Actions

Work Header

Once Burned

Work Text:

 

Running across the busy New York street with two mugs of Starbucks coffee on a cardboard tray, Andrea Sachs knew she was in for her boss' wrath. Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway, the bestselling fashion magazine in the U.S., could be devilish if you fell short of perfection. Andy knew she had become better at being Miranda's second assistant, but she still had a lot to learn. Miranda had a way of making her nervous, and when Andy was nervous, she talked too much, became clumsy, and made stupid mistakes. Being late was one of those unforgiveable mistakes, and Andy was supposed to bring Miranda her coffee at precisely 3:30 pm. It was now 3:32.

Miranda was almost twice Andy's age and stunningly beautiful with her stylish short white hair, exquisite pale skin, blue eyes, and perfectly painted lips. The latter were very quick to fire off sarcastic barbs and insults whenever she was displeased, which oddly enough only seemed to emphasize her beauty. Then there were her high-end clothes, often one-of-a-kind garments, which were delivered directly to her from the designers. Andy shuddered at the memory of how Miranda had looked her over with a mix of disdain and confusion when they met the first time. Applying for the job that “a million girls would kill for,” Andy had not realized what she was in for. She had never heard of Miranda Priestly, something that shocked Emily, Miranda's first assistant, and amused Nigel, her right hand man. Clearly, Miranda was worshipped by many and feared by most.

Now, Andy risked her life, running between cars, half scalding herself when coffee splashed onto her hands despite the lids covering the mugs. If the coffee wasn't searing hot, Miranda pursed her lips and, if she was really in a bad mood, she'd actually snarl. Once, when a temp assistant happened to bring her lukewarm coffee, Miranda had demonstratively poured the coffee into the assistant's waste paper bin, right in front of everybody. "Is it too much to ask of Human Resources to send me a temp that is above the Neanderthal stage?" She had scorched the poor girl with her laser-blue eyes while coffee had splashed everywhere. The temp had begun to cry and ran out of the office, never to be seen or heard from again.

Andy entered the tall Elias-Clarke building, home of Runway's offices. She rushed by the security guard, who sent her a compassionate glance, shaking his head. Damn it to hell, Miranda was already here. Andy was trying so hard to prove she could do this job and a small voice inside her also maintained that she was trying to prove herself to Miranda for all sorts of enigmatic reasons. If she couldn't even master the coffee run, then she was indeed toast.

As she rushed through the eerily vacant corridors of Runway, her mouth dry and her Jimmy Choo heels not doing much to keep her upright, Andy wondered not if, but how Miranda would cut her off at the knees. She always suspected that Miranda kept an actual axe in the corner of her office. Chop, and there goes another assistant. You win some you lose some. Next.

Emily regarded her with a mix of malice and pity as Andy skidded into their office area.

"You are a dead, dead girl," Emily said gravely. "I might as well get Human Resources on the phone because you won't get yet another second chance. I can feel it." She dramatically pressed a hand against her chest while shaking her head.

Not even slowing down to comment on Emily's words, Andy took a deep breath and hurried into Miranda's office. The lioness's den. The devil's lair. The bright corner office went by many names.

Miranda was at her desk, going through some of the competitors' magazines. She slowly looked up as Andy came to a halt on the opposite side. "Andrea. Is it impossible for you to carry out the most mundane of tasks? I mean, two mugs of coffee. It's not like I asked you to remove my appendix."

"I'm sorry, Miranda. The line at Starbucks was insane and I tried to get the barista's attention. It wasn't the usual one; this one didn't recognize me so I—"

"Failed." The clipped tone was still too kind to be an honest-to-God Miranda expression.

"Yes." Realizing she still clung to the tray, Andy placed it gently in front of Miranda, careful not to spill on the magazines.

"We agreed your next failure would meet with severe consequences, didn't we?" Miranda spoke slowly as she reached for the first coffee mug.

We? Andy refused to make matters worse by rolling her eyes, but she knew she certainly hadn't agreed to any sort of repercussion whatsoever. Not stupid enough to say this to Miranda's face, she remained quiet and awaited her verdict, her heart pounding so loudly she was sure even Emily could hear it in the outer office.

Miranda leaned back in her chair, sipping her coffee. "At least it's hot."

"I know." The words were out before Andy could edit herself. Cursing inwardly, she clasped her stinging hands behind her back.

"You. Know." It wasn't a question, but Miranda carefully placed the mug back into the tray, her upper lip exposing even, white teeth. "You tasted my coffee?" she hissed, locking her eyes on a trembling Andy.

"No. God, no. Miranda, please, I-I would never…"

"How would you know it was hot enough, then?" The words were delivered like clattering castanets.

"I…I ran. And it splashed. Just a little. There's plenty there, still. I didn't waste much." Feeling ridiculous at having to explain a few drops of missing coffee, Andy began to inch back toward the door.

"Stop talking." Miranda rose and rounded the desk. Grabbing Andy by the arm, she pulled her over by the window. "You burned your hands." It was still not a question. "Show me."

"It's nothing, Miranda." Andy tried to recover from having Miranda actually touch her, even if it was through several layers of designer clothes. "Really, it's nothing."

"For heaven's sake, can you stop arguing and for once do as I ask?"

Ask? Since when did Miranda ask? She barked orders and delivered barbs and skinned people with her laser-sharp tongue, but she never asked. Knowing she would give in eventually anyway, Andy held out her hands. To her dismay, she was trembling and she knew Miranda noticed it. Miranda Priestly made it to the top by never missing anything. She focused those eyes on you, or the task at hand, and didn't let go until she absorbed everything.

Miranda gently cupped Andy's hands. "Andrea! You need cold water. Now."

Andy thought she would faint when Miranda placed a hand on her lower back and whisked her into her private bathroom. There, she ran the faucet, making sure the water was cold, and motioned for Andy to hold her hands under it.

"It's nothing. It's not necessary—I'll just, you know, use the restroom in the—"

"Quiet. You obviously have no knowledge what burns can do to a person." Miranda spoke curtly, but her eyes were wider than usual and she nudged Andy closer to the sink, holding her in place with an arm around her waist. "Time is of the essence and going to the other restroom where God-knows-who spread their bacteria? That's ridiculous."

Andy needed the support since her knees suddenly threatened to give in. She was pretty sure that her legs lost cohesion because of Miranda's unexpected touch, but maybe Miranda would think Andy got weak in the knees because of the scalding. Andy harbored so many conflicted feelings regarding this woman. No wonder her system practically came to a full stop in her presence.

