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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.

Chapter Text

It was over two weeks before Miranda called Andy. Recognizing the personal ring tone she had assigned to Miranda, Andy breathed in deeply before answering. “Hello, Miranda.”

“Yes, Andrea, hello,” Miranda answered, and then there was silence.

Andy shook her head at Miranda’s awkwardness. “What can I do for you?”

“Oh, well, I want you to join me for an early lunch tomorrow. Miranda has morning play school, does she not?”

Andy began to bristle at the command, but Miranda continued quickly.

“If you are free and would like to, I mean.”

Andy grinned at the turnaround, now amused instead of offended. “Yes, Miranda, I would like that. Where and when?”

They agreed to meet at a small diner where neither one was likely to be recognized. Andy could see, in her mind's eye, Miranda shivering at the thought of eating at such a place, and she grinned impishly.

***

Smooth, Miranda, the editor thought to herself. I am sure summoning her to lunch was a great beginning to mending fences! She shook her head in disgust but pushed such thoughts aside as she watched Andrea sit down across from her.

The lunch started out as anything but smooth. After ordering, they just stared at each other across the table. For God’s sake, Miranda, say something.

“How is Miranda?”

“How are the girls?”

Both women had spoken at the same time. Andrea chuckled, and Miranda rolled her eyes.

“Fine,” said Miranda as Andrea replied at the same moment.

“Good.”

Miranda reached out and put her hand over Andrea’s as if to say I’ll go first. She looked into the younger woman’s eyes and asked, “Is it supposed to be this hard?”

Andrea shook her head. “No, but when have we ever done things the easy way?” She grinned. “We are both pretty successful people. I am sure we can do this. Be friends, I mean.”

Miranda nodded. “It is easier with the girls around. I...I don't really know how to do this, to have a friend.” Miranda cringed internally as she thought, Especially when I want so much more. Oh lord, I don't actually know how to do that successfully either.”

A short gasp from Andrea brought Miranda out of her musings. Her hand was still atop Andrea’s, and she had unconsciously started to rub the younger woman’s wrist. Looking across the table, she noticed Andrea was a little flushed and her eyes were wide.

Caught in Miranda’s gaze, Andrea’s tongue peeked out to nervously lick her lips. This inspired a hitch in Miranda’s breath. She pulled her hand slowly away from Andrea’s as the women locked eyes. The matching flush on their faces was obvious to both women.

Slowly, without breaking eye contact, Andrea reached out and pulled Miranda’s hand back toward her. “I um…I like this.” She stroked her thumb along the delicate wrist that she had captured.

Miranda cleared her throat. “I do as well.” A noticeable quiver in her voice was present. She gave Andrea’s hand a squeeze just before she again pulled her hand back. “I like it very much.”

Their silence became more comfortable once their meal was served. As they ate, they broke it by filling each other in on their lives over the past five years. Miranda was not surprised to learn that Miranda had been a handful from the beginning.

“She is smart, you know?” Andrea’s voice showed that she was a little in awe of her child. “She already reads. At first I thought she was just reciting what I read from memory, and I was really impressed. When she started preschool, the teacher told me that she was reading and I should have some tests done.”

“And did you?”

Andrea nodded. “I did. She is not just smart; she’s scary smart. She already reads well above her age level. One minute she is a normal four-year-old, laughing at Sponge Bob, and the next minute she is telling me about some article from The Times. It is hard to keep up with her. I know it comes from her dad’s family.”

Miranda's eyebrows rose in disbelief. “The cook? Really, Andrea, I am sure it came from you.”

Andrea shook her head. “Nice of you to say, but his family has geniuses. Her grandfather was a medical scientist, and the family is filled with artists, good ones. Nate’s art was food. His mother was a sculptor, and his grandmother was amazing with anything on canvas.”

“So that is where Miranda gets her eye for color. When we played editor,” Miranda chuckled as she did every time that game was mentioned, “I noticed her artistry in arranging the collages. I really enjoyed my time with her. The girls did, too."

Andrea smiled. “She was very excited to be at your house. It’s the only explanation for her not noticing her great-grandmother’s painting in your family room.”

Miranda’s eyes widened as she quickly cataloged the paintings in her house. “The Crossing at Chincoteague? My girls picked that out at a show when they were Miranda’s age. It is wonderful!”

Once again both women found themselves speaking simultaneously as they each exclaimed, “And filled with ponies!” They both chuckled.

Miranda continued, “As I recall, much of Jane St. Clare’s work centered on animals, horses in particular. I also have some of her daughter's, Stephanie’s, work. Remind me to show Miranda the sculpture I have. I am sure she will enjoy seeing her grandmother’s stork on my terrace.”

“Stork? That is not one I would picture you buying.”

Miranda grimaced. “I didn’t. It was a gift from the girls' father when he found out we were having twins. He thought he was very funny. As it turned out, the stork grew on me, but the man didn’t.”

***

After a few more pleasant observations, Andy was shaking inside, knowing she had to bring up a topic that would probably ruin what had turned out to be a lovely lunch. “Miranda, I have to tell you about my next interview.”

Miranda cocked her head in question. “You sound as if I won’t approve.”

"Yeah, well." Andy took a deep breath and continued quickly, “It’s with Vogue.” She put her head in her hands and waited for the hammer to fall. When it didn't come, Andy slowly looked up and found herself gazing into blue eyes, twinkling with mirth.

“Poor, Anna,” Miranda said almost gleefully. “I get a book and six weeks of publicity, and she gets an interview that will give me even more attention. Oh, Andrea, it is positively delicious.”

“You aren't mad it isn't Runway?”

“Of course not; it’s business. And really, I’ll get more publicity out of it this way.”

Andy shook her head, bemused. “I don’t think I will ever understand you.”

Once in the car, Miranda instructed Roy to take Andy home before bringing herself back to Runway. Andy’s breath became a little ragged as Miranda put up the privacy screen and turned to her, taking her hand.

“Am I wrong,” the editor asked softly, “in thinking that there may be more in our future than friendship?”

Andy looked at her, speechless. Miranda used the hand she was holding to slowly pull Andy closer as she reached up with her other hand and stroked the younger woman’s cheek.

“I won’t lose you again. If all you want is friendship, tell me now.” Miranda paused, her lips just inches from Andy’s.

Unable to come up with so much as a syllable with which to respond, Andy leaned forward and touched her lips to Miranda’s. It was a fleeting touch, but it pulled soft moans from each woman. When Miranda began to pull back, Andy threaded her fingers into Miranda's iconic hair and pulled her forward.

“No way,” she whispered against the older woman’s mouth. "Can't stop yet.” The next kisses were still gentle and tentative, but the fire flickering in Andy’s heart promised her that there would be more passionate kisses to come.

***

Over the next few months, Miranda and Andrea got together for lunch or brunch at least once a week. Emily had been directed to leave room in Miranda’s schedule around Mandy’s daycare times. Today they were meeting for brunch at The Harrison.

“Before I forget, Mandy wants to talk to you about the editor’s page.” Andrea was smirking as she said it.

“Does she need some help designing hers?” Miranda replied. “Is she working on a new editor game?”

Andrea was clearly fighting to suppress a grin. “No, actually, she wants to help you with yours in Runway.”

Miranda’s eyebrows climbed up on her forehead. “Miranda feels I need help with my page?”

Andrea nodded.

“What exactly does she think I need?”

Andrea held her palms out before her. “Oh, no. I told her I would tell you that she wanted to talk to you about it. I refuse to get involved beyond that.”

“Andrea,” Miranda said in a rather icy tone. “Are you honestly telling me that your four-year-old daughter thinks I need help with my magazine?”

“Yes, Miranda. She feels you and she should meet about it.” Andrea met Miranda’s icy blue eyes unflinchingly. “You opened this door. I did not call you and tell you to go to my apartment to play editor with her. You totally brought this on yourself.”

Miranda gently patted her lips with her napkin. “I see. Well, I guess I will have to arrange a meeting with her. Is she free tomorrow?”

Andrea nodded. “Do you want to have dinner at my place with the girls?”

“Oh, no,” Miranda said, and her eyes twinkling. “This is Runway business and should be handled there.” She pulled out her phone and called the office.

“Emily, when will I have time free tomorrow to meet with a new consultant?” Miranda waited as Emily reviewed her schedule before nodding at the time Emily gave her.

“That will be fine. Block out one hour for Miranda Sachs, that's all.” She looked back to Andrea. “She is on my schedule for a meeting at eleven thirty tomorrow morning. We could have lunch after, if that would suit you.”

Andrea nodded her agreement while looking just a little nervous. “Umm, what are you going to do with her?”

“I believe you heard me tell Emily that I was meeting a consultant, so it would seem that I'm going to consult with her.”

“Okay,” Andy said slowly. “What if you don't like what she has to say?”

Miranda smirked. “I will tell her honestly and then buy her a pony to make her feel better.”

Andrea shook her head, “And if you like it?”

“I will congratulate her and buy her a pony as payment.”

Andrea heaved a big sigh. “You are talking toys, right?”

“And if I am not?”

“I have an interview next week.” Andy replied with an evil grin. “It's funny how attractive Miranda Wang Priestly is sounding. You have always liked Vera’s collections.”

Miranda shuddered even as she smirked. The younger woman had clearly picked up some new skills. She had learned how to play hardball.

***

“Hi, Roy,” Mandy said as she jumped in the back of the town car, pulling Andy in behind her. She had been waiting on the doorstep, hopping up and down on the stairs in her excitement. She was positively glowing as she grinned at Andy.

“We are really, really going to Runway to see Randa?” It seemed that the girl could barely contain her joy.

“Yes,” Andy said as she fondly ruffled Mandy’s brown hair. “Miranda has invited you to talk to her at her office.”

Andy had thought she would feel uneasy as she walked through the halls of her previous work place. She was surprised to find her only feeling was excitement as she headed into Miranda’s outer office. The same excitement she felt whenever she knew she was going to see her beautiful girlfriend.

