DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the DWP Fest at Live Journal.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
When Ms. Priestly met Mrs. Sachs
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
Andy stared at the headline on Page Six. She felt darkness creeping in on the edges of her vision. This could not be happening. She closed her eyes and took several slow deep breaths, opening them again, she took in the bold black print once more. Nothing had changed in those moments. The words were still the same, Dragon Lady Hits the Town with New Boy Toy, accompanied by a picture of Miranda with some handsome young nobody wrapped around her. With shaking hands, Andy folded the paper and sat on the edge of her couch.
With trembling hands, she brought her coffee mug to her lips. Caffeine was probably not the best idea right now, but she needed to be doing something. Since she was showered and dressed, coffee was the only part of her morning ritual left.
'That stupid picture!' She just could not get it out of her head. As a journalist, she knew not to take anything on Page Six too seriously. The tabloids were always out to show Miranda in the worst light possible, which explained the headline, but not the photo. True, there were ways to fake pictures; however, as close as she studied this one, Andy could not find any of the usual signs of a composite. The photo was a side shot that clearly showed two people kissing, one of whom was obviously Miranda, her Miranda. There was no mistaking that iconic hairstyle.
She was being foolish, she knew it, but she could not help herself. It was not the first time in her life that she had ended up in a relationship where one person cared more than the other, though it was a first that it was her heart that was totally invested. Usually, it was the other way around. She had known going in that there was a danger of getting hurt by Miranda.
The editor was notoriously closed off, which explained the Ice Queen moniker among others. Andy had known that her time with the other woman would be limited, that this day was coming. She just never expected it to be so soon, nor had she expected Miranda to be so cold-blooded about it. The few times she had allowed herself to imagine this scenario, the young woman supposed that they would sit down and have a civilized talk about it all. One of those types of talks where all agreed it was no one's fault, it was just the way things were. The affair had run its course and it was time for both of them to move on.
Except Andy had thought things were going really well, getting better with each day that passed. She thought Miranda had grown to care for her, maybe not love her but to at least care enough not to let the young woman find out this way. Evidently, she had been wrong, the only one who had cared was Andy.
What did she have to offer someone like Miranda Priestly, after all? She had only just been granted her own by-line, having been a staff writer for the last year. True, she had risen faster than her peers, but how could that compare to being editor of a magazine like Runway, or any magazine really?
'Face it, Andy Sachs is a nobody,' she thought, sipping her coffee. A nobody who's in love with the biggest somebody in fashion. Real bright, Andy.'
Still, the brunette had wished for more time, hoped she could keep the editor's interest for longer than five months. Was it because they had not yet had sex? Andy snorted. That was as much Miranda's doing as hers, both their schedules had been ridiculous. Yet, there had been intimacy and the editor often referred to the journalist as her girlfriend or lover.
'We're lovers who've never made love. Is that even possible?' She had never had cause to worry about that part of their relationship before. They were moving at what seemed to be a comfortable speed for them both, but everything was different now, every action, every word was called into question.
Her eyes were drawn back to the newspaper again as if by a magnet. The picture was still there, her Miranda with some guy, who looked to be about Andy's age, wrapped around her. Just looking at the stupid thing made the journalist's chest hurt. For a moment, she had to close her eyes and remind herself to breathe.
How could Miranda have been so careless as to have ended up in a liplock on Page Six? She and Andy had never even come close to being caught. Of course, the editor had never taken the brunette to such an upscale eatery. Andy had thought it was because they were taking their time to get to know each other, keeping it just between them so their relationship had time to develop without outside pressures. Only the twins knew they were even spending time together, much less that it was moving well beyond friendship.
At least, Andy thought it was, but what if she was wrong? What if Miranda just saw them as a diversion of some type, a bit of fun until something better came along. The editor was infamous for changing her mind seemingly on a whim. Had Andy just been an experiment in lesbianism? The very thought made her stomach roll.
The nausea only increased as she realized she was supposed to have dinner at the town house tonight. There was no way she could face Miranda, or the twins. Hell, she did not think she could look Patricia in the eye without breaking down. There was no place to get away from this in New York. By tonight, it would be all over the tabloids and the internet, even the late night talk shows would get into the act. It was too good a story not to set every tongue wagging. Hell, people would be talking about it on street corner, the subway, maybe even Starbucks.
She began pacing her apartment imagining what it would be like. From the front door to the bathroom and back was a short trip, which seemed to decrease in size with each lap. There would be no escaping this, it would be everywhere. How was she supposed to deal, to walk into that house tonight and pretend in front of Cass and Caro that none of it mattered? Of course, it mattered. How could it not matter?
Aware that her mind was running wild, but unable to stop it, Andy began to imagine even worse scenarios. Would Miranda want to sit down and talk about it, some nice, adult conversation about how it would never have worked between them anyway? How was Andy supposed to survive that? Suddenly, she was desperate to get away from it all, the city, the tabloids and especially Miranda.
The journalist realized she was not thinking clearly. 'Shock,' she thought. 'That's it. I'm in shock. This is a nightmare and I when I wake up it'll be over.' But she knew as she glanced over and saw the paper resting on the table, that it was not a dream, there would be no waking up.
Right now she was just thankful that they had kept their relationship a secret. At least she would not have to face the pitying looks from her friends, with one exception and it was to that exception she turned now, reaching for her cell phone and punching speed dial. She barely waited to hear a muffled, "Hello?" before beginning to speak.
"Have you seen today's Post? If not, wake up and look at it. I'm on my way there now, I can't stay here." Snapping the phone shut without waiting for an answer, Andy was glad she had already dressed for the day before having her morning coffee.
Rushing into her bedroom, she threw clothes into a bag. Tossing the strap over her shoulder, she grabbed her purse and coat. Her phone rang as she reached for the doorknob. Digging out her phone, she hit ignore when she saw Miranda's name on the screen. She did not want to hear what the woman had to say. The picture and headline had already said it all.
Andy just wanted to get away, away from Miranda, away from New York. She hoped the one person who knew about them would help with that goal. Distance was what she needed most right now before the numbness wore off and she began to feel what she had lost. Dropping the phone into her purse, Andy ran out the door as if she could escape it all if she just moved fast enough.
