(Months since Paris: 30)
The sun was shining as she stepped out of the town car and looked up at a familiar door. It had been a long time since she had first been in this position, and she was possibly more nervous now than she had been then. Her first foray into delivering the book had not ended on a particularly good note, and she hoped like hell today ended a lot better.
The girls were an unknown. She hadn’t seen them in over two years, and aside from a few stories from Miranda, she really didn’t know what to expect.
There was a gentle pressure at her elbow, and she looked to find Roy standing next to her.
“It’s probably not advisable to spend too much time standing on the street,” Roy said, guiding her towards the stairs.
She took a deep breath and nodded, forcing herself to smile.
“You’ll do great,” Roy said as he guided her up to the front door of the townhouse, and opened it. “Good luck, Andy” he whispered before tipping his hat and giving her a wink, turning to leave.
Andy felt herself relax just a little as she took a step inside, closing the door gently behind herself. As she stood in the foyer, she was struck by how familiar everything was. Sure, some of the artwork had changed, but the flower arrangements were still everywhere and the doors certainly hadn’t moved since the last time she was there.
“You forget which closet it was again?” a cheeky voice sounded as one of the twins strolled into view.
The girl was certainly taller, and her face had matured more than Andy expected. Andy titled her head and eyed the girl carefully, taking in her clothing, stance and posture. She was in bare feet, a pair of jeans, and a soccer shirt. The smirk on her face was cocksure, and so very Miranda that she decided to hedge a guess and go with the ring leader she was familiar with.
“No Caroline, it would be pretty hard for me to forget. You do realize you almost got me fired that night, right?” Andy said, raising her eyebrow with a smirk.
The girl lifted her chin and grinned. “Not so stupid then are you?” Caroline sassed before Miranda appeared behind her and smiled gently at Andy before turning on her daughter.
“Phone,” Miranda said sternly, holding her hand out.
The teenager rolled her eyes and pulled her iPhone out of her pocket, placing it in her mother’s outstretched hand.
Andy bit back a smirk. The look was remarkably familiar.
“Go help your sister set the table,” Miranda ordered, and Caroline groaned before disappearing back in the direction Miranda had appeared from.
Miranda shook her head, before setting her gaze on Andy. She was wearing a pair of slacks, ballet flats, and the sleeves of her cashmere sweater were rolled up to her elbows. Her hair was slightly mussed.
Miranda raised her eyebrow. “Sorry, who were you again? I seem to have forgotten.”
Andy couldn’t stop the broad smile that suddenly took over her face. It had been almost two weeks since they had seen each other, and it wasn’t until that moment that Andy realized how much she missed the older woman’s presence. Work had gotten in the way of their town car meetings, not to mention Miranda’s paranoia about Leslie watching their every move.
“Well, by all means move at a glacial pace Andrea, you know how that thrills me,” Miranda smirked as she took a step towards her.
The reporter crossed the distance, heels clipping loudly on the hardwood until her lips crashed against Miranda’s and she felt the editor’s hands wind up into her hair and pull her down firmly.
She tasted like coffee and smelt like cinnamon and all Andy could do was wrap her arms around the shorter woman, lifting her on to her tip toes as she pulled her closer.
Miranda was the first to pull away, disentangling her hands from Andy’s hair, smoothing it down as she went. Andy lowered her back down as Miranda cupped her cheek for a moment, leaning forward to place a light kiss on her lips before withdrawing and clearing her throat.
“Yes—well—“ she paused, brushing a hand through her hair before taking a deep breath and schooling her features, “Come along Andrea, the girls are waiting,” Miranda finished before turning on her heel and heading back in the direction she had come from.
Andy licked her lips and shook her head, quickly brushing her fingers through her hair and checking her make up in a nearby mirror before following after Miranda.
“So, how old are you?” Cassidy said straight off the bat.
“Cassidy!” Miranda barked from the stove, looking like she wanted to cut her daughters tongue out.
Cassidy Priestly had forced Andy into a seat at the head of a six seater table which rested in an open plan kitchen and dining space. It wasn’t the formal dining area, she had been informed, but they used it often on weekends. Andy liked the space. The sun filtered in through broad windows which overlooked the perfectly manicured back garden. It was pleasantly warm, and the reporter found herself relaxed.
Well, now that the shock had worn off upon finding Miranda Priestly, cooking. Caroline was assisting her, meanwhile Cassidy was practically sitting Andy’s lap, about to embark on what the reporter suspected would be an interrogation.
Well, here goes nothing, Andy thought. “I’m 26,” she said.
“That’s young,” Cassidy replied.
“Mom’s 53,” Caroline called knowingly from the kitchen.
“Thank you for that, Caroline,” Miranda growled.
“So that means you’re…” Cassidy began counting on her fingers.
