Title: That Summer
Disclaimer: I do not own the Devil Wears Prada or the characters but I have taken the liberty of borrowing them for this story. Please forgive any injustice I do to them as I have tried my best to stay true to them.
Hi guys, Happy New Year to all. I'm a bit lost on my other story so here is what will probably be a two - shot. Everyone here inspires me to write and contribute so thank you to the wonderful writers in this universe. Let's all work together to enjoy much more DWP in 2014! and Whoa - Just edited b/c I realized I uploaded somehow without my first paragraph. Odd...
My life is a freaking nightmare. Wait. No. That's not actually true. What am I saying? My life is great. I'm healthy. I'm happy. I have friends. No. Fuck. Wait. Ugh… I paused at the top of the stairs, shaking my head in disbelief at the constant inner rant that had become commonplace on these late nights. I opened the door and walked into the Townhouse with the Book, and to no surprise of my own my palms began to sweat. "Andrea" I heard a distant voice summoning me from somewhere down the hall. My muscles tensed, and a common feeling of panic arose through my stomach. Yep, nightmare. I was right. My life is an absolute freaking nightmare.
Miranda Priestly, Editor in Chief of Runway Magazine, Publishing Empress, La Priestly, and Devil in Prada herself was cuddled in her arm chair in the corner of the sitting room. I hesitated all too long in the doorway taking a mental picture of her reading the New Yorker, feet curled up underneath her, with a half empty glass of wine by her side. I would store that image for later, where it would undoubtedly appear a few hours from now in a dream with what would be an entirely different outcome.
It takes every bit of my recently practiced self-restraint to keep from heading towards the chair to curl up next to Miranda. My brain of course knows such a course is a path towards at the least professional suicide, and the more likely death but my body seems compelled to get closer. I take a few steps forward, hand over the book to a seemingly distant Miranda, and step back to await further instruction. God she's beautiful, I say to myself as she finally looks up to acknowledge me. Do you want me to take you upstairs and tuck you in, I want to say as she still remains quietly studying me. Can she read my mind? Please read my mind and say yes and don't kill me. Oh no she's looking at me like I'm crazy, say something Andy, speak, I tell myself. "Anything else I can do for you, Miranda?" She looks at me like this is the worst thing I could have said. She's angry now, I made her angry. Fantastic. She dismisses me like the idiot that I am, and I turn on my heels to leave. I will beat myself up for the rest of my walk home with her last words lingering in my mind. "That's all."
This can't continue. Ever since Nate left, it seems my attraction to Miranda is growing. At first I didn't understand it. Then I denied it. Now I'm finally accepting it for what it is. This woman has me under her spell. I can't get away from her. I know. I tried. It was short lived and it felt like it would kill me. That's when I knew this was not just about the job. It was about her. I have to have her. It's crazy. It makes no sense. She's twice my age. She's out of my league. She's my boss. She's a woman. I like women? She's everything.
It is becoming an overwhelming distraction. Being alone in the same room as Miranda is almost torturous. Being away from her is even worse. This is a new experience being needy. It's an emotional rollercoaster and it's a rush. I love control. I thrive on control. I've lost control. I have laser focus to do my job but it is consistent with this desire I have to please Miranda. I want to be the best for her. I want her to have the best. I want to be recoginized. I want to be needed. I want her to need me. I want her to want me. I want her.
It was odd how this developed. Have I always been a people pleaser? I like the people around me to share in my happiness, but this is somehow different. Miranda is the ultimate challenge. This woman rarely shows her true self to the outside world. She trusts no one. She builds walls. She keeps people out. She has to protect herself. I saw a glimpse of the heart that I want to carefully to help protect, and now I have to have it. When I saw it for the first time in Paris my heart broke in half, and then put itself back together with an empty slot that needs to be filled. It knows what it's missing. Miranda has changed me. This is going to be a disaster.
I need to separate myself from this. Distance maybe would help lessen the pull. It's like gravity though, and sometimes it just seems silly to try to fight it. I'm good at bringing Miranda happiness. She should see that. She does see it. She looks at me differently when I rise beyond her expectations. I've seen how I can shock her. She can hide these things from others but not for me. Sometimes I can tell she almost thinks I'm clairvoyant when it comes to her. I know what she wants before she wants it herself. She sees it.
