My thanks go to my proofreaders LadyCibelle, and my friend SH, for attempting to sort out all of my co... foul-ups! But I must remind the reader that I still retain my annoying habit (Well I would be surprised if I doesn't get right up their noses, after all the effort they put in on my behalf!) of fiddling with my tales of woe, almost every time that I open them. So blame for typos, spelling mistakes and all grammar foul-ups, should be laid at my door.
I must admit she still looked as beautiful as she ever had; well, I could see through the forlorn expression on her face. Five foot two and with a figure that could raise any red-blooded man's blood pressure; I'd thought she was a special gift to me from heaven when we'd first met. I'd pursued her, wooed her and eventually convinced her to marry me. For seven years, my whole world had revolved around her.
Now there she was, standing on the pavement in the drizzling rain, outside a block of flats in the city. Two suitcases at her feet and a table lamp in her hand. I remembered that table lamp, it was one that her mother gave her; it was the only piece of furniture she'd taken from the house.
I'm not really sure how long I stood hidden in that shop doorway watching her; wondering what she intended to do; besides get soaked to the bone, that is. After a long time, I began to realise that Miranda really had no idea what she was going to do; no matter how many other people had foreseen what was going on, this turn of evens had taken Miranda completely by surprise.
I'm not sure what I was intending to do as I stepped from my hiding place in the doorway, put my umbrella up and confidently walked the fifty yards or so to where Miranda was standing. I believe I was intending to play it by ear and just react to whatever Miranda said or did.
Possibly, Miranda didn't recognise me, until I got up close to her; maybe because of the umbrella that I held low to keep the rain off as much as was practical. But when she did finally realise exactly who was approaching her. What I can only describe as a defensive or maybe even a little apprehensive expression came over Miranda's face and she glanced around quite nervously, as if looking to see there was anyone who could come to her assistance. I have no idea whether Miranda thought that I was going to attack her or what; but that was sort of impression that I drew from her actions and general demeanour.
However by the time I finally arrived near to her, she must have decided to put a brave face on things and brazen it out.
"Hi Miranda!" I said when I got close enough for her to hear.
"Hello Harry, what are you doing here?" She replied turning her head away slightly, so that I couldn't see her face."
"Well, to be honest, I did come to gloat. But... well I came to gloat but now I wish I hadn't."
"What do you mean gloat, gloat over what?" She spat back at me.
"You, getting evicted from your lovely flat!" I informed her.
"You knew that I was going to be evicted from my flat today?" She asked, obviously amazed that I did if the tone of her voice was any indication.
"Come on, Miranda; technically you weren't evicted, because it wasn't your flat. It was your loverboy's flat, his name was on the lease and he wasn't going to pay the rent after he'd cleaned you out and done a runner, now was he? It was just a matter of time before the landlords got impatient for their money, kind of left you holding the baby though didn't he."
Miranda looked embarrassed for a few moments, and I do believe she thought she'd try to bluff it out.
"You don't know what you are talking about! Sven is away on a business trip, he got delayed for a few days that's all. Unfortunately, we have a minor cash flow problem, until the deal he's working on goes through. He'll be back in a day or so, to sort everything out. We are moving to another flat, an upmarket penthouse apartment. That's why we terminated the lease on this flat. Sven being delayed has just temporarily thrown our schedule out by a week or so." Miranda blustered.
"Is that so? So tell me, where are you intending to live until loverboy returns, Miranda? I asked, I was beginning to get annoyed that she was lying to me. But then I realised that she was probably lying out of embarrassment for the situation she had suddenly found herself in. Although I suppose there was the possibility that she still hadn't realised what had happened and the gravity of her situation.
"I'm going to stay with my sister for a few days until Sven gets back into the country. I just can't understand why my taxi is taking to long to get here; I called it hours ago." Miranda bluffed.
I doubted she'd called a taxi, because I was pretty sure that her purse - much like I knew her bank accounts were - was completely empty. The private detectives report I had in my pocket virtually assured me of the fact. I could have called her bluff... I could have walked away and left her standing in the rain... but I still felt a little affection for the mother of my children.
"I'll tell you what; it doesn't look to me as if your taxi's going to show in a hurry; why don't I run you over to Karen's place. It's been a long time since I saw her and the baby."
Miranda gave me a sideways glance; she had been avoiding looking me in the eye all the time I'd been talking to her. Yeah well, they say that not many people can lie to you and look you in the face at the same time.
"I suppose I might as well accept your gracious offer; it does look as if my taxi has let me down." She replied, with a resigned tone to her voice."
