Jing Mei finds more than milk at the store.
She cried silently against his chest but refused to wrap her arms around him.
"It's my fault," he said quietly, running his hand through her wet hair. "I know I should have come to get you, I know I should have spoken to you before this morning..." He pushed on her shoulders to get a good look at her. He smiled weakly and she returned the same, weak smile. He kissed her once on the forehead, then the tip of her nose and finally he softly pressed his lips against hers.
"I don't want to love you," she said meekly.
He smiled, "That would certainly make things easier, wouldn't it?" She bit her lip and nodded. "Come on, you'll get sick if you leave that wet dress on."
He led her upstairs to his room and immediately went to his drawers to procure something for her to wear in place of the dress she'd come in.
"I don't want to be a bother," she said, still standing in the open doorway.
"You're no bother," he said as he pulled a pair of pajama bottoms from the top drawer.
"I really just came to say that I was sorry," she insisted, even though she was already slipping herself out of her wet shoes.
"At least stay to warm up," he said as he rooted deeper in the drawer. "You must be hungry, too, have you eaten?"
She shook her head 'no', even though he wasn't looking in her direction, "My mother went out. Father went to the city for a couple of days. Robert and I were on our own."
"So what is Robert doing?" he asked, briefly wondering how their conversation had quickly turned so mundane.
"He's at a friend's," she replied. "I guess."
James pulled a cotton shirt from another drawer and folded it on top of the pajama pants.
"Come in," he said, beckoning Rose into the room. She met him in the middle of the room and took the dry clothes from him and quickly averted her gaze from him. "What will happen when your mother arrives home and you're not there?"
Rose shrugged, "She'll assume I'm out." She met his gaze again, "Which I am."
He nodded and turned his attention to her hair again. It was drying somewhat, making her appear even more disheveled -- not that it bothered him.
"Do you want a bath?" he asked, nodding to his adjoined bathroom.
"I..." she stammered at first. "Sure."
There was a knock on the door and she wasn't sure why it startled her so much, but it did. She skillfully maneuvered bubbles around her breasts and sunk into the bath water before giving him the go-ahead to come in.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" James asked coyly, sticking his head in through the door. Rose smiled and nodded. He could deny it all he wanted when he pictured her as a sexual creature, but looking at her smiling in the bathtub, he couldn't deny how young she really was. She had been in the bath for a long time, her skin was glowing and her face was framed in bubbles from the bath. He took a step into the bathroom and studied his own reflection in the mirror. He was an attractive man for forty, but he couldn't ignore the tired look in his eyes or the crows feet that framed them and every morning he woke up, he swore that he spotted a new silvery hair on the top of his head.
Rose shifted and folded her arms over the edge of the bathtub, resting her chin against the cool porcelain that encircled her. She admired his appearance just as much as he had admired hers. Though his back was to her, she could see the definition of his muscled shoulders and buttocks through his clothing. He moved just so and she caught a glimpse of his visage in the mirror. She admired his square jaw and the stubbled shadow that spread from cheek to cheek. She caught his eyes with her own and felt a warm jolt run through her entire body.
"It's not polite to stare," he teased, his back still facing towards her.
"I could say the same to you," she shot back at him. She retreated to her previous, reclined position in the tub and as she did so, he caught a glimpse of her breasts. He quickly wondered if he had enough self control to keep her from noticing his erection.
"The water's still warm," she s