Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Slow, .

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Is he really too old to find love? Or too ordinary to be attractive to women? Some more sailing and the slow growth of a romance.

A single, four letter expletive escaped my lips as I started work on the fourth screw and couldn't get a purchase on the rusty fixing. What (another expletive deleted) idiot would use steel screws to secure a toilet pan? It was a hot day, I was working in – literally as well as metaphorically – the smallest room, doubled over trying to get a purchase on the rusty screw; sweat pouring off me. I'd discarded my t-shirt half an hour previously, and I'd just slipped the top of my boiler-suit down and tied the arms round my waist. Let me tell you, I'm no woman's idea of 'hunk', more like the weedy guy who traditionally gets sand kicked in his face on the beach.

It wouldn't matter in cosmic terms if I cracked the old porcelain pan – that was what I was doing, replacing it – but I wanted it out intact ... let's just say, for hygiene reasons. The door behind me opened and hit my foot.

"Just a minute," I called, clambered to my feet for a welcome stretch, and opened the door, to reveal my customer. Mrs. Jones, 'call me Wendy', was fairly typical of my clientèle; single, divorced or widowed women for the most part. Wendy was the latter – her husband killed in Iraq. Some customers had husbands who were just incapable of skilled manual work, others, husbands who were commuting or who worked such long hours they might almost not be married at all. Ah! You're thinking ... opportunities! Well, you might think so. I can't deny that here have been what you might call 'offers', or that I have on occasion (since my divorce) taken the offers up, but in my fifties I don't have the same drives I had a few years ago, and I really didn't want the complications.

"Harry, I never thought to hear anything like that from you,"

"Ah, well, I can turn the air blue on occasion," I smiled, wryly.

"I suspect you could use this," she said, holding out a pint glass full of water with ice floating in it.

"Thanks! You're dead right there," I said fervently, taking the glass and taking a sip. It was lightly flavoured with ginger. The ginger would reduce the chance of nausea if I drank it quickly; I was truly grateful.

"if you'd like to come downstairs when you're ready, I'll make some coffee. I know it's a bit hot for that, but you do like your coffee, don't you?"

"Yep, certainly do. Thanks. I'll just deal with this screw, and I'll be down."

The idea of a cup of coffee, and Wendy made a really good cup of coffee, was a definite incentive. I gave up on the screwdriver and reached for my cordless drill to drill the head off the screw. Once that was out, I ran a utility knife through the sealant around the base, lifted and tilted it back, gently pulled it out and carried it downstairs, out into the garden.

The kettle was boiling as I walked into the kitchen, having at least washed my hands – I was getting a bit desperate for a shower – and Wendy filled the cafetière.

"You make great coffee," I approved.

"I love the way you appreciate it," she said, smiling.

"Actually, it's about my lunchtime. Would you mind if I fetched my sandwiches and ate them with your excellent coffee?"

"Not at all – I'd be offended if you'd wanted to sit outside in your car!"

"Not really?"

"No, not really – I know you might need a break. But ... well, I do enjoy your company, you know."

Over lunch, we chatted about several things; our likes and dislikes, how I came to be doing odd jobs, and after a while, the subject of her late husband.

"I was quite angry at first, you know... with him for getting himself killed. Now, I've got mixed feelings. Partly sorrow, partly pride, partly dismay at the disorder and hatred ... I don't know..." she trailed off. "Can I ask you something really personal?"

"You're welcome to ask, as long as I'm free to not answer!"

"You're ... not gay, are you?"

I had to smile. "No, I'm not, though one or two of my friends are. It's not something that's ever appealed to me."

"You ... must ... how can I put this ... have opportunities? I mean, you find some of your customers attractive?"

"Certainly I do ... but I like to keep my customers, and I like to keep my friends, and the problem with sex is it changes relationships. I ... find it difficult to ... be intimate with someone without forming an attachment, so it's better not to, on the whole."

She chewed that over in her mind for a while as we sat there in silence.

"I ... see," she said eventually. "I was wondering ... Okay. This doesn't follow on from what we've just been talking about. I promise I'm not coming on to you, though I'll confess I had been thinking of it. Would you come to supper tonight? There's someone I'd like you to meet. Actually, it's someone who wants to meet you."

"Well, yes, I suppose I could," I began slowly, "but if so, I'd better get on and fix your toilet!" I finished my sentence at my normal conversational speed, and she smiled at me.

The rest of the job was reasonably straightforward – the worst part being necessary cleaning up where the old unit had been; the wall behind the cistern and the floor were quite ... disgusting. It didn't take long, though, and with the exception of some necessary touching-up of paintwork I was finished by five. Wendy was pleased with the work and gave me a cheque straight away. I promised that I'd take the old stuff to the dump in the morning.

