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For Charity

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In 1913, the Prada business began in Milan, Italy, starting as a shop specializing in leather products. Mario and Martino, two brothers, were the founders of the company, and Mario specifically rejected the notion of allowing female family members to help run the business. However, when Mario’s son failed to rise to the occasion as Mario’s successor and takeover the company, Luisa Prada, Mario’s daughter, ran the company for twenty years. This legacy was then passed down to her daughter.

While asserting such feminist origins as the main reason behind my preference for Prada footwear would make an idealistic story, the simple truth was that I just genuinely admired the shoes. Andrea would claim I had an unhealthy addiction to what dons my feet. Prada was more than a pair of heels; it was a symbolic weapon.

I was the dark queen the struck fear with every move.

I was the embodiment of evil that clacked with a demonic stride.

I was the Devil in Prada.

Each step I took echoed with shadowy mirth that signaled my approach in the lobby of Elias-Clark. I observed behind my Gucci sunglasses that eyes shifted nervously as I passed, leaving dread in my wake. I kept the onlookers in the corner of my eye; my gaze was directed straight ahead as I marched forward. I loved the way in which the clicking of heels demanded attention in a crowded room; I did not need to avoid a sea of people, the sea easily parted for me. When I reached the security desk, I merely stared until access was granted. By now, my ascension to the board of directors was public knowledge, and, perhaps most importantly, I did not wear visitor tags. They clashed horribly with couture.

It wasn’t until I neared the elevator that I was close enough to inspect the looks of horror of the individuals seemingly frozen in place. However, as I stared deeply into the eyes of a young man rooted firmly beside the open, metal doors, I suddenly realized the lack of fear and anxiety. No, for him, and the two women I noticed beside him, as well as the mass of employees and interns I had passed upon my arrival, there was no fright.

It was respect.

I had finally gained admiration not from the threat of what I would do if someone crossed me but rather what I had done for those I loved.

Heads no longer bowed to hide; they sent me off with a smile to complete my revenge.

I had no idea what compelled me to do so, though I assume it was one of those brief, fleeting moments of emotion, and, as I stepped into the elevator and pressed the button that would bring me to the top floor, I nodded.

It was hard to resist a smile in the privacy of the elevator. It was as I was removing my glasses and slipping them into my purse that the moving box paused and the doors open.

And I was looking directly into the eyes of a fellow board member. My years of mingling sparked an immediate response, and a welcoming smirk curled onto my lips.

“Good morning, Miranda,” he kindly greeted, stepping in beside me while leaving a respectable distance, most likely knowing of my intolerance for companions in elevators.

“Hello, Mr. Richardson,” I replied as warmly as possible. After learning my lesson with his wife at the banquet, I was sure to prepare my own research in order to properly identify all my fellow board members.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see you around after I heard I’d missed the announcement of your retirement,” he stated politely, his eyes crinkling at the corners. Those were some of the few wrinkles on his face, and his strong jaw complimented his silver hair.

“Yes, it was quite sudden,” I responded nonchalantly, finding it unnecessary to rehash the drama concerning Irving the media had been continuously circulating for the past two weeks, “Your wife said you were feeling unwell. I hope all is better now?”

“It is, thank you. And yes, my wife was able to keep me updated on what I’d missed,” he said, finishing with a small pause before he continued, “She greatly enjoyed her time with Miss Sachs.”

My breath caught in my chest, but I forced my face to remain expressionless. I spoke with my eyes, catching his gaze and bearing intently in search of his meaning.

Even after all Andrea had done, was she also responsible for the formation of an alliance?

“I think she’d like it if the two of you joined us for dinner sometime,” Mr. Richardson concluded with his cheerful grin.

I managed to hide my sigh as I confirmed, “I believe Andrea would greatly enjoy it.”

He replied with a firm nod, and, as the elevator happily signaled our arrival to the top floor, he gestured forward.

“Shall we?”

Thus, my determined parade and victorious return continued down the hall with the inclusion of an ally. I had been to the great boardroom a handful of occasions, and I had certainly navigated the floor given it was home to Irving’s office. Framed editions of various Elias-Clark publications welcomed me with each step towards our destination. I felt myself smirk at the sight of Runway’s cover.

Mr. Richardson, ever the gentleman, insured his hand was ready to open the door to the boardroom before I could do it myself. I decided entering the space like a queen suited my mood much more precisely.

As we entered, three men in suits were already seated and appeared to be casually discussing something trivial. Based on the ill fit of the most robust of the group’s jacket, I doubted it was the latest trends in Armani’s warmer suit pallets.

The eldest of the group, who had applied considerably too much gel to his dark grey mane, stood from his seat and called, “Miranda Priestly. Sure is great to see you.”

“I assure, you the pleasure is all mine,” I smirk, strolling with steady strides around the table. I wished for the ideal position that would allow Irving to see me the moment he entered the room.

