Blacksmith’s Heart ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes ~ Part 23
“How cool! When she said therapy, I had no idea. Your family is full of surprises.”
“Including me?” He walked next to her, his arm around her shoulders.
“Well, you sing, you dance, you ride bucking broncos, shoe horses and you make the best Belgian waffles ever. Not to mention, you kiss better than any man I ever dated before.”
“Not to mention,” he leaned over, kissing her.
A piercing whistle rent the air. “Hurry up, you two! Dinner’s getting cold!” Mitch bellowed from the doorway.
“Coming, Daddy,” Jasper laughed, making a rude finger gesture, since there were no kids around.
Laughing, Mitch let the screen door slam behind him. Jasper held the door open for Hana, admiring her as she walked through. He was having a real problem not putting his hands all over her. Only the fact that there were children around, made him behave himself. Otherwise, it would have been a real fight.
Dinner was great. Mitch kept them all laughing with stories of things he’d done in his life, liberally edited for his children. Hana’s sides hurt by the time they’d finished eating. She offered to help clean up after dinner. Issy graciously accepted, shooing the rest of them out. The men took the children in the yard to watch fireflies and blow bubbles while the women cleaned up.
“This is the one quiet time I’ve got,” Issy said. “I love my family, but sometimes I need a few minutes alone.”
“You have a beautiful family,” Hana said with a smile. “I hope my kids turn out as great as yours.”
“You and Jasper will make wonderful parents,” Issy said. “I love Jasper to bits. He’s the sweetest man I know.”
“Even more than Mitch?”
She giggled. “Mitch is a darling, but one could hardly call him sweet. He’s like a big, outrageous teddy bear.”
“And Jasper is like wild honey, golden and sweet.” Hana closed her eyes, remembering his kisses. “It makes me want to lick him all over.”
Issy giggled. “Oh, I can fully understand that. I’ve known a few men who made me feel that way—and some of them licked back. Besides mothering this brood, do you know what I do for a living?”
“Come with me a minute.” She led Hana toward the back of the house. “This is my studio. You know all those gorgeous men you see on the covers of romance novels?”
Issy threw open the door. Inside was a fully stocked artist’s studio. She had different backdrops, props, lights and camera stands set up. Hana looked around, amazed.
“You work here? Isn’t it kind of off the beaten path?”
“Well, it’s not exactly the kind of work I want my neighbors to know I do. Not that it’s bad, but it would probably shock them. And I don’t want my kids teased. But it’s good money, and I get to work with some gorgeous men.”
“Mitch doesn’t mind?”
“Mitch thinks it’s great. After a session photographing hot, sleek, jacked men, I’m more than ready to hop in bed. He loves it!”
Hana laughed, looking around in amazement. “Do you paint too?”
“Yes. Sometimes the publishers want a stylized picture. I photograph my models and do a painting. It’s easier for me and them. Then I don’t have to have them here at the same time.” She was standing in front of a layout table, her hand on a portfolio. “Want to see the latest?”
“Sure. I’d love to!”
Issy smiled secretively, flipping open the portfolio. The man in the pictures had an amazing physique. His abdomen sported better than a six pack, his jeans riding low so a tuft of hair on his lower abs showed above the waistband. He had on a pair of chaps and carried a saddle over one shoulder. The other hand was tucked in the top of the jeans, forcing them lower. His hat covered his face down to the chin, but there was something very familiar about the stance.
“That’s Jasper?” Hana whispered, eyes glittering.
“Oh, my God! I knew he was gorgeous, but oh, wow!”
“Exactly what I thought. I stayed excited over that for days. Mitch loved every minute of that shoot. He is by far the sexiest man I’ve ever had the honor to photograph. If I could, I’d use him for everything.” She pulled out one of the photos. “Here, just for you, so you can fantasize from time to time.”
“Thanks! I don’t think my heart can stand it, but thank you!” She held the picture to her chest. “How did you get him to agree to this? He’s so shy!”
“Jasper? He’s a shy man, who’s an exhibitionist at heart. I didn’t even have to beg, he agreed right away.”
© Dellani Oakes 2022