Andy regarded her hands and absentmindedly noticed that the coffee had indeed wreaked havoc on her pale skin. No blisters, but lots of red blotches that stung badly at first, but were soothed by the cool water.

"Thank you." Andy knew Miranda couldn't care less about gratitude, but she was grateful that the stinging sensation was fading. "This is helping. It really is."

"Silly girl." Miranda's voice was impossibly soft, which made Andy gasp inaudibly and quickly turn her head, suspecting a trap, since Miranda never did anything that didn't benefit herself. Now, her cheeks boasting a faint pink, Miranda looked a little shell-shocked, as if her own actions and words just registered.

"Can you manage? You need to hold your hands here for at least fifteen minutes. I'm expecting a call from Calvin Klein." Just the fact that Miranda explained herself was evidence that Andy's boss was totally acting out of character. She slowly let go of Andy and wiped her hands on a towel.

"I'm fine. Go ahead." Andy forced a smile that became genuine when Miranda still remained, looking indecisive. "Honestly."

"Very well." Miranda checked her reflection and did not meet Andy's gaze in the mirror. She left the bathroom, the heels of her tan Prada open-toe pumps marking every step with a resounding clack.

Andy remained with her hands under the faucet for exactly fifteen minutes. If she had tried to cut it short, she was certain that Miranda would be on her case again. She could so use this unexpected reprieve.

When she finally left the bathroom, Miranda's wasn't at her desk. Relieved, Andy sat down at her desk and met Emily's glare with a shrug.

"Oh, you poor baby," Emily said and made a face. "Running to Miranda with a boo-boo. How pathetic."

"Oh, hold your breath and don't let go, Emily," Andy muttered and checked her email. A private email from Lily, her friend, or perhaps former friend, made her frown. Reluctantly, Andy clicked it open and had only read three sentences before she regretted doing so. Having broken up with her boyfriend since college, Nate, her old friends Doug and Lily had quickly taken sides. Really, they had sided with Nate as soon as Andy's new job started to become more and more demanding. She couldn't help feeling betrayed. They resented her working as Miranda's assistant, and yet they'd loved the fancy, high-end presents that she brought home. Several times, Andy had asked herself if they would have reacted the same way if Miranda had been a man, or if Andy had gotten a job at a newspaper, which was her ultimate goal. She doubted it. Now Lily informed her that Nate had left her couch and gone to Boston to work. Lily's words breathed anger and resentment, and she clearly thought that Nate was better off without Andy.

"Perhaps it's true," Andy murmured and placed the email in the trash can and emptied it.

"What are you muttering about?" Emily suddenly stood by her desk. "Here. Miranda wants fifty copies of each of these." She dropped a three-inch pile of papers on Andy's desk with a resounding bang. "Not even you should be able to screw that up."

"Why are you so mad?" Andy took the pile of papers, wincing as it stung her hands.

"Because for some unfathomable reason you got yet another break. It's not fair. Nobody else would get away with what you do." Emily turned on her four-inch heels and walked back to her desk. "Don't take all day."

But it did take a long time to copy and bind the papers. Andy oversaw the procedure herself, as two guys scurried like startled rodents around the huge Xerox machine. As the pile grew, she realized she would need a cart to transport the copies to Miranda's office. Fortunately the guys could provide that also, and Andy hauled the heavy load back to the office, gasping for breath as she reached her desk. To her dismay, Emily wasn't there, and the phone blinked like a Christmas tree.

"Miranda Priestly's office, how can I help you?"

The upset woman at the other end spoke so fast Andy could hardly hear her.

"Please, ma'am, I can't understand. If you can speak slower—"

"Slower? This is Carmen. I need to speak to Ms. Miranda."

"Carmen. Miranda isn't here—"

Interrupting in fast broken English, Carmen was clearly distraught. Andy glanced into Miranda's office, but she wasn't at her desk. Knowing this was important, Andy tried in vain to calm the woman. "Carmen, listen, I'll page Miranda for you—"

"I'll take it." Miranda appeared out of nowhere and plucked the receiver from Andy's hands. "Miranda Priestly. Who is this?" She frowned and sat down on Andy's chair. "But she's all right? Put her on."

Andy placed the cart next to the wall, to keep it out of anyone's way, trying not to listen in on Miranda's obviously private conversation.

"But, Bobbsey, you sound fine now. Does it hurt? A little. I'm sure Daddy will take care of it. Yes. Only two nights. I promise." Miranda's voice was soft again, similar in tone to before, in her bathroom. "Let Daddy check the bandage; it's important to keep it clean. All right? Good." She offered a few more consoling words. "See you and Cassidy on Sunday evening, Caroline." She hung up and stood. "You took your time."

"I'm sorry. Here are the copies." Glancing at the clock on the wall, Andy realized it was 8 pm. She had been with the copy guys over four hours? No wonder she was so tired. And hungry.

"Fifty of them?" Miranda picked up one, browsing it quickly.

"Yes."

"And the originals?"

"On top, in the purple folder." Andy wondered if she sounded as exhausted and weak as she felt.

"All right." Miranda returned the copy to the cart. "Coat. Bag."

Andy rushed over to the clothes rack and pulled the cashmere coat and the Vuitton bag to her. She helped Miranda with the coat, inhaling her expensive scent as she did. "I-I hope your kid is okay." Andy regretted the words as soon as they left her treacherous lips.

"I beg your pardon?" Miranda sent her a disdainful look.

"Eh, I couldn't help overhearing—I mean, the woman, she was clearly panicking." Andy took her own coat and shoved her arms into its sleeves. "And you seemed to be trying to calm a child."

"Well." Miranda strode toward the exit with a contemptuous glance toward Andy. "Never had you pegged as an eavesdropper."

"I didn't mean to. Honestly. I mean, you were right there, at my desk, and I—"

"And you seized the opportunity to know more about your boss. Perhaps for leverage later on."

"What? Leverage?" Andy had no idea what Miranda was on about.

"Or perhaps I'm overestimating your talents." Miranda pushed the button to the elevator impatiently. "You don't seem to be very good at scheming and plotting."

"I—I should think not! I'm only trying to do my job, Miranda," Andy implored. "I have no hidden agendas."

"Really." Sounding utterly bored, Miranda stepped into the elevator. Andy took a step back since nobody in their right mind ever tried to ride the elevator with Miranda Priestly.

To Andy's utter astonishment, Miranda shrugged and stepped sideways. She motioned with her chin, an impatient Miranda-gesture that Andy recognized immediately. What wasn't typical at all was the implication that Miranda wanted Andy to accompany her. What if it was a trap? Andy groaned mutedly at her own paranoia and stepped inside the elevator next to Miranda.

