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For Charity

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No one walks away from me. Yes, they certainly leave, but never willingly. The employees flee because I deem them unfit and incapable. Assistants are commanded to vacate. Stephen left just as the husband before him left; I pushed those marriages away because I chose my office over their bed sheets. People leave because I send them away with the icy sting of “that’s all.” Andrea Sachs was no exception.

A piercing sensation below my rib cage awoke me before I could dreamily ask her to come back.

Still unable to determine why someone hasn’t possessed the intelligence to create a bedside friendly coffee machine, I removed the Book from beneath my body, relieving my side of the protruding edge. Runway’s mock-up served as my bedfellow after editing deep into the night. Especially after perusing its contents the previous evening, the idea of discarding it in the trash seemed a significant improvement.

A small pressure curled against my shoulder, and hair brushed my cheek, stirring an odd sense of calm despite impeding my space. A whine sounded in my ear, upset with my commotion.

“Good morning,” I said tiredly, dark brown eyes turning sleepily to greet mine. A kiss quickly finds its way to my check.

“Patricia, we really should more carefully establish which side of the bed is in fact yours.”

A panted breathing answered back.

“If you refuse to cooperate, your banishment from my bedroom can be arranged,” I drawled with the arching of an eyebrow before another sloppy kiss greets my skin. A small smile managed to cross my tired features, and I gently stroked the white-haired animal.

“Now, now, you know I have to work. Perhaps you should do something more intellectually stimulating this afternoon than the typical lounging on the floor.”

I realized the absurdity of talking to one’s dog, but I supposed the emptiness of my household was beginning to take its toll. The girls had spent the past month of their winter vacation with their Bostonian father in an attempt to befriend his newest fiancée (I cannot recall if this was his third or fourth). Even the Ice Queen missed her little princesses.

The sound of coffee brewing seemed to excite Patricia as much as it did myself, but hers was most likely from the expectation of food that follows my first cup every morning. Such was our routine.

Andrea was there in the morning as frequently as my nightly dreams when I perused the morning paper. I subscribed to The New York Mirror roughly four months ago, and her budding success was something I had taken great care in supervising. I enjoyed telling myself it was simply to monitor her work for any articles hat might taint my reputation. However, lying to one’s self was a talent I had perfected long ago.

‘The Philanthropist Philosophy” by Andrea Sachs was a section of the paper that ran twice a week, highlighting the good deeds of celebrities and otherwise well-to-do New York residents. How the young woman attained such high profile interviews in the first place seemed questionable, but I suppose being my assistant had left her various contacts. The truly curious aspect was the fact Andrea did not just applaud the charitable acts of individuals, but she also publically humiliated others, an act that left me quite proud. Good insults take talent and it was that aspect that was most likely giving her such popularity. Just last week she had miraculously acquired an interview with an upcoming musician discussing her work with the LGBT community while simultaneously slamming a Brooklyn lawyer for laundering money through his various charities. The young woman who aspired to noteworthy journalism teeming with political and social importance was nothing better than a celebrity gossip. The Devil inside of me snarled with pleasure. The woman Andrea left behind felt enraged.

“What if I don’t want to live the way you live?”

The dreams had persisted for months now, and I kept my interest very much to myself. After all, what could I possibly want with that ridiculous Andrea Sachs? However, after reading the New York Mirror every morning, after a night of restless slumber, after a day filled with incompetent assistants, my resolve began to fracture like glass. Morning yoga helped. Meditation was an attempt to keep my boiling anger in check. However, it was the only time I, Miranda Priestly, could say it. I could admit it only in the center of this absolute nothingness. In the calm quiet of my conscious, with only my mind’s eye as the witness, I could willingly whisper it.

“I miss Andrea.”

With this admission, I could continue in pleasant, icy coldness for the remainder of the day.

 


 

“You were obviously only born with four senses; you lack taste.”

“Um, I, yes, Miranda.”

Is it really such an unrealistic goal to have staff that isn’t completely incompetent?

