Grace sat in Craig’s truck on a plastic tarp covered in oil wood stain. While she was stooping down in the hardware store someone’s precocious youngster had poured a can of oil stain down her back. It was in her underwear, her hair, and completely ruined her thong Birkenstocks. Craig had been mortified, he’d met this woman, and brings her on a shopping trip to get supplies only to have this happen.
‘I’m so sorry Ms. Underwood, I really am. I’ve never had an incident like this occur on a trip to the hardware store with a customer.’
She looked over at him with her eyes squinting, she was angry but not really with him but the kid well the parents more so. The parents had just let their child run wild and it seemed he’d been wreaking havoc all over the store.
‘It’s okay Mr. Bellows but I’m not sure how I’m going to wash this stuff off. You know…I have no shower. I think Mrs. Chen is gone with her kids today.’
‘I realize that you don’t have a shower. I was wondering would you like to come to my place? It’s not far and I swear I’m not going to kill you.’
Grace looked over at him suspiciously for a moment, ‘well could try but Mrs. Chen but I’m pretty sure her son came to get her today. I’m wondering would I rather be covered in wood stain or take my chances with you possibly murdering me for a shower. Although Mrs. Chen did know you were coming today so if something happens you’d be a suspect.’
He laughed a little and he saw her smile, although she smelled of wood stain she actually had a beautiful lilting laugh and she just lit up when she did. For a moment Craig found himself enchanted and wondered if this had actually been a good idea. But he needed to help her he’d gotten her into this, well sort of. He started to head for his place, he lived in a beautiful old home he’d done most of the refurbishing on himself. After he’d divorced Wendy he bought the house and went to work, it as great way to relieve the stress and anger he had towards her as she continually dragged him in and out of court. Next weekend was his time with his daughter, he had Chelsea two weekends a month, all summer, Christmas break, and they rotated holidays. He suspected that Wendy was getting ready to drag him back into court regarding parental visitation, she seemed to be getting antsy and snippy with him lately. He always knew when a battle was brewing with her. He pulled into the driveway of his house.
Grace was impressed, it was huge, two stories, a farm house of all things. She wondered if he had a girlfriend or children because one person couldn’t live in something this large. He parked she watched as he got out, she was going to make a move but thought better she was still rather oily and she didn’t want to get anything on his truck. He appeared at her door and opened it and helped her out of the cab. He was a gentlemen something she hadn’t seen in awhile, in a long while. This city was so liberal, many times she thought men forgot she was a woman. But she must say Mr. Bellows made her feel like a lady, even when she was covered in wood stain.
‘Ms. Underwood, why don’t we go around the back. That way you can use the laundry room to undress. I can bring you a robe and tell you where the bathroom is and then throw your things in the washer. How does that sound?’
‘It sounds like a good plan.’
‘Well…I always have a plan,’ he told her with a twinkle in his eye.
Grace was trying her best not to get drawn in by his charm and incredible looks and mouth watering physique but it was not easy. He lead her to the back, he had beautiful yard with a deck and stone patio. It had been well kept, she wondered did he do all this himself. He opened the door and she stepped into a mud room, it was large with black and white tiles, it was painted white and a soothing shade of blue. She was amazed if the rest of his house looked like this, it must be dazzling. She looked through another door with a glass pane into a spectacular kitchen. She was awestruck it was beautiful.
‘Ms. Underwood?’ she heard him mutter politely. She’d been scoping out his kitchen so hard, she didn’t notice him open the laundry room door for her to enter.
‘Oh I’m sorry. I’ll step in. And you’ll be back with a robe?’
‘And towel if you’d like? I know that oil is just probably driving you nuts.’
‘Yes, thank you.’
