Later that evening, after all the support staff had vacated, Miranda tore the pull tab from the edge of the box. Her eyebrows shot up incredulously when she drew the new Vanity Fair from it's confines and discovered a single dark pink rose bud nestled within the pages. Opening to the article marked by the rose stem, she felt a now familiar, tender wistfulness fill her chest. The note jotted across the top of the page stated, "Second attempt. So much to say. Who knew flowers could speak so eloquently for us? I hope you enjoy both the article and the rose." Twirling the stem between her fingers, Miranda first read the highlighted passage that explained the language of flowers and listed, specifically, the meanings behind rose colors, numbers, and the presence of thorns.

Miranda arrived home later than she planned and the girls had already gone to bed. She stopped in to check on Caroline first to find her sprawled out across the bed, sound asleep with the lights on and her homework spread out around her. Miranda cleared the bed and tucked the girl in, leaving her with a kiss to her cheek. Her next stop was Cassidy's room. Cassidy was wide awake, listening to music, and reading a romance novel. Miranda tried to control the eye roll of disgust as Cassidy glanced up with the door opening.

"Hi, mom. Your late tonight." The comment was not accusatory, it was simply an observation.

"Yes," Miranda sighed. "It was a very long and busy day. I had hoped to make it home for dessert, if not dinner, but was foiled in my attempt. What are you reading?"

"It's a novel that Jenny loaned me. She says it's 'just awesome'. I'm not finding the awesome, yet."

Miranda shared in the laughter. She was immensely proud and thankful that her girls were so intelligent. "Don't stay up too late, Bobbsey."

"I know. I was just waiting up for you. Where'd you get the flower?"

Miranda started, having forgotten she still held the rose securely in her fingers. Holding it out to present it for closer observation she explained, "A friend sent it to me as a 'thank you'".

"What for?"

"I'm not certain, but I believe for many things."

"Oh. It's pretty."

"Yes, it is. Well, goodnight, Cassidy. Sleep well."

"You too. Love you."

"I love you too."

Miranda continued on her way to her own bedroom. She moved about her room readying for bed. Through her entire routine she kept the rose near by. Collecting the Book from the foyer, the bud traveled with her. She finally set it up in a small crystal vase on her night stand before settling in to finish her work. An hour later, Miranda snuggled into her bedding, ready to quit for the day. Sleep, however, evaded her. Her mind spun, returning to the flower and Andréa.

'What are you up to, Andréa? Just a 'thank you'? A token of your appreciation? Why must you so carelessly torture me? I appreciate the sentiment, but I can not reciprocate. I will not respond. I will not continue this… whatever it is. If I do, if I continue to lead you on, you will never move on. If you do not move on, I will languish here in a hopeless fantasy. No, I will not reply.'

Decision finalized, Miranda rolled over, turning her back to the emblem of her despair. The next morning, despite the rose bud that was opening next to her bed, Miranda set about her preparations for a new day; a day without Andréa Sachs. That door, in her mind, was closed and locked. She would forget the silly girl who had the ability to get around all her walls of defense. She would move on.

The holidays had passed. Andy had spent Thanksgiving with Lily's family, Christmas in Ohio, and now she was planning to ring in the new year with Doug. As they had done many times before, they were getting together for Chinese food, beer, and a heckle fest of the New York city revelers freezing their butts off down on Broadway while the duo holed up safe and warm in Doug's apartment. They were through with their food and well into a case when the conversation turned personal.

"So, what's happening on the dragon lady front?"

"What do you mean?"

"Come on, Andy. I know you too well. You may not be working for her anymore, but you are definitely still enthralled. So what's going on?"

"Nothing."

"Are you denying the attraction now?"

"Doug…"

"Maybe it's time for your intermittent hetero escape."

"What are you talking about?"

"You know… It's a pattern with you. You get a serious girl crush on some woman, and then, since you're too chicken shit to act on it, you hook up with some guy."

"I do not."

"Oh, get real…. Mrs. Baswell in junior high led you to Derek Garvin. Ms. Greely, the high school librarian turned you to Colin Mathews. Then, of course, there was Dr. Stein, humanities department, Northwestern who was thoughtful enough to prep you for our own Nathanial…"

"Shut up."

"Andy, I don't mean to tease you. I just want you to see the error of your ways and fix it. You are all about Miranda Priestly. You need to try for it, girl. Even if you fall flat on your adorable face, you need to try."

"Why?"

"Because, even with all those I've listed, and god knows there are many more, you have never been like this."

"This?"

"Honey, you have been brooding over her for the last two years. You've actually admitted your attraction, and on many a drunken evening, you have cried your heart out in bittersweet yearning. You have never been this effected by anyone. So I really think this is the one you need to act on. I think she may be your 'one'".

"Doug, you are so full of shit."

"That may be. I know I'm full of beer. But you still need to do this."

"And just what am I going to do? Walk up to her and say…?"

"Miranda, you are the hottest thing in town and I wanna do you like nobody's business."

The empty crab Rangoon carton bounced off Doug's head.

The Tuesday after New Year's eve, Andy was called into her bosses office." What's up, boss?" she inquired as she made for one of the leather chairs in front of his desk.

"Andy, you still in with folks over at Runway?"

"Um, not really. The two I was closest to have both been reassigned. I know some of the staff by name. And then, of course, I do know the current assistants to the editor in chief, since I did train them."

"That's good enough."

"Good enough for what?"

"You're going to the literacy benefit wine tasting at the City Winery Friday night."

"What? Why?"

"Because you know people from Runway. And since they're hosting the shindig, you'll do well as our ambassador."

"I don't know 'people'. I was a lowly assistant. No one there will know me."

"Miranda Priestly will."

"Literacy is the pet project of Mrs. Ravitz. Miranda probably wont even be there."

"So, do you know Irv Ravitz?"

"I met him, like, twice. He won't recognize me as anyone important. I really think you should send someone else."

"Sorry, kid. You're it. Dress nice and bring a friend. We're paying for two."

Andy sat in stunned silence. 'Crap.' "Ok, fine. Am I supposed to do anything or just get smashed on your dime?"

"I think it would be a good idea to dip your toes in the writing pool. Bring me a piece on the battle against illiteracy and everything the rich and famous are trying to do to squash it. I'll give you a week."

Andy shoved herself out of the chair and headed for the door when Peter added, "Oh, get a couple of shots while you're there."

"You want me to take photographs?"

"You do know how to point and shoot, don't you?"

