Miranda knew that she should not ask. She knew, that she should pull herself together and tell the girl one more time to leave. She felt much better. Perhaps this time she would be more forceful and commanding. More like herself. Yes. She was definitely sending this ridiculous girl with the ridiculous scarf away. And she would make sure, that the girl would never think of selling this story to a newspaper. She was quite certain that the girl recognized her. She was famous after all. She couldn't think of any other reason why someone would fuss around her like a mother hen. Damsel in distress. Bucket List. Outrageous.
"Damsel in distress? I can assure you that I'm not in distress. And hardly a damsel by any means. You must have fallen and bumped your pretty head, talking nonsense like that." huffed Miranda. She flinched when the girl reached out and started to dry the sweat on her shoulders. What was she thinking? She grabbed the towel and tore it out of Andy's hand.
"And just what do you think you are doing?"
Andy stepped back and almost tripped over her own bag that she had carelessly left on the floor. This whole rescuing thing was getting out of hand. The woman in front of her was clearly uncomfortable in her presence and probably wanted her out. Well, she definitely wanted her out. Ordering her to leave was more than a hint right?
"I… I just thought" Andy did not finish the sentence. What would have been the woman's reaction if Andy had told her about the instant connection she felt when she set eyes on her? Seeing how she did not want her there, Andy concluded that it was all her imagination. Some stupid schoolgirl crush, a reflection of her secret desires, a simple reaction to the woman's beauty. Anything but a mutual attraction. Apparently. She looked at the woman, who was staring at her silently, seemingly waiting for a response, something more intelligent than what she had already provided.
"You are beautiful." the admiring words burst out of Andy and she couldn't tell who was more surprised by her confession. The woman rolled her eyes and grimaced, while Andy just wanted the floor to open and swallow her up. Why did she say that? Why?
Miranda pursed her lips in displeasure. Beautiful. How many times had she heard that before? People always found her alluring and those who wanted to get close to her did the most obvious thing. Praised her beauty. When she was young and somewhat naive it had worked pretty well. As she got older and wiser those type of comments started to annoy her. And at that moment, sitting in a restaurant's bathroom, exhausted, wrapped in a towel, she felt rather skeptical about her physical appearance. Rolling her eyes again, she stood and walked to the sink, calling back to the girl over her shoulder.
"You think I am beautiful? How original."
Andy threw her arms in the air in frustration. No. This wasn't going well.
"Well I don't know you just yet. I can't compliment your brain."
Reaching inside her oversized bag Andy pulled out a small, neatly folded piece of cloth. Offering it to Miranda she said almost pleadingly.
"Look. I know it was a mistake. I'll be out of your hair in a second, just let me give you this."
Miranda eyed the ivory colored material suspiciously, but did not move nor say anything. Holding her bag under her arm, Andy struggled to unfold the cloth that Miranda now identified as a designer top by Dior, from last year's summer collection. Surprisingly it was a perfect piece to replace her ruined shirt. Maybe her assumption based on that ugly scarf was entirely wrong and the girl had some sense of fashion after all. She was craving a shower, but it wasn't an option nor was putting back on her sweaty shirt. The best she could do was accept the offer and get out of there as fast as possible. She wanted nothing more than go to home and forget about this humiliating incident. Actually that wasn't entirely true. What she wanted the most was a double scotch, straight.
Miranda rolled her eyes again. She abruptly stepped forward, reaching for the top but the girl just had to move at the same time. They collided. It wasn't the Hallmark type meeting in the middle. More like a clumsy bumping into each other from a B-movie comedy. Jumping backwards Andy stumbled and not so gracefully landed on her ass with a muffled thump. The heavy bag followed her, littering the floor with its contents. The silk top was more fortunate, as Miranda was able to catch it in mid-air. Time froze. Palming her face, Andy prayed silently to whatever deity was listening, to grant her wish and make her disappear into thin air. It never happened. Something else did. It started like a quiet whimper, she wasn't sure she heard it right. Then again. Peeking through her fingers she saw the older woman fighting hard not to cry. She did not succeed. It erupted with full force. Except it was not a cry. It took couple seconds for Andy to wrap her brain around what was happening. She was being laughed at. A loud, healthy full bodied laugh.
"I believe my mission is accomplished here." Andy said good-naturally. Rising to her knees she sighed dramatically and attempted a kind of awkward curtsy, that made the laughing woman go almost hysterical.
"I didn't think it was that funny." murmured Andy. Her things were still laying around the floor, it really was time to pack and leave. Sorting out her belongings, she occasionally glanced at the woman whose laughter had slowly eased and now was dressing and touching up her make-up in the mirror. Their eyes met and Andy blushed when the older woman smiled at her.
"Thank you. I really needed that." Miranda said softly. "And just for the record, I was not laughing at you. I laughed because of you."
"So you're saying that I can check that damsel in distress thing off my list?" answered Andy, waving a bright pink journal. She stumbled to her feet and proceed to hide it in her bag but she was halted by Miranda.
"Wait." Reaching out, Miranda looked at Andy expectantly. "You weren't kidding. You actually have a list. Let me see that."
Andy hesitated for a second then reluctantly obeyed and placed the book into the other woman's hand. There was a name made out of multi-colored, small Swarovski crystals on the front cover. Andy.
"Yeah. Andrea. Andrea Sachs. But everyone calls me Andy."
'Andrea, then." nodded Miranda and sat down on the sofa.
