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Andy Sachs's toothy grin spreads across her face as she slouches back in her chair and exhales, "Freedom!"

 

Emily Charlton primly sits in her chair, rolls up to her desk, and raises her eyebrow at Andy. "I have no idea what you're so excited about. It's not like you'll have much of a vacation."

 

"What? A couple of video conferences and an email or two? Sounds like a reprieve to me."

 

Emily snorts. "A couple of," her laughter increases, "video conferences? You wish!"

 

Andy frowns and scrunches her nose. "Okay. I'll bite. What's the big deal?"

 

"I take it Miranda didn't explain the process to you?"

 

Andy cocks her head and stares. "Oh yes, in great depth. She also answered all of my questions with the utmost patience and detail."

 

Emily narrows her eyes. "No need to be catty, Andrea, seeing as I'm the only one who can help you."

 

Andy sighs and leans forward on her desk, resting her head against her palm. "Okay, shoot. I'm all ears."

 

"When Miranda is required to go on business trips or even holidays, it might as well be as though you're tagging along with her. She demands her assistants be readily available at all hours. Are you prepared for that?"

 

"Sure. I mean, I'm pretty much on call at all hours for her anyway."

 

Emily snorts again and rolls her eyes as she feeds a paper into the fax machine. "Prepare yourself, Andrea. Miranda is far more unpredictable when she's not in the office to watch everything that's happening."

 

"Unpredictable. Got it. What else?"

 

"You don't get it, do you? On one occasion, Miranda was on location in Australia. That fourteen hour time difference means a great deal when she's prepared to video chat with you at eight o'clock pm her time."

 

"So…oh," Andy says, frowning as the math works itself out in her head. "Does she have set times that she'll expect me to be sitting around my computer?"

 

Emily appears scandalized. "You do realize you're working for Miranda Priestly, correct? You will leave your webcam on at all hours and she will alert you when she is available."

 

Andy stares. "So she could watch me sleep?"

 

"As if she would!"

 

"That's kind of creepy."

 

"The only thing that's creepy is your imagination. Do be serious, Andrea."

 

Andy pouts indignantly. "I am being serious." She sighs. "Nate's gonna love this."

 

"And do make sure he doesn't pop up on video. Miranda loathes distractions. If she sees some scruffy boy nosing around, she'll be furious."

 

"He's not--hey, I can't help it if I have a live-in boyfriend."

 

"You could have Johnny bloody Depp and Miranda would be furious!"

 

"Okay, okay. I get it."

 

Emily chuckles knowingly to herself and answers the phone.

 

Andy believes that her job is about to get much more interesting.

 

---

 

Heeding Emily's advice, Andy moves her laptop to the farthest corner of her living room. She sets the little orb on top of the screen, adjusting it so that she's centered. No sign of Miranda yet.

 

Andy sets an alert to sound when Miranda is at her computer and, pleased with her preparations, slouches on the couch. She hears Nate shuffling around in the bedroom. He's in a mood. It's the type of mood that she'd usually rectify with sex, or at least a blowjob, but she can't be bothered tonight.

 

Not when she's on call for Miranda. She imagines Miranda catching her on her knees in front of him and nearly dies at the thought.

 

She knows that part of his pouty disposition has to do with his being sequestered in the bedroom. She has prohibited him from watching television and though she's insisted that it's only for a few days, he's grumpy about missing Top Chef.

 

The sound of a bell pulls her from her thoughts and she watches, mouth slightly agape, as a bathrobe-clad Miranda sits in front of her computer. She's not quite sure about what she actually expected. Why wouldn't Miranda have made herself comfortable?

 

"How's your trip going?" Andy asks as she sits in her chair, setting her notepad in front of her. She almost winces as the words leave her mouth. Small talk, Andy? Really?

 

"Insufferable." Miranda sneers. "The Milan branch is completely incompetent. How they manage to sell such high quantities of the magazine is beyond me."

 

Andy giggles. "Well, maybe it says something about the people who read Runway Italia?"

 

"It speaks volumes." Miranda rolls her eyes and settles back into her chair as if she is getting comfortable for a lengthy chat.

 

Andy smiles. This conversing is oddly… friendly. Which is odd, considering they’ve never made small talk before. Andy opens her mouth to ask Miranda a question and hears a sound behind her.

 

Nate is standing behind her. "Hey, you seen my iPod?" He scratches his dark fluffy hair, which is usually endearing but is infuriating at this particular moment. Andy suddenly wants to smack him in the forehead with a spatula.

 

She glares at him and hisses, "No!" She lifts her eyebrows and subtly nudges her head in the direction of the bedroom. She looks back at Miranda and makes an apologetic face.

 

"Oh do tell me if I'm interrupting something far more important," Miranda drawls, her eyes scathing.

 

"No, no, it's not important at all."

 

Behind her, Andy hears Nate draw a frustrated breath before shuffling back into the bedroom without another word. She'll have to deal with that tomorrow. Right now, she has to deal with Miranda as she sits ramrod straight, her shoulders squared and her expression blank. Fuck. So much for bonding with Miranda.

 

"First, I need you to tell Nigel…"

 

Andy sighs and settles in for a long night of note-taking.

 

---

 

Once Miranda returns from Italy, things fall back into the same fast-paced, exhausting routine.

 

Andy watches Miranda closely, half-hoping that she'll notice something different, some sort of acknowledgement of the conversations they've had. She feels silly for hoping. To Miranda, this is business. To Andy, it's something much more…confusing. The whole webcam thing feels vaguely intimate. It requires a deeper act of seeing, of listening.

 

She snorts to herself. Intimacy with Miranda. Yea, right.

 

She looks around, hoping no one at the run through has noticed her staring, and resumes her note-taking.

 

---

 

Miranda is in Los Angeles. This three hour time difference thing could really work for Andy. It's going on 11 and she's just noticed movement on Miranda's screen. She wonders absently what Miranda is wearing.

 

Nate slams the refrigerator door. Andy looks over at him as he swigs from the milk carton. She scrunches her nose.

 

"Baby…that's gross. Use a glass."

 

"Oh, I wasn't under the impression that you'd even notice."

 

"What is that supposed to mean?"

 

"You're off in your own little world again. You have no idea what's going on in my life anymore."

 

"Of course I do."

 

"Yea? What happened to me at work today?"

 

Andy hates when he tests her like this, even if he has a point. She doesn't remember a word he said after she got back from the office. She scrambles to come up with a response and during her pause he rolls his eyes.

 

"Yea. That's what I thought." He leaves the carton of milk on the counter and goes into the bedroom.

 

Andy sighs, exasperated and impatient. She glances at the screen. Miranda has not yet appeared so she quickly puts the milk away and follows him into the bedroom. He's pulling a pair of beat up jeans over his legs. "Where are you going?" 

 

"Out."

 

Andy purses her lips. "Out where?"

 

"Somewhere I'm actually gonna get a little attention for once."

 

"That's real mature, Nate."

 

"Yea, well, what do you expect? Something big happens to me at work and all you care about is taking orders from the bitch who pays your measly paycheck."

 

"Nate, come on."

 

"I'm sick of it, Andy," he says, staring at her. His eyes are hard, cold. "You've changed. We've changed."

 

She hates to admit that he's right, so she doesn't. "What happened at work?"

 

"Now you wanna know?"

 

"I care about what goes on in your life, Nate," Andy replies through clenched teeth. This conversation is getting old. It seems as though they have it every few days now.

 

He glares at her as he grabs his jacket. He walks past her, twisting his body so he won't brush against her when he passes.

 

"Baby, don't be like this. I've been busy at work. I'm sorry for that but I can't do anything about it."

 

He shakes his head. "You could do a lot of things if you wanted to, but you don't."

 

She crosses her arms and waits. By this time he usually apologizes or goes to bed and they pretend the next morning that nothing has happened. This is…different. His hand is on the doorknob.

 

"My boss recommended me to a chef he knows. I've got an interview this weekend."

 

This stuns Andy. She had no idea he was even looking for another job. "That's great," she forces. "Where?"

 

"Boston."

 

"Oh. Wow. That's uh…that's far." She clears her throat. "So you're leaving?"

 

"It's just an interview."

 

"What about us?"

 

"I could ask you the same thing."

 

He frowns and walks out the door. Andy stares at the peeling paint and feels her stomach churning unpleasantly. Nate's leaving. Maybe. If he gets the job. She knows he will. He's a talented chef and if his own boss is trying to help him advance his career, he must have a shot.

 

She bites her lip and turns around, glancing at the computer screen.

 

Miranda is sitting at her desk, watching.

 

Fanfuckingtastic. This is exactly what Andy needs. She wipes at a stray tear and sits in her chair. "Sorry."

 

"It's all right," Miranda says softly.

 

Andy sniffles and stares at the ceiling, blinking back tears. "Okay. So. Notes. Right. Whenever you're ready, Miranda."

 

"Andrea."

 

Andy can't look at the screen. She can't bear for Miranda to see her about to cry.

 

"Look at me."

 

Andy glances at Miranda. Her face is soft.

 

"Are you all right?"

 

"Not really."

 

"I could have him killed. Or roughed up a bit."

 

Andy laughs and wipes her nose on her sleeve. "Thank you, Miranda. That means a lot. I'll, uh, let you know if I want to take you up on that."

 

"Please do." Miranda purses her lip, appearing contemplative, and then says, "I have only a few notes for you tonight. You should rest."

 

Compassion. From Miranda Priestly. Andy's heart swells with something warm and unrecognizable and she reaches for a pen.

 

---

 

A week later, Nate's gone. He got the job, as Andy suspected, and has already left. He's staying with a friend from school - a blonde hippie named Harmony. Andy is numb to this fact.

 

She can't think too much about it. If she does, she'll feel like less of a woman. She'll feel like a failure.

 

She doesn't sulk, per se, but she wanders around in a sort of a daze. Nothing seems to phase her.

 

Nothing but Miranda.

 

In order to distract herself from the break up, Andy throws herself into her work. She needs to succeed in some way. She comes in early and is twice as quick with everything she does.

 

Miranda seems to notice. She doesn't praise her exactly, although Andy has managed to earn a few head nods and one 'thank you.' It brightens Andy immensely to know that she doesn't completely suck and that Miranda, of all people, acknowledges this.

 

But something is different. Things have changed. Andy can tell -- it's in Miranda's eyes.

 

When Andy allows herself to stare, she notices something reminiscent of sympathy. Her looks are almost -- knowing. It's like she's been in Andy's shoes, like she's lived through this. They share more than just a place of business. They are connected.

 

This comforts Andy more than anything.

 

---

 

Andy's set the computer back up in their -- no, her -- bedroom. There's no longer a need to hide away as if her work is some sort of dirty, illicit secret. She prefers the computer in here. It makes her bedroom seem less empty.

 

She lies on her bed, her head dangling off the end of the mattress. The blood rushes to her face.

 

Miranda is in Boston, cultivating a relationship with Nirva Derbekyan, who she finds to have a promising talent. Andy wonders what it would be like to be sought after by someone like Miranda. This woman's career will skyrocket and it’s all because Miranda liked one dress that she designed.

 

It's been a month since Nate left. Andy is doing a lot better than she thought she would. She expected to be a mess -- everyone did, actually. Her mother keeps expecting that she'll throw herself off the fire escape. Lily expects her to relocate to Boston any day now.

 

Andy accepts that it's over and, for the most part, she's okay with it.

 

She stares at the screen. No sign of La Priestly. She laughs to herself. If they were friends, she'd probably be tempted to have Miranda spy on him. She remembers Miranda's offer to put a hit on him and that makes her smile for the first time in days. It occurs to her that Miranda could easily use her contacts to have a bad review written of Nate's restaurant. Andy grins wickedly. She feels powerful.

 

She notices movement on the computer and jumps to get out of bed. She topples off clumsily, bumping her head on the floor. She groans and rubs her head as she pulls herself into her chair at the moment Miranda sits down.

 

She opens her mouth to speak and gapes instead.

 

Miranda has obviously just taken a shower. Her hair is wet and slicked back, save for one tendril from her forelock that has curled over her brow. It's endearingly youthful and Andy's heart clenches for some odd, inexplicable reason. She's wearing a silk robe that is clinging to all of her damp curves like a second skin; it's a deep blue -- the same color blue that is flecked around her irises.

 

"Is there a problem?"

 

"Uh. No. Nope. No problems." Andy's face is burning.

 

Miranda gives a look that proves that she is entirely aware of the effect she is having on her young assistant. It's downright devious.

 

It's turning Andy on like crazy.

 

She can feel her pulse pound faster beneath her flesh and wonders where this reaction is coming from. This isn't like her. She doesn't have crazy sexual feelings for her much older, female boss. No way. Not Andy Sachs.

 

Miranda licks her finger and flips through a stack of papers. She tilts her head to the side, her neck elongated and exposing miles of soft, ivory flesh.

 

Andy licks her lips and shifts in her chair.

 

"Well?"

 

"Huh?"

 

"I asked if there were messages."

 

"Oh. Right. Um. Ms. Sozzani is unable to make the luncheon on the 24th and is throwing a dinner the following week and was hoping you'd attend."

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "I suppose I can spare fifteen minutes for her little soiree."

 

Andy scribbles that into her notes amazed that even Miranda Priestly would snub the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia.

 

"That insufferable bore is always unable to make our events. Don't act so surprised."

 

Miranda offering an explanation? Has hell frozen over?

 

"Despite the ill feelings between us, it's better to keep tabs on the competition."

 

"Right."

 

"One day you'll pay attention to these things, Andrea." Miranda sighs impatiently. "What else?"

 

"Uh, well, Elie Saab confirmed the 27th for an interview so--"

 

"Good."

 

"And your flight for Tokyo has been booked for next month. I forwarded the itinerary to you."

 

Miranda nods and slips her glasses onto her face. She purses her lips and presses a finger to them as she looks down towards her desk. "Very good. And you?"

 

"I'm sorry?"

 

Miranda peers over her glasses. "Are you handling your situation well?"

 

Andy stiffens. "Uh…well, yea. I mean, you know…it's been a month or so and I guess it's, you know, getting better with time."

 

"I'm pleased to hear that. He's obviously not worth your time."

 

"You think so?"

 

"He left, did he not?"

"Well, yea…"

 

Miranda looks at her as though it should be obvious to her. "You're much better off alone."

 

"It gets lonely though."

 

After a moment, Miranda replies, "Yes. Yes it does." A distant knock sounds from Miranda's room and Miranda says, "Excuse me," before heading for her door.

 

Andy's tummy does a somersault as she realizes that Miranda's robe only reaches mid-thigh. Her legs, which are pretty amazing in stockings or pants or knee-length skirts, are even more incredible now that they're bare. Her breath becomes labored and she watches as Miranda opens her door to accept a bottle of wine from a young man. Even from this distance, through the pixilated lens of the webcam, Andy can tell that the hotel waiter is checking out her boss.

 

It pisses her off.

 

He follows her in, opens the bottle, and motions to pour her a glass. Her dismissal is quiet but Andy can tell by his squared shoulders that she's just insulted him in some way. Andy beams.

 

Miranda sits back down with a glass of deep red wine. She takes a sip and sighs, eyes closed. She appears to be in a state of bliss.

 

Andy hits the "print screen" button on her keyboard.

 

"Ah," Miranda emits with a satisfied smile. "Cabernet is wonderful after an endless day in this god forsaken town."

 

"Not a fan of Boston?"

 

"Not particularly. Didn't your friend move here?"

 

"How did--um--yes. He did."

 

"I'm well acquainted with Devra First."

 

Andy raises an eyebrow. "She's not the head of the Boston mafia, is she?"

 

Miranda snorts. "Restaurant critic of The Boston Globe."

 

Andy gawks. "You…you don't have to do that."

 

"I'm well aware of what I do and do not have to do."

 

"Why are you so interested in getting back at my ex-boyfriend?"

 

Miranda appears thoughtful. "I don't care for the way he spoke to you."

 

"He wasn't always like that--"

 

"That means nothing. I didn't see the time during which he treated you well. I saw when he treated you like you were a beggar on the street."

 

"It's not like I haven't encountered my share of being talked down to," Andy replies quietly.

 

This statement, stupid as it was for Andy to allow it to pass her lips, seems to impact Miranda more than she anticipated. "How one is treated in the office and how one is treated in her personal life are different. Or should be, at any rate."

 

"I guess so. And anyway, it doesn't matter. It's done and over with. There's no use crying about it anymore or exacting revenge on him. It just wasn't meant to be and that's fine."

 

Miranda tilts her head and takes another long sip of wine, rolling her tongue around in her mouth. "I imagine you'd be quite lovely in tears."

 

Andy loses her breath. "I've cried in front of you before." She does not point out that Miranda was the one to draw the tears in the first place.

 

"I never thought to pay attention until now."

 

Andy feels like melting out of her chair.

 

"Now, shall we get to work?"

 

---

 

Something weird is going on now and Andy isn't quite sure what to do about it.

 

On the day of Miranda's return, the older woman absolutely refused to meet Andy's eye. She barely spoke to her and instead delegated most of her errands through Emily, who preened over the attention.

 

On the second day, and every day following, Miranda began to act…oddly.

 

Now that Andy has suddenly become obsessively aware of the fact that Miranda is an incredibly attractive woman, Miranda seems to have tuned into Andy's brain waves.

 

Perhaps it's her imagination that Miranda is wearing more low cut blouses than usual, or skirts with slightly higher slits.

 

And then there's the touching.

 

It's not like Miranda is copping a feel or anything. Not that Andy would mind, but it's not like that.

 

Miranda has taken to brushing against her in passing, or allowing their hands to touch when Andy hands her something.

 

It's weirding her out.

 

More importantly, it's making it increasingly more difficult for Andy to make it through a day without needing to disappear into the bathroom to relieve the tension building between her legs. 

 

Andy finds herself desperate for the Tokyo trip to arrive.

 

She needs Miranda to stop touching her.

 

She needs Miranda to touch her and that's why she needs Miranda to get the hell out of New York and give Andy a break to cool off.

 

---

 

Andy stares again at the empty suite displayed on Miranda's cam. She sighs, glancing at the clock. It's two in the morning.

 

She shifts, pulling at her bra's underwire frame as it digs into her side. She glances again at her planner; Miranda is in Japan and it’s 3 in the afternoon. According to her itinerary, Miranda has a two hour break between now and her dinner meeting with Yumi Katsura. She had hoped Miranda would make her appearance promptly so Andy could manage a few hours of sleep, but tonight it is not looking likely.

 

Andy purses her lips and looks once more at the still image of Miranda's hotel room. "Screw it," she mutters as she stands.

 

Pulling today's borrowed Armani shift over her head, Andy pads towards the closet, easing the soft silk fabric onto its hanger. She readjusts the elastic of her panties, settling it over the curves of her ass. She lifts a leg, rolls one nylon thigh-high down her calf, and repeats the process with the other until she balls the two and tosses them at the basket of dirty clothes.

 

Her thick mane of dark hair feels hot on her neck and she heads once more for her desk to retrieve a hair tie. As she pulls the loose strands into a high ponytail, the sound of a throat clearing makes her blood turn to ice.

 

Andy glances at the computer, sees Miranda's curious face cocked to the side, and notices the adjoining box that displays her own image. The only image on display is Andy's bra-encased breasts.

 

Burning with embarrassment, Andy crouches down, disappearing beneath the desk. She presses her hand to her forehead, blinking back hot tears of mortification.

 

"Andrea."

 

Andy shudders. Only Miranda's voice could sound like it were immediately behind you and not filtered through sound equipment over thousands of miles away. Andy pokes her head up, her large brown eyes blinking and staring at the large orb of her webcam lens. "Y-yes?" She looks at her own webcam box, noting that nothing but her eyes and the top of her head can be seen. She breathes a sigh of relief. Now if she could only just reach her robe…

 

"Is that La Perla?"

 

Andy's eyes widen. Oh God. Miranda's gotten more than a brief glance at her lingerie. "Um…." Andy clears her voice. "Yes?"

 

"Let me see. I'm not familiar with the pattern."

 

Andy furrows her brow. Miranda wants to--what? "Um?"

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "Stop being a child and stand up."

 

Miranda unfamiliar with anything in the fashion world? Andy shudders. Is this really Miranda or some look-alike pod person? She itches to ask but somehow feels she'll be turned to stone, thousands of miles between them or not. On shaking legs Andy stands, her skin flushed with embarrassment. She looks not at her own image but at Miranda's, taking in the sight of her boss's eyes sweeping over the curves of her chest.

 

She burns. How long now has she hoped Miranda would look at her this way?

 

This feels less like scrutiny and much more like…something else. Something exciting.

 

"Very nice cut."

 

"Thank you?"

 

"Is that from The Closet or your own collection?"

 

"It's mine," Andy responds, her shoulders squaring defiantly. "I don't think the models in Runway could fill my cup size."

 

Miranda chuckles. "This is true. You are more well-endowed than most of the women featured in the magazine. Turn to the side."

 

Andy shivers and does as she's told.

 

"Perhaps I should do something about that."

 

Andy freezes. That sounds way more enticing than it was probably intended. Do something about what? The ache in her panties? She realizes that she is still standing nearly naked in front of her boss and slouches back. "Oh?"

 

"Flat-chested women are hardly the mainstream demographic that the magazine targets."

 

"Neither are stick-thin women."

 

"Well, let's not get carried away." Miranda smirks. "Sit. I've got an endless list of notes for you."

 

"Can I change?"

 

"Oh." Miranda seems almost disappointed. "Be quick."

 

Andy decides not to push her luck and reaches for the terry-cloth robe that's draped at the end of the bed. She shrugs it on and sits down, pen already in hand.

 

"Terry-cloth, Andrea?"

 

"What's wrong with that? It's comfy."

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "You look as though you belong in a nursing home."

 

Andy smiles. "But I bet the geriatric folks aren't wearing two hundred dollar underwear under their robes."

 

"Mmm…true. I'll have to focus on the lingerie then and pretend that eyesore doesn't exist."

 

Andy flushes with pleasure as she considers Miranda's train of thought. She allows her baser fantasies to imagine that Miranda simply enjoys the sight of her, silly as it may be.

 

Miranda Priestly doesn't flirt with, or fantasize about, her female assistants.

 

A girl can dream, can't she?

 

"Now about the accessories on page fourteen…"

 

---

 

Andy has barely been home from work for fifteen minutes before there's a knock at the door. She contemplates not opening it. It isn't often that she's able to sneak away from the office before six o'clock and she'd prefer to enjoy the peace and quiet before being summoned by Miranda at another ridiculous hour.

 

Another harried tap at the door pulls Andy from the couch and she hustles to reach it. She looks through the peep-hole and sees Molly Flynn, Miranda's personal shopper. She tugs the door open.

 

"Oh crap…was there something I was supposed to get from you?" Andy asks, looking the blonde woman over.

 

Molly shrugs. "Miranda called me personally." She thrusts a box into Andy's arms.

 

"Does she want me to have this forwarded to Japan or something?"

 

"Beats me. She didn't mention anything about it, just asked me to get it and bring it to you once you'd left the office."

 

Andy stares at the box, puzzled.

 

Molly chuckles. "My sentiments exactly. Gotta run. Enjoy."

 

"Bye…" Andy's voice trails off as she continues to stare at the blank box. It becomes clear that the cardboard isn't about to announce its contents anytime soon so Andy goes back into her apartment, sets the box on the table, and lifts the cover.

 

Inside, folded neatly, is a gray cashmere bathrobe.

 

Andy gasps and pulls it out of the box, feeling the fabric melt around her fingers.

 

She laughs. Who knew Miranda had a sense of humor?

 

But…who knew Miranda bestowed gifts upon her employees out of nowhere?

 

---

 

Miranda stops by her computer during her lunch break between meetings and sits down. Andy, who is playing a game of solitaire, minimizes the game and smiles pleasantly.

 

"Aah, so I see Molly did receive my message. At least she's prompt."

 

Andy fingers the cashmere at her wrist. "You could have had me get in touch with her. You didn't mention it in your notes from last night."

 

"That defeats the purpose."

 

Andy blushes. "Thank you, Miranda."

 

Miranda nods as if it's no big deal. "Have you disposed of that terry-cloth garment?"

 

"Not yet…"

 

"Burn it. Or…give it to the homeless."

 

Andy laughs and shakes her head. "As you wish."

 

"At least now you'll have something decent to cover yourself with the next time you decide to frolic around half-naked."

 

Andy's face burns brighter and she clenches tight between her legs. "It's not like I did it on purpose."

 

Miranda purses her lips and raises an eyebrow.

 

"You snuck up on me and you know it!"

 

"I do not sneak up on people."

 

Andy scoffs. "C'mon, Miranda. You take advantage of every opportunity where you can make people jump out of their skin!"

 

Miranda smirks. She doesn't attempt to deny it. "As opposed to their clothes?"

 

Andy giggles. "Mmhmm."

 

"Are you suggesting I was attempting to catch you in your undergarments?"

 

Perhaps Andy is uncovering dormant suicidal tendencies. She says, "Yep."

 

Rather than be scolded or scoffed at, Andy notices the faintest of blushes on Miranda's cheeks.

 

"I have a lunch meeting."

 

"I know."

 

"Good day, Andrea. Or…good night." With that, Miranda abruptly leaves.

 

That night, before Andy falls asleep, she gets off at the thought of Miranda's subtle voyeurism.

 

---

 

This whole webcam thing is starting to freak Andy out. Not because she doesn't like it -- multiple orgasms would suggest that she does -- but because it gets weird when Miranda isn't hundreds of miles away.

 

Upon her arrival back in the office the day after returning from Japan, Miranda tossed Andy her coat, blushed, and hasn't looked at her since.

 

"You've certainly done something to get under her skin, haven't you?" Emily asks, pleased.

 

Andy wants to smack that smug look off of Emily's face with a three-hole punch, even as the comment makes her blush furiously.

 

The rest of the day passes with Miranda's complete and total ignorance of Andy's presence and it's starting to piss her off. She sent her a bathrobe. Who sends bathrobes to their assistants and then pretends they don't exist?

 

Miranda Priestly does.

 

Andy bets no other bosses do that sort of thing.

 

She gets a thrill at the notion.

 

Paying only slight attention to her surroundings, Andy walks into Miranda's office carrying a twenty-three page contract for some hoity-toity model's August cover. She looks up at Miranda and watches in awe as Miranda absently traces her bottom lip with her finger while concentrating on her computer. Andy is drawn completely in, watching those lips, imagining how they might feel--

 

A flutter of sound pulls Andy out of her reverie long enough to realize that she has dropped the papers. As they scatter around her feet, she mumbles, "Shoot."

 

She crouches and scrambles to recollect them as quickly as she can, knowing it will annoy and thrill Miranda to see Andy screwing something up. She shuffles them into order and as she reaches for the last few pages, she sees Miranda's Blahniks walk around her desk and stop in front of her.

 

Andy's eyes travel up her defined calves, the patch of skin just above her knees where her skirt kisses her flesh, past round hips and crossed arms. She forces her eyes quickly over the peek of cleavage and to Miranda's face. To Andy's surprise, her eyes aren't stern or hard. They're…thoughtful.

