Nigel stood before the balustrade following the movements of the tuxedoed men and vividly gowned women in the ballroom below. He had always loved this venue as the balcony that ringed the upper level allowed for innumerable vantage points to view the proceedings below. Amused eyes lazily scanned the growing crowd. It wouldn't be much longer before Miranda made her appearance. Even now, he could see the new first assistant, Carla, drifting towards the foot of the staircase. Emily, having recently been promoted to an Associate Editor's position in the Art Department, would soon be joining him, along with Serena. They had something of a pool going on these events and he had a feeling tonight would be his lucky night. He rubbed his hands enthusiastically as he contemplated the nice little pile of cash that would soon be his.


He glanced around the balcony, but could not find the source. Someone obviously was trying to get his attention.


Nigel looked across the open space to see an arm beckoning to him from around a large potted plant. The length alone identified Emily as the owner. He hurried around to her side, attempting to not appear to be in a hurry, which resulted in a rather stiff legged rapid walk. He was sincerely grateful that most people were still gathered in the ballroom below. As he neared the large plant, the same arm grabbed his lapel and yanked him into the foliage.

"Really, Emily, you've been reading much too much Ian Fleming again," he admonished, brushing off the sleeve of his jacket and settling his lapels. He had no desire to appear before Miranda, or anyone else, in a wrinkled jacket. "So why the subterfuge?"

In answer, Emily pointed towards a small group near the main doorway of the ballroom. Nigel suddenly remembered how it felt to have hair atop his head, so high did his eyebrows climb. "My, my, someone came loaded for big game tonight."

"Buggery bollocks! The bloody cow is naked!" Emily hissed.

"She is decently covered," spoke a voice from behind them.

"I believe you mean barely covered," Nigel chided as he turned to smile at Serena, who he had no doubt had quite a bit of influence in the choice of that gown.

The shrug he received dripped Latin nonchalance. "Semantics," Serena waved a hand dismissing his comment. "The essentials are covered. She has a lovely body and flawless skin. Why should she not show it?"

Emily gave her girlfriend a narrow-eyed glare which earned her little more than an arched eyebrow in response.

"I think it's bloody evil of you to continually stack the deck in Nigel's favor," she growled.

"I do not stack it in Nigel's favor; I stack it in Andy's," Serena corrected her.

They all returned their gazes to Andy Sachs who moved around the periphery of the ballroom in a sleek red gown that molded to her curves. The neckline plunged to the tip of her breast bone leaving the inner curves of her breasts just visible.

"She could at least have the decency to sag," Emily groused.

Serena couldn't contain her laughter.

"Andy is barely twenty-seven," she pointed out. "She will be married to an adoring spouse with at least one child before gravity takes notice of her."

Emily sniffed and continued her perusal of Andy's appearance. Though her right side was turned to them, the flash of a bare left leg that ended in a four inch fine strapped sandal was seen with each step. Emily supposed the gown was slit almost to the hip which was entirely unfair as Miranda had never been able to resist looking at Andy's legs. As Andy turned back to speak to someone who had evidently called to her, Emily choked. The dress had no left side. There was a three inch wide strip of bare flesh that ran the length of Andy's body, broken only by tiny gold chains at the hip, waist and side of her breast. The back was little more than a drape of cloth across her hips.

"Our illustrious leader will fall tonight," Nigel predicted, which was the basis of their bet. He was convinced Andy had strong feelings for her ex-boss and for the last six months had been going out of her way to attract Miranda. He though it was only a matter of time before his long time friend fell to the young woman's charms.

"Miranda is made of much sterner stuff than that," Emily corrected, as always adamant in her belief that Miranda would never deign to be with an ex-assistant, no matter how attractive and provocatively dressed. Even if their boss had feelings for Andy which she had to admit seemed more and more likely with each meeting the two had, Emily believed Miranda would never cross that line.

Serena smirked at the two, but remained silent and refused to join in the betting. She believed that the two women had deep-seated feelings for each other and belonged together. For that reason alone, she made sure that Andy received an invitation and a gown for any event that she would not normally attend in the course of her work. Should the event be a working one for her, something Serena had little difficulty finding out, the gown alone would arrive. Each dress exposed more of Andy's body to public perusal. Yet, to Serena's knowledge, she had yet to balk at wearing one. She strode into each event with the confidence of a woman who knew she was shown to her best advantage by the clothing she wore.

As the other two moved around the balcony, keeping Andy in sight, Serena followed, amused at both their antics as they moved from plant to pillar, then on to the next plant as they tried to remain inconspicuous, and the constant squabbling that went on between them. For herself, she was more interested in seeing Miranda's expression when she had her first view of Andy tonight. The atmosphere of the room shifted and the noise level dropped to murmurs letting Serena know she had minimal time left to wait.

Miranda stood at the top of the stairs in a black and white off the shoulder gown. Her first step showed a flash of bare leg to halfway up her thigh. She descended slowly, fingertips gliding down the railing. There was a sharp thread of sensuality running through her normally languid movements tonight. It seemed to move out from her in a wave and through the crowd as men settled their jackets and straightened ties while women stood a bit straighter, shoulders back. Serena' slips curled in amusement as she saw Andy knock back the glass of champagne she held and exchange if for another clearly affected by her first sight of Miranda that night.

"It would seem our dear Six isn't the only one on the hunt tonight," Nigel quipped and chuckled at Emily's responding snarl.

"Yes," Serena agreed. "But who is the lion and who is the lamb?"

As Serena watched closely, she could tell Miranda was scanning the crowd. It was subtly done and only those used to her daily mannerisms would detect the perusal. Serena knew the moment Miranda spotted Andy. The smooth elegant stride hesitated for a second as if brought up short before resuming Miranda's naturally graceful movements.

Serena smirked and, accepting a glass of champagne from a passing waiter, and silently toasted her choice of dress for Andy. It was the first time Miranda had been visibly affected by the younger woman. Nigel practically chortled, while Emily growled her displeasure. Serena knew she would have a great deal of making up to do once they reached home tonight, but she didn't see that as a drawback. Making up with Emily was one of her favorite things to do, and she got a great deal of practice with the volatile redhead. Serena lifted her glass in another silent toast, this time to the way her night would end. Hopefully, Miranda and Andy's would end similarly and she could add a bit of celebrating to her later activities.