"Wh-what d'you mean?" I was stammering because the thought troubled me slightly. Of course Ross was allowed to see my soul and say that he loved it but I wasn't sure if mentally touching the deepest part of someone would provide a pleasant experience for them.
"Calm down, Rosa," he said soothingly, reaching up to stroke one of my sides. "I don't have to if you don't want me to."
"What will it do to me?" I asked nervously.
Ross chuckled a little. "Well, it certainly won't hurt you. I'm guessing it will feel ... extremely pleasant." He looked thoughtful. "It'll be the most intimate caress and ..." He trailed off, looking directly at me. "And I've never done it before so it'll be a new experience for us both."
"Are you sure about this, Ross?"
"Well, no, I'm not. But I'm counting on the fact that I'll feel it the second it starts to hurt you and be able to stop immediately."
"What if you can't?" I whispered.
Ross's brow furrowed. "I don't see how I can lose control of my own mind..."
"You might. I think we should tell Jack." I didn't know my own idea until I heard it leave my mouth. And then I felt idiotic. Of course we couldn't tell Jack. Not only was it wrong for us to tell him relating to the intimate part of mine and Ross's relationship but he was my ex-boyfriend! Telling him would be like stabbing a dagger in his heart or like boasting about the fact that Ross was my kingfisher and he wasn't. And I knew that he had wanted to be my kingfisher.
Ross followed my thought process without reacting until the end.
"I'm sorry, Rosa," he said, and the sadness in his eyes was genuine. "Look, if you don't want to do this, don't feel obliged." He smiled. "I'd like to think I was a decent kingfisher."
I smiled back. "Of course you are. And I do want this. It sounds a wonderful idea when I forget all my frightful anxieties."
"There's nothing wrong with anxiety, "Ross said gently.
"Perhaps not but I truly want this, Ross. My doubt hid my intrigue."
"And what made your doubt disappear?" Ross pressed, still gazing intently into my eyes. He could've tuned into my thoughts, he could have probed my mind but he wanted to hear it in my own voice so that I would be confirming it to myself as well as to him.
"Your love for me," I murmured. I had felt it - the surge of strong emotion when Ross had apologised. I hadn't been entirely sure what he'd been saying sorry for but I would have been mentally incompetent not to notice Ross's feeling of protectiveness over me and my emotions as it overwhelmed every other thing in his mind.
Ross heard and felt my reasoning, and he looked profoundly gratified by my recognition of his protectiveness. He sat up, I slid backwards off his lap to sit myself and he took my hands in his calmly and purposefully.
"How would you like to do this, Rosa?" he asked. "Make yourself comfortable - we don't want to end up totally immersed in each other in positions where we'll get cramp."
"Let's prop up your pillows and lean against them," I suggested, "and then, before you caress my soul, kiss me."
Ross smiled. "That sounds perfect." And I felt his sincerity: a sort of deepening to the river that was his emotions, if you will, and the feeling of seriousness.
So we arranged ourselves in this much comfier position and turned sideways to face each other more easily.
Ross surprised me by doing something extraordinarily touching. He took my hands, one at a time, and kissed the undersides of my wrists. Next, he leant towards my neck and kissed me softly beneath my chin. I realised that he was kissing the parts of my skin where the pulse could be felt.
He lingered at my neck, nestling into the cosy space between the base and my shoulder. I felt my heart thudding faster than usual and closed my eyes to try to calm my breathing.
‘You ready?' asked that gentle, reassuring solid form's mental voice, almost whispering from the intensity of the moment. Somehow, in that perfect moment, slight tremors that were more of anticipation than fear, rolled down my spine.
"Yes," I whispered aloud, my thoughts sent into chaos by a pure, unadulterated love I realised I rarely felt, and then Ross kissed my skin and whispered "Relax."