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Andrei (Part 2A of 2 )
duwinter

Title: Andrei (Part 2A of 2 )

Author: duwinter

Fandom: DWP

Pairing: Unspecified

Rating: PG

Setting: Some months after the end of the events in the movie. Movie Canon.

Summary: Miranda blacklists Andy after Paris. Andy needs a job.

Disclaimer: The Devil Wears Prada and it's characters do not belong to me. No profit being made here. I'm just playing with the characters for a short while and I promise to put them away neatly when I'm through.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to punky_96 who forges ahead each year with the July Fic-A-Thon. Thank you for your hard work on behalf of this community. Your efforts are appreciated.

Comment: Comments feed the muse and the muse is always hungry. Remember, a fat muse is a happy and productive muse. Comments and constructive criticism eagerly encouraged.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Humble thanks to jah728 who betaed this story for me. Your efforts on my behalf make this a much better story than it otherwise would have been. Thank you for helping me. This story has been slightly tweaked since the last beta read-through so any and all mistakes are strictly my own.

Added Special Thanks To: the_w3stindian & punky_96 who patiently helped me work though the fact that I have a bad habit for exposition when dialog makes the story come more to life.




Andrei

Part 2A

During the academic school year the Priestly twins attended the Dalton School, one of the highest rated private schools in the country. They had done so since their first day of kindergarten and, barring some unlikely exigency, would continue to do so until their high-school graduation. With the school's reputation for academic excellence, its staff demanded a great deal of its students, even during said students' summer vacation. Most schools had a reading list that students were encouraged to work through during their break from classes. Dalton had such a list and it also insisted on the completion of a significant project each summer break. The project was tailored to each student and usually was aimed at engaging the particular student's interest in a course they would be taking during the fall semester of the coming school year. It was mid-summer when working on such a project would result in Caroline and Cassidy Priestly learning the truth about their Au Pair.

Cassidy had had an elective English course requirement for the coming school year and was developing an interest in creative writing. Dalton offered such a course as an elective for which Cassidy had registered. She had spoken to the teacher who would teach the course in the fall and had her request to write a fictional short story as her summer project approved. She had actually spoken to Andy briefly about the project on the telephone one of the weeks that she was in residence at her mother's. Andy had gladly offered suggestions on how to get started, one of them being the age old writer's adage, write what you know. Cassidy was happy that she had gotten to share something she was interested in with Andy and glad for the suggestions that had been offered. Although what she wanted to write was a sort of fairy tale placed in the real world, much like one of her favorite television shows, Once Upon A Time, she decided to have her story take place in the Hamptons so she could add recognizable local color.

On the Thursday of the third week that Andrei had spent engaged as the twins Au Pair, Caroline, Cassidy and he found themselves on the wooden dock of a local marina before it was light. Cassidy had shamelessly begged Andrei to bring them so she could witness the sun rising over the water. There was a scene in her story were one of her protagonists sat on the deck of the boat he lived on and ruminated over his unhappy love life, while watching the sun come up. Cassidy was quite persuasive that she needed to see it so she could not only describe it accurately but know the feelings that seeing it evoked.

Andrei stood beside Cassidy facing east, in the direction of the promising pink glow just staining the edge of the low heavens below an ominous line of approaching thunderheads. The low sky in the edge of dawn morning promised a brief calm, but dark clouds on the horizon and the choppy, white capped sea heralded a coming storm.

Caroline, not a morning person and less invested in the predawn trip, had tiredly lagged a bit behind the others, finding one of the luxury yachts tied up against one side of the dock more interesting than the colors running riot across the lightening sky. The whole length of the pier was only a hundred or so feet long and there was little in the way of anything obstructing line of sight along its length. The dawn was a spectacular scene of magnificent natural beauty and Andrei was glad he'd agreed to bring Cassidy out to see it. The sound of a sudden splash reached Andrei's ears and he turned his head, looking towards the last place he'd seen his other charge. The space that Caroline had inhabited, standing and admiring the yacht sitting in its slip, was empty. Andrei anxiously snapped his gaze up and down the length and breadth of the pier. Caroline was nowhere in evidence. His mind kicked in, tying the sound he'd heard to possible scenarios. He moved, rushing a third of the length of the pier to where Caroline had last been standing. Glancing down into the water his worst fears where confirmed. Caroline, sputtering, broke the surface in the dangerous space between the boat's hull and the pilings that the pier rested on. It was clearly evident that the young woman struggling in the water was in trouble. The rise and fall of the tide was causing the boats to slam into the rubber tire bumpers with alarming regularity. Andrei could immediately see the danger. The rubber would stop the boat from hitting the wood but even with that protection Caroline was in a huge amount of danger. She could be crushed in the narrow space between one of the wooden pilings and the hull of the boat when the movement of the water caused them to clash together.

Without consideration for consequences, without thought to his own safety, in a matter of heartbeats Andy dove recklessly off the edge of the pier and into the water beside the floundering girl. No thought was wasted to the role she had been playing. The only thing that mattered was Caroline's safety and Andy would place her own body in harm's way before she allowed anything happen to a girl she loved like a daughter.