"Thank you." Andy kept her eyes on the numbers as they counted backward. Please, let it go quick, she thought fervently. She wanted to be out of Miranda's silver-white hair as soon as humanly possible. Suddenly a thought struck her. "What about The Book? Wasn't I supposed to wait around for The Book?" The Book was the dummy for the upcoming issue of Runway, and it was delivered to Miranda's townhouse every evening by one of her assistants. No exceptions.

"The strapping young man who normally hands it over to you will deliver it. Emily arranged it." The curt reply held such impatience Andy wanted to shrink into the wall.

"Oh. Okay. Good. I mean great." Andy forced herself to stop babbling. Whenever she got nervous, her mouth just kept talking. If she would bet on the mostly likely cause for Miranda to fire her ass, being overly chatty would probably be right up there.

A squeaky shrill sound made Andy flinch and Miranda frown. Then the elevator lurched and came to a sudden stop. Andy had to brace herself against the wall. "What…?"

Miranda calmly motioned for Andy to use the emergency phone.

"Hello? Anybody there? Hello? Hello?" Andy heard nothing, not even static. Just as she hung up again with a helpless shrug of her shoulders, the elevator became dark. Pitch black. "Miranda!" Suddenly Andy felt as if she couldn't breathe.

"Calm down, for heaven's sake." Miranda sounded exasperated. "Couldn't you hear anybody on that damn phone?"

"N-nobody. It was completely dead. Surely they know we're stuck, don't they? They're going to come and open the doors any minute?"

"Get ahold of yourself, Andrea."

The way Miranda pronounced her name, “An-drey-ah,” helped calm Andy more than anything else. She drew deep breaths through her nose and out her mouth, just like the therapist had shown her when she'd attended group sessions to rid herself of her claustrophobia and achluophobia. This was both, damn it. Confined spaces and darkness, and on top of that the biggest horror of all, Miranda Priestly.

"Better?" Miranda interrupted.

"Yes," Andy answered, still out of breath.

A faint light came on, causing Andy to heave a deep sigh of relief. "Emergency lights. Thank God." She leaned against the wall. "I don't like darkness."

"I would never have guessed. Don't tell me, you are claustrophobic too?"

"I'm working on handling it." Andy's lips felt rigid at Miranda's contemptuous tone.

"Mm."

Mm? What was that supposed to mean? Andy sighed and looked around. Nowhere to sit. The floor wasn't dirty exactly, but she would rather not sit directly on it in her designer clothes borrowed from The Closet. The Closet held clothes, shoes and accessories from all the major designers, left over from photo shoots. Nigel had helped her choose the first time, but eventually, Andy's own taste had demanded she choose for herself. The clothes cost more than what she made in a month, so risking them by sitting on an elevator floor was a big no-no.

"I don't know about you, but I need to sit down," Miranda said, startling her. "The floor is filthy. Any suggestions?"

For a flabbergasting moment, Andy thought Miranda was implying that Andy go on all fours and create a human stool for her boss. Then a thought struck her. "Oh, wait. I know. I have samples of brochures that I was going to sort for you tonight." Andy knelt carefully to avoid touching the floor too much and spread the vast number of brochures she was hauling around in her briefcase, creating enough clean space for them to sit. "Here." Without thinking, she extended a hand to Miranda, who hesitatingly took it and maneuvered gracefully down to sit on the floor. "This okay?" Andy asked.

"Hardly comfortable, but better than standing on four-inch heels while they take their sweet time opening the doors.”

"I haven't even heard anyone outside. Should we scream for help?"

"No. We shouldn't. Use your cell phone. Call maintenance."

Andy groaned inwardly at the thought of how many conversations her phone had dropped in this elevator shaft before. The signal was dodgy at best. Still, she dialed maintenance, over and over, until her battery started sending out warnings.

"Oh, no. It's going dead."

"You didn't charge your phone?" Miranda looked up at the ceiling. "How would I be able to reach you if you don't charge your phone?"

"I meant to charge it while I waited for The Book." Andy slumped back. Andy's phone lost the last of its power with a muted ping. "Wait, can't we use yours?"

"Do you remember the maintenance number by heart?"

"No, but we can call 911." Andy extended her hand. Miranda dug through her purse and handed over her cell phone. Pressing the button to bring it to life, Andy simply stared it, not sure how to tell Miranda.

"What?" Miranda sighed impatiently. "Forget the number?"

"It's dead." Andy carefully raised her gaze to meet Miranda's. "It's out of power."

"It's not…I just…talked to Irv." Miranda yanked her phone back and pressed the button several times. Her phone wouldn't even give a sorrowful ping, which Andy guessed made her the winner.

"Okay, time to start yelling now?" Andy leaned her head back.

"Don't be sassy."

"Sassy?" Andy closed her lips tight before she said something that would get her fired on the spot. Sharing an elevator with Miranda was a miracle. Sharing a stuck elevator with Miranda was uncomfortable. Sharing an elevator with Miranda after being fired—ought to be pure hell. "I'm sorry."

They sat in silence for a while. Andy tried to not think about any phobias, or the intoxicating scent from the woman sitting next to her. So much had happened since she started working for Miranda, and her life had changed completely because of it. Her whole day was filled with doing Miranda's bidding, fulfilling her wishes and carrying out her assignments. Andy's nights, however, were filled with confusing, hot dreams, in which this particular scent, Miranda's scent, haunted her.

"How are your hands?" Miranda's voice made Andy flinch. "My God, are you always this jumpy?"

"Only when I'm locked up with the boss." Andy knew she was losing it. She had to be to talk to Miranda like that. "Eh, my hands are fine."

"Show me."

"What?"

"I was unaware that claustrophobia affects a person's hearing as well. Show me your hands." Carefully enunciating the last four words, Miranda held out her hand.

Andy showed her hands, and was stunned beyond words when Miranda took them between hers, one at a time, and examined them closely in the muted light. "You do seem to be all right. Just a little red."

"I said I was fine."

"So you did." Miranda was still holding on to Andy's left hand, looking absent minded.

"What about you?"

"What do you mean?" Miranda raised her eyebrows.

"Any phobias I need to know about?" Andy smiled, careful to show she was trying to defuse the situation with lame humor.

"Fire, actually."

Fire? Andy winced and scooted closer as Miranda squeezed her hand painfully. "Miranda?"

