The more they started hanging out, the more Jasmine realized that she didn’t want Leo to leave, and was, in fact, scared of what could happen when he did. Any time he left her apartment to go home, she felt as though Ethan was going to barge into her apartment and hurt her all over again, which was a terrifying thought as she laid in her bed.
Even as she fell asleep, she was tense and had difficulty relaxing. As she slept, she had nightmares of Ethan breaking her door down, a la The Shining, and poking his head in, saying, “Hello, bitch.”
When she woke up in a cold sweat, she decided to take a shower, hoping that the warm water would help her body relax. It didn’t work, and she sat on the floor of the shower, the hot water pouring over her, as she cried through a panic attack.
She managed to turn the water off and get dry before she texted Leo.
>>> Jasmine: I don’t know if you’re asleep but I’m freaking out and idk what to do
She stared at the screen as she waited for a response, but when she didn’t get it within thirty seconds, she set her phone down and wrapped herself in her blanket. Soon after, though, she heard her phone vibrate and she picked it up as quickly as she could, fumbling in her efforts and nearly dropping her phone as she did so.
>>> Leo: What’s wrong???
>>> Jasmine: I’m just scared
>>> Leo: Of what??
>>> Jasmine: If Ethan comes back
>>> Leo: Your door is locked, right?
>>> Jasmine: Yeah
>>> Leo: Okay, so you should be okay
>>> Jasmine: I know that but it still doesn’t help me feel better
>>> Leo: Would it help if I came back?
>>> Jasmine: Yeah
>>> Leo: Or how about you come over here? He doesn’t know where I live, maybe you’ll feel better being away from your place
>>> Jasmine: Yeah, I guess
>>> Leo: Okay, so you come over here and it’ll be fine
>>> Jasmine: Thank you
>>> Jasmine: Wait, did I wake you up???
>>> Leo: Yeah but it’s fine, you just come over and we’ll go back to sleep
>>> Jasmine: Okay thanks Leo
>>> Leo: I’ll see you in twenty?
>>> Jasmine: Yes
Immediately, she put on a jacket and some shoes, grabbed her purse, and left her building, driving slightly faster than she would have under normal circumstances. Once she reached Leo’s place, she knocked on the door and rushed inside the moment the door opened.
“Min, are you okay?” he asked, closing and locking the door behind her.
“I just- I had a really bad dream, I can’t quite shake it,” she said as she sat on his couch.
Leo sat down next to her and said, “You’re awake and also far away from your place.”
Jasmine nodded and let out a long sigh. “Yeah, I know. You’re right. Thank you.”
“No problem,” he said. “Is there anything else that you need? Water, maybe?”
“No, I think I just need to sleep. Do you mind if- I mean, if it’s not too weird, can we just go to bed? I know we have before, but I don’t-”
“Stop, Min. Of course you can sleep in my bed,” he interrupted. “You want me there too?”
She nodded and almost started crying, her eyes welling up with tears, but she quickly wiped them away and took a deep breath. “Yes, please.”
“Let’s go,” he said, holding his hand out to her and leading her to the bed, where he held her close underneath the covers.
Unlike the first time that night, Jasmine fell asleep a lot more quickly and a lot more soundly, while Leo happily buried his nose into her hair and inhaled the scent of her shampoo. Although he had been fairly relaxed before, holding her in his arms felt right and he slept with a smile on his face.
In the morning, it was Jasmine who woke up first. As she lay in bed, wrapped in the warmth of Leo’s arms and hearing his light snoring in her ear, she smiled. Although she was unable to go back to sleep, she was more than content to lay in bed and wait for Leo to wake up, and she didn’t have to wait long.
When he finally roused, he moaned in her ear and said, “You smell good.”
Jasmine laughed and turned around to face him. “You’re weird.”
“That’s totally fine, but you still smell good,” he said. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” she said.
“How are you feeling?”
“Much better,” she said, smiling even wider. “This helped so much, thank you, Leo.”
He nodded and said, “Yeah, of course.”
“I think it’s just hard to stay in my apartment without someone there with me,” she said, averting her eyes from his, only to stare at his mouth instead. Once she realized where she was looking, she looked away entirely.
“You know, you don’t have to stay there, right?”
