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.
SERIES: This is the second in the Lock Series.
When Locks Get Locked
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
Miranda strode into her office tossing her coat and bag onto her second assistant's desk in a move that had been her habit for years. The only variation in this procedure had begun recently when the editor discovered her rebellious forelock could only be tamed by the slender fingers of the young brunette who sat behind the desk. So for the past months she had paused at Andréa's desk and waited while the girl stroked the silky white bang into submission.
This particular morning Miranda waited as usual and waited and waited. Really. What was wrong with the girl? They all had work to do. Andy had taken the coat and bag and turned away to store them in the coat closet. The editor arched an eyebrow as her eyes narrowed in irritation.
Emily, standing at her desk behind Miranda, froze. Her eyes widened in terror as she realized her coworker was ignoring their boss. All that weight has pressed her brain into mulch. She's bloody insane. Is she trying to get us both killed? Emily tried frantically to get Andréa's attention without getting Miranda's. Finally, Andy turned back to her own desk. Glancing over the editor's shoulder, the brunette bit sharply into her bottom lip to keep from laughing.
The redhead was gesturing wildly, pointing first to Miranda and then shoving her fingers through her own hair in an exaggerated pantomime of what Andy needed to do, throwing the auburn strands into wild disarray. The problem was the brunette did not want to do it. The tingle that had started in her fingers had begun to spread throughout her body. The whole rebellious bang thing was evidently highly contagious and Andy's own hair had caught it. She hated what she had to do to get her own hair under control after feeling the silken glide of Miranda's across the back of her fingers. The whole situation seemed to amuse Emily to no end which was one of the two good points in the entire thing since it left the Brit in a remarkably good mood for the rest of the morning. The other thing was that she got to touch Miranda. It was wonderful to ghost her fingertips across the editor's forehead as the white strands slid across her fingers. Andy was positive she had never felt anything quite so soft. She could not help wondering if that softness was reflected elsewhere on her boss. Ok, that was just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is Miranda. People have died for less. Just do your job and maybe she'll let you live.
What is she waiting for? Miranda thought. An engraved invitation? Her irritation at the delay took physical form as a Prada clad toe began to tap against the plush carpeting.
The unnatural silence in the room reminded Andy of the early morning hours after a major snow storm, which only served to make the subdued tapping sound like the tympanis in the opening measures of A Space Odyssey. Taking a deep breath, she reached out and stroked the gossamer white strands into place. As she did, the brunette could feel the tickle at her hairline that signaled the rise of her own bangs.
Satisfied, Miranda turned to her first assistant. An arched eyebrow and pursed lips gave the editor's opinion of what she saw.
"Really, Emily. Did you suffer a psychotic break on your way in this morning? Fix your hair. This is Runway, after all." Miranda spun on her heel and entered her office.
Once the editor was safely behind her desk, Andy grabbed a small bag from under her desk and made a beeline for the elevators.
Emily pulled a mirror out of a desk drawer and paled when she saw the way her hair was sticking out around her head. Yanking out a brush, she began to put them back in order. I'm going to kill that bloody cow. The moment Miranda no longer needs her on Bang Patrol, I'm going to strangle the twit with that hideous blue monstrosity she calls a sweater.
While the Brit was muttering and fussing with her hair, Andy was headed for the Ladies Room on the Auto Universe floor. Weeks before she had estimated it to be the least used room in the building as the car magazine had very few female employees. She was right, which was a great relief as she now had to take drastic measures to tame her own recalcitrant bangs.
Once inside the room, she checked the stalls to make sure they were empty. Then she dragged the large metal trash can in front of the door wincing at the racket it made. With her early warning system in place, because she could not afford to be caught doing what she was about to do, Andy opened the bag and took out her tools lining them up neatly on the counter. She unbuttoned her blouse and folded it neatly, laying it to the side out of the way. Opening the cold water tap fully, Andy took a deep breath and stuck her head under the stream. As the icy water hit her bang, it wilted. She tolerated it for as long as she could before grabbing a towel and standing up to mop at the sodden mess that was her bangs. Miranda's get tucked neatly into place and mine get a cold shower. There's something seriously wrong here. Huffing in frustration, she unfolded the small travel blow dryer and began to style her hair for the second time that day.
