“I hope you don’t believe a word she said, Hana.” Jasper was fuming. Generally calm, he had his limits and Milly had stepped over them.
“Mrs. Finch, you need to leave now,” Jerry said quietly. “I think the kids need to talk about this without your input.”
“I’m directly involved in this. I think I’ll stay.” She crossed her arms and legs, leaning back on the couch, lips firmly clamped.
“And I’m saying you’ll leave. Last I looked, this is still my property. In fact, I want you and your husband out of here as soon as you pack. You’ve been nothing but trouble since you got here.”
“You can’t order me around!”
“If you read our agreement carefully, I believe you’ll find I can. Let’s do this quietly. I don’t want to have to call the sheriff, but I will.”
“Well, I never!” Milly stood up, bustling toward the door.
Jerry smirked somewhat nastily. “I rather doubt that, somehow. Jasper, do you want Jim to stay?”
“For the moment, yes. Thanks.”
He turned to Hana. She stared at him, wide-eyed, tears running down her pale face. Her eyes were red and puffy, her cheeks stained with melted mascara. He touched her cheek, wiping the dark trails gently. She didn’t move, but stood like a statue as he mentally begged her to smile.
“I’m sorry,” he began.
“For what? Fucking Milly Finch? Milly!?” Hana was hysterical. “I thought we had something special, Jasper! I thought you were the man I was destined to marry. I thought, I hoped you were the man I’ve been waiting for all my life. All—my life!”
Hyperventilating, she clutched her chest as sobs shook her body. Shaking and crying uncontrollably, she couldn’t say another word. Concerned, Jasper held her gently, leading her to the couch. A glance at Jimmy sent him for help. He’d find someone to calm her down, his mom, their grandmother, anyone.
“Hana, I swear, nothing happened. I came back from the corral, and she was in my room in her underwear. I told her to go, but she wouldn’t. She was doing her damnedest to seduce me. I don’t want her, I never did. I want you, Hana. Only you.” Please believe me. You have to believe me. My whole life depends on this moment!
Hana gulped, gasping for breath. She still couldn’t talk, but he could tell by the set of her shoulders and the tension in her body, she didn’t believe him. He wanted to hold her, cover her with kisses, but she was unyielding, refusing to allow his embrace. Helplessly, he sat next to her, murmuring soft reassurances.
Jimmy returned a moment later with Marnie and Aunt Enid in tow. Both women were appalled at Hana’s condition. Marnie took charge immediately.
“Out,” she said kindly but firmly to both men. “This is girl talk time, boys. I’ll get you when she’s ready.”
“No,” Hana gasped.
Jasper’s heart broke in a million, infinitesimal pieces with that one word.
“Hana!” his wounded cry filled the cabin.
Jimmy grabbed his arm, tugging none to gently. “Come on, Jas.” He tugged harder.
Jasper was bigger and heavier than his cousin, but Jimmy was determined and Jasper was distracted. With a final caress of her cheek, he allowed himself to be drawn away. He wanted to vomit. He was heartsick, nauseous, horrified that Hana would never want to see him again.
The door swung shut behind the men and Hana began to cry again. Marnie sat next to her, taking her hands. Aunt Enid sat calmly in her wheelchair, watching the younger women with a practiced eye.
“Talk to me, honey,” Marnie said, patting her hand. “What happened? What did that bitch say?”
“She—said—” Hana gulped. “She said she just came from Jasper’s cabin where they made—love!” She started crying again. “She said—he set it up. Asked her to come—”
“And you believed her?” Marnie looked disgusted. “Miss E., talk sense into this girl, would you please?”
Enid sat up straighter, looking stern. “I’ve known that boy all his life,” she told Hana firmly. “He’s many things, but a liar and womanizer aren’t among them.”
“Hana, Jasper would never in a million years take up with one of the guests.”
“He took up with me!” She was bordering on hysterics again.
Enid summoned all her strength and smacked Hana’s cheek. It didn’t really hurt, but since her aunt had never hit her before, Hana stopped sobbing. Blinking owlishly at Enid, tears rolled out of her eyes as her lip trembled.
“That’s not the same thing,” Enid said. “Marnie means he never took up with a woman for casual sex. He wants more than that from you. Why, he’s all but proposed. The only thing holding him back from that is the fact you just met. He’s been half in love with you since he was sixteen years old. You may not realize it, but you’ve always been a big part of my visits here. Every time I came, the first words out of that boy’s mouth were questions about you. He never said the first hello until he had a Hana update. So, before you start believing the false accusations of some harpy, I suggest you calm down and listen to us!”
©2022 Dellani Oakes