Patrol Officer Andy Sachs walked through the station, hauling her duty bag, craving her end of shift chamomile tea and a well deserved slumber.
She heaved an inner sigh, turning back to face her supervisor. “Sergeant Riley, hat's up?”
“I know you’re coming off a shift.” He lifted a cup of coffee to his lips. “You up for a little overtime?”
“Always, Sarge. You know me.” She shifted her weight. “What’s up?”
“You used to work at that fashion magazine, didn’t you?”
Andy’s grip on her the strap of her bag tightened. “Runway. Yeah.” She answered warily.
“Got a call in from that lady who runs it, Priestly, and the mayor wants to make sure she’s treated ‘properly,’ whatever that means.”
Andy resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Oh, trust me. I know what that means.” Andy chuckled. “She’s kind of a pain in the ass.”
Riley smiled. “Well, if she gets uppity, just remember: you carry a gun now.”
“Preach.” Andy laughed.
“Mom, why are you being so chill?” Caroline demanded.
“Because it’s just someone trying to scare me. But it’s not going to work because Priestlys are unstoppable and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.” Miranda insisted.
Her twins looked less than convinced as all three sat together on the couch in the sitting room, the television playing an infomercial for oxyclean in the background.
The doorbell rang and the twins stiffened.
Miranda got up and walked to the front door.
“Mom!” Cassidy scoffed.
“Darlings, it’s the police. Remember, we called them?” Miranda reached for the knob and the girls voiced their objections.
“Who is it?” Caroline demanded in the deepest voice she could manage. Miranda bit her lip on an amused smile.
“NYPD, responding to your call about a threatening message.”
“See?” Miranda motioned to the stairs. “Will you please go up to bed?”
Silently, they acquiesced. They trudged up the stairs to the next floor landing, where their bedrooms were. They paused just out of sight as their mother unchained and unbolted the front door.
A uniformed officer stepped into the foyer when Miranda stepped back and they felt a little bit better. “Can I stay in your room tonight?” Cassidy whispered.
“Yes, please.” Caroline agreed and the two teenagers retreated into Caroline’s bedroom.
Andy stepped inside. She felt a familiar sinking feeling as she took in the room. It was relatively unchanged, which was what was probably made her feel the most anxious. Was it possible that, in all the years that had passed, Miranda hadn’t changed one iota while Andy’s own life had taken her in new and unexpected directions.
Miranda was just as beautiful and imposing as ever and she began to introduce herself when she faltered. “I’m sorry… you look like…”
“It’s me, Miranda.” Andy nodded.
“This is… quite a departure.” Miranda looked the younger woman up and down.
“So, you called about a menacing message?” Andy cleared her throat.
Miranda started toward the sitting room. “I called because the girls were really bothered by it, but I’m sure it’s nothing.
“It was a week old when I finally played it. The landline and answering machine are just holdovers. I never use it so I don’t think to check it but Caroline saw the light blinking so she pressed play.” Miranda motioned to the machine in question.
“May I?” Andy asked.
“I don’t recall you being someone who was inclined to ask for permission.”
Andy bit back a sigh and pressed play on the machine. The first several seconds were heavy breathing and then a mechanically disguised voice rasped, “watch your back, bitch.”
Andy felt a little unnerved after hearing the message and looked over to her former boss who looked as cool as a cucumber - maybe even bored.
Andy began to make notes in her notepad. “Did you recognize anything about it?”
“Which do you mean: the heavy breaths or the digitally altered voice?”
Andy paused, trying to remind herself that that was just Miranda’s personality. “I’m going to write down that your answer was no.” She looked back up at Miranda. “Can you think of anyone who might hold a grudge against you?”
“Andrea, really.” Miranda rolled her eyes.
“Miranda, I think you need to take this seriously.” Andy insisted.
“This is someone’s dumb idea of a prank.” Miranda rolled her eyes. “No one has this number. Like I said, I don’t use it. Did you ever have this phone number? Or even have any way of gaining access to it?”
“Not that I recall, but I didn’t ever go looking for it.” Andy admitted.
“Some child at a sleepover probably just dialed a number at random and thought it would be funny to leave a stupid message.” Miranda insisted.
Andy put her hands on her hips.
“Do you feel that that makes you intimidating?” Miranda cocked her head.
Andy sighed, dropping her arms. “You’re really not going to file an official report?”
“I’m really not.” Miranda confirmed with a terse nod.
Andy pulled a business card out of one of the pockets on her belt. “If you change your mind, or need anything.” She held out the card. “Please don’t hesitate to call.”
Miranda took the card, holding it between her thumb and forefinger, her french tips glinting as she turned it. “I do have one question.”
“Why did you give up on writing?”
“It’s late, Miranda.” Andy gave a small shrug. “Have a good night.”
Miranda walked Andy to the foyer and Andy left wordlessly. Miranda turned the deadbolt and paused for a moment before ascending the stairs.
Putting her ear close to the door, she heard two hushed voices in Caroline’s room. She knocked gently, turning the knob.
The girls looked up from Caroline’s bed, looking at her expectantly.
“The officer was here and listened to the tape and she doesn’t think that it’s anything we should worry about.” Miranda stated. “And, this is amusing, the officer is one of my former assistants.”
“Which one?” Cassidy narrowed her eyes.
“Oh, great!” Caroline rolled her eyes. “The one who abandoned you in Paris after Stephen faxed you the divorce papers like the chickenshit he is.”
“Darling!” Miranda scoffed. “Language.”
“It’s the only word appropriate to describe that asshole.” Cassidy folded her arms across her chest.
“Hey, there’s another one!” Caroline laughed.
“We can’t trust Andrea to protect you, mom! You have to call back and get another officer down here.” Cassidy insisted.
Miranda smiled. “She’s a police officer, if she thought it were something to worry about she wouldn’t just pretend. Honestly, it wouldn’t look very good for her.”
The girls looked at her, unconvinced.
“How about we watch a movie in my room and have a little sleepover?”
Caroline and Cassidy broke out into a big smile. “Airplane?” They asked simultaneously.
“Fine.” Miranda feigned rolling her eyes. “You’ve seen that movie so many times you can recite it from memory, why is it still funny to you?”
“It just is!” Caroline chuckled.
“Alright, I’ll go downstairs and grab the dvd. Meet me upstairs.”
The girls ran up, wrapping their mother in a hug. “Love you.” They both murmured before scampering up the stairs to Miranda’s bedroom and her California King.
“Love you too!” Miranda called up as she started down to the first floor. She collected the dvd from the living room and paused to double check the lock on the front door as she passed.
“Andy!” Lily waved at her friend from the corner of the crowded cafe. Andy weaved her way through the throng. “You got here just in time, I’ve been defending your chair against these jackals!”
“Thanks.” Andy sank into the seat to the chagrin of a handful of hipsters. “Who let all these Mumford and Sons knockoffs out of Williamsburg anyway?”
“Right?” Lily grinned. “I thought all we had to battle in these parts would be the wolf pups of Wall Street.”
They shared a conspiratorial laugh before Lily pushed a mug of coffee closer to Andy. “I got this for you, I hope it didn’t get cold.”
“You didn’t have to do that. Thank you.” Andy wrapped her hands around it. “It’s perfect.”
“I swear to you, I had to get both coffees otherwise there would have been a revolt for your chair.” Lily insisted. “One guy offered me twenty dollars for it. I’m not kidding.”
“You should have taken it!” Andy laughed. “Twenty bucks is twenty bucks.”
“I couldn’t play you like that.” Lily leaned back in her chair. “I’m so glad you’re on days now. Seriously. So are you off for two days or three?”
“I got a three day.”
“Any big plans?” Lily wiggled her eyebrows. “Any romantic prospects?”
“Seriously, you’re more interested in my love life than I am.” Andy chuckled.
“What was even the point of coming out as bisexual if you’re not going to date anybody?” Lily complained.
“From entry into the academy to being a fully fledged officer was eighteen months. It was a very long process and I’m still catching up on Orange is the New Black. I haven’t seen Deadpool yet. And books, Lily, I miss books so much.”
“So join a women-loving-women book club or something!” Lily persisted. “Don’t just give up on love.”
“I’m not giving up on love, I promise.” Andy chuckled. “I’m just Netflix and chilling solo for now.”
“Oh, whatever.” Lily sighed, sipping her coffee. “Anything interesting happen that you can tell me about?”
“Actually, yes.” Andy nodded. “Without going into the specifics, I had a wicked blast from the past a couple days ago. I was called to Miranda’s.”
“The devil in Prada?” Lily raised her eyebrows. “Why? What happened?”
“That’s what I can’t tell you. Sorry.”
“Wow. Was it weird?”
“Kind of. I mean, for one, the woman does not age. It’s been ten years and she looks the same.”
Lily shook her head. “It’s the white hair. It’s an illusion. Black don’t crack, skinny white ladies do.”
Andy laughed. “No. I’m pretty sure she bathes in the blood of virgins.”
“Or drinks the essences of unsuspecting children like in Hocus Pocus.”
“Yeah, that’s probably it.” Andy agreed teasingly, sipping her coffee. “It was interesting though because she was still Miranda but she was… nicer? No, not nicer. Softer? No, that still sounds wrong. Familiar? That’s close. That’s almost it.”
“I don’t know. She was a little sarcastic but she wasn’t dismissive. And she asked me why I gave up on writing.”
Lily nodded. “Alright, gotta give the old girl some props for cutting the shit and ask you what the rest of us have wanted to ask you for years.”
“Seriously? I thought you guys supported my decision.”
“Of course we do, babe. We’re ride or die.” Lily insisted. “But that doesn’t mean we always understand your choices.”
“I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“I didn’t bring it up. You did.” Lily put up her hands.
“Anyway…” Andy cleared her throat. “Do you and Omar have any big plans this weekend?”
“Hey girl.” Karen looked up from stirring her coffee in her travel mug.
“Hey.” Andy smiled at her roommate. “Want to binge Orange is the New Black with me? I got three pints of Ben & Jerry’s.” She held up her plastic bag.
“Catch me next time. Fitzpatrick needs to pick his wife up from the hospital so I’m covering part of his shift.” She shook her head.
“Did you get any sleep?” Andy raised her eyebrows.
“I grabbed about five.” She shrugged. “I have to get dressed and head out. Enjoy Orange.”
“Thanks.” Andy stashed her ice cream in the freezer and went into her bedroom and laid down on her bed. When she sat up again, she realized that she’d fallen asleep. The twelve hour shift was still hard on her system and she was beginning to wonder if it would ever get easier.
Three hours had passed by in a flash. Karen was gone and Andy’s stomach was rumbling.
On her way to the refrigerator to scavenge for lunch, her phone chirped. The number was unfamiliar and she held it to her ear. “Officer Sachs.”
“I found your card… This is Andrea Sachs, right?”
“Yes, it is. How can I help you?”
“I don’t know if you remember me… Miranda Priestly’s daughter. Caroline?”
“Of course I do.” Andy confirmed - not adding that it was nearly impossible to forget the twin monsters who nearly got her fired by enticing her upstairs. “Is everything okay?”
“I just....” Caroline sighed heavily. “I just want to know why you told my mom that the message was nothing to worry about. Do you really not think it’s anything? Like, for real for real? You don’t have anything against my mother, right? Because, like, she’s better. You knew her at a really bad time and she’s not like she was when you knew her.”
“Caroline, I promise I don’t have anything against your mother.” Andy said truthfully. “While Runway isn’t my favorite job experience, your mother wrote me a recommendation that got me my first job as a journalist.
“And even if I did have negative feelings about her, I would never play with someone like that. I promise. That is both a promise as a public servant and also a personal promise to you and your sister.”
“Okay.” Caroline said with relief. “Thank you.”
“And please feel free to call me if anything else happens. You can call me directly, okay?”
Once Caroline had hung up the phone, Andy blew out a sigh. Loathe though she was to go back to Runway, she needed to speak with Miranda again.
Walking down the hallway, she stuck out like a sore thumb. She’d kept some of her savvy from her turn at Runway, but civil servants couldn’t generally afford Chanel. There were almost no familiar faces as she strode toward the lion’s den but her brazen, confident stride seemed to dissuade people from questioning her. She’d debated wearing her uniform, but she was off duty and, by and large, this was a personal call.
The latest unfortunate looked up at Andy quizzically. “Can you tell Miranda that Andrea Sachs is here to see her? She’ll know what it’s about.”
