Friday, 9:00 AM
As she is about to sit on her office chair and grab her coffee when her phone buzzes. She looks up to check her office’s reception area: her first assistant is talking to the phone, back facing her. The second is heading out for an errand.
She swivels around to face the windows behind her and unlocks her phone to check the message:
Good morning, beautiful. Can’t wait for tonight. Miss you. xx
Her heart skips a beat. She, too, has looked forward to this day since they made plans two weeks ago. The girls will be on their way to their father for a week-long vacation by 3 pm. Three whole days with her . Three.
She took a deep breath and slowly let it out, savoring the anticipation.
It went to hell some minutes after she arrived.
The theme for the next issue revolves around “night and day”. A photoshoot was scheduled tonight from 8 pm onwards. That shoot has been planned for a month but it seemed all it takes is a day to throw all that planning out the window.
Markus Johansson, the photographer who is perfect for the spread, is supposed to fly to New York by 11 AM is apparently stuck in Paris due to a security concern in the airport. The equipment that he needed to be able to take high quality photos in lowlight got waylaid in Logan Airport for some reason. The Lanvin pieces that will be used in the shoots were missing.
Usually she would just let all of this go and let Patrick handle this but he is in another shoot and Mario is apparently in India doing a self-discovery and spirituality journey - whatever that means.
The director of the shoot Clara, Nigel’s second in command in the art department and protege, drunk something that has strawberry and is now admitted to Mount Sinai after a bad case of anaphylactic shock. On top of it all, Nigel and his other protege, George is in Italy to direct another shoot for the issue and the rest of her staff seemed to have lost their wits collectively.
Miranda feels a big headache mounting from her nape to the top of her head.
“Alicia, get me Emily now and when she arrives, fire the new girl. Is it so hard to grasp what she should be doing after being two weeks in this job? Not really. I want Markus here in New York tonight. Do whatever it takes to get him out of Paris and get someone to fetch his equipment. Why is it in Boston? Are people just so incompetent nowadays that shipping equipments from Paris to New York is impossible?”
“No, Miranda.” Alicia, her first assistant, answers scribbling on her small notepad.
Eventually, things fall into place.
Donatella’s jet is not in Paris but Bernard is happy to let her borrow his jet to bring Markus to New York. In the absence of Nigel and his two proteges, she directs the shoot with Emily acting as her assistant, much to the woman’s surprise. It is time for her to personally teach the Brit.
She is looking at the monitors when Emily siddles up next to her and says “Miranda, parks and rec have called and apparently, we only have until midnight. They have already extended the time as it is.”
She starts and only manages not to flinch. She looks at her ex-first assistant, now junior editor. She looks at her watch, a tasteful gold Patek with a dark blue watch face, and mentally cringes when she sees the time.
“Emily, you will wrap up this shoot. I expect everything will go smoothly.” She tells her. From the corner of her eye, she sees Alicia whip out her phone and starts tapping on it.
“Yes, Miranda. I will handle everything from here.” Emily looks at her seriously, standing tall and straight, like a soldier receiving her orders. Alicia rushes past her as she turns to leave the shoot.
Roy is already waiting. Her first assistant is holding the door open with one hand and her bag and coat is hanging on the other arm. She gets her coat and wears it as she addresses her assistant.
“Go back to the office and see if there are calls. I do not trust the temp that HR has sent. She looks like she cannot even be trusted with a pen and paper much less the phones. Start looking for candidates for the second assistant position. This is the second one for the last three weeks.That is unacceptable. Is there a shortage of assistants that have the right amount of brain cells and can do whatever they are told? Is that too much to ask?”
“I expect that I won’t be disappointed by your choice again, Alicia or I will replace you, myself. Email me the messages from important calls and do not bother with the dry cleaning and the Book tonight. Leave when this crew comes back from the shoot. Has my 7 pm contacted me?”
“No Miranda.” Her assistant stutters. She grabs her bag from the outstretched hand and slides in the car.
“Tell everyone to come to the office by 10 am tomorrow. That’s all.”
With that, she slams the door close and misses the slight widening of her first assistant’s eyes. Roy pulls out of the curb into the New York late night Friday traffic.
The car pulls to a stop in front of the townhouse. She is overcome by a sinking feeling when she looks out and sees the dark front porch. None of the windows have lights on. She stops the urge to fidget and directs it into looking for her house key. She takes a breath and steels herself.
