Humming along to the radio, Jess carried the tray of pumpkin squares she’d just slathered with cream cheese icing and then cut, out to the storefront.
Her gaze shifted out the window, took in the beautiful September day outside. The sky was clear, no humidity induced haze. Over the last week or two, the intense heat of the summer had gradually receded to a more temperate warmth.
And in the bakery over the last week or two, the flavours of summer - berries and cherries and peaches - had made way for the tastes of autumn - pumpkin and apple and spice.
It was hard to believe, but October was right around the corner. To Jess, it felt like the summer had come and gone in a blink. The reason why had her smiling to herself. Time really did fly when you were having fun... and she and Henry were having a lot of fun.
The PG variety, and the R-rated variety.
When they weren’t at work, they were together - either at Henry’s place, or at hers. They were either hanging out with Josh, or Laura and Greg - who had started dating too - or they were alone...
Jess’s smile stretched wider.
... and all over each other.
She set the tray of squares on the counter near the register, headed back to the prep room to knock off the next thing on the ‘to-do’ list.
She’d just started peeling apples when the bell out front rang. Leaving an apple skewered on the peeler, half stripped, she went out to help the customer that had come in.
“Oh!” she exclaimed excitedly, when she saw who it was.
It was the banana-chocolate-muffin-craving-mama-to-be... only, since the last time she’d come in, she’d lost the ‘to-be’ part. Her beach belly was deflated somewhat, and what she’d been cooking, was out of the oven.
‘Banana-chocolate-muffin-craving-mama’ (whose actual name, Jess had learned a few weeks back, was Callie) set the baby, who was buckled into her car seat, snug as could be, on the counter, and Jess hurried forward, rounded the end of the counter, and peeked in at the newborn.
“Oh, look at you!” she cooed at the infant.
Splitting her attention between baby and mama, she asked Callie - who was positively beaming motherly love down at her sleeping daughter - how she was, how labour had gone.
Everything had gone off without a hitch. She’d gone into labour mid-afternoon four days ago, and the baby had been born later that night, weighing in at seven pounds, six ounces.
“What name did you decide on?” she asked.
Callie and her husband had had a couple of names picked out, but had been waiting until they’d met their daughter before deciding.
“Sophie.” she replied.
Jess’s gaze returned to Sophie. She was ‘ooh-ing’ over Sophie’s little fingers and her little nose, and her little cheeks, when another customer came in, an older man.
With effort, she pulled herself away from fawning over the cuteness.
She asked Callie if she wanted her usual - a dozen banana chocolate chunk muffins - and started boxing them up when she got confirmation.
Callie paid, made her goodbyes and pulled off what looked to Jess to be a feat of strength, lugging Sophie out in her car seat with one arm, while carrying the box of muffins in the other.
As Jess looked after her other customer, boxing up his requested items and ringing him up at the cash, her thoughts stayed on baby mode and took that subject into the future, imagining what she and Henry and a baby would look like.
The older man left with his purchases, including six of the pumpkin squares, and she returned to the back and her apple peeling. Before long, she had a pail half-filled with stripped, cored and sliced apples. She drizzled some lemon juice over them to help keep them from browning.
Her mind remained on the future as she worked, jumping ahead five years... ten... speculating what life would be like then.
She wanted at least two kids... hoped to be fortunate enough to have a little girl, and a little boy... wondered how many Henry wanted.
Her smile slipped...
... did he want any kids?
She wanted to get married, but didn’t have to. If Henry didn’t want to, fine. But... if he didn’t want kids... a full-on frown claimed her mouth... that would be a deal breaker.
Was it too soon to talk about the future with him? To ask the question many men dreaded - where was their relationship going?
Was it too soon to ask if he wanted to get married... if he wanted kids?
Jess’s phone dinged with a text message received. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket, grateful for the distraction. If she and Henry weren’t on the same page on big issues, she didn’t think she wanted to know... just yet.
Her text was from Laura.
Greg and I are going to Frankie’s tonight. Her friend had written. You and Henry wanna come?
A fun night out, instead of instigating what could turn out to be a bummer of a conversation?
That would be a ‘yes’.
It was Friday, which was wing night at Frankie’s. She knew Henry would want to go - he loved their wings as much as she did - but she texted him to ask anyway, just in case he had other ideas in mind for tonight.
Laura just invited us to join her and Greg at Frankie’s tonight. Wanna go?
