Jump idly watched as Ryan stood at the coffee table, slapping it rhythmically and laughing. He'll be walking soon, she thought to herself. That fact brought pleasure and also a little dread to the young mother. She knew she'd have to be even more vigilant with him when he became really mobile. She'd already begun putting little locks on the cabinets and plug protectors in the open outlets. He'd proved to be a very curious baby and loved to get into and explore anything within his reach. Pulling things out of fingers and mouth became routine for Jump she saw it continuing for a long time.
"Just wait til you empty his pockets when he gets older." Bernadette had said when they had discussed the boy's propensity to explore.
Bernadette. Jump smiled at the mere thought of her… partner? Girlfriend? Lover? She hadn't really thought about labeling what she'd had with Bernadette. It had only been a month since Frank's birthday, but Bernadette had become a permanent fixture in both Jump and Ryan's life. She supposed that she'd have to identify Bernadette as something other than just friend, because she was so much more than that. So much more.
When Bernadette wasn't working or playing basketball, she was at Jump's or they were at her beach house. They'd only spent a handful of nights together, Bernadette's newest project had her up before the sun and she was usually loath to disturb the quiet of the house when they were together for fear of waking Ryan.
Jump knew that eventually, the sporadic night stays wouldn't do. She'd grown all too comfortable having her in her bed. And in the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room… Jump blushed at the christening of almost every room in her smallish apartment. Bernadette quipped that the beach house would be next. When Jump laughed, Bernadette stated she was serious. Thinking about that now got Jump a bit hot and she glanced at the clock. She'll be here soon. She turned her full attention back on her little man.
She giggled as he wobbled around the table, shuffling one foot and then the other, all the while drooling and giggling at something. She looked where his eyes were trained and realized he was looking at his reflection in the glass. "Yes, you are a handsome devil!" She laughed. She slid her checkbook and bills towards the middle of the counter and joined her son at the table. She got down next to him and put her head beside his so he could see her reflection too. He reached out and touched her reflection and smiled, showing off his two and a half teeth.
"Mamamama." He chanted over and over again, dropping rivulets of drool down his arm.
She felt a quickening in her heart a split second before keys in the door turned. The door pushed open to let in a tall, disheveled, weary woman in. Jump stood and plucked Ryan from the floor and crossed the room to Bernadette. Her frown had instantly faded as she saw her two most favorite people in all the world.
"Hey," Jump said softly.
"Hey yourself," Bernadette returned through a crooked, tired smile. She wrapped both up in a tight hug and pressed her lips to both foreheads. She then took Ryan from Jump and held him on her hip as she went in for a deep, renewing kiss. It left Jump reeling and breathless.
"Miss me?" she asked huskily.
"You have no idea." Bernadette deadpanned as she headed to the couch with Ryan in her arms and Jump's hand. She was about to flop down on it when she looked down at herself.
"I'm a mess, ugh." She gently sat Ryan on the floor and asked if she could take a quick shower.
"You don't have to ask, silly." Jump said swatting her on the butt. "You still have your sweats here. I washed them. They're in the closet."
Bernadette nodded and started down the hallway. She stopped mid step and turned around.
"If you want, you could come keep me company." She smiled sexily.
Jump returned her smile. "I'll put Ryan in his playpen and come wash your… back."
"Sounds good to me." Bernadette said as she continued down the hallway.
Jump picked up Ryan and swung him gently until he began to laugh. She set him in his playpen and started his little musical mobile. She studied him for a moment to make sure he wouldn't fuss. He quickly turned his attention to the light up caterpillar Bernadette had given him a while ago.
"Be back in a bit." She smiled down at him.
As she walked down the hall she heard the shower turn on and pushed open the bathroom door to watch Bernadette undress. She loved watching this woman shed her clothes. It surprised Jump how much she enjoyed looking at Bernadette. She thought this kind of visual excitement was exclusive to men. She soon learned that she certainly had that wrong.
It was more than just the aesthetic beauty of the tall, softly muscular body; it was what was contained inside. The intelligence, compassion, and humor of this woman were what Jump was attracted to. The outside beauty was just an added bonus. But what a bonus! She gave a contented, almost shy smile to Bernadette when she noticed her watching from just outside the doorframe. Neither of them spoke as Jump stepped in and leaned on the doorframe and crossed her arms over her chest. Bernadette continued undressing, all the while feeling the stirring inside her that only the woman watching her elicited.
