DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks as ever to Xander, who always makes knocking out chapters fun. Also much appreciation to the others authors in our awesome fandom. Yay us, and happy femslash day!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Good Fortune
By Harriet


Part I

Andy tried very hard not to tap her fingers on the arm of the chair, but she had stories to post, and in theory was only supposed to be gone an hour for lunch. It had already been more than 45 minutes, and adding in the 20 minute train ride (or run) back to the office was going to put her over.

But this was important, and Miranda rarely asked her opinion of anything of this caliber. Andy contributed in many ways when it came to decision-making for the two of them, but if she was honest, Miranda usually had the final say. Unless Andy was absolutely adamant, Miranda got her way. Which was fine. Nine times out of ten, Andy either didn't care, or agreed with her.

Last week, they had disagreed about something serious.

"I'm considering dying my hair," Miranda said. "Blonde."

Andy had gaped. "You're joking."

"Of course not." Miranda frowned. "I thought you'd be pleased."

"Absolutely not," Andy said flatly.

Miranda's hand had crept into her hair nonchalantly. "I think it would suit me. I was blonde once, years ago--"

"Miranda Priestly, if you dye your hair, I'll shave my head."

"Don't be absurd." She sipped her coffee delicately, returning to her newspaper.

Andy was unmoved. "I will."

Miranda had narrowed her eyes. The look screamed danger. "You wouldn't dare."

Andy did not allow her mouth to even twitch. She had Miranda Priestly's number, all right.

Miranda loved her hair--the longer the better. She loved wrapping her hands in it, and when Andy brushed it along her skin when they made love, Miranda could hardly keep still.

"Try me. Don't even think about changing it, Miranda. I like your hair exactly as it is."

Miranda's lips had firmed into a straight line, and she'd turned away to have another scoop of her grapefruit. That had been the end of the discussion, as far as Andy knew.

But Andy thought she might be in for a larger conversation, and soon.

She had a sinking suspicion that Miranda was starting to worry about her age. Andy could understand, at least vaguely. She had a birthday coming. 52. Andy was looking forward to it immensely, but Miranda had not spoken much about it.

But worrying about getting old was no reason to alter perfection, Andy reasoned. And if Andy had to remind Miranda on a daily basis of how beautiful she was, she would do it with pleasure. Each morning Miranda seemed dearer to her, even on the days when she awoke in a crabby mood, with terrible morning breath, or wrinkles from the pillow imprinted onto her cheek.

She sighed happily, before her cheerfulness fled with the thought of her imminent tardiness. "Miranda," she called, "are you almost ready? I should get going."

"Don't move," Miranda said from behind the curtain. "One more minute."

Andy picked up the phone and hit her speed dial. She got Dixon's voicemail. "Hey, it's Andy. Things are taking a little longer than expected. I'll be back by the 2:30 scrum." She closed the phone with a snap.

But then the curtain opened, and Andy gasped. No words came to mind as she stared.

Miranda stood before her in a pure white gown fitted snugly to her figure, a silky wrap nestled around her shoulders. It framed the bare skin of her chest, presenting her cleavage so delightfully that Andy's mouth actually watered at the sight. "Holy shit," she said, the words escaping without permission.

Miranda smiled very slightly. "This one, I think," she told Derek.

"Without a doubt," he replied, his eyes fastened on Miranda's ass.

Andy's mouth twisted. Gay men had always had a thing for Miranda, but now that she was out of the closet, it had gotten considerably worse. Perhaps it was because she was off the market. Andy usually laughed it off, but at the moment, she was feeling quite possessive of the ass in question. "Eyes up, Derek," Andy growled.

Derek jumped guiltily, and Miranda looked over her shoulder in confusion. "Excuse me for a minute," Derek said. "I'll just set up another fitting with Jane?"

"Fine, fine," Miranda said with a wave of her hand. Derek disappeared, leaving a cloud of Hugo Boss cologne in his wake. Miranda asked, "What was that about?"

"As if you didn't know. That dress could stop traffic. And you in it… Well, I think Derek would switch teams if you gave him a shot."

Miranda lifted her chin. "Please. That's ridiculous. Derek is gay."

"Sweetheart, wearing that could get you nailed by the entire Tri-state population, gay, straight or otherwise. You are…amazing."

A pale eyebrow lifted. "Really?"

"Yes." Andy stood from her seat, pleased that her legs were still working. "You're a vision. Beautiful. Like an angel," Andy whispered.

"I'm no angel," Miranda said softly.

"Lucky for me." Andy leaned forward and kissed Miranda, very gently, but keeping her distance. She wasn't stupid. Handprints would show on fabric this white.

Miranda held Andy's head in place as she licked delicately inside her mouth, and Andy whimpered a little. Work, she thought, I'm supposed to be working. But Miranda's other arm crept around Andy's waist to pull their bodies together, and the thought of work flew out of her brain. After all this time, Miranda's kiss still had the power to make her forget everything.

Andy knew she held the same power over Miranda. It was intoxicating.

Her fingers danced along the back of Miranda's sensitive neck, and she smiled into the kiss when she heard a tiny moan. Humming in pleasure, she carefully avoided mussing the dress as well as she could.

Finally, they parted, and Miranda blinked slowly as though waking from a particularly sweet dream. "My." She brushed her fingertips along Andy's cheek. "Are you sure you have to go back to work so soon?"

Andy nodded, reality returning. "I wish I didn't," she said, eyeing Miranda's swollen mouth, "but I do."

With a frown, Miranda stepped back. "You should leave now then, before…" She didn't finish, but Andy had to shake her head to dislodge the thought of going down on Miranda in the dressing room.

"Right. Um, have a good afternoon, okay?"

"I will," Miranda said slyly. "See you for dinner?"

"I think so. I'll call?"

"All right. And, Andrea," Miranda began, scratching her neck uncertainly, "Thank you for coming this afternoon. I know you have a busy day, but I wanted your opinion. I'm very pleased with how this all worked out."

"Me too," Andy said, wiping beneath her lower lip. "That dress is a killer."

Miranda smiled. "Off you go. Before I change my mind."

Andy turned on her heel and bolted with a quick, "Bye, then," over her shoulder. That was all she needed--Derek walking in on them having sex.

The sad thing was that she didn't care very much about that anymore. Her ideas of propriety had been tossed out the window since being with Miranda. So far they'd had sex at Elias-Clarke quite a few times, including twice in the Closet with other people not fifteen feet away. They'd also done it in the copy room at the Mirror, the bathroom in a brasserie on 54th street, and the spare bedroom at Nigel and James' during a party.

Andy was not telling Nigel about that one. Ever. At least they'd done it against the wall that time, instead of on the pile of coats that littered the bed, where Miranda wanted to. Andy would not have been able to look Emily in the face after that, since her coat was on top.

Once she stumbled out onto the sidewalk, the humidity knocked any ideas of sex right out of her head. It was hot. Too hot. A nearby truck spat exhaust into Andy's face, and she coughed and rushed out of its vicinity. The traffic was miserable, so she opted for the subway.

For as big of a hurry she was in, Dixon wouldn't give her trouble for being late. The Mirror was doing well, with ad sales up and subscription rates rising monthly. Andy had a lot to do with that. She was embarrassed at first, knowing that it was only her personal notoriety that had caused it. But people seemed to recognize the quality of the paper's work, so she didn't mind that much. Dixon and the board certainly didn't care.

The paparazzi had also backed off for the most part, only attacking when she and Miranda went out together in the evening, which was infrequent. Andy had even gotten used to seeing her picture in magazines, and heard from her mother each time she appeared in one. A few months in the public eye made it almost seem normal to have people stare at her and whisper her name in recognition.


But no one noticed her today, and she gratefully made her way down into the tunnel in relative anonymity.

Miranda crept up the stairs, more tired than usual. An early meeting combined with an unexpected crisis with the printer had kept her at work until almost midnight. She was ready to crawl into bed and collapse.

But the bed, as usual, was not empty. Nor was the room particularly peaceful.

Sprawled in the center of the bed on her stomach, wearing gray sweats and a tank top, was Andrea. She didn't look up when Miranda entered the room, since she was focused intently on the small laptop screen and watching, of all things, a television show. Some inane comedy Miranda couldn't follow, or rather, didn't care to. She had great respect for Tina Fey's success, but slapstick had never been of interest to her. "Hey!" Andrea said brightly when she heard Miranda's huff of annoyance. She paused the show and walked on her knees to the edge of the bed for an embrace. "Everything okay?"

What Miranda meant to say was, "Yes, it's fine. I'm tired and I'm glad to be home." What slipped out was, "There's a reason I don't have a television in this room."

Andrea flinched, and pulled out of the hug. "And what reason is that?"

"Because the bedroom is for sleeping, and sex. Not television."

"Nice to see you too," Andrea said, returning to her show. "I'll turn it off when you come to bed. It's almost over anyway."

Miranda gritted her teeth. She did not need this aggravation. "Why don't you watch it in the entertainment room?" The television in there was 52 inches. Surely it was more amenable than a tiny screen.

Andrea pressed pause again, growing visibly irritated. "Because that's the girls' room. Sometimes I actually like to, you know, be by myself and enjoy things in peace."

"You could have used the study."

"That's your space, Miranda. I do my work here in the bedroom, when you're not around, or sometimes at the kitchen table. But I really didn't feel like watching tv at the kitchen table tonight, because I wanted to relax for twenty minutes before I went to sleep. Sorry I couldn't go to a room that's mine, because, oh yeah, I don't have one. I barely have a drawer to myself." Andrea looked straight into her eyes. "I can't believe you're picking a fight over television in the bedroom. I should have gone home tonight. Jane warned me." She clapped the computer shut and set it on the floor with far less care than usual.

Miranda felt a cold hand grip her heart. She walked into the bathroom and closed the door before sitting on the closed toilet seat. Calm, stay calm, she told herself. Don't argue. Just stop talking. And for god's sake, don't scare her away.

But Miranda's brain was racing ahead, focused on two things Andrea had implied. One: she had no place to herself in the townhouse. Two: she still called her own apartment home.

Miranda leaned forward and put her head in her hands.

She didn't know how long she sat before Andrea timidly opened the door and came in without knocking. She knelt at Miranda's feet, and leaned against her shins. "Hey. Can we try again?"

Miranda opened her eyes, and nodded.

"Hi, Miranda. How was your day?"

"Terrible." The emptiness in Miranda's belly hesitantly began to dissipate.

"That sucks. Why don't you come to bed and I'll give you a massage?"

"I don't need a massage." She shook her head. "I'm sorry."

Andrea took her hand and threaded their fingers together. "Me too. I just wanted a little time to myself. I shouldn't have snapped like that."

"I deserved it."

With a wry smile, Andrea replied, "Maybe. But that's no excuse. Jane told me how bad things were. I didn't expect you till later."

"If I'd stayed any longer I'd have torn someone's head off. The whole thing will be straightened out by Thursday, but Irv's going to have a screaming fit about the cost."

"Can you manage it?"

"Of course," Miranda replied. "I can deal with him. I expect to recoup from the printer eventually."

"All right then." Andrea leaned forward and kissed her knee before laying her cheek against it. "Are we okay?"

Miranda nodded. She had more to say, but not tonight. Perhaps she would make some notes in the morning before bringing a few ideas to Andrea. "Yes. You?"

"Yeah. Meet you in the middle."

"All right."

Andrea left Miranda alone to prepare for bed, and five minutes later she joined her. Sliding to the middle of the bed, Miranda wrapped her arms around her lover and sighed in exhaustion. Andrea snuggled in close before leaving a wet kiss on her throat. "Love you," she murmured.

"I love you, Andrea." Miranda held the precious head in one hand, and prayed for help.

Two days later, Andy got an email that blew her mind.

Hello darling,

Attached please find the plans drawn up by Jed Russel, who redesigned the townhouse when I first moved in. Nothing is set in stone, but I'd like your input by Friday so we can start construction as soon as possible. Think about a color palette and furniture options as well. If you prefer wood floors, we can have the Berber pulled up.

I'm meeting with Lagerfeld for dinner, but Carina is making some sort of vegan butternut squash concoction at Cassidy's insistence. Use your best judgment on whether or not to attend.

All my love,


Just after clicking on the PDF attachment, Andy hit speed dial #1 on her phone. She got voicemail. Instead of leaving a message, she hung up. When the document finally opened, she turned her head this way and that to try to wrap her mind around what she was seeing. Finally, it made sense; it was a blueprint of the third floor, re-imagined. Miranda wanted to knock out a wall between their bedroom and the spare room behind it, adding another walk-in closet and room for a second dresser. The other bedroom on the third floor would be converted into an office for Andy, complete with desk, sofa, seating, and an extra bed.

Andy smiled when she saw the very clear indication of a rather large television that would go in the new office space.

