“He just walks up and shoots the guy. Three times.”
“Are you kidding?”
I twisted my office chair and looked to the cubicle behind me.
“Completely serious. And then he casually walks away, hails a taxi, and grabs a beer at the bar,” Jackson explained, reclining his chair, “Called the cops to turn himself in after he paid his tab.”
“I can see the headline now: ‘Killer Gives No Shits,’” Debbie chuckled as she typed away at her computer.
I smiled and said, “‘Keep Calm and Kill On.’”
“Both of those are already so much better than the one I was thinking of using. Thanks!”
“You can give us credit at the bottom,” Debbie quipped, winking at me from over the monitor.
It was strange how a few months working for the New York Mirror made something like murder feel like everyday office talk. It was everything I always wanted, hunting down the injustice of the world, bringing it to light. Now it was as normal as the crappy coffee and the string of curses that often drifted through the office on the day of deadlines.
“How’s the green energy story?” Jackson asked, scratching his beard.
“Very green,” I smirked, “But I have to admit—“
The intercom on my phone suddenly erupted with the secretary’s voice.
“Andy, phone call. Line one.”
I frowned. I wasn’t expecting a call. Afraid it was bad news, I held my breath as I picked up the phone.
“This is Andy.”
“It’s about damn time.”
Well, that certainly wasn’t good news.
“I miss you too, Em.”
“Maybe if you picked up your bloody mobile, the feeling would be mutual,” Emily scoffed in her usual way that suggested she was in a state of constant mild annoyance.
She must have gotten my cell phone number from my old application.
I glanced towards my purse that held the device, now probably displaying missed call notifications. “I’m at work.”
I could practically hear the other woman rolling her eyes on the phone. “Right, and I’m sunning on a beach in Cancun ringing for a little chat. Listen, I need to know the soap.”
“You apparently purchased a very particular type of soap for Miranda’s washroom, and I cannot find it anywhere.”
“Oh, yeah, she asked for that ages ago. I found a little shop where it’s all homemade,” I recalled fondly. I had once caught Miranda quaintly sniffing her hands after I brought the soap to the office.
“What scent? Where?” Emily’s voice interrupted my memory, and I flushed with secret embarrassment.
“Lavender, I think. Lavender and vanilla. It’s in the Upper West Side.”
“What? No. Andrea, you don’t understand. Miranda wants this soap now.”
“Actually, I’m probably one of the few people that does understand,” I replied, tucking the phone against my shoulder, “Go get it.”
“The phone cannot be left unattended,” she screeched.
“There’s no second assistant?” I questioned, clicking and typing on the computer to find the address of the shop to give the other woman.
“Fired. Yesterday. Third one since you left.”
I immediately stopped, my fingers hovering over the keyboard. “Wow.”
“I need that soap. Now.”
I grabbed the phone again with my hand, getting irritated. “And you want me to leave work so you don’t have to?”
“Consider this payback for the time I was rotting in a hospital while you went to France and then dramatically quit your job and screwed me for the past four months of my life.”
Unfortunately, she had a point. The image of Miranda delicately washing her hands still swirled in my mind like water spinning down a drain.
With a click, Emily was gone, and I was facing a Google Map on my screen happily displaying my new destination.
Why did I say yes? I ungracefully plopped the phone back in its cradle.
“I’m taking my lunch,” I muttered, standing up and grabbing my purse. My coworkers simply grunted acknowledgement; they could probably sense the change in my mood.
But what was that change? As I bounded down the steps and winced against the sun outside, I realized there was no way I was doing this for Emily. I gave her the clothes. We cleared things up. If it was just a favor for her, I might have done it after work to be a good friend. Or told her hell no.
On the other hand, the chance to help Miranda again almost made me giddy. There was a sway and a skip in my step as I weaved with the rest of the crowd on the busy city streets. As if a piece inside me labeled Andrea had been sleeping until now. As if it was perfectly natural to answer the summons to help appease the fashion tyrant I had left.
