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


"Jane?" Miranda called as she walked into the townhouse. She entered the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, reaching back and extracting a bottle of Antech Blanquette de Limoux grande reserve 2003.

She furrowed her brow, "Jane, are you here?" She climbed the stairs. Miranda heard the shower running and then stop and Jane stepped out of the bathroom.

Jane let out a small yelp of surprise. "Miranda, you startled me."

Miranda blinked in surprise. "Shower. Fully clothed. Cell phone. Is there something I'm missing?"

"No," Jane shook her head, "no. I was just going to take a shower and I heard you coming so I turned the shower off and I had my phone in there in case you called."

"Oh, okay." Miranda smiled, "so how about we take that shower together?"

"Hold on," Jane took Miranda's free hand. "That was a lie. I was talking to my psychologist. On the first anniversary of my divorce I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown and I've been seeing a psychologist ever since and because of our side trip to New York I missed my regular session."

"You don't have to explain yourself to me." Miranda offered her a smile, "you certainly don't have to lie either."

"I know." Jane nodded, "I know I don't have to explain myself but I want to... share myself with you. You make me really happy, Miranda."

Miranda smiled sincerely, "you make me happy, too." She leaned in and kissed her softly. "Now, I'm feeling celebratory and I would like to lap champagne out of your belly button. How does that sound to you?"

"Sounds like after you do that you'd better share." Jane grinned as she began unbuttoning Miranda's blouse.

Miranda maneuvered them into the bathroom and set the champagne bottle down on the vanity and began removing Jane's clothes. When they were both naked Miranda ran her hands over Jane's body and held her close. Jane laid her head on Miranda's shoulder, "I can feel your pulse in your neck."

"Thank goodness, I thought I'd stopped breathing." Miranda teased.

Jane smacked Miranda in the ass with a laugh. Miranda retrieved the bottle and unwrapped the top, "get in the tub, it might bubble over."

Jane climbed into the spacious whirlpool tub and Miranda followed her. She hooked her thumb under the cork and after a moment's effort it popped off. The bubbly liquid overflowed from the bottle and drenched Jane's lap.

"That's cold!" She yelled in surprise.

"I keep it in the refrigerator, you're supposed to serve champagne chilled." Miranda dipped her head to run her tongue over Jane's thighs.

Jane moaned and leaned back, her eyes slipping shut. Her eyes snapped open again as Miranda poured champagne over her stomach. Jane met Miranda's eyes as Miranda dipped her tongue into her belly button. Jane mmed and lifted her hips off the ceramic in encouragement.

Miranda tipped the bottle and sent champagne cascading between Jane's legs. She groaned as a surge of arousal shot through her and whimpered as Miranda nestled in between her thighs. Miranda's warm, wet tongue pressed against Jane's clit and she hissed.

"Yes..." Jane ran her fingers through Miranda's hair, gently kneading the scalp under the white locks.

"I love champagne," Miranda whispered seductively against Jane. She swirled her tongue around Jane's lips, dipping her tongue inside of her and back up to lavish attention to her clit.

Jane arched her back encouragingly.

Miranda pushed three fingers into Jane. Jane cried out and lashed out to grab onto the sides of the tub. Miranda curled and twisted her fingers inside the other woman as she swept her tongue over the sensitive bundle of nerves.

Jane cried out again when she couldn't stave off her orgasm any longer and laid in the tub in a daze for a moment.

When she opened her eyes again, Miranda was hovering over her with a grin. "Hi."

Jane smiled and laughed, reaching up and covering Miranda's face with her hand. "My turn," Jane shifted, trying to move around so Miranda could lie down.

Jane began her turn meticulously and with keen calculation. She dripped tiny pools of bubbles onto Miranda's hot skin and made sure that she drank every drop. She started her torture at Miranda's collarbone and slowly worked down her torso.

When Jane got to Miranda's belly button she stopped. Miranda glanced up. Jane gently ran her fingers along a line on Miranda's abdomen. "I've never noticed this before."

Miranda's hands flew up to cover the offending mark, knowing full well what Jane was referring to. She started to sit up, struggling to do so without using her hands while she slipped around in champagne.

"Hey, you don't have to hide it from me." Jane furrowed her brow. "I didn't mean to bring it up if it's a sore subject."

"It's fine. Forget it." Miranda pulled herself up out of the tub.

"Miranda, I'm sorry." Jane insisted as she followed her out.

"Jane, I said it's fine." Miranda snapped. She sighed, "I'm not... mad at you. It just sort of puts me in a bad mood." Miranda's hand was still clamped over the scar as she pulled a towel around her.

"You're just going to hide your stomach from me forever?"

Miranda hesitated and pursed her lips. "Forever's an awfully long time, isn't it?"

"Maybe..." Jane bit her lip, covering herself in a towel as well. "Will you talk to me? You don't have to tell me what happened but, please, let's keep the lines of communication open."

"Okay, fine." Miranda plopped down on the closed toilet seat. "I don't like it because it reminds me of my weaknesses."

"Scars aren't reminders of our weaknesses. They're reminders of our triumphs and reminders of the remarkable resilience of human bodies." Jane tipped over the empty waste bin and sidled up to Miranda. "I've had several, probably around twenty, first and second degree burns from hot food over the years. I've had stitches twice, once from appendicitis and once from rushing to finish a catering order."

