Start at the bottom and work your way up, that's what I always say!
Sunday, August 26, 2012
The Trouble With Coffee (Part 2) DWP Slash Fic
If the "Two Demented Muses" ask me to remove this story, I will. But I've had half a dozen requests for it, so I decided to post it.
I did NOT write this story.
Trouble with Coffee 2 (See Part 1 for disclaimers/ownership)
Elise hurried up the quiet Manhattan street. The early morning hour
of 5:15 saw most of the city either just getting to bed or just getting up.
Even the passing cars were minimal, giving the city an overall
deserted feel. Heels clacking against concrete, bag clutched to her
chest the put together woman looked unusually harried. Her clothes
were casual, hair brushed and put up but decidedly un-styled. She
wore not an ounce of makeup. A dozen houses went by unnoticed.
A sigh of relief and dread turned into a visible puff of air when
Miranda's townhome came into view. The assistant hadn't been out of
bed long and now it seemed as if the time she had been up had spent
deciding how in the world to deliver news and not lose her head.
Inside Andy struggled to wake up. Two hours sleep for multiple days
in a row meant a mad dive into coffee. She couldn't cook or make
sandwiches but she had went to work for an hour at Starbucks just to learn
how they made their coffee. The routine of two months meant she had
it down to a science that even exhaustion couldn't hinder. A mug
found its way into Miranda's hands. For the life of her she couldn't
figure out why in the hell they were up so early which she'd grumped to the
editor about several times. In the three months they'd been living
together Elise had rarely called. And never in the early hours
insisting Miranda meet her at the door followed by hanging up. Return
calls had gone unanswered. Whatever the woman wanted, Andy wasn't sure
it would be important enough for her to keep her job.
Ignoring Miranda's increasingly irate calls was unlikely to be forgiven.
Andy could admit to herself she really didn't care at the moment.
Some horrible Runway catastrophe rated far behind sleep. Their
world had fallen into a smooth, routine pace where dating and getting to
know each other had moved up the scale of priorities. After three
failed marriages the editor had made small sacrifices in time and events to
give them time to have a relationship. Not having to pay out of her
nose in rent allowed Andy to do the same. One or the other still
missed the occasional dinner or worked late into the night but they'd found
a way to make it work for them and the girls.
They'd survived a few disagreements over stupid little things. Found
time to date while keeping separate spaces in the same house, a possibility
even Andy could admit wouldn't have happened had she kept her apartment.
Little things like travel and schedules that kept them apart for days
now yielded to a cup of coffee in passing that made all the difference.
Two hours of free time meant a chance for dinner together instead of
a sparse phone call when travel time meant two hours had been cut to one.
New, separate relationships had been carved out with the twins that
no longer existed solely because of the journalist's relationship with
their mother. Out of the house dates had been managed in what had
become an almost insular world where a few people knew and no longer batted
Those that suspected or thought they knew hadn't dared ask any questions.
Knowing didn't include Andy's parents or past friends though she had
taken to mentioning Miranda when they called. If they thought it odd
they kept silent. Andy inhaled several large swallows then dropped
her head to Miranda's shoulder. "If she doesn't show up in the
next two minutes to tell us Runway just burnt to the ground can I fire
"If it hasn't burnt to the ground or been taken hostage, absolutely -
right after I do." Two Thursdays a month they had taken the
luxury of staying in bed later and not rushing into their respective
offices. Miranda loathed anything that infringed on those mornings. It was
fire worthy no matter how damn competent her assistant was. "If
you hear blood curdling screams ignore them. I'll be right back."
Each step towards the door set off a new tirade. When the knock came
Miranda yanked open the door and glared, daring Elise to speak.
All the way over, the young woman had practiced what she was going to say.
Miranda being ready to spit nails was a given. Yet the
available avenues were all shit. Not warning the editor she was
coming, not delivering the news in person or answering her calls and
refusing to talk all would have resulted in firing or death - something
Miranda's face said was going to happen anyway. Elise glanced around
for Andy then decided maybe it was best she wasn't in the immediate
vicinity. The paper, open and folded to the dreaded page was held
out. "Page Six found out. About you and Andy. The
article is harsh, gossipy and in the next two hours the entire country is
going to know. It's bad Miranda."
Miranda had known from the moment she'd decided to accept and return
Andrea's advances that this day would come. It was as inevitable as Paris
in the Spring. But even she could be lulled into a false sense of
security when things had progressed so well and quietly. Nigel had once
hinted that she should consider a preemptive strike, but as the days had
turned to a week and the weeks months without anyone hassling them it had
seemed unnecessary. "Come in." She all but yanked Elise into the
foyer and slammed the door closed while her death glare tried to work its
magic on the printed page. Nothing. She relented and took the
paper, holding it as though it were a viper ready to strike as she read.
After months of speculation and rumors about a new beau sources have
finally come forward to reveal that fashion magnate Miranda Priestly's is
indeed with someone. A very young someone we've found out and it's
not your typical boy toy. To add fire to the scandalous affair the
Post has learned that her lover is none other than her ex-assistant Andrea
Sachs, a journalist that works for the Mirror, seen below.
(Yes, she is a woman!) They've been spotted around town over the last
couple of months, which is unusual enough for the Snow Queen, but none of
us in our wildest dreams would have guessed they were together.
Confirmed sources tell us they're not just dating but living together
in what can only be described as New York City's most unexpected and
juiciest affair in years.
Colleagues of Ms. Priestly expressed worry over her mental health in
getting involved with a girl who is one of our own. Speculation puts
them together as far back as when Ms. Sachs was her assistant and our
favorite ubiquitous fashion queen was quite married while Ms Sachs herself,
was living with an up and coming chef on the Lower East Side. Their
involvement now sheds light on the curious letter of recommendation Mrs.
Priestly gave her assistant upon being left at last year's fashion event of
the year in Paris. (Letter shown below)
The odd pieces now fit in an usual puzzle that has left us all worried for
our beloved Dragon Lady as she's often called. No matter what you
call her, her influence over fashion is undeniable and now it appears that
three failed marriages she couldn't control and loneliness have combined to
make her ripe for the picking for this young upstart gold digger.
Inside sources at Runway have always questioned how Ms. Sachs managed
to win her bosses favor. The woman who has no friends was apparently
blinded by Ms. Sachs manipulative ways which included ousting fellow
assistant Emily St. John from her position as first assistant. Reporters
at the scene when Ms. Sachs up and left Mrs. Priestly unwittingly snapped
photos that show our Maven’s shock, hurt and surprise over being left.
But all has apparently been forgiven between them, leaving the rest us to
worry whether or not she should have. Ms. Priestly's third ex-husband
has told our paper that he will be checking into whether or not he could
gain custody of her twin girls, Caroline and Cassidy age 11, despite not
being the girl's father, citing fatherly concern for children he grew to
love as his own. None of us can argue that Ms. Priestly does appear
to have been influenced by our colleague... (Continues on page 7)
Miranda read it in its entirety three times before carefully folding it up
and tucking it under her arm with thoughts of incinerating every copy in
the city dancing delusionally through her mind. "Not terribly
flattering," she muttered as her mind whirled to construct the list of
instructions needed to minimize the fallout.
"No, it's not. I've contacted..."
The sentence trailed off as Andy appeared looking grumpier than ever.
"Elise, I liked you but I hope she fired you. What's
Green eyes cut to Miranda, the assistant unwilling to be the one that broke
the news twice.
"Page Six darling and we are their star attraction." There was no
real way to prepare Andy for the viciousness of the attack or what was to
come. It was going to be a long day, week and maybe even months. "Slow
news day. It's got a bite." She handed the paper over to her
"What?" Uncomprehending, Andy took the paper while staring at her
lover. Press about them had always been this far off fantasy story
that didn't really apply. She had no experience seeing her name
splashed across papers outside of a column anymore than it ever sunk in
that they tended to write about Miranda. The newspaper slowly drew
her attention. Vaguely aware they were both watching, she didn't make
it past the first paragraph before her face began to contort in a myriad of
emotion. The article took up space on three different pages - a
tactic her mind distantly supplied, to ensure some part of it would get
readers reading. A fast read through led to a slower, more thorough
absorb until anger resided alongside shock.
What had been written about her took a temporary backseat to the nasty
little thinly veiled comments about her lover. Teeth grinding audibly
she threw the paper at Elise as if it were her fault then spun around in
order to begin stalking to foyer. "How dare they? That's
not journalism it's a fucking gossip rag. Utter shit. Your
mental health? What is that? All their insinuations, their
'seems and appears'. Confirmed sources my ass. Taking the
girls? That picture of you... What the fuck is that Miranda?
Can they do that? So called colleagues. I'll kill 'em.
You can fire them right? Make them report on snow in Siberia.
Let the fish be scandalous for them. God dammit."
Oh dear god, Andrea really was just that naive. "It's par for the
course. They can do it. They did do it. It's done and now the
question is what do we do?" Miranda’s gaze cut to Elise knowing she'd
at least have something in the works.
Elise pushed off her spot against the door where she'd been trying to blend
in. Concentrating on Miranda was a hell of a lot easier than watching
Andy pacing like a caged animal a hairsbreadth away from snapping.
"I called Leslie on the way over. She's going to try to
minimize what she can. You should expect a call within the hour.
We do have the option of a statement which might hold them at bay
somewhat. But given who you are she said this could get a lot uglier
before it gets better. As soon as I get to the office I'm going to
pull old Runway numbers. A little reminder to Irv that any publicity
you get benefits the magazine, in black and white, should shut him down
before he winds up. You're going to have to choose how you want to
I'd prefer you to let me rearrange meetings so they're at the office.
Going out is just going to open you up to harassment. The
office...I think you're best course is to go with the status quo.
They fear you too much to say anything. And when that gets on
your nerves do what you do best. As far as Andy goes."
Pausing, she pushed her hair back. The best course of action wasn't
likely to go over well. "I'd strongly recommend she doesn't go
in or out. When and if she does anyway she's going to need a car.
I've already contacted the company. An extra will be here in
the next half hour. That will minimize her access to them somewhat.
Leslie agreed. We'll take a page from Andy's book and have coffee and
the necessary items delivered. Jace can bring over any research
material she might need. I have a call into Emily. Tracking
down who she talked to will be tough but we need to know. Roy has
been instructed to park in your garage to wait. Going out on the
street is unwise. That's where I'm at so far."
"You've got to be kidding." At a full boil, the journalist
stopped stalking. Elise wouldn't melt under her glare if she was
moving around too much. "I'm not going to hide out."
"It's the best course of action until things die down.
Andy...that is just the beginning. And you're not exactly
reacting well to it." A small sigh fluttered the blond bangs
before Elise sunk back against the door, gaze turning toward Miranda.
Maybe she'd have some luck making her understand the problem.
"I'll stay in the office. Lease two new town cars and a driver.
Inform the girl’s principle. Cancel their ballet lessons for today.
Go ahead and re-schedule their charter flight to Fort Worth. A few
extra days at their grandparents ranch will be good for them. When
Marianne calls put her to voice mail. Do not under any circumstances
take her call and she will be wily. Do not believe any messages about
her impending death, a horrific accident requiring a blood donation, or
needing the name of the funeral home where she is to be laid out. The
only negotiating I will do with her kidnappers is to pay them to keep her.
If she does get through...hang up or tear the phone out of the wall but
hurl yourself from the roof before you put her through to me. Also
put a shoot on sight notice at the front desk. I have a mug shot
Elise cringed while scribbling down notes. Avoiding Miranda's mother
needed an act of pardo from God. If she were being honest she'd
almost rather go at the editor with stupid things when she was in a bear of
a mood than deal with her mother. Miranda at least had some lines.
She made you feel an inch high. She did not however resort to
turning maternal on you and laying on guilt that in no way should work.
Yet did. "You gave her my cell phone number last
time." That seemed oh so important to point out. It was a
crime that the editor had damn near smiled about. Anything to avoid
Marianne. "I'll have some movies delivered for the girl's
afternoon. Cassidy will be fit to be tied from missing their lesson
otherwise. Pizza too. That should make her happy.
I think we'd be best served by caller id. I know you hate it but it
would help avoid the crazy calls versus the ones you need to take.
You're both going to need new cell phones or new numbers at the very
least. I'm sorry Miranda, I know you hate that even more but it's for
the best. It wouldn't be a bad idea to change the number the one here
too. Look at it this way, that will keep Marianne at bay for at least
a day. I'll put one of the driver's on standby for the girls.
If today gets to be too much and their principle can't handle things
they'll probably want to come home. You're going to become the new
art of the day at the office whenever they don't think you're
Andy watched them like a they were in the middle of a tennis match.
Their reactions seemed out of proportion. She even believed
they were. Yet Miranda had her expertise. The journalist
trusted her to know what she was doing right up to the point of her staying
home. That was just absurd. And in her mind, under the cover of
silence, as her anger faded were all the slurs that had been hurled at her.
By the time page 8 rolled around gold digger suddenly sounded nice in
comparison. Andy couldn't have been more ill prepared.
"Not pizza. Steak from Wollensky’s. Eating what
their mother does delights them."
"You're chattering." Miranda huffed at Elise. "I don't need
explanations, just go and do. I'll be arriving at nine thirty. Have
security in place. The cars outback in thirty minutes. That's all."
Once Elise was gone and things were in motion she would talk to Andy.
The journalist had other ideas when assistant turned to go. "Not
quite all. What do you think Elise?"
"About what?" The blond woman carefully said, hand already
on the door knob.
"This. All of it." Me. Being gutted so
thoroughly, suddenly meant other opinions meant a whole hell of a lot.
"I don't think it's any of my business."
That Elise wanted to bolt could be seen from outer space. Andy
couldn't bring herself to let her. "That's not what I
"Alright. I think it's none of their business." Elise
opened the door a crack. A hand on it stopped it's progress.
"Yes?" A trap was being set. She could feel it.
Larger than any Miranda ever laid out.
"What is your opinion?" How much clearer could she be?
A distant voice recognized that the woman was an easy target.
The blond woman sighed and slowly turned on her heel. An opinion on
her and a gossip rag. There wasn't a limit on how badly she wanted
out of the townhouse. "I think it's none of their damned
business Andy. But their business, yours, is to sell papers. I
know when you got together. You know it. Miranda knows.
The girls and Jace. Your friends know. I will do what I
can to contain this. That is my business. It's not my place to
offer condemnation anymore than it is approval. What I will tell you
is that you need to decide who's opinion matters to you and do it quickly.
Mine shouldn't. Ever. I'll keep you both posted."
The door opened and closed. Andy's query escaped leaving her unable
to do anything but lean against the door and feel the bitter cuts for both
herself and Miranda.
Nervous energy burned through her but instead of flying off to put out
fires Mirada walked over to Andy and pulled her close. "She was right.
The opinions of the faceless people we don't know about how we've
chosen to share our lives shouldn't matter. Sounds nice. It's not their
business but that is moot when it's plastered out there for all to read and
they think it somehow gives them the right to pass judgment. It's not the
faceless people Andrea but the ones you work with, buy coffee from, go to
lunch with, who can do the damage.
Now they think they know you and what makes you tick. Now they believe they
have the right to know more; that somehow you owe them something in order
to assuage their curiosity. It will get invasive and it most likely
will get nastier. Elise is right, you should stay home. You're not
hiding, but this is day one and the frenzy to get to you will be
formidable. Your office has no way to shield you from the onslaught
since some of it will be coming directly from your own colleagues."
"What do you think Mira?" Andy turned around and clung to
the editor. She'd asked it of Elise and it mattered whether it should
have or not. But her lover's opinion was the one she most held dear.
The one that heaps of insecurities continued to reside in. A
missed dinner, that was nothing. The editor's opinion - everything.
Miranda's arms snaked around the younger woman. The trembling she
encountered struck deep. "I think my mental health has never been
better." There was a pause and the editor was thankful Andy wasn't
looking directly at her because her face turned beet red while her voice
sounded a bit strained. "I love you, Andrea, in case I haven't made
that perfectly obvious. The only truth about that spewage is that
it's libelous, petty, and hurtful under the guise of news. And I'm sorry I
did not protect you from this."
The weight of the article crashed down, helped along by exhaustion.
Propelled forward at a high rate of speed by the quiet declaration of
feeling. Overwhelmed by it all, hot tears splashed against the skin
of Miranda's neck. "Not your fault I've not seen it coming.
I just...all this time nothing. Lulling."
"It's been very idyllic since you moved here. It is easy to forget the
rest of the world keeps gnashing it's teeth for the next sensational sound
bite that will be forgotten in a week or a month after the damage has been
"Is this going to mean trouble for you, Mira? Irv won't use this
as an opportunity to try something will he?" Andy's hold
tightened. This was quickly turning into one morning she'd rather turn back
the clock on.
"With Irv I perfected the art of turning lemons to his favored hard
lemonade quickly. I'm a known commodity. They'll give up on
trying with me by mid next week. I'll just give them the look."
Her smile was a ghost only.
A gentle, tear salted kiss brushed like an artist's paint stroke over the
editor's lips. Andy felt adrift but better than she had before.
"I love you too. I'm just a little lost. And I trust you.
Yet I can't stay home. I've got three articles with deadlines
and others looming."
"You should work from home for today. It's quiet and you'll get more
"You're going in." One eyebrow lifted. "Weren't
you the one that sent me emails about having no courage?"
"Going in today is not courageous it's folly. I have people
surrounding me to keep the flea infested , bottom feeding, vermin at bay.
Did you miss the part where I agreed to have all my appointments
rearranged so they can be held in the office? If you go in you will
get nothing done. It will be a circus."
Andy shook her head. It seemed like giving into them. "If
you go, I go. If I were in their shoes...if this were a normal story,
someone hiding or ducking would make me more persistent. Because then they
have something to hide. I do not."
"This isn't a normal story it is gossip. You're not listening. You
will be hounded. You won’t be able to work on the stories because suddenly
you've become the prime source and story all in one. I'm not Nate,
Andrea. People read this, it sells papers and ad space and now every other
paper and news service will be playing catch up and hope to out scoop their
competitors. You know these things, these are your people."
Knowing Miranda knew about these and understanding the scope were vastly
different concepts. Paparazzi followed other people. People that were
news worthy. Stars and big names. Going out with the editor
right now, being seen in public with her, that she could see drawing
attention. "It's not that I don't believe you, I just can't wrap
my head around it. I need to try sweetheart. They are my people
although I don't like them very much right now. At the same time
they're not my people. I don't do gossip. Not all of us
Youth could be maddening. But she was a grown woman and the warning
had been issued. Any more and Miranda risked sounding like a nagging
harpy. "You will take the car I've arranged and your driver will
be on standby all day. No, no do not give me that look. Nonnegotiable.
I can't stop you from diving into the pool of piranhas but I refuse
to just leave you there completely unprotected."
"You're impossible. Fine, I'll take the car. It will make
it easier to get your lunch anyway. No, now you don't give me that
look. Surely I can still get you lunch, right?" A car to
drive her around while she chased down interviews. How absurd.
It would be best for all concerned if she slipped the girl a sleeping pill,
clearly she wasn't operating anywhere near full brainpower. "I suggest
you stay as far away from Elias-Clarkee today as is possible. Forget
lunch, I am not hungry. I need to go shower, get dressed, then go see
the girls before their paper arrives. You have the morning off go
back to bed and get some sleep, you need it."
"No lunch." Miranda might as well have said there was no
Santa. The journalist sighed and slowly released the embrace.
An ache welled from the loss and deeper remained the haunting words
on page 6. "I do not like this at all not that it matters.
Tell the girls I'm sorry."
"I will tell them no such thing. You have nothing to apologize
for. I should warn you. The girls don't take kindly to 'meanie-head' press
as they put it. If you're not tired you could come with me and we could
stop by their favorite waffle place and take them breakfast."
"I'd rather be with you than sleeping not that I could get much of it
now. It'll be okay. It has to be."
"Right." Miranda wondered to herself when that delightful
naiveté would end up tarnished. By her count Andrea wouldn't make it
past one o'clock. Though she desperately hoped she was wrong.
Andy smiled a wan smile and slipped her arm around the editor's waist.
Not even she could say if she actually believed that it would be.
At this point it came down to hope and a lot of prayers.
Three hours later the journalist slipped through a throng of jostling, loud
colleagues laying in wait outside the Mirror. All the warnings in the
world couldn't have prepared her. Everyone wanted a piece, a quote, a
photo. Andy jogged past the guard in a daze, dimly registering his
corralling of people. The stares were obvious, whispers a mere notch
below normal speaking voices as she stepped into her area. Never had
she been so glad to see her desk. A few catcalling whistles went up
by friends. Smiles bloomed just behind gentle elbows of ribbing.
Those that had known teased. Those that hadn't looked around,
watching everything. More than one dove for their desk and notepads
jotting down god only knew what.
She sunk into the chair like it was her best friend in the world then sunk
down into the seat. This was the second sign that life was about to
change dramatically. The first had come not two hours earlier when
getting the girl's waffles suddenly meant becoming a sideshow stage act.
The phone at her desk rang. And rang, and rang. Four
times in a minute she answered it and promptly hung up. Sticky notes
filled an entire foot of her desk. Requests for comments, interviews,
photos and the occasional lewd comment filled the small papers. Andy
glared at them, stopped bothering to even look them over then balled the
mass up and tossed them in the waste bin. Befuddled eyes slid to Jace
in hopes of understanding. "This is insane."
Jace had run as much interference as possible but it proved as useful as an
umbrella against a tsunami. He just hoped their relationship was
tight enough that it could withstand the scrutiny. "You snagged
the big one Ace. Now you get to see the dark side of our ilk. Fucking
morons. Ignore them. Brittany will flash her hoochie on her way to
rehab or daycare by Monday and they'll move on." Or at least for his
friends sake he hoped so. But he doubted it. Only the print hounds
had been on her to date, the news cameras would follow to get their bite
for six o'clock. "I'm surprised you drug your sorry ass in for
this today. You should have taken a sick day."
"First Elise, then Miranda now you. This is ridiculous. I'm
not going to tuck away in the house like I've done something wrong.
And my interview with the councilman got cancelled right before I
walked in here. What kind of shit is that?" That she
already felt like turning the air blue, before the clock ticked 10am was a
bad sign. Stares bore into her until she dropped her head into her
hands. Suddenly she couldn't help but to wonder if all the furious
scribbling in the office was about her. "Jace, they're
"Of course you didn't do anything wrong but when the UV is this high
sun block is a good idea. The office has been flooded with calls. It's nose
to the grind as usual here Andy we still have a paper to put out. A real
paper not that gossip shit that is only good for the bottom of a bird cage.
You'll lose a few interviews but it'll settle down. I'm kinda
surprised she didn't convince you to stay home for the day." It
bothered him, truth be told, that his friend was being served up on a
platter when she had no idea. "Look I've got to go, double homicide
early morning in the garment district. If it gets too noisy go home...if
not I found a new cart you've got to try for lunch."
"No lunch today," she said morosely. The vultures
descending took second place behind the lunch interruption. The incessant
ringing of the phone finally rung one time to many. After taking it
off the hook she turned back to him. Friends in the office weren't
Jace. Somehow she'd forgotten he'd be in and out of the office as
usual. "Get out of here. As you said, this is just
temporary, right? I'll steal your phone, get a little work done then go to
my next interview, no harm, no foul. I have a stupid car today.
Take it if you want."
"Good idea, use my desk. You've got Roy today?" He almost whined.
He didn't mind hoofing it around town or even grabbing an occasional cab,
but he had a weak spot for being chauffeured. Point back to the Dragon lady
since she'd sent the car. "Nah can't, I've got a date with Simone
tonight and don’t want my ass getting flabby. Next time though I'm all over
it. Hang tight I'll be back in a couple. Do you want switch cells
"Nah, some other guy that just hunkers down and drives. I don't
like him." Not that she'd like anyone new that was assigned to
drive her around at this point. Even Roy would have come under fire.
Andy pulled out a new cell and waved it, displeasure marring her
face. "Miranda took mine. One minute she asked to see it,
the next she made it disappear and handed me this...thing that Elise had
sent over. I doesn't even have my programming! Sure, she said
that could be transferred over tonight but I liked my old phone."
The editor's name caused heads to pop up again.
Score two for the Dragon lady. "I have disguises in my top drawer if
you need one." He grinned, punched her in the arm, grabbed his new
Blackberry courtesy of Elise and took off.
Disguises, new phones, cars, hiding out, cancelled interviews, dogmatic
reporters, gossip, whispers and most importantly; no lunch. Andy
cursed under her breathe, ignored the curious eyes and got exactly
twenty-eight minutes of work done before the desk operator appeared before
her desk in a snit. Jolene, as it turned out didn't appreciate Andy's
phone being off the hook anymore than she appreciated having to take dozens
of messages when the voicemail box quickly filled. A two minute
scathing lecture was all it took for the journalist to grab her things and
head for the door.
Precisely forty-two minutes after that she was tucked away in a restaurant
bathroom hiding out and harried having learned one very important lesson:
Even if your interviewee didn't cancel or those you were chasing down
for quotes would actually wait, they did not appreciate the host of other
reporters hounding the one interviewing them, interrupting the interview
and then asking what they were being asked about. Close to developing
claustrophobia, Andy tentatively dialed Miranda's number, hoping beyond
hope she'd answer the phone sans a lecture. Three of those about what
a good journalist consisted of, in twenty minutes, were enough.
"Andrea?" Miranda put the phone to her ear while gesturing
at Elise to remove the clothing cart some idiot had parked in the middle of
her front office. Irv was eight minutes out but beyond that her office was
eerily quiet. It was good to have the power to make people fear for
their lives and she was using it to its full potential at the moment. Of
course, giving three employees their pink slips in a matter of ten minutes
had a way of spreading much more quickly than who she was sleeping with.
"Where are you?"
While Andy was indulging in the simple calming effect of hearing her lover,
Elise reluctantly rolled the cart out of the way all while tallying how
long she'd have to wait before she could get away with rolling it back in
place. It blocked the sight of those peeking around the corner to
glimpse Miranda which might not bother the editor but had gotten to her by
the end of the first hour.
The journalist scrubbed her face and glanced around the small bathroom.
Mentioning her exact location was out of the question. It would
reveal too much. "I'm on a small break from hunting down quotes.
How's it going?"
"Swimmingly. It seems I have become part of some exotic zoo exhibition
and then there is the various clothing carts that keeping appearing to
obstruct my view of the vultures. The coffee was lukewarm and Irv's on his
way. But, I fired three people this morning so I count it as in the black.
I talked to the school and all is as it should be there so it's just another
day at the office. You sound like you are calling from a box. Roy
said you've got quiet an entourage. Do you want me to send over a
Impossibly, whether right or wrong, Andy found herself laughing at the
editor's exploits. The girl's were okay which was most important.
After that, firing people sounded a lot better than picking them off
with a rifle from the top of the Sears tower. The arrival of Roy had
helped bolster her reserves. Replacing the creepy driver that had originally
showed up had been the closest she'd come to calling uncle or in this case
calling Elise and begging her to have him replaced. "I ducked
into a small room to have a few moments of peace." Both eyes
twitched at the lie of omission. "He exaggerates. They've
been a pain but...at least the girl's are okay. A bodyguard would
probably make it worse but thanks. I guess I just needed to hear your
"What small room does Vinnie's Deli have?" Miranda queried giving
her time to answer before she sent Roy in after her.
"You've talked to Roy who's being a canary which constitutes cheating.
I'm in the bathroom." A small, exhausted sigh accompanied
the admission. Outside, probably taking up half of the deli, were the
press. No longer her people. That had ended when they'd
followed her into the place still hurling scores of questions each a little
worse than the last. Page six was beginning to look almost kind.
Miranda checked her watch and then glanced down at the printout of her
appointments for the day. A choice was a choice. "Are you free for
"You said we couldn't." The mere mention of it knocked Andy
three steps down the ladder of the weary. Jolene had called twice,
each time a little more angry than the time before over the influx of calls
she could do nothing about.
"I've changed my mind. I do believe that is my prerogative.
Select where you'd like to lunch and I'll meet you there in
forty-five minutes." Miranda was all but humming as she
considered the course of action. "You were right."
"About what? Lunch...I'm not sure where would be best."
Or safest. Incredulous, Andy's head canted as she watched
someone trying to pick the lock. She turned and leaned against it.
Elise hung up the phone, glanced at Miranda then spared a moment to contemplate
whether or not Kevlar could be fashionable. Hastily scrawling out a
note, she entered the office while staying well away from the windows.
Best not to tempt the editor to toss the messenger out of them.
Despite what Miranda might be saying to Andy, her mood was foul.
Irv's arrival wasn't likely to improve it and the note, not at all.
Carefully placing the paper in front of her she made a mad dashing
walk out of the office. The local television news stations had picked
up the story. Her mother had spotted the first teaser two minutes
ago. Similar ones were airing on the other three networks.
"Fuck." The rarely uttered curse was more mouthed than spoken
when Miranda read the note about the call from her mother. It wasn't long
before the woman would wheedle her way into contact. "There is no best
darling. Pick wherever you'd like to eat and that is where we will
go." She was tempted to ask her lover a hundred things but decided
against it. She had been sure of Andrea's feelings before Page Six,
she had no reason to doubt them now. Miranda had faith in what they
were building and so she refused to give into a moment of self doubt.
"Look at it this way, we should have done it long ago. The word is out
now so we have no excuse not to have lunch together now and then. Today
seems like a good day to start."
"Some place quiet. I'm having trouble thinking right now."
Miranda's confidence fed her own or at least validated her point all
along. Hiding was stupid and indicated they'd done something wrong.
The problem from her end was that refusing to hide out when you
weren't giving the comments they wanted meant their questions were getting
increasingly vicious. The tactic had been perfected long before she'd
been born. Keep hammering away until your query snapped and spoke,
for good and bad.
"Irv's on his way. Have Roy pick me up in forty minutes, we'll decide
once you get here." Irv was in the front office where he could
cool his heels. "Andrea?"
"Sounds good. I miss you Mira. This really sucks."
She had the distinct feeling there would have been less press had she
actually killed someone.
"Yes it does." She ended the call and looked in Irv's direction.
The man look nearly jovial, lovely.
"Quite the little hornet's nest you've stirred up Miranda. My
phones been ringing off the hook. Then there was that nasty little
call from personnel citing a few firings without grounds." The
last charge would never stick under their at-will policy but getting the
upper hand with her didn't happen all that often.
"Their jobs were redundant given they were underachieving. I've
saved you five hundred thousand in salaries, and almost another hundred
thousand in benefits etcetera." Miranda picked up the bound book in
her inbox. It was Elise's handiwork, a detailed accounting in
spreadsheets that charted how any press Miranda garnered positively
affected Runway's sales. It also included the savings attributed to the
mornings firings. It was a thing of beauty. A sheet of pink paper caught
her eye on the last page of the book. She didn't flip to it immediately.
"I hope you've called sales and advertising and told them to add a
premium for the ads in the upcoming issue. You should easily be able to
charge an extra 5% given that circulation will go at least twenty percent
over the norm for the month."
"You'll spend that much in overages this month and more so.
What's really gained except a lot of hassle for us all? Really
Miranda, your assistant? That alone could land us in enough legal
trouble to cost the magazine millions. What will our stockholders
think?" The memory of the list she’d revealed in Paris, of how
she'd wielded it against him had not been forgotten.
Perfectly painted lips parted in a congenial smile that was as fake as
Irv's hair. "The stockholder's will think what they always do when
sales take an unexpected spike - that Runway is the cash cow of
Elias-Clarke and they will try to tempt me with any number of offers to
take the helm of some of the other titles. Which, as always, I will
decline. " Her thumb brushed against her bottom lip giving the
illusion of bemusement. "Do we really want to start casting judgments
on each other's choice of romantic partners Irv?" Blue eyes
honed to lasers as her head took an almost playful tilt. "I'm
single." She smirked and let that thought hang between them.