Emily stood up from her desk as the Sachs entered Miranda’s front office. “Can I help you?”

“Miranda Sachs for Miranda Priestly, I believe we are expected.”

Miranda appeared at her door. “Oh good, you are here. Let’s get started.” She looked over at her assistant. “Emily I trust you can look after Andrea while Miranda and I are in conference.”

Emily looked at Mandy then back at her boss, “Yes, Miranda.”

“We will be wanting refreshments in fifteen minutes. See to it.”

“Yes, Miranda,” she nodded.

Miranda took Mandy’s hand. “Come along, Miranda. I am sure Emily will take good care of your mother.”

Andy grinned as she watched her two Mirandas disappear into the inner office. She looked over at Emily. “The little Miranda likes apple juice. You're on your own with the big one.”

Emily grinned right back. “Is there anything I can get you?”

“Yes, Emily,” Andy replied. Emily waited for her to continue.

After a moment Andy looked up. “I mean yes. I would like to visit with Emily Charlton.”

After a shared laugh, Andy moved out of the office as she said, “I know the way.”

***

Miranda worked very hard to keep her face businesslike as she and her namesake took seats on the couch in her office. “So, I have been told you wanted to talk to me about improving my magazine.”

The younger Miranda nodded very seriously. She pulled a copy of Runway from a bag that she had brought with her. She moved to Miranda and climbed into her lap before opening the magazine to the editor’s page. “You need to change this.” She pointed at Miranda’s picture.

The picture in question was a portrait captured by the world-renowned photographer, Mario Testino. It was a black and white shot of Miranda in her office. The look on her face as well as her posture at her desk declared power with capital letters. “I think it is a very nice picture,” Miranda responded evenly.

The girl in her lap shook her head. “I don’t, so you should change it.” She looked up at Miranda and nodded emphatically.

“Miranda, I need a better reason than that. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it is bad.” She gave the girl a kiss on the forehead to ease her refusal. “So, can you give me another reason to change my photo?”

Young Miranda studied the picture. “You don't look like that anymore.”

Miranda replied wistfully, “I guess I have aged. That picture is older than you.”

“You should have a new one so people can see how much prettier you are now.”

From anyone else Miranda would be looking for an angle, but this was her Miranda. If she said it, she felt it. “I see. What would you plan for the new picture?”

Young Miranda answered without pause, “Color, not black and white.”

The editor shook her head. “It is traditional to have the editor’s page in black and white.”

The impish look on the little girl's face warned Miranda to brace for the answer.

“Randa, I need a better reason than that. Just because something is a tradition doesn't mean it’s good.” She reached up and gave the older woman a kiss on the forehead. “So, can you give me another reason not to change the photo to color?”

“Touché, Dear Heart, what would changing the photo to color do to make it better?”

Miranda looked at her like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “People would be able to see how pretty your sparkly hair is! In black and white, it just looks plain.”

The silver-haired woman nearly choked as she replied, “Sparkly hair? You want people to see my gray hair?”

“Randa, your hair is not gray; it is sparkly. That's why people should see it.”

“I see. Well, why don't you tell me your whole vision?”

The ladies were interrupted by Emily’s arrival with juice and cookies. After indulging, they got back to work.

Once again Miranda reached into her bag. She pulled out a colored sketch of her plan and handed it to Miranda, whose face broke into a delighted smile as she reviewed Miranda’s work. The picture was not a mature portrait or artwork, but it was clearly the beginning of a talent that would rival her grandmother’s. The sprinkle of silver glitter that was mixed into the hair charmed Miranda.

“See? Everything is in color, but your clothes are black and white. If we find someplace with a lot of blue, your eyes will be sparkly, too.”

“To be clear, you believe that I have sparkly hair and sparkly eyes, and they should be displayed every month in Runway?”

“Yup, and your suit should be black and white like in my picture.”

“I see, and have you chosen an ensemble?” Miranda internally rolled her eyes. I cannot believe I am thinking of changing my photo on the whim of a four-year-old child.

Reaching into her bag, young Miranda pulled out last month's issue of Runway. “I found just the right one. I showed it to Momma, and she said you might like it.” Miranda turned to a page with a folded corner. “I like this one.” She pointed to a skirt and top in the Versace spread.

Miranda donned her glasses and studied the pleated tulle, stretch blazer and matching skirt set. “This is a lovely suit. I personally chose it for this spread. I do think the neckline is a little low for me.”

“You are so silly, Randa. I picked it for you as soon as I saw it.”

“I see. Did you mother like it, too?”

“I don’t think so. She told Emily that you would be dangerous in it.” The young girl paused for a moment. It looked like she was trying to remember her mother’s exact words. “She said your fans would be crawling out of the woodwork and she would personally need to buy your assistant a baseball bat.”

Miranda smiled at the mental images inspired by these comments and made plans to buy the outfit. She had no thoughts of using it for the magazine, but being dangerous for Andrea was a grand idea.

“You have to change the button, though.” Miranda cocked her head in query. “It needs to be silver.”

“I see,” Miranda said dryly. “You want it to match my hair?”

“See! I knew you would understand.”

“And if Donatella doesn't want me to change it to silver? What then?”

The child stared at Miranda and said nothing. Miranda stared back.

After a moment the child raised her eyebrows and said exasperatedly, “You are Miranda Priestly, right?”

Miranda grinned and tapped young Miranda on the nose as she replied, “And don't you forget it!” As they stood up, she asked her young friend, “And who have you planned to do the shoot?”

“Demarchelier, Victor not Patrick,” she answered confidently. Miranda was taken aback.

“Victor? I always use Patrick.” Miranda saw the return of the impish expression and put her hand up before her little consultant even opened her mouth. She said, “I know; just because it’s a tradition… yada…yada.” They were laughing together as they left her office.

The three ladies had a lovely lunch at Asiate, a restaurant young Miranda liked to frequent since it overlooked Central Park from thirty-five floors up. Roy was to deliver Miranda back to Runway before taking Andrea and Miranda back to Park Slope.

Just before they reached her home, Andrea asked, “Are you free Friday evening, Miranda?”

“Yes, the girls aren't though; they will be at their father's house.” The two women had found that the twins were good at keeping Miranda so busy that they got a little time alone. "Would you like to make a plan?”

Little Miranda piped up. “I can’t. I am spending the night will my friend, Jess. We are going to Six Flags in New Jersey, so we have to get up early for the drive.”

Miranda’s heart began beating a mile a minute as she replied, “That will be fun for you. When will you come home?”

“We are going to stay at the park all day, and sleep in the car on the way home!”

Andrea’s eyes were practically burning a hole in Miranda’s Chanel top. Her voice was very husky as she said, “I will probably be kind of lonely. I thought maybe you would come over for dinner and a movie. Maybe you could keep me company on Saturday, too.”

Miranda licked her lips as she realized months of frustration were about to end. To date, the women had not managed more than a few hours alone. “What time Friday?”

“If you want to see Mandy before she goes, then by five. Otherwise, whenever you want.”

Miranda locked eyes with Andrea as she pulled out her phone. She didn't even look at it as she hit her speed dial. “Emily, clear my schedule from four-thirty on Friday through the weekend, that's all.” As the car pulled up to Runway, Miranda did not lean in to give Andrea even a chaste goodbye kiss, not trusting herself. They shared a look full of understanding and promise before Miranda exited the car. Friday couldn't come fast enough.

***

Andy’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest when she heard her daughter call out, “Momma, Randa’s here!” The little girl had been watching through the window for the last fifteen minutes, waiting for both Miranda and her friend, Jess.

“Hi, Randa.”

“Hello, Dear Heart. Are you ready for your trip?”

“Yup, all packed.” Mandy pointed to a duffel bag by the door.

Miranda looked at the bag and shook her head. “Oh, no, that will never do.”

Miranda had arrived with several bags in hand. She handed Mandy a Louis Vuitton carryall and said, “Switch things over into this.”

Andy was appalled. “Miranda, we cannot send a four-year-old off on an overnight trip with a twelve-hundred dollar duffel bag.”

“Don’t be silly, Andrea. She is four and a half.” Miranda looked over at her namesake. “Do you like it, Miranda?”

“Yes, thank you, Randa. I really like the pink handles.” The little girl went right to switching her things to her new bag.

Andy sighed, knowing she wouldn't win this one. She frowned at Miranda. “You can’t keep giving her things.”

All eyes were drawn back to Mandy as she squealed, “Thanks, Randa!” The bag was not empty. A pair of leopard skin Bed Head pajamas, a pair of Ugg slippers, and a Marc Jacobs swimsuit all came out of the bag. There was more, Andy noticed. Basically, everything a girl could want or need for an overnight and day at the amusement park was already packed.

Andy rolled her eyes and shook her head. “She already has a toothbrush and sunscreen, Miranda. There was really no need to go overboard!”

“Really, Andrea,” Miranda’s voice took on the Runway tone that Andy knew so well. “I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed. It would be very inconvenient for Jess’ parents if they had to bring her back during the night to pick up something that was forgotten.” She looked Andy up and down slowly, letting her know exactly who would be inconvenienced by such an occurrence.

Mandy ran over and put her arms around Miranda's waist. “This is so awesome. I love my new clothes.” Then she ran back to her bags and moved the important things, like her stuffed pony, to the new bag.

Andy held out her hand. “Let me hang up your coat.” Miranda was wearing a very light trench-style coat. When she removed it, Andy couldn't take her eyes off the older woman. “My God, you look …” Andy fumbled for the right word.

“Dangerous?” Miranda quirked an eyebrow and smirked. She was absolutely stunning in the tulle stretch blazer and skirt set that Mandy had chosen.

Mandy looked up and grinned. “I told you that would look good. And Donatella let you change the button!”

Miranda chuckled, “Well, I am Miranda Priestly you know.”

All three ladies laughed at that.

“Are you going to wear that in your new picture?”

