Miranda’s brain short circuited the second they connected. All she could focus on was the fact that Gary’s mouth was on hers. His soft, warm lips that were a million times better than she ever imagined. He pulled back just far enough to look at her. “Good?” He asked.
“Amazing.” She answered in a cracking voice. As usual any attempt at playing it cool went out the window the minute he spoke. “More please and thanks.” His eyes twinkled as he chuckled low in his throat before leaning in again for a deeper, hungrier kiss. He rolled onto his side and let one hand slide down her back to keep her close. He didn’t need to worry too much however as it would be very hard for her to leave with her hands cradling his head and fingers running along his scalp.
A drunken laugh and a door slam in the hallway jolted them back to the reality that oxygen was necessary. Gary sat up quickly and turned to the door in case any misguided revellers attempted to enter.
“Well if I didn’t already feel like I was back in 6th form that definitely completed the picture.” Miranda said from her recumbent position.
“I think you would have had to be able to speak to boys in 6th form for that to happen.” Gary teased.
“I spoke to you.” She made a half hearted attempt to tidy her tousled hair. “Not my fault you were too busy nipping at Bella’s heels to notice. Actually it’s probably a good thing you didn’t notice I was a tad bit pathetic back then.”
“Hey, that’s my girl you’re talking about.” He said snaking an arm around her waist and pressing a small kiss to her lips. “And I won’t stand for it.”
“Your girl?” He nodded. “So what does that mean?” She searched his face as uncertainty began to tingle in her mind.
“It means,” He trailed off, watching disappointment creep into her eyes as the seconds passed. He screamed at his brain to come up with something, anything to say that would make things better. Grabbing her hands he took a deep breath “Look, I’ve said before that If it came, I never wanted to miss our chance. But there is so much happening right now that I think we need to take it slow yeah?”
“You did just become the Next Best Chef.” She conceded. “Though I kind of feel like they need to think about that branding. Sounds a bit like you came in second, like there’s a better chef they just couldn’t get. Maybe it’s the one you replaced.” As with most moments a cloud of awkward defended the longer she kept talking.
“Are you ok? With all of this?” He asked.
“Kind of late to ask isn’t it? Isn’t like you can un-win.” He shrugged. “Anyways I agree, I think. I mean we want to make sure that we don’t break the good bits.”
“So, you want things like now but with the kissing?”
“Seems like a good place to start.” He agreed. “Then we just see where it goes?”
“Alright.” Miranda had waited this long, what was a few more months, especially when those few months still included those delicious, amazing, lips that curled her toes and made her head swim.
“Good.” They sat quietly for a few moments before the realization dawned that they were still in a hotel room, alone, with no one to bother them for several hours.
“Back to it then?”
“Thought you’d never ask!” Miranda exclaimed relieved. They crashed into each other with a newfound confidence of knowing exactly where they stood, at least for one night.
As episodes of the show began to air the crowds at Gary’s slowly picked up.
“It’s getting worse every night!” Stevie commented as they pushed their way through the packed dining area towards the bar. “One of these weeks we’re not going to get in.”
“Never to worry, I have some pull with the management” Miranda said while trying her hardest to think thin thoughts to squeeze past the throng.
“Exactly how much pull?” Stevie asked.
“More than before.” They managed to get the last two stools and surveyed the organized chaos. “There is a lot going on.” She said repeating the line they stood by whenever anyone asked them about the burgeoning relationship.
Her first glimpse of Gary for the evening came when he popped out from the kitchen with a fresh case of beverage bottles for the bar. She was completely convinced he hadn’t seen her through the rush until she felt a pair of growingly familiar arms sneak around her waist.
“Hello you.” He kissed her cheek and moved around to give Stevie a quick hello.
“Busy tonight eh?” Miranda said grabbing a couple crisps from the bowl on the bar
“Yeah I know, might actually be able to pay myself on time this month” Gary said proudly.
“Well just don’t go getting a big head and forget us little people” Stevie teased.
“She does truly mean ‘little’ in her case.” Miranda added.
“I do not have to sit here and take that!” Stevie scoffed. “Maybe I’ll leave you to wait out the dinner rush on your own shall I?” She tipped her head in the direction where Gary had wordlessly run off to.
“Oh come on, stay a little bit. We can play ‘guess the starter’ and judge the people who choose incorrectly because obviously we know better.” The argument was convincing enough to entice her companion to stay until Gary was able to take his break.
“I swear one of these days I will take you on a date where I’m not working.” He smiled placing two plates in front of them
“It’s fine. Don’t forget I own my own business too.”
“ Yeah but it’s not really the same is it?” Miranda looked at him suspiciously, trying to catch his argument. “ I mean I’m doing all the planning, the books, running the kitchen. You have Stevie doing all the hard stuff.”
“I do not! I’m the owner, Stevie is my employee. That would be like saying that because you have Clive running the bar you aren’t a real chef.”
“Excuse me?” They looked over to see a trio of twenty-something girls standing at their table. “You’re Gary from Twelve Best Chefs aren’t you?” He nodded and was promptly pulled off the bar stool while they gushed compliments at him.
“You look even better in person!”
“I’m really hoping you win.”
“Did you really revive that pastry with only 10 seconds to spare?”
Miranda sipped her wine and watched. I mean she had figured this might happen at some point but actually watching it in action was more annoying than she anticipated. One of the three turned back to her.
“Oh! nope, nope I’m not anyone famous though I’m flattered-“ Miranda interrupted. The fan looked confused.
“I was going to ask if you were able to take our picture.” Miranda flushed with embarrassment and grabbed the offered cell phone. The girls scrunched in as Gary threw his arms around them. She took the photo, maybe purposefully a little crooked but no one could prove it. The fan took the phone and stood in front of Miranda closing the circle and separating her from the conversation entirely.
Gary couldn’t be sure exactly how long he entertained the girls questions, all he knew is when he looked up, Miranda was gone.