Countess Von Fingerbang (madampresident) wrote,
Countess Von Fingerbang
madampresident


It's Not THAT Complicated
Coco // madampresident

pairing Miranda Priestly/Jane Adler
rating R
disclaimers 1 I do not own anything even remotely Meryl related. Alright, that's a lie, I do own three autographed Meryl pictures and a whole lot of Meryl DVDs. I do not, however, own the rights to these movies so this is just for fun and not affiliated with anything official, nor do I pretend to be.
disclaimer 2 Meryl/Meryl ahead
spoilers? let's assume reading this COULD spoil both Devil Wears Prada and It's Complicated.
summary When it came time to decide on a university both Priestly twins wanted to move to the west coast and become sunkissed California girls. Miranda stayed behind in New York but found that she was no longer as interested in running Runway. She'd felt that her reign was over and that she wanted to move on. Without the ties of friends or family in New York -- and with some encouragement from the girls -- she packed up and moved to California. It was in California that she met Jane Adler.

AN I'm doing this a little different than I usually do. This is going to be two parts. Give me around a week for the second installment (which will feature Andy!) ♥ thanks for the rousing show of enthusiasm for the prologue, I had a great time writing this and I hope everyone enjoys it.


Miranda was walking down the street. She had a single goal -- which was to walk to Starbucks and purchase a piping hot latte. However, as her Armani sheathed legs carried her closer to her intended target she was distracted by the distinctive aroma of freshly baked buttery croissants. She stopped and smelled the air and just as Riding Hood was lured off the path after spring flowers so Miranda was by the promise of pastries.

During her tenure at Runway she avoided carbs because they had a tendency to sit in her stomach and churn when her stress level rose. Having retired from the hustle and bustle she'd been slowly allowing some of her old favorites back into her life: toast, bagels, scones, croissants...

Miranda stepped up to the counter and was greeted by a brightly smiling blonde woman. Miranda judged her to be mid to late fifties, she was pretty in a roman way. Miranda managed a small smile, "I need a latte. Hot latte."

The woman scribbled the order down on the paper, "center of the sun hot latte," she smiled.

"And," Miranda started, as though feeling guilty she were about to admit it out loud. "I was enticed in by the smell of baking croissants..."

The woman nodded knowingly. "The croissants," she looked at her watch, "are going to come out of the oven in two minutes. If you'd like to sit for a few minutes I could bring it over to you."

Miranda surprised herself by nodded, "yes, that would be fine."

"Would you like the latte for here or to go?"

Miranda hesitated. She was going to say to go but realized she wasn't in any hurry and she did have a book in her purse. "For here." She said.

The woman handed her a number, "I'll bring that right over to you."

Miranda took a seat at a small table. She indulged in a look around the room; it was spacious, the tables in the room didn't overtake the space and somehow the mountain of baked goods in the middle wasn't overpowering either.

She sighed contentedly and found that the less hectic pace of this Santa Barbara cafe would suit her just fine in her retirement.

After a few minutes the woman approached the table with a steaming hot latte and a warm croissant on a plate. Miranda accepted the items and sipped the coffee, the hot liquid searing her tongue. Her eyes widened and then her eyebrows went up in surprise.

The woman looked concerned. "Too hot? Can I get you ice water?"

"No," Miranda put an arm on the other woman's arm. "I think this is the best coffee I've ever had."

The woman's face flooded with relief and she smiled. "I have a secret ingredient."

"Which is?"

She grinned, "a secret."

Miranda took another sip, her expression giving away her serenity.

The woman touched Miranda's shoulder, "if there's anything else I can do for you don't hesitate to ask."

"Thank you." She said, the words foreign to her own ears. She watched the woman's retreating form before returning to her latte and opening her book.

**

The next morning the bakery was Miranda's intended target instead of Starbucks. She stepped up to the counter when it was her turn and was greeted again by the blonde woman.

"Vanilla?" Miranda asked.

"Pardon?" The blonde furrowed her brow.

"Your secret ingredient." Miranda smiled charmingly. Miranda's eyes flitted to where her nametag would have been and was surprised that she wore no such tag.

The woman smiled back and shook her head, "no, sorry."

"Well, in that case I'll take another latte and a croissant."

"Coming right up."

**

On the third day Miranda didn't meet up with the blonde woman at the bakery so she sipped her latte and ate her croissant with a distinct feeling of melancholy.

**

On the fourth day the temperature had dropped. To Miranda's North Eastern skin it was temperate and perfect but the natives she passed on the street were bundled up in sweaters and scarves.

She entered the bakery, the bell dinging to announce her presence. She smiled inwardly when the blonde woman greeted her from behind the counter. "Aren't you cold?"

"Quite comfortable actually. I'm not from around here. Anise?"

"No but that sounds delicious." She grinned.

"I'll figure it out yet. I'll take a latte and a croissant."

**

The fifth day Miranda walked in several hours later. A few early morning phone calls from the east had deterred her.

The blonde smiled when Miranda stepped up to the counter. "I thought you weren't coming in today." She admitted.

"Just late." Miranda smirked mischievously. "Molasses?"

The woman chuckled and shook her head, "no. Your usual?"

**

The sixth, seventh and eighth days went similarly. Miranda would attempt to guess the secret ingredient, the woman continued to shoot down each guess. The ninth day the blonde wasn't there to greet her or hear her guess.

On the tenth day Miranda walked up to the counter, "garlic?"

The woman laughed, the sound of which settled in Miranda's core. The woman shook her head, "now you're just being silly."

"Would you even tell me if I got it right?" Miranda teased.

"Maybe..." the woman grinned coyly. "I don't think you'll figure it out though."

"I'm always up for a challenge." Miranda smirked. "I didn't catch your name."

"Jane." She smiled, "Jane Adler."

"Miranda Priestly." Miranda extended her hand and shook with Jane. "Nice to meet you."

"Can I get you your usual?"

Miranda nodded, "please."

**

"You own the bakery." Miranda announced as she stepped up to Jane on the eleventh day.

"I do." Jane smiled, "the culmination of my life's passion. You googled me, didn't you?"

Miranda felt a slight blush color her cheeks. "I did."

