Disclaimer: See part 1.
A/N - Heads up, people. Some violence implied and briefly described. Just in case it triggers something, OK?
A/N 2: It is amazing what a response I got for finally getting my act together and working on finishing this story. I am so happy about that! Thanks again!
A/N 3: Thank you for waiting for me to end this story - this is the last installment of After Paris and I hope you will like it!
By Gun Brooke
Miranda woke up earlier than usual and reluctantly pulled herself free from Andrea's arms. Miranda had never been able to sleep so close to someone before. Usually, she demanded her own space, preferably her own room entirely. Now she couldn't imagine not feeling Andrea close to her, the long lanky arms loosely around her as Andrea spooned her. Their scent mingled and allowed her to believe that this was meant to be, as unlikely as this relationship seemed to most people—herself included.
Tiptoeing across the room, Miranda made e detour to the bathroom and then went into her study where she pressed the Dolce Gusto machine for her best kept secret—a black double espresso. Everyone knew she liked her scorching hot lattes during the days, but the morning espressos were what enabled her to hit the ground running. Now her nerves made her wish she could add some of her favorite whisky to the coffee. She booted her computer and wrote in the URL to Melissa's vile blog. To her relief, all she got was a message that the web site was not available. So far so good.
She went through the New York papers, both respectable and tabloids, but apart from a nice photo of Miranda and Andrea exiting a car outside the townhouse, there was no mention of any false rumors or sordid descriptions. Creating several web searches for their names, as well as Caroline and Cassidy's, gave the same result. Whatever her contacts had pulled off, they had put out the immediate fire. After the Ellen interview today, Miranda dared to have confidence they were on a better track than yesterday.
"You up to?" Andrea stood in the doorway, only dressed in a bedsheet. "Can't sleep?"
"I wanted to get a head start with today's news cycle."
Looking alarmed, Andrea blinked. "And?"
"Nothing. Just a picture that I quite like of the two of us. No mention of our private lives or anything about the girls." Miranda stood and padded over to Andrea, wrapping her arms around her waist. "I only have one more thing to take care of regarding this and then we should be able to move on."
"What thing?" Andrea frowned, but then she shivered. "Marissa?"
"Yes. You know I can't let her get away with what she tried to do to us."
"Can't we leave well enough alone?" Looking pleadingly at Miranda, Andrea stroked her back, which caused Miranda to tremble."
"She is a snake. We both know it. She has it in for us, and you in particular, because she's jealous. If we don't show her what happens when you threaten us, she will stab you in the back just as you think she's gone away." Miranda knew she sounded hard and relentless, but she did have more experiences with the likes of Marissa than Andrea after all.
"I suppose." Andrea pressed her face against Miranda's neck and inhaled. "Mm. You smell so good."
Chuckling, and a little out of breath, Miranda held on harder to Andrea. "I do, do I? And here I thought a shower was in order."
"Oh, I don't mind a shower," Andrea said, her tone lighter. She winked at Miranda and pulled her back to their bedroom and into the ensuite. "You are full of—clever ideas." She laughed as Miranda mock scowled at her. "But you are!"
"I'll remind you of saying that in just a minute," Miranda said and bit into the soft skin on Andrea's neck making her yelp.
"Oh. Oh…" Andrea looked down at the bedsheet that slipped off her and onto the floor. "Two can play that game." She untied Miranda's robe and let it join the bedsheet at their feet. Pulling Miranda into the shower with her, she looked so happy, and so content, Miranda knew she would fall in love with this woman every day for the duration of her life.
As Miranda began to lather Andrea's smooth skin with the ridiculously expensive body wash that would give them the same scent throughout the day, she thought of how miserable she had been after Andrea quit in Paris. Now, afterward, she thought the absence and constant missing had primed Miranda for opening her heart to Andrea.
"I love you," Miranda whispered under the soft spray of water. "I love you so very much, Andrea."
Andrea's hands stopped in mid-motion and then shifted to cup Miranda's cheeks. "I love you to. With every cell in my body. I love you and I adore the girls."
"Stay with me, with us, please." Miranda was grateful they were in the shower as tears rose in her eyes. "Don't leave me again."
Andrea's eyes grew wider and then she nodded. "I don't want to be away from you ever again. I won't leave." She pressed her lips to Miranda's. "I can't imagine my life without you in it. Like this."
"Same here, darling." Holding Andrea tight, Miranda placed her lips just behind Andrea's earlobe. "If you'd leave, you'd take the best part of me with you. I'm not blind to the fact that people notice that I'm more…more human, when I'm with you. As opposed to being devilish, I suppose."
"I find the mix kind of sexy, though." Andrea looked quite devilish herself when she grinned at Miranda. "Speaking of sex…I have a suggestion of something I want to try."
Out of breath, Miranda nodded weakly. "Oh, yes?"
"Mm-hm. Just stop me if you don't like it, okay?"
"Okay." Miranda tipped her head back as Andrea grabbed the handheld shower head knelt at her feet. "Oh, dear Lord." Then she gripped the handle bar and closed her eyes as she let Andrea have her way with her. There was no way in hell she would ever discourage Andrea's creativity when it came to making love. As the spray of the warm water hit between her legs and she felt Andrea's breath caress her sensitive folds, Miranda whimpered.
