Andrea smiled at her, and Miranda's heart stopped.
"That's good," Andrea said.
"Yes. Oh, yes. Yes," said Miranda, and kissed her.
Andrea kissed back.
Emily, in a striking electric blue bell tutu and leather top, was already talking to her when Miranda pushed open the glass doors to enter Runway, but whatever she was saying would wait until Miranda had emptied her brain of all these annoying yet pressing issues. "Call Demarchelier," she said, "and confirm next week; make sure we have the uniforms ready, with the green piping, not the gray; make some inquiries about Austin for September and see if we can't have Meisel for it," and so on and so forth.
Endless details to keep track of—and to remind Emily to keep track of—and tonight she had to be out of the office early for a recital, plus two days off for Christmas the following week, so things were even more frantic than usual. "And get me those ad numbers for the next issue," she finished her litany, finally arriving in front of her office, head empty of small issues and desk ready for another day.
She tugged off her coat and discarded it and started toward her office before realizing that Emily was still hovering, pen in hand. "That's all."
Emily squeaked and nearly tripped in her haste to get away. And then she almost knocked over some knick-knack on the desk—the skirt was daring, certainly, but perhaps impractical for office work. Maybe a spread…?
And after that, Miranda was so entranced by her work that she didn't look up for several hours.
Just after lunch there was a scuffling in the outer office. Emily was hissing at someone, and whomever it was the other person sounded as if they were crying. Miranda set her jaw and waited to be disturbed. It took twice as long as she was expecting.
"Miranda?" Emily said, her voice starting high and ending even higher.
Miranda looked up from her computer. There was Emily, and just behind her was Ines. She narrowed her eyes: this was bound to be good.
Emily pulled Ines forward. The woman stumbled a bit and glared at Emily before turning back to Miranda. "We, um—"
Miranda hit save one more time, just in case this turned into a long tale of woe and defeat, and leaned back in her chair. "Yes?" she said.
There tear streaks stood out on Ines' face. "We—" Ines stammered, and then took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. "That is, we—"
"What in the world is it?" Miranda said, beginning to get disturbed.
"Welostallthedata," Ines said in a terrible rush.
"What?" Miranda said slowly, even as she had already started thinking of alternatives. The art department data: well, there was the book, so all the actual information was there for at least the next two issues. After that, who knew.
"We lost the data," said Ines again. "This morning, we tried to open the files, and—it just wasn't there. We've called the server company, and the IT guys, but they're doing—I don't know, something—and they can't get back to us until tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow afternoon."
Miranda pulled off her glasses and stared at Ines. The slight fuzziness didn't make her want to tear the woman's head off any less. She prompted, "Surely you have backups?"
"Oh yes," said Ines, "from last Friday. We do a full system backup every week."
"Friday," Miranda said. She looked at the clock. "It is two o'clock on Thursday, and you have four days of changes that are not saved?" This was—did only idiots work at fashion magazines, or was it just her magazine that was so well-endowed?
Miranda pursed her lips and let out a very slow breath. "We'll, you'll have to recreate it all, then. By the end of business today." And she was going to have to skip dinner in order to make the recital. It was a shame, after the morning had started out so promisingly.
The next day, Emily was once more saying something when Miranda strode in, but she couldn't have cared less what Emily was saying because she too was busy boggling at what Emily was wearing. The tutu was a nice piece, and it looked excellent paired with the half-boots and top, but twice in six months was probably too much, and twice in two days—every single other thing she had been thinking flew out of Miranda's head. "You work at Runway, Emily," she hissed.
Emily stopped talking. Her eyes got very large.
"You work at Runway, and with that comes a certain reputation. A level of requirement."
Emily nodded, very slowly.
"I trust I've made myself clear," Miranda said, and then stormed to her office, completely irritated. "And make sure the art department backs everything up, immediately," she growled at Emily, still scurrying behind her.
"Yes, Miranda," said Emily.
The morning was a complete disaster, but at least no one lost any data. They all seemed to have lost their minds, however, since Emily was not the only person who had inexplicable chosen to wear the exact same thing to work. Even Nigel's lovely lavender cashmere sweater over a bright pink tie was a repeat from the day before. She stared more than once, snapped many more times than once, and then, finally, threw her hands up and shut the door.
That worked fine all the way up until late that afternoon, when Nigel phoned from location in an empty pre-war flat down the street from PS 290.
"Miranda," he said, and Miranda had to pull the phone away from her ear.
Those sounded like—"Are those sirens?" she asked.
"There's, um, there's a small—"
"What is going on?"
"A small fire," he continued. "There was a small fire, and now the location is unusable. We'll have to reschedule, and we're already behind as it is."
Miranda said, "Is everyone okay?"
"Yes, yes," Nigel said. "Everyone's fine."
"And the clothes?"
"Most of it is recoverable," he said. "Beatrice's cameras are fine, though, no damage at all."
"Well, perhaps it was slightly larger than a small fire," Nigel said, and for the first time there was a hint of hysteria in his voice.
"Where are you?" she demanded.
"Here, at the shoot. In the lobby."
"And you're all fine," she asked.
"Everyone got out. We're all okay. Except for our shoot, which just went up in smoke. Literally."
"Well," she said, "we'll just deal with it later. Come back to the office and we'll chat over dinner."
"What about the girls' recital?"
Miranda frowned. They were performing the same show on Thursday and Friday; she had attended the previous night, maybe she could miss—No. That way lay disaster. "I have time for dinner, and then you can come back to the office and set things in motion while I attend the recital."
"I'll be right there," he said, and hung up.
She leaned back in her chair. Two days, two complete disasters. At least tomorrow was the weekend.
Miranda slept in that morning. It involved smashing her alarm a few times before she remembered to turn it off, but it was a rare luxury. After the hectic pace of the fall, the continuing whirlwind of the holiday season, and the capping bonanza that had been her week, she thought she rather deserved it.
And then the phone rang. She glared at the screen, and almost didn't answer: it was Emily. And when Miranda did pick up, Emily didn't even wait for pleasantries to start in on whatever was wrong.