He walked through the door into the kitchen then turned and disappeared. Grace stepped into the laundry room, which was also incredible. Who did this man’s decorating, Martha Stewart? The same calming blue and white that were in the mud room were in the laundry room. He had a front load washer and dryer, Kenmore no less. He looked liked the Made in America type. She stripped down, her clothes were stained. Thank goodness these were just some casual clothes, it wouldn’t be a big loss but she had always liked that Wu-tang t-shirt. Oh well, she thought. Maybe the oil would come out, she hoped it would. Her underwear was another story, this bra and panty set were from Victoria’s Secret and were not a cheap buy. It was turquoise green so she was hoping for the best, they weren’t too stained with oil but oil stains could be hard to get out.
‘Ms. Underwood?’ She heard him outside the door, she opened the washer and dropped her clothing in. She wasn’t looking forward to a strange man handling her skivvies.
‘Yes.’ She hoped he didn’t turn out to be a pervert because she was standing their in absolutely nothing.
‘I’ve got the robe for you.’
‘I’ll stick my hand out and you can pass it to me.’
Grace cracked the door and made sure she stayed pressed close to it so he couldn’t even get an accidental peep of anything but her arm. She stuck her arm out and he handed her the robe which she grabbed swiftly and closed the door.
Craig was shocked, he hadn’t even given her the towel so she wipe out some of the oil from her hair. Even more shocking was what he saw as she stood behind that door. There was a mirror on the opposite wall, he kept it there because sometimes he liked to shave or check himself out after a long day of hard work. It was easier to do it in there when he was grimy but he figured she hadn’t noticed it. He wasn’t trying to look just happened his eyes caught sight of her backside before he knew it was her backside. Goodness, what a nice backside it was. He felt his cock jump but he had to get that under control. This was a client, maybe this was a bad idea after all. She’d had him hot and bothered the moment she opened that door this afternoon. Now her she was at his house with nothing on but his robe about to take a shower in his bathroom.
She opened the door, there she stood, all 5’5″ of her. She looked so tiny in his big robe but goodness she was incredibly sexy.
‘I forgot to give you this, I’m sorry.’
She took the towel gladly and begin to wipe her hair down. It was the most erotic thing Craig had seen in such a long time. It had a been awhile since he’d been with anyone, almost a year. There was this cinnamon goddess standing in his mud room with nothing but a robe on wiping her hair down.
She looked up at him puzzled, ‘Mr. Bellows, you can lead me to your bathroom.’
Craig came out his erotic fantasy, ‘oh, oh yes. Come this way. It’s just down the hallway.’
She followed him, it was an incredible house, the kitchen was marvelous, his decorating was simple and understated, very masculine and it was very beautiful. She noticed on the hallway walls pictures of him in different exotic locales, fishing, hunting, racing, biking, skiing, lots of outdoor stuff. Then pictures of him and his family which consisted of what looked to be his mom and some other men, she figured they were brothers but no dad. Then there were pictures of beautiful blonde little girl. She was very cute, he had pictures with her lots of them and a couple featuring another woman, she was blonde also, who didn’t look happy in any of them. But he looked absolutely joyous and in love with that child. She wanted to ask but figured it wasn’t her place, she was just his customer, they were not friends.
They reached the bathroom it was white, green with silver accents. It had large gray and white block tiles on the floor. It had a glass enclosed shower stall along with a large white clawfoot tub.
‘Here you go, in the cabinet there are more towels. In the shower there’s shampoo, it’s Sauve if that’s okay with you.’
‘Also in the cabinet there’s a hair dryer. The water is warm so check it before you dive in.’
Grace smiled at him as he closed the door and left her. Craig stood on the other side and just sighed. He thought maybe he had made a fatal mistake he was not in the mood for these types of problems right now.
The shower felt wonderful, it had been awhile since Grace had been in anything so luxurious. The water temperature was fantastic, it didn’t go suddenly cold like her shower at home. She needed to replace that crappy water heater. The shampoo worked well, it took a few washing to rid her hair of wood stain and the pungent smell had finally been washed out of it and off her body. She stepped out onto the plush rug and stepped onto the floor which was heated, my goodness this was a man of extraordinary talents. Too bad she couldn’t hire him for other work or maybe she could coax him into…oh goodness she needed to stop that line of thought. He was definitely fine but what did some redneck want with her and what did she want with a redneck. Grace dried her body and was drying her hair when she heard the knock. The immediately wrapped the towel around herself thinking he might enter but he didn’t, he spoke through the door.
