DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Weakness In Me
By Cath


Chapter 1

The girl was driving her mad, insane, to the brink. Really, did she have to look at her with those adoring eyes? The girl had been driving her to distraction since the first moment she walked into her office, oblivious, innocent even, to the world she had just entered. She couldn't treat her any differently than all the other Emily, Jessica, Susie's that had gone before her.

Yet … how she so desperately wanted to. Those enchanting doe brown eyes. Those eyes, that looked at her like a wounded puppy when she snapped at her over some minor mistake. Didn't she realise she had to, she had to protect both of them. It could not be known that Miranda Priestly 'Ice Queen' had melted, was a puddle of goo when it came to Andrea Sachs.

Those eyes that looked at her like anything she wanted was possible. She continued to give her a list of things to do, others before her had balked at the expectation. ... but oh no, not Andrea. Andrea had made it her purpose to ensure that each and every whim was met. Over time the list had become predictable. Andrea anticipated her needs before she even knew she had them. This would not do. Recently she had begun to throw in the unusual, the unexpected. Andrea initially seemed to halt, then recovered her balance. Her momentum continuing without consideration of failure.

Paris was the closest she had come to revealing herself. That moment Andrea had walked away was the most painful experience she had ever had to endure. Those eyes had looked wounded and betrayed. Those eyes that had sparkled with merriment when sharing a joke with Nigel in the office. Those eyes that used to glint with mischievousness when she anticipated what was necessary and had met the demand without being asked. Those eyes were bruised because of something she had done. She had nearly chased her. Miranda Priestly did not chase anybody, insanity that's what it was.

Then Andrea had come to her hotel room. She had to admire the nerve it had taken to face her so soon. It had taken Miranda a moment to recover from the surprise of seeing Andy at the door. She had seen such genuine regret in her eyes. She had accepted the apology for what it was, heartfelt. It was her own response to the look that had disconcerted her most. She had felt it to her core and while the abandonment had been agonising she was helpless to refuse the apology. To this end she had refused to acknowledge it and had pretended all was as before. But she knew it wasn't and never would be again. The girl had the ability to wound her more than anyone had before.

That realisation had nearly been her undoing. Those eyes were the link to her greatest weakness. No-one could know. It would not do. She would not have it.

Andy rolled over completely unaware she was the focus of such insistent thoughts across the city. She groaned after looking at her alarm clock. It was Monday morning already, how had that happened.

She had spent her Sunday lounging around her apartment. Wearing her favourite pair of baggy trousers and a t-shirt that was almost translucent she had worn it so much. It always made her feel rebellious on a Sunday to wear her baggy clothes. It was such a change after spending the week dressed up to fit in with the others at Runway. The make-over Nigel had helped her with a few weeks into her new job had stuck. She really enjoyed the less insulting glare Miranda gave her when she walked into the office and threw her coat at her. She had even managed to become comfortable wearing her new clothes and could put together a 'snazzy little outfit', as Nigel referred to them, in the blink of an eye. They allowed her a certain confidence in her day to day activities she had not originally expected.

Sundays were spent planning her week, anticipating every detail and meeting every possible Miranda wish. She had really started to enjoy her job about two months in. Emily had always set her up as the sacrificial lamb in the office. So she had started anticipating all the possible variables that could come up over the next week so she could be one step ahead. This had become her Sunday ritual. She was content in a way she had never thought possible when all she could do for Miranda was done. It had become somewhat of a game to her, trying to outsmart Emily and meet Miranda's every need. If she occasionally thought about Miranda's desires as well, that was normal, wasn't it?

The last year had been a definite growing experience for her. Almost a year ago today she had blindly walked into Runway offices and had succeeded in getting the job as second assistant. She knew next to nothing about fashion and what's more didn't really care. Yes she could appreciate a nice outfit, but that was as far it went. Did she know who made it? No. Did she know if it was this seasons or last seasons? No. She couldn't even say what decade it was from, never mind the season! But while that was the case she no longer thought fashion irrelevant.

Last year she had been clueless, blind even. She had not appreciated how she was living a life expected of her. Nate had been a good friend, someone she could spend time with, laugh with. So when people had started asking about boyfriends he had been the obvious choice. He was interested in her, had similar pastimes and could cook. She thought love would come. Thought that the want she had read about and heard about would come eventually. It never did. Her relationship with him went unchallenged. No-one else had inspired that want she had heard about. No-one else had made her love or lust after them without reason. No-one ..... until almost a year ago.

Last year she had good friends like Nate, Doug and Lily. Every weekend they had gone out. First it was dinner, then the pub for a couple of drinks before they went dancing. Any variety had come in the meal she ordered or the club they went to. Sometimes she had ordered chicken, other times steak. Sometimes they went out to a club where Doug could meet someone, other times they went out to find someone for Lily. They laughed, they drank and they went home. They had followed the same routine week after week. She couldn't see past the routine and the predictability. She had never thought to try ..... not until almost a year ago.

Yes, life had definitely taken a turn almost a year ago. But she was happy now, content in a way she had never considered before walking into Runway. When she remembered this she didn't think about Nate, now living in Boston in his new job and new girlfriend. She didn't think about Doug and Lily who she still saw very occasionally. She didn't think about her job as joint first assistant to Miranda Priestly of Runway. What she thought about were ice blue eyes that could see through her, into her and could arrest all her attention without even trying to. Yes cool ice blue eyes.

Beep… Beep…Beep…

Oh shit her alarm, time for Monday to begin.


Chapter 2

Andy jumped out of bed, had a quick shower and put on the clothes she had laid out the previous night. Before she ran out the door she had time for a quick breakfast of toast and coffee that were ready as she had set the timers. Her morning routine took a total of 15 minutes, unless Miranda called early, then she could reduce it to 5 minutes.

'Good morning' Andy breathed out to Nigel and Emily talking at Emily's desk, as she passed by with Miranda's hot latte from Starbucks. There had been delays in the subway and Andy had been forced to get off a stop early and race down the block to ensure she was there before Miranda. Miranda did not take kindly to having to wait for her coffee.

'Maybe it was, but it's not going to stay that way.' Nigel said with a smirk on his face. 'Roy just called and raised the warning that she's in a particularly foul mood today. Such a shame I'm out at the shoot all day and will miss her' the smirk still firmly in place.

At that moment the lift arrived and in walked Miranda.

'Do you not have anything worthwhile to do Nigel, or do you plan to spend your last day gossiping?' Miranda asked, giving Nigel the cutting glare that said she didn't expect or want a response. Nigel knew that tone and knew that if he didn't want it to be his last day he needed to get out of there immediately.

'Just heading out now' Nigel squeaked as he bolted for the lift.

Andy and Emily tried desperately to hide their smiles from Miranda. It didn't really matter though, as Miranda didn't even glance at them after dropping her coat and bag in the general vicinity of Andy. Andy caught them in desperation before they hit the floor. She had heard the horror stories of one of her predecessors who failed to catch them. The poor girl had to face the wrath of Miranda, who had spoken at her, Miranda never yelled, for a full five minutes as she shook in terror. After five minutes the girl had been told she had one minute to leave the building and never come back or else. No-one ever found out what the 'or else' was, as the girl had fled the building never to be seen or heard from again.

Andy returned to her desk and started working on the preparations necessary for Fashion Week season. Admittedly, it was in January but everything had to be perfect and planned to the last minute. Silence reigned for a few hours, only interrupted by the occasional phone call and a couple of people walking through who had been summoned by Miranda.

'Emily' was heard from the interior office shortly after she returned from lunch. Andy sat in anticipation for Emily to return to her desk.

Three minutes later Emily returned to her desk with a glazed look on her face. After five minutes silence Andy cleared her throat hoping to bring Emily back to the present. Inactivity was quickly noted by Miranda who in turn would let her displeasure be known. Emily with a shocked look in her eyes turned to Andy,

'I'm finished, she's sending me to London Runway'. Andy wasn't sure if this was good news or not. She knew Emily missed her family and friends in England and had spoken about them longingly. She also knew that Emily had resented her place as joint first assistant since her return from Paris earlier in the month.

Emily had never quite forgiven Andy for going to Paris or for appearing to have gained Miranda's favour. However their relationship had improved slightly over the last couple of weeks. Andy assumed it was because they had no choice. It was imperative for them both to attend to Miranda's instructions and necessity had made them work together. It would not have done for Miranda's left and right hand not to speak as it would have meant both their jobs. They had fallen into a pattern. Miranda had made it very clear, on their return from Paris, that she expected Andy to accompany her to most of her meetings and that Emily had to do a lot of the follow up and scheduling. One would not work without the other feeding into it.

'I can't believe it' came from across the office focusing Andy again. 'I just can't believe it, I'm going to London'. Emily had begun to smile. Within the Runway network, and beyond, it was understood that if you lasted two years as Miranda's assistant and got a passable reference you could walk into any department you wanted. Even though Emily had made her a target and scapegoat when she first started and had been mean to her when she returned from Paris, Andy recognised that Emily had done her best for Miranda while she worked for her. This allowed Andy to forgive the rest and be pleased for her.


Andy immediately jumped up and went into Miranda, notebook at the ready.

'Have you found a replacement yet?' Andy just looked at her. She was captured by the eyes looking into her. Her mind went blank all she could do was look into those eyes. Damn why did this keep happening?

'Not yet, I had the CV's sent up to me from HR last week and have short listed them, would you like to see them?' Miranda looked at her without any expression on her face.

'I will meet your final choice tomorrow afternoon, make sure they're not completely incompetent.'

'Yes Miranda', Miranda turned her attention to the paperwork in front of her clearly dismissing Andy.

Andy went back to her desk and read through the CV's one more time. She was having difficulty deciding on someone. She felt torn, she wanted to ensure that everything got done perfectly for Miranda. But at the same time a she was self aware enough to know she did not want someone to come in and take her place. Andy was disconcerted by this feeling.

Why should it matter, was this not what was supposed to happen. She would now employ a second assistant, train them in and this time next year she would be the one changing job. Andy's stomach dropped, as it did every time she thought about this. Why did this matter so much anyway? It was only a job, a stepping stone to her future. So she would be replaced, that was a good thing. By completing her time with Miranda she would achieve something only a limited number of people had. She should be happy at the prospect. Just as Emily was happy. Yes Emily was definitely happy. The shock had worn off and she was positively beaming. Andy bet if she turned off the lights there would be a glow around Emily. She would be happy at the prospect she told herself sternly. Her stomach was slow to respond to her determination.

The world was filled with incompetent fools. Miranda had started the day delayed as the chauffeur expected to pick up Cassidy and Caroline to bring them to school had the cheek to be five minutes late. The reason, his wife had a baby the previous night. Really, could he not forward plan sufficiently to have a replacement ready so there would be no delay in bringing her children to school. This meant that she was delayed by five minutes as she had promised the children she would stay with them in the mornings until they left for school.

This was all part of her new attempt to be part of their lives since Stephen, the sniveling idiot had said he wanted a divorce. When she had told the children Stephen would no longer be living with them, the only question they had asked was if it meant they would see her more? They had looked so hopeful, their faces alight with the possibility she could not say no. However, it had forced her to acknowledge that Stephen was not the reason she had not seen them. One of the reasons Stephen wanted to divorce was because they never saw each other.

When they had talked in Paris during fashion week, Stephen had challenged her to name the last time they had eaten a meal together. She was startled to find that she could not remember. Stephen just wasn't worth the effort, he was a pleasant enough man if unremarkable. This had lead to some careful consideration. She decided Cassidy and Caroline were definitely worth the effort. Therefore she had sat down with them and they had drawn up a timetable.

She had agreed to be there every morning until they left for school. This was acceptable as she could still be at Runway for 8am. They would be collected after school by Cara and she would make sure she had at least three meals with them during the week. On those evenings she would let them sit with her in her office after dinner as they did their homework and she reviewed e-mails and the book when it arrived. She had also agreed to make time available on every second Sunday, when they were not with their father, to do a family activity. So far this timetable had not greatly inconvenienced her until this idiot showed up five minutes late.

Then Roy, her chauffeur, had got them stuck in traffic. Seriously was he incapable of understanding the traffic reports on the radio and planning a suitable route. When she arrived at Runway Nigel was standing their gossiping with Emily, Andrea had obviously just arrived as she was only approaching her desk.

'Do you not have anything worthwhile to do Nigel, or do you plan to spend your last day gossiping?' seriously he should be setting an example of hard work not standing around, if he was unable to achieve this she would have to make her message very clear.

'Just heading out now' was Nigel's squeaked response as he responded immediately. This was followed by a morning of people coming to present substandard pieces of work for the next edition. Really did they think she didn't have enough to do already that they expected her to do their job too. Idiots, what was she paying them for?

This afternoon it was necessary to speak to Emily to inform her she was going to be moved to London.

Emily had stood there looking like one of those ridiculous bass fish with her mouth hanging open like this was a surprise. Really did she not keep track of dates, it was her start date after all. She stood there apparently frozen to the spot. Miranda did not have time for this.

'Emily!' she said sharply making it quite clear she was to respond immediately.

'Tha … tha… thank you' was the drivel that spew forth.

'That's all', with this Emily thankfully left the office. Miranda fired off a quick e-mail to HR to confirm the details regarding Emily and made some necessary phone calls. Having attended to these matters, she needed to inform Andrea to find a suitable second assistant.

'Andrea' she called and was pleased to see the immediate response and preparedness. 'Have you found a replacement yet?' Oh those eyes really were something. Today they were nicely enhanced by the camel top Andrea was wearing and accented by flattering subtle eye liner.

'Not yet, I had the CV's sent up to me from HR last week and have short listed them, would you like to see them?' brought Miranda's attention back to the matter at hand. Oh my, Andrea had anticipated this event and had already taken the necessary steps.

'I will meet your final choice tomorrow afternoon, make sure they're not completely incompetent.' was the only response she could think to make.

'Yes Miranda', was the expected reply from Andrea. Miranda was very careful not to look into those eyes again she had to remember her resolve of earlier. It took five minutes for her to be able to focus on the paperwork in front of her and make headway into the matters demanding her attention.

This evening she had agreed to be home for dinner with the girls. So at 6pm she walked out of her office to find Andrea waiting with her coat and bag. She had not even made it to the lift before she heard Andrea confirm Roy was waiting for her downstairs. The world was filled with incompetent fools, but there may be an exception yet.

Three hours after Miranda had walked out of the office Andy was still sitting at her desk waiting for The Book. She had become used to the long hours and had a number of ways to fill them. She followed up with phone calls to her colleagues in Europe. With New York, London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks in the New Year it was necessary to liaise with her counterparts to ensure Miranda's needs would be catered for when they arrived. She put the phone down on Celine in Paris having confirmed seating arrangements.

Paris, it was still so fresh in her mind. Every time she thought about it she wondered what had happened.

She had been there, had been directly involved and yet she still felt like she was missing a crucial part of the puzzle. Paris Fashion Week had been going smoothly enough. Between herself and Emily all bases had been covered. There had been a minor situation with seating arrangements which Andy had managed to divert and an issue with double booked cars which Andy had resolved immediately.

Andy had felt the need to intervene when Miranda had enough of one of the board members of Runway. This had been deduced from her slight adjustment in posture and the very slight raising of her eyebrow. Miranda had been unable to extract herself from the conversation without causing offence, it always amazed Andy that Miranda had a boss she had to play nice with. Andy had noticed as soon as she glanced at her and had informed Miranda there was something that required her immediate attention.

