“So Mom. Are you a lesbian now?”
Miranda Priestly’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline at the unexpected question coming from her precious daughter. She leaned back into the headboard of her king size bed, pressed the phone closer to her ear and cleared her throat.
“Where did this come from Bobbsey?” she asked carefully. She suspected that her ex- husband’s new girlfriend might have come up with this ridiculous idea just to try to weaken her already fragile relationship with her daughters. If that was the case that dumbass bimbo had better run and hide somewhere really – really far.
“I heard when Cheryl told Dad that you’d finally admitted in a press release that you were attracted to women and that you were currently dating someone. That’ so cool Mom. Cass is asking if your girlfriend will be living with us. Do you think we should call her mum, or what?”
“Call her mum? Wait…what?” Miranda’s brain was becoming overloaded with the information and the barrage of questions Caroline was firing at her.
A press release? What press release? Half listening to Caroline’s animated chatter, Miranda turned on her computer and googled herself. At the same time she checked her cell phone. She had this new habit of putting her cell on sleep mode at night, so the beeps of incoming emails, messages or calls would not wake her. The kids, if they needed her, would call her landline, as Caroline just had, and other emergencies didn’t usually occur at Runway at night. Her home number was not public and not many people knew it. This was to her immense satisfaction, as lately, instead of than attending parties or dining out, she much more enjoyed being at home undisturbed, reading or watching movies with the girls. She looked at her phone and her eyes widened in surprise. Forty-five missed calls, numerous texts and emails.
“Shit.” she murmured. “This is not going to be good.”
A click on the first link that appeared on her screen, confirmed her fear. Page Six.
“Of course they would be the first ones to jump at this story.” Miranda muttered, shaking her head.
“What did you say mom?”
“Nothing Bobbsey. Listen, why don’t we talk about this when you come home tomorrow evening? Please tell your father I will call him later.”
“All right mom. Oh, Cass says she won’t call her mum or anything, and you can’t force her to do it.”
Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose and inhaled deeply. The headache that was forming behind her eyes didn’t help at all.
“Caroline let me talk to your sister.”
“She doesn’t want to…she just left the room. Sorry Mom.”
“It’s all right darling. I’ll talk to her tomorrow. “
“Ok Mom. Love you.”
“Love you too, Bobbsey.” Miranda answered but Caroline had already hung up.
She dropped the phone on the bed and turned her attention back to her computer. Not seeing all the words clearly, she reached for her glasses. Adjusting them she started to read, her anger raising with every sentence.
The Ice Queen Melting
After many years, it appears we finally get to know why the Ice Queen has not been seen with any suitor since her divorce. It seems all this time we looked but just didn’t see.
Last night a press release was issued by Miranda Priestly herself, in which the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine declared her attraction to women. She also hinted at the existence of a possible girlfriend.
Should we believe it? The timing is interesting and raises questions.
Two days ago it was announced that Edna Martin, the CEO of Martin Entertainment bought up the Elias–Clarke shares and became the major shareholder. Ms. Martin just happens to be a well- known, out lesbian.
Is it a coincidence? Or is the Dragon Lady just trying to strengthen her position with her own coming out. Does she really think the “we are family” strategy will work?
We don’t know dear readers but we will find out soon.
“This is outrageous!” Miranda wanted to fling the computer across the room.
Thought after thought was running through her mind but the whole situation just made no sense. It didn’t bother her that people might think she was a lesbian. As far as Miranda was concerned, someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity was not a big deal. What had her seeing red, was the fact that someone from her office had leaked an obviously false story and after years of relative peace with the press, she would once again have to deal with paparazzi on a daily basis.
The likelihood of an office leek, however, was more disturbing than the possibility of future unpleasant interaction with the press. If it was true that the source of this news was someone from her office that person would pay dearly. The people who worked closely with her were faithful mostly out of fear and not loyalty. They were aware of the consequences of any foul play and no one wanted the Dragon Lady to be their enemy.
The ring of her cell jolted her. It was Leslie.
Talking a deep calming breath she answered the call and asked softly. “Care to explain what is going on?”
The coldness in her voice sent an unpleasant chill down the spine of the woman on the other side of the line.
“Miranda. Thank God, you finally picked up the phone. I have been trying to reach you since I read the news hours ago. What happened?”
The editor’s fake calmness disappeared in a flash and she snapped. “What do you mean what happened? You are my publicist, Leslie. You tell me!”
“I already called someone who owes me a favor. She works for Page Six. She claims that your coming out confession was sent directly to them from Runway.”
So it was true. Someone from her staff had betrayed her. Miranda closed her eyes and hissed through her teeth.
So unlike herself, Leslie laughed nervously.
“By you, Miranda.”
Getting out of the house was not an easy task to complete. Despite her years of experience dealing with the paparazzi she had difficulties pushing through the small crowd that had gathered in front of her home. She did not bother to answer any of their questions. Not even a “no comment” left her mouth. She got into the car and headed to her office. During the ride she checked her emails, looking for the one Leslie’s friend had received and had claimed that it was from her. At first she almost believed that the email had been sent from her email address but when she examined it more closely something caught her attention.
