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Miranda's Runway

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This is my first DWP story. For those of you who read my J/7 stories I am sure you will be happy that was I finally was brave enough to get help! Jazwriter has been amazing in helping me keep my content consistent and giving me great advice and ideas. Of course I am not always the best at following advice so any mistakes are definitely mine! Here we go, I hope you like it.

Miranda’s Runway

 

Phil Jacobs, the editor-in-chief at Bantam Books Publishing was frustrated. His hottest author had once again refused to cast off her pseudonym to promote her book. The success of Andrea Sachs had been a welcome surprise to him. Sachs, known as Andy to her friends, had taken advantage of a renewed public interest in fashion by creating a combination of history and activity books. She had intended the books for young readers, but they also had captured the interest of people of all age groups. The accurate yet uncomplicated text combined with the creative illustrations made them the coffee table book for anyone interested in fashion.

To Phil they hadn’t seemed like the subject of a huge hit. His expectation had been that the book would become moderately successful for his children’s division. The actual result had been a phenomenal success. And now the highly-anticipated fourth and final book of the series was scheduled to go to print at the end of the week. It would arrive in the bookstores just in time for the holidays. Even though the subject of the book was a closely guarded secret, Phil was convinced that it would be as successful as the others.

Phil was not sure what motivated the young woman. After the first book was published she was like a fashion-writing whirlwind. It seemed like there was something about these books that was cathartic for her. She had sent in the next three manuscripts within six months of the first. The illustrations took longer of course, but overall it was an amazingly fast process.

The series began with biographies of some of fashion’s most influential designers. The segment on Coco Chanel told the story of how Coco freed women from the uncomfortable clothes of the early 1900’s. Paper doll cutouts, included in the book, with clothes from both before and after Coco’s influence, were wildly popular. After the first book's success, the books that followed were eagerly anticipated and well-received.

Each book included a unique activity set that was specific to its subject. The paper dolls and activities that came with the books were tucked into a special folder attached to the back cover. It was a perfect place to keep extra activity kits or replacement packs. Over time, a line of small dolls with kits to make vintage couture for them were marketed as companion pieces to the books, and they flew off the shelves.

Even though Andy's books were successful, she refused to promote them. The last time he had broached the subject, Andy had answered Phil adamantly. “No, you knew going in I wouldn’t do book signings or interviews.”

Phil shook his head. “Both Vogue and Runway are harassing me daily for access to you. Either one would propel your books and your bank account off the charts!”

“No, get over it.” Andy changed the subject. “Don’t forget I want the documentation for the first edition. Be there when the first book comes off the line. I want it signed, numbered, and notarized.” The author pulled a sheet of paper from her briefcase and handed it to the editor. “Here is the new dedication.” She gave the publisher a firm look before saying, “That’s all,” and striding out the door.

Phil was surprised to get the new dedication. All of the others had been the same: "To M. —Many thanks for the inspiration.” Phil’s eyes widened as he read the new one, wondering what the fall out would be.

***

Knowing that her work on the last book in the series Art of Fashion was done, Andy felt happy calling it a day. After the third volume of Art of Fashion had hit the New York Times Best Seller list, Andy had given her notice at The Mirror. The newspaper had hired her right after she had left Runway. It had been a great job where she could follow her dream of being a journalist. However, raising a young daughter made the chance to work from home irresistible.

Before becoming a journalist or an author, Andy had been an assistant to one of the most powerful people in publishing. Her former boss had been Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway, the premier fashion magazine in the world. She was notoriously hard to work for. Andy had lasted eight months, which was quite an accomplishment. Andy had been good at her job. She could have stayed. She hadn't been fired. Andy was legend for her final act in Miranda’s employ. She had dumped her work phone in a Parisian fountain during Paris Fashion Week and walked away. The fact that Miranda had given her a positive job reference still amazed her.

Andy opened the door to her apartment and heard, “Momma!” A very precocious four-year-old came running down the hall excitedly. “Did you bring them?”

Andy grinned as she pulled two copies of Runway magazine from her briefcase. “Of course I did, Mandy.” She handed the magazines to her daughter. Mandy stared at her, waiting with laughter in her deep brown eyes. Andy rolled her eyes in response and said, “I can’t believe you are going to cut those up. Miranda would be horrified that you are taking scissors to her bible!”

Mandy giggled as she replied, “You have a Randa?”

Andy smiled and shook her head, “Not my Randa, Miranda.”

“That’s what I said," replied the small girl. “Why would your Randa be mad?” Mandy didn’t wait for an answer; she just grabbed the magazines and started toward her art room, still giggling. It was a conversation they had every month. Sometimes, they took the joke even further, but today Mandy wanted to get working.

Andy pulled out her wallet and paid, Jenny, the sitter. She didn’t need one very often, but when she did, Andy trusted a local nanny service. Since Mandy spent three mornings a week in preschool, Andy usually was able to arrange meetings or get some writing done then so that she could enjoy being with Mandy when she was home.

If Andy had known that her daughter would fall in love with Runway, she might have rethought her subscription. Most kids liked to look at picture books. Mandy liked to look at the pictures in Runway. As they did every month, the two Sachs ladies sat down together with magazines and scissors. They studied each page carefully, cutting out their favorite things to create a collage. In the center of each one, Mandy always insisted on placing the editor’s picture. “Momma, it's Randa’s magazine, after all. She should always be in the middle of it.”

Andy complied as always, even though a little bit of her heart broke each time. Every month, seeing these pictures reminded Andy of why she had walked away. Andy hadn't left Runway because the job had become too hard. She had left Runway because loving its editor had just became too much to bear.

**

Andrea looked around the restaurant, trying to locate Nigel. Mandy was having an overnight with a friend, which gave Andy a rare night off. Even though she had been gone from Runway for just over four years, Andy had maintained contact with Nigel, Runway's fashion director. They didn’t make plans too often, but when they met up, they always had a nice visit. This time she saw that Emily, Miranda’s former assistant and current accessories director, was with him, too. Andy and Emily had a rough beginning working together, yet they had somehow made a connection that lasted beyond Andy’s job change. The Runway employees looked miserable as they drank what were clearly not their first drinks of the night.

“Hi guys,” Andy greeted them. “Why so glum?"

Nigel and Emily shared a look and shrugged. Nigel waved Andy to a seat at their table and moved in close as not to be overheard. “You might as well know since everyone will soon enough.” Nigel paused and added. “But don’t tell anyone just yet.” Andy nodded her agreement. “Miranda has about six weeks left at Runway. At the next board meeting, Irving wins.”

Irving Ravitz, the head of Elias-Clarke's Board of Directors, harbored an unreasonable dislike for the editor of his most successful magazine. He had been trying to push her out for years. His last attempt four years ago during Paris Fashion Week was nearly successful.

Andy grinned “Give me a break. Remember Paris? No one can pull one over on her. She is Miranda Fucking Priestly! She will figure a way out. She always does.”

Nigel shook his head. "No, really, I talked to her today, and she told me herself. This time she is out of ideas. Irving has the board convinced she is outdated, despised, and wasteful. The idiot has no idea what he is doing, but he has convinced everyone otherwise.”

Emily’s eyes were red from crying. “There is no way we can change their minds. Even if we found a way to make her seem different, how could we convince the board in six weeks?”

Andy looked at the pain in the ashen faces of her former co-workers. She knew Miranda must feel ten times worse. Runway was her world.

“I can,” she said quietly. “I can do it.”

Nigel and Emily looked at her and smiled at her foolishness. “No offense honey, but not even your sweet Midwestern sincerity can convince enough people in order to help Miranda.”