Irv stiffened imperceptivity before his eyes narrowed. Not even
Miranda would dare. "Unless they suddenly remember how much
money they could be saving. That's got me to thinking. We should
really try for low budget this month don't you think? As a gesture of
good faith before they do start questioning your health. And let's not
forget, sudden rumor has it that you were not single when you became
involved with her."
Miranda had started perusing the last page as he droned on. Her smile
became genuine. A casual observer would be looking for the telltale
feathers left behind when she gulped down the fat, little, unsuspecting
canary. "Mmm, yes. It has been brought to my attention that thousands
of dollars from a boutique called Miss Julia's have been charged to the
props department. I cannot recall any shoot for the past twelve
months where we've used what could only be described as kink wear and yet
the charges keep accumulating. I keep meaning to speak to Nigel about that
but the larger details keep demanding my attention. You are right though,
god only knows how many other such oversights are being charged to Runway.
What exactly is a hogtie and cuff set? I'll call Elise in, she'll know."
Face turning several shades of red and orange that would have done a
Crayola box proud, Irv gritted his teeth. Insufferable bitch.
She might be good at her job and win, for now, but there would come a
time when he'd take great pleasure in firing her. "See that this
month's reports are on my desk by the end of the day." Pivoting
on one foot, he stormed out of the office, lamenting not for the first time
that Runway didn't have nice wooden doors to slam.
Miranda waved her fingers at Irv's disappearing figure then beckoned to
Elise who had been diligently working with her head down caught the
movement in her peripheral vision. The picture of youthful innocence,
she got up and entered Miranda's office. "Miranda?"
She tapped the book. "Very thorough." When Elise looked like she
was about to speak Miranda continued. "No, no that is not your cue to
chatter. Pink paper? It gives me hives. As to the content it crosses
every line. It is invasive veering towards criminal. I do not condone
people in my employ breaching such lines. Discovery of the collection of
such data would result in instant dismissal and at the very least a civil
suit. Are we clear?"
"Crystal." Face remaining placid, Elise took the miniature
scolding in stride not one iota of regret appearing. Fired on the
spot? She still wouldn't have felt regret. Scruples were for times
when Miranda, and her by extension, weren't in the direct sight of several
lines of fire. "Should I cease my acquaintance with Lindsay, his
"Only if you've suddenly become a simpleton." Miranda picked up
her handbag, opened her wallet then withdrew one of her personal credit
cards which she handed over to Elise. "How much are you
"Thirty-one thousand a year." Which was the main reason she
continued to live with roommates.
"Call payroll and have them double it. If you last the year call them
again and have them bump it to ninety-five thousand. Your computer is
property of Elias-Clarke." Her finger tapped on the pink sheet of
paper. "It would behoove you to remove anything incriminating from
that machine. Go get two small computers. Yours, mine; use my card.
Buy good locks for them. If other pink sheets were to appear on each
of the board of directors desks I think it would prove to be entertaining
reading. That's all."
A wonderful raise and small computers with locks. Macs with security.
Elise filed the to-do list away, turned to leave then stopped.
Life was in chaos, the office on gossiping eggshells. Reporters
lurked and behind them Irv and who knew what else. She should take
the raise and run. Now was not the time to push for a change and yet
she'd learned with Miranda to take whatever opportunity opened, when it
opened. An idea had churned for weeks, carefully reviewed and plotted.
There would always be fires to put out. Ignoring the dismissal
she softly cleared her throat and plowed ahead.
"Actually I have a proposal for you. The new Emily is as trained
as she's going to get. I'd like to propose a trade. Instead of
giving me a raise allow me to hire another new Emily giving you two
assistants. I will train her of course. For the same pay as I'm
making now, so there will be no real loss of money, I'd like to create and
move into the position of your personal assistant. Probationary is
more than acceptable. If it doesn't work out you can fire me and
still be left with two assistants."
"You are a simpleton." She gave Elise an indulgent eye roll.
"Why do I need a personal assistant?"
Unbelievably, Elise smiled. Cowering in fear was for others.
"Because a personal assistant would free up a lot of your time
and save you the drudgery of having to deal with as many idiots. I
know what you like and don't like already. For example: If
there was a shoot happening you weren't certain about, having me as your
assistant would allow you to send me to the shoot and report any problems
thus saving you time and possibly money which would keep him out of your
hair. You could never and would never trust an Emily to do that."
“You are very presumptuous. I've not yet decided if you are too stupid to
know better or too arrogant to care." Miranda released an aggrieved
sigh. "You try my patience. If a personal assistant would be so useful
to me why am I only hearing about this now? "
It wouldn't do to laugh Elise reminded herself as she walked out of the
office. One of her beloved, nicely ordered printouts was in her hand
when she returned. Only Miranda would blame her for not mentioning it
before. She placed the bound sheets on the editor's desk.
"I apologize for the aggravation. However, this is just an
example of the ways a personal assistant could make your life easier.
And, to be presumptuous, I would imagine you've not heard of it
before because most of the staff is too scared to speak up when you ask
them a direct question much less to bring an idea to you when you've
"You'll deal with the new Emily's?" That alone had sold her on
the notion. "What is your malfunction that you would forgo a raise to
implement this scheme of yours?"
Elise faltered then spoke honestly. "Because I can learn more
working directly for you then moving around to all the other departments
combined. Long term, that will allow me to make more than a raise or
two ever could."
"Less chatter, same raise. Do it." Miranda removed a scarf from
her drawer and draped it around her neck as she checked the time.
"The car is waiting," she said needlessly while digging her nails
into her palms. Elise walked out to her desk and sat down. The
new Emily glanced up and was ignored. Looking at anyone would mean
she'd lose composure, squeal like a four year old girl and most certainly
lose the position.
Miranda's mind was already elsewhere as she moved forward, slipped into her
coat and stepped into the elevator.
All the tricks in the world didn't help. Just before the doors slid
shut on the editor, Elise released an ear splitting squeal to do any little
girl at her birthday party proud.
Miranda’s wince turned into an amused smile. The girl was human after
all. She wasn't entirely sure if that was a good revelation. She hit the
button and the doors reopened. "I heard that," was all she said
before letting the doors close again.
Tucked away from the most remote corner from the Brasserie Les Halles door,
Andy sat picking at the comfit of duck she normally would have gobbled
down. The lack of appetite was the one indication not all was as it
seemed. She was attentive, listening to the chatter around the
restaurant as well as her lover. Makeup had been perfectly applied to
cover up a sallow tint to her skin. For both their sake's she plowed
ahead as if nothing was amiss. Today the best part of the restaurant
was that they were used to reporters and knew how to keep them out.
The journalist had yet to wrap her mind around how Miranda had walked
through the throng, utterly composed and teasing of their followers.
A perfected act that was pitch perfect. They had eaten it up from
what Andy could see from her spot inside. Jace's appearance, calm and
protective, had moved her from the bathroom to here - through the backdoor.
How he'd accomplished that she hadn't cared enough to ask.
Simply being out of the insanity made the how negligible. The
man had stayed, eating with them, providing a enough of a buffer to allow
her carefully applied mask to remain in place. She was more rattled
than she had any intention of Miranda knowing all while knowing the woman
would know anyway. Three months of living with someone on top of the
months they'd seen each other before gave the editor the insight of a lover
so long as she cared to look.
Andy blinked, realizing she'd missed what was said. No amount of
trying to replay the conversation helped. Rather than receive a
knowing look from the editor she attempted to change the subject.
"He received the oddest unintelligible squealing phone call on
our way over. Do I dare ask what you did?"
Miranda and Jace shared a look. "I dressed Irv in an off the
rack mauve tutu and then threw him out my office window," she supplied
most conversationally doubting her lover actually heard a word.
Jace piped up. "Can I quote you on that?"
"Did he like it?" The journalist answered automatically,
grabbing at keywords to form the reply.
"No but I did." Miranda reached out and squeezed Andy's hand.
"What is on your schedule for the afternoon?"
The touch brought Andy back into the present. Nonplussed, she glanced
around. Public touching was new and although they weren't, she found
herself staring at the other patrons, searching for someone that stared too
long, hurried back to their conversation in whispers or nudged the person
beside them. The restaurant was packed to the gills yet Miranda's
presence had stopped being anything note worthy by other customers two
minutes after she arrived. Flashes of a real smile curled the corners
of her lips. Insecurities drained away, uncertainty on its heels.
"Did you just say…" No, she couldn't have mentioned
Irv and tutus. Nah. "A couple of interviews then back to
the shop to finish Unseen and the piece on daycare, if you can call it
that, in Hell's Kitchen. You?"
"Elise rescheduled most of my appointments to later in the week so
I'll be spending my afternoon on in-house items. The mundane that needs
being done. Have you checked with your interviews to make sure they are
The smile faded for a brief moment before reappearing, a little too happy
and a lot too wide. "One is as of an hour ago. The other
is a replacement interview for the original one I had scheduled. I'd almost
rather be at Runway right until I think everyone diving under their desks
"I do believe I'll do a companywide Q&A when I return." Blue
eyes danced with demented glee but they didn't miss Andy's put on
expression. "Would you like to take a meeting with Leslie later?
She'd very helpful and could give you pointers on how to deal with the
upcoming barrage from your colleagues."
The suggestion earned Miranda a wink. In one innocent sounding
question, Andy knew her attempts were being seen right through. But
she wasn't yet ready to tackle having to meet with a PR person just to
figure out how to handle the baying mob. "Nah. Besides, it
looks like you worked your usual magic upon entering. What's going to be on
this Q&A and can get a video tape of it? Please?"
Miranda gave Jace a look that had him push back from the table as he
glanced at his watch. "Ladies this was great. Miranda thanks for
lunch, next time my treat. Cart of your choice. I've got a
couple bodies on ice that need interviewing this afternoon. Have
fun." He weaved through the restaurant and slipped out the
"There is no magic." Despite Miranda’s efforts there was an edge
to her voice. She could see the fall coming and hated the fact that
she wasn't being allowed to at least cushion it to some degree. "You
need to take a meeting with Leslie. You are out of your league Andrea.
Don't make this any more difficult for yourself that it is already
going to be."
"It seems so silly Mira. I should be able to be...fine with
this. I know what we're like when they smell a story yet this is
about me, us. And there is no damned story. I know who you are
and why they're so interested because of the who but it's absurd. I
didn't understand the obsession with who was sleeping with who and that's
getting worse by the minute." It was telling in the worst of
ways that Andy said more once Jace left than she had even hinted at with
him there. He was completely trustworthy, helpful, kind and caring.
That was all fine and well until you began to feel uncomfortable in
your own skin.
"There is always a story darling. Or more importantly a spin that
sells. And the most interesting stories gossip or not involve people.
Have your parents called yet?" She moved her chair closer to
Andy's so they could speak more openly without fear of being overheard.
"You mean that in denial, the papers are making up stories call or the
one that sounds like the world is hours from ending if I don't return home
so we can talk, asap, messages Jolene took earlier? Those she called
me about. Commentary on her feelings...don't mind me, I'm just being
cynical." And paranoid. The end of the day couldn't come
"I'll trade you if you like. You can call Marianne and I'll
speak with Mr. and Mrs. Sachs." In the parental front at least she
could truly commiserate. "Am I to take it you are planning to
stick with no comment when asked?"
"I gave up on no comment two hours ago. I'm in ignoring and
glaring space now. And Miranda? I'd rework my schedule a
hundred times over for five more minutes with you. But I wouldn't
touch a call with Marianne for anything short of a weeks vacation together,
somewhere out of cell phone range." Which pretty much ruled out
75% of the world or better these days. A more than fair trade when it
came to Miranda's mother who Andy had already had several nightmares about
in spite of never having met the woman. Overhearing a phone call or
two had been more than enough.
"I could arrange that. Not a week but three or four days." It
would take a bit of finagling but what was the point of being Miranda
fucking Priestly if you couldn't use your heft to finagle at least five
times a day before lunch?
Hope appeared, vibrant and relieving to see compared to the kicked puppy
she tended to imitate when her mask slipped. "You could?
Wait, you're not setting me up to go to Connecticut are you? Am
I bait for your mother? Here you go Marianne, fresh blood, you know
you want it. Now I'll just go over here and you can leave me alone
this time... No offense of course. It's just that your mother kind of
freaks me out. She's...no offense again, but she's just mean. I
know she doesn't mean to be, okay mostly, but no one should be that on,
that proper, that driven, that critical and well, know everything."
"Andrea! Of course she means to be a bitch. She means it with
every nasty little molecule in her pinched little size four body. I'm
crushed that you think I would give you up to her of all people as
bait." Although now that the suggestion was out there it did have
merit. "I would not send you off to Connecticut... not yet. I
was thinking somewhere warm, tropical and with impossibly high
"That would be wonderful. Even if it doesn't happen it's a
pleasant enough idea to hang onto." A small sigh got lost in the
din. In spite of it all some of the tension bled out of Andy's
shoulders, the conversation felt almost normal. "I forgot you
don't twitch like most people at the thought of calling your mother a
bitch. She's part of the reason I avoid answering your phone at all
costs. What I don't understand is how she can be so on top of
everything and still put in insane hours at the hospital. Then again,
maybe that explains you. Absurd hours are coded in your DNA."
It would happen. "When was the last time you took any vacation
time?" she asked before returning to the topic of her mother. "Do
not go to the apple and the tree analogy darling. Do not." The
vibrating phone demanded her attention. When she flipped it open and read
the text message Miranda was certain she swallowed her tongue. She gaped,
poked a button and wondered why it was she'd brought the two little
monsters home from the hospital.
When she watched the two minute video exchange between them her horror grew
and yet, they were her girls and they were too funny for words not to
mention their antics did endear. "Oh dear god. I should have warned
their Principle to not let them near anything remotely electronic."
She hit the speed dial to Elise. "CNN Showbiz, the girls sent a video
thingy. Pull it." She ended the call doubtful that anything could be
done because knowing her girls they would have held off notifying her until
the damage was irreversible. "Never have twins."
"A video thingy to CNN? Can you define that a bit more."
Knowing the twins and their mother's reaction she was almost scared
Miranda handed over her phone and hit play.
Over the din of the lunch rush, the journalist had to hold the phone close
to both see and hear. Two familiar faces appeared, the computer lab
their backdrop. Andy hit pause and glanced at her lover. The
twins, lovable though they were scared her at times. Namely, their antics
did. Fearful, she closed both eyes then opened just one to watch. Hiding
from the screen was short lived, lasting exactly eighteen seconds.
The twins had not only read the article they'd decided to refute and
comment on it. "Oh shit."
Cassidy sat interviewing Caroline, both clearly trying to appear as grown
up as possible in between grins and laughter. They hit on the gold
digger comment first, argued over its exact implied meaning, with the
camera still rolling and then after they'd decided exactly how unflattering
it was proceeded to tell the world it was decidedly untrue because she
bought them all sorts of things. Bribes, such as they were, were
common between the journalist and the girls. While they didn't come
out and call what she bought them that, anyone who knew them even in
passing knew exactly what they meant.
Blackmail was their forte. Andy whimpered, unable to look up from the
screen as they did the opposite of what she'd done. They didn't hide
at all in their little expose defense of various things that had been said
in the article. Even she felt bad for a moment for Stephen, Miranda's
ex who they fired upon with both barrels. "Oh my god."
They clearly still loved him but that didn't spare him their
filleting little tongues. In fact they sounded just like their mother
while on that little diatribe. Hearing them erased Andy's horror.
She grinned as she always did when amused at that apple and tree
proof. Her amusement lasted less than a second when they switched
subjects. Caroline boldly informed the world that Andy was way cuter
than Brad Pitt. Of course her mother had to like her.
Back to watching through one eye the journalist sunk into her chair when
they let slip with the information of her poker night. They didn't
give all the juicy details but it was enough that Miranda now damn sure
knew their little secret. Andy couldn't say exactly how they'd
stumbled upon the first game she'd held at her mini-apartment at Miranda's.
It had been her night to host it, a night that led to her becoming
the permanent host every two weeks since she now had the bigger place.
The editor's idea of a getaway, and Stephen's office, was bigger than
half of all the apartments in New York. And somehow on that second
gathering of friends the girl's had appeared. A little pleading,
cajoling, charm, and blackmail had got them in on the game. A
precedent had been set. Since that night they'd been in on every
game. Miniature card sharks had been born.
They brought money to the table and pretended to close their ears when the
conversations took decidedly adult turns. On those rare occasions
Andy thought to send them away they appealed to Jace and the other men,
having won them over hook, line and sinker. Especially Jace who they
both had quite the crush on - green Keds and all.
Andy's brief distracted moment came to a screeching halt when she saw the
twin terrors turn to the subject of their mother's mental health. The
camera forgotten, they turned to each other like this was an everyday
Cassidy: What's mental health exactly?
Caroline: They mean she's crazy.
Cassidy: Oh. Well she is sometimes.
Caroline: Only on Friday's and then there was that time Andy put that
Their banter continued in between giggles and wildly careening chatty
tidbits as only kids can do. Every other Friday crazy, when Miranda
lost the girls for a weekend Andy idly noted. The twins had no idea
how crazy she got those first few hours after they left. The girls
continued on, debating the sanity of the man that had written the article
and the various sources who told outrageous lies that the press then
printed. Flummoxed, mouth hanging open, Andy watched until they
calmly turned back to the camera, smiled for the world and then ended the
pseudo newscast with a perfectly imitated, twin "That's all."
Head spinning, Andy sunk down in her chair, crossed her arms over her
chest, lifted one hand enough to bury her face in then set about the very
serious task of turning invisible.
"The good news is they care about you a great deal. The bad news is
they care about you a great deal and that was their version of showing
everyone just how much." Miranda beckoned to the waiter and did
the unthinkable. She ordered a drink, a double, at lunch. "Join
me?" she asked Andy in a whisper.
"Whiskey, neat. Doubled," the journalist muttered.
Thoughts beyond the girls just weren't possible. On the one
hand their defense made her feel inordinately better. But then there
was that little part that wanted to disappear into a hole in the ground.
God they were brats, lovable or not. "There is no way in
hell CNN is going to pull that is there?"
"They will already be running teasers. There may be a chance to get
the entire thing pulled because they are minors. I should have sent them to
boot camp." Miranda swirled her martini once, plucked out the olive
and drained it.
Andy rolled her eyes. "As if. I'm going to sit here, drink
my drink and not mention DNA." While she was talking Andy pulled
out the new Blackberry and opened up the internet browser. A truly
terrible thought wormed its way into her bones. The girls were above
all things thorough. Blackmail was pointless if you left someone an
escape avenue. The device clattered to the table a split second
before her head thudded against it. Having it pulled wasn't going to happen
anytime soon. "Youtube."
"There is no need to be insulting." The first martini had tasted
divine, she was certain the next one would be even better. Besides the
afternoon's activities would go much more swiftly with one more martini to
boost it along.
"Youtube Miranda. It's an video web site. Where anyone can
post just about anything short of hardcore porn. Including the girls
and their interview. It already has 3057 hits." Grudgingly
lifting her head, Andy nudged the device over with one finger. At
this rate it would turn around and bite soon. The same finger hit the
scroll feature on the side. Like all things technical, the editor
learned exactly what she had to learn to make a device do what she wanted
it to and nothing more. Blackberry's had yet to make it into her 'to
bother with' world.
"This is the part where I tell you to check your room for hidden
cameras." Porn, her children would not be above releasing sex videos
if they thought it could prove their point. "About the poker."
Reporters lying in wait outside were forgotten. Looking
simultaneously innocent, caught, embarrassed and jumpy, Andy opened and
closed her mouth several times before deciding not to step blindly into
that path. "About the poker," she repeated, putting a twist
on a tactic Miranda used.
"Corrupting them is bad form."
Corrupting them? The woman forgot who the them were in this case.
"I have hardly corrupted them. They show up every other
Friday night at midnight, money in hand sporting poker visors, which they
hide from you, on their heads. They bribe someone into getting good
scotch for the guys who wouldn't dream of kicking them out now. I've
tried. Many times. Between the pouty faces and their supporters
I'm voted down before I'm halfway through protesting. And! Your
devilish angels circumvent me when the girls join us too. They just
switch tactics. Perks from Runway magically appear. There is
nothing harder to get around than a woman that's been won over by
"Bribery, blackmail and gambling." This was not a new picture
being painted for her. Her children were crafty and ingenious little
opportunists. "Do they win?"
"Half the time which is a lot when you realize we play with six
people, minimum. Between the scotch and goodies no one seems to mind
by the end of the night. Given what the pot ends up being by the end
of the night, when the drunken bets really up the ante, I'd guesstimate
they've won somewhere in the ballpark of ten grand in the last few
months." Threats of their mother certainly didn't work to get
them to go to bed because they owned the trump card of their mother.
That she'd let them stay up around drinking, gambling and all sorts
of debauched behavior, as Caroline put it, would trump them being up in a
"They cheat, and clearly it is time I give you the heavy artillery
when it comes to them. How are they blackmailing you?" For just a
moment the reporters outside and CNN were all forgotten as they moved to
dealing with very ordinary details of becoming partners when one partner
had two demon spawn nearly teens.
"To quote them, letting us do these things trumps us doing them."
Clear adoration for her lover appeared. After all the time
they'd held Miranda's reaction over her head the real thing turned out to
be almost pleasant.
Miranda smirked. "Everyone falls victim to that one darling. You
need to turn it around. Let them play once every two months
tops." The girls had been severely warned about encroaching on Andy's
private time and Miranda was less than thrilled that they had disregarded
that order. "They will try to cross every line. They dare you to
tell me...do it in front of them just once. One, I doubt they'll ever
let it get that far and two if they do, well let's just say even Marianne
has her purposes. They'll find a new and creative way to torture you, yes,
but they won't pull the we'll tell Mom and you’re toast again."
The light smell of relief mixed in with the scent of steak. Andy
propped her elbows on to table and leaned forward. "They did
knock first but if I try to cut them off at this point they'll cause a
mutiny. Everyone loves them, even when they're being evil.
While the threat of Marianne is enough to make me shudder, I hate to
do that to them. It's easier to just threaten them with trotting them
down to Runway while you're working. They never believe I'll do it
but neither are they quite bold enough to test me on it."
Ah, so the truth was Andrea quite enjoyed having the delinquents around,
odd journalist. The martini's were working their magic and she was feeling
both more mellow and acerbic than was her usual. "The trick
Andrea is to make them believe you will do it."
"Oh Mira. We've stood outside Elias-Clark twice." A
devilish glint appeared. Their general rule was what happened between
them stayed between them so long as a line wasn't crossed. The girls
inched close a few times but had yet to cross it. "I barter time
in the apartment sometimes. It's become a reward, kind of."
"You've got them well in hand then. Call next time you are outside
with them." Her lips pursed and she looked decidedly like the evil
stepmother. "It's time to go."
Andy would have laughed if not for the sudden train derailment back into
reality. The editor had to go. Interviews awaited. One
glance outside at the vultures waiting and her smile, if you looked close,
became forced. Life, if you could call it that today, waited like a
jackal. "Round two. Thanks for coming. It helped, a
"Call when you want to, no reason required. Okay?" Miranda
stood and led the way to the coat check staying close to Andy's side.
"Do me a favor and call the girls? I have that monstrosity you
call a car. Might as well use it to pick them up." She
didn't pick them up often but doing so today set a definitive goal to
strive toward: Survive until three.
"You realize they have already started auctioning off your autographs.
Next up will be your underwear. I'll call them." A distinct
shift occurred and with the donning of her scarf and glasses Miranda again
looked every inch the Dragon lady. "Shall we?"
"They what?" Taken aback, Andy forgot the waiting masses
for the moment or that she'd intended to leave through the kitchen.
Miranda gave Andy the once over then straightened the collar on her coat.
"My little angels have sold my autograph on eBay, various articles of
clothing and when the story about the divorce from Stephen hit.... I
believe they billed it as Mr. Priestly's boxers and gratuitous sock."
"Wha?" The journalist stared and laughed, incredulous, body
on automatic. It knew how to stay in step with Miranda when she
moved. Beyond that the terrible duo and what they might do reigned
"Stephen prided himself on being able to handle them himself. "
Very subtly Miranda's hand went to the small of Andrea's back as she guided
her through the front door and down the steps to the sidewalk towards the
The flashes set Andy's teeth to grinding so hard that she purposefully
tried to put herself back into shock over the girls action.
"You've never give me any autographs to sell."
Miranda turned towards one particularly loud voice without slowing.
"Lunch was lovely you really should try the comfit of duck
today. It's perfection." Roy had the door open. The
editor pulled up and directed Andy to get in first. "My mental health
has never been better. I'd like to say I'm touched by your concern."
She flashed a smile so wide it should have blinded the people within twenty
feet. At one particularly lewd question the crowd seem to silence. Miranda's
head turned slowly, her eyes coming to rest on the cocky reporter brash
enough to toss the question out. She beckoned for him to step forward. As
he moved in he made to repeat the question, Miranda tapped her lips.
"No, no I heard it clearly the first time. I don't believe I know
Miranda chuckled. "You're name is irrelevant which means you work for
the Inquisitor." There was a self satisfied moment as the young
man stopped short just as she commenced with her dissecting stare which she
extended an extra thirty seconds simply because she could. "I don't
know you ergo I would never invite you into the privacy of my bedroom. You
understand. And Michael." She lowered her voice so he was forced to
lean towards her to hear along with all the other press.
"Underwear is not a fashion accessory it is a necessity, and
yes, you may quote me. That's all." With that she slipped into the
car, leaving the crowd of press to stare down the man who stood watching
The phone dropped into its cradle and immediately started to ring again.
Elise let the new Emily pick it up as she stared at the device.
A hesitant glance toward Miranda and she called Roy to give him
warning before walking across the plush carpeting into Miranda's office. Uncomprehending
expression fixed to her face, she did the unthinkable and braced on
Miranda's desk then leaned in to be heard. "Miranda.
Cassidy just called. Everyone is fine but it appears that, as
she delicately put it, Andy's gone Britney and is going to try to burn the
"What does that mean? Again in English." Miranda checked the
clock on the wall. It confirmed it was only a few minutes after
three. "Do we need to call the fire people?"
Britney, twin speak. What would it mean? Oh, right.
"I believe they mean she's gone crazy. She was talking
very fast and said something about Andy's decided to cook dinner.
Followed by I should tell you so you could come home, quick, before
they're potato chips." Why that was so bad Miranda would hopefully
know because she didn't have a clue.
"Tell Jacques our meeting is moved up. I'll stop by his place on
the way home. I should be there in ten minutes. The piece on mini-skirts
needs to be re-written, Patricia writes more coherently than that. Have St.
Laurent send over something to replace those hideous wraps and give Viviane
my regrets but suggest that Isabelle would be a more appropriate choice for
spearheading her event. Call Caroline and let her know I am on my
"I'll give Viviane a few numbers. That should make her happy.
Roy is waiting." Elise exited the office, no clearer
understanding of why the girl's were hysterical than when she'd walked in.
But little did the confused assistant know that over an hour and a half
later when Miranda did walk in the door the normally pristine house would
be in chaos. The kitchen fiasco had inexplicably exploded beyond the
kitchen into sitting room. Little flecks of unidentifiable black dots
splattered along the wall. A mix of flour and sugar, marred by small
footprints left a powdery trail. Curiosity, shock and or fear might
have led Miranda to enter the room while still dressed in pristine work
clothes. But it was definitely shock that glued her in place.
To the left of the door standing back from the counter were the twins.
Bedecked in their rain slickers, rain hats and galoshes almost every
inch of skin was protected. Both wore their swimming goggles.
Used to be was the most appropriate phrase for the color of their
coats. Once yellow and green coats were now polka dotted in white
foam and larger black, unidentifiable pieces. Yellows, green, red and
orange bits of what might have once been vegetables haphazardly scattered
over the foam like demented sprinkles gone awry on a factory line.
Another trail led from them to the counter to the other side of the
room where Cara, the housekeeper and former nanny stood holding at least
one of the causes for whatever catastrophe had befallen the home: a
well used fire extinguisher, the nozzle still dripping white.
Never one to care excessively about what she was wearing, Cara looked
particularly a mess. Strands of hair had escaped her ponytail to
stand every which way. Shirt half tucked in, with the same strange
bits covering her, crazed, pleading eyes turned to her employer.
She'd been with Miranda since the twins were born yet had never
managed to look quite so out of sorts even during their toddler years.
And then what had first blended into the once white walls turned out
to be a moving body that resumed its furious muttering as it scraped at god
only knew what in some poor, innocent and quite ruined pan.
Utterly unrecognizable to the point of being inhuman, dark hair had turned
gray. What had once been flour and sugar had turned into a soggy,
muddy mess attached to the body when Cara had had no choice but to turn the
fire extinguisher on whether Andy would move back or not. She'd
missed most of the direct foam but enough had splattered to create an
unholy mess. Not a stitch of actual material was visible, all covered
in whatever had exploded. And exploded it had. Multicolored
confetti food covered the surfaces of the room, the walls, the ceiling and
the light fixtures. Remnants of smoke wisped from the oven that chirped
an irate little message: two fast beeps and one slow. The
stovetop itself was identifiable only by where the pans sat hissing out a
whining little chorus of doom.
A teakettle blared incessantly. Every available pan appeared to have
been called into action. They lined the countertops, piled
precariously in the sink two feet high and littered the floor sporadically.
The twins wide eyes watched her every move, mouths altering between
hanging open and hysterical giggles. They had warned of the impending
doom after all. The refrigerator door stood open, half its contents
spilled out onto the floor, the other by all appearances having been
What looked to be a very dead and wilted leek stuck out from the collar of
Andy's shirt. Upon closer inspection half a grocery store appeared to
be on both Andy and the twins and still the journalist cooked on until a
pan flew over her shoulder when she tried to shake or perhaps flip whatever
charred pieces had the misfortune to be in the now black pan.
"Hon-ey, I'm home." It sounded foreign on her lips and yet
looking around she had entered a foreign land because the bombed out
dumpster getting goo on her heels in no way resembled her home. There
should be police tape cordoning off the space. "Andrea?" She
winced when her toes squished in something as she attempted moving across
the room. "Girls?"
"Mom! We warned you!" That seemed the most important
thing to get out. Passing off blame was critical. Caroline
poked Cassidy, a silent message passing between them before she flew over
to Miranda, skidding to a halt just before the woman ended up toppled over.
"Isn't it great? I mean bad. But Mom lookatit!"
Andy, kettle screaming in her ear, didn't hear a thing.
Cassidy stomped through the kitchen delighted when the foam and bits flew
beneath her feet. Striking one her mother's poses even though she was
looking upwards at her mother she gave the illusion of looking down her
nose. "An-drea-a is fixing dinner. I hope you are hungry."
"There is a lot of food." Caroline agreed then slid back
over to her spot. Her biggest worry had become how to convince their
mother to keep this new arrangement. Remembering their plan, she slid
back over, a delighted laugh escaping when she fell down and flour, sugar,
foam and food went flying. "Can we get rid of Rosy? We
like Andy's cooking better."
Miranda gave up even considering waking through the sludge and left then
returned a couple of minutes later still wearing her Armani pinstriped suit
but now wearing slick and shiny black rubber boots that went to her knees.
She still cringed with each step and reminded herself this was not her
house. She touched Andrea on the shoulder then duck in case another pan
went flying. "Darling, what the hell is going on?"
A pan did fly, nearly beaning the editor upside the head when Andy spun
around in surprise. They'd developed a pattern in the kitchen, one in
which the twins came close only after they'd announced themselves.
The blue eyes pierced her consciousness, the near hysteria in Miranda's
voice at her mad attempt at cooking plowed through the fog. The
journalist blinked twice. Her face contorted. In a heartbeat
two years had been erased and she was suddenly standing before her boss
that fateful night when she'd climbed the stairs. Busted.
