“Do I think that he might be interested in you?”
Hana nodded, not trusting her voice. She wasn’t sure what she wanted, but she was pretty sure that Jasper would feature prominently in the picture.
Marnie clubbed her with a pillow from the bed. “Do ducks swim? Honey, he’s never, in the entire time I’ve known him, ever walked up and talked to me, when I was with another girl. He has always kept his distance.”
“He’s kinda shy. He wasn’t always buff and gorgeous. I think he has the ugly duckling syndrome. I mean if you’d seen him in middle school, you’d understand. Buck teeth, scrawny, skinny and six inches taller than everyone else. In high school he got into weight lifting, got braces and started taking martial arts. He’s still shy, but he can break a board with his forehead and bench press some ridiculous amount.”
“Totally changed into a buff babe by the time he graduated. He still had this self image of gawky and funny looking, that no girl ever got past.”
Hana couldn’t think of anything else to say. She had a million questions for Marnie, but they all jumbled together and became one word each. At the risk of sounding foolish, she shut up.
“Well, I’d better let you change. I’ve got to change too. I bought a special outfit, just to see if it will catch Jeff’s eye. Wish me luck!” She hugged Hana and left quietly so she wouldn’t wake Aunt Enid.
Hana showered and dried her hair thoughtfully. When her hair was done, she did her face with care, spending extra time on her eyes. She had always thought them her best feature, big and blue with arching eyebrows and dark eyelashes. A little bronzing powder on her cheeks and chest and she felt ready for action.
It was time to wake Aunt Enid by the time she finished, so she woke her gently and helped her get dressed. Her great-aunt surprised her by putting on a pretty Mexican dress that was covered in delicate, hand embroidery. Hana couldn’t remember ever having seen it before.
“I wore it the first night we were here, so long ago,” she told Hana. “It’s traditional now. I wear it every first night.”
They made their way slowly to the big house for dinner. There was a neatly paved sidewalk that ran from their cabin to a ramp on the side of the front porch. The house was a homey, rambling ranch style with thick carpets in Southwestern prints. Beautiful paintings and artwork covered the walls and Hana was impressed to find several original Remingtons among them. There were sculptures and pottery that were obviously Native American. Some of them were extremely old. These pieces were in heavy glass museum cases.
After looking around in awe for a few minutes, Hana wheeled Aunt Enid to the dining hall. Tables were scattered around the perimeter of a dance floor. The tables were covered with red and white checked tablecloths. A small vase of flowers and a candle adorned each.
Most of the guests gathered around a buffet table to the side of a small stage where musical instruments waited to be played. Across one end of the buffet was a small, but well stocked bar. Hana took her aunt over and was surprised again to see how enthusiastically Enid was greeted. Everyone fussed so over making her comfortable, Hana backed away a few steps retreating into herself.
Hana had never seen her aunt like this. Everyone always walked on eggshells around her, afraid of setting off one of her famous spells. She remembered what Marnie had told her and felt saddened. How much her family had missed out on not knowing this side of Aunt Enid. And how stifling her life must be at times, with everyone holding their breath around her. That had to change and she would figure out a way before they left.
“Hana? Where’s she gone?” Enid looked around in a panic.
“Here, Auntie.” She walked over and knelt by her aunt’s chair. “Sorry, everyone was so enthusiastic, I thought I was in the way.”
“My favorite niece is never in my way! I’ll cane anyone who disagrees!” Her dark eyes twinkled in her wrinkled face. “You’re my girl, and no one can take your place. Remember that.”
“Yes, Auntie,” Hana’s eyes filled with tears.
She saw the same expression mirrored in Aunt Enid’s face and hugged her frail shoulders gently. Wiping her eyes, she stood. “Can I get you something from the buffet?”
“Janine used to have crab puffs that were just to die for. Do you see any?”
“Jeff’s bringing out a tray right now, and he’s headed for you,” Hana giggled. “And here comes his younger brother with a bottle of sparkling grape juice for you. Talk about the royal treatment!”
“Enid, how’s my best girl?”
Jeff set the tray down on the table and grabbed a plate from the buffet. He filled it with crab puffs and other delicacies that he’d brought out just for Enid.
“I’ve got all your favorites. Grandma hasn’t forgotten.” He winked at Enid and stood aside for his brother to pour her drink.
“Can I get you anything, Miss Sutherland?”
“Hana. No, I’ll snag something from the buffet. I wouldn’t mind a drink, though.” She glanced at her aunt. “Or would you prefer for me not to have alcohol around you?”
© Dellani Oakes 2022
One response to “Blacksmith’s Heart ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes ~ Part 5”
Reblogged this on Love Under the Sun.