Andy became excited as an idea started to form. “Yes, actually I can," Andy said confidently as she pulled out her cell. She didn’t care that it was 9:00 PM on a Friday night. She could see the looks of confusion passing between Nigel and Emily as they listened to Andy’s side of the conversation.

“Phil, it’s Andrea Sachs. If you can get it out in two weeks, I will give you six weeks of my time.”

The publisher sounded flabbergasted. “Two weeks! You can’t be serious. We only just started printing it. Maybe four weeks at best.”

Andy put some steel in her voice and lowered it rather than raised it. She had learned this trick during her tenure with Miranda, and glancing at her former colleagues, their wide eyes told her that they were impressed.

“Phil, am I speaking another language? Two weeks, fourteen days not a day more, and I will give you six weeks. I will accept a limited release in New York and Paris if you are not capable of more.” Then she waited. She could visualize Phil in her mind's eye. She knew he was frantically trying to figure out how to meet her demand. His eyes were probably glazing over thinking of the publicity.

“Limited release New York and Paris, done. Update your wardrobe, my girl. In fourteen days you will be in the public eye as the princess of fashion.” Andy could hear the glee in his voice as he hung up the phone.

Nigel and Emily stared at her, waiting for an explanation. Smirking Andy said, “Oh no, you Doubting Thomas’. You'll find out when everyone else does, in fourteen days!”

Emily’s face took on a look of hope. “Maybe if you tell us your plan, we can help.”

“I am not going to tell you the plan, but you are going to help. When this is over, you are going to owe me, my dears.” The uncomfortable thought of her lost privacy crossed Andy’s mind. “You have no idea how much you will owe me. And I will collect!”

Andy could see Nigel’s doubt written all over his face as he demanded, "Okay, spill. What is it that you need us to do? How do you know we will be able to do it?”

Andy laughed. “Well, if you can’t do it, no one can. I need clothes, my friends. I certainly haven’t been wearing Chanel around the house for the past few years. I need clothes and lots of them.” She saw the look of caution come over Nigel's face, and her smile widened.

“I am not talking about ‘raid the Closet’ kind of clothes. I am talking about a shopping spree.”

Emily sat up straighter. It was clear that she had decided to suspend all doubt and go for it. “I know some great thrift stores that sell designer clothes. We can start there.”

Andy felt like she could fly. The idea that she could actually do something that would help someone as powerful as Miranda was intoxicating. She wasn’t dumb. She knew that Emily and Nigel were humoring her. It didn’t matter, though. Nothing did except Miranda.

“I need six week's worth of fashion. I need casual, business, and evening wear, and even a ball gown or two. And I have to be ready in fourteen days. No Closet or thrift stores. You are taking me shopping.”

“Andy, I know you think you can help, but you must remember the cost of what you are suggesting.” Nigel’s voice was gentle as he tried to bring her down to Earth. “You can’t just max out your credit cards for this.”

“You are right,” Andy said while laughing. She pulled out her credit card to pay the bar tab. “I can’t max out my credit card for this.”

Their jaws dropped as they saw her hand a platinum American Express card to the bartender. “Luckily, my credit card has no limit to max out!”

The next two weeks were a whirlwind of shopping and planning. Andy received an itinerary from her publisher that looked brutal. She needed to make plans for Mandy while she was fulfilling her promise, and that added another dimension to her packed schedule. To help, she hired a nanny to accompany her on the publicity trips. Mandy would be able to be with her most of the time, and special trips to museums and zoos were arranged in many of the different cities that were on the itinerary.

Nigel and Emily couldn’t believe that they had helped Andy spend fifty-thousand dollars on couture. Since no one but Mandy and Phil knew that Andy was the Art of Fashion author, her wealth was a surprise to everyone else. It only took a few exasperated sighs from Andy to get her friends to focus on the fashion, not the cost.

Tomorrow was the big day. Andy’s plan would be put into action. Success meant happiness for Miranda and six weeks of misery for Andy. Failure meant that nothing would change for Miranda and six weeks of misery for Andy. The fact that she was going to be miserable no matter the outcome did not bother Andy. Somehow, trying to make things right for Miranda was worth all of it.

Andy fired off an email to Nigel and Emily. “Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock the excitement begins. Tune in to Good Morning America. You should try to get Miranda to watch it with you. I know you will want to witness her reaction. I also believe you will be glad to tell her you didn’t know anything about what I am about to do. There will be a delivery to the three of you at 7:45, but please do not open it until after my introduction.”

***

“I am very excited to introduce our next guest,” said Lara Spencer, host of Good Morning America. Actually, she was thrilled. The unveiling of Amanda Sexton, the author of the popular Art of Fashion collection, was quite a coup for her show. Andrea Sachs, known to the world as Amanda Sexton, was giving her first interview and announcing the early release of the final book in her collection. The secrecy was amazing. She had not been told who her guest would be until she arrived at work this morning at 4:00AM. Background and publisher-approved questions were waiting for her to study before they went on.

“Please welcome author Amanda Sexton for her first ever interview.” The audience clapped loudly as Andrea walked across the stage.

***

At Elias-Clarke, Miranda, Nigel, and Emily were sitting in Runway’s conference room shell-shocked. Looking at her employees, Miranda didn’t even have to ask if they had known. It was clear they had not, and if she asked, she suspected that they wouldn’t have the ability to answer.

Each of the three all had a package in front of them, waiting to be opened. Emily’s and Nigel’s packages were identical. Miranda’s package was the same shape but several times larger.

***

“So” said Lara. “I know that Amanda is a pseudonym. What would you like to be called?”

Andy chuckled. "My Name is Andrea Sachs. I prefer to be called Andy.”

“Well, Andy, let's start with the obvious question. Why the secrecy?”

“The first volume was not written to be a series. I was just trying my hand at something new. I was working as a journalist and did not want the two worlds to collide. I was not sure how being known as a paper doll book author would affect my reputation. With volume two I realized that I might be on to something more lasting.” Andrea gave a rather shy smile to the audience.

“Another factor was that I had many friends and acquaintances in the fashion industry. There were so many different ways I could have gone with each of the books. It would have been hard to not allow their knowledge and feelings to influence the choices that I made. I needed the freedom to call it as I saw it without stepping on any toes.”

Lara nodded her head in understanding. “So now that you are introducing the end of the series, you feel comfortable sharing the information?”

"Yes," Andy replied. This last book wraps up the series with the story of fashion in publishing.

“So, let's see it.”

Andy wondered if Miranda was watching and her hand started to shake. “Mm, well, okay." Andy pulled a book from behind her seat and held it up for the camera.

The camera focused on the book cover while Lara's voice was heard in the background. “Stay tuned! We will be right back to speak with Andy Sachs about her latest book, Miranda's Runway, right after this commercial break."

***
As soon as it switched to the commercial Nigel pulled the paper off of his package. It was the same book that Andy was holding on TV. Miranda’s Runway was illustrated, as were her other books, with Andy’s own unique style. Nigel saw that Miranda struggled to maintain an air of indifference as she slowly looked away from the TV and turned her focus to her package on the table. With very deliberate movements she opened it. She found not one book as the others had, but four, the entire set. She gasped as she read the note that was with them.

“Miranda, I am aware that you like to collect books, first editions. As the first lady of fashion, please accept the first copy of the first edition of each book from the Art of Fashion Series.

-Andrea Sachs”

Miranda noticed that each of her books had a notary’s seal next to the number one. Trying hard but failing to maintain a mask of indifference Miranda silently handed the note to Nigel. The group then turned back to the television. The commercial break had ended.

***

Lara was holding the book up on her lap so the cover could be seen by the camera. “The first thing I have to ask you about is the dedication. Will you tell us about that?” Lara opened the book and read.

