It only takes a moment
Betas: Peetsden, Firebird93 and Lennonandstreep
Summary: After Paris. A weekend shoot in a romantic landscape brings Andy and Miranda together. Hope you like it! Rated M. Pairing Miranda/Andy.
AN: Thanks to my wonderful Beta Peetsden, who not only corrected the many mistakes, but also helped me to choose the story location. I´d like to also thank my good friend and faithful reader Lenonandstreep for her good advice about the plot and Firebird93 for offering her valuable help.
Once everything was settled and exhaustively prepared for the shoot, they finally left New York. Two hours later, Andy looked out from the car window, amazed at the beauty surrounding her. The landscape was slowly changing from grayish concrete to the soft greener landscapes approaching the Catskill Mountains. The beautiful path was richly surrounded by autumn colors since the golden, auburn and red leaves were like a carpet alongside the road.
They were heading for a small property located three hours north of city, that was, according to Nigel, the perfect place for the November issue shoot. The entire team, including Runway editors, models and photographers, were divided among three vans. The leading one, driven by Andy, had Miranda and what she lately called her first team. A team composed of Nigel, Jocelyn, Serena, and the two newly promoted past-assistants, Emily and Andy.
It had been a long time since Andy took a car and simply drove away from her frantic life and she missed the delicious feeling of peace and freedom she always associated with it. She loved to drive, to escape the city from time to time, so she was more than happy to be behind the wheel again, even if work was the main reason why she was traveling this time. The other reason for her wonderful mood was a certain silver-haired beauty comfortably sitting behind her, impatiently discussing her ideas for the shoot. From time to time, their eyes connected in the rearview mirror, as had been happening a lot lately. The group was using the three hour trip to settle a few details and sometimes Miranda sought Andy´s opinion, in an unexpectedly soft tone of voice.
Having long ago given up attempting to deny her feelings for Miranda, the young woman finally decided to stop fighting the consuming attraction. In the last six months, when her working status finally changed from second assistant to junior editor, it was hard to pretend that her emotions were nothing more than hero worship admiration. To Andy's utter despair, her stubborn heart blatantly refused to succumb to all rational thoughts why loving Miranda was not only stupid, but also potentially hurtful.
Besides the logical reasons to ignore her deep feelings for the Fashion Queen, the undeniable affection increased the importance of Miranda in her life and the young woman resigned herself to the fact that lately, her boss's presence had the power to make everything right for her. To make things worse, Miranda´s demeanor had drastically changed around Andy in the last six months, especially after Paris Fashion Week, and as much as she thought about it, she couldn't pinpoint the exact moment when her cold attitude was replaced by a silent understanding that appeared to be exclusively reserved for the young woman.
Most of the time Andy was unsure what exactly was happening between them. The silences, pauses, sighs, and looks so full of meaning, as well as the brief touches when close, were keeping Andy's heart in constant painful anticipation. Since she had left the assistant position to occupy a place beside Nigel on the editorial team, the two women had developed a satisfactory camaraderie, mostly because Andrea performed the work of pre-editing texts, making Miranda's efforts in The Book considerably easier. Her ability to anticipate Miranda's needs made her a very competent editor since she was proving to be as capable of predicting Miranda's wishes for the magazine as she had been as her assistant.
After leaving Miranda in Paris in the middle of Fashion Week, Andrea waited for a retaliation that never came. When she went to Elias-Clark building to collect her personal belongs and get on with her life, the editor called her into the office – away from the eyes of a stunned Emily – to offer her a new position under her supervision as a junior editor. Shocked, Andrea still struggled to understand Miranda's actions on that strange day, when for the first time in nine months, Andy heard the editor explain herself. Yes, Miranda Priestly explained her intentions to her former assistant.
The upcoming divorce and the professional difficulties apparently had led the editor to reflect about the need to delegate some tasks to a few trustworthy subordinates in order to balance professional and personal life, exclusively for the benefit of her children. She patiently explained to Andy her intention of rebuilding the art department, giving Nigel and Jocelyn real decision-making power. To complete the team, she would need Emily and Andy to work directly with Nigel, assisting him with the hard task of editing the magazine's content. Of course, the final decisions would still fall to Miranda, but she pinned her high hopes on her first team's abilities.
