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the one that loves you lately

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CHAPTER 1

Emily has always been Andrea’s best friend since she can remember. They grew up together in the same neighborhood. When she was about 8 years old, a family from London moved in next door. Their parents instantly became good friends so it was only fitting that their children become good friends as well.

By the age of 14, Andy blossomed into an inquisitive teen with bright wide eyes; always seeking for answers and a bag of questions wherever she goes. She thought boys were icky and pretty clueless and she gawked at pretty girls. Her father gave her a film camera on her last birthday and she took snap shots of everything she deemed interesting, and wonderful. At the same time, when she’s not getting into trouble with her brothers climbing trees, she kept journals and loved to write poems and stories. Her other most-prized possession was the typewriter. It was a vintage gift from her grandfather before he died. Her Gramps was a writer in their local newspaper until he retired. Her grandmother often tells her how much she reminded her of him.

In their junior year in high school, Andy got involved with the school newspaper. She submitted photos and wrote articles and by senior year, she was made editor-in-chief. Emily on the other hand became the head cheerleader and got involved in theater and has a knack for sketches and the arts. They were an unlikely duo.

Andy always felt different. She was certain she wasn’t like any other girl in school. She talked to her Mom about it. How she get crushes on girls and not on boys. Her mother was surprisingly very understanding. More so her father who said that he already knew even before Andy voiced it out. Besides, having a gay family member is nothing new to the Sachs clan. In fact, her Dad’s sister is an out lesbian and her mother’s cousin Allan’s gay. The family had been nothing but supportive to the youngest Sachs.

By the age of 17, Andy knew that she was in love with her best friend. Of course Emily remained none the wiser and Andy chose to bear her feelings in silence for the fear of jeopardizing their friendship. The only people who knew about her feelings were her Mom and good friends Doug and Lily. It was her secret to keep and they promised not to meddle.

Emily grew up to be the British beauty that claimed Andy’s heart. Despite having lived in America for a number of years Emily still carried the British accent and demeanor. Andy thought it was adorable. At a tender age, Emily already showed great interest in fashion and the arts. She loved to dress up; always picking the right ensemble, not a lock of hair misplaced, and has learned to carry herself regally like a queen. She became popular in high school and boys and girls flocked to her side. Despite the status, she remained very close with Andy. Doug and Lily added to the equation later on. The four had been inseparable since high school. All of them went to the same university but pursued different majors and interests. However, the bond remained strong.

 

CHAPTER 2

“Andy, are you sure that moving to LA is the best thing right now?”

“Yes Dougie there’s a junior position waiting for me in LA Times. And it’s not like it was a rash decision on my part.”

“Are you sure it’s because of the job? Running away doesn’t solve anything you know.”

“I… I just need to be far away from here. You of all people should understand. I need this, for a career and for my sanity.”

Doug reaches out and covers Andy’s clasped hands on the table with his own and offered her a sad smile. “Andy it’s been years. For the life of me I don’t know how you’ve kept on carrying that torch for her this long.” Andy smiled sadly and signaled Doug to not venture into that topic.

“Do the girls know already?”

“Not yet. Tonight at dinner I will tell them. Until then, keep it to yourself. I’m mailing the signed documents later on.”

“Okay then… well I got to go. Lily wanted to check out this gallery and asked me to come. You sure you’re going to be okay?”

“Thanks sweetie I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tonight.”

 

Andy remained seated at the coffee shop after Doug left. She was thinking about how to break the news later tonight. She needed to tell Lily and Emily. Especially Emily. She hoped that her moving to the west coast will help her to finally move on. She needed to get away from New York, from Emily, because it’s a never ending agony to be able to be a part of her life but not the way her heart wants. Emily will never see her more than just her best friend, especially now that Emily started seeing Christian. She claimed that she’s definitely smitten and in love. Christian just asked her to move in with him and she said yes.

Emily now works for Runway as a second assistant to the editor-in-chief, Miranda Priestly. She did her internship in the art department in the magazine which backed up her application. Doug is a certified accountant in one of the prestigious accounting firms in New York. Lily works as an assistant in one of the most sought out art gallery and venue in the metro. Andy works as a junior editor in the Mirror. They have all started working their way up in their chosen fields.

 

Later that evening, Emily spotted her friends and hurried to the table where Doug, Lily, and Andy we’re waiting for their drinks to show up.

“I’m sorry for being late guys but Miranda just called me on my way out and I had to return to the office to adjust some last minute schedule change. Such a bloody mess! I had to rush and deliver the book before I went here or she’ll have my head if the book wasn’t on her study before 8.”

“Calm down Charlton. Take a breather and try to relax. You’re in a safe environment now. Ever since you started working for that Priestly woman, you can no longer show up on our dinner dates on time.” Andy teasingly poked Emily and handed her the menu.

“It’s okay Andy, next round’s always on Emily so that makes up for the most part.” The group laughed at Doug’s remark.

Andy smiled and stared at Emily a little longer than necessary. Even sounding harassed, she still managed to look poised and elegant after a day’s work what with running around in the city for Miranda’s tedious errands. Doug and Lily didn’t fail to notice Andy staring but remained quiet. Both can’t believe how dense and blind Emily can be all these years. Andy’s eyes were always shooting love daggers where the British woman is concerned.

“So what is it exactly are we celebrating tonight?” Emily asked Lily as she perused the menu.
“Why don’t we have dinner first? I’m sure everybody’s starving. I know I am.”

Emily pats Andy’s hand on the table. “Poor baby. God forbid if we don’t feed that army of yours anytime soon.”

Andy scoffed at the teasing and waived a waiter to take their order.

After dinner, Andy mustered enough courage to announce her pending departure. “So guys, there’s something I need to tell you. Some announcement that can no longer wait until after dessert.”

The three laughed at her little intro and waited for her to speak again.

“I’m moving to LA.”

“WHAT?!?” Emily and Lily both shouted at the same time.

“What are you talking about Andrea? Is this a joke?” Emily turned to Andy with her no nonsense glare and waited for an explanation.

“I got a job in the LA Times. They want me to start next week so I’m leaving this weekend. It’s not a joke Em. I’m dead serious.”
Lily interrupted, “Why so sudden? Why haven’t you told us about this before?”

Emily remained silent and just stared disbelievingly at Andy.

“I applied a few months ago when I went to LA for that trip and forgot about it until they contacted me a couple of weeks ago. I never mentioned it until I was sure because, well yeah, it still wasn’t a done deal. Doug knew about it but I made him promise not to tell you both until I was sure.”

Doug held his hands up to surrender to the accusing looks from the two women. “Ladies it wasn’t my place to say. Please don’t hate.”

After more explaining, the group settled under a heavy atmosphere. Lily was understanding but wasn’t quite thrilled about Andy’s relocation. She knew more of the other reason than she let on but she respected Andy’s vow of silence. Doug, of course, already relayed his support on Andy decision. Emily remained somber for the rest of the night until they bid goodbye.

 

CHAPTER 3

“What the fuck!?! Who could be banging on my door at this hour?”

Andy tried to adjust her eyes to the darkness and blinked back at the clock that indicated it’s just quarter to 4 in the morning. The gang separated after midnight and she only managed to fall asleep around 2 what with all the thoughts and stress that plagued her mind. She trudged to the door and checked on the peephole before opening and was shocked to see Emily. Andy opened the door to a distressed Emily.

“Well hello there... Not that I’m not glad to see you but really Em must you visit this early? It should be a crime to show up at people's doorsteps before 10 on weekends but that’s just me."

