Frayed Page 55

I shake my head at her in disbelief. ’’Come on, let\s go put something cool on it.’’

I\m careful to only touch where her clothing is, but even then I see her body tighten in discomfort. She leads me up the stairs and to the door of her apartment that from the outside I know so well. When she opens it and walks through, I catch sight for the first time of where she lives. Candles are scattered all around, a bottle of sparkling water with two glasses sits on her coffee table, and her bikini is thrown on the back of her sofa. I try to ignore the intimate setting that she has set and swivel my gaze over the rest of the room. There isn\ much furniture the sofa, the coffee table, a television, and a small stereo unit on the floor. I look over toward the kitchen a few barstools, but no table under the light in the corner. I know she\s lived here for a while, but it looks as if she just moved in.

’’This is really nice,’’ I say, closing the door behind me.

’’Thanks, I\m not done with it yet, but it\s getting there.’’

I walk up behind her. ’’It looks like you were expecting company.’’

She tosses her keys and twists her head back to rest on my shoulder. ’’Well, someone who wasn\ invited was making a nuisance of himself.’’

’’Is this the way you greet all nuisances who invite themselves over?’’ I bend down to kiss her lips and rest my hands on her shoulders.

’’Ouch,’’ she exclaims loudly.

I glance around, looking for a light switch, and flick it on. ’’Turn around, let me see you.’’

’’I\m fine,’’ she says, kicking her heels off.

I circle over to her and take a look. ’’You have blisters on your lips.’’

She slaps her hand to her mouth. ’’Oh my God, did you give me herpes?’’

I should be insulted, but instead I\m laughing so hard a few tears drip from my eyes.

’’It\s not funny,’’ she says, running down the hall. ’’Oh God, they\ e huge.’’

I walk down the hallway and see her looking in the bathroom mirror. ’’Let me see.’’

She turns toward me.

’’You don\ just have a little sunburn, you might have sun poisoning.’’

’’Do you think so?’’

’’Do I think I didn\ give you herpes? Yes.’’

’’I know you didn\ ,’’ she says, rolling her eyes. ’’I\m talking about sun poisoning.’’

I mimic her and roll my eyes. ’’Yes, I\m pretty sure. I\ve taken care of sun poisoning a few times before. You need to take some aspirin, put some cold compresses over those blisters, and drink a lot of water. So let\s start with where I\ll find the aspirin.’’

’’I have Midol. Will that work?’’

I laugh. ’’No, but I\ll run out to the store and pick some up along with some aloe because I\m going to guess you don\ have that either.’’

She shakes her head no and turns back toward the mirror.

’’Don\ keep touching them,’’ I yell as I walk into the kitchen and open the refrigerator, looking for a bottle of spring water. It\s completely empty except for a large bag of lemons. I close it and open a few cupboards until I find a glass. I fill it with water and when I turn she\s standing behind me. ’’Drink this. Get changed and put some cold washcloths over the blisters. I\ll be right back. Okay?’’

She runs her hand down my chest. ’’Thank you.’’

Our eyes lock and I grab her hand and kiss it. ’’You don\ have to thank me.’’

’’I\m so sorry. I was really looking forward to tonight.’’

I kiss the top of her head, the only place I know won\ hurt her. ’’There will be other nights.’’

She drinks the water, sets the glass down, and opens the refrigerator, removing a few lemons from the bag. She sniffs them and I pause to watch her. She sets them on the counter, cuts one in half, and squeezes the juice up her arm. I watch her curiously as she repeats this process on the other arm and winces.

’’What are you doing?’’ I ask.

She turns toward me. ’’Cleansing my skin. I usually rub them up my arm, but I think that might sting more than it already does.’’

I bunch my eyebrows.

’’What?’’ she asks. ’’It\s common knowledge lemon juice is good for your skin, so it should help with sunburn too.’’

’’Yeah, but don\ most people squeeze them into their water?’’

She shrugs. ’’I\m not like most people.’’

’’No. No, you\ e not.’’ I laugh.

As I walk out the door now knowing why she always smells of lemon, I\m surprisingly not thinking about how our night has been ruined but rather about how I\m glad I\m here to take care of her.

The grocery store is quiet at this time of night as I push my cart through the aisles. I\ve decided to pick up a few things since I\m not sure she\ll be going out this weekend. My phone beeps and I slide it out of my pocket. It\s S\elle.

Did I say thank you?

You did and I told you you didn\ have to say that, but I think I\ve changed my mind.

Did I tell you I was really looking forward to tonight?

You did. Don\ you want to know why I changed my mind?

Did I tell you I really wanted to have se* with you tonight?

I nearly drop my phone. F*k, she must be trying to kill me. I hurry up and pay for my cartload of shit and throw the bags in the car. By the time I get in my phone has beeped again.

Did you get my last text?

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