She noticed it when she met him the first time. Well, everyone did.
The man continued, despite the tension even Andy could see in Miranda’s bare shoulders, the vast expanse of her milky skin almost iron wrought. Andy stopped leaving, her heart beating so hard she could hear it in her ears. “When do we eat?” The voice was familiar and the face was crass. Or maybe that was just Andy’s subconscious already hating this man for not letting her go home. Not that she could do anything if she stayed. She just had a feeling her night wouldn’t end here.
A furtive glance exchanged between Miranda and Irv, and Andy tried not to nudge Emily and ask her what the fuck they were supposed to do in a situation like this.
“Darling, there you are.” So that’s why the voice was familiar. Stephen. The infamous husband.
Andy tried not to wince at the way Miranda sounded almost… Placating. Miranda never placated. She tried even harder not to cringe at the way Miranda immediately went to him, her hand placed familiarly on his chest. He leaned closer to her, saying something that Andy didn’t hear, and Andy tried very, very hard to ignore her first instinct to gag. Especially because Miranda tilted her face upward as he spoke, her eyes flickering downward as he spoke, almost soft with something that looked too much like pleading. Especially as Miranda leaned into him as though about to kiss him, pressed too close to him. So close Andy imagined that he could feel her body clad in that exquisite black gown, showing off her shoulders and cleavage and… Andy held back another wave of nausea.
No, Andy was very sure she shouldn’t want to throw up at the idea of her boss kissing her husband, but that didn’t matter, did it, because this Stephen kept talking, and now he was raising his voice, directing his comments at Irv, and Andy could see Irv tense up as well.
She stepped in, pulled at Irv’s arm. “Excuse me, Mr. Ravitz?” Her voice was sickeningly sweet, which made sense. She was the assistant, the second assistant at that, and her job was to be there and be sweet. “Oh, I have just been dying to ask you if it’s true,” she was so glad she remembered the research she had done when she was hired, especially the bits about the magazine and the important management at Elias Clarke.
She didn’t really hear anything the weaselly man said about the question she had asked him. In fact, she barely remembered what she had asked him, but she saw Miranda in the corner of her eye, once again leaning in so close to Stephen that she nearly turned away towards Irv, of all people, when Miranda’s eyes met hers.
A shock went through her at the electric blue gaze that was usually so hard, so full of disdain meeting hers. But there was something that looked suspiciously like gratitude this time, and Andy praised her own ability to maintain composure when she saw Miranda, carefully and ever so elegantly, mouth the words, ‘Thank you,’ over her husband’s shoulder.
She smiled, and tried to focus on what Irv was saying, ignoring the marathon her heart seemed to be running.
The second time nobody noticed, for which she was glad, except that had only meant that she wanted to slice off his head even more than before.
“Miranda Priestly’s office.”
The voice on the other end chuckled low. “I have to go through her assistants now, huh?” The voice was definitely not happy.
Andy gritted her teeth. She didn’t even need clarification. She knew who this was. In fact, she thought about his voice enough that she was pretty sure she could very much tell exactly who he was even in a crowd of a thousand people. “Hello, Mr. Priestly, how can I help you?” Sickeningly sweet. Her go to those days. Emily looked up across from her in alarm, but Andy barely saw her.
He made a low growl, and Andy was tempted to just hang up on him. “Mr. Tomlinson.”
Andy sneered. So what, he couldn’t see her face. “Oh, of course. I’m sorry about that, Mr. Tomlinson. How can I help you?” Sweet. Kind. Braindead. Helpful. That’s what she was. That’s what she would be. But God help her, if she has to ask him one more time…
“Tell Miranda that if she wants things to work out,” he sounded much happier now that he wasn’t ‘Mr. Priestly’ anymore. “She’ll answer her damn phone.”
“I’m afraid Miranda is in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave a message?” Sweet. Helpful. Brainless. Infuriating, she hoped. Nope. She had no right to hope that.
“No, I don’t want to leave a damned message,” he sounded angry. Good. “I want to talk to her now. Or you go tell her now.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sir.”
He scoffed, and Andy held the phone away from her ear for a moment. It was almost as though she could feel his breath against her ear. Disgusting. “What is your name?”
Like that would scare her. “Andrea Sachs, sir.” She added, on a whim, “Call me Andy.” Sweet. Sweet. Sweet as a toothache. She hoped he would get a toothache.
“Well, Andy,” her name sounded twisted in his mouth. She much preferred Miranda’s soft and deadly version of ‘Andrea’ to this. “I’ll have her know how completely unhelpful you’ve been. In the meantime, you tell her the minute she’s out of whatever meeting about clothes she’s in to call me. Or else.”
He hung up on that vaguely threatening note, which was all well and good, because Andy was about to wrench the phone receiver out of its socket and pretend to have a power shortage. She placed the phone back down on the receiver, feeling Emily’s eyes on her, but for once, really not wanting to speak to the redhead. The office was silent for a few moments, only the sound of Andy’s typing disrupting it.
Emily finally couldn’t sit still. “Well, what did he want?” Emily initiating a conversation? She must really want to know, and Andy, for once, really didn’t want to talk about it.