But she wasn’t a tyrant, not really. Hadn’t that been the reason why I left? I had seen Miranda Priestly without the mask and then found myself shut out like the pathetic little assistant I was. That had been the excuse I had been telling myself for the past few months anyway. I had been telling myself a lot of things in attempt to forget about the woman.
Walking into the little shop brought back little memories to match. Miranda had asked for something clean. Well, she had actually demanded a soap that didn’t ‘reek like a prostitute,’ but that was basically the same thing. I had no idea how or why, but after hours of sniffing soaps all over the city until I was blind and dizzy, I knew this was the one. The brief moment I saw Miranda through the glass door of her office turning her nose to her hand had been a personal victory. Gingerly picking up the bar of soap now, I proudly reasoned she must have liked it if she wanted more now.
When I found myself standing before the massive office building, I didn’t trust myself or the reflection that looked back at me from the shining windows. The temptation to walk inside was alarming. I must have had a death wish.
Everybody wants to be us.
I shuddered, and quickly got out my phone to call Emily.
Luckily, a familiar face opened the doors and called to me with open arms.
“I’ve been sent to claim the goods,” Nigel happily announced, his smile and his outfit, as always, a wonderful sight to behold.
I grinned as I officially relinquished the fruit of my mission. “I left the receipt in the bag so Emily can have a copy of the address.”
There was a pause. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed him.
“How’ve you been?” His eyes seemed to soften at my voice.
“I can’t complain,” he shrugged casually. Another pause followed before he smiled with childish delight, “I got a promotion.”
“I told you she’d repay me.”
“I’m seriously so happy for you.” I truly was. He looked lighter, more content.
“I’m running my own magazine and yet I’m still here to assist Emily in calming the dragon,” he said with a dramatic wave of his hand, “I was surprised to hear you’d be coming.”
“Emily sounded pretty rough on the phone.”
“I’ve worked with Miranda for a very long time. I can’t say I’ve ever seen her this bad,” he stated thoughtfully, adjusting his glasses, “She’s not even angry. Just cold.”
“Ouch. The divorce must be making it hard for her.”
“What?” I frowned, not liking the gleam in his eyes, “It’s a stressful thing for anybody.”
His mouth opened, but a sound emerged from his pocket instead.
“Duty calls,” he was about to turn away but stopped midway. “Do you still have my number?”
“I lost it. When I misplaced my company phone. In a fountain in Paris.”
Maybe ‘misplaced’ wasn’t the best word choice.
“Right,” Nigel nodded, retrieving his phone, “Your number?”
I eagerly gave him the information before clapping him on the shoulder.
“It was really great to see you.”
“I’ll be in touch, Six.”
I watched my old friend return through the void of the shiny glass doors. My one little episode of indulgence was done.
Or so I thought.
Perhaps a week later, I was sprawled on my bed one evening reading when my cell phone started buzzing on the nightstand. I thought it was Lilly or maybe Nigel.
It was Emily.
“What flavor tea? She keeps hissing I’ve brought the wrong kind,” she whispered fiercely.
I glanced at the clock. They were both at the office late. I could picture Emily hiding in the little kitchenette trying not to be heard. I closed my eyes, trying to put myself there.
“Is she working on budgets or mock ups?”
“What? Reviewing the photo-shoot from today.”
“Top shelf, on the right. Box of lemon and peppermint. You need to add half a spoon of honey,” I described, recalling the night I had finally figured out the secret combination, “She’ll want a big thing of it. Put it in a coffee mug, not the little tea cups.”
After a moment of rustling, Emily finally sighed, “For fuck’s sake. Thanks. Bye.”
And just like that, it was over.
I collapsed against the bed, and tried desperately not to remember the sight of Miranda’s fingers surrounding the mug and sighing as she sipped. That second of bliss that had always made me think that maybe, just maybe, I would see a tiny smile before she continued with her work and I left her office.
Before I left her for good.