When I got home, I unloaded the car – I never leave my tools in the car overnight, even in Felixstowe that'd be asking for trouble – stripped and dumped all my clothes in the washer, trimmed my beard and hair (running the clippers over is so much more convenient than going to a barber) and showered ... very thoroughly.

How to dress? I could do 'formal', well, okay, fairly formal, but it wouldn't really be 'me'. I settled on dark green cargo trousers and a matching short-sleeved shirt, before sitting down to check my emails and catch up on the accounts.

I really only use the car when I have to – which mainly means, for work. I carry a lot of different tools and basic supplies which are both heavy and bulky. As I wasn't going to need any of that, I walked the mile-and-a-half to Wendy's and rapped on the door with my knuckles. She opened it after a short wait and beckoned me in with an expansive gesture.

"You really need for me to install you a door bell," I said, smiling.

"Well, maybe," she smiled back, "but I never noticed you having any problem getting my attention."

Oh, yes? I suppressed a frown as she waved me into the sitting room. It was a pleasant room, with large doors, which were open, dividing it from a dining room. There was a handsome, dark wood dining table, set with silverware and crystal glass. My attention, however, was not on that, or the furnishings of the sitting room, but on Wendy's other guest. I supposed she was in her thirties; stocky, but with spectacular, dark red hair, green eyes and freckles. I've always liked redheads; that hair... tumbled thickly in a cascade of waves, to below her shoulders. She was holding a sherry glass with a pale liquid in it.

"Harry, meet Katryn Jones, no relation. Kate, meet Henry Hopkins, my indispensable handyman. Harry, there's a few minutes to wait; would you like a sherry? Kate's got Tio Pepe, but I've got..." she paused,

"That sounds fine to me," I said. Usually a scotch drinker, I quite enjoy a glass of sherry from time to time. She brought it and I sipped - it was rather good.

"This is good," I commented. Wendy smiled and left the room; there was an awkward silence. I didn't know what to say. "Um, how do you know Wendy?" I asked.

"Oh, our husbands served together," she said. "Well Bill died, Wendy moved up here, but I kept in touch. Then..." she stopped, turned and looked out of the window. There was a long silence, but this time not awkward, "then, my Pete was killed by an IED last year and I came and stayed here for a while." She turned back and looked at me, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "Wendy helped me through the worst. But, what about you ... what do you do?"

"Whatever's needed," I said, "dripping taps, put up shelves, repair furniture, assemble flat-packs, change light-fittings ... just not anything that requires a qualification."

"You do joinery, don't you? Wendy said you made a built-in cupboard for a friend of hers."

"Oh, yes. I like that sort of thing, gates and fences as well, hang doors."

"You know, I'd love to be able to do that stuff."

"Why don't you? I learned most of it as I went along."

"I did a home-maintenance course; I can change a plug and simple stuff like that. I know how to replace a tap-washer, for example, but I can't find anyone who'll teach me basic, traditional woodwork."

I looked at her speculatively. After a moment, I held out my hand.

"Squeeze my hand, as hard as you can."

She looked puzzled, hesitated, but took my hand and squeezed. She had a pretty good grip – it was almost painful.

"Good," I said, holding out the other hand, "now the other." That was almost as good. I nodded, and when she released my hand I held both of mine out, palm out, about a foot apart.

"Try to push them together," I said.

She still looked puzzled, but didn't hesitate this time. I was able to hold the position of my hands ... just.

"Okay," I said, and got her to try to push my hands apart, then to force them up, then down. I was sure; she was reasonably strong. I walked over to the mantel and tilted the picture hanging there.

"Straighten that for me," I said.

She looked at me and raised an eyebrow – I smiled. "Relax," I said, "I'm just trying something."

She straightened the picture, stepped back, then made a tiny correction. I reached in my pocket for a small spirit-level I often carry. The picture had a very slight tilt, but as far as I could tell it was dead parallel to the mantel-shelf. To my mind 'looks right' is more important than 'of course it's level'.

"Very good," I approved. "Can you draw?"

"Well, sort of," she said, "I like drawing, but I don't know I'm very good."

At that moment, Wendy walked into the dining area.

"Just about ready. If you need to wash your hands or anything, now would be a good time."

When we sat at table, I was opposite Katryn. Wendy served us soup – clearly home-made and delicious. That provoked a discussion of culinary skills, which continued through as we consumed a poached white fish – I didn't catch the name, it wasn't cod which many English consider the only white fish worth eating (more fool them ... what are they going to do when our seas are fished out of cod?), matched perfectly with a herby sauce and vegetables ... and washed down with an excellent dry white wine. Conversation, as they say, flowed freely. Wendy produced a cheese-board, but commented,

"There's a dessert, so don't scoff all my cheese!"

