Like Love – Part 6
“Why is it so difficult to prepare for these run-throughs?”
“Well, Miranda, to be fair.” Nigel spoke up. “It was scheduled for tomorrow.” He was shocked at the look the editor turned a look on him. He hadn’t gotten one of those in a long time. Whoa! “Okay,” He clapped his hands together and instructed Jocelyn and her people. “Take your lunches and meet back here.”
All the women looked at Miranda who dropped to her office chair and waved them away, her eyes already closed against whatever it was Nigel was going to say to her. She heard the snick of the door closing and waited for the man to clear his throat. Opening her eyes, she trained them on her long time friend and waited, only taking a small amount of pleasure in watching him begin to shift nervously from foot to foot. Rolling her eyes, she again waved her hand. “Oh for God’s sake Nigel, say whatever it is and let’s get this over with.”
“This…” She gestured to the empty room. “Whatever you are doing here… intervention or suicide… your call.”
“You seem out of sorts.” Nigel began. “Six’s visit didn’t seem to help…are you two…um, okay? You aren’t fighting are you?”
“It helped. Of course, we’re okay, better than okay. If we were fighting it wouldn’t last long. It never lasts long.” Miranda rested her head on the back of her chair and watched the man squirming. “You would all be fired now if she hadn’t returned when she did.”
“Really…” Nigel exhaled softly. “That bad eh?”
“This situation with Christian Thompson is intolerable, and now Stephen is getting into the act.” She shook her head. “It’s forcing Andrea to do something she doesn’t want to do and I find that very annoying.” The fact that I’m going to do something I don’t want to do is beside the point.
“I heard you blacklisted him.” Nigel grinned at her shocked look. “News travels fast these days with all the Twitters and such…”
“I did no such thing.” Miranda shook her head. “I merely, suggested… that I never wanted to see him again.”
Nigel nodded. “You told him that?” He rubbed his hand over his bald head. “And you told the reporter that…” Wow, she went easy on him, not an official blacklisting but very close. He thought he knew, but asked anyway. “Why so lenient?”
Miranda shrugged and answered in one word as if it should clarify everything, “Andrea.”
“Wow.” Nigel knew Andy would have some influence over Miranda, but to be able to soften the reaction to the Christian Thompson situation was, amazing.
“She is.” Miranda again focused on Nigel.
“I’m sorry? She is?” He didn’t understand until Miranda clarified.
“Wow,” the editor smiled. “She is, Wow.”
“You have it bad.” The man smiled at his boss, happy for her.
“I do.” She traced the arm of her chair with her fingertip. “I can’t lose her Nigel, not ever. I’ll do anything I have to, to keep her.”
Nigel understood now, the Miranda he knew wouldn’t have hesitated to dissect the man and hand his guts back to him on a silver platter. “Even go against your nature?”
“Yes.” Miranda agreed softly. “Even that.” She glanced at her watch. “I’m leaving for lunch with Donatella.” She needed the distraction the Italian woman could provide; mindless talk and good food. Gesturing to the racks of clothing littering her office, she ordered, “Have this all sorted out by tomorrow.”
Nigel grinned, they were saved. Thank you, Six. “Yes, Miranda.” He watched as she walked out the door, ordering, “Purse.” She actually had to stop and wait for Bethany to get the requested item and the new girl got a patented Miranda glare, before the editor was out the door.
“Oh, My, God!” Lily stood, mouth open at the doorway to The Closet.
Andy laughed. “Uh… Lil… you um… have a little bit of…” She grabbed a tissue and motioned to the corner of her friend’s mouth. “…drool. Just there.”
Grabbing the tissue, Lily closed her mouth and wiped it. “Well of course I do! Look at this place.” She smacked her tall friend lightly, playfully, in the back of the head. “You are an idiot!”
“Ow!” Andy played along, laughing. “What did I do?!”
“You left…this?!” She faked another lunge at Andy, who held up defensive hands and dodged.
“Yeah, I’m an idiot… but not because I left this.” Dark eyes held just a tinge of sadness. I’m an idiot because I left Miranda. But she was back now and she smiled at her friend. “C’mon, let’s shop.”
They’d spent several minutes wandering through the racks and racks of clothing when suddenly Andy felt herself grabbed from behind and forced against the nearest wall. “Whoa!” It was an entirely unexpected motion followed by angry words in her ear.
“Who do you think you are!?”
