The Box

A MirAndy short story

By Gun Brooke

"Coast clear?" Andy poked her head into the outer office, spotting Emily. The redhead was clinging to her crutches one of her legs in a cast.

"Yes, of course. God, do you have to act like someone out of a cheesy old spy novel?" Emily huffed as she maneuvered awkwardly into her chair. The good-for-nothing individual Miranda hired to fill your shoes put your things in a box. There." She pointed at a dark brown open box sitting by the coat closet.

"Thanks. Thought it best to fetch it while Miranda was not in her office."

"You left us in quite the pickle. She's not been easy to please." Emily looked more tired than annoyed.

"Sorry. I know I handled it badly." Andy hoisted the box. "There were reasons." Such as keeping her shattered heart as intact as humanly possible. Holding on hard to her box, she

"I'm sure I don't care to hear them." Emily made a shooing gesture for Andy to leave.

"But I would find them fascinating," an all-too-familiar, quiet voice said from behind Andy.

Emily blanched and Andy pivoted, only to find her standing well within Miranda's personal space. She too two stumbling steps backward until she bumped into her old desk.

"Miranda. Um. Hi. I—I didn't expect you to be here."

"In my very own office, Andrea? How odd." Miranda pulled off her gloves and dropped them and her purse on the desk next to Andy. Her tan coat followed the same path. "Speaking of my office, I want to see you in there. Now."

Andy knew she was toast. Dread filling her heart, she followed Miranda into her office, still carrying her box. Miranda let her pass and turned to Emily. "Hold all calls and I mean all calls." She closed the door.

Was this when Miranda lived up to her reputation and actually threw an assistant, or former assistant, out the window? Andy pushed back a nervous giggle.

"Oh, put that down." Miranda gestured impatiently. "And take a seat."

To Andy's dismay, she pointed toward the couch, not the visitor's chair by the glass desk, where they would be in plain view from the door. Sitting down, Andy's mind went into a complete tailspin.

So, not being tossed out through the window. More like being throttled on the couch and hidden in a cabinet until everyone leaves. Or Miranda might bribe Emily with a complete Alexander Wang wardrobe if she got rid of Andy's body.

Miranda cleared her voice and sat down next to Andy on the couch, breaking her out of her reverie and into a full set of tremors. Clasping her hands not to show it, Andy was then engulfed by Miranda's signature scent—something she'd never expected to ever happen again.

"You owe me an explanation," Miranda said calmly.

"I'm sorry, I—"

"No. Not an apology. I'm not interested in that. I want an explanation."

"I did what I had to do. But I want to apologize for—"

"No." Miranda put up a hand, palm toward Andy. "That's a waste of time. You left in the middle of a workday. You didn't take my calls. I only found out you were safely back in the US when Emily found you changed your ticket and flew back that same evening."

Had Miranda worried? The tailspin was starting to feel like a veritable vortex. How was that even possible? Yes, Andy had fretted over her impulsive decision, harbored such a guilty conscience mixed with a broken heart. Swallowing against the dryness in the back of her throat, Andy tried again.

"I had to leave. Everything came over me at once and I needed to sort myself out. I shouldn't have left without saying anything. That was wrong of me." Praying Miranda wouldn't press on; Andy knew it was most likely futile. As frightening as that was, part of her was reveling in the appearance of the stunning woman next to her. Miranda was dressed in a dove-grey skirt suit, which would have looked boring on anyone but her. She'd paired it with a silky forest green blouse and a copper statement necklace. Her trademark large earrings matched the outfit perfectly.

"You look at me like you're trying to imprint my appearance on your mind," Miranda said quietly. "Why's that, Andrea?"

Tearing her gaze back to meet Miranda's, Andy knew from her hot cheeks she was blushing. "I never thought I'd see you again. Not this…close."

"And yet, here we are. You say you had to leave. That you were confused and needed to sort yourself out. What was the origin of this confusion? Your boyfriend versus Thompson?"

Thinking of the backstabbing man Andy had a one night stand with in Paris made her cringe. When it came to Nate…he was gone and it was sad, but he wasn't the reason for either her confusion or her heartache. "Christian was a mistake. My boyfriend and I broke up before we left for Paris."


"I know you really care for Nigel. He's a friend of yours." The words hurt as they left her lips, but Andy continued. "He's supposed to mean something to you and yet you let him down like that in Paris. I figured if that's the case when you really care for someone, if they still don't mean more than that—then I stand no chance. I knew it was a totally one-sided thing. My feelings. I used to chalk them up to admiration, hero-worship, and even a bit of a crush like you can have on a teacher."

Miranda sat so still now, she looked like she wasn't even breathing.

"When it turned out to be more than that, I knew I was screwed. I had already made up my mind to quit when we got back to New York. Then that whole mess with Christian, Irv, Folet and Nigel happened. Your actions threw me for a loop and—I couldn't take it. It hurt too much."

