DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Della Street
The scratching of Andy's pen stopped suddenly. "Me?" she said. Miranda expected her to go to this thing, too?
"I rather thought you might understand that 'the two of you' means the two of you," Miranda responded without looking up at her. "I continue to question the standards for an English degree at Northwestern."
Andrea looked over at Emily, but her colleague was, of course, offering no support.
"Miranda," Andy said hesitantly. "I can't."
Miranda drew off her glasses and looked up at her. "I'm sorry," she said. "You . . . can't?"
Andy's heart raced. This was a nightmare.
"Can't what?" Miranda continued. "Can't follow simple instructions? Can't do your job?" She slid her glasses back on and resumed her examination of the rough sketches on her desk. "Emily, contact Human Resources. You know what to look for." With a dismissive glance at her second assistant, she added, "And what not to look for."
Emily slid out of the room.
Miranda was firing her? Was it really happening this time?
"You don't need me at this," Andy tried urgently, but before she had finished the plea, she knew it was a mistake.
"Thank you for letting me know that," Miranda said coolly. "I feel like such an amateur on these things."
She was going to have to do this, and the thought of it made Andrea slightly ill. But the thought of being out of Miranda Priestly's employ was so much worse.
"There was . . . at the showroom . . . ." How to say this?
Miranda leaned back and studied her. "Ah, yes," she said. "I seem to recall hearing about a rather appalling breach of etiquette last week."
Emily must have mentioned it to Miranda. On their way back to the office, Andy had shared an outraged blow-by-blow with her co-worker who, frankly, hadn't cared. ("So he tried to screw you. How do you think half the girls here got their jobs?") Andy would never have considered saying anything to Miranda herself, although she had almost wanted to.
"'Breach of etiquette,'" Andy repeated. An understatement for describing the full-out groping by Lawrence Soto. "I guess that's one way to put it."
"I'm not talking about Lawrence," Miranda replied. "I'm talking about you."
"Me?" Oh my God, had this just gotten worse?
"When you are performing a task for me, even the rudimentary tasks within your range of expertise, you are acting as my representative," Miranda said. "What do you think would happen if word got out that I allowed one of my representatives to screech at a designer over some crude misunderstanding?"
"Misunderstanding?" Andy couldn't believe what she was hearing. Miranda just didn't know the whole story. Who knew what Emily had told her? "It wasn't," she said. She would have to talk fast. For all she knew, Emily was gleefully calling in the vacancy to HR at this very moment. "He . . . ." Oh, crap how to describe it to Miranda Priestly without using words like "hard on" or "ass"? It had been much easier railing to Emily about it. "He . . . . He wouldn't . . . ."
Her boss had already lost interest, or patience, that much was obvious, but she deigned to make one more observation. "Andrea," she said, as if lecturing a child, "do you seriously expect me to believe that, in a room full of flawless women, he would choose the fat girl?"
From outside the door, Andrea heard Emily titter, and Miranda returned to her inspection.
Andrea felt dizzy. Hurt at not being believed, at being reminded (again) that Miranda found her physically unattractive warred with a building anger. Lawrence Soto had crossed a line, which Miranda, if she cared about anyone other than Miranda, would see. But no, her boss had to be a callous bitch who would either never believe her, or who and Andrea actually considered this more likely simply did not care that Andrea had been humiliated, particularly if it interfered with Miranda's own ambitions.
Maybe a different approach. "He won't want to see me," she pointed out. Not after having his fingers bent into unnatural positions and a dress rack shoved into a painful place.
"On the contrary." Miranda frowned at some offense on the sheet, and reached for a magnifying glass. "He accepted your apology quite graciously."
"My apology? What apology?" she asked, horribly suspecting the answer.
"The one that Emily faxed over to him on your behalf yesterday."
She sucked in a breath.
"Oh, don't be so melodramatic, Andrea," Miranda chided her. "Without that apology, Lawrence might well have offered his debut to someone other than me. We couldn't have that, now, could we?"
No, "we" couldn't, Andrea realized. Second assistants were a dime a dozen a dime a million but Lawrence Soto might be The Next Miranda Priestly Discovery. The next Miranda Priestly monster, created with a smile and an approving toss of white hair, another name to add to The List for Miranda to shove in Irv's face should he ever be foolish enough to attempt another coup.
Miranda looked up at her. "I'm so glad you're still here," she said. "I have simply nothing to do two hours before a major showing. Perhaps you could tell me amusing stories of your childhood."
Wordlessly, Andrea spun around and returned to her desk. She had been through this before, and she started making the calls, getting through them by rote. "Do your job," Miranda had once asked her in the midst of her own crisis.
Roy would be out front at exactly 1:15. Nigel was already en route. There would be no aroma of Freesia within a two-block radius to invade her highness's sensitive nasal passages.
Andrea would do her job for the last time. She had threatened to quit out of Miranda's hearing, of course endless times before, and had almost done it in Paris, but this time . . . this time she wasn't angry. She was resigned, and sad, and tired, and that was how Andy Sachs knew that this would be her last day with Runway magazine.
Miranda could label her incompetent, and did so daily. She could question her intelligence or her size 6 or whatever else she found to her dislike during her frequent scrutinization of Andy's body. Andy could handle that. But something as personal as this? She had thought, had hoped, that maybe, once in a while, just for an instant, Miranda seemed to . . . like her. On occasion. Tolerate her, anyway. But that was stupid, of course.
"Emily? Has the showing been canceled?" Miranda's voice streamed out. "That's the only reason I can think of that I am not holding a revised seating chart in my hand."
A harried woman hurried in and shoved a piece of paper at the first assistant.
"About time!" Emily hissed at her. She leapt up and rushed it into the office.
A lump formed in Andy's throat, and she stared numbly into Miranda's office as she picked up the phone again.
An hour later, she was still staring. It didn't matter now, and it wasn't like Miranda had even noticed. Oh, she had noticed that Andrea wasn't where she was supposed to be, having chosen instead to stand unobtrusively beside a wall, arms crossed, where she could watch the woman who had changed her life, the woman for whom she would work approximately she checked her watch another 95 minutes. Andy ignored Emily's furious gestures, noting with approval when Emily finally realized she'd better get another warm body into that seat before her boss was humiliated by having an empty seat beside her at a la di da event like this.
Soto had fawned all over Miranda, of course, sparing Andy a smirk as she followed Miranda into the room. Andy hadn't bothered to hide her disdain. Miranda couldn't see behind her, and it didn't matter anyway. She was no longer under Miranda Priestly's thumb. She wouldn't hurt the woman by doing something horrible in public to her budding sensation, but she didn't have to suck up to him or anyone, not any more.
She ignored Soto's introductory claptrap, and concentrated again on Miranda. It wasn't out of place; everyone in this packed room was doing the same thing. Andrea prided herself on being self-aware most of the time, anyway and she knew that, irrational as it was, she was going to miss her boss. This was Andy's last chance to soak her in.
The music began, the typical mishmash of disco-meets-Gold's Gym that Andrea had found exciting when she first started, but today just found annoying.
One papier mache female after another sashed down the runway. Out of habit, Andrea let her glance drift over each one, but always returned to the real show. As the last model pivoted, Andrea turned her attention to the most glamorous woman in the room again, and was startled to see Miranda looking back at her.
Since it didn't matter any more and she wanted to, Andy met the gaze openly, for the brief moment that it lasted. Miranda, of course, remained expressionless, before turning back to the designer, who was waiting breathlessly, along with everyone else in the room, for Miranda Priestly to make him a star.
And then . . . she pursed her lips.
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