Authors: Salina Paine
"He's not be much younger than you," Brandon says. I nod, closing my eyes with a sigh. Brandon places his hand over mine and I smile.
"You're sweet." I say slowly opening my eyes to look at him.
"I try." he says running his thumb across my palm. Laying there just looking at him makes my heart thump loudly. Here I am a complete mess, scarred and bruised, being comforted by what could be the most beautiful man I've ever laid eyes on. I snicker to myself at the thought of telling him he's beautiful and he looks at me, eyes narrowed.
"What?" He asks.
"I was just thinking about you." I reply.
"What are thinking, about me?" He asks.
"Liar." he says jokingly, "If it is nothing then why are you blushing?"
A knock on the door startles me as the nurse comes in. "Hey, Jasmine. How are you feeling today?" She asks, while checking my IV.
"My whole midsection hurts." I reply trying try to sit up.
"Oh, honey, don't try to sit up by yourself." she says coming to help. As she raises the bed I feel a slight burning sensation but not as much pain. "I'll go get you some pain medication, ok?" She asks. I nod and draw in several shallow breaths while I adjust to sitting up.
"Are you going to tell me what you were thinking?" Brandon asks. I shake my head, grateful when the nurse comes back with some medicine.
The pain begins to subside quickly as she injects it into my IV and I'm feeling more relaxed by the time she leaves my room.
Brandon just looks at me waiting for me to answer his question. His phone begins to ring and he looks down at the screen. "I have to go." he says. "But I'll be back." Yawning loudly I nod and close my eyes as sleep finds me just moments after he's gone.
Bright light filters through the blinds as I open my eyes. I look over to my left and find Brandon passed out in the chair. His dark hair shimmers in the light and his eyes flutter as he dreams. The door slides open and Dr. Iverson walks in.
"My dear, you seem to be doing well." he says with a smile liking like relief.
"I'm better, thats for sure." I say back to him. Looking over towards the window, where Brandon is sound asleep, he smiles and shakes his head. He comes over and begins removing the bandages and looks me over.
"Well...it looks like you'll be able to go home in a couple days."
I smile at the thought of my own bed, but the joy is short lived. The fact I have nowhere to go and that Jeff, knowingly, will be waiting makes I shiver. Reality has just set in and my mind begins to race, making me unable to concentrate on what he is saying.
"Jasmine?" he says with concern in his voice.
"I'm sorry." I reply in a strained voice.
"Is everything ok?" All I can do is shake my head. "If you need someone to talk to I'm here, or I can get one of the nurses for you." He says.
"I-I-I have nothing... what I mean is when I leave here, I have nowhere to go." I reply as the tears come.
"Jasmine, you don't know, do you?" He asks.
"Know what?" I ask, confused.
"Well, it's really not my place to tell you but you have a room at the hotel across the street. All of your belongings are there."
"How?" I whisper. Dr. Iverson points over to Brandon. All I can do is look over at him, with my mouth hung open, stunned.
"I told you he was a good guy." Dr. Iverson says, as he turns to leave. With my heart beating fast I smile and feel relief for the first time since I've been here.
As I wake up I see Jasmine smiling widely at me and I instantly know why. "Iverson spilled the beans, didn't he?" I ask trying not to smile back.
"Yes, and I don't know how to thank you enough." she replies, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Don't worry about it. I just...I." I say, pausing unable to find the right words.
"You, what?" Jasmine asks. I just shake my head, afraid of her response to what I need to say. "Ok." she says, as if she knows the words I was try to say already. "And thank you."
Getting up I notice she's watching me. "What?" I ask, curiosity getting the better of me
"Nothing...well, um...You just look so cute when you sleep." She says looking down at her hands. A smile crosses my lips.
"Cute? That's what you think of me? Cute?" She nods not looking at me. "Thank you, I think." I say biting my lower lip. Jasmine looks at me and her soft brown eyes sparkle. Sitting beside her on the bed I laugh as I slowly put my arm around her. She flinches and looks at me with wide eyes unable to stop shaking. "It's ok." I whisper and pull her closer to me, being mindful of her injuries and wrap the blanket around us. She lays her head on my shoulder and closes her eyes.
