Damon returned to his motel room after spending all day at the construction site, and quickly pulled off his sweaty t-shirt in disgust. From there he retreated to the bathroom, where he finished undressing and stood under the shower, letting the hot water soak in and warm his sore muscles.
What the hell was he doing?
He hated his job, his boss, and all his coworkers. There were moments when he threw himself into the physical labor to keep himself from punching someone, and he did his best to bite his tongue otherwise. It would not benefit him to lose control.
He should get on his motorcycle and leave; find a new town and a new girl, and never look back. That had always been his way of living, and it would be the smart thing for him to do. This particular area was far too precarious for him to be lurking around in anyway.
He knew he was too much of a bad person to be indulging the secret sentiments of his heart. Even Alice hadn’t believed him when he had told her that he wanted to see his kid, even though he had somehow expected that she would. Despite that, he felt inexplicably drawn to the child.
What was wrong with him?
Damon knew plenty of guys who had fathered then abandoned children without giving a single thought to them. Everyone expected him to be like that. He could see in Alice’s eyes that she hoped he would one day do her the favor of disappearing, yet it continually pressed on his mind that he wanted to see that baby again. He wanted to know that she was growing up right, to know that a piece of him could be redeemed.
He had been sober for too long, and he was becoming more and more pathetic with each day that passed. What he really needed was a bender.
After he finished showering and dressing, he pulled out his phone to text Miranda and tell her to meet him at the motel. She had wanted to get drinks, and he had every intention of going through the motions of showing her a good time. He got the sense that she was primed, so he needed to make sure that everything was set up and that the night played out perfectly. Miranda was his insurance.
It wasn’t long until she knocked on his door, and he joined her outside. In a glance he surmised that she had dressed to go riding on his motorcycle, wearing a black wool peacoat, jeans, and boots, though her hair was still pinned up. He gave her an appreciative smile.
“Where did you have in mind?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “Somewhere fun.”
“I know a good bar, then.” He grabbed Miranda’s arm to pull her over to his motorcycle, and urged her to sit behind him.
He drove straight there, then placed his hand on the small of Miranda’s back as he escorted her inside. “There’s a dance floor over there,” he said as he pointed. “Some pool tables, too, and a stage. If we’re lucky, they might even serve us snacks.”
She laughed slightly. “Might be a good idea to get some food to go with our drinks. I haven’t had a proper meal all day.”
Damon pulled out a chair for her to sit down at a table. “Do you like mozzarella sticks?”
Miranda wrinkled the bridge of her nose. “I haven’t had them since I was in college. I usually go for more refined menus.”
“But tonight, we’re lettin’ loose, right?”
Damon placed their order, including a margarita for Miranda. It tickled her that he had remembered, and she sipped it as they waited for the food.
“Is something up?” Damon asked after a minute, watching her with an intense gaze.
“Hm? No,” she replied simply, staring down at her drink.
“There’s gotta be a reason why you wanted to immerse yourself in booze and company tonight.” He brushed her hand with his fingertips. “I might understand.”
She gave him a critical look, then let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t want to talk about it right now. I want to forget all about it.”
“I can help with that, too.” He thought for a moment. “Have you ever played a drinking game?” Miranda shook her head, so he pulled out his phone. “I, uh, found this app the other day where you have to guess the phrase based off of the pictures. I thought it looked fun, but I’m supposed to be a tough guy, you know? I couldn’t ask anyone else to play it with me. How about, the loser has to take a drink.”
“Sure, let’s do it.” Miranda grinned. “I have to warn you though, I’m smart.”
Damon laughed. “Go easy on me, please. I don’t know if I’d stand a chance against you otherwise.”
They played for awhile, eating mozzarella sticks in between drinks and ordering more when their glasses emptied. She won more often than not at first, but the longer they played, the more she found herself laughing too much to be quick on the uptake. Occasionally Damon would say something ridiculously wrong with a mischievous look in his eyes, but every so often he would surprise Miranda with a clever answer.
