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.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Beta: dragonwine
A fly on the wall
Emily cleared her throat, raised her chin and recited professionally.
"One, two. One, two."
Then she squinted towards the bar at the back of the room, fighting the spotlight aimed at the stage.
"Nigel, can you hear me?"
"Yes, I can. So can half of Manhattan." Nigel delicately picked his ear with his little finger. "Turn it down, for God sake!"
"She speaks so softly. It has to be loud." Emily carefully unclipped the tiny microphone from her blouse. "You know how crowded it gets in here."
She looked at the mic doubtfully. It looked professional, and worked flawlessly. The only downside was pinning the bloody thing on Miranda. Her hands shook at the mere idea of touching the woman.
Nigel strolled closer and leaned conspirationally towards the stage.
"And if you want to keep it crowded, keep her on mute. This crowd has a tendency of quickly dispersing after her warm seasonal greetings."
"Nigel!" Emily gasped half scandalized. She couldn't stop the snicker, though, or the laugh that followed.
It was a familiar laugh of the two veteran Runway survivors: hysterical and guilt ridden. Like two naughty kids, Emily thought. She could vividly remember the first time she laughed like that. She was five and on a dare, she'd uttered a reverent first "fuck" in that little playground behind her apartment building.
The laughter died into an uneasy silence. In an almost choreographed manner, Emily and Nigel quasi nonchalantly looked over their shoulders, just to make sure the devil hadn't decided to make a sudden appearance.
Even if the coast seemed clear, Emily felt compelled to add. "Of course, her speeches always impart so much wisdom."
Emily ignored the sarcasm in Nigel's voice, because while he could perhaps afford being sarcastic, she most certainly couldn't. A million of girls would kill for my job, right? Sometimes, in her dreams, she could feel them all breathing down her neck.
It felt good, though, sharing this unexpected bout of camaraderie with Nigel; the sentimental reminder of the good old days when the sun shone brighter, the diary products were an acceptable food group and the assistants were all named Emily.
Oh, bloody hell. The season was making her maudlin.
With some relief, she zeroed in on one of the designers skulking around.
"You in the ugly shoes! Yes, you! Turn the spot down!"
"Come on." said Nigel, still smiling, a smile a bit pinched. He seemed subdued after Paris. Not that anyone told her what was going on anymore. "Let me get you a glass of my perfect punch."
"I'll be right there." Emily said.
From her slightly elevated spot, a wobbly little platform Andrea had dragged in from God knew where, Emily surveyed the temporarily redecorated Art Department offices. Just like last year, they had hijacked it - the largest open-spaced office on the floor - from the sulky, uncooperative designer lot. Only, this time, Emily was not in charge of decorations. The chubby upstart was having that particular honor.
Emily sniffed. It certainly showed: the place looked uninspired. It didn't even come close to last year's glorious Christmas Runway Extravaganza. And to think that some fools were actually fawning over this. God. What was it with people? The Telletubby goes to Paris and returns as a fashion prophet?
She fumbled with the tiny transmitter until she switched the mic completely off and then fumbled some more to start the music. At least, the sound would work perfectly. Emily could guarantee that, because she was in charge of music. If everything else fell apart, it would be to the sound of a refined melody.
She made her way to Nigel, who was overseeing the set up of the bar at the back of the room.
"This is a mess." Emily said, because, well, that's how one started a conversation at Runway. It was a perfect icebreaker: something, somewhere, was bound to be a mess. "We are never going to be finished in time."
"Well, aren't we lucky her plane was late, then?" Nigel said calmly and passed her the glass of punch.
"Oh, God! Don't remind me." Emily moaned. "She must be so pissed off. Roy texted me, they are on their way. It will be fifteen minutes, tops."
Nigel raised his glass. "Then it'll be fifteen more minutes of me drinking this."
"Yes, well, I'm surprised she didn't call already twice to blame it all on me." Emily rolled her eyes.
Nigel studied her for a moment. He seemed to be hesitating over his next words.
"Perhaps she called Andy." He said gently.
"Oh. Yes. Of course." She tried to smile. It didn't really work so she took a gulp of the drink.
"Come on, Emily. It is not the end of the world. So she prefers to deal with Andy. So what? Your year is up; you'll be leaving for the greener pastures anyway."
"But why?" She almost wailed. "Why would she prefer that fat little-"
"Emily." Nigel rubbed his forehead. "Look, if she told you to get across a raging river, you'd jump in, no questions asked. Right?"
"I should think so. How can you even ask-" Of all things, to question her loyalty!
"Andy would look for a bridge, first."
Emily narrowed her eyes at him. She mulled it over.
No, she decided. Nigel was wrong. She felt it in her bones. Someday he'll see. Andrea will make a wrong step, and someday, everyone will see.
And why should she even listen to the advice of that that Pygmalion?
"I do not want to talk about it." Emily emptied the glass and wordlessly asked for more.
"All right. Fine." Nigel raised his hands as if giving up. He nodded towards her glass. "Just be careful with that. There's more vodka in it than in Amy Winehouse's bloodstream."
"Oh, bollocks. I can hold my liquor." Emily said bitterly. "And anyway, it's not my party, is it? So let me drink and enjoy the music."
Nigel tilted his head and scrunched his nose.
"What is that music anyway?"
Perhaps he was trying to change the subject. Well, about fucking time.
"Oh, it's nothing." Emily shrugged nonchalantly. "Just a thing that I picked from my private collection. A rare instrumental version of Christmas carols, by this little renaissance troupe. A connoisseur thing. It sounds so tasteful, don't you think?"