“That will be enough of that, Cassidy,” Miranda said in warning.
“27 years younger than Mom?” Cassidy said, ignoring her mother.
Miranda looked incensed, and Andy resisted the urge to laugh. “Yes, that would be about right,” she said, unperturbed.
Cassidy seemed satisfied with Andy’s answer and moved quickly onto something else. “Why did you send that ugly Christmas card?” she said.
Andy chuckled, “I knew your mother would hate it.”
“Honestly, Andrea,” Miranda said, shaking her head as she began transferring the contents of the pan onto a plate.
“I told you so!” Cassidy yelled at Caroline, poking out her tongue.
“Cassidy, volume,” Miranda said as she turned around and dropped a pan into the sink.
Cassidy swung back to Andy.“What’s it like being a reporter? Do you get to see lots of dead bodies and stuff?”
Good God, Andy thought. The girl was bouncing from one topic to another faster than she could form thoughts. “I work Politics, so no, just boring old politicians.”
“Oh,” Cassidy crinkled nose.
“Hey, it’s not that bad!” Andy protested against the judgement of the 13-year-old. “Politics is interesting!”
“But it’s not like Veronica Mars?” Cassidy asked.
“No,” Andy conceded. “It’s not quite that exciting, I suppose.”
Miranda and Caroline moved their out from the kitchen area and began placing plates down on the table, as Cassidy continued to watch her with carefully veiled curiosity. The girl had blue eyes that held the same piercing quality as Miranda’s, and Andy felt like she was under a microscope.
Whatever the girl had been looking, she apparently found as she turned away and picked up her orange juice, taking a big gulp. Apparently the conversation was over for the time being.
“Slow down,” Miranda ordered Cassidy as she set down the last of the dishes on the table. She shot another glance at her daughter before raising her eyebrow at Andy in question.
Andy simply shrugged and smiled, and Miranda looked mildly relieved.
The editor-in-chief moved to take a seat next to Andy, only to have Caroline leap into it before she had a chance to sit. Miranda rolled her eyes. “Well, by all means, Caroline,” she sighed, waving her hand in faux invitation as she moved back to the kitchen.
Andy faced her second interrogator, who was eyeing her with interest equal to that of her sister. However this time, Andy felt suspiciously like prey. Where Cassidy appeared calculating, Caroline appeared predatory. Dealing with the two girls was like facing multiple facets of Miranda’s personality in different bodies. The girls had so much of their mother that it was uncanny.
Miranda moved up behind her and poured coffee into her waiting mug. “I did warn you,” she said under her breath as she leant down, before moving away to take a seat on Caroline’s left, abandoning Andy to the wolves.
“Do you like soccer?” Caroline asked, reaching for a pair of tongs and twirling them idly in her hand. The girl looked like she was wielding a weapon as she watched Andy like a hawk.
She’s a teenager, Andy reminded herself as she sat back in her chair, lifting her coffee to her lips with an air of nonchalance. “I played varsity,” she said casually.
“High school or college?” Caroline demanded.
“Both,” Andy said
“What college?” Caroline asked.
“Northwestern,” Andy replied as she blew gently on the liquid in the mug before taking a sip.
Caroline thought about this for a moment, and after apparently deciding Northwestern was respectable enough, she started again. “Position?”
“Midfield, attacker usually,” Andy replied, as she shot Miranda a look of thanks for the coffee.
Miranda nodded lightly before her eyes raised skyward. Caroline was speaking again.
“Playmaker!? No way, you’re too tall, you’d be too slow,” Caroline protested.
Andy shrugged her shoulders as she took another sip of her coffee.
“I don’t believe you,” Caroline said in accusation. “Prove it!”
“Caroline,” Miranda said in warning, her eyes snapping towards her daughter. “That’s enough.”
Caroline ignored her and pressed further, and Andy had to admire her ability to ignore a warning from Miranda. “We have a net in the yard. Put your money where your mouth is,” Caroline said.
“Caroline!” Miranda barked.
“You’re on, shorty,” Andy said simultaneously.
“Andrea!” Miranda said then, and Caroline grinned in victory, Cassidy laughed and Miranda flashed her a glare that screamed, don’t encourage her!
Andy winced apologetically. “Did I ever tell you I was competitive?” she said weakly.
Miranda rolled her eyes.“Alright, that will do,” she said. “Both of you. Now eat, before it gets cold,” she ordered, pulling the tongs out of Caroline’s grip and dishing up the teenagers plate. “And that includes you, Miss Sachs,” she said, looking at Andy.
The reporter laughed before stabbing her fork in piece of cinnamon French toast and lifting it over to her plate.
When everyone had a plate in front of them Andy cocked an eyebrow in Miranda’s direction.“This is a lot of food for four people Miranda,” she noted wryly.
“Well, we have to feed Patricia,” the editor sniffed, ignoring her tone.
