Students sat in their chairs, eagerly awaiting the bell to dismiss them, including Leo Mathers. It was a three-day weekend and all he wanted to do was leave for the Parkers’ house. Since neither of his parents felt the need to claim him for those three days, he was free to go where he chose, and he chose to hang out with his best friend.
The bell rang and he immediately jumped out of his seat and rushed for his locker. As he was working on his combination, a flash of red caught his eye, and he struggled not to follow the color. He knew exactly who it was, where she was going, and who she was with.
“Babe, why can’t you hang out at my house tonight?”
“It’s Thursday, Colby,” Jasmine said. “You know I have family dinner on Thursdays.”
Immediately, Leo felt the need to kick himself. Family dinners. He had forgotten that Alex’s family would be coming over for dinner. The only reason he had been allowed to stay that night was because the Parkers were hosting that week.
Colby sighed. “Okay, fine. Text me later.”
The sound of kissing reached Leo’s ears and he grimaced. It was not an unfamiliar sound, unfortunately. Colby had the unfortunate habit of over-salivating any kiss; it was a wonder that Jasmine could tolerate it.
“Bye,” Jasmine said before she turned to open her own locker. In her peripheral, she noticed Leo glancing in her direction, but she forced herself to keep looking forward.
The pair continued to actively ignore each other until they passed by one another and Leo said, “See you at dinner, I guess.”
She turned towards him, confused. “Wait, what? You’re coming to dinner?”
“I’m spending the weekend at Alex’s,” he said.
“I guess I’ll see you at dinner,” Jasmine said awkwardly.
A grand total of twenty-seven words exchanged between them and, somehow, they had managed to go the entire evening with even less:
“Can you pass the bread?”
When Jasmine had left the house, Leo had been utterly mortified. She only said three words to him while he had said a whopping seven. No wonder his chest tightened and his heart raced any time he saw her. Frustration, right?
Jasmine woke up with a sharp throbbing pain behind her eye, overheated and nauseous. As comfortable as she had been, cuddled up to Leo’s warm body, the heat was making the pain worse. What made it even worse was that the intensely bright bedside clock said it was only three forty-six in the morning.
As quickly and quietly as her body allowed, she pried herself out of Leo’s grasp and crawled out of bed, over to the bathroom. She went over to the toilet, lifted the lid, and laid down next to it, grateful that the tile floor was cold. The pain in her head was unbearable, and she involuntarily started to whimper and cry.
After about five minutes on the floor, the nausea still hadn’t gone away and had, in fact, gotten worse, so despite the dizziness it caused, Jasmine quickly sat up from the floor, hung her head over the toilet bowl, and started to throw up, which was not quiet.
“Min?” Leo’s voice said from the other room, clearly groggy. When she puked instead of answered, he shot out of bed and into the bathroom, where he found Jasmine. “Can I get you anything?”
She shushed him as one hand gripped her head. “Too loud. Excedrin and water, please.”
In a whisper, he asked, “Where’s the Excedrin?”
“Purse. Full bottle.”
He quickly obeyed and brought it over to her as quietly as he could, then went in search of a water bottle, only able to find them in the mini fridge. He quickly accepted his fate of paying the fee and gave it to the woman lying on the bathroom floor.
She sat up just enough to take a pill and drink a third of the bottle before she placed it sideways on the floor, laying down once more with the cool bottle resting at the back of her neck. As nice as it felt, though, the bottle was giving her chills. “Blanket, please.”
“Sure,” he whispered before fetching a blanket off their bed. “Anything else?”
Even though she was in pain, lying on the floor, waiting for her pain meds to kick in, Leo sat beside Jasmine, just in case. As the tears subsided and she stopped tensing her body as much, she sat up slowly, hesitantly opening her eyes.
“You didn’t go back to bed?” she asked.
“No, I never left,” he said. “You thought I’d just leave you like that?”
With a shrug, Jasmine nodded. “Yeah.”
He shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t do that. You didn’t hear me leave, did you?”
“No, my head was pounding too much, I thought maybe I just couldn’t hear you,” she said. “Thanks for getting this stuff for me.”
