“That’s quite a commitment.”
His gaze met hers in the mirror, his blue eyes serious and intense, his voice gone soft and husky. “I’m very good with commitments, Mila.”
Right then, her heart stopped beating. Just for a couple of beats, just enough to make that instant significant. Enough for her to understand Gramma’s wistfulness the times she’d asked the boyfriend question.
Gramma had had plenty of boyfriends before she met Grampa, and he’d won the universe for best boyfriend ever. If he’d made her feel any of the dizzy, breath-stealing, girly things Mila was feeling right now, he’d deserved the title.
Gramma wanted her to feel these dizzy, breath-stealing, girly things, and she’d feared Mila never would. That was the reason for her wistfulness.
“I—I’m…” Heat turned her face crimson. She searched her brain for the right thing to say, but she was too quivery and shivery, the room was too warm, his hands were too deliberate in their touch, and she had no experience with this kind of conversation.
Ruefully, she gave up, almost smiled, almost laughed and said plainly, “Sometimes you take my words away.”
“I think that’s only fair.” He reached the top of her head, combed his fingers through to loosen all the strands, then fixed his gaze on hers in the mirror. “Because sometimes you take my breath away.”
Mila wanted that moment to last forever, was preserving it in her brain, every detail of it, when a song from next door filtered into the room. She forced air into her lungs, forced her gaze to move away from his. “Does it surprise you Gramma likes to sing in the shower?”
“It doesn’t. Is that… ‘How Great Thou Art’?”
“Gospel songs. Loudly. And badly. Wynona Novak calls it caterwauling.”
“Wynona would. I hate to say it, but that woman can sing. It probably pains her to hear songs she loves mangled like this.” He winced as Jessica blared out a note she couldn’t reach with a ladder. “Well. Talk about breaking the mood.”
Mila slid her right hand into the waistband of her shorts and gave them a tug before repeating the process on the left side. Giving her a chiding look, Sam pulled them the rest of the way off.
“How do you want to do this?” he asked, his breath warm on her thighs as he straightened again. “Should I look but not touch? Touch but not look? Put on those vinyl cleaning gloves, drop a towel over my head so I’m blind and play it by ear?” He made a tugging motion on his ear. “Oh, wait, that could be dangerous.”
Mila pressed her lips together to keep from grinning and encouraging him. The situation wasn’t supposed to be funny. She’d been attacked. And she’d rescued herself, her mind voice pointed out. And she’d wanted more intimacy with Sam. Well, wasn’t this scene intimate?
“Just get my splint and the swimsuit off, please. I think I can manage the rest.”
“Don’t I get to wash your hair?”
She raised one finger threateningly. “Protect your ear.”
Removing the plain black splint sobered him. The swelling was worse, and so was the bruising. The pain she couldn’t really speak to, since she’d taken a pain pill as soon as they’d picked them up at the pharmacy.
With no more joking, he unfastened the hook at the neck of her swimsuit and peeled it off her. His gaze directed somewhere above her head, he helped her step into the tub, then pulled the curtain between them.
She stood under the warm water, letting it pound her shoulders and spine, eyes closed, feeling better already with the creek water gone.
“Who would want to hurt you, Mila?”
Well, she was feeling better. That sounded like Chief Douglas, not Sam. “I don’t know.”
“A former employer?”
“My previous jobs were online. I work with Gramma in the shop sometimes—doing inventory, unpacking stock, cleaning—but I don’t deal with customers.”
“A former friend or boyfriend?”
She stuck the shampoo bottle outside the curtain, then flattened her palm so he could squirt some onto it. “They were online, too. The friends. No boyfriends.”