“You don’t have an appointment.” The girl said with disdain. “What is this in regards to?”
“It’s a personal matter.”
The girl still looked unconvinced. Andy took a step back and peered in through the glass doors. Miranda looked up from her desk and furrowed her brow. Andy gave a small wave and Miranda motioned for her to enter.
“Thank you for your help.” Andy said to the assistant as she walked into Miranda’s office.
“Andrea. I thought that we had settled our business the other night.” Miranda folded her arms. “Unless you’ve come to answer the question that I asked you?”
“I thought we’d concluded our business as well but it seems that there are certain parties who don’t consider the matter closed.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Miranda frowned.
“It means that you told the twins that I told you it wasn’t anything to worry about.” Andy said. “But they’re still worried. Caroline found my business card and she called me.”
Miranda’s expression softened and guilt might have flashed across her features before they hardened again.
“I gave Caroline my word that I’m taking your safety seriously but I need you to meet me halfway.” Andy insisted. “If you don’t want to file a report, what else can I do for you that would make your daughters feel safe?”
Miranda pursed her lips, considering this for a moment. “What if you came to the house and checked the entry points?”
Andy puts her foot in her mouth.
“Thank you for coming over.” Miranda said as she opened the door to the uniform clad Andy.
The twins stood in the foyer as Andy and all twelve pounds of her equipment entered the townhouse. They looked at her warily, still not convinced that this woman who had dutifully created a solar system diorama for them in third grade was going to keep them safe.
“Girls, you remember Andrea.” Miranda motioned to Andy. “Or should they call you Officer Sachs?”
“No, they’re welcome to call me Andy. Everyone else does. You’re the only one who ever calls me Andrea.”
“Yeah, she does that.” Caroline chuckled. “She’s not into nicknames.”
“She barely lets us call her ‘mom.’” Cassidy snickered.
Miranda smiled a little. “Are you girls packed?”
“Yes.” The chorused with a sigh.
“Your school books?” Miranda asked pointedly.
“We’re gonna be at dad’s one night, why do we have to take our books?” Cassidy whined.
“Humor me.” Miranda folded her arms and the girls knew that it was futile to argue.
“Just one night?” Andy questioned once the girls retreated up the stairs.
Miranda made a dismissive gesture. “So there's the front door, the back door that goes out to the patio, a small window to the basement, and the fire escape goes up to my office on the second floor. Those would be the only potential means of ingress.”
“Do you keep the living room window locked?” Andy asked.
“It doesn't open at all.” Miranda shook her head.
“Do you mind if I take a look at it?”
Miranda motioned for Andy to go through to the living room and followed behind her. Andy stepped up to the window, pulling the curtain aside.
Running her finger along the jamb, looking for any indication that the window had been opened or an attempt to open. She tried to push the window up but it didn't budge.
The twins bounded down the stairs, lingering in the foyer.
Andy was looking closely at the glass for any potential fingerprints when she saw a man walking down the sidewalk. He walked with a bounce in his step. He disappeared from her view as he ascended the steps.
“Dad’s here!” One of the twins called.
“Excuse me.” Miranda walked out to the entryway as Cassidy opened the door.
“Hey kiddo.” Ben put his hand on Cassidy’s shoulder. He stiffened when Miranda appeared in the doorway.
“Are you girls ready to go?” He asked tersely.
“Yup,” they chorused, grabbing their backpacks.
“Bye, mom.” They each kissed her cheeks.
“I'll see you on Monday when you get home from school, darlings.”
The girls slipped past their father. Ben held up his hands, “I'm going. What, do you want to pat me down?”
“You wish.” Miranda smirked.
They held each other’s gaze icily for a few more painfully silent moments before Ben turned and left, closing the door loudly behind him. Miranda step up and bolted the front door.
“Never marry a divorce lawyer, Andrea.” Miranda said from the doorway.
Andy jumped a little, turning to the older woman. “To be honest, I don’t have much occasion to meet any.”
“Fair enough. They do most of their devastation in the courtroom.” She folded her arms. “What’s the verdict on the living room window?”
“It seems completely secure.”
“Then I’ll show you to the patio.” Miranda started walking, delving deeper into the house. She walked through the dining room and turned the bolt on the backdoor. She swung it open and motioned for Andy to go through.
The patio was different from the rest of the house. It looked homey and inviting -- not at all like a spread in a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous magazine. Two walls of the patio were against the red brick of the townhouse, the other two were tall grey stone walls with climbing ivy. The wrought iron table was pushed to one side, flanked by wrought iron chairs with brightly covered cushions. There were weatherproof chess and scrabble boards set out. The other side of the patio had a wide array of potted plants: some of the pots looked like they were painted by the girls.
“What's on the other side of the stone wall?” Andy asked, walking up to it.
“The neighbor's patio.”
“Do you know them?”
“The Carmichaels.” Miranda nodded. “The girls take care of their cats when they travel. We have dinner from time to time.”
“You have dinner with them?”
“Yes, Andrea, it's called a friendship.” Miranda smirked, “it hasn't been that long, has it?”
“I'm just trying to establish your relation to them. Would they have your phone number?”
“They have my cell and the girls’ numbers.” Miranda said firmly. “I don't know why you won't believe me when I tell you that no one I know has the number to the landline.”
Andy sighed, “because someone called ands left a threatening message. You being you, I feel that the odds of it being a targeted message is higher than it being a wrong number.”
“Me being me?” Miranda raised her eyebrows.
Andy sighed, “you know what I mean.”
“Do you make a habit of insulting the public or am I a special case?” She smirked.
“You don't exactly go out of your way to be considerate.” Andy continued, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Miranda bristled. “Andrea, thank you for your time, but I think it's time for you to go.”
“Miranda, come on. Let me check the other points of entry.” Andy sighed.
Miranda pointed up, “fire escape, ten feet off the ground.” She pointed to the left of the door, “basement window, twelve by six inches. And you can see the front door on your way out.”
Andy stood her ground for a moment; Miranda pointed to the open backdoor. Andy decided that it was best to fight and run away and live to fight another day. She made her way silently through the house.
At the front door, Miranda spoke. “You think you have me all figured out. You think that because you spent nine months running my errands and keeping my schedule that you're an expert on my life.” She opened the door. “Well, you aren't.”
“Go.” Miranda said firmly. “I'm not going to ask you again.”
Andy stepped across the threshold, starting to tell Miranda that if she needed anything, she could call when Miranda closed the door firmly behind her.
Miranda let out a huff of frustration. She paced the foyer before deciding to blow off some steam. She climbed the stairs to the third floor and went into the small lounge space.
From its spot on the shelf she picked up her violin case and removed the instrument and picked up her bow. She brought the instrument up to her chin and closed her eyes.
Instinctively, she began Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, concentrating on and listening to every note she knew by heart. The tempo sped up and she grit her teeth, playing the rigorous tune with practiced ease.
When she reached the end of the piece, she lowered her violin. She reached up and swiped the back of her hand across her cheeks and wiped away tears.
She selected a book of sheet music and set it on her stand, flipping through classical pieces. It was going to be a long day.
Andy makes amends.
**I fixed the time stamp on the text message**
After spending the better part of an hour booking and processing a mugger she'd caught in the act, Andy was walking back to her patrol car. As she walked into the parking garage, her phone chirped.
Pulling it out of her vest, she saw that it was a text from Caroline.
Instead, she decided to speak from experience.
“Fuck.” Andy threw her backpack down as she entered her apartment. “Fuuck.”
Karen sat up from the couch. “Yikes… everything cool?”
“Sorry. I thought you were going out today. Did I wake you?” Andy asked sheepishly.
“I just wasn't feeling it, I might still go later. And no, I was just fucking around on instagram.” Karen got up. “Did something happen?”
Andy sighed. “I've been dealing with someone from my past - at work - and I've come to the conclusion that I have to go back and eat crow.”
Karen laughed. “Uh oh, what'd you do?”
“I just let my own opinions cloud my dealings with her.” Andy admitted. “I'm gonna change and head back to Manhattan.”
Karen leaned back against the couch. “I don't envy you.”
Miranda opened the front door to see a plain clothesed Andy standing on her stoop. She furrowed her brow but didn't speak.
Andy held up a Starbucks latte with I'm sorry scrawled on it in lieu of a name. “I come in peace.”
After a beat, Miranda opened the door wider and stepped to the side. As Andy entered, Miranda plucked the latte out of her hand.
“You're right.” Andy started. “I've made assumptions about you because I knew you in one context. And even that context is now ten years ago.”
Miranda sipped her latte.
“And I've undergone a lot of changes in the past decade and it was wrong of me to not consider that you're not the same person either.”
“Okay, you're forgiven.” Miranda said, “if, and only if, you tell me why you gave up on journalism.”
“You're not gonna let that go, are you?” Andy sighed. “Fine. I mean, it's not exactly like the industry is in good shape, right?”
“All the more reason we need good journalists, Andrea.”
“The field has become a joke. I wanted to be a journalist because I wanted to see justice done, I wanted to help people. Being a police officer is a very real and tangible way to make a difference in people's lives.”
Miranda considered this for a moment before nodding.
“Am I forgiven now?”
“Yes.” Miranda nodded again.
“Can I take a better look at the fire escape? I'm technically off duty, but I'd feel better if I finished. Also that way I wouldn't have to lie to Caroline if she asks me.”
After a moment, Miranda nodded. “Sure, come out to the patio.” Miranda led the way again. Andy stopped short, surprised to see another woman sitting at the wrought iron table.
“Oh… sorry…” Andy looked between Miranda and the other woman. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your evening.”
“Andrea, this is Erika; Erika, Andrea.” Miranda motioned from one woman to the other. “Andrea is a police officer and one of my former assistants.”
Erika stood up and held out her hand to Andy. She appeared to be roughly Miranda’s age and was similarly well put together. “Charmed.”
“Andrea is here to check the fire escape.” Miranda said as she took her seat next to Erika. Erika put her arm over the back of the chair.
Andy shook the surprise from her head and walked over to the fire escape. She peered up and then reached her arm up and still came up several feet short of reaching the metal ladder.
“Like I said, it’s ten feet off the ground. It lowers from the inside.” Miranda sipped her coffee.
“If there were two people, one person could boost the other and then from the top they could lower it.”
“Andrea, really.” Miranda shook her head. “Every structure is penetrable. Just because you can devise a way that a person could potentially enter - which is providing they have already gained access to one of the neighbor’s houses - doesn’t mean that it’s likely or even probable.”
“Why is she worried about access to your house?” Erika furrowed her brow.
“There was a threatening message on the answering machine - but it’s nothing.”
“That doesn’t sound like nothing.” Erika frowned, putting her hand on Miranda’s knee.
Miranda laid her hand over Erika’s. “I’m sure it was just a prank. But Andrea is checking the property because the girls were worried.”
“And this is the basement window?” Andy pointed to the small window.
“Yes. The only opening to the basement - unless you count the dryer exhaust.”
Andy crouched down, using a flashlight to shine it into the basement. “Someone small could probably get in through here.”
“So could a double jointed contortionist, but every possible thing does not have equal weight.” Miranda folded her arms defiantly.
“Alright.” Andy nodded. “In any case, there’s no disturbance in the dust around the basement window. Is the basement open or segmented into rooms?”
“Do you lock the door to the basement?”
“No. The laundry room is down there, it would be silly to lock it.”
“You dry clean, don't you?”
Miranda smiled indulgently. “Dry clean only garments, yes. For everything else, there’s a washer and dryer in the basement. I’m only about half the diva you seem to think I am.”
Erika chuckled. “Give the kid a break. She came here off duty to make sure you’re safe.”
“Alright. Considering I was the one to actually call you the other day and I did accept your apology latte, I’ll play nice. Do you have any further questions for me?”
“Do you keep the window to your office locked?” Andy asked, not missing a beat.
“If there isn’t a reason for you to keep it unlocked, it’s probably best that you start locking it.”
Miranda nodded. “Noted.”
“Does your assistant still have the key to the townhouse?”
Andy pulled out her phone. “May I have her name for the record?”
“Abigail something or other. You’ll have to call HR at Runway if you require more than that.”
“Alright.” Andy put her phone away. “How many sets of keys are out there and who has them?”
Miranda paused for a moment to think. “Well, my set of course. Caroline and Cassidy each have their own. My assistant has just the front door key. The Charmichaels have a set for emergencies. The housekeeper…”
“And my set.” Erika added.
