Miranda sat studiously at her desk, carefully examining next week's set budget.

Someone was going to walk in on them.

The brief panic Miranda experienced was overwritten by light fingers pushing her skirt to ride up her thighs, then palms pressing the skin of her inner legs to spread them gently apart.

The door wasn't even locked, thought Miranda desperately as Andrea ran a wet tongue up from beside her knee.

Miranda squirmed slightly, but Andrea pushed her head forward, settling it firmly between Miranda's legs and oh-god-it-felt-so-hot-there.

"If you don't like what I'm doing, Miranda, just ignore me," Miranda heard Andrea murmur. "That budget's important."

On that, Miranda would have vehemently agreed, but at that moment Miranda couldn't keep her eyes focused enough on the budget to see it straight.

Not when Andrea was pulling Miranda's lingerie panties to the side like that. Not when a hot, flat tongue pressed firmly to her wet labia – oh god – like that. Miranda's hips jerked.

This was such a wrong thing to do. The accounting team was due in twenty minutes. What if they came early? What if...?

Miranda felt Andrea's lips smile against her, as if she knew what she had been thinking, then swiped her tongue upward, grazing the tip of Miranda's clitoris. Miranda fought in vain to stymie another of her hips' jerks, and couldn't help a tiny little moan.

That was all the acknowledgment Andrea needed, apparently, because then her tongue was pressing a steady, constant beat on her clit, licking and sucking. Miranda wantonly spread her legs wider, granting Andrea full access, and abandoning all pretenses of doing any kind of respectable paperwork.

A light pressure touched her lower lips. Andrea's hand was hesitating at her entrance, not sure if Miranda wanted it. Miranda groaned in response. She needed more. She needed her inside. How she wished she could see Andrea's eyes, but the hem of her skirt and the desk blocked everything she desperately wanted to see. Miranda was sure those eyes would be burning.

Andrea must have understood what Miranda had meant, because she then thrust two deliciously long fingers deep inside Miranda's tight channel. The burning stretch between Miranda's thighs wasn't enough. "More," she struggled to say, grudgingly aware that having her reduced to this nonverbal mess excited her Andrea deeply. Andrea conceded a third finger to Miranda's cunt, stretching it wide and making it – god – so full.

Miranda shoved her fist into her mouth as she cried out. Andrea's fingers were moving steadily as her sinful mouth sucked Miranda's clit.

The budget was a crinkled ball on the floor. Miranda had no idea how it had gotten there, but there her pens were too, knocked carelessly over, strewn across the carpet.

Then all Miranda could care about was the twisted clenching in her center. She was so close...

"Thanks for holding my spot, dearie."

A claw-gloved hand clamped down painfully on Miranda's shoulder and squeezed. Miranda gasped as she was tugged from her own chair, yanked from Andrea's hold.

Cruella smiled cruelly at Miranda, then blew a puff of grape-scented smoke in her face. "Now be a good darling and guard the door for us, will you? Oh, and find somewhere for this." The fur-clad woman placed her long-stemmed, still burning cigarette in Miranda's stunned open palm.

By the time Miranda had found an ashtray, Cruella was sitting in her chair leaning back, legs splay.

"Guard the door, Miranda," Cruella repeated, smirking.

Miranda cradled the ashtray and stood stupidly by the door as Cruella quickly bucked and thrashed under Andrea's ministrations. Miranda struggled to tear her eyes away, but she couldn't – even when she deliberately stuck her fingertips into the ashes of the burning cigarette – in spite of the searing pain, she couldn't look away. It wasn't long before the black-and-white haired woman was shuddering her release, then pulling a purring Andrea into her lap for a searing kiss.

Miranda reared her arm back to throw the ashtray straight at that devil woman's head –

"Miranda?"

The editor flinched and blinked rapidly, glancing around her office. New girl number two was hovering beside her biting her lip, clutching a grande cup of Starbucks.

"I have your coffee here. Wow, I guess you really need it, huh?" The girl adjusted her glasses, squinting at the editor's figure. "You know if you fall asleep at work regularly, it could be a sign of an iron deficiency."

"Really?" said Miranda. "You're fired."

/\/\/\/\/\/\

There had been a leak.

A false leak, but that only made it the more aggravating. A falsehood that she would give a great deal to transform into a truth.

Miranda flipped through the stack of gossip columns Emily had left on her desk.