Across town, Miranda Priestly paced her kitchen while staring impatiently at her coffee maker. 'Honestly, why couldn't they make one of these things that would produce a hot cup of coffee the moment you wanted it.' Glancing at the copy of The Post laying on the counter, she tried to call Andréa, going directly to voice mail which told her the young woman had either turned off her phone or currently was using it. Somehow, the editor knew that if her girlfriend had seen the paper she would not be calling Miranda.
A beep let her know the coffee was finally ready. Pouring herself a cup, she scowled over at the paper once again. As she left the restaurant after her dinner meeting a half drunk fraternity boy had grabbed and kissed her on a dare from his friends. Miranda had not realized a photographer had been just a short distance away and seen his chance for a quick buck. She had extracted herself from the clumsy embrace none the wiser until this morning. She could only hope she had the chance to warn Andréa before the girl saw the picture and attending headline.
Trying the phone number again, it rang several times before once again going to voice mail. "Andréa, call me as soon as you get this. It is imperative that we speak at once."
Ending the call, Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. Normally, she would not have seen the paper until she reached her office but the girls had needed a copy each day for a class they were taking. Her impatience with the coffee maker this morning had caused her to flip through their copy to make some productive use of the time.
When she saw the picture, her first thought had been for her girlfriend. If Andréa saw this, it could be the end of them. They had never discussed exclusivity. In truth, they had talked about very little, preferring to spend their limited time together involved in more physical pursuits. Miranda could not help the shiver that traced up her spine as she thought of their last time together. The fashionista did not even recognize herself when she was in the young woman's arms. She wanted things, needed things she had never thought of before. She got lost in the feel of those full lips on hers, craved the caress of them on her body. She could not lose the girl. The simple truth was she loved her. She knew Andréa was not in love with her but she believed the journalist had come to care for her. Miranda hoped in time the feeling would deepen, though she was probably only indulging in wishful thinking. What would a beautiful young woman want with a middle aged mother? The best she could hope for was that it would not end too soon. Whatever it took, Miranda could not let her go, not just yet, because she knew that when Andréa finally did walk away, the parts of her heart that had begun to breathe again would shrivel and die.
With a sigh, Miranda finished her coffee and set the cup in the sink before gathering her bag and coat, as she headed for the door. Roy should be waiting out front, and she would try calling the girl again from the car.
By the time Miranda reached her office, Andy was boarding a small private jet bound for Cincinnati. Sometimes it really did pay to know people who knew other people, the kinds of people that could call in a favor or two to help a friend. One look at the journalist's haunted brown eyes, at the stark pain reflected there and a few phone calls had resulted in a quick escape and the admonition to "Please, talk to Miranda and give her a chance to explain." That was the one thing that Andy just could not do. It was more than she could take to hear the words from her lover that would put an end to them, she never wanted to hear that voice say it was over. The journalist wished that it could simply cease to be, it would be less painful that way. For now, she was going home because right at the moment, adult or not, she really needed her mother.
Miranda stormed through the outer office tossing her bag and coat on the second assistant's desk without spouting her usual list of instructions. At the first glimpse of her boss' face, Emily paled and began to recite every prayer she had ever learned. Whatever was wrong it did not bode well for the staff of Runway. The editor had barely been in the office for a half hour and had already attempted four calls that were not going through evidently. With each attempt, she became that much more waspish.
"Emily." The fashionista hated pulling her assistant into this but she had to talk to her girlfriend as soon as possible.
Grabbing pen and pad, the Brit practically ran into the editor's office.
The editor pinned her assistant with an icy gaze over the tops of her glasses.
"You're friends with Andréa, are you not?"
"Yes, I am," Emily answered carefully, not sure where her boss was headed.
"Where is she, Emily? Have you heard from her this morning?"
Sensing that she was on treacherous ground, the Brit was as truthful as possible. "I'm not sure where she is, but I suppose she could be at work."
"She's not answering her phone. Find her, Emily. If you wish to continue in my employ, find Andréa now." Miranda was unable to keep a hint of desperation from creeping into her voice.
"Yes, Miranda." Rushing back to her desk, Emily pulled out her personal cell phone. 'Bloody hell, Andy, what have you done now and how can you continue to make my life hell when you don't even work here anymore?' Though the redhead had her own thoughts on how that was possible. She had been Miranda's assistant for too long not to have a very good idea what was going on with her boss at any given time.
Miranda had been very happy the last three months and the brunette's reappearance in Miranda's life had coincided quite nicely with the changes in her boss. Emily had been sure Andy Sachs had more than a little to do with this slightly more mellow Miranda. At least, she had until this morning's Post. If Andy was not taking Miranda's calls all of a sudden then perhaps Emily had not been that far wrong. The Brit worshipped Miranda Priestly, Editor and she had developed a certain fondness for Miranda the woman over the years. As perverse as Miranda could be, Emily wanted her to be happy. Everyone deserved that. Besides, a happy Miranda meant a lot less stress for one Emily Charlton so she would find Andy if she had to turn every borough upside down a spade full at a time before starting on New Jersey and all surrounding states.
"Hello, Lily? Have you heard from Andy today? You haven't? Right, I need to find her, call Doug and see if he's heard from her. Try calling her yourself while you're at it. Maybe she'll pick up for you No, I can't explain but it's important. You'll just have to trust me on this one. Right, ta." Hanging up, Emily went in search of Nigel, perhaps he had heard from her.
Andy took a cab from the airport, both her parents would be at work and she did not want to disturb them. What she really wanted was a few hours to decompress before having to answer a lot of questions about why she had come home unannounced.
Letting herself into the house, she trudged up the stairs to her old room. Dropping her bag inside the door, she felt something inside shift and the pain knifed through her taking her breath away. Tears poured down her face and she collapsed to her knees struggling to breathe. Sobs tore loose from her chest, harsh guttural sounds that spoke of unimaginable pain.
Opening the back door and stepping back into the house, Ellen Sachs pulled off her gardening gloves and headed for the cabinet to retrieve a glass. A tall, cold ice water would go well right about now. She had been in her garden most of the morning clearing flowerbeds for the spring planting. Unused snow days had left her with a few extra teacher work days which explained her being home instead of in class. A cold feeling gripped her heart as her ears picked up the first of the sounds.
