Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Hearth of the Heart - Hank and Judith

Hank Stanley sits at home, his bare feet on his coffee table, finishing up the file sorting he had tried to do earlier.  Now he is in a much better mood.  Almost giddy.  He and Ford had finally cleared the smoke between them.  They had even had a beer together.  Only one, so he could drive home and rest before he had to go in for his next shift in the morning.

Typing in an address he pulls up his new Google Play account.  Well, it wasn't new, but Wendy had set it up for him a couple of years ago and he'd never really used it.  Now he was feeling so good and almost competent, he decided to give it a shot.  He set it up with his credit card and put some money on it.  The movies all looked interesting, but he was in a mood to relax, so he looked at their music store.  He looked for some nice jazz and found many options immediately.  In a good mood and almost sentimental, he buys a Miles Davis album and figures out how to play it ... and then shops around for more.

Judith was not distraught after her dinner with Erica, but it was a little emotionally exhausted. She kept taking out her phone and almost calling Connie, or Hank. She needed to connect. She loved Connie beyond reason, but tonight she needed Hank. She dialed and then clicked before it rang through. The ferry was about to announce the Alexandra terminal. He was just a short walk away from her right now. She slid her phone in her purse and disembarked, feeling comfort already as she walked the streets of his town. Before she knew it she was knocking at his door, hoping her impulsive choice wasn't an imposition on him.

Hank is on his couch sort of staring at his ceiling and letting the music wash over him.  At the knock at his door, he hops up to get it, half expecting to see Josh Greene, but instead he smiles wide.  "Judith!"  he back up and opens the door wider for her to come in.  "What a wonderful surprise."  he closes the door behind her and kisses her softly in welcome.

Judith kisses him back and then hugs him hard, like she really needs one right now "Oh I'm glad. I'm sorry to intrude. It's been a tough day and I just missed you. I know our plans are next weekend and you work in the morning." She grips at the back of his shoulders and buries her face in his neck.

Hank hugs her hard right back and places his hand on her head as she buries her face in his neck.  "You, my dearest, are welcome here day or night.  Even if I'm not here."  he kisses her hair.  "I understand.  I had a bit of a long day myself."  he inhales.  "I told Ford about you ..."

Judith has to laugh "Thank you. That's an interesting coincidence. You tell me yours and then I'll tell you mine? Maybe we should sit?" She pulls her head back and looks at him "I'd love to take off my boots." She admits "Nicer to look at than walk in."

Hank arches his brows.  "Yes, lets sit."  he motions to the couch and lounger.  "Oh those do look lovely ... off your feet and beside my door."  he teases.  "Can I get you anything?"  he asks hesitating a bit.  "Well HE called ME ...   and I told him about you and how important you are to me, and my being happy and ..."  he sighs.  "That's always where he cuts me off.  But this time ...  I went to see him and we ... we talked.  About Elizabeth ... his mother."  he blows out a breath, the anger from earlier coming to the fore and being beaten down by him almost out of habit.

Judith starts unlacing her tall brown boots and bites her lip while grinning at his beside my door comment and then says "I have everything I need." with a loving look in his eyes before she keeps unlacing and listens intently to him. She sees his emotion and takes one hand off her boots, reaching for his "It's OK. Tell me more please?"

Hank takes her hand.  "Actually, you don't ... but I can correct that sooner, rather than later."  he murmurs and then he inhales and exhales again.  "She lied to him, Judith ... most importantly about her visits to me at the hospital .. and he's been angry about .... he saw me with Henrietta ... the nurse that took care of me in the hospital."  he diverts his eyes.  "The one I had the affair with before I moved here."  he sighs.  "But ... we sorted it all .. even has a beer together.  He wants to meet you."

Judith ignores the boots and puts both her hands on his "Oh god...I'm so sorry Hank. But it sounds like you guys found some much needed resolve. And your son is more...enthusiastic about us than my daughter, who I just came from dinner with, but your conversation still sounds harder...." She moves one hand up to his face and traces the burns and then kisses them lightly, continually affirming that she adores him as a whole person, scars and all, past and all.

Hank nods.  "We both cried."  he admits with an awkward laugh.  He smiles at the kiss.  "So I don't have to feed you, then?  Tell me about your dinner."  hes a little anxious.  Had he been rejected already?

Judith smiles "That's good. Crying is a good release. I had...decent...Thai food, full review after more important conversation." She leans back to her boots, pulling one off and starting on the other one. They're those kind of boots. She has a light pair of socks under them the same colour as her mint green sweater dress. "Erica is having trouble accepting the idea of anyone who's not Eric. She did actually eventually say you sound nice. I didn't push it. She's having a rough time right now in general and fell apart about her job. I'm a little worried about her to be honest."

