DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Endless thanks to Xander, as usual, who serves as effervescent cheerleader and beta, and always makes writing in a vacuum easier. And more thanks to our awesome community of writers, for keeping the dream alive.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
As the cab approached the Mirror, Andy whimpered softly to herself. A crowd was standing at the curb, waiting for her. "Here goes nothing," she said, and handed the fifty to the driver. "You saved my life. Thanks."
"I can run some of them over for you," he joked, rummaging for change.
"No, but thanks. Keep it," she said, and shoved the door open.
Flashes went off in her face, so she smiled brightly. If she was going to end up in every paper the following day, she would at least try to look good. Miranda would keep her head up, Andy thought. She'd walk straight into the building and not look at a single one of them. So Andy did that as best she could, though it was difficult with them pawing at her. They really had no sense of personal space.
She pushed through the front door and luckily, building security stepped forward to hold the throng back. "Out," he said firmly, as Andy rushed in.
"Thanks, Caesar," she called out, not turning around.
When she walked into the newsroom, every head swiveled to look at her. She stopped, and lifted her hand in a jaunty wave. "It's true," she called out. "And no, I'm not talking about it." With that, she strolled to her desk, catching Mark's eye. "Hey."
"You sure know how to make an entrance," he said. "Miranda Priestly? I didn't even know you were gay."
"Yeah, well, I wasn't till I was. We figured this was going to happen. I'm surprised it took this long."
"That's pretty hot, Sachs."
"Oh, shut up. And ps, that's off the record."
Dixon poked his head out of his office. "Sachs," he said, motioning for her to come in.
"You can have my headphones if I'm fired," she said.
"Fuck that," Mark replied. "He's probably going to kneel at your feet. Our circulation is about to double."
Once in Dixon's office, she flopped into a chair. "Hi."
"That's some big stuff, Andy. You doing okay?"
God, she loved her boss. "Depends on your definition of okay. I feel fine at the moment, but in about six hours I am going to completely freak out."
"I'm sure. I just wanted to let you know a few things, maybe take some of the pressure off. One: your job is safe. Two: this newsroom is safe. You are off the record until you decide not to be, if that ever happens. Three: if you need time, take it. You've got more than a week of PTO stored up. I checked this morning."
Andy sighed. "I was hoping to go away with Miranda over the summer, if you want the truth. And I think I'd rather be here. Working. If I can, that is. Might be kind of hard to conduct interviews if I've got a bunch of cameras shoved in my face."
"You can do some editorial for a few days, see how it goes. We'd already talked about you taking on more of the website; now might be the perfect trial run, if you're ready."
Andy emitted a sigh of relief. She loved reporting, and she loved connecting with the people, but just this once, she decided to give herself a break. "I'm ready."
"Good. You're set with software and passwords, right?"
"Talk to Scotty, and he'll sit down with you and Jason about transferring the programming stuff to you. Jason will be your back up for the week, and this takes a huge load off his plate, so don't hesitate to bug him incessantly for help. Okay?"
"Yeah." As she listened to Dixon explain how he was going to make her life a hundred times easier, she found her emotions getting out of hand. "Listen, Dix, I can't tell you--"
"I'm not doing you a favor, Sachs. I need a homepage editor who knows what the hell is going on, and you can do the job in your sleep. But don't think you're off the hook for reporting; in a few weeks, or however long this takes to blow over, you're going to have two jobs, more or less." He sat back. "Not that I can double your salary, but I scraped up a little bump for you."
"It's only six percent, but it's a start."
"That's much more than I expected. Thank you. Really."
"Hell, Sachs, if I don't see a spike in our numbers this week, I'll eat my hat. You might have helped out the paper a lot more than you know."
Andy smiled. "If anything good comes out of this, I'll be thrilled."
Dixon nodded. "I figured." He watched her over steepled fingers. "You and Miranda, huh. I'll say one thing for you: you've got guts."
Andy didn't see it that way. She wasn't brave at all. Living without Miranda that would be the real challenge.
The day passed quickly for Miranda; her full schedule became double booked instantly. The meeting with Jacob and his two partners had been short, but fruitful: Diane's chatty second assistant had been sacked, and the PR firm would be served with papers for breach of contract in two days' time. Emily could hardly look at Miranda, who swore she would only deal with her assistant's sniveling for one more day. Why the girl was so upset was beyond her. But she was too busy to truly be cruel, and Andrea seemed to like Emily. Miranda would, just this once, be kind to her.
Andrea would approve of her behavior, of course, and Miranda would reap the reward.
Her late-afternoon phone call with Irv had been short.
"What the hell are you doing, Miranda?"
"I don't believe that's any of your business."
"You're fucking your Girl Friday. You made it my business."
"Not to question your recall, Irv, but Andrea left my employ 18 months ago."
"Who the fuck cares? She's just a kid. This is going to cause serious damage to the magazine's reputation."
Miranda had closed her eyes and played her ace. "If either our circulation or ad revenue drops more than one and a half percent over the next four months, I guarantee that I will resign before the board meeting in July."
Irv had gone silent.
"But if the needle moves even a tenth of a percent north across that same four months, I'll expect an apology and a new contract in hand by August."
Almost a full minute had passed before Irv spoke. "Done."
Now seated in the car on her way home, Miranda sneered as she thought about it. Even Irv wasn't stupid enough to believe that the magazine's sales would drop. Any publicity was good publicity; if he wanted to tell his golf cronies that he'd told Miranda Priestly to shit or get off the pot, that was his business. But Miranda knew who was in control. In the hours since she'd spoken to her staff, an unearthly calm had settled over her. She felt no uncertainty whatsoever. Her secret had been revealed, and it wasn't about a divorce, or a public altercation, or a custody battle destined to drag on for months, if not years.
It was only that a beautiful, talented young woman loved her. She could live with that.
The girls were home with Carina now; she'd contacted Dalton early in the day and warned them about potential dangers. Fortunately they already had the situation well in hand. She felt pleased that her children attended such a progressive school. Perhaps she would join the Board of Trustees Diversity Task Force, now that she was such a visible member of the community. It might be interesting.
"Roy," Miranda said. "What time is it?"
"Almost 7:00, ma'am."
She dialed Andrea's number.
"Hey," Andrea barked after only one ring. "Everything okay?"
"Of course. I'm going home to have dinner with the girls. Would you like a ride?"
"You'll send the car?"
"I'll pick you up." Andrea did not reply for a minute. Apparently Miranda was causing speechlessness in everyone today. "Hello?" she said.
"Um, you want to pick me up at work?"
"Miranda, there are like, a million people outside waiting for me to leave, and you want to come get me. Do you want to cause a stampede?"
Miranda considered the idea. "Why not? It could be fun." She had already decided to have a word with Liz Smith on Thursday, despite her problematic fashion sense. But to have the opportunity to talk about Andrea with another human being might even be pleasurable. Jacob and Leslie would be in on the call as well, just in case. There were limits, after all.
"Miranda, are you sure about this? Because, I mean, come on. That's kind of ballsy."
"I'll be there in five minutes. You're on the seventh floor, if I recall correctly." She hung up.
"Take me to The Mirror, Roy."
Andy looked down at her phone. "Am I awake?" she asked.
"I think so," Mark answered. "What was that about?"
"Miranda's on her way to get me. She's coming here. And I think she's coming in the building."
"No. Unless I'm asleep, about to wake up from an extremely bizarre dream."
On the computer, she did a last minute once-over of an article and pushed it live, glancing at the clock from the corner of her eye. Eventually she went to the window to wait for the car. A few people joined her, because a break in the mundane was always welcome. Soon, she watched the black car slow to a stop at the curb, and Roy exited and came around to open the door. Andy held her breath.
Miranda stepped out, stunning in a short dark fur. Andy tried to identify the skirt from a distance. "Valentino," she murmured.
"Huh?" Mark said.
The paparazzi surrounded Miranda, and Andy's heart leapt to her throat. What if they hurt her? She looked so small amongst them all, and Andy pressed a hand to the glass.
But Miranda moved as if through water, never breaking stride, hair waving gently in the evening breeze. Andy was amazed. They had not even slowed her down.
"That was weird," Christine said, standing next to her. "It was like she didn't even see them."
"Yeah," Andy agreed. It was weird. But it was so Miranda.
Moments later, Miranda glided into the office in a cloud of perfume. Andy felt shy, and blushed as her co-workers scattered. Miranda made a beeline toward her. "Andrea. Are you ready to go?"
"Yeah," she said, as Miranda leaned close. For a moment, Andy felt weak when Miranda's lips brushed her cheek. "Hi," she said, breathless.
Miranda's mouth formed a tiny smile. "Hello. How was your day?"
