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.
FEEDBACK: To emeraldorchids[at]outlook.com

By emeraldorchids


Emily always arrived early on Mondays. She enjoyed having the time to herself in the office to prepare for the week and handle any emergencies from the weekend. Today, Miranda was already in the office when Emily arrived, and her door was closed: two signs that this would not be a good day. Emily did as much as she could, but at 8am when the new second assistant came in with Miranda's Starbucks, Emily knew she would need to interrupt Miranda.

Softly knocking, she waited for a response before entering, carefully balancing the scalding latte, bottle of Pellegrino and water glass, and eight magazines. Miranda's chair was turned towards the windows, a notepad in her lap. Emily quickly set the coffee and water on the desk and spread out the magazines, slipping out as if she were never there.

Well this is quite strange, she thought. Usually when Miranda was in a foul mood, she was more, uh, vocal about things. Suddenly Emily wondered if she should have inquired about her health, as it was so out of the ordinary.

About two hours later, Miranda called Emily on the phone and asked her to call Roy. Emily thought her voice sounded strained, but convinced herself she was looking into things, that nothing was wrong. Fifteen minutes later, Roy arrived and Emily called Miranda to let her know. Second assistant Jill (or was it Jess?) had her coat and bag ready, but something was different today. Miranda stopped and let Jill help her put her coat on. She walked more slowly to the elevator. She was wearing her Dolce & Gabbana clear/black wide-rimmed glasses, and, if Emily looked closely, all the makeup in the world couldn't hide the swollen skin underneath Miranda's eyes.

Miranda stepped into the elevator, leaving the floor in silence. She didn't care where Roy drove her, she just needed to get away from Runway and clear her mind. After driving for hours through Central Park and back and forth across several bridges, Roy informed Miranda that he would need to stop for gas if she would like to continue further. She checked her watch: 2:30pm. "No, that's all. Back to Runway," she said.

When she returned, everyone held their breath. It was unlike Miranda to go anywhere without sunglasses, let alone wearing her reading glasses. Tossing her coat at Jill, Miranda leaned over to Emily, staring down at Emily's desk. "Please gather everyone in the conference room at 3pm. We need to talk about our 2007 plans."

"Yes, Miranda, of course," Emily said, and Miranda headed back into her office, again shutting the door. Those thirty minutes moved agonizingly slowly, until finally, Emily knocked.

"Miranda, it's 3pm and everyone is in the conference room," she said.

Miranda opened the door and nodded, gesturing for Emily to run along and join the others. The chatter of voices grew silent as Miranda approached the room. Everyone was crowded, but Miranda knew this would not take long. Taking a deep breath, she entered the room and shut the door behind her.

Her expert eyes scanned the room, seeing nothing but genuine interest, sincerity, passion in the eyes staring back at her. Miranda took another deep breath and held out her notepad. As she stared at the words on the page, she felt her emotions take over once again, tears flowing freely. She knew she must look ridiculous, but in that moment, it didn't matter.

"I want to thank you all for your hard work and dedication—both to me and this magazine—in the past years, or for some of you, decades. Runway has been a leading fashion magazine in the industry for years. We have educated the public and exposed celebrities. We have offered original reporting on the darker side of the fashion industry and provided our advertisers and designers with a place to call home."

Miranda paused, once again, overcome with tears.

"Today, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you for every little thing you've done—and don't think anything has gone unnoticed here. Yesterday, I was informed that the powers-that-be have deemed Runway no longer a profitable business model for Elias-Clarke Publications, effective immediately. This means,…"

She paused as her sobbing grew out of control, but she knew it wouldn't get any better, so she continued.

"This means that we have published the final issue of Runway magazine. Other Elias-Clarke Publications will be offering interviews for a number of positions as they recognize the talent of our staff—"

Miranda couldn't finish. She handed the notepad to Emily to finish reading as she turned her back to the room and choked back her sobs.

"Our positions have been terminated. You will all be compensated through the end of the month, and should you have any questions, please direct them to Irv Ravitz and the Elias-Clarke Board of Directors. Again, I thank each and every one of you for doing such a fine job over the years. You have made me so proud. Thank you."

Emily's hands shook. Staring at the notepad, reading those words in Miranda's own handwriting, it was too real for her. She turned to Miranda and handed her the notepad. Silence hung thick in the air like a plague, and Miranda marched out of the room.

When everyone had grasped what was happening, some of them began crying, others hurrying to get a resume together, hoping for a position at Auto Universe or Outdoor Living. When Emily and Jill returned to their desks, Miranda's coat and bag were gone. Her notebook torn in half and dropped in the wastebasket.

Emily wanted to send an email to Jacqueline Follet, who she had befriended during New York Fashion Week two years ago, and ask if she was in need of an assistant. But, before she did that, she picked up the phone and called someone who would care about this—someone who got out just in time.

"Hi Em, what's up?" she said, answering her telephone at the New York Mirror.

"Andrea. It's bad. Runway is gone. We're all terminated. Miranda, too."

"What? You're kidding?"

"No, Andrea. The Board decided we were no longer profitable. Miranda called a meeting. She was sobbing. Literally. I had to finish reading her remarks."

"What do you think you'll do, Em?"

"I'm going to email Jacqueline, and if that doesn't pan out, well, I'll find something. I can always go back across the pond."

"Oh, Em, I'm so sorry. What about Miranda?"

"Honestly, I'm worried. I've never seen her this upset. She's in a bad place."

"Maybe I should come visit…like I just happened by to say hello or something?" Andrea said.

"Seriously? I can't think of why she'd want to see you—you'd just be a reminder that you left the company before it collapsed. Plus, she went home….I think."

"Well, it's been what, seven months?"

"Andrea, you never did listen to me, so I'm not going to bother. Just know that this is beyond what you might ever expect."

"Thanks, Em. Thanks for calling. Let me know if I can do anything."

"I may be crashing on your couch in a few weeks, but other than that, I'm good for now. Andrea, be careful."

"Thanks, Em. I know," she said, hanging up. "Hey John," Andrea called as she stepped into her Editor's office. "Something personal has just come up, and I need to take the rest of the day off."

"Is everything alright, Sachs?"

"I think so. I just need to check it out. I'll let you know later today if I'll be out tomorrow as well."

"Okay, I don't see any conflicts. Your next story isn't due for a few days, and we can easily reassign it if we need to."

"Thank you— I'll be in touch," she said as she ran back to her desk and hastily packed her things.

Andrea hailed a cab as soon as she exited the building, and gave the driver Miranda's address. Her mind was racing as she tried to imagine Miranda actually crying (not like Paris), or Miranda with any real emotion at all, not directed at her girls, of course. Minutes later, she was paying the cab driver and climbing the steps to the townhouse. She rang the bell several times, and knocked, but there was no response. Andrea texted Roy and once he confirmed that Miranda was, indeed home, she pulled out the key she never returned and let herself into Miranda's home.

Shutting the front door, she called out softly, "Miranda?" No one answered, but she heard running water in the first floor bathroom, so she took steps further into the house. The door was cracked, so Andrea softly knocked, "Miranda? It's me, Andy Sachs."

"Wha—what are you doing here?" she called, her voice dry and raspy.

"Miranda, I just thought you might want to talk or something. I always did like you, believe it or not."

Miranda softly kicked the door open and looked up into Andrea's eyes. She was sitting on the floor against the shower, her knees pulled up to her chest. "Speech," she said between gulps of air, "has been difficult today."

"It's okay," Andrea reassured her. "Can I get you a glass of water or can I help you up?"

Miranda nodded and accepted Andrea's hand. She turned, placing her palms on the bathroom vanity while Andrea quickly retrieved water from the kitchen. When she returned, Miranda was sitting on the couch in the den, her knees again clenched tightly to her chest. Andrea handed her the water and sat on the sofa with her. Reaching her hand out, she softly placed her hand on Miranda's arm. "Runway was my baby," Miranda said. "I made that magazine what it is. Elias-Clarke is in financial trouble, and just to spite me, they eliminate us."

"What will you do?" Andrea asked.

Miranda looked up at Andrea again, "I—I don't know. That was all I had," she said, setting down her empty glass and taking Andrea's hand tightly in her own.

"That's not true," Andrea said. "Miranda, you are gorgeous and intelligent and a cunning businesswoman. You will come back from this."

Miranda eyed the young woman curiously. "You think so?" she asked.

"Of course," Andrea said, squeezing her hand tightly and reaching her other arm around the woman's shoulders.

Miranda paused, closing her eyes. "Andrea," she said, her eyes still shut, "Why are you here? It's been six months. What do you want from me?"

Andrea pulled away and released Miranda's hand. "I don't want anything, Miranda," she said. "I'm here as a friend."