Oh, bloody hell. She's not back yet. Emily looked hopefully at the outer door but there was no sign of Andy down the long corridor. With a sigh, she gathered her pad and stepped into Miranda's office.
The editor ran her eyes slowly up the person standing in front of her desk. Slowly removing her glasses, she tapped one arm of them against her lower lip.
"I believe, Emily, that I called Andréa. I'm not sure when your hearing became so faulty that the two names sound the same but you might want to see to that. They're doing wonderful things with hearing aids these days. Now why don't you go call an audiologist for yourself and send Andréa in."
Gripping her pad tightly and holding it as a shield against possible attack, Emily plunged ahead. "I'm sorry, Miranda, but she's not here."
"Not here. Why would she not be here? I don't recall sending her anywhere. She should be at her desk waiting for me to do so." Reasoning that seemed perfectly logical to Miranda. The second assistant was not supposed to breathe without her say so.
"She stepped out right after you entered your office. I'm sure she'll be right back. Is there something I can do for you?"
Not unless your hair lengthens, darkens and your bust grows two sizes in the next 30 seconds. "No, Emily. Find Andréa and send her in as I requested. She should not be too hard to miss. She is rather large." Waving her hand dismissively, the editor slipped her glasses back on her nose and returned to perusing the newspapers on her desk. Where is that girl?
Emily was secretly thrilled by Miranda's description of her coworker but she was not unbalanced enough to let her boss see that. Hurrying back to her desk, she began to call around trying to locate the brunette. It was a big building but Emily was tapped into a healthy grapevine that wove through it. If the bane of her existence was in the building, the Brit would find her.
Moments later, she was back in Miranda's office practically vibrating with joy at what she had found out.
"Miranda, I found Andrea. She's down in the Auto Universe offices."
Blue eyes narrowed dangerously. There were only two reasons for Andréa to be down there. To Miranda's knowledge there were no open positions there and even if there were she would not allow Andréa to leave her for that cultural wasteland. The only other thing that floor offered was men in all shapes and sizes. Ignoring the almost nauseous feeling the thought gave her, Miranda latched instead onto the sheer anger it produced. How dare she. How dare that mere slip of a girl be off fraternizing on my time. Furious the editor tossed her glasses on the desk, grabbed her ever present cell phone and strode out of her office towards the elevators. She would put an end to this at once. The girl had no business chasing after some second rate hack writer when she was supposed to be involved with cookboy.
Miranda suppressed a shudder as she rode down in the elevator. She had glimpsed the unkept burger flipper while he waited to pick up Andréa after work one evening. The girl really could do much better much. A young woman with her potential needed someone who could guide her and open doors that might otherwise remain closed. Not some uncouth hash slinger that could never appreciate what he had. The girl grew daily, learning to anticipate her boss and perform her duties with unending competence. If she kept up at this rate, Miranda planned to take her to Paris instead of Emily. But did that curly, unshaven lout appreciate the woman Andréa was becoming? From what Miranda observed, the answer was a resounding NO.
Perhaps that was why the brunette was down in Manland, as the clackers referred to Auto Universe. Well, there was no one there who could appreciate her as much as she was already appreciated at Runway. It might be in Miranda's best interest to make her appreciation a bit more obvious. She pushed that thought away almost as soon as it formed. One did not need praising for doing one's job. One simply needed to be at one's desk doing it.
The doors slid open and the devil prepared to storm Manland. As she passed the Ladies Room a loud racket diverted her attention. The door flew open and the subject of the editor's thoughts barreled into her, their heads knocking together.
Miranda hissed as Andy uttered a loud, "Owwwww," a exclamation that only got louder when the editor tried to separate their foreheads. "Miranda, stop! That hurts!"
"I am aware of that, Andréa. Be kind enough to let go of me."
"I can't," Andy responded.
"Oh, really, Andréa. It isn't so difficult. Even you can do it."
Andy's sigh was pure exasperation. "I can't let you go because I'm not holding onto you in the first place and stop pulling my hair."
"I am not pulling your hair, you are pulling mine." Andy swore Miranda's voice left frost on her eyelashes. "Now step back."
