He tilts his head back far enough to wash the soap from his hair, but not too far that he can’t see all of me. His eyes roam over me while he rinses his hair with a satisfied smile.
“You know what I love?” he asks.
I keep my arms and hands in front of me, covering myself, and I shrug.
“I love it when you wash my hair,” he says. “I don’t know why. It just feels better when you do it.”
I smile. “Do you want me to wash your hair?”
He shakes his head and turns around to rinse the soap off his face. “I already washed it,” he says, matter-of-factly.
I can’t help but stare at the back of him now. Flawless.
I tense up even more, knowing just how not flawless I am. And I don’t feel this way because I have a case of low self-esteem, and I’m not pretending to be self-conscious just so he’ll compliment me. It’s just that I’m a girl who has had a baby, and bodies don’t look the same after having babies. My stomach is covered in faint white lines and the scar from my cesarean is front and center, right above what should be one of the most attractive areas to a man.
I won’t even talk about what pregnancy does to breasts. I close my eyes just thinking about it.
“It’s kind of like when someone makes you a sandwich,” Owen says.
My eyes flick open. He can see the confusion on my face, and he laughs.
“When you wash my hair.” He says it like it’s an explanation. “Sandwiches are the same way. I could use the same ingredients and make my sandwich the exact same way as someone else, but for some reason it just tastes so much better when I’m not the one who makes it. Just like when you wash my hair. It feels better when you do it. It also styles better.”
Here I am, almost shaking I’m so nervous, and he’s casually discussing sandwiches and shampoos.
He takes a step forward and places his hands on my elbows, turning me until I’m under the water. “I want to wash yours,” he says, grabbing the travel-sized bottle of shampoo that’s now half-empty.
He tilts my head back and runs his hands through my hair as the water saturates it. I’m not like him—I can’t keep my eyes open while his hands are in my hair, so I let them fall shut. He lathers my hair, and I’m not sure what feels better, his fingers massaging my scalp or the part of him that’s pressing against my stomach.
“Relax,” he says as he begins to rinse my hair.
I don’t relax. I don’t know how.
As if he knows this, he moves closer. His closeness actually puts me more at ease. It’s when he’s several feet away and I’m under the scrutiny of his gaze that I’m the most nervous.
He begins to work the conditioner into my hair this time, and he’s absolutely right. I’ve had my hair washed by other people before, a result of being in cosmetology school. And it does feel good, sort of like a massage. But this is more. His hands are so much more.
His lips press softly against mine and he kisses me. His hands move from my hair to my arms, and he pulls them away from my body, wrapping them around his waist until we’re flush together. I finally open my eyes and look up into his as he begins to rinse the conditioner out of my hair.
“Feels good, doesn’t it?” he says with a slightly wicked grin.
I smile. “I don’t ever want to wash my own hair again.”
He kisses my forehead. “Just wait until you taste my sandwiches.”
I laugh, and the tenderness that enters his eyes at the sound of my laughter makes me realize that this is what I want. Selflessness. It should be the basis of every relationship. If a person truly cares about you, they’ll get more pleasure from the way they make you feel, rather than the way you make them feel.
“I want you to know something,” he says, kissing his way down my neck. “And I’m not saying this just to make you feel better.” One of his hands slides up my waist until it meets my breast, and he holds it there. “I’m saying this because I want you to believe it.” He pulls away from my neck to look at me directly. “You are so, so beautiful, Auburn. Everywhere. Every part of you. On the outside, on the inside, when you’re beneath me, on top of me, painted on a canvas.” His eyes are boring into mine and I close them, because there is way too much truth in his. “So beautiful,” he whispers.
He begins to kiss his way down my throat until the warmth of his breath teases my breast. He takes me in his mouth, and I moan softly. I bring my hands to the back of his head and keep my eyes closed, hoping we end up in a bed before I collapse from dizziness.
His hands slide down my waist, down my thighs, until his mouth begins to follow their direction. When his tongue meets my navel, I gasp. Partly because of the sensation, and partly because I want him to stop heading in the direction he’s headed. I don’t want him near the parts of me I’m most self-conscious about.
He repositions himself until he’s on his knees in front of me. He’s no longer kissing me, and his hands are wrapped around the backs of my thighs. I can feel his breath against my stomach, and the fact that he’s not doing anything makes me curious enough to open my eyes and look down at him.
He looks up at me. He smiles gently and brings a hand in front of him, trailing his fingers over the scar that marks my abdomen. “This,” he says, looking at it. “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on a woman.”
The tears sting at my eyes and I refuse to cry at a time like this, but I think I just officially fell for this man.
His lips meet my stomach, and he presses a gentle kiss against my scar. He begins to work his way back up my body until he’s standing straight, looking down at me again. “How many days have we actually seen each other since we met?” he asks.
I want to laugh at his randomness, because I think it’s my favorite part of him. I shrug. “I don’t know. Four? Five?”
He slowly shakes his head. “If you count today, it’s seven,” he says, sliding a hand through my hair. “So tell me, Auburn. How is it possible that I’m already falling in love with you?”
He catches my gasp with his mouth, and he picks me up, carrying me out of the shower and straight to the bed.
And this time, I don’t get lost in his touch. I don’t get lost in his kiss. I don’t get lost in how it feels when he pushes himself inside me.