She looks at the rearview mirror, “Thank you, Roy.”
The man looks at her through the rearview mirror and his eyes crinkle “Have a great weekend, Miranda.”
She opens the door and gets out of the car. As usual, Roy waits until she gets in her house. The steel she managed to muster in the car melts as she climbs each step towards the front door.
She slides the key in and turns it, unlocking the door and lets herself in. Closing the door, she hears Roy drive away. She sheds her coat and hangs it in the coat closet.
The townhouse is as silent as a tomb.
There is a long stemmed glass on the kitchen counter. A sign.
Obviously, Andrea was here, waited, and after a few hours realized that she was, once again, stood up and left.
She sheds her shoes and heads for the stairs. She tried this time. She really did. She wants this to work. This is different. Two husbands and a couple of relationships never made her feel this way - adored and truly cherished. Loved.
She knows Andrea is different. She never realized how far she has come to depend on this woman, how much she has enjoyed her company, and how deep the need she felt to keep her around until they met again, 4 years after Paris.
She braces herself for the upcoming disappointment. She will see hurt flash behind those big brown eyes because once again, she was not prioritized despite planning it in advance. Maybe she could slip out and go back to the office, call Andrea to apologize. But hearing the false cheer is as painful as seeing that face crumple in disappointment.
Oh, god. What if Andrea resents her? Those features, usually cheerful and warm, going stony and cold in resentment.
Maybe, Andrea will finally leave her. Again.
Maybe for good.
Andrea can certainly do better.
She can have anyone, someone her age. She can have someone that will prioritize her. Andrea can have someone that can take her to clubs, take her to the trendiest restaurants, hold her hand and kiss her as they walk around Central Park in broad daylight during the weekends. She can have someone who’ll show the world what a treasure she truly is. She certainly cannot give that to her yet. She cannot even give her a Friday evening.
She walks to the end of the hallway, in a small and cosy den where she keeps a cabinet with a small scotch collection. This inevitable spiral of thoughts is better when accompanied by scotch.
She freezes at the sight that greets her in the den.
Her darling’s back was facing her, wearing a grey hoodie and hair is in a messy bun on top of her head. Andrea is almost horizontal on the sofa, legs covered with a grey colored throw.
There is an empty tub of Ben & Jerry’s mocha chocolate cookie ice cream on the floor, near one of the sofa’s legs.
Andrea is watching a video on her laptop, headphones plugged in. The lights in the room were turned off and the curtains were thick so it was impossible to see any light from the laptop from the outside of the house.
Miranda feels her body is shaking. Is it because it has been two weeks since they last saw each other? Is it from the guilty that she might face a disappointed or resenting Andrea? She didn’t know.
She must have made a noise. She must have moved and casted a shadow. Maybe Andrea just felt her with that mystical sense that seems to be so attuned to her. Whatever the reason might be, Andrea suddenly turns and meets her gaze.
Miranda feels her breath catching, caught in those brown orbs.
Without breaking their gaze, Andrea presses a key on her laptop and puts it aside. She sweeps the blanked off her legs and steps over the empty bowl, walks to her.
Miranda feels she is frozen. She needs to speak. Now.
“Andrea, I am so sorry darling. I know we made plans ahead but -”
Her explanations, that seems so paltry and stupid now as she is saying it, is cut off in a gasp when Andrea grabbed her by the shoulder and swept her in an embrace.
“You do not need to explain anything to me, Miranda. Really. I know how things in Runway work.” Andrea says, mumbles really, to the side of her neck.
For some reason, hearing that makes her heart clench. She knows deep down that Andrea did not mean it but it sounds like a roundabout retort that once again, her personal relationships take second place to Runway. To her work. She mentally shakes herself from that thought.
Andrea slightly pulls back, keeping her in a loose embrace. Andrea looks at her, brown eyes looking soft and concerned.
“You look tired, honey. Did you even eat dinner?”
She does not answer. She knows Andrea already knows her answer. Andrea makes a soft tutting sound and gathers her close again, pressing a kiss on her forehead.
“I’ll heat the food from Pastis and we’ll go to bed. You look dead on your feet. We can do everything else tomorrow.” Andrea murmurs, lips still lightly touching her forehead.
She takes a deep breath. Relishing the warmth of this embrace. The feel of these arms around her. This love and affection. This loyalty and faith. This trust. She’s home.