What was it about that voice, soft, sonorous and, yes, lethal? Andy gets up and rounds her desk in the outer office, pens and pad in hand, as always ready to perform her duties as first assistant to Miranda Priestly, the infamous editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine. After fourteen months in these offices, she has yet to come to terms with how Miranda pronounces her name. She says it differently than anybody else and from day one, it has done something to her. At first it was shear terror, hearing the barely audible voice that still managed to carry from the inner office, to Andy's desk. Back then, she was the entirely clueless second assistant, dressing more to stay warm than to impress anyone, or, god forbid, look stylish.
Andy nears Miranda's glass desk and raises her chin when she meets her gaze. Glancing at Andy over her reading glasses, Miranda's eyes narrow. Oh. Now what?
"Sit. I need you to look these over." Miranda tosses a small parcel across the desk, nearly knocking her, by now, tepid latte over. Andy takes the mug and places in the bin under the desk. Reaching for the package, she can tell it is from some fancy company as the lettering on the lid is beveled in rose gold print. She hesitates just long enough to make Miranda frown. "Go on." The tone is annoyed, but a quick glance reassures Andy that there is no real venom behind it.
Andy opens the package and looks down at a stack of cards. Invitations to a cocktail party at Miranda's townhouse. Thinking she's meant to make sure they go out to the right people, Andy expects Miranda to mention a guestlist, but just as she has mustered the nerve to ask about it, she spots something that's not right.
"They have the phone number for RSVP wrong. I'm assuming that you want them to call me." Andy returns her attention to her boss who looks, well, if not pleased, then at least less impatient.
"Exactly. New girl needs to do better. That, or you will start interviewing again." It is obvious that Miranda consider Andy responsible for the mistake. Granted, Eliza is new, and so nervous around Miranda that she forgets her name and how to breathe, but this is such a rookie mistake, Andy wants to thud her forehead against the glass surface before her.
"I'll take care of it."
"Of course, you will," Miranda says softly.
Uncertain at the tone, since she doesn't quite recognize it as the same as when Miranda is about to eviscerate someone, Andy grips the box harder. "Anything else I can do for you, Miranda?" she asks before she realizes she's opened her mouth. Twice now. Twice since she stepped into Miranda's office, has she broken the rule of never asking stupid questions. Miranda really doesn't mind questions, no matter what the rumor mill claims, as long as they're not redundant.
"Yes," Miranda now answers, returning her gaze to her laptop. "I need you at the townhouse tonight. The twins have a project."
Oh, god, now. Andy nearly says the exasperated words out loud. Please, no more painting planets, building model volcanos, or baking cookies. Andy loves the girls and after a year of getting to know them, she has learned to tell them apart, but she isn't sure she can take it tonight. "Of course," she says. "What time?"
"Six. And since you're being accommodating, I'll have the office send me the Book in digital format, even if I loathe more hours at the computer than absolutely necessary."
Andy wonders if Miranda is aware that she pinches the bridge of her nose. "Thank you."
Miranda yanks the hand from her face. "That's all."
Returning to the outer part of the office, Andy stops by Eliza's desk. "Hey. You got the phone number wrong. Send me the information to the printer and your original file for these invites. I'll fix it this time, but I have to warn you, you can't screw up on easy tasks like this."
Eliza goes from white to red in two seconds flat. "Oh, god. Am I getting fired?" Tugging at her perfectly curled blond hair, Eliza presses a hand to her chest.
"Not this time. Miranda is giving you another chance. One." Andy speaks kindly as the message she's relaying scares the girl enough. Time will tell if Eliza rises to the occasion or not. Andy remembers her own mistakes, several, in fact, and realizes that Miranda offered her at least five-six chances the first months at Runway. Huh.
Sitting down at her desk, Andy's pleased to see the information from Eliza's computer who up on her screen within a minute. She winks at the teary-eyed second assistant as she dials the printer. "Hello? My name is Andy Sachs and I'm calling for Miranda Priestly…"
Another minute later, Andy can relax some as the manager at the printer is going to message the new, corrected invites before the workday is over.
The townhouse, located on a quiet street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is bustling with the kind of activity that comes from having two preteen twins. The redheaded girls run down the stairs as Andy steps through the front door. She gives Miranda's housekeeper, Carmen, her coat before turning to the girls.
"Hi there. What are we doing this evening?" Andy can't help but grin when she looks at the eager, freckled faces.
"Konmari!" Cassidy, to the left, says and takes Andy's hand.
"Kon-what?" Andy blinks, not understanding a thing.
"The Konmari method. Sorting through your things and only keeping what sparks joy. Haven't you seen the show or read the book?" Caroline tilts her head and looks at Andy with something like pity in her eyes.
"I have heard of it," Andy manages to say when her brain catches up. "But how can I help with that?" She frowns.
Mom says you're supposed to clear her closet while Caro and me do our own." Cassidy points to the stairs.