“No, Dear Heart,” Miranda said gently. “I agree that this is a lovely ensemble, but it]s not right for the editor’s page.” She ran her hand through Mandy’s hair. “I haven't decided if I'm going to make a change yet.”

Mandy started to pout but was distracted by a car door slamming. “Jess is here,” she yelled. She gave her mother and Miranda each a kiss goodbye and ran out the door. Andy followed to speak briefly with Jess’ dad, Frank Williams. After just a few moments, they were gone. Andy’s heart began beating a mile a minute as she turned to return to her apartment, knowing who was waiting for her.

As Andy reentered her apartment, she watched Miranda hold out both her hands to her. After their hands joined, they kept an arm’s length between them, and took the time to look each other up and down. Andy began to tremble as Miranda spoke in a low, sexy voice, “So you think I look dangerous?” She took a step toward Andy. “Am I the big bad wolf that might gobble you up?” Andy’s breath hitched at those words and the devilish smirk that accompanied them. Miranda stepped in again and brought Andrea’s hand up to her mouth, slowly nibbling and licking each finger. “You are mine, Andrea Sachs,” Miranda practically growled before gently biting Andy’s wrist.

Andy found herself pulled into Miranda’s arms. In the past few months they had shared many kisses: some gentle, some passionate, and some downright toe-curling. None compared to these kisses. These kisses began gently before becoming more demanding. One moment Andy melted as Miranda explored every inch of her mouth with gentle strokes of the tongue, and the next moment Andy felt herself nearly swooning as Miranda nipped her lips, chin, and neck. All Andy could do was hold on for the ride.

“Oh my God,” Andy moaned as Miranda pulled at her hips so that their bodies were flush together. Andy wrapped her hands around her love and turned her head so that they were cheek to cheek. “I've never felt so much before,” Andy said shyly, the huskiness of her voice revealing just how aroused she was. “I really need to sit down.”

***

Miranda smiled at Andrea’s response to her kisses. She moved out of their hug and led the younger woman to the couch. “Maybe a little break, hmm?” Andrea's bashful nod warmed Miranda's heart as they sank into the sofa. As soon as they were seated, Andrea buried her face into the crook of Miranda’s neck, breathing deeply. Sensing that Andrea was nervous, Miranda said, “Is it too much, Darling? Are you not yet ready for this?”

“Oh God, yes, I am ready!” Andrea quickly replied, even as her head remained tucked into Miranda’s neck. Wanting Andrea's nerves to settle, Miranda placed sweet, little kisses on the head of brown hair that was tickling her cheek, allowing her fingers to comb through the silky locks for several minutes as their breathing slowed down.

***

Andy moved so that she was sitting up facing Miranda. “Actually, I was thinking.” She paused, and when Miranda did not interject, she took a deep breath and continued. “Um, that is, I wanted to say that,” her face was now burning hot as she blushed, “I’ve never, you know, with a woman.” She hid her face in her hands and continued in a higher voice, “Have you?” After a moment of silence, she peeked at Miranda through her fingers.

Miranda smiled gently and pulled one of Andy's hands away from her face, gazing at her lovingly as she formulated an answer. “Yes, I have had sex with another woman. This, however, will be the first time I have made love with one. And that is what we will be doing, making love. I won't be thinking about your gender while I pleasure you, my darling. I will be thinking about how much I care for you, and that is all.”

Blue eyes sparkling with love bore into Andy’s brown ones. As they continued to gaze at one another, Andy felt her fear and embarrassment melt away. She stood up and reached out to Miranda, hand-in-hand they walked into the bedroom, both confident that this was right.

***

Miranda felt her stomach clench as she watched Andrea’s nervous eyes turn to passion. The younger woman’s sensual voice curled her Prada-encased toes. “I think Mandy’s choice of a one-button jacket was inspired.” Andrea danced her fingers along the neckline of the top. “I can’t wait to see what is under it.”

Miranda grinned. “Only one way to find out.”

Andrea moistened her lips as she reached for the one silver button. When the jacket fell away, Andrea gasped in surprise. Miranda’s breasts were immediately on display. “Oh my God, you came prepared.” Andrea pushed the jacket off Miranda’s shoulders as she began to lick and nibble on her neck. “Thank God I didn't know you had nothing on under this before.” She cupped Miranda’s breast. “Shit, I would have melted while I was waiting for Mandy to leave.”

Miranda’s responding chuckle was rich, flowing like a river of the world’s best chocolate. She pushed Andrea back gently and pulled at the zipper on the side of her skirt. When it fell to the floor, Miranda wore only her thigh high stockings and red Prada heels.

***

No longer shy and completely overwhelmed by the amazing view before her, Andy pulled Miranda in to a full body hug. She ran her hands up and down Miranda’s naked torso and cupped the older woman’s irresistible backside. She kept one hand on Miranda’s lovely ass as she used her other hand to hold Miranda tightly.. Miranda laughed as Andy marched her backward across the room and to the bed before lowering her to sit on the edge of the bed.

Miranda quickly placed her hands under Andy’s shirt, pushing it up and off. She leaned in and disconnected the front clasp on Andy’s bra and palmed the breast she had just revealed possessively. Miranda chuckled and said, “Not so shy all the sudden, are we?” Andy didn't respond as she stepped back and pulled off her own pants. Now naked and aroused, Andy pushed Miranda back on the bed.

As Miranda had predicted, Andy didn’t think about the fact that she was caressing a woman’s breasts for the first time. All she thought about was that the soft body she was caressing, breasts and all, belonged to Miranda. A body she took great delight in exploring. And as she playfully nuzzled her nose against Miranda’s center much later, she realized that she had never felt so fulfilled while making love, and she reveled in the joy and newness of loving her woman. Her woman.

***

So lost in sensation and wonder, it took a few moments for Miranda to hear Andrea calling for her. “Good God, woman, come up for air already.” Smiling, Miranda crawled up the younger woman’s body. “You are amazing,” Andrea said hoarsely. Her voice was gravely from all of the screaming she had vocalized over the last four hours. Miranda had focused on loving Andrea with the same single-minded intent that she applied to editing. She had explored, tasted, and touched every inch of Andrea's alluring body, over and over. Smirking, Miranda wondered just how long she would have to allow Andrea to rest before she would be allowed to begin loving her again. With a pleased hum, Miranda curled into Andrea's side and closed her eyes. Not too long, she hoped silently before falling asleep.

Chapter Text

Miranda woke up every morning at 5:30. Neither a night of passion nor a night of work could turn off her internal alarm clock. This morning felt better than most. How could it not when she had woken up in the arms of a beautiful woman? After spending a few moments gazing at her love, Miranda quietly arose from the bed. She donned her robe and left the bedroom in search of her laptop and a coffee maker.

**

Andy loved to sleep in. The snooze button on her alarm clock was her friend. It was 8:00 when she rolled over to find the other half of her bed empty. She stretched and smiled as she remembered the events of the previous night. Removing a large t-shirt from her drawer, she pulled it on as she walked out to the kitchen. Andy paused in the doorway to watch Miranda working on her laptop. It felt so natural to find Miranda at work first thing in the morning, wonderful, in fact.

 

“You found the coffee maker,” Andy said with a smile. She walked over and kissed Miranda on the top of her head. As she started to move away, Miranda grabbed her hand and scooted her chair out from the table, pulling Andy on her lap.

“That was not a good morning kiss. Let's try again, shall we?” Miranda said.

Andy smiled and wrapped her arms around Miranda’s shoulders as she leaned in for a proper kiss. The kiss was anything but proper, though. Andy started with a slow and gentle touch of the lips. Miranda allowed that for about three seconds before placing her hands on Andy's head and making love to her mouth. Andy nearly swooned.

By the time they parted, they were breathing hard.

“I have been waiting for you for hours!” Miranda complained.

Andrea rolled her eyes and kissed Miranda on the temple.

“Well, it appears you found a way to occupy yourself. Do you have a lot more to do?”

Miranda shut her laptop with a decisive click and slid Andy off her lap as she stood up.

“I always have a lot more work to do. However,” she said in a husky voice, “I have nothing to do that can’t wait.” She began to pull Andy back to the bedroom. “Your little lie-in gave me time to get most of what I needed done until I go home.” Andy chuckled as Miranda pushed her down on the bed.

“Now in here I have a lot more to do that can't wait," Miranda declared as she slipped off her robe, pulled Andy’s shirt off, and proceeded to demonstrate just what exactly she needed to do.

After two hours of exploring every inch of each other's bodies, Andy begged for a break. “Food, please. I need food.” She looked at her insatiable lover. “Water, water would be good. Wouldn't you like some water?” she asked while pulling her best puppy-dog look, one she had perfected over the years.

Miranda laughed.

“Oh, darling, I would hate for you to starve or expire from dehydration.” She leaned in and kissed Andy on the tip of her nose. “Let's go out for lunch. I fear if we stay in, you will be lunch.” Andy shivered at the thought.

Miranda hopped out of bed and threw over her shoulder, “Join me in the shower?” Andy grinned as she quickly followed her lover into the bathroom.

**

Andy was amazed at how Miranda could go from voracious lover one minute to a composed lunch partner the next. Andy was barely able to look at Miranda’s hands without blushing, and any time Miranda’s voice hit a certain tone, her eyes glazed over. Which of course meant that Miranda used it throughout their meal. “Lord, Miranda, what did they put in your Wheaties this morning?”

“It seems a few years of working in the comfort of your home has reduced your stamina, my Dear.”

Andy huffed, offended.

“Maybe you should come back to Runway. A few weeks of Starbucks runs and you will be better in no time.”

“I think you just want me there so you can chase me around your desk.”

Miranda’s smile was bright as she responded, “Well, either way you would build up your endurance.”

Andy shook her head and asked, “Have you always been so indefatigable?”

