Nothing leaked on Thursday, as Nigel had hoped. But on Friday at exactly 10am, a company-wide email went out, not just addressed to Runway employees but for all Elias Clarke staff. It stated that Mr. Irv Ravitz was leaving the company effective immediately, that the board wished him well, and they thanked him for his many contributions over the years. Andy had not known what to expect when the information came out, but she certainly didn’t anticipate hearing the responses in real time.
The moment the email landed in her inbox, she heard Emily’s gasp of “fucking what?” Only a few seconds later, there were cries of elation from nearby cubicles. “Ding dong,” she heard someone cry out, and then a smattering of applause. There was a whoop of celebration, and a variety of brief explosions of positive reaction went on for another few minutes. Miranda was in her office during all of it, with the door wide open. She didn’t make a sound or change her expression, from what Andy could tell. But somehow, Andy vicariously felt the unbridled satisfaction of a job well done.
“Emily, bring me two more lattes,” Miranda called out from behind her desk at 10:22am, despite the vacuum sealed thermos of extra hot, non-fat latte still unopened on her desk. “And get something for yourself,” she added, almost under her breath.
Emily nearly fell over getting out of her seat and bolting from the office, to Andy’s amusement. At 10:23, Miranda called softly, “Andrea,” and Andy picked up her notebook and went to the office.
Miranda pointed to the chair in front of her desk. Andy sat.
“So,” Miranda said, apparently waiting for something.
“Yes?” Andy replied, not sure what she was waiting for.
“You knew this was coming,” Miranda said.
Andy didn’t know if this was a statement or a question. “I might have heard something the other night.” There was no reason to lie now, not when it was out in the public sphere.
“Had you… had you heard about him? Did you know to avoid him?” Rarely if ever had Andy heard her sound so uncertain.
“I hadn’t. But I guess,” Andy glanced out the doors toward the rest of the office. “I guess other people had.”
Miranda put a finger to her lips, her expression unhappy. “I have to make some-- this entire situation is unacceptable. I--this office…” Miranda trailed off. Andy had no idea what she was thinking, but the situation had clearly affected her. “No one should be subjected to harassment at work, or anywhere. If an employee of Elias Clarke ever speaks to you in an unprofessional manner, I expect you to report it immediately. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Miranda.” Andy tried not to think about all the times Miranda had demanded completely unreasonable tasks of her. Called her at insane hours, made her run across town to retrieve clothing she didn’t even look at till three days later. Had her race for a meal that ended up in the trash.
At that, Miranda turned her chair toward the windows. Andy admired her profile as she looked out onto the city skyline shimmering in the distance. “This can’t happen again. I’ve been looking at things--” she cut herself off.
Andy waited, and waited some more. As she did, she considered all those outlandish, silly tasks that were part of her job. They might be unfair, but they weren’t wrong.
“We’ll talk again soon,” Miranda finally said, nodding as though she and Andy had been having an actual exchange of thoughts and feelings.
“All right,” Andy said, returning to her desk.
That night, Miranda sent everyone home at 5:00. Nothing was getting done anyway; the news of Irv’s departure was the only subject on everyone’s mind. Andy had never seen so many people race through the halls of Runway with such jubilation, but there it was. A few minutes later, Nigel appeared and sat at the edge of her desk, watching the hordes make their escape.
“You headed out too?” he asked, looking down at her from over his glasses.
Andy shrugged one shoulder. “I think so.” They both glanced into Miranda’s office, where her boss was speaking so quietly on the phone that Andy had no idea who was on the other end of the line. “She told Emily to head out and asked Matt to just bring the Book over now no matter what state it’s in.”
His eyebrows rose. “That’s a first. You want to claim those three martinis tonight?”
For a moment, Andy was tempted. But there was something she wanted more, which was ten minutes alone in the car with Miranda. “I’m still on some pain meds,” she fibbed. Two ibuprofen every eight hours weren’t exactly heavy drugs. “Next week, though.”
