A Gift, a Kiss, and the Truth

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I had planned on staying in my own house that night, but I tell myself I should stay

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I had planned on staying in my own house that night, but I tell myself I should stay. It's better to take a bath in the bone-white marble tub in Rafa's master bathroom than my own tub that has a ring of soap scuzz around the drain.

And it will feel good to swim in the still water of the pool in the morning before work.

Also, Rafa had bought a tin of my favorite ginger-pear tea...

I shuffle up the steps to the second floor. I'd been in the sun too long at the baby shower and feel lightheaded from the day's heat, the massive quantities of sugar, and the endless amounts of caffeine. Regardless, I'm carrying a fat glass of red wine because I'm beyond giving a crap about healthy self-care habits tonight. I set the goblet in the bathroom and run the bath in the oversized whirlpool tub, then head into the bedroom.

I haven't made the bed, and I flop down, the cool cotton soothing my flushed cheeks. The feel of the fabric makes me shiver, and I take in Rafa's scent that still lingers on the bedsheets—his crisp, beachy aftershave mixed with his sweat and the aroma of sex. I idly wonder if his scent will remain in St. Augustine once he goes back to Miami for good. My joints ache when I get up and head to the bathroom.

I strip away my colorful sundress and remove my contacts, putting on my glasses. I pin my long hair up and grimace at myself in the mirror. The dark circles under my eyes are a dead giveaway for the sleepless night, but the faint, dual lines in between my eyebrows are another matter altogether. I trace them with my index finger. Am I too young for Botox? It doesn't matter, because I don't have the money anyway. I sigh, light a candle, and flick off the light.

Rafa had also bought me a bottle of expensive bubble bath that smells like whipped cream, and I pour a capful into the water. I slip into the hot suds, sucking in a breath as I inch into the scalding water. Then I turn off the faucet and allow silence to wash over me. I allow myself a rare moment of nothing, delighting in an empty mind. I try to forget about everything: Rafael, the newspaper, a childless and loveless future.

Shutting my eyes, I half-doze in the warm cocoon of the water. My eyes flutter open when I think I hear a thunk downstairs. Is that the door?

Then, footsteps. My heart quickens, and my eyes sweep around the bathroom for a makeshift weapon.

"Honey, I'm home."

Rafa. No way. In my mind, I picture myself standing in the huge tub, doing a little dance and punching the air.

I sigh and grin at the bubbles, relieved it's him and not an intruder. My heart pounds even faster. 

"Justi, I'm hoooome," he calls out. I laugh out loud. He's returned from Miami two nights early. A surge of glee goes through me.

The bathroom door opens, and Rafael stands there, smiling.

"Now, this is what I like to come home to."

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