Nigel had needed Andy's new position for a long time. He needed someone to be in charge of the articles that would complement his visual work. The young woman knew she was competent enough to lift the burden from Miranda and Nigel's shoulders by dealing with the editorial problems and matching words to the art department's images.
Emily would be Nigel's right hand, assisting him in the challenging task of directing the photo shoots, while Andy would perform all text editing before it went to Miranda. The opportunity was unique, not only because it guaranteed an excellent position in a very successful publication, but also because Miranda gave her the chance to write or suggest directions for said magazine. The reasons why Miranda rewarded her with a promotion instead of punishing her after Paris were still a mystery to everyone. Nigel was the only person brave enough to speak about the subject, insistently pointing out to Andy that Miranda's feelings were the real reason behind her actions. He never once questioned Andy's ability to perform the challenging tasks entrusted to her, but he was absolutely sure that Miranda had found a way to keep Andy by her side.
To make the position even more attractive, Miranda gave Andy free rein to suggest, choose, and construct articles that would increase the information published in the magazine. Most of the pieces were about fashion, but the young editor was proving to be quite creative in keeping the readers' attention. Even Irv had congratulated her after the September issue, which included interesting essays about fashion and sustainability. The theme, suggested and spearheaded by Andy, raised sales, attracting the board's attention not just for her work, but also for the entire team's efforts. On those occasions, Andy received Miranda´s measured, but proud congratulations, which just increased the young woman's drive and Nigel's certainty that something was definitely happening between the two women. For Andy, the chance to win Miranda's professional admiration was enough to keep her focused on doing a good job.
Emily, Nigel, and Miranda used the first and second hour of the ride to finalize the last details for the weekend. Their direction was as crucial to a successful shoot as Andy's work would be after the images were captured, adjusting the text to the main theme. After two hours of discussion the passengers settled into a deep silence and Andy tried to focus her attention on the road ahead, not on the blue eyes in the mirror. She was dragged from her thoughts by Serena's low voice coming from beside her. The beautiful blonde was looking at messages on her Blackberry, laughing when some text caught her attention.
"You know who is sending me messages every ten minutes asking about you, Andy. She wants to know if you´re sharing a cabin with Emily and me. I believe what Susan really wants is to share a bed with you."
Miranda eyes narrowed in the mirror and Andy blushed as Nigel's annoyed voice answered Serena's question.
"Serena, do us a favor and tell your little pervert model friend that Six already has a roommate, thank you very much, even if that means no handsome models in my bed during the weekend."
Miranda's heart was beating painfully in her chest at the prospect of a beautiful young woman courting her ex-assistant. According to Nigel, Andrea had been alone since Paris Fashion Week, when the fry-cook boyfriend left without a word. Maybe that was the reason Andrea seemed so sad lately. Miranda would do anything to see the easy smile back on her ex-assistant's face, but she had no idea how to approach the young woman, to offer friendship, comfort, or anything else. Knowing that someone was actually trying to gain her affection was almost unbearable. She knew that Andrea was a shy and reserved person, but this Susan had been quite insistent lately. The young model was stunning and never hid her sexual preferences or her interest in Andrea. Miranda's jaw clenched and her voice was pure venom as she tried to dismiss the conversation.
"What I don´t understand is why a weekend that should be focused on work must be wasted with anything that is not exclusively related to Runway."
Miranda's eyes met Andrea's again and the young woman blushed, averting her gaze. Andy felt the frosty tone on the back of her neck but didn't say a word, despite the fact that the entire conversation was about her interests. Nigel, who didn't fear Miranda, continued.
"Oh, my dear Miranda, you're very aware that after the hard work is done, everyone uses their free time in more personal ways. In fact, if I'm not wrong, you never once considered your employees' behavior a problem unless their actions interfered with our magazine's interests."
Not waiting for Miranda reply, Nigel continued, "Serena, please, do as I say and get rid of this presumptuous girl before I do it myself. What is she thinking, that a woman like my Six will date someone like her?"
Surprise covered Serena's features at Nigel's icy tone, but Andy knew better. Nigel had nothing against Susan and was simply defending his own point of view about Miranda and Andy's relationship. According to her most faithful friend, it was a matter of time until both of them finally found a way to love each other.
