Chapter 22: Wrecking Ball
When Jasmine arrived home from school a day later, she wasn't overly surprised to notice Lucas' Harley was still nowhere to be seen. He hadn't come home last night and apparently not today either. Jasmine understood he was angry at her, but she hated that he stayed away from home because of it. She was worried about him and she wasn't the only one. Gabriella had been distraught when Jasmine told her that the reason Lucas wasn't home, was because he was convinced Jasmine would leave him once she graduated.
Jasmine told her godmother she shouldn't feel guilty, but the woman did nevertheless. Gabriella felt horrible that she was the one who caused the miscommunication. She honestly didn't know Jasmine had changed her mind and was planning on staying in California.
"Jas? What's up? You've been quiet all night," Lucy asked worriedly, frowning in confusion. They had to work on another group project and Jasmine asked Lucy to come over to the Wood mansion. They still had tons of work to do, but neither of them seemed to be focused. They'd been sitting at the kitchen table for over an hour and their paper was still unwritten. Too much was going on with the both of them to concentrate on a silly history assignment.
"Just thinking," Jasmine replied absentmindedly. She was still thinking about Lucas. Taking off and not coming home for a few days might be his normal behavior, but that didn't mean she wasn't concerned about him. He hadn't just been mad when he took off, he'd been furious. Lucas being that angry? It was meant to be a disaster. He would wreck everything and everyone that came across his path. It was just who he was. He couldn't control his anger and frustration.
"That must be some pretty serious thoughts," Lucy remarked, looking at Jasmine in expectation. Jasmine knew she should tell her friend about Lucas. It wasn't fair that she was keeping a secret so important. She wouldn't like it if Lucy kept such a thing from her.
"Lucas has been missing for a day. It's nothing unusual for him, but I'm worried. He was pretty upset when he left and hasn't returned any of my calls," Jasmine explained. Lucy nodded, but the frown across her features only intensified.
"Okay," she stated. "I can see why you'd be worried. What I don't understand is why you're looking like someone just ripped your heart out of your chest," the girl noted.
"We've been seeing each other for a few weeks and I'm the reason he took off without so much as a word. He wasn't just ticked off when he left, but furious. I don't even want to know what trouble he's been causing. Lucas is known to lose control and behave recklessly," Jasmine admitted sheepishly. She should've told her friend sooner. Lucy deserved to know what was going on. Still, Jasmine had only been trying to protect her. Lucy's own love life was a mess and she was fragile after what happened with Nathan. Jasmine didn't think she could handle conversations about Jasmine's love life.
Lucy sighed heavily. "You should've told me," she stated, her tone accusatory. "I felt like you were hiding something from me for a while, I just couldn't seem to figure out what it was exactly."
"I wanted to tell you, believe me. I just…"
"You thought I couldn't handle it," Lucy interrupted, shaking her head. "Don't try to talk yourself out of it now, Jas. I know what you've been doing. You've been treating me like a damned porcelain doll. I'm not as fragile as you seem to think. I can handle talking about my best friend's new boyfriend while I just lost mine. Don't hide stuff from me because you're afraid I can't take it!"
Jasmine honestly never saw Lucy looking more angry and immediately realized her mistake. She shouldn't have made that decision in Lucy's place. It only made her friend feel worse about herself. Lucy was trying to find a way to move on after what happened and Jasmine made that impossible by constantly reminding her. She didn't deliberately do it, but by walking on eggshells around Lucy, she only reminded her friend of the way the girl fell apart the moment she found out what Nathan did.
"I know it was wrong of me," Jasmine declared, dropping her head and looking at her feet. "I just didn't know how to tell you I was fooling around with your ex-boyfriend's brother," she confessed.
Lucy heaved another sigh and nodded. "I can see that. It was still a sucky thing to do, keeping something that huge from me, though."
"I promise I'll tell you next time," Jasmine plighted.
