Title: On a Train

Fandom: TDWP

Pairing: Miranda and Andy

Rating: NSFW/Mature/NC17

Summary: Miranda and Andy meet on a train a few years after Paris and work out some issues.

Words: 12000 +

Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction,‭ ‬which pretty well guarantees that‭ “‬ownership,‭” ‬of the characters belongs to others ‬(Lauren Weisberger and‭ ‬20th Century Fox) ‬and that this work is entirely based on affection.‭ ‬This is not-for-profit,‭ ‬but for praise or at least enjoyment.

Beta Readers: Thank yous go to - Melanacious, LadyDragonstorm and Bonnie - my extraordinary friends.

Email: bearblue1@yahoo.com

Website: http://www.bearblue.com/library/index.htm

A/N - This is a one shot, “get ‘em together,” short story.

A/N - It ends well, has angst that comes from living life.

A/N - This fiction likely draws from several TDWP sources for inspiration - it mostly follows movie canon as a starting point, however.

LJ Tags: all: fiction, user: bearblue, rating: m, pairing: andy/miranda, status: completed, genre: romance,

==^==

==^==

TDWP: On a Train pt. 1

Next

==^==

Andy sat on the left aisle, by the window, allowing herself to settle in to the familiar comfort and rhythm of the train. The majority of her belongings were in a battered green pack, which was almost as scruffy as herself, though she did have some other items sequestered about her person. She secured her pack by pushing her leg through one of the arm loops, the use of several mysterious techniques and by making sure it was as tucked against a wall as she could manage. She rarely slept on the overnight trips, except when she managed to score a berth with a door she could lock. It wasn’t that she was paranoid. It was that she traveled alone.

Mostly.

Thank goodness for wireless Internet. She found much of her entertainment online; ebooks, games and other things. She always made sure to download at least one new book before a longer trip and she bought at least one paperback; just in case. When she finished, she usually left the paperback books somewhere to be discovered. That way she did not have to carry them around.

Over the course of her travels she’d befriended many people. Friendliness always remained one of her charms, and her social skills had been honed to a fine art as she had come into her own. She enjoyed many companions, some more short-term than others, but all usually interesting, through her journeys. However, she enjoyed the private, more quiet, activities of her life just as much.

After an incident with at the Mirror, one involving the use of epithets and fisticuffs and bruised egos, Andy had found herself with a lot of time on her hands and choices to make. One of those choices had been to go back to Paris, because she’d always felt a little unfinished afterwards; as if a piece of herself had gone missing. It wasn’t exactly restored upon arrival, but she enjoyed her time there. After visiting the city of love, she’d wandered France, writing as she felt like it. She would send the better ones along for publishing, usually under an adopted pen name, which she’d taken up for her journey. Her checks, some substantial, were sent to an accountant, who banked and built her fiances. She drew a stipend for herself, only occasionally splurging and going over the budget she had set.

Mostly, as she traveled, she simply just enjoyed the scenery and the experience. She’d discovered many hidden treasures and a few well known ones. The sense of something incomplete never quite left her, but there came a point when she was ready to move on and she headed south for awhile, toward warmer, sunnier climates. She gained an all over tan that carameled her skin a few shades and lightened her hair with hints of russet while visiting beaches. Then, satisfied with the sun and fun, she went other places, wherever she felt like.

As promised by her high school teacher, Spanish was a handy language. Her linguistic skills grew and flourished as she traveled in all directions, over several continents. She became a very competent polyglot and gained a mysterious, but fluid accent, one that made her sound foreign to American ears, but also “not quite from here,” to other ears. Most often, strangers would think she was either from a different section of the country she might be in or simply from a neighboring town.

Because everyone took holidays, she learned to pass as traveling native, finding a kind of secret delight in helping flustered tourists along the way; if she happened to know an area well enough. Or joining in the discreet eye-rolls if they were too obnoxious.

