Chapter Fourteen

If Jazz wasn't sure that Danny was keeping a close eye on her, she would have called Vlad the moment she returned home, but Danny lingered around her apartment and told her he was going to stay awhile, that he could afford to miss a few of his own classes in the interest of keeping his sister out of harms way. She knew she was going to have to be patient and wait for Danny to leave before venturing to see Vlad.

She hoped that he would forgive her, Vlad, not Danny. At the moment, Jazz didn't care so much what Danny thought, well that wasn't true, she loved Danny, she just didn't think he knew what was best for her.

Jazz took the break as an opportunity to call Vlad. She was waiting for him to answer when some sat down beside her. She looked up and into the face of Pete. She smiled at him shakily as she listened to the phone ring. Vlad's answering machine picked up and Jazz sighed heavily. She put the phone away and turned her attention to Pete.

"Hi Jazz," Pete said cheerfully. "Where were you all weekend? I tried to call and…"

Jazz looked at the boy thoughtfully. "I went home for the weekend," she told him.

"When did you leave?" Pete asked as he frowned and looked away thoughtfully.

"Saturday," Jazz answered. Peter shook his head like he was confused then smiled at Jazz.

"I need to get to class," Jazz told him as she picked up her book bag. Pete jumped up and opened his mouth then sighed. Jazz waited patiently for him to ask her out. She would turn him down and that would be the end of it.

"I'm having a hard time with Sociology," he started. "And I was wondering if maybe you'd meet me in the library later and help me study for the test." His expression was so full of hope that Jazz couldn't refuse.

"I'm free at four," she said, she was going to drive to Vlad's house and hoped he'd see her.

"Great!" Pete replied happily. "I'll meet you at the library entrance a little after four." Jazz nodded her head in agreement then told him good bye and walked away. She was aware that he kept his eyes on her until she was out of sight. Jazz wasn't sure if she was unnerved or flattered by his attention.

She stopped and slid her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed Vlad's number again. The answering machine picked up and she sighed, debating on if she should leave a message or let things go for now. Something in the pit of her stomach was bothering her, she decided it was just that she had made her decision and now she hoped he wouldn't turn her away.

Jazz was late to the library to meet with Pete. She'd almost forgotten, so she was a little late.

"I thought you were going to stand me up," he said as they sat together.

"I'm sorry," Jazz said. "I almost forgot. I've had a tough day." Pete just looked at her in dismay, and then he did his best to entertain her. Jazz relaxed a little. Pete made her comfortable and happy, but she couldn't see loving him, in fact she couldn't see loving anyone like she loved Vlad, she closed her eyes and sighed.

"What's wrong?" Pete asked as he put down his pen and watched Jazz's sad expression.

"It's nothing," Jazz answered as she shook her head.

Pete sighed and leaned his head on his hand. "It has to be something," he said as he watched her. "Or you wouldn't look so sad."

Jazz chewed on her lip a moment and debated on whether or not she should tell Pete any part of her situation. He would probably start asking questions she couldn't answer.

"Come on Jazz," he chided. "If anything I'm your friend. I'm not going to judge you or anything. You kinda look like you could use a friend right now."

Jazz sighed and looked into his eyes. He looked earnest enough. She cleared he throat and considered how she could word things.

"Last year," she began, and Pete leaned forward in interest. "I was involved with a friend of my parents"

"Did he break your heart?" Pete asked sadly as he took her hand. Jazz pulled her hand away and looked down uncomfortably.

"No," she answered. "The problem is that my family doesn't approve of him. He's old enough to be my father and…"

Pete sat back in his chair. "And you're in love with him," he stated.

"Yes," Jazz admitted. It felt very good to say it to someone. "I love him very much, but my family's right. He's not good for me…"

"Why?" Pete asked. "He's not a criminal or crazy psychopath is he?"

Jazz almost laughed. "Well, lets just say he's not really a very nice person," she told Pete. "But I bring out a good side in him. He loves me too…"

Pete sighed heavily. "Then you should be together. If you love each other, and he's not abusing you in some way, if he makes you happy, who cares what your family thinks. You have to live your life Jazz, not them."

"But it's so much more complicated than that," Jazz told him. "He and I just, shouldn't be together…But.."

"Jazz," Pete said tiredly. "You are really, really smart. So be smart and go after what you need."