Jane's cheeks were similarly colored, "I googled you too." Jane pushed her hair behind her ears. "The mysterious woman who sits in my bakery for hours on end with a molten cup of latte, a croissant and reads philosophy books. Of course I googled you."

"I guess I have one question." Miranda announced, "why do you toil away here when you own the whole lot?"

"Honest?" Jane laughed embarrassedly. "I'm having work done on my house and... I used to date my architect and it ended... weirdly. Besides all that I like to work, I love my bakery. I still bake half of the food we sell."

"Baking is done in the morning, isn't it?" Miranda looked at her watch. "It's eleven now. How long will the architect be at your house?"

Jane chuckled, "until three at least."

"So that's four hours for us to go get lunch and do a little shopping." Miranda announced.

Jane watched Miranda for a moment. "Ordinarily," she began as she untied her apron, "I would say no but I read about your reputation for not taking no for an answer."

"Nice to know my influence is so far reaching." Miranda smirked.

"I'm just going to tell my kitchen manager that I'm taking off." Jane stashed her apron underneath the counter. "And get you your latte to go."

Miranda winked as Jane disappeared into the kitchen. Miranda couldn't stop the grin that spread across her face. Miranda missed having friends. In New York Miranda had lunch, on occasion, with Donatella Versace, Anna Wintour and Patrick Demarchelier but she never felt sure of their intentions; mostly because she knew hers weren't entirely pure.

Jane, and indeed all the Californians she'd met so far, was refreshingly different. They seemed friendlier and calmer than New Yorkers, they seemed more zen.

Jane broke through Miranda's musings, pulling on her coat.

Miranda smiled, "Jane, it's sixty five degrees outside."

Jane shrugged, pulling on her hat, "I know."

Miranda laughed, "you don't need the hat."

"Not all of us are used to living in the arctic." Jane quipped, "oh, your latte." She reached back around to the counter and produced it.

Miranda accepted it gratefully. "New York is the arctic now?"

"Might as well be. The ice caps are melting so New York is probably about the same temperature, right?" Jane teased.

"You're lucky you're cute." Miranda said before she could think better of it. Miranda felt herself blush and she looked away when Jane looked back at her.

"You're not so bad yourself, Priestly."

**

Miranda hadn't found herself genuinely interested in what someone else had to say for a very long time. She loved her daughters dearly but found most of their stories of being middle school, high school and now college students rather boring -- though she put up a good front and did genuinely like talking with them even if the subjects were banal. All three of her marriages likely broke up because when all was said and done she didn't give a rat's ass what they were doing with their lives. Barring that she didn't like listening to excuses, she didn't like listening to the catty banter of fashionistas and divas. Miranda was more of a silently calculating fashion dictator; silence is golden.

Today, however, Miranda found herself alight with excitement to sit down and talk with Jane Adler: to hear her stories, to hear her thoughts. She wanted to have a real, honest to God conversation with her.

Miranda stepped up to the podium as Jane was hanging up her coat. "Two for lunch."

"I'm sorry, you need a reservation." The man smirked apologetically.

"I am Miranda Priestly." Miranda watched him with confusion.

He mirrored said confusion back at her. He looked down at the reservations book in front of him, "I can give you a table around two?"

Jane walked up to the podium at that moment and smiled, "is there a problem?"

"This gentleman will not give me a table." Miranda pursed her lips.

"Jane Adler." Jane said to the man. "I should be able to get a table."

"Of course, Ms. Adler, if Ms. Beasely had said she was dining with you..." he looked apologetic.

Miranda had to reel in the impulse to kill him. "Priestly." She clarified, trying not to grit her teeth.

"I am sorry." He grabbed two menus and led them to a table. "Your waiter will be right with you."

Miranda was stunned. She was too surprised to be angry. "How did you do that?"

Jane looked up from her menu, "it's sort of a restauranteur professional courtesy. I've known the manager here for years. We go way back." Jane squinted at the menu and frowned. "I forgot my glasses."

Miranda pulled a pair of purple, thin-rimmed Chanel glasses from her purse and held them out to Jane. "Try mine."

"Don't you need them?" She asked as she accepted them.

"I think I can do without with..." Miranda squinted at the menu and then held it further away.

Jane laughed, "you know what? I've eaten here before, I'll just get something I can guess is on the menu." She pulled the glasses off of her face and handed them back to Miranda.

"Two intelligent women, one pair of glasses and we can't figure out how to read the menu simultaneously." Miranda scoffed.

"Well, the obvious answer would be to have two pairs of glasses, wouldn't it?" Jane shrugged.

"But that's adding in a resource that we don't have. There must be a way to do this with only the things we have..."

"You could read the menu out loud." Jane suggested.

"I could pop out one of the lenses."

Jane frowned, "then you might not be able to get it back in. I think we should stay away from the defacing of the only pair of glasses between us. We could sit next to each other and use the glasses as a magnifying glass."

Miranda smiled and nodded, "I think you've got it," Miranda pushed her chair further to the side so Jane could move hers next to Miranda's.

Jane sidled up, their arms brushing against one another. From their close proximity Miranda could smell Jane clearly. She smelled faintly of lavender body wash, tea tree oil shampoo and butter from the bakery.

Jane turned to Miranda, startled at first by how close their faces were. Jane smiled and tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear.

Miranda looked down to the menu as a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She held her glasses near the page magnifying the words in a fish-eye shape.

The waiter came to the table and filled their glasses with water. "Are you ladies ready to order?"

Jane chuckled, "I think we're going to need a few minutes actually."

**

"Did you study anything else?" Jane asked after she'd finished a bite of her Pasta Primavera. "I just ask because you seem to be engineer, or at least mathematically, inclined. Plus I've seen you with three different philosophy books in under two weeks."

"What do you mean else?" Miranda furrowed her brow.

"Other than Fashion." Jane clarified. When Miranda still appeared confused, Jane continued. "At college?"

Miranda shook her head, "I didn't go to college but I've always had a head for numbers and pragmatics. I realized early on that I had an eye for trends."

"Well, obviously a very good eye for trends. How else could you have run a fashion magazine for so long?"

