“Really,” says Bathsheba. “I thought I spotted you standing by your window, with your sword aimed at me.”
To which I explain, “I could not see a thing through the glass. It became cloudy, or something. At this time of day, even though it is only the beginning of summer, it’s much too steamy in the office.”
She rolls her eyes. “I’ve had it with men.”
I can find nothing to say, and perhaps there is no need to. She can tell, can’t she, how desperately I ache for her.
“My life is scandal-free at the moment,” she says. “It feels nice for a change.”
Which brings me back up to my feet, because thinking about her reputation, the reputation of a soldier’s wife, makes me hot all over.
I have no idea who her husband might be. More precisely, I do not want to figure it out. All I know is this: when he is away serving the country, serving me, this woman must have found her own way to compensate. Loneliness is a steady companion, one that ugly women can rely upon. Not so for her.
And she must see—even through my royal garb—how hard I am becoming. She is in hot water—but I am the one boiling over.
“Give me that towel,” she tells me, as if I were her servant.
And I say, “What—”
And she says, “The towel. Yes, that one. Quick, give it to me.”
And with that, she rises up from the frothy surface.
I wipe my eyes. How shall I begin to describe her? In the patches between the soapsuds, her skin seems to glow. The rays of the setting sun are playing all over her creamy flesh: first one nipple, then the other.
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