“The Art of Fashion collection and this book in particular are dedicated to it’s subject, Miranda Priestly.

 

Miranda,

You have shown the world that fashion is art and hard work is never wasted. You set the example by reaching for perfection every day. Some may say you are reaching for the stars. I say you are lighting the way.”

Thank you,
AS

Andy’s face was thoughtful as she prepared to answer the question. In a way she felt like she was talking to Miranda for the first time in years. She wanted to get it right.

“Truly, I think reading the book explains the dedication. Miranda Priestly is a marvel. Her work for and in the fashion industry is legend.”

“In your book you acknowledge some of the monikers that she is known by. Yet, you seem to be turning them back on the people that use them.”

Andy nodded. "The people that call her hateful names only see the side of her shown by hateful people. I tried to show the truth.”

Lara looked at her notes and read, “Ice Queen, Dragon Lady, and the Devil in Prada are the names most often used to describe Miranda. In your book you cleverly address them. For example,” Lara turned to page eight and held it up to the camera. It showed a picture of Miranda giving a death glare to an unidentified man, obviously a designer. “Tell us about this.”

Andy’s face lit up with a big grin. “I love that page. As you can see, his shoes are on fire. The motivation behind this is to show that Miranda takes her role in our lives very seriously.”

Lara shook her head. “Are you saying that you think Miranda Priestly has a role in my life? While it is true that she is important in the world of fashion and publishing, most of us don’t wear couture and not everyone subscribes to Runway.”

Laughing out loud, Andrea said, “You do wear clothes, though.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “What you don’t seem to understand is that the designers of couture are by default the designers of what you wear. You may never wear a dress personally designed by Diane von Furstenberg, but she changed the way all working women dressed with her designs in the 1970's.”

Lara interrupted, “Diane von Furstenberg was one of the subjects of the first Art of Fashion book.”

Andy nodded yes and then pointed to page eight where the hot-footed designer was holding a dress. “If Miranda and therefore Runway magazine got behind this dress, people would buy it, even if it is uncomfortable or poorly made. They trust her. She understands and honors that responsibility. If someone were trying to unduly influence or pressure her, that person deserved to meet the dragon. Unfortunately, a spurned designer might also spread around a few sour grapes."

“Well, Andy, we have really appreciated your visit this morning. I hope you will come see us again.”

As the show went to commercial, Miranda, Nigel and Emily sat in stunned silence. Miranda picked up her copy of Miranda’s Runway and began to read. The other two followed suit. It really was a rather clever book.

***

Miranda looked up sharply as Nigel tried to hold back a guffaw. “Would you care to share with the class?” Miranda asked him, her voice dangerously bland. She could see him struggling to rein in his amusement, but to no avail.

Nigel was wheezing with laughter as he choked out, "Page twelve.” The drawing was of Miranda using her icy stare to freeze a hapless advertiser. It seems that the promotion he wanted to include in Runway was not 100 percent representative of the product. The drawing of Miranda on this page had word bubbles with ice dripping from them as beams of ice radiated from her eyes. The text said, “If you are going to tell my readers no animal testing was used in your product, then no animal testing had better have been done. Take your business elsewhere.”

Miranda valiantly tried not to smile but then jumped when Emily almost fell off her chair, laughing. She looked up at Miranda and her eyes began showing panic that she was about to offend her boss. “Well?” Miranda asked.

Emily stuttered out her answer, "Page fourteen.”

The page was a lovely scene of a photo shoot in Central Park. Miranda could not see anything funny at all. She looked back at Emily quizzically. Emily moved slowly and pointed to the upper right hand corner of the page. She pulled her hand away quickly, as if afraid it would be bitten.

As Miranda saw the subject of Emily’s amusement she felt all of the stress and anger from the last few months melt away in an overwhelming and unfamiliar moment of silliness. It was as if, just for a second, she was relieved of the pressure she had been under. And like the steam from a pressure cooker, the silliness burst forth.

Over the years Nigel and Emily had seen all manner of emotion from Miranda. This moment, however was beyond what they could possibly be prepared for. They sat with their mouths agape as Miranda put her head in her arms on the table and laughed until she cried. She tried to look up, to control herself, but then she would see Emily laughing and start all over again.

“What?” Nigel asked in a frustrated voice.

Emily poked her finger on the page and managed to say, "Look!" At the top of the page was a self-portrait of Andy. She was wearing the ugly blue sweater that she had worn on her first day at Runway. She had a cup of coffee in one hand, a book in the crook of her arm, and a dog leash in the other hand. She was being dragged across the park by a large St. Bernard.

Soon they were each again focused on their own copy. They all turned to the last page and Nigel cleared his throat and read it aloud.

Miranda Priestly has been the arbiter of fashion for over 15 years. Not only because of her eye for color and her impeccable taste but because of her hard work and the hard work she demands from those around her.

At fashion shows many think that it is enough to study every stitch of clothing in a designer's collection. Not Miranda; it is only enough when she has studied every stitch in the clothing of a designer's collection. Because of her thoroughness, a nod from her is worth more than a nod from anyone else. And that is why when she is at a show, it is truly Miranda’s runway.

***

At the Elias-Clarke board meeting Irving did not dare bring up his plan to oust Miranda from Runway. Defending Miranda from her detractors had become the in thing to do. Support for the editor became more and more visible after each of Andy’s interviews. Designers, advertisers, and photographers were telling stories of their own, each with the moral that Miranda was not randomly mean. Her advice, even though harshly given, made them better at what they did.
 
Andy, for her part, was tired. In interview after interview the talk about her books was brief, while the talk about Miranda dominated. By her second interview, Andy’s past as a second assistant became common knowledge. In some ways it was a relief that people weren’t actually interested in her. No one had yet mentioned Mandy or really anything about her personal life except how it had revolved around Runway.
 
Her favorite questions, so far, came from her interview with the women of The View. Whoopi Goldberg, was never a fan of Miranda. And based on her clothing sense, the feeling surely went both ways. She brought up the subject of Miranda’s coffee demands. It seems she had an acquaintance who was fired after her third failed delivery.
 
“You worked for her; you know this is true. You must agree that firing someone over her coffee delivery skills is unreasonable. My friend was a very smart girl and could have done a good job had she been allowed to. And even more insulting is that Miranda never actually drinks more than a few sips of the coffee.”
 
Andy tried not to roll her eyes. “You have put me in a bit of a tight spot, Whoopi. I don’t want to insult your friend, but she clearly didn’t understand what was going on. Let’s face it; Miranda could have had Starbucks set up an espresso machine with a personal barista outside her office if she had wanted to. That was not the point.”
 
Andy closed her eyes for a moment, trying to find a way to explain Miranda’s idiosyncrasies. “Working for Runway is like a boot camp for excellence. Either you are good enough to last, or you aren’t. The coffee is a great example. Do you have an easel or dry erase board?” One was brought out immediately.
 
Andy walked up to the board, drew a square, and labeled it Runway. About three inches away from it she drew a circle labeled Starbucks, and about twelve inches farther, a triangle labeled photo shoot. “So tell me, if your friend could not find a way to get a three-dollar cup of coffee on time and hot from here to here,” she drew a line between the square and circle, "why should Miranda trust her to get 30,000 dollars' worth of clothing or jewelry, on time and unsullied, from here to here?” She drew line from the square to the triangle.
 
"There have been assistants that could do both. Your friend was not one of them. Many of the things that Miranda requires are not quite as they seem. As a matter of fact, if HR at Elias-Clarke had any sense, they would require a pre-interview with logic puzzles before sending anyone upstairs.”
 