“Is it getting better?” he asked, motioning toward her brace.
“Yeah. I’m sort of used to it now, I guess. Only seven more weeks,” she said before grimacing. “Better than eight, I guess.”
“It will be over in the blink of an eye. Get some rest this weekend. We have no idea what’s coming in the next few months, but it’s going to be nuts. Okay?”
She nodded as he snuck out before Miranda got off the phone. Fortunately she didn’t have to wait long for that to happen. As she heard Miranda packing her things, Andy slipped her notebook into her bag and wriggled halfway into her coat. Evenings were getting cold now and she’d need it even on the short run to the car.
Tonight, Miranda retrieved her own coat and bag. “Come along, now,” she said, heading down the hall without a backward glance. A few stragglers let Miranda pass them by, mumbling polite goodbyes and immediately looking away, probably worried that she’d change her mind if she saw them having even one iota of fun. Andy got a few stunned looks when she charged into the elevator right after Miranda, who appeared uninterested in the attention. As the doors closed, three jealous clackers glared at Andy without reservation.
Andy tried to smother a smirk once they began their descent. “They think you’re flying too close to the sun,” Miranda drawled. Andy looked over in surprise. “That you’re bound to get burned.”
Startled, Andy retorted, “Come on. Any one of them would give their favorite Jimmy Choos to be in here with you.”
“Well, none of them have thrown themselves in front of a cab for a collection of scarves, now, have they?” Miranda replied.
“Hey, I didn’t throw myself in front of a cab!” Andy said in reaction before realizing that yes, Miranda had just made a joke. “Anyway, they’d have to fight me before they’d get in here. This is my place.”
Miranda looked pleased at the curiously possessive statement. “It is, indeed,” she said, sliding on black leather gloves with a charcoal horsebit at the cuff that Andy had coveted since she’d first seen them. “I’m glad you’ve realized by now that everyone wants to be us,” Miranda said, just as the elevator doors opened. Miranda breezed out, leaving behind a gob-smacked Andy. She nearly got stuck behind the doors as they closed on her. Fortunately she had the wherewithal to thrust her shoulder bag between them till they opened, hurrying out after Miranda. Andy caught up just in time to benefit from a wide-eyed young man who had held the door for her. Roy was waiting at the curb, ready to go despite the busier than usual traffic. Andy was reminded again how unusual it was for them to be out the door this early.
Once settled in their seats, Andy looked up at the partition as it rose; Miranda was closing it without a word. When they had privacy, Miranda turned toward her, gaze piercing in the close quarters. Although Andy was hoping for Miranda to expand on her previous comment, she had shifted gears. “I need you to be absolutely honest. Are you certain that Irv didn’t pursue you?”
Andy nodded. “I’ve had exactly two conversations with him. Once with Nigel, and once at the gala with you and, you know, Stephen,” she said, muttering the name at half volume. “I didn’t know anything about what was happening.”
Miranda inhaled deeply and sat back, looking away from Andy. “But if you had known, you wouldn’t have said anything to me,” she said. Andy could sense her frustration, anger, and irritation. She turned back, her eyes flashing in the darkness of the car. “Am I so inhuman that everyone inside that building thinks I have no sense of understanding or justice? No empathy? Despite the fact that I, like nearly every woman in this country, have been subject to harassment myself?” Miranda remained very still, but Andy could see the tremble in her expression that told of many secrets buried beneath that cool facade. “I won’t have it. I won’t.”
It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but knowing it had happened was different than suspecting. “I know it’s not my business, but part of me wants to ask--” She paused. “I can’t imagine anyone harassing you, Miranda,” she said softly.
Miranda huffed a laugh. “Not now, not anymore. But it hasn’t always been this way.” She shook her head, gazing out the window. Andy could see something close to devastation in the faint reflection of her face. “Accusations backed up by evidence against my direct report and I never heard a peep. Meanwhile, you heard them all when the news broke. They didn’t even try to hide their elation.”