I'm not crazy. Well, I may be crazy but sometimes it seems Miranda acts differently towards me. At some point after Paris she stopped insulting me. I mean, she still insults me but hardly to hurt me. It is almost a game now where she wants to be harsh, but somehow backs off at the last minute. Sometimes I wonder if she is afraid to lose me. I'm just another silly assistant, but then other times she treats me with kid gloves, almost like Nigel. Oh, and Nigel. What she did to him? She had to though. It was her job. She made the right choice. I made the right choice. Miranda deserves loyalty. I will be loyal. It is my goal to show her she can trust that I will be loyal. I slipped up briefly, but I will not make that mistake again.
*************************** Some weeks later, late in August after Paris…
Miranda left last night for a long weekend in the Hamptons. Today has been a very, very long Thursday and I'm compelled to check my cell phone every few minutes to make sure it's working while awaiting the book. I haven't received any messages or calls from Miranda since early this morning so I check my phone again. It's still working.
The new girl, otherwise known as Emily, left for the evening two hours ago. Once the Book is finished, I just need to send it with Roy up to the Hamptons, and then I can go home and sleep. I hope Miranda is having a nice time with the girls, and take a moment to think about what they would be doing right this moment. This was one of her few days totally free with them up there.
Miranda was leaving Runway behind for a few days, but she was not leaving work behind. This Saturday Miranda was entertaining the A-list at one of her infamous house parties. Many thought Miranda to be social, but it was all an act. Her house would undoubtedly be the place to be on Saturday evening, but Miranda would have preferred a quiet night alone with her girls.
Miranda's ringtone woke me from my day dreams. "Andrea," I could hear the frustration in the voice through the phone. "The girls Nanny no longer works for me. Have Roy stop by your house so you can pack a bag and he will deliver you here for the weekend." I was momentarily stunned by the news. Having Miranda gone for four days was going to be rough, but I welcomed the separation to try to cool off for a while. The idea of being alone, even with two children, at a beach house with the women was overwhelming, but fucking fantastic. There was no room for argument either. Miranda had all but demanded my presence.
"Miranda, uhhh, I," I was cut off a second later mid thought. "Andrea, that was not a question. Half of Hollywood will be at my house Saturday evening, and I should have had you with me in the first place." Again, I'm stunned by the admission from the Editor that she had made a mistake, and admitted that she needed me in the first place. With a deep breath and my eyes closed I manage to reply, "of course, Miranda," with as steady a voice as I can manage despite the adrenalyn coursing through my veins. I listen for further instructions without questioning my queen and they follow moments later. "The girls will be to bed early on Saturday, so grab something from the closet appropriate for the gathering. That's all."
I put my head down on my arms for a fleeting second contemplating the level of panic I should allow myself before getting up and running towards the closet. Nigel already left for the evening, but would likely attend the party on Saturday as well having his own opportunity to assess my wardrobe selections. While my sense of style has grown by leaps and bounds, this would be the first time I'm left entirely to my own devices while choosing something for such a unique situation. Ahhh…Please let me choose wisely.
Hours later I awoke to the sounds of the Towncar slowing on a gravel driveway while pulling up to Miranda's Southampton house at 11pm. The ride from Manhattan had taken two hours as even late at night there was still enough traffic. I thanked Roy, my rock, and took my laptop bag, leather duffel, and a garment bag from the back seat, managing to hug the Book with my remaining hand. Fighting nerves and frustration, I assure Roy I can manage everything myself, and walk towards the front door to meet my fate. As if on cue, Miranda opens the door as I near the last step, and seeing her in yoga pants and minimal makeup I can barely remember how to breathe. I'm overwhelmed by emotions, and try to cover them up by looking past her. As if there to save me from myself an excited Patricia runs to me and practically knocks me back down the steps. Miranda is forced to reach out and grab my arm with one hand, and the dog with the other, pulling us both inside. Dropping my bags on the floor and depositing the book in Miranda's hands I throw all of my emotions around the big dog's neck and give her a huge hug to which she responds enthusiastically. I stay there fully ignoring Miranda until I get my emotions back in check, and finally stand to meet my fate.