"Come on then?" I said cheerily, holding out my umbrella for her to take so that I could pick up her two cases. See no matter what a bitch Miranda had turned into, I couldn't shake off the fact that basically, I am a gentlemen.
Taking the brolly in her free hand, she followed me to my car.
"You've got a new car!" She exclaimed, after at first looking confused as I opened the boot of the Beemer.
"Yeah, it's only a company car, but it suits me and the kids fine for a run around. Little sods won't stop playing with the electric windows though, well you know what they're like?"
Actually, I was very proud with my new company car that came with full leisure usage; but I didn't want to state the fact to Miranda. Before she left me, I had been struggling to run two second hand cars for us, and pay the bloody mortgage as well.
"How are the children?" She asked, as she settled in the front passenger seat.
Fine, fine! Missing their mother of course, but that's to be expected.
My purposeful mention of the children had done what I'd intended it would do, and jolted Miranda's conscience over the fact that she hadn't come down to visit them recently.
"I'm sorry about that; I've been missing them as well. But I've been so busy lately that I just haven't been able to find the time. I'll try to get down next weekend. It's your fault really, if you hadn't moved them out to the middle of nowhere, it wouldn't be so far for me to have to travel.
"What did you expect me to do Miranda? You demanding half our assets, forced me to sell the house, I warned you about that. And you also knew that Carter had been bugging me to go and work for him for years. The only reason I hadn't was because you insisted that we stay in the city. Well, houses are cheaper down there and I got a massive increase in salary when I took Ben Carter up on his job offer. Enough for me to be able to employ a nice housekeeper to look after the children; after all their mother has other interests now."
Surprisingly Miranda didn't take the bait or retaliate, but I hadn't expected her to really; she might be gullible, but she wasn't that stupid. If she had risen to the bait and gone onto the attack, I might well have stopped the car and told her to get out. That would have left her in the same pickle she'd been in before I'd approached, stuck out in the rain with no money in her purse to get to her sister Karen's flat.
Miranda stayed silent for the rest of the journey. I almost dropped the bomb on her during the trip, but a plan had begun forming in my head. Karen and I had always got on, and Karen is also pretty nosey; if I could drop the hint about my new housekeeper to her, she'd surely ask the right questions.
"Oh Harry, this is a surprise. Er, what have you got there? Karen asked looking down at the suitcases I was carrying, as she opened her door.
"Miranda's cases, apparently she's going to be your house guest for a while." I replied with a grin on my face.
I'd managed to stay in front of Miranda as we exited the lift, her two suitcases I was carrying had prevented her passing me in the narrow corridor.
The expression on Karen's face told me that she definitely wasn't expecting her sister to come and stay.
"Sven's been held up abroad and we haven't signed the lease on the new flat yet. I'm at a little bit of a loose end until he arrives!" Miranda blurted out from behind me by way of explanation.
"And you volunteered to drive her over here?" Karen asked giving me a quizzical look.
"Yeah I just happened to come across Miranda standing on the corner out in the rain and... Well I thought that if she stood there for too long the local police might pick her up for soliciting. Wouldn't like something like that to get back to the children!" I grinned at Karen.
"How dare you?" Miranda started to say, but Karen was on top of the situation.
"Miranda. Don't get out of your pram; Harry's taking the piss. Christ, you should know what his sense of humour is like, you were married to him for long enough!" Then she went on, "I wish you'd given me some notice Miranda the spare room is an absolute tip." Karen said as she led us into the flat and then to me. "Coffee Harry?"
"Yeah fine, black and strong; you know how I like it, Karen." I replied.
"You're not kidding big boy. But not so much of the black I don't think!" Karen grinned at me.
"Alright coffee black! My women a little on the pink side." I assured her.
"What are you two going on about?" Miranda demanded. I guess she picked up on the innuendo in Karen's and my voices.
"Nothing that should concern you sister. You and Harry were divorced by then."
"I don't believe it! My sister and my ex-husband?" Miranda gasped. "Haven't you got any family loyalty?
"Sister, a woman who steps out on her husband and children, shouldn't try to lecture anyone about family loyalty. Now you are welcome to use my spare room for a while, but you can tidy it up yourself. I'm going to make everyone some coffee! Coming Harry?" Karen grinned at me.