But why? She was Miranda’s assistant, for God’s sake. She had no reason to talk to Stephen like that. In fact, she realized with a chill down her back, she had no right at all to tell him that Miranda wanted him to leave a message. She had no right to listen to any of what he had just implied. She felt the blood leave her face and her heart started to pound out the sounds of her last days in Miranda’s employment.
God, what if Miranda did fire her, because he said he would tell her? What if Miranda did actually fire her, after doing all that shit for the Harry Potter books and the impossible tasks, and Andy’s personal life going down the drain? Miranda could. She probably would, since now Andy has not only intruded on her life by giving her the Book during an argument with Stephen but also insulted him.
She ran the conversation back in her head over and over as she gently put her head down in her hands. No, she hadn’t said anything terrible or outlandish. She was sure of it. She hadn’t said anything that could potentially get her fired.
Oh, like Miranda cared. She could fire Andy because Andy forgot a comma in typing a text to Roy if she wanted to.
“Well?” Emily sounded impatient.
Andy sat up in her chair, keeping her head in her hands, though she was careful not to smudge her makeup. “Leave it, Emily. Just leave it.” If Miranda fired her because she didn’t let Stephen interrupt her at work, then let Miranda fire her. She didn’t do anything wrong, and Stephen was a jerk and Miranda deserved better. If she couldn’t see that, then let her fire Andy. She was done giving a shit.
It suddenly hit her what she had just thought.
Miranda deserved better.
She stood up. “Bathroom,” she managed to choke out to a still stunned Emily, and ran for her life, the thud of her heart drowning out any of Emily’s protests.
Miranda called her into the office the next day. “Andrea?”
Andy steeled herself and walked in, her head held high. She had come to terms with whatever protective feelings she may have towards the woman who was not only twice her age but had more than twenty times her power and influence. Nothing, in theory, fazed her anymore. Her heart still beat painfully at the graceful figure in front of her. “Yes, Miranda?” Sweet and soft. Helpful. The assistant.
“Stephen told me he called yesterday.” Miranda’s voice was nearly a murmur, her eyes still trained on the layout in front of her. Emily was out buying coffee, because Miranda insisted on having Andy do the accounting details for the Paris fashion week trip for some reason. So the office, with the lights dimmed outside because it was 10PM, was empty except for the Dragon and her dutiful sidekick.
“What did he say?”
Andy swallowed, her palms starting to sweat and her heart starting to flutter. She decided, after running through multiple scenarios, that honesty was the best policy. “He wanted to ask you to reply to his private calls.”
“Oh?” Miranda’s voice was still soft, but it had a deadly edge to it now. Andy could only pray it wasn’t directed at her.
“I took his message down.”
“He informed me that you were quite…” her voice trailed off as she marked something with her red pen. “Unhelpful.”
Andy straightened her shoulders. “I’m sorry, Miranda.”
“Don’t waste my time with insincere apologies.”
She was quite sure, at this point, that Miranda was going to fire her, and somehow her body entered the calm before the storm. She felt numb. Nothing could hurt her in this state. “You’re right. I’m not sorry. I did my job and told him you were in a meeting that I couldn’t disturb. You are my employer.” She didn’t say ‘not him,’ but Miranda had to have understood.
Miranda finally looked up, her blue eyes meeting Andy’s with a deep look. She seemed to assess Andy, her eyes never faltering, and all Andy could do was stand there and let her take what she wanted to.
Then she nodded. “That’s all.”
She didn’t mean to hear it this time, as she didn’t mean to hear it the other times. She supposed, of course, that it could just be her luck, the universe messing with her. But she delivered the Book as usual, quietly placing the mock-up on the table, before walking back out to retrieve the dry cleaning. She hadn’t heard anything when she left, but when she entered again, lugging four bags of clothing, there was no missing the near shouting match that was happening right in front of her and, to her dismay, the closet in the foyer.
“Really, Miranda, really? Another missed function?”
“This issue is right before Paris, Stephen. You know how important this is.”
“And you know how important this New Year’s function is for me!” Stephen was nearly roaring in Miranda’s face, his face blotchy and red. “Every year, Miranda, every fucking year.”
Miranda’s voice, remarkably, remained calm. “Stephen, the girls are…”
“Asleep! Because that’s the only time you can–” Suddenly, he noticed her. “Oh, great, another reminder of just how far your mistress reaches.”
Miranda whipped around, and Andy cowered, thinking about the last time she had been in this situation. Miranda’s eyes this time, however, merely flashed, a far cry from the nearly monstrous fury she had looked at Andy with last time. “Andrea.”
Miranda’s eyes made her heart immediately leap to her throat, and she had to clear her throat. “Sorry, Miranda, I’ll just–”
“Oh, so this is Andy, huh?” Stephen was advancing past Miranda, sneering at her. “Well, Andrea,” he said her name as though it were a slur, “it seems you’re always around during our private conversations, aren't you?” Even though his words were directed at Andy, there was no mistaking who he was talking to. “I suppose it’s a good thing you live in fairyland.”
