Delilah sensed a change in Jacob’s mood. She glanced at him and noticed his fingers clenching the steering wheel. He leaned closer to the windshield as though he were searching for something, and his breath quickened, causing his chest rise to and fall in double time.
His voice revealed his anxiety several seconds later. “Um… it’s getting late, Delilah. I didn’t realize you two lived this far away from Panama City.” He inhaled and tightened his grip on the wheel. “I’ll drop you off, but I’m not coming in. I’ve decided to head on back to my apartment.”
Damn, he’s having a panic attack. Delilah closed her eyes to visualize the protocol that Abigail had pounded into her memory. Breathe, touch, massage, talk. She took a deep breath to increase the level of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” in her body. Her touch would stimulate oxytocin production in his body as well, so she reached out and rubbed his forearm in a motion that maximized contact between her palm and his skin.
“Hey, are you okay?” she murmured. As she caressed his arm, she sensed the elevated level of cortisol in his bloodstream.
“Yeah,” he answered. “It’s just so freakin’ dark out here. I can barely see anything. And Abigail’s truck has disappeared.” He studied Delilah for a moment before turning his attention back to the road. “I should turn around. Take us to my apartment instead.”
“No need to do that,” she protested. “We’re fine. I’ll show you the way.” Delilah continued to massage his arm, which initiated a chemical transfer between them. Her fingers absorbed the excess cortisol in his blood as they released oxytocin from her body into his arm. After several minutes, Jacob relaxed his grip on the wheel, and his breathing slowed.
Maintaining contact and talking, she knew, were key. “Abby drives too fast, in my opinion. But I still let her do most of the driving whenever we venture out. She’s the oldest; I suppose she thinks it’s her birthright. So, I usually let her do her thing.” Delilah shrugged. “It’s more peaceful that way.”
Delilah moved her hand from his arm to his knee. She assessed Jacob’s vital signs with her fingertips and noted his pulse and breathing had slowed and his cortisol levels were lower.
Once again Delilah placed her hand on his arm to manage his uneasiness. “The turn is coming up,” she said. “We’re almost there, and Abby’s waiting for us. More than likely she’ll have strawberry daiquiris made. We grow strawberries on our farm, but they’re out of season now. We mainly use them to make jam, but Abby and I always stash several pints in the freezer.” Delilah paused and chuckled. “Pa doesn’t know about the daiquiris. We’d be in trouble if he did.”
“What will he think we’re drinking?” Jacob asked.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. He isn’t home.”
Jacob peered at Delilah. “He isn’t? Then… who is?”
“Abby and me.”
“Your father’s okay with you two bringing a guy home when he’s not there?”
“He won’t care about that. It’s fine. Trust me.” She smiled and continued to stroke Jacob’s arm as they followed the road. After two minutes passed, Delilah told him to slow down because the turnoff was close.
“It’s hard to find if you’re not familiar with it,” she said. “But our mailbox is a landmark. There… see it? Just ahead on the right.”
Jacob spied the mailbox mounted on a wooden post at the side of the road. Even when lit by the Camry’s headlights, the black metal box was barely visible. As Jacob approached, he lifted his foot off the accelerator pedal.
“Where’s the turn?” he asked as he scanned the road in front of him.
“It’s the gravel driveway after the mailbox. You’ll see it.”
As Jacob navigated the Camry along the narrow lane, Delilah exhaled at the familiar crunch of stones underneath the wheels of the car. The hardest part of the task was luring him to the house. Now that she had completed the first step, Delilah expected the next phase to be easier. Still, Jacob needed to be comfortable. She didn’t want him to become upset. If he tried to escape and suffered an injury, or worse, then she and Abby would have to start again. And Pa… well, he’d be angry. She shuddered at the thought of Pa’s consequences, which were usually unpleasant.
She continued to caress Jacob’s arm, increasing the pressure from her fingertips to heighten the infusion of oxytocin into his body from hers. As she rubbed his skin, she sensed his body relax even more.
The driveway, which stretched ahead of them for half a mile, was as inky as the road. Pine and magnolia trees crowded out any light from the sky or the farmhouse.
“You sure there’s a house on this road?” Jacob asked, his voice hesitant as the Camry’s tires continued to churn the rocks and stones.
“Of course, I’m sure.” Breathe, touch, massage, talk. Delilah took a breath and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek while she stroked his arm. “You can see the porch light through those trees,” she said, pointing to a grouping of pines on the right. “We’re really not that far from everything, but I know it feels like we’re miles away from civilization, especially at night.” She moved closer to him and nuzzled his neck, brushing his skin with her lips. “Have you ever noticed that when you drive somewhere unfamiliar, you always think it takes longer to get there than it really does. And when you go back home, the drive feels much quicker?” Her lips grazed his ear as she whispered the words.
“I never thought about it.” He briefly closed his eyes and moaned as his body drifted toward her.
“Well, it’s true. And look, we’re here.”
The driveway ended at the front of a dilapidated one-story house. Jacob stopped the Camry and stared at the ramshackle dwelling. Except for the dull, yellowish glow from a fixture over the entrance, everything was dark. The single bulb lit a tiny portion of the weathered wooden portico that stretched along the width of the house. Moths fluttering around the light cast exaggerated shapes on the front door’s peeling paint, while shadows cloaked the rest of the porch.
Jacob frowned as he swung around to face Delilah. “This is where you live?”
“All my life. Why?”
“Seems like the house is… uh, I don’t know. Abandoned. And…” he paused, “where’s Abigail’s truck? It’s not here.”
Delilah grasped his hand and gently pulled him closer to her. “Don’t worry,” she purred as she skimmed his lips with hers. “Abby parks around back. I promise she’s inside waiting for us.” Before Jacob could reply, Delilah reached up, put her arms around his neck, and drew him into a deep kiss. She felt him sigh and relax against her. She snuggled in closer, maximizing contact between her body and his. As their lips touched, his racing heartbeat resounded against her chest.
“You don’t really want to leave me alone tonight, do you?”
“No… I don’t,” he mumbled as he hugged her tighter and explored her mouth with his. “You’ve thoroughly bewitched me, Delilah, and I’m totally yours.”
“Good,” she responded as she nibbled on his lower lip. “Let’s go inside.”
To be continued.
Check out “Hunting Season.” What do twin sisters Delilah and Abigail have in mind for their invited guest Jacob?Tweet
Written by Allorianna Matsourani