Chapter 23: Fighting for Love
Weeks passed by, Jasmine's feeling of loss and deception ebbing away ever so slowly. Lucas and Jasmine had gotten to the point where they could be civil around each other, but they were nowhere close to solving the massive amount of issues spiraling between them. Jasmine still felt betrayed after Lucas carelessly kissed another women when they hit a bumpy road on their path to a healthy relationship. The pain was too raw and too deep to be overcome with just a few words of regret and a declaration of love. Jasmine needed more, more time, more proof Lucas truly loved her. She needed actions, not statements.
After all the secrets she discovered in the past few months, Jasmine hoped life would finally give her a break, but she seemed to be out of luck yet again. Her mind desperately needed rest, but she couldn't stop the wheels from endlessly spinning inside of her head, looking for answers she would probably never find. There was only one thing left for Jasmine to do: leave the past behind and move forward with her life, forgetting about the pain and secrets. If only it was that easy to just live in the here and now. Jasmine didn't know how to move on, how to accept the past and leave it be.
"Honey? Could you come to the kitchen for a moment?" Gabriella called out. A small smile crossed Jasmine's lips. Gabriella and she had grown a lot closer over the past weeks. It almost felt like Jasmine had a part of her grandma back. The way Gabriella obviously cared for her, it reminded Jasmine of a time she wasn't all alone, a time where someone took care of her instead of letting her fend for herself.
Jasmine knew it was her who'd held Gabriella back, who'd pushed her away every time she'd come an inch closer. She'd been so afraid to love again, she'd kept Gabriella at arm's length and constantly reminded her she didn't want to bond. That had changed. Jasmine did want to bond, she needed to bond with her new family and friends. She'd finally fully accepted her grandma was never coming back.
It was still hard to open herself up to people, but it seemed to become easier and easier the more people she let into her life. One day, hopefully in the near future, all of this would seem like an ancient memory, something she could barely remember.
"It's time you start applying for colleges before it's too late, sweetheart. Frank and I selected a few colleges nearby that could be interesting," Gabriella explained as Jasmine walked into the kitchen and pulled a chair back. "I know you haven't decided what you want to study yet, but there's still time. First we need to figure out which college you want to get into."
Jasmine smiled as she watched Gabriella browse through a few college brochures. A few days ago they'd decided together that Jasmine would stay in California for as long as she wanted and start the hunt to find the right college. She knew Gabriella wouldn't stop her if she decided to quit school, but her godmother secretly prayed Jasmine would go for a college degree. Jasmine also knew how important education was to Gabriella and Frank.
"I want to go to the same college as Lucas," Jasmine suddenly stated. They still hadn't properly made up, but she knew she couldn't stay mad at him forever. In her heart she'd already forgiven him. It was her mind that kept her back, the logical part that needed confirmation he did truly love her before giving him a second chance.
"Oh," Gabriella mumbled surprised. "Have you two finally made up?" Jasmine hadn't told her godmother exactly what happened, but Gabriella knew Lucas and she had a serious fight. She'd even tried to talk to the both of them in the hope they'd resolve whatever was going on between them. Gabriella had obviously come to terms with the fact that her goddaughter had fallen in love with her son.
"Not really," Jasmine admitted. It was safe to say she'd given Lucas a hard time after the night he came home. Every time he tried to be sweet to her or do something nice, she'd blatantly turned him down. Honestly, it surprised her he kept fighting to win her over. It was the reason her heart had forgiven him. The warm feelings that rose inside of her every time Lucas told her he loved her, could no longer be ignored.
"You sure are stubborn," Gabriella grinned. "I know my son probably deserves the cold shoulder treatment you've been giving him, but you should consider a truce. You might think you've been acting civil towards him, but you've been kind of hard on him, honey. I've never seen Lucas behave this way around a girl. I've especially never seen him grovel the way he has the past few weeks. You must be very special to him to show his affection in public. Even Nathan asked me if there was something going on between the two of you."
Jasmine's lips parted, a gasp leaving them. She'd thought they'd been hiding their relationship well. True, maybe after their fight Lucas had stopped trying to hide his feelings towards her, but Jasmine still didn't think it was that obvious.
