I can tell from the sound of Miranda’s heels which mood she is in. The cadence from those four or five inch Christian Louboutins, or Prada pumps, telegraph if I should stand at attention, pad in hand, or perhaps even hide under my desk. If I remain standing, which I have to date except that one time when I had forgotten to take off my lime green Crocs, the next sign of her mood is how she carries her purse. If her business lunch or whatever has gone well, she carries her purse calmly over her shoulder, neatly tucked against her. If there’s been hell to pay, she swings that poor purse like a missile, tossing it at me as if it was a grenade with the pin out. Lastly, as if these two signs wouldn’t be enough, her voice has this undertone—not just quiet, but soft and smooth like you would imagine she’d speak to a lover.
So, I knew that hearing Miranda’s heels create machine-gun pattern sound, and then receive the purse like she was target practicing, and then she practically whispered “Andrea. My office. Now,” with such a sultry voice I gasped before I could stop myself. Oh, yes, all three and worse than ever. The perfect Miranda storm.
I took my pad and the pencil I nearly snapped in two when she leveled her eyes at me, and hurried in behind her, my legs feeling a bit unsteady.
Miranda hadn’t even tossed the coat at me, so now she tore it from her body and flung it in the direction of the couch, which she missed, but clearly didn’t care.
“I’ve never seen anything as atrocious and never, never, have I been treated with such horrific lack of decorum. Not only was the food inedible, the people complete idiots, but the clothes, these sorry excuses for what they think is fashion is not even fit for bloody Patricia!” Miranda exhaled through her nose and for the first time I was actually surprised not to see flames erupt. “Then, then,” Miranda continued, “when I manage to more or less wrestle myself to the exit and leave, Roy is locked in by some double parking imbecile who left us sitting there in twenty minutes!” Miranda rounded on me, her blue eyes piercing my skin and drilling for my heart. “And where were you? You are supposed to join me and keep all these dangerously morose individuals from coming too close.”
“I, uh, I had a doctor’s appointment, M-Miranda,” I stuttered like a fool. “I told you that last night, when I delivered the Book.”
“I know that. I know!” Miranda drummed her nails against the glass surface of her desk. “I just hate when I need to attend these things and you are not there.” She muttered still, but her voice rose from the lowest register. “Are you all right?”
“Wh-what?” I blanked and stared down at my pad and up again. “All right?”
“Your important doctor’s appointment. Are you all right?” Miranda enunciated. “Or am I going to have to suffer through more plebeian attempts at garnering my favors without you present?”
“I…” I would have liked to say no, but the truth was, I was still trying to wrap my brain around what the doctor had told me. “I need to go back tomorrow, Miranda. I’m sorry.”
Miranda had started to reach for the paperwork on her desk, but now her head snapped up. “What is wrong? Why do they need to see you right away again?”
“Just a minor procedure, Miranda. I’ll be back after lunch.” I really did my best to smile bravely, but I could feel my lips tremble and from the widening of Miranda’s eyes, I knew she caught on.
“What minor procedure, Andrea?” she asked, her voice back into the lower register.
“Just removing a spot. Like a birthmark. It’s nothing. I ju-just hate needles.”
“And they are having you back within twenty-four hours for just a birthmark?” Miranda walked toward me and circled around me like a shark around prey. “Where is this birthmark?”
Oh, God. No, no, no. “I assure you—“
“I want to see this birthmark.” Miranda closed the door the outer office. “Show me.”
I knew if I tried to stall one more time, I would unleash the Dragon unnecessarily, so I sighed and pulled my blouse out of my skirt and unbuttoned it. Pulling it half off, I raised my arm and showed her the mark just below my La Perla bra, on my left side.
Miranda stepped closer and maneuvered me so the light from the window fell upon me. She gave a small gasp and gently touched the ugly mark that had started to bother me the last few weeks. When I found blood on my sheets during the weekend I seriously freaked out and made an appointment.
“That’s not just a birthmark,” Miranda said. “It’s not looking good at all.”
“I know.” To my horror, I sobbed, a deep, guttural sound. “I really hate needles. And I’m afraid.”
“Who’s going with you?”
“With me?” The thought hadn’t occurred to me. Nate was long gone, living and enjoying life in Boston. Lily…well, Lily was still mad at me and she so clearly had taken Nate’s side when he left. Doug was working in California for six months for his company before he returned to New York. That was it. That summed up my life. No friends. “Nobody.”
“Ridiculous. Cancel all my morning appointments. Roy and I will pick you up at…what time is your appointment?” She looked haughtily at me. “Focus, Andrea. When?”
“9 AM. I was going to come in and prepare your schedule first—“
“You will do nothing of the sort. You will cancel it all and postpone what cannot be canceled, and you will be ready at 8.30 tomorrow morning.” Miranda’s eyes narrowed. “Understood?”
“Yes, Miranda.” What else could I say? I looked down at my empty pad. “Was there anything else?”
I put my blouse back on and tucked it into my skirt. Walking back to my desk, I knew I was dreaming. I was probably already having the procedure and the Novocain had knocked me out cold.
If I had thought I’d get a bit of a respite and find my bearings before I was due for my appointment, and not only that, with Miranda as my moral support, I was of course dead wrong. I had to deliver the book. The new girl, who had replaced me as I replaced Emily Carlton, had not yet earned her stripes, so I was the one waiting for the dummy version of this month’s Runway issue. Once I was in the car, dry-cleaning and all, I had to take fortifying breaths before I could manage to potentially face Miranda. There was a small chance that she was at some late function or in bed, but of course not. Of course she was in the foyer as if she’d been pacing and waiting to pounce.
“Good. There you are. I’ve decided that it’s a much more efficient use of time if you stay here tonight. It will save Roy from navigating rush hour traffic and possibly delay us and make you miss your appointment.”
I promise I couldn’t think of anything to say, but “yes, Miranda”. She seemed so agitated that I started realizing she must really fear being stranded with new girl if I needed more time recuperating. Trying to reassure Miranda, I said, “At least Moira has finally caught on how to transfer calls now.”
“What are you talking about? Who is Moira?” Miranda scowled at me. “Don’t just stand there. I’ve had Elise prepare the guest room on the third level for you. You should take the chance to get some extra sleep before tomorrow.”
“I…uhm. Are you sure about this, Miranda? It’s just a minor, out-patient procedure and I won’t have to use any of my medical leave days.”
“I don’t care about that.” Miranda looked…hurt. Before I could respond, she snatched the Book from the dresser and strode into the den.
I stared at the ceiling and then, after hanging the nearly forgotten dry-cleaning, I bit the bullet and made my way up to the guest room. Of course, it looked like a luxurious hotel room; only the pillow chocolate was missing. The bathroom held everything I might need, even…even a change of clothes, size four. How was that possible? I found silk pajamas, so I showered quickly and donned it, before tiptoeing down the stairs. No matter if I was a strange sort of house guest, I was hungry all of a sudden. I needed some fruit, yoghurt, something.
I realized I had to pass Miranda where she sat curled up on a love seat perusing the Book with her usual laser focus. Perhaps she was so focused she wouldn’t notice me? I knew I was grasping at straws. I was almost all the way to the kitchen when I hear her close the Book.
“Andrea? What do you need?”
My nerves intact, please. “I’m sorry, but I’m hungry. I…I didn’t have any lunch, and when I waited for the Book, I…I just felt so nervous about this whole thing, I didn’t have an appetite.”
“Take anything you want from the kitchen. As a matter of fact, I’ll join you and have some of that ice cream the girls love so much.”
Miranda having ice cream? Which parallel universe had I skidded into? “S-sounds good.”
“You should have something more substantial, though.” Miranda opened the fridge. “Ah, yes. We had fruit and vegetable platters before the girls left this evening. They are in the Hamptons the rest of the week. I swear having them home from school in the summer can be daunting. It was nice of Mrs. Craig-Lauritz to offer.”
I knew I probably looked totally dazed, but this chatty woman serving me fruit and veggie platter with dip sauce, was indeed Miranda. Unless an alien had taken her place. I wondered to myself if I should feel through her hair for antennas, and this made me giggle. Soon I was laughing so hard, I had to hold onto the counter to not fall off the fancy bar stool.
“Andrea. Andrea, it will be all right.” Miranda rounded the counter and suddenly she had her arms around me. She was gently rocking me and kept making hushing and reassuring noises no matter how I laughed. And that’s when I realized that I was crying. “You’re stressing because of the procedure, which is understandable. You are uncomfortable around sharp objects, but I will be there with you and nobody will hurt you. You will be all right.”
For a moment, I thought Miranda was perhaps trying to convince herself as well. I had begun to relax, but part of me, hell, all of me, wanted Miranda to keep her arms where they were. If anybody had told me my scary boss would ever, ever, hug me, I would have laughed in their face before calling the little men in white coats. And yet, here she was, holding me close and stroking my back. Eventually she let go and motioned for me to eat. I reached for a Kleenex and mopped at my cheeks, blew my nose discreetly and then went through all of those carrots, celery sticks, and apple slices, not leaving a single one.
It turned out that just because you are sleeping in the most comfortable bed you’ve ever used, sleep can still elude you. I tossed and turned, and used the bathroom every half hour. Darn that nervous bladder of mine. When I had gone for the fourth time, I nearly fainted as I bumped into Miranda when I returned to the bedroom. She stood there, looking like a ghost in her silky, white nightgown.
“What are you doing, Andrea?” she asked, sounding tired. “I hear you go back and forth and flush the toilet and run the faucet. Are you ill?” She felt my forehead.
“No. No, I’m fine. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—“
“You’ve kept me awake now for two hours and God knows we both need our sleep. What is wrong?”
“Nervous bladder,” I muttered. “Can’t help it.”
“Would it help if I slept here next to you?”
How? How could Miranda sound so matter-of-fact when she flung such words around? How? I just stared at her in the faint light from the street lamps filtering through the blinds. “Uhm…”
“I take that as a yes, because I’m ready to sleep where I stand.” Miranda took me by the hand and pulled me along with her to the bed. She pulled the covers back more and slipped in between them, still holding onto my hand. “Andrea. Please.”
Oh, God. She said ‘please’. For more than two years, this was the first time I’ve heard Miranda say please. I was probably going to die and she was part of the ‘Make a Wish’ foundation, which in turn had tapped in to every secret fantasy of mine regarding this incredible woman. Saying please was just a start. I already had received a hug and now I was on my way to share a bed with her. I was so screwed.
“If you snore, I’ll pinch you,” Miranda said, sort of putting romance on hold. Perhaps I was going to make it after all.
“I don’t think I snore.” I had never had any complaints before, but then again, there’s a first for most things.
I estimate that it took me about ten minutes to fall asleep. Ten minutes of holding my breath, of pinching my thighs, (so there was indeed some pinching going on even if it was mainly to verify I wasn’t dreaming) and trying to not inhale Miranda’s scent too greedily.
I woke up, flinching and not sure why. I was completely immobilized.
Miranda had rolled closer in the night and was now firmly planted on top of my fanned out hair. I wasn’t even able to stealthily yank it free, not unless I wanted to keep from scalping myself, or had access to a pair of scissors. I was at a loss how to deal with this, less than expected, situation and just stared at the vaulted ceiling.
“Mm.” Miranda sighed, sounding way to blissful for my heart to deal with. She shifted slightly, but not enough to free my hair. Instead, she placed a hand on my shoulder and caressed me with gentle fingertips. “Soft.”
I was now adding dampness between my legs to my growing list of mortifications. If she didn’t wake up fully now and keep her distance, I would end up doing something entirely inappropriate.
“Andrea? Good morning.” Miranda opened her eyes halfway and managed to look even more sexy and flirtatious. “I think we managed to get a few good hours of sleep.”
Why wasn’t she moving? “Yes. That was—nice.” I forced a smile but kept looking up at the ceiling. I should’ve known that La Priestly wouldn’t settle for such a cowardly approach. Soon, I felt the soft touch of her hand against my cheek as she guided my head to turn and face her.
“Are you okay?” Her un-painted eyes made her look impossibly soft and strangely enough also younger, and the paleness of her lips made me wet mine with the tip of my tongue.
“I…yes. Yes, I’m okay. Thank you.”
“And so polite too. And blushing.” Miranda smirked. “For having these gorgeous brown eyes, you sure have transparent skin.”
“As do you.” And it was true. Miranda managed to have transparent and creamy complexion at the same time, with a texture and color that foundation makers around the globe had to envy. “You look amazing.”
Miranda snorted softly. “I do nothing of the sort at this hour. I’m well aware of my frumpiness before I have my real face on, to quote…someone.”
“Who said that?” I asked angrily and tried to sit up, totally forgetting that I was in a sense harnessed. “Ow!”
“What? Oh, I’m on your hair.” Miranda shifted and shifted onto her side, resting her head in her hand. “Seems you caught me in your yarn there.”
“I think you caught me, to be honest.” I tried a smile. “I didn’t mind though.”
“Very well. Good. Why don’t we get up and start getting ready?” Miranda looked at me, her eyes serious. “Might as well get it over with.”
I didn’t want to agree. I wanted to pull the wonderfully cover over my head and hide in this comfortable bed for the rest of the day. Of course I didn’t say that. I merely nodded and said what I always say, “Yes, Miranda.”
The doctor, middle-age, well, Miranda’s age, distinguished, and unfortunately condescending enough to annoy Miranda, nearly jumped behind his desk to get away from my fearsome boss.
“All I meant was—“
“Listen to me, Doctor,” Miranda hissed, “and I use the title only politely. I don’t care for how you address Andrea’s concerns. You say the procedure went well and that you’ve sent it off to be scanned for potential malignancy. Then you have the gall to smirk at her when she asks prudent questions. If this is how you carry out your oath to do no harm, I very much debate the safety and comfort of your patients.”
“Ms. Priestly, I—“
“I’m not finished. You will address each and every one of Andrea’s concerns, and you will get back to her the moment you hear from the laboratory where you send the sample.”
“That was always my intention, Ms. Priestly.” The doctor smiled and spoke through clenched teeth.
In fact, he had smirked, and even shaken his head, while sounding very condescending. I knew I wasn’t the skin type most commonly prone to get malign melanoma, but he had to remove a large chunk and I was worried. Right now, my skin was numb, but six stitches was quite a lot and I was sure I’d be sore later during the day.
After answering my questions with cold politeness, the doctor was about to leave the room when Miranda stopped him.
“Andrea lives alone. Would it be beneficial for her to stay with someone who can help her dress the wound until the stitches come out?”
“Actually, yes, Ms. Priestly. Since the incision is located in an awkward place for Ms. Sachs, I recommend she drafts a friend or family member to assist.”
She? I was right there for heaven’s sake. Glaring at Miranda and the doctor, I piped up. “I’m sure I’ll manage. Thank you.” Still a bit wobbly after the procedure, I strode out on my Jimmy Choo flats, for once not trailing behind Miranda who caught up with me by the elevator.
“Am I to suffer from this childish tantrum in the car all the way to Runway?” Miranda raised an eyebrow.
“Tantrum? You talked over my head like I was a child, so why not?” I knew I was sulking, but damn it, this had been such a nerve wracking experience and the fact that Miranda was acting like we had something personal going on, whatever that was, was slowly driving me crazy.
“Touché.” Miranda stepped into the elevator and pulled up her phone. “Roy. We’re done. You in place already? Good.” She disconnected and studied me in silence for a moment. “Perhaps I got carried away because this sorry excuse for a physician and his lack of professionalism, but that’s not why I asked the last question. I think you should stay at the townhouse until the stitches come out. You’re going to need help.”
“It's just a few stitches—“
“Located where you can’t reach.”
“I wouldn’t be comfortable for your nanny to handle something so personal.” I tried to get through to Miranda, but she merely rolled her eyes at me and stepped out of the elevator. I was back in my trailing-behind position as we headed for the town car. Miranda surprised me by gesturing at Roy to assist me into the backseat.
“I would never ask the girl’s nanny to perform anything like that. I would of course do it.”
I know I must’ve looked like a veritable birdhouse staring, open mouth and all, at Miranda's self-content expression at her deduction. “You. You would take care of me? Personally?”
“I can tell that the sedatives they gave you haven’t worn off yet.” Miranda delivered shock number two by taking my hand and squeezing it. “Listen to me. You know how I loathe repeating myself. You’re going to need assistance. You will need to cover the bandages every time you shower and also check for signs of infection. Didn’t you tell me that you have nobody in town to even go with you to the doctor, let alone help you on a daily basis?” Her sapphire eyes bore into mine and I knew I’d lost the argument before it even gained momentum.
“I’m not sure why you volunteer, but as you say, what’s the alternative?” I knew I should’ve let go of Miranda's hand, but suddenly it was all that anchored me as Roy maneuvered us through the busy Manhattan streets. I could feel my hand tremble as I clung to the soft and elegant hand holding mine.
“Andrea. Don’t make such a fuss about it. It’s really simple and I actually can imagine other convenient angles. You deliver the Book and then you don’t have to travel via cab across the city to your apartment. We can ride into work together—what?”
“Cab? You think I can afford to go by cab from your house?” I stared at Miranda and let go of her hand. What planet did this woman live on? “Uhm. I thought you knew. I take the subway home in the evenings.” I shrugged awkwardly at the truth, regretting it as it made some of the stitches twinge.
“You go by subway that late in the evenings?” Miranda looked so horrified, I nearly felt sorry for her, but part of me also thought this woman could use a reality check once in a while.
“Yes. No way I can pay for cab fare six nights a week on my salary.”
“Then Roy will wait for you from now on,” Miranda said dismissively, looking pleased at her solution.
“What? No. No! His evenings are long enough while waiting for me to text him. I’ve been perfectly safe going home every evening so far.”
“So far being the operative word.”
“Miranda, this isn’t up for debate. I’m going to allow you to help me out until the stitches come out, but after that, my time is my own.” I had to harden myself at the glimpse of hurt feelings I glimpsed in Miranda's eyes. It nearly did me in, almost made me apologize for being rude and declining her offer. This would set a horrible precedence for the future though, so I clenched my jaws and kept quiet.
“We will visit this topic again.” Miranda's low voice proved this was probably going to turn into a fight at one point, but for now, she’d agreed to adjourn the discussion.
I spent the rest of the day popping extra strength Tylenol every fourth hour. Miranda left at 6 PM and I knew I had at least four more hours to kill before Roy would drive me and the dry cleaning home to the townhouse. It was actually a relief to not have to cross Manhattan while being so sore to go home from Miranda's.
Finally, the Book arrived and I could take the elevator down to street level and slide into the Mercedes. Roy gazed at me through the rearview mirror, looking quite concerned. “Looking pale there, Andy. Long day, huh?”