“Perhaps we could instead have the Almay shoot on the beach. The tropical hues will look-“

“Or perhaps you can just shoot the cover in Human Resources while you’re looking for your replacement.” Honestly. The beach for a summer line of makeup? My eleven-year-old daughters possess more originality in their manicured pinkies.

Silence punctuated the room and I tried not to smile at how delightful it was to see my staff shivering with awkward fright.

“We could do a futuristic, sci-fi twist,” piped the young man Nigel personally selected as his replacement. “The color pallet contains a lot of neon pigments. We could incorporate the leather line from DYNY, kill two birds with one stone.” I nodded. Once. He sat up a tad straighter, “It would flow nicely with the article on environmentally friendly synthetic materials.”

Hm. “Acceptable,” and a collective sigh filled the room. “Don’t disappoint me.”

At the close of the meeting, as the group herded out, I slowly licked my lips. The hunt wasn’t quite over.

“Samantha. Philippe,” I practically hummed, calmly removing my glasses and setting them on the table.

The two practically quivered before me. Ah, power. My work philosophy always revolved around pushing my staff to the brink of their abilities in order to surpass expectations…but that certainly didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the process. I dropped the Book on the conference table with a firm “plop.”

“You most likely do not often peruse the dictionary given its limited amounts of pictures and copious big words, but I highly suggest you look up the meaning of “horrendous” before you dare place a proposal as atrocious as this before me ever again. Redo it. That’s all.”

 They left with their tails between their legs. I sighed into the quiet of the conference room. Where was the thrill of the chase anymore? The sound of a book manuscript plopping on a desk still seemed so fresh. The smug smirk of a confident, beautiful woman answering an impossible Harry Potter challenge still lingered in the office.

I miss Andrea.

Days crawled, and the dreams grew worse. Even Patricia no longer enjoyed sharing my bed with my rather fidgeting sleeping habits. So much for the notion of man’s best friend.

After a sleepless night, I had taken to coming to the office early and glancing at the New York Mirror before Emily’s arrival, if not for the peace and quiet, then just for the look on my assistant’s face when she believed she was late. One must enjoy the small things in life.

Jonah DeRouches. The hottest new designer with a passion for starting cancer research foundations. I personally found cancer cliché and unoriginal for a charitable cause, but I suppose lacking a soul, according to Page Six, made me somewhat biased. Either way, Andrea sang his praises before destroying the poor individuals on her naughty list. My mouth practically watered and a small smirk tugged at my lips. I would be aroused by insults with the rich vocabulary of a journalist. Her ferocity was not easy to forget.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Darling, you have no idea.

Admittedly, some aspects of Andrea’s character seemed at least somewhat logical to miss. She had proven her capabilities and I had yet to find an assistant with her level of organization and intelligence. These were perfectly acceptable traits to yearn for in the office.

However, late nights at the office tugged at memories of the cheery brunette bearing gifts of coffee and smiles. Elevators and car rides were empty without the aroma of Andrea’s perfume to gently tease me. My gaze no longer met the safety of chocolate irises during disastrous shoots and meetings. The skin and bones of models lacked the body that could delightfully fill a couture piece. Yes, I missed Andrea for all her wit and humor, but I wasn’t so old not to miss those curves. I certainly wasn’t old and barren enough to resist desiring those delicious curves late at night. And that was the reason I pushed her away, wasn’t it? And yet I still ended up disappointed. I had dared to hope she wouldn’t be pushed away. She was disgusted by what I was.

You want this life, those choices are necessary.

But what if this isn’t what I want?

The echo in my mind made my blood boil. I didn’t realize the crumbling noise was the destruction of the paper article in my hand until it was falling to the floor.

She hadn’t left this life. Why?

Maybe this was her revenge. She would painstakingly point out every person in a position of power and what good doing they produced with it. Then she would rub my face in the socialite scum where I belonged. And yet she hadn’t done the one thing that would truly embarrass me.