“Yeah, no problem,” Leo said before standing up and offering his hand to her. “Ready to come back to bed?”
She nodded and let him pull her up. “Almost. I need to brush my teeth.”
“Okay,” he said, rubbing circles into her back as she went through the process.
Once she finished, she mumbled, “I’m cold.”
“I got you.” Leo held her close as they slowly toddled over to the bed. “Just get under there and I’ll warm you up.”
“Okay,” she mumbled.
Once they crawled under the covers, Leo spooned Jasmine, stroking her arms to help distribute heat, and occasionally planting a kiss on her shoulder or the back of her neck.
The physical comfort plus the drug-induced pain-relief was doing wonders for her migraine and she let out a quiet moan while she wiggled closer to him. She nearly started laughing when she felt a twitch at the back of her thighs and realized what must have happened, but then she started focusing on Leo’s fingers tracing along her skin, his lips on the back of her neck, and she moaned once more.
Leo felt the strain in his pants when she moaned and he kissed the nape of her neck again, waiting to see what she would do. When she pushed her lower half against him again and moved to expose her neck further, he took the cue and lightly bit down on her shoulder while he moved a hand to her hip, rolling her towards him for a kiss.
While their kiss at the wedding had been more reserved and sweet, this one was intense and full of need. Jasmine’s hands pulled Leo closer and she shifted her body to face him, while he moved his tongue along her bottom lip and his hand traveled down her thigh and between her legs. With a gasp that turned into a moan, Jasmine opened her mouth and allowed Leo’s tongue entrance.
They kissed and allowed their hands to wander for a while before Leo pulled away slightly. “Do you want to?”
“Yes,” Jasmine said, nodding and planting soft kisses along his neck and collar bone. “Please, Leo.”
“Please, what?” He rolled his hips against her and she gasped. “What do you want?”
“I want- I want you,” she said between moans.
Leo brought his lips down her her ear, kissed it, then whispered, “Can I fuck you, Jasmine?”
She nodded and pulled at his pajama pants. “Fuck me. Please, fuck me.”
With those words, Leo began to kiss down Jasmine’s neck and his hand slid up her shirt to her chest, where he massaged her breasts and rolled her nipple in his fingers. Even though she kept pulling at him, Leo was determined to take it slow. He lifted her shirt over her head and threw it onto the floor before he brought his lips to one nub and sucked it into his mouth. When he was satisfied, he released it and blew cool air onto it, then switched over to the other breast to repeat the process while Jasmine squirmed beneath his touch.
Eventually, he moved his tongue down between her breasts and to her belly button, where he dipped his tongue in and then continued down. Once he got to her pajama pants, he pulled them down over her hips, along with her underwear, then pressed a kiss to the inside of her thigh.
Jasmine’s hands tangled in his hair and she moaned when he began to suck on her thigh. “Please, Leo. I need you.”
“Patience, Min,” he said, chuckling against her skin.
He began to slide his tongue higher until he reached her center, and she gasped at the contact. He flicked his tongue against her sensitive nub and slid a finger inside her, and began to pump in and out of her until her body convulsed and she let out a loud moan, curling her toes. He didn’t stop until she had collapsed back against the pillows, exhausted but desperate for more.
She pulled him up for a kiss, getting more turned on at the taste of herself on his lips, then used her hands to push his pajama pants down. “Please?”
Leo nodded and pushed inside of her, groaning when he felt the wet warmth squeezing around his shaft. They moved in sync with one another, kissing and interlocking their fingers, until they both felt their bodies explode with ecstasy.
He collapsed on top of her, shifting only so she could breathe, and pressed a kiss to her collarbone, while Jasmine smiled, closed her eyes, and said, “There goes another rule.”
“You’re bad at rules,” he teased.
“Fair enough,” she agreed with a laugh.
He moved his head to kiss her again and they settled into a comfortable spooning position before drifting back to sleep.
Although nobody else could see a difference in them the next morning at the post-wedding brunch, it was obvious to Astrid, who approached the couple with a smile on her face. “Something’s different.”