I just watch her as she sleeps, memorizing every curve of her face. Thick dark lashes fringe her eyes against the ivory pallor of her skin. Even with the gash running down her face and deep purple bruising, she is beautiful. Closing my eyes I sync my breathing with hers and drift off to sleep, never wanting to leave.
Soft whispers wake me and I see Dr. Iverson and Amelia in the doorway. "Brandon." Amelia says, motioning me to come to them. I carefully move my arm, making sure not to disturb her and kiss her forehead. Realizing I have falling for this beautiful woman already
"What's up?" I ask closing the door behind me.
"She is doing well, and we are probably going to release her tomorrow." she says. "That's great news." I reply, "I'm sure some fresh air will do her good."
"Here's the catch, she's been in that bed a week so I need your help to get her up and moving around." Dr. Iverson says.
"I can do that, after she wakes up." He nods and pats my shoulder. "Oh yeah." I say before turning to go back in. "I know you told her." He smiles widely.
"That poor girl has been through so much and was worried, so I felt I had to give her some sort of comfort." He said with a smile. I smile back and shake his hand before opening the door. "O
, and I know you are freshly out of a relationship but don't let that be a reason to lose this one." He says as he walks away.
Jasmine is still sleeping so I sit on the stool beside the bed and just hold her hand. After a few minutes I feel her squeezing my hand. "Hi," she says with a yawn. "I have some good news for you. As it stands now you will be discharged tomorrow." The look on her face goes through a variety of emotions from joy to dread. "Better yet, Im off tomorrow so it looks like you'll be stuck with me." I say, waiting for her to speak.
"Thank you." She says after a moments pause, "I have the worst luck. If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any." Standing up I lean over to hug her. She wraps her arms
ightly around me as she kisses my cheek.
"Now you know what you just said, that's not true. You got me and I'm not from bad luck." I whisper. She smiles at me and hugs me again.
"Here's the deal, you want to break out of here right?"
"Yeah." She says with a sigh.
"Well... we've got to get you up and moving around." In that moment a fire unlike anything I've ever seen fills her eyes. She reaches out for me to pull her up. A painful grimace crosses her face as she stands up. After a few deep steady breaths she begins taking steps. Her balance is wobbly but she doesn't let that interfere. She walks confidently towards the door, me by her side in case she stumbles.
With each step she becomes sturdier. "You know what I want?" She asks.
"I have no idea." I reply.
"I want to take a shower. You think you could get that Ok'd for me?" She asks, batting her eyelashes.
"Yeah, I think I can do that for you." She walks back to the bed and sits while I run out to the nurses station. After finding Amelia I go back in the room, only to find her undressing. "Oh. I'm sorry." I say turning around to face the door.
"It's ok, no need for modesty at this point," she says with a shiver. "Could you do something for me?" She adds.
"Sure, what do you need?" I ask.
"Could you get me some clothes? I want to feel somewhat normal and these gowns just don't do it." She says pulling on the bulky hospital gown.
"Sure will. Amelia will be here momentarily and I'll be back soon."
Rushing over to her hotel room I notice I'm being watched. A man sitting in the large black truck, that just left out of Jasmines hotel room, quickly rolls up his window. Pulling out the key I open the door and step inside. Looking out the curtains I see the truck pulling away and take notice of the plate number. Once it leaves the parking lot I begin rummaging through Jasmines clothes. Eventually I find a pair of sweat pants, a t-shirt, and grab several pairs of underwear. I can't help but feel a bit embarrassed as I shove everything into a backpack I've found. I make it back over to the hospital before she is out of the shower.
Amelia is standing outside the bathroom door when I get to the room. I hold up the bag and hand it to her, she smiles slightly opening the bathroom door and sitting it inside. "Jasmine, your clothes are in there with you. Let me know if you need my help." Amelia says.
"Ok, thank you. Is Brandon still out there?" Jasmine asks from behind the bathroom door.
"Yep, he sure is." She said winking at me.
"Tell him I said thank you."
Amelia looks at me and smiles. "Why don't you go home and get some rest?" Amelia tells me.
