DISCLAIMER: I think it's pretty much fair to say that fandom has far exceeded canon and these characters barely resemble the originals.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the Live Journal's dvlwears_prada community's Valentine's Day 2009 Challenge. This story is set in the Masqueverse and takes place after the events of Louche. A milioni grazie to the best beta reader in the whole world mercurychkita.
EASTER EGG ALERT: Names are very important and I always carefully choose the names I create for my stories. For this story, each of the original names has something in common. If you can figure out what that is, I'll give you a virtual cookie. Do not count people who exist in real life, such as Will Dana, managing editor of Rolling Stone, and photographer Annie Leibovitz. Part of the challenge is figuring out who is real and who is not. If you think you know the answer, or if you want to know the answer, click HERE.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
DEDICATION: For hayseed_42.
How Miranda Priestly Would Dress David
By Susan L. Carr
Andy Sachs was used to editorial meetings. She had been in quite a few even though she was still at the relative start of her career. There had been hundreds in college, first as a reporter and then editor-in-chief for The Daily Northwestern, where she ran the meetings herself. She had even attended some at Runway where she got to witness and learn from the wonder that was Miranda Priestly at work. Since coming to Rolling Stone, she had attended even more, on a weekly and almost daily basis with Leo, senior editor and her direct supervisor, but today's meeting marked the first time since starting her new job that her name was called out by the managing editor of the magazine.
"Andy," he said and she glanced at him in surprise. "I want you in charge of the team going to the Milan fashion week at the beginning of March. Think you can handle it?"
Andy blinked in astonishment. "Sure, boss," she said with every ounce of confidence she had gained at Runway. "No problem."
"Good. Leo will give you more details after the meeting. Okay, next item "
Andy managed to contain her squeals until she made it to the ladies' room after the meeting. When she got herself under control, she called Miranda's office.
"Hey, Em," she said into the phone. "She available?"
"Hello Andy. She's got just a few minutes, Annie's on her way upstairs for a meeting," Emily said. "Hold for Miranda."
Andy smiled at the familiar catch phrase, which she knew Emily said by rote rather than politeness. Hold for Miranda and Miranda Priestly's office still rolled through her dreams on occasion.
"Good morning, darling," Miranda said a few moments later when she picked up the line. "Is everything all right?"
"Everything's golden!" Andy said excitedly. "Will just gave me the Milan assignment in fact, I'm leading the team so that means we'll get to go together."
"That is good news, Andrea," Miranda said and Andy could hear how pleased Miranda was by the tone of her voice. Neither of them had been looking forward to the time spent apart and with the twins scheduled to go to Connecticut for their spring break that week, Andy had been dreading it. Although both of them would be insanely busy in Milan, at least they'd be together. "I'm happy William is giving you more responsibility."
"Yeah, me too," Andy said and then reality decided to sink in. "More responsibility. Oh my god," she said suddenly panicking. "That means if something goes wrong, I'm screwed."
Miranda snorted. "Stop being ridiculous, darling. If you can handle my entourage in Paris, you can certainly handle a small group from Rolling Stone. Do you know who you're bringing yet?"
"No, just got the assignment a few minutes ago," she said. "I'm meeting with Leo next to get the details."
"Then go do that, because Annie's just arrived to discuss the cover shoot for August," Miranda said. "We'll talk more at dinner this evening."
"All right," she replied. "Give her my regards."
"I will," Miranda said. "And Andrea "
"Thanks Miranda," she said with a huge grin on her face. "Love you."
"You as well," Miranda replied and even though she knew her lover's words were sincere, Andy could already tell Miranda had moved back into work mode as she hung up the phone.
With a deep breath and a quick check of her appearance in the mirror, she got back into work mode herself.
Miranda was right about one thing, Andy reflected hours later as she walked up the stairs to the townhouse. Handling things for five people was a lot different than handling them for the crowd at Runway, but she still had a lot of work to do and all that on top of her other editorial duties. She had gotten a lot done today, but the amount of work to do was still enormous.
The twins greeted her warmly with a hug from each and a kiss from their mother. Andy dropped her laptop off in the study and then rushed to help Francesca serve dinner. As always the cook protested and tried to shoo Andy out of her kitchen, but by now Andy was used to evading her and to giggles from the girls and eye rolls from Miranda, she always made serving dinner fun.
