Chapter 1: La Ville Lumière
Andy’s phone rang as she walked along the Champ-Élysées. She had to use every ounce of self-control not to pick up Miranda’s call. She no longer knew what she wanted in life. She only knew she wouldn't end up like the cold, destructive editor.
Andy came to a stop at the Place de la Concorde, admiring the opulent sculpted fountain before her. As she sat along the edge of the fountain, Andy couldn't help but think of the conversation she just escaped. Her mind fluttered back to Miranda's words.
“I never thought I would say this Andréa, but I see a great deal of myself in you. You can see beyond what people want, what they need and you can choose for yourself.”
“I don’t think I’m like that”, Andy said solemnly, keeping her eyes glued to the world outside her window, “I- I couldn’t do what you did to Nigel, Miranda. I couldn’t do something like that.”
“Hmm, but you already did -” At Miranda’s accusation, Andréa turned to finally look at Miranda only to see Miranda staring at her. “To Emily,” Miranda finished in a whisper.
Andy tried, vehemently, to defend herself, “That’s not what I- No, that was different. I didn’t have a choice.”
“Oh no, you chose. You chose to get ahead. If you want this life, those choices are necessary. Some people in life will never accept your priorities. Not everyone can withstand the pressure, Andréa. But now you know that you can. And so now you know that you can have my life. You can do what I do. Because you can sacrifice the things that need to be sacrificed”
“But what if I can't do that? What if this isn’t what I want? I mean, what if I don’t want to live the way you live?”
“Don't be silly, Andréa. Everybody wants this. Everyone wants to be us.”
Andy sat at the Place de la Concorde for what seemed like a lifetime. She kept going over everything that unfolded in the past twenty-four hours. She tried to piece together why she cared so much. It was never her dream to have a job at Runway, so why stay? Most importantly, why wasn't she on the first plane back to New York?
Then it hit her; it was because of Miranda. Not because she was doing her job or keeping out of the wrath of the Devil, but because she cared. All Andy wanted to do was protect her resolute boss.
Andy thought back to the night at the Met Gala, the night where Miranda broke her composure for a brief moment.
As Jacqueline approached Miranda, Andy could tell that Miranda had become tenser with her presence. Luckily, Andy was quick on her feet. She thanked the heavens that she had taken French in high school and university.
Andy stepped toward Jacqueline, “Alors, Jacqueline, diets-moi, avez-vous rencontre Brad Pitt?”
Jacqueline seemed slightly stunned at the question, “Ah, non..”
“Venez avec moi.” Turning to Miranda to address her, “Pardonne-nous.”
That was the first moment of the night that Andy had helped Miranda, yet that was not the moment that stood out in Andy’s mind.
That moment was later on in the evening. Towards the end of the night, Miranda’s husband Stephen had begun to make a scene. Unfortunately, Irv had been standing next to Miranda at the time. Once again, Andy swooped in to save the day and distracted Irv so that Miranda could deal with her inebriated husband.
It was then that Miranda caught her eye. She held Andy’s gaze for a moment before mouthing the words ‘thank you’ in the most sincere way Andy had ever experienced. It was the first time Andy saw the woman behind the mask.
Stuck in her reverie, Andy hadn’t realized that almost an hour had passed. What would happen to her now that she had walked away? Was going back still an option? With all the questions erupting during her panic, she hadn’t heard footsteps along the boulevard. It wasn’t until a hand landed on her shoulder did she turn around.
“Andréa! There you are. I have been worried sick,” Miranda said, putting both hands on Andy’s shoulders, gripping tightly. Andy refused to let her jaw drop in astonishment of who was before her. She was beyond shocked that Miranda came to look for her; that Miranda even cared enough to follow her.
“Andréa, you’re shivering. Let’s get you inside.” Andy could do nothing but stare at the woman before her, following her lead.
Miranda steered them to a small coffee shop not too far from the Place de la Concorde. Taking a seat at a table near the window, Andy watched as Miranda ordered their coffee and returned with two steaming cups.
Andy's first instinct was to bolt. Yet, she sat there and watched as Miranda sat down across from her. They sat there, in the quiet cafe and looked out the window for quite some time. Finally, Miranda broke the silence.