The next few days were hard. In-between my interviews for stories and meetings that had me hustling around the city, I was fielding constant texts from Emily. Which restaurant did Miranda prefer when she wanted it to be a quick dinner with unwanted company? Miranda didn’t like the color of her pen, which color was it supposed to be? I would be in the middle of typing articles and simultaneously trying to explain on the phone the small alternations I had made during my time at the magazine that Miranda now seemed to want. She wanted her afternoon coffee twenty minutes sooner. Have her purse ready after she gets off the phone with Patrick because she almost always wants to leave the office afterwards. What she would want for lunch depending on how long the meeting before it ran. The list was endless.
Even Nigel, when we finally managed to find time to get drinks, passed along a question or two. News of his promotion to being the editor of a new urban lifestyle magazine gave way to queries concerning whatever Miranda-related catastrophe Emily had endured that afternoon. The sick part was that I wanted to help. But every time I did, it took me back to that office and reminded me why I wasn’t there anymore. I loved it and hated it.
In a very underwhelming and commonplace way, I realized then that I loved her. It wasn’t the storming violently away in the middle of Paris or the magnificent galas that wildly slapped me awake to this understanding. It was in the mediocre silence of a Tuesday night as I brushed my teeth that my phone buzzed, and I saw the way my own eyes lit up in the mirror at the thought it might be another question about Miranda. Safely, in the private sanctuary of my apartment, I quietly lamented I could not help Miranda Priestly even if I was good at it. Amid the swarms of texts and calls and complaints, I wished to attend to the little details like a lover. I had left Runway because I could not. And now I fed them to Emily because I could not.
I decided I would secretly enjoy this while I could, and when the requests eventually stopped, I could finally lock away this chapter of my life for good and forget all about the fashion world and the editors that championed them.
And so my heart surged with a paradoxical blend of pleasure and dread when my phone once again began to ring on my afternoon off.
“What is it this time?”
“Oh, I fancied I’d ring you up and tell you how much I love my job,” Emily sarcastically drawled before her pitch grew higher with annoyance, “Do you think I enjoy constantly asking you about Miranda’s favorite this or Miranda’s special that?”
“I’m sorry, I just—“ I trailed off with a sigh, mentally shaking myself, “Fine. What’s up?”
“She wants her weekly itinerary to flow better.”
“Flow better.” She had to be kidding.
“You formatted it differently when you were briefly first assistant,” Emily stated, making it abundantly clear in her tone she knew exactly how brief it was.
“What part doesn’t she like about the way you do it?”
Right, as if Miranda would specifically explain when she wanted.
“I know, stupid question.”
The real question was how we were going to pull this one off.
“Can you log into my account and get my old files?”
“They were deleted.”
“Figures,” I muttered, thinking it over, “I don’t have the right software to do it and then email it to you.”
“You would most likely be flagged as a virus, all things considered,” she muttered with slight amusement over her own joke, “You’ll have to tell me how to do it.”
“She likes it when there isn’t a lot of junk on it,” I said, thinking of how I had made two separate schedules for Emily and myself, “Make sure you sort out your stuff so she doesn’t see it.”
There was a button. I think. Right?
“Um, go to Filter.”
“On the top somewhere?”
“Ugh!” Emily’s frustration summed it up for both of us.
“I don’t know, it’s one of those things I can’t do unless I’m looking at it.”
The pause that followed was extremely worrisome. Emily had to be crazy.
“Miranda’s in a meeting until three.”
It was one thing to help Miranda from afar. But to risk seeing her again?
“You want me to come to Runway and risk your job and my life all to fix a freakin’ calendar in Excel?”
Her response was immediate. “Yes.”
The most sickening thing of all was the fact that I secretly wanted to go back. Something raged within me, begging for even a chance to see Miranda again.
This time, when I faced the tall, glass building, I avoided my reflection. I signed in as a guest of Emily Charlton. I rode the elevator and tried not to remember once sharing it. I navigated the Runway floor with my head down, trying to avoid being seen, just incase.
When I came face to face with Emily, she gave me a single nod.
“Right then. Come on,” she waved me over to her own desk with the computer. She was never really the type for cheery greetings.
My old desk was empty, and the visual really made no impression on me. I thought fondly of my current work desk that was home to a picture of my parents, a young bamboo plant, and a Batman bobble head. Glancing at Miranda’s personal office, however, made me incredibly anxious.
