Through

I was never sure about unconditional love when you're a teenager, not for someone that isn't a family member or close friend, but I got proved wrong. Apparently you can have unconditional love for someone who you've only known for a month, the kind of love that won't fade through anything, even if you want it to.

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8. Eight

I'm about to go join my family for breakfast the next morning but I hover for a moment when I hear my name come up in their conversation. 

"But if we tell her she can't go and spend all her time with him she's just going to think we're horrible and not spend time with us anyway." I hear Mom say. 

"She's a reasonable girl-"

"Not when it comes to boys! Do you remember when we wouldn't let her go out with that Charlie guy a couple of years back?" 

"She'll understand. We're not going to forbid her from seeing Jack or anything, we'll just say that we want to spend the day with her today."

I awkwardly step into the room. "Loud and clear guys."

Nat sighs. "Jasmine, don't feel like we were talking about you behind your back-"

"You kind of were." I frown at her. 

"Nothing bad!" my mom jumps in.

"I'm not a reasonable girl?" I raise an eyebrow.

"When it comes to boys!"

"That was two years ago!" I argue, trying not to raise my voice. "Look, all you had to do was ask me to spend the day with you. You didn't have to talk about me behind my back like I'm some troublesome child. I'm not twelve years old."

I storm out, slamming the door behind me. I immediately feel bad. We're on vacation, we were meant to have a nice time as a family and I've just ruined it by being a brat yet again. But it's not like I had no reason to. I wasn't mad because they wanted to spend the day with me, I'm mad because they treat me like some bomb that's about to go off at any second. Which I guess I just did. Still, they need to stop treating me like a child. 

"You're by yourself again?" Jack's suddenly walking beside me, an amused smile on his face. "Are you sure your family are even on this trip?"

I laugh. "We got into a fight."

He shakes his head. "Being a brat again?" 

I hit his arm but smile. "Maybe. But only because they were treating me like one."

"Way to prove them wrong." 

"Stop!" I say but I can't help laughing. "Do I go apologise now then?"

"Yep. Off you go." he nudges me back towards the cabins. 

So I sheepishly walk back inside where they both stop in the middle of their conversation and stare at me, shocked. I've never apologised this fast. 

"I'm sorry." I say. "I overreacted. You're right, I should be spending more time with you because this is a family vacation. I hope you understand that the way you talked about me was hurtful but I shouldn't have reacted in the way I did."

They both stare at me shocked still. I'm shocked with myself. Usually I just mumble a sorry and sulk in my room. 

"We're sorry too." Mom says, pulling me into a hug. "We should have trusted you more."

"It's okay." I tell her. 

We do end up spending the day together. We go on a hike and get some lunch in a little village that's nearby and do some activities on the ranch and it occurs to me that I'm not spending time with them because I have to, I genuinely enjoy it. It's hard to know how well we get along when we're back home but it's so much more obvious here. Plus, Dad wouldn't want us to fight. 

We get dinner at the restaurant and my mom smiles all knowingly at me at one point.

"Does Jack know we had a fight this morning?" 

I frown. "Yeah, why?"

"Because he keeps looking over at you like he wants to come over but is way too scared."

I laugh, resisting turning around. "I'm sure he isn't."

"I think he might have a bit of a crush on you." Natalie says and I roll my eyes.

"You guys need to stop. I'm going to get a drink." I get up and as I walk past Jack's table, he leans back on his chair. 

"Jasmine." he smiles. "You and your family made up then?"

"Yeah." I laugh a little and look to all his family. There's Cassie who's staring intently at her plate rather than looking at me like everyone else. There's a man and a woman who must be his aunt and uncle who own the place, two younger girls who will be his sisters and the most adorable little boy.

"Oh, guys, this is Jasmine. Jasmine, this is my Aunt Jennifer, Uncle Leo, Hannah, Lilly, you know Cassie and Tommy." he introduces us quickly before turning back to look at me. "You wouldn't want to do something tonight would you? If that'd be cool with your family."

I look back at Nat and Mom who immediately look away like they weren't watching us. 

"Yeah, I think they'd be fine with it." I smile. "What did you have in mind?"

"Uh..." he thinks. "Well dinner's covered but there's a cool diner in the city, we could just go and get milkshakes or something, if you don't mind the drive."

"No, that sounds cool."

He grins. "Now?" 

"Yeah, let me grab my stuff." I grin back. 

He follows me over to my table and says hello to my family while I grab my stuff. He's sweet, asking if it's okay and of course they say it is. They look all fond of him which I like to see. 

"We won't be late." he promises as we leave. 

"Don't worry about it!" Mom calls after us.

