She likes the world still, clean and tidy, to make up for the chaos in her mind.
Most times, the silence within Runway’s walls swallow the turmoil of her thoughts, leaving a blank slate for ideas, a productive state of being for the sharp planning that is often required of her.
She likes black and white the most, because understated elegance is ultimate sophistication – one need not try to be if one already is. The French, for the most part, seem to understand this concept in a way that Americans never will.
Most times, the dresses she wears are black, or white, or shades of grey. She favours clean and simple silhouettes because the wearer makes the dress, not the other way around.
Miranda Priestly will never be outshone by a dress.
But the world is nary clean or tidy – divorce papers, incompetence (she is not asking for a Nobel-winning piece, just a fairly acceptable write-up of the season’s footwear trends), and splotches of repugnant colours (she doesn’t want to think of this) stain her days perpetually, thwarting her pursuit of perfection.
Nonetheless, there are some colours that she accepts.
Andrea Sachs, for one, is a mess of colours since the day she first appeared, scruffy and unpolished, in front of her desk. Miranda usually imagines her to be bright vermillion and striking cerulean all at once, although practically, she cannot imagine a more hideous colour combination.
Still, impractically enough, Andrea always appears like a colour accent on her blank, white slate. Outstanding but not out of place, different but complementary, an odd little distraction that completes a picture.
So she nods when Andrea pretends that she has only stepped away for a moment to answer a phone-call and lets the girl return to her side. She allows it, in spite of her pride that is telling her to reject Andrea in the same way she has almost been rejected.
For once, her pride loses and she leaves Paris with a semblance of warmth in the growing hollowness of her chest.
Some weeks later, Caroline announces that she prefers the company of her father and packs her bags.
“She’s just being stupid. Make her come back, Mom,” Cassidy pleads, from the stairway.
“Your sister strongly feels that living with your father would make her happier, Cassidy,” she says, sharply, even if her knees feel uncertainly weak. I wish you weren’t my mother, even in its childish tones, echoes repeatedly in her ears. She swallows a wave of nausea. “I do not wish to stop her from being happy.”
Hours after her daughter leaves the townhouse in the car her father has sent – bitterly, she resents how Caroline so easily accepts that her father cannot pick her up personally – the hurt continues throbbing, growing sharper with each passing moment.
Evidently, she is a miserable failure of a mother.
And wife, if she allows herself to think of the disintegration of her latest marriage.
Stephen is gone and she has tried so hard with him. Not enough. One of her precious girls hates her, despite the mountains she has moved to give her daughters all they demand. Not enough. She won’t be surprised if Cassidy decides that her sister is right. And to top it off, she has almost lost the one thing she has always believed would be there, even if the people in her life come and go.
She has always had a stunning ability to compartmentalise emotions, to numb herself to certain feelings she doesn’t want to feel. It is a product of a time long past, when she still answered to a name no longer in existence.
I wish you weren’t my mother.
But now, she cannot summon the numbness she needs at will and sends her youngest by ten minutes to bed. She sits on a stool in her kitchen for what feels like hours, until someone calls her name.
Even without looking up, she recognises the voice of her second assistant, and pulls on a cloak of boredom to deflect the concern undoubtedly pouring out of the girl’s open face.
So honest. So naïve.
The silly girl had almost walked away too.
“Does the kitchen resemble the foyer to you?”
The concern doesn’t waver an inch.
“No, I thought I heard something.” Andrea bites her lip, betraying her self-doubt in that little action. Miranda wants to hook onto it and rip into the girl for daring to stand there, pity shining from her absurdly doe-like eyes. But Andrea speaks first. “Sometimes I say hello to Lucia if she’s still around.”
Andrea would never have come in here to just to “say hello” to her. Her irritation doubles, the ache in her chest heavy like lead.
“My apologies for not being my housekeeper,” Miranda says, derisively.
The younger woman blinks, concern rapidly replaced by a flash of hurt.
Much better. How dare a mere assistant stand there, looking at her like that? Who does she think she is? Her anger must have shown quite clearly, because Andrea falters.
“Right. Um, sorry. Goodnight, Miranda,” she stammers, and leaves before Miranda can dismiss her.