Miranda leaned her head back as if to calm herself. She slowly refocused on Andy. "You're telling me you left because you cared too much for me—and it hurt you? Am I supposed to believe this?" Looking furious now, her nose wings trembling as if she would indeed spew fire and leave but a scorch mark where Andy sat on the couch.

"It's true," Andy said, raising her chin. "It may be laughable to you, but my emotions are my own and I really don't care if you believe me or not." This was true to a point, but she would not back down now.

"Is that so? You claim you care about me, even have feelings for me, and yet you leave me without so much as a goodbye, or even an effort to let me know you weren't lying raped and dead in some Parisian alley?" Miranda's face was pale, only colored by fierce, blue eyes and a flush of red on the top of her cheekbones. Even her lips were colorless as he pulled them back in a low growl, masked as a smile.

"If it's that important to you to know, I can't imagine why it would be, I can prove it," Andy blurted.

This seemed to pierce the armor of disdain Miranda wore like a cloak. Her lips relaxed as her mouth opened in surprise. "Prove?" She blinked. "How can you possibly prove anything you felt?"

Andy stood and fetched her box. "It's all in here." Her voice was husky from rampaging emotions. She had not planned to share how she felt for Miranda Priestly with anyone, let alone the woman she loved so desperately, but as her departure seemed to have struck a nerve, so be it. If this would give Miranda some weird closure, perhaps it would do the same for Andy?

"Very well." Miranda motioned for her to continue. Andy had to hide a smile when she saw Miranda slightly crane her elegant neck to see what was in the box.

"This was the first thing." Andy held up a black, expensive pen. "You threw it across the room when it wouldn't work and had Emily go buy you a new one. I picked this up and asked if I should try to fix it. It's a beautiful pen. You waved at me, you know, all impatient and so not interested and said. "Keep it." So I did. It works fine now."

"So you kept a pen." Miranda didn't look impressed.

"Yeah." Andy put the pen down on the table and pulled out a blue Hermes scarf. "This has a hole in it and you threw it in your bin. You'd worn it for a whole day without noticing the hole and—"

"I remember." Miranda fingered the end of the scarf. "You kept it?"

"Yes. Hole and all. It still has your scent. At least I think so." Andy held it to her nose. "Yup. Sure does." Placing the scarf by the pen, she grabbed a sample size of the expensive perfume Miranda wore. "More of your scent." She reached back into the box and pulled out a notepad. "These are the handwritten notes you left for me when I was out on errands. I always wondered why you didn't either ask Emily or tell her to give me the message. You kept writing me those little Post-It notes and attaching them just behind my keyboard. I have them all here, all forty-eight of them, in this notepad. In chronological order."

"Really?" Miranda turned her head so she could see the notes. "My handwriting."

"Yes." Andy showed one mundane item after another. There was even a chain of linked-together paperclips that Miranda had fashioned while being utterly bored during a staff meeting. "You made this and kept glancing at me, which made me nervous, until I realized you were communicating just how boring you found Irv's endless droning. You even smiled at me and rolled your eyes, as if I was in on a private joke." Andy put all the items back into her box. "I think this is probably the best proof of my feelings," she said softly as she pulled up one last item, this time from her messenger bag. "Another notebook. My thoughts that I wrote down every time I was waiting around for the Book. A diary of sorts of all the times I stopped Irv from disturbing you, or even harassing you. Sort of a log of my labor of love." She held onto it hard. "And you just have to take my word for that because there's no way I'll ever let you read my diary." She held it against her chest, pressing it so tight the corners of it dug into her skin through her shirt.

Miranda looked like she was at a loss for words. Her hands opened and closed and then she slumped sideways against the backrest. "You're going to be the death of me, Andrea." Her voice trembled.

"Wh-what?" Placing the notebook back in her bag, Andy reacted without thinking, placing a hand on Miranda's knee. The sensation of Miranda's nylon stockings against her palm made her stomach clench. "What do you mean?"

"You sit there, so honest, and yes, I do believe you, and you look at me with those big, brown eyes. How can I ward off such an abundance of emotions? I've only met harsh accusations and coldness for so long. That warmth of yours…do you realize how dangerously appealing that is?"

Andy could hardly breathe. Every new breath seemed to reach her larynx and then refused to travel down to her lungs. "What are you saying, exactly?" She couldn't decipher Miranda's words, at least not entirely.

Miranda leaned her head in her hand, her elbow supporting her against the backrest. "Answer me this, Andrea. From what you know of me, do you think I've ever bothered with any of the silly girls that have stormed out of here in a huff, never to be heard from again?"

"Eh. No?"