“Yeah, but it’s not like I can crash at your place every night,” she said.
“Because that’s not how adulthood works.”
Leo shrugged. “Isn’t it? You literally can do whatever you want.”
Jasmine furrowed her brows. “No, that’s not true. I can’t just go out and rob a bank.”
“I mean, you could, it’s just not a great idea.”
She laughed and nudged him with her foot. “You’re dumb.”
“Oh, my god, how is your foot still freezing?” he asked her, jerking at the contact from her toes. “You are a literal ice cube, it’s concerning.”
“I have poor circulation, sue me.”
She laughed even harder and pressed her toes up against him again. “Is it really that bad?”
“Yes!” Leo squirmed away from her foot and started tickling her, stopping only when she moved her foot further up his leg.
Once they had stopped laughing, Jasmine looked at him and asked, “Do you really want me crashing at your place every night?”
“Yeah, why not? You know how I feel about you, I’m definitely not going to be turning you away if you want to stay here. Whatever you’re comfortable with,” he said. “You don’t have to.”
She bit her lip as she thought about it. “You do know that we’re not-”
“We’re not dating, I know.”
She took a deep breath. “I’ll stay here.”
“Good,” he said.
The next two weeks established a routine for Jasmine and Leo: they slept in the same bed, woke up to Jasmine’s alarm, and alternated their turns in the shower. Whoever was waiting made the coffee and some sort of breakfast. When Jasmine left for work, Leo would be studying for his classes, determined to finish out the term with good grades. He’d go to class, then come home and make food, which would be ready by the time Jasmine got home. She would clean up the dishes, they’d watch television and talk about their days, and then they’d go to bed.
At the end of the second week, Alex had invited her over for dinner, and when she got there, she was confused by the sight of a circle of chairs in his living room. “What’s going on?”
“This is an intervention, Jas,” Henry said as he took his seat. “Sit down.”
“An intervention? About what? I haven’t even done anything,” she said.
As Alex, Theo, Lacey, Caitlin, and even Eliza sat down, Alex said, “You’re living with your ex-boyfriend.”
“Wait, hold on, that’s not fair,” Jasmine said.
Eliza sat down next to her and said, “Babe, just accept it. This is happening.”
“You’re all the worst.”
“And we care about you,” Theo said. “I think maybe Alex should go first.”
Alex nodded and stood up from his chair. “As much as I hate to say it, you’re living with Leo and it’s absolute bullshit.”
Theo’s face lost all composure and she smacked his arm. “Dumbass. That’s not how you say it.”
“How else am I supposed to say it?” he asked her.
“Not like that!”
Eliza rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, how about this, you are in love with Leo and you just need to admit it instead of continuing to live in his apartment and pretend that you’re not dating.”
Jasmine raised her eyebrows. “Say what now?”
“You’re basically that couple that makes everyone want to gag, except you’re not even dating, and it’s really weird,” Henry said.
“Yes, exactly,” Alex said. “Isn’t that kinda what I said?”
Theo shook her head. “Not at all.”
“I mean, kinda?” Henry said, shrugging. “But anyway, I think if you’re going to be staying over at Leo’s place all the time, you might as well just start dating him again.”
“Am I not allowed to have guy friends?” Jasmine asked.
“Not if those guy friends happen to be in love with you,” Eliza said.
Lacey cleared her throat and said, “I agree. If you’re not going to date him, staying at his place is just a disaster waiting to happen.”
“But I’m not in love with him!” Jasmine insisted. “We’re just friends.”
Eliza shook her head. “You’ve been spending all your time with him, and when you broke up with Ethan, who was the first one you called? Leo. You’re in love with him, you’re just in denial.”
“If it makes you feel better, I was in denial for a long time about Henry,” Caitlin said. “Once I finally admitted it, though, things got a lot better.”
“Babe, even though you’re my fiancée, that’s still not great to hear,” Henry said, leaning over towards Caitlin.
She patted him on the shoulder and said, “I said ‘yes,’ you can stop pouting.”
Jasmine groaned before she said, “You’re all the worst. If we’re not going to watch movies and eat, I’m going to go home.”
“Home, or to Leo’s?” Eliza asked with a wink.