Miranda had followed her from the party immediately with her usual blank expression. When they had exited the room Miranda had turned to her and enquired what the item was that demanded her immediate attention. Andy had not anticipated the question as she had been working on instinct and hesitated before answering.

'I wanted to confirm your meeting with Renée tomorrow at 10am' she mumbled.

'This was so urgent you had to call me away from my conversation with George tonight' Miranda had looked straight at her obviously expecting a response, her eyes guarded. Andy was unable to get any sense of what she was thinking.

'Yeah… I mean yes, it is your first appointment tomorrow' Andy responded and waited for Miranda to berate her. Miranda was silent for so long, just looking at her, that she started to shift uncomfortably. She wanted to get out of there. She stopped looking at Miranda and started thinking how up to date her CV was and how likely she was to get another job before the rent had to be paid. Perhaps Nate would help her out, though her relationship with him was really rocky at the moment. Then suddenly out of nowhere, or so it seemed

'Yes, 10am with Renée, I expect you to be there. That's all.' With that Miranda had turned and left the party.

It was the following day that things had started to get out of hand. That evening she had gone with Christian Thomson and had discovered the whole sorry events. Irv was trying to usurp Miranda as editor of Runway and replace her. How could he do that to her? Andy had left Christian and informed Miranda immediately, only to discover she had already known about it. Then there was the whole announcement and the thwarting of Nigel's plans. How could she do that to him? Andy had felt so disenchanted and disillusioned with Miranda, that she could see no alternative but to leave her. She had left Miranda to face the press and had thrown her phone into the fountain. She had lost perspective completely and to this day she is still unsure why she reacted so strongly. They had not, after all, directly affected her.

She had felt disappointed for Nigel, which did not explain the severity of her emotions. She had felt bad for Miranda, because even though she had come out on top, someone had tried to embarrass her and replace her in the most important thing in her life. Or at least one of the most important things, surely her children were equally important if not more important. And while her relationship with her husband was not going well.

But for Andy it was more than that, it was about what Miranda had done to Nigel and what that meant for other people who worked for her. What it meant for Andy. That was the crux of the matter wasn't it. If Miranda was willing to do that to Nigel who had worked for her for so long, who knew her as well if not better than most people, how expendable was Andy? The thought that Miranda would disappoint, disregard her made Andy ache like nothing had ever done before. The though of it was debilitating, heart wrenching to the point she had lost perspective. That explained why she had reacted the way she did.

Nigel had come to her room the next day. He had just left Miranda's room where they had talked. Or at least he had. She had just listened. Ultimately he had decided to stay at Runway. Nigel went over his brief conversation with Miranda and asked what had happened between her and Miranda. Apparently he had mentioned her name to Miranda and Miranda had winced. Not too obviously but enough for him to notice before returning to her usual inscrutable expression. Andy had given him a brief overview of the happenings and had started to cry. She had spent most of the night crying and didn't know what to do. The thought of never speaking to Miranda again was heart wrenching to her. She kept playing the look on Miranda's face before she had turned around to face the press. She couldn't quite explain it but it had haunted her ever since.

Nigel had given her a strange look after her crying had finally stopped and told her to face Miranda. She wondered if he had lost his mind but eventually decided it was the better than anything she had come up with. With that Nigel had left her to collect herself. She had showered, put on her best outfit and walked to Miranda's room. Slowing down the closer she got. When she got there she knocked on the door and waited anxiously. After what felt like an eternity Miranda opened the door. She had appeared frozen and Andy was shaking all over. Miranda had eventually stepped back and allowed her to enter the room. Which shocked Andy to the extent that she had forgotten to move until Miranda had raised an eyebrow.

Andy had walked into the room and glanced around. Miranda had obviously been sitting at the computer on the table. There was paper surrounding the surfaces nearby. Miranda followed Andy into the room. Andy closed her eyes, drew a deep breath and searched for every bit of resolve she had before looking at Miranda. Miranda was looking at her with a look she had never seen before.

'Sor… Sorry, I don't know what happened to me' was what came out of her mouth. Her rehearsed speech had been more articulate, but standing there looking at Miranda her mind was blank. All she knew was she regretted causing the look on Miranda's face. It haunted her, and the one today wasn't much better, even if she couldn't quite read it.

'Sorry… I …' Miranda continued to look at her. Andy figured all she could do was wait for Miranda to cast judgment, to let her decision be known. There was something she was aware of but couldn't identify. At one stage she raised her head and looked directly into Miranda's eyes letting her see how sorry and confused she was.

It could have been one minute or one hour they stood there in silence. Then Miranda appeared to make a decision, she nodded her head ever so slightly and started listing things Andy had to follow up on that day. It took Andy a moment but then she took her notepad and pen out of her bag and frantically started to take notes.

That was it. Anti-climatic? Somewhat. Confusing? Definitely. It was the least Miranda like response possible. She had not fired her, given her a piece of her mind or ruined her, as she had threatened to do to numerous people. No she had nodded her head slightly and acted as if nothing had happened.

When Andy had left Miranda's room, she had sought Nigel to see if he could enlighten her. When she told him what happened, he looked shocked, then thoughtful. He told her she was the first person to ever walk away from Miranda who was allowed to return. He couldn't believe she hadn't at least been tortured. They had lunch then got ready for the last day of Paris Fashion Week.

The last day had gone according to plan. Andy had picked up as many outfits for Emily as she could and had even managed to get a few for herself. Miranda carried on as if nothing had happened. Andy did catch her giving her the odd look that belied explanation but made her heart ache for some unknown reason. She put it down to her own overactive imagination.

Being dragged back to the present, Barry came into the office carrying The Book. She sighed with relief that the working day was drawing to a close. She got the subway across to Miranda's house and let herself in. She put the laundry in the closet and put the book on the table as was the expectation. All was quiet in the Priestly house and a light was showing from under the office door. Andy let herself out and headed home.

Miranda heard someone come in the front door. It was obviously Andrea with her dry cleaning and the Book. She had spent the evening with Cassidy and Caroline. They had been delighted she was on time and chattered all the way through dinner. It was uncanny the way they could take over from each other so fluidly. It meant that the chatter never had to stop, what joy. They ate while the other spoke and took up the conversation as if pre-planned.

They hadn't even made any complaints about having to do their homework. She put it down to the novelty of being able to sit in the study with her. When they had agreed the timetable she had ordered two desks to fit next to her desk. They had all settled in and worked in quiet until all homework was done. She checked their homework on request and had given suitable praise and made suggestions where necessary. After they finished they left to watch TV in the sitting room.

The timetable was still very new and she wondered how long the excitement of seeing her would last. She was going to enjoy it for as long as it lasted. She knew that soon enough it would become the norm and they would come to expect it to happen as opposed to expecting it not to happen. She was committed to ensuring they could rely on her to be there for them, she never wanted to let them down.

Sitting there in an armchair listening to soft relaxing music sipping a glass of wine she started reminiscing. She thought about the two years with Stephen, he turned out to be no better than Greg. All she felt was relieved they were over. Sometimes she thought that she should feel more about the ending of her marriage but couldn't bring herself to. The only thing she regretted was the distance she created with the girls. Two failed marriages and she couldn't bring herself to feel anything beyond mild dismay they were finished. She had begun to believe she just didn't have it in her to care deeply about what happened. Paris had changed all that.

Paris Fashion Week had gone more smoothly than any of the previous years. She had attended all the expected shows and had been very impressed by a number of the new designers. To the extent she had even arranged for one of them to do a spread in Runway. This was one of the better aspects of her job, the ability to pluck someone from obscurity and give them a break. It was widely recognised that she was hard, near impossible, to please, and why shouldn't she be. She saw no reason to settle for second best or less than perfect. She expected the best of herself, so why not of everyone else? It did mean that when she said she liked something others listened.

Her reputation was something she had worked hard to build. One did not become the editor of Runway overnight. She had paid her dues. She had started off near the bottom of the pecking order, working long hours and taking thankless assignments. True she was fortunate enough to have a good eye for fashion in addition to having the sense to make the most of all opportunities that presented themselves. While other people were focused on partying at the weekend and spending 'quality' time with their friends and family she was working.

When Runway was in trouble in the late 1980's she had positioned herself so she was noticed. The board had recognised her potential and she was given an opportunity. Turn Runway around in twelve months or get used to being one of the crowd. So she had thrown herself into the task. She made the decisions her predecessors were unable to make. She allowed the cream to rise to the top and replaced those who were not up to the challenge. She placed people she respected and trusted in key roles, such as Nigel. She pushed everyone to achieve their best and accepted nothing less.

The first year had been hard but after twelve months Runway was in the top five fashion magazines. The ratings were climbing and continued to climb. Her hard work had paid off and in the 1990's Runway became the top fashion magazine. Miranda had become identified widely as the reason for its success. She developed powerful networks and wielded power others only dreamed of. She became an entity unto herself, her reputation preceded her, and she became 'Miranda Priestly'. She was loved, she was hated, she was feared, and she was revered. She knew her nicknames, had even started one or two herself to serve her purpose.

Through this she got married to husband number one, Greg. They had a whirlwind relationship before they got married. For her it was a marriage of convenience, having long since given up her belief in the love of the great romances, it was useful to have an available escort for all the events she was expected to attend. She did not let her marriage interfere in important things in life, like work. She thought he felt the same way. It wasn't until they were five years into the marriage she realised he kept expecting her to change. When it became apparent she was not likely to, he couldn't just talk to her, no, he took the cowards route.

He started a barrage of undermining snide remarks, vaguely disguised insults and jokes at her expense. Subtle at first, mostly in private but it became blatantly hostile towards the end of their marriage. The only good thing to come out of her marriage was her girls. When she became pregnant it did not slow her down one iota. No she worked until the last minute and started back to work the following week. The girls added a new dimension to her life. One she was thankful to have, even if it placed additional challenges in front of her.

'Mom' came a sleepy cry from the top of the stairs.

Miranda immediately put down the glass she was holding and made her way to the stairs. There was Caroline in her new pajamas, rubbing her eyes trying her best not to cry.

'What is it?' was her enquiry. Caroline looked like she regretted crawling out of bed.

'Nothing' was the hesitant response. 'I had … had a bad dream … umm … something bad … umm … happened to you…..'

'Well you can see I'm fine, now back to bed with you, school in the morning'.

'Ok' and with that Caroline went back into her room. Miranda returned to the lounge and collected her phone before going up to her own room. Rosita would tidy up tomorrow.

Andy had fallen into a routine that suited her. Monday to Saturday she got up early to make sure she was in place before Miranda came through the doors of the Elias-Clarke. She ensured Miranda's coffee was sitting on her desk and spent the day following up on the list she was given in the morning. Through the day she attended meetings with Miranda and typed up notes afterwards.

Since Emily's early departure to London, Andy had been busy training in the new second assistant, Jodie. Surprisingly Miranda had few objections to her hire last week. Jodie wasn't quite as intelligent as some of the other candidates but had shown a real desire to please Miranda and an ability to follow clear orders. By right, she should have been picking up the coffee in the morning. However for some reason Andy didn't want to hand that task over. She enjoyed being the one to bring Miranda coffee in the morning. It thrilled her when she got it timed just right and Miranda let a tiny lift of her lip show her pleasure at the hot beverage.

In the evenings when the corridors quieted as people left for the day she sat at her desk awaiting The Book. Initially she had sat there making lists of things to do the following day and following up with her European counterparts. As time wore on she realised she didn't need to put the same amount of effort into anticipating Miranda's needs, it was becoming almost second nature. This had freed up some time to browse the internet. One evening a spark of inspiration struck, she could do research while waiting. This meant she could start writing articles again. Over the last couple of months she had written a number of pieces that were published in obscure magazines or as page fillers in newspapers.

She was enjoying this past-time. Not only could she do the job she enjoyed, it meant that she did not have to give up her dream of being a writer. Sure it wasn't investigative journalism, as she had hoped she would be doing when she deferred her place in Law School, but it was writing and everyone had to start somewhere, didn't they. If nothing it ensured her writing skills didn't become too rusty.

Then every evening Barry or Joe came dashing in with The Book and she transported it. This evening it was Joe.

'Here ye go lass'

'Thanks Joe, how did the birthday party go at the weekend?'

'Not so bad, not so bad. The missus arranged a jumping castle for the yard, the chil'ren had a grand ol' time. There was mill'ons of 'em ever'where. Had a laugh we did.'

'That's great. Tell Sally I say Hi.' With that Andy took The Book and headed out the door. Winter was really grabbing hold of the city. Andy burrowed deeply into her coat and started her journey.

As usual, when Andy entered the hallway of Miranda's house there was silence. She went about her tasks of placing the dry-cleaning and The Book diligently. Ensuring she did nothing to disrupt anything.

'psst…' she heard out of nowhere. When she looked up, at the top of the stairs, two heads were peeking over the banister. Cassidy and Caroline were staring down at her expectantly.

'Do you work for Mom?' one of them asked, Cassidy she thought.

'Yes, I do' was the only response she could think of.

'Where's the other one who used to come? Did you eat her because she was prettier than you? That would explain a lot'

Why the little…

'No she got a new job, so now I deliver the dry-cleaning and The Book', why was she still talking to them?

'Sure' the other one, Caroline she assumed, said. Both of the girls managed to give her an exact replica of the disdainful look Miranda gave her for the first week. It seems the old saying was true 'trot mother, trot foal', or foals as the case may be.

With that Andy turned and headed out the front door, not unaware of the sniggering that followed her. Well she was free for the rest of the night, wonder what is on TV? She thought to herself. I think its Thai food for dinner tonight.

They were heading full hilt into November. Preparation and decisions for New York Fashion Week in January were heating up and of utmost importance. It was one of the highlights of her annual calendar. Fashion Week in the town where she was queen. Fashion Week in New York had to be the ultimate opening to the four major Fashion Weeks. Indeed her diary would be full, January through to March ensuring she did not miss any crucial happenings in the fashion world for the following winter collection. However, in London, Milan and Paris she was more of a visitor than a host.

Miranda had received a number of invites to various parties throughout the week. She had forwarded them to Andrea trusting her to ensure her schedule would encompass as many as possible. A secret to her success was ensuring a strong network between herself and others in the business. She had learned earlier on that knowing the right people ensured she had all necessary information. Additionally she had given some a start in the business and had garnered some loyalty. Oh she knew that most would stab her in the back at the slightest sign of weakness, all the more reason to never let her guard down.

At least this year she was sure Andrea would have her at the right parties and the most important viewings. It was amazing that Emily, for all her professed love of fashion and the fashion world, had never understood the necessity to ensure Runway, and Miranda, had a pivotal role to play if Runway was to remain at the top. Andrea was a different matter. She ensured regular contact was maintained with the key players and Miranda did not miss any events. For this Miranda was pleased with Andrea.

Andrea. Andrea was an increasing figure in her musings of late. Sure her eyes were captivating but it was more than that. Andrea was growing, no longer that awkward person who stuttered and stumbled through her day. Andrea had become competent. Miranda convinced herself that this was the only reason Andrea was never far from her thoughts. Competence in a world full of incompetence was noteworthy, that was the extent of it.

'Andrea' she called, just loud enough to be heard outside the door to her office. Immediately she felt someone at her door. 'We will be leaving in ten minutes. That's all'.

Andy had been frantically trying to rectify oversights Emily had made before leaving. Fashion Week season was fast approaching and Emily had failed to ensure the organisers were aware of Miranda's requirements, what had she been doing? Mid-January would see the beginning of the season and Andy was determined to ensure everything went without incident. It had been a pleasant surprise to learn Jodie was fluent in Italian. This allowed her to focus on liaising with the organisers for New York, Paris and London while delegating Milan to Jodie. Jodie was learning satisfactorily and was quick to follow Andy's lead.

