ADVENTURE OF HANNAH
Ruby was so excited about the shopping trip that Joe had to send her back to bed three times on Friday night. She was almost jumping out of her skin Saturday morning as he made pancakes for her and Ben.
“Can I wear a tiara in the parade, like my Barbie doll? ” Ruby asked.
“Sure. If that’s what you want and we can find one. Remember, though, that you and Hannah need to complement each other in some way.”
They’d gone over the guidelines for the parade when they filled out their entrance form the previous night, but Ruby was caught up in the prospect of shopping to remember the rules.
“There’s no way Hannah‘s going to wear a tiara,” Ben said.
Ruby shot him a dirty look. “How would you know? She’s my friend, not yours. You hardly know her.”
Ben sq££zed a maple syrup onto his pancakes.
“I don’t need to know her. She rides a motor bike. There’s no way you’re going to get her to wear some silly tiara.”
Even though Joe privately agree with his son, he had the good sense not to say so aloud.
“I think we should wait until we see what we can find at the mall before we start worrying about stuff like that,” he said diplomatically.
“I’m going to wait out front for Hannah,” Ruby said, her chair legs scraping across the floor as she pushed her chair back.
It was still only a quarter to ten, but he figured there was no harm letting her wait outside. Kicking her heels for a few minutes might even calm her down a little.
He should have known better. He’d just finished rinsing the fry pan when Ruby [email protected] her way back into the house.
“Daddy, we’re ready to go now. Hurry up, slowpoke.”
He turned to find Ruby had dragged Hannah into the house behind her. His gaze ran over Hannah’s damp hair, pulled back into a ponytail.
“Ruby, I hope you didn’t hassle Hannah to come early, ” he said.
Ruby closed her eyes for a long blink before shaking her head, a sure sign. “No. Hannah was already up and dressed, weren’t you, Hannah?”
Hannah smiled. “Barely. But it’s okay, I’m ready to go now.”
Her gaze flicked around the kitchen, and he was immediately aware that the room needed to be painted.
“I guess we should go, then,” he said.
There was a moment of awkwardness as they sorted out the seating arrangements in the car.
Ruby automatically moved to one of the rear doors when they exited the house but Hannah quickly intervened.
“No, sweetie, you should sit up front with your dad.” she said.
“I don’t mind,” Ruby said. She slipped into the back of the car and buckled her seat belt.
Joe met Hannah’s eyes over the roof of the car for a brief second before she opened the front passengers door. He was acutely aware of her sitting beside him as he started the SUV and backed into the street. He could see her long, jeans clad legs out of the corner of his eyes, her hands resting on her thighs.
It was until they had entered the first clothing store that he realized how tense Hannah was. She was frowning as Ruby circled the racks pulling out frilly dress. Hannah‘s eyebrows rose when she saw how short the skirt was on one of the dresses and she flinched.
“Um. Is this the sort of thing you were thinking of?” Hannah asked.
“Yep,” Ruby said. She started walking towards the change rooms. “We have to hurry because we’ve only got three hours.”
Hannah closed her eyes for a second and he heard her say something under her breath. Then she followed Ruby to the change rooms.
“I’ll wait out front,” he said.
“No, Daddy, you have to stay with us. We need a boy’s opinion,” Ruby said bossily.
“I don’t know how much help I’ll be, Rubes. This isn’t my area of expertise.”
Hannah gave him a dark look.
He gave in partly because Ruby was watching him with big, expectant eyes and partly because he was curious to see what Hannah looked like in a miniskirt.
Spectacular. That was how she looked. Her legs were long with well defined muscles. Her waist was small. Her b0s0ms… Well, he’d already done his fair share of staring at them. She filled
out the mini-dress like a supermodel.
“I don’t think this one is a gore,” Hannah said.
She slipped back into the change room and whisked the curtain closed.
Ruby sighed. “All right then. But remember, we’ve only got three hours. Now get changed and we’ll go to Myer’s. They have lots of nice things.”
Ruby started gathering dresses at the speed of light when they hit the big department stores. Hannah accepted the hangers and disappeared into the change room with Ruby’s selections, he
caught his daughter’s elbow before she could follow Hannah inside.
“Rubes, wait a minute. I don’t think Hannah is very comfortable in the dresses you’re choosing for her”
“But she looks so good in them. She looks like a supermodel.”
“Yeah, but you’ve got to remember she’s used to wearing jeans and T shirts most of the time.
Ruby nodded. “Okay. If you think it will make her more comfortable.”
A martial light in her eyes, Ruby disappeared into the change rooms. A few seconds later, she reappeared with a pile of dresses in her arms.
Hannah trailed after her, looking both confused and relieved.
“You don’t want me to try them on anymore?”
“I’ve decided that maybe you should pick something. So I know what you like, maybe we should look at the trousers,” Ruby said.