“I'm sorry, Andréa. For what I said earlier tonight”
Andy was shocked at the apology, “Miranda, I—”
“No, Andréa. Please let me explain. When I said that I saw myself in you, I didn’t mean I saw the ‘Dragon Lady’. Well, I did but that wasn’t exactly what I meant. Mostly, I see the person that I was before all this.” Miranda took a deep breath to steady herself, “Miriam Princhek was young and idealistic, too, once upon a time. The world made her hard, made her into who you see today. I made the choice to do whatever I had to, to get what I want. Maybe I sacrificed too much of that young woman. As I said earlier, everyone has a choice. You can choose to forge your own path.”
After another moment of silence, Miranda spoke again, “Am I correct in my assumption that your departure from my side tonight was to debate whether or not you’d stay at Runway?”
All Andy could do was nod and stare into the dark liquid in her cup.
“Well, take tonight to think about it. If you choose to stay, I will see you in the morning. We always have a choice, Andréa. It’s time to make yours.” As quickly as Miranda had appeared, she was gone again.
Once again, Andy was left alone with her thoughts. She felt exhausted after the whirlwind of events that transpired in the last twenty-four hours. Yet, Andy couldn’t bring herself to leave. Instead, she had sat at the fountain when she could have been packing her bags. Maybe deep down she hoped that Miranda would come after her and convince her to stay.
Andy ordered a second cup of coffee and sat back down at the table. Miranda was right, she had a choice. She could stay at Runway or she could leave. As Andy weighed her options her mind went back to something else that Miranda had said. ‘You can choose to forge your own path.’ Andy realized that Miranda meant within Runway. Andy could stay at Runway, to be close to Miranda, but she didn’t need to make the choice to sacrifice everything to get the life that she wanted.
She had already made sacrifices when it came to Runway. She sacrificed her relationship with Nate, her friendship with Doug and Lily, and her time with her parents. Yet, nobody batted an eye when Nate missed important events to advance his career or when Lily was too busy with shows at the gallery to hangout. But when it came to Andy’s position at Runway, that’s where they drew the line. They thought the publication was beneath them yet they didn’t complain about the gifts Andy bestowed on them. Now that she had a moment to think about, Andy realized that they never supported her in the first place.
Andy had matured during the first six months of her tenure at the magazine, and they apparently didn’t like who she had become. The most important question was, did Andy like who she had become? There were moments where Andy did things that were difficult but there were also moments that were invigorating.
Andy tried to keep up with Miranda was she weaves through the heavy New York pedestrian traffic. She finally catches up to Miranda as they near James Holt’s studio and manages to get the door for Miranda.
As they near the awaiting elevator, Andy hesitates. Sighing, Miranda nods her head for Andy to follow her inside. Everyone knew that Miranda hated riding in elevators with people. Andy had never been so close to Miranda in such a confined space.
Andy stood to the side of the room, taking notes on the changes that Miranda had dictated. Miranda was not pleased with James’ new line and she had no problem telling him exactly why.
Andy thinks back to the exact words Miranda had told James that day.
“You don’t just dress a woman, you embrace her, give her the love she might never get from a real man. You make a woman feel powerful, special, beautiful.”
Andy realized at that moment, at James’ studio, that Miranda may be tough but she does it out of a deep love for fashion and everything it can make you feel.
The last time she had thought of that day was when she went home and talked to Nate about it. He couldn’t understand why Miranda’s speech had such a profound effect on her and everyone else in the room. In fact, he had dismissed her opinion entirely and repeatedly called Miranda a bitch.
Why has she been defending her friends to herself when all they do is put her down? Maybe Andy wasn’t the problem, maybe she had just surrounded herself with people who didn’t understand her, people she had outgrown. When she thought about it she truly enjoyed her time at Runway. She had learned so much and she enjoyed the challenges that Miranda gave her. Yes, they could be stressful, but no two days were the same and with each new day brought new obstacles she overcame.
Andy knew what she needed to do. She gathered her coffee and made her way back to the hotel. Tomorrow would be a new day.
Chapter 2: Five Years Later
Hey folks, I meant to have this chapter posted a while ago but between planning my wedding, the holidays, and my laptop dying and need replacing, the update took a lot longer than anticipated!! I had wanted to expand this chapter further but also wanted to post something for you all so it isn't as long as I had initially intended. I hope you all enjoy though!