"Don't worry, I didn't reveal your secret," Gabriella quickly added, resting her hand on Jasmine's shoulder and squeezing reassuringly.
"I'll try to be less hard on Lucas," Jasmine eventually agreed. Maybe Gabriella was right. Deep down, Jasmine knew Lucas did in fact love her. He'd shown his feelings in so many ways, the most important one finally opening up to her. She knew all about his inner demons and well-hidden secrets. How could she have been so blind? She kept waiting for the facts when they were all around her. Lucas made a mistake, but didn't everyone? Didn't he deserve a second chance?
"Jazzy, my son loves you. A momma can tell. If that's what you're doubting, I can assure you, you've got nothing to worry about," Gabriella suddenly stated, confirming Jasmine's thoughts.
"I know he does," she nodded, a bright smile appearing across her features for the first time in weeks.
The school bell rang loudly through the building, its sound coming as a relief to many students. Jasmine smiled as she started to put her books in her bag. It had been a long day. "Jas, can I talk to you for a second?" Lucy asked, sounding nervous as she halted at Jasmine's seat.
"Of course," Jasmine replied as she zipped her bag closed and stood up. Her friend looked shaken, her eyes wide as saucers as she kept biting her bottom lip. Lucy had been behaving weirdly ever since their lunch break ended and Jasmine had no idea why. It worried Jasmine to no end.
As they walked into the busy hallway, Jasmine looked expectantly at her friend. Lucy just shook her head and pulled Jasmine into the girls' bathroom. "Privately," the girl mumbled.
"This must be serious," Jasmine joked, trying to ease the tension.
"It is," Lucy retorted. Jasmine's concern increased. Lucy sounded scared.
"What happened?" Jasmine asked worriedly, a frown appearing across her forehead as she eyed her friend. Jasmine was having flashbacks to the night Lucy was practically molested and her fear spiked that there had been another incident.
"I kissed Nathan," Lucy blurted out, her hand quickly covering her mouth once the words left her lips.
"You did what?" Jasmine cried out, her eyes wide as she gasped in shock. That was not at all what Jasmine expected to hear. Nathan was still running around like a puppy after Lucy everywhere she went, making sure she was okay. He didn't leave her side at school and kept girls like Kelsey far away from her. It was probably a good thing. Kelsey liked flaunting her conquests way too much.
"I don't even know how it happened," Lucy admitted. "We were just talking, then suddenly Nathan has me pressed against a locker and we're making out. I didn't even try to push him off me. I just kissed him back with all I had and held on like my life depended on it," the girl mumbled, her eyes filled with fear. "How could I do that?"
Jasmine stared at her friend, left utterly dumbfounded. "Maybe you still love him?" she suggested.
"I've never fallen out of love with him, Jas. No matter how much I try to hate him, I still love him with all my heart. He betrayed me, broke my trust, yet I can't stop wanting him. How's that possible? It's not fair," Lucy muttered, shaking her head as wetness pooled in her eyes.
"I don't know, Luce," Jasmine honestly replied, pulling her friend into a hug. She didn't understand love either. It could be the best thing that ever happened to you or the worst. Why do people fall in love with the wrong person? Why do they put themselves out there only to end up hurt? Love could be beautiful if it's a mutual feeling, but it could also destroy. People can only hurt others if they truly care about that person.
"I wish I could hate him, Jas. I really do. It would make everything so much easier," Lucy sobbed.
"You're strong, Luce, you'll survive this," Jasmine assured her friend, patting her softly on the back.
"I don't know what to do anymore. Part of me wants to forgive Nathan and move on, but the other part can't forget what he did to me and I worry what it says about me if I let us get back together. He's been so incredibly sweet to me the past months. I can see he truly regrets what happened, but that doesn't take back the fact it happened. We can't turn back the clock and erase everything he did."
"I just want you to know, Luce, that you should follow your heart. Don't let anyone else influence you. If you want to forgive Nathan and you think you can, you shouldn't let the opinion of other's matter," Jasmine told her friend with a reassuring smile. Many people wouldn't understand how Lucy could still love Nathan after what he did.