"Helen's piece isn't going to be done."
"What?" said Miranda.
"I heard you, Emily," said Miranda, and slid out of bed.
Miranda sighed. "We have a back-up?" she said.
"You asked Mario to write about London?" asked Emily.
"Call him and see if he can get that in by—" and then she hesitated as something occurred to her. "Wasn't that piece due yesterday?"
"Tomorrow," said Emily.
Miranda shook her head. "No, as I recall—I'm coming into the office. Make sure everyone is there."
"Of course," said Emily, sounding confused.
For a Saturday, Elias-Clarke was strangely crowded, and when Miranda finally arrived at the office at five past nine, she stopped dead in her tracks to stare at Emily.
Who was wearing a blue tutu.
"Emily—" said Miranda, but before she could finish, Nigel popped his head into the hallway.
He said, "You're here. Good. The art department has just lost everything, and I don't know anything about computers," and then he and his lavender sweater headed back down the hallway.
His lavender sweater.
Miranda watched him walk away for a few moments, and then looked back at Emily. "What day is it?" she asked faintly.
"The 21st?" Emily asked.
"Thursday, the 21st?" Miranda said. It couldn't possibly be. It was some sort of joke, a dream, a—
"Thursday, December 21st?" she croaked.
Emily nodded again.
Miranda slowly removed her gloves and handed then to Emily. They started down the hallway, Emily at her shoulder, and this time, instead of rattling off instructions Miranda took great care to examine every single person they came across. It was the same, throughout the offices: either everyone was wearing the same thing for a third day in a row, or—or—
Or she had cracked up. The stress had gotten to her, and she had gone insane. It was not Thursday, it was Saturday, and she had already lived through Thursday, which had been a marvelously horrible day, and so had Friday, and—
Nigel said the art department lost their data. Miranda turned to give Emily a considering stare for just a moment before she left her coat and bag and tracked down Nigel.
Two hours later, Miranda and Nigel had given up the art department as a loss—they'd have things reconstructed by the end of the day, they had done it the first time—and reassigned Helen's feature to Mario. She was just sitting down to a fresh coffee when Emily snuck in.
"Nigel's leaving now for the shoot—"
Miranda raised an eyebrow. "The one near PS 290?"
"Yes, and he'll be gone all afternoon—"
"Tell him to move the electrical cable for the lights."
Emily gaped, looking remarkably like a fish. "What?"
"Tell him to move the electrical cable for the lights," Miranda repeated. "Plug it in somewhere else, somewhere that isn't likely to start a fire."
"Okay," said Emily, and scurried out.
Miranda took a deep breath and focused on her desk, trying to clear her thoughts. Nigel had been fine, but the fire had caused untold damage and delay. Nigel had been fine.
The next morning, before doing anything else, Miranda checked her phone. Thursday, it announced, happy as could be. Thursday. Again. For the fourth time in a row.
Well, it wouldn't do to dwell on things when she had no idea what was going on. She could, however, focus on what was under her control. She practically leaped out of bed and arrived at the office even before Emily. When she heard the girl finally walk in, Miranda closed her eyes for a long moment before looking at her. Maybe it was different, maybe things were—Emily's tutu bounced as she walked, and when she realized that Miranda was watching her, she flinched so hard her pile of paperwork tumbled to the ground.
Not different, then.
"Emily," Miranda said, and waited for Emily to come scurrying into the room.
"Tell the art department to back everything up, and I mean everything; bring up Testino's piece and cancel Storey's contract—she's had three extensions already, I am not running a liberal arts college—and before Nigel goes over to the shoot today, remind him to not plug the electrical cables into an outdated, and out of code, socket. Once you've done that—and only after you've done that—call Demarchelier about next week." Miranda ran though everything else she could think of from the last three days, and, when she was done, Emily looked like a whirlwind had just blown through. Miranda sat back with a satisfied grin.
That should take care of that.
So she was in a particularly good mood when Nigel called after lunch.
"Miranda," he said, and there was a strange note in his voice.
"Was there a fire?" she said immediately. She thought she had taken care of the fire.
"Fire? No," he said. Miranda let out a small huff of relief, but he wasn't done. "I broke my ankle.
"You broke your ankle," she echoed. But he was fine, she thought. Fine.
"Yep," he said. "Pretty bad, there was screaming—"
Suddenly, she was exhausted and collapsed back into her chair. Surely there was some way this whole situation could be clarified, or explained, or solved. She said, "Screaming?"
"Well, yes," he said, "I may have been screaming. But other people were screaming, too. There was blood all over the place. It was loud."
"The blood was loud? Are you on drugs?"
He laughed. "Yep. Good ones, too. Did you know that there are 26 bones in a single foot?"
"And you broke all of them," she said. Maybe not a solution, then, but surely something could be done to make all this—just go away.
"Not all of them," he protested. "Only five. Plus my leg. And I tore two tendons."
"Yep," he said again.
"How out of commission are you," she asked, dreading the answer. A distant part of her brain reminded her that tomorrow he would be fine again. Probably. Assuming things didn't randomly change on her again.
"Two to four weeks of being off my feet," he said, and Goddamn him, he was so drugged he sounded pleased.
Miranda hung up.
Maybe the fire was the better option.
The next morning, she again checked the date on her phone first thing. She didn't have very much hope, and when what little there was had been sufficiently dashed, she dialed Emily.
"Make sure Nigel does not attend the shoot today," she said. "At all. I'll go. Meet me at the office in forty minutes." One thing was certain: dressing was easier when you didn't have to think about what to wear. If Emily didn't mind that blue tutu every day of the year, Miranda could wear the same outfit, too.
Although really, that should have tipped her off the very first day. Her skirt and evening jacket were hanging up, ready for her to put on just as she had put them out nearly a week earlier. Her shoes and blouse—it was all there, and if she thought about it, they had been there every day since this whole things started. She slipped on her stockings, and sighed. At least she had picked something fairly comfortable, all things considered. And at least she wasn't stuck wearing an electric blue tutu and leather bustier.