"Freaky. But good. I got a promotion. Sort of." She lowered her voice. "And a little raise."
Miranda nodded in approval. "I'm impressed. I'd like to meet this Dixon you're always talking about."
Andy stiffened. She trusted Miranda, but was ambivalent. "Okay?" she said.
She walked to Dixon's office with Miranda following close behind. She knocked on the open door. "Got a sec?"
"Of course," he said before looking up. But when he did, he stood from his chair, clearly star struck. Andy understood. Miranda always had that effect on people. "Ms. Priestly. What a surprise."
Miranda stepped around Andy and held out a hand to shake Dixon's. "It's a pleasure, Mr. Dixon. I just wanted to say how happy I am that Andrea has found a place here, working for a man with such integrity."
Andy almost laughed when Dixon's chest seemed to swell with pride. "Thank you, Ms. Priestly. Andy's a huge asset to the paper. We're lucky to have her."
"That you are," she said. "She deserves only the best."
"I do what I can," Dixon replied.
"She's often spoken of your generosity and guidance. She has found a true mentor in you."
Andy was embarrassed, but she could tell Dixon was pleased. "I appreciate that very much."
"I'm, uh, heading out, Dix. I'll be in early tomorrow."
"Okay. Good job today. Keep your chin up."
She nodded, and nudged Miranda. "Good night, Mr. Dixon," Miranda said. "I'm sure we'll speak again."
"Have a nice evening," he replied. When Miranda turned away, Dixon waggled his eyebrows and gave the "ok" sign with his thumb and forefinger. Andy smothered a giggle.
Once near the elevator, Andy's heart started to race.
"Don't be afraid, Andrea; they can't touch us. Stay by my side. You don't have to smile, or react in any way. All right?"
Andy nodded, and swallowed thickly.
"I'm right here with you," Miranda said. They stepped into the lift, and Miranda glanced around. "This is a disgusting elevator."
"Yeah," Andy agreed when the doors shut.
"But no cameras," Miranda added, before leaning in for a remarkably thorough kiss.
When the doors opened, Andy blinked blearily and tried to wipe the ridiculous grin from her lips. Stop smiling, she thought. No smiling.
And when they left the building, Miranda steered her through the crowd with a gentle hand at the small of her back. They made it to the car with relative ease, and Andy didn't hear a word anyone shouted. All she could sense was the feeling of Miranda's fingertips, touching her openly as cameras flashed around them.
The ride home was quiet; Miranda sensed Andrea's need for peace. They would talk more soon, but at the moment she welcomed the weight of Andrea's head on her shoulder.
"We'll do exactly the same thing when we arrive," Miranda assured her. "It's almost over."
"Till tomorrow," Andrea whined.
Miranda resisted the impulse to purse her lips. "It will pass, darling, I assure you. But you must realize that you've been granted, or cursed with, a certain level of fame that will not disappear. People will recognize you, and you must decide how to handle that."
"How did you?" Andrea asked.
"I've cultivated a culture of fear, of course. Most people are terrified too terrified to approach. I prefer it."
"Huh." Gazing out the window, Andrea asked, "Think the girls are okay?"
Miranda was more worried about the paparazzi than her children.
As expected, the photographers were stationed in front of the townhouse. A low chuckle left her throat when she noticed that a few of them were looking a little the worse for wear.
"What the hell happened to them?" Andrea exclaimed.
"Looks like only water. They're lucky. Last time it was cottage cheese."
Once out of the car, it took only seconds for them to climb the stoop. But before Miranda could reach the door, it jerked open. The girls stood there, waving cheerily in their school uniforms, until Caroline (at least she thought it was Caroline) launched a water balloon over their heads. It landed on someone, Miranda knew, because she heard the splash and resulting "oof."
She pressed her lips together to prevent even the barest hint of a smile. The terrors. They were her greatest joy.
Before Miranda closed the door behind them, Cassidy poked her head out and shouted, "See you tomorrow!"
Andrea held up a hand and Caroline high-fived her. "Where were you this morning when I needed you?" Andrea asked.
"Oh, we weren't ready then. Mom, usually you warn us. What's up?"
Miranda sighed. "Let's go into the kitchen. I only want to say this once."
Carina had dinner ready, and she looked mortified. "Oh, Miranda, Andrea, I am so sorry," she said.
But Miranda waved a hand. "No matter. We just have to survive the next few days, and they'll find someone else to bother."
She gave a quick explanation of the day's events, and listened to Cassidy and Caroline's version. "We were at school, and after third period Lisa Anderson ran up to me and asked if you were a big lesbo. Cassidy wanted to punch her in the face, but I told her you were in the gay mafia so she'd better watch out or you'd have her parents 'taken care of.'"
Andrea emitted a noise that could only be described as a hoot. "Where'd you hear about the gay mafia?"
Caroline said, "Oh, I read that thing about that guy we met, Mike Ovitz. In Vanity Fair, remember?"
Miranda was filled with pride. Her children were brilliant. "Very good, Caroline. But try to avoid the word 'mafia' in the future. I don't want to get any angry phone calls if at all possible."
"I don't think they'll be bothering us, Mom. Lots of kids at Dalton have gay parents anyway," Cassidy insisted. "Besides, everyone was jealous because of the photographers. We're way more popular now than we were last week."
Popular, Miranda thought. How unfortunate. She wanted so much for things to be easy for her girls, to make a life in which they could thrive and be happy. She wished she could stay out of the papers for more than six months at a time.
"After dinner, I'll need to make some phone calls." Jeremy had left three messages with Jane that day, and she had not heard from Stephen. Or Nigel. She imagined he might be afraid to speak to her now. She was not displeased by that fact.
"Me too," Andrea said. "I turned off my phone today. I don't want to think about how many messages I have."
"Let's get started then."
Miranda settled in the study to handle her business, so Andy went to the bedroom. Between the zen décor and the fragrance in the air, a combination of flowers and Miranda and herself, it was the calmest place in the house. She powered up her phone, and dialed her voicemail.
"You have, 16, new messages," said the automated voice.
"Terrific," Andy muttered. It could have been worse.
The first call was from Doug. "Oh my god, girl, you are everywhere. And let me just say you look great. There's a shot of you on Perez that is to die for. He raved about your hair, by the way. I think he wants Miranda to give him a job. As if. Call me asap!"
On the opposite end of the spectrum, her parents were frustrated and upset. They were already anticipating hysterical calls from extended family members, but there was nothing Andy could do about that. At least she wouldn't have to come out to them all one by one.
She dialed them first, wanting to get it over with.
"Hey there," she said unsteadily when her mom picked up.
"Andy? Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," she replied, and burst into tears.
Her parents waited patiently for her cries to subside, and remarkably, they regretted their earlier message. "We were just so surprised. After this weekend, we thought we'd have time to adjust."
"I know. It all happened so fast," Andy whined. "Is everyone angry?"
"No, sweetheart," her mom said. "Confused, maybe. They'll get over it."
Andy sighed deeply. "I wish it had been different. Believe me, having cameras shoved in my face was pretty sucky."
"I bet," her dad said. "But you'll be okay. You always are. And we love you, honey. Never forget that."
The waterworks started anew. "Thanks, Dad."
She spoke to them for a few more minutes, and they laughed heartily at the twins' antics. And despite everything, they seemed the tiniest bit impressed by the way Miranda handled herself. That was all Andy needed.
Lots of the messages were from friends she hadn't spoken to for a while, each flabbergasted. Aunt Judy left a hilarious declaration of support and jealousy over being with someone as gorgeous as Miranda. But immediately after that, she heard Nate's voice.
"Hey. So, you're famous now. Nice. I guess I know why it was so easy for you to watch me leave town, huh. I called to say I called whatever. Forget it. Pretend you didn't hear this. And don't call back." The line went dead.
She deleted the message, stabbing at the phone violently.
Nigel was near the end of the list. "Well, Andy, you sure showed me. Let me know if we're still friends, okay?"
Andy had no idea what he meant. Apparently his conversation with Miranda the day before had gone even more poorly than she thought.
Once she heard the last voicemail, she called Doug.
"Lady, you are the hottest thing since LiLo hooked up with DJ what's-her-face. How are you surviving?"
"Okay, I guess. I've never had my sex life exposed to, you know, the whole world before."
"I hear you. How's Miranda? Freaking out?"
"Amazingly, no. I think she's bulletproof. How can I be more like that?"
"Well, you're not curled up in a corner, writing on the walls in crayon, are you?"
Andy thought about it. "Not yet."
"Then you're doing great. Better than I would be. Think you'll be able to ever set foot in public again, or am I destined to meet you in skanky bars in Trenton for the rest of our lives?"