"But…"

"No buts. They can be blurry, smudged, out of focus. We'll figure something out. Just do."

Returning to her desk, Andy began dialing her phone.

"Hel-lo" Nigel's voice sang through the air waves.

"Hey Nigel. What are you up to Friday night?"

"I am going to be on a beach in Cancun, soaking up the late afternoon rays and drinking a fancy umbrella cocktail. Why, what are you doing?"

"I'm apparently going to the wine tasting for literacy benefit."

"Ooh. Lucky you."

"You know, Nigel, since you left Runway, you have not been any help to me at all. You don't even have a closet I can rummage through."

"I haven't a closet, but I do still have friends. I know of a real cute Stella McCartney number that will look gorgeous on your size four ass. You're lucky god blessed you with legs that go all the way to there."

"Well, that's something, I guess. You wouldn't want to stuff me in your suitcase and take me to Cancun, would you?"

"Sweetie, on this trip, all I'm packing is my speedo."

"Ewww. TMI."

"I'll send the dress over tomorrow. Good luck on the date hunt."

"Thanks Nigel. Have fun."

"You know I will."

Ringing off from Nigel, Andy proceeded with her second choice.

"Hey, 'sup And?"

"Doug, can you please speak English. You have absolutely no 'street cred'."

"Hello. What is up, Andy?"

"Oh, much better. I was going to invite you to a real cool event, but if you're going to be an ass…"

"What event?"

"Wine tasting for literacy benefit. It's at the City Winery. You know how you like it there."

"And it's free?"

"Except for the price of my soul, yeah."

"What time do I pick you up?"

"Seriously? No concern about my welfare?"

"I assumed you were just being melodramatic. No one sells there souls anymore. Actually, I don't think anyone in New York even has a soul to sell."

"Ok, Mr. cynic. Want to just meet me there?"

"Cool. Save me a trip across town. Can I crash at your place if I get too toasted?"

"Sure. See you at 8:30."

"It's a date. Later."

The winery was still decked out in it's holiday fare, the Christmas lights casting a warm glow about the room. Doug and Andy moved stealthily through the throngs, insinuating themselves into conversations, getting names and quotes. Andy convinced Doug to be in charge of the camera as his payment for the invite to drink free wine. Andy had more than enough information from chatting with Mrs. Ravitz and her cronies that by ten o'clock she and Doug were simply enjoying the event. They were participating in an amusing conversation with Dillon and Sam, a couple of number crunchers from the accounting department , when Andy felt an all too familiar chill crawl up her spine.

"Oh no." She groaned.

"What's wrong, Andy?" Doug asked, concerned with the fact Andy was looking far too white.

"Who just came in?" She asked, without turning.

Doug checked over her shoulder and grimaced. "It's Miranda."

"Crap. I knew this would happen."

Their new friends were a bit confused, but seeing Miranda Priestly at the door, they understood, sort of.

"Oh wow, it's the devil herself. I can't believe you actually worked for her." Dillon remarked.

"Well, I did. And I would prefer you not refer to her as the devil in my presence." Andy's voice was steel. She felt herself getting hot from the innate desire to protect Miranda. Doug took her by the elbow and began to push her away.

"Sorry guys, gotta move along. Still working..." He supplied as an excuse. Dragging Andy to a darkened corner and blocking her from general view he proposed, "She's here. Now's your chance."

"What the hell are you talking about, Doug?", she hissed.

"Go to her. Tell her."

"No!"

"Shhh, keep it down. Do it, Andy."

"I am not going to make a pass at Miranda Priestly at a public venue. Especially when I'm half buzzed."

"I really think you should."

"And I think you need to be cut off. Don't be an ass, Doug. If you say anything, I will never forgive you."

During their entire conversation, Andy's eyes were fixed on Miranda. The woman simply looked amazing. She was draped in a simple Donna Karan stretch jersey dress. The cowl neck showing the perfect amount of skin and the stretchy material clinging in all the right places. Andy's tongue darted out to moisten suddenly dry lips. She noted how Miranda scanned the area, obviously unfamiliar with the venue. She actually giggled when she saw Miranda scowl, knowing that Miranda just realized the restrooms were down a flight of stairs. She choked on her laugh when ice blue eyes locked onto her own. A momentary brightening of Miranda's eyes conveyed her surprise at Andy's presence. Andy felt her stomach flip and a warmth began to radiate from her chest when she saw the smile of undisguised pleasure light up Miranda's entire countenance. Like a moth to a flame, Andy unconsciously pushed past Doug and casually wove her way to Miranda's circle.

"Andréa, I must say, it is lovely to see you." Miranda's cool, seductive voice almost tore a sob from Andy. Rallying quickly, she was able to respond intelligently.

"Miranda, I didn't expect to see you this evening."

"Is that why you came?" Although toying with her, Miranda was worried she was correct in her accusation.

"Oh, god no." Andy lost her edit filter. "I'm here on assignment. I never would have received an invitation on my own."

"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure about that. I expect you will be getting invited to many a gathering very soon."

"That's kind of you to say. So, how are you?"

"I am well. Busy."

"I hear you work from home now. How is that going?"

Miranda tilted her head in that studious way that Andy always found endearing. Considering her available options, Miranda decided to grant Andy her immediate, unspoken wish, and chose to continue with the personal conversation. Something she shared with very few people. "I am home two days of the week. Caroline and Cassidy seem to appreciate my attempt to be more involved with their lives. Although, I expect that to change in a year or two when boys enter the picture."

"You should get them interested in horses."

"Excuse me?"

"Horses. Most girls have a unique affinity for horses. It's a pricey hobby, but it usually keeps them too busy to notice boys. It could potentially keep peace in the house until they graduate high school."

The smile Miranda granted Andy was the real answer to her wish. "Oh, Andréa, I have missed you." Both Miranda and Andy froze as those words slipped out. Andy not missing the fear that flashed into Miranda's eyes, quickly acted in her protective mode, "Well, it was wonderful seeing you, Miranda, but I really must be going. I have another engagement to attend. I hope to see you again."

"Yes, good evening, Andréa."

Andy miraculously found Doug and led him out of the restaurant and down the street before she collapsed against a building and gasped for breath.

"What happened?" Doug asked in confusion, unaware of everything that occurred.

"Jesus, Doug. She misses me."

"So… that's good, right? Why do you look terrorized?"

"Doug, she might really like me. You didn't hear her. Her voice… God Doug."

"Then go back. Tell her."

"No. I can't. Not now. How stupid would that look?"

"I think it would be romantic."