Near the end of her second margarita, a picture popped up that made her heart pound as soon as she interpreted it, and she felt frozen as she waited to hear the dreaded phrase. Sure enough, Damon exclaimed, “Baby on board! I win! Now you gotta take a drink.”
She didn’t move, instead saying quietly, “Basil never once called me a baby killer. Sometimes I wish he would, so I could hate him for it.”
Damon picked up his phone, turned off the screen, and returned it to his pocket. “I’m here,” he murmured, reaching to hold her hand.
“No one ever talks about what it’s like, afterwards. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself, ‘What have you done?’” Miranda was too intoxicated to hold back the tears that came spilling out, but in a way it felt good to finally let them out. “I looked up what my due date would have been, and every year I think about the birthday that I would have been celebrating if I hadn’t … And sometimes, when I have to work with someone who’s obviously guilty, I think to myself, ‘This is who I killed my baby for.’” She barely finished her sentence before she broke down crying too hard to continue.
Damon stood and pulled Miranda out of the bar with him, making sure to grab her coat from the back of her chair and wrap it around her shoulders before they went. He took her around the side of the building where they could be hidden from the other patrons coming and going. “Go ahead and breathe,” he said quietly. “The air is better out here.”
“God, I’m such a mess.” Miranda forced a smile. “I’m sorry I unloaded all of that on you.”
“I’m not.” Damon pulled her closer. “You can unload anything you need to on me, and I’ll listen.” Their eyes met as he wiped the tears from her face, and on impulse Miranda moved to press her lips against his.
Damon turned her to gently push her against the brick wall, his eyes intense as his hands roamed all over her body and he hungrily deepened the kiss with his tongue. Through his jeans, she could feel his growing desire for her, and it ignited her own fire inside.
“Take me back to your room,” she breathed.
Miranda hugged him tightly as they drove his motorcycle back to the motel, praying that the cold night wouldn’t sober her up enough to decide that what she was doing was a bad idea. But she had already confessed her deepest secret to Damon, one that she barely even acknowledged to herself, and that made her crave even more intimacy with him.
Once inside, Miranda began to grope at the waistband of Damon’s pants, but he stopped her. “I want you to strip for me,” he said as he reached to the back of her hair and began pulling out bobby pins to release her bun, then ran his fingers through her hair to loosen it. His touch felt amazingly good, so Miranda curbed her embarrassment.
“Looking for a show, huh?” she teased as he sat down in a chair, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Keep your glasses on,” Damon said with a grin. “I think you are extremely sexy in them.”
Miranda laughed as she took off her coat and dropped it to the floor, kicked off her shoes, then slowly began unbuttoning her blouse. “You’re in for a treat, because I can be all kinds of sexy.” After her shirt was open all the way, she slid off her pants, purring as she did, “Go ahead and get undressed, and wait for me on the bed.”
“As you wish, my angel,” Damon replied. “I am yours to command.”
Miranda helped him pull off his jacket and t-shirt, then pulled her blouse all the way off and tossed it away. Next she pulled Damon over to the bed and pushed him down onto it, before stepping back to turn away from him with a teasing look as she unfastened her bra and took it off. “Are you ready?” she asked.
“Mm, yeah,” Damon replied, and she turned to face him, climbing on top of him and pushing him down.
He kept himself in check and acted far more submissively than what normally suited him, but it was necessary to play into Miranda’s fantasy of being in control. She was too caught up in herself to read any of his cues, and he wondered in the back of his mind if Alice’s talent for timing had ruined his chances of ever enjoying sex again. Nevertheless, he made the necessary noises and motions when appropriate, until eventually she collapsed against him and they were done.
Damon grimaced as he extricated himself from a sleeping Miranda, and retreated to the bathroom to turn on the shower. Alone, his mind once again turned towards his daughter, and he secretly chuckled to himself at the thought that Alice had named her Alicia – that was perfectly in line with the sort of person she was. He had never considered Alice beautiful until that moment he had seen her clutching their infant protectively against her chest, and he realized that she had finally blossomed into herself.
He badly wanted to see his baby again.
Alicia was the first thing he had ever cared about.