 

She's looking at Andy as if she has seen her naked. As if she wants to see her naked on a frequently recurring basis.

 

"Don't forget that I'm going to the Hamptons this weekend with the girls."

 

Andy is in charge of her schedule. Why would she…?

 

And then it dawns on her. "…Oh."

 

Miranda flushes. "I'm glad I don't have to spell these things out for you."

 

---

 

Andy's not really sure what she's expected to do tonight. It's a Friday. Miranda left the office an hour early, picked the girls up from Dalton, and headed for her home in the Southampton. Everyone in the office was in a state of celebration. Everyone, that is, except Andy.

 

How could Andy possibly relax and enjoy the freedom when Miranda was wearing an extremely well fitted black suit with a sharp cerulean blouse beneath it?

 

It's been on Andy's mind all day.

 

Even now, as she sits in her quiet apartment, she can't get the image out of her head. The shade of blue makes Miranda's eyes shine with an intensity that makes Andy feel as though an octopus is moving around in her abdomen.

 

She squirms on the couch, cursing the day she took the job as Miranda Priestly's assistant. Months before this, she'd have been spending her Friday nights with Nate, or Lily and Doug, not sitting around waiting for her boss.

 

Her boss, who happens to be on a three-day vacation.

 

Andy can't be bothered to be upset about the fact that she was expected to work on a Friday night. However, the nagging suspicion that work is not entirely on Miranda's mind is enough to distract her from accomplishing anything worthwhile.

 

She has half a mind to take a cold shower, especially since her obnoxiously damp panties shift against her, but she opts instead for the pint of Ben & Jerry's hidden behind the frozen carrots. Perhaps the brain freeze will do her good.

 

Not taking the shower, she realizes soon after opening the ice cream, was a good idea. Miranda's just come online.

 

Andy sits cross-legged in her chair and watches as Miranda leans back in her own chair, slowly unbuttoning her black vest. Her blazer has been discarded some time throughout the evening. Andy nearly chokes as Miranda then unbuttons the first few buttons of her blouse and leans back with a relaxed groan.

 

Coherent thought is lost to Andy in that moment. She takes in the exposed skin and shifts in her chair, brushing against her heel. She squeaks and pulls her legs out from under her so she won't do something inappropriate while on display for Miranda.

 

The idea causes her nipples to tighten. 

 

"Aah, there you are," Miranda says, as if she's been forced to wait for ages.

 

Andy swallows a lump of ice cream with a shiver and says, "Here I am." Miranda shrugs off the vest, her breasts straining against her blouse. Andy suppresses a groan. "How're the Hamptons?"

 

"Same as always. The girls are delighted to be here though," Miranda adds with a shrug. "How were things after I left?"

 

"No problems. Evelyn finished the copy you asked for and left it on your desk."

 

Miranda purses her lips indignantly. "The copy that I requested at noon?"

 

"That would be the one."

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "Shocking. What else?"

 

"Just a call from Testino's rep, which Nigel handled."

 

"At least someone does their job while I'm away."

 

Andy shrugs awkwardly and takes a bite of ice cream.

 

"What are you eating?"

 

Andy swirls her tongue around the spoon. "Mmm…Ben & Jerry's. Half Baked."

 

Miranda raises an eyebrow.

 

"Brownie and cookie dough in chocolate and vanilla ice cream."

 

"Sounds fattening."

 

"It is."

 

"Are you sure you should be eating that?"

 

Andy takes another large bite and sucks a bit of cookie dough. "Yup."

 

"It'll go right to your ass."

 

"My ass is perfectly fine thankyouverymuch."

 

Andy watches as Miranda swallows and sits back in her chair. "Is it?"

 

"Mmhmm."

 

"Perhaps you are being too kind to yourself."

 

"Oh yea?" Andy takes another bite, licking at the hollow dip of the spoon. Her thighs tremble.

 

"I could provide a second opinion." Her face is unchanged, stern. She might as well be offering to critique a belt.

 

"You wanna see my ass, don't you?"

 

Miranda looks away and clears her throat. "I meant only to ensure that you are not gaining unnecessary weight for the sake of your sweet tooth."

 

"So you say," Andy teases, setting down the pint and the spoon. She stares into the camera, blinking her eyes several more times than necessary. "But I think you just want to see what's below the camera lens."

 

"And if I do?"

 

"All you have to do is ask."

 

Miranda blinks but says nothing.

 

She doesn't need to.

 

The question in her eyes is evident.

 

Andy stands, pushing back her computer chair with her leg. It rolls back several feet and Andy uses the newly allotted space to stand back, giving Miranda a full view of her torso and legs. She stares at Miranda's window, watching as the older woman slides her glasses on her face and props her chin on her hand. Her eyes are intense, focused.

 

Andy pulls at the drawstring of her linen pants, her chest pounding harder. She is about to drop trou for Miranda Priestly. And, rather than run in the opposite direction, she is a willing participant.

 

Holding her breath, she grips the top of her pants.

 

"Well?"

 

Woops. The glacial pace is a no-no. Miranda's impatience sends a shiver down her spine. She spins on her heel, allowing her pants to drop to her ankles.

 

Miranda is silent.

 

Andy looks over her shoulder. "So what's your professional opinion?

 

"Professionally…I see nothing to worry about."

 

Andy beams. She is glad she wore her black cotton boyshorts with the lace trim rather than her days of the week panties or something equally mortifying.

 

"So you don't think I need to change my eating habits?"

 

"Not at all. However, I do think we need to change the layout on page sixty-seven."

 

Andy frowns but reaches for her chair, sitting cross-legged and pulling herself up to the desk. "Page-- Miranda, it's Friday. Do you even have The Book?"

 

"Scans. Please, Andrea. Work does not cease because one takes a weekend away. The layout needs to be changed. It's too cluttered. The Balenciaga segment is overshadowed."

 

Andy sighs and scribbles down the notes. She pauses, looking up at the screen when Miranda is silent. "Miranda?"

 

"You seem to have forgotten your pants."

 

"Oh. No I didn't."

 

Miranda blinks and, after a pause, clears her throat.

 

"Just being efficient," Andy replies, suppressing a smirk. She takes another quick bite of her ice cream, savoring the chocolate on her tongue. "But let me put this away before it melts."

 

Before Miranda can protest, Andy jumps up and runs into the kitchen, thrusting the ice cream into the freezer. She licks her spoon, throws it into the sink, and rushes back to the computer. Her heart is pounding three times faster than usual and she sits, the ache between her legs painfully apparent. "Okay. Totally ready. Page sixty-seven."

 

Miranda appears flustered. She shifts and, toying with the white gold chain around her neck, clears her throat again. "Yes. I'm not satisfied with this."

 

Andy waits for more direction and sighs when Miranda once again pauses. She looks up at the screen and watches as Miranda looks anywhere but at the webcam. "What would satisfy you, Miranda?"

 

"Enough of that," Miranda snaps.

 

Andy holds her breath and, as humiliation burns against her cheeks, she shrinks a little in her chair. Talk about a complete 180. This is not entirely new for Miranda, this change of behavior, but Andy's never experienced anything like this before and she sort of wishes that the floor would open up and swallow her whole.

 

"I want this the focal point of the page."

 

"Um. Right. Focal point. Got it." Andy silently hopes that Miranda will decide that the conversation is finished for the night. Miranda says nothing as she whips off her glasses and pinches the bridge of her nose. Against her better judgment, Andy opens her mouth. "Uh, Miranda? Are you all right? You seem….distracted. Or angry. Or something."

 

"You're not wearing pants."

 

Andy blushes furiously. "I--"

 

"And you're in a tank top."

 

Andy looks down at her top. "Pajamas," she croaks. "Part of my pajamas."

 

"Then don't ask me why I'm distracted," Miranda hisses. Her face is red.

 

"Miranda." Andy sets her pen down. "What's going on here?"

 

"I don't know." And, with that, Miranda reaches for her cam and seconds later her screen is black.

 

Andy gapes, open mouthed, and slumps back in her chair.

 

---

 

Sleep doesn't come easily to Andy tonight. She tosses and turns and has cloudy, discombobulated dreams of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland trying to cut off her head with an eyelash curler. She narrowly escapes certain death by falling into an oubliette, where Miranda is trapped in her sexy blue shirt and tells Andy that they can pass eternity with orgasms.

 

The dream is ridiculous, completely insane, but Andy wakes up in the middle of the night in a sweat. She kicks off the covers and gives a frustrated sigh. She's still in that hazy realm of being not asleep but not quite awake.

 

She needs to sleep. She needs to be oblivious to this whole Miranda thing for a few blissful, dreamless hours.

 

Ugh. Miranda.

 

Andy rolls over into her pillow and groans.

 

She doesn't want to think about Miranda now, not in the middle of the night when she's liable to be cranky and irrational and confused. Her defenses are nonexistent in the middle of the night. And this whole business with Miranda and her blushing cheeks and her sexy shirts is making Andy neurotic and sex-crazed and ugh.

 

So much for not thinking about Miranda.

 

With another sigh, Andy settles onto her back and closes her eyes, resolutely giving in to the thoughts that have been monopolizing her mind. Without preamble, her hand steals beneath her linen pants and cotton panties, past soaking wet curls, and she sighs as her fingers dip into wet folds.

 

She should charge Miranda fucking Priestly for all the laundry money she's spent washing her ruined underwear.

 

This isn't going to take long. Since this whole Twilight Zone thing with Miranda has been happening, she's been having shattering orgasms within minutes of touching herself. She can only imagine that she'd end up like a teenage boy if she ever had sex with the woman…

 

…which makes her think about having sex with her. She imagines pressing Miranda against her desk and ripping apart that goddamn cerulean blouse (she'll never be able look at that color again without feeling lightheaded) and kissing her until her lips are bruised.

 

She curls her fingers, brushing her knuckles against her clit. She gasps and spreads her legs wider, rocking her hips up against her hand. It's good…it feels so good…and it would be so much better if Miranda were the one fucking her…

 

Andy could come with only the slightest touch and she's not ready. She doesn't want it to be over. She slides the flat of her palm against herself, coating her hand in her copious moisture. She arches her hips, whines, and teases herself. It's a game she plays: prolong the orgasm as long as possible and come like a screaming banshee.

 

It would be a much more satisfying game if there were another player.

 

She slips one finger in, and then another, and she coos and sighs and "ooohs" while she rocks her hips. "Yes!" she says, adding a third finger, and then she's fucking her hand like it's her job.

 

Andy's close…so close…and she screws her eyes shut tight and imagines Miranda's long, slender fingers, and she's coming hard. She wails and shakes and convulses before she slumps back against her pillow. Her breath is ragged and her lungs burn and her legs feel like jello. She pulls her fingers out, wipes them on her thigh, and rolls over.

 

Her heart is pounding. She thinks once more of Miranda and falls asleep with a smile on her face.

 

When she wakes up several hours later, she blinks lazily as she opens her eyes. She feels considerably well rested.

 

She looks at the computer and at the darkened image of Miranda's study.

 

Miranda's study. Not a black box.

 

Sometime during the night, Miranda turned back on her webcam.

 

Andy pulls her blanket over her head, buries her face in her pillow, and curses the day she ever took this job. 

 

---

 

It is with a firm, stubborn resolve that Andy decides that this whole Miranda business is done. Over. Absolutely, one hundred percent finished. She is going to find plenty to occupy her weekend and she's going to stay far, far away from her computer at every possible minute.

 

Well, except for right now. Right now she's got to reply to a frantic "Honey, what's going on with you?" email from her mother.

 

The fact that she hasn't actually shut down her webcam is completely irrelevant and says absolutely nothing about her decision. Because it's done. Over. She minimizes the screens, opens her email, and scrunches her nose as she begins to explain to her mother that she's just busy and more than a little preoccupied with her job.

 

Her job. Right.

 

As her fingers strike the keys, an imperious "Are you Andrea?" sounds loudly and she jumps.

 

With trepidation, Andy clicks on the minimized window of Miranda's webcam. Her mouth drops when she sees two redheaded twins.

 

"Y-yes," Andy stammers, sitting straighter in her chair.

 

"I'm Caroline," says the twin on the left.

 

"Cassidy," says the one on the right.

 

"Is everything okay with your mom?"

 

Caroline shrugs. "We don't know."

 

"We came to ask you."

 

Andy gapes wider and, upon realizing how unattractive that must look, closes her mouth. "What's wrong?"

 

"She's all distracted."

 

"And weird."

 

Well, that's maddeningly unhelpful. "Weird how?"

 

The twins huddle together, exchanging harried whispers, before separating. "Her face has been all red," says Cassidy. "She dropped her coffee cup this morning."

 

"Do you think she's sick?" Caroline asks, her eyes sharp and accusatory, as if Andy is responsible for whatever malady has stricken their mother.

 

"She seemed fine to me when I spoke to her last. I'm sure there's nothing to worry about." She furrows her brow. "Where's your mom now?"

 

"Taking another shower."

 

"Another one?" Andy asks.

 

"Yea." Caroline frowns. "This is supposed to be our fun weekend away without Stephen and she's acting like a zombie."

 

"Zombies are cool though," Andy offers, ignoring her curious nagging about Stephen's lack of presence.

 

Two sets of eyes glare at her, and Andy shudders.

 

"Did you try asking her what's wrong?"

 

"Yea, right," Caroline scoffs.

 

"We figured you'd know," Cassidy offers.

 

"Me? Why me?"

 

"Mom mentions you all the time. You're like…her only friend."

 

It's all Andy can do to keep her mouth from dropping. "Uh--"

 

"Guess not," Cassidy says, getting to her feet. "Thanks, Andrea."

 

"You can call me Andy."

 

Andy stares at the computer. Perhaps she's not done with this Miranda business after all.

 

---

 

Andy changes out of her clothes, contemplating another tank top or something a little more reserved. As she readjusts the small black straps over her shoulders, she decides to recover a little more of her modesty. She's never been much of a showy type of girl, so why now? And why for her boss? Her married female boss?

 

She shrugs on a sweatshirt and after brushing her hair into a ponytail, she pulls the hood over her head. A pair of ratty gray sweats replace her jeans and she flops on the bed, staring at the cracks in her ceiling while she ponders the mystery that is Miranda Priestly.

 

She hugs her knees to her chest and sighs. A little insight into the damn woman's mind wouldn't hurt. If she could just know, just be able to understand, what was occupying Miranda's thoughts, it wouldn't be so bad. Right?

 

It feels wrong…this whole attraction thing. Andy doesn't do this kind of thing. She doesn't go falling for married women. But yet…here she is. What's worse is that there's something more to it than an intense physical attraction. There are…feelings.

 

Andy can't really comprehend those and it hurts her brain to try. It's Miranda's eyes. Or, that's where it started, anyway. Sometimes they're so startlingly clear and focused and determined that it shows who she is, right at her very core.

 

And sometimes, when no one is really paying attention except for maybe Andy, there's unspeakable sadness. Andy's heart clenches at the thought.

 

She wonders what the twins meant about their weekend away from Stephen. It sounded like a reprieve from a wicked stepfather or something. Sure, the guy seems like kind of an unfeeling ass at times, but is he really that bad? And is it just the twins that feel that way about him, or Miranda too?

 

The way Miranda acted about Nate suggested that she may not be involved in the happiest marriage. A happily married woman wouldn't have such sad eyes, would she?

 

She also wouldn't find excuses to see her assistant in minimal clothing.

 

There's just something about Miranda that Andy instinctively wants to save. Miranda puts up this brave front, tries to be some unwavering, picture-perfect mogul that no one can break…and yet, she seems to be broken already. It's hidden by couture and products and fake smiles…but Andy has always been able to see past those facades. She has a canny ability to see people as they are, and Miranda is not always as horrible as she tries to be.

 

Miranda, more often than not, is someone that Andy could love.

 

Shit. Oh shit.

 

The idea of having romantic feelings for someone as damaged as Miranda Priestly should be enough to send Andy screaming for the hills. Despite the fact that she is currently in an inverted position on her bed, she is rooted firmly to the spot. She contends that everyone is a little damaged and would choose to be with someone flawed than someone blissfully unaware of their faults any day.

 

Andy reminds herself that this is ridiculous. Why convince herself that having a thing -- more than a thing -- for Miranda Priestly is a good idea? Miranda's abrupt departure and odd behavior over the past few days is enough to convince any sane, rational person that nothing could possibly happen between them. 

 

Andy likes to think that she's very much in touch with her insane, irrational side. She grins to herself, wondering if Miranda likes to be kissed under the stars and if Miranda likes to snuggle after sex, and closes her eyes.

 

Before Andy can actually fall asleep, she hears a faint clearing of a throat. She opens her eyes, stares up at the ceiling for a few moments, and then rolls over to look at the computer.

 

Sitting pristinely in her Hampton office is Miranda, looking annoyed to be kept waiting.

 

Andy slumps into her chair, curling her knees up to her chest. She reaches for her notepad and as she searches for a pen, Miranda speaks.

 

"You won't be needing that."

 

"Oh," Andy squeaks, setting it down on the desk. She stares at Miranda, wishing that she could read her. She's gotten better at understanding Miranda's rapid mood changes and can even anticipate her mood swings better than Emily, but this is completely unknown to her. Her eyes are dark.

 

Her lips are pursed.

 

Miranda is displeased.

 

"Um, is everything okay?"

 

"Are you living in an igloo?"

 

"Huh?"

 

Miranda raises a precarious eyebrow, tilting her head as if indicating something obvious. Andy looks down at her oversized sweatshirt. 

 

"Do I pay you so little that you can't afford proper heating in your apartment?"

 

"What? It's warm enough. I...my paychecks are fine." Ish.

 

Miranda snorts. "Then are you preparing for winter? Hibernating early?"

 

"What's wrong with my sweatshirt?" And then it hits Andy like a ton of bricks. Her mouth drops. "Oh. Unless…um. Unless you'd prefer I take it off?"

 

"What business of mine is that? Do what you will."

 

Andy exhales an exasperated sigh, rolls her eyes, and pulls off her sweatshirt. She tosses it behind her and stares fixedly at the computer. Miranda's cheeks go pink. "Well? Happy?"

 

"It doesn't affect me in any way."

 

Irritation gnaws at her, bubbling in her belly. Fuck this. "You know, Miranda, I know it's in your M.O. to be laconic and evasive, but could you just say whatever it is that's on your mind?"

 

Miranda's eyebrows shoot heavenwards. "Excuse me?"

 

"I--I just mean--I can't take the head games, Miranda. Just talk to me. I can't read your mind."

 

"That is unfortunate."

 

"Tell me about it." Andy squirms. "We're adults. Let's talk about whatever this is like adults."

 

"You think I am incapable of mature, adult conversation?"

 

"Well not exactly, but--"

 

"How would you describe this? What would you say to start this dialogue? Illuminate me."

 

Andy blushes. "Is this a test?"

 

"I would genuinely like to know."

 

Andy clears her throat and shifts in her chair. "Well, there seems to be, um…something going on."

 

"How perceptive."

 

"You've seen me half-naked. You've asked to."

 

Color rises to Miranda's cheeks. She doesn't look at Andy.

 

"You're blushing," Andy says when Miranda remains silent.

 

"So it would seem."

 

"Why?"

 

Miranda purses her lips and looks at Andy. "You are…" She sticks her tongue in her cheek as she contemplates her words. "A pleasure to look at."

 

Andy's on fire now. Her skin is burning. "So are you. And I've never seen you half as scantily clad as you've seen me."

 

"Would you like to?"

 

Andy pauses. Mature, honest, adult conversation. That's what they're having. This is not the time to cower like a child. "Yes."

 

"That would be highly inappropriate."

 

"That doesn't mean I don't want to see you anyway."

 

"I've seen a great deal of you," Miranda says, her eyes glazed.

 

"I know," Andy replies, looking down as she fidgets with the hem of her tank top. Her nipples are hard. She wonders if Miranda can tell.

 

"I came back last night to see if we might continue our conversation."

 

"Oh." And then Andy remembers everything that transpired the night before. "Oh."

 

"Indeed."

 

"I…Oh God…um…I didn't know…"

 

"I didn't exactly make my presence known."

 

"So you…"

 

"Watched. Yes."

 

Andy drops her face into her palms. Her level of mortification is through the roof.

 

"Though I admit, it was dark. I didn't see much." Miranda clears her throat. "You were quite vocal, however."

 

"Oh my God. You…you weren't supposed to see that."

 

"Wasn’t I?"

 

Andy stares, open-mouthed, at Miranda. "No! Of course not! Why--I--Miranda, I didn't do that on purpose!"

 

"You certainly didn't try to hide it."

 

"Yea, well, you were being moody. I thought you were gone for the night."

 

"As did I." Miranda looks at her hands. "I anticipated staying away for the remainder of the weekend."

 

"So why did you come back?"

 

"I think we know, Andrea."

 

Andy's throat goes dry. "And why did you watch?"

 

"I couldn't look away."

 

"Oh my God."

 

 "It is unforgivable for me to have invaded your privacy. For that I am sincerely apologetic."

 

"You don't have to apologize," Andy says quietly.

 

"No?"

 

"Well," Andy shifts in her chair. She feels as though she's soaked through her sweats. "It's my own fault. For not turning the cam off, I mean. I should've…I dunno, thought about it or something."

 

"Thinking about it suggests premeditation."

 

Andy blushes. "I…Geez, Miranda. I didn't plan it. I told you that."

 

"No. No, you wouldn't have done something like that without my prompting."

 

Andy blinks. "Prompt--what?"

 

"You've never said 'no' to me before. I realize that it's your job to do as I bid, but it's not stated in the terms of your employment that you must comply with my requests of seeing you partially undressed."

 

"I know."

 

"This could be considered sexual harassment, you realize."

 

"It wouldn't be. Not for me."

 

"Why is that?"

 

"Because I've consented. I've never once considered saying 'no.'" Andy bites her lip. "I don't think I'd deny you anything, Miranda."

 

"Why? For the sake of your job?"

 

"No. It's not about you being my boss. It doesn't have anything to do with work."

 

"What does it have to do with?"

 

"You. As a person. A woman. That I, uh, am attracted to. I won't try to deny it. Not that it's not blatantly obvious."

 

"I've had my suspicions."

 

"And? What do you think about it?"

 

"I am flattered."

 

"And you like looking at me."

 

"Yes. More than I should as a married woman."

 

Andy's stomach tightens and unfurls as though a team of acrobats have begun a highly energized routine. "So we are attracted to each other."

 

"Nothing can happen."

 

And then the acrobats fall and land with a thud against the bottom of her abdomen. "Right. No. I knew that."

 

"You seem disappointed, Andrea."

 

"Yea well, aren't you?"

 

Miranda looks away. "I can't answer that."

 

"You just did. That says plenty."

 

"I thought you weren't a mind reader."

 

"You're just easy." Andy's eyes widen. "I mean, you know, easy to read. Sometimes. Actually, no; you're really hard to read about 99% of the time."

 

"You're rambling."

 

"Sorry. Can't help it."

 

"Please contain yourself. We--I am your boss. Your superior. I'm also a married woman."

 

"So you've said."

 

"And I will not have this--whatever this is--getting in the way of our working relationship or compromising a very fragile marriage. Do I make myself clear?"

 

Fragile marriage? Andy knows better than to push. "Crystal."

 

"Good." Miranda's nostrils flare as her eyes fixate on the screen.

 

"Face is up here, Miranda."

 

Miranda blushes, glares, and switches off the camera.

 

"Holy shit."

 

---

 

The work week resumes quite as Andy expects it to: Miranda refuses to look in Andy's direction and sends her orders through Emily. Emily couldn't be more thrilled and she skips around the office like a prize-winning poodle.

 

Andy snorts indignantly as she watches Miranda in her office throughout the day. The woman made it extremely clear that nothing would be changed in light of their mutual attraction, and it's Miranda herself who is avoiding Andy like she's got the bubonic plague. So much for this not getting in the way of the working relationship.

 

Andy sulks all day.

 

She thinks the day can't get any worse and then, of course, it does. As Miranda is on her way out the door for a meeting in Accounting, which always puts her in a shitty mood, she realizes that she has a run in her hose. She barks an order for Emily to fetch a fresh pair from The Closet and retreats back into her office.

 

Andy nearly laughs as Emily trips over her Jimmy Choos in her attempt to reach The Closet in top speed and, when the redhead has disappeared from view, opens her desk drawer. Behind the expanse of files is a pile of emergency essentials -- a hairbrush, samples of make up, hairspray, a pair of nude thigh-highs, and, because she is ever the efficient assistant, a pair of Miranda's signature black hose.

 

She grabs them and heads for Miranda's office.

 

She pauses in the doorway.

 

In the corner of her office, free from view of random passers-by, Miranda is drawing off her ruined nylons, exposing her pale ivory legs at an agonizingly slow pace. Color slashes at Andy's cheeks and she feels light-headed as she is overcome by the desire to touch those legs.

 

And then it becomes abundantly clear: a respectable woman like Miranda would not change her stockings in plain view of anyone who might dare to look. It's the type of intimate act that one does behind closed doors.

 

And that's when Andy realizes that Miranda is a filthy hypocrite and, despite her insistence that nothing will happen between them, she is determined to kill Andy.

 

Andy groans.

 

Miranda's head snaps up, her eyebrow rising. Challenging.

 

Andy hands her the nylons and accepts the ruined balled up pair. They're warm. She shudders.

 

"Behave yourself," Miranda warns. She sits on the couch, extends her leg, and draws one thigh-high up her leg. She smoothes the nylon as she goes and, to Andy's horror, lifts her skirt just slightly so that she might be able to fasten her garter.

 

"Speak for yourself," Andy snaps.

 

"I beg your pardon?"

 

"You're the one doing everything in your power to ignore me and drive me insane. You've made things weird. Not me."

 

"I'm not the one panting like a deprived teenager."

 

"No. No, you're just better at hiding it than I am."

 

Miranda stands, fixing her skirt. She stares at Andy and says nothing.

 

"I can't have you, Miranda," Andy says in a barely-audible whisper. "You've made that clear. This job is all I have. Don't punish me here too."

 

The door to the outer office bursts open and Andy jumps, watching as Miranda squares her shoulders.

 

"There were no black, but I placed an order and got--" Emily stops speaking when she sees Miranda's stocking-clad legs.

 

"Andrea has taken care of me." She clears her throat. "Starbucks when I return at 4." She breezes past them.

 

Emily glares at Andy. Andy beams.

 

Her smile lasts until she sits at her desk and remembers the black garter kissing Miranda's thigh. She lowers her head to the desk and groans to herself.

 

The rest of the day is a slow hell for Andy. As much as she'd like to admit otherwise, she knows that she'll be fucking her brains out the minute she gets home from delivering The Book. It can't come soon enough -- she can't come soon enough. Her thighs are already slick.

 

She spends the day trying not to think of Miranda in every sexual position imaginable, some of which are not even anatomically possible. She fails miserably.

 

She's been doing research into lesbian sex. Not because she anticipates having any, but because she can't not look. She'd always sort of thought going down on a woman might be kinda weird and messy, but the more she thinks about it, the more she's aching for it. It's becoming a sort of obsession for Andy. She can't stop thinking about what Miranda might taste like. What if she went down on her and hated it? Or, worse, was awful at it?