"You think giving a teddy bear on Valentine's day is romantic. This is a little beyond that. This is Miranda."

"Then what are you going to do, smarty pants?"

"I don't know."

"Well at least you know you cando something. She probably won't kill you."

Andy sat up in her comfy arm chair with a hot cup of cocoa, thinking. And thinking. Doug had chattered on, non stop, filling her mind with all sorts of plans to woo Miranda. 'How does someone woo Miranda Priestly?' His efforts included taking Miranda to a Mets game in the spring and proclaiming her love on the giant screen. That was his last great idea before Andy kicked him out of her apartment. He had offered others, like whisking her away on a carriage ride through the park, which, although romantic, seemed somehow to Andy to be beneath Miranda's ilk. Now she found herself at a dead end. 'If only there was a book 'how to seduce an indomitable woman'. Maybe that will be my first best seller, if I figure it out.' Her focus kept slipping back to the roses. Even though Miranda never acknowledged the one rose she had previously sent, the idea kept popping up. She already negated the idea of waiting for Valentine's day. Corny was unbecoming in association with Miranda. If roses were the center of the plan, she needed to figure out the when. Staring at the calendar hanging in the kitchen the plan was created.
January 20th arrived on a Thursday, cold and cloudy. Andy was unperturbed by the overcast gloom. Instead of being mopey and depressed she acted like she had swallowed the sun. Her bright energy radiated outwards and helped most of her coworkers to shake their winter blahs. During her lunch break she took steps to put her plan into motion, starting with an important phone call.

"Miranda Priestly's office" the chipper voice of Marie sang through the phone.

"Hi, Marie. How's it going?"

"Hey, Andy. What's going on?"

"I sort of need a favor." "Sure. Shoot."

"Will you tell me what Miranda has on schedule this evening?"

"She's having dinner with Lagerfeld."

"What time is she leaving the office?"

"If all goes well and stays on time, she should be leaving around 5:30."

"Ok, great. Thanks Marie."

"No problem, Andy. Keep in touch."

Miranda emerged from the Elias-Clarke lobby, phone plastered to her ear as if it had been surgically fused. Striding across the sidewalk, she was deeply engaged in a heated conversation with the twins' father. "…No, I will not be the one to tell them. I won't be responsible for breaking their hearts. You are the one backing out, you will be the one to tell them." Without waiting for anymore excuses from her 'worthless' ex, Miranda flipped the cell phone closed just as she reached the side of the car. Pulling up sharply, she realized Roy was not standing there with the door open for her. About to go off on another tirade, she sniffed in a lungful of air and pursed her lips when her eyes took in the image of Andréa Sachs, leaning against her car. The woman was wrapped snuggly against the bitter cold in a red cashmere wool coat, gray scarf and too thin gloves. In her hand she held a single yellow tearose. When Miranda's eyes finally reached Andy's face, she found a nervous smile on full red lips, enhanced by cold flushed cheeks and happily twinkling, slightly teary eyes.

The two women stared silently at each other for a few heartbeats before Andy jumped away from the car door like something had bitten her in the ass. She blindly scrabbled for the handle and attempted to gallantly open the coach for the "lady in waiting". Miranda wordlessly slipped past the young woman without so much as offering a nod in thanks. Andy closed her eyes against the dismissal and moved to close the door when she heard a gruff "Get in" ordered from within. Grinning like a fool, she slammed the door and ran around the car to climb into the warmth of the Mercedes.

They sat in awkward silence, the car not moving since Miranda had not ordered Roy to go anywhere. Miranda's eyes scanned over the girl again, slowly taking in the vision before her. Andy waited for the perusal, watching Miranda closely and appreciating the toastiness of the heated seats. An involuntary shiver shook her frame, catching Miranda's attention. Miranda glanced pointedly at the bright yellow bud in Andy's hand, easily making the astute connection to it's meaning. Flicking her eyes back to Andy's she smirked and tauntingly asked, "Friends, Andréa?"

"I'd like to think so?" Andy hoped.

"Where are you going?"

"Actually, I have to return to work. I sort of took an extended break to stake out your car."

"Hmm", Miranda processed that bit of information quickly. "Roy", she ordered, her inflection adding all he needed to know.

"Yes, ma'am. Vanity Fair offices, next stop."

Eyes back on Andy's, Miranda searched a few moments, then with a playful roll of her eyes, she extended her hand to accept the gift. Andy reverently placed the single bud in her outstretched hand. As the stem touched flesh, Miranda curled her fingers securely around the stem. Reflexively bringing the bloom to her nose, she inhaled the familiar fresh fragrance.

"Why today?" she questioned, cutting through the bull shit of phony pleasantries.

"To congratulate you on another year of un-matrimonial bliss" Andy answered with a tentative grin.

Laughing outright, Miranda responded, "Only you would think to celebrate the anniversary of my divorce."

"Well, it was a long and arduous process, and, frankly, the man was an ass. I figured you would appreciate my intentions."

"Oh, I do. How did you know?"

"Seriously? Miranda, I was working for you. I knew everything there was to know about you. I couldn't do my job if I didn't. January 20th is a date that will be remembered in history. It was the day you arrived late from the courthouse and actually, verbally complimented me. If your finalization of your

divorce made you happy enough to do something like that, I figured it was worth commemorating."

Miranda was quiet then, gazing out the car window, holding the rose bud to her lips. As the car came to a stop in front of Andy's office, Miranda's reverie broke. She reached out, laying her hand on Andy's forearm, gripping the coat sleeve to keep her from leaving.

"Have you plans tomorrow evening, Andréa?"

"Not yet." Andy replied.

"Would you care to join me for dinner with the girls?"

"Oh, um… sure. But aren't they supposed to be at their father's this weekend?"

"Mmmm, yes. However, something has come up…"

"Oh, I'm sorry. But, yes, I would love to come for dinner."

"Good. 7:30?"

"That'd be great. Thank you."

"Thank you, Andréa." Miranda added, holding her rose out for display.

"You're welcome. Have a good evening."

Andy slid out of the car, leaving Miranda to her thoughts. Striding across the sidewalk towards the building entry, she could not stop the brilliant smile or the laugh that bubbled up.

Miranda sat, lost in the back seat of her car. She was on her way to a sort of business dinner with Karl Lagerfeld, but her mind was stuck on the instant replay loop of her too short interaction with Andréa.