"I can't. We're stuck!" The brunette could not think of anything she wanted less right now than to be stuck forehead to forehead with Miranda Priestly, especially not in the editor's current mood. It always amazed her the way the older woman could breathe fire and be so icy at the same time.
"Nonsense." Miranda sniffed. "Stand still and let me deal with this."
Andy bit down on the tip of her tongue to keep from reminding her boss that she was not the one who kept moving. Lips firmly pressed together, she waited while Miranda felt around both their foreheads.
"What did you put on your hair?"
The unexpected question took the brunette by surprise.
"Aqua Net," she blurted.
"Why ever are you using that? It's harmful to living creatures and probably even several mythic beasts."
Evidently, dragons weren't among those harmed. Andy blushed and tried desperately to think of anything other than the touch of those cool fingertips on her heated skin. "I noticed you using it so I thought it might do the job."
"Yes, well, you seem to have glued us together," Miranda observed, seeming perfectly calm. The truth was she was seething inside. She could not remain this close to the girl without giving something away, nor could she remain in the hallway of Manland while standing so close she could feel Andréa's breath on her lips. While she had no doubt of her ability to handle anything Irv came up with, she really would prefer he not hear about this. She needed to be able to see what she was doing. The mirror in the Ladies Room would help. Attempting to turn, she only succeeded in pulling Andy off balance and bumping their foreheads together.
"Um, Miranda, it might help if you tell me before you do that." Reaching up to rub what she was sure would be a bruise forming above her eyebrows, her fingers tangled with Miranda's.
"Andréa, this really isn't the time to hold hands. Perhaps later. Right now, we need to get to a mirror. I suggest the Ladies Room. Shall we?" Miranda gestured to her right.
Did Miranda just suggest ? Nah, can't be. Watching her boss carefully, Andy tried to step when she did but they only succeeded in bumping again while Miranda stepped on the toe of her assistant's shoe.
"It cannot be this complicated." Miranda muttered as she paused to think which, admittedly, was not easy with the girl standing so close. She had been this close to people in the past and moved in concert with no accidents. It worked when two people moved towards a bed while kissing. Her eyes flickered to the girl. Nice thought but Andréa would probably faint and yank both of their hair out when she fell so that idea was out. People also moved together when they that would work.
"Andréa, we're going to dance to that door."
"Dance?" It was not that long ago Andy had worried about Miranda's sanity, she was leaning that way again.
"Yes, dance. Trust me. This will work." The editor linked their hands together and slipped the other arm around the girl's waist. She's much more slender than I thought.
As Miranda began to dance them towards the door, Andy followed as if they had always moved like this together. She was amazed how easy it was. The subtle pressures of Miranda's fingertips on her back or hand told her exactly where and how to move. They moved gracefully through the door and over to the mirror.
Miranda studied their reflections while willing her body to calm down. Holding Andréa close, feeling their bodies move together, bushing lightly, was even more divine than she had imagined. It was an experience she wished to repeat often. For now, she needed to get them separated and back to work.
Andy watched the icy blue eyes widen as Miranda viewed their problem. She supposed she should be helping but when would she ever have the chance to be this close to her boss again. She much preferred to spend the time looking her fill at the editor. Even at close inspection, her skin was perfection. Her lips seemed much fuller and so very kissable. The brunette wondered what her boss would do if she leaned that last little distance and tasted them. Probably strangle me with her own hands. Somehow the thought of Miranda's hands on her was not as scary as it should have been. Andy found she quite liked the idea.
Miranda was shocked to find that their bangs were not just stuck to each other. They were intertwined, almost braided together. Any thought she had of dampening their hair to release them was dropped. They were going to need help to pick their bangs apart, nor could it be done here where anyone could walk in on them. The story would be all over the building in a flash if they were seen. This would have to be handled delicately. With a sigh, she flipped open her phone and punched speed dial. She started talking immediately, not allowing the person on the other end a moment to respond.
"Clear the hallway from the elevator to my office. If I see one person, you will be looking for new employment within the hour. Call Nigel to ensure it stays that way. Have Serena waiting in my office with a full range of hair supplies. Take the elevator to the Auto Universe floor and wait with the door open. You have two minutes."