She hadn't volunteer her own name and Andy was hesitant to ask. Everything about the older woman, her appearance, her attitude, screamed famous. Should she ask? What if she really was someone well-known and Andy made a fool of herself by not recognizing her? Since that tragic day almost a year ago she had struggled with her recollection of people she'd known or met before.
"Sorry for not recognizing you. I mean you're obviously someone famous and I should recognize you, but I don't…and what I'm trying to say, is that I want you to know that I did not come after you because I'm some kind of crazy fan or something."
Miranda looked up from the journal and tilted her head, but didn't say anything.
"I mean if you aren't famous that's all right. There's nothing wrong with being average. Not that you are average, at all." Andy added quickly. Rubbing her face she groaned.
"Gosh, I'm so much better than this. It's just that you make so nervous."
"Am I now?" chuckled Miranda, shaking her head.
This girl was something else, truly entertaining in her own weird, dorky way. She was kind and caring. Not to mention very attractive. For the first time, in a long time, Miranda genuinely enjoyed someone's company despite the surreal circumstances. Turning her attention back to the journal she scanned through the pages. Her face remained emotionless, although at some point she narrowed her eyes and hummed.
"This is quite the collection you have here, Andrea. I wonder though, why are there so many different handwritings?"
"My friends started this list the day after I had an accident and fell into a coma."
"Accident. What happened?"
"I'll tell you, but you have to promise you won't laugh at me."
"Laugh at you? What kind of cruel person do you think I am?"
"I was hit by a piano."
Andy shrugged and sat down next to Miranda.
"You heard it right. A piano. As a kid I watched lots of cartoons and always found it hilarious when someone was hit by a piano. In real life however it's anything but funny. More like painful. Very painful." she smiled weakly and shrugged again. "Piano was my dream, my life. I started to play when I was four. I went to Juilliard. Played in Carnegie Hall. I had a bright future and a successful carrier ahead of me, or I was told I had. But two drunk backstage workers and a crazy idea of an up and coming director cut it short. I suffered severe head injuries, spent two months in coma and eight months learning to live again."
Holding up her hand she grimaced.
"I will never play again. These hands are just ordinary hands now. They've lost their magic. The irony is that what I loved the most took away my dreams and almost my life too."
"Oh Andrea. I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. I'm here. I'm alive. You know, my friends firmly believed that the road to my recovery was giving me things to do even if I was unconscious. Hence, the bucket list. Oh I'm known as a particularly dutiful person." explained Andy seeing the wonderment on Miranda's face.
"For sixty-one days they visited me, every single day. At first it was just them writing in the journal, but soon it developed into something more than just a simple bucket list. Doctors, nurses, other patients, visitors, hospital workers, anyone and everyone added to it and at the end all those people's dreams and desires became mine to fulfill. Some are silly, or impossible, others are funny and ridiculous. Many of them are simply heartbreaking. Hundreds of wishes and honestly I haven't even read all of them yet. There are some that I know by heart though. Personal ones. Like this cerulean scarf."
Miranda couldn't help but snicker at the mention of the scarf and it didn't go unnoticed. Andy playfully nudged her shoulder and laughed lightly.
"I know right. It's not the most fashionable piece."
"No, it's not." agreed Miranda. "What is the story of this sad little piece?"
Andy didn't answer at first. She inhaled deeply a couple times, trying to keep her emotions under control.
"It belonged to a young girl. Anja. She was a cancer patient in the hospital I was recovering. She was the bravest little girl I've ever known. Beating cancer three times in her twelve years made her fearless and strong. She wanted to be a chef. She wanted to own a restaurant and cook for celebrities. She wanted to do so many things. She wanted to go to a famous restaurant when she got better. To celebrate. She never got better."
Andy's voice faltered and she gently sobbed until delicate fingers brushed the tears from her cheek. Those same fingers smoothly entangled with hers. A healing touch. Silent encouragement.
"The fourth time she couldn't win. Cancer beat her. And here I am taking this ugly scarf out for dinner to a famous restaurant, because Anja is dead and life is so fucking unfair."
"I have two daughters. A twin. They are twelve. If anything happened to them I would..."
They sat there quietly, because sometimes you don't need words to express how you feel. Sometimes all you need is someone you can hold hands with. It could be a friend or a stranger you just met. It works both ways.
There was a loud knock on the door and someone called in.
"Excuse me. Ma'am? Is everything alright?"
"We have to go"
"Yes. We do." Yet no one moved.
Releasing Andy's hand Miranda abruptly stood, grabbed her bag and strolled to the door to leave but suddenly she changed her mind. Rushing back she took Andy's face between her palms. Her intention was clear and she found no resistance. This time, they met in the middle Hallmark style. The kiss wasn't the best ever but for a first kiss it was perfect. The one that leaves you breathless. The kind that leaves you craving more.
"Number 178. Checked." whispered Miranda softly, her lips lightly touching the younger woman's ear.
Andy shivered as newly discovered sensations ran through her body and she had to lean back against the sofa to steady herself.
There was another, more impatient knock on the door and Miranda pulled back. She gracefully walked to the door and grabbed the handle. Turning back she winked at Andy who, as an apparent side effect of the kiss, was utterly speechless.
"Come and find me. I believe I can help with that list some more. Oh and Andrea? Yes, I am freaking famous."
With that statement she was gone.
Andy tore open the journal in a haste, searching for the number. And there it was.
#178: Kissing Miranda Priestly