“And Erika’s, of course.” Miranda smiled at the other woman. “So, a total of seven.”
“And does Stephen or the twins’ father have a set?”
“Good heavens, no.” Miranda laughed. “I had the locks changed from Paris the moment I received the divorce papers from Stephen. He’d managed to clear out most of his belongings before the locksmith arrived but I still have a couple of his obscenely expensive bottles of wine as trophies.”
“Okay.” Andy shoved her hands in her pockets. “I’ll let you get on with your evening. Nice to meet you, Erika.”
Andy's jealous. The girls are very concerned. Miranda is annoyed.
Andy hovered over the search results. She felt oddly like she was intruding.
“Whatcha doin’?” Karen asked, leaning over the couch.
“You’re the quietest person on the planet!” Andy cried, slamming the laptop shut.
“Oh my god.” Karen jumped back, startled. “I was just teasing you. I didn’t even see. You watching porn or something?”
Andy sighed. “No. Just torturing myself… it’s stupid.”
“You working tomorrow?”
“No. I’m just gonna veg.”
“No. Not again. You’re coming out with me tomorrow. Frankie and Mira are throwing a houseparty.” Karen insisted.
“And what if there’s drugs there?” Andy raised her eyebrows. “I don’t want to put myself in that situation.”
“Did you forget the part where Frankie used to be ATF? And Mira works at a drug rehabilitation clinic. Half of the people there are going to be law enforcement or Mira’s colleagues. Seriously, anybody who does anything worse than mix allergy meds with alcohol at that party is the dumbest dumb on the planet.” Karen took Andy by the shoulders. “You need this, girl. You need to get out of the house.”
“I don’t know…” Andy dithered.
“If not for yourself, then please do it for me.” Karen pleaded, “I can’t keep seeing you moping around the apartment.”
“You’ll come?” Karen grinned.
“Yes.” Andy sighed.
“And I’ll set you up with someone! Man or woman, dealer’s choice. But this is happening. Because you need to get laid in the worst way.”
“Why is everyone so much more concerned about if I’m getting laid than I am?” Andy huffed.
“Because we care about you, Sachs. You haven’t been out with anyone since you split up with Sara. And do you know how long ago that was?”
“Yes, I do. Please don’t say it out loud. I remember, okay?” Andy held up her hands defensively, “I’ve been very busy. And, by the way, I’m perfectly fine with being single. I don’t need a relationship to define myself.”
“No, you need a relationship so you have less free time to cyber stalk Miranda Priestly.”
“I knew you fucking saw it!”
Karen held up her hands. “Don’t shoot the messenger, dude.”
“Darling, you’re distracted.” Erika tsked, folding her arms.
Miranda lowered her violin and huffed. “I haven’t missed a single note in two decades.”
“Your form is spectacular and your bow work is an objet d’art unto itself.” Erika began, “but it’s your tempo; you’re playing too fast.”
Miranda pursed her lips.
“You’re more worried than you’re letting on about the threatening message, aren’t you?”
“Hardly.” Miranda scoffed. “Come to Runway and take a look at my box of hate mail. ‘Watch your back, bitch’ is practically a marriage proposal in comparison. People like to bluster. It makes them feel big to say something terrible to someone they feel has wronged them.”
“So, what is it that has you all flustered?”
“One big difference… the girls.” Miranda sighed. “The only people who see the correspondence at Runway are my assistants and the HR department. The girls don’t have occasion to see death threats made against their mother. But some person had the audacity to involve my children.
“And I keep kicking myself that Caroline was the one to play the message. If only I’d played it first and deleted it. But now the girls are worried. And I can’t exactly reassure them by telling them that this message that they’re very concerned about is, in reality, very tame. Because that opens an entirely different can of worms.”
“Your girls are young women now. They’ll come to realize that this was just a one-off idiot.” Erika assured her, putting her hand on Miranda’s shoulder.
Miranda put her hand over Erika’s. “They may have except that Caroline is apparently in regular contact with Andrea who is assuring her that she won’t let anything happen to me. A promise which is predicated on the idea that there is some danger from which I need to be protected.
“So they feel reassured but at the same time, convinced of impending doom.”
“And the girls’ continued concerns are now fueling Andrea’s concerns for my safety.” Miranda sighed. “It’s all very frustrating.”
“Well, since you want to play so fast, let’s do something challenging.” Erika produced a booklet of music from her case, stuffed to the brim with inserted pieces. She set the music on Miranda’s stand and sat back down, lifting her bow to her cello. “If you’re not physically and mentally exhausted by the time we’re done, you weren’t play right.”
“Darling, you always exhaust me.” Miranda smirked, raising the violin to her chin.
“Don’t tell mom I forgot my French textbook?” Cassidy asked as they walked down the steps of their school.
Caroline chuckled. “I won’t have to, your own guilty conscience will betray you. The beating of the hideous heart will be your downfall. Besides, you covered like a boss.”
“Mais oui, je parle le français très bien.” Cassidy grinned. She looked at her phone. “I don’t know what’s more strange: the fact that mom took the day off today or that she’s driving herself to pick us up.”
“The day off bit. Definitely.” Caroline looked up and down the street for the Lexus.
“There she is.” Cassidy pointed across the street where Miranda was waiting at the crosswalk with a tray of Starbucks coffees. Cassidy waved and Miranda smiled and waved back.
A bus passed between them and when it passed Caroline squinted her eyes. “Where is she?”
But her twin sister was already darting across the road, dodging a taxi, the driver of which laid on his horn angrily. She made it to the other side of the road where Miranda was on the ground.
“Oh shit!” Caroline pulled her phone out shakily, pulling up Andy’s contact.
“Mom!” Cassidy dropped down to the ground, cupping her mother’s face in her hands.
“Cassidy, I’m fine.” Miranda insisted, “except maybe for the heart attack you just gave me by running through four lanes of traffic.”
“You’re not fine, you’re bleeding.” Cassidy tilted Miranda’s head. Miranda rolled her eyes but allowed her daughter to look at the fresh cut on her chin. “What happened?”
“Someone ran directly into me and knocked me over.”
Pedestrian crossing came on and Caroline jogged across the street.
“Hello, darling child, thank you for waiting for the walk sign.” Miranda gently removed Cassidy’s hands. “Cassidy, my sweet, I would like to stand up now.”
Cassidy stood up and held out her hand. Miranda took it but mostly stood up without Cassidy’s assistance. Cassidy gathered up the spilled coffees and dropped the cups and tray into the trashcan.
“Shall we away to Starbucks? I really need that latte now.” Miranda bemoaned.
“I called Andy.” Caroline said, “she’s on her way.”
“Oh, perfect.” Miranda smiled sarcastically. “I suppose she’d be difficult to dissuade… Divert her course to the Starbucks at least.”
Miranda comes around.
Andy opened the door to the Starbucks, looking around until her eyes landed on the table of Priestly women. Miranda had cleaned off the cut in the bathroom; it looked much less severe since it had clotted.
Andy approached the table and was poised to speak when Miranda pushed a cup across the table and motioned to the seat.
“Thank you.” She accepted the coffee, sitting down. Catching sight of the cut, Andy furrowed her brow. “What happened?”
“Other than a complete overreaction?”
“Yes.” Andy nodded. “To your face.”
“Well, it was the darnedest thing, because ordinarily New Yorkers are so polite and selfless but today someone ran directly into me and knocked me down. I was expecting a hand up and an apology but the person must not have realized what they’d done, because -- ”
“Mooom.” Cassidy pursed her lips. “Didn’t you tell us not to backtalk police?”
“I’m an adult.” Miranda matched Cassidy’s lip purse and Andy was struck by the familial resemblance. “I’m allowed to backtalk the police.”
“She’s right. It’s not illegal to be rude to the police.” Andy smiled.
“Can you take this seriously, please?” Caroline asked warily.
Miranda was poised to be dismissive but caught sight of the look in Caroline’s eyes and softened. “My sweet.” Miranda cupped her cheek. “You’re primed to think that this was related to the message because you’re worried. If that hadn’t happened, you would see this for what it is: an accident.”
Caroline and Cassidy looked unconvinced.
“The worst thing about this is that it might be uncomfortable to play for a few days.”
“Play?” Andy asked.
“She plays the violin.” Caroline said offhandedly.
“A lot.” Cassidy added.
“I don’t remember you playing the violin.” Andy tilted her head.
“Why would you? I don’t play at the office.” Miranda smirked.
“Maybe you should, like, during run throughs. Fiddle while it all burns down.” Cassidy bit her lip on a grin.
Miranda smiled at Cassidy.
“So, I take it you’re not going to file a police report?” Andy asked.
“Correct.” Miranda nodded curtly. “But please feel free to stay and finish your mocha.”
“Thank you.” Andy sipped it. “Mochas are my regular drink.”
“I took a guess.” Miranda shrugged. “And I’m sorry that we’ve dragged you away on your day off.”
“Oh.” Andy shook her head. “I went to a houseparty earlier but I’d already left. I’m not really into parties anymore.”
“Ugh, is that what happens when you become an adult? Parties stop being fun?” Caroline raised an eyebrow.
“Was it just a boring party?” Cassidy asked.
“No, I’m just a boring homebody.” Andy smiled.
“Just like mom.” Caroline chuckled conspiratorially.
“Mom, can Andy come over for dinner?” Cassidy beamed. “Please.”
“Darling, you might start by asking Andrea if she has any plans and would like to come over.” Miranda sipped her coffee.
Cassidy turned to Andy. “Do you have any plans for dinner?”
“Whenever we get home from dad’s mom lets us pick the takeout for dinner. We’re going to get sushi.” Caroline explained.
“They always pick sushi.” Miranda smiled.
“Nuh-uh. Not always.” Caroline protested.
“Excuse me, one time they picked Mongolian barbecue.” Miranda patted Caroline’s hand.
“So, how ‘bout it?” Cassidy grinned, turning to Andy.
Andy looked to Miranda and Miranda nodded her assent. “Yes, I’d like that, thank you.”
Caroline pulled out her phone. “Mom, do you want your usual?”
“And Erika’s usual?” Caroline asked.
“Erika is on a flight to Bonn. She’s playing with the orchestra there this week and next.” Miranda explained. “Erika, the woman you met the other day, is a cellist.”
“Ah.” Andy nodded, as if she hadn’t already googled the dark haired woman.
“What kind of sushi do you like, Andy?” Caroline looked up expectantly.
“I’m all about spicy salmon.”
“Right on. Me too.” Cassidy grinned.
Miranda shook her head, “no, we can swing by on our way home.”
Cassidy and Caroline set about disseminating the food to the proper people and Miranda bright out plates, small bowls, and chopsticks.
“What can I do to help?” Andy asked.
Miranda waved her off. “Just sit.” She set a plate down in front of Andy and Caroline set a take out container on top of it.
Miranda asked the girls about school and the twins launched into story after story. When one would stop to chew, the other would pick up. Miranda and Andy both were both nearly done by the time they managed to get more than an “oh” or an “mmhmm” in edgewise.
“So. Andrea.” Miranda set down her chopsticks. “When did you make this transition?”
“When did you decide to become an officer.”
“You really don’t want to let that go, do you?”
Miranda chuckled a little. “This is the second question I’ve asked you came to listen to the message. It sounds like you feel defensive.”
“It does.” Cassidy agreed.
“I'm not getting de-” Andy stopped. “Do you hear that?”
“Deflecting!” Caroline teased.
“No,” Miranda shook her head, “I hear it too. What is that?”
The sound of a glass pane breaking could be clearly heard and both Andy and Miranda pushed back their chairs immediately. Andy ran into the living room to see a large spider crack in the window. She rushed back, past Miranda in the doorway, heading for the door.
“Andrea, stop!” Miranda yelled.
Andy skidded to a halt at the front door. “Miranda, you can’t seriously say that you’re not going to file a police report this time.”
“No, but I can tell you not to go running off into the night after someone who just tried to break into my house unarmed.” Miranda frowned.
A report gets filed.
Miranda opened the door for Karen, who stepped in in full uniform, hands on her hips.
“Thanks for coming, Karen.” Andy greeted her. “This is Miranda Priestly.”
Miranda extended her hand to shake Karen’s hand. Andy continued, “and Caroline and Cassidy Priestly.”
They unenthusiastically gave small waves from the corner of the foyer. They were right on top of each other as they held their vantage point.
“Mom, can we go upstairs?” Caroline asked.
