DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
WARNING: Part two contains graphic, medical content/images. No violence or character death, but potential trigger warning.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To emeraldorchids[at]outlook.com
Andrea Sachs sat silently in the backseat of the town car, her arms held tightly at her sides. Riding with Miranda still made her as nervous as when she started. As Roy pulled up to Elias Clarke building, Andrea grabbed her bag and opened the door. "I'll get coffee," she said quietly, exiting the car and running across the street before Miranda had a chance to respond. Even if Miranda didn't want the coffee, Andrea still needed a few minutes to herself to process what was going on.
By the time she returned with Miranda's afternoon Starbucks order, she had been gone an entire twelve minutes, though it felt like an eternity. Oh shit, Miranda's going to kill me. Andrea frantically pushed the button on the elevator, willing it to travel faster.
She sprinted from the elevator to the outer office, pausing at her desk only to set down her bag and toss her coat on her chair. Calmly walking into Miranda's office, Andrea set the coffee on Miranda's desk.
"Hey Em, where's Miranda?"
"Bloody hell if I know. Serena's been looking for her for hours and Patrick must have called seventeen times already," Emily spat. "Wait, didn't she come back from James Holt's with you?"
"Yeah," Andrea said, pausing. "She never came back here?"
Emily dramatically looked around the room, poking her head under her desk. "I don't see her anywhere."
"Then where "
"Maybe she's out looking for a new second assistant," Emily hissed, abruptly turning to answer an incoming call.
Andrea rolled her eyes and walked over to her desk, hanging up her jacket and slipping her bag beneath her desk. "I'm going to the bathroom," she said, pointing down the hall. It was a little strange that Miranda hadn't returned, but then again, she ran across the street so quickly she didn't even know whether Miranda even left the town car.
Sighing, Andrea pushed open the door to the ladies' room. She was relieved to have a few extra minutes to herself, though she knew Miranda would return eventually and she'd have to face her. Hopefully, she won't fire me.
Andrea washed and dried her hands, taking her time as she ran her fingers through her hair. Someone coughed, and Andrea froze. She was not alone.
Stepping away from the mirror, she heaved a sigh of relief that she hadn't been talking to herself aloud. Stepping towards the stalls, she looked for the source of the cough. Could it be the last stallthe handicapped one? Isn't that door always shut?
Just as she was about to ask if everything was alright, she heard another whimper that froze her in her tracks. Miranda.
Earlier that day, they were at James Holt's studio, where Miranda was being fitted for a custom gown for the upcoming CFDA holiday party. Miranda made her disapproval of the gown very clear with her unmatched pursed-lip-look, but then James dared ask what it was she didn't like. Was it the shape? Did she want straps? Should the bow have been smaller? On the back instead of the front?
As all eyes were turned on Miranda, she pressed the back of her hand to her lips and ran towards the elevator, retching. Andrea, James, and his assistants all exchanged glances. No one knew quite what to do. Were they supposed to follow her? Eventually, Nadine retrieved a glass of ice water and walked over there, but when they heard the sound of the glass shattering against the concrete floor, Andrea knew it was time to leave.
Addressing James loud enough so Miranda would hear, Andrea thanked him for his time and explained that they needed to be on their way. "I'm sure Miranda will be in touch with you," Andrea said, biting her lip. She pressed the button to call the elevator, then held the door as Miranda stepped in, never once making eye contact. Miranda gestured for her to join, and they rode down in silence.
When Andrea climbed into the backseat from the other side of the car, she caught Miranda's eye for a fraction of a second before she turned to look out the window. It didn't matter how longit was long enough to see her pale lips, the look of pure humiliation in her eye.
Quickly returning to the present, Andrea gently knocked on the door. "Is everything alright in there?" she asked. It was an honest question, and she would have asked even if she didn't know who was there.
"I'm fine," a hoarse voice whispered.
Before Andrea could respond, she heard the editor expelling the liquid contents of her stomach into the toilet. What am I supposed to do when Miranda's sick? Call her husband to pick her up? As Andrea tried to figure out how to handle the situation, she heard the toilet flush. She needed to speak up.
"Miranda, you're not fine," Andrea said firmly, as she tried to nudge the door open. "Roy will take you home to rest."
"Ica-can't," Miranda coughed, falling against the wall with a thud as Andrea wedged the door open.
Gasping, Andrea rushed over and wrapped her arm around her, easing her onto the floor. She would deal with the fact that she had just touchedno, rather, attempted to soothe Miranda later, when she could assure she was alright. "What's going on? Do you need me to call an ambulance?" she asked, softening her tone when she felt how weak Miranda was. Had she always been this frail?
"No, I'll be okay," she said, closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Andrea cringed at the dry, scratchy sound of her voice, so different from the melodic whisper she was used to hearing. "I just need to sit for a minute."
Without thinking, Andrea reached up and brushed an unruly lock of hair off her face, her finger softly brushing against her temple. Again, she would deal with the consequences later. She cared for the editormuch more than she was willing to admit.
"Let's get you up before someone else walks in," Andrea said as she helped her to her feet. She knew the logic of the offer would appeal to Miranda. "Can I walk you down to the car?" she asked, taking her bag and coat off the hook on the back of the door.
Miranda shook her head as she let Andrea drape her coat over her shoulders. "I'll be fine," she said, sliding her sunglasses on. "Caroline had a stomach bug last week. I'm sure that's all it is."
"Okay," Andrea said. She wasn't entirely convinced, but she had already pushed the boundaries enough today. She hated the thought, but she knew the woman certainly was capable of taking care of herself. Once Miranda left, Andrea quickly texted Roy to meet Miranda in the lobby and possibly help her into the townhouse.
As she slowly made her way back to her desk, Emily practically pounced on her. "Where have you been! I have to pee!"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Andrea said, sinking into her chair. What a Monday.
"Don't let Miranda see you slouch like that!" Emily chided her.
"She won't. She went home for the rest of the day."
"I ran into her. She said something about Caroline and a stomach bug and left," Andrea said, hoping Emily would not persist. It wasn't exactly a lie.
"That little brat is always interfering," Emily hissed, resting her hand on her hip as she let her own posture loosen.
"Em, how can you blame her? She sees her mother for what, ten hours a week? Give her a break. Plus, I think Miranda was insinuating that she had caught the stomach bug Caroline had last week."
"Oh, so Miranda was sick?" Emily asked, suddenly perking up.
"Yes. I felt her forehead and she was a little feverish, so I made her some chicken soup and tucked her into bed," Andrea spat, rolling her eyes. She was going to ignore the fact that Emily seemed glad their boss was ill. "It's the only reason I can think that she felt the need to tell me Caroline was sick last week."
"Good point. I'll take care of her schedule," Emily announced, "right after I get back from the loo."
Looking at the clock, Andrea saw it was already 4:00 P.M. She grabbed her bag and coat, scribbling a note to Emily before heading out the door herself. She had a feeling that this was the calm before the stormwhat storm, she didn't know.
On Wednesday morning, Andrea arrived early. Miranda sent Andrea on pointless errands all day Tuesday, so she had quite a bit of catching up to do. As she walked into the office, she was surprised to see Miranda at her desk, thumbing through the pages of the Book. The warm glow of her desk lamp softened her features on this dreary morning. At least she's feeling better.
"Andrea," Miranda called quietly.
She quickly hung her coat and approached Miranda's desk with her notepad in hand.
"We leave for Paris one week from Friday," Miranda said as she continued to flip the pages. "The girls will be with their father, but I would like to provide your contact info to the school in case of an emergency. It's just, if something happens and James is busy " Her voice trailed off.
"Of course," Andrea said. "It's logical. I would be the only person who could get in touch with you. If there's anything else"
"I will let you know," Miranda said, nodding. She closed the Book and handed it across the desk to Andrea. "Oh, and I spoke with Valentino last night. He said he could do a fitting this afternoon."
"I'll schedule it with Alicia," Andrea said, quickly rushing the Book off to the Art Department.
"Do you think Miranda looks pale?" Nigel asked later that afternoon.
"What? No," Andrea said automatically. "Why?"
"Just wondering. I don't think she's been feeling well. Is she getting enough sleep?"
"Why does everyone assume I know these things?!" Andrea said. "I have no fucking clue what goes on once she leaves this building."
"Whoa, calm down there, Six. No need to get defensive," Nigel said as he nudged Andrea in the ribs. "I've just noticed that she's a bit slower latelywalking slower, thinking slower. Maybe it's early-onset Alzheimer's."
"Or dementia," Emily added.
"Or," Andrea said, "she finally decided to calm the fuck down. Now, get back to work before she hears you."
"Which one of you is coming to Valentino with me?" Miranda called out from her desk. Andrea and Emily exchanged glances as Nigel darted down the hall to his office. Emily frantically pointed to the Paris schedule she was working on.
"I am coming with you," Andrea said.
"Have Roy ready to go in five minutes. That's all."
Andrea quickly texted Roy, then sent a note to Alicia, Valentino's senior assistant, informing her that they would be nearly two hours early for Miranda's fitting. Andrea slipped her own coat on before grabbing Miranda's things and meeting her as she strode towards the elevator.
When the door opened, Miranda stepped in and Andrea's finger hovered over the call button, waiting until the doors were closed to call another. "Andrea," she whispered, looking up and meeting her assistant's eyes. Miranda jerked her head towards the space next to her.
They rode in silence, both in the elevator and in the town car. Andrea desperately wanted to ask Miranda how she had been feeling after Monday's drama, but she couldn't decide whether Miranda was waiting for her to ask or hoping she never brought it up ever again. So, she said nothing.
"Miranda, how lovely to see you," Alicia said, greeting the editor with air kisses. "Valentino will be down shortly. Would you like to get started?"
Miranda nodded and Alicia led her behind a dressing screen, then she came out to sit with Andrea, chatting quietly while Miranda changed into the gown. Andrea secretly loved accompanying her to fittings. There was something about witnessing the transformation when she stood on a pedestal, wearing clothes custom-tailored for her body. Andrea held her breath as she waited for Miranda to emerge from behind the screen.
"Alicia?" Miranda called.
The young woman quickly ran to see what Miranda needed. Several minutes later, Miranda stepped out, followed by Alicia, who was cringing.
"Ah, Miranda," Valentino called as he entered the room. "My dear, you look stunning," he said, stepping over and air-kissing the editor. "Now, step up and let's make any final adjustments," he said, taking her hand.
As Miranda lifted one leg, three gasps echoed throughout the room. Riiiiiiiippp! Andrea watched as horror, embarrassment, and rage flitted across Miranda's face. She could see in the tri-fold mirror that the seam had split along the side of the gown.
Thankfully, Alicia quickly jumped in and broke the silence. "I am so incredibly sorry. This is all my fault. This is a hand-sewn seam we intentionally left unfinished, but I should have secured it somehow before you stepped into the dress," she said. She had been working for Valentino for nearly ten years, and in that time, she had learned the ins and outs of handling Miranda Priestly.
Miranda lifted her hand to silence the young woman, quickly turning and heading back behind the dressing screen. Valentino began animatedly speaking to Alicia in Italian before storming away.
"Sorry," Andrea mouthed to Alicia with a shrug as she quickly texted Roy that they would be down in two minutes.
When Miranda reemerged with her jacket and bag, she exchanged a silent look with Valentino who was standing in the stairway. The designer nodded, and Miranda headed out the door, Andrea close at her heels.
"Roy, take me home," she said as she slipped into the backseat of the town car. "Andrea," she said quietly, "see if James still has that lovely dress with the well-placed bow."
Andrea nodded and quickly typed out an email to James and his assistant, marking it urgent since Miranda would need the dress within twenty-four hours. Also, after the way the fitting went today, Andrea added a note that the dress would need to be closer to a size six in the midsection.
Miranda leaned back against the headrest and closed her eyes, crossing her arms over her body. "Also, perhaps you can bring a few additional pants and skirts when you deliver the Book this eveningone size up, but discreetly, please."
"Of course, Miranda," she said, quickly thinking that she had most of the size six items from the closet back at her apartment. "And don't worry, everyone will think I'm just taking them for myself," she added, giggling nervously.
After several minutes of uncomfortable silence, Andrea spoke up again. "Um," Andrea said, "I'm sorry for asking, but is everything okay? I mean, are you feeling better? You know, from MondayCaroline's stomach bug?"
Miranda sighed, removing her sunglasses and staring up at the interior ceiling of the vehicle. "I don't know. A few weeks ago I thought it was a cold, then I thought maybe it was stress from Paris preparations, then maybe Caroline's virus, or even menopause, but," she said. She pursed her lips and began to fan herself with the lapel of her jacket. "I just don't know what to do. I feel like I'm either feverish or nauseous all the timelike I'm getting seasick or something. I have no appetite, but yet I need a larger sizeI almost feel swollen or something." She kept her eyes closed while she took several deep breaths.
Andrea was surprised at the sudden turn of conversation. Miranda Priestly does not explain. Anything. Ever. She didn't want to aggravate the woman further, so she silently nodded and opened the window a bit on her side. Miranda inhaled sharply and opened her eyes.
"Fresh air okay?" she asked
Miranda nodded as she resumed fanning herself.
"Let's get your jacket off," Andrea said. She was surprised at her own boldnesseven using the first person plural.
Miranda sat forward in the seat and allowed Andrea to help pull it off her shoulders. Andrea carefully folded the Burberry trench and set it on her lap, watching as Miranda was focusing on breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth.
The town car jolted as Roy began driving through a bumpy patch of road that was in the process of being resurfaced. Andrea watched as Miranda pressed the back of her hand to her lips, trying to swallow between the spasming of the muscles in her abdomen.
"Roy, pull over NOW!" Andrea called.
He obeyed immediately, and Miranda reached up to push the door open, leaning out and retching into the curb. Andrea hesitated before placing her hand on the woman's back, softly rubbing circles as she felt the muscles tensing beneath her. With her other hand, she took a few tissues from her bag.
After several minutes, Miranda took a deep breath and sat up, looking as if she was trying to decide if we could continue moving or not. Andrea handed her the tissues, but she shook her head and held her hand up for a split second before the retching resumed. Again, she leaned out the door, her abdominal muscles contracting so sharply that she fell to her knees in the backseat as she expelled what little was in her stomach to begin with.
Finally, Miranda leaned back, sitting on her legs and resting her head on the seat. Andrea reached over and shut the door, directing Roy to take them to the townhouse as quickly and smoothly as possible, all while she continued to trace soothing circles over Miranda's back.
Miranda finally lifted her head and pressed her palms to the seat, but Andrea could see that she was lacking the strength to pull herself up. Moving closer, she slipped her hands underneath Miranda's arms. "On threeone, two, three," she said, gently lifting her up. Miranda slumped against the seat, and Andrea again handed her the tissues. She slowly wiped her chin before looking over at Andrea, her blue eyes teary and red.
"I'm sorry you had to see this," Miranda said.
"Please, don't worry about that," Andrea said. "It will be at least ten minutes until we're home, so why don't you lie down?" She patted Miranda's coat laid it across her lap.
She shook her head, "I can't"
"Please. I'm sure you would feel better. If you prefer, I will go sit up front with Roy so you can have the backseat to yourself."
Miranda rolled her eyes and leaned over, lightly resting her head on Andrea's lap. "Thank you," she said quietly.
Andrea gently set her hand on Miranda's shoulder. "Is this okay?"
"Mm-hmm," Miranda murmured.
"We're home," Andrea said, gently brushing Miranda's arm.
Miranda groaned and pushed herself up into a sitting position as Andrea fished the house key from her bag. The car came to a stop, and when she turned to look at the editor, her hand was clasped against her mouth again.
Andrea quickly ran up the stairs with Miranda's things and set them on the floor in the foyer. She ran back down and met Roy who was slowly helping Miranda out of the car. She could see that Miranda's muscle contractions were making it extremely difficult to walk.
"Can you carry her?" Andrea asked impatiently. He nodded and swiftly lifted the editor up, carrying her into the house. Miranda pointed to the first-floor bathroom, and Roy set her down, where she collapsed to her knees in front of the toilet. "I'll call if I need you again," Andrea said as Roy headed back to the car with a worried look on his face.
Andrea turned her attention back to Miranda, who was resting her head on the toilet seat as her retching slowed. She was visibly fatigued. She reached up for a piece of toilet tissue and wiped her mouth, tossing it into the bowl and pressing the flush lever.
"Go back to work, Andrea," she said.
"II can't leave you like this," Andrea said. She took a washcloth from the cabinet and ran it under cool water, wringing out any excess moisture. Kneeling next to Miranda, she handed her the cool cloth. Miranda held it against her forehead, handing it back to Andrea when it was no longer cool. Repeating the process, Miranda pressed the cool cloth to the back of her neck.
"Miranda, how long has this been going on?" Andrea asked.
Miranda responded with a weak glare.
"Please. If you absolutely insist, I will leave you here, but I'm very worried about you right now," Andrea said.
"Why?" she asked, her voice hoarse like it was Monday afternoon.
"Because I care about you? I want you to be healthy and not in any pain. And," she added, "I know you're too proud to ask for help. How long?"
Miranda sighed in defeat as tears streamed down her face. She couldn't argue with the young woman. "The past few weeks, I guess," she said.
"What?! I'm calling your doctor," Andrea said.
"No. Wait," she said. "I'll go Friday after the gala."
"If I call now, they can call-in a prescription for anti-nausea medication right away," Andrea said. "And then you can follow-up with an exam."
Andrea sighed. "Fine. Come on. At least you'll be more comfortable in bed," she said. She reached out her hand, and to her surprise, Miranda took it, pulling herself to her feet. She gently wrapped her arm around Miranda's waist as she walked her upstairs to her bedroom. Miranda crawled on top of her bed, groaning as she clutched her pillow tightly.
"What else can I get you? Water? Tea? Crackers?"
"Ginger ale," Miranda said.
Andrea quickly nodded, and thankfully she found several bottles downstairs in Miranda's fridge. Knowing Miranda needed to stay hydrated, she also brought a bottle of still water and some saltines upstairs, along with Miranda's cell phone. She set the items on Miranda's bedside table before hovering near the edge of the bed.
"I'll schedule your appointment for first thing Friday morning. What else can I do?" she asked, softly brushing her fingers along Miranda's arm.
"Just get me that dress for tomorrow night and don't say a word to anyone," she said. "That's all."
Andrea smiled and nodded. "Try and get some rest. I'll be back later this evening with the Book and some other items. Can I come up and check on you then?" Andrea asked. She knew that she was supposed to appear invisible when she was delivering the Book, but she needed to know Miranda was okay.
"That'll be fine."
Several hours later, Andrea was in a taxi, on her way back to the townhouse. For some reason, she didn't feel like dealing with Roy again tonight. She had gathered two garment bags of clothingone with some wrap dresses, A-line skirts, and size six pleated-front pants, the other with yoga pants and tanks, leggings, and zip-ups. She gathered a pair of camel Tory Burch flats, as well as a pair of slippers.
She sighed as the taxi came to a stop in front of the town house. All the lights were off and it was pure darkness. Taking a deep breath, she paid the driver, gathered her things and unlocked the door. She reached along the wall and turned on the porch and hall lights before heading upstairs, saying a silent prayer that Miranda was okay. She was still trying to figure out why she cared so much about the other woman.
"Miranda?" she whispered as she carefully stepped into the bedroom. It looked like she was still lying on the bed. Andrea walked into Miranda's closet and hung the garment bags. She walked to the other side of the room and turned on a dim lamp before she set the Book on the dresser and walked over to Miranda's bedside.
"Mmnhnmm," she groaned, quietly turning to her side and draping her arm across her abdomen.
Andrea bit her lip and slowly stepped away. There was no way she would wake the sleeping dragon. Walking to the other side of the expansive bedroom, Andrea sat on the small sofa near the fireplace, kicked off her heels, and muted her phone before making herself comfortable. Hopefully, she could get some rest while Miranda slept.
Nearly two hours later, Andrea woke to the sound of rustling sheets. "Miranda?" she called.
"Andrea? How long have you been here?"
"Not long, just a few minutes," she said, lying as she stood and walked towards Miranda's bedside. Miranda was drinking the Evian water Andrea left on the table. "Are you feeling any better?"
