Whatever this was, they were not having sex. It doesn't count when it's your assistant. Who's female. And it's just quick and dirty against the wall in your private washroom. It's not like she even went inside. A few fast rubs across her clit and Miranda had gasped and come like a firecracker, shocking them both speechless.
So definitely NOT sex.
Miranda had blushed faintly and been furious at the fact and tried to distract them both by sliding her hand up Andrea's thigh. Because if she was going to be humiliated by coming ten seconds after having not-sex, she would not be alone. Her hand had gotten as far as the elastic on the doubtlessly cheap Hanes pale blue underwear before her assistant managed to deepen her embarrassment by pulling it away with a strangled "No".
Miranda had looked startled into her wide brown eyes, thinking surely she'd misheard, only to see a firm head shake and a bitten lower lip. Regretful.
"I can't," she'd whispered and Miranda frowned. She snapped her hand away as though it had been bitten. Damn this girl. She'd seen Miranda like this and now she'd…
"It's my time of the month," Andrea admitted quietly, like a plea really, and comprehension dawned. Those creamy cheeks reddened.
Miranda blew a silent snort from her nose and wanted to bang her head against the wall. Nothing reminds one of how ridiculous all of this is when the fact of your not-sexual partner's femaleness gets thrust into your face.
She never had this problem with men, of course. And she, herself, had ceased worrying about the so-called curse almost a year ago. So having a female partner – and an apparently fertile one at that – was a charming reminder of why they were not doing this. Well, even more than they already weren't.
Miranda felt a headache coming on.
Andrea was still looking at her, and finally she whispered hopefully: "But maybe you could, um, y'know, over the top?"
She made a vague allusion towards her underwear and Miranda had an absurd urge to laugh. Rubbing her (annoyingly unrepentantly fertile) assistant chastely through her underwear like they were a pair of teens in high school? She wanted to tell her how absurd that notion was for a powerful woman of her standing. She wanted to ask her what was the point, given this was already humiliating enough. Even as she contemplated the most effective manner of denial, she felt a warm hand draw her fingers back up that soft, welcoming thigh to the vee beneath Andrea's skirt. Their fingers entangled and she felt Andrea rub Miranda's fingers against the cotton.
Well this wasn't ridiculous in the slightest, Miranda told herself with a huff, even as she rubbed methodically through the material and bent forward to improve the angle. I mean how on earth …
Andrea gave a strange gasping sound and Miranda's distracted eyes snapped up and she examined her assistant's face. A vulnerable expression of wonder and delight chased all across Andrea's unguarded features and then her head tilted back to thud softly against the wall. Miranda pressed hard with her thumb against the spot she imagined Andrea's clit to be and watched with savage satisfaction as the girl's face screwed up and she came. Extremely hard. Any humiliation Miranda felt evaporated as she saw the long, wanton shudder and then those wide brown eyes fluttered open and focused on Miranda. The pleasure and desire were unmistakeable.
"Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you."
"Yes. Well." Miranda said cleverly. She let her hand drop.
She would have loved to have smelt her but that would have been just as ridiculous as this entire episode. Her mind derailed as she then contemplated tasting her. She skittered ahead a few days and she wondered how long it would be before Andrea would be … she paused, lips pursing … match ready for her.
She almost asked before her brain kicked in, and screeched her traitorous tongue to a stop. Absolutely not.
Instead she nodded curtly at the girl and stepped away, leaving Andrea to recover in her bathroom, closing the door behind her.
No, no, it was better this way. This way, ending it now, they had deniability. Nothing really had happened.
After all, it wasn't sex. No, no, not sex. Not at all.
Chapter 2: Not Friends
They might be having sex, but that's all it was – because they were definitely not friends, Miranda thought faintly as she came down from the shattering high of her third brain melting orgasm in as many hours.
Yes, it was true they saw each other outside of work but only because that was necessary to have frantic, mind-blowing sex in places least likely to end in anyone's dismissal or public shaming. Which meant no more work quickies – much to Andrea's disappointment. Once was enough.
Miranda paused, blowing a sticky cluster of white hair out of her eyes, as she recalled the woeful pout on the younger woman's face when she'd laid down that dictum. A puppy caught in a rain storm sprang to mind.
She'd live. It's not like Miranda had cut them off entirely. Far from it. Every opportunity they got, at a discreet hotel, the townhouse or Andrea's apartment, they were at it like rabbits. Well-skilled, superbly dressed rabbits.
Because Miranda had outlawed Hanes, too. There were limits as to what she should have to endure in her downtime, and peeling more pale blue cheap underwear down Andrea's legs was a crime against beauty. And Miranda, above all else, worshipped beauty. So, she'd acquired various pieces of lingerie that were more befitting sliding along those smooth, glorious thighs, to better enjoy the experience of undressing her assistant.
Now when she slipped lacy black La Perla off those long legs, they both exhaled slowly and Miranda could find no fault in the subtle whisper of the material as she dropped it to the floor. By that point, her nose and lips and tongue were busily heading north again, to sample what she'd uncovered.
Andrea was a spectacular canvas to undress, to touch and to bring to climax. The first time Miranda had tasted her, barely four days from the first time they'd ever touched, the fashion editor thought she might orgasm spontaneously. It was such a sweet nectar she found buried beneath a soft mound of neatly trimmed dark wet curls. Miranda had privately vowed to sample it again at every available opportunity.
But spending so much time with the girl who had begun to make her tremble just by slipping her fingers inside the waistband of her Bill Blass pants (The Paris Collection), did not mean they were friends. Heavens no. Fucking (no matter how fulfilling and frenzied and fabulous and orgasm inducing it was) did not equal friendship.
It's true that Andrea had begun stocking Miranda's favorite brand of coffee at her apartment in case she stopped by. It was also true the girl sometimes offered, instead of sex, a massage after a particularly exhausting day. Miranda could lie on Andrea's sheet tousled bed for hours as those deadly, talented fingers scribbled slick oiled patterns across her back as Miranda murmured incoherent nonsense about how acceptable it all was.
It was even true, if she was being perfectly honest, that she sometimes tolerated Andrea letting off steam on those rare nights a month when her assistant had gotten off the phone from her parents. Parents who, for reasons unfathomable to Miranda, had found their daughter's "loveless" life dedicated to Runway wanting and seemed to enjoy telling her so in minute, sarcastic detail.
So what was wrong with watching Andrea grumble and rant about her family while Miranda stroked her hair or back and held her and said nothing. She was merely ensuring her most satisfying bed partner to date stayed loyal, compliant and available.
And when that ridiculous fry cook tried to start something up again and then became a pest when Andrea's firm no was perceived as a "maybe", Miranda sneered at all the appropriate junctures in her assistant's outraged monologues and allowed her to raid her emergency double chocolate ice cream in the back of her freezer.
And if Miranda had subsequently made a few discreet calls to see that the annoying man-child never worked in any kitchens in New York ever again, it was hardly a friendly gesture. More like, protecting her interests. She hardly wanted her adorable bed-warmer getting ideas of moving on.
None of that meant anything. And it did not make them friends.
Miranda exhaled and found a hand venturing across her skin to cup her pale, naked breast. Fingers gave the nipple a playful tweak. She heard Andrea's sleep-heavy voice murmur into her side: "The girls asked me to go to their soccer game on Saturday. I'd love to – unless you have any objections? I think Caro's starting to be a pretty talented midfielder."
Miranda blinked. Well. Just because she and Andrea weren't friends didn't mean she should deny her daughters their most avid supporter. Andrea had taken to coaching them a little on weekends because it was a sport she'd loved in college.
"No objections," she said back with a satisfied hum.
The hand on her chest rubbed a little firmer, gauging her interest in another round. She smirked into the darkness. The woman really was insatiable. She felt her nipple harden and pucker, and an answering clench of interest between her legs.
"I know you have that meeting tomorrow with Irv. It's not too early, though," Andrea said hopefully, giving Miranda's nipple a suggestive flick.
"Not too early," Miranda agreed. "But I think I should get some sleep anyway." She glanced at the clock. It was late. Far too late.
It wasn't being friendly that made her offer quietly: "Stay if you like. It's too late for the subway."
Andrea hadn't even stopped to think about her answer. Miranda wondered what that meant.
The hand gently cupped Miranda's breast and faintly twitched. Miranda sighed in contentment. "Donatella asked if I wished to bring someone to her benefit tomorrow night," the older woman said before she'd engaged her censor button.
The hand stopped moving instantly and the fashion editor frowned. She cycled back through the conversation and realised what she had just proposed.
"You want me to be your date?" Andrea squeaked – for there was no other name for such an unholy sound. Miranda almost shuddered at the absurd word.
"I said no such thing," she growled. "My 'plus one'," she suggested in a strangled voice. Which probably sounded just as bad.
The hand playfully slapped her stomach which meant Andrea clearly agreed there was little difference.
Miranda cleared her throat and tried again. "I just felt it would be easier to attend the dinner because we could pick up the girls from their father's place nearby afterwards, and you could stay over and then go directly to soccer on Saturday. It was a logistics issue, nothing more. But if you wish to layer it with other ridiculous connotations..."
Miranda's lips pursed together and she strongly regretted ever making the offer. She held her breath and wondered how to fix this, this silly misunderstanding. She could probably retract the invitation right now…
"Andrea ..." she started in a low tone.
"No, no, that's good, it's fine. Very practical," Andrea muttered. "Um... What should I wear?"
"The sky blue from Dior would be acceptable," Miranda said immediately, not willing to concede she'd given this far more thought than she'd care to admit.
"The one with the deep vee bustline? And the intricate embroidered scroll on the hip?"
"The one that kind of matches the de La Renta dress you picked out last week to wear?"
"Well not matches," Andrea corrected hurriedly. "Um, complements it?"
The fashion editor glared into the darkness unable to believe she hadn't noticed that the two dresses she had in mind did actually seem to go with each other. As though she'd purposefully planned it that way. Which she hadn't.
She absolutely hadn't.
"I suppose," she admitted reluctantly.
"Um, Miranda, what ... ?"
Miranda's nostrils flared. She tensed. She should have realised Andrea would make some ridiculous leap like this. Ruin it all with some romantic notions or something appalling that absolutely could not stand. If she finished that sentence, that would be it.
"Um…" Andrea continued and then petered out. "Never mind."
Smart girl. Miranda smiled pleasantly at her ceiling and exhaled silently in relief. She knew she kept her around for a reason. A variety of them to be honest.
And it was certainly not because they were friends. No, no. Not that.
Chapter 3: NOT DATING
If anyone was wondering why this just vanished from fanfiction.net, they pulled it for "Rating: explicit content or adult content above current rating". Which is odd because it's tame compared to some stuff I write. It shall continue being posted here.
OK, so they were friends. If she was pushed, Miranda Priestly would reluctantly agree it was so, had anyone dared to ask. Which they hadn't. But that absolutely did not mean she was dating Andrea Sachs, thank you very much.
She wasn't sure where that silly rumor got started in the first place, however Monday morning saw her art director Nigel Kipling in her office airily espousing this view as though it were peer reviewed, iron-clad fact. The man clearly needed his head read. And a new hobby.
"So, matching dresses, huh?" he began as he slid into the chair opposite with a squeak of his grey Armani suit. "Something you want to tell me, Miranda?"
He bent one leg over his knee and twiddled with the laces on his sleek black Salvatore Ferragamo shoes as he waited.
