“What do you mean Drew has to move in too?” Vin knew Miranda had an interest Drew, but he’d hoped it was one of her passing crazes.
They walked down Brearly toward East Washington. Sitting on The Isthmus in the heart of Madison Wisconsin, Brearly ran only a few blocks long with one end at Lake Mendota and the other at Lake Monona. A relatively quiet street, lined with small, hundred year old houses on one side and a baseball field on the other it was a nice place for a stroll. Unless the woman you were strolling with happened to be ripping your heart out and stomping all over it.
Vin could hear the crack of a bat slamming into a baseball and half expected the ball to come lobbing over the yellow limestone wall as they passed. East Washington hummed with rush-hour traffic. In a couple more blocks they would reach the parking lot where Drew waited for him.
“You don’t have to be so touchy about it, do you?” Miranda wrinkled her nose, looking tantalizingly cute and peevish.
“Yes.” He pursed his lips and nodded thoughtfully. “I think I do. You ask me to move in, but you only want me if I bring a friend?”
“Come on, Marvin. Suzie really needs the money. The bank is about to foreclose on her.”
“I’ll be glad to lend her whatever she needs.” He agreed that it would be a real pity to see Suzie lose her house. Not only had she put her heart and soul in the building, she had started with the kind of house he’d liked but didn’t have time for.
“She doesn’t need another loan. She needs an income.” Miranda sashayed up to the button to activate the walk light at the intersection with East Washington.
Six lanes of heavy traffic made it hard to talk, but in a couple more blocks they would reach Drew and the conversation wouldn’t go Vin’s way at all. Vin stepped back so Miranda couldn’t watch the traffic light while facing him “I said I’d move in.”
“You and I aren’t going to be enough. We need Andrew too.”
“Nothing says it has to be Andrew who moves in with us.” He watched her closely, keeping her eyes on him while the traffic light behind Miranda went through a complete cycle. They missed their chance to cross the street, which suited him just fine.
She narrowed her eyes at him. Whatever she saw didn’t make her happy and probably wouldn’t make him happier either.
“You aren’t jealous of him, are you?” Her eyebrow arched briefly, adding to the probing intensity of her stare.
“No,” he said quickly. “No, of course not. No way.” He shook his head.
“You are. I knew it. Marvin,” She made his name sound like a complaint. “It isn’t like that between us and it never will be. We are just friends. Isn’t that enough?”
No. Just friends would never be enough for him. Nor did he believe she couldn’t come to see how well suited they were to one another. He knew all her little games and didn’t mind. Really. Where she would drive a man like Drew nuts she only made Vin want her more.
He shouldn’t be so worried. It wasn’t like Drew was interested in Miranda. As far as Vin could tell, he hardly knew Miranda existed. Of course the case they were working on together might be distracting Drew from the treasure who was about to throw herself at him.
Vin felt mildly nauseous. He really did not want to see Miranda throw herself at Drew, even if Vin could count on Drew to set her down easy.
The light changed. They crossed, heading toward Jennifer St, which was where Suzie lived. “Hey, there he is!” Miranda looked impossibly happy to see Drew, who was right where he and Vin had agreed to meet.
Her joy made various parts in Vin’s chest hurt. He carefully uncoiled his fists, shoving his hands into his pockets to keep them out of trouble. He didn’t want to hurt either Miranda, or Drew, with whom he’d kept in contact all these years and still considered his best friend.
But he wouldn’t mind burying her case of infatuation.
Drew raised an eyebrow in question as Vin and Miranda drew close. Vin shrugged uncomfortably. Miranda sidled up to Drew with a warm smile, completely oblivious to the fact she was an unexpected and not necessarily welcome addition to the party.
“Andrew, we were just talking about you,” Miranda purred. “I know you’re living out of a hotel. How would you like to move into a boarding house?”
Never a very responsive man, Drew merely waited to hear more. He leaned against his Subaru Legacy, managing to look tough with his arms crossed in spite of the size of the car. He was tough, but Vin didn’t want Miranda to notice.
Miranda’s smile wavered uncertainly. “Suzie is a great cook, and has the best house. You should see it.”
“You’ll do it?! You’ll move in with us?” Miranda’s smile flashed twice as bright as before. Vin would happily have killed to be the recipient. He ground his teeth together, feeling cold spreading from his belly like dread.
“No. I’ll go see. Get in. I’ll drive.”
“We can walk. It’s only half a dozen blocks,” Vin assured him.
“Thanks,” Miranda sounded entirely too grateful, and completely ignored Vin. “My shoes are killing me.” She went around to sit shot gun.
Vin stepped forward to take the back seat and tried to make his teeth unclench. Drew stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“We’ll talk about the case later, after we ditch her at Suzie’s house.”
Vin nodded agreement. As he slid into the back seat relief made him giddy. Drew wouldn’t really move into the house. He was only humoring Miranda. This could work out great. He and Miranda would move in, but not some guy who might distract Miranda. Then Vin could make some real progress with her.
Following Miranda’s directions, Drew parked in the little lot behind Suzie’s house. They all went in through the kitchen. It smelled wonderful. Suzie was pulling out a roast that made Vin’s stomach growl. Miranda was right. Moving in would suit him well. She gave them a short tour of the house.
To Vin’s surprise, Drew looked around with interest. “I thought you were leaving soon. We’ve almost got this case cracked. What are you going to do once it’s closed?”
“I’ve been assigned another case, one that will keep me here a bit longer.”
This day got worse and worse.
“Besides, if we are living in the same house it will be easier for us to work together without raising suspicion. No more meeting in empty parking lots. We’ll simply talk here.” Drew seemed so matter of fact about it.
So he wasn’t interested in Miranda after all. He actually wanted to live in Suzie’s house for good reasons. Vin relaxed. It would be all right. In fact, it would be better than all right. So long as Drew wasn’t interested in Miranda, living under the same roof should be fun.
“So you’ll do it then? Move in, I mean.”
“Sure.” They headed up the stairs with Miranda in front of them. “Even if I weren’t going to be here a while longer I would. I like the view better than anything at the hotel.” Drew said. His eyes were on the seat of Miranda’s little leather skirt. “With a little work, I think I could really get somewhere.”