"Andy!" She raced for the stairs, cabinet door swinging and water forgotten. Like all mothers, Ellen knew the sound of her child's cries and something had shattered her Andrea. Rushing into the room, she threw herself onto the floor and gathered her daughter into her arms. "Shh, baby. Momma's here. I've got you."
Andy turned and threw her arms around her mother who rocked her slowly crooning tender words while the young woman sobbed her pain and anguish into her mother's warm bosom. How long they stayed that way neither knew, Ellen simply did what all caring mothers do, provided her love and comfort until Andy had cried out the worst of it. When at last the storm had slowed to hiccups and sniffles and her child lay shivering in her arms, Ellen tried to find out what happened.
"Andy, baby, what's going on? Why are you here?"
"I cou couldn't stay in New New York. I she oh, Momma, I've lost her." And the tears began anew.
Her? Whoever her was, losing her was devastating to Andy. No one cried like this over the loss of a friend. Only the loss of a child or the love of your life warranted this kind of emotional storm. Since she was sure Andy would have alerted her to any current or pending grandchildren that left only one choice. Her daughter was in love with a woman, who she had evidently lost somehow. Whoever this woman was, if she had actively done something to hurt Andy this way, she had better stay far beyond Ellen Sachs' reach.
Emily was beginning to become as desperate as she knew Miranda must feel. Andy seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Neither Lily nor Doug had heard from her, Nigel had not talked to her in a week, nor had Serena. Andy's friend Sue at the Mirror only knew that the young reporter had called in and requested some time off which her boss was only too glad to grant as she was ahead on all her deadlines. Sue did have an idea of one more person to contact, some police detective that Andy was friendly with, and Emily was waiting for a call back on that. The brunette was not registered on any flight or train that left today or in the next week according to the second assistant, Jill. The Brit was at a loss and could only hope Sue came through for her before Miranda demanded another update. After two hours of constant effort with the fashionista demanding results every ten minutes, even Jill was chanting Emily's mantra with her. "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job," could be heard muttered from both desks in a never ceasing hum. Just as another chilly "Emily" was heard from the inner office, Sue rang through on the Brit's phone.
"Sue, tell me you have good news. Please. Uh huh ..right .yes, I've got it. Thank you so much. I owe you more than you can ever know."
Rushing into Miranda's office, Emily at last had something to report. She just was not too sure how her boss was going to take it.
Jill's head practically sank between her shoulders in a remarkable imitation of a turtle as for the first time in the history of Runway Miranda's voice was raised to almost a shriek.
"Cincinnati!!!!!!!! What the hell is she doing in Cincinnati?"
What Andy was doing was sitting in her parent's kitchen drinking tea while tears leaked silently down her face as she explained to her mother what had been going on in her life for the last three months. That morning's Post lay on the table between them.
"But, Andy, Miranda Priestly? I thought you hated her."
"I thought I did too," Andy sniffed. "Remember what you told me about meeting Dad for the first time?"
Ellen could not help smiling. "I thought he was the most irritating man that ever lived."
"Until you got to know him better. That's how it was with Miranda."
"All the things she did to you when you worked for her though, Andy."
"Mom, you know as well as I do a woman doesn't get to that level in business by being nice. Outside of work, at home with her children, with me, she's totally different. I mean, she's still Miranda so she's demanding as hell, but she's also romantic and thoughtful. She can be so unbelievably loving. I guess she just isn't in love with me."
Her mother reached out and took her hand. "But you're in love with her."
"Yeah," Andy whispered. "But it's over and I need to move on. I can't let her know. I can't let anyone know. I'll look like such an awful fool."
"It's never foolish to love." Ellen smiled softly at her youngest child. "It's who we love that isn't always the wisest choice."
Andy snorted. "That's just it, I don't think I had a choice. From the moment I met her there was just Miranda. Even when I was with Nate and didn't know what I was really feeling for her, it was Miranda. I'm afraid it's always going to be her."
Ellen nodded slowly. "It's how I feel about your father, how my mother felt about your grandfather and her mother before her. Once the women in this family give their hearts, they can never truly take them back."
"I thought you'd be more upset about it being Miranda."
The older woman laughed ruefully. "Well, I admit she wouldn't be my first choice for you. However, I knew Nate wasn't right for you either."
Andy stared at her mother in amazement. "But you never said anything."
"Oh, baby, it wasn't my place to tell you that. Nate well, he's a nice boy but he's just that, a boy. He's got a great deal of growing up to do yet. While you, my wise little soul, always gravitated to the adults. Even as a child you preferred the company and conversation of grownups. When the family would all get together, you'd rather spend hours talking to your grandfather than play with the other children. So, no, it doesn't surprise me you'd lose your heart to someone so much older. I just wish it had turned out better."
"So do I," Andy said with a sad little smile. "So do I."
"You will find me a way to get to Cincinnati. I don't care who you call or how you arrange it., just get me there, Emily. Reschedule whatever you have to. You can tell Irv I personally said he could go to hell and take his budget with him. I do not care. Just get me to wherever she is. That's all."
Miranda waved her assistant out of her office without bothering to glance up to see if she had gone. 'What could the girl be thinking to go halfway across the country like that? ' The editor had a sinking feeling that if she waited for Andréa to come back she would lose her place in the girl's life. Unless something had happened with her family, the journalist was running, running away from Miranda. 'If it was something to do with her family, she would have contacted me.' No, this had to be about that picture, Andréa had seen it and thought the worst.
'But why run from me? Why not stay and confront me?' The girl was no longer afraid of her, she had made that more than clear on several occasions, thinking nothing of standing up to Miranda whenever she disagreed with her.
The editor would never admit it but she became oddly excited whenever Andréa stood toe to toe with her. What the fashionista had found tiresome in her ex husbands, she found exhilarating in the younger woman. When her lover was angry or upset, she drew herself up straight and adopted a regal bearing compounded with flashing eyes and an assertive demeanor that practically drove the older woman to orgasm just from watching her. This was the woman Andréa would become in later years and Miranda desperately wanted to be there every step of the way to see the transformation take place.