She called Doug immediately, who picked up on the second ring. "Hey, lady. How are you?"

"Good. Want to grab dinner? The girls have gone vegan for the day and Miranda's booked."

"Oh how I love to be third choice. And the answer is yes, but only if we can have fried chicken."

"You're on."

Just before seven, she met up with Doug at the 116th street stop and they walked to Amy Ruth's. It was still early, so they were lucky enough to score a table before the dinner rush. "Brilliant idea, my friend," Andy said as she inhaled the smells of comfort food.

"Thank you very much. Now, what's up?"

Andy blinked at him. "What do you mean?"

"If we were just hanging out, we'd get a martini. This is food, which means we're going to be chewing on something big. So, out with it."

Andy nibbled the inside of her cheek. "Sometimes you creep me out, Dougie."

"Please, you're an easy read." He looked at the menu for ten seconds before throwing it down. "I always get the same thing."

"Me too." Andy took a breath. "So, Miranda and I had a little tiff the other night about watching tv in the bedroom. And now I, um, think she asked me to move in with her."

Doug tilted his head. "Okay, we'd better order first." He looked around and a waiter appeared at the table. "I'll have the Reverend Al Sharpton."

"Fried or smothered?"


"Make that two, plus an order of string beans," Andy added. Doug looked confused. "I have to eat something healthy. And a sweet tea," she told the waiter.

"Me too," Doug said. "Thanks." The waiter departed. "Okay, go."

Andy described the television incident, and produced the PDF of the new third floor layout. "Jesus, Mary and Rhoda," he exclaimed dramatically. "She wants to knock out a wall."

"And put in a new closet."

"But don't you practically live there already?"

Andy smirked. "Yeah, but Miranda's not great at sharing. Besides, my stuff takes up about a foot of hangers, out of say," she thought for a moment, "forty. And I tend to store my shoes under the bed so I don't have to hear complaints about how worn out they are. When you have three hundred pairs of shoes given to you a year, you don't have to worry about anything wearing out."

"But she gives you stuff, doesn't she?"

"Yeah, but I asked her to back off. I get enough attention at work these days."

"Ah," Doug said with a nod.

"And the money thing… It's hard to get used to."

"I bet."

"I'm not even close to six figures. You know what Miranda's bonus was last Christmas?"

Doug frowned. "I probably don't want to."

"You don't. But it was a lot. More than I'll make in a lifetime. And that's weird."

"Does she ever complain about paying for everything?"

"No, that's the thing. She just expects to. She never even questions it. But I feel like I should be contributing something."

"Or maybe you should just sock the money you're making away in the bank, and when you want to use it, you can. You won't have to ask if you want to buy something for yourself, or the kids, or Miranda. You can just afford it."

"I already can. My only expenses are rent and the utilities, which are minimal since I'm never there. I had the cable and phone cut off too. I've been saving a lot. But I feel, I don't know, like I should be doing more. I don't even have to do the dishes, or laundry, or vacuum. I'm not--"

"Earning your keep?" Doug finished for her.


He should his head. "Andy, you're not a cabana boy. Girl. Whatever."


"You don't have to earn your keep to live with Miranda. You already deserve it. You put up with a notoriously difficult, ambitious woman and her two minions of the devil, and you do it with a smile. That's enough."

"You make it sound like torture," Andy complained.

"I bet her ex-husbands would say it was."

"Yeah, but they're assholes. Well, Stephen. Not Jeremy. He's been okay. But he's still not used to me and Miranda… together."

"He's probably wishing he could get in on that action," Doug joked.

"Ugh." Andy threw her straw wrapper at him and ignored his remark. "Anyway, moving in… it would change things."

"Of course it would, honey," Doug said. "Moving in changes everything."

Andy swallowed. "I lived with Nate. It wasn't so different."

"Except the fact that you were never around."

Andy rolled her eyes. "Not never." But he was right. Once she started at Runway, she saw far less of Nate at home. And everywhere else.

Doug shrugged. "I tried it once, a looong time ago. As we both know, it didn't take."

"It wasn't that long ago. And you guys were practically living in a closet."

"But it wasn't the place that was the problem. It was the idea of us being together all the time. Nowhere to go to escape each other. If we had a fight, we were stuck in the same room, staring at each other until one of us stormed off."

"It wouldn't be like that in the townhouse--"

"Yeah, you'd storm off to another room, where you'd fume at a person who was 30 feet away instead of three. But you wouldn't be able to run back to your place and sleep in a bed that's exclusively yours. You couldn't go home and drink yourself into a stupor and wake up hungover and have no one notice." He sipped his tea. "It's called growing up, I think." With a grin, he said, "Which obviously I am not ready to do. But you might be."

"Maybe," Andy said. "But this doesn't feel so much like it was with Nate." Nervous butterflies sprang up in her stomach. "With him, it was convenience. We moved here together and found a place because we had to. We couldn't afford it otherwise. I thought about it a little beforehand, but it just made sense." She shrugged. "With Miranda, it's more than that. It feels… permanent. Like a commitment."

"You weren't committed to Nate?"

"Sure I was." She cringed a little, remembering Christian. God, what a cluster fuck. "I mean, I sort of was."

"And Miranda was part of the picture back then too. You were more committed to her from the day you started the job."

Andy thought about it. "It's possible. I didn't feel this way about her though," Andy said, wanting to be clear. "I had a little crush. Probably."

"And you thought she was hot."

"Well, duh. That's obvious." She narrowed her eyes at him. "You're a gay man. Would you have sex with Miranda?"

Doug nearly sprayed tea out of his nose, and choked a little. "What?"

"There are dudes all over the place giving her the eye. Gay dudes. It's really annoying."

"Huh. No comment," Doug said, his face going a little red.

"You perv," she said. "You would, wouldn't you."

"We are not talking about this."

"What is it about her?"

The waiter arrived then, presenting their chicken and waffles. It gave Doug a little recovery time, but Andy did not let up. "Come on. Tell me," she said, carving her chicken breast a little too viciously.

"I can't put it into words. She's just… herself. She's like no one else out there, male or female. Everyone is drawn to powerful, charismatic people. And gay men aren't threatened by her the way straight guys are."

Andy took a bite of waffle. "True. But five billion dollars wouldn't be enough to convince me to have sex with Rupert Murdoch. Or Sumner Redstone."

"Ditto." Doug shivered in disgust. "It's not about money though. She's just… special. She crosses boundaries. And now that she's a 'mo, she's about a dozen times more appealing."

"Apparently. Every time we go to Brite it's worse."

Doug laughed. "Now that I've noticed. She loves having an entourage, doesn't she."

"I wouldn't be surprised if she carted some of them to Paris with us as security."

"I'm available as backup, by the way," Doug said, shoveling an obscene forkful of syrup-smothered chicken and waffles into his mouth.

Andy smirked. "Nice try, waffle boy. I don't think you're enough muscle for Miranda. But do you really want to come? It might be fun--I'll be taking the girls around the city."

Doug thought about it, and shook his head. "Maybe next year. You two should enjoy yourselves this time. It will be the first time since you walked out on Runway that you'll been back."

Andy nodded. "Yeah. I hope we have a good time."

"You will," Doug assured her. "You'll be together and in love in the city of lights."

"Sure." Andy was still nervous, though she didn't know why. She had so many memories of Paris, some tinged with such misery it made her head hurt. But Doug was right. They were together now, and very much in love. "So. Back to the point. Moving in."

"Oh yeah. Commitment. You ready for that? Don't answer right away--think about it. And you can be totally honest. Whatever you say goes no further."

Andy took a deep breath. The butterflies flapped so wildly in her belly that Andy couldn't even eat. She thought, and thought some more. "Yeah," she said finally, breathing out the word with a great sigh. "I am."

Doug's eyes were wide. "You look like you really mean it."

"I don't know how I'd live without her," Andy said. It was that simple.

"Well then. I guess you're moving in."

Andy laughed. "I guess I'm moving in."

Miranda had a nice little buzz on after her dinner; Karl had plied her with far too much wine and although she usually didn't indulge, she treated herself. It had been a very pleasant evening. She hoped seeing Andrea would not devolve into an argument like the other night. What if Andrea did not approve of the plans? Miranda did not even want to think about it.

The girls were already in bed; Miranda regretted that, but she would make up for it this weekend. She climbed the third floor steps and pushed the bedroom door open. And promptly dropped her bag on the floor.

Andrea was lying in the same position she had been the other night, sprawled across the center of the bed. But her sweats had been replaced with a very short, ice blue nighty that rode up deliciously on her ass. On her feet were silver Manolos. "Huh," Miranda said.

Andrea looked over her shoulder, and she had not washed her makeup off. In fact, she looked as though she'd spent quite a bit of time in front of the mirror tonight. Miranda thought she might be very much in trouble.

"Hello, gorgeous," Andrea drawled, turning on her side. Miranda's eyes slid greedily from her face to her breasts, and for a moment, she stopped breathing. "I've been waiting for you."

"Huh," Miranda repeated, already growing wet. Had she always been this easy? Andrea caressed herself, hand traveling from belly to breast, and Miranda watched a nipple tighten under the silk. "Um," she said incoherently.

"You all right?" Andrea asked.

Alcohol had loosened her tongue. "I'm drunk."

"Oh good," Andrea said with a sensual smile. "Then you'll do whatever I want."

She certainly would. She stepped out of her shoes and shucked her jacket.

Andy dragged her lower lip between her teeth as she plucked at her nipple. "I wanted to talk first, but I've changed my mind. Come over here."

Miranda did.

Nearly an hour later, Miranda lay sweating and sated in a very pleased heap at the foot of the bed. Her mouth was dry, but she could not have moved if her life depended on it. She closed her eyes, enjoying the afterglow until Andrea shook her. "Don't go to sleep. I want to talk."

Miranda gaped. "I'm a little disoriented right now, darling. Can it wait till morning?"

"It's important."

With a sigh, Miranda sat up and wiped at her eyes. "Hold on then." She had to clean up and get some water if she was going to have any sort of conversation.

A few minutes later she returned, retrieving a nightgown from the closet on her way. Andrea had pulled the nighty back on, and Miranda eyed it lasciviously. "Where did that come from?"

"I did some shopping before dinner."

"I like it."

Andrea giggled. "I know."

She slid into the bed, straightening the sheets before settling herself on the pillow. "All right. What is it?"

"I got your plans."

Miranda inhaled nervously. "Mm. And?"

"I love the idea."

She exhaled. "Oh. Good. Perhaps construction can begin next Wednesday, unless you have any changes you'd like to make."

Andrea stared at her, tilting her head. "Miranda, did you think much about this before you hired that architect?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're having a closet put in for me. And a room, where I can put my stuff."

"Ye-es," Miranda said. Andrea was not usually this slow.

"Are you asking me to move in?"

Miranda blinked. Oh. Her heart sped up. "Oh."

"Yeah. That's what I thought."

Move in. All Miranda wanted to do was make Andrea feel comfortable, to make a space for her. To make her feel at home.

To make her a home, Miranda thought.

"Oh," she said again.

"Your conversational skills are really on fire tonight," Andrea teased.

Miranda took a moment to marshal her thoughts. "I'll admit, that was not at the top of my mind when I had the plans drawn up," she said, honestly. "But I… would like that. Very much."

"Mull it over," Andrea said helpfully. "I'm in no rush. And you're probably not in any condition to make a big decision."

Miranda reached out and touched Andrea's beautiful face, now stripped of makeup. She was so sensitive, and kind. So loving. "I won't change my mind."

"Still, think it over. We can talk about it."

Leaning forward, Miranda kissed her, and goosebumps scattered across her skin. She stroked inside Andrea's mouth, loving the feel of it, and the body under her hands. She felt Andrea's pulse race, and it gave Miranda a high. She would not change her mind. Even if it meant risk, and danger, and fear. She would not fail.

She couldn't. Losing this, she thought as Andrea rolled atop her once more, was not an option.

The next day, Andy went to work for the 6am shift, despite the fact that she was exhausted after such a late night. The new lingerie had worked out very nicely, Andy recalled with a smug grin. Miranda was so easy. She released a contented sigh, and something hit her in the head.

It was a balled up piece of paper, thrown by Mark. "Stop looking so happy. It's disgusting."

Andy just grinned wider. "Can't help it."

"You got laid last night, didn't you."

"No comment," she said. She didn't even blush this time. He'd been teasing her about her sex life with some consistency now, so she was used to it.

"You two are unreal. That's an abnormally long honeymoon period."

She shrugged. "Please. You're just jealous that I'm getting some and you're not."

"Don't rub it in," he replied. "Any plans for the weekend?"

"Um, tonight I'm going to my apartment. We're considering combining our resources."

Mark watched her carefully. "Is that code for 'moving in together'?"

Andy cringed nervously. "Um… Well. I think so. I wanted to see how much stuff I had, and what I'd get rid of if the time came."

