There were voices rising and falling on the other side of the door. I paced Jacob's room, as I would through all the long hours he kept me locked in there each day. This time though, I paused occasionally to listen to the muffled sounds filtering through.
Random words floated my way: "done", "useless", "the arena" and more ominously, "gone". It was easy to piece together the words to know they were talking about getting rid of someone they weren't happy with. It was when I heard "Harry" that I panicked though. The sound of my own name sent a terrifying jolt through me.
I backed away from the door and scanned the room for a weapon. Jacob wasn't big on knickknacks but the rustic theme of the furniture let me lay my hands on a plank of wood. As a weapon, it was a bit too heavy but I didn't have much choice. I sunk into a corner and waited, making myself as small and insignificant as I could. My near nakedness wearing nothing but his confounded skin-tight shorts made me feel more exposed than ever.
When Jacob entered, he ripped off his vest and threw it to the floor. He was breathing heavy, still worked up from the argument when he spotted me hiding behind the plank I'd picked up.
"Don’t'!" I pleaded in a girlish squeal, sure I was about to die.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" he said, throwing me onto the bed. Jacob sat on the end of the mattress, his back to me. I crouched defensively on all fours and waited but he didn't turn around or attack me.
"It pisses me off people let me down," he fumed, and shook his head, leaving the half-finished thought hanging in the air. I dawned on me that he was talking about someone else. The mention of my name out in the corridor was another matter all together. Even so, as I crawled towards him, I knew I had to calm him down in case he took his anger out on me.
I knelt behind him and wrapped my arms over his shoulders, stroking his chest. I nuzzled his neck and kissed the warm skin, only to have him throw my hands off him.
"Get off!" he snapped. I fell back on my haunches as he leaned forward, elbows on knees, head still shaking at his own thoughts.
I slid my hand up his back and dug my thumbs into his shoulder blades.
"You're tense," I said, hoping he didn't notice the shake in my voice. I felt him react to my fingers so I dug a little harder, massaging the knots in his back. He sat upright and let me knead his shoulders. Jacob sighed and I saw his eyes close in the mirror reflection across the room.
With muscles so firm, I used all the strength I had in my fingers to penetrate through the knots. I broke a sweat from the effort. It was hard work but the deeper I massaged, the more I felt Jacob relax. I wrapped an arm over him again and held him against me while my knuckles pressed into the tightest of knots between his shoulder blades. I was forced to use two hands to match the circumference of his upper arms and loosen the tension there in his biceps.
For a good twenty minutes, he sat still and quiet, only sighing occasionally as I soothed his back, shoulders and arms. When I dug into his neck, he moaned again. My fingers pressed into the softer flesh and suddenly I pictured my hands around his neck, squeezing the life out of him. I focussed back on the massage and found my hands already around his throat. Jacob stiffened and my eyes widened at the realisation that my hands take on a life of their own.
Quickly I loosened the grip and ran my fingers firmly up his throat as if intentionally massaging his Adam's Apple. I pressed my thumbs into the side of his neck and made small circular motions. Jacob relaxed again and I closed my eyes in a silent prayer of relief.
His cheeks were next, then his temples and forehead until I worked my way up to his head, wading through his dark, waving hair with my fingertips. He leaned into me now, resting his head on my chest as the head massage relaxed the rest of his body. His eyes closed and his mouth opened slightly. He was breathing deeply and steadily.
I lowered Jacob gently to the mattress. His eyes flickered open briefly but he lay there and let me guide the moment. I slipped between his legs and ran my palms up his stomach and chest, kneading the front of his shoulders. I was careful not to lay on top of him, but his expansive chest reached up, tickling mine whenever I leaned over him too low.
I reached outwards to massage his arms again and this time I deliberately lay on him as I worked his biceps. My face buried in his chest and I kissed it as I slid my hands onto his pecs, raising myself up and circling my palms with gentle force. He was all man, and my relief at being spared his wrath made me want to please him any way I could. I kissed his stomach and felt the flutter in his abs when my lips touched.
My palms slid down to press into his gut, edging to the top of his hips before I changed direction, working both hands up his ribs. I slid over to his side so I could reach across and grab handfuls of flesh tenderly working my way up his obliques. His arms were splayed out, allowing me to massage all the way to his armpit. I swapped sides and manipulated his other side before sliding between his legs again to simply run my palms up both obliques simultaneously in a final rub down.
I kissed his stomach again, enjoying the flutter it evoked, then lay down beside him, head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around me, drawing me into him and I lay my hand on his chest, watching it rise and fall. He said nothing. Only his breathing caused further movement and I found myself drifting off to sleep, his strong arms keeping me safe from whoever had been behind that door.