Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to The Devil Wears Prada or any of its characters. Vivian, however, is mine.
Note: In my story The Thirteenth floor, I introduced Vivian Martine. Punky and a few other readers wanted to know more about Vivian and how she met Miranda. So this story was born. It would probably make more sense if you read The Thirteenth Floor first.
Thank you Punky for looking this over. Any and all mistakes are mine.
Chapter 1 – Miranda
Miranda Priestly, Editor in Chief of Runway magazine, strode down the dusty hallway of the thirteenth floor of the Elias-Clarke building. "I can't believe I'm doing this," she muttered. This, as far as she was concerned, was insanity. A long time Runway employee had come to her two weeks ago and told her a ghost story. Miranda had been shocked by the audaciousness of the woman. Not only did she expect Miranda to believe her tale but she asked that Miranda perform a monthly ritual.
"I should have fired her as soon as she opened her mouth." Miranda pursed her lips and took a right when the hallway came to a T as she remembered the meeting.
Two weeks prior
"Miranda, Linda Compton is here." Emily Travis, first assistant, stood just inside her boss' office and waited.
Miranda set down her pen and pushed away the document she had been reviewing. "Send her in." She watched as the gray haired woman nervously entered and then at her gesture took a seat in front of the desk. Miranda folded her hands on the desktop. She had met the woman once five months ago. Shortly after she was named Editor in Chief, she made a point of going around and meeting each and every employee. Linda Compton, copy editor, was the oldest employee on staff and due to retire soon.
"How can I help you, Linda?" Miranda tilted her head and studied the woman.
"I realize what I'm going to say will sound crazy. All that I ask is that you hear me out." Linda chewed her bottom lip and sighed with relief when Miranda gave her a brief nod. "I'm retiring in a few months. I was one of the first people hired by Vivian Martine in 1947 when she became editor in chief. Vivian was the finest editor to ever guide Runway." When Miranda narrowed her eyes, Linda hurried to continue. "Of course, that was before you arrived."
Linda swallowed and hoped what she said next didn't get her thrown out. "After Vivian died, I visited her office on the thirteenth floor. We were in the process of moving everyone up here to seventeen. Maintenance was coming in the next day to take the furniture. Her personal belongings had been sent to her sister." Linda paused remembering that day. "I wanted a couple of minutes to reflect and say goodbye." Swallowing the lump in her throat, she continued in a rush, "Vivian's ghost appeared to me."
Miranda glared at her visitor. "Is this some kind of joke?" Her voice was low and cold.
"No, Miranda. Vivian is still on the thirteenth floor. She never left." Linda wrung her hands.
"This is a prank. Was it your idea or did someone put you up to this? Is it because I'm new to the position?" Miranda stood and leaned over her desk incensed. "The staff isn't happy with the changes I've made so they decided to send you in here with some ridiculous ghost story."
Linda jumped up and shook her head. "No one else knows about this. I've been visiting Vivian for over 23 years. Every month I bring her the latest Runway magazine. We chat about Runway."
Miranda pushed away from her desk and turned towards the windows. "I've heard enough."
Linda shifted from foot to foot as she tried to explain. "The building management has never been able to rent out the thirteenth floor. Every time they try and show it, Vivian drives them away. She doesn't allow anyone but me and the occasional security guard to visit. The only reason she doesn't bother security is because they just check that there are no problems and leave."
Finally, sinking back down into the visitor chair Linda bowed her head. "I have nothing to gain by telling you this. I'm going to retire and never come back. It's Vivian I'm worried about. She'll be all alone."
Miranda turned and leaned against the windowsill. "So you tell me this preposterous story so that I'll take a magazine down to an empty floor?" She crossed her arms and frowned at the older woman.
"You and Vivian have a lot in common." When Miranda snorted, Linda nodded. "You do. Vivian was the last hope for Runway in 1947. If she couldn't turn the magazine around, it was going to go under. You were also brought in to save Runway."
Miranda shook her head. "I have no idea why I am even listening to this. Go! I've reviewed your personnel file. You've been an outstanding copy editor and model employee. My retirement present to you is to not fire you immediately."
Linda's shoulders drooped and she slowly stood. Before she left the office she took one last look. Miranda's adamant expression said it all. She would have to tell Vivian that she failed.
Miranda patted the pocket of her suit jacket to assure herself that the note was still there. A few days after her meeting with Linda, she found an envelope marked 'To be opened by Miranda Priestly' on her desk. It contained a letter from Linda Compton with a final plea for understanding. Linda spelled out directions for finding Vivian's office. She explained that the freight elevator was the only access. When the main elevators were refurbished last year the button for the thirteenth floor was removed. The stairs weren't an option either because the stairwell doors were locked for security purposes.
