I’ve been sitting on this for awhile now.
All I need to do is write up the last few paragraphs, which I have neatly planned out and all that jazz.
But something about it doesn’t feel quite right, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what.
I’ve decided that it’s been long enough that I ought to go ahead and post what I have written, and I apologize that it’s not 100% finished.
Miranda waited outside the prison gates, resting against the hood of her car as she kept a careful eye on the drive between the thick walls and the building kept therein, occasionally fidgeting to check the time on her phone. Her fingers were growing numb in the late Autumn air, and while she considered retreating into her car to keep warm, she knew that she didn’t want to miss the exact moment he appeared.
After ten long years, she was about to be reunited with the man who had both destroyed and saved her life. He had gone into prison every bit a scoundrel, and Miranda hoped against hope that the improvements he had professed to have undergone during their correspondence were genuine. It was easy to keep up a facade in letters, and she didn’t want reality to prove differently.
Two figures appeared, and a relieved smile swept across her face as she recognized the gait of one of them. She stood straighter as they approached, but she didn’t take a step forward until the guard saw the former prisoner and his small box of personal items through the gate to the outside world, then turned to retreat back to his duties.
Damon faced her wordlessly, and they both struggled with how they should greet each other in the moment. He awkwardly put out his hand at the same time that Miranda moved for an embrace, and they laughed nervously then settled on a one-armed hug.
“You sure about this?” he asked, as Miranda motioned for him to get into her car. “It’s not too late to have second thoughts.”
“I’m sure. Just … don’t ever lie to me again, okay?” She folded her arms and bounced lightly on her feet, feeling both antsy and cold. There was a clarity in Damon’s face that hadn’t been there when they had first met a decade ago, and it made her certain that what they had written to each other wasn’t just a fantasy.
Damon looked her up and down, and a mischievous glint entered his eyes. “In that case,” he murmured, pushing Miranda back against he car as he pressed himself against her, gently touching the side of her face as he locked his gaze on hers. “Should we pick up where we left off?”
Miranda wrinkled the bridge of her nose. “With deceit and blackmail? Definitely not!”
“I meant in our letters.” He brushed his lips against hers. “I seem to remember a very sweet confession of love from you, and I want to reciprocate it.”
Her heart quickened and her eyelids fluttered as they deepened the kiss, and his touch felt both new yet familiar. Memories flooded her mind of the nights that they had spent together before his incarceration, back when Miranda had been reluctant to admit how much she loved the way Damon had made her feel alive and feminine while underneath him, and she quivered with emotion as her hands found the nape of Damon’s neck. However, her touch made him flinch, and he took both of her hands into his as he said, “You’re freezing.”
A minute later, Damon’s boxed was neatly in the trunk, and they were both sitting in the car with the engine idling and the heat blasting as Miranda held her hands over the vent to warm up, continually glancing over at Damon to study him. “You’ll like the ranch, I think. It’s good land, and the house is a decent size, too, with a detached garage that you can use as your shop. All we need now are the horses.”
“Sounds good,” he replied simply.
Miranda took a deep breath to work up the nerve, then said, “Let’s get married.”
“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?” Damon grinned. “You don’t want me down on one knee, after sneaking a diamond ring into your glass of champaign?”
“Don’t you think that we’re a little old for that sort of stuff?” Miranda shook her head with a smile. “We can stop by the courthouse on the way home and get it done today.”
“Sure. No point in waiting any longer than we already have.” He reached over to touch her leg, his fingers absentmindedly stroking the fabric of her pants as he sank into his thoughts. After a minute, he said quietly, “I half expected you to lose interest as soon as I was out.”
Miranda giggled slightly. “I half expected to discover that everything was a lie. We’re a couple of pessimists, aren’t we.”
“Guess so.” Damon chuckled as well. “We’ll suit each other well enough.”
They paused as Miranda popped her car into gear and began driving, then she ventured to ask, “Are you going to reach out to Alicia?”
Damon frowned. “No.”
“Why not?” Miranda asked, surprised.
He looked away. “I … don’t want her to be ashamed to have me as her father. Right now, all I have is my former life and the time I spent in prison, which isn’t anything to brag about.”
Miranda opened her mouth, then thought better of what she had been about to say. Instead, she mused, “I guess a little bit more time won’t hurt,” then glanced over at Damon as she bit her lip. She wanted to argue with him, and tell him that he was being pointlessly insecure about his daughter, but she had grown enough sense to know that she shouldn’t push him during his first hour of freedom. There would be plenty of time for that later. She asked sweetly, “Do you have a recent photo of her?”
“Yeah.” Damon shifted to pull out his wallet, and produced a picture of a 10-year-old girl grinning widely at the camera. “The warden gave it to me this morning.”
“She seems really happy,” Miranda murmured, doing her best to divide her attention between driving and studying the picture. “Spitting image of you, too.”
“Ha. Maybe a little.” Damon smiled warmly at the photo. “Lets get that ranch you wanted up and running first, then we’ll see how it goes.”
“Do you think I can actually do it?” Miranda felt her nerves bubble up as she thought about the plans that she had worked out with Damon over the last few years. “I’m terrified that there’s nothing left of me outside of being a lawyer.”
“I don’t see why not.”
“For starters, there’s not going to be someone announcing whether I won or lost. How am I supposed to know how well everything is going without that?”
Damon patted Miranda’s shoulder, then smiled devilishly. “You’ll just have to go off of how pleased I am with you.”
She felt her cheeks turn warm. “It looks like there’s one part of you that hasn’t changed at all.”
“Don’t think it ever will.”
Miranda smiled as she reached over to take Damon’s hand and give him a squeeze. “It’s a good thing I’m not a pushover; you’re going to have your work cut out for you.” She laughed. “All right, we’re here. Let’s get married before either one of us has second thoughts.”
After a short ceremony and several signatures, they were back out on the road, silent as they drove towards the outskirts of town, each deep in their own thoughts.