A few days later, they sat before a judge with Alice and Hackett on one side, and Miranda and Damon on the other. It was difficult for Damon not to stare. As Alice relayed the events of their last meeting, she constantly glanced towards Hackett for reassurance in a way that had once been exclusively reserved for him, and a deep hatred for both of them welled up inside of Damon. When it was his turn to speak, he flatly denied everything, stating that Alice had attacked him without any provocation.
Unfortunately, Hackett had noted and testified to the fact that Damon had pulled out some of Alice’s hair, and the judge took their side. His visits were suspended, pending his completion of domestic violence classes. The thought was nauseating.
As they were leaving, he watched Alice retrieve their baby from an older woman with a big smile, and plant a kiss on the infant’s forehead before turning to hug the warden. His steps slowed in an attempt to linger, but Miranda grabbed his arm to push him and hurry him out of the building. They didn’t say a word as they crossed the parking lot to Miranda’s car, and Damon sat sullenly in the passenger seat as Miranda began to drive. Then suddenly, he lashed out and pounded on the dashboard with his fists.
“Don’t!” Miranda yelled. “I told you not to cause any damage to my car!”
“There’s only one thing that I want from you, and you’re failing,” Damon shot back. “Some lawyer you’re turning out to be.”
“If you had let me file against them first with what I had planned, it would have gone a lot better for you; but you had to go and decide that you didn’t want to jeopardize Alice in any sort of way. And you know what? We wouldn’t have had to go through any of this if you had just kept your hands to yourself.”
“Fuck you,” Damon said as he held up his middle finger. “She was supposed to be my girl.”
“Legally, she’s married to another man, so unwanted sexual advances on your part are considered a crime. Don’t you get it? This is entirely your fault.”
“I trained her specifically to remain mine no matter who she was sleeping with. I had good reason to think that she wouldn’t react the way she did.”
Miranda scoffed. “How in the world do you train a person like that? Is she some sort of puppy?”
Damon’s eyes turned intense as he leaned towards Miranda, and said quietly, “Do you really want to know?”
“Of course. I want to know exactly what sort of ‘training’ you could have possibly done to make you think that you could get away with assaulting her with her husband in the other room.”
Damon then turned away, and said casually, “The first time I had someone else fuck Alice, I sat in the room and coached her on what to do. I made sure that she was dissociated with drugs, that everything she was doing was for my approval, and that I was the one she looked to for …” Damon once again slammed his fist down on the dashboard. “How the hell did that warden break through it?”
“That’s crazy, sordid shit.” Miranda’s grip tightened on the steering wheel. “You really are a despicable person.”
“Oh gee, are you just realizing that now?” Damon retorted. “And here I thought the special little home video I made for you was proof enough.”
“If I had any choice in the matter, I wouldn’t have a single thing to do with you.”
“That’s not what you say when I’ve got you sweaty in bed.”
Miranda slammed on the brakes. “Out!”
Damon raised his eyebrows. “Seriously?”
“Get out. You’re walking home.”
“Fuck you,” Damon spat as he opened the door, then slammed it behind him. Miranda squealed the tires as she pulled away, and Damon began ambling down the side of the road.
Miranda sat in her living room with a number of files spread out on her coffee table, but she was staring at the clock. It was well past 2 AM, and Damon had yet to return. She told herself that she should be relieved, especially if he had skipped out of town with no intention of ever returning, but anxiety formed a sick knot in her stomach despite that. She had checked the garage multiple times to make sure that his motorcycle was still there, and as much as she tried to distract herself, she still fretted.
Finally, the sound of the knob turning and the front door opening echoed through the dark, and Miranda jumped to her feet then froze at the sound of a feminine giggle. Instead, Miranda ducked to hide as Damon walked into the apartment supported by a woman, who gasped and exclaimed, “Wow! You have a really nice place!”
“I’ve got good connections,” Damon slurred in reply, turning to kiss the woman. Miranda bit her finger to gag herself, hating the hot tears that flooded her eyes.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay? I can stay if you want me to,” the woman breathed heavily, her hands sliding over Damon’s butt.
“Nah. My roommate’s around here somewhere.”
“Good night then, and call me.”
The woman giggled more as she left, and Miranda wiped her eyes then steeled herself for the confrontation. Damon was unsurprised when she stepped into the open, folding her arms and placing her feet apart. “Who was that?” she demanded.
Damon burst into a wheezy laughter and answered, “I forgot her name.”
Miranda narrowed her eyes and did her best to hide how hard her heart was pounding as she asked, “Did you sleep with her?”
“I banged her in the bathroom stall, then again on the couch in her living room.” Damon gave her a smug grin. “Is that what you want to hear?”
Miranda’s vision flashed red, and she lashed out to slap Damon as hard as she could across his face.
Damon retaliated by grabbing her arm and twisting it behind her back, holding her pinned in place. “Don’t forget who’s in charge here,” he growled, applying enough pressure that Miranda whimpered with pain and went lax. His breath stank of hard liquor, and every time Miranda twitched he tightened his grip.
“Please stop,” she gasped. “I’m sorry. Please stop.”
“Better.” Damon turned Miranda around to face him, and brushed a few stray strands of hair out of her face. “Hey,” he said softly. “She was just some slut.” All Miranda could do was nod dumbly as she began to cry, and Damon pulled her into an embrace. “I found a bar to blow off some steam, and I had way too much to drink, that’s all. I came back here as soon as I was sober enough to remember where you live.”
“I’m tired, and I want to go to bed,” Miranda mumbled, making a feeble attempt to pull away.
Damon stopped her and whispered, “Miranda.”
“Damon, I … I shouldn’t have kicked you out of my car. I’m sorry for that.” She rubbed her eyes, then laid her cheek against Damon’s chest. “I don’t know if I can keep living like this.”
“I won’t go out drinking again.”
“No, I can’t. I just can’t.” She tore from him and ran to her bedroom, locking the door behind her.