"I'm not going to Trenton. Miranda would see me dead first. But maybe we can get a drink over the weekend. You think things will calm down by then?"
He laughed. "Probably not. But I'll risk it. I'll wear Diesel and try to look cool. Which won't work, but 'try' is the operative word."
Andy grinned. "You're the best, Dougie." She took a breath. "Lily didn't call today, but Nate did."
"Shit. What'd he say?"
"Not much. He was pissed."
She heard Doug take a breath. "You know, if you and Miranda started things up when you two were together, he'd have a right. But fuck that. You guys split a long time ago, and if Miranda was a part of it, it's not like you understood how you were feeling. Right?"
With a shrug, Andy replied, "Yeah. There was something. But it was all screwed up in my head. It wasn't till later that things really crystallized."
"Sorry Nate. Too bad, so sad. He doesn't get to blame Miranda for the fact that things went south between you."
"Well," Andy reasoned, "he kind of does. She did take over my life."
"But it's not like you were making out in the elevators all the time."
Andy thought back to the kiss she'd shared with Miranda today in the lift. Oh, yeah. "No. Which is kind of a drag."
"So, end of story. Do yourself a favor. Let sleeping dogs lie. You haven't talked to him since when, his birthday?"
"Yeah. And he even told me not to call back today."
"Right," Doug said. "Listen to him, Andy. He's in Boston now. He has a life. And if he didn't have a girlfriend, which he does, by the way, I'd feel sorrier for him."
Andy gritted her teeth. "He's dating someone?"
"They live together. Lily filled me in. Sorry."
Andy chuckled bitterly. "God, if I'd known that, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. Jerk."
"He's not a bad guy, Andy. But like most straight guys, he matures slower than those of us lucky enough to be born female or fag."
Andy paused for a moment before throwing herself across the bed in laughter.
Miranda's conversations did not take nearly as long as Andrea's did; she completed her list in less than fifteen minutes. She left a message with Jeremy, keeping her tone considerate, but not contrite. Following that, she spoke with a few friends whom she had seen far less of these past six months. And to her surprise, she'd heard from Alfonso, who lent a sympathetic, supportive ear. Not that Miranda felt weakened by the revelation. But she sensed an atypical vulnerability in herself, mainly because of Andrea and her girls. She worried for all of their sakes, but Alfonso reassured her.
"Your children have been through worse. And Miranda, if each picture tells a story, Andrea's picture says that she loves you. A big love, no?"
"Yes," Miranda admitted. "Very big, I think."
"So, that's good. It's enough."
When hung up after the last call, she joined the girls in the family room.
"Hey Mom," Cassidy said. She glanced at Caroline before shutting off the television and pulling Miranda to the sofa. Cassidy made her sit, and the two of them took up either side of her, snuggling in.
Miranda laid her head on the back of the couch, letting a few tears slip from her eyes unnoticed.
They sat together silently, until Caroline brought up her solo in the forthcoming choir recital, and Cassidy mentioned her as yet unspoken desire to play lacrosse. Miranda got lost in the sound of their voices, not really contributing beyond murmurs of understanding.
With her arms around them, she fell asleep.
Some time later, she awoke with Caroline in her lap. Andrea and Cassidy were on the floor, resting their heads on a giant pillow, watching what she assumed was one of those ridiculous space movies. She cleared her throat, and Caroline shifted in her arms, irritated at the disturbance. Andrea turned around and waved.
Miranda kissed her daughter's head. "Time for bed," she said. Caroline did not move. "You're too big to carry, darling," she whispered.
Caroline tightened her hold and whimpered. "It will just take a minute. Come on." She nudged her, and the girl sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Can you possibly survive not knowing what happens to whatever their names are?" Miranda asked Andrea and Cassidy.
"Aw, Mom," Cassidy said.
"Let's finish tomorrow. I'm pooped," Andrea pleaded.
Miranda ushered the girls to their bedroom, waiting as they dressed in their pajamas and brushed their teeth. Briefly she wondered if she would be so domesticated if Andrea were not in her life. With Stephen, she always dined out, leaving the girls with Carina or a nanny. But when Andrea began spending the night, their evenings were spent at home. Working dinners were still a fixture, but they were far less frequent.
She had become a homebody without noticing.
Before she could decide how she felt about that fact, the girls returned. Miranda tucked them in, which she rarely did now. They were growing up so quickly, but on this night, they seemed young, untouched. How she wanted to protect them from the world.
"Good night, darling," she said softly to Cassidy, with a kiss.
"Night, Mom. Love you."
She echoed the sentiment with Caroline, who replied, "Love you too. Tomorrow we're going to use butterscotch pudding on the photographers."
"Just make sure I'm gone before you do, please."
Miranda kissed her cheek, and brushed the pale red hair back from her forehead.
Andy was dressed for bed when Miranda entered the bedroom. "You think they're still out there?" she asked.
Miranda replied with certainty. "Yes."
"Will they stay all night?"
"Most of them, no. But a few, absolutely."
Slipping under the covers, Andy focused on Miranda as she dressed in her nightgown. "Nigel called me."
Miranda's mouth tightened. "Oh?"
"He said something weird. That maybe we weren't friends anymore. You know anything about that?"
"Hmm," Miranda replied. "We had lunch yesterday."
"And I never got the whole story. Which I would like now, so when I call him back, I know what I'm talking about."
Miranda vanished into the bathroom.
"I'm still going to be awake when you get out of there," Andy called out.
Miranda ignored her, and Andy frowned, settling back against the pillows. She read a few pages of a book that had sat untouched on the night table for a few weeks.
When Miranda returned, she said, "It was nothing." Her tone was flat.
"Feel free to share then."
"Andrea, my private conversations with Nigel are just that. Private. Our discussions are not for your consumption."
"What, did he call me fat? Did he say I'm simple, or stupid, or not a nice person, or--"
"Stop. If you insist on knowing what your supposed friend said about you, fine. He said you would never be good enough for me." The words rushed out of Miranda in a stream. "And that you were from Cincinnati."
Andy looked up at the ceiling, and nodded. "Both true."
"Don't be obtuse. He insulted you."
"Oh come on, Miranda. I don't really fit with you, superficially at least. I don't think we would have run into each other say, at a party, or anywhere, ever, before I started at Runway. And I am from Cincinnati. But I bet Nigel's not from the city either."
Miranda blinked. "You're right."
"And where, pray tell, is he from?" Andy asked.
"New Jersey?" Andy squawked.
"There. See? We're not all lucky enough to be born to the purple. Whatever."
Miranda slid into the bed next to her and shut off the light. A slivered moonbeam stretched across the duvet, and Andy took Miranda in her arms.
"You are good enough for me," Miranda said softly.
Andy sighed. "Nigel doesn't have any idea of what's between us. He made an assumption, just like everyone else in the world will. So, one of us is going to have to set him straight. Do you mind if it's me?"
A smooth thigh wriggled between Andy's legs. "No," Miranda said.
"But you guys are going to have to fix this," Andy said. "I can't do it for you."
"Nigel doesn't care, not the way he used to. I confused professional loyalty with friendship, which was an error in judgment." Miranda paused. "And he's still angry with me about Jacqueline."
"Well, he has every right to be. But it's high time you had a heart to heart. Lay it all out. And tell him you're the reason he's working with James now."
"No," Miranda said firmly.
"He deserves to know."
"I said no."
"Good god, woman, you are stubborn. Just tell him!"
"I don't want to argue about Nigel. Let's go to sleep."
"We're not arguing," Andy insisted. "Listen. You hurt him. Say you're sorry and be done with it."
"I'm not sorry, though," Miranda whispered. Andy waited, sensing there was more. "I regret that I hurt him. But I would do the same thing over again."
Andy took a breath.
"I had to do what I did, Andrea. I could not lose Runway. I've bled my soul into those pages. My work it's as essential to me as breathing. And friendship did not, nor will it ever, supersede my own ambition."
Andy could feel Miranda watching her in the darkness. "If you can't deal with that, tell me now, so we can end this before well. Just tell me."
Leaning close, Andy pressed her mouth along Miranda's neck. Her lips brushed one ear. "I can handle you, Miranda Priestly." She slipped a hand into silver hair. "I can handle your ambition. I can handle your dedication, and devotion, and passion for excellence. You're the best in the world at what you do, and I wouldn't want it any other way." The truth of her own words set in for Andy; Miranda really was the best in the world at her job. The pinnacle. And here she was, asking Andy if she could manage to be with her. "You're stuck with me. Especially since everyone knows about us. Might be kind of awkward if you threw me out into the street now."
Miranda pulled her down into a fierce embrace. "You are ridiculous," she said, voice cracking a little.
Andy thought she might cry, so she kissed Miranda's cheeks, and forehead, and nose, very sweetly. "Hell of a day, huh?"
