Miranda giggled from her hiding place, covering her eyes and wriggling behind the bushes in her garden.
She squealed as arms wrapped around her, she shrieked and held tightly to them, “Do!”
He smiled and hugged her, “you spent the day hiding again?”
She nodded, “hid lots!”
He smiled and kissed her head, “so you didn’t explore?”
“Pffffff course I did! Down!”
He obliged. Brushing the dirt from her dungarees. Her hair was wild and she had a wide grin on her face.
“You have fun today?”
“I wanna show you something!” she smiled and grabbed his hand. She dragged him as she ran back into the trees. He laughed and followed her, being careful as he ran to look out for sharp objects that could cut into her bare feet.
Wild child he grinned.
She stood and pointed to a lump on the ground.
His heart stopped, “m-Minidas”
“Fun” she grinned, “we played all day. He’s quiet now though”.
He knelt and gripped her arms tightly, “Mini…was that man like that when you found him?”
“Minidas, this is serious. Was he like that when you found him?”
She shook her head and sniffed, “h-he he said something”.
“Yeah? What did he say?”
“Then what happened?”
“I covered his mouth. He was loud. I wanted him to be quiet”.
He shut his eyes and pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly, “okay…okay Minidas okay”.
“Did I do something wrong?”
He looked at her, confusion and fear laced in her wide eyes. He stroked away her tears, “no not at all. But this can’t happen again. Okay?”
“I won’t always be around to protect you”.
Donne frowned, “I have to leave soon. But I’ll be back. Okay? You’ll always be my priority even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now can you go stand watch for me?”
She nodded and wiped her eyes.
“Good girl” he smiled and handed her a coin, it was shiny and she locked onto it, “you keep quiet about this and there’s another in it for you”.
She nodded and smiled, pocketing the coin in her dungarees before marching off to the trees and keeping her back to Donne.
A short while later he lifted her over his shoulders and sat her on them, “no playing in the trees Minidas not unless I’m here okay?”
“But what can I dooooo Mam and Da won’t play!”
“Well, pretty soon you’ll be going to the school”.
“Don’t want to. Hate people”.
Donne turned them and pointed to where the body had been, “you’re going to school or you end up living with him”.
“No! No! I’m living with you no!”
“Good. You’ll go to school then?”
She huffed, “fine…stupid school”.
“You’ll be a bright spark Minidas…my Minidas”.
“DoMinidas” she yelled and hollered.
Donne smiled, “yeah, the DoMinidas…that’s a good name Mini. We’ll keep it secret though. A message from me to you? Anytime you want me or I want you, we use it?”
“Okay- Donne m’hungry!”
Donne laughed, “mile a minute you are… let’s go see if Mam’s got any of her Welsh Cakes we can have yeah Miranda?”
Miranda shot up quickly, panting and looking at the end of the bed, a figure stood there, hidden by darkness. She rolled for the light and turned it on. Looking back at the end of the bed she saw nobody was there.
She looked at Max who was rubbing his eyes against the sudden light.
“Yeah…just…nightmare” she breathed and rubbed her neck. He nodded and sat up, he wrapped an around her and kissed her head.
“You were tossing in your sleep earlier. Must’ve been a nasty one”.
“Don’t really remember it now but yeah…I think it was…” she sighed and rested into his embrace, “sorry for waking you”.
“Never be sorry” he smiled and kissed her nose, “you’ve been through a lot recently, it’s bound to be lurking in your subconscious”.
“You put up with a lot” she replied and rested her head against his body, “how do you do it?”
“Love is never putting up with something” he replied, “it’s never a chore to me. Never. Loving you is an acceptance, a surrender to a very scary Welsh woman”.
She smiled and kissed him, “so my love is surrendering to a German man who can eat his weight in cookies?”
Max laughed, “ja and you just have to accept that”.
She wrinkled her nose but smiled, “you love me for all my faults”.
“Of course. Even the weird ones”.
“Pfft they’re not weird”.
“Doing those bendy moves and being annoyed when I think it means you want sex is weird”.
“It’s called doing yoga”.
“When your body bends that way Miranda it’s called foreplay” he grinned and she laughed.
“For you maybe” she hugged him and the covers close, “will you hold me?”
“Course…let’s leave the light okay? You usually sleep better with it on”.
“t-Thank you” she said, she glanced at the foot of the bed again and shut her eyes. It was just a dream.
Her brother wasn’t really here.
He was elsewhere on the island causing havoc.