After Francesca had taken her leave, the four of them settled down to eat, when Miranda repeated her question from earlier that day about who Andy was taking to Milan.
"Two writers and a photographer," she said. "I'm hoping to get Vittoria Colonna, since she's covered fashion for us before, but I haven't gotten confirmation yet. The other writer is more experienced on the music side and he jumped at the opportunity."
"No editorial assistant?" Miranda asked with raised eyebrows. "Certainly you'll need one."
Andy shook her head. "Not in the budget," she said. "I'm hoping to save a bit by bunking with you, if that's all right?" Andy smiled at the way Miranda rolled her eyes. "And I'd feel guilty about staying at a better hotel than the other guys, so I'll have to book them there. Um, where are we staying by the way?"
"Ask Emily for those tiresome details, Andrea," Miranda said, waving one hand. "If you're so concerned about your budget, then simply avoid the airfare altogether. We're using Irv's jet and there's enough room for you and your little group. I'll trust you to advise your people to keep their gonzo shenanigans to a minimum, at least until we land in Milan."
"You're not taking the entire Runway crew, are you?" Andy asked, deciding to ignore Miranda's jibe about Rolling Stone's journalists. "I know Irv's jet is big, but not that big."
"No no," Miranda said. "It's just Nigel, Emily and Serena in addition to us."
"How'd you manage to score Irv's jet anyway?" she asked and was thrilled when Miranda's face morphed into her chilling shark imitation smile. Andy loved that smile, especially when it wasn't directed at her.
"Oh, I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of mileage out of that little scene I witnessed on the balcony that evening for a very long time to come," Miranda drawled. "In this case, air mileage."
Andy let out a hearty guffaw as she remembered wanting to smack the little man for being so stupid as to make a pass at her.
"What scene, Mom?" Caroline asked.
"Oh, it was just Mr. Ravitz behaving badly, dear," Miranda said. "Sometimes people in positions of power tend to forget the responsibility that comes with it."
"He needs to take a lesson from Spiderman," Cassidy said and Andy laughed, having had to endure countless hours watching the movies with the twin and her crush.
"Exactly, especially since Irv is nowhere near as cute as Tobey," Andy said and then turned back to Miranda. "Won't the rest of the Runway crew be jealous if you take Rolling Stone's people instead of them?"
Miranda laughed. "Have you forgotten Paris so quickly, Andrea?" she asked. "My employees look forward to not having to be confined in my presence for long hours at a time. Nigel, Emily and Serena being the exception, of course, because they're friends."
Andy nodded. "Okay, that makes sense," she said and then smiled as she thought about this new turn of events. "So yeah that'll make things a lot easier. I'll give Julius a call later and see if he wants to go. He's helped me out before and I know he can handle the details. Bonus, he studied to be a videographer so he can help Peter out. I want to get some interview footage for coverage online."
"And an assistant will free you up to handle the important editorial duties," Miranda said. "So you'll have a tad more time to spend with me."
"Wow, Andy," Caroline said. "You finally get your own assistant."
Andy laughed. "Well, it's hardly the same as your mom, sweetie." Andy said. "Miranda runs an entire major magazine. I'm covering just one event. That's a fraction of what your Mom is responsible for."
"Still, you'll be covering a fashion event, Andrea, and I expect only the best from you," Miranda said with a wicked glint in her eye.
"Oh great, Miranda," Andy said, rolling her eyes. "Way to put the pressure on."
Miranda simply smirked while the girls laughed.
When Roy brought them to the airport in Teterboro early the morning of their departure for Italy, Andy was glad to see all of her crew from the magazine except one mingling with the group from Runway. Emily had piping hot Starbucks waiting for them.
"Have you been checked through security?" Miranda asked Emily.
"Not yet, Miranda," the assistant replied. "The captain said they'll wait until we're all arrived so they can then escort us to the jet." She turned to Andy and said, "Good morning, Andy."
"Hey Em," Andy said and grabbed one of the coffees. "Thanks so much."
"You're welcome," Emily replied.