Caroline was coughing up water, disoriented, struggling to stay afloat. “I've got you,” Andy said close to the frightened girl's ear as she closed a life-saving hold around the girl's neck. She gave silent thanks for having learned the move for a job as a lifeguard at the community pool the summer before college. “Just relax and I'll get us both out of here” she said reassuringly near the girl's ear. Supporting the young woman, Andy kicked hard with her legs, guiding them back under the pier where the hull of the boat could not accidentally crush them against a piling. It was not a moment too soon as a swell of the ocean caused the side of the yacht to slam up against the bumpers that protected it.

”We could have been crushed,” Caroline weakly sputtered.

Guiding her charge, making sure the girl's face was held above water so she could breathe, Andy swam them under the width of the pier to where a floating dock for small boats rode the surface of the water and a ladder climbed up onto the pier itself.

She assisted Caroline, who was still in some distress, out of the water and onto the floating dock, then clambered up after her. The young woman was conscious, although still wheezing and trying to clear her breathing.

Cassidy worriedly hurried down the ladder from the pier and jogged the short distance across the floating platform to where the two figures crouched. She stopped close beside her sister and dropped to her knees. Andrei crouched beyond Caroline on the far side. Cassidy quickly placed her hands on her sister's shoulder, physical contact enhancing their twin's bond, making sure of her sister's condition and then she glanced up, intending to thank her sister's savior. Her breath caught, all attention now focused on the bedraggled figure. The handsome young man's carefully combed hair was a wet mess pushed in ways no man would ever wear it and the rugged early morning stubble that he had apologized for not having time to shave off, was half washed away. What was left was running in dark rivulets like ruined mascara.

Helping Caroline into a sitting position, Andy worriedly patted the young woman on the back trying to get her to expel any water that Caroline hadn't already coughed up. “Are you alright?” She demanded, any thought of the role she was playing or maintaining her accent gone in the adrenaline fueled, panicked moment.

“Andy?” Cassidy asked, shock evident in her voice. Caroline opened surprised eyes and looked at her Au Pair.

Andy sighed as her shoulders slumped. “You're right, kiddos, it's me” she admitted quietly.

“But...but...” Caroline stammered.

“Andy,” Cassidy said, looking both shocked and confused, “Why are you masquerading as a man?”

“It's a long story,” Andy temporized, not really knowing how to explain without telling the twins that their mother wouldn't let her work for a living in New York City. “Are you sure you're okay Caroline?” she asked, hoping to change the subject.

“I'm fine, Andy, but I might not have been if you hadn't jumped in and pulled me out. The fall to the water really knocked the breath out of me,” the young girl admitted, shivering.

Andy hugged the frightened girl close.

Cassidy wasn't having any of it. She rose and moved around to where she braced her Au Pair between her body and Caroline's. “Andy,” she said urgently, “you need to explain this. Because if Dad finds out you're not the Romanian man he hired he's going to lose his freaking mind.”

Andy nodded. “After I quit working for your mom I missed you guys really bad,” she said hesitantly, “but I couldn't see you because she's really mad at me for leaving her in such an unprofessional manner. She thinks I'm immature and unreliable,” she recited. It was with some pain that she remembered the response one of the people she had interviewed with received from the office of the Editor-in-Chief of Runway. “I knew your mom wouldn't let your dad hire me as your nanny.” Seeing Cassidy becoming agitated and knowing the young woman was going to lash out at her mother, Andy quickly continued. “And if I'm being really fair, she's right. I screwed up big-time leaving that job like I did. Your mom was up to her neck in her busiest and most important week of her work year and I was supposed to be there to help her. I walked out without notice, leaving her without an assistant. I should have been an adult and given two-weeks notice like you're supposed to when you leave a job. When you do something like walking out, word tends to follow you around and it makes it tough to get another job. I was about out of money and not knowing what to do when I got Caroline's text telling me that you needed a new nanny. When I was in high-school and college I was involved in the drama programs and I often played male roles.” She hung her head, a bit ashamed. “I was desperate and I wanted to be close to you guys. I came up with this crazy scheme and I've been Andrei the weeks I've been taking care of you. And that's how we got to where we are.” She sighed heavily. “I should have known it was too good to last. We'll get you back to your dad's place and have your doctor come over and have a look at you. Then I'll call your dad, tell him the truth and resign as your Au Pair.”

Caroline and Cassidy looked at each other and spent one of those endless moments where it was obvious that they were communicating without speech or gesture. It was something that Andy had been fascinated by since she'd gotten to know them.

“No.” Cassidy said emphatically, answering for both sisters. “Not happening.”

Caroline nodded from where she sat, with Andy's hands still on her. “This never happened,” she said, her eyes still locked with her sister. “I never fell in the water. We'll go back to Dad's house. He'll be on his way to work before we get there. We'll have till at least dinnertime to get you straightened out. Then we go on just like before with you taking care of us.”

Andy shook her head. “You need to see a doctor Caroline. Water in the lungs can lead to pneumonia. I won't take the chance of you getting sick. I won't put you in a position that you'd be lying to your father in order to protect me, either.”