A minute later Henry texted her back with a ′Sure’.
We’re in. she replied to Laura.
See you there around 6? her friend suggested.
She texted back a thumbs up, put her phone away and resumed her peeling. Her thoughts promptly veered back to the questions she’d been mulling over moments before, but she strong-armed her mind away from the subject.
She’d ask Henry his thoughts on marriage and kids eventually...
... but she was in no rush.
Jess smiled a ‘thanks’ over at Henry, and walked through the door he held open for her, entering Frankie’s. He followed her in, stopped behind her, so close his warmth seeped into her back.
Evenings were starting to get chilly as October approached, soon enough the days would be too. Jess had worn a jacket, a zip-up hoodie, but the shirt she had on underneath had short sleeves and a low neckline. Henry’s body heat was welcome.
She scanned her gaze over the room looking for Laura and Greg, in case they had arrived before her and Henry and were already seated.
Her eyes took in the restaurant’s familiar surroundings - the dark wood floors and walls, the dim lighting, the tables spaced out across the floor, the bar stretching along the left wall, the booths lining the other three walls.
A hand shot up in one of the booths along the right wall, at the far end of the room, drawing her gaze.
Laura was waving at her. She waved back, started forward.
Most of the tables and booths she and Henry passed were occupied, many a small group of friends doing as they were - enjoying a night out.
“Hey.” she smiled upon reaching the booth, sliding into the space her friend had made for her by scooting over on the bench seat towards the wall.
Henry slid in beside Greg on the other side of the table, with a ‘hey, man’.
“You guys just get here?” she asked, shrugging out of her jacket, letting it drop to the seat.
Her friend was dressed casual, like her, in jeans and a long-sleeved T. A sweatshirt lay in a heap on the seat behind her.
“Yeah.” Laura nodded. “Just a few minutes ago.”
She remarked on how chilly it was getting at night, and that comment led to the mention of the coming winter - blech. Unless she was skiing, or skating, Jess was not a fan of snow or ice. Driving in the stuff was at the top of her ‘would rather not’ list.
With talk of winter, came talk of Christmas, which Jess nipped in the bud the first chance she got. It wasn’t even October yet, it was too soon to think Christmas.
When she got an opening, she rerouted the topic of conversation to sports, got them talking about football. It wasn’t a sport Laura had been into... before Greg... but since she’d started seeing him, she’d started watching games with him.
Their waiter arrived, interrupting their hypothesizing who might win Sunday’s game. Blonde-haired and green-eyed, he was dressed all in black - shirt, pants, and shoes - as was all Frankie’s staff.
“I’m Nick,” he introduced himself. “I’ll be your waiter this evening. Can I start you all off with some drinks?”
“Actually,” Jess began, and looked around the table for confirmation. “I think we all know what we want...”
She got three nods.
“Alright then.” Nick replied. Starting with her, he took their orders.
He had a pen and order pad, but they remained in the pocket of the black apron tied around his waist. All four of them ordered wings, and beer, so it wasn’t much of a memory challenge for him.
“Three orders of medium wings, one order of hot, two Heineken and two Coors light.” he repeated after they’d all told him what they wanted. “I’ll go put your orders in and be right back with your drinks.”
He turned and headed across the room, weaving through tables and around patrons and fellow servers, finally disappearing through a swing door to the right of the bar that led to the kitchen.
Conversation at their table resumed, their voices rejoining the babel of voices around them. It was a four-way convo most of the time, but once or twice, it split... Henry and Greg discussing something while she and Laura chatted about something else.
The fact that Henry and Greg got along was a bit of a relief to Jess. It wasn’t lost on her, how fortunate it was the four of them got along so well. If there’d been discord between any of them, they would have missed out on fun times like tonight.
Nick returned with their beers, and later their wings.
The four of them ate, talking and joking as they made short work of their meals, and when they were done, they migrated to Frankie’s back room to shoot some pool.
The back room was outfitted the same as the restaurant, with dark walls and floors, and low lighting. Individual lights hung down over each pool table, turning the tables into islands of light in the otherwise dim room.
The room was filled with the sounds of games in progress - the clacking and rolling of balls on tables, the thwacks of darts hitting boards. There were no chairs back here, just tall tables where you could set your drink down while you played your game of choice.
