Title: Family Tree
Author: Allaine
Disclaimers: None of these characters belong to me. Miranda and Andrea belong to - you probably already know who. Other characters belong to - identity to be divulged later.
Spoilers: Takes place after the end of the DWP movie.
Summary: Andrea is made an offer she can't refuse when she's invited to dinner with the scariest member of the Priestly family. And Miranda.

It was upon passing the Elias-Clarke Building that Andrea had a crazy thought (not knowing that would be the first of many crazy thoughts that night would have). She could see the lights on in Miranda's office above her. As a reporter she worked horrendously long hours, but clearly Runway continued to demand even higher standards from its staff, even its editor.

That was when she had the crazy thought that she really ought to thank Miranda.

Even she herself recognized a moment later that it was an insane notion. The chances of receiving a simple "you're welcome" were somewhere below zero. More likely she would have Andrea expelled from the building - through a window - for wasting her time on frivolous, sentimental nonsense. Or, before Andrea could even open her mouth, Miranda would assume that she had finally regained her senses and come to beg for her job back. Only, Miranda would assure her, that ship had sailed, and Andrea could only weep bitter tears as she drowned her sorrows in girly drinks and looked ahead to a future of being trampled during press conferences.

But that was all right - sort of. It didn't matter that Miranda wouldn't be able to appreciate Andrea's gratitude. She wasn't really doing it for her former boss.

Andrea was doing it for herself.

She was doing it so she could look back and know she'd offered thanks for all Miranda had done for her. Whatever else her "experience" at Runway had been like, Andrea had learned a great deal there. Miranda had also helped her get her job with the Mirror, and the timing of Andrea's departure had also saved her relationship with Nate. Granted, several months later it had ended for the second and last time, but this time it had ended for the right reasons. They parted not because of her job, but because they simply weren't right for each other. She could stop feeling guilty about losing him the first time because she was "in a relationship" with Runway. So you could say that Miranda had even done her a favor by pushing her away in Paris.

Even if Miranda couldn't enjoy it - or admit it, anyway - Andrea would feel good telling her. And it was very nearly a full year since Andrea started her new job, so it was almost like an anniversary. So she made a brief detour for the radioactively hot coffee Miranda preferred, and then made her way into Elias-Clarke. There the security guard took one look at her face, another at the Starbucks logo, and waved her by. He didn't even ask where she'd been for the past year. "Secret mission for Ms. Priestly," she could have said. He might have believed her.

As Andrea exited the elevator, though, she suddenly became tentative. Feeling good about yourself was all well and good, but was it worse the bad feelings that Miranda would probably inflict her with? To make matters worse, the hallways were dark and quiet. The only real light came from Miranda's office, and Andrea could hear low murmurings inside.

Andrea had a sudden flashback to the first time she'd brought the Book to Miranda's home, and found herself intruding on Miranda arguing with Stephen. What if this wasn't work? What if this was a private moment for Miranda?

What if she ran for the fire stairs now? Could she make it down before Miranda arrived by elevator?

Then she heard the sound of footsteps coming from Miranda's office. "Shit," she hissed, realizing that they must have heard the ping of the elevator doors. Maybe she'd just leave the coffee . . .

Still, it wasn't like she worked there any longer. What could Miranda really do to her?

She choked back a laugh. God, what couldn't she?

And then Miranda appeared. She looked exactly like always - irritated.

"Andrea?" she asked, sounding oddly unsure.

"Uh, yeah. Hey," Andrea said nervously. "I was just passing - I mean, I saw - I thought - "

"If your grasp of the English language has regressed this much, Andrea, I can't imagine how you can continue to write words for a living."

Andrea sighed. "I saw your lights were on. Here." She handed the coffee over. Miranda looked at it like she didn't know what it was. "I know this will sound crazy, because it sounds crazy even to me, so it'll probably sound completely insane to you, but I saw you were here and I just wanted - "

"Whatever you want," Miranda said menacingly, "what I want is for you to leave - now." She glanced over her shoulder. "Since you always seemed to expect me to make every little decision for you, let me make this for you. You will not argue with me. You will turn around, ring for the elevator, go home, and never come back. Did you get that?"

"Miranda - "

"That's all, Andrea."


Miranda's nostrils flared in a sign of extreme exasperation, but Andrea didn't even notice as a third woman joined them. For an instant she saw the red hair and thought it was Emily, but the hair was where the similarity ended. Evidently she wasn't afraid to eat, for she was both athletic and voluptuous, her breasts almost spilling out of her green top. Her hair was a more vivid share, and the curls spilled across her shoulders. There was one other major difference as well.

"So this is the An-dray-uh I've heard so much about," the stranger said.

"You're green," Andrea said blankly.

It was true. The woman's skin was a bright shade of green, almost as bright as the clothes she had on. Andrea's brain hazarded a guess that this was some kind of model who had worn green body paint for a recent shoot, although why she'd be alone with Miranda escaped her.

The woman laughed contemptuously. "Well, Miranda, I can see why you were upset to see her go. Nothing gets past her," she added, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

Miranda glared back at the other woman. "I believe you've told me stories of your own about incompetent assistants," she said icily.

"True," the woman admitted, even as her piercing green eyes transfixed Andrea.

Her intimidating stare pinned Andrea the way Miranda's could, but there was something else in the stranger's eyes. Something cold, and wary, and bloodthirsty, and held in check only barely. Andrea had the sense that the woman was waiting for her to cause offense in some way, so she would have the excuse to fall upon her and tear her apart.

It was those eyes, in conjunction with the skin, that forced Andrea to realize that this woman was no supermodel. This was the world's most prominent eco-terrorist and one of New York's most homicidal psychopaths, someone who would have no qualms about killing her.

"Oh my God," Andrea said. "You're Poison Ivy."

Dimly she wondered if not recognizing her instantly would be considered an insult. She hoped not.

Poison Ivy just smiled oddly. "Miranda, it seems we both know each other, yet we've never been properly introduced."

Miranda sighed. "Pamela, this is Andrea Sachs, my traitorous ex-assistant. Andrea, this is Pamela Priestly." She grimaced. "My sister."

Andrea looked from Miranda to Ivy and back again. There wasn't much of a physical resemblance, and Andrea wasn't entirely sure how Miranda avoided the "green gene", but all things considered, it wasn't the most unbelievable thing she'd heard that night. She could certainly picture Miranda as a crime lord in another life.

Still, one thing bothered her. "I've seen her real name in the papers before," she said to Miranda. "I'm sure it wasn't Priestly."

"Somebody thought it would be a marvelous idea if their initials were P.I. and dropped a few letters from their last name," Miranda said dryly. "At least this person was sensible enough to realize that 'Isley' sounded better than 'Iestly'. This also had the fortunate side effect that nobody knew she was my sister."

Ivy scoffed. "Please! I changed my name so nobody would know YOU were MY sister. Do you know what it would do to my reputation," she asked Andrea, "if people knew I was related to Miranda Priestly?"

"You changed your name before I became a public figure. And anyway, I fail to see why that would be a problem," Miranda replied casually. "Whereas my status as Editor-in-Chief would be jeopardized if people knew my sister was a mentally ill - "

"That my sister was a greedy, heartless - " Ivy shot back.

"Homicidal maniac with the ridiculous notions - "

"Profiteering prima donna with blood on her hands - "

"That the life of a plant is somehow more precious than that of a human being - "

"Whose magazine promotes the sale of fragrances made from the corpses of billions of flowers - "

"And that wearing nothing but green for the past fifteen years is not a sign of her complete lack of fashion sense and color coordination."

"And who is bigoted against freesias!"

Andrea was quite definitely getting a headache. "Okay, so you don't want anybody to know," she finally said. "Why are you telling me now?"

"It wouldn't have been necessary if Pamela had simply remained in my office like an intelligent person."

"I heard the name 'Andrea' several times. Miranda had spoken of you with something approaching praise in the past, and considering my dear sister had complained many times in the past that finding competent help was impossible, I was beginning to think that she had made you up."

"You thought I was making her up?"

"Well, people seem to think I'm crazy, and I'm told insanity is hereditary. I had to see proof of her existence with my own eyes."

Miranda opened her mouth to reply, but then with a visible effort restrained herself. "This infantile bickering is getting us nowhere. Andrea, while I am sure that as a journalist, your fingers are itching as we speak to write an expose for your little rag - "

"I wouldn't - " Andrea started to say, shocked that Miranda thought she would cause that kind of trouble for her.

"I am sure," Miranda went on, ignoring her, "that you are not unaware of what I can do to you if you print one rambling word about our secret. Perhaps you can also try to imagine what my sister could do to you?"

Andrea swallowed as her eyes widened. She did NOT in fact try to imagine. "Torture" and "death" were quite enough for her.

"I tell you this for your own good, of course," Miranda added. "I wouldn't want you to die, you know."

Ivy chuckled.

"What? You don't believe me?" Miranda asked angrily.

"No, I believe you."

Miranda narrowed her eyes hatefully at her sister.

"No, trust me, I would never breathe a word of this to anyone," Andrea assured them. "You didn't have to - well, say what you said."

"Naturally. You do have a modicum of intelligence," Miranda agreed.

Thanks for the compliment, Miranda. "So, since I'm interrupting, I should probably go now," Andrea said.

"Oh, but I was hoping you'd join us for dinner at Miranda's house tomorrow night," Ivy said.

Andrea guessed that the look of surprise on Miranda's face was similar to her own. "I couldn't - "

"Of course you couldn't, Andrea," Miranda interrupted, "because there will be no such dinner."

"I thought you could let me spend a couple nights at your place," Ivy said.