Bernadette had been a bit shy at first, but when she saw the look of what her body did to Jump, she quickly got used to it. She knew the effect Jump had on her physically as well and loved to pique that in them both whenever she could. She'd never had much of a libido until she was with Jump. Now, she wanted her constantly. She'd even catch herself daydreaming at work, which really wasn't conducive on a construction site. Her purpling thumbnail could attest to that. She looked down at it as she shed her socks and Jump caught the look.
"What did you do?" She asked amusedly as she took Bernadette's thumb gently.
"You'd laugh." Bernadette said around a big smile.
"Try me." Jump said a little more seriously.
Bernadette sighed a deep sigh and told Jump exactly what she was thinking when she brought the hammer down a bit askew.
Jump remained quiet for a second. She slowly brought Bernadette's thumb up to her lips and kissed it gently. Then she smiled widely and shook her head.
"Oh, Babe, next time daydream while you are getting a drink of water or looking over blueprints." Jump chuckled.
Bernadette tossed her sock at Jump and stepped into the shower. "Just be happy I wasn't working the pneumatic nail gun!" She called over the water.
"Oh, trust me, I'm VERY happy about that. Your digits are extremely important to me!" Jump said loudly around a smile.
Bernadette stuck her head out of the shower and wiggled the thumb at Jump. "I thought you'd say that!"
Jump just smiled wistfully, remembering the last time she experienced Bernadette's extraordinary dexterity.
A soft cry brought Jump out of her own little daydream. She called out to Bernadette saying she was going to check on Ryan. She peeked her head out and Jump gave her a quick kiss.
Bernadette quickly finished her shower so she could join them.
Bernadette came out dressed in sweats and a soft t-shirt and headed to the kitchen where she heard Jump and Ryan singing a terribly off-key children's song. Ryan sat bouncing in his high chair with pieces of fruit and Cheerios liberally scattered on his tray, squealing in delight to his mother's voice. Bernadette smiled widely at the scene. She stood at the counter and watched them for a moment before offering to help with dinner.
"You wanna chop the broccoli?" asked Jump.
"Sure. How was the shop today?" Bernadette asked as she grabbed a cutting board and knife.
"Good. Our end of the summer sale is bringing in a lot of people. Casey made up these great flyers and she's been handing them out around the beach and restaurants." Jump said as she prepared the chicken to be cooked.
"Besides smashing your thumb thinking of me, how was your day?" Jump asked.
Bernadette chuckled sarcastically and thought for a moment. "We are getting close to completing the finish work. We'll have to push it to finish on time, but I think we'll get it. The next couple of weeks, I'll probably have myself and the entire crew working on Saturday and Sunday."
"Oh." Jump said, slightly surprised.
"Did we have plans?" Bernadette asked. The 'we' stuff is going to take some getting used to, thought Bernadette.
"No. Not really. I'm sorry. I should have figured you would have to put in some extra hours to get this project done." Jump explained. She was used to at least having Bernadette to herself on Sundays and she'd been thinking about a day trip for them and Ryan.
"Are you sure? I can probably work a half day on one of the Sundays…" Reasoned Bernadette when she saw disappointment flash across Jump's face.
"No, it can wait. I'd rather you not have to worry about finishing on time." Jump said.
At that, Bernadette put down the knife she was chopping broccoli with and gently grabbed Jump from behind. She squeezed her arms around her stomach and whispered into her ear.
"Are you always going to be this amiable when I have to work extra days?"
Jump smirked and continued turning the chicken in the skillet.
"That depends…" Jump said trying to keep a straight face and even tone.
"Whether you make it up to me each time." Jump said as she put down the tongs and turned into Bernadette's chest. She gave her a slow, deep wet kiss that got both of their pulses humming. Bernadette briefly envisioned putting Jump up on the counter and making it up in advance but thought the better of it when she heard a high pitched cooing coming from a certain little boy in the high chair.
Jump recovered and cleared her throat. "I do think he's making fun of us!"
"Hmm… just wait until you find someone little man. The pictures we'll bring out for your date…" Bernadette mock growled as she bent to tickle him on his belly protruding out of his t-shirt. He giggled incessantly, half heartedly pushing her hands away.
Jump watched as the played. What Bernadette said just now had touched her heart unexpectedly. They hadn't really discussed anything long-term yet. Both women had agreed to take this day by day. After dealing with Mark and the possible ramifications of family members feelings, both women just wanted to concentrate on the here and now.