The rest of the day went marvelously, for being a repeat of the same day that had gone horrendously the first time. With Nigel staying at the office to protect his leg and run things there, Miranda went to the location to coordinate the shoot, and more importantly, to move the cable and forestall thousands of dollars worth of catastrophe.
Leaving work when there was still some light outside was a pleasure. There was a lovely calm to the air, and it was just starting to snow. The girls would enjoy seeing the snow in the park on the weekend, she thought.
As Roy pulled up, her phone rang. She checked it wasn't Emily before answering; the fact that nothing had gone wrong yet today—this today, part of her remembered—didn't mean it couldn't still happen.
"Hello, John," she said.
John Metcalfe, one of the members of the board, replied, "Evening, Miranda."
Miranda settled back into her seat and waited to hear what was so important that a member of the board—and not one of the ones she saw socially—had to call her four days before Christmas.
"I just wanted to give you a heads-up," he said, and his tone of voice made Miranda's blood run cold. "Irv has been beating up support the last few weeks—"
"John, I'm sure you've heard what happened in Paris—"
"I know," John said, interrupting her. "I heard. But Irv's spinning that as a betrayal by Jacqueline, not a counter-move by you. And I have to say, I think some people are buying it."
"Some people," Miranda said.
"Anyway," said John, "I just wanted to let you know. Give you a chance to set up a soft landing somewhere."
Miranda hung up without saying goodbye. A soft landing indeed. Well, at least this was one potential benefit of her very strange Thursday.
Actually, perhaps this was the benefit: Miranda had been very consciously not thinking about the whys and wherefores of her predicament, but mere insanity seemed too simple an explanation and a city-wide conspiracy too unlikely. Perhaps the universe was finally giving her a break, finally allowing her to fix mistakes before they were made instead of constantly running after problems with Band Aids and salve.
Either way, there was no way out but forward.
She made a few quick calls to other, more congenial members of the board, and over an early dinner, Bebe informed her that yes, Irv was drumming up support, but not so much that they couldn't counter him if needed. Late drinks with Shel after the twins' recital indicated that he thought Irv had more than enough support to make things very difficult for her, possibly even insurmountable. Shel had always been a bit of a pessimist.
Neither meal was pleasant, and because she had been out of the office all day, it wasn't until she was headed home late that night that she bothered to listened to Emily's hysterical message about the art department's missing data.
Oops. Miranda might have forgotten to mention that little snafu. But at least she had finally taken John's call; it must have gone to voicemail the other times, she realized, those five days in a row when she was too busy to answer her cell at five in the afternoon.
That was almost certainly it. The whole reason for this interminable day: the universe was looking out for her. Miranda laughed, suddenly feeling lighthearted and looking forward to Friday in a way she hadn't done for quite some time.
Or perhaps there was more to it that just her own skin.
After speaking to Emily—this time from the car; she had realized there was no point in calling any earlier—Miranda set aside a few hours in the morning before heading over to the shoot to work through some ideas about what to do with Irv. The first few ideas were probably unlikely to come to fruition—hiring assassins was frowned on, even in New York—but by mid-morning she had a plan of attack and a list of people to contact. She was just sitting back to consider her strategy when an ungodly sound reverberated through the office.
Miranda shouted, "Emily!" but Emily was already scurrying into the room, holding out something small and silver. Over the continued throb of the alarm, Miranda could just barely hear the radio.
"—there is a hostage situation at the Elias-Clarke headquarters on West 57th. A gunman, or possibly two gunmen, have taken hostages. Eyewitnesses claim that at least a dozen people have been shot—"
"We have to leave," whispered Emily.
For the first time, Miranda was suddenly very glad that the day would reset itself.
But the next two weeks proved that even a hostage situation could become banal.
"Call Demarchelier," Miranda recited as soon as Emily came into view. It was all rote by now: confirm Patrick, lock the building down from 10:30 with a strong police presence, call Steven about Austin in a few months, tell Beatrice to move the blasted electrical cable, send Patrice out to collect the coats rather than either assistant, have the art department back everything up, make sure the Coast Guard checked the underside of Pier 28 at least two hours before the bomb went off at noon, and so on. The extra time afforded by the eternal Thursday, even with the assorted catastrophes that all needed fixing, allowed her to slowly piece together an invincible plan to counter Irv.
But the tedium was getting to her. She didn't even realize that nothing new had gone wrong on this particular Thursday until she was sliding into the car that evening.
"Long day, huh," said Roy.
"Shorter than most," said Miranda, even thought it was past seven and heading for eight. She was just about to ask how bad the snow looked when the car gave a tremendous yet utterly silent jolt and stuttered to a halt in the middle of the street. Miranda leaned forward. "What was that?"
"Um, I'm sorry," said Roy, unbuckling his seatbelt. "I think it might be a flat."
"A flat?" Miranda said incredulously. "A flat?"
Roy nodded even as he was getting out of the car.
"Where are we?" she asked, opening her own door.
"Fifty-eighth and Sixth," he said.
"Call me a cab—"
"I'm sorry, Miranda," Roy said. "With this weather—"
"Then—" she tried to think. The snow was coming down harder now, coating the sidewalks; she hadn't really noticed the snow during her other days. It was lovely. "The subway. Where is the nearest subway station?"
Roy pointed. "Fifth Ave, only a couple of blocks from here. But you want the 4-5-6, that's at Lexington."
Miranda turned around. "Lexington, that's—"
"Four blocks," Roy said. "In the snow. In heels."
"I'll be fine." Miranda said, warming to the idea. This was practically an adventure. Something new, something that didn't involve blood, or the police, or her head on a chopping block. And she hadn't taken the subway in years—when better to try it out than on a day that had no consequences?
Roy said softly, "And the recital starts in 20 minutes. We were cutting it close in the car anyway."
"But—" Miranda said. Oh. Well, that could change things. "I'll—"
"I'll get this changed as fast as I can," Roy said quickly. "You take the subway; it's a ten or fifteen minute walk in this weather, and then ten minutes on the train."
She smiled at him. He looked surprised, but then he blushed. Miranda's smile grew. "I'll make it," she said, and then squared her shoulders and started down the street into the fluttering storm.