"You thought you could 'hide out'," Miranda retorted. "I cannot imagine that your doctors are so hopelessly incompetent that they would let you out of the asylum. I can imagine, however, that they are incompetent enough to allow you to escape again."

Considering the frequency with which people escaped from New York's hospital for the criminally insane, so could Andrea.

"I haven't seen my nieces for such a while now."

"Two years and four months. They do NOT miss you."

"Hey, don't blame me for not being around. You made it quite clear that you didn't want that worthless man you married to know about me. When I was supposed to visit? Oh, and was I right about him or what?"

"You think all men are like that. A broken clock is right sooner or later."

Ivy just smiled wickedly. "You wouldn't want me to decide Runway deserves to be punished after all, would you?" she asked.

Miranda glared at her sister, frustrated. "Fine. Yes, sis, the girls and I would love for you to visit for a couple days."

"Marvelous! I'll bring presents for them."

"Try something other than a mutated plant next time. The Venus flytrap you left the last time attempted to eat Patricia."

"You should have let it. How else is it supposed to grow up big and strong enough to consume burglars?"

Andrea choked on that.

"Don't worry, Andrea, I haven't forgotten about you. You'll join us for dinner tomorrow?"

Andrea looked almost beseechingly at Miranda.

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Why do you want her to come for dinner? You barely know her."

"But Miranda, that's exactly why I want her to come. I want to understand why she had your panties in such a knot last year in Paris. Why you asked me if I - "

"Fine," Miranda said quickly. "Andrea, I trust your table manners have not degenerated TOO much in the last year?"

Andrea blinked. This had happened way too quickly. Dinner plans had been made for her before she knew it, and a convicted murderess would be sitting at the table. And what had Miranda asked Ivy that made her give in? It wasn't like she was afraid of her sister harming her or her children.

Was she?

Suddenly she wanted to be there. She had an inexplicable urge to be there to help keep Miranda and the twins safe from an unpredictable lunatic. What help she could possible give, she didn't know. But her protectiveness outweighed her fear. "My table manners are fine. Should I bring something?"

"Just your smile," Ivy said, grinning.

"Wear something suitable," Miranda said, ignoring her.

"Suitable? Suitable for - "

"For God's sake, do I have to micromanage every little detail, Andrea? Just avoid any shade of green."

Andrea found herself outside a few minutes later without any injuries, life-threatening or otherwise. She supposed it constituted a miracle that she hadn't been drawn and quartered by the sisters.

She should have reeled at the thought. Miranda Priestly and Poison Ivy sisters? Next Nigel would say the Riddler was his brother!

But in the wake of the impromptu dinner invitation, she had to prioritize. Ivy being Miranda's sister was a minor shock. Ivy sitting across from her at dinner tomorrow night was a much bigger problem. The woman was allegedly one of the world's foremost experts on poisons. There was no telling what exotic toxin might be in her food that night.

The operative word there was "allegedly". Andrea had only lived in New York City for a couple years now, and she didn't have the same familiarity with the city's most infamous criminals that the natives did. So instead of heading back to her apartment, she turned around and went back to work.

There the archives yielded up a wealth of information, but unsurprisingly, nothing about Ivy's background. It was as if she materialized from the earth itself. There were only theories that she must have looked like everyone else at one point in her life, but that some major transformative event turned her into someone wholly unrecognizable.

Since her first appearance in Central Park years ago, however, Poison Ivy had been blamed for the deaths of eight people and millions of dollars in property damage. It was believed that many more deaths had only been prevented by the quasi-mythical "Batman". Her criminal record included murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, conspiracy, kidnapping, burglary, theft, and involuntary manslaughter. Some reporters claimed was her biggest crime was convincing doctors she was criminally insane, thus enabling her to avoid serving time at Riker's Island. Instead she was committed to Bellevue, which she had escaped from time and time again. Crazy? Crazy like a fox, they argued.

Andrea had looked into her eyes. Ivy was definitely crazy. She stridently claimed that plant life was worth just as much as human life, that she preferred plants to people, and that humanity had to be stopped before "herbocide" inevitably succeeded in murdering every last plant on Earth. Her main targets were corporations in such industries as lumber, paper, oil, construction and, yes, cosmetics and fragrances. Most of her victims either owned these companies or worked for them.

Ivy's genius lay in botany and toxicology. Like a modern-day witch she had concocted all manner of plant-based potions. She had even genetically engineered certain plants to make them more deadly. Some of her creations killed in increasingly devious ways. Others had more insidious effects, including a powder which, when inhaled, left her victim unable to refuse any demand she made, and a lipstick which gave her kiss a paralytic effect. She was also, for reasons unknown to medicine, immune to poisons herself. It was believed that her immunity was linked to her skin color, but doctors had no explanation for that either, and Ivy had never spoken of her youth.

And she had escaped from Bellevue yet again, just thirty-six hours ago. Also escaping was a fellow female patient, Harleen Quinzell. Quinzell, better known as "Harley Quinn", had worked together with Ivy on several occasions in the past. The stories made her sound like a somewhat dimwitted blonde who had violent mood swings. Bizarrely, Andrea found on the Internet an old Page Six column that had claimed Quinzell was cheating on her employer/lover, a madman known as the Joker, with Ivy.

The anonymous scribe turned up dead three days later, and Page Six instituted a policy of never covering dangerous criminals ever again.

This was Miranda's sister, who had taken an interest in her.

If only there wasn't a waiting period for handguns.

Andrea stared at her office computer, cognizant of only one thing. There was no way this day could be allowed to turn into night. Not when night meant dinner, and dinner meant what she already internally thought of as "the Last Supper". So obviously anything that could conceivably make the clock move faster was to be avoided.

What was the most boring assignment on her plate right now? Or maybe she should look over her health insurance information.

The one thing she wanted that she couldn't have was time alone with Miranda BEFORE dinner. There were all sorts of things she needed to know before dinner with Nature's answer to Osama Bin Laden, and newspaper archives could give her a fraction of the answers. Miranda was the key, and there was no way - what was she going to do, stroll up to Emily's desk and ask if she had free time? When did Miranda EVER have free time?

Phone call, hah, that was rich.

"Hello?" Andrea asked a second later, as her cell phone proved once again it was a first cousin to the Devil. Speak of the cell phone . . .

" . . . Andrea?"

Andrea's eyes turned wide. "Em?"

"Bloody hell - so we're clear, I am not enjoying this discussion."

"Crystal," Andrea said blankly. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Get over here right now for starters," Emily replied, sounding extraordinarily stressed. Just another day at Runway.

"Oh," Andrea said. "She finally arranged for that firing squad, huh?"

"One can only dream. Miranda was quite insistent that you get here immediately, and I would like to reinforce her belief that I am marginally competent by successfully luring you back here. So please," she said, now sickeningly sweet, "get off your arse and get over here."

"All right, I'm going, I'm going." Andrea paused. She had been about to ask about Starbucks. I do NOT work there any more.

Emily grunted and hung up the phone. Andrea wondered if she forgot about the coffee too.

Andrea was relatively sure that Miranda had insisted she come. So why did she look so pissed?

There were contributing factors, of course. She was harboring a fugitive in her home. Said fugitive was her sister, who Miranda evidently didn't get along with and who happened to be a psychopath. And joining them for dinner that night would be the former second assistant who betrayed her. Miranda loved being in control, and all of this showed how events had spiraled out of her control.

Even so, she seethed more than Andrea had suspected. As if Andrea's very presence across from her desk with the door closed offended her every sensibility.

Whatever Miranda's reasons were for calling her, they had to be a necessary evil, and she was angry to be reminded of the upcoming fiasco. That was probably it. Hopefully.

"Tonight couldn't be helped," Miranda murmured, irritated. "Of course, you arrived at an ungodly hour with awful timing for no good reason whatsoever. Thus making a bad situation worse. And she suggested dinner because of you, because she wants to - other than that, this isn't your fault."

Andrea swallowed.

"Therefore," Miranda went on, "since this ISN'T your fault, and since I would prefer not to have your corpse in my home tomorrow morning, I will be enlightening you as to a few things about my sister and I. And you will remember everything for the duration of tonight, and then FORGET THEM."

"Okay," Andrea said slowly. This was what she had told herself she needed a short time ago. So she should be relieved right now, not terrified.

Miranda sighed. "I'm sure you're wondering why we look so - different."

"The thought had crossed - "

"No, no," Miranda interrupted. "No talking."

Andrea shut up.

"Part of the reason for our striking dissimilarities is that we're not actually sisters."

For a horrified moment, Andrea thought that Poison Ivy was so insane, she'd decided for herself that she was Miranda Priestly's sister, and that Miranda had no choice but to humor her.

"That does not mean we are half-sisters, and she was fathered by some kind of humanoid frog. For the first twenty years of her life, Pamela had the same skin color as any other woman in the Priestly family. In fact, there were many who said how alike we were. I don't know where they got such a ridiculous idea."

Andrea resolutely remained shut-up.

"Anyway, Pamela went off to college. The last time I saw my sister, she was very excited. She was working on some special botanical project with one of her professors, a Jason Woodrue. My sister, always throwing herself headlong into one thing or another," Miranda said ruefully. "She said they could change the world. She was right, I suppose. She changed ours.

"Woodrue performed some kind of genetic experiment on her. I don't know if she agreed to it or not. However it happened, he turned her into Poison Ivy." Miranda looked at her piercingly. "He altered her on a genetic level, do you understand? She is not one hundred percent human. Despite how she looks."

Despite how she looks? They were talking about the green girl, right?

"Of course, Pamela's mind didn't respond well to the physical modifications," Miranda said dryly. "She became erratic, moody, confrontational, and eventually violent. She left before my parents got the nerve to have her sent away. It was very tragic."