Miranda took Jane's hand and kissed her palm. "I'm not bothered by scars." She laid her left hand on Jane's. "The scar up my thumb is from one of the only times I tried to make my daughters' halloween costumes. I have a burn behind my ear from a curling iron, a burn behind my knee from hot wax. Scars are evidence of a life that's been lived."

"I guess I don't understand what makes that scar different." Jane rubbed Miranda's knee comfortingly.

"But it is. It is different and it makes me feel... bad... and that's all I have to say about it for the moment. I am not trying to close the lines of communication but I'm not going to talk about it right now."

"That's fine. Are you hungry? Let's have lunch."

**

"My kitchen manager just called." Jane entered the home office where Miranda was pouring over her market research.

Miranda turned around and furrowed her brow. "And?"

"And maybe things aren't so different at the bakery than at Runway. I guess a week is too long to trust them to run smoothly in my absence." Jane gave Miranda a small smile, "I booked myself a flight, I'm leaving kind of right away. I know that you're staying to help out with the photoshoot."

"I don't have to stay. I can go home with you." Miranda took Jane's hand.

Jane gave it a squeeze, "just the fact that you would is enough for me." She brought the hand to her lips and kissed the soft knuckles. "You stay and I'll see you when you get back."

"I'll call Roy. I'll take you to the airport."

"I already called a cab." Jane shook her head.

"You already called a cab? You really meant it when you said right away." Miranda furrowed her brow. "Do you have to fly coach for that last minute booking?"

Jane laughed, "some people fly coach because it's cheaper."

"That's a terrible reason to do something," Miranda stood up from her chair. "Well, I'll at least walk you downstairs."

As they stood on the front stoop in the chilly late autumn air Miranda threaded her fingers through Jane's. "Will you call me when you land? I know it will be late here."

Jane nodded, "I will."

The yellow cab pulled up in front and Jane wrapped her arm around Miranda's shoulder and kissed her softly then gave her an amorous hug. "I'll call as soon as I touch down."

Miranda released her, "have a nice flight."

Miranda watched the cab pull away and wished that she hadn't agreed to stay for the shoot. Miranda Priestly was a woman of her word and she wouldn't go back on it now.

**

Jane sat behind a screaming baby and she thought back to Miranda's reservations about coach and had to smile.

"I'm sorry, he's teething." The young mother turned around to address Jane.

"I've had three of my own, don't worry." Jane waved her hand dismissively with a smile. She put on the provided head phones to watch the in-flight movie.

**

Miranda's phone woke her up around 11:30. "Hello," she murmured.

"Hey sleepy," Jane smiled, "I just picked up a cab and I'm on my way home now."

"While I have you on the phone, I wanted to tell you about the scar on my stomach." Miranda rolled over onto her back.

"You don't have to if you don't want to."

"I want to," Miranda insisted. "My first husband, Rich and I were together for ten years. We put off getting married because I wanted to be really established before I got married. My mother quit her job two years after she got married and I didn't want that. Runway became Elias Clark's most profitable publication and we attracted a wealth of new investors and we started up French Runway and we finally surpassed Vogue in sales and reach so I finally agreed to marry him. When we got married I kept my name and the papers started calling him Mr. Priestly. He got more and more agitated that I was more successful than he was. We fought constantly but it only got physical once. My mother had framed one of the articles about me and Rich pulled it from the wall and was shaking it at me and we were both screaming and he broke the frame over the bedpost so I hit him and he hit me back and I ended up on the floor and Rich held me down and wouldn't let me up for several minutes. He held me down on the glass and in my struggle to get away from him my stomach got very cut up. One or two of the cuts probably should have been stitched. As I stood up, bits of glass falling from my stomach, blood soaking into my blouse, Rich went wide-eyed and started apologizing. Whatever rageful spell he was under lifted but mine was just getting started and I hit him in the head with one of the pieces of the frame and kicked him out and we didn't speak without our lawyers ever again."

Jane was silent for a few long moments.

"Are you still there?" Miranda asked softly.

"Yeah," Jane nodded, "I'm sorry... I just... I'm stunned. I have a hard time... imagining... you being vulnerable."

"I was ashamed of myself for starting it and I was ashamed of myself for lashing out and not dealing with the situation more rationally."

"You didn't start it."

"I threw the first punch." Miranda reminded.

"But he broke the frame, he was itching for a fight." Jane insisted. "He didn't respect you. Breaking the frame was very symbollic, he threw the first punch by breaking the frame. Then it got worse because you're not a fragile woman who'll back into a corner and cry. You're an incredibly strong-willed person who should never be underestimated. You have made quite a few men feel immasculated because of how powerful you are. That's your curse and your gift. I love that you never compromise yourself."

"I never got stitches for the deeper cuts because I didn't want to admit that I let him overpower me. I think I'm just as guilty as he is when it comes to getting enraged over loss of control."

"Maybe... except for the fact that his loss of control was an illusion. He perceived that he lost control over you because you didn't need him for financial support. You lost your control because he forcibly held you in a situation you didn't want to be in. He didn't have to stay."

"I thought we were in love." Miranda admitted softly. "It was hard coming to terms with the fact that we weren't."