Joe hung back for a moment, smiling at his daughter’s handling of the situation. Just before they disappeared amongst the clothing racks, Hannah glanced over her shoulder. For a second their gazes met and held. Then the moment was gone and he’d lost sight of her behind a display of coats.
Hands shoved into the back pockets of his jeans, he started following after them.
“What about these? You’d look great in these,” Ruby said.
Hannah surveyed the embroidery glittering jeans the girl was holding up. They were the kind of jeans Mariah Carey might wear, dripping with bling and s*x appeal.
Dear God. Was this morning never going to end? She felt as though she’d been ushered into her own version of hell.
“Wow. They’re great,” Hannah said.
She’d hesitated just a moment too long.
Ruby ‘s bottom lip pouted. “You don’t like them.” It wasn’t a question.
“But you do, sweetie, and I‘m happy to wear them if you love them,” Hannah said.
“No, you have to be comfortable. Come on, let’s look around some more.” Ruby said.
They found a navy linen trouser in the corner.
Hannah pulled them from the rack and considered them briefly before putting them back. They were way too plain for. Ruby‘s flamboyant taste.
Ruby stepped forward and took it off the rack.
“Let’s try it on,” she said.
Even Hannah was surprised by how good she looked and felt in the beautifully tailored [email protected]
They made her butt look high and firm. She stepped out of the changing room feeling good, a s£nsat!on that only intensified when she saw the look on Joe‘s face. His gaze went straight to her legs, lingered around her hips and thighs, then finally made it to her face.
“Okay?” She asked, smoothing a hand down her hip.
“Ah, yeah. You could say that.”
He could have just been polite, but she didn’t think so. There was something in his eyes as he looked at her, something dark and intense.
At last the trousers was given a thumbs up by all parties. They stepped into the children‘s department Ruby spotted a cute sailor dress in navy and white, complete with matching hat.
Another hour was spent looking for a shirt to complete Hannah‘s outfit, then matching shoes for both her and Ruby. They were ready to pay.
“This shopping business is exhausting,” she said to Joe aside as they were waiting to be served.
“Tell me about it. And she’s not even a teenager yet.”
His tone was wry but the expression on his face was indulgent. Hannah felt an old sq££ze in her chest as she looked at him.
They settled the cashier and left for home.
The day of the parade.
“Hannah, you need to sit still or I’ll never get this done.”
Joe hid a smile at the frustrated note in Robyn’s voice. She‘d volunteered to help both Hannah and Ruby with their hair for the fashion parade, but he figured she‘d planned on working on a serene, calm model and not the nervous, fidgety one in the chair.
“You’ve been at it for hours. Surely it’s done now? You didn’t spend this long on Ruby’s hair,” Hannah said.
“That’s because I didn’t move around so much,” Ruby said.
In the week since their shopping expedition, Ruby had disappeared before dinner most nights. Each time he‘d had to collect her from Hannah‘s.
“All right. That’s your hair done, Robyn announced.“ Thank God.
Hannah stood shaking her head as though she could shake off the last few minutes.
“Can we go now?”
“How about we start loading up the car? Joe suggested.
An hour later they arrived, Hannah and Ruby dashed to the ladies room for make-up.
Ben shuffled restlessly at Joe‘s side. “How long is this going to take? Do we have to stay for the whole thing?” Joe took pity on him and gave him some money to buy a drink and something to eat from the refreshments table at the rear of the school gym. When he turned back to the runway, he noticed Robyn was twisting and turning the bracelet on her wrist, her gaze darting back and forth between the clock on the wall and the door to the ladies room.
“They’re running late, aren’t they? She sounded worried.
“I‘m no expert, but am guessing with that many women and only a limited number of mirrors there’s a pileup.”
Robyn didn’t so much as crack a smile at his small joke.
“I hope everything goes okay. Hannah needs something to boost her confidence, she took such a blow when the wedding was called off… ”
Joe couldn‘t hide his surprise. “Hannah was engaged?”
Robyn bit her lip, obviously debating whether she should say more or not.
“It’s okay. I don’t want to pry,” even though he did. Big time.
“Oh, it’s not like it’s a state secret or anything.
Everyone knows. I guess that’s part of the problem. Lucas swept her off her feet, romanced her till she was so dizzy she didn’t know which way was up. She was so happy…. and then Kelley came and everything went bad from there.”
Joe wanted to ask who Kelly was, but he was afraid to interrupt Robyn‘s train of thought. Hannah’s mother shook her head as she remembered something.
“I should have seen it coming. I mean, Lucas and Kelly had so much more in common. They both worked in the IT industry, they shared so many opinions and dreams and ambitions. If only they had handled things better, told Hannah how they felt sooner rather than leaving it so late.” Robyn was tearing up.