Miranda’s face became very serious. “I am fifty-three years old, I've been married twice, and have had lovers both male and female. Yet my feelings for you seem new and exciting.” Miranda looked deeply into Andrea’s eyes. “After you left me in Paris I realized that there was a huge hole in my life. There was a noticeable heaviness in my heart. Everyone thought it was the divorce.” Miranda reached out and took Andy’s hand. “I turned around, and you were gone. I carried on and did my job, but I have not been interested in anyone romantically since. That part of me went into the fountain with your phone.”

Andy started to speak. “I am so sorry. If I had known I was hurting you…”

Miranda put her finger across Andy’s lips. “I do not want an apology. I spent the last four years getting closer to my children, and you have found your place in the world.” She removed her finger and smiled gently. “I am just so glad we found our way to each other. Knowing that you enjoy my touch energizes me. I just can’t get enough of you.”

Andy smiled, and her thoughts turned to her daughter. “I am glad it is such a nice day,” Andy mused. “Mandy had been looking forward to this trip for weeks.”

Miranda nodded, “It is a lovely day. Would you care to join me in a walk with Patricia after lunch? I really do need to get home to her. Tamera lets her out in the mornings when she comes to clean, but she needs a walk.”

“All right; then what?”

Miranda grimaced. “I need to work on the book, darling.” Her face went blank as she waited for Andy’s reply. Andy could see the fear in the older woman’s eyes as she brought work into their equation.

“Miranda, I know how hard you work. I know what it takes to do what you do.” She smiled reassuringly as she continued. “I will not allow Runway
to be a problem for us.” Miranda continued to give nothing away, her face still blank. “I know! We can have book time. I am working on a few new ideas. I can bring my laptop to the townhouse, and we can both work.”

Miranda smiled hesitantly. “I would like that. I'm not ready for today to be over.”

Andy’s smile was bright as she replied, “So the plan is walk the horse, book time, and…" Her smile became lascivious.

Miranda rolled her eyes at Andy’s nickname for Patricia, but after a few moments, her face opened up fully. “I hope I can concentrate during book time since I know I will be thinking about and…!”

***

Miranda looked at the floor of her home office. Andrea was sitting against the couch as she surfed the web for information about Siamese cats. She had confided in Miranda that she had become enamored with the straightforward prose and concepts she was able to use when writing for children. She also was amazed that her limited artistic abilities made for good illustrations.

“Are you comfortable, darling?” Miranda asked.

Andrea looked up at her words. “You do realize this is the third time you have asked me that question, right?” Andrea said as she shook her head in amusement.

 Miranda blushed as she replied. “I should order another desk if book time is going to be a common occurrence.”

“Miranda my answer hasn't changed.” Her voice became exasperated. “I'm comfortable. I work on the floor at home. However, an art table for Mandy might be a good idea.” Now Andrea’s voice became hesitant. “She is not away very often you know. You’ll have to work with that. If this,” she waved her hand between the two of them, “is to continue, she will be with us more often then not.”

Miranda chuckled. “Well, I guess we can schedule child time as well as book time. I do have two of my own you know.”

Andrea nodded, apparently pleased by the idea.

Miranda continued. “Actually, I think we have the child time down pat. We will have to navigate us time.” She hesitated then continued, “The children will need to know.”

Andrea laughed. “I know Mandy will be fine with it. My days are filled with Randa this and Randa that, morning, noon, and night.”

Miranda smirked. “Cassidy and Caroline will also be receptive. I believe that they have been hinting at their approval of the idea for quite some time.”

Andrea looked deep in to Miranda’s eyes. “So you will stay with me tonight? Even though Mandy will be there when we get up, you will stay?”

Miranda moved from her desk and kneeled down next to Andrea. “I would love to.” Her voice got husky. “What would you say to a break in book time and a little bit of…”

Andrea moved so the two women’s foreheads were touching. “I would say, Oh, yeah.”

***

Andy was grateful that Mandy did not wake up as Frank carried her in and put her to bed. The children had put their pajamas on before they had left New Jersey; so it was a simple transfer from car to bed.

“Hey Andy,” Frank asked, “where did you get that overnight bag? Jess loved the pink handles and has decided it is all she wants for her birthday.”

Andy internally cringed as she sent evil thoughts to her sleeping girlfriend. Frank would never be able to finance that kind of gift. “I will have to check with Miranda,” she lied. “I'm not sure where she got it. It may just have been something she had around.”

“Okay, let me know.”

Once Andy got back in bed, Miranda opened her eyes and asked, “Home safe and sound?”

Andy nodded and bopped Miranda on the head. It was a gentle touch, but it clearly conveyed her irritation. “Jess loved Mandy’s bag so much it is all she wants for her birthday.” She snuggled into her lover's body as she declared, “No more over the top gifts.” She felt Miranda stiffen. “Okay, no more over the top gifts that she will use with her friends. I have no idea how I am going to break it to Frank that it would cost him a week's pay to give Jess a bag like Mandy’s.” Sighing, Andy closed her eyes. She'd figure out what to tell Frank tomorrow.

***
As on the previous day, morning found Miranda up and working in the early hours. This time she was concentrating on a more in-depth look at the Book. Yesterday’s distractions made a second look necessary. After a couple of hours she looked up, smiling at her young friend's gasp upon seeing her in the living room.

“Hi, Randa!” The child ran over and climbed up on the editor’s lap. Miranda gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Hello, Dear Heart. You are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning.”

The younger Miranda giggled. “Why are you here? Did you stay to keep Momma company? Are you going to make my breakfast?”

“Oh my, you are a morning person. Why don't you let me answer one question at a time?"

"Okay." The child nodded. “Why are you here?’”

“I stayed to keep your momma company.”

“Did you sleep in the guest room?”

Miranda felt like a bomb had dropped in her lap. She and Andrea had agreed to tell the children, but she had anticipated that they would each be telling their own children. She took a deep breath.

“No, I slept in your momma’s room.” She waited on tenter hooks for the next question.

“Man, Cassidy is going to be mad.”

Miranda’s eyes widened at that comment.“Why would that be? She likes your momma.”

 “Yeah, but she owes Caroline twenty dollars now.”

“Excuse me?”

“Caroline said you would start being girlfriends this weekend. But Cassidy said you were too lame and would take longer.”

Miranda tried to keep her voice from getting too chilly as she decided how she was going to torture her girls, not only for the bet but for letting Miranda know about it. “What did that mean exactly, that we would become girlfriends?”

Miranda giggled. “That’s what I asked Cassidy. She said it is like when being away from each other makes you sad so you both agree to be together more so you don't feel bad.” Miranda nodded relieved that Cassidy had kept it age appropriate.

“So how do you know we are girlfriends now?”

Miranda giggled some more. “Caroline said that when you like someone so much that you want to hug them like a stuffed pony even when you are sleeping, it means you are girlfriends. Did you hug Momma like my stuffed pony?”

Miranda threw back her head and laughed at the absurdity of the question. “Yes, it makes me sad to be away from your momma, and I do like to cuddle with her. So I guess we are girlfriends by the twins' definition.”

"Cool. Sometimes you can cuddle people who aren't your girlfriend, right?” She looked at Miranda shyly.

“Well, only if they are very special people.” She pulled her young friend in for a hug before pulling back. Tapping Miranda on the nose with each word she said, “And you are very special people.”

“So are you gonna?”

“Am I going to do what?”

“Make breakfast, silly?” Miranda asked, not realizing the import of the previous questions and continuing on with her morning thoughts. With a nod, they made their way to the kitchen.

While they were cooking Miranda said, “I hear Jess really liked your bag.”

“Yup, she likes pink, too. Her sister, Macy, likes blue. Do they make them with blue handles, Randa? Jess wants one for her birthday, and Macy does, too.”

“Yes, the bag comes in many colors. How many siblings does Jess have?”

“Only her and Macy, oh, and Tina. Tina is only sometimes, though. Her mom is sick a lot, so she stays with Jess. They are foster sisters.”

“I see; does Tina have a favorite color?”

“I'm not sure. She is sad a lot, and doesn't talk much. She wears a lot of purple, though.”

Miranda nodded thoughtfully.

In spite of her relief that her daughters had taken care of the girlfriend talk, Miranda was not happy about the bet they had made or Miranda’s knowledge of it. As a repercussion, Miranda planned to require the girls to donate twenty dollars to the charity of her choice. They would learn to not place bets on her happiness.

***

When Frank Williams came home from work, he was greeted at the door by some very excited children. “Dad, there is a big box for you! Can we open it?” Frank glanced to his wife and then the box. She handed him a card.

“It was delivered by some kind of private courier service. This came with it.” He raised his eyebrows in surprise and read the card out loud.

Dear Mr. Williams,

I wanted to thank you for the wonderful time you gave Miranda Sachs at Six Flags. She is very special to me, and I was delighted to hear her exciting tales of the day.

Miranda mentioned that your daughters liked the bag I had given her. Due to my position at Runway magazine I am frequently gifted with products from designers. As I am in the fashion business, it would not be good politics to tell people like Louis Vuitton that I don't need a new bag every season. I hope you will not be offended that I am doing what my daughter calls "re-gifting," but I am thrilled with the opportunity to make a little space in my closet.

Sincerely,

Miranda Priestly

Jess and Macy squealed as the contents of the box were revealed. Inside were three sets of Louis Vuitton soft-side luggage, some small Prada purses, and a selection of accessories in the colors of pink, blue, and purple.

Tina stayed toward the back of the room. Mysterious packages for the Williams family did not mean anything to her; why would it? When Frank came over and handed her the purple gifts, her share of the booty, she didn't know what to do. The words “Thank you” slipped out of her mouth without her even realizing it. Tina could speak and would answer direct questions, but it was the first time since she had started staying with the Williams that she had spoken spontaneously. It was the first time that she felt she could be a part of a family.

 

***

“I got a call from Frank Williams today." Miranda and Andy were enjoying their weekly lunch date.

Miranda cocked an eyebrow in question. “Mmm,” she responded.

“It seems that you were cleaning out your closet and found all kinds of merchandise in his daughters' favorite colors, all three of them.”

