It took awhile for Miranda to get to sleep that night. Her phone kept pinging for texts from Gary which she ignored by making a fruit friend and veggie pals tableau. Melon-anda and Guava-Gary were rudely interrupted by some Carrot and Celery spears. The whole lot was then very therapeutically chopped to bits.
The next morning she was in the shop trying to keep herself busy when the door chimed. Gary looked like he hadn’t gotten much sleep either. He had a take out coffee and a bag in his hand
“Hi” He said. “You missed breakfast so I thought I would bring you some.”
“Oh did I?” Miranda tried to sound nonchalant but her stomach chose that moment to growl audibly. “Guess I did. Hard to find time for such things when I’m running a business, which is thing I do.” Gary cringed as she stayed behind the counter.
“Miranda, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, or stayed talking to those girls for so long.” He put her breakfast down and moved to the side to be near her. “I’m not the best with words.”
“And I am? I still managed to get through dinner without accidentally insulting someone.” He challenger her silently. “Yesterday.”
“What about Stevie?”
“Oh that was entirely on purpose. Such fun!” She giggled. He rolled his eyes and smiled nervously. Miranda decided enough was enough.
“Apology accepted. I guess we’ll have to get used to it. TV and all that.” She added. “The fans, not the insulting my shop.”
“Won’t happen again.” He eyed the bag. “Are you going to open your breakfast?” Miranda smiled and grabbed the bag. She pulled out a blueberry muffin with M + G spelled out on top in icing. Any remaining hurt feelings immediately melted away
“The way to my heart is through my stomach.” She joked before taking a bite and sighing. He finally relaxed and smiled.
“Let me make it up to you. Why don’t I take you out properly tomorrow night eh?” Her eyes sparkled with excitement. “Not to the restaurant, not out with the gang, Just you and me.”
“Sounds great!” She said mouth still full. She swallowed quickly. “Are you sure you’ve got time?” She asked nervously. Gary noticed a crumb on the corner of her mouth and stepped closer. He gently brushed it away with his thumb.
“I’ll make time.” He leaned in and kissed her.
“Miranda when you have unattached yourself from that boy I need your assistance.” Penny barged into the shop startling the couple so badly that Gary fell into a stock box behind them. Miranda helped him up.
“Tomorrow night, the two of us yeah?” She reminded him. He nodded and gave her a quick peck before heading out. They both loved their little squad of friends and family but sometimes it was a bit much.
Miranda put on her favourite flowered dress and met him out in front of the shop promptly the next evening. As she watched him approach she was hit with that confusing feeling. Being with Gary was so right but she didn’t understand why he felt the same way. He was perfect and she was decisively not. His face lit up as soon as they made eye contact and she shoved down all the insecurities. “You look great.” He said giving her a big hug and a small kiss.
“You too. I mean, you always look good but tonight you look good and… fresh.” She cringed a bit at the word. It was a good word but it felt like she messed up. He smiled and reached out his hand.
“Come on, lets go”
They walked for a little bit before finding a small cafe they hadn’t visited before. They were happily chatting and about to order when not one but two familiar voices called out behind them.
“Hello!” Miranda and Gary spun in unison to find Chris and Allison standing directly behind them.
“Hello” They replied less enthusiastically.
“Are you two having a date night too?” Allison asked.
“Very important to keep the bonds strong!” Chris added. He patted Allison’s stomach. “Especially with another one on the way.”
“Oh congrats!” Gary said. “Um, yeah we were just-“
“You must join us! We’ll make it a double date. Won’t that be fun?”
“No!” Miranda said scared. “No, I mean we can’t. We have tickets.”
“Tickets?” Chris and Alison asked in unison.
“Right! Tickets, to the thing.” Gary said trying to back her up. “The thing down the road.” He pointed in a vague direction.
“The only thing down the road is the police station.” Chris said confused.
“They are parking tickets.” Miranda fibbed. “And there is a special that if you turn up on the third Thursday at 7:30pm they forgive them automatically.”
“And oh gosh will you look at that.” Gary said looking at the clock on the wall. “We’ll be late if we don’t leave right now. Gotta run!” He grabbed Miranda’s hand and they rushed out before they could be asked anything else. Once they had cleared the shop they relaxed a bit and sighed.
“That was close.” Gary said.
“Our mistake was staying still. We have to keep moving if we don’t want them to find us.” Miranda looked up and down the road as if more people would pop out at any moment.
“Right, yes. Um, Walk in the park then?” She nodded and they moved hand in hand towards plan B.
Things started out fine. They walked the paths and talked and simply enjoyed each others company. A breeze made Miranda shiver at one point and Gary put an arm around her shoulder with an excuse that it would keep her warm. He knew he wasn’t fooling anyone but if he was being given a shot to be closer to her he was taking it. In fact, he decided now was a perfect time for a little public closeness. Gary stopped walking and turned her towards him. She looked confused at first but once she caught him biting his bottom lip for a second to wet it she knew exactly what was on his mind. She blushed a little before shuffling closer and leaning in.
Before they could get more than the briefest contact a cacophony of feet hitting pavement and assertive coaching voices pulls them back to reality. They were suddenly surrounded by a running club. They wrapped themselves around each other to try to become as small as two 6 foot people could be in an attempt to avoid being run over.
“Not exactly the rush I was looking for there.” Miranda sighed. Gary smiled sympathetically. Surrey was starting to seem like the most crowded city on the planet.
They left the park and started looking for somewhere else to get a bite to eat. Off in the distance they spotted Stevie and Tilly walking towards them. “Nope, not again.” Miranda said determined. She was not having her date interrupted a third time. She pulled Gary into the next business they passed, an art galley.
They stood in the entryway and watched as their friends passed. “Should be safe now.” Gary said. Miranda nodded.
“Oh Hello! Welcome!” The couple turned and saw a very enthusiastic artist approaching them with champagne. “you are here for the opening?”
“Well actually we were just-“ She thrust the glasses into their hands.
“I was seriously starting to think no one was going to come. Could you imagine? My first solo show and not a soul to see it?” Miranda and Gary looked at each other with resignation. They couldn’t break the poor woman’s heart. “Would you like me to take you around?”
“Sure.” Gary shrugged and linked his non-drinking arm with Miranda’s. After all, how long could a walk around really take? He wondered.
Two hours later they were back at Miranda’s flat. The artist had given them a very detailed talk about all of her pieces and plied them with all the champagne and nibbles they could handle.
“I think that went quite well.” Miranda said. “We didn’t even have to pay for dinner!” She put her bag down on the table and began puttering in the kitchen for something to drink.
“Yeah her stuff wasn’t half bad. I might offer to let her hang a few at the restaurant for sale.”
“Never did get much time to ourselves though.” She said with a hint of disappointment. Gary walked over and put his arms around her waste stilling her hands.
“What about now?” He murmured as he kissed her neck. “I don’t have anywhere I need to be.” Miranda melted and sighed at his touch.
“Me neither, until tomorrow.” She turned around her heart racing. “Shall we, I mean would you like to, Only if you.” Gary stopped her with a very thorough kiss.
“Come on.” He started pulling her towards her bedroom door before he paused. Miranda looked at him confused. He altered course and suddenly went to the front door instead raising his hand and smiling as he locked it.