Thursday, May 5, 2011
Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday
Today's words: grace, jitter, thin
Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.
And now, it continues...
* * *
“When’s the last time you saw him?” Craig cupped some nut mix from the bowl on the counter, popped a few in his mouth. The crowded bar flowed around them as though they were in a cocoon.
“It’s been almost a year. But, lucky me, I get to see him again in a few weeks.” Miranda gestured with her cocktail sword of impaled olives as she spoke. “A friend is getting married and I’m one of the bridesmaids. He’s invited. Friend of the groom.”
“And you’re still going?”
“She’s my friend. I can’t let her down. Besides,” Miranda smiled, her lips curling in a slow, wicked grin, “I’ve been working out with my trainer and I look fucking hot! He’s going to be sorry.”
Craig laughed, raised his glass in a toast. “To looking fucking hot.”
He felt sorry for her ex. She’d be all dolled up for the wedding—professional hair and makeup—and wearing that dress she’d showed him last week. She had picked it up from the salon and brought it back to the office to show the girls. He’d walked into the staff lounge as she held it up to show it off. Small, black and low cut, his mouth watered at its limp form on the hanger. Miranda may only be a friend, but he’d spent several nights imagining what she’d look like in it.
The poor bastard was going to be sorry he let her go, Craig thought. Then again, he didn’t deserve her. Miranda hadn’t told him everything, but Craig could tell there was a lot more to it than she let on. It pained him the way she cringed when he made a sudden move, as though she expected him to hit her. Jesus, what had that bastard done to her?
“If you feel like talking after, give me a call. No matter how late it is.”
Miranda set down her martini. “You’d let me wake you up just to talk?”
Craig shrugged. “I’ll probably be awake anyway. It’s what friends do, right?”
Miranda looked away while he signalled the server for another round of drinks. Right. Friends. That is all they were. It didn’t matter that she wanted more. It couldn’t. He was still married, technically. And he had kids. She wouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether his marriage flourished or failed.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine, but thanks for the offer.”
“The offer stands. Any time.”
* * *
Miranda shook hands and air kissed more than a hundred people in the receiving line; her cheeks were numb from smiling. She wondered how politicians did it. While chatting with Wendy’s Great Aunt Olivia, Miranda heard a hiss next to her.
Her smile didn’t falter as she nudged the elderly woman down the line. But when Miranda’s eyes moved toward the hall entrance, the thin smile wavered. Gregg was handsome in a tailored suit, his hair, just a little too long, curled around his neck. She tried to gauge her feelings, whether she still cared for him, as the other bridesmaids had predicted.
“All those old feelings might come back,” they’d said.
It wasn’t a concept that Miranda dismissed. She admitted it was possible. So with an open mind, she watched Gregg greet the groomsmen, shake hands and clap shoulders. She waited while he had a shot of cognac with the groom, smiled when he hugged Wendy. He kissed the bridesmaid, Wendy’s sister, then shared a private joke with Sandra. When he took Miranda’s hand, she was the epitome of grace and poise, smiling as though she were greeting royalty. He kissed both cheeks, mumbled something incoherent, and moved on to the junior bridesmaid beside her.
That’s it? He’d walked by her as though she were a stranger. It was a moment before she realized that’s exactly what he’d thought. He turned back to her, his eyes wide in disbelief, as he took her hand.
She laughed. “Who did you think it was?”
“I didn’t recognize you. You look…” Gregg’s eyes raked up and down, took in the minimalist dress, her new cropped hair style, the toned body. “You look great.”
Yeah, I do, she thought. “Thanks.” The person next to Gregg cleared his throat. “You’re holding up the line,” said Miranda, and she withdrew her hand from his.
Something flickered in his eyes. Regret, shame, remorse. She didn’t know. And she didn’t care. In that moment, she had her answer. There was absolutely nothing left in her for Gregg.
When he’d moved on, and walked into the main hall away from the reception table, three heads turned to her.
Miranda smiled. “Not one little jitter.”
* * *
Elated, Miranda could think of only one person she wanted to share this news with. It was late when she arrived at Craig’s apartment unannounced. He had said he’d be up anyway. And wasn’t a visit better than a phone call?
Craig glanced at his watch when he heard the soft tap on the door. He expected to see Mrs. Fischer from 24D asking for help with something in her unit, though it occurred to him that it was a little late for handy work.
When he opened the door, the air rushed out of him and he was instantly hard.
Miranda stood in the doorway in the little black number. He wondered how she’d poured herself into it. Her short, spiky hair was teased with gold glitter and her eyes, painted up like a gypsy, still managed to have an air of innocence. Spiked heels dangled in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other.
All Craig could think was, “Melissa was right. Miranda is going to kill me.”
* * *
Miranda's story continues.