It took her two days of combing through the obscure Village stores to find a perfect something to overshadow the bloody decorations.
"Right." Nigel agreed a bit too smoothly and glanced behind Emily. "Oh, look, there is Andy."
"Hi, guys!" Andrea beamed at them. "We're done! What do you think, Nigel?"
"It's not as bad as I thought it would be. I like what you did with that curtain fabric." He gave Andrea a quick once over. "Stop pouting; I am not talking about your dress."
Emily snickered, fondly remembering the horrid grandma skirts of almost a year ago. Regrettably, today Andrea looked acceptable if dull in that little black Chanel number.
"Thanks, I was worried about it." Andrea gave him a grateful smile, Nigel winked back.
Emily rolled her eyes. Oh, bloody hell, enough of the love-fest already.
"Her plane is late. Do you really think she'll notice the decorations?" She said, cutting the self-complimentary session at the knees. As if the curtain thingy was that spectacular. Any idiot could think of that.
Andrea winced. "Yeah, she called. She didn't sound happy."
Emily felt the blood surging in her face. The cow just had to say it, did she?
"How surprising." Emily gave her a saccharine smile. "Once again, she is forced into throwing a Christmas party for the lowly minions, she's arriving straight from the airport and her plane is late. Why wouldn't she be happy?"
"We are screwed, aren't we?" Andrea said morosely.
"Exactly. So keep your head low." Nigel said cheerfully. "Have some punch. It helps. If you sway, you're more difficult to hit."
Still smiling, Nigel looked over Emily's shoulder. The smile froze on his face. Emily cautiously turned around. Oh, bloody hell. "Good evening, Mr. Ravitz."
"Emily. Andrea. Nigel. Lovely decorations."
"Thank you, Mr. Ravitz." Andrea chirped. Emily felt like gagging. Hello! He is a bloody accountant, for God sake! What does he know? He'd be happiest if we all showed up in red Santa caps from Wal-Mart. And got the quantity discount.
"And interesting choice of music."
"Thank you. I am in charge of the sound." Emily said primly.
"The Worldly Troubadours, right?" Emily almost spit her punch. "And where is our lovely hostess?"
"Her plane was late, but she should be here any minute now." Nigel volunteered.
"Good, good." Irv smiled benevolently and clapped Nigel on the shoulder. "Miranda and I both believe celebrations are vital for a good working atmosphere. Nothing extravagant, of course, but still, this is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation of everyone's daily efforts."
They all stared at him.
"Oh, I'm sure hearing Miranda tonight will be very uplifting for all." Nigel said, managing to keep a straight face. "Would you like some punch, Mr. Ravitz?"
Emily forced the tremor down. The idea of being appreciated by Miranda and Irv brought images of Hannibal Lecter's victims to mind. She gulped the punch and turned to Andrea.
"Right. Are we sure we have everything ready?"
"Emily, we are fine. I have everything under control." Andrea said soothingly. I have everything under control, Emily silently mimicked thoroughly irritated.
She plucked out the pen and the pad from her purse and went through the list aloud.
"The sound. Check. The wobbly stage. Check. The uninspired snacks. Check."
"I don't know why we don't use the same tray of finger food every year. No one touches it and we always throw it away, anyway." Irv complained.
"Previously perhaps, but Andrea is with us now." Emily piped in sweetly.
"Whatever." Emily waved her hand mirandishly. "The bar. Check. The ghastly ornaments. Check. Oh, Andrea, you did not forget those scarves, I hope?"
There was a telling silence.
It was delightfully obvious Andrea had actually forgotten, even before she uttered the tiny "shit." Those bovine eyes turned even larger. The pale complexion turned even paler.
"Tell me you didn't." Emily widened her eyes dramatically, and pressed her hand at her chest, for good measure. Tell me you did.
"I'm afraid so." Andrea looked almost ready to cry.
Oh, how the mighty had fallen. Emily's mood improved exponentially. The dragon was about to descend on their little village. At least, now they had a fat little cow to sacrifice.
"Yes, well, save it for Miranda. And pray she doesn't ask for them tonight." She said haughtily.
Her purse chirped. Emily honestly, deeply hated the happy little sound. She plucked the phone out. Her stomach dropped.
"Oh my God. She's here. And according to Roy she's in a terrible mood!"
"All right, everyone! Put your happy face on!" Nigel clapped his hands. "Merry Christmas! Satan's here!"
And so, here they all were, once again. The involuntary welcome committee standing at attention, their eyes glued to the tiny elevator display.
The elevator announced itself with a perky DING. Why do all those bloody machines announce the doom so merrily? Emily wondered grimly.
"This gives a completely novel meaning to Deus ex machina." Nigel muttered somewhere on her left.
On her other side, Andrea sucked air in shakily.
Like a theater curtain, the elevator door slid open. Miranda, looking bloody amazing as always, froze them all quite efficiently with an encompassing glare and stepped out.
"Good evening, Miranda." They both chorused as they sprinted to her. Andrea snatched the coat and the bag midair. Miranda gave her a quick once over in passing, her face expressionless. Andrea, on the other hand, was grinning like a simpleton.
Must be a nervous tick. Emily thought. She really should get rid of that.
Emily delicately and repeatedly nudged at Andrea, until the woman finally stumbled away. She slipped into her rightful place by Miranda's side. Miranda was already delivering her litany without breaking her stride. For once, it was music to Emily's ears.