Another week passed before Miranda finally gave in. Linda's desperate plea, gnawed at her. It played on a small kernel of curiosity buried deep within. Not wanting any witnesses, she waited until everyone had gone for the day before making the trek. She followed Linda's directions and finally found herself entering a large open area. On the other side was a brightly lit office. Miranda felt a trickle of unease chase down her spine. This was some absurd and elaborate joke. It was the only explanation for there to be one shining spot on this dark floor.
Miranda narrowed her eyes and glared at the light spilling out of the open doorway. She would confront the pranksters and exact her revenge. Angry now, she stalked towards the office and barely paused before striding through the office door. Miranda came to a stop behind the visitor chairs in front of a glass-topped desk. With her hands on her hips she could hardly believe how bright and well decorated the space was.
Her attention had just settled on the leather desk chair when a petite woman with gunmetal gray hair popped into existence.
"Boo," Vivian whispered. She watched as Miranda grabbed the back of the visitor chair. It looked as if the young woman was going to faint. Her face drained of color and she barely avoided collapsing to the floor. Vivian waved towards the chair. "You better sit down before you fall down."
Holding on to the back of the chair with one hand Miranda slid around to the side and eased down. "You, you're, you're," she stuttered.
Vivian smiled slyly. "My name is Vivian Martine. You are Miranda Priestly. It is good to finally meet you."
Miranda stared wide-eyed at the ghost unable to speak intelligibly. Her lips moved but no words came out. Finally, she clamped her mouth shut and took a deep breath. "I owe Linda an apology," she whispered.
"Yes, you do." Vivian tilted her head and studied the young blonde. The improvement in her color seemed to indicate that Miranda was regaining her composure. "I'm glad I warned the girls that you might show up. They don't appreciate uninvited guests."
Miranda's eyes darted left and right. "Girls? There are others here? Linda only told me about you."
Vivian pulled her chair out from her desk and sat. "Linda didn't know about the girls. They're a bit shy unless they feel threatened." She leaned back and folded her hands in her lap. "Then they can be quite creative in their methods of driving visitors away."
Miranda swallowed. "Linda mentioned that no one will lease space on this floor. Are they the reason?" She glanced over her shoulder checking that no one was behind her chair.
"Yes, but don't worry you're safe. I'll introduce you someday and let them tell their story." Vivian smirked at Miranda's frown and waved her hand. "Enough about me. I was very impressed when the Board named you Editor in Chief. Being the youngest ever to lead Runway, I can only imagine what you are dealing with. How has it been so far?"
Shaking her head, Miranda could only stare wide-eyed at her predecessor. "There are good days and bad," she said slowly.
"You've made some hard choices." Vivian gestured to the magazine on her desk. "There has been a marked improvement already. Congratulations."
Miranda reached up and started to fiddle with her necklace. "Thank you. I had to fire the incompetent and scare the rest into doing their jobs."
"I was ecstatic to hear you sacked the former Art Director. From what I heard he was a pompous, condescending prick. Is the new guy working out?" Vivian leaned forward and rested her clasped hands on her desk.
"Yes," Miranda sighed happily. "Nigel Kipling and I share a similar vision for Runway. He has been very supportive and we've become friends."
Vivian raised an eyebrow. "Anything more than that?"
"No, I'm not Nigel's type," Miranda smirked. "He's a good man and he'll become a great Art Director."
Vivian and Miranda spent the next three hours talking about Runway. Miranda was able to talk about the plans she kept from everyone. Vivian told stories of what it was like when she was Editor in Chief. When Miranda finally glanced at her watch, she was surprised how much time had passed. She reluctantly said goodbye and promised to stop by again.
The next day Miranda had her assistant send Linda Compton a flower arrangement. A hand written card was included with the bouquet. It read – "Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. You have been a valued member of the Runway family and you will be missed. A mutual friend asked that I also extend her appreciation for your friendship. Miranda Priestly"
Miranda made a habit of dropping in and talking with Vivian once or twice a week. They discussed ideas for photo shoots, working with difficult designers, and some of the latest fashions failures along with a myriad of other topics. Since she was so new to her position, Miranda felt she had to prove herself everyday to her staff and to the Elias-Clarke board. Vivian was able to provide honest feedback and insight into what was required as Editor in Chief.
One night Miranda was getting ready to leave after visiting with Vivian when she paused at the office door. "I was wondering. Would you be interested in meeting Nigel?"
Vivian smiled as she gave a brief nod. "I would love to meet him." She stood and came around her desk. "I'll let the girls know that we may have another visitor."
Miranda continued out of the office. "I'll see you soon then."