Actions

Work Header

The Proposal

Chapter Text

Andy knocked once again on Irv’s office door. She knew Miranda would be pissed that she was interrupting her meeting with the CEO, but she didn’t exactly have a choice in the matter. Andy knew it was more than her job was worth to let Miranda miss this call, and she didn’t particularly relish the idea of spending the rest of her working life at TV Guide.

Just as Andy was beginning to consider letting herself in, the door opened. But where she expected to see a particularly irritated-looking editor-in-chief staring back at her, she instead saw something considerably more frightening: Miranda was smiling at her.

Miranda had dozens of facial expressions. Dozens of minutely different ways to silently pronounce her displeasure. To anyone who wasn’t paying attention, most of these expressions seemed very similar (if not identical). Andy, however, prided herself on being fluent in the language that was Miranda Priestly. A curl of the lip was something completely separate a sneer. The meaning of a raised eyebrow varied in millimeters. There were four different eye-rolls, each worlds apart in their meaning.

Miranda’s smiles were much fewer, however. Or… scratch that. Miranda had almost as many different smiles as she did sneers, and their meanings varied just as drastically. She just used them much less often.

Andy had been lucky enough to see some of Miranda’s real smiles a handful of times over the years. When she was truly smiling, Miranda was nothing short of radiant.

The smile currently being directed at Andy, however, was not.

“Andréa, darling, come in. You’re here right on time, as always. I was just telling them the news,” Miranda gave her a meaningful look. Whatever the hell that meaning was supposed to be, however, was completely lost on Andy. So much for her apparent fluency.

“Oh. Um. Right. The news,” Andy spluttered. What the hell was she talking about? What news? Did Andy forget something? And since when did Miranda call her darling?

“It’s all right dear, they already know about the engagement,” Miranda put her hand on the small of Andy’s back to lead her towards the desk at the center of the room, and her brain promptly broke.

“Right. The engagement,” Andy replied. Thoroughly distracted by the pleasant warmth now radiating from Miranda’s hand at the small of her back, she then proceeded to break one of the very first rules she learned at Runway: Never ask Miranda anything.

“Which engagement would that be, again?” Andy felt a firm pinch on her back and jumped, barely withholding a squeak.

Miranda gave one of her fake, airy little laughs, “Our engagement, Andréa. There’s no need to pretend any longer, darling. I’ve just finished telling Irv and Mr. Thompson here all about it.”

Andy finally turned to notice the other two people she had initially been too overwhelmed to notice: Irv, who was wearing a bland smile that did little to hide his obvious displeasure, and a mousy little man whose name she’d already forgotten, looking nothing short of petrified. Well, at least that was one normal thing about this interaction.

Andy’s brain snapped back to the conversation at hand. Our engagement? Andy thought.

The word “engagement” only brought one situation to mind, but Miranda couldn’t possibly mean—

“It looks like we’re going to be forced to move up the ceremony, unfortunately. I know how set you were on a spring wedding, but with a few adjustments I’m sure that an autumn wedding can be just as breathtaking,” Miranda continued.

Oh. Oh.

Okay, or maybe she could possibly mean—

“The—the wedding.” Stuttering, Andy could barely get the words out. “Y-you’re—you’re talking about our… wedding?” She coughed, having managed to choke on her own saliva. Eyes watering, she turned to see Miranda staring at her with wide eyes. Instead of the anger she expected to see there, irritation at Andy for not being able to read her mind at this of all times, she instead saw something that looked almost pleading.

Andy knew better than anyone else how incredibly difficult it was to tell an angry Miranda Priestly “no”. She had been forced to do it on more than one occasion, and though it became slightly less terrifying each time, she was still grateful to escape the situation with both her job and her life intact each time.

Now, faced with an apparently desperate Miranda Priestly, Andy knew that telling her “no” simply wasn’t an option. It was a look she had seen only once before, and Andy felt just as helpless now as she had on that day three years ago.