"Andrea, you are not my friend. You left us. Maybe we can have coffee next week or something." The last thing Miranda wanted was to sit and entertain a former employee. She had spent the past eighteen hours crying—no, sobbing—and she was utterly exhausted, mind and body.

"Please try to trust me, here," Andrea said. "If I wanted to hurt you, don't you think I would have said or done something earlier? Miranda, I've always liked you. I didn't agree 100%, but I have always respected you." She paused for a moment before continuing. "It killed me to leave in Paris. That's why I stayed away for so long. And now," she said, her voice trailing, "when I heard, I was worried."

"Honestly, I'm too exhausted to think straight right now, Andrea. I am going upstairs," she said, stretching out her legs before walking towards the staircase. Andrea rose and walked to meet the former editor. She put her hand gently on the small of Miranda's back.

Miranda froze and stopped, one foot on the first step, her hand on the banister. "Miranda," Andrea said, "I'm not leaving. I want you to rest, and I'll stay here to help out in any way I can."

Miranda continued up the stairs, her right hand reaching up to shield her eyes as tears streamed down. The pair walked to Miranda's room in silence. Quickly, she turned to stare at Andrea. "Stop following me," she hissed. "I am barely tolerating your presence as it is. I am not going to shatter." The truth was, it had always been difficult for Miranda to accept help. Whether it was someone complimenting her or offering her a tissue, help made her feel weak and fragile.

Andrea nodded and took a step backwards, pulling her hands to her sides. "Of course you're not, Miranda," she said, "I'll go make you some tea or something while you get comfortable."

Miranda said nothing and Andrea returned to the kitchen and turned the kettle on while she looked through the cabinets for a light snack. Upstairs, Miranda slipped off her blouse and skirt and removed her undergarments, leaving only her pale blue silk slip. She walked over to the window and pulled the shade shut before climbing into bed. Lying there, alone, in the dark in the middle of the afternoon, her emotions once again overwhelmed her and she quietly began crying into her pillow.

Andrea fixed a tray with hot tea, a piece of toast and honey, and some apple slices and carried it up to Miranda's room. When she entered, she noticed Miranda sobbing into the pillow. She set the tray on the small table along the wall, and for once, Andrea stopped thinking and simply let herself react. She crawled onto the bed, curling up behind Miranda, wrapping the woman in her arms. She didn't say a word as she stroked her hair, brushing it out of her face. She held her tightly, letting her cry.

After a short while, Miranda turned to face Andrea. It was quite obvious to her that Andrea had meant well, and that she was actually trying to be a good friend. She regretted snapping at the young woman earlier, but she had no way of knowing how to deal with a situation like this…to know that she actually did need someone to hold her, to keep her from shattering.

Miranda reached over and draped her arm across Andrea's body, resting her head on the young woman's shoulder. For the first time in the past twenty-four hours, and frankly, the past year, she felt safe. She felt like she could close her eyes and relax. She worried that she would scare Andrea away, so she simply closed her eyes and tried to rest.

Miranda slept soundly for hours, so much that Andrea allowed herself to close her eyes, too. She woke when she felt Miranda shifting in the bed. "Hi," Andrea said, trying to read the other woman's mood.

"Hi," Miranda whispered as she smiled at Andrea—a wide, bright-eyed smile. In that moment, Andrea knew she made the right decision to come to Miranda's. Andrea's eyes followed Miranda as she sat up and began walking towards the bathroom. Andrea sat up, but Miranda gestured for her to wait while she slipped into the bathroom.

Andrea was leaning against the headboard when Miranda returned. The older woman sat on the edge of the bed with her back to Andrea, arching her back, stretching her aching muscles. "I owe you an apology," she said quietly. "I was feeling vulnerable earlier. And, naturally, being as stubborn as I am, I find it uncomfortable to ask for help."

"Miranda—" Andrea began.

"No, I need to continue," she said. "Two things: first, thank you…so much. Next—and whatever your answer, I'm still grateful you came over—did you mean what you said about wanting to be a friends, that you did actually like me?"

Andrea smiled, "Of course I meant that! I wouldn't lie to you, especially not while all this is going on. And, you're welcome."

"I'm sorry, it's just a lot to grasp at the moment," she said. "I thought—I thought you hated me. I always felt that you were just gritting your teeth and doing your job because of your work ethic, but that you couldn't wait to be free from me… That's why I didn't try to contact you after you left."

Andrea sat up and moved to the edge of the bed, sitting next to Miranda. "It was quite the contrary, Miranda. I stayed, I pushed myself, I was the best assistant I could be because it was for you. I would have done anything to please you. I left because I felt that I could no longer be of use to you. You appeared to have already decided who I was and what I wanted. Seeing what you did to Nigel, who was actually a good friend for many years, I realized you could do that to me, at any time, and I would have been devastated."

"Andrea, I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. It's the past. I'm a better person now—I'm stronger, I'm confident, and I'm more assertive. You actually taught me a lot."

"Well, I think we can see that you're assertive," Miranda said, chuckling. "I'm sorry for seeming suspicious, but people don't often offer to be my friend unless they want something in return."

"I can understand that. But with me, it's easy: I just missed you. I missed being around you, listening to you complain about your Starbucks not being hot enough or listening to you berate someone for doing something you asked them to do. Personally, that was always my favorite because there was a split second when the realization that the person did exactly what you asked would cross your face, and then you'd brush it off like they were out of their mind and no one ever questioned you. It's truly brilliant."

"Andrea, I will not have you mocking me in my own home," Miranda protested.

"Relax. That's what I love about you—you're so serious, but to anyone who is paying attention, you're really just having fun screwing with people."

Miranda turned to look at Andrea, wide-eyed and speechless.

"I'm sorry—I should not have said that," Andrea said, not realizing Miranda was not upset, just caught up on 'that's what I love about you.'

"One last question," Miranda said. "Did you mean it when you said I was gorgeous, sexy, and smart?"

This time, Andrea blushed. "Yes," she said, her voice very small. "I told you I wouldn't lie."

Miranda nodded. "I owe you another apology, Andrea. I once called you a 'smart, fat girl,' but you need to know I was only frustrated. You are smart, but you are also very beautiful, and perfectly proportioned, so much more so than the models. I'm sorry I never told you that sooner."

Andrea smiled back at Miranda. "Did you miss me after I left?"

Miranda froze. How could she answer this question? She had been busy as usual with magazine business, but not a day went by that she didn't wish to see Andrea walk through her office door. "In the spirit of truth, yes, I did miss you. Very much so, in fact."

The two women sat there, in silence, for quite some time. The sun began creeping into the room despite the heavy shades. Miranda asked if Andrea needed to be at work, and she explained she had taken a few personal days. Miranda decided she was not going back to Runway, not for a long time.

"Andrea, do you have plans today? I was thinking perhaps you could stick around and we could catch up?"

"Miranda, I'd love to. I need to swing by my apartment for a tiny bit, though."

"Of course, no rush," Miranda said.

Andrea smiled as she left Miranda's place, but as the cool air hit her face, she realized she needed the time away from the woman to sort out her thoughts. Being in Miranda's presence again (and closer than ever before), after so many months, stirred emotions inside she wasn't quite prepared to deal with. Emotions that had been running strong by the time she was in Paris. Emotions she struggled to suppress for months.

Once in her apartment, Andrea sat on the couch and took a deep breath. She couldn't deny that she was still attracted to Miranda, perhaps more now than ever. Today, for the first time in the course of their relationship—friendship?—Miranda let her walls collapse and wasn't concerned with putting them back up. She was raw, pure. It was that side of Miranda, the away-from-Runway side, that she first grew to adore. She needed to make a decision before returning to the townhouse: did she want to be Miranda's friend, or did she want something more?

"What am I talking about?!" she groaned aloud, flopping back onto the cushions. "Why would I think Miranda could be interested in something more? She's had three husbands!" Andrea shouted aloud in the empty room. In all her experience, Miranda had never so much as batted an eye towards another female.

That settles it, she thought. Friendship it would be, and she would be the best damn friend Miranda ever had.

Around 11am, Andrea decided she was ready to head back to Miranda's. She tried texting Miranda, but her cell phone was off. Dialing her house phone number, Andrea waited. With each unanswered ring, her irrational fears went wild. Please, please just answer, she thought. "Hello?" Miranda finally answered, sounding out of breath.

"Miranda? Am I interrupting something?"

"No, no. Andrea. I had been resting…sleeping, that is."

"I'm sorry to wake you. I was calling to see if it was a good time to come back, but if you're sleeping, I don't want to bother you. I can bring dinner by later or something."

"No, I have the rest of my life to rest, Andrea. I will welcome your company anytime. Whenever you'd like to come over, and you may stay as long as you wish."

