“You stepping on my cat again,” Julia said from the family room where she was making the bed.
“I can do that, sis. Go to bed, huh?”
“I’m pregnant, not helpless.”
“I know, but I’m completely capable of making my own bed. You don’t have to mother me.”
“Maybe I want to. This is the first time you’ve been home in ages. I’ve missed you.”
“You’ve got everyone else, Jules.”
“But you’re my twin.”
He smiled, hugging his sister protectively. “I’ve missed you, squirt.”
“Sorry if Theo embarrassed you with that lecture.”
“No, it’s all good. Gave me something to think about. Did you put him up to it?”
“Yeah. My first time was pretty painful. Not like it was the guy’s fault, he didn’t know anything, either. If I can save anyone else from that, I will.”
“You never told me who your first was.”
“And I never will. I know yours was Daisy O’Brien.”
“What? I never told you.”
“She was bragging all over hell and back the next day. She was proud of herself. She said you performed admirably.”
“She told you? Oh, my God.” He sat on a nearby chair.
“Not me specifically. We were in P.E. together and she was broadcasting to the entire locker room.”
“No wonder I suddenly had all kinds of offers. It was kind of overwhelming, there for a while. Guess I did okay, huh?”
“According to Daisy, the Earth moved three times. Did you really do her three times?”
“Four, but there wasn’t much Earth movement the first time. I was still figuring out where everything went.”
“Ew! Too much information!”
“You started it.”
“And on that note, I’ll say goodnight.”
Jasper flopped on the bed fully clothed, then got up and stripped to his boxers. Before lying down again, he found the CD remote and chose some music to go in the player. He could have music all night if he wanted. He put in some CD’s that he’d made for Julia, mixes of their favorite songs. Lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, he let the haunting notes of Swan Song by Within Temptation wash over him.
Closing his eyes, he thought about Hana. He could feel her body next to his as they posed for Issy. He remembered the texture of the fabric under his hands as he caressed her. Her body was remarkable, both athletically trim and softly curved. Biting his lip, he groaned. He hadn’t been in a relationship for a while. Casual booty calls didn’t count, right?
He could have as many of those as he wanted, if he wanted. Not a day went by at the ranch that he didn’t have some female guest, married or not, proposition him. He never took them up on it, even if they were single. He thought it was bad form. Besides, if his grandparents even suspected that he’d used his job at the ranch to get laid, they’d have a fit. The only time he did the casual sex thing was if he and an old girlfriend got together. He didn’t fool around with women he didn’t know, never picked up one night partners in bars. He was far too picky for that.
He thought back over the last couple months, trying to remember when it was exactly that he’d had sex, and couldn’t recollect details. Somehow that didn’t seem right. He should remember, but try as he might, he couldn’t recall the face of a single woman but Hana. Her face was in his mind, her scent in every breath he took. Her laughter coursed through his blood. He found her intoxicating, seductive, unforgettable.
The song changed to Faithless Love by Linda Ronstadt. It was one of the first songs his father taught him to play on the guitar. He even learned the banjo part for it as well. He didn’t notice right away that he was singing with her, harmonizing to her melody, his deeper voice unable to hit the high notes. As the notes of the song faded and the next one started, he fell asleep.
After a huge breakfast, Hana and Jasper started back to the ranch, arriving by noon. Everyone was seated at tables when they walked in. They were greeted like long lost soldiers returned from a distant war. Marnie and Jeff brought them food. Jimmy plied them with drinks and Aunt Enid insisted that they tell about their adventures.
“I missed you Auntie, but I had such fun! You’ve met Julia and Theo?”
“Oh, many times. And how did you like Issy and Mitch?”
“They’re wonderful! It was like coming home, Auntie. I want to stay here forever. I think you and I should move out here.”
“Would you really want to be so far from your family, dear?”
“The only one I’d miss is Daddy, and he travels all the time anyway. He could take a detour.” She smiled, taking her aunt’s hand. “What do you think? We could find a place nearby.”
“You know,” Jasper interjected. “Grandma and Grandpa take full time boarders. Some of the bungalows are equipped with kitchens so you can prepare your own meals. Why, it would be a home away from home.”
© Dellani Oakes 2022