The frown on Whoopi’s face showed that she resented the answer given. She tried yet again to rip Miranda down. “Come on, Andy. You worked for her. The woman is self-centered and vain. She makes her assistants memorize hundreds of people’s names and faces to feed them to her at parties.”
 
“I will start by saying that your friend signed a non-disclosure document when she accepted the job at Runway. I will respond in general terms to what you have said, but she might want to remember that little tidbit when she is talking about Miranda. There is nothing in any of my books that breaks that.” Whoopi’s eyes got wide at the implied threat.
 
“Okay, so if an assistant is given a list of 250 people attending a party and told to memorize them, you are saying that is too hard? You are saying it is too much to ask?” Whoopi nodded.
 
“Miranda Priestly is an extremely smart woman. She will most likely need help with a maximum of 30 out of 250 names. If you can’t memorize them all, eliminate a few. The assistant keeps her calendar. She could run through the list and cross off any people Miranda had met within the past three months. She could cross off any names of designers, models, and photographers who were featured in Runway in the past few years. It’s not rocket science.”
 
 Andy took a deep breath and continued. “That said, anyone who doesn’t take the opportunity to memorize the names and faces of people who are important enough to be invited to a party with Miranda Priestly is an idiot. She is giving you the tools to be familiar with the movers and shakers of the world. Don’t hate it; embrace it.”
 
Whoopi still hadn’t learned she couldn’t win. She gave it one last try. “She makes her assistants walk her damn dog for God’s sake!”
 
Andy laughed outright. “Maybe if HR would do their job and send her competent assistants, she would have the time and energy she needs to walk her own damn dog.  And by the way, Patricia is a really nice dog!”
 
Barbara Walters decided that Andy didn’t need any more contentious grilling. “Okay, Andy,” she said. “Next question, have you heard from Miranda since your book came out?”
 
“Miranda sent a note thanking me for the Art of Fashion collection that I had sent to her. Her office did call and try to set up a lunch meeting, but since we are both very busy women, it has not yet been possible.”
 
“When was the last time you spoke?”
 
“I have not had a conversation with her since I left her employ about four and a half years ago. As I said, we are both busy women.”
 
***

Andy couldn’t decide if she was excited or scared for her lunch meeting today. She watched as her friends Nigel and Emily were led to her table. Her hands were trembling as she stood up to greet them. Nigel took in her timid smile and responded with a wide grin. “My God, Six! When you decide to mount a rescue, you do not fool around!”
 
Andy’s smile was a little more relaxed as she turned to great Emily. The Brit was clearly struggling for words. “You...you...” Emily took a deep breath. “You are amazing.” The three friends took their seats.
 
“So,” Andy said. "Is Miranda going to be okay?”
 
Nigel chuckled. “I can’t imagine her being any more okay.”
 
Emily spoke up. “Were you aware that Irving announced his retirement this morning? It seems the board thought he was out of touch, disliked, and stingy.”
 
At this Andy beamed. “So what you are saying is that my ‘sweet Midwestern sincerity’ saved the day?”
 
Emily rolled her eyes. “Yes, yes you did as you said.”
 
“I do recall saying that you would owe me big, and I would collect!”
 
Nigel and Emily waited quietly. Their rather quick switch to a somber expression showed that they were wondering how dear the price would be.
 
“I want a copy of Miranda’s letter from the editor photo and an issue of Runway both autographed To Mandy from Miranda. And you can’t tell her who it is for or why.”
 
Nigel responded first. “You know she doesn’t do autographs. In twenty years I have never seen her agree to one. I am not even sure she signs her own greeting cards.”
 
“I see.” Andy’s voice was teasing, but it was clear she was not really joking. “My fat, fashion-less self was able to cause the overthrow of evil Irv and redefine Miranda Priestly to the world at large, yet you are not able to get a couple of autographs for me.”
 
Emily spoke up. “You have refused several invitations to meet with Miranda herself. Accept one, and I am sure she will provide you with what you want.”
 
Andy stood up and said, “I am not going to have a meeting with Miranda. So if you won't do it, fine.”
 
Nigel said, “Sit down, Six. Of course we will do it. It would be easier if we could tell her who it was for. She knows what she owes you.”
 
“Fine, but tell her it is for my friend.”
 
Emily’s voice was a bit waspish when she joined in. “I don’t get you! Why all the secrets? You write a book  that makes it sound like you are her greatest admirer. Why won't you return a call for a lunch date?"
 
Nigel chimed in. “It is curious that you are running around the country talking about her but not willing to talk to her.”
 
Andy’s voice was strained. “I will remind you both that I never wanted the publicity. Running all over the country is the price I had to pay to help her and by extension help you. Amanda Sexton was just fine the way she was.”

Emily studied Andy’s face closely. “Still?” she asked quietly.
 
Andy put her hand up. “Don’t,” she said.
 
“Maybe it would help you to actually see her," Emily said as she reached across the table and placed her hand on Andy’s.
 
“I disrupted my whole world for her, twice. I can’t see her. I just can’t. I don’t have anything left.”
 
Nigel laughed, suddenly seeming to have caught a clue. “Oh, you have to be kidding me.”
 
Andy’s eyes brimmed with pain as she stood up abruptly. “Forget it. Forget everything. Forget you know me.” She walked away quickly, not willing to be ridiculed for her feelings.

*** 

Emily bopped Nigel on the head. “What the hell is a matter with you? She saved our fucking asses, and you mock her.”

Nigel shook his head. “I did her a favor. Miranda is the last person she should have a crush on. Even the new warm and fuzzy Dragon Lady would be more than our girl could handle.” 
 
Emily stood up. “You can pay the bill, Mr. Helpful.” She looked Nigel straight in the eyes. “Do you honestly believe trading six weeks of her life indicates a crush? Open your eyes, you idiot. She is dragging her four-year-old child to book signings all over the country for Miranda.”

Again Nigel shook his head. “Can you explain why she has been so adamant that we not mention her to Miranda?”

Emily sat back down. “When I first saw her, after she left, it seemed that hearing about Miranda hurt her. She was rather friendless during that time. Her boyfriend, Nate, was gone, and all their mutual friends went with him. When her parents found out she was pregnant, they gave her an ultimatum. They told her to get back with Nate before the baby came or not to expect help from them.”

The disgust was evident on Nigel’s face as he responded. “Well, since a drunk driver in Boston took that choice away from her, why didn't they relent?”

Emily sighed, “She couldn't trust them after that. She had made her choice, and Nate's death didn't change that. Really, what would happen the next time they disagreed?”

Nigel responded, “And this relates to Miranda how?”

“Well, she didn’t come out and say it, but I think that she is afraid of rejection. What Miranda doesn't know, she can’t reject.”

“Considering she is about as well-known as Miranda herself, all this secrecy will be for naught.”

"True."Emily rolled her eyes. “But as long as she doesn't know what Miranda knows, she can keep up her illusions.”

“I guess that makes sense in some convoluted way," responded Nigel dryly.

Emily stood up. “You still get the bill," she declared and left.

***

Nigel stood outside of Miranda’s office. She watched him out of the corner of her eye. He was fidgeting nervously. As they had been working together for almost twenty years, she could not fathom what would cause him to hesitate to enter.

“Nigel,” she said in her usual quiet tone. "Are you redecorating my lobby or would you like to join me?” Her lips quirked as he straightened his shoulders and walked over to her desk. He placed a copy of her editor’s picture and an issue of Runway on her desk. She arched an eyebrow in question.

“A friend of mine has requested your autograph," he said quickly. “Please make it out to Mandy.”

To say Miranda was stunned by such an odd request would be an understatement. “I am sure I did not hear you correctly,” she said in a low voice. “It sounds like you are asking me to autograph these items; something you know I never do."

