CHAPTER 1 ~ CARING
“I want to live there” the new transplant to the city murmured, then she smiled, silly her.
“I wonder how much a house by the ocean would cost?” she keeps thinking to herself.
She shook her head, and yet she stood there mesmerized, that one, the beautiful white house, with the four panel windows overlooking the pier. The one with two stories and balconies that screamed late nigh wine glasses and sunrise coffee, outlined in lines of soft teal and peeking out from the rest of the crowd. She knew it was a dream, but here standing on edge of the sand, where millionaires owned their homes, no one knew who she was, where she came from, she could dream, that she was not a starry eyed dreamer, she could pretend she was a someone, she could pretend the beach house was hers.
She closed her eyes, for a brief second, the breeze felt cold against her face. She fantasized, someone would tap her, ask her if she was well. She’d nod into the eyes of a handsome stranger, a handsome stranger who would want to marry her and take her to the impossible beach house she was still thinking about.
She waited, but no one came. She knew it was a silly game. All these scenarios she played out in her mind all those reeling thoughts about how she’d fall in love, about how she’d get out of poverty, about how her life would be the smashing success she always thought it would be. She blamed the recent thoughts on her breakup with Nate. She shook her head and got ready for the drive back to downtown.
The next day too she daydreamed, except now she was at work, finishing her editorial waiting for the final word count. Why did she have to babysit the employees? If you’re paid to do a certain job she could not understand why they never did it. Ethic, what a joke she shook her head back against the office door.
“Penny for your thoughts Andrea,” came a whispered voice
“Miranda,” she said not having to turn around to know who it was.
“What’s wrong?” the voice probed again sensing that something was wrong.
Andrea turned around only to encounter a pair of crystal blue eyes too close to her.
“Nothing is wrong, I’m a little tired and still waiting for layout to send me an approval on word count,” she said getting up and relinquishing the seat to her boss.
“Did you go out last night?” her boss asked, voice going from concern to disdain?
“Um, no I just have a few problems at home, family stuff.”
“Have you done the interview I asked for next week? And did you find out about the HR problem at Vogue? Did you get Hermes to resent their background story?”
The questions came rapid fire and the change of mood caught her of guard, but not so much that she could not muster some ,”yes, no and hmmm” as Miranda walked out of the office.
Miranda still perplexed her. She had offered her a spot on editorial after a year of working with her, sometimes she would come around and they would have a pleasant work conversation, she would even her about the girls. And other days like today, she seemed cold and distant.
What the fuck was wrong with that lady?
Suddenly she was startled by someone else.
“Oh, my god you scared me,” she yelped looking up from her desk.
“Sorry,” the intruder said.
Andrea laughed, she looked at the tall man in front of her, dark piercing eyes matching the black Armani he wore.
“You have a beautiful laugh,” he offered, she blushed.
She was about to answer he had beautiful eyes when Miranda walked in again, the man stiffened and dropped the layout scheme on the desk.
“Miranda,” he nodded as he fled from the office.
“Don’t get my employees distracted Andrea, and finish the article,” she murmured and walked away.
Andrea stared at the empty space her boss left, and she smiled. Something inside of her hated Miranda and yet she could never understand why she loved to talk to her.
After work she went to the ocean view home again, here she was no one, no one was her boss, no one could fire here. In this trendy zone, she could be a millionaire for all people knew or she could be married to one? She sat down at one of the benches and sipped hot coffee.
She always wondered why she wasn’t born rich? Why she had to fight for what little she had. Why was there so much disparity in the world? The ultra rich and the starving poor? Her mother had always told her God knew what he was doing, but at times she doubted it.
“So thoughtful again.”
Andrea tensed, and yet it was calming to hear her voice, to know her icy blue eyes would be staring at her.
“Are you following me?” Andrea threw back.
“You flatter yourself much?” the voice said and yet Andrea felt the warmth of her body as Miranda took a seat next to her.