 

Not that she'll be performing cunnilingus on Miranda Priestly, because she obviously won't be, but what else is she supposed to think about when killing time?

 

By the time she's collected Miranda's dry-cleaning and is sitting in the back of the town car, she's so turned on she could scream. She needs to think of something else so she doesn't do something crazy like make a pass at Miranda in her house with her husband and kids nearby. She stares at the back of Roy's head, counts the raindrops on the window, hums a Cher song, and drops her head back against the seat with a thump. She wonders if Miranda gets off to her clitoris being sucked.

 

Her phone chirps in the pocket of her jacket and after some wriggling, she manages to pull it out. It's Lily. Hello, distraction. "Hey, Lil. What's shakin'?"

 

"Hey, Andy. I'm glad I caught you." Her voice is reserved. Lily's voice is never reserved. 98% of the time she's chipper and upbeat, unless she has bad news. Uh oh.

 

"What's wrong? What happened?"

 

"Look…it's not my place to tell you but I know I'd wanna know if it were me…"

 

"Out with it, Lily."

 

"You know Nate's seeing that girl, right? Harmony?"

 

Andy rolls her eyes. "How could I forget? I'm surprised he had the decency to wait a few weeks after breaking up with me before he boned her." She snorts. "For all I know, he probably didn't."

 

"That's not fair, Andy."

 

"Oh come on. Please don't defend him."

 

"Look….Andy…"

 

"You're freaking me out here. What happened? They didn't run off and get married, did they?"

 

"No…"

 

"Good. It's been three months since we broke up and he's been with her for what, two and a half?"

 

"Yea."

 

"I never thought he'd be the type to just shack up with someone else. It's only a matter of time before he gets sick--"

 

"She's pregnant."

 

"--of her. What?"

 

"She's pregnant."

 

"Yea, uh, I heard that part."

 

"I just found out about it. He said he was gonna call you but I wanted you to be prepared."

 

"Is he--um--are they--"

 

"As far as I know, they're keeping it. He seems pretty stoked."

 

"Well. Good for him. Them. Good for them. I hope they're happy with their furry little babies."

 

"Girl, you okay?"

 

"Yup. Fine. Gotta go."

 

She shuts off the phone, bile burning in her throat and tears stinging in her eyes. This shouldn't bother her. Not at all. It shouldn't make her feel like throwing herself out of the moving vehicle.

 

Which is, of course, slowing down.

 

As Roy pulls up in front of the townhouse, Andy curses her job for what has to be the millionth time. She suppresses a sob, clutches the dry cleaning and Book to her chest, and staggers out of the car. With as much grace as she can muster, she lets herself into the townhouse and struggles to compose herself. She can feel the tears prickling her eyes and she needs to just get the hell out of here.

 

She reaches for the door of the hall closet and, to her horror, drops The Book. It lands on the floor with a loud slap and she curses. In her confusion, she reaches for it while juggling the garment bags. They slip from her arms and land in a crumpled heap.

 

Andy bursts into tears.

 

As she crouches to pick everything up before they're wrinkled to oblivion, she hears a noise on the stairs behind her. She glances over her shoulder. Miranda stands on the third stair, her eyes wide with disapproval. Within seconds her face softens and she looks concerned.

 

"Andrea?"

 

"I'm s-sorry, Miranda." She reaches for each hanger, collecting them onto her hand. One hook snags the plastic of another bag; it rips and Andy cries harder. She can't imagine why she's allowing herself to fall apart like this, especially in front of Miranda, but she can't stop. She buries her face in her hands.

 

The crinkle of plastic jolts her; she removes her hands in time to see Miranda hanging the dry cleaning up in the closet. "Oh God…I'm sorry. I don't know what's come over m-me," she sniffles.

 

Miranda sinks down, kneeling beside Andy on the uncomfortable marble floor. "What's wrong?"

 

"S-so stupid…"

 

"Andrea," Miranda says, her voice sharp. "Get a grip on yourself and tell me what's wrong. Crying in my closet won't make it better."

 

Andy breathes in deeply, wiping her nose unattractively with the back of her hand. "Nate knocked up the hippie he's been shacking up with. They're--they're gonna have it, I think."

 

"And this upsets you."

 

"Well, yea! Why wouldn't it? My ex is having a baby with someone else!" She is nearing hysteria. Miranda doesn't do hysteria. "I just…I thought I was over it by now. But this is just…"

 

"Would you rather be the one carrying his child?"

 

"What? No. Not at all."

 

"Then consider yourself lucky that it's someone else and not you."

 

"That's not the point, Miranda."

 

"What is the point?"

 

"I don't know." Andy hangs her head. "I just didn't think I'd end up alone like this. I didn't think it would hurt this much."

 

"You're not alone, Andrea." Her voice is impossibly soft. She lifts Andy's chin and her eyes scan her face.

 

Andy feels naked. She feels exposed and stupid.

 

"I was right."

 

"What?" Andy asks, wishing that Miranda would stop looking at her. She must be a mess. Her mascara is probably streaked across her face. Her suspicions are confirmed when Miranda wipes at her cheeks with the pads of her thumbs.

 

"You're incredibly beautiful when you cry."

 

Andy's lungs collapse. She shivers. Is it her imagination, or is Miranda closer that she was a second ago?

 

"You're better off without him. He didn't appreciate the gift he'd been given and it's his loss. He'll discover that in time."

 

Miranda's definitely closer now. She's cupping Andy's face in her hands and is soothing her cheekbones with her thumbs. Andy blinks and feels lightheaded as her heart pounds mercilessly in her chest.

 

"You deserve so much more than you ever got from him, Andrea. So much more than I could ever give you." She leans closer, holding Andy as if she's frightened she'll run away.

 

Andy wants to protest, wants to tell Miranda that all she needs is to be looked at and touched just like this to be perfectly content for the rest of her life, but she has forgotten how to formulate words. She's sitting in the closet of the townhouse, about to be kissed by Miranda Priestly.

 

When Miranda's lips brush against hers, every bit of sadness and unworthiness that she's been feeling evaporates and something else takes their place. She closes her eyes, savoring the feel of Miranda's mouth. It's soft and warm and everything she thought it would be.

 

Miranda lets out a little sigh, her breath hot against her. She's gentle and places a second kiss on Andy's bottom lip before pulling away.

 

"I'm sorry. I couldn't help--I had to." She lets go of Andy's face and sucks in a breath, as if she's just realized what she's done. "Stephen's upstairs." Andy goes cold and Miranda grasps The Book and stands. "No more tears, Andrea." She licks her bottom lip, looking lost. "Good night."

 

Andy watches her go and feels more lost than ever.

 

---

 

If Andy thought life had been hell before kissing Miranda, she definitely stands corrected now that she has kissed Miranda.

 

It hurts her brain to think about the games that the universe has taken to playing with her. A year ago, she was happily partnered with Nate and optimistic about where her job search would take her. A year ago she'd also been blissfully ignorant to the fact that Miranda's mouth tastes like cherries and peppermint. Life was damn cruel when it wanted to be.

 

Sticking to her recent habits, Miranda has spent the following week steering clear of Andy at all costs. It's frustrating the hell out of her but she kind of gets why Miranda is doing it. If her inability to look Andy in the eye is any indication, Miranda's probably trying to avoid kissing her again.

 

It's all Andy can think about. The kiss lasted for only a few brief moments but that kiss has far surpassed every kiss she's ever had.

 

She wishes Miranda would just do something. She wouldn't even care if Miranda decided to administer some degrading work task; it would be better than the awful silence that's gnawing at her insides.

 

It's giving Andy way too much time to think. Thinking has always been a friend of hers, but not lately. Now all she can think about is her ex-boyfriend's fetus and what Miranda's tongue might feel like against her own.

 

Pouring her heart out on the floor of Miranda's closet did wonders in relieving a lot of the pain that accompanied the news of Nate's baby. She was downright numb to the news when Nate called to tell her about it. She had contemplated screening the call and sending a confirmation text message, but she knew Miranda would disapprove. It would have been the weak thing to do.

 

She felt better after she actually faced him and silently thanked Miranda for unknowingly forcing her to do it. Andy thinks she needs to start mass-producing What Would Miranda Priestly Do? bracelets. Because of Miranda, she was able to genially offer her congratulations and well wishes.

 

Andy's kinda disappointed that the phone call has already happened. When she was expecting it, it gave her a combination of dread and anticipation every evening. Now that it's done and over with, she's back to the silence of her apartment. She hates it. Now that Nate's tucked his tail between his legs and is spending his time Googling vegan-and-pregnancy-friendly recipes, she has nothing to look forward to.

 

Now, one week after she was kissed by Miranda Priestly and has absolutely no hopes for more kisses, Andy is pretty damn miserable and just wants to go to sleep.

 

She stands in Miranda's office, observing a particularly painful meeting between her boss and one of the editorial writers.

 

"Do you think you work in the Spark Notes version of this magazine? Is this Runway: Abridged? Do you honestly expect me to approve copy that lacks sufficient detail?"

 

Andy feels bad for the guy, but it's his own fault for actually thinking he could get away with what even she would consider a lackluster article. Miranda is particularly scathing today. Andy wonders if a good orgasm would take her off edge a little.

 

"Describe Andrea's pants," Miranda orders, and Andy snaps out of her daydream.

 

Colby, the inexperienced copywriter, sweats and stammers. "Um…Armani denim jeans…skinny leg…"

 

"Is that all?"

 

Colby looks helplessly at Andy, as if she can save him from certain death.

 

"And tell me, what of your description distinguishes these particular jeans from any other designer's?"

 

"Well, there's the designer name…"

 

Miranda rolls her eyes and crosses the room to where Andy stands. Her eyes flick momentarily to Andy's before swiftly looking away. Andy shudders.

 

"I expect you to do the job I'm paying you to do, not fumble and guess like a simpering undergrad. Open your eyes and look. Observe the stitching," Miranda says, tracing her finger along the edge of Andy's hip. "Observe the seam work on the pockets." Miranda grabs Andy's hips and turns her around.

 

Andy gulps when she feels Miranda's finger tracing the pattern on her backside. Moisture explodes between her legs and she exhales sharply. Miranda has obviously heard because her finger is pulled away instantly.

 

"Pay attention to detail, or the only thing you'll be paying attention to will be the classifieds. That's all."

 

Colby scuffles quickly out of the room and Andy watches Miranda take her seat at her desk. She knows she must look like a fool with her mouth agape, but she can't quell the fire coursing through her.

 

Miranda looks at her, her eyes smoldering, helpless, desperate. "That's all, Andrea," she whispers feebly.

 

Andy bites her lip and stares for several long moments. Miranda's eyes almost plead with her to leave and while her entire being screams against it, she turns and walks out of her office.

 

The end of the day can't come quickly enough for Andy. She's sent on a series of trivial errands that keep her away from Miranda. She's incredibly grateful for this small favor because by the time she gets home from dropping off The Book, she's ready to inhale a quick dinner of peanut butter and jelly and collapse onto her bed.

 

She humps her hand into a quick, unsatisfying orgasm and falls into a fitful sleep.

 

Andy dreams of falling off a roof. She falls and falls and braces for impact. She can already hear the sirens in the distance, waiting for her to hit the ground.

 

Her eyes snap open before she smashes into the pavement and she realizes that the siren from her dream is actually her cell phone. She reaches for it on the nightstand. "H'llo?" she mumbles, wiping her bangs from her sweat-slicked forehead.

 

"We need to talk."

 

"Miranda?"

 

"Of course it's Miranda. Get online. We need to talk face to face."

 

The line goes dead. Andy swears, throws off her comforter, and switches on her computer. While it loads, she brushes her hair and decides against turning on the light. It's three in the morning and Miranda will just have to deal with the fact that Andy isn't exactly pleased to be awake.

 

When everything is up and running, Andy already has an angry tirade ready on her lips. As soon as the webcams connect and Andy can get a glimpse of Miranda, the words dissipate.

 

Sitting at her desk in the first floor study is Miranda, clad in a low-cut black silk negligee. One spaghetti strap is slipping off of her shoulder and her hair is tousled. The deep V of her cleavage beckons for Andy's attention and she can't help but look, staring at the swell of her breasts beneath the silk.

 

She's certain that she's still dreaming. Or in hell. She pinches her leg and winces.

 

Definitely in hell.

 

"You have got to be kidding me, Miranda." 

 

"What?"

 

"You're wearing that?"

 

"It's warm."

 

Andy rolls her eyes. "You couldn't have put on a freakin' sweater?"

 

"I don't see why I should have to be uncomfortable in order to have a conversation with you."

 

"So you'd rather just kill me?"

 

"You are not going to die."

 

"Miranda. Seriously. Remember how you got all fidgety and distracted with me in my tank top?" When Miranda blushes, Andy snorts. "See? You've got to stop doing that."

 

"Stop doing what exactly?"

 

"Stop being all sexy and unavailable. You're doing it on purpose. The sexy part, I mean, not the unavailable part."

 

"You're rambling again."

 

"Yea well, can you blame me? It's 3am and you are looking like…that."

 

"My sincerest apologies, Andrea," Miranda drawls sarcastically. "Next time I'll be sure to wear a three-piece suit."

 

Andy rolls her eyes again. She's cranky and horny and so not in the mood for this. "Are you sure we can't have this conversation tomorrow?"

 

"We have to work tomorrow."

 

"So?"

 

"I will not have this interfering with our work relationship."

 

"You mean more than it already has?"

 

"What? It--no." Miranda touches her neck. Her arm brushes against her breast, pressing it higher. It strains against the silk and Andy swallows.

 

"It may not be obvious to anyone else, Miranda," Andy says, staring at Miranda's cleavage, "but I can see it in your eyes as plain as day."

 

Miranda licks her lips. "What exactly is it that you think you see?"

 

"That you want to fuck me." As the words leave her mouth, her panties grow damp.

 

Miranda's cheeks burn. "Andrea…"

 

Andy can tell through the silk of the negligee that Miranda's nipples have grown taut. She shifts in her chair, rubbing against the heel of her foot. "I know. It's inappropriate. But it's true, isn't it?" Andy holds her breath and watches as Miranda fidgets. She rocks her hips against her heel and her eyelids flutter at the contact.

 

"I can't answer that question." Miranda's nostrils flare.

 

"I think you just did." Andy squirms against her foot, suppressing a groan. It feels nice -- very nice -- but it's not enough. She feels like the tension will kill her. She would give anything to get off.

 

 "What are you doing over there?"

 

"Uh," Andy stammers, stilling her hips. "Nothing."

 

"You have to stop that. You can't do that."

 

"I wasn't doing anything."

 

Miranda purses her lips but Andy can tell she doesn't mean it. If Andy were to hazard a guess, she'd think that it pains Miranda not to be able to say what's on her mind.

 

"The point is," Miranda begins, looking helplessly at the computer, "that we have to figure out a way to control this."

 

"Any suggestions?"

 

Miranda exhales sharply, running her fingers through her hair. "I can't have anyone getting the wrong idea."

 

"Even if it's the right one."

 

"Yes," Miranda concedes. She sighs breathlessly. The sound courses down Andy like an electric shock.

 

"Do you think anyone's noticed?" Andy asks, taking the opportunity to slide her hand between her legs while Miranda stares at her fingernails. She still hasn't fixed the strap. The bare shoulder is making Andy's mouth water. She cups herself through her shorts, hoping the bit of pressure might cool her down.

 

It doesn't.

 

"I hope not. No one has made any allusions, but I doubt they would. You'd be the one to pick up on idle workplace gossip."

 

Andy rubs gently, biting back a sigh. "Nope. Haven't heard a thing. I'm pretty sure everyone just thinks you hate me."

 

Miranda smirks. "Quite the opposite, really."                    

 

Andy's stomach flips and she presses harder. Damn that feels good… "You like me, eh?"

 

Miranda purses her lips. "You know very well that I do."

 

"You have funny way of showing it, Miranda. You treat me like crap at work. Not even like you used to. I got it in the beginning because you were the boss and I was the lowly assistant, but now you don't even treat me like that. You barely pretend that I'm there."

 

"I don't mean to treat you any differently, Andrea."

 

"But you do. And if anything, that’s what is tipping people off that something has changed. Not anything I've done."

 

Miranda appears helpless and at a loss for an answer. "I will do my best to rectify that."

 

"Thank you." She rubs again and her hips jerk.

 

"So we should have no problems then. At work."

 

"In theory."

 

"And in reality?"

 

Andy sighs. "In reality, it killed me when you got the tear in your stocking. And when you touched me today…"

 

"Yes?"

 

Andy grinds her palm harshly into her clit. "I shouldn't say anything else."

 

"Do go on. I insist."

 

"It turned me on like crazy."

 

Miranda closes her eyes for a long, drawn-out moment. Andy can tell that she's stumbling for control. She wonders if Miranda is wet and what kind of underwear she's got on…

 

Andy's sex clenches tightly and she can feel the moisture through the layers of her clothing. While Miranda's eyes are closed, she slips her hand into her panties and sighs.

 

"Miranda," Andy sighs, sliding her fingers amongst moist folds.

 

"Hmm?" Miranda asks, opening her eyes once more.

 

"You kissed me."

 

"So I did."

 

"That's why you called me, isn't it? Why we're here right now? To talk about it."

 

"Well, as much as I'd like to forget that it happened, I cannot."

 

"Why do you want to forget it?"

 

"You know why, Andrea."

 

"Your lips are soft," Andy whimpers, trying to control the movement of her upper arm. She can't believe she's doing this--essentially masturbating in front of her boss--and blames it entirely on the sleep deprivation.

 

"Andrea." Miranda's tone is firm.

 

"It's true. I've never felt anything like that before. I felt like I was on fire."

 

"I hope you didn't sustain third degree burns."

 

"You can be a smart ass all you want, Miranda, but it doesn't change the fact that you're easily the most attractive person I've ever met."

 

"You shouldn't say things like that."

 

Andy rolls her eyes. "Make up your damn mind, Miranda. Either you want me or you don't. You want me to tell you what I'm thinking or keep my mouth shut. I can't take this hot and cold crap!"

 

"That's enough."

 

"No, Miranda, it's not. You chose to talk to me in the middle of the night. So talk. It's your turn. Go."

 

Miranda sticks her tongue in her cheek, looking at Andy as though she's just slapped her child. "I want you very much, Andrea."

 

Hearing this is nearly a means to an end in itself for Andy. She circles her finger around her opening, her eyelids fluttering shut at the pleasurable sensation, but she snaps them open again. "Yea?"

 

Miranda nods. She rubs at her neck again, rolling her head back to stretch her neck and shoulders. Her breasts shift and Andy whimpers helplessly.

 

"So you think about me?"

 

"Frequently."

 

"Wow." She flicks at her clit and her entire body shudders.

 

"I'm not accustomed to not getting what I want, so I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it must be have you just out of reach."

 

"Yea, I, uh, think I can imagine. Like standing in the middle of a fire."

 

"Something like that."

 

This is becoming too much for Andy to bear. Miranda wants her. Miranda wants to fuck her. Miranda covets her more than she covets anything, and Miranda rarely covets because she's not usually wanting for much. Her brain is about to explode and it's going to take the rest of her body with her.

 

"What are you doing?" Miranda demands.

 

Andy's eyes snap open, her mouth dropping slightly as she realizes that she lost control. "N-nothing."

 

"Then you should have no problem showing me your hands."

 

Andy's face burns. She holds up her right hand and wiggles her fingers. She can't stand the thought of removing her left hand from between her legs and wiggling her wet, sticky fingers in front of the cam.

 

"Andrea," Miranda chokes. "What…"

 

"I'm sorry, Miranda. I can't help it."

 

"You have to stop this."

 

"I can't…oh…" She rubs her index and middle fingers in slow, agonizing circles around her clit. Her eyes close.

 

"Didn't you once say that you'd never say 'no' to me?"

 

"I guess I lied."

 

"I can't sit here and watch you do this."

 

"So go. But I'm not stopping."

 

"I am not bluffing, Andrea. I will turn this camera off."

 

"If you didn’t want to see this, you would have left already."

 

"You think you're cute, don't you?"

 

"No. But you do."

 

"Actually, I think you're horrible. I take back what I said about being fond of you."

 

Andy grins, slumping back against her chair. She spreads her legs wider and quickens the pace of the circular motions. It won't take long at all. She feels faint with arousal and the knowledge that Miranda is watching her.

 

Andy's never been a big fan of keeping her eyes open during sex. She finds it distracting and has been reprimanded in the past for not concentrating while her boyfriends did their thing.

 

She has to open her eyes. She has to see Miranda. Andy focuses hazy eyes on the older woman and her hips jerk involuntarily. Miranda is clearly not making any move towards shutting off her camera. She's focused in rapt attention on the computer screen. Her eyes are heavy-lidded and her mouth is parted and her chest is heaving. If Andy didn't know any better, she'd say that Miranda was relying on her orgasm as if it were her own.

 

"This isn't what I had in mind when I suggested we talk."

 

"Me neither."

 

"No?"

 

"I don't usually make a habit of fucking myself in front of my boss."

 

"I'm glad to hear that."

 

"I've…I've never done this before. Nothing like this."

 

"Nor have I."

 

Andy's relieved to hear it. She's not another object. She's…special.

 

"I can't wait…I can't…I'm going to…"

 

"What are you going to do?" Miranda leans forward, entwining her hands and resting her chin upon them, as if to show Andy that she's not participating.

 

"Come. Fucking hell, Miranda, I'm so wet."

 

Miranda's eyes close again, though much more briefly this time. She seems to want to witness the entire spectacle despite her protestations.

 

"You l-like this, d-don't you?"

 

"And if I say yes?"

 

"Oooh God…" Andy moans. She's so close she can taste it. "Next time I'll make it worth your while."

 

Miranda swallows and shifts in her chair. "Next time?"

 

"Yes. Oh yes. I'll do anything you want….show you anything. Just say the word, Miranda. Oh God, Miranda…"

 

"Come now, Andrea."

 

Miranda's voice is so firm and so desperate that Andy can't help but comply. Her entire body convulses in long, hard pulses and she screams, the pleasure so intense that everything is black and filled with light all at once. The elastic of her underwear digs uncomfortably at her wrist and her back is cramped and she's pretty sure she's kicked something, but nothing else matters but the tension oozing from her body.

 

Andy opens her eyes again, blinking back the fuzziness. She relaxes her back, slumping back against her chair. She leaves her hand in her pants, not having anything handy on which to wipe the copious moisture. She feels more sated than she has in a long time.

 

She's also fully awake and slightly mortified that she just got her rocks off in front of her boss.

 

Miranda runs a shaking hand through her hair and licks her lips. "I…I can't be here right now."

 

"Are you okay, Miranda?" Andy asks. She put them in an awkward position. What the hell was she thinking?

                   

"No," Miranda responds. She looks like she's about to shatter.

 

Before Andy can say anything, Miranda flips off her camera and disappears. She drops her head back against the chair with a groan. "Fuck my life," Andy says.

 

---

 

Andy's first instinct is to call in sick. She can't bear the thought of facing Miranda today, largely because she feels she may die of embarrassment. Making a spectacle of herself seems to have become a habit. She wants to crawl under a subway train.

 

She doesn't stay home. She gives herself a pep talk from the moment she starts applying her makeup and doesn't stop until she's about to step out of the elevator and into the pristine, polished hell that is Runway. She probably looked like a freak show to all of the passersby, but it doesn't compare to what she'll look like when she sees Miranda.

 

Emily's already at work, clipping together a stack of papers as she nods curtly to Andy. Andy smiles back, hoping it looks genuine and upbeat rather than terrified. She doesn't want to let Emily on to the fact that her altercation with Miranda is likely to be a train wreck. If Miranda had treated her oddly when they hadn't even kissed, what the hell would she be like now?

                                                              

Andy doesn't have long until she finds out. As she is firing off a series of emails to various designers and investors that Miranda will meet with on her upcoming trip to Barcelona, the elevators ding and Emily takes off to meet her.

 

Andy holds her breath. She wants to crawl under her desk and take cover.

 

The air changes when Miranda strides into the outer office. As she strips herself of her jacket and bag, she looks squarely at Andy. "Good morning, Andrea."

 

Andy squeaks and Miranda disappears into her office.

 

So. Miranda is going to keep to her word, despite what happened.

 

Has hell frozen over?

 

Andy isn't quite sure what to do now. She had been perfectly content working under the assumption that Miranda would be ignoring her completely. But now? Andy looks longingly at the small cubby beneath her desk and hopes for one of those 1950s bomb sirens to go off.

 

Andy feels tense and weird and awkward for most of the day. Miranda is being suspiciously friendly and though she hasn't looked Andy in the eye since this morning, she's at least talking to her. Miranda also has not been alone with her. It's like she's afraid that Andy might do something inappropriate, like jump her in the middle of a run through and have her way with her. The mere thought causes a shiver to run down Andy's back. Much as she wouldn't like to have Nigel and Jocelyn watching, she's pretty sure she wouldn't care if the entire Elias-Clarke building were in attendance.

 

She spends the better part of the day contemplating what will happen with Miranda now. She doesn't have long to wait. In the early afternoon, Emily realizes that she's forgotten to pick something up from the Closet. Andy foolishly offers to fetch it while Emily fields a call from Lagerfeld. She's not sure why she offers to save Emily's ass but is grateful for the distracting errand. Miranda's meeting with Nigel, so Andy takes her time.

 

The girls who work in the Closet are not the friendliest bunch. Hate is a strong word but she really, really doesn't like them. Emily had called ahead to let them know that Andy would be picking up the skirts that Miranda requested, and they inform her upon her arrival that the skirts have turned up missing. After giving a glare that would make even Miranda shudder, Andy disappears into one of the small aisle ways between the racks of clothing in search of them.

 

"Stupid girls," Andy mutters, pulling out one of the skirts. She is looking for a similar skirt to the one she is already holding. "Can't just use this one...look exactly the same...will never understand..."

 

Through her muttering, she has not realized that the Closet has gone quiet. She has not realized that someone is standing behind her.

 

She jumps out of her skin when she turns around and sees Miranda standing beside her with a bemused expression on her face.

 

"Having a lovely conversation, are we?"

 

"Uhm...I'm sorry...I didn't know..."

 

Miranda waves her hand dismissively. "I need these skirts. Now."

 

"Oh. Right." Andy holds out the one in her hand. "The other one has been...misplaced."

 

"I'd be delighted to know why they are in the Closet as opposed to my office."

 

Andy opens her mouth to explain, but Miranda shakes her head. "Don't bother," she says.

 

Miranda takes the skirt from Andy, her hand brushing against Andy's bare arm. She freezes and looks up at Miranda. Miranda's breath catches in her throat.

 

"Miranda--"

 

"Shh," Miranda snaps. She licks her lips.

 

"I'm sorry about last night," Andy whispers.

 

Miranda's eyes are pleading. "I can't discuss this."

 

Andy opens her mouth to speak, closes it, and then exhales. "I should, um, find that other skirt…"

 

"Yes."

 

Andy motions to move past Miranda but Miranda does not move. She's fixed in her spot, her body tense and rigid as Andy brushes past her. Miranda gasps, licks her lips, and involuntarily jerks her head towards Andy's.

