She wanted a ... bath. He remembered the word because 'twas so abhorrent to him.
As a boy, he'd been washed by the master's other slaves, had been wholly dunked in water as he'd choked and sputtered. He'd screamed with fear over the bathing, as much as anything else that the master had done to him.
Malkom would never forget the heavy, alien feel of li"uid over him, or how the lye soap had burned his eyes like fire.
To this day, he'd never submerged himself.
She mimicked washing her arms. "A bath?"
Yet another habit of hers that was so similar to the vampires'.
Was this another of her conditions? Then afterward, she might do more than coldly offer her hand? She'd wanted to give him that release but to deny him the feel of her body - and he'd resented it.
Even as his member had swelled for her soft palm...
"Water? To bathe?" Now she mimicked pouring water over her head.
Oh, yes, wherever she hailed from, she was from a family of wealth - lots of it. He knew this with all the conviction of one who'd spent most of his life without any. He wouldn't doubt if she were a noble, or even a royal.
Here a carafe of water could buy a slave - and she wanted a barrel's worth of it.
Yet now he was rich in water, could afford her extravagances. When he nodded, motioning for her to follow him, her eyes lit up and she swiftly collected her pack.
Grabbing his pickax, he led her to an area with a bowl depression that had a retaining wall bricked around it. In olden times, the ceiling ten feet above had been pierced at intervals, tapped for the gathering pool beneath.
He stood on the retaining wall and lifted the ax above his head. After a couple of practiced swings at the ceiling, warm water sprang from the rock, trickling into the pool.
She gave a delighted cry as the level began to rise, and he lifted his chin proudly.
"More," she murmured in Anglish. She clasped her hands together in that gesture of pleading.
Though it would eventually fill up the large crater, could he deny her when she asked so sweetly? He was already anxious from his nearness to the water, but when he thought about her disrobing completely - with him watching - he yanked off his chainmail, took up his ax once more, and hacked at the ceiling.
Ah, Hekate, the way his body moves.
His back was bare, the skin damp, and as he swung that ax with such ease, his muscles flexed sensuously.
When a bead of sweat dripped down along his spine, she imagined tracing its path with her finger. The first time she'd ever desired to touch him.
Was she actually attracted to a brute like him?
Maybe. But she was just so delighted with him right now. She knew this much water was akin to her bathing in a vat of gold dust at home, and the pool he'd taken her to was perfect, large and oblong, probably waist-deep in the center when filled.
Streams of water rained down from the rock ceiling, spilling from the places he'd pierced, as if from low-pressure showerheads.
When he put down the ax and glanced back, she was biting her bottom lip. From the way he gazed at her eyes, she guessed her irises were sparkling with her interest.
In return, she saw pride in his blue eyes - but she also sensed his underlying dis"uiet. From the extravagance?
Steam rose from the surface of the pool, reclaiming her attention. She tested it with her fingertips, finding it an ideal bathing temperature. "Thank you, Malkom. But now I need some privacy." She shooed him away again. "You can come back for your turn."
In answer, he crossed his arms and gave a grunt.
"Not going anywhere, huh? Fine." Carrow wasn't shy. A confirmed eighty thousand people had seen her naked. And that YouTube vid was still going strong!
With a shrug, she sat on the rock wall by the water, emptying her toiletries from the PX. As expected, she'd needed them more than a frigging flashlight. Silly little mortals, step aside, and let the enchantress do like she do.
As the water deepened, she plucked out her toothbrush and toothpaste. Frowning at the tube, she said, "This was full when I left. Demon, did you eat some of my toothpaste?" At his studiously blank look, she sighed. "You ate my toothpaste? Well, at least you left half." She loaded the bristles and began brushing while he watched in fascination.
He looked so curious that once she'd finished up, she mimicked brushing his teeth. "Brusha, brusha, brusha?" Surprisingly, he seemed ... interested.
So she signaled for him to sit beside her. When he shook his head, she clasped her hands to her chest. Please.
In a grousing tone, he muttered in Demonish, but he did hesitantly sit on the very edge of the pool.
"Here, bare your teeth." To illustrate, she drew her lips back, smiling broadly. "Come on, demon. Baring your fangs? Shouldn't be so strange for you."
Once he did, she carefully ran the brush over his front teeth, letting him get used to the feeling. Since he hadn't bitten anything or growled, she grew more aggressive, going dental hygienist on him.
He had nice even teeth, surprisingly white. In a way, even his fangs were sexy. Because his second bite aroused you. Shut up, inner Carrow!
"There, demon. All done - "
"You swallowed it? Gross!" He scowled at her tone. "No more big-kids' Crest for you until you learn to spit." She clucked her tongue. "Well, now your teeth are clean, but the rest of you is caked in dust. Hair hanging all in your face. I wonder if you'd let me cut it? Maybe even shave you? Or would you growl and snap?"
She gingerly lifted a lock of his dirt-coated hair and made a scissors motion. "Can I cut it?" She figured he would put up resistance, thought his kind probably favored having their hair long as per some warrior demon code. But after a hesitation, he gave a nod. So if there was no reason not to cut it, why hadn't he?
