They dutifully wrote their autographs in the book.
“Have you done other covers?” another woman asked.
“I have,” Jasper replied. “Maybe you saw Jack Barrow’s Wagon and Cheshire Lords?”
“Oh, my God! I have both of those! Not with me….”
“That was you on Jack Barrow?” a third lady asked. “Oh, my God! Is he really built like that?” she asked Hana.
“Oh, yes. In fact, pictures can’t do him justice.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” the first lady said.
“Ladies, as much as we’d love to chat, we’ve got a plane to catch. It’s been a delight meeting you.” Jasper kissed their hands and they left.
David stared incredulously at his sister and Jasper. “Why didn’t you tell me you’d posed for a book cover?”
“I didn’t think about it. We did it weeks ago, and it slipped my mind.”
“That was a hell of a hot cover,” David said softly to Jasper when Hana was in the bathroom. “How the hell did you manage to do that without ripping her clothing off?”
“It wasn’t easy. In case you haven’t noticed, your sister is a beautiful woman.” He stopped himself before he said something crass. “It wasn’t easy.”
David chuckled, punching Jasper’s arm playfully. “Cheese it, she’s coming back.”
The flight home was very pleasant. They sat in first class, enjoying the comfortable seats and extra leg room. Hana had always flown coach before, so it was a rare treat for her to be pampered in first class.
They arrived mid-afternoon in Albuquerque, and were met by Marnie and Jeff. She was sporting a sparkling diamond on her left hand.
Hana grabbed her hand, examining it carefully. “All those phone calls, and you didn’t tell me?”
“I wanted to make it a surprise.”
“I told you—everything!” Hana screeched as they walked to the car.
“Not everything, I hope. I would like a few secrets,” Jasper said in a shocked tone.
“Down to the dimple on your left cheek,” Marnie said with a grin.
“I don’t have dimples…. Oh, fuck. Hana!” He gave her a big kiss. “Nothing else, though, right?”
“I might have mentioned the length of your….”
“Hana!” He put a hand over his groin, crossing his legs.
“Chest hair,” Hana continued with a smirk. “Jeesh, Jasper, get all sensitive! Though it is impressive,” Hana said in an aside to Marnie.
David held up his hand. “For your brother’s mental health, please! Stop! Not only does it make me feel vaguely dirty, but it’s been a really long time since I got laid. So, no more sex talk.”
“I feel your pain, my brother,” Jeff said. “Did Jasper happen to mention that he and I are kin to the prettiest women in the state, except for these two, that is. We had to import these.” He winked at Marnie.
“He mentioned something about pretty girls,” David said with a grin. “Why else would I be here?”
Marnie giggled, taking his arm. “The question you need to ask yourself is this, blond, brunette or redhead?”
“Yes, please,” David replied.
Marnie laughed harder. “I like your brother, Hana. He’ll fit right in with this crowd.”
“That he will,” Jasper replied.
Everyone who could, came for dinner that night. Even family members from across the state or into Texas, came for the night. Every room and cabin at the ranch was full, though some were paying guests. The repairs on the house were complete and the new barn was being built.
“We’re having an old fashioned barn raising tomorrow,” Jerry said. “That’s another reason the clan’s gathered. We haven’t had this big a group since Julie and Theo got married. It’s a rare treat. Tonight’s a barbecue. I’ve got the pit fired up and could use your expertise,” he said to Jasper.
“Of course, Granddad. I’m Pit Star, after all.”
“You’d like to think so,” Jeff countered.
“I know so,” Jasper bragged.
“I can out cook you any day of the week.”
“Bring it, Boy!”
“You’re on,” Jeff said loudly.
They did a chest bump, both of them holding their ground. The women looked on with surprise.
“They always do this,” Jimmy explained. “Don’t worry about it. For some guys, it’s a pissing contest. For Jasper and Jeff, it’s a cook off. Be glad no one said chili,” he whispered. “Or we’d be up to our eyeballs in it.”
“Shh!” Marnie warned. “They’ll hear you!” Giggling, she dragged Hana off to her cabin with Aunt Enid.
The boxes had arrived the day before and were neatly stacked at the new house. Hana’s things were taken to Jasper’s cottage. From now on, she would be living with him, next door to Aunt Enid.
Everyone dressed in their Western best for dinner. Since there were guests who wanted to doll it up, Marnie loaned Hana her spare Annie Oakley outfit. Aunt Enid opted for her pretty denim outfit, accented with a scarf bearing the Texas Lone Star.
©2022 Dellani Oakes