Donne wasn’t in the apartment; it was just her and Max. Her boyfriend.
She smiled as Max’s arms held her close, pressing his soul to hers. She squeezed his hand and smiled, drifting back into a mercifully dreamless sleep.
Max woke to find Miranda was still asleep, he rarely woke up before her. Miranda’s natural body clock making her wake at 6AM to go for a run or to tease him. He stroked her face and kissed her hand, “oh my love. Time to tease you”.
He slowly shifted so she was on her back, her hand fell to her chest and she smiled in her sleep.
He grinned and pulled the covers back. He parted her legs and smiled as she stirred.
“Ohh Schatz” he growled and took her shorts off, “don’t you go kicking me”.
He grinned at looked at her, now awake and smiling at him.
“Morning” he grinned before he hitched her legs over his waist.
“Definitely letting you wake up first more” she breathed and smiled, letting her eyes shut as Max turned her to jelly.
Miranda sipped her coffee as Max made them some breakfast, waking up early to have her legs on Max’s waist and her shorts cast aside. It was, she thought with a blush, her favourite way to wake up.
Usually she teased him, tempting him into sex after a run.
She never thought she could find love as strongly as she had. Her heart well and truly belonged to Max Winter, and she would risk everything to keep him safe.
Miranda grinned at him as he tried to flip the pancakes.
According to Max, his pancakes were the best in the world, he wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t going to let him think he was right all the time.
Especially given she had been waking up almost every day now in his apartment, in his arms.
They had been going out now for half a year. 6 months of loving Max and being loved in return.
And he showed no signs of wanting to slow their relationship down.
She glanced at her wrists.
Faint scars were still visible from what Palmer had done to her. She traced them with a frown. It was coming up to Palmer’s trial and she had been going over her notes about that awful time.
Perhaps that was why she was having bad dream after bad dream. Donne and the DoMinidas had been suspiciously quiet and her mind had gone into overtime thinking what he could be doing. Donne being back was bad news, him being quiet was terrifying. Whatever he was planning couldn’t be good.
She just had to hope that her loving Max was enough protection for him.
She looked at him as he cut some strawberries up and smiled, she would protect this man. But to do that she would and probably should, move in with him.
“I’ve been thinking…” she sighed, “we’ve been together a while now a-and we hardly spend any time in my apartment…”
Max smiled at her, “I mean I was going to ask you to move in tonight at dinner”.
She grinned, “so you’d want me in your life, in your apartment permanently?”
“Schatz it’s a struggle to not keep you tied to the bed every morning”.
Miranda rolled her eyes, “I can easily escape ties”.
“Ja I don’t doubt that…but” he grinned and approached with a plate of pancakes and strawberries, “my love” he kissed her neck and placed the plate in front of her, “I would love to test that theory”.
She flushed, “seems like pretty soon we’ll have plenty of time to test it out”.
Max grinned and fed her a strawberry, “God Schatz you turn me on”.
She held his finger in place, licking the juice from the strawberry, sucking the finger and making Max whimper.
“Maybe it should be you tied to the bed” she grinned.
Max nodded, “ja definitely”.
She grinned, “so you said dinner tonight? Where had you planned?”
“Well, it’s our anniversary tomorrow so I thought we could go to a place that makes Paella…Ca’n Manolo”.
“Ooo we’ve driven past there haven’t we?”
Max smiled, “so we are going there tonight and then when we get back here lots of sex”.
Miranda laughed, “of course. A perfect way to start our anniversary; sex”.
“Ja well Inés has got us on the night shift tomorrow”.
Miranda smiled as he sat, “we’ll have to have lots of coffee then to keep you and your wandering hands from falling asleep”.
“You love my wandering hands” he laughed.
“Not when I’m trying to read” she laughed, “I’m getting confused with the names of those Houses because of your hands”.
Max grinned and shovelled half a pancake into his mouth, “it makes me so happy you are reading Harry Potter…I mean the author is a dick but she built a good world”.
“It’s a nice break from my usual reads. I bought the second one the other day”.
Max smiled as she bit into the pancake.
“Jesus Max stop cooking so good I’m going to get fat”.
“You can cook breakfast next time” he offered.
“You want burnt toast and half a banana?”
“God no” he said, “you stick to your dinners and lunches. Leave me to breakfast and brunch”.
Miranda nodded, “sounds good to me”.
Donne looked across the street and at the two figures walking hand in hand. He smiled and sipped his coffee.
