“You look wonderful,” Hana said. “If it gets too uncomfortable, you can change after you make your big entrance.”
“True. I can’t go tromping around the dining room all night. I wonder if anyone is taking pictures?”
“Who’s a good photographer?”
“Tyee. I bet he would get pictures of us all if we asked him.”
“Take your phones and go for it,” Enid said with a giggle.
She was the most relaxed and animated that Hana had ever seen. She couldn’t get over how much her aunt had changed simply being in this environment.
When they arrived at the party, everyone applauded. They made their grand entrance escorting Aunt Enid, who actually walked in on her own. She sat almost immediately, but she her eyes glittered excitedly.
“Where’s Jasper?” Marnie asked, looking around the crowd.
“He’ll be here,” Jeff said, coming up behind her. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. “Hey, beautiful.”
“Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” she quoted Mae.
“What do you think, baby?” He nuzzled her neck, nibbling her earlobe. “I missed you.”
They spent several minutes saying hello. Hana and Enid worked their way further into the room. Tyee was already set up to take pictures, having thought of that himself. He took several shots of Enid and Hana together, adding Marnie when she came in.
Hana was still looking for Jasper. She finally asked his father where he was.
“Oh, he tried to get the grill going, but it was being stubborn, so he had to fix it. There were more complications, so he’s just now gone for a shower. He’ll be here shortly.”
She liked Tyee. He was quiet, but had a warm, welcoming aspect just like Jasper’s mother. On an impulse, she kissed his cheek.
“The name’s Sitting Bull tonight,” he corrected with a grin. “And you’re mighty welcome, Miss Maisey.”
“There’s your cowboy now,” her aunt tugged her sleeve, pointing at the door.
Jasper had gone all out. He was wearing the outfit he had on in the pictures, complete with a hat and saddle bags over his shoulder. He had a real six shooter on one hip and a lasso rope on the other. When he saw Hana, he grinned, waving to her from the doorway.
Tyee beckoned him over, laughing like crazy. “Look at you, a real live cowboy! Miss Maisey, may I present—what’s your name?”
“Tack Mosley, at yer service, ma’am.” He hitched up his gun belt and pretended to spit.
Hana couldn’t resist. Nearly knocking him down in her enthusiasm, she kissed him. He dropped the saddle bags with a clunk, putting both arms around her. His kiss got even more interesting until his father cleared his throat.
“Folks are staring, son.”
“Sorry, Pa,” Jasper replied with a distinctive Texas drawl. “This here filly done caught my eye. Got to give her a warm welcome now, don’t I?”
“Not quite that warm.” Tyee frowned, and meant it.
“Yes, sir.” Jasper backed off a couple inches, holding Hana’s hands. “I’m mighty sorry, Miss Maisey, my attraction done overrun my good sense.”
“That’s all right, Mr. Mosley. I declare, I’m right flattered that you like little old me!”
Fanning herself, she walked away from him, giving him a coy look over her shoulder. Laughing, Jasper followed her.
Janine called for everyone’s attention, giving a short welcome speech. “I’ve had the boys set up the karaoke machine, so you folks enjoy yourselves. I believe Mr. and Mrs. Finch had a song they wanted to do?”
“Sure nuf,” Mr. Finch said. “Honey?”
They got up and sang Don’t Fence Me In quite respectably.
The twins hopped up next, dragging Jasper and their brothers up there with them to sing Seven Bridges Road. They ran the gamut of Willie Nelson, The Eagles and other country stars until Jasper and Jeff got up together.
“We’ve got a special song we’d like to dedicate to Marnie and Hana,” Jeff said, nudging Jasper in the ribs.
Jasper had a guitar and his hat on. Jeff took the bandana from around his neck and tied it around his head. He pulled a pair of dark glasses out of his pocket as the music began.
Marnie started to laugh as soon as they hit the first chord, attempting to dance in her fancy dress. The girls joined them for a dance as they sang, Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy! by Big and Rich.
Hana didn’t know if she should laugh or blush, so she did both. Jasper played his guitar, doing a fair imitation of Rich, as Jeff took Big Kenny’s part. They had to do the song three times before everyone had enough. It was surely the highlight of the night.
The party wound down after that. Many of the older folks went to bed. Janine took Enid back to her cabin to get her settled, while Jasper and Hana enjoyed one another’s company. Jeff and Marnie disappeared some time after the performance.
© Dellani Oakes 2022