Delicate Hearts

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Chapter 11: Intervention

A pile of homework was spread across Jasmine's desk as she stepped into her room after taking a quick shower. School had been driving her nuts, the heap of work only increasing with every class she attended. The teachers seriously didn't have any mercy with their students and their lack of free time.

She'd just opened her Chemistry textbook when her cell phone started ringing. Cursing, she searched for the device, finally spotting it between her school diary and History paper. Ugh. Her sloppiness was turning into a problem. She couldn't find anything in the unorganized mess across her room.

"Jasmine Price speaking," she answered without looking at the caller ID as she tried to tidy up the clutter she made on her desk. Her grandmother would have gone ballistic if she saw Jasmine's room. Theresa was known to be a neat freak. She liked to have every element of her life tidy and in order.

"Jas, it's me! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" she heard Lucy scream from the other side of the line. Jasmine quickly put some space between the phone and her ear to avoid damage to her hearing, and waited for Lucy to calm down. Clearly something exciting happened to get Lucy that riled up.

"Yes?" Jasmine asked as her friend finally shut up after a good 40 seconds of squealing and blabbering. Honestly, she had never heard Lucy going crazy like that.

"I went on a date with Nate!" the redhead cried out before she started mumbling another series of 'Oh my gosh' and 'Holy shit'.

"That's great!" Jasmine replied, smiling to herself. The crush Lucy had developed for Nathan had only grown stronger the more time she spent with him. Her cheeks always flushed bright red when he was around and a shy smile took place across her face. Jasmine was usually allergic to that kind of puppy love, but somehow Lucy made it look cute.

"During Thanksgiving he asked me out, but I never expected him to actually follow through. I mean…he has dozens of girls begging for his attention. I could never stand out amongst them. I'm just…me," Lucy explained, seeming uncertain and confused.

"Please, Luce, you outshine every one of them. You're beautiful, kindhearted and honest to the bone. You've got spunk and a strong personality. None of those bimbo's could take you on, you'd beat them before they had the time to count to three. Nothing is more alluring than a beauty with brains," she retorted, not liking how her friend was talking herself down.

"I don't know, Jas. They're pretty intimidating," Lucy replied somberly. Years of being bullied had ruined her self-esteem completely.

"They're only intimidating if you let them. Anyway, a happier subject, how did the date go?" Jasmine interrupted, changing the topic of their conversation. Moments ago Lucy had seemed exhilarated, but her excitement was quickly ebbing away by talking about her competitors.

"It was great, perfect even," Lucy exclaimed, happiness detectable in her voice again. All thoughts about the girls Nathan usually hangs out with seemed to have magically disappeared from her mind by talking about her date. "I still can't believe he's such a romantic. Honestly, I didn't know what I was expecting, but this was certainly not it!"

"Where did he take you?" Jasmine asked curiously. Nathan never really seemed like a romantic guy that would wine and dine his love interests, but apparently Jasmine had been wrong about him. It seemed like he genuinely surprised Lucy.

"You won't even believe it if I tell you," Lucy stated, her voice soft as she remembered her night. She seemed to be totally blown away. Jasmine didn't think she'd ever heard her friend that dreamy and joyful.

"Tell me anyway," she urged, growing slightly impatient. Jasmine was not known to be a calm and patient person. It unnerved her when people didn't get straight to the point, but kept beating around the bush.

"After he picked me up at home, he drove us straight to a small marina that was located about half an hour from the city. We walked hand in hand along the water while he told me stories about the different ships. It was so romantic, you can't even imagine. Then, when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better, he led me to a yacht at the end of the marina and told me we were going for a trip. Honestly, I think I gaped at him like he'd grown a second head. Seriously, I'd never been on a small boat in my life, let alone a freaking yacht!" Lucy cried out, still shocked.

"When we finally boarded after I almost had a panic attack, there was a small picnic basket sitting on top of a checkered cloth on the deck. Nate seriously went all out to arrange the most perfect date. It was without doubt the best meal I've ever tasted. There were shrimps, oysters, lobster, French pastries, chocolate, etc. I can't even remember all the different kinds of food," she explained, talking louder and louder with every sentence – the excitement getting the best of her.

"Jas, I don't think I've ever felt so special. It was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me," Lucy ended, awestruck, seeming to be overwhelmed by the many emotions that circulated through her body.

