She'd have to get used to this emotional turmoil.
Sheila lost track of time, day-dreaming; waking up only when she heard him downstairs calling her name.
He’d come back already? She panicked. Damnation! She must have dozed off in the warm water.
He would have expected her to have had her bath some time earlier; to be dressed, and to be either downstairs or sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for him.
When she tried to stand up and get herself out of the bath, she found that she couldn’t. Her hands slipped on the sides of the bath, and her foot slid along the bottom of the bath with no traction.
She tried again, with similar lack of success.
The dimpled suction-mat that made the bottom of the bath less slippery when anyone was showering was rolled up by the toilet and she didn't have the strength to push herself up with her hands on the side of the bath to stand. She tried again, and then gave up.
Damn! There was no easy way to do this.
She thought for a moment, agonizing over the pros and the cons, finding such an imbalance, but she had no choice.
She called out to him.
“Peter, would you come upstairs please. I need your help.” She sounded concerned and fearful, even to herself.
She heard him mount the stairs two at a time.
“Where are you?” He also sounded concerned. She might have fallen.
“I’m still in the bath… and I can’t get out. My arms, with my shoulder the way it is, are not strong enough to grip the edge and to hold my weight and lift me, and my hands and feet both slip when I try to do anything about it.”
Her fear of being seen naked was a battle that she was still fighting, but had already lost.
He walked in on her, seeing her lying out in the water, mostly hidden beneath the surface.
She explained further. “I'm sorry, Peter, but I cannot get myself out of the bath.” She sounded apologetic for her helplessness. “I'm not doing this deliberately. I want you to know that. I really do need your help.”
He dropped to his knees by the bath, seeing her covering her breasts with one arm and hand, with the other extending down to cover that other private place, out of sight under the soapy water.
He looked steadily into her face, into her eyes, seeing how embarrassed she was by him being here; the last place she really wanted him to be.
“If you pass me that bath mat, I shall put it where it belongs in the bottom of the bath and I may be able to get myself out.”
He looked to where she nodded.
He raised an eyebrow and smiled. “It won’t work. That mat needs the suction cups to touch a dry, clean and smooth surface. With too much water, soapy water at that, beneath them, they will never grip, but will just slip.”
“Oh!” That made sense. He seemed to know all about it.
“I know that this is not deliberate, Sheila. I would never have thought that, after seeing your shyness on the Fell when I first helped you.” He sighed as he rested his chin on the edge of the bath and looked at her. “I think I upset your world very strongly up there.” He had indeed.
“But you also upset mine in a way I am still learning about.”
It would be a life-long learning process if he had his way.
“However, I can, and will help you. This is another one of those times where shyness is out of place.”
She understood but was not sure she would be able to submerge all of her concerns about him seeing her as nakedly obvious as she would be when he got her out, and in even more detail than earlier.
“I will need to drain this bath first, and then rinse all of the soap off you and out of the bath so that you do not slip when you stand, and so I can lift you out. The detachable shower-head and a cloth will do that.”
She was not objecting yet. It would be the physical implementation of it that would be difficult for her.
“You are also far too tense.” Just as she had been back on the Fell.
He reached out to her wrist of the arm covering her breasts and tried to lift it, feeling her resist and tense up against him moving it.
“Yes. Very tense You will need both of your arms to hold on to me when I lift you after I have washed the soap off you. There is also that other difficulty, that if you move your hands and arms to co-operate with me, you will be completely revealed to me, even more than you were just a couple of hours ago.”
She knew that he would love that.
He smiled at her and echoed her thinking. “I would very much like that, where you may not.”
He continued to dig a deeper hole for himself.
“I would like to see all of you, in every single entrancing, exciting detail; every haunting fold of skin, every smooth roundedness, every hidden place… every hair.” He sighed. “Everywhere, where I could only dream about it before.”
He was referring to what he'd imagined behind her thin panties.