"Are there wedding bells in your future?" he said, eyebrows lifting.

"No, god no," Andy said. "We're just starting to talk about… stuff."

"Some folks skip cohabitation and go right for the wedding."

"Oh, cut it out. It's not even legal, so we don't have to decide anything about that."

"Chicken?" Mark suggested.

"Don't push it," Andy warned.

Mark put his hands up in surrender. Sometimes he dug in a little too hard, but he knew when to stop. "Hey, just keeping things light. Moving in is some serious shit. Though I wouldn't mind a fancy place on the Upper East Side. Sure beats Williamsburg."

Andy had to agree. She loved her little walk-up, but it didn't have the same appeal as it once had. She found she missed the scent of Miranda's perfume, or the voices of Carina and the kids downstairs in the kitchen as they talked about their day. Sometimes being "home" seemed lonely, which it never had before, even after Nate moved out.

That night, she arrived and unlocked the door. It smelled a little stale inside; considering it had been over a week since she'd been there, it wasn't a surprise. The fridge was empty, but the lone plant she left behind was still alive.

As she looked around, Andy decided she could live without almost all the furniture in the place. There was one bedside table, a little antique from her mother that she would certainly hang on to. But the bed and the couch were hand-me-downs from a friend of Nate's. The bookshelves and desk were IKEA and had served their purpose. The rest of the stuff came from other friends, most of whom Andy was no longer in touch with. Nothing had even sentimental value.

The books, of course, would come with her, and some of the clothes and shoes. But even looking intently for things to keep, most of what she'd acquired would be easily parted with.

Glancing around at the space where she'd begun her life in New York, and her life at Runway, it felt right to leave it behind. She had changed. The things she held dear were elsewhere now.

If Miranda wanted her to move in, Andy was ready. She picked up the plant from the windowsill and headed out.

It was just after nine when the cab rolled up to the townhouse. When she pushed the door open, the scents of pizza dough and garlic welcomed her. The twins voices rose in concert with each other; they were arguing about something, until Miranda cut them both off with a single word. "Girls," Andy heard her say, "Andrea is home. Cassidy, go get her so she can have some supper."

Tears sprung to Andy's eyes unbidden. She belonged here.

Cassidy ran into the foyer and came straight up to her, eyes bright and cheerful. "Hey Andy. Your pizza's in the oven."

"Hey, kiddo," she said, and gave her a giant hug, hiding tears in soft red hair.

She let Cassidy lead the way, wiping her eyes quickly, but the emotion welled up even more strongly once she saw the kitchen. The place was a wreck, pizza toppings littering the counter and flour all over the floor. Caroline's hair was dusted with the white powder, but Miranda was pristine as ever, seated calmly at the table. "There was a minor… incident," she said, turning the page of a glossy magazine. "The girls will be doing the laundry this weekend, as well as scrubbing this entire kitchen before the night is over."

Andy laughed, and a tear spilled onto her cheek. Miranda saw it immediately and went to her, holding Andy's face between her hands. "What happened? Are you all right?"

Andy leaned in, wrapping her arms around the slim waist. She pressed her damp cheek to Miranda's smooth one and whispered in her ear. "I want to live here."

She felt the stiffening of Miranda's spine. But it only lasted a moment, and Miranda pulled her closer. "Are you certain?"


A voice interrupted them. "Are you breaking up?" Cassidy said sharply.

They separated. "What?" Andy barked, the word echoed by Miranda.

"You're crying and Mom looks weird," the girl said, frowning mightily. "And lesbians always hug when they're breaking up."

Andy swallowed and looked at Miranda. They should have discussed how they were going to bring it up to the kids. Fortunately, Miranda took the bull by the horns. "Girls, Andrea and I have been talking about making a change to our circumstances."

"I knew it! You're splitting! That's shit!" Cassidy shouted.

Miranda's nostrils flared, and when Andy heard her deep inhalation, she knew she had to act. "We're not breaking up!" she said quickly, making eyes at Miranda not to blow her top. "And you're doing my laundry too for saying, uh, the S word." Miranda narrowed her eyes. "And taking care of the garden tomorrow. Everything needs to be watered and weeded." A graceful eyebrow lifted in surprise. One tiny nod of the head told Andy she'd chosen well. She wanted to sag in relief.

"Fine," Cassidy sulked. "What are you going on--"

"Would you just shut it and let them talk?" Caroline stage whispered. "We have lacrosse practice tomorrow and I'm not missing it because of your big mouth!"

The girls went silent.

After a long moment, Andy just said it. "I'm moving in."

There was no reaction from either small face. Andy heard the ticking of the hallway clock as they all stared at each other. "Don't you already live here?" Cassidy said. Caroline kicked her under the table.

"Um, no. I mean, sort of. But I have my own place too." Andy glanced at Miranda, who didn't have anything to add. "Anyway, I'm going to bring the rest of my stuff over and be here all the time now. If that's okay with you," she added without thinking, and in her peripheral vision she saw Miranda's head snap in her direction.

"Cool," Caroline said hurriedly, watching her mother. "Isn't that cool, Cass?"

"A lot cooler than breaking up," the girl said. "Why were you crying?"

Andy laughed a little, and felt the room's tension dissipate in a moment. "I was just happy, I guess."

"Huh," Cassidy said, and Caroline kicked her again.

"We're really glad, Andy." Caroline flashed a big smile. "Want your dinner? It might burn if you don't eat it now."

"Um, sure," Andy managed. She owed Caroline big time. The girl had skills. But to survive in this house, she'd had to develop them. Caroline was out of her seat in a flash and serving Andy in less than a minute. Tonight it was asparagus and shitake mushrooms on one slice, Thai chicken and peanuts on another. "Wow. You went exotic."

"Carina wanted to do something special since next week we're at Dad's, and the Friday after that is the benefit."

Andy blinked. "Oh my god." She looked at Miranda, who appeared as stunned as she felt. "That's in two weeks."

"Yes, of course," Miranda said distantly. "I knew that."

"Maybe you should wait on construction till afterwards."

"But Paris is only a few weeks after that. We'll never have it completed if we wait for the right time," Miranda reasoned.

Cassidy perked up. "Construction?"

Miranda sighed, and Andy took a very large bite of her pizza.

A week later, the bedroom was a disaster.

The job had moved quickly, since Miranda had insisted that it be finished by Monday at the latest. She was paying through the nose for the construction to go through the weekend, but it would be worth it. Jed had overseen everything so far, and she trusted him implicitly. The new closet would be exquisite, and the improvements she'd thrown in for her own would be just as welcome. Although she did care about those things a little more than Andrea did.

Stepping over the plastic covering the floor, she retrieved what she needed to spend the night at Andrea's apartment. It would be the first and last time she would ever stay over.

She hadn't meant for that to happen. Of course she'd been there to visit, now and then. But not often, and not for long. When Miranda looked around it, she saw a small space that Andrea had once shared with another lover. A few rooms, a tiny bathroom, minimal closets. Miranda had not lived in such a space since she had been very young, younger than Andrea, studying in London. It had not been a pleasant experience for her, but she'd survived.

As of tonight the girls were gone until Sunday afternoon, and the Book was under control. She'd considered having Jane deliver it to Andrea's, but that was simply going too far. It could wait till morning. Instead, she would ostensibly help Andrea go through her things, but Miranda knew she'd only been invited to keep her company. Andrea would make her own choices as to what to bring, and Miranda would not judge, no matter how much she wanted to. Andrea had been very clear about that. If she was to have a room of her own in the townhouse, she would control what went in it. Miranda had not been happy, but she agreed it would probably benefit them both.

She wondered if Andrea pictured Stephen's presence in the townhouse the way Miranda did with Nate. She hoped not. It was a miserable thing to do.

Roy was outside when Miranda called him, and the drive was lengthy because of Friday traffic. Instead of making phone calls, which she was tempted to do, she sat back and thought about what it would be like to have Andrea home with her all the time.

Moving in with Jeremy had been so simple, at first. He was easy-going. He adored her. He didn't mind all her skirts, and shoes, and her fastidious habits. Seven years later, when the girls were 18 months old, she dumped half of his clothing on the sidewalk after finding out about his affair with a friend Miranda had been quite close to.

The Post had a field day. Miranda had no regrets. Jeremy was humiliated, and it took him a long time to understand why she'd done what she did. When he later caught their old "friend" cheating on him, the light dawned. It improved their relationship, but he'd tried to come crawling back. That just made Miranda sad, and she knew it would not be the same between them.

Miranda found the townhouse not long after their break up. Five years later, Stephen started coming around. Eventually, he moved in, not caring what the place looked like; he only wanted a good club chair and a room with a giant tv to watch sports and CNBC. He'd been more of a challenge to share the house with, but that was because he had so many things. Miranda simply did not have room, nor did it occur to her to make room. While Stephen occupied a few feet of Miranda's precious closet space, he kept most of his clothes in the spare room. Looking back, she'd made a terrible mistake not being more accommodating. After a year, Stephen wanted to move to a new place. Miranda refused, and Stephen tried to make do.

He did, for a while. But when the time came, it had not taken him long to move out. Miranda was profoundly grateful for that.

When Andrea began spending the night, almost from the very beginning, it felt comfortable. Unpleasantly so. Things that had once driven Miranda crazy with Stephen, like toothpaste left behind in the sink, or dirty clothes strewn across the floor, rolled right off Miranda's back. Of course having a housekeeper on hand every day helped in that regard. But Miranda recalled being too distracted by Andrea's presence to notice all the things that might have annoyed her at one time. She was too… enthralled. And she still was. Occasionally, Andrea would leave her underwear on the floor. That meant Andrea had at some point taken said underwear off; slid it down her slim thighs, so pale and sleek. By the time Miranda got to that thought, she was too busy thinking about sex to worry about anything else.

Only one thing really bothered her, and Andrea knew never, ever to do it again. Not after that first time.

A week following their first night together, Miranda went to shower a few minutes after Andrea. When she opened the glass door, she thought a small animal had curled up and died in the drain. She'd actually let out a little shriek when she saw it, and Andrea had come running. "Oh," she'd said calmly. "Sorry." She'd taken a tissue and cleaned out the drain.

Miranda remembered standing stock still in the doorway of the shower, her eyes firmly closed. "Do not ever, ever leave that behind again. Is that clear?"

"It's just hair, Miranda. You have it too."

Miranda had shivered. "This is the type of thing that ends relationships," she'd said. And she meant every word.

"Wow," Andrea replied. Her eyes had gone very wide. "Okay. No hair in the drain. I promise."

"Thank you."

Andrea never did it again, and Miranda thanked god for it. She really didn't want to throw the girl out of her home because she was blessed with a ridiculously full head of hair. On her head, it was her crowning glory. In the bathroom, it was a curse.

Miranda laughed to herself thinking about it as Roy pulled up to Andrea's apartment. "Good night, Roy. I'll call tomorrow if I need you."

"Of course, Ms. Priestly. Tell Andy I wish her luck."

"I will."

He helped her out and watched from the curb as she pressed the buzzer.

Andrea welcomed her inside, and Miranda was impressed by the changes she'd already made in a short time. The posters and prints were down off the walls, and it seemed as though she'd packed most of the books. She'd divided everything else into piles, the meanings of which Miranda could not yet interpret.

"Sit," Andrea said after kissing her in a distracted fashion. "How was your day?"

"Fine, fine," Miranda replied. It hadn't been exactly fine; the Fall trends layout was sub-par, and she expected the entire thing would have to be reshot. Otherwise the September issue was coming along, but an emergency Sunday brainstorm session might be in order. Two years ago she'd have thought nothing of spending the entire weekend in the office. No longer. "But I may work Sunday."

Andrea sighed, a strand of hair blowing to the side with the breath. "Oh well. I'll probably be back here anyway. It never seems like it's going to be that hard to move till you actually sit down and do it."

Miranda nodded, though it had been a long time since she'd packed her own belongings. It was far easier to pay someone else to do it. "How are you?"

"Okay. It's strange. All these memories," she said, trailing off as she looked longingly at what appeared to Miranda to be a pile of old sheets. She reached across the floor and snagged a tumbler of wine that was nearly empty.

"Ah," Miranda said. "Is the rest of that in the kitchen?" she asked.

"Yeah. I gave my good wine glasses to Doug--you'll have to use a juice glass."

"No matter." Miranda climbed over a few boxes and said, "You don't have to give everything away, you know."

"I know. But we don't need more glasses, and it's not like they were inherited from my grandmother. They're Crate & Barrel, circa 2004. No big deal."

"If you're certain."

"I am."

Miranda poured a full glass and carried the wine back into the main room to refill Andrea's. "Thanks," Andrea said. "I might get loaded tonight."

"I might join you."

"Good." Andrea held up a black sheath. "You like this one, don't you?"