Andrea felt her emotions rising. Quickly reminding herself that Miranda was a straight woman dealing with loss, Andrea remembered not to take advantage of Miranda in this vulnerable state. Miranda was not implying she wanted Andrea to stay the night so she could ravish her, she simply didn't want to be alone. "I'll be over shortly, then," she said. "Can I bring anything? Have you eaten lunch?"

"Actually, I haven't eaten anything—lunch sounds wonderful. Do you mind? I can always send out for something?"

"Don't be silly," Andrea said, "I'll pick up something on my way. See you soon," she said.

"Yes, see you soon," Miranda said, slowly hanging the phone up. She knew she needed to shower before the young woman arrived. After the hot shower and spending time styling her hair and applying some light makeup, she felt more like herself. Except, she thought, that I'm looking forward to spending the day with my former assistant. Miranda shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. It was insane. She was fifty years old, with two preteen children, thrice married and divorced, and at the moment, unemployed. Why would Andrea want to spend time with me? she thought. And on top of that, she knew Andrea recently had a boyfriend, and she just didn't seem as transparent about her sexuality as other young women her age like Emily and Serena were. But all I can think about is her long arms wrapped around me, her divine, calming scent, those beautiful brown eyes, those soft, plump lips….

Just then, the phone rang again, "Yes?" Miranda answered impatiently, silently cursing the caller on the other end for such impertinence to interrupt her daydreaming.

"Miranda, there are a lot of reporters and photographers waiting outside your door—do you have a back entrance?"

"Oh, gosh. I haven't even thought about the press. I imagine the whole world knows by now. Um, yes, if you can come in through the back, that would be fine. There is a small alley—I'll meet you at the back gate to let you in."

"Thanks. See you in two minutes," Andrea said before hanging up the phone. It hadn't occurred to her, either, that the press would be so eager to pry into this personal moment of Miranda's life, but then again, they never much respected social norms.

Andrea quickly hurried down the alley and Miranda opened the gate as soon as she saw her approach, not wanting any members of the press to discover this rear entrance she'd kept secret for so many years. Following Miranda inside, the younger woman had to admire her looks. She was certainly more put together today, wearing a casual red crew-neck sweater dress and patterned tights. Andrea could still see the puffiness in her eyes, but light makeup covered it well, and to the untrained eye, it looked like Miranda simply hadn't applied much makeup today. Regardless, she looked gorgeous.

"Is there something you want to say?" Miranda finally said, interrupting Andrea's thoughts and drawing her eyes upward.

"Oh, um, yes, you're looking better. How are you doing?" she asked, setting their lunch on the table and taking Miranda's hands in her own.

"Well, better than yesterday, that's for sure. But I can't stay locked up in here forever," Miranda said.

"I know you probably don't want to hear this, but this will all blow over. You'll find something else and this will be water under the bridge."

"Oh Andrea, I hardly think that will be the case. Plus," she said, hesitating before she continued, "I don't think I want to 'find something else' as you put it." She pulled her hands from Andrea's grip and clasped them together. "But now, let's eat. I'm famished."

Andrea smiled and pulled the contents of her bag out. "Well, we have two strawberry milkshakes, two double-stack cheeseburgers with lots of lettuce and tomato, and an order of fries to share."

Miranda froze in place, her eyes widened at the options Andrea presented. "I'm supposed to eat that?! Where on earth do you find these things, Andrea?"

"To answer your question, yes, and at Burger Joint in the Parker Meridien. Trust me, it's delicious, and a little splurge once a—what, once a year—never hurt anyone. Also, it's fantastic hangover food, and I imagine after all that dehydration yesterday, you probably feel like you threw back a few too many."

Miranda was curiously appalled at Andrea's sudden level of comfort around her. They hadn't seen each other in six months, and then she shows up and holds her while she cries after losing her magazine, and now this.

"So, will you please eat with me?" Andrea asked impatiently. Miranda nodded and sat at the counter with the younger girl.

She wasn't lying, these burgers were delicious. It had been probably ten years since Miranda indulged in a greasy burger and fries, and the milkshake, which she could tell was made with almond milk and fresh strawberries, was perfection. Miranda moaned in delight as she finished her burger and licked her fingers clean, unaware of Andrea's gaze.

"I seem to have underestimated you, my dear. That was quite an adequate lunch selection," Miranda said.

"Uh, I could tell. You were practically orgasmic over there as you sucked the juices out of that burger."

Blush crept up Miranda's face. She quickly cleaned up the cartons and placed them in the trash. "It was not orgasmic, Andrea. Copacetic, perhaps, but I've had better."

Andrea felt her muscles tighten in between her legs. Was Miranda flirting with her? No way, she had to be imagining it, looking into things. Andrea finished her food and tossed the containers as well, washing her hands in the sink like any civilized person, and taking her milkshake with her as she followed Miranda to the den. They each took a seat on opposite ends of the sofa, Andrea tucking her legs underneath her body, while Miranda laid against the armrest and faced Andrea, her legs bent at the knees.

"So," Andrea said, "do you really not want to find anything else?"

Miranda sighed. "Andrea, I don't know. I'm old. I think about starting another magazine or fashion blog or something, but then I remember how much work it was starting Runway, and I just can't put 100+ hour work weeks in anymore. Plus, anything new always brings with it the risk of failure, and, well, my ego is already bruised as it is."

"Miranda, you have no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. If anything, you went out on top. Just because those assholes on the board think fashion is frivolous, you and I both know that it's not, and the primary reason is because of the work you've done as Editor in Chief to make fashion mainstream, to make it something every woman or man can achieve."

While Andrea spoke, Miranda wrapped her arms around her knees and leaned her body against the high back of the sofa. "You make it sound like such a grand, historical event," Miranda said. "Regardless, I couldn't handle that again. I couldn't imagine," she paused, "retiring or quitting or, god forbid, failing."

Andrea saw the tears forming in Miranda's eyes once again. "So, don't start something. Give back in some other way," she said.

Miranda eyes Andrea closely, her eyes questioning the young woman's thoughts.

"What I mean," Andrea said, "is to go to work for a charity, or better yet, why don't you and Donatella or James start a charity. There's so many opportunities…look at what Tom's shoes does."

Andrea smiled as she saw a spark in Miranda's eyes. "Yes…I suppose I could look into something like that…"

"You're welcome," she said, bowing her head.

"Thank you," Miranda said, sitting up and reaching for Andrea's hands, "But I'm just not ready. I—it's—one day—and then—I can't—" Miranda stammered, choking back tears.

Andrea placed her hand underneath Miranda's chin, softly drawing her eyes upward. Gazing into her eyes, Andrea couldn't help but caress the older woman's cheek, wiping her tears before trailing her hand down her jaw and neck. "Miranda, take a deep breath. You don't have to do anything until you're ready," Andrea reassured her. Miranda took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself. Andrea decided to take a different approach. "You know," she said, "it breaks my heart to see you like this."

Miranda leaned back against Andrea and tried to get comfortable. Andrea slid her feet out and guided Miranda to lay her head on her lap. "It breaks my heart, too," Miranda said. "I always thought I would be prepared, have time to fix things or something." Miranda sighed and covered her face with her hands. "I don't want to talk about this anymore," she said.

Andrea softly took Miranda's wrists and pulled her hands from her face, lying her hands across her lap. "No more," she said, her thumb moving back and forth along the back of Miranda's hand. Miranda lay there on her back for several minutes, neither woman saying a word. Miranda had fallen asleep, and Andrea tried to remain as still as possible while the other woman rested. Nearly an hour had passed, and Miranda was still asleep. Andrea noticed her breathing deeper, and noticed a strained expression on her face as she began writhing on the couch. She turned to her side, curling up into a ball and drawing her hand over her eyes as she began whimpering.

Recognizing what must be a nightmare, Andrea took Miranda's shoulders firmly as she called out for Miranda to wake up. "Miranda, please, it's just a dream," she said as she softly shook the woman awake.

Miranda woke with a soft gasp, her eyes frantically scanning the room. She clutched Andrea tightly, the younger woman softly stroking her back as she calmed down. "Shh, you're okay," she repeated as she whispered into Miranda's ear.

Andrea helped Miranda up into a sitting position, and Miranda wrapped her arms tightly around Andrea. "I'm sorry," she said, "I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on. I don't understand why this is happening."

"It's okay, Miranda. You've been through a lot in the past two days. It's understandable. But it's going to be okay."

"I don't know how I would get through this without you, darling," Miranda said. "I don't think you quite understand just what you do for me."

Andrea smiled. If she only knew what she did to me, she thought. "Miranda? Do you think you'd like me to schedule some time with your therapist? Or, maybe do you have some Valium or Xanax you can take to help you relax?"

Miranda nodded. "Yes, I think maybe it's time to medicate," she said, leaning against Andrea.