"Who said you weren't? Love can be very blinding. That's something Jake never had to worry about with me. I depended on him. Not necessarily for money, I've always been able to make my own money but I really felt like I needed him and I never challenged his perception of himself as a man."

"But you figured out that you didn't need him."

"When I had my panic attack and I started seeing Dr. Nemo, it wasn't because I thought it would be a good idea it was court mandated." Jane confessed hesitantly.

Miranda snorted a laugh, "you're joking."

"I was upset because Jake was taking Agness on vacation on our anniversary. It's not like I was in denial about the divorce I just thought our anniversary should be sacred. Like when you retire a number in baseball. I was distraught and preoccupied and I got involved in a fender bender. The man jumps out of the car yelling 'fucking women drivers' and I really lost it. I started screaming and I could find my insurance card in my bag and I slammed it into the car until everything fell out which made me angrier. Someone called the police and when a cop grabbed me by the arm I didn't realize he was the police and I elbowed him in the nose."

Miranda was stunned into silence until she broke out into laughter.

"Well, I'm glad you find it funny." Jane smirked.

"No, it's only a little funny because it's so out of character. I think I would have wailed on the nearest policeman if someone had just yelled 'fucking women drivers' at me too."

Jane blushed and laughed, "I didn't wail on anyone."

"There's another thing we have in common. We both lash out violently when threatened. We're a force to be reckoned with." Miranda grinned.

"You bet your ass we are, Priestly." Jane smiled. "I'm almost home, I'm going to let you go back to bed. Thank you for sharing with me."

"Thanks for being a good listener."

**

Miranda was wrapped up in her black wool Prada coat with faux fur trim as she sipped her starbucks in a vip chair.

Emily checked the notes on her clipboard as she oversaw the set-up for the shoot. "Everything ship shape, mate?"

"Never say that again." Emily drawled, scribbling something on her notes and directing a laborer to move one of the lights. "It's going perfectly well, thank you."

"Alright." He sidled up next to her causing her to furrow her brow in annoyance. "There's no need to feel nervous because Miranda's here."

"I don't feel nervous because Miranda's here." Emily checked a few things off her list and capped her pen. "I am one hundred percent confident in my abilities to do my job. Don't push off your fear of inadequacy onto me."

"My... fear of inadequacy?" Nigel scoffed, "oh, please!"

"Nigel!" Miranda called and Nigel jumped.

"Face it. You were her bitch then, you're her bitch now and you will always be her bitch." Emily snickered.

"Yeah, let's not forget which one of us had to detail her car after her dog had the shits in the backseat."

Emily shuddered and looked back to her clipboard.

"That's what I thought. Who's the bitch no-"

"Nigel!" Miranda snapped with more ferocity.

"Coming Miranda." He ran to her.

Emily chuckled to herself, "somehow it's still you..."

Miranda scowled as Nigel approached her. She looked at her watch, "is it beyond you to set up a simple photoshoot in under half an hour?"

"It's not that simple." Nigel insisted, "it's all about the morning light. We have all the models in place and we're just waiting for the light to come through the trees to create the right shadows."

Miranda sighed heavily. "In that case I'm going to need another latte."

He accepted her empty paper coffee cup and smirked, "yes, I'll get right on that." He stood and joined Emily again. "Okay, it's me. I'm the bitch. As such I'm going to go get her a latte. You good here if I'm gone for a few minutes?"

"Yup. I could use a venti skinny chai though."

Nigel narrowed his eyes at her. "If I'm feeling charitable when I walk up to the counter..."

"Oh no." Emily furrowed her brow, her mouth fell open. "Here comes trouble with a capital A."

Nigel followed Emily's gaze to see Andy sauntering onto the set. "No, that's cool. I invited her."

"You invited Miranda and Andy to the same photoshoot? I take it back, you're not a bitch, you're the idiot to end all idiots." Emily hissed, "Miranda will eat her alive and then pick her teeth with the bones and then she'll skin you and turn your body into a throw rug."

"Relax, would you? Miranda was in love with Andy. Andy was in love with her. I think that enough time has elapsed that they can let bygones be bygones."

Emily blinked at him. "...have you met Miranda?"

"Hello," Andy said casually, sitting next to Miranda.

Miranda turned, somewhat startled. She furrowed her brow. "Stop doing that."

"Doing what? Bringing you a latte?" She held up the steaming beverage.

Miranda snatched it out of her hand. "Among other things."

"I think we should talk." Andy continued, forging ahead despite the cold shoulder she was getting from the older woman. "I would really love the chance to explain myself."

"You don't deserve it." Miranda pursed her lips.

"Maybe I do, maybe I don't. I think I was your faithful servant girl for long enough that you can spare me a couple of minutes."

"I owe you nothing." Miranda scoffed. "Your hourly wage was compensation for the meaningless errands you ran while you were my assistant. You already owe me a minute of my life that I will never get back from having to sit here and explain to you why you are unworthy of my time."

Andy sipped her own coffee. "I think if you really didn't want to talk to me you could have made your no a little shorter."

Miranda snorted, "be that as it may..." she said dismissively.

"When the photoshoot lets out meet me at the Starbucks across the street."

Miranda cast Andy a tired glare.