No, the journalist would not run from her if she was angry or upset, but if she was hurt the editor had seen it before, when someone had said or done something to hurt Andréa the girl's first reaction was to withdraw. The one time Miranda had lashed out at her lover with hurtful words, the journalist had said nothing, merely risen from her place at the table, said good-bye to the twins and walked out quietly. The editor had been sure the young woman would call her later that night or the next day. But days had passed without a word from her. After almost a week, the older woman had come to understand that her girlfriend would not tolerate being treated in such a manner. Whatever the fashionista said or did to the rest of the world notwithstanding, she was required to treat Andréa with consideration and respect or lose her. Miranda Priestly was a proud woman. What she was not, was a stupid woman. She appeared that night on the journalist's doorstep and apologized. She had never made that mistake again.
This time Andréa did not just go home and refuse to call. She left the city, the state, the Eastern Seaboard and flew halfway across the country. The journalist must be beyond hurt to have reacted like that. For that kind of extreme reaction then she must
'She loves me. Oh, sweet heaven, she loves me!' Miranda thought for a moment she was going to faint. She had to make this right.
Rising from her chair, she rounded her desk and strode into the outer office.
"Emily, call Roy. He's to pick me up downstairs in ten minutes. Call Nigel and have him meet me in the Closet. We'll pack a bag for me there; I won't waste time going home first. Call Donatella and borrow her private jet. Offer her anything. Bribe her if you must. I'll even put one of her atrocious designs in next month's issue if I have to, just get me that plane. I'm on my way to the airport. I expect it to be ready to depart when I get there. Do not fail me, Emily." With that she walked purposefully down the hallway.
"I won't, Miranda." Emily knew exactly what to tell Donatella to get that plane immediately. The woman always had been a sucker for a love story. "Jill, handle the calls to Roy and Nigel. Nigel first." Reaching for her phone, the Brit began to do what she did best, work magic for Miranda Priestly.
In less than five minutes, Miranda and Nigel, with a Louis Vuitton bag slung over his shoulder, were back.
"I don't expect to be gone more than a day or two. I'm sure there's nothing that you and Emily can't handle. You can reach me on my cell if there's a major issue." Stopping in front of her first assistant's desk, Miranda continued. "Emily, you can send me the book each night electronically. I'll be taking my laptop. What did the plane cost me?" This last as if getting the plane were a foregone conclusion, which for the editor it was.
"Um well." Emily blushed.
"Spit it out, Emily. I haven't got all day. What did she want? How many hideous dresses do I have to hide in the back pages?"
"None." The Brit hastened to assure her boss.
"None? However did you manage that? What's it going to cost me instead?" Miranda's eyes narrowed as if she sensed a trap.
The editor rolled her eyes. "While I always appreciate brevity, monosyllabic inanity tries my patience. Explain yourself and be quick about it."
Glancing at Nigel, unsure how much Miranda wanted revealed in front of him and equally unsure how much she wanted the editor to realize she knew, Emily continued.
"Yes, dinner. Being Italian and therefore a great fan of 'amore', she wishes only to meet the reason you need the plane in the first place," the Brit finished in a rush.
"Oh." Miranda was stunned momentarily speechless. Firstly, because Emily obviously knew why she was chasing after Andréa and secondly, because Donatella truly was her friend and willing to help to gain her happiness.
"Brava, Emily," she whispered just loud enough for the redhead to hear which was enough for the Brit who preened under the praise.
"Roy is waiting for you. Do you need assistance with your bag?" Emily reminded gently, rising to retrieve Miranda's coat and handbag.
Miranda took them while looking her assistant in the eye. "I believe you've been undervalued. We'll talk on my return regardless of the outcome. Nigel is accompanying me to the airport. Re-direct his calls accordingly. He'll have your instructions when he returns."
"Of course, Miranda," Emily responded as her boss turned away. "And, Miranda "
The editor turned back, eyebrow raised in irritation at the delay.
The fashionista opened her mouth to speak, closed it, tried again and still could not manage what to say. Finally, she simply nodded and flinging her coat over her shoulder headed for the elevator, Nigel in tow.
"What was that all about?" Jill wondered.
Emily returned to her desk and glared daggers at the other woman. "That was about Miranda Priestly which is all you need to know. Now get to work," she finished and began typing rapid fire at her keyboard.
"Sweetie, your father will be home soon, any idea what you might like for dinner?" Ellen called over from her place in a flowerbed to where her daughter was napping in the sun. It was still very much sweatshirt weather but it felt good to be outside.
Andy stretched along the length of the recliner, arching her back with a soft moan. She could not help remembering that such a movement always brought an answering sound from Miranda followed by soft lips latching on to delicate body parts. The editor had made no secret of the fact that she adored her lover's body. Miranda's entire life's work was devoted to beauty so it should not have surprised Andy that her girlfriend was so easily visually stimulated. What did surprise the journalist was that the fashionista thought she, Andy Sachs, was beautiful. That was until Miranda explained that the clothing featured in Runway required ultra thin models to allow for proper draping in presentation. In her personal taste, the editor had always admired more voluptuous women. The type of figure that Dior, Coco Chanel and other designers of the 1950's and 60's had clothed. Full breasted women with hourglass shapes. It had amazed Andy that Miranda was fascinated with her breasts. Indeed, it was always the first part of her body the editor reached for used to reach for. She would never feel Miranda's hands or lips on her body again.
Andy pushed the thought away before she began to cry yet again. As it was she had to blink back the tears and clear her throat before she could answer her mother.
"Whatever you have planned will be fine. I'm not all that hungry anyway."
"I imagine not. But you will eat. Making yourself sick won't help very much," Ellen advised.
"Yes, Mother." Andy rolled her eyes though it really felt good to have someone worry over her. Right now she needed that even if she did know that it would get very old after a few days.
"I think it's probably warm enough to grill outside. I'll call your dad and have him pick up something. Do you want anything while I'm in the house?"
Andy sighed. "Nothing we have here anyway."
Drawing off her gloves, Ellen ran a hand over her daughter's sleek hair marveling at the way she seemed to grow more beautiful with each year that passed. If nothing else, Andy had come into her own appearance wise while being associated with Miranda Priestly. "It will get easier," she murmured dropping a kiss on top of Andy's head in passing.
Andy offered up a weak smile. "One can only hope."