 

Andy can't move, can't breathe. All that exists in this moment are Miranda's pleading eyes and lips that are hovering painfully close to her own.

 

She trembles as she brushes her bottom lip against Miranda's. Miranda does nothing but gasp and shudder against her and as she tilts her head to fuse their mouths together, a noise from a far corner of the Closet causes them both to jump away.

 

Miranda clears her throat. "This skirt will do just fine," she snaps, her eyes confused and anxious. She turns on her heel and disappears out of the aisle.

 

Andy stomps her foot impatiently and bites her lip until it stings with pain.

 

---

 

Lucky for both Andy and Miranda, Miranda's got meetings that last her for the better part of the day. Early in the afternoon she leaves word with Andy, without being able to look her in the eye, that she is meeting with the shareholders and that she is not to be disturbed under any circumstances.

                                                     

Andy almost feels bad for Miranda. She knows that Miranda regards these meetings with nothing but antipathy and will end up in a thunderous mood afterwards. She makes a note to have a coffee waiting and decides that she actually feels worse for herself because she will have to bear the brunt of her bad mood. The only good thing, she decides, about Miranda's cold shoulder is that she's been exempt from Miranda's little tantrums.

 

As she taps her pencil mercilessly against a pad of post-its to stave off some of the tension in her body, the phone rings.

 

"Miranda Priestly's office."

 

"Is my mom there?"

 

Shit. Oh Shit. "Caroline? Or is this Cassidy?"

 

"Cassidy. Is she there? She didn't pick up her cell phone."

 

"She's in a really important meeting right now. Is there an emergency, Cassidy?"

 

There are muffled voices and the passing of the phone between hands. "No."

 

"Is this Caroline?"

 

"Yea."

 

"What are you doing out of school so early?"

 

"There was some pipe burst in the kitchens or something," Caroline says, sounding bored. "They had to let us out early."

 

"Oh." Andy has no idea what to do. "Should I call--"

 

"We already let Allison know," Caroline adds, referring to the nanny. "You can't get mom?"

 

"I don't think leaving school early qualifies as an emergency when you will have your nanny to look after you."

 

Caroline gives an exasperated sigh. "This is Andy, right?"

 

"Yes."

 

"You're like mom's right hand person or whatever, right?"

 

Andy tries not to blush but then remembers that the twins can't see her. "You could say that."

 

"Don't be modest. Mom hates that."

 

"Sorry," Andy mumbles.

 

The phone changes hands again. "We need you to tell mom something and you can't let anyone else hear it, okay?"

 

"Are you sure you wouldn't rather tell her when she gets home?"

 

"We have lessons later. We won't see her till late."

 

"All right. I can give her the message. What do you want me to tell her?"

 

"You have to promise only to tell our mom when she's alone, okay?"

 

"I promise," Andy says, wondering how the hell she'll manage to corner Miranda long enough without Miranda calling for a chaperone.

 

"We saw," Cassidy lowers her voice and Andy has to strain to hear her, "Stephen."

 

"Okay…"

 

Cassidy sighs impatiently. Andy can practically hear her roll her eyes. "We saw him at home. He's supposed to be at work."

 

Andy raises her eyebrows. She has no idea what to make of this but she can tell by the tone of Cassidy's voice that it's not going to result in a positive outcome. Before Andy can ask what exactly that means, Caroline takes the phone.

 

"He was with his secretary."

 

"Oh."

 

"He was really surprised to see us and acted really weird and left really quickly."

 

"And he didn't have his briefcase with him!" adds another voice.

 

Despite the weight of what they've just said, Andy can't help but smile at the thought of them huddled together with the phone between them.

 

"And he did that pat on the head thing, which is what he does when he's being really fake and trying to look fatherly. Even though he doesn't care about us."

 

"Yea."

 

"I see," Andy replies, choosing her words carefully. "Are you sure--"

 

"Yes," one twin whines. "And mom told us to tell her if we notice anything odd about Stephen."

 

Andy's eyebrows shoot up. Miranda keeping an eye on Stephen? Suspecting him of infidelity? Damn.

 

"You'll tell her, right?"

 

"Yes. As soon as she's out of her meeting."

 

"Thanks."

 

"Oh! Allison's here. Thanks Andy!"

 

"Yea, thanks!" The lines goes dead.

 

Andy hangs up at the phone and stares for several minutes. This is her life. This circus has become her life and she is completely under the ringleader's control. She entertains the thought of running away to join the Peace Corps.

 

Passing the time until Miranda's meeting is over should, under normal circumstances, be no problem. There should be mountains of work to do and errands to run, but today is a slow day. Andy is cursing the assistant gods for deciding to smile upon her today of all days.

 

She thinks about Miranda almost kissing her at work. Where anyone could have seen her.

 

She thinks about last night and what she did in front of Miranda.

 

She thinks about how Stephen might be cheating on Miranda.

 

She can't help but dwell on Stephen and what the implications would be. When she'd spoken to the twins on Miranda's webcam, they didn't seem overly friendly about him. The stigma attached to stepfathers nowadays tends to suggest a fair bit of animosity given the high divorce rate, but wouldn't there be some sort of affection?

 

Andy never really liked the guy. She doesn't know him but anyone who would put so little time and effort and understanding into a relationship with a goddess like Miranda…Andy hates him for that. Hates him for having Miranda when she can't. Hates him for deciding that someone else could be more enticing.

 

That is a thought that blows Andy's mind. How could anyone be attracted to anyone but Miranda? She's never felt this way about someone before and she can't wrap her mind around the fact that every single person in Manhattan might not feel the same way.

 

She checks the clock. She knows that the meeting is scheduled to be over within the next fifteen minutes, so Andy uses the time to fetch another coffee for Miranda. It's definitely hot enough; a drop escapes the hole in the cover and scalds her knuckle.

 

By the time she gets back to the building, the meeting is breaking up. She can hear the voices down the hall; of the voices she can actually make out, they all seem pretty jovial. That's good. A successful meeting means that Miranda may be in a better mood which means that…

 

"I will take my messages and a fresh Starbucks," Miranda orders, sweeping past the assistants and entering her office.

 

Andy clutches her notepad and the steaming cup of coffee and follows her.

 

"Are you the Bionic Woman?" Miranda asks as she accepts the Starbucks cup from Andy's extended hand.

 

"No. Just anticipated that you'd want one."

 

"How perceptive."

 

"I'm getting pretty good at figuring you out."

 

Miranda's cheeks grow slightly pink. It makes the pit of Andy's belly tingle.

 

"Messages?"

 

Andy rattles off a list of people who called, all demanding Miranda's attention for mundane, unimportant things. Miranda sighs and rolls her eyes. "Anything else? Something worth my time, perhaps?"

 

"Uh, yes." Andy takes a bracing breath. "The twins called."

 

Miranda's eyes flash. "The twins? And why did you not alert me immediately?"

 

Oh shit. Andy drops the notebook on the desk and shuts the door to Miranda's office. "They said it wasn't an emergency," Andy says, sitting down.

 

Miranda's eyebrows shoot up at Andy's presumption. "Should that not be the decision of the parent?"

 

Andy sits for fear of collapsing, ignoring Miranda's comment. "There was a burst pipe in the kitchens at Dalton, so the students were sent home early. They had called their nanny before calling here."

 

Miranda relaxes a little. "They're fine?"

 

Andy nods enthusiastically. Miranda reaches for her cell phone. "They wanted me to remind you about their lessons," she says, watching Miranda's hand retract to her lap.

 

"Did they have anything else to say?"

 

Andy nods, hesitating.

 

"Well?"

 

Andy scoots closer to the edge of her chair, looking over her shoulder to assure herself that the door is closed. "They insisted that I deliver a message to you instead of waiting until you got home. I didn't really feel comfortable taking the message because I think it's better that you hear it from them as opposed to me--"

 

"Stop rambling. What is it?"

 

"The twins saw Stephen," Andy blurts. She wants to hide behind her chair while the message sinks into Miranda's brain.

 

"That's hardly surprising, given that they live in the same house."

 

Andy's face burns. "Right. But…they saw him there in the middle of the afternoon with, uh, his secretary." She pauses, waiting for Miranda to react. Miranda does nothing but lean back in her chair, steeple her fingers, and watch Andy. "They said he acted weird and, um, didn't have his briefcase."

 

"I see. Is that all?"

 

Andy nods.

 

"Thank you for your discretion."

 

"Of course, Miranda…I would never--"

 

"Don't you have work to do?"

 

Andy hangs her head, a lump forming in her throat. She knows better than to take her abrupt dismissal personally but does anyway. "Right. Um. Is there--"

 

"Andrea," Miranda says, her eyes pleading. "Please..."

 

"I'm sorry, Miranda." Andy quickly crosses to the door. As she reaches for the handle, she pauses and looks at Miranda, who is staring at her Starbucks. "He doesn't deserve you, you know."

 

Miranda looks pointedly. "I know."

 

---

 

Unsurprisingly, Miranda is in a foul mood throughout the following day. She snaps at everyone, even Nigel, and most people do their damnedest to stay out of Miranda's way. Emily and Andy bear the brunt of her crappy mood but Andy reasons that she has it slightly better than the first assistant because she is actually privy to the details.

 

Andy can't stop thinking about what might have happened between Miranda and her husband when she returned home. Did Miranda confront him? Did she raise her voice and tell him he's made a fool of her? Did she ignore it? Andy is itching to know but she knows better than to ask.

 

The only indication as to what transpired between Miranda and Stephen comes right before lunch, when Miranda calls her into her office.

 

"Should Stephen call," Miranda says, eyes flicking to the door, "I am unavailable. I do not wish to speak to him. Do what you must, but make sure his calls do not reach this office."

 

"Yes, Miranda." Andy nods. She drops her wrist from where it's poised above the notebook. She does not write this down. Miranda appears to be pleased. She can't help but stare, questions racing through her mind like little devils.

 

"He returned home last night after I was in bed. Worked late,” she adds with a sneer.

 

Andy blinks at the proffered information.

 

"That's all."

 

Andy returns to her desk and prays silently that Stephen won't call. She can't stand the thought of hearing the man's voice.

 

It is therefore neither a shock nor a surprise when, two hours later, Andy's "Miranda Priestly's office" is answered by Stephen's haughty voice.

 

"This is her husband. Put me through."

 

"I'm sorry, sir, but Ms. Priestly is not available."

 

"Listen, honey, this is her husband. I'm not some fairy designer trying to hold her hand. She won't pick up her cell or on her private line, so run like a good little girl and get her for me."

 

Andy holds her breath, counting in her head. Her hand clenches around the receiver. Too bad he wouldn't feel it if she threw the phone. "Ms. Priestly. Does. Not. Wish. To. Be. Disturbed. And do not call me 'honey.'" She slams the phone down and taps her foot anxiously, attempting to purge some of the fury running through her veins.

 

She doesn't realize she's had her eyes clenched tightly until Emily clears her throat. She opens her eyes and stares at the redhead, whose eyebrows are raised.

 

"What the bloody hell was that?" Emily asks.

 

"No one."

 

"Well it was obviously someone."

 

"It was just some jerk off demanding to speak to her. She left me strict orders not to let him through. 'Nuff said."

 

"Well, I'm sure--"

 

Andy glares at Emily, which causes the redhead to clamp her mouth shut. Andy is grateful for small mercies and brushes her hair out of her face.

 

"Andrea."

 

Andy takes a bracing breath and stalks into Miranda's office. She tries some deep breathing techniques that she learned in a few yoga classes in an attempt to calm down. She feels as though she could tear someone's head off.

 

"I've just received a very interesting email from my husband," Miranda says, her voice low. Her face is blank and impossible to read.

                       

Andy's gesture all but challenges Miranda to continue.

 

"He demanded that I speak to him and after his barbaric display of masculinity, he requested that I fire my rude, belligerent assistant."

 

That asshole. If Andy ever sees him, she's going to claw his eyes out. "He's a jerk, Miranda. He insulted me, he insulted you, and he insulted your job. Fire me if you want, but I won't apologize for sticking up for any of that, especially not you."

 

"I'm very impressed at the lengths to which you'll go on my behalf," Miranda says, the corners of her mouth perking up in a hint of a smile.

 

"It shouldn't really come as a surprise to you, Miranda."

 

"And yet, you are full of surprises, aren't you?" Miranda's eyes slowly pan from Andy's face to her feet. Andy feels naked and shudders, her body clenching tight. "We should…speak. Tonight. Will you be available?"

 

Andy blushes hard and clears her throat. "Yes. Um. Yea, late. I have a thing to go to but yea…I'll be around. If you want me to be." Her anger has dissipated and she feels as though she is on the verge of combustion. She hopes she won't actually burst into flames; she can hardly imagine Miranda having to explain that to HR.

 

"I'll hardly be available at an early hour. The twins have insisted upon a movie night."

 

Andy grins. "Whatcha watching?"

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "Some abominable children's movie, no doubt. I must work on that; they should watch movies with substance."

 

Andy's ears perk up. "Oh? Such as?"

 

Miranda raises an eyebrow and smirks. "I mustn't give away all of my secrets. You'll have to wait and find out what my taste in movies includes."

 

"I'm betting you're a Katherine Hepburn kinda gal."

 

"Are you the gambling type, Andrea?"

 

"I've been known to take a few chances when it counts." Andy beams.

 

Miranda returns the smile. "I'm pleased to hear that."

                                

Andy blushes and tries to avoid shuffling her feet. She hears Nigel in the outer office and remembers that he is meeting with Miranda shortly.

 

"Thank you, Andrea," Miranda says quietly. "We shall talk more in depth tonight."

 

Andy can hardly wait.

 

---

 

Andy loves Doug, she really does, but being stuck in a smoky bar with thirty of his closest friends is making it difficult. She's exchanged all of six words with him ("Happy Birthday, Dougie! You look great!) and is now stuck nursing a sex on the beach while he basks in the attention of his friends.

 

Even Lily is missing in action, paying the bulk of her attention to a new guy she's been seeing. Andy doesn’t really like him; he seems like kind of an ass, but she wants Lily to be happy so she's kept her mouth shut.

 

She considers sneaking out. She's pretty sure that neither of them would even notice if she left. This doesn't even really count as Doug's birthday celebration; he doesn't turn 28 until the following week, and when the day arrives Lily and Andy will surprise him with a cake and a bottle of pink champagne. This…this is just a circus. Andy's not much for bar hopping and is certainly not a fan of getting trashed and indulging in reckless behavior. Andy's also pretty sure that Lily's attempting to talk her beau into introducing one of his friends to Andy, and she's really not down with that.

                                                                                                              

What Andy really wants is to get home, slip into something slightly flimsy, and wait until Miranda is around. She's incredibly anxious to find out what's on her mind and is ashamed to admit that her body is craving another erotic encounter.

 

She shivers and grins into her drink, sucking the straw between her teeth. She looks at her watch; it's still a little too early to make her escape and so she blinks through the smoke and watches the crowd around her. She sees Lily making out with her guy friend and Doug talking to Nate and--

 

Andy's stomach plummets into her shoes. Nate's here? Lily didn't mention that Nate would be present, and the very thought of actually talking to him face to face is a little more than she can handle. She scans the crowd for signs of his girlfriend and breathes a strained sigh of relief to notice that she's not around.

 

She swiftly knocks back the rest of her drink and sets the glass on the counter. She grabs her clutch and takes the long way around the bar, bypassing a few groups of people and a couple of drunk slobs before she reaches the door. She looks quickly over her shoulder; she doesn't think she's been spotted.

 

When she's sitting in the back of a stale, musty cab, she takes a sigh of relief. It's childish to run away from the ex, especially considering the fact that her feelings for him are now relegated to the past, but she can't actually imagine facing him. She can't look him in the eye and shake his hand and congratulate him for rushing into the next big adventure of his life.

 

Andy doesn't understand him. He hated the fact that she changed because of her job. He was so scared of the possibility that things might adapt to fit the changing world around them that he cut and run, and now look at him. Having a baby with a girl he might not even love.


She feels sorry for him.

 

She pays the driver, climbs out of the cab, and heads into her apartment. She wonders what Miranda and the girls are watching, and wonders if Stephen is watching too. She wonders if Miranda likes classic movies, or indie films, or foreign films.

 

As Andy turns on the shower and steps inside, she realizes that she would like nothing more in that moment than to be watching a French movie with Miranda, curled up on a couch with a bottle of wine.

 

Once she's washed the smoke and grime of the bar off of her body, Andy wraps the towel snugly around her chest and checks her computer. No sign of Miranda. She leaves her camera on, not opposed to the idea that Miranda may take her seat and watch her in a state of undress. The notion gives her a little jolt. She sits on the edge of her bed and begins to brush out the tangles in her hair, humming to herself.

 

There's a knock at the door.

 

She frowns. She can't imagine who it would be at this hour and considers not answering it. The knocking persists and against her better judgment, she opens the door.

 

Nate's sheepish grin greets her. "Can I come in?"

 

Andy gapes. "Uh…how did you get in?"

 

"Passed Mrs. Litman as she was leaving."

 

"Figures," Andy sighs, standing aside to allow Nate to enter. She's not too keen on showing off her towel-clad form to whoever may be passing by. "She always did like you."

 

"You took off from the bar," Nate says, sitting down at the table. He looks at Andy and smiles. "Lily and Doug said you'd be there."

 

"Funny," Andy replies, "they didn't mention a thing about you being there."

 

"Is that a bad thing?"

 

"It's…weird. What are you doing here, Nate?"

 

"I came up for the weekend. I thought Doug might appreciate the surprise for his birthday."

 

"Yea, which isn't until next week," Andy responds. She crosses her arms in front of her chest, holding the towel to her drying body. She feels really exposed standing in front of him like this. "Stay in here so I can change."

 

"It's not like I haven't seen it before," Nate answers.

 

"You have some other naked girl to look at. You don't need to look at me anymore."

 

"Aah. Still weird about that, huh?"

 

"What do you expect me to be?" Andy asks, quickly stepping into a pair of panties. "You dumped me and two seconds later hopped into bed with someone else. What am I supposed to do, pat you on the back and give you a high five?"

 

"Harmony's a good girl," Nate offers lamely. He says nothing else and as Andy shrugs into her bathrobe and shimmies until the towel drops to the floor, she tells him to stop.

 

"I really don't need to hear about this."

 

"Andy, I just…" He gets up from the table and stands in the doorway to the bedroom, watching her as she picks up the towel. "I feel weird about how we left things."

 

"Yea, well, relationships end. People move on. You certainly did."

 

"And what about you, Andy? Have you moved on?"

 

Andy tries to hide her blush. "That's none of your business anymore."

 

"I'm not a bad guy, Andy. We used to have a good time together and things…changed. I'm trying to do the right thing."

 

"Fine, whatever, but what about doing the right thing means you have to ambush me in my apartment?"

 

Nate looks uncomfortably at his shoes. "I think about you a lot."

 

"That's not my problem."

 

"I miss you sometimes, Andy. Can't we be friends?"

 

"I don't know, Nate. I really don't. I can't make those kinds of promises to you anymore."

 

"All right. Well…think about it, okay? I'll get out of your hair and maybe we can see each other some time this weekend."

 

"Yea…maybe." Or not.

 

"Can I have a hug?"

 

Andy rolls her eyes.

 

"I won't leave till you hug me. Totally a fair trade."

 

She rolls her eyes again and walks into his open arms. He smells the same, feels the same…is the same. All of a sudden she wants to cry and throw up. He kisses the top of her head. "G'bye, Andy."

 

Andy watches him leave and sits on the edge of her bed, dropping her face in her hands. What the hell was that? And why does she feel like she can't breathe?

 

She takes a few deep breaths and keeps the tears at bay. He's not worth crying over. She remembers what Miranda had said when they first broke up, when they first kissed, and reminds herself that she doesn't need someone like that in her life.

 

She needs someone like Miranda.

 

Miranda.

 

Andy holds her breath and looks at the computer screen. The screen to her black webcam box is no longer empty; Andy can see the inside of Miranda's study. Miranda is not there.

 

"Fuck!" Andy bolts upright and scrambles for her phone. She dials Miranda's number and swears again when she is sent directly to voice mail. "Miranda, please pick up. I need to explain what you saw. Call me."

 

She hangs up the phone, drops it on the bed, and paces for several moments before calling Miranda back. "Miranda, seriously. Pick up the phone."

 

Andy wants to sob now and as she rips off the bathrobe and shakily jumps into a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, she has half a mind believing that she might really be in Hell.

 

She can't let this happen. She needs to fix this.

 

Andy grabs her keys and her wallet and bolts out the door, not stopping until she's out of breath and hailing a cab. It's beginning to rain and she is getting soaked. Every cab under the sun is oblivious to her desperation and she swears and stomps and gives grand theft auto a thought before a taxi finally slows down in front of her. She gives the man Miranda's address and sits back, tapping her fingers along her knees. 

 

She instructs him to pull up a few houses down from the townhouse and begs him to wait for her. He nods, his eyes greedily flicking to the ticking meter beside him.

 

Andy runs down the block, skipping up the steps to the townhouse door. She knocks, praying that Stephen doesn't answer. She holds her breath and knocks again and squirms where she stands, not knowing what she'll do if Miranda refuses to see her.

 

The door rips open and Miranda glares at her. "Are you insane?" she hisses, stepping onto the stoop. "I have two sleeping girls and a husband prowling around, and you're throwing yourself at my doorstep?"

 

"Miranda, I needed to talk to you."

 

"I saw plenty. I don't think there's anything left to say."

 

"Yes there is!" Andy cries frantically. The rain whips down into her face and she shakes her hair off of her cheeks. "I turned him away. It's done between us. Nate and I…we're completely over."

 

"It certainly appeared that way," Miranda responds dryly, her eyes blazing. "Leave my home. I expect you to never show up like this again."

 

"Miranda."

 

"This conversation is finished."

 

Andy wants to scream, wants to cry, wants to throw herself at Miranda's feet. Every part of her brain cries "Like hell it is" and before Andy can decide on a way to make Miranda listen to reason, she grabs her face and kisses her.

 

Miranda is too shocked to react and Andy uses the moment to press Miranda back against the front door, ducking their heads out of the way of the quickening rain. Her heart pounds in her chest and the blood roars in her ears as her lips pass over Miranda's.

 

Andy doesn't care that her soaking wet body is pressed against Miranda's and she doesn't care that Miranda is married or that her husband is right inside. She doesn't care about anything except Miranda's hands on her waist and the feel of her tongue as it seeks access into her mouth, which Andy willingly grants. She closes her eyes and takes her fill, knowing that at the first meeting of their tongues that it will never be enough to satiate the force of her need.

 

"Oh Miranda," Andy sighs, pulling her lips away when the need to breathe overcomes her. She nuzzles her nose against Miranda's cheek. "It's you, Miranda. Only you. I can't stop…I need…I want you, Miranda, and no one else."

 

"This is madness," Miranda exhales, gripping harder at Andy's waist. She pulls Andy in for another kiss, her lips tentative and nervous and they touch briefly once, twice, before Miranda is pushing Andy away. "You have to go. Please, Andrea. I need you to go."

 

"Miranda, please don't send me away."

 

"There is no alternative." Miranda passes her fingers over her mouth, wiping away the smudged lipstick, and smoothes the hair out of her face. She looks sadly, wildly, at Andy and goes inside.

 

---

 

Staring at the wall is fast becoming Andy's favorite hobby. She wants to write a love letter to the inventor of the caller ID; she's successfully avoided three calls from Nate, two from Doug and Lily each, and one from her parents. She doesn't want to talk to them. She only wants to talk to the one person she knows won't call.

 

She hasn't eaten all day. She should get up and make a sandwich but can't be bothered. There's a fascinating crack in her ceiling that she is positive hasn't been there for long. She should call her landlord.

 

The phone rings again and she blankly stares at the small screen. Runway.

 

Andy's heart jumps into her throat and she answers it quickly, not stopping to consider the fact that calls from Miranda come from her cell. "Hello?"

 

"How'd you like to earn some OT and spend some quality time with your good buddy Nigel?"

 

Andy's heart sinks back into place and she groans into the phone. "Are you really asking, or do I not have a say in the matter?"

 

"You technically don't answer to me so I can't force you, but I'm begging you…please don't make me ask anyone else. I think you're the only sane person left at Runway."

 

Andy forces a dry laugh. "Ha! Sane. Right."

 

"Please, Six? I'm not too proud to beg."

 

"Nigel, I really don't feel like trying to be pretty today."

 

"I just need you to help organize my office. It's a mess. No prettiness required."

 

"Gee, thanks, Nige."

 

"Not that you aren't already pretty."

 

"Too late. Killed the moment. Don't believe you."

 

"It'll just be you and me. You can wear sweats for all I care."

 

"Yea…and that'll be the moment when Miranda decides to come in on a weekend."

 

"No chance of that happening. She's gone away for the weekend."

 

"What?"

 

"She didn't tell you?"

 

"Obviously not." Andy feels her stomach coil into a fist, repeatedly punching against her gut. "Where'd she go?"

 

"Didn't say. Just said that she and Stephen would be gone for the weekend and not to bother her unless the building was on fire."

 

"Oh." The world around Andy begins to tilt.

 

"And good riddance too, right? She's been on such a tear lately that maybe all she needs is a good lay."

 

Bile begins to rise in her throat.

 

"So whaddya say, Six? Will you be my knight in shining armor?"

 

"I…gonna be sick…" Andy disconnects the call and barely makes it to the toilet before she throws up. She heaves the contents of her stomach into the bowl, flushes, and begins to sob.

 

---

 

If Andy weren't hiding from the rest of the world, she'd call her mother and ask if insanity runs in the family at all. It must. She feels like she's going completely batty and can't do a damn thing to stop it.

 

Since talking to Nigel that morning, she's thrown up twice, cried incessantly, and has even broken a few of her things. Smashing the casserole dish didn't help as much as she would have thought: she ended up cleaning it up right away and managed to slice her leg with a shard of glass.

 

Only an insane person would be upset at the thought of a woman trying to resurrect her marriage. She should look up to Miranda for that, shouldn't she? She should be impressed that a woman as proud as Miranda would attempt to overlook her husband's infidelities in order to save their marriage.

 

But she's not.

 

She's hurt and angry and sad and doesn't know what to do.

 

She groans into the lumpy couch cushion. She doesn't want to think about Miranda. She doesn't want to feel these things anymore.

 

Andy knows she's a goner.

 

She's falling into something a lot like love and she knows that no one will be there to catch her.

 

She kicks petulantly at the arm of the couch. It creaks and she quickly retracts her legs. The last thing she needs is for the couch to give up and collapse on her. It's on its last leg anyway; she really should look around on Craig's List for a new one. Nate had found this one when they first moved. It was their first piece of furniture. The bed had been in the apartment already: they'd been lucky enough to rent it partly-furnished. They had been so proud and so excited to own something together, like real adults, ready to embark on an exciting adventure.

 

So much for that.

 

She really should redecorate the place, maybe replace some of the odds and ends and make it more unique to her own personality. After all, Andy's the only one who's gonna see it.

 

At that moment, fate decides to kick her in the shins when a knock sounds at the door.