‘Ms. Underwood, are you okay?’
‘I’m fine, everything is fine. The shower was fantastic,’ she hated to sound so eager but it was good.
He smiled to himself on the other side of the door. He wasn’t sure why it pleased him so much that she liked the shower but it did.
‘Good, it’s getting late and I was wondering if you’d like some dinner? I have some leftover pot roast, red potatoes, and salad I could give you.’
Grace wasn’t sure she should accept, but her stomach started to grumble. She hadn’t really eaten all day and it was getting late. This day was not turning out how she imagined but he’d been nice enough to ask, she hoped he didn’t drug her food. But so far he’d been a complete gentlemen not creepy or weird at all, in fact she was feeling more at ease with him every moment.
‘Sure, I’ll take a plate. How about my clothes, are they ready?’
‘Oh I’m sorry, I just put them in the dryer. They should be dry in about 30 or 40 minutes.’
‘Okay, I’ll be right out.’
‘Well when you come out you can find me in the kitchen.’
Craig turned to walk toward the kitchen and get her a plate fixed up. He’d put her clothes in the dryer without thinking it wasn’t until he pulled out those sexy lace underwear that he realized that him drying her clothes may have been a bad idea. He really hoped she didn’t think he was a sex fiend.
He was cutting slices off of last night’s roast when he saw her enter, she looked so fragile. There was something about her petite figure in his large robe that made him want to protect her. Her hair was still partially wet and sticking to her face it had come out of its stick straight form and was more wavy and curly. She had pinned it back in that same messy ponytail thing she had when he’d first met her this afternoon. He didn’t know what was happening, he felt this compelling urge to push her against a wall and kiss her senseless.
Grace was blushing at his look, she looked down at her feet as they made circles on his wood floor. She had on the robe but the way he looked she felt naked, but the truth was the look didn’t bother her as much as it turned her on. He had the look of man who had just spotted the last biscuit on the plate, open lust and hunger swam in his eyes. Grace was slightly shaken at her own primal response to it.
Craig turned to pile some potatoes on her plate and put it into his microwave to warm up.
‘I can get you something to drink Ms. Underwood.’
‘You know, enough with the formality. I’m just a Grace, please call me Grace.’
‘Okay, that’s fine and please call me Craig.’
‘Now. Something to drink?’
‘Umm yes, what do you have?’
He opened that huge refrigerator it was incredible stocked shelves full of food and he did have everything. Wine, beer, Coors of course, iced tea, juice boxes, orange juice, milk, Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, goodness he had supplies for the winter. That had Grace thinking maybe he was a doomsday prepper like she saw on TV but it couldn’t be true he seemed really…normal.
‘A diet Coke would be great.’
‘Okay, please have a seat. The plate should be warm in a minute.’
The whole lay out was open, she sat down in a breakfast room next to the kitchen. There was a place setting there with beautiful white stone ware and flatware that was to die for, Grace was more impressed by the minute. This man had impeccable taste.
‘Here you go,’ he set a plate that smelled delicious in front of her or maybe she was just really hungry. He set his plate down along with a bowl with a really appetizing salad in it. ‘We should pray before we eat.’
Grace looked up, she hadn’t prayed over a meal since, well since her mom died. ‘Okay.’ She wanted to be respectful of his home. They bowed he said a quick prayer and then she looked up. He was smiling again and she was trying not to feel uncomfortable and weird sitting at his table in nothing but a robe. She had wrapped and tied so tightly it was cutting off her circulation.
She dug into the plate and he put salad in a bowl for her. She was just overwhelmed at how much of a gentlemen he was, it had been so long since she’d met a man that was this considerate of women. She didn’t think they existed anymore.
