A Little Help

Janet Rivenbark

Catherine had managed to do everything she had to do so far, even with two fingers on her left hand bandaged. She had been able to type, albeit one handed, cook, eat, take a shower and change her clothes. But now she needed to wash her hair and she wasn't sure how to go about it. Of course it would be so much easier if she didn't have an earache left over from her bout with the flu. Maybe if she hadn't had the earache she might not have been so distracted and smashed her fingers in the car door. But that was neither here nor there. She was due in court tomorrow and she had to wash her hair.

She had called her hairdresser, but on this short notice, she couldnít get an appointment.

"I hate to think I had anything to do with putting that frown on your face." Vincent appeared at the open balcony doors, then surprised her by entering the room and shortening the distance between them. He was so close she could feel the heat from his body through her shirt. It was hard to think when he was this close.

"I have to be in court tomorrow and I need to wash my hair. I don't know if I can manage it." She held up her hand.

Vincent caught her hand lightly and inspected the fingers and the dressing. "I felt your pain this morning," he said. "What happened?"

"I was distracted. My ear is still bothering me and I was trying to keep my scarf over it as I was getting in the taxi. My coordination failed me and I closed the door on my hand. I might be able to wash my hair one handed, in the shower, but I would get water in my ear, and Iím sure that wouldnít help the earache."

"Have you been to see Peter?" he asked as he took off his cloak and dropped it over the back of one of the small couches.

"For the hand or the ear?" she asked.

"Either. Both," he said with a smile.

"Both actually. My fingers arenít broken, just bruised and a bit cut up, and he gave me some drops and some pills for my ear and told me to take aspirin for the pain. Ear and fingers."

"I might be able to help you with your hair," he suggested confidently. "Iíve helped shampoo the children many times. Besides, I wouldnít want you getting chilled and having a relapse," he added with a small smile.

He had been very good to her during her illness. He had brought her soup and tea, had sat with her reading or talking, even brought her the medicine Peter had sent.

"If you think you can handle it," she gave him a playful smile "I would very much appreciate it."

"Get what you need and Iíll see you in the kitchen."

It was amazing at how much more comfortable he was in her apartment since heíd stayed with her while she was sick. She entered the kitchen few minutes later. Sheíd removed the shirt and was wearing only her tank top and she carried her shampoo, conditioner and a couple towels. He took it all from her and set up like Father preparing for surgery. One towel went over the front edge of the sink as a cushion and the other went to the side for later. The water was running and he had set a tall stool in front of the kitchen sink for her to sit on so she could just lean back over the sink.

"Test the water and make sure it's the right temperature," he told her. He had removed his vest and had pushed up the sleeves of his sweater; she noticed he had very nice arms.

"Now sit here," he ordered, patting the top of the stool, "and lean back, face up. It will be much easier to wash if we actually get you near the water."

"Very funny." She couldn't help but laugh. "Just don't let any water get in my ears."

"Iíll be careful." He reassured her. "Now lean back. I won't let you fall."

The warm water felt good as it hit her head, but his hands felt even better as he used the sprayer to wet her hair and then ran his fingers through her hair to make sure it was completely wet; his touch firm but still gentle.

"Just close your eyes," his voice seemed more soothing than usual. "We wouldn't want any soap getting into them."

She did and she relaxed, resting her shoulders on the edge of the sink, grateful for his body, strong beside hers. He leaned across her to get the shampoo, and she couldn't help but breathe deeply; taking in his scent. He had often held her in his arms, and helped her with things, but never anything quite this intimate.

Squirting some of the shampoo into his hand, he began with the top of her head. The luxury of having someone else washing her hair was one she didnít indulge in very often anymore. Her hairstyle didnít warrant frequent cuts, and she was usually in a hurry and washed it herself and only had the hairdresser trim it.

"It smells good," he said, as he rubbed the creamy liquid into the strands of her hair. "It smells like you."

She didnít answer right way; she felt a bit weak. "Itís a special formula I buy at a boutique around the corner from work," she finally managed.

He didn't comment, he just kept massaging her head with one hand, while his other hand supported her neck.

She was soon lulled by the rhythm of his hand running through her hair and the sound of the water running in the sink. Her eyes were closed, not because of the danger of getting shampoo in them, but because she was just so relaxed. She couldn't remember a massage ever feeling as good as this. The hand that was supporting her head, touching her neck seemed to be kneading her muscles and a delicious warmth washed over her. She wanted to stay right here forever.