'Oh lord, what am I doing? That girl is going to be the ruin of me. Obviously, attempting to ignore her is not working. If she insists on insinuating herself in my life, I might as well deal with it. What else am I supposed to do? Take out a restraining order against her? That would be a bit overboard, even for me. 'Friends'… I can do that. It would be pleasant to have her as a 'friend'. Perhaps I could continue to mentor her, guide her through the professional labyrinth ahead of her. Friendly companionship is really all I require, anyway. Marriage and passion are obviously over rated.'

Inhaling the floral scent like a drug, Miranda collected herself to disembark and dine with Karl.

"I'm having dinner with her." Andy squealed in a panic through the phone when Doug answered.

"Yay?" He responded quizzically.

"Hell yes, 'yay'. But what should I wear?"

"Oh, is that all you need. With your screaming, I thought I was going to have to call in the National Guard."

"Doug, I need your help. Don't be a poop."

"Right. No pooping. Fine," Doug capitulated, "where are you going?"

"Her house."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I'm having dinner with her and the girls."

"Wow. A family gathering so soon? When's the wedding?"

"Doug? Your pooping again."

"Sorry. Ok. Don't overdo, obviously. But you can't exactly denim down. Hmmm… How about that cute little dress you wore to Nigel's birthday party?"

"The TIBI mini?"

"Yeah, wear it with black tights against the winter chill. It'll look fabulous."

"Yeah, that'll work. Thank you Dougie."

"Of course. You'll get my bill in the mail"

Miranda was nervously pacing the kitchen. She had dismissed her housekeeper, Cara for the evening, not wanting anyone as witness to her probable mid-life crisis. She had no idea what Andréa preferred to eat, so she went with her safest option, vegetarian lasagna. She busied herself with peeking in the oven every two minutes, able to wait patiently for neither the food, nor Andréa. Cassidy wandered in to observe her mother's odd behavior. After the third time Miranda opened the stove, Cassidy quipped, "It's not going to cook if you keep doing that."

"Oh! Where did you come from?"

"I think that had something to do with you and dad." The 'I will kill you' glare Cassidy received made her rethink her plan of attack. "So who is this 'friend' you have coming over?"

Without thinking, Miranda answered, "Andréa".

"Andréa? Andy Sachs? Your assistant? That Andréa?" Cassidy was now completely confused. Why on earth would her mother be so nervous about an assistant coming to dinner. And why was an assistant coming to dinner in the first place?

"Yes, that Andréa. And she is no longer my assistant."

"Oh." Cassidy wasn't sure how to proceed. Her mom was beyond odd. Saving the new information to dissect with Caroline later, Cassidy changed tactics. "Are we having a salad with dinner?"

"What? Oh, yes, of course."

"Did Cara make one?"

The innocent question stopped Miranda mid-stride. Eyes full of horror turned on Cassidy. The girl, actually feeling a little bad at the moment, hopped off her counter stool and checked the refrigerator.

"No salad here, mom. Want me to help?"

"Oh, for…"

"It's ok, mom. Me and Caro can make one. Why don't you go check you e-mail or something?"

"Yes, that's a good idea, Bobbsey. Thank you."

"No problem, mom."

Miranda wandered out of the kitchen, still looking like a deer in the headlights. Cassidy followed her out to the hall then yelled for her sister. She knew for certain something was amiss since her mother did not even flinch at her bellowing through the house. Caroline came pounding down the stairs playing a game on her iphone.

"What up, Cass?"

"I need your help. We have to make a salad. And I think we need to slip mom some valium."

"What? Why?"

"She's all worked up about Andy Sachs coming over. Do you know why she's coming?"

"No clue. Didn't even know."

"Hmm. Oh well, come on."

The girls had just finished their task when the doorbell chimed. Glancing at each other with mischief in their eyes, they raced to the front door, easily beating their mother to the hall. Pushing each other at the door, they both had a hand on the door when it was dragged open to reveal a very chilly Andy.

"Hey Andy" "Hi Andy" the girls welcomed in tandem.

"Hey. How's it going?"

"Pretty well", Cassidy supplied. She stepped aside to admit Andy and pushed Caroline out of the way. Once Andy was in the warm foyer, Caroline offered to take her coat. Andy was halfway out of the sleeves when a soft gasp made her look up. Standing at the bottom of the staircase was Miranda, resplendent in perfectly fitting Bill Blass slacks and a snug cowl neck cashmere sweater, the color of which intensified her ice blue eyes.

"Good evening, Miranda. Thank you for having me." Somehow, Andy was able to achieve a level of hypnotic calm that was in no way available to her until she rang the doorbell.

"Andréa, you look lovely this evening." Miranda's mouth closed into a thin line of dissatisfaction as those words slipped past her lips.

The women stood, weighing each other up while the girls looked from one to the other, wondering what the hell was happening. Miranda recovered first and properly invited Andy into the house. Shucking her coat the rest of the way, Andy followed Miranda towards the sitting room, leaving Caroline to struggle with hanging the coat and Cassidy to ponder the sight.

"What the hell?", Cassidy put forth.

"I know. Is mom high?"

"Or something…"

Once in the sitting room, Miranda found her equilibrium by hiding in the conversational security of business, questioning Andy about her job and future plans, and sharing in a glass of wine. Andy came alive with the discussion, eager to share her plans of submitting completed works to a few different periodicals. She already had a positive response from the New York Times, and she had three other pieces in circulation, hoping for the best. Miranda was impressed with Andy's efforts and successes. She wanted so much for the woman and she was so eager for her dreams to come to fruition, she offered without thought, "Perhaps I could offer a thought or two?"

"You mean you want to proof my work?"

"Only if you wish."

"Miranda, that would be so… Thank you. I would love your input."

"Yes, well, send something along. I will look it over."

"Wow. You don't need anything for Runway, do you?"

"Let's start with what you already have written." Miranda advised, amused at Andy's persistent nature.

"Oh, sure. Just… since wishes are coming true." Andy beamed.

"Are they, Andréa?"

Something in Miranda's voice caught Andy's full attention. The women found themselves , once again studying each other, trying to read minds. The connection was severed with the sound of the oven timer. Miranda jumped a little, then stood to excuse herself.

"Would you like a hand?" Andy offered before Miranda could say anything.

"That won't be necessary. But, thank you."

"I really don't mind." Andy pushed, rising to her feet and falling into step along with Miranda.

"Well, if you insist…" Miranda smiled.

Cassidy and Caroline remained in the sitting room, flummoxed over the fact their mother had pretty much forgotten their existence.

"Holy shit." Cassidy breathed.

"What was that?" Caroline inquired.

