Janus drops the broken tree branch, swears in Croatian and sticks his thumb in his mouth, sucking at the wound.
"Let me see it," she says. "I'm sure you've gotten a splinter."
She pulls the reddened and bleeding thumb from his lips and holds the base of it tightly, squeezing it a bit to clear the debris. The blood rushes up under the jagged nail and puddles in the cuticle. He winces at her ministrations and she says,
He watches her brow furrow in concentration as she inspects the finger, twisting and pulling at the skin of his hand, her forehead just inches from his chin. Her breath rushes over his hand and he swallows audibly. He's never been so close to her. He's never been able to smell her soap. She's blind to it all. She's focused on him. She doesn't want him to hurt. A breeze whips a bit of her hair free from her pony tail and it sticks to her open lips.
"Here it is," she says triumphantly. Her tiny fingers, more like a child's than a woman's, chapped and cold from the wind, pick at his worn and calloused hand, pulling a rather lengthy pine splinter from the skin. She holds it up and throws it over her shoulder, still gripping his thumb, holding him close to her. He can't get away. The blood flows faster now that the obstruction is gone. It runs down his hand and drips down onto hers, but still she doesn't pull away. Instead, she heals him by sticking his thumb in her mouth, to clean it with her tongue...like she'd do for herself, or her husband. Like primitive first aid, like animals in the wild.
He watches incredulously as his thumb is enveloped in warmth, the flat, velvet surface of her tongue. It makes his eyes flutter. He blinks. Her head is a bit bowed and he can see the sloppy, slanted part of her wheat colored hair.
After a moment of silence, he pulls his hand free from her mouth and grabs her by the shoulders, just staring for a moment, giving her a chance to break, a chance to leave. Her mouth is open, her cheeks flushed, one of her teeth a bit pink from the blood. She runs her tongue over the surface to clear it, and he kisses her.