“Of course, darlings.” Miranda nodded. She reached out to try to pat them reassuringly as they went by but they rushed up the stairs. Miranda watched them with concern until she heard the door close. She sighed and turned back to Karen.
Andy wasn’t sure what made her so bold, but she reached out and put a comforting hand on Miranda’s shoulder. Miranda turned to her and Andy’s heart sped up, expecting a rebuke but Miranda smiled wanly and laid her hand over Andy’s appreciatively for a moment.
“So, you were all eating in the dining room when you heard the window break?” Karen asked, drawing the other women’s attentions back.
“Actually, we heard another sound first.” Miranda recalled, furrowing her brow, trying to remember what it could have been.
Andy nodded, “that’s right. Miranda and I both heard it.”
“What sound?” Karen asked, poised to write in her notebook.
“I don’t know.” Miranda shook her head. She looked to Andy.
“Something… sort of squeaky?” Andy suggested.
“It wasn’t, say, someone trying the doorknob?” Karen suggested.
“No, that wasn’t the sound. Besides, I don’t think there would have been enough time between the sounds to get from the front door, down the steps and over to the window.”
“Okay, I think that’s all for now. I’ll get you a copy of the report for your insurance.”
“Thank you.” Miranda nodded. Karen shook her hand again before leaving.
“Call me if you need anything?” Andy asked and Miranda nodded. “And thank you again for dinner. Oh, and coffee.”
Miranda shrugged, “you’re welcome.”
Andy walked down the steps, Karen’s cruiser still parked in front. She rolled down the window. “Hey, hop in and I’ll drop you at the subway station.”
“It’s only three blocks.” Andy insisted.
“Yeah, but if you get on it here, you’ll have to transfer. I’ll take you down the grey line.”
“Alright.” Andy agreed, crossing around and Karen leaned over, pushing the door open.
The drive was silent for a few long minutes before Karen cleared her throat. “So... you were having dinner with Miranda Priestly because…”
“Because I wanted to incur your judgment, Karen.” Andy smirked, “please, please, bestow upon me your infinite wisdom.”
“Okay, you don’t have to be a dick about it.”
“Ditto.” Andy said pointedly.
“No, but seriously. What was that all about?” Karen insisted.
“Caroline called me because Miranda got knocked down on a street corner and I met them at a Starbucks and they invited me to dinner.”
“Just like that?”
“What do you mean ‘just like that?’” Andy frowned. “I didn’t call them. And I didn’t invite myself to dinner.”
“It just seems like a conflict of interest.” Karen pursed her lips.
“Well, it isn’t. You wanna know why? Because this is the first time that Miranda has opted to make a report which is why I called you. Professionally, I’m hands off this case.”
“No. Not really. You’ve said yourself that Miranda’s daughter keeps contacting you and she’s doing that because you’re a cop and you have been to the house in a professional capacity.” Karen snapped. Andy started to retort before Karen spoke again. “I just want you to tread carefully. I worry about you.”
“You don’t have to worry about me.” Andy sighed. “I have a cool head on my shoulders.”
“Yeah. You do.” Karen agreed as she pulled up in front of the subway station. “Usually.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kare.” Andy got out of the car. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Girls?” Miranda knocked on Caroline’s door. She turned the knob and the door opened about three inches before coming into contact with something solid. Miranda sighed.
Cassidy got up and pulled the dresser away from the door so that Miranda could enter.
She walked over and sat on the bed next to Caroline and then patted the bed for Cassidy to join them. They both huddled up to her.
“I know that you’re worried.” Miranda began, “and I’m sorry that I’ve contributed to it by not taking it seriously. I assure you that I’m taking it seriously now. I’ve filed an official report with Andrea’s friend, Officer Abrams. I’ve called the repair people and someone will be here first thing in the morning with the new window. And it will be the strongest glass they can make residential windows out of. And it’ll be tinted so that we can see out but no one will be able to see inside.”
Caroline put her arms around her. “We’re worried about you.”
“I know.” Miranda rubbed her back. “How about we take this party up to my room? It locks from the inside, if you’ll recall.”
“Okay.” The girls agreed.
“Brush your teeth and come up.” Miranda kissed both girls’ foreheads.
Miranda entered the police station and tried not to actively grimace. She walked past the “all visitors must check in with reception” sign to a plexiglass window with a circle cut out of it.
“I’m here because to see Officer Sachs.” Miranda said.
A buzzer sounded and the receptionist said, “through the door to the left and take the elevator to the third floor.”
Miranda looked at the door suspiciously for a moment before pushing the door open with her elbow. Her eyes fell on the somewhat unkempt man with his hand over the elevator door frame to hold it open. She mentally steeled herself and slipped inside.
“Three. Thank you.” Miranda stood as far to the other side of the carriage as she could manage. The doors opened on the second floor and the man exited. Miranda backed up as he passed.
On the third floor she found an entire bullpen of uniformed officers. “Excuse me.” She caught the attention of a pair of passing cops. “I’m looking for Andrea.”
“Who?” One of the men demanded.
“Officer Sachs?” Miranda said, louder.
“Thanks guys, I’ve got her.” Andy said, hurrying up and corralling her. “Thanks for that.” She murmured.
“Aaaahn-dray-aaaah.” One of the men laughed.
“Well, it is your name, isn’t it?” Miranda pursed her lips.
“No, not really.” Andy smirked.
“So, why am I here? What was so urgent and couldn’t be shared over the phone?” Miranda folded her arms.
“Come on, we’re going to look at the traffic camera outside the girls’ school from yesterday.” Andy opened the door for Miranda and she squeezed by, careful not to make contact with the door or door frame.
“Jake, this is Miranda. Can you show her what you showed me?”
“Sure.” The officer double clicked on the screen and the video of Miranda being run into by a hoodied man as she was waving back to Cassidy played soundlessly.
“You brought me down here to show me that you have no more visual information about this incident than I already relayed?” Miranda smirked.
Forging ahead instead of chiding the older woman. “Play the one from the other side of the block, Jake.”
Another video played, the same hoodied man walked into frame, paused, and then walked out of frame, toward Miranda on the other side of the block.
“Okay?” Miranda shrugged.
“Push in on him when he stops.”
“He doesn’t show his face, Andrea.”
“Hey, cool it on the name.” Andy looked sideways at Miranda.
Jake zoomed in until the picture began to distort and pressed play, pausing when the suspect stopped.
“There. He stops and looks at a picture.”
“He’s looking at his phone.” Miranda insists.
“No, he’s got a grip on his phone in his left hand.” Andy pointed to the left hand on the screen and then back to the right hand. “It’s blurry, but this is a picture of you.”
Miranda sighed and leaned closer to the screen. “I mean… it’s possible.”
“It’s a picture of a white haired woman and in the next beat he runs directly into you.” Andy explained. “So I posit that he was making sure that he knew what you looked like.”
“He stops and looks at a picture. It appears that the person in the picture has white hair.” Miranda put her hands on her hips.
“Miranda… you can’t possibly be this skeptical. The guy had to know where to find you. He showed up perfectly on time!”
“I can in fact be skeptical of this. He showed up at the twins’ school. It is not a far stretch to show up at my children’s school when it is letting out. Page Six had already posted a story online that I had taken the day off - it’s not an impossibility that someone could put together this information. It doesn’t have to be some grand conspiracy.”
Miranda’s phone began to ring.
Andy opened her mouth to object but Miranda continued. “Mind you, I’m not closed off to the opinion that you’re entirely correct. It’s true that someone knocked me down, someone tried to break my window, and someone left a threatening message on my answering machine. Logic dictates that the incidents are related. I just require a higher standard of proof than you’re currently providing me for me to accept that there’s some grander plan.”
“What if I put this image through enhancement software and can prove that he has a picture of you in his hand?”
“That would be a start.”
“Miranda.” Andy paused to gather her thoughts for a moment. “There is value in accumulated circumstantial evidence.”
“Of course.” Miranda nodded. “Accumulate a bit more.”
Her phone rang again. Miranda sighed. “One moment.” She turned around. “I’m sorry Alison, I’m - ”
After listening silently for a few moments, she replied, “thank you for letting me know. I’ll be right home.”
“Everything okay?” Andy furrowed her brow.
“It seems that the next bit of circumstantial evidence just fell into my lap.”
When Miranda and Andy pulled up to the townhouse, Alison Carmichael was waiting for them. “Alison, you didn’t have to come over.” Miranda said, getting out of the car. “I’m sorry that your home was broken into. Did they take anything?”
“No, nothing. I wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t gone out to the patio to see if I’d left my reading glasses out there.” Alison explained. “And when I saw the table pushed up against the side, I got up onto the table and saw that your table had been moved under the fire escape.”
“Thank you for calling me.”
“Of course.” Alison nodded. She gave Miranda a hug. “I’m going back to our place, Dan’s over there with another officer filing a report. If you have any other questions for me, I’ll be over there.”
“Miranda, may I have your keys?” Andy asked.
“Why?” Miranda furrowed her brow.
“So that I can go inside and clear the townhouse...” Andy smirked. “Why did you think I came back here?”
“Am I supposed to be a mind reader?” Miranda reached into her purse for her keys. “I’ll open the door.”
“Miranda, what if the intruder is still inside?” Andy scoffed. “You should stay outside. I feel like that’s common sense.”
“This is my house, Andrea.” Miranda marched up the front steps, she unlocked the door and started to push it open.
“Please, humor me and let me go in first.” Andy said softly. When Miranda didn’t move, Andy pushed open the door, drawing her weapon and stepping in. “Stay here in the foyer, please, until I make sure that there’s no one here.”
“Alright.” Miranda conceded.
When Andy was done clearing the townhouse, she found Miranda sitting in the chair in the foyer, scrolling through her phone.
“Okay, the house is clear.” Andy furrowed her brow. “Do you just not care about your own safety?”
“Of course I do.” Miranda pursed her lips. “But I think I can be concerned for my safety without compromising myself to do it. Whoever is doing this is a terrorist and I’m not going to play directly into his or her hand by tucking my tail between my legs and panicking.”
Andy nodded a little. “Well, there’s a bit of a mess on the patio and there’s a mess in your office where the intruder got in. I guess you didn’t lock the window?”
“It slipped my mind. You gave me that advice when I still thought that there was nothing to worry about.” Miranda admitted.
“Would you like to do a walk through and see if anything is missing?” Andy asked. “I’m going to go out to the car and get my computer to start filling out the incident report.”
“Okay.” Miranda agreed. She started up the stairs and then stopped and turned back. “Andrea?”
“Thank you for… sticking with all this… even when I didn’t think there was anything to worry about.”
“It’s my job.” Andy smiled.
“I think it’s more than that.” Miranda smiled back. “And I really appreciate it.”
Miranda continued up the stairs and entered her office. Andy realized that she was still smiling as she walked back out to her cruiser and she tried to return her expression to neutral but found it difficult.
“Hey Sachs.” Another officer approached.
“Hey Ochoa.” Andy cleared her throat, resuming her professional expression. “How is everything at the Carmichaels’?”
He nodded. “All wrapped up for now. I didn’t find any fingerprints and there was nothing missing or any sign of forced entry. The only reason you’d know is patio furniture. How about here?”
“I’m having her check for missing items now.” Andy explained.
“I’ll see you back at the station.”
Andy got into the passenger side of the cruiser and started to type up the report. Bringing the laptop with her, she reentered the townhouse. “Miranda?”
She started for the stairs and then heard a noise outside and walked out to the patio. Miranda looked up, wiping her eyes.
“Are you okay?” Andy asked gently.
Miranda held up pieces of a broken, crudely painted terra cotta pot. “The girls made me this in kindergarten.”
Andy squatted down next to her. “It’s in big pieces. It can probably be glued.”
“It just makes me realize that the real victims are Caroline and Cassidy. They’re scared and they don’t feel safe.” Miranda sighed. “And maybe they’re not safe here.”
Andy put a hand on Miranda’s back, rubbing in soothing circles.
The twins walked down the stairs of their school and instead of seeing their driver waiting for them, they saw their mother for the second day in a row.
They walked up to her with eyebrows raised and unvoiced questions in their expression.
“Darlings, I wanted to pick you up myself because I’ve decided that it would be best for you to stay with your dad for a while.”
They exchanged surprised looks. Caroline frowned. “That sounds serious. What happened?”