“Smart.” she murmured. A fake email, with Runway misspelled. A classic tactic used in phishing, and now in this case a ploy used to fool the media. She understood how something like that could be overlooked by the smear-sheet, in a moment of excitement and in their eagerness to get the scoop. She felt relieved that possibly it wasn’t her staff who had betrayed her, but someone who had no direct access to her office.
There was more paparazzi in front of the Elias-Clark but she breezed through them ignoring their questions once again. Inside the building she felt people’s eyes on her and there were some who actually dared to whisper behind her back. She didn’t care. The days would pass and a new sensational story would take over and she would be old news again.
Arriving at her office she dropped her coat and bag on the second assistant’s desk.
“Coffee. Now. Emily. Meeting in my office in five.”
She sipped the coffee that was placed in front of her and hummed in agreement. Searing hot. The first thing that pleased her this morning. There was a knock at her door and not waiting for an answer Nigel stuck his head inside.
“Morning Miranda. You naughty girl. You should have told me first before you came out for the whole world.”
Miranda grinned grimly at her longtime friend.
“So very funny, Nigel. You should sign up for open mic night somewhere in Soho.”
Nigel grinned back and sat down in the chair next to Miranda’s desk.
“You know this is big right?”
“No. Actually, I don’t think it’s a big deal, Nigel. Coming out as a lesbian. I could have done worse.”
Nigel leaned forward, his face serious.
“It’s a real problem, Miranda. I know Edna Martin and for her it is going to be a deal breaker.”
“How do you mean? Am I missing something here?”
“I don’t know who planned this ploy but they definitely know Edna and her past very well. I’m surprised you don’t remember it. It was all over the news at that time.”
Miranda frowned and sipped from her coffee. It tasted bitter this time.
“For God’s sake. Spit it out will you.”
“Several years ago, Edna fell in love with a woman. She fell hard. It was a once in a lifetime type of love. You know, soulmates and happily ever after. The power lesbian couple happiness and fluff. Until one day Edna accidentally overheard a conversation between her beloved and her friend.” Nigel stopped and sighed dramatically. “Long story short, Edna found out that the love of her life wasn’t in love with her. She wasn’t even a lesbian. In fact every time she and Edna made love, she apparently literally fell sick and threw up every time.”
“Easy money. I believe. The woman was not the typical eye candy, so finding an older millionaire and getting married wasn’t that easy. But somehow she charmed Edna. Now since then Edna has been a bit paranoid. You coming out just as she bought those shares…well that’s sure to be more than a little suspicious to her. She will question your intentions. She will think that you came out just to strengthen your position at Runway. And who ever caused this ruckus probably knows this.”
“Just wonderful. You’re telling me that I can’t win this one?”
Before he could answer Leslie strolled in with several more people in tow. They rolled in a clothes rack, bringing make-up tools and reflectors.
Miranda raised her eyebrow. “Care to explain what is going on here?”
“I’ve figured out the solution” answered Leslie. “What you need is to convince the world that you are a lesbian. So I contacted an agency and they are sending over a woman who is going to act as your significant other for the next few months. You’ll go out on dates, show up together at the upcoming events. And of course, at the end you’ll break up, you’ll be heartbroken and you’ll go back to men. End of story, everyone will be happy.”
Leslie missed the icy tone of Miranda’s voice and went on with her idea.
“We take some pictures of the two of you and release them to the press. When your soon-to-be girlfriend arrives, we dress her up, add a bit of makeup and all will be settled.”
“I see…and how the…” Miranda wasn’t able to finish because Emily burst into the office dragging a beautiful, young brunette with her. The woman looked like a deer in headlights, obviously uncomfortable. She opened her mouth to say something but was hushed and pushed into Miranda’s private bathroom.
“Make up! Clothes!” ordered Leslie and the office became a noisy mess in a blink of an eye. Everyone seemed to talk at the same time. They started to rearrange the furniture, to create an acceptable scene for the photo shoot. An armful of clothes were carried into the bathroom and a makeup artist slipped inside, to transform the young brunette into a princess worthy enough to compliment the Queen. They all were so immersed in their task that they failed to see the storm coming.
A loud bang made them freeze, when Miranda pounded her fist on the desk.
“Enough! Everybody get out. Now!”
Miranda turned her attention to Leslie who blinked in horror.
“Are you out of your mind? You can’t seriously think that I would agree to something like this. I’m not going to fake a relationship. I’m not going to pose as a lesbian with a kid on my arm.” She motioned toward the bathroom. “What were you thinking? Is she even legal?”
“I…” stammered Leslie.
“Get out. I will deal with you later.”
Miranda looked at Nigel who smiled wryly. “You too.”
Turning her back, Miranda looked out of the window and gazed at the small snowflakes falling from the gray sky. There was some bustling behind her back than all went silent. She rubbed her temple. The headache was coming back.
“Well…well…well. How are you today, Miranda?” The acid in the voice of the man who had entered the office was unmistakable.
Miranda groaned. “Irv.”
“I thought I’d pay you a visit before you leave us for good this time.”
