A/N: I've worked on this story as therapy for my broken wrist as I'm healing (too slow in my impatient opinion...) and I'm going to add new parts of this size as I go along. Knowing that some of my readers are out there waiting for an update will keep me at it. Thank you for your patience. I do still have rougher days, pain-wise, but I'm psyched about my story idea and I've missed writing a lot.
Miranda stepped off the elevator, barely raising her, as acknowledging her employees were never part of her daily routine. She had far too much to think about, too many decisions on levels far above their paygrade, to add being nice to the mix. Her being nice to these practically faceless people, didn't secure their livelihood. Doing her own job well, no, performing her tasks in her customary outstanding way, that kept these people's jobs safe. If she failed, the repercussions for each of the vaguely familiar faces could be immediate.
Emily sidled up next to Miranda, out of breath. "Good morning, Mir—"
"Is Krantz on board for the two o'clock meeting?" Already bored with Emily's attempt at being nice, Miranda allowed barbwire to enter her voice. The photographer was booked solid for more than a year, but was making an exception for Runway, for Miranda.
Emily stuttered. "Th-that's just it, Miranda…He, eh, can't make it. He's sending someone else."
"What?" The whiplash word made Emily's apologetic smile tremble. "Someone else?"
"Yes." Emily sighed, or perhaps she had been holding her breath. "His protégé. His name is Andy Sachs."
Miranda crinkled her nose at the first name. Andy. How pedestrian. At least the surname made up for some of it. This did not have anything to do with her anger-laced frustration of Krantz bailing on their meeting. It had been in the works for months and for him to send a mere minion to represent him…was nothing short of insulting. She would have cancelled the entire thing on the spot if it weren't for the situation she was in. Under pressure from the board, especially Irv, the chairman, and hunted by the tabloid press for the juicy details of her second divorce, Miranda needed a win. No, more than that, she needed a miracle. Her latest issues have sold well and been up to par, but not held the magical glow that kept her magazine flying off the shelves in the way she had planned. Planning the shoot along with the best, most sought-after photographer had been the ace up her sleeve that had allowed her to at least get a few hours' sleep each night. And now he wasn't coming.
"Miranda?" Emily squeaked and Miranda realized they had walked in silence all the way into her outer office area where her assistants worked.
Tossing her coat and bag onto the wide-eyed second assistant's desk, Miranda snapped her head around to face Emily. "Start calling every reputable photographer from my blue list. Get one of them here to take part in the meeting—no matter the cost." Prepared to pay for a new photographer out of pocket to keep it from Irv, Miranda stalked into her office. Andy Sachs. She pictured a stocky, bearded hipster with an old Instamatic dangling on his chest. Huffing, she sat down at her desk and began going through the newspapers.
This day could not get any worse.
Andy crossed the impressive lobby of the Elias-Clarke building and got in line to the security desk. Hoisting her camera bag, she winced and shifted the strap to her left shoulder. All this carrying around camera equipment was hard on the body. As a newspaper photographer, travelling from one hot zone to another, she had kept her gear to a minimum, not knowing where and how she would move between stories—and countries. This type of photography was different. If it hadn't been for her best friend Lilly introducing her to Robert Krantz a year ago, she doubted that fashion and portrait photography would ever have been her thing. She admitted that she had frowned upon such shoots, until she accompanied Krantz and saw how he wielded his magic wand and created photos that held truth and beauty. Then Krantz insisted that her way of capturing people was just what he was looking for in a new employee and challenged her to shoot standing right next to him, for comparison.
Lilly had squealed when Andy showed her the photos that had landed her the lucrative job with Krantz's photo studio. Where his versions were works of art, like paintings in real life, hers showed the rest, as he put it. Andy had surprised herself by not even hesitating for a moment, and now, Krantz had sent her to a meeting at Runway, the fashion magazine, to represent the studio.
Miranda walked into the largest conference room where her staff was already assembled. They knew to be at least twenty minutes early, and she let her gaze travel along their faces. Emily was looking pale after having taken the brunt of Miranda's dismay at all the blue-listed photographers being busy. She couldn't really blame Emily as a few hours' notice was unheard of in their business.
Miranda took her seat at the head of the table and the others followed suit. Narrowing her eyes, Miranda looked for the hipster she had invented in her mind, but the only stranger to her was a woman with brown hair sitting two chairs down on her left. Or was that one of Nigel's new assistants? Glancing over at Nigel, Miranda saw him murmur to a blond man and remembered that Nigel's assistants were male.
"Who are you?" Miranda said, locking her gaze on the young woman. She looked to be in her mid to late twenties.
The woman squared her shoulders. "My name's Andrea Sachs. I'm from Krantz's Studios. I stopped by your office to introduce myself, but—"
Andrea Sachs? Andy? This was the stocky hipster? Miranda blinked. A woman and so young. Krantz sent her this…this college kid to photograph her most important center spread in years? Ire rose within her, but eons of training allowed her to hide it. Or perhaps not, judging from the widening of Andrea Sachs's beautiful brown eyes.
Miranda had a lot to say to Krantz, and he would reap the repercussions of his cavalier dismissal of today's meeting and test shoot. It was common knowledge in the industry that you didn't stand her up. For meetings or social engagements, and especially not when her career hung in the balance.
"Ms. Sachs. Welcome," Miranda said with her most velvety voice. "Let's get started. After the meeting, I wish to address a few things with you in my office before we commence with the test shoot."
"Of course," Andrea Sachs said, the only thing giving away the onset of nerves on her part was how she raised her chin and the tension in her full lips. She really was quite beautiful in a way Miranda couldn't define. Her chestnut hair flowed around her shoulders and the dull-looking cerulean knitwear suggested C-cup breasts. The color suited her, but Miranda bet anything that the polyblend garment came out of a marked-down bin at H&M.
"Nigel," Miranda said after tearing her eyes off the girl. "Start by outlining the theme for the shoot and its accompanying articles."
Nigel beamed. "This is going to be the center spread for the ages, good people. Photoshoots combined with correlating articles written by the best feature journalists around the world. All five continents represented and models and designers from all of them. As you might realize, we're going to be working on this for a lot longer than even our most ambitious work to date. I'll say that Runway's going to put the month of March on the map in the fashion world."
The faces around the table shifted, both from nerves and excitement, as Nigel's words made this a tall order. But all the people present, barring the unknown variable that was Andrea Sachs, lived and breathed fashion and publishing. Miranda looked over at Andrea and was surprised to see a similar glow from her eyes. She met Miranda's gaze and her lips parted into a brilliant smile. Miranda merely raised an eyebrow, but to her surprise, it didn't make Andrea visibly flinch, as her expressions of disdain usually did. Instead, she gave an almost imperceptible shrug and turned her focus back to Nigel as she started jotting down notes.
Miranda pressed her lips together. Clearly this young woman was not of the meeker kind, which made sense as she must hold somewhat of a decent position at Krantz's Studios. That said, when Miranda had her to herself in her office, Andrea would find out what Miranda thought of Krantz's lapse in judgment and the reason a mere raised eyebrow from her made grown men in high positions tremble. She wasn't going to risk her last chance to solidify her seat on Runway's throne—not for a girl with mesmerizing cognac-colored eyes—not for anything.