"Yes," Miranda replied. Not everything had to be expensive to be chic, Miranda reminded herself. "You're not keeping that orange thing, are you?"

"Of course I am. It's already at the townhouse, so you won't have to see me put it in the 'take' pile."

Miranda rolled her eyes. She hated that shirt.

"Careful, you're drifting close to dictating what I can bring," Andrea warned.

Miranda took a swig of wine.

After an hour of watching Andrea inspect figurines of the Statue of Liberty, various plaques and awards, and an unfortunate musical unicorn on a revolving stand, Miranda was restless.

"I told you it was going to be boring," Andrea said.

She remembered, but at the time, she couldn't imagine that going through Andrea's history would be so dull. But this was definitely that. "Where are all the pictures of you as a child? Or the clothes that tell the story of you going from bumbling slob to vaguely fashionable?"

"Ha ha." Andrea pursed her lips. "That stuff's packed. Do you want to go through the kitchen and see if there's anything worth keeping?"

"All right."

Five minutes later, Miranda was finished. She'd found exactly one thing worth hanging on to: a well-designed ice cream scoop. The rest, which there honestly wasn't much of, was expendable. She cracked open another bottle of wine (she really was halfway to soused) and carried it back with her.

"An ice cream scoop is all you could come up with?" she said. "I thought you'd at least approve of the lemon zester."

"We have at least two at home. The knives are no good either."

"I know. Nate had the fancy ones. He took those with him, obviously."

At that moment, Miranda became convinced she could smell aftershave. Two years may have gone by since the man had left Andrea's life, but in this place, he was everywhere.

"He was a nice guy," Andrea said, flipping through a pile of newspapers.

Miranda said nothing.

"I used to wonder if I hadn't started at Runway if we would have lasted. You know, gotten married, had kids. Lived a normal life."

The pit in Miranda's stomach began to open up again. The one that made her wonder if Andrea was sure about them, or anything.

"We'd have probably gone on for a while--maybe he'd be a sous chef in the city by now, and I'd be working at Auto Universe, bringing home a paycheck and living in Park Slope where everybody else migrated last year." She laughed to herself. "You ever think about how one decision can change the course of your entire life?"


"The day I met you," Andrea said. "That was one of those days." When Andrea looked up, she was stricken. "God, what is it?" She sat up on her knees and made her way to Miranda, who felt sick to her stomach. "What?"

"Do you regret that day? Changing your whole life for something… less than normal?" she managed.

Andrea appeared astonished. "Boy, I really need to work on my delivery, don't I. Let's see--first off, I don't regret anything. Not working for you, not leaving Nate, not being with you." She reached out and tucked Miranda's hair behind her ear. "When I met you, it was like I'd been walking a straight line, following the plan I made when I was a little kid. And one day I looked around, and just off to the left, there was a garden, hidden away from everyone. It was walled off, and I didn't have a key. But one day I found a way inside, and it was the most beautiful place I'd ever been." Andrea paused, looking intently into her eyes.

"That's you, Miranda. You're the garden."

Miranda wanted so much to believe her. "I'm the garden."

"Uh huh. And I never, ever want to leave. I can't say what our future will be, but I love you and I want us to face it together. If that's what you want."

Miranda swallowed. "It is." Something occurred to her, and before she could change her mind, she said, "I should have asked you properly to move in to the townhouse. I don't know what I was thinking."

Andrea chuckled softly. "You can ask me now."

Taking one big breath, Miranda said, "Darling, would you please move in with me?"

"Yes," Andrea said, a huge smile spreading across her face. "I would love it." She fell forward and Miranda embraced her, pulling her up and onto her lap. Andrea's knees pressed into the back of the couch, and Miranda felt surrounded, nuzzling into the warm crook of Andrea's neck. She smelled of wine, vanilla lotion, and a little sweat. It was comforting. Andrea sat back, weight settling on Miranda's thighs. "You're beautiful right now."

Miranda snorted indelicately. "Am I that pathetic?"

"Don't be rude," Andrea said. "When someone compliments you, say thank you. And besides, you're not pathetic. It's not pathetic to love someone."

With a shake of her head, Miranda replied quickly, "I know, I know. Thank you. I'm just not used to…" Miranda had to force the words from her throat, "needing someone so much."

"I think it's nice to be needed."

"You would."

"I need you too, you know."

"Please. You'd be fine without me."

Andrea stared at her. "Is that what you really think?"

"You were fine before. You probably never thought of me once till we saw each other again."

"Miranda, you know that's not true. I thought about you constantly. Every time I walked by the Elias-Clarke building. Whenever I passed a Starbucks, which was pretty much every fifteen minutes. And always when I saw a woman whose hair was like yours, or who wore Prada shoes, or who looked sophisticated and beautiful and elegant. But they weren't you, and I was disappointed every time."

"You were?"

Andrea nodded. "I didn't just… get involved because you were there. I'm pretty wild about you."

"I won't always be beautiful and elegant," Miranda finally said, voicing the thoughts that had plagued her for longer than she cared to remember. "I'll be old, and you'll still be young and attractive. I don't want to keep you from enjoying your life the way it ought to be enjoyed."

Andrea sighed, tracing a finger against the line that creased her brow. Miranda closed her eyes and cursed her age. "But you're the you I want. Now, not ten years ago, or twenty. If I was myself now, and I'd met you then, you'd be different. You might never have looked at me, or given me a chance. Don't you think that's true?"

Miranda shrugged. "We'll never know."

"I bet I'm right. I bet you'd have thrown me out of your office within 30 seconds if I hadn't been there on that very day, that very minute even. It was all timing. You were in a particular mood, and I was, of course, late, and bam. Everything fell into place the way it was supposed to."

"Are you saying it was kismet?"

With a sweet smile, Andrea leaned forward and kissed her gently. "It's possible."

"I'm your destiny, then," Miranda said wryly.

Andrea threw up her hands. "I don't know! Maybe. But you should at least accept the idea that we're supposed to be together."

"And in a few years, when I'm debating the merits of botox and plastic surgery?"

"I'll cancel all your appointments and make sure we spend lots of time abroad so you're nice and relaxed. And of course we'll have lots and lots of sex because that keeps your heart healthy and the rest of you happy."

At that, Miranda laughed. "So you've thought about this."

"Yeah. You're 25 years older than me. But I'm okay with that. You're still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of beautiful women." Miranda lifted her eyebrow. "Oh come on, you're surrounded by models every single day of the week. You don't think I wonder about you?"

Miranda was surprised. "Well, no." She had never once considered straying. "That's ridiculous."

"No it's not. You don't get tempted every once in a while? Not even by, I don't know, Helena Christensen? Or the new Guess girl, the one who looks like Sophia Loren?"

"No," Miranda said.

"You could, you know. You could have anyone you wanted."

Miranda supposed that might be the case. "I don't want anyone else."

"Well then. Now you know where I'm coming from. Right?"

Miranda frowned.

Andy rolled her eyes. "So, you're older. Let's worry about the gala, and Paris, and everything else. And much, much later, we can focus on what it might be like in, say, ten or fifteen years. Deal?"

The girl had a way with words, Miranda had to admit. She could be extremely convincing given the right circumstances. "Oh, all right."

"Good. But I'm telling you right now, no plastic surgery. I am laying down the law."

"I make no promises."

"Miranda Priestly, you could end up looking like Joan Van Ark. And then where would we be?"

She had a point.

"Let's keep anesthesia to a minimum in our lives. I'd like you to survive long enough to look old."

With a dramatic sigh, Miranda finally said, "No surgery. But I reserve the right to reopen the discussion."

"Whatever, as long as I have a few years of peace."

The word years struck Miranda--they were talking about their future in a very permanent way. She thought she should be more unnerved, or that Andrea should be, but they both seemed calm enough. Perhaps she could worry a little less, and try harder to make Andrea's life pleasant today, and tomorrow. The rest would come, no matter what she did.

Andrea's weight was starting to make her knees go numb, but she would not have asked her to move for the world. Fortunately, Andrea leaned forward for another kiss, and Miranda opened her mouth for a curious tongue. God, Andrea was a wonderful kisser. Miranda's hand was sneaking under Andrea's shirt, exploring leisurely, when the door buzzer jolted her out of her trance. "Who is that?" she croaked.

"Dinner," Andrea panted. "Damn. I thought they'd take longer."

"When did you order?"

"When you were in the kitchen." Andrea climbed off her and buzzed the delivery person in. She fished in her purse for cash, and Miranda chose not to offer up a credit card this time. Andrea could be so sensitive about the differential between their salaries, and she wanted this evening to continue on its positive trajectory.

"I hope Italian is okay. I thought we could use the carbs to counteract the wine."

"Very smart." She hoped the food wasn't too heavy. She had plans to pick up where she left off. Soon.

Andy looked around and nodded, pleased with her progress. Despite Miranda's rather unhelpful presence, she was nearly finished. The rest of the work would be hauling bags to the GoodWill, but Miranda had insisted on hiring someone to transport Andy's belongings to the townhouse. Andy had originally wanted to do it herself, but came to her senses. She really didn't want to haul ten boxes of books down and up three flights of stairs in both directions.

She shoved the empty food containers into an overflowing trash bag and pulled it closed. Her belly was full, and her lover was sprawled on the bed waiting for her. She felt very, very happy.

"You're not asleep, are you?" Andy asked when she rejoined Miranda.

There was no response, but Miranda's eyes opened. She looked over and asked, apropos of nothing, "Do you ever think about Stephen living in the townhouse?"


Miranda turned on her back and stared at the ceiling. "He lived there for three years. Do you ever… think about him? Feel his presence?"

"Gosh." Andy sat at the edge of the bed. "Not really."

Miranda looked surprised. "Oh?"

"It makes sense that I would, I guess. But it doesn't feel much like him. It's so completely… you. Your taste. Your sense of style and design. And the fact that you got a new bed right after I started staying over didn't hurt either," Andy said with a grin.

"I'm concerned that you won't feel at home," Miranda said.

Andy shook her head. "I do. I have for a long time. I love it there."

"But I did design everything. It's my taste, not yours. Ours," she corrected.

"If I had to choose, I'd want it to look the way it does," Andy insisted. "Besides, I'm in pictures everywhere. You can't miss me." Miranda had placed one of Alfonso's portraits in the foyer, and the triptych of the two of them hung outside the dining room. Other shots of Andy and the girls were scattered around the rest of the house, from the stairway to the sitting room to the lair. And of course, two of Andy's more risqué shots hung in the master bath, away from prying eyes. Not to mention the one in the study that was slipped into a drawer when they had guests. "I mean, if you really want it to look different, you could paint a room or two. But I like it as it is."

"All right." Miranda covered her eyes with her arm and sighed.

Andy suddenly realized where this was all coming from. "You're thinking about Nate."

Miranda did not reply.

"I've lived here longer alone than I did with him."

"I know. It's ludicrous."

Andy lay down next to Miranda. "It's not." If she was honest with herself, memories of him had crossed her mind this week as she'd packed. She hadn't realized how much of him was all around her until she'd literally gotten rid of things that had once been his. She already felt freer than she had before she started. "Nate's gone, Miranda. Like Stephen. It's just us, now."

Miranda moved her arm and gazed into Andy's face with watery eyes. "I don't know why I'm emotional."

Andy shrugged one shoulder. "I am too. But I got all my crying out a few days ago."

"You did?"

"Yeah. It's painful to leave things behind. I'm ready, though. I want us to be together."

Miranda sniffed. "I wasn't thinking of all this when I designed your closet."

Andy laughed, and Miranda chuckled along with her. "I can imagine. But it's a good thing. Isn't it?" she asked, unsure for a moment.

With a serene smile, Miranda replied. "Oh yes. Very good."

Andy let her eyes dance down Miranda's body, still fully clothed in skirt, blouse and stockings. "Are you tired?" she asked, enjoying a shiver of warmth.

"Not that tired." Miranda rolled onto her side and slid a leg along Andy's. The shiver turned into a full blown tingle that meandered down her spine and into her pelvis. "Hi," she said.

"Hi." Andy smiled into the kiss, unable to help herself. "Mm," she moaned when Miranda's hands found their way down her pants, grabbing her ass possessively. "That's nice."

Miranda bit gently at her breast through her tee shirt, and Andy's hips jerked. "That too," she breathed. She reached down Miranda's back and pulled the blouse up and over her head, since she couldn't be bothered with buttons tonight. The skirt followed, and Miranda shed the rest of her clothes in a rush as Andy watched hungrily. Miranda fell into Andy's arms and kissed her endlessly, sucking and nipping at her mouth until her lips felt swollen. Andy got the sense that this was going to be long and slow, and she inhaled in excitement at the thought of Miranda doing exactly as she pleased.

