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Take Me to the River

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Rather than go home after her disastrous meeting with Miranda, Andy had wandered the streets of Manhattan pondering why she had thought coming back here was going to fix anything.

By the time she got home, Lily was long in bed which allowed her the peace and quiet to sink deeper and deeper into maudlin thoughts about her life.

She had been doing well the last few months, but as she lay in bed and stared at the ceiling she realised that progress had been fragile at best.

Running away, again.

The words played on repeat in her head.

Is that what she had been doing?

She thought back over everything that had happened and concluded that perhaps Miranda had been right. When things hadn’t worked out at Runway, she had taken off in spectacular fashion. When journalism had proven itself to be far from what she had expected, she had run to Boston, to Nate. And when that had eventually failed, she had come running back to New York. 

When she made this move she had genuinely thought it would be a fresh start, that it would help her find answers. However, maybe it was just another in a long line of similar decisions where rather than face her failure, she ran away from it, the result being this life that she had neither expected nor particularly wanted. 

Sleep was slow in coming, and when it did, it was restless. By the time her alarm woke her at seven a.m. she felt like she had only just closed her eyes. She considered rolling over and going back to sleep, but knew today would only be that much harder if she was left alone with her thoughts for any longer.

‘Where were you last night?’ Lily asked as Andy stumbled into the kitchen in search of coffee.

‘Editorial meeting,’ Andy said, her voice hoarse. ‘It took me an hour and half to get home from Manhattan.’

‘Hey, you wanted to work in the city with the big shots, don’t blame Brooklyn for your weaknesses.’

Andy simply nodded as she grabbed the pot and poured herself a huge mug before dumping half a gallon of milk in it.

‘That’s not coffee, you get that right? That’s a milkshake.’

‘I know,’ Andy said, not bothering to disagree as she moved towards the table and slumped into a chair.

‘Who are you editing that’s keeping you up so late? Must be someone big to have you working outside of office hours.’

Andy’s brain took a moment to catch up and she looked up to find Lily staring at her. ‘Yeah, someone pretty big,’ she said, trying to sound casual.

Lily peered at her closely, and after years of friendship Andy knew she had been caught. It was too early in the morning for her to effectively employ cloak and dagger techniques and hide the feelings that were probably written all over her face.

‘What the hell is going on? That was the vaguest response I’ve ever heard, not to mention you look like absolute shit. Have you even slept?’

Andy leaned back in her chair and stared at the ceiling for a moment, her mug still gripped between her hands as she took a breath and faced the music, knowing Lily would only hound her for weeks on end otherwise. ‘I’m bound by a non-disclosure, so let’s just say you’re not going to like who it is. Well, after last night, was.’

Lily was quiet for a moment, before the inevitable ‘No,’ slipped emphatically from her mouth.

‘Yes,’ Andy replied, ‘and that’s all I can say.’

‘She knew it was you that day, didn’t she?’ Lily said in disbelief.

Andy chuckled darkly, ‘Of course she did. Like I said, nothing gets past her.’

‘How long has this been going on?’

‘Three months or so.’

That gave Lily pause. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ she asked quietly.

Andy sighed. ‘You know why, Lil. I knew you wouldn’t be happy.’

Andy saw the hurt in her friends eyes and immediately realised how stupid she had been.

She couldn't get anything right, it seemed. 

‘I should have said something,’ Andy said, ‘I’m sorry. It just...it wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. A couple of evenings here and there to help with editing a personal project, that’s all. I didn’t know how to explain it to you. I didn't know how to explain it to myself, to be honest. I had a meeting with her and suddenly contracts were signed and off we were again, like some strange repeat of the past. Maybe I thought it was an opportunity to make up for my mistakes? I don't know.’

‘What on Earth would you need to make up for?’

‘Running out in Paris definitely wasn’t one of my best moments. I was so young, and so stupid. I guess this was an opportunity to prove something to myself, and maybe to Miranda as well.’

‘So what happened last night? Punishment? Payback?’

Andy set her mug down on the table and turned it anti-clockwise, the base rubbing against the old wood. ‘No, I honestly don’t think it was. I pushed her on an issue and it didn’t end well. Things got a little personal.’

‘You mean she attacked you,' Lily said, and when Andy didn't deny it her face hardened, 'who does she think she is?’ she continued, voice rising, signalling she was about to spiral into a rage.

‘The same person she’s always been,’ Andy admitted. ‘I should have known better.’

Lily’s rage cooled down to a simmer at that. ‘Are you okay?’ she asked as she looked at her closely. She must look like shit. 

‘Yeah, I’ll be fine. I just…do you think I run away from my problems?’ Andy asked, eyes dropping to her mug.

‘You stuck it out in a marriage which took you all over the country. You supported a husband who didn’t necessarily support you all that well, for years. No, Andy, I don’t think you run away from your problems. I think you dig in, and in the case of Miranda, apparently, you face them head on.’

