“Humor? Yours and comics you enjoy.”
“I’m a tease and I’m sometimes sarcastic as hell. I like angry, sarcastic comedians.” Jasper grinned, liking this conversation more than he thought he would.
“Lewis Black, Ron White, Jeff Dunham and Dennis Leary are my favorites!” Hana said.
“No kidding? Mine too. Add George Carlin to the list and it’s complete.”
“How could I forget him?” she laughed at herself.
“And the secret category?”
She grinned, raising an eyebrow and pursing her lips. “All right. This one is reserved only for couples who have made at least an eight on the scale.”
“We’re at eight point five.”
Hana nodded and wiggled slightly in her saddle. “The final question is, vanilla or chocolate?”
“That’s it? Nothing more? No explanation?”
“None. First reaction, vanilla or chocolate?”
“Got to go with chocolate.”
Hana whooped, throwing one hand up in the air. “Yes! You got the gold star!”
“So what does it mean?”
Laughing, she tried hard to tell him, but kept blushing and giggling. Finally, she was able to keep a semi-straight face.
“Which kind of pudding you’d rather have smeared on you for the other person to lick off.”
Jasper sputtered, coughing like crazy. He laughed until his sides hurt. Holding his ribs and wiping his eyes, he looked at her and started to laugh again.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he told her with a provocative wink. “So, are we destined to be together forever?” He turned serious, his laughter dwindling away.
“I certainly hope so,” she told him sincerely.
Jasper reined in and Gold came to a skittering stop. “We’re there,” he told her, pointing ahead of them.
Before her lay a flat shelf rock overlooking a deep, dry river bed. The earth fell into multicolored layers. All around her were vivid pinks, dark browns and shades in between she had no name for. Jasper hopped off his horse, dropping the reins. He helped her get down and stood with his arm around her shoulders, pointing to different landmarks.
“I love it up here,” he told her quietly. “I can hear myself think. Whenever I have something to work out, I come here and get my head together. When your Uncle Ed died, this is where I came to grieve. I came here to think when I decided to quit being a vet. I come up here to make every major decision in my life.”
“It’s magnificent!” She didn’t have words enough to describe how she felt.
“It takes my breath away every time. Come over here. You have to sit right on the edge to really appreciate it.”
Hana hung back. “I guess now would be a good time to tell you I’m not fond of heights.”
“You aren’t going to fall. Trust me. Come see.” He tugged gently on her hand.
She followed reluctantly. He led her to the edge. Instead of a sheer drop to the river bed below, there was a broad shelf several feet wide and only about three feet lower than the edge of the flat rock. With a contented sigh, Hana sat beside him, cuddling into the crook of his arm. She gazed out over the landscape, letting the quiet wash over her like a wave.
Jasper looked at the view, then gazed down at Hana. Her appreciation of this special place meant more to him at that moment than anything else. He was thrilled that she loved it as much as he did. His heart was here, drawn to, and a part of, the land where his ancestors had roamed.
With a gentle touch on her cheek, he turned her face to his. He could see her eyes sparkling behind the sunglasses. He took the glasses off, gazing deeply into her eyes. Unable to stop himself, he drew her to him in an unyielding, but seductive embrace. Hana’s arms snaked around his waist, pulling him close to her. Her lips pressed against his, sending a shiver of delight down his spine.
Jasper couldn’t get enough of her kisses. All night he’d felt her lips on his, and it had nearly driven him mad with desire. He wanted to make love to her more than anything, but he knew he’d have to wait. His hands explored her body as he kissed her, finding all the soft, delicious spots under her clothing. Her nipples were stiff, responding to his touch. Only with a Herculean effort was he able to control himself enough not to take them in his mouth. A soft moan escaped him and he pulled gently away from her, forcing himself to let go.
“Nothing…everything.” He couldn’t look at her. He didn’t want her to see the pain and frustration there.
“Did I do something wrong?” she couldn’t hide the disappointment in her voice.
“No! You did everything very right. That’s the problem. I want you so much it hurts, but I promised myself I wouldn’t force you. I don’t want anything you aren’t ready for.”
“Who says I’m not? Shouldn’t I be the one to decide?”
“I want it to be perfect.”
“Why can’t it be perfect here?”
©2022 Dellani Oakes