As we waited and the team assembled, so to speak, I basked in the attentions of those around me, businessmen young and old, one or two current or past editors of Elias-Clark’s creations, a good number merely men of money playing with stocks.

I internally frowned at the absence of a woman other than myself, something I had remembered finding unsatisfactory when educating myself about who would be in this room today.

Perhaps I was the first?

It was when Irving entered the door and refused to turn my way as he trudged towards his seat that I realized he too had most likely done his research. He knew I was coming, just as everyone else had.

I purred with evil delight.

As things started, to some degree, I missed the creative design meetings of Runway, challenging my staff to fearsomely spectacular new heights. The wide-eyed stares of distress and apprehension at my every intake of breath. The struggle and strife before something truly magnificent rose from the ashes of terminated ideas.

This manner in which this meeting began was incredibly and dreadfully boring.

Numbers, updates, and so on. It was as similar to those dreadful budget meetings with Irving yet on a grand scale that encompassed the entire company. The whole ordeal was incredibly platitudinous. My interest only peaked when a younger man of the original trio that had greeted me upon my entrance moved to the next item on the agenda.

Runway.

“As our leading publication, the fact sales are dropping so drastically is very problematic.”

“Maybe this has something to do with Miranda’s retirement,” Mr. Richardson offered smoothly, gesturing to me to which I politely bowed my head.

“Jacqueline has been performing just fine,” Irving said, trying to gather papers before him.

“Fine isn’t cutting it,” an old, bespectacled man declared firmly from the opposite end of the table.

“As someone who was heavily involved in the magazine, Miranda, what do you think?” said the gentleman with the atrocious hairstyle from when I first arrived. I was fairly certain his name was Mr. Florimo, but I lacked the time to properly analyze his face as I turned to the rest of the table to answer his question.

“The sales speak for themselves,” I replied assuredly, “Most publications see a peak in readership during a change of editors in the very least because the public is interested in the new leader’s work. To do so poorly even with this, shall we say, advantage is quite appalling,” I finished with a small bite in a voice and a smile in Irving’s direction, one I could see made him twitch.

There was a beat before the man in the hideous suit spoke up, “Looking at Miss Follet’s profits with French Runway, I’m surprised we decided to put her in charge.”

“I don’t think we ever had a conversation about putting her in charge. Mr. Ravitz made that choice on his own,” came the gruff bark from the old man. I was completely convinced this eldest member and I would be equally matched in a competition of sarcastic remarks and tones.

“She showed great promise given-“

“Let’s cut the crap. Irv, you made some changes that suck,” Mr. Florimo interrupted, his voice husky and confident, “So now we’re going to change them. Now, I don’t know much about fashion, so, Miranda, I’m going to ask you, who do you think is qualified to lead this magazine? Maybe someone already familiar with how Elias-Clark runs things?” he finished with a smirk in my direction.

There it was. Glittering and exquisite. My return to the throne. My ultimate revenge on those who had wronged me. My empire standing as strong as I had built it, and they were giving it to me on a silver platter.

I turned slowly to Irving’s position at the head of the table, and, as our gazes locked, I savored the look of perfect defeat in his eyes.

I had won.

“There is one individual I feel will be able to bounce back from this deficit and effectively rejuvenate and revolutionize Runway as a global leader,” I drawled slowly, keen to linger on each last syllable and the way it tasted in the sweetness of my vengeance.

The pause was ripe, the silence of the room was delicious as everyone prepared for my name to fall from my lips.

“Jeremiah Frost.”

Heads turned towards me with shock and fascination. Irving looked absolutely flabbergasted.

“He served much of his time with the Runway family in Britain as essentially the second-in-command to the editor there, a good friend and colleague of mine,” I explained simply and calmly, maintaining a mask of professionalism, “ For the past seven months, he has been here working with Runway as the head of the art and fashion departments, and I have been personally preparing him for an editorial role.”

My eyes swept past the room, assessing each individual before my eyes fell on my opponent seated at the head of his once secure table. Irving bore a face I had observed before, and I recognized it as his poor attempt at concealing defeat. His puppet could no longer successfully control Runway, and I was now a much more permanent and direct threat as a member of his board.

I was no longer avoiding and defending attacks. I felt a smirk carve into myself before I turned again to the other gentlemen and continued with my recommendation.

“He is young and intelligent. He will continue to improve this magazine. Well,” I said coyly, relaxing into my chair and tossing a lock of hair from my face, “If one could manage to improve something that was already quite perfect, if I do say so myself.”

A few chuckles welcomed my comment. Some nodded, such as the senior member, concerned only with my logical argument focusing on their investments. One or two, like Mr. Florimo, still appeared confounded as to why the Devil in Prada had refused an open invitation to return to her kingdom. They did not understand.

I could insure the safety and continuance of my work and investments. I had refused Irving’s terms. These were mine and mine alone.