Andy looked up at that and could see the fierceness in Lily’s eyes. She could feel tears beginning to well up. ‘Fuck,’ she choked out as Lily got to her feet and moved around to the back of her chair, hugging her tightly.

‘Christ, Andy. Is that honestly what you think of yourself? You’ve rocked it through three different professions, in multiple cities and you have a job in one of the biggest new millennial imprints in New York. I know I’ve been pushing you to write, and I still think you should, but hell girl you’ve been floating on cloud nine with this new job. You’ve been alive working for that crazy blonde bitch. This wasn’t running. This was coming home.’

Andy burst into tears at that. She was tired and emotional but the words Lily had just given her were exactly what she needed.

‘Do not let her get into your head,’ Lily ordered. ‘You know how she plays. There’s nothing fucking wrong with you.’

‘Thanks, Lil,’ Andy said wetly as she reached blindly for a tissue.

Lily reached for her and pressed a handful into her hands before kissing her on the head. ‘I love you, idiot. You know that, right?’

Andy blew her nose. ‘Yeah, I know.’

‘Christ, Han Solo in the house. You going to leave me hanging like Princess Leia?’

Andy laughed wetly at that. ‘I love you too, Lil.’

‘Good, now what are you going to do? Keep sitting around crying, or you going to get dressed and show that bitch just who runs shit in NYC?’

Andy sniffed and shook it off, she was already beginning to feel like herself again. ‘God, why the hell am I crying?’

Lily laughed heartily at that. ‘Exactly. Now, come on star publisher. It’s time to go and kick some ass.’

And Andy did just that.

She went to work with a new fire in her belly. She put Miranda out of her mind and threw herself into her work. She had come back to New York to carve a new path for herself, something new and exciting. Yet, here she was, in the middle of brand new imprint and rather than embracing that, she was wasting her time going back over old ground. It was time to put her time at Runway, and with Miranda to bed. Some things just weren't meant to be, and the two of them together only seemed to spell absolute disaster. 

She worked non-stop all morning and through lunch. It wasn't until Catlin stormed into her office sometime in the afternoon that she took a moment to breathe.

‘What the hell is going on with you today?’ Catlin demanded.

Andy looked up from the manuscript she had been pouring over. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘You. You’re all guns blazing and working like an insane person. You’re making me look bad, so fucking stop it!’

Andy pushed her glasses up onto her head and leaned back in her seat. ‘A big project I was hoping to bring in fell through last night,’ she said, skirting around the real issue as much as possible. ‘That means I need to find something to fill its shoes. Plus, I realised maybe I haven’t been focusing enough of my energy here.’

‘Oh trust me, you’re doing more than enough. So, chill out before I start to think you’re gunning for my job. The Head of Publishing already has a hard-on for you, he wouldn’t take much convincing.’

‘Trust me, I’m perfectly happy where I am right now.’

Catlin eyed her carefully before accepting her statement at face value. ‘Anyway, you said you lost me a money maker? You talking about that big secret project with Miranda Priestly?’ Catlin said matter-of-factly as she dropped into a chair in front of Andy’s desk.

Andy’s mouth fell open. ‘How did yo—

Catlin stared at her like she was an idiot. ‘Seriously? This is New York publishing. Nothing stays secret for long. I met with someone from Random House a couple of weeks ago and she said Priestly has been interviewing editors for months and word was there is something big in the works,’ Catlin shrugged, ‘plus, I saw you take the elevator up to Runway last week,’ she added with a smirk.  

‘You mean you stalked me?’

‘I was just curious; I knew you were hiding something. You are kind of a terrible liar. It didn’t take much to put two and two together after that phone call you got at the office and that day you came in wearing Tory Burch and a pair of fuck me heels for some mysterious meeting.’

‘Well why didn’t you say anything!?’

‘You seemed to be enjoying this undercover editor thing you had going on; I didn’t want to ruin it.’

‘Catlin,’ Andy growled.

‘So what happened?’ Catlin said, leaning forward in her seat and planting her chin in her open palm and her elbow on the desk so she could eyeball Andy.

Andy chuckled sardonically. ‘We had a…difference of opinion, and apparently I had forgotten exactly who I was dealing with.’

Catlin winced. ‘That bad?’

‘Oh yes, Miranda doesn’t hold back when she has something to say.’

‘I hope you gave as good as you got,’ Catlin said, sitting up with a frown.  

‘I got a few shots in, but I was outmatched by the end of it.’

‘Jeez, Sachs. That’s rough,’ Catlin said sympathetically.

Andy shrugged it off. ‘I should have known what I was getting into. Miranda is Miranda, and nothing is ever going to change that. At least I managed to survive longer than the others,’ she laughed.  