Andy stood next to the town car, watching Miranda weave her way upstairs through the flashing lights and shouting voices of the press with her usual grace. The older woman’s words still rang in her head. I see a great deal of myself in you. The words filled her with so many different feelings that she didn’t even know where to begin. But the one that scared her the most, the one that screeched her mind to a halt and made her want to flee, was the pride that swelled in her chest.

There was shame, of course. And fear. Not to mention outrage. But Andy knew she would be lying if she said she didn’t feel at least a little proud to be compared to Miranda Priestly by the woman herself, and this was the thought that made her entire body tense as if ready to bolt. After all, this was a person who had sacrificed absolutely everything, even and especially her own happiness, at the altar of her career. Sure, she was successful, but at what cost? Were those really Andy’s only two options? Personal misery or professional ruin?

It was at that moment that Miranda turned her head to the side, likely to give Andy another string of murmured orders, and stopped in her tracks. Turning around completely, Miranda’s eyes searched for Andy’s own in a way that, to any passerby, would seem as calm and collected as any of her other actions. But Andy could see the slight furrow of Miranda’s brow, the tight set of her lips. She could see the way that the other woman’s eyes darted frantically over her lowered sunglasses before landing finally upon Andy.  

Blue eyes met brown, and Andy felt frozen in place by the look she saw there. Miranda’s eyes were shining with emotion, her eyebrow raised in an unspoken question. Andy stared straight back, raising her own in return. She refused to back down, not now. Not today.

Miranda held her gaze, and Andy saw in them the same vulnerability that had been there the night before, when they spoke of her impending divorce. People say that eyes are the windows to the soul; that they will speak when our voices fail us. In that moment, Andy knew they were correct. Because with her eyes, Miranda was pleading Andy to stay in a way she knew that the other woman would never say with words. But for Andy, it was enough.

As she returned Miranda’s piercing gaze, she decided in that moment that she would stay. She would stay and show Miranda, herself, and everyone else that she could make something of herself without sacrificing her happiness. That she could work her way to the top without stepping on others along the way.

Nodding, she followed Miranda up the steps.

All of this took place within the span of a few heartbeats, of course. But for Andy (and for Miranda as well, she suspected), this moment changed everything.

Andy took a deep breath and cleared her throat. She had no idea what the hell was going on, but decided to trust Miranda enough to go along with it. For now, at least.

“Right. Sorry about that. What were you saying? About um… about our… wedding?”

The relief on Miranda’s face was palpable. She opened her mouth to respond, but before she could say anything, the man whose name Andy still couldn’t for the life of her remember spoke up.

“Well Ms. Priestly, before you and Ms…”

“Sachs,” Miranda and Andy chimed together.

“Right. Well, before you and Ms. Sachs start planning out the specifics, I would suggest first stopping by the immigration office. You’ll need to fill out the appropriate forms before you’re able to do much else.” He ran a hand through his hair, clearly about as comfortable with telling Miranda Priestly what to do as the average person would be with handling a tarantula.

“Yes, obviously.” Miranda narrowed her eyes at the officer, “I have done this before, as you are aware.”

God, I hope not, Andy mused bitterly, I’m pretty sure that springing this on one person is quite enough, thanks.

“Yes, yes, of course Ms. Priestly,” The man was tripping over his words, “My apologies Ms. Priestly. Best of luck to the both of you, and congratulations.” He nodded towards Andy.

Andy was spared the need to try and remember how to form words again when Irv spoke up for the first time since she entered the room. He wore the same bland smile as before, but his eyes were filled with fury.

“Yes, congratulations ladies. You know Miranda, years ago I had heard rumors around the water cooler of your preference for the gentler sex. I had written it off as office gossip at the time, but apparently there was some truth to those tales.” Andy stifled a gasp, and felt Miranda’s hand on her back tighten. She knew Irv and Miranda hated each other, but normally they at least attempted to appear civil.