Before Miranda could start complaining about the delay, the final member of Andy's group arrived. Andy was very happy to have secured Vittoria Colonna for this assignment since she was one of the premier freelance fashion writers in the business, but on the other hand, she was a little insecure about working with such high class talent. She knew from her time at Northwestern it was the most talented people who gave her the most headaches, so she hoped Vittoria would prove an exception and so far she had been agreeable.
"Miranda!" the woman exclaimed as she moved in for an air kiss. "Sembrate splendidi."
"Sei molto gentile, Vittoria," Miranda replied sweetly and with an inward groan Andy instantly realized Miranda hated Vittoria. She caught Nigel's eye and pulled him aside while the two women continued to chatter away in Italian.
"Why didn't she tell me?" Andy asked him in exasperation. "Miranda knew I was trying to get Vittoria for this assignment even before she invited us to go with you guys."
Nigel shrugged. "Miranda has been treating Vittoria like the plague ever since taking over Runway. Back then, Vittoria published an article in Vogue predicting Runway would wither and die under Miranda's hands."
"Ouch!" Andy said. "Boy was she wrong."
Nigel chuckled. "Indeed," he said. "Vittoria apologized of course, but you know our Miranda. Even decades are not enough time for forgiveness."
"So why change that now?" Andy asked. "Miranda must know that Vittoria would use this opportunity to try to get back into her good graces."
Again, Nigel shrugged. "I'm sure she has her reasons," he said glancing around the small waiting room. He passed over Emily and Serena sitting quietly to where Julius and Peter were going over the camera equipment before finally settling on the last member of Andy's entourage. "Perhaps it simply amuses her to dangle a carrot in front of Vittoria's face? Or perhaps she just trusts you as Vittoria's editor to make sure anything Vittoria writes is fair and unbiased?"
Andy bit her lip. "You're right," she said. "I'm not going to worry about it. Anything between Miranda and Vittoria is none of my business. Besides, Miranda and I have an agreement not to interfere with each other's careers. I'm just going to do my job the best way I can."
"Marvelous," he said. "Now, are you going to introduce me to that gorgeous young Latin beauty you're dangling in front of my face?"
Andy smiled sweetly. "Oh, you mean Domenico, my other writer? One of the hottest rising stars of the Miami music scene?"
"Darling, if his writing is as hot as his physique, I'm sure they're singing his praises from South Beach to West Hollywood."
Andy laughed and took Nigel's arm to make introductions.
As Andy expected, they all hit the ground running. After pausing to shower and change at the hotel, Andy and Miranda went their separate ways Miranda to the fashion week kick-off party hosted by the house of Valentino and Andy to the party hosted by Diesel. At the event, Andy managed to set up meetings with many of the famous musicians who were in town for the fashion shows and associated parties. She didn't know if it was her press card with Rolling Stone on it or her infamy as Miranda Priestly's girlfriend and frankly she didn't care but she was pleased to find that many of them wanted to talk to her as much as she wanted to talk to them.
She was just finishing up an on-the-spot interview with Snoop Dogg that Andy was planning on uploading to the blog in the morning, when she noticed Miranda standing off to the side with the other on-lookers. As Peter shut down the video camera, Miranda came forward and kissed Snoop on both cheeks.
"How nice to see you, dear," she said fondly. "I was hoping we'd meet this week."
Andy always was amazed at Miranda's relationships with some of the more outlandish celebrities, especially with someone as notorious as Snoop Dogg, but it was just another part of her personality that Andy adored. Andy had asked her about it one time and Miranda explained that fashion meant more than just wearing designer clothes and it was those individuals who created their own signature styles that had earned her respect. After tonight's little chat with him, Andy certainly had to admit that Snoop definitely fit that definition.
While Miranda chatted with Snoop, she gave Julius her final instructions for the night, at last freeing him and the others to take the rest of the evening off. Finally she rejoined Miranda who was now free and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Hey," she said with a huge smile on her face. "Didn't expect you here. How was the Valentino party?"
"As usual," Miranda said with a sigh. "The same boring people showing off their new plastic surgery scars. Be glad you were here tonight. This looks like it was much more interesting."
"It was," Andy said with a grin. "We got some great interview footage and contacts for more the rest of this week."