She sniffed at him. "A coincidence, I can assure you." She ignored his probing eyes and smug smirk and continued jotting notes down for the Acessories Department. Finally she muttered: "As if I'd co-ordinate outfits with my assistant."
"That's not what Donatella thought," Nigel said and dropped his foot back to the floor with a plop. He leaned forward and added conspiratorially, "In fact, dear Donna said it was 'divine' you used her event to make a 'bold public statement' about your new relationship. She declared it 'che figata' to anyone within earshot. Or so my well-placed sources tell me. And, from my rusty Italian, I believe that means she thinks it's verrrry cool."
He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"I know what che figata means," Miranda hissed and sent him a warning glare before scribbling more notes on her page. "And I am not dating my assistant. I do not date assistants, period. Nor women. Especially not women 20 years my junior who are my assistants! Honestly Nigel!"
Nigel lifted his hands in surrender. "OK, OK, so you're saying you're absolutely not laying one little pinkie on our adorable Six?"
Miranda paused and her cheeks reddened slightly. "I didn't say that," she admitted hoarsely and licked her lips anxiously.
Nigel peered at her in confusion. "Uh…" he said helplessly, before looking lost. "Um... So this is, what, friends with benefits then?"
Miranda finally looked him in the eye and dropped her pen to her desk. "I suppose you could call it that. We are friendly. Well, friends. Of sorts. And there are," she cleared her throat in faint embarrassment, "certainly benefits. But nothing more. How utterly ridiculous the idea! At my age, a twice divorced mother of two dating the twenty-something office junior?! I'm fairly certain I have not taken leave of my senses. Now make yourself useful, Nigel, and ensure that information worms its way into Donatella's addled brain, too. Her imagination does run riot."
"Mmm," Nigel said thoughtfully and suddenly perked up. "So that other story about you going toe-to-Prada heel with some beefy action star you saw chatting up Six at the benefit was all just Donatella's wild imagination, too?"
She rolled her eyes to disguise her wince at the unappealing flashback of that neckless brute with enormous pecs drooling over Andrea's spectacular cleavage. He was nine parts sinew, one part fake tan.
It did not bear thinking about.
Fortunately she'd witnessed the slimey lothario make his move. He'd been all perfect white-toothy smiles and oozing charm and - Miranda scowled darkly - touchy feely, so she'd been there instantly to step in, slide a reassuring arm around Andrea's waist and shoot the irritating A-lister one of her most lethal death stares. By rights he should have immolated on the spot.
But really what was she supposed to do? She glared at Nigel.
"I suppose you thought it was acceptable a hulking stranger ogled and pawed her in some crude seduction attempt?" she whispered coldly.
"Noooo," Nigel said his eyes wide at the sharpness of her voice. He shrunk back a little. "But telling him he'd only be fit to work as a Peewee League mascot if he continued 'plaguing Andrea with sweaty unwanted attentions' was a noteworthy step. The watching crowd certainly seemed to think so."
"Hardly noteworthy," she sniffed, but she was perplexed. So what if she'd threatened that odious walking steroids advertisement with a little career-ending hellfire? That was neither here nor there. If he'd kept his eyeballs from Andrea's delectable cleavage and his meaty mitts in his pockets then none of this would be an issue. Honestly, she frowned. What was wrong with people that she couldn't rescue her guileless assistant from a famous, handsome millionaire who kept wilfully flirting with her?
"If we're done here?" she told her art director, without looking up. "Some of us have work to do."
"No, uh… actually..." He shuffled some papers.
"Good," she told him. "Send Emily in on your way out."
She tsked under her breath as he left eyeing her uncertainly.
That evening was equally mystifying when her two daughters demanded to know over dinner why she was "hiding" her relationship with Andrea.
"We like her, Mom," Cassidy said, reassuringly. "Don't worry. You don't have to pretend. We think she's awesome."
"We really do," Caroline added, "And she's great with soccer training. My footwork has improved so much. Even the coach thinks so. He wants Andrea to help a few of the other girls on the team. Can you ask her?"
Miranda paused. "Where in heaven's name are you two getting the idea from that I am dating my assistant?"
"Um hellooo," Cassidy said with a spectacular eye roll. "Matching outfits? You were wearing them when you picked us up from Dad's on Friday. Even he noticed and he's like totally fashion blind."
"That was just a coincidence, darlings," Miranda said. "Two designers can both make sky blue outfits with a diamante embellished waist. Honestly, everyone has the wrong idea. It's ludicrous."
"Everyone?" asked Caroline curiously. "Who else thinks you're dating?"
"Oh, I can't keep up," Miranda sighed and waved her hand in exasperation. "Just Donatella, Nigel and a few other… oh … dozen or so people who sent me these odd congratulatory emails today."
"Whoa," Cassidy said. "So you're famous now for dating Andy!"
"No don't be silly – it's only close associates who think this is happening. Associates who should know better. Because Bobbsey, as I've been saying, we're not dating. We're just friends who stay over at each other's places any time we need some special company. We're certainly not a couple."
"Uh huh," Caroline said pleasantly. She nudged her sister and they looked at each other intently.
"Um, sure but ..." Cassidy began, then at Miranda's sharp glance, she faded out with a helpless shrug. "OK Mom."
Cara, the housekeeper, knocked gently on the door frame and poked her head in. "Oh Miss Miranda, you're home. Miss Andy stopped in earlier and wanted to let you know she put some of her home-made lasagne in the fridge in case you get home hungry tomorrow after the late Stella showing. She said to remind you that you mustn't skip meals because it makes you "cranky". I apologize for saying that but she made me agree to say her message exactly. Also, she said don't forget the music revue at Dalton is on Wednesday, and she says she'll meet you all at seven. Pizza beforehand at Lucio's. Her treat. Good evening. Good night, girls."
Cara nodded and left the twins eyeballing each other, elbows nudging ribs, but saying nothing out loud.
"Seven, pizza," Miranda repeated distractedly and made a mental note. "I do like Andrea's lasagne," she added fondly. "Even if she uses far too much cheese. And three kinds! That is not even remotely healthy."
"We know," Caroline said. "You always say that."
"Although I do not get cranky. Such a thought. I mean really." Her lips pressed together in dissatisfaction.
Both twins giggled as they rose to leave the table. Miranda fondly watched her darlings head upstairs and their earlier conversation came back to her.
Dating her assistant?! No, no, definitely not. Honestly. How DID these rumors get started?
Chapter 4: NOT OUTED
SPOTTED: Which fashion mag icon was seen swanning around Donatella’s soiree in a dress matching her sexy, much younger, assistant’s? And it was no accident, cherubs, for she brought her as her date. Could it mean a Sapphic sensation is about to unfold? The entranced room watching the drama certainly thought so. Will there be a Hers and Hers bridal registry in the future? We’d love to suggest more but the Devil’s got our tongue.
Miranda slapped Page Six down on her desk so hard her glass of Pellegrino rattled. She glared. She had NOT just been outed by tawdry members of the fourth estate. For starters, there was nothing to out. If she and Andrea had … reached a certain understanding … that hardly meant they were in one of those ridiculous lesbian relationships involving U-Hauls and underarm hair and trucker caps.
And bridal registries?! Good grief. She scowled.
“Andrea,” she hissed through the office glass. “Get my lawyers on the phone.”
There was a pause as Miranda glared ferociously at the page again. “The Devil’s got our tongue?” She’d take more than their tongues.
“Miranda, I have Lewis.”
“Lewis, darling, it’s been too long,” Miranda purred into the phone and leaned over her desk with a predatory gleam. “Now then, how do you feel about earning your retainer? You’ve seen Page Six today? Yes, yes, total nonsense, of course. What? No, well, I suppose some could argue we did appear in similar gowns, but it’s purely coincidental.
“No, don’t be ridiculous, she was NOT my date. Where do they get these idiotic notions? Was their journalism degree acquired from the back of a cereal box? What? Oh, well, she was there as my plus-one. YES, there is a difference! What is wrong with everyone today?”
She rubbed her forehead.
“No! How could I know what she was wearing just because she was my date? I mean my plus-one? Must I vet every outfit my staff appears in? Am I to somehow psychically divine what the woman I escorted to the event was wearing?”
Her eyes narrowed.
“What do you mean, ‘Don’t you have eyes?’ Of all the … Lewis Baratz, you might have parted my last two ex-husbands from everything they hold dear, but you are on thin ice. I suggest you consider your next sentence very carefully.”
She waited with thin lips and listened, then frowned. And then frowned some more.
“I find your level of incompetence truly frightening,” she whispered. “Doing 'nothing' is not an option. Hoping it will 'blow over' is not an option. 'Chalking it up to free speech' is not an answer. Can’t you, oh I don’t know, challenge the Constitution or something? No, no, just the First Amendment. Now come on Lewis, really, you think so small!
“Well? Fine then, pay attention - I want it known that Miranda Priestly is not to be outed. I absolutely won’t have it. Do your job, Lewis, I mean it. That’s all.” She slammed down the phone.
The fashion editor looked up into the concerned brown eyes of her shapely assistant and her lips curved. “Hmm?” she said, taking in the perfectly clingy Jayson Brundson dress and delightful 5in Jimmy Choo heels.
“Um, what are you telling people about …” she waved her hands between them. “Because I’ve had my friends, Lily and Doug, on the phone asking if it’s true and I don’t know what to say.”
Miranda peered at her over her glasses. “Say? What on earth is there to say?”
“Well,” Andrea said and reddened. “Um… that Page Six story seemed to imply…”
“Andrea,” Miranda huffed, “Page Six is soon to be a bloodied red smear of roadkill on the newsprint highway. They shall not dictate anything to do with our lives.”
“Yes, Miranda, but, ah, see I’ve been fielding questions all day from media outlets asking me to comment. I can only pretend to be Emily and say ‘bollocks’ over and over for so long. Sooner or later someone’s going to ask me what a crumpet is and I won’t know!” Her voice rose in panic. “And my parents left me, like, six messages, and I’ve been too scared to check them because they sound really mad and…”
“Andrea,” Miranda sighed heartily. “If anyone can remove that absurdly open slather Free Speech amendment from the Constitution, it’s Lewis. Have a little faith. Did he not get me Stephen’s collectible LBJ golf clubs in the divorce settlement?”
“Faith,” Andrea repeated dumbly. “Constitution? Huh? Wait, what? You play golf?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. What a ghastly sport. Fat men squeezed into plaid. Now whose bright idea was that?"
Andrea blinked stupidly at her.
“Try not to worry, Andrea. We have not been outed. We shall not be outed. That’s all.”
Miranda said it more forcefully than she’d intended and watched as her skittish assistant suddenly appeared to be mimicking a guppy. Well, that would not do. She softened her voice and her eyes flicked to the empty outer office.
She whispered: “Come here."
She enfolded her in her arms and whispered soft, sweet kisses down her assistant’s creamy neck. “ Andrea, there is nothing to out,” she said gently against that perfectly soft skin and then gave a small groan against it. "Nothing at all.”
Chapter 5: Not Fighting
Andrea was giving her that look again. The one, Miranda noted glumly, that generally preceded lots of clipped words and pointed glares and no sex, and frankly it was all vastly perplexing. Because they were absolutely not fighting – for reasons she had already carefully and most reasonably explained to her assistant. Not that that had done much good.