"It's not a phobia, per se." Miranda spoke so quietly Andy had to lean in not to miss anything. The perfume, together with another scent, of a high-end lotion and something else, something purely Miranda, filled her senses. "Phobias are usually irrational fears. Although I'm sure very real," she added quickly, glancing at Andy.

"So you've been in a fire, or witnessed one?" Andy asked softly and turned her hand inconspicuously in Miranda's, holding hers gently.

"When I was…younger, I had an accident. A stupid accident." Miranda pursed her lips and looked away. "Burning cooking oil spilled on my lap."

It didn't take a genius to realize what pain Miranda had gone through. Andy shuddered at the thought of liquid flames eating through clothes to the soft, sensitive flesh on Miranda's legs. The revelation in itself was astounding. The mere fact that Miranda would tell anybody, let alone Andy, such a private, painful thing. It didn't make sense. Andy pulled her shoulders up. Why was she confiding in her all of a sudden? Perhaps she means to kill me afterward?

"Tell me," Andy said simply.

"Nothing to tell, really. I was burned." Miranda swallowed audibly. "Scarred."

"Badly?"

"Yes."

"Where?" Andy coughed at the intrusive question, but kept going. "Your legs?"

"My-my thighs. It took a long time to heal. I had to wear the most ghastly stockings for a long time to limit the scarring. Some skin grafting was required."

"So much pain," Andy murmured and blinked against the stinging sensation behind her eyelids.

"I lived."

"Was, eh, was this why you were concerned today, when I scalded my hands?" Andy felt presumptuous even asking.

Miranda sat silent, her hand still in Andy's. "I suppose that could be the case. I would not wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy."

"I'm comparable to your worst enemy?" Andy began pulling her hand back, the pain in the center of her chest making it hard to speak.

"What? No, of course not. That's not what I said. You do have to learn how to listen, Andrea."

"You just said—"

"Whatever you thought I meant, it's simply not the case. I would never wish it on anybody, especially not you. You…you are valuable to me, Andrea."

"I am? How? I mostly seem to annoy you."

"Don't be ridiculous. That means nothing. Everybody annoys me." Miranda took Andy's hand again. "You are valuable because—because you're different."

"Different? I have done my best to fit in at Runway, and you've even told me my clothes are not completely horrible anymore."

"You're kind. You're beautiful." Miranda winced visibly and let go of Andy's hand. "You're also extremely smart and even if you don't always succeed a hundred percent, I do notice you're trying."

"I thought you thought I was trying, period." Attempting another lame joke, Andy could see Miranda roll her eyes again.

"You have a point," Miranda said. "And I'm not going to tell you anything else. It might go to your head, and you will entertain me with more jokes." She didn't make quotation marks in the air around the last word; she didn't have to. Clearly Miranda thought Andy's jokes needed more work.

They sat in silence for a moment, but then Andy thought she saw tiny tremors in Miranda's body.

"Are you cold?" Andy blurted out, fully expecting Miranda to hiss at her.

"Yes. Ridiculous. We are indoors after all."

"Yeah, but the elevator shaft is probably pretty drafty and the air conditioning in here adds to that." Andrea pulled off her coat and carefully wrapped it around Miranda. "Better?" She felt so vulnerable when she sat next to Miranda in her Michael Kors outfit, her arms bare.

"Yes, but what about you?" Miranda gazed at her, up and down, repeatedly.

"Oh, I'm fine. You know us size six girls; we have more body fat to keep us warm." Andy giggled, only to go quiet instantly when Miranda placed a hand on her knee.

"You have goosebumps. I think we can fit both under this coat. Come closer." Miranda lifted the right side of the coat and motioned impatiently with her chin.

Andy scooted closer, mindful not to shift the brochures that kept their expensive clothes from getting dirty. "Tha-thank you." Her left side was now pressed against Miranda's right, and she could feel their combined body heat rise. "This seems to be working."

"It does indeed." Miranda leaned her head back against the wall. "God, my neck is killing me today."

"Did you pull something?"

"I think I did." Miranda's ears turned pink. "Cassidy was trying to teach me the latest dance they picked up from MTV."

"Oh." Andy's mind went wild as she tried to picture a shimmy-shaking Miranda Priestly having fun with her kids. "Sounds like fun."

"It was. It was also painful. Mostly painful for my pride to realize I'm not seventeen anymore."

"You're more beautiful than any teenager." Andy wanted to thud her head at the wall when she realized she'd let her guard down. Oh, please, please, just ignore that, please.

"Really. Is that your honest opinion?" Miranda spoke coolly and turned her head to look at Andy.

"Absolutely. A seventeen year old can be very pretty, and some of the models are that young and they take fantastic pictures. In my opinion, a, eh, mature woman is beautiful in a more substantial way. Her experiences, her happiness and sorrows, her failures and successes, they all show, and emphasize her beauty. That is much more appealing than a blank-canvas-kind-of seventeen year old." Andy drew a deep breath. "I think, anyway."

"Oh my." Miranda shocked Andy by letting her head rest on her shoulder. "You sound like you have someone in particular in mind, someone you've…studied."

Goodness, she was so busted, Andy thought. Her mind whirled and all she could think of was the slight weight of Miranda's elegant head on her shoulder.

"Andrea?"

Oh, that voice, the slow pronunciation of her name, it was enough to drive her insane. Andy just couldn't bring herself to say anything; instead she raised her left hand and gently cupped Miranda's cheek, hoping to convey wordlessly how she felt. Miranda in turn sighed and wiggled closer, probably just to get more comfortable. Once again they sat in silence, waiting for the outside world to rescue them. Andy could still feel tremors course through Miranda's body occasionally, but she seemed warmer now.

"I never showed my scars to any of my husbands if I could help it." Miranda turned her face into Andy's neck.

"What? No? Why not? Surely they understood and sympathized?" Morons. Andy didn't think any sane man should ever divorce this woman no matter how difficult and demanding she could be. Still, an evil part of her was glad they had.

"Perhaps. Not all of them, all the time. My first husband expressed…dismay."

"What was his problem?" Andy was appalled.

"He…he wanted perfection. So did I. The perfect marriage, the perfect life. I did get two perfect little girls." Miranda spoke slowly, as if she was in trance. Andy had no idea what had prompted her terrifying boss into confiding in her assistant.

"I'm sorry you were hurt, Miranda, but when you love someone, superficial things such as scars don't matter, shouldn't matter." Passionate about what they discussed, Andy didn't realize what she'd said exactly. "He should've been understanding and showed you without a shadow of a doubt how gorgeous you are." Andy stroked Miranda's cheek gently.