"What did the two of you fight about?" Lucy asked curiously, her anger seemingly forgotten. The girl was too kind and forgiving for her own good.
"I told Gabriella I'd move back to Florida after I graduated high school when I first arrived here. Since then, we never talked about it so I guess she believed my plans hadn't changed. It came up in a conversation she had with Lucas. The bomb dropped and he freaked the hell out. We fought about it. I didn't even have the time to tell him I'd changed my mind a long time ago when he suddenly took off. I haven't seen him since then," Jasmine explained ruefully.
"Let me get this straight. You were planning on moving back to Florida after you graduated?" Lucy asked in disbelief, her eyes wide.
"That was before we became friends, Luce. Don't worry. I wouldn't have left you behind. The moment I let you into my life – all of you – I knew I could never return back home in one piece. It would break me," Jasmine admitted.
"So you're definitely staying?" Lucy asked, just to make sure.
"I'm staying," Jasmine agreed, nodding. Lucy smiled, seemingly relieved.
"You're going to tell Lucas?"
"As soon as he decides to come back home, I will," Jasmine consented. He couldn't be stubborn and stay gone forever. There would be a time he had to return. Jasmine only hoped by then he hadn't made a total mess. She could forgive him for a lot of things, but if he'd slept with another girl? She wasn't sure she could ever go back to the way things were between them. It was a line she sincerely hoped Lucas never crossed.
"Enough about me, how are things between Nathan and you? You never told me what happened after he took you to his bedroom," Jasmine asked, changing topics. The day after the party Lucy acted like nothing ever happened. She put on a brave face and told everyone she was doing okay. Was she really okay? Jasmine was positive she was not, but the girl was good at hiding her true feelings. With everything that happened with the man that had been after Jasmine, she'd completely forgotten to ask her friend about Nathan.
"Nothing happened," Lucy quickly replied. When Jasmine's eyebrows raised, Lucy sighed and explained, "At least not what you were thinking. Nathan just held me all night. In the morning, we talked and he once again told me how sorry he was. I told him I didn't think I could ever start something with him after what happened and he told me he understood. After that we've just been civil around each other."
"You're one hundred percent sure you could never be in a relationship with him again?" Jasmine asked, not sure if she believed her friend. Lucy did love Nathan. She might be certain things were officially over between them, but Jasmine guessed that wasn't entirely true.
"He cheated on me, Jas, that's not something you just forget. It's not a bump in the road, but a freaking hill! He disrespected me, broke my trust and hurt my feelings. I'm not sure I can ever forgive him, let alone give our relationship a second chance."
"I was just checking, Luce. I don't want you to regret your decision in the future," Jasmine explained. As much as she hated Nathan for what he did to her best friend, he'd made it clear just how sorry he was and how much he still loved Lucy. He practically runs after her like a puppy everywhere she goes. It would be sickening if it wasn't so darn cute.
"Maybe in ten years or something I can get over this. Right now? I'm still a mess. I'd be suspicious and act like a bitch to him. I'm sure that's not the way a healthy relationship starts," Lucy said with a sigh.
Jasmine nodded in understanding. She could only imagine how Lucy must feel. She truly hoped she'd never be in that situation. It would kill her.
Two days. Two days had gone by and she still hadn't heard a word from Lucas. Jasmine was seriously starting to worry. All kinds of disaster scenario's started running through her mind, making her go absolutely nuts. She didn't understand how he could take off like that and keep ignoring her calls. He must know she was worried sick.
Done waiting patiently for Lucas to return home safely, Jasmine picked up her car keys from the cupboard, tucked her cellphone in the front pocket of her jeans and headed to the garage. She'd given Lucas 48 hours to calm down and think things through. That should be more than enough to clear his head and realize Jasmine did indeed give a fuck about him.