Unable to think or move, she stared, helplessly caught between two
moments in time.
"Shit." Miranda squealed from the pan whizzing by her head. Her
hand snapped back off Andy's shoulder. She shuddered to think what
was making her fingers stick together. "Bad afternoon darling?"
Darling. They were involved. Working for Miranda ended long
ago. She'd lived with her for months. Dated the woman even
longer. The timeline of events began to order in her mind. Andy
glanced around the room then did it again, really seeing the area for the
first time through food encrusted eyelashes. Flour masked her deep
hue of embarrassment. Every single eye in the room bored into her
skull. "Yeah. When did you get here?"
"Just now. If you have no objections I think we'll order in."
Her stomach twisted in a knot. Andy's eyes told the tale or at least
part of it.
"I was... Okay." Trying to cook didn't matter much
when you'd destroyed a kitchen. The journalist noted Miranda's boots,
the girl's attire and Cara's tangible panic. She offered a sincere
apology, found the broom and started on a corner of the room away from
"Cara do you have more gloves?" A entire body suit would be
preferable but what the hell, everything would get sent out for dry
cleaning anyway. With that Miranda turned on the giggling girls. "You
two are already outfitted that means you get to start over there. If you do
a good job I won’t send you to live at Grandmother's house until you are
Cara scurried off and came back with mops, pails and gloves. She fitted
Miranda with gloves as though the woman were going off to perform surgery.
Picking up a pail, a mop and sponge the editor set off across the room to
join Andy. "Dinner looked complicated. What were you making?"
Unexpected help nearly caused her to cry. The day and now this mess.
Would it ever end? "Take your pick. Multiple
attempts at different things. A soufflé. It blew up. My
mother never said they could do that."
Caroline and Cassidy scampered off, reappearing a couple minutes later when
their music was blaring into the room. Before Miranda could nix it they got
straight to work. "We need the tunes Mom." They saluted and got
busy with their brooms and mops.
Little brats, she smiled and was quite pleased with them as she watched
them actually clean under Cara's direction. Cassidy ran her fingers through
what looked like cheese sauce on the table. "Hey Andy that was tasty
Miranda's eyes nearly bugged out of her head. "Cassidy Alexandria
Priestly! That sort of language is intolerable."
Cassidy batted her lashes and dipped her finger into the mess again.
"You said it. We all heard you, Mom."
"We did." Caroline chimed in with. Defense of each
other was a staple. Oh so innocent eyes betrayed nothing, certainly
not that they'd been dying to use certain words for the longest time.
"And Andy says it. The drivers. I don't think it
sounds as good as the one you said the other night. Fuck. It
Loud giggles completed the sentence but the journalist could only groan and
thump her head against the broom handle while praying Cassidy didn't take
it a step further as they often did.
"Sounds so what my darling little girl?" Miranda's hair felt like
it was standing straight out but she didn't dare reach up and touch it
because she was wearing gloves that were now gunked.
"Weird," Caroline said, changing her original answer. Their
mother had that tone. It was not to be messed with. She glanced
at her sister then gave her mother her most charming smile and switched to
the English version of mother - a situational use. "Don't you
God they were too clever for their own good by times. She was tempted to
leave them to clean up the entire mess with Cara overseeing but then she
looked around and the true absurdity that they were standing in her kitchen
ankle deep in goo really struck her. And she laughed then scooped up two
handfuls of stuff and flung it at her gapping children. "Clean wicked
Cinderella children, clean," she cackled imitating the wicked
Andy's head turned slowly, mouth half hanging open. The mess had
affected Miranda's mind. Caroline was quickest to recover. The
journalist just had time to see her scoop something up, hand part to
Cassidy and then the handful flew- it’s aim, Miranda's pinstripe suit.
Armani pinstripe suit. As Cara had before, Andy stood rooted to
her spot, unable to do more than stare.
Miranda ducked but their aim was good and the goop hit its target. Her
wince was mostly unseen but they'd hit the point of no return so Miranda
picked up her bucket and started flinging stuff at them helter skelter
giving them little opportunity to toss stuff back at her. "Run wicked
children run because when I catch you, it's the dungeon."
Although they considered themselves old and refined, the twins could not
resist her in this mood and so if only for a few minutes their childish
natures won out over the teenagers in waiting and they squealed and tried
to keep the table between them as she stalked them around the room.
The worst of Andy's upset found itself on hold as she moved over beside
Cara. The sides had changed. Where before she'd been the zoo
animal, now she stared like mother and children were. Aliens had
replaced her lover. Good ones, sort of, but aliens. By the time
they'd wound down the poor housekeeper would have paid them to get the hell
out of the kitchen. Anything to stop making a bigger mess. Yet
they both laughed when three people became a heap after their game turned
to a sliding mess of tackle. The kitchen demon had overtaken them.
A new, desperate expression exuded from Cara when she glanced at Andy
who nodded and apologized again. She felt horrible about the mess but
just this once she would gladly hand the cleaning of it over.
"Alright guys, I think it's shower time before Cara quits."
Caroline, in the midst of laughter turned and speared the journalist with
an exact replica of her mother's go hang yourself to spare me the trouble
glare. "I'm a girl Andy."
"Horrid little beasts the pair of you." Miranda grinned and
squeezed them both close, sorry the moment had ended. "Cara won't
quit. The girls will clean it up, won’t you girls?"
Cassidy poked her mother in the side and brushed several locks of filthy
silver hair back away from her face. "Mummy you really are quite crazy
Miranda's cell phone appeared and before either girl could run she snapped
several pictures. "I wonder how many hits these would get on..."
what had Andrea called it. "Youtwo."
They looked at her aghast then giggled. "It's youtube Mom and
you don’t even know how."
"Correct." She hit speed dial and only had to wait two rings
before Elise answered. "I am sending over pictures put them on
"MOM!" They both screamed in unison, certain their lives were
careening towards irrevocable humiliation. "Cleaning now, see us
clean." They scrambled and set to work.
"Forget youtube. Send a cleaning crew immediately. The girls
science experiment got out of hand in the kitchen. Thank you. That's
"Thanks Mom. Bye." Caroline grabbed her sister's hand
and dragged her as fast as possible out of the kitchen before Miranda could
change her mind.
Miranda's idea passed to the journalist who discretely snapped a couple of
pictures of her own. The editor covered in goop sitting on the floor
alone? That would earn a prized place in her office here at home.
Once the phone was tucked safely away, she apologized to Cara once
again then walked over and offered a hand to her lover. "You're
"You owe me a shower." Miranda proceeded to strip off the
offending clothes where she stood, refusing to enter her inner sanctum
spreading the vile remnants of the aborted dinner.
"Done for the day?" Undisguised hope dripped from the
"I am. I finished up my last meeting of the day on the way home.
"Done." Unequivocally done for the night. Articles
and deadlines could wait. Andy started the way to Miranda's room,
afraid to even glance at herself after seeing Miranda.
"No, no darling. Those things you are wearing are not crossing into
there. That is the upside. I have you to myself for a few unexpected
"I'm not that bad." Then again. The journalist
shuddered and stripped down in the hallway since it had already been
subjected to the cooking nightmare. "Maybe a little."
"Bath or shower?"
As if there were really a question. "Shower. I'm not
sitting in that water as this washes off. You're early."
"I would have hosed you down before allowing you in the bath."
Miranda's tone was light, helped by the antics with her girls. "The
meeting finished up earlier than I expected."
"I'm...glad." And she was. So much so that the
playfulness of the kitchen drained away. None of the day could be
shared until the bedroom closed. "They want an exclusive.
The door to the bedroom was closed, followed by the door to the en suite.
Miranda turned on the water in the shower. A dozen shower heads
sprang to life spraying water at a precisely controlled temperature.
"Your side of the story?"
"My side. Yours. All the in between. Being scooped
by Page Six didn't go over well. All the reporters outside, the same.
And the best part, the best part, was when the local award winning,
respectable journalists began calling. Blondie from channel 4 showed
up." Beaten, bruised and feeling burned by those she respected,
Andy leaned against the wall, in between heads and stared at the ceiling.
Miranda stepped in and pulled Andy in behind her. The intense spray quickly
made the kitchen incident only a memory. "You came home early I
take it? How did you handle it with your people?"
"I believe I said forget it. Was told it wasn't negotiable but
they'd give me time to come around. I walked out right after
that." Andy leaned back, desperate to erase the memory of the
day. Instead red flames shot up her neck. "I um, left at
2. And uh, forged your signature on a note then picked the girls up
Miranda stilled, water beaded on her face betrayed nothing of what she was
thinking. "Is this what you want Andrea? Us? The girls,
being here, part and parcel of all of it. Marianne included. Not to mention
the notoriety, the whispers, the grainy unflattering photographs, and the
stream of invasive people questioning your motives and my mental health.
I am quite aware that the imagined does not really prepare you for
"The notoriety, press, photographs, never. I don't think it's
something I'm built for. Not at this level meaning where they're
dogging everything and turning the world ugly. But you, the girls,
absolutely." Andy turned, eyes shimmering as white water dripped
from her shoulders. Her stare was intense letting no misunderstanding
pass. "I won't ever like the press part. I didn't fall for them.
But I'll deal for you or try to, however badly I manage it.
This degree of scrutiny is shit."
Fingers linked and hooked behind Andrea's neck. "Why did you pick the
girls up early?"
Why? Good question whose answer hadn't been considered.
"I'd said I'd pick them up. They give me that 'it's okay'
understanding look that makes me twitch and feel horrible. And I
just...wanted to see them. They're terrible and impossibly
"I'll speak to the school so that there will be no need for you to
forge my signature when you want to pick them up." Miranda herself was
feeling particularly endeared at the moment; what kind of person survived
the day her lover was having and picked the twins up to make herself feel
better? "I question your mental health." Her very private
smile and a soft kiss belied misinterpreting her words. "I quite
love you the way you are. Yes, your youth and naiveté can be maddening by
times, but they are also very much part of the whole that I love. I'm
concerned about you and the fallout.
You are just starting your career and the impact of your decisions can be
very far reaching, for you. Walking away bought you time for today...
tomorrow will come though. If you dodge this demand, what happens next time
when you are the one being sent to invade someone's privacy? Are you cut
out for that?" Because the truth of the matter was from where Miranda
was sitting, where they sent Andy had little choice of going.
"This feels different Mira not just because it's me but because it's
not about a greater piece. I'm not running for office nor are you.
I've chased down people before but there always is a line. This
feels tabloid. It's not delving into the life of a mom who's doing
her best to raise her kids. Sorting through her background for the
story, the one key piece that will get people. This is...reality
television. I hate it. I can't why I can't do what I love and
still have principles. If not over what I write or about who or the
topic then what? Why don't I just go down to street corner and sell
myself and my soul.
I get that life means doing things you don't like. Stepping on people
at times. I've resigned myself to that but is there no line?
None at all? Will you put the girl's on display in Runway
because the designer calls for it or it will sell more magazines?"
Andy exuded hurt as her fingers ran up and down her lover's neck.
Accepting some elements of life didn't mean she'd ever be able to
choke down the idea of whatever it takes.
"It is tabloid Andrea. It's also a hook, one your readers along with
many others will be happy to chomp down. It's different and yet the one
commonality the bottom line is, it sells papers. And ultimately that is the
business you are in. As you pointed out, sadly, even the legitimate
reporters sink to the lowest common denominator on occasion, by choice or
by directive. Can you have your lines? Absolutely. Do you get to keep
all your lines and still achieve what you desire? Can you have it
all? No. Does that mean you shouldn't try? No. If you reach the
pinnacle and despise yourself was it worth it? As to my lines. Yes I
have them. Over my life some have been erased, some redrawn and others
remain absolute. I find myself in a position now though that few dare even
approach those lines. But even now there are still a few who are
Exhaling, Andy shut her eyes. They wanted their story. Who could tell
what Miranda's opinion on the matter was exactly. It didn't matter
regardless. She wouldn't touch that exclusive, hers, if it meant the
difference between success and moving back in with her parents.
"I won't do it. Nor will I do it to someone else. I
learned a few things in that interview with Dan. You and they can say
all you want about it's the job, etcetera etcetera. That's true to a
degree. This road will surely be harder if I don't do it.
But if I ever want to really write the good stuff, the crap will come back
to haunt me. Not a little bit or a whisper of. It could ruin me
if I ever reach that big point. One article, one poorly researched
subject and you're done. I decided that night with him, when
listening, what kind of stories I would do. Even now there are some
that I don't like. But there is a line, clear as day in my mind.
And I'll be damned if they or you or anyone else will strip that from
me in ten years, my name and integrity, because I did a few crap stories
that then skew every other piece I ever do in my career. All because
it's easy and in sensationally in demand."
"Good. Now that that is settled." Miranda relaxed, her lover hid
the forged steel well but it was there. "Use it. If you have to shame
them for even suggesting something so far beneath them, do. You are good at
handling people Andrea, play to that strength. Whatever happens... this, us,
you part of our life is what I want. Today was just a very irritating noise
that will fade one way or another."
Forged steel or not, under the spray of hot water, Andy sought out a closer
embrace that seeped into her muscles and soothed all that was battered.
Cheek resting on Miranda's shoulder she murmured soft agreement.
"I'm going to choose to believe that wasn't a weird test because
I love you."
"There was no test. But on occasion I might be a talking head
for the devil. How we go forward is easier when you know what you want and
are sure about your lines." Her hand slipped under Andy's chin and
tilted her face upward. "Your determination is very sexy Andrea."
"Tomorrow is Friday," the journalist reminded, her touch turning
deeper, fingers digging into Miranda's back. Out of necessity they'd
learned to put lust on hold until the weekends. Quickies grew old
fast and anything more meant something had to give the next day. A
soft kiss lingered on the editor's jaw. "One more day.
Until then you promised me dinner. I'd offer to cook
"Right." Miranda lathered up her hair and rinsed. "The
girls are leaving a day early for their grandparents. I thought we'd order
pizza and watch one of their movies."
Stepping back, Andy added a double dose of shampoo to her own hair, mind
spinning like a cog. "Sounds good. We could break the
rules just once after they go to bed. I'll even rewrite that one
article for you if that will free up some of the book work."
Half teasing and very much wanting to feel the editor, one eyebrow
Miranda removed one of the shower hoses and rinsed the bubbles hanging on
the ends of Andy's hair. "Break the rules or not, tonight darling you
are not getting out of my sight. Although after what happened in the
kitchen earlier," the deep chuckle carried to crystal blue eyes.
"I seem to be on a roll." One hand slid down the curve of Andy's
spine pulling her into a complete body hug. "There will come a time
when this will rate nothing more than a footnote, until then ... I could
pull out the boxing gloves and knock a few heads."
Rich, whole laughter run in Miranda's ear. Another day and time in a
vulnerable moment she remembered saying something very similar. The
protective streak did not go unnoticed. Neither did she mind it.
"That would be worth the price of admission. Thank you.
You're incredibly endearing and sweet. I can't even think of a
more romantic dinner than pizza."
"You remain an odd little journalist." One she loved more deeply
today than she had the day before. The water was shut off and she wrapped
her lover in a towel. Her kiss was emotion filled but brief. "I
say we have three minutes before the blond hair monsters jimmy the lock. I
still can't believe you picked them up early."
"I'm going to take that as a compliment. Why is that so
unbelievable? The reason I don't pick them up when I have a few hours
in the afternoon is mainly because of their activities. That and they
have shown up at the Mirror a time or two if I was late but you do not know
that." Andy tipped her forward and initiated another kiss
feeling better for the moment, waiting vultures be damned.
Tuesday morning saw Andy sitting in her home office, alone. Since the
original article the press had amped up, not down. She'd cursed them,
cried over them and allowed herself more than one fit of anger. Work
had become impossible. Every source had dried up and eventually the
articles she could take had too. Miranda had been proven right.
She'd put off what to do about the paper's demand for an exclusive
until there were no other options available. Put up or get out.
Then she'd become really moody until she came to peace with her
decision. The article materialized on her computer, line by line
until she didn't remember writing it. What she did remember was
deliberately staying up the night before, sitting at her desk, pretending
to still be working on it.
She'd waited until the last possible second to turn it in. Staff had
been minimal and most of all the copy editor was desperate to get the paper
to bed. Both his eyes had bugged out but she'd stayed within the
minimal guideline she'd been given: an carte-blanche exclusive in her
voice. She'd seen it go off to the printers feeling relieved and
anxious. Miranda, for once, hadn't laid eyes on it or even known she
had done it. Playing the busy journalist in her office this morning
had helped Andy avoid most questions. There were just two remaining:
whether or not she was currently employed and whether or not she
still had a lover.
Elise, who was reading the Mirror at her desk, three papers ahead of
Miranda wondered the same damn thing. She'd read every word, unable
to breathe and then she neared hyperventilating. The phone was eerily
silent. Hoping the editor would hurry up so she wouldn't have to be
the one to tell her she read it again, little squeaks escaping.
Dragon Slayed, Melting Snow, Fashion Disaster, these are a few of the
headlines splashed across New York's newspapers. Local television
hasn't been any better as everyone who hasn't been living under a rock will
know. It has been after all, impossible to miss. I should know
because I have been trying to miss it all more than anyone else. My
life has been splashed across headlines, dissected and decimated by the
purveyors of the news and more than a few tabloids. To be honest this
entire debacle feels like a tabloid gone out of control. That's my
opinion and one I've been asked for repeatedly. For those of you wondering
no, you cannot reach me by phone or at least not easily. I've changed
both my numbers like I changed my address months ago.
Yes, please, quote me on that. That is after all why I'm writing this
article. A cave to pressure. The incessant hounding drives me
crazy. Ironic or poetic justice I'm sure some of you will say.
True, all true. I can't deny it. Neither will I ever
understand why I, some faceless journalist, have become the news of the
day. All because of whom I go to bed with. My humble employers
disagreed, asking for an exclusive that I have until now denied them.
The more I've denied the more dogmatic the following. And in
the back of my mind has been something Miranda said to me the other day.
To borrow from and paraphrase her: do this your way, whatever
you choose to do. Your way.
I've chewed on that in between camera flashes and pointed questions
designed to get a rise out of me. I don't begrudge anyone their job.
That’s all their doing is their jobs. I do hold a grudge for
the way it's been done but that is not what everyone wants to know.
Don't ever be fooled when someone asks you for an exclusive.
They mean an exposé. What I've been unable to decide is what
exactly I'm exposing, myself or Miranda Priestly?
While I decide that I will clear up a few points. For the record,
yes, I am in love with her and I did meet Miranda at Runway. Anyone
who ever knew me during the time of my employment at Elias-Clark knows I
did consider throwing her off the Brooklyn Bridge on more than one occasion.
I knew nothing about fashion when I went to work for the magazine.
What I know now I have her to thank for. Yet I did leave her in
Paris without warning or notice. Fashion for all its ability to
mesmerize, simply put, was not where I saw myself spending my life and that
is all anyone needs to know.
Months later I saw her in passing. I pursued, she demurred, ignored
and filleted me once or twice. Over a year later, here we are and I
have to tell you dear readers as tantalizing as this seems to be to
everyone it would have been a lot more interesting back a year ago when I'd
melt under the weight of icy stares to give her a cup of coffee. I'm
a slow, pitiful, pursuer or so I've been told.
But then, when it would have been interesting no one seemed to pay
attention which is perhaps why all the sudden attention annoys me.
Friends and colleagues are now children at an amusement park, hastily
gobbling down every sugar delight they can get their hands on whether it's
any good or not, playing catch up.
Until a few months ago we dated sporadically. You'd stop reading if I
described in detail how slow and how sporadic it was due to work and
scheduling conflicts. I can already hear the she's lying comments as
I write this. I'd simply remind all of you to remember that first job
or two, especially if directly out of college, where the last thing you had
time for was dating.
In print, we, really are that boring. But Miranda Priestly, that is
who you all care about. Who, what, why, when, where. I've been
asked more questions about her than I can remember. Try as I might I
can't quite figure out why everyone is so interested. Yes, I will
admit, I find her fascinating but no one seems to want to know about that.
Those questions are a mere disguise for more about her. So I've
asked myself what is it that everyone wants to know that I'm willing to
Is she really as demanding as you've read? Hell yes. The worst,
most delicious piece of gossip you've ever read probably doesn't come
A bitch? No more so than any powerful person.
As in the know? A micromanager? Anal Retentive? Cold,
blistering, unyielding? Absolutely.
She makes Martha Stewart look like a kitten and believe me, I have the
inside sources to know. At work, she's all that and more. She
demands perfection and commitment. She is unyielding in her views and
god help you if you don't know why those two pairs of shoes made by
different designers while looking exactly the same are in fact not remotely
similar. She scares her staff and half the designers in the world
half to death whether they want to admit it or not. People do duck
into their offices when it's announced she's arriving - yes, her arrival is
announced for the sake of the staff not because she demands it.
Her scarves better be delivered on time before she needs them.
Everything must be arranged to exacting standards and don't think for
a minute she's not aware of what's going on around her. Be it idle
gossip or internal coups, the woman knows. Bet on it. She may
not ever speak a single thank you but neither will she ever yell, raise her
voice or god forbid curse at someone.
She's also the last one that will go to bed at Runway. Not a night
passes where she's not up late, after the children have gone to bed, working
on it from home. Dedication is a horrible understatement of a word
when describing her and what she is and has sacrificed. She'll stand
for hours on end reviewing slides of shoots or changing accessories on a
run through. Every single word on every page will be read a hundred
times over before it ever makes it to print, by her. Changed, altered
and adjusted in that unending search for perfection. If she expects
perfection of everyone else, what she expects of herself can never be achieved
and yet it is month after month. And the world at large covets those
pages she puts out. With good reason.
That is Miranda Priestly at Runway.
If she were a man would anyone care how she ran her world? Hell no.
As a man she'd be respected for what she's done unequivocally.
How she got it done would be irrelevant.
The one I see in private is mine alone. For that exposé you'll have
to look elsewhere. I will say that yes I still see all those sides.
I also see more. It's up to each individual person that works
with her to decide if they ever care to see anything else or not.
Truth be told she could care less most of the time. The
exception being when her children are written about. After the last
few days I have a much better understanding of that. As I write this
I do not know if I'll have a job tomorrow or not. This is surely not
the exclusive my bosses wanted but it is all anyone is ever going to get.
I went into this business wanting to do the stories that touched
Articles that made you think and question the world around you.
Sometimes I get to do that, sometimes I don't. I try to
remember that others of my profession may not have any more choice than I
have. I can remember, in moments. But I have to question, and
have, this business I'm in that gives more weight to who Miranda is
sleeping with than what is going on in their local environments and the
world at large. I am disillusioned in the same way many of you are
probably wondering why is this girl getting so much press. Believe me
I've asked that same question. (continued on page 3)
Good intentions aside she couldn't bring herself to turn to page three
again no matter how directed at Andy's colleagues and the business it was.
The article under other circumstances would be quite good. Any
circumstances that didn't involve her being the one to show Miranda.
Elise leaned up and peeked in the office. She'd not gotten to
it yet. Damn. Her fingers twitched on the page while she seriously
considered folding it up into a paper plane and sending it flying in.
A man being led to the gallows, she slowly got to her feet and closed
the distance. The paper was a leper which she held between two
fingers and set down in front of Miranda then got the hell out of dodge.
"Eleeeese." Miranda didn't glance down at the paper. "Why
are you dropping a piece of newsprint on my desk? What's next a
If only. Elise peeked up from the computer she’d dove behind then
glanced out in the corridor. All the extra gawking this morning made
perfect sense now. The article was no doubt being passed around like
candy. Shit. Maybe Miranda had seen it? No, she always
read the Mirror here. Inch by inch, the assistant pushed her feet
back toward the dreaded office. "It's the Mirror. New
"Is that all? Why are you standing there like death is imminent
Because it fucking was. "It's...a break from form.
Personal. Exclusive she called it."
"Read it." Miranda removed her glasses and hands gestured Elise
to get to it.
"What? I've read it, twice." And she really, really,
really didn't want to read it again.
"This is not the morning to play the slow girl on the short bus.
Read it to me." Why she chose this option, she couldn't
say except that Andrea had not given her a heads up, no warning, nothing.
That felt wrong. Off. "Never mind," she checked her watch folded
the paper she'd been reading and rose from her desk. "Summarize."
Summarize. Sure, no problem. Elise's fingers trembled once then
steadied. "She said she'd been forced to give the paper an
exclusive or lose her job. She chose to do it in a very unusual way.
I don't think they got what they wanted. She sniped at the
paper a little, the industry a ton and everyone hounding you both.
Tabloid became a dirty word I wouldn't say in front of my mother.
To clear the air she gave a...brief, odd account of how you two came
to be. Told the world she loved you. Then seemed to say fine,
you want an expose on Miranda here you go. She quoted some of the
questions she'd been asked and answered them. Said a fair amount
about um, you...at Runway. Nothing you've not heard before but very
honest. Then seemed to flip it. It's hard to explain. She flat
refused to tell about you personally then went on a full scale, nice and
self-depreciating diatribe on the industry and standards at large."
"Thank you. Before you scurry out of here like your Choos are on fire
why do you suppose Andrea kept this to herself?" The question was
asked without expression, a clue as to how much she actually trusted her
"Hmm." Elise's head tilted. This conversation felt
easy in comparison. Before the editor could say anything else she had
her book in hand, rapidly flipping to her 'Andy' section. Now where was it?
"Ahha. Early pages, I should have known." The
book flipped shut. "She has done this once before when she was
particularly worried about your reaction. The same with Unseen.
Given those precedents I'd say it's a safe bet she's worried you're
going to send her packing. I had the same concern."
"Why? From what she wrote you are of the opinion that I should send
Danger, danger flashed like beacons. Lips pursing, Elise weighed the
pros and cons. They were not exactly friends although she did like
Miranda well enough. These were not the normal questions the editor
asked. A moment of thought came up with one absolute. Treading
carefully was imperative. Say too much and she crossed a line.
Too little and Miranda would be jerked back to their positions then
terrorize the office all day long. Ultimately Andy seemed to make
Miranda happy which then made little differences at work, the nooses
loosening. Them being together then seemed to be in everyone's best
interest. "I don't believe it's that bad but it is shocking.
People whisper and follow your every move.
But no one has ever had the moxy to write it all up and put it in the paper
for the rest of the world to see. I cannot imagine that doing such a
thing is easy. Nor can I imagine her not being concerned over your
reaction. Personally, later when I'm not having to play messenger,
I'll rather like what she said. Forget rumor, innuendo and he said,
she said sources. She simply said it. In the middle of doing so
it was also quite clear she was in love with you. Why don't I just
read it to you?"
Miranda took a sip of her Starbucks. "I believe I've already asked you
to do so. Time is ticking by."
Of course she had. Elise bit back a smile feeling far less uneasy
than she had when she walked in. That is, until, she picked up the
paper to read. She cleared her throat, exhaled very slowly then set
began reading Andy's article. Every ounce of her energy was put into
keeping her voice even, and most of all, not looking up to gauge Miranda's
The editor sat, ramrod straight, eyes not blinking as she endured the
reading. "Elise, do I scare you?"
"No, not exactly. Most of the time." True, every word
but everyone else...
"Good. That's all." She swiveled her chair around and looked out
her window at Manhattan as her mind churned through the article.
"She defended you," Elise whispered just loud enough to be
heard then darted out of the room. No use tempting fate when she'd
already gone so far over the line recently.
Miranda read the article once in the elevator and three more times en route
to the Mirror. She entered the building like she did Elias-Clarke as
though she was the sole proprietor. If lips were flapping about her
entrance she couldn't be bothered to give any sort of notice. She put
her business card on the circulation counter. "It is imperative I
speak with Andrea Sachs."
"Ohmigod. Ms. Priestly. We just love you around
here." The woman oozed enthusiasm as she bolted from her chair.
The Miranda Priestly. Here. Probably here to kill Andy
but who cared, she was here. One minute became two of fruitless
searching. "She took the day off but I'll be happy to help
"How do you propose to do that, help me?"
"Oh whatever you need Ms. Priestly." Red locks tumbled
forward, bobbing from its owners gushing. The girls around the office
wouldn't believe it. Best of all, none of the nastiness Andy had
mentioned was evident in the woman before her. A little snobbish
perhaps but that was the New York status quo.
Miranda had swiveled around and was about to exit when she changed her
mind. "Given that Ms. Sachs in unavailable I'd like to speak
with Timothy Moore."
"Right this way." No call was necessary considering the
who. Near glowing, Jolene, who had given Andy hell for a week led the
way through desk after desk of computers and journalist. The
attention over her guest caused her chin to lift a little higher until
after several turns the din of noise drained away. "Through the
door, to your right. You'll see him."
Miranda looked around the buzzing offices, her lips pursed when she stepped
through the door then took care to close it behind her to at least give
them the illusion of privacy.
The office was exactly as remembered in layout. The furniture had changed
in color and style, Andy idly noted while pacing around the sitting area.
She was little more than a bundle of raw nerves who bounced between
regretting coming to Miranda's office and wishing the woman had been in.
Elise had cleared her to come up and had even let her wait with a
sympathetic smile. Sympathy that ended when it came to Miranda who
the assistant had promptly called once Andy had been situated in the
woman's office. The journalist might have helped her get the job but
there was no mistaking where Elise's loyalties lie. With and to
Miranda. The hushed phone call informing the editor of Andy's arrival
followed by the question of whether or not she should get rid of her spoke
Andy was glad to hear it on the one hand. The other would have loved
to have an ally amongst all the gasps, the barely concealed conversations,
the looks of approval over the article the stares of disdain from the same
people. Walking down the hallway to the editor's suite caused the
volume in all the offices to raise two decibels. A deaf person
couldn't have missed the hissed comments. People that ran at the
sight of Miranda suddenly despised her for not doing the same. How
dare she, the incompetent fashion challenged assistant that had walked
away, now walk back in after having apparently won the editor over - in
private of all things. Collective, open hostility bled from the
walls. She'd been judged and found lacking before and now, the pencil
thin model like employees seemed unable to find the words to describe how
unworthy she was in their eyes.
Glass doors offered no protection from their scathing comments. Andy
suspected that they raised their voices just to make certain she could
hear. The noise scraped on her nerves until they bled. She chewed
furiously on her thumb nail and tried to remain in the sitting area, away
from their stares. Normal attempts to stay out of Miranda's sphere
had been put on hold as everyone suddenly seemed to have a need to enter.
She heard those conversations too. Elise wasn't an ally but she
did do her best to keep them out. What she could not do was keep them
from peering around the office doors trying to get a glimpse of her, a
specimen to be studied. The new Emily's whose names she didn't know
because Miranda had yet to see fit to call them by anything but Emily
didn't bother disguising their scrutiny.
Two smaller desks had been impossibly fitted where her one, old desk had
sat, giving them the perfect angle to peer Miranda’s office in between
Elise biting their heads off for doing so. Twice she heard the
assistant threaten to fire them herself. A third and fourth threat
went out to people Andy couldn't see from her spot. The journalist
was convinced that the woman would do it which brought an inexplicable ball
of happiness that she felt guilty over.
Good feelings were short lived the second Andy remembered, again, where she
was. It had taken two energy drinks along with her coffee to get the
energy and courage together to seek Miranda out against what had been
paralyzing fear. Her cell phone remained off. Whether she had
a job or not she'd find out later, after she found out whether she still
had a lover. A face all but smashed against the glass prompting her
to move to the back corner of the room. There was nothing to do but
wait, worry and question her own sanity.
Miranda breezed into the building as if nothing were remotely amiss in her
world. She handled three calls on the way to her office. Halfway down the
hall to her office she stopped and noted the congregated bodies. Her chin
jutted out just a little extra as she softened her step and was in the
midst of them before they realized.
