“Ben, something’s in my pants.”
He dropped the basket to the ground. “What is it?”
“I don’t know, but…ouch! It stung me!” She froze. “Afraid if she moved an inch either direction whatever it was would sting her again. “I think it’s a bee.”
“What does the sting feel like?”
“Are you serious? A sting! Like someone shot a staple into my butt.” Tears came to her eyes.
“Drop your pants, Cara.” He was beside her in a flash.
The back of her thigh started to throb in pain but she continued to stare at him in confusion. “I’m not dropping my pants.” She was mortified.
“If it’s a wasp, it’ll sting you again,” he warned.
Fear washed over her, but not from the wasp. If she pulled down her pants he would see her panties, not the pretty, lace ones she wore once upon a time. Not the panties she knew men like Ben wanted to see on a woman. Cara’s panties certainly wouldn’t be found in a sexy lingerie shop. These were the comfy panties—as she liked to call them—she started wearing when James continually told her how fat she was getting. They didn’t cover up enough for her liking.
Had she gone mad?
And why did she care one hoot what underwear she was wearing? If Ben didn’t like them, then so what!
She smiled. Wow! She was getting the aggressive thing down. Deirdre would be proud.
“Do you need some help?” he asked.
She smacked his hand away. “No. I’ll do it, but you have to turn your head.”
“Cara, we don’t have time for this. Is it not processing that you could be stung again? This is for emergency reasons only.” The sincerity in his expression made it easier to do what she knew must be done.
Unbuttoning and unzipping her jeans, he was polite enough to keep his gaze on her face as she slowly slid the denim down her hips and thighs, slipping them to her knees. All of James’s cruel and degrading verbal assaults crawled through her mind as she stood there, partially naked. He had been the only man who’d seen her without clothes. And he’d never liked what he saw.
“Where did it sting you, sweetheart?” His gentle voice soothed her—a little.
“On my thigh, the back.”
“Turn and let me take a look.” His gaze slipped past her chest, her stomach and she crossed her, vulnerability easing through her. “If it’s a bee sting you could still have the stinger in your skin, which could cause infection. We can’t let that happen. You’re in Nirvana and that bee just wanted a little taste of honey.”
How did he do that? How did he make everything seem okay? How did he make her concerns seem ridiculous? In actuality, her fears were silly. She was being silly. James was gone and she was moving on. The internal scars were fading.
Reluctantly, she turned and closed her eyes. His breath rushed from his lungs and she jerked. Then he was quiet for the longest time. Was he silently gawking at her large butt or her huge thighs? She’d never claimed to be a supermodel and never wanted to be. She read in a magazine that men liked juicy butts, but what exactly did ‘juicy’ mean? Seconds turned into a minute. She started to turn back but he stopped her with a hand on her waist. “What is it, Ben?”
“It’s definitely a bee sting, darlin’.” His voice was smooth as silk.
“Then get it out fast. This is awkward standing here with my pants down around my ankles.”
“Well, sweetheart, there’s a problem.”