"I actually don't mean fashion." Miranda admitted, "I just mean trends in general, which products will become popular, if and when they will decline, when old trends come back, people's reception of new products and ideas. When I moved from New Jersey to New York I started playing the stock exchange and I made a lot of money. After I realized I was good at it, and it wasn't just coincidence after coincidence, I decided that I wanted to work for the business publication at Elias Clarke publishing but I was turned down because I didn't have a business degree. Though out of consideration that I was becoming quite wealthy I was given the position at Runway. It was, at the time, a very minor publication and I exacted my revenge by turning it into the leading fashion magazine in the US and exceeding my alotted budget every week."

Jane grinned, "what was the business publication called?"

Miranda shrugged, "you know I can't even remember. It folded two years after I applied to it."

"How come none of that story is in your biography?"

"Because I changed my name after I made my first million and later a biographer judiciously rewrote my past without consulting me considering he couldn't find my past."

"Why did you change your name?"

Miranda smiled tightly, "enough about me. I want to hear more about you. You have children. Tell me about them."

Jane smiled and nodded, not offended by Miranda's subject change. "I do have children, they're 22, 24 and 26. My youngest, Luke, went to college in New York, actually, and he just graduated this past May. He got a BFA in creative writing but he hasn't started the novel he's been talking about since before college. He's working as a manager of a local bookstore. Lauren, my oldest, is studying to get her law degree, following in her father's footsteps. She just got married to her high school sweetheart in July, he worked for me throughout college, he's an IT specialist. My middle child, Gabby, is the only one I really worry about. She often has a hard time focusing on anything; I'm always worried I'm going to get a phone call that she was in a horrible accident because she was texting and driving. She got her degree in history and she's been bouncing around from job to job."

Miranda nodded, "just to play devil's advocate, I feel like I'd have similar reservations about my daughters flying off to study cooking. Considering the rate that restaurants fail you've actually beat the odds. You started out with a product that 90% of the population drink but did it uniquely enough that you stood out and now you thrive not only on that solidly built reputation but the trend of eating locally. It's very probable that if you had started your business anywhere else at any other time that you would have failed."

"I guess I have to take your word for that considering you've made a lot more money on the stock market than I have but I did secure a following when I ran a catering business."

"But a catering business is different than an established bakery and cafe." Miranda insisted, "first of all, I drank Starbucks religiously in New York, I would never consider Starbucks as a possible caterer. In fact, most caterers with whom I've done business seem to make an abysmal coffee because it's not their primary product. The last couple of years in New York I used the same caterer for all of my Runway functions and I would never patronize their cafe if they opened one. Maybe your reputation as a chef brought people to the bakery and the coffee keeps them coming. Cafes are interesting because once people decide they like their coffee they patronize the one establishment with a ferocity that is rivalled only by religious conflicts."

"You should write a book." Jane grinned. "I love listening to you talk."

"Quelle coincidence," Miranda smirked, "I love hearing myself talk, too. However, I'm curious why you keep turning the conversation back on me. I want to hear more about you."

Jane hesitated and then looked away shyly. "Well, my psychiatrist says that I have an inferiority complex... but I don't think I feel inferior... I think that I just have a fear of being boring."

"How about you give it a try and I'll stop you if I start falling asleep." Miranda sipped her water. "Tell me about your decision to go to Le Cordon Bleu."

"My parents both worked a lot and I usually made dinner for my brother and myself. I was good at it and I really enjoyed it so I decided I wanted to study it and really perfect my craft. My parents thought it was a waste of time. My father thought that it was impractical, he wanted me to do something that would 'guarantee' me a job. I think he basically wanted me to go to trade school, to be a nurse or a paralegal or any of those jobs you see on the community school commercials. My mother didn't mind the idea of me going into cooking as a career but she thought it was a waste of time and resources to go to school for something I was good at already." Jane shrugged, "being a teenager I rushed off to France with all my graduation money and my savings. I just knew it was something that I needed to do. I needed to study cooking in France with masters of the craft... you know?" She added self-consciously.

Miranda nodded, "absolutely. It's similar to why I played the stock market in New York instead of from my home in New Jersey. Go on."

Jane stopped to gather her thoughts, "well, I lived in an apartment with several other women in my classes and there wasn't a minute of the day that our apartment didn't smell like food. Because of our supplemental jobs we all had wildly different schedules and we were never all there at the same time. Which was good because I can't swear that there were as many beds as there were tenants." Jane laughed, "it made it cheap though. We all needed as much money as possible to pay for food."

"Did you all guard your food or did you let the others share in your culinary triumphs?"

"We were all pretty good about sharing. Like I said, we never had to feed everybody. If one of us was cooking and then another came in they were usually invited to join. It's like a painter keeping their paintings locked away or a writer never letting anyone read their work."

Miranda nodded, "indeed."

"It took me a while to really get off the ground. I didn't make a million dollars in my early twenties," she teased goodnaturedly. "I carved out a meager existence for a while and I was working with a catering company when I met my husband who was just starting out at a law firm. He was very green but he was funny and charming. I have a love-hate relationship with him because he did cheat on me but he is a good father to our children and he can be a good guy but he just... I don't know, he has deep rooted character flaws that I doubt he'll ever grow out of."

Miranda nodded knowingly. "Several of my husbands have said that about me."

Jane laughed, "you're funny."

"I've never been accused of that before." Miranda grinned wryly, feeling her playful side reappearing for the first time in a decade.

Jane laughed harder.

The waiter stopped at the table and laid down the folder with the check. "I'll just leave this with you, take your time."

Miranda and Jane both reached for it. Miranda's hand landing on it first, "I've got this, I invited you to lunch." Before Jane could offer protest Miranda finished by saying, "I insist."

"Very well." Jane smiled, "then I'll just have to pick up the tab after tomorrow's lunch. That is... if you're free."

"I'm sure I can find some time in my busy schedule."

**

On the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth days Miranda met Jane at the bakery and lured her away for lunch. Miranda quickly became comfortable with Jane and felt herself able to open up as Jane opened up to her. Jane had at first been intrigued by the mystery of Miranda and felt that she very much enjoyed finding out new things every day. The things she discovered were endearing and sweet; on the internet she'd read that Miranda was considered to be an odious tyrant of the worst sort and couldn't imagine anyone thinking that about the warm, caring woman that sat across the table during their lunches.