It being Friday night, Jess wasn’t surprised to see most of the pool tables in use, but there was a couple available. They claimed one, and Henry and Greg retrieved pool cues from a rack by the wall.
“We playing boys against girls,” Henry asked. “... or couple against couple?”
Jess accepted the cue he handed off to her.
The decision was unanimous - boys versus girls. They flipped a coin to determine who got to break - heads, it would be the girls, tails, it would be the guys.
It landed heads.
“You wanna do it?” Laura asked her.
Jess leaned on her pool cue, watched Laura head to the far end of the pool table, chalk up and take aim. A loud crack sounded, followed by several thumps and clicks as balls hit and rebounded off of other balls and the sides of the pool table.
Laura straightened up from her bend over the end of the table, moved around to the side, lined up her next shot.
“Nine, right corner pocket.” she announced.
She’d sunk three balls with her break - two solids, one striped - so she got to decide which she wanted to go after. If she sank the nine, which Jess thought she’d better - it was an easy, straight-line shot - the two of them would be stripes this game.
Laura threaded the end of her pool cue through her fingers, fired, and sent the nine ball into the corner pocket. She missed her next shot, and Henry stepped up to take his turn.
He had a tricky shot. He had to go after the one ball, and it was surrounded. He’d have to rebound off the side to get to it.
After taking the lay of the land, he picked his point of attack, which ended up being right in front of Jess.
A slow smile spread across her face. Her view, as he bent forward over the table, the way his jeans stretched tight over his ass, was sublime.
She waited as he took his shot (he missed), and before he straightened up, she gave his derrière a little love tap - unable to resist the temptation.
He turned to her, one brow, and one corner of his lips hitching up. He’d clearly enjoyed that as much as she had.
She smiled back at him, walked around him to take her turn. At the far end of the table, she took aim at the ten, but held off taking her shot when Henry moved into her line of sight.
Lifting her gaze, she took her eyes on a lovely tour up his body from his hips, over his chest, to his face. His eyes were aimed a little south of her face, taking their own tour... admiring the low neckline of her top.
She hadn’t worn this top with the idea of giving him a peep show in mind... she just liked the top.
She smiled to herself.
Distracting Henry with the ladies while they played pool was just a happy side benefit.
Henry’s gaze left her cleavage, lifted to meet hers, and the temperature spiked in the room.
Feminine pride and pleasure filled her. It didn’t take much to get Henry looking at her with wolfish hunger.
His hunger awoke her own. In her mind’s eye, she stripped him out of his shirt, imagined his jeans undone and hanging low on his hips.
Her nipples peaked.
“Jess, stop eye-fucking him and shoot.” Laura prompted, her amusement, and the fact that she was rolling her eyes, clear in her tone.
At her friend’s voice, Jess blinked, and a fully-clothed Henry came back into focus.
He was smirking a little now, a mite smug, and she mirrored that smirk back at him. She may have been the one called out, but he’d been eye-fucking her, too.
Returning her attention to the pool table, she struck the cue ball and sent the ten ball into the far corner pocket.
Laura had sunk the eleven with her break, so the next ball Jess had to go after was the twelve. Not only did she miss, she knocked the five into a pocket, helping the guys.
Greg stepped forward to take his turn. He sank a couple before missing.
Back and forth they went, trading turns picking off balls. The guys ended up getting the first crack at the eight. They failed to sink it, which gave Jess and Laura time to sink the balls they needed to, and start going after it too.
Laura had had her first chance to sink it, now it was Jess’s - and the cue ball had rolled to a stop at the perfect spot. She had a straight-line shot. It was a long one, from one end of the table to the other, but it was straight.
“Corner pocket.” she called, pointing at the corner she meant with the end of her cue stick.
Confident she had the win in the bag, she set up, fired, and celebrated... for about three seconds.
Shit. She’d used too much juice.
The eight ball dropped into the pocket, but the cue ball rolled right along close behind it, traversing the nine feet of green felt way too quickly.
Grimacing, she watched it approach the pocket... and go over the edge.
She’d fouled, darn it, and given the game to the guys.
“You’re welcome.” she razzed them lightly, since they’d only won thanks to her.
Henry chuckled at Jess’s pointed ‘welcome’.
Someone’s competitive side was showing.
“Next game’s ours.” she declared. “And we’re not gonna win because of a silly foul.”
“Hey, a win’s a win.” he rejoindered.
He’d take a win however he got it.
