Delicate Hearts

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Chapter 5: Foolish Little Girl

A bunch of trash was strewn through the room, covering every inch of the kitchen. Empty cups, used condoms, shattered bottles of booze and on and on. Jasmine didn't even want to face the yard, which probably looked ten times worse. "Houston, we have a problem!" she called out, shaking her head as she eyed the hideous sight. Her stomach convulsed.

Nathan came strolling into the room, his eyes still sleepy as he looked around and yawned. When his mind processed what he was seeing, his eyes almost popped out of their sockets. "Shit!" he cursed, rubbing his head. He looked extremely hungover, his face pale and his eyes bloodshot. Suddenly Jasmine was happy she'd turned in early last night. Apparently the party had gone a little overboard.

"You don't look too good," Jasmine teased as she started to pick up a few empty cups, leaving the condoms for Nate and Lucas to clean up. Eew. Eew. Eew.

"I don't feel too good, either," Nathan admitted sheepishly as he helped her out.

"Where's that lazy ass brother of yours?" she questioned when she filled her first sack of garbage. Gabriella and Frank were due to arrive at noon. They went to see Frank's mother. Nate told her, usually the entire family had to join on the trip, but because it was a school day they left their kids at home – foolishly trusting them not to take advantage of their absence.

"College. He left early this morning," Nathan replied, rolling his eyes. "He's badass enough to smoke cigarettes and drive a Harley, but he refuses to skip even one day of classes. That guy is a true enigma." Jasmine's eyes grew wide at the newly discovered information. She had no idea Lucas took school seriously. Certainly not after hearing Gabriella talk on and on about how he was throwing away his future.

"He acts like he doesn't give a shit about anything, but behind my parents back, he goes to class and actually tries to keep his grades up. They're just disappointed that he didn't want to become a doctor and chose accounting instead. To my parents, Lucas will always be a failure as long as he doesn't study medicine," Nathan clarified, sounding a little distraught. "There have been lots of fights about his choice of occupation, but Lucas just likes numbers better than operating on people."

The two of them stayed silent after that little revelation and kept on cleaning the house. Jasmine's mind was clouded with thoughts of Lucas. She felt kind of bad for him. No matter how great Gabriella and Frank were, they should never have pushed their son into doing something he didn't want to do. Lucas hadn't failed in life simply because he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps.

"Can I ask you why the two of you are so different? It seems so weird, taking in consideration you're brothers that grew up together," Jasmine asked carefully. She didn't know whether it was a touchy subject to Nathan or not and didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable.

"If you ever want to know something, you never have to be afraid to ask," Nathan stated seriously as he quit working for a moment to look her in the eye. "To answer your question, we used to be close," he started as he recommenced his work.

"I guess I don't really know what made us grow apart. Lucas has changed a lot over the years. It's difficult to believe nowadays, but he was once a pretty good guy and a good brother. He went through some stuff, started smoking and doing drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd, stuff like that. He just completely transformed into this emotionless asshole," he explained, sounding disappointed.

"Deep down he might still be the brother he once was to you," Jasmine remarked as she looked for the floor cloth in the broom closet to start cleaning the tiles.

Nathan snorted in derision. "I don't think so. Lucas is pretty much a heartless bastard. Otherwise he wouldn't act the way he does," Nathan disagreed pessimistically. Jasmine begged to differ. The guy that showed concern over her crying and woke her up in the middle of the night to give her a half ass apology did have a pretty big heart. He just seemed lost and misunderstood. Maybe Lucas would never change back to the person he once was, but you could never change who a person was at heart. If he once had been kindhearted, there was a pretty big chance he still was.

"You could be wrong," she told him, feeling like she had to defend Lucas. How bad had everything turned if even his own brother didn't believe in Lucas anymore?

"I don't think so, Jas. It's honorable that you still believe in the good of other people, no matter the wrongs they have committed, but Lucas is a lost cause. Don't put your energy into trying to save him. He doesn't want to be rescued. Believe me, I tried and failed," Nathan stated fiercely, shaking his head.