“What do you mean?” Leo asked while Jasmine’s face turned a bright red.
“You two just are giving off a different energy today,” she said. “Whatever it is, it’s clearly a good change. Keep doing whatever you’re doing.”
Jasmine nodded and let out a strained, “We’ll- we’ll try.”
When Astrid walked away, Leo leaned over and whispered in Jasmine’s ear, “It isn’t that obvious.”
“Your mother knew.”
“She’s just got a knack for stuff like that, recognizing when people are pregnant and stuff like that,” he said.
The look of panic on her face was immediate. “We didn’t use a condom.”
“Don’t worry. Aren’t you on birth control?”
He laughed and kissed her temple. “You’re so cute. How do you forget that?”
Jasmine chuckled and shrugged. “It’s been a while, I forgot.”
“Dork. So, we just have to get through the next few hours, then we’ll be on our way home,” Leo said before taking a sip of his coffee.
“Yeah,” she nodded, suddenly remembering that she was meeting with Alex later. “You think we’ll be back by three?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, probably. Why?”
“I just have to meet up with someone when we get back,” she said.
“Is it important?”
She made a so-so motion with her hand. “Ish? It’s family stuff.”
Leo scrunched up his brows. “Is everything okay? Your Gran?”
“Oh, no, it’s not Granny. She’s fine, unless something has happened that I don’t know about,” she said, suddenly getting concerned. “But no, it’s just stuff I need to talk to Alex about.”
“I could go with you?” he offered.
With a smile, Jasmine shook her head. “Thanks but no. And besides, you hang out with Alex more than enough anyway.”
“Okay,” he said. “If that’s what you want, Min.”
After a long drive back home, Leo dropped Jasmine off at her apartment and she immediately drove over to Alex’s place, then used her key to get inside. “Alex, it’s me!”
“In the kitchen!” he called back to her. When she found him, he asked, “What the hell is so important, Jas?”
With a deep breath, Jasmine just let it all pour out without any prelude. “It’s about Leo. It’s all fake. We’re not really dating.”
“After the elevator, we met up for coffee and started talking and somehow, we got to the subject of my dating life, and then Leo suggested that we start a fake relationship so that you guys would get off my back and he’d have a legitimate date to the wedding yesterday,” she said. “I don’t know.”
Alex groaned and said, “I need to sit down.”
“So, let me get something straight, you’re pretending to date my best friend so we stop bothering you about being single?” he asked once he was sitting on a kitchen stool. When she nodded, he said, “Okay, well, kudos, I guess. It worked.”
“Yep. Except we slept together,” she said, her voice getting quiet and her eyes looking down at the floor as she spoke.
Jasmine took a deep breath. “I didn’t plan for this. We had rules, but, I don’t know, last night, we-”
Alex held his hand up and interrupted. “Hold on, wait a second. Last night? Before or after you texted me?”
“What do you mean? Why is that a question?”
“We kissed, like really kissed, and it freaked me out, so I texted you so I could talk to someone about it, but after we went to bed, I woke up with a migraine. He woke up too when he heard me throwing up, and he helped me through it. We got back to bed and then one thing led to another.”
He laid his head down on the counter for a few seconds before he looked up at his cousin. “You’re killing me, Jas. I’m not even thirty yet and you’re killing me.”
“It’s not that bad, is it?”
“Let me ask you something. If it weren’t bad, would you be sitting here, talking to me about it?”
She shook her head. “I guess not.”
Alex sighed and stared at her for a moment. “Do you have real feelings for him?”
“Just tell him.”
“What? No, I can’t.”
“Why the fuck not?” he asked. “You like him. He likes you. Just cut the crap with the fake B.S., and admit that you’re really dating, for real.”
Jasmine bit her lip as she considered his words. “You really think he likes me?”
His face was devoid of emotion as he asked, “Are you kidding me? He wouldn’t have suggested this if he didn’t have feelings for you. He’s been in love with you forever, whether or not he’d admit it.”
“You’re full of shit,” she said.