Nigel nodded. “I realize that, Miranda. I am asking you to do this for me as a special favor.”

“I see, and why exactly do you need such a silly thing?”

“A friend of mine helped me with a problem I was having. Your signature on these items was a request from her. I know this is a rather presumptuous request, but I hope you will comply.”

Miranda could see that Nigel was sweating with nerves. Her curiosity was extremely piqued. “And what exactly did this Mandy do for you that you expect me to make such a gesture?”

“Umm.” Nigel hesitated. “It was someone else who did the favor. She wants this as a gift to her friend.”

Miranda realized that Nigel was not only nervous but hiding something. “Name, Nigel. There is something about this that you don't want to tell me.”

He straightened his back and looked her in the eyes. Suddenly seeming more confidant, “Andy Sachs,” he said without preamble, and he waited for her response.

Her response was not the annoyance that it was clear he had expected. Instead she gave a rather subdued sigh. “I see. And this Mandy person is a close friend of hers?”

Nigel nodded. "Yes."

“How close?” she inquired sharply.

She could see Nigel weighing his response. He shrugged and replied, "Very.”

“This favor had something to do with me?” Her voice was almost forlorn. The idea of her Andrea with someone else hurt her. She knew her dreams of the young woman were the foolish fancy of a middle-aged woman. After the book though, she had hope. Hopes that were dashed when the silly girl refused every opportunity to meet.

Nigel nodded.

“What was it, Nigel? Spit it out!” Her voice was suddenly sharp. “Exactly what favor did she do for you? Or for me, as it were?”

“She never intended to drop her pseudonym. The interviews and book signings were all to generate goodwill for you. Everyone has wondered why she did the limited release. When she realized that she could help you, she called her publisher and made a deal. He got the book out early, and she dropped her pen name. She traded six weeks of her time to try and help you.”

Miranda steepled her fingers and rested her chin on them. “Oh, sit down for God’s sake.”

“So as a way save my career and by extension yours, Andrea went public. And all she wants in return is a couple of autographs for her,” Miranda mimicked quotation symbols in the air with her hands, “friend.”

“Yes,” Nigel said as he pushed the picture toward the editor.

He couldn't know how her stomach filled with acid as she wrote the name Mandy. She autographed both items, but as Nigel reached for them, she pulled them back. “Oh no, I will hand-deliver these. I am sure,” she looked at her note as if to be reminded of the girl's name, “Mandy would appreciate both an autograph and a visit.” Then Miranda said sardonically, “It should just make her day.”

She gave Nigel her best fake smile. “Do they live together?”

The editor kept her face blank as he answered. There was no way he could know what a punch in the gut it was when he answered in the affirmative. “Address?”

“Miranda, please, just give them to me. Let me take them, and you can forget the whole thing.”

“Emily,” Miranda called silkily to her assistant. Her current first assistant’s name was actually Emily. Miranda believes that was why she had hired her in the first place. She always has had good luck with people named Emily.

“Yes, Miranda?” The standard reply was given as the woman entered the office.

“I need the home address for Andrea Sachs by three o’clock.”

“Yes, Miranda,” The woman left her office as quickly as she had come in.

In a lightning fast change of subject Miranda asked, “Have you seen Page Six today?” Her lips were twitching with what could almost be considered a smile.

“No,” Nigel said dryly. “Have you been made Pope?”

Page Six was the gossip section of the news paper. It had a history of always showing Miranda in the worst light possible. Now that Miranda’s image has changed, their coverage of her had to.

She handed the paper to Nigel, shaking her head. “I can't decide if being the Good Witch is any better than being the Bad Witch!”

Nigel looked down at the headline and practically choked.

Miranda Priestly walks her own damn dog!

Under it was a picture of Miranda walking Patricia in Central Park with a short blurb.

Things must be looking good at Elias-Clarke. Rumor has it that all applicants have to pass a treasure hunt and obstacle course before they can interview for Runway magazine. It seems to be working because Miranda’s out walking! The canine companion is her elderly St. Bernard, Patricia. Who knows what's next! Maybe a date for our thawing ice queen?

Shaking his head with amusement, Nigel prepared to take his leave. Nigel reached out for the autographed items, and Miranda slapped his hand away. Smirking, he shook his head and left.

***

Three-thirty found Miranda in an area known as Park Slope. It was a nice part of Brooklyn where mostly middle-class families lived. Having received Andrea’s address promptly at three o’clock, Miranda had wasted no time. Now here she stood, ready to knock on the door of the woman who had saved her. The woman who had broken her heart when she had left her job, and therefore Miranda, without warning. It was crazy, she knew, this need to see the woman who had captured Andrea’s heart. The need to meet Mandy was ridiculous, bordering on obsessive. Nevertheless, she knocked.

The door was answered by a young woman in her mid-twenty's. Miranda noticed that she seemed neither happy nor surprised to see her. She took that as an indicator that she was not Mandy.

“Hello, I'm looking for Mandy.” Miranda injected false confidence into her tone.

“Hi,” said the young woman. “Who are you?” she asked.

Before Miranda could answer, a child entered the room. Miranda guessed the young girl was about four years old. Her big brown eyes gazed at Miranda as she gazed right back.

The child moved closer with an air of excitement. “You are Momma’s Randa!”

“Excuse me?" Miranda said, rather bemused.

“From Runway, you are Momma’s Randa from Runway!"

“I guess I am,” the older woman replied as the penny dropped. “Are you Mandy?”

By this time Mandy was quivering with excitement as she nodded in the affirmative. “Why are you here, Randa? Why are you at my house?”

Miranda was charmed and amused by the child’s excited bluntness. “I was told that you wanted to meet me, so I thought I would come for a visit.”

“Are you going to stay and play with me?”

Miranda looked over at the sitter. “Only if your caregiver says it is okay.”

In the meantime, Jenny recognized the editor from the Runway collages that were all over Mandy’s wall. She had heard the Miranda-My Randa joke enough times to feel comfortable with her appearance in the house.

“I think that will be okay for a while. Since your mom knows her,” Jenny said to Mandy.

Mandy reached out her hand to Miranda. “Want to come in the art room with me? We can play editor! Do you know how to play editor?"

Miranda didn't know how she kept from laughing at the child. “I'm not sure I know all the rules. You will have to tell me."

“Oh,” Mandy looked a little downhearted. “I thought since you are the Runway editor, you would know how.”

Miranda couldn't help but flash a rare, full-blown grin. “I bet I can pick up the rules pretty quickly if you teach me.”

The rules were pretty simple. Miranda was not appalled that Mandy was taking the scissors to her magazine. She was charmed with the pastime of choosing four favorite items from different fashion categories in the magazine and gluing them to a poster board. Before she knew it, an hour had passed and Mandy was hungry for a snack. As they came out of the art room, they heard a rather upset Jenny on the phone.

***

Andy was upset and frustrated. She was supposed to have taken a short jaunt to a book signing in D.C. Gone in the morning back home by nightfall. Mandy was tired of traveling, so Andy had booked Jenny for the day and agreed to a quick trip in a small plane. Sadly there was a bomb scare at Ronald Reagan Airport, and nothing was flying in or out of the area. It didn't look like she would get home until the next day. Even if she were to rent a car, it would take about eight hours to drive. Jenny was not available to stay overnight.

“Jenny, please,” Andy said franticly. “I’ll pay you double if you'll stay.”

“I am sorry, Andy. It's my dad’s eightieth birthday. You need to find someone else.”

“Will you check the agency and see if there is anyone available? Someone we have worked with that Mandy already knows.”

“I’ll try, but on a Friday night that is pretty unlikely.”

“Thanks. Let me talk to Mandy while you try.”