“I’ll help you with the dry cleaning. Some extra stuff there today.”
“Thanks.” The mere thought of having to haul heavy plastic-wrapped hangers was daunting to say the least.
They pulled up to the house and to my surprise, the door opened and Miranda stood there waiting as I limped up the stairs, carrying the Book. One hand on the door frame, the other on her hip, a typical pose of hers, she looked stunning in her casual, yet super-expensive, leisure suite.
“I shouldn’t have let you stay so long.” Miranda took the Book from me and tossed it with shocking irreverence on the side table. She opened the closet door for Roy and thanked him. “From now on, Roy, I want you to drive Andrea everywhere, unless I need the car. Then I want your colleague, the one I don’t dislike as much, to drive her.”
“Miranda…” I tried, but I was simply too tired.
“Of course, Ms. Priestly.” Roy nodded and even winked at me. “Ready, Andy?”
“No, you misunderstand. Andrea is going to stay here for the next two weeks or so, but apart from that, my order stands.”
“Got it.” Saluting and smiling at me, Roy left and I stood once again in Miranda's foyer, no doubt looking like a fool. I was so tired, and still I couldn’t take my eyes off Miranda. Her beauty was mind-blowing, for sure, but there was something else, something undefinable about the whole situation. I wondered if I was hallucinating because of the freaking Tylenols as her eyes seemed to radiate concern and tenderness, paired with her usual annoyance.
“Silly girl,” Miranda whispered. “You have a way of driving me quite insane and I often question why I just can’t seem to maintain my usual distance when it comes to you.”
“And when you talk like that, I’m pretty sure my concept of reality goes haywire,” I replied, trying to remain calm. I destroyed attempt at seeming cool and collected by wobbling again where I stood. I ended up clinging to the railing at the bottom of the stairs to stay upright. “I think I need to lie down. I’m…I’m tired.”
“And stating the obvious. Come on, Andrea.” The tenderness seemed to have taken over for now, which was crazy to even imagine, but it was as if my very soul needed it right now. Needed this impossible connection with the woman I used to fear, but now… I stopped my dangerous train of thoughts when it veered into Forbidden Land, the place where the truth dwelled surrounded by potential, near-certain heartache.
“Do you wish you take a shower tonight?” Miranda stopped inside the door to the guestroom.
“No. I’ll just wash up a bit. Too tired.” I knew I was slurring because she frowned and tapped her lower lip like she does when her brain is going two-hundred miles per hour.
“I’m not comfortable leaving you before you’re tucked in. Nor do I trust you to remain in bed once I do.”
“What do you mean?” I blinked, trying to focus my eyes on her. Couldn’t she stand still? She was swaying back and forth.
“Andrea. That does it. You’re not staying here.” Miranda grabbed my arm and pushed me into another bedroom, clearly hers, judging from the size and the door leading into a vast closet. “All right. Bathroom. I’ll wait here, but keep the door open.”
“All right, all right.” Muttering I found myself in a bathroom bigger than my living room and bedroom combined. I pulled off my clothes, shivered as I stood naked before the mirror and washed what my mother called “the most important parts,” which included under arms and breasts, between legs, and lastly my face. Gazing around, I saw Miranda's robe, but didn’t dare use that so I grabbed a humongous bath towel and wrapped it around me. Shivering, I reentered the bedroom where Miranda was waiting.
“Good. Now let me just take a look at the stitches.” No warning, Miranda peeled back the towel enough to look at the incision. She nodded and reattached the tape. “Looks dry and clean. We’ll change the dressing tomorrow morning before we go into work. If you feel the least bit out of sorts tomorrow, you’re working from home. Is that clear?” She glared at me.
“Sure. Fine. Yes.” I slumped sideways and she caught me. I was so tired, and so relieved to be there with her, to have Miranda just take care of everything for once, I leaned my forehead against her shoulder. “You smell good.”
“Hm. Thank you.” Miranda's voice was soft and warm as she guided me to her bed. Pulling back the covers, she helped me lay down and removed the towel before tucking in the covers around me. “I’ll get your pajamas so you can slip into it.”
“Mm-mm.” I thought I’d just close my eyes for a moment first. The bed was soft and warm like a hug and smelled of Miranda, which of course made it perfect. I knew how soft her hands were and the softness of the bed made it possible to imagine being in her arms. How I wish she’d wrap her arms around me and hold me. I had dreamed many a heated dream of finally being able to express my feelings for this wondrous, infuriating, special, and gorgeous woman. Before I finished that thought I was asleep.
When I woke up, I found myself curled up; spooning Miranda's silk clad back, but I was still buck naked.
I swear I held my breath for a full minute, perhaps more. Perhaps I was trying to not breathe since it made my rock hard nipples rub against the naked skin on Miranda's back. Her nightgown was low cut, leaving her bare down to her waist. I trembled now, with the effort to not wake her, trying to figure out how I could disentangle myself from Miranda.
The hardest part was, I didn’t want to. Her scent engulfed me, her skin burned mine, and I couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t wearing any pajamas. Hadn’t she said she’d help me into them? In fact, come to think of it, why had she crawled into bed with her naked assistant to begin with?
Miranda shifted slightly and sighed, making me go rigid with terror. This couldn’t be happening. I couldn’t even turn my head to check the time, or at least I didn’t dare try.
“Andrea?” Miranda's voice made me flinch. “If you keep holding your breath you’re going to asphyxiate. What on earth is the matter?”
What was the matter? Was she insane? I was freaking naked and she was pressed against me. She had to feel my damn boobs pressed nearly flat against her, for heaven’s sake!
“M-Miranda? I’m—I’m sorry. I seem to have invaded your, eh, your privacy. I’m not sure how this happened and I’m truly, truly sorry—“
“Oh, calm down.” Miranda rolled onto her back, making me scurry backward, to give her space.
I fumbled for the sheet, to cover myself, but it was stuck beneath me and around Miranda. My cheeks felt hotter enough to be crimson.
“Andrea, you were probably cold.” Miranda pulled at the sheet and the duvet, freeing it enough to wrap it around me. To my absolute shock, she kept her arm curled around me, tugging me closer. “There. It’s only 4 AM, so relax and go back to sleep.”
“I—I don’t think I can,” I gasped. “I’m…I’m…”
“You’re in pain?” Miranda's eyes snapped wide open and zoomed in on me.
“No. I’m fine. I’m okay. I—I—I’m naked!”
“Yes. You are.” Was it just me or did her voice sink half an octave? Miranda's eyelids lowered and she studied me through her eyelashes. “I meant to help you into your pajamas, but you were dead to the world.”
“And so you decided it was okay to sleep next to me while I was naked?”
“I had to make sure I heard you if you needed me. You were very out of it and tired last night.”
Was she being deliberately obtuse? “Miranda, this is beyond inappropriate. I’m—“
“Naked. Yes. We’ve gone over that.” Miranda sighed. “Are you really that uncomfortable about nudity?”
“Not especially, but you are here.”
“So, you’re uncomfortable around me?” Was there really a hurt tone in Miranda's voice?
“Not around you, not really.” Why was this so hard to explain and why couldn’t I just blurt it out? “I wasn’t prepared to be totally stark-naked around you.”
“Were you afraid that I’d judge your body, Andrea?” Softer now, Miranda's voice wrapped around my heart. “I know I made that unfortunate remark about you being fat, which couldn’t be further from the truth, and even if you had been heavy set, it still would have been wrong. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You’re very beautiful.”
“Thank you. That’s not what I mean.” I realized I was going to have to spell it out. “I’m naked in your bed and it—it affects me.”
“It affects you? How do you mean?” Miranda began stroking my back, which nearly did me in.
“Miranda, I never meant for you to know, but I find you very attractive. “ I turned my head and buried it into the pillow. “Sorry.”
“You find…what?” Miranda pushed at my shoulder and rolled me onto my back. “What do you mean, attractive? In a romantic sense?”
“Yes,” I squeaked. “Can’t help it.”
Miranda leaned over me; her eyes probing my very soul as she looked for something I suspected couldn’t be seen in faces. She cupped my cheek with her hand, her thumb stroking along my eyebrow and then my cheekbone. I shivered at the soft touch, which of course didn’t escape her.
“I’m going to kiss you.” Miranda spoke curtly. “I need to know.”
Know what? I barely had time to think the two words before her lips descended on mine. Soft, inquisitive and so incredibly hot, her lips examined mine. First with her mouth closed and then with it half open, but still not deepening the kiss. Eventually I couldn’t stand the tension. I was simmering in her heat and I had to have some form of outlet. I stopped talking myself out of it and slipped my tongue into her mouth.
Miranda moaned, guttural and deep in her throat, and let her tongue play with mine. I sucked gently at the slick muscle, unable to fathom that this was Miranda. I was kissing her. She was kissing me. Deep, wonderful kisses that was nothing short of miraculous in how they made me feel.
I knew now that being naked so far with Miranda pressed against me had only been the beginning of my trouble. Now, as my arousal skyrocketed, my stomach clenched right along with my sex, and this sent a flood of moisture between my legs. I pressed them together, but I was already so slick down there, my legs slid too easily against each other.
“Mm, Andrea, you’re…you taste amazing.” Miranda lifted her head a fraction of an inch and looked down at me. “If I’d known you felt this way—“ She kissed me again and I was torn between the sweet ache this caused, and my curiosity as to what she was about to say.
“Touch me,” Miranda said, her voice husky now, and kissed my jawline and down my neck. “I need to feel your hands on me. I need to know this is not just another dream of you.”
She dreamed of me? She’d had dreams of me of…this? Of doing this? My head was swirling as I slipped my arms around her and held her tight. Hugging Miranda Priestly. Another insane, wonderful, but insane, thing to happen. What if she felt how aroused I was? What if that repelled her?
“Miranda?” I whispered, my voice trembling along with my body. “We—we should stop. This, I’m not sure this is—“
“What?” Miranda raised her head and glared at me. “You’re not sure this is what? Smart? Appropriate? What?”
Oh, shit. Damage control. “I’m not sure we’re ready for this. Yet. Please?” I wanted to explain, but how the hell you do you tell the most gorgeous woman in the world that she has to stop touching you or you will embarrass yourself and come right then and there? How do you tell her that if this is merely a fun experiment she’s conducting after having some “dreams” of her assistant, which might have made her curious, it would break your heart in a million pieces?
“Yet?” Miranda had one hand tangled in my hair and the other cupping my cheek. “You said you find me attractive. You deepened the kiss. You’re clearly aroused.”
“Y-yes. All true.” I struggled to find words that wouldn’t send me into years of therapy after suffering her wrath. “Listen.” I shifted away from her a fraction of an inch, but her eyes wouldn’t allow more than that. She had this eerie way of holding me close with some weird Miranda-magnetism. “I’m attracted to you, but that’s not all. I mean, it’s more than that. Okay? So, if this goes too far, too fast, I’m not…oh, damn, this is fucking hard. Let’s just say I won’t do so well if that happens.” I was ready to just pounce on her and not give a damn about any broken heart on my account at this point, but something, and I can’t say exactly what, made me think her heart might just get ever worse shattered than mine.
Slowly, Miranda relaxed. “You’re right of course. I—I suppose the unexpected closeness and intimacy got the better of me.”
“And me.” I smiled carefully, as usual, as Miranda was her very own sort of powder keg. You just never knew when you stepped too far to the side of the safe path in the minefield around her.
“Roll over.” Miranda made a circular movement with her hand, startling me.
“I want to make sure we didn’t pull at your stitches.”
“Oh. I don’t think so, but, okay.” I rolled half onto my side, away from Miranda.
Her fingers gently lifted the bandage. I was embarrassed to admit to myself that even this made me have to clench my legs.
“It looks fine. Now, can we please go back to sleep?”
I glanced at the alarm clock on her side of the bed. 4.30 am. “Absolutely. I tucked the duvet around me and tried to disregard the fact that I was still naked and still on edge.
“And Andrea? Don’t think for a moment this topic is dealt with. We will discuss this at the earliest possible opportunity.” Miranda rolled over, facing away from me. “Now go back to sleep.”
That was easy for her to say. How the hell would I be able to sleep when she meant to “discuss” with me. As far as I knew, Miranda never discussed anything. She issued orders, expected everyone around her to not only ask how high when she said “jump”, but to set world record in how high they jumped as well.
I stared through the darkness, only lit up very faintly from the city lights filtering through minor cracks in the blinds. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, I just knew it. Miranda’s scent engulfed me. It was in the bedding, it was of course all over her form next to me, and it was driving me insane. The memory of the wondrously heated kisses, how she clung to me as she kissed so deeply, would not allow me to sleep wither.
“Andrea, please find a good position and lie still.”
“Perhaps I should…you know, the guestroom?”
Miranda rounded on my so fast, I nearly fell off the bed on my side. “Do you not wish to give us any chance whatsoever to examine these—these feelings?” She waved her hand dismissively in the air. “If you cannot bear to be near me, then by all means, go sleep in the guestroom.” She sounded furious, but I knew her well enough now to realize this type of fury was only this strong to mask something else.
I placed my hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. Keeping it there, I scooted closer. Again, damage control. This time it was easier, as it was Miranda’s profound pain and anguish that was in focus. How many times had her husbands yelled at her, criticized her, only to go and sleep alone in the guestroom? Here I had suggested something similar, waking all the old ghosts without realizing it until it was nearly too late. “I don’t want to sleep alone in the guestroom. I was just trying to be considerate.”
“I want to sleep here with you. I’m just nervous,” I admitted.
“Nervous?” Miranda pushed her fingers into my hair, caressing my scalp. “Because of me?”
“Partly.” I knew I had to be honest or Miranda would swoop down like a hawk and pounce on it. “I guess we all battle with fear of rejection, one way or another.” My thoughts strayed to my Lily, and also Nate, who had rejected me, each in their own way. In a sense, Lily’s dismissal of years upon years of friendship hurt more than Nate’s and my breakup. Wasn’t your best friend supposed to have your back no matter what? But, then again, if Lily had been there for me, I doubted I’d be in Miranda Priestly’s bed, in her arms, or on the receiving end of her kisses. Go figure.
“How profound.” Miranda’s words were as acerbic as ever, but her hands were warm and gentle as she tugged me closer. “Rest your brilliant mind now. That’s an order, Andrea.”
Suddenly it was easy to relax. Breathing no longer hurt and I curled up next to this woman I had yet to figure out—if ever. Tomorrow, I knew she would corner me sooner or later for that talk. Too tired to worry about that, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
Breakfast the next morning was an anticlimactic, quiet affair. If I had harbored any notion that Miranda would be more attentive or caring, which I didn’t, I would have been sorely disappointed. Miranda had her first cup of coffee, which I made using her state-of-the-art espresso machine, which looked like a Star Trek replicator. I was happy I didn’t accidentally blow the whole shebang up as there were enough settings to launch a deep space probe.
Miranda was nose deep into the Book and this gave me the chance to observe her surreptitiously as I sipped my own latte. As she had told me the other night to help myself to anything in the kitchen, I made some toast, which she declined only to then steal my second one without even asking. Well, I suppose it was her bread and her marmalade. I calmly made myself a second toast and munched on it as quietly as a person can when it comes to something crisp.
“Time to go, Andrea.” Miranda slammed the Book closed and stood, startling me enough to draw a deep breath, which sent the last crumps of toast into my windpipe. I coughed embarrassingly long and had to sip my latte several times before that annoying thing left my larynx.
“Really, Andrea.” Miranda smirked and stood. “You really must focus. And not suffocate in my kitchen. You’ll add to the rumor that I choke my assistants when I’m displeased and hide their bodies in the basement.”
This nearly made me choke again, but I used sheer willpower not to. “That’s what’s good with older houses like this. A huge old furnace to get rid of any evidence,” I replied without really thinking.
Miranda blinked and then the smirk turned to a smile. “See? I knew you’d understand.” She touched the left side of my jaw, very briefly, with warm fingertips. “Time to go to work. You are up for it, aren’t you?” Something tiny and dark flickered across her eyes.
“I’m fine, Miranda. Honestly.”
“Well.” She grabbed the Book and her purse and headed for the foyer. There, I helped her into her coat and when I reached for my own, she shocked me by taking it out of my hands. “Here. Don’t pull on the stitches.” She assisted me and I was so bewildered I nearly missed the sleeves before I got a grip and slid into my coat.
“Thank you,” I whispered, suddenly choked up again, but this time I couldn’t blame the toast.
Miranda touched my face again and then smoothed down my hair. She didn’t speak and looking into her eyes, I didn’t need her to. For a fleeting, much-to-short moment, everything she didn’t say was right there.
The morning was uneventful and I comfortably settled into my routine. I knew this job inside-out and it was a blessing to be able to send Moira on errands. I kind of felt sorry for her as the weather wasn’t exactly the best, in fact it was damn cold, but she was only doing what I had done my entire first year at Runway.
Miranda was in rare form. It was quite entertaining to watch the people emerging from her office after each meeting. I started betting myself whether they’d come out looking elated and relieved, or ready to jump out the closest window. When Nigel and Serena stepped out high-fiving each other, I marked my perfect score on my notepad. Five for five.
“How are you doing, Six?” Nigel asked, leaning over my desk as he held my chin with two fingers. “Looking a bit pale around the gills, I think?”
“Just a little tired, Nige. No big deal.” I shrugged.
“Not catching enough sleep?” He frowned as I suddenly blushed. “Oh, God. Don’t tell me he’s back.”
“What?” I was not catching on. “Who are you talking about?”
“That Nate fellow. The chef-who-went-to-Boston.”
“Nate? Why would he be back?” Nate was not only completely history when I was concerned, he had also moved on and his new girlfriend was pregnant. Lily had found it prudent to tell me this with a look of ‘see-what-you-could’ve-had’ on her face a few weeks ago. I hadn’t spoken to her since. I didn’t care—honestly—about Nate and his girl and their baby, but Lily’s way of talking to me had been the last straw. Just the thought of being subjected to her disdain and disapproval made my inside churn.
“He might have realized what a pearl he let go and had a change of heart.” Serena added softly, entering the discussion.
“Not a chance. He is together with this chick who works at his restaurant and I hear they are pregnant.” I shrugged. “Good for him.”
“All right then. Oh, Miranda wants you.” Nigel motioned with his thumb over his shoulder toward the door.
Nigel’s unfortunate choice of words made me blush again, but this time I managed to hide it by grabbing my pad and pen. “See you guys. Say hi to Em for me, Serena.”
“Will do.” Serena’s beautiful eyes were soft and kind. “Let’s go out some evening together soon, all right?”