Andy slumped in her chair. Miranda had just finished eviscerating the layouts of the July issue. Even though the changes weren’t in her department, the features Andy had worked on got pushed around and she was back to square one. It was going to be a long night.
Taking a break, Andy thought back to her life over the last five years. So much had changed it was mind-boggling. Even though she was happy with the way her life was headed, something was still missing. As Andy got lost in thought, footsteps approached her office.
Andy stepped off the plane, more exhausted than ever. Paris had been crazy. After the failed coup and her attempted departure, Andy had experienced enough drama for a lifetime. Upon her return to her boss’s side, Miranda had barely acknowledged her presence. If Andy hadn't seen Miranda’s slight nod of approval that morning, Andy would’ve sworn the entire night before had been some sort of lucid dream.
Andy was dreading going home but knew she had to face reality eventually. She made sure Miranda’s driver was there to bring her home, said goodbye to the Runway team, then jumped in a cab to make her way to the apartment.
With an immense amount of effort, Andy climbed the two flights of stairs to her front door. She took a moment to steady herself for what she’d find inside before she slid the key into the lock.
Swinging the door open, Andy surveyed the apartment. Immediately, she noticed that Nate was gone and so were many of their belongings. The TV and the old, ratty couch were missing. At least Nate hadn’t taken her favourite leather wingback chair. As she made her way deeper into the apartment, she noticed that Nate had taken one more item. The bed was gone, frame and all.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Andy cursed out loud. Looking at the time, she saw it was just after 10 am. She decided that she might as well take a quick shower and head into Runway to get an early start on the week.
As she walked towards her desk, she noticed that she wasn’t alone. Miranda stood at Emily’s desk. She hadn’t noticed Andy’s arrival. Andy watched as Miranda began putting Emily’s things into a box. Had Em been fired?
Miranda turned towards Andy, jumping slightly when she noticed she wasn’t alone. She all but shoved the box into Andy’s hands.
“Put that in the empty office next to Nigels. Then, move your things. That’s all,” Miranda turned back to her office.
Andy breathed a sigh of relief. Emily would’ve died if she had gotten fired from Runway. She made her way to the art department, it finally dawned on her. Miranda had just promoted her to first assistant. She’d have to start interviews for her replacement. Andy figured it was a good thing she came in today.
Andy quickly moved her things to her new desk and got to work. She sent the request to HR to gather applicants for the now vacant position. After she had put in a few hours of work, Miranda finally spoke.
“Is there some reason you’re wasting your day off working instead of sleeping?” Miranda questioned as she made her way to the outer office.
“Uh- well, I no longer have a bed so I couldn’t exactly sleep.”
“How pray tell, do you no longer have a bed?”
Andy really didn’t want to have this conversation. She let out a small sigh, “My now ex-boyfriend saw fit to take it with him when he cleared out his things. So I went home to find out I was bed-less.”
At her admission, Miranda’s expression changed for the briefest moment. She hesitated for a moment before walking back into her office without another word. Andy pushed the conversation to the back of her mind and picked up where she left off.
After a few hours of work and several Starbucks runs, Miranda left the office. Andy decided that she should probably make her way home to unpack and prepare for work tomorrow. She’d figure out where she’d be sleeping later.
As soon as Andy stepped into her apartment she noticed it and thought that she must be dreaming. Somehow there was a brand new bed that had replaced the vacant spot in her bedroom. Sitting down on the edge, Andy could have cried. Her new bed, that her boss no doubt had installed, was the softest thing she had ever felt. She looked around her room and noticed an envelope that hadn’t been there previously. Opening it, she found the familiar script.
I momentarily stole your key while you were out of Starbucks so my housekeeper could copy it before returning it to your bag without you noticing. Consider this a Christmas bonus three months late.
That night Andy had the best sleep in years.
Andy jumped as Miranda's voice pierced through her daydream. She wondered how long Miranda had been standing there. Usually, she could tell when Miranda was within ten feet of her.
“Yes, Miranda?” Andy said, giving Miranda her full attention.
“I don’t pay you to daydream. Be in my office in thirty minutes.” Miranda was gone before Andy could even reply.
