Miranda looked at Mario Lucharedez standing in the apartment with a gun to Max’s head with a mixture of disdain and anger. Max was tied to the chair and was looking more frightened than she had ever seen him be.
“I thought you were taller” she eventually said.
Mario laughed, “so the girlfriend finally speaks and it’s an insult”.
“Would you like a coffee? I presume you’re staying for a while” she said and put the plate she had been carrying down.
“Small talk won’t save you or your boyfriend”.
“Do you take milk? Sugar?” Miranda continued.
Mario paused, “neither. I have it black”.
“Same as Max then, bunch of bloody weirdos having it black. Max do you want one?”
Max looked at her with alarm clear across his features, he was very conscious of the gun pointed at his head, so he opted to stay quiet.
Miranda nodded and then glared at Mario, “put the gun down I need to know if he wants a coffee or an espresso”.
Mario laughed again, “you know I think I quite like you. You’re ballsy” he lowered his gun, for the time being he was playing along with her unwavering calmness.
She wasn’t fearing him at all.
“c-Coffee” Max said, “Miranda-“
“Three coffees it is” Miranda said and walked to the kitchen.
Mario watched her go and replaced the gun to Max’s head, “before I kill you I’m going to have her. Make you watch as I beat her bloody and kill her. Sweet thing she is deserves that don’t you think”.
Max looked up at Miranda and gulped, “p-please. Please don’t hurt her. Please Mario”.
“But you hurt me” Mario replied as Miranda returned with the coffees.
“If you insist on holding Max hostage, fine, but put your gun down. He won’t move if you’re threatening me. Will you Max?”
“See? Now I’ve had a bit of a crap 24 hours, so please, put your gun down and have a coffee?”
Mario weighed up Miranda before smiling, “I like you” he lowered his gun and took the offered coffee.
Miranda moved to Max and Mario suddenly raised his gun to her, “untie him and I’ll shoot the pair of you right now”.
“Thought you didn’t need guns to threaten people” Miranda said, “but, I’m not untying him. I’m helping him drink some coffee, I don’t think you want people knowing that Mario Lucharedez helped a cop drink coffee”.
She ignored his response and helped Max sip some coffee, locking eyes with him she stroked his cheek.
“So, how did you find us?” Miranda asked, putting Max’s coffee down and taking her own.
“One of my men found you…and then you went running of all things, he followed you here. But thanks to the lovely Carmen I knew where you were”.
Miranda nodded, “so you fell for it then”.
Max’s eyes shot to hers, “fell for it? Miranda did you-“
“I spoke to Carmen. She knew the risks but she knew what had happened before. I knew at some point he’d find her and she had to give him my number. I just didn’t know how long it would take, or what you’d sound like…as for the running? I had a problem, two problems and I knew you’d fall for it. I argued with Max and ran out. Knowing you’d have people watching everywhere. And you fell for it” Miranda smiled, “followed me all the way here. I had thought you were smarter than that and now thanks to Carmen the police are on their way”.
Mario laughed, “so you think fooling me into what? A trap? Sweetheart I don’t play well in traps. People get hurt. Get killed”.
“You torture people” Miranda stated, “and this week I thought I was pregnant, you tell me what’s worse. Thinking I’m carrying the man I loves’ baby only to find I’m not. Or your pathetic, twisted little games?” she approached Mario with wild fury.
“Because let me tell you Mario, you think you can be this power house of greed and anger. Of blood and pain? Nothing compares to thinking you’ve disappointed the man you love. Nothing. And I will do anything to protect him”.
She tackled at Mario, battling him for the gun. Max struggled against his ties as the gun went off in the struggle. Miranda punched and scratched at Mario, shoving, him down to the floor. She pressed her hands to his throat, straddling him as she kicked his hand. Shoving the gun to one side before Mario flipped them and grabbed her by the hair. He slammed her head repeatedly down to the floor as she struggled beneath him.
Max strained against the ties before his hands loosened.
Mario grabbed Miranda and dragged her as she went in and out of consciousness. She spared a look at Max before looking at her coffee cup.
He followed her gaze and saw she’d placed her pocket knife on the saucer.
Max smiled and worked harder on loosening the ties. Slowly, inching his way towards the cups.
Mario lifted Miranda and slammed her against the wall, “you played a good game I’ll give you that. And if you hadn’t hit me I would’ve given you a merciful death. But now? Oh now I get to have some fun”.
He dealt blow after blow to her ribs as she tried to leave his embrace.
He shoved her to the floor and kicked her. Repeatedly until a crack could be heard across the room.
Max’s eyes shot up as he looked at Miranda, lying helpless on the floor but keeping Mario distracted.
“You call this fun? I call this Friday night Spin class” Miranda spat and tried to crawl away. Mario kicked her onto her back and pressed his foot onto her ribcage.
She winced in pain, “you get off to beating women up don’t you? Get off to hurting them”.
Mario laughed, “I won’t just be hurting you love. I want to break you. Make you bleed and cry. Beg for mercy”.