Andy heard, rather than saw, the latest tourist drama, which was happening somewhere behind her. She tried to focus on her book, but the rising tones of clipped desperation and bad application of the local tongue interrupted her. Finally there was a cry of, “Does anyone here know English! All we need is hot coffee! Surely there is some, somewhere on this train.”

The brunette, lanky, but long since past any coltishness, tried to ignore the rumble of incipient helpfulness which was rising and threatening to also disturb her concentration. A porter, she knew, probably could handle the situation. They usually spoke enough English or other languages, to compensate for any lack on their passengers part.

An attractive woman passed her, dressed in fashionable business attire and muttering to herself. “Maybe I could just jump off the train. Sure it’s moving, but my boss is going to kill me anyway.”

Andy’s lips twitched in amused sympathy. She folded her book closed. She sat up slightly, looking back and then forward, trying to find someone else who might be helpful.

No.

It was up to her then, to rescue fair damsel from demise.

Part of her consideration was a little predatory. The woman had come from a part of the train where the berths were located. Andy was not entirely above using her abilities if it meant stepping up a rank in the travel hierarchy.

She stood and spoke slowly, as if she needed to remember the words. “Perhaps I might be of assistance.”

The woman whirled, and looked back at Andy, a cloud of desperation in her eyes. “Oh thank god!”

==^==

They two stood before one of the train’s dining car, serving bars. The man kept sending Andy an are you serious look. The writer chose to play the whole thing straight, interpreting as exactly as she could the basically simple, but obviously pressing requests of the assistant.

“Tell him, it has to be hot. I mean hot hot. Like blister the tongue hot.”

Andy told him. He tried again, “We have a policy that is in place to safeguard the passengers. This is a train. Spilled coffee is very dangerous.” He said this in perfect English, without raising his voice, though this was the third time he’d said it.

The assistant grew more agitated. “You don’t understand. My boss has very specific desires. I’m not even sure she has any taste-buds left, but she insists on hot. On very, very...”

“Center of the sun hot?” Andy quipped, remembering her own demanding boss from a couple of years ago.

The assistant’s hands emphasized her expression of, at last someone understands. “Yes!”

Andy deliberately placed her hand at the woman’s back, testing her receptivity to touch. She wasn’t shrugged away. In fact, the woman leaned against her hand. Interesting. Her inner prowler smiled hungrily; perhaps a berth and more. “Perhaps you will let me see to this. You might go sit there?” She indicated a seat at one of the empty tables.

“I don’t know...” The woman looked longingly in the direction. She had obviously had a long day.

“It will be but a moment and your need will be met.” Andy’s sultry tone provoked a blush, but the assistant finally nodded and then, somewhat reluctantly, paced away and sat down.

Andy turned to the man, smiled and then said in his language, “Here is what you need to do.” By the time she was done describing exact temperature, other details and chatting a bit, she had a friend. In short order she had a capped cup, large, with a variety of packets to flavor the coffee, however it might be needed for the assistant’s purposes, all packed into a neat little tray. She paid for the effort, making sure to leave a tip, and then walked to the assistant.  

“I will carry. You lead the way.” The assistant looked the pack in Andy’s other hand. The brunette said, sternly, “Don’t argue. The coffee will chill.”

“Grow cold.”

“Yes. Exactly.”

The assistant said, “Oh!” Then she stood and began rapidly moving, back to the part of the train where she’d come from. Andy enjoyed the view, walking at a more sensible pace. After all, the coffee was hot; as was the assistant.

==^==

They went down the line, passed through several other cars, and even passed some berths, until they arrived at the classier accommodations. Even then, they continued on, wandering though another dining car, where Andy was sure the woman should have been able to get coffee, and past another set of overnight spaces. They arrived at a door marking yet another space between cars and the woman stopped abruptly and turned.

“Okay. I think you probably better give me that. It’s...” she paused and gave Andy a sheepish half-smile. “Safer.”

The brunette couldn’t resist. She leaned in a little, smiling toothily. “Are you sure about that?”

