I softened and relaxed against him as I implored gently, “You will join me?”
He kissed the top of my head as he murmured, “Of course.” This is all I longed for. To be held in my father’s arms. Loved by only him. I released him and skipped up the steps, light and full of expectation.
My parents had a large room, with a walk-in closet and full bathroom. I had a bedroom and bathroom of my own, but all the space in theirs was amazing. Double vanity, separate shower and bathtub, and the toilet even had a little room of its own. I remember placing in the stopper and then turning on the tap. I tested the temperature before standing and walking into the closet. My father kept his clothes on the left, and I held a shirt to inhale deeply. I would sit in this closet for hours as a child. As I got older, he permitted me to wear his shirts to sleep whenever loneliness overwhelmed me. I always missed him terribly while he was deployed. At least his scent would act as a comfort throughout those long nights.
I remember how heavy my heart suddenly felt. He was leaving that week, and it would be another half a year before I would see him again.
I sighed and headed back to the tub to check the water level. I untied my top and skirt, then collected the fabric and folded them properly. I spotted myself in the vanity mirror and twisted my head and body to look myself over. There was no end to my captious thoughts. I ran a finger along my tan lines and wished I could sunbathe naked. My honey complexion suddenly gave way to a pale beige as my eyes travelled across my swelling breasts. My nipples were puffy and always erect, while every day my breasts grew more sensitive. My copper-colored hair wavered ad nauseam, caught between a red and brown tone. These “beach curls” were more like wild waves that remained incorrigibly frizzy.
His voice seemed to fall out of the ether, “You didn’t use any bath salts?”
I glanced from his form in the doorway to the tub before shaking my head. My father stepped into the room and placed his half-filled glass on the rim of the tub as he retrieved a bottle from the shelf. He sprinkled the bath salts into the water as I knelt beside him to agitate the pool. Dried lavender buds began to float and dance across the surface of the water. The bathroom soon filled with the scent of lavender and sandalwood.
My father was still dressed, so I watched the ice as it bounced within his glass. I could take a sip if I wanted but found no need to. Instead, I closed my eyes to the familiar shuffle: my father replaced the bottle of bath salts, then dropped to sit behind me. I relaxed back, basking in the feeling of his brawny chest as our heartbeats began to harmonize. He lowered his face, and my chest and shoulders rose in anticipation.
His voice reverberated in my ear while his beard tickled my neck, “Hard water will make your hair brittle and dry out your skin. As a young woman, you must tend to your body properly.”
I could smell the liquor on his breath and welcomed his arms as they slid around my waist. I wanted to fall asleep to the feeling. We were still dirty, but he kissed my neck and shoulders anyway. It was mostly a slow sweeping of his goatee. Sweetly, he covered me in butterfly kisses, so light that his lips would have been imperceptible if I were any less sensitive to him. He raised a palm to my breast and the mass swelled between his fingers. The sensation ignited my longing. My knees became weak as his free hand travelled to my thigh. I lifted to press against his lap as an invitation, allowing two fingers to easily slip into me. They beckoned, then stirred me ever so gently before sliding back out. Now syrupy, they slowly rubbed against my most sensitive spot.
It was bliss. My father focused his tongue and licked circles onto the nape of my neck. The sound of his breathing was hypnotic. I found myself lost until he stopped. I was suddenly cut-off from the comfort of his grasp. He ignored me, reaching to turn off the water as my need took ownership of my body. I slid back to my knees as he stood completely. I watched, growing more desperate, as he stepped away to close the door; I even considered clambering after him. What felt like an eternity was a mere blink.