. . . . . . . . . . EPILOGUE . . . . . . . . .
"Andy! Are you coming or what?" Cassidy shouted from the front door.
"Yes, yes, I'm right here," Andrea said as she climbed down the stairs. "Let's go," she said, grabbing the keys and heading out the door.
"Are you nervous?" Cassidy asked, noticing the way Andrea was clutching the steering wheel.
"About tonight? No," she said, smiling, "but what if I don't like the dress?"
"Andy, come on. You know it only really matters what Mom thinks of it. And has Donatella ever failed her?"
"No, you're right," she said. "I just can't believe it's already June 26. I mean—I'm getting married today!"
"Oh jeez," Cassidy said, "I will be glad when all this drama is over."
"Sweetie, when you get married someday, you have my word that I will not whine as much as you."
Andrea parked the car on the street in front of Donatella's studio, holding her breath as Cassidy led the way upstairs.
"Oh my, Cassidy? You've grown so much since I last saw you," Donatella said, wrapping her arms around the eleven-year-old.
"You're still coming tonight, right?" Cassidy asked.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world," she said, looking from the young girl to the brunette. "Andrea," she said, "I've heard so much about you. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Andrea shyly nodded, and followed the woman deeper into the loft. "Oh my god, that's gorgeous," Andrea gasped.
"I hoped you would like it," Donatella said, taking the white dress from the hanger and handing it to Andrea. "It should fit like a glove, but let's just make sure," she said. "Go try it on."
Andrea stepped around a small screen and stepped into the delicate white dress. It was just above the knee, a deep v-neck in the front and back. The fabric was light and crisp, accented with a very thin strip of embroidery at the waist. Simple, casual, and elegant, she thought.
As soon as she stepped out, she could tell from the look on Cassidy's face that Miranda would enjoy the dress. As Donatella placed the dress in a garment bag, Andrea stood waiting with Cassidy in silence, her mind overwhelmed with eagerness and anxiety.
Just then, Andrea's phone beeped—a text message from Miranda: I love you. xo
Andrea smiled, remembering that Miranda was also having her final fitting that afternoon at Runway. They decided to make the ceremony a relatively casual affair, what Miranda called "summer cocktail attire." Andrea couldn't remember how they decided to keep their dresses secret from each other, but that just heightened her desire to see Miranda's reaction. "Funny, I was thinking the same thing. I can't wait to see you. xo" Andrea quickly texted back.
"Thank you so much," Andrea said, air kissing Donatella as she took the garment bag from her. "We will see you later tonight." Andrea smiled, thinking about the small ceremony they had planned. Caroline and Tess were decorating the staircase and the roof with flowers—all pure white roses—and strands of light, while Wolfgang had taken over the kitchen, preparing a summery picnic-like fare. They had invited thirty people in all: only those friends and family members near and dear to the couple.
When they returned to the townhouse, Cassidy took the dress up to her bedroom, while Andrea went through the mail. The only people on their guest list who hadn't responded were Andrea's parents and Andrea's sister. She knew better than to expect a response, but still, some tiny part of her thought her mom would at least call her—if not to congratulate her, to tell her she disapproved—but there was nothing.
Andrea was jolted from her quietude when the doorbell rang—Aiysha had arrived to do her hair and makeup. "Hey Aiysha," Andrea said. "I guess I lost track of time."
"You'd better start getting ready, Andy. Miranda will be here in an hour!" she said.
"Oh shit!" Andrea said, quickly following Aiysha upstairs to get started. In forty-five minutes, Andrea's hair was falling down her back in loose waves, her makeup impeccable.
"Time for the dress," Aiysha said. "Do you need any help with it?"
"No, it's simple. Thank you so much, Aiysha," she said.
"Not a problem. You know, I'm really happy for you and Miranda. It's amazing to see the change in her."
"Thanks. She is amazing and I want nothing more than to make her happy."
"Have fun tonight," she said with a wink, slipping out the door.
Andrea smiled and carefully stepped into the dress Cassidy had hung for her. "You look beautiful," Cassidy said, leaning against the doorframe. Andrea quickly turned towards the redhead.
"Thank you, sweetheart. Do you know where my shoes are?"
"Oh, yeah. I put them in here—" she said as she dug through the closet, returning with the pair of white heeled Manolo Blahnik heeled gladiator sandals.
"Think you can help me get these on?" Andrea asked. Each sandal had sixteen separate ties running up to the knee, and somehow, Andrea knew her hands were not steady enough at the moment to tie the delicate laces.
As Cassidy was finishing the last of the laces, they heard Miranda and her crew arrive downstairs. "Okay, I'll go distract Mom for a few minutes if you want to go wait upstairs," Cassidy said.
"Thanks, sweetie," Andrea said. Guests would be arriving in twenty minutes, and she knew that it would only take minutes for Miranda to put on her dress. She slipped into the bathroom and with a tube of red lipstick, traced out a "I 3 you" before climbing the stairs to see how everything was going upstairs.