"A little," she said. "It comes and goes. Right now I'm just exhausted."
Andrea wasn't sure why Miranda was so forthcoming with her answers, but surely this was better than silence and glares. "Well, I'm glad you're not any worse. Is there anything else I can bring you before I head home?"
"Did you get the dress?" she asked.
"I spoke with James. I will deliver it here personally tomorrow afternoon before the gala," Andrea said with a smile.
"Butwhat about a fitting?"
"They are adding a corset-style tie closure to the back panel so it can be adjusted to fit."
Miranda nodded. "And?"
"And there are several bags of clothes in your closet, including some loungewear," Andrea said, turning her eyes to Miranda's untucked shirt and obviously unbuttoned trousers.
Miranda blushed. "Well, I suppose that is acceptable," she said.
"And you have an appointment with Dr. Vaughn for 7:30 A.M. Friday."
"Why not Dr. Feinman?" she asked. I didn't mention anything to Andrea about the missed periods, did I?
"Dr. Feinman is currently giving a lecture in Switzerland and will not be returning until the day you leave for Paris," Andrea said. "And I know you refuse to be seen by his partner, Dr. Lukacs, so Dr. Vaughn was the next best alternative, and she can see you on Friday. You did mention it might be, uh, hormone-related right?"
"That's fine," Miranda said, nodding.
"Will you be in the office tomorrow?" she asked.
"Yes. But only for the morning."
"Not a problem. I'll rearrange your schedule accordingly. Is there someone else I can call for you, Miranda? Will your husband or the girls be home tonight or tomorrow?" Andrea asked. Come to think of it, it's been a few months since she'd seen Stephen in the townhouse.
"No," Miranda said. "The girls have been with their father since I've not been feeling well. Stephen iswell, he is no more."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
Miranda took a deep breath and reached for her phone.
"Goodnight, Miranda. Call me if you need anything," she said, quietly exiting the townhouse.
Thursday afternoon, Andrea was frantically trying to gather her own dress and accessories as well as Miranda's. By 6:15 P.M., she was heading up the stairs of the townhouse, two dresses and several bags in tow. Roy needed to head back to the garage and get the limousine before returning at 7 P.M. to pickup Miranda for the party tonight, so Andrea would need to take a cab back to her place to get ready.
Stepping inside, she hung her dress in the closet with the dry cleaning and was about to call out for Miranda until she saw the editor curled up in an oversized chair in the den, fast asleep.
Quietly, Andrea carried Miranda's dress and accessories upstairs, hanging it on the high hook in the closet. She set out the gold and diamond bracelet Miranda was borrowing, then pulled a Judith Leiber clutch and YSL black patent slingback pumps from their respective shelves in the closet, setting them on Miranda's dresser. Before heading back downstairs, she pulled a pair of control-top hose from her bag and set them on the dresser with the other items. Just in case.
Downstairs, Andrea gently brushed Miranda's shoulder. "Miranda, it's 6:15. Your dress and other accessories are upstairs already. Roy will be here to pick you up in 45 minutes."
Miranda sat up slowly. "Is the dress okay?"
"It's perfect. Do you need anything before I go?" Andrea asked impatiently as minutes ticked by.
"I don't think so. I was just going to head upstairs."
"Okay. I'm sorry to rush out like this, but if I'm going to be at Lincoln Center by 7:10, I really need to get changed," she said, grabbing her items from where she left them in the hall closet.
"Waitare you going back to Runway? Or your apartment?"
Andrea glanced at the clock. There was no way she'd have time go get back to her apartment. "Uh, I guess Runway. Or maybe I can use the bathroom at Lincoln Center ?"
"Nonsense. Just get ready here and you can ride with me," Miranda said as she stood and walked to the stairs.
"Are you sure?" Andrea asked. Her feet were frozen in the foyer. Shit. Of course Miranda was sure or she wouldn't have said it.
Miranda rolled her eyes. "Follow me before I change my mind. The guest room over there should have anything you need."
Andrea followed her up the stairs, carrying her garment bag, purse, and Runway tote. She was shocked that Miranda permittedlet alone suggestedthey ride together. Miranda never arrived with anyone to these events except maybe, on occasion, Stephen. She decided she would get ready as quickly as possible and try to take a cab over.
"Andrea?" Miranda called.
"Yes?" Receiving no reply, Andrea opened bedroom door and walked across the hall to Miranda's room. "Yes, Miranda?" she repeated, standing in the doorway. The editor was facing the dresser, holding the control-top Spanx nylons.
"What are these?" she asked.
"Um, I thought maybe you would be more comfortable with those, since, well I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking," she said.
Miranda turned around. "It's not that, I just" she paused as her eyes raked over Andrea's body.
Andrea quickly brought her hand up to cover her chest. She was barefoot. Her pencil skirt was unzipped, hanging precariously on the soft swell of her hip. Her breasts were clad in a very lacy, very sheer La Perla nude bra. "Sorry," she said, blushing and looking down. "I dropped everything and ran in here."
Miranda shook her head and refocused her attention on the package in her hands. "You have nothing to apologize foror to hide. I was simply not expecting to see quite so much of you."
Andrea bit her lower lip. "So, back to the Spanxplease don't take it the wrong way. I figured it couldn't hurt to have an extra pair in case something happened."
Miranda took a deep breath, completely forgetting what her concern was in the first place. "Yes," she said. "That's all."
Andrea nodded and quickly hurried back into the guest room. She dressed and reapplied her makeup as best she could with the items she had.
"I'm going to wait downstairs," Andrea said.
"Waityou need to tie this," Miranda said.
Andrea set her bag down and stood in the doorframe. Miranda looked stunning in redof course she was always gorgeous, but tonight she was looking take-your-breath-away beautiful.
"Does this lookwell, does it look okay?" Miranda asked, shyly turning her face away.
"Of course. My god, you look amazing!" Andrea said. How could she even ask that?
"Are you already ready to go?"
"You need lipstick," Miranda said.
"I didn't bring all my makeup with meall I have is Blistex."
"Tie me up, and then I'll give you something," Miranda said, turning her back to Andrea.
She stepped closer and set her hands on Miranda's hips. "Uh, stand up straight," Andrea said. She slid her hands up to the top of the fabric, smoothing it out before she began working her way down, tightening and straightening the red ribbon. "Take a deep breath," she said. Miranda obeyed. "Okay, I'm just going to loosen this one a tiny bit, and then it's set."
Miranda turned to inspect the final product and gave a slight nod of approval. She reached out and took Andrea's wrist. "Come here," she said, tugging her into the bathroom. "Sit," she said with a smile on her face. "My turn."
Andrea dutifully sat on the small padded stool in front of the mirror in disbelief. Miranda sifted through several clear acrylic drawers of brushes and tubes of various products before selecting a sleek gold tube connected to a small round black vial.
"May I?" she asked, holding it up. "It's Guerlain liquid eyeliner. It's brand new, I promise."
Andrea nodded and closed her eyes. I thought she said I needed lipstick. Miranda softly placed her finger beneath Andrea's chin as she steadied her hand, applying two perfect strokes to each of her eyes, creating a stunning look.
"Open your eyes," she said, stepping back.
"Wow," Andrea said. "That really made a difference. Thank you."
"Here, take it," Miranda said, handing her the eyeliner. "I hardly ever wear black eyeliner, and your eyes are this product is made for eyes like yours."
"Thank you," she said quietly.
Miranda turned again to her makeup drawers, digging for the perfect shade of Lancome red lipstick. "Here, this should complete the look," she said as she twisted the tube, revealing a small stub of well-loved, bold red lipstick. Miranda made no such promise that this product was new. As she gently dabbed the color on her lips, Andrea closed her eyes.
Next, Miranda pulled out a clear gloss and applied it to her fingertip, gently working it into the young woman's soft lips. Andrea nearly moaned as the editor's finger slowly traced her lips. She took a deep breath, focusing each and every thought on keeping her tongue inside her mouth. When Miranda's fingers left her lips, Andrea opened her eyes and looked up at Miranda. Neither of them blinked.
"You, too, look amazing tonight," Miranda said quietly as she wiped the excess gloss off of her finger with a tissue. "I'll meet you downstairs in two minutes," she said.
"Of course," Andrea replied, stepping out of the bathroom and shutting the door. "Is there anything else you need before we leave?" she said.
"No, I'm fine," Miranda said as she managed to take a few deep breaths, settling her rather unexpected arousal. It was just her assistant. She's spent years adjusting models' makeup, and this was no different. No, not at all.
Downstairs, she selected an exquisite faux fur evening jacket for herself and silently handed Andrea a black satin wrap.
"May I leave my bags here or should I have Roy take them back to my apartment?" Andrea asked.
"Here is fine," Miranda said, gesturing towards the chair in the living room. "I would prefer Roy to be available tonight if needed," she added before stepping out the door.
They rode in silence most of the way to Lincoln Center. Andrea sensed Miranda was a little nervous, but she wasn't sure how to reassure her without being too obvious. As the car approached the entrance, Andrea turned to Miranda. "If you start to feel sick tonight or anything"
"Stop. I can't think" Miranda said.
Andrea , and when Roy pulled to a stop, she jumped out of the car and made her way towards the top of the stairs, trying to avoid being photographed with the editor. Once Miranda met her at the entrance, she was in full-on assistant mode, falling in step just behind Miranda, taking a slight detour to the coat check with their wraps.
Andrea watched as Miranda casually chatted with Irv's wife, accepting a glass of champagne from the waiter when he passed, though it seemed she wasn't planning to drink it. Miranda practically floated through the room tonight. Of course, being a holiday party, she was not the only woman dressed in red, but she was certainly the most stunning. Andrea even heard others whispering about how amazing she looked.
She followed her around for at least thirty minutes. As she passed by the bar, she grabbed a glass of ice water with lemon and approached Miranda who was surprisingly standing alone against the wall, caught in a rare moment of silence.
Andrea offered the glass of water, and Miranda took a few sips before silently handing it back. A server began to approach them with a tray of some sort of salmon hors d'oeuvre and she quickly waved him off. Miranda never ate at these functions, which meant, neither could she.
Looking back over at Miranda, she quickly recognized her pressing the back of her hand against her mouth. Andrea's eyes widened as Miranda turned to face the wall. "The fish?" Andrea whispered. Miranda nodded and began to lean over as the retching continued.
She quickly took Miranda by the elbow and ranas quickly as possible without being noticeddown a corridor where she knew a semi-private bathroom was located. Thankfully, it was unlocked, and Miranda ran inside, lunging for the sink. The bathroom was small, designed for wheelchair access. There was a sink, a large stall, and an awkward empty area with a small bench along the wall. Andrea locked the door so others would not enter.
Once Miranda's retching subsided, Andrea stepped closer. Miranda was clutching the vanity, her head hanging over the sink. Andrea turned on the faucet and ran water through the basin. Then, she dampened a paper towel and held it out.
Miranda looked up and took the offered towel, wiping her mouth and her left hand as she looked into the mirror. Her eyes were red and puffy, and her eye makeup was running from the tears that came with vomiting. She stepped away from the sink as she tossed the towel into the trash bin.
"I need to sit down," she said softly.
Andrea motioned towards the small bench in the other room. Seeing Miranda sway as she began walking, Andrea slipped her arm around the woman's waist and slowly led her to the seat.
"Try to relax," Andrea said.
Miranda nodded and closed her eyes as she slouched against the corner. She was clearly trying to control her breathing.
"I've locked the door so no one will disturb you. Whenever you're ready to leave, Roy is waiting."
"Not yet," she said, biting her upper lip and readjusting her position on the bench. Andrea could see her abdominal muscles contracting beneath the fabric of the dress.
"Will it help to lay down?"
She shrugged, turning and easing herself onto her back.
Several minutes later, it seemed as if the nausea subsided. "Can I get you anything right now?" Andrea asked.
"Our coats. I'm ready. See if there's a side exit, as I prefer not to walk through the main ballroom again."
"Not a problem. You might want to lock the door again once I step out."
"I'll take the chance. I don't want to move."
Andrea nodded and practically sprinted to the coat check. Less than five minutes later, she knocked gently before slipping inside the bathroom. Miranda was sitting up, her head hanging down between her legs.
Andrea draped Miranda's jacket around her shoulders. "Unfortunately, there is no side exit. Security cannot disarm the alarms tonight; however, they were kind enough to show me an alternate way to reach the main entrance without walking through the main ballroom. Will that be alright?"
Miranda nodded. Andrea held out her hand, and she took it, struggling to pull herself to her feet. With her other hand, Andrea took Miranda's elbow and helped her stand.
"I--I can't dizzy," she said, blinking several times.
"Stay with me or else I'll have to call an ambulance," Andrea said, knowing that was probably the last thing Miranda wanted right now. "I've got you," she said, wrapping her arm firmly around the editor's waist.
Miranda nodded and actually leaned in towards Andrea a bit. That gave her an idea.
"There's a chance photographers will see us as we exit," Andrea said, "But, what if you just look like you're helping your assistant who's had a bit too much champagne to the car? I can act tipsy, and you can put your arm on my shoulder or whatever to make it look like you're holding me up. Will that work?"
"Fine," she said, "but if any reporters ask any questions, you will no longer be in my employ." Miranda snaked her arm around Andrea's waist.
Andrea cracked a smile. "Got it. Don't attract attention," she said.
"Let's go before I change my mind," Miranda said. Andrea smiled. Miranda was using the first person plural, too.
Andrea opened the door and led them down several hallways until they reached the main entrance. Most of the reporters and paparazzi were off to the side smoking. It was really quite miraculous that no one paid attention to Miranda's exit.
Roy was confused as he opened the door to help the women into the car, until he realized Miranda was leaning heavily on Andrea. He quickly helped them both into the car. Turning to the woman next to her, Andrea saw Miranda leaning forward, struggling to take a deep breath.
"Is the dress pulled too tight?" she asked, gesturing at the corset laces.
"I don't know," Miranda panted.
"Let me loosen it," she said, quickly untying the ribbon and plucking some of the laces. She began softly rubbing soothing circles on her back, not sure of what else she could do. "Would you like to lie down?"
Miranda shook her head and they finished the drive to the townhouse in silence.
At the townhouse, Roy helped Miranda out of the car and up to her bedroom while Andrea carefully hung the wraps in the closet. "Hey Andy, do you want me to stick around? I can give you a ride home," he said.
"Andrea?" Miranda called.
"Uh, not tonight," she said, climbing the stairs. "Looks like I'm stuck here for a while."
"Alright then, goodnight!"
"Don't forget, Roy. She has an appointment at 7:30 A.M. tomorrowbe here by 7:15."
"Andrea?" she called again.
"Coming, coming!" Andrea shouted as she picked up her dress and took the stairs two-by-two. "I'm sorry, I was making sure Roy would be here tomorrow to take you to your appointment," Andrea explained as she reached the doorway of the bedroom. "Is there something I can do?"
"Help me with my dress."
She nodded and stepped closer. Miranda was facing the mirror, her hands resting on the dresser. Andrea finished untying the ribbon, pulling the laces loose so it would be simple to step out of the dress. "All set," Andrea said, stepping away.
"My robe," Miranda said, gesturing towards the chair in the corner.
Andrea retrieved the robe while Miranda pushed the dress down her body. She unbuckled her strapless bra and let it, too, fall to the floor as she covered her breasts with her arm.
"Here," Andrea said, turning her head away and holding the robe up. Miranda secured it, then stepped out of the dress, bending over slowly to pick it up.
"Get the hanger," she instructed.
Once the dress was hanging, back in its garment bag, Miranda crawled into bed.
"Is there anything else I can do?" Andrea asked.
"No. I don't want you to feel like you're stuck here," Miranda hissed.
Good lord, even when she wasn't feeling well she was still capable of being a bitch. "Miranda, I didn't mean that the way it sounded. I just I can't go around Runway acting like I care about you, like I enjoy spending time with you. Nigel is still teasing me for defending you after the June/July issue planning meeting."
Miranda did not respond right away, as Andrea had just given her plenty to think about. She enjoys spending time with me? She defends me? Others tease her for it?
"I'm sorry, Miranda. I should go," Andrea said quietly, staring down at her feet.
"No," Miranda said. "I mean, you don't have to leave. You are welcome to stay in the guest room if you'd like. I know it's late."
"Thank you, but I need to get home tonight. Roy will be here at 7:15 to pick you up for your appointment. Can I bring you anything else before I gosomething to eat or drink, water, perhaps?"
Miranda shook her head. "I can't eat anything right now. But please, help yourself," she said. "I'm being an awful host. I know you didn't eat lunch or dinner today. At least pour yourself a drink."
"Oh, no," Andrea said. "I couldn't."
"Humor me. There is a good Riesling in the wine cooler, or the Shiraz is excellent, too. Or if you prefer something stronger, there's the cabinet in the den."
Andrea was exhausted, and she knew a drink would only make her sleepy. Curiously she searched Miranda's eyes, only to realize the answer was simple: she wanted company.
She sighed. Her lips curled in a smile. "If you insist, I suppose a glass of wine won't hurt. Shall I bring you a ginger ale?"
Miranda smiled. "Still water with lemon is fine," she said, closing her eyes.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Andrea quickly found and opened the Riesling, letting it breathe for a few moments while she prepared Miranda's water. The fact that Miranda didn't want Andrea to leave was somehow more unsettling than she would have expected. Not only was something going on with Miranda's stomach, but now she seemed to be losing it just a little, entertaining her assistant after hours.
As Andrea walked upstairs, she gave herself a little pep talk. She would not stay the night at Miranda's, no matter what. She would keep her hands to herself until she was out of the house. She would not, under any circumstances, brush the woman's cheek or give her a hug. That would be crossing the line, and Andrea wasn't sure she would ever find her way back.
Back in Miranda's bedroom, they actually enjoyed casual conversation as Miranda revealed some gossip about one of the senators who she had seen at the party. Apparently, everyone in New York was hiding something.
"Wow, very interesting," Andrea said, sipping her wine. "I had no idea."
"Well, why would you? No one does. That's why it's interesting," Miranda said with a smile. "Tell me something about yourself, Andrea. Something I wouldn't necessarily know or be able to find out easily."
Andrea's eyes widened. That I think I'm falling in love with you? "Oh no, I don't want to bore you," she said.
"No, tell me something. I've certainly revealed enough this week. You owe me," she added, a wicked gleam in her eye.
Andrea gulped. She didn't want to think of the implications of being in debt to Miranda Priestly. "Well, uh, I grew up in Ohio."
"Nope, I knew that. Tell me something interestingsomething no one else knows. What do you dream about? What keeps you up at night?"
You, you. Always you. "Uh, I should be going."
"Of course," Miranda snapped. "I've kept youyou were stuck here too long."
"Fine," Andrea said, tossing her hands up. She could not believe how immature Miranda was acting with this pouting. "Here's something for you. There's this guy, Nate. We've been dating on and off for the past four years. We've been living together since I've been in New York, but I'm not in love with him. I've known for a while that I didn't want to spend my life with him. Now, I think I'm in love with someone else who I can never have, and Nate is completely clueless," Andrea said, staring down into her empty wine glass. "Juicy enough for you?"
Miranda bit her lip. She certainly wasn't expecting such a confession, but hearing the words from Andrea's lips made her realize that her assistant was, in fact, a young woman who had a life outside of Runway. That was something she could never manage.
"Very interesting," Miranda said, choosing to use Andrea's words to cover her speechlessness. "I would say I'm sorry I kept you from him, but I guess that doesn't matter."
"No, it doesn't."
"So, this someone else," Miranda said, "are you in a relationship with him?"
"Didn't you say one thing?"
"Hmm, I don't remember specifying."
"Fine. Sort of," Andrea said with a sigh. "It's complicated."
"Yes, it always is, isn't it?" Miranda said.
Andrea nodded and stood from the chair. "I really need to go home and get some sleep tonight. As long as you're feeling okay"
"Yes, go. I shouldn't have kept you this long. But" Miranda paused. "Thank you, Andrea. And I promise you this conversation will not leave this room."