"You seem so certain. That could be your youth talking." Miranda tried to pull away a little.

Andy knew it would feel like physical pain if Miranda put distance between them again. She gently held her hand against Miranda's cheek. Dreading the risk of rejection, Andy leaned her head gently against Miranda's hair, careful not to put any weight on her. She held her breath until it became clear Miranda was not going to push her away. They sat like that until Miranda's breathing indicated she had fallen asleep. Andy was tired also, but she wasn't going to miss out on having Miranda Priestly so close, practically in her arms. She stealthily moved her head and pressed a soft kiss on Miranda's hair, once again inhaling her scent.

Andy knew she ought to hate her boss with a passion, but the fact remained that she didn't. The complete truth was that Miranda stirred emotions in her that Andy had never been able to foresee. She had never really contemplated being attractive to anyone of her own gender. Unlike some of her friends in college, she had never indulged in sexual experimenting, probably since she had a steady boyfriend and when they broke up, it didn't take long for her to fall for Nate. When that didn't work out either, she had a short fling with Christian Thompson, a writer she'd met while working for Miranda. He'd been nice, until she learned of the plot he was part of to dethrone Miranda and take Runway away from her. That hadn't happened, because Miranda ended up outsmarting them all, and true to her unscrupulous nature when it came to business, she had walked all over people, friends and foe, to obtain her goal: to remain as editor-in-chief of Runway. It was insane that the same cutthroat woman was now asleep in Andy's arms after disclosing a deep personal trauma with subsequent insecurities. Andy had almost left Miranda to her own devices in Paris, but eventually relented, after staying AWOL for two days. Miranda had been furious when Andy returned to the hotel after having bought a new cell phone to replace the old one that she had thrown into a fountain. Eventually, Miranda had relented, actually looking both exhausted and relieved, and she had single-handedly decided that they'd never mention this slip ever again. Now, four months later, Andy and Miranda had stuck to the decision. They never spoke about the incident.

Suddenly the elevator jerked and the lights came back on. Miranda flinched and sat up. "What?"

"We're moving, I think." Andy moved, moaning at how stiff her body felt. She helped Miranda to her feet, and tried to not mourn the loss of their previous closeness. At least not to so obviously that Miranda noticed.

The elevator came to a halt and the doors opened, delivering them to the lobby. Two security guards and two maintenance guys stared at them, slack jawed. "Ma'am. Ms. Priestly. What-what are you doing here?"

"Trying to vacate the premises and go home," Miranda huffed. "You sure took your sweet time to get us out of there."

"We didn't know you were there, ma'am."

"Wonderful. We could have starved there until tomorrow. Andrea." Miranda started walking and stopped again, turning to one of the security guards. "Hand me your cell phone."

He did as told, looking completely intimidated. Miranda dialed a number from memory.

"Roy? Meet us at the entrance, and be quick about it." She tossed the phone back to the guard.

Us? Bewildered, Andy followed Miranda out the door. The spring air was as fresh as it would ever get in New York City, but it was a relief to be free from confinement. Still, a part of Andy missed the closeness she'd shared briefly with Miranda.

"Here's Roy." Miranda didn't wait for her driver to get out and open the door, instead holding it open and motioning for Andy to get in. "I want you to join me at the townhouse."

"Oh." Careful not to ask why, since Miranda looked so pressured and seemed on edge like never before, Andy crept into the backseat. Miranda followed her and they rode in silence through the busy streets of Friday evening New York.

"Did you have any plans this evening?" Miranda spoke so quietly Andy had to tilt her head to hear her.

Now she asked, when they were halfway to Miranda's house. Yet Andy didn't feel trapped; instead a flood of relief surged through her system, and she leaned back and forced herself to relax. Clearly, Miranda had more to say, and wanted privacy to be able to say it. The implications were staggering, and turned her insides into a knot.

The townhouse was eerily quiet, and only two small ambiance lamps in the hallway were lit when they arrived. Miranda sent Roy home, so Andy understood she was meant to stay a while and then take a cab to her apartment. Her palms sweaty, she stood indecisively as Miranda pulled off her cashmere coat and hung it herself in the hallway closet.

"Are you going to stand there all evening?" Miranda raised an eyebrow, fluttering a hand at Andy.

Andy slipped out of her coat and reached for a hanger when Miranda impatiently took it and hung it for her.

Miranda Priestly hangs my coat. This is the Twilight Zone, for sure. Andy took a deep breath.

"Would you like something to eat?" Miranda placed a hand on her hip.

Andy opened her mouth to speak, but a knock on the door made her jump. Without thinking, she turned around and opened it. A young man stood outside, but it wasn't anyone who worked at Runway;¸it was a messenger, his car waiting with its motor running down on the street.

"Package for Miranda Priestly," he said, sounding utterly bored.

Andy signed for it, and took what had to be Tthe Book off his hands. She hardly dared turn around and hand it over to Miranda. Whoever at Runway had hatched the brilliant idea of messengering The Book, of letting it out of their sight, was going to get killed. And then fired. Strung up by their tie or garter, or both, and then fired. Andy swallowed. "Here you are. The Book. I think."

"So I see." Miranda took the package into the kitchen and opened it on the counter. Andy stood next to her, holding her breath. "It seems unharmed. It better have been delivered directly here, and not Xeroxed by some minion out to make a buck." Her voice was like ice water.

"I-I hope so too. I knew I should've stuck around and waited for it. I—"

"And left me alone in the elevator?" Miranda looked affronted. "You regret it. Riding down with me. Everything." Now the glacial demeanor was directed toward Andy and she held up both hands, palms forward.

"Not at all. Not by a long shot, Miranda. I just worry about The Book. I wouldn't want to…I mean, ho-holding you like that was…" She couldn't continue because lying was out of the question and telling the truth was just as impossible.

"Was what?" Miranda's voice was stern, but her blue eyes soft.

Andy groaned. "Was precious," she whispered. Fiddling with the collar of her shirt, she didn't know where to look.

"Come." To Andy's surprise, Miranda took her by the hand and pulled her toward the stairs. On the next floor was a den, outfitted with a large desk and a small sitting area. The three seat couch was huge, and Miranda sat down, pulling Andy with her. "I promise to feed you soon, but we need to talk," Miranda said. "I shared some personal information in the elevator, and at first I did it to make you focus on something else than your claustrophobia."

Andy didn't know what to say, so she just waited for Miranda to continue.