"This place looks atrocious. I do not comprehend why it is so difficult to maintain at least a minimum level of taste. You've had all the time in the world. Is this supposed to be Christmas or a Halloween celebration, Andrea? Are you running on a different calendar in the Midwest? Emily, what on Earth are you doing?"
"I am so sorry, Miranda. Just a mic I have to clip on your lapel for your speech There! I found this new Bluetooth technology so there's no need for "
"Bore someone else with your explanations."
"Is everything done according to my specifications?"
Emily hesitated slightly, knowing it would be noticed. "Of course, Miranda. The stage is in the Art department, as usual, and the drinks are on the "
"You are not telling me something." Predictably, Miranda latched on it like a hound dog. Emily was sure she could see her nostrils quiver. "What is it, Emily?"
"Of course not, Miranda! The bar-" Emily tried, albeit not very convincingly. She could see Andrea cringing in the background.
"Emily?" There was a noticeable threat in Miranda's voice; Emily didn't even have to pretend to be terrified.
"The scarves! Andrea forgot to pick up the scarves!"
Miranda halted so suddenly, Emily could almost hear tires screeching. Her cold blue eyes zeroed in on the hopefully soon-to-be-the-second-assistant-again.
"Um God, Miranda, I am so sorry. It just slipped my mind. I was so busy with " Andrea was squirming under Miranda's look.
"I am not interested in your excuses. However, I assure you, we will discuss all your deficiencies later. In great detail."
"Yes, Miranda." She mumbled to Miranda's back. Emily hurried after Miranda, fumbling with the transmitter again, but she still managed to send a wide-eyed glare Andrea's way.
The speech, according to Nigel, was "even more to the point than usual. Nothing can cheer you up as hearing that no one is indispensable, Merry Christmas everyone."
At least, Emily proudly noted, it was heard by all.
Miranda stopped by their little group only to exchange the stilted hellos with Irv. Emily shuddered at the tension between them. There was no way in hell she was putting her hand anywhere near Miranda's lapel now. The bloody mic can stay where it bloody is.
Judging by the battle stance, Irv and Miranda were on even worse terms after their return from Paris. For the hundredth time, Emily wondered what the hell she had missed. No, she corrected herself, grating her teeth, what the hell else she had missed beside the parties, the shows, and the designers.
However, once she asked about it, Nigel gave her that horrid look and even the irritatingly chatty Andrea kept suspiciously quiet.
She was certainly quiet now, trying to avoid any attention, looking like a puppy caught pissing on the Persian carpet. With good reason. As soon as it was marginally polite, Miranda turned away from them and softly ordered.
"Andrea. In my office."
Andrea whimpered and reluctantly trailed after Miranda, her shoulders slumped.
Emily did not want to be in her Jimmy Choos.
But, oh, how she wished to be a fly on Miranda's office wall.
Their eyes followed Andrea until she disappeared behind the corner. There was a minute of uncomfortable silence.
"She's going to deal with the poor girl now? In the midst of the Christmas party?" Irv finally spluttered indignantly.
"If she's there, she's not here. Who can ask for more?" Emily flippantly said. Life was good.
"Ah. There's that charitable Christmas spirit." Nigel raised his glass in mock salute.
"What?" She refused to feel guilty. "Serves Andrea right."
Forgetting the scarves, really. In the good old days, the assistants would be axed for that.
"Poor kid." Nigel sighed. "The mood she's in, she'll bite her head off."
"Somebody should do something." Irv said.
"Absolutely." Nigel said.
They both looked around the room then took a sip of their drinks.
Emily rolled her eyes.
Thank God, that chivalry was dead.
Andy paused by her desk. She could hear Miranda's surprisingly relaxed voice behind the partially closed door. Probably on the phone with the twins, since she couldn't imagine anyone else rating that tone. If Andy recalled correctly - and these days her life depended on recalling correctly, they have been spending a week with their father.
She tried to listen in, hoping to get some clue if it was all right to enter. Miranda's voice was too soft to distinguish the words. Or maybe Andy's ears were still adjusting to the blessed silence after that bizarre music. What was Emily thinking?
Andy hovered at the door for a moment. Oh, hell. It was just one of those things: damned if you did, damned if you didn't. She took a deep breath, straightened her dress and passed her hand through her hair. She pushed the door softly and peeked in.
The desk lamp was on, illuminating Miranda as if on stage.
She was perched on the edge of the desk. She was leafing through her mail but mostly she was concentrating on whatever one of the twins was saying. Caroline, Miranda soon identified the twin. She hadn't noticed the intrusion yet, so Andy leaned on the doorframe and indulged in a rare luxury of watching Miranda.
She was picking through the pile of Christmas cards without much interest. Caroline must have been relating something Miranda considered cute because a gentle smile was playing on her lips. Occasionally she would stumble upon one of the more peculiar cards and Andy could confirm there were some really, really weird ones, as she had to go through a much bigger pile before presenting Miranda with only the more important ones and her eyes would widen in silent horror.
She was, of course, dressed immaculately. It was difficult to imagine that she had only recently stepped down from the plane after a three-hour flight. She had taken off her suit jacket - Andy could see it draped negligently over the armchair in the corner - and still, there was not a wrinkle on her blouse. Andy figured Miranda was simply wrinkle-resistant.
Regal, Andy thought. Everything about her was effortlessly elegant, from the lazy motions of her long fingers, the smooth curve of her neck to that sharp, patrician nose.
Like a femme fatale of the film noir, Andy mused dreamily. The unattainable, dangerous woman, who walks in, flings her purse and gloves on the main character's desk and proceeds to make a complete mess out of his life.
She almost snorted at the thought.