She hadn't made it.
For the first time in this miserable, never-ending day, she hadn't made it to the girls' recital.
She had thought that this had been the ideal circumstance to find out what Irv was doing and stop him, and she was making tremendous headway and quite enjoying her leisurely probes. But no matter what she tried, no matter who she talked to or how many times she called the police, the fire department, even the coast guard and the IT specialists, nothing really changed. Disasters happened as fast as she could put them out. And now the one thing that she had refused to treat cavalierly, the one thing that had kept her grounded throughout this entire experience, the one thing—she had let them down.
They'd forgive her, of course, they always did. Even on the days when she didn't have the opportunity to rectify all her failings as a mother, her children were more than understanding. But she wasn't sure if she'd forgive herself.
Things were going to have to change. She had a chance here, and she was going to use it. Irv could spend his time plotting and scheming; Miranda had more important priorities. Besides, she knew everything she could hope to find out about him by now anyway.
"Good morning, darling," said Miranda.
"Mom?" said Caroline. "What time is it?
"8:30," Miranda replied cheerfully.
"Mom!" said Caroline, jumping out of bed. "I'm going to be late!"
"No, you're not," said Miranda. "We're taking the day off."
"What?" said Caroline, one leg stuffed in a pair of jeans and a clean sweater half pulled over her head. "What?"
"We're playing hooky," said Miranda, and tugged Caroline's sweater down. "All three of us."
"We're going to spend the day together. Who cares about the rest of the world?" said Miranda, grinning.
Caroline stared at her for a long moment, and then hesitantly smiled back. "Yay?"
"Let's go to the zoo," Miranda said to Cassidy as she woke her up.
"The zoo. It's been years since I've been to the zoo, and—" We've been to all the museums in New York in the last two weeks, Miranda finished silently.
"It's a school day," Cassidy said.
"We're playing hooky," said Miranda. It seemed to Miranda that the more she relived her Thursday, the quicker Cassidy accepted the notion of not going about their normal day and the more resistant and confused Caroline got, but neither of them ever commented on anything strange happening. Not that Miranda would have shared with them her brief foray into time-travel, or whatever this was. Not without an explanation, which was one thing she didn't have. "I'm not going to work, and you and your sister are not going to school. We're going to the zoo instead. Get up."
By the end of the day, Miranda had realized why she didn't go to the zoo more often: it was smelly, dirty, and despite having some truly marvelous animals on display they all looked miserable and penned up. Which they were. Kind of like her, on this endless day: penned up, hemmed in, with no end to the tedium in sight. At least spending time with the girls was more rewarding than dashing all over Manhattan fixing other people's problems.
"And the lions, how come they put them next to the flamingos, don't lions eat flamingos, Mom?" Caroline said on the way home.
"Lions don't eat flamingos," said Cassidy. "And the zoo wouldn't put them so close if they did. Crocodiles eat flamingos."
"Lots of things eat flamingos," said Caroline.
"At the first available opportunity, I'm taking you on safari," Miranda said. Neither of her daughters heard her.
The conversation didn't let up a bit, and by the end of dinner Cassidy and Caroline had moved on to how bored the chimpanzees looked, and whether they were as smart as people.
Cassidy said passionately, "They do the same thing every day! Nothing changes, nothing new happens, they just have to sit there over, and over, and over."
Miranda squirmed. She didn't particularly want to hear more of that line of inquiry, so she said brightly, "What shall we do tonight?" They had already called in sick for their recital, and she was fairly certain she knew the answer, which made it a useful question.
"Can we watch a movie?"
"No, let's watch Madagascar again."
"We've seen that a million times."
Their voices tumbled over each other, light and happy and entirely distracted, as they lead their mother to the den and settled down with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It ended just before eleven, much too late for an ordinary school night, but tonight really didn't count. Miranda packed them off to bed, with extra kisses for Caroline for missing school and ten minutes of accepting Cassidy's thanks for spending the day with them.
For the first time since her day began to reset, she had the idle thought it might be smart to check in with the outside world and make sure that things hadn't gone too pear-shaped while she was off gallivanting around with her girls. Not that anything too bad could have happened; if it was something that needed her attention, she would deal with it in the morning.
The explosion at Pier 28 was the headline news, and for a brief moment, Miranda felt guilty at not calling the accident in ahead of time. The time spent convincing the Port Authority and the Coast Guard that the head of a fashion magazine might know something was worth the lives saved. But the memory Cassidy's soft voice in her ear—"You didn't have to do this, we know you love us even when you work really hard"—made the moment very brief, and she reminded herself to call Emily in the morning. Emily could talk to those people for once.
The anchors droned on and on about all sorts of terrible traumas, fires and accidents and the like. The weather said it would continue to snow through the weekend, with up to a foot of accumulation, and the sports had teaser news from a variety of teams that Miranda cared nothing about. All in all, it was extremely predictable. She stood up to turn off the television and get to bed herself and was about to cut off the anchor in mid-stream when her words registered.
"—reporter Andrea Sachs has been shot in the Bronx in an apparent drive-by shooting. She was taken to St. Barnabas hospital and pronounced dead 45 minutes ago. Sachs worked for the New York Mirror, and—"
We were just there, Miranda though numbly.
"—police have no suspects, and urge anyone who knows anything to please come forward—"
Miranda didn't remember going to bed the night before, but when she woke up she was unsurprised to discover that she was lying in her bed and it was no longer snowing. Or rather, it hadn't started snowing yet.
It was Thursday, she thought distantly, and that meant—that meant something. How many days had she spent with the twins? How many times had she run through the same day, wasting time when she could be doing something productive. Something that might have an impact on her future life. No more. Not when there was so much to do.
Not when every moment of life was so precious.
She reached for her phone. "Emily? Call Demarchelier—"
"—make some inquiries about Andrea for September and see if we can't have Meisel for it," she said, and was about to launch into the remainder of her rendition when Emily's gasp registered. "What?" she said.