Miranda was in the air before she realized she had no idea where in Cincinnati she was going or what ground transportation was available. Turning on her phone, she found messages waiting for her, one from her girls and one from Emily. She started with the twins.
"Mom," Cassidy's voice filled her ear. "We have a pretty good idea where you're going and why."
Caroline took over. "We just want you to know we think she's cool."
"Do not, however, bother to come back without her," Cassidy continued in an eerie imitation of her mother.
"That's all," Caroline finished up before they hung up giggling.
Miranda could not help smiling at their antics. They were a handful and more like her than she cared to admit, but she adored them unconditionally. She could swear that Andréa was coming to feel the same way about them, a fact that delighted her.
The message from Emily was equally concise.
"Miranda, a car and driver will meet you when you land. I provided them with the address of Andrea's parents. They also have the name of the hotel where I made a reservation for you. I booked you a suite and requested no freesias. If all is not to your satisfaction, let me know and I'll sort them out straight away."
It was definitely time for Emily to receive a promotion or a healthy raise. Miranda decided to leave it to the Brit's preference since she was truly loathe to lose such a capable assistant just when she was realizing the younger woman's value to her. Perhaps, with sufficient incentive, Emily would choose to remain with her, just so long as the redhead did not expect the editor to actually be nice. Miranda shuddered at the thought.
Opening her laptop, she tried to get some work done, but thoughts of Andréa kept intruding. Her mind drifted to the day the journalist had walked back into her life, or more accurately crashed into it. Well, Patricia was the one who had done the actual crashing. Miranda made a mental note to buy the dog a steak. The monster hound had done her a huge favor, after all.
In an effort to have more quality time with her girls, Miranda had taken to the practice of the three of them walking Patricia in Central Park on Sundays. It provided exercise for all and gave the three Priestlys the chance to talk without the usual distractions. Their mother found the girls to be more forthcoming in the casual setting, chatting away about boys Caroline was interested in, sports Cassidy wanted to try and their mutual and separate friends.
One unseasonably warm Sunday they had been near Bethesda Fountain when suddenly Patricia had bolted, not expecting the sudden tug on the leash it had flown right out of Miranda's hand. The girls had run screaming after the large dog, who appeared to be making a beeline for someone stretched out on a blanket and reading. Miranda had hurried after with visions of lawsuits floating in her head.
Reaching the blanket, the editor found her two girls squealing and giggling as they tried to wrestle the enormous dog off of whomever it was Patricia seemed intent on smothering. All Miranda could see of the person were two arms and two denim clad legs. Her aesthetic senses registered that the legs were long and well shaped, obviously female, but she thought little more of it as she waded in to try and shift her dog before the person suffocated. Grasping the leash, she gave it a sharp tug.
"Patricia, come." The massive fur ball rose lazily and stepped off her human mattress to reveal a very winded Andréa Sachs trying to catch her breath and laugh at the same time.
"Hello, Miranda," the girl choked out.
'She's beautiful. Why did I never notice before?' Miranda thought, but what she said was, "Really, Andréa, must you distract my dog in such a manner."
She did not think her comment was all that funny but the journalist seemed to find it hysterical as she dissolved into laughter yet again.
"Oh, my gosh, Miranda. Don't ever change," the girl grinned up at her.
"I had not planned to do so."
"Good. The world would be a poorer place if you did."
"I know a number of people who would argue that point with you," the editor sniffed.
"Cowards, the lot of them," Andy laughed. "You keep things interesting just by being you."
Not quite sure how to respond, Miranda kept silent. Not so the twins.
"Andy! How are you?" Caroline asked.
"I'm good. You?"
"We're both good," Cassidy answered for them.
"How'd that class of yours go? Pass with flying colors?"
"You know we did. I sent you an email about it," Caroline responded.
Miranda stiffened. "You email my daughters?"
Andy stood up and attempted to brush the dog hair off her clothes while she thought about how to answer.
"Actually, Mom, we email her."
"I'm not at all sure I like a member of the press spying on me through my children."
Glancing at her watch, Andy chuckled. "Well, that took less time than I thought."
"What did?" Miranda could not help asking.
"You mounting your broom." Grabbing up her blanket and book, the journalist stuffed them both in a backpack. "See you around, girls. Maybe you shouldn't email me anymore." Turning she started back across the park.
"Mom, how could you?" Caroline was visibly upset.
Cassidy was less obvious but still made her thoughts known. "She didn't do anything to you. That was just mean."
Miranda could not believe she was being reprimanded by her own daughters and over a former assistant. She did not like it in the least, especially since they were so obviously right. Even less did she like the image of Andréa walking away from her yet again. Before she could stop herself, she found she was hurrying after the girl.
"Andréa. Do not make me chase you through this park."
"A moving target is harder to hit, Miranda," Andy tossed back over her shoulder.
"I will not throw an apology at you. You must stop if you wish to hear it."
Andy came to such an abrupt halt that Miranda all but plowed into her. That fleeting moment of their bodies pressed together left both women a bit breathless.
"You mentioned an apology," Andy encouraged.
"Yes, well. My earlier comment might have been somewhat uncalled for," Miranda allowed.
The journalist laughed. "Not as good as an 'I'm sorry' but I'll take what I can get. You're forgiven, Miranda."
The editor did not remember the girl being this forward in the past. She found the changes in Andréa to be quite intriguing. She was pleased to note that the younger woman had not lost all her fashion sense in the time she had been away from Runway. While her clothes were not this season, they were good quality and fit her very well, especially the jeans. Miranda had caught herself admiring the view as she followed Andréa across the park. Maybe there was one good thing about the journalist walking away from her. The deep V neck red sweater the girl was wearing under an unzipped leather jacket was even better. The editor had never seen her former assistant showing quite so much cleavage, not even in formal wear.
'Miranda Priestly is checking out my boobs. Stranger yet, I like that she's checking them out.' For a moment, the thought made Andy want to turn and run. Almost unconsciously she took a deep breath to fill the neckline just that much more. Noticing that the twins were distracted by a few kids kicking a soccer ball, she dared to whisper, "My face is up here, Miranda."
The editor snapped her head up blushing deeply until she realized where Andy's attention had gone. "So is mine, Andréa."
