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By:Alexa Riley

“Hey! Focus please. I believe you were undressing me—in preparations for a shower, I hope?”

“Yeah, Mama. We’ve got to wash this funk off you.”

She laughs a little and I can see she’s pushed the dark thoughts away. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s so much stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. When I first met this sassy blonde, all I could think about was how to get her over my knee. Who would have thought I’d be the one bending over just to have a chance with her?

Some people might see the way I love her as weakness. The way I give her what she wants and allow her to take the lead may come across as spineless, but what most people don’t see is that’s the only way to keep her. My Jeanette has been through so much and one day she’ll tell me, but I know she has to be in control. For her, control equals love. I think men before me have tried to tame her, and that’s where they went wrong. You can’t tame a tidal wave. You can only hope to hold on, ride it out and pray it doesn’t drown you. My Mama is fierce, and where other men have failed her, I won’t. I’m the first, last, and only man to have her heart and it will forever stay that way.

I turn on the water in the big walk-in shower and get it ready for her. Once it’s heated up, I help her off the bathroom counter and follow behind her to the shower. She goes to the spray and puts her face into it, washing off the dirt. I get the hand-held showerhead and start washing her hair. We don’t speak for a while as I wash her body tenderly. She lets me pamper her this way every time we shower. It’s my way of showing her that I will always worship her, and it’s her way of showing me her vulnerable side. She’s allowing her body to be touched, not in a sexual way, but in a loving way, and that’s a first for her. It’s a first for me too, but I don’t think about my past. To me, there was never anyone before her, and there won’t be anyone after.

It’s been so long since she let me touch her. I hate what drove her into my arms today but I’m glad that she’s here. That even if she was pissed at me she knew I would take care of her. I would always be there for her.

I’m on my knees in front of her washing her long beautiful legs when she looks down at me. “Tell me you love me,” she says.

“I love you, Jeanette.”

This has become our thing now. I didn’t know how she would react the first time I wanted to say it, so I held it in. I didn’t want to scare her off, so I just kept it to myself and tried to physically show her how I felt. Instead, my sassy Mama gave me the cockiest look I’ve ever seen and said “tell me you love me”. She knew exactly what I felt and wanted to make me admit it. It was a crossroads for us. Either I submitted to her and said it or I held my ground. I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind which path I would take. If I had to crack open my chest and give her my heart, that’s what I would’ve done.

She hasn’t said it back to me and I don’t know if she ever will. It’s not in her nature to give something up so easily, so I know if the day comes, she’ll mean it.

I keep washing her legs, and she starts running her fingers through my wet hair. I close my eyes and enjoy her attention while reminding myself of what could have happened, and how lucky I am she’s here with me.

“I think my heart died about a thousand times while we were searching for you,” I tell her.

“Good thing it didn’t. I happen to really enjoy our shower time together, so try to keep that ticker going, okay?”

I rest my forehead on her lower stomach and kiss the smooth skin there. I take a deep breath and wrap my arms around her. “I grew up living with my grandmother,” I say, and I feel her stiffen. It takes a second before she relaxes again and goes back to stroking my hair, and I keep talking. “My mother was a prostitute and had no clue who my dad was. She got into drugs when I was little, and at some point my grandmother found out and came to get me. My mom would visit when she could, which wasn’t much. But I remember she always loved how I could make her laugh. So every time she came over, I would do whatever I could to get her to smile. I remember thinking if I could make her pain go away, or make her forget for even an hour, then that’s what I needed to do.” Jeanette remains quiet as she plays with my hair and the warm shower steam surrounds us.

“The last time she came to see me, I was 12. I tried all day, and I couldn’t get her to crack a smile. Nothing worked, and when she told me goodbye, she cried a little. I knew that would be the last time I would ever see her, and it was. She killed herself the next day and it broke my heart.” I look up to see Jeanette gazing down at me and we lock eyes. “I blamed myself for a long time for that, but I know there was more to it than me. It took me years to understand that it wasn’t my fault, and it was her choice. Maybe there’s still a little part of me that will always need you to laugh and smile so that I know you’re okay, but no matter what, I need you to stay with me. Got it?”