"Yeah, I could use a little rest." I reply digging my keys out of my pocket. "Let her know I'll be back later, ok?" "Certainly," she says shooing me away.
My empty apartment is too quiet so I get up and head into the living room, flipping on the TV. Sitting there, channel surfing, I keep thinking about Jasmine. Even though I've only known her a week I feel some sort of strange connection to her. On the surface it feels like a rebound, but deep down it feels like more. I sit here pondering everything as the sun begins to trickle through the blinds. I honestly don't even know if I have even slept.
Standing up I stretch and gather my things to shower. Dressing quickly I look at the clock and notice it's only seven in the morning. Laughing at myself I put on a pot of coffee and have a cup before heading out to go see Jasmine at the hospital.
The shower felt great, but disappointment set in when I got out and heard Brandon had left. I've been sitting here in this bed all night unable to sleep. Deep down I know it's not right of me to wish him here so badly, but there is something about him I can't shake. I draw in a deep breath and close my eyes trying to figure everything out. A knock on the door brings me out of my thoughts and a huge smile crosses my face when he walks in.
"Good morning." He says handing me a cup of coffee.
"Oh my God, you must be psychic." I reply before taking a sip. The warm liquid feels so good sliding down my throat. "Thank you, I needed that." I say, smiling.
"Anytime." He says coming to sit by me. "How are you feeling today?"
"Better than I have been." I admit. He smiles and puts his arm around me bringing my face close to his.
"I see your stitches are gone." He says examining my face.
"Yeah, Amelia removed them last night."
He kisses my forehead, "You ready to blow this Popsicle stand?"
I nod. "Beyond ready."
"Well, let me go talk to Amelia and Dr. Iverson to see if the paperwork is almost ready." He says with a smirk.
The cool wind whips my hair around my face when I stop to breathe in some fresh air. Brandon pulls his truck around, opening the door for me. "It's just a short walk over there, you know." I say, climbing in carefully.
"Yeah but I can't have you falling down and getting hurt on my watch." He says reaching over me to buckle my seatbelt.
"I'm not completely helpless, you know that, right."
"Yes, I do know that, I was only trying to help." He says trying not to laugh at me. I roll my eyes and try to hide the smile threatening to cross my lips. In a few minutes we're sitting in front of my hotel room. Brandon hands me the key and walks me to the door. "Can you stay for a little while?" I ask before I even realize it.
"Sure." He says walking in behind me. The room is a bit bigger than my old one and the bright yellow paint covering the walls is cheerful.
"I didn't think you would want to go back to the other hotel."
"No. I didn't, but I have no idea how I can repay you for all this." I whisper.
"Like I said before, don't worry about it." He says carefully pinning me up against the wall. I smile looking up into his green eyes and kiss his cheek.
"Thank you." I say and he backs away from me. "Oh, here's my number." He says and hands me a small piece of paper. "I've got to run a few errands and I'll come back, ok?" I nod feeling like a gut wrenching blow has been landed on my heart. "One more thing." He says getting his keys off the table, "A big black truck was sitting outside when I came over to get your clothes, license plate V76LMP. Does that sound familiar?"
A surge of fear rushes through me and I begin to sweat. "Jasmine? Are you ok?" He asks as I begin to slide down the wall. I sit there a crumbling mess as tears begin to fall uncontrollably. "Is that who did this to you?" He asks me and all I can do is nod. "Jasmine, look at me." He says sitting next to me. "He won't hurt you again. Im telling you this now, and I mean it." He growls. Nodding I look away, the anger prevalent in his eyes frightening.
"You have my number if you need me. Do not hesitate to call me, I'll be less than ten minutes away."
He leaves and I lock the door, placing a chair under the knob. Turning on the TV I grab my phone and program his number onto speed dial. It's almost noon when he comes back and I'm still sitting there staring at the door when he knocks.
"It's me, Jasmine." Getting up I move the chair so I can open the door. He holds up a bag of fast food, that smells so good.
"Thought you might be hungry." He says smiling.
"Yes, please come in." Moving out of the way so he can come in I glance out at the parking lot. We sit and eat the food while talking and laughing. It was really nice.