Those were exactly the wrong things to be telling her and getting himself excited in the process. He sighed again. He was saying too much and making her nervous.
“But then I am only a very weak and vulnerable man and am letting my mind and my emotions run away with me, and I am scaring you even more than I did.”
She did not say anything but listened as she stared up at him, rosy cheeked. For once, she wasn't scared.
“Despite those unwise admissions, I hope you know that you can trust me… mostly… I think… not to overstep certain boundaries.”
He sounded as if he wasn’t sure about himself.
“I want you to trust me, as difficult as that will be for you, upon such a short acquaintance and the way I am rambling on.”
He still made no move to help her, and what he had just told her was hardly conducive to her wanting to trust him.
“So, how to do this?” He was asking himself that question, waiting for her to make up her own mind and to see that there was no other way.
There was no point in just talking about it. He turned off the still-dripping hot water tap and pulled the plug, starting the water draining out of the bath with a gurgling sound.
Soon she would be sitting completely revealed in the empty bath; and… there was another problem she had just become acutely aware of, but she could not discuss that with him, nor even discuss easily with any of her few female friends—she had just started her period for sure. The embarrassment had just gone up ten-fold because he would not be able to avoid seeing it as the bath emptied.
He noticed her embarrassment.
“However,”—another one of those awkward confounding words like, ‘but’, to change the meaning or to qualify it in some way— “however…if you are still too uncomfortable with me helping you in this way, I can always get help. I believe you know Annie, at the Inn…?”
She knew what he was about to suggest.
“No!” That was emphatic enough.
She realized he was likely to win this battle, just as he had won the other. He had not hurt her then, and he would not hurt her now.
“Annie must learn none of this, or that I was hurt on the Fell. She would phone my mother and worry her even more.”
Sheila was in an agony of apprehension as she wrestled with what he said, and with her shrinking options as the last of the water disappeared down the drain.
He reached out and gently lifted just the end of her middle finger of her right hand as he had done on the Fell, feeling it relax as her hand slowly lifted from across her breasts as she had done for him once before, and then she removed the other hand from covering that hair, below.
She lay there with her eyes closed, her cheeks, flushed with embarrassment.
He turned on the taps and ran the water to get it bearably warm and then transferred it to the detached shower-head, while he took a damp cloth over her back, getting her to sit forward as he did that to get rid of any soap that might make him lose his grip on her arms and her body, explaining what he was doing and why. He noticed a thin trail of blood running from beneath her to the drain. He knew about that.
She lifted her arms out of the way as he rinsed them and under them too, and even across her breasts, under them, and everywhere he could easily reach, spraying her with warm water. He would do more, once she was standing up and holding onto him.
He saw everything he wanted to see, but she was not comfortable about it, with her eyes opening.
“Am I scaring you again?”
“No. Not that so much. I am worried by what you will think of me for being so helpless. I am not usually like this you know?”
“I already know that, Sheila. I learned that back on the Fell and by the river.”
He paused in rinsing her off.
“You are so beautiful, so delicate, so fragile and so vulnerable. I have been able to think of nothing else ever since I met you. I almost ran off the road in my vacant state when I went back for our packs, and then I couldn’t get back to you fast enough, thinking only of you, and worrying for you, not sure you were as mobile as you thought you were.”
She hadn’t been.
“But I think you already know all of that about me, and my helplessness when I am close to you. And I should not frighten you more than I already do. I will go, if you tell me to.”
She would never tell him to do that, and she was not so very frightened at hearing what he had to say, but this circumstance was new to her, and she would not mind hearing more of his thoughts and feelings.
She sat forward as he wiped over her back again and under her arms.
She knew how his attention was affecting her, as well as him, and it made her nervous.
“You should close your eyes, Peter.”
She knew all about his eagerness, wanting to see all of her.
“I can’t if I am to help you. But you can close yours.”
He was dissembling.
“Why? That will not solve… the problem….”