"Don't freak, Caro, but I think mom has fallen in love."

"No way!"

"Way." Neither girl had turned their eyes from the doorway through which their mother had just exited. "This is so surreal." Standing, Cassidy offered her hand to her sister, "Come on Caro, let's go get to know our new step mom."

The dinner progressed surprisingly well. Andy found herself relaxing easily due to the interaction with Cassidy and Caroline. Both of the girls were friendly, and seemed more than happy to spend their evening getting to know their mom's "friend". By the time their dessert of fresh fruit was served, the girls had Andy laughingly revealing blackmail worthy secrets of her childhood.

"… to this day, my brother has no idea I was the one who put the snake in his bed."

"That was a good one Andy. I'll have to remember that." Caroline giggled.

"If you ever bring a reptile into this house…" Miranda warned.

They all dissolved in tears of laughter over the look of disgusted horror on Miranda's face.

As the evening wound down, the girls had their attempt to challenge Andy to "her choice" of a Wii game shot down when Andy begged off due to the late hour. Miranda, not wanting their time to come to an end offered "Perhaps Andréa will be willing to play next time."

The offer was voiced. Miranda wanted Andy back. The girls waited, eyes wide in excited expectation. Miranda waited, her heart unknowingly on the chopping block. Andy waited, for the other shoe to drop. This had to be some kind of joke. Miranda, dinner, offers of editorial advice, an open invitation to return… It had to be a dream. With no punch line coming, Andy mentally shrugged and decided to go along with it, "Yeah, sure. Next time. And I'll kick your butts." The energy shift was palpable. Everyone in the room seemed to heave a sigh of relief. Feeling the need to process everything that had happened, Andy decided to bid them adieu. The girls made to follow under the excuse of helping with Andy's coat. One look from Miranda halted their steps.

"I believe your talents will be better put to use in the kitchen." Miranda evenly suggested.

The girls turned and started collecting the dishes from the table. Miranda escorted Andy to the foyer without assistance. Holding her coat out for her, Miranda helped Andy prepare for the cold winter night. Andy turned her back to the front door to thank her hostess.

"Miranda, I had a lovely evening. Thank you for having me."

"Of course. Thank you for being so kind to my daughters."

"Oh, please. That was easy. They really are great kids."

"Mmm. Perhaps they are improving with age."

"Aren't we all?"

Once again, Miranda was caught unawares. Was Andy making an innocuous comment or was there an important implication Miranda needed to pay attention to. Her distress was replaced with the demand of the imminent farewell.

"Well, good night, Miranda. Thanks again."

Andy's reach for the door was again interrupted, just like that last night she said goodbye in this very foyer. Miranda lightly grasped Andy's elbow and abruptly closed the distance between them. This time there was no hesitation. Miranda kissed both of Andy's cheeks. No air kiss. Lips definitely touched skin.

"Goodnight, Andréa. Be careful." Andy smiled at Miranda's concern and headed out into the New York night.

Miranda returned to the kitchen, astonished to hear the twins talking so animatedly about Andréa. "I think she's pretty cool." Cassidy voted.

"She's all right, I suppose. At least she's able to tell us apart. We were able to confuse Stephen the whole time he was around. And she does pay attention to us."

"You think she really is any good at Wii?

"Probably not. She's, like, what? Thirty? No one that old is any good at it."

"You will be happy to know she is twentysix. And, I might add, when the time comes, I will place my money on Andréa." Miranda answered from the doorway.

"Mom, You aren't supposed to eavesdrop."

"It was not my intent. I didn't exactly sneak back here to listen to the two of you. But I am relieved at what I did hear."

"You really like her, don't you?" Cassidy innocently asked.

"Yes I do, Bobbsey. I like her very much."

Andy checked her cell phone during her walk to the subway. She had four texts and two voicemail messages from Doug. Each of them pleading for her to call. She waited until she made it home before responding.

"Where the hell have you been?"

"You know where, Doug."

"You mean you just got out of there?"

"I just got home, yeah."

"Wow. It went well, then."

"You could say that. I've been given permission to return, and she offered to look over some of my work."

"No shit? That's really cool. So, did you get a kiss goodnight?"

"Ummm."

"Oh, wow. Really?"

"She kissed my cheeks."

"Really kissed? Or air kissed?"

"Really kissed."

"Wow. You are so in, Andy. Congratulations, girl."

"Don't get too ahead of yourself, Doug. May be nothing more than friendship."

"People like Miranda do not really kiss their friends. I will bet you twenty bucks, next time she goes for lips."

"You are such an ass," Andy laughed. "I am not going to bet with you about that."

"Cause you know I'm right. Kudos to you."

"Go to bed, Doug. I think you're over tired."

"Whatever. We on for 'hole in the wall' night tomorrow?"

"I'll be there. Is Lily in this week?"

"Yeah. She has a break while this current show has an extended run."

"Great. See you guys tomorrow."

During the week following their dinner, Miranda received an e-mail from Andy with an expected attachment. She printed out the article so she could have easier access to make recommendations. As per her usual method, she did a quick run through to get the gist of the story and the feel of the author, then she re-read to nitpick. The article was a sociopolitical piece discussing the ideals of mandatory health insurance for every person in the U.S. Andy had artfully managed to weigh all sides of the topic without slipping into bipartisan rhetoric and without forcing her own opinion on the reader. It was a fair, well constructed exposé. Miranda fired off a response text after only a moment's thought.

"Dinner tonight?"

The answer arrived twenty minutes later.

"Sure. I'm free. Where, when?"

"Pick you up at 7"

The town car pulled up to collect Andy at 6:58. She giggled at Roy's ability to be so punctual with his driving. She outright laughed when Roy climbed out of the car to hold the door for her. Patting his arm in passing, she gratefully slid into the oasis of warmth. Seeing Miranda calmly waiting across the seat, Andy beamed a greeting, "Hi"

"Good evening, Andréa. I hope you are well."

"Oh yeah. I'm great. How are you?"

"Very well, thank you." Miranda was a bit stiff and distant. She was fighting to maintain some sense of decorum, being as every fiber in her making was straining to lean across the seat and take Andy in a searing kiss.

"So where are you taking me?" Andy asked brightly.

"Where would you like to go?"

"Oh" Andy gasped, "I have no idea." She considered a moment, then asked, "Do you want to go for sushi?"

"That would be acceptable."

"Do you trust me?" Andy playfully pushed.

"With my life." Miranda deadpanned.