Miranda's arm holding the phone was hiding most of her upper body but, Andy thought looking down, there was plenty more to catch her interest. The just-above-the-knees, straight black skirt rode up a bit as Miranda perched on the table, showing quite a bit of her leg. And God Almighty, what a leg that was. The material stretched tightly over her shapely thigh, one leg extended to touch the floor with only a tip of a red Manolo, while the other swayed hypnotically in the air. Silky black hosiery glistened at the shin then dimmed gradually around the sculptured calf.
Was she becoming a foot fetishist? Because, seriously, she found Miranda's ankles outrageously sexy.
Andy sighed and dragged her eyes up, until she got helplessly stuck on the tantalizing shadows of Miranda's inner thigh at the slit in the front of the skirt. When she finally managed to raise her eyes back to Miranda's face, she froze.
Miranda was looking straight at her. Her eyebrows quirked up as if Andy were by far the most bizarre thing delivered to her office.
"That's lovely, Caroline." Miranda murmured without breaking the stare down. "Did you have your dinner already?"
She continued chatting but Andy was not paying attention. In any case, she wouldn't be able to hear anything. The blood was hammering in her ears. Her lips suddenly felt parched. She wet them with her tongue, and almost bit on it when Miranda zoomed in on the motion.
"I see." Miranda smiled as she looked at Andy. Andy wondered if the smile were really meant for her.
Miranda dropped her gaze leisurely down, giving Andy one of those excruciating once-overs that always left her weak kneed.
At least, this time she didn't think she was wearing anything criminal. Even Nigel approved of her dress, in a way. Miranda's gaze stopped at Andy's décolletage. Andy swallowed, hard. She could feel her nipples stiffening. She was afraid to look down to check if it was as obvious as it felt.
Miranda smirked. It must have been something Caroline said.
"Mhm." Miranda said to the phone, and the murmur sounded obscenely sensual.
Then Andy remembered Miranda was talking to her daughter, for God sake, and felt like a total pervert.
Miranda's gaze dropped lower, inch by torturing inch, stopping again for a long moment at Andy's hips. Was the panty line showing? The thong suddenly felt intrusive between her legs. And just when she finally got used to it. She shifted her thighs nervously as she watched Miranda's face for any hints of what she was thinking. Miranda was passing her tongue over her teeth, her eyebrow raised.
"What did you say, dear? Oh, you did?" Miranda continued her path down Andy's thighs. The pantyhose felt way too fragile under that look. Miranda licked her lips and drawled.
Andy could feel the sweat forming on the back of her neck.
Mercifully, Miranda dropped her gaze all the way down to the Jimmy Choos.
Suddenly, her smile disappeared. Her eyes turned cold.
Andy froze. What the hell? Was Jimmy Choo blacklisted without Andy knowing it?
"He said what?" Miranda said. Andy almost fainted with relief. Thank you, Lord. "Caroline, put your father on the phone."
Just like that, the relaxed Miranda was gone. Her shoulders tensed, her fingers drummed on the glass surface of the desk.
Unlike that bastard Stephen, the twins' father merely irritated Andy most of the time. He was a nuisance over the phone, a crabby nasal voice that was always telling her things, complaining about Miranda, expecting the commiseration. The loser.
But right here, right now, she hated him passionately for ruining the moment. The woman in front of her looked ready to explode.
"Greg, what is this nonsense about the girls staying one more night?"
There was a burst of tiny sounds from the phone.
"How lovely. So all of a sudden you actually wish to spend more time with them?"
"Oh, today is inconvenient for you. I see." She said after a moment of silence, her face glacial.
Andy bit her lip. OK, perhaps this was her clue to step out and give Miranda some privacy. Emily would probably be cowering under her desk by now. Without a doubt, a prudent thing to do.
Except, Andy did not feel like being prudent.
So she did the next best thing. She walked to the small cabinet in the corner of the room, pulled out the bottle, the heavy crystal glass, and poured in a liberal amount of the fine Scotch.
She could hear Miranda pronouncing precisely behind her back.
"I don't care about the inconvenience. I wouldn't care even if you had a meeting with the President of United States. You will deliver the girls to the townhouse tonight. Nine pm sharp. That's all."
Andy turned to see Miranda flinging the cell disgustedly on her desk.
"The bastard." Miranda spat and massaged her temples.
Without a word, Andy pushed the glass towards her. Miranda looked at it quizzically.
"I don't recall asking for this." She said, her eyes only flicking to Andy, her face closed.
"No. But I think you might need it."
Miranda pointedly ignored her. Andy continued, trying to sound much calmer than she felt. "I am supposed to know what you need, right?"
Miranda grabbed the glass without a comment and took a hefty slug. Cautiously, Andy leaned on the desk next to her. Miranda didn't appear to notice. She was swirling the liquid in the glass, deep in thought. Andy kept her silence. After a minute, Miranda passed her a sideways glance.
"So. You forgot to pick up the scarves." She finally said. "I have three different functions to attend tomorrow and I'm out of scarves."
Ah. Back to that. "Yes, I did and no, you are not."
"Ambivalent much?" Miranda said, without the usual vitriol. Andy could tell her heart was not in it. She could see the strain around Miranda's eyes. She must be exhausted. Probably has a headache, too. And that jerk had to go and upset her. She hated seeing Miranda this drained.
"Well? Care to elaborate?"
"I did forget to pick them up, but, uh, you are not exactly out of scarves." Andy said quietly, not really explaining anything at all.
"I am really not in the mood for deciphering secret meanings, Andrea."