"Thank you," she said. "I'll come by and pick up the dress tomorrow morning before work so we can have it dry cleaned. Roy will be here at 7:15 to take you."
Miranda nodded. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Miranda," Andrea said, stepping out of the bedroom and closing the door behind her.
The next morning, Andrea took the subway to the townhouse to pick up Miranda's dress. It was far more efficient to drop the dress of at Holt's studio on her way to the office.
"Roy? Why are you still here?" Andrea asked, seeing Roy standing outside the car.
"She hasn't come out yet. I rang the bell and she said 'just a minute,' but that was about fifteen minutes ago."
"Shit," Andrea said. She rushed up the stairs and fumbled with the lock. Why the hell didn't Roy let himself in? She would deal with Roy later.
As she opened the door, she gasped. Miranda was curled up, on the foyer floor just outside the bathroom.
"Miranda!" she cried, kneeling beside her. She shook Miranda's shoulders, willing her to show some signs of life.
"Andrea...I I can't make it cancel my morning," Miranda said.
"How did you get here? Did you fall?"
"Can you stand up?"
"I'm too tired I just need to sit," she said, her eyes fluttering closed.
Andrea could feel Miranda's pulse and saw her breathing had become rapid and shallow. She quickly dialed Dr. Vaughn's office. "Hi, yes, this is Andrea Sachs. I'm calling on behalf of Miranda Priestly who has an appointment at 7:30 this morning. There's been a changewe will be heading to the emergency room. Is there any way Dr. Vaughn can meet us there?""
"What?" Miranda whispered. "I am not going there."
Andrea covered the mouthpiece on her phone and turned to Miranda. "You're dehydrated. You can't even sit up on your own. You do not get a say in this!" Andrea said. I will not let her see me cry. I will not let her see me cry.
Once the office confirmed the change, Roy carried Miranda to the car and they were on their way to the Emergency Room.
Andrea looked down at Miranda, laying across her lap. She was so pale. She looked so sickly. Her phone rang and she quickly answered, seeing it was the doctor.
"Hi, Andrea? This is Dr. VaughnI'm in the car. My nurse said you're heading to the ER?"
"Yes, Miranda is very weak. She could not walk this morning she's been vomiting a lot...and now she's very pale and weak."
"Andrea, please calm down. She's probably just dehydrated. They can give her fluids in the ER. How is her breathing?"
"Uh, she sounds winded, but she's just lying on the backseat."
"Okay. I will get there as quickly as I can. Do whatever you can to convince her to stay. I'll even call ahead and tell them to give her a sedative if she makes a fuss."
"Thank you," Andrea said, hanging up.
When Roy pulled into the ambulance bay, Andrea was surprised to see three EMTs rush over to the car with a gurney. By the time she stepped out of the car, they were pushing Miranda inside.
Once they checked her vitals, they moved her to a private room for further examination. A phlebotomist came in and drew several vials of blood, then started her on IV fluids. Andrea spoke to the nurse for several minutes, trying to speed up the intake process by providing him with as much of Miranda's medical history as she could.
"Okay, Miranda," the nurse said. "A few questions for you."
Andrea watched as Miranda slowly opened her eyes, taking in her surroundings. Seeing a look of panic dart across her face, Andrea quickly moved to her bedside and adjusted the bed so she was sitting up. Their eyes locked and Miranda reached over, clutching her assistant's hand.
"Hey. You're in the hospital. You were severely dehydrated this morning. Dr. Vaughn is going to conduct your appointment here shortlythe nurse needs to ask you a few things," Andrea said, squeezing her hand before letting go and stepping back.
Miranda nodded, and the nurse proceeded. "Have you consumed any controlled substances in the past forty-eight hours?"
"Have you recently been out of the country to South America, Africa, or New Zealand?"
"NO." It was clear that Miranda was growing more and more irritated by the line of questioning. Andrea hoped the nurse would finish quickly.
"Are you currently pregnant?"
A sharp silence filled the air. "NO. Of course not, I am fifty-one years old!"
"Okay, that's it. A doctor should be in shortly. Just try and rest for a while," the nurse said before leaving the room.
Andrea quickly followed the nurse into the hall. "Hey, uh, about that last question. I mean I don't know for certain, but the symptoms all kind of make sense. She's been vomiting for weeks, and she's really tired, and even though she's not eating, she's gained a size."
"Okay, I made a note in the chart" the nurse said, scribbling something down. "We will likely have to perform a quick urine test anyway if we need to do any imaging, but thanks for the heads-up."
Andrea nodded. "Oh, can Miranda have some coffee or water?"
"Ice chips until we know more. Here," he said, handing Andrea a mauve plastic cup of ice.
She rolled her eyes and re-entered Miranda's room. "I tried to get you some water but they say only ice chips for now," she said, shrugging as she set the cup on the bedside table.
"Andrea, honestly, I'm feeling much better now. I need to get to work," Miranda said.
"Please. Just let Dr. Vaughn check you out," Andrea begged. "For me?"
Miranda took a deep breath and nodded. "Fine. But I am going back to the office this afternoon. We leave for Paris next week and I cannot afford to fall behind."
"I understand," Andrea said.
Several minutes later, Dr. Vaughn walked in. "Miranda, it's nice to see you again. What has been bothering you?"
Andrea smiled to herself. Of course Miranda's doctor would know better than to make small talk.
"I'm sure it's nothing, really," Miranda said. "My daughter had a stomach virus a few weeks ago, and I just think I've managed to catch it."
"What kind of symptoms have you been having? I see heredehydrated, dizzy, tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, fatigue," she said, reading the notes from the chart. "How many hours would you say that has lasted?"
"It comes and goes, never really lasting for more than an hour."
"Weeks," Andrea added. "It's been on and off for weeks."
"Andrea, I don't recall asking you," Miranda said.
"I'm going to wait outside," Andrea said, quickly heading out of the room. She needed to distance herself and keep her rising emotions at bay.
Minutes later, Dr. Vaughn stepped out of the room. "Andrea?"
"Hi. Sorry about before. I know how she can be," Dr. Vaughn said. "She told me how you dragged her here. In all the years I've known her, I have never once seen anyone tell her what to do. You're quite something," she said.
"Well, I was just being rational. She was unhealthy," Andrea said. "Did you get her tests back?"
"Yes. I went over some of them with herlow iron and vitamin B, elevated WBCall things consistent with vomiting. And pregnancy."
Andrea's eyes widened. "She's pregnant?"
Dr. Vaughn nodded. "I didn't tell her yet. I want to do an ultrasound to confirm. I want you to be in the roomI think it's important she is not alone."
"Okay," Andrea said. "Thank you." Taking a deep breath, Andrea pushed the door open and sat down at Miranda's bedside.
"I thought you didn't want to wait here," Miranda said.
"I never said that," Andrea said, smiling. "Did Dr. Vaughn say anything about that virus?"
"No. All the tests weren't back yet. She wants to do an ultrasound to check my stomach I guess," Miranda said.
Just then, Dr. Vaughn returned with the machine and the nurse began setting it up. "Miranda, we're seeing some elevated hormone levels that are not consistent with menopause, so, as I mentioned, I just want to check a few things out before we decide on a course of treatment. Can you untuck your blouse and pull your skirt down a bit?" she asked.
Miranda nodded and exposed her abdomen turning to look away as the doctor applied some gel to her lower abdomen and began moving the device across her body.
"I'm very glad you came in this morning," Dr. Vaughn continued. "As I said before, you are extremely dehydrated, but once we get through these fluids and plasma, you should start feeling much better and less fatigued. I'm diagnosing you with a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which more or less refers to excessive vomiting. As far as the cause, why don't you look here on screen," she said.
Miranda disinterestedly turned her head to look at the ultrasound monitor and gasped. She looked up at Dr. Vaughn. "That's notI'm notI can't be" she stammered.
"Congratulations, Miranda," Dr. Vaughn said. "You're pregnant."
"P-Pregnant?" Miranda said. "How"
"This explains the unusual hormone levels I was seeing in your bloodworkbased on the tests today, you're ten weeks along. I'd like to see you for a check-up in my office next week, and we can go over more then. In the meantime, get as much rest as you can. I want you on bed rest for the next three days, and if possible, Monday as well."
"I can'tI'm leaving for Paris on Wednesday. There's so much I need to do"
"Miranda, let me make this clear. You are a high risk pregnancy. You're over fifty, you have a stressful job, you are petite, and as of this morning, undernourished. Regardless of what you decide for this baby, a pregnancy can be potentially life-threatening for you, too."
Miranda closed her eyes and laid her head back on the pillow. "Dr. Vaughn?" Andrea said. "Can she travel to Paris next week if we have adequate rest and nourishment built into her schedule? She will follow up with you immediately upon her return, and perhaps you can refer us to a doctor in Paris if there are any emergencies," Andrea said.
The doctor sighed and sat on the edge of the hospital bed. "I can't keep you from going, Miranda, but, if you do, please take your assistant's advice and rest. I cannot stress that enough. Now, I don't typically get into the numbers, but you're looking at something like 1 in 3 odds of a successful pregnancy, even smaller chance of carrying to full term. I don't want to see you in the E.R. again," she said.
Miranda swallowed and took a deep breath. "Thank you. Wh-when can I go home today?"
"I'll sign the discharge papers now, so you can go as soon as you finish this last bag of fluids," she said. "Take care of yourself, Miranda. Call my office if you need anything." Dr. Vaughn quickly signed the chart and left the room.
"I will wait outside," Andrea said quietly, avoiding eye contact with Miranda as she gathered her things.
"No," Miranda said. "Stay, please?"
Andrea set her bag and coat back on the chair and stepped closer to the bed. "Do you promise to start taking care of yourself?" she asked.
"Yes," she said, reaching out for Andrea's hand and squeezing tightly.
Andrea reached over to the bedside table and handed Miranda some tissues to wipe the gel off her abdomen. "Why don't you get cleaned upI'll call the office and have Emily make arrangements for you to work from home through Monday," she said.
"And then there's the Paris schedule," Miranda added, taking the offered tissues.
"Emily will deal with that. Don't worry about it, okay? Everything's going to be fine," Andrea said.
Miranda's lip was trembling, and Andrea could tell she was about to start crying.
"Come here," Andrea said, wrapping her arms tightly around her shoulders. "I know this is a lot, and you're probably a little scared. It's going to be okay," she reassured as she felt Miranda's grip on her tighten. "You're not alone in this. I'm hereI will be here as long as you'd like."
Miranda nodded and pulled away from their embrace, wiping her eyes. "Call Emily and tell her we won't be in the office until Tuesday. See if Cara can pick up some food at the marketyou know what I like. See when the girls are free this weekendI'd like to see them before I leave. And tell Roy to be ready in fifteen minutes," she added.
Andrea smiled, relief outweighing the disappointment that Miranda had ended their embrace. Miranda the editor she could deal with; Miranda the emotional woman was dangerous territory.
Back at the townhouse, Miranda went upstairs to bed without protest while Andrea prepared some hot tea and light snack in the kitchen. Upstairs, Miranda changed into more comfortable clothes and was adjusting the pillows against the headboard when Andrea walked in.
"I brought you some green tea and a snack. Cara will be by later with some groceries," she said as she set the tray down on the coffee table.
Miranda took a seat on the small couch and gestured for Andrea to join her. "What's that?" she asked, pointing at the medication bottles in the corner of the tray.
"Your prescriptions. Dr. Vaughn gave you two types of anti-nausea drugs, Zofran and Reglan, as well as some daily prenatal vitamins. Her nurse said you shouldn't need another dose until later this evening."
Miranda nodded and quietly sipped her tea. "Andrea, thank you, once again. You have been so calm and intelligent and professionalI don't really know if I can ever thank you enough."
Andrea was again shocked by Miranda's candid feedback. "Please, I'm happy to help, and I will continue to help if you need me."
"Andrea," Miranda said, holding her hand up to silence the young woman. "Go home. Get some rest. I will be fine," she said.
"So, you don't want me to go back to the office?"
Miranda sighed and rolled her eyes, "Honestly, Andrea, one compliment and you let it go to your head. You do recall how I love repeating myself, do you not?"
Andrea froze when Miranda began talking, but by the time she was finished, Andrea saw the smirk threatening as her upper lip quivered. "You do realize," Andrea leaned forward and whispered, "that it would have been much easier to simply say 'yes,' right?"
She turned to Andrea with her icy glare, but when Andrea returned the look, Miranda snorted and quickly brought her hand up to cover her mouth in attempts to control her laughter.
Andrea smiled and gathered her things. "You know," Andrea said as Miranda caught her breath, "it's really nice to see you laugh, Mirandaand not just because you scared me half to death this morning, but you know, it's just nice to see you happy."
Miranda smiled. She didn't quite know how to respond to the young woman's comment.
"I will be in the office first thing Monday morning," Andrea said as she stepped out. "Call me if you need absolutely anything."
Miranda nodded and waved as Andrea left the room.
The next few days were not as stressful as Andrea imagined, though she found herself nervously pacing her apartment, wondering how Miranda was doing. On Sunday, she went into the office to catch up on some emails and help rearrange the Paris schedule. She managed to schedule a two-hour break every afternoon for Miranda, and declined all but one after-party invitation, explaining that Nigel would be attending in her place.
On her way home, Andrea thought she would check-in on Miranda. That way, if she needed to stop at the townhouse, it was on her way. Pulling out her phone, she pressed the first name in her speed dial.
"Hello?" she answered after several rings.
"Hi Miranda, I just wanted to see if you needed anything while I was out," Andrea said. "How has your day been?"
"I've had better," she said.
"Oh no, what's wrong? Would you like me to stop by?"
"No, it's out of your way," Miranda said.
Something wasn't right. "No, I was running some errands this morning, so I'm really just a few blocks away," Andrea said. "I'll be right overdo you want me to bring anything?"
"Can you stop at the drugstore and get some Benadryl? Dr. Vaughn said it might work better," she said.
"Of course, I'll be there in less than twenty minutes," Andrea said, quickly hanging up the phone. She mentally cursed herself for waiting so long to check on Miranda. Apparently her prescription medication wasn't working.
When Andrea arrived at the townhouse, she went straight up to Miranda's room. "Hey," she said, gently knocking on the door.
Miranda lifted her head, then pulled herself up from her position in the center of the bed. Andrea thought she looked like hell, but she certainly wasn't going to say anything.
"When was the last time you took anything?" Andrea asked.
"First thing this morning. I should probably start taking this before I go to bed," she said.
"Maybe. Here," she said, opening the package and handing Miranda a capsule. She walked to the coffee table and retrieved a glass of water. "Benadryl will probably make you tired," Andrea said. She stepped closer and sat on the edge of the bed.
Miranda leaned back against the pillows. "I'm glad you called and came by today," she said. "Who would have thought I would appreciate company? I was never a people person."
Andrea smiled, "Miranda, you're still not a people person."
After several minutes of silence passed, Miranda spoke. "You can come sit up here, you know. I won't bite," she said, gesturing towards the pillows next to her.
Andrea climbed off the bed and walked around to the other side, situating herself against the headboard.
"Those jeans look good on you," Miranda said. "Why haven't I seen you in them before?"
"Uh, thank you. We don't typically see each other outside of work, I guess," she said.
Andrea smiled and leaned back into the pillows. Even with her one-word answers, she couldn't help but enjoy the editor's company, too. "Can I ask you a question?" Andrea said. "You don't have to answer, it's kind of personal "
"Well, are you going to ask me?" Miranda said.
Andrea rolled her eyes. "Are you going to tell Stephen?"
Several minutes passed in silence. Andrea was wondering if Miranda had even heard the question, or if she was just waiting for her to change the subject. Just as she was about to say something else, Miranda spoke.
"I haven't decided."
"Oh, well, I suppose you have time," Andrea said.
"Yes," Miranda said with a sigh. "I haven't seen him since the morning after the Met Gala."
Andrea did the math in her head. That was about two or three months back, so "Oh," she said, realizing what Miranda was talking about. "Dodo you want to talk about it?" Andrea asked.
"You saw how intoxicated he was that night. He simply reeked of cheap bourbon. When we got home, I made him shower in the guest room. I was taking my jewelry off when he came back to the bedroom. He seemed like he had sobered uphe even apologized and said he would try to make amends with Irv on the golf course before winter. I believed him," Miranda said.
"I believed him when he told me he loved meit was the first time he'd said that in at least two years. I had a change of heart. I asked him to make love to me that night. Oh god, how could I have been so stupid?" she said.
Andrea reached over and grabbed Miranda's hand, gently stroking her thumb along the back, silently urging her to continue.
"It was really quite nice until he called out some other woman's name. Kathy. I felt so used," she said. Andrea squeezed her hand tightly. "The next morning before I came into the office, I told him he needed to move out, and I haven't seen him since."
"I'm sorry. I didn't intend to bring all that up," Andrea said quietly.
"It's okay," Miranda said with a shrug. "It's funny, but I was actually considering trying to have another baby. The girls have always wanted a younger sibling, and for a while things with Stephen were pretty good. But then I hit fifty and figured I was too old. I stopped keeping track of my period and just Now, this."
"How was your pregnancy with the girls?" Andrea asked, trying to steer the conversation away from Stephen.
"It was great. Nothing like this. I did put on a lot of weight, but fifteen years ago pregnant women were just treated like beached whales anyway. No one expected us to work. People thought I was crazy for working through my second trimester. Now, I feel like I've had the flu for two months and I will be expected to work until my due date," she said.
Andrea opened her mouth to speak but stopped when Miranda gasped and pulled her hand away, turning to her side. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing. Just my back," she said. "I think I need to get up and stretch a bit."
"Can I make you something for lunch? Or is there anything else?" Andrea asked.
"Andrea, I need you to come with us to Paris," she said quietly.
"What? Are you serious? Iyou leave in three days. What about Emily?" Andrea said.
"What about her? I need you both there. Book your ticket on my account if you have to. I just " her voice trailed off as she walked over to the window. "I need you there with me, not Emily."
Andrea's heart swelled at the emotion behind Miranda's words. "Okay," Andrea said. "Okay, I will be there. I'll handle it." She started walking out of the room, but paused in the doorway. "Will you be in the office tomorrow?" Andrea asked.
"I will work from my study, and then I will be in for a few hours Tuesday afternoon should anything urgent come up," Miranda said.
"Okay. I can arrange for your trainer to come by the house tomorrow if you'd like," Andrea suggested.
"That will be fine."
Andrea nodded and left the townhouse more confused than when she entered. Miranda needing a hug when she found out she was pregnant was one thing. Miranda inviting her up on the bed, talking about her sex life, and then saying she needed her with her in Paristhat was something totally different. And Andrea couldn't help but smile because she liked different.
"How are you feeling todayis your back any better?" Andrea said. It was Tuesday afternoon and Andrea hadn't seen Miranda since she left the townhouse on Sunday.
Miranda turned around in her chair. "Fine, really. I've been laying with a heating pad in the evenings for a little bit and that seems to help. I took a Zofran this morning and will take another in an hour or so. You'll be happy to know I have already drank two bottles of water today, as well. I just can't keep my eyes open right now," she said.
Andrea smiled, glad she made the decision earlier to clear Miranda's schedule. "Why don't you lie down for twenty minutes and take a nap?"
Miranda arched her eyebrow and looked up at Andrea, considering the suggestion. "But I just got in the office less than an hour ago," she said.
"You have nothing scheduled. I'll step out and say you're on a conference call or something," she added. "You need your rest," Andrea urged.
"I suppose," Miranda said, standing up from her chair. "But come interrupt me if there is anything I need to know about," she added, heading over to the couch.
"Of course," Andrea said smiling. "Sleep well," she added with a wink before stepping back into the office and closing the door behind her.
"What now?" Emily asked.
"Uh, someone calledStephen, or maybe James," Andrea said quietly. "She is not to be bothered." Emily nodded and went about her business. Andrea thought about what Miranda said earlierthat she needed her to come to Paris with her. She was curious as to why Miranda needed her: was it because she was afraid to tell anyone else about her pregnancy, or because she didn't want more people than were necessary to see her vulnerable, or was it because Andrea just happened to be an excellent caregiver? More than anything, she hoped Miranda needed her because she felt some sort of connection between them, but she quickly pushed that to the back of her mind, not wanting to get her hopes up for nothing.