"You want Andrea for September?" Emily said, and then quickly continued, "Of course, I'll get right on that—"
"What are you talking about?" demanded Miranda. "What would I want Andrea for? Besides, she's—"
Emily waited for her to finish the sentence, but Miranda could hardly believe what had almost come out of her mouth. Andrea wasn't dead yet; she would be dead, but then, so would everyone, eventually. But not yet.
"She's what?" Emily asked.
"She is a frumpy, disloyal, unfaithful—" Miranda glared at Emily, horrified by the amount of emotion—vitriol, but still emotion—in her voice. "Go do your job," she hissed.
But once Emily mentioned it—once Miranda mentioned it without ever meaning to—she couldn't get Andrea out of her mind. The woman was a menace, even months after leaving Runway, and a distraction to boot. The problems with Irv, or the shoot, or the hostage crisis all sank into the background, and Andrea surfaced in her mind more than was strictly necessary for an ex-employee who had left under bad terms. For heaven's sake, any number of Miranda's former employees had died. She had even been to quite a few funerals, especially in the 1980s. Andrea was no different.
Telling herself that didn't help her concentration any, however, and even the burst pipe that destroyed a quarter of the Closet was not the distraction it should have been, for all that it had never happened before. At least, not that she could remember.
"—and make sure we have the uniforms ready for the shoot," Miranda said to Emily. "Have building security shut down the building at 10:00 for the rest of the morning, and make sure the police do a complete sweep this time. That reminds me: the elevators need to be serviced before 3 p.m., find out who does that and make sure it get done. The leftmost one in particular." She tapped her chin, trying to think. "I think it's the uniforms with the gray piping, not the green."
Emily was staring at her, eyes wide and a panicked look on her face.
"Is it too hard to follow simple instructions?" Miranda said.
"N-no," stammered Emily. "No, of course not. The building needs to be locked down?"
Miranda narrowed her eyes and turned away. As she walked out of the room she took a deep breath and threw over her shoulder, "Arrange lunch with Shel at eleven, and then I need to you get me the number of The New York Mirror. The editor of The Mirror, John something," she clarified.
"The Mirror?" Emily asked doubtfully.
Miranda stared at Emily pointedly. "That's all."
"Yes, Miranda," Emily said.
It was nothing. She would deal with this, and then it would be over and out of her head.
But once she had the number in hand, Miranda couldn't think of what to tell Andrea's editor. So far, she had resisted any urge to tell anyone what was going on, partially because it still seemed too fantastical to be believed, and partially because it still seemed too irrational to really be happening. But there was no way to tell Andrea's new editor that she should be sent home for the day because late that evening she was about to get shot in a park ten miles from home. Not and seem sane. Or innocent.
That thought had crossed her mind more than once: even if she did call the police, what could she possibly say to them that would lead them to act to stop a shooting without also leading them to imagine that she was the shooter?
And so she put off calling.
But that didn't stop the persistent presence of Andrea in her thoughts. And it didn't stop Miranda from hearing the anchor woman's voice in her head at the least opportune moments, describing an earth-shattering event in the most calm tones Miranda had ever heard. As if this sort of thing happened every day.
And it didn't stop cold shivers from cascading across Miranda's body whenever she heard sirens. Like someone had walked over her grave, her daughters would say.
Miranda laid her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes as they passed Lenox Hill Hospital. "How much farther?" she snapped. She hated hospitals; they made her head hurt.
"Not much, Ms. Priestly," Roy said. "The shoot's on 82nd."
She didn't bother to reply. Five more blocks until the next disaster. No matter what she did, nothing ever changed. It never snowed before 5 p.m., Nigel either suffered through a fire or a broken ankle or a hostage situation, she might call the Coast Guard before Pier 28 blew up but then Emily or the other one tripped and broke their noses or something. Irv was still out to get her. No matter what she did, it never changed anything, and at the end of the day when she turned on the news— "Roy, let me out."
He looked surprised but didn't object, even though the wind was picking up. The walk was brisk, but dodging pedestrians stilled her thoughts and she had plenty of time to move the cable before the shoot started. Rather than going back to the office, however, she slipped into one of the back bedrooms with her Blackberry.
It was a good thing she had the number memorized, since it wasn't in her phone and never had been. She'd never needed to call it before. Before today. Her hand was trembling as she entered the digits, and it took a few tries to clear her throat to speak. "Hello, John Gluckman? This is Miranda Priestly."
The first conversation had not gone well; Gluckman, predictably, didn't believe a single word she said.
The second conversation began more pleasantly, until Miranda finally got around to the point: "Mr. Gluckman," she purred, "I am very sorry to have to tell you this, but in recent months we have been dealing with the aftermath of a case of theft."
"Oh?" he said.
"Yes. Beginning in March of last year, and ending in September, small but significant amounts of money were stolen from our petty cash. I say small, but for a magazine of Runway's stature, this amounted to several thousand dollars. Tens of thousands over six months."
"And why are you telling me this?" Gluckman asked. He didn't sound very credulous.
Miranda winced, but pushed forward. "I'm sure you recall the dates on Andrea Sachs' résumé?"
"I do," he said, and now he sounded extremely suspicious.
"So you understand that one of our first avenues of inquiry was—"
"She didn't do it," Gluckman said. There was absolute conviction in his voice.
"No?" Miranda asked.
"No," he said, fairly emphatically. "Goodb—"
"Don't hang up!" she said. "Don't—why are you so sure that it wasn't Andrea?"
"Because I know her. I've seen her work, and I'm sure you have too. Andrea wouldn't steal."
"You did not know her when she worked at Runway," Miranda said. "She was—disapproving of the magazine, and of the people who create it. Of this entire world."
"Yeah, she's not the biggest fan of fashion, but unless you can give me some evidence, I'm not going to believe you."
Miranda sighed, but Gluckman wasn't finished.
"Besides, why are you telling me this?"
"I thought you should know," she said. "If it were me—"
"No," she said, "but if it were, I would suspend her without pay immediately—this instant—send her home. Until this is resolved, of course. Perhaps house arrest, on her own recognizance."
"Is that right?" he said, and damn the man, he was laughing. "Well, thanks for the suggestion, but I'll deal with my staff my own way," and hung up.