Ever since Andy had been promoted from first assistant Miranda had treated her differently than the rest of the staff. If they were both in the office, Miranda would never call to summon her but she’d come to retrieve Andy in person. Or if Miranda needed something from Andy when she had left for the day, she would always call her personally, never through an assistant.
Miranda was still the same brutally honest person she had always been. There were just little things that Andy had noticed over the years and she was sure she wasn’t the only one. It also didn’t help that Andy had been promoted quicker than any other assistant Miranda had ever had.
Andy was promoted to first assistant after six months, and after another six months had been promoted to assistant editor. From there she climbed the ladder, quickly, to her position now. The only other person to achieve a senior editor position quicker than Andy was Miranda herself. Miranda was only one year younger than Andy is now when she became a senior editor at Runway France.
Realizing the time, Andy figured she should gather her things and make the short walk to Miranda’s office ten minutes early. Together they would go over the changes to the features and work on making a coherent layout.
After a few hours of work, Miranda and Andy had finally fixed the problem the rearranged layouts had caused. Miranda was exhausted more so than usual. Today had been a rather taxing day.
It was still so foreign to not have Andréa by her side while she was at work. There were so many times that Miranda had to stop herself from calling out her name when trying to get her assistant’s attention. She had refused to refer to the assistants by ‘Andréa’ and stuck to her usual ‘Emily’. For some reason, Miranda couldn’t bring herself to call anyone else by Andréa’s name. Andréa was always different from the others she always hired.
Even her girls knew that Andréa was different. Thinking back, Miranda had always known that Andréa and the twins were close.
After a long and drawn-out dinner party, Miranda finally entered through the door of the townhouse. Andréa was watching the girls tonight instead of their usual caretaker. The girls had requested Andréa’s help with a school project and Andréa was more than happy to help.
Miranda had expected to hear the girls and Andréa chatting while they were working away, but the house was silent. Miranda took the time to put away her coat and bag in the closet and made her way deeper into her home.
Walking up the stairs, Miranda noticed a soft glow coming from their entertainment room. She peered around the corner and smiled at the sight before her. Andréa was sitting in the large reclining armchair, cuddled up with both of her daughters. It was obvious by the rolling credits that they had drifted off to sleep quite some time ago. Miranda figured that she would let the three of them sleep a little longer and made her way to her bedroom to change.
Miranda couldn’t help but think of Andréa and her girls. Caroline and Cassidy had never taken to other adults well. They never got along with Stephen and when it came to their father’s various partners over the years, they had hated everyone. Even Miranda’s assistants had a hard time getting the girls to warm up to them, and many assistants had tried with no success. But for Andréa, it was the easiest thing in the world.
Sure, the twins had pulled a few pranks on the woman but after the so-called ‘Harry Potter’ incident, their pranks were more harmless and good-natured than attempting to get her fired. The girls looked up to Andréa and wanted her around. The first time that the girls asked if Andréa could come by to help them had shocked Miranda to be quite honest. She didn’t know that the twins even knew her name, let alone that they wanted to spend time with her. But Andrea’s presence was always welcomed in the Priestly residence.
Andréa had wormed her way into the heart of her girls and despite Miranda not wanting to admit it to herself, into her heart as well.
Miranda was pulled from her thoughts just as Andréa cleared her throat. Miranda could tell that she was rather amused to have caught Miranda daydreaming but Miranda pretended not to notice she carried on finalizing the last few layout changes.
Before Andrea moved to return to her office, Miranda spoke up, “The girls were wondering if you would like to join us for dinner tonight. They said that you three had discussed wanting to see some movie that recently came out. I meant to mention earlier but-”
“The layouts, I know. What time should I be over?” Andrea said, cutting off Miranda’s excuse.
“I will be leaving here at 6. If you would like, you can ride with me to the townhouse. Unless you’d like to stop off at your place beforehand.”
“No, yeah, I’ll just catch a ride with you. I’ll meet you at the elevator at 5:45.” Andrea said while gathering her things and made her way back to her office.
Miranda was once again alone with her thoughts. It had been nearly five years since Andréa began spending evenings at the townhouse. And while Miranda didn’t want to, she couldn’t help but think of that night in Paris. The night where Andréa almost walked away. Miranda would have crumbled if Andréa had left her. But there was one thing that Miranda could never figure out, even after five years of pondering. Why had Andréa stayed?