She scrunched her nose at him, and he chuckled again, moved out of the way of Greg, who took care of racking.
The girls got to break again, since they’d lost, and Jess started things off this time. She sank four balls - three solids, one striped - chose to go after solids since she’d sunk more of those, even though sinking the ten was her easiest shot to make.
He was impressed when she bounced the two off the side and into the corner pocket she’d called. He’d missed a similar shot earlier.
She moved around the table, came to a stop almost directly in front of him, and bent low over the pool table. When she missed, he stepped forward, moved around her to take his turn... and surreptitiously gave her ass a squeeze as he passed.
The urge to smack her ass as she’d smacked his, had been tempting, but the desire to cop a feel had proved more tempting.
Her rump was just so fetching.
A glance back at her over his shoulder on his walk to the far end of the table had his cock twitching at the twinkle he’d put in her eye, at the intimate smile she gave him.
Any interest he’d had in playing pool, he lost. All his interest went to the little side game Jess had started when she’d slapped his butt... the flirty game the two of them now began playing in earnest.
They spent the rest of the night exchanging heated glances and furtive caresses, enticing one another, keeping each other’s desires on a high simmer for later... when they were alone.
Their playful teasing was fun... but also maddening. By the end of the night, Henry was chomping at the bit.
As much as he loved hanging out with Laura and Greg, he was supremely gratified when he and Jess had finally parted ways with them in Frankie’s parking lot, and were heading back to her place in his truck.
Once they were upstairs in her apartment, door locked, he took the fastest approach to getting them to her bedroom - he hoisted her over his shoulder, fireman style, and carted her there.
“Henry!” Jess exclaimed, when she found herself bottoms up over his shoulder, with an eyeful of his backside. “Put me down!” she chuckled, delighted at his surprise move.
A guy had never carried her off to bed like this before.
He ignored her. Only when he’d reached her bedside, did he set her on her feet again. He stared down at her, his eyes stark pools of desire even as affection, tender emotion, softened his expression.
Jess’s heart swelled.
Up to this point, love had yet to be mentioned by either of them... but Jess knew Henry loved her. She could see it in the way he looked at her sometimes, like right now, and she’d felt it in the way he touched her, held her.
And she loved him.
Falling in love with him had been so easy.
Henry helped her off with her jacket, lowering the zipper of the hoodie, pushing the material off her shoulders. She tugged the cuffs over her hands, let the jacket fall off her arms to the floor. As she did so, Henry’s hand came up, his finger coming to the neck of her shirt and following the ‘v’ down to its lowest point between her cleavage.
“You were killing me in this top tonight.” he murmured, a corner of his lips curling up.
He shifted the pad of his finger from cotton to skin, dropped his gaze, skimmed his finger over to her other breast.
Wanting to give him more access to the girls, Jess clutched the bottom hem of her shirt, started to pull it up. Seeing what she was about, Henry drew back his hand, quickly shed his own shirt.
Both tops landed on the floor, and were forgotten.
Henry toed off his shoes, undid his belt. He bent forward at the waist, shoved the Levi’s, and his boxers, down his legs and off his feet, along with his socks, everything hitting the floor with a soft rustle of clothes and clank of his belt buckle.
Her eyes went to his cock once he stood back up. Greedily, she watched it thicken and lengthen, quickly leave the ‘elephant trunk’ stage and move towards ‘pitching a tent’ stage.
Watching him go from soft to hard was so fucking sexy.
Her appetite whetted, she knelt on the floor in front of him, cast her gaze up the length of his body to his face. He was positively smouldering at her as she took him in hand, as she leaned in, licked the tip of his cock.
The first time she’d done this, she’d been hesitant. Shy.
She was bold, confident in her acquired knowledge of what Henry liked best. She may be the one on her knees, but she knew how to bring him to his knees.
Swirling her tongue around the head of his cock - got him breathing heavier. Scraping her teeth against the length of him - got his hands fisting. Heavy suction got his back teeth clenching - got him groaning.
She did all of that to him now, and more, until he stopped her.
He urged her to her feet with his hands under her arms and, once her mouth was in reach of his, he captured it, his tongue advancing on and sparring with hers, his hands cupping and squeezing her ass.
The flame they’d been tending all night, playing and flirting with one another, surged into a blaze.
Jess reached between their bodies, found Henry’s erection and took hold of him, started stroking, smiling into their kiss when he began thrusting into her hand.