Miranda exhaled, and contemplated smashing her phone.
She settled for going home early.
"Mr. Gluckman, I would like to offer you a deal."
"What in the world do you have to offer me?"
"I am in possession of a great deal of money—" she said.
"Are you—" he blurted. "Are you trying to bribe me?"
"No!" Miranda hastened to say. "No, I am not. I am merely suggesting mutually agreeable terms."
"So, what? I get money. What do you get?"
She took a deep breath. "You get money. I get your assurance that a certain employee of yours will be put on administrative leave, starting this afternoon."
"Administrative leave? Who? And why?"
"Andrea Sachs," said Miranda.
"Why?" Gluckman demanded. "You gave her a reference—"
"That is none of your concern."
Gluckman snorted. "No deal."
"You don't even know how much I'm prepared to offer," Miranda said.
"I don't need to," he said. "No deal."
And then he hung up again.
After the twins recital was finished and they had gone to bed, the evening wore on unbearably for Miranda, waiting until the precise moment to call. Finally, after an eternity spent watching the clock, it was time. "Hello, emergency services? I just heard gunshots fired in Crotona Park; I think someone's been shot."
It was simple really: if Andrea's editor refused to help, then Miranda would have to go to higher authorities. Miranda stayed on the line long enough for the operator to admonish her that there had been no shooting near Crotona Park, but even as the woman was staying, "Prank calls to 911 are a criminal offense—" there were shots heard on the radio relay from the ambulance.
"What's going on?" the operator demanded.
"Gunshots," shouted an EMT, and another said, "Victim down!"
Miranda, not wanting to hear any more of the conversation, hung up, satisfied. Andrea was safe.
She was so certain that there was nothing to fear that she made the mistake of turning on the news. "—Reporter Andrea Sachs was shot in front of Bronx paramedics tonight in a drive-by shooting—"
"Hello, is this the Gang Intelligence Unit? I have reason to believe that there will be a drive-by shooting this evening in the Bronx. No, I cannot tell you where I got my information—I overheard something. Crotona Park, just off Fulton. No, I do not know who will be involved. That is your job, to gather intelligence and then put it to use, is it not? Yes, an initiation of some sort—of course I can come in for an interview."
The GIU offices were poorly lit and smelled and did not lend any air of confidence to the proceedings. Neither did the aggressive interview; Miranda was pleased that she had phoned her lawyer before initially calling the GIU, but they seemed a great deal more interested in how someone like herself could have possibly come across this information than in saving Andrea's life.
She left four hours later firmly convinced that this attempt wasn't going to bear fruit, and the news that evening, which she now religiously and compulsively watched, agreed: "—and the police urge anyone who knows anything about the shooting to please come forward—"
After that, she gave up and went to work again, but every single thing about Runway irritated her, from the incessant questions to the blinding colors to the complete lack of concern about the tragedy in their midst. They were laughing in the hallways, for heaven's sake.
But Andrea wouldn't leave her alone. Miranda was able stop bombs and fires and floods, surely a simple shooting shouldn't be very much trouble. Following up on something, Gluckman had said. Well, that might provide another avenue, an earlier opportunity to stop Andrea from even being in the Bronx that evening. She called for Emily. "Get me this week's editions of The Mirror."
According to the tiny article on page 34 of Monday's Mirror, Andrea had interviewed two people from Jesus Walks With Me about the theft of $700 worth of donated food in a break-in over the weekend. And Jesus Walks With Me was on Boston Road, a block from Crotona Park. It was something.
Miranda she located a donut shop directly across the street from the soup kitchen and set up surveillance. Three hours into her vigil, she had long since become inured to the smell of baked goods and bad coffee when Andrea came into sight. Miranda just caught a glance of silken brown hair and a gray knit scarf as she exited the subway and ducked into Jesus Walks With Me's office. If she hadn't been looking in that exact direction, if she had been watching the other side of the street, or the other direction, she would have never seen her. Miranda shivered, and then frowned; if anything, it was overly hot in the donut shop.
As she following the woman—and as she got closer, she realized it was indeed Andrea—into the building, she took into a few more details of her outfit. Sensible, Miranda thought, low key yet stylish. And the low-heeled boots would be useful when it started to snow later in the afternoon. She wondered if Andrea had chosen them with an eye to the weather.
Miranda pretended to be extremely interested in the posted flyers while waiting for Andrea to finish whatever it was that reporters did—it seemed to take an extremely long time, and frankly, Miranda had wasted a day and a half on this folly already. She could be at work, doing something, for goodness sake. Managing a hostage situation or something.
By the time Andrea thanked her interviewees for the millionth time and turned to leave, Miranda had worked herself into an impressive snit. She was fed up with this girl, who had walked out on her and then managed to ruin an entire morning, forcing Miranda to sit in a donut shop, for goodness's sake.
When Andrea finally turned to leave, Miranda stormed up to her and grabbed the girl's arm. "You will not go to Crotona Park tonight," she demanded.
Andrea's already large eyes grew even larger. Her lower lip began to quiver.
"Do you have any idea what you've put me through?" Miranda said.
"N-n-no?" said Andrea.
"I thought not. Your thoughtless little—"
Before she could finish her sentence, or even start it, an imposingly wide man stepped between Miranda and her quarry. "Is this woman bothering you?" he asked Andrea.
She said, "I have no idea. I don't even know—" Andrea stared at Miranda with those huge eyes for a moment, terror written all over her face.
Andrea's arm felt like fire underneath Miranda's hand. She jerked her hand back. "No," she whispered, her stomach suddenly feeling hollow.
"W-what?" said Andrea, standing taller than Miranda and managing to cower all the same.
"Fine," said Miranda, concentrating on breathing evenly and on not ripping off Andrea's ungrateful head. "But you will not go to Crotona Park tonight, do you understand?"
Andrea gave her a completely stunned look, and then left Miranda standing in the middle of a suite of shabby food pantry offices.