Emily strode in and Andy closed the door before following her to the living area. “Oh zip it! I wasn't able to sleep if you must know. I'm sorry for disturbing your but your little piece of news bothered me.”

“Does Christian know you’re here? The guy might panic when he realizes you’ve vanished.”

Emily claimed to be besotted with Christian. He’s a publicist whom she met through a common friend in Runway. True to her word, Andy remained the ideal friend she could possibly be to Emily without making a fool of herself. Not that she didn’t subtly try but Emily was just oblivious to a fault. Andy often wondered how she survived college in a constant state of broken heart and still managed to excel in journalism and buried herself in extra-curricular activities. She was a great pretender.

“Christian can take care of himself. I’m not here to talk about him. Andrea, why the sudden move? Are you having problems in the Mirror? The last time we talked you we’re still raving about how cool it is to work there. Cool – your word. Did something happen?”
“It’s a career advancement Em. It’s a job I can’t refuse. Even my editor thinks so and he was supportive. Besides, living in the west coast might just do me good. I’d be forced to finally shoot for that size 4 because I’ll constantly be hanging out on the beach with all those superficial Hollywood people. Well, not saying that we don't have those here in New York.” Andy tried to make light of the conversation she was trying to avoid.

“I just can’t believe you’re going. You should've warned me. We will miss you. I will miss you. You’re taking my best friend away.”

“Don’t be melodramatic Charlton, melodrama does not suit your lovely skin tone.” Andy teased Emily and said, “Besides, it’s not like I’m moving across the globe. You guys can always visit. And you can call me anytime. And nothing will change much. I bet you’ll still bug me with phone calls all the time.”

Emily smirked and scooted closer to Andy on the couch. She pulled and hugged Andy’s right arm close to her body and laid her head on her shoulder. “

Andy kissed the top of Emily’s head and enjoyed the moment.

“Let’s get more sleep. Come on. ” Andy stood up and dragged Emily to the bedroom. Emily took her cell phone from her purse and sent a text message to Christian that she’s at Andy’s in case he came looking for her. Andy tossed Emily a tank top to sleep in before she crawled under the sheets. Emily joined her shortly and laid her head on Andy's shoulder. Emily had always been a snuggler as far as Andy is aware. Ever since they were kids, the two held sleepovers constantly. Even when Andy told Emily she was a lesbian, it didn’t matter one bit. Andy was afraid that Emily will shun her away but she didn’t. In fact, they’ve even gotten much closer after that. Emily became her champion and is a strong supporter of the gay community.

The next hour was excruciating and bittersweet for Andy while she held Emily and watched her sleep. She marinated in the moment of proximity which could very well be the last time. Her unrequited love is slowly killing her insides. She hoped moving to LA will prove to be a right decision. Then she silently cried herself to sleep with the woman she loves slumbering peacefully against her.

 

CHAPTER 4

3 years later…

Working for Miranda Priestly is a battlefield. The last 3 years working for La Priestly as her assistant have been the most trying but rewarding experience for Emily both physically and mentally. She survived the war-torn office filled with daily dosages of death glares, condescending tones, acerbic wit, pursing of the lips, dismissals of the hand, and various chilling pronunciations of her birth name and incompetence. After a year of being a second assistant to Miranda, she got promoted to be the first assistant. As much as the 3 years scarred her for life, it had also geared her with all the necessary ammo to survive the fashion world. On the flip side of the coin, Miranda took her under her wings and showed her a side of humanity that Emily alone bore witness. She deemed it as a miracle on her part. The tutelage was the last thing Emily expected but she gobbled on it heartily without question as one should under the reigning Snow Queen. This however was stipulated on a contract that said miracle will remain confidential or there will be consequences. Emily will shave her head first before she even attempt to squeal. Besides, nobody in her right mind will believe her with the exception of Nigel.

Emily was having a field day at the circus. They just got back from Paris 3 days ago and Miranda had been barking orders like a bitch in heat. Two miserable souls have already been fired before 11AM plus 2 cups of spoiled perfectly decent lattes littered the pantry bin. Emily had been throwing her own signature death glares to the new second assistant because of the coffee mishap. She was trying to ignore the constant churning in her stomach. To say that it was a stress-induced day was an understatement. It was code red. Even Nigel had the presence of mind to stay away from the inner sanctum of Miranda’s dominion for the rest of the morning. Emily scrambled to find an antacid in her lower desk drawer and got back into working after Miranda hastily left for lunch.

“A penny for your thoughts Charlton. Want to grab lunch? You look like about ready to pounce on your monitor. ”

“Serena! How many times have I told you to stop calling me that?” Emily picked up her purse and looked at assistant number 2. “You Ms. Ruffly Top don’t go anywhere and man the phones till I get back. And I need not show you how to press one to reach me for a Miranda emergency. Don’t make me pull a Miranda on you now.”

Serena just smiled at the quivering new girl and ushered the Brit to the elevator. “Must you be so mean? The girl was about ready to cry up there.”

“I wasn’t being mean as you eloquently put. I thought I was actually being generous. Call it her pre-training on how to interact with Miranda. She doesn’t know it yet but I’m doing her a great favor.”

Serena just laughed as they took the free seats on the café. Both ordered salads and were trying to enjoy their 45-minute lunch break. All they can afford to indulge themselves for dessert was chatter.

“So Charl….”

“Bloody hell Serena I told you!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah you don’t want me calling you that. I forget okay it’s a habit. Why does that even bother you?

Emily looked away and sipped on her drink. “It reminds me of Andrea.”

“Ah… the mythical best friend whom I have yet to come to meet. I’ve heard of greatness about this woman and I’m curious if she’s any hotter in person as she is on the pictures. You used to be Andrea this and Andrea that. This past year, I haven’t heard you say a thing about her. What happened?”

Emily sighed and decided she might as well get it out of her chest. Serena had been a very good friend these past couple of years where Andrea had been found lacking. Not that Emily can’t be blamed as well.

“We sort of had a fall out these last couple of years. Remember I told you she was moving to LA? That was 3 years ago. Then after that despite the obvious distance, we still talked a lot. Nothing has changed much except that we didn’t get to hang out as often as we used to be when she was here. Lily and Doug have also been complaining that it’s not the same without Andrea. Of course it wasn’t. She was the glue that held us all together. Anyway, a year after she moved, the calls became less and less frequent. We used to talk for hours with all the nonsense and fall asleep with the line still open. Need I say more that the telephone bill went gaga? A few times Christian even accused me of being too dependent on Andrea that I spent more time talking with her on the phone than with him. He was mighty pissed. Can you imagine? That man was a jealous prick and I can’t believe I stayed with him that long amount of time. Now I can’t even remember what I ever saw in him. I guess I deluded myself into thinking that he possibly could be the one but I always had this nagging feeling inside me.”

Serena urged her to continue with the story. “Me either, I don’t even know why you liked him in the first place. He turned out to be an arrogant bastard. Then what happened after that?”

“Well, emails became the preferred choice of communication after. We both got so busy that emails became a scarcity as well. I was promoted to first assistant and the last time I heard she was promoted to junior editor. The phone calls became hard to come by and I didn’t exactly had the time to notice that I haven’t been spending a lot of time like I used to with Doug and Lily, much less Andrea being across the state. A visit was out of the question. Working for Miranda demanded all my time. It was my fault as well, I let my friendships took the backseat. I do miss my best friend Serena. I’ve known her practically all my life and we were like joined in the hips. And when you call me Charlton… I don’t know… it always reminds me of Andrea. She calls me that because it used to piss me off when we were younger but it kind of grew on me. Now it just makes me feel… pathetically sad.”

