Delicate Hearts

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Chapter 20: Discovering Secrets

Gabriella decided to ground the three of them for two weeks after the fiasco that was supposed to be the party of the year. Jasmine couldn't say she minded that much. She could still invite Lucy over, which was a huge relief. After what happened at the party, Lucy crawled back into her shell and started to push people away. The girl felt horrible after her reckless behavior and blamed herself for what happened.

Nothing Jasmine or Nathan told her made her change her mind. Lucy was convinced she was the reason Cedric forced himself on her. It was absolutely ridiculous. Jasmine had done everything she possibly could to change the girl's views, but her effort turned out to be futile.

Stepping outside in the cold January air, Jasmine made her way to her car. School had just ended and she couldn't wait to drop her ass on the couch and watch a few good TV-shows. It had been a long and tiresome day.

Arriving in the parking lot she noticed a tall man standing in front of her car, leaning against the hood. Jasmine's eyes widened a little as her heartbeat sped up, warning bells going off in her head. It could be a coincidence he was standing next to her car. Still, she felt a little nervous. As she walked closer, she could properly see how big the man actually was, his muscles bulging under the black coat he was wearing. He looked scary to say the least.

"Holy shit," she mumbled under her breath as she halted a few cars away from hers. The man's eyes were focused on her, his lips twitching as he noticed she stopped moving. Pushing away from her car, the man started walking in her direction. Jasmine unconsciously took a few steps back.

"Jasmine Price," the man stated, his voice lacking any politeness. His eyes were deadly cold as he watched her, his hands hidden in his pockets. Jasmine's eyes widened, blood rushing through her veins as her breath hitched. How did he know her name? What did he want from her?

"Who's asking?" she eventually replied, deciding she needed to figure out who he was first.

"Doesn't matter," the bulky guy told her, taking another step closer. Jasmine's hands started to shake as she slowly took a step back, her legs almost giving out.

"What do you want?" she gritted out through clenched teeth, her lips quivering. Fear gripped her heart in a tight squeeze, shooting adrenaline through her entire body. Something was epically wrong. The notes, phone call,… it all finally started to add up. It wasn't a prank from one of her silly classmates, it was a serious threat. She should've mentioned what was going on to Lucas. What if the man wanted to kidnap her? No one would know where to start looking.

"Money," the man answered evenly, his fierce stare still focused on her face. Jasmine shivered at his cold tone.

"Money?" she asked confused, her brows drawn together. Why would someone ask for money from a teenager? The guy must know she didn't have much of it. The trust fund her grandmother left her was a nice sum of money for a rainy day, but not even close to a fortune.

"And payback," he added grimly, a dangerous smile making its way across his lips. "Preferably both," the guy stated after a long silence, taking a few steps closer until he was only inches away from her. Jasmine stayed frozen in place, afraid to make any movements. Holy shit. What did she get herself into?

"Why? Why me?" Jasmine questioned, beyond confused and terrified. As far as she knew, she'd never done anything wrong, at least nothing big that would attract bad people and hulky messengers.

"Your parents owe my boss money. Big money. Seeing as you're their only relative, you're our only means of getting what rightfully belongs to us. You got seven days to collect 50K. If you fail in paying us by the end of this week there will be consequences. And honey? With consequences I don't mean paying interest," the man smirked.

"This is my number. Only use it to tell me when and where I can collect the money. I don't care if you can't get the money in time. You get one week, sunshine," he grinned as he dropped a card in her hand before turning around and heading to a black SUV without a license plate.

Jasmine stayed behind petrified, her hands trembling and her heart racing. A shaky breath left her lips once the man drove away. She couldn't remember a time she'd felt as terrified. Jasmine was a strong person and didn't often feel fear, but in that moment she'd felt absolutely petrified she was going to die. Realization dawned on her that she no longer wanted to be reunited with her deceased family members. One day her time would come, but she'd recovered her strength and reason to live. There were people that counted on her, that needed her.

The thought should've terrified her, but it didn't. Instead she felt relief that she was no longer alone. She mattered, people cared about her. After feeling useless and lonely for months, it was a damn nice feeling to be needed. Yes, she was still afraid to lose the people she grew to care about, but she would cherish every moment she spent with them.