On the fifteenth day Miranda sat across the table swirling spaghetti around her fork. "So Caroline broke up with Julio but she set him up with Cassidy."

Jane laughed out loud, covering her mouth in a vain attempt to contain the sound. "She didn't!"

Miranda chuckled and shook her head, "yeah, that's my girl..." Miranda ate the spaghetti then continued, "but Cassidy was mad when she realized he was, how did she put it?, 'Caroline's cast-off.'"

Jane laughed harder. "Your daughters are like a soap opera."

"A bad soap opera maybe."

"Are there good ones?" Jane snorted a laugh.

"Good point." Miranda conceded with a smile.

"I don't think Luke and Gabby are dating at the moment... or at least they wouldn't tell me if they were. It's nice that you and your girls are so close."

Miranda nodded, "it has a lot to do with the fact that I was so busy in New York. Most children are bored of their parents attentions but we were all grateful for the time that I did have to spend with them. I think if I had it to do over again I would have tried harder to be there more often."

Jane nodded, "I try not to live in the past but this last year I've been thinking about all the things I wish that I'd done differently."

"Because of the fling with your ex."

Jane fiddled with her napkin, "yeah... because of that. I regretted that I participated in adultery and I regretted treating Adam poorly because I was mad at Jake. I also feel like I've been regretting ever marrying Jake in the first place."

"You shouldn't. As someone who's been married three times I can say that I don't regret marrying any of them. It's been my policy to never regret love. What I regret is hating Lucas towards the end and how that affected the girls, I regret hating Stephen for asking me to foresake my job. I don't regret that the relationships ended but I regret that I wasn't able to be the bigger person."

"I regret forgiving him for cheating the first time. I think that breaks your rule."

Miranda shrugged, "unless you didn't do it because you loved him. If you forgave him because it was too scary to be alone that's another story. Unfortunately, cheaters always cheat. Liars always lie."

"Yeah." Jane sighed.

"But on the bright side we're two strong women who have managed to overcome most, if not all, of our feelings of co-dependency with men. That has to count for something."

Jane smiled then. "You're right. You're absolutely right. I slept with Jake because I was horny," she blushed at the word, "not because I felt incomplete without a man."

"I'll drink to that." Miranda flagged down the waiter, "two white peach sangrias, please."

Jane giggled, "Miranda, it's the middle of the day."

Miranda shrugged nonchalantly, "it's juice."

When the sangrias arrived Miranda slid one across the table to Jane. Jane eyed it lustfully and finally accepted it. Miranda held hers up, "to not confusing sex with men."

"I'll drink to that," Jane laughed and blushed and sipped her sangria. "Damn, that's good!"

**

Jane arrived at her session with Dr. Nemo with a box heath crunch cookies. He glanced down at the box and back up at Jane. "Uh-oh." He laughed, "what do you have to confess?"

She sat down on the couch and set the box on the table between them. He closed the door and took his seat and bit into a cookie.

"I'm still avoiding Adam. I spend the morning in the bakery and I go out to lunch every day with Miranda and she and I while the day away walking around, talking and shopping and... it's wonderful. I love spending time with her."

He nodded, "but you feel guilty for avoiding Adam?"

"I don't. I did at first. You know, because he was so classy about it? I also felt bad about myself because he didn't want to try again... but I'm over that now. That's his trust issue not my problem. I know that I'm an attractive person and my self worth isn't wrapped up in someone else's view of me."

"I'm proud of you for recognizing that, Jane." He started in on another cookie. "But I don't know why you brought me the cookies if you're not feeling bad about yourself. You usually only bring baked goods when you don't feel sure of yourself."

Jane bit her lip, "okay... yeah... here's the thing... it's Miranda."

He waited for her to continue but found he had to give her a gentle nudge, "what about Miranda?"

"She's... she's... we were shopping last week at that consignment shop I like and I pulled this cute blouse off the rack and she goes 'no, no, Jane, please, I vetoed that blouse two years ago. The lines in it make the wearer look flat and featureless and the pattern detracts from the bosom. Good fashion should enhance the wearer's features.' So I didn't get the blouse and then the next day she brought a bag with her to lunch and I was dying to see what was in it and just as we were going to part for the day she hands me the bag and tells me I can open it. I pull out a gorgeous cerulean blue cashmere sweater and a charcoal grey silk skirt and finally a pair of kitten heel shoes. I ask her why she's been carrying it around and she says it's for me. I tell her that I obviously can't accept it because it's too expensive but she talked me into keeping it and I tried them on when I got home and they fit me better than anything I've ever bought for myself. The lines of the skirt were so slimming and the belt for the sweater... I have never worn anything nicer."

"And you feel bad that you aren't able to pick out clothes that are as nice." He suggested.

Jane shook her head, "no. She's made a living out of fashion, I don't feel inadequate because of it... it's just that it was so... so... incredibly thoughtful... and they fit so well it was like she'd memorized my body... like she knew every inch of me..." she admitted breathily.

Dr. Nemo nodded, starting to see where it was going.

"And..." Jane bit her lip on a broad smile and blushed, "it was... a turn on. She's... she's gorgeous and... she likes me. It makes me feel... interesting and beautiful and... she makes me feel really good."

"Are you interested in pursuing a relationship with her?"

Jane's foot started to bounce nervously, "that's when I start getting nervous. What if she says no? What if she says yes and it turns out that I don't like... having... sex with a woman?"

"Well," He leaned back in his chair, "the most important thing is to be completely up front with Miranda, let her in on how you're feeling and you should be fine regardless. She doesn't sound like a judgmental person."

"Yeah... she doesn't act like a judgmental person but I told you I googled her? She's got this reputation for being an incredible hardass. The internet is loaded with page after page of articles and blog entries about how horrible she is. How can two people know such different sides of a person?"

"Be careful about how much stock you put in what you read on the internet. You don't know the whole story. You can't know the whole story because you weren't there. Try to forget all of those things you read because the only Miranda that's important is the Miranda that spends her afternoons with you and opens up to you. You shouldn't ever be afraid to be honest with your friends, right?"