"If you don't I'll just keep popping up and it's going to start getting awfully tiring trying to fend me off all the time." Andy stood up and had the nerve to smile playfully. "I'll be waiting."

Miranda glared at the girl's retreating form. She sipped the latte begrudgingly.

Once the shoot was over Miranda gave Emily a slight nod. Emily could barely contain her excitement. Miranda walked up to the the car and glanced at the Starbucks across the street before sliding into the towncar.

**

Lauren, Luke and Gabby were shown into Jake's office by his secretary. He smiled hugely, "hey kids, it's great to see you all here. To what do I owe the pleasure."

Luke looked up at his father. "Dad, we love you."

"But you have to leave mom and Miranda alone." Lauren finished definitively. "We know that you've been contacting her as of late and she's too polite to ask you to stop."

"Miranda seems to make her happy in the least neurotic way mom is capable of." Gabby added.

"And you know we don't mean just, 'hey Jane, how's it going?' we mean the more inappropriate interactions." Lauren added.

Jake scoffed, "inappropriate? I don't know what you're talking about."

"Dad, before you make an ass out of yourself, you should know I was at mom's house watering the plants when you called and left that message..." Luke admitted quietly.

"Oh shit, which one?" Jake's eyes were wide.

"Two of them, actually."

"Christ, how long does it take you to water plants?" Jake fidgeted.

"It was a long message. I guess it cut you off and you had to call back to finish it..." Luke frowned.

Jake cleared his throat and straightened up, "yes, well..."

"We just want you to know that we've seen her with Miranda several times and Miranda is really good to her and for her and she just seems so happy. She's moving forward with her life, dad, you need to let her."

"And she's too polite to tell me all this herself?" Jake asked.

Gabby nodded, "you know mom."

"Yeah... I did," Jake pulled out his cell phone and dialed his voicemail and put it on speaker. Their mother's voice came through loud and clear:

"Jake! I just got home and listened to all those messages you left on my machine. That is entirely uncalled for. I am giving you this one opportunity to stop before I make you rue the day you were born."

The three children stood stunned for a moment before Gabby laughed, "Miranda's very good for her."

"I just have one question." Jake said as he flipped his phone shut and tucked it back into his suit jacket. "Miranda doesn't have mob contacts, does she?"

**

"You shouldn't have this number." Miranda pursed her lips.

"I waited for you for three hours." Andy said, plowing ahead.

"I don't take orders." Miranda said curtly.

"How about a plea then?" Andy asked. Miranda stayed silent so she continued. "I am begging for the chance to talk to you. If you don't like what I have to say then I'll never bother you again."

"Ever?"

"Ever." Andy nodded, "just name the time and place."

Miranda thought back to Jane's jealousy over Andrea. Miranda knew it was unfounded but was worried that the paparazzi would snap pictures of them together. Miranda sighed inwardly. "Where are you right now?"

"On the steps outside the Mirror."

"Okay. Stay there."

Andy grinned, "you're coming here?"

"No. I'm staying right where I am to. We're going to do this right now and over the phone." Miranda settled into the settee in the sitting room. "You said I could name the time and place, didn't you?"

"I did, I just thought... I thought we could speak face to face."

"It would appear that thinking is only the first of your problems." Miranda snapped. She looked at her watch, "you have exactly five minutes."

"Miranda, I've never been able to stop thinking about you. I've never been able to fall out of love with you." Andy started, realizing she had this one chance. "In Paris, I saw you cry and I wanted nothing more than to hold you and kiss you and I realized how in love with you I was. I know you felt at least some of that for me. The way you looked at me changed, the way you talked to me. Then when you cost Nigel his promotion... when you hurt your closest friend like that... I got scared. I thought even if you loved me could I ever really trust you? Would I spend my whole life waiting for the other shoe to drop? Then in the car... you had no remorse... you were proud of me for trying to warn you and you... smiled. Nigel was crushed and you were smiling. I thought... I had to walk or way or I'd never be able to walk away. But I understand now that I wasn't ever able to just walk away. Not after Emily called me back to the office, I couldn't have walked away from you without regret and fear that I'd ruined something that could have been beautiful. I love you, Miranda, I love you so much it hurts."

Miranda was silent on the other end. For a brief moment of panic Andy thought that she'd hung up on her. Then she heard a sniffle on the other end and breathed a silent sigh of relief.

"You broke my heart." Miranda said slowly, trying to hold back her tears. "What did you expect me to do? Lose my husband, my magazine and my dignity all in one fell swoop? I made it up to Nigel. If you loved me at all you should have realized that I'm not a monster."

"I know you're not a monster." Andy wiped at her own tears.

"You were right, Andrea, the way I looked at you, the way I spoke to you, the way I thought about you, it did change. I fell in love with you."

Andy smiled, "I'm so happy to hear you say that,"

"But what you did... you abandoned me. You abandoned me the day after I was served with divorce papers. You didn't contact me again for five years."

"Miranda, I..." Andy stuttered,

"You had the gaul to wait until you knew for sure that I would date a woman to even try to talk to me again. You have the nerve to confess your love when you know I'm already in a relationship. You're the worst kind of coward, Andrea Sachs." Miranda spat, "you waited until you thought it was safe and then you stirred all the old hurt back up and that is selfish."

