“How do you feel…” he asked, tapping her temple, “in here?”
“Aware,” she said and paused. He seemed to be waiting for her to continue speaking. She swallowed. “Aware of my nudity. Aware of each nerve ending. The cold on my skin. The empty space between my legs. The ache in my arms, legs, and hands.”
He traipsed a finger from the top of her spine to the top of her tailbone. “What do you feel when I touch you?”
She blew out a breath and closed her eyes. “I feel alive. I feel fire.”
She believed this man could bring to fruition and then satiate the things she didn’t even know she desired.
“Come here, Audrey.”
She stepped inside the modest bathroom. It was warm and still a little steamy, and it smelled like the shower and whatever Gavin used for shampoo.
“Closer, baby girl. I want you to shave me.”
“What?” She shook her head and felt her cheeks heat. “I can’t. I might cut you.”
He pressed his palms against the countertop, dropped his chin, and stared at the sink full of water. “You’ve already sheared me.” He looked up, peered into her eyes, and placed the razor in her hand. “I trust you … and I will guide you. It’s not difficult.”
Her eyes closed, then opened. Everything with him sometimes felt like slo-mo. His arms were so close, threatening to tear his shirt to shreds with a sudden movement. His leather and cedar permeated her nose. Her flesh broke out in goose pimples as her nipples turned to stone.
“Concentrate. You’ll shave me, and I’ll tell you a story. Start with the sides. Top to bottom. Go ahead.”
“Gavin,” she whispered with a smile.
Taking her hand, he placed it where he wanted her to begin. “Care for me as you do yourself.”
Their eyes met and locked for several heartbeats, seconds in which she couldn’t breathe properly. Caring for herself had become something she did last, not foremost. He could surely see things in her gaze: hesitation and insecurities. He’d seen them the day he’d fed her the potato soup.
“Top to bottom.” He dragged her palm with his toward his ear. “Good girl.”
Her hand seemed to trip on the compliment, and he caught it and smiled. “I trust you, Audrey. Now listen to me.”