The other woman’s eyes widened as her blush deepened, but her smile lengthened. She grasped the handle of the coffee carrier, letting her fingers brush with Andy’s.

The door swished open. A male voice, slightly frantic, said, “There you are! What’s taking so long. I finally convinced her to take five...” The words drifted off and the tone shifted. “... six ... away...”

“Nigel!” the assistant exclaimed, as if she’d been caught doing something. She stammered, “I got the coffee.” Then, as if experiencing a moment brilliance, she paused and gripped Andy at the shoulder and shoved her around so he could see more clearly. “And an interpreter. Her English is very good.”

“An... interpreter.”

“Yes. She saved me with...” The assistant lifted the coffee carrier as evidence.

“I see.” The editor stepped back a little, peered at the woman in question and then at the assistant. He folded his arms over his chest and then flicked a hand back at the other door in a directional motion. “Take the coffee in before our esteemed editor starts lopping off heads. It’s getting dire in there.”

The assistant abruptly let go of Andy and scurried past Nigel, who was pressing an index finger against his lips as his eyes raked up and down the curvy brunette, who was starting to back away at the same time. He noted that while the clothes were faded and scuffed, they were also classic and there was a definite sense of style; a traveler chic of sorts. “Still a four, I see.”

He snagged her by a sleeve, before she could escape, and began to tug her forward. “Nope. No running away, Six. You’re found. And trust me, people have been looking. That said, if I must suffer, so must you. I know you don’t work for us any more. But this isn’t about work.  This is about need and survival.” He led her by the cuff towards the door that the assistant had just gone through, even as he was answering every possible stymieing response she might pose. Then he dropped his ace. “Six, if you really can interpret, and as you value our friendship, help me out here. We’re desperate.”

They stopped, just inside the compartment. Nigel pointed, directing Andy’s attention. “I will keep Miranda busy, since we both know what we know. But you have to do something about him. He barely speaks English, won’t follow directions and is behaving like a prima-dona. Which is fine, because he has a beautiful face and perfect body and he was hired for a reason. But you see them. Those porters are all volunteers, and were only supposed to be here for twenty minutes. You’ve been wondering where they all were, right? We’ll they were supposed to be a part of one scene. One. Which hasn’t been shot right yet, because of him. Plus, they seem to speak about as much English as he does.”

The brunette looked at Nigel as if he were out of his mind. The artist’s hand wrapped around Andy’s arm gently. “Help us Obi Wan Six. You’re our only hope.”

Andy cast a quick glance around, and didn’t spot her ex-employer.

“She’s in the back for the moment, cooling off, so to speak. Won’t see you, if you hurry.” Then Nigel thought a moment. “If you think you can do this?”

Andy took a deep, calming breath and straightened. “What do you need me to explain?”

Nigel’s brows arched at the silky accent. “Wow. That accent. No wonder Theresa was blushing.”

“No.” Andy’s smile was just as sensuous. “That was something else.”

Nigel tugged his collar and grinned. “Right. Well, use that power for good and save the shoot, Six, and I’ll buy you dinner.” He reached for her pack. “Let me take that...” And found he couldn’t pull it from her grasp. “Andy?”

She held the strap tightly, saw his puzzlement. “It has my worldly goods, Nigel.”

He blinked, then he said, “I promise to guard it with my life. Or someone else’s. You’ll get it back. Intact.”

Andy offered a half chuckle, then in an act of trust that she would rarely give to anyone else, she let the pack go into his hands. “Now. What do you want me to tell his majesty?”

Nigel expected the pack to be heavier, but his expression had lightened too much for his sudden worry about the austerity to show. “First let me explain the vision and the scene. Then see what you can do with it.”

==^==

Miranda returned to find Nigel worrying at his thumbnail, standing with an object of some questionable origins at his feet, between his legs. She approached him, coffee cup in hand, without looking in the direction he was. She wasn’t quite ready to face the travesty and, truthfully, was heartbeats away from striking the whole idea down and starting fresh. “Progress?”

He leaned over, and pivoted at the waist slightly so he was facing more toward his friend. “Some. We’re trying an interpreter.”