"It's a beautiful view either way." Andy gave her that heart stopping smile that Miranda remembered so well and had missed more than she cared to admit.
"Thank you," the fashionista murmured. She had received many such compliments over the years, though she did not remember any that so blatantly referred to her breasts, at least outside the bedroom. Why then did this silly, disappointing girl's admiration seem so much more real and important?
"Would I be pushing my luck if I asked you out for a drink?" The journalist thought she might as well go for it, she had figured out long ago that her interest in the editor went beyond the typical employee/boss crush. There would probably never be another chance like this one.
"Most probably," the editor responded, her face an expressionless mask. "But then you seem to be making a habit of pushing your luck today. It might just extend a bit further."
Andy laughed. "In that case, would you like to have a drink with me, Ms. Priestly."
"I think that I would like that very much, Ms. Sachs." Her lips curled in just the hint of a smile. "When did you have in mind?"
"Well, as long as I'm pushing, might as well shove it right out the window. I was thinking now would be a good time."
'Why not,' Miranda thought. The girls seemed to like Andréa, even Patricia liked her. Nothing could be more innocent than the four, or rather five, of them having a drink together. Well, two drinks, two sodas and a bowl of water to be exact.
"In that case, we'd all be delighted."
Andy led the way out of the park to a small café that had sidewalk seating. She even managed to convince the waiter to provide a libation for Patricia, which thrilled the girls. After she finished her water, the dog curled up under the table which left little room for their feet so they all slid off their shoes and propped them on the warm fur. They spent the next hour catching up, or rather, Miranda listened while Andy and the girls caught up. She found it oddly peaceful, something she did not remember having much of in her life prior to this. It was a feeling the editor knew could become addictive if she was not careful. Somehow she just could not bring herself to care.
The attendant coming back to let her know they would be landing soon broke Miranda from her reverie. She closed her laptop and put it away, then buckled her seatbelt. This thing with Andréa and herself had started so simply and easily. Before that first afternoon was over, she found herself inviting the girl to dinner at the townhouse.
It had gone on from there, a series of dinners, brunches, movie nights and trips to museums. The four of them, or five as was appropriate, simply spending time together. Until the Sunday Andrea had shown up for brunch and only Miranda was home. The editor thought she had told her the girls would be spending a few extra days with their father. It was possible she had forgotten to do so. It was more probable she intended to forget. They had kissed for the first time that day, slept in each other's arms for the first time that night and for Miranda, at least, there was no going back. Every moment had been building to this point, the editor dreamed of holding her love in her arms, touching her, listening to all the wonderful sounds she made and finally, watching her as she peaked. That first night, after Andréa was asleep, she lay with her head on the brunette's shoulder, feeling her breathe, listening to her heart beat, even making love could not increase the intimacy of this moment and Miranda knew this was how she wanted to spend every night for the rest of her life. Now if she could only convince Andréa of that.
Andy tried to be good company over dinner and for the most part she managed to pull it off. Her father realized that his daughter was a bit more subdued than usual but put it down to her being jetlagged from the flight. She filled him in on all the latest occurrences in her job but made no mention of Miranda or the twins. The re-telling of her life seemed incredibly empty without including them. They were, after all, such a big part of it now, or they had been.
For the first time Andy wondered what Miranda would tell the girls. How would she explain the sudden absence of the journalist from their lives? Would Andy just suddenly be too busy to come around anymore? It was not fair. She had a relationship with the twins as well, apart from what she had with their mother. She loved them as if they were hers. The whole situation just sucked.
Feeling the tears about to start again, Andy excused herself claiming tiredness. She knew her mom would explain things to her dad. She just could not go through it again. It had been hard enough to tell the first time. Now she just wanted the oblivion of sleep, just a few hours with no thoughts of Miranda or what she had lost. Hopefully, her dreams would cooperate.
She climbed the stairs slowly, feeling older than she could ever remember. She could not help being glad that at least tonight she would be in a bed that held no memories of the two of them. Shutting the door to her room, she brushed her teeth, pulled off her clothes and slid naked into bed. She did not have the energy left to hunt out pajamas. Her last thought before sleep claimed her was how she ached to feel Miranda's arms around her.
The car pulled up in front of a lovely two story house. From what Miranda could see of it in the half dark, it seemed very well tended, the lawn and plantings immaculate. It all seemed picture perfect. The editor sat for a moment staring at it. Her Andréa was in there. The lights were on downstairs. Perhaps she was watching TV or talking with her parents. Maybe she was upstairs asleep behind one of the darkened windows. Would she talk to her? Would her parents even let her in to see their daughter? If she could not gain entrance tonight, she would go to the hotel and come back again in the morning. She would keep coming back until Andréa agreed to see her. She would sit on the porch and wait for as long as it took if that was what she had to do. Going home without her love, life without her lover was no longer an option for Miranda.
At last, she signaled to the driver to come around and open her door. A shadow at the front window told her someone was watching from the house. Miranda Priestly did something she had not done in years. She murmured a prayer for success and stepped from the car.
Ellen Sachs watched from her front window as the sleek black car sat at the curb. Nothing moved for a few moments, then the driver got out and came around to open the back door. One perfect black heel slipped out, followed by a shapely leg and then a vision in black and white stood and turned to face the house. She knew by the sheer elegance and gleaming white hair of this woman that she was looking at Miranda Priestly. Even at this distance, she could sense the power and authority emanating from the woman. She had to hand it to Andy, the girl never did anything by halves. If Ellen were not totally in love with her husband, this woman might even turn her head. Even given the situation, she was worth a second look.
She waited for the knock on the front door before with a warning look at her husband, she went to answer it. She flipped on the light and opened the door slowly.
"Ms. Priestly, come in. I think we have a few things to talk about."
Ellen could tell she had startled the woman though the editor hid it well. Too many years of catching cherub faced youngsters trying to wrangle their way out of situations they should never have been in, had left the teacher able to read the most stoic of faces.
Drawing a silent breath, Miranda stepped over the threshold. She had hoped she would only have to explain herself once, she should have known things had been too easy between Andréa and herself. It seemed the hard part was about to start now. She was Miranda Priestly. She influenced billions of dollars in fashion revenue every day. She could handle one Midwestern school teacher. She hoped.