“Not for me, but it will partially solve it for you. If you can’t see me looking at you and admiring you, which I so much want to do without earning your criticism for burning you up by staring, then you will not be so concerned.”
She was concerned anyway. When she stood up, he might see what she was afraid of him seeing what had leaked from her in the bath.
Thank goodness it had not happened on the fell for him to see it on her panties or shorts, or he might have left her up there, and he would never have been comfortable piggy-backing her as he had.
“Besides, I shouldn’t close my eyes. I will have to see what I am doing if I am to get you out safely without dropping you.”
She came back at him.
“I may not see you looking at me, but I will know what you….” Her words tailed off.
“Yes, I have no doubt you will know. I will be very curious about everything I can see. I told you.
“I find you; all of you; you, your body, your character, your simplicity, your shyness, so very fascinating, but you have nothing to be afraid of. I will try not to touch, but….” Another qualifier.
He would touch and hold what he needed to touch and hold, and if that could be nudged one way or the other to become careless…?
“If I were to hurt you in any way, I would only be hurting myself.”
She looked up at him, surprised to hear that strange logic.
He looked at her, wondering if he dared tell her. Or was it too soon? He might start her laughing at him for his boyish foolishness, or she would become even more nervous, and that would hurt too.
He took a deep breath and looked into her eyes from no more than a foot away, just as he had, each time they had rested coming off the Fell.
“I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you, Sheila. Surely you saw that.”
She stopped breathing.
One could have heard a pin drop.
“I think you already know that, don’t you? You should know by now, the way I have been unable to leave you alone, feeling as though I would go mad, not being close to you.”
He waited for her response. She would be shocked, annoyed, even angry at him; ask him to go. Insist on it.
She didn’t. She was breathless and light-headed at the implications of what he was telling her; understanding what he meant.
Surely this was moving along too fast between them? Except it already had moved along decisively, even earlier, and she had not suffered for it, and was not suffering so much now, other than in her own mind, which was totally unfamiliar with this different and more serious game that men, lovers (back to that again), played.
It was all happening too fast and too soon, but it made sense to her. It mirrored her own feelings, but he had been the one with the courage to speak about it.
She reached up and touched his face.
Her caress told him everything, allowing him to relax, and he now could say more.
“And I am scaring you again.” He could see that she wasn’t scared no matter how charged with emotion this situation had become again.
“My sisters dreamed of falling in love at first sight, and I just listened and smiled at their foolishness, thinking it to be what women dreamed of, never believing that it might ever happen to me. But it did.”
He was saying all of the right things.
“I will close my eyes, Peter. You should close yours too. We should both close them.”
He sighed. His every wish was about to be granted. “Okay. But I’ll need to lift you to your feet while you hold onto me, and then I’ll rinse you off again, change my hold on you and lift you out.” He didn't want to close his eyes.
His face would be pushed into her breasts again, as he did that. There would be no point in closing his eyes after that, but she didn’t really expect he would close his eyes, did she?
He calmed his tormented feelings and pulled her forward, sliding his arm around her back as she held onto his neck with both hands. He lifted her to her feet, his other hand on the edge of the bath for leverage and support, bringing her to a standing position, but still providing her with support.
She was watching him. She hadn’t closed her eyes either, as he had done that for her, but she closed them now as though to give him permission to look, and to see everything he wanted to see about her.
She took his breath away and he had to close his eyes, reminding himself that he was helping her. That was why he was here doing what he was doing. Those obvious temptations immediately in front of him were something he had to try and ignore.
But he couldn’t ignore them.
She didn’t seem to be embarrassed by his personal scrutiny.
She had wide hips and a narrow waist, as well as breasts to die for, though he’d already found that out earlier, and delicate, wispy hair that had been faintly glimpsed behind her panties.
He wanted to learn everything he could about her without scaring her again, but she did not seem to be scared; only confused, as he was.
They would neither of them be confused for long.
She was stunning; taking his breath away and firing his hormones into orbit. He was helpless, and her slave already.
