Hopeless: Chapter 25


Beau: Just got home. Where are you?

Bailey: How do most guys like a girl to have her pubic hair?

Beau: Bailey, honest to god. You can’t just lead with things like this.

Bailey: Can you just tell me? It’s hard to know. In porn, it’s nothing at all. But I know porn isn’t real life. So like, what am I supposed to do? What’s the norm out there?

Beau: Whatever you like best. Any guy who holds a strong opinion on how you style your pubic hair doesn’t deserve to be between your legs.

Bailey: So maybe a triangle or a strip? I can’t decide.

Beau: Decide some other time. When it doesn’t involve me.

Bailey: It’s the final hour over here. I’m in the bath. Razor in hand.

Beau: Why do you insist on asking me things like this?

Bailey: Because you’ve presumably seen a lot of pussies.

Beau: Bailey, just stop.

I thought I was tired when I walked in the door. A sleepless night of mending Peaches followed by a very real kiss with my very fake fiancée means I slept like shit. Then I got up early to work with my very grumpy brother all fucking day.

I’m wrung out. Fried, if I’m being honest. Delirious maybe. I’ve never been as tired as I am at this moment, and that’s saying something for someone who was stranded in a cave in Afghanistan for several days.

But knowing Bailey is naked in my bath, asking for my input on how she shaves?

I pace my house, trying not to think about it. I go to the fridge and eye up a beer because I know it will take the edge off. But I don’t know if I can handle it. I thought 2:11 was wigging me out, but I think Bailey might be fucking with my head more than anything else.

I grab a can of kombucha instead. It’s beer-like—that’s what I keep telling myself—and healthy. The popping sound of it opening is satisfying, but the first sip is not. I’m still jittery.

I need a shower after a long day moving cattle from one quarter to the next. Yes, a shower. I head upstairs and go straight past the door where I know Bailey is in the bath.

“Hi. I’m home. Going to have a shower,” I call out loud enough that she can hear.

“Okay.” Her voice is crystal clear, so feminine as it echoes back.

Yeah. This shower will have to be cold. And it is. I leave it freezing as I step into the glass box. I take my can of kombucha with me, a million times less satisfying than a shower beer. In fact, almost everything about my life right now feels unsatisfying.

Everything except for Bailey.

She’s a breath of fresh air. She’s excitement, and innocence, and a purpose all wrapped up in one. I missed her today. I couldn’t wait to get home and see her. I spent all day sitting on the back of a horse plotting out ways to kiss her again.

And she’s down the hall. Asking me how to shave her pubic hair after recently telling me there is so much we can do that isn’t sex.

I lather and scrub the dirt from the day off my body. The only contact I make with my dick is to wash it quickly. If I linger there too long, I know what I’ll end up doing. And I don’t want to be the weird guy who jerks off while the younger girl he’s supposed to help is having a bath just a couple of doors down.

Shaving her pubic hair.

Before I have time to overthink it, I’m out of the shower, the can of shitty replacement beer forgotten on the tiled shelf, wrapping a towel around my waist.

Before I have time to talk myself out of it, I’m standing at the door of her bathroom, knocking lightly.


“Did you decide which one?”

I hear a light chuckle on the other side.

“No. I’m still considering my options.”

“What are the options?” I shake my head at myself, one arm propped high on the doorframe, opposite hand pressed flat on the door. In no time at all, I went from don’t be the creepy guy to this.

“Are you going to make me shout them to you through the closed door?”

“Are you inviting me in?” I volley back.

There’s a beat of silence and then a simple, “Yes.”

I swallow, assessing myself. My speeding heart rate, the towel tied tightly around my waist, my wet hair dripping down onto my bare shoulders. I probably look just as out of control as I feel.

Not for the first time, the promise of Bailey makes me totally impulsive.

I reach for the door handle, turn it, and walk straight into the bathroom. The air is thick with humidity, coating the mirror in a light layer of steam, and everything smells like lavender. Bailey’s tiny head pops up out of a heaping pile of bubbles. The way she has twisted her hair on top of her head matches their shape.

She looks fucking perfect in the massive, oversized bath—rosy cheeks, eyes a little glassy, and her lips tipped up. The earthy tile surround matches the tones of her hair and skin so well. If I didn’t know any better, I would say I designed this bathroom knowing how perfect she’d look in my tub.

My eyes snag on the pink razor resting beside a fresh white bar of soap on the tub’s ledge.

“I definitely thought you’d be too chickenshit to come in here,” she taunts with a smirk. The water shifts beneath the bubbles. No doubt her hands are moving under the water.

“You don’t know me that well, Bailey,” I reply, shutting the door behind me.

Her eyes race over my body, eating up every inch of bare flesh.

“I know you’re scared of losing control around me.” Her chin tips up as though she’s told me something that will make me back down. Run me off.

It doesn’t.

“No, I’m scared of you becoming something I can’t live without.”

She sucks in a breath as I stalk confidently toward her.

“I’m scared of taking something I don’t deserve, something we both know will lead to a bigger mess than we’re already in.”

I kneel beside the bath, propping my elbows on the edge and staring her down.

“This isn’t a mess—”

“I’m scared of having to go to work tomorrow and spending all day with a hard-on because I’m wondering if you went for a triangle or strip.”

All she does is stare back and breathe heavily as I reach into the hot, soapy water and trail a hand over her thigh to her knee. Leaning closer, I whisper against her ear, “And I’m fucking scared of what I’ll do when the day comes I find out some other fucker gets to help you decide these things.”

She regards me carefully, arms propped on the ledge, breaths even but shallow, dark eyes sparkling like the river at 2:11. My palm slides up and down her thigh, never going too far.

“Okay, but tonight … are you helping me or leaving?”

I mull the question over, telling myself I should leave while admitting to myself I’m not sure why I think I need to. Is it because she’s younger? Is it because I’ve become borderline obsessed with helping her and I worry that this will all just hurt her in the end?

Or am I worried it will hurt me in the end? I don’t know if I can handle being hurt anymore.

She squeezes her thighs together, trapping my hand between them and forcing my eyes from the crackling bubbles up to hers.

We stay like that for a beat, and then I say, “Helping you.”


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