“Novel. Whose idea?”

“Well, Theresa found the woman while trying to get the coffee and, I guess, brought her along, after. I saw an opportunity and asked the interpreter to try. I figured, what’s the harm. It can’t go any worse.”

Miranda’s lips twitched into an amused smirk. “This is why I keep you around Nigel. That and our long standing friendship.” One which they had worked very hard to restore after certain events. It had been worth it. She started to turn around to look, but then the artist turned more completely, dragging the pack around with him. She looked down at his feet and took a sip of her coffee, feeling much soothed by the familiar heat. “What is that?”

“Oh. That’s the interpreter’s pack. I promised I’d watch it for her while...”

“But aren’t you supposed to be over there?” Miranda pointed in the direction of the photographer.

“Eventually,” Nigel admitted, loathe to move.

“Give it here.”

“What?”

Miranda nodded at the pack. “I will watch it or have Theresa do it.”


“Oh. Right. Uhm. The thing is I promised...” he said as he bent down and lifted the bag.

“Yes?”

“... to make sure it gets back to her. It has... everything...” Nigel cast a glance towards the set. His eyes widened as he saw Andy, who up to that point had been talking in animated, but mostly quiet, amiability with the porters, march toward the model who had been causing the problems. The model, a handsome dark haired young man was chatting with one of the female models and was unaware of Andy’s presence. Right up until the back of his head was slapped. Nigel, bag in hand forgot he was supposed to be keeping Miranda’s attention.

What followed was a breathtaking, attention grabbing, multilingual tirade, which involved finger shaking, finger pointing, the grabbing of an ear and steering by it, until the model was positioned at the mark. The model grew more and more sheepish as the harangue closed in on a finish. Then Andy started in on the other models, clapping her hands together and practically stampeding them all where they were supposed to go, with a few declarations in her accented English similar to, “I’ve seen more passion on cows’ faces!” Somehow she made even that sound sexy.

Meanwhile, the epithets hung onto the comments were in a variety of languages. By the time she was done, people who had been lounging were suddenly in a flurry of activity. She stepped back and flung one more finger point and declarative at the suddenly attentive and ready to work male model. Then she waved the porters over. They, with smiles and grins, joined the scene.

The bag was liberated from his hand. He started to look at Miranda, but was stopped by a gentle push. “Don’t lose the moment. She has them where we want them. Go. Go quickly Nigel!”

He didn’t need to be told twice and, with a sudden vision, grabbed Andy on the way, taking her in the opposite direction from the editor. “How did you do that? Wait. I’m not sure I want to know.” He said as he dragged the brunette along until they were behind the photographer’s station. “What I meant to say,” he said as pushed her forward a little, “...was, brilliant job! Now, stick around and if you don’t mind, interpret for us some more?”

Andy said, “Well, my stop isn’t until later....” and her thought was, and I was going to be up anyway... “And I know his Mama. Actually, I know most of his family and him too. I met them while they were on holiday and they practically adopted me. He’s a horndog, but a good boy. When he’s behaving. I told him I’d tell his mama he was fooling around at work. He shouldn’t give you any more trouble.”

Nigel grinned at her. “You’ll have to tell me about that holiday sometime.” Then more seriously, he leaned over, “Don’t look. Miranda knows you’re here. Couldn’t quite avoid it, given the...” He waved at models.

“It’s okay, Nigel. I figured it might be inevitable. My pack?”

“She said she’d take care of it or make Theresa do it.”

“Nige...”

“You know it’s safe.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about. At least, not now.”

“I’ll make sure you get a stipend for helping us out. Don’t worry,” he patted her shoulder. “It’ll all work out.”

==^==

Andy felt the hairs on her neck stand up and knew, without looking, that Miranda was approaching. The shoot had been going much more smoothly, at least, according to Nigel, and the writer had done her part to help things along by passing on the instructions. The porters had long since been freed from their impromptu performance, so they could go work where they were supposed to. Now it was all on the photographer, the models and their editors and they were mostly done,and the session was drawing to a close. Miranda had intervened only a few times, sending Theresa as her go-between for message delivery.

