Miranda didn't know Carmen was watching her.
Miranda and Max were sitting at a table in Joan's, along with Ines, Roberto and a bunch of others she didn't recognise. Ines seemed to be holding court. Max was watching her, smiling and feeding peanuts into his mouth at regular intervals. Ines was looking at Roberto, who seemed to be the butt of the joke. Roberto was looking at the table, a wry smile on his face. Carmen was looking at Miranda. And Miranda was looking at Max.
It was a moment, only. Miranda's face, usually so controlled, became, for a tiny moment, open. Carmen could read it easily because she recognised it in herself. Miranda's eyes flared and her mouth tightened in a split-second of longing so intense it was almost painful to watch. Then Miranda blinked and shifted her gaze to the tabletop, then to Ines, then to Roberto. Her hand moved first to cover her mouth, then, as her lips curved into a convincing smile, to pick up a wineglass.
Carmen caught her breath. She's wondered, of course, but Miranda had done such a good job of concealing that she hadn't been sure.
She wondered if Max knew. She thought not. She trusted him completely. There was no way anything was happening between then, which meant whatever Miranda might be feeling, it must surely be unrequited.
It made her wonder though. There was something about the way they were together. Something in the intensity of their partnership. Max had had partners before. He'd even had a female partner, he'd once told her, but it was back when he'd been a rookie in Munich and she'd been the age of his mother. All his previous Mallorcan partners had been guys, and although he'd always been loyal and friendly towards them, there was something different about this.
She was being crazy. He'd asked her to marry him. He wouldn't have done that if he was carrying a torch for Miranda. But deep down she knew there'd been something casual about his proposal, a sense that he hadn't really thought it through. Almost as though he thought that by proposing to her he'd be able to box away any inconvenient feelings he may have for anyone else.
She glanced over at the table again. Miranda was looking down at her phone, scrolling through the screens with one hand while tucking a strand of hair behind her ear with the other. Carmen turned her eyes towards Max.
Miranda was looking at her phone. Carmen was looking at Max. And Max was looking at Miranda.
It wasn't a brief look. He was staring at her openly, a wide smile on his lips. His eyes were soft and warm and his gaze was roving across Miranda's face, as if trying to commit her features to memory. It was as though he couldn't look at her enough.
The rest of the table suddenly burst into laughter, something Roberto had said, she thought. Miranda looked up from her phone and frowned, glancing around as she tried to work out the joke. Max pulled his gaze away from Miranda and turned towards Roberto, who was laughing and elbowing him in the ribs. Max joined in with the laughter, covering it well, certainly well enough to fool Roberto, but Carmen knew better. Carmen knew Max hadn't heard a word of Roberto's joke. He'd been totally concentrating on Miranda.
Carmen thought back. It had been a long time since Max had looked at her with such attention, such concentration.
She didn't think she was wrong. She didn't think either of them had done anything to act on their feelings. Miranda was too reserved to make any sort of move, and Max was a good man who wouldn't cheat. She doubted he'd even acknowledged to himself what Miranda meant to him.
She would miss him, but perhaps it was for the best. After all, she deserved someone who wanted her without reservation. And in all honesty, she'd known when she turned down his proposal that their relationship was on borrowed time.
She would tell him tonight that it was over. What they did next was up to them. But she hoped that at some point they'd find themselves looking properly at each other.