He clamped his mouth shut and
lowered his head. Drawing a cleansing breath, he followed her to the modest vanity set across from the bed and said, half-pleading, “I don’t want to be stuck a sergeant for the rest of my life. I’m good at this job! But I consistently go unrecognized because they think I’m too clever, or too keen, or too—”
“Or too much a sarcastic know-all?”
“You know what it’s like. You complain to me all the time about being kept on bedpan and sponge-bath duty.”
She whirled again, brandishing the brush in her hand like a schoolteacher’s pointer. “Yes, that is frustrating. But what I have to put up with is not at all the same as what you get yourself into by being a confrontational horse’s ass!” She resumed brushing again, firmly and mutely, her long black hair a stark contrast to the white of her slip.
He released a long breath and laid his hands on her shoulders. They looked almost as colorless against her flesh as did her slip.
“I’m sorry, Rose,” he murmured. “You’re right. I am a horse’s ass.”
The brushing slowed but she made no reply. After a pause, he dropped his head and blew a soft whinny against her crown. That, at least, elicited a chortle, and she told him, “You’re doing the wrong end.”
He smiled at her tolerance. “Make you coffee?”
She bobbed her head. “Yes, please.” As he shifted away, she slapped his buttock with the head of her brush. “And put your pants on.”
He sent her his cheekiest smirk over his shoulder and swaggered into her kitchen, leaving his clothes untouched.