When I first met Grant, he was very nearly naked. I was on my daily run around my new home, bored out of my mind, and almost asleep. He was tall, well-muscled, and lean. I thought, for a moment, that I was seeing some sort of hallucination, and I was quite pleased with myself for imagining such a perfect male specimen.
“Well done, Emily,” I said.
My Greek god smiled. “Well, now, what do we have here?” he said. His eyes lingered on my chest, and I realized that I had thrown on an old sports bra that showed my nipples, and a pair of white underwear that were extremely unflattering to my midsection. (There was no point in bothering with running shorts, or well-made sports bras, when there was no one around to admire them.)
“You’re real,” I said, and wrapping my arms around my chest.
“I suppose I am,” said Grant. I watched a bead of sweat run down his forehead, and down the side of his neck.
Involuntarily, I licked my lips.
“Are you thirsty?” said Grant. “I think I have a bottle of water in my backpack.” He knelt down and opened a green rucksack that was resting on a pile of rubble. I noticed that he was wearing a pair of cut-off jeans that clung to his legs like a second skin.
“Here you go,” he said, ambling toward me. “I got this from a reservoir not too far from here, and I think it’s pretty clean.”
I hated to say it, but I blurted, “I have a knife.”
“What?” said my new friend.
I sighed. “I’m sorry, but I’m not altogether sure you’re safe.”
Grant grinned. “Ma’am, my mother would come out of the grave to get me, if she thought I was even thinking of harming a female. Scout’s honor.”
He pressed two fingers together in salute. “You can trust me.”
I looked into his eyes, and saw that there were smile lines around the corners. Beaming, I reached forward for the relatively clean bottle of water.
“My grandmother always said that you can trust a man with a good sense of humor." I took a long gulp of water, and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. "What’s your name?”
“Grant,” he said, and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” I said.
“You’ve got dirt around your top lip,” he said. “You look a little like Hitler, truth be told.”
Just then, the incongruity of the situation struck me, and I began to giggle. I stepped backward, but tripped over a rock and landed right on my behind. Grant grinned, and reached out a hand.
“Thanks,” I said. As he lifted me to my feet, I noticed that he had a strong grip and nice hands.
“You’re welcome,” said my hero. “What’s your name?”
“Emily,” I said. “Emily Brewster.”
“Well, Emily,” he said, “I’d help you with the dust on your backside, but seeing that we’ve just met, I don’t think that would be appropriate.”
Touch me everywhere, please, I thought. Leave no spot untouched. I swallowed and noticed that Grant was studying my throat.“ I’ve been told I have a rather nice neck,” I said.
“You do,” nodded Grant. “However, I see you’ve got a couple of red spots, there. Have you had the virus?”
“Yes,” I said, shivering. I felt blood rush to my cheeks and forehead. "That being said, I don’t feel very well."
“Shit,” he said. “You don’t see any black spots, do you?”
By this time, I was breathing very rapidly. “Umm...it appears that I do. I'm having trouble seeing your face. It’s a very nice face, by the way.”
Grant ran a hand through his hair. “Uh-oh,” he said. “Do you feel weak?”
“A little,” I said, as I collapsed to the ground.
I awoke to an enormous headache, and winced. The chatter of birds was incessant. I felt something soft underneath me, and realized I was resting on an old army blanket.
“I’m completely naked,” I said, to no one in particular. I got up too quickly, and hit my head on a metal pole at the top of a tent.
“Ow!” I said.
“Well look who’s up?” said Grant.
I saw Grant’s arm appear through the front of the tent, and dove for cover beneath the blanket. Before I knew what was happening, he was peering into my eyes with a flashlight.
“Where the devil are my clothes?” I said. “Why did you take them off?”
“Looks like you definitely have heat exhaustion,” said Grant. He rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. “Quickest way to fight heat exhaustion is to get the patient as cool as possible. Put this in your mouth,” he said, taking a small thermometer from his backpack. “Let’s see if your temperature’s gone down.”
“I’m not putting anything in my mouth,” I said, trying to control the blush that was spreading from my collarbone to the top of my forehead. “How do I know I can trust anything you say, and that you aren’t some kind of sex pervert who gets his jollies from removing ladies’ clothes?”
Grant sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Honestly, I don’t know how to unpack all of that, but I’ll start with the fact that I’m not a sex pervert. If I wanted sex, I’d just ask. I don’t think there’s any reason to be creepy about it.”
“Okay,” I said. "Go ahead and take my temperature.”
Grant placed the thermometer under my tongue, and smiled.
“Hey," he said, "how do I know you’re not a pervert?”
I raised my eyebrows, and began to protest.
“Now, now,” he said. “No need to talk until I can read that temperature."
I crossed my arms in front of my chest and rolled my eyes.
"I think the lady doth protest a bit too much, he said. “You were the one who was just staring at me like a snow cone on a hot day.”
“What?” I said. “I wasn’t doing anything of the sort. To be honest, you’re not the sort of man I’m attracted to.”
Grant laughed. “Fair enough. What kind of man are you attracted to?”
I thought for a moment. “The Daniel Craig type,” I said, crossing my fingers behind my back. Unfortunately, I moved my arm too quickly and the blanket dropped to my waist.
“Don’t look!” I said, as I wrapped the blanket tightly around myself.
“Damn it,” said Grant, “I dropped the thermometer. Don’t move.”
I sighed. “Why don’t you just feel my forehead?” I said. “I’m feeling much better.”
“Fine,” said Grant. “That’s just fine and dandy. You want me to be a medical professional, but you also want me to take your temperature with the back of my dirty hand?”
"Yes,” I said, feeling as confused as he was.
Our eyes met for a moment, and I saw that there were golden flecks of color in his pupils.
“Did you know that your eyes are the color of root beer candy?” he said.
“No,” I said, studying the contour of his lips, and the tiny bit of stubble on his chin.
Grant swallowed, and I watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down. “I think I should take a closer look," he said. "Medically speaking, your eyes are an interesting color.”
“I guess a closer look wouldn’t really hurt,” I said. “It would be very professional of you.”’
Grant took off his shirt, and began to unbutton the fly of his shorts. He grinned, sheepishly. “I don’t want to drive your temperature up. I think it’s best if I keep myself as cool as possible.”
“Safety first,” I said.
“Always,” he replied, as he slid off his shorts, and kissed one of my shoulders. “Why don’t we start the examination with your thoracic region, and then work our way down?”
“I think,” I said, as I realized that he definitely wasn't wearing any underwear, “that is an excellent idea.”
As I ran my fingers down Grant’s chest and stomach, I asked, “Why aren’t you wearing any knickers?”
Grant laughed, and I felt his lips brush mine. “No one around to admire them,” he said. “Satisfied?”
“Indeed,” I said. “Most satisfied.”