They were sitting, fully clothed, on the edge of Miranda's bed, doing nothing whatsoever about the fact the fashion editor would rather they were doing a lot more than glaring, while wearing a lot less. Especially since Andrea was resplendent in those thigh-high Chanel boots that had made her fevered brain mutter "Mercy" the first time she'd clapped eyes on her assistant strutting about in them and nothing else.
And all she wanted to do was get back to their important, not-glaring, business at hand. And they were wasting a perfectly good bed, thank you very much.
"We're not fighting," Miranda stated in exasperation. Andrea's head snapped up.
"We're not figh…," Andrea repeated dully before fading out. "Ri-ight. Because you, Miranda Priestly, have ordained it so."
Miranda frowned. Well, this discussion was already going rapidly off script. She side-eyed her assistant, wondering whether professional pride would work where all her other perfectly logical arguments had failed. Clearly women were the most annoyingly illogical dating partners to have, she humphed to herself. If they were dating, which – they still weren't. She folded her arms in irritation.
However Andrea had been defying all her perfectly good logic for about half an hour so far.
"Miranda," she'd said, when their not-fight had begun. "I know you're not seeing it, but we have been in a relationship for, like, two months. Everyone from Irv to the cleaners have been making comments about it. My parents are threatening to bring in cult-busting experts for my apparently desperately needed reprogramming. Doug thinks I'm in his Friends of Dorothy club, whatever the hell that means, and he tried to give me a toaster oven. I already have one! I have no clue what that's about. And one of the security guards told me, and I quote: 'Don't sell yourself short, Andy. Isn't it about time she put a ring on it?'."
"That's just their misinformed opinions, Andrea, it doesn't make it so," Miranda had begun in her most reasonable tone, even as she wondered how to track down that deluded meddler in Security for a little chat about workplace propriety.
"Miranda," Andrea huffed, "Don't you get it? This ... relationship, our dating ... is not a secret to anyone but you!" She then looked at her with wide pleading eyes. "I spend my weekends and three nights a week here. I go to soccer games with the girls, who by the way, I adore. I cook for you. I make love to you. I don't do any of this because I'm your assistant, because, Sweetie, if that was in the job description, I'd have the job a billion girls would kill for."
Miranda had gaped at her in confusion. How did her girls and soccer and cooking get into this conversation about their sexual plans for the evening? And when did they get to the point of calling each other inane nicknames?
"You will not call me 'sweetie'," she warned and removed the soft hand from hers. "It's infantalizing nonsense. I told my husbands the same thing."
"THAT'S what you took from my last sentence? THAT?"
"Andrea - maybe I have been confusing you. You are not required to cook for me or drive the girls to soccer. Or even train them. I have employees who can do these tasks. I don't expect you to do this. If it's all too much..."
"Missing the point much? God, you're impossible. I think your brain's GPS co-ordinates are fixed in the middle of a river in Egypt."
Miranda's lips had snapped instantly into pursed mode. And that's when the glaring match had begun.
It had been half an hour, and Miranda really didn't want to waste the bed or the girls being away at their father's. This had gone on long enough.
"I said we're not fighting because of the fact you are an exceptional assistant," Miranda declared winningly. Yes, professional pride was the route to Andrea's heart, she just knew it. She gave her most charming smile as she continued. "It's not possible for us to be fighting – because that would make you an insubordinate assistant, which, as we have already established, you are clearly not."
"Insub… you … we… assistant?!" Andrea sputtered at her. Miranda lifted her eyebrows.
Really, she failed to see what the problem was here. And, truly, Andrea was the best assistant she'd ever had. A little flattery never went astray, either. Problem surely solved, she smiled widely.
"Now that's settled," Miranda purred, "How about we kiss it all better?"
Andrea leaped to her feet and strode over to the small chest of drawers beside Miranda's bed. The editor watched in alarm as items began to rain out and land all over the floor.
"What on earth are you doing?" she demanded. A limited-edition Agent Provocateur negligee (champagne, Spring/Summer 11) landed on her head. She snatched it off and growled. "Andrea, what…?"
"Ah," the younger woman said as her arm stilled and retracted from the drawer. She waved a rather embarrassing piece of phallic-shaped silicon at Miranda. "I figured as much. You were between husbands for a fair while, after all. And, let's be honest, it's where every single girl keeps her stash."
Miranda turned scarlet and her lips crushed into the thinnest of lines. "How DARE you!"
"How dare I?" Andrea enquired coldly and cocked her head. "You told me one second ago that I was just your exceptionally good assistant. So I am now assisting you with your pressing problem to the best of my professional, assistantly abilities – and no more. Now here." She tossed the dildo at Miranda, who reflexively caught it, and the brunette stalked towards the door. "If you ever decide to stop using me as a blow-up doll, give me a call. Until then, you can give yourself your own happy ending. Oh, and for the record, Sweetie?"
Miranda's eyes were wide, and she was dimly aware she was clutching the ridiculous purple dildo in a white-knuckled grip.
"We are definitely fighting."
Chapter 6: Not Needing
Since I got my medical degree from the back of a cereal box, just forgive me in advance for whatever laughable inaccuracies you are about to read. I also think I'm going to dedicate this chapter to Curvypragmatist whose fab story Matters of the Heart on LJ got me in the right frame of mind.
Miranda Priestly was a very self-sufficient person. While she was certain her overly dramatic underlings would laugh at that, she could survive with very little. Her darling daughters, her coffee, her magazine. These were her holy trinity for existence. All other things were merely optional extras that simply made life more comfortable.
So if one Andrea Sachs thought she was in any way vital to Miranda's existence, she was mistaken.
Miranda gritted her teeth as she shuffled through her paperwork and tried to focus on work, annoyed that her thoughts had shifted back to the slip of a girl who had spoken to her in a way no one else had ever dared. In a way that Miranda had allowed no one else to.
An uneasy truce had been in effect since the day the girl had had the temerity to stomp out of Miranda's bedroom in a humiliating explosion of lingerie, indignation and purple silicone.
Miranda's cheeks still flamed at the memory of what Andrea had found. Honestly it's not like she ever found time to use the damn toy. She couldn't even remember buying it.
And if she did buy it, it was absolutely not because she'd been woefully indisposed after a night-long drinking session when she'd discovered her philandering first husband in their marital bed with his secretary.
Her lips pursed. So what if she'd woken up the next day in bed with a throbbing hangover and an exotic variety of erotic products strewn across her 1000-count Egyptian cotton? Pfft. Who hadn't?
She had yet to find a use for the fluffy pink handcuffs, though, and was greatly relieved Andrea hadn't dug further back in the drawer and unearthed those.
Honestly, that maddening creature. For the sixth time that hour her mind was drawn back to the girl. And it was hard not drift there, for many highly impertinent reasons.
Oh she was a wily one, Andrea Sachs. She was always managing to have one extra button undone, or to bend over just so when she (regularly) dropped something. Miranda noted the girl hadn't been this clumsy in the entire preceding eleven months put together.
So Miranda had been subjected to an enticing display that she could look at but not touch, even as her mind helpfully replayed vivid memories of all the many beautiful ways she had touched her before.
Her eyes would narrow and meet faux innocent, dancing brown eyes that dared Miranda to ask.
To ask for more.
To hell she would. She did not need Andrea Sachs. And that was a fact. Miranda knew she could outlast Andrea indefinitely in this little game.
And if at night she sometimes felt her absence around the townhouse, the ready laughter – not only from her assistant but her daughters interacting with her - then that was just an old woman getting sentimental.
She sighed as she thought of her daughters. She might not need Andrea, but they appeared to. It had taken barely three days before Cassidy had cornered her and demanded to know where their amusing friend had gone.
Miranda had mumbled something vague about "sometimes friendships don't last".
"Oh my God!" Cassidy had virtually shrieked at her, and stomped her foot. "What did you do?!"
"CASSIDY!" she had snapped. "You will not speak to me like this!"
"You're lucky I'm even talking - Caro won't be speaking to you at ALL after this. Now, Mom, please! Go and get Andy back before it's too late! Oh my God what if she meets someone else and forgets all about you? And us!"
Meets someone else? Miranda frowned. What a notion. Her stomach lurched strangely and she wondered whether Antonio's lunch platter was to blame. He did insist on adding carbs to everything.
And why did even her girls think she and Andrea were a couple? The silly ideas children have ... Although adults were proving equally hard to shift on the topic. Which reminded her - how did the gushing Editor of The Advocate get Miranda's private email address anyway? And to hell she'd agree to participate in some interview about closeted executives navigating the modern business landscape. She didn't even know any closeted executives.
She paused and tapped her lip idly, wondering if Nigel counted.
Her mind suddenly processed the rest of Cassidy's sentence and she peered at her daughter in annoyance. "Why are you so certain I am to blame?"
"Mommm, come on! You're always to blame! Andy's so nice. Of course it was you."
Miranda had glared at her. "It's delightful to know what my daughters really think of their own mother. Now: Andrea is not visiting again and that's final."
"You are such an idiot," Cassidy muttered under her breath as she turned away. At Miranda's sharp, pointed glare, her daughter looked down and added ruefully: "Yeah, yeah, I know I just lost TV privileges tonight."
"I'm glad we understand each other."
"Speak for yourself." Cassidy had flounced off, her eyes flashing, and Miranda watched her go with a dark expression.
That had gone well.
True to Cassidy's prediction, Caroline had begun some huffy not-speaking campaign until Andrea returned.
She would have a long wait.
A shadow fell across her desk and Miranda looked up to see the very girl who was becoming the bane of her existence. She was about to make some smart comment when the look on her face stilled her tongue.
"Miranda," Andrea whispered quietly and heaved out a sigh. "You win. OK? Point made. You don't need me. I might need you, and feel more, but I get that it's one-sided. Message received.
"I thought maybe you were in denial at first but it's been weeks and weeks now," the brunette sighed and stared at her in disbelief, then combed a jerky hand through her hair. "So you're either really, really stubborn or you just can't see that ... Yeah. Well, either way I can see my future and it's pretty sad. I refuse to be that pathetic girl, chasing after someone who doesn't want her back. If you want to treat me as just your office fling, your former office fling at that, then it's time for me to move on with what little dignity I have left. So, here…"
Miranda blinked in confusion and then glanced down to see a white business envelope, with "Miranda" written on it in a shaky hand. She heard a loud thundering and wondered what on earth it was. She could barely hear the next words from Andrea.
"My resignation. I don't expect a reference. We both know it'd be worthless anyway since all of New York seems to think we're on together. But I'm going to ask Nigel for one. I hope you won't stand in my way, that you won't blacklist me."
Miranda's mouth dropped open as she tried to work out what to say. A thousand emotions and thoughts flew and jumbled across her mind and not one of them was pleasant. Her stomach lurched again. The thundering noise got louder.
She would not be seeing the brunette every day. Or at all. She felt a piercing in her chest. Like the vicious stab of a thousand needles. She tried to block it out as her mind flitted to the days, weeks ahead. No smiles, with those enormous soft red lips parting into perfect toothy grins. No unbuttoned blouses teasing with a hint of peeking La Perla lace. No swish of shapely hips the moment Miranda had husked an appreciative "That's all."
"Miranda?" Andrea spoke when she had failed to say anything. "This is what you want, right?"
Miranda merely nodded once and turned away to face the window, wondering why she felt so nauseated. It was probably reflux. Antonio's pasta salad always sat heavily on her stomach. She should probably blacklist him.
