Jordan meets the Fēngs and invites them to go get ice cream. She takes Lien around, leaving Jian and Brian together. The two boys aren’t happy with one another’s company, but find that they have a little bit in common after all.
“I’d like to see his shop sometime,” Brian said, glad to have something to talk to the other boy about that wasn’t full of resentment.
“He is very secretive, but perhaps he can be persuaded.”
“I don’t want to invade his privacy. I’m simply interested. If I weren’t learning woodworking, I’d learn that. Just there weren’t any potters around until now.”
Jian flashed a quick smile. “I will speak to him.” He watched his sister with Jordan. “She is a very kind person,” he said, lifting his chin at Jordan. “Have you been dating long?”
“We’ve known one another two years, dating for just over one.” His smile softened as he watched her talking to Lien and some others. “There’s no one quite like Jordan.”
“You are in love with her?”
Brian blushed, ducking his head. “I guess it’s obvious, huh? Head over heels.”
“I don’t suppose she has a sister who likes Asians?” He smirked, his dark eyes watching Jordan with a hunger that Brian didn’t like.
“Only brothers,” he said sharply. “All older and very protective. I couldn’t tell ya how they feel about Asians. I never asked.”
“You don’t like me much,” Jian challenged.
“You haven’t exactly made yourself likable,” Brian countered. “I’m trying to be civil, but you aren’t even trying to be polite. So I’ll ask again, you have a problem with me, Fēng?” His voice was louder than he’d intended.
Jordan and Lien turned suddenly, drawn by the sound. Brian leaned back in his chair, arms folded across his broad chest, legs splayed, ready to leap to his feet. Jian was in a much more relaxed position, watching carefully, his dark eyes taking in details. A sly smile played at his lips and Brian knew he’d been tested and probably found wanting. Suddenly, Lien was at her brother’s side.
“Be nice!” She smacked his arm.
His grin turned into a grimace. Snatching her hand, he twisted, making her cry out. Jordan stepped up, taking his other hand in a similar hold, twisting sharply. Jian flinched, but didn’t make a sound. He released his sister.
“That shit might be okay where you come from,” Jordan said, increasing the pressure on his hand. “But here, that’s considered abuse and assault.”
“And what you are doing, is not?” his voice was tight with pain.
“I’m defending someone else. The police would see it as a public service.” She leaned closer. “They take domestic abuse very seriously here in Mississippi.”
Jian looked like he wanted to spit in her face. Instead, he jerked his hand away from her, standing quickly. “Come, Lien. Time to go home.”
Lien followed reluctantly, dragged from the building by her brother. Everyone watched them go and burst into chatter as soon as the door closed.
Who is that guy? What’s his problem? Were he and Brian going to fight? Did he really do that to his sister? Damn, Jordan rocks!
After much congratulations, Jordan and Brian went back to her house to study and have dinner. He was surprised to find his sister there with Jackie.
“Your folks had some things to do in Jackson today. Didn’t they tell you?”
“No. But I got up way before they did. Hey, Munchkin!” He lifted his sister, swinging her around.
Elise giggled, tipping out of his arms to see Jordan, then lunged once more at her brother. She used him like a jungle gym while he lay on the floor talking to Jackie and Jordan. They told her about the new students.
“What was with Jian?” Jordan asked. “He was being so weird!”
“He’s a conceited ass. He’s got the hots for you, by the way. If he comes near you….”
“I’ll put the creep in a headlock,” Jordan finished. “You don’t have to defend my honor.”
“Well, I want to. May I?”
“If it makes you happy,” she said, giving him a kiss. “But you don’t have to.”
“That’s the only problem with having a girlfriend who’s a bad ass,” he remarked to Jackie. “Can’t protect her.”
“You can still do it,” Jackie said. “A girl likes to know the man she loves will take care of her. And she can take care of you, too.”
“She’s good at that,” Brian said, his expression dreamy as he looked at Jordan.
Jackie picked up Elise, whisking her away to the kitchen. Jordan crawled over to where Brian lay. He propped himself on his elbows as she kissed him. Nothing but their lips touching, it was one of the best kisses, to date, that Brian had ever experienced. He felt his love for her flow from him and felt hers in return. Jordan rested her forehead on his, licking her lips with a smile.
“Why did you invite them along?” Brian murmured. “I mean, Lien, she’s nice enough. But Jian is a jerk.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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