Miranda sat quietly for a while, her gaze distant. Her left hand moved and ended up on top of Andy's, which was still as if glued to Miranda's knee. Absentmindedly, Miranda gently rubbed Andy's hand in small circles.

"What am I to do with you, Andrea?" she murmured.

"What do you feel like doing?" Andy countered, not sure where her courage came from. She knew she had to challenge Miranda to share her thoughts.

"Are you really asking that?" Miranda snapped her head to face Andy again. "And if you are—are you prepared for what I might answer?" She gripped Andy's hand tightly.

"As long as it doesn't entail you throwing me out the window, I'm prepared." Smiling faintly, Andy relaxed marginally when the corners of Miranda's lips turned upward.

"Brave words." Miranda scooted closer. "I think we have lots more to talk about. I don't want you to walk out of my life without giving me…us…a chance to explore these unexpected emotions."

"When you say emotions? Are you just talking about mine, or…?" If that was the case, Andy would not stick around. That would mean a world of pain.

"Of course not. I may be many things, but I'm not deliberately cruel. I couldn't bear to watch that amazing light in your eyes go out again. Not like it did in the car in Paris. I just couldn't. As for me? The mere fact that I'm letting down my guard with you should tell you something."

"You care for me?" Andy sucked her lower lip in and held her breath.

"I do. Of course I do." Miranda had the gall to look affronted, as if Andy was slow on the uptake, or something.

"So we'll explore mutual feelings of caring for each other." It wasn't exactly a question, but Andy needed to clarify.

Miranda tugged sharply on Andy's hand, propelling her forward. Gasping, she steadied herself against Miranda's shoulder with her free hand. Miranda held onto her hand and used her other hand to cup Andy's cheek. "Yes. Lots of feelings. Very mutual." Her eyes were dark blue now. "I'm going to break a rule now and I'm only going to do so because I suddenly have no character whatsoever."

Miranda leaned in and brushed her lips against Andy's. Once. Twice.

Andy slid the hand on Miranda's shoulders around her neck and into her silver-white hair. Tugging Miranda even closer, she closed her lips over hers and deepened the kiss. She ended it when Miranda was slumped in her embrace, totally out of breath.

"Wow." Andy gently touched her kiss-swollen lips. "I knew you'd be amazing, just now how much."

Chuckling at that, Miranda charmed Andy by caressing one of her eyebrows with her thumb. "Oh, I had an inkling—if only from my reaction to your proximity. I guessed you would be fire in my arms if I ever was so lucky. What I didn't count on was for you to be so brave, and for your feelings to be so strong."

"If the kisses are any indication, I'd say we both feel very deeply," Andy said shyly.

Miranda caressed her cheek. "If I ask nicely, will you come to dinner tonight? The girls and I are having pancake-Thursday. We can talk more when the girls do their homework and if you'd let me, I could reassure you regarding Nigel."

Andy gaped. "You…I mean, me…the girls?" Was Miranda so sure? So certain she was ready to have Andy over when her twins were home? And the fact she wanted to explain about Nigel? This was a lot, nearly too much.

"I'll try this again." Miranda kissed Andy's lips lightly. "Please come for pancakes tonight and say hello to my girls. Seven-ish?"

Andy let out the breath she'd been holding. "Yes. Thank you. Seven. I'll be there."

Miranda stood. "Good. Don't forget your box. Wouldn't want anyone to nick your memorabilia." She smirked. "Right?"

"Oh. Right. Good point." Still a bit dazed, Andy kissed Miranda's cheek before they were within sight of anyone through the glass doors. "See you tonight."

"Yes." Miranda walked to her desk and sat down.

Andy opened the door and tried to look suitably chastised when she left Miranda in the inner office. Emily looked sorrowfully at her.

"Are you all right?" she asked, to Andy surprise.

"I'll live." Andy shrugged. "You know, I have a new job and a bright future. I shouldn't mope around."

"You're right. I'm sure there's a lot to look forward while working at that little newspaper." Emily looked pleased with herself, probably thinking she managed a lovely compliment.

"That's right." Andy couldn't help a broad smile from forming on her lips. "I have so much to look forward to, it's crazy. Take care, Em." She ventured a glance back at Miranda who was looking right at her. Before Andy opened the door to the corridor she thought she saw Miranda wink.

Leaning the box on her hip, she pressed the button to the elevator. Andy looked tenderly down at the objects representing her love for Miranda, she smiled, but frowned a moment later. Something was missing. She thought back to her show-and-tell. The string of paperclips was missing. She knew she'd put all her things back. Then she remembered how she leaned in to kiss Miranda's cheek.

"Pick-Pocket Priestly," Andy muttered while smiling as she entered the blissfully empty elevator. "Well, I'll just ask for payment in kind when I see you tonight, you little thief. A lovely string of paperclips must be worth at least three hot kisses." She grinned.

At least.