Turning her head enough to see her attacker, Andy’s forehead wrinkled. “Serena?” What the...? “What’s your problem?” Bucking off the wall she broke the woman’s grip, it was surprisingly strong, but awkward, and Andy was stronger.
“You threatened to have Emily fired and you’re asking me what my problem is?!” Serena’s thick accent heightened the anger in her voice. “What is your problem?”
Glancing at Lily, Andy shook her head. “I was wrong to do that, it’s just been very stressful lately and I snapped.” She held up her hands to calm the tall woman. “I already apologized to Em.”
“You did?” Serena stepped back. “I…” The Brazilian’s eyes widened as if just realizing what she’d done. “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me… I just…”
Andy nodded and smiled. “S’okay.” The young woman looked up at her attacker. “If anyone threatened Miranda…”
“But you are, with Miranda and I’m…” Serena looked down into Andy’s eyes, the dark orbs daring her to deny her feelings for Emily. Suddenly sagging under the weight of those very feelings, Serena almost cried. “What am I going to do?” Now it was her turn as her eyes pleaded for Andy’s help. “She thinks we’re just friends!”
Reaching out, Andy patted the woman’s arm. “We’ll figure something out.”
“You’ll help me?” Serena was surprised. “After…” She indicated the wall she’d slammed Andy into.
“Don’t worry about that.” Waving off the pseudo-attack, Andy nodded at the question. “I’ll help… but,” She pressed her lips together then continued, “I’m not sure how much longer she’ll be around.” When the woman’s features began to morph into anger, Andy quickly explained. “Miranda wants to promote Emily on… I talked her out of it the last time because Miranda needs Emily right now, not just for the wedding… but I’m not sure how much longer I can convince Miranda of that.” Andy saw comprehension dawning in Serena’s eyes, the question she was asking herself was clear.
Do I want to get any closer now? Now when she’s going to leave soon?
“Moving on?” The tall Brazilian wasn’t sure what she would do without the English woman’s presence. “Out of New York?
“Maybe…Let me know what you want to do.” Andy again patted the woman’s arm. “I’ll help, any way I can.”
Serena nodded and drifted away without another word. Lily watched her go.
“Wow…” The dark skinned woman blinked. “That was…” intense.
“Yeah,” Andy felt sorry for Serena, and Emily, it was so hard to love someone and deny yourself the joy it could bring. She’d been there and done that for longer than she cared to admit. “I hope they work it out.” Her eyes lingered on the space emptied by the Brazilian then she shook off the other women’s drama, she had enough of her own to deal with. Grabbing her friend’s arm, Andy continued their brief tour of the Closet. “C’mon, I gotta go soon.”
“Are you serious?”
Jo sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. “Yeah, she’s going insane. You have to help me.”
Andy shook her head, “I dunno if it’s a good idea or not.” She watched her friend shred a napkin. “Look, I have no doubt that Blair is good, but… a showing?”
“She can’t get Miranda’s compliment out of her head.” Jo growled. “She has spent every night this week drawing designs…new ones.” The detective sighed again. “I really think she needs to do this.”
“But…” Andy didn’t want her friend to get hurt. “…here’s the thing.” She paused, trying to think of the best wording. “Miranda is very serious about fashion. If she likes something, she says so…and if she doesn’t…”
Jo nodded in understanding. “She won’t hold back just because we’re friends.” That thought actually gave the police officer comfort.
“No, she won’t hold back.” Andy shook her head at the thought of Miranda ever doing that when it came to fashion.
“Good!” Jo put down the decimated napkin and laid her hands flat on the table. “That may be just what Blair needs.”
“You don’t think she’s good?” Andy couldn’t imagine Jo not having faith in Blair’s designs.
“Oh, I think she’s good…” The brunette hedged, “but I’m not sure she’s that good, you know? It’s been a long time since she’s done anything like this.”
“Ah.” Andy nodded. “Okay, tell her I’ll try to set something up, but next month is really busy, and July will be impossible, the only time I might be able to do will be soon, in the next two weeks. Can she be ready?”
“I’m sure she can be.” Jo looked worried. “She’s really obsessing over this…”
Andy smiled and reached out to hold Jo’s hand. “We’ll help her.” Releasing the hand, Andy’s expression turned dark. “Speaking of obsessing…” She ruffled her bangs. “I got a letter yesterday, from Judy.”
Jo sat up straighter. “And?”