She feels a twinge of regret just slightly when she hears the front door click shut but it disappears as quickly as it appeared.
She has long stopped being able to differentiate between pity and concern so she ends up pushing both away.
Irving Ravitz is a sickly mustard yellow, if she thinks of the man in colours.
She detests that colour with all her being and bans it from ever coming close to anywhere in the pages of her magazine, unless it is an advertiser paying for the front pages. If that’s the case, the bloody colour becomes a necessary evil which she must tolerate for the greater good.
In some sense, she tolerates him the way she tolerates big advertisers. It is much easier to give him what he wants – and she has been acutely aware of what he wants for more years than she cares to count.
There is no point for Runway to suffer just because she is too busy trying to cauterize the wound in her chest that cannot seem to stop bleeding people, to deal with grown men behaving like children.
When he destroys her clean, white days with his abomination, she simply tightens the frame, cropping out the ugliness so she only sees what is perfect and right. She starts drinking – just a little bit – to help blur out the disgusting mustard yellow that stains her days.
That way, she doesn’t feel the rolling in her stomach when his sweaty palms push against her thighs and the sting of his roughness fades easily into haziness. He is often rough but she doesn’t mind it because he is also quick about it, and that is preferable to an extended session in the penthouse she knows he keeps near the office. That would be harder to forget, too large of a smudge to dismiss.
Funnily, no matter how much of the picture she crops out, vermillion and cerulean stays on her canvas.
She realizes that Andrea cares for her on the morning she finds a small bowl of cut up apricot with yoghurt on her desk.
That someone, even if it is her slightly awkward second assistant, has gone through the trouble to do this for her loosens the shards of ice in her heart slightly and her chest feels warm again for the first time in months.
The sweet scent of vanilla tingles in her belly, and she cannot help but savour the small reprieve granted when the spoon touches her lips.
She wants to ask the silly girl how she knows - she has never mentioned the yoghurt, or even apricots for that matter – but that will mean acknowledging that Andrea’s little touch has been noticed, and she cannot have that. The girl may start getting bolder – she is already growing a spine, eyes sparkling with challenge each time Miranda demands the impossible (which ends up quite possible when left to Andrea’s devices). And while somewhat irked, Miranda cannot find it within herself to be angry at her assistant, not when she knows that Andrea cares beyond obligated concern for an employer.
How long has it been, since someone aside from her girls has cared for her without expectation of something in return? She honestly cannot remember.
Emily, while capable in her own right, cares far more about her infallible goddess, the Miranda Priestly, than she has ever cared about vanilla yoghurt and apricots. Oh, she knows what Miranda hates, knows exactly what not to do.
Emily would never place concealer samples on her desk the way Andrea had so boldly done weeks ago. She suspects that Andrea knows more than she lets on, but the girl is smart and Miranda believes intelligence is a guarantee of silence.
Though, Andrea defies the rules and does what she never should do, to take care of her.
She knows how to sooth Miranda’s aching soul without seemingly knowing that she can, and that is the most terrifying thing of all.
On the ride back from a preview, she finds out exactly how much Andrea knows.
“You don’t have to do it,” the silly girl tells her, actually looking wounded on her behalf.
Her assistant may keep up pretence of courage, but her knuckles are white on that notepad of hers. Why is the girl so determined to talk about that, even while quaking in fear as the words leave her mouth?
It has always been easier to let the girl be, even if she has to endure that look every damn day. Losing count of the number of times Andrea has asked after her, she’s starting to get used to it, even expect it. Not that she ever indicates that things are far from “okay” (Andrea’s favourite word, it appears), but there’s a sort of comfort in the routine – nothing else in her life now is permanent enough for routine to set in.
Now that Andrea is obviously taking a risk out of some foolish sense of duty and concern – because it is a risk to ask Miranda Priestly questions and an even greater risk to tell her what to do – Miranda is beginning to understand just how much the girl cares.
Enough to override intelligence and common sense, it seems.
Miranda immediately squashes rising feelings that are sentimental and weak. Irritation simmers underneath – directed at herself – for her crippling inability to eviscerate the look off that pretty face.
