Miranda knew she needed to stop this. Whatever this was. She was such an old fool. Had she learned nothing in her many years of her life? Clearly not.
The worst part was, she was falling in love with the silly girl. And it was foolish, yes, and dangerous, but Miranda knew deep down that she could not help it even if she tried. There was something about the young woman that drew her in, something that gave her a false sense of comfort. Which is why she needed to stop this. It had gone on for far longer than she had intended, and a pressing weight on her chest made it painful to even breathe just at the thought of breaking Andrea's heart.
Oh yes, she knew the silly girl returned her feelings. Miranda could see it in every glance, every caress, every whisper of soft lips against hers. She could see it in the way expressive brown eyes lit up every time she entered the room, in how she prioritized Miranda to most anything else, how she always seemed to give her entire self to Miranda, no hesitation, no fear.
It was killing Miranda just thinking about never seeing Andrea's face again, of never being wrapped in her arms, of never again falling asleep to the comfort of slow, even breaths and a steady heartbeat under her ear. Sitting alone in her study with a nearly empty bottle of wine, the editor had to close her eyes and take a deep breath just to keep her composure. How would she get through this? Perhaps there was a chance they would be happy together. Perhaps the twins would accept Andrea, and neither of their careers would be damaged, and Andrea's family would be alright with all of this and -
No. It was impossible. It simply would not work. Miranda had been through too many relationships, too many heartbreaks, to know that in the end she always drove everyone away. And she didn't think she could survive Andrea abandoning her. There was no chance this... this affair could ever be anything more than just that: an affair. Sooner or later, one or both of them would get deeply hurt, whether by them, or by their families, or by their work, or by the general public that would no doubt thrive in the gossip that the Dragon Lady had found another toy to chew on.
The affair began 6 months after Andrea left Runway in Paris. They bumped into each other at a benefit, and Andrea had invited her back to her apartment. And, well, initially it was purely a physical thing. Miranda saw no harm in it back then, it was just a way to get it out of their systems, since it was clear that there was a lot of chemistry between them. But somewhere along the sex and the sneaking around, they ended up getting to really know each other, and suddenly it wasn't just sex anymore. It became dinners and good conversation, and opening up about their respective pasts, and calling each other almost daily, and evenings spent by Miranda's fireplace working or reading when the girls were with their father. Suddenly it was more than sex. They began to make love. The way they touched each other changed, it became more gentle, more passionate, more awed. Many times, Andrea would take a moment after undressing Miranda, and she would kneel before the older woman, spreading kisses over her abdomen where her C-section scar tainted the otherwise flawless canvas. In her reverence, Andrea would look into Miranda eyes, and she would almost start saying something before changing her mind and leaning in for a deep kiss instead. Miranda had a suspicion about what Andrea seemed on the verge of saying, which is why she needed to end this. Before it was too late to salvage even the smallest piece of her heart.
I’m never going to let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
'Cause every time I open up it hurts.
So I’m never going to get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt.
The painful weight in her chest was back, only much worse now. She felt nauseous, and she actually clutched her stomach, trying her best not to vomit.
Andrea stood before her, streaks of endless tears smearing her make up down her pale cheeks. Miranda had never seen a more painful sight in her entire life. It was much more painful than the disappointment in her daughters' eyes, or the rage in her ex-husbands'. Much more painful than seeing both her parents' corpses in side-by-side coffins. Much more painful than the MRI scan showing the lifeless body of her baby when Miranda was only twenty.
"Why are you doing this? I know you care about me!" Andrea sobbed helplessly, looking at Miranda with such desperation and agony in her eyes that the older woman had to look away. Her voice trembling, Andrea approached her, taking the older woman's slightly shaking hands in her own. "Give us a chance, Miranda. Please, we can make this work. We can - "
"W-What?" Andrea moved back slightly, as if Miranda had slapped her across the face.
"I said," Miranda raised cold eyes to look into brown eyes filled with hurt and tears. "You are wrong." She had to do this. Miranda had been very selfish in her life, but this time she wanted to do the right thing. This time it was too important. She knew eventually she would break Andrea one way or another. She refused to have the younger woman give up her chance at true happiness with someone better suited for her. Someone younger and kinder and simpler. Someone who did not break other people. With her emotionless voice steady, she lied, "I do not care about you. It was a fun... dalliance, and I must admit I am rather fond of your body, but I have no need for you any longer. I have found someone who is better suited for me, and I'm sure it will not take you long to find someone else yourself. So stop this needless display of over-emotion and remove yourself from my house, my daughters will be back in just a few hours and I have much to do."
She stepped away from the young woman, trying to ignore how it became hard to swallow through the knot in her throat when Andrea's hands fell away from her own. She turned her back on the younger woman, taking a breath to regain her composure before walking away towards her bedroom.
"That's all." She threw over her shoulder, the pressure on her chest becoming more and more agonizing each step she took away from Andrea. Her Andrea. Just as Miranda was nearing the door to her bedroom, the young woman seemed to get past her distressed speechlessness.
"Miranda, don't do this! Miranda, wait!" Just as the editor began to close the bedroom door between them, she heard Andrea's voice break. "I love you!"
She paused for a millisecond, but Miranda successfully closed the bedroom door, shutting Andrea out of her life forever. She leaned heavily against it, and she could not hold back the tears as she listened to the young woman's mournful cries. After only a few moments she could hear Andrea's sobs fade away, and then the front door slam closed.
I know you’re thinking I’m heartless
I know you’re thinking I’m cold.
I’m just protecting your innocence
I’m just protecting my soul.
Miranda crumbled to the floor, barely able to draw breath, her shoulders shaking with her silent sobs and fat tears rolling down her face. Never in her life had she ever experienced anything more difficult and heart-breaking than what she just did. She had barely managed to pull it together, but all these years putting forth the Ice Queen persona had served her well.
Andrea was free now. She was free to live her life without the tremendous baggage that came with loving Miranda Priestly. She was free to fall in love with someone who deserved her, someone right for her. But, God, the pain Miranda was feeling was indescribable, and her lips parted in a silent wail as she wrapped her arms around her torso. Just thinking about Andrea loving someone else made her feel bile at the end of her throat.
She had made the right decision, she was sure of it. But right now, all Miranda could think of was how broken Andrea had looked, what her sobs had sounded like in her grief, how she had pleaded - begged Miranda to reconsider. How, despite Miranda’s heartless cruelty, Andrea's last words were "I love you".
She'd made the right decision, but Miranda wished that her life was different. That she was younger, less famous, more whole, worthy of Andrea. She had made the right decision, but it hurt more than she could have ever imagined.
Baby we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true.
I’m way too good at goodbyes.