At Andrea’s Door
A MirAndy short story
By Gun Brooke
I dream of Andrea almost every night. I listen to her arrive to deliver the Book and my dry-cleaning, hear her rummage around so very stealthily downstairs. Little does she know that I often give in to my desire and move to the stairs, where I carefully lean over the railing to catch a glimpse of her. Perhaps just the millisecond it takes for her ponytail to sweep in a lightning fast arc when she turns to leave—but it is something. You could argue that I see her every day at work, and I do, but this is here, in my home. Andrea’s presence in my sanctuary, the home I share with my darling Bobbseys and my dog, turns into something different, something so private.
I know exactly when it started. Or, I should say, I know when I realized just how deeply she had infiltrated my thoughts, and yes, my dreams. In Paris, when my former husband number two, Stephen, decided it was a good idea to serve me with divorce papers, Andrea found me in tears in my hotel room.
Any other assistant would have been hard pressed not to stare, gloat or be completely embarrassed, but not her. Instead, Andrea had never looked lovelier or more sincere as she took a seat across from me. She was doing everything a good assistant does, being very practical and efficient, but then her mask slipped and her golden-brown eyes darkened with emotion. She looked at me as if she could feel my pain and would take it upon her narrow shoulders if it were possible. I heard myself confide my fears regarding the impact this latest divorce would have on my girls, then tried to reel myself in, but I knew our dynamic had changed. It didn’t help that I was naked under my robe; it only emphasized this horrible sense of vulnerability. For a fleeting moment, Andrea saw the woman that was once Miriam Princhek and it frightened me like nothing else ever has. I pulled back so fast I was practically backpedaling right across the backrest of the couch.
Recoiling as if her empathy were a venomous snake showing its fangs, I kept the emotional distance, mask back in place. Of course, only I would compare her honest emotions with something poisonous. That is really a perfect analogy for how I respond when faced with something pure in nature. I don’t trust it. I mean, I don’t trust it not to mean pain in the end. So I withdraw, and if I feel especially vulnerable, I attack. The only reason I didn’t eviscerate Andrea in Paris that afternoon was the evidence of how much she actually cared radiating from her eyes.
I thought we had restored the balance when she had that dalliance with Christian Thompson and when we came close to arguing in the car after the luncheon. Andrea turned out to be most human, making human mistakes. I sneered at that, of course, using disdain to increase the emotional distance. Then, to my astonishment, her disapproval, the hurt look on her face, and the way she picked up the pieces and merely persevered, threw me off kilter. The axis of my world, the very foundation of my universe, altered into something I didn’t even recognize. I struggled not to show anything but my work persona. Ever since then, I cling like a drowning woman to my masks as Dragon Lady, when reasonably benevolent, and Devil in Heels, when angered.
I think, and not for the first time, Andrea’s tender heart will be her undoing if she keeps giving it to the wrong person. On more than one occasion I see her eyes fill with tears. With increasing fury, I overhear her whispers to Emily, revealing that Andrea’s boyfriend has moved to Boston, found himself what had to be an inferior substitute, in my opinion, for a girlfriend, and is acting like a complete idiot through it all.
One evening when we all work overtime to rectify a dismal photo shoot, I hear her personal cell phone ring. She answers in a hushed tone and it only takes a few moments before her voice goes from surprised, to pleading, to frosty, and—after hanging up—to hurt when Emily asks what’s going on.
“Nate keeps talking to my mom and dad,” Andrea murmurs. “I swear they are more pleased for him, with his new girlfriend and their fantastic apartment, than they are about anything I do. If I hear “that Boston-girl could have been you” in that accusing, long-suffering voice one more time, I’m going to lose my cool.”
My stinging palms shows half-moon marks from my nails as I slowly extend my fingers. So Andrea’s parents take the chef’s side. When I pass the desks in the outer office, I gaze discreetly at Andrea where she sits, typing away, and the sight of her red-rimmed eyes and tense lips rouses the Devil in me. I want to grab her phone, press dial, and use my infamous razor tongue on the parent unfortunate enough to pick up at the end.
This sudden protective side of me, normally only encompassing my daughters, is so unexpected, I do a one-eighty and go back into my office, not bothered at all by Andrea’s and Emily’s confused looks.