Hank watches the struggle.  "Well decent food can make up for a lot."  he offers and then sighs a little at Erica's reluctance.  "Well.  I am nice and I am not trying to be her father.  Only your friend and lover."  he strokes his chin.  "Maybe don't word it like that to her."  he sighs.  "Well maybe a lot of it was bad timing?"  he offers.

Judith smiles "I did actually say some of that. And she outright asked if I'd slept with you so she knows that too. She was a little alarmed at the timing. I'm not, so you know. Her hesitation made me hold back telling I feel about you...I mean I guess it's you I should really be saying it to first anyhow...." She suddenly has that anxious look she got when she asked him to go to bed with her and swallows hard before looking up "The truth is Hank....I know it's soon...but...... I love you." She bravely meets his eyes again as her fill with tears.

Hank listens and can guess where she's going.  When she looks up, he meets her eyes and, with barely half a second between them, blurts out "I love you."

Judith starts laughing and crying as they both say it at the same time and throws her arms around him "Well look at know I'm never going to get these boots off at this rate."

Hank laughs along with her.  "I guess I will just have to help a lady."  he says in mock exasperation and lowers himself to one knee, examining the boot.  "Good lord, woman, how DO you get this thing off?"  he begins to tug at the heel.  "You need a boot jack, damn near.""

Judith giggles "You just have to unhook a million times. Possibly a bit like a medieval hockey skate?" She jokes "So chivalrous of you though."

Hank cracks his knuckles as if he is going to tackle a large project.  "I am going to buy a bench to put right by the door."  he announces as he unhooks.  "If you really love me, you will promise me you will NEVER get a bra with this many hooks."  he scoffs.  "Or I'll be sending you home ahead of me.  Just open the door, sit down and I'll follow in 15 minutes."

Judith laughs "I do believe that's called a corset and as much as I love you, and lingerie...I also do enjoy breathing. Breathing is wonderful. And considering you have the keys, I'd be flopping around like a fish at your door and all the town would talk..." she can't help but laugh at the thought.

Hank snorts.  "Didn't those go out of fashion with hoop skirts?"  he pulls at the boot, it comes off suddenly and he falls backward onto the floor.  "Victory!"  he cheers.  Then he snaps his fingers.  "Right.  I can't have you suffocating at the door in your corset boots waiting on me."  he stands and goes to the kitchen, opening a drawer and bringing something out.  He comes back and kneels beside her, holding up a key.  "So I guess I had better have a key made."  he pauses, as obviously he has.  His voice softens.  "I was going to give it to you next weekend, but ... why put off till tomorrow what you can do right now?"

Judith looks both overjoyed and overwhelmed "Hank..." That one was extra breathy and she exhales again after it "Thank you. You haven't even seen my I REALLY need to clean. This is wonderful." She pulls her key ring from her purse beside her and stick it right on and then drops the purse and kisses him deeply.

Hank shudders.  When she speaks his name that way it gets him every time.  "What does your house being clean have to do with the key to my front door?"  he wonders after the kiss.  He gathers her in his arms and stands with ease.  "Now where do I put you down?"  he looks at her with a slight grin.

Judith loses her train of through about cleaning completely and melts in his arms "What's that dear.....oh.....bed please, yours in fact, since it's near." She grins back and feels swept off her feet in every way possible, and madly in love with the man who's doing it.

Hank smiles and heads there without another word.  He sits her on the edge.  "Now, you rest and take the rest off.  Your coat, too."  he teases.  "Or I can do it, as soon as I unplug my laptop from the TV and the HDMI thing." he caresses her face and for a moment goes serious.  "You know ... I am glad Ford accepted you.  I'm too old to make unpopular decisions."

Judith looks at him as he sits her down and asks her to disrobe with a big grin "Your laptop? What are you up to Hank?" She sighs at the rest "I'm just glad you two are OK again. Whether he approves of me or's his connection to you." She wastes no time pulling off her sweater dress, her shirt under and her bra, looking at him half nude as he walks away. The lower garments come off and she slides between the sheets and stretches happily. She took off her socks this time so the toes are a little cold, but she suspects her circulation may improve within the next hour.

Hank smiles as she begins to undress.  "Well ... that was so tenuous ..."  he goes and basically disconnects and turns everything off in the front.  Then he comes back plugging in his laptop.  "In case you get bored with me, we can watch movies."  he winks, undresses and gets in with her.  "Give me those....."  he leans forward and reaches for her foot, massaging carefully to improve the circulation.  "See ... had Ford and I not had that talk?  Had we not made up?  It would have been hard for me to keep being as available as I have been."  he chuckles.  "Of course, Wendy would have beaten us both, but ... "

Judith rolls her eyes "Bored? Were you planning on reading to me from encyclopedias tonight instead of sex? Because if that's what it's come to I REALLY need to up my game." She jokes and then offers her feet freely "Mmm that's nice. And I'm glad you're available. Cards on the table, we may have my girls for some of next weekend, not overnight mind you. I like the sounds of this Wendy."