Eventually Miranda eased the pajama pants down, and Andy threw her head back when teeth raked down her hip. "Oh, boy," she muttered, so wet and ready she could hardly wait. Two hands pushed her shirt up, kneading her breasts roughly, and Andy cried out. Carefully she trailed her fingernails down Miranda's arms as she spread her legs. She was not disappointed when a wet mouth took a wide first swipe. Andy's knees bent of their own volition, and she tried hard not to thrust, waiting for more. Miranda pressed her face against her, delving deeply with her tongue and nosing around her clit while Andy trembled. "Oh fuck, you feel so good," Andy said, her voice almost unrecognizable to herself.

Miranda explored slowly, and Andy tried to be patient. She moved her hips encouragingly, but it had the opposite effect than the one she wanted; Miranda sat up and wiped at her face before surveying Andy's body with a thoughtful eye. Soon she reached down and slid inside with two fingers, then three. Andy watched her as she looked intently between Andy's legs, seemingly entranced with what she saw. That alone nearly pushed Andy over the edge, and her breath hitched, but Miranda caught it and slowed her pace. "What are you doing?" Andy whined.

"Taking my time," Miranda said, still watching her hand's progress. "I think four, tonight."

Andy arched, and opened her legs wider. Miranda's last finger eased inside, and Andy felt stretched and full. Her face was hot, and she panted through an open mouth as Miranda's fingers reached and twisted.

"You like this," Miranda growled.

"Yeah," Andy replied, her voice high and thin.

"I can keep you here all night if I want to," Miranda said, sounding drunk with lust, with power. "Right at the edge."

Legs shaking with effort, Andy lifted her hips to bring Miranda in deeper.

"I can do whatever I like with you." Miranda's hand slowed even more, and Andy's mouth dropped open in a silent cry. "You won't come until I want you to."

"Oh god," Andy said, unable to say much else. "Oh, Miranda."

"What?" she asked, her voice deceptively light.

"Please," Andy cried. Miranda wanted her to beg, Andy knew, and she would do it eagerly.

"Please what?"

"Please let me come." She was on fire now, aching.

Miranda looked down at her, gaze intense. "How badly do you want it?"

"I want it so bad," Andy moaned. "Please, make me come."

Miranda's other hand touched her clit, and Andy stopped moving, tensing in anticipation. A moment later, Miranda caressed her just the way she needed. Two more strokes and Andy bucked hard, coming in an explosion of pleasure that ripped through her body. She heard Miranda groan in sympathy at that moment, which heightened everything. If Miranda could orgasm too, just by touching her… Andy came a second time at the thought, tearing the sheet loose from the bed.

When Andy opened her eyes, Miranda was panting above her, hand still between Andy's legs. She looked desperate, and Andy uncurled stiff fingers from the sheet and reached for her. Miranda parted her thighs and welcomed Andy's hand, which slipped amidst so much moisture Andy was startled. Effortlessly she pushed inside with two fingers. When her thumb brushed Miranda's clit, Miranda jerked once and came swiftly, calling out in a cry so sexy it made Andy throb.

As she stared at the vision hovering above, Andy thought Miranda had never looked so beautiful. Her skin was like ivory, streaked with the flush of arousal. Her expression was rapturous as the aftershocks pulsed through her, a final moan of satisfaction leaving her throat as she collapsed into Andy's waiting arms.

The world was silent around them. They lay still, until Miranda stirred and nuzzled her temple. She finally met Andy's gaze with a lazy smile, so Andy wrapped one arm around her neck and kissed her. "Not bad," she teased, and Miranda pinched her ass.

"You'd better be joking," Miranda said, nipping Andy's throat mercilessly.

"Well, it was pretty good," she said, yelping when the nip became a bite to her collarbone. "All right, all right, it was incredible. And you know it."

Miranda finally propped her head on one hand. "I suspected. Incredible seems appropriate."

Andy trailed one finger along Miranda's neck, traveling down to circle a nipple that hardened quickly. "You enjoyed it too, I take it."

Cool blue eyes drooped to half mast. "Indeed."

"And I don't think I'm quite done with you yet," Andy said, flipping Miranda on her back in a move so smooth Andy was impressed with herself. She licked a careful line down Miranda's sternum, grinning when she heard a sharp intake of breath. "So you just lay back and enjoy the ride."

Miranda's eyes flashed in approval. "If you insist."

"I look absurd. I'm changing the meeting from 11:30 to noon," Miranda insisted.

"You're the one who wanted to do it after breakfast. And besides, everyone's probably already there waiting. You called a meeting on Sunday--you'd better show up on time if you want to keep your employees from killing each other. And you."

Miranda cursed the fact that she had only brought enough clothing for one night. They'd spent much of Saturday in bed, making love, talking about everything and nothing. The rest of the time, Miranda did something she had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past thirty years to avoid: she cleaned. For Andrea, she made an exception. It was remarkable how filthy a stove could get, even if Andrea swore she never cooked. Of course Miranda blamed Nate, which made her grumble even louder as she scooped out the detritus into a garbage can.

Andrea handled the bathroom herself, thank god. Miranda could not have dealt with that.

But after more wine, and more food, and more sex Saturday night, Miranda could not bring herself to go home to the townhouse and leave Andrea in the empty apartment. And Sunday morning, well, she'd been distracted. Really no one could blame her for that, because the bathroom was just so small, and the mirrored reflection of Andrea's naked body in that tiny shower was simply too much to resist.

So, she was late. And wearing tight, velvety trousers that were admittedly flattering, but far too youthful for someone of her age and status. Fortunately Andrea had offered a tunic that was slightly more respectable, but Miranda could only pray that she was not caught by the paparazzi as she made her way into Elias-Clarke. She'd read enough mid-life crisis jokes about herself over the past few months for a lifetime.

Miranda knew that lesbians traded clothing. For some, it made sense. But this was going too far. She would stop at the Closet as soon as she arrived at the office.

"Don't strain anything carrying all that… stuff," Miranda said, shoving her stockings into her bag. "I have plans for you this week."

"I know," Andrea said. "I'll be careful. Doug will do all the heavy lifting." She slipped into Miranda's arms and kissed her, lingering until Miranda's phone rang in her hand.

She flipped it open but hung on to Andrea. "Yes?"

"I'm downstairs," Roy said.

"Thank you," she replied, and closed the clamshell. "I'm going."

"I know. Go ahead."

Miranda pursed her lips, and kissed Andrea again. "This is your fault," she reasoned.

"Yeah, yeah. Watch out, you might start a new trend for the over fifty set."

Miranda thwacked her on the ass before she made her way out the door.

Once at Elias-Clarke, she did not drop her bag on Jane's desk. On most mornings she did not worry about her underclothes flying out of it, but today was just one of those days. She did not remove her trench coat either, considering four of her employees were huddled around Amanda's desk the moment she walked into the hall.

Staring them down, she decided not to change. And if anyone said a word, she would simply fire them. Worse things had happened.

"Let's go," she said to the group, and they scuttled behind her to the conference room. To her great relief, two steaming cups of coffee awaited her, alongside a spread of fruit and bread that would get them through the next few hours. Jane stood next to the desk, wide-eyed and smiling. "Thank you, Jane. Lovely."

The girl's smile grew exponentially. Miranda was not a fan of excessive cheerfulness, but being around Andrea had made it more palatable over the past year. Jane was excellent at her job; Miranda did not know how she had managed without her. Emily was far better in the production department than she had been as an assistant that last year, and Miranda congratulated herself for her insight. Emily, who pretended to be flipping through the Book, but who Miranda knew was watching her from the corner of her eye.

Miranda had hoped that the crush Emily harbored for her would dissipate over time, but it had not happened. And it was just that: a crush. Hero-worship. There had to be a way to shake Emily free of it, but Miranda had not yet deciphered it.

Perhaps Andrea could help. She had a way of knowing what people needed before they knew it themselves. Miranda nodded slightly to herself. Yes, that was a good idea.

Finally she removed her coat as her nine soldiers gathered around the table. Emily gaped when she observed Miranda's attire, but Miranda ignored her. No one else said a word.

"The gala is Friday. Paris is around the corner. But September is looming. I hope you've all brought your most innovative thoughts to the table today, so to speak. I'd like to hear at least one original idea from each of you over the next few hours. All right?"

There was a uniform nod around the table.

"We stay until I'm ready to go. I'll bring in dinner if necessary." Jocelyn went pale at that; Miranda knew she had the baby at home, but this was no time to go soft. "Emily, you're first," Miranda said. Prove me right, she thought.

Emily glowed with pride, and opened her mouth.

Andy had everything arranged by the time Doug rang the buzzer. A minute later, she heard heavy footsteps clambering up the steps, and she pulled the door open. Doug stood there, grinning, but he was not alone.

Lily was with him. Lily, whom she had not seen for well over a year. Who had given her nothing but grief after Nate left, who had not even called her when the big news leaked in the papers about her and Miranda.

To say she was surprised was an understatement. Lily seemed as shell-shocked as Andy felt. Her smile was hesitant and confused, though obviously she'd known where she was going this morning. "Hey," Lily said uncertainly.

Andy tried to smile. "Hey."

"Lily's helping us," Doug announced. "She thought it was high time you two saw each other again. Because this whole 'on the outs' bullshit is totally lame, right?"

Andy looked to Lily for an answer. "Right, I guess," Lily replied with a shrug.

But Andy was not ready to forgive so easily. At best she'd felt abandoned when Lily quit speaking to her; she wanted an honest to goodness apology. And she was ready to kill Doug. He meant well, but sometimes he was an idiot. "Are you going to, I don't know, say you're sorry?" Andy asked.

"Sorry?" Lily repeated. "For what?"

"For dumping me as a friend just because I broke up with Nate?"

"I think it was more than that, Andy. I mean, I figured the whole thing out when the news broke a few months ago--"

Andy inhaled sharply, and made to close the door in both their faces. If Lily was implying that Andy had cheated on Nate with Miranda, she didn't care if she ever saw her friend again. Doug stopped the door from shutting with a steel-toed Doc Marten, and he shoved it back open. "Hey, hey, this is not going to end in disaster." He maneuvered his way into the apartment and dragged Lily with him. "Lily, it's funny you said that, because we've talked numerous times about Andy and Miranda, and you know for a fact that they didn't get together till last year. Right?"

Lily's lips vanished as her mouth twisted into some semblance of a frown. "Yeah," she said. "Not that I would have known that."

"You?" Andy shouted. "You acted like what I did to Nate was unforgivable! Sorry that I grew apart from my boyfriend. He wasn't perfect either," Andy spat. "You sided with him. Why the hell would I come running to you when I fell in love with someone else?"

Lily rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Andy, you had it bad for Miranda back when you worked for her."

Andy wanted to scream. "So what if I did? Nothing happened. And I sure as hell didn't know what I was feeling until well after the fact. Not that you ever asked me about it. You were too busy judging me for getting involved in the fashion world you pretended to hate. That same world that produced the four thousand dollar Marc Jacobs you carried for at least six months. So don't even pretend to be immune. At least I fell in love with a person instead of a purse."

Lily's eyes grew round at that, but Andy refused to back down. Finally, Lily sighed. "I really loved that bag," she said.

Andy thought back, and she had to agree. "It was pretty great. Do you still have it?"

"Yeah. I take it out for special occasions."

With a deflated nod, Andy sat in one of her few remaining chairs. She looked up at Lily, realizing how wonderful it was to see her. "Hey," she said softly.

"Hey," Lily said, and her smile became real.

Andy leaned forward, arms up, and Lily leaned down to hug her. She held her friend tightly, embarrassed at the tears that sprang to her eyes. "I missed you," she whispered.

"Me too," Lily replied.

"Oh thank god," Doug sighed, sitting on the floor next to them. "I thought I might have to lock you two in the bathroom or something."

Andy laughed, and she felt the vibration of Lily's chuckle as well. All was not exactly forgiven, but she could work with this. "Thanks for coming," she finally said, pulling back.

"I didn't have anything else going on," Lily said.

"I did," Doug interjected. "But I made the time," he added haughtily. "And of course I brought libations." He produced a six pack from a paper bag.

"Six beers?" Lily said, scandalized. "That will barely get us through 1:00."

"Yeah, but all we have to do is haul stuff to the GoodWill. We can stop at Paulie's on the way back for a pint. Or three."

Andy hadn't planned on getting soused on a Sunday afternoon, but Lily was here, and she was about to say goodbye to the place where she'd hung her hat for years. That was worth at least a minor celebration. "Done," she said.

"I'm in," Lily added.

"I did most everything," Andy said, gesturing around the apartment. "Those seven bags are all I have to take, and I borrowed Curtis's wagon from downstairs. Thought it would help."

"I love a girl who thinks ahead," Doug said, grabbing a long neck from the cardboard carrier. "Tell me you haven't packed the bottle opener."

Andy laughed. "I've got you covered."

