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Professional partners, end of story...?

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As soon as Miranda closed the front door behind her, Max dropped his gentle smile and went into action mode. He had a lot to do in not very much time and he wanted this to be perfect. He took their still-empty glasses, the chocolates and the bottle of wine from the kitchen counter.

Ooh, Ramón Bilbao reserva, he thought as he briefly inspected the label, she’s been listening to my ‘wine snob’ lectures. Not as good as what I’ll be producing when I retire to my vineyard in Binissalem, obviously, he chuckled inwardly.

Box of chocolates safely stowed in his pocket once more, he carried the bottle and glasses upstairs to her balcony overlooking the bay. He set them on the table and placed the confectionery box beside them, then raced back downstairs and grabbed her keys, before charging out of the front door with a determined expression on his face.

He dashed through the streets of El Molinar to Miranda’s local supermarket and quickly emerged with a bag containing a few packets of food, some tea lights, a box of matches and a red rose. Clutching his purchases in the warm evening light, Max jogged back to her waterfront apartment, size 14 loafers flapping against the pavement. He stopped briefly to retrieve his dry cleaning from his beloved BMW and to catch his breath. Miranda was the athlete of this duo, not him: she was the one with the ‘superior aerobic capacity, body mass index, flexibility and lifestyle’, as she herself had put it after their race up Sa Calobra.

Back inside, he bounded up the stairs and then set out lines of tea lights leading through her bedroom to the balcony, and all along the edges of it. The breeze coming in off the sea was gentle enough tonight not to extinguish any of the flames, he noticed gladly as he lit the wicks.

He arranged the food he’d bought on the table: olives, jamón ibérico, some local semi-cured cheese, mini breadsticks, and Lays salt and vinegar crisps. Nothing too challenging for her plainer tastes.

The evening sky was by now tinged with orange, yellow and pink as sunset approached. The gentle waves of the Mediterranean in front of him reflected the beautiful kaleidoscope. How romantic, he thought, and how glad I am she didn’t decide to say what she did during a gota fría; emotional declarations in the pouring rain might look good in films, but in reality you are both just standing there freezing cold and wet, wishing you were indoors with a warm drink.

He went back inside to carry on with his preparations. Next he produced a makeshift sign with a marker pen and some card that he’d found waiting to be recycled in her kitchen. He wrote a message in large letters, adding a few decorative swirls in the corners. He stuck the notice above the sliding doors to the balcony with some tape he’d found in the same drawer as the pen.

Not too bad for hardly any time and only what he could find in a small supermarket and Miranda’s kitchen, he thought, standing back inside her bedroom to admire his efforts.

He checked the time on his phone: only a few minutes before she’d be back. He grabbed his dry cleaning bag from her bed and quickly changed into his evening suit, the bow tie left hanging around his neck and the top buttons undone for that dishevelled Bond vibe that he liked to think he could pull off. He’d seen the look in Miranda’s eyes the times he’d dressed like this before and had his suspicions that she’d secretly found him attractive, in those moments at least. He hoped she wouldn’t brush him off with a barb about not being in a posh frock again when she returned from her enforced walk.

He headed to the balcony to wait for her, taking the portable speaker from her bedroom with him and placing it on the table. He set up a song ready to play on his phone that he really hoped would mean the same to her as it did to him.

He sat down on one of her patio chairs and wondered what mood she’d be in when she joined him again. He prayed he hadn’t got the wrong end of the stick. That would be mortifying. He wanted so much for this to go well; he’d waited a long time for the chance to be with her.

If this evening turns out the way I hope it does, I’ll be the luckiest guy in Mallorca, he told himself. I’m pretty sure she likes me - she did say she didn’t want to be with Alex because he’s not me; what else could she have meant? And all those meaningful looks were real, right? We make each other laugh, even if we do annoy each other occasionally. We’ve even saved each other’s lives. We’re a team. And although it was pretty funny when first Rico and then that flirty archaeologist chatted her up, I was totally jealous. I just hope I haven’t called this wrong; it could be the end of a great partnership instead of the start of something beautiful...

Ah, no point overanalysing, Max, just keep it simple and go with the flow, he decided. Miranda will be doing more than enough thinking for the both of us right now anyway, that’s for sure.

He tried a few of the crisps. What a weird flavour combination, he’d thought when she first mentioned them. He found that he actually quite liked them now though. He brushed the crumbs from his fingers and checked the time again. The half hour was just about up, so she should be back any moment now.

Right, he thought, taking a deep breath, I suppose I’m ready. Here we go, Max: don’t mess this up.