AatW – 54

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Miranda checked up on Damon. His foreman told her that he showed up on time and worked hard, and the results from his last drug test came back clean. By all appearances, he was sincerely trying to turn his life around.

She lost herself in her thoughts as she shifted through and re-organized the paperwork on her desk, replaying Damon’s words in her mind, “Don’t you ever feel like being rebellious?”

The truth was, she did.

Hackett had broken the rules by marrying a much younger girl that he had met as an inmate in his prison, and everything was going splendidly for him. So why couldn’t she do the same thing?

Why shouldn’t she date a younger man with a history?

She wouldn’t marry him, of course – that would be a foolish thing to do – but she could certainly have her fun for awhile then cut him loose when the time came. She hated going home to an empty condo where she only had a goldfish to talk to, but there were only so many excuses that she could use to avoid that reality every single day.

She deserved someone who admired her, and Damon had called her his guardian angel. He thought that she was smart and accomplished, and he was incredibly attractive as well. The next time she saw him, she decided that she was going to make her move.

She was going to do it.

She was going to be rebellious.

For her own sake.

The phone on her desk rang, so she picked it up. “Yes?” her voice clipped, annoyed at being dragged out of her thoughts.

Her personal assistant spoke, “Warden Hackett is here to see you, Ms. Grainey.”

Miranda bristled, but replied, “Send him in.” He was likely there to discuss the incident that had occurred during Damon’s parental visit, and as the lawyer it was her duty to see it through. However, Hackett was the very last person she wanted to see at that moment.

He entered and stood next to her desk with his arms folded, looking down at her in that all too familiar way of his. Miranda stood to match him, eyeing him up and down as the thought sprang unbidden into her mind that she still enjoyed the way he looked in a suit and tie. “You’ll be pleased to know that Damon has decided to not press charges,” she said. “He expressed concern about the effect such an action would have on the security of his daughter, as he believes that she is best left in her mother’s care without interference.” Her words weren’t completely truthful, but that didn’t matter. The important thing was that she was covering for Damon’s lapse in judgment.

Hackett paused and frowned. “Is that so?”

“Yes, of course.” She kept her expression professional.

“Smart move,” he intoned, taking Miranda by surprise with the ice in his voice. “Alice also wishes to refrain from pressing charges.”

“Well then, that’s that. I’m quite busy, so you may go now.” Miranda waved him away and sat down, pulling a few random papers out to scan over. Hackett did not move.

“This is the last thing that I’m ever going to do for you,” he said.

She couldn’t stifle her curiosity as she looked up, unconsciously adjusting her glasses. “And what would that be?”

“Drop Damon as a client and cut off all contact with him.”

She huffed, “That’s not your call to make!”

“I’m warning you. Whatever you think you’re accomplishing, it’s not going to end well.”

“Basil, I would appreciate it if you left right now. I will conduct my business as I see fit, and you have no place offering me any sort of warnings for any reason. This discussion is over.”

He stood still, and for a moment Miranda wondered if he intended to argue. However, he simply stated, “Very well,” then turned and left with an abruptness that made her feel a touch flabbergasted. Had he given up on her? Deemed her unworthy of his help after all?

Her shock turned to anger.

Miranda pulled out her cellphone and found Damon’s name in her list of contacts. She typed up the message, “We should go out for drinks tonight”, then hit send before she had the chance to second-guess herself.

She was going to show Hackett that he was wrong, and that Damon was not a danger to her at all. She was going to give him something to be jealous of.

Hackett returned to the prison and retreated to his office, where he sat down behind his desk and pulled out the paperwork to review the budget for the upcoming year, fiddling with a pencil. His mind wouldn’t focus, and as he stared across the room to his bookshelf, he remembered how silly it had been when Alice had tried to steal his books. The memory made him smile.

“Warden,” his secretary said as she entered the room. “There’s someone on the phone that I think you should talk to.”

“Thank you, Mary, I’ll take it in here,” he replied, then nodded in acknowledgment as she informed him which line it was on by holding up two fingers. “Warden Hackett, speaking,” he said into the receiver.

“Yes, I, uh, was hoping that you could help me find out some information about someone named, um, Alice Leigh,” a woman’s voice said.

He answered slowly and carefully, “I can confirm that she served time here, but she was discharged a several weeks ago, and as the warden I can’t tell you more than that. May I ask who’s calling?” The woman told him, and a giant grin spread across his face as he leaned back in his chair and replied, “You don’t say.”

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