Irv continued, turning his gaze to Andy, “I suppose this would also explain why you’ve lasted so long as her assistant, eh, Andy? Come March you’ll have been here twice as long as any of Miranda’s other assistants in the twenty some-odd years she’s been editor, did you know that? Four years,” He shook his head to himself, and Andy wanted to smack the smirk off his greasy little face. “Seems a bit less impressive when you think about it this way, though, doesn’t it? It’s a real shame, kid. A real shame. But I suppose it would explain a couple of things that’ve had people scratching their heads these last few years.”

Andy could practically feel the rage coming off Miranda in waves. The hand still lingering on the small of her back was trembling faintly.

“I wouldn’t throw threats around so idly, Irving. After all, I’m hardly the first person to fall for their assistant, am I?” Miranda raised her eyebrows, clearly waiting for an answer.

Irv didn’t say anything, but his silence said more than words ever could.

Another fake smile. “No, I didn’t think so. That could get quite embarrassing if people learned of Sheryl, couldn’t it?” She shook her head, “But we wouldn’t want that. Office adultery is a messy business, or so I’ve been told. I wouldn’t know.”

Silence filled the room.

The apparently Nameless Man cleared his throat. “Ah, well. I think that about covers it. Best of luck to you two ladies, and it was a pleasure meeting all three of you.” Without waiting for a response, he stood up, nodded to each of them in turn, and all but sprinted out the door. Andy had never envied anyone more.

The silence stretched on for so long that Andy was beginning to consider fleeing as well, before Miranda blessedly broke the silence.

“You have threatened the happiness of three of the most important people in my life today. My daughters, and my… my Andréa. It could hardly be said that I’m a forgiving person at the best of times. But this? Rest assured, Irv. This will not be forgiven.” Miranda’s voice was low, her stare cutting. “Nor forgotten.”

‘My Andréa’? Andy thought, stupefied, Since when am I Miranda’s anything at all? She clenched her hands, not appreciating the warm tingle that formed in her belly at the words.

Irv returned her glare balefully, but said nothing. He didn’t need to, really.

Miranda turned around and opened the door. “Come along, Andréa. It appears we have an appointment with the Office of Immigration.” She sighed, “My very favorite place.”

 ----------------- 

The ensuing car ride to the Immigration Offices was nothing short of the most uncomfortable thirty minutes of Miranda Priestly’s life. Considering the vast expanse of uncomfortable moments she had to choose from, this was certainly saying something.

Andréa was obviously stunned into silence. Miranda was as well, if she were being honest with herself. And it wasn’t as if she were exactly a natural conversationalist even on her best of days. Which this most certainly was not. In fact, this day was easily one of the worst of her life.

What in God’s name had she been thinking? She hadn’t been. That much, at least, was obvious. She was desperate, close to hysterical, and when she’d heard Andréa’s voice… it had simply been the first thing to come to mind.

Oh, dear. Miranda didn’t even want to think about what her therapist would have to say about that.

Her lawyer had certainly had enough to say about it on the phone earlier. She called Troy herself as soon as she left Irv’s office, and he had been even less helpful than usual. The man absolutely insisted that his office had received no word from Immigration, but Miranda doubted this was anything more than a lie to save himself from what was sure to be a costly lawsuit. That would have to be dealt with later, however. Miranda had more pressing matters to deal with at present.

Yes, much more pressing matters. Such as her current bafflement at how Andréa had gone along with her scheme so readily. I shouldn’t be surprised, she supposed. The girl did every other ridiculous thing Miranda asked of her without question, why should this be any different?

Because it is different, Miranda thought miserably. How could she honestly expect Andréa to go through with this? How could she possibly expect her very young, very straight, and not to mention very uninterested employee to marry her? She couldn’t.

No, she couldn’t do this. There had to be another way. Hadn’t there? Miranda thought back on her past dealings with Immigration over the decades and felt her stomach clench; she knew the answer immediately. This truly was her only option.

Is it really worth it? Came a thought unbidden, Is it worth trampling over yet another person that I care for? What had happened with Nigel was one thing—he was hurt, obviously, and their longtime friendship had suffered for it. For a time, at any rate. But not a year later she was able to make it up to him; ensuring his own well-deserved spot as editor of Runway London seemed to rectify things quickly enough.