“Sure.” I hurried into Miranda’s office and stopped instantly several steps from her desk at the stormy expression on her face. “Yes, Miranda?” I tried not to sound like a squeaky rodent.
“Still pining for the cook, Andrea?” she asked, her voice such a low growl, it was barely audible.
“P-pining?” I tried to wrap my brain around what the hell she was on about now. “Wait. You think I pine for Nate? That I want to get back with him? With him?” My voice rose despite my best intentions. “Are you crazy? I haven’t given him a second though, except for the time when people keep bringing him up. Which is far too often for my liking.” I only now realized I had all but called my boss crazy. I dared to meet Miranda’s gaze, trembling and praying I hadn’t screwed up too badly.
Oddly enough, Miranda’s eyes had gone from stormy gray to calm blue, despite my faux pas. “Well. Good then. He was unworthy of your lo…loyalty.”
“That went both ways,” I said, in all fairness. “He didn’t deserve what I did to him either.”
Interested now, I could tell, Miranda leaned back and laced her fingers loosely. “And what was that?”
It really wasn’t any of her business, but as I could never deny Miranda anything, I kept talking. “I stopped loving him.”
Oh shit. No way in hell I could level with her. Not here, not now. I tried imploring with my eyes, my whole body language as I held up one hand, palm forward. “I just did. Please.”
She tilted her head in the way she does, rolling her 24k gold pen over her lips. “Very well.” Still she wasn’t ready to let it go completely. “Another thing to revisit, Andrea?”
God almighty. “If you insist.” I meant to sound a bit acerbic, but instead I’m pretty sure I came off sounding meek and without any personal will.
“Nigel and Serena are about to launch a new project, a series that will be the start of Runway’s new sister magazine. A spinoff, you could say. I need you to be the liaison between us. Whatever they come up with, they will forward to you, and you will go through it, sort it and give me the rundown of it all. That way, what they come up with will not have my fingerprints on everything, and I will also know what they’re up to in case I need to intervene.”
Not her fingerprints? I had to sit down. When didn’t Miranda okay every single thing that went into Runway? For some reason this made me deeply concerned and I studied her closely to try and decipher her expression, looking for the almost invisible telltale signs I’ve discovered over the last two years. She looked calm and even content. Huh. No narrowing of eyes, no fake crocodile grin, and most telling of all, her eyes were bright blue.
“Of course, Miranda,” I murmured as I realized she expected a response that I’d understood.
“Are you up for waiting around for the Book tonight?” Miranda pulled her laptop closer and donned her reading glasses.
She glanced over her glasses, a gesture that always took my breath away. “You certain? I can have it delivered electronically.”
My belly warmed and the heat flooded my chest. This was so unlike her, but not as surprising as it should’ve been to most people. Miranda was more considerate than people gave her credit for, but she never let on. I had been sent to do nice things for her staff with the clear indication not to let them know Miranda was behind it. So many times, I had to bite my tongue when they took it for granted or just were stupid enough to realize they shouldn’t thank me but her. They should know that nothing went on at Runway that Miranda hadn’t thought of or instigated. And here she was, sending Nigel and Serena to the forefront on something that sure looked like the embryo of a new magazine. That combined with her concern about my welfare was rather mind-blowing.
“Have you perhaps overdosed on Tylenol or merely skipped lunch?” Miranda frowned now.
“No. No on both accounts. And I’m fine. I can wait for the Book. Thank you for asking.” I smiled meekly, not wanting to ruin her good mood for anything.
Miranda’s expression softened again. “I’ll make sure they know to bring it to you no later than nine. After all, we have things to discuss, right?”
Holy shit. “Uhm. Yeah. We do.” I walked back to my desk, where I spent a few moments wondered if she would insist I sleep in her bed again. If so, I better make sure I had some pajamas that covered absolutely every inch of me. That or I would jump her bones at any given chance, but worse than that, I couldn’t see myself in her arms one more time without blabbering out the truth. If Miranda kissed me again and caressed my naked skin, I just knew there was no way I could refrain from telling her how I felt. That would not just be the mistake of a lifetime; it would crush what was left of my heart.
Going back to the townhouse, I knew Miranda would be pissed because I was late. I’d had Roy swing by my apartment to collect a few things that I needed to stay at Miranda’s for a couple of weeks. I knew better than to object, even if I felt rather silly to be a house guest due to a few stitches. The thought of the birthmark and the biopsy sample sent to a lab to be examined made me tremble, so perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea. Anyway, I needed some more clothes, my personal computer and a few other items. I blushed at the thought of one special thing, but I needed it to remain sane. If I was going to be around Miranda without going insane from physical desire I needed an outlet. My mind pictured the light blue, carefully wrapped dildo I bought after I came home from my first trip to Paris. Nate had left, I was overloading on my feeling, and my dreams had tormented me to a degree where I was afraid to fall asleep. The dildo did its job efficiently and even if it didn’t stop the heated dreams where clear blue eyes hovered above me and, it helped.
“Got everything you need, Andy?” Roy asked as I pushed my duffel bag into the backseat.
“Sure do,” I muttered and took my seat in the front next to him. “We better step on it. She expected me fifteen minutes ago.”
His eyes grew wide as he had us back in traffic instantly. “So you gonna help her with stuff at the house?” Roy maneuvered the town car efficiently. “As you’re staying there, I mean?”
“Yes, something like that.” I felt guilty for sounding so stand offish. If there was one employee who never was anything but honest and respectful to Miranda, it was Roy. “I’ve had a surgical procedure done and I guess Miranda wants to be nice and keep me around as I have no family in New York.”
“What about your friends?” Roy’s voice was kind. “I remember a guy, rather tall, and that woman who works at an art gallery.”
“Doug is in California a few more months. Lily is…Lily isn’t my friend anymore. She decided to side with my former boyfriend.”
Roy frowned. “Really?” He didn’t sound impressed.
“Yup.” I shrugged. “C’est la vie.”
He sent me a long glance and then he pulled in along the curb. “Let me help you with the dry-cleaning, okay?” He didn’t wait for a reply, but jumped out and carried both the dry-cleaning and my duffel bag up the stairs. When he was halfway to the door, it opened from inside revealing Miranda dressed in soft grey slacks and a white off the shoulder cashmere shirt.
“Do I need to deal with the one delivering the Book too late?” she asked darkly.
“No, no. Please.” I hurried up the steps. “They were on time. I had Roy drive me to my apartment to grab a few things.”
She glowered at my worn bag, but merely nodded. “Hang that in the first closet to the left, please, Roy.”
He merely nodded and did as she asked. Afterward, he turned and scrutinized me for a second before he bid us goodnight.
I closed the door behind him and engage the home alarm without having to be prompted. I think I thought if I kept busy, she wouldn’t go all ninja on me with questions. That was pathetic wishful thinking as it turned out.
“What was that about, Andrea?” Miranda stood leaning her hip against the sideboard, arms folded over her chest.
“Uhm. What do you mean exactly?” I grabbed my bag. “Should I use the guestroom—“
“Andrea. Do not make me repeat myself. Why was Roy looking at you as if you were literally never going to be seen or heard from again?”
Not sure if I was going to burst into tears or laughter, I let go of my bag and heard it fall to the marble floor with a thud. “I told him the reason I stay here for the moment.” Hm. That didn’t come out right. “I mean—“
“You told Roy why you’re here?” Miranda paled, but kept her relaxed and slightly nonchalant pose.
“Yes. I know he can be trusted so I told him about my surgery and that none of my friends are available. He is a good guy, Miranda.”
“I know he is. He could’ve made a lot of money from the tabloids if he had been the type to do so.” Miranda’s left hand slipped down to her hip and the other up to rub the back of her neck. “That still doesn’t explain why he looked so…protective.”
“Perhaps it was because I told him I only have friend left here in New York and he’s in California. Rather pitiful, I know.”
“And why is that?”
“Why I have only one friend or why it is pitiful?” I shifted back and forth, so utterly uncomfortable now, I wanted to run up the stairs to the guest room and just hide under the covers.
Perhaps some of my thoughts showed on the outside, because Miranda motioned for me to join her in the study. On the table sat two glasses, one with red wine and the other with orange juice. I just stared. Oh, please, I thought, don’t let it be time for that talk Miranda was so dead set on having. I was too tired, no, exhausted.
“Sit down, Andrea. You don’t have to look so panicked, I’m not about to start interrogating you.”
No? “Then what do you want to talk about?” I sat down and took a sip of the orange juice. It tasted amazing and I quickly downed half of it before putting it back on the table.
Miranda sat down next to me, and by that I mean next to me. My leg pressed against hers and her arm stretched out behind me on the backrest. She drank from her wine and then discreetly licked a drop from her lower lip. I began to tremble. No matter how fatigued I was, no matter how much I dreamed of a soft pillow and that wonderful mattress and duvet upstairs, I was instantly aroused by her presence.
“I just think we should relax a bit before you go to bed. You extended yourself by remaining to wait for the Book—“
“The Book!” I nearly knocked the wine glass from Miranda’s hand as I tried to stand up only to be yanked back by a firm hand. “Did I leave it in the car? I can’t remember…”
“It’s on the sideboard for me to peruse later. Calm down, Andrea.” Miranda placed her glass on the coaster and then wrapped her arm around my shoulders and shook me lightly. “Just relax.” Her voice sank half an octave and became a purr.
I couldn’t help it. I half turned and buried my face into her neck. Her soft skin smelled of that signature perfume of hers, warm, slightly spicy and with undertones of bergamot and vanilla. I hummed, I confess, and rubbed the tip of my nose against her. “So tired,” I murmured, but it was only half the truth. “You smell so good.”
“So you keep telling me.”
Miranda’s breath caught. “Whatever for?”
“For this.” I furtively slid my arm around her waist and held her closer. She might reject me at some point, I knew only too well, but something told me she wouldn’t do that tonight. She would allow me to be close, if only for a little while.
I was having one of those dreams again and yet it felt more real than ever. I could actually smell that amazing perfume, Miranda’s signature scent, and it filled my senses until my head was spinning. Never before had I actually dreamt of a scent and this thought made me force my eyes open.
The room was dark. A faint glow around the edges of the drapes at the window did nothing in the way of illumination—nor did it let me orientate myself, which was confusing and dizzying too.
“Andrea?” A familiar, slightly husky voice said quietly. “Can’t you sleep?”
Miranda. Oh shit. Yes. Her house. Her bedroom. Her bed. I suddenly remembered everything. How I’d fallen asleep on her shoulder on the couch, how she’d shook me awake rather impatiently, but then guided me upstairs and into her bedroom. There, she shoved me into the bathroom, ordering me to take off makeup and have a quick shower. Naturally I obeyed, but not even the shower woke me up properly. I was still dazed to a point where I started wondering what the hell was in those Tylenols…or the juice I had before.
Miranda more or less tucked me in and then disappeared to go work on the Book. That was the last I remembered.
“Andrea?” Sounding more awake now and equal parts concerned and annoyed, Miranda rose on her elbow.
“I just woke up,” I whispered. “I didn’t remember where I was at first. It was dark.”
“You’re here, at the townhouse, with me.”
“I—yes, of course. I mean, why—I’m in your bed. Again.”
She flopped down on her pillow again. “Do we have to discuss this—again?” She was quickly going from exasperation to peeved, I could tell.
“No. No, but you did ask if I could sleep and I just—“
“You just thought it was a good idea to start a whole new why and wherefore debate and question everything.”
“Please, Miranda, I’m not questioning it the way you think. It’s not that I don’t want to be here, but you’ve got to realize just how…how worried this makes me.”
I heard Miranda shift and then her bedside lamp switched on, blinding me.
“Let me see if I get this straight. You are not opposed to sleeping in my bed, but it worries you.” Miranda was on her side, resting her head against one hand and pinching the bridge of her nose with the other. “What are you worried about? You concerned that I might attack you in the night? Or that I’ll demand sexual favors?”
“Miranda!” I knew I had to stop this or she would work herself up to a frenzy where she would absolutely not listen. Nobody jumped to conclusions like this woman did. I’d never met anyone who second-guessed and assumed the worst-case-scenario without even stopping to think. Perhaps that was how she’d manage to survive at the top of the corporal ladder for so long. “Breathe.” I was fully awake now. “Breathe deeply and slowly and listen.”
“Listen.” I slid closer and pulled her onto my shoulder. She became rigid for a few moments, but then her body slowly relaxed, if not fully. “I do want to be here, with you. You’ve taken wonderful care of me, but that’s not why. This is more than that for me, but that is kind of scary in itself, you know? I have two weeks here with you until the biopsy results are back and the stitches come out. It was your idea that I stay, but it was my dream to get this chance to be close to you. I have no ulterior motives.”
Miranda was now as relaxed as I suspected was possible for her to be. She raised her arm and wrapped it around my waist. “So, why is this ‘scary’?”
I swallowed against a sudden dryness that stung the back of my throat. “Because then it’s over. Two weeks of…of this and then I go back to my apartment and start looking for a new job.” I was close to tears now. Perhaps Miranda’s approach was right. Perhaps this was worst-case-scenario happening right now.
“Wait…what? A new job?” Miranda’s head snapped up and she glared down at me, her gaze a blistering, icy gray.
“You don’t think I can continue to work for you and go back to business as usual, do you? How do you think that would work? One day I’m in your arms as you hold me through the night and the next I’m bending over backward trying to accommodate everything you demand of your assistant.”
“This isn’t how I see it at all.” Miranda held me so tight now, it hurt. “You have it all figured out, but you clearly don’t get it. None of it.” Now she sounded like that again. Peeved and hurt in a heartbreaking combination. “You’re staying with me because we both want it. Why the hell would you go back to your apartment after two weeks unless you want to? That doesn’t make sense.”
“Because that is the time limit we decided on. No, you did, when I think about it.”
“That’s what I said to Roy. Why would I announce to him what I feel about you?” Miranda’s eyebrows lowered threateningly.
“What you—huh?” My brain had stalled at her last sentence. What she felt about me? “Can you tell me perhaps? I think I’m losing the thread here.”
“You did. Long ago, I think.” Miranda sighed and relaxed marginally. She settled down on my shoulder again and I held her closer, nuzzling her fragrant hair. “We were supposed to talk in-depth about our situation, but I didn’t think it clever to do it in the middle of the night.”
“It seems we’re too busy during the days,” I said wearily.
“Andrea, did I misunderstand you just now, or would you be, uhm, interested in extending your stay here?” Miranda spoke carefully, her voice guarded and a lot more quiet.
I on the other hand lost my breath for the umpteenth time. One of us would have to take the leap of faith and it looked like it was going to be me. Surprise, surprise. “I would love to stay longer—as long as you would have me.”
“Oh, Andrea.” Tipping my head up with two fingers under my chin, Miranda pressed her lips to mine. Hard. Possessive. If she hadn’t trembled so violently and whimpered into the locking of lips, I would’ve objected at the bruising kiss. Her lips were closed and she was breathing hard through her nose. She slowly ended the kiss and now I could see her lips trembling as well. I gently cupped her neck and pulled her closer. Softly, softly I nibbled her lower lip, ran my tongue along it and teased her lips open, just a little. I pressed open-mouth kisses along her jawline until I was back against her lips and then I carefully entered her mouth with the tip of my tongue.
Miranda moaned against into my mouth and reciprocated. I knew I had never reacted this way to a kiss before. I explored every part of her mouth, caressed her tongue with mine and eventually we broke away only to start over right away.
“D-don’t. Don’t let go of me, Andrea,” Miranda murmured as she nuzzled my cheeks. “Don’t even talk about leaving. I couldn’t bear it.”
“All right. I’ll stay. I’ll stay until you tell me to go.”
“I said, don’t talk about it!” Miranda rolled us further until she was on top of me. Her wild eyes burned against me like blue tinted flames.
“Then kiss me again and shut me up.” I saw her lips pull back in a feral grin before her mouth descended on me. Her hands were gentle, but the way she touched me was possessive and greedy. I didn’t mind. This was Miranda and she was touching me. She wanted me and nobody else, right here, right now. My midsection was still sore, but I didn’t care. If she ripped the stiches, so what?
Then her hands gentled, caressed me in long, slow and languid strokes, careful not to touch the bandage area. “We should sleep,” Miranda murmured and then ran the tip of her tongue along my neck. “Our days are crazy and we need to rest.”
I knew she was right, but she kept touching me and then, oh God, her right hand was under my t-shirt. I vaguely noted that I was wearing my favorite sleep shirt and wondered how that was possible, but I honestly didn’t care. I raised my hands and pushed them into her hair, held her in place as I found the pulse point on her neck.
Miranda’s skin was impossibly, and seductively, soft. So silky smooth, it turned her actual years into downright lies. I wanted more than anything to see more of her skin. My eyes had gotten used to the darkness and her pale skin reflected what little light there was. I wanted to kiss her all over, tear her nightgown from her chest and take her nipples—
Gasping I stopped and put another inch between us. “Miranda. I’m sorry.”
“Whatever for?” Miranda did her best to tug me closer.
“I—I damn near lost control and tore your nightgown off. That thing costs more than I make in a month!” I trembled now, my arousal still rampaging.
“I don’t care. You wish for me to take it off?” Her voice husky, Miranda ran her finger tips along my cheek. “You want me naked here next to you, darling?”
That last word tested my self-restraint more than anything had ever done in my life. Not only the fact that she said ‘darling’, but the way her voice lowered and softened was enough to ruin my boy briefs. I pressed my thighs together, embarrassed and aroused to no end.
“You know I do.” I tried to sound matter-of-fact, but that failed gloriously.
“Would it be just me, I mean, who’d be undressed, or would you take off that deplorable former t-shirt?” Miranda shifted next to me, running her bent knee up and down my leg.
“Oh!” I was done for. I was going to come in my briefs right here, without so much as a touch and make a complete fool of myself. Like a teenage boy getting a hard-on from just seeing a lady’s bicycle. I went all still, trying not to put any pressure against my aching clit.
“So tense.” Miranda cupped me on the outside of my briefs and I half whimpered, half howled.
“Oh, no. God, God…” It was going to happen, I could feel it. Miranda was merely holding her hand in place, not touching or caressing, but I was so close, so close. “Please?”
Her other hand gripped mine and shoved it in between her legs, firmly holding it in place. Her nightgown made up for one barrier, her panties another. Still, I could feel the heat and the tremors where she pushed my hand against her swollen sex. This sensation alone would have been enough, but she also had her hand pressed against me.
Neither of us moved, or rubbed, or pushed harder, or closer. It may have been ten seconds or so, of complete and utter arousal, and then I came. Shuddering, I buried my face in her hair, moaning her name. Only when my body began to relax some, did I notice how badly Miranda trembled. Had she come? Was she on the verge of coming?