"I'm glad you're doing the online interviews yourself, Andrea," Miranda said. "The site will get more attention since you have a very efficient way of getting people to open up to you. You ask exactly the right questions."
Andy felt as if her smile would split her face. Miranda wasn't one to give out gratuitous comments, but still she said, "You're just saying that because you get to sleep with me tonight."
"I'd get to sleep with you tonight regardless," Miranda pointed out. "And speaking of sleep "
Andy nodded. "Yeah, let's go," she said, taking Miranda's arm. "It feels like we've been on the move for the full week instead of just one day."
"Welcome to the big leagues, darling," Miranda said with a fond smile.
As they left the party filled with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the music and fashion industries, Andy felt lucky to be leaving with the most beautiful woman there.
The remainder of the week proved to be more of the same mad dashes around the city. On occasion, Andy and Miranda's schedules managed to coincide and they would get to spend a few precious minutes enjoying each other's company. Other than that, the most time they had to themselves were the few hours of sleep they could catch in their hotel suite. However, on their next to last night in Milan, they managed to carve out a couple of hours between the last show of the day and the first party of the evening. Rather than going out and having to deal with the press or random acquaintances, they decided to have a quiet dinner alone in the suite.
Andy had just hung up the phone with room service when there was a knock at the door. Miranda, freshly showered and looking remarkably relaxed in her gray bathrobe, glanced up from the itinerary she was reviewing.
"That was quick," she quipped. "I'm happy to see service at this hotel is improving."
Laughing, Andy went to answer the door. "I don't think it's that good. Maybe it's Emily?"
"Better not be," Miranda said. "I ordered her to take Serena out to dinner. If I had to spend one more minute looking at the pathetic looks they've been giving each other "
"Oh please," Andy said. "Like you and I don't give each other the same looks."
Miranda rolled her eyes as Andy opened the door. To Andy's surprise, Vittoria was standing outside.
"Vittoria," Andy said. "Something wrong? I thought you were working on your feature."
"No, nothing's wrong, Andy," the Italian woman said. "I was wondering if I could talk to you about something."
Andy glanced back into the living room and saw that Miranda was already retreating to the bedroom. When the door closed behind her, she opened the door wider for Vittoria. "Sure. Come in," she said. "But I hope it's quick. I just ordered dinner and wanted to relax a bit before we have to leave for the Raffaello party tonight."
"Sì, sì. non c'è problema!" she said and looked around the suite as if taking in every detail. Andy suspected she was doing just that. "Just a few minutes of your time, please."
"Okay," Andy said and led the way over to the sitting area. "What's up?"
"I would like to schedule an interview with Miranda," Vittoria stated.
Andy raised her eyebrows in surprise. "For Rolling Stone?" she asked.
"Sì," Vittoria answered.
"Why?" Andy asked and watched as Vittoria's usually pale face flushed.
"Why?" Vittoria exclaimed. "Well, Miranda is the most influential woman in fashion "
"I know she is, Vittoria," Andy interrupted. "But what does that have to do with music?"
"There are many musicians who design their own lines and look to her for inspiration and advice," Vittoria said and Andy inwardly smiled and wondered if that was the best Vittoria could come up with.
"This is true," Andy said. "And that might be something the magazine could feature in the future, but I think right now what we have in the works is perfect for the scope of our assignment. You've done a great job this week and I'm sure that Will is going to be very pleased with your work."
Vittoria sat for a moment. "Yes, I have no doubt he will be pleased, but I just thought that since you and I are working together on this assignment and you're Miranda's "
Andy decided it was time to wrap up this conversation before Vittoria dug herself in any deeper. "I don't allow any aspects of my personal life to influence my professional life," she said firmly. "Miranda allowed us to fly with her because it suited her own agenda and the seats would have gone to waste, but that's all it was Vittoria. Now, you've got your interview with Madonna tonight and I want you to focus on how the fashion on display this week might influence her costume styles for her upcoming tour," Andy said. "Think you can handle that? Or should I ask Domenico to fill in?"
Vittoria opened her mouth, closed it and then paused again. Finally, she said, "I can handle it, Andy."
"Great," Andy said and gave her a warm smile. "Was there anything else? Did you want to go over your notes before tonight? Dinner should be here soon, but "
"No no," Vittoria interrupted and rose from her seat. "I think I'll just go prepare some more."
