Chapter 12: Late Night Visitor
The tapping sound of rain hitting the glass of her bedroom window was what awakened Jasmine at night, at least she thought it was the rain. When she blinked her eyelids open she realized she wasn't alone in her room. Usually late night visitors would startle her, but she'd grown used to Lucas lurking around at all hours of the day and night.
Sitting upright she stared at him from across the room. He was sitting at her desk, his eyes focused on the window as he mindlessly watched the rain falling from the sky. His features were relaxed, his gaze sleepy as he sagged a little in his seat. It was a little after midnight Jasmine noted as she eyed her alarm clock. What on earth was Lucas doing in her room this late?
The sound of Jasmine throwing back the sheets and getting out of bed seemed to startle Lucas. He immediately sat a little straighter and eyed her curiously. "Good evening, princess," he smirked, standing up.
"What are you doing in my room?" Jasmine questioned confused as she made up her bed and sat down on the neatly folded sheets. She wasn't sure why she felt compelled to make the bed. Maybe it was less intimate than lounging under the covers. Lucas joined her, occupying the space next to her and laid down, staring up at the ceiling. She watched him, a little uncertain, before following his example and lying back down. They both stayed silent, watching the ceiling like it was the most interesting sight they'd seen in a very long time.
Suddenly Lucas turned on his side and let his fingers caress the smooth skin of Jasmine's cheek. "You stood up for me earlier," he stated, seemingly shocked and taken aback. Jasmine didn't know whether he was speaking to her or to himself. "No one has done that in a very long time," he added, his voice soft and filled with confusion.
"Someone has to," Jasmine deadpanned, resting her hand on top of his and intertwining their fingers. "I believe in you," she added with a smile, knowing how much the words would mean to him. Lucas wasn't a lost cause, just a lost soul.
"When you left, my dad…he apologized for yelling at me," Lucas said, sounding shocked. "He always yells at me, but he's never apologized before." Jasmine smiled softly as she rolled to her side, facing Lucas. He was staring at her in wonder. The gratitude in his eyes should have surprised her, but it didn't. She knew he had a heart of gold hidden underneath all those locked doors.
"Frank means well, but he has trouble conveying a civil message. He doesn't know how to communicate with you, so he ends up screaming and shouting instead," Jasmine explained. It was no excuse, but deep down, Lucas should know his father only wanted him to be happy.
"You don't understand, princess. He has NEVER apologized to me – ever. Not even when things got seriously out of hand," Lucas clarified, his eyes wide with both shock and rage. He clearly held a grudge. Frank must have done something terribly wrong to get Lucas that riled up.
"What do you mean?" she asked, a little confused.
Lucas sighed deeply. "It doesn't matter," he eventually answered, sitting up and running his fingers through his messy hair. Jasmine's fingers itched to repeat the motion, but she kept her hands firmly to herself. She shouldn't be thinking about playing with Lucas' hair. It was beyond inappropriate.
"Want to watch a movie together?" Lucas suddenly asked, changing the subject completely. Not in the mood to argue because he was once again beating around the bush and hiding the truth, she nodded. To be honest, she was too tired to watch a movie and would probably fall asleep within minutes. For some reason, she just couldn't turn Lucas' offer down. It was the first time he ever willingly spend a large amount of time with her. Except for their night at the bar, which she had to practically beg him for, he usually disappeared after a few minutes.
"Sure," she replied, retaining a yawn as she settled herself against the headboard. Lucas stood up from the bed and turned on the TV. He picked a DVD from her collection and inserted it in the DVD-player. Seconds later the first commercials started before the main menu of the movie appeared on screen.
Lucas took a seat next to Jasmine on the bed, casually draping an arm around her shoulder as he hit 'play'. Without thinking, Jasmine nestled herself snuggly against Lucas' side. It all felt so natural. She hadn't even realized what she had done until she felt Lucas' arm wrap itself a little tighter around her frame. The little cocoon they had created made her feel safe and cherished, a feeling she hadn't experienced in a very – very – long time.