“I should not have reprimanded you today,” she said still wondering why she had bothered to say those words. She too had walked out of work, tired and frustrated, she had planned to go down to and grab a drink but then she saw her, her employee, walking along the street and she could not help herself.
“Are you apologizing?” the question interrupted her thoughts and she felt irritated.
“I don’t apologize, that’s all you’re getting,” she quipped.
“I’ll take it,” Andrea said turning to her with a barely visible smile as the sun set and darkness overtook.
“What are you doing here alone?” she asked again, she wanted to know more about her.
“Why don’t I take you for a drink and I won’t be alone anymore?” Andrea said as her eyes widened, she didn’t know where the courage had come from. Why would she want to take Miranda out for a drink, she was so infuriating. Maybe it would turn out good, having someone like her as a friend could boost her career. Maybe she could buy that beach house, she thought smiling to herself and stealing a look at the houses.
“They’re beautiful are they not?” Miranda marbled avoiding the journalists question.
Andrea nodded, she didn’t want to discuss her personal traumas with her boss.
“It’s the only thing that gives me calm at the end of the day, the waves as I fall asleep,” Miranda shared.
Great she had an ocean view house, of course she did, not only did she own a townhome but also an ocean view house. Life was definitely not fair.
“It’s getting late, I should go. Goodnight Miranda,” the young woman whispered.
There was a pause.
A moment where neither said a thing, as if pondering the line of friendship.
“What happened to drinks?” Miranda took a risk. She did feel lonely, ever since her divorce she felt alone. A huge house and no one to share it with. Sure her daughters were the light of her life, but they were often away, at boarding school, or summer camp, or at her fathers. She talked to herself but no one knew that.
“you didn’t answer, I thought it would be below you” Andrea answered walking away from the bench.
Miranda didn’t bother to ask her to stay, what was she thinking? Pleading her employee for drinks, how desperate would that look?
“But would you care for me to escort you?”
Miranda was startled, Andrea had gone around the bench and was now extending her hand to the older lady sitting on the bench.
Miranda nodded and they walked in silence.
When they finally arrived to the main street, Miranda did not speak but steered Andrea toward a corner, then another one and then into a private street. She walked a few steps and opened the door to her house.
“I hope you don’t mind making the drinks yourself?” Miranda joked and Andrea followed mesmerized by the house. It was simple yet beautiful. Soft blue colors and seashells adorned the parlor table.
“your house is beautiful,” she said
“is it all you imagined? A house by the beach?” Miranda probed but Andrea was too taken to see the sarcasm in her bosses voice. Probably for the better Miranda thought and walked toward the liquor cabinet.
“wine or “
“whiskey?” Andrea questioned.
“Whiskey it is then,” Miranda seconded and poured two whiskey neats.
“merci Madame,” Andrea said and carefully sat down in a large white very expensive couch.
She heard the heels of her boss walk to the kitchen, they were gone for a while only to suddenly be started by soft padding next to her and the setting down of a tray, with crackers, apples and a decanter of whiskey.
“I didn’t know you were so domestic,” Andrea joked.
“my ex husband would not have thought so,” she said and as soon as she said it se regretted it, now she’d have to explain about her divorce.
To her surprise Andrea didn’t question instead she said, “these apples are delicious.”
Miranda sat next to her, rather than across from her and she could feel Andrea shift to face her.
“Tell me about you Miranda, the real you, not the harsh editor that I see
Miranda took a sip of her drink, then another one. “That is the real me,” she said, “that’s why I have three divorces and why I always end up alone.”
“That’s a lie,” Andrea countered
“how would you know?” Miranda asked.
The young journalist threw her drink back and finished it in one gulp.
“I see inside you a very beautiful soul, not that you’re not beautiful outside, you’re gorgeous, I mean well,” there she was flustered again.
“I think you were right, I think it’s time for you to leave,” the editor shoots back.
“Right,” Andrea said without a counter argument, “thank you for the drink.”