"Miranda, I'm so sorry..." Andy cried.

"Don't be sorry just learn from your mistakes." Miranda snapped. "Goodbye, Andrea." Miranda ended the call and wiped at her eyes. She was surprised at how much better she felt. Just having voiced her feelings of hurt and betrayal to Andrea had lifted them from her shoulders, no longer weighing her down.

One thing did begin to nag at her then. How did Andrea get the unlisted new number? It dawned on her that she must have had an accomplice. It wouldn't have been Emily, Emily wouldn't help her grandmother out of burning building if it was two minutes out of her way. Jocelyn was too timid to risk upsetting Miranda. Nigel was just the right amount hopeless romantic, willfullness and suicidal to give Andrea the number.

Miranda bit her lip, the cunning plan already forming in her mind. She dialed Nigel's number. "Hi Nigel. Andrea just called me."

"Oh? And?" He tried to hide his smile.

"And what can I say? I'm in love all over again." Miranda lied. "It was wonderful of you to give her my new number."

"No thanks are necessary. I'm just happy to do my part. Andy is a much better match for you than that woman you brought with you. You'll be able to drop those excess pounds you put on in California."

"Nigel, I couldn't be more furious with you." Miranda snarled. "You had absolutely no right to give away my personal information. I may not have the best track record with relationships but I've at least been able to sustain one for more than two months at a time. The next time you feel the need to help someone with with perceived relationship troubles try looking inward first."

"I... Miranda... I..." Nigel was stunned.

"If I ever hear you utter a bad word about Jane I will ruin you. She is more real and sincere and loveable than anyone I met in forty years in the fashion industry. I am done with the petty bullshit."

Nigel's mouth fell open at the uncharacteristic swearing.

"And if you have a problem with my weight keep it to yourself." Miranda paused to allow Nigel to rebut. When he didn't speak she continued. "That being said I do still value your friendship. If you think that you can still be friends with me if I continue to date Jane and eat croissants then call me once you've grown up."

Miranda ended the call and pulled up the flight schedule from New York to Santa Barbara.

**

Luke dipped french bread into his mother's creamy potato soup, "when's Miranda coming back?"

Jane gently slapped his knuckles playfully with the spoon. "Stay out of there, it's not done." She shrugged, "I don't know. She said she was going to stay and oversee a few things, like a surprise inspection. How is it?"

"Needs a little more rosemary maybe." Luke wiped his crummy fingers on his shirt.

"Sweetheart, I buy napkins for a reason."

"So you can lecture me about not wiping my fingers on my clothes?" He teased.

"It certainly seems that way, doesn't it?" Jane smirked.

"Mom, you're missing the whole episode!" Gabby called from the living room.

"I'm making dinner. Do you want me to watch Gossip Girl or do you want to eat?" Miranda asked as she shook more rosemary into the soup pot.

"Dinner, I guess..." Gabby grumbled.

Jane's cell phone rang. "Can you stir this for a minute?" She handed the spoon to Luke and slipped into the back room to take the call. "Hi."

"It's good to hear your voice." Miranda sighed contentedly. "What are you up to?"

"Making dinner. The girls are watching Gossip Girl and Luke's hovering around helping me out with the soup."

"Mind if I come over? I just landed and I'd really like to see you."

"Of course I don't mind. Even if I did my kids would lynch me if they found out I'd turned you away." Jane smiled. "I can expect you in about twenty minutes?"

"I'd say thirty. Does it rain so infrequently here that Santa Barbarians don't know how to drive in it?" Miranda rolled her eyes.

"You know it's illegal to talk on your phone while you're driving in California?"

"I have a blutooth." Miranda said dismissively. "But if it will appease you I'll just talk to you when I get there?"

Jane smiled, "be safe. Don't hydroplane. See you soon."

"See you." Miranda smiled.

Jane sighed contentedly, knowing she was falling fast and hard for the beautiful, somewhat unpredictable white haired fashionista.

Back in the kitchen Luke was still stirring the soup. "Hey mom, I think I've got it tasting right."

"Oh yeah? Let's see about that," she took the spoon from him and tasted it. "That's perfect. You added more rosemary, what else?"

"A little extra sea salt, more garlic and paprika."

"Maybe I'll start letting you cook the family dinners." Jane mussed up his hair.

"Let's not get carried away, mom. I think I'll stick with my usual job," he said as he picked up the bowls and spoons from the counter.

"Oh, hey, grab an extra setting, Miranda's coming over."

"Don't know when she's coming back, my ass." Luke laughed. "Should we wait for her then?"

"Um..." Jane paused in thought, "I guess not. She's coming from the airport and it's raining so it could take her a while. We should probably eat and then we can sit with her when she gets here."

"When who gets here?" Lauren asked as she and Gabby joined them in the kitchen.

"Is Miranda coming?" Gabby grinned.

"Try to control your enthusiasm, I'm liable to get jealous because you like her better."

"We don't like her better." Gabby insisted, "she's just new and exciting and way nicer to us than Agness was."

They started eating leisurely. Jane only took half of a portion so that when Miranda arrived she could eat with her.

The doorbell rang and Jane went to get it. She opened the door to see a somewhat tired looking Miranda smiling on the other side. "Your house always smells wonderful."

