Miranda never went to her parents’ house if she could avoid it because shudder, these days, she never knew what she would find.
But this was an emergency.
“Mum!” she burst when her mother opened the door, “did you put my flat up for home exchange and not tell me?”
“I thought you’d meet a nice man,” Penny answered, looking for all the world as though she’d set her daughter up on a blind date and not invited a stranger from America to crash her daughter’s home. “He looked rather nice on the website. Your father thought he looked charming!”
Out of breath from running, Stevie finally caught up to Miranda, laughing between deep breaths.
“I thought he was charming too, wasn’t he, Miranda?” she said with a cackle, just before dropping to the ground.
It had started out as such a normal day, all things considered. After recapping the last week, Miranda had put her fruit friends away and gone to take a shower, but when she came out, there was a tall, blonde man and his friend (Miles, apparently), cooking breakfast in her kitchen.
“Ahhh!” Miles yelled, reaching for something behind him and gloriously coming up empty.
“Ahhh!” yelled Miranda, gripping her towel tightly (though mind you, the blonde one was pretty dreamy).
“Morning, princess,” the blonde man had drawled, winking at her over a cup of coffee.
“Ahhh!” yelled Miranda.
This went on for a while.
“So, which exactly of those two men did you plan on setting me up with?” Miranda asked, having been herded to her mother’s sitting room and trapped with a plate of nibbles (nibbles, funny word).
“Oh either one, darling,” Penny said, brushing past her to look in the mirror. “Beggars can’t be choosers, after all.”
“Mum, they’re American,” Miranda hissed. “American. We’re from Surrey.”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind,” Penny answered with a giggle. “They both sound spiffing. You can always trust people who drink, what I call, coffee.”
It seemed too early in the morning to belabor the point.
When Miranda and Stevie got back to the joke shop, the blonde (called Sawyer, apparently; not a good sign at all) and Miles were quibbling.
“You never believe anything I say, do you?” Sawyer asked Miles, shaking the flavored whip cream on special in the shop this week. “And yet, you think this is a way for me to ‘move on.’”
He made sure to use the air quotes to express his disdain and Miles sighed, shaking his own can of whipped cream.
“I’m telling you, meet a nice British girl, have some good clean fun, watch some pornos, you’ll bounce right back.”
“Fat chance, Dr. Phil,” Sawyer retorted, letting loose and spraying Miles with pink whipped cream.
And that’s when Miranda and Stevie walked in.
“Oh, it’s the crazy lady from upstairs,” Miles announced flatly, pink cream dripping from his face. “And a short person.”
“Alright, I’ll take the short one,” Miranda announced while Stevie smacked her palm against her fist. “And you take the blonde one.”
“Why do I get the blonde one?” Stevie asked before Miranda laughed.
“You're going to make out with him anyway.”
Not long after, Tilly walked in on the worst sight imaginable.
Every color of the rainbow in whipped cream had been used at some point, but they were now mixing into a less edible color.
“Miranda, do you always have to lose your shirt in public?” Tilly exclaimed, shielding her eyes and leading Stevie and Sawyer to break apart. Miranda paused in her attack on Miles, about to respond, when Tilly raised a finger. “Wait, bear with.”
“What’s she doing?” Sawyer asked Stevie, who looked at Miranda.
“No idea,” Miranda answered, staggering upright. “Oh, it looks like she’s taking video!”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Miles gasped, jumping upright. “When we’re on the run?”
“Widmore’s not going to see any of this, is he?” Sawyer asked, winking at Tilly. “She’s not going to keep filming; she wants to come down here with us.”
So far, Penny’s plan was working like gangbusters. Just not with Miranda.
Three days later, and Miranda was sure her life was never going back to normal.
Whatever normal was, it did not involve Tilly practically having moved in to the joke shop and making eyes at Miles all day, laughing at his jokes and calling out to Miranda as she passed,
“Queen Kong, Queen Kong, listen to this!”
With a groan, Miranda tried to hide behind the counter as a customer entered. She wasn’t about to be party to this and the tales of destruction and woe that had Tilly enthralled.
It seemed Sawyer was not the only one moving on.
“Can I get some help?” the hapless customer called out, looking strained, and from her hiding place, Miranda watched, wide-eyed, as Sawyer winked at Stevie before moving to the customer.
“How can I help you, darling?” he asked, his hand resting suspiciously near the woman’s purse. Sure as daylight, Miranda thought she saw something slip from the purse to Sawyer’s sleeve. She was just about to call him out for it when he circled the woman around to the Christmas display.
“Looks like Santa’s bringing a whole lot more this year,” he joked, producing the purse in front of the woman’s eyes.
Instead of being outraged, she giggled. Giggled.
“Do you want to come for a drink later?” she asked, and Sawyer sighed dramatically, nodding in Stevie’s direction.
“Only if she can come,” he said.
“It’s awful, Gary, it really is!” Miranda insisted later while hiding out at the restaurant and honestly a bit miffed at the chef’s laughter. “He’s just burst in on us and his flight’s not for another week, so Stevie says it’s rude not to let him stay.”
“This is Stevie who’s hooking up with him?” Gary asked with barely suppressed laughter in his voice, and Miranda sighed woefully, poking at her apple pie.
“Well maybe Clive and I could go down there, rustle things up,” Gary suggested in a moment of real sympathy. “Have them stay somewhere else.”
“You know I doubt they even have a place to exchange,” Miranda added doubtfully. “They mentioned something about being outlaws.”
“Well then,” Gary said, leaning across the counter with a wink, “weren’t you just saying I wasn’t Alpha enough for you?”
“Alright, boys, time to go!” Gary shouted around the door, with Clive and Miranda close behind. It hadn’t been that hard to find discount cowboy costumes and Gary did wear the cowboy hat well, she had to admit. But no. Task at hand.
“No home exchange, buckos,” she called out, trying to peer around Clive and his tablecloth, but there was nobody to be seen.
“What if they’ve moved upstairs?” Clive asked worriedly, and he and Miranda shared a look.
“Ugh, no. Mustn’t think the worst,” she insisted and Gary looked back at her. “Let’s just…rush in there.”
“Or we could just go back to the restaurant and you could crash with me for a week?” Gary suggested.
(Fortunately for Miranda, there was no stool to fall off of.)
It was magical, really. All Miranda ever wanted. More of a dream-like state than she expected and less of the sex than she’d like, but really --
“Miranda?” Gary asked, still wielding his toy gun and glancing around the front door, where a suspiciously cheerful noise was now emerging. “What do you say?”
“I think we better clear them out,” Miranda said, wincing as Clive hit her with the tablecloth. “Wouldn’t want to be an imposition.”
(Funny word, imposition.)
“That might be…difficult,” Clive whispered, redirecting her gaze through the now-open door. The distraction had cost her dearly, for Sawyer and Miles had cornered Gary and invited him over to the poker game they’d apparently set up in her absence.
“But Gary doesn’t even play poker!” Miranda cried, only to discover Clive had gone over as well.
“If you can’t beat them, I suppose,” she sighed, steeling herself, before Sawyer was suddenly at her arm. She hadn’t been this close to him in all the time he’d been here.
He did smell rather nice.
“Are you going to keep me waiting all day, sweet cheeks?” he asked, and Miranda giggled.
“All right, but just one round,” she insisted, following him over.