“Have you ever tried contacting her recently? They call it an outbound call Em.”

“Oh you cheeky girl! Of course I did but I kept getting her voicemail and I didn’t know what to say. It was so unlike me. The last time it said she was out of the country indefinitely for an assignment. Doug did confirm that last bit. I think she went to London or was it somewhere in Asia for news coverage. I think he still talks to Andy once in a while but he’s sort of disappointed with me as well.”

“Well you can always try again Charlton.”

Emily gave Serena the coldest glare she could muster. “You think you’re funny but you’re not. C’mon time to head back before Miranda gets in. It’s going to be another long afternoon."

When Emily got back in the office, Claire, the second assistant, told her someone’s waiting for her at the visitor’s lounge and quickly darted back to her desk to take a phone call before Emily can ask any more questions.

Serena said she needed to go to the art department quickly for a meeting and asked Emily to call her later if she wants to meet up for drinks with Nigel and Jocelyn after work.

Emily signaled that she will do just that and walked briskly to the waiting area as much as her 4-inch stilettos could muster. She was staring at the arrangement of freesia on the receptionist’s desk and was about to bark an order to get rid of it before Miranda catches a sniff, when her sight directed to the person who stood up and walked over to meet her halfway with a blinding smile.

Emily choked before she could sputter out a word.

“Hey Charlton! Are you happy to see me or what?”

 

CHAPTER 5

The last time Emily Charlton was stunned to utter open-mouthed glory was when Miranda started to actually talk to her like she had actual brains that tick and tock like clockwork. She summoned Emily in the inner sanctum and instructed her to work with Nigel part time as an apprentice in the art department and still retain her first assistant status. Of course she needed to immediately find a suitable second assistant so she can lessen her load during this undertaking. Claire is now the hapless earthling well on her way to being a tad bit lucky than most of the girls that the human resources sent Emily’s way.

The second time was mere seconds ago when none other than Andrea Sachs showed up unannounced with that heart-stopping signature grin and Emily found herself enveloped in a bear hug. She teared up but was fast enough to control her emotions in the Runway premises. Still, her heart pounded like crazy.

“Andrea oh my God!!! What are you doing here? I mean fuck Andrea you almost gave me a heart attack.” She slapped Andy on the arm playfully, assaulted with unexpected pleasure and delight.

Andy laughed and kissed Emily on the cheeks. “I’m glad to see you again too. Sorry for just showing up here like this.”

“You're home! I mean this is a very wonderful surprise. Oh my God Andrea! When did you get back?”

“I got in very late last night. I didn't want to intrude so I went to Dougie's and boy was he surprised! I’m staying with him for the meantime and I called Lily earlier. She was ecstatic but had a client call to attend to and now here I am. I decided to stop by for a quick hello because I know how hectic your schedule gets. It’s been a while huh…” Andy still held Emily’s hand as she smiled at the Brit.

“Oh my God! Come here! I missed you! I can’t believe you’re back. Are you visiting?” Emily pulled Andy closer again for another hug, a year of meager communication suddenly forgotten. The warmth of their sudden reunion was like a soothing balm to each other’s wanting soul. For Emily, it felt like being home again.

“I’ll tell you more about it later tonight if you’re free. I need to go soon. Here’s my card and that’s my new number. I lost the old one when I was on assignment. Long story. Anyway, I don’t want to keep you up. Meet you later yeah?”

“Yes. No. Wait.” Emily got all flustered. “I remember I’m supposed to meet Serena later but I don’t think I’ve said yes yet.”

“Chill Charlton. Tell you what, I’ll probably be running late this evening so how about you meet your friends and then I’ll come by and pick-up you up then we’ll go over to Doug’s apartment. What say you?”

“Excellent! I’ll text you the place.”

“Alright then. It’s really nice to see you again Em. I missed you.” Andy smiled sweetly and left.

Emily clacked back to her desk and for the first time, slumped on her chair. Claire eyed her curiously. The Brit looked bewildered but happy. She wondered who the visitor was but knew better than to blurt out such inane questions. As if on cue, Miranda strolled in right after Emily got back in her seat.

Late in the afternoon, when the office was a little bit settled, Emily rang Serena’s personal cell phone.

“Hello?”

“She’s back.”

“Emily? Who’s back?”

“Andrea”

“Wait what? Back from abroad?”

“Yes. I mean no. I don’t know. She’s here; she’s back in New York. Actually she showed up after we got back from lunch. I was shocked to my toes to say the least.”

“Wow! Speaking of the devil. Too bad I didn’t get to meet her.”

“Oh you will. Tonight. I’ll meet you guys at the bar and then after she’ll come by before we go to Doug’s. We didn’t get to talk much because she had an errand and I had to go back before Miranda found me missing and get my ass fired.”

“Don’t exaggerate. She’s not going to fire you. Sorry Em I got to go. I’ll see you tonight at 7.”

 

CHAPTER 6

Jocelyn and Nigel were in a serious discussion with the latest layout when Andy breezed in. Serena was checking out the new arrival in the dim lighted entrance but didn’t immediately recognize that it was Andy. She was blatantly admiring the view when Emily followed her gaze and waved at the new arrival.

Andy’s eyes lit up when she caught sight of Emily. She was wearing dark skinny jeans and a figure flattering white tailored jacket on what seemed to be a black v-neck top underneath. Serena can’t take her gaze away from Andy and was practically drooling. Her long brown wavy hair framed her beautiful face perfectly. She was right. Andy was far more gorgeous in person. Subdued elegance comfortable in her own casual style. The 3 years of absence gave Andy a cloud of easy confidence as she glided her way to where the group was seated. Her striking aura was magnetic and Emily wasn't immune to any of it. Of course she always thought that Andrea was gorgeous. But now, there was something more that she can't figure out and it was a bit unnerving. She noticed a number of men and women checking out her friend as well and she had this unexplainable feeling in her gut.

Andy approached Emily’s side and kissed her cheek before she turned to their companions.

“Hey guys, this is Andrea, a very good friend of mine. Andrea this is Nigel, Jocelyn and this is Serena.”

“It’s finally nice to meet all of you. Emily has told me all about you guys but it’s nice to have faces behind the names.”

Nigel gave Andy a once-over, a habit unmistakably Runway’s as he stood up to extend his hand, “And the pleasure is mine as well to finally meet the infamous best friend.”

“So I finally get to meet the mythical best friend. Emily had told me a lot about you. I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet before you left.” Serena offered her hand to Andy and moved to take the free seat next to Nigel. Andy then took the seat between her and Emily.

‘Mythical? Where did that come from?” Andy laughed and as sure as the heavens are blue, Serena was smitten. Emily looked at the exchange oddly.

Emily rolled her eyes good naturedly towards the blonde. “Don’t mind her Andrea. Serena was just trying to be witty. Anyway, you look good. Did you do something to your hair?”

“Oh gee thanks. Not really, it’s just a little longer and messier than you’re used to perhaps.”

“Hmmm, maybe but it suits you.” Emily reached out absentmindedly and combed her fingers down Andy’s wavy locks from below her nape down to her back. The brunette shivered from the contact.

They stayed for another half hour before they had to go at Doug’s place. Lily just got there herself. Serena was obviously flirting with Andy and much to Emily’s consternation, Andy flirted back. The two hit if off pretty quickly and Emily found herself matter-of-factly - jealous.

 

CHAPTER 7

“Andyyy!” Lily ran and practically tackled Andy to the floor when they got to Doug’s apartment.