Jenny pulled out her cell phone and gave the other phone to Mandy.

“Hi, Momma,” Mandy said cheerily.

“Hi Baby Girl, Are you being good for Jenny?”

“Yes, Momma, I'm playing editor with your Randa.”

Andy was amused that Mandy was pretending Miranda was really at the house. She listened as Mandy wove a tale of her time with the editor.

***

Andrea, Miranda, sized up the situation pretty quickly. It was apparent that in spite of Jenny’s efforts, there was not an appropriate person to take her place. Miranda walked over to Mandy and held out her hand for the phone.

“Momma, your Randa wants to talk to you.”

 “Hello, Andrea. It seems you are in a bit of a fix.”

“M-M-Miranda?”

“Yes, Andrea?”

“Wow, um, what are you doing at my house?”

“I believe I heard Mandy explain to you that we were playing editor.”

“Did she make you sit on the floor?”

Miranda let out a chuckle at the ridiculousness of the question. “Yes, Andrea, she explained the rules to me very carefully, and I followed them. I am thinking of duplicating them for our next staff meeting. It would make for a nice change of pace.”

The line was silent, so Miranda continued. “I understand you need some assistance. I'll take Mandy back to the townhouse with me.”

“No, Miranda, I can't ask you to do that. And she doesn't know you; she might be scared.”

Miranda turned to Mandy and spoke loud enough that Andrea could hear their conversation. “Mandy, your momma is having difficulties getting home from her trip. Would you like to come and have a sleep over with me? You can help me with next month’s Runway.”

“Really, Randa? I could come to your house?”

Miranda smiled as she turned her attention back to Andrea. “As you heard, Mandy has no issue with coming to the townhouse, so that is all settled.”

“No, Miranda, really it is too much.”

Miranda cut her off. “Really, Andrea, it makes sense that I am the one to step in and help. I am your Randa, after all.” Then in a softer voice she continued. “I am aware that it is because of me that you are in this predicament. Please let me do this for you?”

Clearly the softer approach worked as Andy replied, “Okay. Thank you. And by the way, she knows how to say your real name. It is kind of a word play between us, the my Randa thing.”

Miranda smiled a small smile. “She is a very bright child. I was not fooled.” She paused and when Andrea didn't say more, Miranda continued in exasperation. “Do not worry. I will treat her as if she were my own.”

At that Andy replied immediately, “Thank you, Miranda. I do, however, forbid you from buying her a pony. Am I clear? You may not buy her a pony.”

Miranda was taken aback by the stricture. “Good Lord, Andrea, why would you think that I would buy her a pony? I never bought my girls a pony.”

“Did they ever ask for one?”

“Well, no, they asked for a St. Bernard.”

“I rest my case; no pony.”

“Yes, Andrea,” Miranda replied in a subservient tone. And for the first time, the two women shared a laugh.

In no time at all an overnight bag was packed, and Roy was on his way to pick them up.

As they were waiting Miranda decided to clear up the matter of Mandy’s name. She was never one for nicknames for herself or anyone else.

“Amanda, do you like dogs?” The young girl looked up at her quizzically.

“I do like dogs, Randa. Why'd you call me Amanda?”

"I believe that is what Mandy is usually an abbreviation for. Is that not your given name?"

Mandy rolled her eyes. “No, silly, My other name is Miranda like yours. We're my momma's two Randas.” Mandy gave her a bright smile before heading for the car that had just arrived.

“I see,” Miranda said quietly, though she was not really sure she saw anything at all.

***

Before she got in to the car, Miranda made a phone call.

“Emily, call that toy store the girls like and get me some ponies. Don't bore me with questions. Have them delivered to the townhouse tonight, that’s all.”

As Miranda settled into her seat next to Mandy, the young girl asked, “Randa, who else is going to be at your house?”

“My daughters, Caroline and Cassidy will be there. I don't think anyone else unless the girls have some friends over.” Miranda looked at the younger Miranda thoughtfully, tapping her fingertip on her lip.

“Miranda, I know that you know how to say my name properly.”

The brown-eyed girl looked up at Miranda impishly. “Of course I do.”

“Good, I would prefer to be called by my proper name, and I will call you by yours.” After she said it, Miranda realized that it might not actually be her preference at all.

The younger Miranda looked at Miranda solemnly. “Do I have to?”

Miranda smiled and surprised herself by replying, “No, you may call me Randa if that is what you want. But I will call you Miranda.”

The little girl shrugged. “Okay, but don't blame me if people think you are talking to yourself.”

***

As they got closer to the Randa's home, Mandy became nervous. “Randa, will your daughters be nice to me?”

“Of course they will, Darling.” Mandy felt Randa take her hand and felt a little better.

“Why are you worried about that?”

She shrugged and asked, “How old are they?”

“They are both sixteen. They are twins.”

Before Mandy could ask another question, the car stopped in front of a large home.

Mandy was glad that her hand was not released as they went up the steps. She was normally an outgoing and confidant child, however the fact that she was spending the night away from home and from her mother was making her scared.

Just before she opened the door, Randa bent down and looked Mandy in the eye. “Don't be worried Miranda. We are going to go inside and have dinner with the girls while we wait for your ponies.”

Mandy smiled widely with glee at the news. "Ponies? You got me some ponies? You told someone to bring ME ponies?”

Randa smiled. “Yes, I have ordered you some ponies. Your mother was quite specific about ponies.”

***

As they entered the house Miranda wondered what her girls would think of their guest. “Come along, Miranda. Let's find the girls.”

They weren't hard to find. The strawberry blond teens looked up from their homework as the two Mirandas entered the family room.

“Hi, Mom,” they said in unison.

“Hello, girls. I have brought us a new friend.” She looked at her guest. “Miranda, this is Caroline, and that is Cassidy.” Miranda turned to her daughters and continued with the introductions. “Girls, Miranda’s mother got stuck out of town, and she will be spending the night with us.”

 The teens studied the child, and she studied them right back. Miranda spoke first.

“You can call me Mandy. Everybody calls me Mandy except Randa.”

Cassidy’s laughing reply of, “Yea, Randa isn't fond of nick names,” got her a fist bump from her sister and a glare from her mother.

“I will see what cook left for dinner,” the older Miranda said. “Will you show Miranda to the guest room next to your room? Roy left her things in the hall. Help her take them up, and then come down and tell us about your day while we eat.”

“And wait for ponies!” the little girl piped up. “Right, Randa?”

“Yes, Darling. I am sure the ponies will be here right after dinner.”

“Hey,” said Caroline, “you never got us a pony!”

Her mother smirked. “You never asked for one Darling. You asked for a St. Bernard.”

As soon as the girls were out of sight Miranda opened her cell phone.

“Emily, I am at the townhouse, and there is not a pony in sight.” As her assistant started to reply, Miranda cut her off. “Don't bore me with excuses. I have a four-year- old expecting some ponies by dessert. Don't disappoint me.”

***

“So, Mandy,” Cassidy asked, “where did Mom find you?”

“She came to my house to play with me. Then when Momma called, Randa talked to her so I could come stay here.”

Caroline’s jaw fell open. “My mother went to your house to play with you?”

“Yup, we played editor. Randa didn't know how to play, but I showed her.”

The girls heard a voice behind them. “Yes, you did, and it was a very fun game.”

The four females made quick work of the pot roast that they found in the kitchen. and just as they were clearing their plates they heard the front door open. They went out to investigate and found Emily leading two delivery men from FAO Schwarz in to the foyer. One was carrying a large rocking horse. Emily was practically invisible under a big, floppy stuffed pony that measured about three feet long. The second delivery man was unloading a cart full of Breyer's model horses, complete with a barn and all kinds of play tack for the animals.