 

She thinks about ignoring it.

 

"Your knight in shining Armani is here," the voice calls, rapping once again at the door.

 

Nigel. Andy sighs and heaves herself off the couch, not caring that she probably looks and smells like she crawled out of a swamp.

 

"Oh my, you must be sick," Nigel says, thrusting a plastic bag at her. He invites himself in.

 

Andy looks in the bag at a small Styrofoam container.

 

"It's soup. You sounded a little under the weather."

 

"Thanks," she says, dropping the bag on the table. "What happened to your work?"

 

He shrugs. "I'm procrastinating."

 

Andy offers a bland smile.

 

"I'm worried about you, Six," Nigel states, pressing a palm to her forehead. "Not feverish. That's good, right?"

 

"I guess so." Andy sits back on the couch. "Wouldn't make much difference if I was."

 

"Ooooooh," he whistles, "I get what this is. It's a love thing, isn't it?"

 

Andy's head whips around to look at him so fast that she sees stars. "What? No. What gave you that idea?"

 

"You did. Just now."

 

Andy slumps back into the couch. She really needs to work on not being so damn obvious. "I'll get over it."

 

"Who says you need to get over it?"

 

"I do. It's so unbelievably bad for me, Nigel…but I just can't seem to help myself."

 

"So your head's telling you one thing and your heart's telling you something different?"

 

"Yep."

 

"Listen, kid…love's a trip. Whoever this guy is that's got you hooked is lucky; I'd kill to have someone feel that way about me."

 

Andy doesn't have the heart to correct him.

 

When she doesn't respond, Nigel continues.

 

"Look, obviously I have no idea what's going on with you since you've so kindly neglected to give me the details--not that I'm prying or anything--but it's got to be something special if you're all worked up about it. We don't feel like this for the ones who aren't worth it, you know?"

 

Andy blinks.

 

"I've noticed an extra spring in your step lately…it can't be all bad, can it?"

 

"It's…complicated."

 

"Kid, what isn't?"

 

"Good point."

 

"I know. I'm regular old fairy godmother, aren't I?"           

 

Andy smiles for the first time in what feels like days. "You are. I'm not going to turn back into a pumpkin now, am I?"

 

Nigel presses his finger to his lip in thought. "Tell you what. You have a stab at a real Prince Charming, so if you don't take the chance at finding some happiness in this godforsaken city, I'll turn you into the most shriveled, unappealing pumpkin in the bunch."

 

"I don't know how to stab at it, Nige…I don't think this person has me on their mind at all."

 

"They'd be a fool not to."

 

Andy blushes slightly, holding back the desire to point out that Nigel's just called Miranda a fool.

 

"Now, listen to Aunty Nigel and get yourself geared up for another fun-filled week at work. Take the rest of the weekend to figure out a plan of attack and get it together long enough to show whoever this guy is that you are a strong woman who won't crumble under a bit of pressure."

 

"All right."

 

"You better not just be saying that to get me out of this charming abode."

 

Andy gives him a glare.

 

"Okay, okay, I'm going."

 

"Thanks for the soup."

 

"Not a problem. Just get yourself together so we can both be spectators to Miranda's hopefully improved mood when she gets into work on Monday."

 

Andy frowns and forces a nod, watching as he lets himself out. Her stomach rumbles and she considers the soup on the table.

 

How the hell is Andy going to fight for a woman who doesn't want to be won?

 

---

 

When Andy wakes up on Monday morning, it's with a firm determination that she is going to figure out what's going on with Miranda once and for all. Women who want to make their marriages work with scumbag, asshole husbands do not kiss their female assistants like they're going to die if they don't.

 

She spent the remainder of the weekend gearing herself up for this and now she's ready to take some names and kick some ass and…

 

As Andy steps out of bed and puts her weight on her legs, she winces in pain. She scrambles for the light and, once a filtered yellow glow illuminates the room, she looks for the source of her pain.

 

Her cut, from where she knelt on the broken piece of casserole dish, is puffy and red. The bandaid that she had placed over the wound has all but fallen off. It had hurt yesterday pretty badly but she just assumed it was a normal cut.

 

This isn't normal.

 

She picks up the phone and quickly punches in numbers. She presses at the cut and hisses as pain shoots down her leg.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Mom, it's Andy."

 

"Hi, honey! I was just thinking about you when I was putting the kettle on…remember that time--"

 

"Mom, what's it mean if a cut is all swollen and red?"

 

"What kind of cut?"

 

"Uh…a glass broke two days ago and when I was cleaning up, a shard cut my leg."

 

"Did you get it all out?"

 

"I think I did."

 

"You may still have a bit stuck in there. Sounds like it could be infected, sweetie."

 

"Dammit," Andy groaned.

 

"I'd get over to the doctor as soon as possible, missy…and be more careful!"

 

Andy sighed. "All right. Thanks."

 

"Call me later and let me know that you're all right."

 

"I will."

 

Andy hangs up and falls back onto the bed with an annoyed snort. So much for her mighty plan. She gets up again, hobbling around to put on a pair of loose yoga pants and a sweater. After making herself presentable for public, Andy heads out into the foggy New York morning.

 

While she hails a cab, she calls Runway.

 

"Miranda Priestly's office."

 

"Hey Em, it's Andy."

 

"Make it quick; I've got a thousand things to get ready for when you get here--"

 

"About that…"

 

"Do not tell me you're taking a sick day."

 

"Not exactly. Look, I've got to go to the ER and I have no idea how long it's going to take. It's nothing serious though."

 

"Well, thank you very much for spoiling my morning."

 

Andy frowns into her phone. "Maybe you'll be lucky and they'll have to amputate my leg. Then I'll be gone for weeks."

 

She can practically hear Emily's eye roll. "Fine then. Get your issues sorted out and text me if you'll be longer than two hours. You'll be totally useless."

 

"I'll try my best. I owe you one."

 

"You owe me many more than one."

 

The line goes dead as Andy all but crawls into the back of a cab.

 

---

 

Three hours and forty-five minutes later, Andy is finally home. After probably catching every contagious disease known to man during her stint in the waiting room, she had been seen by a very kind doctor who quickly pulled out the miniscule piece of glass, cleaned the would, and heaped copious amounts of antibiotic cream on the cut before bandaging it. He told her to look into plastic dishware and sent her on her way.

 

She feels like an idiot for getting herself into this mess in the first place. Who takes their frustrations out on a casserole dish that did no harm in the first place? The dish had probably been sitting there, all minding its own business and staying out of the drama between the Tupperware, and Andy went and smashed its dreams of future cheese broccoli casseroles.

 

She slaps her forehead. Perhaps the glass did more damage than originally thought if she's now mourning the loss of a baking dish.

 

Andy rummages through the fridge for something to eat. She pulls out a pear and leans against the counter.

 

She feels weird not being at work. In the entire time she’s worked at Runway, Andy’s never taken a day off, not even the time she caught that horrible stomach bug. She supposes she’s grateful that she’s not in the office: it’ll give her one more day to prepare for seeing Miranda.

 

Her stomach flip-flips at the thought of her boss and she groans at her inability to refrain from thinking about her for longer than an hour.

 

For all of her determination and eagerness to get to the office earlier that morning, Andy has no idea what she would have actually done when she came face to face with Miranda. The very idea that Miranda could reappear and be glowing from her weekend away with her husband makes Andy’s stomach quiver nervously.

 

But she has to be a big girl. Miranda’s a married woman. She’s either in this weird, tumultuous sexual thing with Andy or she’s not.

 

Either way, Andy needs to know.

 

Thanks to her carelessness, Andy has to wait another day to find out one way or another.

 

She looks around the apartment and wonders what to do with herself. Her eyes settle upon the unmade bed and she grins.

 

Nap time it is.

 

She pulls off her sweater, crashes into her bed, and is asleep within minutes.

 

Andy wakes up thirty seconds later to the sound of quiet but insistent knocking at her door. She rubs her eyes and stares at the clock. It’s only 11:15. Who the hell’s at her door on a Monday?

 

I really must be sinking into hermit-dom, she thinks as she huffs out of bed. She looks in the mirror and fixes her ponytail before reaching for the doorknob.

 

When she sees Miranda Priestly standing on the other side of the door, her mouth drops and she gapes.

 

“I see you’re not dead.”

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“I was told that you spent the morning in the emergency room,” Miranda says, her eyes scanning Andy’s body, searching for injuries. She raises an eyebrow.

 

“I had an accident with a casserole dish,” Andy responds, lifting her pants to show Miranda the bandaged wound.

 

Miranda nods curtly, her eyes flashing with concern for a brief moment. “You don’t seem as though you needed a full day off of work for this.”

 

“Emily said she’d cover me. Actually, she said I’d be useless if I showed up late."

 

“And you chose to believe a secretary telling you that you’re useless to me?”

 

Andy’s flesh electrifies at the words. “Aren’t I?”

 

“You know very well that you’re not.” She pauses and looks around. “May I come in? I’d rather not have this conversation in your hallway.”

 

Andy steps back and allows Miranda to enter. “You’ll have to excuse the mess. I wasn’t expecting royalty.”

 

Miranda glares at Andy. “Are you medicated?”

 

“No,” Andy spits back, slamming the door behind her. “Pissed off.”

 

“Whatever for? I should be the angry one.”

 

Andy rolls her eyes and crosses her arms over her chest, realizing in that moment that she’s wearing a tank top. She wonders if Miranda has some sort of radar that alerts her to Andy’s states of undress. “Miranda, what are you doing here?”

 

Miranda clutches at her purse, walking to stand several paces away. “You didn’t have your webcam on this weekend.”

 

Andy’s jaw drops once again in shock. “I didn’t think you’d be online during your big romantic getaway.”

 

“Who told you that Stephen and I went away for the weekend?”

 

“What’s it matter? I know you went.”

 

“Is that what this is about?”

 

Andy shrugs, unable to look at Miranda. She stares at the clock, watching the hand tick slowly around its face.

 

“Let me attempt to understand the childish workings of your simple mind,” Miranda growls, tossing her purse haphazardly to the couch. “You are behaving like a child and punishing me for attempting to cling to a failing marriage?”

 

Andy looks at her then, watching as Miranda fumes in front of her. Her shoulders are shaking. “I’m not treating you like anything. What do you want me to do? Jump for joy because you snuck off for the weekend with your cheating husband?”

 

“I didn’t realize I needed your permission to spend time with the man I married.”

 

“It doesn’t matter what I think about it anyway. Did you two get your issues all sorted out? Did you fuck like newlyweds? Tell me, Miranda: did you think of me when he was on top of you?”

 

Color rises high upon Miranda’s cheeks. “What would you have me do, Andrea? Would you prefer that I break my vows and sleep with you?”

 

Andy blinks, not attempting to hide the shudder that courses down her spine.

 

Miranda’s hardened voice drops to a near-whisper. “I’m already unfaithful in my mind. Must I be unfaithful in body as well?”

 

Andy stares, unable to speak. When put to her in such a manner, Andy feels like she’s ignoring every aspect of what makes Miranda the type of woman she could easily fall for. She wants to crawl into a hole and hide from the confusion that’s tearing her apart from the inside out.

 

“No…Miranda…” she stares helplessly and takes a step closer. “I’m not some hormonal teenage boy looking for a lay! Don’t you see that this is about so much more than sex?” She closes her mouth, fearing that something else, like her heart, could leap out.

 

“Pray tell, Andrea: what is it about?” She squares her shoulders, the softness repealed quickly and replaced with walls higher than Andy is immediately prepared to climb. “Is this heroine worship? Some fledging excuse for feelings? Enlighten me.”

 

“Do you really, honestly believe that’s all it is? Hero worship? Jesus, Miranda! Contrary to popular belief, you’re not God. You’re a woman that I—“ she catches herself and fumbles for the right words. “You are the most complicated, infuriating woman that I’ve ever known, and despite that, I want to know you. I want to know more about you than what you take in your coffee or what you like to eat for lunch. I want to have conversations with you and watch movies with you and…” She slumps, staring at Miranda. “It’s about you, Miranda, not about how much I’m attracted to you.”

 

“It’s been a long time since anyone’s said something like that to me.”

 

“Yea, well….everyone you’ve been with must be crazy. I mean…you’re perfect, Miranda. You’re crazy and high-strung, but you’re perfect.”

 

Amusement passes over Miranda’s face for a brief moment as she attempts to suppress a smile. “You’ve got quite the way with words, Andrea.”

 

“Well…it’s true. There it is, all on the line for you, Miranda. I know you’re giving it a go with your husband and trying to overlook what he’s doing, but this is a little deeper for me than some blinding moment of lust.”

 

“We are no longer giving it a go, as it were.”

 

Andy isn’t sure that she’s heard her correctly. “Wait. What?”

 

“I’ve told Stephen that I want a divorce.”

 

Andy blinks back the shock. Her brain feels fuzzy. “You…you asked him…?”

 

“No, Andrea. I told him.”

 

“But…why?”

 

“I am not going to be anyone’s fool, especially not Stephen's.”

 

“He admitted to sleeping with his secretary?”

 

“Actually, he’s been sleeping with the wife of his business partner. The girls were on the right track; however, they jumped to the wrong conclusion.”

 

“I’m sorry, Miranda.”

 

“Are you?”

 

“Of course I am.”

 

“So you see, Andrea, it was not so much of a romantic weekend as you attempted to suggest. We went away for the day. I didn’t want to involve the girls. I returned Saturday night and he began to move out the next day.”

 

“So…” Andy blinked several times, her mind struggling to process the excess of information. “So he’s just going? Did he even try to fight for you?”

 

“No. I didn’t expect him to, though I’m sure it took the wind out of his sails to miss the chance of ending our marriage first.”

 

“What happens now?”

 

“The circus begins. I will have to be very careful, Andrea.”

 

Andy nods enthusiastically. “Of course…I didn’t mean…”

 

“I have to go.”

 

Andy moves toward Miranda, not sure if she’s about to hug her or kiss her or even just stand a few inches closer to her. Miranda doesn’t give her the chance; she holds up a hand.

 

“If you touch me now, I doubt I’ll have the power to leave.”

 

Andy blushes and grins. “Would that be so bad?”

 

“Considering I’m supposed to be getting a manicure at the moment, yes.” Miranda collects her purse and moves towards the door. “I trust I will see you tomorrow?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Miranda nods, sweeps her eyes over Andy’s figure once more, and leaves.

 

Andy quickly crosses to the window and waits for Miranda to emerge from the apartment building. When she does, Andy holds her breath. Look up…look up…please look up…

 

Miranda doesn’t look up.

 

---

 

Andy grins at the setup on Miranda's desk, readjusting the placement of a magazine one fraction of an inch. All of the current publications are fanned out and the scalding cup of coffee is steaming beside a list of messages.

 

When she hears the elevator open across the office, she extracts a white daisy from the loophole of her jeans, placing it atop Miranda's leather planner. She is beaming when Miranda walks through the door.

 

"I need you to get in touch with Barbara and make an appointment for no later than three this afternoon," Miranda says, dropping her jacket and purse onto Andy's desk. She doesn't make eye contact with Andy when she enters her office though her cheeks are visibly pinker. "Call Carlo to schedule a reshoot of the Marchesa layout and then talk to Nigel about finding a suitable location. I want a list of options on my desk by this afternoon."

 

Miranda pauses and takes a sip of her coffee, looking down at the flower on her desk. She picks it up, twirls it between her thumb and index finger, and Andy melts inside to see the smile playing at her lips.

 

Miranda looks up now and raises an eyebrow.

 

"Daisies are perfect for pick-me-ups. I thought you could use one."

 

"You know I can't keep this, correct?"

 

Andy rolls her eyes and snatches the flower from Miranda's hand. "Of course I know." She tucks the flower in the back of her hair above the mess of curls in her up-do. "I just wanted to make you smile," she whispers.

 

"You did," Miranda replies softly.

 

Andy smiles for the rest of the day.

 

---

 

"Aren't you a bundle of joy?" Nigel observes the next day, leaning over Andy's desk. He fingers the silk of her blouse.

 

Andy grins at him.

 

"I take it you've solved your little love problem?"

 

"Yes and no. It's…"

 

"Complicated. Yes, I know."

 

Andy suppresses the smile that threatens the corners of her mouth. What would he say if she brazenly told him of her mystery almost-lover? She can't even picture it; Nigel would no doubt laugh in her face and believe it to be a carefully-constructed joke. He'd never believe that Miranda could ever be attracted to someone like her.

 

Someone like her.

 

Her shoulders droop significantly.

 

As she opens her mouth to deliver a comment that would no doubt distract him from his line of conversation, the doors to the outer office burst open and Nigel hops off the edge of Andy's desk like his ass is on fire.

 

Miranda is clearly in a dreadful mood. She whips her jacket and bag onto Andy's desk so fast that papers cascade onto the floor. She utters a terse, commanding "Andrea" before disappearing into her office.

 

Andy flicks scared eyes in Nigel's direction. He raises his eyebrows and shoos her as he crouches to pick up the papers that have fallen. "Go," he whispers, "before she bites your head off."

 

Andy doesn't need to be told twice. She's out of her chair so fast that she nearly trips over her own feet.

 

"Close the door," Miranda barks, and Andy does as she's told.

 

Andy says nothing as she stands at attention.

 

"Sit," snaps Miranda.

 

Andy does and watches Miranda.

 

"It's in the news."

 

Andy's eyes widen. "What? But…I checked everything this morning…"

 

"It missed this morning's deadlines. It is, however, splashed across the internet and will no doubt be headline news come tomorrow morning."

 

Andy swallows the lump in her throat and realizes she has absolutely no idea what to say.

 

"It was going to leak; that part was inevitable. I just…" Miranda sighs sharply. "I thought I had more time."

 

"Should I--"

 

"Get in touch with my publicist."

 

Andy nods vigorously.

 

Miranda stares off at the wall, the lines around her eyes more pronounced than ever as the tension mounts. "Stephen finds himself in a very difficult predicament. Sleeping with the wife of a business partner would be disastrous for his reputation and unfortunately for him, I possess a variety of incriminating photographs." Her eyes flash maliciously. "Because of this, I expect the next several months to proceed smoothly. He will give me what I want with minimal argument."

 

"That's good…right?"

 

"Andrea." Miranda's eyes meet hers now, hard and intense. "I will not put my children through another ugly divorce. If anything should upset the upper hand that I have, Stephen would use it to his advantage. Am I making myself clear?"

 

"Miranda, I--"

 

"I mean it, Andrea. This will not happen. If any of this were to become public knowledge, I will personally see to it that you never work in another publication again."

 

At this moment, Andy goes numb. "Wait. You're kidding me, right?"

 

"I don't kid, Andrea."

 

"You honestly…" Andy blinks back the tears that have surfaced. "Where the hell do you get off thinking that I would…" A tear escapes, and then another. "Screw you, Miranda. Wait -- no -- pardon me. You're too chicken shit for that."

 

And, spinning on her Jimmy Choos, Andy pulls open the door and storms out of the office. She walks past a gaping Emily and a loitering Nigel, nearly collides with Jocelyn, and locks herself in the women's restroom. She cries so hard that she can't breathe and when she begins to hyperventilate, she leans her head back against the wall and blinks up at the fluorescent lighting.

 

Had their entire conversation over the weekend been for nothing? Had nothing Andy said made any difference? Had she all but confessed that she was falling in love to a wall?

 

She knew what Miranda stood to lose if they were caught. She knew that. Did Miranda give her so little credit? She blows her knows into a wad of toilet paper.

 

It was not like they had done anything anyway. How could they get caught over a few little interludes occurring the internet? Over a few kisses?

 

Miranda fucking Priestly can do whatever she wants. She could have Andy if she wanted. They could handle the discretion thing. She isn't as stupid as Stephen, letting himself get caught.

 

But what if Stephen had someone watching Miranda in his attempt to even the field? Maybe Miranda had anticipated this…maybe she was only trying to protect herself from becoming involved in something that could lower her defenses.

 

With a heavy sigh, Andy gets up and leans over the sink on unsteady legs. She wipes her eyes and cheeks, hoping that she doesn't look too disheveled. She's glad to have that secret stash in her desk drawer; she can be fixed up before anyone else notices that she's had a little emotional moment.

 

She heads quietly back to her desk, her head down lest anyone should spare a glance for her. Emily is on the phone. Nigel's gone. Miranda is consulting with Jocelyn.

 

She sits at her desk. She feels like she's just had her wings clipped.

 

Miranda doesn't seem like the waiting type. Divorce in New York takes eons to finalize. What if Miranda never lets her in? What if Miranda decides, when the ink is dry, that she's over whatever they had between them?

 

Andy feels like crying all over again and instead focuses her eyes on the planner on her desk. Written in bright blue ink is "M video conference w/ Sydney investors; 11p."

 

She cannot help but grin.

 

The game's not over yet.

 

---

 

Andy positions her camera so that it's angled towards her bed. She checks it several times with the lights off to make sure she is still visible and when she's satisfied, she leaves it on. Miranda's box is black.

 

If she knows Miranda -- and Andy would hazard a guess that she does -- she'll turn on Andy's cam regardless of being involved in an international video conference.

 

And that's when Andy will find out whether or not Miranda is still interested.

 

She looks down at her plain cotton t-shirt and frowns. She's definitely not going to be wearing that. She considers being completely nude but scratches the idea almost immediately. Though Miranda has seen her in various stages of undress, Andy doesn't feel quite ready to be completely in the buff for her. She sort of likes to think that maybe the first time Miranda will see her naked will be when they're in the same room together, preferably during some sort of mutually intimate act.

 

So, naked is out. Scary, holey t-shirt is out.

 

She considers a matching bra and panty set, but Miranda has seen that already. Andy digs through her underwear drawer, sifting past various cotton and lace and silk panties and bras.

 

There, at the bottom of the pile, is a red silk negligee.

 

She gleams, pulling it out. It's a little wrinkled, but so what? She holds it up by its thin spaghetti straps and looks it over. The hem at the breast is lined with intricate lace. There's a slit up the right side. Lily had given it to her as a gag gift for her last birthday and she'd never worn it.

 

It would be perfect for tonight.

 

She changes quickly and snaps the lights off, getting herself into bed. She lies on her back and looks at the clock, estimating that Miranda will be online at any minute.

 

It's almost eerie how in tune Andy is to Miranda's habits; within minutes Miranda's face appears. Andy squints through her long lashes, as if pretending to sleep, and watches Miranda's face as she stares at Andy. Though her vision is blurry, she can see Miranda wetting her lips. She brushes her forelock out of her eyes and enters business mode. Andy knows the Sydney investors are prompt and are already connected.

 

She gives Miranda ten minutes of focused business time before Andy decides it's show time.

 

As if choreographed, Andy slides her hand along the length of her thigh. It's smooth and, if she tries hard enough, she can imagine that Miranda is the one touching her. She scratches her nails along the inside of her thigh, unable to repress a tremble. This is going to be so easy tonight.

 

She strokes herself through her panties, hardly surprised to feel the dampness seeping through the fabric. Her fingers grow slick.

 

She casts a glance at the computer. Miranda is looking.

 

Andy knows that Miranda's glance is reserved for her: she certainly would be blushing while discussing figures with middle-aged Australian men.

 

With quick, agile fingers, Andy lifts her hips, hooks her thumbs in her underwear, and draws it slowly off. With a grin, she balls it and tosses it in the direction of the computer, careful not to overshoot and accidentally cover the webcam. Miranda readjusts her shirt collar.

 

Andy is careful with her fingering; she avoids contact with her clit entirely and bypasses teasing her entrance. She knows she'll never last. Somehow, getting off in front of Miranda has become some of the best sex she's ever had, solo or not. Being on display, being watched so intensely, gives Andy a thrill she's never felt before, not even the time she and Nate did it in the back of a nearly empty subway car.

 

She traces her fingers along her swollen folds, gathering her wetness and spreading it until her entire sex is dripping with want. She can hardly stand how turned on she is.

 

She doesn't know how long this conference will last and so Andy chooses not to wait any longer. She sits up, drops her pillow at the foot of the bed, and straddles it.

 

Miranda's eyebrows rise for the briefest of moments before she regains control of her expression. She looks at a paper she's got in her hand.

 

Andy begins to move.

 

She's never done this before and the results are…interesting. The cotton of her pillowcase teases gently at her sex. It's different than rubbing herself through cotton panties; the cool, dry texture is scratchy and foreign.

 

She likes it. She throws her head back and sighs.

 

It's not enough. Despite moving her hips and rocking against her now soaked pillow, it's not quite enough for what Andy so desperately needs. One of her straps falls from her shoulder and the front of her negligee dips forward. Andy doesn't care that she's nearly exposed. She scratches her hand up her thigh again, leaving angry red marks, and slips beneath the hem of her negligee.

 

She's insanely wet and she tosses her head to the side, biting her lip as two of her fingers begin to work in quick circles around her clit. She rides her pillow, sighs, and cries out when she reaches to enter herself.

 

It's good. It's so very good and she forces herself to open her eyes. Miranda is definitely watching her. She wonders if the conference is over because Miranda's eyes are fixated on her now.

 

Andy arches back, bracing her hand against the mattress as she fucks herself, the heel of her palm brushing against her throbbing clit. Her eyes shut and she gyrates her hips wildly, taking in the feel of everything as it crushes against the apex of her thighs.

 

She's close, she's so close…

 

She leans forward now, gripping the edge of the mattress. She rides her hand like her life depends on it. Her hair falls over her shoulders. Her breasts heave and threaten to spill out of her negligee.

 

Andy stares at Miranda when she comes, a loud groan pulled deep from within her. It's a shame that Miranda can't hear her. She feels an extra surge of moisture coat her fingers and subsequently her pillow. Her thighs shake.

 

She all but collapses on the bed when her legs give out. She rests her head on the cool comforter and lets out a heavy breath.

 

When Andy lifts her head to look at the computer, Miranda is gone.

 

She grins.

 

---

 

Andy is surprised at how delicious she feels the next morning. She walks into the office with a smug grin on her face and a spring in her step. She's almost looking forward to whatever will happen with Miranda.  

 

Emily sneers at her when she sits at her desk and pulls out the wireless keyboard. Andy grins harder. "Yep, I got some," the smile says. She wonders how many people have that much fun with themselves. Everyone who doesn't partake in solo bedroom excursions is clearly missing out.

 

As she fires off a few emails to various people, including one to her parents that lets them know that's she's still alive, her phone rings.

 

It's Miranda.

 

"Meet me in the lobby. Now."

 

Before Andy can reply, the call is cut off.

 

Grabbing her notebook and a pen, she scampers to the elevator and takes the seemingly endless trek down to the spacious, open lobby of the Elias-Clarke building. She makes it just in time; the minute she steps out of the elevator and rounds the corner, Miranda is sweeping through the revolving doors.

 

Andy can't control the flutters that she feels within her tummy.

 

Miranda sweeps her sunglasses off of her face, glares at Andy, and storms past her. She jams her finger into the elevator's call button and has to wait for only a minute before one opens. A pair of clackers quickly vacate and as Miranda steps inside, she jerks her head to motion Andy to follow her.