A month later now, it was becoming very apparent that Jump really, truly needed Bernadette. Not for what Bernadette could do for her or Ryan, but for what she was. In this relatively short time, Jump had really begun to depend on Bernadette for the things she'd missed so much as a single person too.
The freedom that came with being alone was what Jump thought would make her happiest. When Ryan came into the world, that freedom became non-existent, but it was replaced by a peace in her heart she never knew could be possible. Now, to have Bernadette, she felt completeness. Things were so good right now, she was almost afraid to believe it.
"I'm going to go change him." Bernadette said as she took him out of the high chair.
"Thanks." Jump said thickly. She didn't trust her voice to say more. She swallowed the deep emotion and began concentrating on dinner. She smiled at the thought of Bernadette spending the night tonight and then remembered she'd probably go home because she had to get up early for work. Perhaps I can convince her to stay, thought Jump.
"Good Morning, Sis." Matt said a little too cheerfully. He handed Bernadette a cup of coffee and glanced at his watch surreptitiously. She's never late…
"I called your house this morning…" He continued.
"I stayed over at Jump's." She said matter-of-factly. Her eyes effectively communicated that there would be no teasing this morning. She couldn't hide her grin though that unceremoniously crept onto her lips when her brother wisely found something interesting on the ground to stare at for a moment.
"Oh." Matt said. He was busting at the seams to say something, but knew that this was a subject too new and precious to his sister to make light of. He would just have to wait on that…. He'd get his chance to tease. His sister was in this for the long haul. That was obvious.
"Everybody here?" She asked as she began buckling on her tool belt.
"Yep. Alex is in painting already. Marcos is finishing up the light fixtures and switch plates." He answered, all business now.
"Great. Hardscape guys will be here in…" She checked her watch. Visibly surprised at the time, she recovered quickly. "About 20 minutes." She turned away from her brother with a nod and headed to the guys who were getting ready for the tiling. Another smile came to her face unbidden as her mind rolled over the memory of what made her late this morning. I better start jogging or something. That woman has some serious stamina…
After dinner that night, they bathed Ryan together and put him to bed. Bernadette was getting her things together to head home when a hand on her back had stopped her movements. She turned and saw the look in Jump's eyes. She knew she'd not be going home this night. Silently, Jump took Bernadette's hand and led her to the bedroom.
While their lovemaking had always been gentle and slow, last night had been markedly more intense and passionate. They seemed to feed off of each other's mutual need for some sort of affirmation. It was an affirmation Bernadette was more than willing to give. It was an affirmation of not only their growing love, but of their growing dependence on each other for completeness. Last night would be a night that Bernadette would keep in her mind for a long time. A very long time.
"Hey, boss!" Smiled Clay. He was busy cutting tile for the office space flooring.
"Hey Clay." She said amiably. Clay had been with her since she'd become a foreman and she'd always been happy with his work ethic and skill.
"We are gonna need some extra days to finish this boss. The paint guys are almost done, but with the square footage of the office spaces…" He left the rest of the sentence unsaid knowing Bernadette got the picture.
"Yeah. I was thinking about us working this Sunday and the next to finish. Is that okay?" She knew he would answer yes with the pay of time and a half. Most of these guys jumped at the opportunity to make extra money either for their vices, over-spending girlfriends or new families. Clay belonged to the latter group. His wife was about to have a little boy.
When he'd announced the news, she found it oddly easy to relate to the proud and beaming parent to be. She instantly knew why and was a bit surprised yet delighted at the fact. Could Jump ever see me as Ryan's parent too? Could I?
With each passing day, Bernadette believed more and more that it could become a reality. The truth of Ryan's conception had become less of an awkward and uncomfortable fact between the two women and it was opening the door for Bernadette to take more initiative in caring for Ryan. The loving him part was easy and pretty much instantaneously. After all, she'd watched the beautiful baby come into the world.
However, Mark being Ryan's father would never change. Her brother and Jump had a bond that Bernadette could not have with Jump. Biologically, anyway. It hadn't really been something Bernadette really gave a lot of thought, but as her and Jump became closer, she was starting to.
She was honest with herself enough to see that she was a bit jealous that Ryan wasn't hers. The thing that saved her from really obsessing about it was the fact that they were related by blood. He was her nephew. At the risk of sounding like a sordid family story from the Deep South, she tried not to dwell too much on what that might sound like to outsiders.