“I guess so,” Andy said, wishing she could say something to comfort Miranda, to ease her burden.
“I should have known,” she said. “Looking back, it makes sense. Off-hand comments now that I didn’t spend any time examining, or even registering as unusual. My single-mindedness is often a detriment in many parts of my life outside work. Never before has it been a detriment at Runway.”
Andy tried extremely hard to keep her expression blank. She’d never heard Miranda speak of herself in this manner before. “I can only imagine what it must have been like when you found out.” Miranda turned to her, eyes wide with realization. She blinked once, twice, silent so long Andy looked down at her coat, thinking maybe she had a spot on it. “What is it?” she finally asked.
The car slowed to a stop. Andy heard Roy get out and a moment later the door on Miranda’s side swung open. They sat there staring at one another until finally Miranda said, “Did you have plans this evening?”
“Um, no. Usually I’d still be at work at this time of night.” She didn’t add for a few more hours.
“May we continue this conversation?” Miranda asked, appearing more hesitant than Andy had ever seen her. Miranda Priestly told Andy Sachs to do things. She had never once asked her to do something.
“Sure. Yeah, of course.” Miranda left the car and Andy slid out after her. She looked up at Roy and told him, “I’m good, Roy. I’ll get a cab later.”
“Right. Have a pleasant evening, Miranda,” Roy said. “Andy.”
Miranda was already up the stairs and unlocking the door, so Andy just said, “Thanks. Have a great weekend.” She chased after Miranda too and followed her inside, slamming the door against the cold night air.
Once in the townhouse, Andy immediately felt weird; Miranda stood stiffly in the hallway, looking at her with a vacant expression. “Are you uncomfortable?” Miranda asked. “I shouldn’t have done this.”
Andy frowned. “Miranda, I work for you. We were in the middle of a conversation.”
“It could be misconstrued. It could be considered--”
The lightbulb went off. “Oh,” Andy breathed with relief. She was right; it could be misconstrued. The two of them alone together in Miranda’s home could conceivably have led to a situation in which Miranda made a pass, and the Andy of last week, or even a couple of days ago, would have happily reciprocated. But now, after everything with Irv, Andy herself recognized a difference in herself. As much as she was attracted to Miranda, found her beautiful and magnetic and brilliant, she wouldn’t want this just now. Not with the job between them, or with the spectre of Irv Ravitz hanging over their heads. “I promise if there’s anything you do that makes me uncomfortable I’ll say. And I really will say it, Miranda. I swear.”
That helped Miranda relax. Her shoulders dropped an inch or two; Andy hadn’t even noticed how tense she seemed. “All right. Come in then.” Andy trailed after her into the den off the kitchen with the soft lighting and the sweet portraits of the twins. “The girls are with their father this weekend. They… they’re disappointed that Stephen is gone.” She chuckled as if to herself. “They barely liked him but they’re disappointed anyway. Another father figure they most likely won’t see again.” She motioned for Andy to sit down and went to the kitchen. She pulled an open bottle of wine from the massive refrigerator and stated, “I’m having a glass. You’re welcome to one, too.”
Andy was on the verge of saying no. Instead, she found herself saying, “Yes, that would be great.” She watched Miranda pour them each a glass and tried not to think of the twilight zone she had recently entered. When Miranda handed it to her, she took a sip and held back her delight at the taste. There apparently was a difference between the cheap stuff and the not-so cheap stuff. She watched Miranda drink deeply, draining a quarter of the glass before she sat back in her cushiony loveseat.
Miranda took a breath. “I was going to mention earlier that you were the reason Nigel told me about Irv.”
Andy had a hard time believing that. “Pardon?”
“He must have explained how we talked before we went to Paris, when I let him know about James Holt and Jacqueline?” Andy nodded. “Without that conversation, I wouldn’t have known. I sincerely doubt Nigel would have told me about Irv if I’d gone about my business the way I’d originally planned. So you’re at least partially responsible for this whole mess.”