 

As soon as the doors close and the elevator begins to move, Miranda rounds on her. "What on earth were you thinking?"

 

"About what, Miranda?" Andy asks innocently. She adds an extra flutter to her eyelashes as she blinks.

 

"Distracting me during an important video conference," Miranda hisses through clenched teeth.

 

"I wasn't under the impression that you'd be watching."

 

Miranda's nostrils flare. She looks like she's one breath away from slapping her. "Don't pull a stunt like that ever again." 

 

"Or what, Miranda? You didn't have to connect to my webcam. You didn't have to look."

 

Color rises to Miranda's cheeks. Making Miranda blush is quickly becoming Andy's favorite hobby.

 

"Andrea." Her eyes drop to Andy's lips. Her own lips part and glisten invitingly. "Why are you doing this to me?"

 

"Why are you fighting it so hard?" Andy bites her lip.

 

Their breaths are heavy and rough. They're not kissing. They're not touching. But their eyes are devouring each other.

 

The elevator announces their floor and Miranda swiftly walks away, leaving Andy in a haze of her perfume.

 

---

 

Andy juggles the dry cleaning while she slips the key into the lock of the townhouse, wondering if the load will decrease now that Stephen isn't living there. She's carrying two of his suits and has to remind herself that defacing the expensive garments will only cause trouble for Miranda. The urge is strong, however, and she gets a smile at fantasizing about writing "asshole" in sharpie across the back of the suit.

 

She expects this to be a quick errand. Miranda's been very good at making herself scarce while Andy drops off The Book. She expects that she lurks in another closet or at the top of the landing, waiting until the door clicks shut behind her to sweep down and gather the mockup.

 

It gives Andy a bit of a thrill to know that Miranda has worked so hard to avoid being alone with her in her own home.

 

It comes as a complete surprise when she sees a flash of silver out of the corner of her eye. She turns and stares at Miranda as she descends the stairs.

 

"Oh. I thought you had gone." Miranda pauses on the top stair.

 

"Sorry to disappoint," Andy says, holding out The Book.

 

Miranda steps down and takes it, clutching it to her chest. She takes a tentative step towards Andy and pauses. "I didn't say it was a disappointment."

 

Andy blushes. "No?"

 

Miranda shakes her head slightly and allows her eyes to sweep over her form. "You look lovely today?"

 

"You look pretty great yourself," Andy adds. She takes a step closer. There are only a few inches between them.

 

Miranda takes a deep breath and closes her eyes for several seconds. "I don't want this."

 

"I think you do," Andy says, leaning closer. She can smell the red wine on Miranda's breath.

 

"No." Miranda licks her lips. "No, I don't."

 

"What's so bad about giving in to what you want?" Andy brushes her knuckles against the length of Miranda's neck, relishing the shudder that quakes through the other woman. "You might enjoy yourself."

 

Miranda swallows. "Whether or not it's enjoyable is beside the point. I will not involve you in this mess. I can't…"

 

"It's nothing I don't want to be involved in, Miranda." Andy leans in, brushing her mouth lightly against Miranda's parted lips.

 

"I'm not one to readily lose control of a situation." Miranda does not back away. When she speaks, her lips graze Andy's ever so lightly.

 

"Do I make you want to lost control?" Andy's fingers tease along her neck. Miranda is trembling.

 

Miranda's pregnant pause is interrupted by a quiet, nearly unintelligible, "Yes."

 

Andy feels as though the top of her head will burst. She slants her head, moves in, caresses her lips gently against Miranda's.

 

Yes!  she thinks.

 

"Mooooooom! Cass stole my iPod!" cries a voice several floors above. It is so shrill and so piercing that Andy jumps back and looks around, wondering if the twins aren't actually standing right behind them.

 

Miranda closes her eyes and exhales, her annoyance so palpable it could be cut with a knife.

 

"DID NOT!"

 

Miranda stands at the foot of the stairs and looks upward. "Bed. Now." Somehow Miranda barely has to raise her voice to acquire the wanted result; the rustling of the twins immediately stalls. She looks at Andy. "Good night, Andrea."

 

Andy wants to run to her, wants to gather her in her arms and kiss her senseless. "Good night, Miranda."

 

---

 

It really can't be healthy for a woman to be aroused so often. When Andy bursts through the door of her apartment, she feels so high strung that she could strange someone. It's just as well that she lives alone and doesn't have pets.

 

What's happening to her?

 

She makes quick work of undressing and getting into her pajamas, amazed at her ability not to touch herself inappropriately during the meantime. There has to be some way to control this hunger, she thinks. She wrestles with the hair tie knotted around her hair and sighs when it snaps. What a freakin' metaphor for my life.

 

As she prepares to get into her bed and fuck herself into a deep sleep, she notices movement on the computer screen.

 

She steps closer to her desk, unable to believe her eyes.

 

The webcam on her screen displays a room that she's never seen before. Its crisp, cream décor clue her in immediately. She sees a door leading to what may be a bathroom or a really large closet. Andy can't be sure. Back against the wall, there is a small cherry wood nightstand, upon which sits a lamp and The Book. She can see the very edge of a bed.

 

She's looking into Miranda's bedroom.

 

She holds her breath and waits for Miranda to reappear.

 

When Miranda steps into the line of the camera, she's unbuttoning her fitted blouse, allowing the two halves to part when she reaches the final one. Andy can see a strip of flesh from neck to pelvis. She can see Miranda's belly button. Her throat goes dry.

 

Miranda doesn't look at her. She doesn't even acknowledge that Andy is sitting there, gaping like a horny teenage boy who's peeping into a locker room.

 

She is barefoot. Andy finds this sexy as hell. She watches, afraid to blink, as Miranda's fingers work on the clasp at the side of her skirt.

 

Andy lets out a soft moan.

 

Miranda turns then, offering her back to the camera. Andy is too caught up to be disappointed; she'll gladly take whatever is being offered.

 

The editor's hands pull down a zipper and, with a shimmy of her hips, the skirt slips down her hips and pools at her feet. She is wearing low-rise eggplant colored panties.

 

Andy actually moans now, deciding that she has never seen anything as sexy as Miranda's ass. She's pretty sure it must be a contradiction to science to have an ass like that at 50. She digs her nails into her knees.

 

The shirt soon follows, sliding down her shoulders and dropping to the floor, revealing the back of a matching purple bra. Miranda's back is toned and defined.

 

Andy can't breath. She feels like she's burning up. She is sure that she is going to die of this need.

 

And then, when Andy thinks that Miranda's teasing is complete, Miranda shocks her again. Her hand curls up behind her back. Deftly, with one quick flick of her fingers, the bra is unhooked. Miranda takes her time drawing the straps down her arms. Andy is panting now and nearly comes when she sees Miranda dangle the bra from her fingers before letting it fall to the ground.

 

Turn around...turn around...please turn around…

 

Her back still to the camera, she reaches beside her on the bed and grabs a silk ivory nightgown. She lifts it over her head and allows it to slink onto her body, hugging her form like a second skin. Only when she is covered does Miranda turn back around. She doesn't walk so much as saunter towards the computer, leaning forward when she reaches the desk. Andy can see right down the front of the gown. Miranda looks her dead in the eye, smirks, and turns off her camera.

 

---

 

Andy is still on edge after Miranda's show on the webcam of the previous night. To her immense lack of surprise, Miranda made herself scarce throughout the next work day. Andy probably should have realized it in advance; her date book showed that Miranda's day would be filled with various appointments that would require her to be out of the office. She wonders if Miranda would have done her little striptease if she would have had to interact with Andy the next day.

 

It's just as well, anyway. She saw her from afar only once and received instructions via text. Andy was thankful for small mercies; it served as a cold splash of on her libido. She was actually able to get her work done.

 

She's glad that she doesn't have to deliver The Book tonight. She managed to convince Emily to take on the chore so that she could attend Doug's birthday soiree. She has no idea what she'll have to give Emily in return, but she has the feeling that it may involve her soul on a silver platter.

 

As Andy prepares to knock on Doug's door, bottle of pink champagne clutched to her chest, she briefly regrets not telling Miranda. But what would she have said? "I'd rather go to my friend's house than do my job?" Or, worse: "I can't come to your house tonight because I might not be able to control myself from having sex with you in the foyer?"

 

But what if Miranda were to come downstairs to get The Book, ready to repeat the events of the previous night? What if she accidentally comes on to Emily because she expects Andy?

 

Andy panics and has half a mind to call her to warn her, but then stops herself. Miranda had made it clear, had she not, that she was not interested in pursuing anything in person with her. Her little stunt on the computer has proven that.

 

Andy takes a deep breath and then raps her knuckles against the door. She should know better. Miranda is the smartest woman she knows. She's got eyes. Miranda will likely be pissed, but she's no fool.

 

Andy knocks again. There's loud music, voices. She has no idea who's supposed to be there outside of Lily and Doug. She hopes that Nate isn't going to be on the other side of the door. She's not sure she can handle playing nice with her ex on top of everything else.

 

She waits another minute before Doug opens the door. He grins down at her, his cheeks bright pink. He folds her into a bear hug. "Andy!"

 

"Happy birthday, Dougie!" She wiggles a little; she can't actually extricate her arms to hug him back. "Okay, need to breathe."

 

"Oh, right." He lets her go. "Sorry." He takes the extended bottle of champagne. "I'm so glad you were able to get out of work!"

 

"Me too," Andy says, realizing she means it. She follows him inside his spacious apartment, hating him a little for his clean, spacious living space. All the paint and 409 in the world couldn't help her own apartment. She has a flash of a new life -- a better paying job, a decent apartment, a steady partner -- and finds that she can't breathe.

 

She heads towards the kitchen, where Lily is entertaining two men. When Lily sees her, she shimmies out of her gentleman friend's grasp and gives her a hug. "Miranda let you off the leash tonight?" she gasps, stepping back and examining her. "I don't believe it! You sure you're not a hologram?"

 

"I'm the real deal." Andy smiles. "Now, introduce me to these strapping young gentlemen."

 

Lily squeals with delight. "Well, you remember Manny, right? You met him at the club last week."

 

"Ah, yes," Andy admits, extending her hand. Manny adjusts his backwards baseball cap and half-stands to shake her hand. His grip is tight. He manages a partial smile.

 

"How ya doin'?" he asks.

 

"Not bad," Andy replies.

 

"Aaaaand this," Lily says, motioning towards the dark, brooding man leaning against the wall.

 

"Is Alejandro," Doug interjects, squeezing between them to stand beside him. "I've been dying for you meet him."

 

"I's nice to meet you," Alejandro says with a charming smile, taking Andy's hand and pressing it to his lips. His Spanish accent is thick.

 

"Likewise. Doug's told me so much about you!" Andy declares. She's glad to finally have a face to put to all of the gushing that Doug has done. "I was beginning to think you didn't exist."

 

Doug rolls his eyes. Alejandro laughs. "I do business out of country. Gone, uh, very often."

 

"And now he's back and he's all mine," Doug circles his arm around his boyfriend's arm and stares adoringly at him.

 

Andy smiles and looks back at Lily. She's kissing Manny while his hands grope her ass. She suppresses a groan of disgust. "So! Let's pop this bubbly, shall we?"

 

It isn't a party so much as it is a love fest for the respective couples. Andy sits in the leather armchair, nursing her alcohol while she tries to pretend that Lily and Doug aren't stopping in the middle of a conversation to make out with their boyfriends.

 

She can't resent them. Once upon a time, that was her. She and Nate had been that couple; they kissed and touched and were sickeningly sweet. She supposed this was payback. And really, Andy couldn't blame them. She liked being affectionate with her boyfriends in the past. She liked holding hands in public and kissing whenever the mood struck her.

 

Even though it's only been a few months since she and Nate broke up, she wonders if she's still that same person. What would it be like with Miranda? What if, flying pigs aside, she and Miranda became a couple? Andy would never be able to indulge in public displays of affection. She knows without a doubt that Miranda would expect them to be careful, and Miranda doesn't exactly strike her as the touchy-feely type. She's the type to accept a chaste peck on the cheek and a guiding hand to the elbow or the small of the back.

 

She hides her smirk in her glass as she imagines kissing Miranda in a room full of people.

 

Andy just has to face it: Miranda could never in a million years be the perfect partner for her.

 

Not that she's not going to try anyway.

 

"So, where you been hiding?" Lily asks, detaching from Manny long enough to direct her pointed stare at her. "You've been acting like you're seeing someone."

 

"Not exactly," Andy answers, taking a sip of champagne.

 

"It's true," Doug adds. "You've been distracted. You didn't even bring up what happened with you and Nate when he was here."

 

Andy shrugs. "I guess it just doesn't get to me that much anymore."

 

"Mmhmm." Lily raises an eyebrow. "Spill it."

 

"There's nothing to spill. I swear."

 

"Well, one thing's for sure," Doug says, slicing into the cake.

 

"What's that?"

 

"Someone needs to get laid, and it isn't any of us," he replies, wiggling his eyebrows.

 

Andy's laugh comes from the depths of her stomach. She doubles over and slaps her leg. "Honey, you have no idea."

 

---

 

Friday is busy. Andy's been occupied all morning confirming Miranda's itinerary for her trip to Barcelona next week. She can't help but notice, even as she's on the phone with a designer's assistant, that Miranda is staring at her. Emily has been acting no differently, so Andy sets her worries aside about that.

 

And then she realizes that she's dealing with Miranda Priestly and her nerves are pacified.

 

"So that's 6 o'clock for the dinner, correct?...and you're emailing the guest list?....oh yes, I've just received it…" Andy scrolls through the email, quickly scanning it for any undesirable names. Everything seems to be in order. "Thank you, Pascal…I'll call again if there are any other questions…yes, you too…goodbye."

 

The receiver is not even put down before Miranda is summoning her. Andy dashes into her office at top speed.

 

Miranda does not look at her immediately. She sets about completing whatever she is typing before she removes her glasses, leans back in her chair, and fixes her gaze upon her. "You did not deliver The Book last night."

 

"No, I…Emily did."

 

"Does your personal life interest you more than your job, Andrea?"

 

"Of course not. I'm sorry. I had to be somewhere."

 

Miranda's voice drops. "Should you decide that you'd rather be gallivanting about with your friends than doing your job, I expect to be notified. Is that clear?"

 

Andy gulps. "Y-yes. Of course. I should have assumed…"

 

"Never assume, Andrea. Just know."

 

"I can't read your mind, Miranda," Andy says quietly.

 

Miranda raises an eyebrow and steeples her fingers. "That is for the best perhaps."

 

"Oh I don't know about that." Andy stands a little taller, arching her back to press her cleavage forward. She notices that Miranda's cheeks grow a little more pink. "I'd love to know what you're thinking right now."

 

"That's enough."

 

Andy smirks. "Is that all?"

 

"Yes."

 

Miranda says nothing to Andy for the rest of the day, but her eyes reveal plenty. It makes Andy wet.

 

---

 

When the weekend finally arrives, Andy embarks from the house at the first viable opportunity. She needs a distraction. She needs something, anything, to think about instead of Miranda Priestly. She worries that it's becoming an obsession. Even her mother is picking up on it, and she's hundreds of miles away. It can't be healthy to be so interested in one person, especially someone who givers her a paycheck, is a mother of two, and is getting divorced.

 

She decides to go to the Farmer's Market. She hasn't been in ages, not since before Nate left, and she has decided that she is due for a visit. She misses healthy meals.

 

As soon as she's immersed amongst the stands and throngs of people, Andy can't imagine why she hasn't been in so long. There's the whole "out of season" thing that obviously kept her away, but there was also her preoccupation with the rest of life.

 

But this? Andy can't deny that all of this fresh, organic good is doing wonders for her. She's in love with the way the market smells. The combination of the fruits and vegetables is so powerful that she can nearly taste it. It makes her mouth water.

 

For the first time in ages, Andy is craving a carrot instead of ice cream.

 

She spoils herself. Though she can't necessarily afford to be extravagant right now, she allows herself to indulge in a variety of organic products. She buys blueberries and spinach and broccoli and apples. She can't say no to a bundle of daisies.

 

Andy smiles. It's a perfect Saturday morning.

 

She hasn't thought about Miranda in hours. While she is standing behind a group of people to get to a stand selling artichokes, she sees two matching redheads walking a few feet away. She has to do a double take. She loses them in the crowd but, when it parts, she realizes that she's looking at Caroline and Cassidy.

 

Which means…

 

Behind them, scowl etched to her beautiful features, is Miranda.

 

She can't help but laugh at the irony of it all. Against her better judgment, she decides to wander in their direction.

 

Miranda appears visibly shaken when she notices Andy walking through the mob of people. She clutches her handbag like she's worried Andy might grab it and spill its contents on the ground. Andy realizes that Miranda is nervous.

 

"Hi there," Andy says cheerfully, stopping a few feet in front of them. The twins are distracted until they hear Andy's voice, and two sets of eyes immediately size her up.

 

"You're Andy," one of them announces mechanically.

 

"In the flesh," Andy responds with a smile. "And you are…Cassidy?"

 

"Yea!" The twin is pleased by the correct guess. "How'd you know? No one can ever tell."

 

Andy's not about to admit that she guessed. "I have my ways. What brings you ladies out here to the farmer's market?"

 

"We're learning about farming in Social Studies," Caroline reveals.

 

"And about nutrition in Heath class," Cassidy adds. "Mom said we could pick out vegetables for a salad tonight."

 

"Sounds delicious."

 

"It will be," Caroline replies off-handedly. She stands on her toes, clutching her mother's arm for support. "Mom! They have peaches over there! Can we get some?"

 

"Of course, darling. Go pick out as many as you want." The two watch as the twins run to the stall and begin gesticulating wildly towards the woman selling the fruit.

 

Andy laughs. "Enthusiastic about their fruit, huh?"

 

"We of course have plenty of fresh produce at home," Miranda says absently, staring in the direction of her girls. Her face is drawn. She seems…sad. "I wanted to give them a distraction. I'm trying to establish a sense of normalcy to keep their minds off the divorce."

 

Andy is taken aback by how harshly the thought assails her. Throughout everything, she's never once paused to consider how the twins must be feeling through this. "How are they doing?"

 

"They're very sensitive," Miranda offers. She exhales sharply. "They're prone to moodiness, more so than usual. It's a difficult time for them." She looks away, and then back at Andy. "They can't handle a lot of change at the present time."

 

Andy sees them in flashes: Cassidy crying into her pillow, Caroline lashing out, both of them not eating or sleeping.

 

"Oh God, Miranda…I am so, so sorry."

 

"They're strong. They'll survive this."

 

Andy suddenly feels like crying. "I…I didn't think…"

 

Miranda looks at her, puzzled. "Andrea?"

 

"I didn't realize how much I could potentially be complicating your life…it never really occurred to me how much was really at stake." Andy swallows the lump in her throat. "I'll stop. I'll back off. I don't want to make things worse."

 

Miranda looks as though she's been doused with cold water. She stares at Andy like she's never seen her before. She opens her mouth to speak and is interrupted by twins crashing into her sides.

 

"That lady let us taste one!" Cassidy squeals, staring up at her mother. "We bought a ton."

 

"A ton? Is that so?"

 

The girls nod.

 

"How ever will we eat a ton of peaches?"

 

"Andy can help us," Caroline concedes.

 

"Yea!" Cassidy thrusts her arm into the bag and pulls out one ripe peach. "Is it okay, Mom?"

 

"Of course." She tilts her head slightly, still bewildered. "Andrea can have whatever she'd like."

 

"Do you want one, Andy?"

 

Andy breaks the stare to look at the smiling child. "I'd love one." She takes the peach, smells it, and smiles. "I bet this will be the best peach ever."

 

"Why?" asks Caroline.

 

"Because food tastes better when it's shared amongst friends," Andy says. "And, it just so happens that flowers smell better too." She pulls at a few of the flowers in her bouquet. She hands one to each of the twins and hands the final one to Miranda. "Have a great weekend."

 

The twins thank Andy and mirror each other in putting their daisies behind their ears. Miranda holds hers as if it's made of gold. Andy suspects that Miranda watches her walk away.

 

Her heart hurts.

 

---

 

Andy mopes for the rest of the day. She can't bring herself to eat any of the food she's purchased and sits on her couch, staring in its direction. Even the daisies droop a little.

 

She leans back against the cushions. What the hell was she thinking? How the hell could she let herself believe that Miranda's libido was more important than the welfare of her children?

 

"Stupid, Andy. Real stupid."

 

Her cell phone beeps, notifying her that she's received a text message, but she can't be bothered to get up to check it. She feels like such a prize idiot. She just wants to turn into a bug and be stepped on.

 

Despite her lack of appetite, Andy's stomach growls. She pulls up her shirt and stares at her abdomen. "You're hungry now? At a time like this?"

 

It grumbles.

 

She rolls her eyes and heaves herself off the couch. She looks in the fridge, staring at the produce like it's disembodied baby heads. "No thanks," she mumbles. She turns to head back to the couch and then stops, reaching for her phone. She might as well check it while she's up.

 

I'm incredibly touched by what you said today. My feelings have not changed. - M.

 

Andy rereads it about sixteen times and even checks the number to verify that it did in fact come from Miranda. She beams and turns back to the fridge, plucking up the peach. She sinks her teeth into it and decides that it tastes better than any peach she's ever had.

 

---

 

Andy can't help but float around the office the next day as if she's a 3rd grader who's just received a valentine from her crush.

 

She feels giddy.

 

She can't bring herself to look at Miranda when she walks through the door. She knows she'll give herself away immediately and instead busies her self with a stack of papers that she's organizing. The paperclip between her lips dangles precariously and is nearly swallowed when Miranda stops in front of her desk.

 

"Book a seat on the flight to Barcelona. You're coming with me."

 

Andy's jaw drops in shock. She watched Miranda retreat into her office and catches Emily's eye. Emily is looking at her as though she's about to murder her.

 

"But…" Emily begins, staring dazedly at Miranda's office, "she never brings assistants with her."

 

Andy simply blinks.

 

Emily seems to have controlled her shock. With a sneer she says, "Well, aren't we the new favorite?"

 

Andy reels back. She can't handle sarcasm or jealousy today. "That would imply that you were already the favorite."

 

"Cute," Emily bites back. "You…" She exhales, closes her eyes, and counts quietly to ten. When she opens her eyes, some of her fury has deescalated. "You don't deserve this opportunity."

 

Andy rolls her eyes. "Get over yourself, Em. Really. This dueling assistants thing is getting really old." She looks back at her computer and selects one of the few remaining seats on Miranda's flight. "I'm so sorry you're not the one who gets to be kicked around for three days in hell."

 

She punches in the numbers of the expense account, confirms the flight, and clicks the mouse with a satisfying jab. As soon as she's redirected to a "Thank you for your order!" page, Andy begins to panic.

 

Oh God. I'm going to Barcelona with Miranda.

 

She is finding it difficult to breathe. She pushes back her chair and walks into Miranda's office.

 

"Is it done?" Miranda asks, tilting her head as she examines Andy.

 

Andy nods meekly. "I…I got a flight in coach."

 

"Coach? Andrea, really…"

 

"There was nothing else left," Andy adds quickly. "If I had known in advance that I was going…"

 

"I did not know in advance that you were coming with me," Miranda husks. "It's come to my attention that I will need you on this trip. There are certain functions that I won't be able to perform myself."

 

Andy's jaw drops.

 

Miranda suppresses a smirk. "Have Emily deliver The Book tonight. You will need to pack."

 

"Yes, Miranda."

 

"Bring this to Jocelyn." She extends a coiled belt and Andy takes it, their fingers brush. They both blush.

 

Andy walks away and feels like she's floating.

 

She realizes that she's going to sleep with Miranda when they're in Spain. She trips.

 

---

 

The rest of the day is spent making alterations to Miranda's itinerary. She is able to book another room at the Hotel Majestic. She chooses the cheapest of the rooms, unable to justify charging anything more than the standard classic room to the expense account. She doesn't tell Miranda that they're not adjoining rooms, but at least this one is in the same building. It could be worse, really. Andy might not be going at all.

 

She's really excited to go to Spain. She's only ever been to England on a trip with her senior class in high school. It was scheduled down to the very last minute, so any chance to explore on her own had been revoked. It didn't matter; she had a great time.

 

She imagines this will be similar to her England trip; she can't imagine that Miranda will allow her the freedom to explore the city on her own. It occurs to her that she has no idea what role Andy is playing in this at all. Will she be attending all of her work functions? Will she be kept in the hotel room?

 

Is she really only going so they can have sex?

 

At any rate, it doesn't matter. She's going. She'll work out the technicalities later.

 

She packs a little heavier than she needs to: because she doesn't know her role, she doesn't know what to wear. She packs as she would for any other business trip but manages to slip in a few sexier blouses. She packs only sexy underwear and a black dress that is both professional and sexy.

 

Andy can't believe this is happening. Tomorrow can't come soon enough.

 

---

 

She does a frantic, last minute check of her luggage before Miranda's car is due to arrive. She has her passport, she has enough underwear to put Victoria's Secret out of business, and she has her toothbrush.

 

Her stomach grumbles nervously and she wishes that she had neglected the coffee. She hopes she doesn't end up getting sick.

 

The buzzer sounds. She presses the buttons, yells "coming!," and bolts down the stairs with her things. Roy stands at the door and helpfully holds it open when she ambles through, juggling her purse and her suitcase. He retracts the handle and hoists it effortlessly into the trunk. He motions to open the door for her but she waves him off.

 

She nearly falls out of her seat when she realizes that Miranda is already in the car, peering at her over her sunglasses.

 

"Miranda! Good morning! I thought…" Andy smiles shyly at forgetting Miranda's unpredictability. "How are you?"

 

"Perfectly well," Miranda replies. She pushes her sunglasses back up over her nose and stares ahead. She seems…distracted.

 

Andy can't help but smirk.

 

The ride to JFK is silent save for Miranda asking about their hotel accommodations. She seems displeased about Andy's room being on another floor altogether, but once they both realize that they're talking about hotel rooms and subsequently begin thinking about what may happen in those rooms, they fall silent.

 

Andy takes the time to shoot off a few text messages. In her "ohmygodi'mgoingtohavesexwithmiranda" hysteria, she all but neglected to inform everyone that she was leaving the country. She texts her parents, Lily, and Doug. She can't hide the smirk on her face when she receives a response from Lily: "don't let the dragon lady ride you too hard!"

 

The smirk is wiped off her face at the thought of Miranda on top of her, sweaty and breathless.

 

Andy is saved from having to think about the details when they arrive at the airport. She and Miranda navigate with ease throughout the crowded building, making it to their terminal with time to spare. To her immense relief, there are several empty seats near the window. Miranda breezes past and takes a seat for herself, glaring at the empty runway.

 

Andy sits beside her, awkwardly drumming her fingers against her purse. Miranda looks at her hands and then flicks her eyes up to Andy's, raising an eyebrow. "Sorry," she mumbles.

 

Miranda pulls out her phone and makes a call to Nigel, to whom she exaggerates the compact schedule that Andy so foolishly threw together. Andy's first instinct is to be hurt, but then she sees the flash in Miranda's eyes. "Completely incompetent," Miranda drawls with a smirk.

 

She shivers.