Jane nodded slowly, "yeah, I guess you're right."

"You guess?" He teased.

Jane smiled, "you're right. I guess I was just panicking. I've never even considered that I might want to be with a woman. That scares me. How can I go through life not knowing something about myself?"

"Actually, it's quite common for women to realize later in their lives that they're interested in women. Also, I'd like to emphasize that it doesn't negate relationships you've had in the past. Sexuality is a very subjective concept that's been polarized and we don't really have the language to label everyone's sexuality. You're not suddenly a lesbian because you're attracted to a woman and you definitely shouldn't think of it as a sexual identity crisis. I'm very proud of you for being able to openly talk about your attraction."

Jane smiled. "Thanks. That actually makes me feel better."

"I'm glad. In fact you should read some of Alfred Kinsey's writings on sexuality. Because sexuality exists on a spectrum and because of the nature of bell curves it is less likely to find people rigidly at either end. So it is actually more normal to have some feelings for Miranda than to never have any feelings for women."

Jane smiled more confidently, "I think I'll talk to Miranda tomorrow..."

**

"Is everything alright?" Miranda furrowed her brow. "You've hardly said anything since we left the bakery."

Jane nodded, "I'm fine. I'm just... my throat's a little dry. Does that ever happen to you? Your throat just..." Jane took a moment out in her sentence to chug half of her water. "Goes dry? For no reason?"

Miranda nodded indulgently, "mhm."

"You were... saying something? About Caroline and Cassidy?" Jane asked, downing the rest of her water.

"Yes," Miranda smiled, "I'm going to take them to LA this afternoon to go shopping."

"Aren't there places to shop that are closer?"

Miranda waved her hand dismissively, "the stores they want to visit are in LA. You know teenagers; once they get an idea in their heads they're hard to deter."

"Amen to that." Jane was slowly starting to relax.

"So I'm going to have to leave a little early today."

"Oh." Jane's heart leapt into her throat. "So, when you were running the magazine, was there ever a time when it was time for the magazine to go to print but you didn't feel ready?"

Miranda nodded, "once or twice. I tried to always work out the problems earlier in the month."

Jane bit her lip, "did you ever... like you thought it was July and you'd have thirty-one days but then you realized it was June and you only had thirty?"

Miranda laughed, "I don't think I ever had that problem; either way, one day doesn't usually make or break the issue. Is there something you're trying to tell me?"

Jane opened her mouth to speak. Her heart yelled yes but as she tried to speak the word it somehow came out, "no..."

"If there was something wrong, you'd tell me?" Miranda laid her hand over Jane's.

Jane softened, she smiled and looked up at Miranda. "Yes." She was desperate to change the subject, "I can't believe you're going to LA for the evening."

"My GPS said it would be about two hours." Miranda shrugged, "I might stop by and see Sophia Loren if she isn't busy." 

"Oh to be you!" Jane grinned, "you know Sophia Loren?" 

Miranda nodded, "with her permission I designed a tribute issue to her timeless style and since then she and I became friends. In the sense that I have friends, of course."

"Well, I can promise that you have at least one friend that cares about you very much." 

Miranda smiled and gave Jane's hand a gentle squeeze. "Maybe it's time we take our relationship to the next level."

Jane's throat went dry again. "I... wow, I couldn't agree more... I'm so glad you said it first."

Miranda pulled her cell phone from her pocket and started typing, "exchanging phone numbers. Mine's 217 555-6871." 

"Right..." Jane shook her head clear, bouncing back from the obvious miscommunication. She flipped her phone open, asked Miranda to repeat and entered it. "I'm 805 555-5263. It's easy to remember, the numbers spell Jane if you look at the keypad." 

"That's cute. Accident or on purpose?" 

"On purpose. Jake thought it would be great if he got all our numbers to be our names, or at least four letters of them. Lauren's not on our plan anymore. Neither is Jake but he kept the number." 

Miranda held up her phone, "smile."

"What?" Jane laughed, embarrassed. 

"I like to have an id picture for all the people in my phone. Let me take a picture." At Jane's visible reluctance she added, "if you don't let me take a picture I'm going to take a picture of the potted cactus in the foyer and I'm going to forever associate you with the desert." 

Jane laughed embarrassedly again. "Okay, you can take my picture."

Miranda snapped the shot while she was laughing. Miranda smiled at the picture, "beautiful. I don't know why you don't like having your picture taken." 

Jane blushed, "I don't know... I just never really have..." 

"Would you like to join us?"

"Oh, that's really sweet..." Jane bit her lip.

Miranda smirked, "you're probably sick of me by now, right?" She teased.

"No, not at all." She said quickly. Maybe too quickly. "No, it's just that I don't want to intrude." 

"You wouldn't be intruding. You'd be saving me from having to listen to college girl drama the whole evening. And I get to see them several times a week. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I would love another adult as company and I would love it if that company is yours." 

Jane smiled shyly. "Yes, I'd love to spend the evening with you." 

**

Miranda deposited the girls at their respective dorm buildings before heading for Jane's house. The trunk was full of purchases and the girls had spent a lot of the ride with their purchases underfoot and forming a wall between them. 

Jane was stunned at the ability of a Priestly woman to walk into a store, pick up everything that interests them and throw money at the sales clerk. She would have been more apt to shop had she not been nervous about her self-imposed ultimatum to tell Miranda she was romantically interested. The girls were outgoing and confident just like their mother. They talked to Miranda, they talked to Jane, they talked to people in the stores that were wearing cute outfits. They just talked, they were marathon talkers. They would get along very well with Gabby; Jane hoped one day to introduce them. 

Miranda was suppressing a yawn when she pulled into Jane's driveway. 

Jane picked up her lone bag from the floor by her feet and unbuckled her seat belt. "Why don't you come in for a quick cup of coffee? You're yawning and I don't want to send you off like that. I would worry." 

Miranda smiled, "you are such a mother." She said as she parked and unbuckled. 

Jane led them into the house, turning on the lights as she went. "Please excuse the relative chaos. Part of the addition is my new kitchen so the existing kitchen is getting a little crazy." 

"You have a lovely home." 