Experimentally I wiggled two of my fingers, pressing them just a little bit firmer against her. Miranda became rigid for several gasp filled moments and then she broke into the same shudders that I just went through, clearly coming in my arms. I held her close and let her find her bearings. We were both so hot, so out of breath, but for the first time since I woke up, we were truly relaxed.
“Please, tell me you can finally go back to sleep,” Miranda said, shifting to get comfortable.
Ah. So we weren’t going to talk about this mutual orgasm thing tonight. If ever. Of course. I smiled wistfully as I made myself comfortable behind her. If Miranda didn’t like spooning, she was going to have to tell me that. I liked it. Something told me that if I started being more forthcoming about what I wanted and what I liked, it might get a little easier to navigate around Miranda.
“’Night, Miranda,” I said and yawned.
And I did.
The next morning was pretty much a repetition of the previous one, with one exception. We both found it hard to look each other in the eyes for longer than half a second at a time. I could feel my cheeks warm and knew I was blushing. Miranda, on the other hand, looked increasingly annoyed and impatient, which didn’t make me feel any less awkward.
I focused on not spilling, and chewed on my toast as quietly as possible. It was a classic ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ moment, but in this case, Miranda was no sleeping dog. She rather resembled an agitated feline ready to pounce.
In the car, I stuck to my own side of the backseat and pretended to read the news on my phone. So far we’d only exchanged words like ‘are you ready’, ‘yes, Miranda’, and ‘let me help you.’ The latter was when I helped her on with her coat and it nearly destroyed my equilibrium as I had to stand so close to her that her hair touched my cheek, her scent wafted right at me, surrounding me, and her body warmth made me want to pull her close and kiss her neck.
As Roy maneuvered the town car among other rush hour drivers, my thoughts went unbidden to the previous night, which was of course a huge mistake. My thighs clenched at the memory of Miranda’s hand cupping me. I could feel how shocked and aroused I’d been and it wouldn’t take much to induce the exact state again. I tried to force my thoughts to the rather boring assignment awaiting me with Miranda’s schedule, but her presence on the backseat was driving me to distraction. I glanced furtively at her and to my astonishment I saw she had her eyes closed and her hands were balled into tight fists.
“Miranda?” I murmured discreetly.
“What is it, Andrea?” she asked tightly, her eyes still closed.
Not sure where I found the courage, I leaned forward and pressed the button that raised the privacy screen. The windows in the back were completely see-through for us, but I knew nobody on the outside could see us as we moved at what Miranda would call ‘a glacial pace.’
“What are you doing?” Miranda snapped her eyes open.
“This is crazy. We can’t go into work like this. Like braced for impact.” I unbuckled my seat belt and slid closer. “You’re hurting your palms like that.” I too one of her hands and stroked it. I was afraid if I tried to pry it open, I’d end up hurting her too. “Relax.”
“Damn.” Miranda opened her hands and I massaged the left one gently. Once it wasn’t completely rigid, I took her right hand and repeated the massage.
“There. Better.” I was shaking on the inside, but used all the stress training I’d acquired as Miranda’s assistant to not let on. “Talk to me, Miranda.”
“About what?” She still wouldn’t quite meet my eyes.
“About if you regret last night, to start with. I don’t.” I wasn’t entirely sure about all aspects of last night, but I couldn’t have Miranda believe anything else.
“Regret? No. No, I don’t.” Her hollow voice wasn’t convincing.
“Then what’s wrong?” I pressed on, wanting to know. “At this pace, we have some extra time before we’re at Elias-Clarke.” I motioned toward the window, which showed the pedestrians walking faster than we were driving.
“Wonderful.” Actually rolling her eyes, Miranda seemed unaware that she was holding on tightly at my hand with both of hers.
“For heaven’s sake, Andrea, do I have to spell it out?” The words gushed out in a low, feline growl.
“I think you do.” I took a chance and shifted again next to her, wrapping my right arm around her shoulders. I carefully kissed her temple; glad I was only wearing some lip gloss.
Slumping marginally toward me, Miranda sighed. “I’m…concerned.” She quieted, but I refused to hurry her along. “I’m normally not the—the aggressor. In business, yes, but when it comes to this.” She freed one hand and waved it emphatically between us. “And certainly not when it comes to sex.”
Feeling ridiculous as my thighs clenched again when Miranda said the word ‘sex’, I could only nod. “Instead of berating yourself about it, perhaps you should instead figure out why that is and what it means?” I suggested carefully.
“Oh, I know why I act out of character,” Miranda said, smiling wryly. “No need to psycho analyze me. I know perfectly well why I can’t keep my hands off you.”
I didn’t know what to say or how to phrase a question that actually made sense and didn’t sound totally conceited. After a few moments, it didn’t look like Miranda was going to elaborate voluntarily, so I had to forge on. “That makes two of us.” I let go of Miranda’s hand and used mine to tip her head up. “I acted weird this morning, because I feared you may have regretted what took place last night. I’ve always been comfortable with having sex, so the fact that I was all awkward tells me something too. This isn’t casual, nor is it some form of buddy-sex or recreational activity. It’s way, way more for me and I don’t take it lightly.” I wasn’t sure I made sense, even to myself.
Clearly not to Miranda either. “Buddy-sex? Recreational?” Her eyes grew wider. “What are you talking about?”
I tried again, with the sinking feeling that I might be digging myself a deeper hole. “I’m trying to say that last night meant something to me. Something special. And new.”
“New? In what sense?” Miranda looked reluctantly intrigued.
“This might be too blunt for you, but I’ve never come just from someone just holding me between my legs like that.”
Now that made Miranda blush. The skin on her cheekbones and the tips of her ears turned a bright pink and she gasped mutedly. “Andrea…”
“Have you?” I looked at her cautiously and now she seemed mesmerized and not even blinking as she studied me.
“See? I’ve never been so aroused, or so aware of someone else’s presence that I could come just like that. It scared me a little, but mostly it confirmed what I already knew.” I had to blink against the burning sensation behind my eyelids.
“And what do you know, Andrea?” Miranda asked, her voice soft in the exact right way, her body warm and pliant against me.
“That you’re the one,” I whispered and then I had to close my eyes. Next thing I knew, Miranda kissed me; several gentle, sexy kisses that left me deprived of oxygen and any higher brain functions. I wrapped my arms around her and returned the kisses, not giving a damn about smearing her lipstick or wrinkling her pristine looking outfit from Calvin Klein and Vivian Westwood.
Miranda’s hand was suddenly on my left breast, cupping and weighing it, before slipping into my neckline and repeating the touch inside my La Perla bra. I groaned and arched, needed the touch so badly.
“We can’t continue this now.” Miranda spoke harshly, but her touch was tender as she pulled her hand back and straightened my blouse. “You were correct to try and clear the air before we reached the office, but I will not make love to you for the first time in the back of a car.” She looked at me with darkened eyes, her features stern. “Now you have to assist me. I cannot exit the car looking like this.”
But, oh, she looked amazing. Her eyes dark and aglow, her skin flushed, her silver hair tousled just the right, and, best of all, her shirt pulled off her right shoulder, showing her bra strap and a lot of pale skin. “Yes, Miranda,” I answered very softly too, which made her narrow her eyes as she clearly surmised—and rightfully so—that I was teasing her.
I made a production of straightening the bra strap, which really didn’t need adjusting, just so I could feel some more of that fabulous skin, and then her shirt. Pulling out a comb, I fixed her iconic hairdo with trembling fingers. I located a tiny version of Miranda’s favorite hairspray and secured it. She handed me her lipstick and I willed my hands to not shake as I applied a new layer. Sitting back, I examined my handiwork and then nodded. “You look the part again.”
Miranda reached for a compact in her purse and examined her face. “Acceptable.”
High praise. I tucked my comb and hairspray away and buckled back up again. Suddenly drained, I wondered what my near future would be like on a daily basis if these emotional rollercoasters together with volcanic bouts of arousal were to be commonplace.
“Don’t frown, Andrea.” The obvious order was delivered with a gentle voice. I knew it was Miranda’s way of saying ‘don’t worry.’ Easier said than done, but I made an effort to relax and smile.
Isn’t it funny how just when you start to get your bearings back, something happens to yank the rug out from under your feet? In my case, the yanking came from an unexpected direction. I was coming back from my lunch and motioned for Moira to take her twenty minutes, when the phone rang. Not the office phone, but my cell. I always kept my private cell on buzz only, as it was a surefire way to elicit Miranda’s wrath if my cell would actually make a noise when I was in her presence.
And now it buzzed. I gazed around myself and didn’t see anyone around. Picking the phone up, I saw *Mom* in the display. “Fuck,” I muttered and then pressed ‘reply’.
“Hello, Mom,” I said cautiously as I sat down at my desk.
“Hello, Andy,” mom said, her voice strained. “How are you?”
“I’m at work, Mom. Perhaps we can talk later?”
“No,” she said firmly, not sounding like the mother I knew at all. “I just had a visitor and this is urgent. Surely that monster of a woman you work for can let you talk to your own mother without a reduction in pay or something?”
I blinked. What had brought this on? Mom was usually polite and correct, if a bit strict in her views. “A visitor?”
“Lily came home to Cincinnati to visit her parents and stopped by to see me as well. As it turned out I had the day off today and we had a long talk, which explains so much of what’s going on with you.”
“Lily came to our house and talked to you about me?” I stood now and began to pace back and forth in the outer office. “Why would she do that? Why would she even care? She’s made it pretty obvious that she ditched her childhood friend to side with said friend’s ex-boyfriend.” I spat the words out.
“The way you treated Nate, you can’t be all that surprised. Leaving him because you’ve become curious about—“
“Stop right there,” I hissed. “Nate and I decided to take a break. I came home from Paris and he had left for Boston with all of his stuff and half of mine. Just to get the facts straight.”
“He was probably very hurt. Were you romanticizing this boss twice your age already then? I never pegged you for the type that cheats on her boyfriend. That doesn’t’ sound like my little Andy.” Mom sounded like she was about to cry. I was torn between feeling so damn angry and also like a horrible daughter who made her mother burst into tears.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.” I spoke quietly and hoped to wrap up the call. “None of it is true. I never cheated. And no, I wasn’t romanticizing. And I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. I don’t want to be interrogated—“
A steady grip of my arm interrupted my words as Miranda was suddenly there and led me into her office, closing the door.
“Andy? What do you mean, interrogated?” Mom called out over the phone. “Andy?”
“I’m here.” I spoke fast. “I got to go though. Like I said; I’m at work.”
“With her.” Mom spat. “You should come home. You need to be with family now. People who—“
Miranda’s arms wrapped around me from behind, rocking me gently.
“With people who judge me, blame me, and take everybody else’s words as gospel but mine.” I pivoted in Miranda’s embrace and tucked my face into her neck. “I think we need a break, Mom. A long one. When you’ve had enough time to think about where your loyalty lies and who you vowed to love no matter what twenty-five years ago, then we can talk. Perhaps.”
“Andy!” Mom gasped.
“Bye, Mom. Tell Dad I said hi.” I disconnected the call and tossed the phone on Miranda’s desk. “Oh, God.”
“Shh. I’m here.” Miranda held me close. “I have you.”
Once again, Miranda comforted me. She smelled so good and her embrace was wonderful. I didn’t cry like I had done in her kitchen the other day. This time, the anger put a stop to the tears. “You heard?”
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, darling.”
“It’s all right.” I managed to lift my heavy arms and wrap them around Miranda’s waist. Then I flinched. “Oh, God, the phones! Moira isn’t back yet and nobody is manning the phones, Miranda.”
“Let them go to voicemail.” Miranda held me in place and gently kissed my lips. “Honestly, I don’t know what the whole frantic deal is with my assistants and the phones?”
“You don’t like voicemail.”
“That may be, but I do like you, so stand still for a moment longer.” Miranda laced the fingers of her right hand into my hair and massaged my scalp. “Just stay here a while and let me hold you.” And then she uttered something practically unheard. “Please?”
“I’m going to Skype with the girls,” Miranda said after we stepped into the foyer. “Why don’t you join us?”
I immediately suffered from an acute onset of nerves. “Uhm. Nah. I shouldn’t barge in on your special time with them.”
“But they’re worried about you.” Miranda’s eyes narrowed. “They texted me twice today asking how you’re doing.”
I just stared at her in disbelief. “What? You told them? They know I’m staying here and why?”
Miranda actually blushed. “I did tell them you were having a procedure done and needed some assistance as your friends were unavailable. I didn’t go into detail and I certainly haven’t told them about…us.”
I was still appalled, but the word ‘us’ from Miranda’s lips mellowed my temper. “Okay. Well, we should be honest with them, I suppose. They’re smart kids and they know you well. I think they’d see if you were trying to cover something up.”
“And they really like you. According to Caroline, you’re the only assistant I’ve ever had that never ‘ratted them out’ or held a grudge.”
I smiled. “Ah. They’re kids and I get a feeling they are a bit jealous of everyone they have to share you with. Even a lowly assistant.”
Miranda’s forehead furrowed, a sure warning sign. “Do not berate yourself like that. Not even as a joke. You’re my equal in every sense that counts.”
I could tell this was non-negotiable, so I nodded. “All right. So, why don’t you talk to them and just call me toward the end and I’ll come say hello?”
“Acceptable.” Miranda tapped her lower lip, which made me want to kiss her silly. “Why don’t you order us some dinner from that place I like?”
“Smith & Wollensky?”
“Yes. That’s what I said, didn’t I?” Miranda smirked and walked into her study. She left the door open, which made me feel even better as I pulled out my cell phone and dialed the restaurant. Normally they didn’t deliver, but the name Priestly made a lot of people say ‘how high’ way before I asked them to jump, so within twenty minutes, they would deliver two steaks with several side dishes. When I started fetching lunch for Miranda, she had only eaten steak with some herbs sprinkled on it, but I had gently coaxed her into having more vegetables. At first, she had glared at me, but her favorite restaurants of course made delicious little starter dishes with different vegetables and soon Miranda expected more than just meat on her plate.
I had just taken a quick shower and changed into my favorite sweats when Miranda called from her office.
“I’m here.” I poked my head in and she waved me over to sit next to her on the couch. She had her laptop on her knee and was smiling broadly at her girls.
“Here’s Andrea.” She twisted the laptop and moved closer, her thigh pressing tightly against mine.
“Hello guys,” I said and looked at slightly more disheveled twins. “You guys been to the beach today?”
“Yes, and then at the pool all evening.” Cassidy tilted her head, Miranda-style. “You look different. Are that shirt from your university?”
“It sure is. I like to just be comfortable after a day in high heels.” I winked at them. “It’s like my Runway uniform, you know. Just like when you wear the Dalton uniform. Don’t you love getting out of that when you get home?”
“Yeah.” Caroline glanced at her mother. “Yes. So, you feel like you’re at home at the townhouse?” She pursed her lips, but she didn’t look displeased.
My heart skipped. “Yes, kind of.” I tried to stay honest without revealing anything. “It’s nice of your mother to let me stay here.”
“Why did you have to have surgery?” Caroline frowned. “Are you ill?” The last words were said with a catch in her voice, which astounded me.
“I’m not ill,” I said firmly. “The doc removed a birthmark that was bothering me. I have some stitches that pinch me and itch like crazy sometimes, but other than that, I’m doing fine. Honest.”
The girls looked mollified. “How long are you staying? Will you be there when we come home on Sunday?” Caroline asked.
I looked at Miranda, feeling this was not up to me to answer. She nodded and then shocked the hell out of me by putting her right arm around my shoulders. “Andrea is staying long enough for you to spend time together, Bobbsey. I really enjoy having her here.”
“Wow.” Caroline bumped her sister’s shoulder. “See. I win. Cough it up.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Cassidy made a face and then a ten dollar bill changed hands.
“What are you girls doing?” Miranda looked at them under raised eyebrows.
“I made a bet with Cassidy that you’re in love with Andy.” Caroline looked casual, but still giggled as her sister pinched her. “And I was right.”
“Caroline!” Miranda was now pink for the second time in one evening. “First of all, making bets regarding money is not what I raised you to do. And making a bet regarding your own mother’s feelings is…is just wrong.”
Caroline pouted. “But I was right.”
“That may be,” Miranda said and her voice sank to the level that made clackers and copy editors fled through the windows no matter which floor they were on. “It is still wrong and I expect you to not only give your sister her money back, but an apology to both Andrea and me.”
Caroline slumped her shoulder and handed the money back. “I’m sorry,” she muttered.
“Apology accepted.” Miranda mellowed. “Now, let’s not end this on such a somber note. As Andrea is here when you get back, I thought we would do something special. Unless you think you’re too tired when you get back.” She looked seriously at the girls, but her eyes glittered.
“What? What? We won’t be tired.” Cassidy sat up straight and even the chastised Caroline looked intrigued.
I was always amazed that such privileged children, because they were, could still be so honestly excited about a great many things.
“I have tickets to an outdoor concert with One Direction.”
The microphone on the girls’ computer couldn’t handle their squealing, it only made a static noise, but the way they girls hugged each other and bounced, was indicative of how well that piece of news had been received.
“You’re going to a One Direction concert?” I stared at Miranda. “You realize it’s going to be a mob of teenage girls stampeding and screaming throughout the whole event?”
Miranda smiled angelically. “That’s why the girls will be in a VIP section up front with some of their friends and you and I will be in a special area where we can be quite comfortable in lounge chairs, being catered to, and, retain our hearing.”
“Mom, you’re the best!” Cassidy said once they stopped squealing. “Who can we bring?”
“Two friends each. I would suggest you return the Craig-Lauritz’ hospitality by including their daughters.”
“Of course, you don’t have to tell us that. Mindy and Sabina are our best friends.”
The doorbell rang. “Our dinner is here, Miranda.” I blew the girls a kiss before I realized what I was doing. “Night, night, girls. See you on Sunday.”
“Night, Andy.” The girls spoke in chorus and then Cassidy blew a kiss back. Caroline giggled and made a kissy-face. I shook my head, but had to smile as I stood to go get the door.
“You’re being ridiculous, girls,” Miranda said tenderly. “Love you, Bobbseys. Good night.”
I stood at the top of the stairs, looking from the door leading to Miranda’s bedroom to the guest room and back again. It was probably ridiculous, but I didn’t know where to go. Miranda had shown me the guest room that first night, clearly stating this was my room while I stayed at the house. Then she had stayed there with me and I had stayed with her in her bedroom after that. Now, when I went to bed before her, it felt presumptuous to assume I had the right to invade her personal space without her there. Then again, what if I hurt her feelings by removing myself to the guestroom. I remembered her saying that was what her ex-husbands used to do when they were angry.
Grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns, I did what my heart wanted, and yes, of course, my body too, and walked into Miranda’s bedroom. And there I just stared at the bed, my eyes watering. On the made up bed, which was turned down on both sides for the night, lay my worn and torn sleep shirt. I removed my sweats and underwear and donned the knee-long t-shirt. It was so worn, it was see-through in places. I wondered if Miranda would find it deplorable or sexy. Something told me, a little bit of both.
I brushed my teeth as I had already showered and then crawled into bed. I was so tired after the emotional turmoil and my mother’s words spun in my head as I tried to get comfortable. Tossing and turning, I eventually fell asleep, hugging Miranda’s pillow, my face buried into it.
I jerked awake, not sure what had awoken me. The room was almost dark, only a nightlight was on by the window. I was gasping for air and I wondered if I’d had a nightmare.
“Andrea?” Miranda came into the room from the bathroom. “Did I wake you? I didn’t mean to, but I dropped a bottle in the sink.”
“It’s all right.” Relieved to see her. I lay down again, placing the pillow I’ve hugged back on her side of the bed. “What time is it?”
“One-thirty.” She looked sullen. “There was a lot wrong with the Book. I think you would have done a better job with the texts than these bozos. I will have you edit them when we get into work tomorrow.”
This made me wide awake. “What? I’m going to edit something for Runway?”
“Yes. It’s high time we took advantage of your skill sets. You were editor-in-chief of your college paper, right?”
“Yes. Yes, I was.” I was flabbergasted. “But, I’m your assistant—“
“Don’t you want this?” Miranda pinched her lips.
Whoa. Damage control. “Are you kidding? I’m psyched! Just so stunned. I didn’t see this coming.” I smiled carefully. “This is amazing. Now I’m nervous though. What if you think I suck?”
Miranda relaxed and rolled her eyes. “If you ‘suck’ I will be very disappointed.”
I pressed a hand over my mouth to not squeal like the girls did just hours earlier. “This is freaking awesome.” I kicked my feet excitedly under the covers and removed my hand again. “What kind of text is it? Is it a feature piece or some informative text or—“
Chuckling now, Miranda placed two fingertips against my lips. “You will find out tomorrow. Now it’s really time for bed. Try to go back to sleep.”
I don’t know what came over me, but the excitement paired with her gentle touch and the glitter in her eyes, clearly made me go crazy. I parted my lips and ran the tip of my tongue across her fingertips.
Miranda gasped and froze. I knew no matter what that I had to follow through. I gently held on to her hand and painted a trail with my tongue across her palm to the inside of her wrist. There, I pressed my lips to her pulse point, feeling it race against me.
“Andrea…” Miranda slipped further into the bed and then into my arms. I hugged her close and kissed her forehead, her temples, and then her mouth. Oh, those kisses were so different from the rough ones that first time and the urgent ones last night. Slow, exploring, languid, like we had all the time in the world. How could I ever doubt how much this woman, how much Miranda wanted me? Miranda. She held me so gently, like I was made of glass, and ran her tongue inside my lips, played with my tongue, tugged carefully at my lower lip with her teeth. For being able to deliver such scathing words, she could turn and be so…so loving.
Suddenly, Caroline’s voice echoed in my head. “…that you’re in love with Andy…” I would never ask Miranda about her response to Caroline. “…that may well be…” If Miranda, by any chance of a miracle, loved me, she would tell me when she was ready. Not because her rascal daughters forced the issue.
I still was so giddy about the whole thing; I reacted once again without thinking and rolled Miranda onto her back, ending up on top of her. I kissed her, firmer now, more deliberate and my hands began to roam. It dawn on me that I had actually touched her intimately, even if it was on the outside of her clothes, but I hadn’t seen, or touched, her breasts properly. Talk about going about it in the ‘wrong’ order.
Miranda was wearing a nightgown with spaghetti straps. Convenient, I thought as I nuzzled her neck. Miranda moaned and pushed her fingers into my hair.
“Andrea,” she breathed. “You set me on fire. How can this be?”
I sure as hell didn’t know and I refused to analyze it now. I pushed the spaghetti strap off her shoulders one by one with my nose and mouth. Resting on my elbows, I scooted down just a little, tugging at the nightgown with my teeth.
“Shh.” I kissed a line from her neck down between her collarbones and to her sternum. Then I had to see. I lifted my head and gazed down at the pale orbs, visible enough in the muted light. Dark pink tips begged for my attention and I closed my lips around her right nipple, sucked it into my mouth as far as it would go. Velvety, puckered and hard as little pebble, it was delicious. I used my tongue and massaged, sucked, even chewed very gently and clearly this had the desired effect as Miranda whimpered my name over and over, mixing it with ‘oh’ and ‘yes’ and ‘oh, please, please.’
I felt sorry for her left breast and kissed my way over to it. Giving it the same attention made Miranda part her legs and wrap them around me. Doing so pushed my long sleep shirt up over my hips and the cool air against my naked bottom reminded me I was going commando.
Torn between being so horny I could take Miranda right then and there, and being alarmed by the risk of shocking the daylights out of Miranda by being virtually naked—again, I let go of her nipple.
“Andrea?” She looked up at me, dazed by arousal and tugging at my long hair. “D-don’t stop…”
“You sure?” I was trembling now. If she moved her legs just a little bit, she would realize I was not wearing any panties. Right then, she shifted and grinded her hips against me, and that made me realize, neither was she. I just couldn’t resist. Certain that she would tell me if I overstepped any boundaries, or at least that’s what I counted on, I let my left arm carry my weight so I wouldn’t crush her and slipped the other down between us. I tugged at her nightgown and pulled upward. My own shirt followed suit and now I could tell she felt how intimate this embrace had become.
“So hot,” Miranda whispered. “So smooth.”
I kept my hand between us and wiggled it further down. I reached the sparse and trimmed hair at the junction of her legs and combed through it with my fingertips.
“Ah…” Miranda rolled her hips. “It burns.”
I pushed back and sat up between her legs, effectively parting her legs more. Gazing down, I couldn’t really see any details, but that was all right. I figured she kind of looked like I did, and knowing what I liked when it came to being fondled, I thought, hell, she’ll tell me if I do it wrong. This is Miranda, after all.
The thought that I was allowed to see this part of her, and by that I didn’t mean the naked Miranda, even if that was pretty fucking amazing, but this vulnerable, trusting part…with her sprawled before me. Having faith in me to not take advantage of hurt her, in any way.
“May I?” I asked. I had to ask. There could be no misunderstandings. That would kill me.
“Oh, yes. Please. Andrea…” To my astonishment, Miranda held on to her knees and put herself on display for me. “Only you, Andrea. Only you.”
That was as close to a declaration of love as I could think of without uttering the exact words. I ran my hands down her satin smooth thighs and then massaged her center with my thumbs, not entering at all at first. She was so wet, her labia parted on their own as they became even more swollen. I was surprised at the sudden urge to bury my mouth into all that moisture and taste her. Did she want that? Did she expect it? No, I didn’t think Miranda had any expectations whatsoever. She merely trusted me with her body and it was up to me to live up this trust.
I scooted down further and kissed a trail from her belly button down across the tuft of hair. Her legs trembled and she let go of her knees, let them fall to the side.
“You—you don’t have to…” she managed, her voice unsteady.
“But I want to. No, I need to. I need you.” I used my thumbs again and parted her labia gently. “Just tell me if I do something you don’t like, okay.”
I blew carefully at the hot wetness before me. Then I flattened my tongue against her, just below her clit, as I figured it was too much of a shock to touch that first of all. Miranda wailed and dug her heels into the bed. I let my tongue massage the sensitive flesh in small circles, down around her opening, over her perineum, up again, cautiously nearing her clit. When I finally reached it, I covered it with my mouth and sucked the engorged, protruding ridge of nerves.
Miranda cried out my name and arched, her body convulsing and her clitoris actually pulsated so hard it pulled back completely for a moment before it reappeared outside its little hood.
“Andrea, Andrea…oh, God…God…” Clawing for me, Miranda pulled me up along her and clung to me. She kissed me, clearly not bothered in the least by the fact she had to taste herself on my lips.
I was shaking so badly now from arousal, from having felt her orgasm reverberate against me, I pressed my hips against her hipbone, rocking and rubbing.
“You’re horny, darling,” Miranda whispered, her words sending more arrows of pleasure through me. She was still out of breath and shaking, but that didn’t stop her from moving her hips against me. “You devoured me.”
“Yes,” I sobbed and hid my face against her neck.
“You rolled me over and took my breasts, sucked and chewed on me. Just like that.”
“I did, I did.”
“And then you wanted more.” Miranda gripped my hips and held me close to her as her hips danced against me. “You wanted to taste me.”
“Yes, I did. That’s…that’s what I wanted.” I wanted more now too. I shifted, trying to find an angle where she could rub against my clit that ached so much now, it hurt.
“And now you’re in a bad way. So horny. So hot for me. Aren’t you?” Miranda murmured in my ear and then shifted out of reach.
I nearly wailed from sheer frustration and disappointment. “Miranda!”
“Tell me what you need, Andrea,” she purred. She was recuperating quicker than I thought she would.
“You. Your touch. Your hands. Your lips. Anything as long as it’s you.” I kissed her again. “You, Miranda.”
“By all means.” Suddenly one of her hands was between my legs, two fingers inside me and her thumb against my clit. “This is how I touch myself when I’m desperate enough.” Miranda spoke calmly, as if explaining this during normal conversation, but her hand was moving with such passion and the contradiction made me tremble. “I’ve mostly used sex or masturbation as a stress relief, but you have another effect on me. You turn me on just by being in the same room, and I find myself looking at you with such hunger. I’m over fifty and never in my life have I hungered for another person, man or woman, until I met you. Your full lips, your full breasts, your soulful eyes…I hunger for all of it. For how you care…for your courage…
She rolled me on my back and shifted her caress a bit, clearly getting better access this way. I just closed my eyes and felt the orgasm I was striving for come closer and closer. Then I realized I wanted to watch her too, so I opened my eyes again.
She was on top of me, just like I had before, resting on her elbow and taking me, taking me, with the other. I only had to see the predatory gleam in her eyes, paired with the most heartbreaking tenderness to come so hard, I nearly blacked out. I cried out her name and then mainly whimpered over and over as the aftershocks tore through me.
Carefully removing her hand, Miranda hugged me close and pulled the duvet and bed sheets up around us. She smoothed down my shirt and placed me on her shoulder. I couldn’t feel the nightgown anywhere and assumed she must have pulled it off or merely lost it in the bed somewhere. I didn’t really care. I was in her arms, exhausted, sated—for now—and happier than I’d ever been.
“Thank you,” I murmured.
“Likewise,” she said quietly.
“You’re so beautiful. Amazing.”
She flinched, just a little, but enough for me to notice. “I’m glad you think so.” Her non-committal tone showed she didn’t quite believe me, but I was confident I would convince her about how I saw her with time.
“Mm. Good night, Miranda.” I wanted to say I loved her, but if she couldn’t fathom how beautiful I found her, saying ‘I love you’ could make her recoil. I just had to say something, though. “You’re in my heart.” I hoped she wouldn’t find that sappy.
Miranda pressed her lips against my temple. “As are you, in mine, Andrea. Now sleep.”
“Yes, Miranda.” I smiled so broadly in the darkness, it hurt my cheeks. And then I slept.
If I had somehow entertained the idea that the next morning would be all lovey-dovey, I was sorely mistaken. I’m not saying there wasn’t a subtle difference in how Miranda behaved, but she did act as if last night’s soaring passion hadn’t happen. Then again, she did make me toast and brought me a steaming, center-of-the-sun hot mug of coffee—then she stopped, tilted her head as if chasing some distant memory and then turned to fetch some milk and sugar.
“You take two lumps, don’t you, Andrea?” she asked, her voice, well, not soft, exactly, but very kind.
“I do,” I replied and tried to sound casual. I failed miserably of course as a huge grin split my face. She had noticed that I don’t like my coffee quite that hot, and she remembered the sugar.
“You are aware that processed sugar goes straight to your hips, don’t you?” Miranda asked, pulling me down to earth with a thud.
“I do.” Glowering, I decided to retaliate. “The very same hips you worshiped intently last night, if I recall.”
She stopped with the morning paper half open, her lips parted and her cheeks turning a lovely pink. I felt victorious and idly chewed on my toast, which of course held more processed sugar in the form of apricot marmalade.
“I worship them the way they look now. I do not wish for you to eat unhealthily, Andrea.” Miranda whipped the paper fully open and emerged herself in the news.
Of course, now it was I who became flustered and at a loss for words. In two sentences Miranda had acknowledged that she worshipped my hips—and hopefully more of me—and that it mattered to her how healthy I was. This made me think of the damn birthmark and I put down the rest of the toast. I suddenly had no appetite.
“I didn’t mean for you to stop eating altogether,” Miranda said and turned a page.
“I—I’m okay. Not so hungry.” I could feel the tug of the stitches with every breath and found it amazing that I hadn’t felt them while making love with Miranda last night. Now they stung and I just wanted to rip them out and forget about the whole biopsy.
“Andrea?” Miranda put the paper down. “What is the matter?” She frowned and pushed back her stool from the kitchen counter.
“Nothing.” I could hear how unconvincing that sounded and winced at the sight of Miranda’s darkening eyes.
“Clearly there’s something.” Miranda stood and moved to my side. She smelled so good and I wished I could bury myself in her and not care about anything else for a very long time. “Talk to me.”
“The stiches hurt,” I said, my throat aching. “It reminded me about the biopsy. It’s hard to wait. I mean, I’m probably blowing this totally out of proportion and it’s going to make me look so ridiculous when it turns out to be just a silly mold. Right?” I blinked hard several times to get a grip before I looked at her.
She was pale and her ice blue eyes were not icy, but a dark and stormy turquoise. “I’m worried to, Andrea.” She spoke quietly, her voice sounding like it might break. “I do think it will turn out to be just a ‘silly mold’, but I too fear that it might be something worse.” She cupped my shoulders. “Even if the risk of that is miniscule, I want you to know that there is no way I’m letting you go. I will move heaven and earth to find you the best doctors if need be. I will not abandon your and you will not, as some sort of heroic gesture, leave me to save me grief in advance.” She kissed me, a hard, short kiss, as if to mark me rather than console me. “I finally have you here, in my home, in my bed, and I—I can’t be expected to just let you go. You understand this, yes?”
I did. In the strangest of ways, I really did. I nodded. “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be heroic. I also believe, because I have to, that the biopsy will show it’s just an infection or something, and…I need you when I have doubts, like now.” I confessed to myself that I hadn’t been sure just how much I could trust and depend on Miranda. She wasn’t the touchy-feely type, nor was she very selfless, or openly caring. I had thought. Looking at her now, I saw a deeply concerned woman who was actually trembling.
“You will be able to count on me.” Miranda traced my lower lip with her index finger. The same finger she usually tapped her own lower lip with while contemplating world domination. “I don’t say that easily or flippantly. You can depend on me to care and to act with your best in mind.”
I needed to know. Suddenly I needed to know more than anything else. “Why?” I slipped my arms around her waist.
“Why?” She looked like she meant to say ‘are you stupid or something’, but merely closed her eyes for a moment. “Do you think I take just anyone to bed, night after night, if I don’t care about them?”
“No. I still need to know. I need you to say it, Miranda.” I knew I was pushing and part of me regretted instantly, but another part had reached a point, and a pivotal at that.
“I care about you.” Miranda looked furious as she spoke. “I care more about you than I’ve cared for another person, barring my girls, of course, which is a very different feeling.”
I just stared. She hadn’t said she loved me, and still, that’s exactly what she meant. The woman had been married twice, dated several men in between, according to Page Six, and now she said she cared more about me than any of them.
“Well?” she said, practically shaking my shoulders from sheer impatience.
“What?” Oh. Oh! I needed to reciprocate and be just as honest. This was scary and I could totally understand now why she’d glowered at me for putting her on the spot. I wrapped my arms tighter around her waist and buried my face against her neck. Inhaling her perfume, reveling in the soft and silky skin just below her jawline, I gathered my courage. “I love you, Miranda.” Relief, so overwhelming, I could taste it, ran through my system, making me slump against her.
Strong arms circled my shoulders and held me tight. She tipped my head back with a hand under my chin. “Silly girl,” she said with such tenderness it nearly made me whimper.
“I’m not silly.” I had to object. “I’m not a girl.”
“I know.” She brushed over my lips with her thumb. “You’re an amazing young woman and you’ve come so far.” She smiled suddenly, a real, wide smile. “And just so you know—no other silly girl need apply anyway.”
“You mean that position has been filled?” I returned her smile, my heart so much lighter now.
“It certainly has.” Miranda slid her hands down and in under my Tommy Hilfiger cardigan. “I wish we could stay home. You distract me to no end, but I have to go into work today.” She purse her lips, but not in the ‘you’re screwed’ way, but more in a ‘wish I could think of something’ way.
“I could come home earlier if we allowed them to send you the Book electronically.” I knew it was a longshot as this only happened when Miranda was out of town on business.
“Brilliant idea.” Miranda looked pleased. “I knew there’s a reason for keeping you around.”
“Wow. Thanks.” I pouted, but had to giggle.
“And we’re back to silly again.” Miranda rolled her eyes in the way only she could do.
“Ah. Come here.” I still hadn’t wrapped my brain around the fact that I could touch this amazing woman without actually asking. Now I cupped her cheeks and pulled her in for a soul-searing, mind-numbing kiss. I did my best to devour her mouth and massaged her breasts through the dark-mauve blouse, mindful not to wrinkle the fabric, or she’d shoot me.
Miranda gasped and gulped for air when I finally let her go. She clung to me as if her knees had lost cohesion and she couldn’t remember how to remain on her feet. “You’re—you can’t…you can’t just do that when we have to leave in two minutes.” She stared at me with eyes so dark, they looked almost purple.
“I know. I’ll suffer too, if it helps.”
“You look fantastic.” I grinned. And she did. Flustered, eyes glazed over, and her mouth without lipstick and with lips fuller than usual, she looked younger and—happier. “We both need to replace our lipsticks.”
“In the car.” Miranda stood, slightly unsteady, but with her head held high. “Let’s go, Andrea.”
“Yes, Miranda.” I stood too and though we went through the normal routine of me helping her with her coat and handing her the purse, it was very different. Our fingers kept touching and our eyes kept roaming the other’s form and getting stuck in the other’s gaze. It was going to be difficult to hide this at work.