Miranda sounded so distant. Andy winced. She would probably be dismissed with the next sentence.
Well, in for a penny Andy slid closer, until their shoulders were almost touching. Miranda looked at her sharply, taken aback by the move. Andy almost smiled. That was so not a common reaction of Miranda's targets. People tended to move away. And duck. And run away in panic.
Which was why people were outside and she was in.
Miranda was giving her an irritated look, but Andy could see a sparkle of interest in her blue eyes. There you go. Annoyed suits you so much better.
"Ah, but it is a secret, actually." Andy attempted a smirk. Most likely, it looked like a pained grimace.
Teasing Miranda was very much like dangling a bloody tuna fish in front of a shark.
Emily would think her suicidal, annoying Miranda on purpose. However, it was worth it. Because Miranda was looking at her again, really looking. It was not the haunted expression of a moment ago, nor an aloof look reserved for all the Emilies of the world, but an all-consuming stare that compelled you to turn on your back and play dead. Or to turn on your back, full stop.
She could almost hear the Jaws theme in the background.
It was oddly exciting.
Andy wet her lips while she considered her next move. She almost fainted when Miranda unconsciously imitated the motion.
Before, Andy had felt a nice buzz from Nigel's deadly punch. But nothing compared to the intoxicating rush of having Miranda's complete attention.
Feeling giddy and daring, she whispered conspirationally.
"I have an emergency stash of fifty brand new Hermes white scarves hidden in a fake box of Dunkin Donuts in my desk drawer."
Miranda's eyes widened. Her eyebrows shot up. She blinked, once. And then Thank you, lord. Miranda snorted. Her hand shot up but it was too late to catch the undignified sound. She tapped her lips with her fingers instead.
"Dunkin Don ah." Her eyes flashed with sudden understanding. "Emily-proof hiding place."
"Yup." Andrea grinned. You could always count on a jibe at someone else's expense to cheer Miranda up.
"And why didn't you tell Emily about your secret stash?" Miranda was smirking now. Not much, just that typical all-knowing quirk of the lips. Still, it was an almost-smile; it was real and, without any doubt, aimed at Andy.
"I knew she'd snitch about my irreparable mistake the moment she saw you." Andy said feeling like a proverbial cat that got the cream. She turned towards Miranda, her hip resting on the desk edge.
"I see." Miranda set the glass down without taking her eyes away from Andy. "You wanted her to snitch?"
"Mhm." Andy leaned closer still. Immediately, Miranda's eyes dropped to her cleavage. Andy took an unnecessarily big breath. Miranda swallowed.
She had Miranda's attention, all right. And certain parts of her suddenly felt much appreciated.
"I wanted you to have a good reason to bitch at me in private."
Swiftly, Miranda raised her head. She shot her an outraged look. "I do not bitch, Andrea."
Andy smiled a huge, toothy smile.
Miranda sucked the air in, most likely ready to deliver a scathing remark.
Quickly, like a boxer going for the clinch, Andy pressed their bodies close. She felt Miranda expel a breath on her neck, in a big whoosh.
Andy tightened her hands around Miranda's neck, and nuzzled the familiar, tender spot behind her ear. She felt Miranda resist the hug for a second. Then her body relaxed.
The hands closed around Andy's waist.
Gotcha, she thought happily.
It was never easy, dragging Miranda out of one of her despondent moods. She was as stubborn in her misery as in any of her other endeavors. But Andy was learning.
There was a time to retreat, a time to push and, occasionally, a time to tease.
"Well. The way I see it " She whispered saucily in Miranda's ear. "Cooks cook. Writers write. And bitches - ouch! You bit me!"
She was laughing now, pushing away to give Miranda a reproachful glare.
"How astute. It was your quick wit that attracted me first." Miranda drawled.
"Hey!" Andy tried to disengage, admittedly not very convincingly.
"Oh, be still." Miranda's hands clamped on the small of her back. She nipped lightly at Andy's neck. "I'm sure I'm supposed to be in the process of biting your head off."
"Well mmmm you are off to a good start."
"Have you seen Andy anywhere?" Paul emerged out of nowhere, as usual. He was a droopy, skulking man, like the rest of those designers. Emily had always been curious of his existence here. He was by far the ugliest individual ever to darken the corridors of the Runway. No wonder he was looking for Andrea.
"My people wanted to thank her for not ruining our office too much."
"She is not available." Emily said with satisfaction. She ignored Nigel's glare. "Miranda needs to impress certain rules of conduct upon her. Knowing Andrea, it might take a very long time."
Paul seemed nonplussed. He recovered quickly though. "Well, at least she was kind enough not to tear at Andy in front of everyone."
Emily didn't think it was kind at all.
"Oh, yes. Praise in public, reprimand in private. That's our Miranda." drawled Nigel.
Andy could feel Miranda relaxing muscle by muscle. Her hair tickled Andy's nose so she buried her face deeper into Miranda's neck.
It had been an awfully long, Mirandaless week.
It was actually terrifying how much Andy depended on Miranda's presence. That wasn't to say she was a masochist - she enjoyed the mellow week in the office as much as anyone else did.
However, when Nigel jokingly flung a coat and a bag on her desk yesterday morning, she almost burst in tears.
Luckily, he diagnosed it as a posttraumatic stress disorder.
Not to mention how she perked up with every call Miranda made to the office. And Miranda did call her suspiciously often, about completely banal things.
Yes, she missed Miranda.
She wouldn't say anything though; Miranda scoffed at pathetic declarations.
"God, I missed you." She blurted the next moment and cringed.