I've studied Miranda's many expressions over the past months, but the one I'm met with is new. I swear that I see a moment of relief appear on Miranda's face as our eyes finally meet. Then it was gone and the Editor appeared again, and I gave her a muted, "Hi Miranda," to which she replied similarly and with a, "welcome, Andrea. I doubt you woke the entire neighborhood on your way in." Yes my Miranda, she had to throw in the sarcasm.
Miranda's house was all white, with open windows towards the ocean on the entire back wall. It was dark now, but I spent a moment imagining what we would see in the morning. This is the first time I will see the Atlantic Ocean. Miranda's watching me carefully, but I cannot help but take in my surroundings. I swear upon glancing sideways to compliment her house that the corners of her mouth to tilt upwards into a smile of satisfaction before she replies, "Andrea thank you for coming. Follow me and I'll show you where you are staying."
I must have dreamed that I heard a "thank you." I'm led upstairs to the East wing of the house. Apparently Miranda's Master Suite is in the West wing, and the girls bedrooms are on that side as well. As Miranda opens the door to my room, I'm overwhelmed once again. The room was made for a princess. This ensuite guest room was bigger than her entire apartment in the city, plus some, with again more windows surrounding it. Clearly I will have an ocean view in the morning. I want to turn around and hug Miranda, but that would be inappropriate.
I cannot help but whisper to myself, "wow, this is amazing." I drop my bags once again and walk towards the wall of windows whispering, "I can't wait for sunrise," looking outside before turning back to Miranda who is still standing in the doorway watching.
"Andrea," Miranda says looking down and fidgeting with the bracelets on her arm. "The girls will undoubtedly wake up early tomorrow morning. They know you are here and are eagerly waiting to show you around. You've made some impression on them apparently." I am surprised to hear this, but the girls and I have spent many a late night talking when I deliver the book or fill in as a babysitter. They almost feel like cousins or something, since they're the only kids I've met or spent time with in Manhattan. I nod enthusiastically.
"It's beautiful here Miranda. We'll have a great weekend I'm sure. Did you have anything specific you wanted them to do?" I patiently await the answer noticing Runway Miranda appear for the first time this evening. "Andrea, I'm spending the weekend with my girls. You will only be needed part of the time. I have a lunch tomorrow that I must attend, and then the party Saturday evening where my time will be fully occupied with the guests. I would however like you to help supervise the setup for the party. There will be many strangers in the house over the next forty eight hours, and I would feel more comfortable having someone I trust here during that time."
I am speechless once again. Miranda just admitted out loud that she trusted someone, at least not to steal from her, and that someone was me. She's killing me. She walked back towards the doorway. "Of course, Miranda," I say while my heart being stabbed by hearing the word trust and me in the same sentence and I cannot stop it. "Looking forward to it."
I'm left with nothing else left to say but she's still staring at me from the doorway. "I'll uh…see you in the morning" I continue, unless you want to stay with me tonight, I'm thinking and close my eyes trying to shake off the thought.
"Andrea, the code for the alarm is 0408. Do not open the doors without turning the alarm off. Otherwise, make yourself at home." I nod choosing not to look at her again, before finally hearing her words and looking up. "Oh, the girl's birthday? No problem, I can remember that. Good night Miranda." I shouldn't have looked up. Miranda is staring at me once again with another look that I'm failing to recognize. I used to be good that this. Ending the silence she looks down at her bracelets once again saying, "Yes, well, good night Andrea," and I smile at her because I cannot help it, and raising her eyes to meet mine she offers more. "Sleep well," she says and I just nod. She closes the door as she leaves, and I realize sleep will not come quickly this evening.
The next morning at 5:30, I'm up early enough to get dressed in time to watch the sun rise. I slept a bit in the car on the way to the Hamptons so I'll be fine to keep up with the kids all day. I pull on my nike sports bra, shorts, and Brooks on my feet and make my way downstairs to grab Patricia before going for a tour of the neighborhood. The exercise should help get rid of some of the adrenelyn that possesses me from being around Miranda all day.
