Taking a Chance on Love

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Chapter 15

Henry pulled up to the curb in front of his mom’s semi-detached bungalow, threw his truck in park and cut the engine.

It was the last week of October, and he and Josh were about to start on his mom’s kitchen reno.

Months ago, when his mom had called and asked him about doing her kitchen, he’d told her they’d probably be able to start on it early or mid October, and they would have, if their last job converting a bedroom into an office hadn’t taken a little longer than anticipated.

Popping their doors, he and Josh got out, grabbed their tool boxes from the bed of the truck, and headed up the driveway to the house.

The wind was up, and doing it’s best to reach its cold fingers through the flannel jackets he and Josh were both sporting. It rustled through the few die-hard leaves still hanging on to branches in the tree in his mom’s yard, succeeded in plucking a couple off, and sent them scuttling down the street.

Henry stepped up to the front door, gave a perfunctory knock, and went ahead and tried the handle. Finding it unlocked, he opened the door, called out a ‘Hello?’

An answering, ‘hey’, came from deeper inside the house. His mom was either in the bathroom or her bedroom.

The layout of his mom’s semi was simple. The front hall led right into the living room (it was actually one corner of the living room), the kitchen and living room shared a wall, and a hallway led from the far end of the living room to the bedrooms and bathroom.

“I’ll be right out.” she called and, as promised, appeared in the hallway a moment later.

It was just after seven thirty, and his mom didn’t start work at the pharmacy until nine, but she was dressed and ready for the day, looking professional in black pants, and a grey blouse, her hair pulled back in a twist.

“Morning.” she smiled.

“Hey, mom.” he replied

As his mom came down the hallway, Henry started forward, Josh right behind him. The three of them gathered at the door to the kitchen.

“Ms. C, you got your take-out menus ready?” Josh asked.

“Yep.” she replied. “Got their numbers saved in my contacts.”

“Is it okay for us to start?” Henry asked, looking in at the kitchen. “We gotta disconnect the appliances and everything in here. If you haven’t eaten yet, we can wait, just take the doors off the cupboards for now.”

“No, go ahead.” his mom replied. “I’m going to stop for a bite on the way to work.”

He nodded, headed into the kitchen, set his tool box down on the floor. Josh didn’t follow him, instead he went back out to the truck to retrieve the drop cloth they would lay down to protect his mom’s floors from their boots as they tracked in and out of the house. He also took care of disconnecting the appliances, the lines for the faucet and dishwasher, and the gas outlets.

By the time his friend joined him in separating doors from hinges, Henry had several doors off and leaning against the wall, waiting to be taken away.

His mom stayed and watched the dismantling of her kitchen for a bit, chatting with them, then left them to it. Around eight thirty, she reappeared in the doorway, told them she was leaving for work.

Henry paused in his deconstruction, turned to her, screwdriver in hand.

“Have a good one.” he said. “We’ll probably still be here when you get home tonight.”

His mom finished work at five. He and Josh would probably stay at it until six.

“I was gonna grab a burger on the way home, you want me to bring you guys something?” she asked.

“Sure. A burger sounds great.”

“Thanks, Ms. C.” Josh put in.

His mom pulled out her phone, took down what they wanted on their burgers.

“Alright.” she said, putting her phone away and looking up at them. “I’ll see you boys later.”

“See ya, mom.”

“See ya, Ms.C.”

While his mom went out to her car and started it up, Henry pulled out his phone, texted Jess that he’d be having dinner at his mom’s. His mom had just driven off when she sent him back a ‘thumbs up’ emoji.

Henry shoved his phone back in his pocket. Before getting back to work, he went out to the living room, and turned on his mom’s TV, changed it to a pop-rock music station, and turned up the volume.

Working alongside his best bud, listening to jams, the work day flew by, as it usually did.

It wasn’t lost on Henry how fortunate he and Josh were that they’d done well with their handyman business. And he knew Josh felt the same pride and gratitude he did. Not only did they get to make a good living doing something they enjoyed, they got to do it together. The teenagers they’d been had made good on the dreams they’d had.