“Hey, Six, how’s it going?” Nigel asked, making me jump. “You’re having salad? What happened to the girl who loved corn chowder?”
“I still do. Trying to eat healthy, unlike some of the girls here who doesn’t eat anything but cheese cubes or their daily dosage of almonds.” I wrinkled my nose at him.
“Fair enough. You’ve actually lost some weight the last week or so. I think you can indulge in a large bowl of chowder.” He actually looked concerned. “Six?”
“Nah, maybe tomorrow.” I gave what I hoped was a convincing smile.
“Hm. If you say so.” Nigel motioned toward a table. “Have time to join me here or are you eating at your desk.”
It was tempting to say I was having a working lunch, just to stop him from asking questions, but this was Nigel, my friend who really cared about me. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to be more open, as long as he didn’t realize the nature of my relationship with Miranda. “Grab a table. I’m just getting something to drink.”
We ate in silence for a while. The salad was okay, but not more and I kind of regretted not having the chowder. “I’ve had a procedure done the other day. That’s why my appetite hasn’t been its usual feisty self.” I spoke quietly and regarded him with caution.
“Procedure?” He blinked. “Six? You all right?”
“I’m fine. Just removed a birthmark that is being tested as we speak. A little nerve-wracking, but the doctor said I shouldn’t worry.” That wasn’t entirely true. The prick of a doctor had more or less ridiculed my concern until Miranda had virtually shoved him against the wall and made him take notice.
“God, you have to let me know as soon as they call you.” Nigel placed his hand over mine. “Do you have someone else to talk to? I’d hate for you to go through this alone. I’m always here, you know.”
“I know. And no, I’m not alone. I’ve—I have a friend who really cares and is very supportive.” I blushed and hoped Nigel would chalk that up to the topic at hand.
“I had the same thing done a few years ago—turned out to be nothing. Let’s just decide here and now that the same will be the case for you.” He squeezed my hand gently. “And tomorrow, corn chowder, right?”
“Promise.” I actually felt better and wished I’d confided in Nigel sooner. Then again, if I had, perhaps Miranda wouldn’t have noticed my distress and wouldn’t have opened up about how she felt. “Time to get back and relieve Moira. She’s been on her feet a lot the last few days. She can use the chowder too, I think.” I giggled as we both placed our trays in the wrack by the door.
“That girl is almost worse than Emily,” Nigel huffed. “I keep telling Emily if I don’t see her eating carbs at least once a day, my mentoring days are over.”
“She knows I’m mentoring her to take over after me one day. Miranda told me in no uncertain terms this was her wishes. That doesn’t mean Emily can be sure I won’t hold back unless she takes care of herself too. Serena and I made a pact.”
“Please tell me Emily is melting a bit when it comes to Serena.” I walked into the elevator and pressed the button for our floor.”
“She is. A little.”
We rode in silence and just before we reached our floor, Nigel tilted his head and looked at me with kind eyes. “Tell me—are you melting our intrepid boss yet?”
I swear I rushed out of the elevator, calling out something like “Got to run, Nigel. Talk more later!” Inwardly I muttered ‘not just today,” and hurried into the outer office area. Moira jumped up and rushed out the door as if she feared I might go out for seconds.
“Andrea?” Miranda’s voice floated toward me and I tried to collect my wits and my breath before I entered, pad in hand.
“I’m not going to be able to go home with you this evening, after all.” She shrugged, which made me wonder if that was her way of showing regret.
“Oh. Well, no matter. Then I’ll just sit around and wait for the Book—“
“No. Go home. Make sure they know to send the digital version.” She lowered her chin and scrutinized me above her reading glasses. “I want you well rested.”
I gawked. Did she just say that? A giggle forced its way up and I coughed desperately as I tried to not let it show.
Miranda looked puzzled. “Something funny, Andrea?” she asked, giving me flashbacks from the old cerulean dress-down. Yikes.
“No, no. Not at all,” I said, just like that time. “Just…coughing.”
“Why don’t I quite believe you?” Miranda pulled out her secret weapon and tapped her lower lip with her index finger.
“You off to something fun?” I asked before I remembered that questions weren’t always advisable when it came to Miranda.
“Hardly. At least I don’t call rubbing elbows with the Elias-Clarke boardroom members and their spouses.”
“Yes. Not to mention his wife. His third wife. Camilla.” Miranda actually shuddered. “I will try to do my infamous bow-in-bow-out and leave after fifteen minutes. Thank God it’s only a cocktail party.” Miranda pulled a folder from her desk. “I want you to go over this. Make sure it’s readable.”
“Certainly.” A little puzzled I took the folder and returned to my desk. Opening it, I found myself reading a feature article about body-image and bullying. I stared. Flipping through the pages, I could tell it was great on topic, but the writing in itself left a lot to be desired. Was this really going into Runway? The magazine that sported stick-thin models and advocated size two as the absolute max? In the back, some amateur photos of young women in different sizes and body types. Here, a yellow post-it note from Miranda said, ‘Professional photo shoot required.’ I was totally amazed—she really meant to do this. Then the coin dropped and I realized, from a purely selfish point of view that not only was Miranda doing something unheard of—she wanted me to edit the text. At least a first rough edit, which was still freaking awesome.
I dug into the text, using a red pen first and then typing the first draft on my computer. I saw Moira come and go with coffee and clothe items, but I only registered it in passing. I was so absorbed by the task at hand; I jumped as someone cast a shadow over my keyboard. I glanced up and saw a smirking Miranda actually lean over my desk.
“Busy, I take it?” Her blue eyes sparkled.
“Oh, this is great. I mean, the article has such promise even if it needs major work, but it’s so much fun and I haven’t done this in ages and it’s all coming back to me—“ I stopped chattering as Miranda began to chuckle. I then realized it wasn’t that horrible disdainful sound she is so good at making. Instead this soft laughter held a tender undertone and she actually brushed the tip of her index finger along my jawline. I glanced around the office, my body rigid, but Moira was out on an errand and nobody else was in sight.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it. If you do a satisfactory job, and I’m not going to be the judge of that, but the feature editor, firstly at least, you will have more work like this end up on your desk. Unless you think the added tasks will be too much when stacked upon your normal duties?” She tilted her head, challenging me.
“Oh, no. It won’t. I’ll have evenings and weekends and—“
“So that means I’ll see that much less of you at home?” Miranda pursed her lips.
“What? No! No. I mean, I can work at this anywhere. We—we could sit in your study and work together…” My voice trailed off and I blushed at my own presumptuousness. Oh, why did I let my mouth run away with me like this? I closed my eyes hard and waited for Miranda’s old snarky voice to reappear.
“Good. I’m glad you thought of that. You know I’m career driven and the first to recognize ambition, but I’m also a selfish woman who wants you with me whenever possible.”
My eyes snapped open and I saw Miranda look at me with a guarded expression in her eyes. I positively melted as it dawned on me that she was probably feeling just as apprehensive as I was, when navigating the start of our relationship. Just the mere fact that there was a relationship to navigate in the first place blew my mind.
“If that’s selfish, then that makes two of us.” Glancing at the door to make sure nobody was passing, I ran the back of my curled fingers along Miranda’s exposed lower arm.
Her eyes darkened and she straightened as she sucked her lower lip in between her teeth. “Fine. Coat. Bag.”
I gladly jumped up and grabbed her stuff, um, things, and helped her into her coat. Normally, she loathed for her assistants to attempt such a thing, but as it was only the two of us there, she let me. I took the chance to inhale her scent and let my fingers caress the impossibly soft skin at the back of her neck, just beneath her hairline.
“Andrea…” Her voice so husky, it was almost hard to hear what she was saying, Miranda shuddered. “I’ll see you at home later.”
“Absolutely.” I already looked forward to seeing Miranda in whatever she was going to wear to the cocktail party. I confess I also nourished some pretty heated fantasy about being allowed to undress her. Perhaps some of my less than pure thoughts showed in my expression because Miranda looked at me for a few moments longer and her fingers weren’t entirely steady as she shouldered her purse and left the office.
I looked down at my keyboard and forced back a squeal of excitement. Good thing I did, too, as Nigel chose that moment to enter the outer office, grinning broadly.
“Miranda’s not here. You just missed her.”
“No, I didn’t. I ran into her in the corridor. She looked—radiant.” He smirked. “As do you, come to think of it.”
“I’ve been given a story to edit,” I said, thinking quickly. “No wonder I’m radiant. This is why I came to New York.”
“Really?” Nigel’s eyebrows rose to new heights. “Who gave you that task? Clair, down at the feature department?”
“Um. No. Miranda tossed it at me after lunch. Sort of as a test, I think.”
“Miranda? Aha.” The smirked returned. “Well now.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I rarely get angry, but when I do, even my childhood friends claim I scare them shitless. Nigel was no exception. He actually took one step backward.
“Nothing untoward,” he said quickly. “I just think it’s great that Miranda is exploring your potential. You have a lot to offer. Clever of her to, eh, see that. Tap into it.”
“Is this related to that question in the elevator?” I was still not happy. “About me melting Miranda, or something?”
“I—I guess.” Admitting defeat, Nigel sat down on the corner of my desk. “I’m not saying it’s obvious, but I’ve known Miranda for many years—long enough to forgive her in Paris and move on. I’d like to think you and I are friends and that we understand each other, Andy. And when two people I care about seem to, what shall I call it, gravitate toward each other like the two of you have, I’m bound to notice. I chalked your feelings for her up to hero worship, but I should’ve known better than to sell you short and think you’re like any of the girls in Miranda’s employ over the years. They all develop crushes on her, sooner or later.” Nigel patted my rigid shoulder. “You, my dear, are different. You look at her as if the survival of your immortal soul depended on her.”
I nearly said ‘don’t be ridiculous’, but that would have been too obvious, so I merely shook my head. “I’m not sure what you expect me to say.” I wasn’t going to outright lie, but I wasn’t giving him anything for free either.
“Oh, you don’t have to say much. I can read a lot in your eyes, even when you’re mad at me, like now.” He smiled gently. “Don’t be mad. I’m on your side. And hers. Always.”
Calming down a little bit, I started to think I may be overreacting. “I’m not mad. Not really.” I tugged at my fingers, something I’ve realized made Miranda wince, but it was a hard habit to kick. “I’m just afraid—for her sake.” Which was true, but I was also terrified that something would come up that destroyed this tentative, fragile start of a relationship I couldn’t even have dreamed of only a couple of weeks ago. If that happened, and I could’ve prevented it, I would be devastated beyond repair. I just knew it.
“Protective to a fault,” Nigel said kindly. “Oddly enough, I see the same trend in her, regarding you. That’s reassuring as my first instinct was to grab you and hide you in my loft until you were over her.”
Over her? I nearly guffawed at the preposterous concept. “Really?” It was rather sweet of Nigel to care about me that much. Or about Miranda? Well, both of us, I assumed.
“Really. But that’s a moot point, really. Somehow, the idea of the two of you—“ He stopped talking and I heard why. Clackers approaching, as in Moira and another young woman. “We’ll talk more later. Just know I’m here for you both, all right?”
“Gotcha.” I could smile honestly now as I had relaxed.
“Good luck with the editing. You deserve it.”
He rapped his fingers on my desk and then left with a kind goodbye to Moira who was already busily typing away.
I was sitting cross-legged on the floor beneath the couch in the den, enjoying a crackling fire as I worked on the editing. I had tried to stay away from the article for a whole hour, thinking I should leave it be to simmer in my mind, but as it turned out, it was way too much fun.
A key in the door and then the six digits beeping from the house alarm announced Miranda’s presence. I lazily stayed where I was, hoping she would come and look for me in here where it was all so cozy and warm. To make sure she’d end up here eventually, I had kidnapped her laptop where a digital copy of the Book awaited her perusal and comments.
The nearing of high heels made my stomach tremble and I clenched my thighs. Then there she was, standing in the doorway where the flames cast an amazing glow on her. The dark golden-brown cocktail dress, ending just above her knees, fit her perfectly. Spaghetti straps kept it in place over her breasts and the lace bodice accentuated her thin waist, which swelled into perfect hips. She wore a thin, organza shawl draped over her upper arms and the Prada shoes were perfectly matched to the dress. Her hair was swept more backward and to the side than usual and my fingers itched to liberate her iconic bangs. Still, this stricter look was very sexy also, no doubt about it. My core was already humming and all I could do was licking my lips as I stared.
“You look positively voracious, darling,” Miranda said and dropped the shawl in a small armchair. “And you have a fire going. That’s nice. Any wine left?” To my shock, she simply kicked off her shoes and knelt next to me. Sitting down beside me, leaning against the couch as she sighed deeply, Miranda tipped her head sideways, resting it on my shoulder.
“Tired?” I asked and refilled my wine glass and handed it to her. No way in hell I was getting up to find her a new glass when she was sitting like this. Miranda took the glass and sipped it.
“A little bit,” she said, answering my question. “I had to stay longer than I planned. I despise having to go through endless small-talk with people I don’t care for and that I will most likely never meet again. Still, some of them are the wives or husbands of the members of the board, so I had to play nicely in this particular sandbox.”
I didn’t envy her this part of her work. As much as she loved, lived, and breathed everything Runway, she hated the politics and schmoozing. I carefully wrapped my arm around her shoulders and she leaned into me, nuzzling my neck. “So wonderful to be home. With you.” She pressed her lips against me and then sucked gently. Nipping gently, she hummed and sighed contentedly.
“I’m so glad you’re home too. You look so beautiful. You totally rock that dress.”
“I do?” Tilting her head back she smiled. “Once I’ve gone over the Book, I’m going to need your assistance to unzip it.”
“Agreed. No problem.” The day I wouldn’t be interested in disrobing Miranda was coming around just about when hell was inhabited by flying, frozen pigs.
We worked sitting on the floor, both of us, and I finished slightly before Miranda. This gave me the chance to study her surreptitiously, or so I thought. After a minute or so, Miranda began to close the lid to her laptop.
“If you insist on this blatant scrutiny of my chest and legs, you have to face the consequences, Andrea.” She whipped off her reading glasses.
“Consequences? I—I was only looking!”
“Then you must be quite the sorceress because I felt your glances as clearly as if you’d touched me with your hands.” She rose on her knees and then stood in one elegant, fluid movement. Extending a hand to me, she helped me on my feet.
“I wasn’t—I mean, I didn’t know that. That glances could be felt.” I stepped closer. “God, you’re hot in that dress,” I blurted out without thinking.
Miranda’s lips formed a perfect ‘o’ and then she merely took my by the hand and began walking. “Why thank you, Andrea. Flattery will get your everywhere. Or at least it will get you into my bed.”
My knees nearly gave in at the way she purred those words. Leading me up the stairs, I knew I wasn’t sleeping in any stupid guestroom. No, I was on my way to that blissful place with the crème, blue and gold colors. As we stood inside the door to Miranda’s bedroom, I pulled her in for a kiss. I should’ve known better.
Miranda allowed our lips to meet very briefly and then she closed the door and pushed me up against it. She helped my hands find the hook that held her robe and said, “Hold on to that. Don’t let go.”
I clung to the hook, trembling all over with anticipation. Miranda took one step back and began to undress.
If anyone had ever tried to convince me that Miranda Priestly would do a virtual strip tease in front of me—meant for me alone—I would’ve called the men in white coats bringing straightjackets right away. Such delusions cannot be a sign of good mental health.
And still, here she was. This gorgeous, intimidatingly beautiful woman, slowly unzipping that sexy dress, which conveniently had the zipper located under her left arm. Once it was completely open, she pushed the spaghetti straps down, one by one. She didn’t do anything exaggeratingly slow, but it was not fast enough for me. I swallowed against my dry throat and clung to that hook just above me. Miranda’s grey, silk robe hung there, fragrant with her special scent, and that combined with the vision of her shimmying out of the cocktail dress was enough for my knees to weaken.
“Oh, God,” I murmured.
Miranda stood before me in nothing but a black La Perla lingerie set and black stockings. She had kicked off her Prada pumps and that somehow made the look more real and sexy.
“You look like you approve.” Miranda purred and reached behind her. “Maybe I should keep it on?”
“No.” My response was instinctive. As enticing as she looked in her lingerie, a naked Miranda was no contest. Last night I had only caught glimpses in the dark, but now, in the soft light of the nightstand lamps, I could see everything as she slowly revealed herself.
“Well, then.” Placing a foot on the stool in front of her vanity, she began rolling down her stockings, one by one.
“Oh, damn.” I was shaking now. I clung to the hook and knew I could orgasm all on my own, without needing a single touch, if she kept that up.
The garter belt went next and then she pushed down her panties and tossed them on top of the pile of clothes to her left. “Now, you.” It wasn’t a question. Miranda approached me, pressed her naked body against my fully clothed one, and then yanked my button-down shirt out of my slacks. She didn’t rip the buttons, though I wouldn’t have cared if she did, but instead unbuttoned them so fast, she might as well have. “Lower your arms.” She pushed the shirt off. My bra proved too easy, clearly. Hooked in the front, its cups fell apart as Miranda unhooked it. She then raised my hands to the hook again. “Don’t let go, unless I tell you to.” Unfastening my slacks, she shoved them down together with my black boy briefs.
I was trembling all over, my breathing chopped up in oxygen-depriving gasps. Everywhere her hands touched me in passing as she removed my clothes; small, sparkling, crackling fires erupted in their wake.
Then I was as naked as she was and she moved in for a full body embrace. I began to lower my arms, wanting to hold her tight so badly, I forgot.
“Ah-ah.” Miranda took a step back, pursing her lips. “The hook, Andrea.”
“I can’t keep standing,” I confessed. “My knees are so weak. And shaking.”
She looked oddly pleased even if it meant I couldn’t follow her instructions. “Then we have to improvise. I want your full attention…” She glanced around the room and then over to the bed. “Yes, that will work too.” She took me by the hand and led me to the bed. Motioning for me to lie down in the center, I sank down among the soft bedding and pillows. Miranda crawled in after me, like a feline on the prowl; a white panther-like creature with iridescent blue eyes glittering toward me. Several mood lights were still on in the room and they rendered everything looking so soft and velvety. I looked up at her, my queen, my everything. She reminded me of an avenging angel where she hovered above me, her eyes scanning every part of me. Miranda licked her lips and then dipped her head and kissed me.
I wanted to wrap my arms around her neck, but she would have none of that. Instead she slid her hands along my arms until she reached my wrists. Taking them gently, she pulled them above my head and made me hold on to the ornamented headboard. This opened my body up even further for her exploration and it seemed to create more moisture between my legs and more tremors in every single one of my muscles.
“Now, Andrea. Last night we made love sort of out of the blue. Our bodies responded and our minds and hearts as well. No time for planning or asking important questions.”