Mandy’s face showed shock by the abundance of it all. “Which one is for me, Randa?”

Miranda smiled at the little girl. “You can pick some to go home with you, and the rest will stay here for when you come to visit again.”

Cassidy was shocked to hear her mother imply that this child would be a regular visitor at the Priestly residence.

“Caroline, which one are you going to pick?” Mandy asked.

Both of the teens looked over at their mother who was giving them a glare that clearly said, “You will pick a pony, and you will like it.”

“I don’t know, Mandy. There are a lot of them. Let's take them up to the family room, and look them all over.”

“Okay, Caroline.” Mandy ran over and threw her arms around Miranda’s middle.

“Thank you for the ponies. Are you going to pick one, too?”

“Of course I am, Dear Heart.” Miranda patted the little girl on the back. Go with Caroline, and I will be up after I finish the dishes.”

Cassidy glanced over at her mother and saw the fond look that she had for Mandy. She knew this was more than just helping out a friend. As the other two girls headed up stairs, Cassidy held back and turned to her mother.

“All right, Mom. What gives? Where did you find a Mini-Miranda?”

“As I said, her mother was unavoidably delayed, and I offered to help.”

“Right, well then, who is her mother?” Cassidy knew there was a story here.

“Andrea Sachs.”

Cassidy was shocked to say the least. “Andrea Sachs the author, your former assistant, that Andrea Sachs?”

“Yes.”

Cassidy was dumbfounded. Four years ago, she and her sister had no doubt that their mother was more upset about being abandoned by her assistant than being divorced by her husband.

When Miranda’s Runway came out, a certain melancholy that had been hovering over Miranda for years seemed to have lightened. Not that her mother had been walking around upset. But a particular sparkle had disappeared. A sparkle that Cassidy watched reappear just a little more each time Mandy spoke to her Randa.

The twins had never spent any time around young kids, and they were absolutely entranced with their mother’s new friend. Conversely, Mandy appeared thrilled with the attention that they were lavishing upon her.

***

Miranda wasn’t exactly sure what she was supposed to do with her horse. They each asked Mini-Miranda to choose for them. Miranda pretended to disapprove of the twins giving her that moniker. Deep down, though, she actually liked it. The child was delightful and bright, so like her mother. Miranda could only feel honored by the association. As a result, the not so mini Miranda sat in the family room holding a plastic Clydesdale, thinking that playing editor was the preferable game.

At eight o’clock on the dot Andrea called to say good night to her daughter. Caroline answered the phone. Miranda cringed as she heard the beginning of the conversation.

“Hey, Andy,” Caroline greeted the woman. “We are having a great time here at camp Miranda. You ought to come join us.”

Miranda glared at her daughter to tell her to rein it in. Caroline smiled, message received. “So who would you like to speak to first?”

“Here you go, Mandy.” Caroline passed the phone over to the very excited four-year-old.

Miranda cringed at the first words out of the child’s mouth.

“Momma, Randa bought me ponies! Lots and lots of ponies!” The child was wearing herself out with telling her mother about all the excitement.

After a few moments the phone was handed to Miranda. “Girls go upstairs and help Miranda get ready for bed.” She looked over at the youngest of the girls. “I will be up to say good night and to make sure the girls have you tucked in properly after I talk to your mother.”

The little girl smiled and waved as the older girls lead her up to the guest room.

“Hello, Andrea. As you heard, no harm has come to her. As long as I don't leave her in the hands of my incompetent employees, I am sure that will continue to be the case.”

Miranda could almost feel Andrea shaking her head through the phone.

“So tell me how long after we got off the phone did it take for you to call the latest Emily to deliver ponies? They are toys, right?”

“Please, Andrea. Of course they are toys. It would take months to acquire one of those tiny little horses. Emily checked.”

Miranda settled in to her chair. She was truly enjoying the banter.

“How many did you buy her?”

“Hmm,” said Miranda. “Does the rocking horse count as a toy, or is that furniture?”

“A rocking horse, really?”

“Oh relax, were you always this uptight? I told her she could take the little stuffed pony and a few of the plastic ponies home. The rest will stay here for her next visit.”

As Miranda expected the line was momentarily quiet at the suggestion of more visits.

“You and she have talked about more visits?” asked Andrea in an extremely cautious tone.

“Of course we have. She has informed me that I am the Sachs family’s personal Randa and therefore, it would be wrong for us not to spend time together.”

“Oh? What else has she told you?” Miranda could hear hesitation in Andrea’s voice.

“Andrea,” Miranda said in a gentle voice. She tried to keep it from shaking as she laid all her cards on the table. “Being with Miranda has been pleasant. She is very like you, and I find that I enjoy her company. It seems that I have missed you.”

“You've missed me?” Andrea’s voice sounded forlorn. She sounded like she couldn't believe what she was hearing.

“Yes, I have missed you,” Miranda said in a firm voice so that Andrea could feel confident in her answer.

“So, um, you called her Miranda. You don't mind about that?”

Miranda chuckled. “Well, she did point out that if I refuse to call her Mandy that I would feel like I am talking to myself. She's right about that.” Miranda paused for a moment. When no response came, she knew she had to take the bull by the horns.

“I would like to spend time with you both. Would you be amenable to that?”

This time Miranda waited and did not break the silence.

After a few beats, Andrea replied. “I’ve missed you, too.”

“Well, then,” Miranda said. “I guess we can agree that Miranda will be visiting to play with her ponies in the future?”

“Yes, Miranda,” Andrea said in a fake subservient voice.

“You will stay for a meal when you come to pick up your daughter?”

“Yes, Miranda,” she repeated in the same tone, causing Miranda to smile.

“Good. Well, I have a few young ladies and a stuffed pony to kiss good night. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

***

Andy hung up the phone, and lay down on her hotel bed. A stray tear fell down her face as she thought about what this day had brought. She couldn't imagine how Miranda had ended up at her house, playing with her daughter. She couldn't believe that Miranda had indicated that she wanted to be friends.

“That is what she was saying, right? Friends?” Andy thought to herself. “She said she missed me. What does that mean?” Overwhelmed with the possibilities of what today meant, Andy drifted off to sleep.

***

The taxi pulled up in front of the townhouse at 12:00 PM. Andy had called Miranda as soon as she had her flight times. Her stomach quivered while she climbed the few steps up to the door. As she had traveled home, Andy could think of nothing but what would happen when she got here. She wondered at Miranda’s comments from the night before. “She is probably just grateful. How could she be indifferent to the person who had helped her in such a noticeable way. She knows I admire her. How could she not? But there is no need to take it further. Play it cool, Andy.” Convinced that she should and could keep her true feelings closely guarded, Andy knocked on the door.

It was only a moment before the door was opened by the subject of her musings. “Hello, Andrea. Please come in.” The older woman stepped aside to make room.

Andy was pleased that she was able to keep from gasping at her first look at Miranda. The editor had not updated her editor's page picture in years, and nothing that Andy saw on Page Six did her justice. Andy stumbled as Miranda’s signature perfume invaded her senses. “Oh, God! How will I possibly survive this!” Andy’s internal plea was answered by a four-year-old tornado throwing herself in her arms. She was so happy to see her daughter that for a moment all other thoughts fled.

“Momma, come see Cassidy and Caroline and the ponies.” Mandy was hopping from foot to foot impatiently. She grabbed her mother's hand and excitedly pulled her further into the house. Andy stiffened and stopped as she was dragged towards the stairs, stairs she had climbed once before with disastrous consequences.

An assistant never goes past the table with the flowers on it. That was one of the first rules of delivering the book to Miranda. Tricked by the twins, Andy had ignored the rule and walked in on an argument between Miranda and, her then-husband, Stephen.