“Then it was Andrei that went into the water to save me and Andrei that came out again,” Caroline insisted, rising from where she sat. “We'll get back to the house and get you straightened out. Then you can call the doctor.”

Cassidy nodded adamantly, “We've missed you too Andy. Really bad,” she said. “It's not fair that we can't see you because Mom is in some kind of snit. Now that you're here, my sister and I aren't willing to let you go. Besides, with Caroline and me knowing about your disguise, we can help keep your secret!”

*****

Sleep for Miranda had, for many years, been much like she imagined death to be. There was nothingness, oblivion. She knew that she must, in fact, dream, for medical science informed her that if one did not dream, they quickly became psychotic. For many years, however, she had not carried any images she might have experienced in dreams into the waking world. She had attributed this phenomenon to the fact that she used so much of her imagination each and every day in the creative process of keeping Runway at the pinnacle of fashion publishing that her subconscious found no need to express itself to her waking mind.

Tonight however, she awoke suddenly, her breath coming quickly, her body tingling where phantom hands, lips and tongues had, in her dream, been oh so gently worshiping her frame. Images flashed behind her eyes and then attempted to slip away into the haze of a half remembered dream. She stilled herself and closed her eyes, willing herself to remember. It was slightly troubling that she discovered that she'd had two figures making her their plaything in her dream. One was her daughters' Au Pair, who she really knew nothing about. The other was the madding woman that had been her second assistant until abandoning her during Paris Fashion Week a handful of months ago. A fleeting thought of how similar her two dream lovers were physically, a female and male, paired, yin and yang. Then the thought slipped away.

She could not remember another time that she had woken from such an intensely erotic dream in the condition she found herself in, wet with desire and with her body on fire. She decided that a cup of herbal tea would calm her nerves enough to allow her to return to the arms of Morpheus. Rising from her bed, she made her way to the kitchen and heated water in the electric kettle. As she placed a teabag in her cup, she was assaulted with brief flashes from the dream; lips and tongues, fingers and hands, caresses and wet licks. Her body clenched and her need rose. Tea simply wasn't going to relax her enough to return to her bed. She would instead, she decided, go and find her long unused bag of sex toys that she had secreted away in her bedroom. She would relieve the madding itch she'd awoken to and then try to sleep again.

Sitting at her desk at Runway the next morning sipping her scalding hot latte, she considered the meaning of the events of the previous eighteen hours. It had been full of surprises. Her body's response to a young man she did not know had been unexpected, to say the least. She had never been a very sexual person. She had never been with a partner that had really engendered that kind of response in her. Oh there had been moments in her life that she had felt want, attraction and desire for another individual. Such feelings were root and branch of why she was trying to force that silly ex-second assistant of hers back to work at Runway. While she would never engage in such lurid behavior as having an affair with one of her employees, Andrea had always been a special case. The feelings the young doe-eyed brunette engendered in her were just so deliciously wrong. While Miranda did not normally remember her dreams, last night was not the first time Andrea Sachs was the focus of waking fantasies. It had been Miranda's intention for some time to bring the girl back into her sphere of influence and then vicariously enjoy the illicit tingle that the girl's presence caused her.

She was perfectly aware that there were striking similarities between the appearance of Andrea and her daughters' Au-pair. So much so that one might believe them to be related by blood. The beautiful young man had eyes similar to Andrea's. It was the shape of the eye, not the color. Andrea's eyes were a wonderful warm honey brown while the young man's eyes were as dark as sin. There were similarities in the bone structure of their faces as well. The cheek bones and the shape of the nose were alike.

She glanced at her work calendar in her day planner. Next week, when the girls were with their father, she would be flying to Los Angeles to oversee a photo shoot featuring Chloe Milan, an extremely popular young starlet, one her daughters very much admired. If I were to call the girls' father and suggest they accompany me, she thought, they would be able to meet the young woman they idolize. She smiled her shark's smile. I'd simply be forced to borrow their Au Pair. I'd be busy with the shoot much of the time and the nanny I employ does not work the weeks my daughters are with their father. Such a trip would provide ample opportunity to learn something of the young man who is taking care of my daughters. I could ascertain whether familiarity breeds contempt or if he continues to inspire my unusual level interest. “Emily,” she called out to her assistant, “Get the twins' father on the phone. I need to speak with him.”

*****

It was early Wednesday evening when the prepaid disposable cell phone that Andy had acquired for Andrei's use rang. Knowing that only a select few had the telephone number, and that the ring tone was the one Andy had assigned to her employer's assistant, Mark, she was in full voice flavored with Andrei's Romanian accent when she answered the device.

“Hey Andrei,” Mark said hurriedly. Mark always seemed out of breath when he spoke with Andrei on the phone, much as if he had just run a footrace.

Andy understood. She had worked for Miranda Priestly and knew what it was like to be the frantic assistant to a busy high powered individual. Always rushed to finish whatever you were doing so you could get on to the next thing on your list.