Miranda huffed. "Hell of a day."
Since ignoring the paparazzi seemed to do the trick, Miranda kept it up. On Wednesday, she and Andrea left the townhouse at 7:45am, sunglasses and disinterested expressions firmly in place. Andrea was dropped off first, and Miranda nodded in approval as she marched past the wolves and straight into the building.
Though Miranda had deliberately not read a single word about herself in the papers, she finally took the bull by the horns when she got into the office. Emily had multiple copies of The Post and The Daily News stashed under the desk, and Miranda demanded all of them.
The Daily News had, to Miranda's surprise and pleasure, a smashing shot of Andrea on its front page. She was smiling directly into the camera, brushing her hair out of her eyes, beneath the headline: "The Next Mr. Priestly?" Miranda shook her head at the pathetic headline. The Post had a shot of the two of them heading into the townhouse the night before. The accompanying print: "BOMBSHELLS: Miranda's Lady Love; Half Her Age and Twice as Nice!"
"Unnamed sources revealed to the Post yesterday that twice-divorced fashion goddess/ Runway editor Miranda Priestly has taken up with a much younger, hotter-than-hot lover. Sure, if it was Alex Lundqvist, we probably wouldn't have looked twice, but get a load of this: Miranda's *special friend* is none other than her former second assistant Andy Sachs, an award-winning journalist currently employed by The New York Mirror. And yes, that's Andy, short for Andrea. WHAT? We understand Miss Sachs recently celebrated her 27th birthday with Miranda and her adorable twin daughters at Serafina Fabulous, but no one picked up on the signals they were so clearly sending out. Don't worry, we're slapping the hands (and asses) of our Upper East Side tipsters as we speak.
Sachs came to New York almost three years back with her boyfriend, the by-all-accounts handsome cook Nate Garcia, who's since flown the coop for the frigid pastures of Boston. Did Miranda give the poor guy the old heave-ho when she snared a youthful girlfriend for some workplace canoodling? We can only imagine. And believe us, we are imagining. Andy's no Park Slope education campaign director; those big brown eyes and girl-next-door smile would melt any of our cold, cold hearts. Could it be that she's finally thawed the Iciest Queen in the land? Of course, our less than softer side suggests Andy's not so sweet, but she put up with La Priestly for nearly a year before walking out on her mid-show at Paris Fashion week 18 months ago. Conveniently, those events took place right around the time Miranda's second marriage was busting up. Lover's quarrel? Hmm. We'll get the dirt, so stay tuned "
Miranda regretted that they linked Andrea with the divorce, but she would take care of that tomorrow. She folded the papers and put them in the top drawer of the desk.
Emily continued to sniffle throughout the morning, until Miranda finally had enough. "Emily," she called, her voice deadly soft.
Emily crept into the room with her notepad and pencil in one hand, a tissue in the other. "Yes?" she croaked.
"I believe it's time you moved on."
Emily gasped and stared at her for a moment. "You're firing me?"
"No. But you've spent enough time on the desk. I've spoken to Christiane in Art Production and she's agreed to take you on as a manager. You're qualified for the job, but I will have extremely high expectations for you in this position. Do not disappoint me."
Mouth open, Emily did not move.
Emily turned and left the office, and Miranda heard her heels continue clacking down the long hallway. "Jane?" she called.
Jane appeared instantly. "Yes, Miranda?"
"You've just been promoted. Emily will remain here for the next two weeks as she transitions to production. During that time I expect you to find a suitable, competent, replacement for yourself. You will take on additional responsibilities, and that will be reflected in your compensation. Do you foresee any problems with the situation?"
The girl practically vibrated with joy. "No, Miranda. Thank you. I won't let you down."
Miranda looked over her glasses at the girl's exuberance. "No, I don't think you will. And Jane, you handled yesterday very well." Stopping herself from becoming too generous, she said, "That's all."
Jane disappeared, and Miranda almost smiled when she heard a tiny squeal a few moments later.
That afternoon she had a lunch scheduled with Jean-Michel and David from Gucci, and the photographers followed her to the restaurant. Once inside, she gave the two men her undivided attention. David smiled, and she could tell he was nervous.
"I see you brought your entourage." He gestured to the window, where she saw the restaurant manager trying to shoo the riff-raff away.
"Nice picture in The Post today," Jean-Michel said.
Narrowing her eyes, Miranda inhaled deeply. This would be an interesting barometer for the reception she would receive throughout the industry. Ignoring it completely was not an option, but how far must she go? "Thank you," she said mildly. "Though I prefer the one from The Daily News."
Both men nodded. "She's very beautiful. You have excellent taste," Jean-Michel said.
Miranda needed no one's approval, but oddly, she felt buoyed by the words. Her lips turned upward very slightly. "I always have," she said. "Now, let's get started, shall we?"
In the car on the way back to the office, she phoned Andrea.
"Hi," Andrea said, her voice warm and welcoming even with that single syllable.
"Hello. The boys from Gucci send their best. They loved the little trench you wore yesterday."
"Oh, geez. At least I had that going for me. Did it go okay?" she asked. Her voice betrayed her anxiety.
"Of course. They were very gracious about you, and we went to work. Which was very productive, by the way. They were on their best behavior."
"If Alicia's still there, she probably told them to be nice. I saved her ass once when they ran late for a meeting."
Miranda licked her lips. "Oh really? Do tell."
"Not a chance," Andrea said. "It's assistants' code. Even you can't break it."
"I doubt that very much, Andrea," she purred. Roy's window was up, so he could not hear the conversation. With her voice pitched low, she continued. "I believe I could convince you to tell me anything if I tried hard enough."
Andrea cleared her throat. "Don't do that," she said.
"Talk to me like that. I'm at work."
"Can't you step out for a minute?"
"Where? I work in a giant bullpen."
"To that little conference room." Miranda's face grew hot. "You know the one."
"Oh, god," Andy whined. "Please don't."
"Where I kissed you for the first time, remember?" She did not often speak to Andrea over the phone this way, but she was in a playful mood. "When I held you, and kissed you, and wished I could lay you down on the table and put my mouth--"
"I'll be right back," Andrea said away from the mouth piece. "Hold on."
Miranda swallowed as she waited. She was already wet. Was she really going to do this? She hit the intercom button. "Roy, I want to be back at Elias-Clarke at 2:15. No earlier."
She turned the intercom off, and checked it repeatedly until Andrea returned. "I'm here," she said breathlessly.
"The bathroom. It's empty, and I locked it. Which means I have probably five minutes before someone pounds on the door."
Mouth dry, Miranda continued. "The table in the conference room. It's quite large, isn't it."
"Uh-huh," Andrea said.
"I had to go to that dinner, with Donatella, when all I wanted to do was push up your skirt and touch you, and kiss you there, with my tongue deep inside--"
Andrea gasped, and Miranda unzipped her skirt for better access to herself. Outrageous, she thought. This is outrageous. "You would have been so wet for me, wouldn't you?" Miranda touched herself, and breathed into the phone. "Wouldn't you?"
"Yes," Andrea hissed. "Oh, yes."
"Like you are now."
"Yes." It was a mere whisper of sound.
"I wish I was with you, so I could drag you down to that room and do what I wanted to do that night, Andrea." She hit a sweet spot and moaned softly. "Oh god, how delicious you are. I would've licked you till you begged for mercy, just like I will tonight." She heard a sharp intake of breath, and jerked against her own hand. "Tonight, you're all mine. I'm going to strip off your clothes and fuck you till you scream, and every photographer on the street is going to know exactly what I'm doing to you."
"Miranda," Andrea choked. "Oh, Miranda. Miranda," she panted, while Miranda rubbed herself. She pictured Andrea in her mind's eye, spread out across the bed, open and ready and waiting for her to do whatever she liked. And there were just so many things she liked. Very quickly she was close, especially with Andrea chanting that way in her ear, and when she heard the telltale sound of Andrea's climax, she came, biting her lip viciously against the rush of pleasure.
She swallowed, listening to Andrea's breathing as she tried to slow her own pounding heart. "Miranda," Andrea murmured, "where the hell did that come from?"
"You, darling. Just you," she said simply.
"I have to clean up," Andrea said. "And shit, I'm supposed to see Nigel tonight for a drink. He texted me. We're meeting at Brite."
There went Miranda's plans for a scandalous evening.
"I'll be home by ten, at the latest."
"I should think so. This afternoon was just to take the edge off."
There was a nervous giggle. "Miranda, you may just be the sexiest woman who ever walked the earth."
"Aren't you lucky then," Miranda replied, sated and content as she leaned against the leather seat.
"Sure am. Oh fuck, someone's at the door. Gotta go. Love you." She hung up.