She quickened her stroke and a growl of pleasure rumbled out of him. He stopped groping her ass, found the fly of her jeans and undid the button, lowered the zipper, slipped his fingers inside between cotton panties and denim, seeking her core.
Even with her jeans undone, he didn’t have much wiggle room... and that didn’t work for him, or her.
He broke away from her, hooked his thumbs in the waist of her jeans, hurriedly pulled them down to her ankles, where he was stopped by her shoes. He whipped those off, and her socks, then got rid of her jeans, leaving her in her bra and panties.
They came back together, mouths fusing, their passion blazing strongly. She resumed stroking his erection and he delved a hand inside her panties, started petting her.
While second base was a fun place to hang out, their play advanced quickly.
Henry slowly eased from her embrace, turned from her and skirted around the corner of the bed, his erection bobbing with his steps. He closed in on the bedside table, retrieved a condom from the top drawer.
While he ripped into the foil packet, rolled the latex down his length, Jess got comfortable on the bed, laying down in the centre of her mattress with her head on a pillow.
Henry clambered over her, caught her hands in his, interweaving his fingers with hers, and pinned them to the mattress on either side of her head. He lowered his mouth to her ear, nipped the lobe, proceeded to kiss and lick and nibble his way down her throat and onto her chest.
If she could purr, she would have been purring up a storm.
Henry’s mouth reached the tops of her breasts and his hands left hers, tunnelled under her, going for the clasp of her bra. She arched her back, helping him, and the hooks were quickly undone, the straps pulled down her arms, the bra tossed over a broad, masculine shoulder.
Henry plumped up one breast with his hand, went after the other with his mouth. Sighing, Jess’s eyes fell closed as he painted first that breast, then the other, with his tongue.
The guy was a master artist.
By the time he moved on from her breasts, she was vibrating with pleasure.
Henry kissed down the inside slope of one breast to her sternum, started moving south down the center of her body, one kiss at a time. Arriving at her navel, he swirled his tongue around it, then licked from that indent down to the elastic band of her panties.
“Lift up.” he murmured, and she raised her hips.
He grasped the sides of her panties, dragged the scrap of cotton down her legs and she lowered back down to the mattress as he slipped them off her feet.
Once that scrap of material was out of his way, he made room for himself to hunker down between her legs, his palms going to her inner thighs. He pushed them wide and set his mouth on her.
Over and over again, he brought her close to orgasm with his busy tongue, then eased off, toying with her as she came down from the tipping point.
Jess grumbled a complaint - half-heartedly - and he just chuckled, started her up the climb again. This time when she neared climax, however, he didn’t stop. He kept licking and lashing her clit, occasionally leaving the bundle of nerves and finding her entrance, stabbing up into her with his tongue. He pushed her and pushed her until, finally, she burst.
Stars winked in and out on the back of her eyelids. Emotions swirled inside her, effervescent and ethereal.
The world became nothing but a dream. Where she was now... the secrets of the universe were within reach.
She registered heat and weight blanketing her... connected that heat and weight to Henry. He’d moved up her body and over her.
He set the blunt tip of his cock at her entrance, thrust inside, and sent her orgasm firing to a new level with his penetration.
Henry held still, his cock buried inside Jess, savouring the feel of her inner walls contracting around him.
Fuuuck, feeling her milking him was amazing.
Pleasure overrode his will, and his hips started moving of their own volition... in and out, in and out, picking up speed as the pleasure intensified.
Jess’s grip on him eased, the tension leaving her muscles. As she slowly drifted down from the peak of pleasure, he scaled its heights, charging towards climax.
Teeth gritted, breaths heaving, he barrelled headlong into his orgasm, guttural groans accompanying his release. He blissed out for several delicious moments, his return to normal consciousness a gradual, languid process.
In the calm after the storm, he and Jess lazily nuzzled and caressed one another, the fire they’d fed subsiding to a warm glow.
Basking in that warm glow, Henry lifted his head, met Jess’s gaze. Her eyes were at half mast, her face a picture of serenity.
The three words he’d been holding in, flowed out of him now - the love inside of him needing to be professed.
“I love you.” he breathed.
The smile that bloomed on Jess’s face was beatific.
“I love you, too.” she murmured.
Happiness instantly ballooned inside him, expanding and stretching.
This was it. This was the best moment of his life.
He was never coming down from this.