Miranda paused. "And every few years, this not-human woman shows up and calls me 'sister'. And I ignore the fact that she's lost enormous chunks of her memories of the first twenty years of her life. Because I have the twins, and I can't be sure that the crazed thing inside her eyes won't hurt them." She leaned over her desk. "I also can't be sure that you won't DO or SAY something tonight that will get the twins hurt either. But I will be as damned close to sure," she hissed.

Andrea didn't swallow a second time. Her throat had closed up. "Miranda, I - "

"Now then," Miranda said, leaning back, all business. "I've prepared a list of topics for you to review. Some of these will not be discussed at the dinner table. For the rest, I've marked what your opinions are for tonight. Later I'll pick something out for you to wear, since certain fabrics are definitely out. Also - "

"But Miranda, I have to get back to the paper. I - "

Miranda looked at her like she was stupid. She probably thought Andrea was. "Just for today, you work for me. I'm sure you haven't forgotten how to behave properly." She gestured at the binder she'd handed Andrea. "Return when you're confident you have that memorized, and then we'll see if I can be confident too."

"But - "

"That's all."

Well, Andrea, you wanted this day to stretch on forever.

"Well," Miranda said irritably, "I've done all I can in such short time. If anything unfortunate happens to you tonight, it's because of a failure on your part."

The way her eyes glittered when she said the word "unfortunate", Andrea halfway believed that it would not be unfortunate for Miranda. Or maybe it was the way Miranda's hands gripped the collar of her blouse like she was trying not to throttle her old assistant.

If Miranda was trying to prepare her for the sheer horror that was to be that evening's dinner by making this day as miserable for Andrea as possible, she had succeeded, as she so often did. Andrea had been banished that morning to her old desk while the new second assistant, a nervous thing named Vivian with the hollow eyes of an air-raid survivor, was sent out of the office on a series of errands. No sooner would she leave bags in Miranda's office than she'd be running out again on a new mission.

Emily had not fared well that day either, frequently staring at Andrea as if Emily were trying to decide if she was a hallucination or the real thing. And which was worse.

Andrea, meanwhile, had been forced to cobble together excuses, half-truths and outright lies to explain to her editor why she would be away from her desk all day. Then she'd been forced to memorize lists like a eighth-grader studying for a Spanish test. Lumbermill operators were murderers. Manufacturers of wooden furniture were no better. ("Why Ilse Koch is pilloried for making lampshades out of skin from human corpses, yet Ikea is lauded for doing practically the same thing, I've never comprehended" was a newspaper quote from Ivy which Miranda had "helpfully" included.) Tobacco companies were evil, just not for the reasons everyone thought. The single greatest threat to the world was men.

Other parts were trickier. The consumption of fruits and vegetables was okay, since Nature intended for them to be eaten by animals so that the seeds would eventually be excreted elsewhere. So produce markets and the growers who supplied them were technically safe. The makers of juices and seedless jellies, on the other hand, were not so lucky.

Most importantly, Andrea was to agree with all of Pamela's opinions. She wouldn't believe Andrea, but at least she couldn't accuse her of being rude.

Then Andrea had been tested. Miranda had evidently missed her true calling as the most hated teacher in school. Eventually her knowledge was deemed "barely adequate". There was no sense of achievement for Andrea, just a nagging feeling that whatever she saw in the mirror, she was really only three inches tall.

This was followed by Miranda having the Closet - evacuated was probably the right word. Miranda and Andrea entered, and a few moments later everyone else fled like moneylenders leaving the Temple. Andrea, on the other hand, felt like the convict being stripped and hosed down before being taken to his cell. The closed doors of the Closet might as well have been iron bars, trapping her inside as Miranda looked for an outfit for that night. It was a humiliating experience for Andrea, as she spent much of the time in her underwear while Miranda hunted for clothes which both she and her deranged sister might find acceptable. And, of course, it had to be something Andrea could squeeze her size-six frame into. More than once Miranda made some cutting remark about her figure if she failed to fit into something. She never failed to bring a flush to Andrea's cheeks.

The only reason Andrea put up with it all was that Miranda was ostensibly doing it for her own good. Otherwise Andrea would have told her off. Totally. Right.

This sounded so weak even in her own mind that Andrea found herself screwing up the courage to actually say something back to Miranda once they were back in her office. "I'm sure I'll be all right tonight," she said. "I mean, you can't be saying that she's more intimidating than you, can you?"

Miranda's eyes widened briefly. Her hands tightened on Andrea's shirt, and her lips parted - was that a snarl? Andrea thought Miranda looked like she was about to rip her throat out with her teeth. Good idea telling her off, Andy.

"Miranda, I'm back. The shoot, well, it was . . . "

Nigel froze as they looked at him. He looked back for a moment. "Please tell me I didn't just dream the past year," he said finally. "That would be the longest nightmare ever."

"Hi, Nigel," Andrea said hesitantly. "Um, I'm just - "

Miranda let go of her abruptly. "On assignment."

"On assignment," Nigel said. "She's writing an article for Runway? At Vivian's desk?"

Emily must have called him, Andrea realized. She probably called him at the first opportunity to sniff him out. Was Andrea coming back? Was she coming back as first assistant? Had Emily been fired? All the questions Andrea had seen in the first assistant's eyes, but which Emily had been too nervous to ask.

Miranda smiled at Andrea in her best impression of a crocodile. "It's a personal project of mine. A great opportunity for her if she succeeds. A great deal of satisfaction for me if she fails. I think articles should be rejected face-to-face, don't you?"

Andrea smiled weakly. Why did this sound suspiciously like some kind of revenge fantasy Miranda had entertained in the past, a variation on the Harry Potter manuscript mission she'd been given last year?

"Mm-hm," Nigel said, his eyes sweeping over Andrea's outfit. "Well, at least she's still dressing like next month's issue," he added dryly.

Miranda sighed. "It's past time you were out of my hair, anyway, Andrea. Go, shoo. And if you get even one thing wrong - " she said warningly.

"Right, horrible things, torture, death, I got it," Andrea muttered.

Nigel blinked.

"No later than eight tonight," Miranda reminded her.

"Yes, Miranda."

Miranda paused, then chuckled. "Well, Andrea, I suppose you never expected to utter those words again, did you?"

Andrea's cheeks reddened. All she could do was scurry from the room before she heard the dreaded "That's all". Miranda was right in so many ways. Almost from the moment she'd arrived she'd slipped, for all intents and purposes, right back into her old role as the second assistant. It had been so easy just submitting to her will again. Extraordinary circumstances, Andy. After today it'll never happen again, she told herself.

"You've made setting people up to fail into an art form, Miranda," she heard Nigel say behind her.

Andrea shuddered. For all she knew, that was what Miranda was doing - setting her up to provoke Poison Ivy's wrath that night. But Miranda didn't hate her THAT much.

She hoped.

It didn't calm Andrea's nerves one bit that night when the front door to Miranda's townhouse opened, revealing - nothing. Nothing but a darkened entryway. It made her think of bears and dragons and other creatures that lived in caves and ate the unwary.

"Why, Andrea, so good to see you again," Poison Ivy's voice said. "Won't you come in? And close the door behind you."

Slowly Andrea entered Miranda's home. Taking a deep breath, she turned around and closed the door.

There. She was committed. Like Ivy should have been.

The hall suddenly lit up, and Andrea started.

"You'll forgive the drama," Ivy said, dressed much like she was the night before - green, tight, and very revealing. The only difference was she'd traded in her tights for a skirt that ended above the knees. Andrea was certain that Miranda would never be caught dead in an outfit like this. "But I can't chance being seen from the street, and my sister is a bit - occupied."

"Occupied?" Like, in the kitchen occupied, or bound and gagged occupied?

"Cooking. She has this odd fixation on preparing all our meals herself whenever I visit," Ivy said idly. Andrea could see the contemptuous amusement in her eyes. "Such sisterly devotion, wouldn't you say?"

"Yeah, definitely," Andrea agreed. Just humor her and don't stop.

Ivy's eyes raked over her clothes. "Such impeccable taste," she said after a moment. "And no synthetics, that's refreshing. You wouldn't believe how many people don't even realize the damage they're doing to the plants around them."

Andrea nodded. "You, um, look very nice too."

Ivy brightened. "Why, thank you, Andrea. Of course I hear that all the time from males, filthy pigs, always obsessed with rutting, always thinking with their penises. It's much nicer to hear it from a fellow woman. I hope you're not dating some man, are you?"

Andrea really, really hoped that Ivy wasn't interpreting this as a kind of flirtation. "No, I'm single."

She tried not to stiffen as Ivy suddenly took her by the arm and tucked it under hers. "Excellent, then. Just for tonight, you can be my date. I can't help wanting to show up my sister," she said naughtily. "She's certainly unattached right now."

It suddenly occurred to Andrea that avoiding death at Ivy's hands would not be the real challenge that night. The challenge was not being crushed to death between the two sisters. And I won't even get a story out of this.

"Miranda dear, it seems our guest has finally arrived," Ivy said, tugging Andrea along beside her as they entered the kitchen.

Miranda looked up from something she was making at the stove. Her lip curled into a sneer as her eyes took in the grip Ivy had on Andrea's arm. "Yes, well, when she's told to be somewhere at a certain time, generally she does it. It's when she takes her own initiative that her timing falls apart."

Andrea winced. Here was yet another complication about dinner. She was going to see more of Miranda's home tonight than she'd seen on dozens of Book deliveries. Miranda would probably see this as some kind of forced invasion. Just something else guaranteed to heighten Miranda's hostility towards her. "Hi, Miranda," she said softly.

"I hope Andrea can sit across from me," Ivy said. "She's such a lovely girl to look at, and I want to get to know everything about her."