Part of her mind was screaming at her to create some space and set some boundaries where Lucas was concerned, the winning part of her brain just ignored the logic. Yes, Lucas had made a bunch of terrible mistakes in the past, but he wasn't a bad guy per se. She had been drawn to him from day one and was done fighting against the invisible pull between them. She wanted to be close to him, knowing full well what the risks of being friends with Lucas entailed.
He could easily ruin her, crush her already broken heart a little more, and tear it to pieces. Still, she refused to let him go. Lucas seemed to be the only one that could truly understand the depth of her pain. She still didn't know what happened to him, but believed that one day he would be ready to share his story with her.
As her eyes started to drift closed, she felt a feather light kiss being pressed against her temple before a blanket covered her skin. Sighing in contentment, she cuddled a little closer to the body next to her, its heat spreading through her veins before she fell into a dreamless slumber.
Birds were chirping outside, singing their own unique songs, as Jasmine regained consciousness the next morning. A little dazed, she stretched out her arm only to feel her heart sink when she was met with an empty space beside her. Blinking her eyes open she noted the other side of the bed was indeed vacant. The wrinkled sheets were the only indication Lucas had in fact slept next to her.
Sighing, she rolled onto the pillow he'd used, a waft of his spicy scent filled her nostrils. A lazy smile spread across her features as she hugged the pillow close to her body. Damn. She wished she could wake up to that smell every single morning. Her stomach tingled at the thought.
Horrified by her own line of thoughts, Jasmine sat up in the bed and dropped the pillow. Why did she keep lusting after Lucas? It was clear he was never going to be a one-woman kind of man and she sure as hell wasn't the type of person to have a fling. They could never be more than friends.
As she got out of bed, the door to her bathroom suddenly swung wide open, revealing Lucas dressed in nothing but a skimpy towel. Holy shit. That man had a body to die for. It was the first time she'd actually taken a good look at him when he was shirtless – saw the rippling muscles across his chest and the firmness of his perfectly sculptured abs. Swallowing thickly, she tried to stop gawking, her eyes almost bulging out of their sockets.
Droplets of water were running down his tanned skin, disappearing behind the towel that was wrapped safely around his hips. For a moment, Jasmine actually wished the skimpy piece of fabric would drop so she would get another peek at his package. "Enjoying the view, princess?" Lucas smirked as he ran his fingers through his damp hair. "I hope you don't mind I used your shower. I was too lazy to go to my own room."
He looked every bit like a male model straight out of a magazine. Jasmine could actually feel her panties soak a little as she watched Lucas. He was just standing there in the middle of the room, confidence radiating from his body. He didn't seem to mind one bit that she was shamelessly ogling him. Instead he seemed to rather enjoy himself, his trademark smirk right in place.
"I've seen better," she lied without blinking, actually faking a yawn. It would have been an award winning moment if Lucas hadn't burst into a fit of laughter.
"Please, like I would believe that," Lucas grinned, pleased with himself. "Have you seen this?" he retorted, pointing at his chest. Sweet lord, how could she not have seen? The man didn't need an extra boost of confidence to know he looked incredible. Every woman would kill to have a boyfriend that looked that luscious.
"Believe whatever you want," Jasmine replied weakly, her eyes still glued to his chest. None of the boyfriends she'd had in the past were muscled. They still had been boys seeking their way to adulthood. Lucas, on the other hand, looked every bit like a man, his shoulders broad and his eyes filled with maturity. He was everything Jasmine wanted, yet everything she despised.
How was it possible to create a man that had everything Jasmine looked for, yet mix it with the things she hated most. Lucas had a kind heart and a killer body. Sadly, he was also reckless, a smoker and a regular drug user. He had anger issues and had trouble binding himself to one person. All of those things should have scared her, made her run for the hills, yet she was still sitting there – staring at his impeccable body.
"We both know you want me, princess, don't bother denying it," Lucas whispered, slowly stepping closer to her, stalking her like a predator would stalk its prey. His eyes pierced hers as he came closer, the hunger and passion staring her right in the face. Her entire body started to shake, not from fear or distress, but purely out of anticipation.