Loving Andrea Sachs made the hard days after Paris completely worth the pain.
Caroline and Cassidy hurried down the stair, so eager to see what Mom and Andy were up to. For their mother to take an entire week off Runway when nobody was sick or wounded, was unheard of.
"Hello, girls," Mom said and looked up from where she sat in her silk, grey robe on the couch in the den. Andy was reading a book, her head in mom's lap.
"Hi kiddos. Thought we would have to make it brunch instead of breakfast today." She swung her long legs to the side and sat up. Mom wrapped an arm around Andy's waist and held out her other hand toward them. Caroline squeezed in between Andy and Mom, while Cassidy sat next to Andy and place her head on her shoulder.
"You should have woken us," Caroline complained. "You know we can't sleep well before our birthday." Mom had never been the type who woke them up carrying a cake, but still.
This was clearly unfathomably funny to Andy and Mom who both chuckled.
"Sorry." Mom snorted. "Happy birthday, bobbseys. How does being twelve suit you?"
"Just fine!" Cassidy grinned. "I'm going to get more and more preteen until I'm thirteen."
"Oh, God." Mom sent a panicked look at Andy. "Somehow I must have blocked that fact out."
"Don't worry, Miranda. I think with our combined forces we can hold these two in check." She sounded serious, but tickled both girls as she spoke, making them squeal. "Why don't you go and look at your presents over there."
"Presents!" Caroline had actually forgotten about that part for a few minutes. Sitting with Mom and Andy and her sister on the couch was pure bliss after what had happened a month ago. Having Andy living with them permanently had sure helped sooth all their frayed nerves.
Andy's mom Ginny visited often and Caroline and Cassidy were working up the courage to ask her if they could call her grandma. Once Andy had decided to tell her dad to keep away and not call her until he had come to a different conclusion, yet another part of what stressed everyone mellowed. Sometimes the twins could see Andy was sad, but they knew just how to distract her. Video games, board games, card games, Andy liked them all. They even persuaded Mom to try Guitar Hero, which she turned out to be quite good at.
Beth was a frequent guest and the three of them got along very well. Once, Caroline overheard Beth's mother tell Andy that Beth's therapist credited the twins for how quickly Beth was working her way through the PTSD.
Caroline spotted a small present that was from Andy. There was a similar one for Cassidy and they opened them simultaneously. A simple silver chain held a charm with a photo of the four of them etched into the silver. On the back, it simply said "4US". Blinking against some silly tears, Caroline could tell her twin was as moved as she was. "This is awesome, Andy. So cool." Caroline hugged Andy hard and then showed her mother the charm.
"I have one too, darling." Her mother showed her the new bracelet that held a smaller version of the charm. It turned out Andy also had the same necklace.
"I thought we could have these as our special items for when we need to really feel we're a family," Andy said shyly. "You don't have to wear them if you don't want—a"
"Are you kidding?" Cassidy had already put hers on. "I'm never taking mine off."
"Me either," Caroline echoed and closed the fastening of her necklace. "I like this family." She gave her mother and Andy a look that she hoped told them they better not screw this up. Then she turned to the rest of their presents together with Cassidy and began tearing at the wrapping paper as if her life dependent on it.
Having a birthday had never felt better!
Marissa stepped into human resources belonging to a large magazine conglomerate on southern Manhattan. She was sure she would get her pick among the many glossy magazines the publisher carried under their umbrella. This was far from Miranda Priestly's reach since this publisher didn't own any fashion or beauty magazines. And who wanted to work for such a braindead magazine anyway? Marissa had known what it was to be powerful when she had the most read column at the Mirror and her own blog. It was a mystery how gaining a new web space at some web hotel was now impossible. Perhaps Miranda had connections there too, but it sounded impossible.
"Ms. Geller?" A tall African American woman stood in the doorway to the waiting room. "I'm Rosa-Lee Carson. Step inside, please."
Marissa sauntered into the humble office Rosa-Lee held. She would treat this woman like royalty until she had secured an appropriate position at their top selling magazine and then this woman would be nothing to her—that was the only approach she knew of. Marissa's parents were well off and she knew she was spoiled. Then again, what was wrong with being spoiled. There was nothing in this world she didn't deserve.
"What kind of position do you have in mind, Ms. Geller?" Rosa-Lee asked, a frown marring her perfect complexion forehead.
"I thought a junior position at Masquerade would suit my level. I cannot be expected an entry level position after all." Marissa crossed her legs.
"Masquerade?" Rosa-Lee looked stunned. "That publication is our flagship and the line to any position there, including third assistant, is very long. I see one of two people every month—and they have been on the waiting list for at least a year, perhaps more."
"Then what do you suggest?" Marissa felt her fangs grow and a snarl appeared in her voice.
"The only reason you're here, Ms. Geller, is that your father and one of the board of directors are acquainted, so I believe. Ms. De Lauren suggested I should offer you the only position where you would get to write.
Always something. Marissa didn't want to crawl back to her parent's townhouse in defeat. "What publication is that?"
Rosa-Lee smiled broadly. "TV Guide."