"Come in, there's plenty left."

"I'm going to take you up on that offer but first can we talk?" Miranda asked seriously as she took Jane's hands. "In private?"

Jane's heart started to pound. She couldn't conceive of a good outcome of this talk but she managed to nod. Miranda gave the children a distracted wave as she followed Jane to the back bedroom.

Jane sat down on the bed and looked up at Miranda. "What's up?"

Miranda took a deep breath and began, "you were right about Andrea. I was still stuck on her. She showed up at the photoshoot in Central Park and we ended up talking and... I finally let her go. I realized that the reason I couldn't get over her was because I'd never talked to her or anyone else about how she made me feel. I had just buried it without addressing it but I finally let her go. It turned out that Nigel was trying to play matchmaker and he said insulting things about you and I just saw red. I was so mad."

Jane's head spun from the multiple directions the conversation was going. She nodded.

"I keep trying to tell myself that it's too soon and that I should be more level headed and I should think about it longer but I haven't had the best of luck with 'playing it safe' in relationships so I'm just going to put it all out there." Miranda sat down on the bed with Jane and took her hands again, "Jane Constance Adler, you make me ridiculously happy and I'm in love with you."

Jane stared at Miranda with wide eyes for several long moments before blinking and feeling tears roll down her cheeks.

"Is that... a good response?" Miranda bit her lip.

Jane threw her arms around Miranda and held her tightly. "I love you too." She whispered into Miranda's ear, "I'm so glad you love me."

Miranda smiled and hugged her back, "how could I resist you?"

Jane cupped Miranda's cheeks and pulled her in for a deep, sensuous kiss. "Not to cut the moment short," Jane said as she ran a finger along Miranda's bottom lip, "but coming into the house saying 'we have to talk' is apt to make children of divorce fear break-up."

"Well, they come by their neuroses honestly." Miranda teased.

"Hey!" Jane pouted playfully. "To be honest... you came in bandying about the 'we need to talk... in private' and I kind of thought you were going to break up with me."

Miranda captured Jane's lips, "we are going to work on your confidence in yourself. Remember, it's 90% attitude."

Jane grinned, "and 10% knowing you love me?"

"Maybe it's 90% knowing I love you and 10% attitude."

"Is it wrong that I want to kick my kids out and just have my way with you?" Jane laughed, pulling Miranda against her body.

**

Over the course of the winter Jane and Miranda came out to most of their families and friends. Miranda met Jane's group of girlfriends who hadn't understood until they met her why exactly they'd been blown off so many times. Jane met Sophia Loren and Donatella Versace. Miranda had even somehow struck up a friendship with Emily who reported that Nigel was still being a little girl about the whole mess with Andy.

One chilly December morning close to Christmas Adam walked onto the property sporting a Christmas present for Jane and feeling good about himself. That was until he caught sight of Miranda.

Miranda poured herself a cup of coffee and glanced over at the dumbstruck architect. She cleared her throat and he looked up to her eyes. "I'm supposed to be practicing holding my temper and asking questions before lashing out. So I will tell you once: keep your eyes north of the border and I won't break my perfect record by tearing you a new one."

Adam stuttered and turned away. Before he could get too far away from Miranda he felt something under his arm slide away from his grasp. He flipped around and saw Miranda holding the card that had been attached to the wrapped present.

Miranda ran her finger over the envelope flap. "I'm not going to find any inappropriate declarations of love in this envelope, am I?"

"Miranda," Jane scolded gently as she walked up to them. She took the envelope from her hand and handed it to Adam, "torturing Adam counts as being mean."

"God, you are a buzzkill." Miranda teased and pouted.

"Yeah, you're stuck with me." Jane smiled.

"I should get out back to see how it's going." Adam announced uncomfortably.

"Wait. Aren't you going to give Jane her Christmas present?" Miranda gestured to the package.

"Miranda." Jane scolded again.

"No, no, she's right." Adam offered the two women a weak smile. "Merry Christmas, Jane."

"Thank you, Adam." Jane accepted the gift and watched him walk away before turning to Miranda. "Sweetheart, right now you're at an eight, can we try to take it down to a three?"

Miranda pursed her lips and sipped her coffee. "Compromise? Five?" Miranda sighed when she Jane stared at her pointedly. "What? The world thinks I'm despicable anyway, why disappoint?"

"There's nothing you can do for Lucas, you can't contact him. You know that the FTC is just looking for an excuse."

"I was with the man for ten years, I should be able to offer financial assistance. Caroline told me that his car was reposessed last week." Miranda frowned. "I tried to pay for Caroline's spring semester and Lucas told me he'd drag me to court if I tried to interfere. The man is too damn stubborn."

"That doesn't sound like anybody I know..."

"The jerk would rather take out a high interest loan than just let me pay for Caroline's college education. There's no reason for him to go into debt when I can do it." Miranda insisted.

"Come on, Miranda, be reasonable. If you were in Lucas's position you'd go into hock before you took money from him." Jane rubbed Miranda's back. "Things have a way of working themselves out."

"I'm having the beginnings of an idea..."

"An evil one or a good one?" Jane watched Miranda's face for a hint.

"I'd say it straddles the middle." Miranda smirked.

