It was still dark when Damon woke up.
After his drunken excursion at the bar, he had spent a couple nights on the couch to give Miranda her space, until she had quietly asked him to share her bed once again – even his company was better than long hours spent alone with herself. They resumed where they had left off, without talking about any of the events that had transpired. He took her out most nights, and flirted with her when it suited him, carefully inserting himself into more and more details of her life. He was developing an odd fondness for her that was constantly combating against his dislike of the way she carried herself, but the moments when she relaxed and let go of herself were endearing. Miranda was growing on him.
But that night, he had dreamt about Alice.
His heart ached as his eyes opened, and for a moment he stared up at the dark ceiling, feeling … regret. Slowly, Damon sat up and picked his phone up from the nightstand, using it to pull up a picture of her. She grinned up at him from the screen, with pink hair and black eyeliner, and he thought about how much more beautiful she had become without him.
“Is that Alice?” Miranda asked from beside him, and he quickly turned off the screen, his mood spoiled.
“None of your business,” he replied, setting the phone back down.
“No, I want to talk about this.” Miranda sat up. “Do you still love her?”
Damon cast a sideways scowl at her, then stood up and pulled on his pants. “What do you think?” he asked snidely.
“Why? What has she got that I don’t?” Miranda drew up her legs to hug her knees, watching Damon’s outline move in the dark room. “What makes her so special?”
Damon thought for a moment, wondering how much he wanted to bother himself with explaining, and how much Miranda was even capable of understanding. His dream had struck him deeply, and he decided that at the very least, he wanted to answer the question out loud. “Alice …” he began, then paused to formulate his thoughts. “She’s the only one who ever saw me as a person.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Miranda fumed. “I bet it’s that same old thing about how men like younger women, and that’s the only reason why both you and Basil are so fixated on her.”
“Shut the fuck up!” Damon snapped. “You’re just some self-absorbed bitch who’s only good for a temporary distraction, you got that? You don’t know shit.” Miranda sat in stunned silence, so he continued, “In all this time, you never once considered that I might give a damn about my kid. It never occurred to you that I have thoughts of my own. And just now, you acted like I’m too stupid to know my own feelings without you dictating them to me. Alice actually gave a fuck about me – but you never have.”
“Do you think that I’m supposed to erase myself so I can pander to your feelings?” Miranda shot back. “I’m not some doormat!”
Damon laughed, slowly and coldly. “Then what are you, exactly? What decisions have you made for yourself lately?”
Miranda curled up even more tightly, her lips twisting downwards as she quietly answered, “I don’t have a choice …”
“It’s easy to be a victim, isn’t it,” Damon sneered at her. “The fact is, Miranda, I can’t blackmail you without your consent, and you’ve loved every moment of it.” He turned and glimpsed something out the bedroom window. Miranda replied, but he didn’t hear what she said as he slowly adjusted the blinds to cautiously peek out, then cussed profusely. “Get dressed,” he said, snatching his shirt from the floor and pulling it over his head. “Quickly.”
“Why?” Miranda asked scowling, but she slid out of bed to open her drawers and rummage through them.
Damon went to her closet and reached in blindly for something, then threw the clothing at her. He left the bedroom and hid himself in the front entrance, closing his eyes to listen carefully. Sure enough, there was pounding on the door, followed by a voice bellowing, “Police!”
Miranda was still buttoning up her shirt as she scampered out of the bedroom, looking at Damon with wide eyes. He nodded at her, so she answered the knock.
“Miranda Grainey?” the officer asked, and she replied in the affirmative. “We have a warrant to search the premises.”
“On what grounds?” she said, trying her best to sound secure while all too aware of Damon’s presence just out of the officer’s sight.
“Is there a Damon Rake here?”
She felt herself grow cold, but said, “No.”
“Would you please step aside?”
“On what grounds?” Her voice was tight.
“We have evidence that Damon Rake has been residing with you.” The officer pushed his way in, followed by another.
“That’s just absurd!” Miranda resisted the urge to look directly at Damon as she stepped away from him, hoping to keep the police officers distracted. “Damon Rake is a client of mine, but he’s most certainly not living here. You can’t just barge into my home because of some rumor, and you can bet that I’ll be taking you to court over this. You’ll be lucky if you still have a job after I’m done with you.”
Damon took advantage of her rant, and silently slipped behind the officers and out the door. Miranda privately let herself feel a surge of relief, though she carefully kept it from showing on her face.
She continued, “If you touch any of my personal items then I’ll sue you for sexual harassment. I am not going to be subjected to this!”
Then Miranda’s heart stopped as shouting echoed from outside, followed by the officer’s radio bleeping, “Got him.”
“Take him in. We’ll finish up here,” the officer said back into his radio, then he looked at Miranda expectantly. “You might want to come with us to provide a statement. A team will be up here shortly to perform the search.”
Miranda’s knees went weak. For a moment she felt herself dissociate, and her lawyer voice clipped in her ear, “Cooperate, but don’t answer any questions. Keep your head together.”