At home, I make sure my girls know they are the most important people in my life. I listen to them, I do my best to prioritize their recitals and other school functions, and even get on a little better with their exasperating father. When I am unable to attend, I begin sending Andrea as my representative. The girls clearly adore her, and what’s more, they trust her. Ever since she brought them the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, they’ve taken to her and lately they ask about her all the time. Andrea, in turn, acts completely natural around my girls. As soon as she’s with them, I witness how she relaxes, laughs, and lights up our house with that broad smile of hers. She sometimes stays a while in the hallway, reminds them to hang their coats up and not merely toss them on the floor, like they sometimes do. I am not very surprised at my angels’ wish to please her, to impress her. I listen to their conversation from the den, or the kitchen, and occasionally, I join them, but not often as it tends to make Andrea flustered and fidgety. This pains me and makes me feel excluded. And here’s what I’m embarrassed to confess even to myself; I’m jealous of what she and the twins have together. My stomach clenches and I want her to direct that sassy smile at me. I want her to look that happy to see me. Naturally I know I’m out of line, and completely insane for thinking of my assistant that way.
Yes, she’s beautiful, of course she is, but it’s something else that pulls me in. It’s how she caresses the collar of my coat when she hangs it for me. She still brings me my first cup of Starbucks every morning, even if it is really New Girl’s job. I catch her looking at me, but her eyes will then grow distant and, when I say her name, she winces and does that strange little jerky movement, as if my voice is enough to make her shiver and topple over. I, of course being my usual dragon self, make a whole production of raising an eyebrow, just because I can and because I love what that does to her. Another thing I’ve made habit of doing is giving her a long, long glance over my reading glasses. For some reason, this makes her blush and then go pale, only to blush again. Goodness knows why I have this effect on her facial capillaries, but it works every time.
She dresses with more taste than most of the clackers these days. Andrea pulls off the looks effortlessly, and even I have to admit that her curves make the clothes look exponentially better. More feminine, which makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me, if menopause is setting in intermittently as I become hot all over at the mere sight of her.
Andrea is starting to worry me, though. She’s hovering around me, even after I use my trademark “that’s all” and I try to not give myself away by acting even more cold than usual. She still remains, tilting her head and bravely meeting my eyes as if trying to decipher their expression. Unsurprisingly, I’m a professional when it comes to not letting anything show but a slight annoyance. She gives up after a while and I can finally breathe even if every breath hurts.
My girls have started wondering why Andrea isn’t with us all the time. They miss her when she’s not around and I’ve caught them on several occasions trying to sneak out when she delivers the Book. Andrea has even asked me when it would be time to trust New Girl with the key, and I keep putting it off. The idea of someone else entering my home, someone who isn’t Andrea, makes me shudder. When Cassidy finally asks me when Andrea is actually going to move in, I panic.
Trying to seem casual, I merely tilt my head and regard my hopeful young daughter calmly. Caroline isn’t saying anything, but she is looking back and forth between us in rapt attention.
Cassidy forges on. “I just thought since she’s with us all the time, it’d be smarter.”
I try to seem oblivious. “Why would Andrea want to live with us?” I watch the light flicker and dim in Cassidy’s eyes, but she does not back off. My darling daughters are nothing if not stubborn.
After Cassidy’s question, I know that, despite how crazy it would seem to anyone else, I’m unable to keep my eyes off Andrea. She notices, of course she does, and her hovering rises to another level. Eventually she’s so at a loss for how to handle her erratic boss, she merely stares at me. No words, just those dark eyes, trying to solve the mystery of Miranda Priestly, as I’m trying to keep my hands to myself and not rip open Andrea Sachs’s shirt.
I decide that this can’t go on any longer. As long as these pent up emotions are allowed to escalate, the risk of a devastating explosion between us—or, in my case, self-combustion—is imminent. When Andrea delivers the Book tonight, we’ll have to talk. I have to let her know how I feel and if it backfires…at least I tried. At this point, I feel I have everything to gain, as Andrea will be leaving in a few months as her tenure is up and she’s earned her glowing recommendation.
