The Pleasure of Panic
“I’m ready,” she finally says, breaking the awkward silence.
“Right,” I say. “Let’s go.”
I wave her forward towards the door but she shakes her head and juts her chin out. “You first,” she says.
Which is weird. But then again, this whole fucking night has been weird. “Sure,” I say, walking to the door and opening it up. But when I look over my shoulder, she still hasn’t moved. “Issy? You coming?”
She stares at me again. The seconds tick off. I start to feel uncomfortable, like she’s onto me. She knows I’m not a player in whatever game this is she’s playing. But just when I’m about to open my mouth and try to explain, she steps forward, and I relax.
“Where are we going?” she asks.
“Silver Springs,” I say.
“What? That’s like two hours away!”
Shit. Is it? I have no idea where Silver Springs is. Fuckin’ Declan was supposed to text me the address, so I check my phone, find the missed message, then press the maps app to get directions.
“How will I ever be back in time for masterclass prep tomorrow?”
What does she think is happening tonight? It’s fuckin’ killing me. But I can’t ask so I lie. “What we’re doing in Silver Springs won’t take long, don’t worry. You can sleep on the way there and the way back. I’ll keep you safe.”
“You keep saying that,” Issy says. “But I don’t need your protection, Finn. I need—”
But she stops. She was just about to tell me what she needs and… goddammit. I really hate this game we’re playing. “You need what?” I prompt her, hopeful.
“I need what was promised,” she says.
“Why?” I ask, because asking what was promised feels like the wrong move.
“You don’t need to know why,” she says, walking over to the framed magazine cover to straighten it out on the wall. She turns to me. “You just need to deliver.”
Deliver. O-kaaay. “Shall we?” I ask, standing just outside the door.
“Sure,” she says, and joins me on the front stoop, stopping to lock her door from the outside.
I take her bag—which is pretty light, and that impresses me. I appreciate a light packer—and stick it in the trunk, then open the passenger side door and wave her in.
“Rules say no civilians in the front,” she says.
“I’m gonna bend the rules tonight for you, Issy. I don’t like the idea of you riding in the back.”
“Why are you so suspicious of me all of a sudden? I mean, we just had a good time. What’s up?”
“You’re just acting weird.” But she gets in the front seat. So I close her door, walk around the car, and get in my side.
“It is kinda weird, right?” I start the car, check the directions on my phone, and then pull away from the curb as she thinks about that. “I mean… don’t you think this is weird?”
“Which part?” she says. “What I asked for? Or that I let you fuck me?”
“Let me?” I laugh, again. “Begged me, Issy.”
“Whatever,” she says, waving her hand in the air. “I never beg. I just take what I want.” But I catch a small smile out of the corner of my eye.
“So no, not too weird,” I lie.
“Just a little weird?” she asks, still smiling. “It’s not a strange request. I looked it up.”
“You did?” I ask. Fuck, I’m dying to know what she thinks we’re doing tonight.
“Yes. I found a study online that cited almost eight percent of the female population fantasizes about it.”
I almost stop the car. Like my foot taps the brake, and we both jerk forward before I realize what I’m doing and correct.
“What the fuck was that?” Issy asks.
“I… uh… there was a cat running across the road. I didn’t want to hit it.”
Did she imply what I think she implied? Are we playing a sex game?
“Is this a big place?” she asks in my ensuing silence.
“Nope,” I lie again. Well, is it really a lie if there’s no place? I mean, we are going somewhere, but the safe house in Silver Springs is obviously not what she’s fantasizing about.
“How many people?” she asks. And when I look over at her, she’s biting her lip like she’s nervous.
Fuck. I have nothing for that. “You’ll see,” I say, getting onto the I-70 freeway that will take us up into the mountains.
“Are you curious?” she asks.
“Very.” I laugh.
“About which part?”
“I mean, I know we’re not supposed to talk about this or it’ll ruin the illusion, but I’m sorta nervous and I can’t help it.”
Jesus Christ. Pull yourself together, Finn Murphy! You’re a goddamned FBI agent. You’re a motherfucking force to be reckoned with. This woman has you totally off your game! Step the fuck up and play!
I heed the internal monologue and collect myself. “I’m curious about the whole thing, honestly.”
“Because it’s weird?”
“I thought we already decided it was normal?”
“It is normal. Well, it’s normal to fantasize about it. I’m not sure how many women actually go through with it, so that’s… a little bit unusual. But you know what they say?”
“What do they say?” I’m dying. Fucking dying to know what they say!