“Uh-huh, sure,” Alex said. “Tell Leo ‘hi’ for me.”
Before anyone else could say anything, Jasmine left Alex’s apartment and walked out to her car. They were right, she had been spending all of her time with Leo, but even if she were in love with him, which she wasn’t, she would know it before they would, right? At least, that’s what she tried to convince herself as she drove back to Leo’s apartment.
When she walked through the door, she saw him passed out on the couch, the television on but not playing anything, and she had to stifle her laughter. It was, after all, only seven.
She let him sleep for a little while before she sat down on the couch next to him and shook him awake. “Hey, wake up.”
“Mmph, what?” he groaned, not bothering to open his eyes.
“You know there’s a bed less than ten feet away?”
She nudged him and said, “Come on, just go to bed.”
He shook his head. “No.”
Jasmine laughed and stood up. “Okay, fine, the bed’s all mine.”
Just as she tried to walk away, Leo’s eyes snapped open and he grabbed her wrist, pulled her back down to the couch, and then lounged himself on top of her, using her as a pillow. “You’re not going anywhere, Min.”
“I can just roll on top of you and then go to bed, you know,” she said as she attempted to maneuver out from beneath him.
“Nope, you’re too comfy.”
She laughed and relaxed her body. “Fine. We can stay here for a little while longer, but I do want to sleep in a bed, not on the couch.”
“Wait, what time is it?” he asked.
With a groan, Leo got up and looked at her. “Then why are you back so early?”
Jasmine sat up and rolled her eyes. “I left. They were being stupid.”
“They were giving me shit for staying at your place,” she said.
Leo raised an eyebrow and asked, “What do you mean?”
“They held an intervention and were saying that I shouldn’t stay here unless we’re dating again,” Jasmine said.
“Gotcha. I mean, you know I’m not opposed, but you can stay here as long as you like.”
She smiled and nodded. “I know. Thank you. I just need some time.”
Leo tried not to put too much hope into her words, but he couldn’t help it. If she wanted to spend time with him, that was enough, even if he dreamt of kissing her lips once more. “Take all the time you need, Min.”
“Dear Lionel, you’re too good to me.”
Jasmine had known Leo for six years and had spent all six of it hating him, until her ninth grade English class, where they were reading Romeo and Juliet and he had been put in the role of Romeo. As he read the lines for the character, Jasmine’s eyes glazed over and she imagined herself in Juliet’s shoes, being told in the most romantic way possible that he was in love with her.
She wasn’t Juliet, but as she listened to Leo’s Romeo, Jasmine wished that she were. Amanda, who hadn’t spoken to her since seventh grade, was assigned the role. Before the roles had been assigned, their teacher, Mrs. Barrett had asked for volunteers, and of course Amanda had quickly raised her hand for Juliet. When none of the boys had volunteered for Romeo, she had randomly assigned it to Leo, which is when half the class sighed in disappointment at the fact that they didn’t get to play Juliet.
As they recited the lines, Jasmine watched Leo reading. His face was so expressive and he had the amusing habit of talking with his hands, so while he was reading some of the most romantic lines that she had ever heard, he also reminded her of an Italian mobster.
At the end of class, Leo had quickly packed up and left the room, but Jasmine was still sitting in her seat and imagining what it would be like to be the Juliet to his Romeo. She also immediately wanted to throw herself off the roof for having such thoughts about Leo Mathers.
She left the classroom, rushing to her next class, and nearly bumped into him. “Oh, um, sorry.”
“You all right?” he asked.
With a nod and a blush spreading across her face, Jasmine said, “Yeah, fine. See you.”
Leo had, of course, noticed Jasmine watching him during class, but he wasn’t sure why she was acting so weird. She had been staring at him, or maybe past him, with such an odd expression that he stumbled over the words a couple times. Whatever she was thinking, it was a mystery to him.
When Leo made doughnuts for the third time that week, Jasmine decided to confront him. “What the hell are you doing? I’m not going to be able to fit into my pants if you keep making these.”
“Why? They’re delicious and you know that already.”
Leo sighed and said, “Because I’m starting my apprenticeship tomorrow. I’m nervous.”
