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The proposition, p.27
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       The Proposition, p.27

           Jessica Schlafer
 
Chapter 26

  I relaxed for a long time and I must’ve dozed off. There was a slight knock on the door.

  “Abbs,” Nick whispered from the doorway. “Are you okay in there?”

  “I’m fine. I must’ve fallen asleep," I stretched.

  Nick walked into the bathroom. “Is the water cold?”

  “No, not really, but I was just gonna add more hot water.”

  “Can I get in?”

  My eyes looked over his body and I swallowed, “Um, yeah. Okay.”

  I reached forward to turn the hot water back on and then turned toward the window so I couldn’t see Nick undressing. A moment later, I could feel Nick lowering himself into the back of the tub. I chanced a look and saw that Nick had laid his head back on the edge of the tub. The water faucet was in the middle of the tub, so I was also able to lay my head back, too.

  “I haven’t taken a bath since I was a kid,” Nick said.

  “I don’t even have a bathtub in my place in Boston, just a shower. Actually, I probably don’t even have a place in Boston anymore.”

  “Why?”

  “I’ve been out of work and couldn’t pay my rent…”

  “Oh. I can get some money out to your landlord. Just give me the address.”

  “No, it’s okay. I already talked to my Mom and she’s going to get my things out. Let them evict me.”

  “Where are you gonna go, then?”

  “I don’t know. Back with my parents, I suppose.”

  “I see.”

  “It’s not like I have a job in Boston.”

  “Where do your parents live?”

  “Brooklyn now. Mom is talking about moving to Florida to retire, though.”

  “Abby, I’d love for you to stay here. If things were safe.”

  I didn't dare to look at him.

  “Abby, it’s been a long time since I cared for someone. I really thought I had turned that part of me off. It’s just….you’re…”

  “What was her name?”

  Nick didn't say anything for a long time. Finally he sighed, “Sara. She was beautiful and smart and funny and I loved her. I used to tease her all the time because she was so short, I called her Short Sara,” he laughed, sadly. “I had proposed to her two weeks before…

  He sighed and continued, “She wanted a big wedding, with all her family and friends. She was originally from Guatemala but she had come to Portland when she was 12. She was as close to perfect as you could get and she loved me. But, for some reason, she started doubting me. She was always questioning me, saying I was out too late or I wouldn’t answer my phone when she called. She was making all kinds of accusations. I would tell her time and again that she was the only woman in my life, but she didn’t believe me. That’s how she ended up in the warehouse that night.

  Nick took a deep breath and ran his wet hands through his hair. “They had to use dental records to identify her. Her parents wouldn’t allow me to come to her funeral. I hid behind a tree at the graveside service. That was the only way I got to say good bye. Her parents moved back to Guatemala after that.”

  We sat in silence for a long time. The only sound was the occasional ripple in the water.

  Finally, Nick spoke again, “As much as I’ve fought it for these last few weeks, Abby, I want to get to know you. I want to be with you.” He took my good arm and pulled me toward him. “If I can make it safe for you, will you stay when this is all over?”

  “Of course,” I whispered. “I’ll stay, no matter what, Nick. I can’t bear the thought of you being in danger and me not being here to help.”

  “Abby, I…”

  “Shhh, Nick. It’s not up for debate. Besides, if you don’t want me here, I’ll be homeless. You wouldn’t want me to have to fend for myself on the mean streets of Boston, would you, Nick?”

  He smiled, “Abby, you know as well as I do that no one would let that happen.”

  “But why would I leave when I could be here with you?”

  He answered me with a kiss. Long, hot, slow, tongues darting in and out. I could feel his excitement growing between us in the water. My hands explored his body, as his did mine.

  I pulled back, breathless. “Nick,” I said, panting. “As much as I want to go further, I don’t think my body could handle it.”

  “Abby, I can wait for you. I know you’ll be worth the wait. How do you feel?”

  “Besides completely turned on? Well, to be honest, the pain killer is starting to wear off and I hurt. I would really like to go to bed.”

  “Let me help you out then.”

  I slid back and averted my eyes as Nick stood and got out of the tub.

  “Can you stand up okay?”

  “I think so, I feel a little dizzy.”

  “Take my hand, then.”

  Nick practically lifted me out of the tub, gently helping me stand on the bathmat and wrapping a towel around me all at once. He slowly and luxuriously dried my body with the soft, oversized towel. He then took the plastic bag off my cast and led me to the bedroom.

  He had laid out my pajamas on the bed. I picked them up and turned around, suddenly shy, to get dressed. Once dressed again, I turned back around to see Nick was wearing shorts and a tee shirt.

  “I need to lie down,” I admitted.

  “I’ll get your pain pill. I’ll be right back.”

  Nick went downstairs, I could hear him shuffling around the kitchen, open and close the refrigerator door, and then come back to the room.

  “Here you go,” he handed me my pill bottle and a bottle of cold water. “Why don’t you take a nap and I’ll run out and get us some food?”

  “Mmmm, Nick, that sounds good,” I said, drowsily. I was already feeling the effects of the pills.

  He handed me a phone and said, “If you need me, I’m the only number in the phone. Call me immediately. I’ll set the security system while I’m gone. I’ll only be gone 20 minutes, tops.”

  “I’m just going to sleep, Nick. I’m so tired.”

  “Okay baby, I’ll be back with some food for you,” he said, kissing my cheek, it was the last thing I remembered before I went to sleep.

 
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