“I don’t suppose there’s a hot shower in here?” he asked, even though he must have known the answer.
“No.” I laughed at the thought. “But I can take you to the common bath.”
He got up from the chair. “Take me.”
I found a couple of towels and a bar of soap in a cupboard. “We only have about forty-five minutes left before lights out. We need to be back by then.”
We left the apartment and headed toward the bathroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack changed his mind when he saw where he had to bathe. It wasn’t anything like the private hot shower in his apartment. When we reached the common bath, I was silently relieved to see that the water had been changed recently. It wasn’t bad at all.
“It’s freezing!” Jack exclaimed when he put his hand in the water. “I’m not getting in there.”
“You don’t actually get in. Soak your towel in the water and wash off that way. You can dry with mine. You go first.” I started toward the door.
“Wait. We’re supposed to be married. Isn’t it going to look weird if we’re taking turns in here?”
“I’m not watching you have a bath. I’m only prepared to take the pretend marriage thing so far.”
He gave me a wry look. “We’ll just turn our backs on each other. It will save time, and we can get back before lights out.”
“I don’t know. It seems a little…intimate.” But there was a guard on duty within view of the bathroom, and he might wonder why we were taking turns.
“I promise I won’t peek,” Jack said, but I wasn’t convinced. “Hey, I’m taking a big risk here, too. You know how many girls would love to see the Jack Kenner naked?”
That made me smile. A week ago, that was probably true. “I can’t believe I’m going to do this. Turn around.”
We both turned our backs on each other. I stripped as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have time to change my mind. I heard his clothes drop to the floor. An image of my hands on his naked chest came back to me, and a feeling of excitement began to grow in the pit of my stomach. If I turned around right now we would both be naked and only inches apart. A warm sensation spread through me at the thought, and my chest tightened, making it difficult to breathe. I wanted to banish the thoughts from my mind. I didn’t want to think of Jack in that way.
I dunked one of the towels into the water and scrubbed my arms. The water was freezing and made me shiver, but at least now I could blame my heavy breathing on that. And I was grateful it was helping to douse the heat that seemed to be consuming me. When I was done, I rinsed the towel and stuck it out behind my back to pass it to him.
“That was quick,” he said. I heard the water splashing behind me then Jack sucked his breath in. “Oh my god, it’s cold!”
I dried off and put on my clothes. I waited for him to finish and get dressed before I knelt down to wash my hair.
“Not so bad,” Jack said, but I could tell he was lying.
He dipped his head in the water, ran the bar of soap through his hair, and then rinsed. I was still working on my long hair. A lot of coal was coming out, darkening the water and I felt a little guilty considering it had just been changed.
I wrapped the towel around my head to hide my red hair until I could reapply the coal. “We better get back before lights out,” I said.
Jack opened the door for me. “Even though it was freezing, it feels good to be clean.”
“I like the cold. It’s refreshing.” Maybe I would have to have a bath every night if my body was going to continue to respond to Jack like that, I thought.
Back in our apartment, I busied myself hanging up the towels and brushing out my wet hair. I was feeling a little vulnerable without the coal, but I knew I would have to wait until my hair dried before I could reapply it. The lights would go out any minute now. I put the brush away and turned around to find Jack flopped in a chair observing me.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing.” He looked away. But there was something about the way he was looking at me…
“Did you peek?” I asked.
“Sunny,” Jack shook his head, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and his cheeks turned pink. “Of course I peeked. I’m a guy.”
I threw one of the towels at him. He caught it in mid-air, laughing.
“Jerk,” I said, trying to look serious, but the whole thing was ridiculous. I knew I never should have trusted him.
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