For a moment, Jasmine was left utterly speechless. She could barely believe Nathan would arrange something that thoughtful and sweet. He hadn't just surprised her, he'd knocked off her socks. Until that very moment, she had been doubting Nathan's seriousness about his relationship with Lucy. It was obvious he fancied her, but Jasmine hadn't thought he was that head over heels.

"Wow," she finally uttered once coherent thoughts returned to her mind. "That's some gesture. I didn't think he had it in him," Jasmine admitted truthfully.

"Believe me, me neither. I'm still in shock. How did I get this lucky?" Lucy answered.

"By staying true to yourself," Jasmine told her with a smile across her face. She was genuinely happy for her friend. Lucy deserved some fortune and happiness.

"Shit! Shit! Shit!" Jasmine repeated over and over again as she took a peak at the clock on top of her bedside table which now read ten past eight. She'd slept through her alarm! How was it possible she overslept on the most important day of the week – the day she would get a chemistry test during first period. Unbelievable.

Cursing some more, she quickly threw the covers from her body and jumped out of bed. Her feet touched the cold tiles as she ran to the bathroom, making her shiver slightly. As fast as humanly possible, she brushed her teeth while mentally going over everything she still had to do. Brush her hair, put some fresh clothes on, spray some deodorant, get her lunch from the kitchen table and put the correct books in her bag.

It would take a miracle to get everything done in time. Sighing in frustration, Jasmine almost dropped her toothbrush when someone called her name from the hallway. Shit. Today was going to be hell. "Jas, are you awake yet?" Nathan questioned, tapping on her door as he passed by.

"I'm running late," she replied as she unsuccessfully tried to button her pants. Her hands were trembling with nerves. She could not afford to miss the test, it would be the end for her terrific GPA. She'd been doing well in all her classes except for Chemistry. The assignment she made with Lucy had boosted her score, but it was still too low for her own good.

"I'll drive you so you can eat your apple in the car. Do I need to grab your lunch and put it in your bag?" Nathan asked cheerfully, apparently in a helpful mood. She thanked him as she tried to brush the knots out of her hair, her hairbrush getting stuck several times. Ugh. Sometimes she really did hate her long ebony locks.

Two minutes later she finally arrived downstairs, her heart hammering in her chest as she took another peak at her watch. "Here, I put everything inside," Nathan said as he handed her the bag. She smiled gratefully as they headed to the garage. He was a lifesaver. Truly. She would have been lost without him.

"So, I heard from a little birdie that you went on a date last night," Jasmine teased as she stepped inside the vehicle and put her seatbelt on. Maybe talking about Lucy would take her mind of that chemistry test that was lurking around the corner.

Nathan snorted and let out a deep laugh, his dimples showing. "I should've known she couldn't keep her mouth shut," he grinned, referring to Lucy. "Yes, I had a pretty awesome date last night." A wide smile crossed his features as he admitted this.

Jasmine smiled in return as she noticed the excitement in Nathan's eyes. He was clearly just as elated after the date as Lucy had been. It was almost too cute. Seeing them fall in love and start a steady relationship would be a joy to watch. Jasmine didn't believe in true love, but seeing her friends take a shot at having their happy ending was nice. Herself, she probably wouldn't have the courage to pursue a relationship. She was too afraid of getting hurt and losing another loved one.

"How on earth did you prepare all of that on your own? I was perplexed when Lucy told me all about the marina," she confessed, curious to know the lengths Nathan had gone to make Lucy happy.

"A friend of mine is the owner of the yacht we took a trip on – well, his parents are. I asked him if I could lent it for an evening. He helped me prepare most of the date together with his sister. She was ecstatic when she found out I was the one arranging a date," Nathan admitted. "Shirley and I used to be great friends in elementary school, but we kind of lost contact when we went to different high schools."

"Interesting. I had no idea the great Nathan Wood could be friends with a girl without needing benefits," Jasmine winked, hitting a nerve. It was no secret Nathan was a player – or used to be.

"See, I'm clearly not as bad as you think," he winked back as he halted at a traffic light. They were two minutes away from school. If they were lucky, they would make it just in time before the bell rang.

"No, you're worse," Jasmine retorted with a smile. Honestly, she hoped she could trust Nathan to stay faithful to Lucy. Nothing would make her happier than seeing her friend smile like the first time Nathan said something to the lovesick girl. Lucy had been both shocked and overwhelmed with joy.

"I'm feeling not the love, Jazzy," Nathan fired back, intentionally using the pet name she hated. The little jerk he was!