Andrea mostly likely had multiple opportunities to put into words the monstrosity of my character. After all, who wouldn’t want to know the dirty secrets of the Dragon whose lair she had escaped unscathed? Why was she still dealing in a life she claimed to want nothing to do with?

I mean, what if I don’t want to live the way you live?

I made it so incredibly easy for her to walk away completely, including the reference to the New York Mirror. And yet here she was.

She can’t leave this life. My life.

The revelation brought a devilish smile that slowly curled onto my countenance. Oh, Andrea, you’re making this far too easy.

“Emily, pick up the piece of paper I just placed on the floor.”

 


 

 

“Now how on earth would such a new, young reporter gain access to New York’s most trending designer?”

Nigel’s eyes casually peered over his glasses to inspect the paper recently tossed on his desk. The brief flicker of his eyebrows was the only indicator I needed to confirm his role, but the seemingly innocent response came as, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. How long have you been reading the New York Mirror?”

“How long have you been chatting with her?”

“I don’t-“

“It seems highly improbable, even given her recent success, that a journalist with a public record of only four months could possibly attain an interview with Jonah DeRouches without a contact,” I said, glancing around the elegantly decorated office.

“Quite odd.” I instantly met his gaze with an icy stare.

“Jonah, half-brother to Edward Sanchez, the well-known photographer for another Elis Clark publication.”

“How peculiar.”

“Edward, your paramour.”

Nigel sighed before picking up the article and perusing the writing before him. A small smirk suddenly appeared on his lips. “And why do you care, exactly? I don’t work for you anymore.”

I felt my lips puckering in displeasure as I crossed my arms. “I don’t approve of such a close acquaintance being a possible informant to the media.”

“Oh my God. You totally like her. You want her.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Right. Ridiculous would be eight assistants in four months. Unfathomable,” said Nigel, voice dripping with sarcasm. Perhaps promoting him to the Editor in chief position of the new Men’s Runway could be reversed. “Just admit it. You want to sex Six.”

A glare. “You like her,” he softly amended.

Our eyes stood in a deadlock. He was certainly trustworthy, and his recent recognition as my technical, occupational equal ensured his honesty as a mutual friend. However, to speak it, to utter the words…

“There is the possibility she might still need something in this life,” I replied slowly, gesturing to the office around us, “If she’s still writing about it. And perhaps there is something here that might need her as well.”

His smile was genuine. “You’re both so stubborn. What are you going to do about it?”

“Well, I was considering a transformation to-,” I began before pausing. A snicker quickly followed, “Nigel, did you just state both of us?”

The momentary look of dread at having revealed Andrea’s hand was absolutely delightful. Really, darling, I expected more of a challenge.

“As I was saying, a change to more philanthropist oriented mindset could be a start, especially if you just confirmed her interest”

“The people she writes about are supposed to be nice,” he said with smirk. My returning glare was almost playful.

“I will simply demonstrate my dedication to charity surpasses that of the pretentious pansies Andrea has already interviewed in a manner that sends her a clear return signal of…interest.”

“’Interest?’ Is that what they’re calling it these days?” Nigel removed his glasses and carefully polished them with a tasteful silk handkerchief that matched the accents of his suit. Hm, acceptable.

“Miranda,” he said, “giving your assistants leftover samples does not count as donating to a cause.” I snorted in answer. Touché.

“I could consider embracing my humility a touch more.”

“You? Humble?”

He at least had the decency to look at the ground and succumb to my

responding glare.

“Who am I to stand in your way?” he says, holding up his hands in mock defense, “After all, every dollar counts for charity.”

Every dollar. Oh, yes.

“I really don’t like that smile.”

“Why ever not, Nigel?”

“Last time you smiled at me like that, we had to redo the entire November issue.”
“Then be very joyful in the knowledge you no longer work for me,” I mused,

turning on my heels with a new found fervor. I needed to acquire my checkbook.

“Sometimes I feel like I still do,” came the reply.