Inara looked down at the razor and then back up at him, her eyebrow raised in dubious surprise. "Are you sure about this?"
"That's all there is and I gotta look good for this thing, don't I?" Mal pulled a chair out and sat down. "I ain't keen to experiment my straight razor skills on my own face. Figured you, with all your fancy education, might be up the one for the job."
"Hmmm…,I believe I was absent on shaving-a-man-with-a-deadly-weapon day," she mused, tapping the razor on the palm of her hand, her eyes traveling the length of him beginning at the tousle of his damp hair, lingering on the white towel around his waist.
Up to now, he had been legitimately interested in her shaving him because he hadn't wanted to navigate that blade over his face. They had somewhere to be and he didn't want to go looking like he'd just emerged from a briar patch. But she was looking at him, tapping that razor, trying to figure out if he had something else in mind which he hadn't until she started looking at him and tapping that razor.
"Well, if you insist…," she sighed, her tone sounding as if he was asking her to do a grievous chore. With a deliberately nonchalant shrug, she turned, leaning over to gather supplies, presenting him quite a view.
His Adam's apple bobbed, as he swallowed. Settling back in the wooden chair, Mal watched Inara as she spread out the shaving paraphernalia about the small vanity; small sponges, a bowl of warm sudsy water, a larger bowl with clean water. He breathed in the scent of the soap suds. Whatever it was it smelled like something hot. Again, she turned away, and he looked his fill, taking in every inch of the gauzy, gold slip that clung to her every curve, falling just above the top of her thighs.
And the wicked, wicked woman wasn't wearing anything underneath. He shifted in the hard chair, trying to get more comfortable; this wasn't going to be a quick shave. She tossed him another look over her shoulder. Seeing his grin, her eyes narrowed in coy admonishment and she tugged the slip lower denying him his fine view. He didn't protest, however, because when she turned to face him, he immediately noticed that the top of her slip had fallen lower and now he was treated to the lovely swell of her lush breasts peeking over the lacy top.
His eyes hungrily roved over her finding only one thing that was unacceptable; the row of tiny buttons that ran up the front of her slip, challenging him with their closed-upedness. As Inara smoothed the lather over his face, he took the opportunity to unbutton the last button in the long row. One down and about thirty more to go. He scowled at the ridiculous number of buttons.
A few drops of lather fell onto the curving skin above the slip's lacy neckline. Mal wasn't one to miss such an opportunity for misbehavior. Reaching behind her, he grasped the sponge dipping it into the soapy warm water. Raising it up, he held it just under her throat and squeezed the sponge. The water dribbled down, down, over the alluring swell of her bosom then disappeared from view. Damn. Not enough water. This time he let the sponge soak longer.
"I was planning on wearing this, you know."
"You were?" Another squeeze of the sponge followed by more water. This time, he watched, transfixed, as the water trailed over her left breast soaking the already clingy, flimsy fabric. His attention was rewarded as he watched her dusky nipple harden.
Mal realized she was standing there, not moving. Standing completely still, not lathering his face, not shaving him just breathing in a pleasing shallow manner. His eyes lifted to see her looking at him, her own eyes dark. With a stern look, she took the sponge from his hand, pushed the bowl of water out of his reach, and picked up the razor. They gazed at each other before she flicked the razor open. Although it wasn't the first time a razor had been wielded to him, never had he experienced such a physical response to the simple action.
"Ready?" Her earlier teasing, playful smile replaced by a provocative smile.
He nodded, unable to speak.
Inara slid the razor slowly, carefully over his cheek, the quiet rasp the only sound in the room. He sat patiently, watching her face as she concentrated on her task. Two strokes, she leaned away and rinsed the razor in a small bowl before returning to the larger bowl brimming with warm water. Each time she leaned away from him, he unbuttoned a button. Another two strokes, another rinse, more lather, another button.
"I know what you're doing," she said softly, affecting a censorious tone.
"Wasn't meant to be a secret." He unbuttoned another. Now her navel peeked through. If he hadn't a razor so near his throat he would have taken the opportunity to taste it. But he needed to be closer to her. Moving his hands up to her hips, he shifted her slightly, sliding his knee between hers. The razor halted mid-stroke, her hand that had been resting on the back of his neck, tightened imperceptibly. She took a deep breath and resumed her task.
