The instant Miranda’s bedroom door closed behind her, Stevie let out a squeal of delight. "I knew it would work! I'm a genius," she declared. Ever since Miranda had forgiven Gary, she'd been plotting out ways for them to spend more time together, with a hope of rekindling the flames that Gary had so unwittingly extinguished. When Miranda had announced that someone would have to share the sofa with her, the chance presented itself.
"Shhhh!" Clive hissed. "They'll hear you! Although on second thought, if you go any higher-pitched they'll need dog ears."
"Rude." She plonked herself down on Miranda's bed, where Tilly was already fast asleep. Clive would have to be satisfied with the futon.
“And what about her?” he mouthed, gesturing at Tilly. She was lying perfectly still with most of her face obscured by a silk sleeping mask.
“Oh don’t worry, she’s dead to the world. She told me that she had to take a sedative to sleep because she’s been so distressed about Rupert, poor thing.”
He sighed, satisfied with her answer. "Well then," he began, "I had the same idea. I knew Gary would sooner be with Miranda than any of us." He sat down and examined his sleeping arrangements for the evening. "You know, It's been a while since I spent the night in a lady's bedroom," he mused.
Stevie let out a snort. "Is that so? Business has been slow lately, I take it?"
"You know about that?!"
"Of course," she replied with a satisfied smirk. "Miranda tells me everything." Turned out a holiday in your own neighbourhood revealed a multitude of sins.
Now it was his turn to look sly. "Oh really? Did you know she was going to tell Gary she loved him before he went to Hong Kong?"
"WHAT?" She sat up in alarm and almost knocked Tilly off the bed.
Clive gave her a flippant wave, but his smile betrayed his nonchalance. "She came in with that chihuahua - what was its name again? Titan - to see Gary. I thought she was acting strange, but I just chalked it up to Miranda being Miranda. It was only after she left that I found a note she'd dropped, with what she meant to say."
Stevie stared blankly ahead in a state of shock. Watching her two friends dancing around each other for years on end had been downright painful, but if Miranda had planned to tell him she loved him, she’d made more progress than she'd previously thought.. And to think she’d separated them at his leaving party! Blameless as she was, the consequences of her actions still hit her with full force. Finally, she spoke. "Does Gary know?"
He folded his arms to his chest. "No. I didn't think it should come from me. I wanted to say something, but then Tamara happened and I thought it would only make things worse." His voice carried a tinge of regret. "Thank god they're friends again. Do you have any idea what the last few weeks have been like at the restaurant? He blamed me at first, you know, but I told him it would have eventually come out anyway."
"Have I any idea? Miranda's moping was bringing the ambiance of the shop right down. Although it was Gary's fault," she sniffed.
"Perhaps, but she overreacted too. He's clearly crazy about her and her only."
"She felt betrayed because he hid it all from her! You don't just get sham-married and leave your best friend in the dark. And by the way, you knew about Tamara the whole time too!"
"Gary swore me to secrecy! Do you think there would have been a good time for Miranda to find out?” He stood up in a huff and started poking around the room. "Are there any extra pillows? I have a bad back, you know." He opened Miranda's closet and pulled a cushion off the top shelf, only to find Gary's smiling face staring back at him. He screamed and flung it in Stevie's direction.
"Hey!" she yelled, before inspecting the Gary-cushion. "Oh dear."
A burst of giggles filtered into the room, turning their heads simultaneously. Stevie rushed to the adjoining wall and hesitated before she pressed her ear to it, boundaries be damned. Any ethical concerns were unnecessary; she was unable to decipher the muffled voices outside.
"Anything?" Clive asked.
"These walls are too thick. Something about a duck?"
"Pffft. You're rubbish at this."
Stevie crawled back into bed, surrendering for the night. "If they just listened to us we could sort everything out. They'd probably be married by now."
"I reckon we could save the world if we worked together, you know."
The two of them had little in common apart from concern for their best friends' happiness, but somehow that was enough. She turned and grinned at him. "One thing at a time.”