"I ended up telling you things I've never told a single soul. I don't regret it, but I'm also…concerned, since I realize that this might make you uncomfortable. We have a good working relationship and I don't want to make you feel…strange." Making a face, probably at her own temporary lack of eloquence. "I want keep what we have."

"So do I." Suddenly overcome by an unexpected tidal wave of tenderness, an urge to reassure Miranda, Andy scooted closer. She took Miranda's hand between hers, feeling it tremble. "You have nothing to worry about. You have my complete loyalty, no questions asked. What you tell me goes no further and I—I treasure how you confided in me. I realize you must keep a professional distance from the people who work for you, but from a selfish point of view, I'm kind of glad you talked to me." And let me hold you.

"Kind of?" Miranda pursed her lips, but Andy guessed it was mostly at the imprecise expression. "I'm glad you see it that way." She glanced down at their joined hands. "You're a very beautiful young woman, Andrea."

"Thank you." Andrea's breath caught in her throat. "You know what I think of you."

"That I'm a reasonably well-preserved four-star bitch who is in dire need of a charm course?" Miranda tilted her head, small demons playing in her eyes.

"Miranda!" Andy knew Miranda was yanking her chain, but she didn't want her to think this could even be remotely true. "Don't say that."

"All right, all right." Miranda used her free hand to cup Andy's cheek. "I'll be good."

God, could the woman not speak with sexiness pouring from her voice? Andy felt several shudders rattle her bones.

Miranda lowered her hand and smoothed her skirt. "I'm glad you came home with me. Somehow being home alone seemed unappealing."

Miranda hadn't given her much choice, of course, but even if she had, Andy would have jumped into the car. "I wanted to be here," she confessed.

"Good. Good." Miranda smoothed down her skirt again. "Will you stay the night?"

God, there was no air in Miranda's den. All the oxygen had been sucked out through the vents. Stay the night? "Sure. Why not? Eh…why?"

"You tell me. Why do I ask you this now, all of a sudden?" Miranda sounded cool and calm. Her blue eyes never left Andy's as she let her thumb caress the back of Andy's hand.

"Maybe—maybe you know I wouldn't let you down." Andy tried hard to be courageous without acting stupidly. "The…the attraction, maybe I imagined it, I mean from your end, but from my own, it's there. I do care." God, she was going to be fired now. On the spot. Andy wondered what possessed her to risk everything, risk not being able to see Miranda five, six days a week. Tears burned her eyelids again, but she swallowed them down, repeatedly.

"Yes, the attraction. Unexpected, wasn't it?" Miranda spoke thoughtfully, tilting her head again.

"Yes."

"I wonder when it began."

"Already before Paris," Andy said quietly.

"Yes. I think it started when I came into work and Nigel had given you a makeover. I know it sounds superficial, but that's when I finally could see beyond your mask. Before then, all I saw was a young woman who looked at my life's work with contempt." Miranda blushed.

Wait now, Andy thought, trying to rewind the conversation. Was Miranda talking about a mutual attraction? Surely that was a misunderstanding? "You find me attractive too?" Andy had to ask, knowing the ice she skated on was paper thin by now.

"Of course. See anyone else in here?" Miranda looked stern. "I have seen the way you look at me sometimes, and unless I've completely lost my ability to read people, and as inexplicable as it is, you seem to find me appealing. I'm twice as old as you, but I think you know that."

"Yes. It's irrelevant, but I know that." Bolder now, and so hot she thought Miranda had to feel the heat emanating from her, Andy felt mortified at the wetness pooling between her legs. She pressed them together as she moved even closer to Miranda. "I wish I could kiss you." Shocked at her own words, Andy merely looked at Miranda.

"What is keeping you?" Miranda looked completely unaffected, except for her flushed cheeks.

Leaning forward, Andy brushed her lips across Miranda's. All she could think of was how soft they were and how sweet Miranda tasted. Used to kissing guys, used to stubble and other types of lips, Andy moaned into the complete bliss of feeling deliciously smooth skin. She didn't dare move outside the boundaries of Miranda's mouth, nor did she part her lips, she just kept up a soft pressure. To her astonished delight, Miranda cupped the back of Andy's head and held her in place, returning the kiss. Once they parted, Andy had to look at Miranda, all of her. Her ice blue eyes were half closed, her cheeks slightly flushed. Miranda's lips seemed fuller and she ran the tip of her tongue quickly across them. Andy would've given her right arm and the left too, to be able to taste it.

"So you kiss very well too, Andrea." Miranda still held Andy by the back of her neck. "You are a girl of many talents." There was no teasing in her tone, not really.

"I…Miranda…Kissing you, I mean, I can hardly breathe." Trying to figure out what this meant, Andy raised a careful hand and traced Miranda's left eyebrow. When this didn't meet with any objections, she slid the same finger down Miranda's elegant, narrow nose. "You are gorgeous," she breathed and, taking Miranda by her shoulders, she pressed her lips to her mouth again, this time with more passion, more fire.

Whimpering into the kiss—the sound sent more wetness to Andy's sex—Miranda wrapped her arms around Andy, parting her lips. Andy slipped her tongue inside and trembled all over when Miranda met it with just as much eagerness. She was kissing Miranda. Miranda, for heaven's sake. She was kissing Miranda Priestly, whom she feared. Whom I love. The words startled Andy, but not enough to let go of Miranda's lips. She pressed Miranda back against the upholstered armrest, ending up on top of her. Miranda's skirt hampered her movement, and Andy pushed at it to be able to settle between her legs. Suddenly Miranda took Andy's hand in a tight grip.

"No." There was apprehension in her voice, spoken against Andy's lips. "Don't."

"What?" Andy blinked, looking down at Miranda, whose cheeks were now a deep red.

"Please. Don't."

"Oh, God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to push you like this. I'm not usually so forward, or so careless. I didn't mean to scare—" Babbling in total humiliation, Andy went quiet when Miranda placed two unsteady fingertips on her lips. "W-what?"

"I don't mind kissing, or the passionate embrace. I really don't. I…" Miranda gasped for air. "I just don't want you to push my skirt up."

Andy didn't understand. "I wasn't going to do anything you didn't want me to."

"I know that. You are hardly a predator by nature, Andrea."

"Then, what…"

"My scars," Miranda whispered. "We have the light on and…I don't want you to see. My scars." Clearly these words did not come easy to Miranda. She, who looked perfect every single hour of the day, at least in public. It had to kill her to explain this to Andy.

"Miranda, I really don't care, no wrong word, I do care. I care that you got hurt. I don't find scars a turn off, or something to hold against someone. I promise."