"Caro and I." Miranda's voice makes Andy jump, as she joins them from the room between the hallway and the kitchen. "And don't frighten Andrea like that." Turning to Andy, she shakes her head. "You're not sorting through my entire closet, naturally, just the cabinets next to my walk-in closet. I think you are knowledgeable to distinguish between my older garments and the brand-new ones by now."
Andy can barely breathe, let alone talk. Miranda's expecting her to rummage through her clothes. What the hell? When she regains control of her vocal cords, she says, "I'll do my best, Miranda. Do you wish to look them over, or—"
"No." Miranda flicks her fingers toward Andy. "Go on. Once you're done, you are welcome to join us for dinner."
It isn't the first time she's been eaten with Miranda and the girls, but normally that happens in restaurants while on the road, or after some function at Daltons, the girls' school. Here at the house, she remembers having had a sandwich once, but dinner? "Thank you," she says, glad her voice sounds calm, despite her trembling heart.
Walking upstairs, Andy slowly enters Miranda's bedroom. She's been in here, very briefly, to fetch Miranda's cellphone, but it was months ago. A different bedspread, other decorative objects, and the drapes around the four-poster bed are light and airy, rather than the heavy brocade Andy remembered. The room was more feminine, more Miranda, somehow.
Looking around, Andy sees two cabinets reaching from floor to ceiling on either side of a door which she surmises leads to said walk-in closet. She hesitantly opens the first cabinet and is immediately amazed at how organized it is, inadvertently snorting when she thinks of her own measly closet space at her studio apartment. Here some full-length clothes are hanging to the left, shorter garments to the right and drawers underneath contain lace slips, lingerie, belts, and scarves. Miranda's signature scent filled her nostrils as she took in the abundance, and as always, it made Andy shiver.
After thinking quickly about which will be the most efficient approach, Andy pulls all the long garments out and lay them carefully on the bed. Robes and nightgowns in different pastels, most of them blues or grays, pooled luxuriously against the bedspread. Andy first put back everything that still had a tag. Three robes remained, and she folded a light blue satin one and placed it at the foot of the bed. A pinkish brown, also satin, went the same way. Reaching for the last, Andy froze. A gray, silk robe. The gray silk robe. Suddenly, Andy was transported back in time, to her first Paris fashion week experience.
She can see the image of Miranda, sitting in her luxury suite at the hotel, clutching a legal document, her hair limp and unkempt, teary-eyed, and wearing this very robe. The first time Andy saw Miranda as anything else than a dragon lady, snow queen, or a Prada-wearing devil, she was wearing this robe. Without makeup, Miranda had jerked as Andy entered the room, looking so forlorn it had pierced Andy's heart. Perhaps it was the hole after that piercing that allowed love to enter. Andy was so angry at Miranda for so many things after that week in Paris, but she couldn't deny that Miranda in this robe she now holds with trembling fingers, was the start.
Andy simply cannot make herself put the gray robe in the pile that doesn't "spark joy". Yes, it would give someone else a lot of joy, it is an amazing fabric and the designer is famous, but this is the robe. It already sparks something in Andy, which means, if you stretch the concept a little, she should save it. Right? Without allowing the inner voice that tries to reason with her to become audible enough, Andy tiptoes to the door and listens. She can hear the girls laughing and talking from their rooms upstairs and there is no one else in sight. Looking down at the robe in her hands, she knows she'll never get another chance.
Pushing the door closed behind her, she takes off her blouse. If it is the last thing she does, she is going to feel this robe against her naked skin. Whether it has been washed or not, at one point, this robe had touched Miranda's equally naked skin, and this is Andy's only chance to come this close. She realizes it is pathetic, and pretty freaky, and there should be "stalker" stamped on her forehead, no doubt, but she slips into the robe and ties the belt around her waist. The image in the full-length mirror makes her gasp. The silk warms her skin and she feels dizzy. Reaching into her back pocket, she pulls out her cell phone and take a picture of her reflection. Turning sideways, she snaps another one.
When she hears footsteps in the stairs outside, she tugs at the belt and nearly drops her phone in the process. Tossing it on the bed, she tugs off the robe and puts her blouse back on. She hangs the gray robe back into the closet and has just pulled out more hangers with blouses and chemises when Miranda steps inside.
"Ah. Yes." Miranda stops just inside door. "Dinner in an hour, if that's agreeable with you?"
"Yes, thank you. I'll be done by then, I'm sure, as it's only the smaller closets." Andy know she sounds breathless.
"I thought so." Taking a few lingering steps into the room, Miranda eyes the pile of clothes still on hangers. "Actually, why don't I help you?"
"Help me?" Perhaps Andy's voice sounds even weirder than she things because Miranda's head snaps up.
"It will please the girls that I took part." Her words are defensive and perhaps she realizes as Miranda's cheeks color faintly.
"They would. Absolutely." Andy nods, perhaps a little too eagerly.
"Why don't you do the blouses and I'll take care of the chemises?" The fact that Miranda phrases her order as a question, making it sound like a suggestion, adds to Andy's feeling of being dizzy.