“I hadn’t, uh, thought about it that way.” She took a sip of wine, then another. She’d need the whole glass to go down fast to make it through this conversation.
“So strange how one turn of events can result in such tremendous change, wouldn’t you agree?” Miranda said, almost to herself. “I had always wanted Irv gone but it never occurred to me that I could actually make it happen. The board needs a super-majority to remove any particular member, and Irv had friends, old friends, in the group. It’s how he got the job in the first place.”
“How much is a super-majority at Elias Clarke?”
“Sixty-seven percent. In other words, seven of ten, and Irv himself was one of the ten.” A grim smile appeared. “It was extremely gratifying to watch him realize what was happening and that there was nothing whatsoever he could do to stop the train from leaving the station.”
“Especially knowing what he’d gotten away with,” Andy added, considering what it must have felt like to be in the room with Miranda and Irv and all those powerful people. She imagined the sharp cut of Miranda’s figure as she leaned over the table, throwing a pile of evidence toward the former Chairman. She could hear the sound it would have made as the pages skimmed across the oak, spreading every which way. The chaos as he realized what was happening; the angry voices as the vote was cast.
She got lost in the fantasy for some time, and when she came back to herself, Miranda was watching her in silence with one eyebrow raised. “That looked like quite a potent little scene you were enjoying,” she murmured.
Andy blushed, realizing it was obvious what she’d been thinking about. “It must have been amazing.”
“It was, indeed.”
“Do you think he’ll come after you?”
“Me, personally? He can try. He could try to sue me or the company, but by doing so he’ll open himself up to more risk through the discovery process. If I’m right, there may be more than one woman out there willing to break her NDA to help bring him down. To be frank, I have no clue how many accusations he’s buried. When word gets out, it could be an absolute nightmare for Elias Clarke, and for him. And for me.” She blinked, her expression firming against the coming storm. “It will be worth it.”
“But won’t it be better now that he’s gone?” Andy asked.
Miranda laughed then, but the sound wasn’t beautiful. It was hollow. “Yes and no. There needs to be a reckoning within the entire corporation. A sea change. You mark my words, Andrea. The Elias Clarke of yesterday no longer exists. One can only guess what it may become in the future.”
Hearing the words, she had the strangest feeling. Miranda said that Andy was at least sort of responsible for starting the avalanche that had taken place over the last week. Was that really true? Could one person really be a catalyst for change within an entire corporation of thousands upon thousands of employees with just one decision?
When she looked at Miranda, she too started to feel the weight of a burden on her own shoulders. What if things didn’t turn out right? What if everything came crashing down because of what Andy had done?
They sat together in silence and drank their wine, both lost in their own thoughts.
Over the next few months, Andy happened to be privy to more information about the quiet evolution of Elias Clarke than most. It turned out that the first glass of wine she shared with Miranda in her home was the beginning of something that was similar to, yet almost entirely unlike, a normal friendship.
If Emily had been jealous of Andy during her initial time at Runway, the next twelve weeks resulted in a near-catastrophic reaction to the closeness that developed between herself and Miranda. Emily could not fathom what it was that kept them in each other’s orbits every single day. Em argued with Andy about nearly everything when Miranda was away from the office: who would bring Miranda lunch, who would deliver the book, who would be there with her during public events or private functions. It made Andy feel a bizarre hybrid of sympathy and rage, depending on the time of day and the proximity of Miranda.
Andy ended up saving Emily from being out and out fired multiple times, not that Emily had any idea of how close she came to imminent disaster. Ultimately, Andy was also the one who ferreted out a position for her in the beauty department when one of the associates took a job at Glamour. It solved a myriad of Andy’s problems as well as Miranda’s, who was getting more frustrated by Emily’s inadequacies as an assistant by the day. Getting Em promoted into a new job gave Andy the chance to hire her own second assistant, which she did without any help from Miranda at all. One day she handed Miranda a resume and said, “This is the one.”