Andrea was right. It was better this way. She turned back but the girl had gone. From beside her desk, and from the outer office.
The weird clenching in her chest returned and it came with a strange light-headedness. Oh God, her heart was pounding. Her eyes widened. This wasn't good. Miranda Priestly does not drop dead of heart attacks in her office. She could just imagine the headlines.
She wondered idly, as her thoughts jumbled around chaotically, whether Andrea would speak at her funeral. Would she tell everyone what they'd done together? She licked her lips and realised they were cold and how shallow her breathing was.
She felt weak now.
Oh her girls... Her girls.
"Emily," she whispered hoarsely. "Make an appointment with my doctor immediately. Tell no one. That's all."
"The good news is that it's not a heart attack," Dr Ellen Michaels said peering at her irritated patient sitting on the padded bed in her office. Miranda twitched under the coldness of the stethoscope burrowed down her blouse and glared.
"Well of course it wasn't," she rolled her eyes. "My heart wouldn't dare. But what was it?"
"Hmm," the doctor said. And scribbled some notes.
"Hmm isn't a diagnosis," Miranda snapped.
"Well based on all the tests we've done, including the EKG, I'd have to say …. Miranda - have you had any recent sudden stress? A new deadline or project perhaps?"
"No extra work? Responsibilities?"
"No more than usual."
"How about in your personal life? Any sudden emotional upheaval?"
"Don't be absurd."
"Why is that absurd?"
"I don't 'do' emotional upheaval," Miranda stated. "I don't have time for it. I have the world's premier fashion magazine to put out. What else?"
Miranda glared. The clock ticked loudly. More scribbling. Finally her doctor spoke again.
"By the way, where's that lovely assistant of yours, the one who usually accompanies you to your appointments? She's always so friendly but I didn't see her in the waiting room today. Andy isn't it? Is she sick?"
"I don't pay you top dollar to while away my valuable time discussing my fleeing assistants. Now what is my medical issue?" Her words came out so frosty Miranda was surprised she couldn't see the icicles on her breath.
"She quit," Miranda said, biting off the T on the word viciously. "That's all there is to it."
"When did this happen? She seemed so dedicated to you."
"How is that relevant?"
"About two hours ago."
Dr Michaels exhaled sharply.
"Two hours ago the delightful girl who I have observed always looked at you like double chocolate ice cream walked away from you?"
"Yes," Miranda said in a clipped tone wondering why she was being forced to repeat herself.
"The same assistant who used to ring me every few months to check you were having regular physicals and to make me aware when you were not getting appropriate diet and exercise or needed more vitamins."
Miranda squinted at her doctor. So that's how Ellen always seemed to know. "Yesss," she hissed. "Is there a point?"
Dr Michaels seemed about to roll her eyes. "So this doting paragon of an adoring assistant left you and you immediately had an array of symptoms that on paper looks to me exactly like a panic attack."
Miranda eyed her oldest friend impatiently. "I do hope there's a point to this sometime this century," she drawled.
"You really can't see it?"
"I can see that you seem to think I'm capable of succumbing to something as plebian as a panic attack. Which I assure you is both inane and highly unlikely, not to mention there was no trigger. Are you absolutely sure I shouldn't be blacklisting Antonio's? My stomach did recoil as if I was about to vomit. And I had just eaten."
Dr Michaels stared at her and gasped. "Good God, you're serious."
"Pasta and I have never fully agreed with each other. This is hardly gasp worthy."
"Miranda I'm going to put the dots real close together for you to join. Are you listening?"
"No need to be insulting," Miranda sniffed in annoyance.
"Miranda you had a panic attack when Andy left you. BECAUSE she left you. This, all of this, is about your assistant. Your assistant Andy. Leaving you. OK?"
The clock seemed to slow down and tick loudly as Miranda stared at her doctor. Finally she straightened. "I will blacklist Antonio's. Clearly you have no idea if these wild ideas are the best you can offer."
The doctor's hand latched onto her wrist and she said gently, "Miranda, look, you know I don't like to pry but everyone is talking about that story on Page Six." At Miranda's outraged expression she hurried to continue, "But long before that, I'd see you two together and I observed that she wasn't the only one looking ... interested …"
"Don't be ridiculous," Miranda interrupted sharply. "That story was ludicrous. And Stephen cured me perfectly well of my desire for romantic entanglements. All I need in my life now is my girls."
"It's not ridiculous to need someone," Dr Michaels said softly. "And I think maybe your heart agrees with me given the timing of your incident."
"A coincidence." Miranda said dismissively and eyed her doctor like she was a foolish child.
"Like your matching dresses were just a coincidence?" Dr Michaels smiled, apparently unbothered by the dagger glares she was receiving. "Oh yes, I saw the gala pictures. You both looked so stunning. Quite the pair. Belles of the ball."
"I had no idea how given to flights of fancy you were, Ellen," Miranda sniffed. "I shall see myself out. That's all."
She rose, barely able to keep the scorn from her voice, enraged that even her doctor had decided some illogical emotional attachment had to be taking place. Was everyone mad?
"It's not all, Miranda. Affection, emotion, needs, balance – they're all connected. When you dismiss or bury these things emotionally, they sometimes have a way of manifesting themselves physically. And quite painfully or terrifyingly as you have found."
Miranda swiftly buttoned up her shirt, fingers shaking with irritation. "This is completely nonsensical now. I do not feel anything deeper for my assistant beyond irritation at her for forcing me to replace her on short notice. And if you tell anyone you believe otherwise I shall sue you so hard you'll barely be able to afford to live in your Mercedes."
"Miranda," Dr Michaels sighed, "You've been threatening to make me sleep in my car since I drove a rusted-out Ford. And I never said a word about feelings. You did."
Miranda froze. And just then her heart clenched again and she cried out in pain. "Make it stop," she moaned between gasps, clapping a hand across her pounding heart. "Ellen!"
"OK, OK, just relax. Deep breaths. Deeper. And again. Look at me, Miranda. Focus. OK, your heart is racing very fast because it's having a fight or flight response. But there's nothing to fear. You're safe. You are safe. Relax now. OK Miranda, yes that's it. Better? Good. Let me write you out a prescription. In the meantime, I'm curious about something - what is it about Andy that makes you like her?"
"Nothing," Miranda sniffed, and let her hand drop from her chest where she'd been clutching at it. "She is utterly maddening. The way she and the girls gang up on me and demand to make it a Wii night and I'm forced to abandon the Book to referee their outlandish antics. Or the way she insists if I don't eat her meals I'll get cranky. Me? Cranky?" Miranda sighed dramatically. "Well."
She glanced at the doctor who had stopped writing.
"My prescription?" Miranda held out her hand.
"Why? Are you experiencing pain?" Dr Michaels said with a knowing look. "Or is it gone?"
"I…" Miranda blinked in surprise. "How?"
"Just confirming a hunch. Look, I understand that you don't want people knowing you have a soft spot for your assistant…"
At Miranda's thin-lipped glare and mouth opening, she lifted her hand to stop the protests. "But, Miranda dear, I've known you for too long, through both your husbands, and before, to when you could barely afford an apartment in the worst part of Manhattan. And I know the fond way you look at Andy isn't the way you look at that other assistant. What's her name? The English one with red hair who likes to discuss oxen?"
"Oxen? What on earth?"
"She's always commenting on the bullocks."
Miranda rolled her eyes. "Your attempts at humor are wasted on me."
"More's the pity. Humor is also a great way to relieve tension. Well – perhaps you might want to consider admitting that Andy means slightly more to you than you let on. Because, unless I'm mistaken, every time you think or talk about her being gone, you feel pain, stress, anxiety, and a racing heart. You start to panic. That's your body's way of trying to get your attention and force you to face what you're not dealing with."
Miranda gaped at her clearly deranged doctor and shook her head curtly.
"And if you think I'm mad, and I know you do, when you talk about being around her, what you like about her, the pain goes away. As I demonstrated not two minutes ago. So my diagnosis is that these episodes are being triggered by your own subconscious panic and concern at losing her."
Miranda's white, shocked face stared at her doctor, robbed speechless.
"But what do I know? I'm just a medical practitioner with 35 years experience who has been published in over two dozen medical journals around the world."
Miranda gave her her best evil eye.
"And I'd cut that out too if you don't want me to list all my awards."
Miranda let her expression drop to neutral and she sniffed, looking away, unwilling to be inspected so thoroughly by her old, old friend. Her heart was still pounding, but less painfully fast now. Although naming her terror didn't make it less ridiculous.
"If you really want the drugs, I can give them to you," Dr Michaels said. "They'll only treat the symptoms. It'd be far cheaper and efficient to just tell the girl you need her." She gave a cheeky grin.
Oh the impudent woman. Miranda was starting to reevaluate their friendship.
"Don't be absurd," Miranda said, rising. "As I have explained: I don't need anyone but my Bobbseys." She tucked the prescription in her handbag and glared at her. "If you tell anyone," she hissed… "I mean it's so foolish - a woman of my age, with two girls affected by… by…" Miranda licked her lips. What? Hormones? A mid-life crisis?
Oh god, there really was no good way to say it.
"By being human?" Dr Michaels suggested helpfully.
That was even worse. Miranda narrowed her eyes. "You're not helping."
Dr Michaels laughed heartily. "Ah, Miranda, you say that now. But later? Well, just invite me to the wedding."
Miranda's mouth clanged shut and she stalked out of the examination room in fury, the laughter ringing in her ears.
Oh no, she most definitely did NOT need her assistant.
Chapter 7: Not Grovelling
At 2.07am on Saturday the 21st, Miranda Priestly realised she needed Andrea Sachs.
Oh, she'd suspected the awful truth. And there was nothing like her doctor waving it in front of her face in gruesome, close-up detail. But that didn't mean she couldn't pretend for just a little while longer.
The problem was she hadn't been lying when she'd told Ellen Michaels that her ex-husband had ruined her for romantic entanglements for life. It was probably a little cruel to have pointed this out to her, since the good doctor had been the one to introduce them in the first place.
With Stephen she had tried. Really tried. More than she had with the girls' father who had taken a back seat while she built her burgeoning career.
Stephen she had determined was pretty much perfect for her – good genes, even temperament, independently wealthy, acceptable in bed even if he didn't exactly set the room on fire, and excellent parental material. And on that last point she had been most excited by the match. So she had set about stalking him like a lion on the savannah - and her clueless, prized zebra had not stood a chance.
So when it had all fallen apart, when everyone, especially her husband, had just assumed she hadn't been putting in any effort at all, something inside her broke. And the night it happened – ironically the very night Andrea had witnessed the awful fight that broke her – she knew she would never need anyone else, because, damn it, she was Miranda Priestly. And Miranda Priestly made the rules.
And so it came as both a shock and a vast irritation at 1.55am on Saturday the 21st to discover she did not rule any damn thing, as she gasped for breath, the panic clawing at her chest, ripping away at her stability and equilibrium.
By 2am she'd taken Valium. By 2.02am she was starting to pray to whatever gods she'd been raised with and a few more that she hadn't been. By 2.05am she couldn't stop the tears leaking out at her terror.
And, in desperation, at 2.07am she followed her doctor's advice. And, then, magically, at 2.07am and 32 seconds, she felt the fist that had been clutching her heart release as she imagined calling Andrea again. Touching her. Holding her.
