The young woman before her should be unremarkable by Miranda’s standards. Average height, long chestnut hair, beautiful dark amber eyes, and full lips that easily stretches into a captivating smile, albeit adding up to a pretty creature, the sum of her parts is nothing Miranda hasn’t seen a million times before. Yet—she has to grudgingly admit that the fidgety young woman holds…something. Despite her ordinariness, emphasized by jeans, a gray t-shirt, and a black leather jacket, this girl possesses a quality that permeates the armor Miranda, out of necessity, has constructed around herself a long time ago. How peculiar. And how inconvenient.
“Andrea Sachs. What makes you think you are fit to do this job?” Miranda asks, easing up on the corner of her large oak desk. She lets her boot clad foot dangle slightly, noticing how Andrea’s eyes follows the motion for a few moments before returning her focus on Miranda.
“I’ve attended art school and have a degree in chemistry. I would consider an internship with your fine are conservation company a fantastic opportunity.” Andrea shifts from one foot to the other and the girl seemed to have a tendency to pull at her fingers when nervous.
“Of course, it is. It doesn’t explain why it would benefit Amaranthine Inc.?” Pursing her lips, Miranda took pity on Andrea and motioned at the antique leather visitor’s chair. Returning to her own office chair, an impressive piece that was even older, made from skillfully carved oak. Studying Andrea, Miranda folds her hands on the desk.
“I’ve dreamed of working for you ever since I discovered art restoration when I was fifteen. My first passion was drawing, then painting, and I lived for going to art museums when ever possible. The old masters mesmerize me, and I will find a way to work on preserving their art, no matter what, but doing it here would be perfect.” Andrea stops talking and blushes. “Sorry. I get very excited very fast, when it comes to this.”
“Well, being interested in the job is considered the baseline when seeking employment, don’t you think? What sets you above the other applicants, some, if not all, with more experience than you?” Miranda tilts her head and deliberately raises her perfectly groomed eyebrows, knowing full well what impact she can have on people.
Continued in part 2
“Interested? I burn for this. I live and breath art and conservation. They may have more experience, but as they’ve trained more in other places, they might have picked up more bad habits from your point of view. Are you their first choice like you are for me?” Andrea sits at the edge of the chair, gesturing emphatically.
Miranda can’t help but be impressed. The girl is nervous, yes, but she’s fearless and she’s not above fighting a bit dirty. Suggesting her competition might have learned methods that Miranda was going to have to make them unlearn is a valid point, but pretty audacious to bring up when you’re just—Miranda glances at Andrea’s application form—twenty-four.
Thinking back on the other eight that Miranda has interviewed over the last two weeks, a task so tedious and unimpressive, she is ready to push needled in her eyes just thinking about it, she can’t remember any of them catching her attention like Andrea.
“All right,” Miranda says slowly, leaning forward. “Three months paid internship. My assistant deal with the details and show you around. You start tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? I’m…You’re hiring me?” Andrea stands up, her entire body exuding energy as if she’s ready to burst.
“Don’t make me regret it. I’m not a patient woman and I hate repeating myself.”
“Whoops. Sorry. Okay. Tomorrow. What time?” Andrea smiles broadly and Miranda thinks she may even have tears in her eyes.
“Pay attention. My assistant will deal with that.” Rolling her eyes, Miranda stands up slowly. “That’s all.”
For a horrifying moment, Andrea looks like she’s about to start crying or, God forbid, hug Miranda, but then she merely nods, whispers a barely audible ‘thank you’ and is out the door.
Sitting back down, Miranda shakes her head, trying to judge if she just made a mistake or perhaps the best decision in a long time. There was nothing wrong with Andrea’s education and work samples that she had sent ahead digitally, but only time would tell if she had what it took to work at Amaranthine Inc. Looking around her office, taking in the brick walls, the oak shelving and beautiful antiques that she lovingly has collected for many years, it is as if Miranda sees it all with new eyes. Meticulously maintained, they have provided a backdrop for her, added to her reputation for being the best at what she does. Now, Miranda thinks of how Andrea looked when she entered the office, the exuberance on her features as she looked at one antique after another. Until she focused on Miranda. After that, Andrea hadn’t looked at anything else.