Her fear ebbing away and anger returning in its place, Jasmine finally moved from her spot and made her way to the car. She needed to get to Lucas as soon as she could. He would know what to do with the threats and find a way to protect her ass. She knew he would do just about anything to keep her safe. Lucas might not have spoken the three little words, but Jasmine knew he had feelings for her. And Lucas was protective of those he loved.

Driving home, Jasmine's thoughts kept wandering off to the man in black. He looked like he came straight out of an action movie. Was he a gangster? And if he was, what on earth did her parents do wrong? Why would they owe money to bad people? And why come after it all these years later? Jasmine never knew they had any financial trouble. Her grandma didn't talk about it.

Sighing loudly, she brushed a few loosened strands of hair back behind her ear. As she arrived home, she quickly made her way to Lucas' room, not even bothering to take off her coat or shoes. Without knocking, she burst into Lucas' room, only to find it empty. He was still at school. Damn.

Deciding she couldn't do this without him, Jasmine closed the door and let herself fall backward on top of Lucas' bed. She'd have to wait until he arrived home, which hopefully would be sooner rather than later.

A feather light touch across her cheek awakened Jasmine. Soon, she realized it was Lucas' fingertips running across her skin, leaving a lingering tingle in its wake. Yawning, she slowly blinked her eyelids open, covering her eyes when light hit her sensitive corneas. As she awoke fully, she noticed the lazy smile across Lucas' face as he stared at her, his hand on her hip.

"Hi," Jasmine mumbled softly, still groggy.

"Hi," Lucas grinned, placing a soft peck against her lips. Jasmine smiled at him, curling into his body as he moved a little closer.

"What are you doing here?" Lucas asked after a moment of silence, his fingers playing with the ends of her hair.

At his question Jasmine's body tensed, memories of what happened earlier that day resurfacing. Lucas immediately felt the change, his eyebrows raised as he watched her in confusion and concern. "What's wrong?" he questioned, his voice strained.

Jasmine avoided his gaze and played with her necklace as she sought the right words to explain everything that happened. "It's a long story," she eventually replied, her hands shaking slightly as she remembered the cold stare of the hulky man that waylaid her at her car.

"We have lots of time," Lucas retorted, his index finger tipping her chin up so she was obliged to look him in the eye.

Jasmine sighed, nervously running her fingers through her ebony locks as she tried to control her racing heart. "A few weeks ago I received a weird text saying 'I want what rightfully belongs to me'. I thought it was a stupid prank from one of my classmates so I ignored it. Sadly, that just was the beginning. Later I received a package containing yet another note. That one said 'I'm closer than you think'. Still thinking someone from school was messing with me, I ignored that sign as well as the phone call that followed. No one said anything."

Lucas looked at her weirdly, his face wiped of any emotion. It was scary. Jasmine had seen many of his masks, but this one was new. "And?" Lucas pressed, his tone was deadly cold, his eyes blank.

"It wasn't a prank from someone at school. In fact, it wasn't a prank at all. When I arrived in the parking lot after my final period ended, there was a man waiting for me at my car," Jasmine confessed, her breath hitching at the end of her sentence. Fear squeezed her throat shut, making it difficult to catch her next breath.

Lucas growled lowly, his hands balling to fists as he tried to control his anger. "Did he hurt you?" he asked, his eyes wide with both worry and fury. It was clear he was trying to stay calm while he actually desperately wanted to punch something.

Jasmine shook her head. "He didn't, just scared me is all," she replied softly, turning her head to the side to look away.

"What did he want?" Lucas questioned, still struggling to control the beast inside of him. His posture was tense, his eyes wide as the ocean. Jasmine tried to calm him by running her fingertips up and down his arm, to no avail.

"Money," Jasmine said before explaining, "Apparently my parents owed some people money when they died. Since I'm their only remaining relative, they're threatening me in order to get what they want. They probably figured out I'm turning eighteen in a few months and want the money from my trust fund. The problem is I don't have that kind of money. Not now and not when I get the money from my trust. My grandma wasn't poor, but she didn't leave me a lot either. The trust fund my parents left me I can't access until I'm married or turn thirty."

"I'll pay them off," Lucas stated, his voice dangerously firm.

"No. No way. It's my problem to deal with. It's my parents who owe someone money," Jasmine returned just as firmly. She went to Lucas for help with protection not to fix everything for her. She wasn't about to accept any more money from the Wood family. They'd done enough, taking her into their home and caring for her. Maybe she could sell her car? It must be worth a fortune and could probably pay off the debt her parents made.