"Good idea," Andy said and led the way to the door. "I'll meet up with you guys in the lobby at nine-thirty."
Vittoria nodded and walked out the door. Before Andy could close it, a hotel porter carrying several packages approached and she waved him inside, where he quickly placed them down on the settee.
Miranda exited the bedroom just as the porter left. "What is this, Grand Central Station?" she asked.
Andy laughed and picked up a cream-colored envelope that had arrived with the packages with Miranda's name written on the front. She handed the envelope to Miranda as she went to open a bottle of wine in anticipation of their dinner.
"Ah," Miranda said as she read the note. "It's from Stefano. He mentioned this afternoon he was sending over a few things."
"Sweet," Andy said, already looking forward to going through the samples.
"And he asks that I remind you," Miranda pulled off her reading glasses and looked at Andy with a smirk on her face, "that 'Gabbana' is spelled with two 'B's and one 'N'."
Andy rolled her eyes and set the wine on the table. Before she could snipe back at Miranda, there was another knock on the door. "Let's hope this time it's room service," she said.
"Indeed," Miranda smiled.
The food was exquisite, but as usual Andy enjoyed the company more. They discussed the various styles revealed at the shows and Miranda's ideas for upcoming issues. Her present assignment aside, Andy found that now she didn't have to constantly obsess over fashion every day, she actually enjoyed it and appreciated it a lot more. Finally Miranda turned the conversation around to their earlier interruption.
"You handled your journalist well," she said, pouring the last of the wine into their glasses.
Andy stared at her. "Did you have one of those sound amplifier gizmos surgically implanted in your ears like a CIA operative or something?"
Miranda smirked. "You'll never get anywhere in publishing if you don't learn to keep your ear to the ground, Andrea," she said.
"Or at least at keyholes," Andy grumbled and then gave Miranda a wry smirk. "But yeah, you really think so I mean, about Vittoria?"
"Indeed," Miranda said with a nod. "Maybe you were not as ruthless as I would have been, but you were effective, which is what counts in the end. She is a talented writer and you should use that to your advantage."
"She is good," Andy said. "I had no idea of your years-old feud when I asked her to write for me."
"And if you had, would it have influenced your decision to use her?" Miranda asked.
"Of course not," Andy said. "She was the best I could get. I'm not going to let the magazine suffer just because my girlfriend once had a schoolyard fight with her."
Miranda smirked "Then there's hope for you yet, Andrea. Just take my advice and learn some more Machiavellian tactics. They'll serve you well."
"I'll take that under consideration, Miranda, at least while we're here in Italy," she laughed and then smiled. "This week has been great. Crazy, but great. I just wish we had an extra day."
"You're not looking forward to seeing the girls?" Miranda asked.
"Of course I am," Andy answered. "I meant this is the first time I've been to Italy and we're just so close."
Andy felt a blush as she shrugged. "It's silly, but when I was a kid I read a book about Michelangelo and always dreamed about visiting the city where he grew up."
"Florence is beautiful," Miranda agreed. "Although the weather is dismal this time of year."
"Yeah," Andy said. "I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to visit. With the girls, too."
"That certainly is feasible," Miranda said with a smile. "Perhaps this summer before it gets too hot?"
"Speaking of hot " Andy glanced at the pendulum clock sitting on the fireplace mantle. "What time is your driver picking you up tonight?" Andy asked.
"Nine-fifteen," Miranda replied, glancing at where Andy was looking and then back with a raised eyebrow. "We still have plenty of time before we have to get ready. Did you have something in mind?"
"I might have something in mind," Andy agreed in a low voice and a small smile as Miranda's eyes began to darken to her favorite shade of blue. "That is, if you're agreeable."
"I might be open to a few suggestions," Miranda said, clearing her throat as her voice seemed to hitch. "Depends on what you had in mind, of course."
Andy stood up from the table and offered her hand to Miranda. "Oh, just a few of your favorite things, I'm sure."
Miranda took her hand and stood up, smiling as Andy pulled her close. "Only a few?"