“I marked it ‘Return to Sender’ and dropped it back in the mail.” Andy exhaled slowly. “I haven’t told Miranda about it yet. I’m almost scared to look in the mail today.”
“Don’t be. You did the right thing. She's circumventing the rules, somehow, to get a letter to you. Convicted criminals don't get to communicate with their...victims.” Jo took a small notebook out of her pocket and looked through the contacts on her cell phone, writing the number quickly on the small sheet. “If it keeps happening, call this guy.” She ripped the page from the notebook and handed it to Andy. “He’s in charge of the correctional facility where Judy is currently residing, until her sentence is pronounced and she’s transferred to a permanent home.”
Andy glanced at the paper before shoving it into her pant’s pocket and nodded. “Thanks.”
“Don’t let her get to you.” Jo smiled encouragingly. “She’s never getting out.”
“Yeah,” Andy thought about the boy in the park. “But how many others are out there?”
“Whoa!” The detective in Jo kicked in. “Someone else threatening you?”
“No.” Andy ruffled her bangs again. “Not really.” At Jo’s raised eyebrows, Andy sighed and told her about the boy in the park.
“Have you told the old lady?”
“No,” Andy licked her lips. “She’s really busy right now. Print deadline for the magazine is Saturday. I was planning to tell her on Sunday, so I don’t stress her out any more than necessary.”
Nodding, Jo made an offer. “You want me to run with you for a while?”
Andy laughed. “You tried that once. You can’t run for shit…”
“Hey!” Looking indignant, Jo grinned. “I catch the bad guys when I have to.”
“Yeah, but just running for the sake of running… you suck.”
“Gee thanks.” The detective rolled her eyes and laughed because she knew it was true. Picking a final bite from her plate, she pushed it away. “I better be getting back to the station.” She grinned wickedly. “Alan will think I’m somewhere with Blair…”
“Yeah, I need to get home. The girls are having some friends over after school.” Andy motioned to the waiter for the check.
“Ohhhh… doin’ the Mom thing eh?” Jo chuckled and looked her friend evaluating the brunette thoughtfully. “It suits you, you know?”
“I love it.” Andy smiled softly. “You have no idea how much.” Then she realized who she was talking to. “Oh!... Oh God, Jo… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
Jo waved off the apology. “S’okay.” She smiled, with only a tinge of sadness. “There was a time when Blair wanted kids more than anything. We did try. There was no way an agency at that time would let us adopt, no matter how rich Blair was… and now, well… we’re pretty happy with our life together. We can’t have a kid now, we’re just too old.” She laughed. “We’d be retired when they graduate high school!”
Andy blinked and spoke as if she just realized… “Miranda will be fifty-nine when the girls graduate.” She grinned at Jo’s shock. “It’s never too late.” She turned to the approaching waiter, took the check, barely looking at it before handing him a couple of bills. “Keep it.”
“Thanks.” The man smiled and bowed slightly. “You ladies, have a nice afternoon.”
“Thanks.” Jo rolled her eyes at the man’s remark and Andy chuckled. The detective linked her arm with Andy’s as they walked out of the restaurant together. “And thank you for lunch.”
“No problem.” Andy smiled and patted the arm around hers before they disconnected and parted ways on the sidewalk outside. Andy walked quickly to the subway station, intent on getting home to check the mail before the girls and their friends arrived. That reminded her of Emily and the birthday party. She pulled her phone from her pocket as she walked and dialed the number she knew by feel alone.
Miranda returned to the office in a better mood. Forty-five minutes spent doing nothing but thinking and talking about Andrea had done wonders for her disposition. The fact that she’d realized, on the way back to the office, that a lot of the work she had to do tonight could be done from home was a plus as well. It wasn’t exactly like a movie night, but being home, surrounded by her family was always good. She walked into the office, tossing her purse negligently onto Bethany’s desk, even though it was designer and probably worth as much as, or more than, the desk itself.
“Emily,” the editor stopped in front of her First Assistant’s desk. “Have you heard from the printers?”
“Yes, the invitations are finished.” Emily almost bowed to her boss. “I only need the guest list so I can have the envelopes addressed.”
Miranda’s phone chirped and she answered it quickly. “Yes, Andrea?”
“Hi, Boss.” Andy grinned into the phone. “I just wanted to let you know I didn’t ask Emily about the girls’ party yet. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to put her under that much stress.”
“She’ll be fine.” Miranda scoffed. “I’ll speak to her about it.”
