Disclaimer: See Part 1
There weren't as many reporters in front of the Elias-Clarke building as there were in front of the house, but there were still quite a few and Andy was glad to see Jeff leading three other uniformed guys out the door as their car pulled up to the curb. The men surrounded the pair of women and walked them to the front doors.
“Thanks Jeff.” Andy patted the man on the forearm.
“No problem, Andy.” The big man smiled at the brunette.
With a deep breathe Miranda opened her mouth to speak, but found herself strangely unable to say the words… not here, in public. It just wasn't done. “I wish to speak with you in private,” she told the man, in no uncertain terms. “Call Emily and set up a time, today if possible.”
Jeff tilted his head then nodded once. “Sure.”
Normally when she walked through the lobby, people moved out of the way, averted their eyes so as not to draw Miranda's attention and to avoid eye contact. Today people were openly staring at the couple but if Miranda were to catch their eyes the floor suddenly seemed rather interesting. Upon reaching the elevators there was a collective gasp as Andy joined Miranda in the metal box. The chatter after the elevator doors had closed was hushed, but still no one heard the loud laughter from inside the car moving swiftly up to the seventeenth floor.
Andy caught her breath from the laughing so hard and turned to Miranda. “Well, that was weird. Did you see their faces?”
“Mmmm…” Miranda wasn't sure she liked the change in atmosphere at her place of work and was determined to keep at least this part of her life as it always had been. “Ready?” Miranda asked with a sigh. “Time to be the Bitch.”
“Miranda.” Andy questioned. “Do you really have to?”
The Editor nodded. “Yes, I'm afraid I do. Things get very strange around here when I'm nice.”
Andy laughed. “I wouldn't know.” She did wonder something though. “Um… is it going to be weird for you, having me here?”
“I've been wondering that myself.” Miranda shrugged. “I guess we'll see. It might actually be worse for you, having to see me, being … me, here. You haven't seen me in the office in a long time.”
Moving closer, Andy whispered, “Last time I was here, I ended up face down on your desk.”
Blue eyes darkened at the memory. “That was hardly a usual day, and it will not happen today.”
“Awww…” Andy's eyes twinkled in the elevator light as she put a mock pout on her face.
“Good grief.” Miranda complained. “Now I want to kiss you and there's nothing I can do about it.”
“Why not?!” The mock pout turned real.
Miranda just indicated the counter on the elevator as it changed to the number seventeen. Half a second later the door opened to reveal a literal sea of people watching. “That's why.”
Emily pushed her way through the crowd. “Oh my gawd. Don't you people have work to do?!” She stepped forward to accept the Book. “Good Morning, Miranda.” She turned her head slightly to acknowledge the woman standing next to her boss. “Good Morning, Andy.”
Andy smiled. “Mornin' Em.” She didn't have time to say more because Miranda began moving and Andy found herself stretching her legs to keep up.
“Inform Nigel and Serena I wish to speak to them in my office as soon as possible. Confirm the space for the Calvin Klein shoot on Wednesday night. Have the art department hold off on page thirty-seven until further notice. Put a call in to Legal, I would like to speak to them sometime today. Also call PR and inform Leslie I would like to see her at her first available chance. Jeff from Security will be calling, schedule him in as soon as you can for a five minute meeting. And get Patrick on the phone.” Miranda tossed her purse negligently on the new girl's desk as they passed and dismissed Emily. “That's all.”
Andy hesitated, intending on saying hello to the new girl, but Miranda's short. “Andrea?” forced her to continue into Miranda's office. She settled on the couch in the corner as Miranda took the call to Patrick. She let the phone conversation move to the background, and pulled her laptop from its carrying case. It was only nine a.m. and she could tell it was going to be a long two hours before the press conference. May as well get some work done, she thought. If she hadn't heard Miranda ask for Nigel's presence, she would have gone to his office to say hi. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Miranda take a drink of the coffee sitting on her desk. I can't even make a Starbuck's run , she thought, if the paparazzi actually let me get there, I wouldn't be able to get back before it got cold.
So she sat, hands on the keyboard, staring at the blank screen. Now with time to let reality set in, she started feeling like she was about to cry. I'm useless to her now. She jumped a bit as Miranda sat next to her.
“Andrea?” Miranda gently turned the young woman's head to face her.
“I'm okay.” The brunette spoke automatically and took a deep breath. “I'm just… confused right now. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to… do. The girls were looking forward to getting back into their routine. I was looking forward to getting back into my routine. And now…”
“Now what, Andrea?” Miranda thought she knew.
She turned watery doe-eyes on the woman she loved. “The paparazzi make it impossible to do anything for you . I can't even get coffee for you!”