“Thad told me to tell you to pack a bag,” the man on the other end of the phone plowed on, without slowing. “The twins will be spending next week in sunny Los Angeles. Thad needs you to go with them and be there to take care of them the majority of the time. Plan to be out there the entire week. A car service will pick you up at your place at four forty-five A.M. on Friday morning and take you out to Teterboro airport. Stay with the car and it'll take you right out onto the tarmac. You'll be traveling via private jet. The twins will meet you on-board.”

Andy held her breath for a moment. If the expectation had been for Andrei to board a commercial flight she would have had a serious problem. As good as her disguise was, it wasn't going to beat the x-ray scanners that ticket-holders had to go through at airport security to get to the boarding gates. A private plane meant that there would be no such scans. Andrei would simply leave the car he had traveled to the airport in and board the plane. “I'll be ready,” Andrei answered and a moment later Mark was no longer on the phone. Andy smiled as she wondered what was taking her employer and his daughters out to Los Angeles.

*****

Making the transition from Andy to Andrei required an hour plus of donning the several prosthetics and appliances used to create the illusion that she was a man. That meant that Friday morning started early. Andy was up at two-thirty preparing for the trip to California. Having been Miranda's assistant and still, in many ways, running on “Miranda” time, Andy's alter-ego was on the curb in front of the apartment he was supposedly sharing with Doug fifteen minutes before the car-service was supposed to show up. Strangely enough, the car-service was also early. The ride to the airport at that time of morning was uneventful and other than the driver being in a very chatty frame of mind, it was pleasant enough. Getting through the security gate to the runway for private aircraft was uneventful and twenty minutes before he was due, Andrei turned his meager luggage over to the waiting ground crew at the bottom of the boarding ramp and boarded the waiting Cessna Citation X private jet. There he was met by the plane's stewardess, a pretty, if quite thin, young woman in an exceptionally well tailored uniform. He was shown to a seat in the luxurious cabin. As the stewardess offered a beverage of his choice, she flirted with him outrageously. Andy once again found herself wondering just what it was about the character she had created that caused the reaction it did in the women that encountered Andrei.

Accepting the cappuccino he had ordered, he settled back into the seat and thought about the handful of times while with Runway that his other self had flown in such luxury. Andy hadn't been able to enjoy those flights because she had always been accompanying Miranda. When one was in the fashion icon's employ one didn't have time to relax to enjoy the petty physical comforts such surroundings provided. They were much too busy taking care of the million and one things necessary to keep Miranda at the top of her game. On this flight Andrei would be looking after the twins and perhaps engage with their father a bit. Andy had done some cramming on Renaissance artworks and boned up on local sports in order to have things to discuss knowledgeably with her employer.

Andrei heard the twins before he saw them enter the plane's cabin. This was in no way unusual. They were talking excitedly and, as always when going anywhere they wanted to go, they were in a hurry. They saw him and squealed their delight, each rushing to give him a hug. He rose to greet them and chastely embraced each girl in turn. Looking up, expecting to see their father, his eyes met the storm blue eyes of the Devil in Prada. Andy's world shifted on its axis. “Mira..,” he stuttered, shocked. “Mrs. Priestly,” he corrected, his mind struggling to catch up with this unexpected turn of events.

Miranda languorously offered her hand, not turned to the side, as one would, if desiring to shake the young man's hand, but with the palm down and fingers slightly curled, her expectation obvious.

With a slight tremble Andrei took the offered hand and bowing his head over the appendage he brushed his lips across the flawless skin.

Miranda sighed “Andrei,” softly, the sound contented and it tingled down Andy's nerves. Oh how she had longed for Miranda to make such a sound about her attentions when she had been the icon's assistant.

“Miranda,” the older woman corrected, her voice just a touch husky, her entire demeanor exuding charm. “You must call me Miranda,” she continued, reaching out and grasping Andrei's hand. “I am so pleased that you agreed to make this trip. My girls are looking forward to meeting an idol of theirs and it will give you and me the opportunity to get to know something of each other. You spend a great deal of time with my children and I'd like to get to know the man that is taking care of them.”

Andy felt the warmth and the slight insistent pressure of the older woman's hand. She had gotten very good at reading the incredible woman who she had once worked for, and unless she badly missed her guess, that selfsame woman now seemed to be flirting coquettishly with Andy's male other-self. Something that in Andy's mind was completely out of the woman's character. It forced her to again take a moment to wonder just what in Dante's nine hells it was about the male doppelganger she had created that had the effect he seemed to have on the women around him. Gently retrieving her hand, Andy focused on her role and engaged in conversation with Andrei's charges' mother. “It is my pleasure, Ms Pri...Miranda. I have not been to Los Angeles before. This trip should prove most interesting.”

“Oh, I have absolutely no doubt about that,” Miranda practically purred.

The involuntary shiver that ran down Andy's back wasn't completely unpleasant.

*****

The flight to Los Angeles was, in a word, surreal. Andrei found himself in the company of a Miranda Priestly that Andy had only glimpsed. No assistant accompanied the woman aboard the plane and other than a brief telephone call, made just before take-off, confirming that her team for the photo shoot was already in route to California, the woman abandoned business all together for the duration of the flight.

Andrei was witness to Miranda with her daughters and the sight made Andy fall even more deeply under the woman's spell.