Flipping her phone shut, she looked into huge questioning doe eyes. Those lips were so incredibly close. For a moment, it was all Miranda could think of. Would they feel as lush as they looked? A slight movement and she would know. Mentally shaking herself, the editor refocused on the problem at hand.
"Our hair is hopelessly tangled together. We need to return to Runway's offices and we need to do it without being seen."
"Ok." Miranda looked into trusting doe eyes. Andy had no doubt the editor would handle this as she handled everything else, calmly and with efficiency.
"Shall we dance?"
"Emily, what is going on?" Nigel asked as he hurried in, followed by Serena pulling two rolling bags.
"I have no idea. Serena, wait in Miranda's office, please. Nigel, you are to make sure no one steps foot in this corridor. I'll be right back." The Brit pushed the button for the elevator.
"I repeat, I don't know. When was the last time Miranda explained herself to any of us? For that matter, when was the first time?"
"Point made," Nigel conceded.
"Right. Back in a mo." She stepped into the elevator and was gone.
"Nigel." He looked to where Serena was leaning against Miranda's doorway. "Any idea what we're doing here?"
"None, other than we're doing as Miranda instructed. I suppose we'll find out soon enough, or not. I have found that I'm often better off not knowing. This is feeling like one of those times. Now back in there before Her Majesty arrives and has us all beheaded."
Emily gaped as Miranda and Andy waltzed down the hallway and into the elevator. Literally, waltzed, as in ¾ time. All that was missing was the promenades and she was not quite sure but that Miranda used one of those to sweep the brunette into the elevator, though it was a poor one as their heads were too close together. Emily thought Miranda could do better. She'll never make Dancing With The Stars with a move like that.
"Close the door. Quickly, Emily." Miranda looked neither right nor left but seemed only to stare into the wide brown eyes that gazed back at her. Punching one button, Emily did so and then pressed the number for Runway's floor. She remained staring straight ahead, unsure what to do next.
"Is everyone in place?" Miranda asked.
"Yes, Miranda," Emily responded.
"Good. When the doors open, check to make sure the hall is clear all the way to my office and then get out of the way."
"Andréa, do you Quick Step?"
They rode in silence until the car came to a halt and the doors opened. Emily stepped out and looked to Nigel, who signaled the all clear.
"No one's around, Miranda," she informed her boss, stepping off the elevator and to the side while holding the door open with one hand. She watched as Nigel's mouth fell open and the two women Quick Stepped rapidly down the hall and into the editor's office. The door swung smartly shut by one flicked Prada clad heel as they passed.
"Emily, did you " Nigel started only to be cut off.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Nigel. It's business as usual here." The Brit strode purposefully to her desk where she sat and began to type. "I'm very busy today. I believe I need to reschedule Miranda's morning appointments. Surely, there's something you need to be doing as well."
"Yes, I need to go over the new layouts, maybe check up on Jocelyn for this afternoon's run through. Then I believe I'll hang myself in the closet. Can't be any crazier than anything else around here today."
She ignored him as he walked out throwing up his hands.
Miranda could not resist throwing in a set of fast moving flick kicks before she brought them to a halt. It quite impressed her that Andy was able to keep up with her flashing feet. The girl can actually dance. Delightful in one normally so clumsy.
Serena gaped at the two women who came to a stop in front of her.
"Serena, one would think you had never seen anyone dance. Close your mouth and fix this." The editor's voice was deadly, leaving no room for discussion.
The Brazilian walked slowly around them trying to look as if she was studying the problem. Things would go much smoother if she only knew what this was that she was supposed to fix. "Perhaps, if you stepped further apart?" she mumbled, afraid to ask and equally afraid not to.
Miranda rolled her eyes. Andy, seeing the daggers beginning to develop, jumped in to help her coworker. Serena had always been nicer to her than Emily and she saw a chance to pay the South American beauty back.
"That's just it, Serena. We can't. Our bangs are stuck together."
Slipping on her glasses for a better look, the Brazilian peered intently at the tangled locks. "Hmmm. They appear to be braided. How did this happen?"
"What difference could that possibly make?" Miranda snapped, her eyes glaring sideways at Serena.