Now, she thought, to tell Emily. "Hey Em," Andrea said casually, "so I was talking to Miranda about the next few days and she actually wants me to go to Paris, too." Andrea watched as Emily slowly took in her words, meeting her eyes with a fiery glare. "Yeah, and well, I guess we need to forward the phones."
Emily opened and closed her mouth several times before finding her words. "What makes you so sure that she would suddenly add an additional person to our already maxed-out budget?" Emily hissed.
"Well, she said to put the arrangements on her personal account," Andrea said, biting her lip.
"Oh." Emily said. "Well. Aren't you just the teacher's pet now? You know," she said, chuckling, "I had that opportunity once, before you started. I could have preyed upon her vulnerability and staked my territory, but instead, I had the ridiculous idea that being the best assistant I could be would earn me higher praise in the long run. I guess this just goes to show that I was insanely stupid for pretending I didn't see her swollen eyes or hear her sobbing in her private bathroom," Emily said.
"Oh gosh, Em, what was wrong with her that she was so upset?" Andrea asked.
"See! There you go, pretending to care about her. I don't know what was wrong with her. I never did ask, and she certainly isn't going to invite me for tea so we can chat about what's new in our personal lives. No, whatever it was, she dealt with it and got over it and didn't have to worry about a thing at work," Emily said proudly. "And because of that, I am going to Paris. I have no clue what you could have possibly done to earn the right to travel with us."
"Em, please don't think of it that way," Andrea said. Emily didn't bother responding, but merely tossed her head the other way. "Fine. You know what, be that way. I'll finish booking my reservations and you can figure out how to forward incoming calls to your mobile phone."
Sighing, Andrea began making calls for a return ticket and accommodations. Sunday night, she was able to book one seat on the flight to Paris with the Runway team, but their return trip was booked solid, as was the hotel. After nearly thirty minutes, she was able to secure a stand-by ticket for her return trip, as well as a room at a hotel that promised to be no more than a fifteen minute walk from Miranda's.
Nigel approached the outer office with a folder in his hand. "Is she in today?" he said.
Emily ignored him completely. "Yes, she had a call, though," she said. "I can let her know you need to see her."
Nigel fixed his gaze carefully upon the brunette before glancing down at the phone. "Her line is free," he said.
Andrea stood from her chair and moved to place herself between him and the door. "Call was on her cell phone," she said.
"What's going on, Six? Have the devil locked up behind that door?" he asked with a grin. "Miranda! Miranda! Come out, come out!" he said, taunting.
Andrea slowly stepped back until she was pressed against the office doors. "Nigel, you need to leave. I will tell her you stopped by," Andrea insisted.
"Miranda! Miranda!" Nigel continued calling, giggling like a schoolboy.
When Miranda swung both doors open, Andrea stumbled backwards, nearly falling over. "Is there a reason you are imitating a hyena, Nigel? Is there some 'bring your child to work day' that I didn't know about? Certainly, my girls would be quite disappointed to learn that they missed out on that," she said dryly.
Emily hid behind the computer screen, and luckily Andrea had her back to Miranda so she couldn't see her laughter.
"Well?" Miranda demanded. "Why were you shouting at my deliberately closed door?"
Nigel took a deep breath. "I need to show you these photos," he said. "We have to change the January spread."
Miranda jerked her head and returned to her chair, motioning for Nigel to follow. Andrea sighed. She was off the hook for that one.
"Oh, and Andrea?" Miranda said, poking her head back outside the office. "I need to see you once I'm finished with Nigel."
Shit. Andrea bit her lip and nodded, saying a silent prayer she hadn't gone too far. When Nigel walked out of the office without so much as a glance at the assistants, Andrea took a deep breath, grabbed her notepad, and stepped inside.
"Call Roy. Have him ready in ten minutes," Miranda said quietly.
"Is" Andrea quickly lowered her voice, realizing the door was still open. "Is everything alright?" she whispered.
"Yes," Miranda said, gathering some papers from her desk. "My back is bothering me again. I think I'll take a nice, hot bath."
"Yyou can't. It's bad for you, the hot water."
Miranda smiled and picked up her bag and gloves. She walked closer to Andrea and softly laid her hand on the young woman's shoulder. "This is not my first time. I know. Somehow, a nice, tepid bath didn't sound as appealing." Miranda softly played with the collar of Andrea's blouse. "I do appreciate your concern, though," she said.
Andrea smiled and nodded, fixing her eyes on the carpet.
"I won't be in tomorrow. It was rather pointless for me to even come in today. Plus, I need to pack. Is everything set for you?" she asked.
"Yes, all set," Andrea said.
"Good," Miranda said. "We return from Paris on December 1. It's James' year to take the girls for the holidays. I was actually thinking about taking a short leave," she said.
"Yes. These past few weeks have been more difficult than I thought."
But don't you want to take the last few months off? Andrea thought.
"We can talk about it later. As I said, I will not be in tomorrow," she said, marching out of the office.
Andrea was speechless. Something about Miranda's casual attitude was unsettling. That, or the fact that she wanted to "talk" about her "leave" later. With Andy.
Before she knew it, she was buckling her seatbelt, preparing for takeoff.
Andrea's seat was not with the others, but she was secretly glad. She had spoken with Dr. Vaughn's nurse the previous day and she had given her the number of an physician in Paris, along with several prescriptions for scopolamine transdermal patches just in case.
Sitting on the plane, the only thing Andrea could think about was Miranda, sitting somewhere ahead of her. She hadn't really seen much of her in the past few days because everyone had been so busy, but then again, she imagined that was probably a good thing because it meant Miranda was doing okay. Sighing, she closed her eyes and tried to get some rest.
She hadn't even fallen asleep yet when Nigel tapped her on the shoulder. "Wakeup, Six," he said.
"Nige, what's wrong?" Andrea said. He was standing in the aisle with his carry-on bag. "Why aren't you up in first class?"
He sighed. "She kicked me out. Something about my cologne making her nauseous," he said. "I always thought she liked Tom Ford! Oh well, just another excuse to buy some Parisian eau de parfum and expense it to my Runway account," he said with a wink. "She wants me to swap seats with yousorry," he added, motioning for Andrea to get her things together.
"Oh! Okay," Andrea said, quickly tossing her items into her bag and standing up.
"Don't look so nervous," Nigel said, "she's usually pretty tame on airplanes. The only time I've ever seen her fall asleep, in fact."
"Thanks, Nige," she said. If he only knew, Andrea thought to herself as she rushed up to the front of the plane, scanning the seats for Miranda's signature silver locks.
That's strange, she thought, looking around. Miranda wasn't up here. Andrea was fairly certain this was a full flight, but there were two open seats in row six. Just then, she saw Miranda step out of the lavatory looking pale as a ghost. She gave Andrea a slight nod before collapsing into her seat by the window.
Andrea quickly took the seat next to her and pulled a scopolamine patch and an alcohol swab out from her bag. "Hold still," she said as she gently pushed Miranda's hair back and swabbed the skin behind her ear. "If there is any sort of lotion or oil on the skin, the patch will be less effective," she quietly explained as she wiped the skin, then proceeded to blow on it to dry it off.
"Ohhhh," Miranda gasped, tightly grasping the armrest. She could feel a flood of moisture between her thighs as Andrea continued to blow on her hypersensitive skin. A shiver ran throughout Miranda's body as Andrea carefully applied the patch to her skin.
"There now," she said, pulling Miranda's hair back in place. "It should start working within twenty minutes. Are you cold?" Miranda nodded, not wanting to reveal the real reason for her shiver. Andrea pulled a soft wrap from her bag and draped it around Miranda's shoulders.
"I'm sorry," Miranda said, tucking her feet underneath her and curling against the window.
"Why?" Andrea said. "Please. Now, that can't be comfortableyou can lay across my lap again if you want."
"Are you sure?" Miranda asked. Andrea nodded and lifted the armrest separating their seats. "This will go away--I just need to lay for a few minutes," she said.
Miranda quickly fell asleep, and Andrea didn't mind. There was nowhere for her to go, so she just leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes, too. Andrea was always able to sleep on an airplane.
Several hours later, the plane hit some unexpected turbulence, jolting everyone awake. Andrea instinctively wrapped her arm around Miranda's waist, keeping her from tumbling out of the seat while the editor reached out and braced herself against the seat back in front of her.
The plane straightened out and Andrea let out the breath she was holding in. "Are you okay?" she asked, looking down at the editor.
Miranda nodded, "Just give me a minute," she said, taking a few deep breaths.
"Oh, sorry!" Andrea said, quickly pulling her hand away from Miranda's midsection, "I justI didn't want you to fall," she said, shaking her head.
"It's alright," Miranda said, reaching up and taking her hand. She held it against her abdomen. It felt good, her assistant's arm around her. Andrea gently grazed her thumb, sending that familiar shiver through Miranda's body.
Miranda sighed, quickly sitting up. "I need to use the bathroom," she said, bending over to retrieve a small makeup case from her bag.
Andrea let Miranda out and started thinking about what had just happened. Knowing she was looking into it, she again pushed aside her growing feelings for her boss. The last thing she needed was to be caught fantasizing about her hands all over Miranda's skin. Miranda needs me to be calm, intelligent, and professional, so that's what I'll do.
In the lavatory, Miranda opened her makeup bag and pulled out a small fingertip vibrator that she quickly slipped onto her right middle finger. The airplane noise certainly drowned out any lingering buzzing sound. Checking that the door was securely locked, she pushed her leggings and panties down and pressed her finger to her wet folds. She swallowed her own gasps as her left hand slipped underneath her shirt to caress her belly, her right hand frantically rubbing against her clitoris. Wave after wave crashed through her, but she couldn't stop. She needed the release. Sitting next to the brunette and feeling her touch so intimately was sending her hormones into overdrive.
After several minutes, Miranda's breathing returned to normal. She cleaned the small massager and slipped it back into the bag, cleaning herself up the best she could in the small space. She reapplied her lipstick and fixed a few flyaway pieces of hair before exiting the bathroom and grabbing two bottles of water from the flight attendant.
Andrea stood to let Miranda in, thanking her for the offered bottle of water.
"I decided not to tell him," Miranda said.
Andrea turned and looked at her, puzzled.
"Stephen. I decided it's best if he doesn't know. I sent the divorce papers this morning before coming to the airport."
"Oh, really? Wow. Um, that's good, right?"
Miranda nodded. "I hope. I haven't told the girls yet," she said.
"Oh. Isn't it a little earlyI mean to tell people?" Andrea asked.
"Do you mean to tell me you think he won't sign the papers?" Miranda asked.
Andrea gasped. "No. I have no idea what Stephen will or won't doI'm sorry," she said. "I thought you were talking about, you know," she said, gesturing her hand.
"Ahh, that," Miranda said with a sigh. "I haven't even thought about that."
"I'm sorry I mentioned it. It's none of my business," Andrea said, practically scolding herself.
Miranda paused for a moment. "Andrea, it has been nice to, you know, have you nearby," Miranda said quietly.
"Yeah?" Andrea asked, looking up and smiling.
Miranda nodded and reached over and took Andrea's hand. "I'm not really sure how to say this, Andrea. Honestly, I'm not even sure what this is, but I want you to know that I like you, that I enjoy your company," Miranda said. "Okay, that sounds ridiculous, but it's oh, I don't know," she said.
"No, I get what you're saying," Andrea said, squeezing her hand. "There's something different. You don't have to describe it."
Miranda nodded. "Thank you for being thereherefor me right now. I think it's fairly clear that I could not do this alone."
"You're not alone, Miranda. You never were. You just people are too scared of you to reach out," Andrea said.
"Why did you?" she asked.
"I'm different," she said with a shrug.
"Ahh," Miranda said with a smile, "Mon Andrea bienvenue à Paris," she said, the words gliding off her tongue. Miranda pointed to the Eiffel Tower out the window. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you're different," she added.
"Okay, so I am going to my hotel. I will be back here by 7:00 AM, and I'll wait for you in the lobby," Andrea said.
"What? What are you talking about?" Miranda asked. She was exhausted from the flight and anxious to curl up in bed for a few hours before an early start the following day.
"This hotel was entirely booked, so I wasn't able to get a room," Andrea said. "I was able to reserve one at another hotel a few blocks away," she explained.
"You're not staying with me?" Miranda asked.
Andrea's eyes widened. "I'm sorry. I couldn'tthey didn't have any space this week."
"I cayou can'tthat is unacceptable," Miranda said. "You will stay with me."
Andrea's eyes widened. "Pardon?" There is no way she said what I thought she said.
"My suite has a second bedroom over there," Miranda said, pointing at a door near the balcony.
"You wouldn't mind?" Andrea asked.
"No, of course not," Miranda said. "I said like your company. Now go bring your bags in here and get a second key from the front desk. I'm exhausted."
"Of course. Andthank you, Miranda," she said, hurrying out the door.
The next few days flew by as Andrea adjusted to the fast pace of Paris Fashion Week. It turned out Miranda was incredibly grateful for the afternoon down time in her schedule. With two assistants, she was absolutely comfortable letting her staff attend shows in her absence. Andrea, too, it seems, was grateful for the chance to rest.
It was Wednesday afternoon, and they had been in Paris for six full days. Thursday was the Runway luncheon for James Holt International, and Friday at 11am, the team would depart for New York.
Andrea had noticed Miranda was a little slower today. Her eyes were distant during the Lanvin show, and her steps lacked the force they typically carried. She wasn't surprised when Miranda jumped at the suggestion that she take the entire afternoon off.
"Can I get you anything?" Andrea asked as Miranda curled up on the sofa, tucking her legs beneath her. She had already changed into a pair of yoga pants and a camisole, so Andrea knew she didn't plan on going anywhere for the next few hours.
Miranda stared intently at Andrea. After several minutes, she shook her head. "No, I can't ask you. That's all."
"Ask me what? At least give me the chance to turn it down," Andrea said.
"Since when have you ever turned me down?" Miranda asked.
"First time for everything, lady."
"Ddid you just call me lady?"
"Ehh" Andrea bit her lower lip, nodding slowly.
"Andrea, I think you are certifiably insane, but you do make me smile," Miranda said. "I was going to ask if you would massage my foot."
"Just one foot?"
Miranda nodded. Andrea sat on the sofa and gently pulled Miranda's feet out, carefully examining them. Miranda wiggled her toes on her right foot, and Andrea softly began kneading with her thumb.
Hours later, Andrea woke with a gasp as Miranda moved her foot from her lap.
"I'm sorry," she said, climbing off the couch. "I have to use the bathroom."
Andrea said nothing, watching Miranda scurry into the bathroom and shut the door. What time is it? Did I really fall asleep with Miranda's foot in my lap? Checking her watch, she confirmed that it was after 19:00, so she called down and ordered a light meal for them for dinner. Hopefully Miranda wouldn't be too concerned that she had missed the Cynthia Rowley show.
After eating dinner, Miranda returned to the couch, browsing through her emails while Andrea busied herself on her computer in her own bedroom.
"Andrea?" Miranda called. "I am meeting Nigel for breakfast tomorrow at 6:30. You don't need to meet us until later at the Palais right before Givenchy."
"Okay, thank you," Andrea called from behind her bedroom door. Her voice sounded muffled, but Miranda shrugged and turned out her light, climbing into bed. She tossed and turned several times, but a sound from the second bedroom was keeping her awake.
"Andrea," Miranda called.
Within seconds, the young woman appeared in her doorway. "Miranda? What's wrong?" she asked.
Miranda lifted the covers up on the other side of the bed. "Get in," she said.
Andrea froze, petrified.
"Get in and stop making noises," Miranda said, "or I will make you sleep in the corridor!"
Andrea quickly obeyed, sliding between the sheets and attempting to take up as little space as possible.
"Thank you," Miranda said curling back into her pillow. "What were you doing in there anyway?"
"Um, reading," Andrea answered nervously. Small talk while in bed with Miranda was not on her anticipated course of action.
"Reading? A book? Last time I checked that was a silent activity," Miranda said.
"It was sad, and I guess I started crying," Andrea said, turning to her side and burying her face in the pillow.
"Oh, well keep quiet," Miranda said.
"Hmmm," Miranda sighed, slowly waking up. "Ughh," she grunted, realizing how badly she had to pee. As she pushed herself up, she realized her arms and legs were wrapped around Andrea. How did that happen?
Andrea opened her eyes wide and quickly tried to wiggle her way out and untangle herself from Miranda.
"Sorry" Miranda said, crawling out of bed. "I have to use the bathroom," she said, hurrying and shutting the door behind her.
Andrea quickly got up and headed to her room. It was already past five, and she figured she wouldn't be able to sleep anymore anyway, so she quickly showered and dressed, pinning her hair up in a chic top knot. Once she finished her makeup, she carefully stepped out of her room into the common space.
"Miranda? Can I get you some tea?" Andrea asked. It had only been twenty minutes since she woke, and Andrea was secretly proud of her morning efficiency. Not receiving a response, she headed towards the master suite and peered inside: the bed was empty, and the bathroom door still shut. Figuring she was still getting ready, Andrea left to turn until the sound of Miranda retching made her freeze in her tracks.
She rushed to the door, knocking and pushing it open without waiting for a response. Miranda was squatting in front of the toilet. She looked up at Andrea with bloodshot, teary eyes.
"Cancel my breakfast," Miranda whispered.
"Did you take your medication?" Andrea asked.
"Didn't make it down," she said.
Andrea ran out of the bathroom, returning with another transdermal patch. "Here," she said, quickly swabbing her skin and applying the patch behind the ear. She took Miranda by the forearms and helped her to stand, walking her back into the bedroom.
Just as they were approaching the bed, Miranda clasped her arm across her abdomen and bent over, squatting down and leaning against the dresser.
"Should I call the doctor?" Andrea asked.
"No," she repeated, holding her breath at the pain. "It's not that," she said. After a few minutes she pushed herself up and took a deep breath. "I forgot how severe these gastrointestinal pains could be," Miranda said.
"Really?" Andrea asked. "Is that common?"
"Quite," Miranda said. "With the girls, I was rather constipated, but this time it appears to, uh, be the opposite." She shook her head and stood up as the cramping eased up. "I'm sorry if that was too much information," she said, cringing.
"It's okay," Andrea said, shrugging. "Do you want some Pepto-Bismol or something? A banana maybe?"
"I'll be fine. I'm going to turn the heating pad on for a little while before getting ready," she said.
Andrea nodded. "Let me know if there's anything I can do," she said. "I'm sending a note to Nigel now," she said, typing out a text to him. "I'll just be in my room."
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm not going back to sleep. I could use the company," Miranda said, crawling onto the bed.
Andrea smiled and quickly helped arrange the pillows behind her, handing her the heating pad, wrapped in a towel to diffuse the heat. Once Miranda was situated, Andrea pulled the chair next to the bed and made herself comfortable.
"The joys of pregnancy that they fail to tell you about," Miranda said, chuckling. "Do you think I'm too old for this?" she asked, suddenly serious.
"No, of course not," Andrea said. "Why would you ask?Did I say something wrong?"
"Not at all. I just feel like my body isn't as resilient as it was ten, twenty, thirty years ago. They told me I was an older mother when I had the girls, but I really do feel older now."
"I suppose that is to be expected. You're certainly handling it well," she said.
Miranda burst out laughing. "You are funny, you know. I am most certainly not handling this well. Not at all," she said, her laughter somehow turning into tears.
Andrea was so shocked at the quick change of emotion, she was frozen in place. It took a few minutes, but Miranda finally calmed down.
"Would you believe that I have never once considered terminating this pregnancy?" she said.
Why is she telling me this? Andrea silently begged the forces of the universe to give her a reason to remove herself from this conversation. "Why?" she asked.
"With the girls, I almostit wasn't planned. We weren't trying. I had an appointment and everything, but James talked me out of it at the last minute," Miranda said.
"Oh." Andrea wasn't sure where this story was going. For some reason, whenever Miranda brought up her personal life, Andrea felt like she was floating on a paper raft in a sea of sharks.