But what if this isn't what I want? I mean what if I don't wanna live the way you live?

Oh, don't be ridiculous. Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.

I had suddenly realized what it all meant.

My gaze fell on Mr. Richardson, and his soft features appeared to be asking me something. Did he wonder where the blizzard and cold sting of the Ice Queen could be? Or could he see the choice I had made to pursue a different life?

His smile and nod were not a validation I needed, but they were one I still respected and appreciated.

Mr. Richardson cleared his throat in his uniquely suave, comforting way before addressing the room.

“Shall we put it to a vote then?”

 


 

The soothing sounds of waves echoed melodiously through the air as I leaned against a wooden railing. The emerald waters ebbed and flowed across a grey backdrop; the forecast predicted rain for the afternoon, and lightening flashed miles away over the lightly tossing ocean. It was the idyllic set of a photo-shoot. Not for something obvious, like swimwear, but perhaps a nice spread of-

I snorted and shook my head before I was even able to complete the thought.

“Do you come here often?” called a teasing voice behind me that instantly brought a smile to my face.

“The balcony or the Florida coast?” I questioned knowing full well how my cub would respond.

“I was kidding,” Andrea growled in my ear as her arms wrapped around my waist, “Don’t you know that’s a pick up line?”

“Is that the best you can do? I’m incredibly disappointed,” I sighed histrionically, leaning into her touch.

“Hey, I already won you over,” she rebuffed, pressing me more tightly against her front, her face peering over my shoulder to offer a playful glare that instantly excited me despite my previously calm meditation.

“I believe it was I that wooed you,” I quipped, turning to brush my nose against her cheek.

“I’m pretty sure last night I’m the one that seduced you,” she muttered with a husky voice, kissing me lightly. It was arduous to ignore the way her hips pressed so wonderfully against my back.

“That bathing suit provided you with an extremely unfair advantage.”

She laughed, quickly kissing away my false pout.

“Don’t be a sore loser,” she whispered before turning me around in her arms and capturing my lips.

I was once deeply concerned with time. Appointments, meetings, and dates to keep. Now there was timelessness as my consciousness laid suspended in the sounds of waves drifting and mingling with the scent of saltwater and my Andrea. Her kisses, her hands, her body, and her delicious sighs were all I cared about in that one great ageless moment.

When she pulled away from me with a smile, I did not know how many seconds or minutes we had spent soaking in our love and the dim, cloudy light, and I truly did not care.

“Thank you, darling, for a wonderful vacation.”

“You know it. The girlfriend of a New York Times Bestseller gets whatever she wants,” she jokingly declared, placing her hands on my hips.

I knew this was a rarity only I was allowed. Andrea was nothing but humble, however, after the incredible success of the biography she authored, I was the first to declare her my talented genius. I knew she was proud of herself, and, behind her joking tone, we were both cherishing and celebrating her accomplishments.

We were reaching that point in our relationship in which we had begun discussing the pooling of our resources and incomes. Furniture from her apartment appeared in our home. Invitations to Elias-Clark events began arriving with the expectation of an escort. She was the official homework-checker for the girls. Therefore, while it seemed silly to claim this vacation as a personal expense for her in some regards, I understood her pride in wanting to be the true provider and adored it. She earned the resources, she planned the trip, and I had swooned into her arms.

It was all so terribly cliché how madly in love I was, I knew a younger Miranda Priestly was groaning at what she had become.

I was delighted as I submerged myself in the sensation of it all.

“I’m extremely flattered,” I purred, wrapping my arms around her neck.

“I like this whole breadwinner thing now that you’re only working part time.”

We both chuckled at her word choice, but, on the whole, it was accurate. As an acting board member, I generally went to the office once or twice a month for a meeting or so. I was a consultant for not just Runway but various other fashion ventures. I happily attended Dalton sporting events and music recitals. I picked up my daughters from school everyday, a simplicity I once could not afford.

It was all so priceless, and I was supremely content.

“I’m enjoying it myself,” I muttered with a small smile against her neck as my head rested upon her shoulder.

“Really?” she murmured, turning down to face me, her hand stroking my cheek, “You promise you’re happy?”

Her eyes spoke of endless promises and declarations. Possibility. I had seen it so long ago in that hotel room in Paris. I witnessed its wonder when I told her of my intentions the night before I marched into the boardroom to retire on my terms. I saw it everyday we sent my children, our girls, off to school. I saw it every night we walked the dog, we made dinner, and we recounted our days in each other’s arms in our bed.

My fingers outlined the silver metal resting against her chest. The white rose I had given her what seemed like ages ago. It was rather funny. Andrea had once analyzed the flower as a representation of myself. I had always freely given it to her, given myself to her. I was no Prada heel. I was no devil.

I was Andrea’s.

“Perfectly so.”

That was all.