"That's it," Rachel announced, slamming her fist onto the armrest of our couch. "It's time."
I shot her a quizzical look. "Time? For what, pray tell?"
"A bath," she answered with a dreamy grin. "I reckon I can manage it now. After all, it's been like two weeks. And screw Dr. Baldwin if he tries to tell me otherwise," Rachel added with a smirk. She shifted a little on the couch, nodding as if to reaffirm the idea to herself.
I got up from my seat across the room, starting toward my roommate as she eased herself up off the couch. I hesitated when she motioned me away, standing up on her own.
A few weeks ago, Rachel had been in a mutual friend's car, and they'd wrecked. Rachel had seen a second before and braced herself just wrong, coming away with a broken arm, hand, and shoulder, which she'd needed surgery on. The incisions had prevented her from taking a shower for weeks, so while her mother had come down to care for her, they'd managed with sponge baths. But now that her mom had gone, I could understand the desire for a real bath.
"You okay?" I asked as she wobbled and reached out for the wall to steady herself with her good arm.
Rachel nodded. "Yeah, just got up too fast." She stood up a little straighter, giving me a smile as she made her way toward her bedroom.
I stood there listening to her footsteps for a moment, half-prepared to hear a thud as she fell to the floor. When I heard the bathroom door click shut and the water start running, I gave a little sigh of relief and settled down in my chair once again.
Even though she was much better, I still worried about Rachel almost constantly. There's nothing quite like getting a call from the hospital in the middle of the night to tell you that your roommate was in a car wreck to shake you up. It didn't help that I had gone and secretly developed feelings for her; as a matter of fact, it meant I was far more worried than I should have been, even after I knew she was okay.
The water turned off and I heard her splashing around a little as she settled in, allowing myself to relax. She's fine. Quit worrying, I told myself.
I'd just gotten back into my book when I heard her calling my name. I set the book aside immediately and got up, heading for the bathroom. "What's up?" I asked through the door.
"Can you come help me wash?"
Images of a completely naked Rachel flooded my mind and I stood outside the door stupidly, my insides quivering anxiously. "... Are, um, are you sure?"
"You're making this awkward," Rachel pointed out. I could hear the smile in her voice. "Just c'mere and help, and we can get this over with real quick. The less time being awkward, the better, right?"
My cheeks got warm. Yeah, unless I've been dreaming about an opportunity like this for ages.
My hand went to the doorknob and after a moment's hesitation, I opened the door and stepped into the steamy room. My clothes were suddenly uncomfortable in the humidity and I was tempted to strip down a little, but the mere thought had me blushing and flustered instantly. I ignored myself and directed my attention to the tub, where I could make out Rachel's reclining form through the semi-transparent curtain.
"Hurry up before the water gets cold," she teased, brushing the curtain back with her good hand. Her eyes focused on my face and a confused, yet devious grin crossed her face. "You're blushing."
"I just-it's hot in here," I muttered, dropping my gaze to the floor before she could realize I was staring at her.
Rachel was quiet for a moment, but when she spoke again, her voice was normal. "I'm very much not left handed, and there's no way I can get my chest and shoulders without getting the bandage all wet."
Shit. Chest. That means boobs. There's no way I won't get caught. I kept my face as neutral as possible, going over to the cabinet and retrieving a washcloth. I hesitated before closing the door, turning my head just enough to see her smudgy shape through the curtain.
"Want a few spares to, uh, cover up?"
Rachel sloshed around slightly before answering. "No, it's okay. We're close enough that it doesn't bug me."
I cringed inwardly, but closed the little door and got to my feet. "Incoming." I tossed the washcloth over the curtain rod and into the tub, allowing it to soak in the warm water as I rolled my sleeves up. Rachel yelped a little at the splash, and I couldn't help but grin at the sound. A moment later, I realized that I had to turn around and face her eventually. No sense in putting off the inevitable.
