When Delilah closed her eyes at night, she was getting inundated with information. Thoughts, fears, emotions, images – stuff was just cluttering her brain waves, everything getting past her normally stringent filter now that her senses were being overloaded; evidently security had become lax now that she couldn’t tell for herself what was important and what wasn’t.
Everyone that she had met in the last two weeks were running though her mind, literally. They kept looping past like a CD in her car, over and over and over again. She needed something to change it with but she didn’t have anything else to fall back on. The worst part was that they weren’t alone – those things she saw (if you could even call it that) in the future were always there in the background. Jam with a kite running in a field. Jensen on a stroll with two knitting needles hanging out of his back pocket. Amelia sitting on top of a treasure map with angst-ridden cupcakes and a childish smiling sun above her. If Madge hadn’t described this to her in perfect detail (she had to use a book since she had none of these problems – as part gypsy she could tell the future with much more clarity and accuracy) she would have brought back her hallucination assumption.
Because all she seemed to think of anymore was yellow string and buzzing bees, she was having a hard time sleeping. In fact she was trying to see how long she could lay in bed each night before sleep came out of hiding to capture her. She was starting to look drained again, like her sickness had just gone into hiding and it was trying to stage a siege of her body once again, and Amelia was jumping on her to take better care of herself at every turn.
“Have you called Dr. Gorgeous yet?” she demanded with that glint in her eye one day as she stared at Delilah’s back from her overstuffed sofa.
“I’m working here Am,” she replied, her fingers skating quickly over the keyboard, glasses perched on the end of her nose.
“Does that mean you’ve lost the ability to talk?”
“And if I answer yes?’
“Then I might be forced to unplug your computer from the wall,” she replied sweetly.
“Fine,” she conceded, swiveling around in her chair to face the living room, “you have ten minutes. Chat away.”
“I asked,” she stressed loudly, moving positions so that she was hanging over the arm of the sofa, “if you had talked to Dr. Too Gorgeous For His Own Good.”
“No, I have not.”
“Good,” Amelia said.
“Good?” Delilah asked in surprise. “Where’s the lecture and the pressure and the thousand and one questions why I haven’t called him? Good is all you got?”
“Good because then what I did doesn’t make you look stupid.”
“Why?” she asked, suddenly filled with trepidation. “Am, what did you do?”
A devilish look descended over her face, that mischievous sparkle twinkling in the corner of her eyes and her lip curled just enough to be more that mocking. Amelia didn’t answer but got up off of the couch and grabbed her purse from the coffee table, her smile growing as she saw Delilah’s unchanged face.
“Am!” she yelled, hopping from her desk chair and racing across the room to catch her before she could make her way into the hallway. “Am, what did you do?”
“I was just trying to be your guardian angel, baby. You know you need some looking after,” she murmured in a mothering tone though her eyes still betrayed the attempt at sincerity. Amelia looked her up and down and clucked her tongue as she set her sunglasses on her face. “I’d get dressed if I were you. You know, just in case.”
Delilah tried to go back to work after Amelia left. She had been trying to come up with a great story to write to prove to Bianca that she could be ready to slide right in as a reporter when the time called for it. But nothing exciting was going on that she could find. Samson’s Department Store had revitalized downtown but that was old news, that business was booming in the district that few and far between had been visiting in the last few decades.
She wasn’t skilled at eking out corruption, she was skilled at eking out problems with web servers and security protocols, so she wasn’t sure in which way to turn. Trying to seek out danger had only led her to fiery Mexican food so she wasn’t sure where to go next. She supposedly had great instincts, should have been able to follow any little hunch into a full-fledged expose, but she wasn’t ready to trust herself. And that was her main problem with everything in her different lives at the moment; whether magical, personal, or professional, all of them seemed to be suffering from a lack of courage.
Delilah liked to say that if there was just a manual for this she would be much better off but that wasn’t entirely true; she’d probably spend the first few months second-guessing everything that the manual said and critiquing herself as inadequate at every turn. Delilah wanted, craved, needed to be flawless. She measured herself against the unattainable ideal and berated herself when she was human like everyone else and couldn’t reach it. The instinct had been tamped down on the past few years but at the emotional upheaval in her life at the moment it sprung back to life. Because she wasn’t all human, she wasn’t normal, and the impossible wasn’t out of reach. She could see the future, she could smell danger – surely she should be able to do the mundane?
Amelia’s actions, whatever the hell they were, just preoccupied her further. She couldn’t concentrate on coming up with a brilliant idea because wild speculation about her best friend and the hunky doctor kept finding their way into her mind. Every time the phone rang she jumped in anticipation and trepidation. She checked her email every few hours. When the two cute little blond girls from across the hall stopped by to ask if she wanted to buy any cookies, she almost hit the roof. Amelia had made her obsessive and what was worse, her friend knew it.