"Thanks, Jas. I wouldn't know what to do without you," Lucy smiled softly, giving Jasmine another squeeze before letting go and taking a step back. "We should go home."
Jasmine nodded, glad Lucy seemed to have found her strength again. As they headed to the exit of the building, Jasmine suddenly noticed Lucas standing a few feet away from them. Surprised, she raised her eyebrow and stared at him. Lucas smirked when he saw her, that confident look was in his eyes that made most girls drop their panties without a second thought.
"What are you doing here?" Jasmine asked, confused.
"Have fun," Lucy whispered in her ear, patting Jasmine on the shoulder before disappearing through the door.
Lucas didn't reply, but pushed himself off the wall he was leaning against and took a few steps towards her. "Didn't you have class this afternoon?" Jasmine asked instead, a little taken aback when Lucas pushed a loosened strand of hair back behind her ear, his face only inches away from hers. He'd been doing little things like that a lot lately, openly showing his affection without caring if anyone saw.
"I decided to skip," Lucas grinned, putting his hands on her waist and pulling her closer, caging her in with his arms. Jasmine went willingly, a breathless gasp leaving her lips as she hit Lucas' chest. Looking up, she stared into his bright blue eyes, getting lost in their depth.
"That's not like you at all," Jasmine mumbled, wetting her suddenly dry lips as she kept her gaze locked on his.
"I wanted to make an exception for this pretty girl I know so I could take her out," Lucas clarified, still grinning.
A slow smile broke free across Jasmine's features, spreading from ear to ear. "Hmm, anyone I know perhaps?" she teased, wrapping her arms around Lucas' neck.
"Princess, we both know there's only one girl I'd make an exception like that for," Lucas mumbled before lightly pressing his lips against hers. It felt wonderful to be in his arms. Too much time had passed while she kept pushing him away. Jasmine knew Lucas was testing the waters, seeing how far he could push her until she'd pull away. The thing was, she didn't want to pull away. She was fine just where she was.
"You're awfully easy on me today," Lucas proclaimed after a few minutes of standing comfortably in each other's arms. He seemed genuinely happy about that, his grin only intensifying.
"I decided to give you a break," Jasmine admitted. After her talk with Gabriella, Jasmine decided she was going to forgive Lucas. He'd worked hard enough the past weeks. She couldn't help but tease him a little longer though, she wanted to know what he had planned first.
"How generous of you," Lucas replied playfully, rolling his eyes.
"I'm awesome like that," Jasmine grinned cheekily before pulling Lucas' face down and pressing a wet kiss against his lips. He seemed to be startled for a moment, but quickly relaxed in her embrace.
"You're in a good mood today," Lucas observed, still looking surprised. She must've treated him pretty bad if he looked so surprised that she'd kiss him. It made Jasmine feel guilty. He'd done everything he could to make up for the mistake he made, yet she'd kept pushing him away.
"Tell me what you've got planned," Jasmine questioned, deciding to change the subject.
Lucas smiled mischievously and shook his head. "It would ruin the surprise, princess," he told her.
"You know I hate surprises," Jasmine whined, pouting a little. Lucas burst into laughter when she gave him her best puppy dog stare and just repeatedly kept shaking his head.
"Nah, ah," he insisted. "Whether you like it or not, you'll have to wait and see," Lucas said once his laughter finally toned down.
Jasmine sighed and gave him an annoyed look, but didn't complain otherwise. "Well, shouldn't we leave then?" she asked impatiently, beyond curious to know what he had planned.
Lucas grinned. "Calm down, Miss Impatience. You're worse than a five year old waiting to open her presents on her birthday."
Rolling her eyes, Jasmine pushed Lucas aside and started walking to the exit of the school building. If he wouldn't move, she just had to make him. Laughing, Lucas came after her, his palm softly touching hers before he found the courage to hold her hand. When he noticed Jasmine didn't immediately pull back from his grasp, he intertwined their fingers.
Trying to ignore the guilt in the pit of her stomach for ignoring Lucas so long, Jasmine softly squeezed his hand and smiled. He'd been very patient with her, never complaining when she attacked him without a solid reason and never giving up on trying to win her back. She should've realized sooner she was making a mistake by being such a bitch to him.