“You owe me,” I mumbled, sitting down and beginning my task.
“I daresay with Nigel’s raise, he can buy us both drinks this weekend.”
“I’ll take it.”
I did what I could. It was mostly muscle memory. Type this in here, cut that out. That should be bolded. Ouch, three meetings in one day next week? Underline that.
While I worked, I kept an eye on the clock. We still had over an hour.
“Odd,” Emily mused from where she leaned on the desk watching the screen.
“What?” I thought she was talking about something I just did on the computer. All I did was copy and paste something.
“Your outfit isn’t as drastically ugly as I thought it would be.”
I rolled my eyes and countered, “I used to work here, you know.”
“Oh, I do know. I’m reminded everyday,” she sighed, as grumpy as always.
I glanced over at the red-head and asked, “So how bad has—“
“I understand your frustration, Miranda,” Nigel’s voice shot through down the hall and into the office like a warning alarm.
Oh my god.
Emily turned wide-eyed towards me and whispered viciously, “She’s early. Hide.”
Instinct took over. I fell out of the chair, diving towards the open door of the kitchenette and I barely had time to hop behind it before I heard the thud of heels on carpet marching into the office.
“Perhaps if Irving provided me with a bigger budget, someone would be able to finally solve his personal fashion disaster.”
Her voice! She was so close.
“Lucky me I have my own Elias-Clark publication to worry about now.” Nigel’s voice sounded closer now.
I heard Miranda scoff, a thump, and more footsteps.
I slowly peaked around the door. A purse was now sitting across Emily’s desk. Nigel was standing squarely between my position and the doorway to Miranda’s office. It must have been involved in the plan and he must have known where I currently was, thanks to Emily. She stood next to him, holding a rather large notebook, as if hoping to further block the view to secure my escape.
It was now or never.
Stepping softly but swiftly on the carpet, I quietly bent over and walked out of the kitchenette and past Emily’s desk. I remained low, hoping to stay hidden behind the barrier Nigel and Emily made, and I stared at them to sense even the slightest movement.
The plan would have gone perfectly if I didn’t run right into the filing cabinet. I bit my lip trying to not shout in pain.
Shit, did that hurt.
“Who is that?”
Emily’s voice quickly answered, “HR sent someone. We’ve finished our interview. She was just leaving.”
I started walking towards the hallway, trying to appear like the innocent interviewee.
Just a few more steps, and I would be gone again from Miranda’s life.
The command froze me. My head screamed to keep moving, to run away, to leave. And yet my feet did not move.
Miranda’s voice behind me airily questioned, “Who are you?”
She sounded only vaguely interested. A new potential employee to harass. Another opportunity to chastise Emily and her interviewing techniques.
My heart pounded as I remained silent, unsure of how to answer. Surely she would know my voice?
My lack of an answer sparked her annoyance, and she snapped, “What are you doing here?”
It was just like my real interview the first time I stepped into Elias-Clark. She had asked me that very question while she perused a newspaper. Asked me who I was. Suddenly, the sickening twisting in my chest relaxed. I relaxed.
It finally dawned on me that I was the one brave enough to walk away from the job a thousand girls would kill for. I didn’t need to run away now. I was free.
“It was this or Auto Universe,” I replied casually with a shrug, still facing the hallway.
A pause followed. I could only gleefully imagine the shocked look on Miranda’s face.
“So you don’t read Runway?” Turns out she remembered our first conversation as well as I did. Her voice was slower. Quieter. Disbelief?
“And you have no sense of style or fashion.” I smiled. Miranda’s tone revealed she was either pleased or horrifyingly infuriated.
“I think that depends on what you mean.”
“That wasn’t a question.”
I slowly turned around and finally looked at the woman that had dominated my thoughts since the day I met her. Nigel and Emily had stepped off to the side, like the powerful parting of the sea, with Miranda now standing in the center of the doorway to her office. She looked sharp as ever in her suit, poised and elegant. However, her normally controlled demeanor gave way to signs of frustration that I had memorized. Her knuckles were white from gripping a folder. Her jaw was set. Her eyes, though, were the final clue. That was how I always knew what she was thinking, and it really blew me away how no one else had ever figured it out. They always told me exactly what she was feeling.