PRIESTLY CONTINUES DENYING LESBIAN RELATIONSHIP DESPITE HARD EVIDENCE – Exclusive photos inside!

Miranda had examined the photos. Her and Andrea exchanging loving looks, kissing, holding hands – all things that had never happened. And would never happen.

The phone rang – she picked up the receiver and slammed it down. She didn't know how Andrea's mother had gotten her personal desk phone number, but the woman's accusing calls were verging on harassment. On top of that were the hateful, homophobic letters, and the looming threat of Irv taking advantage of the situation to portray her as weak to the board.

LA PRIESTLY BECOMES LA LESBIAN!

Her eye twitched.

Miranda was paying the price in blood for a relationship with Andrea Sachs – and getting NONE of the benefits. Such as actually BEING with Andrea.

Was that so much to ask for? That she not pay the price for something she did not possess, would never possess, and when she had tried had only had the attempt thrown in her face?

She threw her coffee cup too hard at the trash can and it bounced off.

"God damn it," she hissed, and stomped on it with her heel in vengeance before throwing it again. It bounced off again. She glanced down at the next article.

TRUE LOVE AT LAST FOR THE DRAGON LADY?

It was accompanied by a sweet picture of the couple exchanging soft looks at a fashion show in Paris. Miranda sat straight up. It wasn't a fake photo. That had actually happened.

She ran a finger down the black and white version of Andrea's face. She had once gazed at Miranda like that, and she had gazed back. She remembered why – a particularly silly outfitted model had been prancing down the catwalk. Miranda had had to suppress a snort, but Andrea had looked at her knowingly, a similar repressed grin on her face. To her surprise at the time, Miranda had found it in herself to share the joke, and smiled back.

Andrea had returned to New York yesterday, according to Emily, who Miranda had been interrogating regularly to keep in contact with her former assistant.

She must have been a masochist in a previous life. Miranda called for her coat and bag.

/\/\/\/\/\/\

"...worthless there, sweetheart, don't you see that? When are you going to come back home? There's nothing left for you in New York. You could come back home and make something out of yourself. Or you can stay, and keep doing whatever the hell it is you're doing. Call me. Love you."

Miranda recognized the voice coming from Andrea's half-open apartment door. It was Andrea's mother, the aggravating woman who had been harassing her day in and day out. So it turned out she was just as condescending and despicable with her own daughter as she was to Miranda, she thought grimly.

Surely Andrea wouldn't leave her apartment door open on purpose? Could something have happened?

"Andrea?" she called out loudly.

The lack of response convinced Miranda to take a chance and pull the door all the way open. She slipped inside – she'd never been inside before, but what she saw was neat and tidy, if somewhat cluttered. A small sink, counter and kitchen table was to her left, and sitting by the table in a hard chair, finger on the delete button of her answering machine, was her Andrea.

Her beautiful Andrea with tears in her eyes, hand on her mouth, shoulders shaking.

"Andrea?"

Andrea froze.

"It's okay, ah," Miranda struggled for something comforting to say. "Everything's alright."

Andrea wiped the tears from her eyes quickly, looking away, cheeks reddening. "You shouldn't be in here," she mumbled. "You can't just barge in wherever you want, you know."

Miranda ignored her protestations and approached, laying a hand on her shoulder. Words of comfort clearly were not going to work here. "Don't listen to the garbage your mother substitutes for words. She's been calling me every day – believe me, I know."

"I don't." She crossed her arms, sniffing. "I just let it get to me this once. Just being stupid, I guess."

"I understand," Miranda replied honestly. She pulled out a second chair and sat, waiting for a rebuke that thankfully did not come, and continued. "She told me I was wasting my time and money with fashion. Do you know what I did?"

Andrea shrugged, still sniffing. She wouldn't make eye contact, gaze wandering from the living room, to the kitchen, to the front door. "You proved her wrong by becoming a success."

"I proved my mother wrong in every way possible, and then I squashed her."

Andrea looked at her then, curiosity picqued. "Squashed her?"

"I rubbed it in her face, and she never got a dime," she explained. The brunette frowned in distaste, so she took a different tack.

"Andrea, if you ever decide to listen to anything I have to say, believe me in this. If your family is anything like your mother, you're better than all of them. You're here because you deserve to be here. They're there because they're pathetic."

Andrea smiled softly, and there it was.

The look.