“Someone got into the townhouse.” Miranda admitted. “Nothing was taken and the perpetrator had already left by the time Andrea and I had gotten there but I don’t want to take any chances with your safety. Your father is going to meet us at the townhouse and you’ll have an opportunity to get together some things.”
“And what about you?” Cassidy interjected. “Are you not coming with us?”
Miranda let out a humorless chuckle. “Spend a night with your father? I’d rather take my chances with a masked intruder.”
“Please be serious.” Caroline pouted.
“I’m not letting anyone run me out of my own home.” Miranda said firmly. “Every door and window will be locked and Andrea is going to increase the patrols around the townhouse.”
Cassidy folded into Miranda’s arms. “If you’re going to be safe then why can’t we stay with you?”
Miranda wrapped an arm around Cassidy and held out her other one for Caroline. With both daughters in her arms, she kissed their temples. “This is only temporary. You’ll be back home before you know it.”
“Promise?” Cassidy burrowed her face against her mother.
“I promise, my loves. Have I ever not kept a promise?” Miranda asked, “other than the couple of times I have been stuck places due to weather?”
“No.” They both admitted.
Miranda walked down the stairs holding her violin. She knew that she should eat something but she missed the girls being around. They were with her 90% of the time; even though she spent time away from them on a semi-regular basis, it was harder not knowing when they’d be coming home.
She was considering ordering takeout when the doorbell rang. She walked up to it and before she could open it, she heard the person on the other side say “it’s Andy.”
Miranda opened the door. “I wasn’t expecting to see you this evening.” Miranda smiled.
“I was just grabbing myself some tacos for dinner and I thought I’d repay your kindness from yesterday.” Andy held up a bag. “And I’m only just now thinking to ask myself if you even eat tacos and I’m experiencing a crippling sense of self-doubt.”
Miranda laughed. “I don’t eat them often but I’m hardly opposed to the idea. And I’m appreciative of your thoughtfulness.”
Miranda stood back, gesturing for Andy to enter. “Go ahead into the dining room and I’ll grab plates.”
Andy was unpacking the takeout bag when Miranda returned with plates as well as a bottle of wine. “Would you like a glass? It’s a Zinfandel.”
“Yes, thank you.” Andy took one of the plates and set Miranda’s tacos and a side of cilantro lime rice on it. “I got you carne asada.”
“It smells delicious.” Miranda said as she popped the cork and selected two glasses from the bar.
I wanted to say that I'm so very grateful for all the comments and kudos. They've definitely helped keep me motivated to be consistently writing this fic and, even if I haven't responded directly, I've used your feedback to help guide me in making decisions. I'm really very appreciative to all of you who have taken your time to read, kudos, and comment. Thank you so much <3
Miranda set her fork down when she was finished with her meal. “Thank you again for bringing dinner, Andrea.”
Andy smiled. “I figured you might like some company since the girls are with their father and your girlfriend is out of town.”
Miranda tilted her head in confusion for a moment. “Erika? She’s not my girlfriend.” She poured herself another glass of wine. “Not in the sense you mean it. In the sense that she is a female friend, I suppose she’s my girlfriend.”
Miranda held up the wine bottle in question.
“Really? That Italian goddess? Well, then you should lock that down.” Andy held up her glass and Miranda refilled it.
Miranda laughed. “No one can lock Erika down. She belongs only to the cello.” Miranda paused for a moment, “And, well, she is a ‘friend with benefits’ on occasion.”
“I knew she was too touchy for ‘just a friend.’” Andy teased.
“She is quite touchy.” Miranda chuckled a little, “and she has a lot of it to spread around. And she does. She’s probably sharing her bed with a couple of beautiful, voluptuous Germans as we speak.”
“You don’t get jealous?”
Miranda shook her head. “Not at all. I love Erika; she’s been my closest friend for a decade. But we live our lives in very different ways. I’m a little older than she is and I have children and I want more permanence out of my relationships than she wants out of hers. I love our relationship the way it is - she comes over and plays with me, she keeps me sharp.”
“‘Plays with you.’” Andy teased.
Miranda blushed. “Andrea!” Miranda laughed. “She brings her cello and she play music with me.”
Andy laughed. “Sorry, I thought you were making a euphemism.” She sipped her wine. “When was your last relationship?”
“No, it’s my turn to ask a question.” Miranda objected. “When was your last relationship?”
“I don’t want to talk about it…” Andy hid her face in her glass. “It was… embarrassingly long ago.”
“Probably not as long as mine.” Miranda offered.
“Yeah, but you have a friend with benefits for the interim.”
Miranda started to refill her glass and the last of the wine trickled out. “Hold that thought. I’m going to get another bottle. Another red okay?”
Miranda returned with a Shiraz and poured both of them another glass. “Alright.” Miranda sipped her wine. “You were saying that it’s been awhile since you’ve had sex.”
Andy coughed on her wine. “I think I was actually trying not to say that.” She blushed.
“You’re young.” Miranda continued. “Do you not want a relationship right now?”
“I… I don’t not want a relationship. I guess I’m a little picky and I don’t really do meaningless sex.”
Miranda nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose I don’t either.”
“When was your last relationship?” Andy asked.
“I’ll gloss over the fact that you didn’t technically answer that question when I asked you…” Miranda said pointedly. “I was getting pretty serious with a woman last year but between my work and hers, it just wasn’t doable longterm.”
“Do you only date women?”
“I do.” Miranda smiled amusedly. “You might know that if you were still involved in print media.”
“Ignoring that.” Andy chuckled. “So, like, you must have come out in 2007 or 8? Probably around the same time I realized I was bi.”
“Oh, well before that.” Miranda shrugged. “I mean, I always knew but I did the husband thing for a bit -- probably a knee jerk reaction to some questions about my ‘lifestyle.’ People weren’t always as enlightened as they are now."
"If you were out well before 07/08, what about Stephen?"
“Stephen and I weren't really married.”
“You weren’t?” Andy furrowed her brow.
“Well, we were legally but it was it was a marriage in name only. My ex-husband was trying to sue for full custody and at the time I thought it prudent to appear straight.”
“You were very upset when Stephen filed for divorce.”
“Yes, because he was supposed to stay married to me for another year and I was worried that I was going to lose my children if been found the right homophobic judge. He was just bored with the arrangement and decided he didn't want to wait for the money.”
“That’s shitty.” Andy commiserated.
“Well, it all turned out fine in the end anyway.” Miranda said dismissively. “I’ve had full custody since 2007.”
“I should probably get going. Let you get on with your evening.” Andy announced. “Do you want me to help you clean up?”
“No. You’re a guest.” Miranda shook her head, standing with Andy.
They walked to the front door and lingered for a moment. “Thank you again for bringing dinner.”
“Thanks for not slamming the door in my face.” Andy teased with a smile.
“If you’d like to come back some time, I probably won’t slam the door in your face then either.” Miranda smiled.
Andy leaned in and pressed her lips against Miranda’s. When she pulled back, Miranda looked surprised.
“I’m sorry…” Andy blushed. “I thought…”
Miranda cupped Andy’s cheek and pulled her in for a second kiss. Andy tilted her head and Miranda deepened the kiss. Andy wrapped her arm around Miranda’s waist.
When they separated, Miranda whispered, “you don't have to go if you don't want to…”
“I'd like to stay.” Andy whispered back, kissing the other woman again.
Andy slipped out from under the covers. Miranda stretched out under the covers. “What time is it?” She murmured.
“It’s early.” Andy whispered, pulling on her pants. “I have to get home and get ready for work. You don’t have to get up just yet.”
Miranda picked up her phone from the side table. She rubbed her eyes tiredly and got up, grabbing her robe. “I actually should. I haven’t been in to Runway in two days. I’m way behind on ruining everyone’s day.”
Andy smiled. “Sounds about right.”
“I’m going to put on a pot of coffee. Do you have time?”
“Not really…” Andy admitted. “Rain check?”
“Absolutely.” Miranda nodded, “I’ll walk you down.”
Once in the foyer, Miranda wrapped her arms around Andy and pulled her close. Andy grinned, pulling her in for a kiss.
“Would you like to have dinner again sometime soon?” Miranda smiled. “We could even go out.”
“I’d love that.”
Andy leaned in for another kiss when there was a knock on the door. Miranda furrowed her brow, she stepped forward to open the door. Andy put a hand on her arm and called out. “Who is it?”
“I’m a messenger, ma’am.” The person on the other side of the door answered, “got a package for Miranda Priestly.”
Miranda stepped around Andy and unbolted the door, revealing a young man with a manilla envelope on the stoop.
He handed her the envelope. “You’ve been served.”
Andy opened the door to her apartment and grimaced when she saw Karen scowling from behind the kitchen counter.
“And where have you been?”
Andy dropped her bag. “Did you leave me any hot water?”
“You don’t have time to shower. Not if you’re planning on getting to the morning briefing.” Karen said as Andy passed her. “Were you at Miranda Priestly’s?”
“Why do you have such a bug up your ass about Miranda?” Andy demanded, turning and facing Karen.
“You said before that there was no conflict of interest because she hadn’t filed a report. And that’s why you called me in to take the report when the window was broken.”
“Exactly!” Andy scoffed.
“Yeah, except you filed the report after the break in.” Karen insisted. “File the reports or sleep with her. You can’t do both. If anything goes to trial there could be issues with your involvement… higher ups could think you’re the sort of person who would compromise their own cases with personal issues. I’m trying to look out for you here.”
“Fine.” Andy rubbed her eyes. “I’ll be hands off with Miranda.”
“Professionally or personally?” Karen smirked.
“Fuck you.” Andy smiled sarcastically. “Personally.”
“Really fucking mature.” Karen muttered as Andy slammed her bedroom door.
“Is the Dragon Lady in?” Nigel asked, striding up to Abigail’s first assistant desk.
“Mr. Kipling, we called your assistant to reschedule your meeting…” Abigail frowned. “She has been very explicit that she does not want to be disturbed.”
“So, that’s a yes then? She’s in.” Nigel smiled. “Thank you.”
He strode up to the doors and Abigail jumped up, intent to stop him, but was unwilling to incur her own share of the wrath by daring to follow him in. Nigel opened the doors and stepped inside, shutting them behind him.
Miranda’s desk was empty, stopping him momentarily.
“I’m pretty sure I told the blonde one to push off our meeting another day.” Miranda said from her couch.
He turned to her. He sighed and shrugged out of his coat. “Yes, ‘the blonde one’ did call my office.” He looked at his friend and tilted his head. “Miranda Priestly changes meetings all the time - usually to sooner. Miranda Priestly does not push off meetings for three days.”
She patted the spot next to her on her couch and he sat down. “So, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t want to have any meetings today, Nigel.” She pursed her lips.
“I did not bring my assistant or even my briefcase. I’m not here for our meeting.”
She sighed heavily. “I'm angry, Nigel.”
“That much I can see, darling.” He smiled affectionately. “What happened?”
“Ben is suing me.”
Nigel balked. “That man has a set of brass cajones. Can I be there when you rip him a new one?”
Miranda scoffed. “He wants custody of the girls.”
“Well, you're fine, right? That matter was pretty well settled because of what happened with his stepson, wasn't it?”
“I have been having… some issues with someone breaking into the townhouse and, well, this.” She gestured to the healing cut on her chin.
“Honey…” Nigel furrowed his brow.
“I'm fine.” Miranda waved off his concern. “But the girls are worried and Andrea is no help in that department. I really don't think there's going to be any further incidents.”
“Back up. When you say ‘Andrea,’ do you mean Andy? Our Andy?”
“That's a whole other story.” Miranda leaned back against the couch.
“I cleared my afternoon. Dish, girlfriend.” Nigel insisted.
“Hey Sachs? Can I see you in my office for a sec?”
“Sure.” Andy walked into Sergeant Riley’s office. “What's up, Sarge?”
“Close the door.”
Andy closed the door, heart starting to pound a little.
“Are you personally involved with Miranda Priestly?” Riley leaned back in his chair.
Andy sighed. “Karen told you.”
“She was right to. I've seen this before.” Riley intoned. “Get her to retract the report she filed with you. And if she wants to file a report about getting knocked down, she should file that with Karen or someone else.”
“So… am I not in trouble?”
“Well, you're not my favorite person right now but you're hardly the first cop you make a bad decision over a woman.”
Andy nodded. “Okay, I'll void the report.”
She walked out to sit at one of the desks and pulled out her cell phone.
“I’m sorry you’re going through this again, Miranda.” Lucas shook her hand as she entered his office.