His hands became impatient, roaming over her, to her waist, up her back, down her back. Mindful of the razor and sensing the rules of her game, he opted not to let his hands stray under her slip, instead, he draped one arm around her waist allowing his hand to rest on her bottom, his fingers dangling just below the hem of her slip, lightly brushing against her skin.
She shivered but didn't tell him to stop. Encouraged by her silence, his other hand drifted down to the back of her knee and slowly trailed up her thigh. Despite the heat in the air, goose bumps following his progress. All the while, he watched her, watched her pause between strokes of the blade, watched as her eyelids almost fluttered closed, watched her lightly bite her bottom lip as his fingers explored higher and inward.
"Sit still!" She commanded, leaning away from him, rinsing the razor.
"Thought I was." But he stilled, contenting himself with gazing at her still-wet front and unbuttoning yet another button. Turning back to him, she nudged his head slightly to shave his other cheek. He obliged and was rewarded by a most appealing sight, so appealing that his attention was wholly diverted by the image of her, and him, in the mirror above the vanity. She hadn't gotten around to fixing her hair properly; it was piled haphazardly on her head, a few tendrils dangling, beckoning him to touch. He reached up, pulled out the clasp freeing her hair to tumble beguilingly about her shoulders. His gaze drifted down. Spellbound, he watched as his hand slid from her hip down to the hem of her shift. He couldn't resist inching the slip up until he could see the top of her thighs and the curve of her backside.
Two more strokes. He'd swear he detected a slight wobbliness to her shaving technique that hadn't been there before. She turned away, he unbuttoned another button. Could she let this thing last twelve more buttons? He'd lay odds that she could but he was quicker and not as cautious when he unbuttoned the next one. The delicate button popped off, rolling across the floor.
Her fingers touched his lips as she shaved under his nose. "Good thing I'm more careful with your things than you are with mine." Her thumb paused against his bottom lip caressing it softly, her knee bending to rest on the edge of the chair between his legs.
She pushed his head back to slide the razor over his throat. The only sound in the room was the rasp of the blade on his neck, the splash of the razor in the water, and their breathing.
Leaning back, she surveyed her work running her fingers over his cheeks and throat making sure she hadn't missed any spots. Thinking she was finished, Mal pulled her down, one knee still on the chair, the other pressed against his hip.
"Nài xìng," she chided, sounding a little breathless.
"Hèn bu dé!" he strangled out, sounding near asphyxiated.
Inara just smiled, pleased at herself, at him, at their game, and tilted his head away from her. He wanted to resist, concede defeat at this game of endurance, but she leaned into him and all thoughts of protest faded. His heart was racing and he damn well knew hers was, too.
He felt the edge of the blade high on his cheek. Close to his ear. That ear. Instinctively, he tensed. The razor stilled and she leaned in to him, her lips just above his ear.
"I'll never hurt you." she whispered in Chinese.
He looked up and met her eyes. She gazed at him intently, all playfulness, all traces of the mischievous vixen gone. She leaned closer, her mouth hovering over his. They stared at each other, suddenly very serious. His hands went to her hair, pulling it back so he could see her face better, not allowing her to hide behind the dark mass. Holding her head with one hand, his other curved around her pulling her to him. She looked down at him, her eyes wide, seeking, honest. He bent her head until her lips brushed his. They gazed at each other, feeling each other's heated breath on their lips until Inara closed the distance.
He was so very aware of her. All of her. Her lips, the taste of her tongue, the smell of her hair, the dampness of her clingy slip. His control slipped away and he pulled her even closer, deepening the kiss.
"The razor," she breathed against his lips. It was still grasped tightly in her hand, her hand that hung limply behind his back.
She barely had time to nod yes before he took the razor, snapping it shut with an expert twist. Tossing it carelessly on the vanity, he picked her up, falling on the bed on top of her.
"We're going to be late," she said, flinging his towel on the floor.
"Very late," he agreed, roughly tugging open her slip.
She didn't complain at the rending sound or the pitter of buttons falling to the floor. "You're bleeding."
Had she nicked him? "Yeah," he said, rolling over pulling her on top of him. "You're gonna pay for that."