"Or more," Andy grinned. "Perhaps this will give you an idea of what I have in mind?" she leaned forward and captured Miranda's lips with her own, gently kissing her and gradually deepening it until Miranda parted her lips with a soft sigh. Andy then gently caressed the inside of Miranda's mouth with her tongue and idly thought how she never got tired of kissing Miranda.
"That's " Miranda's eyes remained closed as she pulled back and breathed against Andy's mouth. "That's a very good start, Andrea."
"Mmm," Andy agreed. "So come with me and I'll show you what else I have in mind."
"That's a very good idea," Miranda whispered and allowed Andy to lead her to the bedroom.
Early the next morning, Julius was waiting for Andy as she came out of their suite, showered and dressed and ready to take Milan by storm for their last full day in the city. He handed her a copy of the updated schedule.
"Any major changes?" Andy asked, looking over the papers.
"Our departure time tomorrow's been pushed up a few hours," he said. "Emily gave me a call about it early this morning."
"Any reason why?" she asked.
"She didn't say and I didn't ask," he answered.
"Right," Andy said glancing up at him with a smile. "You don't ask Miranda anything and that means by extension, Emily either."
Julius laughed and gave her the once over. "You look hot today," he said in appreciation.
"Thanks," she said. "I want to film as many interviews as we can today so we can spread them out over the next week. Did Fergie confirm for 10:15?"
"Yes," he answered paging through his notes. "She'll give you five minutes after the Iceberg show. Kelly Clarkson immediately follows at 10:25."
"Good," Andy said and smiled at her co-workers as they finally reached the car waiting for them. "Okay guys, let's go knock 'em dead."
The last day in Milan proved to be the busiest for both Andy and Miranda and by the time they made it back to the hotel that night, they barely grunted at each other before falling into bed.
The next morning, Emily woke them up at an obscene hour, but at least she came bearing hot coffee. By the time Andy and Miranda had dressed, Emily had miraculously packed not only Miranda's luggage, but Andy's as well and made arrangements for all of the samples they'd received to be delivered to the plane. Before Andy felt like she was fully awake, they were enjoying a hot continental breakfast on board the jet and taking off.
"Wow, what a week," Andy said. She and Miranda were sitting next to each other and across from Emily and Serena. Now that fashion week was over, everyone was giving in to their exhaustion and allowing themselves the first free minutes of relaxation.
"I think everything went quite well," Emily said. "We both scored some lovely couture." She gave Serena a smile and squeezed her hand.
"Oh that's great," Andy said. "I haven't really had a chance yet to see what was sent over."
"Most of the houses sent some lovely things in your size, Andrea," Miranda said.
Serena nodded. "Alessandra told me she sent a lovely pleated silk dress that I think will be perfect for the GLAAD awards coming up."
"Oh, is it pretty?" Andy asked.
Emily snorted. "You're lucky you're the size of a cow, Andy," she said and Andy could see the mirth in her eyes. "I saw it when I was packing and nearly snatched it for myself."
"Ha!" Andy said sticking out her tongue. "Lucky me, then."
Miranda chuckled. Just then the pilot's voice came over the intercom asking them to put on their seatbelts in anticipation of their landing.
"Landing?" Andy asked confused, looking out the window. "We just took off."
"Mmm," Miranda said putting a hand on Andy's arm. "Just a small stop, darling. I hope you don't mind."
"Stop where?" Andy asked and in the corner of her eye she could see Emily smirking. "And for what?"
"Patience dear," Miranda said and Andy could tell she'd get no more out of her until she was good and ready.
Once the plane had landed, Miranda looked at Emily and said, "I'll trust you to make sure everyone will be back here on time, Emily."
"Yes Miranda," she said, but Andy could tell Miranda's orders no longer held the same level of fear for Emily that they used to.
The pilot opened the door for them and Miranda looked at Andy and asked, "Shall we?"
Andy followed her down the steps. Waiting on the tarmac was a small private car with a tall, dark-haired driver standing next to it.
"Buongiorno, Signora Miranda," he said and then tipped his hat in Andy's direction. "Buongiorno, Signora Andrea. I am Tomasso, your driver for the day."
"Driver?" Andy asked. "Where are we?"
Miranda smiled at her. "Benvenuto a Firenze, il mio amore."