Karen hadn't been too enamoured when she'd learnt that Miranda had walked out on me. She'd been even less enthralled to learn that Miranda had shacked up with Sven and left the children behind. More than a few times she'd come over to commiserate with me and because I had been feeling that it was a failing on my part that had lead Miranda to leave. Karen had taken it upon herself to make sure I knew that it wasn't. It's a shame that there was no real chemistry between us, but by Christ, was Karen good in bed. Mind she didn't actually climb into my bed until after the divorce was final.
I liked Karen and she liked me, but there were no feelings that we could build an emotional relationship on. Except that we both like shagging and just about every other form of sex. For a time we discussed it, but we both knew that there was never going to be a long-term future in it.
"How's the new house?" Karen asked as she poured the coffee.
"Fine, the kids love it and my new housekeeper is brilliant with them. Helps that she has two children of her own about the same age, I suppose. Mind the children had a language problem at first, but they are getting around that now."
"A language problem?" Miranda's voice came from behind me somewhere.
"Yeah sure, my housekeeper is Dutch; but her two little ones are picking up the lingo all right. I think in the long-term all the children could end up being bilingual, they talk a kind half Dutch half English between them, bloody confusing until you get the hang of it." I assured them.
"Where did you find this housekeeper?" Karen asked.
This was good, Karen's curiosity had been piqued, and she was asking the right questions from my point of view.
"Oh, I ran into her in Holland almost a year ago, while I was doing some research. She had been widowed and then she'd got involved with a guy who turned out to be a real con artist. Seems he goes around Europe seducing women and well... then the bugger talks them out of their money and does a runner with it. Usually he gives them some bullshit about a big deal he's got going that's going to make them rich, but he needs some help to finance it. He left poor Eda without a penny to her name!
"Well, when I needed a housekeeper, I remembered her. She wasn't sure about moving to the UK, but I think she's happy enough that she did now. We're thinking about making it a permanent arrangement."
"Permanent?" Karen quizzed.
"Oh yeah, I bought her a ring the other week. Funny that we just kind of fit together. Isn't that how you how described it with you and Sven, Miranda?" I asked.
"Well... Um, yeah there was just a sort of emotional bond that grew between us." Miranda replied.
"This guy who took all Eda's money. Does he have a name?" Karen asked. The suspicion obvious in her voice.
"Oh sure, he's got plenty of names. Tends to change his surname a lot though, but he nearly always calls himself Sven something or the other."
"Not!" Karen asked.
"Yeah, it sure looks like it, Karen!" I replied with a... little smile. I didn't want to overdo it.
"You're lying?" Miranda screamed from behind me, at the same time striking me on my back.
After I got over the shock, I turned to face her.
"No Miranda, your man Sven was arrested in Amsterdam last week. That money you gave him he was trying to set-up a drugs deal with. In a way you were lucky, had the deal gone through you would have lost the lot. As it is, the British police have been tracking it and you have a good chance of getting it back. It was a close call, let the deal go through and then have Sven locked away for years. Or throw a spanner in the works and he'd only be nicked for conspiring to import drugs into the Netherlands. I figured you'd need some money to live on."
"You, threw the spanner in the works?" Karen asked.
"Yeah well, it cost me a few bob but I had some private detectives watching him. They just had to jump the gun a bit and call the Dutch police in."
"But why, surely you had reason to want him put away forever? After all he broke up your marriage." Karen said.
"What marriage? Miranda couldn't wait to find someone else. If it hadn't been Sven what's his name, it would have been some other flash git. No actually, he did me a big favour really; I got rid of a selfish bitch and found myself Eda. Oh don't worry, he won't get off that lightly in the long term, there's half a dozen different police forces all queuing up to nab him for con games he's played on women all over Europe. Once he gets out after one stretch in prison, they'll hand him to another police force for the next charge.
"Right I think we're done now. Miranda, here's the number of a very nice policeman who should be able to get your money back for you, eventually." I said rising to me feet.
"But why did you worry about getting Miranda's money back?" Karen asked.
"Not much else I could do, Karen. Can't have a bag lady or lady of the night, calling at my house to visit my kids, can I?
Some time during my little tirade Miranda had taken a seat; she was by then staring at me with her mouth open. She never even flinched when I mentioned prostitution again, which to my mind is possibly the only way Miranda could earn a decent living. But that might just be me, being vindictive.
Karen stood and came with me to the door. "You're better off without her, you know! I wish you and Eda well!"
"Pity I ran into the wrong sister first, Karen. Had we been younger we might have..."
"Don't say it, Harry! Sometimes I get the same thoughts myself."
Five minutes later I was driving away from Miranda for the last time. I owed her nothing and she had no call on me any more.
Life goes on
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