Now they glittered fiercely, like exploding stars.
“I’m not skinny or glamorous, and I don’t know that much about fashion,” I stated firmly, walking towards the trio, “But I’m smart. I learn fast, and I will work very hard.”
It felt like I was following up on a promise. Standing here in this room, saying those words again, made me realize that, while I could leave the magazine, I couldn’t leave her. The first time I said those words, I had meant them. Those words made Miranda hesitate then. Her eyes shimmered with the familiar curiosity.
Some part of me was happy to be back, and the other part was furious that I’d dare return to the woman who broke my heart.
After all, wasn’t that why I had come back? Why I told Emily all the answers?
I was still madly in love with the damn woman. I left to escape her. It was time to finally figure out where this was going to go. Not as her assistant. But as simply me. I would finally tell her how I felt about her.
“Take a chance and hire the smart, fat girl,” I practically growled.
The effect was instantaneous.
“Emily. Nigel. Leave,” Miranda demanded resolutely, her gaze never leaving mine. I continued to hold it as my friends darted towards the hallway. Nigel looked like he tried to catch my eye, but his face was nothing but a blur.
The editor turned and slowly stalked into her office, as if luring prey deeper into her clutches. I was stupid enough to follow.
Everything seemed to look the same. Same glass desk, same large glass windows. The framed photo of Stephen was notably missing. There was a little more paperwork spread across her desk than I know she preferred. Miranda placed her folder amongst it.
I turned to the woman that positioned herself beside the window. She stood tall, appearing as strong and confident as ever. I knew she would be cool and calm until she got her answers.
A beat or two passed before Miranda finally broke the silence.
“I did hire her,” she said, finally answering my challenge from before, “She was my greatest disappointment.”
“I know. I got to read your letter of recommendation,” I replied indifferently, crossing my arms. Her little jabbing insults weren’t going to work on me this time.
She assessed me in her usual way, from head to toe. Not judgingly as she did when I was hired nor almost seductively as she had done many times before. She was sizing me up as someone worthy now.
Her eyes finally stilled. “Why are you here?”
“Still doing a job I left. I’m starting to think I got too good at it,” I answered with a shrug taking a few steps into the room.
Miranda snorted, “Hardly.”
“Then why is Emily calling me to ask about soap, tea, and the borders on a calendar?” I retorted with a smirk.
Admit it, Miranda, you miss me.
But we both knew it wouldn’t be that easy. “She is not proficient in her job.”
“That woman got run over by a car for you. I was just better at noticing the little things.”
“So confident,” the other woman sarcastically mused, placing her hands on her hips.
I returned her mockery in full. “Oh, has Emily just been making up all the wild things you’ve been demanding?”
“One or two small trifles,” she stated with the roll of her eyes. My own narrowed. She had to have known how ridiculous she was, right? Even just this once?
“You told Emily you wanted your favorite blue coat dry-cleaned,” I recalled, taking another step towards the desk, “She called me sobbing from your foyer closet in the townhouse because you have about twenty-two blue coats.”
Miranda tilted her head thoughtfully. Something changed.
“You knew which one,” she declared. Of course it wasn’t a question. After all, the coat did get dry-cleaned. Now she simply knew it wasn’t Emily.
“The Burberry trench with the pockets. Navy,” I affirmed, reaching out to straighten the papers on her desk, “Brings out your eyes.”
The only sound in the room was the shuffling of paper. My hands moved of their own accord, making stacks, and placing them where I knew she’d want them. With each item I neatly tucked away, I felt my courage stripping away. I fought to keep it.
I stared at the folder that had been in her hands just moments before. I didn’t look up.
“I hate that I understand you,” I muttered as I glared at the desk.
“Am I so repulsive?” Her tone was still sarcastic. Evasive. Even then though, I thought, or perhaps imagined, it lacked her usual bite.
“I hate that I was paid to understand you. When all I wanted was—” I cut myself off with a sigh. Wasn’t this why I had come here? To finally put it all out there?