"How can you be so sure he's unsavable? To me, it just looks like he has lost faith in himself," Jasmine argued, feeling mixed up. Part of her understood Nathan's explanation and wanted to blame Lucas for everything that had happened because of his behavior. Yet, at heart she still believed he was a good person. He might have tormented her, but there was so much more about him than his anger issues.

Despite the tragedies in her life, Jasmine still believed there was good in every person. It was something her grandma taught her. Dividing the world into good and bad people was just too easy, every person has the capacity for both inside them. Everyone makes mistakes. The dark path can lead even the best of people astray and supposed dark souls can be brought back into the light if someone cares enough to fight for them. People who see everything in black and white are just incredibly pessimistic and narrow minded.

"Because he had sex with my girlfriend in my room while he knew how fucking much I loved her!" Nathan suddenly exclaimed, kicking the leg of the nearest barstool. The piece of wood fell over with a loud thud as it came crashing down the floor.

"Oh," Jasmine breathed stupidly, her eyes widening at his admission.

"I had been trying to get Lucas to talk to me, did everything I could think of including locking him up in his room without cigarettes and booze to get him to sober up and realize how foolish he had been acting. Instead of getting his mind out of the gutter, he climbed out of his window and disappeared for three days. When he finally returned, I found him lying in bed with my girlfriend, the both of them stark naked. When he walked out of the room he told me that's what happened to nosy people that minded other people's business."

"I'm so sorry, Nate," Jasmine said, touching his arm softly. His jaw was tense as he was reminded of the demons of the past.

"Don't apologize to me, Jas. You haven't done anything wrong. Just promise me you won't let Lucas ruin you. He has this bad habit of dragging people along with him to the dark side," he joked humorlessly, clearly still pining over the girl that cheated on him.

"I won't let that happen," she pledged as she took Nathan's hand and laid it on her chest on top of her rapidly beating heart.

He nodded, but didn't say another word as they worked together to get the house as clean as possible.

"Jasmine? Honey, why are you not at school today?" Gabriella asked worriedly as she noticed her newest family member sitting in the living room watching television.

Jasmine shrieked at the sound of Gabriella's voice, cursing herself for forgetting she should have been at school today. Nathan and she had ended up cleaning the house for about five hours before everything was finally done. They'd already missed half a day of school and decided to just skip the entire day to rest. Nathan was still pretty hung over.

"I wasn't feeling too well this morning and decided to take a day off," she lied through her teeth, shrinking down in the couch. It was the best lie she could come up with that quickly. She never had been a great liar.

"Oh honey!" Gabriella said worriedly, the mother hen inside of her taking over control. "How are you feeling right now? Shall I ask Grace to make you some chicken soup?" she questioned as she felt Jasmine's head to make sure she didn't have a fever.

"I'll be fine. It's just all the stress and fatigue piling up and coming out I guess," she contrived as she quickly pulled back from Gabriella's touch. She appreciated the woman's concern, but there was no need to go overboard.

"You should have told me you weren't feeling well," the woman stated, looking a little hurt. "I will make sure you get some ginger tea. Just go upstairs and rest a little," she proposed.

"I will," Jasmine said as she ran up the stairs and walked into her room. Fuck. That had been a close call – way too close. Nathan would have murdered her if Gabriella had found out about the pool party they held during their absence. Lucas had made sure the staff had been gone by six PM the previous night and didn't start working until noon that day, including dear Grace. Everything had been mapped out perfectly to make sure no one would ever find out.

Sighing in relief, Jasmine laid down on top of the covers of her bed, staring mindlessly at the ceiling. She'd fucked up pretty bad last night. She should have never tried to get Lucas riled up like that. Her plan had backfired painfully and went completely wrong. It had been a stupid idea from the start.

Her grandmother would have killed her if she'd seen the outfit Jasmine had worn yesterday. It was so slutty and not like her at all. What on earth inspired her to act that irrationally? The only upside of the entire story was that Nathan failed to see her stupid little show, but he probably would hear about it during school though. Damn it.