"I'm going to find out the nickname your parents used when you were little," she told him with conviction.

A loud rumble of laughter erupted from deep within Nathan's chest as he nodded. "You do that, Jazzy, you do that," he grinned before parking the car in its usual spot. Dread filled Jasmine again now that they'd arrived at school. She had a feeling this was going to be a bad day.

Lunch break had already started, when Jasmine finally entered the cafeteria. She had been obligated to stay a few extra minutes in class after the bell rang to finish her history assignment. Only three students – the brown nosers – had been able to finish their task before the class ended. Fortunately the teacher had been kind enough to give everyone extra time if needed.

"My head feels like it's going to explode at any given moment," Jasmine sighed as she plopped down on the seat next to Lucy. Her friend smiled and nodded in understanding.

"Don't worry. I feel just as bad. Mr. Harrison was trying to kill us with boredom during class. Seriously, I feel like I've been at school for days instead of hours," Lucy claimed before taking another bite of her sandwich.

"I know how you feel," Jasmine agreed as she took her lunch out of her bag. It had only taken a week for her to decided whatever Grace prepared tasted ten times better than the food the cafeteria offered. Most of the stuff tasted like garbage, with the exception of the fruit which miraculously was fresh. It must be a strategic move of the school to get students to eat healthy food.

Just when Jasmine went to take a bite of her lunch, she noticed Lucy's face had turned pale as a ghost. "What's wrong?" she questioned confused as she followed Lucy's gaze. Kelsey Montgomery was storming in their direction, a livid look across her features as she came closer to their table. Uh-Oh, Jasmine thought as she noticed the fierce steps and fast pace. Someone was in a bad mood.

"You!" the blonde Barbie cried out as she halted at their table, pointing a finger at Lucy's chest. "Stay the hell away from my man, you little wench!"

"Don't get all work up over nothing, Kels. Seriously, look at her. How pathetic. Nate probably just took her on a date out of pity," blonde Barbie number two said as she came to stand next to a furious looking Kelsey.

"You know she's right, Kels," number three said, suddenly appearing out of nowhere. They seemed to be multiplying. "Nate would never toss you aside for scum. I think I heard someone say the girl lives in the suburbs," she added, looking absolutely horrified as she pronounced the word slowly.

Jasmine rolled her eyes, having heard enough of the three musketeers and stood was shaking beside her, her face a few shades paler if that was even possible. "Would you Barbie dolls – please – go back to your own table? Some people actually have a lunch to eat and enjoy eating real food instead of carrots," she exclaimed, her voice slightly raised as she dismissively shooed them away with her hand.

"Excuse me?" Kelsey cried out, clearly affronted. "Who the hell do you think you're talking to?" Blonde number two and three's eyes widened in shock as they stared at Jasmine with their mouths slightly agape. Clearly no one ever put Kelsey in her place.

"A brainless Barbie who needs little puppets to feel confident," Jasmine replied without blinking an eyelash. "What's wrong, Kelsey? Feeling used after opening your legs countless times for a guy who doesn't even bother to take you out on a date?" she added, pouring salt in the wound. It never hurt to know someone's soft spot.

Kelsey's mouth fell wide open as she stared at Jasmine in shock while people started to whistle at the tables that surrounded them. A crowd had gathered, hanging on to every word to gossip about later. "What did you just say?" she asked in disbelief, shaking her head.

"You heard me. What's wrong? Can't your brain process a full sentence? Should I repeat myself?" Jasmine taunted, done with letting Kelsey play queen bee of their school. Lucy didn't deserve such harsh treatment.

"You are going to regret ever talking to me," the blonde stated, her eyes spitting fire as she looked Jasmine straight in the eye. Jasmine didn't cower and smiled when Kelsey glared at her, her two minions copying her look.

"The only thing I regret is not putting you in your place sooner. Just because you have money, fake blonde hair and a bad nose job, you're not suddenly better than everybody else," Jasmine informed her, her grin stretching from ear to ear when a round of applause echoed through the lunch room.

"What's going on here?" Nathan asked in confusion as he joined their table. Jasmine sent Lucy a wink as she squeezed her friend's shoulder.

"Nothing at all, isn't that right, Kels?" Jasmine smirked, thoroughly enjoying tempting the blonde Barbie. She wasn't afraid of stuck up bitches. People like Kelsey Montgomery didn't intimidate Jasmine in the least. Moody bikers? That's another story.