Asking for more.
And as she felt the tension, fear and panic seep out of her, that became her new plan. It seemed pretty simple in the end. She wondered why she hadn't thought of it sooner. Another pretty zebra to chase. And this one she definitely wanted to keep.
At 2.09am she was fast asleep - her first restful repose in the four weeks since Andrea had left her – a smile twitching around her relaxed lips.
She informed the girls at breakfast of her plan to get Andrea back - somewhere between asking them to pass the toast and to not leave their things on the floor. It was a relief to hear Caroline talking again, if only to declare that she'd have to do a "lot of grovelling".
She'd cocked an eyebrow. "I do not grovel, Bobbsey. Now finish your milk."
"Well if you don't grovel, Mom, how are you going to win Andy back? I think you pretty much need, like, a truck full of flowers."
"Don't be absurd," Miranda replied, "I'll just explain things to Andrea. She's a reasonable young woman, she'll see it's for the best for both of us to be together again."
Caroline snorted. A word that suspiciously sounded like "clueless" was muttered under her breath and Miranda shot her a glare. And then her daughters exchanged some sort of wordless conversation with lots of intense looks.
Cassidy nodded and asked to be excused.
Miranda narrowed her eyes, not entirely sure what had just transpired and not sure she wanted to know.
"Now then," she asked Caroline as Cassidy scampered away to do goodness only knows what, "Do you think Andrea would prefer to eat at Le Caprice or Da Silvano?"
"Don't you know?"
"I … well…" Miranda's cheeks reddened. She had never actually taken Andrea anywhere beyond work functions. And she had no idea of her eating preferences beyond lasagne and ... the bedroom.
"God," Caroline humphed. "What does she see in you?"
Miranda pursed her lips. "You're excused too."
"Whatever." Caroline left the table.
But she did make a good, if slightly unpalatable, point.
Miranda called Nigel. "Tell me what Andrea likes to eat and where," she demanded without preamble.
"Hell, Miranda, it's not even seven yet!" she heard the sleep-fogged voice. She tapped her foot impatiently. Honestly if it was late enough for her girls to be awake, her art director should be planning the next issue and halfway into the office by now instead of lolling about in bed. "And why do you want to know anyway?"
"I am going to ask Andrea out on a date," Miranda said simply, seeing no reason to lie. He was one of her oldest friends after all. She even liked him. Well, enough to nominate him for The Advocate's closeted power executives issue. He'd thank her later. "As I wish it to go well, I need a place she will enjoy. So?"
"Miranda, you can't just call Six up and ask her out. You need to apologize first. You really hurt the kid. So I'm not going to help you until you grovel first. And do it well. Spectacularly even, OK?"
"You're as bad as the girls. And you should know by now, Miranda Priestly Does. Not. Grovel." She humphed.
Nigel laughed. "Yeah, well, then good luck with Miranda Priestly ever getting her roll buttered again then."
And then the phone went dead.
Nigel Kipling had just hung up on her. She stared at it in disbelief. Well.
She called Emily who had the good sense to sound more alert than her layabout art director. "I need Andrea's work number at the Mirror, and the name of her favorite restaurant."
There was a pause.
"Well by all means, move at a glacial pace."
"Emily? Have you died of malnutrition and neglected to inform me in advance?"
She peered at her phone and the screen was still lit.
"Oh bollocks, please don't fire me!"
"What?! What are you talking about?"
"I can't do it. I promised Andy when she left that I wouldn't get involved in anything between you. And I wouldn't help you try and make up, either."
"Emily, I'm only going to ask once more…"
"Miranda, if you want her back she wants to see you, YOU, be the one to try. Not your assistants or anyone else. She wants to know YOU care. And that's all I'm saying on the topic and I'll thank you not to involve me again or make me endure horrible mental pictures of whatever you two get up to when alone. Just make her know it's all you." There was a pained hiss as though Emily was awaiting the axe to fall but Miranda's mind had already shot forward.
Her eyebrows lifted. Ahh. A challenge then.
"That's all," she whispered and hung up.
She pulled out her personal stationery and penned an invitation to dinner at the townhouse. If nothing else, the girls would be an excellent lure for Andrea. And it wasn't entirely mercenary. The trio did all adore each other.
She dropped it in the Outgoing Mail slot for courier deliveries on her way into the office marked "ATTN ANDREA SACHS, Journalist, The Mirror" and then went about her business.
As the hours ticked on, she couldn't help but notice her phone, inbox, and in-tray were all empty of any correspondence from one Andrea Sachs, all day.
The reply, when it came, was scrawled in barely legible handwriting on the back of Mirror notepad stationery. "Unavailable to attend" was all it said.
Her heart clenched fearfully at the offhandedness of the note and what it might mean. Had she waited too long? She glanced at her watch and sighed. She decided to call it a day.
The next day was filled with meetings, not the least of which was Irv's budget catastrophe, so she was in no mood to romance anyone.
That night the girls grilled her about how her efforts were going to get Andrea back. She had told them simply that it was a work in progress. No need for them to know how awful she was at it - for now.
"Try chocolate," Caroline had suggested. "I mean look at her, she must LOVE the stuff."
"CAROLINE!" Miranda snapped. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with Andrea's body. It is the perfect shape for a young woman her age who is not a model. She is in fact quite beautiful."
She glared at her daughter, choosing to ignore the knowing smirks both her daughters were shooting her. "Eat your vegetables," she added in a surly whisper and stared moodily at her own plate.
The following day she'd decided a little wooing couldn't hurt proceedings. Because wooing was not grovelling, and Miranda most definitely did not grovel.
"Emily," she barked.
When the redhead stuck her head into her office, she whispered, "No, no, the other Emily. The Emily who wishes to be useful to me when I need her."
Emily rolled her eyes and stepped back. The blonde second assistant nervously appeared.
"You will send two dozen flowers to this person at this address."
She pushed Andrea's details across the desk.
"Yes Miranda. Um, what sort of flowers?"
"Must I be required to think of everything? Really." She waved a dismissive hand.
A derisive snort from the outer office made her pause and question her strategy. "Fine," she sighed with her most put-upon voice. "Roses. Roses that mean …" she lowered her voice out of her annoying first assistant's earshot, "sorry."
"S-sorry?" The girl squawked in a loud voice.
"Are you deaf? Don't colors have meanings or some such thing? Use your brain and send them to her. Flowers - roses - that say sorry. That's all."
Ten minutes passed and her hapless second Emily reappeared.
"Miranda, they didn't have roses that say sorry, apparently there's no such thing, so I thought, you know, to be safe I sent, um, yellow." She was trembling.
"Yellow," Miranda whispered. Her eyes widened as she recalled their meaning. "You sent Andrea friendship roses?"
"Um, yes?" the ridiculous creature squeaked.
This time the muffled snort of laughter from her first assistant was impossible to ignore.
She glared at blonde Emily - while planning some vile punishment on her first assistant involving a dozen coffees, scarves and dodging Manhattan traffic. "What is wrong with you?"
"Get out," Miranda scowled and turned to face the window, furious at her assistant, herself and life in general.
An hour later, on the same dreadful piece of Mirror letterhead, Miranda got her answer. "Is this some sort of a joke? Let's be 'friends'?"
Miranda scrunched it up viciously and hurled it at her bin.
She should probably fire blonde Emily – except this removal would be considerably harder to explain to HR. "Failure to correctly interpret my romantic feelings for my former assistant when sending floral tributes", did not sound particularly good on paper. And if the girl got it into her head to go to Page Six about her cruel boss's behavior … Well. So blonde Emily lived to disappoint for another day.
Her phone beeped and she saw it was a text from Cassidy. She opened the message to read: "MOM – GROVEL! DO IT YOURSELF! Stop getting your assistants to send Andy stupid friendship flowers. DON'T BE AN IDIOT!"
Miranda's eyes narrowed at the impudence and she flicked a glance at Emily, wondering if she was the stool pigeon. However the other girl blinked back at her innocently.
Perhaps Andrea herself was the culprit? Miranda was aware her daughters still emailed her, though Miranda had turned a blind eye to it.
She sniffed. She supposed if she wanted something done, she'd have to do it herself.
She stood and declared "Coat! Bag! Call Roy."
She was in her car heading for The Mirror before she realised she hadn't quite contemplated her strategy. She licked her lips anxiously. Should she bring gifts?
Well, the last one had backfired somewhat spectacularly.
She strode into the newspaper office as though she owned the place, ignoring the startled bark of the security guard. Her nostrils twitched and flared. Ink and paper and coffee and sweat permeated every surface. This was what Andrea found so preferable to Runway? To her?
Good God. She cared for a girl with no taste whatsoever.
At that thought, she almost stumbled. Well, she sniffed to herself, she supposed by now it was obvious she did care. Given here she was in a media hovel about to ask Andrea to come back into her life.
"May I help you, Miss … Oh! OH! You're, you're…"
"I'm well aware of who I am," Miranda told the secretary burbling at her like a star-struck goose from the entrance to Editorial.
"Miss Priestly! Miranda Priestly! Oh my goodness," she continued to prattle..
"Where, pray tell," Miranda said giving her a glacial eyeball which finally silenced her, "Does your reporter Andrea Sachs sit?"
"Who?" The woman gaped at her, face flushed with excitement, clearly wracking her minimal brain cells. "Oh wait you mean the new girl? Andy? She's near the back wall. By the toilets."
Miranda's nose wrinkled in distaste at the thought but nonetheless followed where the woman's enthusiastic finger was pointing.
She strode towards the group of desks along the windowless back wall, well aware conversations were stuttering to a halt around her, and eyes starting to track her progress. She tilted her head back and walked like a queen as she reminded herself she was better than all of them.
She glided to a halt in front of Andrea's desk. And for a moment she felt sure her heart was about to pound out of its chest.
"Andrea," she purred.
The journalist glanced up, surprise widening her beautiful brown eyes, and then she put up one finger, and bent her head again.
Miranda suddenly realised she was on the phone and that she, Miranda Priestly was being asked to wait.
She cooled her heels and glanced around the office, aware many fingers were making a pretence of bashing keyboards as their owners' eyes were glued to the back of the room, on her.
Her color was rising. Was Andrea deliberately making her look foolish by having her wait? She felt the rise of embarrassment paired with a jolt of irritation.
Andrea put the receiver back in its cradle. "Sorry, it was the mayor's secretary, I couldn't hang up – she was talking about her puppies."
"Puppies?" Miranda glared at her. "You made me wait for puppies?"
"Yeah," Andrea smiled. "Well they were award-winning pups. It's the assistant-to-assistant code I learnt from working with you. I was getting on her good side. For later."
"Is there something I can do for you, Miranda?" Andrea asked in her most assistantly voice. She smiled sunnily and Miranda frowned.
"You know very well why I'm here."
"To grovel? At least that's what the twins told me," Andrea said and lifted her cell phone. "They also told me I had to give you a hard time until you prove you're really sorry. So are you?"
Miranda gaped. "I… do not grovel," she whispered.
"Right. So then," Andy said turning back to her screen, "It seems we're done here."
She reached for her work phone.
Miranda's hand shot out to stop it, and rested on top of the soft, warm fingers on the back of the receiver.
"Andrea," she said. "Being without you has been unacceptable." She stared at her. "VERY unacceptable." She willed her to see what she was saying. "Will you come back?"
Andrea eyed her for a very long moment.