Miranda stared at the phone, eyebrow raised. After a deep sigh, she went about the business of making herself presentable.
Andy sat alone inside the bar, lounging on one of the long leather seats. The place wasn't too crowded yet, but she'd gotten dozens of knowing looks and raised eyebrows from the patrons already. It didn't help that the cameras were outside, again. How did people live with it for weeks on end? It had only been two days and she was ready to kill someone. What could possibly be so interesting as taking the subway to a bar in Chelsea? She wasn't going to suddenly tell them all her secrets, or Miranda's for that matter. Seemed like a huge waste of time and money. Maybe she should just start wearing the same thing every day to work, and they'd realize that the pictures they took every day looked the same. She nodded to herself in approval. That Von Furstenberg trench was about to become her uniform.
A martini glass filled with purple liquid was set on the low table in front of her. The waitress nodded to a circle of gorgeous young men, all stylishly dressed and watching her eagerly. "They just wanted to say hi," the young woman said.
Andy rolled her eyes and waved them over. Since Nigel was late, she might as well stay entertained.
By the time Nigel arrived, Andy was surrounded by about fifteen young men, all of whom gushed one by one about her hair, her skin, her clothes, and above all, her taste in women. They each had stories about how Miranda or Runway had changed their lives in some way. Andy did not have to do much talking, which was a good thing, because she had every intention of being very careful with her chit-chat. She felt some modicum of safety, since no one had pumped her for information; these men seemed genuinely pleased to see her out and about. But what they seemed most pleased about was that Miranda was no longer just a patron of the gay community, but that she was one of them.
"Is this your new harem?" Nigel asked drolly as he waved a blonde gentleman up from Andy's left.
"Nah, they're just some new friends," Andy said with a shrug. "Sorry guys, my date's here. But maybe in a little bit I'll join you, okay?"
"Sure thing, gorgeous," Allen said, smiling. "Don't you have too much fun without us. We'll be right over there."
The guys departed, about half of them kissing her cheek, and Nigel just looked on with wide eyes. "So, you really are the princess of New York now, aren't you," he said.
Andy was stung by the bitterness in his tone. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" she asked.
"Don't play with me, Nigel. Turn off the queeny little attitude and talk to me like a normal person. I didn't do a goddamned thing to you in all the time I've known you. So tell me, right now, what I did wrong, and then maybe we can fix it. Or not. Go."
Nigel stared back at Andy, lips poised and open as if to deliver some kind of barb, one that could kill or maim. But he didn't speak, instead leaning back and motioning to the waitress. "Macallan, please. Make it a double."
They sat in silence as they waited for his drink to arrive, which fortunately did not take long. He took a sip, held it in his mouth, and swallowed. Setting the drink down, he turned to Andy. "So how long have you and Miranda been running around? Since we worked together?"
Andy gaped. "No. Barely six months."
"You're not lying to me," he said uncertainly.
"What the hell do you two have in common?"
Why he thought it was okay to grill her like this, Andy didn't know, but she was the one who opened the door. "What, do you mean? Do we listen to the same music, or love knitting, or horseback riding, or long walks on the beach? Liking the same things doesn't necessarily translate to love, if you hadn't noticed. But if you really want to know, we love each other, and we love her kids, and that's enough so far."
"Those two monsters?"
Andy's adrenaline went into overdrive. "You better watch your mouth. I came here to mend fences, but now I'm wondering why I should even bother if you can't hold a civil conversation. I know you're jealous. Just say why, and maybe we can move on."
Nigel's nostrils flared. "Jealous? Over your little affair? Pah."
Andy watched him, and grew sad. "Nigel, I think you know that what I have with Miranda isn't little."
"Miranda would have ended things long ago if I meant nothing to her. She had a million opportunities. I never asked for more than she could give, but here we are, out. Not exactly by choice, but we were on our way. You know, we expected someone to notice the night we went out over the weekend, but it came and went. And guess where the big leak came from? Miranda warned her PR firm that this was coming. That we were going to ease into the public eye. Start telling people." She shook her head. "If you still think it's little, I feel sorry for you."
"Don't bother, kid. She's got you tied up so tight you can't even see straight. She will use you and throw you away, just like she did to the rest of us."
"You mean to you," Andy insisted.
"Not just me. Her ex-husbands. Ex-friends. Everyone. Once she's bored, she'll move on."
"Maybe," Andy reasoned. "I plan on enjoying every moment we're together. Because she makes me happy."
"But Andy, it's a lie. She doesn't really love you. And she'll show you one day."
"Like she showed you."
He lifted his drink in a silent toast to himself. "Yep."
"And how do you think your little 'job situation' corrected itself then?" Andy said. If Miranda wasn't going to tell Nigel, she was, and damn the torpedoes. "How do you think Jacqueline ended up at Runway Italia? Did James tell you he fired her? Or did Jacqueline do such a poor job that she realized she couldn't hack it?"
"I don't know what you mean," Nigel said uncertainly.
"Oh, open your eyes, 'kid.' You have no idea what really went on, because you didn't want to know. Who's Jacqueline's boss right now? Irv. Do you know anyone who has the guts to try and get Irv to do something he doesn't want to do? Because I only know one person. And it's not James Holt. And it's not you, or me. So you just think about it, and let me know when the answer comes to you, okay?"
Andy left her nearly full drink on the table and strode over to her new pals. They welcomed her into their circle, and she watched Nigel sit, very still, out of the corner of her eye. She'd give him ten minutes to come get her, otherwise she was leaving for home.
But it did not take Nigel that long. Less than three minutes later he dragged her back to their table and sat her down firmly. "You're telling me Miranda convinced Irv to pull Jacqueline back to Runway. How?"
"Christ, Nigel, I have no idea, nor do I want to. Secrets are not my game. I like the truth." Andy of course did know exactly how, but she would not share this with Nigel.
"And Miranda told you."
"After half a bottle of wine one night at dinner. She hinted at it a long time ago, but I didn't get the whole story till much later."
Nigel's mouth twisted. "And what did she get out of it?"
"The satisfaction of correcting a wrong done to someone she thought of as a friend. Someone who deserved better. You said yourself that she'd pay you back. Well, buddy, she did. So I hope you like the job."
Nigel sat back. "I am having an extremely hard time believing you."
Andy nodded, understanding. "That's okay. She refused to let me tell you, by the way, so don't spread this around. It was enough for you to think you'd gotten the job entirely on your own merit, the way you would have the first time if she hadn't interfered."
"I guess it makes sense," he said quietly. "It was weird the way Jacqueline jumped ship."
"Just think it over. It doesn't make what Miranda did in Paris okay, but it's something."
He turned to Andy and gave her a long, appraising look. "What is it about you, Andy?"
"You're living with the most influential woman in the entire fashion world. Who apparently loves you enough to subject herself to the misery of public scrutiny, every day. What have you got that the rest of us don't?"
Andy shrugged. "Maybe I smell really good?" she said with a laugh. "I don't know, Nige. But whatever it is, works. And you know, I really should thank you. It was your doing that we first, uh, got together."
"Remember that party, when you told me to get a clue and stop mooning over Miranda?"
"Well, you kind of spurred on a particular series of events. That was the beginning."
Nigel brightened. "Now there's a story I would like to hear more of," he said lasciviously.
Andy chuckled. "Not tonight. Too many people around."
"Got that right," she said, feeling the tensions lift. She nudged his shoulder with her own, meeting his eyes. "Think we'll be okay?" she said.
He hesitated only for a moment. "Yeah. But I really should--" He stopped. Andy saw him swallow. "Now there is a sight I never thought I'd see," he croaked.
Andy turned around. There, with at least a hundred pairs of eyes staring at her magnificent figure, stood Miranda Priestly.
The photographers went berserk when Miranda stepped from the car in front of Brite. They'd been waiting on the corner for Andrea to eventually emerge, but once she arrived, all hell broke loose. For a moment she felt a glimmer of fear, but out of nowhere came a cabal of tall, brawny men. They blocked access to Miranda, surrounding her and escorting her to the door. "My," she said breathily. "They're not usually so aggressive."
"Ms. Priestly," one of them gasped. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, yes," she said, with a wave of her hand. "Thank you."
The bouncer took one look at her and unhooked the velvet rope. "Come right in, Ms. Priestly."
She turned and gestured toward her protectors. "And my... friends?"
"Back in line," he said.
Miranda narrowed her eyes. "I think not."
The huge man blinked once, and crumbled. "Fine. But just you guys. The rest of you stay put."
The five men trailed in after her, and she heard their excited whispers. She went directly to the bar and produced her platinum card. "Give these charming men whatever they want," she said. "Thank you again," she said. "If you'll excuse me." They seemed stunned, so Miranda took advantage of the silence and went in search of Andrea and Nigel.