"Florence?" Andy said, her face breaking into a wide grin. "Really?"
"Really," Miranda said and turned to Tomasso. "Emily told you where we wished to go, Tomasso?"
"Sì, sì," he replied. "First stop, Casa Buonarroti. Then San Lorenzo."
"We'll have time for the Accademia?" Miranda asked sternly.
"O sì, ovviamente. The curator is expecting you and promised to be available for any questions you may have." Tomasso said. "I made reservations for you so there will be no wait."
"Then shall we go?" Miranda said and Tomasso rushed to open the door.
During the ride from the airport to the city center, Andy felt like she was a traveler moving backwards through time. Florence exhibited that wonderful contrast of many European cities, mixing the old with the new, but this was Florence and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, which paved the way to modern western culture.
"Wow, Miranda," she whispered, not taking her eyes off the passing scenery. "Just think of the people who lived here: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Galileo, Dante, Raphael "
"Not to mention Salvatore Ferragamo and Guccio Gucci," Miranda said and Andy burst out laughing.
They spent an hour at Michelangelo's family home and while Andy wanted to touch Michelangelo's relief of the Madonna of the Stairs and the Battle of the Centaurs, not even Miranda's influence would allow that. After, Tomasso drove them to the Basilica of San Lorenzo and they headed straight for the Medici Chapels where Michelangelo's sculptures of Twilight and Aurora flanked the magnificent sculpture of his first patron, Duke Lorenzo, who was entombed at that spot.
By the time they left San Lorenzo, it was nearly noon and Tomasso dropped them off at a small café in the Piazza del Duomo, where they ate a light lunch in the shadow of the famous cathedral.
"I'm sorry we don't have more time to explore everything, Andrea," Miranda said as she sipped her mineral water. "We would need several weeks to make just a dent."
"It's okay, Miranda," she said. "What we've seen so far has been wonderful. Everything here is so beautiful."
"Yes," Miranda said, her eyes shining lovingly into Andy's. "Everything here is very beautiful."
Andy's breath caught and she found herself blushing.
As Tomasso promised, the curator of the Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno was waiting for their arrival and led them through the galleries, first showing them works by Botticelli and Ghirandaio as well as Giambologna's original plaster for the Rape of the Sabine Women, which even took Miranda's breath away. Finally, he led them to a long gallery where Andy immediately recognized Michelangelo's Saint Matthew, the Slaves and the Four Prisoners.
Curiously, several museum guides were herding people out of the gallery. Miranda took Andy's hand and started walking again. Watching the departing tourists, Andy wasn't paying attention to where they were going until Miranda softly whispered her name.
Andy looked at her and saw that Miranda was not looking back. She followed her lover's gaze up and up and finally on to the face of a giant.
"Oh my god," Andy gasped.
"Yes," Miranda breathed.
Andy let her eyes roam up and down the 17-foot tall statue. "He's he's " she started, but for once in her life, words failed her.
"Magnificent," Miranda finished for her.
"Yeah." Andy started to walk around the statue, amazed at how David's eyes seemed to constantly follow her. "It's like like he's frozen in a nanosecond of time, just at that moment between thought and action."
"Yes," Miranda said and Andy could hear the admiration in her voice. "David stands tall and confident, full of the strength of his will and anger for those who would enslave his people. In the next moment, he will burst into action, putting all of what he is and what he knows he will become into making the perfect shot."
Andy stared at the statue some more. It was almost as if she could see the movement of the muscles under the skin and the blood flowing through his veins. "It's one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen," Andy said in awe.
"Before the Renaissance, people were made to believe they were foul creatures tainted by original sin, doomed to live their lives on Earth suffering in misery with only a slim chance of salvation," Miranda said as she moved to join Andy on her circuit around the statue. "Michelangelo believed that mankind was the ultimate perfection of all of God's creations, made in his own perfect image. In this one statue, Michelangelo gave Florence and all of Europe a symbol that said they were worthy of God's love. It inspired them to strive ever higher, going beyond the boundaries of mere flesh and blood."
Andy smiled at her. "And Michelangelo did all of that before the age of thirty."
"See what you can accomplish, Andrea?" Miranda said, returning the smile.