"Would you like me to go get something for you?"

"No, it's upstairs. I need to stretch, anyway."

Andrea nodded and helped Miranda up off the couch. Miranda slipped her arm around Andrea's waist, and Andrea immediately reciprocated. Miranda recalled her earlier thoughts, but decided she was going to stay as close as the young woman would allow.

Upstairs, Miranda retrieved her Valium and took two with a large glass of water. It'd been years since she last needed to take Valium, surprisingly, she first obtained the prescription to help her relax during sex with her last marriage. Miranda chuckled at the memory, realizing how different women were from men, how much easier life was with Andrea than any of her husbands. She stepped out of her bedroom, meeting Andrea in the second-floor study.

Andrea was browsing the books on the floor-to-ceiling shelves that lined the walls. "Miranda, I never knew you had such a fabulous library. This is amazing," Andrea said as she carefully perused the titles on the shelves, her fingertips barely grazing over their spines.

Miranda sank into her royal blue wingback oversized chair, propping her feet on the matching ottoman. A smile crossed her lips as she watched Andrea, delighted with the books. "Andrea, make yourself at home, please. Pour yourself a drink, read a book, go through my desk, anything."

Andrea turned around and saw Miranda lounging in the chair. She looked so small, but Andrea was glad that she decided to rest in the study rather than in her bedroom. Returning to the bookshelves, she made a note to ask Miranda how they were organized. If she had to guess, it looked simply like they were in the order in which they were obtained. Andrea knew people who meticulously arranged their books alphabetically by author. Her own meager collection was grouped according to the Library of Congress catalog system (alphabetically by subject), but Miranda's was scattered, no apparent rhyme or reason. But that was the beauty. One would expect a strict organizational pattern, like everything else in Miranda's life, but there was something special about the books. Suddenly, Andrea saw a book of Leonard Cohen's collected poems. The spine was worn, the cover nearly non-existent, but Andrea would recognize that book anywhere. Apparently, Miranda enjoyed it too.

Looking over, she saw Miranda was lounging with her eyes closed. Andrea poured herself a drink and sat on the small chair by the window as she opened the book and began reading.

"Andrea," Miranda called after several minutes, "what are you reading?" she asked, her eyes remaining closed.

"Flowers for Hitler*," Andrea said.

Miranda's lips curled upwards. Opening her eyes, she said, "will you read aloud, darling?"

Andrea nodded and turned to the next poem.

Let me renew myself

in the midst of all the things of the world

which cannot be connected.

The sky is empty at last,

the stars stand for themselves,

heroes and their history passed

like talk on the wind, like bells.

"Andrea," Miranda called, "come closer."

She stood and walked across the room towards Miranda, sitting on the ottoman next to Miranda's feet. She continued reading,

Flowers do not stand for love,

or if they do—not mine.

The white happens beside the mauve.

I have no laws to bind

their hunger to my own.

The same, the same, the doctors say.

for they find themselves alone:

the bread of law is dry.

Miranda softly moved her foot along Andrea's thigh. "Come here," she said as she motioned to the space on the couch next to her. Andrea stood and squeezed into the chair next to Miranda. Miranda adjusted her position, twisting to her side and curling up against the younger woman. Miranda reached over and took the book from Andrea, gently letting it fall to the ground next to the chair. Miranda began reciting the poem from memory, her hand slowly trailing up Andrea's leg, tracing the seam of her denim jeans from the knee to her hot center while she nibbled at Andrea's neck between words.

I walked over the mountain with my glass dog.

The mushrooms trembled and balls of rain

fell off their roofs.

I whistled at the trees to come closer:

they jumped at the chance:

apples, acorns popped through the air.

Dandelions by the million

staggered into parachutes. A white jeweled

wind in the shape of an immense spool of gauze

swaddled every moving limb.

I collapsed slowly over the water-filled pebbles.

Miranda's lips brushed against the sensitive skin beneath Andrea's ear. She was no longer reciting the poem. Andrea was holding her breath, torn between wanting Miranda to remove her hand and wanting her to rub harder.

"Miranda," Andrea finally gasped, grabbing the woman's shoulder's and pushing her away. "Are you sure you want to be doing this?"

Miranda looked Andrea in the eye, her smile fading. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have put you in this position," Miranda said, trying to pull away from Andrea's grasp.

"No, Miranda, don't be sorry," Andrea said, "I just want to make sure you know what you're doing."

"Andrea, I feel dead inside. After the letter from the Board, it felt like a nail in my coffin. I just need to feel alive, Andrea," she said, "I need you."

And Andrea wanted Miranda, but she worried she wanted her too much. She was in love with the beautiful woman curled up against her, and she worried she would scare Miranda away if she said too much. "Miranda, open your eyes, look at me," she said.

Miranda opened her eyes and Andrea desperately tried to convey to her just how deep her feelings were. Slowly, Miranda nodded ever-so-slightly, and leaned in to kiss Andrea's cheek, softly whispering, "I love you, too."

Andrea gasped at Miranda's whispered confession, and the older woman caught her mouth, pressing their lips together as her tongue snaked inside the younger woman's hot, soft mouth. Andrea moaned into Miranda's sweet lips, and Miranda frantically worked her hands to unbutton Andrea's blouse. They parted, both needing air.

"Miranda," Andrea panted, concerned that they should slow down. Miranda softly pressed her index finger to Andrea's lips as she slid her hands down Andrea's body.

Nearly an hour later, both women lay on their backs, nude, on the carpet, clothes scattered nearby. Andrea reached over and gowned Miranda's hand, interlacing their fingers and squeezing softly.

"Andrea," she whispered, "I'm tired."

"Me too," Andrea replied.

"Come to bed with me?" she asked.

"I'd love to," Andrea said, smiling as she sat up. She pulled a throw off the nearby couch and wrapped it around them as they walked, arm-in-arm to the bedroom. As they approached the bed, Andrea stopped. Miranda turned around and looked at her.

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"Miranda, I love you," Andrea said.

Miranda smiled. "I know. I love you, too."

"You're amazing, do you know that?"

"Hmm," Miranda said, climbing into bed, "why don't you come here? You can keep telling me that all evening if you'd like."

"Oh," Andrea said, "believe me, I intend to do just that."


Dear Miranda,

I wrote to you three weeks ago and you didn't respond. But you already know that. I didn't expect you to respond—not really—although I did spend a solid week checking and rechecking my email so that if you did respond I wouldn't miss it.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. And I mean that. You are quite literally always on my mind, and I can't say that about anyone or anything before you.

Most of the time, there's this voice screaming at me to just forget about you already and move on. But that mentality never lasts more than a few days. No one compares to you, and I just end up really pissed off and annoyed at the world. All of these people who aren't as smart, witty, generous, and enjoyable to be around as you are—as you were.

But then again, is that really what you were like? It's been so damn long I have trouble remembering. And of purse, at one point, I thought it was a good idea to delete every email you and I ever exchanged, so i don't even have that to look back on.

December 4 2008 was the last time you spoke to me. After the day you lost your job, we started seeing each other for coffee and such, but nothing like that first day. Several months later, you pushed me away and said you couldn't do it. That it wasn't me, it was you. That I would understand someday. But your eyes said something different.

I thought I could never face you again, but that night in December I somehow found myself at your door. I have no idea where I found the courage to do that, but it felt so right. You were so genuine and warm that evening—I couldn't even respond. I had expected you to push me away like that day a few months prior when we met for coffee. But you surpassed my expectations and I was speechless. That rarely happens.

Then, of course, there was that day when you were sitting behind me at Nigel's mother's service. That was one year ago, September 2010. I froze. My heart couldn't handle the proximity. Everything flew out the window. Did you recognize me? Were you ignoring me? Were you planning to say something to me afterwards if I hadn't run out? Would you act as if nothing happened? I couldn't help it. I ran. I needed to clear my head to make a plan. To strategize.

But more than anything in the world I wanted to see you again. I wanted to know that I was different, that I still affected you even just a little bit. I wanted to feel your arms around me, supporting, understanding, caring.

Do you still think of me? What do you do when you receive an email from me? And afterwards? Do you cry? I do. I try to be strong, to not let my emotions control me, but I feel like the motions I go through everyday, these motions I've gone through every day for the past five years—they're just that: motions. None of it matters if I can't have you.

So the question remains (although perhaps unasked)—will you have me?

There was a time in my life when self-confidence was bordering on arrogance. When I felt like anything or anyone was within my reach. That is no longer the case. I am constantly doubting myself. It took a while, but now I really "get" that thing called failure. I suppose for someone who's always been good at everything, failure is inevitable. And I'm not saying failure is a bad thing. It's always a learning experience, especially when it truly changes your life.

