Jasmine returned a few minutes later to find Nigel and Sydney had moved their chairs together. The young man had his back to the wall with his lady friend leaning against him cradled on his lap, her head snugged just under his chin, and her hands grasping the top of his shoulders. Jas sighed, now able to put the other piece of the puzzle in its place. So he was the one... A... first she wasn’t sure, thinking it couldn’t be possible, but seeing them together like that diluted her previous misconceptions. She hated to disturb them, but Sydney was in such need...
"Sweetie, honey...I’m sorry to bother you two..." Jas lightly rubbed Sydney’s shoulder. "I want you to come with me for a while."
"That’s all right." Sydney said, and yawned, grudgingly pushing away from the warmth of Nigel’s body. He stretched his neck and echoed her sentiments. "I needed to thank you for that wonderful meal anyway Jas, it was fantastic."
"Yes, it was delicious!" Nigel kindly added. "Thank you."
"It was my pleasure. Now, come with me, I have something you need in the other room."
She looked over to Nigel with weary eyes and he shrugged, motioning for her to follow. He had heard Jasmine drawing a bath while she dozed on his chest, and knew this was probably just what Sydney needed. He had never seen her this worn out without a good reason, and a rather frightening thought occurred to him... she had better not be coming down with influenza or something. That would be all they needed in this place. Settling back in the wooden chair, he closed his eyes again.
"Oh, and Mister Bailey, there is a shower with everything you’ll need down the hall to the right." Jas had peeked around the corner before closing the door, startling him. "You go, I think you can use one." She said, and winked at him before disappearing again.
Unashamed, Sydney disrobed in front of Jasmine and eased her aching body into the warm, fragrant water, moaning out loud as she felt every part of her lovingly embraced. Time for the healing of her mind and body to begin, she thought, and leaned her head back. Jasmine poured a pitcher of sweet water over Sydney’s long, wild hair, pulling her fingers through from the roots to the ends, taking the knots along with them.
"I have something here," Jasmine picked up a small pear-shaped glass bottle and emptied a drop of the pearled substance into her palm, "my mother makes it for her hair. It has no chemicals in it like manufactured hair soaps do." She explained, and gently massaged it to a rich sudsy lather over Sydney’s scalp.
Sydney was close to having died and gone to heaven. Never in her travels did she experience anything so soothing, and therapeutically exotic. A grin tugged at the corner of her mouth, wondering how funny that would be if Nigel were to get the same treatment from Aaron! At last... something to laugh about.
Jasmine truly was an artist, Sydney decided, wrapping her newly rejuvenated body in a fluffy terry towel. She had successfully rubbed out damn near every knot in her body, including the ones she didn’t know about! Alone in the bedroom now and on a whim, stepped up to the mirror and dropped the towel to her ankles. Standing there in the dimly lit room, Sydney examined her nakedness from head to toe. Her jet-black hair almost reached halfway down her back now, and she smiled. It had taken her how long to grow that out? She couldn’t remember, and didn’t care anymore...turning to inspect her profile, she ran her hands across her waist and rested them at her slender hips. She didn’t look any different...yet. Sighing, she bit her lower lip in frustration. She still had not said a word to Nigel. She said nothing to any one. Her stark reflection stared back at her and she wondered if she would ever have the courage. What would it take, she wondered?
Go to Part Eleven.