When she produced the dessert, I couldn't resist.

"Wendy, marry me!"

"Don't joke about that," she said very seriously. "I did think you'd like it, though."

Dessert was a syrup suet pudding. Suet puddings are out of fashion – very stodgy. But for me, quite irresistible. This one was truly excellent. Actually, 'stodgy' was a gross libel on that pudding – it was light and fluffy, relatively, anyway. Absolutely gorgeous.

"Seriously, Wendy, I can't remember a better meal, and that pudding was just wonderful."

She blushed prettily and just quietly said, "Thank you."

"Before supper, Katryn was telling me she liked to draw."

"Oh, she does, and she's very good."

At that point Katryn interjected, "I'm just an amateur," in protest.

Wendy got up and left the room, returning with a wad of printer paper and a soft pencil, handing them to her. Katryn took them reluctantly.

"What do you want me to draw?" she asked.

"That sideboard," I got in as Wendy opened her mouth. It was an elaborate antique piece – possibly Georgian, I don't really know, not as fussy as a lot of Victorian stuff.

She set to work and became engrossed, soon enough handing over a sketch that could have been used as a book illustration.

"But ... this is fantastic," I said. Katryn was already sketching again. I could hardly take my eyes off the paper in my hand. Then another was thrust at me – Wendy, to the life. I gazed at it in wonder. When, several minutes later, Wendy spoke, it took a couple of attempts for her to get my attention. She took the sketch of herself and handed to me, one of myself. At least, I supposed it was me. Perhaps no-one ever seems themselves as others see them, and the vital point about art is the conveying of a unique perception of the subject by the artist. I don't want to try to describe my sketched portrait, except that it was a humbling experience to be pictured in such a complimentary manner.

"Stop, stop," laughed Wendy. "You don't have to use up all my paper. And look at Harry – you've rendered him speechless!"

And she had. I looked from one to the other and back to my portrait and the picture of the sideboard.

"Harry," Wendy spoke gently, "I've got some nice Port, or coffee?"

I just looked at her. She shrugged and went into the kitchen, returning several minutes later with a mug of her wonderful coffee. The smell, and a couple of sips, restored my ability to speak.

"Thanks, Wendy."

"It's okay, Harry. I've seen others stunned by Kate's artistic talent. Now, I know Kate is too shy to ask, so I will. Could you take Kate as an apprentice?"

It's just as well I was already sitting, as I might well have collapsed in a heap. I might as well admit that, before the meal I had been thinking Katryn probably had the necessary native ability and strength to learn joinery. While I'm at it, I might as well admit I found her very attractive. Which set up some conflicts; could I teach – and if necessary, discipline – someone whose very presence was a serious distraction? I thought hard, for maybe three minutes.

"Katryn, I think you've got potential ... I mean, I think you could be a very good woodworker if that's what you want. I can't take you as an official apprentice, though, because I have no formal qualifications myself, and my business doesn't earn enough to pay two people. I will, if you like, give you some lessons in basic joinery, and if you want to shadow me as I work, you would be welcome. How does that sound?"

Her face lit up with a broad smile and there was no hesitation in her reply; "Great!"

"In which case," I went on, "if you'd like to report to my workshop Saturday morning, we could make a start."

She nodded, and her smile got even broader. My glance flicked to Wendy and I caught part of a procession of different expressions across her face. There was satisfaction there, certainly, but there was ... what? Pain ... resignation ... sadness? When she noticed I was looking at her, she smiled, but I didn't think it was more than skin deep; her eyes weren't smiling, at all.

"Why don't we get comfortable next door and have a drink to celebrate? Any requests?"

Katryn looked at her, "I seem to remember you've got a bottle of Baileys tucked away out of sight somewhere."

"You would. Harry?"

"I don't suppose you've got any scotch hidden anywhere?"

"As it happens, yes. Glenmorangie, Talisker, Bushmills?"

"Wow, tough choice, though Bushmills is Irish – it's very good. Glenmorangie, please. No ice, a little – very little - water"

She slipped a CD into the player and left the room. The sound of Abba filled the room. When Wendy returned with three glasses, she apologised and turned it down to a level that would permit normal conversation.

"Wendy," I said, "Abba?"

"What can I say?" she asked, "I like them, and as it happens, I know Kate does too."

The rest of the evening was spent debating the relative merits of sixties and seventies pop, jazz, metal, cross-over ... well, let's just say, music in general.

I walked home, slightly fuzzy from alcohol and the prospect of forced proximity to Katryn.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Consensual / Romantic / Slow /