A soft knock on her door startled her and Jasmine quickly hid underneath the covers as she called out for her visitor to enter. Gabriella entered the room, carrying a tray of cookies and freshly made tea. "I have to ask you what your favorite food is. Grace wants to cook something nice for you tonight," she explained as she put the tray down on the bedside table.

"I honestly don't care. I'm not picky," Jasmine replied as she poured herself a cup of tea. Her appetite might have been back, but she still wasn't ready to eat an entire buffet of different foods.

Gabriella nodded and smiled broadly. "You know, I've always wanted to have a daughter," she suddenly stated, her gaze dreamy. "Frank and I tried to have another baby after Nathan was born, but nature didn't want to grant our wish. I had a miscarriage and couldn't seem to find the courage to try to get pregnant again. The pain and guilt of losing my baby weighted too heavily," she explained, a single tear escaping the corner of her glazy eyes.

"I'm so sorry," Jasmine said, taken aback by Gabriella's honesty. The strong and 'happy go lucky' woman suddenly seemed so broken and small. Her eyes had grown darker, their depth immense as if she carried all the pain in the world on her shoulders.

On the outside, the Wood's seemed like the perfect little family. It hadn't taken long for Jasmine to realize it was nothing but a well-played scene. As every other family in the world, they carried their own battle scars and had their fair share of misfortunes.

Once again, Jasmine was reminded by how difficult it would be to stay unattached from this family. No matter how hard Jasmine tried to stay away from them and keep their relationship distant, she was growing to like her new family members. Their bond was still fragile, but Jasmine couldn't ignore the way she started to develop a liking towards Gabriella and Frank.

She didn't agree with their methods and disliked the way they pushed both their sons to become doctors, yet she knew they meant well. They simply had high expectations for their children. What they didn't realize was that they had pushed Lucas away from them with their high standards.

"It's okay. It's been a long time. I often still feel a little sad when I'm thinking about him or her, but what's done is done. I know I'm not the only woman who went through something similar, there are thousands of us out there. Losing my baby was the most painful thing I ever went through, but I should consider myself lucky. I still have two beautiful sons. Not every person is that lucky," Gabriella said with a watery smile.

"I don't want to insult you or anything, but why do you push your sons so hard? Why is it so important they study medicine and become successful doctors? Every profession has its own purpose and utility." It was a question Jasine had been desperate to ask.

"I know that. I don't feel like Lucas failed because he chose a different direction to follow. I simply want the best for my children and nothing less. I can see how much Frank loves his job. I thought my sons were destined to do the same thing. I realize now that Lucas was never meant to follow in his father footsteps. The reason why I am disappointed in him is because he's throwing his life away with the drinking and women, not because he chose a different profession," she explained, looking sorrowful.

"Have you ever told Lucas how you really feel?" Jasmine questioned, raising an eyebrow. She was surprised by Gabriella's answer. She had classified the woman as a snob, but apparently it was just over-protectiveness. The woman had tried to push her children into a certain direction to make sure they could live a prosperous life.

"I guess not. Lucas has been pulling away from me since the day he turned seventeen. I don't know what happened to him, but everything suddenly seemed to spin out of control. His grades went down, he started smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. He was making all the wrong decisions. I tried to get him back on track by being more controlling and making decisions for him. Instead of getting back the son I knew, I lost him altogether. He's changed so much, I can't even see my baby boy in him. Just a cold and strained young man."

Jasmine nodded, but didn't say another word. How was it possible for Jasmine to see the old Lucas resurfacing from time to time while his own family was blind to the golden heart hidden deep inside of him? They just saw the new and reckless Lucas, but didn't look any deeper. They claimed he was bad and a lost cause, but were apparently blind to any signs of goodness and the way he seemed to be hurting. Jasmine wasn't a psychologist, but this seemed to be a classic case of a cry for help.

She didn't know what happened to Lucas to turn him into the person he was today. One thing she was sure of, no one acted self-destructive without a reason. They wouldn't be able to heal Lucas as long as they didn't know what made him lash out in the first place.