She opened her eyes to check on him, feeling him trembling, seeing that he had not closed his eyes at all, but was still staring; admiring, unable to look away. His ears were red.
She was perplexed by the intensity of his feelings, though she knew that she was safe with him, despite….
She didn’t say anything to criticize him or bring him back down to earth, because she was feeling the same way about him, never having had any man so close to her before, so openly admiring, just as he had been with her on the Fell, and by the river.
He couldn’t help himself. If he wanted to see all of her—and he did want too—why should she object. It was a good feeling, if unnerving, feeling herself to be so well admired.
He saw she was looking at him.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t close my eyes. It would not have been safe, and it’s too late now. I hope you can forgive me.”
He was forgiven.
“But you are seeing everything about me, Peter!” It was an observation rather than a criticism. She did not understand how she could interest him in this way, except it was a male hormone thing.
“Yes, I am. Almost everything I would like to see."
She was confused. What more was there to see of her?
"I so much want to see you, all of you. Everything about you. More than everything! I always will. I did from the first moment I found you. I didn’t understand it then. I think I do now.” Love! Agonizing, frustrating, wonderful, love. “I am sorry if I am still frightening you.”
She understood it too, and he was not frightening her, but she shouldn’t tell him that, except she couldn’t help herself.
“I think I understand. I am not scared, Peter.”
“You should be! I scare myself.”
“But I am not scared.” She laughed at him standing there like a child in front of the dessert tray. Which to sample first of this rich bounty?
There could be no response to that admission from her.
Once she was standing solidly in the bath holding him, he recalled where he was, why he was here, and what he was doing. He brought the shower-head into play again to do her back and shoulders properly once more as he swept his hand over her, then her lower back and legs, and behind her to get the remaining soap off her.
He wiped over her with his hand now as she held onto him; the shower head alone was not enough, but he would not dare do that for her front. Except he would dare!
He got her to move her legs apart so that he could wash inside them; careful about what he touched and how high he touched to get the last of the soap off her, turning the water shower up into her body, to spray up between her legs for a few moments, startling her before he clicked it off, and then slowly wiped his hand down her legs to get off the last of the water and soap.
There had been a trace of thin blood up there, and it had not been from any injury. It was that time for her.
With one hand around her, under her buttocks, hugging her to his chest; such soft buttocks with flawless skin touching upon his bare arm, he lifted her out to stand naked in front of him.
She watched him the entire time, seeing where he was drawn to look at her, and feeling how she excited him.
The more he learned and saw of her, the closer he was drawn in.
He leaned in as though to kiss her, catching himself at the last second. She noticed all of that. She was disappointed when he backed away. He seemed unable to help himself when he was close to her.
It was an empowering lesson for a young woman to learn for the first time; the uncanny power of the naked female body over any man. It was the lure of her body, of who she was, of what she was. But what was she? She was not as familiar with any of this strange new game of love as she would like to be, but she was rapidly learning.
He’d lifted her as easily this time as he had lifted her earlier out of that pond, except this time she really was naked, and he had his face up close into her body, into her breasts, but she was not afraid of him now, and she didn’t understand how that could be.
It had not become safer for her, but more difficult and dangerous in at least one way. Except he had spoken of love for her; of being in love with her, and that alone removed most, if not all questionable threats, but at the same time had opened up an entirely new set of circumstances for her to learn to deal with.
He broke eye contact with her, reaching out toward the toilet and took off about five sheets of soft paper, folding them as he had seen his sisters do when they discovered this problem, and then moved her legs apart for himself, as he brought that pad up into her, under her, startling her, for her to bring up closer for herself to where it was needed.
He could just have given it to her, but he’d needed to do that other for her, and for himself.
Oh, lord. He knew everything about her!
He sat her on the chair, and dried her everywhere, trying not to stare. She no longer tried to cover herself anywhere now, and he would not have let her but would have just looked at her and waited for her to relax again. She knew that she would have done whatever he asked or didn’t ask now.