As happy as Henry was with his professional life, these days, it was his personal life that brought him the most pleasure. Being with Jess was better than he ever could have imagined. He’d wanted to be with her for so long, and now that he was, he was a happy, happy man.

Basically, the only time he and Jess spent apart, was when they were at work. It was a good thing he did work with Josh, Henry mused, because lately, the only time he spent with his best friend was at work. The rest of the time, he was with Jess. Over the last couple of months, the two of them had made up for lost time, and then some.

He was surprised Josh hadn’t bitched at him yet for slacking on their friendship. But, maybe he didn’t feel he could because the person monopolizing all of his time was his sister.

Henry spent so much time at Jess’s place, it now felt more like home than his own apartment.

He’d basically moved in with her. All his essentials had found their way over to her apartment - his phone charger, his toiletries, some of his movies and games. He’d started bringing his groceries to her place, unpacking them into her fridge and cupboards.

The only time he was at his place, was on the weekend when he had to do laundry.

Thinking on it now, Henry couldn’t help but arrive at the opinion that he and Jess should move in together. It really didn’t make sense for him to keep his apartment. He was essentially paying fifteen hundred dollars a month for storage space.

Excitement ignited inside him. The idea of asking Jess if she wanted to move in together sounded wonderful and right to him.

His excitement spawned an eagerness, an impatience, to get home and see Jess. Of course, that impatience had the effect of making it feel like time had slowed down, the hours left in the day seeming to stretch on.

Henry thought about telling Josh his newly formed plan to ask Jess to move in with him. His excitement made the urge to share strong. But, he refrained from sharing. He wasn’t going to discuss this with Jess’s brother before he discussed it with her.

Other than making one trip out to grab some lunch and pick up their trailer from the storage lot where they parked it when they didn’t need it, he and Josh worked steadily, their flow uninterrupted.

By the time his mom was due home, they had the majority of the cupboards and counters out and packed into their trailer. They’d take the last of them out tomorrow, drop them off at Habitat for Humanity, then go pick up the new cupboards at the warehouse where they were being stored, and start on installing them.

If his mom had still wanted the wall between the kitchen and living room converted into a half wall, they would have done that before installing the new cupboards and counters, but she’d changed her mind on that.

Thanks to Henry pointing out that converting the wall to a half wall might not be best.

Installation of the cupboards was going to take a few days, but once it was done, the electrical and plumbing could be reconnected and his mom could have use of her kitchen again. It would be a bit of a mess, but it would be usable.

They’d install her new tile splash back, lay down her new flooring, and finally, they’d paint. All in all, if they didn’t have any delays, from start to finish, it would probably take them a couple of weeks to finish everything his mom wanted done.

Looking over the kitchen, thinking about the next step in the reno, Henry was stretching out a kink in his back when his mom came home a little after five. He didn’t hear her come in, but caught movement out of the corner of his eye and turned his head to see her standing in the doorway to the kitchen, takeout bags in one hand, a cardboard drink tray with three drinks, in the other.

“Wow,” she said, eyes roving over the room. “...it’s amazing how much bigger it looks in here.”

Henry had been just about to start on taking out the next cupboard, but didn’t. Dinner was here, and he was hungry.

Setting down the crowbar he held, he walked over to stand by his mom, the delicious smell of burgers and fries wafting his way.

Josh finished removing the cupboard he’d already started on, then set his pry bar down and came to stand with them, joining them in looking over the kitchen.

“Tomorrow we’ll take out the last of the cupboards,” Henry said. “We should be able to get that done in the morning. We’ll drive over and drop everything off at Habitat for Humanity, then swing by the warehouse and pick up your new cupboards and counter tops. We should be able to start installing them tomorrow afternoon.”

His mom nodded at all of that.

“Sounds good.” she replied and started for her dining table with the food.

The music was still playing on the TV in the living room, and Henry went and turned it off, then joined his mom and Josh at the dining table, which was at the end of her living room across from the kitchen.

They cracked open the brown paper bags, and the smell of the greasy food intensified, had Henry’s mouth watering. In no time at all, he wolfed down his double cheeseburger and fries.

