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Loving You Is A Losing Game

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It’s very excruciating. Watching, struggling against the rope they’ve tied tightly around her hands as they dunk Max’s head beneath the icy cold water. She feels her lungs burn with something more than empathy as she yells no! Pulling against her restraints again as they yank his head roughly back up & he enters the world again gasping for breath & shivering from the cold.

“Tell me. What you know,” the man hisses like a snake sending out spit bombs. “Or your boyfriend here will die because of you.”

“Miranda, don’t.” Max splutters out as the old ice water dripping down his determined face before they shove him beneath the water again & tears splinter around her blue eyes ragged & hot as she watches him struggle, his hands flailing where they’re bound & shoulders twitching. Max resurfaces again & this time he’s pale like a ghost with his face, which was usually full of life, withdrawn & his blue eyes like the ice numbing his lungs. He doesn’t look at her, doesn’t seem to be able to her & her hear seizes at the sight of him struggling. She never meant for this. She never meant for him to hurt because of him. “Ok, I’ll tell you,” he rasps, voice scratchy & her brows knit together, wondering what his plan is, “The police already know about - me & your mummy.” Despite herself, Miranda finds laughter bubbling up through her lips. It’s still Max there. He’s still Max.

The man yells out a couple of swear words in another language before he reaching for his large & heavy gun with in a split second she realises that is too late because Max has provoked him into murder. Her legs kick out to the man holding her but she is useless, futile, breathing shallow as they toss Max to the floor & the man aims. Max finds her eyes, calm & accepting somehow & everything inside of her freezes as though she was dumped in the ice water herself.

The first shot grazes the man in the left shoulder & she takes the full advantage of the shock running through her captor. Throwing her head back, she hears him cough & wheeze badly, spinning & headbutting him this time. He falls back, unconscious, as gunshots ring through the room & she spots Inés & a team of police walking into the room with their guns rose. Quickly, she unties the rope around her, stealing a gun from her captor & looking over for Max. A bullet misses her ear by inches & she yelps, finally reaching Max & throwing herself down on the floor with him. Looking up, she can’t tell where the man is hiding nor Inés or David.

Her partner shivers beneath her touch when she hastens to remove the rope. She knows they need to get him to an ambulance soon, that he needs medical attention; his eyes are faint & his focus barely there are they settle on her & she places a warm hand on his cold cheek, words like hang on & please stay with me, I need you, clogging her throat. Finally, Max’s sad blue eyes widen & he tried to say her name, to warn her about the incoming danger. She turns just in time to see the man aiming right at her & doesn’t hesitate to send 3 bullets, from Max’s gun, into his kneecaps. The man cries out & she feels an odd feeling, something like victory & something like disgust, swathing her heart. The man hurt Max; they had reduced him from a warm, strong, brave man to a whimpering, cold mess on the floor & she wants to make him pay but she doesn’t inflict too much damage. She leaves Inés & her team to clean up the mess.

***

His friends must hate her, she thinks to herself. After, she had accompanied them to the hospital; she had paced around the waiting room until the doctor assured her he simply had a mild case of hypothermia. She had lingered outside his room & caught his eyes through the window but then his best friend & girlfriend & her father had appeared & she had slipped away.

***

It was one night, almost 2 weeks later when her phone wakes her up at 5 in the morning.

“Blake,” she answers, head falling back onto the pillow.

“Miranda” Instantly, she sits up, wide awake.

“Max? Are you ok? What’s wrong?” He chuckles slightly.

“Nothing’s wrong, Miranda. Not really.” She pressing a hand above her heart, she takes a deep breath, laying back down & trying to steady herself. He’s fine; He’s ok. If she repeats it enough maybe she’ll believe it. “I hope I didn’t wake you,” he says.

“I don’t mind.” She won’t lie to him.

“I can let you go back to sleep. If you want. I know you must have to be up early for work, & it’s stupid, really”

“It’s not stupid,” she interrupts. “If something’s bothering you.” He goes quiet. Stunned by her forwardness & it makes immeasurable sadness slink through her bones. Has he always been so hesitant to seek comfort in her? She always draws from his strength, his happiness, most days.