The skin on her hands was wrinkled from being in the hot water too long, and too much soap, but her breasts…? They must have been above water. They still caused his breath to catch and his pulse to race.
“I’m sorry about this other thing, Peter. I didn’t expect this.” She couldn't just ignore it and hope it would go away, and he needed to know.
“You do not need to apologize for what is natural and unavoidable, Sheila. I feel so privileged that you are allowing me to help you in any way that I can.”
The way he looked at her made her heart want to fly out of her chest and burrow into his, so that they could nestle together. She was tempted to kiss him, to thank him, but that would be dangerous.
“I just need my panties and my robe to relax in, I can’t wear a bra, not the way I feel.”
Had her mother been here to listen to her…?
Her breasts were swollen, and she didn’t feel well.
He’d known why her breasts were that way too, having seen what had been in the bottom of the bath, and with four sisters to learn from.
Of all the times…!
She’d hoped he would not notice, knowing that men were disgusted by all of that, yet he didn’t seem disgusted at all, but had helped her instead of running away to leave her to deal with it alone, and making her feel isolated and ostracized, as some primitive societies did when that time came, putting their women apart in a communal hut. Others praised it and celebrated it as indicating a fertile woman; a value in their society.
He threaded her clean panties onto her feet and brought them up on her legs, pausing for a moment, as though mesmerized by the small patch of hair barely hiding her pudenda, he could see at the top of her legs just above the paper he had put up into her there. His thoughts were running away with him.
“You’d better tell me where you keep your feminine things.”
He looked into her eyes and waited.
She blushed, feeling so vulnerable again. But he would know all about this, with sisters. Damn!
“In the top drawer next to the sink.”
He brought both feminine items to her for her to decide which one to use, or both.
His sisters became impossible about this time, and wanted him nowhere near them. He didn’t want to be near them either when their moods changed; all suffering the same way at the same time. One of them was what was known as a ‘driver’, or they all were, but it was different with this woman. He hoped that Sheila would not be the same as they were with him; 'picky' and 'snappy'; two of his nicknames for his sisters when they got to that time of the month, but all four of them were difficult at that time, so he kept away.
“I’ll turn my back and clean out the bath while you see to that, and then I’ll carry you downstairs.”
He touched her by her knee to get her to look at him.
“I will not watch you, though I would feel so privileged to do so. You have no need to be embarrassed. It's all natural.”
He would have liked to help her do that personal thing, but that was a step too far for any woman.
She would be horrified if he thought to try and help her, or even saw her fiddling at herself; stooped over and with her legs wide apart, semi-squatting, struggling to insert a tampon into her body in that place he could just dream of being.
He rinsed down the bath and cleaned around it, able to see her indirectly, with his peripheral vision, in the mirror at the back of it. She was trusting him not to watch her, so he averted his gaze, focused on what he was doing, and continued to get rid of all traces of her having bathed, and all traces of that other problem, though most of it had drained away as he'd rinsed her.
She watched him.
With a houseful of girls, he would have to clean up after himself, and even after them too, sometimes. Nothing would embarrass him, or them about the opposite sex after that.
When he turned back, tossing the wrung-out cloths and towels into the hamper, she had her panties pulled up on her, covering everything (damn), but not well, and was putting the robe around herself, fastening it, ready for him to carry her downstairs.
He’d take the hamper down to the washing machine, later.
As she was still fussing with herself, straining to see herself in the mirror to see if she looked as hot and bothered as she felt with what he had done for her, and told her, and seen, he took a fast look at the bathroom door. He would need to drive out the pins on the hinges and take the door off to repair it.
They were lucky it had not twisted the door frame out of place, but the door had worked loose from the hinges instead.
He’d take a couple of inches off the bottom, and a little off the top and re-hang it, but all of that could wait.
Nothing would tear him from her, or from this house now, until she showed him the other door; the one out of her life, but he’d fix this door first.