Jasmine’s eyes widened and she said, “Oh, my god! That’s awesome, Leo. Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”
“Because I didn’t know for sure if they would take me on,” he said. “I asked them about two weeks ago and they said they’d get back to me. They called and said they were willing to start my training this week.”
He nodded and smiled a little bit. “Yeah. I mean, that doesn’t mean I’ll just magically be able to open my own shop, but it’s a start.”
“That’s amazing,” she said before she gave him a big hug. “I’m proud of you, Lionel.”
“You really do need to stop making doughnuts though. It’s becoming a problem.”
He shrugged and said, “You could always take them to work or to your parents’ house or something.”
Jasmine shook her head. “Nope, not happening. I’m eating them, but I’m just going to complain at you when my clothes don’t fit anymore.”
“I think so.”
He held another doughnut out to her. “Want one?”
When Alex and Theo held their next movie night, Jasmine had called three separate family members to confirm that it was, in fact, a movie night and not another intervention. “I swear, if I see you in another chair circle, I will never step foot in your apartment again, Alexander.”
“Ooh, that’s gross,” he said. “Don’t call me that.”
“Then stop trying to intervene!”
He cleared his throat and said, “Yeah, fair enough. See you tonight?”
“Yeah, sure. Bye.”
The movie of choice for the night was a terrible film called Troll 2, and Theo had insisted that everyone be subjected to it. The premise of the movie was that a family does a house swap and end up in a town full of vegetarian goblins, and it was just as awful as advertised.
When the movie was over, Jasmine was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe, while Leo was staring at the TV screen as the credits rolled in horror. Theo had the biggest shit-eating grin on her face and Alex was laughing at Leo’s expression.
“Why would you make me watch that with my own eyes?” Leo asked.
“As opposed to whose eyes?” Alex asked, making Jasmine laugh even harder.
When Jasmine caught her breath, she asked, “And what about that- that corn scene?”
Everyone promptly devolved into hysterical laughter while Theo got up to get some water. While she rummaged through the cabinet for a water glass, she accidentally knocked a small pill bottle out of the cabinet and into the sink. When she picked it up and looked at its contents, Alex’s face was immediately sobered, and he stood up from the couch.
“Babe, what is this?” Theo asked.
He grimaced and said, “I was gonna wait, but I mean, if you-”
“No, no, get over here.”
Alex walked over to her and took the pill bottle from her, opened it, and dropped a ring into his palm before getting down on one knee. “Theodora Gray, you are, without a doubt, my favorite person. I’ve loved you for five years, and I didn’t expect to be doing this tonight, but oh well. Theo, will you marry me?”
Rather than answering him, Theo immediately bent over and kissed Alex with such force that he fell backwards onto the floor. They continued to make out for some time, and eventually Leo cleared his throat and asked, “Wait, so are you two just gonna have sex on the kitchen floor or are we going to hear an actual verbal answer?”
“It’s a yes,” Theo said once she pulled away from Alex. “Definitely.”
Jasmine got up from the couch and moved to give both her cousin and Theo big hugs. “Congratulations! It’s about time, honestly.”
“Congrats, man,” Leo said while he hugged Alex.
“Thank you,” Alex said, a huge, goofy grin spreading across his face.
As Theo pushed the ring onto her finger, she looked down at it in awe. “This ring is huge, babe. How long have you had this thing?”
“About a year. I’ve been waiting for the right time,” he said.
“Well, it was perfect.” She kissed him and then said, “I love you.”
As Jasmine watched the couple, she felt a tingle go along her spine, and it took a second for her to realize that Leo had put his hand at the small of her back. She looked up at him, smiling, and nearly leaned in to kiss him, but she stopped herself. Old habits and all.
There was an engagement party a week later, where both Theo and Alex’s families joined together to celebrate the future union of the couple. Jasmine had, of course, attended with Leo, who had been even more attentive than usual, and when she had decided to wear her purple dress, he had happily mentioned that it was his favorite from the wedding weekend.
“I know, I remember,” she had told him. “That’s why I chose it.”
“Minnie, dear, are you trying to impress me?” he teased.
Jasmine winked at him and said, “Maybe. Is there something wrong with that, dear Lionel?”
With a shake of his head, he said, “Not at all. I will gladly stare at you in that dress all night long, and there’s nothing that will be able to stop me.”