As they arrived in the parking lot, Jasmine recognized Lucas' Harley right away. Raising her eyebrows in confusion, she stared at the vehicle. "Why didn't you bring your car?" she asked hesitantly. Her fear of riding on the back of a bike had decreased since the last time she joined Lucas on a trip, but Jasmine would still rather take a car.
"Because I just love to feel your thighs pressed snuggly against my back, squeezing me in a tight grip while your arms are wrapped around my waist and you hold on for dear life," Lucas smirked, letting go of her hand and quickly patting her butt.
Jasmine gave him a warning stare, trying not to burst into laughter when he pouted. Damn. Wetness pooled between her legs. He was too damn handsome to be real.
"Climb on, princess," Lucas told her as he slung a leg over the bike after handing her a helmet.
"What about my car?" Jasmine questioned, suddenly remembering she drove to school that morning.
"I'll ask Nathan to bring it home. I'm sure he has a friend that's dying to drive an Audi R8," Lucas assured, patting the spot behind him.
"Where are we going?" Jasmine asked again, stalling.
"Princess, if you don't get your ass on my bike in five seconds, I'm taking off without you," Lucas threatened.
Groaning, Jasmine shook her head. He left her no choice. Against her will, she put the helmet on and swung her leg over the bike. Before she had time to protest, Lucas fired up the engine and took off. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tightened her arms around Lucas' waist and pressed her face against his back. Holy shit. A rush of adrenaline coursed through her veins. It surprised her time and time again how fast a bike could go. Jasmine felt like she was flying on the road instead of riding.
After a few minutes, she finally started to relax and loosened the tight grip she had on Lucas' waist. Opening her eyes, she watched the scenery fly by. Maybe riding a bike wasn't that bad after all.
An hour later, Lucas finally left the motorway and drove to the nearest parking area. Jasmine's eyes focused on the environment, trying to figure out what their destination was. Lucas still hadn't told her where they were going, much to her annoyance.
As he parked the bike and turned off the engine, Jasmine slowly let go of Lucas' waist and got off the Harley. "Where are we?" she asked, frowning as she looked around her. The smell of the sea hit her nostrils as she heard seagulls squawking around them. They appeared to be in a small village close to the ocean.
Jasmine couldn't remember the last time she'd been this close to the ocean. It must have been when her grandmother was still alive. Theresa often went to the beach with Jasmine when she was younger. They'd look for seashells and stare at the seemingly endless coast line. Jasmine had nothing but happy memories from their little trips. She'd loved every second of them.
"You'll see," Lucas muttered, sliding his fingers through hers as he pulled her towards a small track. Not in the mood to complain, Jasmine simply followed him and didn't utter a word of protest. The smell of the sea brought peace to her mind. She was still curious as hell to know what Lucas had planned, but she'd wait to find out.
"Whenever my mom had a day off from work she'd take Nathan and me here when we were younger. Dad was a workaholic. He never took time off to just enjoy a nice day out with his family. He lives for his job and wants to excel in everything he does," Lucas explained as they walked hand in hand along the trail.
"My mom didn't let that stop her from taking us away from home, though. She found it important to spent time with her kids. Despite her busy schedule, she still made sure she could take Nathan and me out at least once a month. Nathan and I lived for those days. We always had so much fun. Mom is nowhere close to the perfect homey-mother most kids love, but she did alright. We've had our differences in the past, but I do love her. Those memories of us three together at the beach, that's what reminds me that I wasn't always unhappy," Lucas stated, his tone sad as they arrived at the beach.
Jasmine's eyes widened as she glanced at her surroundings, a smile touching her lips. It was perfect. A small seashore hidden by a cliff, secluded and serene. She couldn't have pictured a more romantic location if she'd wanted to. "It's beautiful out here," Jasmine whispered, her eyes stuck on the setting surrounding her.
"Most beautiful place I've ever seen," Lucas agreed, letting go of her hand and wrapping an arm around her shoulder instead, pulling her against his side. Jasmine smiled softly as she rested her head against his shoulder, her arm slipping around his waist.