This, though… there was no quick fix for this. She asked herself once more: Is it really worth it? Miranda may be the Dragon Lady, but lord, she had a conscience. She was only human, after all.

Hearing her phone beep, Miranda was pulled out of her reverie by a text from Caroline. Putting on her glasses, she unlocked her phone to see a photo of Caroline and Patricia (What was it her girls had called it? A ‘selfie’?) laying on the couch together in the den, both looking rather pathetic.

[10:27 AM] CPP: I read sumwhere that puppy cuddles r vital for boosting the immune system. xx

Miranda smiled despite herself. Caroline was home sick with a particularly nasty cold. Cara couldn’t get to the house until noon, so her daughter was under strict orders to send hourly photographic evidence of her wellbeing until the nanny arrived.

[10:28 AM] MP: Best go find a puppy then, 7 years is certainly too old for that title. Glad to see you’re both resting, Bobbsey.

[10:28 AM] CPP: :P

Putting her phone away again, Miranda found herself wondering how much time she had left with her daughters. Her brief moment of respite quickly ended as she felt her heart fill with dread. She blinked back sudden tears. My babies.

Miranda had dedicated much of her time these last few years to knitting her little family back together. Her divorce from Stephen had been a particularly nasty one, and her marriage to him had been only slightly less so. The tension between them was palpable within months of saying “I do”, and her girls had suffered dearly for it. Three years of constant arguments, loaded silences, and slammed doors between the adults in their lives had done them no good.

And really, she only had herself to blame. She had married Stephen for the sole purpose of providing her daughters with a proper family, and instead she came close to losing the only family that truly mattered. The girls very nearly left to live with their father. The very thought of losing the two people she loved most in the world ripped Miranda apart from the inside out, and she knew that something must be done. Immediately.

It had taken the words of Cassidy, the more pensive of her children, to make Miranda finally understand.

“We don’t need another dad to make a family. We’re already a family. Plus we already have a dad, too, and he’s enough just the way he is. Just like you.” Cassidy looked at her seriously, “All we want is you, mom. Just you. Just the three of us, together.”

“Yeah,” Caroline added, “What she said. Just please don’t make us have another step dad. Okay?”

Miranda was open-mouthed with shock. “Okay.”

And that had settled it. Miranda not in the habit of denying her daughters of anything they asked for. If their mother was what they wanted, then their mother was what they would get.

And so it came to be that Miranda had spent these last three years devoting as much of her time as was physically possible, what with her already constantly full schedule, being as present with her children as she could be.

Doing things like taking extra care to be home by 7:30 for dinner each night, and scheduling around things like dance recitals and (god help her) soccer games. Proclaiming Sunday afternoons and evenings “Family Days”, and moving mountains to make sure that she was there upon their arrival home from their Father’s house each week.

Of course, this translated into many sleepless nights spent catching up on work missed, and being in the office every Saturday the girls were with their father to make up for precious hours lost. But Caroline and Cassidy were happier and more well adjusted than ever before, and that was all that mattered.

How could she possibly take that away from them now, when things were finally so good? How could she leave them with their father for a year while she wiled the months away in Canada, of all places? What kind of mother would that make her?

What am I going to do?

She closed her eyes, already knowing the answer and hating herself for it. Whatever I must.

And if what must be done to keep her daughters close was to force an innocent employee to marry her, then so be it.

Miranda took a steadying breath. She was nothing if not decisive. “Andréa, call Troy to set up an in person meeting first thing tomorrow morning. Tell him I expect a full explanation, and to be ready to pore over every single detail of the paperwork for our fiancée visa. Twice.”

When Andréa answered with nothing but silence, Miranda looked over at her. The younger woman was staring out the window, sitting perfectly still but for the strand of hair twirling around her fingers.

“Andréa.” Miranda’s voice was gentler this time, if only just. She was met only with more silence.

Just as she was struggling to think of something else to say, anything else, Andréa finally spoke.