"I do not understand why there are clackers and slackers impeding the
entry to my office. Has it been declared a national holiday for
underachievers? Denise what were you thinking? Those shoes with that
outfit and those hose. An abomination. A turtle in leopard skin, it's a
disturbing image, go away and rethink that. You," blue eyes stared
with disdain at one of Runway's top in house models who was chewing gum,
"watching a cow chewing cud would be more appealing, why are you in my
space?" As the woman opened her mouth Miranda cut her off. "Don't
speak and do not ever presume to stand idly around chawing in the vicinity
of my office again, pretty faces are not hard to come by.
I don't understand why even a measure of intelligence is always in such
short supply." When she blinked the editor found herself alone.
Several more strides took her into her office where coat, scarf and bag
were dropped on the Emily's desks and her icy gaze fell to Elise. "I
refuse to walk through that..." she waved her hands animatedly towards
the hallway. "If you need to use tear gas, do. But that,
The Emily's, for all her training wilted. Elise openly rolled her
eyes at them then stood to take care of the problem herself. As a
rule you didn't speak to Miranda unless spoken to but if the assistant
adhered to that she'd never get a damned thing done. "What fun.
I love my job." A wolfish grin appeared, indicating just
how true the comment. Elise glared at the Emily's to return to
updating the bulletin.
Miranda's eyes flared, because she knew the girl did just that, love the
job and she excelled as no others had in the position because she dared and
seemed adept at skirting the fine line between being aggressive and
obnoxious. In the past several months they'd developed their own odd
rapport that accounted for Miranda's reply that was absent the scalding
tone any others would have received. "Love it more. Get it done. Call
Tommy and have outfits for the girls delivered to their grandparents and
fit Jillian Cors in for a three o'clock."
Green eyes narrowed in thought, Miranda's schedule spinning behind Elise's
pupils. Anytime the woman's schedule had to be altered meant a
serious upheaval and a dozen calls. It was for that reason that she
always, always, always left an hour’s worth of empty 15 minute slots spaced
every three hours. It made shifting things somewhat easier.
Sarah, the first assistant and not-so-new Emily received an
imperceptible nod to start making the appropriate calls.
"I've already taken care of the Tommy delivery. It should be
there by morning. I'll handle your meet with makeup and give you an
update later." The rest she’d make sure was rearranged after
taking care of the horde. The editor never cared how you gave her
time or the ways you shifted the schedule so long as it all got done.
Yes, that would work. Elise nodded more to herself than her
boss, grinned, then went to crack a few heads. Some days Miranda gave
the best assignments.
She'd been aware the entire time of Andy's presence in the office and
finally she spared her a look before motioning towards her inner office.
She then leaned forward and put a hand on each of the Emily's desks.
"I am not to be interrupted under any circumstance. None. No calls,
nothing." Message delivered, she entered her space and waited.
Fully aware of the moment Miranda had gotten into the office, Andy had been
remained in her corner like a skittish colt. The true arrival made
her twitch visibly. Abused thumb lowering from her mouth, she stared.
All the planning in the world didn't impart the perfect words or what
to say to her lover. "Hi."
"Andrea." The tone belied the mixed emotions she was feeling,
confusion chief amongst them.
"I'm really not sure what to say." Help, a starting place,
even the ice that Miranda kept up while working would be considered gifts
"I went to see you at the Mirror." Her dissecting gaze
revealed that Andrea looked scared, that surprised her. "You weren't
available so I took the opportunity to have a little chat with Timothy
"You did and...you did?" Aware of sounding inarticulate,
the journalist couldn't have corrected herself if she tried. Miranda
didn't even know where the Mirror was as far as Andy knew. And hell,
she herself hadn't spoken to Moore or done more than glimpse him until
yesterday. "Angry with me?"
"I am. Quite angry that you didn't tell me. That I had to find
out from Elise while I was having breakfast. Just like everyone else. That
hurt." Her glasses came off and were folded then set aside.
"That was quite a thing you did. The article was startling. I
threatened Timothy with a libel suit. It was uniquely you, Andrea.
Heavy handed, a bit more preachy than you usually write, but it was well
deserved. It won't win the Pulitzer but by my count it was an important
first step. I believe I owe you an apology."
Miranda owed her one? What on earth for? Hearing her lover talk
had Andy convinced the apology owing was the other way around.
"I'm not sure for what but I doubt it. I'm sorry I didn't
tell you. I couldn't figure out how. And I was scared. Of
what you'd say, of you telling me I shouldn't do it or publish it and of
your reaction." Tommy. Dear god that couldn't have gone
over well. Fired for sure. "It was preachy. I knew
it...but you said my way. I needed to unload for good and bad I
"I once called you a coward for your professional choice. You're not.
I am proud that you elected to be true to yourself and handled it your way.
We will never agree about everything and we may disagree vehemently about
important things. Expect it. That is just part of a healthy relationship,
not that I have experience in that but it sounds right." Miranda
leaned back and perched on the corner of her desk. "Which do you think
is worse Andrea, having the opportunity to discuss for good and bad and
then knowing full well you were going to go ahead and publish. Or being
absolutely blindsided? My colleagues, my assistant, the Emily's
received insight into what you were thinking and feeling before me. I found
that quite humiliating."
A fair, valid point. Andy couldn't have felt like a more horrible person.
Anytime Miranda just put her feelings out there like that the effect
was guaranteed. Especially when she tended to be very even keel when
it came to herself. She'd verbally share some in private but to that
degree, rarely. The journalist nodded slowly and crossed her arms
over her chest protectively. The editor being proud wouldn't have
much resonance until much later. "It wasn't my intent to
humiliate you. Ever. I'm sorry."
"You have the day off, can I assume that means you have time for a
coffee?" Dwelling on the hurtful and distasteful parts of her personal
life was just not something she planned on starting to indulge in.
"I do," Andy said, a sliver of hope appearing in the otherwise
very flat eyes. Fear continued to lurk underneath the surface, less
to do with her job than her lover. "I'm sorry I hurt you."
"I know. I'm sorry you didn't feel comfortable enough with us to come
to me with this. I was bringing you a coffee, to work. It's cold now.
If you'd rather I can send one of the Emily's out to fetch. Or we could go
and take a short walk...Walter isn't due to arrive for another twenty-five
The journalist flinched. This was why she often avoided disputes with
Miranda at all costs. They simply were not freaking worth it.
Because even when the editor was trying to be nice, conciliatory and
understanding, she had a way of phrasing things that made you feel like the
biggest asshole in the world. She didn't mean to, Andy understood
that but she excelled at it nevertheless. "Sorry," she said
again barely able to look up. Yet she wanted out of the office where
she felt distinctly out of place which meant forcing her chin up.
"A walk if that's okay."
"I would like that." Miranda cleared her throat. "I got a
call from Martha Stewart an hour ago." A very private grin surfaced.
"She took offense to being called a kitten."
"And I thought she'd be..."
Elise burst through the doors then closed and leaned back against them.
Her face was white, eyes rolling like a horse’s in the middle of a
lightning storm. She knew damn well Miranda's orders and yet.
Incensed at the private moment being intruded upon after her explicit
instructions Miranda threatened a meltdown. "I..."
"Marianne," she hissed, all too aware that she was going to be
fired in the next hour one way or another. Either the interruption
would do her in or the 'breach'. "She's..."
"Right behind you silly child. Now move from the door this
instant." An older, slimmer and no less well dressed version of
Miranda pressed her face near the glass and tugged on the handle.
The near fearless assistant whimpered when her arm was almost yanked off
and moved away. No, no, she wouldn't be fired. She'd be killed
and hid in the part of the closet that housed the clothes too hideous for
anyone to ever think of taking. "I'm..."
"Sorry, yes, yes, we all know. You're sorry you couldn't let me
in and now I'm sure you'll be sorry to her that you did. Go back to
doing whatever it is you do. Miranda I don't see why you insist on
making me come into the city to talk to you." Piercing,
intelligent blue eyes speared her daughter as Marianne pulled on each
finger until the soft, lambskin gloves fell away. "Can I not get
a proper greeting?"
"Hello mother." There was an near sob in the voice. God
hated her today. "I appreciate your coming all the way in but you
should have called ahead. I am in the middle of a meeting and I have
an incredibly busy afternoon. You understand. By all means though go
back to the townhouse and make yourself comfortable, I'll be home no later
"Why do you insist on lying to your mother? I just don't
understand it. Not once in the last twenty years have you ever shown
up if I dared leave. I came all this way to talk to you and that's
exactly what we're going to do. And you," the older woman said,
turning her eyes toward Andy. The look started at the casual shoes
she was wearing and slowly, torturously worked their way up before they
swiveled to Miranda and did the same thing. Dissecting every inch, it
was a wonder the editor had skin left when older blue eyes locked on her
Andy, already feeling quite bloody shrunk back. As it turned out
there was something worse than Miranda's filleting a cockroach stare - Her
Having swallowed something most foul, Marianne's lips pinched. The distance
between mother and daughter evaporated. Elise's loyalty apparently
ended with Marianne and she escaped the office as quickly as possible.
"Again with the ly-ing Miranda. Do you think I've gotten
so senile that I don't recognize the girl's picture? You've gone
positively native child. It's unseemly. Your poor father is at
home trying to recover from an impending heart attack."
"Daddy is having heart problems?" A second of panic hit the
editor even though she knew all too well if her father were in any sort of
medical crisis her mother would not be here standing in front of her, being
her evil self. Her arms went around the shoulders of the slightly smaller
woman in the requisite hug.
"He wasn't until this little fiasco hit every newsstand in the
country. Honestly, child could you not have found someone respectable
to be with in public and had your little dalliance on the side? Am I
asking too much? I don't think so. My patients have begun
giving me sympathetic looks Miranda. Lying there on their beds, they
give me sympathetic looks. Your father is not faring any better.
Did you even think of us?" Eyes boring into her child,
Marianne accessed everything from weight to how many hours of sleep her
daughter had gotten the night before. Andy, she could barely stand to
think about, not that the journalist minded beyond wincing for Miranda.
"Of course you are asking too much. You always ask too much,
mother." Her voice wasn't quite as brave or as steely as her words but
Miranda was simply thankful they popped out in the order they were supposed
to. "You stopped by to speak to me about Andrea?" Good that ment
a long excruciating lecture and then the woman would be gone again. It was
only a matter of surviving the skinning and follow up acid bath. "I'm
surprised you found the time to get away on such short notice given your
patient load. As you can see I'm fine. Your concern is touching but if
Daddy is ill he needs you."
The blue eyes turned arctic. Andy found herself caught between
wanting to hide and glancing down at her fingers to see if they were
frostbitten. She was still caught between doing the two when Marianne
sliced the air into different pieces. "I made the time to come.
What I'm trying to ascertain is whether or not I should write you a
prescription to help you deal with what is obviously a mid-life crisis.
Most people buy a car, have an affair, get a new wardrobe, dye their
hair. Since you've already done all of the above in one way or
another I suppose it's only fitting that you decided to go for every other
cliché in the book."
"Perfect mother. Fix me with a bottle of pills." Miranda's put
together look seemed to be crumbling from the inside out. It was one thing
preparing to fend off the woman when you had notice, without ample prep
time though the spider cracks popped up everywhere. The editor looked
exhausted. "I've had three Mr. Respectables mother, it's not all
it's made out to be. But since you are genuinely concerned let me put your
mind to rest. Aside from the intrusive press our relationship is
progressing nicely. I'm happy. I thought I would give it a few more months
though before inviting you and Daddy in for a formal meet and greet."
Months, years, decades, who was counting?
"You're always happy until the newness wears off. As you point
out it's happened three times before. But at least then you didn't
decide to go to the jungle to find someone new."
Andy couldn't for the life of her figure out if she was more horrified for
Miranda or horrified at the woman she'd been hoping to never meet in
person. Marianne made her skin crawl then compounded with the
absolute crap days over the last week. In general she avoided the
older woman at all costs. Vicarious audio run-ins were quite enough
thanks. But after watching their lives being torn apart for a days
and now watching Miranda's unflappable bearing beginning to crumble she
reached the edge of a cliff. "Excuse me."
Since Marianne's appearance her daughter had all but forgotten Andrea was
in the room. She wished her lover had decided to play statue instead of
speaking, that was the downside to being in love with someone who had their
own mind. Her smile matched one of Cassidy's just before she spouted off
with the unthinkable. "Daddy fared well enough in the jungle."
She took several steps back and turned towards Andy. "This is
Andy stared at her lover like she was insane. Introductions so
weren't necessary. Out of the corner of her eye she could see
Miranda's vicious streak rear its head in the older woman.
"He did indeed. A fact you would like the world to forget would
you not child? More so than I given your carefully created image.
You allow this press, cultivate a lover who writes such trash for the
entire world to see. Well I simply cannot imagine why you would then
mind when people are reminded you were conceived in the backseat of a car
or that pork and beans used to be one of your favorite meals."
As always when it came to playing dirty Marianne won hands down, no
contest. Twin streaks of red struck Miranda’s otherwise porcelain colored
An observer listening closely could have heard Andy's temper snap. Marianne
turned into nothing more than an intrusive journalist. Compared to
her mother, Miranda was Gandhi. The journalist stepped forward and
took Marianne's hand, the epitome of cool. "A pleasure to meet
you Marianne. I'm sure I'll be charmed later but my native fangs are
coming out and I would appreciate if you'd get the hell out of her office.
We were in the middle of a discussion."
Marianne dropped the hand as if it was contaminated. "Go back to
cowering in your corner, girl. This is not your concern."
"Oh but it is." Placing herself squarely in front of
Miranda, Andy crossed her arms over her chest. "She is my
concern and I've got to tell you, I think you're a world class bitch.
You think I'm out of the jungle so let me confirm that I am and act
like it. All those little things called manners my mother surely
forgot to teach me in my wild youth simply don't apply. So let me put
this bluntly and dear god no, don't speak again. We're leaving.
You won't be leaving with us. You will not go to the townhouse
because you can bet I'll bar every door and window. You're her
mother, whatever that means. Who cares. Where I'm from people
wouldn't dare speak to another like that. Maybe your highbrow,
backseat diving ways give you a different set of rules.
That's fine for your house. Here, in hers, and at home, forget it.
I swear to god, if you ever speak to her like that again I'll have
the phone company block all of your numbers and I'll keep them blocked
until you accept the new rules. And. The day the girl's come
home spewing anything that remotely sounds like you I'll let slip in some
quaint little global paper how your high and mighty ways end the moment you
see a nice old Buick that trips your trigger. We'll see how your
patients look at you then. Frankly I could give a shit. I don't
care who whispers about you. Poor you. It's not your life.
She's not a goddamned kicking post. And she, nor I, have to
explain anything to you. So lady, the moral of the story is this:
Go fuck yourself."
Anger pouring off her, Andy stepped back, dropped her hand to Miranda's
lower back and left her no choice but to walk forward, out of the office
while her mother was still standing there with her hand over her mouth in
shock. Elise, somehow knew to fly down the hall to summon the
elevator. The journalist could have cared less beyond the two times
she paused to bark at one of Miranda's employee's to "put your eyes
back in your fucking head and work".
Coat and bag in hand but still too stunned to put the coat on Miranda
whispered to Elise. "Cancel the rest of today. Mental health day. You
included. Have the Emily's arrange, rearrange, whatever it is you do."
Once the elevator doors closed, she stared at Andy like never before.
"You just told my mother to f-off."
"Bitch is too good a word for her," Andy replied in her way of
agreeing. Arms again crossed over her chest, she glared at the steel
confines, too pissed off to think. How dare that woman. Face a tight
mask, she turned toward Miranda and spat, "Who does she think she is? No
really. Calling the rest of the world a jungle. Has she looked
in the damn mirror lately? I don't care if she is your mother, I'll
have some cop friends toss her in jail and keep her there on some trumped
up charge. No one in the world wouldn't believe she didn't eat
Miranda pressed Andy back into the corner and kissed her as if the world
would end before they hit the ground level. When she broke it she stepped
back and leaned into the wall for support, a broad smile on her face.
"No one has ever told Marianne that before. I think that is the nicest
thing anyone has ever given me. Thank you, Andrea." She would call
Elise as they were leaving the building and have the tape pulled for that
The passionate contrast to rolling anger left Andy stunned. She
stared while rubbing her lips. The editor had the strangest look on
her face. Thank you. Very weird considering she was trying to
hang onto anger so she didn't have to think about what she'd done.
"You're welcome I guess. I know you've said she can be
nice enough unless she's angry but she had no right to talk to you like
that Mira. None. God that pisses me off."
"I noticed. I have to say I enjoyed that display on my behalf. You
know, we could stop by production on our way out."
"Why's that?" Andy managed to spit out right as the doors
opened, face engulfed in red heat. Embarrassment had struck, hard.
Miranda stood close to Andy and caught her hand. She had the urge to and at
this point she could not think of reason not to go with that urge. "I
could have them produce a slinky loin cloth and a few vines, Jungle
Jane." Her eyes danced with absolute glee. Not one of her ex's had
ever said one word in her defense to Marianne, this day was one for
People might have been and were staring. Andy made no note of them.
The roots of her hair stood out, stark white against the dark wisps.
Her face glowed like a fluorescent red Christmas bulb.
"Um. Yes. Well. Uh. Okay. But not
Elise. Call her and...I'll hurt you."
"I have to." She quickly hit speed dial. "Before you go.
Pull the tape for elevator 3. That's all." Miranda squeezed her hand
and looked supremely pleased with herself. "Andrea," her lips
purposely caressed each syllable making the utterance a crime. "Production
is this way." She tugged the hand she held and veered off down the
"'Kay," Andy squeaked, just happy to be drug away from the lobby
and prying eyes. A loin cloth. Dear god. Yet Miranda was
in a good mood and maybe, just maybe... "Um, a brief trip by the
house. We could be at your place in the Hamptons by the
Miranda paused mid-stride and changed their direction while dialing
production and putting in the order along with delivery instructions.
"That sounds great to me. You are free to go with me?"
"I will be. Either I have no job or I'll call in. Though um, the
liable thing. Because of what I wrote?"
"Absolutely. I almost felt bad for Timothy until I recalled the
pressure they had exerted on you. He nearly wet himself with relief when he
realized it was my idea of a joke. I was in a mood. Your bosses and
colleagues will not be hounding you for exposes or quotes about our
relationship again. It was an almost amiable ten minutes." Roy was
waiting at the curb when they hit the sidewalk. The press were waiting.
Miranda gave them her signature look and hurried Andrea without
further comment to the car.
Confused, Andy slid in beside her. Chewing and mulling over it every
which way didn't clear up the issue. "Mira, I mean because of
what I said. About you. Liable against the paper and me for
"I made the threat Andrea to evoke a reaction but more importantly to
make a point to him. I just took a different approach than you did."
Miranda let her head fall back into the plush supple leather. "I'm not
angry about what the article said, Andrea. You told your truth and my
reputation remains the same. I have no issue with that. Although one part
did surprise me."
Hand sliding over to cover Miranda's, the journalist began to relax.
The job meant less than her lover did. "Which part?"
"Your rather un-retractable declaration. It's there now in black and
"True. Believe it or not that part worried me the least. It was
mine, true, and that was that." Except perhaps where the parents
were concerned and she fully intended to keep them on ignore for the next
few days. Andy moved closer.
"Did you force a new wrinkle by fretting over the extolling of all my
virtues?" Miranda tugged on her arm and pulled the younger woman into
Andy went willingly, arms automatically linking around her lovers neck.
Where they were was forgotten, the position a favorite. "A
minimum of four. I thought about just putting the good stuff but it
didn't have the same impact."
"It had oomph to it. You called Martha Stewart a kitten, have I
mentioned how that is my favorite part, after the declaration that
is." Her hands skimmed down Andy's sides to rest comfortably on her
"You're demented but did she really call you?" The question
came out as a whisper. Who knew when a berserking Martha would show
"Yes! She wants to do lunch next week to no doubt give advice on
keeping your nearest and dearest mute."
A match made in hell. Andy shuddered at the thought. Two people
that never needed to do lunch were Miranda and Martha, no matter how much
she loved Miranda. "Eh. I think she has the mute part down pat.
She's managed to keep herself and her baby dyke daughter in the
"It's a roomy, well organized closet." Miranda lobbed back. "Does
that mean you'd like to join us? Lunch is next Thursday at one-forty."
"Absolutely not. That woman scares me. She's too
repressed. And that plastered on smile. Freaky. One day
she's going to implode over napkin creases. Mark my words.
Boom. Spontaneous combustion." She'd need to call
Elise later to have her reschedule that frightening lunch, indefinitely.
"You called her a kitten. Kittens are hardly scary."
Andy grinned then decided it was best not to tell her lover that she was
imagining her as a kitten. "I said she was a kitten compared to
you. What will I have to bribe you with so you drive with the top up
just this once?"
"You are quite accomplished at bribery. I'm sure you'll strike on
something worthy. How are you doing. Really?" Her fingers raked
through the ends of Andy's loose strands of hair.
"Better than earlier. I'm not sure I care if they fire me.
Please don't give me that look. At this point I've decided I
don't care all that much. I'll find work somewhere. You not being
ready to chunk me out of the car makes the rest seem irrelevant."
The journalist pressed closer, leaning into Miranda's hand.
"I doubt they will fire you unless you do something utterly
incompetent and that's not likely. The question is, do you want to keep
working for them?" As they approached the townhouse, Miranda raised
the level of her voice enough to be heard by Roy. "After you drop us
off, take this one into be detailed."
He mumbled his assent and pulled off into her back alley driveway.
"Before this, my answer would have been absolutely. I'm not
sure. But as long as I still have a job I'll work there until my two
years are up. A mutual user’s relationship I guess. The
condition being that they don't want another story about us. In that case
I'll be done. The upside is I get to imagine the editors reading it
this morning. That amuses me, a tiny bit." A lot if they
were taking score. Beggars couldn't be choosers. They'd gotten
what they wanted whether they liked how or what they got or not. Andy
brushed the editor's hair back. "I love that piece. This
one. It's the only one that dares to fall out of place sometimes.
"Best not to tell Marianne that she might yank it out." Miranda's
lids lowered, the odd compliment bringing to the surface a slight blush.
"Speaking of. We should pack quickly because once she's had a bourbon
she'll be en route here to continue that discussion."
To hell she would. Her own parents were on the avoid list. Miranda's
mother, again, forget it. "I can do that. You'll need one
of your work power outfits."
Miranda opened the door and disengaged herself from Andy just enough to
exit the car. "Why is that?” she asked perplexed, certain this was a
rare weekend where there were no extraneous work related meetings.
The journalist slid out behind her, neck flushing a light pink. She
shut the door then brushed her lips over Miranda's before walking backwards
toward the house. "If I'm playing Jane then I think you should
play the big, bad, editor."
One eyebrow arched as Miranda gave her head a curt shake. "There is
something very wrong with you." Her strides turned to deliberately
stalking steps. "Versace or Armani?"
"Surprise me. I figure it's a deficiency from working for you.
I never got to really notice or enjoy it when you were being wicked
then." Eyes drooping, Andy crooked a finger then glanced behind
her. There were advantages to working for Miranda. It just took
a couple of years before they revealed themselves.
Two years later
Andy prowled around Miranda's office, as angry with herself as she was at
the world at large. The office held aspects of the area that she'd
once worked in. Details that extended to general structure only.
The colors, decor and arrangement had changed completely except for
the location of Miranda's desk which currently sat empty. The
journalist was convinced it was empty to avoid her. There hadn't been
a meeting on her books last night or when the journalist finally drug home
to their townhouse. A sudden day of them aroused suspicions upon
guilty riddled suspicions. There was a fight brewing. The same
one they'd had several times over the last few months.
Each confrontation seemed to get a little harsher and after each one she'd
promised herself that she'd start watching her hours more closely.
That had lasted but so long, until the next big story for the New
York Times came up. Clawing her way back up the ladder at a new paper
was a given. Miranda knew and understood that to a point or rather
she had understood one job. The second and now the growing third
simultaneous job had pushed even the workaholic Runway editor over the
edge. Andy's career as a journalist hadn't been the only thing to
grow. Unseen Eyes had turned into a tri-weekly syndicated column that
was no longer contained to one small column. On Friday's she'd been
given the nod to run a full one page spread.
The journalist ran it under her pseudonym which Miranda's threat of liable
had helped Andy secure. The few people that knew were bound by
nondisclosure agreements. Runway, and Miranda, continued to be the
Gods of the fashion world that saw Andy carving out more of a niche for
herself with every passing day. From behind her mask of anonymity and
a network that began to show signs of one day being staggering, rumors
buzzed about more global coverage for Unseen. Talks be damned, Andy
ignored them, not once bringing them up with Miranda or anyone else as she
turned her eye toward a website for Unseen.
Miranda had been totally supportive of it all separately, dolling out only
the occasional warnings about burning out or extending too far. When
putting the whole together however, the picture began to change. Each
project began demanding more time to the point that journalist visibly
struggled to juggle it all. The balls that got dropped became
personal. Dinners, lunches and late nights that turned into all
nighters at one office or another. To Andy's utmost frustration, her
lover's tolerance levels lessened with each passing day.
She'd often wondered what had changed. The editor worked less hours,
made a point to coordinate their schedules, that Andy knew. Knowing
had yet to diminish the fervor she was increasingly falling under when new
stories came in. Pieces that captured her attention and defined,
after four years of hard work why it was she'd wanted to get into the
business in the first place. After writing all the little nothing
pieces she didn't ultimately give a damn about, finally getting to pick
from the better stories was like dangling a present before a kid at
Christmas. Unseen then became birthdays and the arrival of an old,
much loved friend. Yet she had no real understanding of how it had
grown as much as it had. Simple commentaries, views and alerts on
coming trends and current fashions shouldn't have done as well as it did.
Neither should it have grown into a more than self sustaining website in
two months. It shouldn't have required the need to take on help
beyond those that already searched out quotes and interviews for her.
That it had left Andy spinning, struggling to keep on top of it all,
so much so that she found a way out of discussing what it would lead to
with Miranda, whenever possible. The editor pushed her to choose and
for reasons she couldn't explain Andy had dug her heels in, refusing to
make those choices. Sage advice being ignored then increased
Miranda's irritation until they were turning in circles. Juggling the
personal and professional meant her personal life was suffering. Andy hated
herself for it, made promises in her own mind that it wouldn't happen
again. It did.
And this time would be the worst of all. She didn't even want to
imagine the look on her lover's face this time after the first missed
weekend since they'd been together. Weekends were theirs, period, end
of story. Until this weekend when she'd given it up for the article
that at the time had seemed like it could be a career maker. It might
yet, they'd see in the coming days. Miranda's disappearance said she
wasn't likely to feel it was enough or at least enough after the increased
hours of late.
The journalist paced around the corners, mind picking apart the little
details of what had happened since their last fight. She'd learned it
was a prudent tactic. Miranda might not remember names but the woman
damn sure remembered when she missed three dinners in a row or worse, ended
up missing one of their girl's events. Lukewarm coffee hit her tongue
before she flipped off the outer office and more importantly Elise.
Inexplicably the woman remained with Miranda. 'The Emily's' had
changed, gone on to other jobs but Elise remained to the point Miranda had
changed the damn layout of the outer space to give Elise a small
semi-private office space without bunching the other assistants up.
If Elise saw the finger she didn't look up so Andy flipped her off
again, mood deteriorating further. The woman was covering, covering
Two more turns around the room and guilt shifted to anger at the assistant.
She waited until the woman looked up then tipped her head back in an
angry invitation. Andy gathered a head full of steam and resumed her
Elise sighed inaudibly then directed Hayden to call the art department.
Being late for that meeting appeared to be a foregone conclusion.
Her fingers typed out a quick text message to Miranda before she
stood. The editor needed to remain out of the office a while longer.
Elise had no problems covering for her. Under the work persona
Miranda was upset, a detail that affected the entire office. But Andy had
apparently not gotten the memo that she hated to be drug into their
disagreements which thankfully didn't happen often. Another, longer
sigh echoed as she stood and entered Miranda's office, ultra aware of the
journalist's brewing anger. She was merely a convenient target.
"What can I do for you Andy?"
"I'd very much like it if you could explain why Miranda isn't
answering her phone." Accusation hung heavy in the statement.
"She's in an important meeting with Valentino." Elise
explained for the third time in thirty minutes.
"That's never stopped her from answering before."
Because Andy didn't normally call her, except for emergencies, during such
meetings. "They're going over the spring line."
"Don't use that tone with me." The journalist drug a hand
through her messy hair.
"Is there anything else Ms. Sachs?"
What she'd said struck her. New guilt grew and swirled with already
raging anger. She would not apologize to a woman so....loyal to
Miranda. "As a matter of fact there is. I'd like to know
why you're still here."
One fine blond eyebrow lifted in surprise. Andy didn't mean in
immediate. Truth be told, she'd rather deal with the editor than her
partner some days. The journalist was trickier. Elise was very
aware of the lines between them effectively tying her hands.
"I'm afraid I don't understand the question."
"Bullshit. You understood it just fine. Why are you still
here? Multiple assistants have come and gone. Three have been
promoted. Of all people you should have been. So why exactly
Peachy. First Miranda was worked up and now Andy appeared intent on
picking a fight. Tone professional, she said, "I like my
"Yeah because it's a great job." Distantly, the journalist
heard herself and winced. Not liking the sound of herself didn't stop
her from adding in a mocking voice, "A million girls would kill for
Elise stared in silence. Relaying this conversation later would be
fun – or not.
"Are you going to answer the question?" She would
Growling, Andy swallowed the rest of her coffee and tossed the cup in the
trash. How she despised that tone. Perfection, perfunctory, to
the point and worse, detached. "Forget the damned rules and
answer it. Why are you here instead of taking another, better
"Because I like my job, Andy."
"You mean you like Miranda." And on another day Andy liked
Elise, most of the time.
The undercurrent caused Elise's lips to purse. That was a line
Miranda wouldn't necessarily expect her to remain perfectly professional
over. "I like her as a boss, yes."
"Please. I don't talk to my boss about my personal life."
Ha. Let's see the damned haughty woman explain that.
How far did the journalist's no rules thing extend? Time to find out.
"I don't care for what you're implying but if you wish to
discuss it you'll need to clarify the terms. Otherwise, I'll listen
to what you have to say and go back to work as I would with any other
"Speak freely if that's what it takes for you to carry on a simple
conversation. You're friends with her." Later, Andy would
be horrified at the way she was lashing out and picking a fight with an
innocent bystander. But that was then and in the now she couldn't
seem to stop herself.
That was about enough of that Elise decided. "Yes, I am.
Just friends. I'm getting married in six months but that's
neither here nor there. What you're implying is insulting, not just
to me but to her and even you. Every time you two fight you start
looking at me as if I'm the cause. I'm not. And while this job
might not have been for you, I enjoy it."
"Why?" Being fully aware that there was nothing going on
between them didn't enter into space of her anger. "You have a
degree and could be doing a lot more, for a lot better pay by now."
The assistant rubbed her temple. Andy must be really pissed at
herself to go this far. Good, she should be. "Perhaps.
But I enjoy what I do. Few can say that. So why would I
want to move on? I know it frustrates others. I'm not
"How is that exactly? I know you have your book but
really." Miranda hadn't stopped being Miranda, making it a near
"Because I don't look around and see problems to drown in. This
is like a gigantic puzzle that requires full use of my mind, skills and
ability to learn. Few people can say that after two years they still
learn something at their job every day. Nor can they say it doesn't
get boring. It doesn't for me. Every day is new. It's a
constant balancing act where I have to shift and try to work in a hundred
things, and two hundred for her."
Why wouldn't the woman respond in anger like a normal person? She
wanted to fight by god, no matter how harpy-ish she sounded. "I
know, you're the perfect assistant. Then again, maybe that's why you
impossibly managed to become a friend."