Miranda took a deep breath she wanted to warn her that no one should find out about this lapse of judgment but the brunette had already walked out.
“Good morning Miranda, coffee is on the table and the Rhianna interview is done, we are just waiting for the photo shoot date, the Hermes story is down in layout and I have also sent a copy to Nigel.”
Miranda nodded, “I need one more thing.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered in her usual velvet voice.
Andrea turned around to see who she was speaking to.
“you don’t apologize,” she whispered as if someone would hear.
“To people who don’t matter,” the short answer spoke volumes.
Andrea nodded, “I’m not sure what you’re apologizing for?”
“Last night, I should not have kicked you out. I’m not used to sharing, no that’s a lie. I’m not used to people caring.”
“Well I care,” Andrea whispered vulnerably.
“Would you like to join me for dinner tonight? The beach house again? I’m thinking of moving there permanently and leaving the townhouse,” Miranda shared.
“Of course, are you sure?” Andrea asked not wanting to have to leave after a drink again.
“Only if you want to,” Miranda clarifie, “I don’t want you to go as a Runway employee, I want you there as … a friend.”
Andrea took a deep breath, “sure.”
She sat at her desk, not typing anything because she didn’t have anything to type. Her immediate boss, Marc had not given her any new tasks and all she had was thoughts of her conversations with the blue eyes mystery woman.
“Hello there,” came a voice.
“Hi,” she said casting her eyes at Rob the head of Human Resources, butterflies hit her stomach and she forgot about Miranda’s dilemma.
“You seem bored?” he asked.
“My day is almost done,” she answered.
“would you like to accompany me for dinner?”
“I can’t I have dinner with….” She paused, “ friend”
“How about tomorrow? It’ s Saturday breakfast?” he smiled. Dimples formed around his flawless face and she smiled “sure”
Great I’ll let you work now busy lady.
“I wish you wouldn’t,” she countered laughing.
“Alas I must, I’m sure the department will burn down if you don’t attend the boss.”
She didn’t have to get anything ready for the day, in fact she didn’t have to do anything and as she blinked at her screen an email saying she could have the rest of the day off caught her of guard. Part of her wanted to ask if everything was okay and part of her knew it would make it stranger. They weren’t really friends, no matter what they both said.
When she arrived later that night Andrea stared at the older editor, She was dressed in dark jeans, she didn’t even know the woman owned jeans. She had on a white collared blouse and an oversized Ralph Lauren knit on top. She was barefoot, barefoot!
“Are you okay?”
“oh yes, yes I just was, you jeans, un,” she shook her head, oh dear she probably looked like a creep. “I didn’t know what type of flower you liked.”
Andrea offered two bouquets in crystal vases, her mother had told her to always bring something to a friend’s house for dinner.
“Bold choices,” Miranda mused, “red roses for love and white tulips for jealousy.”
“can I come in?”
“sure unless you want me to bring your food out here?” Andrea said and Andrea again failed to see the sarcasm. She was thinking of her own old jeans and striped shirt.
“I like your outfit,” Miranda yelled from the kitchen, as if sensing her thoughts.
How did she always know what to say? How could she read her like that. And why did it matter if Miranda approved of her.
“Are you jealous of me?” Miranda said suddenly and handed her a glass of wine.
“Me? No?” Andrea said shaking her head. God did Miranda know what friendship was?
“Are you sure?”
Andrea gulped, this was not starting out how she hoped, “I am.”
“Good, now let’s go eat. I made risotto I hope you like it?”
“You can cook?” Andrea asked.
“Surprising I know” Miranda smiled and her face glowed, her blue eyes became warm waves and Andrea felt at ease. The foyer had low lights that followed them to the kitchen and the long oak dining room. The house felt light and even though the night had fallen the white from the walls gave a summer glow.
“I wasn’t always what I am now,” Miranda husked sitting down.
“you weren’t ? tell me about young you,” Andrea asked leaning into the table riddled with curiosity and genuine care.