I looked up and gave a sheepish smile. “I miss you.” It was simple. But it was honest.
Miranda still looked as if she was solving a riddle. “You left.”
“Left my job as your assistant.”
I tried leaving you, and it didn’t work. Isn’t it obvious?
Something did seem to click, and Miranda crossed from the window to the desk that now stood between us. She leaned over, placing her hands on the glass. I expected annoyance. Maybe mild surprise. I was almost shocked to find there was rage in her eyes.
“My friendship buys a number of perks,” she snarled darkly, “What is it you want? My money? My influence perhaps? The next big story?”
How could she dare think that was my goal here? I too secured myself against the desk and leaned to meet her deadly stare, our faces inches apart.
“You look me in the eyes and you tell me I’m here for anything concerning your damn reputation, Miranda Priestly.”
My breathing was heavy. I felt charged and ready to fight.
Her face, on the other hand, grew calm. She slowly leaned back. She even crossed her arms quite casually. Her index finger went to her lips. Thoughtfully she assessed me again, and I quickly stood from where I had leaned on the desk, realization and embarrassment finally seeping in; she had been testing me. I stubbornly waited for an answer.
But I never got one.
“Take a chance, hm?” she murmured. It was like an echo. I had replayed those words in my head for so long. We locked eyes. She firmly nodded, just once.
And just like that, she was easing into her chair, and taking up the stacks I had carefully organized.
I stood there, in utter shock, waiting for something, anything else. Nothing happened. She started writing something down, and I turned and walked away.
In a daze, I left the office, and as I slowly wandered down the hall, Nigel and Emily were waiting for me.
“What happened?” Emily questioned, peaking around the corner towards her desk.
I gave them the honest answer. “I don’t know.”
I said my goodbyes and left, needing time alone.
Once I thought about it on the walk home, I supposed the whole ordeal had gone rather well. I wasn’t dead. It didn’t end with screaming or me crying. She seemed pleased by the end about our discussion. I had told her how I felt and—Wait, friendship? Did she say friendship?
I replayed the encounter in my head and groaned. I would be the idiot that decided to tell my ferocious ex-boss I loved her…and forgot to tell her.
But what the hell did friendship with someone like Miranda mean?
I felt like had reached some kind of agreement. I really wasn’t sure what that agreement was until the next night I received a text from a number I had memorized long ago:
Dinner tomorrow night.
I thought I was going to die.
Thinking of a response took nearly half an hour, and even then, all I texted back was a simple ‘yes.’ The only information I received was that my ride would be waiting for me when I left work.
Needless to say, that next day at work was probably the longest day ever. Even the morning had been dreadful. What did a person wear to dinner when they were meeting the woman that probably decided what was in season that year? Was there a dress code? Would I be able to even afford a salad wherever we went?
In the end, I didn’t wear a ball gown to work; I assumed even that would be too much. I picked my best suit, which was still overdoing it for the extremely flexible and casual environment of our small newspaper. My coworkers poked fun all day. Andy, did you do something different with your hair? Andy, was that make up?
Andy was on the verge of punching someone.
My heart rate grew with each passing hour as dinnertime approached. When my shift was over, I ran out the door as fast as my heels would carry me.
I knew the black vehicle at the curb was there for me. Roy was waiting beside the town car, standing ready to open the door. Miranda must have been lurking inside beyond the tinted glass, watching and waiting. Was she wondering about how insane this all was, just like me? I nodded and mumbled a quick hello before he pulled back the handle. My heart lurched forward as I stepped into the car.
Here we go.
The backseat was empty. I let out a huge sigh of relief.
I seriously needed to calm down. Roy returned to the front seat and began our journey to the restaurant; I still didn’t know where it was.
“Miranda wanted me to apologize she couldn’t be here to pick you up. Running a bit late.”
“I know how it goes,” I brushed it off, leaning forward to ask, “How’s life, Roy?”
“Same old, same old,” he shot me a grin through the rearview mirror. We had certainly been through some adventures together when I worked for his boss. If he was shocked to see me, he didn’t act like it.