Miranda smiled and brushed her lips against Andy's. “There are other people to bring me coffee,” she spoke logically, “and the impossible is your specialty.”
Rolling her eyes at that, Andy set her laptop aside and wrapped her arms around Miranda's shoulders. “I'm sorry, it's all just overwhelming me at the moment.”
“Understandable.” Miranda held the young woman tightly against her for a long moment. “This will pass.”
Miranda pulled away and brushed her fingers around the young woman's face, pushing the stray tendrils of brown hair back where they belonged. “Soon enough the press will realize there are far more interesting things than an old woman's relationship with a young beauty.”
“I wish you wouldn't put yourself down like that.” Andy was totally serious. “You aren't old, and if anyone else, except Jo, called you that, I… well… it wouldn't be pretty.”
“Jo?” Miranda's features shifted into what was nearly a frown.
Andy chuckled. “Um… yeah, sometimes… like if we are out and chatting… instead of saying your name… she'll call you ‘the old lady', but you gotta hear her say it, she doesn't mean it to be mean or anything…”
Miranda relaxed and nodded. “I detected the trace of Bronx in her accent. And I've spoken with her. She is quite nice, I understand she wouldn't say it to be mean.”
Andy leaned over to rest her head on Miranda's shoulder. “I like it when your accent comes through.”
“What!” Miranda shook her head. “Never. I've worked to hard to lose it…”
“Ah… but it does, every once in a while, when you are very tired… or somewhat tired and a little tipsy.” Andy grinned and kissed the neck so close to her lips. “James Holt's punch will bring it out every time. I love it when you come home from one of his gatherings.”
“Hmmm…” Miranda wasn't thrilled to hear that bit of information. “Yet another reason to avoid the punch.”
A small knock on the door frame preceded Emily by seconds into the room. “Nigel and Serena are…” here. Emily stopped short as she saw the position the women were in on the couch. She swallowed against a suddenly dry throat and asked, “Shall I tell them to wait?”
“No,” Miranda slowly moved away from Andrea. “Send them in.” She stood and pulled her fiancée up with her. “Would you go and speak to the new girl?”
Andy laughed, feeling much better about the situation. Miranda was right, it would pass, and in the meantime she was just going to try and keep things as normal as possible. “You want me to at least find out her name?”
“I know her name…” Miranda grinned and then blanked her face, raising one eyebrow. “It's Emily.”
Andy laughed louder and leaned down; kissing the editor lightly on the lips she winked. “Of course it is.” Nodding at Nigel and Serena who both stood, stunned, at the door, she walked out of the office.
The Runway employees blinked a few times and glanced at each other. They had known, of course, even before the news had broken they'd pretty much figured it out. But to see Miranda…kissing anyone… really kissing them, it was just odd, that's all. Nigel had even seen it before, last night, and it was still damned weird for him to actually witness; home was one thing but this was her office. The woman in question's voice pulled them out of their shock.
“Come in, Nigel, have you developed an aversion to doorways while I was away?”
Pulling his brain out of the fog it was in, Nigel took command of his legs and continued into the office. “Sorry… It's just… Um…” he shook his head. “You wanted to see us?”
Clearing her throat, Miranda nodded and waved her hand. “Close the door, Serena.”
The Brazilian glanced at Nigel as she carried out the order. Her eyes clearly asking him what the hell they had done to deserve being alone in Miranda's office with the door closed. He just shrugged, not having a clue.
Serena closed the door and took a seat next to Nigel, waiting for whatever Miranda was about to drop on them. I wonder if Vogue is hiring… She was a little lost in her own thoughts of the future and nearly missed Miranda's words. It would have been a shame if she had, because this was probably the only time she'd ever hear them, in this office, directed at her.
“Thank you.” Miranda spoke quietly. “You both have done a good job in covering my sudden absence and I'm grateful for that.” She smiled, a genuine smile, at the pair in front of her. “There will be a bonus in your pay this month, as well.”
Serena found her voice first, her Brazilian accent thick. “And Emily? She went quite above and beyond her regular duties.”
Miranda nodded. “Yes, Emily too, but she seems uncomfortable when I show any gratitude, so the extra compensation will have to do.” Blue eyes twinkled at the statuesque woman. “You may tell her how grateful I am for her job well done, if you like.” Miranda smirked to herself at Serena's widening eyes. “She may take it better, coming from you.”
Miranda picked up her red pencil, marking three photos from the sheet in front of her then put her glasses on and looked over the top rim of them at her acting editors. “On to more pressing topics… page thirty-seven?” Both eyes narrowed as she saw each of her stand-in's flinch at the page number.
“I had an idea about that.” Nigel sighed. “I left the folder in my office.” He began to stand. “I'll just go get it.”