'Andrea' came from the inner office. Immediately she saved what she was working on and went to the doorway. 'We will be leaving in ten minutes. That's all'. Andy immediately went frantically through Miranda's diary wondering where they were going. Nothing had been scheduled for this afternoon, Andy rang Roy to ensure he brought the car around.

Exactly on time Miranda walked out of her office across to the lifts. Andy handed her coat and bag and stood aside to wait for the next lift as was the norm. However, it soon became clear Miranda had different plans.

'We don't have all day.' Indicating, with a slight movement of her head, Andy should join her. Andy was shocked, no-one traveled in a lift with Miranda, but thought better of questioning her. As she entered she couldn't help but be captivated by the smell of Miranda's perfume. As the doors opened on the ground floor Nigel was there and looked shocked when she got out of the lift with Miranda. He gave her an inquisitive look which she responded to by a shrug of her shoulders, she really had no clue why the change, and then caught up with Miranda.

They spent the afternoon going in and out of stores. It was only in the second store she realised Miranda was shopping for Christmas presents for Cassidy and Caroline. She wasn't sure of her purpose on this outing with Miranda but decided the most prudent course of action was to follow, take notes on anything that appeared to catch Miranda's eyes and to keep her questions to herself.

That evening when she delivered The Book to Miranda's the girls had again been on top of the stairs. This had become the norm over the last two weeks. She had come to expect the questions regarding her weight and the snide remarks regarding her clothes. She wondered why she responded and didn't just ignore them but something in her understood they were just looking for attention. So she continued to spend a couple of minutes responding to their questions and barbs before heading home for the night.


Chapter 3

Saturday night Andy was busy getting ready to head out on the town with Nigel and a few others for Runway. Jodie had agreed to deliver The Book tonight. It was her first time but Andy had given her very clear instructions. Besides she hadn't been out in months and really needed to let her hair down. Just as she was putting the finishing touches to her make-up the phone rang.

'Hey chicken, I'll be there in ten, be ready' the phone hung up. Andy sometimes thought Nigel had worked with Miranda for too long, he was picking up her habits like never letting her speak on the phone. Exactly ten minutes later Nigel knocked at the door.

'Oh don't you look ravishing tonight, going out on the hunt?' Nigel said while wiggling his eyebrows. While Andy had put a lot of effort into dressing up she had done it for herself. She hadn't been interested in becoming involved with anyone since Nate. If she was being honest she wasn't even interested in her relationship with him in the end.

'Don't you look handsome tonight' was Andy's response. 'So where are we going anyway?'

'We're going to that new place on Georges St. Jack was there last week and said it was good. So what's the story with you and Miranda?'

'There is no story. She's Miranda and I'm the dirt on her shoe. Same old, same old'.

'What I was asking about, oh slow one, was the sharing of the lift. I've never known it to happen before. What was it like? Is it true her head comes off her shoulders and turns 360 degrees?'

'It was like sharing the lift with anyone else only she smelt better.' At that Nigel gave her a sideways glance.

'It has gone down in Runway history. Did you know one of the first things Miranda did when she took over Runway was to remove the camera from that lift and forbid anyone to share it with her? Then out of nowhere you are seen getting in the lift and survive to tell the tale. What do you mean 'it smelt better?''

Andy was busy thinking about this. When it had happened she had stumbled over it for a minute then put it out of her mind. It was because she was distracted she didn't filter her next thought. 'Oh you know it had a heavenly scent of Miranda's perfume and something uniquely, wonderfully her'. After saying this Andy returned to remembering the journey down, not paying Nigel too much attention. After a while she realised she was blindly following him but silence had reigned. She looked over at him and noticed him giving her a thoughtful look.


'Uniquely, wonderfully her?'

'Did I say that out loud?' Andy asked, knowing she must have but wondering how he would react. She could feel herself blushing and was finding it difficult to meet his eyes.

'You sure did. So Miss Thing, is there something you want to share?'


'Come on Andy, we've become friends, haven't we? You can tell me anything, I assure you I am the soul of discretion.' Nigel gave her such a genuine look and she really did need to talk to someone who might understand. She saw they had arrived at their destination. They went in and quickly found the others, who had managed to commandeer an alcove near the dance floor. Miranda Priestly may be the face of Runway but her staff were also well known around the 'In' clubs.

A round of drinks later, Andy was sitting comfortably, still thinking about Nigel's offer. She had known him over a year now, he had helped her cultivate an image suitable for Runway, had helped her out of more than one "Miranda" crisis and had come to her in Paris to help her. In all that time she had never known him to gossip about Miranda's life, of course, he made an occasional smart remark, but he had never said anything about her private affairs and remained loyal. So with that she took a chance.


'Yes Miss Thing'

'About the lift thing, what do you think it means?' With that Nigel turned from the group he had been talking to and gave Andy his undivided attention.

'Are we talking about the fact you were permitted to share the same lift as the Ice Queen or the whole 'uniquely, wonderfully her' thing?' he asked. Andy wasn't quite sure where to start, so she hesitated. Obviously, seeing this as an invitation he continued on, 'Of course, they mightn't be mutually exclusive, just two sides of the same coin.'

At this Andy gave him a puzzled look and eloquently said 'Huh?'

'It has not escaped my attention that you have gained a place with Miranda that no-one else ever has. She bites your head off less than anyone else, she is irritable when you are not around, she was hurt by what happened in Paris and you are relied on more than any other assistant ever has.' He looked across at Andy who was obviously listening avidly, trying to figure out what he was saying. He decided to push on, he had wondered how aware either of them were and now this was his opportunity to give a nudge.

Looking directly at her he continued, 'Also it has not escaped my attention that you have placed Miranda above everything else in your life. Nate, the ex, who saw the writing on the wall and is no longer around. Your friends, who you had no time for and let go in favour of Runway. Your family, who you have only seen once in the last year. You have said you couldn't remember important dates and events and yet you know every minute detail about Miranda`s. You know her needs before she does. You cater to her every whim and work harder and longer hours than any assistant before you.' Andy was just staring at him, this wasn't exactly how she thought this conversation would go.

'Add all this to the 'uniquely, wonderfully her' comment and a pattern begins to emerge.' With that Nigel decided he had said enough, the rest was up to Andy. Andy's brain was on overload. She wasn't sure about the Miranda piece, but definitely his observations of her when put together seemed so obvious. Add this to the pieces Nigel wasn't aware of. The fact she dreamed about Miranda every night, that every morning, she eagerly listened for Miranda steps and the fact that every waking moment, she thought about her .

She had a decision to make, she could deny all Nigel said and she knew the conversation would end there. Or she could accept the inevitable and do something about it, not to mention ask Nigel's advice. She probably should have been more surprised but she found she really wasn't. Probably because Nate's parting shot 'the person whose calls you always take? That's the relationship you're in, I hope you're happy together' kept going around in her head. She knew Nate had meant to hurt her but all the comment had done was make her think about Miranda and the relationship they had ever since.

When she looked up she found Nigel patiently looking at her. 'What am I going to do?'

'Tonight you're going to let your hair down and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow we will meet and work out a plan.'

With that Andy found herself relaxing, nothing was resolved, nothing had changed, only now she knew she would make something happen and she would have priceless help.

Across town Miranda was just settling the girls in bed for the night. They had a pleasant evening. She had arrived home about six o'clock and they were upstairs playing video games. She had gone in to say hello and was surprised to find them dancing on a plastic mat. The screen in front of them had loads of flashing lights and arrows pointing in all directions. On top of that a voice was coming from the speakers shouting over the music. What would they think of next?

'Hi girls' she called over the din.

'Hi mom' both girls replied in chorus, never once breaking their stride.

'Dinner will be in ten.'

'Yes mom.'

She had changed into comfortable clothes and joined them for dinner. After they had tidied away, she had agreed to watch a movie. She sat in a chair, while the girls sat on the couch. The movie had been surprisingly pleasant and the popcorn she brought was a huge hit.

'Night girls' she called from outside their rooms.

'Mom, why did someone else deliver The Book today?' came from Cassidy's room.

Miranda looked into the room over at her daughter. 'What are you talking about?'

'Andy didn't bring The Book today, someone else did'

'It doesn't matter as long as it gets here' was her only response.

'But mom…'

'That's all Cassidy go to sleep.'

With that Miranda walked back down the stairs into the sitting room. She kicked off her shoes and curled up on her seat. A glass of wine was still sitting on the table and there was some mindless programme on the TV. It didn't matter because she wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention.

Andrea didn't bring The Book, which meant Jodie did. Miranda had become used to Andrea bringing it every night, even if she didn't acknowledge her, it had become expected. The fact Andrea didn't tonight, on a Saturday left her with a sinking feeling in her stomach. What was the reason? She had obviously not been unwell earlier in the day. Miranda was sure she would have noticed if she had been. She hadn't requested Jodie start bringing The Book, so that wasn't the reason. The only reason Andrea wouldn't have brought the book was if she was doing something else tonight.

That thought made her stomach turn over. Was she out on a date? Had she met someone who was going to occupy her Saturday nights now? Was she going to be distracted and not pay as much attention to Miranda now? Was it serious? Did they go out for a romantic meal? Or worse had they stayed in and cooked? Who was it? What did they look like? Could she ruin them? Have it so they never set foot in New York again? Never mind New York, never set foot in America again. She could do it, she knew people.

Why didn't she bring The Book? She hadn't really paid attention tonight, she had heard someone come in, open the closet door, presumably to put away the dry cleaning and leave again. She had sat back comfortable in the assumption Andrea had been the one to do it. She didn't think to ask why the girls had paused the movie to go out and look. It had been a shock when Cassidy asked why it wasn't Andrea. The question tormented her. After a couple of hours she made her way to bed and had a restless night's sleep contemplating murder of some unknown victim.

Monday dawned freezing but dry. Andy made her way into Elias-Clarke and up to her desk without incident. She was feeling very positive today. Saturday night had been good fun. She hadn't stayed out too late though because after a while thoughts of Miranda had started to consume her. So she had decided to go home to get some sleep to be alert for her expected conversation with Nigel.

Nigel had come around Sunday afternoon, and they had gone to a local café. After much discussion, Andy still wasn't convinced about Miranda feelings for her. So they had agreed that Andy would pay more attention to Miranda's reactions to her. She had been clear about her feelings for Miranda though and admitted she found her very attractive and had romantic feelings for her. Nigel had smiled at this and suggested she woo Miranda.

This morning, Andy was thinking of all the possibilities, she was hopeful. According to Nigel it was just possible Miranda might like her. Just then the lift doors opened and Miranda walked through the office like a ball of thunder. Everyone in the corridor fled the scene. Andy indicated to Jodie to stay seated and she stood preparing to follow Miranda into her office.

As soon as Miranda was within distance she started listing all she wanted done that day. She threw her coat and bag on the desk without slowing her pace. In her office she sat down and didn't look once at Andy, just continued to list action items. Five minutes later Andy left Miranda's office wondering if she would ever get feeling back in her fingers. One thing was definite though, there was no way Miranda had given her any extra attention.

Just after lunch Miranda stormed out of her office. Andy was ready and waiting with her coat and bag. They headed for the lifts and when Miranda entered and looked for Andy, who had paused unsure if last week was a once off.

'Do you need to be told everything twice?' Miranda said as scathingly as she had ever spoken to Andy. With that Andy entered the lift and stood to the size. All the while going through her head was 'She really does smell great'. Andy found herself wondering what was annoying Miranda. Sure she was usually a bitch and cut people in two with just a look, but there seemed to be more to it today. She was also trying to figure out the apparent conflicting occurrences. Miranda was obviously in a terrible mood, granted you couldn't tell just by looking at her, she looked as cool and composed as usual. But if you looked closer and took into consideration her temperament she really was in a bad mood.

Andy took it upon herself to try to get to the root of what was bothering Miranda, and perhaps she would be able to do something to help. She always wondered what it took to remain in such a position for so long and what that level of control exacted from a person.

To this end she discreetly tried to garner clues for the rest of the afternoon.

Miranda had spent all Saturday night through Sunday trying not to think about what Andrea did for the weekend. Of course the more she tried not to think about the more she thought about it. This morning after another restless night she woke with a terrible headache. The morning had been relatively uneventful, just the usual Monday e-mails and clearing up other peoples incompetence from the previous week.

This afternoon she was scheduled at a number of showings. Andrea was expected to join her to ensure accurate notes were taken and additional information could be sought. As they neared the lifts she wondered if it was a good idea for her to allow Andrea to share the lift with her. However when she looked around Andrea looked so hesitant she decided to continue to share the lift with her.

'Do you need to be told everything twice?' seemed to snap her into action. As they traveled down Miranda assessed Andrea in the mirrors of the lift. She appeared unsure but not as if she was newly in love or overly excited. This was good news wasn't it. Why should she care anyway? So someone else would be delivering The Book, what was the big deal anyway?

Throughout the afternoon they traveled from one showing to another. If she was being honest some of these new designers showed promise. They were fresh and bold, something she could really appreciate. By the end she had earmarked some for articles in future editions. After each show, while sitting in the car with Andrea, she related a list of things that needed to be followed up and concepts that would be suitable for the designer with notes for their photography session. She was also clear which interviewer she wanted to meet them, focusing on how to get as much as possible for each spread.

It was only towards the end of the day she realised Andrea had been paying very close attention to her. Andrea always paid close attention to her but for some reason it appeared slightly different. It was almost like she was not only paying attention to what she was saying and taking the appropriate notes, but she was actually paying attention to her, seeing her beyond what she was demanding. She had caught Andrea looking at her with some unknown look in her eye, throughout the afternoon but had discarded it as being unrelated to her needs. Now sitting there at the end of the day heading towards Elias-Clarke building she pondered it all. As the building came closer she decided it was all a figment of her over active imagination as a result of her weekend thoughts.

For the rest of that week and into the next Andy paid close attention to Miranda. With the help of Nigel she knew exactly what she was looking for. Did Miranda's tone of voice change when she spoke to Andy? Andy had come to the conclusion that it did.

Earlier last week Miranda had been more cutting, sharper even impatient with Andy. To everyone else she behaved as she always did. Cool, calm and collected with very little inflection. She was all business. Andy thought maybe it was because she was her assistant but Miranda treated Jodie like everyone else, so that couldn't be it. Miranda appeared only to use that tone of voice with Andy. Andy tried, but as hard as she thought she couldn't come up with one thing she had done to offend Miranda or anything task she had forgotten to do.

She had gone through her lists to double check the triple check. The only detail she had not taken care of herself was delivery of The Book on Saturday. She had quizzed Jodie on every step she had taken. Dry cleaning had been delivered and stored correctly, The Book had been placed in exact position. There had been no variations, even to the detail of one of the girls sitting in the hallway looking at her. No, Jodie had not seen Miranda and there had been no sign of her. There had been no explosion about The Book from Miranda or any other quarter so that couldn't be it either. Andy decided to put it down as one of the many mysteries that were Miranda. Towards the end of last week Miranda had become less agitated with Andy.

It was not obvious, you had to really be looking, and Andy was. It was subtle, Miranda's voice became less cutting, less hard. Even then Andy realised Miranda's inflection remained constant with everyone else, except in the instances Miranda thought them incompetent and threatened their job and sometimes life. Even then there was no real intent behind her voice. Oh Miranda would follow through on her threats without hesitation but it appeared to Andy to be almost routine. There was very little Miranda behind the remarks. This was a new revelation to Andy, such actions seemed to be mundane to Miranda. She did not appear to get great satisfaction from them as Andy had once assumed. Miranda appeared to see them as a par for the course and necessary to ensure the quality of Runway as opposed to a satisfying part of the job.