“I don’t understand you, Irv. Why do you think that my coming out would end my career? If you haven’t noticed, we are way past the middle ages…or the nineties.”
“Your coming out? Don’t make me laugh, Miranda. We both know that you had nothing to do with that press release.”
“Do we now, Irv?”
“I mean…I assume you’re not really in a relationship with a woman are you?”
“Would that surprise you, Irv? Maybe after three failed marriages I finally realized that men are not what I want. Maybe I’ve been in a lesbian relationship for the past few years and no one knew about it, because I’ve had enough of living my life in the public eye and I’ve kept my private life where it belongs…private.”
“I don’t believe you, Miranda. And take my word for it, Edna Martin won’t either. She doesn’t take kindly when someone tries to use her. Knowing your reputation she won’t fall for the “but I’m really a lesbian” bullshit.”
“And of course you’ll be there to make sure of that. Right, Irv?”
“I’ll do what I have to do to finally get rid of you, Miranda. You, in a relationship with a woman? Seriously? You are not capable of maintaining a relationship. No one would put up with your attitude for long. Some might tolerate you for your fame and money but who would want to go to bed every single night with a cold, heartless...”
His hateful speech was interrupted when the private bathroom’s door swung open and a young woman stepped out. She was buttoning her shirt and didn’t lift her gaze as she addressed Miranda.
“Hey gorgeous can you help me with this? You know how clumsy I can be sometimes?”
They were both staring at the newcomer, wordless as she stopped in front of the editor before finally looking up. Apparently noticing that she was not alone in the office with Miranda, her gaze settled on the angry looking, red faced man who was staring at her disbelievingly. Clearly he was on the verge of having a stroke. She flashed a fake apologetic smile at the gapping man and leaning closer to the equally dumfounded Miranda she whispered loud enough to be heard by both of them.
“Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you had a visitor. I don’t want to hold you up any longer, I have an appointment and I’m already late.” She tilted her head and offered a wide honest smile, so unlike the one before.
“See you tonight sweetie?”
Miranda who still hadn’t found her voice just nodded, her lips moving involuntarily until they reflected the smile she had received from the brunette. She was taken further aback when the younger woman reached up, gently palmed her face, and pulled her in for a kiss. It was a chaste, albeit sweet kiss, that colored the editor’s cheeks and left her more speechless than she was before.
The brunette pulled back with a dreamy sigh and caressed the editor’s face one more time with her fingertips. “Later sweetheart.” she whispered and was out of the office leaving the stunned editor and her angry companion behind.
As if waking from a dream Miranda shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. What the hell was that? She of course recognized the brunette as the “mail order bride” but she had no idea that she was still hiding in her bathroom. What was she doing there anyway? Why hadn’t she left with the others? And how did she dare to act like that.
The editor wet her lips with her tongue, tasting the younger woman on them. The memory of the unexpected kiss sent shivers through her body. She had never been kissed by a woman before and at that moment she was thinking that perhaps she should have tried it long ago because it just felt right. This was so unlike her. She had been kissed by a complete stranger, a woman twenty years her junior of all things, and instead of getting annoyed and angry, all she could think of was how wonderful it was. Irv was completely forgotten, as she sunk into her chair closed her eyes and continued to replay the kiss in her mind.
“Don’t think this is over. We are not done yet.”
The moment lost, Miranda opened her eyes and made a dismissive gesture with her hand towards Irv, who was hovering over her desk, his face even more red than before.
“Oh we are pretty much done here Irv. I don’t care what you say or do. I don’t care about your petty games, period.” Miranda closed her eyes again, signaling that the conversation was indeed over.
Thankfully, Irv got the clue and left. However, he made sure that his departure was heard throughout the office by shutting the door forcefully. But that had little effect on Miranda. What had affected her was the kiss and the beautiful brunette who had delivered it so sweetly.
“We have a problem.” Leslie’s worried voice snapped her out of her daydreaming.
“Leslie. I was just about to call you. Did you have the woman the agency sent sign a non-disclosure agreement? What did you say her name was again?” Miranda tried to act nonchalant but she was eager to get to know the young woman’s name.
Suddenly Leslie’s earlier words sunk in. “Problem? What are you talking about? Haven’t we had enough for one day?”
Leslie cleared her throat nervously.
“I got a call from the agency. The woman they sent had an accident, so she never made it to our office.”
“What do you mean the girls are not coming home?” While her voice was even and soft it took all of Miranda’s willpower not to shout at her ex–husband. She knew him well and was aware that it would only give him the satisfaction he was looking for. She inhaled slowly trying to calm herself as he explained cheerfully over the phone how the girls deserved a peaceful Christmas far from the media frenzy and how it was in Miranda’s best interest to agree to their last minute Caribbean getaway.
“We have an agreement James. I have full custody. Period. You can only see the girls because they don’t oppose it and I believe they need their father too. However these pitiful actions that you pull out of your sleeves, teaming up with your bimbo girlfriend, will end my good intentions toward you. And you know what that would mean.”
“You don’t want them to fly to Barbados? Fine. Tell them.”