Miranda scanned the single page and within thirty seconds, replied, “Fine.”
One week later, after the requisite background checks, drug screening, and reference confirmation, Leticia was Andy’s new coffee-runner, skirt-retriever, and dog-walker, all in one cheerful package. She was a size eight with two dads from Oaxaca and Guatemala City (respectively), and more importantly she was a walking encyclopedia of both Runway history and current fashion trends. Miranda had a single moment of hesitancy when she first met the new assistant but managed to sublimate her purely habitual desire to dress her down. Andy rewarded her with her most delighted smile when Leticia returned to her desk with her head still attached to her body, and Miranda simply rolled her eyes and motioned her into the office to sit in on a call with Michael Kors and his people.
Leticia had no reason to be jealous of the changed relationship Andy had to Miranda because from the start it seemed normal. Andy had simply always arrived with Miranda daily and departed with her at the same time. She was not bothered by the fact that Andy got a lift to and from work in Miranda’s Mercedes and she once told Andy so. Leticia told her the idea of being in a car alone with the boss was terrifying. She much preferred her solitary subway ride in the early hours of the morning so she could devour the latest WWD news in a peaceful pre-rush hour.
“Oh, that sounds nice,” Andy told her with a disingenuous smile, remembering her own far less pleasant subway rides to work before her accident. She was spoiled now and did not miss those days at all. The day after she got her brace removed, she didn’t know if she’d still have a luxury chauffeur, but Miranda acted as though nothing at all changed once her assistant had two working arms again. Well, except now Andy always carried the coffee tray.
And if Andy was often at the townhouse when the book arrived, she kept that little nugget of information to herself. Leticia didn’t need to know all her secrets.
She learned how to tell the twins apart by the practicalities of earrings (Caroline had finagled a second piercing in her left ear before her furious mother could put a stop to it) and got to know them well enough. She once sat on the stairs with Cassidy and listened to stories about how Stephen really did seem like he would be a nice, dad-like guy when they’d met more than five years before. “He spent every Sunday for a month taking me to Central Park when I wanted to learn how to play softball,” she’d told Andy. “He taught me how to throw and catch and hit. He seemed cool. Plus, he taught Caroline how to do a flip off the diving board when we went on vacation two years ago.”.
Andy had put an arm around the girl, who leaned against her and cried a little. Andy, for her part, thought those stories were pretty sad. Four weekends and a couple of days at the pool did not a father make. Not to mention the fact that Stephen had dropped off the face of the earth when it came to the girls. The divorce was acrimonious, obviously, but he had no interest in continuing any kind of relationship with either of the kids. Miranda told Andy that she worried the twins would blame themselves for the breakdown of the marriage. In turn, Andy did not tell Miranda that the twins believed wholeheartedly that their mother was responsible for the fiasco by starting off with a poor choice in husbands in the first place and then wrecking the relationship single-handedly.
And because Miranda sometimes complained about the house being quiet and empty in the weeks Cass and Caroline spent with Jeremy, Andy often joined her at the townhouse. After Irv’s departure, things were in flux at Elias Clarke for weeks, and the only person Miranda trusted other than Nigel was Andy herself. Miranda swore her to secrecy on a daily basis, to which Andy would always agree (although she was vaguely insulted that Miranda could not remember how often she promised to keep her mouth shut). Then Miranda would share tidbits of conversations, information she’d learned about the political inner-workings of the business.
But the thing that really stuck in Andy’s craw over those months was the total lack of information about Irv Ravitz’s dismissal. Everyone knew he was gone, and some people assumed why. But outside the building and in the press, no details made it to a larger audience. It bothered her so much that one evening in the kitchen as they went through the schedule for the following week, she asked Miranda about it. It took a little liquid courage.