‘Thank you so much for dinner. Who cooked this for you? A girlfriend?’ She knew it was sneaky but she was fishing for information.
He chuckled a bit before answering, ‘no, I cooked it.’
‘You act like you don’t quite believe me but I do cook. I can’t go out everyday so I know how to cook.’
‘Well, this pot roast is melt in your mouth and these potatoes are seasoned to perfection. It’s a little hard to believe that a man such as yourself can cook.’
‘Such as myself? What does that mean?’
‘Well…you seem kind of, how do I say it…’
He sat looking at her intently hanging on her every syllable. Now Grace was sorry she’d brought it up.
‘…you seem kind of macho. Not exactly like the domestic type.’
‘Is there a domestic type? Boy, you sure do have a lot of nice neat boxes you like to put people in.’
Grace was indignant about his tone, ‘excuse me? I’m not putting anyone in a box, you’re the ‘Handy Guy’ I just assumed.’
Craig put his hand up in surrender the last thing he needed was a huffy half naked woman at his table. He was barely keeping it together as it was if she gotten any madder he would have jumped over that little breakfast table and tried his darnedest to seduce her.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said. He figured it was best to just apologize first and avoid the drama.
‘I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t be that rude to you in your home.’
‘It’s okay, I sometimes get pissed when people try to pigeonhole me.’
‘I know the feeling,’ and she certainly did as a black woman it was easy for people to make lots of assumptions about who she was. ‘Why don’t you tell me something about yourself so I don’t make that mistake again. Okay, Craig.’
‘I’d be happy for you to get to know me better.’ There was something in his tone that had Grace thinking he meant more than she bargained for and she didn’t mind at all.
They’d had a nice dinner, he’d even given her a scoop of chocolate ice cream for dessert. She’d learned a lot about him. He was the oldest of five boys, who’d been raised by their mom and grandparents on their farm in Eastern Washington, around Yakima to be exact. His brothers Earl, Lane, Theodore, and Marshall all lived in the Seattle/Tacoma area and none of them were married. That was surprising because if they looked anything like him she wondered what was wrong with them. He also told her that the cutie pie in the pictures was his daughter and he had been married but had been divorced about 4 years. She found out about his business and all the work he’d put into it over the last 7 years. It seemed it was his baby, the way he talked about just enthralled Grace. He came to life when he talked about his daughter and his business both of which he seemed to love more than anything. He surprised her with his knowledge and he was a college graduate, he’d gone to school for architecture. His grandfather had taught him and his brothers about construction and how to landscape. His mom was a music teacher so he knew how to play the piano. She was the one that had taught him to cook. His brother, Lane, was a chef. Grace couldn’t believe it, this man was pure renaissance. He hunted, fished, and camped which wasn’t as surprising but he was much more than what she’d made him out to be. They’d been sitting for awhile talking and laughing as he told her more about him and his life and childhood. She found herself being drawn in, not what she wanted but she couldn’t help it.
‘I better get your clothes out of the dryer.’
Grace had almost forgotten she was sitting there in his robe. ‘Oh yea, that would be great.’ Her hair he reverted to it’s natural wavy curly state and she probably looked a hot mess but he didn’t seem to notice.
Craig was in the laundry room getting Grace’s clothes out, she was so gorgeous and also seemed so interested in what he had to say. Wendy never had that kind of rapt attention when he talked about his business, which had always been a lifelong dream. At the age of 35 he was a successful businessman but she never saw that, she wanted a suit and tie guy and he was never going to be that guy. It was nice having Grace here it had been a long time since he’d enjoyed the company of any woman. He tried dating a few years ago but the business needed his attention and most women weren’t keen on that but now that things had fallen into place with The Handy Guy, maybe it was time for him to think about dating again. Maybe it was Grace Underwood he should think about doing that with. He’d never dated a black woman not that he figured they were any different than any other woman but his taste leaned more toward leggy blondes with too much boobs and not enough brains. Maybe he needed to go against his typical fare, she was definitely cute as a button and he was attracted to her. But she was a customer so he hated to mix business and pleasure but then again with an ass like that maybe it was worth it.
