Jared eased himself into the bathtub. He sank into the water, keeping a tight grip on the sides of the tub to avoid sliding down too fast. As the hot water engulfed his lower extremities, he breathed in the pungent aroma of Epsom salts. Not exactly the most relaxing odor but the temperature and salts would relieve some of the muscle pain. He straightened his legs to full length and shivered as the cooler air hit his wet chest. The tub in his cousin’s house was not built for a six-foot-two man. Either his legs could be submerged or his upper body, but not both at the same time.
He thought about the apartment over the carriage house on Mary’s property. By the look of her living room and kitchen, not much had been updated since the middle of the last century. That boded well for a claw foot tub in the apartment, one that would allow him to soak his whole body.
A crash sounded outside the bathroom, followed by hurried footsteps. The bathroom door squeaked open and Jared groaned, realizing the lock on the door had refused to catch once again. He grabbed a washcloth to cover his nether regions as a curly haired four-year-old poked her upper body around the door. Anna always managed to find him, no matter where he went in the house.
“Hi, Mr. Q. Whatcha doing?” The little girl stood sucking her thumb, her eyes on Jared.
He repositioned the washcloth and eyed the towel lying on the floor near the girl’s feet. “I’m taking a bath, Anna. Does your mother know you’re in here?”
She took her thumb out of her mouth, giggled, and then stepped further into the bathroom. “No, silly. I’m playing hide and seek. That’s why I’m hiding here.”
Jared blew out an exasperated breath. His move to Mary’s apartment couldn’t come soon enough. Frank and Molly had been very generous letting him stay this long, but Jared knew his presence was becoming a nuisance.
“You’d better scoot on out of here so I can finish my bath.”
She shook her head. “I’m hiding.”
“Don’t I hear your mother calling you?”
Anna cocked her head, her eyes focused on the ceiling. “Nope.”
“Anna!” Thank goodness Molly wanted her daughter at this exact moment. “Where are you?”
Jared watched the girl hop over to the door and turn around to wave at him before opening it and disappearing down the hallway. Jared leaned back in the tub, letting the lukewarm water sooth his battered body. This wasn’t too bad. Then he noticed that Anna had neglected to close the door and his towel had been kicked under the sink, directly in line with the open doorway.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.