Nigel spotted her first, and Andrea grinned so sweetly at seeing her that Miranda's heart shook a little in her chest. She stood and rushed over, but did not embrace or kiss her. Miranda knew why; this was their first true appearance together in public. Miranda leaned in and kissed Andrea's cheek, close to her ear, and whispered, "Do you mind?"
Andrea's hand found its way to her waist. "Not at all. I'm so glad you came. Let's sit."
As they glided to the table, Andrea's hand did not move from its place of ownership at her lower back. Miranda found it a challenge to keep a superior look off her face. "Nigel," she said, holding out a hand.
Nigel stood and, to her shock, hugged her. Usually no one except Andrea came so close. She glared at Andrea, who suspiciously avoided her eyes. What did you tell him, you willful girl?
"So, how's life, Steve?" he said lightly.
"Oh, god, do we finally get to put that ridiculous nickname to rest?" Miranda said, exasperated. "As for life, it's interesting," she replied, taking a seat after they disengaged. Only a few moments later, a dirty Patron martini was delivered directly into Miranda's hand by a pretty waitress. "Thank you," she said, finally catching Andrea's eye. Andrea grinned sheepishly.
"I suppose I owe you an apology," Nigel said.
"Our lunchtime topic of conversation on Monday. I spoke out of turn. I'm sorry."
Miranda sniffed. "Accepted. Though it's really Andrea you should be apologizing to."
"Fine, I accept too," Andrea cut in. "Happy now?"
Miranda glanced out onto the crowd, most of whom were surreptitiously watching her from behind their martini glasses. It was a passable establishment, though without a visit to the powder room she could not fully judge. The people were, for the most part, young and attractive. For a split second, she felt old. But then the pressure of Andrea's thigh against hers distracted her from the notion, and she did not mind so much.
"What made you come downtown?" Andrea finally asked, breaking the silence.
Miranda sipped her martini. "I thought Nigel and I could talk."
"I'll give you some privacy then." Andrea took her drink and stood, and Miranda wished she would sit back down and direct the conversation. "I made some friends before, and they're probably all pissing their pants about the fact that you're here, so I'm going to go dish." She touched Miranda's shoulder briefly. "See you in a bit."
Then she was gone, and Miranda was alone with her thoughts. And Nigel.
It was time for her to just say it. "I'm sorry I hurt you, Nigel."
Nigel inhaled, rubbing the stubble on his face with one hand.
"I know you know why I did it," she continued, not bothering to explain what she apologized for. "And I wish things had gone differently. But they didn't. Now you're where you belong, and doing great work with James. You've proven yourself to everyone, including me. I'm very proud. I'd like to believe I had some hand in your success."
With a snort, Nigel said, "I think we can both safely say that's true, Miranda."
"So. There it is. Do with it what you will."
"I accept your apology," he said, his grin impish.
She watched him uncertainly. "It's that simple?"
"It is tonight," he said. "All's well that ends well, I always say. And thank you. For coming here, and forgiving me. Because I've said some things that I regret. I misjudged you, Miranda. In ways that even I don't think I can fathom."
She nodded. "Good."
They leaned back against the seat simultaneously and drank deeply.
"So, Andy, huh?" he quipped.
Miranda wanted to lick her lips, watching her lover across the room. "Yes."
"I was surprised."
"So was I."
"How long has it been?"
She looked at him with a perceptive glance. "I think you know." Andrea had most certainly given him a few details.
"I was hoping to get the story of the first kiss. Andy's lips are sealed."
"I'll let her tell you when she's in the mood."
"Damn," Nigel said. "So close."
"It's not exactly a thrilling tale," Miranda said, but she felt a little flash of warmth in her belly.
"I doubt that very much, judging by the look on your face."
She glanced sharply at Nigel, whose eyes were smiling. Warm. Different than they had been. Miranda experienced a palpable sense of relief. "There was an element of drama, shall we say."
"Thank god. I could use some excitement these days."
Miranda suddenly wondered if there was trouble with James. "Everything all right at home?"
"Yeah. Just a rough patch. Living with someone you work with isn't all it's cracked up to be."
"What will you do?"
"Same thing everyone else does. Keep trying. Cross my fingers."
Miranda could understand that notion very well.
Andy had not done a shot of anything except wheatgrass since living with Miranda, but when her new best friend Jackson sent a lemon drop down the bar, she could not resist. She'd only had a martini tonight; another drink wouldn't do that much damage. "You do one too!" she insisted.
"Yes, ma'am," he said amiably, and ordered another.
Before she could drink, the bartender made them both pause. A moment later, two new lemons were produced, placed on the glasses and set aflame. "Blow, lick, drink, suck," he directed.
Howls broke out then, and Andy blew out the flame and followed orders. When she opened her eyes after squeezing them shut from the sour taste, she almost choked. Miranda was not three feet away, watching her with a raised eyebrow. "Is this the sort of thing you do when I'm not around?" she asked.
"Uh, yeah?" Andy replied, hoping she didn't look too silly.
"The fire was a nice touch," Miranda said, inching closer. With a withering glance at one of the boys, who immediately vacated his spot, Miranda commandeered a stool. "I'll have whatever that was."
The noise level tripled at the words, and Andy could only laugh at the haughty look on Miranda's face. Nigel stood behind her, shaking his head in mirth.
"Nigel, you interested?" Andy asked.
"Not a chance," he said. "I'd like to preserve my eyebrows. But I will have another whisky."
The bartender set Miranda's shot alight. She downed it like a pro, without even a wince when she sucked the lemon. Andy fought the desire to latch on and rescue the sugar that surely coated her mouth. The vodka was doing strange things to her. If she had more, there was no telling what she might do. Especially since watching Miranda do a flaming shot in a gay bar, in full view of hundreds of people, turned her on. She was like an origami flower; twists and turns folded together just so to make an exquisite piece of art. So many sides, Andy thought, drifting into a vague fantasy involving herself and Miranda, a dark corner, and lots of tongue.
Nigel waved a hand in front of her face. "You in there?"
Andy wiped the side of her mouth. "Yeah," she murmured. "Sorry. Just zoned out for a sec."
"You might want to cool it on the booze."
She nodded. "I know, I'm a lightweight. And I have to be at work by 7:30." She slid off the stool, carefully balancing on her heels. "Be right back."
Quickly she found the bathroom. When she was done, she splashed water on her face to cool the fever that had set in. Next time she saw a doctor, she might ask if her heightened sex drive was normal. Then again, nothing about being with Miranda was normal.
She stepped out of the bathroom into the corridor, and someone grabbed her arm. She yanked away, till she realized it was only Miranda, who pushed her against the wall. She didn't have time to utter a sound before Miranda's lemon-flavored lips descended on her mouth, tongue flicking lightly inside. Andy groaned, caught off guard by her fantasy come to life. Miranda pressed hard against her, one thigh rubbing between Andy's legs through her skirt. Andy trembled violently, electrified. She slid her hands down Miranda's back to her ass, and grabbed it without a second thought. Miranda grunted and pulled away. "Shall we call Roy?"
Andy wanted to cry out in misery. "Oh, you are in trouble, lady."
Miranda strolled off without looking back. Andy hunted in her purse for her phone, hands shaking so badly she could hardly open it. "Roy," she barked. "Please tell me you're nearby."
"Sure am, Andy. Need a ride?"
"I'm just around the block."
"Thanks. You're a life saver."
Andy took a deep breath and headed back to the group.
Nigel frowned when he saw her. "You okay, kid? You look like shit."
"Gee thanks, Nigel. I think that shot did me in," Andy said, fudging the truth only slightly. "We're going to split."
"Just when we were getting to know your friends," Nigel said.
"Stay. Have fun. Just not too much." Andy saw Miranda retrieve her credit card from the bar and sign a slip. She motioned in that direction to Nigel. "What's that about?"
Miranda exchanged words with a few men who crowded around her. One of them handed her a business card, which she tucked away into her handbag. "Huh. Maybe she's setting up a threesome."
Nigel looked horrified.
"You'd better be." He kissed her cheek. "Thanks, by the way."
Miranda appeared at her side. "Good night, Nigel." They exchanged their typical air kisses. "Ready to face them again?"
"We'll have a little help." Miranda took Andy's arm and led her to the door. Five huge guys, the ones Miranda had just been speaking to, were waiting at the entrance. "All right," Miranda told them.
Andy straightened her posture, as she had learned to when facing the cameras over the last days. But this time it was easier; the men cleared a path and kept the paparazzi at a reasonable distance. They made it to the sidewalk, and Andy spotted the car idling a little down the road. She waved, and it sprinted forward. It had hardly come to a stop when the tallest of the men reached down and opened the door. Andy scooted in quickly, and Miranda followed.