"Mmmm." Miranda's forehead was still resting on her shoulder, Andy's statement accepted without a comment.
"Your head still hurts?" Gratefully, Andy massaged at the tight neck muscles. Miranda moaned.
"How did you know?"
"A lucky guess." Andy's breath hitched. Miranda moaning did it every time. "Should I - ."
"You should stop talking." Miranda muttered but kissed Andy's neck lightly. "And work those fingers."
Andy's stomach flip-flopped from the fleeting touch on her skin. It was a disorder all right. The age regression. A week without Miranda and she was practically panting down her neck like a teenager.
She couldn't help it though; she was horny as hell.
She got spoiled in the last couple of months. Romance aside, they were screwing like bunnies. In Miranda's hallway, her bedroom, on the kitchen table, in Andy's apartment when the twins were home
Hell, there was no horizontal surface in the townhouse Andy could look at without blushing.
They did it everywhere. Everywhere, except the office.
Nothing ever happened in the office. No teasing remarks, no flirty touches. Andy wouldn't dare try anything here; the office was sacrosanct, it went without saying.
But, Lord, did she want to.
Aloof, detached, "the Runway Miranda," as she'd lately started referring to her in her mind, was untouchable in the official surroundings. Andy had learned to make a distinction only recently, after being exposed to that other, carefully hidden facet of her personality that only reluctantly emerged after hours.
Thus, Andy decided firmly and properly, this moment was precious just as it was.
She wouldn't be greedy. Holding Miranda in here was already a fantasy come to life, even if it didn't go further than necking. She wouldn't ask for more, and, God forbid, remind Miranda they shouldn't be doing anything at all.
She breathed deeply, and a whiff of Miranda's perfume snuck into her nose.
A wrong move.
The smell brought all kinds of improper images to the mind: Miranda pressing her on the kitchen counter, Miranda leaning over her on the sofa, Miranda sweating under her in Andy's creaky bed.
Andy swallowed and diligently tried to think of something else.
Numbers. Numbers were a safe, innocent thing to think about.
So, she thought of the number of Calvin Klein skirts she had ordered for the shoot, Patrick's phone number, the exact number of times she wanted to strangle Emily last week. Thinking of Emily, she tried to remember the exact number of food trays she ordered for the party, which brought her to the finger food, which of course started her thinking of fingers, and particularly of Miranda's fingers that were at the moment caressing her lower back
She tried to behave, really she did. Except, it was extremely difficult, with Miranda's hipbone pressing into her, and Miranda's breath scalding her neck.
And how dare Miranda be so damn calm while she was struggling?
Andy pulled at the hair on her nape in retaliation.
Miranda inhaled sharply. She latched vengefully on the junction between Andy's neck and her shoulder, sucked hard at the tendon. Andy whimpered.
OK, maybe not so calm after all.
The heat flared from her neck straight to her nipples and smoldered there. She rubbed herself on Miranda to ease the tension, felt the lacy surface of her bra through the thin blouse.
Oh, God. A very wrong move.
Miranda wrenched her head away. Her eyes were drilling into Andy.
"I was sitting at those damned meetings for a week," She rubbed Andy's jawbone with her thumb roughly. "And all I could think about was that I was an idiot for not taking you with me."
She sounded almost angry. Andy didn't feel like apologizing. Not when Miranda was looking at her like that. Andy had recently become very familiar with that look.
"We don't have much time, do we?" Andy gulped.
"Honestly, Andrea." Miranda said, amused. "Do you really think someone will barge in and demand we join the party?"
"Well, no, but people will wonder..."
"Let them." She traced Andy's lips with her thumb. Andy licked on it. Miranda's breath hitched. She pushed the thumb harder against the bottom lip. Andy took the hint and opened her lips. She sucked on the thumb lightly.
"They'll just think I'm giving you a well deserved scolding."
Andy bit on the thumb.
Miranda kissed her.
Andy's mouth opened immediately. She wanted Miranda to plunge in and plunder.
But, no, of course not: the damn woman was perfectly content to suck lightly on Andy's bottom lip. Forever, it seemed.
Andy finally lost her patience and flicked the tip of her tongue at Miranda's lip. Miranda gasped, and Andy immediately slipped in. She rubbed at the front of her teeth teasingly, tasting the Scotch.
For Andy, the Scotch was truly an acquired taste; only, she'd never willingly admit how exactly she'd acquired it.
Miranda finally relented and joined the tongue play.
It was a wrestling match Andy was intent on losing. After only an obligatory resistance, she happily retreated, letting Miranda's tongue thrust deeper. She reveled in its slickness. She sucked on it rhythmically, doing her best to suck it dry.
Miranda moaned in her mouth.
She tangled her hands in Miranda's soft hair, pulled her away a bit and asked breathlessly against her lips.
"So, at those meetings what else did you think about?"
"Wouldn't you like to know." Miranda smirked against her mouth. Andy could just imagine the wickedness of the smile. Miranda's fingers leisurely trekked to the small of Andy's back. She traced the outline of Andy's thong, lower and lower, until she reached the crack of her ass.
And the thong, ladies and gentlemen, was now officially worth it.
Miranda rubbed on her tailbone.
Andy's body surged forward.
Miranda grabbed her hips and pushed her away. Andy almost stumbled in shock.
Was that it? Miranda changed her mind? All of a sudden, she almost, almost felt sorry for all the guys she left high and dry during her high school years.
Miranda gazed at her; there was that maddening know-it-all smirk again. It would have been humiliating if it weren't for Miranda's flushing cheeks and wet lips.