"Awesome. Roy, do you know Hana Sushi down on Campbell?"

"I can find it." He replied.

He did find it. By eight o'clock, Miranda and Andy were enjoying a spread of fresh yellow tail, tuna, and eel sashimi, and, at Andy's request, a dragon roll. Miranda was casually sipping a glass of sake while watching Andy enjoy her dragon roll. Miranda could not remember the last time she shared a meal with someone who truly enjoyed everything about the food.

"Are you planning to dispose of everything in one sitting?" Miranda teased.

"Aren't you here to help?" Andy playfully shot back.

"Not to the extent you need."

"Oh well. That's what they make doggie bags for."

"Indeed."

Andy sat back, happy in the warmth that filled her. It was not a side effect of the delicious food, but of the smile that lit Miranda's eyes as she gazed across the table at Andy.

"So," Andy refocused on their meeting, "Was there something you wanted to discuss? Did you have a chance to look at my article?"

"Yes, and yes." Miranda fished Andy's article from her bag. Sliding it across the table she commented, "This may well be a first for me."

Andy looked up at her with a questioning expression, waiting for her to continue.

"I do not remember ever being put in the position of editing a paper that I could not in some way improve."

"What? Miranda what are you saying?"

"I am saying, I do not think you need to make any changes in this piece. I am saying, it does not need editing, it simply needs to be published. I would suggest U.S. News, but you could also go to the Times again."

"Miranda, are you serious? You aren't just being nice, are you?"

"Do you expect an answer to that ridiculous question?"

"Um… no? But… I mean… really? You wouldn't change anything?"

"Nothing."

"You must be joking."

"I rarely joke, Andréa."

"Wow."

"Yes. Now, are you going to order some of that awful fried ice cream, or may we go?"

"Oh, we can definitely go."

Roy pulled up in front of Andy's apartment building and stepped out of the car, waiting by the door for the sign. Andy turned to Miranda, hesitating. She squinted a little, trying to read through Miranda's calm mask of indifference. Feeling untouchable from Miranda's comments, she decided to dive in.

"Miranda, would you care for a nightcap?"

"As lovely as that sounds, I am afraid I must decline. I have an early breakfast meeting tomorrow and I still have the Book."

"Oh, of course." The sudden deflation of Andy's mood proved unacceptable to Miranda.

"I can not come in tonight, Andréa, but perhaps you will be available this weekend?"

"Oh, sure. I believe I'm free. I have dinner plans Friday night, but otherwise my calendar is clear."

"Very good. The townhouse, Saturday, at six?"

"I'll be there. Good night, Miranda."

"Good night."

Andy would never be able to say what came over her that evening. All she knew was something pulled her across the back seat of that Mercedes and made her press her lips to Miranda's cheek. Only, she missed the woman's cheek and her brain pretty much exploded when she realized her lips were pressed against Miranda's lips. The only thing more shocking than that fact was the realization that Miranda's lips were moving against her own. And not in an "I'm trying to protest" way, but in a responsive, "I'm kissing you back" way. Andy's moan at that understanding caused a flood in two pairs of panties.

Pulling away, Andy sat back against the door on her side of the car, blinking slowly and unable to see anything but Miranda's now moist lips.

"Um…"

"Shhhh, don't say anything to ruin this." Miranda whispered fiercely.

"I, uh… oh."

"Just go home. I will see you Saturday."

"Oh, ok." She pushed at the door which silently opened fully with Roy's assistance. "Good night", Andy whispered over her shoulder.

"Good night, Andréa."

"It's 11:30 on a school night… What do you want?" Doug's voice whined over the line.

"I kissed her."

"That's nice. Will you buy her chocolates next?"

"Doug, I'm serious. I kissed her."

"You mean kissed her, kissed her?"

"On the lips."

"Wow"

"And she kissed back."

"Bigger wow. What exactly does that mean?"

"I don't know. She doesn't hate the idea of kissing me."

"And?"

"And, I'm going to her house Saturday night."

"Oh, this is good. You are either in or she's going to kill you and hide the body. Maybe I should go with you."

"Oh, forget that, you perv. You are not going to be within a ten block radius. I mean it Doug. I will kill you if you do anything stupid."

"Oh, like I would. If you don't want me to mess with you, then stop calling me with your sordid updates. God. You're worse now than when you gave it up to Colin Mathews."

"Ok, this conversation is over."

"No, hey, come on… Andy?"

Saturday was a nasty rainy day. The sun never had a chance to make an appearance and everyone Andy encountered through the day was cranky and argumentative. By the time she arrived on Miranda's doorstep, she was weary and worn. All she wanted was a stiff drink and a warm bed. As the door swung open onto Miranda's hostile countenance Andy lost her objectivity.

"Oh hell. What did I do? Do I have the wrong shoes on?"

"What are you on about, Andréa?"

"You. You look like your about to have me executed and I just got here. If you brought me here because of the other night… Oh shit. You brought me here to ream me out and then send me packing. Well I'll save you the time." She turned to stalk off but was stopped by a strong hand grabbing the back of her coat before she could make the first step.

"Will you get in here." It wasn't really a question. Miranda physically dragged Andy into the house and slammed the door. "What is the matter with you?" She demanded.

"I already told you. You look like you want to kill me. Why the hell would I stay?"

"I do not want to kill you. I am sorry if I seem upset. I just got off the phone with the girls' father. He pissed me off. Not you."

"Oh. Sorry." Andy offered sheepishly.

"And well you should be. Like I haven't had enough of a headache today, but now I have to coddle my girlfriend?"

"I'm sorry, your what?"

"Would you be so kind as to open the wine?" Miranda asked as she led Andy into the kitchen, ignoring her question.

"Yeah, sure." Andy muttered. "Your what?" she tried again.

"Let's not get into this just yet. I would like a pleasant meal with equally pleasant company. Is that all right with you?"

"Yes, of course." Silence filled the air while Andy opened and poured the wine. Moving to stand beside Miranda at the stove, she handed a glass over and offered contritely, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone off on you like that at the door. I had a real crappy day."

"That makes two of us. Perhaps we can start over." Miranda suggested.

"Great. So, how was your day?"

Miranda's bark of laughter released all the tension that had built up in the first five minutes of their evening. Shaking her head in disbelief she replied, "I really don't think you want to talk about that."

"Nah, not really. Want to tell me why Richard had you in such a tizzy?"