Tess and Caroline were already dressed, and she was shocked by how beautiful the roof looked. They had installed a temporary lattice-like fence around the edge of the roof, providing them with added privacy as well as another place to hang flowers and lights.
"So, what do you think?" Caroline asked.
"I think it looks perfect. Thank you so much," she said, hugging the young girl. "But I came to tell you your mom is here, and she might need some help getting her dress on."
"Ooh! Awesome, thanks!" she said, running downstairs.
"You look gorgeous, Andrea," Tess said.
"Oh, thanks," she said.
"Are you nervous?" Tess asked.
"You know, not about the ceremony. I tried writing out vows, but it was just stressing me out. I think I'm just anxious because I haven't really talked to Miranda today."
"Aw, that's cute," Tess said. "So tonight, the girls can come home with us, and we'll make sure the house is locked up and cleaned before you two get back."
Andrea sighed. "God, I don't even know where we're going," she said. "Miranda wouldn't tell me, except to say that I didn't have to worry about anything."
"You'll enjoy it."
Suddenly, music began drifting through the speakers on the roof. Andrea smiled. She and Miranda picked out the playlist of jazz standards and classic instrumentals.
"Hey Andrea," Serena said, giving her a hug. "You look amazing!"
"Thanks! Is anyone here yet?" Andrea asked.
"Nigel and Emily and I just got here. I think I saw Donatella's driver circling the block, too," she said as she took her place behind the bar. Serena had offered her bartending skills for the evening, knowing Miranda only wanted trusted friends and colleagues involved in their ceremony.
"Is Patrick here yet? I was hoping he could get some shots of the place before everyone else gets here."
"Um, I think he's doing some photos while Miranda is getting ready. I'll text Em to send him up here," she said. "Here, relax," Serena said, handing her a stem of Veuve Clicquot Rose champagne, "you're committing to the love of your life today. You have absolutely nothing to be nervous about."
"Ha!" Andrea said, taking the glass and sipping as she paced around. "Did Nigel remmed—"
"The rings?" she said, "Yes. He has them."
In her room, Miranda was sitting at her vanity in her white dress, a long, sleek, flowing dress with a deep v-neck in the front, reaching mid-torso, the back cascading dangerously low. The click-click of the camera pulled her out of her thoughts and to the present.
"Patrick. I didn't hear you come in."
"You weren't meant to. You look stunning, Miranda."
"Thank you," she said, staring up at the mirror.
"What are you looking at?" Patrick asked. He could tell she wasn't looking at her own reflection, but from his position at the doorway, he couldn't see Andrea's handwritten message in rouge lip color.
"That," she said, pointing to the words. Patrick stepped closer and quickly found a the right angle, to capture Miranda's gaze whilst hiding himself from the reflective photo.
"Miranda!" Nigel called, "Time to head upstairs. You mustn't be late for your own ceremony!"
Miranda gathered herself and followed after Nigel. "Is everyone here?" she asked.
"Yes. And before you ask," he said, putting his hand up, "we still haven't heard from Six's family."
Miranda pursed her lips. She knew how hard it had been for Andrea to tell her family about their relationship, but she eventually did, sending them a letter along with an invitation to the ceremony.
As they stepped onto the patio, Miranda couldn't help but smile at how her patio was transformed into an intimate and romantic outdoor venue. The sun was beginning to set, and the lighting could not be more perfect.
Andrea was chatting with Emily and James when she suddenly felt Miranda's presence behind her. Spinning around, she locked eyes with the editor.
"Hello, darling," Miranda said sweetly.
"Miranda," Andrea exhaled.
"Are you ready?" Miranda asked, softly taking Andrea's hands. Andrea nodded while Serena and Emily swiftly arranged the crowd in a circle around the women.
"Hello everyone," Miranda said, not taking her eyes off of Andrea. "I think you know why we're here tonight. Andrea and I are very excited to share this moment with all of you."
"And," Andrea continued, seamlessly picking up where Miranda left off, "even though the state of New York is unwilling to recognize our relationship as a marriage, we want to make our commitment to each other known, here, in front of our closest friends and family. Thank you—each and every one of you—for being here and supporting us."
"Andrea," Miranda interrupted, taking the platinum and diamond band from from Nigel's hand and slipping it onto Andrea's finger. "You have been my assistant, my nurse, my friend, my lover…today I can finally call you my wife, my partner. Let this ring be a symbol of my love and commitment to you and to our future together. You have changed my life and made me a better person—a better editor, as I'm sure my staff will agree, and a better mother to my beautiful daughters. I trust you completely. More than anything, I look forward to spending the rest of our lives together. I love you so very much."
Andrea's eyes were filled with tears, but she took a deep breath, blinking a few times before taking the identical diamond band from Nigel's hand and placing it on Miranda's finger. "This ring, Miranda, is my promise to you—to love you, to cherish you, to do everything in my power to make you happy for all the days of our lives. You have given me a family," she said, looking over at Caroline and Cassidy, "and a home and I have never felt more loved than I do right here, with you. The future will always be uncertain, but with you at my side, I feel safe, and even a little invincible. Miranda, I love you—forever—with all my heart."