Emily and Serena, on the other hand, were certain that Susan was a perfect match for the junior editor. Working closely together since their promotions, Andy and Emily had developed a good friendship and were now almost inseparable. Andy was already used Emily's sharp tongue, but the verbal duels between Nigel and his temperamental art assistant were becoming famous within Runway's walls. The redhead looked challengingly at Nigel and then back at Andy.
"Tell me, Sachs, is there any chance you made Nigel believe that he has the right to make decisions about your personal life? I'm sorry, because he can't even find someone to warm his bed, so how can he control who you'll date?"
Turning her head to Nigel, Emily added in her usual arrogant tone, "I don't know what you mean when you suggest that Susan is not good enough or Andy. She's beautiful and kind and she's not interested in some casual fling. I thought you cared enough about Andy to wish her happiness with someone who can really love her. Susan would take my friend here to the altar before the next issue of our lovely magazine is released."
The redhead looked at Miranda in a strange way, as if her words were somehow directed to the editor, who raised an eyebrow in challenge. Andy gasped and looked to the back seat in outrage.
"Hey! Would you guys stop talking about me as if I'm not here? I'm not for sale, okay? I appreciate your interest in my personal life, but I'm sure I can take decisions for myself. Besides, next time I hear the word altar, I'll stop this car and take the first bus back to New York, is that clear?"
Andy's words were harsher than she intended, but had the desired effect. Her friends only grumbled their discontent while Miranda smiled secretly, considering the reply a small victory.
Nigel was clearly irritated with Susan. He had worked for almost two months to bring Miranda and Andy together, and now this charming model was getting in the way with her ridiculous courting ritual. He had everything planned in his mind, and was hoping that this small trip would provide a strategic way to play with his friends' desires until they could reach their goals. He was convinced the first step would be have to be taken by Miranda, not just because Andy was too shy, but also because she didn't think herself good enough for the editor. He was trying hard to show Andy how wrong she was about Miranda feelings and he definitely wouldn't allow any obstacles to interfere with his course of action.
Against that, Emily and Serena were convinced that no one would ever be able to soften the editor's difficult temper and that it would be just a matter of time until Miranda hurt their sweet friend in an irreparable way. The young couple was campaigning for Susan, creating situations that brought her into Andy´s life.
After a few moments, the car was silent again and Miranda found refuge in her own thoughts, trying to decipher her feelings. In the middle of Paris Fashion Week she had to deal with the prospect of losing Runway, the need to sacrifice a good friend's career to save her own, an impending divorce, and her in ability to express her feelings for her second assistant. That unusual week overturned many of her convictions, bringing new light to many aspects of her life. First, she was surprised about her lack of grief about the divorce, which just made clear that her feelings for Stephen no longer existed. Her greatest concern was her daughters' feelings, as the media exposure would certainly cause pain and disappointment to the most important persons in her life.
On that terrible night, when her world was crumbling around her, she had been surprised by Andrea, who entered her room just after the editor in chief had received the divorce papers. Still shaken by the news, Miranda was thinking sadly about what her daughters would endure, when the young woman came in with a concerned look in her eyes. Andrea was so incredibly beautiful sitting across the room while Miranda told her about the divorce. When their eyes finally met, Miranda's body reacted in a foreign way and she still couldn't forget the hurt expression on those beautiful features when Miranda dismissed the young woman's offer of help by telling her to do her job. Andrea's face manifested clearly all her frustration and Miranda felt it like a stab through her heart. At that moment, feeling free of an unhappy marriage, Miranda first realized the true nature of her feelings for her beautiful assistant.
Miranda was not perfect and she knew that her remarkable intelligence, which was responsible for her competence in business, was not balanced by an equivalent personal dexterity. As a matter of fact, besides the twins, she had failed in almost every intimate relationship, including those with parents, siblings, and friends. Just a small number of people through the course of her life had the rare talent of surmounting her barriers and Andrea was definitely one of those rare individuals.