"He has a very bad habit of promising the most wonderful things to our daughters and then does not come through. Last weekend was supposed to be his weekend with them. He had promised a trip up north for a skiing weekend. Of course, he called last minute with his apology and 'business is crazy' excuse. This weekend, I agreed the girls could go, without argument. He now called to tell me, as it turns out, it really isn't a convenient weekend for him and they will be returning first thing in the morning. He apparently spent the day at work, leaving them home alone."

"Ooh. Not good. Does he ever come through?"

"Oh, yes. Just enough with the real big guns so that the girls forgive all the stupid little things."

"Yeah, but in the end, they'll remember the little things. You'll be the favorite."

Miranda actually grinned at that. "This is not about who comes out on top in the end."

"Oh come on. It is… a little."

"Not that I will ever admit."

"You are such a faker. The girls adore you, ya know."

"I can hope."

"They do. I'm pretty sure they would prefer to go on a ski weekend with you any day."

"You say the nicest things."

"Do you not remember the scene at the front door?"

"So, you say the nicest things once plied with alcohol."

"And food. Don't forget the food. I'm starving."

"Of course. Will you give me a hand?"

They remained in the kitchen, keeping their evening informal. Andy made short work of her roasted chicken dinner, filling up mostly on salad and steamed vegetables. Miranda could not resist the comment as she cleared the table, "You really were hungry, weren't you?"

"I told you. I actually haven't had anything today but coffee twelve times over."

"Why did you skip?"

"Busy running down interviews. I'm a working woman, you know."

"Mmm. Let's move this someplace more comfortable."

The word comfortable suddenly had the reverse effect on Andy. Her stomach knotted and she began to feel exceedingly hot. She had no idea what Miranda had in mind for the evening, but she did know what she had been fantasizing about since their last meeting. Miranda led her upstairs to her study. She had a fire going and the lights turned down. Waving Andy towards the sofa, she strayed to the liquor cabinet to pour after dinner drinks. Joining Andy on the couch, Miranda handed her a snifter, half filled with an amber liquid. To Andy's raised brows Miranda answered, "This is cognac. Sip it slowly, let it sit on your tongue."

Andy was close to fainting. Miranda's low, husky voice, slowly explaining to her how to drink and stressing the word tongue, almost made the poor girl whimper. She followed directions and tasted the smooth brandy, letting it sit a moment before swallowing. She glanced at Miranda to find her sitting with her head tipped back and her eyes closed in satisfaction. Andy gulped when she saw Miranda's throat move as she swallowed. Miranda smiled wickedly, fully aware of the response she was eliciting from Andy. Cracking her eyes open to slits she watched Andy while she seductively chuckled, "God, you are so easy."

Too far gone from unrequited longing, Andy could not take the remark negatively if she tried. Instead of getting defensive she turned it back on Miranda, saucily countering,

"You play your cards right and you'll find out just how easy I am."

This caused Miranda to open her eyes fully and turn them on Andy. For the first time ever, Andy witnessed Miranda Priestly at her most desirous. Despite her years as Miranda's assistant, exposed to the entire prism of Miranda's moods, she was not prepared for the enormity, the raw potency of Miranda's physical need. She had been on the receiving end of anger, amusement, sarcasm, teasing, even fondness. But this, this was overpowering. Andy briefly thought that this was the real devil, and she was more than willing to sell her soul.

It wasn't a power play. It was not about dominance. The cool voice beckoning, saying simply, "come here", was a voice of pure distilled need. Andy responded intuitively. She found herself on her knees in front of Miranda, her body tucked tightly between Miranda's thighs. The pain of her hair being pulled was forgivable considering what Miranda was doing with her tongue. Andy pulled. She had no idea what she had in her hands, but she pulled. In response, Miranda slid forward, eliminating any air space between them.

The kiss escalated, if that was even possible, interspersing active tongues with nipping teeth. There was a sound, a sigh, or a moan, that filtered through to register in Miranda's brain. She needed this, she wanted this, she wanted and needed to move it to a bed. Pushing hard to break the connection, she dug her fingers into Andy's blouse to keep her from moving too far away. Both of the women were panting, struggling to control their breathing despite the surging hormones. Miranda watched, transfixed, as her own hand rose to stroke along Andy's face. Making eye contact, Miranda pleaded, "Bedroom. Now."

Her answer was a devastatingly beautiful grin. Andy easily rose to her feet and pulled Miranda up from the couch, allowing for a full body embrace. Another oral battle ensued, both more than eager to demonstrate their lingual expertise. A break for air gave Miranda the chance to try again, "Bed, Andréa. Now."

"Yes, Miranda"

They made it to Miranda's bedroom after a fashion. Remarkably, they were both still fully clothed when they passed through the threshold. When they found the bed, Miranda pushed Andy over, toppling her onto the mattress. She then ripped her own blouse from her shoulders. Andy watched buttons fly across the room, then turned wide, fearful eyes back to Miranda. The older woman was now topless and Andy's mouth went dry. Miranda was a work of art come to life. Alabaster, luminescent skin enhanced the beauty of a body sculpted to perfection. Other's eyes may have taken note of the stretch lines across her abdomen, or the slight droop of the flesh, but Andy saw only the supreme being that was Miranda Priestly.

"Dear god, you are beautiful."

"And you are drunk with desire."

"You complaining?"

"No. Just wondering what you will think in the morning."

"Leave it 'til morning. Let's deal with now."

Andy reached out and pulled Miranda onto the bed, the sound of Miranda's laughter at Andy's almost brutish physical display only added to Andy's desire. Miranda turned the tables again, distracting Andy with her roaming hands. When they pushed under Andy's shirt and popped the front clasp to her bra, Andy held her breath, waiting for what was to come. She cried out in surprise when Miranda tore her shirt open and latched onto a hardened nipple with her previously proven talented mouth. Despite Miranda's delightful aptitude, Andy was still able to speak.

"You do know I only came with the one shirt tonight? What am I going to wear home?"

"Are you really worried about that right now?" Miranda asked, just before biting down on the nipple she had been playing with.

"Oh god… no."

Miranda continued to lavish attention on Andy's breasts, at the same time she unfastened her young lovers slacks and pushed them down. She released Andy's nipple with a pop to move down the bed and pull the offending clothing completely off. Mission accomplished, she began to crawl back up the bed but got sidetracked. She sunk to the mattress, pushing her shoulders between Andy's knees. Placing a sucking kiss to Andy's right thigh as an introduction, she then shifted and drew a scream from Andy's throat, "Oh fucking…" Miranda would have laughed if she wasn't concentrating so hard. Andy was already obscenely wet so Miranda was taken aback by the fresh flood that soaked her chin.