Miranda narrowed her eyes at her sister. "By all means, sit wherever you like, Andrea. Pamela, please go upstairs and let the girls know that it's time to come down. Dinner will be ready soon."

"Of course. I always enjoy time alone with my nieces. I do hope you're able to enjoy my gift together." Disengaging from Andrea, much to her relief, Ivy turned and left the kitchen.

"I'm sorry," Andrea said once she was gone. "I don't know what that was all about."

"It's perfectly obvious to me," Miranda replied venomously.


Miranda paused for a moment, letting her face become blank. "Honestly, Andrea, you're supposed to be a bright girl. I don't see why I should have to explain it to you."

Andrea sighed. It would be a long night. "She didn't get you another plant, did she?"

"No," Miranda said, her lip twitching. "We received three tickets to an off-Broadway production of 'Little Shop of Horrors'. Vastly superior to the movie, she tells me, with a happier ending."

She hadn't seen the movie in some time, but Andrea hazarded a guess that the "happier ending" was for the giant carnivorous plant. "Oh. Well, that's nice."

"Nice," Miranda echoed mockingly, shaking her head. "I hope you find being her dinner date equally nice, Andrea."

Andrea turned pink. Suddenly she remembered that Page Six story, the one about Ivy having an affair with a female accomplice. "But - she can't be thinking that - "

"My sister is insane, Andrea. Did we not have this discussion? She could be thinking anything right now."

Pink briefly became red before Andrea's face turned near-white. "Oh."

"Just don't let her feed you. I'm not leaving her alone with the food, but even I cannot work miracles."

"Here they are!" Ivy said brightly as she returned with Miranda's twin daughters in tow. Even a year ago, Andrea would have been very hard-pressed to identify which was Cassidy and which was Caroline. Now she had no idea. All she knew was that both girls looked uneasy, and that neither seemed surprised to see her. Evidently they'd received coaching of their own.

"Girls, say hello to our guest. I'm certain I raised you better than this."



Andrea tried to smile normally. "Er, hello Caroline. Cassidy. You both look ni - pretty tonight," she said, almost using the word "nice" again. She caught a fleeting smirk run across Miranda's face.

"Yes, they'll grow up to be beauties, won't they?" Ivy agreed. "Clearly we all inherited our hair color from my great-grandmother."

"Actually," Miranda said thoughtfully, "our grandfather had red hair too at one time. So you really got the gene from him."

Ivy's smile slipped, and Andrea guessed that she liked to pretend that her genetic material was completely man-free. "I really don't remember that, Miranda. His hair was white for as long as I can recall - "

"I've seen the photograps, Pamela. It wasn't always white. Generally people do get older, you know."

Ivy glanced pointedly at Miranda's silver curls. "Yes, they do," she said.

Miranda glared back at her. "So Andrea," she began.

Andrea already didn't like the sound of this. "Yes, Miranda?"

"It must have come as quite a surprise to you to learn that I have an older sister."

Ivy finally took her hands off the shoulders of her nieces as she stiffened in shock. Cassidy and Caroline took the opportunity to "casually" cross the kitchen to where their mother was cooking. They looked like a couple hostages rejoining their fellow prisoners.

"Uh, yes, it was," Andrea said carefully. An older sister? Ivy looked twenty years younger than Miranda's fifty.

And why the hell had Miranda been so worried about her antagonizing Ivy? She just practically called her sister old!

"I remember when I was starting tenth grade just as Pamela went off to college," Miranda went on. "The house seemed SO much quieter."

The look on Ivy's face was positively vicious, and Andrea said the first thing she could think of to lower the tension. "You look beautiful for your, um, age," she said. And cursed herself for not waiting until she thought of a second thing to say.

Ivy, though, chose to focus on the compliment, and her brow unwrinkled. "How very kind of you," she said. "My aging process was slowed by the experiments. I should look like this for a long time yet."

"Yes, just think, Andrea. Someday Pamela could be two or even three hundred years old," Miranda added.

"What did you think of your gift?" Andrea quickly asked the twins, trying to change the subject.

"It's okay," one girl said while her mother and aunt silently looked daggers at each other. "I've never heard of it, but it sounds scary."

"I like scary movies," the other girl said. "Cassidy doesn't like them so much."

"I do too!" Cassidy shot back.

Oh boy, Andrea thought. Red hair isn't all they got from their elders.

"Dinner will be ready shortly," Miranda stated. "Perhaps you should all sit down. Andrea, I expect you to help me serve - "

"Now, Miranda, she's a guest," Ivy said. "Surely you don't expect - "

"I - I don't mind," Andrea said.

"A guest to serve her own dinner? Or are you just trying to keep Andrea all to yourself?" Ivy asked slyly.

Miranda scowled. "Fine," she seethed. "I will serve dinner myself."

Andrea's eyes widened. She wondered when that had happened last. Probably never. Some would probably have paid to see it for themselves. Andrea just looked helplessly over her shoulder at Miranda alone in the kitchen as Ivy led her and the twins to the dining room. Part of her yearned to stay behind and help her. Vestiges of her time as Miranda's assistant, she supposed.

"It's excellent," Andrea said truthfully. She'd had no idea of what to expect from the meal itself, but the lasagna (vegetable, of course) had been surprisingly good. A bigger surprise was Ivy, who had acted relatively normal, encouraging Andrea to dominate the conversation by asking her questions about her work, her family, and her passions. Whether because she had to listen Andrea's rambles, or because she suspected Ivy was scheming something, Miranda grew frostier as dinner progressed.

"Mom's a good cook. She's gotten really good at it," Caroline told her.

Andrea raised an eyebrow at Miranda, who naturally sat at the head of the table. The twins sat on either side of her, while Andrea and Ivy sat across from each other at the other end. Andrea still waited with dread for what she believed to be inevitable, the feeling of Ivy's bare foot running up her ankle.

Miranda made an exasperated noise. "The girls' therapist thought it would be a good bonding exercise if I made dinner for them after Stephen left," she said irritably. "And I never accept a poor performance on my part."

Ivy smiled. "Miranda always hated to lose," she said. "Like you, for example." She gestured at Andrea.

"Beg pardon?"

"She lost you. She's never said how. Tell me, Andrea. You come across as an intelligent young woman, and you've described quite the resume tonight," Ivy continued. "Your career at Runway wouldn't have stopped at second - first assistant, I mean. Why walk away from that opportunity in Paris?"

Andrea froze. That was NOT something she wanted to go into in front of Miranda. She stalled by focusing on something else. "What do you mean, 'first assistant'?" she asked.

"Pamela," Miranda said warningly.

"Oh, she didn't have the chance to tell you?" Ivy asked. "Miranda had made up her mind to promote you to first assistant while she was in Paris. I suppose you left before she could promote you."

Andrea looked at Miranda. She wasn't exactly surprised - Miranda had begun relying on her, not Emily, to a great degree by Fashion Week, and it would be silly for the second assistant to go on having more responsibility and authority than the first - but it felt strange all the same. Part of what she felt, she realized, was disloyalty. She'd mostly managed to avoid that feeling last year, but now it ambushed her. Walking out on Miranda just as she'd been about to reward Andrea? She tried to ignore the feeling, but instead caught the look of wrath on Miranda's face. She appeared to be trying to direct it equally at Ivy and Andrea.

"Mother, may I please be excused?" Cassidy asked with exaggerated politeness.

Getting off the train tracks, Andrea thought enviously as Miranda excused her daughters from the table without even a look at them.

"Obviously it was for the best she left before I could offer her the position," Miranda said icily. "Since she showed how little she deserved it."

"Hm," Ivy said. "That's not the impression I got when we spoke after you got back from Paris."

"Andrea," Miranda said, turning cold eyes on her, "I think you should go now. Thank you for coming, but my sister and I have some things we need to discuss in private."

"In fact," Ivy said, "you wanted quite the favor from me. Which I remember quite clearly, since you NEVER ask me for anything."

Never ask Miranda anything, Andrea thought crazily. Even Miranda had people in her life like that, it seemed.

"Pamela," Miranda said, "stop this now. I didn't invite you to stay so you could - "

"Not harm your family?" Ivy finished, her eyes suddenly becoming green versions of her sister's.

Andrea was paralyzed in her chair. She wasn't sure if she's ingested a slow-acting toxin, or if she was just rooted to her seat. She'd told herself nothing bad would happen that night, because Ivy surely wouldn't REALLY threaten her family. Those illusions now hung in ruins, leaving her motionless.

"I distinctly recall a suggestion on your part that Runway would suffer for it if I didn't extend my hospitality," Miranda retorted angrily.

"Oh, that's right, I'm sorry. You weren't afraid for your children, just for your magazine. Silly me," Ivy sneered.

"Don't you dare sermonize me," Miranda hissed. "You chose your crusade over your family a LONG time ago. No, I meant your NEW family. All those saplings and seedlings of yours, they're your 'babies', aren't they?"

Andrea had a feeling she'd been forgotten. She didn't test it by escaping, though.

"They're being murdered every day!" Ivy snarled. "I'm very sorry, but I had to make a choice, and your feelings had to be sacrificed."

"So you could protect the plants," Miranda said contemptuously. "How well has that worked out for you so far?"

Andrea saw the green in Ivy's face become lighter, almost translucent. "It's not my fault that the entire world is against me," Ivy shot back.

"Or what about your little blonde friend?" Miranda asked. "How well have you protected HER?"

"You leave Harley out of this!" Ivy demanded shrilly. "I've tried everything short of . . . " She stopped suddenly, and flashed a cruel smile at her sister. "Oh, that's very good, Miranda. Trying to distract me from the original question, eh?" She turned to face Andrea, who instinctively cringed back. "After Paris Miranda contacted me. She wanted to know if I could 'whip something up' for her to give YOU."