“It’s just. I can’t get warm.” It sinks like a stone into the pit of her stomach, making bile scratch against the sides of her throat. Her blue eyes slam shut, quickly rubbing a palm across them & trying to push away the visions of him, alone, shivering & suffering out of her mind.

“Can you give me 10.”

“Miranda?”

“10 minutes, Max.”

***

He seems as surprised as she feels when she answers the door to her just less than 10 minutes later. She’s still in her pyjamas; a cotton shirt & shorts.

“Hi,” she replies, shuffling aside to let him in.

“Hey,” he murmurs. His blue eyes are red & the skin beneath them bruised purple. He’s not been sleeping.

“Do you want a coffee?” She said going through to her kitchen, whilst Max turned off in the opposite direction towards the lounge. She got into her kitchen & put on coffee machine; she turned the switch & prepared the cups & went to join Max in the lounge.

***

Miranda came in & sat down on her sofa next to Max who took up quite a lot of room on it seen as it wasn’t a very big sofa so they were forced to sit quite close together. Too close for her liking.

God she thought I’m going to have to exercise a lot of self-control here she thought. “I’ve just put the machine on it shouldn’t be long till it’s boiled” said Miranda. “It’s to get you warm,” she tells him, cheeks flushing as turned around to face Max. Their heads were closely touching. Her heartbeat quickened as she realised that Max was inching his face closer to hers, was he going to kiss her again? She couldn’t think of anything she wanted more but then she saw Carmen’s face in her head. She realised that she had a choice to make that none could make for her. It was make or break, should she or shouldn’t she? Miranda made up her mind in a split second & using every inch of self control that she could muster to make one of the hardest decisions of her life, she stood up. “I’ll go & do the coffee” She said & seeing the disappointment features on Max’s face she loathed herself but she just couldn’t cheat on her friend. That wasn’t her again & Max would just have to understand that. She turned & walked out of the room. Tears flowing down her face, trying to convince herself that she’d done the right thing. Max sat back on the sofa.

***

God what the hell am I doing? Max thought to himself. Maxwell you’ve gone & done it now. It wasn’t really the fact that he’d nearly cheated on Carmen that worried him as they had split up when Carmen turned down Max’s proposal but stayed together for Max’s protection from Carmen’s dad’s wrath. It was more the fact that Miranda had refused him even though they both love each other.

***

Miranda pottered about in the kitchen making the coffees when her tears had just about subsided now & that was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. She just wished things had been different. In another life where she wasn’t so hurt & badly mentally scarred due to a relationship she had when she was young which went wrong & so many different ways. She wiped the tears from her face & took a deep breath before taking the coffees into the lounge. Max was sat on the sofa & he was staring into the outside space. She felt a fresh surge of self-hatred as she saw the result of what she’d done. She put the cups on the coffee table & sat down & felt a wave of sadness as he moved as far away from her as the sofa would allow. Little did she know that Max hated himself too & just wanted to help his self-control? Miranda was almost relieved when Max picked up his coat signalling that he was going.

“Well see you” said Max

“I’ll see you out” said Miranda getting up to go to the door, they both walked in silence to the door. She opened it for him. Before he had chance to walk out of it Miranda made a split second decision & reached up to his full height by standing on her tip-toes & kissed him gently on the cheek. She hoped that he’d see that it was her way of saying goodbye. Max felt his cheek burned red where her soft lips had made contact with his skin, his long legs turned to wobbly jelly. He wanted nothing more than to hold her close & kiss her right there right & tell her his true feelings for her.

“Well then, Goodnight Miranda” He said tearing him away from her & walking out of the door.

“Night” She watched him drive off in his blue BMV affectionately called ‘Bertha’ round the corner till she could no longer see him. She closed the door & sat down on the floor, just sitting there, digesting everything that had happened that day. She then got up & went into the living room & sat down on the sofa. She then lend back on her chair with her eyes close trying to keep the tears from falling but failed as a waterfall of tears cascaded down her face & onto her pillow which had Max’s smell before lifting it to her face taken in the smell before putting down the pillow & a spilt second later she was typing in her laptop. She sent an email to Inés, explaining why she has to take a leave of absent but when she was filling out the spaces to book a ticket. She paused when she had to fill in the destination. She sighed before looking at one of the picture which was on the table. Afterwards she wrenched her travel suitcase out from under the bed & started to throw the most important things into it & then ran downstairs to the taxi which had pulled up outside her apartment.