"Yeah, well, I like it. I bought it myself. I like what it represents: my independence. Financial, if not emotional." She joked. 

Jane laughed nervously. "I'll, uh, I'll just put that coffee on." Jane moved to the Mr. Coffee sitting on the counter. "Strong and hot, right?"

"Right." Miranda smiled. "Are you going to make it like you make it at the bakery?"

"That depends. Will you shut your eyes while I make it?" Jane laughed. 

"Sure." Miranda closed her eyes. 

Jane grinned, "you don't have to close your eyes."

"Good. I wasn't going to keep them closed anyway." Miranda admitted mischievously. 

"But you have to take a solemn oath of secrecy. I take my coffee very seriously. Raise your right hand," she waited for Miranda to comply. "I do solemnly swear that I will tell no one what I see here tonight."

Miranda laughed, "I will tell no one what I see here tonight."

"On threat of death I will not reveal the secret." 

"What if I make someone take the oath?"

"Only I can administer the secret. Repeat." Jane insisted. 

"On threat of death I shall not reveal the secret. I think it sounds better that way." Miranda chuckled. 

Jane grinned, "okay. Here goes." She turned back around to the coffee maker and opened the two canisters directly next to it. She scooped one scoop from each to the basket and closed the lid. In the pot she put two teaspoons of salt from a jar with Japanese labeling. 

"Salt?" Miranda furrowed her brow.

"You guessed garlic!" Jane reminded with a snort. "It's aguni sea salt, it's Japanese and it reduces the acidity of coffee. The coffee itself is half Emerald City which is a rich, dark Colombian and Northwest Escape which is a little sweet but also full-bodied." 

"So you actually had multiple secret ingredients. If I'd known I would have guessed differently. You cheated." Miranda feigned hurt. 

"You guessed garlic!" Jane laughed. 

Miranda joined in the laughing, "okay. So I'm no Rachel Ray and I'm not even sure my new house even has a kitchen." 

Jane grinned. "I had a really good time tonight. I'm glad you invited me along."

"I'm glad too. Your company was refreshing. It's a lot of fun shopping with you. It's been a long time since I've had someone standing next to me saying 'maybe you don't need to spend $2,000 on a pair of boots.'"

"Christ! Which ones were $2,000?" Jane demanded in wide-eyed astonishment.

Miranda smiled, "you're like... my link to reality."

"More like the devil on your shoulder." Jane snorted.

"More like the angel." Miranda smiled.

Jane looked away shyly. "I think the coffee is ready." She busied herself with the mugs and turned back to Miranda, holding one of the mugs out to her.

"Thank you," Miranda sipped it and smiled. "Why don't you come to my house and make this every morning?"

Jane blushed, "well, for one, you never asked me to so I think that's your fault."

"Fair enough." Miranda said, her voice echoing through the coffee mug as she tipped it back, gulping moutfuls of the hot liquid.

They enjoyed their coffee in relative silence for a few minutes. Miranda glanced at her watch. "I should probably get going. I have to get up early for a conference call to New York about my retirement benefits. Boring bureaucratic bull, but I'm expected to show up." 

"I hardly think you're one to do something just because it's expected." 

"Well," Miranda grinned, "they probably don't expect me to be on time, they think I don't respect their time -- which I don't, for very legitimate reasons -- so I'm going to throw them off guard by showing up early."

"You're devilish." Jane smiled. 

"Should I put my mug in the dishwasher?"

"You can put it in the sink, I'll deal with it." 

"Thanks for the coffee," Miranda held her keys in her hand, "and your company."

"You're welcome," Jane tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. 

"Walk me to my car?" 

The gravel crunched beneath their feet as they approached the silver Lexus. Miranda fiddled with her keys, watching Jane out of the corner of her eye. When she arrived at the car key she stuck it in the lock and opened the door. The dome light illuminated the two women as they stood in the driveway. Miranda looked up at Jane. "Have a good night." 

"You too." Jane shoved her hands into her pockets self-consciously. Miranda started to get into her car when Jane caught her attention. "Miranda?"

"Yes?"

"One more thing." Jane slipped a hand into Miranda's soft silver hair and drew her closer, their lips touched for the first time and Miranda sighed contentedly, her hand coming up to cup Jane's cheek. After a few moments they broke apart, each grinning from ear to ear. "I really like you a lot." 

"I've been waiting for you to do that all day. I was starting to think you were going to let me leave." Miranda chuckled.

"You knew I wanted to kiss you?"

"Give me a little credit, Jane, you sent out all the signals. Whether it's a man or a woman I know when someone's interested in me." 

Jane gave Miranda a playful swat in the arm, "and you let me suffer all day?" 

"I figured it was something you wanted to do yourself. You know fortune favors the bold." Miranda leaned in and stole another kiss. 

"That's why fortune favors you so much." Jane whispered, kissing Miranda again. 

"And you." Miranda kissed Jane. "Our regular lunch tomorrow?"

Jane nodded, "I don't know how long your call is going to go but would you like to just meet me at the restaurant in the Regent?"

Miranda smiled, "sure, see you then."

**

"Why do we always have meetings here?" Harley asked, leaning back in his chair. "There are other restaurants." 

Lauren put a hand on his leg and brought him back to the floor. "Feet on the floor, please, I value your head too much to see it smashed on the ground." 

"That image makes me hungry..." Harley frowned sarcastically. 

"As to your original question: I don't know. I like it, mom likes it and it's conveniently located in downtown."

"You should do their commercials." 

Lauren laughed, "shut-up, smart ass... I'm a little nervous." 

Harley smiled. "This lunch is going to go fine. This firm called you and they're taking you out to lunch and they even said that I was invited. They want you to work for them. Don't be nervous."

"Shit, there he is," Lauren stood up and waved over the representative from the law firm she was hoping would accept her. 

"Excellent restaurant choice." He said as he shook Lauren's hand. "I bring all my out of town clients here. It's great to finally meet you, Lauren."

"And you, too, Mr. Brunswick." 

"Please, call me Steven." 

"This is my husband, Harley." 

Steven shook his hand, "it's nice to meet you, Harley. Are you also a lawyer?"

"No, sir, I'm in computer programming." 