She wanted to ask me question, now? I stared at her, mouth no doubt agape. “Mir-Miranda?”
“Yes?” She looked at me closely. “Don’t look so stunned. Isn’t it prudent to know more about your lover? What you like, or don’t like? What is your favorite position or, for instant?”
My head spun. “With you? Any position whatsoever. As long as there is a position with you, that’s my favorite.” I spoke from the heart. I think Miranda could tell, because her eyes softened even more and she aligned her body with mine so I could feel her heat from head to toe.
“All right. All positions are good as long as I’m part of the equation.” She chuckled. “Well?”
What? Trying to catch up, I wracked my brain, trying to figure out what she wanted from me now. Oh. Oh! “What positions are your favorites and what positions do you hate?”
“I like any position with you that is humanly possible. Don’t ask me to try anything upside down.” She smiled, but her eyes flashed a warning.
As if. “And none that you really don’t like then?”
Something dark flickered across her face. “Well. Perhaps with you it might be different, but before, being taken from behind has felt…disconcerting.”
I wanted to sock it to whoever had hurt or scared Miranda while doing it from behind. That position was actually one of my favorites, to be honest, but I also knew that it took a lot of trust and affection for me to be able to relax and allow it. “I would never do that unless you agreed and that goes for anything.”
“I know, Andrea.” Miranda smiled broadly. “I do.” She tilted her head and nuzzled my ear and then down my neck. “You get goose bumps when I do this. Feel good?”
“Oh, God, yes. When you do that nipping with your lips…yes, like that. Just like that.” I arched and tried to feel more of her. “I love that.”
“Good. As do I.” Miranda kept nipping and nuzzling along my neck and the upper part of my chest.
My breasts ached to be touched. Wait-a-goddamn-minute. Didn’t she more or less tell me to tell her what I like? God, I could be such an idiot. “I love when you suck on my nipples and—yes!” I pressed my head back into the pillows as Miranda closed her lips around my left nipple. The other one was not abandoned as she plucked at it and rolled it between her fingertips. Her mouth was so warm, and just the right mix of gentle and rough. Her teeth made me just nervous enough to send more moisture down between my legs, but I knew she’d never injure me. Still, the subtle scraping of those perfect teeth rendered me breathless and I could barely whimper.
“Go on, Andrea.” Miranda spoke around my well-tended nipple.
“Ohh…I—I like when you touch me, I mean, my clit.” I knew I was crimson and it wasn’t for being prudish. I just couldn’t quite wrap my brain around using intimate words like that around Miranda of all people. Still, her actions, and the way she willingly and with such passion feasted on my body, sent a clear message that I should just ignore her Snow Queen image and see the woman. The woman I…The woman I loved.
Just as Miranda pushed her fingers in between my labia, the realization hit me, the truth that could mean lifelong happiness or life altering heartbreak. I had nudged the idea before, the first time we made love, but know I knew without a doubt. I loved her. Not merely ‘the first woman I was in love with’, or something less earth-shattering like that—no that was selling this emotion way too short. This was life-changing…and it was one of those things that make you take stock of your life and see it with new eyes. I loved Miranda Priestly the way you love the person whom your life will never be the same without…whose presence makes everything and everyone else less colorful and less wondrous. She was the one. The one who is the filter which brings wonder to every experience, whether she is present or not. She is that person. My person. I trembled and kept staring at her.
“Andrea?” Miranda pulled back a little, merely cupping me now, a concerned frown between her eyebrows.
“Oh, Miranda,” was all I could manage. “Miranda.”
“Did I hurt you?” Pulling her hand back completely, she slid on top of me, cupping my cheeks with both hands. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Everything is…is perfect.” I couldn’t tell her. Could I? I trembled and merely looked up at her, into those sharp eyes that right now were softness mixed with worry.
“You went all rigid, darling. Do you want to stop?”
My terror filled happiness made me act. “No,” I said firmly and wrapped my arms around her neck and back. I rolled us, ending up on top. Now I couldn’t help but smile broadly. “I do definitely not want to stop.” I kissed my way down her neck, up to her mouth, where I spent a good amount of time, my tongue dancing with hers. Then I resumed my exploration and moved down toward her breasts. “Your turn.”
“My…what? Oh.” Miranda was gasping so hard now, and trembling just as much as I had done just moments ago. “Tug at them. With your lips. Your teeth.”
Oh, yes, I could do that. I sucked the right nipple into my mouth and massaged it with my tongue to get it really wet and pliable. Not sure if it became very pliable as my actions made it even harder, but she tasted so good. I did as she liked it, tugged at her, nipped and pulled gently. Her hands were in my hair and she guided me, and I allowed it.
Then, when both nipples were dark red from my attention, I kissed my way down her stomach. I was going to show my love in how well I loved her. I couldn’t tell her, not yet, as she might just say something, Miranda-style, that tarnish this innocent and amazing moment. It was rather ironic that the person I loved this way was also the person who could place a sharp Prada heel on the feeling before it fully bloomed and thus deflated it.
“Tell me, Miranda. Do you like when I go down on you?”
“Oh, God, yes.”
“Then I want you to tell me what to do. Tell me where to place my tongue.”
She moaned and spread her legs wide to accommodate me. I made myself comfortable with the help of a couple of smaller pillows.
“Flatten your tongue against my clit, but only massage it gently,” Miranda whispered.
I hummed in delight and did as she said. Her clit was actually quivering and the wetness Miranda’s body produced seeped down to coat her thighs and my chin.
“That’s it. That’s it.” Miranda moved her hips in a small circle. She must have realized after a while that I wasn’t going to do anything different until she told me to. “Two fingers. Inside. Curl them upward.”
Gladly, I entered her; my fingers easily went inside, as if pulled in by Miranda’s body. I curled my fingers and found that rough little patch. I knew from my own experience that it needed rather firm pressure, so that’s what I did. I kept massaging her clit and prodded her g-spot with insistent fingertips.
“Andrea!” Miranda arched off the bed as she came, convulsing and crying out in wave after wave. I let go of her clit and eased the pressure inside her, but waited until she was done shuddering before I slowly pulled my hand free. “Damn…” Miranda said huskily.
“Yes. Damn.” I climbed up along her and straddled her right thigh. “Raise your leg, Miranda,” I ordered softly. “I’m going to ride you because I’m burning up. I have to come.”
“You can ride, but I’m going to have my way just the same,” Miranda said. Her body was still trembling, but she pressed her fingertips in between my labia again and when I started riding her thigh, two of her fingers, slick with my moisture, ran on both sides of my clit. This pushed at the hood, exposed my clit to her slick thigh and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold off…and I couldn’t even remember why the hell I should. I squeezed my thighs around hers and bore down on her fingers. The burning sensation was flooded when the orgasm hit and sparkles travelled through my system, originating from my lower belly and spreading until they stole the last of my strength. My arms gave in and I barely managed to land half off Miranda so I wouldn’t crush her.
Her arms came around me in a fierce embrace. “Tell me you’re fine.”
“I’m fine. I’m all right.”
“Tell me you’re not leaving.”
“I’m not leaving.”
“Promise I won’t be able to scare you away.”
I could not tell she was really getting worked up. I rose on my elbow and looked down at her. “You still intimidate me every now and then, but you won’t be able to scare me away.”
“Not even if I was my most horrible self?” She ruffled my bangs and looked so intently into my eyes; I wondered what she was searching for.
“You’re most horrible self isn’t all that bad, Miranda.” I smiled. I loved her so much and I would tell her soon. Perhaps she could never love me the same way, but the way she spoke and needed reassuring, told me she cared more for me and about me that she did most other people, not counting her children of course.
“You probably haven’t seen the worst part of me yet.” She drew a deep, trembling sigh.
“It doesn’t matter.” I rearranged her hair and made her s-shaped lock retake its rightful place on her forehead. “All I have to do is think of how you made me feel tonight and since I want to feel like that again and again and again, I will overlook your worst behavior.”
Miranda’s eyes lit up. “Andrea Sachs, you’re simply astonishing.”
Those were huge words coming from the woman who figured ‘that dress isn’t entirely atrocious’ is high praise.
“Miranda Priestly, you’re pretty fucking awesome yourself.” I laughed at her demonstratively rolling of the eyes.
Yes, I would cling to this moment when I knew that I hadn’t merely fallen in love, but she was the one. She would have to come up with something really bad for me to forget how I felt tonight.
“I have to go to Chicago for two nights.” Miranda put her coffee mug down and regarded me with flat eyes.
“Oh, yeah? I mean, yes?” I tried to decipher why this would bring on such a somber tone and lifeless glance. I pulled out my notebook, but soon understood that this wasn’t the correct move as Miranda glared at it.
“I’m not telling you as my assistant.” She sounded affronted. “I’m letting you know as…as my…” Her voice trailed off and she flushed a lovely pink.
“As your girlfriend?” I filled in the word, taking pity on her.
“I suppose. Yes.”
She supposed? God, this woman was a tight bundle of yarn sometimes. A yarn with snags, knots, and frail parts that could snap at any given moment if I wasn’t careful. I often compared coexisting with Miranda like navigating a minefield, but the yarn analogy was just as apt. “So, you’ll be gone for a couple of nights and I will miss you a lot, but then you’ll be home.”
“You don’t understand.” Looking frustrated now, Miranda sipped from the mug again, swallowing the searing hot beverage without even blinking. “This is a business trip, but one where bringing an assistant isn’t warranted. I still want you to come.”
Oh, this was different. My mind went into deciphering-Miranda-overload. “You want me to come, but you’re apprehensive about bringing me as your guest. Hm. But if it’ll be problematic for you, why don’t I stay home. It’s only two days.” I ventured a quick caress along her jawline with my fingertips. Even if we tore up the sheets in bed, touching her in passing, like a real girlfriend does, was still not something that came naturally.
“Use your head, or what’s left of it, Andrea.” She placed her mug on the kitchen counter with a worrisome cracking sound and glared at me with darkening eyes. “What if your test results come back and I’m not here?”
Ah. Okay. The yarn unraveled and my sluggish-early-morning-brain kicked in. Gearing it up a few notches, I took Miranda’s hand. I could tell she was torn between yanking it free and pulling me closer. I made the decision for her as I stood and wrapped my free arm around her waist. “I would love to come with you to Chicago. Not only to be with you if my results come in, but because I want to be where you are. Sound pretty clingy, huh?” I tried to smile self-deprecatingly. Not sure it was a smile at all since my lips trembled. How did I go from trying to reassure Miranda to being needy?
“I see.” The words came out short-cropped, but with tenderness lurking behind them. Her eyes had softened to a gentle blue-gray, a nuance I’d come to associate with what I thought was the genuine Miranda. “Not clingy at all. At least, no more than my wish for you to join me. Do you understand that if you come, we would have to be discreet?”
“Of course.” I frowned. Did she really think I’d be careless, like tattooing her name on my arms or something? “I wouldn’t be demonstrative if that’s what you mean.”
“No. No. Naturally, you’re far too…too…”
Meek? I was a little angry now, but tried to hide it. “As much as I want to be with you, I don’t want you to feel you can’t leave me by myself out of some misguided sense of duty.” The words were wrong, and they would ignite her as soon as they were out of my mouth.
“Did you just say misguided sense of duty?” Miranda’s lips were a thin line now and she looked like boss-Miranda, witch-on-wheels, rather than the Miranda whose bed I shared. Perhaps not much longer, judging from the way her blue eyes turned to opaque marbles.
“I didn’t mean—”
“Yes you did. Somehow, in that little head of yours, your synapses construed something, or misconstrued, for all I know, something I said. Here I am trying to figure out a way to bring you to Chicago because I worry about you—and you—you accuse me of being misguided.”
“And you accuse me of not even having half a brain cell,” I said, my own ire irrepressible now.
“How you can you possibly interpret anything I said to mean that, I have no idea.” Miranda squared her shoulders and laced her fingers hard together. “I’m waiting for you to enlighten me.”
I had started to feel guilty for overreacting and then she had to say something in that superior voice of her, so sure she was infallible, it drove me right up the wall. “Why should I bother?” I asked through clenched teeth. “You’re so perfect and know everything anyway, and so damn sure you’re always right, why would a lowly half-a-brain-cell kind of person ever have anything to add to enlighten you?”
Miranda’s eyes reduced to narrow slits as she tilted her head. “Let’s back up this conversation since it’s leading to nothing but mayhem if it progresses any further.”
I could tell she was trying to recall our words and no doubt she would soon be more certain than before that she was right, I was wrong, and now she’d toss me out on my ears. I hated the gloom that had lowered itself around me like a soggy, cold blanket.
“Everything was all right until I asked you if you understood about the importance of discretion.” Tapping her lower lip, Miranda kept going. “Then you snapped at me and I didn’t stop to think, but answered back in the same manner.” Miranda rose to cup my chin. “Guess I’m not used to our equality. I talk a good game, but—I slip into our old roles, don’t I?”
I stared. No, even more so, I gaped at her. If there was one thing I certainly wasn’t used to, it was Miranda considering she could be in the wrong. Time for me to step up. “I’m sorry I was so testy.” Placing my hand on top of hers, I blinked at the burning sensation behind my eyelids.
“We’re still trying to navigate these unknown waters,” Miranda said and managed to sound rather flippant. Her once again radiant blue eyes spoke contradicted this. “I apologize.” Her voice was low, but the words unmistakable and honest. “I do worry about scaring you off.” She pressed her fingertips on one hand to her temple and kept her other hand on my shoulder. The touch warmed through my shirt and the tormented look on her face, as if she was developing a headache or something, made it easy for me to pull her in between my legs where I sat on the tall breakfast nook stool.
“You’re right. We’re navigating,” I said and kissed her other temple. “And I seem to do it pretty badly, to boot.” I moved my hands up and down her back, careful not to wrinkle her silk blouse. She was trembling and required more damage control. “I want to come with you. I’m aware how discreet we have to be and if that means my hiding in the hotel room the entire time, so be it. Staying here on my own is not appealing. Not when I can be with you.”
Miranda relaxed little by little until she leaned fully against me. Her scent did its famous wrap-around-Andy move, something that made me start to tremble, but for a whole different reason.
“You’ve become so important to me, Andrea,” Miranda murmured into my hair. “It’s not something I’d ever believed would happen, nor had I ever imagined being attractive to someone could be this frightening. It’s as if I hold my breath around you half the time and then I forget to exhale and—” She shrugged. “I don’t particularly enjoy being afraid.”
“Me either.” I moved my fingers with great caution into her hair, not mussing it or destroying her iconic do, merely holding her in place so she would look me in the eyes. “I’m afraid of losing you too. There are a million reasons why this can go wrong from you end as well. Your children, your work, your status in society, your—”
“Stop.” Miranda placed her fingertips against my lips. “Yes, I know all that. All potential bomb scares that can screw things up. Try to focus on the part of me that is the most important for this to…to work. I’ll do the same.” She kissed me lightly. “Focus on my heart.”
It was my turn to lose my ability to inhale and exhale or even grasp simple things as remaining upright on the stool. As I started to slip sideways, Miranda wrapped her arms around me and held me in a firm embrace. She was so fucking amazing. We had yet to say the words, the real words, but offering up her heart, she all but hinted at it.
“Yes, please. Focus on my heart.” I took one of her hands and pressed it in between my breasts. “It’s right here.”
“Good to know,” Miranda whispered.
We stood and sat there for a few minutes, or that’s what I estimate in retrospect, and then we untangled and got ready for work. I walked behind her out to the town car where Roy held the door open for Miranda. As I rounded the vehicle, he was suddenly at that door, holding it up for me as well. I blinked in surprise, and at how fast he moved, and thanked him.
Even Roy seemed to be aware of the changed status between Miranda and me.
The phone rang and I answered, expecting it to be Nigel, wanting me to do yet another favor for him as his own assistant was ill and Emily was not in the building. I didn’t even look at the display and jumped when it turned out to be my mother saying, “Finally you answer your phone, Andy.”
I grew rigid and pushed the chair back to stand up and leave the outer office. That’s when it dawned on me that Moira was on her break and I had to man the other phones. “Hi, mom.” I crossed my fingers and tucked them in under my thigh.
“Why haven’t you returned any or our calls?” My mother spoke in succinct, choppy syllables, a true sign she wasn’t happy. “Is that too much, you think, for a daughter to do?”
“I have worked a lot,” I said, my voice annoyingly weak. “And I’ve emailed you several times.”
“Emailed? So that’s what we get now. Emails. I need to hear your voice every so often. Your father has been worried sick—”
“Dad’s ill?” I asked, my back going ramrod straight. “What’s wrong?”
“No, no, not ill that way. You’ve worried him enough to give him migraines and his gastritis is acting up.”
So I was to blame because my father had migraines and stomach issues. My own stomach rolled and I tried to figure out the best way to end the conversation. As it turned out, mom had other ideas.
“We decided to come for a visit. I have to make sure you’re not lying to us.”
“About what?” Her words shocked me to the core.
“You have acted strangely ever since Nate left you, which must have been devastating for you. The fact that he’s so happy now must sting even more.”
“I don’t care about that. I mean, I care that he’s happy, that’s a good thing, but I’m happy as well.” The words left my lips before I had time to edit them. I had just meant to stop my mother to go on her usual ‘poor you who lost Nate’ rampage.
“You are?” She sounded dumbfounded, which wasn’t very flattering. Was I this much of a failure in her eyes, that my finding some happiness was that unfathomable to my own mother?
“You’ve met another boy? A man?”
“No. I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m still happy.”
“Oh, Andy,” the enormous pity in my mother’s voice made me so angry. “You have to tell yourself that, I understand. It’s good to keep your spirits up, but it must be so lonely in that cold, big city.”
As a matter of fact, it had been cold and lonely until everything changed with Miranda—it was anything but. Still it peeved me that my mother in a sense was right, even if she still got it all wrong.
“No matter what, I’m happy, I’m doing fine, and I’m extremely busy. I can’t take private calls during work hours, so we’ll have to talk more some other time.” I realized this would not go down well.
“But we have to plan for our visit.” Mom raised her voice. “Andy!”
“I’m off on a business trip soon, but after that we can talk about it.” I was merely postponing this issue, but there was no way I would have my parents descend on me when everything else was hanging in the balance.
“A business trip—where to—”
“Hey, got to go, mom. Give dad my best. Tell him I hope he feels better.” I had a brilliant idea, or so I thought. “He should be in better shape before he flies anyway. Bye, mom. Love you.” I hung up after barely listening to her saying an irritated good bye.