"You say that now. You don't know."

"Perhaps not, but I promise you another thing too. If you don't want to show me, then I won't look. I won't. I just want you to share what you can show me."

Miranda looked up at her from underneath the silvery hair. Her eyes, darker now with worry, and with passion, seemed to calculate the risk. Andy leaned forward, bracing herself on her arms to not weigh down on Miranda, and kissed her neck. She slid her lips along the neckline of her blouse, kissing and occasionally licking her way over to the other collarbone and up the other side of her neck. She found the soft lips again and devoured them, helpless to resist the temptation. Who could've guessed that Miranda Priestly would turn out to be the best kisser she'd ever met? There was nothing of first-time clumsiness. The kisses were true perfection and Andy could tell that Miranda felt the same way.

"Can you feel it?" Andy asked against Miranda's mouth. "Can you feel how strong the pull is?"

"Of course I can," Miranda whimpered. "You're intoxicating. Exquisite." She wrapped both arms around Andy's neck and pulled her down. Andy lost her grip and ended up with full body contact, Miranda's heat permeating her.

Andy made sure she slid halfway off Miranda, afraid of crushing her. This placed her right leg between Miranda's and the skirt was inevitably pushed up a bit further. When Miranda went rigid, Andy made a hushing sound and placed her free hand on her hip.

"Want to turn off the lights?" Andy asked.

"No, I want to be able to see you."

"What if you let me feel first? Would that make it easier? I really want to touch you. Caress you." Andy felt her own legs tremble at the thought of touching Miranda. Every part she'd touched so far was soft and smooth, no doubt due to expensive treatments at the spas Miranda favored.

"Just touch?" Miranda sounded thoughtful.

"Just touch."

"Very well." Rigid, Miranda took Andy's hand and pushed it under the hem of her skirt. "Close your eyes."

Andy complied readily, her hand trembling out of passion rather than nerves. She followed Miranda's thigh high stockings and where they ended, smooth skin became uneven, rugged in places. Tenderly, oh, so tenderly, Andy didn't merely examine the damaged skin on both thighs, she caressed, trying to convey just how much she cared, and how this didn't take away from Miranda's beauty or appeal.

"Oh, Andrea…oh, please, please…" There were tears in Miranda's voice, and not in her wildest dreams had Andy thought she'd ever hear her beg like this. Andy didn't want Miranda to beg. She wanted Miranda to know she could have everything.

"You feel wonderful. Like this?" Andy ran her fingertips lightly over the scarred skin, up toward Miranda's sex, not actually touching it, but finding smooth skin again. Relieved that Miranda hadn't actually burned the most sensitive part of her body, Andy moved her hand up and down Miranda's thighs, eliciting moans. "There. There. You feel so good. I want to touch all of you. I want to kiss every part of—"

Miranda pushed at Andy's shoulders, staring at her with wild eyes. "You—you want to kiss that? There?" She could hardly talk, her voice was so husky and she sounded totally shocked.

"Yes."

"You're lying!"

Andy's heart broke when she realized how badly Miranda's husbands have hurt her feelings, how they wounded her worse than the actual burns. Anger had to show in Andy's eyes, because Miranda recoiled, but Andy captured her in a tight embrace. "Listen to me, please," she begged. "Listen. I want you. I don't know how this happened, but I've wanted you for months. I ache for you, for your having been hurt, but the scars…well, scars are part of us. If we don't carry them on our skin, we're sure to have scars on our souls. Nobody goes through life unscathed."

"You are flawless. Stunning." Miranda gulped for air, but clung to Andy. "Andrea. I don't understand. I thought I could bring you here, maybe seduce you and get you out of my system…and nothing is going as I planned. That damn elevator!"

For Miranda to curse and to raise her voice was unheard of. Andy still caressed her in small, gentle circles under her skirt, which was now bunched up. Suddenly Miranda seemed to realize that Andy wasn't keeping her eyes closed.

"Shh, I'm not looking. See. I'm just looking into your beautiful eyes. Miranda. Miranda." Andy kissed her, over and over, and now she was slowly pushing the hem of the skirt up, so she could reach the hot dampness of Miranda's silk panties. They were drenched. "Out of your system, huh? Really? You don't give me much credit if you think I would be satisfied with a mere seduction and then 'buh-bye-baby'."

"I do not refer to anybody as baby." Miranda hissed in her ear. "Still, you have a point. I see now…oh…that my…oh…plan has backfired."

"It sure has." Andy slipped one finger underneath the wet panties and was rewarded with a formidable gasp that quickly turned into a whimper. "So wet, Miranda. I think you need more. I think we need to take these clothes off.”

This statement caused Miranda to go rigid and hold her breath.

"I won't look. See? I'll look into your eyes. Or kiss you." Andy did just that while her fingers unbuttoned and unzipped Miranda's skirt. She pushed it down over her hips, taking the opportunity to cup Miranda's buttocks. Firm and smooth, Andy liked how they felt and she squeezed them provocatively. This drew another whimper from Miranda, who now was clinging to Andy as if she was the only buoy in a stormy sea. Their kisses were just as wild, just as overwhelming, and Andy knew without a shadow of a doubt that nobody would ever be able to kiss her like Miranda.

Pressing her parted lips to Miranda's neck, Andy kissed a trail down into the neckline of her blouse. She unbuttoned it, unhooked the lace bra underneath, and latched on to Miranda's left breast. She sucked the nipple into her mouth, wondrous at the way the satiny smoothness could pucker and pebble into a rock hard tip, and, impossibly, become harder still.

"Andrea…" Miranda arched into Andy's caresses. "Undress."

So, not so gone she couldn't issue orders, Andy thought, smiling around the nipple. "Gladly." She sat up, studiously keeping her gaze from dropping to Miranda's thighs. Divesting herself of her clothes took half a minute and this included removing everything Miranda wore except her thigh high stockings.

Andy lay down again, half on top of Miranda, and the full skin on skin sensation nearly made her come. Small twitches between her legs forced her to count backwards from a hundred, skipping by seven. This was a trick she'd learned as a way of regaining focus when she was in college. It worked this time as well, and Andy continued her pleasure assault on Miranda's breasts. Pushing them together, she quickly moved back and forth between the nipples, licking, chewing and eventually biting. Apparently Miranda liked being bitten, since her voice sank half an octave.

"Andrea. Don't stop. Please, don't…stop."

"I won't. Not until you tell me to." Instead Andy pushed down a bit, licking patterns on Miranda's belly. She reveled in the taste of the slight perspiration and eventually reached a trimmed patch of dark curls. "Spread your legs, Miranda."