Feeling the temperature in the room sliding inexorably into the arctic ranges, Andy, not stopping to think of the consequences, slipped her hand into Miranda's. She tried to capture those frigid blue eyes with her own, but had little success. Finally, she squeezed the fingers she held gently to re-focus the editor's attention on herself. Smiling softly, she tried to warm the icy depths of Miranda's eyes with her own.
The fashionista found herself trapped in molten chocolate. The fingers wrapped gently around her own were making the room seem warmer. She could not help searching the doe-like richness, looking for she knew not what. Just something, anything to tell her what the girl felt being so close to her boss. There was humor, a twinkle of mischief, such unbelievable warmth and caring, and a flicker of no, that had to be wrong. So intent was the editor that she flinched as something moved close to her face.
"It's just a comb, Miranda," the girl whispered, her breath ghosting over the editor's lips.
The older woman could not stop the anger that flared at being caught unawares, at appearing as if she needed reassurance. She, Miranda Priestly, needing to be reassured by this mere slip of a girl? It was preposterous. How dare she?
"I am quite aware of what a comb is, Andréa. I do believe I had that knowledge before you were even born." Why did they have to be standing so close? Close enough for the editor to see the flicker of hurt she caused. For the first time, Miranda felt guilt towards someone other than her children, which only served to make her feel unsettled. Why did Andréa affect her so? Yes, the girl was attractive, beautiful even, but that did not explain the swirl of emotions that plagued her when the brunette was around. With a deep breath, she tried to ignore the tightening in her chest and concentrated instead on the gentle flicking of the comb Serena wielded.
"Where did you learn to dance?" the editor found herself asking. I'm making small talk. I'm completely losing my mind.
"Umm a friend taught me," Andy replied trying to look anywhere but at Miranda, which only served to pique the fashionista's interest. Hurry up, Serena. I do not want to have this conversation. "How's it going, Serena?" Andy tried to redirect the editor's focus from herself.
"Unless you want me to cut you apart, this is going to take a while."
Both women cringed at the thought of scissors coming anywhere near the other's hair. Andy could not imagine Miranda without her forelock and Miranda refused to even conceive of the younger woman without that dark fall of hair brushing her lashes.
"You will continue what you're doing, Serena." She raised her voice only slightly. "Emily."
Even through the door, the Brit reacted to that soft call with a Pavlovian response. Knowing instinctively that she was not to see what was happening in the office, the redhead opened the door only slightly and kept it between herself and the occupants.
"Clear my day. No calls with the usual exceptions. Cancel my dinner with Donatella. Reschedule it for a time she cannot possibly make it. Call Patrick. He is to find a new location for the Dior shoot. Move the run-through to tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure Jocelyn will appreciate the extra time, in exchange for which there will be no mistakes. That's all."
"Yes, Miranda." The door closed silently behind the Brit.
Andy's eyes jerked back to Miranda's as she realized the editor was now addressing her.
"I asked what friend," she huffed. "You said a friend taught you to dance. I don't imagine a great number of people your age indulge in formal ballroom dancing."
"No, probably not, though I think it's gaining in popularity."
"Yes, yes." Miranda waved that away as inconsequential. "We were discussing your friend."
"Just someone I knew," Andy attempted evasion once again.
"I doubt a casual acquaintance took the time to teach you a proper flick kick, Andréa."
The brunette glanced at Serena who stood beside them carefully separating dark strands from white. The Brazilian shrugged to let her know she was on her own.
"No, not a casual acquaintance. It was someone I dated for a while. We were competition partners. Just amateur rankings," Andy admitted.
"I see. Even amateur levels require a great deal of practice. You must have been quite close." For some reason the idea did not sit well with the editor.
"We were. We we talked about marriage." The brunette shifted uncomfortably. She really wished Miranda would change the subject. She did not like talking about that time in her life.
That Andréa had been serious enough about someone to think of marriage set Miranda to a slow simmer. "I assume you're not speaking of the cook."
"Chef," Andy corrected reflexively. "Nate's a souse chef. And no, it was before him."