***

The Next Day

It was very early the next day when Max turned up at his work with a box full of scrumptious breakfast pastries for the rest of the team & himself. When he walked into the bullpen of the office, he saw that it was full of the night time skeleton staff but the first thing he notices is that the desk that he always shared with Miranda was empty which nerved Max a lot as he knew how punctual she is. He placed the box on the desk & grabbed his mobile phone out of his back pocket & rang Miranda’s number, a few seconds later he heard her voicemail & frowned.

"Penny for your thoughts" A voice intruded upon her thinking & she started, head flicking up from the file she had been looking at but not seeing.

"Inés" He gasped as he pressing a hand against his chest in response to the jump his heartbeat had made on being surprised like that. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to sneak up on people?" He asked before getting a glare from his boss. That woman was scary sometimes; he always seemed to know when she was thinking about him & he would just appear. “Have you heard from Miranda?”

“She sent me an email & something popped off at her old work.” Inés explained but it was only half of the story. “Winter! My office ahora.” She added before they went in to her office & she closed the door behind them before she sat down on her chair & told Max to take a seat. “I’ve emailed Miranda’s old boss & she emailed me back saying that there was no jobs available.” She added before a look on Inés & Max’s faces confirmed what both of them thought. “She’s running away” Inés said “Right well you have to go there & try to get her back.” Max just stood still like a stone as he taken in Inés’ words which angered her. What about reverse psychology might work It always got my brother worked up, maybe it would work my son too Thought Inés. "You're both being blind; all the rest of the staff can see it. It’s just you two finding excuses to cover it up."

"Cover what up?" Max snarled, turning to the woman beside him & hoping she would back off before she actually said what he thought she was saying.

"How you're feeling! Blimey, it's an obvious as the nose on your face Max! You're practically in love with Miranda, anyone can see that, & she's just the same."

"How on earth do you know that?"

"A woman who’s also the chef of police can see these things, Max." The derisive snort she received in reply wasn’t the response she'd wanted but she continued nevertheless. "I mean it, you're a perfect match but you keep putting things in the way. God only knows why! I'm telling you now.” Max couldn't believe what he was hearing; he was aware of his feelings for Miranda but she'd keeps pushing him away. “Let me give you word of advice, alright?” Max nodded but he tried not to open his both to say something but it was too late & he blurted out.

"Inés, you, look, I'm not going to deny it, it probably is obvious about me but Miranda; she keeps turned me down." He admitted suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to tell someone the struggle he'd been through, even though the last person he'd usually confide in was his boss & now Inés was saying she'd lied? Well, had she ever said she didn't feel anything in the first place? Or was that the conclusion he'd drawn on his own?

“Max look, this isn’t Miranda, this is Miranda putting up those walls & you’re the only one that I’ve ever seen who she lets close enough to break them down, you’ve done it before so do it again, you’ll get through because she loves you, it will just be harder this time that’s all” Max slowly began to see that she was right. “Don’t give up on her Max, she needs you”

“You’re right” He said suddenly he clapped his hand to his forehead “I’m so stupid what the f**k am I doing, I need to go to her” He cried rushing around “Right now I have to book a plane ticket ermmm”

“It’s already been done”

“What?” He stared at her

“I booked you a ticket, I talked to Palmar & she said that she’d told me about a place Miranda goes when things got too much at work.”

“That’s brilliant Inés! How did you know to book the ticket?”

“I knew I’d be able to convince you to go & look for her, you love her, there’s just no way you wouldn’t have gone” Inés pulled something out of her pocket “Here’s your ticket it’s going to London first then onto Aberystwyth. I don’t know why but I have a feeling that she’ll gone. I’ve written the address on the back just in case, you’d best hurry” She said handing it to him. Max for once was lost for words, Inés really was a decent person, she was a very loyal & understanding person who was also stubborn & didn’t give up easily & like Miranda she was also inspiring in her own way, another characteristic that reminded him of Miranda, she was a very good boss.

“Thanks Inés, thank you so much for helping me to see what was right in front of my nose”

“It’s ok now go, I don’t know what you’re still doing here” He smiled at her before running out of the door. She shook her head at him before sighing, “Vamos.”