Several seconds of silence passed on the other end and before Miranda could say anything, she heard Caroline’s excited voice and Miranda knew instantly that she had lost the battle. There was no way she could cancel this trip without becoming the ultimate bad parent. They had already made plans for the holidays and throwing it all out of the window just two days before Christmas angered her. She had been making great efforts lately to please the girls, trying hard not to disappoint them anymore. Planning the holidays was one of those things she did together with the girls and it was great fun for all of them. However, James might be right. The girls didn’t need all the attention that came with that outrageous article. Hopefully some A-list celeb would do something overly stupid at a Christmas party and by the time her daughters come back she would be old news. She sighed in resignation as Caroline said goodbye.
“We’ll call you after landing Mom. Gotta run now. Love you.”
“Love you to Bobbsey. Let me talk to your sist…” She wasn’t able to finish because Caroline ended the call before she had a chance to talk to Cassidy.
Leaning back in her chair she rubbed her temple. The headache that have been lurking all day hit her with full force. Fresh air. She needed some fresh air to clear her head and chase the pain away. She changed into jeans and a sweater – designer of course - and she wished, not for the first time in the past few days that Patricia, her faithful St. Bernard was still alive. She missed their walks in the park, her calming presence in the study after a long stressful day. Patricia was a gift, given to her by her ex-husband just before the twins were born. The twins were twelve now and Patricia passed away just days after their birthday. It was one of the saddest events of their lives but kids roll differently, and they were ready for a new puppy soon enough. Miranda who really was a dog person did not think it was time yet to have another pet, despite the girls constant begging.
She sneaked out through the back entrance that not many knew about and walked briskly down the street deep in thought. Her day couldn’t have been weirder even if it had been planned. She could pretty much imagine how Alice felt when she fell through the rabbit hole.
First, that article in Page Six. As she had been off the radar for the past few years, approximately since her third and if it was up to her, her last divorce, the unexpected interest of the press found her unprepared. Second, her staff’s unbelievably incongruous way of crisis management. A mail-order bride. Ridiculous. After finding out that the young woman in her office was not the hired escort sent by the agency Miranda was furious. There was a woman, a beholder of what happened in Miranda’s office, wandering around in New York without a signed non-disclosure agreement. That was simply not acceptable. That woman witnessed everything and could easily sell the story to any of those rag papers. And all of this because Emily, her first assistant failed to fulfill her duties. Apparently, she literally kidnapped the young brunette from the lobby, without checking her identity, because “she seemed lost and the description fit”. Miranda knew Emily well and was sure that the brunette didn’t have a chance against the persistent redhead. Despite the seriousness of the situation she had to smile as she recalled the deer in headlights expression on the young woman’s face when she was dragged into her office. And then there was that kiss. The kiss albeit modest and light was still a kiss unlike any other she had received before. And it wasn’t just the kiss itself. It was the way the other woman looked at her. In those brief moments she made Miranda feel like the center of her universe. Like no one else existed except the two of them. It was almost magical, but life taught Miranda not to believe in magic.
A gust of wind blew a blast of snow at her face and she looked around surprised. So deep in her thoughts she hadn’t noticed that the snow had started to fall heavily and had covered the city like a giant white blanket. It was already dark, the street-lamps’ faint lights danced on the millions of snowflakes giving an eerie appearance to her surroundings. She shivered and fixed her scarf. Looking around again she realized that she had no idea where she was. The street was deserted, no people around, no cars and the small stores situated on both sides under the houses were already closed and dark. Seemingly everyone was settled in for the night, safe in their homes, away from the artic weather.
“Time to call Roy.” she murmured and reached for her phone. She swiped the screen, the device awoke for two seconds then went blank. Tossing the phone back into her pocket Miranda quietly cursed herself for forgetting to charge it. The wind was blowing solidly, causing a drastic change in the temperature. Miranda felt the cold sneaking through her layers of clothes, reaching her body. She was literally freezing.
Turning around she tried to figure out which was the right direction, but she was totally lost.
“Just great. Lost in New York in the middle of a snow storm.” she whispered quietly. She was cold, colder than ever and she knew she had to move or the next day she would definitely be the cover story of every newspaper. The Ice Queen frozen to death. How ironic that would be.
Walking east down the street she saw some light coming through one of the small shop’s window. Fighting the wind and snow she sped up her pace and headed toward the store.
Getting closer she was able to read the lit tag? “My Sweet”. It was a pastry shop or a café of some kind, if the hand painted cakes and pasties on the window were any indicators. Stepping up the stairs she reached the door and attempted to open it. It was locked. Peering inside she saw that all the lights were on and she heard some music too. Someone must be there.
She knocked. Nothing. Knocked again. No answer. She slumped against the door shivering violently and for the first time in years she started to pray.
Suddenly the door was torn open and Miranda losing her balance tumbled inside the small café. Her half frozen body refused to cooperate and mentally she prepared herself to hit the floor. Hard. Yet the impact never came. Instead of plunging to the floor she landed on top of a warm soft body. Strong arms held her gently for a long minute until she found some strength to lift her head and look at her savior.
“You.” she said incredulously.
The woman under her laughed softly.
“Well. When I asked whether I would see you tonight and you agreed, I didn’t seriously think that you would show up.”
