Boring. This man was boring. Miranda Priestly tried to suppress a yawn and flashed a fake smile toward her dinner companion. Since her last divorce, she hadn't dated much and at that moment it was painfully obvious why. Her date was a good looking business man, intelligent, wealthy and sadly, boring. Slightly tilting her head she pretended avid attention, but her mind was wandering elsewhere and her eyes were secretly scanning the interior of the small restaurant. Her gaze fell on to a beautiful young woman, sitting at the corner table with a handsome man. She looked fragile and tired but what peaked Miranda's interest was the cerulean blue scarf wrapped around her head. It was a hideous piece and it took all the editor's willpower not to make a comment about it.
Miranda nodded at something that Jeff? John? said and once again glanced at the woman. She looked up and caught Miranda's eye. They were staring at each other for a long moment, then the girl tentatively smiled at the editor. In response, Miranda raised an eyebrow, her stare did not falter. Seconds later the girl shyly lowered her eyes and Miranda reluctantly turned her attention back to Jake? Jay?
What am I doing here? Andy silently asked herself for the hundredth time since they'd arrived at the fancy, upscale restaurant. She liked food and yes she liked good food, but the place although it had an excellent kitchen, did not fit her tight budget. Her companion Doug had expensive tastes and he had the money to meet his expectations, but Andy did not like to depend on others. The last ten months had been hard for her. She had to give up many things and independence was one of them. Now as things were back to normal, or close to that, she wanted to stand on her own and wanted her friends to let her walk alone. She still needed them of course, but at the same time she needed her space. She wanted to pay for her own food, pay for her rent and clear her ridiculous hospital bills.
"I know what you are thinking."
Doug's voice brought her mind back to the table. She smiled and popped a piece bread into her mouth.
"I doubt that."
"Andy, I know you better than anyone else. You don't want to be here, because you're worried about the cost. Remember, I am paying."
"That's not the point Doug. Yes the food is spectacular, but we could have gone to Fred's and I would have been a happy girl."
Doug shook his head.
"That wouldn't have been the same. You've been fighting hard and you won the battle, Andy. You deserve a celebration. And this restaurant is the perfect place for that. Now stop thinking and just enjoy your meal."
Andy leaned back in her chair and shrugged. Maybe he's right, she thought. I overcomplicate things. I should just do what he said. Relax and enjoy the evening. She reached for her glass when an unexpected sensation ran through of her. Halting her movement she looked up, straight into intense, icy blue eyes. The white haired, elegant woman, she had spotted as soon as they entered the restaurant and had been secretly watching since, was staring at her with an unreadable expression. Holding her gaze for an endless second she tentatively smiled at the older woman whose expression did not change, other than the perfectly raised, shaped eyebrow. It almost seemed like a challenge. Andy blushed and looked away. Suddenly the food in front of her transformed into an important research subject that needed instant examination. What was happening here? Why was she blushing like a schoolgirl who just met her first crush in the canteen? What was it in that woman that drew Andy's attention back again and again? A long forgotten feeling started to develop inside her. Attraction. It wasn't the first time she had found another woman attractive, she even went out on a date with a sister of a friend once. And yes they kissed, well sort of and agreed on a second date but life had other plans for Andy and it never happened. She carefully peeked from the corner of her eyes just to see older woman abruptly stand and hurry toward the back of the restaurant, where Andy assumed the bathrooms were situated. Her posture was rigid and even from a distance Andy could tell that she was rather distressed.
"Andy? Are you ok?" asked Doug for the third time, looking at Andy questioningly, who had jumped to her feet.
"Umm…yes, just have to go to the bathroom. Be right back." With that she grabbed her bag and hastened after the woman.
Oh no. Not again. Not now. Miranda felt the first unmistakable signs of the disaster that was coming. Out of nowhere her heartbeat sped up and a sudden chill run through her body. She knew that soon an almost unbearable feeling of heat would follow the chill and that would bring sweat. Lots of sweat. She had started to get hot flashes about two months ago and so far she had been lucky. Every time it happened she had been alone. Usually late in the evening or at night. She couldn't let anyone see her like this. Not an entire restaurant. Not now. Not ever. She stood swiftly and rushed toward the bathroom, dismissing Jeremy's? inquiry with an impatient head shake. The first wave of heat hit her when she entered the empty bathroom. Relieved that no one was going to witness her humiliation she locked the door and leaned against the marble sink. She removed her blazer, her top was already soaking wet, so she took it off too. She trembled as another wave of heat rushed through her, followed by a chill. Her face, neck and chest were burning up and she felt pathetic. Closing her eyes she inhaled deeply. I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry. She murmured quietly like a mantra. It did not help. She cried anyway.
Suddenly, a cold, wet cloth was placed on her neck and someone gently squeezed her arm.
"Breathe slowly. You'll feel better soon."
Miranda's eyes popped open and she spun around. The fast movement made her lose balance and she reached out to steady herself. Fragile fingers held on to her and she stilled, trying to gain back her stability and her dignity. However, at that moment she doubted that she had any left. Another wave of heat washed through her and she whimpered helplessly. She could not stop the tears from flowing freely down her face. Her own body was betraying her and on the top of it all, there was this girl watching her falling apart in full screen, 4K Ultra HD, display.
"Hey. It's all right. Just breathe slowly."
Andy released Miranda's arm and stepped back. The cloth she'd placed on the older woman's neck earlier, to cool her down, was lying on the floor now. She picked it up and wet it again.
She had followed Miranda to the bathroom and gotten there just in time to see that the woman, while she had turned the lock, had not actually closed the door. She'd sneaked in and carefully closed and locked the door. The older woman didn't notice her and Andy watched her as she undressed, unsure what to do. She had no idea what she was doing there, she was clearly invading someone's, a stranger's privacy. The absurdity of the situation sunk in and she assumed that her presence would not be welcomed. She was about to leave when the other woman had started to cry. She looked and sounded so miserable, Andy had to step in.
Looking at the woman's now furious face, she was beginning to think it might not have been the smartest idea. Maybe she should have just left, or not have interfered at all. She tentatively offered the cloth to Miranda.
"Here. You should put it on your neck. It helps with the hot flush."
"I beg your pardon?"
Miranda could not believe what was happening. There she was standing half naked in a restaurant's bathroom, sweating, trembling, going through her worst menopausal hot flash session and this skinny girl, a stranger, was waving a wet, cerulean blue scarf in front of her face, indicating that she should put in on her neck. Ridiculous. She wouldn't touch that thing even if her life depended on it. Wasn't the girl wearing that on her head before? What was she thinking?
"Get out." Miranda tried to sound as cold and as scary, as she usual did. However, in reality, her command was just a shaky whisper. She swayed and again the girl jumped and held on to her. Circling her waist she led her to the sofa and made her sit. Miranda leaned back and closed her eyes. She wanted to cry again. She wanted go home, curl up in bed and sleep. She wanted it to just be a dream. But it wasn't. She opened her eyes and looked up. The girl was still there. She was still half naked and her dignity was still absent.
"Please. Just leave." She pleaded. The hot flashes were gone, the fine layer of sweat felt cold on her skin. Her eyes were searching for her clothes. No, she couldn't put those back on. Those needed time to dry.
The girl shook her head.
"I can't leave. You are on my bucket list. I have to help you."
Andy shrugged. Grabbing a towel she stepped closer to Miranda.
"Well not you, per se. A damsel in distress. And right now, that's you."