About halfway through the flight, the twins had started a card matching game called Jaipur that only accommodated two players. It left Miranda free to seek Andrei's company for some quiet conversation. She approached where he sat with two glasses in one hand and a bottle of wine in an ice-bucket in the other. She slid into the seat across the table from him and placed the wine chiller on the small table tray before him. “Will you pour?” she asked, her voice as soft and sexy as Andy had ever imagined it in her most forbidden fantasies.

Andrei lifted the bottle from the ice-bucket and poured Miranda a glass of the rich red wine. He then returned the bottle to the chiller. Miranda frowned. “Do you not drink wine?” She asked, seemingly perplexed, though the only reason Andy knew that was how in-tune she had become with the woman's moods when she was working closely with her every day. Andrei shook his head. “It is not that,” he answered, his manner deferential. “I am working. One does not drink while on the job.”

Miranda smiled. “Very commendable,” she answered, “if somewhat disappointing.” she continued, then she took a sip of her wine. '”Although I commend you on your diligence. You are, after all, responsible for taking care of my daughters.” She relaxed suggestively into the form fitting chair that passengers rode in while airborne. The movement was subtle, but seductive, clearly meant to garner her companion’s complete attention. “Why don't you tell me about yourself,” she smiled at him.

Andy was completely aware of the formidable Priestly personality and intelligence focused on her. She knew that lying to Miranda was dangerous. The woman had a sixth sense about the veracity of what people told her. The damage, however, was already done and Andy was trapped in a box made out of her own deception. There was no choice but to continue on and maintain the illusion.

“Not a great deal to tell,” Andrei answered with a shrug, his Romanian accent flavoring the response. “I was born and raised in the city of Sighişoara in Romania. I went to school there until I decided to come to America to go to university. After I graduated with a liberal arts degree I had difficulty finding work. I found employment as an Au Pair for a set of young fraternal twins. When their parents left the country to pursue their study of a primitive tribe in the wilds of the Amazon rainforest, I decided I had no desire to go with them. That left me again looking for work. Caroline and Cassidy's father was kind enough to hire me.”

She was painfully aware of the way that Miranda continued to watch Andy's male alter-ego with a speculative gleam in her eye. She had only encountered that look a handful of times when dealing with the white haired woman that haunted her dreams. The first was a pale imitation of the look that was presently focused on him. It occurred when Miranda found something she wanted for Runway and was being denied having it. It never lasted very long because Miranda never allowed the situation of being denied to last for any amount of time. She focused on the problem, solved it and got what she wanted. The other place Andy had seen that look was in her most erotic dreams, just before Miranda would start to seduce her.

Miranda finished her wine and held out the glass, obviously expecting it to be refilled. Andy obliged without really thinking about it. Even after being away from the woman for the length of time she had, it was simply an ingrained habit to see to it that whatever Miranda needed was provided as quickly as humanly possible. “I've seen some photographs of the historic part of your native city,” Miranda offered with a wicked little smile on her lips. “The wonderful, colorfully painted, medieval buildings. It would make a lovely backdrop for a photo-spread.”

Andy couldn't fathom it. Here sat Miranda Priestly, making small-talk with an insignificant young employee far below her station. Not only making small talk, but guiding it. Something Andy would have believed that Miranda would have had absolutely no interest in doing. She so wanted to understand what it was about the male doppelganger she had created that seemed to have the effect he did. She knew that the character she had created wasn't handsome in the classical sense. He was pretty, rather, more effeminate than what would be a traditional construct of what would be considered handsome. As her mind repeatedly ran in these circles she suddenly realized that she'd had made a dreadful mistake. She had lost the thread of what Miranda had been saying. The woman looked at him expectantly, evidently waiting for a response. Andy searched the part of her mind that had not been musing on Miranda's apparent attraction to Andrei, frantically looking for a clue to what he had been asked.

Miranda cocked an impatient eyebrow.

Perhaps, fortunately, Caroline chose that precise moment to suddenly appear beside Miranda's chair. “Andrei's family name means Son of Vladimir, Mom, but it's not really Vladimir in his case. It's just Vlad!” She exclaimed excitedly, apparently offering Miranda the answer she had been seeking. “Andrei is related to the guy that Dracula was based off of!”

Miranda expression, subtle though it was, clearly told Andy that she was curious as to what her daughter might mean. She glanced to where Andrei sat and then to her daughter's animated face. She cocked her head and spoke gently, seeking to correct her daughter. “Dracula is a fantasy character, Bobbsey.”

Andrei's eyes widened at Caroline as he was suddenly aware that Cassidy was just behind his chair. “The vampire was fantasy, mom, but Bram Stoker based the character off a real guy!“ Cassidy added. “A medieval prince from Transylvania!”

Miranda's eyes snapped back to where Andrei sat. “A Transylvanian prince?” she asked, her tone cool.