The writer had decided, once she realized she was committed to this life event, to own and enjoy it. After all, as Nigel so wisely observed, she was not actually under the heel of employment. She was there merely as a friend. Thus she acted as one, chatting with Nigel some, flirting with the models and the photographer and Miranda’s assistant; while at the same time providing the help that Nigel had so desperately needed.

She was very careful, however, not to break the bubble of imaginary space; the one she visualized as a protective barrier between herself and the editor-in-chief. If Miranda wanted her presence, Andy knew she would be summoned. As she had not been... well, it hurt a little, but Andy did not let it show; not for a moment or a second.

She smiled through the shoot, as if it were her element. After all, she had learned to make any situation hers. Anyone observing might have thought she was one of the people in charge, except for maybe the clothes. And even then...

A familiar scent, one that had filled her dreams for the longest time, floated from behind her and she felt a warmth at her back, not quite touching. Not that there had to be touching. The skin on Andy’s body lifted with heated and sudden awareness, bringing with it a jolting understanding that she was not, nor had she ever been, over Miranda.

==^==

“I believe this is yours.” The cadence was neutral, the words spoken in that soft tone that Andy had known so well. What caused the brunette to shiver was how close the sound was to her ear. Close enough that....

She turned around, not too fast, and the air whispered between them. She looked into eyes the color of a sparkling blue sky after rain. She was peripherally aware of the whole; perfect skin, a cloud of white hair, with a signature s-lock, lips that looked soft and close enough to kiss. And memories; of decisions made and no take backs. In this one case, she wished she could. “Miranda,” she husked and the name was flavored like coffee, rich and deep, and exotic. The older woman’s pupils dilated in immediate reaction, but her expression remained one of distant interest.

“So glad you remember me. Andrea.”

If it had been a few years sooner, Andy would have come undone by those simple words, but not all her travels had been holidays. She had seen things that had tempered her, steeled her in ways that still had her waking now and then in a cold sweat. She had seen worse, experienced worse, than Miranda. She had the scars to prove it.

Andy reached for her pack, with both hands. She liberated with one, then, before Miranda could escape, grasped the editor’s hand with the other, for just long enough. “How could I forget?” Then speaking with warm, gentle fluidity, in a language that allowed her to say exactly how she felt without too much fear of being understood by anyone else in the car, she exclaimed Miranda’s memorability and beauty. She squeezed the older woman’s hand in hers, tempted beyond all reasonableness to kiss the knuckles, but she tramped down on that impulse. They had never been intimate and it wasn’t a liberty she felt free to take. Theirs had been a professional relationship, though towards the end, there had been a shimmer of nascent possibility, which had been squashed by events in Paris. But there was a social nicety that she could enact, one fitting to her well-traveled self. She kissed Miranda’s cheek, one side and then the other, letting her lips touch in brief hallelujah. Andy withdrew and concluded her soft praise in English. “It’s good to see you.”

She waited for the viper’s sting and fully expected it and in some ways willed it, given that their parting had been so abrupt, so cold on her part. Time had given her the understanding that her younger years had not had. Even with the back-handed compliment of Miranda’s referral, Andy had known that was a one-time niceness. Yet, she still hadn’t let go of the other woman’s cooler hand. It warmed in hers.

Miranda went very still, and Andy had to suppress yet another expression of surprise, as she felt her fingers gripped and held and then let go.  “And you,” the editor said. She looked as if she might say more than, her expression changed, as if she were waiting to see what the younger woman might do next.

Andy felt an odd loosening in her chest, which threatened her composure. She stepped back and lifted her pack, knew by its weight that it had been untouched. Even then, she realized that there were elements of trust that she held for Miranda. That surprised her a little, on first thought, then not at all upon the second. “Thank you for guarding this for me.” Before Miranda could reply, she turned.  “Nigel?” The artist, who had been discussing content on a digital camera with the photographer, turned to see Andy and Miranda standing not so far from one another. His eyebrows rose and before he could say anything, which might ruin the moment, Andy asked, “Do you need me for anything else?”