"I don't know if I can," Jazz cried. Pete patted her back and shook his head.

"Jazz, I like you. Find out if things are going to work out with you and this guy. You owe it to yourself…and any guys you might date in the future."

Jazz looked at the sad look on Pete's face and frowned. "I'm so sorry," she said.

Pete smiled and shrugged his shoulders. "Hey, those are the breaks. I'm used to it."

He walked Jazz to her car and put out his hand. "Friends?" Pete asked.

"Sure," Jazz answered. Pete pulled her into a tight hug and Jazz returned the embrace reluctantly.

"If this guy doesn't work out," Pete told her. "Give me a call ok?"

"Okay," Jazz said softly. Pete smiled at her sadly, stuck his hands in his pockets and walked away.

Jazz started her car and was about to drive to Vlad's house when a voice beside her asked, "Who was that?"

She squeaked as her brother appeared beside her. "Danny!" she yelled. "Don't do that!"

"Sorry," Danny replied.

"Are you spying on me?" Jazz asked angrily. Now she couldn't go see Vlad. She was frustrated.

"I was just making sure you were okay," Danny said. "I called your cell phone, but there was no answer. I was worried."

Jazz pulled into the driveway of her apartment, turned of her car then looked at Danny and sighed. "I'm all right Danny," she told him. "Really."

Danny smiled at Jazz, then asked teasingly, "Who's the guy?"

"A friend." Jazz answered shortly.

"A boyfriend?" Danny asked almost hopefully.

"If I told you yes, would you leave me alone?" Jazz asked in irritation.

"Jazz," Danny started. "I just want to keep you safe."

She gripped the steering wheel tightly and closed her eyes. "Safe from who? Vlad?"

"Yes," Danny answered.

"I don't need you to," Jazz told him. "I don't need you spying on me or in my hair all the time. Danny, I need you to leave me alone!"

"And how do I know you're not going to go running to see Vlad?" Danny asked. Jazz put her head on the steering wheel. She didn't want to tell Danny that she had changed her mind…again, this time permanently. She was sure of what she wanted, but wanted to wait to talk to Vlad before informing anyone one else.

"Just go home, Danny," Jazz told him tiredly.

"Fine," Danny said. "If you need me…"

"I won't!" Jazz growled as she left the car and stalked into her apartment. Danny sighed then left Jazz alone, deciding it was better not to push her too far.

Jazz tried to call Vlad several times, but he never answered the phone. She left one message for him, to please contact her. She stopped by his house, but there was never an answer. She finally called the corporate office of Vladco., and was told that Vlad had instructions that no one should disturb him. She pulled rank and told the woman she was his wife, but the woman told her she had her orders.

She spent most nights in tears. Her grades began to suffer. She missed him desperately and felt like a fool for pushing him away. Jazz wondered if she had lost her mind, she needed help, but more than that she needed him.

Eventually she decided she was going to talk to Vlad, even if she had to camp out on his front step for the next week. She had to admit she was getting worried. Vlad had opened up to her, came to her for the first time instead of her having to chase him down, and she pushed him away, now she was worried that he'd close her out forever.

"Oh Vlad," she said as she sat on his door step and put her head in her hands. "What have I done?" What would she do if he wouldn't forgive her? What if he never consented to seeing her again? She didn't know if she could go on normally.

Jazz took a deep breath, scrubbed her face with her hands then turned and looked at the door. She gasped as she noticed the feet beside her. Italian leather loafers, black slacks. She looked all the way up and into the amused eyes of Vlad.

"Jasmine," he said as he raised his eyebrows in a curious expression.

"Vlad," She replied, trying not to smile. He cleared his throat and looked across the landscape.

"What are you doing here?" he asked coolly.

"Waiting for my husband," Jazz answered as she watched Vlad's face.

"Really?" he asked as he looked back down at Jazz, a small smile twitching at the corners of his mouth.

"Yes," Jazz answered. "And I'm afraid that I've really messed things up with him. I was stupid and confused, so I pushed him away when all he offered me was his love, and I'm scared I've lost him forever."

"Maybe you have," Vlad said as he put his hands behind his back and looked again across the landscape. Jazz blinked away the tears in her eyes.

"Do you think he can ever forgive me?" She asked shakily. Vlad sat down beside her and took a deep breath.