Anyone else would have thought her as indifferent to the answer, her demeanor unfazed. She seemed as icy as when dealing with most of what went on around her at her office at Runway, but Andy could read her better that anyone other than perhaps her daughters. She could tell that Miranda was concerned that her daughters might have been told tall tales. This created a moral dilemma. She wanted to avoid telling Miranda falsehoods, but all of the ground work that she and Doug had done back in college to create a paper trail supporting the existence of one Andrei Vladimirescu came back to haunt her. When planning Andrei's rebirth Doug had shown her that some of the materials that had been fed to the university's computer network had, at some point, found their way onto the World Wide Web. A simple computer search on her character's name and bits and pieces of the false documentation came up. One of those pieces clearly tied his supposed maternal linage to a minor branch of the Florescu family who were the most direct descendants of Vlad the Third, called Ţepeş, or the impaler, the man who Bram Stoker had morphed into his Vampire count. To deny the supposed background material, much of which she suspected that the twins' father had already looked up, and then have Miranda check the available documents, would spell disaster. In a predicament of her own creation, Andy did what any actor would do. She set her mind into improvisational mode and played the role she had created for her character. Her words spun out the tale as she had originally written it so long ago. “The country, if you could call it that, was Wallachia, actually,” he answered carefully. “Transylvania was a neighbor state and was ruled by a family named Báthory at the time.” Miranda shifted her position in her seat, her body language becoming even more open. One look in eyes of the woman she secretly loved told Andy that she was in trouble. The fascinating stormy blue orbs of La Priestly sparked curiosity.

“The hereditary title, that the bloodline I am distantly related to, was given, was Voivode, which is the same as prince, sort of,” he answered, taking interest in refilling Miranda's wineglass so that he didn't have to look her in the eye. “Although it has also been translated as warlord. Stoker, who wrote the novel Dracula, apparently had read some rather lurid German account of my ancestor’s time as ruler. He used the material as the basis for his monster.”

Miranda accepted her refilled wineglass from his hand. “So I am in the presence of nobility?” She asked lightly.

“Far from it,” Andrei answered chuckling. “My life to date has been exceptionally ordinary, even mundane. My father was a small town attorney, my mother, a housewife. As far as the bloodline I am descended from, I would as soon not be associated with Vlad Ţepeş. Some in my country see him as a national hero that stopped the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe. Personally, I think it likely that he was a sadistic and murderous monster.”

“I'd be interested in hearing all about him, and about you as well. We will have time to talk this evening during dinner,” Miranda said with a small wicked smile. “Girls, “she continued, turning her attention to her daughters, “I have a surprise for you. You two will be dining with Chloe and her entourage this evening. Chloe's manager tells me that she's very anxious to meet you both.”

The twins squealed their delight and Andy's mouth went dry. Dinner with Miranda, she thought. The woman pretending to be a man cast frantically about for an idea to save herself. A lifeline of an idea presented itself. “Miranda,” he asked carefully, “won't I need to chaperone the girls if they are going to be dining with a group of people you don't really know well?”

The older woman turned slightly in her chair, stretching again in such a way as to remind Andy that at fifty years of age, Miranda Priestly possessed a killer body. “Again, I commend you on your devotion to your job,” the silver haired woman said, amusement in her tone. “It is rare these days to find a young employee that takes their work as seriously as you seem too. The dinner is being held in the hotel restaurant and a number of my employees will also be attending to discuss the details of the upcoming photo shoot,” she answered. “My second assistant is on her way to Los Angeles with the Runway team. She will attend the dinner with the express purpose of keeping an eye on my girls. That will give you and me some time to get to know each other better.”

Dinner, Andy pondered, Dinner with Miranda. How many times have I dreamed of having a dinner with just the two of us. Granted, in my fantasies, they were intimate, romantic dinners. She glanced at the woman seated across from her and the avid look in Miranda's eyes stopped her cold. This is bad, she realized frantically. This is very, very bad. I have to find a way to get out of this!

Fortunately for Andy, the twins were terribly excited about the dinner their mother had arranged with their idol. They demanded Miranda's attention with a thousand questions, which left Andy free for the remainder of the flight to fret and try unsuccessfully to control her rising panic.

*****

Andy paced restlessly back and forth in her hotel room. Once before, while working for Miranda, she had gone on a trip with the fashion icon and the twins. The girls' nanny had traveled with them on that trip. That nanny's accommodations had been several floors below the suite that Miranda and the twins had stayed in. Her room had been booked on the same floor that the rest of the Runway team had been housed on. Andy wondered, almost hysterically, how things were so different on this trip. Her bedroom wasn't safely away from Miranda's. It was actually located in Miranda's luxury suite, separated from the room Miranda would be sleeping in only by the distance across the common sitting room that all of the bedrooms in the suite opened onto. Andy sat heavily on the bed. She couldn't fathom just how screwed she was. For all of her overwrought mind's activity, she couldn't figure a way out of the predicament she found herself in.

A knock on the door roused her from her thoughts and before she could respond, a tornado of activity in the form of her twin charges erupted into the room. “We're going to have dinner with Chloe!” Caroline gushed. “Isn't Mom amazing! She knew we wanted to meet her ever since we saw her in...” The excited girl got a look at her Au Pair's face. “What's wrong Andy?” she asked, obviously sensing her friend's distress.