Her feelings about the young woman were confusing even to herself. She could be called many things, but never, ever, in a thousand years, could anyone call her a hypocrite. She was perfectly aware of her growing affection, but she was still amazed by the atypical physical reactions and curious fantasies about the young woman. No one, no previous lovers, dates, or husbands were able to unbalance her feelings, entering her thoughts or dreams. The young woman was slowly occupying a position in Miranda's life that she had no idea had been empty in the first place.
Miranda sighed, observing her own face in the rearview mirror. She was composed as always, but an attentive observer would see the dark circles under her eyes and the subtle tension in her shoulders. The only person she knew who was capable of noticing those little signs of distress was Andrea.
Andrea. That was one of the many things that made her days at Runway more challenging than ever. Not that the girl did anything to upset her, just the opposite. She was the best assistant she ever had and had turned into an incredibly talented junior editor. In the last months, Andrea had become not only crucial to Miranda's work, but also a balm to her life. The young woman was amazingly kind and patient, always offering Miranda one of those warm smiles, even on her worst days - when her nasty mood would make her tongue sharp and even cruel. She was also competent, making the editor's job much easier, bringing fresh ideas and correcting her co-workers' mistakes before they got to Miranda.
During Paris Fashion Week Miranda made the terrible mistake of underestimating the young woman's will, which led Andrea to abandon her in a crucial moment. The devastation she felt when she looked back and realized the girl was no longer at her side was a good hint about the nature of her feelings. Only professional commitment prevented her from following her assistant, but as soon as her plane landed in New York, she was already determined to find a way to keep the young woman by her side.
After the strange events following Paris Fashion Week, Miranda decided to act on a project she had been planning for months, one that would bring some significant changes in the magazine's organization. Her team would be surprised, but she was sure that the new structure would not just assuage Nigel's disappointment, but also bring important changes to Miranda's professional and personal life. The adjustments would be difficult - and would guarantee Andrea's permanent place at the magazine. Looking back, Miranda knew she had made the right decision. Now, she was able to be really present at her daughters' lives and her first team was proving their merit every day.
Her admiration for Andrea's many qualities and impressive ability to improve the whole group's work grew in the last months. Miranda's efforts to keep the magazine had become easier with the junior editor's influence over her team. She was perfectly aware that Nigel and Emily became not just a support, but also a crucial factor in Runway's success, but Andrea was the real glue among all of them. The relationship between the two women had changed in a decisive way and Miranda was reaching a point where it was difficult to hide her feelings.
So, just like that and with no previous warning, Andrea became the reason why Miranda woke up every day, the reason her work was more pleasant than ever. She was trying to approach the young woman by easing her harsh actions around her. Sometimes she could swear something tangible was happening between them and she regretted immensely when her usual cold behavior was a barrier, but she was still feeling too uncertain to change her established behaviors.
Lately, almost against her own will, her usual behavior had slowly changed around Andrea and she could feel her employees' astonishment when her tone was almost tender when commenting about her ideas for the magazine. If Miranda had the slightest indication that Andy would give her a chance, she wouldn't think twice, but she wouldn't put at risk a good employment relationship for nothing.
In the front seat, Andy couldn't stop her own ruminations. She would definitely have to move on with her personal life. She had fallen in love with her boss and that was truly unprofessional. She was pretty sure about the nature of her feelings, although they were not clear a few months ago. In the beginning she could swear that they were nothing more than a simple crush on a powerful older woman. She patiently expected that the infatuation would fade, but unfortunately it didn't. As a matter of fact, her feelings were getting stronger, making every workday painful.
She was also thinking about following her friends' advice and giving Susan a chance. She refused a couple of dinner invitations back in New York, using, on both occasions, her fading relationship with Nate as an excuse. Now, she was single and Susan knew it and was becoming perturbed by Andy's refusals. Any girl would be lucky to have the beautiful model's affection, but Andy didn't feel this way. Maybe having Susan around would be a good idea; maybe she would come to love her after some time. Perhaps it would be wiser than remaining alone, mourning her nonexistent relationship with Miranda.
The car came around a curve and Nigel pointed to an elegant house, majestically resting in front of the river. "Thank God, we have finally arrived."
The van made its way along the wooded path and Andy lost her breath at the natural beauty surrounding them. After parking in front of the main house, she opened the driver's door, inhaling deeply as the fresh air filled her lungs. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Miranda also leaving the car and instinctively reached for her, marveling at the editor's bright smile as she took the offered hand.