Miranda soaked it in for all it was worth. Who knew when she would be witness to it again?

"You know," said Andrea, "you called me Andy last time we spoke."

Miranda stiffened. "I don't recall that."

She did recall. Andrea didn't need to know that, however.

"I bet you could do it again, if you tried." Andrea smiled at her teasingly.

"That atrocious nickname simply will not fall from my lips."

"Say it with me. Annndy."

"Ahhnnndrea."

"Annn-DY."

Miranda frowned in concentration. "An – And – And... Andrea. No, no, the pronunciation of that horrid word simply refuses to defile my tongue. It's a lost cause."

Andrea rolled her eyes with unnecessary vigor. "Well... I guess... I'm sorry, I need to grab my keys from the landlord downstairs. That's why my door was open, I lost them earlier and it locks automatically if you close it. There's a TV in my bedroom if you don't want to sit out here by yourself."

Miranda did not usually watch TV, but she wouldn't be doing anything but looking at her own fingernails had she stayed in the kitchen, so she nodded. Andrea scooted her chair back and left the table, Miranda dutifully following, before leaving her to her own devices.

"Be right back," she said, as Miranda scanned her clothing for the first time that day. Well cut designer jeans, Prada flats and a white t-shirt that had probably been bought pre-packaged with five other ones, that for some reason made her heart beat faster.

Miranda watched TV for ten minutes before Andrea returned.

Andrea had returned for ten seconds before Cruella, in stark black heels, ebony lynx-fur wrap and slinky red dress, wandered in behind her.

Cruella took one look at Andrea's red face and puffy eyes before turning an accusing look at Miranda, whose hackles instantly raised.

"You," she growled, head dropping like a cat who was ready to pounce.

"Hey you two," Andy said warningly.

"Please, Cruella, frighten some small child with your antics. I am not cowed, though perhaps concerned that your deranged methods will result in you harming yourself."

"You stay away from Andy!"

"I'll do whatever I damn well please, Cruella. Now go have a conversation with a fur coat somewhere and leave us in peace!"

"You! You!" Cruella seemed unable to say more than that, her mouth working fast, as she stomped into Miranda's personal space.

"You stay away from me!" hissed Miranda aggressively, but it was Cruella who raised one claw-gloved hand.

Cruella swiped.

Miranda instinctively protected her face with her hands. "Gah!" The strike propelled her backwards to bounce onto the spread duvet while clutching her cheek, which stung sharply.

Cruella leered at her, baring her teeth.

"If you two are going fight, then please do it somewhere else!" cried Andy, interjecting herself between Cruella and the still-reeling Miranda, who was crawling to her knees atop Andy's wide bed.

"Stay back, Andrea," warned Miranda, casting her a protective eye, "she's a madwoman."

Cruella's enormous red-shot eyes bulged, if possible, even larger. "I'll show you a madwoman, you OCD, snotty little twat!"

Andy heard a shocked squeal from behind her as Cruella lurched left and she had to leap to block Miranda from her path. Cruella ducked to the right and straight under Andy's outstretched arm – a feint. Andy twisted to catch sight of a white and black blur impacting Miranda's body.

"Oof!" Miranda was flailing ungainly beneath the wiry woman. "Get off me, you vile creature. Off!"

"Hold still, damn it, I'm going to strangle that stick out of your ass," Cruella raged.

"What are you two doing? Stop it!" Andy grabbed the limb nearest to her, which turned out to be Cruella's left clawed hand which had been struggling to tame Miranda's bucking waist as the right attempted to curl itself around the editor's throat.

"Back, Andrea, be careful. I can handle this lunatic in a perfectly capable – ugh – manner," Miranda gasped. Andy duly ignored her and shouldered her way between the two combatants. Directly after placing herself between the pair of women, two events occurred.

One was Andy's uncomfortable, untimely realization of her own arousal as she hovered on all fours above Miranda's openly enraged complexion, mussed white hair and flushed chest. Cruella's breasts were pressed fully into Andy's back as she twisted her head around Andy's body to shoot Miranda a withering glare. Miranda ignored it – her eyes were locked on Andrea.

The second event was the opening and closing of the front door.

"Andy? You home?"

Cruella and Miranda, for their parts, froze in place.

For two seconds, Andy regretted leaving her apartment unlocked and leaving her bedroom door wide open, and for one second entertained wondering about what she would say should Lily actually have the gall to wander into her private bedroom.