She wants to squash the false boldness and obvious saviour complex in the girl as well, but something always holds her back. She is immensely self-aware of her trouble with limits when it comes to verbal take-downs and refuses to risk a repeat of Paris. There is always a chance of going too far.
Andrea may very well never return if she walks away again.
She ends the conversation with a relatively tame rebuke, wincing as she hears herself.
That this is even a concern leads her to seriously consider the possibility that she is losing her mind.
Unable to face the object of her ridiculous thoughts, she glances away at the traffic outside until the rain comes and drowns out the younger woman’s presence inches away. The rhythmic beat of water against the window washes away whatever grime that has accumulated in the recesses of her mind, untangling different strings of thought in the process.
When they return to the office, she unloads her mental task-list onto her first assistant instead.
She ignores Andrea for the rest of the day.
For once in twenty years, Miranda finds no solace within the pages of The Book, and each night, she falls asleep to a mental pandemonium that carries into her dreams.
Every morning, she wakes up exhausted, with an aching chest each time she remembers that only Cassidy sleeps down the hallway. She hasn’t allowed herself to believe that Caroline’s absence is anything more than the result of a childish tantrum but even her phenomenal willpower isn’t strong enough to keep her dimming hope alive.
The sacrifices she has made over the years appear inconsequential, now that she has had a taste of how fragile her position truly is, regardless of how much she has done and still do. They will never understand how much it takes to keep Runway at the status it is at, never understand the reasons behind the decisions she makes. The only things that go through their inch-thick skulls are budget sheets and expense reports.
She is too tired to spend precious time fighting for what Runway should already have, justifying herself needlessly when the performance of the magazine can and should speak for itself.
It has cost her two marriages and the love of a daughter. She doesn’t know if she can withstand losing the love of another so she tolerates hideous colours and the disappointment in Andrea’s eyes.
She spends less time fighting for Runway and more time fighting for Cassidy’s trust and affections.
With each passing day, Miranda holds her breath for the inevitable in spite of her efforts – the day her youngest tells her she prefers to live with her father too. If she really thinks about it, she can’t help feeling like a cheat at how long she’s managed to get away with it – her daughters deserve better and she’s under no delusion about her parenting abilities. Motherhood did not come naturally to her a decade ago, and maybe fate has finally decided that it’s time her selfish charade ended.
Even so, it cuts deeper than the rejection of her husbands, because it is impossible to stop loving her children the way she has done with the men in her life.
On the occasions where she is successful in forcing her thoughts into order, filing away colours she does not want to see in compartmentalised boxes, the clean space she thrives in begins to feel increasingly like emptiness.
She drinks a little bit more to take the edge off the ice creeping through her heart.
As the burning liquid warms her body without fail, she wonders if this is the reason why Stephen subscribes to this particular brand of self-medication. It is far more effective than she has ever given it credit for, even if she’s not keen on the headache that always follows after the numbness wears off.
It takes a considerable amount of effort to not react to her Andrea’s touch when Miranda realises that her assistant must believe she’s drunk.
When Andrea wraps an arm around her waist, she feels nothing but the warmth pulsing throughout her being, sturdy and reassuring like the girl by her side.
It’s startlingly comfortable.
She must be drunk. It is the only rational explanation for her actions – or lack thereof – at the silly, brave girl’s behaviour. But can one be intoxicated and still remain acutely aware of one’s actions and surroundings?
“I wish I could do something,” Andrea whispers.
Any doubts she may have harboured regarding the sincerity of Andrea’s friendliness before dissipates. Be that as it may, she doesn’t trust herself to say anything she won’t regret the next day, so she closes her eyes and lets Andrea pull the sheets over her body.
A soft flutter touches her cheek, and she fights the urge to turn her face and lean into it.
Lucidity aside, she has to be drunk out of her bloody mind.
“Sleep well, Miranda.”
The affection in the soft voice works like a warm blanket, calming and soothing, even if her pulse quickens treacherously at such unabashed fondness. She tramples the preposterous thought of abandoning all pretence of sleep to ask Andrea to stay.
It will not do to encourage the girl.
Silly, brave Andrea.
Moments after the door clicks shut, she falls asleep with a warmth in her chest that has nothing to do with distilled drinks.