“What's wrong?!” Andy replied, her tone histrionic. She glanced guiltily to the doorway to the common room making sure that Cassidy had closed it upon entering. She modulated her voice so it would not carry beyond the four walls that enclosed them. “I'm lying to your mother is what's wrong! I don't want to lie to her. It's not a good way to remain sane or healthy!”

Cassidy chuckled. “Mom did seem kind of sweet on you during the flight. Just like all our friends' nannies seem sweet on you,” she singsonged.

“You noticed that,” Andy grated.

“Of course we noticed it,” Caroline answered. “Mom doesn't drink wine and talk with our nannies. She just orders them around. She treats them pretty much the same way she does all of her assistants from Runway.”

“I'm dead,” Andy moaned. “I am so dead!” She dramatically dropped her face into her hands. “She going to find out and then she'll kill me!”

“Why would she find out?” Cassidy asked, sitting down on the bed beside Andy. “You've managed to fool her so far,” she continued, reaching out and placing a supportive hand on Andy's shoulder. “And you're always so much a gentleman with the other nannies. You never do anything to lead them on. Just play it that way with mom and you should be fine.”

“You don't understand!” The woman pretending to be a man answered. “I don't want to be lying to your mom! Especially not your mom! I don't want to be left alone with her! It could get all sorts of weird!”

Caroline looked at Andy curiously and then it was as if a light went on over her head. “You think mom's interested in you!” She exclaimed, giggling. “You think she wants some hot and sweaty sungglebunnies!”

“Caroline Priestly!” Andy hissed, shocked and wide eyed, raising her head from her hands.
.

“Eww!” Cassidy exclaimed. “Didn't need the image burned into my brain, sis,” she said pointedly to her twin. Then she got a thoughtful look on her face. After a moment she continued glancing from Andy to Caroline and back again. “My pervert of a sister could be right, though,” she said carefully from where she stood inside the bedroom door. “I've never seen mom have trouble picking out what to wear before when all she was going to do was stay in the room and order dinner from room service!”

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” Andy responded breathlessly, a full blown panic attack on the near horizon.

“Just tell her you're gay,” Caroline advised sagely, “Tell her you have a boyfriend.”

“It's not that easy!” Andy replied, words tumbling over each other in her near hysteria.

“Why not?' Cassidy asked trying to comfort her obviously distressed friend.

“Because I am gay and I'm in love with her!” Andy blurted, panic routing any filters she had between her brain and her mouth.” Eyes wide with horror at what she'd allowed to slip out she clamped both hands over her traitorous lips.

The room fell dead silent.

“You're in love with mom?” Cassidy asked in a small voice, her young hand still on Andy's arm.

Andy sniffled, tears beginning to cascade from her eyes. “Oh God, I shouldn't have said that. You shouldn't have heard it.” she said pitifully. “I can't be here! I have to get out of here!”

Cassidy was suddenly on the other side of her. “How long have you had feelings for mom?” She asked, obviously confused. “And if you have feelings for mom, why did you walk out on her in Paris?”

“I left because I was in love with her. I couldn't keep working for her with how I felt about her! The closer I got to her, the more that I got to know the two of you, the deeper I fell.” She shook her head sadly. “I knew that nothing could ever come of it. I was just another replaceable cog in the machine of Runway. She had replaced me before I ever flew out of Paris,” Andy continued, tears at the edge of her voice.

“Wow,” Caroline whispered.

Andy looked around as if she were a trapped animal. ”What do I do?” She whispered miserably.

“You've got to be Andrei for tonight,” Caroline said urgently. “You have to play it cool and pull this off! If mom finds out you're not who you're supposed to be, it would be...bad.

“Bad, she says,” Cassidy responded. “My sister, the master of freaking understatement. I said that dad would lose his mind if he found out about you. Mom would make dad freaking out pale in comparison. She'd have a total meltdown.”

Andy bent over and tried to catch her breath. She wished she had a paper bag to breathe into because she was pretty sure that hyperventilating until she passed out wouldn't be a good idea. With a force of will she slowed herself down, forcing her body to draw long slow gulps of air. She held each breath for a moment before expelling it. She nodded. The girls were right. There wasn't any other choice. She had to be Andrei tonight. It was going to have to be the performance of her life.

*****

Miranda glanced again at the three outfits she had spread out on the bed. Each of the combinations had its particular attractions. A tailored Armani power suit would show her figure off to good advantage and with an extra button on the blouse undone it could be alluring. She was also comfortable in suits. They made a statement, spoke of her power. She wondered, however, if it sent the message she wanted to send. She wanted her young dinner companion comfortable. She wanted him feeling in control. It was an exceptionally rare occasion that Miranda wanted to engage in the illusion of relinquishing control to another person, but tonight she did. Tonight she wanted the young man she was attracted to to feel like he was the one running the show.

She then looked to the draped, wrap Elie Saab dress in pearl gray silk. It covered from neck to knee, but the shimmering material would play over her body like liquid every time she moved.

