Hana saw flashing lights and heard distant sirens. The fire department, with the help of the ranch men, got the fire under control. Little was damaged except part of the back wall, the gas tank and the stove inside which had caught part of the blast.
“Good thing Granddad has electrical backup for the gas appliances,” Jasper said. “We’ll probably do a cookout tonight and re-figure the menu for tomorrow, but it’ll do.”
“You’re hurt!” Hana saw blood on his hand and cheek.
“Not serious. Wrench slipped attaching the hose. Caught my hand. The blood on my face is from doing this.” He rubbed away soot and sweat.
Regardless of the fact that he was filthy, Hana pulled his sooty face down to hers, kissing him fiercely.
“Don’t scare me like that again! You hear me, Jasper?”
“I hear you loud and clear.” He nibbled her lips. “Hana, I need to get cleaned up. I smell like last year’s laundry. You need a bath too. You’re a wreck now.”
Laughing, he pointed to her reflection in a nearby window. She looked almost as dirty as he. Her face was smudged, her blouse splotched with soot.
“I’ll take Auntie home and get a shower. Come down when you’re cleaner.”
He kissed her again, figuring any dirt she got on her now wasn’t going to matter. On the way to the cabin, they passed one of the firetrucks. Jimmy helped a female fire fighter put away some equipment.
“You handled yourself well back there,” she said. “Ever thought about being a fire fighter?”
“What, and give up my stellar career as a bartender and waiter?”
She giggled, tossing her long brown ponytail over her shoulder with a careless shake. “Well, there are percs, you know—”
They didn’t hear anymore of the conversation. Jasper grinned, putting his arm around Hana as she pushed Aunt Enid to their cabin.
“It looks like I don’t have to worry too much about Jimmy anymore. He’s found himself a hot little fire fighter.” He chuckled, kissing her cheek. “Be good now.”
“You too.” She giggled as he walked off. “I was just thinking, now you really look like a blacksmith.”
Jasper’s laugh joined hers. “Yeah, you should see me and my hammer in action.”
“I still remain hopeful of that,” she countered.
He saluted before turning toward his place. Hana and Enid’s laughter followed him to his door.
Jasper dropped by a little while later, clean and fresh. His dark hair hung in damp, loose ringlets. His warm kiss was welcoming and more than simply friendly.
“Auntie’s sleeping, so I need to stick close by,” Hana murmured.
“No problem. We can sit on the porch if you want.”
“Sure.” They went out and she left the door cracked in case Aunt Enid called to her.
They sat on the porch swing. Jasper’s arm went around her, pulling her close. She put her head on his shoulder, snuggling against him.
“I could sit like this forever, and be happy.”
“Me too. Course I’d like this better, wouldn’t you?” He turned her face to his with a flicker of his thumb against her cheek.
“Mmm,” was her only reply.
Considering the enthusiastic response he got from her, he concluded that Mmm meant yes.
They had no idea how long they spent thus occupied, because time had little meaning to either of them. Jasper was calm, contented, feeling a peacefulness inside that he couldn’t remember ever experiencing before. He felt as if all the pieces of his life had finally clicked in place. Hana was the key to holding it together.
Gently but firmly taking his lips from hers, he spoke for the first time in what felt like years. “Hana?”
“Mmm.” She didn’t want to concentrate of forming words. Her lips felt lost and cold without his on them.
“I want to ask you something.”
Her eyes opened and she gazed at him. His tone was so serious, she frowned.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m great,” he smiled. “I know we just met, and maybe I’m rushing into this, but the last few days have made it really clear to me what I want out of life. I want a home and a wife and kids. I want to make that home with you, Hana. I want you to be my wife, and I want us to make beautiful babies together.”
“I do too, Jasper.”
“Will you marry me, Hana?”
“Yes,” she giggled and burst into tears. “Yes!”
Remembering how his enthusiastic cheer had woken Enid once before, he kept his enthusiasm much quieter, kissing her instead.
“Here you are,” Enid said from the doorway.
©2022 Dellani Oakes