"Cheers," Nigel said, raising his glass, "to Miranda and Andy!" While they said their vows, Serena had ensured everyone in the room had a glass of champagne, or in the girls' case, sparkling juice. While their guests clinked glasses and drank on their behalf, Miranda pressed her hand to Andrea's cheek, sliding it around her neck to pull her closer for a kiss.
As their lips met, sparks flew through Miranda's body and she moaned into Andrea's mouth. The clinking glasses brought the couple back to the present, where they parted, both slightly flushed. Andrea took the woman's hand as she laid her head on Andrea's shoulder, smiling broadly as her eyes scanned the crowd. This, she thought, was true happiness.
Several hours and many bottles of champagne later, Roy stepped over and whispered something to Miranda before heading downstairs.
"What's wrong?" Andrea asked.
"Nothing, darling. It's time for us to go," she said with a smirk. "And before you even ask, I will not tell you anything."
Andrea rolled her eyes and they both made their way through their friends, thanking everyone for being there.
"You know," Andrea said as they made their way inside the house, "I would have never guessed that Donatella, Miuccia, and Patrick would get along so well. They should do a spread together," she said.
"Mm-hmm, I'll have to remember that," Miranda said, tugging Andrea downstairs. "You know, you look absolutely gorgeous tonight."
"Miranda, my heart has been pounding out of my chest since I saw you, wanting to touch you, run my hands along your exposed skin."
"All in good time," Miranda said with a wink. Once in the towncar, Miranda turned and looked at Andrea. "Can I ask you a serious question?"
"Have you heard from your family?"
"Oh," Andrea said, sinking back into the seat and looking out the window. "No. But it doesn't matter. You're my family now."
"Darling, but it does matter. I don't want to keep you from them—like it or not, they're family. What can I do to help? Do you thing if we went to visit your mother, perhaps?" she said.
"I don't know if that would help," Andrea said. "Can we not talk about this tonight," she said.
"Okay, okay, but I'm in this with you, Andrea. We will fix this," Miranda said.
The towncar came to a stop outside Andrea's former apartment, where Miranda had arranged to have the unit prepared with candles and rose petals. After hours of sharing their love with one another, Miranda kissed Andrea on the cheek and crawled out of bed to grab her iPad off the dresser. "This," she said to Andrea as she navigated to the RunwayMagazine-dot-com homepage, "is my wedding present to you," she said, showing Andrea the screen.
Andrea watched as four stunning black and white photos of the couple flashed across the screen—Miranda looking into the mirror, Andrea slipping a ring onto Miranda's finger, the two kissing, and Miranda leaning her head on Andrea's shoulder. "Miranda, are these…tonight…Patrick's?"
Miranda nodded. "Read further down," she said.
Andrea scrolled down below the photos and read the words printed plainly across the page:
Today, I embark upon a new chapter with my wife Andrea. My commitment to Runway and to all of our readers will not falter. For many years, this magazine has been my life, but now I share my life with my partner, and I know that my heart is big enough for them both. With the ongoing love and support of Andrea, my commitment to the magazine is only strengthened. I trust that the path I've followed in my personal life will help me to embark upon a new journey with you, and with our team of talented editors, writers, and designers without whose dedication and hard work, the past year would not have been a success. To a new era… M. P.
Tears streamed down Andrea's face as she read and reread the words.
"Andrea," Miranda said, moving the iPad to the side table, "I can't begin to imagine life without you. Will you promise me, darling, that even when I'm old and senile, you won't leave my side until after I'm gone?"
"Oh god, Miranda, don't talk like that," Andrea said, throwing her arms around the woman. "I will never leave you…ever. If something happens, I will be here for the girls, but I would never leave. I, too, cannot picture my life without you. Thank you," she continued, "for my gift. It's beautiful, and I know how much that means to you to share your private life."
Miranda smiled against Andrea's neck. "It will be printed in our next issue, too," she murmured. "So that spread with Miuccia, Donatella and Patrick that you were talking about, it's going to be us, darling."
Andrea smiled and kissed her wife. "You make me happier each and every day," she said. "My gift to you doesn't even compare anymore. It's at the townhouse, but I have a photo on my phone," she said, reaching over to grab her phone from the table. "Here," she showed Miranda the phone, "I had this blown up and framed for our house."
Miranda had to reach over to the bedside table to put her glasses on before looking at the photo of two hands interlocking. "Andrea, this is beautiful. When was this taken?"
"Over a year ago, during the biopsy at Dr Barry's office," Andrea said, hoping Miranda would not be upset.
"How did you—" she asked in disbelief, studying the photo.
"There are cameras in every operating room, and Liz was able to provide me with a few minutes of footage."
"Did anyone see it?" Miranda asked.
"Just me…and Tess."
"Tess is a remarkable videographer, if you didn't know. She was able to freeze the video and edit the capture."
"Andrea, I love it. Thank you," she said, sighing a little bit of relief knowing that no one else saw the images of her from that frightening day. "And I love you."
"I love you, too, Miranda."