Miranda watched carefully as nervous brown eyes swept left and then right, avoiding looking directly at her. There was something the girl was avoiding telling. What was it? She was far too young to have been in two long term relationships. What had happened? The editor was determined to get to the truth. Perhaps a more direct attack.
"You must be remarkably fickle to have switched allegiances so quickly. You've hardly had time to form two such in depth relationships," Miranda scoffed.
Now those doe eyes snapped fire.
"I wasn't the one who crawled into bed with my roommate two weeks before I was supposed to get married," Andy snapped. "Nate and I were already friends and he was there to help pick up the pieces. Besides, it's easier with him."
"Easier?" Miranda jumped on the word. "Taking the easy way is a child's response. You disappoint me yet again, Andréa."
"There's nothing wrong with things being easier now and then, Miranda. At least, Nate will never be able to tear my heart apart like sh " Too late Andy realized what she was saying.
Even Serena could not miss the editor's shocked expression. Really, how did Miranda miss this one? I knew Andy was gay the first moment I met her. Maybe fashion goddesses had no gaydar. She smiled encouragement when a chocolate glance slid her way.
She. Andréa was going to say she. The girl had been in love with a woman and obviously, had been hurt very deeply. Miranda found she would love nothing better than to have that foolish woman in front of her right now. The punishment for hurting her Andréa would be swift and deadly. Immediately on the heels of this thought came the knowledge that the young woman was with cookboy because her heart was safe from him in a way it never would be from a woman.
Andy glanced up to find the hint of a smile curling Miranda's lips. Don't look at her lips, damn. There was way too much knowledge in that tiny smile for Andy's liking. She knows. The brunette sighed in defeat. It was always easier to hide attraction to a woman if that woman did not realize it was a possibility. How was she supposed to disguise her awareness of Miranda now? Her eyes flickered up again. This time the editor caught and held them.
"Not every woman would hurt you that way. The right woman would cherish every moment with you. She would never give you reason to doubt how completely you are loved."
Serena stopped work for a moment to stare at her boss. Did Miranda really just say that? A lightning flash of blue sent her back to her task.
The editor was having trouble believing she had said those words herself. Yet, the moment she spoke she knew them to be true. If she had the chance, she would cherish Andréa Sachs. It surprised her to realize her feelings ran that deeply. Like slipping on a new coat, she tried out the knowledge and found it comfortable. If I don't already love her, it would not be very long before I did. Miranda had never thought herself capable of love in this way. Oh, yes, she loved her children unconditionally. But this feeling towards another adult human being was foreign to her. Attraction? Yes, she could do attraction. She had been attracted to many people over the years. She had been attracted to her husbands, for a time. That coupled with other logical conclusions were why she had agreed to marry them, none of which had been enough. Was this what was required to make such a relationship work long term, this breathless, fiery ache that she only seemed to feel around Andréa? Even her hair was drawn to the girl.
Miranda felt a tightening of her forelock.
"Damn," muttered Serena.
"Your vocabulary leaves much to be desired. What is the problem?"
"Your bangs are even more tangled. Even the ones I had separated have rejoined. I would almost swear I saw them weave closer together."
The editor would have scoffed were it not for the fact that she could almost feel her lips brushing the brunette's while she spoke. They were closer and Miranda could still feel that insistent tug. Doe-eyes searched her own. The fashionista swore they were almost like a touch ghosting over her skin.
"Serena, you may go," Miranda dismissed her.
"You do not want me to "
"That's all," the editor cut her off. For this she did not need an audience. She simply knew the bangs would release on their own accord very shortly. She continued to hold Andréa's eyes with her own until she heard the door open and close. Only then did she allow her thoughts and feelings to show in her eyes. She opened herself and let the woman before her find all the answers she sought. There was a sharply gasped response , a sharper pull on her forelock and then impossibly soft lips caressed her own.
Warm, moist and lush the kiss continued. Slow and gentle their lips moved together, tasting each other for the first time. It was awkward at first as they were still tightly held together at the forehead, but as each relaxed into the kiss so did their bangs, allowing heads to angle for fuller contact. The kiss deepened, tongues coming into play. Miranda's slid under Andy's upper lip and stroked across its length eliciting a quiet moan from the brunette. Unable to stop herself, Andy sucked that tongue deep into her mouth, drawing on it as if she could take it all the way to where she so needed the editor's touch. Passion increased, mouths widened, making the kiss hotter, wetter until they felt they were making love mouth to mouth.