Perhaps it wasn't the most elegant solution to the problem, and the look of fear on Andrea's face bothered her all day, but the rest of the afternoon went fairly well, the girls' recital was wonderful as usual, and when she settled down with a drink to watch the news, she had the unusual feeling that it had been a very productive day.
She felt that way all the way up until the news anchor said, "We have some very bad news to report about one of our own. Reporter Andrea Sachs has been shot—" and Miranda hurled her glass at the television.
The smash was gratifyingly loud.
Nothing had worked.
This day was going to repeat—she knew that. She could take one day, just one day, and use it to—to do something. Andrea wouldn't listen to her, Gluckman was no help, emergency services couldn't stop something they didn't know was about to happen, but perhaps if she were there— She would be in Crotona Park at the appointed time, and in the end it would be just one day. Tomorrow things would go back to normal, Andrea would be alive, and she could return her attention to more pressing matters.
Tomorrow, Miranda thought wistfully.
It was easier said than done. Sitting in a rented car on the western edge of a Bronx park in the middle of the night was perhaps not the best idea she had ever had, but it was better than nothing. She would stop Andrea from doing something stupid.
Stakeouts were excruciatingly boring, Miranda decided after 20 minutes. After an hour, she was ready to stab her eyes out just for some excitement. After two hours, she wanted to vomit from the tension as the relevant moment approached, and then she saw her: Andrea, in a heavy coat, walking towards Miranda, shoulders hunched against the snow. She was watching the ground at her feet, and Miranda was watching her, so neither of them noticed the car that sped down the street heading towards Andrea or the window that rolled down or the small black cylinder that poked out.
It wasn't until Andrea collapsed to the ground with a cry that Miranda registered the sharp popping sounds.
She leapt out of the car and ran, skidding across the fresh snow, to Andrea.
She lay crumpled on the ground. Miranda crashed to her knees beside her and her hands were immediately slick with blood. It was hot, Miranda thought, so hot, and Andrea looked so cold. She pulled Andrea into her lap, and wrapped her coat over them both. "Emergency? Please, she's been shot. Please, please, help me."
She did not get out of bed the next day, and she did not watch the news that night.
But it was still Thursday. That was something, at least.
Shivering on Andrea's doorstop early the next morning, Miranda, for the first time, questioned her own sanity. So did Andrea, when she finally admitted Miranda into her apartment. "Are you insane? I'm going to die tonight? I think—Miranda, I think you're a little—You need a vacation," Andrea said.
"I do not need a vacation," Miranda said. "I need you to listen to me." That was your job once, she did not say.
Andrea said, "And I would, if you would say something that made any sense. I've never even been to Crotona Park. I'm not even sure where Crotona Park is."
"But you will," said Miranda. "Tonight."
"And how do you know that? How can you know something like that, unless you're planning on—"
"How dare you—I am not planning on anything," Miranda snarled, angrier than she had ever been in her entire life. Andrea must have recognized the look on her face, because she started backing away. With a monumental effort, Miranda got herself under control. "Humor me," she said.
Andrea laughed bitterly. "Humor you? On some wild goose chase about something you can't even explain, for some reason you can't tell me, because it might save my life but you can't tell me why? I'm sorry, Miranda. You're going to have to do better than that."
"I can't tell you—"
"So you said. Look, Miranda, if you're trying to freak me out, no dice."
"I am not—Please," said Miranda. "Please, do this for me. I promise that I will explain, tomorrow. I will tell you everything tomorrow, once—" Once tomorrow happens. "Once I know that you're safe and sound."
Andrea sighed. "I'll think about it, okay? Right now I have to go to the office, and then I've got a follow-up interview in the Bronx."
"You will be home by dark?" Miranda said.
"I'll try," said Andrea with a shrug. "I can't promise anything."
"You will listen to me," Miranda shouted, dragging Andrea to the rented car. "You will listen to me, and you will not be here tonight, and you will—"
"Help!" shouted Andrea. "Help, she's got a gun!"
"Just come with me—" Miranda said, "I'll explain—"
"Miranda, let go of me," Andrea yelled, and ran into the street—right into a passing car. The same passing car, Miranda realized sickly. The same car filled with the same men with the same guns.
And the result was exactly the same.
"Please, just listen to me," Miranda said.
"Why?" said Andrea. "Why should I listen to you?"
"Because—because—just listen to me."
Andrea waited, but nothing came to Miranda's mind. She stared at Andrea helplessly, and then, out of the corner of her eyes she spotted the car, huge and dark and menacing.
Time slowed. Miranda had hours, days, years to decide what to do, but it wasn't until she saw the gun light up that she moved.
Her side exploded in fire, and when she turned to Andrea, her body refused to cooperate. Looking up from the street—when had she fallen?—Miranda opened her mouth to speak. Nothing came out.
"Shh," said Andrea.
Miranda wondered where the sirens were. The pain in her side was consuming her, and she was so tired. More tired than she could ever remember being.
"Shh, don't worry," Andrea said, "it'll be okay."
Miranda smiled, and closed her eyes.
If waking up the next morning was agony, going to the park that evening was even worse.
"I know you don't understand," Miranda pleaded, even as she knew that it wouldn't do any good, that no matter what she did today it would just happen again tomorrow. "Please, Andrea, please come with me. We'll go—we'll go whatever you want. We'll fly to Venice, right now. Rio, Madrid, anywhere."
"Are you nuts?"
"I—I—" Miranda closed her eyes and pinched her nose. Her side still hurt, even if it was only a phantom pain. Someday the day would reset, and she would go back to her life again, to a life without Andrea in it. She had to make this chance count; someday it would be the only one she had. "I love you."
Andrea blinked several times. "What?"
"I—" There was the popping sound, unbearably close. Miranda tackled Andrea. "Get down!" she shouted even as they both tumbled to the ground. There were more pops—gunshots, although no matter how many times she heard them they never sounded any less pretend—and the squeal of tires, and then it was silent.
"What was that?" Andrea said, pushing Miranda off of her and sitting up. She looked around, already digging for her notebook. "Where did it come from?"
Miranda, shaking and trembling, clutched at Andrea's arm. "That, that was it. That—"
"That was what?" Andrea asked, looking curiously at Miranda.
