“Neva, I’m headed into town for a few things. Do you want me to stop by your house for anything?”
“Yes. I’d kill for a clean pair of undies and a clean shirt. I wanted to have a bath earlier, and realized I had nothing clean to put on,” Neva said. “My keys are in my handbag I think. Or, maybe in the car.”
“I’ll find them. Anything specific you want me to grab, or just rifle your dresser and grab the first thing that I bury my nose in?” he teased.
Neva laughed. “Yes, please.” She paused. “On second thought, top dresser drawer, undies and socks. Third drawer, teeshirts. In the closet, jeans and flannel shirts.”
“Alright,” he said and he gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Back soon.”
Neva thought of sitting up to read, she started leafing through the magazines Jesse brought, but fell asleep.
Jesse drove to Neva’s house. He’d found her keys and drivers license, which gave him the address again. Once he got there, he felt odd going into the house, but she wanted clean clothes and he would provide them. Her house was small and filled with books. Books on shelves, piled on the floor, and even in a corner of the couch. He smiled. He found her bedroom, and wasn’t surprised to find more books. He grabbed the top two off of her nightstand as they looked as if they were the ones she was currently reading.
Jesse opened the dresser to find socks and underwear. He grabbed three of each, picked out three teeshirts and then grabbed two pairs of jeans and two flannel shirts which he put in a duffel bag he found in the closet. Then he went into the bathroom and grabbed her shampoo, conditioner, hair brush and facial lotion.
Once he had that stuff, he checked the fridge to see if there was anything turning into a science experiment. Nothing was in danger of growing fur and climbing out, so he left it alone. He glanced around the rest of her house, threw a load of wash in the dryer and then took the bags and left.
Jesse completed his errands, which included some groceries and then headed back to the ranch. He got back later than he expected and after dropping the groceries in the kitchen, ran upstairs to Neva. She was sound asleep, a magazine having dropped from her hand. Jesse smiled, and went back down to the kitchen to make supper.
Neva woke up when she heard a noise. “Jesse must be back,” she thought. Then she looked towards the door and saw her duffel bag. It was a little fuller than a teeshirt, panties and a pair of socks. After a moment, she decided to see what was inside. Standing was easier, but she knew she still needed painkillers. The duffel was heavy and she dragged it back over to the bed where she sat on the edge. Opening it, she found the clothes and her books. In a separate bag, she found the toiletries. Neva smiled. Picking out a teeshirt and panties, she grabbed the toiletries bag and walked towards the bathroom.
“And where do you think you’re going?” asked Jesse from the door.
Neva shrieked. “Damn you scared me!”
“I came up to see if you were awake enough for dinner and here I find you sneaking off to drown in my bathtub.”
“I will not drown! I just want to get clean,” she said.
“Fine, but you can bath on one condition.”
“And what’s that?”
“That I sit here in the bedroom in case you need me. If you get dizzy, I want to be close by,” he said.
Neva thought about it for a minute and then nodded her head. Jesse got her a couple of towels and then excused himself. Neva turned on the water and adjusted the temperature. She dropped her dirty clothes on the floor and carefully climbed into the shower. The last thing she wanted was to get tangled up in the curtain and have to be rescued.
Jesse sat in the bedroom listening to the water, her clothes hitting the floor and then her sigh as the hot water soaked into her skin. Even after all this time, he still thought like a med-tech. It had been part of his job in the Marines. A rather odd mix. Killing people one minute, fixing up the injured the next. He realized he was much better at the later. He used the time she was in the shower to straighten up the bed and put her clothes on the trunk next to the bathroom door. He placed her books on the nightstand on her side of the bed. He’d almost folded up the bag when Neva walked out of the bathroom dressed and with a towel wrapped around her head.
“Yes, except where I cut my head. The shampoo stung, and I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to comb my hair.”
“Let me,” said Jesse. He walked into the bathroom, grabbed a comb from her bag and returned to find her sitting on the end of the bed. He gently toweled her head and then started to comb her hair. It was a dark brown with reddish highlights he noticed, even when wet. He avoided the bruised cut area until the very last. Then he carefully braided her hair into a single plait that ended just below her shoulder blades.
