tagErotic CouplingsTry A Little Tenderness

Try A Little Tenderness


This is story no.2 about Hari & Hannah, who first appeared here in a story called 'Heat', although this story can (I think) stand alone. I hope you enjoy this story of Hari's return after a few long, lonely weeks away from her.


Spring has come early this year. A rain shower this afternoon, followed by bright, clear sunshine, has made everything smell fresh and green. I've opened the back door that leads out from the kitchen onto the small garden to bring some air into the house, and am humming as I unpack the groceries, putting them into the refrigerator and on the drainer. Spring's arrival isn't the main reason for my soaring spirits. Hari is due back any minute now, and my heart and stomach are both fluttering in anticipation and, yes, nerves. Even now. I run my hands down my dress, nervously twist my hair up and pin it in place, and push the vegetables under the faucet to wash them. The water is still ice cold, and I break out in fierce goose bumps all along my arms. Dry my hands quickly, and walking into the living room to put some music on, if only to accompany my own humming, I smile to myself. Hari and me have discovered we both share a big passion for Otis Redding, so I put that on, and return to the kitchen. Shake the vegetables out and put them onto the drainer, and am just reaching into the refrigerator when my cell phone starts vibrating on the kitchen table.

'Hey,' I say.

'Hey you,' his voice sounds warm but tired.

'All ok?'

'Yes. And no.'

My stomach plummets. It's reflex. Years of phone calls that carry life-changing news can do that to you.

'What's up, Hari?' I ask, anxiously.

'Oh no - nothing terrible. Sorry - nothing serious. Just that the connecting flight was late landing, it's backed up here in Reclaim, and it's going to take a while.'

I breathe out. 'Ugh. That's no fun, Hari.'

'I just wanted to get home to see you,' he says, sounding miserable.

'I'm here, Hari, I'm here.'

'You've no idea how much I need to hear that.'

'Is everything ok?' I can't stop some alarm coming back into my voice.

'Yes. I'm good. I've missed you so much.'

'I'm here,' I repeat.

'Ok, it's starting to move along here now. I should be home in the next hour, ninety minutes max.'

'Ok', I say, and we hang up.

I stand with my arms hugging my waist, holding onto my phone, suddenly afraid to move.

It's been six long weeks since we've seen each other, the longest we've been separated since we got together in the heat of last summer. He's been back in Geneva, finishing up a project from when he lived and worked there full-time, but also tying up other loose ends. Closing bank accounts and going through some of his belongings that he'd put in storage. As the trip had drawn closer, a heaviness had settled on him and there had been times when his mind seemed to be elsewhere. I'd thought I understood. I knew what it felt like to have to pack, save, discard, or destroy the remains of a past life. It takes such a huge amount of emotional energy just to open the boxes. Hari had moved to Geneva directly after he and Anya had divorced, and had spent the subsequent five years working like a maniac, taking up running, and building up an impressive library of music and books. But he'd left the boxes from his marital home unopened and, eventually, had shipped them off into storage.

'Are you going to open them all?' I'd asked him one evening, late, as we'd lain on the couch together under a blanket.

'I'm not sure,' he'd replied. 'What did you do? After Declan died?'

I'd twisted onto my side to see him more clearly.

'Well, we'd talked about some of it. How he wanted his brother to take his books and some chairs he really liked, and how we'd donate his clothes and stuff like that. There were some things we couldn't manage to talk about. The photographs mostly. And his wedding band. I don't think anyone knows what to do with those, do they? But it was the stuff we didn't think about at all that was the hardest. Still is. Things he'd bought me. And silly stuff like cheap little souvenirs from our vacations. Things like that.'

Hari had stroked my hair, listening.

'In the end, I asked Margo if she would help me, and of course, you know Margo. She was so happy I'd asked for her help, and she had bounced over to the house with packing cases and a bottle of wine practically before I'd hung up the phone. And we packed it all up, and I cried and laughed more than I care to remember. Margo drove all the boxes of stuff I didn't want to Goodwill, and I was left with just a handful. And, actually, I did go through them last summer, managed to cut it down some more. Sometimes I think I got rid of too much in that first rush to get out of the house, but then I rented that tiny apartment, so I couldn't really have kept much more.'

'I don't know if I want to look at any of it,' he'd said. 'You're braver than me.'