“Thank you.” She took a seat at his conference table. “And thank you for squeezing me in.”
Lucas sat down. “So, it looks like his grounds is that your home isn’t safe and the complaint references a police report that you filed about the broken window and a break-in. I was only able to access one of those, though.”
“The break in report was voided apparently.” Miranda said, pulling her phone from her pocket and looking down at it.
Lucas frowned. “Oh. Why?”
“Okay, well, I’m going to make the argument that there’s no hard evidence that the broken window means that the townhouse is unsafe and we’ll see if they still plan on keeping the Friday court date.” Lucas nodded. “I kind of doubt that Ben wants to suffer an embarrassing defeat again.”
“I don’t know. Sometimes he seems like a glutton for embarrassment.” Miranda smiled conspiratorially.
“You’ll invoice me?” She asked as she stood up.
“I’ll invoice you if we end up going to court.” He waved her off.
Andy lugged her NYPD duffel bag and another bag, packed to the brim, across the threshold of Lily’s apartment.
“Thanks for letting me stay with you for a couple days.”
“Sure.” Lily took the duffel from her. “God, this is heavy.”
“It's my uniform and equipment.”
“You wear this much weight?” Lily blinked in surprise. “And you run in it?”
“You should feel the swat equipment. And as part of their training they have to jump into a pool and remove it all and not drown.”
“I think I'll stick to managing an art gallery.” Lily smirked. “So, do you want to tell me what happened with Karen?”
Andy sighed, “I just think we need a break for a few days.”
“You wanna have Doug over and have a college movie night remix?”
Andy grinned. “Yasss.”
Andy's phone rang and she glanced at it.
Her phone dinged.
“What's up?” Lily asked pointedly.
“I just feel like I'm failing at every turn and I can't stop the trainwreck…” Andy frowned.
Miranda sat in her office with a pile of work in front of her. She had sent her assistant home and was waiting for the Book herself. She didn't exactly have anyone to get home for and had eaten a late lunch.
“Okay.” Miranda rolled her eyes. “I guess that's the game we're playing.”
Her phone dinged but when she picked it up expectantly, it was Erika.
“Allo, allo.” Erika greeted.
“I see you're enjoying yourself.” Miranda smiled.
“That's Angela and Greta.” Erika grinned, “they're flutists.”
“I'm sure they're very talented. Did you play as a trio?” Miranda asked cheekily.
“One trio performance and then a duet with Greta the next day.” Erika enthused. “Are you at home? What time is it there?”
“It's about 7:30. I'm still at Runway. I decided to wait for the Book myself since I've had to catch up on some things.”
“The girls fending for themselves this evening?”
“They're at Ben's. I'll give you all the details when you get back. It's a long story.” Miranda sighed. “I'm just stressed out.”
“Oh, cara mia, get the Book and then go home and play Locatelli’s 12th. You'll be too focused to worry about anything else. You have a habit of slowing down in the middle while you're concentrating.”
“You're so unsympathetic.” Miranda teased.
“I don't duet with just anyone, you have to keep up.”
“I can't tell anymore if we're still talking about music or sexual innuendo.” Miranda laughed.
“Why can't it be both?” Erika asked playfully.
In the atrium, a kid from the printing department was looking between the assistants’ desks with concern. Miranda cleared her throat and beckoned him forward, holding her hand out.
He looked nervous as he approached, no doubt warned that making direct eye contact with Miranda would turn him to stone.
MIranda impatiently motioned for him to move faster, giving him a pointed look. He scurried up, setting the Book in her waiting hand and muttering sorry under his breath as he turned tail and ran back to the elevator.
“I have the Book. I’m gonna head out.” Miranda said into the phone. “Do you have a performance today?”
“Bonne chance, ma chère.”
“Oh, Tish, I love it when you speak French.” Erika teased.
Miranda had walked into the townhouse, locking and bolting the door before climbing the stairs. She stopped in her office to drop off the Book and continued up to her bedroom.
She stripped out of her Valentino blouse and Dolce and Gabbana slacks in favor of a pair of Ralph Lauren pyjamas.
Inside her studio, she perused the shelf of musical books and chose the sheet music of Locatelli’s violin pieces and set it on her stand. She walked up to the small table where her violin case was displayed in a shrine-like manner. She reached for the snaps but froze when she saw that they were open.
Her heart pounded as she used her sleeve to push open the case. She let out a pained whimper when she saw the pitiful state that her innocent stradivarius had been reduced to. She was about to reach out to stroke the poor instrument but thought better of it even as she fought back tears.
Miranda took a step back and sat down on the stool that Erika usually sat in to play.
“Are you fucking kidding me.” Miranda hissed through gritted teeth, cycling into the anger stage of grief.
“Someone is going to pay dearly for this.” She promised the broken and battered violin as she pulled out her phone.
Miranda and Andy talk.
Miranda stood in the doorway, watching Karen inspect the case. She brushed the violin with powder while Miranda held her tongue. Her fingers were still sticky with the remnants of ink from allowing Karen to take elimination prints from her.
“Only your prints on the actual violin.” Karen announced after a long silence. “But I got some unknown partials on the buckles.”
Miranda nodded mutely.
“The perpetrator was most likely wearing gloves but wasn’t able to unbuckle the case with them on.” Karen continued. “And then didn’t think about wiping them down once done damaging the violin.”
“Mm.” Miranda responded perfunctorily.
“So, I’ll get these run.” She slipped the lifted prints back into her bag. “I’ll be honest though, running prints isn’t as fast as it is on television and it’ll only get a hit if we already have the person’s prints in the system.”
“I know who did it.” Miranda said.
“Oh… who?” Karen furrowed her brow.
“It was my ex-husband, Ben Powell.” She put her hands on her hips. “Now, I’m sure that he wasn’t the person who…”
Miranda took a deep, slightly shaky breath. “Who cut the strings and who snapped the neck and bow of my violin… but Ben was certainly behind it.”
“You seem pretty sure about this.”
“I am very sure about this.” Miranda growled. “There’s an excess of a million dollars worth of easily pocketable pieces in my home, all of which are accounted for. I believe that the police say that this would rule out a robbery as a motive. If it were a deranged ex-employee or someone who felt wronged by me there are innumerable things in this house to destroy which were all passed by.
“No. This person bypassed expensive art, and sentimental objects; they climbed two flights of stairs and walked through my bedroom to access the room where I keep my prized possession. It was not a happy accident that the person who did this only destroyed this one thing.
“After my children, this violin is the most important thing in my life. It is a symbol of my independence, it is a tangible reminder of my mother, it is my stress therapist. There are very few people who understand its importance and the only one who hates me enough to do this is Ben Powell.”
Karen nodded. Once she realized that Miranda’s monologue was concluded, she cleared her throat. “Why does Ben Powell hate you?”
Miranda smirked. “Because he hates to lose and I always win.”
“Could you elaborate on that, please?” Karen asked, pen poised to record Miranda’s response.
“A couple of years ago, I sued for full custody of our daughters and I won. He has never gotten over that. More generally, our divorce in 2005 was extremely hostile.”
“Well, I’ll certainly look into Mr. Powell, but if you’re right that he had someone else commit the crimes for him, it could be very difficult if we don’t have the leverage of knowing who the actual perpetrator is.” Karen admitted.
Miranda nodded. She sighed heavily but understood the limitations.
Lily picked up the cushions of the couch, looking under and sighing.
“What are you doing to my bed?” Andy teased as she walked out of the bathroom with her toothbrush in her mouth.
“I can’t find my phone.” Lily huffed.
“Use mine, call it.” Andy nodded toward her iphone on the coffee table.
“Thanks.” Lily picked it up. “Passcode?”
“Jenny Jenny’s number.”
Lily furrowed her brow. “Want to give me that in English?”
“It’s 5-3-0-9…” Andy tilted her head. “Jenny, Jenny I got your number? 8-6-7-5-3-0-9...”
Lily laughed. “You’re weird.”
“You love me.” Andy chuckled as she disappeared back into the bathroom.
Lily unlocked the phone.
She set Andy’s phone down and retrieved her phone from behind the television where the only available plug in the living room was on the power strip.
“Find it?” Andy asked, coming out.
“Yeah. Thanks.” Lily smiled. “So, you all good for the night? If you need more blankets the trunk is full of them. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you know where everything is. Are you hitting the sheets?”
“Thank you again, seriously, Lil.” Andy picked up her phone. “And yeah, I’m barely going to be getting 5 hours as it is. I’m just going to set my alarm.”
“Cool, cool. If I don’t see you in the morning… which I won’t, because I’m not crazy enough to get up at 5 in the morning… have a good day.”
“I don’t know, maybe?”
“And did you send it?”
“I don’t know.” Lily repeated.
Andy chewed her lip nervously. “Okay.. sorry… thank you… goodnight.”
“Like I said, honey, you’re weird.” Lily chuckled, reaching for the lightswitch. “Sleep tight.”
Lily’s bedroom door closed and Andy laid back against the couch, suddenly too nervous to be sleepy. She waited in the dark to see if she was going to hear back from -
Her phone dinged.
Andy opened the text nervously.
Andy sat a table in Starbucks, fiddling with the lid of her mocha. Despite getting very little sleep, she was having trouble mustering the desire to drink it; the butterflies in her stomach had other ideas.
She looked up every time the bell above the door signalled a new patron until finally, Miranda entered. She had such poise and self-possession that Andy forgot to be nervous for a few seconds as she waved the older woman over to the table.
Andy was quickly reminded to be nervous by Miranda’s unamused scowl. Andy opened her mouth to speak, but Miranda cut her off.
“I don’t know if fucking me and then ghosting me is some version of revenge for when I was your boss or if you had too much to drink and woke up realizing that it was a big mistake and you’re too cowardly to tell me to my face. Frankly, I don’t care at this point.” Miranda folded her arms across her chest. “What I care about is how your actions are affecting my children and my ability to get them back. So, tell me why you voided the report.”
Andy smiled apologetically, wincing at Miranda’s words. “Firstly, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Secondly, I got you a latte.”
“You know there’s a limit to what you can fix with Starbucks, Andrea.” Miranda smirked, not touching the beverage.
“I know. I fucked up.” Andy sighed. “I voided the report because my Sergeant said that the report that I filed could make it hard to prosecute if the perp was caught.”
Andy furrowed her brow. “Because we slept together?”
“And how does your sergeant know that?” Miranda pursed her lips.
“Because Karen figured it out when I got home yesterday morning and she told him.” Andy sighed. “And I… I kind of panicked a little.”
“You panicked?” Miranda repeated flatly.
“Yeah. A little.” Andy chuckled sheepishly. “I… felt like a scolded child and I… I was embarrassed to tell you what happened.”
“So to combat being scolded like a child, you decided to act like a child by ignoring me all day?”
“Well, it sounds bad when you say it…”
Miranda stood up. “I think we’re done here.”
“Miranda, wait.” Andy jumped up. “I know Starbucks doesn’t fix it but I want to fix it. The reason I haven’t been in a relationship for so long is because I’m really bad at this. I’m bad at dealing with my emotions. Sometimes it feels like a blessing when someone breaks it off because it means I’m off the hook. But that’s not what this is. This feels bad because I can’t deny that I have feelings for you.”
Miranda stood still, listening to Andy. Andy couldn’t tell if it was getting through or Miranda was letting her dig her own grave.
“I want to do better. I will do better if you give me a chance.” Andy pleaded.
Miranda walked down the aisle. “Yes, I’m here now.” Miranda ghosted her fingertips over the smoothly lacquered violin. “It feels wrong to play another violin.”
“Your sweet, trusty violin is playing in musical heaven with Shostakovich and Mendelssohn. She would want you to keep playing.” Erika said on the other end of the line.
“And so would your mother.” She added gently.
“Yeah…” Miranda said softly. “She would.”
“Cicconi will take good care of you.” Erika insisted, “and if he doesn’t have the right violin for you, he can find it for you. He’s the best.”
“I think I see him coming.” Miranda gave a little wave to a man stepping out from the back room. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Just call me later.”
“I told Andrea that she could come by this evening and continue her so-called apology.” Miranda pursed her lips.
“If you ask me, I think you’re being a little hard on her. You’re having a rough go right now and she’s more than a little flustered.”
“Yes, well, ma chèrie, I did not ask you. So...” Miranda pursed her lips. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Miranda slipped her phone into her purse. “Mr. Cicconi?” She asked, extending her hand.