“You don’t get to do that,” her voice was deadly quiet as she turned in her seat to face Miranda. “You don’t get to throw… throw a marriage on me, you don’t get to turn my entire world upside down, put my career on the line, and then pretend like nothing happened.”

Miranda opened her mouth to respond, but Andréa cut her off. “No, Miranda. I think you’ve gotten to do plenty of talking about this. All of the talking, actually. No, it’s my turn now.” Andréa’s stare was hard.

“Did you stop and think for even one second about how this would affect me? Did you consider the fact that you’re putting my entire career at risk? Everything I’ve worked so hard for these last few years?” She shook her head, “No, of course you didn’t. Because that would require thinking of somebody other than yourself for once.”

Andréa’s voice was beginning to rise, “I mean Jesus Miranda, what the hell kind of plan even is this? What are your kids gonna say?” Her eyes widened with a new thought, “God, you don’t even date women! How do you honestly expect people to believe that you just magically fell in love with your 28 year old female assistant?” There was a blush creeping up her neck.

Miranda scoffed, “I expect people to believe me because that’s what I will tell them to believe. Besides, it’s not as if you date women, Andréa.” What? Of all of the things she could have possibly said—that was hardly important now—

Andréa snorted. “You’re joking, right? You’ve got to be joking.”

“There’s nothing to joke about here, Andréa. Consider acting your age, young as it may be.” Miranda’s eyes narrowed. What on Earth was this girl talking about? She couldn’t possibly mean…?

Andréa was actually laughing now. She clutched at her sides, bent over and wheezing from the force of her peals. Miranda wondered at the likelihood that the other woman had finally gone hysterical from stress.

“Oh my god, you’re not joking. You’re actually serious.” She wiped tears of laughter from the corners of her eyes. “I don’t know why I’m even surprised. You really don’t pay attention to anybody but yourself, do you?”

Miranda sniffed, “Andréa, I’ve attempted to be patient with you considering the current situation, but I will not be mocked.”

Still smirking, Andréa rolled her eyes. “I’ve been out as bisexual for more than a decade. I’ve dated like… at least three different women since working for you. I mean Jesus, Miranda, Serena and I were together for almost six months last year! I know for a fact that you saw us kiss at least once.”

Miranda’s eyes widened. Well. Perhaps her gaydar wasn’t quite as functional as it once was.

At a loss for words, she responded dumbly, “…Brazilians are much more openly affectionate in their friendships than Americans. I’m not one to pry into the personal lives of my employees.”

“I’m pretty sure that even the best of friends don’t slip each other the tongue, Miranda,” She was shaking her head once more. Miranda blushed, and then scowled at herself for doing so.

“But that’s not the point,” Andréa continued, “The point is that this is the worst idea you’ve ever had, and that’s definitely saying something. There’s no way in hell you can really think this is gonna work. I mean,” She gestured between the two of them, “Who’s honestly gonna believe that we’re a couple?”

Miranda bristled, her temper flaring. Oh, that was how it was going to be, was it?

“Well. I’m sorry you seem to believe that you’re so incredibly out of my league,” She all but growled, “But regardless, I think you’ll find that I’m rather good at convincing people to see things my way. For example, right now.”

Andréa’s eyes went wide, realizing her mistake too late. “Miranda, that wasn’t what I—”

Miranda continued as if the other woman hadn’t spoken. “You seem to be laboring under the delusion that you have some sort of choice in this matter. Let’s put these idle fantasies to rest, shall we? If you want any hope—any hope at all—of having a future in writing, then you are going to do all that you can to fix this with me.”

Andréa just stared at her.

“To be clear: If I’m forced to step down as editor-in-chief, I can promise you that the first thing Irv is going to do is to fire both yourself and Danielle. You’ve both been too loyal to me these last few years, and he’ll therefore want nothing to do with you.”

 Miranda’s voice was like ice, “If you refuse to help me, I will personally see to it that you are shunned by every single major media source in North America, not to mention Europe, Australia, and most of Asia. You wont even be able to get a job at The Enquirer when I’m through with you.”