I no longer feel worthy. Sure, I have people who have tried to convince me otherwise, but they're not the people I so desperately want to hear it from. My family will always think I'm great, and I suppose I should be more grateful for that than I am. My push-over of a manager at the paper I work for thinks I'm the best employee he's ever had. My ex-boyfriend would tell me everything I wanted to hear when I was laying next to him naked.

None of it matters. None of it takes away the sleepless nights, the lonely dinners, the emptiness.

I never saw myself as seeking your approval, but looking back, I did when I first started. Then, something changed. You looked at me differently. I felt that you were truly proud of me, just the way I was. I could relax and be myself. It was such an empowering feeling, but far too brief. You thought I was two-faced when I relaxed around you.

At some point, days turned into years of asking myself why it all mattered. Why I was trying so hard to impress you. I wanted you to like something about me. For my own sanity, I needed to know that I wasn't imagining the relationship we had for about eight months. I still need to know.

Would things have been different if I would have clearly told you how much I wanted to kiss you? To fuck you on your staircase? Would it have been different if I wasn't always so circumspect those late evenings at your house?

Were you afraid that you were misinterpreting the signals? Did you think that when I said that I loved you, I meant some other kind of love? Was I supposed to think that you signing emails "Love & kisses, Mira xx" meant nothing? That calling me "sweetheart" and "darling" and "My Andrea" was just some joke? What did you mean when you said "I love you" anyway?

I could drive myself crazy with all of the guessing…and honestly, I have been going crazy these past five years without you. I mean, what am I even doing with my life? It all means nothing to me. I'm holding onto this fantasy of a relationship that never really was. But it almost was, wasn't it? I hesitated there, and I think you would too. It's that hesitation that gives me hope—hope that it could be. You once said you lived on hope, well, I live on it now.

Did you know that whenever I have a near-death experience (usually hitting turbulence on a flight), you're the only thought in my mind? I think about never knowing why you pushed me away, about never having the chance to tell you 'I love you' one last time, about never feeling your arms around me ever again.

What if you never know? What if I never have another opportunity to tell you? Of course I'm never going to mail this letter, and I doubt it would go over well if I told my parents to give this to you if something ever happened to me. If I never saw you again.

Miriam Ester Princhek, I love you with all that I have. There is nothing more I want in life than you and to be yours.

I won't lie. The 'let's just be friends' thing really never works, but I would try. For you, anything…

So, I know you won't respond to anything I try to send you. You've ignored all of my calls, emails, and letters. There were hundreds. But just on the off chance that you feel like responding, I will keep writing even though I've said nearly twenty times that I would leave you alone if you didn't respond. I can't. I have to know that I actively tried to pursue my own happiness.

And Miranda, you would make me so very happy.

I love you.



"Hi. I just realized I'm missing my document pouch—I think I left it on the plane. Can you check?"

"What seat were you in, honey"


The attendant on the desk picked up the phone and called the attendants cleaning the cabin. "They said there's nothing there. Are you sure you don't have it?"

"No. I don't. My interview notes were in there!" Andrea said.

"I'm sorry, honey. Here, fill out this form and if we find anything, we will send it your way. Next!" she called, pushing Andrea off to the side.

Several hours later, Andrea returned to her apartment, frantically trying to piece together the notes from her interview with the director of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, or DWP for short. Mentally cursing herself for not typing them up right away, she felt that she had enough for her piece and decided to finish writing it the following morning.

"Caroline, answer the door please."

The fourteen-year-old sighed as she marched to the door, answering it with as much attitude as one would expect from Miranda Priestly's daughter. "Here," she said, returning to the den and tossing a padded envelope on the couch next to her mother. "I can't believe you're, like, still getting Runway mail—that was, like, forever ago."

"Caroline, please refrain from saying 'like' so much. It makes you, like, sound, like, unintelligent," Miranda said, casually glancing at the package.

"Whatever," Caroline said, heading back upstairs to her room. "Are you ever going to do anything but read? What are you even reading anyways?"

"Bobbsey, 'anyways' is not a word. And I am trying to read all of these books I own but have never read. Are you and Cass going with your father this weekend?"

"Well, sorta. He wants us to watch Jake so he can spend the weekend in the Hamptons with Tiffani."

"Oh, I see," Miranda said. "You don't have to do that if you don't want to. I can call him and ask to hire a sitter."

"Nah, it's okay. Jake is so cute, and without Tiff there, it's way calmer," Caroline said.

"Oh, I'm sure." Miranda paused. "Do you want to bring him here for the weekend?"

"Are you serious?"

"I've told you before, I have nothing against that little boy. Just because I personally think your father is an asshole and his new wife is a bimbo, doesn't mean Jacob needs to suffer."

Caroline laughed. "Ha. Ha. I think we'll be fine, but I promise we will call you if we need anything."

"Okay. Do you need a ride?"

"Nope," Cassidy said, appearing in the doorway. "Dad just texted—he's on his way. See you, Mom!"

"Bye darlings, have a good weekend," Miranda called after them.

She tossed her book to the couch and stretched her arms above her head. With the girls gone, she would have a quiet weekend all to herself. She had been anticipating this time alone for the past few weeks. Not that she wasn't always alone, but today there would be no teenagers bursting through the door, blaring pop music throughout the house, stomping up and down the stairs. Tonight, she would enjoy the peace.

Miranda spent the next half hour doing her evening yoga routine, then prepared a quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash and portobellos in a fresh lemongrass vinaigrette. After rinsing off her plate and turning on the dishwasher, she turned out the kitchen lights and returned upstairs to her study.

She eyed the curious package on the couch. It had been months since she received any Runway mail. Five years ago, Emily had arranged to have the Elias-Clarke mail carrier forward all of Miranda's mail to her home address. It was one of the more thoughtful things Emily had done, though Miranda wasn't sure she actually wanted any more reminders of her former life.

"It's probably just more samples from that utterly useless assistant at Prada," Miranda said. It was really surprising how many people still thought she was the Editor in Chief.

Miranda picked up the envelope and walked to her desk, taking a pair of scissors and carefully cutting it along the edge. Inside, she was surprised to find some sort of folder—one of those brown accordion folders you would sometimes see lawyers carrying around on the subway as if they had never heard of an attaché case or messenger bag. Before opening the folder, she reached inside the envelope and pulled out a note hastily written on a piece of hotel stationery.

Hello—I hope this envelope finds its way back to its owner, as there appear to be several important documents. I must have mistakenly grabbed this on the airplane, or perhaps in the airport lounge, and by the time I realized, I was already here at my hotel. My sincerest apologies—I hope this hasn't caused too much of an inconvenience.

Miranda read and reread the curious note several times. So, this envelope belonged to someone—certainly not her—and someone else took it by mistake. Why did she send it to me? Miranda wondered.

As she began to undo the string closure on the folder, she felt a chill run through her body. She knew it wasn't hers, but she needed to see what it was. Something about it was familiar, even though she had never seen it before. Did it belong to Stephen, perhaps? She couldn't quite place it.

Pulling the documents slowly out of the folder, she found several small stacks of paper held together with paperclips. Quickly thumbing through, it appeared to be a transcript from an interview with a Joel Hobson, in addition to some research on energy conservation in the state of California. Another stack of papers held pages upon pages of spreadsheets, grids, numbers. Each page had the letters "DWP" stamped across the top, and it was clear she was looking at photocopies. Still unclear as to why this was sent to her, she kept flipping through the papers.

Then, she saw it. Then, she knew why this was so familiar. Andrea.

Miranda quickly placed the papers back in a neat stack and stepped away from her desk. She had tried so hard to forget about her, and she was doing so well. She was in a good place. The last thing she needed was her.

"Oh god," Miranda groaned, sinking into the armchair by the fireplace. "I can't, I can't," she said, slowly pulling her knees to her chest as tears streamed down her cheeks. "I can't."

But as hard as she tried this time, Miranda couldn't force the memories away—not when the papers smelled like Andrea.

"Hey, Mom."

"Hi Cassidy. Is everything going okay with Jake?"

"Yeah, he's great. I'm so glad he's potty-trained already, though."

"Well, I'm sure that makes everything easier."

"What are you doing? Are you getting a cold?"

"No, it must just be allergies. I woke up like this," Miranda said.

"Hey, did you ever open that envelope?"

"Do not address me with 'hey'—I am not one of your high school friends."

"Sorry, Mom. Did you open it?"

Miranda hesitated. "Yes, I did. It was—it was nothi—" she said, pulling the phone away and pressing her fist to her mouth as she choked back a sob.

"Mom? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

After several seconds of silence, Cassidy cautiously asked, "Did she send you another letter?"

"Yes," Miranda cried. "No. Well, sort of."