Next chapter will be posted soon. Possibly tomorrow.
The smell of coffee and cinnamon woke Miranda up. The familiar scent worked its way through her foggy mind and gently pushed her toward full awareness. Corina must be baking she thought. Miranda had a very strict rule about sugar and other unhealthy carbs but her housekeeper was a master of low-carb, yet tasty, baked goodies. Reaching for her phone she slowly opened her eyes and checked the time. 5:30 AM. Still not fully awake she wondered why her housekeeper was there so early in the morning. The blinking light pulled her attention back to the phone. A message from Cassidy. It seemed that her daughters were lucky and got out of New York before the storm hit the city. She closed her eyes again and sighed. While she was glad that they didn’t have to cancel their trip, there wasn’t anything more she wished for than spending the holidays with the twins. Christmas was about family and Miranda took it seriously. She made sure that her driver and housekeeper, who served her faithfully all year long, got plenty of free time to celebrate with their loved ones. Corina for example usually visited her mother in Italy and…Corina. Italy. Her eyes popped open and she sat up abruptly. She was fully awake now. There was no Corina in her kitchen baking and making coffee. Actually the kitchen where the smell was coming from wasn’t even hers. It was not her house. Not her bedroom. Not her bed. Suddenly everything cleared out and the events of last night flowed into her mind hitting her hard. She buried her head into her palms and groaned.
“Oh my god. What have I done?”
Andrea “Andy” Sachs pulled the cooking tray out of the oven. She had been up since 3:00 AM, keeping herself busy in the cozy kitchen. Creating cakes, cookies and other pasties was her salvation and the kitchen her safe place. Usually she enjoyed spending time baking, but this morning she just couldn’t fully focus on her tasks. Her mind was wandering elsewhere. In the center of her thoughts was a certain lady, who at that moment was sleeping peacefully in Andy’s bed. Miranda Priestly. Although Andy had never been interested in fashion, she knew exactly who Miranda Priestly was, thanks to her no-good, fellow chef, ex-boyfriend, Nate. Nate, the wannabe model was obsessed with the fashion Queen. Therefore Andy, who spent many nights listening to his gushing, learnt quite a bit about the editor too. She had never admitted, not even to herself, that she found the editor extraordinary and had developed quite a crush on her. She was an icon from a different world and Andy would have never thought that their paths would cross. Meeting Miranda Priestly was unexpected, kissing her was surreal and finally waking up next to her in the morning, well there were no words to describe that.
Actually her entire day was a series of strange events. First, Nate had left a disturbing message on her voicemail. Despite the early hours he was obviously drunk and ranted in a gruesome manner about Andy, how useless she had been during their relationship, called her names and finally demanded that she give him money for the suffering he had gone through because of her. They had broken-up months ago yet he wouldn’t stop with his harassment, making Andy miserable and antsy. Next, after collecting herself, she had hurried to her publisher just to be met with their sudden decision to break her contract. Her first book was supposed to come out the day before Christmas Day, she’d already received the first copies and could hardly wait to see it in the stores. Breaking the contract must have cost the publisher a fortune, considering that the printing had been done but they did it anyway. Losing the contract was painful enough, as she’d put not only long hours but her heart into that project, but what made it more hurtful was the person behind the whole scenario. Andy knew exactly who it was and she also knew that she couldn’t do anything about it. Defeated she was about to walk out the Elias-Clark Corporate Center when a lunatic redhead literally kidnapped her. Her attempts of stopping the insistent woman failed and she was dragged into a crowded office, full of nervous looking people. And then she saw her. Miranda Priestly. Their eyes met for an instant second, before hands grabbed her again and pushed her toward another room. She found herself in a bathroom with those hands trying to undress her, fix her hair and makeup. This time her resistance was more fruitful, and she pulled away before they could remove her shirt. She never took off her clothes in front of anyone. At least not for some time now. The hands returned for a second round then suddenly disappeared and the buzzing hive went completely silent. She did not quite understand what happened. Slowly she tiptoed to the slightly opened door and peeked out. The office was empty except the white haired woman standing at the window. Miranda Priestly was rubbing her temple, her rigid posture screamed stress, discomfort and something else. Something that Andy experienced herself lately too, loneliness. She didn’t know where the urge came from to reach out and comfort the older woman but it rushed through her like an electric surge. Before she could move an older man entered the office and what happened next made Andy acknowledge she was not the only one bullied that day. The man undoubtedly wanted to hurt the editor’s feelings and unfortunately he succeeded. Although the older woman verbally struck back, Andy caught the ghost of pain in her eyes caused by the nasty little man. Without thinking of the consequences Andy launched into action and did the most stupid thing one would think of in a situation like that.
She kissed Miranda Priestly.