I drive the twins to the Hamptons to spend the weekend with the Craigs and their daughter. I know this will be the best, and perhaps only, opportunity I have to talk to Andrea when she delivers the Book. The Craigs are sincerely happy to have the twins visit and even my most cynical self gives in to the joy in the girls’ eyes and Ursula Craig’s genuine friendliness. When I at first try to bow out of having dinner, thinking only of Andrea, I envision Andrea’s look of disappointment at my acting so rude, so I take a deep breath and stay. With one eye on my watch, I know I won’t make it back to the townhouse before Andrea’s come and gone. This makes it almost impossible for me to eat the delicious food the Craigs are serving, but I manage a few bites.
Finally, I escape in my BMW and race back to Manhattan, ready to get fined for speeding at any moment. I stop at the house to make sure Andrea’s been there, and there is the Book. I give it only a fleeting glance before I call a cab. Andrea’s address is in my cell phone and I give it to the cab driver and, to my astonishment, my voice is trembling.
Her building leaves a lot to be desired, but I’m still reverent like a pilgrim reaching Mecca. I look at the elevator, and the odor coming from it makes me decide to use the stairs instead. I pass several doors and actually have to use my keychain LED light to be able to read the names on some of them, as the stairwell lights flicker or don’t work at all. Eventually I’m at Andrea’s door. Her nametag looks broken. I can make out a few traces of letters under hers, but there are not enough of them to make the name out, but I assume it used to say Nate What’s-his-name.
I pinch the bridge of my nose before pressing her doorbell. Of course, not a sound. I snort nervously and knock on her door. I hear stumbling footsteps and she opens. A glass of something in her hand, Andrea simply stares at me, her eyes huge, not even blinking. She’s dressed in some faded pajamas that have never been in style, I’m sure.
“May I come in?” I ask, doing my best to sound matter of fact.
She’s shaking now. “M-Miranda?” She drops her glass and I catch it, icy water splashing everywhere.
“Dear God, Andrea, I know I’m here at a late hour, but I promise you, I come in peace.” I walk into her apartment, which is miniscule, slightly messy, but clean. Several empty spaces suggest the former boyfriend took most of the furniture with him. The ugliest couch of an indefinable color dominates the living room area. “Quaint. Not bad, considering what you had to work with,” I say and put the glass down on a table. Turning to look at Andrea, I can see she’s still in something resembling shock. I suppose it’s to be expected.
“What can I do for you? Oh, no, did something happen? The girls?” Her eyes are even wider now, panic stricken.
I explain that the girls are safe and sound frolicking in the Hamptons. My hands are fidgeting with the zipper to my leather jacket and the strap to my purse. “I had planned to be back when you delivered the Book, but the Craigs insisted on taking us all out to dinner...and I didn't want to disappoint the girls. I admit I was anxious to get back and.... and I'm babbling, aren't I?” I can hear that I am and it is so terribly embarrassing, but for some reason I don’t lash out to hide it, which I normally would do.
“Why are you here?” Andrea whispers. “I mean, what did you want to talk to me about at the townhouse?”
I stall. I have to in order to catch my breath and find my bearings. “Mind if we sit down?” I glare at the offensive couch. Andrea apologizes and gestures for me to have a seat. I lose my breath momentarily as she sits down on the couch with me. Her scent of soap and mint, so fresh, and mixing sexiness with sweetness in a surprising way, engulfs me. With mild surprise I watch as my hand comes to life, lifts and my fingers brush her thick bangs from her eyes. “Silly girl.” I swallow against the lump forming in my throat. “I was going to talk to you...ask you, really, how you see our future.”
I can see her jaw drop. Literally. In fact, it’s the most alluring thing I’ve ever seen, those full, plump lips parted and slightly damp, her white, perfect teeth barely showing. She collects herself enough to ask me to what I mean.
I’m almost ready to bolt, but I’ve come this far, into this deplorable apartment that houses the young woman before me. A woman who holds my heart even if she has no idea—yet. Taking a deep breath, I continue, “You are going to make me say it first, aren't you? We have tiptoed around each other for months. I've been so undecided and downright confused, and I've tried to...grasp what I was feeling, and guess what you might be feeling in return. The last few weeks I've been worried. About you, mainly, as you haven't been your usual exuberant self. It made me afraid that I may be losing you. Losing you before I ever...” I’m shaking now. “Before I even had you.”