“Miranda…” Andy started then stopped herself. “Whatever you think is best.”
That brought a slight smirk to Miranda’s lips. “Of course.” Her eyes glittered, knowing Andrea was rolling her eyes at that. “Emily informs me that the invitations have been printed. I’m going to tell her to hold out twenty for us to invite special people with handwritten addresses, will that be enough for you?”
“Uh… yeah, more than enough. I can’t think of twenty people I’d want to invite, much less with handwritten invitations.” Andy stood at the top of the steps leading down into the subway tunnel. “Should I ask her to dinner this evening? We can go over the guest list and I can let her talk to the girls about the birthday party.”
“Yes, I’ll do that.” Miranda smiled and nodded into the phone. “Excellent idea.”
“Thanks, Boss.” Then she realized what Miranda had said and questioned. “You’ll be home for dinner?”
“Yes.” The editor confirmed. “I’ll have to work, but I’ll be there.”
“Excellent!” Andy laughed. “Gotta go, gotta get home in time to get a little work done before the house is over run by the kids in the study group.”
“Very well.” Miranda closed her eyes for a long moment wishing Andy’s lips were as close to her ear as they sounded. “I love you, Andrea.”
“And I you.” Andy smiled at the sky and asked again with a bit of wonder in her voice, “See you at home?”
“Yes,” Miranda smiled into the phone, “at home.” She disconnected the call and held the phone to her chest for a few heartbeats, then returned her focus to her assistant.
“Emily, you will join us for dinner this evening. Be prepared to finalize the guest list.” Miranda nodded. “I also have another matter to discuss with you, so plan for a late night.”
Pressing her lips together, Emily’s mind raced. Has Andrea made good on her threat? She apologized but… Reason took over. Emily knew if she was going to be fired Miranda would already have her out the door. The English woman decided there was no use worrying over it, she’d find out in good time what ‘other matter’ her boss had in mind. “Yes, Miranda.” It would be a long night though, if she had to stay at Miranda’s late then come back here for the Book and then take it back to Miranda’s. She ventured a question. “Shall I have the Art Department hold off on the Book?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Miranda scoffed and absently gestured to the woman across the aisle. “Bethany can deliver it.”
Emily’s mouth dropped open. “But… I…” She blinked and took control of her reactions. “Yes, of course.”
“You are soon going to be far too busy for such duties.” Miranda regarded the redhead thoughtfully. She was a bit surprised at the disappointment etching its way onto her long-time assistant’s face. “Train Bethany to cover your duties during your temporary reassignment. Have you made arrangements for Mila’s stay in New York?”
At the word ‘temporary’ Emily felt as if she could breathe again. “Yes, Miranda. She’s scheduled to arrive on Sunday morning. I have accommodations ready for her.”
“I wish to speak with her first thing Monday morning.” The editor walked away from the desk without another word. It was risky bringing the model to New York, but she hoped her gamble paid off. Jean-Paul was a very talented designer, if his ex, the purported love of his life, was present at the showing, perhaps his creative side would kick in. It would mean giving him another two weeks to redesign everything, which would be cutting it very close, but there should still be plenty of time to do a photo shoot for the August issue. Settling into her office chair, Miranda looked over the layouts on her desk and sighed. “Get me Demarchelier.”
Emily immediately grabbed the phone and began to dial. Three numbers into the call, she closed her eyes, gripped the handset tightly and hung up. She looked across at Bethany and practically ordered. “Listen to what I say,” She again dialed the number, when the call connected she simply said, “Hold for Miranda,” placed the call on hold and informed Miranda, “I have Patrick.” Writing the number down on a post-it, Emily handed it to Bethany. “Whenever Miranda asks for him, call this number immediately.”
Bethany nodded and took the small yellow paper reverently, feeling somehow like a torch was being passed. “Thanks, Emily.”
“Just don’t screw up.” The English woman sighed and reached into her own purse, pulling out a key. She held the small piece of metal as though it was worth all the gold in the world. “Guard this with your life.”
Bethany’s eyes widened as she reached out and nodded. She barely heard her co-worker’s instructions as the key to Miranda’s townhouse warmed in her palm. Wow.
Andy climbed the steps out of the subway station and began to walk toward the house. She dug a small container of antibacterial gel out of her purse and covered her hands liberally with it. When that was dry she found her cell phone and searched through her Contact numbers for the right one. She held the phone to her ear as she walked and smiled as the voice sounded in her ear.