"Speaking of straddling..." Jane batted her eyelashes, "is this plan something that has to go into motion immediately or can I steal you for a little mid-morning fun?"

Miranda grinned, "aren't you going to open your present?" She teased.

Jane set it on the table and grabbed Miranda by the hand, "it can wait."

**

"Hey mom," Caroline said after Miranda picked up, "the school informed me that I was awarded the Alexander McQueen memorial scholarship..."

"Oh sweetie, congratulations."

"Yeah, here's the thing. I googled it and it doesn't exist. So... thank you." Caroline smiled, "Cass and I were afraid that dad was going to... well you know. So... we just think that was really classy of you."

"Hey Bobbsey, I don't know what you're talking about. You obviously earned that scholarship." Miranda insisted. "Congratulations."

"Okay. If that's how you want to play it." Caroline smiled again, "dinner tonight?"

**

The construction hit a few snags as Adam tried to push off overseeing onto one of the other architects and they had a water main burst but it was finally finished in early April.

Miranda and Jane lay out in the spring sun. Jane still wrapped in a sweater, Miranda down to a t-shirt. "You know what I'd like to do right now?" Miranda ran her finger down Jane's arm.

"What?" Jane bit her lip.

"I'd like to go for a swim and I'd like you to come with me." Miranda sat up and pulled her shirt off.

Jane propped herself up, "you're a madwoman. It's barely sixty degrees."

"It'll be invigorating." Miranda insisted as she kicked off her shoes. "I'm going in with or without you. So, Jane, how about it: are you a man or a mouse?"

"Are those my only two options?" Jane laughed.

Miranda slipped her Versace slacks down her legs and stood before Jane in her underwear. Slowly, she reached behind her back and unhooked her bra, letting it fall away before bending and shimmying out of her thong.

Jane whimpered, scarcely able to contain her lust at seeing her lover standing naked in front of her. Jane closed her eyes, "god, you are such a bad influence!" She pulled the sweater off and hastily removed her pants, t-shirt, bra and underwear. "I'm counting on you to warm me up."

"I'll keep you warm." Miranda promised as she stepped up onto the diving board.

"Oh god, you're not really going to... are you? I can't watch!" Jane called as she covered her eyes with her hand, peeking through the fingers in disbelief.

Miranda took one bounce and dove into the pool. Jane watched the water in awe and jumped when Miranda came up with a splash by her feet.

"Come on in," Miranda pushed her hair back, "the water's fine."

"I'm going to regret this..." Jane squeezed her eyes, held her nose and did a canonball into the pool.

As she came up, already starting to shiver, she felt Miranda's warm arms encircle her waist and pull her close. She opened her eyes to see Miranda smiling at her. "Absolutely beautiful..."

Jane captured Miranda's lips pushing her back toward the wall of the pool and covering her body with her own. Jane's hand snaked down Miranda's thigh and she raked her fingernails up the soft flesh.

Miranda moaned as Jane's fingers slipped between her legs and ran along slick wetness. Miranda wrapped her arms around Jane's waist and Jane pushed three fingers into Miranda. Miranda groaned and rolled her hips against Jane as she laid her head on Jane's shoulder and moved with her.

"I love your ability to talk me into things I know are crazy," Jane whispered in a low, sultry voice as she thrust into Miranda. "My life would suck without you."

"If you break out into Kelly Clarkson I don't think I'll be orgasming today..." Miranda teased as she bucked her hips with Jane's movements.

"Shut up." Jane grinned, "you talk too much." Jane pushed deeper inside Miranda.

Miranda cried out, she gripped the tile by the edge of the pool and held Jane tighter as she felt her orgasm closing in on her. "Oh god," she groaned, "oh god..."

"I can't get enough of you," Jane said softly as she ran her tongue along Miranda's neck and started to suck gently on her pulse point.

Miranda bit her lip against the scream that threatened as her orgasm overtook her. Miranda clung to Jane, groaning and moaning as she felt all the little sparks rushing to her extremeties. "Oh... God..."

"I usually go by Jane, but God works for me." Jane laughed.

"Feeling cocky, are we?" Miranda grinned. Miranda's hands slid over Jane's breasts causing Jane to moan her appreciation. Miranda let her legs down and lifted Jane up. Miranda's finger made circles over Jane's clit.

Jane buried her face in Miranda's neck.

Miranda nibbled on Jane's ear as she continued to stroke the little bundle of nerves. Jane moved easily with Miranda in the water, her whole body flushing with arousal. She moaned as Miranda expertly applied pressure in all the right places.

Jane's grip on Miranda tightened as she felt her orgasm building. When her body let go and her muscles contracted, her mind shut off from rational thought. The resulting rush was peaceful and calming and she stayed in Miranda's arms for who knew how long.

Jane came back to the moment upon feeling Miranda's lips moving against her ear. "Hm?"

"I said I love you," Miranda murmured again.

Jane smiled and gave Miranda a squeeze, "love you, too."

**

A month and a half later in early June Jane decided to throw a pool party. They hadn't managed to get all-slash-most of their families and friends together in one place and Jane thought that an informal pool party would be the perfect get together.