An hour later after having given Patricia an impromptu bath in the outdoor shower to remove the sand from her fur, I find Miranda, coffee in hand with the book in the living room. I hadn't considered Miranda's possible objections to borrowing her dog, and hesitate before approaching the Editor. I cringe as a slightly damp Patricia runs to greet her owner, but after two pets on the head and a big kiss Miranda calls out without looking, "Andrea, I prepped the espresso machine. Press the button and voila – coffee…" I press the button, find warm milk beside the machine, and moments later attempt to remain as relaxed as possible as if spending the weekend with Miranda in the Hamptons is totally normal. I sit on the edge of an ottoman overlooking the ocean trying to keep my dirty sweaty self off of the furniture, and sip at the coffee while admiring the view.
"When the girls wake up I'm making pancakes. I assume you eat pancakes." I looked up to catch Miranda with a mischievous look on her face, and smiled back at her fighting the urge to roll my eyes. At that moment I recognize that in this setting I will once again get to see the woman behind the curtain. This Miranda was my Miranda, who I had met briefly in Paris and a few other times when I'm lucky and she lets her guard down. "Yes, I eat pancakes. Or at least I used to, often," I dared say the next line, "prior to making your acquaintance." I smile back again with as much confidence as I can muster just hoping Miranda's mood would remain light. I literally feel the air shift as Miranda looks me up and down in my running attire. Her gaze sweeps from head to toe and back up before she finally responds, "yes, I would imagine so." I swallow hard at her voice which sounds so sultry right now as she just woke up, and at the look I just got, and I quickly chug my coffee and excuse myself to go shower.
Despite the emotional rollercoaster, I cannot imagine that my weekend would have been more fun had had I remained back in the city. The girls were surprisingly thrilled to have me here, and together we spent Friday and early Saturday basking in the glory of all Southampton had to offer. They seemed to indicate that their mother was easier to handle when they had me there as a buffer. I was getting all too close, but couldn't help myself. This was starting to feel more like a family vacation than work, and that's the road to pure disaster. But of course once again good decision making goes out the door and together we make the most of the last few days of summer in the sun, and I live in the moment.
By the time the party rolled around Saturday evening, I was fully immersed in the fantasy of being part of this world. I spent the day directing the staff, making sure every detailed request was met with perfection, while Miranda spent time with the girls. There were a few minor disasters along the way but Miranda would never hear of them, that I made certain. The party began around five, and Miranda had decided it was inappropriate for the girls to join in as they were still pre-teens. Borrowing Miranda's car, I gathered the twins to head out for a pizza and movie before the crowds arrived. Miranda tried to object but she was overruled by two redheads with big mouths and cute smiles, and starting to feel more comfortable with my role joined in with my puppy eyes as well to seal the deal. When we arrived back at the house the valets took our car and shockingly enough the girls were cooperative about going to bed. They encouraged me to go get dressed and join the party, promising that they would be watching from the windows and staying out of harm's way. They knew the drill, and while they were often invited to the daytime gatherings this party was off limits. Their mother had made that very clear.
The party was in full swing by the time I officially arrived on the pool deck. I spent extra time on my makeup and hair to complete my look. Only moments later Miranda scared the hell out of me as she handed me a glass of champagne directing me already. "Take this, walk with me…" she said and of course I followed ready for just about anything as I was well trained at this point.
Moments later after gulping a significant portion of the champagne en route, I was being introduced by Miranda Priestly to both David Remnick and Graydon Carter before even realizing who she was talking to. Completely shocked by the company I was in I did my best to remember that English was in fact my first language and remind myself that I normally knew how to form sentences consisting of more than one word. The men had Miranda's full attention as was standard for anyone she approached and I did my best to smile and nod. Miranda proceeded to give me a glowing introduction to the two editors, leaving me all but speechless once again. She mentioned my latest promotion to First Assistant, the fact that I graduated from Northwestern, how did she know that, and shocked the hell out of me when she brought up that I was even Editor of the Daily Northwestern. Miranda then promptly took her leave wishing all of us a nice evening, and giving me a look that clearly meant, "don't fuck this up."