“Hey, Darlin’” The older woman’s voice reflected pure pleasure at hearing her grand-daughter’s voice. “How are things in the big city?”
“Aside from the odd sensationalistic tabloid headline or two, it’s good.” Andy smiled. “Listen, I got your letter.” The sudden stillness on the other end of the line almost made her laugh. “We think it would be great if you want to bring Mrs. King along.” A small exhale made it through the connection. “Is she doing okay?”
“She’s, well, as well as can be expected.” Pava’s voice took on a distant quality. “They were together for a long time…”
Andy nodded, “Well, she might even be of some help. I mean, she’s obviously seen her fair share of honeymooners and has probably heard a thousand wedding stories, so maybe she’ll have a few ideas on this fiasco in the making.”
Pava laughed. “You think it will be?”
“Time is the problem.” Andy sighed. “The girls are going to have to stay with their father during our honeymoon so we want to have it during the summer break. The hotel had an opening at the end of July, so that worked out. But, now we have to get everything done.”
“You have a planner though, right?” Pava wasn’t sure why her grand-daughter should be stressing over this at all. That was the planner’s job.
“Oh, yeah, Emily is handling most of it.” Andy agreed. “But there are decisions that need made. Invitation styles we’ve already done, but there’s still the music, the cake, the menu…” And the biggest one of all, the one that was terrifying her beyond all reason. “…the dress. Gram, I have to pick out a wedding dress.” It wasn’t just a monumental decision, like a normal bride oh no, Andy had to pick out a wedding dress to get married to the woman who decides what fashion is on a daily basis. Her voice quavered as she pleaded. “I need help, Gram.”
Pava chuckled. “We’ll help you, darlin’. We’ll get things squared away here and c’mon over. End of next week sound okay? I think your mother has a job until then.”
“It sounds perfect, Gram.” Andy felt better already. “I’ll call Ma and see what’s going on with her.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, wondering if her Father would speak to her this time. Instead of voicing that concern she went back to the problem at hand. “There’s just so much to do.”
“Most of those things sound like fairly basic decisions.” Music though, I hope I can talk Dorothy out of wanting a Karaoke machine at the reception.
“Yeah Gram, they all just take time.” Andy sighed. “I’ll call Ma.” She thought the woman would be in school at this time. “I’ll just leave a message on her machine. See ya next week?”
“Yep, we’ll be there, Darlin’” Pava smiled into the phone. “See you then.”
Andy nodded. “See ya.” She disconnected the call and walked a few more steps before she dialed another number. The tension that had dissipated during her talk with Pava began to creep back as the tone warbled in her ear. It was answered after the third ring.
“Ma?” Andy was startled that the woman had actually answered. “I thought you’d be in class. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine, Honey, I only had one class to cover this morning.” She wondered why her daughter was calling out of the blue. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just talked to Gram about coming to New York, to help with the wedding…” Andy cleared her throat. “She said you might be busy until next week?”
“Yes, starting tomorrow I’m filling in during a teacher’s vacation, they’ll be back on Wednesday.” Dorothy hesitated. “I suppose I could tell them to find someone else.”
“No, Ma, that’s okay. Just when you finish, come on, we can spend the weekend visiting and the next week we can start the search for dresses and such.” Andy was actually a little relieved that her family wasn’t going to be able to visit for a little while. Miranda was going to be very busy until Saturday and she knew once the editor finished the current issue of Runway, they would want to spend some ‘quality time’ with each other. This way she and Miranda would have four days to themselves.
“Are you sure?” Dorothy worried that it seemed she was putting her work before her child.
“Positive, Ma.” Andy assured the woman. “Whenever you can make it, just let me know.”
“Okay, Sweetie…” Dorothy paused again, then continued. “I’ll see you next week.”
Andy was just on the verge of asking about her Dad when Dorothy sighed. “I doubt your Father will join us.”
“I…” Andy stopped walking for a second. “I didn’t think he would.”
“He does love you…” Dorothy hated that her husband and daughter were at odds.
“I know, Ma…” Andy began to move again, this time her feet took her in the direction of the park. “I know.”
After reassurances from her mother that they would make travel plans as soon as they could, Andy pocketed her phone and walked aimlessly through the park. She wished Patricia was with her, not only for companionship, but also because the dog loved to go for walks. She didn’t linger in the park for long though, knowing she had to get some work done before the kids arrived.
To be continued