Suddenly, Andy shoved the other woman away. "No."
Miranda staggered back and just managed to catch herself on the desk. They stared at each other, chests rising and falling in unison. The editor was unable to stop herself from watching the movements of the younger woman's full breasts. Unconsciously, Miranda licked her lips. She wanted them, wanted to taste them and every inch of skin on Andréa's body. Her palms itched to touch those curves.
Andy got the message loud and clear. With a cry, she turned and rushed for the door.
The brunette heard her boss but she never paused. Yanking open the door, she ran. Emily and Serena looked up from where they stood talking as she tore past them. Not sure where she was going other than away, Andy kept running down the hallway. Reacting quickly, Emily grabbed her phone and punched a button. After only two rings, it was answered.
"Andrea's heading your way. She's upset."
Nigel, duly alerted, knew to be waiting so that he could hook her elbow with a hand as she rushed past. Smoothly, he swung Andy into his office and shut the door.
"What's going on, Six?"
Gasping for breath, Andy stood in the middle of the room, arms wrapped tightly around her waist. "She she kissed me. I ki-kissed her. We Oh, Nigel, I can't. I just can't."
Sighing, he pulled the girl into his arms and just held her. He felt her shaking as she cried against his shoulder. Thank heavens, he had decided not to wear the silk suit after all. He caringly patted her back and waited for the storm to pass. Miranda, what have you done? It was obvious the fashionista had finally let her feelings towards her assistant be known; however, he was very much afraid his friend had come on too strong. He could just imagine Miranda practicing seduction with a two-by-four. Cavemen would have nothing on the editor.
When the tears seemed to slow, he plucked several tissues from a box on his desk and settled the girl into a chair.
"Now, suppose you tell me exactly what happened?"
Miranda hesitated for a moment, unsure exactly what to do. It was the first time she could remember being indecisive, which was in and of itself unacceptable and something that happened to her all too frequently when it came to Andréa. The young woman never seemed to respond quite as the editor expected. That kiss. It had been Truthfully, Miranda could not begin to describe what it had been, except over much too quickly. If it had been left to the fashionista, it would still be happening. Andréa had ended it. More accurately, she had shoved the editor away and ran as if chased by demons. Which begged the point, why was she still standing here? She needed to find Andréa and straighten this out.
Purposefully, she strode out of her office but the object of her search was not at her desk. Looking over to where her first assistant sat with Serena standing beside her, Miranda arched an eyebrow.
"Try Nigel's office," Emily supplied.
Without a word, the editor continued down the hallway. They watched until she was out of sight.
"Then what happened?" Emily encouraged.
"Then Miranda said that the right woman would cherish Andy and always let her know she was loved."
"Miranda said that? Miranda Priestly? Our Miranda Priestly?" Emily could not help her disbelief.
"Well, yes, English. She did. Then Miranda was very quiet for a moment. They stared into each other's eyes like this." Serena then demonstrated by staring deeply into Emily's eyes until the redhead began to feel a bit breathless herself.
Clearing her throat, Emily glanced away. "Yes, well. Right. And then what?"
"Then Miranda told me to leave," the Brazilian shrugged.
"You must have got their hair separated."
"No. They were tangled even tighter when I left. I think maybe Miranda kissed her."
"What!?! Have you taken leave of your senses? Why ever would Miranda want to kiss her?" Emily could not contain her shock.
"Why would anyone want to kiss a beautiful woman, Emily?" This time Serena's shrug was pure Latina.
Emily sputtered for a moment, quite unhappy with the thought that the Brazilian referred to Andrea Sachs as beautiful. "Well, I, for one, have a great deal of work to do." Turning her back on her friend, the Brit began to type with fiendish speed.
Serena smirked. It's good you do not like me thinking of Andy so. This we will explore again. Gathering her bags of supplies, the Brazilian strolled back to her office convinced things would soon be changing for the better around Runway.
"Why did you run, Six?"
Miranda paused outside Nigel's door. She wanted the answer to this question herself. Her heart tightened at the tear drenched voice that responded.