Miranda held up her hand and with a flick of her wrist ordered him to sit. “I'll have Andrea get it.”
Nigel nodded. “It's the red one on my desk.”
Miranda relayed the information and continued with the review, glancing at her notes. The Editor rarely raised her voice, but now it wasn't only the volume that was low. “I see we lost an advertiser…”
Nigel closed his eyes and Serena squirmed in her seat. They both wondered how a meeting that had started out so nicely seemed suddenly to be going so very wrong.
“Hey Em.” Andy waited for Emily to drag her eyes from Miranda's closed doors. “Wanna introduce me to the new girl?”
The redhead nearly hissed, trying to keep her voice down. “Why are the doors closed?”
Andy had an idea, she thought it was the same reason Miranda wanted to see Jeff in her office. Miranda can't say ‘Thank you' in public, not to Runway employees. She didn't want to voice her suspicions though, for fear she was wrong. “You can ask Serena when she gets out.”
But what if she doesn't?? What if the doors open and Serena and Nigel are just gone!
Emily knew that thought wouldn't really happen, but still, it was there in the back of her mind, haunting her.
The strange mixture of panic and worry on Emily's face changed Andy's mind and the brunette leaned closer, whispering. “Don't worry, Em. Everything will be fine.” Brown eyes twinkled. “You wanna introduce me to the new girl now? She's probably the one I'll be talking to the most when I call.”
Emily let out an exasperated breath. “Well, I should say so. I certainly have much more important things to do than be on the phone with you all day.” Angling her nose up, she stood and walked over to the other desk. “Bethany, this is Andrea.” Emily wasn't sure what to call the tall brunette in relation to Miranda so she didn't bother. “Her calls are to be put through to Miranda immediately, if she requests it, no matter what Miranda is doing. Do you understand?”
Andy watched the young girl with reddish-brown hair nod, her wide brown eyes fastened on Andy's face in what would probably best be described as awe. She spoke quietly to the girl. “Always tell me if she's in a meeting, I don't want to disturb her unnecessarily. I'm sure most of the time leaving a message will do.” Holding out her hand, Andy smiled. “And call me Andy.” That was the first time Andy realized that this person was small, petite, so much so it made her seem younger than she truly was. Bethany's hand in hers made Andy feel like a giant.
Miranda's voice over the intercom made them jump. “Andrea would you go to Nigel's office and bring me the red folder from his desk?”
Andy smiled and reached over to hit the intercom button. “Of course.”
Bethany jumped up from her seat. “I can do it!”
Blinking once, Andy tilted her head down to smile at the eager assistant. Good grief, Andy thought and knew she'd be surprised if the woman was more than five feet tall. It was a very different look from the six-foot-plus norm around here. Andy decided that she would make a concerted effort to befriend Bethany. From experience, she knew that being different here at Runway was not easy, not without friends. She patted the girl on the shoulder and shrugged. “She asked me to do it, but thanks.” She winked at the disappointment on Bethany's face. “Don't worry, I know the way,” she assured the girl...young woman. “Plus, you'll learn soon enough, if Miranda specifically asks you to do something it better be you that does it.”
The intercom link opened again. “Emily, get me William.”
Emily responded immediately. “Of course.” Then she thought, William? William? Oh! The Advertising Manager at Banana Republic. She recalled Serena saying they'd lost that particular advertiser and dialed quickly.
Nigel's office was not that far from Miranda's relatively speaking, but about halfway there Andy began to notice the silence that occurred in her wake, and the stares she was receiving were beginning to make her uncomfortable. As she took a shortcut through the Beauty department one person actually found the courage to ask, loudly, “So what's it like to fuck your boss?”
Andy stopped dead in her tracks and turned to face several people waiting for the answer. She had no idea which one of them had asked. Shaking her head, Andy shrugged. “I wouldn't know.” Turning back to her task at hand, she called over her shoulder. “I don't fuck my boss...” She knew every one of them was completing that statement in their heads. I fuck yours.But Andy knew that wasn't true either, not really. She retrieved the file from Nigel's desk and thought carefully about the difference between words. As a journalist she knew different words carried different connotations even if the underlying meaning was the same… making love, having sex, fucking… all three were similar, two…or more she supposed, people being intimate with each other… but each phrase brought up such different images when read or uttered. She tried to think back to each encounter she'd had with Miranda and wondered if she could apply the term ‘fuck' to any of them. Before she'd returned to Miranda's office she'd admitted to herself that looking on from the outside, yes, there were a few occasions that if someone had been watching they would probably have called it that. But in her heart, Andy just couldn't bring herself to classify any of the times she and Miranda had been together as ‘fucking'. There was just too much love involved in the process.
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