"She didn't send it. She wrote it, and then someone else took her papers on the airplane. I don't think she was going to send it."

"So how did you get it?"

"Whoever took her stuff was trying to return it. My address was the only identifying information."

"What, did she write a freaking business letter?"

Miranda smiled and chuckled. "Yes. Yes, it appears she did."

"Did you burn it yet?" Cassidy asked.


"Are you going to?"

"I don't know. It doesn't feel right. I wasn't supposed to see this one."

"Mom, just tear it up and stick it in the fireplace. You don't need this. If you weren't supposed to see it, just pretend you didn't."

"Bobbsey, you still have a lot to learn. Forgetting isn't as simple as it seems."

"Ugh, I remember, I remember. You tried to explain this when we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, remember?"

"Yes. I'm sorry, Cass. I just—this one is different."

"You've said that before."

"Well, I really have this overwhelming urge to reply this time."

"Okay…so do it! That's good, right?"

"No! I was never supposed to see this in the first place."

"Isn't that fate, Mom?"

"I suppose."

"Are you okay—I can come home for a while today if you want. Caroline's fine here with Jake, you know."

"No, darling, you just have a good weekend. I need some more time to think."

"Okay, love you, Mom. Call me if you need anything—even if you need me to talk you into or out of sending a reply."

Miranda smiled. "I love you, sweetheart. I'll see you tomorrow night."

Ending the call, she turned to the pieces of paper clutched firmly in her hand. Andrea, why are you doing this to me? she thought.

Deciding it would be best to write a reply before deciding whether or not to send it, she collected her notepad and pen, making herself comfortable on the couch. It was going to be a long night.

"Hey Cass? Was Mom upset about Andy again?"

"Yeah. It's super weird, but Andy wrote this letter to her, not meaning to send it, then lost her stuff. Mom's address was on there, so some lady sent everything to Mom. I don't know what was in the letter but it definitely made her really upset."

"I kind of miss Andy. I know Mom would kill me if she heard me say that…but I do. Mom was happier when she was here, too."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I still don't get why Mom broke up with her."

"What do you mean? They were never dating or anything official," Caroline said.

"Well, you know, like broke up their friendship. Like how you told Alicia you didn't want to be her friend anymore?"

"Oh yeah, I guess. But I still talk to Alicia sometimes. I mean, I'm not burning texts from her or anything crazy."

"True," Cassidy said. "I really hope Mom writes back to her. Andy deserves it."

"What? She's actually writing back? You didn't say that!" Caroline said, punching her in the arm.

"Ow. Mom didn't exactly say it either. I just have a feeling. Actually, I have a feeling she's going to write this awesome letter back and then not send it."

"You mean like she does every other time she hears from her?"

"Yup. Personally, my favorite was when Andy left a voicemail on the house phone and Mom spent like a whole week practicing a reply, then chickened out."

"Hey," Caroline said, "what if we send the letter for Mom?"

"Uh, I'm pretty sure she would not be cool with that."

"But we can say it was an accident—like, Andy's letter got to her by accident, but I'm sure Mom's glad she got it, despite what she says."

Cassidy's eyes lit up. "You're right. This is brilliant. Now if we can just get them in the same room together…"

"One step at a time. We don't even know if Mom wrote a reply."

Both girls busted out laughing. "Who are we kidding. Of course she did. She's probably on her thirteenth draft by now," Cassidy said. Even Jake joined in their laughter in the way only a three-year-old can.

Later that afternoon, after their father and his wife had returned from their weekend trip, the girls joined Miranda for dinner on the patio. Sensing that Miranda didn't want to talk much about her weekend, Caroline and Cassidy filled their mother's head with stories upon stories of the silly and cute things their half-brother Jake has been doing and saying.

"Hey Mom, do you feel like going for a run with me?" Cassidy asked.

Miranda paused. "Yes, actually, that sounds great. Can you give me twenty minutes to change?"

Cassidy internally rolled her eyes. "Sure, I've got to find my leggings," she said. Miranda never wore anything other than yoga pants, stretchy tees and athletic jackets anymore, but apparently a run through Central Park required entirely different attire.

Once Miranda was upstairs, Cassidy turned to her sister. "While we're gone, you have to find the letter."

"What? Am I supposed to go searching through her stuff?"

"Yes. I've already searched the study but it's not there—and neither is the letter Andy wrote. I'm thinking Mom has it tucked away in her closet or nightstand or something."

"Fine," Caroline said. "But when I find it, I'm relocating it to YOUR bedroom. You realize she will kill us?"

"I have a better idea. Make a copy of it on the printer, then put it back where you found it."

"Cass, if I get caught I'm never talking to you again."

"Okay, okay. I promise to keep Mom out for at least an hour, maybe two. We'll chat more tonight. I've gotta change."

After running nearly five miles, Miranda took advantage of the open bench in the park, stretching her calves before taking a seat.

"You okay?" Cassidy asked, taking a seat next to her.

Miranda was leaning forward, her elbows resting on her knees as she hung her head. "I'm fine. I just need a few minutes."

"I'm going to grab us some water over there," she said, gesturing at the coffee shop nestled along the trail. When she returned, she handed Miranda a bottle of water.

"Cass, are you upset that I haven't gone back to work?"

"Huh? No. Why would I be upset?" Cassidy said.

"Well, it's just that I'm not setting a good example for you girls," Miranda said.

"Mom, are you serious? I can't believe you're talking like this." She paused. "Does this have anything to do with the letter from Andy?"

Miranda looked up in surprise and met Cassidy's eyes. "Yes."

"Ugh! How dare she upset you like that!"

"Calm down, she wasn't being mean. She just has this way of making me feel like I made a really bad decision, like she would be disappointed in me…which is ridiculous because, well—"

"Mom," Cassidy said, gently resting her hand on her shoulder, "you really love her, don't you?"

"Yes," Miranda said breathlessly. Tears began streaming down her cheeks. "I do. But I see how I've hurt her, and I'm afraid nothing can fix that."

"What really happened between you two?" she asked.

"Sweetie, maybe I'll tell you someday when you're older," Miranda said, sighing and sitting back against the bench.

"Come on, I'm almost fifteen!"


Cassidy huffed and sat back, crossing her arms across her chest. "Did you make a bad decision?"

"What? Oh. Yes, I'm afraid so," Miranda said quietly. "At the time, it seemed right."

"So, apologize. Explain. Admit your mistake," Cassidy said. "You know, those three things you hate to do."

Miranda smirked and looked over at her daughter. "If only it were that easy…I would have done it years ago."

"Can you at least tell me why you never write back to her? Why you threw all those papers into the fire pit last year?"

"Sweetheart, I said, it's not easy. I thought that if I didn't have anything to remind me of her, I would be able to forget everything. Another poor decision, I suppose." Minutes passed as they sat in silence. "It's already dark out," Miranda said, "let's get a cab back."

Meanwhile, Caroline spent the evening searching through her mother's things, attempting to locate what she knew to be her mother's favorite notebook. Finally, she found it tucked under Miranda's pillow. She opened it to where a pen was tucked inside, and instantly knew she found what she was looking for.

Caroline photocopied the journal pages before carefully tucking the notebook back in its hiding place. Hearing the front door open, she quickly folded the paper and stuffed it into an envelope. "Mom? Cass?" she called.

"I'm going to go up and shower," Miranda said, quickly sailing up the stairs and into her room.

"Okay, what happened?" Caroline asked.

"We had a good run, then Mom kind of got emotional about Andy. Before you ask, no, she wouldn't tell me what happened. Did you find the letter?"

"Yeah. Mom wrote it in her notebook. I only read the first and last sentences, but I think we need to send it."

"Okay. I'll drop it off at Andy's work tomorrow during my free period," Cassidy said.

"Hey Andy," Erin said, walking over to her desk. "Someone just dropped this off for you. Using teenagers as informants now, are we?"

Andrea looked up from her computer, "Huh?"

"Nevermind. But you should open it. The young girl who delivered it was particularly insistent that it be delivered to an Ahn-dré-ah Sachs."

Andrea gulped. "Uhh, thanks, Erin. I'll take it," she said, reaching out for the envelope.

Once her coworker walked away, Andrea opened the envelope and pulled out a stack of papers, the scent of which made her eyes flutter. She quickly tucked the papers back inside and grabbed her bag, rushing out of the office.

"I've gotta go," she said. "I'll call you tonight!

Andrea rushed out the door and quickly hailed a cab. She needed to sit down when she read this, and she certainly didn't have the patience to run home. After giving her address to the driver, she studied the envelope in her lap. It wasn't Miranda's handwriting on the front, and that made Andrea curious. Did she really have her assistant send this? she wondered.

Taking a deep breath, she again opened the envelope and pulled out the top sheet of paper, which was folded in half. Opening it, she was surprised to see a note from Miranda's daughters.