Naturally he looked toward Miranda, which caused Andy to also look. The editor glanced around at the staff who were breaking down the set and the models who were finding their own clothes to wear. Miranda waved negligently. “I think we’re done here.”

“Okay,” Andy said easily, and she lifted her pack and looped it over a shoulder. She turned toward the door that would take her back to her section and started to walk.  

==^==

Andy found an empty seat, and felt lucky that it was by a window, again. It meant she could watch the sunset. She was not jaded about the beautiful things in life, and watching the sun drop as the scenery passed by could be a very soul filling experience.

At the moment, she needed her soul filled, as a fresh emptiness threatened.

Not that she could fault the outcomes. Things had gone much better than she had any right to expect. Habit had her check her pack once she was seated, and true to form, all that was hers was there and nothing that was not hers was there. Which was as it should be and she expected no less of Miranda; who had not shrived her in front of her minions, nor delivered a killing glance or verbal knife in the gut. In fact, she had been, for her, extremely generous.

Fixing things to her liking, but not ready to take up the book again, Andy turned towards the window, plunked her elbow on the armrest and her chin in her hand and watched part of the world go by at excessive speeds.

Time passed by and the colors of the sky turned royal, peaches to purples and then finally a deep, spacious dark blue.

She heard the snick of doors to the back, did not turn to look.

“Is the window very interesting?”

Andy went very still and then, turned and gazed up at the person standing in the aisle. The light in the car shone from the back, creating a halo effect over a perfect form. Andy’s tongue felt a little thick, but she managed an answer, “Sunset.”

Miranda cocked her head. “I was told by my assistant you would be here.” The editor glanced around the compartment, taking it all in in a few seconds. “May I sit?”

Andy sat up and scooted over some, though really there was plenty of room. “Please.”

As always, Miranda was the picture of perfect elegance and slid into the seat with beautiful aplomb. She sat back, crossed her ankles and then turned toward Andy.

The younger woman adjusted her position, so she could face the other woman. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but she imagined that Miranda had something to say.

The editor offered no words to start, instead she looked at Andy; really looked at her, letting her gaze wander from head to foot in a long, slow assessing perusal. Her expression was stern, but not cold.

It wasn’t seduction. It wasn’t tease.

It wasn’t judgement.

Andy felt herself holding still, as if she were a model and Miranda were a painter.

She caught her breath when Miranda leaned forward, extending a hand, and then, with deft fingers from years of practice in dressing and undressing models, undid the top buttons of Andy’s shirt. Brown eyes, ambered by the light, widened. Especially when she felt the very lightest brush of fingertips against her skin, following usually hidden tracks and grooves.

Andy wanted to draw away then, felt the careful armor of international confidence dissolving faster than candy in acid. But she could not.

Miranda said, her voice even quieter than usual, “I had an interesting conversation with Tony. He wanted to apologize after you left and to tell me a few things. Rather brave of him, considering.” Alarm bells rang through Andy’s mind and she felt her ears turning a dangerous red. The editor’s fingertips trailed up and over her shoulder, just under the collar of the younger woman’s shirt, following one long upraised line as if it were a road, put there just for her. “He said that his mother is a doctor, which was of note, but not the part that caught my attention.” Fingertips trailed up then, following the line up the back of Andy’s neck. The brunette forced herself not to pant, not to panic. “He said they met this girl, one summer, after a bomb went off at a hotel during a wedding celebration. That this young woman had saved lives, but had suffered.” Delicate fingers slid against the back of Andy’s head, slid along still sensitive scar tissue under the hairline. “His mother had the girl stay with them at their home, to recover.” Miranda’s hand then drifted down, over Andy’s shoulder, above the cloth, until her hand found the young woman’s. She let her hand rest there, not quite holding, but managing to keep Andy in place by the lightest weight possible. “He said, he was embarrassed that you had caught him behaving badly, that you were his hero...”