"With you as my inspiration, how can I go wrong?"
They spent some more time just basking in the glory of David and then Andy had an amusing thought as they moved around to the front of the statue.
"Hey Miranda," she said with a gleam in her eye. "I was just wondering how you would dress David?"
"Dress David?" Miranda asked.
"Sure," Andy replied. "You know, which designer du jour would make the best clothes for him?"
"Are you mad, Andrea?" Miranda asked and while her tone was stern, Andy could tell she was joking along with her. "There are simply no designers alive who could possibly improve on this masterpiece. Not even Valentino himself. Michelangelo said, 'what spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?' David is exactly as he should be."
"He is that," Andy agreed with an appreciative look. "Miranda, I just thought of something. David was Jewish, right?"
"Yes, Andrea, people in the Old Testament generally were," Miranda answered dryly. "Why?"
Andy smirked and cocked her head toward the statue. "He sure doesn't look Jewish to me."
Miranda looked where Andy was pointing and barked out laughter. "No, he certainly does not. Oh well, the Christians of Michelangelo's day were on their way to enlightenment, but they still had a long way to go, especially when it came to accepting other's religious views."
Together they enjoyed the warm moment until at last Miranda said. "Are you ready to go? We have one more stop."
Andy nodded, still gazing at the statue. "Yes, but I'll never forget this moment, Miranda," she said, finally turning to look into Miranda's perfect eyes. "And I can't tell you how happy I am that I was here with you."
"I am too, Andrea," Miranda said.
Another drive and once again Tomasso dropped them off in front of a church, this time the Basilica of Santa Croce. Some of the most famous Florentines were buried here and many of the names Andy had mentioned before marked this as their final resting place. This time, Miranda hadn't arranged ahead of time to clear the tourists away, but still Andy didn't mind as they stood in wonder and admiration in front of the tombs of Galileo, Dante and Machiavelli, one of Miranda's personal heroes much to Andy's amusement. Miranda whispered the words inscribed on his cenotaph in Latin.
"For so great a name, no praise is adequate," Andy translated. "One day, your name too will be legend, Miranda."
Miranda glanced at her with a raised eyebrow. "Now tell me something I do not know."
Laughing, they made their way to the final tomb they wished to visit, that of the great Michelangelo himself.
"He knew he was the greatest artist of his time and that his work would live on forever," Miranda said after they had stood there for many minutes. "But still he was humble enough to know that his skill was but a gift from God. For Michelangelo, his art was his religion, worshipping God's creations by giving them form and substance and showing God Himself that mankind recognized His place in the universe."
"You know Miranda, now that I think about it, you and Michelangelo are a lot alike," Andy said.
"Yeah, let's see," Andy counted off on her fingers. "Arrogant, irritable, impatient and of course, obsessed with perfection," Andy laughed at Miranda's classic eye roll. "And we can't forget that funny nose thing you both have going."
Miranda turned a glare on her. "I was born with this nose, Andrea," she said. "Michelangelo had his smashed in by a jealous rival."
Andy laughed. "I'm sure there are quite a few people out there in the fashion world who'd like to do the same to yours."
Miranda's lips finally quirked up into a smile. "No doubt you're right," she said. With a sigh, she glanced at her watch. "I regret we must get back to the plane."
"I know," Andy said. "It's okay, Miranda. I can't imagine having had a more perfect day than this one with you. That it was such a surprise made it even more special."
"Was Florence what you always dreamed it would be?"
"Nope," Andy said with a smirk. "It was so much better. Thank you."
"You're welcome, my darling," Miranda said, ignoring the swarming crowds around them and moving into Andy's arms. "And I can promise you that there will be many more wonderful and beautiful cities in the future for you to explore."
"As long as you're there," Andy said, "I'll be there."
And so it was in that spot, in the shadow of the tomb of one of the greatest men who ever lived, that Andy kissed the greatest woman who had given her the greatest gifts she could have imagined her heart, her soul, and best of all, her love.
"Oh thoughts that tempt us, idle, sweet and vain,
Where are ye, when a double death draws near,
One sure, one threatening an eternal loss?
Painting and sculpture now are no more gain
To still the soul turned to the Godhead dear,
Stretching great arms out to us from His cross."
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