Beth shut the door but didn’t bother to lock it. She stripped down to her bra and knickers and sat on the edge of the closed toilet seat.
She opened the box in her hand and pulled out a couple of wax strips, setting them by the sink beside her. She took one and warmed it up before peeling it apart and setting about waxing her legs.
She’d almost finished her left leg when she looked up for no reason whatsoever. Robert was stood in the doorway.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” she asked playfully, raising an eyebrow.
“Isabella used to do that with candle wax when we were younger. Why are you doing it?” The look on his face was genuinely confused.
Beth just shrugged. “I thought you might prefer it.”
His lips twitched into a slight smile. “I’ll take you however you come. But, if you insist on doing that, I’m not going to let you hurt while you do it.”
Beth was going to make some remark as she ripped the next strip from her skin but as she did pull it away, she felt nothing. Her skin went pink but she felt nothing. When she looked up, Robert was grimacing.
“The pain women put themselves through to look their best,” he said, shaking his head before leaving and shutting the door behind him.
It dawned upon Beth that he was taking her pain away; he was channelling it away from her and into him. She thought about stopping, not wanting him to hurt either, but she’d already done one leg and it would look stupid not to do the other.
She was doing it slowly, trying to eat up the time before they had to leave. She’d pull one strip, then wait until the pink had faded, then pull another. The whole process was considerably lengthened by doing so, taking up more than three times how long it usually took.
After she was done, she ran a bath, turning the hot water on full. It was only a matter of minutes until the whole room was stiflingly hot. She stripped completely and stepped into the water. It rippled as it moved out of the way for her to get in.
She simply lay in the hot water for a while, before submersing herself entirely for a few seconds, soaking her hair. She squirted some scented shampoo into her hands and began to wash her hair, taking extra care with the locks, as though they were made of glass and would shatter. Everything she did, every move she made was careful and precise, purely to take up more time. She washed slowly, the bubbles clinging to her flesh and coating her like a blanket.
By the time she got out, the water was getting to cool. She wrapped a soft towel around herself and dried herself unhurriedly. When she was finished, she put on the clean underwear she’d brought in and picked up her old clothes, along with the towel. She dropped them into the washing basket and then stood in front of a mirror, carefully applying minimalistic makeup.