For the next two weeks I'm in the hotel room, with Brandon or Austin with me always. I haven't gone back to work yet and I feel so guilty with Brandon spending all this money on me. Sneaking out for a bit, I find a newspaper and begin looking for an apartment.
I'm on the phone talking to the owner of a place I've found when Brandon gets here. He looks at me funny and sits my lunch on the table. "I'm looking for an apartment." I whisper. He nods and sits across from me. I finish my call and hang up with a sigh. "I think I found one." I say as I shove several french fries in my mouth.
"I was thinking, well, that maybe you'd like to come to my place for dinner?" He asked, rubbing the back of his neck.
"That sounds nice." I reply trying to control my enthusiasm.
"One more thing." He says opening the curtains, "Come look."
"What am I looking for?" I ask.
"I got your car out of impound this morning." He says. It takes every ounce of control I have not to jump into his arms and kiss him. I just look at him, no words will come. "Ok, I guess this is you happy?" He asks, with an unsure look on his face. I nod and stare out of the window. We finish our lunch with few words and it's time for him to go. "Six o'clock, sharp." He says handing me a piece of paper with directions to his apartment. I smile and hug him tightly, breathing in his alluring smell.
"I'll be there," I say already trying to figure out what I'm going to wear. He leaves me with my heart racing and more nervous than I have ever been.
It's a few minutes until six and I find myself outside his apartment, hesitant to knock on the door. I stand there staring at the numbers on the door in a trance like state thinking of all the things that could happen. A giggle coming from the doorway across the hall breaks my concentration and I look behind me seeing a couple clearly in love.
The sweet sounds of "I love you's" echoes down the corridor, and I find that these two make me jealous. I've never had a love like that and fear I never will after what I endured. My heart is scarred and walled up, guarded more heavily than Fort Knox. I don't know that anyone will ever be able to penetrate those walls again.
I reach my hand up to knock as the door swings open. Brandon is standing there in jeans and a tight t-shirt. I avert my eyes away quickly, trying not to stare. His dark hair is messily styled and his soft green eyes are bright in contrast to the dark hue of his lashes. "Hi," he says, stepping to the side so I can enter.
His apartment is definitely not what I had pictured. I smile at him and shake my head. "What?" He asks with a smirk.
"I thought. . . Well I assumed you were the typical bachelor. You know, messy and all." Brandon just laughs and places his hand on the small of my back, guiding me further in the house. I flinch at the contact and he sighs.
"I'm sorry, I should have been more thoughtful knowing how your last relationship was."
My mind goes into overdrive at that word "relationship". An overwhelming sense of panic washes over me. I breathe in deeply and ask, "So, what's for dinner? That is what you invited me over here for, is it not?"
His eyes grow wide at my matter if fact tone and he breaks into a fit of laughter. "Are you always so blunt and serious?"
"Pretty much. I've learned to just say what needs to be said and be done with it."
He just shakes his head and motions me to follow him. Upon entering the kitchen the aroma makes my mouth water.
"Thai?" I ask with a smile.
"Of course, I asked around work." He says rubbing the back of his neck with a hint of red coloring his cheeks.
I stifle my laughter. "That was very... thoughtful." I reply, genuinely impressed. He pulls out my chair so I sit and open the container in front of me. I close my eyes and breathe in the aroma. "This looks delicious, did you order from..."
"Tam," he says before I finish my sentence.
"My favorite," I reply.
"I know," he says with a wink.
After dinner he cleans up as I finish my tea and hit the restroom to freshen up. The think pink scar running down my jawline is a constant reminder of what men are capable of. Instantly I find myself building my walls back up. Trying to stop it is useless, as it's fed by fear.
He looks at me strangely as I walk out of the bathroom. "Are you ok?" He asks cautiously reaching for me. My first instinct is to step back but I hold my breath and let him take my hand, guiding me to the living room. "I was concerned, that's why I was outside the bathroom door." He says turning to face me. I smile and continue into the living room. He sits on the couch and I gingerly sit on the opposite end. "So tell me something about yourself I don't know," he says observing my reaction.