“Whoah easy Tiger Lily! Now that’s what I call a real welcome you guys!” Andy teased but hugged Lily back all the same. She missed them. It had been 3 years since she last saw them.

“Can you imagine my reaction last night when she showed up at my doorstep in the wee hours of the morning? I thought I was dreaming and was about to close the door on her face when she pounced on me like a madwoman.” Doug hooted with laughter at the recollection.

Lily and Doug turned to hug Emily and ushered all of them in the patio. Everybody was stoked to be together again.

As Lily was passing glasses of wine, she asked, “So Andy, what brings you back? How long are you going to visit?”

“Actually guys I’m back for good. I just got a job at the New York Times. I know I haven’t talked to any of you much for the last year. I’ve been mobile and really busy. A sorry excuse but I’m sorry all the same. I missed you guys so much and I know we have a lot of catching up to do.”

Emily asked, “Pray tell, where have you been for the last year?”

“Good question. Remember how I loved taking photographs when we were younger and everybody suggested I become a writer when I grow up and write books? Well not quite but I wanted to be a journalist. More so, I realized what I was really passionate about. I meddled into photo journalism! So I underwent some technical and physical training and then transitioned in my position at the LA Times. My editor was the one who saw my potential and encouraged me through it. The last year and a half I’ve been traveling a lot on assignments. It was always sudden so I didn’t have the time to inform you guys of my whereabouts. I’ve been around the globe traveling and working. I’ve lost cell phones one too many times. I also freelanced on the side for some photo gig but that’s another story. I also met someone as you all know. I’ve told you about Myra before but my traveling and staggard working hours were a deal breaker. That didn’t last longer than I wanted it to be. Anyway, I’m here, I’m back in New York. I’ll mostly work for NY Times but I’ll be contributing as well for National Geographic. Isn’t that cool?” Andy grinned.

“Wow Andrea congratulations! We’re so happy for you. No wonder you’ve been missing in action. No matter, we’re glad you’re back and we all miss you.” Lily raised her glass for a toast as they all have reasons to celebrate tonight.

After hours of talking like old times, Emily decided that an apology from her part was overdue as well. “Doug, Lily, Andrea…. I’m sorry too. I know I’ve been behaving like a self-involved jerk lately, okay well this past year… and I know that my professional life does not afford me the luxury of a stellar personal one but I promise I’m going to try my hardest. I’m transitioning as well as a first assistant to the art department. Miranda has finally noticed my potential and is giving me a promotion! Can you believe that? I know I still try to pinch myself sometimes convincing myself it's true.” Emily laughed and raised her glass for another toast.

The four of them reunited again was a beautiful picture. They stayed up all night talking like 3 years have not gone by at all. Andy was finally thrilled to be home and what better way to spend a Friday night than share it with your best people.

 

CHAPTER 8

The next weekend, the gang helped out Andy with apartment hunting. Andy was ecstatic to be back and sounded like her usual jolly self but something was amiss that Emily can’t put her finger on. All she can do is wish for more quality time with Andrea but the brunette had been quite busy the whole week.

On Tuesday afternoon Andy called Emily at the office and asked if they can meet up for a drink after work to catch up. Emily was thrilled and was glad that bringing the book to Miranda’s place no longer fell under her lap. She was looking forward to Andy picking her up at the office around 6. She found herself counting down the hours the rest of the afternoon.

When Andy showed up 10 minutes before 6, Emily was already done with work. She reckoned Serena was right as she gazed at the approaching figure. Her best friend was certainly looking extra sexy these days. She looked more svelte and confident. A magnified transformation was dissected by her Runway-trained eyes. In fact, even Nigel asked if Andrea would be interested to model for Runway and if she had any experience. She told Nigel that Andrea was more of a behind-the-lens kind of girl. In fact, she’s a photographer. Nigel was even more impressed when they googled her works.

When they got to the bar, they saw Serena with a couple of friends already seated. Much to her dismay, the blonde spotted them and waved them over to come. Andy just shrugged and tugged Emily’s arm to join the group.

“Hi Serena. Fancy meeting you again here tonight.”

“Hi Andy, indeed… a very pleasant surprise if I might say. Hey Em. Would you both like to join us?”

Before Emily could mutter an objection, Andy gladly accepted the offer and joined them. Andy didn’t want to be rude so she accepted the offer. Emily sulked with disappointment. She was looking forward to spending alone time with Andy tonight. To be fair, Andy and Serena tried to involve Emily in their conversations but the Brit wasn’t her usual witty self. If the two women noticed, they didn’t point it out.

It was nearing midnight when the group decided to call it quits. The music was already blaring by then and before they exited the door, Andy lingered a bit and leaned in closer to whisper something to Serena’s ear thereby unconsciously placing a hand on Serena’s lower back. Serena giggled at the whisper and gazed at Andy before kissing her on the cheeks a little longer than Emily deemed necessary. She wanted to choke Serena to death and was confused with her feelings. She never felt that way before where Andrea is concerned. And it was wrong to harbor any ill feelings towards the blonde. Serena is her friend. She’s being silly and over protective of Andrea. But still, she felt that pang in her chest.

“You taking the subway?”

“How about I walk you home. I’ll take the subway nearer your apartment.”

“I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend a lot of alone time there Em. I promise I’ll make it up to you next time.”

“Yes well, who ever expected Serena to be there anyway? I certainly didn’t. So… do you like Serena?” Emily wasn’t able to stop herself from asking.

“Of course I like Serena. What’s not to like? She’s a good friend of yours and you’ve told me so many times how cool and great she is. I’m glad I get to finally meet her.”

“You-like-her want-to-date her?”

Andy sniggered at Emily’s follow-up. ‘Wow Em, talking about being blunt. Not that it’s any of your business but I know how you love to meddle into mine and honestly I kind of miss the way you do.” Before continuing she placed her arm over Emily’s shoulder as they walked. “Serena is gorgeous huh? You were right. She’s a dead ringer of that Gisele model.”

“Of course I’m right? But you haven’t answered my question.”

Andy laughed, “Nothing escapes you my dear Charlton.”

“Well? I’m just curious.”

“I don’t know. Maybe. We’ll see.”

“She doesn’t look like the usual girls you’ve dated before.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well… if my memory serves me well you’ve dated mostly brunettes and blue-eyed which didn’t really last long enough for us to know better. Oh and that one redhead, and remember that gorgeous Japanese-Brazilian girl that even Lily had a crush on back in freshman year? Boy was that funny! So you see, no blondes.”

“Oh yeah… I remember. Lily was a hoot. And I was younger then. My ideals changed and I’m more open to new possibilities now. Therefore, I no longer limit my interest in women according to the color of their hair or any quantifiers for that matter.” Andy paused and looked at Emily briefly.

“What is it?”

“You... How have you been? How’s Christian? Are you guys still together?”

“Oh please. Christian is so old news. I broke up with him last year right about the time you went M.I.A.”

“You guys broke up!? Why? I thought you said he was just perfect.”

“Perfect my tush!!! Like you I was but a young fool too. I saw him under a smattering of dressing room lights when we got together. You know how yellow lights make people more appealing? Well that was probably the case. Almost 2 years in the relationship I finally bumped my head as Miranda often suggested and saw him for what he really was. Fluorescent lights can be really unforgiving. A fucking immature daft prick who had mother issues. Did I mention he was jealous of you? He said before he walked out the door and my life that the real relationship I was in was the person I spent talking on the phone every night right before I go to sleep. He was the silliest man I swear.”