Miranda looked at her imperiously. “You are aware of what is sent to me. Is there a problem with my passing along samples to someone who will appreciate them?”

“No, Miranda. At first, Frank was a little put out by such a significant gift. Once I explained to him exactly who you are, he believed the whole cleaning out the closet story.”

“The third child, tell me about her.”

“Tina’s mother, Nancy, is making many bad choices. Her last boyfriend was a drug dealer who beat her up pretty badly. Tina came home from school to find her mom bleeding and close to death on the floor. Child services got involved and are trying to help Nancy take care of Tina. When it gets to be too much, she stays with the Williams family. They would adopt her, but the state keeps trying to help the family to reunify. I think this time Nancy went too far. Tina was home alone for three nights.”

“The child is getting help for emotional issues?”

Andy nodded. “The Williams are doing what they can. Her mother doesn't keep her appointments, though, and not all psychologists will take the state insurance. They would gladly do more, but the stipend they get from the state is not much."

“I see. Please remind Mr. Williams that I am constantly gifted with clothing for the biannual Teen Runway addition. If I were to have his children's sizes, I would appreciate having someone to take the clothing off my hands.” Miranda believed that comfortable, well-made, beautiful clothing could lighten a burdened soul. As Tina’s soul was more burdened than most, Miranda would make sure she received the best at a regular basis. By sending equal gifts to her foster sisters, Miranda would make sure that the child felt a part of a family, not a charity recipient. 


 

***

“Randa?”

Miranda looked up from her papers. It was book time at the townhouse. While Miranda and Andrea worked, young Miranda often did art work at the second desk Miranda had added to her office. She had actually add it to the office for Andrea. As the younger woman had warned, she never used it. Andrea had been exasperated that Miranda hadn't believed that she preferred sitting on the floor. So the desk became young Miranda’s art desk.

“Yes, Dear Heart?”

“Can I come to a fashion show with you?”

Miranda’s eyes widened in surprise. “Why would you want to do that?”

“I just do," the young girl said. “Did you ever take Caroline and Cassidy with you?”

Miranda smiled at the memory. “They hated it. By the time it was over, Dianne was barely speaking to me, and three dresses were ruined because they had gotten into a food fight.” Miranda chuckled. “It is lucky for me that Dianne had felt inspired that year. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to justify the extra pages I gave her in Runway that month!”

Little Miranda giggled.

“After that we would take other kinds of trips. They would pick the place. When Cassidy chose, it was invariably the zoo or aquarium. For Caroline it was different each time. She often liked to go to the tourist attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the wax museum, or just ride around on the subway.”

“If I promise to be good and not throw anything, can I come?”

“I am going to see a new designer on Thursday.” She looked over at Andrea. “Would you be amenable to Miranda and I having an outing?”
Andrea nodded at them, smiling.

"Cool. You wanna see my drawing?” Young Miranda frequently jumped from topic to topic.

Miranda looked at her sternly, correcting her poor annunciation, “Do you want to see my drawing?”

“Ok,” said Miranda giggling, “but can I show you mine first?”

Miranda rolled her eyes as Andrea let out a loud guffaw. The editor held out her hand for the drawing. It was a portrait of Miranda. As last time there was a little glitter mixed in with her hair. This time there were blue sequins glued to her face to represent her eyes. Once again Miranda marveled at the quality of the art. Not quite ready for the dining room wall, but clearly it was an indication of raw talent.

“I drew you a special dress.” The child gazed excitedly at her friend. “Do you like it?”

“Yes, sweetheart. It is very nice.” Miranda was surprised at how the lines of the dress were actually very realistic.

“The top is lilac. Why don't you ever wear lilac? It’s pretty.”

Miranda grinned, thinking of previous discussions with other designers who had tried to put her in lilac. She hated lilac.

“Well, I guess the right gown has not come to me in lilac. Maybe when the next one comes, it will be the right one.”

“I don’t think you should wear any more dresses from that Tosman guy.”

“Really? I discovered him myself. I think his gowns are lovely. I wore one at the charity ball last month, and he is making one for me now for the Met benefit in two months.” Miranda was a little miffed. Miranda was the only person who had ever challenged her taste. It was quite frustrating to have to react reasonably to it. Especially with Andrea watching and trying not to laugh.

“You should get Donatella to make you one. Her dresses are always right for you; Valentino is good, too.”

Miranda worked to keep the irritation out of her voice. “I need reasons, Honey. You know I am always going to ask you for specifics. If you say something is not good, you have to say why."

Brown eyes locked on blue. “I don't know really.” Miranda’s eyebrow raised letting Miranda know that the answer would not suffice. The little girl took a deep breath and looked at the ceiling. “When someone good makes you a dress, I think, Randa is so pretty and that is a nice dress. When he dresses you, I think that is a nice dress, and it looks pretty on Randa.” The child thought for a moment longer. “It’s like a good dress decorates you. You aren't supposed to decorate the dress.” The child nodded her head definitively. “So, yeah. The Tosman guy shouldn't get to dress you unless he figures that out."

Miranda was speechless. This was the first time she really understood what Andrea meant by scary smart. What she just had heard was worthy of any employee from Runway, and quite frankly, most of them wouldn't have noticed or been able to explain it. Without even realizing it, Miranda had her phone in hand and was speed-dialing Emily. When the woman answered, she started without preamble. “Call Tosman and tell him he will meet with me and Miranda Sachs before the Santi showing on Thursday. That's all.”

She looked at the young girl. “You can come and see what you think of the gown he is making for me. Can you do this with an open mind and judge this gown on its merits instead of on your opinion of his past gowns?”

Miranda nodded emphatically as she said, “You never know; maybe he got better.”

At this Andrea began to laugh uncontrollably. Then she took a deep breath and choked out, “Once again I remind you that you brought this on yourself.” Both Mirandas glared at her. “God, I wish I could tape these conversations for Nigel and Emily.” And she started to laugh all over again.

Once everything settled down, Miranda looked over to her mother and asked, “Are we staying here or going to the other home?”

Over the past six months, the overnights between families had become more frequent. Young Miranda had taken to calling both places home. They were so at home here that Miranda’s recent fifth birthday party had been held at the townhouse. It was a small gathering of the Priestly, Sachs, and Williams families. Andrea had curtailed Miranda's ideas for party favors and, much to her annoyance, warned the Williams what a reasonable level meant to Miranda.

“I didn't bring a bag, Honey, so I think we will be going to the apartment.”

Miranda’s stomach dropped when she realized her girlfriend and child were going to the apartment. It became less acceptable each time they slept apart. “Miranda, would you please go and ask Cassidy if her homework is done?”

“Okay.”

Andrea looked at Miranda, understanding that Miranda had sent her daughter out of the room so they could have a quick conference. “I have clothes for both of you if you want to stay. I didn't want to say it in front of Miranda in case you really wanted to go. But you can stay if you would like.”

They had been so busy during the past week that this was the only time they had been able to spend together all week. Andy walked over to Miranda’s desk and put her arms around her love's neck. She pulled the older woman closer and whispered in her ear, “I’d like; I would really, really like.”

Miranda trembled, the promise dripping off the words reminding of just how long it had been since they had made love. She could hardly wait until the girls were asleep.

***

Bedtime for the girls couldn't come soon enough. By the time everyone was settled in, Andy was practically crawling out of her skin with want. While Miranda checked the girls' homework, Andy took a shower . She donned the nightwear Miranda had thought to provide. Grabbing her cell phone, she lay down on the bed and checked her email while she waited for her partner. Miranda came in soon after.

“You look lovely, darling. I knew that shade would suit you.” Andy batted her eyelashes seductively as Miranda approached the bed. “Though I am not sure why you bothered to put it on since I will be taking it right back off.”

Miranda removed her clothing as she sauntered across the room. By the time she was at Andy’s side, she was gloriously naked. She grabbed the hem of Andy’s nightgown and pulled it up without pause. Fortunately for the nightdress, Andy lifted her body so it would lift up easily. Andy had no doubt that Miranda would have ripped it off otherwise. She was clearly a woman on the edge and was not prepared to wait.

Andy pulled Miranda on top of her Her skin tingled as she held the other woman close to her body and wrapped her legs around Miranda's waist. Miranda took over and started to grind against Andy’s center as she nibbled on her neck. With one hand she reached down and squeezed Andy’s ass in consort with her movements. They frantically rubbed against each other until they crashed over the edge together. There was nothing slow or loving about this joining. It was raw and primal.

Miranda pushed up on her elbows and delivered a slow kiss. Once it broke, she looked into Andy's eyes and smiled. “Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's start again. I am going to love you so well, so well.”

Andy gently scraped her fingernails up and down Miranda’s sides as she replied, “Only you would call having an explosive orgasm as getting something out of the way.”

“It has been so long, darling. It would have been frustrating to try and love you as slowly as I want to. Now the rushing is done.” She got up on her knees, straddling Andy’s hips. She pulled the younger woman’s arms above her head and reached over to her bedside table to grab a conveniently-stored scarf. “You are mine, Andrea Sachs.” Miranda leaned forward and tied Andy’s wrists with her scarf. “Okay?” she whispered, asking for permission.

Andy was so amazed by what was happening, she could only nod her head. After securing her wrists, Miranda used the ends of the scarf to attach the tied wrists to the headboard. Andy could feel that it would not be too hard to pull out of the scarf if she wanted to. But she knew she wouldn't.

Miranda rolled off Andy and lay on her side next to her. She gently began to stroke the sides of Andy’s breast. The pads of her fingers touched her skin as lightly as a whisper. Andy could not help but arch into the touch.

“Not enough, Miranda. Please, baby, don't tease me.”

Miranda kissed Andy again slowly and deeply, ratcheting up Andy's desire, before gently moving her hand down Andy's body, barely touching her, and playing lightly with the soft, curly hair between her legs. Andy moaned as Miranda slid her tongue down her torso as lightly as she was using her fingers, and using the very tip of it, she lapped at Andy’s nipple. It was a touch so light that Andy wouldn't have been sure it was occurring but for the hot breath that caressed her skin along with each lick.