"Miranda," she sighed. "You're really crap at apologies, aren't you?"
Miranda's cheeks reddened. "I suppose."
"Lack of practice?" Andrea's eyes sparkled.
Miranda's lips pursed. "Well if you're just going to humiliate me for saying sorry, I'll leave."
"Miranda – you haven't actually said sorry yet. All you've told me is how unacceptable your life is now, and are looking at me like you expect me to fix that. You haven't once said why I should want to be with you. You haven't given me one positive. And, the twins will be disappointed to hear, I also see no evidence whatsoever of grovelling."
Miranda's mouth dropped open in protest.
"Although," Andrea interrupted, "I suppose it's a step up from getting your assistant to send me friendship flowers or hiding me away at the townhouse for a meal where the girls can remind me what I'm missing. That was a clever strategy, but I'm not falling for it."
A silence fell between them.
"So what are you saying?" Miranda asked shakily, her heart was now pounding painfully. She hadn't actually anticipated what she'd do if her pretty little zebra said no. She shook her head after a beat as she realized to her dismay, that Andrea Sachs - sitting regally in her tattered chair in the distasteful surrounds of a Fourth Estate swamp - might actually be the lion in this scenario.
"I don't grovel," Miranda whispered forcefully. "I can't. I don't show weakness because it gets you killed in my game. Not for anyone. Not even for you."
"I see," Andrea looked at her sadly. "Well. Thank you for telling me that in person. If you could see yourself out? I have a lot of work to do. And these obits won't write themselves."
Miranda could see tears welling at the edge of Andrea's wide brown eyes. But her jaw and mouth were resolute. She didn't want this but she was doing it anyway. Because Andrea had her pride.
Miranda understood all about pride. And pride could be costly. She glanced around the room again, licking her lips. Eyes were still on them, but not quite as many.
Andrea's eyes had returned to her computer screen.
Miranda considered her options and stood stock still as she decided. Finally she sighed.
"All right," she huffed, and slowly lowered herself to her knees and took Andrea's hands from the keyboard to clasp in her own. "I am sorry, Andrea. I wish to date you. I wish you to know I care for you and your absence in my life has been impossible and I don't wish to endure that anymore."
The brunette froze and blinked at the fashion editor.
"Miranda!" she hissed. "Get up! People are watching! Shit, Louise from the socials pages is watching. And taking notes! Oh GOD, my EDITOR is watching!"
"Yes," Miranda said unmoved. "I am well aware. I believe I was giving you what you wished for: showing you the depth of my sincerity so you could never question it again. Come back to me, Andrea. Please."
"Yes, yes, yes, fine, get up," Andrea hissed and virtually pushed Miranda to her feet. "Oh my God!" Her cheeks flushed bright red. "Holy shit. No one has ever done that for me before." She grinned widely.
"What?" Miranda asked regally as she dusted her knees with an unimpressed slap.
"Grovelled for me." Andrea laughed. "In public no less."
"Oh don't be ridiculous, Andrea," Miranda huffed and then gave her a cheeky kiss on the lips, her eyes sparkling. She adjusted her coat and straightened.
"After all, I already told you, I do not grovel."
With that she swept out of the office with a jaunty swish of her hips and a bright smirk on her face.
Chapter 8: Not Besotted
SPOTTED: We hope you're sitting down for this one, dear readers, because we can scarcely believe what our spies are telling us took place on the floor of The Mirror newspaper yesterday.
And we do mean ON the floor. As in a certain devilish fashion maven ON HER KNEES, doubtlessly bespoiling her divine Pierre Mantoux nylons, before a certain former assistant-turned-cub Mirror reporter. Hands were held. Eyes met for meaningful glances.
Was it a proposal? Were whispers of sweet nothings exchanged between the clearly besotted pair?
Our cackling favorite social scribe at The Mirror, fearless gossip hound Louise Glass, tells us we should all fix our peepers on The Mirror's website for her glorious exclusive update in a few hours. We're all a-tremble, cherubs. Whatever will we find?
In the meantime: Send us your top wedding gift ideas befitting the Ice Queen and the adorable sweet minx who has melted her heart.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
By Social Reporter Louise Glass
Darlings, yes, yes, I know all you want to talk about is our now-famous fabled newsroom encounter between Miranda Priestly and her ex-girl Friday - and my newest colleague - gorgeous obituaries writer Andy Sachs.
I have received 1500 new followers in the past hour. Website traffic is up 720 per cent. Pleas from Entertainment Tonight fill my phone. But alas, we received not 20 minutes ago, a letter from the Devil herself demanding we cease and desist running any and all of the fabulously exciting details. So any photos I may or may not have snapped on my trusty iPhone of Runway's queen of fashion bowed on her knees before a certain shocked reporter will have to stay between me and my Apple account. For now.
Would that I could let you all have sneak a peek but Ms Priestly's snapping legal guard dogs were most clear on all the ways their sharp teeth would bloody my beautiful corpse if we persisted with running anything.
But don't worry, darlings, our paper's own loyal bloodhounds are taking on the Devil's advocates and we should know whether the legal injunction has legs when the dust clears. Watch this space.
Miranda Priestly closed The Mirror's social website with a sigh. It would do for now. Lewis, she supposed, was good for something even if he had failed to adjust the First Amendment as per her earlier instructions. Some ridiculous bleating about the Forefathers and Supreme Court challenges and blah blah blah. She rolled her eyes. Good help was so hard to find.
Although how anyone had concluded she was "besotted" by Andrea based on that little scene in the newsroom was beyond her. Besides, she didn't do besotted. She didn't even do love – well, except for her darling girls.
She had often wondered in her earlier years whether the romantic love gene had simply bypassed her. If it even existed in the first place. She snorted.
It was probably some Disney-engineered artificial construct that led those suffering the first flush of lust to conflate it with a deeper intimacy. An entire industry had sprung up around it – from Valentine's Day to the wedding industry. Obviously no one would be bursting that bubble any time soon.
Still, if the discussion was about caring for someone, well, she could see how that related to what she felt for Andrea. A smile danced around her lips. Andrea had consented to dine with her at a rather romantic restaurant this evening. She had plans to show her exactly how needed she was. And how desirable. But she would not make the mistake she did last time of rushing things. No, no, she would slowly romance the girl, lest she got scared off and ran again. And that would not do.
That decided, she leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. She wondered what Andrea was wearing to work today. Would it match those soft brown eyes? Did she even own anything to match such sweetness? She snapped her eyes open with a frown. Hmm. She thought not.
She snatched up the phone and dialled Nigel.
"Get me some outfits that do justice to Andrea's eyes," she snapped. "I think a dozen or two should suffice."
"Uh, wha… Miranda? Eyes? Do y…"
"That's all." She hung up and smirked.
Better. She tried to picture Andrea smiling up at her in happiness at the new wardrobe arriving. Her smile really did light up a room. She needed sunglasses to look at it directly. One of her best features. Although not her best one. She smirked again and wondered at the odd giddiness in her stomach. What on earth had she been eating?
An hour later a harried Nigel arrived hauling a rack of clothes.
"About time," Miranda sniffed, actually rather impressed she could see almost thirty outfits adorning the racks.
Her art director rolled his eyes and she almost laughed at how miffed he looked.
"Soooo," he said with a sly glance, rocking back on his heels as she nosed through the clothing articles, "Besotted?"
She glared at him. "Tabloid nonsense," she said with a dismissive wave. "Really Nigel. You know me – do I look like the besotted type? Oh, this one," she paused pulling a slinky dress from the rack and examining it. "The new Stella. Oh yes."
"No Miranda, you normally do not do besotted," Nigel agreed and tilted his head as he regarded her. "But you don't normally ask me for outfits to match your lover's eyes either."
She pursed her lips at his impertinence. "Well of course not," she retorted, "All my previous lovers have been male."
"Men do have eyes that can be seen as beautiful and outfit-matching," he objected with a wounded tone.
She snorted at that before her face lit up as she spotted another outfit. Oh yes. Nigel had outdone himself. She licked her lips as she imagined Andrea in it.
"Ah, the Vivienne," Nigel smiled. "I knew you'd like that one. Six'll knock em dead at work."
"Don't be ridiculous – I shall never let her leave the house wearing this. It's a safety issue: She'd cause riots!"
His hearty chuckle made her smile, too.
"Well," she nodded. "Good. Have one of each of these sent to that dreary apartment of hers. Make it a morning delivery as she's working from noon today. And Nigel – I want store purchases, not from the Closet. Put it on my personal account. The last thing I need is Irv using my interest in Andrea as an excuse to stir up trouble."
"I'm actually surprised he hasn't already," Nigel muttered, making notes of the clothes she'd selected. "I mean he knew about you and Six while she was working here."
"Yes but at the time we were in an old-fashioned stalemate. He was involved with his secretary."
"Mavis?" Nigel recoiled in shock. "But she's so nice. And sweet."
"And lacking in taste," Miranda added. "And discretion. Unfortunately he's 'reallocated' her to another masthead now so any mutually assured destruction leverage I had has gone."
"Ah. By the way, at the risk of veering into the personal..." Nigel began, eyes flicking up to hers.
Miranda sighed. "As if I could stop you."
"I just want to say it was a ballsy move what you did at The Mirror yesterday. When I told you to apologize 'spectacularly' I had no idea how literally you'd take me."
"Well but of course Nigel it was all about you," Miranda flashed him an incredulous look. "I mean really."
"No, no I didn't mean that. I mean – I know you and you'd never have done that on the floor of Stephen's office, or Gary's or even Jonathan's. So… ah, wow."
Miranda frowned. She supposed that was true. She wondered briefly what it meant. Her perplexed expression must have been easy to read because suddenly Nigel dared to go that little bit too far.
"You love her," he suddenly said and grinned. "You really really do. You might even be," he gasped theatrically, and clutched his chest, "Besotted…"
"Get out!" she barked, pulling an appalled face and he disappeared, laughter accompanying him as he pushed the rack back down the hall.
Ridiculous. Her eyes narrowed.
SPOTTED: Our favorite Devil with the new-found Sapphic streak has been observed wining and dining her beloved brunette devilette at Serafina Fabulous. It's the tenth sighting out and about this month of the pair we're now dubbing Mirandy - so the famously private Runway queen is not exactly keeping her romance on the down-low. Interestingly our spies camped out at both ladies' homes say there's no evidence of, ahem, sleepovers. So color us confused and dip us in rainbow sprinkles: are our lesbi-licious lovebirds waiting for their wedding night? How delightfully old-fashioned.
On that topic, cherubs, keep your suggestions coming in for wedding gifts. Topping the short list – and our personal favorite – is a shiny diamante-encrusted red trident.
SPOTTED: The Devil herself, and you know the one, but we'll give you a clue, white coiff, adorably sweet girlfriend half her age, increasingly satisfied smirk (and wouldn't you have one, too?) – in a fuming rage outside her offices. And we all know why. Our lovely rival at The Mirror broke the news yesterday that a certain bottle-blonde ex-Second Assistant of Miranda "Don't Screw With Me, Minions" Priestly had defected to Anna Wintour's lair.
But not only that, the ungrateful poppet, Amelia Winthrop, 23, is reportedly shopping around to various mags and rags the secrets of her time clasped to the ice-cold bosom of the Devil. Ms Winthrop promised, to any who would listen, a tell-all article that involves the threats, bizarre whims, and, most curiously, grovelling "roses to say sorry" requests.