Hey Andy, Mom doesn't know we're sending this to you… On Friday she got a mysterious package—it looked like someone found a folder of yours at an airport and sent it to Mom because there was a letter addressed to her inside. She knows you didn't intend for her to see it, but the letter clearly meant something to her. And because she's so stubborn, she won't bring herself to tell you she screwed up before. You know she'd kill us if she knew what we're doing, but we can't sit by and watch her like this anymore. Since she read a letter she wasn't supposed to see, we only figured it was fair if you had the same chance. Please—we know Mom misses you. Hope to see you again soon, Cassidy and Caroline Priestly

Andrea read and reread the note as it all settled in. Her missing document pouch. The letter she hastily wrote on the flight. Miranda screwed up. The girls couldn't sit and watch her anymore. Miranda misses her. Miranda screwed up?

It took every ounce of willpower to keep from tearing open the envelope and reading whatever they sent, but she waited until she had privacy. Opening the door of her apartment, she tore the sheets from the envelope and leaned back against the doorframe. Andrea gasped as she softly began tracing her fingertips over Miranda's handwriting.

Dearest Andrea,

Oh god, how I miss saying your name, Andrea. I love you. And I miss you. Nothing is the same since we parted, but then again, nothing has really changed. I'm still not working, a stay-at-home-mom I guess you could say. Oftentimes, I wish I had gone back to work just to give myself something to take my mind off of things…off of you.

Last week I received a package containing some of your documents. The sender was trying to return them, but it appears the only address he or she had was mine. I read the letter. You were always so honest—especially with your feelings. I suppose it's time for me to be honest, too. It's the least you deserve.

Your letter brought tears to my eyes—not because it was touching and heartfelt—because it was painful and heartbreaking. Until now, I didn't realize how deeply I had hurt you, how much our relationship affected you. Andrea, it affected me, too.

Five years ago, I thought it was the right thing to do. I was much older than you, so it was my responsibility to look out for your best interests, to ensure you have the opportunity to live your life and to be happy. I thought if I ignored your calls and emails and letters, you would forget about me as soon as someone else came along—and, since I'm being honest, I thought I could make myself forget about you, too. Well, I was wrong.

No matter what I did, I couldn't forget about you, and apparently you couldn't forget me, either. I think what was most painful about reading your letter was the guilt it evoked in me, that sense of knowing that I caused you, who means so much to me, that much pain. It was unbearable.

You once compared me to a mango, do you remember that? Said I had this tough skin, a hidden, unbreakable core, but behind the skin I was all mushy. I remember being appalled at the time, but it was true. Now, I think I'm more along the lines of an overripe mango… The point is that you knew me better than anyone else. Others were comparing me to ice or fire, but you compared me to a soft, sweet, exotic fruit.

Oh Andrea, I love you so much. I miss you, but I know it's my own fault you're gone. I was worried what others would think, what your parents would say, what the tabloids would do. No one cares about what I do with my life anymore. My spot on Page Six has since been replaced with Kardashians. None of it matters.

And just to clarify, while our brief relationship may have felt more like a fantasy, it was real. I could barely keep it together that night you stopped by. If you would have so much as whispered in my ear, kissed me, pinned me against the banister—anything—I would have done whatever you asked. Anything. Just one word, one touch, one breath—it would have pushed me over the edge. Oh god, how I miss your hands on me, your lips on my skin.

Andrea, I love you. I want you so badly I cannot focus. I want you back, except that you were never mine. Now, all I have is hope... xx Mira

"Hey, Mom."

"Hello, girls. How was school?" Miranda asked as the girls both went straight up the stairs to their rooms. "Hello? Do you not have two minutes to talk to me?"

"Sorry," Cassidy said, turning and taking a seat on the stairs. Miranda joined her "School was good. I have a midterm in AP US History tomorrow, so I kind of want to spend as much time as possible studying for that."

Miranda leaned over and kissed Cassidy on the forehead. "You go and study. I'll bring you something for dinner in a little while. I'm so proud of you, sweetheart," she said.

Cassidy smiled and trotted off to her bedroom.

"And how was your day?" Miranda asked Caroline. "Is it just me or does Cass seem on edge?"

"Uhh, I don't know. I mean, I didn't notice, no. My day was fine. Just a little bit of Pre-Calc homework I was going to work on with Jessica later," Caroline said. "Do you want me to help with dinner or anything?"

Miranda eyed her daughter suspiciously. "No, I already made the chicken and croissant dish you girls like. There's something you aren't telling me," she said.

"Huh? Me? No. I mean, I'm like an open book, Mom. I tell you everything," she said nervously.

Miranda pursed her lips. "Okay, but you would tell me if it was anything important, right?" she asked. "Right??"

"Right. Of course," Caroline said, turning to head up to her room.

"I love you, Caroline."

"Love you, too, Mom."

After dinner, the girls were loading the dishwasher when the doorbell rang. Miranda ran to see who was there while Caroline and Cassidy exchanged a knowing look.

"Oooh!" Miranda gasped, her voice echoing throughout the house.

"Mom?" the girls called, rushing into the foyer.

Miranda was standing inches in front of the door, her hand clasped across her mouth, white as a ghost. Again, the doorbell chimed.

"Are you going to answer it?" Caroline asked.

Miranda opened her mouth to speak, but she was frozen and couldn't utter a single word.

"I'll just tell them to come back later," Cassidy said, pushing her way towards the door.

"No," Miranda whispered. "I—let her in."

Cassidy opened the door, smiling brightly when she saw a puffy-eyed Andrea. "Andy! We haven't seen you in a while. Come on in," she said.

Caroline had walked Miranda into the sitting room, and Cassidy followed close behind with Andrea. "Can I get you anything? Mom? Water?" Cassidy asked.

"A glass of water would be fine, thank you," Andrea said, taking a seat in the chair opposite Miranda.

The girls swiftly left the room Cassidy poured two glasses of water while her sister ran upstairs and retrieved their book bags.

"Uh, Mom, we're going to Jessica's to finish studying. We'll be home by 10, okay?" Caroline said while Cassidy set the glasses on the coffee table.

Miranda nodded, and the girls quickly left the house.


"Andrea—" they began simultaneously.

"Andrea, what are you doing here?" Miranda asked, looking down at her hands.

Andrea was too busy taking everything in—she had changed so much in just five years. She hardly even looked like the same person. Her hair was longer and styled straight in a sort of soft bob, and she wore very little makeup. She was considerably thinner, and her casual cotton clothes hung limply on her bony frame.


"Oh, um…sorry?" she said.

"What are you doing here?" Miranda repeated.

"Cassidy and Caroline sent me a note. Well, rather, they sent me a copy of something you had written…something I'm certain you never intended for me to see," Andrea said uncomfortably. Seeing Miranda shift on the couch, she added, "But don't be upset with them—they were just thinking about you."

"Oh my god," Miranda whispered as she brought her knees up to her chest, burying her face.

"Miranda, look at me," Andrea said after some time.

"I can't."

Andrea stood from the chair and began quietly pacing the room. There was so much she wanted to say right now. She needed a second to compose herself. "Damnit!" she shouted, quickly covering her mouth with her hand. Miranda's face was still buried against her knees, but she could hear her sobbing. "You don't get to do this to me," Andrea shouted. "You don't get to hide. You pushed me away. I've…it's been five years, my god!"

"What do you want from me?" Miranda cried, lifting her head just enough to be heard.

"You, damnit! Look at me," Andrea said. "Don't you dare try to make me feel guilty. Look at me and stop hiding."

"Get out," she said. "GET. OUT!" Her tiny body shook with the force of her voice, and it clearly caught Andrea off guard. Few had ever heard Miranda scream like that.


"What?" she snapped.

"I said 'no,'" Andrea said. "Miranda, there will be arguments. We won't agree on everything all the time. Look at me."

Miranda slowly looked up and met Andrea's gaze with red, puffy eyes. Without breaking her gaze, Andrea walked over to the couch and sat next to her. She reached up and gently cupped her cheek, brushing the tears away with her thumb. Miranda's eyes fluttered closed and she worried her lower lip. When she opened her eyes, Andrea's gaze was still fixed, but she couldn't quite figure out what was going through her mind.

"What?" Miranda asked.

"I can't decide if I should slap you or kiss you," Andrea admitted.

Miranda gasped and her eyes widened. "I'm so sorry, Andrea," she whispered.

Andrea nodded and wrapped Miranda in a tight embrace. "It's okay—it's all going to be okay now," she said through her own tears. "I forgive you."

Miranda pushed away from Andrea and looked in her eyes. "You do?" she asked in disbelief.

"Yes," Andrea said with a smile. "You are the most difficult woman in the world, but I love you."