“Nope. In high school, when you were dating that dipshit, he was irrationally irritated by it and would constantly complain. I think he just didn’t realize why he was really upset by it,” Alex said.
The smile that spread across her face involuntarily elicited an eye roll from him, but she ignored it. “That’s just so weird.”
“Is it? You two idiots were so blinded by your bullshit that you didn’t realize you were in love with each other this whole time,” Alex said. “Just go tell him.”
“If not, then you just need to be careful. Either you tell him, or you break it off. I don’t want you to get hurt,” he said.
Jasmine nodded. “Yeah, you’re right.”
Alex nodded and then let out a big sigh as he made his way over to his liquor cabinet. “Damn it, Jas. It’s barely three in the afternoon and I need a drink. This is not good for me.”
“Pour me one, would you?”
As the week went on, Jasmine still couldn’t bring herself to talk to Leo. Sure, they texted all the time, and they kept up pretenses for their friends and family, but she still hadn’t gotten the courage to tell him her real feelings. Even at work, she was distracted, trying to come up with ways for her to tell him, but she was at a loss. She also was getting texts from Alex on a daily basis, which wasn’t helping anything.
>>> Alex: Have you told him yet?
>>> Jasmine: No
>>> Alex: Have you broken up with him yet?
>>> Jasmine: No
>>> Alex: You’re killing me, Jas. You’re killing your cousin
>>> Jasmine: How the hell do I even say it????
>>> Alex: Sleep with him, don’t sleep wiht him, I don’t care, just tell him that you don’t want it to be fake anymore
>>> Jasmine: Idk how
>>> Alex: “Leo, I like you. I don’t want this to be fake.”
>>> Jasmine: It’s not that easy
>>> Alex: Yes it is. You’re just a giant wuss
>>> Jasmine: You’re literally the WORST
>>> Alex: Just go to his place tonight and tell him
>>> Jasmine: Ugh fine
>>> Alex: You’re welcome
While she still had the courage, she texted Leo.
>>> Jasmine: Hey can I come over tonight?
>>> Leo: Yeah, sure! Hey, you remember the caterer from the wedding?
>>> Jasmine: Yeah why?
>>> Leo: She’s coming over today to show me some techniques. You could be my taster!
>>> Jasmine: Oh sure! But I did want to talk to you privately if possible
>>> Leo: Okay, well Natalie shouldn’t be over too late anyway. What time did you want to come over?
>>> Jasmine: After work, so around 6?
>>> Leo: Sounds good :) <3
>>> Jasmine: See you later!
As much as she hated that Natalie was going to be there, it was still a relief that she would finally be able to talk to him, which made the rest of her day go by more quickly. Sure, she was dealing with some patients nearing the end of their lives, but she was in a much more positive place than she was at the beginning of the day.
As she was helping an old woman with dementia, she apparently couldn’t stop smiling, which prompted the question, “What’s gotten you in such a good mood, dear?”
“I’m going to see my boyfriend tonight after work,” Jasmine said.
Esther sighed and stared off into the distance. “I remember when my Charles would court me. He always showed up on my doorstep with a bouquet of daisies, right up until the day he proposed and he brought roses instead.”
“That’s so sweet,” Jasmine said with a smile. “Sounds like he was a sweet man.”
“Yes, he was. But you know how men are, as soon as we were married, the romantic gestures stopped,” Esther said.
The older woman shrugged. “Well, he did fix up the house for me. But I wanted flowers.”
Jasmine laughed. “But he was taking care of you! That’s a good show of love, if you ask me.”
“Yes, you’re right. He loved me right up to the day he died.”
“Well, it sounds like you had a good man,” Jasmine said.
“He was all right,” Esther said with a wink. “Anyway, what are we doing here?”
“I’m helping you with your hospice paperwork, remember?”
Esther sighed and shook her head. “No, I don’t. Can I get you some tea, dear?”
They kept working through the paperwork for a few hours, and by the time they had finished, Jasmine was done for the day, and aside from dropping off the paperwork at her office, she was free to go straight to Leo’s apartment.