She blushed rather severely at that comment, but she had, indeed, chosen the dress to get his attention. Even though she was too shy to say as much, Jasmine had been considering her family’s words when they had accused her of being in love with Leo. She didn’t want to admit it, but they were right. She was definitely in love with him.
When they got to the party, they were quickly approached by Alex and Theo, who seemed desperate to escape various other family members, who were already asking about when they were going to have kids.
“How am I supposed to tell my great-grandmother that I don’t want children?” Theo frantically whispered to them. “This is so bad, guys. I can’t lie to her, but I definitely can’t tell her the truth. It’ll literally kill her.”
Alex rubbed her shoulders and then said, “Just say that I’m shooting blanks.”
“But then they’ll bring up alternative methods of having kids,” she whined.
Jasmine tried to be comforting, but all she managed to say was, “Good luck.”
Leo was equally unhelpful and just passed a glass of champagne over to Theo and said, “Bottoms up, Theo.”
While Jasmine and Leo had opted to dance, Leo pulled her close and she felt a pleasurable shiver go down her spine when he brought his lips down to her ear and said, “You look so beautiful, Min.”
“Thanks,” she said, burying her face into his chest with a smile.
“Also, is it just me, or are people staring at us?”
People were, indeed, staring. Once their dance was over, family members from Theo’s side approached them and made comments, all along the lines of ‘you’re such a beautiful couple,’ and Jasmine was forced to answer, with an ever-increasing blush, “Oh, um, actually, we’re just friends.”
She forced herself to avoid eye contact with Leo in those moments, but he soon pulled her aside and said, “You know, I didn’t want to push my luck over the last few weeks, but can I just ask you something?”
“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “What is it?”
“You know I love you. I always have, on some level at least, and being apart from you was unbearable, especially after I realized just how much I loved you. Then you came back to me and I have been so happy, it’s hard to even think straight sometimes,” he said. “So, all that to say, my question is, will you please be my girlfriend again? For real this time.”
Jasmine smiled involuntarily and she nodded, quickly disregarding self-control to pull Leo in for a deep kiss. When they pulled apart, she said, “Yes.”
“I love you,” he repeated, the smile on his face spreading even wider.
“I love you too.”
Though they had felt like it was a private moment, what neither Jasmine nor Leo realized was that Theo and Alex were in close enough proximity to eavesdrop, so as soon as they heard the confessions of love, Alex popped into view, grabbed his best friend and cousin by the shoulders, and said, “Finally.”
“Alex, what in the hell?” Jasmine said, shoving his hand off her.
“I realize tonight is supposed to be for me and Theo, but oh my god, I was right and it’s so much better than any stupid party,” Alex said.
Theo snorted and rolled her eyes. “If I didn’t know you so well, I’d probably be offended. But also, I’m very happy for you guys.”
Leo smiled and put his arm over Jasmine’s shoulders. “Thanks. I’m just glad it’s for real this time.”
“Nothing!” Jasmine said, pulling Leo away and whispering, “I don’t think Theo knew that part.”
With a grimace, he said, “Oops. I’m surprised Alex didn’t tell her.”
“I know, right? Oh well, she knows now.”
The rest of the night, the newly-established couple kept finding reasons to sneak away from the party to make out, and managed to go nearly the whole night before they were caught by Jasmine’s grandmother. “Don’t mind me. You two are back together?”
“Yep. Hi, Gran,” Jasmine said, her face turning a bright red.
“Nice to see you again, Mary,” Leo said with a small wave.
Mary smiled at them and said, “You might want to find a new hidey-hole, kids. Rich is coming this way and I don’t think he’ll be as calm about this as I am.”
Jasmine nodded. “Good call. Thanks, Granny.”
Rather than stick around any longer, they decided to tell everyone goodbye and headed back to Leo’s place. As soon as they stepped through the doorway, Jasmine decided to take the initiative, and she closed the door, backed up against it, and pulled Leo in for a kiss.
He laughed against her mouth while his hands wrapped around her waist and pulled her close. “Couldn’t wait until we got to the bedroom, huh?”
“Why bother waiting?” she asked just before she lightly nibbled on his bottom lip, making Leo groan with need.