Yet when she spoke to Andy there appeared to be more behind the words. Andy was sure Miranda was completely unaware of this. However, now Andy was looking for it, it was there. It was in the little things. Miranda seemed pleased when Andy had anticipated her needs, and then her voice was softer, not soft but softer. If Andy was asked something at one of the showings and had a ready response Miranda's voice sounded almost amused. Amusement was also present when Andy shared her observations, when asked of course, she knew better than to offer them uninvited, usually in the car between meetings. Even though Miranda sounded amused Andy didn't feel like she was being laughed at, she felt it was almost like her perceptions of people and incidents provided Miranda with light relief.

Andy stored all this information and discussed it with Nigel. Nigel was excited by this and said that it proved his initial assessment that Miranda liked her and this made Andy special. Andy, probably because she had her heart on the line and didn't think she would recover if she built up her hopes and they were dashed, decided that this information was indicative as opposed to conclusive and wanted more information before she made any bold moves. After much discussion they decided that it was time to step it up. Andy was going to initiate eye contact to see how Miranda responded.

Miranda was working longer hours than usual. It was always the same at the end of the year. She had budgets to balance and submit for next year along with projected sales targets and competitive analysis. Not to mention all the haggling she had to do to get them passed. Irv really was a pain in the ass and questioned every line on next years budget. Of course they both knew he would pass it in the end but he seemed to think it was his obligation to make it as difficult as possible. She had overspent on some items the previous year but at least sales had surpassed expectation so the profit had still come out above budget which bought her some peace.

At the end of the year she was also occupied with directing preparations for January Fashion Week in New York, thankfully Andrea seemed to have everything in order and was troubleshooting for her. Even with that she had a lot of meetings to go to and directions to give. Really some of them were so basic she wondered at the IQ of some of the organisers.

December's issue of Runway was almost ready for print, just some minor adjustment and Januarys was coming along at an acceptable rate. Staff difficulties seemed to be at a minimum and incompetence seemed to be at a steady level, Nigel appeared to be catching everything before it became problematic.

The girls were becoming intolerant of her excuses for not being home on time. She knew they were only ten so wouldn't appreciate her reasons all they knew was she wasn't home when she said she would be. Caroline had started having nightmares and Cassidy started getting into fights in school. After one of these fights she had to go to the school and meet with the principle before bring the girls home.

In addition to all this she thought her mind started playing tricks on her. She really didn't need that at the moment. She was convinced Andrea kept looking at her. No just looking at her but seeing her. It had started a couple of weeks ago. She wasn't sure of the exact date as it was a gradual realisation. Those eyes that tormented her, seemed to be on her face and body more often. With a look she couldn't or wouldn't identify.

Miranda had first become aware of it in the lift. As they were making the descent to the ground floor. Miranda preferred to remain silent. She used this time to collect herself for what lay ahead. This meant her focus tended to be inward, but she felt eyes on her. As she looked up Andrea was looking directly to the front. As she returned to her thoughts, she noticed Andrea's eyes move while her head remained static. Then it dawned on her Andrea was observing her in the mirror on the doors. When she met Andrea's eyes the first time she glanced away again. However over the last few weeks she no longer looked away but would continue to look into her eyes or somewhere else on her face. Miranda saw no challenge in the look, no judgment either just interest.

What puzzled Miranda the most about these looks was, what exactly was Andrea interested in. Her initial instinct was to confront Andrea for the impudence of looking at her. When she thought about this she wasn't confident that it was not just her imagination. If she raised the issue, she made it real and would probably introduce discomfort into their interactions and as they spent a significant amount of time together that would not do.

Then at a show last week she looked behind to see Andrea looking at her as opposed to the clothes on display. However, when she asked for the notes on the show they were complete and extensive. Andrea had obviously been paying close attention so couldn't have been looking at her. This kept happening. She would feel a gaze fall on her and when she looked around her eyes would meet Andrea`s. Andrea would then look away, but increasingly she would continue to make eye contact. Again she didn't feel she could raise the issue as every time she questioned Andrea or requested her notes they were comprehensive and nothing was amiss. Perhaps the stress of the month was getting to her and she was imagining things. Why would her mind come up with that?

Miranda found she was not anxious about the observation, be it real or imagined. There was no challenge to the look and it was a change. Usually when people looked at her all they saw was Miranda Priestly Ice Queen. They were convinced by her cool glare and indifferent approach. They were so busy worrying about how to act , Miranda was often amused by the stumbling and stuttering her mere presence could instigate. It was as if she moved in and out without ever having been seen. This had been true for her marriages too. Her husbands were so consumed about who they were and what she could be to them , she had able to glide through without being noticed.

It had changed over the last couple of days though. When they were sitting in the car on their way between locations Miranda had been going through her usual routine of calling out a list of things for Andrea and Jodie to follow up. When she stopped, as they neared their destination, she glanced over to find Andrea looking at her. Her whole head whipped around to meet those eyes and then just as Roy opened the door Andrea had smiled at her. Not just a quick upturn of lips but a complete smile, her whole face and eyes involved.

Miranda had jumped out of the car like it was on fire. No one, other than Cassidy and Caroline, ever smiled at her. Her stomach was doing somersaults and her mind was racing. Andrea came around the car and led her into the building, calmly announcing her arrival to the receptionist. She was ushered immediately through to the meeting and with great effort focused on the agenda.

It had continued. Every time she met Andrea's eyes just as they neared their destination Andrea would give her a complete smile. To Miranda's dismay she found she was enjoying the interaction and to an extent coming to rely on it. For example today she had a particularly challenging meeting with Irv and felt drained, that man really was a menace to society. She had come out to find Andrea waiting to accompany her back to her office. In the lift she had turned immediately to Andrea and was rewarded with a smile.

She didn't want to dwell on how the smiles made her feel but she would accept the looks and the smiles without comment. She would not pay any attention to the fluttering in her stomach or the loosening of tension across her shoulders. To dwell on it would mean she had to acknowledge that a girl almost half her age was beginning to captivate her attention. Now not only with her eyes, but with her smile too. While it would be acceptable to allow this level of attention she could not let it go any further. To allow that she would have to admit the melting of the Ice Queen and that was something no-one could know, it would not do, and she would not have it.

'Soooo?', Nigel asked after the waiter delivered their drinks. He had called over to discuss 'Operation Miranda'. It was four weeks since they had gone out and he discovered Andy's stirring of feeling for Miranda. They had met a couple of times since to analyse data collected to date and plan the next step. So here they were over latte discussing progress so far.

'Oh I don't know Nigel, it seems to be going ok. I started smiling at her this week and she hasn't killed me yet.' Andy had been a nervous wreck each day after work replaying her interactions with Miranda. She spent hours dissecting Miranda's facial expressions and her actions, trying to find any indication at all that would let her know how Miranda felt.

'Has she said anything?' Nigel was curious, all he could see was the aftermath and if he was going to help Andy he needed all the information.

'No, she's said nothing, she has hardly responded at all. Other than the first time when she leapt out of the car like it was on fire. Since then she has started meeting my eyes when we are alone. But she hasn't said anything no cutting or snide remarks, it's like she's ignoring its happening at all.' Andy looked at him in bewilderment.

'Well that's to be expected, it's a good sign she hasn't dismembered you yet. This is Miranda we're talking about, she doesn't do talking about what's happening unless it's directly related to Runway. She probably convinced herself that it's a figment of her imagination, just so she doesn't have to say anything'.

'I suppose, but I'll never get anywhere at this rate. I'm now convinced she doesn't hate me and will tolerate changes in my behaviour. But I want more Nigel.' At that Nigel looked at her closely.

'How much more do you mean?' Nigel was in support of Andy being nice to Miranda and realizing she was the best assistant Miranda ever had. He was not ok with Andy going blindly into something that could hurt both her and Miranda. If this was a crush he would help Andy work through it but if it was more he wanted to be sure she knew what she was doing.

Andy looked at Nigel, how much more did she want and how much of that was she willing to tell Nigel? She had a decision to make.

'I like her Nigel' was what came out.

'I know you like her' Nigel looked at her as if this was a moot point.

'No, I like her, as in like her. As in candle light dinners, sunset strolls and holding hands while stargazing like her.' Andy hoped she didn't have to expand on this too much.

'Are you a lesbian Andy? Bi-sexual even?' Well there goes that hope.

'Em…. I've never described myself as that. Actually until the last year I have hardly thought about what I am.' Andy took a deep breath and said 'But yes I am sexually attracted to Miranda Priestly. Maybe I am a lesbian'

'Andy, don't take this the wrong way, but are you sure? Are you sure this isn't just a crush on your boss?' Nigel waited for the explosion from Andy, but it never came so he continued. 'Not too long ago you were in a relationship with Nate, now you're talking about a relationship with another woman, and not just any other woman either. I ask because if this goes ass above kettle you could be seriously hurt.

'I've thought a lot about this Nigel even when I was with Nate.' Andy looked him in the eyes to make sure her sincerity was clear. 'I appreciate your concern, for both of us' she got a quick look of surprise at this. 'But I'm sure, I've never been surer of anything. This isn't a game to me Nigel. This is real. Help me, I want a relationship with the Ice Queen, Dragon Lady, Miranda Priestly. It may sound crazy but the last few weeks have confirmed it for me. She is who I think about first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and no I'm not talking about all the stuff I do as her assistant. I'm talking about the woman behind the persona.' With that she stopped talking and her brain went into overload. Had she really said it out loud to a real person?

Nigel stood up and came around the table to give her a hug. He stayed there until she stopped shaking and hugged him back. Slowly he made his way back to his seat giving Andy a minute to collect herself.

'So what's my next step, any ideas?' was asked before he sat down.

'You need to start letting your intentions be known, be more daring, take more chances. Are you ready for that? It's going to take time, particularly if Miranda is interested.'

'Why only if she's interested?' Andy was puzzled.

'Because if she's not she'll kill you and you'll disappear without a trace' at that Andy gulped and because she knew who and what Miranda was she accepted it as the truth.

'She touched me' was running frantically through Miranda's head. 'She actually touched me'. Miranda had noticed Andrea's increasingly bold smile and eye contact all through December. She was not oblivious, of course she noticed. Who wouldn't notice those deep brown eyes gazing at them or the lightening of them as they smiled? She initially put it down to her own overactive imagination. All her musings of Andrea lately feeding her imagination to the point she was blending reality and fantasy.

As it continued to happen and became more obvious she decided it was just another facet of Andrea's personality she couldn't help. After all she was a very friendly person even nice to those idiots at the front of the building. She even accepted and understood Emily's jealousy and still brought her back clothes from Paris. She was a nice person. That explained it.

When even her own mind couldn't accept these reasons anymore, Miranda put it down to an annoying crush the girl had obviously developed recently, she was sure to snap out of it any day now. She had heard that happened when someone worked closely with their boss. It was true Andrea had to spend a lot of time with her both in the office and traveling between shows and meetings. She couldn't say if it had happened with her before. If she was honest she hoped it would last for a while as she was really enjoying having Andrea's attention.

But this, this was going too far! She actually touched her. Of course it was in no way inappropriate or even intrusive but it was shocking. No-one in Miranda's life initiated physical contact. Not even her children. It was almost like she had an invisible barrier around her that no one dared pass. She wasn't sure when it had developed. Possibly during her first marriage maybe even before that. She touched her. It was actually quite nice.

What had she been thinking? Was it an accident? That's what it must have been, accidental. For some reason that disappointed her but she decided not to dwell too much on it. After all a touch was just a touch. Wasn't it?

'This was becoming ridiculous. She touched me again yesterday. That is a total of six times in four days.' Miranda was comfortably placed in her favourite chair in the sitting room with a glass of wine in her hand. Cassidy and Caroline were pretending not to be falling asleep on the couch. They had an enjoyable day at the zoo and were exhausted having run from one exhibit to another all afternoon.

Miranda was no longer able to pass Andrea's touches as accidental. There had been a total of six, four on the hand and two, the most recent, on her back as she exited the car. While none of them had been inappropriate or overpowering Miranda still couldn't get her mind around the fact Andrea had touched her uninvited. After the second one Miranda had thought maybe Andrea was unwell and her coordination was compromised. However, after close attention and the third and forth touch she had discounted this as a possibility. Andrea was not displaying any other symptoms and her coordination in all other things was unaffected.

Miranda had been thinking about this for the last hour while the girls' movie droned on in the background. She was contemplating Andrea's behaviour over the last month. It had started with the glances and then the eye contact, progressing on to the smiles and now the touches. Miranda found that while she was confused she didn't object to any of it. Sitting there in her own home she could even admit to liking the attention. Further self analysis allowed her to admit to herself that she would not tolerate it from anyone other than Andrea.

Maybe it was the silly season. Perhaps Andrea would return to normal after the Christmas break. Besides Miranda had no time to be distracted coming into January.


Chapter 4

Andy continued with her casual touches as planned. Although, it was driving her to distraction, Miranda's skin was so soft it felt like velvet. She continued with the smiles and eye contact and found she was falling harder and harder every day. She was desperately trying to keep her hormones in check. It was really difficult, every night she was visited with images of Miranda from during the day and now she had the feel of her skin to include in the sensory overload.

Miranda really was a beautiful woman. She loved the way her hair fell across her eyes and had to resist brushing it to the side. Maybe she would have the nerve to do that soon. Through her glances and observations she had become more able to read Miranda's mood. She could now tell, with a look what mood Miranda was in. She had even gotten to the stage where she could tell if she needed coffee or food.

Christmas was upon them and Andy decided to up the stakes. She was trying to decide the next step. She could always ask Nigel but she thought it was time to start deciding for herself. At the end of this, success or failure, she wanted to know she had done it. She had followed her heart and taken a chance.

At lunchtime instead of getting food she ran to the local florist and asked for a Yellow Tulip. She had already invested in quality parchment paper and wrote a note to go with the flower. She then wrapped a bow around them and making sure no-one saw her left them on Miranda's desk. She was very nervous but had decided Miranda was worth taking the chance.

Miranda came back from a lunch meeting upstairs and headed straight to her office. When she reached the threshold she looked across at her desk and noticed a yellow tulip resting in the center of her desk. She approached the desk nervously, wondering if it was some kind of joke or a prop from one of their shoots. The flower was lying diagonally across a piece of folded parchment and wrapped in a red bow.

She quickly looked around but there was no-one around looking at her, so she picked up the piece of parchment. There in familiar script was one sentence:


I would give anything to be the cause of your smile.

Yours A.

Miranda practically fell into her chair, her knees no longer willing to hold her. This was definitely a new development. Her heart and mind were racing. She had only become accustomed to the fleeting touches. What was Andrea thinking? She was her boss.

Miranda resolved to discuss this with Andrea when a suitable time arose. She really was very busy so determined it could not be today. She did however fill a glass with water, put the flower in it and place it on her desk, just to the side of her screen. She also placed the note in her bag for safe keeping without thinking too much about it.

When Andy came back from marketing she glanced into Miranda's office and a huge smile crossed her face. Miranda was typing rapidly, occasionally glancing across at the flower. Andy breathed a sigh of relief. It would appear she was not going to be fired immediately for this either.