Andy pushed her hips up, trying to force a firmer connection with Miranda’s hand. “Jesus, Miranda! Why are you punishing me? Please, baby, you’re killing me here.”

To Andy's relief, Miranda chuckled and licked the sensitive spot behind Andy’s ear whle adding a little pressure to the hand between her legs.

“You are so wet, my Andrea," she murmured as she rubbed her fingers in the wetness and spread the wetness on Andy’s breasts.

Andy squirmed in pleasure as Miranda sucked and licked Andy’s breasts in earnest, her palm rubbing against Andy’s clit in a maddening rhythm before she gently pushed two fingers inside of her. Andy bucked, not able to hold back any more. Miranda was playing her body perfectly, and Andy was quickly losing control.

“That's right, my Andrea.” Miranda’s voice was low and mesmerizing. “Tell me how it feels.”

Unable to respond, so lost in her physical responses, Andy whimpered when Miranda suddenly stopped all motion.“No, no, don't stop! So good, Miranda, so good,” Andy said desperately, needing Miranda to continue. Thankfully, Miranda’s hand began to move again, thrusting faster and deeper than she had before, and she sucked Andy's breast so hard, it made Andy gasp. It felt so good.

“It’s time, darling," Miranda cooed. “Come for me,” she urged. Andy could feel her inner walls clenching at Miranda's fingers, and she moaned loufly as she ground down with her palm and moved her mouth to Andy’s lips with a soul-searing kiss. The only things that kept Andy from screaming the house down as she fell over the edge were Miranda’s lips locked on to hers and Miranda’s tongue thrusting into her mouth.

Aftershocks shook Andy's body and tears escaped eyes as Miranda quickly untied her, a concerned look on her face. “Darling, I am sorry. Are you hurt? Did I hurt you?”

Once Andy had free use of her arms, she pulled Miranda into a crushing hug. Her body trembled as she sucked on the older woman’s neck. It took several minutes before her body calmed and she was able to pull away.

“That was, that was, my God, Miranda! I don't know what that was.”

Andy noticed how Miranda, clearly seemed afraid she had her in some way and quickly reached out. “I have never felt so turned on in my life. I thought I was going to fly out of my skin.” She delivered little kisses around Miranda's neck and shoulders as Miranda pulled her in tight and stroked her back gently. Sighing, Andrea fell into a deep sleep, the kind that could only be achieved when one was fully sated.

***

As Andy slept on her shoulder, Miranda thought about her conversation with Cassidy and Caroline. After she had checked on their homework, the girls asked her to sit down for a talk.

Caroline started. “We think it is silly that Andy and MC don't live with us.” The girls had decided that saying Andy and Mandy was too cutesy. They really didn't think they could handle calling the younger girl Miranda. Hence the new and final nickname for young Miranda was MC.

“Yeah,” followed Cassidy. “MC shouldn't be traipsing between homes. Little kids need stability, you know.”

“Thank you for that illuminating piece of information,” Miranda replied dryly.

“Really Mom, why haven't you asked them to move in?” Caroline asked.

Miranda thought carefully, not sure how to respond. “We have talked a little bit about it. But we both have our own home. Blending them would be a challenge. Andrea is trying, but she will always feel a little uncomfortable with the past that this house has and what is represents.”
Cassidy and Caroline looked at each other. Their ability to communicate without words was disconcerting to many people. Miranda barely noticed it anymore. She asked them about it once, and they told her it wasn't talking so much as just a feeling where they could tune in to each other to see if they agreed. After several moments, Caroline nodded, meaning Cassidy would voice what they wanted to say.

“Mom, we like this house, but we don't really have to live here. Why do they have to move in with us ? Why don't you find a new house, and we can start being a family there?” Cassidy stopped and waited for Miranda to answer.

Miranda looked over to Caroline and asked, “Do you feel the same?”

“Actually, Mom, maybe this house is a relationship jinx. I wouldn't risk another one here,” Caroline chimed in.

Miranda couldn't help but agree. Moving was a great idea.

“I will take your thoughts under consideration. I ask that you not bring this up with Andrea or Miranda until I have my own feelings worked out on it.” She started to get up but then sat back down. “Are you really okay with this, with Miranda? If we live together you will in effect have two mothers and a new sister.”

Again the girls studied each other quietly. This time Caroline got the nod. “You already know we get along. We are pretty much a family already.”

The twins looked at their mother with the same look they give each other. Miranda was shocked to be included in this communication. It was almost as if they were inviting her in;she could feel their energy.

The girls nodded to each other again, as if they had been probing Miranda for information and had gotten what they needed. Caroline took one of Miranda's hands in hers while Cassidy took the other.

Caroline spoke first. “Let it go, Mom. Dad, Stephen, and the press are part of our family history. They have been a part of our lives and not always a bad part.”

Cassidy piped up, “Well, the press always sucked, but we handled it. When they find out about the change in our family, they will suck again, and we will handle it again.”

Caroline took over. “MC will be lucky to have you as a Stepmom, and we like Andy. Just do it. Okay?”

Miranda nodded slowly and stood back up. “Okay, but give me a little more time," and shaking her finger at them she added, "and no betting!”

***

“Hi Randa,” Mandy called out in excitement as she ran into the office at Runway. “I’m here!”

“Well, thank you for announcing that, Miranda. I am sure I wouldn't have caught on by the great clomping of your feet as you came through the door.”

Mandy laughed and threw herself into her Randa’s arms. In her excitement Mandy did not notice that Randa was not alone. As Randa picked the child up for a hug, she made eye contact with Emily and Nigel.

Randa? Nigel mouthed at her. She rolled her eyes and gave a slight jerk of her head to send them out of her office.

“How did you get here, Dear Heart? I don't see your momma.”

“Roy brought me and walked me to the elevator. I came up the elevator by myself. Momma said I was big enough as long as Roy made sure I got in. And here I am.” The child was positively glowing.

“And here you are,” Randa replied, glowing right back.

Twenty minutes later they arrived at the work shop for Tosman Designs. It was hard for Mandy to control her excitement. When they saw the plans for the gown, Randa appeared enchanted by it. Mandy wasn't as impressed.

“Well, Miranda?” Randa asked. Mandy studied the sketch and the half-finished dress for a moment.

Mandy looked up at the designer. “Tell me about the dress, please. Why did you choose the colors and material?” He turned to look at Randa, thinking it was some kind of joke. Her expression belied that thought.

He started to speak to Randa, but she held up her hand to stop him. “Miranda asked you the question; please address your answer to her.”

“I see. You would like some lessons in fashion.” The next words out of his mouth sealed his fate. “Miranda has lovely pale skin. This material will shine against it. You can see that Miranda has a beautiful slim waist that will show off the lattice pattern of the bodice.”

Randa’s eyes narrowed, and her lips pursed as she took in Mandy’s smirk. She turned to the designer. “I will not wear this gown.”

The designer looked shocked. “I don't understand. This design will look beautiful on you.”

Mandy tugged on his shirt and he looked down at her. “I think you would like a lesson in fashion. The clothes should show the lady is beautiful. You got that backward." She giggled and took Randa's hand, practically pulling her out of the show room. “Come on, Randa. We have to go find you a new dress!”

As they were driving to the show, Randa explained to Mandy that Fredrico Santi was a designer that she had sponsored and showed a lot of promise. “I look forward to your insights, Miranda.”

“Momma said I should be really quiet so you can concentrate.”

Randa smiled at her.

“Well, I wouldn't like a lot of chatter, but you can ask questions and tell me your opinion on the clothes. Emily will meet us there and take notes for me.”

The designer had set up a private fashion show for them. Mandy was happy to find some snacks set up for her and a footstool in front of her chair so that her feet wouldn't dangle uncomfortably.

The show was going well until outfit number twelve. Mandy looked at Randa’s pursed lips and asked if the model could stop so she could look more closely. The young girl climbed right up onto the stage and walked around the woman twice.

“Randa?”

“Yes?”

“You don't like this because this stuff is showing, right?” Mandy pointed to the lining of the jacket that peaked out in several places.

“That is correct. But don't call it stuff. It is lining.” Miranda’s voice was clipped. She hated poor workmanship and the word stuff.

“Randa do you—”

The designer came quickly to Miranda’s side. “I am sorry, Miranda, that was not supposed to be shown. As you can see, it isn't ready.”

 “Excuse me, Fredrico. Are you usually so rude as to interrupt people who are speaking? Or is Miss Sachs a special exception?”

The designer looked over to the child and nodded his head. “I apologize Miss Sachs.”

Mandy smiled. “That's okay. Randa, if he didn't change the jacket but just changed the color of the lining, wouldn't it be kind of cool? It would be like the jacket was peeking at you.”

Randa walked over and twirled her fingers so the model would start from the beginning and come down the stage again. She studied the movement of the jacket as the model was walking.

“Do not change the lines of the jacket. I want it exactly as it is but with an azure blue lining and different fabric.” She grinned over at Mandy and continued. “Merimekko has a wonderful new fabric. It is black with a light silver stripe. Emily will give you my measurements. I will expect it on Tuesday.” She caught Fredreico’s eye and looked at him sternly. “One in blue, only one, ever.” He nodded. “Good, I do think red and emerald green would also work nicely. Have those ready for your next show.”

Randa held out her hand, and Mandy took it. “Well, that was a good day’s work, my darling.”

“I like fashion shows, Randa. Will you bring me again?”

Randa smiled down at Mandy. “Yes, Dear Heart, I think you should come to Fredrico’s next show. We will see how the changes work out.”

As the ladies got in the car Mandy asked, “Is the blue one for you? Is that why he can’t make anymore, so you are the only one who has it?”

“You really have to learn to ask one question at a time. My answers are yes and yes.”

“Do you have a special plan for it?”

Randa reached out and took Mandy by the chin and looked at her, nose to nose. “Yes, I do. I have decided to re-do my editor’s page in color.”

