“Harden Handy,” I announce, holding out a hand to introduce myself. The woman who answers the door is built like a pinup girl—hourglass shape, pert breasts, and eyeglasses—but the tightness of her smile gives away her age as do the stripes of gray in her hair. I’d place her just above forty like myself.
“Nice place you have,” I say, noting the open-concept layout as I follow her. Clean lines, water-tone colors, a real beach house minus the beach. It’s Florida but not every home is on the coast. This is an older neighborhood, meaning the majority of the residents are old. I’m talking retirees and geriatrics, but not her.
“The issue’s in the bathroom,” she states, leading me down a hallway. I’m not a plumber by trade. I was formerly in construction, but the market in southern Florida is either feast or famine. To make ends meet, I began working odd jobs, handyman style.
I’m here as a favor, and I can see I’ve walked in on a mess—sink cabinet open and faucet handle missing.
“I was able to shut the water off myself yesterday,” she says.
“Looks good,” I lie. It looks like she broke the faucet. As I begin assessing the damage, she leans against the doorjamb.
“You know, I was surprised when Lana told me about you. You really are a legit handyman.”
I try not to flinch. I’d like to say I don’t know what she means, but I do. I helped a friend of mine a time or two and met Lana Blasen, her friend. Is she accusing me of something?
“I’m the real deal,” I tease, lowering for the base cabinet.
My knees crack with the effort.
“So you’re a gigolo?”
I pause, the term startling, but I’ve been called worse.
“The sixties called. They want their word back,” I tease. She’s silent a second, and when I look up, I feel bad, as if I insulted her instead of her insulting me.
“I was just curious,” she says quietly, and now I feel extra bad. Slowly, I stand to my full height. I’m taller than her by half a foot at least. She’s barefoot but still dressed in a tight skirt and fancy blouse.
“It isn’t called that, or maybe it still is, if I were a male hooker or a player, or whatever, but I’m not like that.” I don’t know why I’m defending myself to this woman I don’t know, even if she is a friend of Lana’s. Maybe it’s been the most recent events. I’d been with the same couple a few times. They called me. James warned me to take on only the most stable of married couples or recommendations from others, and this couple was on shaky ground at best.
I’m a swinger. The third party at the table set for a threesome. But recently, I’ve been in a funk. The last scene broke me a bit, especially after the guy broke my nose. I don’t blame him. No husband wants his wife to say the other guy in the bedroom is better than him.
“I didn’t mean to offend you.” She pauses, reflecting on something near her feet, and then her expression changes as though she’s changed her mind about what she would say next. “I’ll be down the hall, if you need anything. My son is at his father’s tonight, so there’s no rush here. Take your time.”
I watch her walk away in that hip-hugging skirt and loose blouse, open an extra button close to her cleavage. Curious, she said.
I’m curious about her, but she didn’t call for the handyman special, only this plumbing disaster.
An hour later, I have things temporarily fixed, but she needs a new faucet. “If I could show you what I did,” I suggest, interrupting her once I find her sitting at her dining room table. She nods, removing her glasses and I gaze down at them.
“Getting older sucks,” she teases. “They say the eyesight is the first thing to go.”
“You aren’t old.”
“I wasn’t fishing for a compliment,” she states, good natured but still self-deprecating.
“So if I tell you you’re beautiful, you’ll take it?”
She tilts her head as she stands to follow me to the bathroom. “If you aren’t a player, you are charming.”
Once back inside the bathroom, I explain, “You’ll need to turn the handle only this far or it will snap again. If you pick out a new faucet, I can come back and install it another day.”
She reaches for the handle to test it, and without thinking, I reach for her hand as well, covering it as we collectively twist the knob.
Like a toaster dropped in a full tub, electricity ripples up my arm, the
connection stronger than anything I’ve ever felt. We look at one another at the
same time, and I’m certain she felt it as well, but she draws back, resting her
body on the doorjamb again.
Her eyes search mine, and I know that look. The hungry curiosity of the forbidden. “Tell me how it works.” She doesn’t mean the faucet.
“This isn’t why I’m here,” I remind her.
“I know.” The sadness in her eyes squeezes at my chest.
“And Lana told you?” I question. I’m not upset Lana shared with others what I did for her and James, but it also isn’t friendly conversation.
“She only mentioned the basics. No details.”
“And you aren’t married? Boyfriend who can kick my ass?” Her eyes widen, taking in my size. I’m six feet one, solid and stocky, or so I’m told. I’d hold my own in a fight. The broken nose caught me off guard. “Are you upgrading to the handyman special?” I ask.
“Does it cost more?”
“Not a thing.” I laugh. “And that’s the first difference,” I joke.
She slowly smiles. The melancholy still in her eyes and her expression anxious.
“I start with an assessment of your needs. As this is a plumbing job, we can use this as the scenario.” My voice lowers, but I wink to relax her. “I’m going to ask you some questions, and you answer with your comfort level, guiding how far we go.”
“I need you to verbally agree.” I typically have consent forms for legalese and understanding on both sides, but I’m making an exception here. She isn’t a regular at this.
“Yes, Mr. Harden.”
I smile at the formality. “You can just call me Andrew.”
Oh my me!! This story is on fire! I was clutching my proverbial pearls when I was reading this story, in all the good ways!
This story of Annette and Andrew is what a good steamy story should be. It’s going to knock you out of your comfort zone and make your imagination run wild!
Annette wants to feel wanted, she wants to feel desired and beautiful. With the suggestion from her friend, she calls for the “Handyman” to help her with the problems she needs to be fixed.
Andrew is the perfect fit for Annette. He is the Handyman! He has rules and limits and when he meets Annette, lines get blurred and his feelings get involved.
I absolutely love that these characters are not young, they are older, more experienced and have wisdom and life experience. It means a lot that Ms. Brazen shows the world that just because you are older than 40 you can still have a vibrant, fulfilling love life!
If you are looking for a smexy, steamy romance for the more vintage age set. Get your hands on this!