"Mrs. Sachs, it's a pleasure to meet you at last. I was hoping to speak with Andréa."
They shook hands, silently sizing each other up.
"I'm sure you were. Andy's asleep at the moment. She's not been herself today so she went to bed early."
Ellen was a bit surprised at the flash of pain she saw in those cold blue eyes.
"She's not ill, I hope." Miranda could not quite hide her concern. Not from this woman who looked so much like her Andréa.
"Not physically, no," was all Ellen would allow.
She was not going to make it easy on Miranda. Though the woman appeared to care about Andy, the question remained of exactly how much, and there was still the picture to explain. The teacher was determined to get an explanation before she allowed this woman anywhere near her daughter.
Miranda had not gotten where she was without learning to read people and read them well. Ellen Sachs was not going to be trifled with. The editor would either have to shoot straight or give up any hope of getting through this woman to reach her daughter. So Miranda did the only thing she could. She dropped the mask of the iconic editor of Runway and just left Miranda the woman who very much wanted her lover back.
Ellen was almost shocked by the change that came over the other woman and how quickly it happened. Now before her stood a woman who radiated the pain of loss and concern for someone she loved dearly.
"Is she alright? I need to see her, to explain. It's all a terrible misunderstanding. I would never do anything to hurt Andréa."
For the first time Ellen smiled sensing the truth behind Miranda's words. The editor's breath caught at the glowing smile that was so much like her girlfriend's. 'This is what Andréa will look like when she's my age. Please let me still be there to see it.'
"Andy is the image of her mother at that age." The deep voice from behind Ellen startled Miranda from her thoughts. It was a bit unnerving to have them mirrored back to her so clearly.
"And like her mother, she'll only ever give her heart once," continued Richard. "So I hope you have a good explanation for that picture. Otherwise, you might as well leave now, she's been hurt enough."
"Perhaps you'd like to come in and sit down," Ellen offered. "Before my husband launches into his 'What are your intentions towards my daughter?' speech."
"Somehow I can see Andréa doing the same for my girls," Miranda allowed.
Ellen laughed. "I wouldn't be at all surprised. She's a lot like her father that way."
Richard and Miranda went into the living room while Ellen went to the kitchen to get them all fresh coffee. Setting the tray on the table in front of the couch where Miranda sat, she passed out the cups before settling on the opposite end from the editor. Deciding not to waste words, she jumped right in.
"You realize that you're not getting anywhere near Andy until you explain why my daughter showed up here out of the blue and fell apart in my arms today. I've never seen her cry like that in my life and I hope to never see it again."
Miranda flinched as if she had been struck. She felt something squeeze inside her chest at the thought of Andréa in that much pain. Perhaps coming here had not been the right choice. It was possible the journalist would be better off without her. The editor knew she wasn't an easy woman to deal with. The risk of the girl getting hurt again was just too high. She could still go back to the hotel and Andréa need never know she had even been here.
"Don't you even dare," Ellen snapped.
Did everyone in this family read minds?
"Unnerving, isn't it?" Richard laughed. "I suspect Andy does it to you quite often."
"Yes." Miranda knew exactly what he meant. "It wasn't long after she started working for me that it seemed she anticipated my needs before I even expressed them. When we met again, she took right up doing it as if she'd never stopped."
"It's a trait the women in Ellen's family all share. It's strongest with the person they love but they can pick up each other's significant other as well to an extent. My mother-in-law about drove me crazy with it when I first met Ellen. I didn't dare have a single impure thought around that woman." Richard laughed at the memory. "Still don't."
Miranda could feel the heat stealing over her cheeks. "Thank you for the warning. I'll try to curb my thoughts along those lines."
Ellen snickered. "If I know my daughter, she won't make that easy for you."
Miranda thought it best to refrain from comment so she took a sip of her coffee to buy time. It was scalding hot and just the way she liked it. A raised eyebrow was her only response which Ellen read as clearly as if she had spoken.
"Andy told me how you liked your coffee."
"Told you or ranted about my unreasonable obsession with it."
"A bit of both." Ellen was as truthful as her daughter. "Now suppose you tell us about that picture."
With a sigh, Miranda set her coffee cup down and began to explain what had happened. By the time she was finished, both Sachs' were almost hysterical with laughter. They could not imagine anyone grabbing this elegant, dignified, terrifying woman out of the blue and kissing her no matter how drunk they were.
"Are you in love with her, Miranda?" Ellen asked.
"I think that's something that Andréa deserves to hear first," was the editor's response.
"Good answer," Richard smiled. "Now about those intentions of yours."
"Same answer, Richard." The editor gave a tiny smile.
"Is your driver still waiting for you?" Ellen changed the subject.
"Yes. I didn't know what my reception would be so I had him wait. I don't intend to leave Cincinnati until I see Andréa. I have a reservation at a hotel if you prefer I wait and return in the morning."
"I don't think that will be necessary." Ellen waved a hand dismissively.
Miranda's heart sank. She thought she had explained everything to their satisfaction. She did not want to argue with Andréa's parents, but if that was what it took then so be it. She opened her mouth to weigh in but was interrupted by Ellen before she could start.
"Have your driver bring in your bag, Miranda. I won't let my daughter go even a minute longer feeling the way she does. Her room is upstairs, second door on the right. I think she will be very glad to see you."
"I'll get the bag," Richard offered. "I'm not as convinced about all this as my wife. I still have reservations and I'd like to talk further. However, that said, it can wait until morning. More than anything I want Andy happy. If that means you, then I guess I'll just have to learn to handle it."
Miranda nodded. "Thank you. That's all I can ask." She sat and talked to Ellen while Richard got her bag and dismissed the driver. He carried it to the top of the stairs and left it outside Andy's door. Then he went about his nightly ritual of locking up.
"These old houses are funny," Ellen mused. "The walls are much thicker than one would think. The children's rooms are all upstairs at the front of the house and ours is downstairs at the back. It bothered me when they were younger because I couldn't hear them very well but it was a blessing as they got older and music got louder."
"Yes, I suppose it would be," Miranda murmured, amazed that Andréa's mother was effectively telling her they would not be overheard if they managed to reconcile tonight.