Miranda was tired, but pleased with the meeting's progress. It took longer than she wished, but she'd be home in time for dinner with Andrea and the children. She caught a cab at the curb of Elias-Clarke, since Roy was picking the girls up at the train station. Slumping back in the shabby seat, she looked forward to a few minutes of quiet time with Andrea.

When she unlocked the door, she heard the raucous laughter of unfamiliar voices coming from the kitchen. But over them she heard Andrea's snorting cackle, which meant only one thing: she was well and truly drunk. Miranda sighed. She'd been young once. She ought to remember what it was like.

Standing in the doorway, she watched tears stream down Andrea's face as she laughed hysterically, nearly falling off her stool. Doug was the first to realize Miranda was standing there, and his expression of horror was comical. Though she was tempted to put on her sternest, most disapproving glare, she chose to give Andrea a break. This time. "Andrea, I'm glad to see you had a productive afternoon," she said.

Andrea only laughed harder and did slip from her stool, not-so-gracefully landing on the floor. Through her tears and giggles, she managed to say, "Hi, Miranda."

The third friend, an attractive African-American woman, appeared stunned into silence. Miranda narrowed her eyes and recognized her from photos: it was Lily, erstwhile fair-weather friend. She looked sufficiently terrified for Miranda's satisfaction. "Lily, hello," she said, holding out a hand. The woman accepted her handshake nervously. "How are you?"

Lily blinked, and Miranda could tell she was about as bad off as Andrea. She felt a flutter of sympathy, but ignored it. This girl had been hard on her lover, and she deserved a little chastisement. "Good," Lily stuttered. "I mean fine, I'm fine. Nice to meet you Ms. Priestly."

"Call her Miranda, for Christ's sake," Andrea said from the floor. "This isn't a job interview."

Lily's eyes remained wide, and Miranda softened. "Yes, please, call me Miranda." She left Lily's side and went to Doug for their requisite cheek kisses. "Hello, Douglas. I see you're all enjoying yourself."

"Sorry," Doug said. "We stopped at the pub after GoodWill. Everything's packed and ready for the movers tomorrow. All they have to do is haul it down and here and you're set."

"Well I'm glad one of you kept your head. Thank you for that." Miranda went to the refrigerator for some water, and heard Doug mutter something under his breath. "Hmm?"

"I was just, um, saying, those are some nice pants."

Andrea giggled yet again. "They're mine."

Lily looked impressed. "Wow."

"They fit you really well," Doug reiterated.

"And yet another homo conquered," Andrea said from the floor cheerily. "Told you. Stay back, Dougie, she's off limits."

Doug threw up his hands in apology. "Andy can drink like a fish when she wants to. Not my fault," he explained.

Miranda did not see Andrea in this state often, if ever. Miranda knew why she'd overindulged; her life was in flux, and she was unsettled. But it was odd, seeing this version of her, quite happy to enjoy her drunken state from the floor of the kitchen they would now share. With a tolerant sigh, Miranda knelt down close to Andrea. "You are ridiculous and adorable. I'm going to work for a little longer. The girls are on their way home, so don't go completely off the deep end, please." She kissed Andrea's mouth quickly and stood before two hands reached out to try and pull her down. If there weren't guests present, she'd have considered it, but not tonight. "You two are welcome to stay for dinner. We're having it delivered from Smith and Wollensky. Will you stay?"

Andrea finally clambered up from the floor, using Miranda's arm as leverage. "Yeah, stay! It will be fun. Doug knows the girls--they love him."

Lily looked astonished to hear that; Miranda wondered what sort of dreadful stories Andrea had told her years before about their behavior. Not that they hadn't deserved it. They really had come a long way. All of them. Lily glanced at Doug, who nodded in agreement. "That's very generous, Miranda. Thank you."

"It's the least I can do, what with you helping Andrea move her things, and get home safely in this state." She looked over at Andrea. "Try not to fall out of any chairs once the girls arrive. They are so impressionable at this age."

"Okay," Andrea said grandly, still looking content. But before Miranda knew it, one hand found its way to her bottom, squeezing pleasantly. "Your ass really does look killer in these pants. I don't want them back."

Miranda decided that was her cue to depart. "Thank you, darling. I do appreciate that." Never let it be said that she couldn't take a compliment. "Now, any dietary restrictions for dinner?" Doug and Lily shook their heads in the negative. "All right. Have fun. I'll be in the study."

"Get two servings of mac and cheese!" Andrea called out after her.

"Yes, yes," Miranda replied. Some things would never change.

"She was a lot nicer than I thought she'd be," Lily said, keeping her voice low.

Andy rested her chin on her hand. "She is nice. She's really nice. Sometimes," Andy added. "Most of the time. Kind of." Miranda was almost always nice to her, but other people? She could be difficult. She was happy Lily had escaped her wrath; Miranda knew their history very well, and therefore knew how hurt Andy had been by Lily's dismissal of their friendship. She would have to thank Miranda later for not making things harder. "You got off easy, Lil. I said a lot of really shitty things about you over the last year."

Lily snorted. "Yeah, don't worry, I said the same stuff about you. Water under the bridge, right?"

Andy shrugged. "I guess. You hurt my feelings though."

"And I thought you hurt Nate pretty badly," Lily said before swigging the tail end of a Dos Equis. "Which you did. But I figured out later that it wasn't your fault. You changed, he didn't. You grew apart. I just… didn't know how to be friends with both of you."

"Can you now?" Andy asked.

"Yeah," Lily replied. "He's off doing his own thing in Boston anyway. We don't talk as much."

"That happens," Doug assured her. "It's hard to stay in touch."

"He left me a message after we got outed," Andy said. "He sounded pissed."

Lily laughed. "He was. Oh yeah, and also outrageously jealous. He hated Miranda before, but now he absolutely detests her."

Andy found that strangely satisfying. "Good."

"Enough about Nate," Doug said. "Tell me about this party on Friday."

Andy sat up straighter, a nervous flutter traveling through her belly. "It's at the Metropolitan Museum, and it's the social event of the season. Oh yeah, and it's the first big party I'll attend with Miranda. I mean, together. Last time I went I was an assistant." Her head was light at the memory of it. "Miranda was so beautiful. It was pretty fun, except of course the whole 'missing Nate's birthday' thing. Glad I don't have to worry about that this time." She also ignored thoughts of Christian when they crept into her brain. She shivered unhappily.

"Do you know what you're wearing?" Lily asked eagerly.

"Yep. Vintage Dior."

"What?" Lily exclaimed. "Where is it?"

"Geez, upstairs. But it's under about fourteen layers of plastic because of the construction."

"Oh, come on, we're not going to this thing, the least you can do is show off your dress," Lily insisted.

"I'll make you a deal. If you can get here Friday by 5, you can observe the team of experts who's going to make me go from Plain Jane reporter to glamour queen for the night."

"Team?" Doug questioned.

"Yeah. Miranda hired two make-up artists, a hairstylist and a dresser to help. We're basically going to the Oscars of fashion."

Doug perked up. "Holy shit. I'm there."

"Me too," Lily said. "We have an opening Saturday, but I can duck out for a couple hours."

"Cool. Thanks," Andy said. She was grateful. "I'm really nervous. Really."

"Why?" Lily asked.

Andy didn't quite know how to put it into words. "This is a huge event. And going with Miranda… I mean, we're out and everything. God knows our pictures have been everywhere. But this is kind like a public announcement. I'm not just a little fling on the side, you know?" She swallowed. "She's not embarrassed to be seen with me."

Doug laughed. "I don't think you have to worry about that, honey."

"What do you mean?"

He stared at her in disbelief. "You do realize you're gorgeous, gainfully employed, brilliant and nicer than pretty much anyone I know. You're a major catch. Miranda's going to be the envy of the entire place."

Andy hadn't thought much about that side of the equation. "Gorgeous? Passable," Andy said, pushing her hair behind her ear.

"Oh, please. You're going to be on fire Friday night and don't pretend otherwise. Face it, Andy. Miranda has nothing to be ashamed of, and neither do you."

"Huh." Maybe he was right. "I hadn't thought about it that way."

"That's why you keep me around," Doug said, grinning.

"That, and you're cute."

"Well, naturally," he preened.

Lily threw a lemon slice at him.

Before Miranda had time to take a breath, Friday arrived. She left the office at 5 and went straight home, praying Andrea was already there. Jane and Amanda seemed to have everything under control, and a minor disaster regarding freesias in the entryway floral arrangements had been averted, so there was one less thing to worry about. The girls were spending the night with friends, and the house was all theirs.

Miranda had not been this nervous in a long time. She could not quite pinpoint the whys and wherefores, but thought perhaps it was a combination of excitement and anxiety that was making her stomach tie up in knots. She trusted Andrea to handle herself, so why was she so nervous?

"Roy, I'd like to get there before next Thursday," Miranda said irritably.

"Yes, Ms. Priestly," he said.

She rolled her eyes at herself. She had to calm down.

Once they arrived at the townhouse, she was out of the car immediately. She climbed the stairs quickly and heard voices in the bedroom; Andrea had arrived, fortunately. And so had a few other people. Doug was present, as was Lily, and of all people, Nigel. "Is this a private party?" Miranda asked.

Andrea turned toward her, much to the chagrin of the makeup artist who was working on her. "Hi, honey. How was your day?"

"Busy," Miranda said, dropping her bag on the floor.

"Want some wine?" Nigel asked, already pouring her a glass.

"If you spill red on this new carpet, you're a dead man," she growled.

"Drink," he said, handing it to her. "You'll feel better."

"I feel fine," Miranda said with a glare.

"Bull," he said. "Emily told me you were on a rampage all day."

Miranda fought a frown. "How would Emily know?"

"Miranda, you do know she still works in the same building, right? Word does not have to travel far to reach her."

"I was not on a rampage," Miranda sniffed.

Andy turned around, and the makeup artist huffed in impatience. "Jane called me in tears. I practically had to talk her down off a ledge."

Blinking in surprise, Miranda thought back on the day. "That's not true."

"You sent her back to Starbucks three times because the coffee wasn't hot enough, and apparently you bitched for ten minutes straight about your steak being overdone. She thought she was going to be fired."

"Oh," Miranda said. She'd forgotten that. She'd barely been able to eat lunch, but not because of the steak. "Well."

"We're going to have fun tonight, don't you worry," Andy said, finally turning back around. "Take a nice, hot soak. I got your favorite bath oil. It's next to the tub."

"I don't have time for a bath."

"The party doesn't start without you," Nigel reminded her. "You've got three hours to kill. You can spare twenty minutes."

She knew when to give in. "Fine." Nigel topped off her wine and pushed her in the direction of the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. "I guess I know when I'm not wanted," she muttered to herself.

After setting the wine next to the tub, she glanced around. Andrea's things were scattered across the marble countertop, and her nightgown hung on the back of the door. That brought a tiny smile to her face. It already felt different, now that she had moved in. It felt good. Right. Even hearing the voices coming from the other room was calming, so she left the stereo off.

A few minutes later she slipped into the tub, surrounded by the scent of lavender. She inhaled, and told herself it would all be fine. Andrea was with her. That was what she needed.

Time passed, and soon a knock startled Miranda. "Andrea?"

Andrea stepped through the door quickly and closed it. "Hi."

Miranda watched her come near, makeup expertly applied. "Is it too much?" she asked.

"Goodness," Miranda said. "It's striking. Turn," Miranda said, waving a finger in the air. Andrea presented her profile. "Lovely. Just lovely."

"You're next, when you're ready."

"All right." Miranda stood from the tub, sufficiently relaxed. She pulled her gray robe on and took a deep breath. Sitting in a makeup chair was never her favorite thing, but at least she was home. "It's a shame your lipstick has already been applied," Miranda said.

Andrea smirked. "No kidding." She sidled up to Miranda and slid a hand into her robe, caressing her side. "I can't wait for tonight," she said.

Miranda swallowed. "You're not nervous?"

Shaking her head, Andrea smiled. "Not at all. I'm going to smile pretty for the cameras and not say a word to the reporters. I've got the easy job."

Watching her carefully, Miranda said, "You're free to speak to anyone you like this evening."

Andrea shrugged. "I won't have much to say. It's not like I have any real insight into this year's trends, or Fashion Week or anything."

"They won't be asking about that."

"I know." The relationship would be on the tips of everyone's tongues, and they would undoubtedly hear the same questions over and over. "I'll see how it goes. I doubt Entertainment Tonight's going to get in my face anyway."

Lifting a discerning eyebrow, Miranda said, "You might be surprised. New York is about to fall in love. You'll see."

Andrea rolled her eyes. "Right." She cuddled closer, hovering near Miranda's mouth. Goosebumps rose down Miranda's back as Andrea's nails traced her skin.

"I love you," Miranda said, pressing their foreheads together.