It was insane when she thought about it. Never in her life had she pursued anyone and here she was pursuing Miranda Priestly. But then she reminded herself no-one but Miranda had ever been worth the effort. She also knew if she was to stand any chance with Miranda she had to take it one step at a time.

The following day Miranda came back from the toilet to find another flower on her desk. She glanced across at Andrea who was determinedly working at her computer. With Jodie in the office Miranda decided not to challenge her today. This time she wasn't so hesitant to cross to her desk. She picked up another yellow tulip and held it to her nose for a brief moment before placing it carefully with the first flower. She then reached for the piece of parchment. It was obvious a lot of thought and effort went into the note. She opened it and read:


Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. (Thich Nhat Hanh).

Yours A.

This was ridiculous, when did Andrea ever see her smile. Then she realised that was exactly what she was doing at that moment. Really, what was she thinking? She was becoming enchanted with Andrea and her newfound boldness. Their interactions had carried on as before. Andrea continued to meet her eyes at every opportunity and smiled at her at opportune moments. Although Miranda fancied she could see more in Andrea's eyes as time went on. There was warmth behind the smile that reached her eyes. She wondered if it was there all the time so had taken to observing Andrea's interactions with others and found herself strangely relieved to see that particular look was only directed at her.

What amazed Miranda the most was that nothing else changed. Andrea continued to fulfill all her tasks perfectly and anticipate every possible need. She had trained Jodie in to the extent that Miranda had little cause lately to berate them or make snide remarks. It was only now she was thinking about it she realised how much more relaxed she had become walking into her office. Her schedule had also taken to including early evenings so she was home with the girls as promised. How had she even known this was necessary?

Miranda admitted to herself that it was flattering to be the focus of such attentions. She could even admit to thinking about her in the privacy of her own home. Not about her work performance but about her, her eyes, her smile and the occasional touch. She had even had that one dream about her, well more a fantasy but she was in bed at the time so decided it must have been a dream.

Really, what would a twenty-five year old see in a forty-nine year old anyway? Even her husbands, who were her age, made it perfectly clear she was not an attractive woman. Sure she had power and presence, of that there was no doubt. She had accepted this about herself and made the most of what she had

As much as it pained her she was sure Andrea was going through a crush. She would let it pass in its natural course. However if it continued on in the New Year she would confront the issue. It wouldn't do for her to have appeared to welcome this attention. Also she liked Andrea too much, yes she actually liked an assistant, will wonders never cease, to have her think it was anything more. She would move on and Miranda would ensure it did not negatively affect her.

For the week before Christmas Andy had placed a yellow tulip with a note about Miranda's smile on her desk. She was amazed that Miranda kept them and had even instructed Jodie to get her a vase to use. The fact Miranda hadn't sacked her yet and had even placed the flowers beside her on the desk gave Andy hope. She had begun to believe this could actually work. She might just be able to interest Miranda enough to at least get a date. She knew she was still a bit away from that, but she had hope.

They broke for four days over the Christmas and Andy enjoyed spending time with her family. They had seemed genuinely happy to see her and there had been limited barbs from them regarding her increasing distance over the last year. They had shared presents, eaten too much, lounged around and generally had a fun relaxing time. Andy had been excited about getting back to work, or more precisely seeing Miranda again. She had really missed her. She knew it was only four days but it had felt like an eternity since she has seen her.

One of the first things she did was place a yellow tulip with a note that said


Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

Yours A.

She had placed them beside her coffee on the desk. She had thought hard about what she would write on this note. On the flight back she decided to step up the pace and at least start indicating where she wanted this to go. Shortly after Miranda entered her office she heard Miranda call and immediately entered the inner office.

'Andrea, while I am flattered by your attention, you must realise there is no future in this.' At this Andy felt her heart break. Here Miranda was as calm as you like telling her that there was no future for them. 'It is normal to develop a crush on your boss. There is nothing wrong with it. Do not think this reflects badly on you.'

Here was the woman she loved telling her she would be nothing more than a crush. That made it sound casual, of no consequence. Andy's ears started buzzing. She could see Miranda's expression and could not think of one word to say. She had no idea how she managed it but she made her way back to her desk and spent the rest of the day in a daze.

She rang Nigel on her way home after dropping off The Book. They agreed to meet in a café beside Andy's, which was becoming their regular haunt. After they sat down and were settled with their drinks Andy told him everything that happened.

'Well, you knew it wasn't going to be easy Andy. Miranda is a very proud solitary woman. The fact that you have gotten this far is amazing.' Nigel could see the upset in Andy's eyes but with this he started to see a glimmer of determination reenter her eyes. At this he was relieved. He thought both these women deserved happiness and could believe they would find it in each other.

'Andy, this isn't going to be easy, but only you can decide if it's worth it. You've seen now how she is going to react. From what you've said Miranda didn't deny the possibility she could develop feelings. She only said she thought you had a crush. And as far as Miranda is concerned she was trying to be understanding, uncharacteristic indeed, but she was and you have to hold onto that.'

'Of course she's worth it. It's not a crush Nigel. This is real and I am going to show her. She is not going to scare me away and she is going to understand that my feelings are genuine even if she doesn't feel the same way.' Andy balked at the idea but she determined that she would demonstrate to Miranda that she was genuine.


If kisses were water, I'd give you the ocean.

If hugs were leaves, I'd give you a forest.

If love was space, I'd give you the Universe.

Yours A.

Miranda had thought she had made herself perfectly clear yesterday with Andrea. Why did she continue with this nonsense? When she had arrived that morning a tiger lily with another note was sitting on her desk. It was beautiful. She knew the significance of the tiger lily and its meaning; I dare you to love me. She had not been oblivious to the meaning behind the yellow tulip either; there's sunshine in your smile. It was becoming obvious to her that Andrea was putting a lot of thought into the gesture. However she would not be made a fool of. She would not fall for Andrea's charm, only to find it short lived. She knew that if she allowed herself she would fall into those eyes and loose all reason. That could not happen, she had made it this far in life without losing herself, she had no intention of doing it now.

With Fashion Week starting in New York next week she did not have a moment to spare until late in the evening. She considered delaying the conversation with Andrea but though it best to get it out of the way now.

'Andrea' she called to the outer office. Andrea was the last person in the offices that late at night. She was just waiting for Miranda, who already had The Book. Andrea arrived just inside her office.

'Andrea, I thought I made myself clear yesterday. You will need to get over this crush immediately. That`s all.' Satisfied she had handled that issue to conclusion, she turned her attention to the computer to ensure there were no other items she had to address before leaving for the day.

'Miranda' was called from the doorway. She looked up surprised to see Andrea still standing there. Andrea came further into the room.

'Miranda, this is not a crush. For me this is neither a superficial nor temporary emotion. I realise you may find it hard to believe' at this she gave a small smile. 'But I don't remember a time I did not admire you, a time where I did not long to know you better. A time when I did not want to know what would make you happy, so I could see you smile, or what made you sad, so I could try to prevent it from happening. Nor do I want to.' At this Miranda was about to speak. Did she know what she was saying? Miranda couldn't believe she was hearing this directed at her. This is what happened in the movies or in books, this did not happen to her. Yet here she was sitting in her office listening to Andrea try to explain what she was feeling. Andrea prevented her from interjecting, which was just as well as for once she didn't know what to say. This was not going as planned at all.

'Before you ask or imply, no it was not and is not because of my job as your assistant. In fact the job has been more of a hindrance than a help. Yes it has allowed me closer than would otherwise be possible. Yet it has held me back knowing you are my boss and would be unlikely to see me beyond my role. But in spite of this or because of it, I have come to realise that it will be up to me to be seen, up to me to capture your attention. I want more than to be someone at the periphery of your life. I want to be the one you turn to. I want to be there for you.' At this Andrea looked directly into her eyes. Miranda was relieved she was still sitting as she was sure her legs would have failed her if she was standing, that look. At this point it was beyond Miranda's capacity to respond. So she sat looking at Andrea listening intently to what she was saying. One look into her eyes and she could see the sincerity and conviction in Andrea. No, this was not going as planned at all.

'I want to be the one to soothe any ache you feel, to caress away any pain inflicted. I want to be the cause of your smile, I want to make you laugh, I want your eyes to sparkle with happiness and to be the cause of your happiness.' Andrea paused and took a step closer, slightly around the desk. 'I dream about how you feel and yet one touch of your hand exceeds even my wildest dreams.' At this Miranda's heart started thumping even harder, she was sure Andrea could hear it, because now she was even closer. Even through her racing heart and the buzzing that had started in her ears, she heard Andrea continue in her calm, quiet, seductive voice.

'I want a relationship with you Miranda and only you. I want us to spend time together, get to know each other completely. I want to hold you, kiss you.' I can't, I can't. This is too much. But how could I not. No-one has ever looked at me that way, with such genuine emotion. At this point Andrea was standing beside her chair bent slightly at the waist. Oh my!

Andrea's face was getting closer very slowly, Miranda couldn't think, not once did it cross her mind to pull away. Andrea's lips grazed hers and Miranda whimpered, Andrea`s lips pressed more definitely against Miranda's drawing another whimper. Miranda's brain short circuited. Miranda had never been kissed by a woman before. Lips so soft, so gentle against her own. It was exquisite. Andrea continued to pepper Miranda's lips with kisses. Somehow her hands made it to the back of Miranda's head and were tracing soothing patterns. Miranda fell into the kisses, was consumed by the moment. It was more than she had ever felt before.

Inevitably Miranda came back to herself and withdrew from Andrea. It took a moment to catch her breath and bring her system under control. When she looked up at Andrea, who was also catching her breath, the only thing going through her mind was Wow, Wow, WOW!

'Well that was something Andrea' Miranda was scrambling to collect herself and get some control of the situation. She had never been so affected by a kiss before. She was throbbing in places she had long ago determined just weren't in working order. Andrea, her assistant, had just proven they worked perfectly well given the right encouragement and stimulus.

'Yes it was, and it is only the beginning.' How will I survive more than that? Is it even possible? Oh my!

'You seem very sure of yourself Andrea' Miranda gave her a very pointed stare, meant to question her sanity and was completely unprepared for the response.

'It is fear keeping you from accepting me and all I want, no need, to offer. But Miranda I will prove to you that you have nothing to fear from me and I will be here waiting when you are ready.' With that Andrea left the office.

Miranda sat back in her chair, relieved she had nowhere to be and no one was around to see her. She was trembling all over and more excited than she had ever been before. Her mind kept replaying the whole conversation including the kiss. She became more and more excited as she thought about the kiss, it was on instant playback and her body longed for it to last longer, to go further. But it was Andrea's monologue that really was her undoing. No-one had ever spoken to her with such passion, such obvious care and longing. No one had dared challenge the façade she put forward, had ever seen beyond it. It was too much to process, so for the rest of the evening she basked in the feelings and decided she would respond as she saw fit tomorrow.

For the rest of the week Andy continued to place a tiger lily and a note on Miranda's desk every morning. On the morning after her declaration in Miranda's office, Andy was nervous, wondering how Miranda would respond. Would she fire her, make her life more difficult? Andy didn't even consider an acceptance of her statements and a positive response. No, that would not be Miranda's style. She was somewhat surprised when there were no obvious signs that Miranda even remembered the encounter. Miranda had come in to the office like she had so many times before and threw her coat and bag on the desk and started listing actions for the day. She did however pay attention to the flower and note on her desk, nod her head and place the flower in water before reading the note.

Give me a chance,

It was a kiss to build a dream on.

Yours A.

Over the next couple of days Andy started noticing little things. Miranda started holding her gaze a little longer in the lift. There was even once Andy caught Miranda looking at her instead of a shoot. Not only that but Miranda's gaze glazed a little and a flush was making its way up her neck. There was even once Miranda leaned into her touch getting out of the car. They were minute details but they meant the world to Andy.

With Fashion Week season upon them everything was chaotic in the office. They were all working eighteen hour days. Andy noticed Miranda didn't seem to take a minute to relax. She was as collected as ever and continued to be at least two steps ahead of everyone else. She was the focus everywhere she went, so never had an opportunity to relax. Then, towards the end of New York Fashion Week, Andy had an idea. While she had made her declaration there had been little opportunity to follow up on it other than to continue with flowers and love notes. Now it was time to take it further. With that she cleared some time in Miranda's diary and set to planning a couple of hours.

Friday evening Miranda left the last show of the week and climbed into the car beside Andy. Andy gave Roy a nod and he took them to their destination. It was only when they stopped and Miranda stepped from the car she noticed they were not back at Elias-Clarke. Andy came around the car and closed the door after telling Roy they would meet in two hours. With that she turned to Miranda.

'Where exactly are we Andrea?' was the opening remark from Miranda.

'You'll see, please come this way Ms Priestly.' Andy did this with as much flourish and confidence as possible. She led them to the entrance of Central Park and over to a horse drawn carriage. 'Here we are. Please let me help you up'. For a moment Miranda looked as if she would object and then climbed up into the carriage.

'Very well.' Miranda sat on the far side of the carriage. Andy got up beside her and covered them both with a blanket. She had arranged for a luxury carriage with heated seats. With that they took off. Andy had organized a two hour ride through central park. It was a very crisp clear day. Miranda began to relax after fifteen minutes. It was very slight but she seemed to ease back into the seat and observed the world as it passed.

'And what about my appointments?'

'I rescheduled them and have arranged for Roy to meet us in two hours to bring us to your house so you can change for the party tonight.' Miranda gave a nod of her head and a slight smile passed her lips. Andy saw it and a thrill ran through her. Then she reached over and pulled a basket and table from beneath the front panel. She took out a steak dinner and placed it in front of Miranda. Miranda quirked her eyebrow, but said nothing. Andy also placed a glass of her favourite red wine beside the plate. She took a deep breath and pulled out the last items, her own dinner, a red rose and an iphone. She placed the rose between them and started playing soft music from the iphone.

'To an amazing, vibrant, intelligent and beautiful woman. To you Miranda' was the toast Andy made. Miranda nodded her head, looking a little skeptical, and then smiled at Andrea. Wow! That smile! It sent shivers through Andy. She really was a beautiful woman.

Miranda turned and started eating her dinner. They ate in silence listening to the music and taking in the scenery they passed. When she was finished Miranda sighed and sat back in the seat. Andy placed all the dishes back into the basket and put it and the table away. She then sat back against the seat too, placing her hand next to Miranda's on the blanket covering them. They traveled through Central at a relaxed pace in a comfortable silence.

Five minutes later Andy looked across at Miranda and realised she had fallen asleep. Miranda leaned over onto her and rested her head on her shoulder. A wash of tenderness ran through Andy. She made sure the blanket was secure around Miranda and settled back to enjoy the view. As they neared the entrance of Central Park again, Andy leaned over and kissed Miranda gently on the lips. Miranda stirred and her eyes fluttered open. She looked up at Andy and Andy's heart stopped.

'Wakey, wakey gorgeous, we're almost back to the car.'

'Well that was quite pleasant. Thank you Andrea.' At that Miranda straightened up and ensured her hair and clothes were in order.

'You're welcome.' Andy said with a smile. That evening at the party Miranda was stunning. She was vibrant and enthralling. Andy couldn't believe that on occasion she would look across to her and smile.

That night Andy lay awake for hours reliving every moment she spent in Miranda's company. It was amazing, she hadn't thought it possible to fall further in love with Miranda but she had managed to do so. While Miranda had yet to comment on what was happening, Andy was full of hope and excitement, everything was going so well. She had always known it would take time. Miranda wasn't easily impressed and was very slow to demonstrate how she was feeling, so the smiles and acceptance of the chances Andy had taken were thrilling. Miranda had even trusted her enough to fall asleep on her shoulder and allowed her to kiss her without comment.