Lily's round face poked around the door frame, peering around inquisitively. "An – uh."

"Uh," responded Andy weakly.

Several indignant, accusatory sentences flew through her mind and were quickly discarded, so Andy settled on, "Hang on a sec."

Lily's eyes were shut and turned hurriedly away as she cautiously retreated, palms raised high. "No no, I'm um, I didn't mean to -"

"Lily," Andy called as she disentangled herself, "whatever it is you're thinking, don't."

"I'm an idiot Andy, I thought you were still in London, I swear I never would've – I mean, I'm not – oh fuck."

Lily's sudden look of absolute horror rattled Andy's bones to the core. "Lily, what?"

"Your mom," Lily whispered weakly, "she's coming up the stairs."

On the bedspread Miranda's eyes flashed and she sat straight with a purpose and gave the fiercest scowl Andy had ever seen on her. "That woman." Cruella only shot Andy a bewildered look as she picked herself up, melee forgotten.

Before Andy could say "Oh shit," she was there.

The sight of her mother peering wide-eyed around the door frame brought her to a stuttering halt, whatever she had opened her mouth to say immediately falling out of her head. Andy had been associating the misery of her mother so often with listening to her nasal voice over the voice mail recorder that she had nearly forgotten the woman possessed the capability to appear in person.

"Andy?" Clutching a large, faux-bejeweled handbag that would have given Miranda apoplexy upon physical contact, hair in a tight, severe bun, her mother peered at her critically over her glasses. "What – sweetie, I'm so glad you're here, I – who are all these people?"

'All these people,' namely Miranda and Cruella, stiffened as her mother scanned them with a grimace of clear distaste. Her eyes focused like a hawk's on their ruffled clothing and tossed hair, shrewdly taking note of the crumpled bedspread and Miranda's four inch Prada heels, which were strewn at two odd intervals across the bedroom (which Andy could not honestly recall noticing in the heat of the moment).

"I know you to be fully aware of who I am, Margaret." Miranda sneered. "You talk about me enough to the papers. Don't tell me you've forgotten already."

"You!" Andy's mother did a double take, taking half a step backward as though repulsed by Miranda's immediate proximity. "I know who you are, although I did nothing of the sort. I would be too ashamed," she shot a despairing look at Andy, who was still struggling to catch her breath after the tussle without being too obvious about it, "to ever go public with the fact that my daughter is having – relations – with a con artist like you."

"Mom, please." Andy stepped forward and placed a pleading hand on her elbow. "We can talk about this sometime. Don't argue with my friends, please. What are you doing in New York?"

"I was worried about you! I called your landlord and he said you're moving to England? You wouldn't answer any of my calls -"

"I told you I can only handle one call a month, mom, that's what we agreed to," said Andy gently. "Remember?"

But her mother's eyes refocused on Miranda, then Cruella. Her eyes narrowed. "What... what exactly is going on here?"

"A business meeting," said Miranda matter-of-factly, before Andy – who cringed - could answer on her own. Even Cruella gave the editor a strange look.

Margaret shook her head. "In my daughter's bedroom? With Cruella de Ville? On her bed – oh, god. Oh god, is this what I think it is?" She darted a look at Lily, who only gulped guiltily. "When you came in here – were they – ?"

"Were we what?" asked Miranda blankly. Then... "Excuse me? I am sure you could not possibly be insinuating what I believe you to be –"

"No, mom, what? What the hell? You barge into my apartment, my personal life and make judgments of what I'm doing, in the privacy of my own home?"

"We were not doing a god damn thing," Miranda forced out.

"I can't – Andy, I don't believe this." Margaret was shaking her head again, disappointment etched in every line of her face.

Miranda looked to her right – Andrea was looking down at the ground.

"Mom," Andrea said. "Please... let's go somewhere else..."

"For what, so your two friends can skedaddle? So you have time to come up with some story that explains how you're not some city slut?"

It was right then that Miranda decided to hit two people in one evening, a record for her. Hitting anyone was a record for her, really. In her peripheral vision she saw Cruella adopt a hostile stance.

Then Andrea said, "Yep."

Margaret looked at her sharply. "What?"

"Yes. Both of them," she ground out. "Not even separate. I fuck both of them at the same time, because one is not enough. Every day. I just can't fucking get enough of it. Fuck, fuck, fuck. All the time."