"Oh, darling," Miranda said. She took Andrea's head in her hands and kissed her with five years' worth of passion.

When they parted for air, Miranda reached down, tugging at the hem of Andrea's blouse, but Andrea took her hand and stilled her movements. "Not tonight," she said. "This is so much to take in—I just—I can hardly believe you're real."

"C'm here," Miranda said, shifting her position and tugging Andrea alongside her. "I…I am never letting you go again, darling," she said, kissing her softly on the forehead.

"Mmmh," Andrea murmured, closing her eyes and drifting to sleep as the day's emotions took its toll on her.

"Look at how cute they are," Cassidy whispered.

"It's adorable," Caroline said, quickly snapping a photo with her iPhone. "Should we wake them up?"

"Well, Andy probably has to go to work tomorrow, so, yeah," she said, heading back to the foyer.

"Mom will probably be all embarrassed when she wakes up, so let's pretend we just got home," Caroline said.

Cassidy opened—then slammed—the front door, heading past the sitting room and into the kitchen. "We're home!" she called loudly.

Miranda took a deep breath and looked over at the smiling brunette next to her. "Will you stay tonight? Please?"

Andrea smiled and nodded. "I just need to call work and tell them I won't be in tomorrow," she said. She gave Miranda a quick kiss on the cheek before pushing herself up off the couch.

"And I," Miranda said, stretching, "will go deal with Thing 1 and Thing 2." She reached out and squeezed Andrea's hand before heading into the kitchen.

Later that evening, after the girls went to bed, Miranda led Andrea into her bedroom.

"Here," she said, handing Andrea some items she pulled from her drawer, "lounge pants and a ribbed tank okay or do you prefer something else?"

"That's perfect, thanks," Andrea said. She stopped and looked down at the clothes in her hand. "I, uh—we're still—uh—" she stammered.

"Second thoughts?" Miranda asked, unable to hide the look of disappointment from her eyes.

"No! No," Andrea said. "I just was hoping to sleep with you tonight. But I get it."

"Huh? Of course you're sleeping here with me," Miranda said as she wrapped her arms around the young woman's waist. "I told you I am never letting you go," she said, pressing their lips together.

"So, these clothes?" Andrea asked.

"I just thought you'd be more comfortable—and less tempting—if you were wearing something. That's all," Miranda said.

Andrea nodded, and Miranda followed her into the bathroom, practically running into her when she stopped suddenly.

"Is everything okay?"

"I, uh…do you have a tampon I can borrow—use?"

Miranda held up a finger and stepped out to retrieve a box from the linen closet in the hall. She handed Andrea the box, then stepped closer to the vanity to brush her teeth. Andrea walked further into the bathroom and shut the door. When she was finished, she washed her hands, removed her makeup, and swished around some mouthwash before joining Miranda in bed.

"Did you find everything you needed?" Miranda asked.

"Yes, thank you."

"You know, you're lucky I have two teenage daughters…"

"Ah, yes, about that. I take it you no longer—?" Andrea said, trailing off.

"No. Not since—well, almost three years ago. Let's change the subject."

"Okay, but you brought it up," Andrea said with a smile.

"I changed my mind, okay?" Miranda snapped.

"Okay. Miranda, I was teasing," she said, turning to her side and wrapping her arms around the older woman. "Is this a bad time to ask what you've been up to in the last five years?"

"Pfft. I guess there is no good time to talk about that, is there?"

"Miranda, what happened with Runway?" Andrea asked, propping herself up on her elbow.

"Andrea, I don't want to talk about this. I'm not the same person you used to know," she said as she turned her back to her.

Andrea gently stroked her arm and scooted closer. "I know," she whispered in her ear, "I know you're not the same—neither am I—but that doesn't change anything between us. You were devastated when Elias Clarke cut Runway. I noticed they brought it back in 2007, but without you."

"You are telling me things I already know," Miranda said. "What more do you want me to say? They wanted me out? They didn't think I was good enough? I was wrong and they are perfectly successful without me? Do you want me to say I wish they would have taken me back? The truth is…they did want me, but I wasn't ready. And now I'm 54, unemployed, and overqualified for everything. Do you know what that feels like? Do you?"

Wrapping her arms tightly around the woman's slender frame, Andrea held her while she cried. As her tears dried, Andrea trailed gently kisses along her jawline and down her neck.

"I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you," she said between kisses.

"Ohhh…darling," Miranda softly sighed as she tilted her head, giving Andrea better access. "Mmmm," she moaned arching her back into Andrea's touch.

"How did you keep busy all those years?" she asked, gently nibbling on Miranda's collarbone. "What did you think about all day?"

"You," Miranda said breathlessly.

"Me?" Andrea asked, staring down at the beautiful woman lying next to her.

"Yes," she said as she tried to move closer.

Andrea quickly straddled the older woman, pinning her arms above her head. "Miranda Priestly, you are the most beautiful woman in the world," she said. "I don't care if you don't have job, or if you have teenage daughters, or if you're in menopause or what—none of that means anything to me. I just want you, can't you see?"

Andrea kissed her with all the lust of the past five years until she was dizzy from lack of oxygen. When she finally pulled away, Miranda was writhing beneath her, bucking her hips and arching her back.

"Oh pleeaaase," Miranda moaned, "I need you."

Andrea smiled, letting go of Miranda's wrists as she slithered down her body. "You are splendid, Miranda," she whispered as she unbuttoned Miranda's silk nightshirt. "Perfection," she purred, pressing her lips to her sternum. Her lips trailed upwards, licking and sucking at her darkened nipples as Miranda's moans urged her on. "Delicious," she said before cupping her breast and devouring her nipple.

"Oh—huh—huh—ahhhh—oh god oh god oh god—Andreeeeeaaah," she said between breaths. "I need—I can't—oh god—oh godd—please!"

As content as Andrea was playing with Miranda's breasts, she shifted, straddling Miranda's right leg as she trailed kisses down her belly. Miranda was kicking and squirming, her right leg shaking as she ached for release. Andrea felt her own arousal deep in her belly. She was ready to explode. But first, Miranda.

She plunged her fingers deep within Miranda's walls and massaged her palm against her clitoris.

"Ohhhhhhhh!" she cried out. Andrea felt a flood of hot moisture against her hand, Miranda's muscles tightly sucking on her fingers. Andrea smiled as she realized Miranda was nowhere near finished.

While Miranda tried to catch her breath, Andrea began rocking back and forth, grinding against Miranda's thigh until she was sufficiently relieved for the time being. Andrea slowly began curling and twisting up her fingers inside Miranda, sending her back over the edge again and again.

Nearly an hour later, Miranda reached up and took Andrea's wrist, stilling her fingers as she slipped them out. "No more…tonight. I…can't…anymore," she panted.

Andrea curled up alongside her, licking her fingers as she rested her head on Miranda's shoulder. "Hmph," Andrea giggled, looking down at her hand. "It looks like I've had my hand underwater for hours," she said, holding her prune-like fingers up for Miranda to see.

"This doesn't mean you're quitting, does it?" Miranda asked.

"Of course not," Andrea said, softly tickling Miranda's waist. "I may just need to give my fingers a break for a while and use my tongue," she said. Andrea slowly dragged her tongue across Miranda's collarbone, sending a shiver through the woman's body. "Is this what you want?" she asked.

"Yes—oh god yes," Miranda said.

Andrea dragged her tongue all the way to her navel. "Hmm? What was that?" she asked.

"No, wait. We can—tomorrow," she panted.

"So you don't want this?" Andrea asked, quickly licking the inside of her thighs as she pressed Miranda's legs further apart.

"No—yes—oh shit!" she cried out as Andrea plunged her tongue inside her hot, dripping folds. "Ohhhhhh—so close so close soclose!" she cried, slipping her hand into her own curls.

Andrea quickly pushed her hand away and licked her fingers before rubbing Miranda's clitoris. The combined sensations of Andrea's hot mouth and the quick motion of her fingers quickly sent Miranda over the edge. Andrea crawled back up alongside her and pressed a gentle kiss to her shoulder as she recovered.

"Wow," Miranda said, smiling. "Make-up sex really is the best."

"Oh, is that all you think this was?" Andrea teased.

"Well—or is it going to be like this with you every night?" she asked. "No, wait—I didn't mean that," she said, sighing. "I'm sorry. Forget I said that. I—you were incredible. That's all."

Andrea pushed herself up and looked down into Miranda's eyes. "It's okay. I like the idea of every night. I want this every night, but maybe without the making up part" she said.

"You do?" Miranda asked, her voice cracking.

"Yes, I do. I love you."

"Oh darling, I love you, too," she said, wrapping her arms tightly around the other woman. "Now for sure I am never letting you go."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Andrea said.

The End

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