I'd pushed myself up onto one elbow then. 'Hari, Declan didn't choose to leave me. He had cancer. But when he knew he had to, he chose to do it well, and for that - well, I don't know what to say, except that he proved over and over that he was just the best sort of man. All I had to deal with by the time he'd gone was grief. You have got both anger and grief.'

'I'm not angry about Anya anymore,' he'd said.

'Maybe not, but you sure were when you slung everything you had into those boxes, and opening them up again is going to be hard.'

He'd pulled me down to him, held me to his chest for a while, and then tipped my chin up to his, and kissed me.

'I wish you could come with me,' he'd murmured, his lips against mine. 'I could use your courage.'

I'd held his head in my hands then, and looked in his eyes.

'You'll be ok. And you can call me anytime of the day or night.'

He'd pressed his mouth to mine, pushing his tongue inside, suddenly full of desire.

By the time it's starting to get dark, I have gathered myself up again and managed to start cooking the meal, returned to the living room to switch the music to the shuffle setting, and am now sitting at the kitchen table, jiggling my leg, impatient for Hari to get in. He'd texted from the airport parking lot, so I knew he'd be home soon, but when I heard an engine cut out in front, I was still taken by surprise. I jump up and run to the front door as he's opening it. He looks weary, carrying his work bag in one hand, suitcase in the other, and car keys in-between his teeth. He shoves the door closed with one foot and puts the suitcase down, takes the keys out of his mouth, his shoulders looking tense. No matter how often he walks in the door this way, looking dog tired, I still feel a flush of heat. The flecks of grey in his black hair, the way he holds his neck and shoulders, his soft, dark brown eyes.

'Hey,' I say.

His face breaks into a big smile, and he grabs me and holds me tight to him. Burrows his face into the side of my neck.

'Hannah,' he breathes, 'Hannah.'

He doesn't let go, pressing me to him, arms all the way around me. I run my hands into his hair and down his neck, so happy to be held by this loving man. I kiss his neck, lightly, just beneath his ear, and this rouses him, as he shifts his weight, and I feel his lips grazing against my neck. I stretch my spine, feeling him breathing onto my skin, and now soften into him. Hari is home.

'I've been cooking,' I say, and I feel him smile, maybe even raise his eyebrows. He pulls away.

'I need to shower, but I'll be quick.'

'Ok. But be quick.'

I watch him take the stairs two at a time, then turn back into the kitchen.

It's not two minutes from hearing the shower shut off to hearing him coming back down the stairs, barefoot, dressed in shorts, t shirt and rubbing his hair dry with a towel he slings onto the bannister. He catches me as I'm standing at the open refrigerator, and has both hands around my waist before I realise he's even in the kitchen. It's that barefoot thing. He hates wearing shoes because he grew up in Kenya, he says. But there's something else about the way he moves that means he makes almost no sound. He's kissing the back of my neck, running his tongue from just below my hairline and down to the top of my dress. Then back again. The contrast between the chill from the refrigerator and the heat building up and radiating out from my neck is sharp. I shut the door.

'I don't know if I can keep a hold of this bottle of wine if you carry on with what you're doing,' I laugh. 'And the dinner's ready.'

He moves his whole body hard up against me now, reminding me how much I love the feel of his skin on mine. It's got a soft, downy, quality I've never felt on anyone else, like softened satin. He's still kissing my neck. Moves his arm to stroke across one of my nipples with the palm of his hand.

'That shower has certainly made a difference,' I say, dropping my head back onto his shoulder, feeling my nipple tingle and harden under his touch, surrendering to him as he runs his other hand down my belly and slides it in-between my legs.


Just then, my phone starts to vibrate and we both jump, and it's all I can do not to drop the bottle of wine on the floor.

'Damn that was close!' I say, setting it down on the table. I see who is calling, let it go to messages. I look up. Hari's eyes are so dark and full of longing that I move back to him and kiss him. Facing him like this, I feel his cock rising up against my belly. I stroke him with one hand, feeling his length through his shorts, and he lets out a low groan.

'Dinner, or not?' I whisper before my desire overtakes me completely.

'Fuck dinner,' he replies, gripping my breast, encircling my nipple with his hand, and that's when his belly growled more loudly than either of us, and we had to laugh.

'I think you need to eat,' I say. 'Besides, I'm starving. I had a hard class today. Zhenya really whupped our asses good.'

I reach over to look at my phone, then turn towards the oven.