"I'll be back," she called out through the house, not in the mood to find Gabriella before taking off. Saying goodbye to Gabriella would lead to an endless conversation, time being wasted that Jasmine would probably need to get Lucas home. She couldn't imagine he was going to go easy on her. Chances were high that Lucas would be wasted and the only thing worse than a pissed off Lucas, was a pissed off, drunk Lucas. He would be entirely unreasonable.
Once Jasmine started the engine, she put the car in first gear and took off. With a little bit of luck – which Jasmine desperately craved at the moment – Lucas would be at his usual spot to lose his mind and get drunk. It was the bar he took her to the first time they went out together, an outdated pub just out of town. For the first time, Jasmine was glad she knew about Lucas' habits. She would've never found him otherwise.
Ten minutes later, Jasmine drove into the parking lot of the bar. A satisfied smile crossed her lips when she noticed Lucas' Harley in front of the building. She'd guessed right. The smile quickly disappeared though, when she noticed the other seven motorcycles, undoubtedly owned by Lucas' friends. Jasmine still didn't feel comfortable around them. They gave her bad vibes.
Gathering the courage she needed, Jasmine turned off the engine of her still brand new car and stepped out of the vehicle, slamming the door with a loud bang. Damn it. She was more nervous than a fox at a hound convention. Taking another deep breath, she locked the car and headed straight to the entrance of the pub, her heart slamming against her ribcage.
Dizzy with nerves, she pushed the door open and stepped inside the dimly lit room. The scent of cigarettes and booze immediately hit her olfactory senses. Scrunching her nose, Jasmine headed straight to the bar. As her eyes wandered across the room, she was surprised to notice the bar was almost entirely filled with customers. Last time she was at the bar it had been vacant, with the exception of Lucas' friends.
"A beer, please," Jasmine ordered as she put a hand on top of the bar, surprised the surface was clean. The bartender nodded, took a bottle out of the fridge and handed it to Jasmine. Taking a small sip of beer, Jasmine slowly turned around, her eyes exploring the room.
"What's a pretty lady like you doing in a bar like this?" a guy grinned, slipping his arm around Jasmine's shoulder. Quickly stepping out of his reach, Jasmine looked up at the man, her eyes cold and blank. The man's grin turned into a sneer before he turned around and walked away. Jasmine thought she heard him mumble something under his breath that sounded like 'so not worth it'.
Refocusing her attention on the tables across the room, Jasmine's eyes scanned the crowd. Her breath suddenly caught in her throat as she finally recognized the jet black hair of the man she'd grown to love in the back of the room. Lucas was sitting in the middle of the bench with a redhead in his lap, his tongue down her throat as the woman clung to him. Like a true masochist, Jasmine watched them, a single tear escaping her eye as the girl started to grind her pelvis against Lucas', making it clear what she wanted.
Her lips parted and her eyes wide, Jasmine saw how Lucas gripped the back of the girl's head and knotted his fingers through her hair. Pain sliced through Jasmine's chest, ripping her heart to shreds. An agonizing gasp left her lips. No longer able to watch Lucas making out with another girl, Jasmine turned on her heels and headed to the exit of the bar, her beer long forgotten.
Before she reached the door, a hand suddenly gripped her upper arm and held her back. Turning her head to the side, she recognized Hank as the man that was stalling her. "Don't pout now, little girl. I told you this would happen," he told her, a knowing glint in his eyes. Jasmine wanted to slap him across the face and tell him he didn't know shit. The sad thing was, Hank was right. He did warn her something like this was likely to happen.
"Put on your brave face and move on. Girls like you will find someone else, someone worthy of their time that treats them like a princess," Hank said, reassuringly squeezing her arm.
"I don't need to be treated like a princess. I don't need a prince to come and save me. All I need is someone who respects me and lets me decide how I live my life," she retorted. Hank might think she was a good girl, but he couldn't have been more wrong. Jasmine didn't need a mellow guy that would buy her expensive gifts and tell her 'I love you' every damn second of the day.