“Well,” Miranda started, taking a sip of her wine “You remind me a lot of myself actually.”
The night went on without a hitch, that is if you consider the kiss at the end of the night normal.
Andrea swore she never knew who kissed who, it was as if they found themselves simply together, but she did know it had been Miranda who pulled her upstairs and trailed kisses down her collar bone.
A myriad of thought transverse in her mind. This was her boss. This could cost her, her job. She had breakfast with that guy, Rob. She didn’t date woman. She wasn’t dating her. Not yet. No matter, she didn’t have sex with women. Older woman.
“Are you okay?” Miranda asked breathless as she gently laid Andrea on the master bed. The soft sheets caresses her skin and she closed her eyes.
“Maybe we should stop?” Miranda said sensing something was troubling the girl beneath her.
Andrea shook her head. “No I just… it wasn’t until right now, until tonight that it clicked, why you fluster me. Why I care. Why you infuriate me so. I think… I know I am in love with you.”
Miranda widened her eyes but Andrea didn’t give her time to question, she simply pulled the older woman in for a kiss and felt the vibrations in her lips.
Miranda wanted to decipher why. Why she felt this way. She wanted to know why this younger girl meant so much to her. When had she matted so much? How had this happened? She wanted to pull away and talk it out, but she couldn’t, she could not make the woman kissing her stop. Her lips trailed down her collar bone, down her chest bone, onto her abdomen and hips. She could not pry herself from the enchanting woman worshiping her as an orgasm rippled through her. She hadn’t felt this in.. .well she had never felt this. Her ex-husbands .. well her first one had been so young, they had been so foolish and she didn’t not by any means love him. The other two were simply with her for money. But this, here, her, she loved her.
“I love you,” she said breathless as they were falling asleep.
Andrea smiled “good because you already know I love you.”
Sunlight broke and it was all so complicated. She opened her eyes and realized that there was someone else intruding in her bed. Andrea was sound asleep, naked on her bed, butterflies somersaulted in her stomach. The younger’s woman hair splayed out on the pillow. What was she thinking? She was half her age. She was so beautiful and young. What would someone like her do with someone like me? She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked good for her age still she had to go put some make up on.
“Now who’s thinking hard?”
The voice started her, too late for make up.
“I know what you’re thinking,” the younger woman taunted.
“you don’t” Miranda shook her head and took a deep breath.
“I can read your mind too,” Andrea continued.
“mm,”Miranda turned around.
“I think you’re beautiful, you are so hot don’t you see that?” Andrea remarked lovingly.
Questioning blue eyes stared back at her.
“You… what can you see in me? ”Miranda asked, the answer terrified her. This is why she didn’t hold relationships.
“You meant besides the amazing night we just had?”
Miranda chuckled and relaxed a bit.
“I told you the other night, a beautiful soul, a beautiful face, a successful woman, a friend… a lover?” she said tentatively. The declaration hid a question and ball was now in Miranda’s court.
Miranda nodded, “ a lover? are you sure you want this?”
“If people find out, the press will ask. You wont be able to keep your job, not in that department, people left and right will ask and criticize and judge you.”
“Because they will think I am with you because of the money?”
Miranda looked away, “and because you’re half my age.”
“damn them. I want you and if you means all this, good. I don’t even like my job.”
Again Miranda laughed, she could not remember a time when she had laughed so much.
The phone rang, flashing the name Rob across the screen. Andrea remembered, it was Saturday. A pang of dread struck her.
The Ice Queen looked at her new lover, questions in her eyes.
Andrea took a risk, pressed the button and handed the phone to Miranda, “answer it,” she mouthed.
“Rob, how may I help you?”
“I was, I think I have the wrong phone”
“No, this is Andrea’s phone.”
“Oh, um I was trying to talk to her,” he stuttered.
“I can’t tell her she’s sleeping now, I would not want to wake her. Anything specific?”
“Um. no I we had brunch,” he continued a noticeable confusion in his voice.