Caroline leaned over to Andy, “She didn’t know what you liked,” the red-head whispered.
“I figured as much,” Andy whispered back with a wink.
She turned to Miranda and smiled; the editor simply picked up her coffee and took a sip, ignoring the alliance that was quickly forming against her.
“She’s not exactly dressed for it, Caroline,” Miranda scolded as her eldest dragged Andrea through the townhouse, “And can you please stop manhandling Andrea?”
Caroline smirked. “You jealous?” her daughter sassed.
Cassidy snorted, and Miranda saw the faint hint of a blush on Andrea’s cheeks.
“Caroline Alexandra Priestly, one more of those clever little comments today and I won’t stop until every piece of technology has been stripped from your room,” she said, her voice low in warning.
“Sorry,” Caroline replied, with a severe lack of sincerity as she dropped the reporter’s arm.
Miranda rolled her eyes. She was aware she had been letting the girl away with far too much today in an attempt to give the girls an unrestricted opportunity to get to know Andrea.
The elder of the two twins made her way out in to the back garden first, finding her ball and rolling it under her foot suggestively.
As Andrea stepped out of the doorway, the ball came flying immediately in her direction, causing Miranda to flinch. “Caroline! Nintento. Gone,” she barked, even as Andrea caught the ball easily with a smirk.
“Hope it was worth it,” Andrea said in a sing-song voice, squeezing Miranda’s elbow gently, placating her before stepping out of her heels.
“Andrea, what are you doing?” Miranda asked as the reporter stepped down onto the grass, bare foot.
“Playing soccer,” Andrea said nonchalantly as she dropped the ball, caught it on her foot and then reached up to tie back her hair.
“I thought you were joking,” Miranda said.
“Nope,” the reporter shot back over her shoulder as she proceeded to roll up the sleeves of her blouse. She was wearing skin tight jeans and cut a striking figure as she squared her shoulders and then titled her head as Caroline moved to defend goal, sensing a challenge.
“You ready?” Andrea asked.
Miranda watched as Caroline smirked smugly and nodded. As she watched Andrea test the ball and maneuver it between her feet, she had a distinct feeling her daughter was going to regret being so cocky.
Andrea moved quicker than even Miranda expected, taking off without warning and outmaneuvering her daughter, the ball landing easily in goal. She chuckled as she took in the shocked expression on her eldest daughters face as Caroline stared wide-eyed at Andrea.
Cassidy exploded in laughter next to her. “She kicked your ass!”
“Language,” Miranda scolded out of habit, but she couldn’t keep the amusement out of her voice.
“Beginners luck,” Caroline scoffed, recovering herself. “Again,” she demanded.
After ten minutes, Caroline was gasping for breath and hadn’t managed a single goal against Andrea. It was at that point Cassidy moved towards her boots.
“Cassidy, stay put. I think that’s enough for today, don’t you? Andrea came for brunch, not a football tournament,” she said.
“It’s soccer, Mom,” Cassidy said as she secured her second boot and jumped to her feet.
“Its fine, Miranda, honestly,” Andrea said, waving her off.
“You’re as bad as the two of them,” Miranda said, shaking her head.
After twenty minutes, Miranda could see Andrea struggling to keep up against both of her daughters. Serves her right, she thought, even as she stepped down onto the grass and intercepted the ball. “All right, that’s enough you three,” she said in a tone that brokered no argument.
Andrea looked at her in relief.
Miranda turned to the girls. “Go get cleaned up,” she said, even as Caroline groaned. “And there will be no more of that,” she said in regard to the sulking. “You had your fun.”
As the girls disappeared inside, Andrea flopped onto the ground in exhaustion. “God, they’re quick,” she moaned, as she attempted to recover her breathing.
“Too much time behind a desk, Andrea?” Miranda said in mocking.
“Very funny,” the reporter glared.
“Come on,” she said, walking over and holding out a hand. “I have a number of spare blouses inside. You may be a football player but I refuse to have you smelling like one.”
Andrea smiled up at her, reaching to take her hand and pull herself to her feet. As she winced slightly, Miranda raised an eyebrow. “I have no sympathy,” the editor-in-chief said. “Next time don’t let Caroline goad you.”
“It was fun, even if I’m being reminded of my age,” Andrea said.
Miranda scoffed at the comment coming from the mouth of the 26 year old. “Yes, of course, Andrea. Your age,” she said.
Andrea laughed as they walked shoulder to shoulder, back towards the house. When she stopped to pick up her heels, the reporter paused.
“They’re really great, Miranda,” she said with a smile.
“Even after all that?” Miranda said in amusement, although she couldn’t ignore the pride she felt at the comment.
“Yes, even after all that,” Andrea chuckled, as she slipped her arm through Miranda’s and they walked inside.