They kissed before getting into an old BMW that had no roof. He watched as she turned to the man and said something, he laughed and pulled her into another kiss.
He pressed a button on his phone and the man stopped laughing.
She raised her hand to her ear.
He let the sounds of Mallorca flood through the phone, keeping his eyes on her, “so you had a sleepover last night. I thought little Minidas hated sleepovers”.
“Of all the people to have a sleepover with Mini…I hope you used protection. Don’t need to give you the sex talk do I?”
“Where are you?”
He saw her shift and look around, the man did too. Max. He smiled as the name came to him.
“Let me speak to Max”.
“Let me speak to Max, Minidas”.
She huffed and handed her phone across. Max looked around before putting the phone to his ear.
“You hurt her and I will make sure your end is worse than anything you have ever come across”.
Max gulped, “i-I won’t be hurting her. I can assure you”.
“Maybe I’ll let her hurt you. You really sure you want to be with her?”
Max looked at Miranda, “I love her”.
“Doesn’t mean you won’t hurt her. She’s killed people Max. Innocent people. I hope you understand what you’re getting into”.
“I love her” Max repeated, “you can’t scare me off from that Donne”.
“Maybe not…have a look who Bryn Jones was... late 80’s…Aberystwyth. Then I’ll find you and ask you in person if you really love my sister. Hwyl fawr” he hung up and smirked as Max clearly had something important to say to Miranda.
Max looked at Miranda and handed her back her phone.
“So, I was thinking you should move in to my apartment on our next day off? It won’t take us long because well, how much stuff do you even have at your place now?”
She hadn’t expected this, she had thought he would give her hell over Donne having her number.
“Not much stuff” she smiled, “okay then, next day off we get we’ll take what you’ve got left in your apartment, bring it over to mine and properly christen the bed”.
Miranda laughed, “the amount of times we’ve christened that bed Max”.
“Ja oh God Miranda I’m picturing it now”.
She hit his shoulder, “pack it in. I don’t need you thinking about sex whilst we’re at work”.
“I always think about sex with you when we are at work…what we could do…where we could do it”.
Miranda rolled her eyes, “we’ve discussed this. We are not having sex on the desk. Nope”.
Max laughed, “so…Donne has your number?”
Miranda huffed, “yes. He does. He’s not phoned me in a while but yes…dear ol’Donne…”
Max bit his lip, “and he’s your brother?”
Miranda looked at him, “yes. He is. He’s 14 years older than me. The wanted child of the Blake family”.
“He threatened to hurt me if I hurt you”.
“Nope. Just sort of gave me that older brother talk. Probably good thing he doesn’t know we had sex”.
Miranda looked in the wing mirror of the car, looking for her brother in the crowd, “yeah” she answered before putting her sunglasses on.
She felt sure Max was lying to her about something but what it was she couldn’t think.
When they got to work, Inés, as usual was already there and glaring at everyone over her coffee.
She looked at Miranda and nodded once.
“What how come you get a nod and I get a death threat?” Max protested, “is it cause she’s secretly super scared of you?”
“Max I don’t think anything could scare Inés. If anything I’m scared of her”.
“Big bag Minidas scared? I’ll protect you Schatz”.
Miranda smiled, “good”.
Miranda smiled, “maybe it’s you that needs protecting from Inés”.
Max nodded, “definitely. She knows one of us steals her coffee”.
“One of us?”
“Okay but you can’t blame me. You make me want to risk it every time you bring a mug of the good stuff over”.
Miranda chuckled and checked her emails, “you have your own mind cariad. You can always choose not to risk her wrath for the coffee”.
“Ja. But where’s the fun in that?”
Miranda rolled her eyes and at her desk, turning her computer on to check her emails. There was one that was a valiant attempt on Christian’s part to con her into a social event. Another stating her order had been dispatched, and one that stopped her heart.
URGENT: ABBEY PALMER HAS REQUESTED TO SEE YOU
“Schatz? You okay?”
Miranda looked up at Max’s concerned face, “Yeah course…just a few orders been dispatched. Bought a new dress for when we finally celebrate Palmer being sent to jail”.
Max smiled, “ja? What colour?”
“Red…you know that strappy one you said you would ri-“
“Blake. Winter. If you are discussing your sex life I would very much appreciate it if it was done outside of the office? I do not need a description I get the previews every night”.
Max flushed as Inés smirked at them.
Miranda chuckled and minimised her e-mails. She could deal with Palmer wanting to speak to her later, right now, Inés was smirking.