On her way home she replayed that kiss in her mind over and over again, smiling like an idiot. For a short time she could forgot about her book, ex-boyfriend and all the other troubling issues in her life. She doubted they would ever meet again, yet repeat that kiss, still she felt happy. She could have hardly guessed that the Miranda Priestly incident was far from over. For her ultimate surprise they run into each other almost literally. The editor showed up at her café in the middle of the ice storm, half frozen and weary. Andy had already locked up for the night when she heard a faint knock at the door. Looking out the window she saw a small figure leaning against the door. The Christmas décor lights illuminated her face faintly and Andy’s heart started to beat faster. Miranda Priestly. She tore the door open and as the older woman tumbled inside, she knocked Andy off her feet and they both fell helplessly to the ground. Miranda of course recognized her instantly, the incredulous expression on her face was so adorable Andy couldn’t help herself she just had to tease the editor.
“Well. When I asked whether I would see you tonight and you agreed, I didn’t seriously think that you would show up.”
As soon as the words left her mouth she braced herself and waited for the editor’s response. Knowing the other woman’s reputation she expected a reserved comeback or a deadly strike. It didn’t happen. Instead the editor buried her face into the crick of Andy’s neck and started to cry.
A crying Miranda Priestly wasn’t exactly something Andy was prepared for. She held the older woman in a tight embrace, not really knowing what she was supposed to do. Stroking the editor’s back she whispered softly into her ear.
“Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. It’s going to be ok.”
Her words did not have the desired effect, because Miranda started to cry even more and pulled Andy closer into an almost painful embrace. Hot tears flowed down Andy’s neck but soon enough the icy wind that sneaked in through the still open door froze them into pearls and she started to shiver.
“All right. We have to move, it’s cold out here.”
She untangled herself from Miranda and stood, pulling the editor up with her. After pushing the door closed she wrapped an arm around Miranda and walked her to the back of the store, up the stairs to where her small apartment was situated. Once upstairs she led the crying woman into the bedroom and made her sit on the bed. Removing Miranda’s wet, cold clothes was not easy, because the editor made no effort to help, but at least she did not stop her either. Miranda obediently tolerated being undressed, down to her underwear, and wrapped in a soft, warm blanket. During the process her tears went dry and she just stared at Andy with an unreadable expression. Then she started to talk, and talk some more. She talked for hours. Years and years of pain, disappointments, and fears made their way out of Miranda’s heart and soul. Andy just sat there holding the broken woman’s hand and listened. She listened to the story of a hopeful young woman who had followed her dreams and became the Queen of Fashion. The long and hard journey full of tears and pain. Betrayals and downfalls. The cruel world of fashion. She listened to the story of several unsuccessful marriages, how Miranda was not capable of maintaining any of her personal relationships. How she did not trust anyone, because she’d learned not to. How lonely she really was behind all the glitter and how badly she missed someone she could love and cherish. She listened to a story of a woman who wanted nothing more than love and to be loved. It seemed that Miranda was not exactly talking to Andy. She was not expecting answers or confirmations. After hours of talking, finally there was nothing more to say and Miranda fell into an exhausted sleep.
Andy quietly watched her sleeping for several minutes. Her heart was bursting with emotions, and she felt the first familiar sign of a lurking panic attack. She needed to occupy herself before it hit, so she tiptoed out of the room and went straight to the kitchen. Baking. Baking always helped and she had an order to fulfill anyway. Hours later she was glazing a batch of cinnamon rolls when she heard some movement. Looking up she saw Miranda standing at the door, freshly showered, and wearing her bathrobe.
“Oh you are up. It’s still early though, I hope I didn’t wake you.”
She poured some coffee into a mug and handed it to Miranda who took it without a word.
“Searing hot. Just the way you like it.”
Smiling warmly at the older woman, Andy continued to glaze the cinnamon rolls and went on with her babbling.
“I charged your phone. I put it on the nightstand, I hope you found it. Although I won’t open the store today I still had to complete this order. I usually bake something for Christmas for the folks at the retirement home down the street. This year they wanted cinnamon rolls. So I made cinnamon rolls. They’re freshly out of the oven. I know it’s not typically something you would eat for breakfast, but would you like one?”
No response, just silence, so Andy finally looked up from her task and froze. The editor was staring at her with an expression that Andy read as somewhat hateful?
“What’s wrong?” she asked, carefully placing the pipe on the table. The sticky, sweet glaze oozed out of the bag but she couldn’t care less.
“How much do you want?” asked Miranda unemotionally, not bothering to taste the coffee, no matter how divine it smelled. Yes, the Ice Queen was definitely back.
Andy tilted her head uncertainly.
“Um...I’m running a café here yes but you don’t have to pay for the coffee or…” she motioned toward the rolls, “…for the pastries.”
“Don’t mock me. You know exactly what I’m talking about. How. Much. Do. You. Want.”
Getting only a confused head shake instead of answers Miranda took a deep breath and lowered her voice.
“How much do you want for keeping all that I told you last night to yourself? How much, or what do you want?”
It came out almost as a whisper but the coldness in her voice made Andy shiver involuntarily.
“I’m not sure how to answer to that.”
“Oh please. Just name your price. Everybody has one. What’s yours?”
Andy shook her head again disbelievingly.
“I don’t want anything from you, Miranda. And don’t worry I’m not going to sell you out.”