*

Mom said not to worry about being too late so I make sure we don't. I want to spend as much time with him as possible right now. It's weird being with him because he kind of feels like a friend and kind of feels like a complete stranger, but not in an uncomfortable way, just in the way that I want to learn more.

And I know it sounds dumb but this whole thing feels grown up. It sounds like the dumbest thing ever but it just feels freeing in a way to drive around in his car with him and be out quite late with him. I just like the way it feels to be around him. He's actually interested in what I have to say and finds me funny and I think the same about him. It's just that spark of being around this guy I like. No sixteen year old girl can not feel like this in this situation.

"So." he says when we sit down at the diner with our drinks. 

I smile, amused. "So."

"I'm kind of curious about some things." he tells me. "I just don't know if it'd be rude to ask."

"Ask away." I sip my drink.

"I was just wondering about your family. You live with your aunt and mom back home?"

"Yeah, it's just us." I say. I know he's wondering about my dad and usually I'm reluctant to talk about it but I feel comfortable talking about it with Jack for some reason. 

"What about... I was just wondering-"

"About my dad?" I smile to try and stop him from being so nervous. He smiles too and nods, a little embarrassed. "My dad died when I was nine, in a car accident."

He frowns. "Jasmine, I'm sorry."

"It's fine, don't worry." I assure him. "I don't mind talking about it now. It was so long ago."

"You were only nine?" he shakes his head. "That's unbelievably young, like I don't know what I'd do now if anything happened to one of my parents. How did you even deal with it all?"

I shrug. "I just don't think I really understood it. Obviously it was heartbreaking but I almost feel like it would be worse now, like I have more of a concept of death and everything now."

"I get that." he nods. "I'm really sorry Jasmine."

I smile, shaking my head. "Don't be silly. It's not your fault."

He chuckles. "I suppose not."

We stay there for a really long time, talking more about my dad and my childhood and we talk about his too. He grew up in Knoxville which is where he still lives now when it's not the summer. His childhood sounds amazing, just happy, he spent a lot of time outdoors and has a big family. I'm a little envious. I always wanted a childhood like that but I was an only child and we lived in the city. I like knowing that he had a childhood like that though, it adds to his personality. He just seems so good and so pure, not like half of the guys I know.

We get back to the ranch at about ten pm but I don't feel like going to bed and this night being over yet. I'm enjoying being around him too much.

"Do you want to go for a walk?" I ask him when we get out of his car. 

He smiles, curious. "A walk?"

"Yeah." I smile back.

"Jasmine, it's ten at night, you should get back."

"My family said don't worry." I remind him. "Please?"

He laughs. "Fine."

He shows me this nice route alongside the river. It's honestly like something out of a fairy tale. The water's really clear and even though it's dark I can tell how blue it is. The moon is so bright it's lighting up our walk and there are trees all around us. We walk along the river bank for a little while before he takes his checked shirt from over his t-shirt and lays it on the ground.

"Your seat, ma'am." he says and I laugh, sitting down and making sure there's enough room for him too. "So. Tell me more. We've covered your general life story, I want to know the little things now.

I frown but I'm laughing at him too. "Like what?"

"Just little details!" he says. "You know. Favourite things, cats or dogs, everything like that."

"Well." I ponder. "I enjoy cities more than the countryside. No offence."

"I'm wounded but continue."

"I'm a dog person."

"Good. That could have been a deal breaker."

"My favourite grade in school so far was tenth."

"Interesting choice."

"My best friends are called Millie and Jake."

"Millie and Jake sound like good people."

"If I could be any mythical creature I'd definitely be a demigod." I roll my eyes at him. "I feel this is all pointless information. Why do you want to know this stuff?"

He shrugs. "I'm interested."

"Well I'm interested too." I tell him, leaning a little closer without even trying. "Tell me your little details." 

"I like the countryside over cities." he says, a smile on his face. He's had a smile on his face this whole time which makes me want to stay here forever. "I'm also a dog person. My favourite time in school was when I was a sophomore. My best friends are called Taylor and Logan. If I could be any mythical creature I'd obviously be a merman."

"Good to know." I say and he chuckles. We grow quiet and he's looking at me in a way that nobody's ever looked at me before. He looks like he's thinking hard but he's relaxed too and his eyes keep flickering to my lips and back up to my eyes. There's a moment where I'm sure something's going to happen but he turns his head away and I try not to feel disappointed or hurt and I'm not really. Maybe it's not going to happen right now, maybe it's never going to happen but somehow in this moment I don't mind.

He walks me back to the cabin and we say goodbye and I feel surprisingly light. Usually when I like a guy I'm stressed about it and worried but not with him. 

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