And that, was never a good thing.
Miranda sipped her coffee as she watched Max emerge from his- well, given she'd soon be moving in, their bedroom. She smiled at him, “so…date night is off then”.
“Yeah” he sighed and straightened his bowtie, “sorry”.
“Don’t be. I get to see you looking hot and I’m being paid to do so” she grinned and kissed him, ruffling his hair as she did.
He laughed, “you are a pest. Hands at your sides Blakey” before he flattened his hair down. Inés had given them the job of pretending to be, well, Max had to pretend to be, a man jilted at the alter. She slipped a ring on his finger and then took her watch off. She clasped it around his wrist and smiled, "perfect...very vulnerable".
Miranda was going to be listening in and watching out for La puta de Palma. A crudely named woman who had a taking to men who looked sad and lonely. Fooling them into promises of more than soft kisses before they were found naked, tied to a bed with all their money and valuables taken.
“I’m still not happy with you being bait” Miranda said with a pout.
“Jaaa well if roles were reversed I wouldn’t be happy with you being preyed upon by men”.
“Max” Miranda laughed and folded his cuffs, “no man would dare approach me because you gave me the biggest love bite on my neck. It’s taken me half an hour to hide it”.
“Ja cause I don’t’ you forgetting you are mine”.
Miranda rolled her eyes, “as if I could forget that” she smiled, “you play nice okay? I’ll be in your ear the whole time but if you need out you say Minidas”.
“Yes yes like my old nickname. But you say that and I know you need me”.
Max nodded, “understood” he stroked her cheek, “Minidas”.
She smiled and kissed his palm, “now go on. You need to get set up at the bar and I, lucky woman I am, get to spend time with Alverez”.
“Oh you sound so excited about that” he teased as she huffed.
“Yeah well you try spending more than five minutes with the man. He stares at my boobs and doesn’t talk to me unless it’s something sex related. Should let Donne see him”.
Max eyed her.
“I’m kidding Max” Miranda said and squeezed his hand, “okay? Kidding”.
Max nodded, “I know….just picturing what he’d do to me if ever I hurt you”.
Miranda shook her head but was smiling. She kissed him again before letting him leave his apartment and walk down the hill towards the epic-centre of bars and restaurants. All of which had been recently targeted by La puta de Palma.
As Max walked down the road, he pulled out his phone and typed slowly and with purpose.
Bryn Jones, Aberystwyth.
A few thousand results appeared so Max edited his search.
Bryn Jones, Aberystwyth, murder.
The field was narrowed somewhat, going from 4,000 to 40.
He leaned against the wall and added one final word to his search.
Bryn Jones, Aberystwyth, murder. Blake.
Two results appeared. The first one said;
Local paedophile found buried at the edge of an old family home. Bryn Jones, who went missing in 1988, was found today by M. Blake, aged 13.
Whilst the second one was of more interest to him;
Body of convicted paedophile, Bryn Jones, found by sister of murderer Donne Blake. Miranda Blake, aged 13 and possible last victim of Mr Jones.
Max clicked the link before he heard Miranda in his ear.
“You at the bar yet?”
“Ja I’m here…just outside. How’s Alvarez?”
“I got bored of him so I drugged his drink”.
“Oh relax he’s not even here yet” she huffed, “stop thinking the worst”.
“Stop saying the worst” he retorted with a grin before pocketing his phone.
“Max. I’ve got eyes on the CCTV…she’s at the bar...black dress, long blonde hair”.
Max nodded and moved into the bar, looking forlorn and depressed as he slumped to the bar. He ordered a shot before twisting the ring Miranda had placed on his finger an hour ago.
Max looked up at the bartender and half laughed, “kinda…supposed to be getting married today. Caught by lovely bride to be; Miranda, having it off with my so called friend”.
“Don’t you dare” Miranda said in his ear.
“Withholding sex from you tonight”
He drained his shot.
“Sorry to hear my friend” the man said, “clearly she wasn’t meant to be”.
Max half smiled as he refilled his shot glass.
“Clearly she had more secrets than I knew” before he took the shot. He finding making up a story about Miranda easier than he should’ve. Perhaps because he knew she had her own tales tell, it made it all the more easier to spin his own webs.
Maybe that was why Miranda had kept so much from him with so much ease.
His phone buzzed with a text and he ignored it. Tonight he had to work on La puta de Palma.
Tomorrow would be a time for finally asking Miranda some well overdue questions.