Andy would never know what Miranda would have said next, because she felt a rush of hot anger and saw red. She smiled sweetly at the man who was so pathetic she could not, for the life of her, understand why Miranda had married him, and said, “Mr. Priestly, it must hurt to have so little confidence that you make demeaning your wife’s success a hobby.”
He looked like his eyes bugged out, but Andy barely noticed him when Miranda’s voice growled behind him. “Andrea.”
And she knew she overstepped, but she really wanted to say more. One look at Miranda’s bone-pale face, however, and she knew that another word would get her as good as fired. So instead, she nodded, moved past Stephen to put the clothing in the closet, and turned without another word to either, her heart banging in her chest.
The next day, Miranda acted completely normal. And Andy got the message: they will both pretend that Andy hadn’t overstepped and Miranda hadn’t let her overstep.
“Is there anything else I can do?”
“Yes. Your job.”
She didn’t know why she was standing in front of the townhouse. She just knew that she had to see her again. One last time. Because she knew it was immature to leave her in Paris, the busiest and most important week of her year. Because she knew it was immature to expect Miranda to do anything except protect her job, even if that meant throwing Nigel under the bus. After all, she knew better than anyone else at the office how much Miranda had given up to be where she was.
But she still had to see her. Because Miranda doesn’t forgive, yet Miranda still gave her a reference letter that simultaneously gave her an open door at any publication she wanted and told Andy that she never wanted to see her again.
Miranda, who had looked as flawless and perfect as usual when Andy saw her and waved to her.
She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but waking up to Miranda’s soft and deadly dulcet tone was fine with her.
“Why are you loitering on my steps?”
She smiled blearily. It wasn’t the right response at all, but she smiled anyway. “I wanted to see you. Talk to you.”
Miranda’s eyes were still confused, but the crease between her brows lessened just a little. Without another word, she unlocked her door and walked inside, leaving the door open. Andy didn’t bother overanalyzing, because she was hazy with sleep, but not so hazy that she didn’t notice the absence of a wedding ring on Miranda’s finger. She walked in.
Miranda ignored her completely, setting her coat and bag in the second closet in the foyer. Andy didn’t bother, because she didn’t think she would be here long enough to take off her coat. Miranda agreeing to see her was already more than she had expected. Then Miranda led her into the kitchen. Andy sat down in one of the blue stools. Miranda stood on the other side, and raised a brow.
Andy took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart. “I wanted to apologize. I know now how immature and naive I was when I left you in Paris.” Miranda still didn’t say anything, instead turning around and moving to the fridge, pulling out a plate of turkey sandwiches. Andy sat still, unsure of what was happening, and watched as Miranda put the sandwiches in the microwave.
They waited in silence, Miranda pulling out utensils and plates while Andy sat dumbly, unsure what was happening, until the microwave dinged. Miranda retrieved the sandwiches, two glasses, and poured both of them a glass of Perrier. Then, she silently pushed the sandwich plate towards Andy, picking up one herself.
Andy was bewildered, but she picked up a sandwich, wondering for a moment if the innocent looking turkey was poisoned. “I- I’m sorry, Miranda, but… What is happening?”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “It is six, Andrea. I assume you haven’t had dinner, since you were busy playing the homeless vagrant on my steps.”
“I-” She hadn’t. She hadn’t even thought about that, actually. But her stomach chose this time to remind her of its existence, and so, blushing so hard she was sure she looked like a tomato, she took a bite of the sandwich. “Thank you.”
Miranda didn’t deign that with an answer.
Andy kissed her again, slow and languid, before pulling back. She was exhausted, and that was mostly Miranda’s fault. “So, are we a thing now?”
She couldn’t see Miranda’s face because the iconic silver coif was currently resting comfortably on her bare chest, but she could feel the eye-roll. “No, Andrea, we are not a ‘thing.’ We are two human beings who have decided to embark on a relationship.”
“OK. Whatever you say.” She was too giddy to try and be anything but giddy. “You know you’re going to give me a heart attack, right?”
“Your heart does seem to beat extraordinarily fast.”
She giggled, not hearing anything Miranda was saying. “Does that mean I can call you ‘sweetheart’ and ‘baby’ now?”
At that, Miranda tried to pull away, except Andy had an iron grip. “Don’t you dare, Andrea.”
She giggled again, and pulled Miranda back up for a kiss. She murmured into her lips, “OK, baby.”
Miranda growled into their kiss, and in response, Andy bit Miranda’s soft lower lip, sliding her hand down until Miranda was quite too distracted to think about the ‘baby’ Andy had let slip.
When Miranda arched her back, waves of pleasure running through her like a tsunami, Andy pulled back just enough to feast her eyes on the sight of Miranda, her Miranda. And because Miranda flipped her immediately afterwards, Andy was reminded that, once again, this was her Miranda.
Miranda’s hand slipped between her thighs, and her mouth nibbled her earlobe. Andy gasped and strained, and right as she was on the edge, Miranda whispered, in a voice so deep and sultry that Andy knew she wouldn’t last, “I suppose ‘baby’ might be acceptable some times.”
And Andy came, pulling Miranda closer to her until there was barely enough room for air between their bodies.