Craig was taking Grace home, her clothes had dried and they’d chatted a little more on their way back to her house. By the time they pulled up it was almost 8:30 pm neither realized how time had flown. He really hated for her to go, he hadn’t allowed himself to think how lonely he’d become. How he longed for exhilarating female company and she was it. She was funny and smart, they hadn’t started debating politics but he figured she could hold her own. He was really taken by her and wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do next. She sat in the seat next to him in the cab of his truck getting ready to open the door.
‘No wait,’ he said as he jumped out and rushed around to help her out. It could be tricky because his truck was tall and she was not.
‘Thank you.’ She seemed so demure but he also caught glimpses of a firebrand under there and he was intrigued by that.
‘I’ll walk you up.’
‘You don’t have to Craig, I’m okay.’
‘No it was my fault this all happened.’
‘Well that would be fine. Do you still have tools in the house you to need to get?’
‘No, I packed up most of it up. I hate to leave things lying around people’s homes even if I’m coming back.’
They stood on her porch under the light, Grace fumbled with her keys till she got the lock opened. She was feeling skittish for some reason. Well, she knew the reason, Mr. Craig Bellows was wreaking pure havoc on her senses. She felt at any moment she was about pop out of her skin. He was so close right behind her with his warm breath tickling her neck.
Craig stood there behind her feeling the warmth of her body, she smelled like that Suave lavender shampoo and it was heady. As she opened the door she turned and looked at him.
‘Thank you so much for the use of your shower and dinner. I really appreciate it.’
‘Well I’m trying to be of service. I’ll be back tomorrow and I won’t charge you for today.’
‘Really? You know you did work, I’d be happy to pay.’
‘No, no I won’t be billing you. That’d be bad customer service.’
She looked at his lips as he spoke, his words seemed more of a seduction than conversation regarding charges for today’s work. He had beautiful lips, they looked strong and were full and as he spoke his tongue would peek out every so often to lick them.
Craig saw her eyes drift to his mouth, he really wanted this woman. She had just endeared herself to him today. He had to do something, say something.
‘What would be good customer service, Mr. Bellows?,’ she said jokingly.
‘This would…’ And he went for it, he kissed her as she stood there looking as if she needed a good kiss so he gave it to her. He gathered her into his arms and she didn’t fight she just melted, he kissed her hard and deep he wasn’t just going for lips he wanted all access. Grace gave it willingly, she opened her mouth and they explored each other. Her hands wrapped around his muscular shoulders as he held her against his solid chest. His hands around her soft waist as his fingers probed under the hem of that t-shirt to caress that supple newly cleaned skin. Craig couldn’t believe it she was intoxicating and his cock had sprung to life immediately. Grace’s head was spinning she hadn’t ever felt like this kissing someone. Then there was the sound of a car alarm, it startled them both back to what they were doing on her front porch, having a full blown make out session..
Craig pulled back and let her go he was shocked at his loss of control, this was a customer dammit.
‘I’m sorry, Grace. I’m so sorry.’
Grace tried to compose herself but she was flush she could feel the heat on her cheeks, in fact, all over her body.
‘Umm that’s okay, it’s not your fault. I have to go, I’ll see you tomorrow,’ she said hurriedly as she scrambled inside.
As he was telling her goodbye the door slammed shut in his face. Craig walked back to his truck trying to calm his raging hormones, he hadn’t gotten that hard that fast since he was seventeen in the back of grandpa’s truck with Heather Mooney. He wasn’t sure how he was going to be able to work anywhere near her now.
Grace was on the other side of the door cursing herself for letting it go that far but also reveling in how alive she felt because it did. This was going to be a long week with him here everyday.