"That's too far Andy. You're the one that reassured her she
wasn't making a mistake by allowing me in a little. Don't act like
she's impossible to be friends with when you yourself fell in love with her
and before you go there, I'm not you. I'm quite happy with William
and I don't swing that way if I wasn't."
There. At least the woman who was learning Miranda's infuriating
coolness gave off some emotion. That she could work with. Andy
shrugged one shoulder. "You're not me."
"Exactly. I make well over six figures a year. But don't
get it into your head that I'm perfect. Frankly, I think it drives
you nuts that I'm better at my job than you were. You were one of her
better assistants but you make a better lover, I suspect, than you do an
assistant. This job isn't and never was for you. Me, I love it.
I've also been outright fired seven times. Four by the other
Emily's. Three directly. And another three by one of her get it
done or don't show up clauses.
When I screw up it isn't by letting someone else see the book. No, when I
screw up its huge." Elise vowed to herself then and there that
she would forbid William from ever entering the Runway offices.
"And every time after, I've found a way to correct my mistake on
my own time, with my own money and efforts. I'm just smart enough to
make sure that when it comes down to that, I fix my mistake in grand fashion."
Which caused Miranda to hire her back every time. Andy had known
about one of the firings. The rest were new. And what the hell?
How much did Miranda pay the woman exactly? That was need to
know information she needed to find out asap. "I trained
you." A deep, internal wince caused her muscles to twitch.
Okay that sounded petulant.
"Years ago, you did. But you had nothing to do with whether or
not I was able to do, much less keep the job." Had she, Elise
suspected her loyalties still would have fallen on the editor's side, both
as an employee and friend. "Is there anything else?"
Her fury caused the question to be taken as a dismissal. "Yeah,
why did you have them start taking my dry cleaning. Why does the
housekeeper suddenly make sure my printer is full of ink and paper.
Why are you having all my little household things done. They're none
of your concern."
"It saves time and needed to be taken care of." More
importantly, Miranda had asked that she make a list and put the Emily's on
scheduling them to be done.
"Well not my things. Stop doing it." While she did
sound childish, it was a point Andy had been meaning to bring up for
awhile. What had started as a little thing had grown to more and more
until one day recently she'd looked around and realized it was all being
taken care of for her. She felt a little dirty as a result.
Elise stared while considering the demand. Saying yes would mean
having the editor on her ass. "Is there a problem with the way
something is being done?"
"The problem is that it's being done at all. There is no reason
I can't do them myself."
"You say that as if having them done makes you a horrible
"Because it does," Andy admitted. "I'm not Miranda.
I don't have infinite amounts of money or any reason why I can't take
care of washing my own clothes or running them to the dry cleaners."
Holy hell. The assistant pressed a finger to her temple. For
such a smart woman Andy remained clueless in some areas. "It's
not about money Andy."
The journalist growled at the gentle tone. Whoever taught Elise how
to fight sucked at it. "Of course it's about money."
"No, it's not. Miranda doesn't have those things done because
she can afford to. She has them done because she can't afford not to.
All those 'little things' you're protesting about take time.
Anywhere from an hour to twelve a week, depending and that's not
including the things the housekeeper or cook do. Miranda has them
done so she can make it to the twins play. Or go to dinner with you
after already having gone to two functions earlier in the evening. A
trip to the dry cleaners takes a minimum of fifteen minutes. That may
not seem like a lot to you right now but if you add it up with a hundred
and one other fifteen minutes trips it quickly adds up.
So I could cancel all the things that are done for you, which I won't, but
the price will mean you have a lot less time. Time you can ill afford
to lose to be perfectly honest. It's a tradeoff, Andy. No one
can have it all unless there are concessions made somewhere and even then
it's impossible. But having others help doesn't hurt anyone."
Andy opened her mouth to speak then snapped it shut. You just
couldn't fight with the woman. She had an answer for everything and
then in moments she sounded an awful lot like Miranda. She'd won one
argument with the editor in two years. Beyond all reason Miranda
tended to end up being right. Now she was losing to her assistant to
when the woman refused to fight properly. Anger shifted back to
guilt. On top of it all she owed Elise an apology she couldn't bring
herself to give yet. Losing didn't bode well for later.
Suddenly she wasn't quite as gung ho to see Miranda.
The journalist picked up her purse and resigned herself to deal with the
day as it came. Unfortunately, that meant talking to Miranda on her
time, an occurrence that hadn't ever happened like this before.
They'd fought on occasion but Miranda ducking her? Never.
Andy stared, gave a tiny nod then turned to leave. Elise
watched her go, unable to feel sorry for the woman, then called Miranda to
tell her it was safe to return. The editor had been out of the office
on chance just as she'd chosen to remain out of it when her assistant told
her of Andy's arrival.
The late spring drizzle dripped off the emerald green Armani umbrella as
Miranda briskly covered the three blocks from the girl's father's penthouse
to her townhouse. It was nearly nine pm and the streets were only dotted
with people, most choosing not to be out in the inclement weather.
Miranda's steps slowed as she approached the house. The dull dread that had
been there for days, weeks even, unfurled to produce hard knots of tension.
That her lover, partner now, had deemed to stop by her office and harass
her assistant had been the proverbial straw and Miranda was quite livid.
Given a choice at the moment she would have elected to sit down and review
the book with Marianne as opposed to converse with Andy, but it seemed they
still shared the same house so the impending discussion was inevitable.
Events, recent ones, dictated that it would not proceed as their
others had on this particular topic.
A pass code was tapped into her key chain and the front door unlocked. The
wet umbrella was left to drip dry on the mat. Her cream colored Chanel
trench coat was hung in the front closet. She found herself almost hopeful
that Andy was still at work then chided herself since that was part of the
issue to begin with. It was as simple as it was complicated. She
missed Andrea and she was increasingly disappointed about the direction
their relationship was headed.
She glared at the limp strands of hair that stuck to the bridge of her nose
refusing to fall back into place. The book had been delivered early. Even
after all these years her enthusiasm for it had not waned. It
remained steadfast. She collected the book and headed straight to her
Andy glanced up at the sound of footfalls then checked the time.
Shit. She'd meant to work for a couple of hours then meet
Miranda with the car. At least she'd remembered to call the girls.
It wasn't much consolation. Fingers tapping against the wrist
rests on her laptop she considered the best course of action then decided
to leave her lover alone for a bit. No truce had been called. One
wasn't likely to be if an interruption came while Miranda was working.
Best to let her simmer down a bit since she was clearly still angry.
The journalist nodded to herself, wholly convinced waiting was for
Miranda's own good and had nothing to do with her own desire to avoid a
A hastily decided upon plan for fifteen minutes turned into thirty before
she realized the time again. Cursing, she saved her work, flipped the
lid shut and headed to the editor's office. Thirty minutes was
riskier than fifteen. The tide could shift. Miranda had a
tendency to move from not wanting to be disturbed to acting as if thirty
minutes indicated a flippant lack of real concern. Andy skid to a
stop in the doorway, leaned against the frame then softly rapped her
knuckles against it. One brief glance was all it took to know -
Miranda was still steaming. Wonderful. The day just got better
Miranda finished the notation she was in the midst of before closing the
book, removing her glasses and looking in Andy's direction. Blue eyes
looked wistfully icy. "Do we have an appointment?"
Yikes. Andy bit back a less than kind retort. Anger levels were
checked on the remote chance they could avoid a fight. To a degree,
things had been easier or at least calmer when she'd been hesitant to fight
with the editor. That time was a distant memory. "That's a
little unfair. Pencil me in?" She tried, desperately, to
inject a lighter tone even while knowing her lover wouldn't be swayed by
Fair? Did the woman dare just utter the word fair? For a professional
building her career on words that had been a poor choice. Miranda seethed.
"Why so you can cancel? Not show up. Or, deign to grace me with your
presence without actually being there. I simply don't understand Andrea how
you can continue this week after week, month after month with so little
regard for the girls and myself."
"I..." The younger woman caught herself. Saying she'd
gotten caught up, as usual, would go over like a lead balloon. Andy
pushed off the door frame and walked a foot into the room. Upon
closer inspection, Miranda's blue eyes held that flatter, stormy gleam.
Battle stations, her mind idly called out. "I'm here
"Completely. Things got out of hand this weekend. I'm sorry for
that." Explaining that the story was 'the one' wouldn't help at
this point as evidenced by Miranda not yet bothering to read it.
"Come in. It's time we talked about what's going on." She pushed
her chair back from the behemoth desk and changed her mind. "Not
"Where?" Remaining calm and conciliatory for as long
possible became the plan of the hour.
"The sitting room." She rose from her chair and switched off the
desk lamp. The sitting room was one of her favorites in the house, it was
an intimate room, personal and to Miranda's mind the perfect setting given
that the issue was not a professional one. It was simply being used
as a cover.
Andy nodded and stepped back out of the room. Try as she might she
couldn't see anything new they could possibly say but it would be best to
let Miranda say it. "You ignored my calls."
Once in her favorite room Miranda took a seat in a wing chair facing the
gas fireplace she'd turned on. It did nothing to alleviate the chill
in the air. "I'm surprised you noticed. I was in a meeting."
"Of course I noticed. Your meeting lasted all day?"
Temper, temper, the journalist cautioned.
Miranda shrugged. "Elise neglected to charge the phone when I returned
to the office. I'll speak to her."
"Have we fallen into lies between us now Mira? That's new."
Andy's right eye twitched. A sign of her own rising anger.
The phone being off, ignored and dismissed made her nearly as angry
as the editor was. It was a first between them that she didn't care
for in the least.
"I don't appreciate your tone Andrea. If you insist on questioning my
integrity go to my office, you'll find it there, plugged in."
Miranda's chin tilted slightly upwards as her lips drew towards a purse.
"Elise, my assistant is not there for you to harass when you are
in an ill temper. If you have an issue to address with me, do it at
home, do not take it to Runway."
Knowing Miranda was right on one level had little effect on Andy's own
anger. She was tired of always being the one in the wrong, feeling
guilty and getting those damned looks. "Doing that requires you
acknowledging me. I might be wrong Miranda but don't expect me to
swallow the Priestly professional crap. If our positions had been
reversed you would have said far worse. I don't like what I said to
her but neither do I like having anyone stand there and hedge to my face be
it her or you. And you my darling can like my tone or not but this
goes beyond your cell phone into the fact that you simply didn't return my
calls. Not even to say we'll talk later and then to hang up. I
realize I have less ground to be pissed on some level but I am. Quid
"You are wrong Andrea. And when you walk into my office and proceed
like a petulant teenager you will indeed get Miranda Priestly the
professional. It was insulting, demeaning and beneath both of us. It would
never occur to me darling to do far worse at your office. But perhaps that
is the glaring difference, I respect what you do even if I'm questioning
how you do it." Miranda's hands splayed on the arms of the chair,
clenching as she sat straighter and leaned forward before continuing.
"A phone call unreturned to you is now equivalent to dozens of missed
dinners, five cancelled family outings, three missed concerts, four rain checks
on the theatre, eight Thursday mornings that you missed without mention,
the weekend that you just blew me off for vague reasons at best, all in the
last four or five months. How silly of me, you are absolutely entitled to
your quid pro quo for having to endure a few hours without me returning
your call. The girls hardly see you. Why do we never have coffee any more
Andy simultaneously flinched and snorted. The editor never failed to
keep track. The list of events missed grew despite all the best
intentions in the world. But returning the favor and listing those
things Miranda had had no choice but to miss over the years tended to have
the same effect as throwing gasoline on a fire. The journalist had
yet to figure out exactly why that was. "Equals, no. That
doesn't however mean I don't have a right to be peeved about it just as you
would be. We often don't have it because I'm sleeping or am running
late getting home. But never? We still have it sometimes.
Petulant thing. True or not, I despise being called that, especially
from someone rolling in the teenage gutter with me or did you think not
returning several phone calls was the height of adulthood? Having
said that, it wouldn't just occur to you to do far worse at my office, you've
done it. Or do you think the time you walked into the Mirror after
having read my article didn't fall on the side of a little more personal
than it was professional? That was purely personal no matter the more
professional, and that's being nice, way you chose to handle it. I
picked a fight with someone clearly covering for you. You threatened
libel when you were pissed on my behalf. There is no high ground on
this score Miranda…"
Miranda waved a hand in the air as she interrupted to articulate thoughts
that were boiling. "That incident occurred more than two years ago. I
had a purpose at the Mirror that day that did not include being a brat
because my lover wouldn't return a call. You need to stop now. This is not
about a me not returning your call." She stopped and cocked her head
just a little. "Or is it? It's easier when I'm the one in the
"Oh I'll stop. I'll be at the office if you need me."
Andy turned and exited the room. Brat rung in her head,
spurring on already raging anger. The editor would have gotten less
of a bad reaction had she said fuck off.
Miranda followed her out. "It would be best if you didn't leave."
"Why's that Mira? Hmm?" Andy stopped but didn't turn
around, face gone fuchsia. "I fucked up, yeah. But I'm over
having my crimes listed like a rap sheet over and over again while I better
not dare return the favor. I'm sick of being the one who is forever
in the wrong. Once, in over three years, I've been allowed to be
right about anything. Once. I screw up. No denying that. Why
don't you make me up a list of the rules in this relationship. That
would be a big help. What's the expiration date on a similar
incident? At what point in time does a similar event by you, first,
Why is it okay for you to ignore me all day when I did call to apologize
but the one time I didn't return your phone call you barely spoke to me for
a day. Sure, it's a little thing in comparison to yours. I have
no doubt that's the score today. It meant a hell of a lot to me
though so if you could write down when that too is appropriate to discuss
I'd appreciate it. After all, petulant children need
Miranda walked up behind Andy and slipped her arms around her waist.
Anger got you but so far and it was so easy to follow its tail and
spiral until everything disappeared. She'd taken that journey before
to bitter consequences. "I should have returned your call. I
apologize for not doing so. They aren't crimes Andrea, they are
choices. Choices that scare me."
Andy stood rigid in the embrace. The conversation had slid into the
area of her biggest concern. Equality; not being seen a child.
"They're one in the same between us Miranda. I'm not sure
when they became crimes but they have. I know they scare you. I
keep attempting to find that perfect balance where it will all fall into
place. There must be one. It eludes me." The issue of the phone
call, apology or not, continued to dog her mind despite her attempt to
leave it alone.
Miranda made no attempt to turn Andy but neither did she release her hold.
"I made changes when we decided to make this a relationship. I wanted
you and it then. I still do, more than before. We've both
missed, changed and cancelled plans. It used to be the exception not
the rule. Now though it seems with you it is the rule more often than
not. Old news, we've had this conversation too many times in the past six
months. If you insist on shutting me out and doing everything your way, you
are your own woman, that is your choice.
But ultimately if things keep going as they have been the cost will be us.
I understand your need to succeed. What I don't
understand is your insistence on trying to do it on three fronts. You are
stressed, tired, overworked and I find it hard to fathom that your work
isn't suffering as well. If not yet, it will until you choose more
decisively where to put your time, energy and passion."
"How do you I choose?" The journalist slowly leaned back.
An inaudible, weary sigh fluttered her hair. More than anything else
their arguments were a direct result of the differences in age and
experience. Andy found herself constantly scrambling, desperately
trying not to be treated like a child while making decisions for herself
and ultimately failing because of it. Their levels of experience and
wisdom in life were not equal. They never would be. That she'd
come to accept even as she struggled to try her best to bridge the gap.
Five years would make a difference or so everyone said. Thirty
had become an age not to be feared but wished for. But wishing didn't
mean she could comprehend why she'd see things so differently at thirty
than she had at twenty-five.
For a moment Miranda was quiet as she rested her cheek against Andy's hair.
The scent of which was subtly different; she'd changed shampoos.
"You could do the usual, make the lists, pros and cons. Then burn
them. This is your life and there is no forecasting where your life will go
whatever you choose. Your instincts sweetheart have served you well. Go with
what your gut and your heart tell you. It comes down to, what one
can’t you live without. You should be proud of what you've accomplished.
You've achieved very impressive success with Unseen Eye, that column
is quintessentially you and the success for that is yours.
The Times respect your work and have certainly rewarded you with much more
intriguing and wider sweeping articles, and I know I've been seeing your
freelance articles showcasing in increasingly prominent publications. You
are a journalist Andrea. Stand back, review the facts. Choices
don't have to be a life sentence, but don't be less than you can be by
spreading your talent in too many directions."
Andy absorbed it all. Anger drained away to leave a stark exhaustion
behind that hadn't been visible in their previous fights. The battles
had taken their toll. Head tilting back, she rested it on the
editor's shoulder and stared at the ceiling. "It could well be.
Have you not told me in the past that writers like fashion trends are
often forgotten the moment the spotlight fades? Making a choice could
be very permanent. I've made twenty-seven pro/con lists Mira.
They come out the same every time. I've done two years at the
Times. If I get the website going, my agent says the London Times are
interested in picking up the column. The week’s worth. But no
The article I just did? My editor called this afternoon muttering
about me possibly getting my wish but as the Brit's say, it's early days
yet. Do I give that up while perhaps attaining it? Do I just
freelance? Give up Unseen? The website? And what of you
darling? Unseen is awfully damned close to your world. No it is in
your world but I've tried to be very careful not to step over the line. If
I get more involved with it, it's just a matter of time before we clash
over something. Will you still want me doing it then?
Professionally, I've come to have two loves in my life. They're
wonderful and they suck for being wonderful. Not a day passes though
that I don't worry that someone is going to spill the beans. NDA's
are good but are they enough? Neither of us can afford for it to be
known that I do Unseen. The impact would be huge and negative.
That too has made it on the list for months. Yet the mystique
is part of the reason it has such a buzz. I'd be a fool to believe
otherwise. Mystique then makes it a story to be got. It's
"Is the website a new development?" She only ever heard it in
passing as an undeveloped idea.
"Sort of. It's been going on a trial basis for a couple of
months. I've held off telling you because I wasn't sure it would even
take off. They've been running it for me, code wise, so far. But. Now
I have to decide whether or not I'm going to continue it under my own power.
I'll have to quit the Times. Period, end of story. I know
nothing about programming and they want me to move from tri-weekly updates,
to daily, minimum. It's all so complicated."
"It can be a profitable venture according to my broker, Irv, and a
dozen other people who are in my ear on the topic. I don't know how
to print paper but Runway still ends up on the newsstands every month. If
you want to do it you don't let the little details bog you down. You create
the big picture then hire competent people to make it happen." Miranda
paused, her breathing suspending for nearly two minutes. "I'm leaving
"Wh-a-t?" Voice lifting two octaves to elongate the word,
Andy spun around. Impossible. The ears were clogged. Time
to make a doctor's appointment.
"The details, you decide what you want and then you hire the right
people to make it happen. The cogs while you provide the articles."
"Mira." Andy growled, exasperated. The editor could
multitask better than anyone until she decided not to. "Back to
the Runway leaving thing."
Speaking it out loud made it real. But it hadn't been as jolting as she
expected. "My contract is up for renegotiation's in August. It's
really just paper work as I have a guarantee for at least six more years,
in an ironclad agreement with Irv. Once I get back from Paris and the
spring collection issue is set, I will tender my resignation and then take
my accumulated months of vacation. It's something I have considered for
some time. Leave Runway before it leaves me, if you will."
Although stunned to her core, Andy threw her hands up then mussed the
editor's hair for the sole reason that doing so could drive Miranda crazy
at times. Good. She didn't have to be alone on the batshit
train. "Three. Years. Miranda. Your lips purse
when I shut you out but you still keep the big decisions in your head until
you make them. That darling, is going to cost you a get out of jail
free card this time. Are you sure? That's...going to rock the
empire so to speak."
Miranda grimaced and tried to right her hair. "It's my empire to
rock." Blue eyes sparked with signature arrogance. "I started
numbering the days in Milan. Now the number is no longer infinite.
What is this 'get out of jail free' card?"
"What are you going to do? The fashion house?" They'd
discussed it once before. Miranda had seemed to respond in the way of
a distant interest turned dream for the next life.
"Your suggestion was a viable one. And, it excites me. I have
collected an impressive harem of young up and coming designers. I
have checked anonymously on properties and now that you know I would like
you to visit each with me. I haven't signed the dotted line yet." It
kept getting put off, a dozen times as she second guessed herself, but in
the end, she wanted it, all. The power, influence and the money while she
ruled the fashion industry at her whim not Elias-Clarke's. "Obviously
aside from the ground work I cannot make any real move until my ties with
Elias-Clarke are severed."
"Well," Andy drew out the word, mind racing. Arm slipping
around the editor's waist, she forced the woman to walk with her back to
her own recently vacated office. There was no denying the pride she
felt whenever Miranda's interest was sparked by someone she had sent her
way. Silence lingered until she'd decided what she would and would
not be comfortable with. "The one thing you'd lose over time by
leaving Runway is the industry wide power. That my darling you're a
wee bit addicted to. You won't be able to get that from your own
fashion house. Unseen, though... If you worked with me, note I
did not say I'd work for you, then you'd maintain that sector."
"Yes, I've considered that, the loss of influence. I've yet to work
that part out but... Wait. You are suggesting rivaling Unseen with
Runway?" Miranda bit her lip. She would not laugh at her lover's
obvious good intentions though she dearly wanted to check the woman's blood
alcohol level. "Work with you? My head is spinning."
Literally, what else did one say to such a suggestion. Love went but so
The journalist's chin lifted arrogantly yet no offense was taken.
Miranda, in her own way, left her to Unseen without meddling. It was
her way of not stepping on toes. Andy had wondered, more than once,
if Miranda would have bothered to read Unseen for another few years yet if
not for her. She doubted it. The fast expanding column would be
considered an upstart to the editor. Then there was the element that
Andy had suspected for years. Miranda, for all the praise she gave
her in private, continued to see Unseen as an endearing extension of her
lover rather than the influential piece it had become.
"Yes." Andy quickly plowed forward lest Miranda begin
outright laughing. "Truthfully, with the validity you could lend
it, it would top Runway within two years. Max. That's what I've
been doing today, going over the numbers. I know it's impossible for
you to believe Mira, but yes, it could beat the magazine in the amount of
people reading it because it has a few things Runway can't ever compete
with. The website would be free. Currently, even non paper
buying readers can read it online at the paper. And they do.
The magazine comes out once a month.
Unseen will go to multiple updates per day if I'm willing. That will
allow for a greater influence over the fashion world and general public
than Runway could ever compete with. Haven't you noticed that in the
last six months, the trends I write about, the mockups discussed, the newer
designers given a nod to have become instant hits that you then later
feature in the magazine? I can show you the numbers if you're
interested." If the woman didn't instantly lop her head off
first for daring to suggest her little column could compete with the
powerhouse that was Miranda’s baby.
"Will it also be able to close down Wal-Mart?" She shot off in
disbelief. But to avoid being labeled unfair she added. "Summarize the
"Not today." A small grin appeared. Confidence in
herself and what she was doing had evened out after being around Miranda
for years. "Elias-Clarke internally reports that Runway, Style
and W combined get an estimated 1.8 million visitors at their sites last
month. ComScore and Nielsen ratings, who both rate externally, say
there were approximately 420,000 and 500,000 hits per month. There is
a discrepancy in reporting that they've yet to find a remedy for.
Think of it as circulation. Unseen hit 350,000 on Nielsen last
month after just four months. Internal reports have it as 1.1 million."
"You've done some leg work on this." Miranda's neck seemed to
stretch and she leaned back while peering knowingly at Andy.
"This does not sound like a casual proposal."
Casual no but neither had she given it thought for months like her lover
would have. "I've not, unfortunately. I got the numbers on
Friday and just now had time to look. Before you say it, yes I know,
keeping abreast is part of doing anything." There just hadn't
been time. "Estimates say online advertising will top 20 billion
dollars this year. By not doing photo shoots and using unknown but
talented photographers, requesting the designers send me their own photos,
and the like... Unseen is...making money already. More than I...
I can afford, at the moment, to hire a few people to work on the coding
end then a fair number of people for writing, running down information,
etcetera. It's a little overwhelming and before you say it, again,
yes I should have known all this before."
"Andrea, as interesting as this all sounds it's all moot until you come
to some sort of decision for yourself. I truly have no desire to influence
that. Unless it means that I will actually get to see you on occasion and
then I'll be tempted to wield whatever influence I might hold without
apology. Although your enthusiasm for the expansion of Unseen seems barely
Good intentions fell away leaving Andy with no choice but to turn around
and get control of laughter that threatened to burst out. Miranda was
so often hysterical without meaning to be. A facet the woman seemed
oblivious to right until you dared laugh at her. The journalist
cleared her throat then turned back around. "Mira, I love you
dearly but you are you. You are never going to be in a position where
you don't have influence either as my lover or as Miranda Priestly.
You've tried for three years but even in your silence you have
influence. Whether or not you agreed to work with me has a large
impact on my decision, like it or not. It can't not have because it
dramatically alters the road Unseen will take.
You are an instant undeniable boost that speeds up any time tables I've
come up with. You bring an instant credibility. And darling, I am
enthusiastic about it and always have been. Journalism is my first
love. Fashion and Unseen have become just as passionate a love.
That's my problem. I'm scared Miranda. In your world,
you've always known exactly what you wanted to do. The fashion house,
win, lose or draw won't hurt you. I don't have that luxury. A
bad decision here is not something I turn back from. I might not even
be able to recover from it."
"When I was in my late twenties I wasn't in command of a crystal ball
sweetheart. Yes, I had my ultimate goal but there were many paths that
could have been taken to get there. There are no redos. But you
survived leaving Runway just fine and despite my predictions, one cold day
in Paris over a double scotch, you've established a name for yourself.
I think you are wrong about my decision. Of course, it could hurt me.
Ruling fashion from my lofty pinnacle means I have a very long way to fall.
But I won’t fall. That would be unacceptable. I acknowledge risk and then I
do whatever it takes to twist it to my advantage." One hand
tangled in the ends of Andy's hair which she acknowledged was not the most
professional of moves given the tone of their conversation, but time with
her love had been sparse at best of late. "Have you gone mad?"
"Huh? Why would you think that?" One hand dropped
automatically to rest on Miranda's hip.
One blue eye closed while the other peered without blinking. "You are
suggesting we work together." She cleared her throat and decided there
was no sugar coating the absurd. "You don't like me at work."
"That's what would make it work. I love the work side of you despite
not always liking it. But when you get out of hand, I would be in a
position to keep the kettle from boiling over." Andy nodded as
she heard herself, quite pleased with that turn of phrase. It
certainly sounded better than saying when you get your bitch on.
"I cannot bend you over the desk at work darling, it would definitely
send the wrong message to those other people." She smirked in
deference to a favored game between them. "I do not understand why you
think that demanding someone's best needs to be handled. There will be no
boiling kettles, I ban tea."
No, Miranda never quite understood that. Andy's hand trailed up the
editor's side. "For the record, you haven't worried about
messages when we've been in your office at Runway late at night. No
boiling kettles is fine but they get to eat at their desks. Wanting
someone's best isn't so bad. The way you demand it can have the
reverse effect though. Or certain decisions you'd make. That's
where I come in handy. Going back to what you said before, I have to
tell you darling, you falling is almost laughable. People question
you on occasion but most are too terrified to dare. Giacome's line
that you hailed last month is a prime example. The entire line is
garish yet not one person had the balls to point it out or risk your wrath.
Even I let it go without comment when I shouldn't have."
Miranda froze, her eyes popped out so that only the finest ring of blue
outlined her pupils. Her finger tapped her lips in absolute disbelief.
"His line was inspired, An-drea-aa. You obviously have eye strain from
all that newsprint."
"I'm sorry but no Mira, I'm afraid not. The girls could have
drawn up a better line. They have. What you were probably drawn
to were the hints of Alexander McQueen under all the god awful. I've
stared and stared at the designs. What I can't quite figure is if he
swiped some of those designs straight from McQueen then turned them
into...those abominations. I had an article written about it then
went with Shantal's piece instead." Although Andy didn't back
down she did close her eyes part of the way. This was another first
in their relationship. If she could have taken it back she would
An aggrieved sigh vibrated off the editor's pursed lips. "That's your
opinion and it's skewed for reasons unknown to me. I feel sad for you that
you were unable to look at his line without bias and see the vibrancy.
His bold use of color would come off as garish if he didn't have the
balance. His collection is thought provoking. Why must you bait me?"
"I'm not trying to bait you." Good lord. Criticism
and Miranda did not go together at all. Yet if she backed down the
editor would later hold it against her. "Don't lose your head
here but I have seen those colors, that vibrancy before. The drag
queens prostituting themselves on Queens Plaza could give him a run for his
money except they usually have style. You've taught me well darling,
so well that I'll go on record and say when you see his designs on paper
his will be one book you don't wear a single item from."
Miranda's back arched and she seemed to gain an extra two inches in height.
"Someone has to dress the Queens darling." Although, that might
explain Nigel's absolute affinity for the collection.
"I agree one hundred percent. But my personal and professional
opinion, which admittedly is vastly lower than yours, is that the line is
raffish." Pointing out the Miranda had often spent an inordinate
amount of time looking over her articles and highlighting aspects she might
have missed would have been overdone no matter how true.
"Is there a reason you are choosing now to highlight this? Are there
not enough contentious issues between us at the moment?" Miranda's
voice grew softer and softer.
"I was trying to illustrate that no matter how far you might fall you
are still Miranda Priestly. You can say something. No one else
may agree but then they'll go look at their own tastes, never daring to
question what or why. Alive or dead you've made your mark and you
will always be a Goddess in fashion. I'm not at that point. You
might have farther to fall but you have a resume of impeccable decisions
that will catch you each and every time." As non confrontational
as possible, Andy tried to explain the differences in their positions and
the weight of those on decisions.
"Let's hope that what you are suggesting proves out. I’ve had
failures Andrea, huge ones. When my personal life was in shambles it
was easy to pour more energy into the area where my success was undeniable.
That was folly, as I repeated the same mistake with the same
consequence twice more."
Just when the conversation seemed safe Miranda struck low and hard.
"I screw up Mira but I'm not going anywhere. Neither are
you in fashion. Your taste is impeccable. You will demand
nothing less than perfection of those you hire for your house."
"My point was Andrea, you don't have the market cornered on missteps
or 'screw ups'. I have accumulated my fair share." Miranda edged Andy
closer to her. "You don't have decide today, or even tomorrow. I
just won't continue on the way things are. I been down that road and I'm
not going there again. Not by my choice."
However well intended the editor was, Andy still unconsciously lifted her
hand to her cheek as if she'd been slapped. Voice raspy, she
attempted clarification in the midst of clutching panic. "What
are you saying?"
"I love you. I know what my priorities are and I will do what I
can to try and keep them in balanced. But like in the beginning Andrea,
when you were doing all the pursuing, the relationship would not have
survived unless I committed to it as well. I miss you. I need an end point.
Whether it be three months, six months, a year, two, just tell me how much
time you need before you stop stretching yourself impossibly thin in so
many directions that all lead away from us. "
"Are you giving me an ultimatum? An either or? Because it
sounds a lot like it." No it was one. The one minor difference
was that it had a time line on it.
Miranda ran her fingers through her dry but limp hair; how she wished to
just go slide beneath the bubbles of an excruciatingly hot bath.
"I don't understand how you can't see it. Is it an
ultimatum...if that's how you want to take it then yes. Would you
like me to give you the rundown of how it goes if something doesn't change?
It quickly becomes easier to work more just to avoid this
conversation... and then who wants to do dinners because they become
awkward, those long accusing looks and unbearable silences that are only
broken by the stilted small talk.