Her thoughts came back to the present as she continued on through the site, instructing the men on what would be done in the next couple of weeks and setting up work schedules for each task left to be done. By early mid-morning, the hardscapers had finished pouring the outside concrete and had cordoned it off so it could set. Bernadette had busied herself with helping with the tiling and they'd gotten a good portion of it cut and laid out by late afternoon.
She didn't have a chance to make a lunch that morning, which she wasn't sad about in the least bit, so she decided to head over to the catering truck. She was looking at the slim choice of sandwiches left when she heard whistles coming from some of her crew. "Men", she mumbled as she turned around to see what poor female had wondered onto the site. Her heart swelled when she saw who it was- Jump with a little cooler on one arm and Ryan in the other.
Jump had realized when she'd left for the shop that Bernadette didn't have any breakfast or had a chance to make her lunch. She was barely dressed when she left the apartment this morning. That brought a smile to Jump's lips. She decided she'd make Bernadette lunch after her shift at the shop and take it over to her. Truth be told, she didn't want to have to wait until that evening to see her again. Last night had been so amazing and intense; it had left her physically pained when Bernadette had left for work.
Jump wondered why it didn't scare her, the intensity of her feelings for this woman. She'd thought about it a lot during slow periods in the shop today. She wondered if things were moving too fast for her, with Ryan to consider and all. The circumstances of their meeting and subsequent relationship had given her pause initially and they'd talked it through. It helped immensely that Bernadette was of the same mind in regards to possible challenges that they might encounter. They'd overcome them together with the love and support of their families and friends.
They both knew how fortunate they were to have the kind of families they had. Especially Bernadette. Things could have gotten incredibly ugly, but they didn't. Mark had gone back to Florida with promises of visiting Ryan and both she and Mark had each been able to come to an understanding as to what their roles would be in their son's life. Jump knew there would be a time they discussed Bernadette's role too.
Jump had come back to her concern about things moving too fast a few times during the day. They'd both admitted they were in love with each other, spent some nights together. She was definitely getting glimpses on what living with Bernadette would be like. She was clean, picked up after herself and was not bad in the kitchen. There are some definite advantages to being with a woman.
It was so much more than that though. The companionship they shared was a blessing to Jump. Bernadette's easy humor and thoughtfulness was becoming something Jump needed to get through her days. When she couldn't be with Bernadette in the evenings she felt a bit lost. So this is what being love is like, she marveled.
"Hey!" Bernadette beamed as she stuffed her money back in her pocket and jogged over to Jump to relieve her of one of her burdens.
"You left in a hurry this morning, so I…made you some lunch." Jump explained needlessly. Her heart had jumped in her throat when she'd seen Bernadette at the catering truck. Man, what she does to me!
"You are the best. Thank you, Babe." Bernadette said as she shifted Ryan into her arms. She was cognizant of her crew watching intently at the lunch tables so she kept her touches platonic and casual. No need raising questions and gossip among them. It was hard enough being a woman foreman let alone one involved romantically with another woman. Some of the crew knew about Jump, but most didn't. The subs and property owners certainly didn't and she'd rather keep it from being a conversation topic.
They made their way to her trailer and as soon as they set foot, Bernadette closed the door and kissed Jump soundly.
"Well, you are welcome!" Jump said lightly as she brushed her hand against Bernadette's warm cheek.
"Are you wearing sunscreen?" She asked in an overtly motherly tone.
Bernadette rolled her eyes. "Yes, mom." She said around a smile.
"Okay." Jump said over her shoulder as she began emptying the cooler and setting up the lunch she'd brought.
She looked up briefly to see Bernadette trying to figure out where to put Ryan. The floor wasn't safe and she didn't have a high chair. Just as Jump was about to make a suggestion, Bernadette grabbed a couple of cushions off of the worn couch and propped them up on one of the chairs that had a back and arms to it. She then took off her belt, threaded it through the back of the chair and set Ryan in it. She fashioned a little seatbelt around him with her belt and slid him up to the drafting table.
"Huh." Jump breathed out, impressed. "My little problem solver." She grinned and kissed Bernadette's cheek lovingly.
"Well.." Bernadette drawled. She was impressed with herself too. They all three then sat down to a lunch of sandwiches, chips and strained peas.
Continued in Chapter 13
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