‘That book is never going to see the light of day,’ Catlin said. ‘It’s a shame though. I don’t suppose you could tell me what it was about?’

‘It wouldn’t be worth my pitiful savings account. That NDA was iron clad.’

‘Well, I’ll have to live in hope that some poor bastard decides to take it on in your stead. Do you think she’d give me a crack at it?’ Catlin said wistfully.

‘Hey, I won’t stand in your way,’ Andy smirked.

‘Yeah, on second thoughts,’ Catlin said as she eyed Andy’s tired eyes.

‘Hey, I do not look that bad!’

‘Check in the mirror sister, you look like you went on a bender last night.’

‘Ugh,’ Andy groaned, reaching to open her desk drawer for her compact mirror. 

Catlin eyed her pitifully. 'Jesus, just go home,' she said, getting to her feet. 'You've done enough work for an entire week today, and you seriously look like you need a good eight hours. But, the caveat is you have to sacrifice your evening tomorrow to drink with me. There's a story here, and I want to hear the rest of it. Andy Sachs,' Catlin said, holding up her hands and gesturing like her name was up in lights, 'Runway assistant.' 

Andy rolled her eyes. 'Fine, fine. Deal.' 

'Good,' Catlin said, giving her a genuinely warm smile which didn't quite belay the hint of worry that Andy could see directed towards her. 

Andy found herself grinning idiotically at that. 

‘What?’ Catlin said, screwing up her face as she took in Andy’s expression.

‘You’re just a big emotional marshmallow really, aren’t you?’ Andy teased.

‘Christ, go home Sachs. You’ve officially jumped the shark,’ Catlin said, storming out the way she came.

‘I won’t tell anyone,’ Andy called out after her retreating form.

A middle finger over her boss’s shoulder was the only response she received.

 

*

 

It was well after midnight when Andy’s phone roused her from sleep. She reached around blindly for it, eventually finding it underneath a pillow she had tossed aside at some point in the night.

She stared at the screen and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

No, actually, that was a lie. She absolutely could.

She hit ‘accept’ and put the phone to her ear. ‘It’s after midnight, Miranda. This had better be good.’

She was met with a few beats of silence before Miranda spoke down the line. ‘I’m a very private person, Andrea.'

Andy dropped her head back onto her pillow and pinched her brow against the wave of frustration she felt building instantaneously. It was too damn late for this conversation. ‘Wow, I never would have guessed. Christ, Miranda, are you being serious with this right now?’ she said, not bothering to censor herself.

‘Perhaps this was a mistake,’ Miranda said, her tone hardening as if on cue.

‘Oh, really? What gave it away? The fact that it’s,’ she pulled her phone away from her ear to check the time, ‘12:52 a.m. on a Tuesday?’ she finished sarcastically. ‘I don’t work for you anymore, if you’ll recall.’

‘You signed a contract,’ Miranda reminded her, ‘or have you forgotten that little detail?’  

‘So sue me then,' Andy said tiredly. She couldn't care less in that moment, and somehow she doubted that even Miranda, in all of her pettiness, would waste her time trying pin her for breach of contract. 'I’m going back to sleep.’

Miranda sighed. ‘Andrea, wait,’ she asked, her tone suddenly as tired as Andy's.

‘For what?' Andy snapped, the bitterness slipping into her tone. 'I think you covered everything you needed to last night.’ 

Miranda didn’t have a response for that one.

Andy sighed, unsurprised. ‘Just say what you called to say, Miranda.’

‘Fine, I apologize,’ Miranda said frankly, ‘for what I said. My reaction was out of proportion to the situation.’

Andy couldn’t believe what she was hearing. In the entire time she had worked for Miranda, both this time and the last, she hadn’t heard her apologize to a single person. She was floored. So much so that she was sure she was gaping at the ceiling.

‘You can take your jaw off the floor now, Andrea,’ Miranda said knowingly.

‘I’m sorry, but out of all of the scenarios I could have imagined right now, that definitely wasn’t one of them. Could you repeat that? I’m beginning to think this is a very warped dream.’

‘I can assure you it’s not. I called because what happened yesterday was unacceptable. You tried to apologize for prying and I didn’t allow you to. I should have made it clear to you from the beginning that that particular topic was off limits,’ Miranda continued, apparently emboldened by her ability to apologize without the bringing on the apocalypse.

‘Okay,’ Andy said.

‘Okay?’ Miranda asked, puzzled.

‘Apology accepted,’ Andy replied.

‘That’s all it took? A simple apology?’ Miranda said.

‘That tends to be how apologies work when you mean them, Miranda,' Andy said, shaking her head. 'Now, I’m going back to sleep, I have work in the morning and not all of us can survive on five hours sleep. Call my office tomorrow if you want to discuss my contractual obligations. Night,’ Andy finished before hitting the end button and flinging her phone across the bed.