The three of them chatted some as they ate, but chewing occupied their mouths most of the time. Not long after they’d all finished, he and Josh headed out.

“You wanna do something tonight?” Josh asked when they were halfway to his place. “Shoot some pool at Frankie’s?” he suggested.

Henry promptly declined. Preoccupied with getting home to Jess, he didn’t even notice the disappointment on his friend’s face.

He dropped his bud off at home, headed straight over to Jess’s, his foot a little heavier on the gas pedal than usual.

***

Josh let himself into his apartment, washed up and changed before parking it on his sofa in front of the TV.

As he flipped through channels, searching for something to watch, he tried to ignore the irritation he was feeling.

Seriously... Henry couldn’t take one night off from Jess to hang out with him? His buddy was really phoning it in with their friendship lately, and it was starting to get on Josh’s nerves.

Yeah, they saw each other every day at work, but that wasn’t the same as hanging out. They used to hang out a couple of nights every week. They hadn’t hung out, just the two of them, in over a month. Either Jess was with them, or Jess and Laura and Greg were with them.

Josh didn’t enjoy being the third, or fifth wheel.

But, like he could complain. His best friend was with his sister.

Josh sighed and continued flipping through channels, finding nothing he wanted to watch.

Something else he wasn’t happy about was the fact that there was never anything good on TV anymore.

***

Jess had finished dinner, she’d made herself chicken stir-fry with rice and veggies, and was watching TV when Henry texted her he was downstairs in the building’s lobby. She pushed off the sofa, went and let him in and returned to the living room. When he got up to the apartment, he joined her in front of the TV.

“Hey, babe.” he smiled, greeting her with a quick kiss on the lips.

“Hey.” she echoed, snuggling against him.

She’d missed him at dinner, was glad he was home now.

“Whatchya watching?” he asked.

“Nothing.” she shrugged. “I’ve just been flipping.”

Henry reached for the remote on the coffee table, sat back. She assumed he was going to look through the channels, see what was on, but he turned the TV off, set the remote back on the table. He turned to her, an eager expression on his face, and she lifted her brows at him.

Had something on his mind, did he?

“What’s up?” she asked.

“I’ve been thinking...” he began, and paused.

For some reason he went from looking enthusiastic, to looking kinda nervous.

That change in demeanor had Jess looking at Henry closer, her curiosity piqued as to what he’d been thinking.

“About...?” she asked, stretching out the word, prodding him.

“... what do you think about us... moving in together?” he asked.

She blinked, her brows reaching new heights, surprised at what he’d had on his mind.

Henry wanted to move in together?

Her surprise was quickly overtaken by delight.

Henry wanted to move in together!

“I’m practically living here already...” he continued, apparently ready to list reasons why moving in together was a good idea.

He didn’t need to sell her on the idea. She was in! But... instead of jumping into his lap like she wanted to, she put on a show of hemming and hawing, her happiness making her playful.

“Move in together?” she asked, in an obviously teasing tone. “I don’t know about that.” she tapped her chin in an ‘I’m thinking’ gesture. “I mean, living with a boy?" she screwed up her face like that was gross. “Boys are messy...”

Henry half chuckled, half scoffed at that.

“You’re messier than I am.” he smirked.

Yeah. That was true.

“You leave the toilet seat up.” she countered.

“Once.” Henry put in. “I left it up once. Maybe twice.”

He’d left it up more than that, but whatever.

“And you hog the remote...” she continued.

That got her an eye roll.

“I do not.”

He did, too.

“I cook you dinner...” he said. ” ... and... I give you orgasms whenever you want.”

She smiled wide. He did do that.

“Well...” she said, drawing out the word, wobbling her head back and forth, as if still deciding. “... for food and sex... I guess I can learn to share the remote.”

Henry’s lips twitched, then settled into a sensual smile when she climbed into his lap.

Her happiness had gone from making her playful to making her horny.

Henry’s lips parted in welcome as she lowered her mouth to his. She threaded her tongue between the fence of his teeth and twined it with his.

He tasted of pickle from his burger.

Good thing she liked pickles.

“I’ll give my apartment manager notice.” he murmured into their kiss.