Miranda gripped his foot and yanked, so suddenly Mario fell back. She scrambled to stand and gripped her side. Mario snarled and tackled her to the floor, keeping her down he fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a knife. He pressed it to her throat and snarled, “one more trick like that and I’ll slash loverboy up so badly nobody can recognise him”.
Miranda gripped Mario’s hand, pushing with all her might to keep the knife from her throat. It had a serrated edge, it would tear her throat to pieces if he decided to cut.
She just had to hold on. Hold on for help to arrive or for Max to get free, whichever came first.
Mario howled in pain as suddenly Max appeared behind him. Miranda smiled and used this opportunity to turn the knife around. Pushing at him as Max held Mario’s one side. She tore the knife from Mario’s hand, wincing at it cut her palm before she shoved it into Mario’s side.
Mario howled again, his one leg giving out as Max shoved him to the floor.
“Mario Lucharedez. I have waited too long to say this. You are under arrest for murder, kidnap, injuring with intent to kill of a police officer and so much more”.
“MAX!” Miranda suddenly yelled as Mario turned them over. Kicking Miranda down and pressing his hands to Max’s throat, he squeezed tightly. Miranda winced, how could Mario still be so intent to kill when he had a knife in his side.
She looked at Max’s face turning red, legs kicking out against Mario’s weight. Her eyes then fell to the gun she’d kicked to one side. Fumbling for it she grabbed it and raised it.
“Get off my boyfriend” she snapped.
Mario looked at her, keeping his hands locked on Max’s throat.
“You’ll never shoot me” he laughed, “I know you Miranda Blake”.
“You’re hurting Max” she laughed, “and I told you, I’ll do anything to stop that” she stated and fired into Mario’s chest twice.
His grip on Max dropped as he fell back, dead.
Miranda’s hand shook, but she regained enough composure to move to Max.
“You okay?” she asked and stroked his face.
He stroked her face and smiled, kissing her, “it’s over. It’s all over”.
She winced but rested her head against his shoulder, “Max”.
“Soo you planned for him to come to us then” Max smiled and ran his hand down her arm.
“Only way for us to know we’d be free from him…I’d called Inés. She’s still listening now…” she pulled her phone out of her shirt and smiled softly at Max.
“Hola Inés” Max called and as Miranda pressed speaker.
“Max! Miranda! I heard a gun shot! There is a team on their way to you in less than one minute! Are you okay?”
Max looked at the wound on Miranda’s head and nodded, “we’re fine. M-might need an ambulance but we’re alive. It’s Mario…we had to Inés. We had to”.
Inés was quiet then.
Miranda looked at the dead body, the body she had put there. She had killed a man.
“Get out of your apartment and I will deal with it” Inés spoke, “Rico will be first on the scene”.
The call cut off and Miranda struggled to her feet.
Max smiled and stood beside her, holding her hand he then moved them to the door, he paused to look at Mario and then at Miranda.
“We did this okay? I stabbed him, you shot him. We both killed him”.
Miranda half nodded, “yeah…but the bullets killed him, you only stabbed him with my pocket knife. I did his side and fired a gun. M-Max…I killed him”.
Max stroked her face and kissed her, “to save me. Because I was in danger. We killed him my love. We did. Without me being in trouble you wouldn’t have acted, ergo, we”.
Miranda nodded and squeezed his hand, “let’s…let’s go wait for Rico”.
Max nodded and led her down the stairs as a car pulled up outside.
Rico ran towards them, “my friends! It is good to see y-shit you look awful”.
Max nodded, “there uhm. His body is up there. We had to Rico we had to”.
Rico nodded, “Inés told me. You go in the car and they’ll get you to hospital. Everyone is scouting the area for any of his friends…I’ll deal with the body”.
“Oh, and I heard you thought you might’ve been pregnant” Rico grinned, “haven’t you heard of using a condom Max?”
A FEW DAYS LATER:
Miranda sat on her balcony, a coffee in hand and a book on her table. She was in her shorts and an old shirt of Max’s watching Mallorca’s night life begin.
Max was in the kitchen finishing off making his favourite biscuits.
After they had been discharged from hospital and interviewed privately by Inés, they had been driven to her apartment. Camping out there with one another for a few days whilst Inés cleared them for active duty.
She had missed her apartment, the terrier that insisted she scratch it before she got in the doorway, the small things. But she found herself torn with how she felt over the potential of moving back here, alone. No Max to hold at night. Rico was going over Max’s apartment, he’d taken Mario away and had volunteered to clean the blood from all surfaces, eliminating evidence that could incriminate Max or Miranda later on.
They’d been in her apartment for a few days, oddly content to be spending it indoors together. The days had been full of blissful hours in each others’ arms, catching up on reading and life, they were due back at work tomorrow and Miranda had promised herself to go for a run early on. Max approached her with the plate of Vanillekipferl. He sat beside her and smiled.
“So, Schatz…” he started, “have you checked?” he had that small smile on his face that she found irresistible, she couldn’t not be happy with how her life was now. Max smiling at her, being with her.
She looked at him and smiled, “waiting for you…whatever we do, we do together”.
Max smiled and kissed her head, “together sounds good to me meine Liebe”.