As Miranda stood to leave, Christina and Cindy paused at the door of the Caribou Bar, glancing around the small, dim interior.
“Hey, Christina!” the bartender called. “You know this lady?” He jerked a thumb toward Miranda.
Miranda waited tensely for the moment they recognized her. It wasn’t long in coming.
The two women put their heads together. Cindy pointed at Miranda. Christina glanced behind her at the door as if considering escape. Then the two of women advanced on Miranda, Cindy in the fore.
Miranda plopped onto the same seat she had vacated moments before. The drunk who had been annoying her also reassumed his seat right next to her. He kept muttering something that included the word married, looking at her, and shaking his head.
“Hey, Christina. The usual?” The bartender was already sliding a bottle of Old Milwaukee toward her as she and Cindy took the bar stools to Miranda’s right.
“Yeah, thanks Lenny.” Turning toward Miranda, and leaning forward to see around Cindy, Christina said, “What are you doing here?”
Miranda considered lying, but the bartender would probably tell Christina everything anyway.
“I’m looking for Sean and Joseph. I thought you said they hang out here.”
“Oh. Did I?” Christina looked totally innocent, which made Miranda think the woman was faking it. Not that she was cynical or anything.
“Lenny here tells me they don’t.” Miranda waved toward the bartender, who was mixing up some complicated drink under Cindy’s direction. She recognized it as the one Cindy invented – Café a Frisson.
“Oh, well, I wouldn’t know.” Christina swallowed her beer with a nervous gulp.
She was playing some kind of game, but Miranda couldn’t figure out what it was. What reason could she possibly have for lying? She glanced Miranda’s way as Cindy took her Café au Frisson from the bartender, oblivious to anything going on around her.
“I don’t suppose you’ve seen them lately,” Christina asked.
“I was going to ask you the same thing. You could say I have a bone to pick with them.”
“I guess so with Joseph shooting Vin and Sean trying to kidnap your boy.”
“You mean Suzie’s son, Ben,” Miranda corrected automatically. “He isn’t mine. How do you know which man did which thing?”
Christina shrugged. “I don’t. I think they just look that way. Don’t you?”
Miranda sat back on her stool. She’d never realized it before, but she’d never actually seen either man. All she knew was how devastating it had been to find Vin in the hospital. He could have died. He almost did.
“What are you two talking about?” Cindy took a sip of her concoction, and glanced back and forth between them.
“Nothing,” both women answered at the same time.
Miranda glanced over at Christina with interest. Christina lifted an eyebrow and failed at not smiling. So what if she had secrets. Miranda liked her anyway.
“Did I tell you guys I’m entering a marathon?”
“Yes,” Miranda and Christina both answered.
“It’s a new one called the Four Lakes Run-Walk. It’s a fund raiser, but I don’t remember what they’re raising the funds for. I’m entering the Power Walk division. I could win, you know.”
Both Miranda and Christina dutifully nodded while Cindy rattled off all races she had won. At one point Cindy had tried to talk her into joining the walking club, but Miranda wasn’t all that into it. She didn’t even own a pair of running shoes. Neon green high top vintage Keds didn’t count, did they?
Christina leaned around Cindy’s back and said, “Tell me about Vin and Drew. Are they both FBI?”
Christina might be all right, but Miranda didn’t like her enough to tell her anything about Vin. She shrugged as if she hadn’t understood, and leaned forward, putting Cindy between the two of them.
“Are both Drew and Vin in the FBI?” Christina leaned forward and shouted around Cindy, who was now leaning back as she gestured something about the differences between kilometers and miles.
“Does he have a girlfriend?”
“Yes he does,” Miranda said, her chin coming up in spite of her intention to play it cool.
“Not you,” The drunk on the other side of her said. “You’re engaged.” He glared at her with something half way between hauteur and hurt, then turned a cold shoulder toward her, scooping his drink off the bar as he went.
“Oh.” Christina made no effort to hide her disappointment. “I think both those guys are so cute!
That was not what Miranda wanted to hear. It made her uncomfortable to think anyone outside of Suzie’s house might be interested in either of the guys, though it made perfect sense. They were both hot.
“So, what are you doing here anyway,” Cindy asked Miranda. “I thought you liked The Crystal Corner better.”
“Where do you think Sean and Joseph might have gone?” Miranda had already begun to speak before realizing Cindy was talking to her. She smiled apologetically at Cindy, who gave her a long, considering look.
“I don’t know.” Christina shrugged negligently. “They could be at Woodmans for all I know. Wait, didn’t they both get shot? I’ll bet they are in the hospital. If not St. Mary’s. Try Meriter, or the U of W Hospital.”
Something about the way Christina cut an assessing look her way made Miranda think Christina was trying to throw her off the trail. She’d bet dollars for doughnuts Christina had already checked every Doctor’s office in town. Yet there she sat looking at her as if the whole situation with them was her fault.
“So are you and Vin engaged or something?” Christina asked.
“So what do the two of you think about meeting with me tomorrow morning to go for a walk?” Cindy accidentally rescued her.
“Um….” Christina bit her lip.
“Not me,” Miranda held her hands up to ward off the suggestion. “You know I don’t walk unless I have to.”
“You should. It’s good for you.” Cindy started extolling the virtues of exercise.
Miranda leaned back, and so did Christina.
“Are you really engaged to Vin?” Christina asked behind Cindy’s back.
“Yes.” Miranda said it with only the slightest of hesitations. For all Cindy knew, it might be true, so she couldn’t rat her out. Miranda wasn’t sure why she wanted Christina to think Vin was taken, and had no intention of delving into it.
“I thought there was something going on when I visited before. You are so lucky.”
“Well it’s obvious you love him and he loves you back.” Christina heaved a deep sigh. “I’d give anything for a relationship like that.”
“Guys, are you even listening to me?” Cindy huffed explosively.
Miranda and Christina grinned at one another before say in unison, “Yes.”
“But I’m still not going for a walk,” Miranda added.