'Who was that?' Hari asks, indicating my phone.

'Uh, no-one. I mean, we can talk about it over dinner.'

He shoots a look at me, but is opening a drawer, pulling out the corkscrew and applying it to the wine bottle.

I pull the dish out of the oven and serve up, all the while trying to settle the adrenalin still chasing through me. Hari isn't one for swearing very much. And the effect of him having done just that is as surprising as it is thrilling. I don't know if I'm going to be able to concentrate on eating very much at all. I sit down, shuck off my heeled shoes and place my feet flat on the floor, wriggle and stretch my toes on the cool tiles. It feels good. I shift in the chair, my thighs are still trembling, take a sip of chilled wine from my glass, savouring the feel of it on my lips.

We talk, gradually unravelling our news together, the details that didn't make it into all our texts and calls while we were apart. The completion of his project in Geneva - a new building for one of the research institutes there, that has been built to the highest sustainability standards. A ground breaking project, using natural, renewable sources of energy, heat recovery ventilation, solar chimneys and the like, things I'd known nothing about before Hari.

He's halfway through his plate when he says; 'This is good,' in a way that would suggest he was pleasantly surprised.

'Hey!' I say, and jab at his leg under the table.

He laughs, grabs my ankle and holds me until I stop trying to kick him. When I put my foot back on the floor I feel both of his feet moving onto mine, trapping them underneath him. Have I said how much I love this man's handsome feet? He presses down on me, sometimes rubbing around my ankles, tickling, caressing.

'I'm so glad you're back. It felt empty without you.'

'Here?' he asks, raising his eyebrows.

'No. I didn't come here much when you were away. Only to check on the mail for you. But even my apartment felt empty without you.'

He reaches out for my hand over the table and holds it, tracing over it with his thumb. Smiles, quietly. And carries on eating.

'Did you finish your paper?' he asks.

'Yes. Finally! Last night. I'll submit it to the committee on Monday.'

'And they'll publish it, they'd be mad not to.'

'I hope so.' Where Hari has been teaching me all about passive design principles for new buildings, I've been teaching him about child psychology and bereavement. He'd sit up in bed reading my draft articles as if they were novels, full of questions for me, helping me to unknot my grammar. We're both avid readers. It's one of the things we had in common when we were simply friends, when we'd find a quieter corner of the room, restaurant or cookout to exchange reviews and compare favourites, while everyone else chattered, ate, played petanque or tennis or whatever, around us.

I put down my fork. Done eating.

'So who was on the phone just now?' he asks, a little tentatively, his feet pressing me down to the floor.

'Oh. Yes. That.' I sit back, surprised that I'd forgotten all about it until now. 'That was Margo. She, uh - I, um, I asked her to look at my old house, you know, to value it and all.' I can't look up, but feel him sitting back in his chair opposite. 'And, um, so she did that a couple of days ago.' I nod. 'A good price. Better than I'd hoped for. And, uh, she's found a buyer.' Now that I've got through all of that, I look up.

Hari leans forwards, takes both my hands in his.

'How do you feel about it? A buyer already!'

'I know, right? Shaky, I guess.'

'What price are they offering?'

'I don't know. I suspect that was Margo calling to let me know.'

'Wow. A lot has happened since I've been away,' he's looking into my eyes, searching for me.

I nod. 'We talked about it before you left, but I guess I just thought that actually, it is about time for me to sell it. I haven't been living there since Declan died, and it's not as though I could ever imagine going back there. We bought it when we thought we'd be having a family, kids ... so -,' I shrug.

He's twisting my hands around and threading his fingers through mine.

'Live here. With me.'

My heart spins. I tip my head up, fighting to hold back my tears. I really do know that selling the house is the right thing to do, but - that doesn't make it any less hard a decision. I can't speak.

'I mean, not here, necessarily. It's tiny, not more than a shack. But we could find somewhere together that we both like,' he continues, gripping my fingers tight with his.

'No! I mean,' as a look of horror and dejection passes over his face, 'I mean, yes! But here - let's live here. I love this house. I loved this house the first time you brought me here.'

He pulls me to him across the table and we kiss.

'You taste of dinner,' he says when we break.

'And so do you!'

He seems to hesitate, just for a second or two, and I wonder if he's about to say something, but instead he kisses me again, much more deeply this time.

