So this was how a caged cat felt right before dropped into water.
"I can't do this, Jordan! You can't make me, either!" I shrieked.
"Marli, stop moving so I can get the harness buckled."
Jordan dressed me under constant protest, zipping the flight suit tight to my chin. He forced me into some contraption comprised of a myriad of buckles and snaps, tethering me to his body. His patience wore thin when I whipped around, unexpectedly throwing him to the floor of the plane. His arms immediately locked around my chest.
"Dammit, Marli! Hold still! I swear nothing is going to happen to you unless I murder you inside this plane."
"I'm not jumping. I changed my mind."
Jordan's expression became confused. Hurt? Anger? No…something else. Fear? Of what? According to him, he skydived all the time. A childlike innocence crept into his tone.
"But you promised."
"Yeah, well…I make a lot of promises where you're concerned."
"Are you saying you don't mean to make them, or I pressure you to think you have to?"
"Of course I mean them. I just don't know about this one. I'm scared. Really scared."
His voice faltered, tone flat. "Fine, don't jump. I told you I'd never force you into anything. I stand by my word."
Damn. An argument brewed, one I didn't want to have. It was his birthday and I did promise, although at the time, I used it to get him to agree to ride home with me in my pink car. He kept his side of the bargain. Now I had to keep mine. I reached for his dangling hand.
"I'll jump," I conceded inside a whine, secretly hoping he wouldn't make me. He hugged me hard and kissed my hair with a loud smack. Damn, damn, damn.
Mike slid the doors open and the deafening sound of air rushing the sides of the plane sucked the last of my oxygen. Panic gave way to fear. Below, far away, lay a patchwork of various colors of green, brown, and gray. I wanted to avoid the grays. Concrete. A ribbon of blue curled between—water. Water would be good, or green, preferably light green—grass.
Jordan brushed my hair to one side and placed a tender kiss on the back of my neck. "Marli, trust me, please. I would never purposely hurt you."
Tremors took possession of my body and if not fused to Jordan's body, I would have crumpled to the floor of the plane.
Jesse yelled to us from the cockpit. "You guys ready? We're coming up on the target field."
They chartered a plane specifically used for skydiving. The open cockpit allowed me to not only hear, but see Jesse laugh hysterically at the physical struggle between Jordan and me. His wide smile, however, didn't cover up the anxious look in his eyes. Our strange conversation in the middle of the night not only plagued my dreams with thoughts of Jesse, but apparently still lingered in his head as well.
Jordan's voice in my ear evaporated Jesse from my mind and resurrected the terror zigzagging inside me.
"Babe, pay attention to what I'm saying when we're out there. Lean your head against my chest. We'll drop backward so you see the sky above instead of the ground. That way you'll get used to the feeling of falling."
Falling? How could anyone get used to the feeling of falling?
Mike came toward us with the helmets. "I can't!" I cried. "Jordan I'll let you buy me any car you want, if you won't make me jump." All my begging wouldn't work. I'd tumble to earth with Jordan strapped to me. I prayed for the angels to take me before I felt the impact.
"Marli!" Jordan hollered in frustration, locking the helmet under my chin. "Honey, you'll be fine and I'll be holding you in my arms all the way. Now, please relax." He moved onto a small platform, my feet teetering on the ridge of the door frame. "Ready, set..."
Jordan stepped back pulling me out of the plane and into the sky. My screams echoed to the planet Jupiter, my face froze in horrified angles with my stolen breath. I clenched my teeth so tight I waited for them to crumble so I could choke on them and die before I smacked the ground.
The plane moved away and a cornflower blue color extended upwards as far as I could see. Jordan's arms remained tightly wound around my waist. "Marli—breathe," he called over my shoulder, his tone level and soothing. I managed to suck a couple deep pockets of air before my next lesson. "Arch your back, babe."
I obeyed not realizing the effect of this simple movement. Without warning, we rolled forward and I spied the earth below. My screams returned. The skin surrounding my mouth billowed, exposing my tonsils. I didn't realize I cried until Jordan started laughing.
"I need windshield wipers for my goggles!" He gave me a reassuring squeeze. "Sweetheart, relax."
"Jordan, open the chute!" I shrilled.
"Not yet." His fingers wound into my hands and he pulled my arms out to the side, slowly shifting our weight from side to side, dipping our bodies in an airborne dance.
"Jordan, I'll promise you anything—do anything, just pull the chord and open the chute!"
"Anything Marli? Are you telling me there isn't anything more frightening than this?" He mocked me now and the ground appeared to rise faster.
"Nothing is scarier than this. Please? If you love me, open the stupid parachute!"
"What guarantee do I have you won't promise me something again, only to take it back when we land safely?"
"I won't. Cross my heart. Please open the damn chute before I kill you Jordan Mason!"
"There's that feisty temper. Good thing I'm the one in control, here." To prove his point, he swung our bodies into a spin and my screams intensified.
"You're loving this, aren't you?"
"Holding your body hostage? You bet."
I decided to try a different approach. "Jordan?" I asked sweetly."Baby, please open the parachute and when we are safely back on earth, your wish is my command." I swore I could count blades of grass and closed my eyes.
Suddenly, we jerked upward. Silence enveloped us unlike any quiet I'd ever experienced.
Am I dead—spared the pain when my body slammed the ground?
Something ruffled in the wind and I glanced upward. Overhead, a bright yellow safety net floated us toward earth.
A bracketed smile widened on Jordan's face. "Remember, Miss Davis, once our toes touch solid ground, my wish is your command. Understood? "