"Lucas won't ever change," Hank insisted.
"He already has," Jasmine returned and with that, she pulled her arm out of Hank's grip and left the bar, her head held up high. Lucas could go screw himself. He wanted another girl to keep his bed warm at night? He could do as he damn well pleased, but she wasn't going to be treated like some booty call. He'd made his choice.
Hours later, when reality finally hit Jasmine in the gut, the tears started tumbling from her eyes, cascading down her cheeks. All the anger evaporated and was swapped with the bitter pain of being cheated on. How could he? How could he throw away what they had so easily? And for what reason? Because he thought she was going to leave him? Did he have so little faith in her?
Tear after tear slipped from her eyes, every drop twisting the knife a little deeper in her heart. Losing her grandma had wrecked Jasmine, losing Lucas? It didn't just wreck her, it completely ruined her. She knew he was bad news from the start, yet she ignored all the signs and still followed her heart. He was trouble with a capital T. A man that had been severely hurt and lost the path he'd been walking on. Damaged goods.
Curling into a ball, Jasmine hugged her pillow close to her chest, holding on for dear life. Images of Lucas and the redhead in the bar constantly haunted her, the memories resurfaced in her mind like a movie on repeat. The more Jasmine tried to ban the recollection of what happened, the more it hurt. She just couldn't ignore the hollow feeling in her heart. Months ago she'd felt lonely, yet it was nothing compared to what she felt now without Lucas by her side.
Exhaustion took over her mind, making her tumble into an infernal sleep that only lasted a few hours. As she slowly returned to the land of the living, Jasmine could feel the remnants of crying for hours. Not only did she have a killer headache, but her eyes were aching and almost swollen shut. She felt horrible, even worse than before she fell asleep.
As her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, Jasmine noticed a figure standing next to her window, its shadow preventing the moonlight from illuminating the room. Startled, she shot wide awake and gasped audibly. The figure moved to the side. Jasmine's breath caught in her throat when her eyes met Lucas' clear blue orbs, filled with sadness and pain.
"What are you doing here?" she mumbled softly, still shocked. It took her about five seconds for the tiredness to wear off and the confusion to turn into blatant anger. "What the fuck do you think you're doing here, you asshole?!" Jasmine shouted furiously, repeating her former question in a far more angry tone.
Lucas didn't reply, but down casted his eyes, shame and regret obvious in his posture. "I asked you a question, dickhead," Jasmine hollered, getting out from under the sheets that had been covering her rigid frame and jumping upright. Pointing her finger into Lucas' chest, she took a few steps closer and screamed: "Answer me, dammit!"
Her body shook with anger, her eyes spitting fire as she kept her eyes focused on Lucas' face. She could feel her heart beating rapidly against her ribcage, almost jumping out of her chest with every thump. The fury that had arisen inside of her only seemed to increase with every second Lucas stayed quiet. The fucking asshole.
"Get out of my sight. I never want to see you again," Jasmine spat venomously, done waiting for Lucas to start talking and explain himself. She didn't want to hear his empty excuses. Nothing could make up for what he did to her, what he did to them. Things had been perfect between them, better than any fairytale Jasmine could come up with and more real than anything she'd ever felt before. She'd been alive, floating on cloud nine. He ruined that. He wrecked the foundation of their relationship when he stuck his tongue down that redhead's throat.
"I didn't sleep with her," Lucas mumbled softly. "I tried to, but I just couldn't – literally. My cock stayed limp as a noodle. The only image I kept seeing in my mind was you, the pain in your eyes when I took off." Lucas paused. "I can't get you out of my mind. No matter how hard I try to forget, how many women I kiss or how much I try to push away the memories we shared. You've ruined me, ruined me for all women. I tasted pure heaven and nothing can ever compare to that. I want to hate you for even thinking of leaving me, but I just can't. I can't hate you, can't even dislike you. I…" he trailed off, his voice laced with hurt.