Again, she’s all eyes. Dark, bottomless pools of rampaging emotions, they glimmer of unshed tears. Then she blinks and the large, crystal clear tears run down her cheeks. I wipe them away. I have to. Her complexion is flushed; she has faint dark circles under her eyes, but still her beauty steals what’s left of my breath. After willing my lungs to function, I manage to whisper, “Don’t cry, darling. Am I so very wrong when I dare to hope you might care for me?”
“No, you’re not wrong.” Andrea shakes her head, blinking repeatedly.
“I care for you as well,” I confess. “I can’t bear to see you distraught to a point where you pull back from me. It frightens me. In fact, the thought of losing you terrifies me.” It’s true. I can’t imagine my life without her in it any more than I can imagine being without my children. Her presence grounds me, elates me, and I am close to tears myself, fearing I might not be able to explain this. That she might choose to not…choose me.
“I’ve been panicking,” Andrea blurts out. “Oh, God, I’m so in love with you, Miranda…it’s killing me.”
My heart sings and I throw my arms around her neck. This close, her scent is multi-layered and complex and her shampoo smells divine. Though it’s her own, natural scent from the way her body warms the soap and the lotion, that makes me tremble. I know I must be as brave, and as truthful, as she is. “I have loved you for quite some time. I love you in a way I never thought possible, and you haunt my dreams every single night, or so it seems.”
To my surprise, this makes her chuckle nervously, a sound as charming as it is disconcerting. I choose to reciprocate in kind, to lighten the mood, if possible.
“Yes,” I say, my lips stretching into a broad smile. “Imagine that.” Then I kiss her. Oh, those lovely, full lips. I brush mine across them several times and then press harder against them. I can’t get enough. Ever.
“Stay.” Andrea speaks in a low voice against my lips.
“Let me stay,” I say at the same time, our breaths mingling.
Andrea comes to life. She pushes the fingers of her left hand into my hair. Her right hand slips under my jacket, but it is clear she’s not content with that. She pushes at my shirt and then her fingertips are against my skin, describing hot patterns. I can’t let that go unrewarded. I tug at her pajama jacket, but the buttons are unexpectedly resilient despite its tattered look.
“Come home with me tomorrow?” I know I’m begging, but - and this is unheard of - I don’t care.
“Yes.” Andrea says the little word immediately and without pretense.
“I don’t want to be without you. Ever. Ever…” I still feel I have to explain as I finally manage to tug open her pajama jacket. I kiss her repeatedly, changing angles, tipping her head and mine this way and that, devouring her. Andrea reciprocates in kind, nipping at my lips, and, oh, God, pushing my leather jacket down my arms, momentarily trapping me before it falls off and onto the floor. “I’ve waited long enough for this, Andrea,” I say throatily. “Your hands on my body, your eyes burning me, like they do now.”
“I haven’t dared to hope, Miranda.” She licks from my ear to my collarbone, her tongue hot like a liquid flame that surely must mark my skin forever. “I haven’t dared to ever allow myself to hope. If I had, and you hadn’t loved me, it would’ve broken my heart. I’m sorry for being such a coward.” Andrea’s eyes are mere slits now, and darker than I’ve ever seen them.
It hurts to know she’s been so worried, and I can imagine, so lonely. She’s certainly no coward and I have to let her know without a shadow of a doubt that she’s the bravest woman I know. I part her lips with mine and push my tongue against hers. Turning a potential battle into caresses…like a dance made of pure passion, I know she knows. She takes me by the hand and pulls me along to a bedroom behind a windowed wall. Her bed is messy, like young people’s beds often are, but the sheets smell wonderfully of detergent and her as we more or less fall onto it.
I finally take my chance to look at her. Her upper body has been naked for quite a while and now I find myself staring at the most beautiful breasts I’ve ever seen. I cup them reverently, not sure how to caress these feminine globes, but then I simply massage them in slow circular movements. Andrea arches into my hands, whimpering, so I must be doing something right.