“I’m Emily Charlton and I oversee everything to do with administration for Miranda,” the thin redhead behind a less impressive desk than Miranda’s—though definitely antique—says in a posh British accent. She is about Andy’s age and wears her hair in an austere twist. Dressing in a charcoal skirt suit over a white blouse. Andy’s thoughts stray to the impression she just got of Miranda. White, short hair, blue laser-focus eyes, a long, aristocratic nose, and a soft-looking pink mouth that seems ready to spout scathing remarks. Where Emily dresses as a smart, young professional, Miranda wears all black, chinos, shirt, boots.
A recluse of sorts when it came to social media, Miranda Priestly barely has any digital footprints online. Amaranthine Inc. is represented on a classy, understated website, where visitors can read about the long list of art pieces that the company under Miranda’s reign has saved for posterity.
“This way, then.” Emily motions for Andy to follow her through the foyer and through a massive wooden door. Behind it, a corridor leads to locker rooms, a break room, and, and this is where Andy loses her breath. The reaction is similar as when Miranda challenged her reason for applying for the internship. Now Andy stares at the large hall where five people, three women and two men of varying ages, are working on canvases. Her eyes fall upon two empty tables, sitting by the far end of the room. The one to the left looks unused. The one to the right is empty, but bottles, brushes, and other tools are clearly in use.
“The left one will be your workstation, but I recommend that you don’t touch a thing before one of your supervisors tell you it’s okay.” Emily motions for Andy to walk with her to a sparsely built, bald man. “Andrea. This is Nigel Kipling. He is in charge when Miranda’s not here. Nigel. This is Andrea Sachs, our new intern.” The way Emily speaks, she makes sure it’s obvious how doubtful she is about this fact.
“Welcome, Andrea,” Nigel says and holds up his gloved hands, looking regretful. “We’ll shake some other time.”
“Please, everyone calls me Andy.” Andy peered at Nigel’s workstation where he had smeared a dissolvent on part of the painting that were so dark and yellow, it was hard to even see the motif. Squinting, Andy could make out enough details. “A portrait. And in pretty bad shape.”
“Yes, this has been maltreated over the years. Varnished with conflicting media, which makes removing it difficult. I may end up making it worse. Well, if it gets too hairy, I’ll ask Miranda.” Nigel smiled warmly. “I look forward to working together, Andy.”
“Thanks. Likewise.” Andy thought she saw Emily grimacing, but decided that she was going to be learning from Nigel and the others and what Emily thought of her didn’t matter.
After receiving an access card, Andy said goodbye to Emily and exited the building. Standing on the sidewalk, she looked back at the brownstone. Four stories high, it originated from the seventeenth century, or so it said on the web site. Amaranthine Inc occupied the two first floors, but the web site didn’t specify what the top floors were used for. The building was well maintained, and it was as if Andy could feel the vast history it represented. For Miranda to own such prime real estate on the upper East Side, her company was thriving.
Turning the collar up against the January wind, Andy began walking toward the closest subway station. She wanted to make sure she had everything prepared, even if she had spent weeks getting ready for this interview, and she was also itching to sit down with her sketch book and do some basic drawings. The tiny studio apartment she rented did not allow for her big easel, which she’d stored at her parents’ house in Cincinnati. Here she would have to settle for a table easel and her sketch books for now.
Before she turned the corner at the end of the block, Andy turned and watched the brownstone again. As it was getting dark, she thought the light from the first floors sparkled and moved in the wavy glass of the windowpanes. Lifting her gaze, she noticed that there were lights on at the top floors as well, but more muted. Did perhaps Miranda live up there? Not that it was any of Andy’s business, but the woman was captivating. And so damn beautiful, she should come with a warning label.
Snorting at herself, to change the course her thoughts had taken, Andy lengthened her stride as she saw the subway station up ahead. She had one last shift at the hole-in-the-wall deli to finish and a paycheck to collect. Tomorrow her new life would begin.