Fashion Week in New York had gone exceptionally well this year. Miranda was very pleased with the shows and had even found the parties to be less tedious than usual. To say she had been surprised by Andrea and the carriage ride through Central Park would be an understatement. She had to admit it was very romantic, and the food had been exactly what she needed. No one had ever taken the effort to do something like that for her before. Not even her husbands, of course they had gone out to dinner together and the occasional show. But rarely had they come just when she needed it and expected nothing in return. Oh Andrea was definitely melting the 'Ice Queen'.

The break between New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week had been full but she had managed to keep her promises of the schedule for the girls. It appeared that as soon as New York Fashion Week was out of the way, Andrea had decided that it should be reintroduced to her diary. She really was a marvel. The girls were in good form lately, Caroline's nightmares seemed to have stopped and Cassidy hadn't been involved in any fights recently. Add that to the fact that she was sleeping really well with images of Andrea sending her to sleep every night. She still relived the kiss in her office and now she had the one that woke her in Central Park to add to the memories. Oh her dreams had definitely become more pleasant.

She had to leave the girls behind as she traveled to London and then to Milan. She rang them every night to catch up with their day and managed to answer most questions they asked. Fortunately she had an uncontested divorce from Stephen so now that messy business was over. He hadn't even wanted access to the Cassidy and Caroline after it was final. This had gone unquestioned by the girls as they did not seem to want to see him again either. Apparently they had been looking forward to the divorce. She wondered if this development with Andrea continued if Andrea and the girls would get on or even if Andrea considered them in the equation. She knew the girls went out to see her when she delivered the book, she hoped it wasn't still to laugh at her.

London was satisfactory so far. She had attended the usual shows, luncheons and parties every day. It tended to be on par with Milan, they were both much quieter than either New York or Paris. However it was imperative she attend all four twice a year. It was much more pleasant to have a competent assistant to ensure she was at the right events. It also didn't hurt that it was Andrea. Those eyes were still driving her to distraction, however she didn't mind nearly as much anymore.

This morning had seen a new designer successfully show their new designs. Miranda would keep track of them over the next couple of months and consider showing them in Runway. Lunch with the organisers had been as bland as would be expected. Really did they have to kiss her ass that much. She thought it would chaff if she didn't get out of there. She was pleasantly surprised to see Andrea waiting for her at the car.

After about fifteen minutes the car pulled in and Miranda did not know where she was. Usually when she traveled to various Fashion Weeks she saw the same places filled with the same people. But this place was new. She looked across at Andrea, quirking her eyebrow in question.

'Welcome to the South Bank, I believe there are a number of exhibitions that would interest you showing at the moment.' With that Andrea led them from the car and into the nearest gallery. Miranda was thoroughly taken with the work of the featured artist in the first gallery they visited, Val Cummins. It was fresh and vibrant and held her attention from the first canvas to the last. Miranda purchased a number of the pieces and arranged shipment.

They continued to view the various galleries along the South Bank. Miranda was charmed by the extent of Andrea's knowledge about art and the fact she could maintain an educated conversation throughout the afternoon. As the evening approached Miranda started to become hungry but hesitated to mention it as she did not want their time to end.

To her delight Andrea led them into a stylish restaurant. She found that the menu was one that served a wide variety of food. She quickly chose and they continued to discuss the last exhibition they had seen until the food arrived. Miranda noticed that over dinner Andrea had steered the conversation towards her. She was asking general questions, obviously trying to get to know her better. Miranda was surprised that she found she didn't mind answering her and even asked a number of interested questions herself.

Miranda was surprised that it was well into the evening when Andrea asked for the bill. Miranda looked at Andrea with a puzzled look on her face when she noticed Andrea pay for the meal with her own card and not one from Runway. Andrea obviously caught her look.

'This is us time Miranda, it has nothing to do with Runway.' was the response as if it explained everything. Miranda decided that it might just explain everything too.

'Yes, it was Andrea, next time is my treat.' At this a magnificent smile spread across Andrea's face and lit up her eyes. Miranda could not help herself in the face of such beauty, she leaned over and kissed Andrea briefly on the lips. It was like an electric shock she felt to her core. Another wonderful memory of Andrea, they were increasing in number.

Andy was on cloud nine. Her courting of Miranda was going very well. Miranda had even been the one to initiate a kiss in London. Andy had stayed awake for hours that night replaying the kiss and remembering the look in Miranda's eyes as she said it would be her treat next time. This meant so much. She was not being rejected in her actions towards Miranda, but now Miranda suggested there would be a next time and she would even pay for it. Oh it wasn't the money but the fact that it was now no longer only Andy committed to their building relationship. It was just so exciting.

Nigel complained that he had to keep the phone away from his ear until her screeching had stopped. He had then arranged to meet her in the lounge of the hotel. Andy was surprised that she did not want to share all the details with Nigel anymore. She knew he had helped in the beginning and was wishing her success. But for some reason, it felt like she was exposing Miranda and that just didn't feel right, so she kept it to the bare facts and held off on sharing specifics.

On their first day in Milan, Miranda had informed Andy she should keep Thursday evening free. This was Miranda's quietest day in Milan so Andy decided they could spend time together in the afternoon then in the evening as well. This time she decided to check with Miranda before she organized anything. Miranda had smiled as she asked and told her they would need to be back at the hotel for six for dinner from the hotel restaurant before they went out.

So on Thursday afternoon, after a luncheon Miranda attended they took the car across Milan. Andy had decided to start their exploration with a tour at Sforza Castle. From here they visited Santa Maria delle Grazie to view Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Il Duomo cathedral was the next stop on their tour. The world's largest gothic church, with its cavernous interior was amazing. The brightly coloured stained glass and frescoes captured their attention and they spent quite a lot of time there. They then went to the Victor Emmanuel Galleria, a pedestrian mall, built in the 1800s, with a large arched glass ceiling. By the time they had explored here it was time to head back to the hotel to change for dinner and their evening.

At five to six Miranda rang Andy and asked her to go to her suite. Andy knocked nervously at the suite door. She was excited about the evening but very nervous too. She wondered where Miranda had planned. As Miranda opened the door with an equally nervous look in her eyes, Andy felt her nerves calm. She walked into the room and heard Miranda close the door behind her.

'You look breathtaking' was all she could think to say. Miranda didn't look quite like she believed her though. This prompted her to follow up with 'You really are an amazingly beautiful woman Miranda.' At this she made sure to capture Miranda's eyes and make sure she was believed. She was amazed to see a blush cover Miranda's face that traveled over her ears and down her neck. But the look of pleasure in her eyes was worth it.

After this Miranda invited her to sit at the table in the middle of the room, which had been set. She noticed a candle on the table and heard soft music in the background. Andy was flattered by the preparation that went into it and was pleased that as she hadn't arranged it Miranda must have done so herself. This touched Andy's heart and made her blush with pleasure. She made a move to kiss Miranda, but a knock at the door prevented her from making any contact.

Miranda had chosen one of her favourite meals and they enjoyed a very pleasant dinner together. Conversation, like in London and earlier that day, flowed easily and they started having more personal conversation. After dinner they made their way to a waiting car outside the hotel. Andy was delighted to see they were to spend the evening at La Scala. The world famous venue for opera was as spectacular and as extraordinary as she had heard and read about.

She thoroughly enjoyed the opera. Although, she wouldn't be able to tell whether it was the opera or Miranda leaning slightly closer than normal in their private box she enjoyed most. After the interval Miranda had settled beside her and held her hand. This had nearly sent Andy through the roof. She really hadn't expected it. Miranda tended to still be stiff, almost formal, with her. Except for the occasional glance, a fleeting moment, it was almost as if nothing had changed between them. But sitting there barely touching except for their fingers, definitely meant she enjoyed the opera even more after that.

The afternoon and evening had been a dream come true. Andy felt she was getting closer and closer to Miranda and it seemed Miranda was invested as well. That evening when she returned to her room she couldn't relax at all. She was twisting and turning in the bed and her limbs didn't seem to want to belong to her anymore.

At about two in the morning she reached under the covers and took off her t-shirt. She had been trying to hold on until she was with Miranda, but she felt she would combust if she didn't do something soon. She started by grazing her fingers over her stomach, tracing patterns over her jumping flesh. She raised her hands and started running them over her breasts, making sure she avoided her rock hard nipples. Circling, smoothing, squeezing.

When it became too much she removed her hands and licked her fingers, speedily returning them to her breasts. This time she caught her nipples in a pinch and twisted them slightly. Her body was arched, between her legs was wetter than ever before. She was creating wet patch on the bed. She pulled and pinched, twisted and rolled. Driving her closer and closer to the edge. Her back arched off the bed. Her toes curled. Her mouth open, gasping. A sheen of sweat breaking out all over her skin. A flood of moisture between her legs.

Suddenly she jumped from the bed and ran to the bathroom. Turning on the shower as cold as possible. She stood under it until she was shivering from the cold and not from the heat. She would wait if possible.

Miranda was delighted to get some time at home between Milan and Paris. She had once proclaimed that 'Paris was the most important week of her entire year'. This simply wasn't true. Oh she wanted everyone to believe it was. After all it wouldn't do for the Ice Queen of Runway not to declare one of the most important weeks in the Fashion world as her most important week. But to her personally the weeks between Milan and Paris and the other weeks during the year she got to spend with her daughters were the most important. She made it very clear to her assistants every year that she was to have as few meetings as possible scheduled for the week between Milan and Paris.

The girls really enjoyed it every year. She always planned activities for them all to do. This year she had planned ice skating, the zoo, a trip to the Guggenheim Museum, which they loved and had organised a two day skiing trip for them all. On the flight back from Milan she had looked across the aisle at Andrea sleeping. She had looked so peaceful, without a care in the world. Miranda acknowledged to herself that she was becoming very attached to her. She was touched beyond reason at the attempts Andrea had gone to get her attention. No-one had ever gone to such effort or had seemed to know what she would appreciate.

She knew the one thing all her previous relationships had lacked was her participation. Enough people had told her that she didn't communicate enough, didn't seem invested in the relationship, had kept them at a distance that it had reached the stage that she couldn't refute the accusations. This was something she wanted to overcome in a relationship with Andrea. However now she really wanted to she found it impossible. Before she just hadn't been bothered, everything else had been more important. Now she was bothered, now she wanted to be involved. The problem was, Andrea had been right that night in her office. She was scared.

She knew that Andrea was the person who could get through all her barriers. Could be the person to see the real Miranda. Could be the love of her life. Even as she said it in her head she thought it sounded trite, and yet she couldn't deny the truth of it. And that scared her. She had never before let anyone so close and even then her first divorce had stung. Miranda was self aware enough and scared enough to admit to herself she might not survive if her relationship with Andrea didn't work.

It was due to this she was in the predicament she was in. While she was scared and part of her suggested she stop this developing further with Andrea, the other part realized it was already too late. If they stopped now and Andrea withdrew she wasn't sure how she would manage. So she did what any self respecting person did, nothing.

So the week between Milan and Paris was spent with the girls for the most part. She had one meeting Tuesday morning but the rest of the week was laid back and enjoyable. She continued to review The Book every evening and spent an hour going through e-mails and responding to correspondence only she could address.

On Wednesday she received a text out of the blue.

You look beautiful today. How do I know?

Because you look beautiful every day. A.

She was delighted. She had missed her daily note from Andrea. She had received one every day since the first one until they returned from Milan on Sunday. Today she decided to do something uncharacteristic. She text back.

Each day I am more amazed by you. M

So it went for the rest of the week they exchanged texts every day. Miranda found by Sunday she was looking forward to, even excited about seeing Andrea. The smile that welcomed her was breathtaking and Miranda felt the desire to kiss her there in front of everyone. She was Miranda Priestly and couldn't do it, but for once she wished she could. She arranged for them to sit next to each other on the flight. She knew Andrea got sympathetic looks from the rest but knew by the look in her eye she was delighted.

Halfway there, when everyone was settled, she held Andreas hand under the blanket covering them. Andrea started playing with her fingers, trailing designs on her palm. It was glorious. It was sending incredible sensations up through her arm and all over her body. It was relaxing and exciting at the same time. She closed her eyes and imagined those fingers tracing patterns on other parts of her body. The sensation continued and she was surprised to release a slight moan. In shock she opened her eyes and looked across at Andrea. It was obvious Andrea heard her by the heat in her gaze.

They continued to look into each others eyes for a long moment, speaking volumes without saying a word. Miranda could see a multitude of emotions pass through Andrea's eyes. She was sure the same could be seen in hers.


Chapter 5

Andy had been planning their day in Paris with great care and excitement. She had arranged for Miranda, with her permission of course, to fly back a day later than she usually would. This meant they had a whole day to spend together. She had instructed Miranda to wear comfortable clothes with shoes that were made for walking. Miranda had looked at her suspiciously but agreed. She was really looking forward to being able to spend time together.

Paris had been a very successful for Miranda and she had finished all her meetings the following evening. Andy knew she would have to check e-mails and make a couple of phone calls today so arranged for Andy to pick her up at 10am. So there she was at 10am with a red rose picking Miranda for their date. She was nervous, scared silly really. Things had been going so well she was afraid of anything going wrong that could ruin it. But as with every step she had taken, she took a deep breath and knocked at the door.

When Miranda opened the door, Andy thought she would pass out. Her breathing stopped and her brain went into overload. Miranda was standing there in a pair of jeans. Yes jeans, they were of course Gucci jeans, which probably cost more than she made in a month, but still jeans. She looked stunning, breath taking, amazing, Wow! When Andy's brain decided to kick in again she realized she must have been standing there staring with her mouth hanging open, which she quickly closed. Miranda gave her an amused look and invited her into the room as she got her coat.

Andy watched her go to the far end of the room to get her coat and couldn't take her eyes of Miranda's ass. She was used to seeing her in a skirt, or on the rare occasion she wore a pantsuit, she tended towards a long jacket. But standing there looking at her ass Andy was convinced time slowed down. It was a thing of beauty. Her eyes refused to move from it. She was consumed with lust so strong she could hardly contain herself. Then Miranda gathered her coat and scarf and turned around. Andy felt a flush across her face but didn't care and looked directly into Miranda's eyes. Miranda initially seemed taken aback but gathered herself and then looked rather pleased. Andy caught her before they left the room and kissed her. Just a soft kiss on her lips to let Miranda know she was desired. She had lingered on her lips and heard Miranda's breath catch. When she pulled away, she noticed Miranda's eyes were closed and she was having trouble catching her breath. Andy was in a similar predicament and seeing Miranda so obviously affected touched her deeply.

Shortly after they collected themselves, they headed out the door. Andy all the while reminding herself that she would wait for the perfect moment with Miranda, she would not push, she really was happy to take it slowly. Really. A car was waiting for them at the entrance of the hotel. They were taken to Sacre Couer. Andy had heard about it from a friend and was really looking forward to seeing it. As it was a Saturday there were loads of street artists around. Andy managed to convince Miranda to watch a few of them. At one stage she looked over and Miranda was almost smiling. She took this as a good sign. She saw a carousel but decided not to push her look, another time maybe.

They made their way to the basilica and spent time admiring the architecture, the bronze statues and the mosaics. Andy then convinced Miranda to climb to the top of the dome, where they could see for 30 miles. It was amazing. Conversation was light and they were like any two tourists taking in the sights. Miranda gradually seemed to relax and start enjoying herself. Andy touched Miranda briefly on a couple of occasions and Miranda had not pulled away which lightened Andy's step.