She ‘mmm’d’ in response, then murmured, “I’ll make room for your stuff.”

Well... she’d try. That was going to be a trick. She had her fair share of clothes and junk.

Neither of them said anything more, their kiss spiralling out, desire and pleasure consuming them.

Henry slipped his hands to the small of her back, snuck them under the hem of her shirt, and slid them up, finding the clasp of her bra, and quickly undoing it. Her breasts freed from their constraints, he palmed them, thrummed her nipples with his thumbs. His kneading and strumming sent zings of pleasure down a direct line to Jess’s core.

She was wet and ready... and the condoms were so very far away.

Breaking their kiss, she leaned back from Henry.

“I’ll go get a condom.” she panted.

“I’ve got one.” he said, and leaned forward, pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.

He pulled out the familiar foil packet, tossed his wallet to the coffee table.

Jess stood up, quickly ditched her jeans and panties. Henry undid his fly, freeing his erection from its denim confinement. His erection got a brief moment of fresh air while he ripped open the condom before it was sheathed in latex.

Placing her right knee on the seat cushion beside his left leg, she lowered herself back into his lap, straddling him, her left knee hugging his right leg. She grasped his penis, pointed it straight up, angled her hips forward, and hovered her core over it’s tip. Slowly, she sank down, taking him inch by inch, until she was fully seated.

Henry’s hands bunched in her shirt, started hiking it up and she took over, whipping it off and tossing it to the floor. She dropped her bra on top of it a second later.

Henry stripped out of his shirt, reclined back into the sofa cushions, his arms wrapping around her, bringing her with him.

Their mouths reunited, their lips pressing harder, their tongues engaging in an aggressive skirmish.

Jess’s core throbbed with want, demanding more, and she complied, starting a subtle rocking with her hips, moving at a slow tempo, soft and easy.

That sedate pace didn’t last long, rapidly crescendoing into a feverish gallop.

Kissing became impossible.

***

Groaning, Henry gritted his teeth, happily bearing the excruciating pleasure of Jess riding him to within an inch of his life.

His neck arched, his head pushing back into the sofa. His fingers dug into Jess’s hips, his toes curled into the carpet.

Her inner muscles gripped him tighter, and she started making that keening sound she made when she was getting close to the finish line.

Fuck, he loved that sound.

He was close too. When she went over, she was going to take him with her.

She buried her face in his neck, her hips moving up and down on him, her hands gripping his shoulders. Her movements became choppy, disconnected. With one last forward thrust, she came with a strung out cry. Convulsing, panting, she ground against him... and sent him over the edge.

Fuuuck, yeah.

Losing himself in ecstasy, he urged her to lift her hips, drove up into her over and over again, thrusting until he was empty, until the storm had passed.

Energy spent, he sagged into the sofa, Jess sprawled over him, pressing little butterfly kisses down his neck, across his shoulder.

Sighing with utter contentment, he stroked a hand up and down her back, tracing the delicate column of her spine.

They lingered like that, holding one another, for several long moments before Jess moved off of him, settled on the cushion beside him.

On legs still feeling a bit like noodles, he got up, went to the bathroom, disposed of the condom and washed up. When he returned to the living room, Jess was once again dressed, and sitting on the sofa. She’d turned the TV back on and was surfing Netflix.

He went to her, collecting his shirt off the floor and putting it back on on his way. Her gaze shifted from the screen to him. She watched him approach, her eyes at half mast, a sleepy, sated smile on her face.

Damn, he thought, moving toward her.

She was just the sexiest, sweetest thing on the planet.

He returned her smile, joined her on the sofa, dropping a kiss on her mouth and cuddling up with her, the two of them turning their attention to the TV.

It was only eight o’clock. They’d watch some Netflix and chill before bed.

Out of the corner of his eye, Henry noticed Jess turn her head, look over at him. He met her gaze, took in the look in her eye. The fire they’d just put out, was coming back to life in her eyes.

Apparently, his proposing they move in together, had been a real turn on for her.

He grabbed the remote, turned off the TV, pulled Jess to her feet and escorted her to the bedroom.

Forget Netflix and chilling.

Time for round two.

***

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