Trembling so hard she could barely move them, Miranda miraculously parted her legs. "D-don't…"

"I'm not looking." Andy made sure she had her eyes closed. "See?"

"Yes."

Using her hands to feel her way, since she couldn't look, Andy carefully parted Miranda's drenched folds, aiming for the small bundle of nerves at the top. She made her tongue pointy and leaned forward until she barely touched it to Miranda's clit. The sharp intake of breath, followed by a moan, proved she had hit her mark. Miranda bent her legs now, and pulled them up further.

"You're…I can't believe you're doing that." Husky, Miranda's low voice reverberated within Andy's chest and now she flattened her tongue against the hooded clit, massaging it gently. More wetness seeped from Miranda and Andy figured she might as well put that to good use. She used the fingertips on her right hand to spread the wetness further, and began circling Miranda's entrance, over and over. At the same time, she kept licking with the softest of touches at her clit.

Andy felt the caresses as if Miranda had bestowed them upon her, instead of vice versa. When she pressed down harder on Miranda's clit, she felt the pressure on her own, and when she pushed two fingers up to the second joint into Miranda, she felt herself being filled.

"More." Miranda bucked underneath her, undulated with jerky, unsteady movements. "Oh, God, I need to come. I need it…I need you."

"You have me." Andy pushed her fingers in as far as they would go. Twisting her hand, she pressed her thumb onto the other puckered orifice, massaging it firmly.

"Ah!" Nearly throwing Andy off, Miranda hyperventilated and thrashed under her. "Oh, yes, yes, yes. Andrea, oh, yes…nobody has…I've never let anybody else…do that."

"Touch you here?" Andy pressed harder with her thumb, lovingly rubbing against Miranda, showing her that nothing was off limits, and she would do anything for her. "I love touching every single part of you. Please, Miranda, may I open my eyes. Please?"

"No."

"Please, trust me." Andy pressed kisses at the scarred patches of skin. "Would you?" She wasn't sure how she knew, but it felt like it was time. This was it.

"Andrea?" Pure dread laced Miranda's voice, but then she whispered, "Very well," in a defeated tone of voice.

Slowly opening her eyes, Andy made sure she gazed into Miranda's eyes first, still moving her fingers in and out and rubbing her in a steady pace. "I care about you, Miranda. I really care. You will be fine."

A muted whimper and startled blue eyes nearly broke Andy's heart. Slowly, Andy lowered her gaze to the area between her legs. The muted light hid some of it, but Andy saw enough. She touched the discolored, rugged patch of skin on Miranda's right thigh first. Gently, gently, she caressed and kissed it.

"Andrea?"

"You are beautiful. I hate you were in pain over this, and that it's been the cause of such heartache, but I don't find it ugly or repulsive. It is part of you. Of what happened to you." Moving over to the left thigh, Andy repeated the caresses. "I honestly have no issue with it. None."

"No?" Miranda pushed herself up on her elbows, looking down at Andy with widening eyes. "Well."

"Now that we've established that," Andy said with a smile, "I have more important things to do." She lowered her mouth to Miranda's clit again, this time sucking it fully into her mouth, pressing its hood back. "Mm."

Miranda fell back onto the couch and then she tensed all over. A throaty scream echoed in the room as she came, her sex pulsating and clenching around Andy's fingers. When Andy pressed her thumb inside the other orifice, just the tip of it, she came again, sobbing now.

Andy felt her sex begin to contract, but she really wanted Miranda's touch before letting go. "Miranda? Please…touch me?" Suddenly shy, which was really stupid, she was shivering while she waited for Miranda to actually hear her.

"Come here." Miranda tugged at Andy's hips and pulled her up to straddle her belly. She pushed two bent fingers in between Andy's legs, easily finding her clit between her spread folds. Rubbing with the back of her knuckles, she pinched around the sensitive bundle, lightly at first, then increasingly harder.

Andy's nipples tightened to painfully taut peaks, and her stomach mimicked the movement in a series of convulsions. The sensations burned Andy, seared her clit and the entrance behind it, she couldn't stop herself from rubbing against Miranda's soft skin. It didn't take long after that. Suddenly the orgasm was there, in full force, tearing through Andy's loins, her belly and up her spine.

"Ah!" She fell forward, and that's when Miranda pressed several fingers inside and began pounding in and out of her in earnest. Andy came again, this time not as hard, but longer, in wave after wave, until she was reduced to a bundle of tears, curled up against Miranda.

Miranda was rocking her, murmuring unintelligible words against Andy's hair. This alone was so out of character, at least if you only knew Miranda as the Dragon Lady, or the Devil. Andy pressed her face into Miranda's neck, inhaling the mix of perfume, lotion and sweat. "Best scent ever. We should bottle it," she murmured.

"What are you saying, Andrea?" Miranda shifted, leaning over her.

"We should bottle your scent and sell it. Ah, bad plan. I don't want to share—" Terrified by her own words, Andy could only look pleadingly at Miranda. "Oh. Just a joke, Miranda. Please. Just a stupid joke."

"You think I smell that good?" A satisfied smile played at the corner of Miranda's lips.

"Yes."

"You too. You smell of flowers, some, hm, citrus, sweat, and, oh my, of sex."

Blushing, Andy hid against Miranda's neck again. "God."

"Stay the weekend, Andrea."

"What?" Flinching, Andy looked up at her again.

"Stay until Sunday. Please." It was obvious that Miranda Priestly did not use the word “please” very often, if ever.

"All right."

"This was unexpected, or perhaps not." Miranda tapped her lower lip. "I knew I found you attractive, but I never would've guessed that you reciprocated it with such passion."

"I told you. I care about you." Andy rubbed the tip of her nose along Miranda's collarbone.

"Mm… Yes, you did." Miranda placed a finger underneath Andy's chin, tipping her head back. "I don't let people into my heart very easily, Andrea. For a long time, it's been just my girls."

"And now?" Andy dared to ask, her own heart beginning to hammer at a steady, fast pace.

"And now, darling, I think you've taken up permanent residence right next to them. I care more about you than I ever thought I'd do for another person." Miranda brushed teardrops away from Andy's lashes. "I'm not sure this is the jackpot for you, Andrea, but there it is." Her cheeks pink, Miranda tilted her head.

"It's more than that," Andy said and wrapped her arms, weak from all the passion, around Miranda's neck. "It's way more."

"So you'll stay?" Miranda smiled now.

"Yes. As long as you want me here with you. I'll stay."

 

END