I turned around to find Rachel looking up at me and my red cheeks, a trace of concern on her face. "It's hot," I mumbled again, dragging my feet toward the tub.
I knelt and dunked the washcloth into the warm water by her stomach, grateful for the bubbles that shielded her lower half from view. Wringing the washcloth out, I looked up at her face, blinking at just the right time to shield her chest from my direct line of sight.
Rachel looked hesitant, a surprising emotion to see on her face. I'd rarely seen her look anything but silly and perky, so the vulnerability on her face stunned me into silence. "Look, I..." She swallowed and bit her lip. "If you're not comfortable with this, it's okay. I can manage."
The look on her face triggered something in my brain, and I knew I couldn't back down. "It's okay. I got this."
Rachel looked relieved, and settled into the water.
"Shoulders first," I offered, wringing most of the wetness out of the washcloth and sudsing it up with soap.
Rachel leaned forward some and I gently massaged the washcloth against her skin, being careful not to get any water on the bandage. I realized I had no real way to rinse her off and ended up using my hand as a cup and pouring small trickles over the suds.
I spent more time than necessary washing her shoulders, trying to prolong the time until I had to see her front. I was positive my cheeks would color and give away the feelings I was guarding so carefully. I tried to imagine different excuses I could stammer out to cover myself, but they all fell flat in my head and I gave up.
"Okay, lean back," I murmured, giving her a gentle nudge.
The woman in the tub complied easily, avoiding my gaze as she exposed her chest to me.
Oh my god. She had the most perfect breasts I had ever seen, not that I had seen many. This is gonna be tough. I caught her chin gently, tilting her head up so I could wash her neck, and tried to pretend I wasn't imagining closing the distance and kissing her. The washcloth traced down her neck, toward her breasts.
I swallowed, pausing and glancing up at her. She was biting her lip again and her cheeks were turning pink. The awkward tension in the air was almost overwhelming, and I took it upon myself to come up with something to say. "Water still warm enough?"
Rachel nodded slowly, and I had nothing else to do but scrub at her chest. I rubbed the washcloth near the bandage, getting as close as I dare without touching it. It occurred to me that that was really the only spot she needed help in; the rest of her body, she could reach on her own.
With her breasts there, so close, I knew I'd never forgive myself if I didn't take this chance, so I massaged the washcloth against her skin, moving across her chest before dipping down to the swell of her breasts.
My cheeks flushed and even through the rough cloth, it was amazing to be touching them. Once I'd adjusted to the idea (which took no time at all), I washed her breasts lovingly, practically worshipping her chest through my touch. I only looked up when she gave a shuddering sigh.
Her eyes were half-closed and she was biting her lip again.
I suddenly became aware of all the boundaries I crossed and backed off. "Sorry, Rach, I... Was that...? Sorry."
She shook her head, offering me a self-conscious smile. "Dude, I've been... God, that was nice."
I was tempted to continue, but I didn't want to put either of us in an uncomfortable position. My eyes dropped from her face and landed on her breasts, and it took me a moment to realize and look away.
"Like what you see?" Rachel teased, a laugh in her voice.
I swallowed, biting my tongue so I wouldn't respond.
"Hey." Her voice was gentler, and she reached over and caught my cheek in her hand, lifting my gaze to meet hers. "It's okay. I like yours, too."
My confusion took the form of a frown and I gawked at her for a moment, getting another laugh out of Rachel.
"You're adorable, but you're not the best at hiding things," she teased. "That innocent, geeky thing you've got goin' on is hot."
"What?" My mind was spinning at the change of everything I'd grown so used to.
"I like you," she confessed slowly, grinning at me. "And I'm almost a hundred percent sure you like me, too."
My voice died in my throat and all I could manage was a stunned nod.
"Cool." Rachel looked extremely pleased with herself.
"Really?" My voice came out as an embarrassing squeak and my roommate laughed.
Rachel splashed me playfully, chuckling more at the flash of indignation on my face. "Yes really, you goober. Now get back over here and kiss me."