Because he's a guy? With no women around, any male she knew would be kicked back in a beer-stained Barcalounger parked in front of a TV, wearing stale track shorts and absently scratching himself.
Now this male was actually going to let her do an extreme makeover, demon edition. Not bothering to hide her excitement, she said, "I'll be right back," then hurried to the soldiers' packs. She grabbed some T-shirts to use as cloths, a comb, a disposable razor, and man soap. She found small shears on the all-purpose knife.
When she returned, he'd already moved off the wall, a wary look in his eyes.
She sat once more, lining up her gear, then patted the stone for him to come sit.
He hesitated before rejoining her.
"Okay, demon. Step one: hair. Commencing." By the time she'd finished unbraiding the ravels, he was nearly "uaking. Sensing this was a very delicate time, she moved gingerly. The nervous cast to his eyes made her believe he was allowing her more than he ever had another.
Carrow felt like she was plucking a thorn from a lion's paw.
Though she had to be hurting him as she attempted to work a comb through his gritty tangles, the demon never winced, never made a sound. In fact, he was growing aroused.
His eyes kept returning to her breasts, and he was getting that heavy-lidded look that said he was imagining right then what he'd like to be doing with them. Apparently, the demon was a breast man.
"Eyes forward, demon," she said.
A halfhearted growl in response.
Conceding defeat against the knots, she began to cut some of the worst ones away. Then she shortened his hair in the back to just above where his collar would be - if he wore one.
But when she sheared around his horns, he clenched the rock beneath him. Carrow knew how sensitive a demon's horns were, and this one's were growing, lengthening. His neck went red, and he'd begun to sweat.
When she accidentally brushed one of the hard appendages, the rock beneath his hands crumbled. She glanced at the destruction - and his erection - nervously. "Malkom?"
He gave a nod. 'Sokay.
She cautiously began again. Once she finished trimming around his face, she drew back for a better look. "Big improvement." Yes, his face was still filthy, streaked with camo paint, and covered with stubble, but she could see the basics for attractiveness were there.
Her curiosity was killing her. How far would he let her go? "Now for the rest of you." She ripped one of the T-shirts into four cloths, then lathered soap on one. "This is soap. Your new best friend."
When she ran the sudsy material over his forehead, he closed his eyes, as if savoring even this small contact. She scrubbed the thick layer of dust, revealing tan, smooth skin. Who would've thought it? His brows were light brown with a golden cast.
So help her, if Pig-Pen was a blond...
She washed his upper cheeks and his slightly crooked nose, then lathered the rest of his face. She'd never shaved another before - other than for eyebrow pranks - but she figured she couldn't make him look worse than he already did.
So she nervously pulled the razor down his lean cheek. By the fifth drag of the razor, she muttered, "I am a regular 'enry 'iggins." Everything revealed under the disappearing paint and stubble ... was gorgeous.
Once she'd finished and wiped down his face, her lips parted. My gods, he's turned up hot.
The demon had high, broad cheekbones, with shadowed indentations under them. His lips were firm, the bottom one fuller. His jawline was strong, overtly masculine, and his stubborn chin had a cleft in the center. She'd known his bone structure was good, but damn. Even his bruiser nose had a rakish cast when taken with his face as a whole.
"Demon?" He wouldn't look at her, and she thought he was holding his breath.
He wanted her to find him attractive, was anxious about it. Which made him seem so normal, vulnerable even, which in turn made her soften toward him.
Before she could think better of it, she cupped his cheek. With undisguised admiration, she murmured, "I don't know what muster is, but you pass it like crazy, big guy."
Now he glanced up. They gazed at each other for long moments. Was she so superficial that his ultimate reveal made him that much more sympathetic to her?
Well, it didn't hurt.
Yet she was also intrigued by his calmness and his cooperation, the steady clarity of his blue eyes. No longer were they black with bloodlust or rage. This demon was trusting her, and she responded to that.
Just then, a trickle of soapy water ran into his eye. His gaze still locked on her face, he didn't even blink.
"Oh, demon! Here." She pressed a dry cloth to it. "Sorry about that."
She almost didn't notice him reaching a shaking hand toward her breasts until too late, but she swiftly backed away. "Ah-ah, we're only halfway done."
Carrow knew she played a dangerous game. Tonight, she intended to release a little of his steam - to show him what he was getting out of their deal. She was ready to pay the piper but had only budgeted so much from her pocketbook. Could he restrain himself?
If not, she believed she had enough power to do a shocker spell on him. She hoped.
In any event, he needed to be clean. Since she'd be rooming with him, she'd tidy him up, just as she had his lair. She was determined to wash every inch of his big body, humming "at the car wash" while soaping him up from tires to grille.
With that plan in mind, she unzipped her skirt, letting it fall to her ankles. Wearing only her halter, bra, and thong, she stepped into the now knee-deep water.
Once she faced him again, he looked dumbstruck, running his hand over his mouth.
When she beckoned to him with a grin, he glanced over both shoulders. Then he hiked a thumb at himself with his cleft chin proudly raised.
And Carrow thought, I think I just fell into like with him.