I put the cell phone down, ever so carefully, as if it were an explosive device ready to go off. Taking a deep breath, and then another one, I wondered how much of my end of the conversation Miranda had overheard. As I glanced up, I saw her standing in the doorway, a frown marring her forehead.
“Are you all right?” She held on to the doorframe and quite hard too since her fingertips were white.
“Yes. Just my mother trying to run my life as usual.”
“She was under the impression you have a new boyfriend.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes. I told her I don’t.” I had to smile. “I wonder what she’d have said if I told her I have a girl—” Stopping there, I bit my lip. Me and my big mouth.
“A girlfriend?” Miranda whispered. “Is that what we are?”
I wasn’t sure if the prospect, or the term, met with her approval or not. Digging for courage, I nodded. “Yes. I would like to think so.”
Miranda mulled this over and the office was suddenly without any other sounds than the thundering heart in my chest. It pounded in my ears and I wiped my damp palms against my trousers, out of sight of Miranda.
“Yes. You’re right, as immature as the term might be.”
“There are other terms that fit.” I don’t know where I found the courage, but I kept going, whispering as well. “Lover. Mistress.”
Miranda’s eyes grew wide and her glance flickered to the closed door to the corridor. “I like the connotation of the previous better,” she murmured and ran her hand up and down the door frame in a slow caress. “Lover.”
And now I couldn’t care less how mother tried to run my life, or how her words had upset me. I saw nothing but Miranda, standing there with the light from her office windows illuminating her hair. Her hand moved up and down still and it was mesmerizing. Her murmur echoed in my mind. ‘Lover.’ She liked ‘lover.’
So did I.
A/N: A shorter update as Andy and Miranda are in transit to Chicago. Thought you might enjoy a tidbit until I go into what takes place in the Windy City.
The plane en route to O’Hare Airport lifted an early, misty morning from La Guardia. The flight would take about two and a half hour, but considering the time zones, we’d be in Chicago shortly after 10 PM. Miranda had the window seat, as usual, and I was busy doing what I always do; making sure Miranda was comfortable and had everything she needed right at her fingertips.
“Really, Andrea,” Miranda said and shook her head. “This sets a terrible precedence for you as my…lover.” She spoke quietly, but lowered her voice even more as she forced out the last word. “You’re not my assistant on this trip.”
“I know that and so do you. They don’t. You’re recognizable enough for it to look weird if you ordered your own coffee.” I was right. The flight attendants, all lovely, stylish women who wore applied makeup like experts, and all part of the demographics that religiously read Runway, no, not just read it. Studied it like a bible. As Nigel used to as a young boy. No way they clueless to her identity.
“All right.” Miranda smirked. “I need a blanket, Andrea.”
“Sure,” I said and looked around for one of the business class flight attendants. The one working our aisle, a tall, lanky blond, saw me searching for her and came hurrying through the aisle.
“A blanket for Ms. Priestly, please,” I said and smiled politely.
“Certainly.” To my astonishment, the flight attendant gave me a slow, almost flirty, smile. Gaping after her, I heard Miranda mutter something.
“Sorry?” I turned my head back. “I didn’t catch that.”
“Too busy looking at that woman, no doubt.” Oh, no. She pursed her lips. Now what?
“Looking at whom? The flight attendant?”
“The one who devoured you with her eyes. Yes, her.” Miranda’s eyes turned into narrow slits, but I also saw how her lips twitched in the way they did when she tried not to laugh.
“She did gaze at me funny, didn’t she?” I shrugged. “That’s how women and men regard you. Strange to have it directed at me.”
“Keep dressing this way and you have to get used to it.” Miranda let her eyes scan my body, from the tan slack, to the crème blouse. She seemed to get stuck where my statement necklace rested against my upper chest.
“Here you go, ma’am.” The flight attendant came back with a cashmere blanket. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, thank you,” I managed, trying not to laugh. “We’re fine.”
“Turn off the light. I’m going to rest for a bit.” Miranda spread the blanket over her legs and half of it ended up on me.
“Are you all right?” Miranda not taking every second available to work? Unheard of. I studied her. Just before I turned off the reading light and closed the window cover, I thought I’d saw her blush, but I could be wrong.
“I’m fine. Just tired.” The business class are was dark and half empty. Nobody sat in the seats on either sides of us.
I closed my eyes too for a moment, glad the blanket covered my legs as well. So, my outfit of the day pleased Miranda. I’ve grown accustomed to having her scrutinize my appearance every day, and those days she forgot or missed it, I felt bereaved. Realizing it was silly since she did it to make sure I didn’t embarrass her, but now I wondered when her motive changed. I had to ask her about that.
Miranda shifted next to me and turned half toward me, her eyes still closed. I took the opportunity to study her, a favorite pastime of mine. Especially when she slept, or rested, as her face relaxed and she looked so much softer. Her lips barely parted and her muscles not tense or strained. She carried such a burden and I feared having a relationship with me would add to this. Still, and it dawned on me as a surprise, I had seen her more content and relaxed the last few days than ever before. Perhaps the fact that she knew, well sort of knew, how I felt made her less stressed?
A hand snuck onto my thigh, making me jump.
“Shh. Be still,” Miranda's voice was a mere breath. Her hand ran up and down on the inside of my thigh.
“What are you doing?” I whispered. I had begun to tremble and chastised myself for being so easy when it came to this woman. Was she going for the freaking Mile High Club?
“Just relax.” Miranda moved closer. She pushed the large blanket firmly around me, managing to stroke my breasts in the process. “Don’t want you to be cold.”
Cold? Was she crazy? I was on fire. That’s when she popped open the button of my slacks. I gasped and then had to force myself to breathe normally, which remained difficult as I needed to hyperventilate. My legs shook and I tried to do as she said and relaxed, but how did she think that was even possible?
“Mm. Lovely.” Miranda slipped her hand into my slacks and the Lycra in the fabric stretched enough for her to enter my lace panties. Purring close to inaudibly, she slid her fingertips in between my wet folds. She hummed now, and this made me nervous, so I acted on impulse, doing what I could to silence her. I kissed her.
The humming continued into my mouth where it fizzled up inside my brain. There, it bounced around, a tiny persistent firecracker, in and out of the winding grey matter until all I cared about involved kissing, her fingers, slick folds, and the way she worked my clit between her fingers. I was totally panicking now because at this rate, I would come soon. In an aisle chair. In business class. With Miranda Priestly. And everybody would hear me wail—kissing or no kissing.
As if Miranda knew, of course she knew, she slowed down, her lips a fraction of an inch from mine. “You have to be so very quiet, darling,” she whispered. “You’re going to come and you’re not going to make a sound, right?”
Flashback. “You can do anything, right?” I closed to swallowed my tongue. “Sch-sure.” What the hell was I supposed to say? I dug my fingertips into the padded armrest on my left, as Miranda had removed the one between us. Naturally. On my right, I had to settle for holding on to her thigh and had to focus to not give her the bruises of a lifetime.
Her breath hitched as I rubbed at her thigh through the skirt. This was very gratifying.
She retaliated by pressing against my clit in firm, tight circles. I dug my teeth into my lower lip and managed to stay quiet. I turned my head and pressed it against Miranda’s neck when I recognized a whimper was about to erupt, which it did, into her hairline.
“Mm. Yes.” Miranda shuddered, several times, but it still took a few moments for me to realize this had made her come as well.
I pulled back and stared at her. She pressed her lips to mine, licking my lower lip. “Don’t bite down so hard next time. You’ll give yourself a bruise, or worse, you can break the skin.” Kisses meant to soothe landed on my lips and I had to keep her still and kiss her back before she reignited me from sheer frustration.
Miranda pulled her hand out of my pants and left the zipping and buttoning up to me. She used her hand-wipes, smiling angelically at me while doing so. Pressing the button on her other armrest she lowered the backrest and closed her eyes.
I just sat there, my body buzzing still, my mind reeling as I tried to fathom what this woman next to me had just orchestrated. To think Miranda could be this daring, adventurous lover, was, until now, unimaginable. Had she ever done something like this? Was she always this passionate, this greedy? I glanced at her where she lay, looking fast asleep. That’s when her eyes opened, just a tiny slit, and she smiled.
“Don’t overthink, Andrea,” she murmured. “Only you.”
I pressed the button on the raised armrest between us and lowered my backrest to her level. “How…?”
“Darling.” Miranda placed two fingertips on my lips. “It’s what I’d wonder.”
I blinked a tear away, because she wouldn’t appreciate sappiness in public, or anywhere, and smiled at her.
“Have a nap.” She closed her eyes again.
An order is an order—so I did.
OK - time to dig into the next unfinished story - this time No Other Silly Girl Need Apply. I have had tons of messages and emails over the years since this story kind of stranded. So here I am, determined to finish this one. I hope you enjoy this new chapter and the others to come. :-)
I have seen my fair share of the luxury hotel rooms while traveling with Miranda. The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago still baffled me. The size of it alone was enough to intimidate anyone. Well, not Miranda of course, who swept into the place like she owned it. It didn’t surprise me one bit that the entire staff recognized her and catered to her as if she did own it.
As we rode up in the elevator I watched Miranda pull out her cell phone and tap at the screen with impatient fingertips.
“The girls?” I spoke quietly, not wanting to startle her as she seemed so far away in her thoughts.
“What? Yes.” She handed the phone over to me. Add something from you after my text.”
Oh wow. I blinked against the burning sensation behind my eyelids. I wasn’t going to ruin anything by annoying her with tears. I didn’t read her message, but wrote, “At the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago with your mom. We have rooms so high up I’m not sure I’ll dare look out the window. Hope you two are having fun still! /Andy”
Miranda took the phone back and hit send without reading my message. As we stepped off the elevator, the bellhop was waiting for us, having already put our bags in the two-bedroom suite. Miranda’s phone pinged as the young man left after I tipped him.
Reading what had to be the girls’ text, she smiled and handed me the phone. “Read all of it. It seems to be addressed to the both of us.” Miranda began unpacking her suitcase, something she normally had either me or the hotel staff do. I wondered if this unusual change in her routine was part of the ‘learning that we’re equals’ thing.
“Mom, you didn’t say you’re staying at the Peninsula. That’s seriously cool. You mustn’t force Andy to look out the window. She can get sick from vertigo and barf all over you. Close the drapes if she starts turning green. Andy, we know you always take good care of Mom. It’s only fair she takes care of you now. Bye. /C&C
I stared at the message and then started laughing. Miranda gave me that look stating ‘you think you’re cute, don’t you?’ I honestly didn’t, but the idea of a frantic Miranda yanking at the drapes for fear of me throwing up all over her was just too funny.
“Why don’t you unpack and get settled?” Miranda clearly struggled to sound businesslike, but a persistent smile played at the corners of her mind. “I have a surprise for you.”
“You do? For me?” Immediately I was torn between being excited, and fearing some super-pricy gift. Not that I’d think she’d ever shower me with diamonds or anything, but still.
“The feature editor was impressed with your work on the article you edited. She has something else for you to dig into. Unless you’re tired?” She was teasing me now.
“I’m not. I’m fine. What is it?” I completely ignored my suitcase and bounded over to her, hugging her close. “She really liked it? Did you? Was it good enough?”
“Yes, yes, and yes.” Miranda wrapped her arms around my waist. “She wants you to edit a short biography of one of our lesser known, but highly influential designers that passed away a month ago. It’s not a eulogy, but a brief account regarding her importance to Runway in particular. Once you’ve edited this, Clair wants you to write some captions for the spread of the designer’s best work. I want those captions to be meaningful, not just a list of what we’re looking at. You understand?”
Editing and writing? Even if it was just captions, it was not just captions. It was writing no matter how you looked at it and Miranda had high standards. The highest standards in the fashion magazine business. I was speechless. At least for several seconds.
“I’m not going to let you down, Miranda,” I said, knowing full well how intense I sounded. Preparing myself for her being jaded enough to shake her head at that, I could have wept when she merely adjusted my bangs and kissed me lightly.
“I know you’re not. I have faith in your work ethic and abilities.”
This was almost too much. Editing, writing, and amazing praise from Miranda. I was going to short circuit.
“I’m going to take a shower and then I’m off. Order anything you want from room service or use the restaurant if you want. I’m not expecting you to ‘hide in the room the entire time’ or how you put it. You’re not my prisoner.”
“Just your favorite kept secret?” I joked.
“Oh, that you are. Definitely my favorite.” She gave me a smoldering gaze before cruelly leaving me to unpack. I heard the shower run in the biggest of the rooms. And now I was confused again. Should I unpack in the other room, to keep up appearances as maids and other hotel employees would enter the suite at times? I could always unpack in there, mess up the bed so it looked slept in.
I decided to follow my clever plan and unpacked into the dresser and closet in the smaller, but just as luxurious room. Eyeing the large window carefully, as I do loathe heights, I set my laptop on the desk for the time being. I couldn’t wait to dig into the next assignment, but knowing myself well, I would end up on the couch with the laptop on my knees.
“Andrea?” Miranda stood in the doorway, dressed in a thick, white terrycloth robe. “I hope this is just for the sake of appearance?” She glanced at the closet and then the bed.
“Yes.” I found it increasingly easier to not feel presumptuous when I assumed we were on the same page. “I figured I’ll ruffle the bedding after the maid has turned down the covers tonight.”
“Hm. Good.” Holding the rob together at her neck with her left hand, Miranda restlessly walked the fingers of her right hand up and down the doorframe.
“Anything I can help you with?” I asked out of habit, but meant it from a lover’s point of view. I hoped Miranda could tell the difference as she was adamant that this was not a working trip for me.
“Actually. Yes. If you don’t mind?” Miranda rolled her eyes. “The dress Nigel and I picked out…well, I don’t know what we were thinking. There is no way I can fasten it in the back myself. I did wonder what Nigel meant when he said, ‘you will figure it out’. Did he mean me, or you, or us?” Pursing her lips slightly, she looked only seconds from tapping her foot, which I took upon myself to stop.
“Nigel has a naughty sense of humor.” I smiled gently. “And he knows about us, don’t you think? After all, he was the one who alerted you to my situation. And he’s seen us together. Now he thinks he’s funny—and a bit cute, no doubt—but he doesn’t mean anything by it.” I framed Miranda’s face with my hands, still a bit awestruck that I could do so. “And besides, you know I adore dressing you almost as much as I love removing your clothes.”
Miranda gasped, her eyes widening before closing hard. “Andrea. Not helpful”
“Sure it is,” I claimed. “Now, let me look at that dress. We can’t have you gallivanting around Chicago half-dressed.”
“Heaven forbids.” Miranda returned my smile now, though shaking her head at the same time. “And just for your information, I never gallivant.”
I begged to differ, but that was of course how you interpreted the word. I perused the dress that Miranda was going to wear and knew I was in trouble. Not that I couldn’t put it on her, but how was I supposed to remove this dress and keep from ripping it to shreds? The color was very unusual for Miranda who normally stuck to the neutral color scheme, preferably black or navy. This dress was dark blood-red, spaghetti strapped, and with a long zipper in the back that ran from the top of her ass to shoulder blade level. This wasn’t the problem with the dress from Miranda’s point of view. It was the miniscule buttons along the zipper that would hide it once they were closed. I quickly estimated that there were more than forty buttons. I would have to really, really be careful when she got back tonight. Glancing at the label, I saw it was made by that new Swedish designer Miranda was so secretive about, Solveig Krona.
“This will look amazing on you. Nigel was right. You are one of very few that can pull off such a dress.” I licked my lips. “This is a power-dress, for sure.”
Miranda blinked. “Power-dress?”
“Yeah. The equivalent of a power-suit. Just more stylish and high fashion than that. Trust me. It’s giving me oxygen problems.” I ran my hand down the red dress. “What kind of makeup are you going for?”
“Classic. Winged eyeliner, red lips.” Miranda spoke absent-mindedly as she followed my hand with her eyes as I felt the fabric again.
“Oh, God. I’m doomed.” Groaning I closed my eyes, only to snap them open when Miranda took my hands in hers and pushed them in under her suddenly unfastened robe.
“What a ridiculous thing to say, darling,” she purred. “Surely you’re not that affected by a simple garment?” A wicked grin stretched her lips.
“The garment, no. The person inside said garment, you bet your sweet ass I’m affected by her. If I had my way, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight, dress or no dress.” I pressed my lips to hers, happy she was free of makeup right now. I parted my lips, getting ready to persuade her to let me in, when Miranda took me completely by surprise. Pivoting, she pressed me against the wall, right next to the closet door where she had hung the red dress. Pressing her knee in between my legs, she simultaneously pushed her tongue in between my half-open lips. Groaning, she kissed me for what seemed like an eternity, kneading my breasts and rocking her pelvis into my hipbone.
Pulling back just enough to speak, Miranda gasped between words. “You’re driving…me crazy…Andrea. You say things…you do things…that makes me forget…where I am. Who I am. Damn you…”
I nearly lost completely cohesion in my knees. Clinging to Miranda, I tried to fathom what she meant. I drove her crazy. Well, she wasn’t much better in that department. I made her forget who she was? What did that mean? “If it’s any consolation, you do the same to me,” I managed to say between kisses. “You—you are amazing. Beautiful. And I—I—” I wanted to tell her I loved her, but so much was still hanging in the balance—I just couldn’t do it.
Perhaps Miranda understood. I think she did, because she merely nodded her head briskly and said, “I know, Andrea. Same here.”
It was mindboggling enough. I held her tight and slowly the fire turned in to that comfortable, sweet slow-burning feeling I loved so much; where I felt utterly safe and that nothing could hurt me if Miranda held me like this, and regarded me with such softness in her blue eyes.
“All right, Andrea.” Miranda kissed me tenderly. “Time for makeup and then the dress. This luncheon is going to be a nightmare. Too many people in one place.” She cupped my chin. “And promise me you’ll call if you hear…I mean, if you need me.”
A cold icepick stabbed me superficially in the chest. I didn’t want to think about the biopsy results. I wanted to be here when Miranda returned and peel the dress off her and take her to bed. “I promise,” I said quietly.
“And everything will be fine. I can feel it.” Miranda squeezed my hands again and reached for her beauty box. Sitting down at the vanity, she expertly did her hair and applied her makeup. Every now and then she glanced at me in the mirror where I stood frozen by the wall.
So much had already changed, most of it in a fantastic way, but a lot was still uncertain and I didn’t think I was being overly dramatic when I interpreted the sensations in the pit of my stomach as pure fear. Shoving it back in the shadows again, I decided to merely enjoy Miranda’s transformation from sultry lover to the Devil in Prada. There was a time when I wasn’t sure which of her personas that made me weak at the knees. Nowadays, I knew without a doubt, it was Miranda the Lover that I would always love.
Continued in part 14