“Where are we going?”
“I always forget the name. I just know it’s the on Madison and 24th.”
“Oh.” It didn’t sound familiar. It was obviously in the hoity-toity part of the city, but it didn’t felt me solve the riddle of what tonight meant.
Roy shrugged. “Miranda hasn’t been to that one in awhile.”
Hm. That left me with even more questions.
I leaned back into the black leather and took a deep breath. I could totally do this. I was going to dinner. With a friend. I kept quiet the rest of the ride.
When we pulled to a stop at our destination, and Roy once again opened the door for me, I almost fell over when I saw where we were. He steadied me with his hand.
The place was gorgeous.
“Wish me luck.”
“You’ll do fine, Andy.”
I gave him a firm nod, thanked him again for the ride, and walked towards the entrance. A doorman held the way open, giving me a grand smile. I nervously smiled back.
Once I was inside, a gentleman in a suit greeted me warmly, “Welcome. How may I help you?”
“I’m meeting Miranda Priestly.”
He bowed his head slightly. “Yes, Miss Sachs, right this way please.”
Alright, that was pretty cool. I mean, I had often gone to fancy places and ran errands for Miranda using her name, but they never knew my own.
The atmosphere was truly incredible. It was extremely nice, but didn’t feel too cold or uptight. Even though it was dinner, the lighting wasn’t very dark or overly romantic. I could see Miranda poised and relaxed with a glass of wine in a place like this.
Relaxed. How often was Miranda relaxed?
He sat me down at a table for two loaded with silverware. How many forks and spoons did a person need? I needed to remember to watch how Miranda ate so I didn’t mess it up.
I glanced at my watch. I had once lived on Miranda Standard Time. Her lateness really didn’t bother me. It gave me a change to look around and get used to the space.
A waiter brought me water and placed menus on the table. I ignored the menu for now, thinking looking at the food when only make me hungrier. I didn’t recognize any of the other patrons. No one seemed to notice me, which meant I was successfully blending. Some were dressed very nicely, as if they had also come from work. A few women were in very nice dresses. Some people were in jeans. I guess when you had money, it really didn’t matter.
I was a few minutes deep into listening to a couple argue about car they should buy for their sixteen-year-old when the host in the suit returned, escorting Miranda to our table.
I immediately hopped up and gave her what I hoped what my best smile. She was dressed in a really nice pencil skirt and blouse. The man pulled Miranda’s chair out as he had done with mine.
“Good evening. I trust Roy ensured you were comfortable,” she said, gliding into her chair, lightly tossing back her head to fix her hair as she settled in.
“He always does,” I responded, licking my lips and sitting back down, “How was work?”
She swiftly plucked a case from her purse and retrieved her glasses.
“Nigel’s replacement is still learning all of my intricacies.”
“Is it possible to learn all of them?”
She slowly slid the frames upon her nose and quirked an eyebrow at me. “I should think so.”
I smiled and picked up my menu. The hellos seemed to go well.
I looked over the list of food in my hand and released a small sigh. Crap. Not a number in sight. Nate had always said he wanted to work at a place that didn’t have prices on the menus. That’s how you knew it was at least $200 per person.
Maybe I could tell her I wasn’t hungry? It was either that, or paying my portion of the check was going to mean taking a really fun dip in my savings this month.
“I will only say this once,” Miranda stated sternly, her gaze peering over her menu and her glasses, “My friends enjoy what my wealth can afford.”
I sighed again, “I told you I didn’t care about your money.”
“Then you will not care how I choose to spend it. I am buying dinner. Stop fretting.” She considered the matter so insignificant that she returned to reading her own menu while she spoke.
But to me, it was everything. This really wasn’t a test anymore.
“Thank you,” I muttered with a grin as she shrugged it off.
“I highly recommend the chicken,” she drawled without looking up.
I quickly scanned the menu and skimmed the description.
“But you don’t like spicy foods.” Her lips twitched in response, but her gaze remained low.
How did she know that I loved spicy things? I stared at her, waiting for an explanation, but as usual, none came.
And so began my friendship with Miranda Priestly.