"Princess, don't turn down my offer. You need that money. We both know my parents are loaded. They can afford to lose some money," Lucas fired back, his voice raised.

"You don't even know how much I need," Jasmine replied, shaking her head. It was a generous offer, but one she had to refuse.

"I don't care how much you need. I'd gladly spent every single penny of my trust fund on you if it meant keeping you safe," Lucas told her, his hand wrapping around her neck as he pulled her face close to his and rested his head against hers.

"Luke, I appreciate you wanting to do this, but I won't accept your money. You should use it to buy a house one day," Jasmine replied, sighing inaudibly.

"I'd rather be homeless than spend a day without you, princess," Lucas mumbled softly, his words shooting straight to Jasmine's heart. If she ever doubted her feelings before, she now certainly knew she'd fallen head over heels in love with Lucas. The strong emotions scared her and she was more afraid than ever of losing him, but she could no longer deny how she felt. Lucas crushed her defensive walls and found his way to her heart.

"Lucas," she whimpered softly, tears pricking at her eyes as she stared at him in awe.

"I'm not the kind of guy that will open doors for you or surprise you with a bouquet of flowers. That doesn't mean I care any less about you. I'll protect you and take care of you for as long as you let me," Lucas promised. It wasn't the three words Jasmine desperately craved to hear, but it was almost as good.

Seriously, how could she not love him? He was perfect for her. Lucas didn't beat around the bush or pretend. He gave everything he had and wasn't afraid to voice his opinion. He wouldn't tell lies to supposedly keep her safe or tell her what she wanted to hear. Lucas straight out told everyone what he thought, screw the consequences. He was strong and fierce, but more importantly loyal and incredibly loving. He protected what was his and would gladly give his life for those he loved.

"I still won't accept your money," Jasmine mumbled after a while, her voice slightly hoarse.

"Then we'll find another way to solve this," Lucas stated, "But one way or another, I'm keeping you safe."

Sitting on the plane, Jasmine stared outside, watching the big fluffy clouds disappear underneath them. Lucas held her hand, reassuringly squeezing it from time to time. She'd thought she wouldn't be able to visit her grandmother's grave until she moved back to Florida, but Lucas had proven her wrong. The man was entirely too thoughtful and kind to exist. He'd definitely surprised everyone around him, including Jasmine.

* flashback *

"What do you mean 'We're going to Florida'? Jasmine asked dumbfounded, staring at Lucas in both surprise and shock.

"We're going to Florida," Lucas repeated, his usual smirk in place. "We're leaving tonight at five."

"But…why?" Jasmine didn't understand. Yesterday she'd told Lucas about the man that was blackmailing her and a day later he suddenly declared they were leaving for Florida, the state where Jasmine was born and raised. Too many things were happening in a too short span of time.

"Because I want to keep you safe and the only way I can keep you safe is to get you away from this mess. We'll visit your grandmother's grave, spend some time at your old home and you can show me around your hometown. I don't care what we do as long as you're far away from those men. Besides, it'll take your mind off the threats," Lucas explained, intertwining their fingers and pulling her closer.

Jasmine shook her head. "It doesn't matter where you take me. As long as they don't get that money, I won't be safe," she insisted.

"Princess, for once, don't fight me. I'll feel better knowing you're out of town. We'll be able to spend some quality time together while my father sorts this mess out," Lucas argued.

"I don't want your parents involved in this, Lucas. I told you to keep quiet," Jasmine retorted, angrily shaking her head and pulling her hands out of his. Frank and Gabriella shouldn't be pulled into the mess Jasmine's parents created. They didn't ask for this – any of it.

"It's no longer up to you who I decide to involve in this, princess. I want you safe and I told you I'd do anything to make that happen. You don't want my money? Fine. That doesn't mean you won't get my help though," Lucas told her, his eyes piercing hers.

"You're not listening to me," Jasmine stated, shaking her head in disappointment as she took a few steps away from him. "I'll solve this mess on my own. I won't put anyone else in danger because of me, I won't," she stated fiercely.

"My parents willingly decided they wanted to be involved," Lucas affirmed.

"They wouldn't have decided that if they'd been kept in the dark about what is going on," Jasmine fired back, her hands shaking.

"They deserve to know, princess. I knew you wouldn't tell them. I get what you're trying to do, but it's wrong. What if something happens to you? Do you honestly think my parents would ever forgive themselves, even if they didn't know someone was threatening you? They'd feel responsible. It would eat at them, eat them alive," Lucas exclaimed, anger rising in his chest.