Her mother's mouth dropped open in horror – Miranda suspected more from the swear words than anything her daughter had been up to.

"And I plan on telling everyone. Everyone at home is going to know you're the mother of the world's biggest, sluttiest lesbian to ever grace the face of the earth."

Margaret's face crumpled to a disbelieving frown. "Are you threatening me?"

"If I have to," said Andy firmly. Her expression brokered no sympathy. "Mom, we're going to continue what we were doing. You can leave whenever you like."

Andrea reached out and grabbed Miranda, latching on to Cruella with the other arm, and leaned down slightly.

Miranda wasn't sure what Andrea was doing, putting her face so close to hers, until her lips brushed Miranda's.

It lasted a millisecond, but the tingle remained for full seconds after.

Andrea's eyes glanced towards her mother, who still hadn't left, standing in the doorway, looking on in morbid, horrified curiosity.

"Well," Andy ventured. "If my mother refuses to speak to me ever again..."

/\/\/\/\/\/\

"So?" said Cruella. "How about it?"

"Um," Andrea said.

Miranda crossed her arms. "It cannot possibly be that simple."

Andrea cast a questioning glance toward Cruella, who was glaring hatefully at the spot her mother had stood. "Are you for real?"

"If I can't have Andrea, that's that. I outright refuse to share anything of mine. Especially with you," she added with extra venom. Cruella did not flinch, only breaking away from her brooding to stare at Miranda's obstinate, pouty stance with fascination.

"Hm," Cruella said.

"What am I saying?" Andrea's expression was speculative, lips pressed together firmly. "Why not?"

"Why not? Is that a serious question?" Miranda repeated.

Andrea looked to Cruella, who was still examining Miranda with a new found, almost scientific fascination, then back to Miranda.

Miranda was familiar with that look. It was the look that told her that Andrea knew all her secrets. All her weaknesses. She knew how badly Miranda wanted her.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Miranda," she said. "So... walk away."

"Excuse me?"

Andrea gave her a strange look that made her skin tingle. "Walk away."

They were alone, the three of them, in Andrea's bedroom. Merely the word bedroom could be enough to send shivers across Miranda's skin, but the smokey look Andrea cast her sent shivers to other places as well.

"Cruella, you can't possibly-?"

Cruella's gaze was still on her as she absently stroked her fur shawl. She didn't answer.

Eyes still on Miranda, Andrea took two steps towards Cruella and wrapped her arms around the taller woman's high collar. Excrutiatingly slow, Andrea's long legs raised to wrap themselves around Cruella's hips. Miranda's eyes followed their slow ascent, until Andrea's ankles were set and crossed.

Miranda turned her head. She refused to subject herself to watching her Andrea in the arms of a madwoman. She had to leave, quickly. She would not be a party to this. She could not even imagine having a coherent relationship with Cruella, much less having intercourse with her in the same bed. Perhaps Andrea would negotiate? Perhaps –

A soft moan grazed the edges of her ear.

She'd never heard, nor imagined, Andrea making that sound.

Andrea made another one. Another noise that made the blood in Miranda's body rush in ways it never had before, towards a place that was screaming at her to turn around and watch.

She heard something low and muffled that had to be from Cruella, and the sultry voice followed the same path that Andrea's moans had taken, straight to the aching center that made Miranda bite her lip.

This was what Andrea knew, Miranda realized.

That she could never walk away.

She was too weak.

"I want dinner," she said suddenly. The movement behind her ceased. Someone was breathing heavily. Miranda still hadn't dared to look – she knew herself better than to do that. "Then... I must be insane. Then... we can talk about this. I won't walk away."

Footsteps.

A warm body pressed into her back, firm breasts pushed into her skin. A jolt of electricity between her legs made Miranda grit her teeth. Small hands ran along her shoulders, then gripped firmly and twisted Miranda on her heels.

There was Andrea's face. Right there.

Miranda had never been so close.

Her lips were parted slightly, and their combined breathes filled the air between them.

Andrea did not budge a centimeter.

She expected Miranda to do something.

Miranda looked at those lips again – red, soft, swollen... and so kissable.

Her heels made her even with Andrea's height. She reached out a thumb, hesitantly, to touch Andrea's cheek.

