<David inquires about the woman he spied, thinking it is his wife, Michal.>
“Then what was she doing bathing on the roof? I saw her with my own eyes.”
“O King, that was not her. That was our neighbor’s wife. I helped her maids drag the tub to the roof and fetch the water. It was too hot inside the house.”
“Neighbor’s wife?” Anger drained down to David’s toes, and a white chill crawled up his back. “Who’s your neighbor?”
“Uriah, my lord, Uriah the Hittite.”
David stood. “You may go. When Michal returns, you’re to let me know. Go to the gate and call for Arik.”
Neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Neighbor’s wife. David’s head spun, and he fell on the floor. Images of the bathing lady taunted him.
She was so beautiful, so much like Michal. Shapely, her breasts full and heavy. And the way she moved. His body heated like an iron, hot and hard. David unrolled Michal’s rug and lay on it, taking deep, slow breaths. No use. He imagined her rolling and moaning under him. How did such a beauty exist without his notice? Why was she not his concubine?
He called out the door. “Arik, come here. Your head is spared. Look out my window. You see that house? The one with the empty tub on the roof. Go now and get the woman and bring her to me. I wish to talk to her.”
“Yes, O King.”
David returned to the window. Her husband would have been gone two months already. He was one of the mighty men, a big bear of a man.
He would talk to her and console her, perhaps praise her husband. There could be no harm in a little friendly conversation. He put all thoughts of undressing her out of his mind. He was the king, and he took interest in his subjects. He cared about their families.
The guards walked her into the street. She clutched a cloak tightly around her face. Curiosity stirred his loins. He rubbed sweaty palms against his robe.
Minutes later, they were at the door. The woman stepped in, her head bent low. She half-bowed, but settled for a nod under her hood. Arik shut the door and left them alone.
“Come, sit. Tell me your name and whose daughter you are.” David kept his voice smooth and level.
She sat at the edge of the couch, her hands clasped.
He moved next to her and removed her cloak. She averted her gaze, but he tilted her face and lost his breath. Her skin shone as smooth as alabaster, and her eyes, dark blue as a moonlit lake. Her mouth, a perfect rose, lush, shaped like Michal’s. He touched her hair. A mass of curls wrapped themselves around his fingers, trapping him. David throbbed like never before and leaned closer. She trembled and shut her eyes.
Her neck moved. “I am a man’s wife.”
“I am the king.”
“My lord.” She waited, her eyes downcast.
“Are you afraid of me? Have you seen me before?”
A faint smile curved her lips. “Yes, you danced with me in front of the Ark of the Covenant.”
“So you remember me?”
She looked down at her lap. “My lord, king. What do you want with me?”
“To behold you, up close. When I saw you move in the bathtub, you moved my heart.” A bright red blush rose from her cheeks to her temple. She stroked her neck with three long, elegant fingers.
David gestured to the table. “Hungry? Some fruit and wine?”
“My lord, I’ve dined already.” She glanced at the table, her gaze settling on Michal’s boxes.
David picked up the sandalwood box and placed it in her hands. “Have you ever seen anything like this?”
The carved pregnant goddess with eight serpentine arms stared from the lid.
The woman drew her breath in. A tinge of a smile crossed her face, and her eyes flicked a you’re-a-naughty-boy look before going back to the box.
“Go ahead, open it,” David said.
She opened it. Scraps of parchment peeked out. “Oh.”
She shut the box quickly. David’s face heated, and his fists tightened. Love notes. His.
She handed the box to David. “It’s quite lovely. Where did it come from?”
“A place far to the east called India.”
“Do women have eight arms there? Might be useful. Think of all the weaving and embroidery they could do.” She fanned herself, and her lips parted slightly.
David put the sandalwood box back on the table and followed her gaze.
“What about that one? The silver one?” She pointed to it, exposing her wrist.
He handed Michal’s silver box to her, and she examined it, turning it every which way. The way she ran her fingers along the curves made David’s mouth water.
“It’s lovely, so intricate: the sunflower in the center, the curling leaves and vines, and the border of circles and squares. Ah, see here the rays curve from the petals like that of the sun. Not a straight edge. Like a wild beast, crouched.” Her tongue darted over her upper lip. “Ready to leap.”
David could have pounced on her, but he cleared his throat and said, “You’re an artist, I see. Do you like it?”
She blushed again, flicked her hair off her shoulder and opened it. “Arrowheads? Oh.”
She set the box on the table. Dried blood flaked off the arrowheads. A chilling sensation, silent like a panther, stalked David’s shoulder blades.
He poured wine into a pair of goblets and placed one in her hand, lightly brushing it with his fingertip. While she sipped, he took his harp from the corner. “Do you like music?”
She bobbed her head. “I hear you’re one of the best.”
Her eyes sparkled with interest, and she touched the harp, caressing its wooden frame.
“Surely you exaggerate.” He coughed. “I don’t know if I can play or sing with you staring at me like that.”
She lowered her face, and her breath quickened. “Oh, my king, I apologize.”
David put the harp down and took her arm. “No apologies needed.”
He tipped her chin and stared into her eyes, deep, lustrous and oh, so blue. He could swim in them forever. “You’re beautiful.”
She closed her eyes, drew in her breath, but did not back away. Her lips trembled slightly, and her cheeks glowed.
David composed himself and led her to the wardrobe. He took out a sky-blue gown with dancing bell sleeves trimmed with silver threads. He dug through Michal’s jewelry and found a blue star sapphire set in silver.
“A gift from your king. Stand up.”
She gulped a mouthful of wine and stood for him. David held the gown in front of her. It enhanced her creamy skin, blue eyes, and black lustrous hair. Perfect. “Hold it up to your chest.”
She held it while he placed the sapphire around her neck. She squirmed at his touch, and a smile lit her face.
“Would you like to try the dress?” David moved her hair from under the necklace and touched her smooth white neck.
“Doesn’t it belong to your wife?”
“It doesn’t suit her. Go ahead. There’s a screen, or you can step into the bathroom. I promise I won’t peek.”
Her hips swayed as she walked toward the bathroom. She looked over her shoulder with a flutter of her eyelids and a sidelong smile before stepping in. His groin tightened in a flash, and he took a sip of wine to cool the heat in his chest.
Moments later, she emerged, a dream in blue. David stepped up and held her softly in his arms. She looked radiant and felt so inviting. His head swirled in a haze of desire, and he bent down and touched his forehead to hers. She stroked his jaw, and her breath shortened. He inhaled her sweet fragrance and opened his mouth.
Their lips met, and he kissed her softly, savoring the freshness of her tender touch. Her tongue danced between his lips, and his hands crept down her shoulders to fondle her breasts. Small, mewing pants encouraged him, and he lifted her and placed her on the bed.
He trailed kisses down her neck and over the fabric of her dress, heartened by her faint moans. Her back arched to meet his firm arousal, and a tiny cry escaped her lips as his hands explored her delicious body.
“Do you want the dress off?” he asked.
<juicy bits censored, told you it'll be safe for work.>
As David held her in his arms, she told him her name. “Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam.”