"This time it's just different and I don't know why," Miranda said.
Andrea wasn't sure if she was really speaking to her or just talking to herself, but either way, she certainly couldn't step away now.
"It's as if I'm anxiousI cannot wait to hold this little human being in my arms," she said, wrapping her arms around her abdomen. "My girls are practically adults, but this baby, it's just beginning its journey as it's growing inside me. This baby is a part of me. And I want it to be different for him. I want to teach him to walk, to talk, to sing, to read. This is my second chance," she said. "I would gladly endure this pain again tenfold for this little being. Even though she's only eleven weeks old, I love her. Everything they say about a mother's love is true. There really is nothing else like it."
Andrea looked up and met eyes with Miranda. Her little speech brought tears to her eyes, seeing Miranda so raw and emotional. She reached over and laid her hand on Miranda's arm. "Your children are very lucky, Miranda," she said, wiping a tear from her eye. "Thank you for sharing that with me."
"It is I who should be thanking you," Miranda said.
After several minutes of silence, Andrea stood and excused herself. She wasn't expecting such deep reflection so early in the morning.
"Andrea," Miranda called.
Andrea stood. She had been sitting on her bed, staring at the wall for the past hour, trying to sort out her thoughts. "Yes?" she asked, approaching Miranda's room.
Miranda was standing in front of the full-length mirror, adjusting her blouse. "Does thisdoes it look okay?" she asked, turning to face Andrea.
Why is she Andrea swallowed a gasp. Because Miranda Priestly's clothes were so perfectly custom-tailored, any fluctuations in size were quite noticeable. Andrea's eyes were locked on Miranda's midsectionthe buttons pulled tighter than usual, the slight shadow outlining her bump.
"Okay, so it is obvious," she said, sighing.
"No, waitI mean, you look great," Andrea said.
"You clearly noticed what I did. Give me your blazer," Miranda said, reaching her hand out.
Miranda gestured her hand, and like magic, Andrea quickly took the tuxedo-cut navy blue velvet jacket off, holding it up for Miranda.
It fit her perfectly, and surprisingly, it worked, discreetly drawing attention away from that area of her body. Miranda affixed an emerald brooch to the lapel and added a few different necklaces for a layered look.
"It's perfect," Andrea said.
"Hmm, quite," Miranda said, tossing Andrea a red silk bateau top to wear with her skirt.
The Tahari show was finally coming to a close. It was nearly two hours longunprecedented for Paris Fashion Week shows. Andrea saw Miranda begin fidgeting about halfway through. At one point, Donatella even nudged Miranda and told her to sit still. Andrea watched as Miranda stretched her lower back. She was slow to get to her feetslower than usual.
"Miranda, the car is out front," Andrea whispered.
"I am in the middle of a conversation. Do not interrupt me," she snapped, returning her attention to the stylist she was speaking with.
When they eventually made it to the car, Miranda landed in the backseat with a grunt. "That anti-nausea patch was making me dizzy," she said, closing her eyes.
"Miranda, maybe we should call the doctor. You really haven't been feeling well today," Andrea said.
"Do not tell me how I feel! If I want the doctor, I will tell you to phone the doctor," she spat.
Andrea did not say another word. They made their way to the room in silence. Andrea retrieved two tylenol and a glass of water. Miranda took the medication without making eye contact, then swiftly crawled onto the bed, curling up against a pillow.
Andrea sat on the edge of the bed. "Is there anything I can do?" she asked, softly placing her hand on Miranda's hip.
"Don't touch me!" Miranda cried, swatting her hand away. "I'm sorry," she said, sighing. "I just"
"I understand. I'll get lost and stay out of the room for a while. This will give me time to head to Hermes for those scarves," Andrea said, grabbing her bag and running out the door.
A sharp pain woke Miranda from her rest, nearly taking her breath away. She sat up at the edge of the bed and prepared to stand up when she felt another sharp pain, this one clearly a cramping pain, the intensity bringing tears to her eyes.
She stood and made her way to the bathroom. "Ahh," she cried out as another sharp cramp caused her to double over. She leaned against the bathroom sink, holding herself up. Another cramp seized her abdomen. She felt a gush between her legs. Was the pain making her incontinent? Reaching her hand down between her legs, she felt moisture. Her fingertips were tinged with bright red blood.
"Oh god," she cried, rushing to the toilet, kicking her pants off. She bent over and grabbed her ankles as the cramps quite literally took her breath away.
After a short while, the cramping subsided. Miranda attempted to clean herself with a piece of toilet tissue, flushed, then stood, clutching the sink. She turned the water on, but before she could rinse her hands, she stumbled backwards, sliding down the wall as the room began to spin and another cramp took over. Andrea, come back
Nearly twenty minutes later, Andrea returned to the hotel after several misunderstandings at Hermes. She let herself into their suite, setting the boxes of requested items on the coffee table. After the way Miranda had dismissed her, she wasn't sure the woman wanted company, but figured it wouldn't hurt to check.
Hearing the water running, she walked towards the bathroom, gasping when she saw the editor on the floor. "Miranda!" she called, rushing to her side. "What happened? Are you okay?"
Miranda shook her head as tears began to fall. She clutched at Andrea's arms, tugging herself up. "II'm sorry," she cried, burying her face in Andrea's neck.
"I'm going to call the doctor," Andrea said, pulling her phone out and dialing the number she programmed last week.
Miranda leaned on Andrea and pulled herself to her feet. Her eyes darted across the tile floordrops of blood, silk underwear, trousers. The thought made her want to cry all over again.
"Okay, we will see you there shortly. Merci," Andrea said, ending the call. She didn't make eye contact with Miranda. She knew she wouldn't be able to handle that right now. Right now, Miranda needed calm and professional.
"The doctor wants to see you," Andrea said, stepping away to retrieve a clean pair of underwear and lounge pants for Miranda. She pulled a sanitary pad out of her purse and affixed it inside the underwear. "Is this okay?" she asked, squatting down in front of Miranda.
Miranda nodded and rested her hand on Andrea's shoulder as she lifted one foot, then the other, then repeated for her pants.
"Let's wash your hands," Andrea said. She put some soap on her hands and pulled Miranda's underneath the running water, much like one would help a child.
She led Miranda out into the sitting room and draped her coat over her shoulders as she again picked up the phone. "Hi, Pierre, can you please meet us at the back entrance? Uh, no, we need to go to the emergency room," she said quietly.
Miranda stopped short of the door. "My sunglasses," she said.
Andrea quickly retrieved them from the side table. Mask in place, they made their way to the service elevator, then down to the waiting car. The whole time, Andrea's hand rested on the small of Miranda's back.
Closing the door behind her, Andrea walked to the other side of the car and climbed in. Miranda glanced up at Andrea, then turned her attention back to her hands in her lap. Neither woman said a word as Andrea scooted closer, taking her hand and draping her arm around her.
She leaned into the younger woman and rested her head on her shoulder. She brought their clasped hands up to her lips and pressed a kiss to Andrea's knuckles, squeezing tightly. Words, it seemed, were not required that afternoon.
At the hospital, they were immediately greeted by a nurse who was waiting specifically for them. She helped Miranda into a wheelchair and then pushed her through several hallways into a private room, Andrea trailing close behind.
"Dr. Bernard has just arrived and will see you momentarily. Please change into this gown," the nurse said. "Is there anything we can get you?"
Miranda shook her head. The nurse shut the door.
"Do you needI can step out?" Andrea said quietly.
"No, stay. I can do this," Miranda said.
Andrea sat on the chair at the other side of the room, quickly emailing Emily and Nigel to explain Miranda would not be attending the shows or dinner party this afternoon. Emily would never ask questions, but she knew Nigel would soon start probing.
Not long after Miranda changed into the gown, Dr. Bernard stepped in and the nurse began to setup the ultrasound machine. "Miranda, I am going to examine you to see how you're doing," he said matter-of-factly. "As you probably know, bleeding and cramping often signals uterine distress. I'd like to begin with an ultrasound."
Miranda nodded and turned away from the doctor as he lifted her gown up. She reached out her hand and Andrea quickly took it, squeezing tightly as she stepped closer to the bed.
"How long have you been bleeding?" Dr. Bernard asked.
"I don't know," Miranda said.
"Well, I was gone from 14:00 to 15:30, so sometime between then," Andrea said.
"Miranda, you are still losing a lot of blood," he said.
"And the baby?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
Dr. Bernard turned on the ultrasound and moved the instrument across her belly for several minutes. "I'm so very sorry. There is no heartbeat," he said. "The embryo appears to be just over eight weeks."
Miranda closed her eyes and nodded.
"I would typically give you the choice of misprostol or a D&C, but because you've already lost a significant amount of blood, we will need to take you to surgery right away," he said.
"I can come with?" Andrea asked.
"You will need scrubs," the nurse said.
"That's fine," she replied.
"Miranda, we will take good care of you," Dr. Bernard said. "Miscarriage is unfortunately very common, though no one likes to talk about it. You'll be back to normal in no time at all," he said.
The two women were once again alone in the room as the doctor left to schedule an operating room right away. The nurse poked her head in with scrubs for Andrea and said they'd be ready for her in three minutes. Andrea left her clothes and bag on the hook in the bathroom and returned to Miranda's side.
She squatted down next to the bed so she was eye-level with Miranda, whose eyes fluttered open as Andrea gently cupped her cheek. "It's going to be okay," she whispered, softly kissing Miranda's forehead. "Are you in any pain right now?"
"No. I feel shaky, strange. My skin feels like it's burning and stinging everywhere," she said. "Thank you," she said, turning and pressing a kiss to Andrea's palm.
"Dr. Bernard gave her a sedative plus a local anesthesia to numb her cervix and uterus. Will you be taking her home?" the nurse asked.
"Yes," Andrea said, tossing her scrubs into the laundry bag in the corner of the room. "When can we leave? I'd like to have the car ready."
"Whenever she's ready. Dr. Bernard has already signed for her release. Take care, and please call us if anything comes up," he said, quickly moving on to the next patient.
Andrea sent a text message to Pierre, and he was actually still downstairs. She sat on the edge of the hospital bed. Just last week they were in this same position when Miranda found out about the pregnancy. She had no idea what to expect in the coming days, but one thing she knew was that Miranda would want her privacy.
She bent down and pressed a gentle kiss to Miranda's forehead again. "It's all over, Miranda," she whispered. "You can go home as soon as you're ready."
Miranda opened her eyes and took a deep breath. "Please get my clothes," she said. She pushed herself up and sat up, her feet hanging over the side of the bed. Andrea set her items next to her. "Can you go get me a bottle of water or something?" she asked.
Andrea nodded and stepped out of the room, recognizing Miranda really wanted a few minutes to herself. She found a vending machine, and took her time returning to the room, stopping at the nurse's station to pickup the discharge instructions.
"Miranda needs to follow up with her physician in 10-14 days. She may have some light spotting and cramping for the next few days, but if it's more severe, please call us or take her to an emergency room. There is a lot of other information in here," she said, handing the folder to Andrea. "But this happens all the time, it's nothing to be concerned about. She will be fine."
"Thank you so much," Andrea said, heading back to the room. Miranda was dressed, sitting in the chair by the window when she walked in. Somehow, she knew Miranda would not be "fine" with this.
"The car is waiting whenever you're ready," Andrea said.
Miranda nodded and stood. "Let's get out of here," she said, putting her sunglasses on.
"I talked to the doctoryou are fine to travel back to New York on Monday," Andrea said, breaking the silence when they arrived back to the room.
"I can't go back. Not yet," she said. She discarded her jacket haphazardly on the sofa and kicked off her flats.
Andrea nodded, jotting a quick reminder to herself to begin working on adjusting Miranda's calendar. She would also need to extend the hotel reservation. "When would you like to return?" she asked, hoping she could at least arrange the flight.
Miranda responded by marching into the bathroom and slamming the door shut. Andrea sighed and headed to her room. She heard the shower turn on, so she knew Miranda would be a while. Andrea changed into leggings and a tunic, then called to order a salad for herself and a light snack for Mirandaif she wanted it.
She walked back into Miranda's bedroom and fluffed the pillows, turning down her side of the bed. She hung Miranda's coat and put her shoes back in the closet. She selected a soft cotton tank and yoga pants for Miranda, along with a clean pair of underwear. Andrea quickly trotted back to her room to retrieve the box of sanitary pads she brought, glad she made that decision.
The shower was still running. The way the bathroom was arranged, the shower was around the corner from the door, so she could easily set the items on the vanity. Andrea opened the door and silently cursed. How had she forgotten to have the bathroom cleaned?
There was blood on the sink, the toilet, the floor. Miranda's pants and underwear had been kicked off to the side. Andrea took a washcloth and ran it under hot water with some soap and quickly scrubbed the dried blood off the fixtures. It wasn't a disinfectant, but it would have to do for now, she thought. She tossed Miranda's underwear into the trash bin and set the fresh items out for her, quickly stepping out and shutting the door.
After washing her hands, her dinner showed up, and she quietly took her salad to her room, leaving the fruit, cheese, and yogurt for Miranda. She heard the hair dryer, then the bathroom door opening, but Miranda still had not said a word.
Andrea emerged from her room to return her plate and silverware to the cart. Miranda was sitting on the couch, eating an orange slice.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly.
Andrea looked over and saw the tears threatening to fall from her eyes. "You have nothing to apologize for, okay? I am so sorry that you had to endure this. I can't even begin to imagine what you're feeling."
"I shouldn't have let you get involved," Miranda said. "You've shouldn't have had to sit with me in the hospitaltwice."
Andrea walked closer and squatted down between the couch and the coffee table. "Don't you get it?" she said as she took her hand. "I want to be here. No, not really in a hospital, but wherever you are." She gently brushed her thumb along the back of Miranda's hand.
"But no one ever wants to be with me," Miranda whispered, shaking her head in disbelief.
"I told you," she said, softly pressing her lips to the back of her hand, "I'm different."
Miranda smiled a half-smile and squeezed Andrea's hand tightly. "You are, sweetheart. You most definitely are," she said.
Andrea smiled and let go of Miranda's hand. "I've already told Nigel and Emily that you weren't feeling well, so you're not expected anywhere," she said.
"Butthe Holt luncheon tomorrow," Miranda said, "I need to talk to Nigel first."
"We'll figure it out. You can think about it in the morning, okay?"
Miranda nodded. "I'm going to go lay down," she said as she stood and walked into the bedroom. Andrea waited a few moments before turning out the light and following her.
"Leave me alone," Miranda said, turning over, away from Andrea.
"Excuse me?" Miranda said.
Andrea crawled onto the bed behind Miranda and wrapped her arms around her. "I said, 'no,'" she said, hugging the older woman tightly.
Miranda reached up and covered her face as she started to cry, her soft tears quickly turning into heart-wrenching sobs. After several minutes, she turned towards Andrea, burying her face in the young woman's shoulder as she held her tight.
"I should have taken care of myselfI didn't knowI didn't thinkI wanted this babyI lost it," she said between sobs. "I lost it. I failed."
"This was not your fault, Miranda," Andrea said. "You can't let yourself think that. You did everything you could," she said.
They sat in silence for nearly an hour. Miranda's tears had suspended for now, but Andrea could tell she was still awake.
"Do you want to call the girls?" Andrea asked.
"Well, I was just thinking that it might be nice to hear their voices you know?"
Miranda was silent for a moment before asking, "What time is it?"
"About 4:30PM in New York," Andrea said. "They should be home from schoolI don't think they have anything after school on Wednesdays."
Miranda pulled away from Andrea's arms and looked up. "Would you get my phone?"
Andrea nodded and stepped away to find it. When she returned, Miranda was sitting up in bed with several pillows behind her. She handed Miranda the phone, then stepped out of the room.
Miranda stared at the phone for several minutes before pressing the "send" button. She wasn't exactly sure what she was going to say to them, and didn't know what to do if she started crying again, but she decided she really did need to hear their voices.
"Hi Mirandais everything okay?" James said, answering after three rings.
"Yes," she said, "I was hoping to speak with the girls for a minuteare they available?"
"Sure, they're doing homework downstairs. I'll call them," he said. "Hey, how have you been? Are you feeling better?"
Miranda took a deep breath. "Yes, much, thank you. The past few months have been exhausting. I think I might take some time off and relax while you have the girls for the holidays."
"Good, you should," he said. "Well, here they aretake care, Miranda."
"Hi my darling," Miranda said, fighting back the tears in her eyes. "Is your sister there?"
"Yep, I'm putting you on speaker."
"My darlings, I've missed you both so much," Miranda said.
"We miss you too, Mom. When are you coming home? Are you feeling better?"
"I am starting to feel better," she said, "and I was actually thinking of staying in Paris for a bit longer to relax and recuperate."
"Oh. Can we see you before we go to Grandma's with Dad?"
"Of course, darling. I miss you both. Do you want to come over the weekend before you leave with Dad?"
"Yes!" they both shouted.
"Oh good, I would like that very much. Start thinking about what you might want to do, okay?"
"I kind of just want to stay home and hug you."
Miranda clasped her hand over her mouth to keep from sobbing into the phone. "Caroline, darling, I promise you a very big hug when I see you, okay? You, too, Cassidy. I love you both very very very much."
"Love you too, Mom. Isn't it late in Paris? Like midnight?"
"It's almost eleven o'clock," she said.
"Aren't you supposed to be sleeping? Dad said you needed to rest so you could get better!" Cassidy said.
"Darling, don't worry. I told you, Mommy is feeling much better. I just couldn't fall asleep and needed to hear your voices, okay?" she said.
"Yes, Mom," they said in unison. "Will you be able to sleep now?"
"Yes, darling. Now I can fall asleep and dream about seeing you two when I come home. You should probably get back to your homework. I love you both so very much and can't wait to see you!"
"Love you too, Mom. Goodnight!" they said, hanging up the phone.
Miranda tossed the phone on the bed beside her and pulled her knees up to her chest, burying her head in her arms as she began to sob once again.
Shortly thereafter, Andrea gently knocked on the door and stepped inside. "How did it go?" she asked.
Miranda was still sitting with her knees to her chest. "Good. I mean, it felt good. It helps, you know knowing I have two beautiful, healthy, sweet daughters waiting for me at home. It helps, but it doesn'tit doesn't" she couldn't finish her sentence as she started crying again.
"You should get some sleep," Andrea said. "Would you like a benadryl or anything?"
"No," she said as she curled up against the pillow.
"Okay, if you need anything, I'm going to keep the doors open between our rooms tonight," she said.
"Waityou're not staying her here?"
"Oh, well, I can if you want me to," Andrea said.
Miranda nodded, biting her lower lip as tears flowed from her eyes.
Andrea turned out the light and climbed in bed next to Miranda, softly stroking her back as she curled up against her chest. "I didn't know what you were feeling right now, so I didn't want to push you," Andrea said quietly, kissing the top of Miranda's head.
"I don't really know what I'm feeling right now, either," she said.
"It's okay. And I set my alarm so you can decide in the morning whether you want to go to the luncheon," Andrea said.
"Shit," Miranda said. "I need to talk to Irv to finalize the announcementwait, who will be giving the introduction if I don't go?"
"I assume Nigel would, since he will be at the podium anyway and you can just tell him whatever he needs to say," Andrea said.
"No, no," Miranda said with a sigh. She disentangled herself from Andrea and lay, staring up at the ceiling, her hand pressed to her forehead. "Nigel thinks he's getting the James Holt job because James basically promised it to him," Miranda said. "But that's not what is going to happen. I found out last week that Irv was planning to appoint Jacqueline Follet as EIC of Runway US, so I played matchmaker and introduced James to Jacqueline. She's a perfect fit for that jobshe will fit in well with his aesthetic. But also, the job was so ridiculously overpaid, she wasn't able to turn it down."
"So you were going to announce thisJacqueline as president of JHItomorrow afternoon?" Andrea asked, trying to follow the story.
"Yes," Miranda said. "Nigel doesn't know."
"Ohh, I get it. But wait, how did you convince Irv?" she asked.
"Just some blackmail," Miranda said, "But I still don't trust him."
"Oh." Just some blackmail, Andrea thought. "So why can't you just send Nigel an email and ask him to announce this?"