"You're basically throwing a Coming Out Ball. It's like your debutante ball." Miranda teased as she licked her umpteenth envelope and tossed it into the pile with the other finished invitations for Jane to stamp.

"Did you have a debutante ball?" Jane asked distractedly as she painstakingly placed a stamp in the corner.

"Are you kidding? I grew up in the bad part of Newark. At my senior prom two people got knifed." Miranda grabbed some of the sealed pile from Jane, "it's going to take forever if you put all the stamps on like that."

"Two people did not get knifed at your senior prom!" Jane objected.

"They did. That was the year that we had a gang war. I'm not making this up. The hispanic kids were De Oro and the retaliating white kids were 'white wins today' which they abbreviated to WWII." Miranda put another invitation in the outgoing pile. "My mother wanted me to transfer but I was so close to graduating that I talked her out of it."

"The worst thing that happened at my high school was a massive food fight. The whole cafeteria got detention for a week." Jane furrowed her brow, "maybe there were a couple of fist fights..."

"I suppose I did get my Debutante Ball, though," Miranda continued with a smile, "when I held my first annual Runway charity ball."

"I'm glad you get to come to my Debutante Ball." Jane gave Miranda's hand a gentle squeeze and then pulled another box of invitations onto the table.

"For heaven's sake! How many people are you inviting?" Miranda demanded.

"You always invite triple the amount of people you actually expect to show up." Jane shrugged.

"You mean when you throw a party, not only do you not have crashers but all the people on the guest list don't even come?" Miranda furrowed her brow in confusion.

Jane laughed, "my dear, you have such a skewed view of the world. And I wouldn't have it any other way." Jane kissed Miranda's hand, "so are you going to help me seal and stamp or what?"

"I'm opting for the 'or what,'" Miranda announced, getting up from the table. "At least until I drink some water. You're running me dry."

**

The weather was a beautiful 89 degrees on the day of Jane's party. Jane grabbed a glass of wine from a tray as a waiter passed by. "Hey Sally," Jane hugged her, "I'm so glad you could make it."

"Like I was going to miss your party." Sally nudged her, "and pass up this wonderful opportunity to meet the woman who makes more money than Jake."

"Oh god," Jane laughed, "how do you even know that?"

"Well, apart from googling her Jake called Ted and blubbed to him about the whole thing when the kids told him how serious it was." Sally sipped her wine. "So, it is serious? I just ask because I saw how many times she's been divorced and I don't want to see you get hurt again."

"Believe me, I had the same reservations that you did. I jumped to the conclusion that it was because of her which it seems is fallacious." Jane shrugged, "I've never specifically asked her why she got divorced but from everything I've heard it was mostly about working long hours and immasculating her husbands by making money. I'm not threatened and she's retired."

"Well I'm happy for you, Jane."

Jake and Ted joined the women. Jake held two wine glasses. "Oh... I see you already have one..."

"I do." Jane nodded, sipping her drink.

"I just wanted to say thank you for inviting me despite the childish way I've been acting." Jake scuffed his foot, "and Ted did not put me up to saying that."

"Some lawyer you are!" Ted objected with a laugh, "I tell him not to tell you and he all but admits it."

"Your heart was in the right place." Sally chuckled and kissed Ted on the cheek.

"Hey Janie, I think my heart was in the right place too." Jake tapped his cheek.

"Take it up with Sally, she's the one awarding 'heart-in-right-place' kisses." Jane motioned to Sally. Sally laughed and leaned in and kissed Jake's cheek. "All fair?"

Jake scoffed, "no offense to Sally -- Ted, you've got a hot wife -- but I was looking for a kiss from mine."

"Then maybe you should get married." Jane suggested with a mischievous grin.

"You hear this? Six months with the Dragon Lady and you hear how she's talking to me?" Jake gestured to Jane.

Jane pushed his hand down, "first of all, it's eight months. Second of all, her name is Miranda. Third of all, I've always talked to you like that you just never listened to me." Jane poked him in the chest with a well-manicured finger but Jake's eyes were elsewhere.

Jane turned to see Miranda exiting the house. Miranda turned for a moment to close the door and she turned. Her pale skin contrasting beautifully with the crimson Prada bikini and the brown and pink batik sarong wrapped around her shapely hips made her the center of attention as she crossed the lawn.

Miranda had bought an arsenal of gym equipment to while away the winter months and use it as an excuse to consume baked goods daily. At first Jane thought that Miranda was being obsessive and superficial but as she watched the tight skin move over Miranda's abdominal muscles she wasn't complaining.

Miranda stepped up to the group and wrapped an arm around Jane. Jane grinned and leaned in for a kiss. "Sweetie, where are the extra towels?"

"Oh shoot, I moved them." Jane furrowed her brow, "I put them... you know what? Check under the dining room table."

"Alright, I'm not going to ask." Miranda patted Jane on the back. "I'll be right back."

Sally, Ted and Jake craned to watch Miranda walk back toward the house. Sally turned back to Jane, "aren't we supposed to hate women our age who look that good?"

"Only if you're not tapping that. What?" She held up her hand for a high five and Ted high fived her.

"Well played, Ms. Adler."

"'Tapping that?'" Jake repeated with incredulity.

"What? I watch teen dramas with the girls. Some of it... seeps in." Jane sipped her drink embarrassedly.
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