"Good skill to have. I can turn my computer on, write a document and send an e-mail and that's pretty much it. Good skill to have. Have you ordered yet?"

"No , we were waiting for you, we just got here." 

Harley looked up at that moment. "Hey, it's-" he went pale. Jane walked up to the front desk of the hotel with dark glasses on. "Oh no."

"Sweetie, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just... I need some water." He said as he took a big swig of water. He just prayed she wasn't meeting Jake again after the shitstorm that had transpired last time. 

Jane fidgeted with the room keycard she'd just paid for. She hoped that Miranda wouldn't think she was being too forward but she had decided to take the bull by the horns and be bold. She felt like she should make up for the amount of time she spent floundering the day before. Her heart was pounding in her chest. 

Miranda walked in and smiled. "Hope you weren't waiting long." 

"Not at all. I just got here. I was thinking we might try something a little different today..."

"Oh?"

Jane held up the keycard. "How about room service?" 

Miranda grinned. "I think that sounds wonderful." 

Jane took Miranda's hand as she led them to the elevators. Harley's eyes widened. As the doors were sliding shut Jane could no longer resist kissing Miranda. Harley yelped. 

"Harley?" Lauren snapped, half concerned and half annoyed. 

"I'm sorry. I just... I got a pain in my chest. Would you excuse me for just one second?" 

**

"I... I just thought that maybe a little privacy would be good for us today, not that I think anything will happen, per se. I just thought... we would want to be alone." 

"Don't be so nervous." Miranda smiled, finding Jane's nervousness to be endearing. She picked up the phone, "I'll order us lunch if you'd like to compose yourself." Miranda teased. 

Jane smirked, "Caesar salad?"

"You've got it." Miranda dialed down. 

Jane stepped into the bathroom for a moment. When she looked up and caught sight of herself in the mirror she found herself smiling. Despite trying to look serious she found that she couldn't stop smiling. When she stepped back out into the room Miranda had taken off her jacket and taken a seat on the couch. 

Jane walked up to her. "Room for one more?" She asked coyly. 

"Please." Miranda motioned to the empty seat next to her. Jane sat down. 

"How did your call go?"

Miranda sighed, "fine. It was as boring as I anticipated. I was, luckily, on my blutooth so I wasn't tethered to the spot. I spent the conversation putting away my purchases from last night." Miranda ran a hand along Jane's arm. "I'm glad you worked up your courage."

"Me too. So you weren't just kissing me back to be polite?"

"Jane, I'm never polite. What I do and say, I mean." Miranda punctuated her point by capturing Jane's lips. Jane leaned into Miranda, wrapping an arm around her svelte form. Miranda's hand massaged Jane's hip as the kiss deepened. Jane moaned softly, causing Miranda to moan in response and pull Jane closer. Jane pulled her legs up under her to move closer to Miranda. 

There was a knock on the door. Jane yelped and clung to Miranda, "who knows we're here?"

"It's room service. Are you always this jumpy?" Miranda teased.

"You should have seen me on prom night. Not that I had sex that night -- not that we're going to have sex today -- not that we're not going to have sex today -- would you put me out of my misery and just get the door?"

Miranda laughed, "try not to hyperventilate in the meantime." Miranda opened the door and accepted the food. "Going to come join me?"

"Yes..."

Miranda set out the food on the little table in the corner and Jane took a seat across from her. Jane laid her napkin in her lap and took a few bites of salad, chewing pensively. "Have you ever been in a relationship with a woman?" 

Miranda considered this question for a moment. "Not really, no." She shook her head, "definitely not a sexual one. There was a young woman in my employ who I became quite smitten with a couple of years ago. I don't know if I realized it at the time, that I was attracted to her, but in hindsight I know I was." 

Jane nodded, "did she have feelings for you?"

"She may have. She was fiercely loyal for a while, foresaking all others accommodate me. Though I daresay I made it difficult for anyone to have any feelings for me other than contempt at the time. I was feeling particularly self-loathsome around that time because it was during the end of my marriage to Stephen." 

Jane nodded knowingly. "Divorce is never easy." 

"Sometimes it feels like love is the only thing I've ever failed at." 

"Failing is never easy. We're taught so early on that there is no failing, there are no second chances and as women sometimes it feels like any personal failings are a reflection on the whole gender." 

Miranda smiled, "how about you? Have you ever had a relationship with a woman?"

"Me? No. Never even considered it until I met you." 

"What did I change?"

"You mean apart from everything?" Jane chuckled. "I mean, I'm just blown away by you. By everything about you. You're sexy and smart and well-spoken and thoughtful and sexy."

"You said sexy twice." Miranda pointed out.

"Well, I think it bears repeating." Jane admitted shyly. "I just... I just think you're magnificent." 

"I think you're magnificent too. What first drew me to you was your mystery. I wondered why you were working the front counter of the bakery when you looked so much more sophisticated and I wondered where your name tag was and I loved our game of ingredient guessing and I loved that you treated me like a person and not something to be afraid of. Then I was drawn to your sweetness and your openness. Your smile is so radiant and your laugh is melodic. All of those trite things that people think and say when they're smitten." 

Jane blushed. "Isn't it wonderful when an attraction is mutual? I feel so happy and I can't even imagine how I would have felt if you hadn't kissed me back. I could have lost a dear friend." 

Miranda took her hand, "you certainly haven't lost me." 

"I don't feel that hungry. Maybe we could lay down on the bed and...?" 

Miranda grinned, "I think I can swing it." 

The two women sank into the plush bedding. Jane ran her hands shakily over Miranda's side. "Did you ever do any modeling?"

"I had quite a few professional portraits done over the years. Does that count?" 

"How old were you when your hair went white?" Jane asked as she ran her fingers through the aforementioned locks.

"Thirty."

"Bullshit." Jane laughed. 

"Okay, okay. I was twenty eight and a half but I think it's okay to round up. That was when it started going grey and since it was inevitable I just white-washed it instead trying to dye it blonde." 

"You were blonde?" Jane gently touched Miranda's eyebrows. "Your eyebrows are awfully dark for blond." 

"So are yours." Miranda teased. "I used to dye my hair blonde, I am a natural brunette. You caught me." 