“You’re going to be the end of me,” he whispered, pushing his groin against her so she could feel his arousal.
There was a mischievous look in her eyes as she asked, “Who says you’ll even get that lucky?”
“Babe, you’re gonna regret asking that when I make you beg,” he chuckled. When he kissed her this time, he used his hand to start unzipping her dress and he continued to grind against her, eliciting a soft moan from Jasmine.
They teased one another up against the door until someone in the hall slammed their own door. With that, Leo lifted Jasmine and she wrapped her legs around his waist while he carried her to his bed, where he carefully set her down on the mattress without breaking their kiss.
As they kissed, their hands wandered over each other’s bodies and Leo managed to pull her dress down and toss it aside, while Jasmine had unbuttoned his shirt and shoved it off his shoulders. Once more of her skin was revealed, his mouth began to roam from her mouth to her neck, her chest, and between her thighs. As much as she squirmed, though, he refused to pull her underwear off or to the side, deciding instead to tease her over her underwear and causing a wet patch to spread.
“Leo, please,” she said with a moan as his teeth lightly dug into her thigh.
“Begging already?” he asked with a smile.
She whined when he slid his finger under the fabric of the underwear, pulled it to the side, and blew cool air onto her wetness. “I can’t wait. Please…”
He pressed his lips to her sensitive nub and kissed it. “You want more?”
“Mhm,” she nodded, biting her lip.
“Why should I give it to you, Min?” he asked, pressing another light kiss to her and then pulling her underwear off completely.
“Because I- I love you?”
He slid his finger close to her hole, and she squirmed trying to have him fill her, but he refused, thoroughly enjoying her reactions and also eager to hear those words again. “What was that?”
Jasmine let out a desperate moan, “I love you.”
He slid his finger inside her ever so slightly, but refused to move it in any way. “Tell me again.”
“I love you.” She was panting as she spoke, and she let out another moan when he quickly pulled his finger out, then pushed it further in.
Every time she told him that she loved him, his fingers slid in and out of her, until eventually she was incapable of talking. His mouth latched onto her clit and he sucked on it until her body clenched up, she convulsed, and she screamed silently with an orgasm. She collapsed onto the bed for a moment, but she pulled Leo up for a kiss, then rolled them over so that she was on top.
Once she was straddling him, she rolled her hips and smiled triumphantly when he groaned and then gripped her hips to help her grind on him. She felt his length twitching from the confines of his pants, but she moved just slowly enough that it was torturous. As she continued to grind, she bent over and bit at the cord of his neck. “See? I can tease too.”
“We’ll see about that,” he said before rolling them over again, then using one of his hands to pin hers above her head. With his free hand, he unbuttoned his pants, pushed them down, and then started moving his hand between her slick folds. “You’re so wet for me, baby, I just want to fill you up.”
His arousal throbbed at her words, but he held off. “Not yet.”
Jasmine whined and strained against his grip on her hands. “Please?”
“Not yet,” he said, shaking his head at her and smiling. “I think I just want to see how long you can wait for it.”
Leo kept her hands restrained as he used his other hand to tease her, bringing her close to the brink of an orgasm, but then stopping just before she could get the relief. After the fourth near-orgasm, Jasmine was close to tears, and she bucked against his every touch.
“Please, I need it,” she said. “Fuck me, Leo. I need you.”
Finally, he nodded and slid his length inside of her, which triggered an immediate orgasm for her as he began to pump in and out of her. He released her hands and focused his attention on every wave of pleasure that passed over her until he, too, reached a release.
When he pulled out and collapsed next to her on the bed, he chuckled and said, “No more going four months without sex.”
Jasmine furrowed her brow. “It hasn’t really been four months, has it?”
“Just about,” he said. “The wedding was in June, it’s October.”
“Wow,” she said quietly, just before she pressed a kiss to his skin and moved closer to cuddle. “I didn’t realize it had been that long since you and I- well, you know.”
Leo smiled. “Since we what?”
She nudged him and started laughing. “Since we had sex last time, you absolute ass.”
“Oh, that,” he teased. “Yeah, that’s been four very long months.”
With another kiss, Jasmine said, “That won’t happen again.”