Miranda cocked her head, “On the other hand. Should you choose to help me, you will leave Runway with a glowing reference, guaranteeing you a spot at whichever publication you wish to grace with your presence. Why, I may even consider sending that manuscript you keep hidden in your desk to some of my many friends in publishing, if all goes well.” The other woman’s eyes widened.

She smiled. “Do we understand each other now, Andréa?”

Andréa was aghast, “…You’re seriously—you’re threatening me?”

“That’s the general idea, yes.”

Doe eyes stared back at her, and Miranda tried to ignore the churning of guilt in her stomach. She looked away, smoothing down the sleeves of her jacket.

“Jesus, Miranda, is that really necessary? Do you not know me well enough by now to realize that I would have—”

Miranda looked up, her gaze stony once more. “I believe it’s up to me to decide what is and is not necessary, Andréa. Not you.” She glanced out the window, avoiding Andréa’s eyes, “We’re nearly there. Do we have an understanding?”

Andréa stared at her, shaking her head slowly with what was likely disgust. Miranda tried not to care.

“Yes, Miranda.” She sighed.

 ----------------- 

The office that Andy and Miranda were ushered into was incredibly depressing. Andy was sure that her mood wasn’t helping things, but still. White paint was peeling off the walls, but everything else was blanketed in various shades of gray. Plus, the room was damn near microscopic. Miranda was all but sitting on her lap, their chairs were pushed so close together in the small space.

Andy was pissed. There was no other word for it. Having Miranda force her into a marriage was bad enough. But then she had to go and threaten her? And Dani, too, she seethed. What the hell has she ever done to deserve anything like that?

It was like this past year of growth never had even happened between them. As if Miranda was completely unaware that Andy had sold her soul to the Devil herself ages ago; that Andy would do any and everything in her power to make sure that the other woman was happy.

Ugh. She wasn’t sure which was more infuriating: The fact that she had the world’s biggest, not to mention most inconvenient crush on Miranda Priestly, or that Miranda was completely oblivious to this fact.

“Well, ladies,” Andy was pulled from her thoughts by the man moving to sit behind his desk, “My name is Eugene Yurman, and I’ve been assigned to investigate your case. I’m not the best with small talk, so let’s jump right on in, shall we?” He glanced down at one of the many papers littering his desk.

Eugene Yurman wore his dark hair slicked back. Between his hair, his enormous glasses, and the pocket protector Andy could see sticking out of his shirt, he looked like someone who was shoved into many a locker as a kid.

He returned his gaze to the women in front of him, “So. Are you both committing fraud to avoid Ms. Priestly’s deportation so she can keep her position as editor-in-chief at Runway?”

Well, shit.

While Andy did her best impression of a person who definitely wasn’t guilty of committing a federal crime for their ungrateful boss, Miranda spoke up.

“Gracious, where would you get an idea like that?” She chuckled, “Of course not.”

“We had a phone tip this morning. It was from a man named…” He glanced down at his paper once more.

“Is there any chance that it was a man named Henrik Billings?” Miranda asked.

Eugene adjusted the glasses on his nose, nodding. “Yes, that’s the one. We received a phone tip from one Mr. Henrik Billings earlier today.”

Miranda shook her head. “I apologize for wasting your time, Mr. Yurman. Henrik is a disgruntled ex-employee, nothing more. Now, if you would be so kind as to lead us to our next step in this process, we’ll leave you to your work.”

“Ms. Priestly, please,” He held up a hand. “Let me explain to you the process that's about to unfold. Step one will be a scheduled interview. I'll put you each in a room, and I'll ask you every little question that a real couple would know about each other.”

“Step two, I dig deeper. I look at your phone records, I talk to your neighbors, I interview your co-workers. If your answers don't match up at every point, Ms. Priestly, you will be deported indefinitely. And you, ma’am,” He looked pointedly at Andy, “You will have committed a felony punishable by a fine of $250,000 and a stay of five years in federal prison.” Andy felt her eyes widen. Shit, shit, shit.

“So, Ms… Sachs, was it?” He asked.