Hours later, while helping with the cleanup I was struggling to recall what had transpired over the course of the evening. Fortunately, I did not feel the need to drown myself in the pool, so I figured that I did in fact represent Miranda respectably. It was surreal. I was socializing with people like David and Graydon and countless other people who could have a tremendous impact on the course of my career. This was a privilege many would never have, being in such close quarters with greatly influential people. With a content smile I acknowledged the fact that it was very possible Miranda had a vested interest in my future, and that my presence in the Hamptons this weekend was not happenstance. I was once again being exposed to the woman behind the Icon, who as my heart confirmed was deserving of every bit of happiness that I wanted for her.
The party wound down around 1am. It was an early night by Southampton standards, but the gathering had begun in the late afternoon so in fact it was a very long evening. By the time the last guest left, and the cleanup had begun, I was fully sober and once again in charge. When I found Miranda she was directing the staff to make haste, as it was getting late. She seemed tired despite her efforts to lift her chin and become even more vocal to get the job done.
By the time the last of the staff left the premises it was 2am. I was crashing but did my best to hide until finally escorting the last of the caterers out of the back door. I walked back inside the kitchen to find Miranda staring aimlessly at the window with her hands on the kitchen counter next to a cup of tea that was brewing next to her. She appeared quite fragile and vulnerable. My body reacted again and I was overwhelmed with a desire to put my arms around her in comfort. It was painful to breathe.
My body took control and I stood next to her, placing a hand on her back. It was the first time I ever touched her deliberately, but this weekend it was time to cross a few barriers. Miranda stiffened and turned her head to meet my eyes and I asked, "hey…are you okay?" She nodded quickly and turned her body towards mine, escaping from my touch. "I'm fine, Andrea, and you?" Despite my desire to reach out again I backed off quickly and helped myself to a large glass of water to prolong the time alone with her.
We stood there in silence while Miranda separated her loose tea from her mug, and moved around me to deposit the tea in the disposal. I couldn't handle the silence. My heart was pounding once again. I put down my water, glanced to her left, and focused on innocent conversation, "everybody had an amazing time Miranda. It was really fantastic." The editor's pleading eyes met mine, and with a nod and a tired expression replied, "well at least that's out of the way. The girls and I can have a relaxing day together tomorrow. Just seems the time passes too quickly. Did they have a nice time at the movies" Miranda asked me seemingly wishing for a positive response. I couldn't help myself upon seeing the desperation in the woman, and placed my hand on top of hers that rested on the kitchen counter. "Miranda, they had a great time. They seem incredibly happy. They love you more than anything, and they know how hard you work for Runway and to make time for them." Miranda searched my face for the truth, but I let her see everything I believed. She flipped her hand that was underneath mine and as I attempted to pull it back she grasped it quickly and held my hand in hers.
I lost it. I forgot how to breathe. I was frozen. Half of me was compelled to grab the woman and kiss her but the other half felt her need for comfort. I could be a friend. I could control myself and be what she needed. I could be whatever she needed. My eyes were going back and forth between our joined hands and her face. I couldn't speak. I couldn't move.
Our hands were being moved down off of the counter and down by our sides. My body was suddenly inches from Miranda's and I could feel the heat that was building between the two of us. She was staring at me. This was not the lethal gaze I knew could exist, but instead something entirely different. She looked almost unsure. It was as if a lightbulb went off in my head. Maybe she wanted this as well, but she could not possibly make the first move. It was up to me to take a chance. I would start small.
My free hand rose slowly and my thumb was grazing her cheekbone, before my hand rubbed down her neck, and collarbone and all the way down her left arm until joining our free hands together. I stepped closer. She continued to wait patiently. She was impossible, giving nothing away for free. Once again I took another step. I released her right hand, and moved her errant bangs off of her face, managing to swipe my fingers through her hair until my hand was on the back side of her neck. I guided her towards me, and when our lips met she took over with a smile.