Andy silently smiled and pulled Emily closer with her arm around her. “Yah… silly man indeed. And only you can come up with those crazy light fixture metaphors Charlton.”

“Well I’m clever like that.” Emily grinned.

“You know what…?” Andy suddenly stopped walking and held Emily’s chin up to stare at her closely which sent tingles down the British woman’s spine. ”You could be a dead ringer for Katy Perry Em! Wow!”

“Oh God not you too! I’m inclined to disagree. I think she and that Zooey Deschanel girl have more in common.”

“Nu uh… you’re that Katy I-kissed-a-girl-and-i-like-it Perry chick!”

Emily poked Andy on her side and started to sing the line.

“You haven’t kissed a girl yet Charlton. And for the record, your tush has always been perfect.”

They playfully slapped each other on their way to Emily’s place like old times.

 

CHAPTER 9

Andy had been back for almost a month now but she had been busy with work and finding an apartment. Her inability to find a suitable rental was mainly due to her hectic schedule. What little time left was mostly spent with her friends. Doug generously offered Andy a permanent living arrangement seeing that she’s not even home most of the time. Andy was touched by the offer but made Doug promise to tell her to get lost if in any way in the future she’ll cramp Dougie’s sex life. Doug just threw a pillow at her in response.

Meanwhile, Serena and Andy had gotten much closer and went out a couple of times already. Due to Andy’s schedule and Serena having to leave for Brazil for a photo shoot for a week, both women have yet to set the next one.

Juggling old and new responsibilities, Emily was always tense. And she was pissed to eternal damnation. It started out during an ordinary lunch break with Serena in their usual café. The blonde was deliriously happy after spending some time with Andy the night before and she was telling Emily by a hundred miles per minute.

“Stop right there! You mean to say that you and Andrea – last night – together?

“Yes that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. We ran into each other at this bistro place where a college friend of mine was supposed to meet me but some emergency came up and she had to cancel at the last minute. I was about to leave when Andy almost bumped into me on my way out. Imagine to my surprise! She said she was just in business meeting. Anyway, I asked her if she’d like to talk more over coffee and oh my God Emily! Andrea is such a sweetheart! She was so easy to talk to and a very good listener as well. I’ve never met someone like her before. I think I’m fa….”

“I got to go.” Emily suddenly left Serena at the table.

“What the… Em! Emily! Where you going?” Serena was left baffled and stared at the untouched food before her.

After Emily left, she brisk-walked her way back to the office and straight to the restroom, hunger already forgotten.

‘Fuck’s sake Emily Charlton what is happening to you?!? Get a grip!’ She found herself talking animatedly at her seething reflection in the mirror. She was grateful that the restroom was unoccupied the moment she stormed in. She closed her eyes and tried to shake off the gnawing feeling and tried to look as cool as possible. After a few seconds, she braced herself against the sink looking dejected. She was jealous. ‘Andrea is my best friend. I’m not gay. Am I attracted to Andrea bloody Sachs? I can’t be! I’m not…’

Her cell phone beeped and she distractedly read it. “Oh for crying out loud I don’t have the time for this! Shit! Miranda’s back.” Emily banged the door on her way out.

 

CHAPTER 10

Lily’s gallery was having an arts exhibit. It was the first event she solely handled since she became the manager. Needless to say, the rest of her posse was advised in a no-nonsense way that they all need to attend the opening night. Luck was on their side as everyone was free of commitment for that affair. Emily attended with Nigel, Doug with a new friend, and Andy with Serena in her arms. Andy and Serena made a striking couple. They’ve garnered enough attention to rival that of the works of art in the premises. Men and women have been throwing lascivious and envious stares at the two ladies all night. Nigel found Emily fuming with distress, her eyes spewing hot lava of animosity. He almost felt sorry for the champagne glass that Emily was gripping and he feared that it might actually break. He followed her death glare that would rival Miranda’s at that precise moment and saw Serena leaning in on Andy. From their vantage point, the two almost looked like they were kissing.

“No true love there can be without its dread penalty - jealousy.”

Emily whipped her head upon recognizing Nigel’s voice. “Pardon?”

“My dear Emily… it doesn’t take a genius to notice how gravely you are affected by that particular painting in question. And you and I both know I’m not talking about any of Lily’s art works her. ”

Emily finished off her champagne in one graceful move as one can be allowed in this particular moment. She avoided Nigel’s questioning gaze and looked down unwilling to show her emotion-filled eyes in front of the art director who had become her mentor and friend over the years.

“Why am I feeling the way I’m feeling Nigel? I should be happy right? She’s back, the gang is complete again, and she looks happier now than when she left. Serena is ecstatic about them and it irks me beyond measure. She’s been getting on my nerves lately. A lot! All she talks about is how great Andrea is and how wonderful she is and how Andrea did this and that…. And how… “ Emily’s eyes widened and darted back to stare at Nigel’s.

“And what Emily?

“Fucking Dante’s Inferno! Oh my God Nigel, Serena sounds like how I used to be when I spent hours talking to her about Andrea.”

“You’re speaking in tongues my dear. Care to elaborate on that?

“I used to spend hours raving and ranting about Andrea to Serena especially when we had a fall out. Serena suggested that I sounded like a lovesick fool than a girl whose dog has died or something along the lines of lollipop being taken away. But that’s beside the point. She said I sounded like a woman who had lost her lover. I vehemently protested of course; such a ridiculous notion. Now… Serena talks about Andrea nonstop. She said she’s falling for Andy and her behavior is only natural for someone so enamored with another. She said that’s how people can tell when you love someone or begin to… She said…” Emily gasped and covered her now quivering mouth.

“Indeed... Realization is a bitch isn’t it? But acceptance… well that just hits the fan! I’m glad you’ve finally completed the puzzle because frankly my dear, I do give a damn. You were such a pain in the ass to work with these past weeks.” Nigel patted Emily’s shoulder and waved at Doug to come over to take care of the distressed Emily. He was not known for a literal crying shoulder to cry on.

“Em? Emily? Why are you crying? What’s wrong?” Doug reached Emily’s side and was hovering about.

“Doug! Get me out of here. I’m a bloody fucking fool that’s what’s wrong!”

Doug ushered her to Lily’s vacant office and closed the door carefully before asking Emily. “Now will you tell me what’s wrong?”

Emily wrapped her arms around Doug and muffled a few sentences.

“Sweetie, I can’t understand you. Run it to me one more time.”

Emily stepped back and held Doug steady by the shoulders.

In a soft tone she uttered. “I’m… in love… with Andrea… I love her Doug I do! I know it sounds crazy but it just clicked now. It explains everything.”

“Well I’ll be dipped in shit and rolled in bread crumbs!” Doug was taken aback by the admission and dropped to the couch heavily.

 

CHAPTER 11

After some moments of deafening silence, Doug pulled Emily to sit with him on the couch. “Let me ask you again just so I think I heard you right. Did you say you were in love with Andy? Our Andrea?”

Emily nodded.

“Well I’ll be damned! How did you…? I mean how can you be sure?”

“Because for the first time, it finally feels right… inside. To say it out loud. I guess deep inside I’ve been fighting to admit it because I was afraid.”

Doug gaped at her and before he could interrupt she continued.