"I know Nigel," Miranda said. "He will feel betrayed. Unfortunately I don't think there's another way."
"Maybe you can make it seem like it's part of a bigger plan?"
Miranda thought for a minute. "You're right. I can tell him I couldn't lose him because of this new venture I was going to share once Awards Season was over," she said. She turned to look at Andrea, "I knew there was a reason I hired you," she said with a smile.
Andrea returned the smile and watched as the expression on Miranda's face changed so suddenly. Andrea didn't say anything. She saw the guilt taking its place back in Miranda's expression.
"Goodnight, Miranda," Andrea said quietly.
Early the next morning, Miranda laid in bed, awake and unable to sleep. She quietly climbed out of the bed, careful not to wake her assistant, and crept to the bathroom. Physically, she was feeling fineremarkably better than she had been feeling for the past eleven weeks. But relief wasn't what she was feeling. She felt guilty for even so much as letting the word "relief" come to mind. The guilt was certainly worse than any of the pain or malaise she felt in the past eleven weeks.
Emotionally, she was a messand it went beyond guilt. She felt empty, hollow. Part of her was expecting someone to say something like, 'Oh, you just found out you were pregnant, so it's not like you were attached.' She wanted to scream back that it wasn't true, that the moment she found out she wanted that child and regretted not seeing a doctor sooner. But, no one was challenging her. Sure, if they knew they might blame her being a demanding workaholic, but they didn't. No one accused her of that.
She couldn't help but wonder Would the baby have survived if she had been taking prenatal vitamins since week five? If she had started taking anti-nausea medication sooner and had proper nourishment? Was it the caffeine she had been drinking? Those two glasses of wine with Nigel? Did she take too many hot baths?
The worst part about it was that she would never know. She would never know why it happened, so there would always be the possibility that it was her fault. Something she could have prevented. Andrea was the only one reassuring her that it was not her fault. She was genuine, supportive. Beyond supportive, really. Miranda didn't quite know how to react to that.
Washing her hands, she left the bathroom and crawled back into bed.
"Hey," Andrea said, softly brushing her arm. Miranda turned over to face Andrea's deep brown eyes, full of so much concern. "Are you feeling any better?" she asked.
Miranda shook her head and closed her eyes as tears began to fall once again. "Don't ask me that," she said.
Andrea wrapped her arms tightly around the woman. "Shh, it's okay," she said, trying to soothe her.
"No. It's not okay. I am feeling better, but I shouldn't be. I shouldn't be feeling better and it shouldn't be okay that my baby just died," she cried.
"I am so sorry," Andrea said, holding her tight. She didn't know what else to do so she just held her and rocked her to sleep.
When Miranda woke, her lips were inches from Andrea's. The brunette was still asleep, and Miranda didn't want to wake her. This beautiful young woman slumbering next to her had grown on her. It was obvious she was more than an assistant, but how much more?
Miranda reached up touched Andrea's cheek, careful not to wake her. She brushed her thumb along Andrea's lower lip, eliciting a sigh from the woman. Miranda looked up and met Andrea's eyes, and for a moment, neither woman said a word as they took in the sudden intimacy.
Miranda licked her lips and closed her eyes, leaning forward and capturing Andrea's soft lips in her own. Andrea reached up and tugged Miranda's hand from her cheek, pushing herself away. She kissed Miranda's palm before letting go of her hand.
"I, uh I need to " her voice trailed as she got out of bed and left the bedroom.
Miranda got up and wrapped her robe around her shoulders. She felt foolish for that momentary lapse of control. Andrea was her assistant, and whatever else she was, she certainly was not that. Still, she couldn't bear to face her again today. She was humiliated.
Andrea quickly showered and dressed for the day, taking some time to straighten up her room and fold some clothes. She hadn't been spending much time in there, and it was getting to be a little messy. She needed somethinganythingto take her mind off of Miranda. Or rather, more specifically, Miranda's lips. She had dreamed about those lips so many times, but she couldn't take advantage of Miranda like that. She was grieving, and there were a million emotions just below the surface. She wouldn't hold it against her, but she couldn't in good faith let it continue. Not when it meant so much more to her.
"Andrea," Miranda called. She quickly stepped out of the bedroom and entered the living room, where Miranda was sitting on the couch. She had been crying again, and she was wearing her robe. "Why are you here?" she asked.
"Uh," she stammered, taken aback by the sudden question. "I'm here because I want to be. Because I thought you wanted me to be."
"Isn't it your job to be here? I don't recall giving you a choice in coming to Paris."
"Umm, I think there's always a choice," Andrea said. "You do seem to imply to all of your staff, though, that if they choose not to do what you ask, they will no longer be employed."
"So that goes back to my questionare you here because it's your job? Because if you choose not to be here, you will no longer have said job?" Miranda said. She lifted her eyes for a brief moment.
"No, I'm not. It just so happens that the choices I am making are perfectly aligned with what you ask of me as an employee," Andrea said. She didn't know quite where this was going, but she was feeling very defensive all of a sudden.
"So if I tell you to go away, that I don't want to see you until we're back in New York .?"
"If you're asking what I would do if youhypotheticallytold me to leave, I wouldhypotheticallychoose to disobey and stay. Miranda, I would stay."
"Do you pity me, Andrea?"
"What? No. Miranda, where are you going with all this?" she asked impatiently.
"Answer the question."
"No, I don't pity you. I've never pitied you. There are times when I empathize, you know, my heart goes out when I see what you're going through, but never pity," she said. Can't you see that I love you?
"Why not?" Miranda asked. "Am I not worthy of your pity?"
"Damnit, Miranda!" she said, running her hand through her hair. "What do you want from me? I don't pity you because 'pity' implies a sense of judging from afar in my mind. I don't see you like that. I see you up close, I see that your life isn't perfect. I see how hard you work at everything." She took a deep breath. "I just want to be something more. I want to know if we'll still see each other when I get a new job, if you'll still talk to me, even. I just want to know this is something more than a fucking job," she said.
Andrea turned and faced the door, biting her fist to keep from crying. She wasn't sure whether she was waiting to be dismissed or called back. Either way, she was not moving from that spot. After several minutes, she asked, "Is there anything else?"
"Your fucking job," Miranda said.
Quietly gasping, she made for the door and left the room.
"Nigel? Can you meet me downstairs for coffee?" she asked.
"Sure thing. Are you coming to me begging forgiveness for sleeping with the enemy?" he said.
"Uh, no. No, I justMiranda needed me to tell you something," she said. There is no way he knows anything, right?
"Okay, okay. I just stepped out of the shower, so give me twenty," Nigel said.
Andrea found a table and ordered a cappuccino as she waited for Nigel. She needed something to distract her today.
"Hey Six," he called, "or should I say Jo Stockton? What's with the Funny Face ensemble?" he asked, joining her on the small patio.
"Oh, uh," she said, looking down at her black matchstick pants, lacy anklets, black Chanel flats, and black crew neck top. "I was just feeling kind of plain today."
"No Miranda?" he asked. "I thought you were the new teacher's pet. What's got your BFF laid up anyway?" he asked.
"She's still not feeling well, and I needed a break," she said with a smile. "You know how that is."
"Oh do I ever, darling. Years ago, Miranda would leave her assistant in New York and I was the one fetching things in a foreign city for her. I don't envy you, Six."
Andrea smiled. "I actually wanted to talk to you about the luncheon today," she said setting her mug down. She might be pissed as hell at Miranda right now, but the last thing she wanted to do was let her down when it came to her job.
Nigel beamed, "Can I tell you a secret? I'm finally getting a promotion," he said.
Andrea took a deep breath. "No, Nigel. The James Holt position is going to Jacqueline."
"Follet?! ButJames saidI meanhow did you?" he stammered.
"Nigel, I'm sorry. I thought it would be easier to hear this from me than get blindsided. Miranda explained everything last nightand actually she called James an 'asshole' which totally surprised me."
"Wow, she never uses foul language. What else did she explain?" he asked.
Your fucking job. Andrea took a deep breath. "To make a long story short, Irv was going to replace Miranda with Jacqueline, so she took it upon herself to introduce her to James. Jacqueline couldn't turn down the salary, and agreed upon the Holt position. Miranda said she blackmailed Irv, but wouldn't tell me anything more. As for you, she was hoping to speak with you last night or this morning because she said she had better plans for yousomething about a new venture that was going to take shape after the holidays."
"Wow. Wait, she explained all of this to you?"
"Yeah. She was, uh, medicated. I really don't know why she was so talkative," Andrea said, quickly taking a sip of her steaming beverage.
Nigel laughed, "Okay, that explains it. Woman never could handle her cough syrup. So Irv and Jacqueline know everything?"
"Well, I'm not sure if they both know everything, but they know what they need to. Miranda wants me to ensure that you give apologies for her not being there, and she needs you to announce Jacqueline as the new president of James Holt International, explaining how talented she is and how well she will support his vision. I'm sorry, I know that will be hard," Andrea said.
"Oh god," Nigel said, "Do I have to keep a straight face?"
"Okay, okay. I guess I can just stare at that asshole with my sexy eyes. Why can't Irv just announce it?"
Andrea giggled. She didn't want to know what Nigel meant by his "sexy eyes." "Miranda doesn't trust him. Who knows what he will try if she's not there," Andrea said.
"True," Nigel said, sipping his coffee. "And trust me, you would not want Jacqueline to be your new boss. Her incompetence and stupidity would drive you insane," he said. "Okay. So, tell me why isn't Miranda feeling well? Same thing that was bothering her in New York before we left? It isn't serious is it?"
"I don't think so," Andrea said. "But I mean, do you really think she is going to tell me all of the mundane details of her illness?"
"Good point, although if she told anyone these days, I wouldn't be surprised if it was you," he said. "So I take it you're not coming to the luncheon today?"
"Nope. I never had a seat, actually."
"So, a whole day off in Paris? Must be nice," he said.
"Not really," she said. She could never take a day off to enjoy herself while Miranda was upstairs. "I am going to find the girls some souvenirs," she said. "What do you think they would like? It seems like Miranda has access to almost everything they have here back in the states. I mean, I can't even bring back anything from LaDuree."
"Good question. In the past, Miranda has brought them back items from a designer's new collection that hasn't hit stores yet, but I don't think they really care too much about that kind of thing. Did she give you any direction?"
"Nope," she said. Miranda doesn't even know I'm doing this, she thought.
"Of course not. Maybe try something kitschy. I heard Miranda on the phone a few weeks ago explaining to Cassidy why she would not let her go shopping at a thrift store," he said with a smile.
"Really? Wow, I would have loved to hear that conversation. Okay, I have some ideas," she said.
"Are you heading out now?" Nigel asked.
"Yeah, just for a few hours. Miranda didn't sleep much last night, so I think she's resting now. Did you need anything?" she asked, suddenly remembering that sometimes she was Nigel's assistant, too.
"If you don't mind, will you grab me a cheesy postcard of the Eiffel tower and a stamp so I can send it home to my mother?"
"Aww, Nigel, that's so sweet. You never talk about your mom."
"Well, she's been in a nursing home for the past few years just outside Los Angeles. I don't get out to see her as much as I should. It's hard."
"I can imagine. I'll gladly pick one upI'll leave it at the front desk for you if that works," Andrea said.
"Thanks. See you later tonight for drinks? I know a bunch of us are checking out that new club Vivre down the block."
"Uhh, maybe! I'll have to check with Miranda. Thanks!" she said, waving as she headed down the street.
Miranda hadn't asked her to pick up souvenirs for the girls, but she needed something to occupy herself outside of that room for a few hours. And, Miranda obviously needed some space.
Her first stop was the Louvre's souvenir shop, where she picked up two Mona Lisa cloth totes. She selected a small blue hippopotamus for Caroline who had been studying rituals in ancient civilizations; she also grabbed a book on the myth of the hippopotamus hunt in the Middle Kingdom, something she would hopefully enjoy reading. For Cassidy, she selected an authentic brass student microscope and a Leonardo da Vinci journal book. Satisfied, she left the museum and began heading back to the hotel.
Seeing a nice quiet cafe, she decided to stop for something to drink. It had been almost two hours since she walked out of Miranda's room, and the more she thought about it, the more guilty she felt. It was, after all, her fault. She pushed Miranda away in the first place. She quickly dialed Miranda's cell phone before she could talk herself out of it.
Andrea waited, holding her breath as the phone kept ringing. She wasn't surprised that Miranda didn't answer, but she still hadn't prepared a message. "Uh, hi, Miranda, it's me. Andyerr, Andrea. I feel awful after our conversation this morning. I had no right to make this about me. It's justit's been so difficult being so close to you these past few weeks. Please forgive me."
Andrea ended the message, not knowing what else to say. What would she do if Miranda didn't forgive her? If she told her to clean out her desk once they returned? As much as she didn't want to think about it, it was a very real possibility.
She continued walking back, stopping at a small boutique near the hotel that had some postcards and keychains out front. She selected a postcard for Nigel, then saw some t-shirts on a rack. They were tourist-y shirts, but one caught her attention. It had graffiti-like writing drawn on it, along with a sketch of the Eiffel tower and a red heart. She purchased that for Cassidy and paid for Nigel's postcard. As she was walking out, she saw a scarf with a city map of Paris printed on it. It was trimmed in pale pink, and she thought it would be perfect for Caroline, so she returned to the register with her final purchase.
Her last stop was at the small market next to the hotel, where she rather impulsively selected sixteen roses for Miranda. She paid the cashier, who kindly trimmed the bouquet so she could easily slip them into a vase.
Walking into the hotel, she left the postage-paid postcard at the desk for Nigel, and headed upstairs to her room. Miranda had moved from the couch, and with her bedroom door was shut, Andrea suspected she was resting. Andrea set the roses in the large vase on the table, then neatly arranged the gifts for the girls, putting all of Cassidy's items in the pop-art Mona Lisa bag and Caroline's in the traditional one. She left those on the chair next to the table.
Andrea took a note card from the desk and wrote a brief note:
MirandaI'm sorry about earlier. I picked up a few souvenirs for the girls and flowers for you. Andrea xo
She set the card against the vase and headed back into her bedroom, shutting the door.
In her room, Miranda was laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. She heard Andrea return, but hesitated to greet her. She avoided her call but listened to the voicemail. Somehow, it made her feel a little worse that Andrea was the one apologizing when she had done nothing wrong. Miranda was ashamed at how she treated the young woman earlierthe woman who had been nothing but good to her.
She got up and went to the bathroom, straightening her hair and adjusting her clothes. Not that it matters, she thought, recalling her state when Andrea returned yesterday. She opened her bedroom door and half expected Andrea to be there waiting. She wasn't.
Miranda immediately saw the flowers and smiled. She told herself she was not smiling because she was happyshe was still very sadbut the flowers gave her some sort of hope. She read Andrea's note and examined the bags. They were both perfect, and Miranda knew her girls would love them.
She reached over and grabbed a beautiful saffron-colored rose from the vase, then gently knocked on Andrea's door. "Andrea?"
Andrea opened the door and searched Miranda's eyes. "Uhm, sorry, come in," she said, stepping aside. Miranda walked into the small bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. Andrea joined her.
"I'm sorry for how I treated you this morning," Miranda said, handing the rose to Andrea. "You have been nothing but good to me, and I appreciate that. Please don't apologize to me. I feel guilty enough as it is. I justI can't help but feel like I've disappointed you."
Andrea reached over and took Miranda's hand. "First, I accept your apology. Second, you have not disappointed me. How could you think that?"
"I don't know," she said with a shrug. "You worked so hard to take care of me, make sure I saw a doctor, then with the medications and restand then I failed you and it was all for nothing," she said.
"That's not true," Andrea said, taking Miranda by the shoulders. "It was for you and for the life inside you. I am so sorry about what happened. I am sorry, but I am not disappointed. Okay? You are still here, and for that I am very grateful," she said.
"Do you really mean thatthat you're grateful?" Miranda asked.
"Oh god, yes. I don't know what I would do if something had happened to you," she said, gently brushing her cheek.
Miranda looked up at Andrea and saw nothing but sincerity in her eyes. "So you really meant it when you said you wanted to be here with me?"
"And this morning?"
Andrea took a deep breath. "I would be lying if I said I didn't want that. I didI do. But you have been dealing with so much. The last thing I wanted was to be accused of preying on your vulnerability or something."
"Andrea," she said, "I think I want that too."
Miranda nodded. "I had some time to think this morning. Yes, I needed you these past few weeks, but now, it's become more than that. I want you here. And not just hereat home, too," she said.
"I think I'd like that," Andrea said, wiping a tear from her eye.
Miranda awkwardly stood from the bed. "I saw the gifts for the girls. That was so incredibly thoughtful of you. I really can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to think about what they each might like. I know they will be thrilled to see what you've selected," she said.
"Oh, it was no problem. But you don't have to tell them it's from meI don't mind."
"Absolutely not. They need someone like you in their life," she said, pausing as she realized she was getting too far ahead of herself. "I mean, I hope you would be willing to give it to them yourself," she said, biting her lip and looking down at the floor.
Andrea stood and wrapped her arms around Miranda. "Of course," she said, kissing the woman gently on the cheek and hugging her tight. "I would love to be a part of their livesand yours."
Miranda rested her head on the younger woman's shoulder. For just one brief moment, she felt like she was able to escape her reality. Andrea felt Miranda start shaking and gently pulled back to see she was in tears.
"Come here," Andrea said, taking Miranda's hand and leading her back into her own bedroom.
"I don't want to lay in bed," she said, sniffling. "I've been in bed for the past two days!"
"I know, I know. Trust me?" Miranda shrugged and followed Andrea into the bathroom.
Andrea began to fill the tub with hot water. She pulled out several luxurious towels and set them next to the tub. She dimmed the lights in the room so only the soft accent lights were on, then she filled a medium-sized decorative bowl with hot water and added a few drops of lavender oil, setting it on the floor next to the tub.
"Thank you," Miranda said, reaching out and squeezing Andrea's hand. "ButI can't."
Andrea smiled. "You cannot add any salts, soaps, or oils, but you can have the water as hot as you'd like," she said. "Would you like a glass of wine or something?"
Miranda's eyes widened as if she just realized she was free to have a drink. "Yes, please," she said.
Andrea stepped out to retrieve the wine from the wine fridge in the room. Selecting the Sancerre, she opened it, then brought it back to the bathroom with two glasses.
"Can I come in?" she asked.
"Is the water temperature okay?" Andrea asked, carefully averting her eyes from the crystal clear bathwater.
"It's perfect," Miranda said. She pointed at the glasses in Andrea's hand. "Are you joining me?"
"Uh, well, I thought I could just sit here against the tub and keep you company. Is that okay?" she said.
"Yes, thank you."
Andrea poured the wine and handed the glass to Miranda who took a long, slow sip. "Mmm, Sancerre," she whispered. "Excellent choice." She handed the glass back to Andrea and leaned back in the tub.
This bathtub was the same size and style as hers at home, except this one had a small divot in the porcelain where she could rest her head. It was quite possibly the most comfortable tub in the world, and she smiled, thinking of how many times she had stayed in this exact same roomeasily twenty or more times. In a strange way, she felt comfortable.
She softly tapped Andrea with her perfectly manicured nail, and she swiftly passed the wine glass back over her shoulder. Miranda held onto the glass for a while this time, waiting to hand it back until it was empty.
"Not yet," she said. She picked up the washcloth that was draped across her breasts. Gently squeezing the water out of it, Miranda ran it down her arms, across her neck and chest, and over her face. It was probably pointless, she thought, since there was no soap or cleanser, but the stinging feeling on her skin was a welcome pleasure. She supposed it was her own form of self-mutilation, though she was certain she hadn't found a household hot water heater that would allow the water to actually burn her skin by the time it reached the faucet. It was a shame. She liked to think this hotel reserved its hottest water for her and her alone. It very well could be the truth.
She continued to move her hands across her skin methodically. Every bath was the same: neck, shoulders, arms, breasts, abdomen, left leg, right leg. As she gently brushed her breasts, she realized how sensitive they were. I wonder how long this will last, she thought.