At last, Miranda whispered silkily.
"Why don't you close that door?"
Andy looked at her for a moment incomprehensively. At Miranda's raised eyebrow, she shook her head in attempt to clear the cobwebs.
Dazed, she wobbled away, as steady as the first time she slipped on 4-inch heels. She pushed the door closed and rested her forehead on the cold surface for a second. When she turned around, Miranda was lounging in the armchair in the shadowy corner, her legs crossed, and her hands prudently resting in her lap.
A preview, Andy thought fleetingly, absurdly. Miranda looked as if she were waiting for a private showing.
Andy strolled closer, trying to put some sway to her hips and fervently hoping she wouldn't trip.
At arms distance, Miranda didn't look quite as calm. She was watching Andy like a hawk, her chest rising and falling rapidly.
And as the previews went, Nigel would probably be impressed. Miranda was smiling.
"Come here, Andrea." Miranda uncrossed her legs and patted her lap.
Oh, she loved Miranda in control.
Andy bit her lip and shook her head.
But even more, she loved her losing it.
Andy reached and turned on the floor lamp beside the chair.
Miranda blinked at her.
"I want you to see me."
She knelt down, as smoothly as possible in those damned heels, and put her hands on Miranda's knees.
"Let me show you what I have been thinking about."
Miranda's breath hitched. When Andy spread her knees, she didn't put up any resistance. Andy scratched lightly just above her knee, then traced her fingers all the way down to Miranda's ankle.
Never taking her eyes from Miranda's, she raised her foot up.
"What-" Miranda squirmed in her seat.
"Shhh." Andrea hushed her. "This is for me."
She lightly kissed the ankle she admired just a while ago. She smiled at Miranda, and she must have looked hungry because Miranda's eyes widened apprehensively.
Andy pressed her lips on the ankle and sucked. Miranda moaned.
It came as no surprise to Andy that Miranda was a visual type.
It was a bit more surprising how much she loved performing for Miranda.
Andy leisurely nibbled, licked and sucked again. She French kissed just above the anklebone. The pantyhose felt raspy under her tongue.
Miranda whimpered, her legs opening even more.
She peppered the tiny, slow kisses up to Miranda's knee. She licked at the crease under the knee. Miranda twitched uncontrollably.
Leisurely, Andy moved her fingers up Miranda's shin, over the knee and under her skirt. With both hands, she traced the laced edge of the hosiery to the inside of Miranda's thighs. When she touched naked skin, she almost hyperventilated.
She rested her forehead on Miranda's knee.
There were fingers in her hair. She peeked up. Miranda was biting on her lower lip, any pretense of control long gone. She caressed Andy's cheek. Andy's breath caught again at the affection in Miranda's eyes.
She pushed her fingers further under the skirt.
"Up." Andy ordered as she hooked the edges of Miranda's panties.
"Perhaps I overdid it with the vodka." Nigel looked apprehensively at the swaying bodies around them. "Or maybe it's all those empty stomachs."
Emily was leaning on the wall beside him. As long as she didn't try to walk, she felt quite fine.
"It's cheery, all right."
Nigel forced her to change the music to something more party like the moment Miranda disappeared, but it didn't matter anymore. Since Miranda had gone by then. Which was when Nigel forced her to kill the music.
She got so dazed by the circular thought she didn't even notice Irv Ravitz until he almost stumbled into them.
He certainly looked cheerful. His tie was loose; his shirt was half-unbuttoned. Emily tried to peer inside; suddenly curious if he had any chest hair. The bugger kept on swaying. It was most annoying.
Irv focused his eyes on them with some difficulty. He raised the hand with a half-empty glass, pointed a finger at Nigel and scrunched his eyebrows, as if trying to remember something.
Nigel promptly filled his glass again.
"Ah, yes." He seemed to find the lost thought. "God damned bitch. Torturing that efficient, frugal, innocent girl like that."
He staggered away mumbling. "I wish that, only once, someone would show her how it feels."
"Andrea, for God sake! Don't torture me!" Miranda gasped somewhere above her head.
Andy pulled away a bit to look at her handiwork. Miranda was spread in front of her, clutching the arms of the chair like a lifeline. She was slumped against the backrest. Andy couldn't see her face from down here; her beautiful breasts were in the way.
Andy didn't pay them any attention yet. She should rectify that on the next round.
Miranda's skirt was pulled up all the way to the waist, her lower body completely exposed. Her pussy was swollen, red, and glistening in the light.
By the time Andy had taken her panties off, Miranda was a flood. When Andy had plunged in, drowning in the taste, Miranda screamed.
Andy inhaled; she could smell Miranda from here. Miranda's perfume might be exclusive, but this scent was exclusively Andy's.
Andy frowned. Miranda thought her too slow. Andy preferred methodical.
Its been a week, damn it. She'd been imagining this for six lonely nights. She refused to have it end quickly.
Andy smacked her lips. Another acquired taste. "Ask nicely."
"Don't stop, you you " Miranda raised her head and glared down. "I'll kill you, if you stop!"
Andy blinked at her serenely.
Her panties were drenched. She was throbbing, but damn if she'd let it show. She pulled her best poker face at Miranda, attempting to look like she had all the time in the world.
"All right! Fine! Will you pretty please get on with it?"
Andy smiled victoriously but quickly dove in before Miranda decided to pull Andy's hair out.
She licked with the tip of her tongue at Miranda's clit.
"Andrea!" Miranda jerked so hard she almost broke Andy's nose.