“I’ll only tell you this but I realize now why I broke up with Christian. I was in a twisted way, subconsciously channeling my feelings for Andrea onto him. I deluded myself thinking I was in love with the guy. After Andrea left for LA, that’s when my relationship with Christian went downhill as well. The less we get to talk, the more I treated Christian coldly as if I was punishing him for Andrea’s absence. When communication with her totally stopped, I saw Christian in a different light where all his flaws were magnified. I can’t even remember what I loved about him after that. He turned out to be an asshole and I realized I too treated him badly. But that’s beside the point. Let it be bygones… I pretty much did a superb job in convincing myself he’s all I ever wanted because I knew I wasn’t gay. For some reason Andrea was all I ever wanted for a friend and a lover but it wasn’t right because she was my best friend, my soul mate, and the one who knew me more than I know myself sometimes. I know now that my being not gay is not the issue. It has never been. I’m in love with Andrea for the person that she just simply is and I don’t care if she’s a woman. I’m about ready to kill myself because it took me years to finally admit this. All the loving that I’ve wasted… and for what really? A reputation? A career that’s not keeping me warm at night and doesn’t bear that beautiful smile I long to be the reason for? I really love her Doug… I have been all along. I was just a self-absorbed coward.”

“Damn… that was probably the craziest thing I have ever heard in a long time but the most profound thing I have ever heard from you. You had me at the I’m in love with Andrea part Em...” Doug held Emily’s chin up and brushed the tears on her face. “And let me just get this out of my chest… both of you are fucking idiots!”

“Us?”

“You Emily Charlton are by far the most oblivious creature I’ve ever encountered and Andy is the most selfless person I know that I’m inclined to call it a defect. This isn’t my place to tell you but I can no longer stand idle and watch misery run both your lives. This has gone on long enough. Listen and listen hard Em because I will only say this once because I love you both and all I ever want is for you guys to be genuinely happy. Tell me… have you not noticed how attentive Andy was to you even then in high school? Did you really ever stop and consider who sent you those unsigned love letters? She tried to tell you that one time. She prepared for it. What did you do? You went ahead first and told her that you hooked up with Nate. You had your first kiss that night. She had her first real heartbreak.”

Emily burst into tears again and Doug held her in his arms.

“That girl wore her heart on her sleeve like it was the best accessory ever to have graced those fashion magazines you’ve worshipped. Did you know she often called her Mom at home to cry about you back in college? Yes, Mrs. Sachs was well too aware of how heartbroken her child was. Do you realize why she left New York? It wasn’t just about the job Em. The main reason was you. She just couldn’t take it anymore and decided that the only way to move on was to go away and maybe if she didn’t see you every day with that asshole Christian, she’ll finally be able to let you go and can finally have her own piece of happiness. She loved you to pieces and you were incredibly dense and couldn’t even see the efforts that mattered from the person who truly cared about you. I couldn’t blame you though... Falling for your best friend has always been suicide for most people. There are however some who get to be lucky to be with their soul mate in every sense of the word. I can only wish to be counted on that statistic.

Emily was astounded to say the least after hearing Doug’s revelation. All the times spent with Andrea since they were silly teenagers flashed back in one sudden heart wrenching blow to the gut that she almost passed out.

“Fuck… what did I do? It's probably too late Dougie. Do you think she still feels the same way about me? I mean, she seems different now and she seems happy with Serena.”

“I don’t claim to know Andy’s mind now but I still see how she looks at you when you’re not looking. We never talked about you anymore since she came back and I know better than to broach the touchy subject again. But in all the years I’ve known the girl, she was always great in pretending she was cool and unaffected when you’re around. And come to think of it… I’ve also noticed how you look at her when you think she’s not looking too! It just never occurred to me you’ll feel the way you feel now. After all these years, it was a far-fetched wishful thinking. I thought you were just being your usual odd self and you guys are adjusting again. I mean sure she’s all different now, well-traveled, and self-assured but our Andy is still lurking under those gorgeous eyes. Trust me… a love like that that burned so bright it almost burned her alive doesn’t just die in one snap of the fingers. She was always looking at you Em… You we’re always just looking the other way. Indeed you’re right, all the loving that’s been wasted… Go and get her kid! What the hell are you waiting for?”

Emily blinded Doug the brightest smile and for the first time in history, ran in her 4-inch Louboutins, unmindful of her appearance to the main gallery to find Andrea.

“Hey Lil, have you seen Andrea?”

“Oh there you are! She and Serena just left. We weren’t able to find you and Doug so she just told me to tell you guys."

 

CHAPTER 12

“Shit I can’t reach her cell phone!”

“Calm down Em. Battery drained probably.” Doug tried to console Emily.

“This is driving me insane! I need to speak with her.”

“You will. Come on I’ll take you home. Lily will be staying late so I told her we’ll go ahead and talk to her tomorrow.

Emily was exhausted because of all the emotional rollercoaster she had just gone through and allowed Doug to take her home. She felt helpless and angry and sorry for herself.

 

Meanwhile, Andy was sipping wine together with Serena at the blonde’s place. After they left the party, Serena asked her to come over.

“You have a lovely home Serena. Very… artsy it suits you.”

“Thank you. I love to dabble into interior decorating when it comes to my humble abode. Are you still staying with Doug?”

“Ah yes, unfortunately. I still haven’t found the perfect place I could consider my own. He offered me to stay indefinitely though.”

“That’s generous of him.”

“Indeed. We go way back so it’s cool. I don’t want to stretch my welcome though. I know he loves his privacy too.”

“Why don’t you stay with Emily? I actually thought you were. I just naturally assumed since you guys are best friends and all.”

“Uhmm well I came to Doug’s first and I only found out that she was no longer with Christian after a considerable amount of time since I got back. I didn’t want to intrude and it didn’t make sense to move all my stuffs again at Emily’s when I’ll move to my new apartment soon.”

“You mean as soon as you manage to find one?” Serena teased and poured more wine on Andy’s glass.

“Right you are...” Andy laughed and gazed at Serena. “Are you trying to make me drunk?”

Serena laughed and inched closer to Andy and ran her thumb across Andy’s lips suggestively. “Why? Do I need to?” She then took Andy’s glass and placed it down on the table. She slowly closed the gap between her and Andy and stared at the brunette’s lips as if to coyly seek permission.

Andy whispered her name, “Serena…”

Serena pressed her lips on Andy’s nipping her lower lip. Before she could go any further, the brunette moved back and took Serena’s hand on her own.

“Serena I’m sorry... but I cant... I can’t do this.”

“Did I do something wrong?”

“No of course not... You’re simply wonderful… No person in her right mind would not want to be with you.”

“So what is the problem? I thought we we’re on to something here. We had a good time right? What’s wrong Andy? Tell me… please…” Serena ran her fingers down Andy’s face and tucked her hair behind her ears.”

“I love spending time with you… You’re all I could ever want if I was ready but I’m not. My minds says yes but my heart is being pigheaded. I don’t want to hurt you Serena. I’m so sorry...”

“I see... I guess you still haven’t gotten over your ex... have you?” Serena smile was forlorn.

“Well, you can say that... in a way.”

“Whatever do you mean? Is there someone else?”

“Not exactly… But yes, I am in love with someone else… have been for the longest time you wouldn’t even believe me if I tell you.”

“Oh Andy, I know we haven’t known each other that long unlike you and Emily but I want you to know that… Andy? Are you okay?” Serena stroked Andy’s back as the brunette tried not to choke on her spit.

“I’m sorry about that.” Andy tried to recover and coughed a bit.

Serena looked at Andy strangely and remained silent observing the brunette drinking the remaining wine on her glass. Then it hit her. Her eyes told a story of another puzzle fitted. “ Oh my God Andy! It's Emily, isn't it! Holy shit!"