She knocked at the door and as she was waiting for the door to open, she heard female laughter inside. It was Natalie, no doubt, but Jasmine took that as her cue to let herself in, but she was met with an unwelcome sight: Leo pinned between the counter and Natalie’s shapely body. “Oh.”
“Oh, my god!” Natalie said, immediately removing herself from Leo’s space. “I didn’t- um, I’m so sorry. I’m- I’m the-”
Jasmine shook her head and said, “It’s fine. Leo’s single. I’m just- yeah. I’m going to go.”
“Wait, Min!” Leo said, maneuvering around Natalie and rushing towards Jasmine before she could shut the door. “This isn’t what it looks like.”
“What does it matter? We aren’t dating,” she said, her voice cold.
Leo sighed and reached out for her, but he pulled back when she flinched at his touch. “I wasn’t doing anything.”
“I didn’t know he was dating anyone,” Natalie said, attempting to defend herself.
Jasmine looked around Leo’s body and smiled at Natalie. “I’m not angry with you. You thought he was single, and he is. Just look out, he’s a liar.”
“Min, don’t,” Leo said softly.
She shook her head and walked out without saying anything, waiting for the elevator doors to shut behind her before she started crying and she pulled out her phone.
>>> Jasmine: It’s over
>>> Alex: Are you okay???
>>> Jasmine: No
>>> Alex: Come over
>>> Jasmine: Be there in 15
Once she got to her car, she sat in the driver’s seat and cried until her eyes were sore and would no longer produce tears. After some deep breathing, she was finally able to drive over to Alex’s, where she immediately burst into tears again when he opened the door.
“What the hell happened?” he asked, wrapping his arms around her in a hug.
“The caterer from the wedding. She was at his place, showing him some baking stuff, and she came onto him, and he was just enjoying himself, letting it happen until I got there,” she said, sobbing. “I don’t- I can’t-”
He shushed her and led her inside, where he poured her a stiff drink. “He’s an ass. Hell, I’m gonna beat his ass.”
She shook her head. “No, he can’t know that I told you anything.”
“But what are you going to tell people as the reason you broke up?”
Jasmine shrugged and started sniffling. “I don’t know. I just- I can’t think about it right now.”
As the night went on, Jasmine drank everything that Alex put in front of her until she fell asleep on his pull-out couch. Once she was asleep, he got a call from Leo.
“She’s there, isn’t she?” Leo asked, his voice clearly desperate.
Alex scoffed. “What the hell is wrong with you, man? I ought to kick your ass.”
Leo sighed and then muttered, “I know. You’re right. I deserve it.”
“Yeah, you do,” Alex agreed. “Now what do you want?”
“I just want to know if she’s okay.”
“No, she’s not okay. She’s been crying for hours.” Alex sighed and then asked, “What the hell happened, dude?”
“Natalie was there to teach me some baking strategies and frosting, whatever, and she was flirting with me pretty heavily, but I brushed it off because Min was supposed to get there soon and I figured that would be an easier let down, but then she pinned me up against the counter and I guess was going to kiss me, and that’s when Jasmine walked in. I don’t- I know it looked bad, and I get why she’s mad at me, but I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Do you actually even want Jasmine?” Alex asked.
Leo groaned. “Yes! I’m- I’m in love with her. Shit, I haven’t even said that to her.”
“Great going, asshole,” Alex said. “I don’t know what you were thinking, but I’m fairly certain that she’s not going to believe anything you say now.”
“So what am I supposed to do?”
“Give her space.”
Leo sighed and said, “Yeah, okay. How long do you think?”
“At least a few days.”
“Okay. Thanks, Alex. I- I don’t know what I’d do without you, man,” Leo said. “Do you think I have a chance?”
Alex shrugged, despite the fact that Leo couldn’t see him. “I don’t know. But considering how long you two have been doing this crap, if anyone has a chance, it’s you two.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just admit it, you’ve been in love with her for years.”
After a brief pause, Leo said, “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Exactly. Just give her time,” Alex said. “I’ll talk to you later, dude.”