Andy nodded, swallowing hard.

“Ms. Sachs. Is there anything you’d like to tell me?” Andy could feel Miranda’s eyes boring into her skull from beside her.

She shook her head.

Eugene looked disappointed. “No?”

Andy paused, thinking hard. Closing her eyes, she nodded.

“Yes?” Came the voice in front of her.

She took a steadying breath. “Yeah. The truth is…” She placed a hand atop Miranda’s on her armrest, and felt as it stiffened immediately. “The truth is that Miranda and I are just two people who weren’t supposed to fall in love, but did.”

“We just… we thought it would be incredibly inappropriate for us to tell anyone, not until after I left Runway. I’m starting at The Times in three weeks, you see. So the plan was to begin telling people then.” She heard a sharp intake of breath come from the seat next to her and smirked. Feels great to be blindsided, huh, Miranda?

She patted the other woman’s hand. “We worried that if we came out about our relationship before then, the legitimacy of my position would be questioned. I’m sure you understand.” She smiled at the investigator.

He narrowed his eyes. “I see. So. Do either of your parents know about your secret love affair?”

“Well—” Andy started, but Miranda cut her off.

“You’ll find that I have been estranged from my family for quite some time now. Since before I entered the United States, in fact. So, no. They do not know.”

Andy raised her eyebrows. This was the first time she’d heard Miranda make any mention of her family. Andy knew she had to have one, obviously, but hearing the editor-in-chief actually admit to it felt bizarre.

“My daughters are my only family,” Miranda continued.

Andy tried to ignore how sad these words made her feel by reminding herself of how angry she still was with Miranda. It worked. Mostly.

“We were going to wait to tell them in our own time,” There was a note of irritation in her voice now, “But clearly we’re going to have to talk to them sooner than planned. We don’t want them learning of our relationship from tabloid rags, after all.”

Eugene nodded. “And you, Sachs? Are you estranged from your family as well?”

“Um—”Andy paused. She just had probably the best idea ever, and it was so perfect that it made her want to laugh out loud with satisfaction.

“Uh, nope. Actually, we were planning to tell them next week. We’re going down to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, and staying the whole week.”

Miranda erupted into a fit of coughing next to her, and Andy had to bite her lip to keep the shit-eating grin off her face.

“A week? In Cincinnati?” She choked, “Are you—” Miranda took a deep breath to collect herself.

“Darling, are you quite sure? I seem to remember deciding to fly into Cincinnati just for the one night.” She turned to glare at Andy, who smiled innocently in return.

“No, sweetie. Don’t you remember? I haven’t been able to go home for Thanksgiving for three whole years, so when I told my parents we’d be coming, they absolutely insisted we stay the whole week. Otherwise we’d miss the annual Sachs Camping Trip!” Andy returned Miranda’s glare tenfold, her cheeks aching from the force of her smile.

Miranda’s eyes narrowed, clearly plotting how to best make Andy’s death look like an accident. “I see. Camping. Of course. How could I forget?”

Eugene sighed heavily. “Fine. I see how this is gonna go. I’ll see you both at 11:00 o’clock sharp, the Monday morning after your return. We’ll have your scheduled interview, and your answers had better match up on every account.”

“Yes. Well.” Miranda sniffed, “We look forward to it. I believe we can show ourselves out, thank you.”

They barely made it out the door before she felt Miranda yank on her arm, pulling her down the hallway with an unexpected strength.

Andy yelped in surprise, “What the hell?”

Miranda didn’t respond. Instead, she continued to drag Andy through the building like a ragdoll until she found a deserted corridor that was apparently to her liking. Stopping abruptly, she whirled around to face Andy.

“What,” she hissed, “the hell was that?” Her eyes, normally so icy when displeased, were on fire.

“What do you mean, Miranda?” Andy asked sweetly.

Don’t!—” Miranda shouted before stopping and covering her eyes with her hand. She took a deep breath before looking back at Andy. “Do not toy with me, Andréa. You’re quitting? Why? We had an agreement.” Her voice was low.