Miranda is determined to not encourage Andrea, because while she can concede that the girl’s attention is flattering, she knows the pattern that all of her assistants ultimately fall into.
It always begins with obsession.
In some way, she plays no small role in this. Her assistants spend much of their time at her beck and call and she privately believes that the Stockholm syndrome to varying degrees is very much to blame for what happens. Sometimes, worship is evident from the very beginning, as with Emily. Miranda allows it, even prefers it – that way, she can be sure that they stay loyal, even if she never wins the Employer of the Year Award.
Sometimes, worship appears further down the line, budding from the kernels of obsession, and Miranda becomes cautious once this happens.
The girls who move along this path also habitually develop stronger infatuations, begin to react emotionally to her rebukes, and then lose whatever professional efficiency they held prior. It has happened regretfully more often than not and their descent from assistants to distractive muddles of pining schoolgirls can only ever result in one outcome.
Despite her resolve to prevent an inconvenient situation and to impose an intentional distance, her second assistant misses the memo.
The damn girl actually confronts her – “brave” and “bold” seem more like “insane” – in her office, and Miranda is so taken aback that she automatically slips behind her usual façade of cold impatience to hide her shock.
Andrea disapproves, she makes it clear. But there is no hint of a pining schoolgirl behind those expressive, dark eyes. Not even jealousy. Unmistakably, she is only trying to protect Miranda, just as she had been in Paris.
The warmth she has been trying not to feel in the girl’s presence suffuses all the way to her fingers.
Almost as ridiculous as Andrea believing that love has anything to do with nauseating mustard yellow.
In fact, love is beginning to take on more striking shades and Miranda cuts her thoughts off before they can go any further, pushing the vivid colours far into the background. Dismissing the girl with a flick of her wrist, she pretends to study the document in her hand until Andrea is back at her desk, at a safe distance.
Miranda Priestly is self-sufficient.
Therefore, Andrea Sachs should not and cannot be a necessity.
She orders Roy to pick Andrea up the next morning, ignoring the voice in her head that tells her she is contradicting her own resolution to not encourage her assistant’s affections. After all, she intends to set her assistant straight. Andrea cannot go on touching her even if she had likely assumed Miranda would not remember, cannot go on looking at her as if Miranda meant something.
This morning should be no less like the others, even if she has veered off course with the liberty she has taken with Andrea’s commuting arrangement, so she returns the girl’s greeting with a list of instructions.
Once she is sure that Andrea suspects nothing, she launches into her strategy – it is always best to catch someone unprepared if one is to maintain the upper hand.
“You’re getting bold, aren’t you?” She’s pleased at how smooth she sounds, belying the ceaseless thoughts that are undoubtedly making a mess on her clean day before it has even started properly.
Andrea lowers her eyes and irritation flares at the girl’s unexpected meekness.
“Asking questions, being so annoyingly concerned. So presumptuous about what I need and so judgmental about my decisions, decisions you cannot even begin to understand. And you stand there, looking so disappointed in me, as though I had an obligation to you. I don’t,” she says more harshly than she intends, unable to stop herself once the irritation snowballs to include the one thing she has refused to entertain.
It has been a long while since she has been bothered by someone’s disappointment in her, barring her own children, of course.
When Andrea meets her gaze, Miranda schools her face into careful indifference to hide her growing shame at having indirectly admitted that she is absurdly and unquestionably bothered.
“I know you don’t,” silly, brave Andrea says. “I’m not disappointed in you.”
“Aren’t you?” she throws back sarcastically, for good measure, but the girl doesn’t take the bait.
The brightness in those brown eyes flicker, but doesn’t dim.
“I could never be.”
Oh, God. Miranda’s heart falters, feels suspiciously as though it has skipped a beat. The nerve. She thinks that perhaps it wasn’t intoxication that night. It’s just her mind – she has gone and lost it.
But their conversation doesn’t go according to plan. Andrea diverges from the script from the very beginning, asking if Miranda wants to dismiss her. Something unpleasant drops in her stomach at that. No, as a matter of fact, Miranda does not want to fire the girl. If she justly considered the evidence, unlike previous experiences with enamoured assistants, Andrea has continued to perform, in truth, more efficiently than before. Discharging the girl for incompetence due to this shouldn’t be a valid concern. The silly girl should know as much.