Hank chuckles.  "Let me get these feet warmer and I'll see if I can find another use for my fingers."  he offers.  He nods.  "I wont mind it if they don't.  I just don't want to scare them.  I nearly frightened some clerk into hysterics today at Fords work.  Poor girls eyes got big as saucers and she just stared."  he sighs.  "Part of my charms."  he smiles.  "Wendy is Fords wife.  They were high school sweethearts.  She was pre fire.  And Elizabeth didn't approve of her.  But on that, Ford bucked her and I'm glad he did.  She's always tried to get him to forgive me but I think she also thought he hated me because of the fire.  But it was because of ... my affair with Henrietta."  he moves his hands to her other foot to massage.

Judith listens to it all, wincing at the woman's bad reaction to Hank at Ford's work "That's just rude. I'll talk to the girls if it's an issue but I hope it won't be. For some reason if Elizabeth disapproved of Wendy it makes me like her already..." She laughs and then trails off about Henrietta "You really had a thing with a woman names Henrietta.....Henry Stanley. I said no to a guy named Judas once, true story. Might have been subliminally biblical..." She stops cracking jokes and sighs about Ford "He held onto that for a long time, that anger. Did he yell today? Is he a yeller?" She hesitates "Are you?"

Hank grins.  "If they can get past it ... and kids usually can if they aren't predisposed somehow."  he drops her other foot and looks up at her.  "I did ... it was one of the things that made me smile for the first time.  Well sort of grunt a laugh is more like it.  Maybe it was ... I felt like no one could ever want mt again .. so maybe it was like ... masturbation with my inner woman .. I don't know."  he quips.  he straightens and lays beside her, gathering her in his arms.  "Neither of us is.  We're quiet, stoic Englishmen.  Ford tends to withdraw.  I learned to talk it out when no one would talk to me."  he shrugs.  "But I am not a yeller."

Judith snuggles into him "Inner woman? That's" She giggles and then says "I'm not a yeller either. Eric was now and then and I never knew what to do with it when it happened. It was just his temper, he wasn't abusive, just loud and unexpectedly so because he was otherwise so mild mannered. I've seen it in Erica once or twice too so I guess that's how it goes. It scares the girls though and makes Penny rebel. My parents were both very quiet people, gardeners so maybe they channeled their stress into digging in the soil."

Hank kisses her.  "Hot or not ... please ... please .. don't ask me to wear those boots."  he teases.  "My mother needed me to be calm, so I bottled a lot up.  My father took off when I was very young.  I took a high stress job.  Being calm can mean life or death."  he looks at her closely.  "I told Ford that it felt like I have known you for 40 years."  he suddenly says.  "So strange ... after so long to feel .. so blessed .. and I'm not real religious."

Judith laughs about the boots "Deal. I may give them up myself soon." She runs her fingers up and down his arm and up his neck into his hairline "I'm sorry about your father. You were a better one, as it tends to work out. And you do have a magic with calm and calming me." She smiles "You said that to Ford? He didn't think it was weird? I'm only asking because of Erica. I feel the same way, 40 years might be barely covering it, more like lifetimes Hank, many many...." She leans her forehead into his cheek.

Hank looks grateful to know the boots with more string on them than his engine had hose may become a thing of the past.  Then he grins.  "I gave up a lot to stay in his life as his father." and he smiles.  "He said 'Judith is your Wendy'.  I don't think the time meant much.  We're not teenagers, or even in our twenties, Judith.  I don't know how much time I have, but I want to spend as much of that time with you, sharing our families and loving you."  he leans in for a kiss, caressing her side.

Judith kisses him back intensely, emotionally, saying in between "I want that too." and on the next tiny break apart "I love you Hank Stanley..." Her hands slide up and down him caressing as well and her body rolls to join with his so as much of her skin contacts as much of his as she can, soaking in the warmth and the connection as her kisses become relentless.

Hank feels as if he is melting under her touch and kisses.  "I love you too."  he slides his hand down her body, seeking to please her half as much as she pleases him.  "And I love that you love me."  he swallows, catching himself in an emotional wave.

Judith feels Hank's touch, hears the emotion in his voice and her face is suddenly damp with tears. They salt the kisses as her lovemaking to Hank deepens in tenderness. Her touches on his body are very intentional, gentle, moving them to just stay close not rush to any finish. She could just roll around in his arms kissing him for days, happy to love and be loved.

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