Jasmine gasped aloud as Lucas cradled her face in his big hands and pulled her closer. "You want me," he told her softly, his voice dripping with sex. God, yes! No coherent words left her lips as she gripped Lucas' biceps firmly in her hands. She wanted to push him away from her, but instead kept him right in place.
"Admit it," he demanded, pressing his forehead against hers as he stared right into to the depth of her soul. She felt her walls crumble under his fierce stare, the hidden truth rising to the surface. Lucas had been able to read her body language from the beginning and she didn't doubt that he could see the truth now as well.
Jasmine trembled as his fingertips touched the seam of her lips, coaxing her to open up. She refused to give in and shut her eyes firmly closed. She could no longer bear to look him in the eye, afraid he might see just how much she actually wanted him.
"Never," Jasmine replied, blinking her eyes open. Lucas smirked, clearly expecting this answer.
"Should I prove you wrong?" he questioned, his eyes a dangerous color of midnight blue. The more she denied him, the more she seemed to allure him. Before she could come up with another remark, Lucas forcefully pressed his lips against hers and tangled his fingers through her ebony locks.
A gasp of surprise left Jasmine's lips, allowing Lucas' tongue to seek entrance. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as Lucas suddenly pushed her flat against the bed, their mouths still molded together in fierce kisses. She warred with herself to retain a moan. Much to her horror, it slipped out anyway once Lucas rubbed his erection against her inner thigh. Oh god. She must be cursed. There was no other explanation for having the man in her arms, the hottest man she had ever laid eyes on, be the worst man for her.
He kissed her so thoroughly, she was left breathless and unable to move once he finally pulled back. A content smile spread across Lucas' features as he glanced at Jasmine's kiss swollen lips. "I think I proved my point," he grinned, playfully nipping at her bottom lip.
"Jerk," she accused as she slapped his chest, her body limp as a noodle. Still she couldn't help but smile at him, her chest filled with contentment. He might be a jerk, but at least he was a jerk that knew how to properly leave a girl wanting more. This type of exchange was much better than their usual arguments.
"You could have taken the easy way out and just admitted you wanted me," Lucas told her with a sly smile.
"And miss out on a decent make-out session? I don't think so," Jasmine winked playfully, deciding she couldn't be mad at Lucas even if she wanted to be. He was way too charming for his own damn good.
"Decent?" Lucas repeated with a raised eyebrow as he stood up and fastened the towel that had sunk down dangerously low. "I think you meant to say 'outstanding', 'mind-blowing' or even 'best ever' make-out session."
Jasmine snorted and rolled her eyes. "Whatever helps you sleep at night," she grinned as she patted Lucas on the shoulder, trying to keep her eyes focused on his features.
"Do you need another sample?" Lucas asked, smiling wickedly.
"As much as I would love to give you a second chance at blowing my mind, I'm afraid I've got to get ready for school. So get your ass out of my room," she informed him, pointing at the door.
"If that's what you want," Lucas smirked before dropping the towel at his feet and walking out her door, stark naked. "Wouldn't want my mom to find out I used your bathroom," he threw over his shoulder as he closed the door. Jasmine stayed behind frozen to the ground, her mouth agape as she stared at the closed door. Damn. Guess you should be careful what you wish for.
Sighing, Jasmine put everything back in her backpack before leaving the classroom. She'd just endured an entire morning of the most boring classes possible and felt completely drained. How she wished she was still in bed – preferably with a shirtless Lucas beside her. Ugh. She needed to stop thinking about him!
Those lustful thoughts wouldn't do her sexual frustration any good. Certainly not, because she wasn't going to act on them. Lucas was bad news. Even considering anything but friendship with him was dangerous. He would suck her into his darkness, something she didn't need. She was still too unstable herself. How could she save him from himself when Jasmine herself was still fighting depression? Jasmine was resolute that friendship was all she could offer him and she hoped it was enough to permanently bring out the man with a good heart she had seen glimpses of.