He used the sprayer to rinse and repeated the whole process, then he rinsed again.

"What is this other bottle?" he asked

"Conditioner. It helps with the knots and snarls, and keeps my hair soft. You just need to put a little bit, about the size of a quarter, in your hand, rub it between them then smooth it through and rinse again."

He followed her instructions, "It smells like the shampoo," he commented.

"Layering scent," she murmured. "My body lotion and perfume are very similar, so I smell good all day."

"You certainly do," he commented as he did the final rinse and reached for the towel.

The relationship she had with Vincent was almost perfect. She loved him and they were the best of friends, spending as much time together as possible. He often helped her with her the work she brought home from the office; sometimes catching points in witness statemens that she missed. They often read to each other, and she helped him correct papers for his classes, but he had never done anything quite this personal for her before, at least not since she left the tunnels after her initial stay.

His hand was keeping a dribble of water from running down her forehead and his touch felt good on her skin. He ran a finger down behind her ear, careful not to let the water get near it, and he seemed to linger as he tried to untangle a piece of hair from around her ear. It had quite an effect on her body and she felt warm all over, almost tingly. It was delightful, and yet at the same time, a little overwhelming. She felt her heart beating in places she wasnít accustomed to feeling it and she was doing her best to keep him from feeling what she was feeling.

Sheíd known for some time that she was in love with him, but she was shocked at the arousal, the feel of the dull but steady ache that started deep inside of her at his touch. Suddenly, her breasts felt too tight and she wished she was wearing something more than the tank top. She might be small breasted, but right now she knew her nipples were very noticeable.

"This has to stop!" she admonished herself silently. He was washing her hair as a favor and here she was being turned on by it. She hoped she was successfully blocking the Bond. She had to tell him to stop. Right now! He mustn't know what his good deed was doing to her. If he did, heíd be mortified and would probably bolt back to the tunnels as fast as he could. The feel of his hand on her neck was making her want to alleviate the lower ache that wasn't so dull anymore; and his gentle massage of her scalp was causing her to want other parts of her body, more intimate parts, touched, to have his hand where her bra should be.

"Vincent." She reached out to touch his arm and he leaned in to hear what she had to say, his hair falling round them both, his body brushing against hers. It was then that she felt him, felt the proof that maybe she wasnít blocking the Bond so well, or maybe he was just feeling the same things she was and she shivered at the very thought of it.

Vincent was too busy with his own thoughts to take much notice of what was happening to Catherine. He was finishing the final rinse, but was distracted by what was happening to his body.

"I think all the conditioner is rinsed out," he said abruptly, noticing her eyes were now riveted to his, "We can dry it now." He had gone against his own rules. He was supposed to be to washing her hair, doing a good deed for a friend. He was not supposed to become intimately aroused by the feel of her skin on his or the way his fingers felt massaging her head and scalp.

"Very good idea," she said, trying not to wince as he leaned over her once more to get the towel he had left on the other side of the sink, and she could have sworn her nipples popped up even more at the light brush of his arm.

"Catherine," he said, in a voice that seemed rather breathless; surely it was her imagination. She waited for him to continue, but he didn't say anything more, just began squeezing excess water out of her hair, careful to not let any of it get near her ears.

She sat as still as she possibly could, trying not think about how his hands felt against her scalp, how expertly his fingers moved over her head, how good he felt leaning over her as he made sure every bit of excess water was removed.

He was all man, something she had found to be quite apparent from the beginning, despite his unusual looks and how he thought of himself, but now being so close under quite different circumstances than were usual; it seemed to fairly scream at her. His chest was broad, he filled out his jeans well, and his muscled arms were magnificent under his rolled up sleeves. She had always been a sucker for a well-built man with rolled up sleeves, she reminded herself. It always made her want to know what was under the rest of his clothing.

"I think you can sit up so we can dry it now," he said rather quickly, that being another real clue that he was not getting through this unaffected either.

"Yes," she nodded, despairing at the thought of him removing his hand from the back of her head, or his body from her side.

Dare she think it; let a little of it edge through the Bond? She wanted him. Oh did she want him! "I can dry it myself," she offered, holding out her good hand to take the towel. He held it back and shook his head.

"No, I've started this, I believe I should finish it. But let me help you to a chair."

She nodded. "Yes, that would be a good idea," she said aloud while thinking to herself "Oh yes, finish it! Donít I wish!"