 

Andy reaches into her purse and extracts a guide to Barcelona, complete with a Spanish phrase book. She's a little rusty; she took German in high school and dated a Spanish major for a few weeks before she met Nate. She's hoping that Miranda will know enough of the language to get them by. She's assailed by the thought of Miranda's tongue rolling those R's and L's and she has to suppress a groan.

 

"Are you planning a vacation?" Miranda asks, raising an eyebrow at the book.

 

"I…I just wanted to be prepared." Andy straightens her back, refusing to cower. "I am not sure exactly what you're expecting of me."

 

Miranda licks her lips. "I'm not sure what I'm expecting myself."

 

"Am I going to your work functions with you?"

 

"Some. You'd be rather out of place attending tonight's drinks meeting, for instance."

 

"You'll have to let me know when I'll be needed."

 

"I will, won't I?" Miranda shifts in her seat. "I suspect you'll have some free time in the afternoon tomorrow. I'll expect you back in time for dinner."

 

"You want me to go to your dinner?"

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "Andrea…" she says impatiently. "If you'd care to peruse the itinerary, you'd realize that I don't have a dinner tomorrow evening."

 

"Oh. So…oh. You want me to have dinner with you?"

 

"Isn't that obvious?"

 

"Well, you could ask me, you know. Not telepathic, remember?"

 

"Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night, Andrea?"

 

Andy's heart nearly leaps out of her chest. "Yes, Miranda. I'd love to."

 

"That's settled then. Dress appropriately."

 

"I've got just the dress."

 

"You anticipated this?"

 

"I had hoped…" Andy grins. "I'm an optimist."

 

The corner of Miranda's mouth turns up into a smile. "What will you do with your free afternoon?" She nods her head towards the book.

 

Andy grins. "There's probably not enough time to go to the beach," she says, thumbing through the book. She looks at a few of the pages that she's flagged. "The National Museum of Art of Catalonia sounds pretty amazing. I'd love to check that out. And there's the Erotic Museum of Barcelona. I really think you should play hooky to go with me."

 

"Do be serious." Her cheeks flushed with color.

 

"I am serious." She held open the guidebook and showed Miranda the image of the museum. "It's the real deal."

 

Miranda tipped the book shut and looked away.

 

"That's thousands of years celebrating sexuality right there." Andy put the book away. "I'm all about embracing--"

 

"Fetch us Starbucks, will you? And be quick about it."

 

Andy sighs. "You got it."

 

She walks down the wide hall, passing a Borders as she gets in line at the coffee shop. She's irritated with herself for submitting so easily. She knows she shouldn't beat herself up; what could she have possibly said? Asked Miranda to get the coffee herself?

 

She orders Miranda's usual and a green tea lemonade for herself. She picks out a blueberry scone and a newspaper and frowns. Much as they'd like it to be, this is not a romantic getaway. This is a boss taking her assistant on a business trip. This is a boss and an assistant planning on sleeping together. No matter what happens in Barcelona, they're still returning as co-workers.

 

Andy folds the newspaper and sticks it in her purse before taking the beverages to their gate. As she sits down and hands the coffee to Miranda, she wonders how much longer it will be before she cracks.

 

---

 

Despite the near-nine hours on an airplane, the day passes in a blur. Andy had made the most of the flight: rather than sleep, she listened to an audiobook on her iPod and read the newspaper. For fun, she made edits on some of the columns and wistfully remembered her own editorship once upon a time. When she really immersed herself in a newspaper, she remembered exactly what she had come to New York to do. She missed journalism. She missed real life. She would never admit that she didn't think fashion was real but, given the state of existence, Andy knew that the world was not going to change because of a nicely made dress.

 

There were several circled passages in the classified section that resided at the bottom of her purse.

 

Thinking about her career can wait. As she sits in the back seat of the car and stares out at the beautiful city before her, she decides that she's not going to waste the opportunity she's been given. She's in Barcelona and she's damn well going to enjoy it.

 

She looks at Miranda as she stares at her watch, agitated that they're not yet at the hotel. It's nearly 9 at night and she has a drinks meeting with a photographer in the Bar del Majestic at 9:30.

 

She's relieved when the car finally slows but is entirely unprepared for what she sees.

 

The Hotel Majestic looks amazing on the website, but seeing it in person has Andy reeling. She's never stayed at a place so grand and feels as though she's about to walk into another realm where she's more than just a lowly assistant from New York.

 

She decides that if things don't work out with Miranda and Runway and journalism, Andy's going to pawn all of her belongings and move here.

 

As she steps out of the car, she stares up at the hotel, taking in its neoclassical architecture. It's easily one of the most beautiful buildings Andy has ever seen. Miranda huffs impatiently and Andy stops gawking long enough to follow her, resolving to get a better look in the daylight. She has to fight her simple, Ohio-borne attitude when she walks inside and her jaw drops.

 

The reception area is spacious and bright. The sound of her heels clicking against the floor resonate from the walls and hit her with a giddy sense of elation. This is her playground for three days?

 

"Check us in," Miranda says, checking her phone. She punches several buttons and steps aside, standing near the large floral display in the center of the room.

 

Andy is too excited to be annoyed. She walks up to the long, green-gray marble desk, and gives the concierge their information. He presents her with her keycard to her classic room and holds on to the keycard to Miranda's suite, rounding the desk to personally escort them upstairs. A bellhop appears seemingly out of nowhere with their bags, and Miranda ends her phone call.

 

While the concierge informs them of the hotel's many amenities, Andy can't help but grin about the fact that Miranda is in the elevator with three other people.

 

They stop on the third floor, where the concierge leads them to Andy's room. She's blown away. The plush burgundy carpets and cream walls are the perfect backdrop to the large Queen sized bed, mahogany desk, and large picture window that is ensconced in thick beige curtains. She can see the lights of the city glittering through the sheer underlay.

 

She tunes back in to hear him describing her access to the spa, gym, and outdoor pool.

 

"Enjoy your stay," he finishes.

 

She scrambles in her purse to extract a tip, feeling like an idiot for not having converted a few dollars beforehand. She hands the bills to the concierge and the bellhop anyway, thanking them. She follows them to the door and Miranda watches her closely.

 

"Do you want me to come upstairs with you?" Andy catches herself, laughs nervously, and blushes. "I mean to help you get settled in."

 

"That's quite all right. I'm sure I can manage on my own. You rest."

 

Andy fights back disappointment. "Good luck with your meeting."

 

Miranda shrugs. "It's just a formality. I'll be in bed by eleven."

 

"Sleep well then," Andy says quietly.

 

Miranda smiles then and the sight of it is so beautiful that Andy's heart bursts. "Dulces sueños," Miranda whispers. She sweeps her eyes over Andy's entire body once more before disappearing back into the elevator with the two men.

 

Andy closes the door and leans back against it, wishing more than anything that Miranda had stayed. Rather than mope, she explores the rest of her room. The bathroom, with its shower alcove and large countertop and complimentary bathrobe, has Andy melting. She takes a hot shower, dons the robe, and helps herself to a drink from the mini bar.

 

She's not tired, though she knows she should try to sleep. She knows she'll feel like hell tomorrow because of the jet lag, but even that isn't enough to force her into bed. She watches a local channel and has a second drink. The rum weighs down her eyelids.

 

She thinks of Miranda, downstairs in the bar. She thinks of what Miranda will wear to bed. She thinks of what Miranda will do tomorrow night at dinner. She wonders if Miranda will pursue her or if she will be responsible for the seduction. She feels like she's in high school again, sneaking around to kiss under the bleachers. Except this is so much better than high school. This is Miranda.

 

---

 

Andy stares at herself in the mirror in the bathroom, rethinking the amount of eyeliner she's put on. What if it's too much? Too little? What if she's overdressed?

 

She throws the stick of eyeliner in frustration. Damn Miranda and her mysterious ways!

 

She seats herself in one of the comfortable beige chairs by the window, looking out over the busy street. She feels more nervous that she has in a long time.

 

Andy takes a deep breath and drums her fingers against her knees.

 

It had been a good day up until that moment. She had accompanied Miranda to several meetings with designers, photographers, and investors and even met a very famous Spanish actress who was in talks to be featured on the cover of the magazine. Andy really wasn’t needed for much of it; in fact, she did little more than fetch waters and take notes. It gave her a chance to sit back and watch Miranda be Miranda. She had to respect her for being who she was, for creating the life she was living. Andy wanted to be like that -- self-sufficient, powerful, self-assured, confident. She had been those things once upon a time but now, working as an assistant, she felt like she'd handed all of that over when she signed her contract.

 

She wanted to be someone that Miranda would be proud of. She wanted to be someone that she would be proud of.

 

Her self reflection was continued when Miranda had left to attend a luncheon. As she had planned, she ventured to the art museum and wandered through the richly decorated halls and contemplated her situation.

 

She would have to leave Runway. It was the only option.

 

Now, sitting in her swank, ritzy hotel room, Andy wonders if she really has the gall to leave. She would never just walk out on Miranda; she's more professional than that. But she knows she has to make a break. She can't spend her days being ordered around by the woman she may potentially be sleeping with, and she certainly can't advance her career fetching coffees.

 

She feels like she will throw up the more she thinks about it. Her realization that she has to give up seeing Miranda every day makes her panicky. The last thing she needs is to have a panic attack right before her date.

 

A date with Miranda fucking Priestly.

 

Oh God.

 

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath before she feels like she can walk steadily. She decides that she'd rather show up at the restaurant early rather than sit and overthink in her hotel room.

 

The Drolma Restaurant is, in Andy's opinion, just another extension of heaven on earth. As the maitre'd shows her to the empty table that is reserved for them, she takes in the scent of divinely cooked meals and her mouth waters. The crisp white tablecloths juxtapose brilliantly with the lush red carpet and dark walls.

 

Andy feels a little bit like Cinderella.

 

She takes a seat and sips her water. She wishes that she could do something about the butterflies in her stomach.

 

"Be cool, Andy," she tells herself.

 

She sits back in her chair, looks around, and then she sees her.

 

Andy feels like she's in a movie where everything around the object of her affections is in slow motion. Time and space seem to fade away into the background while Miranda makes her way towards their corner table. She's wearing an ivory dress that clings to her chest and swishes around her legs and drapes perfectly around her cleavage. She smiles and Andy feels like she will combust.

 

She stands when Miranda reaches the table and Miranda smirks. "Aren't we chivalrous?"

 

"I'm a gentleman, through and through." Andy takes her seat, unable to take her eyes off Miranda. "You look incredible, Miranda."

 

"You clean up nicely yourself," Miranda offers. She sweeps her eyes appreciatively over Andy's form, lingering on the swell of cleavage, and looks at her again. "I trust you had a nice afternoon?"

 

"It was…thought-provoking."

 

"You didn't go to that sex museum, did you?"

 

Andy laughs. "No. Just the art museum."

 

"Did you find it enjoyable?"

 

"I did," Andy says, though she can't vouch either way about the art on display. She'll kick herself years from now for not paying more attention while in the presence of art royalty. "And how was your luncheon?"

 

Miranda waves her hand dismissively. "The same as every luncheon I attend."

 

"That fun, huh?"

 

Miranda smirks and rolls her eyes. "Have you decided what you're ordering?"

 

Andy stares at the menu and blinks. "Uhm…" The waitress appears as if on cue. Andy looks imploringly at Miranda.

 

Miranda places their order; for herself, she chooses the Gambas con Alcachofas, and for Andy she selects the Pollo de Pata Azul con Rebozuelos. She also orders a bottle of red wine, though Andy misses the title of it. Knowing Miranda, it costs more than she makes in an entire day.

 

"What exactly am I eating?" Andy asks, her ears still thrumming pleasantly at the sound of Miranda's perfect Spanish. She could be eating monkey brains and it wouldn't matter.

 

"I am having the prawns with artichokes, and you're having blue leg chicken with mushrooms."

 

"Oooh, that sounds good."

 

"It is."

 

"Have you been to Barcelona many times?"

 

"Only twice."

 

Andy nods. "What's your favorite place that you've traveled to?"

 

"For business?"

 

"For pleasure."

 

Miranda purses her lips. "I'm particularly fond of Florence."

 

"I've never been to Italy," Andy replies wistfully. "Why is it your favorite? When did you go?"

 

"You're asking quite a few questions. Is this an interrogation?"

 

Andy chuckles. "No, Miranda, this is a date and I'd like to get to know you as a woman, not just my boss."

 

Miranda's tongue darts across her lower lip and she offers a faint smile. "I went to Florence for my honeymoon with my first husband."

 

Andy's eyebrows dart up. "Really? That's an unexpected honeymoon spot."

 

The waitress appears and holds out the bottle of wine. Miranda nods and two glasses are poured of a deep scarlet wine. Miranda swirls the glass and smells it before taking a sip. She hums her appreciation and, setting down the glass, says, "You were expecting Fiji?"

 

Andy nods.

 

"That was honeymoon number two." She sips her wine. "Tuscany is another world altogether. Florence is an art mecca; if you have an appreciation for art and architecture, you can't do much better."

 

Andy sits back in her chair and studies the woman sitting across from her, her fingers circling the stem of her wine glass. "I wouldn't have figured you as that type."

 

"What type did you categorize me as, Andrea?"

 

Andy blushes. "You know, I am not even sure. You're a very difficult woman to understand."

 

"Precisely."

 

Andy laughs. "Why do you try so hard to project such a cold exterior?"

 

"Are you trying to get inside my head?"

 

"Yep." Andy leans forward. "Let me in, Miranda. I don't bite."

 

"I'm not so sure."

 

"I just want to know you. Is that such a bad thing?"

 

"Very few people truly know me, Andrea. It takes a great deal to allow someone that sort of insight into my mind."

 

"Lucky for you, I'm much easier." Andy blushes. "I mean…oh screw it. You know what I mean."

 

"You've made it quite obvious how easy you are," Miranda replies with a cheeky grin. She casts her glance over Andy's torso. "Tell me your most embarrassing memory."

 

"You would want to know that!" Andy rolls her eyes and purses her lips.

 

"I imagine there must be many to choose from."

 

"Ouch!" Andy takes an imaginary knife from her heart.

 

"You're not so sensitive, are you?"

 

"Lucky you."

 

"So you've pointed out."

 

"You know, there are a few too many embarrassing stories to choose from. I think I'll save those until you've decided for sure whether or not you like me."

 

"I thought it was clear that I'd made up my mind on that matter?"

 

Andy blushes. "To a point. But you like me because you want me, and you like what you know of me. You know me as Ahndrayah the second assistant, not Andy the person."

 

"In case you were in any way unclear, I would like to get to know you."

 

"Me me or naked me?"

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "Are they not one in the same?"

 

"Aah, so you do want to know me naked!"

 

"Old news, Andrea. Do keep up."

 

Andy laughs. "I can't help it if I get a little excited about the fact that we're going to…you know."

 

"What makes you think that we're going to sleep together?"

 

Andy furrows her brow. "Aren't we?"

 

"Perhaps I brought you to Barcelona to romance you. Have you ever thought of that?"

 

Andy leans forward. "Perhaps romancing encompasses a great many activities."

 

Miranda snorts. "Being presumptuous is very unattractive, Andrea."

 

Andy doesn't bite. "I would think it's more hopeful than presumptuous."

 

Miranda tilts her head and purses her lips. "You mustn't be so hopeful with me. It's very rare that I'm anything more than a disappointment to the people in my personal life."

 

"You? A disappointment? I doubt that."

 

"You said yourself that you don't know me."

 

"You have yet to disappoint me, Miranda."

 

The older woman raises an eyebrow.

 

"Okay, maybe a little, but I respect you. And in case you hadn't noticed, I really like you. The real Miranda Priestly, not the self-made Editrix. You don't give yourself enough credit."

 

"I suppose you'll find out one way or another. I did warn you."

 

"Yes, duly noted." Andy pauses for a moment. "Wait. So this…well, whatever this is…it's going to be more than just a sex thing?"

 

"Is that all you think about?"

 

"No! What part of 'I like you' translates to 'I only want to get you in the sack'?"

 

Miranda raises an imploring eyebrow.

 

Andy sighs. "I just want to know where this is going to go? I'm worried about getting attached to you. Or…more attached than I already am."

 

"Did it ever occur to you that perhaps I don't know where this is going? Must we be able to give it a textbook definition and timeline right at this very moment? You may come to your senses and leave for all I know."

 

Andy exhales sharply. "Stop trying to convince me of something I don't want. You may make that work on everyone else, but I'm not interested in being swayed to leave when I'm pretty sure I don't want to be anywhere else."

 

"All right," Miranda replies after a moment of lingering silence. "Let's see where this goes, shall we? No more expectations, no more rules."

 

"Can we shake on it?"

 

Miranda rolls her eyes and Andy momentarily wonders how they've not detached from her skull by this point. She isn't going to complain; she finds it endearing. To her amazement, Miranda extends her hand. Andy grasps it in her own and feels her heart jump into her throat to feel its warmth and softness. She strokes her thumb over Miranda's knuckles and squeezes. It must look awkward for the two of them to be holding hands over the dinner table, but Andy is reluctant to let go.

 

Alas, she is forced to release Miranda's hand when the waitress appears, uncovering a platter of food. Her olfactory senses come to life when her plate is set before her. She stares down at the ornately arranged plate of food and shudders.

 

"Wow."

 

Miranda laughs. "Have you never seen gourmet food?"

 

"I guess not."

 

"Buen provecho."

 

As they eat, Andy wonders if she could be paid in food to work in the Majestic's kitchen. She's pretty sure that American cuisine pales in comparison. She and Miranda eat in relative silence; Andy can tell that Miranda isn't fond of idle dinner chit-chat and focuses mostly on her meal. She pauses at times for fear of choking when she watches Miranda eat. By the way she slowly chews her food and occasionally closes her eyes, Andy can tell that her meal is a blissful experience. She feels like she can almost taste the prawns herself.

 

When they finish their meals, Andy can't help but notice that Miranda looks particularly…sated. She wonders if that's the same look she gets when she's just gotten laid and she wonders if she'll find out for herself.

 

The waitress takes their plates and brings them coffee, and Andy revels in watching Miranda lean back in her chair and grin.

 

Andy can't resist. She leans her elbows on the table, grins, and asks, "Was it as good for you as it was for me?"

 

Miranda snorts. "Where do you come up with these lines?"

 

"I don't even know. I suppose you inspire me."

 

"I like to believe I can inspire better than that."

 

Andy shivers visibly and Miranda's smile widens.

 

"Would you like dessert?"

 

"I can think of plenty of things I'd like for dessert," Andy replies, wiggling her eyebrows.

 

Miranda shakes her head. "Have you reneged on our deal so soon?"

 

"No! I just can't help it. I'm a  flirt.

 

"Apparently."

 

"Oh come on, you know you're loving the attention." 

 

Miranda shrugs, her mouth tilted in a smirk.

 

"Hey…I can promise you the VIP treatment, you know…"

 

"Andrea -- really?" She shakes her head. "For an aspiring writer, I'm disappointed in how much your lines are lacking in originality."

 

"I'm a bit out of practice."

 

"Don't make excuses, Andrea. It's unbecoming."

 

The jest hits Andy harder than she anticipates. "I'm not making an excuse, Miranda. Working as your assistant doesn't exactly allow for the most thought-provoking, challenging projects. I'm surprised my IQ level hasn't dropped."

 

Miranda jerks as if slapped. "Excuse me?"

 

"I…I'm sorry. I didn't--"

 

"You can stop right there with whatever you're planning to say. I don't care to hear any more of it."

 

Andy exhales sharply through her nose. "You can't just pick and choose which conversations you want to have. You all but called me stupid, Miranda. Let's talk about that."

 

"I did nothing of the sort. Don't you dare condescend to put words in my mouth."

 

Andy bites her tongue, takes a deep breath, and looks at Miranda. "Listen….I'm not knocking you or Runway or fashion, okay? I respect all of that. But working as an assistant is not the job I want to be doing. This isn't a career. Finding unattainable manuscripts or picking up scarves from Hermes is not challenging in the way I need it to be. It's not expanding my mind, it's not making me or the world around me better in any way."

 

"Do you honestly expect that a woman fresh out of college can waltz into any publication and get any job she wants? In this, or any other business, you have to work your way up. How naïve are you?"

 

"I'm not naïve. But I think I'm ready to try again, Miranda. I think…dammit, this is coming out all wrong from what I planned."

 

"You planned this conversation?"

 

Andy stares at her helplessly. "Miranda…look. I want to be with you. I can't do that and still be your assistant."

 

"That's what this is about? Your so-called work ethic?"

 

"What?"

 

"You've been pushing for months to sleep me, regardless of our work relationship, my marriage, my children, my status-- now that all suddenly matters to you?"

 

"It's always mattered, Miranda! But I'm not going to deny that things have changed. It started out so confusing…I wanted you. I still want you, but now it's not just about sex. I have--" she sighs. "I have feelings for you, Miranda, feelings that aren't going to make working with you any easier."

 

Miranda looks away. "So this grand gesture is because of your feelings. You assume that if you leave, you and I will magically have a relationship?"

 

Andy fights back frustrated tears. "I don't it's not that fucking simple, Miranda. And no, this doesn't completely have to do with what I want out of this with you. It plays a big part. What happens when we get back to New York? Whether we sleep together or not, things are different. It's not going to be easy to hide how I feel about you and, try as you might, you're not exactly a closed book. People are bound to notice sooner or later that you stare at me for minutes at a time and then ignore me twice as long. We can't do this and still work together."

 

"We don't even know what this is, Andrea," Miranda spits through gritted teeth. "We have no idea where this will go. I am unable to give you the things you want at this point. I only just separated from Stephen. I have two young girls to consider. My last priority is my own happiness."

 

"That doesn't mean that we can't see each other. I fully appreciate your need for discretion. I completely respect that. It wouldn't help either of us to have this affair splashed across Page Six. How would I ever get another job when everyone would assume I got a recommendation by getting into your pants? I'm not stupid."

 

Miranda snorts.

 

A tear escape and rolls down Andy's cheek, dropping onto the tablecloth. "That's not fair, Miranda. You think I'm stupid because I want to have a job that's worthwhile and because I want to be with you too. You know what? This isn't up to you? You don't own me at Runway. Recommendation or not, I'll find something that makes me feel like I'm making some kind of difference and not just stroking the egos of a bunch of people playing dress-up."

 

"Do not make a spectacle, Andrea."

 

Andy laughs indignantly. "A spec--" She plucks her cloth napkin out of her lap and throws it onto the table when she stands. "Forget it, Miranda. Open your goddamn eyes." She shoves her chair back and walks away, not caring that people have given in to their curiosity and are staring. She can't really stop at the tears from coming.

 

She wanders aimlessly in the lobby and nearly collides with an older couple. She apologizes profusely and decides she needs to get away from people. She stands near the row of elevators and feels as though she's waiting for an hour. A queue has formed and she fidgets, attempting to hide her crying face. She takes the pins out of her hair and allows it to fall over her shoulders and, when she shuffles her fingers through it, one of the elevators opens.

 

Shoving herself inside, she takes refuge in the corner and allows the people to pack in around her. She waves off a question about which floor she'd like and closes her eyes.

 

What did she really expect? That Miranda would support her> Throw her a going away party? Part her on the back and say, "Thank you for quitting your job before your year is up and leaving me with another position to fill!" Andy stomps her foot and tosses her head back against the wall, not caring who's looking at her. She hurts inside.

 

What's so wrong with wanting to be with her? Of course they don't know what will happen, but who are they to deny the obvious pull between them? Why would they risk throwing away something good for the sake of formality or because of what other people think?

 

Did Miranda really, actually think that Andy would should from the rooftops about their relationship?

 

Her throat stings from crying. Her eyes burn. Her heart is heavy.

 

She doesn't know how long she rides the elevator for. She's traveled to the top of the building to the very bottom and back up again. At one point, a man hands her his kerchief. "No llores," he says.

 

She forces herself to leave the elevator when a couple beside her begin making out so passionately that Andy realizes they might not really care that they have an audience. She wanders aimlessly down a long corridor and stops when she realizes that she's on the floor that houses several of the suites.

 

"Seriously?" Andy asks herself. She looks down the hall; Miranda's door looms ominously and solid in the distance.

 

She wonders if this is some sort of sign.

 

Taking a deep breath, she walks to the door and knocks. She doesn’t even know what she's going to say, but standing here feels like it's the right thing to do. There is no answer. She knocks again, longer this time.

 

She sighs and looks up the number above the door. She's in the right place.

 

She knocks once more, louder and harder. "Miranda?" Andy says loudly. She pauses, waits, listens. Nothing.

 

Andy has the sudden urge to throw a tantrum. Instead, her tears are renewed and she sits on the floor, leaning back against the door. She toes off her heels, wanting to throw them at the opposite wall, and draws her knees to her chest.

 

She cries until her chest hurts. She wants something to be easy for once instead of so goddamn complicated.

 

"Andrea."

 

Andy lifts her head and blinks up at Miranda. Her heart has just stopped beating.

 

"I went to your room." Miranda swallows, gripping her clutch tightly. "You weren't there."

 

"Why?" Andy croaks. "Why were you looking for me?"

 

"Our conversation wasn't finished."

 

"You didn't seem that interested in talking."

 

Miranda holds out her hand. "Andrea, will you come in?"

 

Andy stares at the hand, remembering the moment they shook hands over the table. She accepts it and allows Miranda to pull her to her feet. While Miranda deftly slides her keycard through the door and turns on the lights, Andy swipes up her shoes and wipes at her cheeks.

 

"Wow," Andy says, looking around the suite. Through wet eyes she takes in the couch and matching armchairs, the tall lamps and artwork, the entertainment center with the flat screen television, the large picture window overlooking the Paseo de Gracia. Standing amidst it all is Miranda, her eyes hesitant as if she's worried she'll run off.

 

Andy swallows. "Suddenly I don't feel much like talking."

 

Miranda does not reply. She leans to the side and places her clutch on the center table. Her eyes unwavering, Miranda slowly walks forward until she's standing only a breath away. She takes Andy's purse and drops it to the floor. She takes Andy's shoes and flings them aside.

 

Andy holds her breath. Miranda leans in and kisses her.

 

Suddenly it doesn't matter that she's been crying. Nothing in that moment matters except the fact that Andy can enjoy this kiss without fearing that it will be the last one.

 

Miranda's mouth is warm. They kiss softly, slowly. Miranda brushes feather-light kisses over her lips, pausing to nip at her bottom lip before crushing their mouths together in a deeper kiss. When Andy feels Miranda's tongue enter her mouth and stroke against her own, she has to grip Miranda's hips to steady herself from falling. The motion brings their bodies flush together and Miranda groans.

 

Andy feels like she's spinning.

 

The slippery fabric of the dress at Miranda's hips feels exquisite against her fingers, and she takes the opportunity to roam her hands around her rounded frame and the dip of her hourglass waist. She can feel Miranda shudder against her.

 

When Miranda pulls back, Andy knows that she's not going to run away. It's a good feeling.

 

Miranda cups her face in her hands and wipes away the tears lingering on her lashes and cheeks. She looks…not lost….something different, something Andy has never seen before.

 

She looks found.