"Well." I reply thinking for a moment. "l have an unhealthy addiction to circus peanuts." The look on his face is priceless as he processes the ridiculous confession. Suddenly he starts laughing and scoots towards me, throwing his arm around me.
"You arent right." He whispers into my ear, his lips lightly feathering across my cheek. Feeling the warmth spreading throughout my body making me slightly dizzy. "Want to watch a movie?" He asks standing up. Watching him walk over to the entertainment center I can't help but look at his ass. He turns around seemingly able to feel my eyes on him. "Come on, help me pick one out." I hesitantly get up and join him, my eyes growing wide at the vast selection in front of me.
Taking a closer look I bite my top lip to keep from laughing like a lunatic, "Seriously? You own this?" I ask, pulling the movie from the cabinet.
"I know... I know what you're going to say." He stutters. "But it is NOT mine."
As I examine the case I notice it's a blu ray and a huge smile crosses my lips at the sheer thought of him watching sparkly vampires. "Sure..." I say popping open the case and placing the disc in the Blu-ray player.
Brandon groans playfully as I hit play. "You want some popcorn?" He asks.
"Absolutely. What's movie night without popcorn?" I reply sitting back down.
A couple of minutes into the movie he comes in taking a seat next to me, popcorn in hand. As I start to reach for a handful he stops me. "Nope, we have to establish rules first."
"Rules?" I ask narrowing my eyes.
"Yes, rules." He says, the serious look on his face making me giggle.
"Ok, what are these rules?"
He grabs the remote pausing the movie. "The first rule is no swooning. I know you might think these sparkly bastards are cute, hot, or whatever they are, but do not express this at any time I'm in the same room."
"Why---." I begin to ask and he cuts me off.
"Shhh...." He says bringing his finger to his lips. "Rule number two..." He continues. "Do not and I repeat, do not give running commentary. It's a movie, not a sporting event." Trying to keep my giggles at bay is becoming increasingly difficult with each rule. "Finally, rule number three. This one is of the utter most importance. If at any point you fall asleep, you must not drool on me." I sit there staring at him as I have no words, only laughter. "What's so funny?" He asks. All I can do is shake my head. "So, do you think you can follow these simple rules?" He asks keeping the popcorn just out of my reach.
"Following directions has never been a strong point for me, but I think these are doable." I replied with a smirk.
"Good!" He says handing me the popcorn. He presses play and puts his arm around me. Twenty minutes into the movie he starts making snoring noises and I elbow him in his ribs causing him to jump sending his soda flying all over him.
"Well damn." He says with a laugh. "I guess I deserve this."
"I'm so sorry," I reply grabbing a tissue to try and dry it off.
"Oh, don't worry about it. It's just a t-shirt, but I do need to change it." He says with a smile. He begins to pull off his shirt a pauses. "I have a few tattoos, so don't freak out."
I sit there holding my breath as he takes off his shirt and then can't help but gasp. Not only at the sight of him shirtless but at the size of the tattoo sitting between his shoulder blades all the way down his back.
"What?" He asks.
"When you said tattoos, I was thinking they would be a bit smaller, but this one alone almost covers your whole back. I never would have pictured you as a tatted up bad boy." I say covering the blush now burning my cheeks. He turns his head to look at me and my whole body reacts to the wicked grin on his face. I slowly reach up to touch it and pull my hand back.
"You can touch it." He says with a smirk. The contact of my fingers to his skin makes him shiver.
"Is this a Caduceus?" I ask.
"Yeah, just modified." He says, voice strained.
I slowly trace the contours taking in every detail of the artwork in front of me. As I make a second pass over the middle of the tattoo he shivers again.
"You keep that up and you just may find out just how much of a bad boy I really can be." He said winking at me.
I feel the heat radiating off my cheeks as he turns to me and pulls me into him. All I can say is "Oh".
"My, what a lovely shade of red your face has turned." He says looking down at me trying to stifle laughter. I pull away and cover my face with my hands. "Now why did you do that? It is really cute, and quite a turn on." He said with that wicked grin once again crossing his lips. I look up into his soft green eyes and just smile, red cheeked and all. He shakes his head and laughs as he kisses my forehead. "Surely you've seen a man without his shirt before."