***

“Darling,” Miranda reached out and took her lover's hand. It was a rare morning for snuggling in bed. Caroline and Cassidy had taken Miranda out on a girls' morning to their favorite breakfast place before exploring the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. “I am thinking it is time.”

Andrea cocked her head. “Time for what?”

“I think it is time for us to be known as a couple.” She paused. When Andrea did not reply, Miranda continued. “I would rather control the great reveal rather than be blindsided by it.” She looked at Andrea rather nervously as she paused again.

Andrea shrugged. “I know I’m ready. Mandy and I have talked about what will happen, and she says she is okay with it.” Andrea squeezed Miranda’s hand. “So you think your empire is ready?”

“Well, as it is my empire, it is ready when I say it is.”

Andrea nodded, grinning. “So how do you want to do it? Press conference? Controlled leaks?”

“No,” Miranda said gently. “I want you with me at the Met.”

“Oh,” Andrea replied rather weakly. “So when you come down the stairs, I’ll meet you and…?”

“No.” She gave Andrea an intense, measured look. “I mean arrive together. You will descend the stairs beside me.”

“The stairs." Andrea's voice shook as she replied, “I…everybody will…the stairs?”

Miranda tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice. “So, you’re not ready. It can’t happen slowly. It will be big once it is out, whether it is on the stairs or through the press arriving on our doorstep due to a leak.”

“What? Wait! It’s not the attention that’s the problem,” Andrea blushed. “It’s the stairs. I’ll fall, Miranda. I know I will. The whole room will stop to look at you, and I will trip.” Andrea put her hand to her mouth. “Oh my God, I’ll trip.” Her eyes glazed over as if she was playing the scene in her mind like a movie.

“Darling,” Miranda replied, closing her eyes and shaking her head. “I won't let you fall.”

“Can’t you see it? I stumble, and you reach out to steady me. The next thing you know we are going down the stairs ass over tea kettle.”

Miranda was trying not to laugh at Andrea’s horror.

“Or worse I will grab you and we don't fall, but I rip your dress off.”

Miranda’s mouth began to twitch. Her lover's problems with balance when she was nervous was not a new topic.

“I can see the headlines now. Miranda Priestly steps out with a Justin Timberlake wannabe.”

Miranda could no longer hold it in and burst out laughing.

“Oh, sure laugh now. Tell me, what will you do when you are standing there in a ripped dress with all eyes on you?”

“No worries, darling. Donatella never goes anywhere without needle and thread.” When Andrea didn't laugh, Miranda sighed. “Fine. I will commission you a dress that will work with a low heel.”

Andrea snuggled back into Miranda’s arms. “That reminds me, who are you wearing now that Mandy convinced you to ditch Tosman?”

“I will be wearing a gown, not a who. I am meeting with Donetella today.” Miranda’s breath hitched as she felt Andrea’s hand start caressing her breast. “Do you have any ideas for what you want?”

“I have lots of ideas for what I want. And none of them have to do with clothes.” Andrea pushed Miranda over on to her back and rolled herself on top of her. She began to pepper her love's shoulders and neck with quick little kisses. “Mmm, I will leave the dressing to you.”

Miranda arched her back and moaned as Andrea kissed down her chest and mouthed her breasts. “All done talking now,” Andrea said while continuing further down Miranda’s body.

Other than a few words such as Yes, there, more and Oh, darling, Miranda complied.

 

***

Miranda smiled as she watched her lunch date cross the restaurant. Donatella Versace was one of the few people Miranda considered a friend. “Hello, darling; you look wonderful,” Miranda said as she kissed the designer on the cheek.

“Thank you, Miranda. You also look lovely.” The two women smiled as they took their seats. “I am curious as to why you were so adamant that we meet.” As Miranda scowled, Donatella quickly added, “I am happy to see you, of course. You just don't usually seem so insistent about meeting for lunch.”

“Yes, that's true,” Miranda conceded with a nod. “Let’s order first before we talk about it.” Both women were familiar with the menu, and ordering took no time at all. “I would like to ask you a favor.” Donatella looked at her with such wide eyes that Miranda had a hard time refraining from chuckling.

“Miranda, we have known each other for twenty years. In all that time you have never accepted a favor from me. I make you a dress, you insist on paying one way or another. You have never allowed me to give you a gift.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “You know that is not the case. Designers send me things all of the time. You designed the dress for my birthday celebration and did not charge me for it.”

“Oh yes,” the lilt of her Italian accent was not diminished by the obvious sarcasm. “And the acclaim that I received when your editor’s letter talked about the joy of wearing my couture at your party did not help me at all. Was describing my dress in detail not a form of payment? Come, my friend, admit it. Everyone in the fashion industry owes you at least one favor, and you rarely call them in, almost never for yourself.” The blonde designer was practically wriggling in her seat, as if being asked for a favor was the most amazing compliment. “So what is it that I can do for you?”

Miranda pulled a piece of paper out of her Prada purse. She solemnly looked at her friend. "I need this dress.”

Donatella reached out and took the paper. She laughed. “Is this some kind of joke? It is a child’s drawing.”

 Miranda nodded with a crooked smile on her face. "Study the drawing. I need you to find a way to make a dress that the artist will recognize as her own. It needs to be ready for the Met in two months.” She waited for a response.

“I thought that my English was well-learned. But I am sure I have misunderstand. You want me to use a picture, clearly drawn by a seven-year-old child, to create the dress you will wear for your premier event?”

“No, I want you to make a dress designed by a just turned five-year-old child to wear at Runway’s premier event.”

“It is in crayon. You bring me a fashion design in crayon?” her voice rose to the tone that was the mark of a temperamental artist.

“No,” Miranda answered, amused. She pointed to the picture. “She used glitter, too. See, my hair is sparkly. And the eyes are created with little blue sequins.” How she was able to make these comments with a straight face, Miranda was not sure. The look on her friend’s face was absolutely comical.

“Ah yes, I see.” the designer agreed caustically. “That really does make all the difference.”

“Tella.” Miranda tried to soften her next words by starting with her friend’s nickname, something that she almost never did. “This is the dress I will wear at the Met. If you do not do it, someone else will. If I have to call in every favor that you say I am owed, I will wear this dress at the Met.”

Donatella nodded in understanding. There was a bit of an edge to her voice as she replied, “And your young designer, her name will be on it? I will be her seamstress?”

Miranda reached across the table and placed her hand over her friend’s in a placating gesture. “You know the dress will be more yours then hers. She has picked the colors, but you will pick the fabric and the shades. She has drawn the basic frame, but I need you to make it solid.”

“Lilac, you will let her dress you in lilac. I have asked you many times to no avail, and yet you acquiesce to this child.” Miranda could hear her tone trying to be amicable not resentful, but the designer couldn't quite pull it off. It was clear Donatella was offended by this request.“You will tell me why this is important, and I will decide.”

Miranda closed her eyes and thought carefully about her answer. She was never one to share her innermost feelings with anyone outside of her family. But she knew what was required to get her needs met. “I am in love and have never before felt what I am feeling.” A rare sweet smile erupted onto Miranda’s face as she continued. "This will be the gesture that shows my commitment and devotion. I need to prove I will take risks to make her and her child a permanent part of my life. When I wear this dress, I will offer and ask for a commitment from her .” Miranda chuckled. “What bigger risk can I take than wearing a dress designed by a five-year-old child?”

The Italian shook her head and rolled her eyes. “There is no risk when you bring this to me. It will be beautiful, as you know.” Then her head snapped back as she seemed to realize what was just revealed. “A woman? You are seeing a woman?”

Miranda straightened her back as her face hardened in defense. Lifting her chin up in challenge, she said stiffly, “Yes, a woman.”

“About time,” Donatella said as she smiled and rubbed her hands together with glee. Miranda was surprised and relieved when the designer did not say anything more about her revelation.

Their conversation paused as the waiter delivered their food. The designer focused on the drawing as if Miranda had not just said something extraordinary. “She wants the skirt black?”

“No, actually her exact words were purply-black with a bit of sparkliness so that you think that it is black but it isn’t.” Miranda pointed to the slit on the side. “She said that this is not exactly a slit. It is, and I quote, a folded up silvery triangle that looks like a cut but isn’t.”

Donatella rose her eyebrows as she looked up. “Does the child add -ly on to everything or just to things relating to fashion?”

Miranda laughed and pointed to the upper front of the dress. It was lilac crossing her breast in both directions. “Please do this in a way that does not make me look like the crossing guard from Oz.”

Donatella threw her head back as she emitted a throaty chuckle. The knot in Miranda’s chest loosened as she realized her friend was becoming excited by the challenge rather than offended.

“So whose name will join mine on the dress? Who is the hot new designer that you have brought to the house of Versace?”

Miranda laughed. “Well, this is a conundrum. Her last name probably won't work. I don't think you will want Versace-Sachs! Her middle name is Chanel, so that isn't ideal, either.” The editor blushed as she revealed, “Her first name is Miranda. Most people call her Mandy.”

“I see,” Donatella said as she closed her eyes in thought. “The Miranda CS collection from Versace will be the title.”

“Collection, you will call one dress a collection?”

Donatella gave a shrug that only a European could do perfectly. “She is five,” she replied smugly, as if that explained everything.

After a moment's thought, Miranda had to agree. It was the perfect reason.

“I will also need a gown for her mother.”


Donatella sighed and held out her hand. Miranda’s forehead creased in question. “What?” she asked.

The designer grumbled sarcastically, “Don’t you have another picture. Maybe a three-year-old brother who would like his own collection?”

Miranda grinned. “No, Tella, and it has to be perfect. We are…” she paused while looking for the right word then shrugged. “We are coming out, so to speak. She will accompany me on the stairs.” The designer's eyebrows nearly climbed off her head. “Don’t get all cutesy and make us match. Just make sure we don't clash.” Donatella nodded her understanding. “And no lilac! If I have to wear the color, I don't want to have to look at it as well!”