The beeping sound of her cell phone caught her attention. She quickly looked through her backpack, finding the little device in the front of the bag. I want what rightfully belongs to me. The text read, making Jasmine's eyes widen. What the hell? Who was this? Still confused, she replied to the text message, asking who was contacting her. She hated these kind of pranks. They scared the crap out of her.
A little shaken, Jasmine headed to the cafeteria to find her friend. Lucy went on another date last night and still needed to spill the beans. Jasmine was beyond curious to know what Nathan had worked out this time. He'd gone way overboard during their first date and Jasmine sincerely hoped he didn't keep overwhelming Lucy like that. Throwing money and luxury in Lucy's face while she didn't have much of it herself might not have been his brightest idea.
"Hi," Jasmine greeted as she plopped herself down in the seat beside Lucy. Her friend immediately looked up, a bright smile lighting up her face. Lucy still looked every bit the 'in love' teenage girl she was. To Jasmine, it was a strange concept. She honestly couldn't understand how someone could be that totally blinded by love, nothing seemed to phase her. Lucy always seemed to be giddy since starting to date Nathan.
"Hello," Lucy replied as she put down her drink. "How has your day been?" she questioned curiously.
"Boring so far," Jasmine sighed, sagging back in her seat. She decided to keep the weird text message to herself. No point in ruining Lucy's good mood. "I could barely keep my eyes open during Mr. James' class. Fortunately, my afternoon schedule looks a bit more interesting."
"So…I still have to tell you about my date," Lucy started, her smile spreading from ear to ear. There was no doubt it had been a pretty terrific date, seeing as Lucy couldn't seem to hide her enthusiasm.
"How did it go?" Jasmine asked, trying to muster as much excitement as possible. She was happy for her friend and didn't want to spoil Lucy's happiness, but Jasmine just wasn't the kind of girl that liked to talk about boys. During the past months Jasmine had to grow up quickly. Talking about common teenage stuff just wasn't her cup of tea.
"It went great," Lucy grinned, barely able to contain her excitement. "We went to his grandparents' lake house and had the most romantic dinner. Candles included! After dinner we went for a walk outside and he told me stories about his youth. It was so perfect, Jas. I can't even explain it properly."
Jasmine smiled and nodded. To be honest, she didn't even know the Wood's owned a lake house. Gabriella had never told her anything about it. "Did he say anything about Lucas?" she wondered curiously, hoping to win some new information.
"Not really. He mentioned him once or twice during his stories, I think, nothing interesting though. Why?" Lucy asked, seeming a little confused Jasmine would ask about the elder Wood brother.
"Just curious. No one ever seems to talk about their past," Jasmine replied with a shrug, praying to god it wasn't obvious she had developed a liking towards Lucas. Everyone viewed Lucas as the eternal bad boy. They wouldn't understand why Jasmine liked him so much. He kept his good side hidden to the outside world and only she seemed to be privileged to see it.
"It's weird. When Nate talks about his past, he kind of skips the parts that involve Lucas. He seems to hold a grudge against him for some unknown reason," Lucy stated, her brows knitted together in confusion.
Jasmine knew the reason why Nathan hated Lucas so much, but she wasn't about to tell Lucy. It was Nathan's story to tell. If he wanted to share that piece of information with Lucy, he would.
"I'm sure when Nate is ready, he will tell you about his issues with Lucas. I guess everyone has their secrets," Jasmine assured her friend.
If only Lucas would tell her about his issues. It was obvious something happened around his seventeenth birthday that made him angry at the world. He started acting like a complete and utter jerk, seeming to not care about anything. Jasmine knew better. She knew he did care, even though he tried to hide it.
Lucas had a great poker face and excellent defense mechanisms, but if you looked closely enough you could catch a glimpse of the boy he used to be. Somehow Jasmine seemed to have broken through a few of his thick walls of protection. He was still far from ready, but at least she'd succeeded in tearing him partway down piece by piece. She had a long way to go before completely uncovering Lucas, yet she believed he was worth the hard work and time.