Dimples formed next to Andrea's smile. "Love you. Now scoot before I get in trouble for ruining my makeup."

Miranda kissed her temple and stepped into the bedroom.

Roy navigated through the traffic carefully, and the limo was nearly at the base of the Met staircase. Now, after being so completely calm and collected all week, Andrea felt as though she was about to throw up. She gripped Miranda's hand tightly, embarrassed by her damp palm.

"Uh," she said, blinking rapidly.

"Breathe through your nose," Miranda said.

Andy did. She swallowed once, then again. "Oh geez," she said.

Miranda kindly did not say anything to tease. "Don't be afraid," she said. "The hard part is almost over."

Andy nodded. "'Kay."

"I'm glad you're here, Andrea," Miranda said.

That stopped Andy up short, and reminded her that she was not alone. Miranda had been a wreck for two days leading up to the gala, and her anxiety had receded just as Andy's had taken hold. But they were together. It was a party. Soon she'd have a glass of champagne in her hand and all would be well. "Me too," she said finally. She looked into Miranda's eyes, shimmering pools of light in the darkness. "I can't believe how incredible you look."

Miranda smiled knowingly. "We will certainly present a dashing pair." Andy's black dress was an ideal contrast to Miranda's snowy white. Yin and yang, Andy thought, from the inside out. The car slowed to a stop. "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

The door opened, and Miranda exited. Andy followed close behind, slipping her hand under Miranda's elbow as a million flashbulbs illuminated the night. The noise was deafening, and it reminded Andy of those first days after they'd been outed. It wasn't as frightening, but the energy was electric. People were shouting not just for them, but for the other celebs and fashionistas who surrounded them. But Miranda was the queen of this castle, and she drew every eye in the crowd. Andy trod carefully, adjusting her train as they eased up a few stairs.

"All right?" Miranda murmured, smiling elegantly for the cameras.

"Mm-hmm," Andy breathed, smiling as well.

They made very slow progress, stopping and posing for long stretches of time. At least it seemed like a long time; Andy felt as though she was having an out of body experience. Her hands shook, and after a few minutes, her cheeks were starting to get sore.

"You're doing fine," Miranda said softly. "Not much longer."

"I'm okay."

Finally, Andy hung back when Miranda moved toward a pod of people who waved in her direction. Andy recognized faces from a syndicated entertainment show, and she took a short break from smiling, doing her best to look serene. She didn't feel awkward, since there were other women and men doing exactly what she was; letting their partners bask in the limelight.

Fifteen feet ahead she spotted Nigel and James talking to reporters. They both looked fantastic. As of this afternoon, she owed Nigel about a dozen favors. If he hadn't shown up to help her handle Miranda, she'd have been screwed. He glanced in her direction, grinning when he spotted her. She smiled when he gave her a thumbs up.

Miranda motioned to her then, and Andrea approached nervously. "Steven wants to see the dress, darling," Miranda said.

"Sure," she replied. "Isn't it amazing?"

"Twirl," Cojo said. "Let's get a shot of the back."

Andy suddenly thought about the fact that her ass was going to be shown on national television, and wished she'd cut out ice cream in March.

"Gorgeous," he said. "Can you tell us about the dress, Andy?"

"It's Dior, from 1950," she said.

"Did you have it altered?"

"Nope. This is it."

"Your shoes?"

"Louboutin," she said, lifting the dress slightly to show them off. The red sole was the only splash of color in her entire ensemble.

"And the jewels?" he asked.

Andy touched the necklace, and looked at Miranda. "Cartier."


Miranda glared at him. "No," she said haughtily.

"Of course," he said, wincing. "Beautiful. You two certainly are the belles of the ball here tonight. How are you?"

Silently, Andy watched Miranda navigate the questions smoothly, wrapping things up with the ease of an expert. Andy simply smiled and hoped she was doing Miranda justice.

Andy stayed by Miranda's side after that, at Miranda's request. "We'll get through the gauntlet faster this way," she whispered. It hadn't been so bad, really, and the reporters were too afraid to ask Miranda anything sensitive. These people weren't the paparazzi Andy was used to; they'd been granted official credentials for a spot on the red carpet. Andy wondered if Miranda had approved every name on the list. She wouldn't be surprised.

Near the end, a fashion reporter from WNBC thrust a microphone into Miranda's face and asked straight out, "Ms. Priestly, do you have any comments about your ex-husband's recent statement about your current relationship?"

Andy froze, but cautiously preserved her smile. She had no idea what the woman was talking about. Miranda did not reply; she was shaken, though Andy doubted anyone else could tell. "No, no comment," Andy said quickly.

"Not even about the fact that he pities the children because of the disgusting public display you're making by attending the gala together?"

Miranda's nostrils flared, and Andy gripped her hand tightly. Shit. That was definitely Stephen. Bastard. "He's entitled to his own opinion," Andy said, her smile fading slightly. "I'm sure it's very hard for him to see us so happy. It's understandable, don't you think?" Andy asked the reporter.

The woman nodded, surprised at the redirect.

"We don't pay much attention to what anyone says anyway. We're too busy!" Andy laughed nervously, and felt Miranda turn toward her. "Paris fashion week is right around the corner, and Miranda's been working so hard. Between that, and the gala, and of course the end of the school year for the girls, there's so much going on. But we only wish him the best, and hope everything goes well for him in the future." Andy glanced over at Miranda, who looked vaguely stunned. "Do you mind if we head in? I'm starving!" Andy glanced back at the reporter and prayed she'd let them off the hook.

"Of course, thanks for your time Ms. Sachs, Ms. Priestly."

"Thanks so much," Andy said, pushing against Miranda in an effort to get her to move. She responded, and Andy sighed in relief. They were through, and had survived. Barely. "Almost there," Andy mumbled, climbing the last of the steps inside.

Miranda stalled in the entryway, tugging on Andy's hand. "Had you heard that before? About Stephen?"

Andy shook her head sadly. "No." She hoped Miranda wasn't angry.

"I have never in my life been so grateful that you're with me, darling," Miranda said, and kissed her on the mouth, right there, in front of a dozen party guests.

Andy's eyes slipped shut for the few seconds that the kiss lasted. When Miranda pulled back, she smiled, and wiped at a little smear below her lip. "You're wonderful."

Heart flying, Andy could do nothing but blush and beam.

Once inside, Miranda was in her element. For a while Andrea stayed fastened to her side, smiling graciously at each friend or acquaintance or associate who approached. But soon Nigel sidled up to them and drew Andrea away. Only after Miranda nodded her approval, of course. Andrea was entitled to a little peace after the near-fiasco on the red carpet. If she hadn't stepped in when she did… Miranda shuddered.

Stephen was about to hear from her lawyer. Not that he would pay any attention. Still bitter, she thought. I didn't know he cared.

Miranda sipped at a fresh glass of champagne, which she would nurse until it grew warm and she replaced it with another. She would stay alert tonight, on guard. She never knew when someone would stab her in the back.

"Miranda Priestly," said a soft voice behind her, and Miranda's eyes slid shut in displeasure. She certainly could have avoided this by restricting his admittance, but she decided to give the man the benefit of the doubt. A mistake, in hindsight.

She turned around, assessing the figure of Christian Thompson. Still handsome and fit, he made her skin crawl. "Mr. Thompson. I'm so pleased you could attend."

"I wouldn't miss this," he said, slugging back a generous portion of liquor from a highball glass. Bourbon, judging by the odor wafting toward her.

"How is The New Yorker?"

"Oh great, you know. Same ol'. Work, work, work," he said, not quite slurring. "Not for you though. I hear you've been robbing the cradle."

Miranda mustered up the smile she saved for only the most pathetic of individuals who crossed her path. Poor, wretched excuse for a man. "You would call it that."

He leveled a hard gaze at her. "I fucked her, you know."

She blinked, and held back an aggravated sigh. "So you know what you're missing," she said smoothly.

He sneered, face turning ugly for that moment. His hand gripped the glass tightly. "How did you get to be such a complete and utter bitch?"

"Years of practice, Mr. Thompson. You didn't come to my party to ruin my evening with tales of your past exploits, did you?" She hadn't been pleased to hear about Andrea's one night with Christian, but Miranda had made her share of errors in judgment over the years. There was no forgiveness to grant. That said, Miranda did wish she never had to see the man ever again. "I assure you, Andrea has kept no secrets about your… dalliance. Which she put an end to rather quickly, I believe."

He didn't respond.

"Now," she said, stepping close enough to want to gag from the stench of alcohol. "You may indulge in the open bar as long as you see fit. Drink yourself into a coma for all I care. But I see you within ten feet of Andrea, I will have you removed from this event. And it will not be a private confrontation. So make your choice, and enjoy yourself." She smiled once more, fighting the urge to pat his cheek. "Take care," she added.

When she turned away, Jane stood waiting at a respectful distance. She motioned her over with a tilt of her chin. "Christian Thompson is to be thrown out if you see him anywhere near Andrea. Please tell Amanda as well as security."

"Of course," Jane said, as easily as if Miranda had asked her to get her another drink.

She looked down at her champagne, tempted. When a server passed, she set the glass on the tray and said, "Pellegrino. Chilled, no ice."

"Yes, ma'am," the man said, looking thrilled.

Not a minute later, he returned to present the beverage. "Thank you," she said off-handedly, until her eye noticed a flash of color on his white collar. It was a tiny rainbow flag. She caught the young man's eye, and he nodded.

"Thank you, Ms. Priestly. Let me know if you need anything else."

Somehow, the encounter eased her mind. Miranda sipped her drink, and exhaled when she spotted Andrea. She was waving her arms wildly, expression animated and free as she spoke to Nigel, and, of all people, Emily. Emily, who could barely tolerate the mention of Andrea's name, much less her physical presence.

"Miranda," a woman's unsteady voice said from a few feet away. "How on earth is it that you're unaccompanied this evening? Where is your, mm, sweetheart?" Ellen St. James approached, clinging to the arm of her elderly husband. She'd had a hip replacement only a couple of months ago, but was otherwise aging very gracefully.

"Attending to her friends," Miranda replied. "She'll be along shortly."

"Oh good, we were so looking forward to meeting her."

Miranda looked once more in Andrea's direction, and remarkably, Andrea sensed it. She met Miranda's gaze, lifting one eyebrow in an unspoken question. Miranda nodded subtly, and she watched Andrea excuse herself and maneuver through the crowd.

"Mr. and Mrs. St. James," Andrea said, holding out a hand in greeting. "Such a pleasure to finally meet you. Miranda's told me all about you."

Later, Miranda thought she would have a hearty laugh at the matching expressions of surprise on both their faces. "Goodness, child, really?" Anthony St. James said in his soft British accent.

"Oh yes," Andrea replied, glancing at Miranda. "She tells me you're great supporters of the Children's Aid Society and the Times' Neediest Cases. I hope to become involved with them in the future."

Ellen's eyes lit up. "Well, you must come to the next benefit, my dear. We always need the young people involved." Reaching out to draw Andrea close, the older woman took Andrea's arm and leaned against it. "Sit with us and tell us about your work." The trio began to move away, until Ellen turned back. "Miranda, are you coming?"

"Of course," Miranda replied. Following behind, Miranda wondered at herself. She felt nothing but pride, watching Andrea with two of the more generous stalwarts of New York society. Miranda had probably mentioned the pair a single time over dinner, but then Andrea recalled so much of what Miranda said.

For that reason, she felt very much loved.

After another hour of socializing, Miranda had splintered off on her own, which Andy was fine with. She'd stretched the boundaries of her memory this evening, coming up with names she doubted she'd recall even the next day. She'd studied for the event, of course, not that she'd ever tell Miranda. Jane had made an extra copy of the photo binder, and Andy had poured over it in the bathroom that morning. Thank goodness, since it had come in handy.

A young man with gorgeous hair that flopped adorably across his forehead approached her. "Andrea?" he asked.


"I'm Christophe Benoit," he said, his lilting French accent pleasing to Andy's ear. "I was David's consultant for the article on body dysmorphic disorder for the August issue of Runway. Perhaps you know it?"

"Oh yes!" she declared. She'd read it, and complimented Miranda on including something like it in a magazine that perhaps contributed to the proliferation of eating disorders around the country. "I didn't recognize you from your picture. Your hair got so long!"

He laughed ingenuously. "I grew it," he said, ruffling his curls.

"Very nice. It works for you."


"So you're a psychologist?"

"Yes," he replied. "Licensed for ten years now in New York, and some time before that in Paris."

"Cool." She narrowed her eyes at him, suspecting there was more to his visit than wanting to say hello. "Is there something…"

"Yes," he said, seeming flustered. "Earlier, I saw you with some people… A man, and a young woman wearing," he motioned around his face, "bright purple… makeup on her eyes."

Andy grinned. That could be only one person. "Emily. Sure."