“Don’t be daft,” she retorts crossly, resenting how Andrea is taking control of their discussion from her.
“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” Andrea says, so earnestly that she puts Miranda’s ex-husbands to shame.
Curiosity determines her next words.
“You’re very insistent on that.”
A brief conflict plays out over the brunette’s face and Miranda waits patiently.
“He’s getting careless,” Andrea finally says, with the barest hint of uncertainty in her voice. “Things are noticeable if you pay attention and sooner or later, someone will pay attention enough to see all the signs.”
Like you have?
She doesn’t realise she has spoken aloud, until her companion answers.
“The difference is, I’m trying to make sure nobody else does. I can’t say the same for everyone. I don’t know your standing arrangement,” Andrea says, oblivious to Miranda’s immediate disgust. “But –”
“There is no standing arrangement,” she interrupts, before Andrea can continue. Her thoughts are spilling all over the place, disregarding her carefully erected mental barriers, and disgust blemishes everything. The girl panics and attempts to protest, but Miranda cannot let it go. “It was meant to be once.”
Andrea stares at her in shock, uttering something Miranda doesn’t hear. Well, she is rather in shock herself, though, it will not do to appear so.
“It was necessary,” she recovers, sounding typically short.
Smart girl. Might as well.
“The one and only. Rather romantic.”
Interestingly, surprise doesn’t register as one of the myriad of emotions Andrea displays. Instead, there is a healthy amount of revulsion and righteous anger.
“But isn’t this – well, sexual harassment? If he’s making you do this against your will,” Andrea demands, captivatingly on Miranda’s behalf.
Her heart threatens to skip a beat again and she stiffens, steels herself to deny the warmth from softening her resolve. The whole idea is to put an end to this absurdity, not exacerbate it.
“Runway is doing better than ever and you will not jeopardize that out of some silly sense of moral obligation,” she says, seriously, so that Andrea understands. She must understand.
"It’s not silly,” Andrea protests, sullenly. “It’s not fair.”
It is a remarkably naïve thing to say, especially from one who has experienced first-hand (at Miranda’s own hands, no less) how unfair things can be.
“Life is never fair, Andrea. I thought you would have understood that after all these months,” Miranda says, fully intending to address her assistant’s inappropriate affections as a case in point. But the damn girl barely lets a moment pass before jumping in.
“But you’re so sad. I hate it. I really hate it,” Andrea says, sorrowfully, hand reaching out before Miranda can react.
Oh, bloody hell.
Her original purpose this morning flies out the window in an instant, spine tingling at the palpable warmth blooming within her chest and of Andrea’s hand on hers.
Caroline calls her crying the next afternoon, and Miranda almost misses a scheduled lunch with Miuccia Prada.
This time, I want to come home, Mommy, rings repeatedly in her ears and she is almost tempted to ask Roy to turn around. She thinks of having Emily reschedule the Italian designer but remembers that Prada has taken up three two-page spreads in the next issue.
“I will be home early tonight, Bobbsey. We will have a nice dinner, all three of us,” she concedes, deciding that the 6PM meeting this evening can wait. It’s not likely that her staff will be prepared at any rate and the tightness in her chest is beginning to ease. She hasn’t lost her daughter.
“I know. Cass says you come home more now. I was being stupid and called her a liar.”
The faith in her young daughter’s voice sends a rush of guilt through her body.
“Don’t call yourself stupid, darling. I don’t like that. I trust you’ve spoken to your father?”
“Yeah. I’m all packed. I just wanted to call you first, just in case you’re mad at me,” her little girl hiccups.
She wishes that Prada hasn’t been so generous in their advertising budget for once. A quick glance at her watch tells her that she is already fifteen minutes late, idling by the curb.
“You know I always want you home, Bobbsey. I’m very happy you called.”
“Do you hate me?”
“Never,” Miranda says, firmly. She’d spent so long believing otherwise that the question catches her off-guard. How can her daughter ever entertain such a thought?
“Okay. I love you, Mom. I’m sorry.”