"I don't know, Jasmine," he began. "It depends on many things."

"What?" Jazz asked softly as she resisted the urge to touch him. He turned and looked at her, searching her face.

"Can you forgive me?" he asked as he took her hand. "My precious Jasmine?"

"For what?" Jazz questioned as she swallowed hard.

"Everything," Vlad said as he looked at her hand in his. "For kidnapping you, for drugging you, for letting you fall in love with me, for falling in love with you. Half of those are unforgivable offenses my love."

"I can forgive you," Jazz told him. "Just don't push me away." He pulled her into his arms and they both sighed as he held her, rocking her for awhile.

Vlad closed his eyes as he held Jazz. He'd been too busy to realize she'd been trying to reach him, he wished he'd known sooner, it would have saved them both so much suffering. He moved away and looked into her eyes.

"Why are you crying?" he asked softly as he wiped away her tears with his thumb.

"I'm not crying," Jazz answered as she sniffled. Vlad smiled then tilted her face so he could kiss her. She sighed against his lips as she wrapped her arms around him.

Vlad closed his eyes and tried to keep from trembling. He had questions to ask her, and he couldn't count on her not changing her mind and running away again until she answered them. There was the added threat of Danny and her parents. There was no way Jack, Maddie and Danny would accept that he was Jazz's choice.

"I love you," Jazz said as they pulled apart and she looked in to his eyes. He sighed heavily then looked away. Jazz swallowed hard as she reached around and freed his hair from the band that held it back. He gave her an amused look and she smiled hopefully at him.

"I love you too," He told her almost reluctantly, and she smiled in relief, then shivered as he ran his fingers, beneath her shirt and along her ribs.

"You'd think anything else was possible," He chided.

"I don't know," Jazz answered shakily, as she fanned his hair around his shoulders. "But your hair is longer than mine."

Vlad frowned as he reached up and ran his fingers through Jazz's short locks. "It's my fault," he told her. "If I hadn't been so selfish. If I hadn't kidnapped you. If I hadn't been trying to keep myself from being so deeply in love with you…"

Jazz put her hands on his lips and shook her head. "That's the past now," she told him as she ran her fingers through his hair again, smiling as he shivered.

"I can cut mine," he said huskily. "We'll be even."

"Don't you dare," Jazz told him fiercely. "I love your hair."

Vlad chuckled slightly as he pulled her into his lap. "I hadn't noticed," he told her dryly and she smiled happily as he submitted himself to Jazz's attentions. She sweetly caressed his face as though she was memorizing it, she ran her fingers through his hair, kissed his nose, tickled his goatee, smoothed his eyebrows, traced his ears and kissed him over and over again. Vlad didn't fight the warm feelings coursing through his heart as he would have before, but he understood now that Jasmine was his biggest weakness, there was no use fighting her anymore, he was hers.

"Is it okay if I come home?" she finally asked as she traced his jaw line with one fingertip. "I'm very homesick."

"I don't know," Vlad answered honestly. "We have a lot of complications to deal with, Sweetheart." Jazz groaned and buried her face in his neck.

"Can't we just run away?" she asked as her lips brushed against his skin, making him feel strangely giddy. "Let's go live in St. Tropez."

Vlad chuckled and tightened his arms around her, like he was afraid she was going to disappear. "I have a feeling they would hunt us down, even there," Vlad told her sadly.

"We'll go somewhere else," Jazz told him eagerly. "Anywhere."

"Do you really think you'd be happy abandoning your family, Jasmine?" Vlad asked gently. "I can't ask you to give them up." Jazz sighed in frustration.

"Then they're just going to have to accept that you're the person I want to be with."

"Perhaps," Vlad said thoughtfully. He knew he'd have to carry through with his plan to bring Danny down, it was the only way to keep the boy off his back, and hold on to the only person in the world he would ever love.

Jazz pressed her lips to his and he kissed her back passionately, eventually trailing kisses along her throat as she tilted her head back, whispering his name as she threaded her fingers through his hair. He eventually tore his lips away from her skin, then kissed her deeply before lifting her in his arms and carrying her into the house.

"Don't ever let me go," Jazz begged, and laid her head on his shoulders as he carried her up the stairs.

"Never again, woman," Vlad said fiercely.

The End