After taking their time around the basilica they wandered through the surrounding streets. They spent their time window shopping or occasionally going into a gallery when it caught their eye. They stopped for lunch in a little café in one of the streets which allowed them time to admire the view. Halfway through lunch Andy realized they had spent all their time looking at each other, sharing the occasional smile. Andy then gathered all her courage and placed her hand over Miranda's on the table. With bated breath Andy waited for Miranda's response. She still wasn't sure if Miranda would remove her hand and give her a disapproving glare, effectively ending their day. Much to Andy's delight though Miranda turned her hand and allowed their fingers to entwine. Andy was giddy with this and Miranda gave her an amused look which almost made t past her eyes and into her facial expression.

After leaving the café they went back to the car, still holding hands. Andy was sure this was the only thing keeping her earth bound. They were taken across Paris to the Louvre Museum. They spent the afternoon wandering between the various exhibits. Andy was thrilled when Miranda didn't pull her hand away when she took it after entering the building. After they spent time walking through the Latin Quarter. Andy couldn't believe how well their day was going. Conversation was easy and the silences were comfortable. She constantly felt tingles going up and down her arm from their joined hands. Miranda also seemed to be enjoying herself. No-one recognised her so she was free to soak up the sites like a tourist instead of having to be conscious of her appearance.

At quarter past five the car collected them and took them to the Eiffel Tower. Andy had heard that the Eiffel Tower at sunset was one of the most romantic thing to do in Paris `+and was feverently hoping it lived up to its reputation. They got the lift to the top level. Andy led Miranda across to the edge. They stood silently, looking out over Paris holding hands. The Arc De Triomphe was being lit up. The sun set threw amazing colours across the sky, catching the clouds and turning them more shades of colour than Andy had every seen. She couldn't believe she could share this with Miranda, it was perfect, more than she hoped for. Miranda looked across at her then with an indecipherable look in her eyes.

'Thank you for today Andrea' was said in a soft emotion laden voice. Andy's breath caught at the words and her heart melted completely looking at Miranda. She realised that she loved her. Standing there in the cold with the sunset enhancing Miranda's beauty, Paris in the background. Andrea gave her heart over completely to Miranda. Coming back to the present she heard the soft music playing in the background.

'It has been my pleasure Miranda. Will you dance with me?' Standing there with the world at their feet and Andy's heart soaring among the stars, Miranda stepped into Andy's arms and they danced.

Miranda was in a foul mood and had been since they returned from Paris. She had been rushed off her feet, surrounded by incompetence to the extent that she had to work longer hours just to get Runway out on time. She had hardly seen her girls, other than to wake them up in the morning and as she looked in on them when she returned from the office late at night. She noticed they had started sleeping in Caroline's bed together again. This annoyed her more than anything else. Not that they did it, but that she was around so little they had started to do it again. Their psychologist had told her they did this as a comfort when they felt insecure of her love. She was in agony because felt she was failing as a mother. She committed to spending more time with them.

The only glimmer of positivity was Andrea. While she hadn't seen too much of her since they returned, she felt her presence. She continued to receive a flower every day with a note. Yesterday sitting at her desk she noticed a new screen saver on her computer. It was a slideshow of pictures, some of Central Park, London, Milan, Paris, all places they had seen together, and the occasional teddy bear holding a rose or blowing a kiss. It had almost made her smile, which would not have done as Nigel had taken that moment to walk into her office. Added to this was the nightly text message wishing her sweet dreams, which she starting returning. She couldn't believe she was acting and feeling like a teenager some of the time.

Sitting there in her armchair, wine glass in hand, having finished The Book she thought back over their last day in Paris. It had been perfect. The day being both relaxing and exciting, the evening being both passionate and tender. They had danced on top of the Eiffel Tower, this had taken Miranda by surprise. She had been thoroughly enchanted with Andy and the effort that went into planning their day. She had believed nothing could top looking out over Paris at sunset holding hands of the one who was coming to mean so much to her. She had been wrong.

Due to their difference in height Miranda only came to just above Andreas shoulder. They had started out at a distance from each other, Andrea holding her lightly in the circle of her arms. As Miranda relaxed, she had felt herself leaning in further and she was welcomed by Andrea. It was then Miranda realised that at this level in their relationship Andrea would let her decide at what pace they moved. Andrea had been very forward regarding expressing her interest and had even initiated physical contact but it was always light, fleeting. Enough to let her know she was there but she never forced the issue. Miranda came to an understanding that Andrea's words that evening in her office had been true. She would be there waiting when Miranda was ready. It was because of this Miranda almost found herself crying on the top of the Eiffel Tower. Instead she had placed her head on Andrea's shoulder and enjoyed the moment.

Remembering that moment Miranda was amazed at the feeling of safety that washed over her at just the memory of the moment. All her previous relationships had been with people taller than her, but dancing in Andreas arms was the first time she felt safe in the arms of another. With everyone else she knew they wanted something from her. They wanted prestige, they wanted power and they wanted sex. They had always been challenged by her success in business and by her strength of character. Because of this they had in private always seemed to want to be the leader, the one in charge. Oh it had never been violent or anything like that, but it had also never been tender or caring. Sex had had its purpose and she was delighted with her daughters. It had just never been satisfying, she had been there physically but for the most she was just waiting for it to be over. She had always remained detached. This was something each of her husbands had thrown at her as a cause of their divorce. Yet she couldn't bring herself to feel totally responsible because at no stage did she remember them wooing her or taking her needs into consideration. It was like her parents, they had expected her to love them and do things for them but had never shown and tenderness or comfort when she needed it. Oh her husbands were there for the dinners out when they could show her off, but they had never bothered with the subtleties that Andrea seemed to excel at.

With Andrea she always felt like she was seen. She felt the purpose was to be with her, get to know her. Even the conversations weren't around work or acquaintances, they were about Miranda and what she thought of various things. Andrea shared parts of herself with Miranda too. Yet Andrea never asked or implied anything additional was expected. Andrea still turned up early everyday for work. Did her job, better than anyone had before her. Endured the same scathing remarks as others when everything went wrong. Put in long hours and got no thanks. Yet that evening in Paris after dinner in the hotel restaurant, Andrea walked her to her room. Stepped in to place a soft kiss on her lips. Miranda had pulled her closer and kissed her deeply. Andreas hands had come to rest on her waist, tracing up her back, holding her close. Miranda couldn't believe the depth of the kiss or the tingles it sent through her body. It was glorious. Miranda had felt like she could stay there forever. After an indeterminate amount of time Andy had stepped back tracing soft kisses over her face and down her throat.

'Thank you Miranda for such a wonderful day' had been whispered into her ear before she felt Andrea draw back and hold her in a light embrace. She had looked up into Andreas eyes as she tried to bring her breathing under control and her knees had felt weak. With one last kiss on the lips Andrea had backed out towards the door and disappeared through it.

Sitting there in the comfort of her own home, she wondered if she wasn't just a foolish old woman seeing something that wasn't there. Just because at this point in her life she wanted it so badly didn't mean it was real. She knew Andrea was genuine in her belief of her feelings, that wasn't in doubt, but she wondered if it would pass. If something else captured her attention did Miranda have enough to hold her interest. What did she have to offer Andrea if it wasn't power or connections she wanted. She was an older woman with two almost teenage children. Her children were already quite a handful. She also wondered what Andrea would think of her when she removed her clothes. Oh she knew when she put on designer clothes and applied her make up she was seen as an attractive woman, if unconventional. However, without all the glamour she only had a serviceable body, as her last husband had kindly informed her on numerous occasions. In her early years she had the youthful beauty of tight skin, perky breasts and a flat stomach. She wasn't delusional enough to think that was still on offer.

Where had this maudlin mood come from? It must be just the combination of tiredness and the stress of work. She would go up to bed, get some sleep and snap out of it by tomorrow. She would find a way to spend more time with her daughters and with Andrea.

Andy was so excited Miranda had invited her over to her house for dinner with her daughters. She rang Nigel in excitement, giving him the usual overview and generally told him again and again just because he was the only one she could. She decided to go casual and tied her hair back lightly. When she got there she was shown into the dining room by Rosario.

'Hi Miranda' she said with a bright smile, she was delighted to see her as it felt like years not just weeks since Paris. 'Hey Cassidy, Hey Caroline' she addressed the twins getting their names right. She saw surprise in Miranda's eyes but decided to continue 'How did Cindy's party go?' There was definitely surprise in Miranda's eyes now. She hadn't yet mentioned to Miranda her nightly conversations with the girls when she delivered The Book, but did so immediately. Miranda seemed pleased with this and turned to the table and the food that was being placed in front of her.

Conversation was relaxed and flowed through dinner, however Andy noticed Miranda only made the occasional comment. She was surprised but the girls acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary, so she continued chatting with them. After dinner the girls raced upstairs to their rooms. Andy and Miranda went into the sitting room.

'You seem to know them well' Miranda looked at her closely.

'As I said they started asking me questions when I delivered The Book, and over the last few weeks we spend a couple of minutes talking' Andy shrugged, she wasn't sure about the look on Miranda's face so was trying to thread carefully.

'You know more about what's happening than I do' Ah so that was the issue, shit, how was she going to navigate this.

'Well you know it's always different talking to your mother than other people'.

'No, not really.' Miranda seemed to be closing up. Andy didn't know how to tackle this. It wasn't that she had kept her conversations from Miranda, it just hadn't crossed her mind because the stuff she knew about was little and limited. It was also against the rules to talk to anyone when delivering The Book, so for the most part she had listened and said very little. She did hope to get to know them better but had waited until Miranda invited her. It would appear now that her little bit of knowledge was still more than Miranda's. She could see the hurt in her eyes but didn't want to push the issue.

'Most of the conversation at dinner was about new movies and music, not specific to them Miranda, just general conversation' Miranda seemed to consider this and relaxed slightly. Andy allowed herself to relax a bit then, it seemed that landmine was avoided. It was great to be there with Miranda and she sat beside her on the couch. They held hands and talked. At the end of the evening Andy had leaned over and gently kissed Miranda, her lips were amazingly soft. She was delighted to feel Miranda deepen the kiss and bring her hands to Andy's body. Andy was on cloud nine in the car on the way home, Miranda had refused to let her use the subway. Roy looked at her quizzically in the mirror but she just shrugged and smiled.

This became a regular occurrence. Andy went for dinner at least twice a week and then herself and Miranda either retired to the office or the sitting room. It wasn't until four weeks after their first dinner Miranda leaned towards her while they held hands. At this Andy put her arms around Miranda and pulled her into a hug. Miranda was very stiff initially and Andy went to pull back but Miranda murmured 'No'. They still talked or sat in silence most of the time and only kissed before Andy had to leave.

Over the couple of months Andy and Miranda also went out to dinner once a week. Andy fell deeper and deeper in love with Miranda but continued to let her set the pace physically. She was sure Miranda had feelings for her, even though she wasn't quite sure the extent of them. She did know that Miranda seemed to be more comfortable hugging her now. She understood Miranda was an independent person and didn't want her to change at all. So as frustrating as it was she would continue to wait for Miranda and take loads of cold showers.

Then one day Andy opened her mail and got a shock. The New York post was offering her a position with them. She had continued her writing while waiting for The Book every evening and most weekends. She had a number of pieces published, which she had celebrated with Miranda, and was developing a name for herself. For Andy this job offer meant that she would be one step closer to her dream job and it would put her relationship on a more level playing field as it would no longer have the dual aspects of work and private time which was becoming more and more of a strain on her. All she had to do now was tell Miranda her news. She was so excited, she saw this as an opportunity for them to develop their relationship further.

Andrea turned up that evening with The Book. Instead of leaving as she usually did when they didn't have any prior agreement Andrea went into the sitting room. Miranda saw the look of excitement on her face and braced herself. She was sure there was nothing that happened that day in work that would have caused that reaction, so something else must have happened. Miranda got up and crossed the room to her.

'Miranda, look at this. You know all those pieces I've been writing. The New York Times finally have a job vacancy and have offered the post to me. Isn't that wonderful?' At this Miranda's ears started to buzz. This was it. Her world was about to collapse. Out of nowhere had come the moment Andrea moved on and left her behind. How had this happened? Why wasn't she better prepared than this? She knew it was coming, hadn't she? Sure she had hoped it was just her fear talking but it could no longer be denied.

'Well really they must be desperate' at this Miranda saw Andrea's face fall. She had no idea why she said that. No, no, no. She should be more supportive, more mature about Andrea leaving her. She was really happy for Andrea. She deserved nothing but the best and Miranda knew from all their conversations that Andrea still wanted to be a journalist. Miranda had just managed to put the reality of that out of her mind when they talked.

'Wh.... wha......what?' came from the general direction Andrea was in. Her survival instincts seemed to have gone into overdrive and she was being Miranda Priestly Super Bitch. She hadn't been like this around Andrea in so long it seemed unreal. But she could see from the look in Andrea's eyes she really had said that.

'Well really you haven't been doing anything but small pieces lately.' Andrea looked heart broken. Stop talking Miranda, really just shut up. Miranda couldn't seem to control herself though. She was terrified of Andrea leaving her and never seeing her anymore. Petrified that the old phrase 'out of sight out of mind' would apply and she would lose the one person that was becoming to mean everything to her. For some reason this seemed to result in her being be mean and cutting and as far from supportive as possible. What ever happened to being the older, mature person in the relationship?

'You... why?... Mir... what?' Miranda looked across and saw Andrea with tears in her eyes looking like someone had just kicked her. Well she had, hadn't she?

Miranda couldn't take anymore she just crumbled. She felt her knees give out and suddenly she was a quivering mess in the middle of her sitting room. Thankfully the girls were with their father for his birthday so weren't in the house. She didn't want to be a super bitch with Andrea, Andrea deserved much better.

Miranda couldn't breathe. She was gasping but her lungs just didn't seem to be working. Her whole body seemed to be going into shock. What was happening? She couldn't stop shaking or gasping. She realised she must look absolutely ridiculous laying there in a heap on the floor. She needed to pull herself together. As she came back to herself she felt Andrea beside her. Rubbing her back, trying to calm her down. She hadn't felt any movement but somehow they were on the couch. Andrea was holding her in a hug whispering soothing words in her ear. This position had become so familiar it allowed her to collect herself. After some time she stood up and walked to the window. She took a deep breath and turned around. She was Miranda Priestly, she could handle this, the last 20 minutes not withstanding.

She looked across at Andrea sitting on the couch looking at her with concern in her eyes. 'Just say what you have to say' and leave was the unsaid but understood end to the sentence.

Miranda stood tall with her chin jutting out and eyes as cold as ice behind her glasses. It was a look perfected after years of practice, one meant to intimidate, to show she didn't care. A look that never failed to have the desired effect. She hoped the shake in her body wasn't too noticeable. She was hanging on by a thread. She would allow Andrea to leave with some amount of dignity. She felt as if she was sliding and there was no way to brace for impact. The buzzing in her ears had returned and was becoming so loud she almost didn't hear the response.

'I love you' What? What did you say? What? This was all that went through her mind. Surely she misheard, surely Andrea had not just said 'I love you'. Some of this must have shown on her face, she had no idea how, she felt frozen.

'I love you Miranda' OK, she heard right the first time, but still What? She had been sure this was it, she had managed to convince herself this was the end. Her eyes kicked in and she could see Andrea looking at her. The look in her eyes ensuring there could be no doubting the sincerity of the statement. She had stayed awake at night thinking that if Andrea ever left Runway she would leave her behind too. She couldn't see any other possibility.

