“Um… Miranda, you know I love you even better than my own sister, but I don’t think we should try to live together again.” Suzie’s voice came out a little too tight and a little too controlled, which never worked well on Miranda. She caught herself rubbing the pristine kitchen table as if to clean it and made herself stop.
“Why not?” Miranda pulled her head back enough to tell Suzie she had taken offense. Her bleached and pink-streaked hair caught in the pink feathers along the neckline of her halter top. “We got along great before.”
No they hadn’t, but Suzie wasn’t going to tell her best friend she couldn’t stand living with her. She shoved her chair back from the table, her head shaking in a tut-tut kind of refusal. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. That’s all.” Suzie went to the stove, glancing sideways to see how Miranda would react.
“Of course it’s a good idea. It’s a great idea. All my ideas are great.” She held her hand out, looking at her nails critically.
“Like the idea to let the Johnson twins crash on our floor?” Suzie gave the stew a swift stir, not quite slopping over the top of the stockpot.
“They needed a place to stay.”
“Sure. Fine. But did that place have to be my bed? I spent the whole night fighting them off. Meanwhile you were over there in the other single snoring away as if there was nothing to worry about.”
“They tried to get into bed with you?” Miranda stopped messing with her nails and leveled a concerned look at her. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I did. You weren’t listening.” Under her breath Suzie muttered something about Miranda never listening. She noticed the bread dough was puffing more on one side than the other because of the heat from the burner under the soup and turned the pan around.
“Never mind. That was years ago.” Miranda waved her hands in the air, making the plastic bracelets on her arm jingle. “Everything is different now.”
“Are you saying you’ll never bring men into my house?”
Miranda paused as if to give it serious consideration. As if the question needed serious consideration. “Well, no, actually. I can’t promise that because I already know who your other two renters should be, and they’re both men.”
“Lord,” Suzie muttered. “This is worse than a blind date.”
“No. You’ll love them. They aren’t like the Johnson twins. Besides, that was ages ago. These are grown, responsible men.”
“Who have no home of their own.”
“Yes, well… divorce will do that to people.” Miranda arched an eyebrow.
Suzie pressed her lips together, refusing to acknowledge the hit.
For a while after the divorce, Rob had claimed she had made him homeless. He used it as an excuse for moving in with the other woman, and then grumbled even louder when the other woman threw him out. Now, because of her inability to pay the mortgage on her own, Suzie was about to be homeless too.
“This’ll be great. I can save a few bucks compared to what I’m paying for that hideous little studio apartment and still give you enough to make the mortgage. I’ll even throw in a deposit and extra month early like a real renter so you can catch up with the bank.”
“I don’t know, Miranda.” Suzie made her way to the table. She ran the numbers through her head and realized that financially the idea was sound. In fact, if she could rent out all three rooms constantly, she could have a comfortable living and still give her son, Ben, all the time he wanted. Suzie shook her head, determined to get fanciful dreams out of the way. “I’m sure I’d regret it.”
“How long will the bank give you to decide?” Miranda’s eyes narrowed.
She had a good point. Suzie refused to admit it. If she admitted anything, Miranda would roll right over her.
“I have plenty of cash right now. I could move in this week end and all your problems would be over.” Miranda got up from her chair and came around the table, her step confident in her precarious high heels. “If you’re worried about me being around all the time, don’t. I’ll be at the office all day. I’m over here most evenings anyway so that’s nothing new.”
Miranda had a point. Her job at the advertising agency kept her busy all day and sometimes in the evening too. Maybe it would be all right.
Miranda slung an arm across Suzie’s shoulders as she bent down next to her. “Face it Suzie-Woozie. It’s take me in or lose the house.”
Suzie looked at the cheerful tile backsplash she had installed herself, the antique ceiling lamp she had found at the second-hand fixtures warehouse, and the stained glass edging she had made to go around the windows, spending hours and hours at this very table. Then she eyed the bits of pink feather that had accumulated at Miranda’s end of the table, the long hard nails tapping on the table next to her, and the wry expression twisting her old friend’s glossy pink lipstick.
Lose the house, or gain a room mate. Suzie bit her lip.