“Hello?” Andy Sachs croaked into her phone, looking at the clock next to her bed. 5:38 am. 22 minutes before she was supposed to be up for the day. Ugh, this better be good.
“Andy? It’s Danielle,” her second assistant clarified needlessly.
“Yeah, got that,” Andy yawned, “What’s going on?”
“I’m sick-” as if to emphasize this point, Danielle started coughing, “-ugh, sorry. I’m not too sick to come in, but you remember how she got last time.”
“Only too vividly.”
Six months ago Danielle had a nasty, week long bout of the flu; and naturally Miranda wouldn’t touch anything that was, as she had so delicately put it, “infectious”. Of course this translated into Danielle manning the phones, looking on apologetically while Andy did everything from going on coffee runs, to picking up designers’ samples, to staying till well after 10:00 every night waiting for the Book. In other words, she was doing all the work that she was supposed to have left behind with her old position nearly three years ago. Which was apparently what she had to look forward to today as well. Fantastic.
Dragging herself out of bed, Andy said “Alright, I’m up. I’ll go get her coffee and see you in-“she was interrupted by yet another bout of coughing from her coworker, and felt a pang of sympathy.
“You sure you’re okay to come in, Dani? I can handle it today.” Andy almost certainly could not handle it today, but if her coworker really was sick, then she didn’t need to know that. Danielle had come through for Andy on more than one occasion, and Andy tried to return the favor whenever she could. Having a conscience sucked sometimes.
“Hush up, you know there’s no way I’m leaving you alone today of all days. I understand you’re the Dragon Tamer and all, but even you are no match for Miranda and the mood she’s bound to be in after the absolute disaster that was the Sitka shoot, Andy,” Danielle chuckled, “I’ll just pick up some cough syrup, I should be fine.”
Andy breathed a quiet sigh of relief, “Alright, if you say so. Thanks, Danielle.” Andy was so relieved that she didn’t even admonish Danielle for using her embarrassing office nickname like she normally would.
“Don’t mention it sugar. See you soon.”
Despite the fact that she had just cost Andy precious minutes of sleep, she felt a familiar surge of affection for Danielle. She had been Andy’s first (and only) hire following her own promotion to first assistant. Andy’s requirements had been simple: she needed someone who was smart enough to get the job done well, efficient enough to get it done quickly, and bearable enough to spend the requisite fifty-plus hours a week in their presence. Not to mention the ability to handle Miranda and her ever changing demands with grace. And, of course, Andy needed to be able to trust them not to throw her under the bus (or, um, taxi) like she had poor Emily.
Okay, on second thought, maybe her requirements weren’t so simple after all. Either way, Danielle got the job done. And she didn’t seem too interested in trying to take Andy’s place, either, so that was something. Because Andy would let nothing come between herself and Miranda. No, wait—my job. I’ll let nothing come between me and my job. Not Miranda. Right.
Andy shook her head. It was clearly time for coffee.
Miranda Priestly had been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Contrary to popular belief, she didn’t generally get all that much of a thrill from firing incompetent employees. Just because one does something often and well doesn’t mean that one necessarily enjoys doing it. Much like some of the other essential duties of that came with her position, such as public speaking or dealing with the press, it was something that she had learned to excel at through sheer force of will.
Not this, though. No, Miranda was going to absolutely relish firing this particular underling. The editor-in-chief had known for months now of Irv’s latest little plan to oust her. This time he hoped to replace her with Henrik Billings, the magazine’s 27 year old head of social media. 27 years old. Really, of all of Irv’s harebrained schemes, this one was easily the biggest slap in the face. Was the man even trying anymore? What could have possibly possessed him to think that this veritable child, with five years of experience in a barely relevant field, could even dream of doing half of what Miranda does every day? It was insulting.
Stepping out of the elevator and walking into her outer office, Miranda was surprised to see the first assistant’s desk filled. Miranda had decided to come in a little earlier this morning to prepare for the day ahead, arriving at 7:15 instead of her usual 8:00. She had expected to see only Danielle for at least another fifteen minutes.
“Good morning Andréa,” Miranda said as she tossed her jacket and bag onto Danielle’s desk. She raised a questioning eyebrow.
A pair of warm brown eyes looked up at her in surprise, though whether at Miranda’s early arrival or her unexpected pleasantry she couldn’t be sure. Miranda held back a smirk. My, but she was in a good mood this morning.