"I used to have dirty blonde hair but now because of the strands of grey it looks lighter." 

Miranda inspected Jane's hair more closely. "Oh yeah. Your hair is like an impressionist painting. The closer you are you can see that all the strands combine to make the color you see from far away." 

"I think I like being compared to a painting." 

"You're prettier and more valuable than a Monet." Miranda whispered, her hand seeking out Jane's hip and outer thigh. 

Jane sighed with contentment and scooted closer, pressing their hips together. Miranda pulled in a shaky breath and brought her lips down onto Jane's. Jane moved her hips against Miranda's, drawing out a low moan as the kiss deepened. Jane's body was aflame from the mms and ahhs coming from Miranda, every little sound she made settled right between Jane's legs. Miranda's hand gripped Jane's ass, pulling her closer. She parted her legs and pulled Jane's between them. Jane moaned as she pressed into Miranda's center with her thigh. Miranda's breath hitched in her throat and came out as a deep moan. 

"Do you want to slow down?" Miranda whispered, panting.

Jane shook her head, "do you?"

"Uh-uh." Miranda pulled Jane back in for a crushing kiss as he hand snaked up Jane's sweater. Jane thrust her chest out and Miranda deftly unhooked Jane's bra. Jane groaned as they had to separate to pull off the sweater and the bra. Miranda's mouth came down on Jane's sensitive nipple. Jane grabbed a fistful of hair and moaned loudly. Miranda was spurred on by the strong reaction and repeated the action with the other nipple until Jane was writhing and moaning. 

When Miranda's hand began to venture lower Jane called out, "wait, wait, wait." 

Miranda looked up confused. 

Jane smiled reassuringly. "I just want to see you. I want to see your beautiful body..." 

Miranda considered this for a moment and stood up. She unzipped her pants and shimmied out of them and pulled off her blouse and stood before Jane in her La Perla underwear. Jane grinned, "Miranda, I love your pubic hair!" 

Miranda blushed deeply. "Well, it's not exactly as if I expected to be naked in front of anyone today." She reached down and attempted to cover where her pubic hair snuck out around her panties. 

"No, no, I'm serious. I was nervous because I don't get bikini waxes anymore and... I love it, it's just naturally you. That's beautiful." 

Miranda snorted. "Let's see yours then," Miranda whispered getting closer to the bed. 

"I'm not in as good a shape as you are... just keep that in mind, okay? I do run but I'm a little heavier. Also older." 

"I doubt that." Miranda admitted climbing over Jane.

"How old are you? I'm 59." Jane said defiantly. 

"61, thank you very much." Miranda grinned triumphantly, starting in on Jane's pants. "The biographer who rewrote my past rewrote my age too." 

"I would never -- ever in a million years -- guess you were over sixty." 

"Stop trying to distract me." Miranda scolded playfully as she tugged down Jane's jeans. Miranda ran her hands appreciatively over Jane's toned leg muscles, "I love runners' legs." Miranda whispered as she gently dragged her teeth along a hard calf. "Even sexier than dancers' legs." 

Jane blushed and mmmed as Miranda lavished attention to her legs. Jane couldn't remember the last time someone had shown such interest in the non-sexual parts of her body. Jane wondered why she'd never considered women before. Jane snapped out of her ponderances when Miranda's fingers slipped under the waistband of her underwear. 

Jane lifted her hips instinctively to aid Miranda in their removal. Miranda pulled them down and discarded them haphazardly. She settled between Jane's legs and nuzzled the crevice where her thigh met her pelvis. Jane's eyes slipped shut and she ran her fingers through Miranda's hair. Miranda smiled against the sensitive skin, sending a shiver through Jane's body. Miranda used her fingers to gently part Jane's outer lips and extended her tongue to rub Jane's clit. 

Jane cried out her appreciation which spurred Miranda on. Miranda's tongue made tight circles around Jane's clit as her hand kneaded her thigh. 

"Yes... yes..." the words escaped Jane's lips of their own accord as Jane felt the rest of her shut off so that all the available resources could rush to her center.

Whether Miranda had done this before or she hadn't she was amazing at it. She felt the familiar sensation that Miranda knew her whole body, that she'd memorized it from head to toe and the thought sent an extra jolt of arousal through her body which unexpectedly caused her orgasm to tear through her.

Miranda looked up in wonder. Jane vainly tugged the sheet over her naked body while Miranda wiped her mouth off.

Jane just groaned and rolled over onto her stomach as her body reeled. Miranda laid down next to the still pulsing body of her lover and nuzzled her neck. Jane looked up into Miranda's face and kissed her. Jane's arms wrapped around Miranda and held her tightly as they kissed.

Jane was in a haze of arousal and she wanted to make sure Miranda knew just exactly how appreciated her efforts were. Her hand slid into Miranda's panties and moaned when she found how wet she was.

Miranda bit her lip and moaned, parting her legs for Jane's convenience. Jane pushed them back together in order to pull the silk panties away from her intended target and nudged them apart with her body as she settled between the warm thighs.

Miranda arched her back and hooked a leg around Jane. Jane paused, trying to decide how many fingers she ought to use. Miranda's groan brought Jane back to the moment and she decided to start with two and add as needed.

The first time Jane's fingers slid into Miranda she thought she would orgasm again just from the feeling of Miranda's muscles reacting and contracting around the digits. Jane added a third finger and started to move in and out of Miranda, curling upward to press against the sensitive tissue.

Miranda moaned and groaned and writhed. Jane watched her chest heave and her thighs tremble and as she was beginning to fear that she wouldn't be able to maintain the control of her thrusts for much longer Miranda's muscles started to clench tightly down onto Jane's fingers.

Jane groaned both in pain and pleasure as Miranda's walls clamped around her and contracted. Miranda let out an animalistic guttural moan from deep within her throat.

Jane moved up the bed to lay next to Miranda. Miranda panted and wiped at her sweaty forehead. She looked over at Jane and grinned. "That was pretty perfect..."

"My sentiments exactly." Jane threaded her fingers through Miranda's and pulled her into a slower, sensual kiss. Miranda's stomach growled and they both laughed, "I think you worked up an appetite."

"It would seem so."

Second half of part one...
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