It shouldn't have surprised Viggo. That's what she was like. Miranda was demure elegance, embacing him chastely at the premiere, kissing him low on the cheek, almost his chin, close to his mouth with a murmured: "Fabulous to see you."
But she was also a wild spark, kicking off her shoes and stretching her legs out over his lap under the table. She was wicked smirk, leaning forward and breathing "Happy Birthday, Mr President" at a red-faced and laughing Astin. She was wriggling, giggling, fixing the straps of her underwear outside the Ladies and shrieking with Liv: "I don't fucking believe it!"
She was sliding past him, slithering with a contemplative hum and a hiss in his ear: "So fucking sexy. So unfair." Gone before he could think.
It shouldn't have surprised him, opening the door the next day to find her standing there, bag at her feet, except that she always surprised him.
"I'm here for another day," she said.
"You'll take my spare bed over a hotel?" he asked.
"The hotel was boring. You're more interesting," she said, leaving her bag to step up close to him in the doorway.
"How much more interesting?"
She smiled and slid her hand around his hip. "Don't worry about the spare bed."
Viggo's bedroom was hushed and vacant when it was just him and his thoughts. His bed was just another piece of furniture. But when Miranda lay back upon it, shaking her hair burnished and glorious over his pillows, it seemed like the concentrated centre of the universe. She drew him to her, languorous and molten. He was strung like a bow, quivering with tension from head to heel.
"You're going to ask if I'm sure about this, aren't you?" She sounded amused, not disappointed.
He couldn't ask her a thing. The afternoon cradled them and the balcony door was open. The breeze was chilled, but she radiated heat. "In New Zealand..." he muttered against her skin.
In New Zealand, she'd pressed against him, muscles twitching to the heavy beat, and tangled her hands in his hair. "You're like temptation on legs," she'd purred. Licked hard up the side of his neck. "Mmm... sweaty temptation."
But when he'd tried to hold her, she'd shimmied away and laughed.
"I was saving you for later," Miranda breathed onto his tongue. She arched under him, spread her legs for him. "The ultimate indulgence, the most decadent, the best... oh yes."
He was strung like a bow, and she loosed him, flying, deep inside her.
They went walking on the beach around sunset, though it was a bit blustery. Miranda's hair flew wild behind her, and she made no attempt to restrain it. She laughed, and opened her arms to the wind and the setting sun.
She was one of the more beautiful things Viggo had ever seen.
The tide was out, leaving hard-packed sand exposed for them to tread. The soles of his feet had been hardened since New Zealand, but he wondered if the sand was sharp under Miranda's toes. She didn't complain. She bumped her shoulder against his as they walked back.
"So is it true what I hear, that you've bought a place in - where was it? - Iowa?"
"You have too many states." She pulled a lock of hair away from her mouth, set it free with the rest.
"A property in Idaho."
"A farm? Viggo Mortensen, wedded to the land?"
"Something like that." She was grinning at him, her bottom lip crooked, and he wanted to bite it, just gently, to press his teeth against that most visible of her quirks.
So he did.
She cooked them dinner, ghosting around his kitchen in only her underwear and one of his shirts with two buttons done up. It was dark outside, and they were cocooned in the bright light that ricocheted off her skin, her smile. Viggo sat at the table, just wearing jeans, and watched her.
"Get me the basil," she ordered. When she waved a hand, the hem of the shirt rose up above her bottom, showing black lace.
He pushed back the chair, and leaned for the spicerack. He slid the jar along the table to her. "Demanding."
"I am." She opened the jar, and looked at him. "Take off your pants."
He stood to do it, and she turned to season the sauce. He sat down again, naked, and she watched him as she came around the table, face impassive but her eyes so deep, so dark.
Miranda skimmed her underwear down her legs, and stepped out of it, leaving it on the floor beside his discarded jeans. A leg swung over him and: "Move forward just a little, like... yes, like that."
She sank down the rest of the way, their hips together. She was gripping the chair back above his shoulders. She had him hemmed in. Her hips rolling, her mouth finding his, open and wanting, the endless rock of the ocean, of everything natural.
"The pasta's boiling over," he noted, breathless.
After dinner, they sprawled over his sofa, she sprawled over him, their limbs lay as they fell. Miranda read a script, her attention all away from him. He mentally drew her, again and again on the canvas of his imagination, casting her in every major female role. Miranda as Madonna, as boddhisatva, as the Mona Lisa. As a siren, a valkyrie, Lady Justice. She was all of them and none of them and she defied him.
He could watch her forever like this, lamplit from behind, and let the world wait.
"What have you been up to?" he asked, when she lay down the pages to stretch and yawn.
"Forever. Since New Zealand."
She smiled, soft and warm. "This and that. Working a bit. You know."
He knew. "Lots of offers?" They'd both been working for years, but Rings somehow made all the difference. "You could be the next Nicole Kidman."
She tilted her head back, and he thought she could be anything she wanted. "Splashed all over the tabloids, living in a fishbowl? I don't think so."
"You could marry Tom Cruise."
Her laughter lit her eyes. "God no. That's not how I like my men."
"How do you like them?" he asked, and she was already pushing the script off her lap.
Viggo woke sometime in the darkest part of the night alone in bed. He wondered whether he could get used to her absence as quickly as her presence. But getting used to her would be the worst thing of all.
He joined her by the balcony door, where she was silhouetted against the bright LA night sky. The city was neon, garish in its sins. Bold and beautiful, and it painted her skin, tinting her bare breasts, her stomach, her thighs. He stood behind her and framed her hips with his fingers, careful not to cast his shadow over her. They cradled her between them, him in darkness and the city in light. She languished on the brink, relaxed in his arms, and exhaled into the night.
Miranda had a rental car. She let him drive to the airport. They held hands in the departure lounge, loose and easy. Clasped fingers rested on their thighs pressed together as hysteria and waiting respired around them. She was a rock in the sea, and barely moved until they announced her flight.
Viggo looked at her. She looked back. "That's you," he said, as her fellow-travellers skittered around them.
She nodded, and didn't let his hand go.
He waited. He'd been waiting since he opened the door. He wanted to know. He wanted to be surprised by her. Knew she would.
She said: "I'm getting married. On the first."
She didn't let his hand go until the last minute. Until they were the only ones left in the departure lounge, and the final call was being made. He watched her stride down the walkway to the airplane until she turned the corner. And was gone.
"I'm getting married," she'd said.
"That's amazing," he'd said.
And she'd kissed him, low on his cheek, almost his chin, close to his mouth.
Amazing (the City Sins) by dee