Because the other woman’s hand was finally still, and because she had become stronger willed, Andy finally found her tongue again. “Miranda,” she began.

“Not finished.”

Andy blinked.

“It seems that, despite some effort on my part, this particular girl, pops into conversation around my person. For instance, her mother called my office...” Andy’s eyes widened “... after apparently receiving little help from the editors at the Mirror...” The brunette shifted, but Miranda clasped her hand now, “... because of a tiny grudge.” Miranda clucked. “Delivering a broken nose while defending someone’s honor. Then disappearing God knows where, after.  Andrea, so cliche.”

“I...”

“Not. Finished.”

“The conversation between your mother and I was quite illuminating. She said you did manage to call now and then, but that it had been some time since she last actually saw you. I wasn’t quite sure what she thought I could do about it, except that she seemed convinced... convinced, Andrea, that you had, despite volumes of complaints and outright whining, feelings for me. She said, it wasn’t the amount of bitching you did, which apparently was a lot,” there was another click of the tongue and the sparest hint of amusement. She continued, “Your mother said that was her first clue, but it was the amount of praise and defense, which then heaped upon her, when she dared to commiserate, which led her to arrive at a conclusion.” Miranda leaned close, as if sharing a secret. “She said, ‘a mother knows these things.’ I’ve found that to be somewhat true with Caroline and Cassidy. So, I therefore had to take this into consideration. After all, your mother thinks that one of the reasons you haven’t been back home, is because you’ve been avoiding me.”

Andy was beginning to feel a bit like a rabbit being chased to a trap.

“I would have thought that ridiculous, except, as I recall, I saw you on an annoyingly regular basis after your dismissal from Runway and then, for some odd reason, I didn’t.”

“Dismissal!”

“Not. Finished. Andrea. If you don’t mind?”

“Actually...”

“Good, then I shall continue.” Miranda said firmly. “Regardless of shared motherly instincts...”

“Motherly!”

“Andrea.”

The brunette used her other hand, waving it as if to move the conversation forward, which Miranda chose to take in the spirit offered. She continued, “I realized that there simply was no way I could justify dropping everything to go haring off on a random search.” Andy blinked, trying to decide whether she needed to be hurt or not. “It helps, however, to have friends, even if they are mostly acquaintances. This is why it is important to network.” Miranda sat back, relaxing some. Though her hand still captured Andy’s. “It seems, Andrea, that your friend Doug is very loyal; a trait to be admired. He thinks the world of you. And, he is a talented accountant. I’ve been quite pleased with his services. It seems that you keep a little better contact with him, than with your mother, whom I must insist you call sometime this week.”

“Oh. My. God.”

Miranda, apparently, did not count that as an interruption. “I am not entirely Machiavellian. First, I did not expect you to actually be on this train. The shoot was something planned some time ago. You do know how our magazine operates, so you know this to be true. Nor did I expect our star model to be an acquaintance of yours, though, that does emphasize my previous point and you may be sure if I had discovered it at another time, I would have used the knowledge. I am a woman who usually gets what I want. My plans took into account the possibility that you might change your mind about directions. Theresa has worked hard to keep my appointments as flexible as possible. Though I do have a few solid bookings that I must attend. Irv found out about this little trip and wants me to play ambassador, you see. I hope you don’t mind a diversion.” Miranda’s attention returned to Andy and the younger woman was caught in a steely azure gaze. “When was the last time you ate?”

Andy blinked and experienced a mental pause at the shift in the dialog.

“Nevermind. If you have to think that much, it’s been too long.”

“I’m not interested in motherly...” It was not a nonsequitor. Merely non-sequential.

“My intentions, Andrea....” Miranda moved forward, very close, “... are far from it.”

“Oh,” Andy whispered. Their lips were mere centimeters apart, not even really a need to lean much on her part. It was like falling.

And lightening striking.

==^==

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