Jasmine wanted to believe the fact that he'd stopped before actually sleeping with someone made everything better, but it didn't. She couldn't get the images of Lucas with that redhead in his lap out of her mind. "I was never planning on leaving you, Lucas. The moment I chose to let you into my life, I banned all thoughts of leaving California. I've been wanting to tell your mother I'd decided to go to a college nearby after all, I just hadn't found the right moment yet," Jasmine explained softly, pain radiating from her body.
"What?" Lucas bellowed, his eyes suddenly coming to life as his body started to shake violently, his legs giving out from under him. He hit the floor with a thud, his knees crashing down onto the carpet. Jasmine's hand shot out to help him, but she quickly pulled her arm back when she realized what she'd been trying to do.
"No," he whispered, his voice strained as he started to shake his head. Left, right, left, right. "No," he whispered again, still in denial.
Jasmine watched him, her heart constricting painfully in her chest. If she'd had any tears left, she surely would've been crying. The problem was, she'd exhausted all her tears earlier that night. No drop of liquid escaped her saddened eyes, still they stung with an intense pain.
"Did you honestly think I'd leave you? That I'd leave everything we built together, throw it away like it never meant anything and just move on? That's just plain heartless, Lucas. You should know me better than that. You should've believed in me, in us," Jasmine stated, swallowing thickly as the disappointment echoed through her voice.
"I wanted to ask for your forgiveness. Despite the pain you brought upon me by disappearing from the surface of the earth, I still wanted to come after you and beg for your forgiveness, knowing full well I had done nothing wrong. I still would've done it for you. Fortunately, I quickly realized what a fool I'd been to think I mattered the moment I saw that filthy slut in your lap, licking every inch of your face," Jasmine exclaimed, a bitter laugh escaping her lips.
"The only reason that girl was in my lap was because I thought you were going to bail on me," Lucas grunted, his teeth clenched together. "I wanted to forget about you, forget how much you meant to me. It hurt, princess. It fucking destroyed me to think you'd disappear."
"Didn't you wonder, even for the slightest moment, if I'd really do that? Didn't you think it was weird that I'd just pack my bags after my graduation party and move back to Florida?" Jasmine questioned with a raised eyebrow.
"I wasn't thinking, princess," Lucas admitted. "I was too consumed with anger and pain to process any coherent thoughts that crossed my mind."
"You could've spared us this pain if you'd just asked me instead of immediately assuming things, Lucas. One question and all of this could've gone a very different way. Instead you decided to let your demons rule and tear us apart. You unchained the wrecking ball inside of you and demolished us." A strangled sob tore from deep within Jasmine's chest as she covered her eyes with her hands.
"I can see now how much I've screwed up," Lucas muttered, pain in his voice as he let his shoulders drop. "I love you, princess. I think I have for quite some time. I know now is not the right time, but in case you never give me another chance, I want you to know how much you mean to me. I'll never be the same without you. You opened my eyes and showed me I was lost, showed me what way I should go and supported me when everyone thought I'd never find the right path again. You saved me from self-destruction, princess, and that's something I can never thank you enough for."
Jasmine looked up to see the raw pain in Lucas' eyes. All masks had disappeared. No more pretenses. His honesty and confession shook Jasmine to the core. She never – ever – expected Lucas to profess his love for her. He wasn't the kind of guy that wore his feelings on his sleeve. He hid them well and laughed away every conversation about emotions.
"I love you, princess, always will," Lucas repeated as he slowly stood up. Reaching out, he softly brushed his fingers against Jasmine's cheek before taking a step back. "I know you can't forgive me right away, but I promise I'll fight for you. I promise I'll show you I truly regret what I did and that I love you and only you," he claimed with devotion.
Dumbfounded, Jasmine watched Lucas walk to the door and disappear into the hallway. She never uttered a single word as she let the reality of what just happened wash over her, drown her in a wave of endless emotions.