She took a big breath and jumped into the deep end. “Do you think Irv will ever be held accountable for what he’s done?” she asked, staring into the empty wine glass at her right. “Properly, accountable, I mean. The wider public has no idea what he’s done.”
Miranda inhaled deeply. “I don’t know. People are afraid of money and lawyers and power. Irv still has all three, despite his departure from Elias Clarke.”
“But what about all the other women? They have to be out there.”
Shaking her head, Miranda replied, “If they didn’t report while he was there, they certainly wouldn’t do it after he left. If I had to guess, they’re probably just relieved he’s gone.”
“Can’t you say anything?”
“My hands are tied because of the confidentiality agreement in my contract. The information wouldn’t harm just Irv; it could destroy the reputation of the company. I’d be fired for cause and trapped in litigation for eternity, which would defeat the purpose of all the corrective work I’ve been doing in the first place.” Andy knew some of that involved working with the board to bring in a firm to update the corporate harassment policy and training, as a start. Miranda sipped her wine, looking as angry as Andy felt. “You can’t win the game if you’re not in the game, Andrea. To make change, I need to be here.”
Andy heard her, but her attention was starting to drift. Something in Miranda’s words had triggered a thought that was transforming into an idea. It was daring. Stupid. Dangerous. She considered it, turning it over and over in her mind. She had no idea how to even go about it. Nothing might come of it, but she had to try. She had to do something.
Finally, she remembered where she was and who she was with. She looked at Miranda, who was staring back at her with intensity. “You disappeared again, didn’t you,” she murmured.
“Care to share with the class?”
“I--I had an idea.” She swallowed. “I could do something. I know a lot of people in the building who don’t work at Runway and I could start asking questions. I’m--you know, a journalist. An investigative journalist.” She inhaled and spoke the words she had been dreaming of saying almost her whole life. “I could do a story. Make a difference.”
Miranda went very still. Her eyes narrowed, but she did not speak. Andy thought she might shoot the idea down right away, but that didn’t happen. Miranda tilted her head. “It would involve considerable risk.”
There was a long pause. “No one here would publish it. You might have trouble finding anyone to publish it.”
“But you--” Miranda’s gaze drifted over Andy’s shoulder. Her eyes went out of focus as if she were trying to look into the future. “You could do it. You could.” Miranda bobbed her head once, as if making a decision. “You wouldn’t be able to tell me any details whatsoever. It’s a conflict of interest; you have to do it all completely above board, documenting meticulously. Everything you do, every conversation you’d have would have to take place off hours and outside the building. You already work late; I’m not sure how we’d--well, no more weekends, of course, and you’d have to start leaving on time.” Miranda frowned in what looked like real disappointment. “We won’t be able to do--” she motioned at the space between them, “--this any longer.”
That took the wind out of Andy’s sails. She’d have to sacrifice time with Miranda, quality time she valued above almost everything else. But not quite everything. For a great story, an important story, Andy would have to give up these private hours of quiet with a woman she’d come to care for more each passing day. When Miranda met her eyes, Andy said, “Yeah. That’s going to suck.”
She saw humor in Miranda’s expression at her phrasing. “You must be out of practice. You’ll have to brush up on your literary skills to pull this off, Andrea.”
Andy smiled. “I can do that. I can do anything, remember?”
Miranda's smile in return was soft and thoughtful. “I remember very well, indeed.”
Andy did not sleep that night. She relived every moment of the conversation she’d had with Miranda, and sometime around three o’clock had a realization: Miranda had acknowledged that there was something unusual going on between them. Andy had been so distracted by her idea for a story she hadn’t even stopped to recognize the significance of that moment.
“We won’t be able to do this any longer,” Miranda had said.
Heart pounding, Andy could hardly breathe. This thing she felt wasn’t one-sided. Not at all. This, Andy thought. But what was this?
For now, it would have to wait, almost as if in stasis. But if Andy was right, if she persevered and was fortunate, she might get to find out what it could be for both of them.