He reached into his back pocket for the handkerchief he always carried.
“Thanks.” Robyn dabbed her cheeks.
Before he and Robyn could talk any further, music blasted out of the speakers and the lights dimmed.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen.
Promqueen Primary wants to thank you all for your time and for your generous donations tonight.
We’ve got lots of excited models backstage, so I‘m going to dive straight into things. We hope you enjoy our parade as much as we enjoyed putting this night together for you.”
She turned toward the stage, then consulted a sheet of paper in her hands.
“Our first models are Melinda and Liana. Let’s give them a big welcome.”
The crowd dutifully clapped as the first mother and daughter stepped onto the stage. Joe was too busy thinking about what he‘d just learned to pay attention as they walked to the top of the runway to pose and turn and pose some more while the MC described their outfits.
He could only imagine how humiliated Hannah must have felt to be rejected by her lover in favour of her younger friend. And from what Robyn had intimidated, the rejection had come late in the day. He stared blindly at the stage as he wondered how late? Had Hannah bought her dress? Chosen the menu for the reception? Booked the honeymoon? What kind of an a—–e would do that to a woman he‘d prepared to marry? What man could claim to have ever loved her, only to hurt her so badly? As for Hannah‘s friend …….
“Our next models are Hannah and Ruby. Don’t they look great?”
Joe lifted up his camera, yet could do nothing but stare. Something warm expanded in him as he stared at the woman holding his little girl‘s hand. She looked amazing. With her hair piled on top of her head and her eyes done in makeup, Hannah‘s beauty was undeniable.
The navy trousers clung to her long legs as she and Ruby began walking, the fine fabric of her sleeveless white blouse betraying the sway of her b0s0ms.
Realizing he had yet to take a single shot, Joe lifted the camera and hit the shutter button.
Hannah and Ruby got to the end of the runway and performed a little crossover he‘d seen them practicing the past week. Ruby stuck her left hip out and propped her left hand on it, then Hannah followed suit. Then, unexpectedly, they saluted one another with their right hands.
Joe was surprised into laughter, as was the rest of the audience. Then she and Ruby strutted their way back up the runaway, Ruby clearly having the time of her life. One last wave, and they disappeared behind the curtains.
The next mother and daughter stepped onto the stage. Joe consulted his program. There were twenty entries in all, and they weren’t even a quarter of the way through. He checked his watch, then made a decision. He leaned towards Robyn.
“I‘m going to go backstage and check on Ruby. If Ben comes back would you mind keeping an eye on him?”
He flashed her a grateful smile and angling his way through the audience towards the back of the hall. Ruby leaped out of her seat when she saw him and practically bounced into his arms.
“Did you see, did you see?”
“I did. You were wonderful, the stars of the show.”
One of the organizers stepped into the area.
“Ruby, we need you to come line up with the other students now.”
“Oh, okay. She turned to Joe, daddy take lots of pictures.
She ran off, curls bouncing. When he turned to talk to Hannah, her chair was empty. He frowned. Then he caught sight of her disappearing through a side door.
He followed her, finding himself in a dimly lit corridor.
“Hey. Wait up. Where are you going?” he asked when he reached her side.
“Outside. It’s too hot in there.”
She fanned her shirt and something sweet and spicy hit him. With her high heels they were eye to eye and his gaze was drawn to her mouth. She was wearing gloss and her lip looked very full and soft.
“Did you want something?”
“I just wanted to say thanks. You did a great job out there. Ruby loved every minute of it.”
She shrugged. “Honestly, it was no big deal. And it was fun.”
He felt her warm body so close to him.
“Hannah,” he said, but words failed him as he caught another waft of her perfume. Hot desire exploded in his belly and thighs and chest.
He crowded her against the wall, his body pressing against her, hip to hip, chest to chest, as his arms wrapped around her. He seized her lips with hunger. Her hands grabbed his shoulders as her tongue met his, stroking and challenging and tasting him. Her hips pressed forward and he could feel her breadth coming in fast [email protected]
He was so hard it hurt. He wanted anything, anywhere, as long as he could satisfy the need building in his body.
The door to the hall opened. Two women approached, talking and laughing. Joe jerked his hand from inside Hannah‘s skirt. They moved apart and she angled her body towards the wall as she fumbled with her shirt buttons.
Joe pasted on a polite smile and nodded as the women passed, aware he and Hannah probably looked as guilty as hell.
Before he could say anything, Hannah walked away, heading for the exit. He knew it was going to be a long time before he was able to forget the feel of her b0s0m in his hand and the sound of her breadth in his ear and the feel of her long, strong body against his.
The door swung shut, throwing him in darkness. After a long moment, he turned and walked
the other way.
…to be Continued.
(Your comment please…)
* Watch out for Episode 7…
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