Andrea's large brown eyes fluttered shut at the touch. Her head leaned into Miranda's touch. The skin was soft, but hot from someone else's attentions. The thought made Miranda want to kiss and lay claim all of her, to mark what was hers.

Andrea was pleading her with her eyes.

Miranda leaned forward, hesitating just a moment before pressing herself gently to her mouth. Andrea pushed back encouragingly, groaning as Miranda's tongue darted forward, asking for entrance. Her lips parted instantly. Miranda took full advantage of the opening as Andrea's hands flew into her hair, pulling her closer. Their breasts rubbed against each other as they deepened the kiss, which was broken only by the sounds of Andrea's soft mewls.

Miranda broke the kiss, panting slightly. She was pleased to see Andrea equally as breathless, rosy hue high on her cheeks.

"If you want dinner, we need to stop," Andrea murmured. "I think Cruella is about to die."

Miranda glanced over Andrea's shoulder. Cruella's eyes had glazed over to something fierce and animalistic, and she was suspiciously close and out of breath – had she been kissing Andrea too, at the same time? Miranda spotted a red mark marring the side of Andrea's pale, elegant neck as the brunette left her and wandered into the kitchen area.

Well, she wasn't sure what she thought about that.

Then Andrea called her name – never before had her name been so well said than when it fell from that woman's lips – and Miranda loyally appeared by her side.

Andrea was holding a package of ramen noodles. "Haven't been grocery shopping in a while. This is all I have."

Cruella looked at the tiny red package apprehensively, then poked it.

Andrea stifled a laugh. Her eyes drifted to Miranda, who was containing a smile.

For Andrea, Miranda allowed the smile a brief appearance. Andrea's eyes softened, full of affection, and Miranda felt herself glowing from the light of it.

Miranda knew, even without a mirror, that she was returning the look.

Miranda wasn't walking away.

/\/\/\/\/\/\

Twenty minutes later.

"Mom?"

Her mother was sitting on the building steps, arms around her knees, facing the city. She twisted when Andy called her name and raised an eyebrow as if to say, 'What took so long?'

"I thought you were going back to Ohio?" Andy tried not to sound too inappropriately disappointed that her mother hadn't disappeared back into the Midwest as promised.

Margaret didn't answer directly, and said instead, "There was a whole rabble of press out here, you know." She gestured to the barren sidewalk. "They must have been hounding you and Miranda Priestly. Looking for a scoop." Her mother made a careful study of her nails, immensely interested in her own manicure. "I got rid of them for you."

"Mom, I – I don't know what to say. Thank you," she said honestly.

"Consider it a peace offering." Margaret looked her up and down, from heels to scarf, and for the first time since childhood, Andy sensed a tiny amount of pride amongst the volumes of dismay. "You remind me so much of myself these days – I just don't want you making the same mistakes. You were right, standing up for yourself."

Andy felt so many things morein that moment: more pretty, more relevant, more wanted. More loved. Then before her daughter could say anything else, Margaret asked, "You going for food?"

Andy nodded mutely.

"Want a ride?"

She nodded again, trailing behind as the other woman gathered her purse and got to her feet. "Sure. You rented a car?"

"Yep. Everyone told me not to, but I don't regret it."

"So how did you get the press to leave? Normally they're like vultures, they circle until they're dead or you are." Andy slid into the passenger seat, glancing at her mother, who was pursing her lips.

"I told them I was your mother, I had personal knowledge of what was going on and explained to them that the entire situation was a gigantic misunderstanding."

Andy knew that look. It was the look her mother had worn when she'd explained to Andy that her labrador retriever had gone to live on a big farm, with lots of open fields to run in. Whenever she tried to convince Andy that, if only she told her the truth, she wouldn't get in trouble.

It meant bullshit.

"Mom," she said.

She did not make eye contact, instead fitting the key into the ignition. She twisted it to start the engine. "Leave it, Andy."

"Tell me what you did."

"Let's go."

"Damn it, mom, tell me you did not screw me over! Tell me you didn't ruin Miranda's reputation."

"I can't believe you would think me capable! For god's sake, I told them Lily was seeing that wretch Miranda Priestly, not you. That they were using your apartment to meet, and you ended up caught in the middle. I explained the whole thing had been one giant mistake, and they followed Lily right down the road to the subway. The good girl didn't even bat an eyelash."

Andy's mouth dropped open in horror. She let go of the seat belt she had been tugging over her shoulder and it snapped back into place.