"You know how Miranda is, Nigel. She throws people away on a whim. They're just so much fodder to her. What happens the first time I screw up? Do I get kicked to the curb because I wore Blahniks instead of Pradas with a Chanel dress? Not to mention she lives for Runway. I'd never mean as much to her as the magazine. What would I be in her life besides a trophy wife she hung on her arm at benefits? That is if she acknowledged me at all. More likely, I'd stay some dirty little secret having an affair with the boss."
"You don't have a very good opinion of her, do you, Andy?" Listening outside, Miranda could have wept at that moment. The irony was almost delicious. She was in love with someone who clearly did not even like her, much less return her love.
"Strangely enough, I do. She's amazing at what she does. I know I'm preaching to the choir on that one, Nigel. You don't have to say it."
"Still the question remains, do you want her, Andy?"
"Yes. God help me, I do. But she'd destroy me, Nigel. When everything happened with Angie well, if Nate hadn't been there, I don't know what I would have done. He, Lily and Doug saved me, literally. That was nothing compared to what I feel for Miranda. I'm strong but I don't think I could survive her tossing me away."
"That's a bit extreme, don't you think?" Nigel chided her.
Her laugh was bitter. "You can keep breathing and still not survive something, Nige, not if kills your heart."
"But your way you never really get to live, Andy. Is that really how you want to spend your life? I'm sure Nate is very nice. But is that what you really want? Nice? You're a lesbian, Andy. You will never love a man the way you would a woman. You know that. You almost walked away from Miranda and Runway in Paris. You told me it was because you didn't want to end up like her. But, don't you see, you already are. Neither of you is willing to love or be loved. You both have walls. Your's are just buried deeper inside where they're harder to see. Miranda saw something of herself in you because she recognized the similarities."
"Her walls are a lot thicker." Andy was not ready to give in yet.
"Which made what she did in her office a few minutes ago all the more amazing. Do you not realize the amount of courage that took? She let you in, Andy, and risked everything to do it. How do you think she felt when you rejected her?"
Large brown eyes met his. She had not thought of that. Had she hurt Miranda? She never wanted to harm the editor. Andy just did not want to get hurt herself. So why did it feel like her heart was breaking at the thought that Miranda's might be?
"You don't play fair, Nigel." The caring was evident in her voice and Miranda felt hope for the first time.
"No, he doesn't. For which I am eternally grateful." Neither had noticed the door swing silently open and Miranda slip into the room.
"Hey." Andy smiled at her shyly.
"Hey, yourself." Miranda's own smile was soft. "We were in the middle of a conversation when you left rather suddenly. I think perhaps there are a great many other things we should talk about as well before we get back to that particular topic. That is, if you're willing?" If she was going to prove to Andréa that things would be different with her, she needed to start right now.
Surprised that Miranda was leaving it up to her and that the editor asked and didn't just order the conversation to happen, Andy's smile went megawatt.
"Yeah, I'd like that."
"I do mean talk, Andréa."
"I know, Miranda. That's why I agreed."
"Then I suggest we let Nigel get back to work. My day seems to be suddenly clear. It's too early for lunch, but I know where we can get wonderful coffee."
"Starbucks?" Andy laughingly guessed.
"Not quite," Miranda's smile turned mysterious. "I promise it will be quiet and you'll like the ambiance."
"All right," Andy acquiesced, wondering what the editor might be up to.
Standing aside, Miranda waited while the young woman preceded her out of the room. The editor stopped at the door and turned back towards her friend.
"Thank you, Nigel. I owe you and I will pay you back."
He knew she meant for more than this morning.
"I know you will. When the time is right."
She nodded once in acknowledgement of the qualification before following Andréa back to her office. The brunette was several feet ahead of her and the editor allowed herself the pleasure of simply watching the woman she loved. It was an activity Miranda knew she would never tire of. There were so many things about the young woman that she found attractive. The way her body moved, the swing of that long dark hair but mostly, she loved the happy bounce that always seemed part of Andréa's step. It was clear Andréa Sachs was in love with life, and if a certain crusty old editor was incredibly lucky, the young woman might just be in love with her too.
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