Andréa cleared her throat, “Good morning, Miranda. Danielle has a cold, so we thought it would be best if I took care of your coffee today. She should be here soon.”
Miranda gave a curt nod of acknowledgement before starting immediately in on her orders: “Call Marc Jacobs about those stockings he sent the other day. Tell him that I specifically asked for champagne pink, not garish cotton candy pink.” She rolled her eyes and took a seat at her desk, unsurprised to see Andréa trailing behind her, notepad in hand.
“Call my ex-husband and tell him no, we most certainly cannot rearrange our Thanksgiving plans. Our agreement was very clear; I don’t see why he thinks that I’m going change our plans with only a week’s notice. I need Henrik in my office at 7:55, and tell makeup to be here and ready to present their new color scheme for the February issue by no later than 8:05, because what they showed me yesterday was clearly some sort of sad practical joke.”
Miranda looked up to see Andréa still scribbling away, and used the moment of relative calm to take in the other woman’s outfit for the first time. The brunette’s dress was the latest from Chanel’s fall collection. Between the way the deep forest green brought out the chestnut tone of her eyes, and the way the a-line cut showed off her figure, it was incredibly flattering. An impressive choice. A safe choice, surely, but impressive nonetheless.
While the girl may have appeared to be a lost cause upon their first meeting three and a half years ago, her time at Runway had clearly taught Andréa much. In many ways, surely—but at the moment, the first that came to mind was her ability to use her slowly growing sense of style combined with her natural beauty to make herself truly stunning.
Objectively, of course.
Miranda looked up to see a slightly discomfited looking Andréa, clearly waiting to be dismissed.
Miranda tore her eyes away, turning instead to her computer, “Also, be sure to let me know immediately when Oscar calls. That’s all.”
It was 8:02 am, and Andy was trying her damnedest to eavesdrop on the conversation happening behind Miranda’s currently closed office doors. Looking across at Danielle, it was clear that this was what she was doing as well. From the look on her face, it apparently wasn’t working out so well for her either.
Although the voices inside were quiet, both women had been working for Miranda long enough to know when someone was about to get fired. Hell, working for Miranda for two weeks was long enough to figure that one out. Of all the mysteries that came with working for Miranda Priestly, this certainly wasn’t one of them.
It was then that Andy heard an all too familiar clacking as Julie, the junior assistant makeup director, practically jogged into the outer office. Following closely behind was her team, each looking more frantic than the one before.
Wide eyed, Julie turned to Andy, “Are we late? Am I fired?”
Before Andy could even open her mouth to respond, the doors to Miranda’s office flew open, a red faced Henrik Billings storming out of them.
“You can’t do this,” he seethed, whipping around to stand before the doorway to Miranda’s office.
“I assure you Mr. Billings, I can,” Miranda’s voice sounded vaguely amused as she strode towards her doorway as well.
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyers,” the man’s voice began to rise, “You have no proof. You can’t prove anything. You have nothing.”
“Well, I hardly think that six screenshots from 4 different women qualifies as nothing. But best of luck to you with your father’s lawyer friends. Goodness knows his connections have gotten you this far.”
“I—you—that’s,” Henrik appeared to be doing his best impression of a fish. His mouth opened and closed, looking for a retort and clearly finding none. Andy almost pitied the poor man.
“I’ll be very interested to see what they come up with,” Miranda carried on as if she hadn’t been interrupted, “But I suppose that you would know better than anyone, wouldn’t you Mr. Billings? After all, this is your… area of expertise.” Miranda gave her most bone chilling smile, the one that always forcibly reminded Andy of a lion ready to pounce.
“You bitch,” Henrik had apparently had found his voice again, and it was quickly raising into a shout, “You miserable old cunt, you’re enjoying this aren’t you? You’re only firing me because you’re intimidated by me. You know the board wants someone younger—someone more relatable—and you’re getting rid of anyone who fits the bill. It’s almost like you think that clinging onto your power will somehow change the fact that you’re just a sad old woman who’s got nothing to look forward to but dying alone.”
He laughed mirthlessly, “You’re pathetic.”
There seemed to be a collective intake of breath as everyone in the room turned to look at Miranda. Andy scowled. Oh, hell no. Alright, any pity she had previously possessed for this man had officially just evaporated. Andy picked up the phone to call security. You don’t work for Miranda Priestly without learning a thing or two about handling pissed off ex-employees.