"So this is my surprise," she mumbled, still gazing at the scenery in wonder. Who would've thought Lucas had anything remotely romantic inside of him? It surely came as a complete surprise to her.
"I wanted to show you one of my secret hiding places. I still drive to this beach whenever I'm feeling down to remember a happier time in my life. Not that often, but I try to visit once every half year," Lucas admitted. He let go of her waist, bent down and took off his shoes.
"Come on, princess," he grinned as he started stripping off his pants before unbuttoning his shirt. Jasmine stared at Lucas with wide eyes. Was he really going to do what she thought he was?
Guess he was, Jasmine thought as she watched Lucas drop his clothes in a pile at his feet and started to run to the ocean in nothing but a pair of boxers. Still shocked, Jasmine watched as Lucas gracefully dove into the water and disappeared in the deep blue ocean.
Seconds passed without any sign of Lucas before he suddenly resurfaced a few feet away from where he jumped in. "What are you waiting for?" Lucas called out as he rose to the surface, droplets of water flying around as he shook his head, his hair sodden.
Jasmine stayed frozen for a moment, contemplating her options before finally making a decision. As the button of her jeans popped free, she pushed the pants down her legs and stepped out of them. Young and free. She should enjoy life a little. With that thought on her mind, she pulled her shirt over her head and started running towards Lucas.
Seconds later, her feet touched the cold ocean water. Screeching, she shot Lucas an angry glare. "Fuck," she cursed. "You jumped in the water like it was nothing," she accused as her teeth chattered. The water was freezing!
"You baby," Lucas teased as he dove under water, wrapped his hand around her ankle and pulled. Screaming loudly, Jasmine toppled over, going under water. As she came up for air, she flung at Lucas.
"You bastard!" she yelled, pushing roughly against his chest. Lucas just laughed and shook his head, his body completely in balance. He didn't even move an inch when she pushed him. It was so annoying he was that much stronger than her sometimes.
"In a few minutes you'll be used to the temperature," Lucas reassured as he pulled Jasmine against his chest and lazily started pressing open-mouthed kisses against her throat.
Heat suddenly blared through her veins, instantly warming her body. "Lucas," Jasmine breathlessly whispered, her nipples hardening against his chest. She could feel him smirk against her neck as he trailed a pattern of kisses down her throat, down the hollow of her breasts, only halting inches away from her erected pebbles. Damn him for teasing her like that.
Moaning, Jasmine weaved her fingers through Lucas' raven locks and pulled at the strands of hair. "More," she pleaded, wrapping her legs around Lucas' waist and pushing her throbbing core against his pelvis.
"Princess," Lucas groaned, his voice strained, holding a clear warning. "We're not doing this as long as you can't forgive me for what I've done."
Jasmine wanted to roll her eyes, but instead tightened her grip around Lucas' waist. "Don't be silly. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't already forgiven you," she mumbled, her eyes rolling to the back of her head as she grinded her hips against him, creating the friction she needed.
Lucas stared at her, his eyes wide and mouth slightly agape. "Lucas, don't make me beg," Jasmine warned, digging her nails into his shoulder while her other hand pulled his head down. Without wasting another second, Lucas' mouth came down on hers in a crushing kiss. He roughly thrust his hips forward as his tongue probed Jasmine's lips.
Moaning in pleasure, Jasmine closed her eyes. Lucas never lost control like that. She was loving every second of it, knowing she was the one that made these whirlwind of feelings rise inside of him. "I'm never letting you go again," Lucas mumbled between kisses, his hands cupping her ass as he ground his erection against her center.
"I'm counting on it," Jasmine hissed.
Smiling secretly, Jasmine watched as Lucas approached with a few towels in his arms. Her man surely made up for the time they spent apart the past weeks. A blush touched her cheeks as she remembered exactly how much fun they'd had in the ocean. It was a good thing Lucas had so much self-control or she'd no longer be a virgin. They'd come pretty close, much closer than usual, to crossing the line.
"Aren't you lucky I thought of everything," Lucas grinned as he threw a towel in her direction. Apparently, he'd brought towels, food and drinks on their trip. Jasmine didn't even know he could get so much stuff in the compartment box on his bike.