Andrea gasped and looked at Miranda, whose own face had become bone-white. "You wanted to have me killed?!" she asked, shocked and hurt.

Ivy laughed mockingly.

"Of course not," Miranda said curtly.

"She didn't want you dead, Andrea," Ivy confirmed. "Well, on some level, maybe she did, but she didn't want you poisoned. No, she wanted something else. You're a reporter, Andrea. I'm sure you've done your research. You know the things I'm capable of. Miranda wanted to know if it was 'feasible' to have you drugged in such a way that you would 'reconsider' your resignation."

Andrea stared at her, then Miranda. "She wanted me brainwashed?"

"You can't believe anything my sister says," Miranda said swiftly.

"She did," Ivy said, ignoring Miranda, "but I told her there was no long-term solution for what she was asking. And unfortunately for Miranda, I'm the only person who can tell her 'no'."

Andrea looked into Miranda's eyes, but she didn't even need the proof she saw there. It was exactly the kind of thing Miranda would have wanted. Because Miranda always got what she wanted, even if you didn't want to give it to her. It was what these two women had in common. "My God," she whispered.

Ivy smiled triumphantly at Miranda, who looked like she wanted to strike her.

"I didn't answer your question," Andrea said slowly, looking at Ivy again. She was so hurt by this revelation that she was filled with a desire to hurt Miranda back. All the good things she'd learned about Miranda, the memory of her tired face and her dark robe, vanished with the thought that Miranda was at heart just another madwoman. "Miranda said she saw a lot of herself in me."

"Really?" Ivy asked, raising an eyebrow while Miranda sat motionless. "I must say, I don't see it, but go on. Obviously you were important to her. Naturally you'd remind her of herself, since she's the most important person in her own life."

"And that's why I quit," Andrea replied. "She thinks nothing of betraying people close to her at work, and then she goes home alone. She's unhappy, and so she causes unhappiness in others. I was - I was suddenly possessed by the knowledge that she was the person I never wanted to become. And I saw it was happening anyway. So I walked away."

Miranda conveyed no reaction at all. She'd already sat so stiffly, there was nothing else for her to do other than exploding or falling apart. And she had too much self-control for either of those.

Ivy nodded. "I see now," she said. She didn't smile as she said it. She seemed thoughtful.

"Of course you see," Miranda said. She turned her head toward Ivy like a living dummy. Her voice was deadly as any words she'd used in her conference room. "She just described you to a tee."

Andrea saw the flinch Ivy couldn't suppress. She wondered what equally cutting words Miranda had for her, and her bravado and courage melted away. Her throat dried up, and she stared at Miranda, waiting for the words that would probably end her career. Perhaps her life.

Miranda's eyes glittered as she looked at Andrea. Her lips parted. "I'm going to put the twins to bed now," she said wintrily. "I expect you gone when I get back."

Andrea trembled as Miranda slowly stood and swept out of the dining room like a monarch. Before she could say anything, Ivy rose without a word and stormed out in the other direction.

Alone, she sat there and wondered if she'd become a corpse in Miranda's home after all. Because she felt only dead inside.

Andrea probably should have bolted from the house by now, but she remained alone in Miranda's dining room for a few minutes, waiting for her racing heartbeat to slow down, not to mention her racing thoughts. One minute she'd felt shame triggered by her discovery that she'd walked out on Miranda just as she was about to be promoted. The next minute Miranda was a monster who deserved to be hurt. And one minute after that, Andrea had been terrified of her.

She supposed she'd gotten off easy. Poison Ivy - and Miranda - had limited herself to using words to hurt. But she didn't feel lucky. Perhaps because she'd been gung-ho for this evening to end, and now she was afraid of tomorrow.

Quietly she stood up and slunk towards the entrance. Maybe Miranda wasn't waiting to ambush her on the stairs . . .


Damn it. Close enough. It was Ivy waiting for her instead. She was wearing, bizarrely, a pair of Miranda's reading glasses and looking over them in a perfect imitation of her sister. Under one arm was a thick book, lower-case b. "Come with me," she said.

"Ivy . . . Pamela, please, I just - "

Ivy pursed her lips.

Andrea sighed and followed her. Eventually they arrived at Miranda's study. Ivy shooed her in, closed the door, went to the window, and opened it halfway. Then she reached into her bodice and took out a cigarette.

Gaping at her, Andrea couldn't help herself. "I thought cigarette companies were bad."

Ivy chuckled as she lit it. "It's an herbal cigarette. I make them myself from scratch. It's funny - I smoked Virginia Slims for two years in college. And I've been addicted ever since." She inhaled, then blew smoke out the window. "Psychological, I suppose, since I'm immune to nicotine, and this doesn't have nicotine in it anyway." She put the book on Miranda's desk.

"Please, can't I go?" Andrea asked hopelessly. "Miranda will be back any minute - "

"Miranda will not go anywhere near me tonight," Ivy said. "Trust me, she won't leave her rooms until she hears me go back to mine. We've got time."

Andrea blanched. "Time for what?"

"To talk," Ivy replied. She caught the look on Andrea's face. "Oh, Gaia, calm down. You thought - there's only one for me, and you're not her."

That was some relief, although she was afraid of what she wanted to "talk" about.

Ivy smoked silently for a minute. "Come look at this," she finally said, gesturing to the book. "I found it in the attic. It must be Mother's, Miranda would NEVER do something as domestic as make a photo album."

"Pictures?" Andrea asked, approaching her.

Ivy nodded. "From when we were children. You can see me when I was innocent. Happier." She flipped the cover open.

Andrea gasped. Inside was a black-and-white photograph of two girls. They looked ten and seven, dressed in little bathing suits. It was sweetly, adorably normal, if you ignored the obvious resemblances between the girls and Miranda and Ivy.

"Family reunion at the home of our mother's parents," Ivy observed. "They had a big backyard and a pool." Her face darkened. "Then they died, and the city bought the land. It's an industrial park now. 'Industrial park'. What a sick fucking joke that phrase is. I should go back there . . ." She stopped. "Neither here nor there," she muttered.

Before Andrea knew it, twenty minutes had gone by. Ivy had leafed through pages of photographs, talking about almost every one. By now Andrea knew the faces of Miranda's parents by heart. She hoped Miranda never realized that she knew things about her old boss' childhood that Miranda would probably prefer she didn't. Andrea couldn't help it. And so yet again, her mental image of Miranda changed. Softened, from the manipulative employer from hell into a human being.

Ivy finally closed the album. "Life was - different then. I'm sure neither of us imagined this when we were children," she said.

"How much do you - remember?" Andrea asked, now surprised that Ivy had been able to identify all those pictures. Miranda had described a woman with little memory of her youth.

Ivy chuckled. "As much as anyone else my age does. I suppose Miranda told you otherwise?"

Andrea nodded.

"Yeah, well, there are things Miranda doesn't need to be told."

"Why? I - I think it bothers her that she thinks you don't remember. Wouldn't that be helping her?"

"No," Ivy said flatly. "No, it would not."

Andrea actually found herself glaring at her. "You want to hurt her that much?"

Ivy sighed. "Would it be better for Miranda if she thought the woman capable of such heinous, monstrous acts was her sister, rather than some utterly deranged human-plant hybrid mockery of her sister?"

"You - " Andrea had spent so long taking Miranda's words as gospel that she had to wrestle with what Ivy was saying. "You want her to think her sister is gone," she finally said.

Ivy shrugged and rubbed her cigarette out. "Well, it's as she said. I chose the plants over my family. I made sacrifices. That doesn't mean I'm not unaware of what my family had to go through. That doesn't mean I want to make it even harder for them."

Andrea struggled to reconcile this woman with what she'd been told to expect, not to mention the woman who's sat at the dinner table. To reconcile Pamela with Ivy. "You sound almost sane."

"Not sure if that's an insult or a compliment." Ivy sat down. "I've never accepted that I'm crazy. Oh sure, crazy people always think they're the sane ones. Why should I be any different? I'll admit," she said grudgingly, "that I have some . . . issues. Perhaps my anger management needs work. I can be a trifle sadistic. Maybe a little homicidal. But I'm not schizophrenic. Plants really DO speak to me. It's not voices in my head. I hear them screaming. I remember when I came home and I heard what sounded like thousands of slow-witted children in pain. It was my father mowing the lawn."

"If you say so," Andrea said, disinclined to argue.

Ivy glared at her like she knew she was being humored, but she went on. "I'm not crazy. I'm just very, VERY angry because I've been doing this for years, and no one will believe me. In the end, I'm no different from James Kopp or Eric Rudolph. They killed abortion providers. I killed a man who owned a company that strip-mined forests into oblivion. We did it for the same reason. We saw murders being committed and no one doing anything about it. You can disagree with my methods if you like. But despite what my doctors say, I KNOW the difference between right and wrong."

Andrea didn't bother to point out that Rudolph targeted homosexuals as well. She also suppressed a chill. There was no word to describe Ivy. She probably wasn't "evil". She wasn't exactly "crazy" either. And Andrea didn't want to consider the ramifications of Ivy being "sane". That might lead one to think her killings were justified. "Why are you telling me all this?" she instead asked.

"I don't know, really," Ivy acknowledged. "Maybe I'm tired of being misinterpreted. It's lonely. Like Miranda." She chuckled bitterly. "Poor Miranda."

Ivy, Andrea thought, might be the only other person besides herself who had ever honestly pitied Miranda Priestly.

