Miranda showed up early, and woke Damon with her knocking. He groggily rolled out of bed and pulled on his pants but remained shirtless, then opened the door to stare blearily at her. He stepped back and motioned with a small nod, “Come in.”
“I’m just here to help you get your motorcycle,” she chirped, remaining outside. “If you’re not ready yet, I can wait in the car.”
“Sure.” Damon shrugged. “I just need to, um …” He rubbed his eyes. “Coffee.”
Miranda gave him an exasperated look. “I have to get to the office, so please hurry.”
“Yeah, absolutely. One moment.” He slammed the door shut. After he filled the motel’s coffee brewer with water and the complimentary stale grounds, he pulled on his shirt, leather jacket, and boots, then gave himself a thorough examination in the mirror. He wished that he had time to shower, but from the look on Miranda’s face he knew that it wasn’t the right time to mess with her – the bags under her eyes spoke of a sleepless night, which meant that she was going to be irritable and impatient if he pushed her.
So, after adding a number of sugar packets to his styrofoam cup to help compensate for the taste of the coffee, he opened the door and stepped outside. Miranda was already in her car with the engine running.
“I ain’t a morning person,” he muttered as he sat down, careful not to spill on the leather seats. “You look good, though.”
The corner of her mouth twitched upwards slightly. “That coffee smells awful.”
Damon chuckled. “It’s the best I can get. I’m broke.”
“Go ahead and chuck it out the window, and I’ll get you something more palatable. There’s a little cafe on the way.”
Damon rolled down the passenger side window and threw the entire cup out. “Good riddance! Can you get me something to eat? I haven’t had anything since I was discharged.”
Miranda tapped her fingers on the steering wheel cover. “I suppose I can. We should get you in the work placement program so you don’t starve to death. I can’t pay for all of your expenses.”
“Would it help my case with gettin’ parental rights? No one’s even told me if my kid is a boy or a girl.”
“Girl, I think,” Miranda mused, focusing on making a left turn. “She was dressed in pink.”
That turned Damon’s head. “You saw her?”
“Briefly, a couple of times.”
“Well shit, I’m gonna be the last to know anything.” He slouched down in the seat and crossed his arms over his chest. “It’s unfair.”
“The better positioned you are, the more we have to bargain with. Basil is certain to use your record against you, so it will look good if you take certain steps to improve your image.”
“That’s the warden’s first name.”
“You two know each other pretty well then, huh?”
“Our paths tend to cross. I primarily work with individuals who have been convicted of crimes, and he locks them up. You know how it is.”
“Yeah.” Damon’s mind was churning. Miranda’s decision to help him was almost certainly motivated by a personal grudge against the warden, and if he had to guess then Damon would say that Alice wasn’t the only would-be seductress he had turned down, based on how Miranda wore her blouses. “In that case, sign me up for the work thing.”
He hated the idea of being trapped in a job. Money was easy enough to come by when he needed it, and he liked the freedom of being able to travel whenever and wherever he pleased. However, something in his heart was keeping him tied to Alice, and he had decided to play along until he had the means to snap the threads and move on.
“Here we are,” Miranda announced as she pulled into a parking space in front of the cafe. “I think that I’m going to get a caramel macchiato for myself, so what would you like?”
“Uh, same. And bagels, or whatever. Food is food.”
They went inside together, and Damon made the point of accidentally bumping into Miranda as they passed through the doorway, then sheepishly apologized. She kept her distance from him after that as she ordered and paid for their coffee, until she handed Damon a paper bag. He dug in hungrily and took a big bite of the plain bagel, then walked away to stare out the front window.
Once he got his motorcycle, he was going to get himself a proper breakfast somewhere.
He didn’t speak a word to her when they returned to the car. It wasn’t until Miranda stopped in front of the impound lot that Damon muttered, “We must’ve been an odd looking couple.”
“What do you mean?” Miranda asked, her eyes widening slightly.
“At the cafe. A sophisticated and pretty woman like you, walking in with a punk like me.” He opened the car door and jumped out, leaning down to give a quick, “I owe you,” before slamming the door and walking towards the front office for the lot.
The car idled for a moment before Miranda drove off, causing Damon to grin smugly to himself as he went to retrieve his motorcycle.