The brunette didn’t really know how to handle the situation, so she did what had helped her before to release the stress. She grabbed the piping bag and turned back to her pasties. Unfortunately, what had worked nicely before did not this time, she just couldn’t ignore the other woman’s sneer. Frustrated she tossed the bag aside, straightened, and looked pointedly at Miranda. The editor avoided eye contact, instead she looked fixedly into her mug.
“Look. I understand how you feel. I’m sorry that you can’t seem to trust anyone. I’m sorry that you feel the need to push me away just because I showed you compassion and understanding. I’m sorry that I can’t help you more…I’m sorry because apparently you need help and need someone to rely on.”
Andy became more and more agitated, and paced the cozy kitchen.
“I’m sorry that your daughters are away and that your ex-husband is an asshole. You had bad experiences. I get that. Trust issues. Anxiety. Noted. I’m sorry that you can’t see that I’m not the enemy here. I’m…” Andy inhaled deeply and let out an exaggerated sigh. “I’m just sorry, ok?”
“The level of pity has just increased to unknown heights. Is there anything concerning me you are not sorry about?” asked Miranda bitterly still not looking at the younger woman.
“Actually, yes. I’m not sorry for kissing you.” answered Andy coyly. “And,” she continued with a sheepish grin, “I would do it again if I had an opportunity.”
Miranda’s head snapped up and she narrowed her eyes at the brunette skeptically. No way, had she heard her right. After last night, the breakdown, the tears, the younger woman should know perfectly well how much of a failure Miranda really was. Adding to that she was standing in her kitchen without any makeup, feeling and possibly looking tired and old. No. This young vibrant woman must be out of her mind wanting to kiss her. Or - even worst – she was just making fun of her. She slammed the mug on the counter and hissed angrily.
“You can’t be serious.”
Andy shrugged and took a guarded step toward Miranda.
“I can assure you, Miranda, I’m quite serious. I just can’t get that kiss out of my mind.”
She stepped even closer, so close that their bodies almost touched. Slowly she lifted her hand to the editor’s face, pausing for a second to give the other woman time to move if she wanted. Miranda didn’t, so Andy gently caressed her face with featherlike fingertips, drawing never-ending lines on the soft skin. She deliberately explored every inch, not missing the faint wrinkles around the eyes, still red and puffy after hours of crying.
Miranda just stood there mesmerized. She didn’t really understand what was happening, why she was letting this young woman, a stranger, touch her, and why it felt so natural, so blissful.
Andy leaned in and rested her forehead against Miranda’s.
“I know what you are thinking. But you are wrong.” she whispered “Makeup or not, you are beautiful and sexy as hell. And I do want to kiss you again.”
Miranda shivered but still didn’t make any effort to move away. Where did her anger go? Why did everything that this young, incredible creature did or say, sound so right, so real?
“This is insane.” she breathed out “I don’t even know your name.”
Before Andy could have answered, a loud, unmistakably male voice hollered from outside.
“Honey. I’m home.”
Trigger warning: aggressive behaviour and cursing
“Honey. I’m home.”
Hearing the unexpected, slightly slurred words made both of them jump. Miranda jerked her head away from Andy’s touch and Andy pulled back her hands as if burnt. The brunette took a shaky deep breath and tentatively reached out but retreated when she saw that the older woman’s mask had slipped back into place. It was the Ice Queen starring back at her, not the vulnerable, sweet woman she almost kissed seconds ago.
“Um…It’s not what you think.” Andy said, as she nervously stepped back and glanced toward the door.
Miranda shook her head and lifted her hands in a defeated position. “Don’t. Please, just don’t.”
“Andy? Where are you princess?” the voice hollered again.
Andy shivered and looked at Miranda. She did not say anything for a long moment just eyed the editor pleadingly. Her face reflected sorrow and regret. Some other emotions flashed by, too quickly that Miranda couldn’t identify them, just yet. Was it guilt?
“I’m sorry. I have to deal with this.” Andy walked to the door then turned back, taking in the stiff posture of the editor.
“I have a back entrance. If you are not here when I’m back, I want you to know that meeting you was the best thing that happened to me in a long time.” She paused for a second then added “Or ever.”
Andy didn’t wait for a response. Probably since she knew she wouldn’t get any. With a sad smile on her face she disappeared along the dark corridor.
Miranda was fuming. She hurried upstairs and looked for her clothes. She found them neatly folded on the couch in the living room. She started to dress, her hands shaking so badly it took her twice the usual time to complete that simple task. Her solid defense that she had been building for years, had been weakened by the lovely brunette. Miranda was angry with herself that she let that happen. She had to get out of here, go home and start to rebuild her walls and shields. She just hoped that the younger woman would keep her word and wouldn’t sell her out. How did this happen? She made a huge mistake last night, when she broke down in front of stranger. She’d realized that, yet she’d almost repeated it again. She’d almost kissed this stranger. Well, at least she now knew her name. Andy. What a pedestrian name. Must be a shortened form of something. Amanda? Cassandra? Andrea perhaps? She looked around, making sure, that she’d collected all her belongings. She snatched her coat from the back of the chair with more force than intended. The heavy coat swirled and knocked over the glass on the coffee table. The contents of the glass, fortunately just water, slowly flowed towards a pile of books. Before the tiny stream reached its destination, Miranda picked up the books, saving them from being soaked. Placing them on the couch, her gaze caught in the top one.