"Okay." Andy goes though the blouses, recognizing some of them, and only twice does she feel she should ask Miranda's opinion. Miranda has an even easier task. She discards all the chemises but two.
"Belts and scarves?" Andy asks as she places the garments they'd chosen to donate into paper bags.
"Yes. Why not." Miranda sits down on the edge of her bed as Andy pulls out the entire drawer holding the items in question. It gets jammed halfway out and she struggles for a few moments before she finds the release levers that will allow her to pull it out completely. Taking a deep breath before turning around, Andy speaks hastily.
"I didn't break anything even if it was stubborn." She places the drawer between her and Miranda. Gazing up, she finds Miranda staring at her, her eyes huge and with distinct red spots on her cheeks. "Miranda?" Now what?
"Fine. Now, let's see. Dear god, I have far too many Hermes scarves. Any duplicates can go."
"Got it." Andy begins pairing up the scarves, finding at least two, sometimes three, of each. In the meantime, Miranda makes short order of the belts, only keeping four. For some reason, she seems to particularly find the gold and silver tinted ones offensive, judging from the way she tosses them aside. Andy rolls them up neatly and places them in a paper bag of their own. "Anything else?"
"Footwear. At the very bottom." Miranda points to the cabinet to the left of the walk-in closet door.
Andy returns the drawer with scarves and belts and then kneels next to the shoe shelves. Pulling out the trays holding slippers and sandals, Andy stands and brings them over to Miranda.
"I haven't worn half of these. What size are you, Andrea?"
"Shoes?" Andy blinks and then catches on after seeing Miranda roll her eyes. "Um. 9."
"Then please help yourself if you find any here you like." Pressing her lips together, Miranda averts her gaze, which makes Andy's heart ache. What was going on?
"Thank you," Andy replies. "That's very sweet…nice, of you."
Miranda flicks her fingers at Andy. "Hardly. Who needs twenty pairs of slippers after all?"
Andy has to agree but knows better than to voice that opinion out loud. She quickly scans the content of the tray and spots a pair of royal blue, soft looking slippers. "Are you keeping these?" She points at them.
Miranda's gaze softens. "Good choice. I'm not keeping these, as I have a charcoal pair just like them. They are very comfortable. I normally wear them with my gray silk robe." Her tone is casual, but Andy nearly slips off the bed.
"I see," she says, all too aware of how husky she sounds. Gripping the slippers tight, Andy had to stop herself from pressing them in a gesture that would have seemed odd and protective.
It only takes them another fifteen minutes to finish the task and fill the last of the bags. Just as Miranda gets up, the twins enter, as always pressing through the doorway as one person.
"Mom, you helped! Wow!" Caroline wraps her arms around Miranda's waist.
"Andrea did most of it." Miranda smiles indulgently at her daughter. "And before you say anything, I did bestow a pair of slippers to Andrea. I know the Konmari method stipulates that you don't pass things on."
"Aw, one pair or slippers, that's nothing. Do they spark joy, Andy?" Cassidy comes up to Andy and look at the bags.
"They do." Andy is glad to sound her usual self again. "I love the color blue."
"Name the shade, Andrayyya," the twins say in unison and fall into a fit of giggle, obviously knowing full well that's what their mother would say.
"Royal blue, you rascals," Andy says, unable to hold back a chuckle.
"Please." Miranda shakes her head, but her eyes sparkle. "Help us bring the bags down to the foyer closet, please, girls."
"Sure thing, Mom. Our stuff is still down there." The twins grab most of the bag and bounces out of the room followed by Miranda.
Andy takes the last few bags and gets up from the bed, when she spots her cell phone. She has forgotten about it until now and moves the bags over to her left hand so she can flip the cell over in her right. Tapping the screen with her thumb, she watches it come to life. Relieved that the photos she's taken of herself in the gray robe aren't the first things she sees; she automatically taps the icon for text messages. So far there is nothing important that she must deal with right away. She's about to close the app when she spots something. The app indicates she's sent a message, but Andy is pretty sure she's up to speed with the outgoing texts for the day. Curious at what she may have sent without confirming it reached the recipient, she taps the link.
And stares. It's not any of the photos she took of herself in the robe, but a of her slightly bent sideways, the robe hanging half off her left shoulder, showing off her left, La Perla lace bra clad breast and most of her stomach. Her facial expression is that of shock, but if you don't know that, it can also be interpreted as something entirely different. Her lips area parted and formed into an 'o', her eyes are half closed, and her hair look tousled around her pale face.
If this is not bad enough, the indicator of her having sent it to someone makes Andy nauseous. She knows for a fact that she hasn't. Sending an MMS takes several taps on the screen. How the hell did this happen and to whom…? Clicking her sent folder with mounting dread filling her chest, Andy slumps down on the side of the bed.
Somehow, the photo of her, half naked in the gray robe, has been sent to Miranda's cell.