“I know, Bobbsey. And I love you too. I will see you at home, my darling. Don’t forget your coat.”
As her daughter tells her goodbye and hangs up, she catches Roy’s eye in the rear-view mirror. Her chauffeur is the only person in her employ who knows that Caroline hasn’t been home for a while. He doesn’t say anything, but the corners of his eyes crinkle and she knows he is smiling.
She wants to laugh but restraint, practically a first instinct to her now, keeps her still and unreadable. At times, she has to remember that it’s all right to show how she feels, especially to her children and the few people she trusts.
For once, she allows a small smile and the tips of his ears turn red.
In that very moment, she feels an unordinary sense of trust for Roy. She thinks he is a solid dark grey, traditional and reliable on her canvas, alongside Andrea’s predictably clashing colours amongst others.
And just like that, the world begins to right itself around her.
She overhears Andrea talking to Lucia one evening.
A spike of God-knows-what flares through her chest at the familiarity of the young woman’s voice – Andrea has never spoken to her in such a blithe and candid manner before. Peeved, she ventures down the stairs to make an appearance. Her assistant may already be immune to her but thankfully, her housekeeper still thinks of her as a holy terror.
It is only when she hears Andrea recounting her schedule that she stops halfway.
“She’s going to be late tomorrow,” floats quietly out of the kitchen.
Miranda frowns. She is?
“She’s got a budget meeting with the CEO at six and she won’t get to leave until seven, I think, and she’s not going to be sunshine and roses when she gets home.”
Her stomach recoils at the unexpected preview for her day tomorrow and the obvious fact that Andrea knows. Sunshine and roses? She rolls her eyes.
“Ah,” Lucia says, knowingly.
It makes her a bit uncomfortable to listen to her staff discuss her moods so openly, with tactics in place to manage them, manage her. Only pure curiosity keeps her in place.
“So maybe extra crab cakes for the girls? Just to distract them until Miranda gets home. Cara says they had a Maths pop-quiz yesterday, so they’ll probably get the results tomorrow and want to share it with her.”
Miranda wants to be annoyed at the presumption present in this entire conversation, but it’s difficult to summon it when Andrea is going above and beyond to make her days easier, even taking care of things that she would never have thought of in the first place.
“Smoothie popsicles are good too,” Andrea suggests.
“Yes, the little ladies would like that.”
The sound of the fridge being pulled open is the only thing she hears and she takes another step down, wondering if the women have noticed her presence. After a brief moment, she hears Andrea say goodnight, and fights the irrational urge to retreat. It is her house after all, so she readies herself to be noticed.
The silly girl actually stumbles when she clears her throat.
“I presume you were saying hi to Lucia?”
Andrea flushes. “Sorry.”
“Did I say you had something to apologise for?”
“I guess you didn’t,” Andrea says, smiling brightly enough to rival the sun. She opens her mouth to say something, but seems to think better of it and presses her lips together.
“I will see you tomorrow morning?” Andrea says, and Miranda knows that it isn’t what she was thinking of saying only seconds ago.
“Perhaps,” she answers vaguely, inexplicably disappointed, and turns to go back up the stairs.
She is tempted to ignore Andrea, but that ability has proven elusive for months now.
“I’d say hi to you too, you know, but I know you’re busy.” Andrea’s boldness must be a disease, impossible to eradicate.
Still, it appears that her ability to control her heart has also proven elusive, since she finds herself looking forward to seeing the girl tomorrow morning.
“I am. Goodnight,” she says briskly, pursing her lips to prevent a stray smile from showing and leaves Andrea still standing at the foot of the stairs.
She forgets to say “That’s all.”
She prides herself on her finely-honed eye for detail.
It is only expected that she notices the growing shadow under adoring eyes even under expertly applied make-up and the tighter squeeze of fingers around her own every morning.
Selfishness tells her to keep the girl close, to clutch at the tenderness and lock it away for herself, but this feeling of concern for another being that she is largely unaccustomed to niggles at her thoughts incessantly.
Andrea is meant for greater things in life than to take care of a difficult fashion editor’s whims and fancies. She convinces herself that the young girl (so painfully young) is better off chasing her dreams, away from the all-consuming Miranda Priestly.