“That won’t be necessary, Andréa.”
Miranda, for her part, looked bored. Well, it’s not like she hasn’t dealt with this before, Andy thought before Miranda continued, “Mr. Billings was just leaving.” She didn’t take her eyes off the man in front of her.
Henrik scowled and opened his mouth to retort, but Miranda cut him off, “But Henrik, I’m confused. Because you see, I’m not firing you because I’m intimidated by you. While I’m sure there are many who would be intimidated by your little degree in… what was it? Multimedia communications?”
She raised a disdainful eyebrow, “Yes, while I’m sure there are many who would be intimidated by that, I’m afraid I am not one of them.”
Miranda’s eyes were like ice, “No, I’m afraid it’s much simpler than that. I’m firing you because you spend more time sending lewd photos of yourself to my employees than you do in your office. And that’s not even touching on the way you obviously seem to believe that your father and his famously deep pockets somehow exempt you from the ever-arduous task of actually doing your job.” She was all but sneering, and at this point any evidence of her former amusement had vanished.
Nobody dared move. All traces of Henrik’s former smugness had vanished alongside the color in his face.
“That’s all.” Miranda turned on her heel and headed back in the direction of her desk, not bothering to look back to see a considerably shaken looking Henrik slouch out of the room, eyes glued to the floor.
Julie turned her terror-filled eyes towards Andy again, clearly trying to figure out what the hell she was supposed to do now.
“Well?” Miranda’s voice rang out in the same dangerously low tone as before, “Do you expect me to wait all day?”
Julie squeaked, and with that she and her team were jogging towards the inner office once again.
Miranda sighed, standing in the waiting area outside the office of Irv Ravitz. Danielle informed her not 10 minutes ago that Irv needed to see her about an urgent matter. Miranda rolled her eyes. Urgent. Of course. If it was really so urgent, she wouldn’t be standing here wasting what precious little time she had, would she? No, this was nothing more than some tired power play.
Miranda didn’t have time for her boss and his petty little games this morning. She was waiting for a call from Oscar De La Renta, and lest she want to wait until next week to hear from him, she needed to take it immediately. Not to mention the fact that the photos from what was supposed to be an elegant, wintry shoot in Sitka yesterday turned out looking like little more than amateur Yeti sightings. The photographers were complaining of a blizzard, as if a bit of snow was supposed to somehow explain to her their extraordinary incompetence.
Miranda watched the clock, her agitation growing by the minute. She didn’t particularly want to think about what was truly upsetting her. The very idea that she would let the words of some petulant ex-employee get under her skin was embarrassing. It wasn’t the more obvious of his insults that were getting to her—that she was nearly universally regarded as a bitch was hardly news.
No, she was far more perturbed by the latter half of his little tirade. “It’s almost like you think that clinging onto your power will somehow change the fact that you’re just a sad old woman who’s got nothing to look forward to but dying alone.” It was as if the boy had searched into the darkest, most unpleasant recesses of her mind and spat back out the first thing he found there. Christ, he even called her pathetic. Miranda Priestly had been called many things in her life, but pathetic was most certainly not one of them.
What made it rankle even more was that not only had there been an audience for his odious little rant, but that she had seen to it herself that they would be there. She’d wanted word of Henrik’s downfall to spread quickly, and the best way to do that was to ensure that Runway’s chattiest department was there to see it firsthand. She knew she had no one to blame but herself for the sickeningly familiar bubble of anxious shame caught in her chest, and it was infuriating. Having someone to blame at least gave her the satisfaction of eventual revenge.
“Miranda! Always good to see you,” Miranda turned to see Irv walking towards her, looking entirely too pleased with himself.
Miranda resisted the urge to narrow her eyes in suspicion, instead opting for the most intimidating smile she could muster, “Likewise. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Come in, come in,” Irv gestured to his office, “Best to discuss these things in private.”
Irv’s office was everything that Miranda’s was not. Where she preferred the simplicity of light tones and minimalistic décor for her workspace, Irv’s seemed determined to stuff his office full of as much bulky, dark furniture as he possibly could. It sucked all light right out of the place, and made it dreary at best (and claustrophobic at worst).
Looking over Irv’s shoulder towards his oversized desk, Miranda was surprised to see a man she did not know sitting in front of it. Moving to sit to the man’s left, she raised a questioning eyebrow to the CEO as he settled behind his desk.