'What?' she said sharply. There, she had finally responded, not quite sure what she was asking though. At this Andrea gave her a look of understanding.

'I love you Miranda, you will not chase me away', Andrea stood up and took a small step closer. 'I love you, nothing you say or do will make it any less true. You can insult me' another tiny step. 'I love you, you can hide behind as many walls as you like, you can take this relationship as slowly as you like, but it won't make any difference, I love you Miranda Priestly' another tiny step closer. Miranda realised Andrea was moving and took a step back.

'What?' might as well stick with a tried and tested response, nothing else would come to her. Although this time it wasn't quite as sharply spoken as the last time, no, this time she heard a slight quiver in her voice. This was only understandable considering how much her body was shaking

She looked up, straight into the eyes that were getting ever so gradually closer. This was not right. This isn't how she expected it to go. What was Andrea doing? She was getting closer. Miranda took another step back. She was so convinced Andrea would leave she had no idea how to respond to this new development. As with all things related to Andrea, this did not seem to be going as she had planned.

'I love you Miranda. When will you understand? When will you believe?' Miranda was finding it hard to breathe again. Andrea was coming closer and closer. This was ridiculous, again her knees felt like they would give out. Then she did something she had never done before, she moved toward Andrea and trusted her to catch her. This really was a night of firsts, she had never collapsed when anyone left her before, not her parents, not her husbands, but that was exactly what she had done. Now she found herself wrapped in Andrea's arms on the couch, for the second time having no idea how she got there.

She had trusted Andrea and she had caught her. 'I don't want to chase you away, I don't want you to go anywhere'. At this she started crying, before long she was sobbing. They were controlling her body and all she could do was hold on to the most stable thing in her world. Andrea.

Andy had no idea what had happened. About two hours ago she had walked into Miranda's house excited about her new job. Bursting to show Miranda she had succeeded. Now she was sitting on the couch with Miranda curled in her lap, after crying herself to sleep. Andy's mind was in a spin. Miranda had broken down because she got a new job. She wasn't sure if Miranda had realised she had repeated 'don't leave, don't leave' as she lay on the ground or when Andy had moved her to the couch. It was then Andy realised there was more going on than she could have expected. It was the desperation, the agony she had seen in Miranda's eyes that had prompted her to declare her love for the other woman.

She had been relieved that her declaration seemed to evaporate the agony in Miranda's eyes. However she hadn't expected the response she did get. Miranda appeared to dissolve in front of her eyes and a tidal wave of emotion was released. Andy had felt like crying with her in sympathy and had done the only thing she could do. She had wrapped Miranda in her arms and held her securely. After trying to figure it out she decided she would wait until Miranda woke up. With that she turned them on the couch. Settled with Miranda in her arms and fell asleep.

Andy woke up when she felt Miranda move. She opened her eyes and was greeted with a view of Miranda she had looked forward to for what seemed like forever. Miranda looked so peaceful curled up against her. She was very aware of her love for this woman, but at this moment she felt as if her heart would burst. Andy was concerned about what had happened but knew that as with everything else she would wait for Miranda to be ready to tell her.

Miranda stirred again and curled closer into Andy. Miranda's breathing changed slightly and Andy felt her wake up. Miranda curled even closer and turned her head further into Andy. It was obvious she was remembering what had happened and wasn't quite ready to discuss it yet. Andy was delighted tomorrow was Sunday so there was no rush. She was content to lie there with Miranda in her arms forever.

After about half an hour of silence with Andy occasionally placing a soft kiss on Miranda's face or head Miranda stretched. Miranda looked at Andy with a blush high on her cheeks and wariness in her eyes. Andy was braced for anything, you could never tell with Miranda.

'How about we sleep somewhere more comfortable? I have a perfectly acceptable bed upstairs.' Andy had to do a double take to make sure she heard right. She looked across at Miranda who was looking bashful and couldn't quite meet her eyes.

'That sounds like a plan' she said as casually as she could. Just at the idea of seeing Miranda's bed she had tingles all over and a sudden wetness between her legs. She followed Miranda up the stairs trying to calm herself. Although the sight of Miranda's shapely behind severely tested her resolve. Sleep, she only said sleep. Get your head out of the clouds Andrea Sachs. She was so busy trying to calm down she nearly walked into Miranda when she stopped just inside the door of one of the most luxurious bedrooms Andy had ever seen.

The colours were warm and inviting. Subdued lighting created a warm atmosphere. Wood furniture seemed to meld into the background and added to the earthy feel of the room. There was nothing harsh about the room. Miranda looked back at her before moving across to one of the doors Andy had missed on her first look around. She wasn't quite sure what to do with herself so followed Miranda. She walked into the most amazing bathroom, with a sunken bath, shower that would fit five people and there was the most amazing sight ever. Miranda was standing at a sink brushing her teeth. It was adorable, moments like this highlighted the fact that Miranda was human. Andy walked across to her when Miranda nodded to a spare toothbrush still in its wrapper.

When they had taken care of their nightly ablutions, Andy again followed Miranda. They went back into the bedroom and Miranda handed Andy a cotton nightshirt. She noticed Miranda look at her with a shy look so turned and changed into the nightshirt. Andy thought she was in heaven. It was the softest item she had ever worn and more than that it smelled of Miranda. Andy kept repeating to herself we are only going to sleep, we are only going to sleep, oh wow I'm going to sleep with Miranda, panic, panic, we are only going to sleep… How was she going to stop herself from showing her desire for the other woman? Miranda had yet to make the move to take their relationship to that level. Andy decided that all she could do was her best and knew she would never do anything Miranda didn't want to.

The feeling of lying down on the bed was one of the most decadent experiences Andy ever experienced. The mattress was soft yet firm. The sheets were made of the most comfortable material Andy had ever felt. Andy watched as Miranda joined her in the bed. Miranda looked as if she thought she had to say something but wasn't sure that she wanted to. Andy indicated to Miranda to settle into her arms. She whispered 'Good night my love', to Miranda and held her in her arms. Shortly after she felt the change in Miranda as she fell asleep.

Miranda woke up slowly the following morning. She felt wretched with an emotional hangover. She was delighted to lie in Andrea's arms and try to relax. She thought about the previous evening. Embarrassment rushed through her body when she recalled her reaction to Andrea's news. She was also relieved. Andrea had told her possibly the most exciting news, her dream job was hers for the taking and Miranda had effectively cut her down. Miranda had been ghastly to her and then literally broken down into an emotional mess. Yet Andrea had held her, told her she loved her and stayed the night without demanding anything from her. Miranda had never felt so cherished, so loved before.

The memory of looking into Andrea's eyes as she declared her love and then waking in her arms sent a wave of warmth through her. The closest she had ever been to this emotion before was when she had given birth to her daughters. This relationship was something special, Andrea was someone to treasure. Then and there Miranda decided that she would do everything she could to tell Andrea how wonderful she was.

Andrea stirred beside her and pulled her into a tighter embrace, placing a kiss on her lips. She whispered a 'Good morning beautiful' into Miranda's ear and then snuggled deeper into the covers drawing Miranda along with her. After half an hour Miranda watched Andrea leave the room. She returned five minutes later with a scalding cup of coffee for her. Miranda was amazed at the total lack of awkwardness. She had almost expected Andrea to demand an explanation and had prepared herself to give one. This total lack of demands was so far out of Miranda's experience of relationships that she was at a complete loss.

Andrea had brought up a coffee for herself and some toast and fruit for the two of them. She settled in the bed behind Miranda and pulled her back into her arms. Miranda was wrapped in warmth and settled back against her. After breakfast Miranda congratulated Andrea on her job and asked interested questions and supported her move. Andrea's excitement was obvious. They discussed the previous evening and Miranda explained as much as she could about how she felt and what had gone through her mind. It was a very hard conversation for her because she never discussed her feelings or explained her actions. She stayed wrapped in Andrea's arms and when she halted Andrea hugged her tighter and kissed her. Every time she wanted to stop she remembered waking in Andrea's arms and her decision.

They kissed with increased frequency and Miranda felt her desire for Andrea take over. She rolled on top of Andrea and settled between her legs. The reaction from Andrea was immediate. Miranda was kissed with such passion she thought she would melt. She became breathless and found herself rolled over. Andrea devoured her; there was no other word for it. She was kissed until she whimpered. Then Andrea moved across her face and started nibbling at her neck. Miranda felt herself become wet and arched into Andrea's body.

Andrea's hands roamed all over her body, no inch of her was missed. She managed to remove Andrea's nightshirt and was amazed by the body she exposed. Andrea was beautiful, exquisite, amazing and she told Andrea so. Her response was a blush and then Andrea returned to kissing her neck. Miranda was surprised when she felt Andrea tear at her own nightshirt. She seemed impatient and exclaimed when she succeeded. Miranda was embarrassed, mortified even. She froze and couldn't bring herself to look at Andrea. Her reaction was obviously noticed by Andrea. She pulled away and Andrea followed her and raised her head. 'You're body is magnificent'. Andrea whispered to her, 'You are beautiful Miranda'. Miranda really looked into her eyes and could see the sincerity there. Wow! She believes that! Wow!

After a moment Andrea kissed her passionately and then continued to trail over her body. Miranda felt the kisses and nips as Andrea cherished her body. She was in heaven, no-one had ever taken the time to love her so thoroughly. Her body was coming alive under Andrea's attention. Her skin felt so sensitive, it was amazing. She couldn't believe the moans coming from Andrea, she sounded like she was really enjoying herself, which heightened Miranda's pleasure. Andrea was traveling down over her stomach and was getting closer and closer to the area that was throbbing with a deep ache. She had never been so turned on, she was sure she was soaking her panties. Suddenly she felt nervous. She wasn't sure if she would respond properly. What if she didn't orgasm, would Andrea think she didn't love her?

When she came back to the present Andrea was looking intently at her face. How did she not notice Andrea move up her body? Miranda what are you doing? Stop making such a big deal of this. Seriously! She was surprised to find a look of understanding and passion in Andrea's eyes. Andrea trailed her hands over her body and moved to her stomach and spent a couple of minutes trailing patterns. This increased Miranda's arousal. Her body was responding to Andrea's touch and was arching up to her hand. Miranda felt Andrea move her hand to her panties and look at her for permission. Miranda nodded her head gently looking deeply into Andrea's eyes. As long as she was looking at Andrea she was ok.

Andrea trailed her panties down her legs and ran her hand back up them, then smoothed her hand up one leg, then the other. Miranda was beginning to pant and her body was starting to tremble. Andrea moved her hand slowly to the curls between her legs as she kissed her passionately. Miranda was short of breath and loved what Andrea was doing to her neck. She felt her body arch into Andrea and Andrea move over her. It was exquisite, but she needed and wanted more. More Andrea, more pressure, more, more, more.

Andrea entered her and created a shockwave that traveled from her toes to the top of her head. Andrea started an in and out movement while nibbling on her neck. Miranda was surrounded by Andrea. Andrea's arm was around her shoulders, she was nibbling her neck and her fingers were moving deeper and deeper. Miranda's body was on fire, she was overwhelmed, and it had never been this good, this all encompassing pleasure. Then suddenly she lost all ability to think all she could do was feel. And she felt like never before, all her nerve endings were alive with pleasure and all she was aware of was Andrea. Her smell, her touch and the loving words being whispered to her as she came back down to earth.

Andy was in heaven, Miranda was lying in her arms. This time yesterday had she been told she would be snuggled up in Miranda's bed, after making love to her she would have been exceptionally skeptical. But here she was. Last night had not been easy, she had seen Miranda at her most defensive and yet most vulnerable. She didn't know exactly how she knew the correct way to react but she was thankful she did. From the beginning she had known loving Miranda was going to be a challenge. While this was true lying with Miranda in her arms was everything and so to Andy was worth anything.

Waking up this morning, with Miranda wrapped in her arms was beyond anything she had experienced and was the most precious memory she had. Andy had been very aware when Miranda had stirred and knew that she would speak to her when she was ready. Andy was and always would be willing to wait for Miranda. Miranda had looked so shocked when Andy returned to the room with breakfast, it had been all she could do not to laugh at the expression on her face. She had known though that Miranda would retreat if she felt Andy was laughing at her, and Andy had no intention of hurting her like that.

Andy had been pleasantly surprised when Miranda had kissed her and then the passion was unbelievable. Miranda was an amazing kisser, it was all she could do not to take it further and she had been delighted when Miranda settled between her legs. What happened after that was beyond a dream come true. Miranda was so hot and responsive when she didn't over think everything. When she had first unveiled Miranda's body she had been breathless, she was gorgeous. It was all Andy could do not to ravish her and to slow down and worship Miranda as she had dreamed of doing. The first time had been out of his world, loving Miranda's body and entering her for the first time. Miranda had clung to her as Andy had felt her close around her fingers and tremble in her arms.

Feeling Miranda stir in her arms brought Andy's arousal skyrocketing again. She had been focused solely on Miranda and her pleasure. Now her body was screaming for attention. Miranda moved down her body kissing her thoroughly and exploring every inch of skin. The feel of Miranda suckling on her nipples had sent a fresh flood of moisture to between her legs. After Miranda had alternated between her breasts, she had moved down keeping her hands on Andy's nipples, turning and pinching them increasingly hard. Andy was out of her mind all she could do moan and feel.

She looked down when Miranda reached between her legs and kissed her softly, the picture was one Andy would never forget. Miranda was looking at her with such lust and love in her eyes. She also seemed to be enchanted with Andy's body. Then she leaned over and licked her and Andy closed her eyes, arched her back and moaned louder than ever before. Miranda licked and sucked, nipped and lavished. It was more than Andy could take and she came with a keening moan. Her body was in an altered state of reality. Miranda Priestly had brought her to this place, Miranda Priestly had loved her so intensely. With this at and Miranda's arms encircling her she came again.

Coming back to herself Andy looked deeply into Miranda's eyes and said 'I love you'.

Miranda lay awake reliving every second of the day, from waking in Andrea's arms, to breakfast in bed, to their first time making love. It had been amazing. They had spent all day in bed making love, talking and enjoying each others company in silence. They had touched all day and Miranda could barely let Andrea leave her or remove her arms from around her. With all other lovers she had wanted to leave them immediately after they had finished, but with Andrea she was insatiable. It was like discovering a whole new part of herself.

She loved it. She was passionate. She was insatiable for Andrea. But it was more than the physical. It was the time in between where they cuddled. They talked, they laughed and the spent an eternity looking into each others eyes. It was easily the best day of her life. Her children were safe and happy. She had someone to love and she was loved in return. She turned over and found Andrea looking at her. Those eyes were looking at her with such adoration. Those eyes that had driven her to distraction since the first moment she had walked into her life.

Those enchanting doe brown eyes. Those eyes that now made her believe anything was possible. Those eyes that had sparkled with merriment when she shared a joke with her during the day. Those eyes that had glinted with mischievousness when recounting some bizarre encounter from her past. Those eyes that had burned with passion when devouring her body. Those eyes that had glowed when Andrea was on the brink of orgasm.

Miranda knew Andrea had the ability to wound her more than anyone had before. While this realisation had once nearly been her undoing, she now realised those eyes belonged to the one person who completed her. Miranda had once thought Andrea's eyes were the link to her greatest weakness. Now she realised they provided her with an amazing strength.

She looked into Andrea's eyes and said 'I love you Andrea'. Those eyes lit up with unabashed joy and sparkled with happy tears. They closed only when their lips joined and they loved each other.

The End

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