“Your mouth…on me,” she says, groaning. “I need that hot, lethal mouth of yours on my skin…my breasts.”
This unabashed request makes my stomach tighten and I press my thighs together as moisture seeps through my lace briefs. I don’t have to be persuaded. Cupping her breasts again, I push them together some and lick around the areolas and then suck a pebbled nipple into my mouth.
“Ah!” Andrea seems beside herself. Again, her fingers are in my hair, her blunt nails raking against my scalp. I shiver and I’m so hot now, it’s hurting me.
“Undress me.” I sit up, half leaning against my left elbow.
“I’m not sure I can. I might rip—” She motions toward my shirt.
“So rip it.” I don’t care. “I’m burning up.”
She actually does it. Just as I ripped her Walmart pajama top, she simply grabs my shirt at the hem and pulls it apart. The buttons rain all over the bedroom and I know this shirt will never go home with me. Nostalgic and in love, she’ll keep the shirt, sew the buttons in, at least a few of them, and wear it at night while missing me.
Now she pushes me onto my back and goes to work on the belt to my grey pants. Soon it’s open, as is the button and zipper, and she pushes my pants from my hips down my legs. Then I’m naked, not counting my briefs, which is highly unfair, so I shove my hand into her pajama bottoms, dragging them down her hips. She kicks them off and she’s not wearing any underwear. She parts her legs, eager for me and any remaining doubts or fears I may have harbored leave my subconscious and I wrap my arms around her again. Her body against mine nearly makes her howl. The sudden happiness turns into full-blown arousal and I hold on tight.
“Miranda. You—you have to—let me. Please, allow me.” And her mouth. Those full, innocent lips paint yet another hot trail as she parts my legs and pushed them over her shoulders. This means she has full access to me.
“Ah. Such pretty panties.” She tugs them off. “They have to go. Can’t have anything between us. I want you so much.”
I cry out as she lunges forward and presses her lips against my drenched folds. I’ve been getting increasingly wet ever since I started driving home from the Hamptons. I can’t remember ever being this turned on, or so ready to give someone total control. It’s because it’s her, Andrea, the one I trust implicitly.
She does things to me with her tongue that I can safely say nobody else ever even came close to. My toes curl and I grab the blanket I’m on with both fists and pull, but it’s no use. I’m being hurled toward the orgasm of a lifetime and there is nothing I can do about it. Nerve endings are firing intermittently, I’m seeing strange patterns when I try to close my eyes, and even my scalp tingles.
Andrea enters me slowly with her fingers, maybe three, which she curls up as she massages a place inside me that makes me cry out sharply. Twirling her tongue around my clitoris, she presses against it, flicks at it, and when I start to whimper, she latches on and sucks it into her mouth. I come right then and there. Feeling so safe with her, so worshipped and cared for, I shamelessly spread my legs and drag her up along my body, not happy until we’re practically fused.
She’s looking down at me, her smile happy, but she is also trembling with arousal. I only have one thing in my head now: to make her mine. I roll us over and push my hand in between her slick thighs.
“So wet. So mine.” I chuckle against her neck. “Part your legs, Andrea.”
I’m turned on at how eagerly she complies, how she sobs and smiles at the same time. “Miranda. Oh, God, Miranda.”
I can’t explain how, but I know then and there, that she’s always going to belong with me. No matter what happens, or what others might think, this woman is the one. I enter her, oh so gently, and it’s as if it’s all she’s been waiting for. Our being joined like this is what sets her off.
Andrea is beautiful. When she comes and cries my name, she’s unimaginably stunning. Flushed, mouth open, back arched; she’s a goddess.
Before the cool air in the room chills us too much, we curl up under her covers, nuzzling, snuggling, and doing all that touchy-feely stuff that always used to drive me insane with impatience. Now I can’t get enough of the slow, loving caresses and it warms me that Andrea turns out to be a true cuddler at heart.
“I love you, Miranda.” Andrea kisses my left temple softly.
“I love you.” I bury my nose in her hair, inhaling her special scent. Outside, it’s very quiet and I know in an hour or so, New York will become its noisy, bustling self again. I honestly couldn’t care less, as tomorrow is a very special day.
Tomorrow, Andrea will come home with me.