I couldn’t stay in the shower all night, but I kept wanting to cry even though I didn’t know what I would be crying about. That Karen existed? That they were communicating? That she was still an obvious part of his life even including his parents? My Parents’ Visit the subject line said, meaning that Madison had written to her about them coming.
But none of that was a bad thing. Karen had been there when Madison’s accident had happened. She and his parents would have been at the hospital together. She was going to be the wife. They had been a family. Tragedies could inspire powerful, lasting bonds. Karen had every right to visit his parents. They had probably asked to see her. How could I be jealous of that? She also had the right to see him—if he wanted her to. And he had that right.
Suddenly I felt silly and petty, and I wanted to cry now because I was mad at myself. Okay—so I wasn’t first. Karen probably hadn’t been first either. Madison was cryptic about his past, but I couldn’t dare think that he didn’t have one. Maybe there was a whole host of emails behind that untouched icon. But it didn’t have to mean anything.
He wasn’t Derrick. The tears pushed up to my eyes again. He wasn’t Derrick I repeated to myself, hiding emails and text messages from assorted women that had in some cases been utter porn. My divorce lawyer had assured me that the discovery was going to help my case, but by the time it was all said and done the correspondence, as the emails and texts were called had worked against me by proving that Derrick had been a lonely frustrated man desperately reaching out for comfort because he felt trapped in a marriage with a frigid wife. I couldn’t forget those words. But Madison wasn’t Derrick. I had no idea what his emails said. And I was not frigid—not with him.
In fact I craved him as much now as before, maybe more. Madison’s hands on me were the best part of any day, even this one, with an email from Karen waiting for him in his in-box. I shut off the water and climbed out of the shower, wrapping myself up in one of the big towels that Tillie, the housekeeper, kept snow-white and Downey-soft. Why imagine the worst when the best was waiting for me?
Rummaging around in my spend-the-night bag I discovered I had forgotten to bring body lotion and I liked to be silky smooth like the commercials said when Madison was about to touch me. Oh well. I could borrow some of his. It wouldn’t leave me smelling sweetly of vanilla, or gardenias, or whatever, but since he used an unscented brand at least I wouldn’t be smelling of Old Spice either. With one last glance in the mirror to make sure my face looked right and ready, I padded down the hall to Madison’s room.
He was in bed, sitting up against the pillows, reading his Kindle, bare-chested, the gold top sheet only up to his waist, leaving the top of his soft belly revealed. Although he still held some reservations about showing and sharing his naked body, Madison had learned to get passed those insecurities for intimacy’s sake. Me too. Who among us didn’t have reservations and-or regrets when it came to being naked? Beauty was in the eye of the beholder.
And when Madison looked up at me a gentle smile spread out from his beautiful lips, filling his face. Instantly I felt wanted and welcomed as always, and this time when I wanted to cry it was because I was happy, and yes, unbeknownst to him, reassured. I was now. He closed the Kindle and set it down on the night stand. For a second or two longer I stood there in the soft light of the bedside lamp, letting Madison look at me while I basked in his gaze.
“Can I borrow some of your body lotion?” I eventually asked. “I forgot mine.”
“Sure,” he replied nodding towards the bathroom. “It’s on the counter.”
Walking like a queen or some kind of super model, and hoping that the towel wouldn’t fall and spoil the effect, I crossed the room and went into the bathroom for the lotion, feeling Madison’s eyes on me all the time and enjoying it. Red and delicious, I reminded myself, and now so juicy I could hear it as well as feel it.
“Paige,” Madison called to me.
“Yes?” I answered returning to stand in the doorway between the bathroom and bedroom, the bottle of lotion in my hand.
“Let me do it.”
“Do what?” I asked.
But anything he wanted to do of course.
“The lotion,” Madison said. “I want to rub it on you.”
Being a new thing, the request caught me off guard, but a second a later I was excitedly looking forward to it. I shut off the bathroom light and went to him bringing the lotion.
“Give me the bottle,” Madison said and I did. “You may want a pillow,” he suggested pushing one towards me.
I took the pillow but I wasn’t sure what to do next.
“Lie down,” he instructed. “And put your feet in my lap.”
I was a bit horrified being unable to remember the last time I had had a professional pedicure. Such luxuries no longer fit in my budget. I trimmed my own nails, feet and hands, and I almost never polished them, because I tended to make a mess when I did. And although I was pretty serious about moisturizing my feet I was in fact very lax about using the pumice stone, and I went barefoot every chance I got. There was even a corn on my right little toe where my work loafer tended to rub by the end of a shift. Now Madison was about to be touching these feet callouses, corn, and all. Gone was my affected regal bearing from just a few minutes ago. But oh well, in for a penny in for a pound. It was too late to turn back now, so I did what he asked. Lying down at a slight angle to him, I put my head on the pillow and my feet on his lap.