Andrea Sachs: From scratch with confidence
From the hard cover of the apparent cookbook the brunette smiled back at her. She was leaning back against a kitchen counter, her posture relaxed, the smile genuine and kind. The photo was taken in the cozy kitchen downstairs, Miranda recognized the setting immediately. The editor run her fingers over the picture, as if caressing the sweet face of the younger woman.
Andrea. No, she wouldn’t call her Andy. This wonderful, magnificent young woman was not a plain Andy. Andrea. Who wanted to kiss her and who, obviously had a boyfriend. Only someone close to her would show up early in the morning, calling her honey. Right? She did not look happy though. Maybe their relationship was not that solid. She’d confessed that she liked Miranda and had kissed her after all. Someone in a working relationship wouldn’t do that. Would they? And she looked sad and scared when she heard the shout of that caveman. He must be a caveman, or Andrea wouldn’t be afraid of him.
“Oh my god” whispered Miranda as realization hit. “She was scared.” The emotion she saw on the young woman’s face wasn’t sorrow or guilt. It was fear. Whoever that man was, he clearly caused distress and made the younger woman jumpy and scared.
Her anger gave way to concern. Miranda grabbed her phone and hastened down the stairs toward the shop.
Andy was trying hard not to show nervousness. Entering the shop, it was hard to mask her emotions but somehow she managed to speak without any quiver in her voice.
“Nate. What are you doing here? How did you get in?”
The obviously drunk young man, sitting at a table, looked up from the box of cinnamon rolls he was chewing on. Andy winced at the sight of her once neatly packed pasties. All the boxes were torn open, smashed rolls covered the counter and the floor. The young man had done a good job, no pasty remained untouched.
“Andy baby” he dropped the half eaten cinnamon roll on the floor and staggered to his feet. Leaning against the counter he licked his fingers and leered at Andy.
“Ewwh. Disgusting. You’ve never been any good. Your food sucks. As do you.” He snickered and started to sing and dance. “You suck bitch. You always have and always will.”
His moves were more like drunken swaying rather than real dance moves. Andy just watched helplessly as the pasties she spent hours baking became a sticky mess of carpet under her ex-boyfriend’s feet.
It was still dark outside, the storm had gone, leaving behind the cold and a great amount of snow. The door was slightly ajar, there was no sign of forced entry, and she knew that Nate had no keys. Then she remembered. Last night she had not locked up. With all the things that happened, it just went forgotten and now she was paying for it. She suspected, that getting rid of her ex would not be easy. There was a time when she thought she loved him. Now she was certain that they’d never been in love. Nate saw her as a money bag and Andy happily financed his every, sometimes luxurious, need. In exchange she got the ghost image of belonging, and compared to what she had before, it was satisfying. Things changed when Andy decided to leave the corporate word and had entered the uncertain land of a chef. Long hours, shitty paychecks, still she felt she was in heaven. Nate on the other hand did not take the change well. He wanted the money Andy had provided before. Penniless Andy wasn’t attractive anymore. He also did not tolerate the fact that Andy quickly rose and got invitations to kitchens he was just dreaming about. He started to drink and party, and while Andy was slaving away, he cheated on her with many. The last straw had been when Andy was invited to the iconic cooking show, The Ironchef. He went ballistic and his destructive behavior unavoidably led to tragedy. Andy took a shaky breath and straightened. She was not willing to give in and be a victim again. She had suffered enough from the cruelty of her ex and she just did not want to go through all the pain again.
“Nate. You have no business here. Please leave.” Her voice quavered but she was holding up. She braced herself and repeated it again.
“Nate. Leave.” This time her voice was stronger and more confident, it echoed through the empty store.
Surprised by the force of the command Nate stopped his awkward dancing and lunged forward. He slammed his fists on the counter and shouted, saliva spewed from his mouth, dripping down his chin.
“You don’t tell me what to do bitch. You owe me. I can’t get a real job in this godforsaken city thanks to you and your friends. I’m broke. You owe me.”
“I don’t owe you anything, Nate. You did this to yourself. I had nothing to do with it.”
“You…you suck. Bitch. Oh wait. You don’t suck, little princess. Do you? Andy princess doesn’t suck. Andy princess doesn’t do anything in bed. She can’t please a real man. She’s a cold fish.”
Andy’s face turned red in embarrassment. She’d heard those words a million times before, but every occasion the unfair accusations hurt her. She just hoped, that Miranda was already gone and would not witness her humiliation.
“Nate. You used me. You hurt me. It was enough. I want you to leave me alone. Stop calling me. Stop coming here. Stop destroying my life. If you don’t leave I’ll call the police.”
Andy reached into her pocket and pulled out her cellphone. Before she could dial, Nate reached over the counter and violently grabbed her arm. The brunette did not see it coming, she couldn’t get away in time. She cried in pain and tried to free herself, but the man was just much stronger than her, despite his drunken state. Nate almost dragged her over the counter until a steely voice snapped at him and he froze.
“Let. Her. Go. Now.”