Thoughts After Ten

Chapter 17

My launch lasted as long as it took to get to the elevator. I slumped against the wall, waiting to get to the seventh floor. Surely a shower would perk me up.

Carlos was waiting for me, looking scrumptious in a pair of jeans and nothing else. Just looking at him, I started to feel better.

"Hey Babe, how was your day?" He pulled me to him, and I wrapped my arms around his waist and nuzzled into his chest.

"I'm still on my feet, and no one was blown up." I answered him.

"I planned this badly. So, new plan."

"What are you talking about?" He still forgot I didn't have ESP.

"I wanted to take you out for dinner and dancing, but you're exhausted."

"No, I just need a shower. I'm fine, truly."

He smiled down at me, and just barely brushed his lips across my forehead. "Liar. Here's the new plan. Dinner and dancing some other night when we can both enjoy it. Tonight, I'm taking you back to the cabin. You soak in a hot bath, and I cook dinner. If you play nice, I might be persuaded to massage those tired muscles of yours. How does that sound?"

I sighed as I tightened my arms around him. "Like heaven, actually."

He chuckled, and began walking us toward the door. "Is there anything in that bag you can't do without?" I shook my head, still leaning against him. "Good. Leave it here. We may get the opportunity to sneak off for that dinner at some point."

I handed him my keys, knowing I probably shouldn't be driving. He turned to me as we were pulling out of the garage. "Why don't you lay your seat back? You can power nap, and rest up for dinner."

I took his suggestion, and eased the seat back to a comfortable position. That was the last thing I remember until he woke me. "C'mon Babe, need to get you indoors."

I blinked, trying to wake up. I guess I didn't do a very good job at it. Carlos picked me up and carried me into the cabin, laying me down on the couch.

"Go back to sleep. Dinner may take a while." I nodded, my eyes already closed.

I woke to wonderful smells, and Carlos stroking the hair off my face. "Hey, sleepyhead, half an hour or so until dinner. Want that bath now?"

I smiled and nodded, as I tried to get up off the couch. I inhaled a hiss, my muscles had stiffened up and I could barely move. I tried to hobble to the bathroom, but he was having none of it.

As he picked me up and carried me, I told him, "You keep spoiling me like this, and I may start to expect it."

He kissed me as he stood me up next to the tub, then pulled back to whisper, "God, I hope so." He helped me undress, then picked me up again to set me gently in the water. Steadying me as I sat down and got comfortable, he leaned over for another quick kiss before saying, "I better check on dinner."

I exhaled a sigh, and sank down further into the water. I was starting to feel a little better already. I stretched a bit, trying to get my limbs to move the way I expected them to. I heard him come back in, and turned to watch him.

He was carrying a big plastic cup, and smiled as he approached. "Feeling better?"

"Definitely. Another two, three months in this tub, and I might start to feel human again."

He laughed, and filled the cup with warm water from the tub. I tilted my head up to look at him, just as he started wetting my hair. "Carlos."

"Hmm?"

"What are you doing?"

"Washing your hair."

Okay then, might as well relax and enjoy it, right? As soon as my hair was wet, he started with the shampoo. Working up a lather with his strong hands, he gave me a great scalp massage in the process. "Mmmm..."

"You like?"

"Very much."

"Good" He started the water to trickle into the tub, and used the cup to rinse. He towel dried my hair, then worked some kind of conditioner into it. Piling my hair on my head and securing it with a clip, he nudged me forward to wash my back. He shook his head and grinned, "I'd wash the rest of you, but that would definitely interfere with my plan to let you relax and sleep tonight." He gave me a quick kiss, then stood. "Dinner should be almost ready."

I thought about going back to sleep in the tub, but even if I didn't drown, I'd get all pruney. Besides, dinner smelled great. I finished bathing, dried and grabbed a robe. Carlos was just finishing setting the table. He smiled as he saw me. "That's a good look for you. You should wear it more often."

I shook my head at him, asking "What, sleepy drowned rat?"

He held out a chair for me, saying, "No, relaxed, half naked and wet."

I grinned, as he served up plates.

"Good choice." I told him. He'd made teriyaki chicken, wild rice, and stir fried veggies.

"Thanks. I hoped you'd like it."

"Wait a minute. Where did this food come from?"

"We stopped at the store on the way here."

Odd. I had no memory of that at all. Must be more tired than I thought. We ate quietly, just occasionally talking about light subjects. I started yawning over my plate, and Carlos said, "Go brush your teeth and get in bed. I believe I promised to rub your tired muscles for you."

I followed directions, for once. Carlos came in just as I was climbing into bed. He waited for me to get comfortable, then started to rub my neck. I was starting to drift by the time he got to my shoulder blades, when he asked. "Steph? Can I stay tonight?"

I reached down for him, saying "Please." I let myself drift off with his warm hands stroking me.