They arrived at midday and Andy's mind was tired from the ride and from the models fussing around when they stopped the vans. Nigel barked orders about the equipment while Andy admired the place. Her best friend was right: the place was really beautiful and would provide the perfect location for the shoot for the autumn collection.
The property received tourists this time of year, offering a romantic spot with the wooden cabins spread along the riverbank, and a rustic, yet comfortable atmosphere. Andy looked around and sighed, thinking about how she would love to share one of those cabins with Miranda, having dinner in front of a roaring fire and making sweet passionate love until the sun rose. She discreetly observed the older woman, who was also admiring her surroundings, even though her face didn't betray any emotions.
A voice calling her name pulled her from her daydreaming and she turned to be greeted by Susan's stunning smile. The model's blonde hair was put up in a loose ponytail, highlighting her deep green eyes and her soft features.
"Hey, Andy! How are you doing? I tried to talk to you back in New York, but your van had already left when I arrived at Runway. I would have loved to have you driving for me."
Aware of Miranda's annoyed glare, Andy was slightly embarrassed by Susan's flirtatious tone. Turning her attention to Susan, she received a tight hug. "Hi, Susan! I´m sorry we didn't talk before we left. Miranda was ready to leave and you know how impatient she is. So, I decided to come earlier."
Susan released her, but kept her hands on Andy's forearms. "Well, I missed you a lot. I just arrived from London yesterday and packed for this trip."
Andy offered a friendly smile, but looked over Susan's shoulder into intense blue eyes. Ignoring Miranda's presence, Susan opened her purse. "I brought something for you."
Susan looked around and pulled Andy away from the group, smiling warmly as she placed a little box in the junior editor's hands. "I hope you like it."
Still feeling Miranda's gaze, Andy took the gift. She was slightly embarrassed by Susan´s attention since she didn't want to give Miranda the wrong impression about their relationship, but didn't want to hurt the model's feelings either. Opening the small package, she gasped when she saw the little velvet box that couldn't contain anything but jewelry. Before opening it, she looked at Susan's hopeful eyes. Since they had become friends, the model constantly gave her small gifts, never once coming back from her travels without bringing Andy something. This time, however, Andy feared that the gift could mean something more. "Oh, Susan, you shouldn't have! This looks really expensive!"
Susan snorted, dismissing her words with an annoyed wave of her hands. "Don't tell me what I should have bought or not! I love to give you beautiful things and you know it! I bought it in London for you, because I couldn't think about anyone else. You haven't opened it yet, and I want to know if you like it."
Andy opened the little box and her eyes widened when she saw a beautiful pair of emerald earrings. It was expensive jewelry and Andy was torn between the need to be grateful and the worry that Susan would take this as an encouragement of a relationship. Andy was aware that Miranda could still hear their conversation and she gave Susan a shy smile.
"Thank you, Susan, they're really beautiful!"
Susan smiled as if she was also receiving a present. "Would you wear them? For me?"
Andy nodded and Susan reached for the earrings, putting them in the young editor's ears, as an obviously furious silver-haired editor looked at them with a dangerous gleam in her eyes. Andy smiled again and Susan gave her a kiss on the cheek, murmuring soft words. "I was wondering if you thought about our conversation."
Andy looked again at Miranda and the older woman tilted her head, as if considering what she was hearing. Embarrassed, Andy cleared her throat and averted her gaze, thinking of a polite way to answer the question.
Before traveling to London, Susan had called, asking Andy to give her a chance, since her relationship with Nate was finished. Andy had promised they would talk when she came back, but she was still uncertain about her decision. Giving a chance to Susan would mean forgetting Miranda and Andy was not prepared yet to give up her hopes that maybe someday the editor would see her as something more than a mere co-worker. Susan's eyes were looking intently at her, waiting for an answer, but before she could say anything, she saw Miranda behind Susan's back. Miranda eyes were hard as she approached quietly, reminding Andy of a wild predator. She looked at Susan with a superior smirk, but ignored her, speaking directly to Andy in a soft tone.
"Andrea, I need you with Nigel and Emily. We still have some details to set before the shoot."