Miranda, caught in her gaze, crumbled. "I can't—I can't explain."
Miranda looked away. So far, she hadn't seen the inside of an insane asylum; it might be interesting. "That was the bullet that—the bullet—"
"The bullet that what?" said Andrea.
There was a look on her face, penetrating and intense, and Miranda felt caught, drawn in by that stare. She couldn't escape it.
So she explained. Sitting there in the still-falling snow, she told Andrea everything, from Emily's blue tutu to the days spent at museums with her girls to finally turning on the news and discovering that Andrea had been shot and was dead. "—and tomorrow is just going to be today again, for the umpteenth time," she finished. "No matter what I do it's always the same, and it's almost better that way, because if I had to wake up tomorrow morning, a real tomorrow, not just today again, and read in the papers that you were still—that you were—"
"Dead," said Andrea.
Miranda trembled. "No, don't say that. You're not, you're fine, it didn't happen."
"But it will, tomorrow. Today. Whatever."
Miranda couldn't meet her eyes as she nodded.
"That—" Andrea slumped back. "I have no idea what that is." She gazed speculatively at Miranda. "Are you sure you're not nuts?"
"No," Miranda laughed. "I'm not sure at all." She thought she might be getting a little hysterical, but it was probably her due. She had never been shot at before today, after all.
"Nuts is easier to believe than that you've been living the same day for three months just to save my life."
"I—" said Miranda. "I—" But there was nothing to say.
They sat quietly in the silently falling snow. After several minutes, Andrea said, "So you love me?"
Miranda hesitated and then nodded slowly.
Andy smiled at her. Miranda's heart stopped.
"That's good," Andy said.
"Yes. Oh, yes. Yes," said Miranda, and kissed her.
The next morning when Miranda woke up, she immediately noticed two things. The first was that it was snowing.
The second was that Andrea was lying on the bed beside her, in the previous day's rumpled clothes and dirty and blessedly alive. They were facing each other on top of the covers, and for a moment Miranda wondered if it was a dream.
"What—what—Andrea?" It wasn't true, it couldn't possibly be true, it was all a figment of her imagination. "Andrea!?" She clutched at her arms. It was morning, and Andrea was— "You're—"
"Alive?" Andrea said wryly.
Tears pricked at Miranda, and she swallowed. Her throat was strangely blocked, and no words came to mind. She stared at Andrea.
"Are you okay? Well, no, I guess not," said Andrea, and began massaging Miranda's hands with her own. Andrea's hands felt burning hot, but then she said, "Your hands are freezing, Miranda. Are you—is this shock?"
"You're alive?" Miranda said, and then yanked away from Andrea to search for the bullet wound. Andrea's eyebrows went clear to her hairline and it wasn't until Andrea said, "Um?" that Miranda realized she was pawing at Andrea's chest like a teenager. "You're alive."
Andrea nodded again.
"Oh," said Miranda. "Oh." The threatening tears welled up again. She clenched her jaw to stop the trembling, but Andrea still saw it.
"C'mere," Andrea said, and hauled Miranda—as if she were a small child—into her arms.
Miranda pressed her face into Andrea's shoulder and tried to control herself. The growing wet patch under her cheek spoke to that success, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Andrea was gently running her hand through Miranda's hair and if Miranda concentrated, she could see Andrea's chest moving with each breath and hear her heartbeat. Her heartbeat, which was thundering rather rapidly.
Miranda raised her head and gazed at Andrea speculatively. "Your heart is pounding."
Andrea blushed. "N-n-nobody touches you." Her mouth opened several times without the benefit of words, and she fidgeted with the covers. It was fairly painful to watch. Miranda had no idea how much time had passed when Andrea blurted, "You're inviolable."
Miranda glared at her. "You died, and you're worried about my modesty?"
Andrea glared right back. "That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean?"
"I just meant—" She narrowed her eyes at Miranda. "Did you want my heart to be pounding?"
Now it was Miranda's turn to blush and then glare. "Were you not there last night? Did you not hear what I said?"
"Yeah, you said—You said—" Andrea looked at her wonderingly. "You said you lived the same day over and over and over again just for the chance to save my life." When Andrea said it, it sounded like a miracle, as if Miranda was a paragon or a saint.
"That's not it," Miranda objected.
"No?" said Andrea. "Then what was?"
"I don't know," she said, and tried to push away from her. Andrea wouldn't let her go.
"What changed from all the other times?" she demanded.
Miranda refused to look at her. That couldn't possibly be it. So many other things had happened, Irv and the girls, and Pier 28.
"Miranda?" Andrea asked softly. "What was different this time?"
Miranda's blush returned a thousandfold.
"The difference is that you love me? That's it, isn't it? That's—are you sure you're not insane?"
Face burning, Miranda whispered, "Not that I love you, that I told you. Although I would have to be just a little insane to love you."
"Oh," Andrea breathed, and from the look on her face, Miranda's canonization was imminent. Something split open in Miranda's chest, and laughter bubbled up.
"It's tomorrow!" she said, laughing so hard she was gasping for breath. "It's tomorrow." Tears streamed down her face, and Andrea now clearly thought she was insane. At least she looked amused and was making no moves towards her phone.
"Yeah, it is," said Andrea.
"It's tomorrow, and you're alive."
"Yeah," said Andrea. "I am."
When Miranda had marginally gotten herself under control again, Andrea insisted that they get up and fetch coffee and food and all sorts of things. Miranda didn't care at all about any of it, and she was probably driving Andrea to distraction with her constant need to touch her, but Miranda didn't care and Andrea wasn't objecting.
And then Andrea asked, "What happens now?"
Miranda stared at her blankly, the reality of the situation hitting her all at once. It was tomorrow, and the entire day lay before her as an unknown quantity. The rest of her life lay before her. "I have no idea," she told Andrea, relishing the feeling.
Andrea frowned. "What about Runway?"
Miranda regarded her. "Andrea," she said, smiling, "I have given a great deal of my life to that magazine. I think it's time I started taking a little bit back."