"Nothing is going to happen to me, Luke," Jasmine stated firmly.

"If you truly believe that, you're more foolish and naïve than I thought," he retorted.

Jasmine stayed silent, knowing he was right. Honestly, she never considered how Gabriella and Frank would feel if something happened to her. It might be selfish in a way, but she had been trying to protect them from the bad things invading her life.

"Princess, I know you care about them. Let them help you, help us. You don't have the kind of money that will make this problem go away, they do. I know you don't want to accept it, but my dad can save your ass. Let them, please princess, let them," Lucas begged, sounding desperate. His sad tone surprised Jasmine. As she looked into his eyes, she was met with intense fear – a fear that startled her. Lucas was afraid to lose her, so afraid he knowingly showed her his true emotions instead of hiding behind masks.

Jasmine sighed. "What will happen if I step onto that plane with you tonight?" she wondered.

"Your problems will disappear and when we arrive home next week everything will be back to normal," Lucas explained. Jasmine nodded. In other words, Frank would contact the men that were threatening her and pay them off. Truthfully, she still didn't want to accept that kind of help, but looking into Lucas' saddened countenance her decision was made. She couldn't put him through the kind of anger and fear that reflected in his eyes. It would harm him and that was the last thing Jasmine wanted to do.

"Okay," she whispered softly, giving in. The huge smile that spread across Lucas' features soothed some of her worries, but not all of them. How was she ever going to repay Frank and Gabriella for everything they had done for her?

* End of flashback *

"Princess?" Lucas repeated for the third time, waving his hand in front of her eyes to catch her attention.

"Hmm, what?" she replied, confused and a little disorientated.

"Damn. What were you thinking about? You were so far gone. The plane just landed. We've got to get off," Lucas explained, grinning.

Jasmine looked around to see people getting their carry-on baggage out of the overhead compartments. Nodding, she stood up. The pillow that had been lying in her lap fell on the floor, sliding under the seat in front of her. Last time she checked her watch they still had thirty minutes of the flight left. She had been so lost in her thoughts she didn't notice the plane descending and landing.

"Sometimes I wonder where you wander off to when you disappear into that head of yours. I called your name three times before you finally blinked and I caught your attention," Lucas stated, shaking his head as he pulled her bag out of the overhead compartment and handed it to Jasmine.

"Just thinking about stuff," she mumbled as she took the bag and started to walk down the aisle. Lucas followed suit behind her.

"How long's the drive from the airport to your grandmother's house?" Lucas questioned as they made their way to baggage claim.

"I'm not sure. Twenty minutes? Thirty maybe? I wasn't very focused when Gabriella came to get me," Jasmine confessed, thinking back to the time her godmother got her out of that orphanage. She'd been so sad and lonely at the time. Honestly, she never believed that one day the pain would go away. Fortunately, the Wood family proved her wrong. They turned her world upside down, but in a good way.

It turned out Jasmine's hometown was almost fifty minutes away from the airport. Honestly, it surprised Jasmine. She thought they lived closer. Then again, she'd never been on a plane before the day Gabriella took her to California, so it wasn't like she ever needed to know how close they were to the airport.

"Should I leave you alone for a while?" Lucas asked considerately as they arrived at Theresa's grave. After they put their bags inside the house, Lucas drove them to the cemetery her grandmother was buried at. Jasmine wanted to see her grandma as soon as she could. It was bad enough she hadn't been able to visit her grave for over five months.

"No, just stay with me," Jasmine replied softly, taking Lucas' hand in hers. He squeezed her hand reassuringly before intertwining their fingers, giving Jasmine the strength she desperately craved.

"Hi grandma," she whispered, her eyes filling with unshed tears. Lucas squeezed her hand a second time before pulling her close to his side, her head resting against his shoulder. "I miss you." The words came out horse, Jasmine's voice betraying her. She was trying really hard to stay strong, but it turned out to be quite the challenge.

"I wish you were here. There are so many questions I'd like to ask you. Did you know about my parents? Did you know they had money issues?" Jasmine looked expectedly at the tomb stone, as if her grandma would really answer her questions. "I'm scared, grandma, scared of what the future might bring. I know Gabriella and Frank will take care of me...but still...I just wish you were still here."