Still clasping the towel in one hand, he removed the other hand from the back of her head and brought it around to her waist. He guided her to a kitchen chair, his eyes watching her body as she sat and he eased over directly behind her. Little rivulets of water were running down her forehead and neck and dampening her tank top. She saw him swallow and his Adam's apple bob not once, but twice.

Reaching out he steadied her, then began to towel dry her hair. He tried not to look at her or her damp tank top. She hadnít noticed until just then that the dampness from water dribbling down had made it almost transparent in places, and she wasnít wearing bra.

"Oh God!" she groaned silently. Today she was in fine shape. Her nipples were perkier than she had ever seen them, even on the coldest day, and her breasts looked perfectly round and full even to her eyes. He was being a perfect gentleman and trying not to look and for some reason that annoyed her. She wanted him to look. She wanted him to touch, to feel andÖ "Vincent..." She said his name in a choked whisper. "Vincent, please."

He gave her hair one more good rub with the towel, then draped it over her shoulders and gave her a weak smile. "I think that should take care of it. Do you need help with the hair dryer, or can you mange it?"

"I can handle it." She assured him, running the fingers of her uninjured hand through her hair, trying to tame it down a little more; grateful he had not mentioned the obvious display of wantonness on her part and yet angry that he had not. "Thank you very much."

"It was my pleasure." He nodded. She returned to the living room and he followed. He picked up his cloak as if to go, but he remained standing in the middle of the room, his blue eyes looking deep into hers. Then they slowly moved down her body; his look of appreciation bolder than sheíd ever seen from him.

"Vincent" she said his name again and he gave her a smile.

"Itís not that I donít want too," he began quietly, as if reading her mind. "Iíve never wanted anything more. Itís just that if we cross that line, then we canít go back."

"I donít want to go back," she whispered, pulling the towel a little tighter to cover herself. She gave him a small smile. "IÖI want to cross that line with youÖI have for a long time."

"Are you sure? Because you know, Catherine, if we give in to this, everything will change. We will no longer just be friends, we will be lovers. Do you really want to establish that kind of connection with someone who doesnít even exist in your world?"

"Thatís just a technicality." She shook her head. "I donít care about any of that. Do you think I enjoy going out with other men? I only go because you said I should. I love you, Vincent Wells, and I want you." She had thought she could never say those last words to him, but they came out quite easily.

"You love me." He repeated her words tenderly. "I think I knew that even before you told me the first time; Iíve known for a very long time, and Iíve known that I love you for even longer."

That was all she needed to hear. Smiling, she crossed the room to him, her embarrassment forgotten as she moved into his arms and pressed her body to his, almost forgetting her taped fingers. He held them tenderly, kissing them then placing them on his shoulder, before leaning down to kiss her.

It was what he knew it should be. He expected his first taste of her to be sweet and it did not disappoint. Tasting her lips, touching her body, was better than heaven. He knew he would never be able to go back.

Once more his mouth moved over hers, his hand reached down to cup her breast. She noticed that she fit in his hand as though she were made just for that and she let herself ride on the wave of desire radiating out from that point. His hands were moving slowly, tentatively on her body and she desperately wanted him to take care of that ache that had grown so persistent.

"Please," she said again, knowing she sounded anxious, and not caring. He picked her up and carried her into the darkened bedroom without hesitation. Now that they had decided it was time, he didnít want anything to get in their way.

They didnít take their time, their need was too immediate. They didnít bother with a leisurely undressing of each other. They each removed their own clothing. She was wearing less and was bare before he was, so she was able to sit back on the bed and enjoy watching him. Their first lovemaking was needy and quick. His touches were tentative, but as he felt her pleasure through the Bond he became more sure.

He was afraid that he would climax too soon; before he even fully entered her. The sensation was exquisite, but he concentrated on her pleasure and as the first wave of an orgasm flooded over her he couldnít hold his off any longer. The waves crashed over them; over and over.

Catherine was lost in the sensation; her body shaking with the ecstasy and it was hard to imagine that was actually him there with her; in her.

Afterwards she lay her head on his chest and he stroked her still damp, tangled hair, whispering her name like a chant. They both dozed.

They woke much later, completely sated for the time being. They lay in the bed, nothing between them. She was stretched out on her stomach, nearly on top of him, her head cradled on his chest, his hands holding her bottom in his firm grasp.

"Did we leave the water running?" she suddenly asked as he laughed. "For the life of me, I can't seem to remember."

"I distinctly remember turning if off, Catherine." His hands ran up her back, lifting her onto him. "We wouldnít want to use up all the hot water; we might need it later."

"I hope so," she said as he started to love her again.