Then I watched him pump dollops of the lotion into his hands and begin to massage it into the skin of my feet slowly, alternating between each of them, pressing the heels of his palms into my soles and behind my toes in such a way as to undo all of my uneasiness. Adding more lotion he moved to the tops of my feet, his calloused palms made softer now, gliding over my skin, and his curled fingers like feathers touching me.
“If I’d known this was going to happen,” I said apologetically. “I would have gotten a pedicure.”
“Why?” Madison asked, massaging my soles again, his expression content.
“Your feet are beautiful, Paige.”
“They’re big. And rough.”
Our eyes met but I was quiet.
“They feel good in my hands, Paige,” continued Madison. “Strong.”
Applying more lotion, he moved up to my ankles, pressing them between his hands.
“You know,” he said, “there was a time when a woman’s bare ankles were considered more risqué than her exposed breasts. Yours have a nice line, the way your calves taper into them, sleek and resilient.” He paused and had me scoot closer, so that my legs were across his lap. “I’d say you have dancer’s legs,” he told me, stroking the length between my knees and ankles. “No marathons,” he smiled. “But you can boogie all night.”
I smiled too. It had been a long time since I had heard anybody actually say boogie.
“Did you like to dance?” I asked tentatively, hopeful that the natural follow-up question was okay.
“Not really,” Madison casually answered. “Not the modern dances anyway. Always had the feeling I looked goofy. Too stiff. And there wasn’t much demand for the Foxtrot or the waltz.”
“Ballroom dancing?” I giggled. “Really, Madison?”
But why should I be surprised? He drove a Buick and listened to Frank Sinatra. In a lot of ways, he was pretty old-fashioned, corny, but gallant too, and so thrillingly refreshing. I could see him gliding across some polished floor, in a union hall no doubt, the noble idealist with a passionate radical in his arms.
“Hey—don’t scoff,” chuckled Madison, gently working my calf muscles with his palms. “I could have been quite dashing in the nineteenth century.”
“You’re pretty dashing now,” I said.
God—I was in love with him. In the words of Beyoncé, he had me lookin’ so crazy right now. But it was a calm kind of crazy, one I settled into with delight, the earlier email message fading further and further away, as I let myself concentrate on the sensation of Madison’s hands: the strong, slightly rough feel of his palms, the blunt impression of his soft knuckles, and the delicate trace of his fingers as they came behind bringing his own manicured nails. I savored every part of the experience. It was the frottage, and more wonderful than I had ever imagined it.
“Your judgment’s impaired,” replied Madison, as he slipped his hand up my thigh just passed the edge of the towel and no further, but nevertheless stealing my breath.
I was now so swollen with anticipation that I ached, craving his touch inside of me, but instead of that Madison asked me sit between his legs as he moved them apart to make a space. “I’ll do your back,”he said. I complied scooting in close, my dancer’s legs out-stretched between his which remained covered by the sheet.
“The towel,” Madison needed to remind me.
My hands were shaky as I timidly loosened it and allowed it to drop into a bunch around my waist. I wasn’t fashionably thin, but I was okay, hard-work-worthy I liked to think, as if I were more suitable for a farm. In any case, I seldom got physically tired on the Target sales floor. But alas as Bridget Jones had recorded in her diary, I did have my wobbly bits.
The air was cool on my fully exposed back before Madison began to touch me again. Your back almost never got any moisturizer especially if you lived alone or had no one. I luxuriated in his slow, deliberate strokes. Yes! So crazy right now. There were the hot contractions of my vaginal walls, but beyond that I was mostly nothing but a warm liquid, placid and seemingly boneless. He could have poured me into any mold and I would have taken its shape.
“You have a birthmark,” Madison noted.
Pulling me to him he pressed his lips against the dark mark on the back of my shoulder. Little sparkles spread out from the place where his lips met my skin lighting up my whole body, as he followed that caress with more kisses along the back of my neck. He slipped his hands down my arms and then brought them back up to my waist, pausing to hold me tightly against him, before cupping my naked breasts, lifting and squeezing them gently.
“Bare ankles, bare breasts,” he breathed into my ear as he tenderly circled my eager nipples with the insides of his wrists. “Miss Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?”
I leaned into him, and the tiny sounds I made were blends of agony and ecstasy. My breaths came rapidly, shallowly, and I was trembling. But it must not be time to climax, not now, when I had done nothing but receive and enjoy. Yet waves were rushing up from the soles of my pampered feet and down from my crazy-in-love head, meeting in the middle of me, and pouring out.