As Jasmine stepped outside her room later that day, she noticed Lucas' door was standing slightly ajar. Surprise crossed her features as she slowly pushed the door wider open to reveal a shirtless Lucas lying on top of his bed, the covers wrinkled underneath his body. She gulped with difficulty, a lump forming in her throat as she eyed his well-defined body. Blushing slightly, she quickly adverted her eyes and tried to control her erratic breathing.

"You're actually staying in tonight? No looking for girls to fulfill your daily needs?" she joked, raising an eyebrow as she watched him in wonder, happily shocked he was having a night at home. Did he catch a fever or something?

Lucas' eyes shot up at the sound of her voice. He looked confused for a moment before his trademark smirk returned to its usual place. "Did I sense jealousy right there?" he asked cockily. She rolled her eyes at his comment and stepped inside of his room, closing the door behind her.

To be honest, she didn't have a clue what inspired her to come and talk to him in the first place. Maybe it was all the conversations about Lucas from earlier in the day with the Wood family. She just seemed to be drawn towards him, helpless to the intense pull. It had seemed like a good idea at first.

"Why are you staying home?" She repeated her earlier question, sincerely curious to know his answer. She hadn't even lived a week with these people, but she knew with certainty that Lucas rarely spent his nights at home.

"I didn't feel like picking up another stranger and having sex all night. I get bored from time to time," he replied, sighing as he laid back down. She raised an eyebrow in disbelief and sat down on the bed next to him with her back pressed against the wall.

Lucas looked at her questioningly as she got comfortable on the bed, but didn't comment. They sat next to each other in silence, the sole sounds in the room their steady breathing.

"Do you seriously want me to believe you get bored from having sex?" she asked, not bothering to hide her disbelief. He chuckled softly before replying.

"Not from having sex, princess. Never from having sex. Just from picking up strangers. Sometimes I just wish I could actually talk to any of them. Having sex doesn't always mean intimacy. Most of the times, I just act on autopilot," he explained. Jasmine's eyes widened at the same time his jaw clamped shut at his confession. She realized she'd never heard him talk that long at a time before without being rude or a jerk.

"You feel lonely," she told him, resting her hand against his tense upper arm. He inhaled deeply and looked down at her tiny hand on top of his arm, but didn't utter another word. She felt herself relax, relieved that he hadn't pulled away from her touch. She couldn't seem to figure him out and was always wary of his next move.

"I guess," he replied evenly, acting cool and unaffected. His eyes told her an entirely different story, however. They were wide as the ocean, unfocused and motionless as he processed her words. In that moment, he looked farther lost than she'd ever seen him. Jasmine knew it took a lot out of him to admit that out loud. Her heart told her to reach out and hug him, but her body refused the sentiment and stayed frozen in place.

"I don't think I will ever understand you," Jasmine muttered under her breath. She didn't mean for Lucas to hear her, but as he cracked a small smile, she knew he had.

"I never thought a little heart to heart conversation was all it would take to get you into my bed," Lucas smirked after a few heartbeats of silence, the cold look returning to his eyes as he let his gaze slid over the curve of her breasts. She had changed into her pajamas earlier that night and was currently wearing a pink 'Hello Kitty' top that revealed a nice amount of cleavage.

"Pervert," she exclaimed, hitting his arm before covering her chest with both her arms. "I would never willingly share a bed with you," she went on, her voice lacing with venom. She tried to get up and return to her room, but Lucas was on her in a flash, effectively blocking her path as he pushed her back against the wall. He pinned her arms on either side of her body, his nose inches away from touching hers.

"We both know you're lying, princess," he whispered dangerously close to her ear, his breathing tickling that sensitive spot across her neck. "You don't have to deny being attracted to me. Your secret's safe," Lucas told her as he softly started to nibble on her throat, his teeth grazing her mellow skin.

"Keep on dreaming!" she exclaimed, but her words lacked any force and sounded more like a whisper. Her mind screamed to fight Lucas' touch, but her body didn't seem to get the message as she was left immobilized. Her breathing sped up as he assaulted her tender skin with love bites. A low moan evaded her lips, that had been firmly pressed together, to keep more sounds from escaping.

