Jasper chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck as if remembering a rather unpleasant experience. “Well, she’s been coming here since before I was born. Yeah, I know her. I know what it feels like to get rapped upside the head by her, too.” He chuckled softly.
“Aunt Enid knows how to cuff a kid, that’s for sure!” Hana rubbed her own neck with the memory. “She grew up in the spare the rod and spoil the child era.”
Jasper tossed his dark hair out of his eyes, laughing happily. He had white, even teeth and full lips. Hana had to stop herself from staring until she realized he probably was used to being closely inspected by women. He carried himself with confidence, and an air of nonchalance, as if he hadn’t a care in the world.
“You two eating at the big house tonight?”
It was phrased offhandedly, but Hana suspected there was more to the question than he wanted to let on. Maybe he had a thing for Marnie? In which case, it sucked to be Hana, because of the available men, he was the one she was most attracted to.
Marnie looked at Hana. “So, you want to?”
“I’ll have to see what Auntie wants to do first, but I’d like to. Do I have to dress up?”
“Casual is great,” Marnie told her. “Some of the guests go all out with the cowboy theme. One guy dresses as Roy Rogers and his wife does the whole Dale Evans thing. It’s cute when they get up and sing their old songs with the karaoke. But you don’t have to do that much. You can show me what you’ve got, we’ll get you set.”
“Cool, thanks!” Hana turned to Jasper. “If my aunt hasn’t got other plans, I’ll be there.”
“Super!” He grinned happily, his green eyes sparkling. “I hope to see you there then. Seven o’clock,” He added as an afterthought. He swaggered off, dusting the seat of his pants with the brim of his hat.
“Oh, my God!” Hana couldn’t control herself another second. “Is he gorgeous or what?” She whispered excitedly to Marnie, hoping Jasper wouldn’t hear her.
“He’s a sweetheart too,” Marnie told her. “If I weren’t so wild about Jeff, I’d think about taking him for a spin. But I saw Jeff first, and the brat stole my heart completely! I’m probably just attracted to him because he’s the only man who ever turned me down. Who knows?” She threw up her hands, rolling her eyes heavenward.
“Are those eyes for real? I mean he doesn’t wear colored contacts or something?”
“No! Totally, all Jasper! Come on, let’s go talk to your aunt, and find something for you to wear.”
They waved to the men on the other side of the corral and hopped off the fence. Talking happily, they walked back to Hana’s cabin. Aunt Enid was asleep in her chair, but woke when they walked in. Amazingly, she smiled and held out her hands to Marnie.
“Hello, dear! So good to see you! You’ve made a friend, Hana, that’s wonderful! Marnie and I are old pals, aren’t we?”
“Absolutely, Ms. E.! You look pretty good! Janine told me you’d had a bad spell.” She squatted on the floor by Aunt Enid’s chair.
“I’ll say! But thanks to Hana, I’m on the road to recovery. She’s been such a godsend! You wouldn’t believe the mindless, little twits the agency sent me! Couldn’t even fix a pot of tea. It was pathetic!”
“I know how you like your tea. Two sugars, splash of milk and piping hot!”
Aunt Enid chuckled and her eyes glittered with tears. “I’ve missed you, child. I’m glad to see you. What brings the two of you here? I thought you’d be eyeing the boys at the corral.”
Hana blushed, but Marnie giggled. “Well, we were there and I introduced Hana to Jasper. He invited us to the big house for dinner. Are you up for that tonight?”
“Are Roy and Dale here?”
“No, not ’til next week.”
Enid grinned happily. “Then I’ll go. I get a little sick of the schmaltz. Give me a good Zeppelin song any day!”
“You’re kidding!” Hana was stunned. “You never told me you liked rock! I thought you were a big band, Lawrence Welk type.”
Aunt Enid waved that away with a frail hand. “Oh, that crap? No, I was a Jimi Hendrix fan as far back as the sixties. I went to Woodstock, and camped out with some friends. We used to bathe in the pond there.” She smiled, a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes. “Some young man was taking photographs of us one day. We were naked in the pond and I was washing my hair. He liked the smell of my soap, you know that peppermint Dr. Bronner’s stuff. So I invited him in to take a bath with me.”
She giggled, then laughed heartily. “Of course once he stripped and got in the water, we didn’t exactly bathe. But, oh did we have fun! A year later I married that man.”
“That was Great-Uncle Ed?”
“That was indeed,” she sighed. “He was a marvelous looking man. Fresh out of the Navy and so buff you could bounce a quarter off his butt! Did I know how to pick ’em or what?”
“They came out here on their honeymoon,” Marnie explained. “My grandparents were here at the same time. They got to be great pals. Granny sends her love,” she remembered suddenly. “And Gramps says that he wants to take you for a round of golf, when you’re back up to par.”
© Dellani Oakes 2022