"Yeah, I guess I haven't told him everything yet either. I mean, he knows about our money issues, but he has no idea that I actually grew up with my aunt instead of my mom," Lucy answered, nodding in agreement. "I've just never found the right moment to tell him about my family history."
"How's your mom doing, by the way?" Jasmine asked. She hadn't seen Helene, Lucy's mom, since the Thanksgiving dinner at the Wood mansion. Lucy had asked her a few times to come over, but she'd been so busy with school work she still hadn't visited.
"She's great actually. I think she has a secret lover or something. She's been extremely happy lately – too happy. It's obvious there's something going on I don't know about, I'm just not sure what it is yet. Honestly, I'm hoping she's this giddy about a man. She deserves some romance after everything she's been through," Lucy explained.
"Did she always stay single after your 'sperm donor' left her?" Jasmine asked. She knew Lucy's father had broken up with her mom when he found out about the pregnancy. Being a teen mom and all, it surely must have been difficult to find someone willing to be in a relationship.
"As far as I know she never had any serious relationships. Maybe a fling or romantic encounter, but I never met someone she was involved with. I remember Aunt Leila telling me my mom went on a date when I was little, but I guess she never went on a second one. She was so very protective of me. No guy would fit the bill as long as he didn't irrevocably love and cherish me as a daughter of his own. I guess my mom never did find that kind of person," Lucy expounded, clearly saddened by her own speech.
"She's the best mother a child can possible wish for. I've always felt loved and wanted, even when I'm the reason my mom had to give up her own childhood. I know she wouldn't change a thing, not even if it meant having a more normal life. She's so incredibly selfless. I wish everyone could have a mom like mine," she added, her voice filled with love and devotion. It was clear Helene was a remarkable person.
"I never knew my mom," Jasmine confessed, a single tear sliding down her cheek as she locked her fingers around the key-shaped locket between the hollow of her breasts. It hurt saying those words out loud, cut open the wounds she carried, but she knew Lucy had been patiently awaiting the moment Jasmine would finally open up. Her friend deserved to get a piece of the truth.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry, Jas," Lucy exclaimed, wrapping an arm around Jasmine's middle. "I had no idea."
"Both my parents died in a car accident when I was still a baby. I don't remember either of them. Of course I don't… it's so damn frustrating, you know? I want to remember them, but I know it's impossible. The only memory of them I have left are some old picture frames my grandma kept hidden in a jewelry box."
An ugly sob left Jasmine's lips, no matter how hard she tried to contain it. Not able to handle the pain that sliced straight through her heart, she stood up from the table and ran outside.
She ran and ran. Ran until her legs finally gave out and she fell down in a heap against the muddy ground. Tears kept streaming down her cheeks as she cried a waterfall. Pouring out all the pain and frustrations she carried. She cried for the parents she never knew, the grandma she lost and the life she forgot to live.
Jasmine desperately wanted to move on, but somehow always kept herself back. She was trying so damn hard not to let the past influence her future, but it was impossible. Lucky as she was, she'd been welcomed into a loving family. They gave her a new home and a possible bright future. She'd met a great friend she would always be able to count on. Yet, Jasmine still couldn't move forward.
Dark thoughts kept haunting her, day and night. The only few moments she felt relaxed and forgot about the past were the moments Lucas forced her to be herself. He didn't believe her false bravado, saw right through the façade. Instead of letting her be and take pity on her like everyone else did, he challenged her. Most of the time it annoyed the hell out of her, but in the end, he was the only one to make her walls crumble.
"Are you okay, Jasmine?" Lucy asked worriedly as she crouched down next to Jasmine and put an arm around her frame. "Of course, you're not," the girl answered her own question as she soothingly rubbed Jasmine's back. "Just let it all out," she advised, breaking through Jasmine's final defensive wall. More ugly sobs echoed through the air until Jasmine could no longer produce any sounds.
Broken. Shattered to the bone. She sat there, staring at the cloudy sky, praying that one day the pain would go away.