He’d changed from the khaki pants and crisply creased button-down shirt he’d worn before and instead, wore a pair of jeans, the only other clothing he had since his beautiful suit had been ruined. Atop his deep, chocolate, rippling chest with the small dragon tattoo, he wore what I called a white vest, but which he referred to by the horrid name of a wife beater. Ça alors! Quelle romance.
“Come with me,” he said, taking my hand. As soon as I passed through the doorway, he stopped, bent, and removed my shoes. “Sorry, I didn’t have time to find rose petals for you to walk on.”
I took a step but he swept me from my feet and into his strong arms. I laughed. “Why did you take off my shoes if you weren’t going to let me walk?”
“I like your feet,” he said, giving me a sly smile.
We went up the steps, past the small bedroom in which I always slept, and past the larger one that I had assigned to him in order to avoid questions from curious sisters and children. Similarly, my emotions were on a path as well, traveling past excitement, then past disappointment, and now only at curiosity. Before I could ask him where we were going, he turned into the guest bathroom. Jette’s home is a real French farmhouse, exactly as Grand-père built it. The bath was little more than a wood-paneled room, well-lit from natural light, with a small sink, toilet, mirror, a bench for dressing and applying makeup, and in the center, a large, steel, oval tub with overhead shower and a detachable wand for washing by hand. Around the tub, on the bench, and on the counter were candles., Curling rivulets of steam rose to the ceiling, fogging the skylight and further muting the light. It was perfect.
Foss set me down.
“I thought if the cigarette smell is my problem, then I should be the one to fix it.”
“It wasn’t you. I know you don’t like smoking. I shouldn’t have.”
He shook his head. “You are a grown woman, and my job isn’t to tell you what to do.” He came closer and I thought he would kiss me. I closed my eyes, but instead, he reached around and pushed shut the door.
“We’re alone here,” I said. I felt my cheeks pull into a broad smile.
“I know, but it’s going to get chilly in a second.”
I frowned, not understanding what he meant, but before I could even move, he reached to my waist, and with a single motion, pulled my blouse over my head.
“You have beautiful breasts.” He was looking not at my chest, but into my eyes.
“You can’t even see them. I’m wearing a bra.”
“I’ve seen them before.” He nodded ever so slowly. “Trust me, I have them memorized.”
My breathing hastened.
In contrast to the swift removal of my top, he took forever to remove my jeans. First, he unlatched my belt, then unfastened the top button. He bent to me, gave me his tongue and tasted mine. And while they reconnected and fell there, lovingly, slowly, deliberately, he unzipped my pants as if I were a ripe banana to be unpeeled. I pulled back, gasping for air. It had been a long time, too long. I was still panting when I felt cool air against my exposed legs. My knees buckled.
“Are you hurting?” he asked.
“Oh, oui, I am. I have been hurting since the day we met.” I pulled his wife beater and together, our tongues entwined, we beat the hell out of that wife until I was spent, breathless, and gasping for more lips, tongue, love, always. I could see colors dancing before us and between us that would intensify whenever we touched. There was a vague buzzing, like electricity,that I’d never heard before, but I knew instantly that it was our connection finally being closed.
Foster kissed my cheek, my shoulder, slid off the strap, kissed the other, repeated the gesture, kissed my breastbone and reached around, unlatching the bra so that it fell silently to the floor. Precisely as my nipple was freed and hardened against the cool air, he slipped his warm mouth over it, tasting me for the first time and warming my breast and heart. My eyes glued closed but still I could see the purple flare of him. He fell to his knees, somehow still erect there before me like a knight waiting to be crowned. He waited until I met his eyes and then slowly, painfully, teasingly, removed my panties—inch by inch.
I tried to step out but he stopped me. “From now on, all the work is mine, love.” It was the first time he said that word since we met, and it stopped me. After five seconds, I remembered to exhale.
“Do you love me, Foss?”
He stood, meeting my gaze with intense, brown eyes. “Baby, I love you rivers, love you heaven and stars and all the galaxies beyond. I love that the sun waits to rise until you smile and refuses to set until he sees you’re safe. I love the day you were born and when your mama was born and grandma was born and when the first woman was born, all of them proud, knowing one day they’d evolve into you. Honey, I loved you the moment we met and every crazy minute since, and I promise you, when we’re done here on earth and it’s time to rejoin the heavens, I’ll still be loving you.”
It began to rain outside with the droplets’ tapping on the clay roof tiles making a perfect percussive accompaniment to my tears and to my Foss, who lifted me, placed me upright in the tub, and began washing me. He explored my curves, starting at my neck, and then to my shoulders, back, and bottom. He washed my breasts, gentle with them, saying nothing and not meeting my eyes, but focused on the soft cloth and my skin. When I was lathered, my curves sudsy and my secret places clean, he took a steel pot that sat nearby, and instead of using the shower’s wand, he rinsed me by hand, slowly, sensually, tenderly. I remember thinking, even now, that until that moment, that magical night with Foss, I had never been washed before. When I was clean and rinsed, he sat me in the tub. The water was no longer hot, but still warm and soothing. He lifted my right leg, held my ankle, washed my foot. On the left, he repeated the process, but carefully, minding my hip.
“Lean back,” he said, and I did.
He washed my hair, using only my shampoo and his strong hands, and to my dismay, I had my first orgasm there, just then, as he held me with one arm around my chest and the other rinsing shampoo from my hair. I had heard stories of women who could climax with a kiss or a touch, but never from a good shampoo. I was like a silly schoolgirl, wishing for longer locks so that the washing, and my orgasm, would last. When we were done, he sat me on the side of the tub and toweled me dry with one of the enormous red flannels that Jette loved so much. I wrapped it around myself like a cocoon.
“You look great in red,” he said. “You should wear it more often.”
“I will if you wear jeans more often,” I said.
“It’s a deal.” He sighed and sank to the floor.
“Tired?” I asked.
“Uh-uh. Just content, for the first time in … ever.”
“Then, I guess you wouldn’t want to risk spoiling it by making love to me,” I said. I had been waiting for him since the day we met. I will never understand shy American men.
“Oh darling, I plan on spoiling it all night.”
“Good. I haven’t made love in years.”
I laughed and hit him. “Liar!” It was sweet, but seeing how women were drawn to him, I knew it wasn’t possible. Besides, he had a fiancée when we met.
“No, I mean it. Remember, you said, ‘love.’ ”
He kissed me—then, later, all night long.