A broken sob left her lips. Needing the comfort, Jasmine turned her body closer to Lucas' and hid her face in the crook of his neck. "Thank you for coming with me," she whispered softly.

"No need to thank me, princess," Lucas replied, pulling her tightly against his chest.

"I can't lose you, Luke," Jasmine said, her voice sounding strained.

"You won't," Lucas promised, pressing a soft peck against her temple. "Do you want to stay a little longer or go back to your grandma's place?"

"Go back. Maybe I can figure out what this key locks away," Jasmine stated, pulling her necklace free and showing Lucas the small heart shaped key. Lucas stared at the small piece of metal.

"It looks like the key to a jewelry box," Lucas noted as he turned the key in his hand and let his fingers trace the metal. "It's too small to be a door key."

"As far as I know my grandma's jewelry box doesn't have a lock," Jasmine said, remembering the small wooden box on top of her grandmother's cupboard.

"This one could be hidden somewhere. Maybe in the attic? Old people are known to hide stuff." Jasmine nodded. Her grandma did hide some of her things in the weirdest places. Jasmine knew for a fact that she had kept a shitload of money hidden in a jar of noodles. According to Theresa, no thief would look that closely to find the money. They'd just open the cupboards and look through them.

Ten minutes later they arrived back at Theresa's home – or rather Jasmine's property. She'd inherited the house, her grandmother's belongings and money. Seeing as she was the only family member Theresa had left, Jasmine became the rightful owner.

"Could you look around downstairs? I'll check the attic," Jasmine told Lucas as they stepped inside the house.

Every time Jasmine set foot in the house, she was bombarded with a bunch of memories, both good and bad. It only made her miss her grandmother that much more. She didn't think she could ever return to the house. Too many painful memories were tied to it. She'd be reminded by what she lost every time she arrived home. It would be too difficult.

Honestly, Jasmine had gotten to the point where she didn't think she'd leave California. It had been her original intention to leave from the day she found out Gabriella became her legal guardian, but her views had changed. She had a new home now, friends and a family. It would be impossible to leave them behind.

"Sure," Lucas nodded, touching her cheek softly before stepping back and heading to the living room. Jasmine watched him walk away with a small smile across her face, before she headed upstairs to the attic.

As she stepped in the dark room, a sigh left her lips. The entire surface was covered with boxes, a thick layer of dust on top of them. Sneezing after she swiped some dust of the first box, Jasmine opened the carton. Old sweaters and shirts. The next one, teacups and plates. Again nothing useful.

Hours passed as Jasmine looked through the boxes, coming up empty every single time. Her grandma kept some seriously useless stuff. She'd always known the attic was filled with crap, but the reality was worse than she imagined. There must be at least ten boxes with outdated clothes, two boxes filled with shoes, six boxes filled with bedspreads and pillow cases, five boxes with dishes and cutlery and another eleven boxes with other miscellaneous stuff. Seriously, it seemed like there was no end to the pile of boxes.

"Jasmine!" Her name suddenly being called from downstairs caught her attention. Jasmine immediately stood up, brushed the dust from her pants and headed to Lucas.

"Where are you?" she called out as she pushed open the door that lead to the hallway.

"Your grandma's room," Lucas shouted back. His words made Jasmine halt. She hadn't been in her grandmother's room since Theresa passed away. It had been the single room she refused to set foot inside.

Taking a deep breath, she walked to her grandmother's room, only to stop dead in her tracks as she arrived at the door. Jasmine couldn't do it. She couldn't go inside the room that belonged to the person that raised her and turned her into the person she was. Grandma Theresa meant everything to her.

"Princess," Lucas whispered as he opened the door, smiling sadly as he watched her horror stricken face. "It's okay. I'll just bring the jewelry box to the living room."

Jasmine's eyes widened in surprise. "The jewelry box?" she repeated, dumbfounded.

"Yeah, I found it. She hid it in the back of her closet," Lucas explained, showing her a small wooden box.

Jasmine simply stared at him, rendered speechless as she eyed the wooden box. Shocked by the wave of strong emotions that washed over her, Jasmine felt tears pricking at her eyes. Lucas found it, the box that might explain some hidden mysteries.

"Do you want to open it?" Lucas questioned as he handed her the small box, his sapphire orbs filled with worry.