“You’re welcome. Are you hungry?”
“Yes! I think I can make it to the table,” she said.
“Bat those baby brown eyes at me one more time and I’ll let you,” he teased.
Neva batted her eyes.
Dinner was chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans. Neva ate more than she thought she could and then sat sipping coffee while Jesse did the dishes.
“Are you sure I can’t help?” asked Neva.
“No. Just sit there and look good.”
“Oh. Sorry, can’t do that. I’m the ugly duckling of the family,” said Neva.
“I find that hard to believe,” said Jesse.
“No, really. My sister is blonde, blue eyed, thin as a rail and no one cares if she can’t add without taking off her shoes,” said Neva.
Jesse laughed. “Any other siblings?”
“I had a brother and there are two sisters who do their best to make my life complicated,” Jesse said.
“Your brother, the Marine, like you. Did he die fighting?” Neva asked carefully.
“Yes. First Gulf War. Also known as Operation Desert Storm. I don’t know where he was when he got hit, just that his body beat me back to the States. Sealed casket. He’s out on the back pasture with my parents.”
“Oh. I’m sorry Jesse.”
“It’s okay. You’d think after all this time I would be a bit less sensitive.” He turned back to the dishes to give himself breathing space.
Neva stood up and walked over to Jesse. “It’s okay,” she said wrapping her arms around his waist. Jesse turned and wrapped his arms around her, trying to keep his wet hands off of her. The stood like that for a few minutes and then he kissed the top of her head.
“I need to finish the dishes. You go sit down,” he said.
Neva sat down and wondered about Jesse. Then it dawned on her. “The truck. JR. It was your brother’s?”
“Now I think I understand a bit better as to why you want to fix it up here, but were so reluctant to sell it.”
“Yes. However, I think you’ll take good care of it,” said Jesse. He finished the dishes, wiped his hands dry and walked over to Neva. “You up to watching a movie?”
“What do you have in mind?” she asked.
“How about Last of the Dogmen?” he asked.
“Oh. I haven’t seen that one in a long time,” she said with a smile.
They walked out to the living room and curled up on the couch as the movie played. Neva sat next to Jesse and he wrapped his arm around he shoulders. Neva liked the feel of his arm around her. She almost made it to the end of the movie. Just as the helicopter invaded the valley, she began to nod her head. Jesse smiled and just let her sleep. When the movie was over, he woke her gently.
“Hey sleepy head.”
“Oh. I fell asleep. Damn!” she said.
“Yes, and we can watch the end again tomorrow. I know where you drifted off. However, let’s go to bed. I’m tired and I know you need to heal some more. Otherwise you wouldn’t be falling asleep,” he said when she opened her mouth to argue.
Neva brushed her teeth and then crawled into bed. Jesse took a shower and came back into the room with damp hair and sleep pants on. Neva giggled.
“Ah, I take it my sartorial elegance overwhelms you?” he said.
“yes. I’ve never seen Moose and Squirrel sleep pants before.” Neva said with a giggle.
“My sister has a warped sense of humor. I normally don’t wear them, but figured I shouldn’t sleep in my birthday suit on a first sleep over,” Jesse said with a slight blush coloring his tanned face.
“I can understand that. Thank you for being considerate.”
“I apologize in advance for snoring, drooling and hogging the covers. It’s been a while since I slept with anyone.”
“How long?” Neva asked.
“Longer than I care to admit. I also apologize for normal male reactions to females and the typical morning needs.”
“No need. You’re a guy. Besides, I said we could share the bed. Just don’t knock me out of it okay?” Neva said.
“Alright.” Jesse turned off the light and climbed in next to Neva. He curled up on one side and lay there trying to unkink the aches in his body. Then he waited for Neva to get comfortable.
“Jesse, Would you mind if I curled up next to you?” she asked.
“Not at all. Sleep well,” he said as she spooned up to him.