At that Donatella laughed uproariously, tears running down her face. “You really are in love. My God, the job you are giving me.”

Miranda replied in her fashion maven tone. “Yes, yes, we have established that.” Then she said with a dismissive wave of her hand, “It needs to work in flats or a low, wide heel. She can be clumsy.” She ignored Donatella as she began laughing all over again.

***

Cassidy and Caroline decided to prepare their little sister for what was to come. They had created a new habit of taking her out to breakfast or lunch at least once a week. Their mother never said anything about it. They did, however, often find little presents the next day. Not as payment, just a way that their mother acknowledged her appreciation for their acceptance of the child and the time she was left alone with Andy.

Caroline started the conversation. “Hey, you know our moms are going to the Met ball this weekend, right?" MC nodded. "When we were five we used to go over early with our nanny and see Mom’s gown after she got dressed. She uses an office there so her dress won’t wrinkle in the car.”

“What is really cool is to hide up by the railing and watch when Mom goes down the stairs." Cassidy continued. “Everybody stops what they are doing and watches her like she is Queen of the Universe.”

“Yeah,” Caroline agreed." Then we would stay a little longer and just look at all the people and their clothes. We did it every year for a long time.”

“Do you think Randa will let me?” The girls could tell MC was very excited by the idea.

“I think so; we could go with you and tell you who all the important people are. You have to remember that as soon as she puts her dress on, she is Runway Randa.” The girls shared a look of amusement at the nomenclature. "You can’t hug or kiss her. She can’t be wrinkled or have her makeup smudged.” MC nodded very solemnly. Then Caroline looked over at her sister for a quick twin conference. She nodded to her sister.

Cassidy started on the next topic. “You know our moms are girlfriends, right?”

MC rolled her eyes. “We talked about that a long time ago.”

“Good” Cassidy replied. “And you know that our moms are pretty famous, at least in New York?”

MC seemed to realize that Cassidy was building up to something important, and she said yes quietly.

“At the big ball, at the Met this weekend, they are going to let everyone know they are together.”

“Okay, that's good, right? Now it won't be a secret.”

Caroline jumped in here. “Well, it is good that the secret will be over. But a lot of people will be surprised and want to know more about it. Some people will be very nosy and will ask a lot questions.” MC nodded her understanding.

Cassidy continued. By now MC was used to them switching back and forth.
“There will be people taking pictures and trying to get you to do or say something that they can put in the newspapers.”

Caroline added, “They will say mean things about your momma. They will say things that are not true.”

Now MC was getting a little nervous. “What do I do? Should I tell them they are liars?”

Caroline laughed. “No, you never, ever say anything. You just ignore them. We are going to go buy us some cool sunglasses so that if they are taking pictures at night, the flash won't hurt your eyes.”

“Sometimes they might say something mean and try to make you cry. If we have the sunglasses on, they won't see if you do.” Cassidy said. “Don’t be scared. If they get too close, just hang on to us or our moms.”

MC was clearly nervous. She got up and walked over to the space between the two girls. “You’ll watch me?”

Caroline put her arm around her waist and Cassidy took her hand.

“We are a family now; of course we will.” Caroline gave her a side arm-hug as she said it.

“We won't let anyone hurt our little sister.” Cassidy gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “And wait until you see Mom. She gives them the Miranda Glare. I bet they have to wear diapers so it doesn't show when she makes them wet their pants!” They all giggled at the thought.

“So when they go down the stairs together at the party, it will be a really big deal, okay?”

MC smiled. “Yup, and you’ll be with me."

After breakfast the three sisters went shopping. They came back with several pair of s sunglasses each.

***

When her girls walked in to the townhouse wearing their new shades, Miranda knew immediately what they had been talking about. A new press onslaught always meant new eyewear. She felt a little guilty that the girls felt the need to take care of that lesson but grateful that she hadn’t had to. She even felt a little bit nostalgic about the sunglass shopping.

“Randa,” Miranda shouted as she ran in to the room. “Look! We got pesky press sunglasses. Aren't they cool?” The editor could see Miranda was in hyperdrive from her exciting time with the girls.

“My goodness, yes. Those are fine glasses. There will be no pesky press problems with those to protect you.”

The older girls groaned at the alliteration. Miranda grinned at them, hoping they could see how pleased she was with their actions. Cassidy nodded back her understanding.

Miranda was hopping up and down with excitement. “Cassidy and Caroline said that we are sisters, and they will take care of me!”

“Of course you are, Dear Heart. I know they will.”

“And we want to go to the Met and watch you and Momma in your dresses just like they did when they were five!”

Miranda shook her head, suddenly feeling a bit overwhelmed. “Well, you'd better bring your glasses. It is going to be quite the event.” She took a deep breath and sent an affectionate glare to the older girls. “We will have to ask your momma for final approval. It is a very late night.”

Of course Andrea did give her approval, and the stage was set for the big reveal.

***

Miranda had been to Andrea’s final fitting, so her dress was not a surprise. It was a long black gown off one shoulder with silver highlights. Miranda had smiled when she had seen the slit on the side, which was not a silt but a "folded up silver triangle." It was the only part of the two dresses which were the same. It was just enough to send the message that they were together, but it did not look like they were trying to match. She looked lovely, and Miranda enjoyed that for tonight she would be the taller woman.

Miranda took a deep breath as she prepared to enter the room where her family was waiting. Her dress was an amazing combination of sex and class. She was sure it was the most amazing dress she would ever wear. Donatella had taken Miranda’s concept and made it pure Versace. She couldn't decide if it looked exactly like the drawing or nothing like it. She would know in a minute. Her hand shook on the knob as she reached out to open the door. Andrea saw her first. It was clear her lover was entranced by the vision that was Miranda. Their eyes locked and there was pure lust in Andrea’s eyes. Her gasp had called everyone else's attention to Miranda’s entrance.

Little Miranda squealed. "My picture! Randa, you are wearing the dress from my picture!”

The knots in Miranda’s stomach loosened immediately. Fortunately, the twins had the presence of mind to grab the young artist’s hands before she took off across the room. She only pulled for a second before stopping when Cassidy reminded her, “What did we tell you?”

The child huffed and said, “Don’t rumple Runway Randa.” Everyone laughed. The spell was broken.

“Mom, you look absolutely amazing.” Cassidy gushed.

Caroline smirked. “I always thought you would look good in lilac.” She was fully aware of her mother's feelings about the color.

Andrea remained speechless, but obvious in her admiration. Miranda looked over at the child she had begun to think of as a daughter. “Miranda, come here.”

The child walked over slowly, clearly restraining herself from launching at her. There was enough give in the dress so Miranda could squat down to the child’s level. “I love this dress, and I love you. Do you see the necklace I am wearing?”

Miranda nodded and said, “Yes.”

“It was a gift from Cassidy.” It wasn't really anything special. A plain silver chain that seemed to belong with the dress. Miranda had shown Donatella her accessories before the dress was made. “Look at my bracelet; it was a gift from Caroline.” Again, it was nothing special from a fashion prospective,but perfect for the dress. “And as you know this dress is a gift from you. When your mom and I walk down the stairs tonight, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. I am going to have my whole family with me. I will be with the four people I love most in the world, and that is all that matters.”

“I love you, too, Randa,” the child said.

“I didn't put my lipstick on yet just so I can thank my girls.” Miranda leaned in and kissed the child on the cheek. Then she held out her hands to the twins who each took one and leaned in for kisses of their own. “All right girls; get in position. We are hitting the stairs in five.”

As the girls left, Miranda walked over to Andrea. She took her hand and waited to hear what she had to say.

“You are wearing a dress designed by my five year-old child.” She shook her head, tears in her eyes. “You let her dress you in lilac.” She gave a little hiccuping laugh. “I can’t imagine a more dramatic declaration of your feelings for her.”

Miranda reached in to a hidden pocket of her gown. She pulled out a key with a ribbon on it and handed it to Andrea.

“What is this? I already have a key to your house.”

Miranda smiled gently and said, “Look closely.” She watched as Andy realized it was a blank key. The younger woman cocked an eyebrow and waited. “I was thinking we—you, the girls, and I—could find a place that was worth cutting this key for. Do you think we can?”

“Oh, my God, yes!” Andrea's bottom lips quivered. "Yes, yes, yes."

Miranda walked over to a desk in the corner and pulled out a corsage. Once again she had told Donetella what she would have so that the dress could carry it off. As she attached it to her love, Andrea looked up in shock.

“Freesias, you are decorating me with Freesias?”

“Yes, it is my favorite flower.”

Andrea stared at Miranda with an amazed look on her face. “I spent months running around making sure there was never a freesia in sight, and now you tell me it is your favorite? You really have got to explain that one.”

“Some things are just too special, too wonderful to be treated lightly. Some things only belong in view during the rarest moments. The only thing more precious then a favorite flower is love. I will only tolerate freesias at the most special of times. This is the only time which I have felt to be special enough.”

“I can't believe you did all of this, and I can’t even hug you.”

Miranda replied with a wolfish smile. “Ah, but as the girls are going home and we have a hotel suite, I am sure the anticipation will be worth it.”

Andrea’s face made her displeasure at the wait obvious, but no more so then her next words. “Miranda Freesia Priestly, I have finally found the perfect name.”

“Sorry, darling. I have decided that a middle name is not going to be required.”

Andrea laughed. “Too afraid of my answer?”

Miranda smiled and leaned in gently. She didn't have any lipstick on yet after all. She gently kissed her love's cheek and whispered in her ear, “No, but if at some point we change it to Miranda Priestly-Sachs, a middle name would make it just too long.”

Andrea stared at her in amazement. “You would change your name for me? You never changed it before.”

Miranda kissed her again. “I would change the world for you, and I have never done that before either.”

Andrea’s stunned expression garnered her another kiss. Ater applying her lipstick, Miranda held out her hand and said, “Come along, darling. First the ball room, then the world.”

After sharing a smile they left to face their destiny, hand in hand.