Disclaimer: I do not own The Devil Wears Prada or its characters, sadly!
Andrea Sachs was very proud of herself. Earlier in the week, she planned on quitting, until a friend called and she managed to come through on Miranda's latest task. Not only had she obtained the Harry Potter manuscript, but she had three copies printed and bound, two of them handed personally to Caroline and Cassidy before their train departed, and the original returned to its owner.
The look on Miranda Priestly's face when she set the book down on her desk that afternoon, along with a steaming hot vent no-foam latte, was priceless. She stared at Andrea, and wondered how on earth the "fat, smart" assistant accomplished the task. Miranda had intentionally given Andrea an impossible task. The girls didn't need the manuscript, and Miranda knew that even she would be unable to get it. She set Andrea up to fail, but this time, Andrea did not. Maybe it was the ultimatum she affixed, the "if you don't have it, don't bother coming back" part. She wasn't sure why or how Andrea did it, but Miranda was certainly impressed.
Andrea floated on cloud nine, as they say, for the next week. Miranda finally recognized her talents, her competence, and started entrusting her with more important tasks.
"Andrea." Miranda called quietly from her office.
She quickly scurried to stand in front of Miranda's desk, "Yes, Miranda?"
Miranda had taken off her necklace—what looked like a two-carat diamond pendant—and was holding it in her hands. She was examining the necklace, her brow furrowed.
Andrea began racking her brain, trying to be one step of Miranda. Did she suspect the necklace was a fake? Andrea could stop in the reputable gold shop a few blocks over to have it checked. Was she looking to get rid of it? Andrea could call Jason at Harry Winston and have it appraised. Was it damaged? Miranda's jeweler at Nalpur would likely be able to fix it, regardless of its maker.
"Andrea, it's knotted." Miranda finally said. Exasperated, she reached her hand up with the necklace for Andrea to take it.
"Yes, have you fallen and smacked your pretty little head on the pavement? Do you know what a knot is?"
Andrea tried her best to hide the smirk creeping along her face. "Yes, Miranda, I know what a knot is. I will have this fixed right away," she said, doing her half-curtsy, half-bow motion as she left Miranda's presence.
Andrea smiled as she sat down at her desk with the necklace. One of her little-known talents was unknotting necklaces, and there was no way Miranda would have known. Andrea quickly examined the knot as she removed her post earring from her ear. Using the post to thread through the delicate chain of the necklace, she first loosened the knot, then was able to undo it completely. It took Andrea all of four minutes, but in that time, Nigel had entered Miranda's office and shut the door, so she would wait to present her work to Miranda.
The phones began to ring simultaneously, and Andrea noticed Emily was not at her desk. She hated answering phones, but had no choice right now. "Miranda Priestly's office. Please hold. Miranda Priestly's office. No she's not available. I will leave word that you called. Thank you. Miranda Priestly's office. Yes, was expecting your call, please hold one moment. Miranda? Patrick is on line two." Andrea waited for Miranda to pickup, then hung her phone up, exhausted from fielding two calls. Nigel left Miranda's office, and Andrea was back on the phone, confirming Miranda's appointments for the following day—pedicure, run-through, meeting with Irv.
As she finished speaking with Irv's assistant, she noticed Miranda was standing in front of her desk, staring at the necklace. Hanging up the phone, she picked up the necklace to hand it to Miranda.
"Here you are, Miranda. Your necklace is fixed."
Miranda looked at the necklace, transfixed. "You—you didn't leave the office, did you?"
"No, Miranda. Emily is at lunch, so I've been sitting here."
"What—Who—How did this get fixed?" Miranda stammered.
"Well," Andrea said, smiling, "I am exceptionally good at undoing knots."
Miranda's eyes shot up to meet Andrea's as she grabbed the necklace from her hands, securing it back around her neck. "Yes, well, that's all," she said, walking out but still quite confused.
At home that evening, Miranda sat at her dressing table and went through her jewelry. She had an obscene number of knotted necklaces—some she hadn't worn in years for precisely that reason. Remembering Andrea's words earlier, she placed all of her tangled necklaces in a jewelry pouch and set them aside to bring to work the next day.
"Good morning, Miranda." Andrea said as she greeted her at the elevator, going over her schedule for the day. Andrea took notes on the tasks for the day, as well as grabbing her bag and coat.
"Andrea?" Miranda added, "When you hang that up, please come into my office."
Andrea was suddenly worried. She knew she had been doing a good job lately, but wondered what Miranda had in store for her today. "Yes, Miranda?" she said, standing at attention in front of Miranda's desk.