It spirals until you are certain you are a stranger, or an unwanted guest
in your own home. There is nothing to talk about and it's just better
for everyone if you stay away. And then one day, you tell yourself it's out
of the blue, someone finally decides it's time to call it and again you end
up on Page Six, but worse than that you come home to half empty closets,
still photographs, a house that is once again too big and you ask yourself
how did that happen? I'm not willing to let us die quite like that
without trying to thwart it." God, she berated herself for harping on
Moments filtered in. Nate, Paris, working at Runway, the conversation
in the car in Paris, the hotel room. They marched like soldiers in
her memory. Andy turned away and walked across the room, enabling her
tears to remain unseen. She didn't want to walk that road, had
promised herself she wouldn't, not again. But she was tired of
feeling so utterly beaten by Miranda and her experiences when problems
arose. "It's cold in the shadows of ghosts Mira. I'm not
saying you're not right. Or that your experiences aren't valid.
They have merit. I'm aware of when I'm screwing up whether I
can find the nice tweaks to fix it or not. I'm just as aware of how
every time I fail I'm compared to their failures and the failures of the
past. So I trudge on to the point that sometimes I feel like fucking
up just so you can go ahead and say I told you so or give me that look.
My inexperience drives you crazy as often as it endears you. I then
try a little harder. I work a little more under the constant
erroneous thought that if I just am out there then I can find that balance
at home between the inexperience of youth and the experience of life.
And the more you've pushed the more it makes me dig my heels in.
Because there must be a way to make it all fit. I can't. I'm
aware of that despite what you may think. Then we fight. Bam,
two steps back, try again. There must be a way. Bratty,
petulant, childish. I don't even care what you call it.
Stubborn though, oh yes. I'll quit the Times. If that's
not enough then I don't know what else to do." But Miranda
would. She always did.
"Andrea, what do you want? If you could have it all, what would that be
for you?" The words were spoken without her usual ease, each yanked
out against their will. The best laid plans often had a way of
tilting the world in a way you didn't expect. Andrea's wakeup call was
ending up being her own.
"You. The girls. Beyond that I don't know. I feel
off kilter. Where is the line between encouraging me to go after it
all and knowing when it's too much? How do you know that line?”
Experience. Period. And they were right back to point
Andy looked exhausted; Miranda reached out and took one of her hands and
pulled her to a nearby sofa where they took a seat. Miranda was happy to
have something solid under her because Andy's reply had been completely
unexpected. "Me and the girls? That's what you want?" Damn that
stutter was inconvenient.
"I miss dinners and plays Mira but why do you think it is that I'll
also stay up for 36 hours straight. Why do you think I choose not to
go to bed and instead spend time with you or them." Drawing her
knees up, Andy wrapped her arms around them then rested her cheek on top.
Staring at the wall opposite her lover was a the best cover for tears
that she could manage.
The tears did not fall unnoticed and Miranda felt like an ogre even as
spikes of anger hit her over Andy's revelation of thirty six hour stints
without sleep. "Andrea...you've neglected to mention the staying up
for thirty six hours straight. No wonder you seem run ragged, you are.
Are you doing it because you love it? Or are you trying to prove
something, to yourself, to me, to everyone?" Miranda leaned
forward so her head was close to Andy's. "I forget sometimes,
your age. I know you probably don't believe that, but it's true.
Sweetheart, your 'fuck ups' really...I may have the tendency to blow the
odd one out of proportion in the heat of the moment... you screw up far
less than anyone who came before."
"Proving something. Not failing again by quitting when it gets
tough. Like I did with you." The photos that had been posted of
Miranda once they were outted to the press remained forefront in the
memory. A repeat elsewhere felt like an atrocity just as her age did.
The editor rarely seemed to forget. "The need for sleep is
why I've been missing more of our coffee time. A trade off that let
me see you all the night before. Lately, it doesn't feel like I screw
up less or that you ever forget my age. Thing is, you're not blowing
up out of proportion. I know that. Hard not to when the twins begin
double and triple checking whether or not I'm really going to be around for
a dinner or movie."
Miranda tucked her legs under her and draped an arm over the back of the
sofa. "My opinion is you are being too hard on yourself and setting
impossible expectations. That's not a screw up, it just happens to people
like us." One hand reached down and unfurled one of the journalist's.
Had she unwittingly set Andrea up for failure? A small smile appeared.
"You didn't quit with me when it got tough. Quitting a job is
Professionally you did not let me down, you rose to the challenge even
though it was outside your forte and comfort zone. You followed your
gut and it got where you are today and unless something has changed you
love what you do...so much in fact that you've created several
opportunities that are now making it very difficult for you to decide which
turn to take next. I'm very proud of you. But I want more for you...
You could do with a little basking in your accomplishments. I'm glad you
quit. It was the right thing to do."
There were certain things Miranda Priestly did not excel at aside from
employee relations and remembering where it was that did her dry cleaning.
She also tended to overlook all the subtle signs from her lover; many
had been missed. Alleviating insecurity 101, she'd received an obnoxiously
big red capital F. "You are right. The past few months I've been
much more critical and demanding. If it seems I've been more
preoccupied with your age, I have been just…" She waved a hand in the
air before rubbing the spot between her eyes. "with age and time
passing in general. I've been reevaluating."
"Future note. Reevaluating used in the context of conversations
like this one, scare me. It brings to mind 'we have to talk'."
While maintaining the hold on her legs, Andy leaned into her lover.
Inexplicable solitude fluttered like a holey blanket around her
shoulders. They had stopped talking about certain things in no small
part because they became topics to be avoided at all costs. Doing
well at work fell into the to be avoided category because it inevitably led
to the areas that were falling behind. "You're appalled that I
lost my cool with Elise. I am too. However...she's managed to
become a friend. She's protective of you as friends are. That's
good, honestly. But not so good always when you're me. I knew
damn well you were angry over the weekend. Meeting or no you usually
answer your cell.
When you didn't I then went to the office and you might not be able to
understand this but when you're already vividly aware of how you've failed,
again. When you're aware of the impending fight... She's very
professional. Yet underneath the veneer is another judgment.
Human. Understandable when I'm calm. I'd expect nothing
less. In the moment the story is different. She was a convenient
outlet. More than that I simply wasn't in the mood to see another
person give me that damned look, however hidden. Especially not when
I knew, unequivocally, that your continued absence was purposeful and that
she would cover it until the earth ran out of oxygen. Ugly, oh yes
but I dare most people to try and rise above it. Good luck."
"Oh, I see." And she was starting to understand the ripple effect
and how it had unfolded. "It was not my intention to scare you. My
presentation skills could use a little refining. I've been doing what
I meant to suggest you do. I didn't just wake up this morning and
decide to leave Runway. But when you suggested nearly a year ago the
fashion house I've mulled it over daily since. And by extension I stepped
back and took stock to formulate a new plan for my life. Figure out what is
important, what can be sacrificed, what can't be. I think of it as a how do
I want my life to look next year, and the year after and the year after
that. Runway isn't the only thing I obsess over darling."
Outwardly the hand that circled Andy's stomach seemed to do so casually,
loosely. Inside, Miranda wondered if before the night was over they'd have
to visit the ER to have it surgically removed.
The journalist leaned in a little more, skin icy. Miranda's quirk of
keeping everything in her head until it was time to move had been accepted
as much as anyone ever could. "I have done that more than it
appears on the surface. I do love what I do, the Times included. One
of the many reasons I've stayed is because I've been hedging my bets on the
fear that while I'd sold a freelance piece or two in the beginning that
didn't mean I would continue to do so. I can't put Unseen on my
resume as it stands right now. Take that out and what is there is
remarkably short. The Times has been a safety net."
"It's crucial that you love what you do. That is why you will succeed
beyond expectations that you will set for yourself because that kind of
love, passion doesn't just go away. If you are not ready to leave the
safety of the Times yet, I understand. Do not quit in haste to appease me.
Please." The splayed hand pressed into Andy's abdomen pulling
her in tighter. "While you take whatever time you need, will you at
least let me do for you what you did for me?"
"What's that? I think I'm as ready as I ever will be. The
article I turned in today may not win the award but it should cement what
I've done up until now. I could have sold it elsewhere for a lot more
according to Clive not that it really matters. Being a kept woman
erases the need to worry over what's in my bank account." Andy
melted against the editor. Ragged nerves began to smooth out despite
the lingering fear that they were going to begin fighting again.
"Find a way to make things easier. Free up your time so you can at
least reasonably choose if you'd like to spend it sleeping, having coffee
or destroying the kitchen." Miranda tweaked her side with the last
comment. "If you are ready, then do it. If you need my help it's yours.
If you don't want it...I'll give it anyway just more quietly."
The editor was such a weird person at times. "You banned me from
the kitchen long ago, remember? Except for your occasional lapses
which I've yet to figure out. Help - seriously consider Unseen but
not as my lover. I'll give you the books, records, and other
information you need. You might be surprised. If you're not
interested that's fine. If you are then I was quite serious. I
honestly believe I could offer you that piece that the fashion house
"All right." Miranda nodded her assent. She would look it all
over and give it a serious evaluation. "I've decided I would like to
take cooking lessons and have another child. How do you feel about
Andy nodded amicably. Cooking lessons were alright although she
couldn't see Miranda cooking. A meal would take her days to prepare.
Thirty minutes for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich hadn't changed.
Add actual cooking in and... "You what? Another child?"
The rest finally penetrated, whipping the journalist's head around.
Miranda could not judge if Andrea's reaction was more parts stunned or
horror. "I know the girls can be intolerable by times but overall with
them I have no regrets. And I realized I cannot put off doing it again
indefinitely. It was always my plan to have more children it just never
quite seemed the right time."
"Children. More. With me?" The girls weren't bad at
all nor was the idea per se. The out of left field thing, however,
left her scrambling to catch up. This was one of those times she could half
kill Miranda for keeping ideas in her head until she was ready to move
For just a split second Miranda had the good grace to look halfway
sheepish. "Mmm. With you."
"Me. Right." Of course. That made perfect sense.
Stunned to the point her brain slipped into the off position, Andy's
head cocked. "Mira, you do realize I have neither a cock nor
sperm right? I can't just go bam, have a baby honey. No
problem. We'll try tonight."
The editor's eyes popped out as uncontrollable laughter bent her in two.
"Really? You can't do the deed? How disappointing."
How...rude. Andy scowled and rubbed her hand over her face.
Okay that hadn't been the most intelligent thing to say.
"Miranda Priestly we have got to work on you keeping everything
in your head. I won't be responsible for my actions one day if we
That was not likely to ever change. She never presented ideas that were not
carefully formulated. "You've not yet mentioned whether or not
you'd be amendable to the idea."
"I...I haven't seriously thought about it. When I was younger I
always assumed there would be kids. How or when though, eh? I
miss enough to piss you off as it is. Add a baby to the mix and
you'll be permanently angry with me. Hell I'm not even sure I'd be a
good parent." The twins had become easy but she wasn't sure if
that was because she did anything right rather than them easing up.
Miranda let her neck relax and roll back into the cushion. "You are
good with the girls and if and when you decide you want to be a parent
you'll find your way. I'm still finding mine. I do believe I should be
awarded points for not keeping everything tucked away in my head, it's not
as if I'm pregnant and announcing it."
"That's only because you've not found the perfect candidate to do the
deed. Had you, yes, you would be." The journalist blinked then
backed herself up. She couldn’t particularly see Miranda pregnant
though she had been. But that was then. Now it would be
extremely dangerous for her to carry. Did she know that? Andy
didn't want to have to be the one to tell her. Reminding the editor
of her age rarely went over well. Best to test the waters and then
think about whether or not she was actually thinking about having more
children. "I can't quite imagine you carrying again."
Two perfectly shaped brows popped up towards Miranda's hairline. "I'm
in perfect health and there are many women who don't even start having
children until they are my age."
Oh crap. No. Absolutely not. She'd willingly adopt a
dozen first and quit every job to take care of them. The journalist tried
to steer away from age factors by being honest. "There are but I
can't do that with you. I'm not saying I can't, won't, have children
with you. What I am saying is I'd spend every minute of the pregnancy
worried about you and them. I can't lose you."
"What? Why would you lose me? Women in their forties have children
"They do." Early, early forties if they were smart and even
then they were stupid. But Miranda was no longer in her early
forties. "I know the risks darling. They would be much higher to
you and a baby. If complications arose I could lose you.
Caroline and Cassidy would never forgive me."
"Calm down sweetheart. What if in a few weeks or months you go with me
to my doctor. She assures me while the risk would be higher than it was
with the twins, it is unlikely I'd have any issue with a single
birth." Okay so they'd had that conversation 4 years ago give or
take but nothing had really changed.
Miranda had lost her mind. Off the deep end and around the bin.
"I'd remind you that you had the twins naturally. No
fertility drugs. Read: you have the twin gene. Could you
conceive of choosing between two? Terminating one to preserve your
health and the baby's?"
"I could indeed. But that for now is just one possibility and I'm not
going to spend my time fretting over something that might not even
happen." Besides, she'd delivered two perfectly healthy twins before.
"I could carry or we could hire a surrogate." Anything but
Miranda carrying. The mere idea caused gruesome possibilities to take
on a life of their own.
Miranda smiled. "You are making it sound like a done deal. I don't
want a surrogate. You could have our child, it's not something we
have to decide to today, but it's not a decision I'd want you to make based
on your fear that something might happen to me." A chaste, soft
kiss was pressed to Andy's lips. "I told you about my desire to have
another child, because you needed to know and so you'd have a better idea
of what I meant when I spoke of reevaluating."
Smile a little too wobbly to be normal, Andy leaned back into the couch and
pressed her eyes shut. Relief tasted like a sweet treat. Had
she not wanted children she still would have agreed to have one just to
prevent Miranda from getting pregnant on her own. The journalist
turned and lay back, settling against her lover's chest. Saying it
wasn't something that had to be decided today was all well and good but
Miranda hadn't changed her spots either. Their lives felt chaotic to
Andy. Yet tomorrow or the day after the editor would ask if she was
ready. Extended time wasn't in Miranda's vocabulary once her mind set
to anything. As far as Andy could tell that meant she had a very
brief time to get her act together with the job situation or one day she'd
glance up and find she'd missed the opportunity to straighten it all out of
her own accord.
"You're sweet but you also exaggerate my darling. Now that
you've told me I have two months, tops, before you give me that 'well?'
look. I'll need at least a month and a half. Two week’s notice
at the Times and then I'll have to turn my attention to getting Unseen
"I'm sweet? Since when?" Two months was fine though she'd be
seeing her doctor within three days in case Andy decided having their child
was not for her. "You can take longer than that. It's a monumental
decision. You'll need at least three or four months."
Mmmhmm. She might need that long but leaving it that long was another
story. In three months Miranda would have already talked to Cara
about being a fulltime nanny again. "Sweet since every other
week after you've had a massage. Just give me a couple of weeks to get
my head around it. I'm not against it and I did want children one day
I just didn't see the day coming quite....now."
"What do you need from me? To make this, us work? That is what I
"Two weeks free of thinking about putting me in the bad partner
timeout would help a lot. I'll give my notice tomorrow but the next
two weeks are going to be absolute hell. I have to decide for certain
about Unseen by oh I don't know, tomorrow? Don't give me that look.
I had to put off looking everything over because there hasn't been
time. Then things should settle but I'll be honest, getting
everything going at first will be tough. It's a big change to go from
three times a week to daily. I wouldn't mind your input there either,
regardless of what you decide. I have request upon request in that
book I showed you to make the site more expansive. Great on paper.
Figuring out the actual areas is a lot harder. However, I can
do a fair amount of it from home.
At some point I'm going to have to decide if I want to suck it up and get
office space to make it easier to keep up with everyone. Last but not
least I'm afraid I'm going to do the unthinkable and rape a few offices to
get the people I need. Girl scout promise that I won't touch Runway.
After that I'll do the articles I want. If you know a good
agent that would help. I don't want to continue using the same one
for that, that I use for Unseen. Since the Times takes up the bulk of
my time, no pun intended, that will open my schedule up again so I'm not missing
as much or anything except in emergencies. You, the girls, are my
priority Miranda however badly I have shown it lately."
"Next January pillage Runway all you like." Perfectly painted
lips curved in a way that made Miranda look like some of her employees were
right - the Devil in Pradas.
Oh boy. She knew that gleam. Irv had pushed her too far once
too often. "I'll keep that in mind. I think, after you
leave, it would be a good idea if we revealed my identity. Beat
people to the punch so to speak but that is more your area of expertise
"I agree about the unveiling." Despite her plans and their future
the idea of leaving Runway, the embodiment of Miranda Priestly for two
decades woke her at nights and would for years to come. "Hungry?"
"Are we okay?" The answer was far more important than food.
"I feel like we are. How do you feel?"
"Better as long as we're okay. Fighting with you is more
exhausting than working all the time." Andy tilted her head
against her lover's cheek. Breathing felt easier.
The dark cutting fear that sometimes reared its head had crawled back into
its lair decorated with memories of past failures. "Only because you
are good at it. You need to eat and sleep. We can talk more about
everything when you are not on the verge of exhaustive collapse."
"Oh really? Then why do I always lose?" After a long,
tight hug, Andy reluctantly extracted herself then held her hand out.
Who could sleep when baby bombs were dropping?
Eighteen months later
"Just do it. I don't care what she says," Andy bit
out then slammed the phone down. Regret immediately flashed across
her face as she glanced at the three month old baby in Jace's arms. A
tiny arm waved in displeasure. Sighing, the journalist ran her hand
through her own hair. Dark blond hair fell to her shoulders in a
purposefully messy line alongside the natural deep brown shades. Tiny
worry lines appeared around her eyes and mouth. Concealer covered the
dark circles under Andy's eyes. One hand squeezed Jace's shoulder
then traced the baby's cheek.
Outside the glass doors the office was alive with activity. The
constant buzz was a source of displeasure rather than happiness. All
eyes were on her door. Breathless anticipation seemed the rule of the day.
Andy despised them all for it, her avid hate of being watched had
grown. "Now I remember why I've been working in the middle of
the night instead of the day. Sorry, they had a bad night.
Katherine refused to sleep and Miranda couldn't sleep. How's
Raegan? She's not threatening to divorce you because of me is she?
Tell her I promise to make it up to her as soon as I can."
"Rae's very understanding. Especially when I keep leaving her
gifts." Jace's easy grin appeared despite the tension. His finger
twirled in the long tufts of baby hair covering the top of Katherine's
round little head. "The Grand Lady has started calling my cell."
It was hard for him not to take the calls from Miranda, he liked her but he
liked wearing his handsome head on his shoulders more.
A deep frown added to the pinched worry lines. "I know.
She doesn't want to come back to work yet but seems to think that
when she feels like it she should be able to do things at home despite all
doctors orders. Between you and me I'm not sure what to do with her.
I can't even kill her yet, not unless...until she's 100% again."
Andy pinched the bridge of her nose. There was no unless.
Miranda would recover. Period. She had to.
Dark eyes drifted to the baby already well loved and causing more guilt
than she would ever know. In the quiet moments, the ones between the
good and the bad, hate had crept in. It had been an endless cycle
where she hated the child then hated herself for feeling anything less than
motherly love. She'd yet to find a place where slack entered into the
equation. "I'm not sure I'd do it again Jace," she muttered
then dropped her head into her hands and exhaled. Self loathing roared to
life again. The quiet statement remained true. Two years ago when
Miranda had first told her she wanted another child fear after fear had
crept up. The editor did an admirable job of trying to soothe them.
Miranda had tried to ease her fears when they'd found out Andy couldn't
carry a child to term then did everything in her power to assure her all
would be well when she, at almost fifty years of age, did. They'd
argued to the point of nearly fracturing their relationship. The
editor, over time, had won the argument against both Andy and her doctor's
concerns. She'd even managed to carry Katherine to term despite her
age and being on bed rest the last two months. Andy's fears had
remained and amplified when gestational diabetes had appeared. Valid
fears that came to life in a horrific crashing of nightmare events that
brought Katherine screaming into the world seconds before her mother had
been rushed to ICU the simultaneous victim of almost bleeding to death and
Jace gave the little doll in his arms a kiss on her chubby little cheek.
"I get it Ace. No way in hell I'd let Rae take that chance twice.
How's her latest therapist hanging in?" The physical therapist
hired to help Miranda regain full usage of her right leg had not fared
well. At least three had received generous severance packages after
less than a week on the job.
"I give her another five days because I doubled her salary this
morning. Another is already lined up just in case she doesn’t make it
that long. Her right arm continues to bother her and she won't admit
it which is a problem. I talked to the doctor about it this morning.
The idiot said they couldn't help her with it until she was ready to
deal. And I swear to you Jace, if I'd agree to get up and sneak her
in here at 4am so no one would see her walking she would do it. She
practically demanded it the other day. I understand she's restless
but that's just too damned bad." An ache to hold Katherine
thrummed to life only to be set aside.
Mounds of paperwork needed to be gone through. The decision over the
Priestly line had to be made once and for all. Cara had picked a hell
of a time to need to day off not that the journalist could blame her for
it. Between the harried physical therapists, Miranda's increasing
demands and the baby, the nanny who had been through the twins terrible
twos was ready to pull her hair out. Andy glanced at the clock and
scrawled a quick reminder note to pick up Caroline and Cassidy from school.
They were taking things as well as could be expected but any
deviation in their routine made them as justifiably hard to live with as
their mother. As Andy had predicted, they blamed her for Miranda's
condition. "How are you, really? I can't thank you enough
for working on Unseen during the day. I know everyone has been giving
you a hard time."
"They just get offended by the Keds, I don't take it personal."
When Katherine peeped out a little cry he held her closer and bounced her a
bit. "Besides, this is nothing compared to what you are dealing with.
You know I adore your other half, but holy hell she is the poster child for
impossible patient. She will be okay though, she simply won't allow
anything but a complete recovery."
A tight lipped smile appeared as Andy reached over and ran a soothing hand
over the baby's back. Nearly losing Miranda, watching her flat line,
staying by her bed for two days while a coma claimed her, the twins panic
and Katherine's needs had brought an instant change to her priorities.
Work on Unseen was to be done in the middle of the night alone
leaving the days for Miranda and the girls. Daytime appearances had
been sporadic and carefully constructed from her outfit to the time she
arrived. Andy, although exhausted, wouldn't have been able to stop if
God decreed it. "You could fess up to who it is that dresses
you, green Keds and all. If you and Raegan have time this week, you
should stop by. She'll either be delighted at the normalcy or grumpy
from the reminder of limitations."
"Are you kidding? We'd love to see her. This picking my own
outfit thing is for the serfs. Is there anything more I can do to help? I
could just keep the Pumpkin." Jace was half serious, he was completely
entranced with Andy's daughter.
Andy grinned for the first time all morning and looked up from the forms
she was going through. Everything that needed an executive signature,
for both businesses, Unseen and the Priestly line had found its way to her
desk. If Miranda had been there to be a check to her balance, she
would have given it all over to Elise or Sarah to sign. "That
would be a no. I may have been a crap mother at times but having her
around keeps me from thinking too much. You could however tell me
what to do. Priestly has gone unattended for almost four months.
Miranda left a lot of instructions and I've no doubt Elise has been
carrying them out not to mention she knows what she's doing. But this
is the make or break season for the line. One wrong piece and the
house will be dubbed a flash in the pan."
"You mean they haven't at least videotaped it for her?" Oops,
that might have been the wrong thing to say. "If I were you I'd be
checking up on Elise. If you don't... you need to Ace."
"No. Mira's asked, believe me but you know her. I give her a
video tape and tomorrow I'll have to drug her to keep her home."
Jace was backing her decision to check on Elise. Damn.
Reassurance and wary concern making in one. "Do you know
something I don't Jace? Your tone worries me."
Jace shrugged. "If I had concerns or if I'd heard something I would
have come to you. I've been hearing some really great buzz... but this is
Miranda's baby." He looked apologetically at Katherine. "No
offense Pumpkin. You have to live with her. You might be able
to settle her down, reassure her even if you take a hard look at it all.
Elise is working like a dog too, but, she's not Miranda and that's whose
reputation is on the line."
The crushing weight of extreme pressure landed on narrow shoulders.
Andy signed a dozen more documents before she glanced up again.
"That's what concerns me. I know I can do it but knowing
and doing are two different things. It is Miranda's baby. She's
driven me half crazy over the line since its inception. That's what
freaks me out a little. When she agreed to partner me with Unseen she
brought undeniable experience to the table but don't you dare ever tell her
I told you that. Unseen is topping either of our wildest dreams in
how far it's come.
That it's beat Runway still blows my mind. But you know how we fight
over it. Since it became big time I've always had her. The
battles have always been for the benefit of the site and column.
Ying, yang. And between you and me, I'm scared shitless of
doing it without her - just this aspect. Taking over her world,
however temporarily makes me need a drink. I've been up all night
thinking about it. I'd rather walk into Chanel and tell them what to
"It was a brilliant concept Ace. Yours. And you and Miranda have
turned it into reality. You know her. Good and bad. You know what
weaknesses to look for. It's like breathing for you. You've earned this and
further more she's your partner so you own it. You know I love Elise,
but you bring out the best in the Dragon Lady." He grinned. "She
had the layout set. They are now down to the final presentation, just strut
in there and do what you would do if it were just the two of you. And then,
change what needs changing without apology. She would and she'd expect you
to." He made a face at Katherine. "I've got a good bottle of
scotch in my desk when you're done."
"I'd give you a raise if I didn't already pay you more than I pay
myself." The critical folder was set aside, finished.
Three more lay waiting. Andy ignored them, spun the mouse
trackball and gave Unseen a quick once over. New lines appeared in
her forehead. The infinite patience she normally tried to show had
worn thin. "Do me a favor later. Find David and tell him
if he doesn't change the To Watch layout by the time I get in tomorrow
morning he needn't bother showing up. I told him two weeks ago."
Jace saluted and refrained from mentioning the fact that she was channeling
the Dragon Lady. That was good, she'd need it. "Consider it done. Now
go slay the dragons." He grinned and held Katherine's hand up to make
it wave. "Bye bye Mommy. See ya later."
"Thanks Jace. You've definitely earned your best friend stripes
these last few months." Andy exhaled slowly then stood and
straightened her suit. A soft, lingering kiss fell on Katherine's
cheek. "If she starts to get cranky and I'm not back yet, put a
scarf on and let it dangle over her hand. Don't you dare say
Saying it would be redundant. He kept waiting for the day when Katherine
would turn in her Prada baby carrier and fix him with a look while sporting
a silver bob haircut. But he wouldn't utter a word, he just went to Andy's
desk in search of the scarf.
"I love you," Andy whispered to the baby before exiting her
office. She'd hardly been out a foot before people began diving into
their own offices. By the time she'd made it halfway around the U
shaped layout the sound had changed. A hushed buzz followed in her
wake. The designs would be waiting in Miranda's office as if she
still came in every day. Elise was too attentive to details to change
that habit. Both assistants looked up followed by Elise when she walked by
without a word and entered the room. The sound of the offices dimmed
when the door shut. Andy stood in place, breathless with all four
walls closing in. The subtle scent of Miranda's perfume suddenly
The office represented everything that was the fashion mogul, light,
modern, sleek lines contrasted the warm wood tones of Andy's office.
The room screamed Miranda. Andy had avoided it for two months.
Unsteady legs pressed forward. The remembered beeps of the
machines around Miranda's bed sounded in her ears. The sound of the heart
monitor flat lining came buzzed next, as horrible in memory as they had
been in reality. The journalist did the unthinkable and sat heavily
in Miranda's chair. Soft leather surrounded and tried to offer its
own comfort. The faint scent of Miranda's shampoo filled her
Drowning came to mind. This was one of their unspoken lines where
they never seriously sat in each other's chairs. The staff for Unseen
were tucked away on Andy's side and one other floor. The Priestly
house occupied the other half, nearest Miranda's office and seven
additional floors. They were partners in every way to a point.
The younger woman would have preferred to keep it that way. The
shadow of Miranda was everywhere. Being her lover did not grant a
free pass to avoid it. Andy exhaled slowly and reached for the first
oversized folder. There would be resistance. She accepted that
and opened the folder anyway. Decisions that had been put on hold
would no longer wait. Changes that needed to be made had to be made
regardless of the editor’s status.
Through the closed door she heard the din rise again as her eyes fell to
the first design. Their employees didn't fear her in the same way
they did Miranda but neither did they take her lightly. Entering her
lover's office would cause phones to ring on all floors. Had Miranda
been there they would have dove for cover and stayed there. Their
fights had become legendary and whoever lost then became someone to be
avoided for the rest of the day lest the fight spill over onto bystanders.
Miranda's forte was visual to Andy's written word but neither had a
problem disagreeing with a decision the other made. Finger tracing
her lips, Andy stared intently, taking in every line and accent until she
got lost in the job she'd just taken over.
Outside, Elise fielded panicked phone calls from all over their offices.
A call to Sarah, Andy's assistant, revealed nothing. She had no
more idea what the woman was up to than Elise did. Placing a call to
Miranda was considered and tossed out as quickly. Elise wouldn't risk
her friends health further for anything short of a critical emergency.
Had she, she would have been fired on the spot just as Andy had fired
two others that dared go against her orders to consult Miranda. An
hour later and no closer to alternatives than she had been, she stood and
entered Miranda's office to find Any engrossed in the designs, pen
scribbling furiously on a pad. "Can I get you something?"
"Hmm?" The pen didn't stop for five minutes when the
intrusion finally registered. "Oh. Yes. I want every
designer in the conference room in thirty minutes. Every piece,
finished and unfinished needs to be there with them. Anyone out of
the building needs to get back."
Two fine blond eyebrows ascended to Elise's hairline. Dread settled
in her stomach before she went to place the call. Some protocols were
absolute no matter what was going on. "Should I locate a
Camera. What? Andy glanced up and blinked slowly, brain
struggling to switch tracks. Ah, a camera for Miranda. "No
"What should I plan for then?" The brusque tone in Andy's
voice didn't go unnoticed but unlike Miranda, her partner tended to answer
A bottle of water was retrieved from the small kitchen to the left and
uncapped. Words, explanations and even the stray apology flittered in
and out of the journalist's head. This would be the first battle.
She couldn't determine if it would be the biggest. "I'll
need you to take notes of the changes that need to be made."
Elise went still. Explicit instructions had been left and carried out
to the letter. Miranda's instructions. "We're two months
away from Paris. I hate to ask but is Miranda sure she wants to make
"That's why we're going to make changes. I should have done it a
month ago. Tell everyone their bonuses will be raised as a result of
the extra hours they're going to have to put in. Make certain to also
note that the increase is for this quarter only." A hundred
people throwing a fit next quarter would cause a mass of firings.
Andy picked up one of the designs, a dress that had potential but was
missing something, and walked over to the window. The woman was
gawking. She could feel it without looking.
Elise was superb at her job. No one came close to her organizational
skills. She'd developed the uncanny knack of knowing exactly what
Miranda would want but that didn't extend to doing much more than following
her bosses orders where the clothes were concerned. Being able to say
what Miranda would like didn't carry over into making successful changes on
her own. But like any top tier employee Andy was certain the woman
wouldn't see it that way. Seconds later confirmation came.
"May I speak freely?"
No you may not, danced on her tongue. Andy tamped it down. More
would be achieved by letting the woman have her say now. "You
won't change my mind."
"And Miranda's? I've respected and agreed with your decision not
to include her in the running of either office. But this is the
Priestly house, not Unseen. I've done..."
"I know you've done everything exactly as she told you. You've
done it well and I appreciate it. So will she. That does not
mean changes don't need to be made. Ideas can start wonderfully and
flop in implementation. I see that you've been tweaking some but
you've kept in line with what she requested. That too I appreciate.
You've done all you can, I know that. But there is more to be
"This isn't your field of expertise Andy. One wrong change and
the entire line is diminished." Like and respect for one another
went but so far. A line that ended long before it came down to
unilaterally changing designs Miranda had approved.
An idiot knew that at this point. The journalist's jaw clenched, the
pressures at home and work eating exhausting her own exhaustion.
"I'm aware. This sketch. Make a color copy of it and
send it to Valentino immediately. He's staying at the Waldorf.