“Yes. Miranda Priestly?” He shook her hand. “Erika said you were in the market for a new violin.”
“I am.” Miranda nodded, “before we look at new violins, I was hoping that you could take a look at my old violin; you fix instruments as well, yes?”
“I do.” He nodded, “come back to the workroom and I’ll take a look at it.”
Miranda followed him into the back where the components of musical instruments hung on the walls and occupied tables. He sat at a workbench and put on his glasses. “Let’s see.”
Miranda set her case down and slid it in front of Cicconi; he flipped open the case and sucked in a breath. “What happened?”
“Not a what. A who.” Miranda sighed. “Can you fix it?”
“Sure.” He nodded thoughtfully, “the body was spared, which is good. I can affix a new neck and get you a new bow.”
“No.” Miranda set her hand reverently atop her fallen compatriot. “I need you to fix this violin with only this violin’s parts - bow included. I don’t need it to play; I need it to look close to how it looked.”
He furrowed his brow. “This might not be an easy task. Can I at least replace the strings?”
“Yes, that’s completely fine; they’re not the original strings.”
Andy walked up the stairs nervously, standing in front of Miranda’s front door. Her instincts were telling her to run. Confrontation is hard. Emotional honesty is hard. And, yeah, what if she doesn’t really know Miranda? They have to learn about each other from the ground up?
The only reason why she reached up and knocked was because she was genuinely afraid of fucking this up. Well, fucking it up more than she'd done already.
After a few moments, during which Andy thought her heart was going to pound out of her chest, Miranda opened the door.
She impatiently beckoned Andy inside.
“Make it quick. I have to meet with my lawyer and Ben's lawyer in the morning before work.”
“Okay, then.” Andy shifted nervously. “I’ll be brief. I… I just really wanted to say that I’m sorry for how I behaved. I was embarrassed about having been called out for mixing our professional and personal relationship. I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want you to think of me as someone who makes bad decisions.
“And I know that I already had a strike against me because I quit journalism. And I wasn’t ghosting you, I was trying to think of how to correctly explain.”
“You were looking for the right spin?” Miranda furrowed her brow.
“No… I just…”
“Andrea, you don’t have to spin anything for me. For heaven’s sake, you didn’t even do that when you worked for me.”
“I was never trying to impress you before!” Andy snapped. “I wanted to be good at my job as your assistant out of spite because you called me fat and frumpy! I didn’t care what you thought of me but I wanted you to eat crow. But I care now. And honestly I started to care before Paris and I felt for you when you were upset and Irv was trying to screw you over. I was… mad because I thought Nigel was your friend.”
Miranda crossed her arms. “He is my friend.”
“I know. I overreacted. I know now that you made it up to him and you even made it up to Emily.”
“I reward employees for good work, Andrea, and I help and support and love my friends.” Miranda pursed her lips. “And in between caring for me and feeling for me, you still think I’m a monster.”
“I don’t.” Andy objected. “I’m eating crow. I’m here telling you that I was wrong. I made assumptions about you because I wanted to distance myself from how I felt for you. I made up my own narrative because if I could put you in a box then I didn’t have to examine my feelings.”
Andy sighed; Miranda waited.
“I spent a lot of time wanting to not like you.” Andy admitted. “And now I’m terrified that you won’t like me back.”
Miranda cleared her throat. “Are you done?”
“I guess I am.” Andy nodded. “Thank you for taking the time to listen.”
Andy walked to the front door, sparing one glance back at Miranda before slipping out. She shoved her hands deep into her pockets and started toward the nearest subway station.
“Andrea, wait.” Miranda called from the stoop.
Andy stopped and turned back to the older woman. Miranda walked up to her. “I like you too.” She confessed. “But every time we get close you leave me without saying goodbye.”
“I… yesterday was so short… does it really count?” Andy asked sheepishly.
“I just want you to be honest with me. I don’t want any spin. I want the Andrea who’s not trying to impress me back.” Miranda smiled. “That’s the one I’ve always liked.”
“If at any point, it’s not working for you, I need you to promise me that you’ll tell me instead of running away.”
“Does that mean we’re an us?”
“On a trial basis. And upon acceptance of my terms.”
“I won’t ghost you ever again. I promise.” Andy said firmly.
“Okay, then.” Miranda wrapped an arm around Andy’s waist and pulled her close. Andy closed the remaining distance and captured Miranda’s lips.
Chapter 13: chapter thirteen
Miranda sat at her desk but, as she leaned on her elbow, staring blankly at the articles in front of her, she was finding it very difficult to concentrate on anything.
She was brought out of her haze by the dinging of her cell phone.
Ben had been the perfect person for her at the time. He was ruthless and unsympathetic and he brought those things out in her. Ironically, his teaching her to never apologize for herself and to do whatever she needed to do was what ultimately ended their marriage and freed her from the lies she told herself.
She may never have begun her rise through the ranks of Runway had it not been for Ben’s influence.
“Hello, Bobbsey.” Miranda smiled. “I know you’re supposed to be in class but I’m so glad to hear from you.”
“We’re both here.” Caroline said, “you’re on speaker. Cassidy has to tell you something.”
“What’s wrong?” Miranda asked, her heart rate speeding up.
"I..." Cassidy began nervously. "I lost some keys..."
"Darling." Miranda frowned. "We've been concerned about intruders and you didn't think it prudent to tell me?"
"It wasn't the house key though!" Cassidy insisted. "It was the key to the Carmichaels' place. And I didn't know that their house had been broken into until this morning!"
"That's right." Miranda sighed. "I did attempt to spare you the details."
Miranda stopped and tilted her head to the side. "And I did... How did you come about this knowledge this morning?"
Andy stood up from the desk when she saw Miranda enter the bullpen.
“Hey…” Andy smiled. “This is a surprise.”
“I actually came to see Officer Abrams. I called her the other night after my violin was broken.” Miranda explained.
Sergeant Riley stepped out of his office. “Can I help you? We usually don’t allow civilians in here.”
“Miranda Priestly.” Miranda held out her hand. “Are you Andrea’s boss?”
“Again with the name.” Andy muttered under her breath.
Riley chuckled as he shook her hand. “If you’re referring to Officer Sachs, here, then yes.”
“I filed a report with another of your officers, Officer Abrams, and I have something to add to it.” Miranda explained.
Riley nodded, “Abrams is on her way back to the station. Why don’t you and Ahn-dray-ah have a coffee in the breakroom while you wait?”
Andy nodded, smiling against the embarrassment. “Thanks, sarge.”
Riley grinned into his mug.
Inside the breakroom, Andy picked up the carafe. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Um. No, thank you.” Miranda shook her head curtly.
“Figured I'd ask.” Andy smiled, pouring a cup for herself. “Do you have any plans this evening?”
“Not specifically, no. I'm still playing catchup at Runway and I'm breaking in my new violin.” Miranda recounted. “But I still have to eat, if you'd like to come over for dinner.”
Andy smiled broadly. “I would like that.”
“Shall we say 7:30?”
“Perfect.” Andy nodded. “How are the girls?”
“Creatively stifled.” Miranda lamented. “Hopefully they’ll be home soon.”
“Ms. Priestly.” Karen greeted, walking into the break room. “Does the name Daniel Milano mean anything to you?”
“I’m notoriously bad with names.” Miranda admitted. Andy nodded knowingly.
Andy stood up, “I’ll leave the two of you to it. I’ll see you tonight, Miranda.”
Karen sat down, opening a file folder. “Your ex-husband has represented him in court multiple times. He’s a petty criminal and his rap sheet is mostly B and E’s.”
“Clearly work that Ben has done pro bono. His firm is on the list that provides legal aid to people who can’t afford a lawyer.”
“True. And that is most likely how they began their working relationship.” Karen agreed. “But Ben has represented him three times now. Even if his name came up again to do pro bono work, the odds against him representing the same person three times are astronomical.”
“So, what are you saying?”
“Ben might represent Mr. Milano in exchange for other services.” Karen explained. “For instance, breaking into your house.”
“Cassidy admitted that she misplaced her keys to the Carmichaels house. I suspected that Ben took them.” Miranda agreed. “He must have given them to this person.”
Karen nodded. “The fingerprint results haven’t come back from the lab but he’s out on parole so we can get him down here for a chat and bluff him.”
“Sounds good.” Miranda stood up. “The custody hearing is on Friday, so, ideally, this would be resolved by then.”
“I'll do my best.” Karen nodded. “Just so you know, it was Andy's idea to look into your ex’s clients. She didn't want me to say anything, but I thought you should know.”
“Thank you.” Miranda smiled.
On her way back out, she paused at the desk where Andy was seated. “See you tonight, Ahn-” she began but caught Andy's eye. “Andy.”
Andy smiled widely. “See you tonight.”
Miranda looked up at Andy from her plate. “I was just thinking about how there's no good way that this can end.”
“Us?” Andy's eyebrows went up.
“No, no.” Miranda smiled. “Just that if Ben is behind the recent events, which I believe he is, then that's going to hurt the girls. I mean, what's happened is a crime, if you prove it, is he going to jail?”
Andy thought about it for a moment. “Well, I suppose he might not if you don't press charges. But if you don't you might not be able to present it at the custody hearing. You could opt for restorative justice.”
“What's that?” Miranda asked, sipping her wine.
“It's a program developed to bring perpetrators and victims together to reach a mutually agreeable solution. The idea is that it is rehabilitative and not punitive.”
Miranda nodded thoughtfully. “I think that sounds like a great idea. I'm not sure that Ben would be amenable to agreeing with me about something. We don't have biannual custody disputes because we're good at coming to mutually beneficial decisions.”
“Is it too personal too ask why Ben had such limited custody?” Andy asked gently.
“Ben married a woman who already had two children and there were allegations that he hit his teenaged stepson. Allison listed it as her grounds for divorce and after it was finalized, she moved to Washington.
“The girls told me that he'd never hit them but that they believed Alex. And I was worried about them in that environment.”
Andy nodded, “and is that why he hates you so much?”
“Oh no, that goes way back.” Miranda shook her head. “I'm going to start by saying that I am not proud of my actions… however, I'm not going to deny that our marriage did end because of my infidelity.”
“Oh.” Andy leaned back in her chair. “I guess I wouldn’t have pegged you for a cheater.”
“I’m not.” Miranda bristled. “It was a very unique situation.”
“Isn’t it always?” Andy teased.
“Excuse me.” Miranda scoffed, “I’m trying to tell you my coming out story, here.”
“Besides, I know you’ve not always been a saint.”
Andy looked scandalized.
“Oh, please. The newspaperman with the unfortunate eyebrows.”
“Oh god,” Andy laughed. “You know about that.”
“Nigel is my best friend, so, yes, I’ve heard all the gossip.”
“Well… I was technically on a break from Nate at the time—okay, I see your point. Go on. Please tell me your story.”
“I had married Ben when I was in my thirties. It seemed that it was getting kind of weird that I wasn’t married, people were constantly asking me about it. Ben was… I don’t know how to precisely describe Ben. We’d been dating casually for a while. I liked him well enough, but, for reasons that didn’t become clear to me until later, I wasn’t ever really into the relationship. One tends to imagine that their feelings mirror others’ feelings and I didn’t know that one was supposed to be very in love and attracted to someone to whom they were getting married.”
Miranda took another sip of her wine. “So we muddled along. We were both getting big promotions at our respective jobs and I had the twins and they naturally took up a lot of time. One year, shortly after the girls were born, for the first time Ben’s firm’s Christmas event was on a different day than the Runway one, so I was able to attend. And I met the named partners for the first time.”
“Oh no.” Andy leaned her elbows on the table.
“One of whom was a very striking woman.”
“Oohh no.” Andy gaped.
“Well, we got along very well. Ben was actually very pleased at how well I was getting along with Shirley because he thought it might be helpful to his career.”
“Oh no.” Andy winced.
“I started getting coffee with her and then we also started to do dinners. For my birthday, she took me to the Philharmonic to see a performance of Mendelssohn. Sometime before intermission we had begun to hold hands. And then before the big finish… we kissed. And… she was the first woman that I’d ever kissed and it was incredible and all of a sudden I realized that it was indeed possible to feel things.”
“And you didn’t suspect before that that you had feelings for women?”
Miranda shrugged. “There wasn’t a lot of portrayal of lesbians as very feminine women in those days and even fewer when I was young in my formative years. And my mother had always framed sex as a woman’s obligation to keep peace in a relationship and not as something that one did because they liked it. We didn’t have sex ed in school. We had home ec. I knew plenty of gay men obviously but they fit the stereotypes and I didn’t.”
