Transferring his weight to one elbow, he shifted to hold both of her wrists with one hand. With the other, he untied the bow behind her neck that held her bathing suit top in place. He peeled it down and looked at her breasts.
With one finger he gently traced the scar on her left breast. “Tell me about this. Tell me why you wear shapeless clothes that hide your luscious little body.”
She tried to cover herself, but he wouldn’t release her wrists. “Kaelen.”
“No. You’ll cover yourself and lock me out completely. I know how stubborn you are, babe. I can be just as stubborn when I really want something.”
That had been the plan. At this point, she had everything to lose. If she told him nothing, her silence would damage their new relationship. He wasn’t shallow or self-centered. She could find the courage to trust him, couldn’t she?
After swallowing several times, she finally managed to speak. “I had surgery. Breast augmentation.”
He continued tracing her scars, alternating between breasts. “Why? I know you didn’t do this for vanity’s sake. Otherwise you’d wear tighter clothes and low-cut shirts to show them off.”
Though he didn’t mention it, his gaze fell to her two-piece bathing suit, which covered far more cleavage than most one-pieces.
This time when she struggled against his hold, he let her sit up. She pulled her top over her chest. She drew up her legs, and he knelt on the bed in front of her.
“It wasn’t what you're thinking. If it had been health related, insurance would have covered the surgery, and I wouldn’t have had to save up for six years to pay for it myself.”
When she didn’t continue, he traced a path along her inner thigh. “I noticed the difference right off the first time I saw you after summer vacation, though I doubt anyone else did. You’ve spent a lot of your life working at fading into the background. I’m glad to hear it wasn’t serious. I was so worried about you. I didn’t want you to suffer alone.”
And now she felt even more self-conscious. “They were deformed, okay? One was an A-cup and one was a C-cup. Our family doctor kept telling my parents it was normal, it happens to some girls, so my parents wouldn’t help pay for surgery. They think I’m blowing it out of proportion, but they don’t realize how much trouble I had to go through to hide it from everyone. You’re the first person I’ve taken my bra off in front of since sophomore year of high school.”
The hand on her thigh rose to cup her cheek. “So you split the difference. A B-cup looks great on you. They’re the perfect size to hold in one hand, leaving my other hand free to do other things.”
She batted away his hand. “You joke about it now, but six months ago you would have taken one look and never called again.”
“In case you don’t remember my heartfelt confession, I’ve been looking at you for a hell of a lot longer than six months.”
“With my clothes on.”
“Only because I lacked the courage and finesse to ask you out.”
“You would have encouraged me to have the surgery.”
He scratched his chin. “Probably. You were very unhappy, babe. You were thinking surgery would make you feel sexy.”
“It made me feel comfortable enough to call Oasis.” If she hadn’t made that call, they wouldn’t be together now.
“But not sexy. Tell me, did you feel sexy yesterday?”
She nodded. She’d felt more than sexy. She’d felt downright desirable.
“Do you feel sexy today?”
“No.” Her frustration came out in her voice. If her breasts were fixed, why did she still feel like the same girl who had hidden her body with baggy clothes for the past eight years?
“That’s because feeling sexy is about what’s on the inside, not the outside. Yesterday you let go of all your inhibitions to play a role. I think the role you played let the real Mia come out and express herself.
“You put too much emphasis on your looks and not enough on what’s attractive. I fell for your feisty attitude and your wickedly intelligent brain before anything else. Your pretty face might have drawn my attention, but it’s what’s inside that kept me coming up to your office to ask stupid questions for the past year.”
“Wow. You sound like a shrink. Are you sure you’re a sociology major?”
“Smart-ass. The sociology major part of me says you’re hung up on this because society has taught you that women should look a certain way. You feel like you have to live up to some ideal. But in the real world, real men want real women.”