***

It was a 2h 30m flight which was too long of a flight for Max who had then arrived in rainy Aberystwyth. He was now stood before the house that used to be Miranda’s. He was waiting for someone to answer; she thought it must be her dad, Mr Blake. She didn’t know his 1st name. He turned around swiftly when the door opened behind her. There was a man stood in the doorway, he had dark grey hair & wise blue eyes that seemed to sparkle, he had a very handsome face & thick eyebrows that weren’t overly thick but nice thick, he had quite a square masculine jawline but at the same time it wasn’t overly square, just right.

“Yes?” He said

“Oh hello, my name is Max Winter; you must be Mr Blake, Miranda’s father” Max said as he extended his hand.

“That’s me.” Mr Blake said as he accepted Max’s handshake. “.I feels like I already know you, Max. I’ve heard a lot of great things about you from Miranda. ”

“Really?”

“Yeah, she said that you always got her back especially when that man was holding her hostage.” He said standing back to let him in. “Come in”

“Thank you” He said stepping in gratefully out of the bitter cold, the weather had really had taken a bad turned lately, it was raining all the time & it was always cold for Max as he was used to the brightness of the Mallorcan sunshine.

“Please come through & sit down, coffee? Tea”

“Coffee would be lovely please, milk no sugar”

“Ok coming up”

“Thank you” He said walking into the lounge, it was bright & airy, tastefully decorated, sophisticated. He walked slowly around the room & notices some pictures on the wall. Then Miranda’s father came back placing the mugs on coasters on the coffee table. He smiled & came to sit on the rather large cream sofa next to him.

“What are you looking at?”

“Sorry for nosing. I was looking at the pictures.”

“It’s ok” He shrugged “I’m Alan by the way” He smiled

“Ok nice to meet you Alan” Max said as he takes a sip of the coffee unknowingly that it was too weak for him. When the hot liquid hit the back of Max’s throat he gagged & started to cough. “It’s fine. I just normally take my coffee black.”

“Oh, well” Alan said before picking up a book. “My wife used to liked it black & this was me & her on our 1st date” He laughed “She insisted that we had our flaming photo taken I don’t know why” He turned a few pages over & commented on each one. “Now this is my favourite one.” He pointed to the last picture of a woman who looks a bit like Miranda except from her hair & she was posing for the photograph lifting up her t-shirt to reveal a rather big bump & smiling as always. “When she was pregnant with Miranda.” He said before it went all wrong he thought sadly to himself. “I really don't know how to say this,” Alan admitted.

“Just say it,” Max advised casually.

“Max, are you in love with my daughter?”

“What?”

“I’ve saw the way you look at Miranda after the aftermath of the hostage & I knew it was love.”

“Yes, I’m in love with Miranda, In fact, I've been in love with her for as long as I could remember. From the first moment I met her, I was in love with her; I tried to convince myself that it was only lust. I mean, she's so gorgeous but eventually even that backfired on me. I hated the way other guys were staring at her; I couldn't even lust over her! I tried to tell myself that I was just concerned but I was just jealous. I wanted her so badly & I knew that all I had to do was snap & she'd be mine. It was so hard for me.”

“So you finally admit the truth.” Alan smiled. Eddie looked everywhere but at Alan who ran his hand through his hair. “To tell you the truth, I couldn't think of anyone else I would rather have in love with her,” He said with a laugh. “But I’m scared of losing Miranda again.”

“What do you mean by losing Miranda again?”

“When Miranda was a teenager, she had a relationship with the local bad boy.” Alan said whilst shuddering before explaining how the young man, whose name Alan didn’t mention since his name was poison on his tongue, was like an ogre of the boyfriend who he hated due his true colours but the boy apologises to her & treated her like a princess that was until he started to hit her again, just a sign to show her that she was wrong as Alan explained the story Max listened to him with a look on his face which Alan picked up. “Oh & Max” Alan called. Max turned to show he was listening. “Don’t give up on her will you, she really does love you very much”

“Don’t worry I’d never give up on her” He said waving to him & then breaking into a run.
Max ran through the streets his vision blurred by the now torrential rain.