"Let go of me," she hissed. Even with her arms pinned she managed to press her palms flat against his rippled chest. Instead of pushing him away from her like she had planned to, her fingers felt the warmth of his skin. She closed her eyes. Her entire body felt like it was on fire, liquid heat spreading through her veins as her vision started to blur.

"Tell me you don't want me," Lucas commanded, his voice seductive as his left hand freed her arm and wrapped itself around her waist to pull her closer into his chest. She let out a strangled cry, terrified off the feelings that coursed through her body, yet unable to stop him. Her mind struggled to process what was going on.

Both agony and pleasure ripped through her body as Lucas mouth started to trail lower down her chest. Before he could reach the V-cut of her tank top, she pulled him up by the hair and attacked his lips. When their mouths collided for the first time, she sighed in sheer delight and let his tongue enter the wet cavern of her mouth.

Lucas groaned against her lips, his right hand tangling in her ebony locks as his left one pulled her as close as humanly possible. She shrieked slightly as she felt his erection growing against her lower belly but didn't pull back from his kiss.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

The phone suddenly started ringing, making the two of them jump backwards as if they had been electrified. Jasmine banged her head painfully against the wall in the process. She rubbed the sore spot while Lucas quickly got up from the bed, both their eyes widened in horror when they realized what they had been doing.

Jasmine quickly casted her eyes down to the floor, avoiding his heated stare as her cheeks flushed bright red. She heard Lucas cursing under his breath before he picked up the phone. Oh my god. Oh my god, were the only words that kept echoing through her mind.

"Hello, baby," Lucas practically purred as he answered the call. Jasmine's eyes immediately darted up at his seductive tone. She cringed internally as she watched Lucas' trademark smirk make its way across his features.

"Of course, I've missed you," he went on, looking so full of himself that Jasmine's stomach started to convulse with repulsion. While talking to whatever bimbo he was on the phone with, he shot Jasmine a pleased look. She felt as if she was going to be sick any minute now.

Hurt, she quickly got up from the bed, cursing herself when she wobbled on her feet. As she crossed Lucas, he patted her on the buttocks, making her jump slightly. She shot him a warning stare, her eyes shooting daggers at him. On the inside she felt disgusted with herself, humiliated that not even a minute after the heated kiss they shared, Lucas was already talking to another girl.

"I'll see you in a few," Lucas said as he finished the call. By the time he put his phone away she had already fled his room, tears threatening to roll down her cheeks. She refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her hurt as she closed the door behind her.

What had possessed her to act so foolishly? She should have never kissed him. Seriously, what had she expected? Lucas was famous for his womanizing ways. She witnessed it numerous times in her short stay with the Wood family. Of course he wouldn't refuse a booty call when he got one, simply because they had been making out seconds before.

Nathan had warned her not to let Lucas get too close. She would solely be rewarded with pain and humiliation if she gave Lucas the chance to find a place in her heart.

Shaking her head in disappointment, both in herself and Lucas, she sat down on the edge of her bed. She refused to let Lucas ruin her night and crawled underneath the sheets. She had just started reading the book that had been lying on her bedside table when she heard the engine of a motorcycle roar.

Curiosity got the best of her and instead of continuing to read, she peeked through the curtains. As expected, Lucas was sitting on top of his Harley, ready to take off. She noticed he changed his attire and was currently wearing a pair of leather pants and onyx black shirt – his usual outfit when he went out to score a girl. Her heart constricted painfully in her chest as she clenched her hands to fists. Asshole.

Sighing, she crawled back into bed and closed her eyes. Her mind was too preoccupied to read. She tried to get some desperately needed sleep, but her eyes refused to close. Hours after Lucas had left the house, she was still wide awake, staring mindlessly at the ceiling. Both her mind and body were exhausted, yet she couldn't seem to find peace.

Glancing at the bedside table, she noticed it was past three o'clock in the morning. She considered going downstairs to watch some television, but decided it probably wasn't a good idea. She needed to rest before the sun started to rise, heralding a brand new day. A brand new day. Jasmine desperately needed to erase this one.

Fuck you, Lucas, were the last words on her mind as she finally tumbled into a dreamless slumber.

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