The third outfit she was contemplating was something she usually wouldn't consider entertaining in. It was a raw silk lounging outfit based off the design of a caftan. An up and coming designer had had the audacity to send her several of his pieces in her size, along with a request for her candid opinion on the garments. This was the only one of the garments provided in that shipment that she had taken a personal interest in. It was extremely comfortable and Miranda knew she looked absolutely sensational in it. It made her feel decadent when she wore it. It was far more informal than she would normally wear when entertaining, far more intimate.

Intimate, she fretted. She reached out and caressed the sensual fabric of the caftan. She had not been intimate with anyone since early in her last marriage. And even then the intimacy had been strictly physical. Once she discovered that her recently ex-husband was sleeping around, she cut him off completely. It wasn't a terrible burden to do so. Truth be told she'd never really cared for bedroom sport with any of her three husbands. Physical relations were simply part of the marriage contract, something to be tolerated. What she'd hungered for as a young girl, and what time and experience had cruelly taught her was unrealistic fantasy, was the kind of spiritual intimacy with a lover that the romance novels she had read as a teen spoke of.

She could not remember the last time that she had felt spiritually intimate with another human being that were not her beautiful daughters. The closest she had come in recent years was the almost telepathic bond she seemed to share with her runaway second assistant Andrea. Andrea seemed to know what Miranda wanted and needed without Miranda having to tell her what those things were. Sometimes it even seemed that Andrea knew what Miranda needed before Miranda knew herself. It was a comfort that Miranda had rarely experienced in her life and one she desperately hungered for.

She considered her present situation. The young man she was to have dinner with was more than attractive, having stirred sexual desires within Miranda that she had long since thought gone to time. She mused on just what it was that she found fascinating about the young Eastern European. There wasn't really a question in her mind that he reminded her of Andrea. She had already carefully cataloged their physical similarities. She thought about the most recent crop of second assistants, hired and fired since Andrea's departure. All bore something that reminded her of the girl if she were honest with herself. Those similarities were the level that their final selection for the job had turned on. Now she was to have dinner with a man that strikingly resembled her Andrea. Letting her eyes wander over the various outfits she pondered for a long moment on the fact that she realized that she would much prefer to be dressing for a dinner with that damned runaway ex- second assistant, but Andrea Sachs hadn't come anywhere near her since the girl fled during that miserable week in Paris.

She noted, in a detached way, that her hand had tightened around the fabric of the garment. She had to consciously relax her grip on the material before she ruined it. She made a disgusted noise deep in her throat and tossed garment back onto the bed. I have lived my life proscribed by the mentality deficient and morally bankrupt men like Irv Ravitz who run the publishing industry, she thought to herself, disgruntled. I have followed all of their rules. I sought out appropriate suitors, each chosen because he seemed to add to the image I was trying to create. I married three times, only to have the dissolution of all three become tabloid fodder. It's been more than three decades since I engaged in anything that even resembled a spontaneous tryst and, even in that, I have never allowed my desire to experiment with my own sex to hold any sway. Granted, before meeting Andrea, none of the women I met seemed worth the risk such an assignation engendered. I have spent the long years since I started my rise at Runway being so careful of appearances that I have denied myself experiences I might have enjoyed. Here I am, on the far side of the country, with this young man who, if I am honest with myself, I desire. This is a working visit, no press junket, no scheduled public appearances. We will be here a week and during that time, I will enjoy a certain anonymity that I do not enjoy in Manhattan.

Fired with a new resolve, she turned. From her suitcase she withdrew a sinful Agent Provocateur bra and thong. Looking at the garments hanging from her hand she came to a decision. If I were to offer Chloe's manager a cover as well as the photo spread, I'm sure that he could convince Chloe to keep my daughters entertained for the duration of this trip. Stripping quickly she donned the silky undergarments. They made her feel wanton. A moment later the sensual caftan graced her body. She glanced at herself in the mirror, a wicked smirk and a new dancing fire in her eyes reflected back. A pity he likely won't see the Agent Provocateur tonight, she mused. But a good seduction is worth spending a little time on. Anticipation always makes reaching the goal so much sweeter. I'll have a week with this boy. A week to scratch an itch long untended. And when I get back to Manhattan, I will stop waiting for Andrea to return. I'm Miranda Priestly, dammit. If I want Andrea, I will go out and find her!

TBC


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Holy cow! Andy is in soooooo much trouble! Thank you for the update

Yes, yes she is. A world of trouble. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Very much looking forward to my dinner with Andre(i)...sorry, too easy not to pass up!

Thank you for continuing this story :-)

Hadn't thought of that, and you're right, it was too good to pass up. Dinner in the next installment. Thank you for reading and commenting!

I loved Andy's freakout. The girls were a hoot.
I also loved Miranda's determination. Can't wait to see how that works out.
Thanks for the read.

Andy freaking out was the most fun I've had writing in a long while. The hot and sweaty sungglebunnies comment and Cassidy's reaction was something that really amused me. Again I want to offer you thanks for the part you played in midwifing this story! I look forward to working with you in future! Thanks for commenting!

The girls are so good in helping Andy. Can't wait for dinner and the fallout.

There will be fallout, no doubt. I'm looking forward to seeing where my Muse takes it. Thank you for reading me and letting me know your thoughts!

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