Ivy wasn't finished though. "You go through life surrounded by fools," she said. "Fools and worse. And you're alone, because none of these people can hold your respect. They can barely hold your attention, except out of some sense of resigned disgust. And you take what you get with a bitter taste in your mouth, because you won't do better. Then suddenly, magically, someone appears. She's different, not like the others. You thought she was just another hopeless incompetent, but she changes, and you find hidden, unexplored depths to her. And life is easier with her at your side, and you start to think, 'This is the person I have been waiting for.' And you plan ahead. You will mold this person who you see yourself within, show them secrets and knowledge. They will be your sidekick, their protege. They will become your friend. They will become - who knows? Maybe you'll be lucky, because she's here, isn't she?"

Andrea was speechless. Yet again. "Ivy," she finally tried to say.

"No, I'm sorry, but you're going to hear all of this, so you'll know why I told you those things at dinner." Ivy smiled thinly. "And then she leaves you. She walks away, and you never see her again. You're alone again. And it leaves you hollow inside. You'll do anything you can to get that person back, but nothing will work, and eventually . . . you let her go." Ivy's smile shriveled and died. "Poor Miranda. All that happened to her - and she doesn't even realize how much worse it could be. At least you walked away and never came back. At least you don't come back again, over and over and over, impossible to refuse, only to leave once more."

The despair was plainly written on Pamela's face. It touched Andrea. "Pamela, I'm sorry."

Like that it was gone again. "For what?" Pamela asked. "You didn't think I was talking about me, did you? I'm perfectly fine. I was merely speaking in hypotheticals."

Andrea just nodded.

Pamela grunted. "Just saying, it could be worse for her." She looked into Andrea's eyes. "Oh wait, but it already is, isn't it? Because now you're back, and already you've rejected her once more."

"What?" Andrea gasped. "No, I haven't done - "

"You came back into her life completely uninvited," Pamela said. "Out of, basically, an affectionate feeling in your heart. And then tonight you let her know exactly what you think of her. Have I gotten any part of that wrong?"

"No," Andrea said. "She hates me, Pamela. She's made it perfectly clear since I showed up that she doesn't want me near."

"Yes, hm, I wonder why the sight of you causes her such pain," Pamela mused.

Andrea was stunned.

"I think I'll let you sort this out yourself now," Pamela added, rising. "Take a few minutes to think it over. Everyone seems to be in agreement that you're a bright girl. You'll figure it out." Without another word she left Andrea alone in the study, closing the door behind her.

It didn't occur to Andrea as she sat down, her legs weak, that there was no longer anything stopping Miranda from finding her there.

"What - are - you - still - doing - here?" Miranda hissed from the study doorway, biting off each word like a piranha consuming a cow.

Andrea started suddenly. She'd practically fallen into a chair as Ivy left the room. For the past twenty-four hours she'd received one shock after another, and she was surprised she was still capable of higher brain functions. Still capable, because Ivy had unhelpfully allowed her to "work out for herself" the latest revelation, and Andrea thought she'd managed it.

Of course, by the time that happened, Miranda had evidently deemed the study safe from her sister's presence. And so there she was with the Book in one arm. That's how lost in her thoughts she'd been, Andrea realized. She hadn't even heard Emily come and go. She received a second realization when she put a hand to her cheek and found she'd been crying.

"I'm sorry," she finally said, when Miranda looked ready to brain her with the Book. "I was all set to leave, but Ivy ambushed me at the door and dragged me in here."

"Hmph," Miranda sneered. "I'm sure you went kicking and screaming. Why? So the two of you could gloat?"


"Don't think I couldn't figure out what you were up to," Miranda shot back. "Here I was trying to protect you from Pamela, and instead you decided you could take your little pot shots at me, safe from my wrath because she was there too. Well, you may have had your fun at my expense, but by tomorrow night you won't have - "

"I'm sorry, Miranda."

"Sorry? Sorry is not good enough, Andrea," Miranda snarled. "Perhaps I'll be satisfied when you're writing obituaries for your little Ohio hometown rag, but - "

"No - I mean yes, I'm sorry for the way I spoke to you," Andrea interrupted, and for the second time no less. "But I meant I was sorry for before."

That brought Miranda up short. "Before?" she asked, puzzled.

"Before when I quit," Andrea said. "If I'd known - if I'd realized - if you'd just said something, maybe it would have worked out differently."

Andrea caught a flash of mild satisfaction in Miranda's eyes. Oh boy, she thought. Now she thinks I want my job back. Just twenty-four hours later than I expected her to. "I'm not asking for my job back, if that's what you're thinking," she said quickly. "I enjoy the job I have."

"Good, because I certainly wouldn't give you your job back anyway," Miranda said haughtily. "Emily and . . . the other one are performing much better than you did."

"Well, that's good," Andrea said. "If that's the case, maybe it's time you learned the other one's name."

Miranda narrowed her eyes. "I do not appreciate being mocked any more than I did during dinner."

"I wasn't mocking you during dinner," Andrea said. "I was telling you the truth. Okay, maybe I could have put it a little more gently, but that IS what I felt when I quit. I just didn't know at the time that I was wrong about you."

"That you were - " Miranda looked like she was no longer sure whether to be furious or not. Which was fine, because Andrea wasn't sure how she felt either. She wanted to say something here, and it was coming out all rambled and scattershot.

"Look," Andrea said quietly, "let me just say this, and then you can kick me out and get to the task of ruining my career. Ivy had a lot to say after you'd gone up."

Miranda scoffed at her. "You can't seriously be suggesting that you would take anything my sister says at face value. She's a lunatic, she obviously lives for hurting me, and she hardly knows me anymore."

"Ivy is the one adult in this city that isn't afraid of you," Andrea said. "I'd say she knows you better than anyone. And I don't believe she really has it out for you. You're just, you know, sisters. I think you bring it out of each other when you're together."

"Is there something you wanted to say other than your unprovable wild theories?"

Andrea took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I went to your office last night. If I had known how . . . painful the sight of me would be, I wouldn't have gone."

Miranda's eyes grew round. "You think quite a bit of yourself, don't you?"

"I suppose I do," Andrea said, "knowing now that you do too."

Her former boss' cheeks turned slightly pink. "Pamela has put ideas in your head. What other delusions did she fill your empty head with? That I'm really an alien? Or that I have a four-foot tongue which I can shoot out like a frog? Maybe she told you I can shoot flames with my hands, and every night I put on a black wig and steal things as part of my life as an 'evil sidekick'. I swear, when I get my hands on her I'm going to - "

"She said things, yes, but I believe her," Andrea replied. "You would never have gone to her if I wasn't important to you. You hate your sister, you hate what she's become, you hate that she holds your magazine hostage - and yet you asked her to help you get me back. You can't deny you did that, because you practically admitted it during dinner."

"You seriously inconvenienced me when you left," Miranda said coldly. "Fashion Week had not ended yet - "

"Fashion Week, as in Paris?" Andrea asked in disbelief. "While your sister was in New York? No, I don't think so. You spoke to her after you got back. You wanted me back at almost any cost, even after I disappointed and betrayed you. Why, Miranda?"

Miranda calmly put the Book down and came closer. "Where are you going with this, Andrea? What is it you're waiting for me to say?" she asked dangerously. "You're hoping I'll confess to what exactly? That I had a moment of weakness, perhaps? Some verification that you had beaten me?"

"What? No! Miranda, I certainly never hated you, and I stopped being angry at you a long time ago," Andrea retorted. "With enough time and distance, I looked back almost fondly at my time working for you. I only left because - "

She stopped and thought of Ivy talking about her own life. About the woman she couldn't stop needing, even with rejection after rejection. Wasn't that what Miranda was trying to avoid here? Was she refusing to let Andrea into her life for a second time, for fear of betrayal?

Then maybe a little reassurance would help. "I wanted to move on from Runway," Andrea said. "But deep down inside, I never wanted to move on from you. I don't expect you to take me up on this, but if you ever wanted to let me in - I will never betray you again. Ever. And I will never hurt you again. Just because I don't work for you any more, that doesn't mean I can't be a part of your life any more. And . . . I think I would like to be a part of your life. Very much."

Miranda blinked and said nothing.

Andrea sighed. "I'm just saying. If you wanted to admit anything, I wouldn't try to use it against you, or hurt you with it. I'd like you to trust me again one day. So I'll just leave now, and maybe later you - "

Miranda's hand shot out and grabbed her elbow. "If you think you can tell me you'll never leave me, and then walk out the door, you're seriously mistaken."

It was Andrea's turn to say nothing as she gaped at Miranda.

Miranda looked skyward for a moment and exhaled loudly. "It's too late for you to be taking a cab or the subway. You'll have to spend the night."

Andrea's eyes almost popped out.

Miranda glared at her. "I have a small guest room on the top floor. You're welcome to sleep there. We can . . . talk more in the morning. Will that be acceptable?"

"Uh - yeah?"

"Good," Miranda said, letting go of her and folding her hands complacently. "For the record, earlier? When Pamela was parading you around the kitchen? And I told you it should have been obvious why she was doing it? Maybe now you realize why that is."

Andrea stared back at her. "She was trying to make you jealous," she realized.

"Mm. It wasn't working. She's not your type."

"How would you know what my type is?"

"Is your type green?"

" . . . no."

"I'll show you to your room."

Sleep should have been exactly the thing her poor, tired brain needed that night, but naturally it eluded her. Andrea lay in her guest bed for some time, wondering how this had happened. Whatever "this" was. She knew nothing for certain. Miranda had certainly implied that she had feelings for Andrea, but she hadn't actually come right out and admitted anything.

For that matter, neither had Andrea. She'd said she wanted to be a "part of her life". There were multiple ways to be part of someone's life. They could be friends, for example. Only Andrea was somewhat certain that Miranda didn't want just a friend. And Andrea didn't know what SHE wanted. Didn't she used to be straight?

And yet, (almost) knowing that Miranda wanted her made her feel very good indeed.

