“You bet! You’ll be maid of honor! I already know what I’m going to have everyone wear. I’ve been planning this day for three years!”
“Congratulations,” Hana hugged her again.
“What are we congratulating for?” Jasper walked up so silently, they hadn’t heard him.
“Jeff asked me to marry him, and I’m going to say yes!”
“No way! He finally did it? Hot damn!” He whooped happily.
Marnie told him the details of her date with his cousin. It was complete with a description of how he made her toes tingle as they made love. Jasper chuckled and winked at Hana.
“I’ll have to ask him how he did the toe tingling thing. That could be a useful piece of information.”
“Don’t you dare! He’d absolutely die if he knew I’d told you! Promise you won’t say anything! Please?” She looked truly distressed, so Jasper relented.
“I was teasing anyway, Mar. I think I can make a lady’s toes tingle without his advice.” Looking up at Hana, he grinned. “You ready?”
“Yes, just got to get Auntie up to the big house.”
“I’ll take her up,” Marnie told her. “I have to give her the date details anyway.”
“Well, grab your hat and sunglasses and we’ll go!”
“Great! I’ll give Auntie a kiss and be right out.”
Enid was awake when she walked in. Jasper’s enthusiasm had woken her. She was a little grumpy, but the promise of a good story from Marnie brightened her spirits. Hana and Jasper gave her a kiss and started toward the door.
“Hana, carry your phone. I won’t worry as much if you have that with you.”
“Of course. Silly of me to forget.”
She slipped the slender phone into her back pocket and took Jasper’s proffered hand. They walked hand in hand to the barn where two horses were waiting for them. Hers was a golden white mare and his was a palomino stallion. Both had saddle bags of supplies on them. Hana was surprised to see so much food and water for a short ride.
“Do we really need to take so much with us? I thought we weren’t going far.”
“We aren’t going off Lazy J land, but they own a hundred and fifty acres. Besides, weird things happen, and we’ll be far from civilization. I won’t take chances with your safety.”
“I can take care of myself, Jasper.”
“I don’t want to offend you, Hana, but you’re a city girl. I’m a country boy, and this is my environment. I want you safe, okay?”
“Okay,” she agreed, kissing him quickly. She didn’t want an argument or a lecture, she just wanted to spend time with him.
“Come meet your horse,” he grinned. “Not to be sexist, but you’re on the mare. She’s very gentle and keeps my guy calm. Mine’s still a little green. I broke him a few weeks ago, but he’s been slow to take to the bit. I wouldn’t want him to shy on you.”
They walked up to the horses. He handed her an apple to feed her mare.
“Meet Moonstone.” He smiled and scratched the mare between her ears.
“And the palomino is Vintage Gold. My mom used to sell Mary Kay cosmetics. They’re named after her two favorite eye shadows.”
“Beautiful horses,” she told him honestly. “Hello, Moonstone,” she spoke softly to the horse, breathing in her nostrils and scratching her ears gently.
The horse whickered and nuzzled her hand asking for another apple. Jasper handed her another and checked the saddle straps as Hana fed Moonstone the apple.
“Need a leg up?”
“I can manage, thanks.” Seeing the disappointment in his face, she grinned. “I’d love a leg up, thank you.”
Jasper grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her up into the saddle as easily as she would lift a loaf of bread. He put his foot in the stirrup and swung his long leg over Vintage Gold’s back in one fluid motion.
Hana loved watching him move. It was like one big dance. Smiling, he leaned over and kissed her lingeringly. Moonstone snorted, skittering away from him, breaking their contact. Hana giggled as Jasper looked annoyed.
“Damn horse,” he grunted.
“She’s just officially appointed herself chaperon. You’d better behave yourself while we’re away.”
“Right. Like I said, damn horse. Cut me some slack, Moon. I’ll get you a date with Gold when we get home.”
“Oh, that’s nice! Bribery! The ASPCA needs to hear about this!”
“I promise, no horses were harmed in the making of this romantic interlude.” He chuckled as he turned the golden horse toward the gate. “We’re going to go west for a bit, then dip south. I want to show you my favorite spot.”
“Is it far?”
“Half an hour or so out at a leisurely pace. I’m in no hurry. Are you?”
©2022 Dellani Oakes