"Aren't you lucky I forgave you and decided to join you on this little adventure?" Jasmine retorted as she spread out the towel on the sand and sat down. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly in the clear sky, its warmth making the temperature rise to a pleasant 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lucas didn't reply but smirked instead as he sat down next to Jasmine and pressed a soft peck against her lips. "You did forget to bring sunscreen," she teased.
"It's not that hot outside, but I promise I'll give you a massage with aloe if you get burned," Lucas said, rolling his eyes as he laid down on his stomach and closed his eyes, enjoying the way the sun warmed his skin after the cold dip in the ocean.
Jasmine gazed at him lovingly, tracing her fingers up and down his spine, sliding over the eagle tattoo across his back. "Do any of your tattoos have a meaning?" Jasmine asked curiously as she inspected his ink. They were always so busy touching each other, she never really took the time to take a closer look at his tattoos.
Sighing, Lucas opened his eyes and turned his head to the side so he could look at her. "I got the eagle a few weeks after I found out that my ex-girlfriend cheated on me. It's supposed to protect me and remind me of the power I have, to make sure I never make the same mistake of trusting the wrong person," he explained, a humorless laugh leaving his lips. "The sign on the inside of my arm refers to the motorcycle club I joined and the Chinese symbols say 'Turn your wounds into wisdom'."
Jasmine smiled and nodded. His tattoos didn't just have any meaning, they were what defined Lucas. She could totally see why he got them. "I've always wanted a tattoo to honor my parents, but I'm afraid to permanently ink my body. What if in a few years I'll regret getting the tattoo?"
"You can never be one-hundred percent sure you won't regret getting the ink, but when the tattoo itself has a meaning the chances are higher you won't regret it. I knew the moment I saw that eagle on my back that I made the right decision. I admit, it was painful and took a lot of time to get the tattoo done, but in the end it was more than worth it," Lucas ensured.
"Will you help me pick out the right tattoo and find the right person to do it?" Jasmine requested, looking hopeful. She'd never even set foot in a tattoo parlor, but she trusted Lucas would take care of her.
"If you're certain you want to do this, I'll even take you tonight. I know the perfect person to help you out," Lucas proposed.
"That sounds great, but I don't even know where I want the tattoo or what I want," Jasmine mumbled, suddenly hesitant.
"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone," Lucas quoted.
Jasmine stared at him, her mouth hanging slightly agape before she furiously started to nod. "That's beautiful," she exclaimed, looking at Lucas in wonder. He kept surprising her.
"That's what the tattoo on my neck would've read if you'd decided you could never forgive me," Lucas confessed, his eyes dead serious.
"What?" Jasmine mumbled, dumbfounded. He would've tattooed those beautiful words on his body if she'd ended their relationship for good?
"You're the light guiding me in the darkness that's surrounded me for years, princess. I'd never be the same without you," Lucas admitted, closing his eyes, his features turning in a tortured frown. "You don't even realize how much you mean to me," he mumbled, opening his blue orbs and staring into hers.
Tears pricked in the back of Jasmine's eyes, Lucas had rendered her absolutely speechless. "I love you, so much," Lucas muttered, the words sounding hoarse and filled with emotion.
It wasn't the first time he proclaimed his love for her, but somehow it seemed much more intense than the last time. Jasmine never expected to feel this way about anyone. It overwhelmed her, made her feel scared and excited all at the same time.
"I love you too," she whispered, her voice husky with emotions. Lucas just stared at her for a moment, his face impassive before he jumped up and tackled her on her back, his body hovering over hers. The kiss that followed was filled with passion and intensity. Jasmine honestly felt like she was drowning in an endless ocean of love, pulled under the waves, her lungs burning and body ablaze.
"I love you," she repeated, a little louder this time when Lucas finally pulled back and came up for air. A lone tear rolled down Jasmine's cheek as her eyes locked with Lucas', the adoration and love visible in his gentle gaze. They stared at each other for what seemed like hours, a bond forming between them, an understanding. In that moment Jasmine knew for sure she'd never love a person like she loved Lucas. There simply wasn't any place left in her bursting full heart. He filled every pore of her body, owned every piece of her heart and was embedded in her soul.