She grunted. The only thing she knew for certain was that she had to pee. Throwing off the covers, Andrea took the bedsheet and wrapped it around herself, as she was sleeping in her underwear.

As she moved slowly through the darkened corridor, however, she thought she heard a noise behind her. "Miranda?" she whispered. "Pamela?" She gulped. "Patricia?"

Steeling herself, she spun around.

Nothing (that she could see).

Sighing, she turned again - and bumped into something solid. Something big, and dark, and imposing, and incredibly scary. Andrea looked up, and up, and cringed.

"Where," the quasi-mythical Batman growled, "is Poison Ivy?"

"Oh my - holy - you're the Batman," Andrea said, instinctively starting to inch backwards.

"Where is she?" he asked again, seeming to follow her without even moving his feet.

Andrea didn't want to be cowed by this man - she'd dealt with Miranda for months, she'd adapted to feeling intimidated. But Miranda's sister had already shown to her that there was a difference between being intimidated, and being intimidated. Miranda was a beauty - a terrible beauty when she was angry, yes, but still a beauty. This man was just scary. She clutched more tightly at her bedsheet. She would NOT expose herself now. "H-hi," she said bravely. "I'm Andrea Sachs, but everyone - mostly - calls me Andy."

His eyes narrowed, in a fair imitation of Miranda's cool eyes. "I won't ask again."

"Why, um, why do you think this Ivy person would be here?" Andrea asked stupidly. He had to know Ivy was Miranda's sister, of course, but she'd promised two members of the Priestly family that she wouldn't reveal the secret to anyone. Breaking the promise twenty-four hours later struck her as being in bad form.

"Don't play dumb, Andy. I've known Ivy is Miranda Priestly's sister for some time," Batman growled.

"Miranda doesn't have any siblings," Andrea lied. "Believe me, I know, I used to be her assistant."

"I've been holding onto this bit of knowledge for an emergency situation like this one," he went on remorselessly. "When Poison Ivy was taken into custody, she was working on a formula that could lead to thousands of deaths. Another two days and she'll be ready. I can't waste time looking for her. If you want to protect lives, then tell me where she can be found."

"Um," Andrea said, thinking quickly. She had no allegiance to Ivy, although she WAS the reason for the shift in her relationship with Miranda. But she'd made a promise to Miranda . . . but people could get hurt . . . "I thought - oops!" She banged her rear end into the wall at the end of the hallway. "I thought her last name was Isley," she stalled.

Batman loomed over her like the Ghost of Christmas Future. Just scarier.

"Miranda has no sisters," Andrea said, twisting the truth more than a bit. Miranda herself didn't really see Ivy as her sister, not really, but her conversation with Ivy had suggested otherwise. "And even if Ivy WAS in this house, it doesn't mean they're related. It'd be more of a kidnapper-hostage situation, I think. Everyone knows Ivy hates perfumists. Ivy would see Miranda as a collaborator. So - "

"Not only have you entered my home uninvited - "

Andrea gasped as Batman whirled around. Miranda was at the other end of the hallway, hands folded in front of her. Unlike Andrea, she was wearing actual clothing, a robe Andrea remembered from Paris. She looked irritated but not furious. "But it would appear," she went on, "that you have reduced my houseguest to babbling and logic puzzles. I'm glad our city's protector is using his spare time to pick on the defenseless."

"Ms. Priestly."

"Miranda," Andrea automatically corrected him.

Batman ignored her, while Miranda's lip twitched. "I'm leaving with your sister," he snapped. "You can make this easier for your family by telling me where she is."

Miranda pursed her lips at first, and Andrea quailed. But then she rolled her eyes. "If you can manage to keep from waking my daughters, you'll find Pamela one floor down, in the rear bedroom. She's been positively beastly tonight, and I suppose you'll be making yourself minimally useful by getting her out of here."

The hero swept past her, moving silently for the stairs. Miranda looked at Andrea. "Honestly, is that the best you could do?" she asked, looking pointedly at the bedsheet.

Andrea blinked. "Like what? I didn't come prepared for a slumber party!"

"You could have asked."

Andrea snorted.

Batman returned way too quickly, however, and alone. "She's not there," he said through gritted teeth. "Her bed was unmade, and I found this by an open window on the first floor." He held up a still-smoking cigarette that Andrea recognized as being a twin of the one Ivy had smoked earlier.

"I'm sorry, do you expect me to keep tabs on my sister's location at all times?" Miranda asked. "At least she keeps her filthy habit to the outside air."

"She left nothing behind in her room. Are you saying she packed before she went to have a smoke, conveniently as I arrived?"

"Am I my sister's keeper? And I certainly never try to think like her, so I can't say what went through that disturbed mind of hers. At least she's gone."

But even in the dark, Andrea could see Miranda's eyes glittering. It was clear to her that Miranda had played some role in Ivy's escape, and she was enjoying it now.

"If anyone dies - "

"I'm sure that won't happen. I'm told you're marginally competent at what you do."

Batman glowered at her.

Miranda just smiled. "That's all."

Andrea barely managed not laughing at that.

"How marvelous," Miranda groused after he disappeared. "Now I suppose I'll have to learn HIS little secret too. Just in case he gets any ideas. I don't suppose you're up for the task?" she asked Andrea. "Emily and the other girl are worse than useless, as usual."

"I thought they were better than me," Andrea said with a hint of cheek.

"I can change my mind about that at any time," Miranda warned her.

"So," Andrea said, ignoring the empty threat, "how did you know he was up here?"

"I am an extremely light sleeper when Pamela stays over," Miranda said. "I have been, ever since the potted snapdragon incident."

Andrea decided she didn't want to know. "And you warned Ivy."

"Well, she IS family," Miranda said grudgingly. "Besides, I certainly wasn't going to hand her over to some intruder dressed like a macabre leftover from the days when goth was chic." She shuddered theatrically. "Clearly I'm paying my security service way too much. A change may be in order." She tapped her chin with one finger. "Perhaps I should have let that mutated monstrosity eat Patricia after all. The girls would have gotten over it."

"Probably." Especially if Miranda spoiled them with something better. A crocodile, maybe, with eyes like their mother.

Those eyes stared into Andrea's now. "As it was, I only had time to prepare her because you wouldn't tell him," she said. "I was - impressed by your silence. I was not expecting it."

Andrea blushed. "Well, I promised, and - "

"Yes," Miranda said. "I suppose you did."

"Can I get something to wear other than this sheet now?" Andrea asked hopefully.

"Of course." Miranda smiled cunningly at her. "You can try something on in my room."

Andrea's blush, she felt sure, spread all the way to her neck.

Andrea decided that this was going to be a sleepless night. The house was now free of frightening masked heroes, and femme fatales whose eyes betrayed their madness, and yet she tossed and turned still.

Whatever Andrea had expected as she meekly followed Miranda to her bedroom, clad only in a sheet and her underthings, this hadn't been it. Not returning to her bed alone in a flannel nightgown. It certainly wasn't something Andrea could imagine Miranda in. She couldn't even imagine it in her dresser. She'd thought she could read the signals Miranda was sending her, and then . . . Instead of lingerie that screamed "I want you to caress my nipples through the lace before you rip it off", she got pajamas that snarled "I would prefer not to be touched tonight, Stephen".

(Hm. That was the first plausible answer Andrea had to the question of why Miranda owned flannel sleepwear.)

It was no less maddening than when Miranda gave an order and Andrea had been expected to guess what details would please her, and what would piss her off. For every hint there were two opposing interpretations. True, Miranda had watched her get dressed in the bedroom, but then she'd done the same for almost an hour inside Runway's Closet that day. But then, she'd been cruel and cutting at Runway, while tonight she'd only watched her thoughtfully. What changed? Why was her body no longer an object of scorn?

And if Miranda had feelings for her, why the hell did she make all those snide cracks about "size 6" in the first place? Had her anger been feigned, an attempt to make Andrea think she wasn't "enjoying the show"? Or real because Andrea had reawakened feelings Miranda thought she'd banished, feelings for a woman she wouldn't have?

Or real because she was still pissed at her?

What she HAD said in the bedroom was equally vague. "Something warm, I think. It can get awfully frigid up there."

Frigid? Did anybody use that as an adjective for temperature anymore? Was Miranda warning her that whatever she may have hoped for, the gates were closed? Or that Andrea should get to know what it was like for her bed to be cold and lonely? (Like she'd forgotten!)

Did Miranda want her or not?!

She closed her eyes and sighed. She was obsessing over it.

And the more she obsessed about it, the more she knew she badly wanted the answer to be Yes.

Maybe that was why Miranda was being coy. Maybe she was a goddamn tease, and she knew the effect it would have on her. Always needing the upper . . .

Naturally, now that she'd decided she wouldn't sleep again that night, she dozed off in the middle of a thought. Her dreams involved whipping a giant bat over and over again with a lash made of thorny briars. Its blood splattered her face. "Is that all?" she pleaded over and over again. "Is that all?"

Miranda, seated on a throne made of roses and bones, just smiled at her with half-lidded eyes and shrugged.

This simply would not do.

It was five-thirty in the morning. The only clothing she had - besides what she'd slept in - was what Miranda had picked out for her for last night's dinner, and she certainly couldn't wear that to work. Which meant she had to go home first, then get changed, then go to work.

Miranda, on the other hand, would absolutely not be up at this hour. Knowing her, Miranda would be asleep for at least another hour and a half. If Andrea were to leave now, she would leave without a word to Miranda. The same woman who had insisted she sleep over last night, rather than "walk out the door".

Maybe she could leave a note.

Andrea grunted. Like that would work. Miranda just assumed that Andrea's schedule dove-tailed with hers, and that Andrea would be patiently waiting for her when she got downstairs, as if it were still her job to hang up Miranda's coat.