Tempted by the slickness of Andy's folds and the texture against her tongue, Miranda had to experience the feel of her from within. Her fingers reached and explored, rubbing and pushing in a rhythm that had Andy's hips following along. Miranda immediately complied when Andy issued an order, "Oh, god, Miranda… more, please, more…"

Three fingers in and Andy was panting like a steam train, begging for release. Unsure what more she could do to help, Miranda returned to her original plan and added her mouth to the mix. The scream of "Oh FUCKING CHRIST" was a sure bet she made the right choice. Andy's inner walls bearing down on Miranda's fingers confirmed it.

As Andy recovered from an unbelievably powerful orgasm, Miranda rested her head on a bare thigh, pouting that she was unable to visually witness her Andréa in the throes of passion's climactic moment. Andy suddenly found Miranda lying alongside her, kissing her voraciously. As soon as Andy began to respond to the kisses Miranda's hand was between her legs. "Mmpf" was the only protestation she could make. Miranda was making her body sing. She had never been played in such a single minded manner before. Miranda wanted to give her pleasure. Being visually centric, she wanted to see the reaction to that pleasure. She was also a very impatient person at heart. To that end, she was going to send Andy over again if it killed them both. When Andy came again, crying Miranda's name, Miranda was able to fulfill her own wish.

"Beautiful, absolutely beautiful." Miranda murmured, a tear sliding down her cheek.

Andy had fallen asleep. Miranda, pleased with the initial outcome of their evening, was content to watch her resting. But even in this sense of satisfied bliss, she could not keep her hands off. While Andy slept, Miranda stroked her hair, smoothed her hand over the exposed skin, constantly touched. Andy stirred, waking from her abrupt but brief slumber. As soon as her eyes found Miranda her hunger returned ten fold. "Miranda", her voice thick with want and emotion sounded choked. Miranda bravely made eye contact and lost her breath for her trouble. The desire burning in Andy's eyes was mesmerizing. Stunned, Miranda was a willing victim to Andy's attack.

Andy first realized that Miranda was still in her slacks. That would not do. She quickly maneuvered to draw the pants down Miranda's legs, taking the time to kiss and massage the skin as it was exposed. On her way back up Miranda's body, her touch began to tease and tickle. The reverent massage was forgotten, the intent had changed, and Miranda's body responded. Andy paused at Miranda's belly, tendering sweet kisses across the lines that were proof positive Miranda had borne children. Miranda cringed and tried to wiggle away from the focused attention, but Andy would have none of that.

"Stop. Your kids are so much a part of you. To love you, I have to love all of you. Your kids and whatever scars they contributed to."

Miranda stilled at the comment. She stretched her hand down and pulled Andy up by her arm. Andy tried to kiss her but Miranda blocked her with her hand. Finally getting Andy's attention, Miranda confronted her.

"Love me?"

"What?"

"You said for you to love me. Do you?"

"I've been trying to show you."

"Andréa…"

"Yes. All right? Yes, I love you." Andy became defensive. "Why? Is it too soon? Is it too over the top? Well, I can't help it, Miranda. I have been in love with you for a long time."

"Since when?"

"I don't know, exactly. Since Paris."

"Oh."

"Yeah.", Andy came close to pouting.

"Andréa?"

"Yes?"

"Please, finish what you started."

The grin was back. Andy rushed to fulfill Miranda's latest order. Her hands wandered, finding their own paths over the peaks and valleys of Miranda's body. Miranda was writhing with unreleased tension. Her body was strung so tightly, it would only need a stiff wind to get off. Andy was paying close attention. When Miranda was near sobbing for release, Andy rolled her onto her stomach and began to tease her, tickling across her back. Miranda wailed her frustration when Andy found the sensitive nerve endings across her lower back. Trailing her light touch across Miranda's buttocks, Andy slipped a hand down to Miranda's knees and pushed them apart. Running her fingers lightly back up her inner thigh, Andy had Miranda pushing her hips into the mattress, desperate for release. Finally, Andy gave in and ran her fingertips through Miranda's soaking center. She flicked at the glistening folds and brushed against the swollen clit. Miranda broke, losing all sense of pride, she began to plead.

"Oh please… please… help me, please…"

Andy's slipped two fingers deep into Miranda's core. Miranda's hips pushed back and up, forcing Andy deeper. Andy was kneeling between Miranda's legs. She pulled at Miranda's hips, dragging Miranda onto her lap, pushing her ass up even higher. Now Andy had her where she wanted her. The woman was out of control with need and Andy was the one who had the key for release. She also had her trust. Honoring that, Andy added a third finger, stretching Miranda and creating greater friction. Miranda began to move, countering each of Andy's thrusts, sucking at Andy's fingers, demanding more. Andy twisted her hand allowing her thumb access and applied the necessary pressure to Miranda's clit. Miranda screamed into the pillow as she was pushed into sensory overload.

The steam from the shower helped to loosen the muscles that had been overused during the night. Miranda sighed with pleasure. Her body was still thrumming from an early morning orgasm. The scent of the body wash was invigorating, and the hands rubbing it over her body were more than enticing. As the hands began to drift lower, Miranda murmured, "I knew this was a mistake."

"What?" Andy responded with an injured tone, "Don't you like what I do?"

"Oh darling, it is not that I don't like what you do. It's that I like it too much."

"When are the girls going to be home?"

"They should be here around ten."

"So that gives us a good hour before we really have to get ready."

"Andréa, stop. How many times must you do this?"

"Many, many, many times." she grinned.

"Fine, if you must…"

At ten fifteen Cassidy came banging through the front door, yelling back out to the street as she did so, "Caroline, don't forget my ipod."

"Cassidy, must you…" "Oh! Hi mom. Hi Andy" Cassidy beamed. "Have a good weekend so far?", she asked on her way to her room.

"Yup" Andy smirked, unable to help herself.

Miranda rolled her eye in exasperation. "That's all I need. Another teenager."

"Oh, stop.", Andy admonished.

Caroline struggled through the front door, dragging their bags behind her. "Cassidy," she called, "can't I have help now?"

"No," came from the second story. "The bet was for the whole day. I won, so you're the slave girl. Have fun."

Miranda reached for Andy's hand. "Are you sure you want to be a part of this?"

"Hell yes. Don't try to get out of it now."

With a quick kiss to bee stung lips, Miranda turned and pulled Andy along towards the stairs. Following Caroline up to their rooms she called, "Girls, we need to talk."