She knew Lily. She knew how much Lily detested dealing with Margaret, and only tolerated her calls for Andy's and her own mother's sake. She knew Lily's horrified disposition to the slightest hint of an invasion of her privacy. She knew all about Lily's ultra-conservative family, some of whom already didn't speak to her for being friends with Doug.

And she knew her mother knew all these things, too.

"How could you?"

Margaret chewed her lip. She hadn't moved the car yet, which was good because Andy's hand was already wrapped around her door handle. "It was for the best."

"For the best? You're ruining her life! She has a boyfriend, and – and you know how her parents are going to treat her! Do you honestly not give a shit about the one person who would take your calls? The woman who called me over and over, telling me my mother was worried sick about me? The same woman who took off work and met you here, then when you threw her under the bus in front of those paparazzi rats, just laid there and took it? You're telling me that was for the best?"

"If you hadn't ruined my life, not to mention your own, I wouldn't have had to do this," she replied slowly and deliberately. "You think I wanted to? No. But you flaunted and now we're paying for it."

And suddenly there was no doubt in her mind that it was her mother who had told the press she and Miranda were in a relationship.

"I ruin your life? That's about the richest thing I've ever heard coming out of your mouth, mom."

"Grow up, Andy! This is real life. You step on people to protect yourself. You step on people to get ahead. Just like you did with Nate when he got in the way of your career. Just like you slept with Miranda or Cruella or who the fuck ever else you've been spreading your legs for; you did it to get ahead. You tell me that isn't true." Margaret glared at her, waiting.

She opened her mouth to say, 'it isn't,' but the words wouldn't come.

She would swear up and down she hadn't started her relationship with Cruella to get ahead – it had only ever been the other woman's sexy quirkiness and intimidating, yet sweet personality that had drawn Andy in. There had never been a relationship – until today! – with Miranda while she had been employed at Runway, and even when Miranda had offered her her job back, she'd refused it.

But Nate.

Her sweet Nate, who had only ever asked for her time and affection.

Nate might have been the one who left her, and she may have resisted it, but she couldn't deny that deep inside her, she had been waiting for him to go and she hadn't understood why he hadn't yet. She'd been relieved when she'd arrived home from Paris, and his shelves and drawers were empty. Without his pleas for her attention, she could breathe freer – there was one less obstacle between her and serving Miranda in every way possible.

In the driver's seat, Margaret broke into a small, fond smile at Andy's silence. "See? I told you, sweetie, we're similar. Almost exactly the same, sometimes. Don't worry about Lily – don't blame yourself for anything. I'm not. We do what we have to. You'll grow to understand. You'll see."

And then, Andy was exiting the vehicle.

"Andy?"

And she kept walking.

"Get back here. Andy? Please, darling. Where are you going?"

The front doors to her building swung open and possibly the most terrifying duo to ever exit her apartment building swept out of it, Cruella stomping madly up front, Miranda gliding on heels just behind.

"Ahnnndy," Cruella drew out, eyes shooting daggers at her editor companion, "darling, I have just been informed that Miranda gave you the incorrect information as to what I want to eat. I'd like you to ignore any future food orders darling Miranda makes in my name from now on."

"I am helping you, you fool." Miranda fanned herself with a newspaper, insulting Cruella yet using a tone that suggested she was ordering a fine wine at a restaurant. "Do you have the slightest inkling in your albeit deranged head of how many carbs are in just one bite of pasta? Then you add butter, and fat, and salt and eggs to it and you call it a meal."

Andy cast a glance behind her. Her mother was struggling to get out of the rental car, trapped by traffic that was stuck at a red light, keeping her door from opening all the way.

"You can both come with me and decide when you get there, if you like." Andy pulled both of them gently forward, eager to move.

A familiar vibration buzzed the side of Andy's thigh. Falling behind Cruella and Miranda's steps, Andy pulled out her phone and glanced at the screen. Her mom was calling.

For once, Andy decided not to let it go to voice mail.

"Hello? Mom?"

"Andy, get back -"

She stepped off the sidewalk and chucked the phone into the sewer grate.

"Whoops," she said.

On second thought, maybe she should have let it go to voice mail.

But now there was blissful, blissful silence.

Almost.

Now the only sounds were of Miranda and Cruella bickering over which of them would buy her a new phone – yet, Andy found she did not mind.