Besides, there was no way Andrea could make it through work STILL waiting to hear what Miranda had to say to her. She'd be a pretzel by eleven.

So, she couldn't leave without speaking to Miranda, and she couldn't wait for Miranda to wake up on her own. Therefore, logic dictated that Miranda would have to be woken up.

That thought, however, made Andrea quail. You didn't just touch Miranda. You certainly didn't shake her as she slept. She supposed she could perhaps use one of the twins as a proxy, but she didn't have the courage to wake THEM up either.

That left one alternative.

Miranda stirred, opened her eyes sleepily, and looked down. Her lips quickly curled into a grimace of revulsion, and she yanked her hand back from Patricia before she could continue slobbering on it. "I don't know how you got in here, Patricia," she muttered, shaking her hand in disgust, "but don't make me reconsider turning you into chow for mutant flytraps any more than I already have."

"I let her in."

Miranda's head snapped in Andrea's direction as she sat in a chair in the corner of the room. Her eyes widened. "What - Andrea - why - "

"Before you rip my head off, I have to go to work, Miranda," Andrea said gently, and a bit nervously. "Any minute now. How would you have felt if you woke up to find me gone?"

"I don't see why you couldn't have simply waited another - " Miranda looked at the clock. "Ugh. You get up at this hour?"

"Yes, and since my boss doesn't report to you, I can't pull a disappearing act at the Mirror two days in a row."

"You could have woken me yourself," Miranda retorted.

"I felt a little safer putting the giant dog between us."

"I don't bite - much, Andrea."

"See, that's why we need to talk," Andrea complained. "You won't say anything about how you feel. You just keep throwing all these double entendres and mixed signals at me. I don't know what kind of power games or mind games you're playing with me - "

"Excuse me," Miranda hissed angrily, "but when I play my little 'power games', they're with people like Irv Ravitz, not a mere former assistant!"

Andrea put a hand over her face. "Great, that's just great. Now we're back to you talking down to me. You know, I'm glad we had this conversation, now I can just pretend last night never happened."

"Yes, you would want that, wouldn't you?" Miranda said bitterly.

"Oh, and you wouldn't?" Andrea asked. "Tell me, what was your favorite part, the verbal duel at dinner or the Batman breaking into your home?"

There was a look on Miranda's face that Andrea was well-acquainted with: disappointment. There was a hint of something foreign to it, though. "I thought some of the things you said to me in my study were rather nice, but obviously it's as I expected. Things look different in the morning light, don't they?"

Andrea suppressed an urge to point out that it wasn't dawn yet. What Miranda had said . . . "What do you mean, Miranda? What did you expect?"

Miranda's disappointed air intensified. "It was all very sweet and nice when you claimed that you wanted so to be a part of my life last night. But I've seen infatuation before, Andrea. I've seen it in assistants, models, designers - God, I see it in Emily's eyes every other day. I know the effect I have on people. I know it goes away. So you cared about me last night. But I knew full well that when you woke up this morning with a clearer, calmer head, you'd just leave me again. Like you did in Paris," she said venomously.

"You think it was just a five-minute crush?" Andrea asked in disbelief.

"Oh, come now, Andrea. I'm sure you haven't spent the last year pining away for me. Probably until a day or two ago, you never even thought of me," Miranda replied. "And then all of a sudden, you spend thirty minutes with my sister and you want to spend time together? You only felt that way because . . . because I have some of those feelings for you," she reluctantly acknowledged. "You felt all warm and fuzzy inside, and you lost your head."

Andrea reddened. It was true that, until last night, she had never thought of Miranda that way. And it had made Andrea feel very special inside to realize what Miranda thought of HER. That being said . . . "You're wrong if you think I just put you out of my mind when I quit," Andrea said. "It was a very important year out of my life. I spent more time with you - if you can call it that - than with anyone else in my life, even the man I was living with. And it was hard. It was very hard."

Miranda scoffed and rolled her eyes, but Andrea pushed ahead. "Miranda, you're like a force of nature, a tidal wave, a heavy thunderstorm. It's hard to appreciate the storm when it's pouring down on your head. But when the storm has passed and you take a step back, you can appreciate its power, its grandeur, its beauty. With time, I've only grown fonder of my memories of you." Then she smiled. "Besides, you think I don't buy a copy of Runway every month?"

"I see," Miranda said slowly. "But that doesn't entirely explain last night. It's a big jump from 'fond memories' to - "

"I can't entirely explain it, Miranda," Andrea said. "And what you said isn't completely crazy. The thought of you - needing me did things to me." She chuckled. "Hoo boy. All night, it did things to me."

Miranda's eyes widened.

"So maybe now you can understand why I've been a little frazzled. The Batman incident didn't help, you know." She paused. "He said Ivy could hurt a lot of people with a little more time. Does it bother you knowing you helped her escape?"

"No," Miranda said simply. "Pamela has her talents, but none of her plans have ever succeeded on such a scale. I doubt that will change." She stared at Andrea. "Do you wish you'd told him?"

"A little," Andrea admitted, "but I promised you I would keep the secret. And I won't break any more promises to you."

For the first time that morning, Miranda looked pleased. "Well, you'd better not."

Andrea grinned. "By the way, why the hell did you make me stay over last night, if you thought I was suffering from a momentary delusion?"

"Well - " Miranda looked away. "Very rarely, I allow myself to hope for something better than the norm. After being surrounded by fools for years, I learned I had to lower either my expectations or my standards. And I simply cannot lower my standards."

"Of course," Andrea said, even as she felt that "warm and fuzzy" feeling again. "So what happens now? Where do we go from here?"

Miranda frowned. "For starters, you will go to work, while I will go back to sleep."

Andrea looked at the clock and groaned. "Crap. And I still have to go home and change first. I can't go to the paper dressed like this."

"Hm," Miranda said. "Clearly not. I trust you'll have those dry-cleaned? Never mind, I'll take care of it. Get undressed."

"Miranda!" Andrea yelped. "What am I going to wear then?"

"I'm sure I have - "

"Miranda, stop. You've reminded me a thousand times that I'm a size six, and we both know you're not. Plus I'd be a little overdressed at the Mirror in anything you own. I'll take care of the dry-cleaning and drop these off at Elias-Clarke." Andrea stopped. "You just like dressing me, don't you?" she realized.

"I can't see why Nigel gets to have all the fun," Miranda murmured. "And I think I would prefer it if you dropped those clothes off HERE. Tonight. We'll have - " She waved a hand in the air lazily. "All sorts of things to talk about."

Andrea swallowed.

"And put that damned dog back where you found her."

"New York Mirror, Andrea Sachs speaking."

"Why Andrea, it's so good to hear your voice again."

Andrea felt a chill run up her spine so swiftly, she dropped her pen. "Iv - Pamela," she said quietly, even though there had to be plenty of nice, normal people named Ivy in New York. "How did you get this number?"

"You told me where you worked last night. It wasn't terribly difficult after that," Ivy said mockingly, and Andrea's cheeks turned red. "I never got to say goodbye last night."

"Oh," Andrea said, chuckling nervously. "That's all right. He didn't find you?"

"No," Ivy replied. "People like me, we've gotten very good at covering our tracks during retreat." She sighed. "All for nothing, though."


"I'm going to turn myself in."

Andrea blinked. "Why?" she asked again.

"Well, bless Miranda's heart for choosing genetically mutated family over the public welfare, but I just can't bring myself to carry my scheme to fruition now. I couldn't ask my sister to shoulder the guilt. Nor you either. She told me you were stalling the Bat with your 'babbling'." She laughed lightly. "Just one more thing you have in common with someone I know."

Having comparisons drawn between herself and Harley Quinn, she could have done without, but she certainly didn't mind that Ivy was doing something halfway decent. "Thanks, I guess."

"Oh, it's no trouble. I'll be cooking up something new once I escape. Tell me, how was it after I left?"

Andrea found herself smiling. "Well, we argued at first, but eventually we came to an understanding. I was waiting for her to speak her mind, and she didn't want to look like a fool if I wasn't interested. I'm going back to - " She coughed, her mouth going dry all of a sudden. "Tonight."

"How nice," Ivy said casually, but Andrea noticed the underlying note of bitterness. Of course, Ivy could look out for her sister, but she couldn't help envy Miranda for getting what Ivy herself couldn't.

She felt a sudden wave of sympathy for the Priestly sisters. But for the actions of a monstrous man thirty years ago, Pamela would have been a normal person, albeit one very much like Miranda. Strong-willed and stubborn, they would have clashed constantly, but at the same time they would never stop loving each other, and they would be an unbeatable team whenever one or the other was threatened.

Instead, Pamela couldn't even let Miranda know that she was turning herself in to the police to avoid causing her pain.

"I wish there was something I could do for you," Andrea said wistfully.

"Some good press would be nice. You wouldn't believe how many bad photos of me I've seen in the Post." Ivy then chuckled. "When I think of something you can do for me, I'll let you know. Hopefully you won't regret it."

The line went dead.

Hopefully you won't regret it.


The End.

Author's Note – I loved this story, which I wrote about five years ago, but there was just one thing I wasn't happy with. I didn't feel like, as hard as I tried, I adequately explained or justified either Miranda or Andy's feelings for each other. I'm not sure I even defined them very well. Since this was a core element of the story, I ended up not posting it. Plus by that time I was already writing the sequel "Green With Envy", which I never finished. The fact that I didn't finish it wasn't much of a motivator to post the first one either. But the original story idea came to me while I was sweltering in a nursery field on a weekday afternoon once. Actually the idea was that Miranda and Andy would become hostages during a crime committed by Ivy, and sparks would fly. The sisters idea hit me when I was a little too dehydrated and didn't let go.