'I'll make you pay,' Kelsey mouthed to Jasmine before turning around and walking straight to the exit of the cafeteria, her minions by her side. For some reason they reminded her of the 'Plastics' in that 'Mean Girls' movie with Lindsay Lohan.

"What was that all about?" Nathan asked, still confused as he draped his arm across Lucy's shoulders and pulled her into his side.

"She was just staking her claim," Lucy explained as she rested her head on top of Nathan's shoulder and wrapped her arms around his middle, looking content despite that horrible scene.

"Don't mind her. She'll get the memo," Nathan reassured Lucy as he placed a feather light kiss on her temple. Jasmine had to refrain from mumbling a series of 'awe's. They looked absolutely adorable together.

If she didn't know any better, Jasmine would have thought the two of them had been together for ages. They seemed entirely comfortable around each other, all their worries disappearing when they were together. Who knows? Maybe love does exist after all.

Beyond exhausted and with a headache coming on, Jasmine arrived home after a long and dreadful day at school. After her confrontation with the queen bitch she hadn't seen or heard a word from Kelsey, which to be honest was a huge relief. She didn't feel like starting another bitch fight. Which undoubtedly would have happened if the two of them had run in to each other. It was inevitable.

As she dropped her keys on the cupboard, the loud screaming of voices caught her immediate attention. It was only four o'clock in the afternoon. Usually she was the first one to enter the home during the week. Nathan always had football practice until five, Lucas' final class ended at four. Gabriella and Frank never arrived home before seven, with the exception of the few days Gabriella decided to finish early to observe her kids and make sure Lucas wasn't acting out.

Shaking her head in confusion, Jasmine walked in the direction of the noise, startled when she suddenly recognized Frank's furious voice. "How dare you, you little punk? Show me some goddamned respect!" he cried out, his voice low and laced with venom. A shiver went through Jasmine at the cold sound.

"I'm not going to those fucking therapy sessions. I'm not a fucking lunatic," Lucas fired back just as loudly, the sound echoing through the entire house. Jasmine didn't mean to eavesdrop, but once she started, she couldn't help but keep listening. She'd never witnessed a single fight between just the two of them without an audience.

"You think you're so smart, huh? Wake up, Lucas! You're ruining your goddamned life. If you don't show up at your session with Dr. Jones tomorrow, I'll take away your college fund. Let's see how long you'll survive without money. You can forget becoming a freaking accountant!" Frank retorted.

Not able to listen to their nonsense any longer, Jasmine stepped inside the room and made her presence known by coughing rather loudly. She was done listening to Frank talking down to his son and to Lucas tormenting his father. Instead of letting their anger rule, they should put effort into recovering their relationship.

"Do you honestly believe it's a smart move to take away the one positive thing in Lucas' life?" she rhetorically asked as she eyed Frank, her stance proud. Just the same as Lucas, she wasn't intimidated by his angry look. Frank wasn't the type of person that would ever intentionally hurt someone – at least Jasmine didn't think he would.

"Princess, stay out of this," Lucas growled, but Jasmine simply ignored him and went on with her speech.

"I completely understand your anger and disappointment, but please think about what I said before making a final decision. It may seem like taking away Lucas' money is a good idea, but what are you going to do when he goes off in the deep end and decides to give up on school altogether? Is that truly the future you want for your eldest son?" she questioned, raising an eyebrow.

Jasmine knew she'd hit a nerve when Frank's snarl turned into a grimace. Realization of what he'd just said dawned on him as shame covered his face. "I wasn't planning on meddling, but I thought you might want to hear my opinion after you just threatened to take away Lucas' one chance of making something out of his life," she ended, smiling softly at Lucas before turning around and ascending the stairs.

In normal circumstances, Jasmine believed people should mind their own business, but sometimes there was a time for exceptions. Today called for one of them. Without her intervention Frank would have gladly went through with his plan, leaving Lucas to struggle on his own. Someone needed to stand up and defend him. Seeing no one else would, Jasmine had made it her goal to get Lucas back on the right track. Everyone had given up on him except for her.

It was sad, really. Isolating yourself until even your own parents didn't believe you could find your way out of the mess you made. It broke Jasmine's heart.

As she entered her room, Jasmine threw on a pair of pajamas and started her homework. It had been a tiresome day. She couldn't wait to finally crawl under her satin sheets, close her eyes and fall into a peaceful slumber.

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