Miranda sighed and put her hand on Andy’s shoulder. She leaned in and quietly whispered, “You are a guest now; nothing is off limits.”

Andy hoped that Miranda didn't feel the shiver those words inspired. The vision of a room where Andy would like to spend time flashed through her mind. Andy nodded her thanks and allowed her daughter to continue to pull her up and to the family room where Cassidy, Caroline, and a plethora of ponies awaited them.

“Cassidy, Caroline, this is my Momma.”

Andy smiled and looked down at her daughter. “The girls and I have met before, Sweetheart.” Both girls blushed and looked down at the floor. Andy laughed. “Let’s let bygones be bygones, okay, guys?”

They nodded, and Cassidy spoke up. “I love your books. The pictures you did of Mom are awesome.”

Caroline giggled and added, “Oh, yeah. We loved the one with the ice-beam eyes. We get that look a lot. You did a very realistic job!”

Andy laughed. “I know, right! I got that look a few times myself.”

A loud “Hrrumph” was heard in the door way. “Show your mother the ponies, Dear Heart. Then you, the only person who isn't picking on me, can join me for lunch.”

“Be nice, Momma,” Mandy said. “Randa and I made macaroni and cheese.” The young girl looked up at her friend. “She can have some if she is nice, right? If she promises?”

Miranda cocked her eyebrow as she looked at Andy. Her lips were twitching in amusement as she said, “Well?”

Andy smiled, “I promise.”

They all took a few moments to admire the ponies before going downstairs to eat lunch. Andy’s fear of an awkward meal was quickly dispersed by the teenagers and Mandy. They carried on a lively conversation while Andy tried to adjust to being in Miranda’s presence after so long.

“Girls,” All three looked up at Miranda. “Please set Miranda up with a nice movie to watch. I'm sure you have homework to do while she is watching. I would like a few minutes to speak with Andrea.”

Andy couldn't decide if she was more annoyed with Miranda’s presumption or afraid of a private chat between the two of them. The kids, however jumped up to do her bidding. Mandy hugged her mom and said, “I am glad you are home, Momma,” before taking off after her new idols.

***

Miranda lead her Andrea to the formal living room. She held in a smile as she thought, “If I am her Randa, then she is my Andrea. Fair is fair after all.” The women each took a seat in a comfortable chair across from each other, with a coffee table between them.

Miranda looked at Andy solemnly. “Why?” was all she said, and then she just waited.

“Why what?”

Mandy’s affable friend suddenly disappeared, and Miranda felt her editor persona take over.

“Why everything?” She said rather caustically. Miranda was internally cringing at her own tone of voice, but the hurt and anger she felt toward- Andrea at that moment overrode any of the other emotions that she felt.

“Why fashion books? Why me? Why expose yourself to help me?” And then without even realizing it was about to happen, Miranda raised her voice, something very few people had ever heard. The hurt in her words was palpable as she said, “Why desert me in Paris?”

Miranda took a moment to calm down. “There so many whys to choose from. You pick.”

Andrea’s face was ashen as she stood up. “I’ll just get Mandy and go. Thank you for your help.”

“No,” Miranda said sharply. She fought to control her emotions and gentled her voice. “Please stay,” she added.

****

Andy studied the older woman’s face before sitting back down. “I don't know all the answers to your questions. Why you is easy: no other editor in fashion can do what you do. You told me so yourself.” Andy noticed Miranda was trying to smile at the compliment, trying and failing dismally.

Andy continued. “I couldn't help but notice the fascination that people have with you. Did you see any of the interviews? My books got two seconds of the interview before it became all about you.”

Miranda was able to pull off a tight smile at that. “Yes, Andrea, I saw them all. You were very clever in your answers. Getting my coffee is now part of the interview process. The last time we were hiring for an assistant, I had fourteen cups of coffee delivered in a three-hour span. Emily used a thermometer after I refused to taste another cup. ”

Andy laughed. “You are joking, right?”

“No,” Miranda shook her head. “I then had the pleasure of grading their quizzes. Actually that part was rather fun. Question One: If there were an emergency evacuation and you could only take three things from the building on the way out, what would they be? I gave the job to the woman who answered, ‘Miranda’s coat, Miranda’s purse and Miranda.’ She is first assistant now.”

“Oh my God, that was a great answer. What were the other questions?”

“I don’t know,” Miranda replied with a wry smile. "I didn't ever need to go beyond the first one.”

Andy grinned before becoming serious. “Why fashion? Also an easy one. I learned so much at Runway I needed to put it to good use. And since I learned it all from you, who else would I dedicate them to?”

“I see,” Miranda replied. “You were never planning to reveal yourself?”

“No,” Andy shook her head. “I didn't plan on it.”

Miranda looked deeply into Andy’s eyes, as if trying to see into her thoughts. “But you did, and it was for me?”

“Yes,” Andy nodded.

“So again the question is why?”

Andy became lost in Miranda’s eyes. She almost missed the question. “I don’t…I guess a lot of reasons. Irving couldn't win; it would ruin the magazine. I know you may not believe this, but I am proud to have worked there. It meant something to me.”

Once again Miranda’s voice changed to frosty. “Loyalty to the magazine from the girl who deserted it in Paris.”

Andy felt the words like a blow to the stomach. She closed her eyes to keep the tears from falling. “Not just Runway, I wanted to help you.”

“And yet again, why?”

Andy shook her head and stood up again. It was like the rejection of her family and friends all over again. “So that's what this all was about. Help me out with Mandy, pretend you want to be our friend, lie and say you missed me, all to rake me over the coals about Paris. I don't work for you. I don't have to take this. My daughter and I will go.”

“Yes, your daughter, Miranda, there is another big why.”

Andy’s teeth were clenched as she spit out her answer. Short, clipped sentences were all she could manage. “She was early. It was touch and go. The doctor said she would only survive if she were a fighter. He suggested giving her the name of the strongest person I knew as a talisman. People can say many things about you, some true, some not. But no one could say you are weak.”

Andy took a deep breath and continued. “When I heard that you were on the ropes, I wanted to send some of that strength back to you.” Andrea shook her head and gave a derisive chuckle. “I guess I just couldn't stand by and let Miranda Fucking Priestly be a victim of the patriarchy.”

***

Miranda gazed into Andrea’s eyes. She tried to convey confusion and remorse for her behavior, but she knew that words were needed. She spoke in a quiet, tentative tone. “I do want to thank you for everything you have done. There was no deception. I have missed you.” Miranda looked down at her hands which were clenched together. “I would like to mend bridges and build a friendship if you will give me the chance.”

Andy hesitated. Miranda could see conflicting emotions warring on her face, but finally she nodded. “We need to go now, but if you invite us, we will come back. Only call if you are willing to leave the past in the past.” Andy stood up and started walking to get Mandy.

Miranda nodded and followed her face softened. She nearly smiled. “Andrea, in your next interview maybe you could do me another favor?”

Andrea cocked her head to indicate she was listening. “Okay...”

“Could you tell the world my middle name is not Fucking.”

Andrea did smile at that. “Okay, what is it?”

Miranda smiled back. “I didn't give myself one. Feel free to make one up. I’ll swear by it.”

“Wow, that’s a big responsibility. What if you don't like it?”

“Well,” Miranda replied, “as your other Randa can attest, you have an excellent track record for names. What is her middle name?”

“It is Chanel, Miranda Chanel Sachs. You know, I love to wear Chanel.” Andrea looked Miranda up and down. “I know,” she exclaimed “Miranda Valentina Priestly.”

Miranda stared at her, wide-eyed. “You wouldn’t, would you?”

Andrea just laughed.