“You did? I don’t think she’ll be able to make it. But I will tell her, good day.”
She hung up and Andrea could not hold her laughter.
“Don’t ever make me do that again,” Miranda said annoyed and completely serious.
“I’m sorry,” Andrea cast her eyes downward.
“Don’t test me. I don’t’ play nice. I don’t like to share,” Miranda clarified a tone of authority and possessiveness present.
“Miranda, I’m sorry,” Andrea repeated touching the older woman’s hand.
“Now, are you still sure? You could have young handsome Rob?” her eyes were like daggers.
“I could. But I have you why would I want him? And When people find out about us, I won’t have time for him,” Andrea answered.
She emphasized the word WHEN to say that it would happen.
“Well, I imagine it won’t be long with him knowing.”
“Good, then I can stay all day and make love to you.”
Miranda laughed again and let herself be embraced by the lover on her bed.
After Andrea left, mouthing something about, “having to go home, feed her cat and she had work the next day. They had spent all Saturday and Sunday in Miranda home, cooking, watching television and talking, mostly talking.
It had all seemed so normal, but now in her house all alone again, she felt the doubts overshadow her. She wasn’t 20 anymore, she had a family to look after, she was a successful woman, would she risk it all for a young 20 something who swore love in a passionate night. She wasn’t even sure if Andrea wanted to live with her, at her age it was probably just a fling.
She tried futile to dry the tears, that were falling as she went to bed.
“Hello,” the phone had rang at around 1am, she was very annoyed who called at this hour?
“You do like cats right? Because I could not part with Whiskey here, I mean I’m totally getting ahead of myself, not that you’d want me to move in, but I do hope so. Also I’d like you to meet my roommate, she’s my best friend.”
“Andrea? It’s past midnight,” she said somberly trying to not let all this crazy girl was saying excite her.
“I know, I just cant’ sleep. I know it was just a weekend but I feel like we’ve had a lifetime. I wish we’d had a lifetime. You aren’t regretting all this are you?” Andrea questioned.
There was a long pause from Miranda, this was her chance.
“Oh my Gosh, you are. You are totally regretting this right? I totally should have known. I ..” the phone clicked.
Miranda stared at the blinking light. She dialed back. She called five times, each time it went to voice mail. She looked at the clock, goddamn it!
She dialed Roy “Miranda?”
“I need you here at 4:30 this morning”
As usual she hung up before he had a chance to answer.
This better be worth it.
She got up and got dressed, her best Chanel suit, black it was slimming. Red sapphire necklace and black Valentino heels.
Roy didn’t ask questions, he never did. He dropped his employer at a random looking apartment complex, he saw her fumble with the intercom. A car rode out, and she stepped in instead.
A loud nock on the door, startled Andrea. She hadn’t slept since the phone call and now she lay in bed with coffee and tears. Her roommate was out, so she begrudgingly got out of bed and answered the door.
“Darling, … I’m sorry,” Miranda was record breaking with the apologies lately.
“Don’t apologize it doesn’t become you. It’s not yet time for work so I’m not sure what you want?”
“I want you…” pause “to go with me to the office today. I want you to walk in with me. I want you to come home with me after the day. I want you to fly to Colorado and we can tell my girls.”
“You don’t have to be nice. It’s not you. I won’t be hurt, I mean I will but I will get over it. If I was just a good fuck I can see it. Though I would have appreciated honesty.”
“Would you have done it? Would you have slept with me?”
Andrea shrugged, “doesn’t matter. You’ll have my resignation letter by noon. I’ll wait until we promote or hire someone new.”
“If that’s what you want I understand. However, that’s not what I want and vanity does not suit you my dear, so if you do love me like you said last night. If it was true, if you want to face it all with me take my hand. Let’s go get some real coffee.”
Andrea didn’t answer, she stared at the vision in front of her. At Miranda asking her to take her hand. The events of the last 36 hours reeled in her mind.