The day swept by at a snail’s pace. Delilah watched the clock tick by until it hit a respectable hour (respectably early but respectable all the same) for bed. It had been so long since she’d actually welcomed the feel of her pillows and the comforter but it was a nice change from clockwatching. Just as she popped up off of the couch and was getting ready to bound into her bedroom, the doorbell rang. She checked the peep hole with trepidation before throwing the door wide open, a scowl firmly on her face.
“You are an evil woman,” she said as Amelia breezed back inside.
“You – go change,” she ordered with a wave of her hand. Delilah looked her up and down with a bad feeling. “Go on, go.”
“The only place I’m going is to bed,” she answered, leaning against the door jamb of her front door and refusing to budge.
“It’s only eight-thirty on a Friday night,” Amelia protested with a laugh, tapping her brightly manicured nails against her hip. She was wearing a bright red sheath dress that went with her caramel skin flawlessly. From the flashiness Delilah could predict her plans did not include letting her best friend get any sleep tonight.
“Well in Delilah time it’s more like two am since you had me on pins and needles all day.”
Amelia just giggled. “That was kind of cruel of me, wasn’t it?” Delilah just looked at her with her dove gray eyes and Amelia laughed again.
“What did you do?” she asked. After a moment, recognition dawned. “You didn’t do anything, did you? You just wanted to freak me out all day, didn’t you?”
“I just wanted to prove that you were interested in the good doctor and as far as I’m concerned, point made. Now we celebrate my victory. Go get dressed.”
Half an hour later they were in a cab making their way across town. Delilah had to change twice before Amelia was satisfied with her outfit, finally settling on a short, peasant bubble gown in bright teal that she had once seen one of the stylishly hip style reporters wearing at a party – she’d gone out and bought the dress the next day but never wore it, completely convinced that she’d never be able to pull it off. Amelia entertained no such notion.
“Where is this party anyway?” Delilah asked, adjusting the sleeves of her dress for the third time in the last five minutes, barely remembering to look out the windows she was self-conscious about the way she looked.
“Oh, did I forget to mention that?” The tone of her voice sent warning bells off in her head. She didn’t have to be an Intuit to know that she had been had.
But those ‘intuitive jumps’ that Madge had been telling her about suddenly reared their ugly head; she just knew, without any more words or smells or feelings necessary. She just knew. “Man Amelia, I can’t believe that you’re taking me to a party at Stephen’s so I’ll run into Jensen. This is so over the line you don’t even know. I can’t believe that you did this to me.”
Amelia just looked at her skeptically as the cab pulled up at the curb and they stepped out onto the sidewalk. Stephen had a townhouse and music was floating down the front steps to meet them. “Oh get over it Delilah. Live a little why don’t you?” she answered, leaving Delilah there on the sidewalk by herself.
Delilah languished there on the sidewalk for a moment, biting her lip indecisively. She was being self-obsessed. She was being difficult. She was being all the things she knew Amelia was thinking about her but wasn’t saying aloud. Oh no, Amelia had gotten her out of the house on a Friday night, possibly to see the gorgeous guy that wanted to date her – her life was over!
Delilah snorted a bit as she focused on shifting her perspective, taking a deep breath and forcing her mind to reach out for something other than herself. She was almost done when her eyes widened and she stopped, gasping a bit in surprise. This was probably an intuit thing, wasn’t it? Delilah was always finding herself getting caught up in the small things, tripped up over the details, and she had taught herself at an early age to get past it by trying to get into the head of someone else. Most people thought that she just turned on the theatrics, played a part, pretending to be someone else but that wasn’t quite true. What she did was reach out towards someone else in the vicinity and force herself to see everything through their eyes to see clearly.
Now, she realized, it must be an intuitive extension of her other gifts. Madge had been telling her that she would find something that she was easily good at, something that just came naturally to her without effort or difficulty. And finally she had found it. A smile broke out across her face and she abandoned the exercise there on the doorstep – the realization did more for her confidence than getting into someone else’s head would have done.
She slipped through the door and was surprised at the amount of people spread out across Stephen’s place. Usually Amelia owned a room and she had expected to see her the minute she entered but she must have slipped farther into the house, some corner where Delilah couldn’t find her if she was indeed as annoyed as she had seemed.
Buoyed by her newfound skills, she decided to try something else that Madge had told her about. She made her way into the kitchen and as she poured herself a glass of wine she closed her eyes and gave herself over to the moment. She focused on the air moving through her mouth, the energy in the apartment buzzing around her, trying to allow the other parts of her to tune into Amelia and ferret out her location.
But it was someone else that she locked on to. Sandalwood and dark chocolate swept over her. Her skin started tingling, as the scent slipped over her forearms, the back of her neck, her uncovered legs. She opened her eyes and spun around to watch him pass three people to slip into the kitchen.