She was thinking about what to say when Mitch walked up.
“I owe you a good bit of money, Jasper. You want me to pay you now, or bill me?”
“I’ll send a bill. Then I can figure in gas and so on.”
“Not a problem. Need money to get home?”
“I’m set, thanks. We’d better head back.”
“Yeah. The kids will be home soon, sure you can’t stay?”
“If we do, it’ll be seven o’clock before we get out of here.”
“True. Well, you take care on the road, you hear?”
“We will, Mitch.”
They bid farewell to their friends and headed out.
The folks at the Lazy J assured Hana that they could watch over Enid for another night, so they agreed to stay with Jasper’s sister. Hana found that she liked his family a great deal. Not only was Julia present, but several of his other siblings. She met more sisters, brothers, in-laws, cousins and their children than she could count.
“Your family is so big,” she commented after dinner. “I can’t get over how many there are. We don’t have nearly as big a family and we hardly ever all get together.”
Julia laughed. “Oh, Hana, this isn’t even half of us. Jasper doesn’t come by very often, so when he does, as many of us that can, get together to help him remember he has relatives.”
“It also helps me remember why I try so damn hard to forget you all,” he pretended to grouse. “They’re all completely crazy. I’m the only normal one in the bunch.”
“Normal, he says?” Julia’s husband, Theo, laughed loudly. “Not a normal bone in his body.”
“Shows what you know! I have one normal bone,” Jasper told him. “I’m not gonna tell you which one it is, though.”
“I said bone, not boner,” Theo chucked him hard in the shoulder. “This is what you get when you’ve been friends as long as we have. We can read each others minds, but still ignore one another.”
“He’s what you get when humans mate with monkeys,” Jasper quipped.
“Hey, which parent are you insulting?”
“Your dad. Your mom is a lady in every sense of the word.”
“Okay, then I don’t have to kill you.”
“How long have you two been friends?” Hana asked.
The men stared at each other, calculating.
“Well, let’s see,” Theo said. “Your birthday’s June thirtieth, mine’s July first.” He glanced at his watch. “So that comes to twenty-seven years, fourteen hours, six minutes and forty-two seconds.”
“You’re so making that up!” Julia swatted her husband. “What he means is they’ve known one another all their lives. Theo’s family is distantly related to ours. Very distantly,” she added. “I didn’t marry my first cousin or anything.”
“Fourth cousin once removed,” Theo said with a grin. “Close enough to claim kin, far enough to kiss.” He tickled her, pulling her onto his lap with a healthy smooch on her lips.
Jasper’s eyes twinkled as he watched their playfulness. “I couldn’t have asked for a better match,” he said. “My best friend and my favorite sister.”
“Too bad you never liked my sister,” Theo winked at Jasper.
“Don’t start that again, Theodore. We tried that, remember? The whole double date fiasco? I have wounds that will never heal.”
“Is it my fault Keely didn’t like your style?”
“What style? All I tried to do was kiss her goodnight. A simple little kiss,” he explained to Hana. “No tongue or anything. She tried to knee me in the balls, and yanked out a handful of hair. She’s psycho.”
“Didn’t succumb to your obvious charm? What’s wrong with the girl?”
“She prefers blondes now,” Theo said with a smirk. “With tits.”
“Oh. Ooh! Didn’t have the right equipment to charm her, huh?” she teased Jasper, kissing his cheek.
“Apparently not, though I come fully loaded. Not too many miles on me, but I’m broke in good.” He ran his lips on the edge of her ear, his breath hot against her skin.
A small shiver ran down Hana’s spine. She tilted her head to give him better access, her hand unconsciously drifting to his thigh.
“Are we interrupting?” Julia said rather too loudly. “If so, we’ll show you to your cabin.”
“Got one with two beds?” Jasper asked, dragging himself away from Hana with great effort.
“No, most of the family is staying over. Is that a problem?”
“Well, I don’t want to make Hana uncomfortable. We haven’t known each other that long.” He blushed, finding a spot on the floor very interesting.
“Oh, honey, I didn’t even think. This is the first time you brought a girl home. I thought maybe— My fault entirely to assume—”
“We can move Jake and Honey to their cabin and they can stay with us. One in the guest room, one on the futon in the basement,” Theo saved his wife from further embarrassment.
“Oh, that would work. Good idea, hon.”
Jasper’s dark eyes held thanks as he glanced at his brother-in-law.
© Dellani Oakes 2022