“I was having doubts, not of my love for you, not about wanting you. I was having doubts about us, about this. You’re so young and beautiful, sooner or later you’ll realize I’m more than double your age, you’ll realize I’m not what you want. At 20 everything was so easy,” Miranda confessed.
Andrea turned sharply brown orbs meeting glossy blue ones.
“I love you. I will not change my mind. I’m not 20 and I don’t care about your age, or your money or anything. I’ll sign whatever you want me to sign, I want you just you, I want you to marry me. I know how crazy this all sounds but…”
“I’ll marry you,” this was out of character for her. Miranda never rushed into things, she was calm and attentive to detail, she was a perfectionist, she always weighted the outcomes, she hated vulnerable positions, and did not accept marriage after a one night stand. She went ahead with it anyway.
Andrea smiled, pools of deep chocolate sparkling, “Okay wait, this is not a real proposal, it’s supposed to be fancy and I’m supposed to have a ring, and champagne.”
Miranda neared closing the gap. She kissed the younger woman “shhh”
“Let’s go home,” Andrea said, “I mean your house.”
“you can call it home, I hope you call it home.”
Andrea smiled again, “now about that coffee? I haven’t slept all night”
“Get dressed let’s go,” Miranda tugged.
The phone flashed, Miranda picked it up, again. “Rob,” the text said.
She didn’t want to but she read.
“Hey so I’m confused about Friday night. I called and the boss answered, why does she have your phone?”
Miranda pursed her lip, she couldn’t stop herself.
“Why do you think?” she answered.
“I don’t know you tell me? She said you were sleeping? Were you guys still at the office?”
“I never sleep at the office,” Miranda answered for her lover.
“are you and her?”
“it’s crazy, are you fucking her? I mean you’re talented you don’t have to!”
There it was, what people would always think.
“Are you in the habit of answering all your employees texts?”
Andrea startled her as she snaked her arms around the older woman.
“No,” Miranda said putting the phone down.
“Is it him?”
“I swear I haven’t talked to him.”
“I know, here,” she handed the phone back to it’s owner and then she walked to the window.
“what do you want me to tell him?”
“It’s up to you”
“I want to tell him that I am talented and that’s why I fell in love with you. I want to tell him you have accepted to share her life with me. I want to tell him to fuck off and good luck trying to find someone like you.”
Miranda still didn’t turn back all she said was “ do it … then.”
“It’s not true you know that right? because I can’t live with you if you’re always going to doubt me.”
She turned around and smiled “I won’t I promise, it’s going to take time to realize you care, to get used to it. I believe in you, in us.”
“Now I have a better idea than going into the office,” Andrea said a mischievous smile on her face.
Miranda hated surprises but she went along, she let Andrea drag her out to the city, because she’d let Andrea do anything.
“A chapel? Really we’re going to pray?” Miranda asked with disdain as they parked.
“Nope, oh good she’s here with her boyfriend. They will be our witnesses. I want to marry you. I also told her to buy a ring.”
“Wait, does she even know me?”
“I hear about you all the time, Andrea talks non stop about you. It’s quite unsettling all this time I knew she was in love, but she was dumb.”
Miranda chuckled and got out of the car hesitantly she took Andrea’s hand and whispered, “Okay, let’s do this.”
When Miranda finally made it back to the office. Nigel knew something was off.
“what is going on?” he came into Miranda office and closed the door. The valet said you walked in with Andrea, from editorial, un wha… why do you have a wedding ring on your finger?”
Slowly Miranda turned to her Art Department head. “You never mind your own business do you?”
“Let’s say that we may have to call Human Resources about relationships between departments.”
He wasn’t’ in utter shock, they always had a strange relationship, “Do you love her?” he asked, yet he knew what the answer would be. There was no way in Prada hell that Miranda would marry someone over a weekend and put so much out there in limbo if she did not love someone.
“How perceptive of you, Yes I do love Andrea Marie Sachs.”