Everyone sat down, politely silent, as Hana retold the story of their adventure. She edited it considerably, leaving out the most private details. Jasper came and stood beside her, his arm around her waist. He still wasn’t wearing his shirt, a fact that did not escape Marnie’s or Enid’s attention. Her aunt gave her a penetrating look.
“Let’s get you two fed,” Janine clapped her hands briskly when Hana had finished. “You must be starving!”
Marnie wheeled Aunt Enid back into the dining room. The crowd moved in after them. Jasper and Hana remained behind a moment, detained by Tyee.
“I want to know what else happened up there, son. What was conveniently left out of the narrative.”
“Nothing happened, Tyee,” Hana blurted out.
Jasper laid a gentle hand on her arm. “Nothing, Dad. Honest.”
“But something nearly did, am I right?”
Neither of them could meet his gaze, but answered in unison, “Yes, sir.”
“Boy, what have I told you about that?”
“To think with my brain, sir.”
“That’s right. I’ll say it until I’m blue, if I have to. Young people don’t need to rush into relationships. Hormones are powerful things, but you have to build a relationship on a firm foundation. Sexual attraction isn’t enough.”
“I know, sir, but—”
“We didn’t exactly plan—” Jasper faltered, falling silent.
“No one ever does, son.” He smiled slightly, the love for his child evident. “Back in my day, we just had to worry about getting a girl pregnant. Now it’s much more deadly than that. No matter how careful you think you’re being, things happen. Just pay attention, son. That’s all I’m asking.”
Impulsively, Hana stood on tiptoe and gave Tyee a kiss on the cheek. “We’ll be more careful.”
“Good. We’d better join the others. Your grandmother will have our hides if we don’t get in there and eat.”
They walked into the dining room amid chattering and the clatter of dishes as the food was served. Jeff, Jimmy and Marnie circulated with platters of food, plates and silverware serving an impromptu feast.
Hana and Jasper sat beside Aunt Enid. She smiled at them, but a question was in her eyes. She looked pointedly at Jasper’s shirt on Hana. Her niece reached out and touched her hand. Jasper took her other, squeezing the fingers gently.
“It’s all right,” Hana assured her. “Nothing happened.”
“I wasn’t concerned about that. I was just afraid I’d never see you again. That storm was horrible. A tornado passed a few miles south of here and we were so worried! At least you’re home and safe. All’s well that ends well. Now eat!”
Marnie handed them each a plate and bowl. Jeff followed with a pot of aromatic stew and Jimmy brought fresh bread, butter and honey. Hana ate so much, she could hardly move. Leaning back in her chair, she sighed happily.
“If I live here long enough, I’m going to weigh three hundred pounds,” she groaned.
“Don’t worry.” Jasper kissed her hand. “I won’t let you.”
After dinner was cleared away, no one felt like going to bed, even though it was about 1:00 in the morning. Tyee and Stan took their guitars to the stage and started to play.
“This is for Jasper and Hana,” Tyee said as Stan began to sing. “Welcome home.”
The same Kenny Wayne Shepherd song wound around them. Jasper held out his hand and she joined him on the dance floor. His chest was still bare, and she leaned her cheek against his warm skin, his chest hair tickling her cheek. He held her around the waist, hugging her tightly to him, as if he never wanted to let her go.
He hummed along with the melody for a moment, then sang quietly, harmonizing with his father. His voice wrapped her in love and she never wanted the song to stop. She felt at that moment that his father must have accepted their relationship. Why else would he have remembered and played the first song they ever danced to?
The two men continued to play quietly, comforting music that was easy to dance to. After the first song finished, other couples joined them on the dance floor. Hana saw Jerry and Janine nearby, then Marnie and Jeff walked up hand in hand. Jasper leaned over, kissing the top of her head.
“I’m sorry about what happened earlier,” he whispered under the music.
She smiled up at him, “Which, getting trapped in the cabin, or getting caught in the rain?”
“I mean what almost happened in the cabin.” He blushed, embarrassed by his own emotions.
“Don’t be sorry. I’m not. It would have been beautiful. It just wasn’t meant to be yet, that’s all. We’ll be together when the time is right,” she promised him.
“But when will that be?” he asked anxiously.
“I don’t know.”
The party broke up around 2:00, everyone yawning and saying goodnight as they went back to bed. Jasper walked with Hana and Enid back to their cabin. He said very little until Enid broke the silence.
©2022 Dellani Oakes