"Sit, please, and shut the door." Miranda said, her eyes focused on her blackberry screen.
Andrea shut the door and sat herself in one of the rarely-used office chairs, waiting for her next directive. Miranda set her blackberry down and picked up a pouch off of her desk.
"Andrea," she began, "since you are so 'exceptionally good' at unknotting necklaces, I thought you could be of assistance with this." As she finished speaking, she poured her knotted necklaces out of the pouch. Miranda noticed that they had become even more knotted as they sat together in the pouch, but part of her laughed at the even greater challenge that presented for her assistant.
"Miranda, you want me to unknot these necklaces for you?"
"Yes. But Andrea, there is over two million dollars here on this desk," she said, gesturing to the necklaces strewn across her glass desk. "You will not take them from this room." Miranda added as she stood, scooped up her magazines and coffee, and headed to the small sofa on the other side of the room.
Andrea stared at the necklaces, sparkling gems peeking out from underneath gold and sterling delicate chains.
"Andrea," Miranda called again, causing the young woman to turn towards the sofa. "You may sit in my chair for this."
Andrea nodded and rose, moving to sit in Miranda's chair so she wouldn't have to reach over picture frames and such on the edge of the desk. She had the feeling she was being watched, that Miranda wanted her to do this behind closed doors of her office just to test whether an animal can perform as well or better when caged.
Reaching up to remove her earring, she took a deep breath and began her work. Hours later, Andrea was finished. All twenty-eight necklaces were unknotted and undamaged. Andrea knew she couldn't put them back into the pouch they arrived in, and she remembered seeing a box of mesh pouches in Serena's office.
Andrea stood and walked towards the door, "Miranda, I will be right back. The necklaces are still on your desk." Miranda nodded and waved her hand, and Andrea slipped out to get some pouches from Serena.
When she returned, Miranda did not even look up from what she was doing, so Andrea stood at the desk and placed each necklace into its own mesh pouch, and all the pouches in a small bag that was sitting in the corner of Miranda's office. Andrea looked over to Miranda, and saw that she was not wearing a necklace today.
Selecting the necklace with several large garnets, Andrea removed it from the pouch and walked over to Miranda. Without saying a word, she reached around and secured the necklace around her neck. Andrea shivered as she felt Miranda's breath on her arm.
She stepped back. "They're all finished, Miranda. Will there be anything else?"
Miranda shook her head, and Andrea returned to her desk. Miranda sat in silence on the sofa, her magazines scattered across the floor before her. She had watched Andrea working on the necklaces, and Miranda would be lying if she said she wasn't turned on by the young girl's handiwork. Her slender fingers stroking those beautiful jewels, the way she cradled each delicate strand of gold, and then reaching around and lifting the hair off the nape of Miranda's neck so she could secure the graduated garnet necklace. Miranda reached up and felt the necklace, felt where Andrea's hands had been. She shuddered as she recognized a familiar stirring within her.
"Andrea?" she called. "Call Roy. You will take this jewelry home, now."
"Yes, Miranda," she replied. "Is there any—are you feeling alright?" Andrea noticed how flushed and dazed Miranda looked and thought perhaps Miranda should return home, too.
"Of course," Miranda said, shooting Andrea an icy glare.
"Well, maybe some fresh air would help you. Walk down to the car with me?"
Miranda pondered the proposition for a moment. Fresh air would help, and of course she could say she was making sure the jewels made it safely to the car, but walking with Andrea, the thought alone made her heart race.
She could not have these feelings for an employee, particularly a subordinate. Miranda scolded herself as the young woman awaited a reply. Miranda wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch the young woman, feel her soft, creamy skin around her neck again.
"Andrea," Miranda said, her decision made. "You will deliver the jewelry alone." She looked down at her hands in her lap before continuing, "And you will not return."
Andrea was shocked—was she just fired? "But—but, Miranda?" Andrea began to ask.
"Leave. You are no longer employed by me. I will provide an excellent reference for you as you continue your career, and of course you will be compensated for the next four weeks. That's all."
Andrea walked over to Miranda's desk to pick up the jewels, then walked out, half in a daze. She was actually beginning to like Miranda, but she must have let her guard down, because she did not see this coming.
Miranda took a few deep breaths after she heard the elevators close behind Andrea, telling herself that things would be better when Andrea was no longer an employee. Miranda would help her get any job she wanted, and she would be able to focus on her work during the day, without daydreaming about Andrea.
Miranda smiled as she returned to her desk, to the chair previously occupied by Andrea, and stroked her necklace as she called Emily in to find a new second assistant.