“Okay, fair enough.” Andy nodded, “so, what happened after you kissed?”
“Nothing at first.” Miranda admitted. “I wasn’t ready to talk about it until I had processed it a bit. I thanked her for taking me to the performance and then I rushed home. I was sure that Ben would be able to tell that I’d kissed her and I was so nervous to walk into the apartment. But he was working on preparing a case and I went into the twins’ room and sat with them for a very long time. I thought about how I would talk to one of them if they had come to tell me that they’d just kissed a woman and that they were very confused about what it meant. And I realized that it wouldn’t matter to me at all. I would just want them to love and be loved.”
“Oh, Miranda! That’s so sweet.” Andy leaned on her hand.
“It was still more difficult and more complicated to extend that same attitude to myself. Shirley had given me a bit of space but after a week she reached out and tried to ask me if we could talk about what happened. I waited another couple of days and I suggested that we go up to the Hamptons, Ben and I had a summer home up there. I thought that I could be more open and candid the further I was away from Ben physically. We drove up separately and when I arrived, she was already waiting on the porch and she looked so magnificent and stunning that just seeing her there and knowing that she had driven all that way to see me without any protest or lamentation… I walked right up to her and kissed her. I hadn’t known that that was what was going to happen. I had spent the entire drive trying to figure out how to let her down easily because I was a married woman and it was untoward and a million other reasons. I really hadn’t intended to have an affair. We spent the evening together and separated with kisses and promises and then returned to the city. I wanted to tell Ben as soon as I got home – not that I’d slept with Shirley, just that I wanted a divorce but when I got there he was still working on a big case and I rationalized with myself that I didn’t want to tell him just then and distract him. That wouldn’t be fair.
“So, that case continued on… and so did Shirley and I. Whenever I was with her, I felt so free and warm and loving and I reveled in every moment. Then when I would get home I would feel weighted down with guilt and finally, I couldn’t do it anymore in good conscience. So one night I… I told him.”
“Wow.” Andy blinked. “Ballsy. So, he didn’t find out or walk in on your or anything. You told him.”
“I did. And he was… so angry. I hadn’t even gotten to the point where I told him it was with a woman.”
“He was so angry with me that he grabbed his toothbrush and went to the office.”
“Oh no. Tell me he didn’t run into Shirley.”
Miranda smiled. “A named partner at the office at eleven o’clock at night on a Saturday? Please. The only people there at that time are first year associates. But anyway. After a few days of him staying away from the apartment and from me, he came back and told me that he’d done a lot of thinking and that he still loved me and the girls and we could make it work.”
“Oh no. How is it that this just keeps getting worse?”
“So, that was when I told him that I didn’t think there was anything to work out because I was having my affair with a woman and I had realized certain fundamental things about myself. And he started to say something like ‘but the only woman you’re always spending time with is Shirley.’ And his whole face fell. That moment is permanently etched into my mind.”
“So, he filed for divorce pretty much instantly after that. I didn’t contest it. We split the assets and the judge gave me full custody of the girls. This was all insult to injury. He didn’t bring up my homosexuality at that trial because he thought that my infidelity would be cause enough to give him full custody. Since then, the vindictive streak in him had conspired to try to use it against me by finding the right judge. So I made my arrangement with Stephen to counteract that. And honestly, I was happy to have shared custody with him. He hadn’t wronged me during our marriage and he was a devoted and loving father. He, of course, continued to petition for full custody but the judge landed on shared. And then after the incidents with his stepson, his custody became very limited.”
“But what happened with Shirley?”
“We were together for almost a year after my divorce. Three months into it, she actually moved to Philadelphia to establish another branch of their firm, partially because she would have total control and get partially away from the boys’ club and partially because things were awkward with Ben at the office. We did the long distance thing for a while. Our split was amicable. And she’s really the first person that I really loved.”
“Well, I’d like to say I’m sorry that you two broke up.” Andy teased, threading her fingers through Miranda’s.
Miranda smiled. “So anyway, feel free to regale me with your coming out story.”
“Mine isn’t all that interesting.” Andy shrugged. “I’m bi so I hadn’t suspected for a while because I was always sexually attracted to my boyfriends and did have actual feelings for them. It wasn’t long after I left Runway actually. I met an artist friend of my friend Lily and apparently she asked Lily if might go out with her and Lily told her to go ahead and ask because the worst I could do was say no.”
“So you went out with her?”
“Yeah. She was a lot of fun. We weren’t all that compatible but she did become my first female paramour.”
Miranda raised her glass. “Here’s to looking for love in several wrong places and maybe, hopefully a few of the right ones.”
“I’ll drink to that.”
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Miranda stirred and stretched as Andy was quietly pulling her pants on.
“Sneaking out again?” Miranda teased.
“I should’ve brought my uniform with me… but I didn’t want to be presumptuous.”
“Well, if I’d brought my uniform it implies that I was expecting that we’d sleep together. I don’t want you to think that’s my only interest.”
“I don’t think that.” Miranda shook her head. “If you just wanted sex, there are much lower maintenance people to pursue.”
“That’s true.” Andy teased.
“And, you know, even if we don’t sleep together every time you’re over, you’re still invited to stay over even if all we do is sleep together. So, you can bring your uniform with you. I’ll even clear out a drawer for you.”
Andy cupped Miranda’s cheek, capturing her lips and Miranda mmed softly, deepening the kiss. Andy pulled back with a sigh. “I wish I didn’t have to go…”
“I’m sorry I kept you up so late.”
Andy balked. “Are you kidding? I’m not.” Andy leaned in to capture Miranda’s lips again. “Anytime you want to keep me up having your way with me, you have my tacit permission.”
“Cheeky.” Miranda teased, “have a good day at work. Give out lots of parking tickets.”
“Oh, I’m cheeky.” Andy laughed.
Miranda pulled the blanket tighter around herself. “Is it incredibly rude of me to not walk you out?”
“I don’t know, is it rude of me to wake you up at 3:45?”
“A M?” Miranda demanded.
“I have to be at work at 6.” Andy explained. “I have to go to Brooklyn, change into my uniform and then get back to Manhattan.”
“Darling, I’ve already stopped listening. This is not awake time for me.” Miranda teased.
Andy leaned down and kissed Miranda’s temple with an indulgent smile. “Get some more sleep and I’ll talk to you later.”
“Hey,” Cassidy leaned against the lockers next to Caroline’s open one.
“What's up…?” Caroline asked skeptically.
“I forgot my project for physics and I need to run home really quick.”
“Seriously?” Caroline raised her eyebrows.
“If I give you my cardigan,” she started as she removed the sweater. “Can you pop into study hall for me and hand over a library pass?”
“You have this magical hall pass?” Caroline asked, accepting the sweater.
“Mais oui.” She held out a hall pass. “And I know you'll get a tardy from Bartlett but I'll make it up to you.”
“What are you still doing here? Your clock is ticking.” Caroline smiled.
“You're the best!” Cassidy grinned and jogged off.
Cassidy let herself into Ben's townhouse while Roy idled outside. She ran upstairs to grab her project from her room. On her way down the stairs, she checked her phone for the time and decided to take a detour to the kitchen.
Cassidy pushed open the swinging door to the kitchen and a surprised blonde closed the refrigerator door.
The two women stared at each other for a few moments. “Allison? What are you doing here?”
“Aren't you supposed to be in school?” The older woman folded her arms.
“I have study hall this period and I forgot my homework...” She held it up. “What are you doing here?”
Allison hesitated for a moment before pursing her lips. “Your father and I have been seeing each other again recently.”
“Adult relationships are complicated. You should be very familiar with that considering who you’re mother is.”
“Okay... Anyway.” Cassidy cleared her throat. “I just came in to grab cookies on my way out.”
Allison watched her grab a sleeve of Oreos and disappear back the way she came.
Caroline was standing outside the school. Miranda was coming to pick them up and Caroline looked at the time again and looked around for her sister.
Caroline sighed, “there you are.” She handed her back her sweater. “I was starting to think you maybe never made it back from dad's.”
Cassidy shoved the sweater unceremoniously into her bag. “I made it there and back in no time. But you'll never guess who I ran into.”
Caroline watched her sister expectantly.
“You're not going to guess?” Cassidy asked.
“You said I wouldn't ever guess.”
“That's just an expression.”
Caroline laughed. “Please just tell me.”
Caroline blinked in surprise. “For real?”
“I guess they're dating or some nonsense?” Cassidy shrugged.
“Allison Allison?” Caroline questioned. “The Allison that tried to get dad charged for child abuse against her son?”
“She was there at the house.” Cassidy reiterated. “She said that adult relationships are complicated and called mom a whore.”
“She called mom a whore?” Caroline raised an eyebrow.
“Well, basically.” Cassidy shrugged again.
Miranda’s silver Lexus pulled up to the curb and the girls climbed in. A few blocks went by and Miranda cleared her throat. “You’re oddly silent.”
“So are you.” Caroline shrugged.
“Fair enough.” Miranda agreed with a small sigh. “I want to discuss something with you but it doesn’t feel right doing it in a Starbucks or out to dinner. Would it be alright with you if we went back to the house?”
Cassidy furrowed her brow. “Is it serious?”
“It is.” Miranda nodded.
Andy stood behind the two-way mirror watching Daniel Milano fidgeting in his seat. The door opened and Karen walked in and sat across from him. She opened her file folder and pulled out a picture secured inside an evidence bag and slid it across to him.
“Do you know what this is?” Karen asked.
Daniel shrugged noncommittally. “Nah.”
“That’s funny. We found this on your person when you were brought in.” Karen smiled and selected another picture. “This is a screenshot from a security camera, the figure in this picture is wearing the hoodie you’re wearing right now and looking at this picture.” She put her finger on the bagged photograph of Miranda.
He shrugged again, his bravado waning.
“This person continued around the corner,” she pulled out another screenshot, “and knocked over the woman from the photograph.”
“Lotsa people got hoodies and you can’t see it’s this picture from this screenshot.” Daniel shook his head, “Come on, lady.”
“Do you know Ben Powell?”
Daniel narrowed his eyes, “yeah…”
“We have him in the next interrogation room.”
“Bullshit.” He shook his head.
“Why does that make you nervous, Mr. Milano?” Karen asked. “See, here’s what I think happened: I think that Ben Powell hates his ex-wife and he asked you to leave a threatening message on her machine, break into her place, break the front window, and knock her over.”
“If you’re charging me with something just send me to lock up so I can get arraigned and get home sooner rather than later.” He leaned back in his chair.
Karen gathered up her photos and closed her file. “Ben Powell says you did all those things because you’re obsessed with his twin daughters.”
Daniel paled. “Hey, that shit’s not funny.”
Karen got up and knocked on the door. “Can I get someone in here to take Mr. Milano to lock up?”
“Hey. I’m not into kids. You can’t say shit like that and send me to lock up.” He demanded. “Do you want Powell? I can give you Powell.”
“Make it worth my while.” Karen sat back down.
The door to the observation room opened and Andy turned around. “Hey, can you give this to Karen?” Another uniformed officer held out a report.
Andy flipped a couple of pages and furrowed her brow. “Huh.”
When Karen exited the interrogation room, Andy was waiting for her.
“I was hoping you were watching.” Karen grinned triumphantly. She held up the evidence bag containing Milano’s cell phone. “Can you believe the idiot recorded his last several conversations with Ben Powell? He knew it’d be a he said-he said and he’d get screwed over if he didn’t keep something.”
“Practically solves itself.” Andy laughed.
“No, you solved it by telling me I should look into Powell’s clients.” Karen admitted. “I’m going to phone in the arrest warrant for Powell so he doesn’t have the opportunity to get tipped off. Now, when we get back the fingerprint report we should really have a nice bow on this case.”
Andy held up the report. “Well, the prints aren’t Milano’s or Ben’s.”
The twins sat at the table still processing the information that Miranda had just dropped on them. Miranda’s phone vibrated on the table. She picked it up and put to her ear. “Andrea, I’m sorry but this isn’t a good time. Could I call - ”
Miranda stopped to listen and the girls watched her intently.
“Allison?” Miranda repeated incredulously. “Ben’s Allison?”
Both girls stiffened, sharing anxious glances.
“Mom.” Cassidy cleared her throat. “I think I have something to tell you.”