Blacksmith’s Heart ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes ~ Part 70

“I had no idea.”

“It’s not the kind of thing she’s likely to tell you, is it?”

“Why was she always so strict with me?”

He sighed, hugging her close. “You’ve met your grandmother?” he said quietly. “You didn’t fit her mold. She wanted you to conform, too. Your mother tried, but you have my free spirit. I think she took a lot of flack from Grandmother over it.”

“Really? How horrible. I suppose Grandmother hates Jasper.”

He didn’t say anything, merely pressed his lips together. “Let’s say she’s not his biggest fan.”

“But Mom likes him?”

“Yes, Mom likes him. She couldn’t stop talking about him after you kids left last night.”

Hana’s eyes filled with tears. “Y’all are full of surprises,” she said quietly.

“I’m just me. Mama’s full of surprises.”

“That she is.”

“Hana!” her mother called. “Jasper’s just had the best idea for the flower beds. What do you think?” She pulled her daughter into their group, smiling and laughing. “Tell her what you told me,” she encouraged Jasper.

They didn’t leave until after lunch, which the four of them prepared together, much to Hana’s surprise. Reluctant to leave, Hana found herself enjoying her mother’s company for the first time since she was a child. They made a date for dinner and went home.

“We have to get some groceries,” Hana said. “We can’t keep eating at Mom’s.”

Jasper smiled. “She’s enjoying having you here so much, give her a chance, huh? She doesn’t mind.”

“I suppose you’re right. Another couple of days for packing, we can start the shipping. There’s a shipping service that picks up at the door. It’s really convenient. It’s kind of pricey, but it’s what Auntie wants.”

“We can take it to UPS.”

“Yes, or we can call the service.”

Jasper laughed. “Or we can do that.”

“There’s something Auntie especially wants you to see,” Hana said, leading him up to the finished attic. The lights flickered on, illuminating a cozy room with several comfortable chairs. Recording equipment stood in front of the chairs. A keyboard, electric drum set and elaborate controls graced the floor, all neat and orderly. The thing that caught Jasper’s eye were the guitar cases. Seventeen were lined up on specially made shelves. Each had a tag describing the contents.

Jasper had seen pictures of Ed’s guitar collection and knew he had some precious, treasured pieces. He’d seen one or two in person, because Ed always traveled with at least one. Gasping with delight, he rushed to the wall, gently opening the first box. Inside nestled a golden topped acoustic/ electric guitar inlaid with different colored woods and mother of pearl around the sound hole. He touched the strings. Slightly out of tune, it still had a rich, mellow tone.

“His vintage Takameni. May I?” he asked before picking it up.

Hana nodded, smiling. “Absolutely. In fact, I want a concert while you decide which one you want.”

“Which one—what?” His jaw dropped and he stared at her.

“Uncle Ed wanted you to have your pick first. Each of your brothers and cousins also get a choice. He has particular ones set aside for your dad and grandfather. Those are put away. Any of the ones on the shelves are yours to choose from. We will ship the rest back and your family can choose. He had something else in mind for the girls.”

“This is amazing! Any of them?”

She nodded, watching the childlike delight play across his face.

“This is a hard decision!”

“You don’t have do decide this second. Play them and see which one sings to you. That’s how Uncle Ed phrased it. He listed a couple, but I’m not going to say what they are, until you try them. I want to see if he was right.”

Jasper picked up the guitar, lovingly tuning it. He began strumming, listening to the soft, mellow tune as the guitar found its voice. He sang softly, his voice crooning the words of JJ Grey and Mofrow’s song, This River. By the time he’d finished, Hana was in tears. It had such a haunting, lonely melody that touched her heart. Not wanting her to be sad, Jasper tried to find a different song, but the guitar seemed to want something soulful rather than upbeat. Eventually, he settled on an instrumental by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Electric Lullaby. It was mellow blues, but not as sad as some he could have played.

Sensing that Hana was in the mood for something happier, he set that guitar aside and picked up another vintage guitar. This was an old electric National. He played a rockabilly song by Chet Atkins, and an old Chuck Berry tune. Hana was in better spirits after that. He chose one more guitar, one of his favorites, an old Sho-Bro guitar, much more unusual than the others. These were discontinued in the mid to late 1970s because there wasn’t really a market for them. Too mellow for the bluegrass crowd, they were the redheaded stepchild of the Dobro guitars. He coaxed some heavier blues from this one, but it protested when he tried to do anything more than that. He settled for Outlaw Country and sang his favorite Willie Nelson songs.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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