“Miranda, this is Steve Thompson. Steve, Miranda.”
“Delighted, I’m sure,” Miranda nodded, feeling anything but. “Now, would either of you care to explain to me why I am here, instead of in my office preparing for the run-through due to begin in—” she glanced at the hideous old grandfather clock sitting adjacent to Irv’s desk—“twenty two minutes?”
“Well, Steve here had some very interesting news to share with me this morning. Apparently you’re in a bit of trouble with the Office of Immigration, Miranda,” Irv smirked, “Something about failing to fill out the proper paperwork for residency renewal, and leaving the country in October even after your official request to do so was denied. Twice.”
Miranda stared at him, incredulous, “What on Earth are you talking about? My visa is due to be renewed this year. I haven’t been informed of any issues with my paperwork.”
Steve cleared his throat next to her, “Actually, Ms. Priestly, that’s not true. We have evidence showing that you have been contacted no less than five times about the due date for your paperwork being moved up to September 12th, 2009.”
Miranda shook her head, “Nonsense. If that were the case, then my legal team would have been informed months ago. And I don’t see what any of this has to do with him,” she turned to glare at Irv, whose smirk only grew. “I should have been contacted directly. This is an incredible breach of privacy.”
“Your legal team was contacted, actually. You requested several years ago that your documents be sent directly to the office of Harrison and Gruman. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to meet with Mr. Ravitz, as you have responded to neither the Office of Immigration nor your legal team these last two months. He needed to be informed that your visa is being effectively revoked, and that continuing to employ you would constitute a federal offense.” Steve paused, clearly waiting for a response.
Miranda’s eyes widened, “…Revoked. My visa has been revoked?” She felt her heart begin to race, “What? What does this mean?”
The officer ran his hand through what was left of his hair, “Well, it means that your visa is no longer—”
“Yes, I know what it means,” Miranda hissed, “But what do you plan to do about this? This is obviously some sort of clerical error on your part. I can’t be held responsible for the many ineptitudes of the federal government.”
The man began to look downright frightened. Good. “Well ma’am, it means that you’ll need to reapply for a visa. In the meantime, you’ll be deported back to Canada until your application has been renewed. The whole process usually takes up to a year.”
Miranda felt the ground drop from beneath her feet.
“Deported? I’m being deported? For a year?” She couldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t believe it. “I’m from Montreal for god’s sake, is that really necessary? I’ve lived in this country for more than thirty years! My entire life is here, my career, my family—”
Miranda’s heart went cold as she thought of the most important thing of all, “And what of my girls? They’re American citizens. Am I to just drop them with their father for the next year?” No. No no no.
Irv cut in, “Well, I won’t claim to know what’s to happen with your family, but I can help with any confusion you might have about your position here at Elias Clarke,” Miranda turned to stare at him.
“Unfortunately, if you’re being deported, you will no longer be able to work for Runway.” His greasy smile told Miranda just exactly how unfortunate he truly thought this was, “We’d be forced to replace you, and right now the most qualified candidate for the job is Mr. Henrik Billings.”
Red tinted the edges of Miranda’s vision. She closed her eyes and counted to five. “Henrik Billings. The boy I fired not two hours ago.”
“The very same,” came Irv’s smug voice.
She turned to look once again at the mousy little man sitting next to her, her mind searching frantically for some sort of loophole and coming up woefully short. “There has to be something that we can do about this.”
“I’m afraid there’s nothing to do, ma’am. You broke federal law last month when you left the country for France—”
“Of course I went to France you sad little man, do you have any idea who I am?” Miranda was quickly losing any and all sense of her usual decorum, and she could feel herself beginning to border on hysterical. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. “If you truly thought that the editor in chief of the most successful fashion magazine in the Western World was going to—” She was interrupted by a loud rapping at Irv’s office door.
“Miranda?” Came Andréa’s muffled voice through the thick mahogany, “Miranda, I’m really sorry to bother you like this, but De La Renta is on the line.”
Miranda’s heart clenched unexpectedly, thinking of yet another person she would have to leave behind because of this mess. This was something that not even Andréa could fix. It wasn’t as if she could—
—or could she? It was legal now, after all, and there were certainly worse fates than this. Yes, much worse fates than this. Miranda would know.
Her head whipped around to stare at the door, her mind racing. Andréa. Andréa was the loophole that Miranda was searching for. Andréa could save her.