"Call anytime, Ms. Priestly," the man said. With that, the door shut, and all was silent.
"Wow." Andy slumped against the seat.
"Quite," Miranda said.
"Tough crowd tonight," Roy said.
Miranda pursed her lips. "The worst yet. Perhaps they're angry about the pudding."
"Pudding?" Andy asked.
"The girls," Miranda said.
Andy laughed too.
The ride was smooth, but it seemed to take forever. Miranda did not touch her, nor did Andy reach out. The privacy window was down, and neither of them were inclined to ask Roy to raise it. Andy was impatient, biting her lip at each red light, squirming in her seat.
Miranda just smirked.
At home, only a handful of people awaited them. Compared to the bar it was a cakewalk. Once inside, Andy went straight upstairs, and she was alone for a few minutes. Miranda was probably checking on the book, but she was going to scream if she didn't show up in the bedroom post haste.
Andy dressed in her burgundy lingerie and ripped open the box that she'd been waiting to try out for weeks. She raced to the bathroom and washed it thoroughly before shoving it into the bedside table. Her heart thudded in her ears as she jumped into bed.
Ten minutes passed. Andy was about to start by herself, but fortunately Miranda arrived. She did not pause on the way to the bathroom. Finally, Andy caved, sliding one hand to her breast and caressing with just the right pressure. She moaned a bit, eyes closed.
"Impatient little thing, aren't you," Miranda said, looming over her. Andy jerked in surprise.
"Well, you were taking forever."
"I didn't realize we were on a schedule."
"Oh, bull. Come down here before I lose my mojo."
"I sincerely doubt that will happen." But Miranda pulled the sheet down and got in bed, replacing Andy's hand with her own. Andy let out a sigh of pleasure and captured Miranda's mouth, holding her head in place. She was already far gone, but Miranda needed to catch up. She rolled on top, and slowly pulled the straps of Miranda's gown down her shoulders. Licking at her breast, she relished the way it pebbled under her tongue. She spent long moments nibbling and nipping, and soon Miranda was writhing beneath her touch. Finally she pushed the gown all the way off, stopping briefly to taste the flesh of Miranda's hip.
"So, um, I had this idea," Andy said, her voice catching nervously.
"Oh?" Miranda watched her steadily.
Miranda had not rejected anything Andy tried in the bedroom yet, but there was always a first time. She leaned over to open the drawer and drew the toy out.
Miranda stilled. Her eyes narrowed. "What is that?"
"It's um, a toy. A dildo. For one of us to wear, and the other to you know."
Seconds ticked by, and Andy held her breath. "Whatever made you get it? And why is it purple?"
Andy glanced up at the heavens. "Way to kill the mood," she muttered. "I thought it might be fun. And I just wanted to, uh, do something to you. If you wanted me to, I mean. If you didn't mind. But if you're not into it, it's okay--I just figured maybe we could try it."
Miranda inhaled through her nose. "I suppose."
"Cool!" Andy grinned. "I got one that was sort of simple, no harness. I don't know if it will work, since this is my--"
"Oh, for god's sake, go ahead. You can give me the treatise later."
Andy snapped to attention. "Got it." She reached between her legs and slid the knobby end inside herself, wincing a little at the chilly silicone. "Mm," she sighed once it felt stable. "Okay?"
Andy touched Miranda, eyes fluttering at the wetness she discovered. Carefully, she maneuvered the toy to her entrance and eased her way in. "How's that?" she asked, her voice rough.
After a swallow, Miranda said, "Good."
Andy pushed forward, almost against her will, and Miranda flinched. "Sorry."
"Still good," Miranda grunted. "You can move."
"Right." So Andy settled between Miranda's pale thighs, holding herself up on her elbows, and moved.
Miranda reached down and grabbed Andrea's hips. "I won't break," she said, pulling at her. The purple cock had looked ridiculous, and it couldn't be mistaken for anything close to the real thing. That was rather pleasant; she did not wish Andrea to have a penis. But this item was certainly working nicely. Just as Andrea had suggested it might. Brilliant girl.
The fact that Andrea was in control of it was the clincher. On its own, it was nothing; just a strangely shaped piece of silicone. But she could tell by the wide pupils, the flushed cheeks, the sweat that was starting to pool at Andrea's lower back, that it was doing wonderful things to her as well. When Andrea lurched forward, their bodies jammed together, and Miranda groaned loudly enough to shock herself. Those brown eyes stared down at her in excitement, and Andrea began to thrust harder. She kept close, and the friction was like a fire between Miranda's legs.
But soon Andrea began to pant, and quicken her rhythm. Miranda put her hand to Andrea's chest and said firmly, "Wait." This was not going to end so soon.
"What?" Andrea yelped. "Oh please, I can't--"
"You will." Miranda was not sure how to shift them both without losing contact, so she simply moved up and pushed Andrea onto her back. In a moment she was on her again, sliding the embarrassingly wet toy back inside. "Let me," she said.
Andrea undulated beneath her. "Feels so different this way " she mumbled, her eyes falling shut as their bodies came together firmly. Now Miranda started to rub back and forth, so gently that Andrea started to moan, until she turned her face to the side and cried out. She grabbed a pillow and pushed it to her mouth, keening as Miranda shifted her weight. "Oh, fuck, Miranda, harder, just a little harder," she pleaded.
The words sent a frisson of delight down Miranda's thighs. God, she could do this every day. She thrust a bit, and Andy shrieked into the pillow again. It almost seemed like torture, so Miranda took mercy and pressed her thumb between their bodies, just to the side of Andrea's clit. Just where she liked it.
Andrea arched, her legs spreading a little wider, and she jerked up, producing a gasp from Miranda. The toy hit her sweet spot, and she ignored the urge to race toward her own climax, holding out, wanting so badly to hear the cry Andrea would surely emit when she came.
It happened only a few moments later, and somewhere in the back of her mind, Miranda was relieved she had the pillow, because she would have woken the children otherwise, even a floor away. Andrea came with a howl, her entire body convulsing once, and again, and Miranda was so close by then that the desperate sound urged her right into her own climax.
When Miranda finally opened her eyes, Andrea remained still, eyes closed. Miranda lifted herself off the toy, removed it gently from Andrea, and threw it on the floor. They had produced a copious amount of moisture tonight; fortunately the bed was large enough for them both to avoid it. She lay down next to her lover and released a sigh of immense satisfaction.
"I think that will do nicely," she said.
Andrea laughed weakly. At least she's not unconscious, Miranda thought. Andrea turned and flopped her head onto Miranda's shoulder, dropping a sweaty arm around her waist. "I agree," she said. "Wow."
Miranda felt very smug. "I told you I'd make you scream tonight."
With a snort, Andrea asked, "Can you gloat in the morning? I'm about to pass out."
"Of course," Miranda replied. "Good night." She touched her lips to Andrea's damp forehead, and leaned down for a soft kiss.
A hand crept up into Miranda's hair until they parted. Miranda reached over and turned out the light, and Andrea settled back into position. Not a minute later, she began to snore.
Miranda stroked her head, and smiled into the darkness.
On Friday morning, Andy ran downstairs to the front door and threw it open. The guys turned, waiting with their cameras poised, but she just waved. "Just getting the paper. I'm leaving in half an hour if anybody needs to go pee."
She slammed the door and squealed in excitement. "Miranda, hurry up!"
Miranda descended the staircase slowly as she fastened her pearls. "You really should learn a little patience, darling," Miranda drawled.
Andy lifted her eyebrow in disbelief on her way into the kitchen. "Me, learn patience? I assume not from you," she said cheekily.
"Fine, fine," Miranda said. "Go ahead and start." She poured two cups of coffee while Andy ripped the paper open in search of her treasure. When she found it, she read aloud.
THE ICE QUEEN MELTETH
Andy snorted. "Oh, genius headline there, Liz."
"I should have insisted on final approval. Leslie thought it would look too controlling."
"For the next month or two. She owed me a few favors, especially after her referral's little debacle."
Readers, you'll never guess in a million years who called me on Thursday afternoon.
It wasn't Lindsay Lohan, or Clay Aiken, or Mariah Carey, or even Jim Carrey, for that matter.
It was Miranda Priestly. And no, Miranda's assistant did not dial my number. Miranda Priestly called me herself.
The same Miranda Priestly who has infamously shut out certain columnists from various high-profile Runway events, blackballed journalists who crossed her, destroyed careers of those who have done her wrong.
In the past, when the words "Miranda Priestly" landed in print, she never spoke about the rumors or innuendo that flew around her name, or the names of ex-husbands or friends in her association. She simply went about her business of controlling the international fashion universe, as she has for the past twenty years.