Andy held on tight to her hips. It seems that playtime was over. Miranda was arched tight as a bow.
She lapped at Miranda industriously, doing her best to be everywhere at once.
Above her, Miranda was making a keening sound.
Almost regretfully, Andy latched on the clit with both lips and sucked.
Andy quickly stripped off her by now ruined panties and crawled up the moment Miranda stopped twitching. She sat astride Miranda's lap, and squirmed against the wooden armrests. It was a tight fit. Still, her abused knees appreciated the soft surface of the seat.
Miranda's eyes were closed. She was breathing deeply through her nose. Andy licked the tip of it playfully. Miranda made an amused sound and Andy ran her tongue over her lips. When the mouth obediently opened, she kissed her deeply, sharing the taste.
That was an unexpected but pleasant surprise to both of them, it seemed - when they started sleeping together. Miranda loved to taste herself on Andy.
She brought a hand to Andy's jawbone, directing her head this and that way, and licked at her face.
Andy rubbed unobtrusively against Miranda's bunched up skirt, trying to find some relief.
Miranda pulled her head away. She gave Andy a lazy, half-lidded look. The fingers of her other hand traced slowly up Andy's inner thigh.
She dipped in between Andy's legs.
Miranda smiled viciously. "My, my. How the tables have turned."
Serena waved to her across the floor, and then glided over. She glided really well. Emily straightened up, keeping her shoulder blades against the wall just in case.
"Hey, Em. Is the coast clear? Did Miranda leave?"
"No. She's in her office." Emily sighed in faux exasperation. "Explaining the concept of resposin repsonsi duty to Andrea."
"Still?" Serena grimaced. "She's been grilling her for ages. What did Andy do? Burn the Book?"
"She utterly screwed up the decorations." She tried to wave her hand around expressively, but changed her mind at the last moment. "As you can see."
Serena shot a doubtful look around. Was she blind?
"And she forgot to pick up the scarves." Emily added in triumph.
"OK, that qualifies, I guess." Serena said uncertainly.
"Pity, I really thought she would last." Serena said. The traitor.
"Oh, God! Miranda, I can't last!"
Miranda was buried so deep in her. Was it two or three fingers? She could not remember. She could not think. Her insides were melting. She ground harder against Miranda's palm. She needed to Right now, she needed to
"You will last," Miranda whispered silkily, never raising her eyes from her lap. She held Andy's dress bunched up at the waist with one hand. Andy was entrusted with the task originally but the material kept sliding out of her grasp.
"Until I tell you otherwise." Miranda pulled her fingers out in warning. God damn it. She's been keeping Andy on the brink for ages.
"Please." Andy said through clenched teeth.
"I want to hear you."
"But, uh, someone - oh, god - might hear-"
"No, no, no." Miranda said lightly. She sounded almost amused. Andy wanted to kill her. "No excuses. I. Want. To hear you."
"I-" Andy rolled her hips, hunting for elusive fingers.
"Miranda, please." Andy shut her eyes, concentrating on the touch. Now light and caressing, then rough, rubbing her, but never where she needed it the most.
"You know what I want to hear." Yeah, Andy knew. But she wouldn't give in that easily. She wouldn't.
"Fuck me!" She blurted desperately the next second.
"Again." Miranda's breath hitched. Andy forced her eyes open. One look at Miranda's intent face and she almost came on the spot. Miranda was leaning forward a bit, staring intently at Andy's face. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes blazing. She was biting on her lower lip in expectation.
Andy gazed at Miranda's beautiful, wide open eyes. She could read her so easily right now. It was more than affection; she could see the love reflected back at her. She wanted to confess it all. But there was time for it later. Right this moment there were more pressing matters at hand.
"Make me come, please!" She cried.
"Soon, darling." Miranda breathed. "And when I do, I want you to scream for me."
"So." Jocelyn smirked. "The miraculous little assistant is not so miraculous anymore?" There was a satisfyingly evil glint in her eyes. Finally, Emily thought, someone who sees the positive side of things.
"I guess Miranda's finally had enough." Emily sighed, all of a sudden feeling very compassionate for poor, suffering Miranda.
"They've been gone for ages. My, Miranda is really letting her have it." Jocelyn said gleefully.
Now that Emily thought about it, there had been some tension between Jocelyn and Andy. She couldn't remember the details, but it had to do with Miranda taking Andy's advice over Jocelyn's, or something. That girl was stepping on everyone's toes.
"Alas." Emily smiled and gulped the punch. Jocelyn was nice. She liked Jocelyn.
"Oh, to be a fly on the wall."
"Mmmm." Emily agreed distractedly. Something was nudging at her brain. The snatches of the recent conversations were booming through her head, the recollections bombing her in stereo.
" to tear at Andy in front of everyone." said Paul.
" efficient, frugal, innocent girl " said Irv.
" a fly on the wall." said Jocelyn.
Inspiration struck like a thunderbolt. A wonderful, gut-clenching thing. A pure Michelangelo moment.
So fucking brilliant it made her giddy.
"Huh." Emily said, amazed by the simplicity of the thought. She dug in her bag and almost lost her balance. "Perhaps we can arrange that, luv."
She straightened up, held up by the tilting wall, raised her chin and raised her voice over the din.
"This is my present to us, the suffering, the hungry, and the proud! To us, the dignified, the unbending! To us who are left behind." In bloody New York. During Paris fashion week. "Let us all enjoy the demise of the fat wonderworker."
And then she flicked the tiny switch on the Bluetooth transmitter.
Return to The Devil Wears Prada Fiction
Return to Main Page