"The first room on the right is a guest room though I have doubts about you needing it. Good luck, Miranda."
"Thank you." The editor was touched by how much these people cared for their child. She would like to think she would be the same way when her children were older but she knew herself a bit too well for that.
"One more thing." Ellen stopped her at the foot of the stairs. "If you ever intentionally do something, or even in a moment of foolishness, mistakenly do something to hurt my daughter, there isn't enough money or power in the world to protect you from me. Just so we're clear on that."
That was more like it. Miranda smiled fully for the first time that day. "I think we just might get along, Ellen."
"So do I, Miranda. Now upstairs with you and straighten this mess out."
As she stood outside the door, for the first time in a very long time Miranda Priestly was afraid. What if Andréa would not listen? What if she did not think the editor was worth all this trouble? Remembering Ellen's threat she grasped the doorknob and turned it. Slipping into the darkened room, she set her bag down and made her way to the bed using the illumination from the street light outside to guide her. She could just make out Andréa's form under the covers. Sitting down gingerly on the bed, she waited a moment for her eyes to adjust to the gloom. Tenderly, she brushed the hair back from her lover's face.
"Andréa. Darling, wake up."
"Yes, Love. I'm here."
"Had a bad dream. Lost you," the journalist mumbled still half asleep.
"You could never lose me, Andréa."
" 'kay, come to bed. So tired."
"We should talk."
" 'Morrow. Sleep now."
"All right, Darling. Tomorrow." Standing, the editor shed her clothes and tossed them towards the shadowy shape of a chair in the corner unconcerned whether they hit the floor or not. Lifting the covers, she slid into the warmth next to her girlfriend who settled into her arms with a happy sigh.
" Night, M'randa. Love you."
"I love you too, Andréa. So very much." Closing her eyes and realizing for the first time that day she felt at peace, Miranda was quickly asleep.
Andy snuggled into the warmth at her back. She loved waking up with Miranda wrapped around her. Held tight in the older woman's arms, she could almost believe the editor did love her.
'Arms Miranda in Cincinnati?!!!' Andy jerked to a sitting position and spun to stare down at the woman lying next to her. One sleepy blue eye cracked open to glare at her.
"Really, Andréa, must you bound out of bed in the mornings?"
"For most of my life. Prior to that we won't discuss. At least, not this morning."
"But how I mean why what are you doing here?"
"I was sleeping before you so rudely awakened me."
Realizing she was naked with the covers pooled at her waist, Andy grabbed a blanket and pulled it up to cover her chest. "Really, Andréa, modesty at this point? How terribly middle class of you."
"How did you get here?"
Waving a hand negligently, Miranda settled her head more comfortably into the pillow. "I have a friend named Donatella. Donatella has a jet. Voila, I'm here."
"Dona what did you tell her?"
Miranda smiled smugly. "Evidently, Emily told her I was chasing after my one true love. By the way, we owe her a dinner."
"No, of course not, although maybe that's not such a bad idea. She's quite efficient is our Emily. We owe Donatella dinner. She wants to meet you. It seems she's dying to meet the one who could melt the Ice Queen sufficiently to have her impulsively flying across the country to track said lover down. Now do let's go back to sleep. It's much too early for conversation."
Andy started to lie down before remembering why she was in her parents' house in the first place. "I still don't understand why you're here. I thought ," she swallowed a lump forming in her throat. "I thought you had a new lover."
Realizing she was not going to get back to sleep until Andréa was satisfied, Miranda slid up the bed and leaned back on the headboard tucking the covers neatly under each arm. "Why ever would I want a new lover? I already have the only one I'll ever want."
"What are you saying?" Andy got out breathlessly.
"I'm saying I love you, Andréa. I neither want nor need anyone else. That picture was just a horrible misunderstanding, a fact that amused your parents no end."
"My parents?" Andy mumbled.
"Both of whom made it quite clear that either I very quickly make them in-laws or they will make me an outlaw. It's quite possible that given the right incentive your mother could even scare me, my Love."
"Who was he, Miranda?" Her journalistic nature would not let Andy leave this alone until she was satisfied with the answer.
"It was little more than a drunken fraternity prank of which I was the unwilling victim. He apologized profusely afterwards but the damage had already been done. I didn't know there were pictures until I saw the papers the next day. I tried calling you but you weren't answering." A question occurred to Miranda. "How did you get here so quickly?"
"You're not the only one with friends, Miranda."
"You know someone with a private jet?" The editor really did not mean to sound quite so skeptical.
"Actually, I know her wife, a police detective I met through work. We became friends and get together for drinks now and then. Jo's the only one that knew about us. When I realized how I was beginning to feel about you, I needed to talk to someone before I made a complete fool of myself. When I thought when I thought you'd dumped me, she was the one I turned to. She took one look at me and called her wife to get the Warner jet to bring me here. She understands about needing your mom when you lose what you love most."
Miranda reached out to cup one silken cheek. "And am I what you love most, Andréa?"
"Yes, though when I first saw that picture, I couldn't feel anything clearly. It wasn't until I got here that it really hit me. I thought I was dying. I couldn't even breathe it hurt so bad. I never want to feel like that again."
Miranda's throat worked as she attempted to swallow. "Does that mean you no longer want this?"
Andy gave a smile of pure love and devotion to the only person she would ever love. "No, it means you can never leave me, Miranda Priestly. I don't think my soul would survive it."
Pursed lips met that pronouncement before the editor gave a definite nod. "As long as that works both ways, I see no problem. Now could we please go back to sleep? It was a difficult day and I'm still rather tired."
The grin she received was pure deviltry. "Eventually."
Miranda's responding laugh was sheer joy and a sound only Andy and the twins were ever honored to hear. "I do so love you, Andréa Sachs."
"And I love you, Miranda Priestly. Right now I'm going to show you just how much," Andy promised leaning down to capture her lover's lips with her own.
"Not if I show you first, Darling," Miranda murmured against the full lips she so adored.
A short time later, Richard Sachs was awakened by a sound he could not place.
"What was that?"
Ellen patted his stomach absently. "Go back to sleep, Love. I think we just welcomed an outlaw into the family."
With a mumble of assent, he closed his eyes and drifted back off content that all was at last right in the Sachs household that morning.
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