And then Otis Redding starts singing 'Try a little tenderness' from his spot in the living room. It's one of Hari's favourites. He pulls me up from my chair, takes me by the waist and we dance.

Hari dances. I hadn't known this before, when we were just friends. But he loves it, and is good too. A good sense of rhythm, a natural grace, and a gentle but confident way of holding me. No wonder he'd always asked me about the ballet classes I take. His ex-wife Anya had hated dancing, apparently. I can't imagine that. We sway around the kitchen, holding each other close, then picking up tempo with the music, but he never lets me go, singing the words into my neck, spinning me around for the finale. We both laugh as he holds me against him, my back to him, his arms and mine both crossed around my ribs.

We sway some more as the next song starts to play. I catch sight of us, standing there together, reflected in the kitchen window. Hari's looking too, and we both look at each other, in the glass, together.

'I never want to be away from you for this long ever again,' he whispers in my ear. We both exhale, and I feel my desire welling up for this man. 'You've no idea how much I missed you,' and he's kissing me, up and down my neck, licking and teasing me with his tongue, his lips, moving his hands to my breasts, finding me already aroused through the dress fabric, teasing my nipples as they harden. I shiver from head to toe, feeling him pushing against me, hard. I gulp for air, realising I've been holding my breath. Pushing my ass back onto his cock, rubbing and gyrating against him. He's moving me forwards now, up against the sink, my hip bones pressing up against the cool ceramic.

We slip into our rhythm so easily. I love the way his breath is already hot and ragged on me, how he's unzipping the back of my dress, pulling it off my shoulders and down to my waist, licking his fingers and circling my nipples with them, wetting them.

'Hari,' I murmur. He looks up and at our reflected selves.

'Remember the first time we did this?' he's asking, biting on my ear lobe. 'I've been the luckiest man alive since that night.'

A tremor passes through me. I reach my arms up to hold his head as he bends down to kiss my shoulder, and I watch myself stretched out like this, uncovered, naked. Watch as his left arm moves in-between my breasts, flicks across my belly, pushing down in-between my hips and the sink to find me. He presses his hand into my knickers. I whimper, nearly losing myself at his first touch, shaking, dropping my arms to hold on to the sink. Watch as he pulls his other arm behind me, to his own crotch, unbuttoning his shorts, releasing his cock, pulling the skirt of my dress up, pushing his cock in-between my buttocks. Pausing, I feel him move away from me, and I'm unbalanced without his body supporting me.

'Put these back on,' and he's nudging my shoes towards my feet with his own.

I hesitate, not sure I understand.

'Put them on. It'll make for a better -,' and he strokes my ass, and now I understand.

Pull the shoes across, slip my feet back into them - a few inches taller now.

Hari pushes up against me again, his cock so hard between my legs, feeling so good there, and I rock my hips backwards and forwards as much as I can, pressed between his hips and the sink, his hand flat across my belly, pushing me against him, fingers inside my knickers.

I gasp and moan. Push back, as I feel his other hand snaking down my ass, pushing my legs further apart, pulling my knickers to one side, making room for him to touch me, both of his hands there now, his fingers stroking and caressing me, but I am already there, gripping the sink so hard, I cry out, as he rubs me with his fingers and his cock, so wet, 'Hari!'

He holds me until my breathing slows a little, and then uses his hips to start moving both of us again, until I can feel him pushing his cock into me, using his hand until he's in the right position. Pushes in. All the way. I exhale, still trying to catch my breath, adjusting to his size, feeling the stretch, fumbling my hands over the faucet and onto the window sill to brace myself as he quickens the pace, pushing into me, hard and urgent. It's bruising my hips as we smack into the sink together, our breathing loud and ragged, his mouth sucking and biting my shoulder. My senses are overloaded. A slight breeze from the open door whispering over my breasts, my calf muscles straining as I raise up onto the balls of my feet to let him in deeper, feeling so full, my knickers forced to one side and pulling tightly against my clit and between my buttocks, his hand hot on my belly, urgently pressing me into him.

'Hari,' I'm panting.

'Unh. Fuck,' he is groaning into my neck, 'Fuck, you feel so good.' I can feel the sweat on his face, his stubble burning my skin, but I am lost, and feel him, too, falling over the edge, his whole body tensing, thrusting into me, my muscles gripping him, pulling him deeper inside me, over and over again, until he has no more to give me.

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bySara2000Z© 1 comments/ 8801 views/ 6 favorites

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