Absolute humiliation washes over me in a hot wave, my skin flashing icy then scalding at the stranger’s presence. I feebly try to hunch in on myself as acute shame continues to spike my blood, to cover my nudity and all evidence of my recent activity from view.

But Frost’s iron grip keeps my shoulders squared, my spine straight, forcing me to remain starkly exposed. On sheer display, buck naked wild and unable to hide.

The older server doesn’t even glance up from his task, merely continues adjusting the placement of sterling vegetable platters and wine glasses with elegant precision. He moves around the table with comfortable familiarity, making minute corrections to the settings, utterly unperturbed.

I stand trembling silently beside Frost’s imposing form, mute and terrified I’ll be sick from embarrassment and disbelief that he would degrade me this way in front of a stranger.

But the man acts like I don’t exist, as if having dinner guests in various states of disarray is commonplace here.

Perhaps it is.

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