***

The beach was quiet except for a few seagulls that were flying around the area looking for food to steal. Max looked down at the address that Alan had written on the back of an envelope. When he arrived at cabin He stood staring at her through the window. He saw that Miranda was sat down on a small sofa, he watched as she set her empty glass down on the glass-like table before she sighed sadly to herself before there was a loud knock at the wooden door.

Who on earth is knocking at this hour? She opened the door shocked by the visitor’s appearance he was wearing his casual suit. It was all soaked with water to the point of looking much darker than they must have really been. He was shivering & he was slouched against her house she gave a hesitant smile. That’s unlike him. Suddenly she wished she wasn't in her PJs. “Max, what do you want?”

“You.” Max said as he doesn’t hesitate to push her way into her cabin. He reaching for her surprised face & he takes a few steps back before he catches her & kisses her. Miranda was shocked & surprised. She doesn’t know how to respond but Max breaks their kiss & leans down towards her height. “I love you Miranda & I want to be there for you, if you’ll let me.” He tenderly wiped the tear from her cheek with the pad of his thumb. Miranda then lifted her gaze to meet his blue eyes. Then, almost as if she was being pulled by a magnetic force, she slowly moved towards him & their lips met in the softest of kisses. Then a split second later she’s was pressed back against the wall & he’s kissing her. It’s not exactly sweet, it’s like they can’t get enough of one another. It’s like he doesn’t want to stop as he kisses her face, her neck & her hands are all over, holding him close to her. Their faces are still close together & she smiles. Her hand runs down his long arm to meet his free hand, she claps their hands together, moving to the side & slipping past him. She follows her movements & head toward the bedroom.

***

The bright sunlight penetrated through the gap in the net curtains, the light falling onto the delicate features on Miranda who woke up & the first thing she saw was her & Max’s clothes sprawled across the floor, she rolled over onto her side, She sat up, the duvet wrapped around her & opened her eyes fully to see Max lying down on the opposite with his eyes closed but a smile on his face as she remembered the events of last night. Miranda got up & grabbed her clothes from the pile on the floor luckily for her he had abandoned them in a heap just to the right of the bed, making it easy for her to collect them up & begin the change. As she was doing this, Max was waking up & she saw getting ready.

“Going somewhere,” said a voice from behind her. “If you think last night was a mistake then I can leave & we'll never speak about it again. However, if you didn't think it was a mistake, then stay.”

“That really shouldn’t have happened” she told him

“Yeah but it did.” Max said with a strong sense of déjà vu & a feeling that now he knew she felt the same way, he wasn’t going to just watch her walk away from him again. He got up & grabbing her arm just in time. “Miranda, please don’t go, don’t walk away from me again” He begged.

“Max, I was getting up to make our drinks.” She said as Max let go of her arm before she went to the kitchen & Max towards the living room.

***

“I made you a coffee.” Miranda said as she passes him a plastic cup with his favourite way to make coffee

“Thanks.” He said before taken a sip & smiled to himself. “So, you’re on board with this, right?” Miranda looked deep into his bright blue eyes & the truth staring back at her, he really did want her just the way she was. She knew it was time, time to give in to her true feelings & let her unquestionable affection for Max shine through. She made up her mind in a split second & with her heart leading the way, she grabbed Max by his coat, pulled him close & they shared a long, lingering, passionate kiss against a bright red sunrise. It was the perfect setting. When they finally broke apart they were breathless. “Ok. I take that as a yes.” He can’t stop smiling at her.

“Yes.”

“Good.” Max replied before they take a moment. “We have the week off.” He said as Miranda started to smirks & starts to unbutton her shirt. She watches Max as he watch her until she’s sure she’s got his full attention. “So what would you like to do today?” He said as he pushed the pale cotton blue shirt off her shoulder.

“Um, I don’t know. We could read.”

“We could watch some TV.”

“Yeah or we could get something to eat from my favourite seafood restaurant.”

“We could do that, yeah.”

“Yeah.” Miranda said as she smiled naturally before she leans in to give him a kiss. They kissed again wanting more; they couldn’t stop kissing just for trivial matters like getting oxygen to breathe. Miranda wound her arms around Max’s neck, Max just stayed there looking at her & it dawned on him that she was his at long last.