Andy just smiled meekly and accepted defeat. Serena was just too observant. She only wished Emily share the same trait.

"Wow... " Serena was rather short on words. "You know what... that explains everything. It makes sense."

Andy furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

"You and Emily, both of you makes perfect sense. That's what I'm saying. She talked about you all the time when you were gone. Constantly. furiously... I'm serious."

"She did? Well, that's nice to know. But It doesn't matter Serena, she'll never return my feelings. I've been in love with her since I can remember."

"Is that why you left for New York? Because of Emily?"

"Guilty..."

"Did it make any real difference?"

"I spent the most part of 3 years trying to get my shit together and thinking about me for a change. I pursued my passion and made it into a career. I've traveled a lot, met different kinds of people, I've been to war-torn countries, seen all kinds of heartaches, touched a few lives hoping it was for the better, and also hurt a few along the way. I hurt myself too... far graver than I have imagined. I went away because it hurt too much. Under all the success and the achievements I'm a lil bit hollow. I had a relationship with this woman Myra, the total opposite of Emily. I did love her but maybe not enough. And I've been selfish and prioritized my career. I wasn't proud of it but it got me here right?"

"So you think you went away for all the right reasons?"

"I did. Until I woke up one day totally lost. I missed my friends, I haven't been home for 3 years and when I'm not buried in my work, I still find myself wondering about her. It's pathetic... "

"No, it's not..."

Andy cracked a smile and insisted. "It is..."

"Does Emily know? Why did you come back?"

"I made up my mind to stop wondering anymore. I've wandered far enough. I wanted to come home. I was supposed to be better now. I accepted the fact that we will just never be and then you happened... and you just had to be so goddamn beautiful and funny. I was supposed to be better Serena...Then she just had to tell me that she's no longer with Christian. I mean... fuck! It messed my head up!"

"Andy, what is it that you really want?"

"I don't want to be this person who'll want to be with you but still have feelings for another. I've been there, it wasn't easy and you deserve so much better Serena..."

"That's not for you to say. I think at the end of the day I'm still the only one who can decide what's best for me. But thank you for telling me that and of course I deserve better. That much I know... God! This is such a mess!"

Andy and Serena shared a tense silence both unsure on how to go forward.

"You should tell her. Talk to Emily. Tell her what you really feel so you can finally have all the answers even if you might not want to hear them."

"You really think so?"

"This will be weird coming from me who wants you for myself but trust me okay. Emily has been behaving weirdly lately. Nigel and I pointed it out and she just stalked off and made an impressive imitation of Miranda's cold stare. I think our little friend is jealous that we've been going out. She's been moody as hell and is being cold to me. Now it's highly that you are the reason."

"You're just saying that. My hope's long been gone. I'm really really sorry again Serena... I didn't mean to hurt you... You've been a great friend. I wish we can still be... regardless of what will happen."

"I can't say I'm not disappointed. Of course I am upset... But sometimes, sometimes we just have to go for what we feel will truly make us happy. If something or someone really makes you happy, it couldn't be so completely wrong right? I really care a lot about you Andy but I don't want you to be with me any less than everything that you are. And you've got a big chunk of you that you already gave away a long time ago. I can never compete with that."

"You are a good person Serena. Anybody would kill to be with you..."

"Well, maybe... but right now, not the one who truly matters to me." Serena is tearing up and trying not to cry.

Silent tears slipped down Andy's cheeks and she hugged Serena tightly. "I'm so sorry... I wish I wasn't so complicated."

The blonde wasn't able to contain her tears any longer and clung onto Andy's. They remained like that for a long time, lost in each other's thoughts, seeking comfort amidst regrets and confusions.

Serena pulled away first and cupped Andy's cheeks with her palms, placing chaste kisses on the brunette's closed eyes and lips one last time. "You should go...Thank you for being honest with me. Do me a favor and allow yourself to be happy..."

Andy tried to smile but her heart was heavy. She kissed Serena's cheek on last time before she gathered her things and went for the door.

 

CHAPTER 13

"Hey sweetie wake up... Em...Em...?" Andy leaned down and ran her fingers through Emily's hair as the woman laid sleeping on the couch.

Emily slowly woke up and brushed the sleep away from her eyes as she adjusted to a sitting position. "You're home... Hey..."

"I just got in. And you're here..."

After she left Serena's house, Andy ended up walking the several blocks home because she wanted some time to think and sort out her next steps. When she entered the house, there was no sign of Doug. He usually switch the living room lights on when he's around but this time, there was only the soft warm glow of the streetlight coming in from the glass window. She was about to go straight to her room when she noticed someone on the couch and discovered that it was Emily. Andy was caught off guard for a moment and kneeled in front of the sleeping form. She ought to wake Emily and let her sleep in the bedroom because she's going to be sore later in the morning and a sore Emily makes a prissy one. 'A cute prissy one at that.' Andy thought. She spent a few more minutes just watching the woman slumber peacefully. She missed it, being this close to her best friend. She remembered the last time she saw Emily sleep and in her arms and it brought some sad smile on her face. She reached out and played with Emily's hair, so soft in her touch.

"You must be wondering why I'm here..."

"I was actually thinking about how beautiful you are, sleeping... I didn't want to wake you but the bed would be much nicer. It's nice to get home and see you unexpectedly on our couch." Andy smiled and tucked a stray hair away from Emily's hair.

Emily blushed but it wasn't so obvious in the dim-lighted living room. She wanted for Andy's fingers to linger a bit longer on her hair. She can't believe how much she craved for the other young woman's touch. "I... Uhmm I was trying to call you earlier."

"Oh yeah battery died, sorry about that." Andy stood up and started to walk over to the kitchen. "Can I get you anything Em? What was it that you wanted?"

Emily followed Andy and spoke softly,"You..."

Andy stopped in her tracks and faced Emily still holding the forgotten glass of water on her hand. "What did you say?"

"You Andrea... I want you... I have to tell you this and you need to hear it. Please let me... Something happened tonight and I've been dying to tell you but you already left the gallery. You know how some people are just epicly stupid? Well I am and no longer want to be. I've wasted years not recognizing my real feelings for you. I never allowed myself to truly feel it until today. You came back and I have never been more thrilled in my life! All these years you've been in LA, I've had a nagging feeling that something's amiss. I'm great at what I do in Runway but pretty stupid when it comes to you. I was devastated when you decided to move across the state. I thought what I felt was normal, always wishing you're here so I can tell you how my day went. I missed the late night calls or you barging in on my door at ungodly hours. I missed having you near me when I needed you. You've been the only one who made me felt good when everything's a mess. You are the sweetest person I know... I missed how you're always there even for just... well, just because... What I'm trying to say really is... I want to be the one person you'd want to take care of you anytime of every day, to be that one person you'd need and can't live without..." Emily stepped closer to Andy. "Andrea... God I'm sorry for being such a daft prick for not realizing sooner how much in love with you I am... I've never felt more alive than when I'm with you. I want to be the one to make you happy. I want to not have any reason at all to hold your hand or hold you close... and kiss you... Today, because of you, I'm finally seeing where I want to be. It doesn't matter if I can have you for just right now or for the next 50 years. Andrea... Andy... talk to me please..."

Andy's tears flowed freely and she her body was shaking, but she didn't stop looking at Emily.

 

A million times or more I thought about you
The years, the tears, the laughter, things we used to do
Are memories that warm me like a sunny day
You touched my life in such a special way

 

"I love you Andrea Sachs... So please ask me again what I truly want..." Emily wasn't able to contain her tears anymore because of all the surging emotions from being able to finally tell Andy how much she meant to her.