Sliding her hands down further across her abdomen, she could feel that the slight swell she felt days ago had significantly diminished, and she suddenly felt emptyan indescribable emptiness, as if she were betrayed by her body. Her body, which had seemed to forget that it had been carrying a baby a mere thirty-six hours ago.
Miranda quietly began crying and reached out for Andrea's hand. "How long is this going to last?" she said, wiping her eyes.
"What?" Andrea said, trying to sound as sincere and concerned as she could. She hoped Miranda wasn't beginning to doubt her already.
"This guilt," she said. "When you hugged me before, Andrea, it felt wonderful. And now, just relaxing like this. How can I justify these personal indulgencesthese escapes from reality?"
"I don't have an answer, Miranda, but I don't think there is a 'right' or 'wrong' way to proceed. It's not healthy to dwell on the past, so I think at some point you're going to figure out how to accept thisnot put it behind you, but find a way for it to strengthen you. I'm sorry, that probably doesn't make sense."
"No, I kind of get it. I'm just not there yet, and these swiftly changing emotions are exhausting."
"I'm sure," Andrea said.
"Maybe it would help if I got out of this room," she said.
"Sure, if you feel up to it."
"Aside from the crying, I feel absolutely fine. Would you be interested in taking a walk with me?" Miranda asked.
"Well, yes, once I dry off."
"Um, we probably shouldn't. Look, I would love to take a walk around Paris with you, but everyone thinks you're sick and that's why you aren't at the luncheon. If you're seen"
Miranda gasped. "I forgot all about that. Did you speak with Nigel this morning?" she asked.
"Yes. I met him for coffee and explained everything. He is making the announcement this afternoon."
Miranda nodded. "How did he take it?"
"Um, okay, really. He was a little surprised, but once I explained about Jacqueline and Irv, I think he understood. He probably feels betrayed by James if anyone. He's interested in this venture you speak of."
"Why James?" Miranda asked.
"He didn't say too much, but he gave the impression that James told him he was getting the job while they wereuh, involved," she said.
"Oh! Really? Iwow. I had no idea," Miranda said.
Andrea chuckled at Miranda's obvious surprise. "Well I don't think that will happen again."
"No, I don't suppose so. I didn't realize you and Nigel were so close," she said.
"We're notnot really. I think he tries to tell me gossip because he thinks I will divulge something about you," Andrea said. "Which of course I don't. I never have. They all think you have sort of flu or something."
Miranda smiled. "Someday that will bite him in the ass, you know."
"Yeah. I've often thought of the tricks I could play on him since he so blindly believes anything I say regarding you," she said.
"We should probably wait until this Holt thing blows over and I can talk to him about the retail venture," Miranda said. "I do think he will really like this opportunity."
Andrea took a deep breath. "Can I turn around?" she asked.
"Mm-hmm," Miranda murmured, readjusting the washcloth.
"Another glass?" she offered, holding up the bottle of wine. Miranda nodded. "So, there's a party tonight at a new club down the street. Nigel wants me to come, and I saw you were on the invitation, too," Andrea began, handing the glass to Miranda.
"I haven't checked my email, but you should go," she said.
"Well, I was thinking it would be nice if you make an appearance, too. You said yourself that you wanted to get out of this bedroom. And it's the last event of Fashion Week. You missed quite a bit this year, and I think there are already some rumors circulating that you're snubbing some of the designers," Andrea said.
"Oh do be serious. I was in the emergency room!"
"But they don't know that. Alicia and Jackie were asking a lot of questions about why you weren't there the other day."
"We'll see," Miranda said. "Let's get something to eat, and then I will decide."
"How did you forget to remind me that I could have coffee again?" Miranda asked, savoring the taste of her center-of-the-sun hot beverage.
"I have no idea, but look, you survived without it," she said with a smile.
"Before I forget, I want this coffee tomorrow morning," Miranda said.
"Oh, about that. Our flight leaves tomorrow morning. I extended your hotel stay, but didn't have any direction on the flight or anything. And, I actually need to finish packing."
"I didn't change your flight, so you can still come back as planned if you'd like," Andrea said. She didn't really like the thought of leaving Miranda alone in Paris either, but she did not have any vacation days left this year and couldn't afford to take an unpaid leave.
"No. I think I still need some time," she said. "When is the party this evening?"
"It's earlier because so many of us have flights the next morning. Starts in an hour, actually," Andrea said.
"Okay. I'm going to get ready and I suggest you do the same," she said.
Andrea smiled. This is not a date, she reminded herself.
They arrived at Vivre at 20:30 and the place was already packed. Even though it was literally three blocks from the hotel, Andrea insisted they let Pierre drive them. If nothing else, Miranda would at least be able to return to the car if she needed to get away.
"Remember, no one in that room knows. If you need to pretend to be happy and cheerful, no one is judging you. We all have to put on an act sometimes, okay?" Andrea said, reassuring Miranda before they stepped out.
"I know I've said it before, but thank you, Andrea," she said before opening the door and stepping out of the car.
"Miranda, you're alive!" Nigel said, running over and air kissing the editor as soon as she walked in.
"Nigel. It's been a few days hasn't it?"
"Yeah, you feeling better?"
"Much," she said. "Have the vultures started circling already?" she asked, gesturing towards Jacqueline, Karl, and Irv.
"Well, you know there was some speculation."
"I figured as much."
"By the way, you look absolutely stunning tonight," Nigel said, stepping back and taking in her appearance. "I've seen the models in that Dior cape dress, but you really bring it to life," he said.
Miranda grinned. "Maybe I should go into hiding more often," she said.
"Why didn't Stephen join you? Doesn't he usually come for the last day of Paris?"
Miranda took a deep breath. "We separated several months ago when I learned he was cheating. I've filed divorce papers."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," he said.
"Don't be. I was foolish to stay with him."
"Do you remember when he hit on Jacqueline two years ago?"
"Oh god," Miranda said, rolling her eyes. "I thought everyone forgot about that. What was it he said, 'you're like my wife but spikier'something ridiculous like that?"
Nigel started laughing, "I'm so glad you've realized you're too good for him."
Miranda and Nigel continued talking while Andrea milled about the room, saying hello to the fellow assistants and always keeping an eye on Miranda. She watched as Nigel walked Miranda through the room, stopping to chat with practically everyone. He, too, understood how important it was that she make her presence known.
They left a short while after and walked the three blocks back to the hotel. Andrea finished packing, leaving out only the clothes she would wear to the airport.
She crawled into bed beside Miranda. "I have to get up at six, do you mind?" she asked.
"Of course not. I still get eight more hours with you," Miranda said, snuggling up against the young woman.
It was clear neither of them wanted to talk about what would or wouldn't happen once they returned to New York.
"Andrea, can I ask you a question?"
"Several weeks ago you mentioned your boyfriend"
"Yes. He moved out the day before we left for Paris. But, I told you, my heart wasn't in that relationship for some time now," she said.
"The other man you mentioned. Areare you still in love with him?" Miranda asked. Andrea could feel her body tense up against her as she awaited the answer.
"I remember that conversation very well, and I distinctly recall saying 'person'that I was falling in love with another person," Andrea said.
"Oh, that's just semantics. Are you still in love with this person?"
"Yes. Even more so now," Andrea said.
Miranda stiffened and pushed away. "Yyou shouldn't be in my bed."
"Yyou should go."
"Miranda," Andrea said again, this time taking the woman's face in her hands. "It's you. You're the person I was falling in love with in New York. You're the one I am still in love with right now," she said.
Miranda gasped, opening her mouth to say something, but quickly shutting it when she couldn't find the words.
"Would it be alright if I kissed you?" Andrea asked.
Miranda nodded, and Andrea captured her lips in a passionate embrace. She was soft and tender, and Miranda wanted this moment to last forever.
When they finally parted, Andrea pressed a kiss to Miranda's forehead. She had tears streaming down her cheeks, but Andrea was not going to pressure her to talk. Not tonight. Instead, she held her close as they drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Andrea showered and dressed, knowing she would need to be at the airport much earlier than everyone else.
"Andrea, I'm coming with."
"I'm not staying here. I'm going home."
"Oh, okay. UmmI have to leave right now. I only have a standby ticket, so I need to check-in and pray that someone doesn't show up," Andrea explained.
"You didn't tell me that. Can't you call the airlines now and see if there are any empty seats?"
"Yeah, I tried that. I have to be there in person. SoI'll see you there? Is there anything I can help with?" she asked.
"Nogo. I will call Emily and have her pack up these clothes," she said with a smirk.
"Okay, so I'll see you," Andrea said.
"Wait" Miranda ran to meet Andrea in front of the door. She stood on her tiptoes and gently kissed Andrea's cheek. "Thank you for everything," she said. "We will talk more in New York, okay?"
Andrea nodded, hurrying out the door to the waiting car.
Andrea was delighted to find she was the first standby passenger to check-in. The attendant implied it was a full flight, but if anyone else was going to be getting on it, it would be her. She went through security and found the first class lounge. Flashing Miranda's card, she happily took a corner seat by the window. The others wouldn't be arriving for nearly two hours.
"Nigel," Miranda called as they headed towards the airport lounge, "I do hope you selected a more suitable cologne for this seven hour voyage?"
"Yes, Miranda. I mean, I opted to go without. I didn't want to offend you."
"Good lord, you don't think I want to smell you the entire time!" Miranda reached into her bag and pulled out a small atomizer. "Here," she said spritzing him once at the neck and once on the wrists. "J'adore. Fitting, no?"
"Um, thanks?" Nigel said, turning to the girls and giving them a confused look. "Hey," he added quietly, "you're okay, right? I mean, no terminal illness or anything?" he said, gently brushing her shoulder.
"Nothing terminal," she said. "I do appreciate your concern."
Walking into the lounge, Miranda spotted Andrea asleep in the chair in the corner. She left the others and stood in front of the young woman. How could she sleep in a public place like this? "Andrea," she called.
The young woman opened her eyes and sat up. "Miranda, hi."
"Hello. I'm sorry to interrupt your rest, but were you able to get on the flight? What will happen if you can't?" she asked, taking a seat next to her.
"Not sure yet. They won't officially assign standby until boarding begins. But I was first in line so it looks promising," she said.
"Miss Sachs?" the attendant called.
"Yes?" Andrea answered.
"You have a seat. There has been a cancelation. You'll be in boarding group 3B."
"Thank you," she said. She turned to look at Miranda. "See? Nothing to worry about."
The return flight was relatively uneventful, and Andrea slept for most of the way, grateful she wasn't sitting near any of her coworkers. When they were nearly two hours outside New York, Andrea was surprised when Miranda tapped her on the shoulder.
"Is everything okay?" Andrea asked, pulling her headphones out of her ear and jumping up.
"Yes, yes, sit," Miranda said, softly placing her hand on the young woman's shoulder. "I just wanted to come say hello," she said. "You really are in the very back of the plane aren't you?"
"Yep, second-to-last row," Andrea said, blushing. "Do you want to sit down?" she asked, unbuckling her seat belt.
"No, no, stay. It feels good to stretch out my legs," Miranda said. "Thank you again for explaining everything to Nigel the other day. I don't know how you did it, but he isn't heartbroken or disappointed, which I know he would have been had I tried to explain things."
"Oh, it was not a problem. I'm glad he's not upset," she replied.
"So," Miranda said. "Do you have anything planned this weekend when you return?"
Andrea raised an eyebrow. Was Miranda Priestly making small talk? "No, I think I'm just going to sit on my couch and watch television for two straight days," Andrea said.
"Oh, if this is what a day off instills in my staff, I might think twice next time," she said with a smile.
"How about you, Miranda? Are the girls coming over?"
"Yes. I called James on the way to the airport, and he will bring them over Sunday."
"Good. You'll have to let me know if they like their souvenirs," Andrea said.
"I'm sure they will love them," Miranda said, smiling. "I was actually wondering if you were free this eveningwell, afternoon, I suppose. Or tomorrow. I thought maybe we could"
"Yes?" Miranda repeated, her eyebrows arched in surprise.
"Yes," Andrea said. "I need to stop at home first, but let's plan on dinner, okay?"
Miranda smiled. "Thank you," she said.
"You don't have to thank meI want this," Andrea began, only to be silenced by Miranda's finger against her lips.
"Tonight. Right now, I should be getting back before Nigel comes looking for me," she said. "And I think that gentleman behind you is taking my photograph," she added in a whisper.
Andrea smiled. "Shoo, get back up to first class," Andrea said, waving the editor away.
Miranda waved and headed back to her seat.
"Nigel, what do you think about giving our Andrea a little promotion?" Miranda said when she returned. "A lateral move, really, but letting her get some experience with our editorial team as she finishes her year with us."
"I think that would be great for her, and would really help her make that step into journalism if she's still looking to do that," he said. "I know Claire has worked with her a few times and loves her."
"Yes, I was thinking of Claire, too. I will ask her as soon as we return. Andrea only has three months left anyway. She's really to intelligent to be fetching coffee and confirming appointments," Miranda said, rolling her eyes.
"But you seem to have taken a liking to her," Nigel said.
"I have. She is a very interesting young woman. She's complex, and let's face it, we don't see too many of those around Runway."
"True. Have you said anything to her yet?"
"About?" Miranda asked, suddenly flustered.
"Working with Claire ?"
"Ohh, that. No, I wanted to run it past you first. Make sure I wasn't delusional in thinking she needed something more," Miranda said, gazing out the window.
"She stayed in your suite this week, didn't she?" Nigel asked.
Miranda opened her mouth to deny the accusation, but she couldn't lie. Not to Nigel.
"Is she the first? I imagine I would have heard stories of other encounters. But really, sharing a room?"
Miranda felt her stomach clenching. She would never do that to Andrea. To any of her assistants. "Andrea stayed in the extra bedroom that was attached to my suite because there was no available space at the hotel. She was going to stay down the street, but I needed her nearby," she said. "That is the official story and that is the truth."
Nigel could see how upset she was becoming. He watched as she pressed the back of her hand to her lips and tried to calm herself. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked as he covered her hand on her knee.
She nodded, hanging her head. "Can I tell you something in confidence?"
"During the past few weeks I was sickI thought it just the flu, so I refused to see a doctor. Andrea saw the worst of it and basically dragged me to the emergency room one morning."
"Was this after the CFDA Holiday Party when we couldn't figure out where you were?"
Miranda nodded. "I found out I was ten weeks pregnant."
Nigel gasped. He looked down at her midsection then met her eyes again. She shook her head and brought her hand up to cover her mouth and stifle her tears.
"Wednesday. Forty-eight hours ago."
Nigel wrapped his arms around his friend. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't say it. I still can't."
"And Andrea was there with you?" he asked.
Miranda nodded. "I think I'm going to take the next few weeks off," she said.
"Of course. If there's anything I can do, please let me know."
"Just knowing I don't have to pretend with youit helps," she said, leaning her head against his shoulder.
Around four o'clock, Andrea took a cab over to Miranda's. Their flight had landed several hours earlier, and Andrea had spent that time showering, washing a load of whites, and taking half of her suitcase to the dry cleaners. Tonight, she wasn't sure what to expect, so she tucked her toothbrush and clean underwear down at the bottom of her bag. Just in case.
Andrea climbed the townhouse steps and rang the bell. After the third time, Miranda finally came to unlock the door, ushering her inside.
"So, did you want to order in tonight, or maybe go somewhere for a quiet dinner?" Andrea asked.
"Where would we go?"
"I was thinking somewhere like Max's. It's close, nothing too fancy, and usually pretty empty on Friday nights," Andrea said. "Do you feel up to it?"
"Yes, I'm starving."
At the restaurantwhich was more of a lounge than a restaurantMiranda selected a booth in the corner. There were only a few other tables, but there was a young woman playing the piano in the corner. "This is lovely," Miranda said.
"I'm ordering the Fromages Frits as an appetizer," Andrea said, "but I will not share the aged cheddar one. It is to die for."
Miranda smiled. "We'll see about that."
They made small talk while they waited for their food. Miranda explained that she had spoken to Nigel about having her position shifted to editorial.
"So, I won't see you everyday?" she said, pouting as she sipped on her wine.
"Well, you may not see me in the office everyday, but I do hope we can still see each other outside work," Miranda said. "You must understand that I cannot continue to do this if you work directly for me."
"I know. Thank you for thinking of me, too. I mean, you know I love my job right now, but I would also appreciate the experience with editorial."
Their dinner arrived and they ate in companionable silence. It was only five o'clock, but certainly felt like it was much later. Andrea wasn't sure how much longer she could keep her eyes open.
When the server cleared their plates, they sat in silence, finishing what was their second bottle of wine. Miranda moved closer, so she was sitting next to Andrea. She reached down and took her hand.
"You have been my rock this past week. I don't"
"Shhh," Andrea said, interrupting her. "I like this song."
Miranda turned her attention to the piano, where the woman was playing a beautiful rendition of Adele's "Make you feel my love." It was all a little too much for her. She couldn't help the tears streaming down her cheeks.
Andrea slipped her finger under Miranda's chin, gently turning it towards her. She softly captured the woman's lips in her own, lightly sucking before pulling away.
Miranda was breathless. She gazed up at Andrea's deep brown eyes and now recognized the desire she saw.
"II" she stammered, grabbing her coat and bag as she tried to get out of the booth. "I just need" she said, looking back and meeting the sad expression in Andrea's eyes. She glanced at the table and realized they hadn't even paid yet. Fumbling with her purse, Miranda tried to pull out some bills, but her fingers were too shaky.
"I've got it," Andrea said quietly, "go on."
Miranda bit her lip as she clasped her bag tight, practically running out the door.
Andrea wasn't sure what just happened. Miranda was acting almost as if she had just received terrible news. Was it something I said? Andrea couldn't help but wonder.
The server quickly appeared after seeing Miranda leave in a fluster. Andrea handed him her debit card and put her jacket on. Quickly signing the bill, she headed out the door in search of the unpredictable woman.
Miranda felt her heart beating out of her chest. Her mind was fighting her body and she felt like she was spinning out of control. She sat on the nearest bench, taking deep breaths until she felt her heart calm down.
Andrea spotted her right away. Seeing she was safe, she relaxed and took her time walking to the bench. Miranda's eyes were closed. Andrea picked up her coat from the bench beside her and draped it over the woman's shoulders before sitting several feet away from her on the opposite end of the bench.
"I'm sorry," Miranda said without looking up, "I'm ruining everything."
"No, no, no. You're not," Andrea said, looking down at her hands in her lap. "It doesn't matter to me. I still love you," she said.
Miranda looked up and wiped the tears from her face. "Whwhat did you say?"
Andrea smiled. She didn't really mean to say those words then and there, though they had been on the tip of her tongue for at least a week if not longer. She had nothing to wait for. "I said that it doesn't matter, that I still love you. I love you, Miranda."
Miranda shook her head and clasped her hand over her mouth. "Really?"
"Yes, really," Andrea said, chuckling. "You're crazy and smart and funny and incredibly sexy how could I not?"
"But I'm old and demanding" she said, sniffling, "and insecure. And I cry a lot."
"Who admits to being insecure? See, thisright hereis why I love you. Every time I want to roll my eyes or call you insane, you surprise me. You're mesmerizing, you know," she said, standing and walking around the bench. "I remember not too long ago when I could only dream of doing something as simple as holding your hand. Of asking you a question, for god's sake. But everything has happened so fast, Miranda."
Andrea sat back down, this time a little closer to the editor. "I have no idea what's going through your head anymore. Not that I could read your mind before, but I did know how to read your body language, your tone of voice, your eyes when you let me. Now, I don't know if it's because we're not at work or what, but I just have no fucking clue what's going through your mind and I'm more terrified sitting next to you here than I was that first day I delivered the book," she said.
Miranda turned her head and looked at Andrea with a raised eyebrow.
"Okay, that was actually really terrifying. This is close, but definitely not that," she said, shaking her head.