My, how times have changed.
Tuesday morning the story broke (and no one could have been as stunned as I) that Ms. Priestly was involved in a love affair with her much younger and equally beautiful former assistant, Andy Sachs. And to my amazement, Miranda wanted to deliver some facts about their relationship, to none other than me. I leave it to you to decide why she made her choice; I have my own suspicions, obviously. But Miranda was open and candid in our talk, and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've done in recent memory.
"When I first met Andrea, she was uncouth. Dreadful hair, ridiculous shoes, and her clothes, my god. Disastrous is hardly the word for it." Tell us how you really feel, Miranda.
"Geez, you couldn't have been a little nicer?" Andy griped.
"I was being honest."
"Whatever," Andy muttered.
"She learned very quickly though, and became indispensable to the magazine, and to me professionally. I stress the word professionally, because while I saw great potential in Andrea, there was no personal attachment. I paid her to do a job, which she did extremely well. Nothing, I repeat, nothing whatsoever went on between us during her time at Runway. She quit rather suddenly, in fact, during a very stressful time, and for many months I regretted my treatment of her."
I mentioned the divorce from the second Mr. Priestly.
"Yes. Stephen felt it was time to move on, and I'm sure you're aware he remarried only a few weeks after our divorce was finalized, to Celia Van Patten."
Rings a bell, Miranda. Everyone knows they were gallivanting around the East Village reliving their glory days long before the papers were signed, or even served.
"What?" Andy exclaimed. "Is that true?"
Miranda waved her hand. "He did me a favor. I don't even think about it anymore."
"I'm kicking him in the nuts next time I see him."
"You can hire your own attorneys, then."
Fast forward a year and change.
"I kept track of Andrea's work, of course; she'd been very well-received during her year at the paper. I will admit that I brought her writing to the attention of Shannon Bartholemew at the Livingston Foundation. Andrea won the prestigious Livingston Award six months ago, and while I was on the panel, I had not seen her since Paris."
"Did you really not see me that day after I interviewed at the Mirror?" Andy asked. "In front of Elias-Clarke?"
"I saw you," Miranda said. "You caught me by surprise."
"You didn't smile though."
Miranda traced a fingernail across the top of Andy's hand. "I've made up for it since then."
Andy's toes curled inside her shoes. "True."
I asked Miranda if she set out to nab the gorgeous creature immediately when they met again.
"Andrea is a beautiful, vibrant woman. I won't say that I had a particular intention of becoming involved with her, but I was intrigued. We stayed in touch following the award presentation, and spent a good deal of time together. I came to know her in a different way than I had when she worked for me, and what I saw fascinated me. She really is remarkable."
"Aw, that's sweet."
Miranda rolled her eyes.
I had to know how her daughters reacted to the news.
"They decided Andrea might be a good match for me long before anything ever happened. Apparently lesbian relationships are quite the rage on television for young adults these days, a fact for which I should be grateful."
So the kids are alright. But how about everyone else?
"The staff at Runway could not be more supportive. Andrea's family has been extremely gracious. And the girls' father has been an absolute angel."
"Miranda, that's a total lie."
"Well, he hasn't threatened to sue. I thought if I publicly said he was fine with it, he'd leave us alone. It's not as though he can really do anything."
"Except stir up trouble."
"That's why I pay Jacob a ridiculous amount of money, darling. Don't worry for a moment about Jeremy. He'll get over it."
How has Andrea dealt with being thrown into the public eye so suddenly?
"It may seem sudden to the rest of the world, but we expected it long ago. As quiet as we've been, we haven't exactly been sneaking around. Andrea kept her own apartment but spends a large quantity of her limited spare time with me and the girls."
And how about life under the paparazzi microscope?
"We've survived. I look forward to the day that we'll be able to walk to our respective places of work without interference. And speaking of work, I'd like to mention that Andrea's talent has been well-rewarded at The Mirror. She recently received a promotion, and will be expanding her duties far beyond those of a typical reporter of her age and experience."
Miranda proceeded to insist that I include the news of Andrea's promotion. Who am I to say no? It was too adorable.
"Oh, Miranda, you really are adorable," Andy teased.
"I cannot believe she used that word."
"You didn't have to talk about my job."
"I thought it was only right."
Suffice it to say, even if the Ice Queen planned out every word she said beforehand--
"Which you did," Andy said.
"Of course. One must always be prepared."
--she sounded both honest and serious about this relationship. I haven't spoken in depth with the notoriously private Priestly before yesterday, but our conversation was far beyond my expectations. And I should say now, thank you for your sincerity, Miranda. Good for you.
Something tells me, the ultimate cynic, that Miranda Priestly might have found love. We should all be so lucky.
Andy sat back, impressed. A little embarrassed, but impressed. "It's good. Detailed, but not really. Do you think the paps will back off now?"
"No. Soon, I think. They'll get bored following us to and from work. But there is something that I'd like to ask you about. Something that will put you right in the line of fire, if you choose to accept it."
"Sounds like a mission impossible," Andy joked. "I'm all ears."
Miranda swallowed, and touched her neck the way she did when she was nervous. Hmm. Interesting. "I'd like to ask if you'd attend the gala this year with me."
Andy blinked slowly, twice. "The benefit? At the Met?" she asked.
A nod was her reply. "It's in a few months. I've shifted Emily to art production, and Jane's only just started interviewing applicants, and I'm already concerned about the flowers--"
"Yes," Andy said.
"Yes," Miranda repeated, tapping the arm of her glasses against her bottom lip.
"I'll go with you. Of course! And don't worry, I'll know every name on the guest list. I'll memorize them all, and whisper them in your ear, just like before. Except this time I'll get to hold your hand while I do it."
Miranda sniffed. "Perhaps."
Andy controlled her grin. She'd convince Miranda it would be fine for them to hold hands. She had faith.
Folding the newspaper, she sidled up to Miranda and took a seat on her lap. Ignoring Miranda's exaggerated grunt at taking her full weight, she kissed her. It was a good kiss, and well deserved, as far as Andy was concerned. An invitation to the social event of the season was worth it.
"Oh, my eyes!" Cassidy squealed, just as she crossed the kitchen threshold. "Come on! Ick!"
"Shut it, Cass," Caroline said. "We never caught Mom and Stephen kissing," she hissed under her breath, but not softly enough to keep Andy from hearing. "Sorry, we'll come back."
"It's okay," Andy called out. "Just got carried away. I promise, it won't happen again."
"Good," Cassidy said, stomping in and throwing herself into a chair at the kitchen table. "I do not need to see that."
Caroline's lips, meanwhile, were tipped up in a tiny smile. She shrugged her shoulders endearingly.
Andy used the table as leverage to stand up. "I'm heading to work. And Roy's all yours today."
"It's flurrying out," Miranda said.
"I know. Thought it might be fun to make the guys walk twenty blocks in the snow. I predict they'll only last four."
"I say seven," Cassidy offered.
"Five," Caroline said.
Miranda narrowed her gaze. "Two."
"You're all on," Andy said.
"But what do we get if we win?" Cassidy asked.
Andy looked up at the ceiling, and thought about it. "Cupcakes."
Cassidy rolled her eyes. "That's boring."
"For breakfast. Tomorrow's Saturday. We can watch Star Wars and eat cupcakes."
There were two shouts of excitement, and one groan of exasperation. "You're teaching them to be slovenly sugar addicts," Miranda griped. "Why do I put up with it?"
Andy licked her lips. "If you win, we can talk about your prize later," she said softly, for Miranda's ears only. The girls were too busy cheering to catch Andy's smoldering expression.
Miranda pursed her lips. "Off you go then. I'll expect a phone call with the results as soon as they're in."
"Absolutely." She gave the girls quick hugs and grabbed her bag. "See you tonight."
Miranda walked her out to the hallway, and kissed her. "Have a good day."
"I will." She brushed her fingers through Miranda's hair. "I love you."
With a gentle laugh, Miranda pulled her close. "I love you too, Andrea. Very much."
Andy held her tightly. "See you soon."
With a nod, Miranda stepped back, and returned to the kitchen.
After retrieving a cute porkpie hat from the hall closet, Andy wrapped up in her warmest coat and pulled on Doc Martens that Miranda would have burned if she saw them. But it was Friday, and she was going to walk to work. She hoped Miranda wouldn't be angry if her outfit showed up in Go Fug Yourself.
She opened the door only six minutes later than she'd told the photographers earlier. That should earn her some points. They perked up at her appearance, and she ignored them, snuggling into her scarf. Even with cameras flashing in her face, she could not help but smile. Snow fell on her cheeks, and the cold, brisk air made her skin tingle.
It was going to be a wonderful day.
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