He looked down at the floor. "This may sound very childish, but… is she unmarried? Uh, single, rather?"

Mouth dropping open, Andy had one of those realizations that occasionally came over her--a bolt of brilliance. "Yes," Andy said with certainty. "Yes, she is."

"Would you consider, uh…"

"I'd love to introduce you."


"Yes. Listen, just hang out at the bar over there," Andy pointed. "I'll bring her over, introduce you, and disappear." If she was lucky, she wouldn't need to do one iota of matchmaking. The universe would do the work.

"Are you certain?"

"Yes. Go." Andy nearly shoved him away from her and set out in search of Emily. A few minutes later, she found her, talking with Jocelyn about work, of course. "Em, I need you," Andy said.

Primly, Emily lips firmed. "I don't work for you, you know."

"Christ, you might as well. Come on. Hey, Joss. You look gorgeous!"

Jocelyn was pleasantly surprised at the compliment, and Andy grabbed Emily's elbow and led her away. "Listen, there's a guy who contributed to this article for August, and he's great, but he's kinda quiet, and Miranda wants someone to entertain him," Andy said flatly. "Are you up for it?"

"Miranda asked for me personally?" Emily said, voice sliding up an octave.


"Well, of course. I'd be happy to."

Andy resisted an eye roll and approached the bar where Christophe waited. When he turned to the side, revealing his profile, she felt Emily pause. Andy slowed her stride as well so she could take a better look. "Is that… him?" she asked breathlessly.

God, I'm good. "Yes. He's a psychologist. Super smart, and really sweet. Just spend a few minutes, okay? Miranda will be grateful."

"Right," Emily said, unable to pull her gaze away from the handsome man. "Right, of course."

The two of them caught Christophe's attention, and he straightened his stance. "Hello," he said, sticking his hand out to Emily first.

"Um, yes," Emily said, lifting her own hand as if in a daze. "Right."

"Emily Charleton, this is Christophe Benoit."

They shook hands for longer than proper. "So," Emily began, ready to take on her duty for Miranda. "How are you enjoying the party?"

Christophe's eyes widened appreciatively. "You're British?"

"Of course I am." She tossed her hair.

"Wonderful," he said, French accent emerging a little more strongly.

"And you're French," she said.

"Yes, but I live in New York now." He paused, as though gathering his courage. "If I may say so, you look lovely this evening."

Andy glanced at Emily, and waited for her to say something to ruin the compliment. "Thank you, but I'm an absolute walrus compared to everyone else," she said on command.

Christophe was obviously confused. "Pardon?"

"Oh, you know the fashion world, models everywhere. Slim and abominably gorgeous, the lot of them."

"That is an interesting remark you make," he replied. "I was admiring only your beautiful eyes, and your smile. I did not notice the size of… the rest of you."

Emily blinked very quickly, and Andy gave herself a mental high five. "Oh," Emily said. "Oh. That's… nice." She glanced at Andy wonderingly.

Andy thought she should say something to back his statement up. "You do look stunning, Em. That dress is to die for."

"Right," she repeated yet again. "Well, thank you," Emily said, not quite sure which way to look.

"Uh, gotta go. I think Miranda's hunting for me," Andy said, not even bothering with a better excuse. If it was a match, they could figure it out. "Bye!" She waved and backed away, but neither of them spared her a glance. Good. Emily's evening deserved to turn out better than it started. She'd arrived late because of traffic, and nearly taken Andy's head off when she saw her dress.

"Is that the Dior Miranda got at Sotheby's all those months ago?" she'd nearly shouted. "The one she said she'd donate to MOMA?"

Andy had cringed. "Um, maybe?"

"That dress is worth a mint! I can't believe you're appearing in it in public! What if it gets ruined? That is a piece of history! Fucking hell!"

Andy had felt the weight of her words land squarely on her shoulders, but then remembered what Miranda told her--that Dior wanted his clothes to be worn, not just admired. He dressed real women. "I'm being careful, and this dress was a gift. It's mine, and I'll wear it when and where I like. Besides, I look great. Even Tim Gunn told me I looked nice." Well, like a young Ava Gardner was what he'd really said, but Emily would not appreciate that.

Emily had blustered off in search of a drink, and a little while later Nigel had dragged her in Andy's direction so they could all chat. Emily had mostly preened and ignored her while the two of them chatted. Miranda was right. Emily was jealous of their relationship, despite the fact that she wasn't a lesbian.

If Emily took to Christophe, Andy might have done them all the favor of the century.

After endless smiling and making small talk and not drinking or eating much of anything, Miranda was ready to depart. Andrea clung to her side, chatting amiably with each visitor who approached. Miranda wondered why she'd even been nervous about bringing the girl with her; she had been the star of the evening, and had relieved a good deal of Miranda's burden. So often these events were exhausting simply because maintaining a façade of good cheer was not something Miranda specialized in. But tonight, her mood remained elevated, mostly because of Andrea's presence.

It embarrassed her somewhat, but she did not have to tell a soul that this was the case. It would be her secret.

Even Irv had been impressed; his tune had changed dramatically over the past weeks. Andrea had always charmed Irv, and tonight was no exception. "She's like a breath of fresh air in the room. You know she remembered the name of my daughter's cat?"

Miranda didn't snort, but she would have under different circumstances. "She is very special," Miranda said simply.

"Never thought I'd say it, but this whole thing has been a boon for the magazine. Lesbian chic, my wife tells me. Advertising is up, and so are subscriptions." He shook his head. "Times really have changed."

She tried to hold her tongue but could not. "Does this mean that my position is safe for the moment?"

Irv looked at her, and sipped his whiskey before answering. "You're not going anywhere unless you want to, Miranda."

"The magazine doesn't require the expertise of someone… younger?" she prodded.

"That girl's a good influence on you, I say," answering her question in a roundabout way. "She's probably right on the edge of the next big thing. Especially with that dress."

Miranda chose to ignore his suggestive tone, and did not inform him that her gown was older than they both were. Everything old is new again, she thought. Irv didn't need to be the wiser.

Now, at this late hour, the crowd had thinned, and she felt Andrea losing steam. The spike of adrenaline from the red carpet left them drained, Miranda suspected, and she stroked Andrea's arm.

"How are you?" Andrea whispered in her ear.

"All right. Nearly ready to go."

"Oh good," Andrea replied. "Do you think we could stop and get dinner on the way home? I didn't have time to eat."

"Of course." Miranda was relieved. She did not want her mood to grow foul, which it would be if she didn't eat something.

"Maybe they'll make us a doggie bag from the kitchen! What do you think?"

Miranda looked over her shoulder at Andrea's bright expression. Anything for you, she thought. "Certainly."

"I really wanted some of those little crab cakes," she said. "I'll be right back." Andrea's hand slid down Miranda's back, and she kissed her cheek. "Don't go anywhere."

Miranda glanced around and tried not to appear too smug at her good fortune.

Andy crawled into the backseat of the car and kicked off her shoes first thing. "Thank god. I love these shoes but I was on the verge of death."

Miranda followed far more gracefully, but she did slump against the backseat with a tired sigh.

"Want some food?" Andy asked, ready to set out their selection of delights.

"Yes, please."

"Okay, but first I have to get something." Andy flopped across the car to the other set of seats and knocked on the privacy screen. "Hey in there, open up."

Roy rolled the window down. "Looking for something?"


He handed a little cooler and a backpack to her with a smile. "Once around the park, okay?" she asked.

"You got it." Roy vanished once more behind the dark glass.

"What?" Miranda said, concerned. "I want to go home."

"We are, but we just have to do this one thing." Andy immediately reached around her back and started to unbutton her gown.

"What are you doing?"

"Taking off my dress."

Miranda gaped as Andy wriggled out of the heavy material. She carefully folded the gown and set it on the opposite seat so it would be out of range of anything food or drink related. She ignored Miranda, concentrating instead on the bottle of champagne she'd stored in an icy cooler during the party. Finally, she produced two glasses from a side compartment of the limo. Unlike their usual car, this one had good storage.

"My god, I wish I had a camera," Miranda breathed.

Andy laughed. "I don't."

"I'm going to preserve this moment in my brain forever. If I ever forget because I'm old, please demonstrate it again to remind me."

Licking her lips, Andy asked, "What, you like this more than the dress?"

"That is… entirely possible."

I planned well then, Andy thought. The corset was not laced so tightly that she couldn't breathe, but it was restrictive. And the garters were purely for show. Nigel had certainly cooed over them earlier. "If anything dirty happens because of your outfit, please don't tell me about it, okay?" he'd said. "I know enough about your sex life."

Andy thought back to what details she'd given up. "I don't tell you that much, do I?"

Nigel gulped. "Well, sometimes anything is too much when it's Miranda. Just ignore me."

She had. But he was totally right about the garters, which Miranda had not taken her eyes off of as Andy opened the champagne. The car swayed but she got two glasses poured and handed one to Miranda. "You could, uh, take your dress off too. I brought a change of clothes." She very deliberately slid her shoes back on.

Miranda narrowed her eyes. "Oh, really."


"I'd hate to disappoint you, then." Miranda started with the silk wrap. She turned her back. "Will you unzip me?"

Andy set down her glass and tried to keep her hands from shaking. "Sure." A white strapless bustier was revealed, gossamer thin, and lace panties and stockings matched the set when the dress was all the way off. Miranda tossed the garment at Andy, whose arms weren't working very well when she folded it atop her own. She'd seen the lingerie on the hanger, of course, in the closet next to Miranda's dress, but that wasn't quite the same.

"See something you like?" Miranda asked, voice silken and smooth.

"Yes." Her breath had quickened audibly.

"Come here then."

Andy scrambled across the short space and deliberated where she should sit. Finally, she gave in, and slithered onto Miranda's lap. Apparently, that was a good choice, since Miranda's hands fastened to her rear the moment she sat. "You promised me something to eat," Miranda said slowly.

Andy dove in for a kiss, long and slow and wet, while Miranda's fingers trailed along the backs of her thighs. When she pulled away, Miranda leaned forward against her chest, nosing along the edge of the corset. Her hips were already rocking when Miranda's hand slipped under her panties. Nerves were alight at the point of contact, and Miranda rubbed gently before tipping Andy sideways onto the seat. Her head settled between Andy's thighs, silver hair pale and soft against her skin. Andy ran her fingers through it and arched, transfixed by the lights of the city all around them. It was thrilling, and far different from the occasional quickie in the car during daylight hours. This felt almost illicit; she could see the outside world, with all its neon energy and bustling crowds, but no one could see in. The image of her own leg, still clad in dark stocking and heel, sliding along Miranda's white lingerie was one of the sexiest things she'd ever seen. "Oh, Miranda," she sighed, loving everything about that moment.

Miranda groaned, and the subtle vibration made Andy's breath catch in her throat. Her hips began to move, as she mumbled "yes," and "there," and "please" with each new touch. It was so sweet Andy didn't want it to end, but she could not wait long. When she came, her body seemed to gather itself up and erupt in joy, though she tried to keep her cries quiet. She opened her eyes to see Miranda's expression of satisfaction directed at her. "Mm," she said, unable to prevent a lazy grin.

"Very," Miranda replied, wiping her chin with one hand. She crawled up and lay across Andy, though the space was tight inside the car. "You are beautiful," she said.

"Like you," Andy replied, nuzzling her mouth. She maneuvered her fingertips beneath Miranda's waistband. "Don't have much room, but I want to try something. Sit up…" Miranda complied, and Andy encouraged her to remove her underwear and kneel above her head. She could tell Miranda approved by the way she panted through her nose, and Andy kept her eyes open when she first flicked out her tongue. Miranda lurched forward, pressing two hands to the side of the car. Andy wrapped two arms around smooth thighs and moved with her, exploring with purpose as Miranda's body shivered in her embrace. It was awkward, but Andy was nothing if not persistent. So was her lover, who did not seem to mind that the motion of the car occasionally threw their rhythm off, or that her knee nearly slipped from the seat now and then. Andy kissed her deeply and with dedication, inhaling the musky scent she adored, and set out to achieve her goal. It happened not long after that, with Miranda grabbing at her hair, holding her close as she choked out her pleasure at a rather lengthy orgasm. Miranda shook as if in a fever, yet was still careful not to rest her weight on Andy.

"God," Miranda finally moaned when she came back to herself. "I think that was worth almost throttling you a few times."

Andy nipped one thigh and shimmied up to lean against the side of the car. "I'd have survived." She licked her lips. "The party was fun, but this put tonight into the stratosphere."

Miranda watched her, stroking her cheek before drawing her in for a kiss. Andy sensed there was something she wanted to say, but Miranda stayed quiet. Instead she reached across the seat for their champagne, glasses sweating but still cold. She handed one to Andy, and they clinked the crystal together in a toast. "To us," Miranda said.

"To us," Andy repeated, and they drank.

Part 2

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