"Andrea," she said, continuing to look at the woman beside her. "I will only say this once. It feels like I don't know what is going on in my own head anymore either. My body feels foreign to me, like it's betrayed me, failed me. When I am sitting here talking to you, I can't feel my own presence. I'm numb. And I'm scared because I have never felt like this before," she said, blinking slowly, then fixing her gaze at the ground. "I want you, Andrea, I do. I spent so many evenings at the office daydreaming and now, the thought makes me queasy. What will happen when you realize I'm not good enough? When I can't shake this numbness? What then will you do? Leave me like the others?"
"Miranda" Andrea began, reaching her hand out towards the woman's shoulder.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" Miranda screamed, jumping up and pacing next to the bench. She held her fist to her mouth to stifle her cries. "II can't," she whispered.
Andrea stood and approached the woman, carefully keeping her distance. "Miranda, let me see you home," Andrea said quietly.
No response was needed. They walked the four and a half blocks back to the townhouse in silence. Andrea knew it was going to be hard, but had no idea it would be like this. She followed Miranda into the house. They had not made eye contact since they left the bench outside the restaurant. Quite honestly, she was surprised Miranda even let her inside.
The lights were off inside, and Miranda didn't bother turning them on. Instead, she marched directly upstairs and out of sight.
For a few minutes, Andrea stood there in the foyer. If I don't help Miranda She couldn't let her mind finish the thought as she climbed the stairs to find the other woman.
Andrea peered into the darkness. As her eyes adjusted, she made out the figure of a woman lying on the bed. Walking closer, she joined Miranda on the bed.
"Go away," Miranda insisted.
"Please trust me," Andrea said, gently wrapping her up in her arms. "I won't hurt youI won't leave you," she continued, kissing her forehead. "I know it's hard right now. I can't say I know what you're feeling because I don't. But I know you're scared. I'm scared, too. Scared of losing you."
Miranda reached up and brushed Andrea's cheek. "Will you stay?" she asked quietly.
"Yes, of course. No matter what," she said.
"I love you," Miranda whispered.
"Good morning," Andrea said sweetly as she walked over to the window to open the blinds. It was a cold morning. Despite its late hour, the warmth of the sun still hadn't a chance to melt away the frost clouding the corners of the window.
Miranda sat up and ran her fingers through her hair as her eyes adjusted to the light. Andrea stepped closer and handed her a mug of extra hot coffee, which she readily accepted.
"Did you sleep okay?" Andrea asked.
Miranda mulled over the question as she took another long sip of her coffee. Her eyes darted over to the other side of the bed.
"I woke up at 7:30 and couldn't fall back asleep," she explained, sensing the other woman's confusion. "I guess I'm still on Paris time or something. I was fidgeting and didn't want to disturb you, so I took a shower in the guest room, and also ran your things to the dry cleaners."
Miranda took another sip of coffee, then handed the mug back. "Wh-what time is it?" she asked, surprised at the hoarseness of her own voice.
"Twelve thirty," Andrea said with a smile. "Saturday afternoon."
Miranda's eyes widened, and she ran her fingers through her hair.
Andrea set the mug of coffee on a coaster on the nightstand, then sat on the edge of the bed. She reached for Miranda's hand. "About last night"
"I'm sorry about last night. I think I'm still trying to process everything," she said.
Andrea squeezed her hand.
"I meant it, you know. I wasn't just saying it," Miranda said quietly. "At the restaurant, before that Dylan song came on, I was trying to tell you. You have been so supportive through all of thisunquestionably so. You have been patient and kind, no matter what comes out of my mouth. But that doesn't give me the right to treat you as I did yesterday."
"It's okay, I understand, really. I won't lie to youit's been really difficult keeping it together around you," Andrea said. "My heart aches for you, and I wish you would stop trying to push me away. Watching you like this makes me want to cry, Miranda," she said, wiping away her tears with her free hand.
"Darling, I'm trying. I am," Miranda said, pulling the young woman into her arms. She brushed her hair back and softly stroked her shoulder, pressing kisses to her forehead. "Do you know when I knew?"
Andrea looked up at her through red, puffy eyes.
"The last night in Paris. You told me I was the one you were talking about when you confessed to being in love with someone else. Until then, I really thought you were just taking care of me as an extension of your jobproviding me with assistance because I paid you to."
"Oh, Miranda, I could never"
"Shh, I know that now," she said. She held the woman in her arms a while longer, feeling her chest rise and fall in sync with her own. Miranda hooked her finger gently under Andrea's chin, tilting her head upwards. Her eyes fluttered closed as she leaned in closer. Her lips lingering precariously before the young woman's.
"I love you," Miranda said, gently caressing her lips with her hot breath.
Andrea yelped as Miranda bit down on her lower lip. Andrea snaked her hands up so they were cupping her face. She pulled away just for a moment, needing to know Miranda wasn't just doing this to avoid conversation or because she felt pressured. What she saw was the most beautiful sight in the worldsomething she hadn't even realized she missed.
Miranda Priestly was smiling.
And it wasn't her 'Oh so-and-so, lovely to see you' smile. It was genuine. Not wanting to waste any more time, Andrea quickly climbed onto the bed, pushing Miranda back into the pillows. She ran her fingers through the woman's silvery locks, delighting in the way Miranda was squirming beneath her as she kissed her.
Miranda's hands slipped underneath Andrea's sweater, caressing the skin as she continued upwards, cupping her breasts through the lacy bra. As she kneaded, squeezed, and pinched the young woman, she felt her hands leave her hair, traveling down her arms, down to her waist. Miranda was wearing a spaghetti-strap silk and lace nightgown. Andrea was wearing far too many clothes.
"Up," Miranda said, pushing the young woman's lips away from her neck.
"Wha?" Andrea asked, confused as to why she was now standing next to the bed.
Miranda crawled out from under the covers and kneeled on the bed, reaching up and kissing Andrea. "Off," she said, tugging at Andrea's sweater.
Andrea complied, and Miranda quickly freed her breasts, hungrily taking her nipple in her mouth.
"Oh god, Miranda that's so hot," Andrea said, panting.
With her lips affixed to the brunette's breast, she snaked her hands along her ribcage, tugging at the offending denim.
"I thought you liked these jeans," Andrea said.
Miranda pulled away just far enough. "Off," she said, her hot breath assaulting Andrea's nipple and sending a shiver through her very core.
Andrea quickly complied, pushing her jeans and underwear to the floor. Two weeks ago, the thought of standing completely naked in front of Miranda Priestly terrified her. But today, seeing the raw desire in Miranda's deep blue eyes, she wanted nothing more than to ravish the editor.
Miranda offered her hand and Andrea climbed up on the bed, running her hands up and down the smooth silk encasing the older woman's body.
"Oh Andrea," Miranda sighed, running her hands all over the woman's body, kissing, licking, and nibbling as she made her way lower, slowly pushing Andrea back into the covers. Her hand hovered over Andrea's slick curls and she could feel the heat radiating from her body.
"Please," Andrea gasped, "I'm so close."
Miranda plunged her fingers into the wet folds and watched, mesmerized, as Andrea writhed beneath her. The young woman's staccatoed breathing filled the room, and Miranda gasped as she felt her muscles clench, sucking her fingers deeper inside. She watched in amazement as the young woman responded so intimately to her touch.
As Andrea recovered, Miranda slipped her fingers out, wiping them on her nightgown before cuddling next to the young woman.
Andrea softly kissed Miranda's shoulder as she toyed with the thin silk strap. "Can I see you?" she asked.
Miranda leaned back and tried to figure out what she was talking about. Then, she felt Andrea tugging at her strap with her teeth. "Fuck," she hissed, arching into the other woman.
Andrea's hands quickly took to sliding the silk dress up and over her head. "So beautiful," she whispered, pressing her lips to the woman's breasts.
"Ohhh!" Miranda cried, arching into Andrea's lips. Suddenly she was panting. She felt her abdominal muscles clench tightly beneath Andrea's touch. She gasped as the contractions of her muscles took her breath away. Releasing her breath with a chuff, she felt Andrea's fingers brush gently across her aching bud. "Ohh-uggh!" she said.
"Is this okay?" Andrea asked. "I mean, with the surgery?"
Miranda nodded, as she was holding her breath. "Uggh!" she grunted. "Yesjust notinside," she said, again sucking the air back into her lungs.
Andrea pressed her palm against Miranda's core, and watched as the woman's orgasm took over her body with its rhythm. Gaspholdchuff! Gaspholdaaarugggghhh!
Miranda took several deep breaths. She could feel the perspiration along her hairline, not to mention the stickiness between her thighs. Looking to her side, she saw Andrea gazing down lovingly at her. Smiling, she turned towards her and pressed a sloppy kiss on her lips.
"I had no idea how much I needed that," Miranda said.
"Mmm, that was amazing," Andrea said. "I love you."
"And I love you."
Andrea slid her hand down Miranda's side, over her ribs, the swell of her hips. Something about a naked Miranda Priestly was so, so taboo, she couldn't help herself. But looking down, she stopped dead in her tracks.
"Uh, Miranda, this is probably the worst time to say this, but you need to call the doctor," Andrea said, pulling her hands away.
"Why?" Miranda said with a chuckle.
Andrea nervously knocked on the bathroom door. "Miranda? Are you okay? Please unlock this door," she said.
It had been nearly an hour. Miranda ran to the bathroom the second Andrea said something.
"Please, Miranda," Andrea called again, slumping to the floor against the door. While Miranda was showering, she managed to get herself dressed and change the bedding. Now, with nothing else to do but worry and wait, she reached for her phone and began to search the web. She knew she could threaten to call an ambulance, but she decided to wait this one out. Most of what she was reading online seemed to imply that it was common for women to bleed after post-D&C orgasms, even if their bleeding had already stopped.
"Miranda," she repeated. "At least tell me you're physically okay. Everything I'm seeing online says that the bleeding is nothing to worry about, but I need to make sure it's not more than that. I can call and see if Dr. Vaughn can come to the house if you'd like. Or if you would rather me just leave..."
"No," she said, her voice muffled by the door. "I am okay and I do not want you to leave," she said. "Can you get me a pad?"
Shit. Andrea quickly ran over to Miranda's suitcase. She started emptying it earlier, and had noticed the pads were still packed. "Okay, I'm going to set them right here outside the door, then I'm going to go find something to eat in the kitchenis that okay?"
Sighing, Andrea headed downstairs and began making a salad. Two minutes later, Miranda joined her.
"I'm sorry," she said, taking a seat at the counter. "I told you, I'm ruining everything."
Andrea set the knife on the cutting board and walked over to the other side of the counter. The tomatoes could wait.
"This is not your fault," Andrea said, trying to reassure her. "We had a wonderful afternoon, and more than anything I am happy that you are okay." She stood behind her and wrapped her arms around the woman from behind.
"I know that it's not my fault, but I still feel bad and then I feel even worse for feeling bad that I wanted to pretend it never happened. Vicious cycle," she said.
"What if our positions were reversed? If something happened to me. What would you say to me?"
"Oh, don't be ridiculous. It's not the same."
"Okay. Let's pretend for a second. Say when I went back to my apartment my ex-boyfriend was there and he hit me. When I came here, my lip was bleeding. But then it stopped and we kissed. And then it was bleeding again. Hypothetically, what would you do?" Andrea asked.
Miranda took a deep breath. "I would get you ice. And make sure you were okay. And I'd probably call the police," she said.
Andrea could feel the older woman relaxing into her arms. "Okay, well it's hypothetical so let's leave the police out. What would you say to me if I apologized over and over for ruining things?"
Miranda paused before answering. Damn this girl for knowing me so well. "I would do exactly as you did. I would try to reassure you that you weren't at fault. I would probably try to break down that door if you locked yourself in the bathroom," Miranda said.
Andrea smiled and pressed her lips to Miranda's neck.
"Wait," Miranda said, tensing up and leaning forward. "I want to wait until I see Dr. Vaughn for my follow-up. Is that okay?"
"Of course, let me finish making the salad, then," Andrea said. She softly squeezed Miranda's shoulders as she made her way around, resuming her chopping as Miranda looked on.
The rest of their evening had been uneventful. Miranda finished unpacking while Andrea spent some time digging through past issues of Runway, focusing on Claire's perspective. Miranda again asked her to stay the night.
The next morning, Miranda woke to find she was draped over the young woman's body. peeling herself away from her, she checked her phone and saw it was already 8:30 AM.
"Andrea, get up," she said, gently shaking the young woman. "James is bringing the girls by in thirty minutes," she said, rushing to get ready.
"Can I borrow some clothes?" Andrea asked. Miranda was brushing her teeth, so she nodded and pointed towards the closet. "Okay, I'm going to slip out before they get here. Call me later," she said.
"What? No. Stay here, at least until we give them their souvenirs," Miranda said as she curled her hair.
"I thought you would want some alone time with them."
"I do. I mean, I think I do. I'm a little worried I won't know what to tell them."
"Have you thought about telling them the truth? They are ten years old, you know," Andrea said.
"Yes, I have thought about it. I told Nigel, you know."
"Oh, uh, when?"
"On the plane. It felt really good," Miranda said, applying her eyeshadow.
"That's great, Miranda. I think talking about it is a good idea, you know. I think it will help you to heal quicker in the long run."
"Perhaps. I still haven't told the girls about the divorce, though. It might be too much."
"Play it by ear," Andrea suggested.
Miranda finished her mascara and stepped out of the bathroom. "I don't know that they will understand why I am divorcing Stephen if I was going to have a baby with him."
Just then the doorbell rang and the two women hurried downstairs, Andrea heading to the kitchen to prepare some much-needed coffee.
"Mooooom!" they cried, rushing to hug her and nearly toppling her over in the foyer.
Miranda pressed kisses to their cheeks over and over as she held them close. This felt so good.
"Hi Miranda," James said. "I'll leave you three to yourselves and be back to pick the girls up around five if that's okay."
"Would you like a cup of coffee?" Andrea asked, interrupting. "Hi, I'm Andrea, Miranda's assistant. I believe we've spoken on the phone several times, nice to meet you," she said, extending her hand.
James's eyes darted from Andrea to Miranda, then back to Andrea. "Likewise," he said, "and some coffee would be nice, actually."
The group moved into the den. Miranda sat on the couch with the girls who would not leave her side, and James sat on the loveseat. Andrea brought two mugs of coffee, plus two glasses of orange juice for the girls and set them on the table.
"Andrea, will you bring the girls' gifts down from their rooms?" Miranda asked.
Andrea nodded and headed back upstairs.
Miranda turned to James while the girls eagerly drank the offered orange juice. "Thank you for taking care of my babies while I was sick," Miranda said as tears welled up in her eyes. "You have no idea how grateful I am."
James reached out and took Miranda's hand. "What was going on? I was worried. Is everything okay?"
"It is now. It will be."
"What does that mean? Are you still sick?" he asked.
Miranda took a deep breath. "I had a miscarriage last week," she whispered, glancing over at the girls.
James's eyes widened. "Stephen's?" he mouthed.
Miranda rolled her eyes. Only her first ex-husband could ask her that and live to see the day. "Yes. But I signed the divorce papers," she said, reaching for her coffee.
"Well, it's about time," he said. "So wait, is that why you weren't feeling well?"
"Yes," she said, a half-smile on her face. "Can you believe it?"
"Mira, I'm so sorry. I know you often thought about having more kids, and I can't imagine how difficult this has been."
She smiled. James knew her very well. "Mom?" Cassidy said, climbing into her lap. "Are you having another baby?"
Miranda's eyes widened. She turned to James, then Andrea who was standing in the doorway.
"Okay, girls! We have some unclaimed presents here from Paris " she said, distracting them. "Mademoiselle Cassidy, I believe this one is for you, and Mademoiselle Caroline, this is yours."
"Thanks, Andy!!" they said, hugging her as they took their bags and sat on the floor digging through everything.
"Now, your mom of course has some very fashionable clothes to give you, too, but she wanted to get you some stuffsouvenirsthat you would each really enjoy," Andrea said.
"No freaking way. This is so cool!" Cassidy said, examining the leather journal.
"Mom! You found the stuff about the Hippopotamus Hunt! You remembered!" Caroline exclaimed.
Miranda smiled. "Of course I remembered, darling."
"Thanks, Mom," they both said, running over and hugging her tightly. "So, are you going to have a baby? Isn't that what you were talking to Dad about?" Cassidy asked again.
Miranda looked over at James and he nodded. "Tell them," he said quietly.
"Come here, both of you," Miranda said as her daughters piled on her lap. "You two know I love you very much. Well, I have so much love in my heart I thought that maybe I would share it with a little brother or sister for you," she said, her voice crackling. "But that didn't work out, so now I have to share all this love with just the two of you."
"Is that why you were sick and sent us to Dad's?" Caroline asked.
"Yes, Bobbsey," Miranda said, smoothing out her hair.
"So the baby was sick and that's why you were sick? That's why it died?" Caroline asked.
Andrea was still hovering in the doorway, and she saw Miranda tense up at this question. She knew there was no way Miranda would feel comfortable blaming anything other than herself for that. Just as she was about to step in, James did.
"Honey, sometimes babies just aren't meant to be," he said.
"Did it hurt the baby?" Cassidy asked.
"No, Cassie," James said. "The baby was so so so so small it couldn't even feel anything yet."
"Who was its daddy?" Caroline asked. "Was it Stephen?"
"Yes, darling. But Stephen made Mommy sad, so he isn't living with us anymore, okay?" Miranda asked.
"Are you getting divorced?" Cassidy asked.
"Yes," Miranda said. "I have missed you two so much, do you know that? I just want to hug you and kiss you all day long," she said, causing the girls to giggle.
"But I need to talk to your dad for a second before he goes, so why don't you take your things up to your rooms," she said.
"Okay," they said, packing their trinkets back into their bags and heading towards the stairs.
Miranda turned to James, but Cassidy came running back, throwing her arms around Miranda and squeezing her tight. "Ooof, Cass, baby, are you okay?"
"Yep. Just wanted to hug you again," she said, turning and heading back upstairs.
Miranda sighed as she slumped back against the couch. "Oh my god, the questions those children ask," she said, shaking her head.
"Mira, thank you for letting me be here when you talked to them. I think it helps when they see us together like this, you know, almost like friends," he said.
"I agree," Miranda said. "Now, I am going to check up on them. I fully intend to give them my full attention today," she said, standing from the couch. "Thank you again, James," she said, hugging him softly as she showed him out the door.
Once she locked the door, she leaned forward, trying to straighten out her thoughts.
"Hey," Andrea said, snaking her arms around the woman. "That went wellhow are you holding up?"
Miranda turned around in her arms. "Yeah. I'm good. Will you stay a while longer? I want you to come get to know them better," she said.
"Sure. I mean, I don't want to intrude."
"You wouldn't be. There are two of them and only one of meI could use the help," she said. "Shall we?"
Andrea nodded, following her upstairs to the study, the girls' favorite place in the house.
"Bobbseys, you remember Andrea, right?"
"Uh, yeah. She helped me on that Solar System project last year!" Caroline said. "And she helped me with History a few times this year, too."
Cassidy elbowed her sister. "She also got us Harry Potter that time we had to take the train alone to Grandma's," she said.
"Well, I know you know who she is, but Andrea has become one of Mommy's good friends, and I asked her to stick around for a little while today, is that okay?"
"Sure!" Caroline said, taking Andrea's hand and pulling her over to the loveseat. "Let me show you how cool this book is that Mom got me from Paris," she said.
Andrea smiled and settled in, letting the young girl sit on her lap. Miranda was not surprised when Cassidy took up a similar position in her own lap, but with her journal and pencil instead.
Miranda wrapped her arms snugly around the young redhead, inhaling the smell of her shampoo. "My baby, I love you so much," she whispered.
"I love you, too, Mom," Cassidy said, turning and wrapping her arms around Miranda's neck. "You know how you said you had a lot of extra love in your heart?" she whispered.
"Yes, baby," Miranda replied, unsure of where she was going with it.
"Well, I was just thinking that since there's no baby brother or sister to share with, we could share with Andy," she said.
Miranda leaned back and looked into her daughter's eyes. "Share what, Cass?"
"You, your love. Do you think she'd be okay sharing with us?"
Tears filled Miranda's eyes as she hugged her daughter tightly. "Yes, I do, I think she would like that very much," she said.
Return to The Devil Wears Prada Fiction
Return to Main Page