She should have known that she wouldn’t have been able to follow through.
The moment Andrea asks if she is being sent away, Miranda forgets her good intentions in the same way she had forgotten that she isn’t supposed to encourage the girl, forgets her dismal record regarding romantic relationships.
“No,” she answers instinctively, recalling the saying about leopards and spots. She wants nothing more than for Andrea to stay, being as self-centred and opportunistic as she is. What a ridiculous notion to have thought that she was capable of being noble for once. She is about to say something to that effect but naturally, Andrea interrupts.
“I love you,” the brave, beautiful girl declares.
As if Miranda hasn’t already figured out that particular nugget of information, though the spoken statement still surprises her.
“I see,” she says, nevertheless.
A few days later, she makes it clear that the girl must leave once her tenure is up. The warm hand cradles hers steadily, never once letting go until the Elias-Clarke building comes into view.
When Irv Ravitz appears in her office that afternoon and dares to comment on Andrea’s presence, she decides to stop tolerating mustard yellow. It clashes horribly with every other colour on her palette, especially vermillion and cerulean.
As usual, Andrea comes in after he leaves, eyes asking if she’s all right, fingers brushing slightly against her own with the delivery of a fresh cup of coffee.
This time, the warmth that floods her chest comes with knowledge of why.
Andrea loves me.
She finds that the wound in her chest has stopped bleeding.
Patience has never been a strong point of hers, and when Andrea kisses her for the first time after an inane misunderstanding, Miranda almost drags the girl to her bedroom.
Patient she may not be, but thorough she definitely is.
Andrea kisses with abandon, hands roaming brazenly and tongue trailing wetness on heated flesh. Miranda can’t find it in herself to dislike the confidence the younger woman embodies, although she doesn’t surrender all that she has to give without a fight and meets plump lips with fervour to match.
She must have been insane to nearly deny this exquisite creature the privilege of touching her all those weeks ago.
Half-an-hour later, Andrea pulls away and sits back on her knees, blouse in a state of disarray.
Miranda misses the warmth immediately.
“You said that it was just easier to give him what he wanted,” the girl says, as if she has just realised the fact after a healthy amount of kissing.
Perhaps she has.
“Yes,” Miranda says uneasily, holding her breath.
“Did he want it in Paris?”
Miranda can already see where this is going, and the uneasiness turn into dismay. It will be the ultimate irony if Andrea walks away now.
“He did not ask, no.”
“Is this easy?”
“Well, I suppose, yes.”
It had been ridiculously easy for Andrea to stain her days, asserting herself in bright streaks of colour on Miranda’s clean slate. And in return, it had made it easy for Miranda to think of Andrea frequently, to rely on her and ultimately, trust her.
Even so, Andrea’s darkening eyes tells her that she has said the wrong thing. The younger woman doesn’t say a word and her old friend returns to her chest, icy and cold.
“You should go,” she says, stiffly, and leaves Andrea in the study, refusing to witness the girl walking away again.
A solid hour later, she returns to retrieve The Book she had unintentionally left behind in her haste to escape, only to find Andrea still sitting on the couch.
Surely, that glass of bourbon she’d downed moments ago hasn’t intoxicated her enough for hallucination.
“I know what you’re thinking but I don’t want to go anywhere,” Andrea says. “Even if I don’t really understand you, Miranda Priestly.”
She stands frozen at the doorway, staring disbelievingly as the girl crosses the room.
”It’s okay,” Andrea soothes once she is barely a foot away, gently catching her wrist and placing her hand in between her breasts. “Can you feel this?”
Miranda nods, spellbound by the steady thrum beneath her palm that is most decidedly not a figment of her imagination.
“You’re in here,” the younger woman says, softly. “Maybe someday, when you’re ready, you’ll let me in yours.”
Suddenly, Miranda understands that her canvas has never been blank to begin with.
She is white, like snow, and Andrea makes the beginnings of spring, tender enough to kiss her skin and make her glow, but never hot enough to scorch and burn.
“You already are,” she whispers, as lanky arms fold her into an embrace.
Because Andrea is the warmth in her heart.