Looking at Susan, her tone changed immediately, from warm to frosty in a second. "Considering we are here for the purpose of work, I imagine you should be preparing yourself with the others, Susan. Serena is waiting for the models in make up. I suppose you should be there already."
Susan widened her eyes, feeling that there was something more in Miranda's tone than simple concern about the shoot. Nodding, she looked at Andy again with a smile, giving her a last peck on the right cheek. "See you later, beautiful."
Susan left and Andy looked at Miranda, just to see the woman had already gone, with long strides, giving harsh orders to Emily. She huffed, looking at Nigel who came up in a hurry, giving her some keys.
"Here you go, Six, the key to our rooms. Please take our suitcases there, because the devil is in a bad mood today. Our lovely boss wants to start the shoot immediately to catch some photos with this light. Don't worry, I'll only need you later, so you can freshen up while we make the last arrangements."
Sighing, Andy took the keys and her suitcase from the van, heading for her cabin.
Nigel was running from around the room, looking for some notes. Behind the closed door, he yelled at Andy, who was taking a quick shower, "Hey, Six! Did you see where I put the notes we made in the car? Miranda will have my head if I don't find them!"
He heard her muffled voice from the shower. "I believe Emily has them. Stop freaking out!"
He left the room in a hurry and five minutes later, Miranda knocked on the door, looking for him. Annoyed at his absence, she sat in one of the chairs, waiting for the notes. She heard some noise coming from the bathroom, but before she could ask if it was Nigel, the door opened and Miranda was stunned by the vision before her.
Andrea was wearing a very, very small towel around her body, her beautiful hair still wet from the shower, dripping water drops down a beautiful shoulder and back. The piece of fabric barely covered her ass, giving the editor a wonderful view of long, toned legs. The young woman didn't look around, but spoke, presuming Nigel was there, listening to her. With her back to Miranda, she was chatting on about something concerning Serena and Emily while opening her suitcase. The older woman was curious about her relaxed manner, so different from her serious demeanor around her when they worked together. Miranda was just looking at her, stunned, as Andy picked up some underwear from her suitcase, her melodious and amused voice filling the room as she made a joke about her friends.
The older woman didn´t know what to do, not just because she loved seeing Andrea so unguarded and relaxed, but especially because she had no strength to let the girl know of her presence.
Realizing that Nigel hadn't yet answered her, Andy turned around, almost dropping her towel when she saw blue eyes looking inquisitively at her. "Oh my God, Miranda! You scared me!"
Looking around she frowned, noting Miranda's flushed face. The older woman was probably embarrassed at her state of undress. "Please, tell me I didn't mistake my room. It wouldn't be the first time. I'm so sorry."
Feeling her cheeks burning, Miranda attempted to gather her wits in an effort to try not to show her arousal. Usually she would cover her embarrassment with her cold demeanor and harsh retort, but she controlled herself, not wanting to jeopardize the closer relationship they were building recently.
"Oh no, you're in your own room. I'm here waiting for Nigel and I'm probably the one who should apologize, as I am invading your privacy. I need the shoot plans, but I didn't find him when I came in and presumed he was the one in the bathroom, so I waited."
Averting her gaze, the older woman avoided Andrea's eyes, certain the young woman would see the desire she felt. Andy was looking at her intensely, trying to understand Miranda's obvious embarrassment. There should be no reason to the older woman feel uncomfortable before a half naked woman, after all, she was used to seeing naked female bodies every single day. Trying to take charge of the situation and cover her own shyness, Andy said, "I believe he is looking for Emily, she is the one with the notes you need."
Miranda stood up, nervous for the first time in years. She couldn't remember a single moment when anyone, including her ex-husbands, made her lose track of her thoughts. "Oh, I should be going then. You need some time to prepare for the shoot."
Turning abruptly, Miranda crashed into Nigel, who was entering the room with a folder in hand. Sensing that something was off, he looked from one woman to the other, confused. Miranda found her voice and took the folder from his hands.
"There you are! I thought you drowned in the river. I was ready to send out a rescue party to find you." She passed him, shutting the door behind her back.
Smiling, Nigel looked at his beautiful and practically naked friend.
"In twenty years I have never once seen that woman flushed. If it's not love my friend… then, I'm really, really lost here…"