Room 1003. The moment it’s in his hands let me know."
"You want me to send an unseen design to the competition?"
Horrified, Elise stepped back from the sheet being handed to her.
Partner or not, Andy was going too far.
"You can do it or I'll have Sarah handle it. Your choice."
The choice made however, would not be forgotten. Ever.
The assistant read the unyielding gaze. A blind dog would have
recognized the undercurrent. So be it. "You'll have to get
Sarah to do it. I'm sorry but I can't."
Andy's nostrils flared once, the lone sign of her rising temper.
Neither woman broke eye contact as she reached over to Miranda's
phone and relayed her instructions to her own assistant. Sarah came
and went, all but running from the room and the unblinking stares.
Valentino was competition to a point. He was also a dear friend whose
opinion she trusted. Other than going to Miranda he was the only
person she trusted to validate her opinion. An agreement on the
sketch in question would tell her all she needed to know about direction. It
could be the prized piece of the Priestly collection - after a few major
changes. But first there was Elise. "Miranda trusts
"Don't mistake trust for the right to push me. Because at the
end of the day, in this office, I am her business partner. I don't owe you
or anyone else an explanation. What you think is right ranks below
what I tell you. Never, for an instant, think otherwise. You
come in every day, work your ass off and get a paycheck. Yet nothing
of yours is tied up in it. Everything I have is. Unseen's
profits back Priestly not that it's any of your business. My point is
my entire life is here. If I tell you to send a sketch over I suggest
that you do it because if you think I'd do anything to jeopardize her dream
and mine then you're a fool. Now." Andy straightened then
returned to Miranda's desk and the sketches covering every surface.
The assistant had unwittingly bolstered her confidence in the midst of
bringing on sweeping, controlled anger. "I'm going to finish
making notes. By my watch everyone has fifteen minutes. Anyone
that's not there by anything other than an act of God is fired, effectively
immediately. And Elise? That includes you. I expect your full
support in that meeting so find a cigarette, a drink or your drug of
choice. Whatever it takes to get you through. Silently.
Andy watched her blink in shock, her own face impassive until the door
closed behind her. Home sounded like the best place in the world as
opposed to facing the jackals. She might have originally sent many of them
Miranda's way but the journalist harbored no illusions. They'd fight.
Worse than Elise had. Designers, creative types as Jace dubbed them,
always did. Ten minutes later the phone rang. The conversation
went better than she could have hoped for leaving Andy sagging in her
chair. The design wasn't by Evan, their head designer. It
wasn't the one Miranda had dubbed the pinnacle of the collection. But
she would. With several changes that Valentino agreed with, it would
be the piece.
And it would be spectacular. A weary smile curled the edges of her
lips. Had there been a choice Andy wouldn't have been in the office
at all. Losing Miranda was still so close that she awoke every night
with the taste of it on her tongue. The twins were snappish, sending
baleful glares half the time. At every turn there were cliffs,
awaiting her fall. Rising, she walked out of sight of the doors and
leaned her head against the wall of glass. Three months after
Katherine's birth and she'd yet to shed a tear. There wasn't time in
spite of the well of them she kept bottled away. Breath fogging the
glass she pushed off of it and straightened her hair. That time
wasn't now. The meeting waited. Worst case scenario: she bombed
Miranda's baby all to hell and took both businesses down in one fell swoop.
Miranda's voice echoed in her head: Never let them see anything but
Andy nodded to herself and checked her appearance in the small, private
bathroom. No, there was no pressure. If she failed Miranda could just
consider them even after having almost died - a fact the journalist had yet
to forgive. She grinned at her appearance and after a moment it
appeared real. Better. With a private nod to herself, she turned,
gathered the sketches, exited the office and headed to the conference room.
It was standing room only by the time she entered. That
wouldn't do. Too many were taller. A quick word and people scrambled
out to bring in chairs. The racks caught her attention.
Curious, wary and hostile looks were ignored.
"Is there something in particular you're looking for?"
Back to them, Andy let her eyes narrow. Evan. He had undeniable
genius that could be hard to contend with though Miranda had no problems.
She adored what he could do with the right guidance. Andy
wasn't quite as enamored. Remembering him eating gummy bears and
ramen noodles in a dirty studio apartment washed away the arrogant image of
him at the table. But not even she could have guessed him to have as
much arrogance as he showed when she turned around and found him sitting at
the head of the table. She nearly fired him on the spot.
"Your much heralded genius. I must say, I'm finding very
little of it in any of the pieces you've submitted. Now unless you've
managed a coup I'm unaware of, get out of Miranda's chair."
Evan's eyes rounded then flickered around the room. He didn't work
with Andy often but she didn't speak like...her lover. "Are you
giving a report to Miranda? I could explain what you're seeing if
you'd like. She'll understand it."
"Really? I look forward to your explanation then. Later.
At the moment I'm too busy trying to comprehend why you're still in
that chair." Distantly, she recognized that something about this
room or job had caused traces of Miranda to slip into her voice.
Several whispers went around when Evan made a point of slowly rising and
The journalist stared blandly then returned to perusing the racks.
Evan wouldn't have dared had Miranda been there. In a pure
power play she'd seen her lover pull off a thousand times she let them sit
and stew in silence. Fifteen minutes passed before she pulled out
four articles and turned around. "Paris is in two months. Miranda
will be there for that." She hoped. "But the collection is
far from ready. These pieces, for instance, belong in the garbage and
that is where they're going."
She had to pause as chatter broke out. Hushed disapproval backed the
clear, vocal protest by three different team members, Evan included.
"Those are perfect."
"No one is doing anything else like them."
Elise's face was perfectly composed, revealing nothing. Not exactly
support but it could be worse by Andy's calculation. "That's
right, they're not. And do you know why? Because these border
on grunge. I know what she asked for and someone's idea of genius has
mixed with her idea. The problem is ladies and gentlemen we're not in
the nineties anymore. What you don't know is that when we were and
this was the style, Miranda so hated it that she called every major
designer in the field, personally, and told them if they didn't come up
with something new, non-grunge, for the next spring show they would not be
in Runway again until their designs changed. She despises the look
and I do too. These are far too close to it to be shown."
Eyes flickering around the room she waited for protests. Curiosity
had turned to wary hostility across the board. They'd get nothing
done like this. "Before we go further you might as well make
your protests but before you do, let me make myself clear. Until
Miranda's return I'm taking over Priestly. You'll answer to me.
You will be available to me whenever I need you and when I tell you
something isn't going, please save your arguments. I don't want to
"You can't be serious Andy. You're fabulous at Unseen but you've
never put anything together. Now you want to do the entire line?
No offense but you're not Miranda."
Viviane, Evan's second who the journalist liked a damn sight better than
she did him, interjected. That she had beat him to the punch was
unexpected. "Believe me, I'm aware of that which is why I need
everyone's help. To a point. I will have final say and to be frank
you all have done well so far but there is not one piece worth writing
about as they stand. This is my business to. Just because I'm
not on this side every day does not mean I don't know fashion because I
"Look, we're not saying you don't but Miranda was quite clear on what
she wanted. All of our personal reputations are on the line."
Evan's head of messy black hair shook with disapproval.
"We've had one show. This could ruin the Priestly
"You're good. With time you could be great. But I promise your
reputation being harmed won't come close to what it will do to mine.
You've gotten buzz words and chatter thanks to Miranda and myself.
You have potential Evan but I have a name to be destroyed. Mine
and hers. And I have to tell you, yours means a hell of a lot less to
me than either of ours."
"So what, we're just supposed to accept whatever you say just because
of who you happen to be with?"
"Evan," Elise warned.
"Forget it Elise. This is absurd and you know it. Unseen
isn't even that good. That dress doesn't look remotely like grunge
and we all know it."
Dark eyes glittered as Andy weighed her options. There was one way to
gain instant control of the group that she could see. Explaining to
Miranda later however, that could get dicey. "If no one has any
further objections I'd like to get back to work."
"Are you kidding?" Aghast, Evan prodded Viviane.
Caught between impending change and friendship with the tempestuous
designer, Viviane glanced between them. A powder keg on one side, a
very sharp sword on the other. She should have called in sick for the
day. "Andy we're concerned, that's all. None of us can
deny that you know her best but we've all heard your fights. They're
legend in and out of the building. You don't always see eye to eye on
Unseen. Are you sure you will when everything is riding on your
"Yes though I may fudge a piece or two just to fight with her so long
as it means she's back." Strained chuckles went around the room,
relieving some of the tension. "Hilaire, this is yours is it
The young redhead blinked in surprise then nodded.
Andy's smile was tighter than she intended it to be. The dress in
question, she held up and fingered. "I want to go over several
changes with you. The shoulders need to be lifted. The
waistline needs to be tightened and dropped by an inch and a half.
Alter the hem to be longer in the back by two inches.
Discretely tack the bust line so it lifts and accentuates without the
need for a bra. Loosen it here, and here." The journalist
paused, watching the glances that went around the room as the young
designer struggled to get the orders written down. Voice dropping to
a purr, Andy prepared herself for the backlash and said, "This people
is the piece. All else will compliment and be altered to fit it and
make an entire, cohesive show."
The uproar was instant. Evan's face turned purple. Hilaire was not
the lead designer. "No fucking way. I'll quit first."
Well, that had been about what she'd expected. "Don't bother.
You're fired. Elise please escort him out. Nothing, not
even a pack of gum goes with him. Send one of the boys over to his
apartment to collect anything belonging to Priestly. I want every
thread, every scrap of paper and every design he's doodled. As per
all your contracts, it belongs to us."
"You have no authority to fire me just because of who you're
The tide turned against him instantly. Elise grabbed his arm only to
be waved off by Andy. Slowly, deliberately, she set the dress back on
the rack then turned to him. "And you wouldn't dare if she were
here. None of you would. What you will do, from this moment on is
your jobs. Except for you Evan. Unfortunately for you I don't
care who you are or what potential you have. I made you. All
but four of you found your way to Miranda through me. If not for me,
you'd still be sitting on your dirty couch making things out of other
people's garbage which I assure you you'll be doing again in a month.
You see Evan, I'm normally a very reasonable person but I've had a
really bad couple of months. See Miranda for reasonable. As far
as I'm concerned you're persona non grata.
And make no mistake, no, I'm not her. She's nicer. Me, before
this day is out, I'll have called every major and minor player in the
industry. You won't be able to get a job dyeing material. One
more thing. Before you think of suing, just remember, I own your ass.
You signed an iron clad non-disclosure agreement and nothing, nothing
you learned or saw here can be taken elsewhere for ten years. Break
it, speak her name or allude to her in an uncomplimentary way ever again
and I'll sue you for everything down to your nasty underwear. Elise,
get him the hell out of my building."
All too happy to comply, Elise prodded the stunned man out of the office.
Evan she was thrilled about ousting after that but behind it was
absolute misery. Never had she regretted not being able to see
Miranda's face more than she did right now. Unbeknownst to Andy,
she'd left her cell phone on and in the room where Miranda had mysteriously
been connected through some mystery phone. She hadn't connected her
not because she didn't trust Andy but because she suspected things were
going to go badly. Now, if Miranda could just keep her mouth shut the
journalist wouldn't kill her for breaking the no contacting Miranda rule.
Two hours later, Andy slumped back into Miranda's chair, Katherine on her
shoulder. The baby brought peace after the chaos. Evan's
ejection, unsurprisingly, had made everyone else as quiet as children in
church. They wouldn't stay that way but with luck they'd remain
scared shitless. That left the one little detail of telling Miranda
before she returned to work. Then again, she'd earned the right to
take a sick day that day.
Two weeks later Andy sat at her desk making notes with one hand, Katherine
tucked in the crook of her arm and gurgling in the other. Taking over
Priestly had set off a chain reaction of changes that swept over the entire
office. A dozen new employees had been hired for Unseen - a change
Miranda had cajoled her to make since before her absence. Three new
designers were in standby mode for Priestly. Although she'd
thoroughly taken over and had to she could not bring herself to pull the
trigger on Miranda's designers. The older woman would have to do that
herself. But Andy had filled other positions within the design house,
breaking up jobs that had been done by one person into jobs for two.
Whatever gave her added free time during and at the end of the day
had been done.
She'd even been tempted to allow people to eat at their desks so they could
have more time but eventually gave up the idea of changing the carried over
Runway decree. Miranda was impossible to work with when there were people
eating. Those that worked for Unseen had a little more leeway than
the Priestly house, occasionally filching a snack that the journalist
turned a blind eye to. Full meals, as tempting as the idea was, she'd
left as a no-no. The same could not be said for her office or
Miranda's. It had taken exactly four days of constantly walking
through the U that led to Miranda's office before she'd had enough.
The eyes boring into her back, the barely hushed gasping whispers
that reached her ears and the dives for phones to alert others she was
incoming wore out the tolerance that had sustained for almost two years.
Now their offices were connected through a nursery she'd had quickly built
for Katherine. Miranda would either throw a fit over having the wall
she chose to put pictures on altered or she'd get distracted by being able
to see Katherine through the sliding doors whose windows could be darkened
or see-through at her whim. A similar door had been placed on Andy's
side, allowing her to move to Miranda's office without sending the office
into a tizzy. Her assistants sat where her old office had been
turning the entire floor into a square rather than a U shape. Andy
was happiest about that change. Remote control blinds had been added
to the window that overlooked the rest of the floor. Several hours
had been spent rearranging her desk so she could look out if she chose
without their employees being able to see her. She was tired of being
the lab rat under a microscope.
On the end closest to the outer offices, behind Katherine's nursery were
heavy doors, accessible by either Miranda's office or hers. Both
housed heavy duty dead bolts and security panels that guarded an almost
empty closet. Three designs occupied it, more would later, her
attempt to turn worry over their designs being stolen into a manageable
possibility. It was a regular occurrence in the industry, especially
this close to Paris. The collection might tank but it wouldn't be
because they'd arrived without a full collection if she could help it.
Jace's office, had been made completely private, a result of her
finally giving into the need for help on Unseen by someone she trusted
implicitly. The changes were wide sweeping and all of them
unbeknownst to Miranda who she still had strict no contact rules on.
But she missed her. Every day in the office made her keenly aware of
her lover and partner's absence. Katherine helped ease the ache a
little. Her happy if sometimes demanding personality had become a
balm. Cara was a nanny without a full time charge. Having the
baby around when she had meetings had proved interesting but she'd decided
that even after Miranda returned, Katherine would remain with them most of
the time. She just hadn't gotten around to mentioning that to her lover
yet either. There would be time later. Miranda's limp remained,
grounding her to the house by her own will in addition to Andy's. The
nightmares continued. Haunting series’ of beeps then still silence
that made the two hours of sleep she managed to get every night, choppy.
Andy stopped writing and cooed to the baby then talked to her for a couple
of minutes. 8:45. The office had filled and she'd finally
managed to catch up on everything for Priestly. Not a bad morning so
far. As she did every morning, she kissed the baby, told her she
loved her then said a small prayer of thanks that the stroke hadn't done
more damage. A limp was nothing in comparison to what it could have
robbed Miranda of. Half of her cup of coffee disappeared before she
resettled Katherine and began typing out her latest piece for Unseen with
Roy held the door to the town car. Four inch Jimmy Choos had been
sacrificed for a meager two inch heel. Two weeks previous, unknown to Andy,
Miranda had succumbed to an idea by her therapist, a cane. It fit
comfortably in her hand. The hook was sterling silver designed by
Tiffany's and sported an intricately engraved dragon. The shaft was
snow white ivory. It helped, a lot. The extra support made the heels
possible. Excruciating exercise had returned her arm to a hundred percent
finally, the rest they said just needed time. She was tired of waiting.
Looking every inch the iconic, fashion maven Miranda appeared to sweep out
of the car and waltz into the building. The click of the cane was in
sync with her steps, adding to her aristocratic air. The phone, a new one
was in her ear as she spewed short stinted directives to Elise. "I
expect a coffee on my desk. I'll be there in three minutes." Her
wicked little grin twisted as she heard the audible gasp from her
assistant. It was always best to keep people on their toes. "That's
all." Her not yet on the market Nokia was closed and tucked into
her charcoal Gucci bag. Elise had kept her abreast of the structural
changes in the office and so without missing a step she weaved through the
executive suites and straight to her office.
Once her coat was discarded on one of the Elise's desks she stopped
midstride, pivoted and tapped the end of her walking stick on the girl's
desk. "What scent is that? Eau du skunk? You reek. Have you no sense
of smell whatsoever? Or are you simply trying to asphyxiate me with that
stench? Go home and hose yourself off and the next time you decide to
offend my sensibilities in this manner write yourself a pink slip." A
blue glacial glare looked at Elise accusingly. Her right hand had
obviously gotten lax in her absence, how disappointing. She waved her left
hand through the air. “Have this room fumigated. Is my breakfast
"Ten minutes," Elise said unapologetically, a smile of delight
planted on her face. She glanced at Jordanna, the remaining Elise,
who went running off for the appropriate magazines. The assistant
gave her boss a visible once over and nodded at the addition of the cane.
Her friend looked good, better than she had a month ago, the last
time she'd been allowed to visit. They'd dissolved into work talk
when she was there, prompting her banning. "You look
fabulous." Elise on the other hand looked ready to break out
into a dance over Miranda's arrival. Not only was she alive, well and
doing a lot better, she was in the office. Andy could no longer
terrorize her. Happy day. The normal professionalism slipped
when she added, "It's good to see you."
"I understand now. It's a plot to kill me. First attempt asphyxiation,
next starvation. What is so challenging about having a little plate of
eggs, sausage and bacon, hot, waiting on my desk when I arrive?" She
glared at the remaining assistant as though questioning the being who had
erred in allowing her existence to being with. "Why are you sitting
there? Are you obtuse? I'm hungry now." Her cane thudded hard against
the girls desk twice, startling her already frazzled nerves. She flew
out of the office to find eggs and escape the silver haired being who
wasn't just the evil but surely the anti-christ too.
Elise was thrilled the other woman had gone, saving her from painful
decisions. Her poor employer. She had no idea yet all the
changes that had been made. Gathering two new binders, she stood and
grabbed two others. Instead of placing them in Miranda's arms, she
entered her office and set them on her desk then returned to speak to her
privately, in a low voice. "We're under orders about your food.
You're supposed to be having oatmeal and yogurt. She's
impossible Miranda. The innocent, nice bit is an act. You'll
recognize the two usual books. The other two...those are notes about
Priestly and changes she's made in it and Unseen during the last two weeks."
"Clearly I did not hear you correctly. I do not eat mush. Ever."
"According to her and your mother you do. She had Marianne stop
by to educate me Miranda. I'm still having nightmares." An
exaggeration it was not. Elise didn't know exactly what Andy had done
to her boss's mother over the years but the women had become friends.
That should have been her first clue to make up an excuse to be out
of the office. Marianne had been there, setting up the best possible
care for her child over the last few months. She seemed to have
mellowed when talking to Andy. But the moment she'd turned around for
a 'consultation' the fangs had come out.
"I expect my steak to be delivered at twelve sharp. Extra sour cream
and none of that vile yogurt shit." Months of trying to circumvent the
food Nazis at home had nearly done her in, at work, was not happening.
"In my absence Andrea had to take on a lot of extra
responsibility, I'm back and things will return to normal. I cannot fathom
what you have managed to fill two binders within two weeks." Truth was
she was afraid to find out.
"Work orders, line changes, clothing alterations, material changes,
office changes, building changes, protocol changes, resumes for you to look
over and personel changes to start with. I should warn you your
office has been changed along with the rest. I'll have your steak
delivered but would you mind if I took lunch out of the building
today?" Hearing Miranda say shit threw Elise for a loop that she
recovered from only because knowing Andy terrorized Miranda too made her
feel better. If she could escape the journalist's wrath during lunch
she might just survive another day.
That was a lot of changes, Andrea was clearly under far too much pressure.
She'd come back just in time. "How many years have you worked
for me, Elise? Don't answer that. In all those years you never ducked
out on me, what has Andrea done to you?"
"Let me put it this way. The last time I openly went against
orders, a week ago, I spent the next twenty-four straight hours over at Clarice's
studio dying and re-dying material. Personally. Under Clarice's
supervision." Elise turned her palms over, the ridges of which
still sported remnants of the rainbow.
"I see. Put the binders in on my desk and then take the rest of the
"Half a day," Elise countered with, not wanting to miss Miranda's
entire first day back for anything in the world. She was to glad to
see her. A new bounce was in her step when she returned to her desk
and began placing the appropriate phone calls. The queen had
A smile half lit her face as she walked in to her office; her eyes closed
while she breathed deeply. It was good to be back. Changes could be dealt
with when she was here not from her prison bed. Out of the corner of her
eye something moved. She looked up an realized she was missing a
wall. Where there had been a wall there was now floor to ceiling glass, on
the other side of which was a crib. Cooing could be heard. A
minute later Miranda had absconded with her daughter who was happily
hoisted in her left arm playing with her favorite scarf.
Upon returning to her desk she talked to her child until one of the
assistant's returned with her food. She didn't even comment about someone
changing the china when it was delivered to her desk. That detail could
pass, for now there was real food and she set about devouring it as she
continued her conversation with Katherine.
Once her breakfast was dispensed with she called Elise. "Notify
everyone that I want a run through within the hour. Call Jorge, I want
"The run through is already taken care of except for the designs she
has locked away. Andy's meeting just let out." Wonder of
wonders, she didn't seem to know her partner was in the building yet.
A small miracle considering the way the phones had gone into meltdown
upon Miranda's arrival.
"What do you mean taken care of?"
"Scheduled," Elise corrected with a smile. "I let them know
to get ready the moment you sat down at your desk."
"Who is gone besides Evan?"
"Sebastian, Torrey, and Carr from the design team." Andy
had apprised her of several she had lined up to meet with Miranda upon her
return but that didn't diminish the shock at the way the journalist had
rolled through the place, whether she was justified or not.
Miranda twitched just a little. Evan had deserved the dismissal, Carr
though was one of her favorites. "Cause?"
"Insubordination, theft and refusal to make the changes she wanted,
Miranda nodded as Katherine giggled and reached up to squeeze her mother's
pursed lips. "Did he refuse in his usual manner?"
"If only. I don't think she would have minded that as much.
He refused, she countered, he refused again, she got forceful and
then he made the mistake of telling her that you would find it perfect as
was. The story is she fired him with her next breath."
From the open sliding glass door, Andy stood rooted in place. She'd
gone to check on Katherine. Surprise at finding her missing turned to
breathless shock at the familiar sight of silver hair. Miranda had
returned weeks before she was supposed to. In a distant place she
knew she should be angry. The sight of her, in her chair and holding
their daughter had the opposite effect. For the first time in months,
the constriction in the journalist's chest eased. She felt like she'd
been playing dress up for weeks and if she were really honest, Miranda's
willingness to remain at home had worried her. It was so unlike her.
Mother and child were alive, already back at work and most of all,
there. Andy's mind captured the image, storing it away to fight the
night terrors. In a world of beautiful people, the sight of Miranda
and Katherine were to her Michelangelo’s David.
Arms crossing over her chest, she listened to the conversation and more
importantly the cadence of Miranda's voice. Normal. Free from
pain or signs of the stroke. Andy leaned against the door then softly
cleared her throat, face and smile exuding happiness. "If you
weren't the most beautiful sight I've seen all week I'd be offended that
the first thing you do upon returning is play catch up with Elise."
Katherine and Miranda turned towards the beloved voice simultaneously and
Elise was just forgotten. "I thought it best that I played catch up so
that I didn't bore you with a hundred questions." Blue eyes sparked
with their new impatience for life and their contentment for the one she
found herself in.
Andy didn't care who was watching as she closed the distance between them.
Mindful of their daughter, she enveloped Miranda in the fiercest hug
she'd dared in over six months. The fissures that had been building
in the calm wall that propped her up, rattled. Later, she'd find a
private place to hole up in and cry. Familiar scents became instant
favorites. The smell of shampoo, the subtle scent of hair product,
the teasing wafts of lightly applied perfume and the soft smell of
Katherine. "Please, I beg of you, bore me."
"I can ask a lot of questions in an hour." She murmured as her
free arm wrapped around Andy, thankful for the strength of the embrace that
for once didn't hold on as if she were blown glass ready to shatter.
"Your office or hers?" Miranda indicated towards their daughter
who's lids were dropping as she drifted off.
"Mine if you want to put her down. It's more current than what's
in here." The journalist slowly let go but not before brushing
her lips over Miranda's, unprofessional or not. Another wisped over
Katherine's head. "Since you're here, answering your incessant
questions is the least I can do."
"I can see into your office from mine," she said conversationally
as they moved into the nursery where she eased the sleeping baby into her
crib. "I like that and this room is very nice."
"I was hoping you wouldn't mind. Keeping her bassinette in my
office became interruptive to her when she was trying to sleep. I
called your architect friend and this is what he came up with. The
best part is that either of us can see her or each other without people in
our offices being able to do the same." The moment Miranda's
arms were free, Andy's slipped around her waist. The addition of the
cane was noted with approval. The shoes she chose to ignore for now.
"I grew tired of being viewed as a specimen when running between
When Miranda let her head rest on Andy's shoulder it wasn't out of
weakness, it was out of happiness to being looked at as something besides
the pathetic creature trying to recuperate. "Elise has two binders on
the changes around here in the past two weeks. I'm not certain she won't
break into some wretched song and dance display before the day is out. Do
you have time to catch me up on everything you had to do?"
Of course she did. Andy tamped down on resentment toward Elise, hit
the button to close the blinds then turned to hug Miranda again. A
real, full on body hug where every point that could be touching was.
"I'll catch you up on everything you want to know and a bunch
you don't." The journalist knew then that whenever Miranda left,
be it retirement, boredom or worse, she would leave too. The
business, not even Unseen was the same without her. "To tell you
the truth, I feel like I've been playing in my mother's makeup."
"You scared Elise, I'm impressed," she deadpanned while returning
the hug like her life depended on it. "I feel like a person again.
Whatever you did, you did. We'll agree, we'll disagree. I cannot
express how good it is to be back to all of this," she cleared her
throat as deep blue eyes misted. "and you. Most importantly,
"That works both ways Mira. I don't care if you disagree with
me. I'm too happy to see you to care. Yeah I'll fillet Marianne
later for letting you escape but that's for fun. Just don't tell her
I told you so." Marianne had been her rock during the worst of
it but she was a slippery eel. Give her too much rope and she'd take
Looking every inch a petulant determined child, Miranda popped off with.
"I'm having steak for lunch and I'm never eating that disgusting glop
again. That's all."
Andy's rich laughter burst out then was quickly contained because of
Katherine. "There is a lot to catch you up on but why don't we
take Katherine and have a working lunch outside the office. S&W
opens at noon."
"Potatoes with butter and sour cream?" She chided herself, that
was supposed to be a statement of irrefutable fact not framed like a
"The works. Dessert too if you want." At home they'd
maintained doctor's orders but Andy more than anyone else was aware of how
her lover's clothes hung off her. Miranda would be lucky if she
didn't start feeding her like a pig being led for slaughter - anything to
rid the editor of the sickly reminders. "Seriously Mira,
anything you want and as much of it. You're too thin. As for
Elise, she's been a skittish colt since the day I took over Priestly.
It's her own fault not that she realizes it. But I've neither
forgotten nor forgiven the stare down we had that followed her outright
refusal to follow my order to send Hilaire's design to Valentino."
Her attention was immediately drawn from the distinct possibility of two
steaks for lunch and back to all things Priestly. "Did his input help
"In confirming what I was seeing, yes. I knew if I sent it to
you, you would be here before I could call for your opinion. His is
almost as good. It's...stunning Miranda. Innovative, daring,
bold and nothing short of brilliant in my opinion." Although
there remained the possibility Miranda would despise it. "Come
on, you might as well see what choice of mine threw your house into chaos. You
have a similar entrance on your side. I'll give you the combination
for the security pad. Karl had four designs stolen last week.
It made me paranoid enough to wonder why it was we left finished
pieces out to be taken. Hence this new closet."
"While you are still on the high of my triumphant return, would you
please give consideration to letting me hire Carr back. He is temperamental
I realize, but... I will miss him. Remember, I have fired Elise at least
"It's your house darling so if you want him be my guest but please,
for me, try to work on his ability to see the larger picture. His
design was good. The problem is it was hampered by his inability to
see that it didn't fit with the rest of the collection. That's why
I'd asked him to make some changes that would have improved not only the
piece but the entire line." At least she hadn't said she was
bringing Evan back. Then again she hadn't said anything, she'd asked.
Huh. Curious. Remarkable, and something to be seriously
Andy slid a key into the lock then entered a code into the keypad.
The nerves she should have been feeling remained inexplicably absent
as she opened the door and flipped the light on. Hilaire's dress hung
from a center hook on the door to Miranda's side. The color was her
choice as were half the alterations while the design was pure Hilaire.
Few pieces could carry off the color she'd chosen. Hand dyed
red, close to Alizarin yet distinct and nearly impossible to replicate -
one of the major objections Miranda might have about it. "You're the
third person to see the finished product."
The visual impact was enough to make her exhale sharply. With Evan gone
Miranda had decided ownership or not his designs would be nixed.
"Let's get it on a model. It's stunning on a hanger. The color is
"I considered greens, blues and black for awhile but it...it can
handle the red better than any piece I've seen outside of ball gown.
Another trauma for Elise," Andy called over her shoulder while
ordering one of the models from downstairs to come up. If she'd been
pleased before, Miranda's reaction so far had her punch drunk. It had
been almost the same one she'd had from the sketches which turned out not
to come close to the real thing. "I restructured the spring line
so it's the centerpiece. I don't know what she was smoking when she
came up with the idea but I suggest you buy her a permanent supply - or at
least that's my opinion."
"Shhh." It would be too easy to buy into Andy's enthusiasm, her
own was spiking but she wouldn't give it reign until she saw how it
translated once it was adorning a body.
"The original sketches. I'll be with Katherine." Hand
brushing Miranda's back, Andy passed off the designs then schooled herself
to walk away and watch from afar. The habit of liking silence when
she viewed anything was one acquired from her lover. If it was good
Miranda would find her soon and if not she could survive that too. The
journalist hovered just inside the door to the nursery, one eye on the baby
and one on her lover just in case she wasn't as well as she seemed.
She'd become an expert in hovering. Sometime between hovering
and the model entering she picked up a stack of papers that needed work.
The distraction they provided didn't hurt either.
Miranda issued several commands to the model and if her assistants ever
felt dissected they'd never watched her visually pull apart an outfit
thread by thread, seam by seam. The model's muscles were starting to kink
before Miranda shooed her off with threats to her life if anything happened
to the dress while she changed. She spent several minutes looking at the
before and after sketches, scribbling notes. Next she placed several
calls then went hunting for her partner. When they made eye contact, she
nodded twice and then smiled broadly. A few minor changes and the dress was
indeed the right choice for the focal point of their showing. She had to
lean extra heavily on her cane from the fact that she was all but
vibrating. "Why that color? Where did that come from?"
The nods followed by the smile erased any doubts that might have lingered.
Andy put her paperwork aside then stepped out of Katherine's room and
slid the door shut. Her dark eyes gleamed. Yet beyond being
happy over the dress she really couldn't have cared less if Miranda hated
it or the line did bomb. That realization had struck when she'd seen
Miranda in her chair. Tonight she'd go home to her lover and the
girls, all three of them, alive and well. A dress? Trivial.
Andy hugged her again just because she'd missed doing so.
After, she ushered Miranda to the couch she'd had placed in the
"Good question. Nothing else...popped. She redid it in
half a dozen colors but they were flat. That's when it hit me that
Clarice is a genius at coloring. We have to name the color by the
way. The differences are too distinct to call it Alizarin red.
And my darling, we have five perfect bolts of fabric tucked
Miranda sank into the plush seat and glanced around. The office had a
private intimacy she could get accustomed to. "You took a huge risk.
