Enid nodded, looking thoughtful. “You know, I’d not have put it quite that way, but it’s surely true. Jasper is a fine fellow, but he’s still a man, and he can’t help it. You’ve got to be the strong one, Hana. Let the boy court you a while, don’t just leap at the first sign of an invitation.”
“So far he’s been the strong one. He kisses me and I go to jelly inside and I can’t think straight.”
“You curtail that, young lady!” Her aunt was completely serious. “Pull in those horns and start playing it safe! If I have to, I’ll send you home on the next flight. I won’t have a disaster on my conscience.”
“It won’t be a disaster.”
“If it’s not yet meant to be, it will be complete chaos.”
“Can I ask you something really personal?”
“You may as me anything, Hana Belle.” She brushed her fingers along the curve of Hana’s cheek. “My favorite niece can ask whatever she wants.”
“Was Uncle Ed your first?” Blushing horribly, she stared at her feet nervously.
“My one and only,” Enid told her. “And it wasn’t until that engagement ring was on my finger, and the date was set, that I let him go beyond kissing me. Girls who jump into bed too easily are missing out. It’s the girls who hold out that have all the fun! There’s more to a relationship than sex. Enjoying one another’s company outside the bedroom, that’s more important.”
“It’s just—I haven’t ever—” She stumbled over her words, embarrassed to admit her virginity.
“I know, child. You’ve never been with a man, and that’s to be admired. Too many girls let go of a precious commodity when they sleep around. You’re an adult, albeit a young one and I can’t order you about like I did ten years ago, but I’ve said my piece. Just be careful, Hana and use the sense God gave you.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She kissed her aunt’s fragile cheek. “I promise I’ll be careful. I can’t promise to be a saint.”
Enid winked wickedly. “I didn’t say that, now did I? Good night, dear. Breakfast is from seven to nine.”
Hana woke around 7:30 and took a quick shower. She dressed carefully, striving for attractive but not provocative. She’d never worried about showing a little skin before, but she didn’t want to flaunt it. Her tank top was pale blue with a clear rhinestone flower on the front. She wore white denim shorts and her sandals. She pulled her hair back with some clips and decided to put on a little eye shadow and mascara. When she was ready, she went to the living room and found Aunt Enid watching TV.
“Did you sleep well, dear?”
“Yes, I did. How about you? Been up long?”
Enid shrugged. Since her stroke, she’d been having trouble sleeping through the night.
“Well enough. I’ve been up a couple of hours. I thought watching a few infomercials would put me back under, but it was a vain hope. Ah well—Ready for breakfast?”
“I sure am! Let’s roll, Auntie! I’m starving!”
Enid gathered her things and they made their way to the dining room. Guests were scattered about, some eating, others enjoying a second cup of coffee and a newspaper.
This morning, Jeff and Marnie were serving tables. Marnie greeted them with menus. She was smiling extra wide and had a small love bite on her neck that she’d tried to cover with concealer and makeup. Her eyes sparkled and there was a bounce in her step.
“I’ll tell you later,” she mouthed from behind Enid. “What can I get for you this morning, ladies?”
“I’ve been commanded to order Belgian waffles,” Hana told her playfully. “Auntie?”
“The same. Give us the works, Marnie.” She crooked her finger and Marnie leaned over next to her. “Tell Jeff next time not to give you love bites. There’s better things to do with his time than that. If he wants some pointers, he can ask me later.”
Enid winked at Marnie, who blushed furiously. She dashed from the room in a fit of giggles. She came back a few minutes later with a coffee pot and two mugs.
“Oh, decaf for me, dear. I didn’t think to mention that. Doctor’s orders. The beast! He takes all the fun out of life. No alcohol, no caffeine! Hmpf!”
“I’ll be right back with that,” Marnie told her. “Hana?”
“Real thing for me,” she said with an apologetic smile to her aunt. “I can’t start my day without it.”
“It’s all right. As a vice, it’s a mild one. Just don’t develop any of my old, bad habits and all will be well.”
“No chance of that. I have you to kick my ass back on the straight and narrow.”
Marnie returned with the decaffeinated coffee and poured a mug for Enid. She added the right amount of cream and sugar, stirring well, before handing it to her. “Make sure I got it right, Miss E.”
Enid took a sip and sighed gratefully. “Absolutely perfect as always! Oh, here’s our food!”
Jasper came in carrying a tray with their plates. Each stack was topped with whipped cream, a circle of blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries. Marnie brought over six syrups and a pot of honey. Jasper also produced a bowl of fresh, homemade butter.
Marnie took the tray back to the kitchen and Jasper sat down with them. He waited expectantly while Hana took her first bite.
“Oh, this is delicious! These are the best waffles ever!”
© Dellani Oakes 2022