Well, well. What on earth could Her Devilship have to be sorry about? Oh how our mind boggles. Everything from dangling subordinates from rooftops to global warming springs to mind.
Well, whoever snaps up the salacious tell-all story, Page Six can assure you we'll be first in line to take copious notes. In the meantime, we suggest dear clueless Ms Winthrop should probably read her Runway Non-Disclosure Agreement. She's doubtlessly in for a rude shock.
SPOTTED: It's all happening at Runway this week, cherubs. Lawyers were seen serving papers on Amelia Winthrop for breaching that NDA. We warned her last week to read the fine print, tsk tsk. There's a reason no other minions have ever spilled any of the gossip lollies before.
Also spotted: The Devil stepping out at the Black and White Ball with her pretty paramour, Mirror reporter turned freelancer Andrea Sachs, on her arm. It was a bold statement – and yes the startling silver dresses we all loved on the Best Dessed lists were indeed designed to complement both ladies as a pair. And this time the prickly Ice Queen didn't bother denying it when asked. How times change.
Meanwhile Runway Art Director Nigel Kipling made waves in The Advocate's fabulous closeted executives feature. Why – because the talented former designer reveals his Devilish boss had been the one who nominated him to speak out – all without a hint of irony. Which makes us wonder: just what label does Ms Priestly affix to herself these days? Well, beyond "Besotted", of course. Because, by all reports, that one's sticking.
"It's sticking, huh?" Andrea murmured against Miranda's neck as the editor lowered her newspaper with a displeased hiss. "Good," the journalist added firmly. "I'm glad to hear it."
They were twined on Miranda's couch at the townhouse, after catching a lunch and matinee together. Snuggling, which Miranda definitely did not do, was accidentally happening. Quite a lot. And had been for weeks.
"I'm not besotted," Miranda protested feebly as that tongue was whispering its way around her neck. Oh God. She'd have to have the patience of a saint to resist her adorable companion if she kept this up. It had been months of chaste dates, and less-than-chaste kisses, as Miranda had tried to show Andrea that she cared enough to show their reconnecting was not about Miranda merely getting her rocks off. But good lord, that wicked tongue was talented.
"Not besotted?" Andrea replied with a disappointed fake growl against her throat. "How disappointing. So, Ms Priestly, your adoring public wishes to know: How would you characterize your affections for me?"
"Are you fishing, Andrea?" Miranda arched her eyebrow.
"Always. You're so damned hard to read."
"Please," Miranda sighed. "You make me sound impossible."
The laughter against her chest made a bubble of delight fill her.
"Mmm," Andrea said, "Ri-ight. You're a pussy."
Miranda's breath caught and she tried not to get distracted. "I may not be besotted," she began, "Because besotted people are all 12-year-olds and find that boy, what's his name, Justin Beebs…"
"Whatever. Those besotted fans find untamed sacks of teen hormones like that man-boy to be adorable. So, no, I do not fit into that class."
"I see," Andrea said biting teasingly at the skin beneath her lips. "So what class are you in?"
"I suspect it would be in the realms of appreciative, caring, don't-wish-you-to-leave," Miranda said with a groan as that tongue spun another swirl around her neck. And before she could engage the brakes on her brain, the word "Ever" popped out next.
The tongue froze its miraculous circles.
"So you 'appreciate' me ... for ever?" An amused voice asked. "Why Miranda – your silver tongue."
Miranda blushed hotly.
"Well," the white-haired woman said and licked her lips. "The girls are so fond of you. It would be difficult to break in a new model at this late stage."
"Hey!" Andrea slapped her arm indignantly and Miranda laughed. Her eyes fixed on her girlfriend and she smiled.
"I do want you to consider moving in actually," Miranda said quietly. "For a long, long, long while. If you could manage that, the girls would indeed be appreciative. Because they – we - care for you. Immensely. And it would be more convenient. For … for, ah, soccer practice attendance and so forth."
Andrea smiled against Miranda's neck. "Mmm," she said as though weighing it up seriously. "I care for you all too. And I think I'd like to move in. For soccer practice car-pooling purposes of course. Because that's important." Her eyes met Miranda's and they were dancing with amusement. "But just to be clear – you're 'appreciative', and 'caring', but you're absolutely not besotted."
"Of course not," Miranda snorted, a matching gleam in her eyes.
She leaned forward and dropped a kiss on the lips that had been teasing her all afternoon. "The very idea."
"Miranda," Andy said, from the muffled depths of the older woman's hall closet, where she was depositing her coat, "Is there some reason you have a red bedazzled trident in here?"
"Oh that. Some ridiculous Page Six person sent it over as a wedding gift."
There was a thunk. Andrea emerged rubbing her head. "Ow. Wedding? We're getting married?"
"Of course not. Don't be ridiculous," Miranda said. "Now come out of the closet, darling."
Andrea snorted. "I thought I already had. Well both of us. All of your wining and dining me for weeks and weeks was hardly going to go unnoticed."
"Wining and dining," Miranda snorted. "More like whining and dining. How many mea culpas did I end up performing? Did it average one grovelling apology per course, dear?"
Her eyes twinkled. Miranda was surprised to find herself more amused and impressed than anything else at how much effort Andrea had required from her before agreeing to recommit to their relationship. It actually raised her considerably higher in Miranda's estimation. Women should place a high value on themselves. Hadn't she tried to teach her daughters exactly this? Andrea couldn't be a better role model. Not to mention she was kind and generous and brought laughter back into their home.
Not that she had shared any of this. Miranda could do without further smug looks. Andrea was insufferable enough as it was, after putting Miranda through a Herculean set of embarrassing trials. The dinner apologies, as it turned out, had been just the tip of the iceberg of the intense months of grovelling required. She shuddered at several still burning memories.
"Well you deserved it," Andrea said firmly, and closed the closet door, turning to face her. "I wasn't going to accept you back without a full and clear display of utter contrition. And, as you know, the girls agreed with me that this was the correct procedure. You raised them well," she added with a gleam.
"Ah yes, your mini-me accomplices. I suppose that serenaded apology at your apartment door was their idea, too?"
"I had no idea you had such a lovely voice, Miranda," Andrea giggled. "Neither did my neighbors. So what gave away whose idea it was?"
"Unless your musical tastes have regressed to the chewing gum classics from Frozen - the twins' all-time favorite musical I might add - then, yes, I did suspect their hand in the song title you texted me to perform."
Andrea gave her that goofy smile that absolutely did not melt Miranda from the inside out nor turn her into a pathetic pile of goo.
"What?" Miranda asked in the face of that appallingly adorable expression. Really, how was one supposed to concentrate when fixed with such a look?
"You sang it. You sang 'Let it Go', in public, for ME."
Andrea was glowing again.
"Well it wasn't so much 'in public' as to a dimly lit hallway lined with closed doors," Miranda rolled her eyes.
Andrea slid her arms around Miranda. "Mmm, yes, closed doors, behind which were actual people, none of whom, I note, complained once. Although old Mrs Fredericks in 4B declared your voice was 'lovely' when we crossed paths in the laundry room the next day."
"How on earth did she know it was me?" Miranda gasped. The only thing saving her last shred of tattered dignity had been her sense of anonymity in that darkened hallway eight weeks ago.
"Well who else would be loitering outside my apartment for starters? And who would change the lyrics to 'Let Page Six rage on; the paps never bothered me anyway'?"
"Ah, that. The song was insipid in its original form. If I was required to sing for my love, it wasn't going to be with those dreadful lyrics."
Andrea was looking at her strangely.
"What is it?" Miranda's eyebrows lifted.
The hands around her waist tightened and tugged her towards a soft, warm belly. "You just called me your 'love'. Careful La Priestly, or I'll start to think this prickly act of yours hides a mushy heart capable of romance."
Miranda smirked and couldn't bring herself to make her usual trademark retort. Instead she just gazed at Andrea, now her Andrea, and traced a stray hair, curling it back behind the brunette's ear.
"Pure speculation," she whispered. "You have no proof of such wild allegations." She leaned forward and captured Andrea's lips in her own.
Her heart rate leaped as it usually did when she felt the whisper of the other woman's lips moving against her own. The desire had been the other wonderful new development in recent months. Miranda had discovered she was capable of multiple orgasms. And, she had discovered a rather avid interest in trying to elicit them from Andrea. How many and how often and under what circumstances was an ongoing research project she hoped to be able to continue indefinitely. Her present line of inquiry involved soft lighting, donning white stockings (wearing nothing else), and trailing silk scarves over youthful, pliant skin until nipples hardened into pebbles.
At that thought she gave a purr against Andrea's throat, pleased at the goosebumps that instantly erupted. She smiled. The young woman was impossibly adorable.
"Imagine the rumor I could start," Andrea murmured softly against her ear. She blew at strands of white hair. "The devil has a heart. And it's beautiful. And sweet."
"They'd never believe such a ridiculous story, darling," Miranda said firmly. "Even the National Enquirer would baulk at that one on the grounds it's too outlandish."
Andrea laughed against her neck. "I think you're kidding yourself again. Like all those times you said we didn't have sex and weren't friends and weren't dating. I think you're really the queen of denial. I dread to think what your non-marriage proposal might be like..."
"White is a very attractive color," Miranda said nonchalantly. "It would look good on you."
Andrea blinked at her. "Miranda?"
"Not that it should be big, our all-white 'party'. We could invite a celebrant. Who could perhaps say a few words and ask a few questions, to which the answers would be a resounding yes. At least on my side."
"You're proposing to me?" Andrea's eyes grew wide. "You want to marry me?"
"It would be a shame to waste the trident," Miranda argued. Her eyes danced. "And I wouldn't call it a wedding so much as a gathering of friends and a pure white theme."
"This is the weirdest proposal…"
"Proposal?" Miranda said innocently. She ran her fingers softly through Andrea's hair. "What an idea. The very notion that Miranda Priestly would propose to the woman she loves."
"Oh!" Andrea's eyes grew very wide. "Oh my God."
"Miranda," Andrea rolled her eyes and slapped her bicep playfully. "I'm still waiting for a real proposal. A girl doesn't wait her whole life to hope she gets invited to a white party."
"I suppose not," Miranda said after a beat. She sighed dramatically and lowered herself to one knee with a tiny groan. She was getting too old for this romance business. But one look at Andrea's shining face derailed that thought. She was glowing. Hope and joy suffused her beautiful, expressive face.
Miranda reached up for her hand and felt it was damp.
She swallowed. She really had no experience at this. At asking it, and meaning it, and truly loving. All of it. Any of it.
"Andrea," she began, shocked at how thick her voice sounded, rough with emotion. "I cannot imagine life without you. I do love you. Will you -"
Andrea hauled Miranda to her feet and smothered her in kisses. The editor eyed her fondly.
"You will notice," she drawled, "That I still didn't actually propose."
She gave a cheeky grin and kissed the startled look off Andrea's astounded face.
No, no, Miranda Priestly did not do ridiculous things like propose marriage. How absurd.
Dedicating this chapter to Elliewrites who has been so wonderful in helping me with Americanisms in my fab lesbian novel I'm writing. This is also where I've been lately. I hope to drop in on my Mirandy fics again as time permits.
Chapter 10: Not a Wedding
"Sooo," Nigel began without preamble, dropping into the chair opposite Miranda. "Would you care to explain this?"