 

I miss the way you'd run your fingers through my hair
Those crazy nights we cuddled in your easy chair
Oh no, I won't let foolish pride turn you away
I'll take you back whatever price I pay

 

Andy closed the gap between her and Emily and in a shaky choked-up voice asked, "Tell me... I want to hear it one more time."

"You... It has always been you... I love you Andrea... You don't have to answer me now. I may even be too late but I don't care. I didn't want another day pass without telling you how I really feel."

Andy then burst into tears again and laughed at the same time and pulled Emily in her arms and hugged her tightly not wanting to let go. Emily held Andy as if her life depended on it. She allowed the other woman to let it all out. After what seemed like forever, Andy leaned back and traced Emily's face with her fingers adoringly.

 

Old friend
It's so nice to feel you hold me again
No, it doesn't matter where you have been
My heart welcomes you back home again

 

"I spent all night wondering how I was going to tell you that I have been in love with you... for years... I didn't want to have what-ifs and regrets and I planned on telling you how much I love you even if you won't hear any of it. Even if it means I finally jeopardized the friendship which crippled me in fear since I can remember. " Andy smiled and wiped Emily's tears from her face. "I finally mustered the courage... and then you beat me to it Charlton... How about that?"

"Shut up and kiss me already." Emily grinned and circled her arms 'round Andy's shoulders.

Andy beamed and finally... when her lips met Emily's, she felt her heart burst into tiny little pieces, fire spread themselves in her gut, down to the ridges of her spine, the pinpricks of pleasure finally embedded themselves on her body. She pressed her mouth deeper and licked Emily's lower lip for entrance. The other woman welcomed her tongue and grabbed the thickness of Andy's flowing hair. The scent it emanated was unmistakably Andy's and it teased her throbbing ache further. Emily clung to her while Andy's tongue provoked, her teeth nibbled, and her hands molded along the curves of her back and hips. Andy's lungs gasped for air and she felt Emily's knees buckle and she held her steady against the kitchen island for support, their foreheads rested against each other.

"Wow..."

"Oh my God Andrea... that was... well.. I've felt it in far more places than where your lips touched mine."

Andy can't stop the grin from dominating her face and brushed her lips once more on Emily's. "I've always wanted to kiss you since we were 15..."

"Well... I'll make it up to you for another 50 more if you're agreeable." Emily teased.

"Oh you would huh... Best you not forget. You owe me lots."

"Shut up..."

"By the way, where is Doug?"

"Oh... Doug... well he's at Lily's. He decided we needed some time alone after my lil fiasco at the gallery."

"Oh really? Well I'd love to hear that story." Andy laughed.

Emily with an evil grin replied, "I' just might tell you if you'll be a good... or rather a bad girl. Right now I have others things in mind."

"I love you Emily Charlton... This feels surreal almost... I don't ever want to let you go."

"It's real... Now and even ever after... I love you..." Emily smiled beautifully and sucked on Andy's lower lip as they kissed their way eagerly to the bedroom.

 

EPILOGUE

3 years after...

 

The alarm blared at 8:30 AM and a muffled groan can be heard from one of the occupants of the bed.

"Baby please make it stop..."

"Nu uh you make it stop. Too lazy. Early. Stay here..."

"Remind me again why we can't sleep in any longer this beautiful Sunday morning?" Emily's hand found it's way on Andy's naked back and started to lightly trace her fingertips down the woman's spine. The other brunette arched her back in response and moaned. One eye opened and Andy lazily smiled at her partner.

"Mmmm... it's Lily's brunch day of the month. You know how it goes." Andy nuzzled Emily's jaw sleepily and placed butterfly kisses down her throat as her free hand caressed the British woman's hips then finally massaged her enticing ass effectively pulling Emily closer to her.

"Well, good morning to you too." Emily laughed softly and entwined her naked limbs with Andy's. She cupped the other brunette's face and placed a soft but lingering kiss." "Good morning beautiful..."

Andy smiled then turned her head to kiss Emily's palm. "I can never get used to waking up with you like this."

'I know... me too." Emily can't kept her gaze away from what Andy was doing to her palm and then to her wrist. Andy supported herself on one elbow and leaned down to kiss Emily, their legs undulated against each other. Emily's hand pulled down Andy's nape for more contact and moaned louder as Andy's palm toyed with her breast.

"God baby I need you..." Emily whimpered and Andy felt just how much need her woman was talking about by the amount of moisture that brushed on her leg. The one between hers was another story. Moments like this, she can't tell where hers begin and Emily's end. It always felt like this whenever they're together and entangled. The brunette then kissed her way down, grazed her teeth on the other brunette's nipples, licked her way around it and just when Emily started to squirm she sucked on the sensitive nips as she spread the woman's legs apart. She massaged her hand on Emily's thighs, pushed herself down between her legs. She knew that Emily's ultra sensitive especially in the morning and didn't want to make her woman wait any longer. She leaned down and her nimble tongue licked repeatedly, her warm lips surrounded Emily's clit possessively, and her tongue wandered just inside before her fingers coaxed Emily's hips to start meeting her thrust and was rewarded by a loud throaty moan from her lover. Encouraged, her lips flicked on her lover's clit in a rhythm with her fingers and without warning sucked onto it. Emily cried out Andy's name, her back arched and grabbed onto Andy's scalp as the unstoppable ripples of pleasure gushed out of her over-stimulated body. After several heartbeats, Andy slowly raised her head to find Emily with her head thrown back, her chest heaving, and her legs still apart.

"Oh baby... you'll just be the death of me one of these days..." Emily expelled a throaty laugh and pulled Andy up and kissed her with much fervor. "I love you so much... you know that right?"

"And I love you more..."

"I don't know about that." Emily giggled and then pushed Andy on her back to straddle her. "I love you more... and allow me to show you..."

Andy's body shook with laughter. "Baby, aren't we going to be late for brunch?" She gasped as Emily already started to feast on her breasts. She knew better than to stop her woman when she's being ravished.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Well look who decided to finally grace us with their presence..."

Emily had a guilty grin and Andy blushed when they tried to apologize to their friends for being late. Doug on the other hand pulled the two in a bear hug when they showed up.

"Oh Lily... you know how these two go at it like rabbits."

"Douglas!" Emily almost choked and blushed to her toes as well.

The group laughed boisterously and hooted for their two friends.

Doug with a look of innocence added knowingly, "What? It's not like it's something we're not already used to people. Now now... I'm starving. Let's get it on!"

The close-knit group now included Nigel, Serena and her partner, Jasmine. It took Emily a while to accept that Andy and Serena had in fact built a certain connection. They remained good friends and Emily had to remind herself that what she was feeling were remnants of the old days. She knew Serena was in love with Andy but to give the blonde credit, albeit the existing temptation, she never tried to come in between them. She and Serena also reconnected and gave their friendship another try. Jasmine became Andy's good friend and respected colleague in NY Times and it was Andy who introduced Jasmine to Serena. The two surprisingly hit it off instantly and they'd been together for almost 2 years now. Nigel became the editor-in-chief of the now successful Men's Runway. Lily kept on micro-managing her art gallery as a part-time owner and became a household name among her peers. Doug was doing well as a senior associate at his firm. Emily had been promoted to art director following Nigel's footsteps and had proved her worth to Miranda. Andy no longer traveled heavily like before. She juggled freelance work and wrote articles but spent most of her time at home in her studio, with 2 adorable mutts they rescued at the center with her wife, Emily of 2 years. And still counting...

 

~THE END~