“Yeah, we had an agreement. We still do. But you made it pretty damn clear in that agreement that no matter what happens, my time as your assistant is over.” Miranda raised her eyebrows. Clearly, she hadn’t thought about it that way. Surprise, surprise.

Andy continued, listing her options off on her fingers as she went. “I refuse to marry you and you get deported? I’m fired. I refuse to marry you and you still somehow manage to get what you want, like you always do? I’m fired.” She was getting more annoyed with Miranda by the second. How could someone so smart be so incredibly stupid?

“And apparently, if all of this somehow magically works out, I get to move to the publication of my choice. Well, my choice is the New York Times.” She put her hand on her hip, “All I’m doing is speeding up the inevitable, here. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t earned my reference and then some. What’s the longest you’ve kept any of your other assistants? One year? Two?”

Apparently thinking it over, Miranda pursed her lips and sighed. “Fine.” Andy figured that was probably as close as she’d ever come to getting an apology.

After a beat of silence, Miranda shook her head, looking at Andy incredulously. “Camping?

“Yes. Camping.” Andy nodded, “It’s a family tradition, every year before Thanksgiving. A tradition I’ve now had to miss three years in a row, because someone would never let me take the time off.” She scowled.

“Yes, and for good reason,” Miranda sounded exasperated, “Thanksgiving always falls during printing week. Leaving during the busiest week out of our month is completely out of the question and you know it.” Andy did know it. Andy was also entirely too angry to give a shit.

“We’re not going. We’re not spending an entire god forsaken week in Cincinnati of all places, and we are certainly not camping.” Miranda shuddered at the word.

“Fine.” Andy said. “It was nice working with you. I quit.” She turned on her heel and started walking.

Miranda groaned, trailing behind her. “You can’t honestly be serious. This is where you draw the line? Camping? Years of impossible requests and midnight coffee runs, and what finally makes you snap is camping?

Andy rounded on her, “You really don’t get it, do you Miranda? Were you even listening back there? Let’s review. If this goes south, then I’m stuck with a $250,000 fine and five years in prison. Prison, Miranda. That goes way beyond any underhanded threats you’d like to make about blackballing me from the industry.” Miranda’s eyes went wide.

Andy pointed at her, voice rising, “I’m putting my ass on the line for you here. I’m risking everything for you, and you can’t do this one simple thing for me? You can’t give me just a little fucking leeway?” She was fuming.

For a moment Miranda just stared at her, an uncharacteristic look of slack jawed surprise on her face. Blinking, she cleared her throat.

“Alright,” She began slowly, “Fine. We will go to Cincinnati for the week. We will go camping. I’ll call Danielle and have her arrange for our flights—”

Andy cut her off. “No. No flights. We’re driving.”

Miranda sighed deeply. “And why, may I ask, are we driving?” She began to rub her temples, “When a drive is bound to take at least ten hours, and I am perfectly capable of purchasing our plane tickets myself?”

“Because road trips are fun.” Andy replied. And because you'll hate it, Andy thought.

Fun.”

“Yes. Fun.” She paused, thinking. “And because I need to bring my cat back with me.”

Miranda let out sudden a bark of laughter, and Andy nearly jumped in shock. “Of course you do. If we’re going to have all my other least favorite things lined up for next week, then why not throw in cats, too? Why don’t we call up my ex-husbands and see if they would like to come along as well?”

Andy rolled her eyes. “Are you gonna do it or not?”

“I don’t seem to have much of a choice, do I?” She quipped, “Will there be anything else, Andréa? Shall I knit a scarf for you? Paint the Sistine chapel, perhaps?”

Andy ignored the sarcasm. “Yeah, actually, there is something else. You’re gonna see to it that my manuscript gets published. Not just ‘consider sending it to your friends in publishing’.”

Andy crossed her arms, thinking again. “And I want a ring. A pretty one.”

If I’m gonna have a rich wife I may as well get some of the perks, she thought.

Miranda stared at her, aghast. “Oh, is that all?”

“Yeah,” Andy gave a little grin, “That’s all.”