He waved a white embossed square with gold edging.
"Are you suffering some form of head injury?" Miranda inquired over her reading glasses. "I should think it's fairly self-evident."
"Self-evident," Nigel muttered. He cleared his throat and read: "You are invited to the white party of Miranda Elizabeth Priestly and Andrea Susan Sachs on September 4th at 2pm at the Priestly residence. Dress is formal. A reception will be held at the private rooms at Per Se, Manhattan. RSVP August 18."
He looked up. "You're getting married," he accused.
"Now where on that little card does it say that?" Miranda's eyebrows lifted. "It's just a social event with a white theme and a celebrant. I mean really, Nigel."
Her eyes sparkled with mischief.
"Ri-ight." Nigel lifted the card again and read the fine print at the bottom of the invitation. "In lieu of gifts, Miranda and Andrea request donations be made to the Women in Need shelter, Brooklyn."
He looked up. "In lieu of gifts," he repeated slowly and eyeballed her, "Give to a women's shelter."
"And you have a problem with this?" Miranda asked in her most deceptively sweet tone. "What have you got against helping underprivileged and abused women of New York anyway? I must say, I'm shocked at you, Nigel."
He rolled his eyes at her. "Uh huh. So, then, answer me this: Who has a party with a full-on reception and the expectation of gifts without there being a wedding?"
"Been to any bar mitzvahs lately?"
"Bar mitzvahs don't have celebrants." Nigel's face softened. "By the way I'm really happy for you and Six. It's great you worked it all out. So - who's the best man?" He waggled his eyebrows hopefully.
"Well you would be if this was a wedding and if you didn't also apparently have some objections to helping women in crisis. I may have to rethink the entire speech list now."
"Oh ha ha," Nigel said, but nothing could stop him beaming. "Yes, Miranda, I'll be very proud to be your best man. Or 'not-best man' as the case may be. Whatever your merry delusion wants to call the job title."
"Excellent. Can you tell that impossible creature manning my phones that she will also have to assist in the party planning? Andrea insisted I choose her and, really, what can I do?"
"Yup, Six's big browns are definitely hard to turn down," Nigel grinned. "So Emily's the bridesmaid? Oh, oops, I mean 'not-bridesmaid'. Oh, hey, as part of my job, I get to plan the bachelor party for you, right?"
"Don't be absurd. You have those at weddings, and this, as I have already patiently explained, is a white party."
"Such a shame," Nigel sighed, "Because I know some confirmed bachelors and bachelorettes with abs to die for who would swoon at the thought of whipping their gear off for La Priestly. Not to mention doing a little lap dance." His eyes were gleaming.
Miranda shuddered. "I will not thank you for that disturbing mental image. Now don't you have some work to do? Go and make yourself useful and find out why Patrick hasn't given you any samples that don't cause spontaneous bleeding from the eyeballs."
Well cherubs, we told you so! A certain devilish white-haired lover of the ladies (or one in particular) was spotted with her former assistant busily Hers-and-Hers ring-shopping at Tiffany's. Our sharp-eyed spy observed the love birds spending over an hour making selections for each other before leaving with a pair of red velvet boxes and matching smitten expressions. Looks like our diamante trident offering will be the first of many.
Runway's art director Nigel Kipling, he of the Advocate's feature on closeted executives fame, was seen buying best man's kit at Saks Fifth Avenue. Yes, wedding bells (or should that be belles?) are definitely afoot in what will be New York's event of the season. Runway's stylish dragon lady, the one and only La Priestly, and her adorable ex-assistant, reporter Andy Sachs, will be tying the knot on September 4 if their loose-lipped (now former) wedding planner is correct. Paps should stock up on extra camera memory cards and mark out their positions now at Per Se.
But what we cannot fathom is why everyone at Runway's mag is denying it's a wedding. To every man, woman, and carb-deprived clacker, this is the case. Would someone care to explain? We're all ears, dears.
September 4 dawned with chaos as children ran from room to room – only two of them seemed to be Miranda's but the others, well, she wasn't entirely sure where they'd sprung from. Given the vague resemblance they bore to Andrea, she presumed they were among the litter of nephews and nieces she'd once alluded to. They must have blown in with Andrea's sister, Gloria, who had arrived the previous evening with her husband, Robert.
Andrea's parents had declined to attend their event, which secretly relieved Miranda who did not wish to see any sour faces sitting in the crowd, silently judging her or their daughter.
"Wheeeeeeee!" came a squeal and Miranda looked up, startled, to see a boy, maybe eight, flying down the banister.
He landed in a spectacular tangle on the floor and Miranda rushed over to see how many limbs were broken. Instead he bounced back to his feet and giggled, showing off an impressive set of missing front teeth. A pre-existing condition, she was pleased to note.
"Howro," he said. "I'm Mike."
"I see," Miranda said, glancing around for the Sachs' cavalry to claim the errant urchin. Seeing none, she lowered herself to floor level and looked into chocolate brown eyes that seemed so very familiar. "I'm Miranda."
"Ooh," his eyes widened. His mouth fell open. "You the dragon? The dragon marrying our Andy?"
"Yes," Miranda agreed, lips twitching. "That would be me."
"Typical," the brunette in question said from behind her, suddenly stepping out from the kitchen, holding a steaming cup of coffee. She grinned. "You'll admit to my seven-year-old nephew you're getting married, but not to me?"
"Well." Miranda said, caught. She rose to her feet.
"Yeah, great answer," Andrea said and gave her a peck. "Mikey, go and wash up for breakfast. And no more riding the banisters." They watched him scamper upstairs and Andrea handed her the coffee. "For you. Sorry my family is so loud. And messy. And a little crazy."
"Well I knew what I was getting into," Miranda said with a sniff. "I did date you after all."
"Beast," Andrea said. "Remind me why I'm marrying you again?"
Miranda lifted her eyebrows. "Actually it's a white party, dear."
The celebrant at the 'white party' obviously didn't realise it wasn't a wedding. She kept saying the W-word over and over. Miranda wondered if she could get away shooting daggers at the woman marrying them. Her blushing (not) bride-to-be found it all hilarious. Of course she did. Miranda was beginning to wonder if she'd bribed the woman to say "wedding" as many times as possible in forty minutes.
Andrea snickered again.
She glanced around. Nigel looked resplendent and proud as her best man. He had not kidnapped her, as he'd threatened, to take her to a strip club. Instead, last night, he'd taken her for massages, manis, pedis and a soothing therapy of some sort involving smooth warm rocks placed on her back. It was, she'd told him, "entirely acceptable". His eyes had glowed with pleasure.
She didn't know where Emily, Serena, Gloria and Andrea had gotten to last night. But there had been glitter upon her return. And a stamp on the back of her hand she'd been trying to scrub off for most of the morning as the perplexed quartet tried various home remedies. She didn't ask; they didn't tell.
Her daughters, standing beside Emily at the front of her back yard, were beaming with happiness and excitement – expressions they absolutely had not worn at her previous weddings. It was a little unsettling to realise how much they adored Andrea and, by contrast, how indifferent they'd obviously secretly been to her past choices.
They had already given her their blessing. The previous evening she'd found her daughters waiting on her bed after she'd returned from the pampering night.
"We wanted to say," Caroline began formally ...
"How happy we are," Cassidy continued in their shared twin-speak.
"That you finally came to your senses," Caroline said. "Because Andy is…"
"The best," Cassidy concluded as her sister nodded earnestly. "Don't mess it up."
They both gave her tight hugs.
"I'll try not to," Miranda agreed, stroking the red tangles of hair under her chin.
"And if you manage to sing Let It Go at the reception, we wouldn't mind," Cassidy suggested hopefully against her neck.
"Yeah, we're kind of mad with ourselves we didn't get to hear you the other time," Caroline added. "We should have insisted you serenade Andy at our house."
Miranda laughed. "You two really care about her don't you?"
They gave her matching "Duh" expressions. Cassidy even rolled her eyes in a perfect replica of her own.
Duh indeed. Miranda smirked at the memory.
The guests, a veritable who's who of the fashion world, plus a certain doctor who had laughed uproariously when she accepted the invitation (Miranda narrowed her eyes at the thought), had taken Miranda at her word. Almost all wore some aspect of white in their dress. They looked magnificent. But none more so than Andrea.
Andrea wore the most divine Valentino gown, designed especially for her. Miranda may or may not have overseen the fifty-odd design "tweaks" she'd insisted upon but the end result was amazing. She looked radiant.
Miranda felt her heart do that little leapfrog with a twist that it had been doing all morning. And her eyes, which were absolutely not filling with tears, began to blink rapidly. She smoothed down her silk Vera Wang dress and glanced at the celebrant.
She was speaking. "I believe Andy and Miranda have written their own vows. Andy?"
Andrea sucked in a deep breath and offered a bright, watery smile.
"Miranda, it's no secret we got off to a rocky start," she grinned. "I wore cerulean polyester, you wore a horrified expression. I didn't know any designers and I thought fashion was nothing serious. Oh and I didn't even know "center of the sun" was a coffee temperature until I met you.
"And then I began to watch and learn. What I learned was two things: How to anticipate your every whim…" The crowd laughed … "And how to strive for perfection and be the best I can be. I also learned that nothing is impossible if you try.
"I thank you for that amazing gift, as well as the gift of your love, the gift of sharing your clever, cheeky daughters with me, and the gift of sharing all of yourself. And not the least, the gift of sharing 'Frozen' with all the residents on the fourth floor of my old apartment block."
The crowd laughed.
"Seriously though, Miranda, I vow to love and cherish you every day, through your fabulous moods and diabolical ones, through sickness and health, till death us do part. I love you so much. I love that I'm in your life and able to be in this, uh, white party."
She gave a cheeky grin. The crowd tittered.
"Andrea," Miranda began with a soft smile, "You are unique in a bland, colorless world filled with drones. I appreciate your generosity of heart. Your laughter, your spirit and your principles. I promise to always be at your side, when you mix your poly-blends and when you dazzle us all in Valentino." Her face glowed as she ran her eyes appreciatively over Andrea's dress.
Miranda sighed and tilted her head. "I am dreadful at weddings," she admitted. "Worse at marriages. Everyone knows this. My failure at this institution cannot have escaped even your bright view of the world, Andrea. I want you to understand that I have not called this event a wedding for one reason: I simply don't wish to jinx anything that is going so well.
"I could not bear something so wonderful being lumped in with my past appalling endeavors. I see this as a pure white event because it is unsullied, precious and beautiful. As is my bride.
"I love you Andrea. I loved you when we weren't together. And when we weren't dating. When we weren't friends. When I wasn't besotted. And when I wasn't proposing. All these times I wasn't, I absolutely was. Darling, please be mine forever."
She smiled as Andrea grinned through tears and flung her arms around her neck.
At that, the crowd was on its feet, clapping excitedly, with many a creative type wiping tears as the celebrant shouted above them all that they were now married.
Miranda kissed Andrea. Andrea kissed Miranda.
Emily sniffed. "About bleeding time."
Nigel nodded in agreement, beaming widely.
Which pair of blushing brides was seen heading to their reception at Per Se with a red trident strapped to the roof of their luxe car? We told you they loved our gift, cherubs! Or at the very least their best man did, one Nigel Kipling, who was spotted by our spies with duct tape and a fabulously guilty expression. And from Page Six: All our very best to the devilish duo. May their lives together be long and happy.