I'm incredibly proud of you, not just for this but you stepped up and
have gone beyond the call of duty and put yourself completely on the line.
Accuse me of being sappy but I can't help but love you just a little more
"Thank you. I think I like you sappy." The praise
settled on Andy's face, erasing the tight tension lines. Taking a
seat beside Miranda, she pulled her leg into her lap and began a massage she
was now an expert at. "You have you to build back up Mira.
Now you can see why I sent the sketch to him though. I needed
to hear that I wasn't crazy before risking us to this degree. If I
ever have another one of those moments you'd better be here, or else."
"You sent it Andrea, because you are you. It was a very smart
decision. This..." She waved her hand around the room expansively
before expelling a little sigh of appreciation as Andy's ministrations
relaxed the tightening muscle in her limp leg. "I've been thinking,
I've had too much time to do that in the past months. I'd like you to
consider accepting the position of vice president of Priestly. You
all but serve that role now, I'd just like to make it official."
"If you're sure that's what you want, then the answer is of course,
yes. It's been a long few months without you." Miranda.
Offering her part of Priestly. It looked like she wasn't the
only one who'd changed her opinion and priorities on their lives.
"More than I think you'd believe. When you leave this, I'm done.
It's not the same when you're not here." She dug deeper into the
reluctant tightness in Miranda's leg, stopping short of causing her any
"Odd little journalist." She uttered while sounding supremely
pleased. "Ow. Easy, nurse Ratchet."
"Sorry. You have this knot here that's not being cooperative.
I suppose you've heard about Evan?" Knowing Elise that had been
one of the first things she'd heard upon walking in.
"Mmm." Miranda hummed evasively finding it challenging to
concentrate. "It sounded like an eventful meeting. I was
disappointed he got in the way of his talent, but it happens and he's
called me. I told him I wouldn't give him a reference even if he were
applying for the position of dog catcher."
"Oh." No, no, it wouldn't be good karma to have him evicted
for daring to call her lover. Bad journalist, bad. "I
intended to play somewhat nice but that became impossible and not a little
time consuming. Elise is convinced I've become a power mongering
monster but I have to tell you, being nice to everyone to get what I needed
done? I didn't have the time. Explaining my reasons?
Forget it. Too much time and effort. I guess this means I have
to cut you a little slack on your demanding nature."
If dancing were a possibility she might have. "You my darling have
arrived. You've seen the light. Could you reenact the firing for me?"
Miranda asked, her face the picture of innocence.
Andy growled and ran her fingers lightly over the prone leg until it
jerked. "And you call me odd? No, I will not reenact it
for you but rumor has it someone recorded it on camera. They think
I've not heard but Jace told me last week. Poor man was so delighted
I thought he was going to hurt himself. Between you and me, I have
had Elise do a few less than assistant worthy things in part because they
tickled me. When I'm in a crunch it seems I really, really don't like
being questioned or having to explain myself to those that work for
"That explains why she is so thrilled I'm back and so certain you are
planning a coup." Miranda straighten her leg a little, the ache was
starting to ease. "It's starting to feel better. Poor Elise she was
showing me the dye stains she couldn’t get out of her hands. You'd have thought
you shipped her off to a backroom sweat shop in China for a year. Can we do
that? They'd appreciate us much more if we did."
"Nice idea. Bad press. They've only just gotten over my identity
reveal and your partnering with me. Best to let them simmer for a
bit." Andy tipped her head back against the couch and continued
massaging. Starting to feel better wasn't better. "The
stains. They give me the giggles anytime I see them. Beyond my
amusement however, I needed the material for the dress colored. But
Clarice is getting ready for Paris too. She didn't have the time and
couldn't spare anyone. What she did promise was to help out if I
could send someone over to help her in turn.
I choose Elise because as often as I've wanted to fire her recently, she's
still the best either of us have at details. I knew she'd remember
what she and Clarice did thus giving us the ability to reproduce it.
That's the behind the scenes story on the dye. She's convinced
I did it to punish her though. Never mind that when I sent her I was
feeding Katherine and literally in the middle of interviewing people while
"Brilliant and beautiful, little wonder I succumbed to your pursuit.
Siccing Marianne on her though that is a new level of evil." Miranda
sidled closer and put her other leg across Andy's lap.
Andy switched legs immediately. The right would be more tired than
the left by the end of the day. "And here I thought it was
because I put up with your moods. Elise can consider herself lucky
on Marianne. I thought I was being damned nice considering she
questioned what I was doing then refused an order again. Oddly
enough, after that, she stopped questioning me."
"Mother has that effect on people. They are doing a run through for me
in thirty minutes. Can you make it?"
"See you at work again? I wouldn't miss it." Not for
anything in the world. "I've done some hiring. Okay, a
lot. A dozen people at Unseen, half a dozen at Priestly. All
those talks you insisted on, about hiring more people on the site's side,
sunk in. Once everyone is settled I should have a lot more free time
when I want it. On your...our, the Priestly side there were serious
holes I noticed when I took over. Nothing huge, don't get me wrong
but in restructuring and dividing up jobs they'll get done a lot more
efficiently. I want to be able to take Friday off or Monday or just
to go home at three in the afternoon when the mood hits without either
business being hurt. If it comes down to here or spending more time with
you and the girls, I'll sell the place."
Miranda swallowed her retort. The birth of Katherine and the
circumstances surrounding it had left a profound, deep, abiding mark on
both of them it seemed. "I'm learning that leaving the personnel
details to you is for the best. Except when you are having a bad week and
then I'll rescue the poor peon who makes the mistake of crossing your path.
This tape you speak of does Jace have a copy?"
"Like leaving scaring them senseless to you is best? I don't
like having to do that very much. Necessary at times but I don't care
for it. Knowing Jace he probably has it on a DVD montage by now.
I finally pulled him in full time. He's handling the
fashion-lite side and the more serious offerings we've been looking at.
More importantly though I needed someone here I could trust.
Still do if either of us is out. He's backed me 100%. I'd
like him to remain in his new position if you have no objections."
Miranda's agreement had been the one stipulation between them from
the start. Unilateral decisions were unavoidable sometimes but she
preferred the insight her partner brought to the table.
Miranda nodded her absolute approval. "He is way past due a
visit with me. I'm beginning to think he's avoiding me. I can't understand
why he would do that can you?" No doubt because her darling lover had
banned him along with everyone else from the house.
"Because he's been working like a dog for us. He was supposed to
come by last week but Unseen crashed. The entire site. I stayed
with the techs as long as I could until he thankfully stepped in. It
effectively cancelled their plans to come over that night. But I do
know he'd love to see you and not just because you spoil him."
The massage turned to loving touches that reassured Andy the body
beneath her fingers was whole.
Miranda didn't miss the flicker of emotion that further darkened the heavy
circles under her eyes that she'd tried to cover with makeup, it had been
successful for most human eyes just not hers. "All these extra
people you hired so we could come and go more freely, does that include
today?" Her fingers found their way to rolling long strands of silky
hair between them; Andy looked beyond exhausted.
"It does. Are you tired? Do I need to call the doctor?"
The calm disappeared, eclipsed by deep concern that bordered on
A long lingering kiss stilled Andy's questions. "I feel great. But
that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to leave an hour or two early and have a
nice dinner with you and an early quiet evening." If Andy
thinking she needed the rest would get her home and in bed early Miranda
was not above using it.
"I could cook. I think I have mac and cheese down." The
journalist relaxed again and went back to work on Miranda's left leg. "I
don't suppose I can talk you into sitting during the run through."
"I could be convinced. Go." She wouldn't bother telling her
darling partner she'd already had Elise order up a special chair for such
"Hmm. The weekend off. Just us. No work. And
I'll give you my files. Unlike the ones I'm sure Elise gave you,
you'll be able to track everything along with the reasons why."
There would be a ton of work to do before and after but spending time
with Miranda when she looked healthy was more than worth it.
"I would call that an offer I could not possibly refuse. I've heard
you've become a rather wily woman to be reckoned with in my absence.
I've been warned. Just know that I am apprised of your new
arsenal of tricks." Her mood was buoyant and would only improve
once the shadows lightened on Andy's face. "You learned how to
make the macaroni’s from a box?"
"I did. No scorching with a minimum of chewy according to
Cassidy." Thumb running up the inside of Miranda's leg, the
first spark of the normal desire between them appeared after a dormancy
that had gone well over the six month mark. An intimate gleam
appeared in the journalist's eyes. "Don't worry Mira. Nasty
rumors, all of them. Besides, we both know you'll always be the top
in this relationship."
The gleam and intimate tone had Miranda suddenly feeling quite human. A
soft blush colored too pale cheeks followed a low chuckle. "I
think Evan might disagree." she cleared her throat. "That
display..." she caught herself, "Is becoming legendary. You
enjoyed it at least a little didn't you?"
"My stomach was churning too much to enjoy it. Later I might
have, a little. During I was mostly remembering everything I'd ever
seen you do to command a room." There was little denying that it
had worked though by the time it was over she felt more like she was
playing dress up than she had at any time since.
Her fingers lost themselves in tangles of Andy's hair she used the leverage
to pull the woman closer and her lips sought their mates, it started slow
but by the time they parted to catch a breath blood thundered in her ears
and she touched her lips to make certain they hadn't melted. The sharply
huffed breathes warming her cheeks sent a trill down her spine.
"I haven't lost my touch darling."
"Never," Andy husked, eyes glued shut. Time and place
became one of those social lubrications her lover never bothered with.
Over six months without wasn't healthy. Six without Miranda
when she'd nearly died. Skin tingled with desire. The journalist
pried her eyes open and glanced around. "You're going to be late
for your meeting." It wasn't a warning so much as an absolute.
Shaky legs found their way around the office, locking first the main
door then sliding Katherine's shut. Her voice remained raspy yet held
steady when she called Sarah and barked out do not disturb orders for them
both. By the time she turned back to Miranda her eyes were nearly
black as they devoured the sight of her. "I need you."
The way her vision grazed it might as well have been a touch. Absence
had not dulled any of her senses when it came to Andrea and her infinite
capacity to respond physically to even the smallest cues. Sharp eyes
surveyed the room and came to an abrupt halt when they landed on Andy's desk.
She stood and crossed the room, slowly, deliberately cane in hand, her hip
leaned into the edge of the desk and her head cocked towards her lover. Her
voice held threads of the finest hand woven silk saturated in whiskey.
"There is a package for you in my desk drawer. If you are still
able to walk, you should get it."
"I will." Just as soon as she re-familiarized herself a
little more. Andy moved around the desk and leaned in close.
She breathed in slowly then took another step, hand automatically
falling to Miranda's hip just in case it gave her a problem. The
exotic perfume became stronger, senses heightening. Nipples turned to
hard rocks, she moved in just a little more, lips hovering over her
lover's. This she remembered, the unmistakable, instantaneous affect.
The warm body that quickly threatened to incinerate. "I
love you," she said as she finally stepped back. The desk became
a support until weak legs decided to locate Miranda's desk, hyper aware of
the eyes glued to her ass.
The top flipped off the shoe box when she made it back to the nursery.
Fire engine red Jimmy's danced their own tango of seduction.
Miranda wasn't just back, she was in the mood to play. Her own
shoes were ditched first. Clothes fell off behind them. The
shoes felt like a long time lover when she slipped into them wearing
nothing but her black bra and matching soaked panties. Rampant lust
lent itself to the act of walking. Hips took on an extra sway until
she stopped midway between the door and her enticing lover. "The
cane is impossibly sexy." And with the Armani suit she might
just have sold one of the children for five minutes with Miranda.
"You're beautiful." Miranda was perched on the edge of the desk,
ankles crossed, the cane laid across her lap. The air rushed from her lungs
at the reappearance of her partner. The sleek, soft curves of her torso set
off by the heels that made her legs endless created a vision that would
have enticed anyone off their death bed, and it paled in comparison in the
expressive eyes that dominated Andy's beautiful face. The whispered voice
took on a decidedly deeper tone. "Come here Andrea."
"Thank you. Beautiful shoes." Not bothering with the
pretense of protesting, the journalist slowly closed the distance, using
every step to seduce. Her fingers alternated splaying against her
stomach and running from panty to bra line. Andy's breathing told a
tale of want, need, and desire. Mentally, every piece of clothing
Miranda wore had disappeared by the time she stopped, hips lightly pressing
against her lover's knee. "I don't remember wanting you quite so
"Because you haven't, nor I you." Hazy eyes flickered and held,
communicating the absolute truth of her words. Fingers traveled the
same lines that eyes had previously, their touch so light they could rival
the flutter of butterflies wings. Miranda's unabashed groan of want
commenced in the center of her being and echoed loudly across merlot
painted lips. The present demanded every thought, every sense. Both
hands met at the hollow of Andy's neck and started a methodical trace to
the swell of breasts encased in exquisite black lace.
One hand snaked under the material of Miranda's coat in the middle of a
simultaneous moan and arch. Andy's head dropped back, accentuating
the line of her throat. Imagined or real, she would swear in any
court that she could feel the heat coming off her lover. Her own skin
pebbled in as her stance shifted. Slender thighs pressed together
against pounding arousal. "Mi-ran-da. Not too fast.
"Mmm, remember you said that," her tongue flicked against the
shell of her lover's ear with each syllable. Fingers itched to touch,
knead, mark and possess, and they would. It didn't seem her eyes had time
to blink in the time it took the warm expression to alter to one more
predatory. Both hands fell away, one moved the cane aside before both
clutched Andy's hips, swiveling them when Miranda stood she effectively
bent Andy over the desk, her hips pressed securely into the firm curve of her
lover's ass. The Armani suit had a downside, it had become a sauna. Small
price to pay.
The former editor leaned in, inhaling the scent of the bared skin in front
of her. Fingernails bit lightly into the plane of Andy's back, before
Miranda's hands twined with the brunette's, straightening her arms and
splaying each out across the desk. "Your gorgeous muscles are all
tensed. Over worked and long overdue." Her tongue flattened, her hand
pushed aside the heavy locks of hair and she nuzzled the back of the
younger woman's neck.
"Fuck Mira." The journalist remained where she'd been
placed except for an undeniable swivel of her hips, back against Miranda's
own. Clothing didn't diminish the heat at her back. But this
once it did diminish the entangling web being created. The need to
feel Miranda, her warm, vibrant flesh became an insatiable need. Nails
pressing against the wood she managed to arch just enough to press closer
without leaving the wooden surface. "Lose the shirt and jacket? Please?"
That could be arranged even if she did loathe stepping back and away before
walking around to the other side of the mammoth desk where Andrea could see
her. She crooked a finger and stood with her hips flush to the desk.
Seduction wrapped itself around every word she spoke. "I want
you to do it." She motioned to the jacket and the shirt.
A devilish grin slowly appeared. She shuddered, passion barely
controllable. But she knew this game. Miranda loved her on all
fours at times, almost as much as the journalist loved wearing heels during
sex. "I think I can manage that." The raspy voice
accompanied her languid climb onto the desk. Her back dipped, hips
swaying. Andy made the most of the inches she had until she reared up
and back onto her heels. Teasing fingers walked from the cloth
covered stomach up to the small, proud breasts, fuller since childbirth.
The grin grew when her lover groaned, nails making a point of raking
across both nipples.
"Like this?" She asked, hands finally sliding upward, under
the Fashionista’s jacket covered shoulders. They moved forward just enough
to drop the jacket to Miranda's shoulders. Fingers talking back down,
they undid one button and zeroed in on the skin underneath. "Or
this my darling?"
Miranda was irrevocably caught in desire that growled at her with
impatience the second Andy had reared up on the desk, legs slightly spread,
hips jutting in invitation. While goose bumps bloomed on her own skin from
Andy's touch. Her right hand reached forward and without ceremony slipped
between the wisp of a waist band that attached to the drenched silk
panties. Two fingers found their home deep inside. Whether the sound she
made was a gasp, groan or whimper could not be determined. "Now
that's perfect. Continue on." she sounded inebriated.
Hips pressing down and pumping of their own accord, it took Andy almost a
minute to realize what had been said. Several unmistakable whimpers
sounded before she gathered control of herself and pushed the jacket off.
"You're exquisite Miranda." One button fell to prying
fingers, then another and another until the material parted.
Half-lidded eyes remained transfixed in watching. Inch by inch
she slid the shirt off, hands taking extra time to play over searing flesh.
Miranda felt the same. Even the fresh red scar from her
cesarean felt normal. None of the iciness that had marked her
lover's skin at the hospital resurfaced. She took a deep breath,
walls unconsciously constricting. The journalist's mouth fell onto a
taut nipple, what was and was not supposed to happen, forgotten.
Miranda's entire being jolted upwards, the mouth on her nipple wiping out
illusions of control. She wanted and she wanted now. Slick fingers were
extracted, replaced with three woven together, she huffed and grunted as
she pressed upward hard into the nearly unyielding wall of the inferno.
Her free hand grasped Andy around the waist anchoring her. Wanting
lips retrieved their counterparts and latched on with a new found
ferociousness. This was life. Her voice cracked. "All of
you darling, that's what I want. Always."
"You have." The vice she'd been battling back for months
reappeared and clenched hard. Andy grit her teeth against it then
initiated a kiss that replicated the one Miranda had started. Body
undulating, her fingers dug into skirt then yanked it up. A brush of
fingers over smooth thighs and her own fingers slipped into sodden folds.
The journalist lurched hard, jolted by textures and smells. Two
fingers found their way inside as her own orgasm loomed dangerously close.
"Trouble. Close Mira." The warning quickly got
lost in a tangle of lips and tongues.
Miranda had known without the warning, but that often played game would
wait for another day. Need for both was too imminent to delay.
"Not trouble darling. You... are deliciously close." A shudder
made her feel weak in the knees. "Come with me Andrea, for me." A
refrain that would become her mantra in the next two hours.
The words set off a new high that had Andy frantically patting around the
desk. Papers fluttered to the floor like giant snowflakes. The
folder they'd been in became fodder to bite down on. Arms snaking
around Miranda's neck, she pressed close as needy hips began a rocking,
pumping until they found that perfect spot and rhythm. Hard and fast,
her nails dug into her lover's back while threatening to swallow Miranda's
Long fingers curled forward just enough on a downward thrust while Miranda
clenched at Andy the white light behind her eyes scalding every sense with
an near forgotten intensity that had her leaning hard into the desk for
The months blurred into a screaming orgasm barely contained by the bitten
folder. One orgasm led to another that spanned from the desk to the
floor to the couch, floor and then back again. Vitality and life
drove them. Desperation kept Andy begging for more until she was a
limp mass of raw, unlocked emotions who would be lucky to be able to walk
out of the building of her own accord. The sweat had barely dried
before she wrapped around Miranda. Spent of sex, burned out by
events, she wrapped around the older woman in undeniable need. Both
hands tangled in the white hair as if to prevent escape. To prevent
disappearance. The first racking sob shook them both, far louder than
their coupling ever could have been.
There had been a time when visceral displays of emotion had her running for
cover. The raw exposure pressed far beyond her limits of discomfort.
Today was different, she'd expected it, if not quite prepared for the
depths it burrowed. Her breathing was still somewhat labored and she
wasn't convinced that her limbs hadn't been rendered overcooked spaghetti,
but with any and all reserve she had she held Andy who was wrapped around
her like a boa. "Andrea, I've got you."
"Flat lined Mira. One min-ute talking to you. Looked away.
At her. Just a second. That's all. Swear it. A second.
Turned back...saw you go. Monitors went nuts. People yelled.
You were gone. They took Katherine too." Miranda's neck
became a haven that couldn't quite keep the incessant beeping and blaring
demons at bay. They dominated her mind. Sirens screamed nonstop
in her ears.
"I came back. For you, for Katherine and the twins." Her fingers
raked constantly through Andy's damp long locks of hair.
"No." The rebuttal was spat; hold tightening. Andy
squeezed her eyes shut against tears and memories alike. "A
coma. Went into the coma, nothing. Two days. Didn't move.
Skin was cold. Ice. Constant bleeping fucking machines.
But. They meant were alive. And I hated her Mira. Hated
her then hated myself for it. She took you. Knew it would happen.
"I'm sorry." And she was more than she'd ever be able to express.
"It was my mistake, my stubbornness. I was wrong to take that
kind of risk." Perhaps someday Andy and the twins would consider
Andy trembled from head to toe. Need prompted her to try and move
closer. Impossible. "Don't do that. Can't leave me...
Need you. Me. Them. Everything stopped. Stumbled home. You were
everywhere. And so gone. They...didn't know if ever would wake.
If you'd recover. Unknown, too early to tell. Sorry Ma'am.
Marianne made them stop. Stop saying those horrible things."
During the long days since the stroke Miranda had focused on one thing,
absolute complete recovery. There were days she'd resent very much
the hovering and the demands from both Andy and her mother that she do this
or that or be restricted in other areas. Now, she felt a few waves of guilt,
a feeling she did not appreciate at all and yet, they really had thought
they were going to lose her. "Our life has started again Andrea.
" And though she felt a little more mortal for the experience she also
felt more invincible, charmed even.
"Why? Why has it started?" This was the closest it
had felt to started or going in months. Andy watched Miranda at
night, long after the need for sleep called. The search for signs of
distress, the slightest hitch in her lover's breathing and she'd move
closer. The watch became more vigilant. Just in case became
habit. "Watch you, terrified will miss something. Want you
to eat steak. All the time. Any time. Eat. Be alive. Whole.
"Why? Because you know me. I demand nothing less than everything."
And that approach to life worked for her, it was always the people
around her that were often left spinning and spiraling. That little quirk
was not likely to change, ever.
"The twins hate me. I don't even blame them. Should have
stood firm. Shouldn't have given in or put you at risk like
this." Fat tear drops fell against the skin of Miranda's neck.
Knowing you should have done more was bad enough. Seeing the
girl's damnation on top of it was suffocating.
"I'll talk to them. This was not your fault, or Katherine's.
I made the choice certain the statistics applied to other people. I'm
sorry." Her hand cupped the back of Andy's neck and held her
Time alone would lessen their blame. Andy was as certain of that as
she was of all her priorities shifting. "Mira, do you think
Katherine will forgive me?"
A now cool hand tilted Andy's chin so Miranda could look into her dark
soulful eyes. "There is nothing to forgive and even if there were
she'll never know."
"A pretty shitty mother who hates her child." Eyes rolling
heavenward, one shoulder shrugged, helpless. Arms and legs twitched
then found a way to tighten, against disappearance or escape.
The time on the wall registered and was waved off. "Do you hate her
"God no." Head snapping up and back, wide, aghast and red
rimmed eyes desperately tried to impart the truth. She did love
Katherine, more than anything. The baby had gotten her through days
she wasn't sure anything else would have other than Miranda herself.
A manicured thumb wiped away the wet streaks on Andy's cheeks.
"I don't understand what is gained then by flogging yourself for
those very human moments you had. It's not so different than the
twins. They blamed you and the baby, you blamed the baby... and
yet all of you love her as much as you possibly can. It's over, let it
"Because you weren't better." Weren't whole and active,
back to work or her normal vibrant self. Miranda hadn't been Miranda
until she'd walked in the door under her own power.
Now. Now she might be able to start breathing again. "Now
I want to quit freelancing and work on a book when time permits. I
want to take a vacation with you and the girls. Someplace warm.
If Paris goes well, Priestly will be fully in the black. Then I
want to buy the place next door to the townhouse just so we can knock part
of the bottom out and have a real yard. I want to fix the upper half
up as a large flat for the girls when they start college. If they
stay in the city they can live there, close, hopefully. I want
Katherine to continue coming in with us every day, to be home by 5 and have
the weekends off. I want the businesses to succeed...but it's not the
"That's a long Christmas list." Miranda mused as her eyes swept
the room noting the thousands of dollars of haplessly discarded clothing.
Her limbs felt warm and heavy. The cane, her cane was propped against
Andy's desk. "Five o'clock, impossible. Make it six. I don't want to
eat alone in my office anymore and green Keds boy is far too preoccupied
these days, so I guess we are on our own. Someone has to support the street
"Lunch with you every day? I would like that."
Reluctantly, Andy followed her eyes around the room then glanced at
the clock in the corner. Heavy, pained legs made a mockery of walking
when she extracted herself and stood. "Don't move."
Soreness that ran into the land of pain made her movements awkward.
The journalist managed nonetheless then drug Miranda up with her.
Half an hour later they resettled on the couch still damp from the
shower. Andy popped up once more, made a mad dash around her office
and then curled up beside the woman again, after placing Katherine and her
bottle in Miranda’s arms. Their clothing hung in the bathroom.
Steam from the small shower battled worn and mussed wrinkles after
working its magic on overworked muscles.
One hand settled on Miranda's bare thigh, the other on Katherine's back.
Never Kate or Katie she mused, one of Miranda's first reminders when
she came out of the coma. "At this rate you're going to turn
from fashion queen to bodybuilder."
One eyebrow worked its way to her hairline. “Katherine, could you
speak to your mother and remind her there is no need to be vulgar."
The side effect of her relentless hours of physical therapy every day was
the appearance of muscle mass. The delicious heat from the shower had
permeated completely through Miranda, leaving her limber, invigorated and
famished. She'd already called hair and makeup who would be waiting in her
office when she deemed to return to it. "Today is the day
"For? I would remind you that it's not my fault you decided to
try on the Madonna look in the height of her yoga days." Joking
about the horrors of the emaciated appearance the editor had perfected of
late seemed both wrong and desperately necessary.
Miranda let the comment pass, her focus was on lunch to the point of
obsession. "Yogurt. You people were feeding me gruel and whey. Today
darling Andrea you are finally going to try the steak."
"Some of us can't eat anything we want darling but since this is the
first time you've offered, I'll forget about the calories. God knows
this place keeps me busy enough that it's not a real issue anyway."
Andy hated to think about how many hours she'd spent dissecting
Miranda's eating habits. They were unnatural. No one that ate
that much of whatever they wanted, Atkins diet or no, stayed as small as
she did unless a pact with the devil had been made.
A well honed finger poked Andy in the side. "You're too skinny.
Sundaes for dessert."
"So you want sundaes and are hoping if you get me to eat one then
Marianne can't yell at you. Or worse, you'll be put back on gruel.
I'll make a deal with you. As long as you don't try to overdo
it the next few weeks, I'll talk to her. You eating steaks makes me
feel normal. She'll back off. Besides, I've learned to play her
better than I ever knew how to play my own mother." True, every word
of it though she didn't dare use it often. Neither did she mention
her own mother often, a direct result of continued strained relations
between them. They took being with Miranda as a direct slap designed,
inexplicably, to rile them. Andy had tired of the battle to the point
she barely bothered beyond stilted, occasional phone calls. The way
they'd treated her when her lover was in a coma had branded itself to her
brain, breaking whatever remained between them.
Miranda pressed several kisses to Katherine's head as the baby gulped
greedily from her bottle. "I won't over do it." She touched the
worry lines by Andy's eyes. "You need to let me take care of you for
awhile now. It's good for me and makes me feel normal."
"I'll try." She kissed the fingers then released a string
of curses when she stood. Her digital camera was located first,
several photos snapped before Miranda could protest. Papers, folders,
swatches and all manner of desk materials began to find their way back to
their rightful spot. "I suppose I should warn you.
Marianne has been here once a week and paid full attention.
And, please don't drop the baby over this, she plans to let you have
at her wardrobe once you're feeling up to it."
There was much gaping and bulging of dark blue eyes. Her lips moved wordlessly
several times and she clutched Katherine more securely. "Marianne? As
in the woman who insists she gave birth to me and didn't swipe me from
another family, Marianne?"
"One in the same. She even thinks you could perhaps bring a few
things up for your dad the next time we go. She was really impressed
Mira, enough so that Jace continued giving her a tour when I had to leave
for a meeting. I showed her some of the sketches compared to your
original notes and ideas. She stayed here and studied them for an
hour then went out and purchased Vogue, Runway and a few fashion
books." Andy casually relayed the information while finishing up
around the office that was in need of serious fumigation. It reeked
of sex. She was less worried about their assistants smelling it than
what would happen to Miranda if Marianne showed up that afternoon which was
a distinct possibility. The woman that had never supported her
daughter's pursuits even once had had her interest shocked to life.
Relief flooded the older woman's eyes. "Do you know I was certain I
would not get a chance to dress her until she was laid out in a casket and
even then..." She stood up, her right leg not quite as cooperative as
it had been earlier nonetheless carried her across the room with almost
flawless steps. "This rooms smells like a brothel after
midnight." She smirked while covering Katherine's ears. "Someone
clearly fell down on the job when they installed the thing that cleans the
air. Why is good help impossible to find?"
"Because my darling, most of the staff is convinced you are a virgin
or it's rusted shut. Getting good help that understands otherwise is
impossible." Andy's eyes gleamed impishly. "She's
also had me write out notes of your entire career and details of what you do,
decisions, how, the entire affair. Seven pages and counting."
"They are such a sad little group of people by times." She almost
sounded sincere when she spoke of their employees. "That means
she'll have interesting facts to recite back to me as she tries to force
feed me strained peas." Miranda only wished she were kidding.
"They are, not that I mind. They keep their eyes and hands to
themselves this way. And that means Marianne would really like to accompany
us to Paris and help you any way she can." Dark eyelashes
fluttered like a hummingbird's wings.
"Paris?" Miranda shrieked and looked stricken.
"Mmmhmm. It's the best way to see what her baby does in action.
What, would you like me to tell her no? She'll be
heartbroken." Andy's grin grew. The teasing felt right.
Marianne in Paris could only be topped by the woman baby-napping Katherine.
"That is exactly what I want. No, no and no, no, no."
"I'm teasing Mira. Teasing. I promise. She won't be
in Paris." The office yes but Paris would be cruel to Miranda
who had yet to wrap her head around the slow, and now fast, evolution of
Miranda's nails clipped on the desk. "Just know, if I weren't
quite so desperate to get you home and have a redo of the past couple of
hours you would be so cut off. That was a horrible tease. Just
"So you keep warning me. Your clothes are ready." Andy
kissed them both then went to retrieve their things. They weren't
perfect but they were passable enough that if they left quickly no one
would notice. "I do have one other thing for my Christmas list
that I'm getting tomorrow."
Miranda looked at the clothes and wrinkled her nose. No way. She placed a
brief call to Elsie and ordered up new outfits for both of them; let them
all chatter. Noticing that Katherine was now asleep in the crook of her arm
she removed the bottle and wiped her little lips. "Christmas is more
fun if you let people give things to you," she chided.
"Oh you will be darling. Sort of." Calm self assurance
carried Andy around the desk until they were face to face. "I've
decided I'm taking your name. Priestly. I'll continue under Sachs at
work but in private, no."
Miranda didn't exactly remember the stroke or flat lining, today though she
was certain her heart just stopped. Andrea wanted her name. She
couldn't feel her arms; she glanced down at the baby and hoped she didn't
fall. Priestly wasn't her given name, it was one she'd chosen and
despite three tanked marriages she still owned it. It was hers and
Andrea wanted it. "Always the odd little journalist." she
quipped. It was so unexpected, huge. Her eyes misted as her
throat constricted causing her to have to gulp to get a breath. "That
sounds very acceptable." And that had sounded stilted and
awkward, Miranda's cheeks blazed with tell tale streaks. "Andrea, I
love you. That would make me...happy."
"I love you too." A soft, intimate smile appeared.
Marriage in ceremony or contract she had no interest in. They
were already married in a thousand contracts and the ceremony given how
entwined their lives were seemed an absurd, superfluous idea. Andy
trailed her fingers down her lover's neck then released a soft sigh.
Miranda really was back. How she loved her. "More
than anything. And before you ask, Priestly because it is you more
than your given never ever will be. I want it. Next week, we'll
see about the other things on my list. But first I believe you
mentioned something about me finally getting to try your steak."