Still unable to utter a single word, Jasmine nodded and accepted the box. Placing her fingers around the chain at her neck, she slowly took her necklace off for the first time since her grandmother gave it to her. Holding the key in the palm of her hand, Jasmine stared at it for a few moments, wonder reflecting in her charcoal eyes. Would the mystery around her parents finally be solved? Did her grandma leave her the answers she desperately craved?

Running out of patience, Jasmine carefully pushed the key in its lock and turned it. Even if she was almost certain it had to be the jewelry box she'd been looking for, Jasmine was still surprised the key fitted perfectly and unlocked the wooden box. A gasp left her lips as the lid opened.

Inside the box rested a bunch of letters, articles and pictures. All of them about Jasmine's parents. Curiously Jasmine started to look through the papers, her heart beat speeding up with every piece of information she gathered. By the time she'd looked through everything, she was left shocked. Both fury and sadness arose inside of her.

"What is it?" Lucas asked cautiously, the frown of worry across his forehead deeper and more visible than before.

"They didn't die in a car accident," Jasmine mumbled softly, her eyes tearing up and her hands starting to shake. She dropped the box to the floor, her legs giving out from under her as she sunk down. Lucas' arms immediately enveloped her, pulling her face against his chest as he held her in his strong embrace.

"They…they were murdered," she whimpered, a strangled cry of pain resounding through the room.

In the box Jasmine found articles about a young couple being murdered in the woods, tortured for hours and slaughtered like pigs. She'd found unpaid bills, threatening letters and the proof that her father was a gambling addict. He owed money to various people and was likely murdered because of it. Neither of her parents had had any chance of survival if they couldn't pay those debts.

Her grandmother had known. She'd known her father owed those people money and deliberately kept Jasmine in the dark to protect her. She'd told Jasmine her parents died in a car crash to spare her the cruel reality of what really happened.

"I want to kill that bastard that took my parents away from me," Jasmine whispered, her words laced with venom. As if killing her parents hadn't been enough, they now sent people after her to collect the money?

"Princess, nothing is going to bring your parents back. Holding on to this kind of hatred will eventually kill you. As hard as it is, you'll have to let go of that anger and find peace with the knowledge that your grandma did everything she possibly could to protect you. There's a reason she kept this stuff hidden from you," Lucas told her carefully, softly caressing her back.

"I can't, Lucas. I can't let them get away with this."

"They already got away with it, princess, or they would be in jail. The kind of people we're dealing with…don't make them angry. You'll end up like your parents if you try to defy them. The best we can do, is pay those debts, make the danger go away and move on. Gangs like this one? They won't stop until they get the money. Once the debt is paid, they'll leave you alone. That's just the rules," Lucas explained.

Jasmine decided not to focus on the fact that he seemed to know so much about those kind of people. "What if I don't want to play by the rules? What if I want to see justice?"

"You'll end up dead," Lucas stated matter-of-factually. "Trust me, princess, the best we can do is walk away unharmed while we still can. My parents can easily pay them off. Don't make them angry by trying to avenge your parents. Nothing you do can ever bring them back."

"It would help me sleep easier at night, knowing justice has been served," Jasmine said fiercely.

"Princess, you'd be lying in a coffin. There's nothing you can do against these kind of people. They have influences everywhere. They'd make your life a living hell before eventually killing you. It's not worth it, trust me. Your parents wouldn't want you to get yourself killed because of them." Lucas tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear in an attempt to comfort her.

"This isn't fair, Luke," Jasmine stated, her hands shaking with anger.

"I know it isn't, but it's what we'll have to accept. In a few days we're going back home and we'll continue our lives like nothing ever happened, like you didn't just find out you've been lied to your entire life. It's the only way to survive." Lucas gave her poignant look.

"I don't know if I want to survive this way," she mumbled helplessly.

Lucas ran his hands soothingly through her hair. "You're angry and frustrated now, hurt even. In a few days you'll be able to think more clearly and see reason. It's going to be difficult, but you can overcome this. I know you can. You're strong, princess, stronger than any girl I ever met."

"I just feel so powerless," Jasmine said, tears still shining in her charcoal orbs.

Lucas nodded in understanding, once again pulling her closer and holding on for dear life. "We'll survive this together," he whispered in her ear, his grip not loosening one bit.

"Together," Jasmine repeated, closing her eyes and resting her face in the crook of Lucas' neck. It was going to be tough, but Lucas was right. She was strong. She'd survived a lot in the past, she'd be able to survive this kick in the gut as well. It would just take some time.

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