 

"I've wanted this for so long," Miranda admits, stepping closer to Andy. She presses her back until she is leaning against the door.

 

Andy moans. "No more waiting." She cups the back of Miranda's head and pulls her in for another kiss, the kind that curls Andy's toes and leaves her a sopping mess. She feels the chasm between them dismantling with each stroke of tongue and brush of lip, and it's the best thing Andy's ever experienced.

 

Miranda retreats, tipping her forehead against Andy's. Her breath is hot and sweet. Andy can still smell the wine from dinner. She feels drunk off of this. Miranda's lips move, as if she's talking but the words evaporate on her lips. Andy wants to ask her what's on her mind, what she's thinking, but then Miranda pressed her tongue to the skin behind her ear and coherent thought dissipates. Her eyelids flutter closed and she shakes as Miranda nips at the sensitive skin with her teeth. Miranda's hands grip her shoulders and then slide down her chest, passing briefly over her breasts before clutching her waist.

 

As Miranda's mouth lingers along the lengthy expanse of Andy's neck, she sooths her hands over Miranda's back, reveling in the feel of Miranda's breasts pressing against her own. She arches into her body and sighs.

 

When Miranda's teeth meet Andy's collarbone, Andy can feel her own wetness dripping down her thighs. She's obscenely wet; months of frenzied self pleasuring to thoughts of this moment have failed completely in preparing her for how scintillatingly delicious she feels. She snaps to life, deciding that she can no longer remain a gooey mess while Miranda has all the fun. Her fingers find the zipper at the back of Miranda's dress and slowly begin to ease it down. Miranda hisses and the combined sound is enough to send Andy into orbit.

 

Andy can feel the muscles in Miranda's lower back jumping under her touch, her incendiary mouth reclaiming Andy's in a desperate, deliberate kiss. Miranda's hands reach lower, reaching beneath the dress to grip at her bare thighs. Miranda rakes her nails against Andy's flesh and Andy jerks as if burned.

 

"You feel incredible," Miranda says when she pulls away. She nuzzles her nose against Andy's temple, nudging her thick brown hair aside. She places a soft kiss there. She kisses Andy's forehead while her hands massage small circles around her hips. Andy instinctively widens her legs and her knees nearly buckle when Miranda steps between them, angling her hips to press against her own. Andy thinks briefly about the possibility of her dress being ruined but the thought is fleeting as Miranda teasingly flicks her tongue against Andy's lips. She attempts to follow, to capture the tongue in her mouth, but Miranda is quick. She pulls back and grins.

 

"I want you so badly," Andy whispers. She cups Miranda's backside and notes the lack of panty lines. She wonders if Miranda is wearing a thong or is simply bare beneath the dress and cannot wait to find out. She pulls up the dress inch by agonizing inch until it's bunched in her left hand. With her right, she strokes over the smooth globes of Miranda's ass and feels the thin suggestion of a g-string. She whimpers.

 

Miranda's groan is loud in her ear and it draws out one of her own. They're touching each other in every way but the ways that count. Andy sinks her nails into Miranda's ass and rubs against her, whimpering when the spot the so desperately needs the attention isn't reached.

 

"I want you," Miranda moans, her voice low and throaty, "in a bed." She makes out with Andy's throat. "I will not do this against a wall like depraved teenagers."

 

Andy chuckles and, before she can lose the nerve, flips them so that Miranda's the one with her back to the wall. She grabs her arms and pins them above her head. Miranda gasps, her lips parted as her labored breathing comes out in hot pants against Andy's cheek. "I'd love to fuck you against a wall," Andy admits, pressing her leg between Miranda's thighs. She tilts her hips, bringing it up against Miranda's center. Miranda cries out. "I think you'd love it too. You'd love to have me kneeling down on the floor, wouldn't you?"

 

Miranda closes her eyes and tips her head back against the door, sighing. She struggled half-heartedly against Andy's restraint and whispers a nearly unintelligible "please."

 

Andy grins. She indulges in Miranda's neck, kissing and licking and biting until Miranda's squirming becomes too much. "I'm not even on my knees yet, Miranda."

 

"Oh God," Miranda hisses, leaning her head forward to pull Andy into a kiss. Andy says just out of reach, brushing her lips teasingly against her.

 

Andy lets go of Miranda's arms, trailing her hands languidly along the ivory length of them. She gathers her fingers around the thick straps of her dress and encourages them over her shoulders, drawing them effortlessly down her arms. As soon as the fabric droops and uncovers Miranda's breasts, she has to close her eyes and remind herself to breath.

 

Miranda is wearing a strapless than bra, its floral lace design swirling enticingly around the mounds of her breasts. They're exquisite. Andy's mouth goes dry. She bends down and begins to gently rove her tongue along each perfect swell, bestowing equal attention amongst them. She kisses along the edge of the bra and swipes her tongue beneath it, grazing against a crinkled nipple. Miranda cries out.

 

Andy decides that lavishing Miranda's breasts with attention is something that will take a great deal more time and shifts so that she is kneeling on the plush mahogany-colored carpet. She draws the straps of the dress lower, baring Miranda's stomach. Her flat abdomen pulses rapidly with Miranda's harried breaths and Andy kisses it gently. Miranda twitches hard against her.

 

"Are you nervous, Miranda?" she asks, looking up. She blinks several times, exaggerating her large, doe eyes, and her own nipples tighten to see Miranda rendered speechless: she is biting her lip and has her eyes clenched tightly closed. She drags the rest of the dress down Miranda's hips and thighs, groaning to see the wisp of the cream-colored g-string, and allows the dress to pool at Miranda's feet. "You're gorgeous," Andy says, kissing Miranda's thigh. She can smell her from this distance. It's intoxicating.

 

"Bed," Miranda croaks. "Now."

 

Andy should be irritated with herself at how quickly she stands and follows Miranda's request, but Miranda is kissing her and that takes precedence. Miranda's arms curl around her neck and Andy's snake around her waist. They neck like they've never kissed before, gripping and groping and moaning like this is a means to an end in and of itself. Andy guides them back slowly, allowing Miranda to maneuver the heap of fabric at her feet. They don't break for a minute.

 

Walking and kissing becomes too much for Andy to focus on. She fancies herself an excellent multitasker but Miranda is half-naked and it's distracting her. She stops them at the minibar and shoves Miranda against it, inserting herself once more between Miranda's thighs. She sucks on Miranda's collarbone while her hands cup at Miranda's breasts, squeezing and rolling them beneath her palms. Miranda whines and twines her fingers in Andy's hair, urging her on.

 

"Andrea," Miranda whispers.

 

Andy pauses. "Fuck," she mumbles into Miranda's chest. Her hands fumble behind Miranda's back before she is able to unclasp the bra. She tosses it aside and lets out another obscenity at the sight of Miranda's bared breasts before her. She wants to stare and memorizes their slopes and curves and hues, but there will be time for that later. Now, she dips her head and takes one puckered nipple between her lips.

 

It becomes clear to them both that Miranda is not likely to last in this position. She's trembling harder than ever and her moans have degenerated into broken gasps and pleas.

 

Andy switches nipples, sucking hard before laving it with the flat of her tongue.

 

"Ah…" Miranda gasps. Her torso jerks.

 

Before Andy can fully comprehend what's happening, Miranda grabs Andy's hand, places it between her legs, and comes as soon as the heel of her palm is pressed against her cunt.

 

"Oh…uhn…oh!"

 

Andy releases the nipple, staring at Miranda in shock as she comes. She feels Miranda's arousal soaking her hand through her thong and she can feel the harsh throb of her clit.

 

Miranda's face is awash in ecstasy. It's the most amazing thing Andy has ever seen. She feels drunk on power. She's reduced Miranda to this.  She's made her climax on foreplay. The thought of it is almost enough to make her come herself.

 

Almost.

 

Miranda slowly opens her eyes, blinking several times before looking Andy in the eye. Her cheeks her flushed and bright. She raises an eyebrow. "Completely disobeyed my wishes…"

 

"I tried!" Andy retorts with a grin, kissing Miranda on the mouth. "I can't help it if you couldn't make it to the bed."

 

"At least it wasn't against the door," Miranda concedes. She shifts, kicking off her heels. "I want you on that bed, Andrea. Now."

 

Andy giggles and promptly replaces her smile with a serious face. "Yes ma'am!" She stands and heads for the bedroom. Miranda stops her once they pass into the smaller room. She pulls her back flush against her front, her breath hot against Andy's ear. She licks the shell of her ear and Andy shivers.

 

Not being able to see Miranda only heightens Andy's sensitivity when the older woman's nails rake down her arms. She teases them upwards again and, once she reaches Andy's shoulders, Miranda reaches to cup her breasts. Andy sighs, leans her head back against Miranda's shoulder, and closes her eyes.

 

Miranda teases her mercilessly, pinching her through dress and bra, giving her everything but what she so badly needs. Andy reaches back and grabs at Miranda's hips. While one of Miranda's hands continues to twist and pull at Andy's breast, her other hand drops, sliding down her stomach, over her pelvis, and cups between her legs. Andy cries out her name and jerks back against her.

 

"Oh my God…"

 

Miranda chuckles and pulls away. Andy whimpers at the loss of contact.

 

In one swift motion, Miranda sweeps Andy's dress over her head, throwing it in the direction of the desk beside them. She unhooks the bra, casting that aside, and replaces her hands on Andy's breasts while she bites her shoulder.

 

Andy wonders if she'll even make it to the bed before she comes.

 

Miranda releases her and slowly sashays around Andy's body. Despite being naked, Miranda stands with a confident air that sends chills down Andy's spine. She lowers her gaze, taking in the sight of Andy's nearly naked body, and grins appreciatively.

 

"I've wanted to see this for a very long time."

 

"Just this?"

 

Miranda does not reply. She simply hooks her finger in Andy's silk underwear and pulls her slowly towards the bed.  Andy glorifies in gazing at Miranda, memorizing every detail she can. Miranda stops.

 

"What's wrong?" Andy asks.

 

"No one looks at me like you do," Miranda says. Her tone is almost shy.

 

"Is that a good or a bad thing?"

 

"I'm not sure." Miranda tilts her head to the side and purses her lips.

 

"Let's decide later, shall we?" Andy steps forward and pushes Miranda back onto the king sized bed. She follows her and presses Miranda back against the bed when she attempts to sit up. Her own lack of climax is all but forgotten when she lavishes her eyes on the image of Miranda splayed wantonly on her bed.

 

She licks her lips and reacquaints herself with Miranda's breasts, taking her time between them. Miranda writhes beneath her.

 

She peppers brief kisses over Miranda's stomach and she shifts, bringing her body between Miranda's legs. When Miranda stops whimpering long enough to realize where Andy is and what she's about to do, her eyes widen.

 

"Trust me," Andy says, placing a kiss on Miranda's knee as she reaches forward and draws the g-string down her legs. She crouches low, licking her lips at the sight of Miranda's triangular patch of silver hair. She can see the short hairs glistening with moisture. She suppresses a groan and leans in.

 

It's better than Andy had ever fantasized. Her imagination is nothing on the real thing; Miranda is hot and slick. She's swollen, her pink folds puffed and exposing her. She tastes almost bittersweet, like red wine. She smells incredible.

 

Andy swipes her tongue across the length of her slit, gathering her moisture against her tongue. "I've thought about this so many fucking times, Miranda," Andy says, using her fingers to spread her wider. She's gorgeous here in her most intimate place. She could stare forever. "At work, you sitting at your desk, me kneeling on the floor beneath you…I think about it almost every day."

 

"Ooooh," Miranda groans, throwing an arm over her eyes. She thrusts her hips towards Andy's mouth.

 

Andy takes the hint and shuts up. There's time for dirty talk later. Instead she focuses on the little protruding nub between her nether lips. She teases it with the tip of her tongue and Miranda shrieks and bucks against her. Andy does it again, swirling her tongue around her clit and then from side to side.

 

For never having fucked a woman before, Andy feels like she's doing a pretty damn good job. She gets a smug feeling of satisfaction to hear Miranda's cries of pleasure and they encourage her on. She daringly flicks her tongue against her puckered opening and presses it slightly inside. Miranda's arousal is thick and rich here. Andy moans her appreciation.

 

"Please," Miranda croaks.

 

Andy returns to Miranda's clitoris, repeating her earlier ministrations. Her fingers tease her opening, toying back and forth before she slides two of them in. Miranda's entire body jerks. She begins to fuck her in earnest. She loses a little of her earlier swagger, feeling distracted between laving with her tongue and thrusting with her fingers. Miranda doesn't seem to notice.

 

When Andy slurps her clit between her lips and sucks, Miranda's entire body goes rigid for a flash of a moment before she comes, her body convulsing in hard, quick waves. She grips Andy like a vice and shakes and sighs and moans. Andy moves her tongue until Miranda is pushing her away and the spasms subside.

 

Andy slowly pulls out her fingers, sits back on her heels, and watches as Miranda begins to revive.

 

"Tell me again why I denied that for so long?"

 

Andy laughs as she climbs over Miranda's lethargic body and drops to the mattress beside her. "Because you're insane."

 

"Certifiable." Miranda looks at Andy and smiles. "You're exquisite."

 

Andy blushes. "So are you."

 

Miranda shakes her head. "Allow me to compliment you without turning it around on me."

 

"I will work on that," Andy replies, leaning in to kiss Miranda on the nose. "Promise."

 

Miranda smiles. "Good." She sits up and leans over Andy's body, tracing a finger over her torso in a random circular pattern. "I've hoped to see more of you in your little displays on the webcam. Did you deliberately withhold?"

 

Andy nods and swallows when Miranda dips her head to swallow a nipple. She sucks and bites at it, drawing it between her teeth. Andy's eyelids flutter but she is determined to watch.

 

"I often wondered if I'd catch you off guard," Miranda admits, switching to the opposite breast. "I confess that I often checked."

 

"Ooh…Miranda…" Andy sighs breathlessly. She jumps when Miranda's hand steals between her thighs, tracing her through the silk.

 

"I often wondered what it might be like to just give in…to do exactly this." On the last word, she presses her thumb against Andy's clit.

 

Andy closes her eyes because she doesn't have the strength to keep them open. She listens to Miranda speak in a soft, husky cadence above the roaring in her ears. She delights in the feel of Miranda teasing her body, forcing it to tighten and coil like a spring about to snap. Miranda's hand slides beneath the panties and delves between her folds, and then Andy loses her mind. The feel of her teasing is too much. She can't breathe, she can't speak, she can't see -- she can't do anything but follow Miranda to the precipice and wait to be pushed over the edge.

 

"I've been so jealous of your hands, Andrea. I've wanted to make you come." She slips two fingers effortlessly inside and brushes the heel of her palm against her clit. "Come for me now, Andrea. Don't make me wait any longer."

 

She does. She comes so hard that she sees stars, that she feels like she's going to black out. Her body shatters into a thousand pieces and each nerve ending in her body fires and jolts and electrifies her entire being. She bucks and jerks against Miranda's hand, riding each perfect wave until she can't handle it anymore.

 

She all but collapses back against the bed. Her limbs feel numb. That scares her a little bit; she's never felt like this before. "I think you killed me," Andy mumbles. Her vision is still hazy.

 

Miranda chuckles. "I certainly hope not." She withdraws her hand and drags it along Andy's thigh.

 

"Hey!" Andy cries with a pout. "What, you don't like me on your fingers?"

 

"I like you on my fingers very much," Miranda confesses. She kisses her.

 

"Enough to make it more than a one time thing?" Andy wiggles her eyebrows.

 

Miranda laughs. "What happened to our deal?"

 

"I guess I lied." She sits up and rolls on top of Miranda. "I'm laying it all out there, Miranda…I want much more of you."

 

"You're greedy, aren't you?"

 

Andy nods and grins. "Very." She gives her a long, languorous kiss. "Whaddya say about checking out the hydro-massage bath?"

 

"I could be persuaded…"

 

"I'll wash your hair and rub your shoulders…"

 

Miranda smirks. "You've had worse ideas." They kiss lazily. "Let's go."

 

---

 

As Andy sits in the Majestic's lobby on the following evening, her stomach is in knots. She feels like she's going crazy; one minute she's blushing at the thought of what Miranda did to her in the bathtub, and the next she's wondering how long this happiness can possibly last before it's snatched away.

 

What she knows for certain is this: they have to revisit the job conversation. It's clear to her, following the events of the day, that there's no way that they can work together now that they've had sex.

 

It's not that anyone was entirely out of the ordinary -- Andy accompanied Miranda to several of her meetings and even got to watch a photoshoot. Business carried on as usual, but Andy knew things were different. Andy could barely contain her blushing and stammering and fidgeting. All she could think about was Miranda's naked body and when she'd get to see it again. Miranda was much more conservative with her reactions, but it was obvious that Miranda was distracted.

 

That's why Andy knows for certain that she has to leave. She can get away with it in Barcelona with a bunch of strangers but at Runway? They'll be all over her. It would take one moment of indiscretion for a rumor to start, and it would only snowball from there. How long would it take for it to reach the papers? To effect the divorce proceedings? To get back to the girls?

 

No. Andy will leave Runway and get a job flipping burgers before she lets any of that happen.

 

She angles her body over the arm of the chair as she waits for Miranda to appear out of one of the elevators.

 

Nothing yet.

 

She squirms nervously. They have a date and Andy is so nervous and so excited that she might actually burst into hysterical laughter.

 

While she had been washing Miranda's hair in the spacious tub, she all but begged to take Miranda on a date. Miranda casually reminded her that she had a working lunch and a dinner party to attend. Andy knew this, of course, and offered to take her out for a dessert -- her treat. Despite Miranda's balking at the idea, she agreed.

 

During her free afternoon, Andy bought Miranda an outfit to wear. It set her back a pretty penny, but seeing it on Miranda would be highly worth it.

 

She fidgets in her chair and bites her lip.

 

When she looks up again, she sees Miranda emerge from a group of people who have just stepped out of an elevator. She looks incredible and Andy has to catch her breath. It makes her grin to see that Miranda is wearing everything that Andy has purchased for her: tight designer jeans and a flowy deep red blouse. She's added a pair of black heels and is carrying a black clutch.

 

Andy stands up and smoothes out her flowing, multi-color skirt. She's seen vibrantly colorful shirts on many of the women in the city. Andy feels exotic and beautiful.

 

Miranda gives her a dramatic once over, grinning as she closes the gap between them. She stands a respectable distance away, but is close enough for Andy to hear her whisper, "You look lovely."

 

Andy smiles. "You look amazing."

 

"I must say, dressing down was not what I had in mind when you said you wanted to take me out tonight."

 

"Or dressing at all?"

 

"That will come later, I'm sure."

 

"On that you have my guarantee." She motions towards the door. "Shall we?"

 

"Where, pray tell, are we going?"

 

They exist the hotel and into the warm evening Barcelonan night. Andy can smell the ocean from here. "Just a little place I found during my exploration this afternoon."

 

"Table for two at the Erotica Museum?"

 

Andy laughs. She feels buoyant and skips a little. "Someone's hung up on the idea of that museum. I think you not-so-secretly want to go."

 

Miranda rolls her eyes. "I was joking."

 

"Miranda Priestly jokes. Who knew?" Andy notices Miranda's pout. "Not that I mind, of course. Humor is sexy on you."

 

"It comes so naturally to me," Miranda deadpans.

 

They walk in companionable silence while they walk the short distance to the café. Nestled in between a bookstore and a Mediterranean restaurant, Mama Cecilo's proudly sits and boasts the best dessert for miles.

 

"This is unexpected," Miranda says. Andy attempts to read her face; she's not certain, but she'd guess that Miranda is pleased.

 

Andy orders them each coffee and tiny desserts to pick and choose from. Goodies in hand, she and Miranda sit on the back patio at a table that overlooks a beautiful garden. She picks up one of the tiny cakes and holds it to Miranda's lips. Miranda takes a bite.

 

"Mmm…" Miranda says as she chews. "I don't usually partake in dessert, but that's exceptionally delicious."

 

"I'm glad that you decided to indulge with me, Miranda."

 

Miranda appears thoughtful before picking up another cake and feeding it to Andy. "So am I."

 

Andy sighs happily and leans back in her chair, enjoying the sight of Miranda against a backdrop of lights and flowers. "I don't want to leave tomorrow."

 

"We can't stay forever."

 

"It's a nice thought though, isn't it?" Andy sips her coffee. "We could stay here and you can run the Spanish Fashion Empire, and I'll be your mistress who indulges your every whim."

 

"I already have that in New York," Miranda replies with a smirk.

 

Andy laughs. "Things are going to change when we get back, aren't they?"

 

Miranda nods.

 

"I wish we could stay like this for a while longer."

 

"And since we can't?"

 

"Then I'll say this: I'm serious about us. I really want to be with you -- that's the only thing I'm sure of. And…I know it'll be tough when I'm not your assistant anymore because I won't see you that much, but I think we could make it work…discretely, of course."

 

"Why are you so insistent upon leaving?"

 

"It's important for both of us. I don't want to do anything that will compromise your situation right now, and it's only a matter of time before it happens if I stay in that office." Andy pops a cake into her mouth and smiles around the mouthful of food. "Besides, it's going to be pretty damn obvious that I'm head over heels for the boss." She places a hand over Miranda's where it sits on the table. "So as much as I'm doing this for my career, I'm doing it for you and the girls."

 

Miranda looks out over the garden. Her silence is making Andy nervous.

 

A sound interrupts Miranda's ominous reflection: Miranda's cell phone. She is pulled from her reverie and reaches into her purse for her cell phone.

 

"Yes?....Well, did you decide on a replacement for Evangeline since she's dropped out?...Yes, Nigel, I except you to provide a few options. I didn't put you in charge during my absence so that you can call me every time a problem arises."

 

Andy busies herself with her coffee and one of the few remaining cakes while Miranda talks to Nigel, not wanting to appear as thought she's eavesdropping. She nervously watch as Miranda's finger traces the lip of the coffee mug.

 

"Very good….Yes…No…And Nigel, I would like you to put a call in to Human Resources. We will be requiring candidates for a new second assistant."

 

Andy's face breaks into a huge grin.

 

"It's been decided that Andrea's better suited outside of Runway…she will stay on until we have found a suitable replacement….Yes, that's all." Miranda hangs up the phone and calmly places it in her purse.

 

"You're really going for it?" Andy shrieks.

 

"It appears I don't have much say in the matter," Miranda concedes. "Your happiness is important to me, but it's also important that you realize things will not be simple."

 

Andy leans over and kisses Miranda. "I think I can handle anything now," Andy says with a grin.

 

Miranda looks around them, as if making sure no one has seen them. "Shall we get back to the hotel? I'd like to make the most of our last night in Barcelona; that is, unless you'd prefer to stay here and chat."

 

Andy stands and holds out her hand. Miranda takes it.

 

---  

 

Nine Months Later

 

Miranda hangs up the phone in time to hear a faint beep coming from her Mac. She casts her eyes to the outer office. Gretchen has disappeared, likely to her lunch break, and Anya is staring absently at the wall. Miranda rolls her eyes, thinking wistfully to the time when here assistants were more than vapid mannequins. She lifts the screen of her laptop, clicks a button, and as soon as a box pops onto the screen she says, "I loathe you for what you've done to me."

 

"Hello to you too, babe," Andrea replies with a smile. The sight of it makes Miranda soften. "What have I done to you?"

 

"Because of your ridiculous need to be noble, I'm forced to deal with two completely incompetent excuses for employees."

 

Andrea laughs as she takes out the rubber band in her hair, shaking it free to fall around her shoulders. Something warms significantly inside of her. "It's not my fault that Emily transferred to another branch."

 

Miranda waves her hands dismissively and leans back in her chair. She suppresses a smirk when she notices Andrea's gaping mouth. "Yes?"

 

"You're wearing that?"

 

Miranda looks down at herself as if she's unaware of the outfit she's carefully chosen to wear. "They're just clothes."

 

"Just clothes my ass! You picked that cerulean shirt and that vest on purpose!"

 

"Why ever would I do that?"

 

"Because I'm in Toronto and you're punishing me for it."

 

Miranda gives her sweetest smile. "Why would I punish you?"

 

Andrea groans. "Because I'm stuck here for three days doing research for The Mirror instead of there." She whines again. "You know that outfit's like kryptonite for me."

 

Miranda chuckles and fluffs her collar.

 

"I hate you."

 

"No you don't."

 

Andrea sits back. "I guess I don't. Besides, I know how to pay you back for that evil little stunt."

 

Miranda raises an eyebrow and leans forward, resting her chin on her folded hands. "You wouldn't dare."

 

"Oh, but wouldn't I?" Andrea shimmies her corduroy jacket off of her shoulders, baring a plain white tank top. "Like what you see?"

 

Miranda purses her lips. "I've seen it before."

 

"Oh, is that how it is?" Andrea says, pulling the tank top over her head. "So I can do this and it won't be that big of a deal?"

 

Miranda feels herself growing slick between her legs. She notices that Andrea is wearing only a sheer suggestion of a bra. She licks her lips at the sight of her nipples puckered and pressed against the gray material. "And I'm sure that was no accident."

 

"Nope. Like it? I had some free time this morning before the school opened. I bought it just for you."

 

Miranda cannot take her eyes off of her screen. Her judgment is placed on hold when Andrea begins to pull at the strings holding the bra together in a pert bow between her generous breasts. "Don't," she orders. Andrea does it anyway, exposing herself completely to Miranda's gaze. She enticingly traces her fingertips along the swell of her breasts, right in the places that Miranda likes to lick. She feels her mouth robbed of its moisture as it accumulates elsewhere.

 

Andrea tosses her head back as she pinches both of her nipples.

 

"Did you hear that Cavalli--"

 

Miranda snaps the screen of the computer shut, jolting to her feet. She stares at Nigel. She had no idea that he had even crept up beside her.

 

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to…" His eyes flick to the computer. "Did I just see--"

 

"You saw nothing."

 

He clears his throat and bites his tongue between his teeth. "You're right. My imagination. I saw nothing."

 

Miranda straightens her back and stares him down. "Just like I've never seen Uncut Delivery Boys Ride Bareback on the company credit card."

 

Nigel clears his throat. "You play dirty."

 

"And I always win."

 

There is an awkward silence, followed by Nigel's explanation about the latest scandal at a Cavalli fashion show. The story amuses her and she forces an exaggerated laugh, the sort that suggests that two longstanding employees can respect each other's secrets and still share a laugh.

 

Nigel promptly retreats to the Art Department. She notices her assistants changing guard in the outer office. She opens the computer and is disappointed to see that Andrea has already gone. An instant message pops up: I hope I didn't hear who I think I heard! Poor Miranda! I promise to be a good girl while I'm gone -- you better do the same. As soon as I'm off this plane, you're mine. Love you, beautiful. ~A.

 

Miranda smiles and leans back in the leather chair, tapping her lips with her finger. There had been a time when she considered hiring Andrea Sachs to be the worst decision she'd ever made. Andrea had since proven her wrong.

 

Miranda now knows that hiring Andrea was a good decision on her part but, even better, was her decision to support her leaving.

 

Happiness doesn't come easily to Miranda Priestly. Now that she has it, she isn't keen on letting it go.