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That Ridiculous Dress

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Andy pried her eyes open long enough to glare at the ringing phone, punched “ignore,” and promptly went back to sleep. When the phone rang again two minutes later, she glared a little harder and hit “ignore” a little more vigorously. When it rang a third time, she cursed, turned it off, and threw it across the room. Claire would give up eventually. If it was something really important, she would show up at the door, use her key, and drag Andy bodily out of bed. But Andy knew there was only a tiny likelihood of something important happening in the publishing world late on a Saturday night, and she was determined to enjoy her first Sunday off in what felt like forever.

It was probably an article falling through at the last minute, Andy decided sleepily. It was very late indeed to be pulling an article intended for next month’s issue…the layout was probably already finalized, for one thing. But Andy trusted Claire to submit articles and negotiate with editors for her. “Time to earn your commission, Claire,” she said to her empty room, and went back to sleep.

It was only when she was checking her e-mail on Monday morning that she realized exactly why she should have taken the call, despite the lateness of the hour. She lunged for the phone.

“Tell me you didn’t,” she demanded, before Claire had time to get out more than an introductory ‘hey.’ “Please tell me you did not submit the article on body image to Runway.”

There was a sound of muffled voices on the other end, then the noise of a closing door. Claire let out a rather gusty sigh—she did tend towards the dramatic on occasion—and said nothing. The silence told Andy everything she needed to know.

Andy pinched the bridge of her nose and resisted the urge to yell. “Claire, have we or have we not had this conversation at least four times since I hired you?”

Claire made a noise that sounded a little bit like a muffled “yes.” Or maybe a whimper. Andy sniffed as haughtily as she could manage, mostly because she knew it would annoy Claire enough to get her talking.

“Really, Andy, I don’t see what the big deal is. So you two had words at some charity event. So what? She obviously doesn’t hate you as much as you think, or she wouldn’t have agreed to put your article in the February issue of Runway. As a matter of fact, I think—“

Andy cut her off with a rather choked-sounding laugh. “Claire,” she started, and was forced to clear her throat against a sudden lump of terror. “Claire, surely after spending this long as an agent you’ve learned how to tell when people are not telling you the whole story.”

“Andy, are you telling me that our professional relationship was founded on a lie?”

Andy opened her mouth to make a denial, but Claire was hard to stop once she got going.

“Also, why is your voice so shaky? This is a good thing. She doesn’t hate you, and now people will finally stop gossiping about the fact that a prominent fashion writer has yet to be published in American Runway.”

“Okay, first of all, I’ve only been on the scene for five years and writing about fashion for four. That hardly makes me ‘prominent.’ Secondly, our professional relationship was not founded on a lie. I told you a single white lie because I knew I had to give you a reason why I didn’t want to submit anything to Runway and the truth was too embarrassing. Not to mention scandalous. And thirdly…”Andy’s voice dropped from near-yell to a venomous whisper, “…please tell me I did not hear you say that my article is going to be in the February issue of Runway.”

Claire, who was rather nosy at the best of times, was by this point ready to reach through the phone and shake the answers out of her favorite client. “Andy. Seriously, you need to calm down. You’re sounding panicky. Just tell me what really happened with Miranda and I’ll smooth everything over. And yes, before you ask again, your article will be in the January issue. I’ve already given the okay. You just have to cut it down to 1800 words and I’ll send it off. They pay quite well, you know.”

Andy was silent for several long seconds.

“Claire, I need you to swear, on your entire family’s burial plot, that what I am about to tell you goes no further. I mean it. If I hear so much as a whisper on the gossip circuit, you are so fired. And I will never speak to you again.”

“Fine. I solemnly swear on the Kingsley family plot that I will never reveal to another living soul the secrets I am about to hear. Would you just tell me already?”

Andy took a deep breath. Like ripping off a Band-Aid, Sachs. Just get it over with as quickly as possible. “We didn’t just ‘have words’ at an awards dinner. We, uh, kindofhadsexinthebathroom.”

Claire pulled the phone away from her head, wiped the earpiece vigorously with her sleeve, and then slowly returned the receiver to her ear.

“I’m sorry. Could you repeat that, a little slower this time? I could have sworn I heard you say that you had sex with Miranda Priestly in the bathroom at an awards dinner.”

“Claire…that is what I said.”


Since that was, apparently, the limit of Claire’s current vocabulary, Andy figured she might as well take the opportunity to get a few words in while she had the chance.

“And this, Claire, is exactly why I didn’t tell you. Even aside from the fact that I can barely believe it myself.” Andy pinched the bridge of her nose a little harder. “Now she probably thinks I’m trying to blackmail her or something. Fantastic.”